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!
Innovation. This word is usually associated with high-tech industry, new cars, new gadgets, an iPhone 6 or 7 – I’m sure you got my point. Yet innovation is not a foreign word when we talk about food, and wine, and the other stuff we drink, even though the original concept didn’t change in many thousands or at least many hundreds of years.
If you scroll through the posts in this blog, you will see that most of them are about wine and food (with a bit of photography). However, from time to time I step outside of the wine world and talk about my second favorite type of enjoyable alcohol, Scotch – and this will be the subject of this post.
What was with all that talk about innovation, you ask? When it comes to Scotch, many of the products are deeply rooted in tradition. Yes, some distillery might change the label or the packaging, and that would be about the full extent of innovation. But then there are companies such as Compass Box – a relative newcomer in the world of fine whisky. Compass Box had a vision – a vision of taking the existent best of the breed whiskys from the different regions, aging them in the best available wood and then blending them together to create a new line of products which would be unique and exemplary at the same time. Most importantly – they managed to succeed with that approach and took their rightful place in the market.
About two month ago I had an opportunity to taste through the whole line of Signature Range of Compass Box whiskys, so here are my notes from that tasting.
Asyla – nice, standard, smooth
Oak Cross – touch of sweetness, very delicate, nice fruit
Spice Tree – very nice, less sweetness than Oak Cross, with coriander notes on the palate
Peat Monster – big, peaty, bad ass beauty, medicinal, round – perfect! Need campfire to pair
Hedonism – very viscous on the nose, nice, delicate, with touch of sweetness, very round – very nice, distinctly different from anything else.
Flaming Heart – beautiful. Peaty but very balanced. Best of tasting.
Orangerie – nice addition of fresh orange, very delicious.
I also sneaked by (no, I didn’t steal anything, I was offered the taste) Johnnie Walker Blue King George V Edition, which is pretty rare and needless to say, expensive – very oily in appearance and on the nose, but then super clean and fragrant on the palate, very very round (if you are into Scotch, this one should be on your “must try list”).
That is all I wanted to share with you, folks. If you know of Compass Box scotches and enjoy them, pour yourself another splash. If you never heard of them, try one – you might discover something new. If you don’t like scotch, there is a good chance you just didn’t happen to find the right one yet – keep trying as you might come across the one which will speak to you… Cheers!
We are continuing the historical angle here, but stepping aside from the softer world of wine into the brave and powerful world of strong spirit (yeah, I know you can read it in different ways) – I’m talking about so called hard liquors.
Hard liquors came about some time in 14th – 15th centuries, when the alchemists of all walks were perfecting distillation process in their search for the ways to turn everything into a gold (or maybe they were searching for eternal life elixir?). It was quickly discovered that the hard liquors have a great range of effects on humans, from giving them pleasure to making them completely crazy and even killing them. During the course of history, hard liquors played wide variety of roles, from being an object of trade, a currency, to the object of desire and status symbol (Louis XIII, anyone?).
Each spirit has it’s own rich and unique history, full of all the human drama, discovery, excitement, love, hate and everything else which constitutes life (it is not for nothing French call some of their liquors Eau de Vie, a Water of Life). And of course each spirit affected hundreds of millions of lives throughout its course of history. However, there is one hard liquor which can be singled out for its role in the history of western civilization, where it was even an essential part of the slavery trade (the whole process was called “slavery triangle”), and its status was dramatically affected by the American Revolution. Do you know what spirit it is?
Have a fun filled weekend! Cheers!
Today I came across a blog post which stroke a chord – whether or not you are in love with whisky, this will universally apply to all of us who takes keen interest in Wine, Whisky, Beer, Rum or anything else you strive to know more about, because knowledge enhances the pleasure… Here it is:
As you probably know, scotch is my second favorite drink, right after the wine. When it comes to scotch, I pretty much like all of them, with slight bias towards the smoky style. One of the most unique smoky whiskies is Talisker (one of my favorites), which has a very unique, almost medicinal nose full of smoke, in addition to lots of smoke on the palate (it is different from traditional Islay whiskies which have very expressed smokiness on the palate, but not as much on the nose).
When my friend Zak said “you have to try this” and pointed to the bottle of Whiskey, I couldn’t believe it – single malt whisky … from Oregon? What is happening? Well, tasting is believing (seeing is not enough) – and when I tried this McCarthy’s Single Malt Whiskey I was literally blown away. While this whiskey is compared to Lagavulin (probably the most classic Islay scotch) on the producer’s web site, my first impression was Talisker. I’m quite convinced that in a blind tasting I would confuse this whiskey for Talisker, both from the smell and the taste ( this probably shows my weak side, but I will live with it). On the nose, this whiskey exhibited the same medicinal smoky flavor, with lots of smoke following on the palate, with expressed minerality and perfect balancing acidity – this scotch was literally refreshing, if scotch can be considered a refreshing drink. At $49.99 at Cost less Wines and Liquors, I think it is a great deal – if you like smoky peaty scotch, don’t miss it.
And then as I was leaving the store, I spotted this bottle of 1979 Glenrothes…
‘Nuf said… Until the next time – cheers!
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.