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  1. #1
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    My First Impressions of Some Recommended Scotches

    I'm just checking in so that those of you who generously offered advice will know that I've put some of it to good use.

    ***
    Famous Grouse -- I like it, and I can't identify any flavor component. It's not flowery, grassy, smokey, mediciney, woody, or any of the words I've seen others use. It has a very gentle, somewhat darkly (?) sweet taste that is faintly similar to black rye bread after I've chewed it awhile. Could I be tasting the flavor of actual malt, a la malted milkshake?

    Johnnie Walker black -- It's a little more demanding than Famous Grouse, certainly not as sweet, and a fuller, slightly mediciney taste. The taste reminded me of the scene in Mr. Roberts where the lads are trying to create scotch from readily available ingredients on board a Navy ship. Someone suggests adding one drop of iodine, after which they all agree that they've succeeded in duplicating the taste of scotch.

    Macallan 12 -- Am I dreaming or do I really taste sherry from the aging casks? Stronger flavor than the FG, but perhaps gentler than JW and lacking its mediciney flavor. I liked the 50 ml. bottle well enough to buy a 750 for further exploration.

    Glendronach 15 -- One 50 ml.bottle is not enough to get familiar with this one. I think someone suggested a direct comparison with Mac 12. I don't get the similarity. No sherry taste that I can detect, and considerably lighter, with noticeable oak (as in chardonnay, not Russell's Reserve).

    On the shelf now, but not yet tasted:

    Teachers Highland Cream
    Dalmore 12
    Glenlivet 12
    Glenfiddich 12
    Sheep Dip (I bought this one for my son's girlfriend, who likes collectibles with a sheep theme. I won't get a taste of it unless she decides to open the bottle rather than just display it. Should I include some tasting glasses as a hint? )

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

  2. #2
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    Re: My First Impressions of Some Recommended Scotches

    >Macallan 12 -- Am I dreaming or do I really taste sherry from the aging casks?

    Yes, you most certainly do. Personally, I think the Macallan 12 is "over-sherried",
    and it's not something I can drink very often (even though I have a bottle...).
    Some people love it, but it's just not for me.

    I have tried the Macallan 18, which I do like, but the 12 just has too much of
    a sherry influence for me.

    (The famous scotch/beer writer Michael Jackson thinks that the Macallan
    is the best thing on earth... I most definitely disagree.)

    Tim

  3. #3
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    Re: My First Impressions of Some Recommended Scotches

    </font><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr />
    (The famous scotch/beer writer Michael Jackson thinks that the Macallan
    is the best thing on earth... I most definitely disagree.)

    [/QUOTE]

    I can tell you this much...I've read some of Mr. Jacksons bourbon tasting notes and he's more properly employed as a Scotch and beer taster. Not that the man hasn't got a clue, but that one clue he's got has worn thin and ragged around the edges. When it comes to good/bad bourbon I think he resorts to coin tossing.

  4. #4
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    Re: My First Impressions of Some Recommended Scotches

    I am glad you like the Macallan...one of my favorites. As with bourbon or anything consumed...everybody has a different reaction to tastes. I happen to enjoy the extra sherry flavors in the 12 yr...but compare that to a smokey Islay and you can have completely different preferences. I like them all...at different times.

  5. #5
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    Here I Go Again (Sigh...)

    With each drink of Famous Grouse (at hand right now) or Johnnie Walker black label (with the late news last night), I find that I like the former a bit less and the latter a bit more.

    I hardly trust my own senses any more (especially after my total failure on Linn's homework assignment -- the blind tasting of four bourbons), but I think the FG is a bit more aromatic than the JW; however, it fades and/or changes on the palate, and even more so in the finish. The JW seems to carry on seamlessly from first nose to the last hint of warming in the esophagus. I can foresee that at some point JW may become my preference of the two. (If I continue to prefer the cheaper of the two, that wouldn't be a disappointment.)

    I still haven't tried them head-to-head, and after my aforementioned blind-tasting experience I am somewhat afraid to.

    At the moment I still enjoy both of them, and (uncharacteristically) I am in no hurry to open any of my recently acquired, modest assortment of single malts. In fact, I may decide to spend quite a bit more time with blends, including the as yet unopened Teacher's, before I move on.

    As I think back to my experience with my small assortment of 50 ml bottles, I am surprised that the blends are as full-flavored as they are. I expected much less. My memory tells me that Famous Grouse is as flavorful (as in strength, not necessarily pleasure) as the Glendronach 15 or the Cardhu 12, but not as intense as Macallan 12.

    As days go by I find that drinking scotch is taking on a different quality. What I used to call "wimpy" is magically being transformed to "subtle". The experience is similar to the way my taste in pipe tobacco changed during the last ten years that I smoked.

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

  6. #6
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    Teacher\'s Highland Cream

    Last night I finished my first bottle of Famous Grouse. I decided to stick with the lower-priced blends; so I opened the Teacher's Highland Cream.

    The word "cream" in the name probably had me expecting the flavors to be even richer and smoother than the FG. I found the oppposite.

    Although my palate was dulled by the two large pours of FG, the Teacher's definitely had a spicier effect on the palate, and even more so at the finish. It reminded me ever-so-slightly of Cardhu 12, which I've only sampled (50 ml's worth). Like the Cardhu, Teacher's seemed to be too much icing and not enough cake, the basic flavors overwhelmed by what should be seasonings.

    I happened to notice an age statement on the bottle. It's a whopping 36 months. Isn't that damning with faint praise? Why bother to print such a meager age on the label?

    Needless to say, these are merely first impressions, and they will undoubtedly change with more time and experience.

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

  7. #7
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    The Glenlivet, Aged 12 Years

    Tasting this single malt for the very first time on an afternoon when I've already drunk a half-shot each of Famous Grouse and Teacher's Highland Cream is probably not going to allow me to taste it fairly. Who said I'm fair?

    After I removed the bottle from the hoity-toity box (why do they do that?) marked "$19.99 Trader Joe's", I noticed that the label displays a statement I've never seen before "Aged only [emphasis mine] in Oak Casks". Are other woods used to make aging casks? If so are they ever used to age whisk(e)y? (Not that I'm aware of.) Does the capitalization indicate some added meaning, as, for example a trademark of a particular cooperage? (I wouldn't think so. Don't all of their casks come from whiskey distilleries in the U.S.A.?)

    Setting aside the irony of drinking scotch from a glass that bears the legend, "Evan Williams SINGLE BARREL VINTAGE", I raise glass to nose and sniff. Did I forget to pour the scotch? This is quite delicate compared to the two blends I was sampling earlier. It lacks the Connecticut cigar-leaf aroma of Famous Grouse and the spicey fragrance of Teacher's Highland Cream.

    The taste on the palate is still very light, a little sweet and fruity, and only slightly spicey. At the second sip I notice a flavor akin to Virginia pipe tobacco, naturally cured to a deep brown. Later I notice oak flavor, like Chardonnay, not Wild Turkey. (Do you suppose they scrape out the char layer before they reuse the barrels?)

    The finish has much more substance than I first expected. After the first sip it grows to a peak at about five to ten seconds. On subesquent sips the peaking effect is no longer noticeable. A slightly smokey oakiness fades very gracefully to a gentle sweetness (Kiwi fruit? banana?) that seems as though it might last forever.

    I recall reading a review that said something like "Ignore The Glenlivet at your peril", which seemed odd at the time. Now I appreciate that comment. At first The Glenlivet seems as though it's a lightweight whisky. However, it doesn't take long for its charm to emerge, albeit very subtley. The next time I'm in the mood for scotch, this is likely to be the one I reach for.

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

  8. #8
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    Re: The Glenlivet, Aged 12 Years

    Dave,
    Regarding your question, "Don't all of their casks come from whiskey distilleries in the USA?", the answer is that Scotch distillers use a lot of Bourbon casks, but use others as well. Macallan for one, uses only Spanish oak casks, that have previously been used for aging Sherry. Glenmorangie uses European oak that also was used with sherry, but also with port and madeira. I've read that Glenmorangie will also buy casks, then lease them to a bourbon producer, and after housing bourbon they get them back for their use.

    In terms of your question regarding the use of other woods for aging, Michael Jackson states in his "Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch" that "In theory, all Scotch whisky is aged in oak. In practice, a cask made from chestnut or mahogany very occasionally turns up in a distillery".

    Regarding your question about scraping out the char layer before reusing, I've also read that some Scotch distilleries use a variety of techniques to rejuvenate old casks. One technique involved re-charring the cask. Another techinque was to scrape the inside of the cask in order to expose new wood to the whisky, but the cask would then be recharred. In case anyone is interested, this info comes from "Appreciating Whisky" by Phillip Hills. It's got some pretty good info in it. Hope this helped.

    Bob

  9. #9
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    Re: The Glenlivet, Aged 12 Years

    The Glenlivet is often dished by Single Malt buffs as the "Budweiser of Malts," but I have heard in blind tastings it does quite well. I certainly think it is a decent malt, and it was the first one I ever bought over 20 years ago.

    I don't own it (the 12yo) now for the same reason I don't own Knob Creek. They are so available in bars. It's nice to know when I'm out, I can order something I like but don't have at home.

    I currently have the Glenlivet French Oak which I prefer to the standard. The NEW French Oak gives it a very distinctive taste as otherwise Scotch uses almost exclusively USED casks. I also have a cask strength 20yo bottling by Cadenhead that should certainly silence those who say Glenlivet doesn't have enough guts.

  10. #10
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    Re: The Glenlivet, Aged 12 Years

    I have just gone through a pc crash...so, Dude, I got a Dell! Now that I am back up and running...The Glenlivet 12 is a very nice to drink Scotch...pleasant taste, some interesting flavors...along with Glenfiddich, this was one of my first Scotches...I still enjoy both...sort of like choosing a Pinot Grigio rather than a Cabernet..there is a time and a place for each.

 

 

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