single malt scotch whisky

Review: Speyburn 15-Year-Old Single Malt Whisky

My introduction to Speyburn a couple of years ago came in the form of its 10-year-old and NAS expressions.  Their light and approachable character was matched with their very affordable price tag.  Flavor-wise, it’s like a sort of second cousin to Glenmorangie 10yr, without the floral notes.  What’s not to love!

The brand’s core range grew with the recent addition of a 15-year-old single malt.  Priced at $65, Speyburn 15yr is still easy on the wallet.  It matured in a combination of American oak and Spanish oak (read ex-bourbon and ex-sherry) casks.

The nose hints at a creamy whisky, with vanilla, orange peel, and dried fruit.  It reminds me of a custard dessert like a crème caramel.  On the palate, creamy toffee and vanilla kick things off.  Developing soon after are spice notes, dried fruits and semi-sweet chocolate.  Bitter orange appears on the back palate.  The long finish is warm, with hints of creamy vanilla and orange peel.

Compared to its younger 10-year-old sibling, Speyburn 15-year-old manages to bring a slightly darker and elegant quality to the table – the toffee’s a bit darker, more spice, and the addition of dark chocolate.  The dried fruit add even more complexity.

I’m a fan, even with the $30 – $40 markup for an extra five years of maturation.  It is still cheaper than a lot of 15-year-old single malts on the market.  Speyburn is value-driven without sacrificing quality, and that’s something I always appreciate.  Highly recommended! 8.5/10

Speyburn.com

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

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Laphroaig 27-Year-Old Whisky Review

Laphroaig ends the year on a high note with the release of its 27-year-old single malt. This expression is the latest entry in the brand’s Super Premium series, following exquisite 32-year-old and 30-year-old whiskies, released in 2015 and 2016, respectively. For this 2017 release, whiskies matured in refill hogsheads were transferred to first-fill ex-bourbon barrels and refill quarter casks. After more than a quarter century of maturation, Laphroaig 27-year-old is bottled at 83.4 proof, or 41.7 ABV. It would be safe to assume this is cask strength given its random proof.

The whisky carries rich aromas of tropical fruit, leather, peat, citrus, and vanilla. On entry, vanilla cream develops into key lime pie, tobacco leaf, and tropical fruit punch. Hints of earthy peat and smoke begin gently piercing though but don’t overpower the other flavors. Of note is the whisky’s oily mouthfeel, which coats the palate in flavor. Though Laphroaig 27-year-old is a low 83.4 proof, it doesn’t present itself as thin or watered down. The finish is long and slightly warming with a citrus-tinged smoky character.

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a fan. Laphroaig has another winner on their hands with this release. It is a satisfying, well-matured, and balanced whisky. Laphroaig lovers with deep pockets ($750 a bottle) should seek this out quickly, as it’s a one-time release. Highly recommended! 8.5/10

Laphroaig.com

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

Highland Park Full Volume Whisky Review

Just in time for the holidays, Highland Park has released their newest creation – Full Volume. The distillery compares the creation of Full Volume to that of producing music. How’s that? It’s about keeping balance while delivering full, big flavors. Same with music. You want the final mix to sound balanced and, even when played at full volume, without distortion.

The distillery is known for exclusively using ex-sherry casks for maturing whisky. This is where Full Volume makes a left turn. It is created using only ex-bourbon casks. Two hundred barrels and 250 hogsheads, to be exact. The casks were filled in 1999 and the whisky bottled in 2017. Eagle eyed readers will notice the lack of an actual age statement. If this whisky were 18 years old, I think Highland Park would proudly tout that. Just putting that out there for those who care. Age statements don’t mean as much to me as the quality of whisky in the bottle.

The nose on this pale golden whisky is incredible. Bourbon barrel influences of soft vanilla and coconut complement Highland Park’s signature floral and heathery peat character. A bit of light toffee and sweet oak relax in the background. Bottled at 47.2% abv, Full Volume has oily legs for days. Creamy vanilla, lemon tart, and cinnamon toast form most of the flavor profile. Touches of light smoke and leather appear in the background. The finish is medium in length and rather clean in nature, leaving behind lingering hints of lemon custard, light baking spice, and a wisp of smoke.

Full Volume is a delightful deviation from the distillery’s profile of sherry cask maturation. Kudos to Highland Park for bottling this release higher than 40% abv. The blender was after balance and that’s what he achieved here, especially for the $110 retail price. Wonderful stuff! 8.5/10

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