Review: Little Book Chapter 2, “Noe Simple Task”

In what seems to be a lineup playing outside the typical confines of blending whiskey here in America, the second release of Beam Suntory’s Little Book hits shelves. For this 2018 expression, Freddie Noe looked past using only American straight whiskies in his blend. The result is a blend of 8-year-old Kentucky straight rye whiskey, 13-year-old Canadian rye whisky (aged in recharred barrels), and 40-year-old Canadian whisky that aged in once-used bourbon barrels.

In a nod to his grandfather Booker’s namesake whiskey, Little Book is presented at cask strength and unfiltered. “Noe Simple Task” comes in at 118.8 proof.

I liked the inaugural release in 2017, and this one stacks up. The nose is fragrant and floral with hints of violets, spice, and caramel. The palate offers an interesting tasting journey. Waves of caramel corn intermingle with a healthy dose of rye spice and cherries. There’s a slightly darker undercurrent of barrel char and tobacco on the back palate adding complexity. Caramel and oak return for the long finish.

The Little Book brand is Beam Suntory’s experimental series, or so it seems. Freddie Noe is two for two in putting together interesting blends. Make no mistake, Little Book does not contain a traditional American whiskey flavor profile. It’s more an exercise for a potential future master distiller to hone his blending skills. Thankfully, “Noe Simple Task” is an interesting whiskey, but more importantly it’s a tasty one. 8/10

Thanks to Beam Suntory for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Review: Highland Park Valnut

HP-2018-Valknut-Hero-Bottle+Carton-750ml-CMYKHighland Park has just released Valknut, the sequel to last year’s Valkyrie.  The distillery has partnered with Danish designer Jim Lyngvild to design the packaging.

As for the whisky itself, it’s said to be a “bolder, more intense style of Highland Park,” according to press materials.  The whisky was mostly matured in American  sherry seasoned casks.  Additionally, this expression features a slightly higher phenolic level than Valknut and was partially made from Orkney-grown tartan barley.  Valknut has been bottled at 46.8% ABV and is available for $80.

Love the nose here.  It’s vibrant and aromatic, with hints of toffee, toasted almonds, vanilla, herbs, and heather.  Taste-wise, Valknut is sweet, herbal, and a touch spicy.  A small wave of vanilla pod develops into cloves and spice, which becomes a bit dry and slightly leathery.  A nice smokiness becomes a bit bolder, especially towards the long finish.  In fact, those spice and heather notes ramp us as well.

I like it, but tend to prefer Highland Park Valkyrie.  I think that expression is a bit more sherry cask-driven and balanced than Valknut.  It simply has more going on.  The nose is fantastic, but it falls a bit short on the palate compared to Valkyrie.  That said, Valknut is a great choice for those looking for an aromatic and spicy whisky. 7.5/10

Thanks to Highland Park for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Laphroaig 28-Year-Old

Ultra-aged expressions of Laphroaig can be some mighty fine whisky.  For 2018, the distillery has released a 28-year-old expression.  The whiskies that make up this expression have matured in different sized casks, from quarter casks to butts.  For the last year, they’ve been married together in sherry casks. Peated whisky in sherry casks? I’m sold.

Bottled at 44.4% ABV, Laphroaig 28-year-old has a fantastically interesting nose with hints of toffee, dried herbs, tropical fruit, anise, and cloves.  On the palate, fresh fruit juice and stewed pears are matched with toasted cedar staves, peppercorns, brine and grilled mushrooms.  The finish is long with sweet peat, grilled tropical fruit, and spice.

The Islay-based distillery has done it again. It’s released a carefully matured whisky showcasing some of its best qualities. This expensive ($799) bottle is a treasure trove of classic Laphroaig aromas and flavors delivered in droves. The tropical fruit and spice notes are prominent, as the famous medicinal-like notes come across in a more laid back fashion. Delicious. Yes. Expensive? Definitely. Worth it? If you can afford it. 9/10

Thanks to Laphroaig for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.