If you’ve been reading along for the last week you’ve probably noticed that I posted reviews of the four releases of Tomatin Cuatro (Fino, Manzanilla, Oloroso and PX). Of these I liked the PX release the best. Though I didn’t dislike any of the others, I didn’t find them to be particularly distinctive. I didn’t find the Fino and Manzanilla to be particularly sherried either, for that matter, in the way that we normally think of sherried whisky. It could be argued, however, that their dry, yeasty qualities might well be expressing the character of Fino and Manzanilla sherry quite well. The Oloroso and especially the PX casks were more in line with what whisky drinkers expect when they see the words “sherry matured/finished”. But because Tomatin does not clarify the kind of wood these casks were made of, it’s not clear if the greater stereotypical sherry influence of these two releases is down to the type of sherries these casks previously held or if it’s because these two releases had their second maturation in European oak while the other two were re-racked into American oak casks after the first nine years. Without this information it’s a little hard to come to any meaningful conclusions about the effect of aging in casks that had previously held different types of sherry. Continue reading
This is the third, and probably last for a while, of my reviews of easily found mass market blends (see here for the Black Label, which I liked a lot, and here for the Famous Grouse, which I did not like a lot). Unlike the Black Label and the Famous Grouse, I have never previously tasted the Dewar’s White Label (unless I have and have suppressed the memory). Owned by Bacardi, this White Label is claimed by them to be the top-selling blended Scotch whisky in the US. Then again, the Famous Grouse is claimed to be the top-selling blend in Scotland.
The group’s premier distillery is Aberfeldy and their malt is said to be the cornerstone of all their blends. I’ve not had much Aberfeldy before either so that doesn’t really create any particular expectations for me. I’ve also never tried the age stated Dewar’s blends—I believe there’s a 12 yo, a 15 yo and an 18 yo. If you do know those and would recommend them please write in below. Continue reading
So, my first blending experiment with the Balcones Brimstone that I despise (Batch BRM 11-10) worked out really well. Mixing half an ounce of the Brimstone with one ounce of the Longmorn 16 took out the most offensive raw wood notes of the Brimstone and mellowed it out nicely. Of course, I’m not stopping there (and not just because my Longmorn 16 is much closer to the end than my Brimstone). The goal tonight is to add more citrus/acid fruit to the blend and also some phenols.
As I type this I have a large’ish stack of papers to grade in less than 48 hours and a review to complete that was originally due to a journal seven months ago. Therefore, I am naturally engaged instead in messing around with the nastiest whisky I’ve had in recent memory: the Balcones Brimstone. Tonight I blend it with an inoffensive and very different whisky: the Longmorn 16, a gentle Speysider from Scotland. Let’s see if anything good comes of it, and if a terrible whisky and a middling whisky can add up to a more palatable whole than the sum of their parts..
(If you don’t home-blend/vat, by the way, you absolutely should. It’s both a way of potentially rescuing bad or dull malts, and a way of making interesting whiskies out of malts you already love. My friends, who are generally averse to saying anything nice about me, will tell you that some of my Frankenmalt experiments have been very good.)