Leopold Bros. Straight Bourbon 4 Year
Bourbon — Colorado, USATasted December 31, 2021This is not just another craft distillery bourbon, but then Todd Leopold is not just another distiller. His 25 years of experience appears to have given him and his brother the confidence and clarity of vision to ignore the mainstream industry's conventions and take a path that he says prioritizes quality and the environment over economic efficiency. Their atypical mash bill comprises 64% corn, 17% malted barley and 15% Abruzzi heritage rye. An open fermentation process allows wild yeasts from the distillery's garden to mingle in the distillery's wooden tanks. Entry proofs and temperatures are lower and fermentation times longer compared to the bigger producers. All of this adds up to a bourbon with a distinct flavor profile that I would take any day over most Four Roses or Buffalo Trace products. The nose leans so much towards rye that I would never have identified this as bourbon in a blind tasting: there's clove and black tea, like a chai blend. In the mouth it starts dry and then blooms into orange rind, with a dash of sweetness and a hint of oak spice. The finish is dry with orange notes. The proof keeps everything in balance and while the five-year version dials it up to 50% I preferred this version. I don't drink much bourbon, but if I were to keep a house bottle it would be this.
Leopold Three chamber bottle in bond rye
Rye — Colorado , USATasted December 30, 2021I can’t let the year close without adding my voice to the chorus of delight that greeted arguably the most original whisky of the year. The Leopold brothers’ recreation of a pre-Prohibition style still has produced something quite unlike any other modern rye or bourbon. The nose is a sun-kissed garden of honey, jasmine, lavender and ginger, accompanied by warm lemon tea mixed with (more) honey. The mouth flavors begin with brown bread and butter, then burst like a firework into ginger and black tea, with a delicate floral undertone. I’ve tried this a few times now and each taste surprises anew, so while it’s a very expensive whisky it delivers a unique flavor profile that justifies buying a bottle to share with friends.
Bruichladdich Redder Still
Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted December 28, 2021One of the highlights of a recent Bruichladdich session. Like many of the older wine-influenced Laddies, its backbone is some well-structured tannins that balance the fruitier flavors.
Bruichladdich Yellow Submarine WMDII 14 Year
Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted December 28, 2021Nose: Tangy, citrus Palate: Bitter, dry, tangy Finish: Dry, a little short Sadly not a patch on the later version.
Torabhaig Allt Gleann The Legacy Series 2nd Edition
Peated Single Malt — Island, ScotlandTasted December 27, 2021The advent of Torabhaig and Ardnamurchan was among the most exciting developments in whisky this year, announcing that Scotland was just as able to birth promising new distilleries as the rest of the world. I liked the first release from Torabhaig so much I joked that they must have stolen their spirit from neighbor Talisker, but this second release isn’t as strong overall. The nose is sublime: toffee, butterscotch and barley, joined after after a while by grapefruit and lemon before the butterscotch returns. But the palate is thin and woody, with a touch of lemon the only echo of the nose. Disappointing then, but this whisky is still young and I look forward to it realizing more of its potential next year.
Paul John Christmas Edition 2020
Peated Single Malt — IndiaTasted December 24, 2021You really can’t go wrong with any edition in this series and while this isn’t the best of the bunch it’s the one I have to hand. Ginger and orange on the nose, orange rind and crackling clove spices on the palate - it’s as Christmas as Mariah Carey roasting on an open fire. “Baby it’s Cold Outside” would have been over within a verse if the singer’s response to “My mother will start to worry” had been “Have some Paul John and curry.” Why yes, I will have just another drink. Merry Christmas Distiller gang!
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted December 4, 2021A surprisingly fruity Octomore, dominated by flavors of peaches and grapes rather than peat. There’s plenty of pepper, to be sure, but it’s a luscious easy-drinking Octomore rather than a head-blaster. Pairs well with: Octomore Ten Years Dialogos. I revisited this thanks to a generous sample from @PBMichiganWolverine and it’s easily worth my previous rating of 4.5, if not higher. Thick, silky flavors that perfectly balance peat and sweet.
Bruichladdich Feis Ile 2021 single cask
Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted December 1, 2021Leather, old books, butterscotch and barbecue sauce make this single cask released for 2021’s virtual Feis Ile an aromatic pleasure. There’s not much in the way of traditional Bruichladdich flavors or any sense of barley in the glass, but tastes of caramel, well-done brownies and some oak spice put it at the interesting end of the sherry cask spectrum. It finishes dry with an umami aftertaste of mushrooms.
Bowmore Vintner's Trilogy 26 Year French Oak Barrique
Peated Single Malt — Islay, ScotlandTasted November 30, 2021Two whisky things that are more likely than not to disappoint me are Bowmore and wine cask maturations. The former has taken its core range in a tooth-rotting direction that I wouldn’t recommend to anyone, while the frequent application of heavy Cabernet-style finishes at many distilleries too often feels like lipstick on a pig. Here though everything is in balance. The wine cask has added mouth-puckering tannins that make for a deliciously dry dram. There’s a pleasing viscocity to the liquid too and the berry notes from the wine are subtle rather than overpowering. A very satisfying pour, courtesy of @pkingmartin.
Glen Scotia 10 year Peated
Peated Single Malt — Campbeltown, ScotlandTasted November 28, 2021I've been waiting to get hold of a bottle of this ever since I tried a sample two years ago but for some reason it never showed up on the shelves until recently. It's an instant classic: an easy drinking peated whisky that scratches all the right itches. The nose is surprisingly soft but the spirit delivers a crescendo of sweet coastal peat in the mouth that is reminiscent of a young Talisker. It's Skye by way of Campbeltown, a route well worth taking. One of the best new standard releases of the year.60.0 USD per Bottle