Tag Archives: Tropical fruits

Rest and Be Thankful Whisky Co.’s single Sauternes cask Octomore, Cask # 16746


Region – Islay – ABV – 63.8% – now sold out but was $228.

A bit of a rarity here – an independently bottled single cask of Octomore which was bottled at 6 years of age at the nice ABV of 63.8%.

Being that Comus 4.2 (Bruichladdich’s 5yo Sauternes cask matured Octomore) was easily my favorite Octomore (still to this date), when I saw this bottling released, I had to have one.

The difficult part for me was in purchasing a bottling from an independent bottler I was not familiar with.  The packaging seemed nice enough and, hey, single cask Octomore? I had to give them a go, right?!

What was the result you may ask?:

On the nose — A fair amount of peat on this one (it is peated to 167 ppm). Not too overwhelming though.  Some bicycle inner-tubes come across at first but this is backed crushed almonds as well as raw filberts.

Rest and Be Thankful Octomore SauternesPear drops, too. Proper English scones. Sun dried water balloons. With water I detect some hot cinnamon, too.

In the mouth — Without water it’s incredibly hot and tight with obvious pear and more sun dried water balloon notes.

Water is needed with this one.

Rest and Be Thankful Octomore Sauternes

With water it’s got a great and oily mouthfeel. Quite sweety and peaty with more focus on the peaty. It’s quite phenolic. Think burning o-rings (viton as well as silicon), and new nitrile gloves.

Some tropical fruits here, too. Think passion fruit and persimmon, and a touch of papaya and even a little guava.

Finish — Long and peaty with hints of marzipan, lemons and even a little slivovitz.

In sum — Not sure if it could have used less or more time in the cask.  I never do score but if I were to compare this to Octomore Comus, and Comus were a 10 (on a scale of 1 to 10), this would be a 7. Defo one for colder weather and one to share with friends.


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

Karuizawa Cask #3603 from 1964 – a massive 48yo bottled at 57.7% ABV


Karuizawa Cask 3603 1964Japan — 57.7% ABV — 70cl — £8995 | $13929

I spent about a week in Mexico City.  You know, work stuff as per usual.

Boy, was it hot down there!  About 85 degrees; a nice dry heat.  Quite a change from the mid 20 something degrees Fahrenheit and the 30+ inches of snow I had waiting for me at home.

While I was sad to say good-bye to Mexico, I was happy to come home again to the wife and chillins.  Also waiting for me at home were three samples.  One was a Bruichladdich from a Mr. LZ.  Karuizawa cask 3603 1964Another sample was the new Balvenie 12yo Single Barrel from Mr. AW and, finally, a sample of this here Karuizawa from 1964 (cask 3603).

While I was excited to receive all three, ¡Holy frijoles, was I a happy boy to have received this historical Karuizawa sample!  Very much an unexpected package!

At the time of bottling, this was the oldest Karuizawa to ever have been bottled and now I was going to get to taste and review it!

Before I go further, I must thank everyone from Master of Malt for thinking of me (again — remember the sample of 1953 Glenfarclas they sent to me?  I do!).  Also, a big thanks to Michal Kowalski of Wealth Solutions!

So last night I had made a Facebook status update telling people: “I’m going to have a 48 year old in my mouth tonight.  Get your minds out of the gutter, I’m talking about whisky!

The snark factor on Facebook seemed unusually high as an old school mate of mine (known as “the other Josh”) returned with this image:


After a few comments, David Hartogs (friend, member of Single Cask Nation and occasional guest poster.  Note here and here) chimed in with: “What’s the verdict?

That same old school mate, the other Josh, came back with:


Ah, the Facebook…

Funny schtuff aside, let’s taste some history (not Frank, the Karuizawa):

Karuizawa-3603-1964-1On the nose — Initially hot to the nostrils but from the go (after the heat) is bitter Mexican chocolate and clementines.

Heated butter, not burnt but heated with bits of dill weed swirling in the near butter boil.

Cracklin’ Oat Bran cereal and burnt sugar.  Rotting stone fruits (peach juice turned bad… but in a good way).

Rubber soles on sneakers.  Black Pu’er tea (like with the Glenmorangie Ealanta).

Karuizawa-3603-1964-2Apple sauce (slight note) and boiling berries.  Noticeably fragrant mahogany furniture.  Cherry cola.

With water the heat is nearly gone.   Chocolate covered Werther’s and good, old-fashioned belt leather.  Loose leaf paper (like a 5 subject notebook, not copy paper).

More mahogany and apple fritter grizzle.  This has become a joy to nose.

Karuizawa-3603-1964-3On the mouth — Intensely hot on first sip.  Almost absurdly hot; like a $2 pistol.  Burning rubber, wooden window sills (with fresh, hot lacquer).

I better add a drop of water before my head catches fire.

Karuizawa-3603-1964-4With water she’s still hot, but fresh with mangoes and mango skin, tinned fruits, window sills (again) lacquer (again), lots of tropical fruits popping about — sort of crazy and not what I expected at all.

Sweet papaya (not the earthy/footy papaya), hints of guanabana and guava paste (??).  Aerosol paint and paint caps.  Beeswax across the front of the palate, too.

Not oily or viscous in any way.

Finish —  Like the fast decay at the end of a song, bitter chocolates leave their echo upon the tongue.  Slight touch of dill as well.

WW — Very waxy finish, flat cola, drying and lasting longer now with the water.

Karuizawa-3603-1964-5In sum — An intensely hot whisky that loves water more than I love whisky.  Once given the water she desires, she simmers right down and opens up to tell you her life story.

A whisky experience unlike any other I’ve had to date.  If you have the casheesh to buy a bottle, open said bottle and try it without the water.   Then, add 3 drops or so to your dram.

The transformation from The Hulk into Dr. Robert Bruce Banner is astonishing.


You might also enjoy Oli’s review on dramming.com

Also, check out the review at guidscotchdrink.com

Serge’s reviews are always a joy to read, too!

Lost Spirits “Leviathan I” American heavily peated single malt whiskey.


California – 53%ABV – $55 (solid pricing for single cask, cask strength whiskey!)

Today I’ll be sharing some details on a new American whiskey called “Leviathan I” and the distillery that produces it; Lost Spirits Distillery.  If you’ve not heard of Lost Spirits before, don’t feel bad.  Most folks have not heard of them.  They waited quietly and patiently for their whiskey to mature before they made any large public announcements about their distillery and whiskeys.

Before we start with the whiskey, let’s start with the bottle and the fact that it’s got a wine cork rather than a whisk(e)y bottle cork with the plastic top (see right).  If you’re like me, you save your whisk(e)y bottle corks – you may need one after opening this bottle.

Now, onto the distillery owners.

Bryan and Joanne, owners of Lost Spirits in Monterey County California, came back to their native Cali-roots after a good stint with another distillery they owned; that one in Spain where they made Obsello Absinthe and Port of Barcelona Gin.

Not only did Bryan and Joanne up and move back to California to open a whiskey distillery, these good folks built their still entirely by hand.  Two people, four hands, one giant still with a big dragon head attached:

Yeah, that’s right.  A dragon head.   And what’s more is that the still is located outside… not confined in any building. I’ve not seen anything like this before and I doubt you have either.  Located outside and with a dragon head, it’s like this whiskey is distilled atop the Misty Mountains (where the spirits go now).  Brilliant: 

Now let’s talk about the actual whiskey itself.  This is peated American single malt.  Bryan and Joanne have sourced Canadian peat to peat their California barley to 110ppm.  Then they mature the whiskey exclusively in late harvest “Botrytised Cabernet” casks.  This type of Cabernet, as Bryan taught me, is basically a somewhat Sauternes-like wine.  If you frequent my blog then you know I’ve got a “thing” for Sauternes matured whiskies…

What’s more is every single release of theirs will be release as a single cask, cask strength bottling.  (*Swoon*)  It’s as if they had whisk(e)y geeks like me in mind when the designed this stuff!

Kudos to Bryan and Joanne for doing something so unique in the world of American whiskey!  It just goes to show that craft distilling in the US is growing; not only in the number of US craft distillers but also in the styles of whiskey and the way they produce it.

Now, to taste the Leviathan:

On the nose Lost Spirits?  More like wild, crazy, wacky spirits.

I would have have never pegged this for malt whiskey.  I’d perhaps more assume this were a Mezcal. (In fact, it’s quite like the Tobala Del Maguey Mezcal I reviewed last year.)  Smoky yet not smoked (if that makes sense), phenolic/carbolic.

Screeching tires on sticky black tarmac.

Wine influence is quite noticeable after a few minutes.  Pungent and sweet red wine reduction and then hints of red wine vinegar.

The sweetness then dissipates to reveal charred swamp ash and an intense bitterness that evolves into what I’d swear is the scent of Manchego cheese.

Like I said, this is wild stuff.

On the mouth Massive mouthfeel, sweet grape jam flavor to start but this is followed by tropical fruits such as mango and papaya.

Some malty quality comes through but this is still quite Mezcal-like.

Speaking of malty, I’m reminded here of a smoked porter flavor.  I love smoked porters.

I can taste the burning swamp ash.

Very salty/briny if you take the time to notice – a fine quality.

Finish Like a smoked madeira or some red grape desert wine.  The finish goes on and on.

In sum  Read the label – 110ppm (phenols rated in parts per million) peated malt whiskey.  Now forget what the labels says.  Do not go into this thinking you’re going to taste an Islay like whisky.

Like any and all spirits, you should go into a dram of this with the mind wide open.  If you do you’ll find that it’s a well crafted whiskey.  It’s not an every day whiskey, for sure, but it’s sort of “yum” in a glass if you ask me.

I’d suggest drinking this when you have time outside (fishing or hiking) or after a moment of completion – maybe once you’ve climbed to the top of that mountain.

Really enjoyable whiskey!

Special thanks to Bryan and Joanne for the sample!

Highland Park Thor. Hammers not included.

Islands region – 52.1%ABV – $180 | £120

I want to take the high road and not talk about the packaging choice for this whisky.  However, such a statement suggests that I am not a fan of the packaging and this is simply not the case.

I actually think the packaging is sort of cool.  Is it a bit over the top?  Yes.  Does it add on cost to the final selling price of the product?  Of course it does.  Can I use the wooden portion in someway?  (If I ever start playing Dungeons and Dragons again and *need* a prop to represent the boat to cross the River Styx???)  You’re gosh darned right I can!

I dig the concept for this new line of whiskies from Highland Park – a line that highlights Orkney’s Scandinavian history.  I also like the fact that, as opposed to the four vintages released by Highland Park recently, this whisky (23,000 bottles in all) is released at cask strength.

If I have one complaint about Highland Park (and I think there’s *only one* complaint), it’s that a majority of their whiskies are released at 40-43% ABV.  Thor, on the other hand, has been bottled at the wonderfully tasty strength of 52.1%ABV.

So, let us see how the Hammer of the Gods tastes.  Will it pack a punch?  Can it live up to the legend of Thor’s might?  I’m dying to find out…

On the nose Forceful, sweet and malty, this Highland Park grabbed me off the bat with lovely, lightly smoked, tropical fruits (a mixture of pineapple and lemon).

I can not tell a lie, the nose on this whisky is intoxicatingly beautiful.

There’s a bit of spice and orange flavored salt water taffies.

The balance between sweet, spice, malt, light peating level…  Really, really lovely.

On the mouth The peat is much more upfront here.  In fact, it’s the first thing to greet me upon initial sip.

Spicy along the side of the tongue.  Sweet and malty (again) right down the center of the tongue.

There’s a good deal of honey comb in here and the mouthfeel is both oily and effervescent-like at the same time.

There’s a fruity tartness here as well.

While *nothing* like the Highland Park 18yo, it has the same wonderful balance found in that whisky.

Finish Long, spicy, oily and filled with slightly burned things.

In sum  Four words: I am in love.  While I join the camp that thinks the packaging is over the top, there’s no denying that the liquid inside the bottle is exquisite.  I *shudder* at the thought that people will buy this whisky for its packaging and stick it on their whisky shelf to collect dust with the rest of the collection.  This whisky needs to be enjoyed.  Yeah, it’s that good.

Special thanks to Steph R for the sample!