Review: Master of Malt 8 Year old Blended Scotch Whisky

It’s the last day of our 12 blends competition and it’s the turn of the chaps at Living Room Whisky. They’ve served up this classy dram of Master of Malt 8 year old blended scotch whisky. Part of their secret bottling series.

I’m going for some compass box Hedonism, though this reminds me a little in the finish of something we had earlier in the competition.

Here are the dramstats:

Picture from Tom's Whisky Reviews

Picture from Tom’s Whisky Reviews

  • ABV 40%
  • Price £20.95 from here

Nose: Vanilla, apple and white chocolate mousse, marshmallow and whipped cream, and a touch of aftershave.

Palate: Spicy, vanilla, whipped cream again, and some honeyed-oak.

Finish: Creamy and with white pepper, oak, and white chocolate mousse.

Verdict: Very enjoyable if a little slow to open up. Was a little put off by the aftershave note, so I think I’d probably not buy a full bottle of this (though it is well priced).

So that’s 12 blends finished. It’s been great and a real education. Myself, and indeed all of the whisky bloggers struggled in the dark guessing these drams but it was a lot of fun. We whisky geeks don’t pay enough attention to the blended stuff and there can be a certain level of snobbery about blends (though not from any of the guys in the competition). I think we all had our eyes opened, and I for one will be trying a lot more blends from now on. Thank you to all of the blenders: @ardbaggie, @sjjgo @galg @LRwhisky @mynameisgone @steveprentice @dvdbloke @whiskydiscovery @rodbodtoo @WhiskyMarks and, lastly and most importantly to Tom (@ifotou) for doing all of the organising and sorting the prize. Follow all of these guys on twitter for interesting whisky stuff.

Finally, blended whisky month here on dramstats will continue on Sunday with another interesting blend!

Review: The Wine Society Special 14 Year old Blended Scotch Whisky

Blended whisky month and it’s day 11/12 of the 12 blends saga. Dave Worthington of Whisky discovery fame had prepared us this this cracker of a blind tasting. The Wine Society’s special 14 year old blended whisky. I guessed Whyte and Mackay 13 year old (almost had the age!).

So who are the wine society and why are they blending scotch whisky? The wine society are, well, a wine society. You pay a membership, they send wine. What’s more they’ve been going since the mid 19th century. According to their website, they have been selling their special blended whisky for more than a century!

So it’s an old blend, and what’s more it’s a bargain. Apparently they mature in their own sherry casks and Mortlach figures in the blend. Anyway, enough teasing. Here are the dramstats:

WineSoc

 

  • Age 14 Years
  • Price £25
  • 1 Litre
  • ABV 40%

Nose: Vanilla and sweet smoke kick us off before rich raisins and milk chocolate make an appearance. In the background is a touch of pine.

Palate: Sweet raisin and milk chocolate (milka), sultana, clean sherry notes. A touch thin, but moreish.

Finish: Just lovely fading sherry notes. No spice I can detect. Bitter chocolate muscles in on a rich fruity fade.

Verdict: 2 points. First, this is sweet, fruity, chocolatey and moreish. Really enjoyable, if not overly complex. Second, it’s £25 per litre!! I promised myself I would never swear on this blog, and so I won’t. Instead I’ll say it’s a *@!&*@* bargain! Don’t believe me? Check the #12blends hash tag on twitter to see the other bloggers raving about it. Or just buy a litre now before we buy it all!

 

Review: High West Whiskey Campfire

Today was our friend from Texas’ turn in the 12 blends competiton. Sean Foushee (@WhiskyMarks) had delivered a belter from across the pond: High West Whiskey: Campfire

Knowing Sean and his proximity to Balcones, and having tasted True Blue at Whisky Live, I thought this might be from Balcones. However, no official product was a blend. Nevertheless, I know Sean gets to tinker in their warehouses from time to time, so my guess was some blend from there that wasn’t official. It’s only a game after all! Wrong, but got the ABV and age right.

Here are the dramstats:

highwestcampfiresotry

 

  • ABV 46%
  • $53.99 (can’t find in the UK)

Nose: Corn and vanilla, sweet popcorn, treacle-honey, worcester sauce, charred oak, unripe banana, cinnamon, anise and smoke

Palate: Vanilla, sweet and tangy, sticky BBQ sauce with orange and honey,spices (cinnamon and pepper)

Finish: Fiery pepper, oak, rich vanilla and sweet, then really tangy.

Verdict: I love it! Shame you can’t get it in the UK yet, but here’s hoping. Very very good stuff this.

Review: The Antiquary 21 Year old Blended Scotch Whisky

Blended whisky month rolls on and I’m having a ball! It’s day 9 of our 12 blends and the turn of Steve Prentice of Somerset Whisky Blog to wow us all with a mystery blend. He chose, The Antiquary 21 year old blended scotch whisky and I’m very glad that he did!

I guessed the Balie Nicol Jarvie, though confidence was, as usual, pretty low. I toyed for about 10 minutes with something irish, Jameson 15, then thought better of it.

Here are the dramstats:

antiquary21

  • ABV 43%
  • Age 21
  • Price £54

Nose: Some nice grain, icing sugar, foam bananas, and hobnobs. Baked flapjack, zingy malt, vanilla. Some fresh pine, woody notes and a minty note.

Palate: Vanilla, flapjack and a big barley sugar punch.

Finish:  Peppery vanilla starburst! It literally sparkles on the tongue, with boiled sweets, pear drops and a touch of pine into the fade. This is a long and excellent finish.

Verdict: I love it. A fresh and zingy whisky slap in the face! Just what I needed after a hard day at the office! I am very surprised it is that old. However, I am not sure I’d pay £54 a bottle. I’m just not sure you need to pay that much for this type of pick you up after work dram. Maybe one night, when I need a good whisky slapping, I’ll cave and buy a bottle…I’ll keep you updated.

Review: Clontarf Blended Irish Whiskey

Blended Whisky month here on dramstats rolls into its second week. This time it’s day 8 of our blended whisky competition and Gal Granov of Whisky Israel has served up a dram of intrigue: Clontarf Irish Blended Whiskey.

So I was not a fan of this and I went for Harrier South African (mainly because I thought Gal might throw up a curve ball and go for a non scotch. I guess I was half right 😉 Here are the dramstats

picture from Gal

picture from Gal

  • ABV 40%
  • No Age Statement
  • Price £25

Nose: Parcel tape (pungent, even mrs dramstats, who says every whisky smells like apples, thought it smelled of parcel tape rather than apples), vanilla and bubblegum underneath

Palate: Malty vanilla flavoured icing sugar, a touch of wood and foam shrimps.

Finish: Drying and chalky malted vanilla. Slightly metallic.

Verdict: I am really not a fan of the parcel tape nose on this. The palate and finish are OK, and it was a really interesting whiskey to have tasted. Glad I had the opportunity. But I really wouldn’t want a bottle of this.

Review: Smokin’ Blended Scotch Whisky

It’s blended whisky month on dramstats, and it’s also my turn in the 12 blends competition. I’ve chosen an interesting and obscure new blended whisky from Duncan Taylor called: Smokin’, The Gentleman’s Dram.

This was only released on the 25th of February and that is why I chose it.

Those of us interested in whisky hear about, and even get to taste, new single malt whisky all the time. But profits in the whisky industry are driven by blends, not malts, and blended whisky is also frequently released. It just doesn’t get the same press as single malt in my opinion, (though compass box do very well).

In fact, you only have to look at how lost I and everyone in the 12 blends competition has been with respect to guessing the drams, to see that we don’t pay nearly the same level of attention to blends as we do to malts. I am betting that most of the guys in the competition have never heard of this one, and neither had I until I was looking to buy something released recently. So here we have a new, unusual and well priced blended scotch whisky. Here are the dramstats:

smokin

  • ABV 40%
  • Price £27

Nose: Smoke, but lots of different kinds. First it’s BBQ smoke, then sweet, then medicinal peat. The types of smoke all wisp and weave in the glass. Then honey, brown sauce, and sticky BBQ ribs all reminding me of grilling marinaded meat on a BBQ, and crusty brown bread. Yum!

Palate: Sweet and smokey, with liquorice and a honey-BBQ sauce on smoked pulled pork.

Finish: BBQ sweet smokey sauce with peppery oak and the different smoke types all having their say. First savoury, then sweet and finally medicinal.

Verdict: Very interesting. A cynic might say that the way the different types of smoke come through is a sign that the whisky is not well “integrated”. I wouldn’t because I really like it. There is simplicity to this “does what it says on the tin” type dram that you really appreciate after a long day at work (maybe having come in from the cold and the rain). You can pour a dram of this, relax, warm up and be put in mind of those far off summer evenings outside with a BBQ, good meat and good company. All for a pretty good daily dram price too.

Review: Johnnie Walker Platinum 18 years

Continuing blended whisky month here on dramstats with day 6 of our 12 blends competition. Today it was the turn of Tom a la Tom’s Whisky Reviews.

He has chosen Johnnie Walker Platinum Label 18 Years, which I spectacularly failed to guess. I’ve gone for Compass Box Asayla.

Johnnie Walker Platinum is what I consider to be the top of the non-premium Johnnie Walker blends, which start with ‘Blue label’. That’s my definition not theirs, but I view this blend at the top of the “affordable” range and JW blue, at over £130, as “premium” in the sense that it would have to be very good indeed for me to part with that sort of money.

Here are the dramstats:

jwPlat

  • ABV 40%
  • Age 18 Years
  • Price £63

Nose: Oak, sea spray, subtle peat smoke, cut grass, furniture polish.

Palate: Sweet maple syrup, plum juice, vanilla, malty with some sweet sherry notes.

Finish: Pepper, malty ovaltine and plum juice. Fairly mild fade with a faint tingle of oak.

Verdict: Nice, and I definitely enjoyed it. However, when blind tasting I noted that for me it was a touch difficult for a blend and I didn’t find that the nose connected all that well with the palate. Knowing now what it is, I was perhaps tasting it with the wrong head on, and expecting a comforting and drinkable every day type dram (which for me a good blend in the £20-£45 range should be). This is obviously more expensive and more of a complex treat. Saying that, I wouldn’t part with £64 for a bottle of this, but I would like to taste it again.