For our final review of the year we're going to Compass Box. A perfect example of what other companies in the whisk(e)y business should be following. Compass Box is extremely transparent with what goes in to their blends.
First things first, Compass Box is not a distillery. They are a blending house. The take products from various companies and create their own (usually delicious) blends.
Head distiller, John Glaser has a knack for making something special using other people's distillates.
Great King St has a few different blends, but this review is for the Glasgow Blend.
It's a nod to the way blending houses tried to create full flavored whisky back in the 19th century when single whiskys weren't perfected the way they are today.
This blend uses a high single malt content with plenty of sherry and peat influence.
Non-chill filtered and no color added, this is bottled at 43% abv.
Going back to the transparency, Compass Box not only tells you what is in the blend, but also the type of wood it was matured in.
(When they're not allowed to expressly tell you the company it came from, they give you clues as to where the distillery can be located with is hilarious and awesome)
So what goes in to Compass Box Great King St Glasgow Blend?
35% is Grain Whisky from Cameron Bridge that was in first fill American Oak
34% Malt Whisky from "near" Aberlour (Meaning made by Aberlour) in Sherry Butt
18% Malt Whisky from Laphroaig in re-fill American (bourbon) oak
10% Malt from Clynellish in first fill American oak
3% Highland Malt Blend* in custom toasted New French Oak
*Blend of Clynelish, Teaninich and Dailuaine which has a second maturation in a custom barrel. The staves as from used bourbon American Oak but the heads are replaced with new French Oak that was toasted which pulls out some of the spice and oils of the wood.
I think this is a beautifully blended whisky that gives the sherry influence with enough peat influence to keep things interesting. Often times the peat becomes over-powering and the sherry in lost, but not here. This is delicious!
Color: Light amber with a red hue from the sherry
Nose: Sweetened fruits, apple, pear, light smoke
Palate: Initially the sherry sweetness takes front and center before the peat influence shows up without being too overly powerful, enough oiliness to keep tasting it for a while.
Finish: Medium long going back and forth between sweet and smokey finally exiting with the sherry sweetness.
9.2 out of 10
This is up there as one of my favorite whisk(e)ys ever and it's my pick for the most under-rated whisky out there.
At around $45 this is a bargain! More people should be talking about this one. MUST BUY!
Watch the full video review below:
Highland Park Valkyrie is a single malt Scotch with no age statement. It's part of the new gimmicky line from Highland Park where everything has a viking theme but lacks an age statement. The story is written well enough that they're able to charge a substantial amount of money for all of their NAS whiskys. I don't have anything against vikings, I actually have a half sleeve of Odin on my right arm, I just feel this new line from Highland Park is reaching.
Yes, we know there was a big viking presence in the Orkney Islands, but c'mon. Does the whole line need a fancy story?
Anyway, Valkyrie. It was their replacement to Dark Origins which is my favorite Highland Park product I've tried. How does it stack up?
Valkyrie is triple matured in a combination or American and European sherry-seasoned oak, as well as ex-bourbon American oak. It's sherried and peated with 50% peated malt used. Non chill filtered and no color added (the way I prefer all whisky) and bottled at 45.9% abv.
Color is medium dark with some red hue from the sherry.
Nose is lighter than I'd expect, almost floral with very light peat notes.
Taste is a little on the sweet side, mild smoke and floral. The finish doesn't linger as long as most peated whiskys do. Since this isn't an Islay whisky, the peat is much more mild than whiskys from that region.
It's definitely no Dark Origin that's for sure, but neat this is pretty enjoyable. Is it close to $100 a bottle enjoyable? Definitely not. If it were half that price I'd recommend it, but due to the high price tag on almost everything HP, I can't give this a buy recommendation from me. I gave it a 7.8 out of 10 while neat. Avoid ice!
Final thoughts: Good whisky but over-priced. Let's stop with all the story-telling. One-offs are cool, but the entire core line is just over doing it. Bring back age statements.
Check our video review and hear Mike's thoughts too:
When you make friends in the whiskey world you get to taste some stuff that normally wouldn't be on your radar otherwise. Sometimes you meet people who are so special, they gift you whisky that meets that criteria as well.
This is one of those cases, this was a gift from a friend I made through one of our whiskey meetup groups.
Cadenhead in Scotland's longest running independent bottlers.
Often times Cadenhead buys single casks and then bottles them under their label, other times they make their own blend, hence the "creation" part of the name. This is the latter. Cadenhead Creations Sherry, 20 year old Scotch.
This is a blend of 4 different whiskys.*
2 single malts and 2 grain whiskys, then blended and rested in sherry wood before bottling at 46% abv.
The single malts are from Bruichladdich and Mortlach.
The grain whiskys are from Cameronbridge and Invergordon
No color added and non-chill filtered.
*The breakdown is as follows:
1993 Bruichladdich - Hogshead barrel
1992 Mortlach - Sherry Butt barrel
1991 Invergordon - Sherry Hogshead barrel
1989 Cameronbridge - Hogshead barrel
This one is by far the most heavily sherry forward whiskys I ever tasted. For a 20 year old whisky (age is based off the youngest part of the blend) this doesn't come across as a mature whisky, it tastes rather young in my opinion. The mouthfeel is thin but the finish tends to linger a bit with the sherry.
Color is almost reddish.
Nose is slightly disappointing with nothing that jumped out to me.
Taste is not very bold but you do get all the fruits you would expect from the sherry. With a drop of water I was getting dark chocolate on the mid palate.
I gave a slight edge of with water vs neat (7.0 vs 6.9) due to getting that chocolate note even though it made the finish shorter.
Final thoughts: I'd only recommend this one for the die-hard sherry fans.
You can watch our full review and opinions down below:
This is our second time reviewing a whiskey from Rabbit Hole. The first one was their sourced bourbon finished in PX casks, which to this day is still my go-to dessert style whiskey.
This time around we are reviewing their rye whiskey.
This was contract distilled which means it's made to their own recipe but in another distillery. This is different than sourced whiskey which is where you simply buy someone else's product.
While this is a 95/5 Rye, it is NOT an MGP product. It's Rabbit Hole's 95% rye 5% malted barley, this was made by New Riff in Kentucky.
(As of late 2017 Rabbit Hole distillery has been creating their own juice, but it may be a while before we get to taste it while it's aging)
While Rabbit Hole as a company is young, they have a lot of veterans of the whiskey game involved.
Head Distiller: Cameron Talley comes from Wild Turkey
Larry Ebersold is from Seagrams (MGP)
Others involved are from Woodford Reserve, Brown/Forman and Jim Beam
This tells me Rabbit Hole intends to be a serious contender in this crowded industry and will do what it takes to stand out from the crowd.
Let's discuss the rye whiskey now.
So I brought this to a whiskey meetup since Johnny Brolic himself stated he wanted to try it.
The bottle was freshly opened right there and it was a descent pour, nobody had complaints.
At the time of this video review, only 3 days had passed but the difference in taste and aroma was night and day!
I'm impressed that it packs this much flavor from such a young whiskey.
Color: Medium/Dark brown
Nose: Rye or pumpernickel bread, malty cereal-like sweetness
Taste: Rye spice followed by sweetness, finishing with more rye. Kind of mouth drying but with a lingering flavor that clings to the palate for a while.
Finish: Long. Drying and enjoyable.
I really enjoyed this one neat and give it a solid 8.5 out of 10.
Since this was Just Mike's first real rye whiskey, watch the video below to see his opinion.
We're back for another episode of our mystery whiskey review series: Brown Bag Special.
To keep things simple for those who don't know, BBS is where Just Mike goes out and buys a whiskey from any price range he decides on (including bottom shelf) without telling me anything about it and we review it without unveiling what it is, or what it costs, until the end of the video.
If you want to read about what we reviewed, without watching the video, read below. (after the video)
Ok, so if you want to know what we revealed in the video here it is:
John Barr Blended Scotch!
Just Mike said he paid around $25 after taxes on this one.
Off camera he said it was purchased at Sidewalk Spirits in Vista.
Based off the nose alone I thought this was a bottom shelf or well whiskey. It wasn't pleasant, very grain heavy with a harsh alcohol smell.
Surprisingly it didn't taste any where near as bad as the nose. Granted, it's not enjoyable, it's just that I expected a harsh flavor. John Barr has a very slight sweetness and a very quick finish.
I think this is best as a party whisky (read: shots) or a cocktail mixer. It's not a good sipping whisky at all.
I would pass on this one, yet Mike says he likes this more than Johnnie Walker Black. To each their own, but I think he's nuts.
While Just Mike had to call out sick for this review, I was joined by the always beautiful (even when sick), Wonder Woman.
It was kind of fitting to have her join me since Michters is actually run by women. The master distiller is Pamela Heilman and the master of maturation is Andrea Wilson.
Michters Toasted Barrel is a limited release bourbon that is essentially their standard bourbon that has a second aging finish. They finished the bourbon in brand new toasted american white oak barrels for 26 days.
The wood for the second maturation was air dried for 18 months before being used. They then toast it over an open flame for 60 minutes.
Their bourbon goes into the original barrel at 103% abv (rather low) that has a #3 char level.
The bourbon then gets bottled at 45.7% abv.
The representative I dealt with from Michters said that they don't disclose the mash-bill and wouldn't confirm or deny the percentages I've found on other websites. So, while completely unconfirmed, the mash-bill I've seen floating around the interwebs is as follows;
I inquired about the speculation that Michters is a sourced whiskey and was given this answer to explain it in simple terms. There were 3 phases of Michters.
Phase 1 they used sourced whiskey that they bottled and sold to raise revenue.
Phase 2 Pamela Heilman was distilling the product herself but using a distillery that Michters does not own. Essentially it's like renting the equipment but you're still doing all the work yourself, which is vastly different than sourced whiskey. This Toasted Barrel is from phase 2.
Now they are in Phase 3, which means they are currently distilling and aging their own distillate in their very own distillery.
While I don't know when we will see this distillate hitting the shelves, at least we know they do have their own distillery that they are currently working out of, I'm looking forward to seeing how it affects the final product. (Even when using the same recipe the different stills and location can and most likely will, affect the final product)
The retail price of this is around $60 which is a somewhat fair price. Even though this is a NAS whiskey.
The unfortunate part is that whiskey flippers are trying to get insane prices on the secondary market in excess of $200 for this. You will never see or hear me support secondary pricing and there is no exception here.
You can check out our video review below:
I know this took longer than I thought it would take, but I finally recorded an unboxing video for my Flaviar welcome box.
Inside the welcome box there's a little welcome card and then a cylindrical box that has the sample vials inside.
On top of that box is a ceramic coaster and under the coaster is your tasting notes for the samples inside the box. It even comes with cards that have stickers for the samples if you want to do a blind tasting, that's a cool idea.
My welcome box had 3 whiskey samples.
A- Breckenridge Bourbon
B- Few Rye whiskey
C- Wolfburn Aurora <----I was really excited for this as I love Wolfburn!
I did a brief review of each whiskey in the video, but that Wolfburn did not disappoint!
I've been telling everyone they need to join Flaviar.
Usually there is a waiting list to get in, but right now you can use my link to skip the waiting list to join right away!
Click here to join Flaviar today!
Even better than skipping the waiting list, you can use my promo code to save 10% off your membership dues!
Use Promo Code: BROLIC
At the time of this writing, Flaviar is giving away a free bonus tasting box with a new membership (or gifted membership)
Watch the full unboxing video below:
Head distiller of Bruichladdich, Jim McEwan did something unique with this expression. The Port Charlotte Islay Barley is made 100% on Islay. From the growing, harvesting and drying of the barley, down to the distillation, aging and bottling.
They used Oxbridge and Optic barley. This comes in at 40 ppm. Not exactly what I think of when I hear "Heavily Peated" and I'm actually glad it wasn't as peated as I was expecting based off the name. This is so well balanced and what I would dub and slightly more than lightly peated....far from heavy.
This was bottled at 50% abv.
No color added and non-chill filtered. (Just the way I like)
The color is very pale with a slight golden honey hue.
Although it is a NAS whisky, it does not taste young at all and I'd guess that the majority of this single malt whisky is double digits in age. It's a beautiful dram. So much so, it got Mike to show excitement over it!
Check out our review below to see how high of a score Just Mike gave his new favorite whisky:
Burning Chair is an interesting whiskey.
The head distiller, Dave Phinney, comes from a wine background and used that to influence this bourbon.
Burning Chair is a bourbon whiskey produced by Savage and Cooke out of the San Francisco Bay area of California.
While this expression is a sourced whiskey from 3 different sources*, it's then vatted together and finished for 8 months in Napa Valley wine barrels that we hand selected by Dave Phinney.
The color has a deep reddish hue so you can definitely see the wine influence.
It's bottled at 44% and comes in a beautiful matte black and triangular shaped bottle.
4% malted barley
*sourced locations are Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee.
You can watch our full review below:
I know the holidays can often be a stressful time of year for people and it's sometimes difficult to know what gifts to give out, so I put together this gift guide to help you out.
Here is a break down of my Top Ten whiskey related gifts to give the whiskey fan in your life.
We're going to cover different products related to whiskey at price ranges starting as low as $10 and as high as $500 so there are gifts for all types of budgets.
To make your shopping experience as seamless as possible I included direct links* to every product I suggest.
(*We get a small kick back when you use our links so it helps to support our channel)
I also included a special discount code to save you money on my #1 pick this year!
You can watch the full video below, or you can skip down to read the cheat sheet
(below the video)
Top Ten Whiskey Gift ideas:
9- Whiskey Books
Whiskey Distilled by Heather Greene
8- Ice Molds
Silicone mold: https://amzn.to/2P6xme0
Different style: https://amzn.to/2P6xom8
7- Cooling Stones
Lords Rocks: https://amzn.to/2P5SAc2
6- Whiskey glasses
5- Scottish Peat incense burner
Irish Peat incense burner
4- Angels Share dropper set
Company website: http://www.angelsshareglass.com?rfsn=2020100.7b05c8
3- Nosing Kit
2- Bourbon Steward Certification
1- Whiskey Membership Clubs
Flaviar online speakeasy club
(This link allows you to skip the waiting list!)
Promo Code: BROLIC
This discount code will save you 10% on your Flaviar membership!
There you have it, my top ten whiskey gift suggestions for 2018.
Will you be picking up any of these for someone this year?
Did I miss something you would recommend?
Leave a comment below.
The Glendronach distillery is known for their non-peated whisky that usually has a sherry influence. This expression is their first time in recent years putting out a peated whisky.
While it is peated and matured in ex-bourbon barrels, they still finish it in both Oloroso and PX sherry casks.
It is then bottled at 46% abv.
Natural color and non-chill filtered.
At 25ppm this is not too heavy on the peat so it's not a smoke bomb in any sense of the word, but it's enough peat to make this an interesting dram. Both Mike and I enjoyed this one a lot. (neat) but DO NOT recommend this one on ice!
The nose is fantastic and the mild, yet clingy peat smoke makes this an enjoyable dram that lasts on the palate for an extended time.
You can watch the full review on our Youtube page or by clicking the video below:
As a fan of scotch and other whiskeys I was tired of looking up reviews for new whiskeys that just oozed of snobbery. I wanted to create an outlet for average Joe's who don't have a sommelier palate. Born and raised in Long Island, New York, I moved to San Diego, California in 2010 with my wife. I'm also a fan of MMA, pro-wrestling, comic books, video games and strongman. All subjects are topic for discussion on the podcast.
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Glencairn Glass set
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