Archive for Dram du Jour

Tonight’s Dram

Highland Park 21
Sold Exclusively via Travel Retail

This is one of my favorites, and one of the best HP expressions I have ever owned. I hear that there is a -23 that is very good, but I haven’t had the pleasure. The -21 has the usual citrus notes you’d expect from Highland Park. In the nose I get a hint of peat with Tangerines and oaky caramels and vanillas with some wet leather and baking/mulling spices. On the palate there is a wonderful mix of oiliness and seawater (the texture is thin, yet it coats the mouth nicely). The finish develops over a few minutes and I get lovely peat in there with what can only be described as Apple cider or perhaps Quince. The finish has fruity/floral notes that are unexpected.

This expression is smoother than the -18 and I like it very much. You can get it at the SFO international terminal for $105 (price observed 2 months ago). It’s also available at LHR for £60. That’s where I got mine, through the efforts of a good friend.


Back Home on the Ranch

It’s GREAT to be home! Today’s dram:

Eagle RareSingle BarrelKentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Aged 10 Years

Barrel #103 Hand-Selected by Draeger’s

Starting tomorrow (or this weekend), a series on the details of distilling.

Tonight’s Dram: Links Carnoustie (14)

Butterscotch and leather, cloves and a hint of coconut and banana among the other dark/dried fruit notes. A bit of iodine in the nose. I love this one.

Mechanics of Taste

I have to admit that this is a tough thing to write about. The physiology of taste is something that is very personal, and tied to the sense of smell as well. When you drink whisky, those senses plus the “feel” in the mouth are all involved, and even sight.

I am tasting Port Charlotte PC6 “Cuairt Beatha” now, and it’s much more mellow than the PC5, which was like a wild winter storm in comparison. Not that I didn’t like it. 🙂 I’m conserving my PC5, else I’d do a side-by-side tasting right now. The first sense involved when drinking whisky is olfactory: The smell is not just peaty. There is a nice subtle sweetness, almost brown sugar, in the nose, and as you may know, a lot of alcohol. It’s 61.6% ABV, so I added a splash of water.

Anyway, when I taste it, I swirl it around in my whole mouth. There are taste buds all around the inside of your mouth, even though most by far are on the tongue. After the initial “burn” of the alcohol, there is a nice sense of sherry and bourbon oak notes, undercurrents of vanilla and caramel, that evolve into dark and/or dried fruits like plums, raisins, and I definitely get brown sugar. The sensations evolve across the tongue as well. I get the sweetness from different parts and as the flavor profile evolves, I am left with the afterglow of the fruit and oak notes.

The nice final parting shot comes from the vapors coating the throat that you can smell when you exhale. It’s a wonderful experience and it involves so many senses. I suppose the one sense I didn’t mention is sight. One of the wonderful things is the anticipation of the coming smell and taste, and it starts when you look at the bottle. Before I had even opened it I was able to tell — just by the color — that this was aged in Sherry butts. It’s much redder than whisky that’s aged in ex-bourbon barrels. [Ohh…nice — just got a black cherry sensation!]

Anyway, the whisky experience starts as soon as you heft the bottle out of the can and pull out the cork. It’s a multi-sensory experience and it involves, I would presume, a lot of the brain running in parallel. I combine what I sense with what I know about who made it, where it came from, and if I have ever visited, those memories as well. After all that, it’s good for you, too! A dram a day is definitely very good for the health.

BTW, Cuiart Beatha is Scottish Gaelic for “Walk of Life” — and that word “Beatha” is also used in the phrase Uisge Beatha, which means “Water of Life” and Uisge is the source of the word “whisky.” It’s essentially how Uisge is pronounced. Not being a Scot, I’ll never be able to modulate it exactly correctly.

On a hot day…I still drink Bruichladdich

It was 90+ degrees (F) here today, and as a result I might not go for a heavily peated high-ABV whisky, but the Bruichladdich’s I have in the house are very nice. Tonight’s dessert was mountain blueberry pie (my wife is an awesome baker!) after which I had some of the Bruichladdich Links Carnoustie. Yum!

With that said, I am looking forward to cooler weather, and some rain. I just checked and it looks like Islay is getting some rain in the near future, which is pretty much par for the course from what I can tell. This Winter, I’m really looking forward to my Port Charlotte PC7. I’m conserving my PC5 until I get the full range of the pre-production series. It’s shaping up very nicely, but two points don’t really constitute a data set from which conclusions can be drawn. Can you tell I was a Physicist by education? 😉

mini-review of 14-yr.-old Links “Carnoustie”

Well, this is a mini-review since I’m writing on my iPhone.

Based on the color, this whisky wasn’t aged only in bourbon casks — it isn’t so dark as to indicate long-term exposure to Sherry butts or Port pipes.

It’s got a lovely caramel color (natural of course!) and there is a hint of peat in the nose. It reminds me a bit of Highland Park 18 in the citrus flavors. The finish is very nice. What I get in the mouth is toffee and other sweet flavors. And of course, it’s got the lovely barley flavors — it’s whisky, after all! — and a small amount of peat (I think). It’s 46% ABV so it really does not need water.