When people talk about the best single malts, most will tell you Macallan, Talisker, Balvenie and then tell you some dribble about the six classic single malts of Scotland, which was actually just a marketing ploy. Single malt vs. blended Scotch whisky, peated and smoky or smooth and syrupy, there are many ways to enjoy a scotch, all having their place. However, the Glenrothes Speyside Single Malt is one of the most overlooked single malts in the world, especially when you’re talking about the Glenrothes 1994. After winning multiple gold medals and “best in class” awards in international competition, one would think the Glenrothes would be behind the bars of many more establishments.
Established in 1879, this Speyside Single Malt is distilled in tall copper stills and aged in oak casks, the Glenrothes 1994 is a 12 year single malt scotch and it’s a work of art.
Tasting Notes of the Glenrothes 1994:
With the scent of sweet oak, syrup and salt, the taste is sweet and complex with flavors of oak, syrup, toffee, honey, and a complex finish with a slight hint of citrus. This is an excellent single malt that’s smooth and complex and we absolutely recommend it.
Pale golden, clear and bright
Bouquet: Fruity, toffee, marshmallows
Palate:Soft, fruity, lemon citrus
Finish:Long, soft and fruits
The Glenrothes we believe that whisky is a bit like people; or wine perhaps, in that it matures in casks at its own gentle pace. Sometimes this takes longer than expected, sometimes we’re surprised early. But whether it’s a Vintage, a Single Cask or one of our House Reserves, we only ever bottle The Glenrothes when we deem it to be at its peak of maturity to ensure that each unique selection is ready to enjoy at its very, very best.
The Glenrothes is launching the second-annual Vintage Maker competition running now till Jan 31. Share Your Glenrothes Vintage Moment and Win A Trip To Scotland. The Glenrothes is asking you to recall and share a game-changing or halcyon moment in your life, for a chance to travel to Scotland and create the 2012 vintage. The winners will be the entries that in the opinion of the judges best represent the definition of a Glenrothes vintage moment: a perfect combination of time, place, people and/or occasion when everything comes together to create a moment that will stay in the memory forever.
Wondering what the perfect Vintage Moment looks like? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OalumKiFzU
This brand new video shares an inside look at the distillery and highlights the beauty and history of The Glenrothes, from the breathtaking hills of Speyside to the river Rothes and barrels upon barrels of vintage whisky.
– 4 US winners will be chosen to create the 2012 vintage
– Share your Vintage Moment in 1500 words or less
– Trip takes place in May 2012
– Enter at TheGlenrothes.com or Facebook.com/TheGlenrothes
– Contest ends on Jan 31
Tweeddale blend was first distilled in 1820 in Coldstream Scotland, just a few minutes from the border of England. Having been shut down during WWII, the Tweeddale Blend was reborn in 2009. The first batch was produced in 2010 and we were lucky enough to get a taste of Batch 2, bottled in June of 2011. Batch two is made up of single grain whisky aged for more than 15 years sherry cask. Seven of the eight single malts are from the same casks as batch 1 but a year older, from 12 years old to 21 years old. A blend of aged single grain whisky and eight individually selected aged single malt whiskies with a high malt content (50% grain, 50% malt), the Tweeddale blend is non chill filtered in keeping with the tradition of the original blend. Bottled at about 46% ABV, the 12 years aged Tweedale Batch 2 is a solid scotch whisky. With a thick gold color, the Tweeddale 12 Year is very smooth with a syrupy, fruity flavor with an oak and wood mouth feel. Sweet, smooth and warm this full bodied and balanced blend with a solid, light and refreshing smokiness. This is a solid scotch whisky and we definitely recommend it.
Tasting Notes from Tweeddale:
Batch Two (First bottled June 2011, available now)
Nose -mellow, sherry, toffee.
Palate -rich, full yet delicately flavoured
Finish -rounded, with hints of spice.
Just as every batch was slightly different when my Great Grandfather produced it over 70 years ago, my 2nd batch of The Tweeddale Blend is 12 year old.
Distilled and matured in Ross-Shire, the Glenmorangie 18 Years Old Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky is considered “Extremely Rare.” Once it has spent fifteen years maturing in American white oak bourbon casks, approximately 30% if the whisky is transferred into Spanish Oloroso casks to spend a further three years maturing. Most scotches are aged for the majority of their maturation in bourbon casks because bourbon casks are only used once, usually aging bourbon in Kentucky for about 3-6 years. Then, the bourbon cask is shipped to Scotland to create single malts and blended scotch whiskies.
In the north of Scotland in the Highlands, the Glenmorangie distillery sits on the shores of Dornach Firth. Since 1843, Glenmorangie has been distilling single malt Scotch whisky and the 18 year is the magnum opus of this long, rich, critically acclaimed and award winning single malt distillery. Like many coastal distilleries in Scotland, the salty ocean water air gives the single malt much of its character.
Winning gold gest in Class at the 2011 International Wine & Spirits Competition, the double gold medal for single malts at 2010 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, best Highland Malt at the 2009 World Whiskies Awards, and gold best in class for Highland Malt at the International Wine & Spirit Competition, the Glenmorangie Extremely Rare 18 Years Old has proven it’s stature in double blind taste tests again and again. Glenmorangie was also named distillery of the year in 2011 at the IWSC after taking 5 gold best in class awards.
Tasting Notes for the Glenmorangie 18 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky:
With a light gold color, slightly sweet in flavor, this whisky is a complex and crisp single malt. Slightly dry towards the finish with a good, thick mouth feel, there are hints of honey, malt smoke and oak. This is a beautiful whisky and we are lucky enough to have the pleasure to have tasted it multiple times. We highly recommend this single malt but there is a steep price tag, about $100.00.
For a whisky of this age this expression has maintained, thanks to our delicate floral spirit and fine Oloroso casks, an incredible degree of vibrancy where the raisiny sweetness of the sherry has been toned down by the nuttiness of the American oak.
Rich, rounded and sweet with dried fruits and a complex floral fragrance.
The taste is balanced between honey, malt and flowery scents. Dates and figs emerge in the background with a hint of wood smoke.
The finish is long and enticing with the sweetness of dried fruit and subtle dryness of Oloroso nuttiness.
The Wemyss (Pronounced Weems) family of Scotland has been distilling and winemaking since the turn of the 19th century, and barley from the Wemyss estate is actually used in multiple distilleries throughout Scotland. The Wemyss experience in blending whisky actually came from winemaking. As all wine is blended, the Wemyss family brought that experience to making their exceptional whisky. “Up to sixteen different single malt whiskies are expertly blended together before introducing the “signature” malts to create three distinct taste profiles: ‘Spicy’ (Spice King), ‘Peaty’ (Peat Chimney) and ‘Smooth’ (Smooth Gentleman).” For the Spice King 8 Years aged, the signature malt is from the Highlands, in order to produce a whisky with rich, full and spicy top notes. All of the blends are bottled at 40% and the range has five, eight and twelve year’s age.
The Spice King 8 Years Old Tasting Notes:
With a solid scent of peat the Spice King is bit thin, with a medium peat flavor. Slightly sweet with a good spiciness this is a very good whisky. Smooth and a bit complex the Wemyss Spice Kings 8 Year is perhaps a thicker, more complex and better Johnnie Walker Black and available for about $40 to $45. We definitely recommend the Wemyss Spice King 8 Years aged and it’s much better than some pricier single malts on the shelf.
Winner of our Double Blind Single Malt Scotch Taste Test
By Matt Goldstein & Amy K. Haight
Earlier this year, in our first double blind single malt scotch trials, the Balvenie Single Barrel 15 Years aged crushed the competition across the board and it wasn’t even close. Facing off against the likes of Macallan, Glenmorangie, Oban, Highand Park, and more, the Balvenie unquestionably stood apart. Since then, we’ve tasted this scotch again and again and it simply keeps performing like a champion. Aged in a single cask of no more than 350 bottles for a minimum of 15 years, the Balvenie Malt Master selects only the casks which have the essential characteristics of the Balvenie Single Barrel style. With a complete malty scent, the Balvenie 15 Year is sweet, with hints of vanilla, cream, citrus, fruits, honey, and oaky notes. The Balvenie 15 is rich, complex, sweet and full bodied. Smooth, silky and buttery, this single malt is simply one of the best in the world. Each cask of the Balvenie imparts slightly different flavor as our new limited edition bottle from the Balvenie Road Show is slightly different than the one which stole the show at our taste test. Surprisingly in fact, we believe it to be even better. From the moment that the traditional oak cask is filled it remains undisturbed and every year, the Malt Master hand selects each barrel that meets the required maturity. With supreme confidence, the Balvenie Single Barrel 15 Year Single Malt Scotch comes with our highest recommendation. This single Malt must be considered top 3 for any single malt scotch bottled at under $100.
Over the past five years Glenmorangie has won a remarkable total of 18 ‘Gold Best in Class’ medals at the International Wines and Spirit Competition (IWSC) – the most internationally-recognized wine and spirits awards body. This is more than any other single malt Scotch whisky, making Glenmorangie the ‘best awarded’ of any single malt.
Since its foundation in 1969 the IWSC has rewarded excellence in the world of wines and spirits, and November 16 was no exception. In the presence of 500 aficionados from across the globe at London’s historic Guildhall, Glenmorangie received yet another honor —the IWSC Best Distiller award. The title is a well-deserved addition to Glenmorangie’s collection of distinguished accolades.
Dr. Bill Lumsden, Head of Distilling & Whisky Creation at Glenmorangie, said: “It’s great to receive validation from theIWSC of our ‘unnecessarily well made’ whiskies. We have the tallest stills in Scotland giving us a smoother, purer spirit; we only use our casks twice for maximum flavor – whereas other companies use theirs up to six or seven times; and we are pioneers of extra maturation. Glenmorangie was the first whisky company to practice the art of extra maturing whisky in ex-wine casks and we are still the leading experts in this today.”
Brian Cox, Vice President of Glenmorangie in the U.S., said: “We are both honored and flattered to receive the IWSC Best Distiller award — a prestigious recognition that we do not take lightly. It’s truly the distillery and the people who create Glenmorangie that sets our whisky apart from the competition. I raise a glass of our whisky not only in celebration, but as a testament to all that Glenmorangie has collectively accomplished.”
The Glenmorangie distillery was founded in 1843 in the Highlands of Scotland and is renowned as a pioneer in its field for uniting tradition with innovation. Glenmorangie is distilled in the tallest malt whisky stills, expertly matured in the finest oak casks, and perfected by the 16 Men of Tain. It has been Scotland’s favorite single malt for over 50 years and is famous worldwide for producing the most complex and perfectly balanced Single Malts in the world.
About The Glenmorangie Company
The Company is one of the most renowned and innovative distillers of Scotch whisky brands worldwide and is part of Moet Hennessy, the wine and spirits division of Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH). Headquartered in Edinburgh, Scotland, the company produces two main single malt brands – Glenmorangie Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky and Ardbeg Single Islay Malt Whisky.
About The International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC)
The International Wine and Spirit Competition was founded in 1969 and is the premier competition of its kind in the world. Its aim is to promote the quality and excellence of the world’s best wines, spirits and liqueurs. The IWSC Awards mark out of a possible 100, with Gold medals going to whiskies within the top ten percentile. Gold Best in Class is bestowed upon the top whisky within the top ten percentile. Silver medals are given to spirits ranging within 80 – 89.9 and bronze medals are appointed to products between 75 – 79.9 marks.
The Glenmorangie Company advocates responsible drinking and suggests that drinkers savor Glenmorangie whiskies in moderation and in line with recommended daily guidelines for alcohol consumption.
This Highland Malt is Perhaps a Bit Overpriced and Pedestrian
By Matt Goldstein & Amy K. Haight
After recently being named Distiller of the year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, we tasted the Glenmorangie 18 Years aged Single Malt and we can understand the enthusiasm behind this great distillery. On the other hand, we also tasted the Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or at Philadelphia’s Union Trust Streakhouse. First, the Union Trust overcharged for about $22 per glass. Maybe the bartender made a mistake considering the Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon was only $15. Any who, not to hold that against Glenmorangie, but the Nectar D’Or seemed to under perform. Perhaps a bit pedestrian, and perhaps a bit overpriced, the Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or was solid, but nothing special. Non chill filtered, the Nectar D’Or is aged in French Oak which is rare for a single malt scotch. We respect and appreciate Glenmorangie’s willingness to be different but we’re not sure if they created anything special here by branching out. The Casks are hand selected wine barriques from Sauternes, a famous and ancient sweet wine growing region of France and the whisky is casked for a minium of 10 years.
The Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or is thin with an average scent. Having good flavor but thin overall and thin on the finish, this is a solid single malt scotch, but nothing great when compared in its class. The Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or won a few silver medals in 2008 and 2009.
When the Whiskey Goldmine releases our Top 10 Single Malt Scotch list in the next few weeks, the Macallan Cask Strength is destined for the top 5. This single malt is a flat out masterpiece. The Macallan Cask Strength is aged for a minimum of 10 years in Spanish Oak casks, handcrafted and seasoned by Sherry in Jerez. The Macallan cask strength is bottled straight from the barrel without chill filtration or adding any water, as opposed to what is normally done in almost all scotches, not to mention all whiskeys. The genius of this whisky is just that, it’s just the single malt Scotch whisky in its natural state making the statement in your glass. One could search their entire lives looking for a 10 years aged single malt with this much complexity and undoubtedly come up short.
The color is a deep red, almost a mahogany. The flavor and mouth feel are a complex and sweet syrup, with beautiful notes of wood. With hints of vanilla, fruits, spices and oak, the flavor, mouth feel, and finish is just on another level than other premium single malts. Almost like a pancake meeting maple syrup for the first time, no other premium single malt is this rich and complex.
Perhaps the craziest attribute of the Macallan Cask Strength is just that, its strength. There is no water added and the whisky is bottled straight from the barrel, 58.5% ABV, 117 proof. Yet, with the strong character of the cask strength is still an exceptionally smooth and beautiful whisky. Compared to other premium single malts, the Balvenie 15 year Single Barrel is 47,8%, the Talisker 10 year is 45.8%, Highland Park 12 year is 43%, and the Oban 14 year is 43%. That would mean that the Macallan Cask Strength has almost a 35% higher ABV than Highland Park and Oban.
This Macallan Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch comes with our highest recommendation. This is perhaps the most exception single malt we’ve ever tasted and in its price range and maturation, one will find it extremely difficult to match.
Because of the price tag, about $250, very few get a chance to taste the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Blended Scotch Whisky. But when confronted with the opportunity, it’s an absolute must! The Johnnie Walker Blue Label is hand crafted in single barrel batches and is a blend of 9 whiskies. The Johnnie Walker Master Blender hand selects the premium whiskies used for the blend, and draws from the largest whisky reserves in the world, dating back 200 years.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Tasting Notes:
The scent is a medium to solid scent of peat smoke. The whisky is very light and smooth with flavors of grain. Having a peat mouth feel with notes of sweet honey, this is a complex and excellent whiskey. The mouth feel was also thick and creamy, and we consider it to be incomparable. The Blue Label is perhaps the best mouth feel of any whisky in the world. A flat out stud! The Johnnie Walker Blue Label is simply one of the best whisky’s you will ever try.
From Johnnie Walker!
Johnnie Walker Blue Label is the epitome of blending. Created to reflect the style of whiskies in the early 19th century, it’s created using some of our rarest casks from the Johnnie Walker stocks, the largest in the world.
The casks are hand-selected and set aside for their exceptional quality, character and flavor. The character of Blue Label is truly unique; it is complex, powerful, incredibly smooth and retains the Johnnie Walker signature smokiness.
King George V from Blue Label was created to celebrate the Royal Warrant given to the Walker family in 1934 to mark their exceptional quality. This blend includes Port Ellen™, a highly prized malt whose distillery no longer exists.
The John Walker is the most recent addition, created as a tribute to our founder. Hand-crafted in single barrel batches of only 330 bottles, it’s an exceptionally rare blend of 9 whiskies, including those from Glen Albyn™ and Cambus™ distilleries. It’s presented in a unique, individually numbered Baccarat crystal decanter – hand blown, polished and engraved by one of only three Master Craftsmen in the world.