Greasing the wheels
This week we reviewed a bribe bottle. Not a huge bribe, but the kind no one really had a problem with in the first place. I felt I had to buy a bottle of Tamdhu to complement a bottle we were gifted and, the best place to search out anything that may be challenging to locate is, of course, on the internet. I quickly located my bottle at www.caskers.com and added it to the cart. This is where the bribe comes in. It is only a couple of dollars more to ship 2 bottles instead of one, and so I went to browse the selection. That was where I discovered this beautiful bottle that we had heard some great things about and added it to the collection so no one would ask too many questions.
The journey is the best part
While getting ready to shoot this review, I went back to my notes about Deanston history. I love the fact that this distillery is young in terms of scotch distilleries, and was actually a cotton mill since the late 1700’s. The history of the community centered around the success and expansion of this business for almost 200 years until the mill closed. This is the best part of the story for me because rather than allow the community to decline it decided to reinvent itself. They began a distillery in the 1960’s and I am so happy this was the way they chose to revive industry in the village. The whisky they produce here is flavorful, complex, and thoroughly enjoyable while remaining affordable.
The flavor of this scotch would be enough to keep me coming back, but I love the story of this distillery. Deanston feels like the underdog in this story since the shutting down of the only industry in a community has been the downfall of countless towns and villages before. That could have been the story here as well, but it turned out they beat the odds and now we all have the chance to enjoy a great dram from an underdog.
Scotch 4 Dummies really started as a reason to get together and discover new whisky. On our journey, we have been introduced, by chance or by more knowledgeable peers, to several distilleries that I can’t say enough about. They are the reason I will throw down $50-$100 to buy a bottle from a distillery I know nothing about on the chance it is amazing. Deanston is one of those distilleries. I had never heard of the distillery before we started reviewing scotch but, now that I have tried a few bottles, I will never forget it. The story plus the amazing scotch will keep me coming to the bar every Thursday for a long time. If you don’t believe me, buy a bottle and have a dram while you watch the review. It’s the best way to watch us anyway.
This week we released a review of the Balblair 90 2nd release and there was some difference of opinion about the flavors of the scotch and what we enjoyed about the bottle. We were all very grateful to have this one and were looking forward to a formal review. Mike has been dying for us to shoot this video, so he could get another glass and take one more step towards being a scotch guy. We had not tried anything from Balblair until now and we do love a new distillery.
Are you tasting what I’m tasting?
Our review was one of my favorites and not just because I enjoyed the scotch. It turned out that while I was a big fan of this bottle Drew was not impressed and found it to be pretty bland. I pulled a lot of flavors out of this bottle and found it to have nice depth and a pleasant finish. Andrew and Mark both enjoyed it but not to the same level, but Drew did not have the same experience at all. After enjoying the initial nose, his experience went the other way and he gave a final score of 2. So why were the four of us so far apart on our scores this week?
A rose by any other name
I have learned many interesting things about taste over the years and factors that can change how and what people taste. There are experience factors such as what foods you ate growing up and how much exposure you have to new and different tastes. There are physical factors such as how many Papilla, the bumps on the tongue, each person has or their sensitivity to different flavors. The last factor is the wild card. You may be tired or have a cold. Maybe you had something to eat earlier that is throwing off what you are tasting. Many things can change your perception of the whisky in your glass. You can, over time, teach yourself to pick out flavors and get better at discerning more subtle tastes. It takes practice and exposure to new foods and drinks to train your senses, but even then you will still have flavors you just do not enjoy.
If you are tasting that scotch that everyone raves about and you just don’t see what the big deal is, maybe you aren’t alone. It may just not be your wheelhouse and you should try something else. It could also be a bad night and maybe try it again in a week or a month and see how you feel about it. I am happy that our viewers get a chance to watch us disagree about bottles. I believe it makes it a little easier to say what you actually think about what is in your glass. However, if what is in your glass is Balblair and you don’t care for it, I will take your share.
It’s time for one of our annual camping trips, and this time we talked our families into joining us for the weekend. This means packing up 5 families and basically moving our street to a campground for a few days. It is amazing to me how much gear it takes to support a few people for 48 hours in a campground, but that’s the state of affairs on the street for the trip. We usually overpack and have enough stuff to make it a week if necessary. One thing we never forget is a couple of bottles of scotch to enjoy, but we have quite a few so the question is: “What method should we use to pick the lucky bottles?”
Peat at the Fire
We almost always take a peated scotch with us for camping. The smoke and peat flavors go great around the campfire in the evening, and it improves with the addition of a nice cigar. In warmer weather, I will choose a lighter peat flavor like Wolfburn Morven. The subtle smoke and light peat aren’t too heavy for the July heat and the light fruity notes are easy to find as well. In colder weather, it is almost always an Ardbeg. It’s kind of tradition for us to take a bottle of Ardbeg Uigeadail with us on a camping or fishing trip when it is just the dummies. In fact, that was how we first learned to love the heavy peat flavors we all crave now.
Something from the highlands
Summer always reminds me of fresh fruit and floral aroma, so a nice Highland single malt scotch never disappoints when the temperature gets high. The lighter body and clean finish don’t overpower the taste of smores around the campfire, and there are some nice bottles that don’t break the bank. The Aberfeldy 12 year was sitting on the bar and I looked at that one for a while, but I also had a bottle of Glenmorangie Lasanta that would fit the bill nicely. The difference between these bottles is the casks: Oak casks for the Aberfeldy or oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks for the Lasanta. Both bottles have the light fruity character that would pair up with a camping trip nicely so hard to go wrong with either.
And the winner is…
I know you guys probably thought I spent a lot of time trying to figure out which was the perfect scotch to bring, but the truth is I only had about 3 minutes to decide so here was the final selection. I try to stay away from expensive bottles on a camping trip because I am not in the right place to appreciate them. I skipped the Ardbeg for two reasons: it was hot outside, and the other three dummies have put a sizable dent in my bottle so I didn’t have enough to bring. I decided to go with the Aberfeldy because it is a nice dram and the bottle was almost full. (You know how I pour). We also ended up with a bottle of Johnnie Walker Rye Cask and Monkey Shoulder mostly because those bottles needed to leave the bar, and a bottle of JW Black because we almost always have one of those and that gives the smoke we enjoy. The most important part of the scotch we bring is the company who is enjoying the bottle and we all feel lucky sitting at the campfire.
Businesses stretch the truth with consumers every day, and most of the time we are disappointed when our purchases do not live up to expectations. We are used to products letting us down which is why it is so amazing when we find something that is better than anticipated. Our reviews this week cover two expressions of Glendronach that were superb, and we were happy to find out that the distillery misled buyers with the label on one of the bottles. I like when businesses mislead us in a good way since it happens very seldom, but the real question is “What were they hiding?”
Glendronach 18 Allardice
The Glendronach 18 Allardice is one of the core expressions of the Glendronach line and is named for the founder of the distillery, James Allardice. It is labeled as an 18 year old single malt but this is where the truth is a bit stretched. The distillery was closed from 1996 until 2002 and no whisky was produced during that time. Simple math tells us that if it was bottled in 2017 it should have been produced in 1999, but since the distillery was not in operation it must be older than that. It must be at least 21 year old scotch in an 18 year old label! That is a fabrication I can sink my teeth into and so we did. The scotch from Glendronach has never let us down and this one was no exception. The scotch is rich and flavorful with a full body and beautiful color. It is matured in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 46% which gives it the great nose and depth of flavor of a classic sherry bomb. I am sure we will have this bottle again.
Glendronach 1993 24 year Single Cask, Abbey Whiskey
There are a few scotches that you have a pretty good idea you are going to love just by looking at them. It’s like love at first sight and this was one of those bottles. We have been sitting on this like…well dummies, for several months and this was going to be the big night. The camera rolled and the four of us dove in head-first, and it was magical. We were all witty and insightful with the scotch and we wrapped up the review with a perfect score. It was great…..then we looked at the video and realized we had a technical problem and only recorded about half the review. No problem, we will just pour some more and, wait there isn’t any more. We had to go back and try to remember everything we said about this bottle. I think the most important aspect to remember about this review is that the single casks can be a thing of rare beauty and if you have a chance to buy a bottle of single cask scotch from a distillery you love do not hesitate. We have yet to regret a single cask purchase, but I do have regrets about not buying more.
– The Dummies
We’ve finally made it!
What is “IT” you ask? We’ve decided that we need to start documenting this journey through something tangible, something that everyone can enjoy in! That’s right, our Challenge Coins (Fill 1) are in and will be released to everyone this Thursday.
We will be working on our next “Fill” soon, but we want to take a moment to feel prideful about the first batch!! Our e-Commerce page on our website may be going through a few tweaks over the next few days as we get comfortable with this process.
We’ve decided to keep it simple and only accept Paypal, but that’s easy enough.
Check our our live show this Thursday as we reveal them to the world and turn on the site for ordering!