“Classic Malt” Disappoints: Smooth but No Flavor, Finnish or Complexity
By Matt Goldstein & Eric Duncan
Cragganmore 12 Years Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky is considered one of the “Classic Malts” of Scotland. Cragganmore is named for the hill behind the distillery that supplies the water for the making of the Scotch. Cragganmore was Established in 1869 by John Smith who was manager at Macallan & Glenlivet, and lease holder at Glenfarcas. Very experienced in the world of single malt scotch, John Smith decided to start his own distillery, Cragganmore. The six “Classic Malts” of Scotland are as follows: Dalwhinnie from the Highlands, Talisker from the Isle of Skye, Cragganmore from Speyside, Oban from West Highland, Lagavulin from Islay, and Glenkinchie from the Lowlands.
Cragganmore 12 Year Tasting Notes:
The scent is complex, sweat and peaty. The drink is smooth, and thin with a light peat. The Cragganmore is very drinkable but lacks flavor, complexity and finish. There’s no oak or wood flavor and there is just something missing here. Smooth isn’t always good. However, we did crush the bottle in about 2 hours so it can’t be that bad.
For the Dalmore Gran Reserva the Master Distiller selects the most intense whiskies, typically aged from 10 to 15 years, drawn exclusively from first fill oaken casks. The assembly combines whiskies from both Oloroso sherry butts and Bourbon barrels in an approximate two thirds to one. The Dalmore Distillery is known for their signature flat top wash stills, cold water jacket spirit stills and bespoke oak cask maturation. Dalmore Single Malt Scotch Whisky stakes its claim as one of the best of the Highland region and is located on the northern shores of the Firth of Cromarty in the Highlands. The distillery is sited near Loch Morie and the coast of the Black Isle. According to Dalmore, being elevated at sea level is critically important to the maturation of their scotch. Many single malts gain much of their character from a salty ocean water air. The Dalmore Gran Reserve is a great single malt scotch.
The Dalmore Gran Reserva Tasting Notes: The scent is thin like a tequila, not sweet but a bit chocolaty, dry, light, light in peat and smooth. The water opens up the peat but it’s a thin smooth single malt.
Aged in 6 Different Types of Cask, Inspired by the History of Scotland & Dalmore
By Matt Godstein
Dalmore released the 1263 King Alexander III single malt in order to commemorate the Mackenzie Clan ancestor’s heroic act in saving King Alexander in 1263. Legend has it that a wild deer stag was coming straight at King Alexander, and an ancestor of the Mackenzie clan took down the wild deer with one shot of an arrow. The King granted the shooter the right to wear the stags head in his coat of arms with the motto, “Help the King.” The head of the stag has been the insignia of the Mackenzie clan and Dalmore single malt scotch ever since. The 12 points of the antler signify royalty.
The Dalmore 1263 is aged in 6 types of cask, French wine barriques, Madeira drums, sherry butts from Jerez, Sicilian Marsala barrels, port pipes from the Douro and white oak bourbon barrels from Kentucky. Out of the bottle the scent is peat, smoke, wood and oak. The flavor is sweet with notes of honey, nectar, and very light peat. The Dalmore 1263 is exceptionally smooth with a longing warmth. The oak and wood is the major statement in this single malt. With a thick mouth feel and thick aftertaste the Dalmore 1263 is a complex single malt with an excellent overall flavor and finish. The Dalmore 1263 King Alexander III is an extraordinary single malt. The wood finish is plainly exceptional.
Lagavulin: Maybe the Best Single Malt from the Islay Region
By Matt Goldstein
Dating back as early as 1742, Lagavulin is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Made on the south coast of Islay region, Lagavulin is considered a “classic malt.” Often called “the aristocrat” of the Islay, the 16 year is critically acclaimed, and rightfully so. According to whiskey.com, Lagavulin uses local barley, and is exposed about twenty times as much peat smoke compared to a typical Speyside scotch. Fermentation of the barley is a slow process, too. Between 55 and 75 hours are taken for the full peat-rich flavor of the locally-malted barley to come through. Lagavulin has the slowest distillation process of any Islay malt.
The Lagavulin Single Malt Review: Flavor and Taste
The Lagavulin 16 Year Single Malt Scotch Whiskey from the Islay region has the scent of a light to medium peat. The flavor is dry, sweet and complex. The taste of peat is very well balanced and perhaps the best character of the single malt. The peat is medium and not overbearing, seemingly a perfect poise. Smooth, robust and full bodied, the Lagavulin has a sweet citrusy finish. We love this scotch!
Dalmore 15: One of Best Single Malt Scotches from the Highland Region
By Matt Golstein
With their signature flat top wash stills, cold water jacket spirit stills and bespoke oak cask maturation, Dalmore Single Malt Scotch Whisky stakes its claim as one of the best of the Highland region. Dalmore 15 years aged is matured in bespoke Matusalem, Apostoles and Amoroso sherry casks from Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. Located on the northern shores of the Firth of Cromarty in the Highlands, the distillery is sited near Loch Morie and the coast of the Black Isle. According to Dalmore, being elevated at sea level is critically important to the maturation of their scotch. Many single malts gain much of their character from a salty ocean water air.
The Dalmore 15 Flavor & Review
With a light scent of smoke and peat, and a sweet fruity aroma, there are also scents of nectar, honey, grain and malt. With a rich oak and charcoal, the full flavored Dalmore 15 year single malt is sweet, and very smooth with subtle warmth. The Dalmore 15 is gentle with a perfectly light touch of peat smoke. With flavors of oak, honey, fruit, pineapple, pear, citrus and maple, this complex single malt has an excellent finish and aftertaste with phenomenal character. The only problem with Dalmore 15 is that one is not enough! The Dalmore 15 is not only one of the best single malts from the Highlands; Dalmore 15 is one of the best single malts in all of Scotland. This whisky is a lock for our top 10 single malts in the world. We highly recommend the Dalmore 15 years aged single Highland malt scotch whiskey.
An All Malt Scotch Whisky from the Island of Islay with 14 Gold Medals
By Matt Goldstein
Laphroaig, pronounced “La-froyg”, is a Gaelic word meaning “the beautiful hollow by the broad bay.” The three main ingredients for Laproaig are barley, water and yeast. For the Laphroaig 10 year, the malted barley is dried over a peat fire. Laphroaig only uses peat found on the island of Islay. The Laphroaig 10 year has a strong smoky scent with a malt nose and the color is a full gold. The flavor is very smoky, almost mesquite with a complex finish and long aftertaste. The 10 year is a sweet and subtle full bodied peat monster! This is an excellent and classic 10 year single malt. The best way to taste Laphroaig: Take it neat or with a splash of soft water. Roll it around on your tongue. Release the pungent, earthy aroma of the blue peat smoke, the sweet nuttiness of the barley and the delicate, heathery perfume of Islay’s streams.
Awards and Medals for the Laphroaig 10 Year Single Malt
2010 International Wine & Spirit Competition – Silver Medal
2010 SF World Spirits Competition – Double Gold medal
2009 SF World Spirits Competition – Gold medal
2008 IWSC – Silver Medal and ‘Best in Class’
2008 SF World Spirits Competition – Gold medal
2007 International Wine and spirits Competition – Gold (Best in Class)
2007 ISC (International Spirits Challenge) – Gold medal
2007 International Review of Spirits (BTI) – Silver medal
2007 San Francisco World Spirits Competition – Gold medal
2006 International Wine and spirits Competition, Gold, Best in Class
2006 San Francisco World Spirits Competition – Double-Gold award
2005 Malt Maniacs Awards – Silver Medal “A peat monster that takes no prisoners”
2005 IWSC – Silver Medal and ‘Best in Class’
2004 International Spirits Challenge – Silver Medal
2003 International Spirits Challenge – Silver Medal
2003 International Spirits Challenge- Gold Medal
2001 International Spirits Challenge – Gold Medal
2000 International Spirits Challenge – Gold Medal
2000 International Wine & Spirit Competition – Gold Medal
1999 International Wine & Spirit Competition – Gold Medal
1998 International Wine & Spirit Competition – Best Single Malt Scotch Whisky under 12 Years Old
1998 International Wine & Spirit Competition – Gold Medal
The Dalmore 12 Years Old Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky:
The Dalmore 12 was a gold medalist at the 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. The 12 Years Old Single Malt is aged in Spanish Oloroso sherry casks and then oak bourbon barrels. In all aged whiskeys, cognacs, and related liquors etc., the age of the liquor inside the bottle must be older then the age labeled or advertised on the outside of the bottle. The Dalmore distillery boasts that its 12 year single malt scotch is much older than any average aging stock in Highland. The Dalmore 12 year has a sweet scent with hints of vanilla, peat and faint citrus; it’s a complex and solid nose feel. The Dalmore 12 is a thin and light single malt that is very smooth with a nice warmth. At first it’s dry and light in flavor, but after we open up the Dalmore with a couple drops of water, a sweet flavor emerges. The opened Dalmore becomes thicker and the vanilla stands out with a dry thin mouth feel, but thick sweet syrupy finish. This is an excellent single malt that grows on you with every sip.
The Jura 16 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky:
The scent of the Jura 16 is spicy, with hints of fruit and honey. The 16 year flavor is a strong oak and wood with a thick sweet mouth feel. After we open the Jura 16 with a few drops of water. The mouth feel is thick and syrupy and the wood flavors a powdery flour, with a perfume strength. The water made it a bit stronger. The smaller the sip one takes, the better the flavor of the 16 year, with a smooth aftertaste. Distilling scotch on the remote island of Jura dates back to the 1600’s. The Jura 16 Year Single Malt is aged just off the beach on the Isle of Jura and gets much of its complex characteristics from the ocean air. This is a single malt for the experienced scotch drinker.
Nathan Muir: Scotch, never less than twelve years old.
The Balvenie Doublewood 12:
The Doublewood 12 Year Single Malt Scotch is much like the 15 actually but a bit less expensive. The Doublewood gets its name from being aged in two distinct oak casks. The Balvenie Doublewood is aged in traditional oak whisky cask, then a European oak sherry cask. The Doublewood is a very smooth single malt scotch with a touch of peat. There is an excellent malt flavor with nutty and honey notes. The finish has a bit of fruit and vanilla with a peat aftertaste. The light smoky taste makes this a very complex scotch for a 12 year. Established in 1892, the Balvenie distillery is in Dufftown, Banffshire Scotland in the Speyside region.
The Singleton’s 12 Year Single Malt Scotch:
The Singleton’s 12 is very smooth, slightly warming with a good and light flavor. With a fruity nose, and light honey and caramel flavor, a complex finish and light sweet aftertaste. Singleton is a Speyside scotch from Dufftown Banffshire. For about $30-35, this is an excellent single malt scotch and stands up to many single malts for twice price.
The Aberlour 12 Year Single Malt Speyside Scotch:
The Aberlour 12 is also smooth and light with a nice warmth. The Aberlour is sweet with a hint of honey but also thin and a touch dry in the finish. This 12 Year Old single malt has been matured in two types of cask. Many times the double barrel aging adds much complexity. The color is gold and a bit red, and the flavor has a definitive sherry character with pepper and peat smoke. According to their web site, the Aberlour distillery produces 3.2 million liters of alcohol each year. Casked at 63.5%, the main age statements of Aberlour single malt Scotch whiskies are the 10, 12 and 16 Year Olds and A’bunadh. The crystal-clear spring water cascades down the slopes of Ben Rinnes, and makes its way from there along the Lour Valley to the distillery.
The Largest Selling & Most Award Winning Single Malt Scotch Whisky in the World!
By Matt Goldstein
The Glenfiddich 12 Year is a Highland Single Malt Scotch is distilled and matured in the Valley of the Deer. As the bottle is opened, the nose is solid single malt, but in the glass the single malt is much more subtle. The flavor is thick and sweet with a touch of syrup and the finish a soothing warmth. Exceptionally light in color, the sweet flavor remains for a while with notes of honey, syrup, supple fruit, nectar, nuts and oak. After a few drops of water, the Glenfiddich 12 year is exceptionally smooth. After being opened up, the Glenfiddich 12 year is a very smooth, soft spoken scotch. The aftertaste is especially flavorful. The bottle boasts of pear and oak but this scotch is much more complex.
The Glenfiddich 12 Year is the largest selling single malt Scotch whisky in the world and also has received the most awards. Glenfiddich single malt is also available in the 15 year, 18 year, 21 year and the very rare 30 year. If you’re not looking for a smoky or peaty style of Scotch, Glenfiddich is the perfect single malt for the holidays.
History of Glenfiddich Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch: Glenfiddich is the most awarded single malt Scotch whisky in the world – having won more awards at the International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) and International Spirits Challenge (ISC) than any other single malt since 2000. The pioneer of the prestigious single malt Scotch whisky category, our Glenfiddich 12 Year Old is today enjoyed by more people around the world than any other single malt whisky.
Our original, signature single malt Scotch whisky has matured for at least 12 years in American and Spanish oak casks. The quality of these casks is exceptional as all are individually tended by our experienced team of on-site coopers, ensuring our whisky develops complex, elegantly rounded flavors with notes of fresh pear and subtle oak.
No other single malt has collected as many of the industry’s most prestigious accolades since 2000 as Glenfiddich
2010 Beverage Tasting Institute Gold
2009 International Spirits Challenge (ISC) Bronze
2008 Scotch Whisky Masters Gold
2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition Gold
2007 International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) Gold
2005 International Wine & Spirits Competition (IWSC) Gold
In the summer of 1886 our founder, William Grant, set out to fulfill a lifelong ambition of creating the ‘best dram in the valley’.
With the help of his seven sons and two daughters, William built his distillery in a single year. Their hard work was rewarded on Christmas Day 1887 when the first drop of spirit flowed from the small copper pot stills. William named his distillery Glenfiddich, Gaelic for ‘Valley of the Deer’.
Over 120 years later, Glenfiddich is one of the few single malt distilleries to remain entirely family owned and our whisky has become the world’s most awarded single malt, a true reflection of the passion, integrity and innovative spirit that have been passed down through the generations.
At The Glenfiddich Distillery, time and experience are the heart of the operation. Accumulated and passed down through five generations, the rich whisky making experience of our craftsmen ensures each variant in the Glenfiddich single malt Scotch whisky range matures exquisitely well – balancing rich complexity with Glenfiddich’s unmistakable character.
Remaining independent and family-owned gives the maker’s of Glenfiddich Scotch whisky the privilege of a long term perspective. As such we have retained many expensive and time-consuming techniques to ensure the consistent and exceptional quality of our whiskies.
Lagavulin is the official classic malt from the Islay region. The recipe for Lagavulin possibly dates back to 1742. The malted barley used to distil Lagavulin has a strong peat scent and twenty times as much exposure to peat smoke as a typical Speyside Scotch. Fermentation of the barley is a slow process, too. Between 55 and 75 hours are taken for the full peat-rich flavour of the locally-malted barley to come through. Lagavulin has the slowest distillation process of any Islay malt. The standard availability of Lagavulin is their 16 years aged single malt available for around $60.
Oban 14 Year West Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky is made in small stills and is a full, rich, malty, medium body single malt with a touch of peat. Light and smooth with a nice burn, the Oban 14 Year is a classic malt. Sweet with a touch of sea salt, the finish is sweet and smooth. Named after the caves used by the first settlers of Scotland in 5,000 B.C., called “An Ob,” Oban is distilled in the Oban, capital city of the West Highlands.
Glenkinchie, also known as the Edinburgh malt, is the classic malt of the Lowland region. The malt is also used in blends such as Haig, Johnny Walker Red Label, Johnny Walker Black Label, Buchanan and Dimple. Glenkinchie is available in the 10 year, 12 year and 14 year sherry cask edition.
Cragganmore Single Malt is the most complex Speyside Malt but is limited in supply because of the small distillery. According to Discovering Distillery’s, the Cragganmore’s unique flat topped spirit stills and slowly condensed in traditional wooden worm-tubs, promotes Cragganmore’s complexity, available in the 12 year and 15 year.
Dalwhinnie 15 year single malt scotch is a subtle, yet distinct scotch from the Highland region. Founded in 1897, Dalwhinnie also has a 20 year old, 29 year old and 36 year old single malt, but the 15 year is much more widely available. The Dalwhinnie 15 year has a light nose and tastes of floral, caramel, honey, with a touch of smoke. There is a little biscuit, light bite, and the finish is very smooth. Dalwhinnie had a beautiful yet subtle warmth. What a classic scotch! The Dalwhinnie 15 year is a perfect scotch and can be sipped straight, with water or with 1-2 cubes. We would not recommend using more that 2 cubes as this would destroy the complexity of the single malt. The Dalwhinnie 15 year might be our favorite single malt scotch.
Talisker was founded in 1830 and is made Loch Harport near Cullin range on the Isle of Skye. There is a strong scent of peat as soon the bottle is opened. The whiskey glass nose is a solid peat; less than the Laphroaig 18 but much more than the Macallan 10 and Highland Park 12. The color is a gold, maybe a light red-ish yellow. The taste is a light medium peat, thin malt with a thin dry finish and slow, long burn. The flavor is also delicately sweet, and after being opened up with a few drops of water gets very smooth. Still dry, the finish is easy, complex and warming. The Talisker has a slight peaty flavor but it’s not overdone. It also has some nice undertones including pepper. This is one of Eric’s top 3 single malts along with Lagavulin and Oban, but for the price $50 you can’t go wrong when it feels sooo right. It’s got a lot of flavor but the smokiness is subtle; the scotch whisky makes the statement. The Talisker 10 is an Island Single Malt Scotch Whisky produced on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Talisker has an above average Peat content and is used in part of Jonnie Walker’s blended Scotch whisky. The Talisker 10 is an excellent single malt, definitely in our top 10 single malts, possibly top 5.