single malt scotch whisky

Review: Lagavulin Offerman Edition

Actor, comedian, woodworker, and America’s sweetheart Nick Offerman loves Lagavulin. After all, it was featured as the favorite whisky of Ron Swanson, Offerman’s iconic character on Parks & Recreation. He’s also starred in a series of whisky-related videos on Youtube. Let me reiterate: the man loves Lagavulin.

So much so that Offerman teamed up with Lagavulin distillery manager Colin Gordon to create his very own expression. The result is Lagavulin Offerman Edition, an 11-year-old single malt bottled at 46% ABV. As Mr. Offerman himself says:

I have traveled the world and sampled many attempts at pleasing nectars, but it is solely this distillation of Islay; a tiny, charismatic Scottish isle, that has claimed my palate. Yah, and my heart into the bargain.

Nick Offerman

On the nose, a blend of campfire smoke and grilled pineapple presents itself rather nicely. A sprinkling of kelp, red pepper and sweet oak round things out. The palate offers what I love about Lagavulin: a full-bodied, full flavored smoky malt. Hints of salted toffee meet a wave of campfire-like peat smoke. Grilled tropical fruit (I assume a lot of ex-bourbon barrel maturation here) bring an element of sweetness. The mid-palate offers a hearty helping of oak spice and sprinkling of dried fruit and dried herbs. The long finish is warming, sweet, and smoky.

Photo credit: Diageo

Lagavulin Offerman Edition is a fantastic expression from the distillery. It comes across as bolder than the core 16-year-old offering, but not as intense as the annual 12-year-old release. Showcasing some of the whisky’s spicier notes was a good decision, and one that plays well with the big, smoky distillery character. At $74.99, Lagavulin Offerman Edition is a must buy for Lagavulin fans. I can’t think of a better pour during a Parks & Recreation binge session.

The press sample was accompanied by special pieces from the Offerman Wood Shop.

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

Review: Highland Park Twisted Tattoo

Recently released from Highland Park, Twisted Tattoo sees a unique twist from the Orkney-based distillery. The 16-year-old expression features a large percentage of whisky matured in first-fill Spanish Rioja wine casks. Highland Park is historically known for its use of ex-sherry casks for maturation of its whiskies. Though recent years (and the current whisky climate) have seen the distillery experimenting with other cask types, such as bourbon and port casks.

Highland Park provides the exact cask breakdown on the Twisted Tattoo packaging, which was designed by Danish tattoo artist Colin Dale.

153 casks laid down between 11th May 200 and 29th October 2001, filled into 220 litre first-fill Rioja wine casks in January and March 2016 at 59.5%

70 first-fill bourbon casks from 1999, filled at strengths of between 63.6% and 63.7%.

Casks married together in September 2018 and filtered at 4°C.

It sounds like more than two thirds of the whisky here is rested in Rioja wine casks for a couple of years. That’s just enough time to season the whisky with Rioja wine influence. Twisted Tattoo is bottled at 46.7% ABV.

The nose is aromatic as one would expect from Highland Park. It features hints of that signature heathery peat, vanilla, bright red fruit, and toasted oak. The palate starts with a sweet vanilla, heather, blood orange, and raspberries. Wisps of smoke appear mid-palate. Some oak spice and wine tannins lead us into a long, warm finish.

Readers of this blog know Highland Park is one of my favorite distilleries. I love tasting their non-sherry cask expressions. Not all these experimentations are as delicious as Twisted Tattoo. The bourbon and red wine cask maturation work really well here, as the former really allow the aromatic & slightly smoky spirit shine and the latter doesn’t overtake said distillery character. Rather, the red wine cask maturation compliments it nicely. Very highly recommended!

Highlandparkwhisky.com

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

Review: Mortlach Core Range (12-yr, 16-yr, and 20-yr)

Ah, the Beast of Dufftown. Mortlach, the Speyside distillery known for its rich sherried whiskies, has recently updated their core lineup to include 12-, 16-, and 20-year-old expressions.

All whiskies are bottled at 43.4% ABV. They all have something else in common – none of these expressions feature lightly peated malt.

MORTLACH 12-YEAR-OLD WEE WITCHIE

The entry level expression is a 12-year-old single malt called the Wee Witchie. Available for $50, this whisky is rich and fruity on the nose with hints of overly-ripe apricot, oak spice, and sweet malt. The palate bears creamy vanilla notes as well as toffee, ripe pear, sweet malt, and a sprinkling of baking spices. The medium length finish leaves sweet malt, toasted oak, and candied citrus. This whisky is big and oily. The sweet malt is slightly dominant at first, but some airtime allows other flavors and aromas to shine. 7.5/10

MORTLACH 16-YEAR-OLD DISTILLER’S DRAM

In the middle of the new lineup lies Mortlach 16-year-old ($110). The nose is big and aromatic; much heavier than its younger sibling. It’s also much darker, with loads of dried fruit and a heavier helping of baking spices, especially cloves. Those spices carry over onto the palate. Waves of cinnamon and cloves hit first, followed by waves of stewed fruit and astringent oak. Dark toffee and tea tannins lead us into the long, sweet, earthy finish. Big and meaty, this 16-year-old expression might just be my favorite of the bunch. 9/10

MORTLACH 20-YEAR-OLD COWIE’S BLUE SEAL

Finally, we have Mortlach 20-year-old, available for $250. The nose is slightly subdued but starts to come alive with a splash of water and some airtime. There is a lot going on here. Hints of stewed stone fruit concentrate, spice, and aromatic wood lead to fermented tobacco leaves and dark toffee. This is an oily whisky. It’s palate coating, for sure. An initial earthiness leads to big caramel and stone fruit notes. Cocoa and honey give way to old oak and dried figs. The finish is long and features lingering notes of licorice and dried fruit… the official tasting notes are on the money for that last part. Mortlach 20-year-old is a fine whisky, but might be too heavy and meaty for regular drinking. Call it a special occasion whisky. 8.5/10

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