Bruichladdich, one of BWG’s favorite Scottish distillers recently discontinued their “Laddie 10” flagship bottling and replaced it with The Classic Laddie Scottish Barley. We loved the Laddie 10 (you can read that review here), so we were not happy to learn of its departure – however, we were equally as excited to sample its replacement. This unpeated Bruichladdich pours a deep honey gold, a few shades darker than its predecessor. The nose is classic Bruichladdich, salty and floral with a caramel, banana sweetness. The palate is clean and balanced, with sea salt caramel taffy and a lavender bouquet. It has a nice oily mouth feel which leads into thoroughly warming finish that lasts a good while. A touch of water broadens the palate with more floral notes, while maintaining its salty-sweet bite. There is no age statement on this Laddie bottling and the abv. has been punched up to…
Last month while making a pilgrimage to my old stomping grounds to attend to family matters, I hooked up with Pegasuspilot after a 27 year hiatus. I introduced him to OCTOMORE, and he introduced me to Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 rum. I left him with the open bottle of OCTOMORE and he gifted me with a fresh bottle of Zacapa.
As I write this I am finishing the Zacapa (drunk from a silver cup … also gifted to me). Thankfully the Zacapa is a fraction of the price of the OCTOMORE and apparently available locally.
I have never fancied myself to be a rum drinker, but Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 is sweet nectar of the gods. Bottled at 40% ABV, “FROM VIRGIN SUGAR CANE & BOTTLED AT HIGH ALTITUDE”, Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 from Guatemala is a treat that anyone can afford. This is sipping rum that can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in mixed drinks. If you like rum, look for it. If you like single malt scotch, look for it. It is a delicious diversion. To me it doesn’t taste like traditional rum. It is sweeter and smoother.
Oh no … I just poured the last drop of Zacapa into my silver cup. Yum yum yum. Thankfully the mellowing agents in Ron Zacapa Centenario 23 won’t allow me to be sad.
After watching dozens of Ralfy videos on YouTube, I decided to be more adventurous in my scotch purchases. My idea was to have a good supply from various distillers at various price points. For reference, my benchmark range for a “good” Single Malt is $40 to $70. This is sipping whisky. Savored first neat, then with a touch of water, then with a bit more water. If you feel the need to mix your scotch with anything else, buy a good blended whisky (a good blended whisky such the standard Famous Grouse is much cheaper and can substitute for Single Malt if you run out). Please don’t waste good Single Malt by adding anything but water (or if you prefer, ice). I drink scotch maybe once a week, maybe less. So a bottle lasts quite a while. With more than one variety you always have options, and you can offer your guests options. If you buy a bottle that you can’t stand, you can still give it away to a less discerning associate (note the word associate, friends don’t give friends bad whisky) or serve it to your guests who want to mix it with something other than water. Having a supply of scotch also fits well with the ATF survival strategy.
I use a Glencairn Glass. Half of the pleasure of a good Single Malt is smell and the Glencairn Glass (the one Ralfy and whiskybitch use) is designed to concentrate the smell. The technical term is nosing. The nose can differentiate millions of different smells, the mouth only four or five different tastes.
There are many good whisky blogs out there and many excellent YouTube video reviews. Take some time to check them out. Window shop your local spirits store, then do your research at home. The world of Single Malt whisky is wide and varied. By the way, scotch by definition comes from Scotland, but there are many other good-to-excellent Single Malt whiskys out there. Trivia note: Scotland, Canada, and Japan call it whisky. USA and Ireland call it whiskey. By law whisky must be three years old, younger than that it is called spirit. Most blended whiskys are a blend of spirit and whiskies.
My current absolute favorite is anything by Bruichladdich (pronounced brew-ik-lahddy or even brook-lahddy). A visit to their website is worth the time. I discovered Bruichladdich as part of my new found spirit of adventure. I tend to prefer the smokier Single Malts, especially the ones from Islay (pronounced eye-lah). I saw a bottle of Bruichladdich PC6 on the shelf and thought “what the hey.” Now keep in mind that PC6 is only six years old. If you ever find a bottle of it, buy it. This six year old Single Malt is as good as any ten year old scotch I have had. The reason is the cut. Bruichladdich uses a very narrow cut to guarantee that only the ethanol makes it to the aging barrels. Lower quality whiskies use a wider cut, this gives them more whiskey to sell, but the quality is poorer. You cannot age away bad spirit. The waste products from the Bruichladdich stills is used to power a generator that provides all of their electricity needs. They even bought a Nissan Leaf … and … made a very limited LEAF bottling.
The PC in PC6 stands for Port Charlotte, which is one of the Bruichladdich brands. It is also the site of a former (and soon to be restarted) distillery. The Port Charlotte brand is peated (smoky), whereas classic Bruichladdich is unpeated. They also make the hyper-peated Octomore, but that is for a later post. Bruichladdich released limited bottlings of Port Charlotte at 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 years of age as PC5, PC6, PC7, PC8, PC9, and PC10. The PC5 was an extremely limited bottling, which sold out immediately. I was able, in the fullness of time, to acquire bottles of PC7 and PC8, in addition to my original PC6. PC9 and PC10 were also very limited bottlings and very expensive if you can find them. Each of the PC series was bottled at cask strength, close to 60% ABV. Sadly the PC6 and PC7 are no more (at least not at Cat-Beard Manor) but I do have an unopened bottle of PC8 stashed away for TEOTWAWKI.
This year the “production” version, Port Charlotte 10, made its way to my local spirits superstore. This is the version that will be readily available for some time. It is bottled at 46% ABV and sells for under $70 per bottle in my area. I like it, whiskybitch loves it …
If you like smoky, peaty scotch, you will love it too!
For the same peaty goodness at a lower price, be sure to check out Port Charlotte The Peat Project. It is a multi-year vatting of the various PC batches. It is available for under $50.
This post is for Opinionated Man and any one else who enjoys Single Malt Scotch.
My introduction to Single Malt scotch occurred perhaps twenty plus years ago with Glen Morangie. I found that I would buy one bottle of scotch and nurse it for months before getting (sorry, trying to type around Sir Edmund Hillary, my cat beard) another, different bottle. I then found that I liked the smokier malts from Islay, Laphroaig and Lagavulin. On one of my business trips in the ’90s, I discovered The Macallan. It was my benchmark for Single Malt scotch for many years.
Perhaps four years ago a nice young lady was handing out samples of Famous Grouse at my local spirits superstore. I was a Single Malt snob, but it was a free sample. It was quite good and very reasonably priced. The 12 year old was called a “vatted malt” and I was told it was a blend of The Macallan and Highland Park. I added Famous Grouse to my collection.
The Macallan continued to be my preferred scotch and I also continued to think “older is better.” I noticed that there was a “Cask Strength” Macallan, but it had no age listed. I bought a bottle. Wow, deep red, strong, delicious. I was hooked on Cask Strength Macallan, it was the best scotch I had ever tried. I bought a bottle for a friend on his birthday. The day of his birthday I was researching Cask Strength Macallan and came across a comment that said it was good, but not as good as Aberlour A’bunadh.
I called around and found a store that carried it. I picked up my friend, gave him his bottle and told him we were on a mission. Any scotch that was alleged to be better than Cask Strength Macallan had to be tried. We picked up the A’bunadh and it lived up to its name. It was so delicious that we drank more than we should have, but it was so good (and we got so drunk).
In an earlier post I talked about Ralfy, below is his re-review of Aberlour A’bunadh.
Somethings I have since learned:
It is better to have a stockpile of scotch so you always have variety
Don’t be an age snob, there are some excellent young Single Malts out there
The “cut” of the original spirit is the key to flavor
You can not improve poor spirit with age
Don’t be afraid to try something new
Be cautious when sales folk make recommendations, my luck has been poor
YouTube is your friend for whiskey reviews
Cask Strength or anything in excess of 60% ABV is best
ALWAYS add a little water, it brings out the flavor
NO chill-filtering, NO added color, if it doesn’t say so on the label suspect this has been done
Ralfy is a perfect example of my philosophy that one is not solely defined by his or her profession. If you love Scotch and you have searched the web for Scotch reviews, you know Ralfy.
Never heard of Ralfy? Go ahead. Google Ralfy. I’ll wait. Too lazy? Sigh.
OK then, click >> here <<
Ralfy may be only one of several whisky bloggers, but to my taste he is the most entertaining and credible. He is certainly one of the most prolific and consistent whisky reviewers in the whisky world. Ralfy is a celebrity. I have enjoyed his many YouTube Whisky Reviews. If Ralfy likes it, I know I will like it.
Where am I going with all this, besides of course directing you to an excellent source of whiskey information (for those of you who love whisky)?