Thursday, March 25, 2010

Malt Mission 2010 #383

The Macallan 18yo scotch whisky
Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky

43% abv

$150 (USD)
$289.95 (CAD)

The Macallan is one of the most well-recognised malts in the world, and as such, often attracts a good deal of attention, both positive and negative.

The recent, and gradual, release/implementation of The Macallan Ice Ball Serve has been embraced by bars and accounts that can accommodate the item, envied in the pages of lifestyle magazines, websites, and blogs, and bitched about by almost everyone with a Glencairn glass, a MaltAdvocate and/or WhiskyMagazine subscription, and a QWERTY.

Just last week, on the back of a UK press release about "
an innovative serving method expressly for those who like their whisky with ice," John Hansell threw the concept into the ring for the Malt Advocan'ts to have their way with. And they weren't gentle. 78 comments later, ranging from the pseudo-scientific, to the super silly, we are left with a bitter taste in our mouths. And it has nothing to do with the 100% sherry cask maturation.

There are really too many comments that demand address to cite here... I love that selling whisky is what the folks who sell whisky do best. Selling whisky is what got us to where we are today, with folks from Norway to Nagasaki to Newfoundland enjoying seemingly infinite amounts of fine single malts and being able to share their opinions about them online and at whisky fests and the like. The ideas presented to the contrary go beyond average connoisseur cyicism about marketing, beyond "back in my day..." nostalgia...
Cowdery nailed it: check your hubris!

What, you've started a fricking Facebook page now? Hey, grab a dram and let's put whisky where your mouth is.

If you are enjoying a lovely single cask Mortlach, or a Clynelish, or a Brora, or any number of the 90+ single malts that most folks who want their Macallan served on a gorgeous sphere of ice have never heard of, please remember that if Johnnie Walker had not "conned consumers" with the seemingly corrupt aim of "selling more whisky", you would be drinking one of only 4 remaining distilleries in Scotland (and for good measure they'd be called The Smooth Sweeter One, The Rich Spicy One, The...)

I have no point that I am overly committed to here other than the general desire to urge connoisseurship to take a breath, top up their dram, and join me at camera 2.

Calm the fuck down.

For more Macallan distillery info, or to see all Macallans had on the Malt Mission, click HERE.


Rich, assertive sherry impressions, layered with malty fudge notes, dates, raisins, and apple butter.

Apples, dry sherry, calvados, evolving into rich, toasty oak full of char, caramel, raisins, and candy floss. Nice bitter/dry/sweet balance through the finish.


Rich enough to make you feel the same. A very chewy and engaging classic malt. Full flavours that make big impressions with no apparent attempts at subtlety. (And holy shit, did you see the LCBO price for this?!!? Totalitario.)

Malt Mission #381
Malt Mission #382

Malt Mission #384
Malt Mission #385

Malt Mission HOME

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Malt Mission 2010 #382

Glenfiddich 15 Distillery Edition
Glenfiddich 102
Distillery Edition 15 Year Old

Speyside Single Malt Whisky

51% abv

$59.99 (USD)

Naturally, the world's favourite single malt isn't used to playing second fiddle. But in the USA, the world's #1 Single Malt Scotch Whisky lives in it's very own Scottish, family-owned, triangular-shaped shadow of the Pernod Ricard-owned Glenlivet.

"Yeah, I've tried all the Glens," says the junior trader in a blue suit, breaking eye contact for just a moment to lock his gaze on the cleavage of the bartender as she reaches deep into the beer fridge. "I'm a Mac 18 man, man." And this trifecta of whisky excellence will likely remain the podium players til all the seas gang dry, but Glenfiddich is making a long overdue step in the direction of the 20th century, if not the 21st.

While Glenlivet was maintaining the interest of both the masses and that of whisky geekdom with their beautifully vanilla-ed, American oak soaked 16yo cask strength release, The Glenlivet Nadurra, and Macallan worked towards doubling their sales with the introduction of the Fine Oak range, Glenfiddich kept their direct-fired stills set on traditional age variants, with the appropriated Solera vat technique of the awesome 15yo, and a few local market treats like the Caoran Reserve, and the striking, if Irn Bru-esque Toasted Oak.

And now they are (re?) introducing is the Distillery Edition, a whisky some of you may remember from the 1990s that was also 15 years old and also bottled at 51% abv. Even as little as 15 years ago, Glenfiddich was exercising the pioneering spirit it has been known for by releasing a high strength spirit to a global market that, it appeared, was not yet ready for it. This time the market is thirsty for something non-chillfiltered and high strength from the worlds most awarded single malt distillery.

I have said it before but I must say it again: it is no secret that I work for William Grant & Sons, makers of Glenfiddich, and although I trust myself to be honest in my whisky evaluations, in the interest of guaranteeing that honesty as much as possible, I tasted 6 different whiskies, in fact ALL of this "week's" whiskies, blind (Malt Mission #381-385), took down notes and overall impressions for each, before my "assistant" revealed which was which. These notes are printed with no editing.


Sherry, candied almonds, beer nuts, and hazelnuts jump out of the glass. Sour crabapples against immensely sweet raisin notes. Cranberry, pear, and M&Ms.

Rich, sweet, and powerful. Almonds, licorice, green apples and immense and lasting oak. Lengthy finish of wood-driven flavours accented by fresh apple, chocolate, and vanilla.


Surprisingly, the nose gives little hint as to the abv of this sweetie and the palate explodes in rich fresh fruit and european oak ex-sherry characteristics.

Being a huge fan of the 15yo Solera I have to admit I was nervous about this new expression, but MAN does it hit the target with power, confidence, quintessential Speyside flavours, and a rich lasting finish
. And it is killer on the rocks.

Malt Mission #381
Malt Mission #383
Malt Mission #384

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Malt Mission 2010 #381

glen moray scotch whisky tasting
Glen Moray 12yo
Speyside Single Malt Whisky

40% abv


$34.99 (USD)

Built in 1897 out of the old West Brewery, Glen Moray has been a 4 still workhorse for blended whiskies for decades. Macdonald and Muir, later to become Glenmorangie plc (1996), purchased Glen Moray in 1920 and launched it as a single malt in the 1960s. In 1999, the owners, no-doubt under the guidance of Dr. Bill Lumsden, began using wine casks to 'finish' the whiskies.

When I lived in Scotland, Glen Moray was often the whisky one would find in Scotmid, Sainsbury or Tesco on offer for something silly like £13. Never disappointed, I confess to encouraging the supermarket slashing for which the Glenmorangie company (then owners of Glen Moray) was widely criticised.

After Glenmorangie's decision to stop business in the blended scotch market and focus on Ardbeg and Glenmornagie, Glen Moray's future was unknown. Sold in Spetember 2008 to French company La Martiniquaise, many hope that Glen Moray can get the exposure, and credit, it has long been due.
To my mind, there are several whiskies on the market that sell for twice as much money that are half as good. To date, arguably the closest Glen Moray came to respect in the eyes of whisky snobs was as the "oops!" ingredient in Serendipity. Let's hope the new owners can show the world what Glen Moray is more than a £13 sale item.


Jammy, fruity, and sweet. Malty notes ,fudge, and honey. Starchy potato aromas and a mild perfume of vanilla and cloves, as well.

Malty and fruity notes gently present themselves through an over all sweet, oaky flavour. Parsley, toffee and some floral notes emerge with a licorice and wood finish.


Nothing earth shattering here, but an easy, balanced, classic Speyside-style whisky that is thoroughly enjoyable and remarkably under-appreciated. Find some? Buy some. Guilt-free dramming that pleases both the palate and the wallet.

Malt Mission #380

Malt Mission #382
Malt Mission #383
Malt Mission #384
Malt Mission #385

Malt Mission HOME

Monday, March 01, 2010

Whisky Blog Scotchy Silence



That is the sound of THREE solid weeks of silence on Dr. Whisky, with a whisper of my ass heading to the airport again.

And it will continue until I get more than two successive nights in my own bed. Lots of time on the road February through mid-March, but rest assured whisky brothers and sisters, I will be back.

And when I return, you'll wish you'd never missed me.