Tag Archives: Black Licorice

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar dram # 13 – Single Cask Nation’s “Undisclosed” Islay 7yo, Cask 613-2/2112


Region – Um, Islay – ABV – 56.3%

You know, it just did not seem right that I would review a whisky that my company, Jewish Whisky Company, bottled. We bottle whisky under the Single Cask Nation label and today’s whisky is a 7yo single malt from an “Undisclosed” distillery.

This is the second “Undisclosed” Islay we’ve bottled and while both this and our first Undisclosed are completely sold out, our third “Undisclosed” Islay is still available to members of Single Cask Nation.

I will now pass the baton over to my friend, Dr, Matt Lurin.  Being a long time aficionado and collector aside, Matt puts on a wonderful charitable whisky event in NYC called “Water of Life.”  You can find out more about Matt’s event here.

It’s all you, buddy!

I was honored when Joshua asked me to be a guest reviewer for The Whisky Advent Calendar day 13. Although some may find the number unlucky, I consider myself the fortunate one here. You may ask what qualifies me as a guest reviewer, which is a fair question. In a nutshell, I am a long time collector, organize a large charity whisky event, and am one of the ‘founding father members’ at SCN.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015I enjoy all sorts of whisky, but am well known for my fondness for Islay whiskies, and am found there in late May each year for the Feis Ile, a celebration of the wonderful islands (Islay and Jura) and a time to appreciate their great whisky.

You may be curious about my fondness for Islay whiskies, and that too would be fair. I tell everyone there are 3 main reasons I love them, First off, the iodine and medicinal tastes. I work as an ER doctor, and this smell takes me back home in a positive way. Secondly, the smoke. This reminds me of the smell at my old job in the ambulance bay, when the nurses take break and gather by the no smoking sign, puffing away. And third, most folks would not believe the stuff I have to smell daily at work. No human being should have to endure that, and it takes a strong whisky to help clean my sinus and palate, as well as help me to forget. There you have it.

On that note let’s approach today’s whisky.

Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015Hello to ‘2008 Undisclosed Islay’, 7 yo, 56.3%, the third undisclosed Islay whisky bottled by SCN in the past year. and what a dram it is.

Visually I appreciate a straw colored liquid. Makes me appreciate the youthfulness of this dram, as well as the likelihood of this being from a Bourbon Barrel. I’m excited, let’s continue.

The nose screams to me – Northern Islay. I appreciate the smells of the ocean, a sea spray if you will, that takes me back to a boat ride on the sound, checking out the seals and feeling the crisp breeze in my face. I also find myself enjoying a little waxy lipstick scent, some peppers, peppermint, smoke and some dusty cellar. At 56.3% I do get a little alcohol burn on my nose, but the freshness survives.

The palate is rich and oily. Loving the smoke, and the iodine. It’s now that I want to fall back to a favorite tasting note. “I get tropical fruit”, and to be fair since all fruits are considered tropical on Islay I’d be correct. But let’s work a little harder. Is that banana? A Creme Brullee note? Wait a second, there’s the pepper, ginger, and black licorice. Patience truly is a virtue.

The finish is long and warm. I was truly hoping to enjoy this dram outside on a New York December night, having this warm me up. However, Holiday lights not withstanding, I am able to sit outside in a short sleeved Islay shirt, enjoying the 60 + degrees heat. I do find this very soothing, on the finish. Cracked pepper, menthol and oh that peaty goodness.

In Sum: A wonderful winter dram, even if a warm 60 degrees. It may be an Undisclosed Islay, but it’s a classic Islay and a cracking whisky.

Thanks for the opportunity Joshua. See you May 12, 2016 at Water of Life, and I hope a few times before then. Now back to you.
Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar 2015

Kilchoman Sherry Cask Release – 2012 bottled at 46%


Islay region – 46%ABV – $79 – only 100 cases allocated to the US!  This is already sold out in all of the UK shops I’ve checked.

Following Kilchoman’s success story as the months and years go on is a very fun ride for a whisky geek like me.  And really, they go from success to success with a seeming ease

Kilchoman is Islay’s youngest distillery (as many of you know) and the tiny island’s first new distillery in over 124 years.  If that’s not pressure on this small farm distillery, I don’t know what is.

Thankfully, Kilchoman has a great team on their hands as was evident when I visited them back in March of this year.  You can read about my visit with Kilchoman here on the Jewish Whisky Company/Single Cask Nation blog – the post penned by Seth Klaskin.

So here we are today, again following the Kilchoman story line from start up and now getting ever closer to that 10 year mark. (They opened in 2005 so they’ll turn 7 years old in 2012.)  And for today we have their 5yo sherry cask release, bottled at 46%ABV.

On the nose Peat smoke upfront however, it’s somewhat abbreviated and what follows is a good deal of black licorice (salted licorice at that).

Citrus sweetened green cabbage.  Now *that’s* an odd yet fun note!

More medicinal than expected given Kilchoman’s usual sweet peat profile and the fact that this whisky is from sherry casks.

Some notes of canvas sneakers (slightly loved).

A very promising nose.  The black licorice-like quality is quite nice.

On the mouth Window putty and fresh caulking.  Somewhat artificial/industrial in flavor.

Slightly sweet yet very drying/tannic from the start.

A touch hot given the strength – it tastes closer to 50-55%ABV or more.

Unripened banana, hints of softening strawberry.

Better yet, Starburst artificial strawberry flavor (subtle though).

Finish Long finish, the window putty and caulking notes last for a while as does the unripened banana element.

In sum  This is the first time I’ve tried a 100% sherried Kilchoman.  Comparing this to the others I’ve tried,  I think I more prefer the 1st fill bourbon matured ones or the releases that were a mix of ex-bourbon and sherry (E.G.  the Kilchoman Machir Bay which is just lovely).    I was not really able to connect with this one as I would have hoped.  However, a lot of people out there will enjoy this one for sure. (In fact they already have, seeing as this has completely sold out in the UK and EU where most of the bottles have gone.)  It does show promise for future.  I look forward to trying more sherried Kilchoman.

Special thanks to the good folks at ImpEx for the sample!

Bruichladdich Octomore 2.1

Islay region — 62.50%ABV – $130 | £97 | €112

There’s a lot to be said about this whisky but much of it is going to come out from the whisky itself.

What I can tell you before we get into the actual review of it is that it’s a big furry bear of a whisky; chock full of a lot more than I expected (to be very honest with you).

When this whisky first came out I was a bit skeptical.  I thought that Bruichladdich’s coming out with the biggest, peatiest whisky on the market was nothing more than a “who’s got the biggest whisky schvanse” marketing ploy and nothing more.  I think I was wrong.  Dead wrong.

I think I’m going to skip to the chase here on this whisky…

On the nose Nice and fruity – pears, rhubarb, licorice, soured and sweetened milk (again, baby vomit – it must be a young Bruichladdich thing), lemony, white lithium grease, oh yeah, some peaty smokiness…

For having a peat level of 10 trillion parts per million (OK, it’s really 140ppm), it’s not the burning cauldron of brimstone I expected.

A bit young and fiery, filled with salt and spit (like a young Ricky Hatton, if he were a whisky) – with water the menthol kicks in as does an immense brush fire.

Reminds me of the time when I was 8 years old and burned down my local woods while playing with matches.  Light a match, blow it out.  Light a match, blow it out.  Look down and, wham-o, my shoes are on fire!  I ran away intact.  I wish I could say the same for the woods…

On the mouth Wham, bam thank you ma’am!

I just got bitch slapped by this ‘laddich!

The ABV is making its presence known…  Hot!

However, the mouth feel is great, oily, chewy… nice, nice, nice.

Buttery biscuits, ashes, licorice, more ashes.

With water: it just got that much chewier and now creamy;

with water, this is a true treat.

Apples arrive and so does caramel (fantastic combination).

Delicious, chewlicious, peatlicious.

Finish On and on, creamy, peaty and fruity…

In sumI love it when I’m proved wrong.  This is a great whisky that has MUCH more to offer that peat & smoke.  A lovely stunner with the sweet, sour, fruits, smoke, chewiness, etc…  Especially given the price, this is one to treat yourself with (preferably during the winter time).

A big thanks goes out to Gal of Whisky Israel for this sample.  Gal did a side by side (or head to head, however you want to look at it) of the Octomore 2.1 & 2.2 – click here for his good thoughts on these Octomores.

Loch Chaim Aberlour 16yo Single Cask

Speyside region – 43%ABV – $65

It’s been a while since I’ve done a kosher certified whisky and being that the one year anniversary of the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society blog is getting ever nearer (it’s tomorrow, by the way), I thought it was about time I review another whisky that’s targeted toward the Jewish consumer.

The Loch Chaim line of single cask whiskies has so far proven itself to be a line that’s good for Jew and Gentile alike.

So, what make this kosher?  Well, put simply, whisky is kosher by nature as long at it’s matured in anything other than an ex-sherry/wine/port/madeira cask.  All whiskies in the Loch Chaim line are matured in barrels which previously held bourbon.  Bourbon, by US law, needs to be matured in new charred oak barrels; therefore, there is no sherry/wine/port/madeira influence on the whisky whatsoever.

If you want to know more about the ins-and-outs of why a whisky can be considered kosher or not kosher – you can read this great article by Alan L.

Click here to see all of the Loch Chaim whiskies I’ve reviewed

On the nose Scented candle shop filled with Christmas wreaths and holly berry scented candles.

Yeah right, like you see a lot of Jewish Latke scented candles at those shops…

A bag of assorted Halloween candies (or Purim candies I suppose).

Soy sauce and some potted house flowers (big begonias).

On the mouth Very similar to the nose and a thick mouth feel to boot!

Beyond what’s listed in the Nose section is an interesting note of fresh vidallia onion.

White pepper and a bit of bay leaf (like a nice autumn stew).

Increasingly peppery.

Hints of black licorice.

Finish Ends on a big red peppery note, perhaps a little bit of 9-volt bite.

In sum Fresh and light like an early summer’s day however very much an Autumn malt.  I liked this.  I think Aberlour shines with their sherried product but take the name Aberlour out of the picture and this is a solid dram.

Suntory Hibiki 12yr – An every day dram that is better to drink than to deconstruct

Japan – 43%ABV – $40 – $60 | £35 | €42

This is one of two Hibiki whiskies I’ve had to date.  Tomorrow I will be reviewing the 21yr but today, it’s the 12yr.

The music dork in me can’t help but think of Rush’s “2112” album when I think of the two Hibikis I’ve had.  Get it? 21yr. 12yr.

Whatever, now I can’t get “Temple of Syrinx” out of my head.  And now, you won’t be able to either…  Haha.

So, what does the latter half of Rush’s epic… I mean, what does the Hibiki 12yr smell & taste like?  It’s like this:

On the nose Plumes of plums and the wine thereof.

Some honey, honey.

Lemons & lemon custard.

Just now my 2yr old daughter asked to smell this whisky and I asked what she smelled and without any hints or hesitation she said – LEMONS!

Actually, she screamed it.

Reminiscent of a few bourbons I’ve had with a high sweet note I often associate with new charred oak barrels.

Sassafras leaves & black licorice.

On the mouth Chewy mouthfeel.

A slight touch of savory spices — too many to name; a good mix.

Grain is evident but so is the malt.

Oak & more plum wine notes.

Slivovitz (plum brandy), however, the note is slight.

New oak leaf buds (…the smell of.  And yes, I have smelled them).

Finish The finish has a grainy sweetness that remains for a good bit.

In sum Nicely balanced blend that is better to enjoy rather than deconstruct.  I review one to three whiskies almost every day and I can say that I reach for this one when I’m tired of reviewing.  An every day dram at a decent price.  Perfect for dropping it all, letting it go and enjoying the here and now.

Sometimes you just have to say “What the F###”.