Diageo

Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Triple Grain American Oak Blended Whisky Review

New from Casa de Walker is the limited edition Triple Grain American Oak.  It’s the third entry in the Johnnie Walker’s experimental Blender’s Batch series, and first released here in the U.S. The Triple Grain American Oak (TGAO) is made up of three grain whiskies (wheat, barley, and corn) including some from Port Dundas, and two malt whiskies from the Cardu and Mortlach distilleries.  The whiskies here are at least 10 years old, and have matured in American oak casks.  

This blend is said to be inspired by Master Blender Jim Beveridge’s interest in American whiskies.  The last new Johnnie Walker expression I tried, Select Casks Rye Cask Finish, also tried to cater to the American whiskey drinker.  I really enjoyed that blend.  I’d love to see rye whiskey barrels used more in Scotland.  Johnnie Walker TGAO is bottled at 41.3% abv and can be found for about $30 a bottle, while supplies last.

Information from the brand suggests it was designed to be a mixer in cocktails, but it’s really nice on its own.  On the nose, I pick up – no smoke!  A rare deviation for Johnnie Walker.  Instead we get candied fruit, vanilla, caramel and a light floral note.  The palate is creamy, and combined with the vanilla on entry comes across as vanilla pudding.  Some caramel apple and spice follow, with hints of buttered wheat toast and very, very light whisp of wood smoke (maybe I’m imagining).  The finish is short and clean – sweet grain with just a touch of spice.

Add this to my list of Scotch whiskies for bourbon drinkers to try.  Sweet fruit and vanilla are the stars here, and are two notes usually found in bourbon.  There’s virtually zero peat here, which I know seems to turn off a lot people thinking of getting into Scotch.  I have to reiterate that Johnnie Walker Blender’s Batch Triple American Oak is a one-time release and very well priced for what it delivers.   8.5/10

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

Port Ellen 37-Year-Old Single Malt Whisky (2016) Review

Ah, the venerable Port Ellen.  The cult favorite, or at least among the whisky obsessed.  This 16th release of the infamous Islay whisky is also the oldest ever released.  Distilled in 1978, this bottling was drawn from refill American oak hogsheads and refill European oak butts.  Since the distillery’s shutdown in 1983, we’ve seen a slow but steady trickle of Port Ellen hit the market.  But there is only so much left, which partially explains the $4,000 price tag.  

It took some time (and a few drops of water) for this cask strength whisky (55.2% abv) to open up. When it did, I was greeted by hints of apricot, seaweed, leather, tropical fruit concentrate, peat smoke and carmelized wood sugars. The palate is built on a foundation of sweet peat smoke, but it’s not heavy. Ethereally floating on top are hints of guava, lemon peel, old wood, and vanilla custard, as well as a touch of seaweed and leather (rancio?). The finish is long, leaving hints of light smoke and salted, slightly rotten tropical fruit.

Surprisingly lively for a 37 year old whisky. In fact, I’m the same age and it’s probably livelier than I am! Another spectacular bottling of Port Ellen.  Get this one while it’s still around. 9.5/10

Auchroisk 25-Year-Old Single Malt Whisky (2016) Review

Auchroisk is another distillery that rarely puts out a single malt, instead relagating the majority of its whisky to use for blends.  Here’s its time to shine.  This 25-year-old expression was distilled in 1990.  Whiskies matured in refill American oak hogsheads and European oak butts were pulled for this release.  It’s bottled at 51.2% abv and retails for $450.  I have a bottle of the 20-year-old Auchroisk released in 2010, and loved it.  What’s five more years of maturation do to this whisky?

The fruity nose features fresh berries and orchard fruits, complemented by the smells of a French bakery, faint butterscotch and light oak.  Orange zest and oak spice quickly lead to hints of mulled wine and espresso.  There’s a nuttiness that comes across (with the rest of the palate in mind) as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I know, I know…  Balancing out that nuttiness is a touch of salted caramel.  The finish is clean overall, with faint hints of salted nuts, herbs and toffee.

Wow!  As good as the 20-year expression was, this one gives a richer, more balanced presentation of the Speyside whisky.  Recommended!  9/10

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