Stopped in for a quick nip at my best buddy’s place tonight and I was pleasantly surprised when he grabbed a brand new bottle of Bruichladdich Octomore… “The World’s Most Heavily Peated Single Malt.” Needless to say, I was excited. I’ve been meaning to try the Octomore for a while now!
As soon as the bottle was uncorked, the room was washed in rich peat smoke. As the glass breathed a bit, smoke made way for dusty hay, oak, iodine and a surprising citrus note became apparent as well, although the smoke mellowed out, the peatiness remained. It was a very enjoyable nose! My fist sip was dominated by peat as well, but a malty sweetness eventually proved to be the backbone of this dram. The flavour of the smoke is actually quite gentle, as it allows a nuttiness to shine through, along with a salty maritime quality. And that finish… It just went on and on and on, not so much leaving smoke in its wake as just some nice chewy peat, with a healthy dose of heather!
I really enjoyed a drop of this whisky. What really struck me was how this malt was obviously a young one, yet it had a certain mature sophistication about it. Bright and lively, yet rich and fulfilling. I love Islay malts so I’ll be wanting to pick up one of these for my own cupboard!
By now, most whisky drinkers – especially Canadian ones – know the story of master distiller, John K. Hall and his Forty Creek whiskies. There is usually a bottle of the flagship Barrel Select in my cupboard, since it can do double duty as a suitable sipper for me and as a tip-notch mixer for my buddies. This sample of the Double Barrel Reserve, which is a step or two up in the core range, came with my most recent bottle of the standard offering, so it seems like the perfect opportunity for a quick Wee Dram!
This golden yellow drop has a subtle nose, mostly dominated by vanilla, with a hint of butterscotch and a touch of nuttiness. Wow! On the palate, this is the most toffee-like drop I have ever tasted… it’s unmistakeable and kind of surprising, actually! Toffee eventually gives way to creamy Werther’s Original candies (Which doesn’t sound much different, I know, but the change of flavour is distinct!) with a bit of oakiness and rye spice riding shotgun. The finish is long and delicious, with vanilla, lemon zest and oatmeal cookies.
Delicious whisky, this one! I’ve always thought Forty Creek had a little more of a bourbon-like character than most Canadian whiskies and this Double Barrel Reserve is even more reminiscent of a fine bourbon. I love it… and I should probably go buy a full sized bottle for a proper review!
A while back, shortly after Alberta Premium Dark Horse was released, I went through a phase of really enjoying this whisky and, probably for a year or so, I usually had a bottle of it around. I guess I found other drams that won the competition for my attention but, on another visit with my Pops, I wasn’t too surprised that he busted out a brand new bottle of Dark Horse… It checks off all of his priorities: Canadian whisky, check! Alberta distillery, even better! High rye profile, perfect!
Needless to say, I was thrilled to share a drop and find out if Dark Horse was still as good as I remembered.
An extremely rich coloured, deep copper dram, I kept thinking how much bourbon-like character to this whisky. The appearance reminds me of Four Roses Single Barrel. The nose oozes with caramel corn and vanilla and, as far as actually drinking it, it’s the thick, heavy mouthfeel that reminds me of some of the better corn whiskeys I’ve enjoyed. In terms of flavour, there’s quite a lot going on – burnt sugar and toasted oak, a herbal, menthol flavour and some nice rye spicy-sourness near the end. In the finish, I also found a distinct sherry theme.
By now I think most people who care about whisky have heard that Alberta Distillers went way outside the box to construct their Dark Horse. Yeah, it’s made with an unconventional mixture of approximately 91% rye whisky, 8% corn whisky (bourbon-style, they say) and 1% sherry… But who cares? ABD are completely up front about how they make this whisky, it’s made within the rules that have been set for Canadian whisky and, most importantly it’s a delicious sipper. Grab a bottle… Alberta Premium Dark Horse has interesting flavours and qualities that are rarely found in Canadian drams.
Considering they proclaims themselves as the world’s best selling single malt, it’s kind of surprising that I haven’t had more spaces in my cabinet occupied by the Glenfiddich 12… Especially earlier on in my dramming journey! This is not to say that I haven’t enjoyed my share of this malt at various times. (It is, after all, pretty much guaranteed to be on a bar shelf, even in the absence of any other scotch brands.)
Glenfiddich 12 is bottled at 40% abv. This particular bottle was a Christmas gift from a colleague, so I won’t be posting a price.
To the Eye
Gold – almost honey but not particularly deep or rich looking. You know how, when you swirl a dram, there will often be the suggestion of other tones and streaks of colour? Well there’s none of that here… And it’s kind of bugging me, to be honest!
In the Nose
Hmm, not a lot going on now, either. Softly sweet with some kind of indiscernible fruit at the front. Vanilla and maybe a little bit of oak. Believe me, I tried hard on multiple occasions to tease out more aromas than that, but this is about all I could come up with!
On the Tongue
Oak. It’s unusual for barrel wood to be the first flavour encountered, especially in such a young spirit but, you know what, it’s not an altogether bad thing. This oakiness is soft and clean and, although I can’t believe this was the intended profile, I find it quite nice to enjoy that woody flavour so clearly. Now, if only there was more to this… malty sweetness, a hint of burnt sugar and maybe a touch of orange peel… but that can’t be right, can it? The finish is short, with few pencil shavings sticking around for a fleeting moment before leaving me with nothing but drying, puckering sensation of alcohol.
If you read my blog with any regularity, you probably have at least two things about me figured out: first, I enjoy most whiskies – I usually find something to like about the vast majority of drams – and, second, I base my reviews on multiple tastings – usually three or more. So it’s not like I was just having a bad day!
Here’s the lowdown – Glenfiddich 12 tastes NOTHING like what I remember. At no point in any of my tastings did I get any of those over-the-top pear and green grass flavours that I used to associate with this dram. I have no idea what has changed but there’s not much going on in this whisky and, while I was still able to find something redeeming about it, this was one of the least interesting scotch experiences I’ve had in a loooong time!