This is a blended whiskey from Firestone & Roberts in Fort Worth that is probably more known for their bottle caps made with old boot leather than for their whiskey. Let me get my spurs on before tasting this one (yes, I really do have some). Now let’s see if I can stay on for 8 seconds.
The color is medium amber. The aroma is bold with sweetness, wood and spice. Really nice vanilla, caramel, dried corn cob, candied fruit and honey. There’s not a lot of complexity, but lots to enjoy nonetheless. After a while I get a bit of old wooden box and black cherries, too.
The first taste is somewhat resinous, but still spicy and sweet. The wood tannins are prominent (i.e. young whiskey), but nothing objectionable. Additional sips reveal the expected vanilla and caramel while the woody characteristics linger. There’s a bit of lemon, bitter honey and ginger as well. Once the sweetness fades, there’s a leathery spicy wood finish that lingers nicely. It’s a sequence of sweet, tangy, spicy then woody. The sweetness seems to build (in duration, not intensity) and begins to linger into the finish more and more. By the time I’m finished, I’m left with a definite taste of cocoa powder against the backdrop of the other flavors. It’s an interesting collection of flavors.
I like this stuff because its interesting and easy to drink. This could easily satisfy the coke and bourbon crowd while giving the whiskey aficionado something to explore. Another winner for the value conscious buyer, in my opinion. In the price range, there’s lots of competition (e.g. Evan Williams Single Barrel, Eagle Rare 10 and Weller 12 to name a few), but this is fun enough to try for some variety. Make sure you pick out a good cap, too!
Many thanks to Mark E. for the sample. He describes this whiskey as having “one note, but a very good note.” I’m not sure that this statement doesn’t sell it short, but I know what he’s getting at and I agree.
Islay Single Malt, 10 Years, 46% ABV, $50
With this tasting, I’ve caught up with my advent schedule. This is the entry-level unpeated offering from Bruichladdich and one that I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about.
The Laddie Ten pours golden yellow. Although unpeated, it’s got a definite briny smoke on the nose along with the sweetness of vanilla and honey. It’s a pleasure to sniff the lightly smoky sweet aroma and pick out the fresh cut grass, spicy ginger and pepper, fruity plum and pear with a nice balance between all of them. You still get an image of a grassy island surrounded by seawater.
Moving on to the taste, it’s distinctly Islay with less brine than the nose would suggest, but the sweetness remains: apple, vanilla, honey and sweet lemon. There’s also the mild woody smoke as well as white pepper that carry through to the finish, which is long and mostly dry, woody and leathery after the last of the tart fruits fade.
This is a mild Islay and not at all like the oily experience of a Laphroaig, Ardbeg or Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte offerings. It makes for a good introduction to the style because it has plenty of characteristic Islay attributes without the intensity that Islay lovers adore. Give it a try!
Speyside Single Malt, 12 Years, 40% ABV, $40
The second whisky is Balvenie’s 12 Year Old Doublewood (there’s also a 17 Year Old now). I’ve had a taste of this before, but I can really spend some time with it this time. Over the aging span this whisky is first put in ex-bourbon casks, then transferred to first-fill Oloroso sherry casks for the remainder of the time (they don’t indicate how long in each).
The color is golden and it’s got a sweet grassy smell with notes of pear, apple, bitter orange, straw, burnt sugar, ginger, green pepper and a hint of smoke. I’m enjoying inhaling this one.
The first sip confirms the fruits and ginger while adding a good bit of peppery spice at the end. There’s also a woody finish with a hint of white pepper. As I continue to sip, flavors of vanilla, honey, orange, plum, pear, apple and ginger develop. The finish becomes a bit sweeter with notes of burnt sugar, but is still mostly bitter wood and mildly hot. The sherry influence becomes more evident after a while but continues to be balanced by a dry tannins and spices. It improves mildly with each sip and keeps me interested and hunting for other flavors. Just a drop or two of water opens up the flavors, but I wouldn’t add more than that. It’s just fine straight and loses just a bit of spicy bite with the water.
This is a very good whisky that I would enjoy again for sure. I think its a good value too at $40. Oh, and thanks to Gene for the sample.
Blend, No Age Statement, 40% ABV, $12
I’m already a day behind as this is yesterday’s whisky! This is an exclusive bargain offering from Total Wine & More that a friend of mine discovered. He also gave me a sample to share with my son in order to save him some money (thanks, Mark!).
I detect charred wood, straw, clover, mild cocoa and honey on the nose. I’m searching for fruits, but I’m coming up empty. Delving deeper I detect a bit of grassiness and a hint of bell pepper. After a bit more time, I notice the faintest bit of white pepper.
The taste is definitely grainy and thin with a bit of spice on the finish that lingers for a good while. Up front I taste vanilla, straw, honey, dry cocoa, green pepper and green apple. There’s a brief transition to sappy wood with a note of apple before a mildly woody and spicy finish. The spices are mostly white and black pepper with the wood showing no signs of leathery taste. When it’s all said and done, the wood is what remains with a slightly grainy taste.
This is the cheapest Scotch blend I’ve had, but definitely not the worst. It’s simple and only mildly interesting, but it works fairly well. This is a true bargain in every sense of the word, but it’s not enough to hold my attention. The most objectionable aspect is the green flavor presented by the green pepper (detecting more of it now as in the nose) and the white pepper, which is not a favorite with me. If the flavor profile interests you and you’re looking for something cheap, then I can recommend this one.
Last year I was introduced to the concept of a whisky advent calendar by my friend, Gene, and the folks at Master of Malt. Today, I decided to build my own custom version using samples that I’ve collected over the past year. I’ve come up a bit short, so I’ll supplement a few from my open bottles that haven’t been formally tasted yet. The collection includes, Scotch from most regions, bourbon, rye, rum, brandy, grappa and mezcal. I know that this ventures a bit beyond whiskey, but that just makes the journey more interesting. I’m using a somewhat arbitrary order while saving a few of the premium offerings for last. I’m looking forward to it and I hope you enjoy it, too.
Tonight, I attended a tasting of the Springbank product line hosted by Spec’s Dallas location at Walnut Hill and US75. Randal Watson from the Springbank Distillery presented each of the whiskys. Here’s the lineup with some brief notes:
- Springbank 10 Year Old – $43
- Springbank 18 Year Old – $130
- Springbank 12 Year Old Cask Strength Calvados Expression – $90
- Longrow 10 Year Old – $50
- Longrow Red 11 Year Old Cabernet Sauvignon Finish – $80
The best pour of the night was the Springbank 18 Year Old, but the most intriguing for me was the Longrow Red. The wine finish of the latter really worked well and I’ve learned that there’s an offering with an Australian Shiraz Finish as well. The Calvados Expression was better than I remembered and definitely worth a mention as was the Longrow 10 Year Old, which is one of the best entry-level offerings that I’ve had.
Bourbon, 11 Years,
63.7% ABV, $90
A very generous friend shared a pour of this rare whiskey with me today. It’s an 11 Year Old whiskey with notes of cocoa and tobacco with an evident wood character. That’s about all of the detail that I could get in the brief tasting, but it was generally impressive with good chewy mouth feel and only moderate burn at 127.4°. I wish that I could spend more time with this one or any of the other older editions from this collection. I have a bottle of the 6th Edition Blend of Mashbills (batch #4) and passed on the 7th Edition Promise of Hope, which is still available.