Quick trip to Scotland, anyone? Seriously, do you want to hear the wind and embrace the land? This is easy – turn the sound on and click here.
Do you want to make your experience even more realistic? Pour yourself a splash of Bruichladdich (may be even while sitting next to the fireplace), and you are there.
You probably figured by now that today we are once again going to talk about Scotch. If last week I was talking about the art of blending, as present by Compass Box, today I want to talk about pure character. Few days ago I tasted some new Scotches coming from Bruichladdich, a distillery located on island of Islay. Islay is one of the main areas in the Scotch production (the others are Highlands, Lowlands and Speyside), famous for their Scotches to be very peaty, smoky both on the nose and the palate.
Bruichladdich distillery is about 130 years old, definitely not the oldest, but considering the number of new products and limited releases I would dare to say, one of the most innovative. The proof is in the pudding, right? Err, in the Scotch in our case. So in the tasting, I had 4 different Bruichladdich Scotches which I never tasted before.
Bruichladdich Rocks was the lightest from the group – nice touch of smoke on the nose, very floral and mellow on the palate, as light and refreshing as Scotch can be (distillery tasting notes can be found here). .
Bruchladdich The Laddie Ten, as the name says, is 10 years old single malt – touch of iodine on the nose (not anywhere as medicinal as Talisker, with only a whiff of iodine), excellent, soft, round, with good viscosity, very gentle for what it is (distillery tasting notes can be found here).
Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2006 – yes, it is a very young Scotch, which I’m not even sure has a specific definition in the world of Scotch. Not only this is single malt, but all the barley used in production of this scotch comes from one specific farm (a single farm single malt?). Really unusual (especially for Islay), pure caramel on the nose, round and delicious (while I really enjoyed it, it felt more like “ladies scotch”). Again, here are the distillery tasting notes.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte – The Peat Project – ahh, pure classic. This was classic Islay. Perfectly peaty and perfectly restrained at the same time. Bacony smoke on the nose, round, smooth, elegantly peaty on the palate and delicately weaved. While you can read the distillery notes here, I can’t help it but to cite a line from the description: “bottled using Islay spring water from the Octomore field of farmer James Brown” – does it get any better than that?
Our tour of Islay is over, folks. Go grab a bottle of Bruichladdich and enjoy the spirit and the character of the land. Cheers!
Appearance of Beaujolais Noveau bottles in the wine stores squarely underscores an important notion which is up in the air anyway: the holidays are here, and the year is going to wind up very quickly from here on. But the last six weeks of the year are not going away without a bang – there will be lots of great food and great wine everywhere.
So what do you think about Beaujolais Noveau 2011? Here are my impressions. To begin with, I like the label of the Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Noveau 2011 – it is very bright and attractive, purely an urban statement with graffiti lettering. As as the wine itself is concerned, it was okay, more in style with the years prior to 2010. Let me put it this way – the Beaujolais Noveau 2010 was real wine of a good depth, a thought provoking wine (here is the link to the post about 2010 wines) – 2011 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Noveau was just that – a Beaujolais Noveau wine which can be gulped quickly without much reflection. Bright fresh fruit, very grapey – but in need of an overall balance.
I liked the taste of Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Noveau 2011 more, as it was combining brightness of the fresh fruit with an overall structure – this wine had legs to stand on, had a nice balance with good acidity and some earthy notes – this will be one of the wines I want to see on our Thanksgiving table (we will talk about Thanksgiving wines in the next post). In any case, drink your Beaujolais Noveau quickly – these wines are not meant to be kept for the long time.
If you are puzzled by the title of this blog, let me explain. No, Scotch has nothing to do with Beaujolais Noveau – I just happened to stop by Cost Less Wines last Wednesday and try more Scotches from Douglas Laing. Here are some which I would like to note: Linkwood 13 from Speyside was very light, with a hint of smoke and most interestingly, with grape finish. It is very interesting, as it was not finished in any of the wine barrels – it was actually finished in used bourbon casks.
Next, outside of getting into “smoky” category, the Scotch I liked the best was Clynelish 15 from Highlands – it was both very complex and smooth. Complexity is something which I really enjoy in the Scotch (this is why Macallan is never my favorite – I don’t find enough complexity in the taste). Finally my most favorite Scotch from this tasting was Caol Ila 14 from Islay – pronounced smokiness and power, a great scotch if you are into smoky flavors at all. Overall, it was great #WhiskyWednesday, as they say it on Twitter.
The next time I want to talk about Thanksgiving wines – but please tell me, what wines will be on your table on Thursday?
If you follow social media, especially Twitter, I’m sure you’ve noticed big amount of #WW tags in the messages on Wednesday. This abbreviation stands for Wine Wednesday or Whisky Wednesday, depending on who and when is using it, and it means a special dedication to one’s favorite beverage of the day.
What is so special about Wednesdays and wine ( or whisky for that matter)? I honestly have no idea. I think any day is a good day for a glass of wine (or whisky), but may be people feel like they need a special declaration of sort “I will be drinking this Wednesday, instead of waiting for Friday”. Anyway, my take a simplistic one – any day is a good day for wine or whisky, as long as it tastes good. Sometimes, even that can be “bettered” – that is when you have a tasty treat and learn something new.
So on Tuesday (!) I tried very good Scotch and made a discovery (fine, not by myself, I was simply educated by my friend Zak). Until Tuesday, I thought that single malt scotch can come only from Scotland or Japan. Then I learned that it can also come from … India (ha, I’m sure you didn’t expect that).
Enters Amrut, the only Single Malt Scotch from India. Word Amrut means “Elixir of Life”, and actual scotch which I tried, was quite lively. Amrut scotch is produced in Himalaya, at about 3000 feet above sea level. The combination of the high altitude and tropical climate doesn’t allow for extended barrel aging – the scotch evaporates at much higher rate than it matures. Despite that, even in the young form, it really tastes like an actual Scotland classic.
I had an opportunity to try four different Amrut scotches, and here are my notes:
Fusion – nice and relaxed, very reminiscent of a Highland scotch, such as Glenlivet. Feels like it is 12 yeras old, while it is not
Cask strength – on the nose, first is a sensation of pure medicinal alcohol. Then it is very nice on the palate, with good oak notes. Feels like it has a lot of glycerine oils, I guess due to not being chill filtered.
Peated – feels like pure charcoal on the nose and the palate. It is different from Islay Scotches, I would call it “liquid fire”. Of course it is not surprising that the smoky component feels different, as I’m sure that Islay peat exists only on Islay – nevertheless, this was probably best of tasting Scotch.
Peated cask strength – it seems that “cask strength” should be the only difference with the previous one, but it appears to be an entirely different scotch – lots of sweetness on the palate, wood power comes only in the back – it doesn’t even feel peated. Again, substantial mouth feel of glycerin oils.
Amrut is making it’s way to US – if you like Scotch, I highly recommend you will make an effort to find it and try it. And let’s toast great discoveries, any day of the week – cheers!
Continuing our tasting series courtesy of Cost Less Wines, we are now moving from Champagne region in France to Speyside in Scotland. As a group, Speyside scotches usually mild, with nice and round character, and not very peaty. Subject of this tasting was The Glenlivet, oldest (and legendary) legal distillery in the region (as usual, Wikipedia provides wealth of information about the distillery, and also you can take a look at the company’s web site, even though I find it no so easy to use).
Four scotches were represented at the tasting – 15, 18, 21 and 25 years old. Such a tasting is a great opportunity to explore, experience and learn. Effectively, at this tasting you had an opportunity to try a “vertical”. I understand that wine category “Vertical”, when you try wine from the same winery made in a succession of years, is not applicable to scotch. But it is amazing what every 3 years in the cask would do to the actual taste. In the event, there was nice and noticeable progression in the taste – starting from smooth and simple Glenlivet 15, gaining complexity with the 18, and being super-rich, complex and round with 21.
To my taste, Glenlivet 21 was probably the best. It had very complex but clean taste profile (yes, it was my favorite in the tasting and it has great QPR at $110). However Glenlivet 25 was beyond complex. It had a lot of stuff going, including oily substances on the palate – or may be I simply didn’t spend enough time with it.
Does Glenlivet 25 worth $300? I think the answer is rather yes than no. At the same time, one have to really understand the virtues of taste of the fine scotch, in order to fully enjoy it. But in any case, it makes a fine present, especially for “someone who has everything”. I will be glad to try it again if I will have the opportunity, but for now – there will be more tasting events at Cost Less Wines, don’t miss it!
Let’s set things straight – this post will be more of a photo report. The words fall short to describe an amazing experience at Norma Jean, Bistro/Bar in Tel-Aviv. The best place to sit is in the bar, as stuff is extremely friendly and knowledgeable. You can start with the beer, which comes form all over the world, and needless to say, each served in its own proper glass. While you enjoy your first beer and glass and waiting for the food, your eye can rest on the walls full of scotch:
Among many bars, I’ve seen those where you will pay $500 for a shot, and but I never saw the one with such a selection of really great scotches which you can actually afford!
And then comes food – all fresh, succulent and great tasting:
Of course the next step is the scotch. Based on the friendly recommendation, we couple of new scotches which we never had before. First one was coming form Speyside, a belnd of three different single malts, called Monkey Shoulder in the honor of those who developed a “monkey shoulder” condition throwing peat with the shovel, while making a great scotch for the rest of us:
The next one was Laphroaig Triple Wood, matured in the 3 different kinds of wood barrels, as you can see on the label:
The smoke flavor and bite on this one were immense, like breathing the air coming from the smoker (or may be just chewing on the cigar ). Too strong by itself, addition of 3 drops of water made a miracle – the scotch opened up beautifully, with big flavor profile and lots of depth.
And then… yep, a special dessert for the scotch lovers! Tartufo, made out of the best Belgian chocolate with addition of pepper and scotch:
I know that the picture worth a thousand words, and this is why you can see a lot of pictures. However, one should really experience the taste, this is where picture fails short – and this is why, if you even the smallest opportunity – head to Norma Jean in Tel-Aviv, you will not be disappointed.