I, Catherine, am not a big lover of Scotch reviews, but do like them in certain circumstances. My hope for this page is that members of the group will submit their reviews on the meet up site and I will reprint them here with their names. I have reviewed some of my favorites, and will add some more in, but I really would like this section to have many different member reviews. These reviews are by Catherine Sikora unless stated at the start of the review.
This was really my first single malt so I want to give it the honor of my first review. It continues to be a perennial favorite. It is smoky and peppery and calls you back for more after you have had it! The Isle of Skye is a special place, one of my all time favorite places to be. Drinking Talisker brings me back to Skye just for a bit and I find that Scotch really has a lot to do with this kind of thing as to why one picks this one or that as a favorite Scotch. I will say that it is a richer, peaty, Island type of Scotch, so if you like a heathery, honey Scotch form the Highlands, this may not be a good place to start. But don’t count it out if you tried it and it was too strong. You may like it again in the future once you have had more Scotch.
This was my second single malt I tasted in Scotland. Someone saw me drinking Talisker and said I should try this as a nice contrast and they were right. One thing that I have noticed as I try more and more Scotch is that I rarely, if ever, think a Scotch is bad. They all have their own stories to tell, and the circumstances of their introduction to your life can determine what you call a favorite. This Scotch is a great single malt to give to a person who wants to start trying Scotch Whisky. It is light, with heather and honey and not much peat. It is really so delicious and is highly thought of by many lovers of Scotch. I suggest drinking it neat and slowly. As you sip it and savor the after taste, it will bring a very pleasant sensation to your mouth before you take the next sip. Dalwhinnie is considered one of the highest distilleries in Scotland and Michael Jackson calls it a Speyside, but really it is a Highland Malt. The distillery is located right in the middle of Scotland, about equal distance as the crow flies from all the major cities. It is west of the traditional Speyside region.
The Macallan 12
I love the smell of whisky. The Macallan 12 smells sweet and delicious – like a toffee candy! It tastes delightful as well! I first tried The Macallan because it is such a highly regarded Scotch and as I was just beginning to be exposed to different Scotches, it seemed a logical one to try. I liked it from the first sip and I have to say – it still lands among my favorites. It is a Speyside, but has its own unique flavor and character. This expression is famously aged in sherry casks and the flavor of the Scotch does have a fruitiness and mellowness that is delightful. Michael Jackson says in The Complete Guide to Single Malt Scotch, ” …the reaction between wood and sherry is also of great importance. This appears to wash out the harshest tannins and help release a rich, rounded spiciness. This is felt to be far more significant than any aromas and flavors imparted by the sherry itself….research suggests that barely a third of aromas and flavors originated from the spirit, almost 60 percent from the oak, and less than 10 percent from the sherry.” So this suggests to me that the sherry treats the wood and then the whisky, which is already finely made, gathers the rest of its flavors from the wood and sherry of the cask. The Macallan makes a big point of not using artificial colorings and devotes a whole section on its website to this. The color is from the time spent in the casks. If you have not ever tried this Scotch, make a point to order it the next time you see it. You won’t regret it.
Cutty Sark Prohibition Blended Scotch Whisky
This whisky is surprisingly delicious and smooth. I really love this whisky neat. It smells liked baked goods and tastes sweet, but not like a sherried Scotch or heathered honey Speyside tastes sweet. It is a balanced, rich sweetness that the other grains add to the barley. According to a Chicago Tribune article from December 23, 2014, “In Cutty Sark, the single malts are primarily Glenrothes, Tamdhu, and Bunnahabhain, but also include Glengoyne, Highland Park, Macallan, Macduff, Craigellachie and Glenfarclas. The grain whiskey is mainly north British but also comes from Invergordon, Scotland, and elsewhere. Fifteen percent of the malt whiskeys in Cutty Sark are from first-fill former sherry casks, which are typically 3-to-1 ratio American oak to European oak, but all the malts in Cutty Prohibition have been matured in American oak sherry casks.” I am consistently surprised at how sweet and delicious this whisky is. It is a good value, at about $30 a bottle!
Bruichladdich The Organic
There is HUGE controversy about No Age Statement (NAS) Scotch. My stance is that I like what I like, and the age rarely influences me. I frequently blind taste my Scotches side by side to get a feel for their flavors. Bruichladdich is an Islay Distillery who makes some very peaty Scotches and some no peat Scotches. Yes, you read that correctly – an ISAY malt with no peat. They love to experiment with all sorts of ideas and don’t want to be constrained by age statements in their creativity. But this does not lend itself to you getting to have a Scotch you loved consistently over and over through the years. It is much more like wine. You find something you like and you enjoy it and then it is gone and you remember it, but move on to your next beloved whisky. The Organic from Bruichladdich is not being made any more. So sad! It is not sherried or peaty, nor does it taste like a Speyside. It smells like bread when you first pour it and then it smells like a sweet roll. First a yeasty slightly sour smell hits you but it quickly transforms into this delicious sweet smell! The taste is bright, full of the spicy barley you expect from Scotch whisky. There are notes of citrus, but an underlying rich complexity as well. Bruichladdich gives us some terrific whisky. Even if you can’t find this one, try what you can find!