Bushmills 10 Year Old Single Malt

I have had a remarkably productive weekend, for me.  Yesterday I worked my second job for 8 hours, which means that I read a Nabokov book. After that I went out and replaced my phone, which had been broken for several months, and had a nice dinner with family.  Then I came home and enjoyed some fine beverages and Netflix programming while setting up said phone.  Today I woke up at the crack of 11, went out for breakfast with the family, and cleaned my bedroom top to bottom.  I then drank some beer, made some banana bread, took a hot bath and beat the Indianapolis Colts 45 to 7.  Wait, was that not me?  Well without that it looks like I just kicked back, ate too much and took care of a few things.  Well bollocks, I’ve earned a reward for all that anyways.  My reward tonight?  See title.

Let’s flash back some four or so years—a young man is turning 21.  Said young man may, and this is not an admission of guilt (you can prove nothing,) have been known to have a premature fondness for the brown spirits.  At that time, this young nameless man was in the practice of keeping on hand a bottle of bourbon, a bottle of Irish and a bottle of cognac about, finance permitting.  So, come this young man’s 21st birthday, a generous benefactor / my father’s girlfriend, gave said young man a bottle of the title spirit—Bushmills 10 year Single Malt.  It was wondrous, eye opening even, for a fella who was used to your standard Irish blends.  That bottle was a revered treat, saved only to start a special night—one that more than likely involved listening to Bob Dylan and contributing nothing to society.  I…ehhhmmm…our anonymous subject, received a different kind of education alongside his college studies.  For some reason (read: college debt) this young man never bought another bottle of that sweet nectar, and yet has continued (I’m an omnipotent 3rd person narrator) to remember it fondly.

Well, that young man still has not bought another bottle of that sweet stuff—but my dad has.  And for the sake of that young man, so innocent and lost, let me steal a dram off my old man, and pour it out in his honor.  Right down my gullet.  Without further dudes, let me imbibe of this wee borrowed dram, and catch a couple notes.

New camera is gunna step up my photogue game

New camera is gunna step up my photogue game

From the nose I find some lovely light orange oil notes, with a very complementary dose of clove and some floating vanilla notes, to really tie the room together.  Once you sip of that golden sunshine, oh lawdy lawd—soft honey washes into miles of smooth vanilla floating on streams of chocolate milk which leave, yet linger and somehow leaves you feeling as though your palette is cleansed.  It’s lovely, almost…poetic…

In County Antrim did Sir Thomas Phillipps
a stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Bush, the sacred river, ran
Through stills measureless to man,
Down to sweet whiskey.

Just one dram, and you too can rip off Samuel Taylor Coleridge! Anyways, this is truly a beautifully subtle whiskey, and a perfect introduction into the world of Irish Single Malts—one that you will be likely to remember fondly, as did our young protagonist for he on honey-dew hath fed, and drunk the milk of Paradise.

 

Tomatin 12 Year Single Malt

I’d like to start this evening by stating that I hope all you disloyal readers had a great Thanksgiving.  I’d like to give thanks to the people of Hydro Quebec who brought power back to New Hampshire.  Because of you bastards I’ve had to work all week.  On the plus side I had a great Thanksgiving, because in spite of not having power from Wednesday to Saturday last week I have a bully good time reading, playing guitar, stoking the woodstove and drinking Wild Turkey (the only turkey I had on a powerless veggie burger’s giving.)

Now to the business at hand; drinkin’ scotch. Tonight seems as good as any for taking a Scotch geography lesson, so I’m going to brush up and pontificate.  See, my pupils, Scotch, made in…Scotland—you morons—comes from several regions around the country, each renown for certain characteristics imparted by their “terroir.” Terroir is frenchy for the effect of earth, climate and straight environmental magic that plays into booze.  The regions for Scotch can be broken down most simply as Lowland, Highland, Speyside and Island (Islay and Skye subregions.)  The islands, think Ron Swanson’s Lagavulin, are all peat smoke and sea brine.  Speyside you get a bit of light brine and crisp fruity notes alongside your classic scotch malt and vanilla.  The lowlands are known for being more representative of the grains and can be light, floral, even grassy.  The highlands, well, that’s where our palate visits tonight…*

Tomatin, the sponser of tonight’s program is a Scotch distillery established in 1897.  That’s about all I know, and I’m not going to do more research.  You have google, do your own goddamn footwork.   I’m going to be honest, if there was going to be an angle to this article, this is where I would be putting it.  Probably would have something to do with Sean Connery, Highlander, and how “there can only be one.”  I don’t have one, so I’m just going to drink this scotch and give you some notes, because highlander don’t spit no bull.

Tomatin

On the nose Tomatin 12 is full of vanilla, very round malt notes, a bit of honey, and something a bit like some tart fruit, maybe Lychee? The nose doesn’t tell the full story of what hides in my glass.  The mouth of this opens up quite well, with a fair share that honey that rolls over the palate, and a bit of pear, and a world of grain.  There is one note that hangs out a bit like musty hay that perhaps comes from the environment, perhaps from the barrel, but doesn’t detract much from a nice warm and delicate mouthfeel. Likewise that finish leaves with perhaps even more lingering ethereally over the tongue with warm vanilla, the tiniest bit of spice and a pie of chest hair.  Shit wait, that’s Connery again.  That note was something like a granny smith apple after taste, tad tart, plenty delicious.

On the whole I find Tomatin’s 12 year old single malt a quite pleasant experience, the more so because it doesn’t cost you any more than a bottle of blended Famous Grouse. While there were some notes we’ll refer to as…unique…I feel as though this Tomatin 12 year, as a “young” single malt (you’d get the Mann Act for this,) is a nice entry for the brand, and shows quite a lot of promise for the older vintages available; and at that price, you’re doing quite well for yourself.  Verdict?  In the wide world of Scotch there are bargain single malts, and there are bargain single malts worth drinking.  This is the latter.

*Disclaimer, this is probably all bullshit, I don’t generally drink much scotch, so I’m basically being a scotch racist.

Review: Knappogue Castle 12 year Single Malt Irish Whiskey or Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Floating Cork

Knappogue Castle lies abounding the verdant hillsides of County Clare Ireland.  The great stone walls darken by the year with the thickening centuries of lichen.  Built in 1467 the castle has survived centuries of war, rebellion and rolling fog.  Behind the exterior of this imposing structure is a thin layer of paper, beneath that, robust glass. At the center, the keep.  Whiskey.  Bobbing in this goldenrod liquid? A chunk of cork, and debris from the great disaster that lay it there—but alas! How?  What evil has fallen upon this noble kingdom?!  Okay, the title is misleading—there is no mystery.  My dad came into the living room laughing the other night, stating that he went to pour himself a glass and nothing happened.  The cork broke off into the neck of the bottle and, desperate, he resorted to stranding our little friend for eternity into the bottle.  Sorry for the dramatic vignette, but I needed something to fatten this review up. Back to the point…

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See the broken cork?

The whiskey.  Knappogue Castle 12 year single malt, Irish.  The title wasn’t completely misleading.  Price? $25, on sale.  Knappogue Castle isn’t one of your bigger selling Irish whiskies like the Jameson you probably shot down at some pub (whose price has been skyrocketing in recent years).  Knappogue, however, should not be overlooked.  Colored, and flavored, by 12 years in Bourbon barrels Knappogue develops a pale golden hue and highlighted by light vanilla flavors, strong lemon notes and a certain pleasant grassiness.  I guess that makes it lemongrass?  On the finish the tame 80 proof limits Knappogue’s burn to a slight warmth that adheres to the tongue and leaves you with just a hint of the robust charred interior of the barrel, which a sparking flicker of burn intrigues the upper throat. This is certainly pleasant, smooth and interesting Irish Whiskey.  In fact, buck for bloody buck, I’d say this is the best buy Irish Whiskey.  It’s 12 years aged, single malt, deliciousness is just a buck or two more than the simple and sweet Jameson, and makes each sip so much more interesting.  So what am I saying?  I’m saying St. Shitfaced…I mean St. Patrick’s day, is coming up  and you damn well better be drinking Irish.  So why not drink better Irish?

Deanston Virgin Oak: Or the Legend of the million pound IRN BRU

When I went to the liquoría this evening I was met with a rare conundrum. I didn’t actually need anything.  I’ve got plenty of bourbon around, so I had free reign.  I was debating buying an Irish whiskey, a cognac, or, dare I say, a scotch.  Yes, I’ve said often in the past that I don’t drink scotch but after the Glenlivet Nàdurra I reviewed not long ago I haven’t been as averse to scotch.  I still think it’s overrated and overpriced but, in the end, I convinced myself to take a chance.  I bought the scotch.  What drew me to the Deanston was quite simple—I’d never heard of it, it was affordable, and it stated on the box that it was un-chill filtered.  Chill filtering takes out a lot of the wood oils from whiskey, and I wanted those oils.  Additionally it seemed bold to leave all the oils in from the fresh American oak (coopered and charred at the heart of bourbon country) they used.  I’ll also admit I was a little afraid.  In my experience scotch around the $20 price point is at best mediocre.  This didn’t even have an age statement on it.  So, for $24 I became the somewhat skeptical owner of a bottle of Deanston Virgin Oak.

This story took a strange turn about 4 hours later.  My family decided we’d watch a film on the Netflix, and I became drawn to a film called The Angel’s Share.  If you’re wondering why, you’ll want to look up that term.  Anyways, the film is a story about a rather rough bunch from a little city in Scotland.  These folks have gotten themselves in a spot of trouble with the law for a variety of reasons and are stuck doing community service.  While doing community service the main character, a lad named Robbie with a history of violence begins to befriend the fellow who runs the program after having the shite beaten out of him by the family of his baby mama and over a glass of good scotch.  The fellow, Harry, ends up making Robbie and several of the other buggers into big fans of their native spirit by bringing them to distilleries and tastings and Robbie begins to develop quite the palate.  The story then takes a turn as Robbie, trying to escape his past, hatches a plan for a heist of a wee bit of a cask of ultra-rare scotch.  I’ll leave the rest to you to find out.  Anyways, this film coincided perfectly with my night.  By coincided I mean there was a coincidence, and a rather large one at that.  That distillery the fellow takes Robbie and the other cons to? Deanston.  The scotch they’re sampling at that distillery—Deanston Virgin Oak.  The stars not only aligned, they collided and exploded.  Anyways, I found it to be a very enjoyable film that balances drama with humor and leaves you feeling good.  The scotch, well, the scotch…

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I really need glencairn glasses…

The scotch is a pleasing stroke of luck.  I took the chance fearing I’d regret my decision and, well, I do not.  This dram presents itself a very pale golden yellow, with legs longer than a Czech model and a nose that starts light with a bit of airy citrus and honey and then sneaks up to stab up my nostril a bit with smoky booze.  The taste matches the light nose with a very delicate yet supple entry that rolls toffee, vanilla, pear and a hint of peat lusciously over the palate  and leaves the tongue with a slick citrus finish and an appropriate 46.3% alcohol of mid throat heat.  As you’d expect with the lack of age statement this is clearly a young whiskey, but at that it’s possibly a child prodigy.  Overall this is a full bodied, dare I say, voluptuous, whiskey with a light crispness and a subtlety beyond its age—and price.