Category Archives: Springtime

1995 Imperial single cask # 50145, bottled by Signatory


Region – Speyside – 46% ABV – still available here and there for around $80-85

Imperial cask 50145 SignatoryImperial distillery – dismantled then destroyed, and now, in 2015, resurrected as the Dalmunach distillery.

Sadly, they’re not trying to replicate what Imperial produced at this new distillery.  Still, it’ll be exciting to see what Dalmunach produces.

While not my favorite whisky producer in the world, when I’m out and about looking for indy bottlings of whisky, Imperial is the number one distillery I seek out.  Like Springbank, Imperial has a style that is all its own, and completely unmistakable: Mineral-like, flinty, sometimes a bit chalky, and nearly always rich (be it ex-bourbon matured, ex-sherry matured or otherwise).

What does this one taste like?  Funny you should ask…

Signatory Imperial Cask 50145On the nose — Marzipan soaking in salted water.  Lemongrass  infused honey. All these things are sitting in the center of a dry granite quarry with dust in the wind.

Pocket change, and somehow the smell of the taste of a copper penny in your mouth.

Sugar-free apple sauce.

On the mouth  Wait, I shall now begin calling this category “In the mouth” because A) you put whisky IN your mouth, not ON it, and B) those that dig innuendos can think of this line as a sophomoric dick joke.

In the mouth (teehee) —  Man, this does not disappoint.  It’s that rich, meets minerality, meets chalkiness I described above.

Elderflower liquor minus the added sweetness.

(“Minus the added.” I like that. Consider it ™’d.)

Signatory Imperial Cask 50145A rich, oily mouthfeel is complimented by notes of cream soda (a slight fizziness on the tongue helps support this note) and melting Bit-O-Honey™.

Signatory Imperial Cask 50145Finish — Medium-ish.  There’s a nice peppery-spice left on the back of the tongue and the granite dust slowly fades away, forcing you to take another sip.

In sum — This is a cracking little Imperial, to be sure.  Even at 46%, it’s got great life to it and is satisfying. I still think indy bottlers should bottle always bottle at full cask strength, giving the consumer the choice to dilute.

Signatory Imperial Cask 50145Still, one of the brands my company imports (Chieftain’s Range) releases some whisky at 46% so…throwing first stones and all… (was it Jesus or Billy Joel who said that)?

It’s a fine Imperial. I’d personally buy another bottle if I saw it on the shelf…

Chichibu The First – Japan’s newest distillery and their first 3yo whisky released in 2011


Chichibu The First Japanese Single Malt WhiskyRegion: Japan – 61.8% ABV – Likely all sold out everywhere but Master of Malt had it at one time for $148

As a lover of Japanese malt whiskies, I’ve been tracking Chichibu since the very beginning.  And the beginning can be tracked all the way back to 2008.  Yeah, Chichibu is a very young distillery but one that was sure to show promise with Mr. Ichiro Akuto at the helm.

For more info on the Chichibu distillery and Ichiro Akuto, be sure to check it out here at the Whisky For Everyone website.

I’ve tasted many of Chichibu’s new make releases (peated, heavily peated, cask finished, etc…) and was Sofa King excited to hear the announcement of their first actual whisky.

I bought this bottle the day it was released (back in 2012 in the UK market) and have been slowly sipping on it since then.  With 2/3 of the bottle still left, I thought it was high time I finally and officially review this whisky.

Here we go, y’all:

Chichibu Japanese Single Malt WhiskyOn the noseWell, this is a treat to the nose! Warm milk soaked Weetabix, a new catcher’s mitt and lemon bars.  All of those scents are so well integrated and inviting.

Let’s dig deeper, shall we?

Chichibu Japanese Single Malt WhiskyApple porridge and a salted baguette. This is quite a foody whisky.  And, for 61.8% ABV, it’s not to hot for the nasal passages.

Finally, there’s a touch of creamed honey and vanilla bean.

On the mouth —  Very creamy and rich. Truth be told the mouth experience mirrors the nosing experience so well.

Chichibu Japanese Single Malt WhiskyWrap the nose up in a single spiced gumdrop version of what I described and that’s this whisky!

Chichibu Japanese Single Malt WhiskyDue to the holiday season (well, holiday for we Jews – the holiday is called Purim) I feel there’s a lovely lemon filled Hamantashen quality to this, too.

FinishMedium in length with spiced citrus fruits (namely lemon and etrog)

In sum At only three years of age, this whisky proves that Chichibu has a wonderful foundation for great older whiskies to come.  At only three years old, this whisky shows a balance and beauty that few other whiskies at this age can attain.  It’s not the most complex of whiskies but it’s delicious.  At 61.8% ABV it’s very easy going and approachable.

Keep your eyes peeled for more whiskies from Chichibu and let’s hope we see some of this lovely juice here in The States!

Scotch Whisky Reviews: Exclusive Malts Dailuaine & Auchroisk


Bottle shown is the Exclusive Malts Auchroisk

We’ve got two Scotch Whisky Reviews for you, both as part of the Exclusive Malts range.

The whiskies are Dailuaine and Auchroisk.  Two not-so-commonly bottled distillery single casks (both distilleries are Diageo-owned distilleries, btw)…

Today we’re going to go right into the tasting notes.

Let’ see what we have in store, people!

Dailuaine 21yo – Speyside region – 51% ABV – $138

Whisky Exclusive-Malts-Dailuaine-AuchroiskOn the nose — A bit prickly on the nose and smells about 13 years younger than the age statement states.

It is, however, quite bourbon-y smelling and most assuredly spicy with two scents that hit me from nowhere: water chestnuts and unsweetened, uncinnimoned apple sauce.  In other words, aside from the spice, it’s a bit light in scent to start.

Leather shoes (new), pineapple and mango (unripe).  The tropical fruits are nice here and play well with the spice element.

On the mouth — Massive spice and this one is screaming “Hey!!  I’m a Dailuaine just without the sherry maturation you’re used to, Yossi!”  I’m sure there are plenty of other ex-bourbon Dailuaine bottlings out there but this is my first.  Nice to see that the spirit character remains.

Oily yet effervescent mouthfeel.  Silly putty and vinyl capes from my Jawa action figures from my old Star Wars action figure collection.  No lie.  It’s that specific a note.  If only I kept that figure in the original packaging…

Whisky Exclusive-Malts-Dailuaine-AuchroiskPeppery with orange and pineapple syrup from fruit cups.  Leather (again) and fresh, unburnt pipe tobacco.

Finish — Lasting and lovely.  Peppery and polished.

In sum — A decent offering for a Dailuaine.  Not my favorite as I prefer the sherried Dailuaines but this one tells a story from beginning to end and could surely hold it’s own from a flavor and balance standpoint.

This is an early spring dram.  It has a hopeful feel to me.

Auchroisk 17yo – Speyside region – 55.6% ABV – $???

On the nose — Boy-oh-boy, why the sour puss, Sourpuss?

Quite sour in scent but with hints of chocolate covered orange rinds sitting ‘neath said sourness.

Winter ski gloves after a full day of skiing.  Hey, my notes are getting quite specific today!

Whisky Exclusive-Malts-Dailuaine-AuchroiskRubber dish gloves and a touch of soap (in a good way. Remember, I dig mild soap notes and this is *mild*).  These notes are offset by fresh and dried papaya and some persimmon. Wow, yum!

An unusual nose but inviting, methinks.

On the mouth — ¡Holy frijoles!  It gets all sorts of wacky here.  Very rye-whiskey-like with dill and seeded rye toast (dry, as it were).  Very woody but woody good, like rye or bourbon, not woody bad like whisky gone old and dried out/astringent.  This is far from astringent.

I have to put it out there that the nose is off balance from the mouth but the flavor profile is insanely unique and delicious so it sort of makes up for being off balance.

Whisky Exclusive-Malts-Dailuaine-AuchroiskNew charred oak (the smell of the inside of a freshly drained ex-bourbon cask), vanilla and banana chips.  Orange Tang drink (having nothing to do with Taang!, mind you).

Finish — Finishes with banana chips and a distinct note of what some college students described to me as a “hash pipe.”

Oh, those students!!

In sum — Well, I’m pretty much in love with the flavor profile on this whisky.  It noses OK, too.  This is a conversation piece.  You and some friends can have a lot of fun with this one!

Probably best when part of a tasting.  Be warned, it will likely dominate the conversation…

Special thanks to the especially nice people from ImpEx for the samples!

Exclusive Malts Ardmore Single Cask, 2000, 12yo 56.3% ABV


Highland Region – 56.3% ABV – About $100, US market only

ARDMORETrying to get back on the horse here with my whisky reviews.  I really have a lot in the pipeline to cover.  Thankfully I’ll be traveling quite a bit less this month so with hope, luck and a bit of work, I’ll be reviewing more during May.

I had received five Exclusive Malts samples from ImpEx and reviewed the 15yo Clynelish here, the 17yo Mortlach here and the 11yo Bowmore here.

Thanks again to the good folks at ImpEx for the samples!

The last two Exclusive Malt bottlings are a Glenlivet from 1976 and today’s Ardmore from 2000.  A 12yo single cask that I am guessing is from a refill bourbon barrel based on the pale color.

215px-Shyguy_MP9On the nose –  A bit of a shy guy, this one here.  Take deep whiffs with this one.  Don’t worry, it’s not hot to nose at all so you can really breathe it in.

Ardmore-Exclusive-Malts-1Clean smoke meets rusty steel.  This relents quickly to reveal the smell of my Grandpa John’s mostly unused pipe collection – gah, the memories!  That house in Fairfield in the 70’s…  Such great times.

This is all china cabinets and basement crawlway spaces — places you rarely go but when you do, there’s a reason you went.

Hints of wild flowers and drought-stricken grass fields where the electrical wires go on and on and on.  Hike around the woods of Connecticut long enough and you get used to this sort of stuff.

I’m not sure if you can you tell but this whisky is bringing back tons of memories for me.

On the mouth – Much more smokey than the nose lead on to be.  Also, she’s no longer shy.

Ardmore-Exclusive-Malts-2Lots of pear and fruit elements to it.

This make be 12 years old but she drinks like a much younger whisky.  Me?  I sort of like that!

Note: this image is from the Glenfiddich spirit safe, not Ardmore. Try as I might, I oculd not find an image of the Ardmore spirit safe!

The spirit character seems to shine through here as it’s all about the heavy smoke, pears, malt and, very prominent new make-y-ness to this whisky.

It’s not overly complex but enjoyable.

Ardmore-Exclusive-Malts-4Finish – Cheap penny candies but mostly, Fortune Gum gum.

In sum – I am a fan of Teacher’s blend and Ardmore is the obvious smokey element.  This reminds me of why I like Teacher’s.  I am not a fan of the Ardmore Traditional Cask but this I like.

This is a whisky I’d keep in a flask and go on a long hike with.

Exclusive Malts – Clynelish 15yo – 53.5%ABV


ClynelishHighlands region – 53.5%ABV – US only — Price: unknown at this point.

Many of us here in the states have not heard of the Exclusive Malts or The Creative Whisky Company who are responsible for bottling this selection of single casks.  The Exclusive Malts range is a new range to the US brought to this side of the pond by the fine folks at ImpEx Beverages.

So, what makes this line of whiskies so special?  I’d say it comes down to David Stirk, owner of The Creative Whisky Company, and his ability to consistently choose and bottle fine and fun casks of whisky, both young and old.  In the UK and EU, Mr. Stirk is known for bottling good hooch; I’m just glad that he and ImpEx are working together to bring some of these bottlings our way.

I was sent 5 samples in all from ImpEx (thanks again!) and we will launch the review of the Exclusive Malts range with this 15yo Clynelish.  Bottled at cask strength and matured in what I assume is an ex-bourbon cask – the bottle simply says “aged in oak.”

On to the review; begin the begin:

Clynelish-1On the nose –  Quite a classic representation of Clynelish – waxy smelling, a touch of smoke, lemon bars and paraffin.  Bright wood spice nose – a house in the framing stage of being built – fresh sawn wood.

A touch of mild mustard seed.  Actually, if one could figure out a way to candy mustard seeds, I imagine it’d smell a bit like this.

Clynelish-2Fresh tropical fruits and some crushed pecans (sans any bitter nut skin).  Boy, nut skin just sounds wrong – forget I even mentioned nut skin.  Seriously, stop with the nut skin!!  *Why* are you obsessing…


Some warmed caramel or perhaps the caramel from a Milky Way bar.

Clynelish-3On the mouth – Oh, hell yes.  Warming and oily mouth feel.  Much of what we got on the nose with a touch of hayseed to boot.

Waxy, spicy (not overly so)… Actually, the spice is increasing here — if you’ve ever had Dailuaine, the level of spice is similar to Dailuaine.  Very nice.

Clynelish-4Plastic candy wrappers, wax wrappers for vanilla caramels.

Finish – From mouth coating and oily to a medium length, slightly drying finish (like biting into a red grape seed).

In sum – Here is where knowing how to bottle a good cask at the right time pays off.  This is a great whisky that’s both easy going but also has wonderful levels of complexity to it.  At 53.5% ABV, it’s not hot at all… very approachable and perfect for a weekend morning pick-me-up.  Start your day with this one (so long as you’re not driving or operating heavy machinery… or have to vote).










nut skin.