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Posts Tagged ‘Blended Whisky’

Review: Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 17, 2014

ballantine-finestThe heritage of Ballantine’s Scotch Whisky can be traced back to 1827 when George Ballantine set up a small grocery store in Edinburgh supplying a range of whiskies to his clients. In 1865, he opened a larger establishment in Glasgow where he concentrated on the wine and spirit trade and catered to a more upscale customer base which apparently included the Hindu Royal Family. It was at this time that Ballantine started the experimentation which led to the creation of his own whisky blends. By the time his son George Jr. took over the business, Ballantine’s was a growing concern and the family eventually sold the prosperous business to Barclay and McKinlay in 1919. As the business and the brand continued to grow, the brand attracted the attention of the Canadian firm, Hiram Walker Gooderham & Worts who acquired Ballantine’s in 1937. Growth continued especially in new markets in Europe. Then in 1988, the Company became part of the global beverage conglomerate Allied Domecq, and later (in 2005) was acquired by Pernod Ricard who own the brand today.

Mamie Taylor

Mamie Taylor

Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky is the flagship whisky of the Ballantine’s brand. It is blended from a mixture of malt and grain whiskies all of which are aged (as per Scottish Law) for a minimum of three years in oak barrels.

You may read my full review of the blended Scotch whisky by clicking on the following except:

Review: Ballantine’s Finest Blended Scotch Whisky

“… The initial nose rising into the breezes above the glass have a firm honeyed butterscotch taint which is accented by heather and fine grain spices. I also detect light notes of raisins and cherry licorice which hints at a few sherry barrels which may have been utilized in the aging of at least some of the whisky. As I let the glass sit I notice fruity aromas of apple juice and canned peaches and apricots, as well as more grain-like scents which remind me of orange and lime zest and damp cigarette tobacco …”

Please enjoy the review and the recipe suggestion which follows, the Mamie Taylor Cocktail.

Slainte’

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Reviews of two Grouses (Famous and Black)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 15, 2014

Famouse grouseBlack GrouseThe Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky has a history in Scotland reaching back in time to 1896 when Wine Merchants, Matthew Gloag and Son, first blended their Grouse Whisky. Over the next nine years, the whisky became so popular that Matthew Gloag decided to add the word ‘famous’ to the name in 1905. Over the next century it would become one of the most popular brands of whisky in Scotland. Although the home of famous Grouse is the Glenturret Distillery, according to The Famous Grouse Website, the Famous Grouse Whisky is a blend which contains premium single malts such as The Macallan and Highland Park.

The Black Grouse is an offshoot of its popular cousin which begins where The Famous Grouse ends. The whisky is the result of a further blending of the Famous Grouse Whisky with Islay Malt Whiskies. The resulting whisky has a peated flavour profile with a reportedly dark smoky character.

It has been about four years since I examined each of these blended whiskies, and recently I had a chance to sample each blend side by side as I was gifted a bottle of each this past Christmas. I took advantage of this opportunity to revisit each of my previous reviews tweaking the tasting notes and the scores (neither changed significantly).

Here are the links to each of the revised reviews:

Review: The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky

Review: The Black Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky

Note: The astute reader will notice that the suggested cocktails for each have been tweaked as well!

 

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Adelphi Blended Scotch Whisky (Private Stock)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 28, 2013

SAM_0551 AdelphiAlthough Adelphi Distillers are primarily known for their selection of Single Cask Malt Whiskies, I have discovered that they also produce a fine blended whisky they call the Adelphi Private Stock. It is bottled at 40 % and is a blend of 4 grains combined with a high proportion of aged Single Malts from the west coast and the Speyside regions of Scotland. The whisky was originally known as “Granny’s Blend” because it was created for the grandmother of Adelphi’s previous owner, Jamie Walker.

The whisky was blended from a large selection of ‘blind’ samples with the final recipe being a closely guarded secret. Interestingly, the final blend is matured in a solera-style vat. Each time a quantity is drawn off for bottling, the vat is topped up with exactly the same blend of whiskies. This practice allows Adelphi to maintain a consistent flavour for each small batch bottling (each batch contains no more than 12,000 bottles).

I was given a bottle of this whisky by Thirsty Cellar Imports who are the importer of Adelphi Whisky here in Alberta. You may click on the following excerpt to read the full review:

Review: Adelphi Blended Scotch Whisky (Private Stock)

“… The nose was rather interesting with wood spices, some honey and butterscotch, perhaps a touch of heather and little dollop of boggy peat.

As I let the glass breathe I noticed some almond and vanilla, and a hint of canned fruit (peaches and pears). The spiciness reminds me of Speyside, and the boggy peat aroma reminds me of Islay (but much gentler than Islay can be) …”

Please enjoy my review!

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 25, 2012

A few years ago Johnnie Walker Gold Label carried an age statement of 18 years. Back then it was called The Centenary Blend. The newest bottles of the Gold Label no longer carry that age statement. Coinciding with that particular change is a bit of a name change as well. Instead of Johnnie Walker Gold Label – The Centenary Blend, the newest version is now called Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve. Based upon what I can glean from the Johnnie Walker website (and the back of my bottle) it may not be only the ages of the individual whiskies in the blend which have changed, the actual constituents of the blend appear to have changed as well.

“GOLD LABEL RESERVE is blended from casks of Whiskies that have been specially selected from the Master Blender, Jim Beveridge’s Private Reserve.”

Of course this means that my previous review for Johnnie Walker Gold Label – The Centenary Blend is rather obsolete, a fact which was quickly pointed out to me by my good friend Jason, of Jason’s Scotch Reviews, when I recently re-posted that particular review. Jason asked me if I could review the new blend, and after a quick email with the Alberta Diageo Rep, a new bottle for review found its way onto my review queue.

Here is an excerpt from the resulting review:

“… The nose is very complex. It seems rather light and gentle first; but as the glass sits, the whisky seems to gain strength and intensity. The initial impressions are of butterscotch, honey and wood spice. Some nice scents of canned fruit drift by the nostrils, in particular peaches and apricots. A bit of home-baked apple pie with touches of cinnamon reach the breezes above the glass as well… “

You may read my full review here:

Review: Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve

Please enjoy my review of the new Johnnie Walker Gold Label Reserve!

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

The 2011 Rum Howler Awards – (Whisky Wrap-Up)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 6, 2011

All of these awards are based upon side by side tasting sessions held over a period of several weeks. I  began at the start of September slowly tasting different whiskies from my private collection of bottles and bringing only the very best forward for the final tastings which took place over the last two weeks. Only spirits which I had tasted in the past year (between October 1, 2019 and September 30 2011) were considered.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky Value
(under $30.00 in my market of Alberta)

and the Winner is:

Potter’s Special Old Whisky

Honourable mention to Gibson’s Finest Sterling Canadian Whisky and Chinook Canadian Whisky

As I indicated in my Rum Howler Vodka Awards, the taxation and storage fees in my locale can add up to $18.00 a bottle to the price of a 750 ml spirit. It is rare to see anything on the shelves of the local liquor store for less than $22.00. This means that my standard for this category, being only those whiskies which are under $30.00, is a tight standard indeed. But even at that low price quality can be found in my marketplace as evidenced by the three final nominees. In head to head tasting, serving each whisky in a couple cocktails (the Buckeroo and the Horses Neck) as well as sipping each neat, the competition was close.  However, the Potter’s Special Old Canadian Whisky rose to the occasion and captured the award.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky Value
(under $60.00 in my market of Alberta)

and the winner is

Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Rye Whisky

Honourable mention to Glenmorangie, The Original 10 Year Old, and Basil Hayden’s Straight Kentucky Bourbon

All of the nominees are wonderful spirits. I tasted each of the three finalists neat, at room temperature to determine the winner and reaffirmed my belief that the Alberta Premium 30 is an absolute gem of a whisky. It not only was by far the best tasting whisky in the under $60.00 range. It was by a full $10.00 less expensive than its two rivals , and if you possibly can still find a bottle on a liquor store shelf, do not hesitate…. buy it!

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Blended Whisky

and the winner is:

Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey

Honourable mention to Canadian Club 30 Year Old Whisky, and Gibson’s Finest 12 year Old Canadian Whisky

In Canada we pride ourselves on having the best and smoothest blended whisky in the world. However, in my side by side tastings of each of these spirits neat, I found I preferred a little of the Irish this time. The Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve has a suave sort of creamy sweetness that doesn’t cloy at the palate after the whiskey is sipped. Things are smooth and refined in a finish which is long and satisfying.

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The Rum Howler Award for Best Single Grain or Single Malt Whisky

and the winner is:

Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Rye Whisky

Honourable mention to Highland Park 25 Year Old Single Malt, and Dufftown 1984 (Signatory)

I suppose it might be a little disconcerting to some that I have combined the Single Grain and the Single Malt category this year. They are after all two different styles of whisky. However, due to my limited tasting experiences with single grain whiskies this year, I decided to consolidate the two categories. I was after all curious how a $50.00 Canadian Single grain whisky would stack up against the competitors which cost up to 6 times more in my local liquor store. The Alberta Premium 30 Year Old did more than just stack up, it proved to be the best in side by side tastings. It just goes to show that the top price does not always reflect the top quality.

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And finally the Award that I am sure you have all been waiting for:

The Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Whisky
(Age, price and style irrelevant, her I am only concerned with what is the Best!)

and the winner is

Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Irish Whiskey

Honourable mention to Alberta Premium 30 Year Old Rye Whisky, and Highland park 25 Year Old Single Malt

Even I have to admit my surprise when I chose the Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve over the Alberta Premium 30 year Old Canadian Whisky, and the Highland Park 25 year Old Single Malt Whisky. But when I began my taste comparisons I fell in love with the Jameson all over again. If you have not experienced Irish Pure Pot Still flavour, then you will have to take my word for it that it is quite wonderful. After 18 years of aging they have morphed into something that resembles a creamy soft punky toffee embedded in honeycomb and light marzipan and tainted with flavours of sour mash bourbon. The oak flavours weave in and out, and all of this comes together in a wonderful display of balance. The whiskey has such a beguiling delivery, that I was hooked right from the very first sip, and I suspect you will be too.

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And there you have it, my Rum Howler Awards for Whisky all wrapped up. Here is a recap of Today’s awards:

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky Value (under $30.00 in my market of Alberta)   Potter’s Special Old Canadian Whisky

The Rum Howler Award for Best Whisky Value (under $60.00 in my market of Alberta) Alberta Premium 30-year-old Whisky

The Rum Howler Award for Best Blended Whisky   Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Whiskey

The Rum Howler Award for Best Single Grain or Single Malt Whisky    Alberta Premium 30-year-old Whisky

The Rum Howler Award for Best Overall Whisky  Jameson 18 Year Old Limited Reserve Whiskey

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Posted in Awards, Howls | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Review: Nikka Whisky From the Barrel

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 15, 2011

Nikka is the second largest distiller of whisky in Japan owning two distilleries at Yoichi and Miyagikyo. The Yoichi Distillery is located on Hokkaido which is Japan’s northernmost Island where the climate is apparently very similar to Scotland. The Miyagikyo Distillery is located on Honshu island in central Japan.  Information on this blend is a little hard for me to decipher from the bottle, but gleaning what I can from Internet sources I have found that the whisky apparently includes Malt whiskies from each of the Nikka Distilleries as well as grain whisky from Miyagikyo. The label says the whisky is double matured, and I believe that the final maturation was in a first run bourbon barrel. I taste a sherry influence as well making me believe that at least some of the whiskies which comprise the blend have seen time in Sherry casks.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…There is quite a wallop of flavour associated with the Nikka Whisky as one would expect from a cask strength offering. Rich burnt caramel, woody tannins and rich baking spices all mingle together. I taste a whisper of Apricot Brandy winding through the flavour profile. Raisins, dates and prunes add to the complexity…”

You may read the full review here:

Review: Nikka Whisky From the Barrel

Please enjoy my first review of a Japanese Whisky!

Posted in Japanese Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off

Whisky Review: The Black Grouse

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 7, 2010

The Black Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky is relatively new whisky from the makers of The Famous Grouse.  The company has a history in Scotland reaching back in time to 1896 when Wine Merchants, Matthew Gloag and Son, first blended what they called their ‘Grouse’ Whisky.  Over the next century The Famous Grouse would become one of the most popular brands of whisky in Scotland.

The Black Grouse is an offshoot of its popular cousin, The Famous Grouse, which is a blended whisky containing premium Single malts such as The Macallan and Highland Park. These single malts (as well as others in the blend) are married with a selection of fine grain whiskies in fully seasoned oak casks.  The Black Grouse begins where The Famous Grouse ends, and is the result of a further blending of the Famous Grouse Whisky with Islay Malt Whiskies.  The resulting whisky has a peated flavour profile with a reportedly dark smoky character.

As a side note, The Black Grouse, Tetrao tetrix, is a rare relative of Scotland’s national game bird, the Red Grouse.  When the new blend was launched, The Famous Grouse made a commitment to preserve this rare game bird by donating 50 pence from each bottle sold to the conservation efforts of The Black Grouse habitat.

This information is expanded upon on The Black Grouse Website.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“…The initial impression in my mouth is of beguiling sweetness coupled with a ribbon of soft smoke and organic peat.  As I noted earlier, the peat and smoke are gentle rather than forceful. The sweetness manifests itself as a honeyed caramel.  The smoke shows evidence of a sherry influence with dried fruit (raisins and prunes) and soft pops of cherries.  The peat seems organic coming across as soft and chewy with a distinctive boggy taste…”

You may read the full review here:

Whisky Review: The Black Grouse

As well  two of my three suggested cocktails for this whisky have been placed in my recipe section, The Rusty Nail and The Black Cove.

Enjoy the review everyone!

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 26, 2010

The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky has a history in Scotland reaching back in time to 1896 when Wine Merchants, Matthew Gloag and Son, first blended their Grouse Whisky. Over the next nine years, the whisky became so popular that Matthew Gloag decided to add the word ‘famous’ to the name in 1905. Over the next century it would become one of the most popular brands of whisky in Scotland.

According to The Famous Grouse Website, the whisky is a blend which contains premium single malts such as The Macallan and Highland Park. These single malts (as well as others in the blend) are married with a selection of fine grain whiskies in fully seasoned oak casks. The resulting blend is a complex whisky full of character and smoothness. This information is expanded upon on the website, where you can also find information regarding the full range of The Famous Grouse brand.

Here is a snippet from my review:

” …The initial nose is sweet and spicy with a hint of boggy peat rising into the breezes. As I allow the glass to decant the nose becomes richer with the aroma of toffee and vanilla entering the fray with mixed scents of citrus peel with a wisp of dry fruit….”

You may read the full review here:

Review: The Famous Grouse Blended Scotch Whisky

Posted in Cocktails & Recipes, Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whisky

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 11, 2010

The Johnnie Walker Brand of whisky is one of the most iconic brands in all of the world. with its unique square bottle and the labels tilted a 24 degrees off-center, the company has created a strong brand image and is considered by many to be the quintessential Scottish whisky. The company was born in about 1820, and has grown steadily to become one of the most important Scottish whisky brands in the world today.

The Black Label is a blended Scotch Whisky, which is composed of up to 40 malted and grain whiskies. The origins of the blend can be traced back to 1867, when Alexander Walker copyrighted and began to bottle Old Highland Whisky. In 1909 the name of the blend was changed to Johnnie Walker Black label in reference to the color of the label which had become the generic means of identifying the blend amongst the Johnnie Walker customers.

I had a chance to get to know This Black Label Whisky and here is a sample of the review:

“…In my first tasting of Johnnie Walker Black I was impressed by the overall flavour I encountered. All of the elements which I expected to find were in the right places and at the right strength. A rich fruity sherry smoke underlain with a nice floral organic peat seemed to anchor the whisky and to carry lighter sweeter elements forward….”

You may read the  full review Here:

Review: Johnnie Walker Black Label

Posted in Scotch Whisky, Whisk(e)y, Whisk(e)y Review | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off

 
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