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The Balvenie Portwood 21: A Highly Desirable Scotch

The Balvenie Portwood 21: A Highly Desirable Scotch


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This Scotch has a clean, crisp final note and remarkable smoothness throughout

This Scotch has a clean, crisp final note and remarkable smoothness throughout.

The Balvenie, a range of Single Malt Scotches from the Speyside region of Scotland, features a diverse portfolio. If you’re a Scotch lover they likely have something in their range to suit your palate. The commonality to me is the attention to detail that helps them to achieve the quality and consistency their name evokes. Among the things that set The Balvenie apart are the strict controls they retain over several aspects of the production process. Growing their own barley and employing their own staff of coopers to handle every cask are but two examples. I’ve been a fan of the Balvenie range for quite a while now, and the 12 Year Old DoubleWood is one I go to on a regular basis. Therefore it’s always interesting to taste the rare, more sought-after examples in their range. Amongst those the Balvenie Portwood 21 is a highly desirable Scotch produced in limited quantities.

The Balvenie Portwood was aged for 21 years. After spending time in whisky barrels, a selection of rare Balvenie whiskies are transferred to casks that were previously utilized to age port. The Balvenie malt master tastes it regularly so that it can be removed to bottle once the desired amount of port influence has been achieved. This single malt scotch most often sells for right around $170. A huge nose loaded with apricot and oatmeal is laced with a gentle hint of licorice. From the first sip the depth and purity of flavors is readily apparent. Peaches, white fig, continued apricot, and spices galore are all part of a generous, complex palate. Bits of honey emerge on the persistent, generous and deeply flavored finish which goes on and on gloriously. Hints of maple syrup also creep in and add to the hints of sweetness that are apparent throughout. This Scotch has a clean, crisp final note and remarkable smoothness throughout. There isn’t a thing here not to love.

The Balvenie Portwood 21 is an absolutely outstanding single malt that any Scotch lover should be yearning to drink. If you’re building a collection of Scotches to savor over time you want to have some diversity. I believe a collection of that sort should include expressions with different finishes, as well as bottles that have aged for varying amounts of time. A 21-year-old Scotch is a special occasion dram for most people; that said, if you’re in the market for one, The Balvenie Portwood is one of the greatest.


Scotch

I’m on my way Up North to Scottishland today and don’t have time to post something current. By pure coincidence, however, a Longtime Reader asked me to rerun my old treatise on Scotch whiskies, which seems appropriate so here it is, from March 2006, and as you may imagine, not much has changed since then:

I drink Scotch in three ways:

1. Single malts (sipping). Neat, no ice, with a glass of water consumed on alternate sips. This has less to do with style than it does with my frigging gout. I refuse to dilute the lovely stuff in my mouth, but I don’t mind diluting it in the stomach. My favorite single malts are typically from the Speyside region, and I’ll drink pretty much any single malt from those distilleries, but my absolute favorite is The Macallan 25-year-old, with Glenmorangie 10-yr-old as my “everyday” choice. For a “change”, I’ll drink The Dalmore 15-yr-old, which like Glenmorangie is a Highland malt.

Also in the cabinet right now are all the aforementioned, plus Glenfiddich 18-yr-old and Talisker 10-yr-old, for those with different tastes to mine. When Mr. FM comes to visit, I usually lay in a few bottles of Laphroiag, his favorite.

2. Blended (thirst quenching, or at parties). J&B, ice and water — and only J&B. Forget even offering me anything else. No J&B, and Kim drinks something else altogether, like gin. I actually dilute my J&B quite substantially — that gout thing again — and this also allows me to drink for longer periods of time before intoxication sets in.

3. As an after-dinner liqueur. Here I prefer the smoky, peatier singles like Laphroiag or Talisker, because I’m only going to drink one, and I can take my time in the drinking of it.

I’m not a Scotch snob, by the way, even though the above may make me sound like one. My tastes and favorites have come after some fairly extensive errrr trial and experimentation, and like in many areas of my life, I see no reason to change something with which I’m comfortable, and which has come about after considerable experience. I’ve tried most of the major single malts available internationally, and a couple available only in Scotland, but I’ve come to settle on the above because, well, I love their taste.

The wonderful thing about Scotch in general, and single malts in particular, is that it doesn’t matter how you drink it: that distinctive taste will always shine through. (However, I pretty much draw the line at drinking single malt with, say, Diet Coke, because that’s just barbaric — and once you mix any Scotch with Coke, the subtle differences between brands and types pretty much disappear, making the choice of a single malt under those circumstances just pretentious. But hey, if that’s how you want to drink that 40-yr-old Talisker…)

Just be aware that adding water to a single malt doesn’t just dilute the taste, it may change it completely. I find that this is especially true of some Highland malts. Some people happen upon such a taste, and thereafter prefer to drink their favorite single that way. Your call.

Still on the subject of taste, some say that coastal distilleries’ malts are different from those made by inland distilleries because of the salty sea air. I can’t taste it, myself, but I’m not a seasoned Scotch drinker, really.

Finally, it’s a common mistake to assume that the older the malt, the better the whisky. Some malts taste better in their “rawer” state — the malt becomes more bland as it ages — whereas others need the time to “mature” into smoothness. It’s all about your taste and preferences.

Afterthought: It occurred to me that not everyone might be familiar with the Scotch thing, incredible as that may seem. So, for the benefit of anyone who might be interested in pursuing Scotch as a career (as so many have), here are a few pointers.

Single malts are the exclusive product of one distillery, made from barley. They will be bottled and sold as such, or else sold to other distillers to be blended with other malt- and grain whiskies (in closely-guarded secret and “proprietary” recipes) to produce “blended” Scotches such as J&B, Haig, White Horse, Bell’s, Cutty Sark and so on.

Blended malts are malts from different distilleries, sometimes called “vatted” malt. (The wonderfully-named “Sheep Dip” is a blended malt. Also, if the brand contains the words “Pride of”, or “Poit”, chances are it’s a blended malt.)

Proprietary (blended) Scotches are also broken into blended grain (grains from other distilleries) and blended Scotch (malts and grains from different distilleries). The actual number of distilleries used can be large. J&B, for example, uses the product from forty distilleries (and almost none from Islay, which is why it’s one of the smoothest Scotches on the market). Johnny Walker Red contains malts from 35 distilleries, and grains from 5 others.

As a rule of thumb, the higher the malt proportion (30%+) in the blend, the more expensive the Scotch. The most expensive (sometimes called premium) blends are at least 40% malt (eg. Johnny Walker Black, Chivas Regal). The “premium” can also be a factor not of the malt/grain mix, but of the number of malts used — the lower the number of malts in a brand, the more expensive it will be.

Single-grain Scotch whisky is rare (Black Barrel and Loch Lomond being the most famous).

(For all the info on Scotch whisky brands you’re ever likely to need, go here.)

The age of a single malt is denoted by the time it spent maturing in its cask: once bottled, it ceases to age altogether. If you see “single cask” on a single malt’s label, it means it came from one cask exclusively and was not mixed with whisky from other casks within the same distillery. Usually, this variant is hideously expensive, for not much more flavor — we’re well up the curve of diminishing returns, here.

Now for some pointers on the distilleries and their brands. The list is by no means complete (there are dozens of distilleries in Scotland — here’s a map), but I have actually tried all the ones I’ve listed.

The malts differ by region (sometimes by even smaller geographic differences) because of the different waters used, and in the distilling processes. I’ve made a few generalizations, however, just to give people an idea.

One last note: when you see a “The” before a single malt’s name, it’s not generally an affectation. Sometimes, the name is an area, not just an actual distillery (eg. Glenlivet), and “The” is usually added to denote either that it’s a single malt, or that it comes from the distillery of that name.

Speyside whiskies have a smoother taste, lighter flavor and softer aroma than most other Scotches. They are distilled, as the name suggests, in distilleries which are found along the River Spey on the northeast side of Scotland. Some of those distilleries (there are at least twenty major ones) are: Knockando, Glenlivet, Aberlour, Balvenie, Glenfarclas and Macallan.

Island/Islay whiskies come from the islands on the west- and north coasts of Scotland. Typically, they are much heavier, more aromatic, peatier-flavored whiskies, and some of the distilleries are very well-known: Laphroiag (la-froy-yag, from Islay), Talisker (Skye), Ardbeg (Islay), Highland Park (Orkney) and Bowmore (Islay).

Highland whiskies come from the north of Scotland (sometimes split into northern and southern Highlands). They tend to be darker than the Speyside malts, but not as peaty as the Island ones. Brands include such names as Dalwhinnie, Glen Ord, Dalmore, and Glenmorangie.

Lowland whiskies come from points around the Edinburgh – Glasgow axis, and there are really only two major ones: Rosebank and Glenkinchie (which is the main ingredient of Dimple Haig). I’ve tried Rosebank and didn’t really like it that much, but others (not put off by the “Lowland” appellation) swear by it.

  • Glenmorangie is the #1-selling single malt in Scotland.
  • Glenlivet is the #1-selling single malt in the world.
  • Glenfarclas is the strongest “production” single malt sold.
  • The Famous Grouse is the most popular Scotch in Scotland (it’s blended, not a single).
  • Johnny Walker Red (also a blend) is the most popular Scotch in the world.
  • Johnny Walker Black (also a blend) is the most popular “premium” Scotch in the world.
  • Chivas Regal (also a premium blend) is the most overrated Scotch in the world (okay, that’s just my opinion — OMD).

Feel free to add your comments and opinions in the regular place. Remember that taste in anything is highly personal, so no flame wars, please.


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Whiskey Reviews

This is the The Whiskey Reviewer’s master review index, which as of March 2020 includes over 1,200 reviews, with more added every week. To search the index alphabetically, click on one of the letter links below to jump to the relevant section. To search by category, tag, or type, use the relevant links listed beneath the letter links.

* Denotes limited edition. These are periodically reviewed for relevancy, and irrelevant listings are deleted from this index, but not our database.

12 comments

Great site. The ratings here line up with the whiskies I’ve tasted so far, so I look forward to trying new whiskies by that same metric. There is one whiskey I really enjoyed that is not on the review list and I must highly recommend it for review: The Wild Geese Single Malt.

What are the asterisks for?

Hearing good things about Balcones Whiskey out of Waco, TX. Have you tried any of theirs? I have tried their Rumble (which I loved) and just purchased their Texas Single Malt and True Blue bottles. Curious as to how you would review them.

I’m curious how you’d rate Dewars 18. To me, it competes very well with the finest, most expensive single malts.

I was very, very fond of Grant’s 18. Some of the big blends can do absolutely marvelous things with their older stock, stuff that eclipses much of the similarly aged single malts out there.

Is there a way to sort reviews by author?

Search by author on either of the two engines.

Hi! Would love to see your thoughts on Old Pogue Master Distillers Select bourbon. Great site! Glad to have found it, you have given me guidance and I am excited to try some new drams.

It’s on my to-do list. I have a bottle. I just haven’t gotten to it.

I was a product representative for national distillers in the 1970s where I first experienced bourbon whiskeys for the first time, those products are mostly gone,old Sunnybrook, old grandad, old Taylor, bourbon deluxe, old Crow, Hill & Hill straight.I guess that’s why I’m a Kentucky straight Bourbon snob, and I don’t even look at a Canadian or any type of blended whiskey at all! I remember I was there for the introduction of old grand-dad 114 proof, as I remember it was around 1980 and I wasrepresenting those products in Marina del Rey California at the time, 114 proof was a tough sell in the bars and restaurants at a time when tequila’s vodkas and other white goods were so popular. Thank you for your website, I will continue to read your reviews!

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About Our Rating System

The Whiskey Reviewer uses a letter-based rating system, instead of the numerical 100-grade rating system. Click here to learn why.

The following indicators should be taken as only a guide and not a set of hard and fast rules. Some "premium" whiskeys really are quite terrible, while some mass market products are good enough to pour into a decanter and serve to the Duke of Edinburgh.

A+: A masterpiece and one of the ten best whiskeys of its type. Above five stars.
A: An outstanding bottle of whiskey, but lacking that special something which makes for a true masterpiece. Five stars.
A-: A fine bottle of whiskey, representing the top end of the conventional, premium range.
B+: Very good stuff. Four stars.
B and B-: Good and above average. The best of the mass market whiskeys fit in this category, as do the bulk of the premium brands. A B- is three stars.
C+ to C-: Average whiskey. A C- is two stars.
D+ to D-: Below average whiskey. A D is one star and a D- one-half of a star.
F: Zero stars. Rotgut.


The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Year Old

The inimitable David Stewart has been at The Balvenie going on 60 years. He&rsquos the longest-tenured and most highly decorated malt master in the business and has had a hand in the development of some legendary whiskies, from the Tun 1401 series to the DCS Compendium, a collection of 25 handpicked casks curated by Stewart that include vintage single malts spanning his illustrious career. But of all the whiskies he&rsquos made, Stewart once told me, he&rsquos most proud of DoubleWood 12 Year Old, which changed the way the industry approached spirit maturation. It&rsquos aged in two types of barrels: American oak and European oak sherry. Today, virtually every whisky distillery in the world has similarly aged whiskies in their portfolio, but only one is the true original.


Balvenie — Grain to Bottle:

Like all single malts, Balvenie uses 100% malted barley. Unlike almost any of the single malts anymore, Balvenie grows a healthy portion of their own malt on Balvenie Mains, the 1000 acre farm they’ve owned since the first drop of whiskey came off the stills on May 1, 1893.

MALTING & MASH:

To turn barley into malt (n.), you need to malt (v.) it, which is done by soaking it in water for a couple days and laying it out on the floor to sprout. This process produces the enzymes that converts the starches in the barley to fermentable sugars.

Almost all Scotch whiskey distilleries used to do this themselves, and have since outsourced it to massive commercial malting houses, but Balvenie is one of the very few who still do their own malting by a team of four malt men on a traditional malting floor (sorry). I’m told this DIY business isn’t all too much more expensive, though it is a pain in the ass. The reason they do it is to maintain complete control over their whiskey from grain to bottle, a level of control that one begins to notice they’re a bit anal about.

They want the barley to germinate, they don’t want it to actually turn into a plant. So when the moment’s exactly right, they stop the germination with heat via an enormous kiln, fueled by anthracite and a little bit of peat (if you’re ever wondering where the smoked peat quality of some scotches comes from, it’s this process).

FERMENTATION AND DISTILLATION:

The dried malt is now ground into a fine powder, cooked with spring water to make essentially a sugary barley soup, and then pumped to the fermenters with yeast to turn that soup into beer. Fermentation takes about three days and yields a brew somewhere around 8% ABV.

Like most single malts, Balvenie is twice distilled in copper pot stills. The law says they can distill it all the way up to 94.8% and still call it scotch, which is crazy and practically vodka at that point. Balvenie obviously doesn’t do that and only goes up to 70%, and is diluted to 63.5% before it goes into the barrel.

One thing that doesn’t really matter but is pretty cool is that they keep a dedicated coppersmith on staff to look after the stills. Copper is essential. It actually interacts with the distillate, precipitating some of the uglier compounds so they don’t get into the final product. That reaction, however, takes a tiny (like, molecular tiny) layer of the copper with it every run. A little part of the stills die with every distillation, donating themselves to the greater cause. Thus, coppersmith.

Scotch is almost never aged in new casks (compared to bourbon, where all casks legally must be brand new… and yes, avid and curious reader, most bourbon distilleries ship forests of used barrels to Scotland). This means that it gets less oaky tannins from the wood, and more flavors from what the barrel was last used for.

But Balvenie doesn’t just trust anyone to make their barrels, oh no. Remember control? A team of seven coopers make all Balvenie’s barrels, making sure they all are exactly how they want them. Some are then sent to America to age bourbon, some to rum, some to sherry. Then they come back, age scotch, and finish the process.

And now, thank god, we finally get to drink.


For peat's sake: there's a lot of excitement among producers of premium and superpremium scotch.

While dwarfed by the relative size of several other distilled spirits categories, Scotch remains one of the identifiable standard bearers of the urbane consumerism. Its cachet of uncompromised quality, breadth of expression and dynamic range of flavor has made Scotch a global heavyweight.

A look at the numbers reveals some interesting trends. According to the Adams Handbook Advance 2005, while the overall Scotch category dipped 0.8% in 2004 to just under 9 million 9-liter cases nationally, for the most part premium and superpremium brands continued to grow. In general, value-priced brands--whether domestic or imported--continued to decline. In the control states, Scotch fell a scarce 0.3%, to more than 1.3 million mixed cases.

"Even though Scotch is not the largest of the whiskey markets, the category still carries more gravitas than other whiskeys," contends Larry Kass, director of corporate communications for Heaven Hill. "Scotch offers more expressions, superb marketing and packaging and a strong academic/educational bent. Collectively they're positioned in a sophisticated, upscale way, lending an importance and weight that's disproportionate to case sales."

Indeed, the leading brands of single malt Scotch had sales gains of a collective 4.8% nationally (8.7% in the control states), while the four leading blends, including premium and superpremium brands, all showed sales increases nationally. Dewar's hit 1.4 million 9-liter cases nationally (up 0.4% in the control states), and has been promoting its base brand along with the successful superpremium Dewar's 12. The brand also features another high-end expression, Dewar's Signature, which debuted last year. The Johnnie Walker family is showing renewed strength: while Black has been one of the top-selling superpremium spirits for several years now (up an impressive 5.9% nationally in 2004 up an even more impressive 6.4% in the control states), Red gained another 3.0% nationally last year (off 0.9% in the control states) on top of a comeback year in 2003. And the Chivas Regal ship has righted itself, with the world-renowned superpremium gaining 3.0% nationally in 2004 (though off 2.0% in the control states).

Consensus is that Scotch enthusiasts are different than your average spirits drinker. They're more prone to try new releases and sample unconventional bottlings. They are driven by the sense of discovery and the need to experience something new and exciting. It's all like an urban adventure. Distillers appreciate these compelling desires because it's the same forces that drive them.

"Our experience has shown us that what impels consumers to purchase a blended or single malt Scotch is taste, recommendation and self-discovery," observed Jack Shea of Allied Domecq. "As a consumer's palate becomes more discerning, he or she may be willing to move on--and up in price if necessary--to experience a more complex malt, maybe something more adventurous. More often than not, they purchase based on a recommendation or through their own discovery and research."

Diageo's Richard Nichols, vp, marketing, for Scotch, agreed. "Discovery is absolutely what drives consumers to single malt Scotches--the provenance of Scotland, the history of the distilleries and the variety of flavors you can experience by region, age, finish, etc." Mary Therese Kraft of Jim Beam believes that successful retailers will continue focusing their efforts on educating consumers. "Hand-selling and personal recommendations are imperative when it comes to selling Scotch. The retail trade is the single most important entity in the education of consumers. They are perceived as experts and the more knowledge the retailer and their employees can impart to the consumer, the more they will enjoy and experiment within the category."

As a retailer, you're bound to please every palate and satisfy every request carrying a hundred labels of Scotch. Most take a more reserved approach, however, opting instead to offer their clientele a more discriminating selection of blends and single malts. If this strategy more closely aligns with your objectives, take heed. Stocking a limited selection requires considerably more thought to ensure that you market a balanced offering, one that best represents the varieties of styles of each Scotch-producing region.

This past year or so has featured the release of new and tremendously exciting malts, each nudging the envelope and expanding the horizon. So discard the notion of "best" as outdated and overtly subjective. Instead, line your shelves with genuinely intriguing whiskies.

Located in the northern part of Scotland, the Highlands is the largest Scotch-producing region and the home to a majority of the country's distilleries. The region's peat-laced waters and cool, moisture-laded air is perfectly suited for making classic malts. The heartland of the region is the Speyside. Its malts are known for their sophistication, elegance and complexity, the most famous of which are The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich.

The best-selling single malt Scotch in the U.S., The Glenlivet range recently expanded with the release of The Glenlivet 15-Year-Old French Oak Reserve. The whisky is aged in American ex-bourbon after which a is matured further in new, Limousin oak barrels. While still representative of the Glenlivet style, the French oak finish adds some welcome spice. Also new to the line is The Glenlivet Cellar Collection 1964, a rare vintage malt aged in sherry casks and oak barrels. The Glenlivet range also includes category leader The Glenlivet 12-year-old, 18-year-old, 12-year-old French Oak Finish, Archive (21-year-old) and Cellar Collection vintages 1983, 1959 and 1967.

Another lord of the Speyside is Glenfiddich, the best-selling single malt Scotch in the world. The Glenfiddich range of single malts took another leap forward with the release of Glenfiddich Solera Reserve, which is aged 15 years by a system modeled after Spanish soleras.

The range of Glenfiddich also includes the 12-year-old Ancient Reserve 18-year-old a 30-year old and a 40-Year Old. The Glenfiddich Rare Collection 1937 ranks among the most expensive malts in the world. It was drawn from cask #843 that was filled and laid down in the summer of 1937. A mere 61 bottles were made available with a price tag of $14,000, or $551 per ounce.

The Speyside district of the Scottish Highlands is also the home of The Balvenie Distillery. Their flagship is The Balvenie Portwood 21-Year-Old, a whisky double barreled, first in traditional oak and then 30-year-old, oak port pipes. The wine influences every aspect of the whisky.

After 180 years in the business, The Macallan has the deepest whisky reserves in all of Scotland and a colossal range that includes 38 distinctive bottlings of 26 different vintages. Their famed sherry oak single malts are bottled at 12 years, 18 years (vintage 1986), 25 years and 30 years.

Importer Remy Amerique and the distillery recently launched The Macallan Cask Strength Single Malt, a full-bodied malt bottled at a mouth-tingling 116.4 proof. A splash of spring water brings out waves of fruity, smoky flavors.

Another recent addition is The Macallan Fine Oak, whiskeys made from a decidedly lighter blend of malts. The Macallan house style is easily discernable, a result of introducing American oak whiskies to the mix. The Fine Oak Macallans are bottled at 12 years, 15 years and 21 years.

The malts of Aberlour have made it a franchise in the Speyside since 1826. The distiller's range includes a 10-year-old and 15-year-old, both of which are aged in bourbon and sherry casks. Importer Pernod Ricard has also introduced an 86 proof, 1990 vintage single malt.

The Glendronach distillery is a traditional distillery, one that dries its own malt, uses wooden fermenting tuns and heats its stills with coal fires. Imported by Allied Domecq, The Glendronach is renowned for two distinctly different types of malts--those that are aged in oak barrels and those that are matured sherry casks.

A complex and sophisticated whisky, The Glendronach Single Highland Malt is matured a minimum of 15 years entirely in first fill sherry casks. For those with a thirst for a malt with even more of a pronounced sherry palate, the distillery has released The Glendronach Vintage 1968, a single malt whisky rested for no less than 25 years is sherry wood.

A fixture in the Highlands since 1843, The Glenmorangie Distillery produces nothing but single malt whisky. The distillery markets bottlings of 10 years, 15 years, 18 years and 21 years.

Of equal stature is the distillery's incomparable stable of wood finished malts. The first of these 12-year-old malts introduced were The Glenmorangie Port Wood Finish, Malmsey Madeira Wood Finish and Oloroso SherryWood Finish. They were followed by Growth Claret Wood Finish, which is finished in Bordeaux first growth chateaux barrels Cote Dd Nuits Wood Finish, a 1975 vintage malt finished in Cote de Nuits burgundy barrels Fino Sherry Wood Finish and the latest entry, Burgundy Wood Finish.

Imported by Jim Beam Brands, The Dalmore range of single malts includes the 12-year-old and 21-year-old.

Grabbing much of the critical acclaim though are Stillman's Dram, a limited-edition, 30-year-old malt aged entirely in Oloroso sherry casks, and The Dalmore Cigar Malt, an award-winning spirit with more sherry character than can be found in their other single malts. In 2004, the distillery released the ultra-premium Gonzalez 1973 Sherry Cask Finish. The 1,200 available bottles carry a price tag of $250 each.

Imported by Skyy Spirits, The Glenrothes Speyside Single Malt are rare vintage-dated malts embodying the nobility long associated with the Speyside. Almost 90% of the whisky's constituent elements were aged no less than 15 years in American oak bourbon barrels, the rest having been aged in sherry wood. Currently the vintages available are 1979, 1989, and 1992.

The Glenfarclas Distillery is among the last of the privately owned distilleries. The distillery ages most its highly sought-after whiskies in Oloroso sherry casks. Their line of malt whiskies, imported by Sazerac, also includes the Glenfarclas 17-year, 21-year and 25-year-old single malts. The Glenfarclas 1968 Vintage Malt was matured for over 36 malts and roe years in sherry wood.

Most singular of the range is the 10-year-old Glenfarclas Cask 105, which the distillery has produced since the 1950s. Bottled at 120 proof, it is the strongest single malt issued by any Scotch distillery.

Malts made in the Lowlands of Scotland are often overshadowed by those from the Highlands. It's an unfortunate oversight by some, as Lowland malts are soft, light and fruity, largely due to the region's propensity for triple distilling.

The best-known distiller of the Lowland malts is Auchentoshan, imported by White Rock Distilleries, whose range includes a 10-year-old (80 proof) and 21-year-old (86 proof). The distillery has added Auchentoshan Three Wood Lowland Single Malt, a distinctively flavorful, triple-distilled malt finished in three different types of oak casks--used American bourbon barrels, Oloroso sherry butts and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks.

Also hailing from the south of Scotland is the Glenkinchie 10-Year Old Single Lowland Malt. The 86 proof whisky is popular as a before-dinner dram and is at the heart of the Pinch 15-year-old blend, primarily because of its light to medium body, and slightly sweet flavor.

Located on a peninsula near the island of Islay, Campbeltown was once considered Scotland's whisky capital. Where once more than 30 distilleries flourished,

Springbank and Glen Scotia are the last remaining entities. Springbank is the oldest, family-owned distillery in Scotland. The principals are fiercely independent, insisting on making their whisky in the same manner as they have for a 150 years. The family is involved in every stage of production, from the cutting of peat to final bottling, and feature a range of handcrafted triple-distilled malts.

There is no more dramatic and ultimately memorable road to travel than that leading to the highly rated malts of the Scottish islands. Highland Park, made on the island of Orkney, has the distinction of being the northernmost in the world. The microclimate of the isolated and wind-swept island is dominated by the North Sea and North Atlantic.

Highland Park, from Remy Amerique, recently released two limited-quantity single malts, each aged for more than a generation in used Oloroso sherry oak casks. Highland Park 18-Year is lightly peated and distinctively flavorful. The 25-year-old Highland Park is an unfiltered, cask strength (107 proof) single malt..

Orkney Island is also home to the Scapa Distillery. The Scapa 12-Year, from Allied Domecq, is made from unpeated barley malt and spring water. The whisky is aged in American oak barrels and bottled at 80 proof.

The Isle of Jura is in the Inner Hebrides off the eastern coast of Scotland. For 300 years, the island's lone distillery has produced a malt using mountain water and lightly peated malt. Imported by Heaven Hill Distilleries, the Isle of Jura range includes 10-year-old and recently released 16-year-old malt. Both are imbued with aromas of brine and malt. The distillery's most daring expression is Isle of Jura Superstition, a marriage between robust, peaty whiskies and traditionally finished malts.

The Isle of Skye is the home of famed Talisker, a smoky, character-rich single malt aged a minimum 10 years. Talisker provides the backbone of the Johnnie Walker Red Label blend.

Of the Scottish islands, the malts distilled on Islay are most renowned. Laphroaig enjoys international celebrity because of its powerful, exuberant flavor. While not for the faint of heart, Laphroaig malts offer aficionados a rare and singular taste experience. The distillery's range includes the acclaimed 10-year-old, a vigorous malt full of salt and smoke, 15-year, 30-year and 40-year-old malts.

The Ardbeg distillery is one of the oldest, smallest distilleries in Scotland. Ardbeg, from Brown-Forman, is a bold and robust whisky with the distinction of being the most heavily peated single malt. It is aged for 10 years in seasoned American oak casks and bottled at 92 proof.

Other residents of Islay are Bowmore, an esteemed producer with a broad range of bottlings, including a series of vintage-dated malts, and Lagavulin, whose highly rated 16-year-old single malt is an island classic.

What does the future look like for the 87 whisky distilleries in Scotland? The brand managers polled all thought the top-end of the category would continue its steady and at times rapid growth in this country.

Diageo's Nichols bases his optimism on three significant trends. "A growing number of men and women aged 25-34 are discovering the as a substantial alternative to white spirits. Malts are innovative and popularly attractive products. It all spells growth for the category."

Kass, of Heaven Hill, thinks that the growing interest in single malts bodes well for the entire premium end of the category. "I think the continued strength of the high-margin, high-visibility malts will also bring about a resurgence of blended and vatted bottlings."

It's clear that we'll see more singular cask finishings, more reserve and vintage releases, with an increasing number of rarer whiskies entering the marketplace in the next several years. All of which should only serve to throw more peat on the fire.

To help spur demand for Scotch, master blenders and distillers have been anything but complacent. Instead they're continually looking to raise the bar and tinker on what's been offered in the past. Sterling examples of this can be found throughout the large, but often-overlooked sector of blended Scotch. By their nature, these whiskies are artistic endeavors, the combination of dozens of spirits varying in ages and compositions, all produced by a number of distilleries. The rarefied skill necessary to meld these constituent whiskies into a unified, cohesive spirit is a talent so refined that only a handful of individuals lay claim to the title of master blender.

These are certainly the best of times for devotees of exceptional whisky. The biggest names in blended Scotch have line extensions that will be hard to improve upon.

* Ballantines's 30-Year Whisky--Winner of double gold medals at the 2004 World Spirits Competition, the blend is highly aromatic with a complex palate and lingering sherry and honey finish.

* Chivas Century of Malts--The Chivas Century of Malts is a blend of distinctive single malt whiskies produced from the 100 distilleries throughout Scotland. It represents the best of every appellation.

* Chivas Regal Royal Salute--Introduced in 1891 by James Chivas, the Chivas Regal blend was an immediate international best-seller. Royal Salute was released in 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. The youngest whisky used in its blend is 21 years old.

* Dewar's 12-Year Old Special Reserve--Dewar's has long the best-selling Scotch whisky in America. Special Reserve is a blend of individually aged 12-year old single malt whiskies from the different regions of Scotland. After blending, the whisky is further mature in oak barrels to allow the blend to "marry."

* J & B Ultima--Ultima by Justerini & Brooks is a blend comprised of 128 Scotch whiskies 116 of them are single malts, with more than a quarter coming from rare, vintage reserves of distilleries no longer in operation. The constituent whiskies range in age from 8 to 20 years.

* Johnnie Walker Blue Label--Considered the flagship of the Johnnie Walker line, Blue Label is blended around a core of Cardhu single malt whiskies, some having been aged in sherry oak for up to 60-years.

* Johnnie Walker Gold Label--This blend is made according to a 1920 recipe created for the company's 100th anniversary. It contains 15 different 18-year-old single malt whiskies. The brand is a relative bargain priced in the $80s.

* Johnnie Walker Green Label--A dramatic break from convention, Johnnie Walker's latest release is an assemblage of exemplary single malts to create the signature house style. It's a classy marriage of flavors from around the Scottish Realm. Aged over 15 years, this vatted masterpiece will be a player for generations.


Cigar Aficionado

These generous whiskies, with their individual flavours, do recall the world of hills and glens, of raging elements, of shelter, of divine ease. The perfect moment for their reception is after arduous bodily stress--or mental stress if the body be sound. The essential oils that wind in the glass then uncurl their long fingers in lingering benediction and the nobler works of creation are made manifest. At such a moment, the basest man would bless his enemy. --Whisky and Scotland, by Neil M. Gunn, 1935.

Mr. Gunn, a Highland Scot, was referring to single-malt Scotch whiskies, the individual products of copper pot stills with the ability to arouse passion and acts of pilgrimage from whisky drinkers around the world. * But all revelry aside, it can, nevertheless, be a bamboozling experience these days to enter a reputable whisky shop or well-stocked bar, and encounter the plethora of tongue-twisting Scotch brands created by more than 100 distilleries. My local pub in Portland, Oregon, displays more than 60 single malts along its back bar, each one with a story to tell and a place to discover. At one end of the bar is a handful of gentle Lowland malts: soft, floral whiskies that reflect the rolling hills and fertile farmland of their birth and maturation. Emphatically anchoring the other end is the robust family of Islay whiskies. Uncorked, these island malts release a peat reek, salt spray and perhaps a hint of bagpipes, carrying the drinker back to the windswept speck of Hebridean land. * The rest of Scotland lies between these two extremes: brine and sea loch flavors from island whiskies, smoke and spice from distilleries on the edges of the country. In the center of this spirituous row are the heartland malts--the Speysiders. Kissed by sherry and Bourbon oak casks, nestled by the banks of whisky rivers and bounded by mountain and sea, Speyside malts comprise an aristocratic majority of Scotland's whiskies. The whole culture of whisky permeates the landscape and people of this region, creating complex, round malts of aromatic, fruity sweetness. * Nearly 90 single-malt distilleries are currently producing whisky in Scotland, most of it available as a bottled single malt. (Around 30 additional distilleries are closed, either demolished or "silent"--presently inactive, but often capable of resuming production Their malt whiskies can be found in limited bottlings.) In the past few years, an increasing number of distilleries have introduced a range of bottlings, usually in a variety of ages, and more recently with different alcohol strengths, vintages and wood "finishes." In addition to these distillery bottlings, independent merchant bottlers offer a liquid treasure trove of often rare, limited malt whiskies under their own company labels.

In every bottle of malt whisky rests the spirit of a place. Each one is unique and often has its own band of faithful admirers. Yet, whenever a group of whisky drinkers gather, it seems that certain distilleries dominate the discussion, rising to the top by merit more than by the marketing wiles.

If there are classic single-malt distilleries that consistently produce great whiskies, a sensible place to begin a search may be the blending rooms of the Scotch whisky companies. It has been the international success of blended Scotches--the likes of The Famous Grouse, Johnnie Walker and Chivas Regal--that has kept the diverse family of single malts in existence for more than 100 years.

A blended Scotch can include up to 40 individual single malts and two or three grain whiskies, married together to create a unified, whole spirit. Typically, a blend will include several "core" malts in the recipe, whiskies that marry well with the other whiskies, and add character and sophistication to the blend. Most of these core, or component, malts are outstanding whiskies in their own right, sought after by the blending companies that pay a premium price for their unique character. Top class, first class, top dogs and crack drams are some of the descriptors used for these great producing distilleries. (A dram is a measure of whisky in Scotland, the quantity often determined by the sobriety or generosity of the dram giver.)

When I asked one worthy whisky maker why some distilleries have a heritage of creating great whisky, he replied: "Och, it's all in the genes." There may be a wee bit more to it than genetics, so let's take a brief look at how the cratur is made. A single malt, very simply, is the product of an individual distillery in Scotland. It is made from a sugary liquid extract of 100 percent malted barley that is fermented by yeast and double distilled in small batches in copper pot stills. The new spirit then matures in oak casks before bottling. The characteristics that shape a single-malt whisky are derived from its ingredients (water, malted barley and yeast), production methods and maturation.

Of the many scientific, mystical and genetic factors that are responsible for the character of a single malt, the oak cask is perhaps the most important. It can account for as much as 60 percent of the whisky's flavor and ultimate character. Each oak cask used to mature Scotch whisky imprints its personality on the spirit. Identical new-make spirit--the white spirit that's been distilled but not yet aged--made in the same distilling season at one distillery can have quite different characteristics as a mature spirit, depending on the cask.

A distillery that embarks on a high-quality, oak-cask program for its single malts may not be genetically well endowed, but it can end up with great whisky. This is what makes the exploration of single malts such a lifelong pleasure for the whisky drinker, and the decision to exclude certain distilleries from a top-class list so difficult.

A number of the top-class malts reviewed in this article may not be widely available as distillery bottlings. It is thanks to independent merchant bottlers such as Gordon & MacPhail in the Speyside town of Elgin and Cadenhead's of Campbeltown that we can enjoy these rare treats. These two companies have traditionally bought "fillings" of new-make spirit from individual distilleries, supplied their own casks to mature the whisky, and bottled it in a variety of ages in limited quantities. Their retail shops--Gordon & MacPhail in Elgin Cadenhead's in Edinburgh, London and Campbeltown--are places of pilgrimage for the serious whisky drinker. Of the other independent bottlers that have started up in the past 10 years or so, Adelphi and Signatory have established a reputation of quality.

Not every occasion or mood calls for a complex malt whisky like the ones we'll discuss on our top-class journey. If you seek an everyday, all-purpose whisky, a restorative dram at the end of a hectic day, or prefer a lighter, less complex spirit before dinner, these are that scores of single malts may be better suited to the task.

SPEYSIDES
The culture of whisky approaches perfection in the Speyside region of northeast Scotland. More than half of the country's single-malt distilleries are located here, by the banks of river systems that course down, northwards, from the great massif of the Grampian Hills to their estuaries on the Moray Firth. The principal whisky river is the Spey, the second longest and the fastest flowing in Scotland. With more than 60 of Scotland's single-malt distilleries located in the region, Speyside whiskies cover a broad spectrum of flavor characteristics. Speysides range from light, delicate and flowery to rich, full, fruity and robust. They are the most versatile of all the regions a Speyside malt can be found to suit all whisky palates.

Macallan (Founded 1824)
The noble Macallan Distillery overlooks a glorious sweep of Strathspey and the village of Craigellachie across the River Spey. The distillery is both innovative and traditional, and has dedicated itself to a sophisticated pursuit of quality in regard to ingredients, production and maturation. The distillery has been using the Golden Promise variety of barley since the 1960s. Macallan believes that the barley, in conjunction with the fermentation and pot stills, gives its whisky a fruity, estery balance and longevity.

The direct, gas-fired stills are among the smallest in Scotland. The distillate that ends up in the casks (the heart of the run) is a remarkably small fraction of the whole distillate compared to other distilleries, about 15 to 17 percent. First- and second-fill Spanish oak casks, seasoned with oloroso sherry, are used exclusively for maturation of the whisky.
Recommended bottlingsMacallan 12, 18 and 25 year old, Gran Reserva--18-year-old Macallan matured in first-fill sherry casks, recently available in the United States (all distillery bottlings).
Tasting notes Macallan 12 and 18 year old 86 proof. The 12 year old has a full and smooth body rich, honey-sweet and sherry nose rich, full, sweet and nutty palate warm, round and lingering. The Macallan 18 has all the qualities of the 12, with more richness, oak, spice and nuts. Regarded by many single-malt connoisseurs as the finest whisky in this, or any, style.

Glenfarclas (Founded 1836)
Situated on the south side of the River Spey, Glenfarclas sits in an exposed patch of farmland in the shadow of the bare, often snow-blanketed Ben Rinnes mountain. Still an independent distillery and run by the Grant family for five generations, Glenfarclas (or "Glenfirstclass" if you work there) produces a delicious range of rich, flavorful drams with a healthy dose of sherry character. The name, translated from Scottish Gaelic, means "glen (valley) of the green grassland." Glenfarclas has the largest stills on Speyside, gas-fired, and uses soft, cold, snow-melted water from a spring that rises in the heart of Ben Rinnes. Her single malts have a large percentage of Spanish oak in them.
Recommended bottlingsThe complete range of distillery bottlings, from the 10 to the 30 year old. The 17 year old is a personal favorite.
Tasting notesGlenfarclas 12 year old 86 proof. Medium- to full-bodied amber colored rich, full sherry nose palate is a delightful balance of sherry depth, malty sweetness and subtle peat smoke, with a teasing lick of Highland fire finish is lingering and sweetly full. Glenfarclas is a classic Speyside and Highland malt, and one of Scotland's most versatile whiskies in her youth.

Longmorn (Founded 1894)
For many years, until it was mercifully introduced as one of the Seagram Co.'s Heritage Selection malts, Longmorn had been regarded as one of Scotch whisky's best-kept secrets. Blenders seek out Longmorn to use as a "top dressing" in their finest blends. The wash stills, which are used for the first distillation, are among the widest and lowest of all the whisky distilleries. (The heaviness of Longmorn is shared by Strathisla, its sister distillery and partner in the Heritage Selection. Located in the nearby town of Keith, the picturesque Strathisla is the oldest Highland distillery, founded in 1786.)
Recommended bottlingsLongmorn 15 year old (distillery bottling). Gordon & MacPhail Longmorn-Glenlivet 12 year old.
Tasting notesLongmorn 15 year old 90 proof (distillery bottling). Medium- to full-bodied floral, full, fragrant aroma with some oil clean, malty palate, smooth and round, flowery and rich malty sweet lingering finish, clean with notes of nuts and sherry. A rich, deep, true-to-the-region Speysider.

Linkwood (Founded 1825)
Not far from Longmorn, Linkwood Distillery has shared her neighbor's predilection for secrecy over the years. The distillery is nestled in a tranquil natural setting, next door to sturdy, ancient farm buildings. A well-tended flower garden fronts the still house, and a pair of swans occupy the distillery pond just above. Opening a bottle of Linkwood is like unleashing a spring breeze. The aroma is flowery, clean and delicate. The body is surprisingly full, with malty sweetness and a hint of smoke. A versatile and elegant dram, Linkwood can be sipped for hours.
Recommended bottlingsLinkwood 12 year old Flora & Fauna limited bottling series from United Distillers. Gordon & MacPhail Linkwood 15 and 21 year old.

Aberlour (Founded 1879)
The Speyside community of Charlestown of Aberlour (pronounced Abber-lour, as in hour) is one of the prettiest villages in Scotland. Aberlour Distillery, producer of one of those archetypal Speyside fireside and after-dinner whiskies, anchors the west end of the village. The current distillery was founded by James Fleming in 1879, on the site of an older distillery with origins in 1826. The distillery's output demonstrates the judicious marrying of whiskies from Bourbon and sherry casks. In the midst of the distillery grounds is Saint Drostan's (Dunstan's) Well. It's tapped now, but in the seventh century, as legend and public relations would have it, it was used by Dunstan for baptismal ceremonies.
Recommended bottlingsAberlour 10, 15 and 18 year old (all distillery bottlings).
Tasting notesAberlour 10 year old 86 proof (distillery bottling). Medium-bodied amber color almonds, honey and sweetness in the nose rich sherry and malty sweet flavors and yet there is a lightness to the palate round, clean and smooth, with a gentle, sherry-sweet finish.

Mortlach (Founded 1823)
Dufftown (pop. 1,700), is the self-proclaimed whisky "capital" of Scotland. "Rome was built on seven hills Dufftown stands on seven stills," is how the saying goes. The first legal distillery to be established in the town was Mortlach (pronounced Mort-lach, the "ch" with a guttural sound, as in loch), producer of a heavenly, heavy Speyside dram. The meaty whisky is a great favorite with the blenders--Mortlach is an excellent marrier.

New-make Mortlach is one of the heaviest spirits in Speyside. When mature, the robust whisky displays the classic Speyside attributes of fruit, malt, light smoke and sherry, in a perfect balance of depth, roundness and complexity.
Recommended bottlingsMortlach 16 year old Flora and Fauna limited bottling series from United Distillers. Gordon & MacPhail Mortlach 15 and 21 year old.

Glenfiddich (Founded 1887)
The most famous stills in this heady whisky district are the coal-fired ones of Glenfiddich, established by William Grant. The Grant family, in its fifth generation, is still involved with the company, which has established Glenfiddich as the world's best-selling single malt. The Grants began the mass marketing of Glenfiddich in 1963, the first company to do so on such a scale with a single malt. A raising of the whisky glass is due to this pioneering family, filled preferably with the 15- or 18-year bottlings, soft yet complex reflections of the distillery's pedigree.

Balvenie (Founded 1892)
The Grants also own Balvenie Distillery next door, named after nearby Balvenie (pronounced Bal-VEN-ee) Castle, a substantial thirteenth-century ruin. Balvenie's single malts are a delicious counterpart to Glenfiddich, with rich, sherry characteristics and after-dinner qualities.

Balvenie Distillery, which is independently operated, retains its traditional floor maltings and has its own farmlands, where part of the barley used in the maltings is grown. An on-site cooperage repairs the casks and a coppersmith tends the stills. Its nine stills are taller than those at Glenfiddich, producing a heavier, fuller spirit.
Recommended bottlingsBalvenie Founder's Reserve 10 year old, Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year old, Balvenie PortWood 21 year old (all distillery bottlings).
Tasting notesBalvenie DoubleWood 12 year old 86 proof (distillery bottling). Medium- to full-bodied, rich, clean whisky amber color malty and sherry sweet in the soft nose smooth, sweet and mellow palate with nuts, fruit and spices lingering finish, warming with chocolate and some smoke. The DoubleWood spends most of its life in traditional Bourbon casks and is then transferred to finish the maturation in sherry casks.

Glenrothes (Founded 1879)
The hardworking whisky town of Rothes (pop. 1,400) is home to five distilleries, including Glenrothes, Glen Grant and Speyburn. Glenrothes (pronounced Glen-ROTH-ess) is another malt that is difficult to find but well worth the discovery. There's a cooperage for repairing casks on site, and about half the malt used comes from the Saladin maltings at Tamdhu, Glenrothes's sister distillery in Speyside. Glenrothes is prized for its marrying qualities and is closely associated with the Cutty Sark blend. The stills produce a new-make spirit packed with fruit and feints--the final fraction of the second distillation, which has a heavier, oilier character--ideal for blending and aging. The rare distillery bottlings from Glenrothes are the result of selected casks from a particular vintage or year of distillation. Glenrothes vintages tend to have lots of fruit, a hint of smoke and sherry, sweetness, and full, round flavors.
Recommended bottlingsGlenrothes 1979 Vintage, Glenrothes 1982 Vintage.

Cragganmore (Founded 1869)
Hidden at the confluence of the rivers Spey and Avon is the distillery of Cragganmore. The distillery stands on the grounds of Ballindalloch Castle Estate, residence of the Macpherson-Grant family since 1546 and home to the oldest herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle in the world. Cragganmore is one of Speyside's smaller distilleries and has two of Scotland's most unusual stills: each spirit still has an L-shaped flat-topped head. Thus, some of the heavier, oily compounds in the vapors that rise from the pot condense at the head and fall back to be recondensed. The result is a cleaner, lighter spirit.
Recommended bottlingsCragganmore 12 year old (distillery bottling).
Tasting notesCragganmore 12 80 proof (distillery bottling). Medium-bodied, smooth and firm rich, dryish and complex nose, fragrant and flowery with background notes of grass and smoke a clean, round, malty and well-balanced palate and a lingering malt and soft smoke afterglow. A serious and cerebral whisky from a much respected distillery.

Glendronach (Founded 1826)
Glendronach, which means "valley of the brambles (blackberries)" in Scottish Gaelic, is tucked away in gentle northeast Scotland terrain. Her spirit reflects the earthy traditions of Aberdeenshire more so than the Highland glens of Moray and Strathspey. Glendronach (pronounced Glen-DRON-ach) is one of Scotland's bonniest, most traditional distilleries, offering the visitor a chance to see a rare floor maltings (a process in which presoaked barley is spread on a floor, where it begins its conversion from starch to sugar) and kiln, in addition to traditional coal-fired distillation when Glendronach is producing. The distillery is currently silent. The gleaming pot stills are coal-fired, a method used by just a handful of distilleries today. The new-make spirit is poured into Spanish oak casks that have previously been host to oloroso sherry.
Recommended bottlingsGlendronach 15 year old (distillery bottling).
Tasting notesGlendronach 15 year old 86 proof (distillery bottling). The malt has a deep and rich sherry character that, combined with oak and Highland depth, places it emphatically in the after-dinner category.

Glenlivet (Founded 1824)
The glen of the River Livet is the most notorious whisky district in Scotland. Flanked by the Cromdale Hills and the Ladder Hills, with access to passes over the Cairngorms to the south, this remote high country was perfect for distilling illicit whisky. In the early 1800s, 200 illicit stills were said to be operating in the glen. The Glenlivet Distillery, the "father of all Scotch," is anchored on a limestone shelf in the austere heart of it all. Its founder, a doughty Highlander named George Smith, was the first distiller in the area to apply for a legal distillery license, in 1824.
Recommended bottlingsGlenlivet 12 and 18 year old (distillery bottlings). The distillery has also recently introduced a series of vintage Glenlivet bottlings that includes five single malts distilled in 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1972. Limited to a few thousand bottles from each year, the collection is interesting not only for the extended ages of the whiskies (between 26 and 31 years), but also for the opportunity to compare subtle differences--flavors such as fruit, nuts and spice are more or less evident in each bottling--that can be tasted in the spirits from year to year.
Tasting notesGlenlivet 18 year old 104 to 112 proof (distillery bottling). The flavors in the older Glenlivet have developed more depth and richness than the standard 12-year-old bottling. The body is firm and smooth, the nose has sherry sweetness and floral aromas the palate is sweet, with nuts and peaches the finish is lingering and sweet. The 18 blossoms with Speyside character and depth.
Other recommendationsSpeyside distilleries with widespread distribution--Cardhu, Singleton of Auchroisk, Knockando, Speyburn, Glen Grant (older bottlings), Tomintoul, Tamnavulin, Tamdhu. Speyside distilleries with limited bottlings and distribution-- Aultmore, Glen Elgin, Glendullan, Ardmore, Balmenach, Glenburgie, Ben Rinnes.

ISLAYS
With a population of about 4,000 and eight distilleries, Islay is Scotland's preeminent whisky island and the most southerly of the Hebrides, measuring 20 miles east to west and 25 miles north to south. Most of Islay's malts are noted for their peat-reek, heavy, full and robust qualities. Islay's pungent, complex whiskies have long been popular with the blenders for these characteristics.

The peat reek--a Scottish word for smell--is a defining, important characteristic in certain, usually island, malt whiskies. The character is created during the malting of the barley. Peat is acidic, decayed vegetation made up of bog plants such as sphagnum moss, heather, sedges and grasses. In the malt kiln, the "green" malt is spread on a perforated floor above the furnace and exposed to burning peat smoke in varying degrees for up to 20 hours.

The amount of peating is measured by the concentration of acidic organic compounds called phenols that are found in the peat smoke. Most Speyside malts, for example, will have one to five parts per million phenols in them. Laphroaig, near the other end of the reek spectrum, has a formidable 35 ppm phenols.The higher the concentration of phenols, the smokier the spirit.

Lagavulin (Founded 1816)
Lagavulin Distillery is nestled into a small, rocky bay on the more sheltered southeast coast of Islay. The name Lagavulin (pronounced Lag-a-VOO-lin), is derived from the Scottish Gaelic, laggan mhouillin, which means "mill in the little dell." By the 1740s, the site was better known for the stills in the dell, with about 10 smuggler's bothies (huts) puffing away, making it one of Scotland's oldest whisky production locations. Lagavulin's malted barley, kilned in nearby Port Ellen, has 35 to 40 ppm phenols.
Recommended bottling Lagavulin 16 years old (distillery bottling).
Tasting notesLagavulin 16 year old 86 proof (distillery bottling). Full-bodied and rich the nose is pungent with peat smoke, salt and some sweetness in the background. The sea and the sweetness make their appearances in the smooth taste, too, but the robust, dry flavor of peat dominates this sophisticated whisky a gentle bite introduces the smoky finish, an afterglow of peat warms the soul.

Bowmore (Founded 1779)
The harbor village of Bowmore (pronounced BOH-more), population 1,000, was built in the 1760s and is the island's commercial and social center. Few distilleries are as architecturally integrated with a community as the whitewashed buildings of Bowmore, Islay's first legal distillery. The distillery tour is especially worthwhile visitors can watch traditional floor malting, which accounts for about 40 percent of the malted barley in the whisky. The kilning at Bowmore results in a medium-peated malt of around 20 ppm.
Recommended bottlingBowmore 17, 21 and 25 year old (distillery bottlings). My favorite is the 17 year old.
Tasting notesBowmore 17 year old 86 proof (distillery bottling). Heavier and more robust than the younger Bowmores, which have a citrus note to them, the 17 displays Bowmore's peaty character emphatically and harmoniously throughout, yet it does not overwhelm the whisky's underlying sweetness. There's vanilla and chocolate in the nose and a warming, smoky glow from start to finish.

Laphroaig (founded circa 1820s)
The name Laphroaig (pronounced La-FROYG) is taken from the bay around which the distillery was built. Whitewashed buildings skirt the shoreline, the sea lapping a warehouse wall at high tide. Laphroaig Distillery presents an opportunity to explore unchanged whisky buildings, to view traditional floor malting, and to smell the peat reek firsthand, which is formidable. Thirty percent of the malted barley in Laphroaig is made at the distillery, resulting in a pungent dram of around 35 ppm phenols.
Recommended bottlingLaphroaig 10 and 15 year old, Laphroaig Cask Strength (all distillery bottlings).
Tasting notesLaphroaig 10 year old 80 to 86 proof (distillery bottling). Straight 10-year-old Laphroaig is an outdoor malt, to be sipped from a flask as an antidote to hellish, or just Scottish, weather. A splash of spring water mellows the whisky. It has a long and balanced aroma of seaweed, phenols, peat, heather smoke and vanilla notes the palate is a complex melody of peat, salt, iodine, oil and oak the finish is round, dry, warming and lingering. The 15-year-old Laphroaig is a quintessential, complete Islay whisky.

Ardbeg (Founded 1815)
Whisky drinkers can rejoice now that Ardbeg, one of Scotland's truly great drams, is producing once more. The distillery was bought by Glenmorangie in early 1997 and the stills were singing their pungent sea chanteys by the summer of that year. The bottlings from the new owners should reach the United States in early 1999. Bottlings of Ardbeg from the previous owner and independent bottlers can still be found and they are worth tracking down.

Ardbeg is perhaps the island's most magical distillery site: an ancient, stone-slab pier reaches into a bay dotted with craggy rocks swans, otters and seals swim by and the sea's aroma is everywhere. When Ardbeg's maltings were operating, the whisky had a formidable 53 ppms phenols from the local peat. Yet it does not overwhelm the heaviness and depth of the whisky. When Ardbeg is sipped from a good bottling, brine and smoke envelop you like a damp sea fog.
Other RecommendationsIslay distillery with widespread distribution-- Bunnahabhain (Boon-a-HA-ven). Islay distilleries with limited bottlings and distribution--Caol Ila (Cull-eela) Port Ellen (closed).

HIGHLANDS
The Highland region comprises single-malt distilleries to the north of the Highland Fault, or Line, a geological boundary that stretches from Greenock, a town northwest of Glasgow, to the city of Dundee on Scotland's east coast. Highland includes the spirituous Speyside region, as well as various subregions that contain an additional 30 or so Highland malts. These distilleries are scattered in diverse locations and landscapes, from the moorlands of the Monadhliaths to the Perthshire glens and along the eastern coastlines and firths. The characteristics of the whiskies are just as diverse, and it is difficult to pinpoint a shared regional style for such a widespread area. Most have a firm, malty body.

Highland Park (Founded 1798)
About 70 islands and islets make up the fertile, timeless Orkney Islands, 17 of them inhabited. The island capital, Kirkwall, is the biggest Orkney town, and the Highland Park distillery is located on its southern outskirts. Highland Park is a gem of a traditional distillery and an object lesson in how to integrate whisky making into a local culture. Scotland's northernmost distillery, her old, clustered stone buildings and slate roofs seem permanently and organically rooted in the townscape. Highland Park malts 20 percent of its own barley on five traditional malting floors, using Orkney peat for the purpose. The phenol content for this malted barley is 8 ppm, and it is supplemented with unpeated malt from mainland Scotland.
Recommended bottling Highland Park 12, 18 and 25 year old (all distillery bottlings).
Tasting notesHighland Park 12 year old 86 proof (distillery bottling). Medium-bodied peat smoke and heather honey in the nose malty sweet, fresh, smoky and round in the palate with plenty of depth honey finish. One of the most versatile single malts.

Clynelish (Founded 1819)
Clynelish Distillery enjoys a view of the glorious northern Highland coastal landscape. Clynelish (pronounced Kline-LEESH) occupies a narrow, coastal strip of farmland and whitewashed crofts, just outside the small coastal town of Brora--the renowned Royal Dornoch golf course is a short drive to the south. Because of its reputation with the blenders, it can be a very difficult malt to find. The distillery bottles a delicious, complex 14 year old as part of United Distillers' Flora & Fauna series. The malt is lingering, full-bodied medley of fruit, sherry, brine and smoke, with seven ppm phenols in the barley.

Oban (Founded 1794)
The bustling town of Oban (pronounced Oh-bin), a business and tourist center, is the capital of the western Highland. Oban Distillery, one of Scotland's smallest, is so well integrated to the townscape that a casual visitor may be unaware that whisky is being created just yards away. The distillery celebrated 200 years of production in 1994, making it one of Scotland's oldest continuously operating distilleries. It straddles the smooth quality of Highland malts and the heavy, smokey character of the Orkney Islands.
Recommended bottling Oban 14 year old (distillery bottling).
Tasting notesOban 14 year old 86 proof (distillery bottling). Medium-bodied, smooth and rich fragrant, sweet nose with a whiff of smoke round, warming palate, malty, with delicate peaty undertones long, fruity and smooth finish, and an afterglow like a Western Highland twilight.

Talisker (Founded 1830)
The Isle of Skye, the largest island in the Inner Hebrides, captures the spirit of Gaelic culture and Highland beauty more than any other island. The sea is the island's lifeblood. Nestled on the seaweed-tangled shore of one remote western sea loch is Talisker, Skye's only distillery. A single-track road alongside Loch Harport leads to Talisker, within site of the majestic Black Cuillin hills and passing through a windswept landscape. Given this setting, it is perhaps not surprising that Talisker displays a "marine" character.
Recommended bottlingTalisker 10 year old (distillery bottling)
Tasting notesTalisker 10 year old 91.6 proof (distillery bottling). Full-bodied a slightly sweet, phenolic and sea-loch aroma full, pungent, peppery flavor explodes on the palate a profoundly Gaelic finish and afterglow. A turbulent dram, yet well balanced.

Glenmorangie (Founded 1843)
Glenmorangie Distillery is located in the northern Highland on the shores of the Dornoch Firth, a jagged arm of the North Sea. It is one of the oldest and most traditional of Highland distilleries. The name Glenmorangie (pronounced Glen-MOR-anjee) comes from the nearby Morangie Burn and means "valley of tranquillity."

One of the smallest Highland distilleries, Glenmorangie's pot stills are the tallest in the Highlands. The water is rich in minerals and quite hard, and the distillery uses American white oak casks from the Ozark Mountains for aging. Several years ago, Glenmorangie introduced a series of wood "finishes" into its aging process that offers an insight into the effects different casks have.
Recommended bottlingGlenmorangie 10 year old, Glenmorangie 12 year old sherry-wood finish, Glenmorangie 12 year old port-wood finish, Glenmorangie 18 year old (all distillery bottlings).
Tasting notesGlenmorangie 10 year old 86 proof (distillery bottling). Light- to medium-bodied a diverse and fragrant nose, with delicatefloral and grassy aromas a refreshing palate with initial dryness, fruit and soft smoke, but a lingering, sweet finish. A very approachable malt and a grand social dram.

Dalmore (Founded 1839)
Dalmore, another emphatic, sherry-kissed malt from the Easter Ross district in northern Highland, lies just down the road from Glenmorangie, by the village of Alness. The distillery overlooks Cromarty Firth and the fertile Black Isle. Dalmore has cobblestone pathways and a fascinating still house. The 12-year-old distillery bottling is a vatting (blending) of whisky from sherry casks and American white-oak and oloroso-Bourbon casks and the result is a cracker of a dram: amber-colored, fruity and complex, rich, round, sweet and spicy, with a lingering finish. Dalmore recently introduced the Dalmore Cigar Malt, a vatting of casks that originally contained 15-year-old sherry mahogany in color, full-flavored, sweet and rich.
Other recommendationsHighland distilleries with widespread distribution-- Scapa, Dalwhinnie, Royal Lochnagar, Glen Ord, Glen Garioch, old Pulteney, Glengoyne, Isle of Jura, Deanston. Highland distilleries with limited distribution--Aberfeldy,Glenturret,Edradour.

CAMPBELTOWN
The main town on the western Scotland peninsula of Kintyre is Campbeltown, a tightly knit community of 6,500, set picturesquely round Campbeltown Loch. At one time Campbeltown was the whisky capital of Scotland, with more than 30 distilleries recorded in the 1830s. Now there are two, one of which is silent. Campbeltown whisky is still known for its distinct regional style. The old Campbeltown malts were noted for their depth of flavor and peaty, briny taste and aroma. Happily, these characteristics (and some new ones) pervade the malts produced by Springbank.

Springbank (Founded 1828)
Fiercely independent, Springbank is the only distillery of its age still owned by descendants of the original owner. Springbank is a spirituous time capsule that maintains floor maltings, bottles its own whisky, adds no color and does not chill-filter its whisky, a process that filters out proteins but also removes character from the whisky, the distillery maintains. The malt is peated for about six hours in the kiln, resulting in around eight ppm phenols. Springbank is one of several Scottish distilleries that does a partial triple distillation, or a "two-and-a-half distillation," as they call it, using three stills.

The distillery bottlings include a wide range of ages and casks, all of them delightful to explore and experience. The "introductory" Springbank C.V. (Chairman's Vat) has a light floral nose, while the older bottlings--the 21 year old is highly recommended--evolve in waves through a complex melody of brine, malt sweetness, Bourbon, sherry and smoke. The 15-year-old, 92-proof bottling is medium-bodied, round and deep, with a sweet nose and palate, evolving into a briny, salty character with a hint of peat the lingering finish is a mingling of sea spray, smoke and sweetness.

The rare and formidable Longrow, also made by Springbank,is an entirely different animal: a bottle of Longrow is not opened, it is unleashed. The 16-year-old distillery bottling at 92 proof is a conflagration of flavors--oil, smoke, sherry--a robust, lingering spirit. The barley malt for Longrow is dried by peat for about 50 hours, and is double distilled.

LOWLANDS
Once a major distilling region in Scotland, the Lowland region has only two distillers that currently produce. Although eclipsed by Highland malts in number and in range of taste, Low-land whiskies have unique characteristics and subtle flavors that have endowed this region with a style of its own. Lowland malts are characterized by their light, clean floral aromas and smooth, mellow palates.

Auchentoshan (Founded 1823)
Auchentoshan (pronounced OCH-in-TOSH-in) means "corner of the field." Located northwest of Glasgow and a mile from the River Clyde, the whitewashed distillery sits precariously close to a local government-built housing development. Although a Lowland distillery, it draws its process water from Kilpatrick Hills, north of the Highland Line. The potable spirit, destined for the oak cask, is collected from the third still at a higher alcohol strength, around 81 percent alcohol by volume. This is a more refined alcohol: crisp, fresh, and lighter in body, and can mature earlier than whisky that is double distilled. Younger bottlings from the distillery are soft, light whiskies, fresh and malty sweet with citrus and spice notes--grand aperitifs. Older bottlings, in particular the recommended 21 year old, can be complex and voluptuous.
Other recommendationsLowland distilleries with limited bottlings and distribution: Rosebank (closed), Bladnoch (closed).

Stuart Maclean Ramsay is a writer based in Portland, Oregon, and editor of Dram, a quarterly dedicated to Scotch.


Spirits

Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum 1000ml

A white rum which needs very little introduction, aged between one and two years in carefully selected oak barrels. After ageing, the rums are blended and passed through a second charcoal filtration to achieve maximum clarity and signature Bacardi smoothness. Bacardi's Carta Blanca is incredibly popular around the world. Perfect for countless cocktails and mixed drinks as it doesn't dominate like gin or disappear like vodka. A rum with personality and a timeless classical flair to any occasion.

Tasting Notes

Very fresh, with zippy lemon notes to the fore and a hint of pear drops.

Pure and clean, with a pleasant citrus flavor. Very smooth no alcohol burn.

Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum 750ml

A white rum which needs very little introduction, aged between one and two years in carefully selected oak barrels. After ageing, the rums are blended and passed through a second charcoal filtration to achieve maximum clarity and signature Bacardi smoothness. Bacardi's Carta Blanca is incredibly popular around the world. Perfect for countless cocktails and mixed drinks as it doesn't dominate like gin or disappear like vodka. A rum with personality and a timeless classical flair to any occasion.

Tasting Notes

Very fresh, with zippy lemon notes to the fore and a hint of pear drops.

Pure and clean, with a pleasant citrus flavor. Very smooth no alcohol burn.

Bacardi Mojito Rum 1000ml

The Bacardi Classic Cocktail Mojito is a ready-to-serve version of the famed classic that captures the crisp, fresh lime and mint taste of the original flavour. A refreshing spirit drink, it combines the natural mint flavours, lime juice, cane sugar and Bacardi superior rum. This simple mojito is designed to be easily served over crushed ice with a mint garnish. The Bacardi Classic Cocktail Mojito lends a balanced profile and classic taste, combined with the natural flavours of mint and lime, leaves behind a lingering refreshing taste.

Created in 1862, BACARDÍ Reserva Ocho is one of the oldest private rum blends in the world. For seven generations, the BACARDÍ family enjoyed it as their personal reserve. Happily, today everyone can enjoy this golden sipping rum and create special moments together. It takes eight years for a batch of BACARDÍ Reserva Ocho to mature. But patience is rewarded by its distinctive, refined flavor with notes of prune, apricot, nutmeg and vanilla.

Balvenie Scotch Single Malt Caribbean Cask Aged 14yrs 700ML

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 year old single malt whisky has been matured in traditional oak whisky casks for 14 years, and then ‘finished’ in casks that previously held Caribbean rum. To create the ideal finish Malt Master David C. Stewart MBE filled American oak casks with his own blend of select West Indian rums. When he judged the casks to be ready, the rum was replaced with the 14 year old spirit and the wood was put to work adding the final touches.

Tasting Notes

Rich, sweet and creamy toffee on the nose combines with fresh fruit notes

Rounded with vanilla and sweet oak notes, with a fruity character that develops with time

Balvenie Scotch Single Malt DoubleWood Aged 12yrs 700ML

This 12-year-old Speyside malt is aged in American oak ex-bourbon casks before being transferred to European oak oloroso sherry casks for a 9-month finishing period, thus the apt ‘Double Wood’ name. This was 1st ever second wood finished malt, leading the trail for the many that have followed. This whisky expression was launched in 1993, and has become an iconic bottling over the years. Even at 12 years old, this rich and complex dram is an excellent example of what the Balvenie distillery can craft. A pioneer in the Double Wood method, Balvenie is waiting for you and it’s yours for the taking.

Tasting Notes

Pungent red apple skin, soft leather, faint ripe raspberry, vanilla, oloroso sherry and gentle cinnamon spiced oak. With water vanilla, biscuit and citrus zest.

Initial burst of rich nutty sherry and red apple, quickly dried with lightly cinnamon spiced and smoky oak, beautifully balanced with stewed fruit and ginger bread. With water sweet ripe apple fruit and barley sugar.

Long, dry and oaky with sweet red apple, lingering tobacco leaf, ginger and clove.

Balvenie Scotch Single Malt PortWood Aged 21yrs 700ML

To create The Balvenie PortWood 21 year old single malt whisky, a marriage of rare Balvenie is transferred to port casks, or pipes, which have held fine port wines. Here it is sampled regularly by The Balvenie Malt Master David C. Stewart MBE to ensure that just the right amount of character is imparted by the port casks, enhancing and developing the single malt whilst preserving its original characteristics. Considered by many to be David’s finest creation, this whisky is one of his proudest achievements and has won an array of highly coveted industry awards since its release in 1996.

TASTING NOTES

A perfume of fruity and ripe raisin notes, backed by a nutty dryness.

Refined with remarkable character, it is creamy and silky with fruit, honey and spice notes.

Bayou Rum was created with the aim of bringing back local rum production. The silver unaged rum is distilled in a pot still in Louisiana from local sugarcane molasses and raw sugar. Silver Bayou Rum is proofed with triple filtered fresh water delivering the cleanest and purest taste possible. From traditional cocktails, including Louisiana favorites, to your own creations, Bayou Rum delivers the heart and soul of the ultimate cocktail experience.

Bayou Rum is distilled from locally grown sugarcane in southern Louisiana, USA. Our molasses comes from the oldest family-owned and operated sugar mill in the United States. Every batch of Bayou Rum is distilled in copper pot stills, aged mostly in Bourbon casks under a solera system and bottled in house. Infused with a complex yet delicate spice blend inspired by the Creole baking traditions Louisiana is famous for. Bayou Rum is rested for up to 30 days with a special blend of creole baking spices, which imparts both flavor and an amber color.

Tasting Notes

sweet aroma of cinnamon and sweet banana

mild yet complex blend of maple, banana, allspice, clove, vanilla and pepper

full mouth complexity with lingering notes of Creole baking spice

As the name would suggest, this is the original Bombay gin, predating the now better-known Bombay Sapphire. Bombay Dry Gin is based on a recipe that traces its origins back to the middle 18th century. However, the product itself actually launched in 1960. Truly inspired by one of the oldest known English dry gin recipes, it is distilled from a base of grain and imparts the botanicals through vapor infusion. A more robust, traditional style and quite lovely too. A timeless classic to behold.

Tasting Notes

Distinctly earthy and herbal almost like a freshly-potted plant. More sips continue to highlight these aromas.

Flavorful of botanicals making appearances and taking turns before forming a solid base.

Not too oily and shows a dry finish as it should be. Classic and Savory.

Bombay Sapphire Gin 750ml

As the name would suggest, this is the original Bombay gin, predating the now better-known Bombay Sapphire. Bombay Dry Gin is based on a recipe that traces its origins back to the middle 18th century. However, the product itself actually launched in 1960. Truly inspired by one of the oldest known English dry gin recipes, it is distilled from a base of grain and imparts the botanicals through vapor infusion. A more robust, traditional style and quite lovely too. A timeless classic to behold.

Tasting Notes

Distinctly earthy and herbal almost like a freshly-potted plant. More sips continue to highlight these aromas.

Flavorful of botanicals making appearances and taking turns before forming a solid base.

Not too oily and shows a dry finish as it should be. Classic and Savory.

The Botanist Gin is a versatile mixing gin in the sense that it works well and delivers a classic gin flavor to most any cocktail. The Botanist is an artisanal Islay gin made by Bruichladdich Distillery. It is one of two gins made on Islay, and is distinctive for its 22 hand-foraged Islay botanicals that are added to nine core gin aromatics. This gin has a lot to offer as it serves as an exploration of Hebridean flora. Enjoy this London dry style with an herbal twist.

Tasting Notes

Pungent, resiny piney juniper and eucalyptus with subtle parma violet, heather, candied ginger and sage.

Dry juniper with sappy pine dominating but with an integrated herbal complexity and faint liquorice sweetness.

Junipery pine dominance continues in the clean finish with faint lingering parma violet, liquorice and black pepper.

Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2011 Single Malt Whisky 700ML

With celebrity support from none other than Harrison Ford you know they must be doing something right. Bruichladdich distillery is on the island of Islay which has been creating some of the finest Scotch Whisky available since 1881. With this release, you get the incredible opportunity of tasting an Islay grown malt that is unpeated and relies purely on the natural flavor of the barley. A real unique treat that even Indiana Jones himself approves.

Tasting Notes

Floral, honeycomb and ripe apples.

Palate Oily butterscotch with peach and custard.

Finish Zesty lemon and a hint of salt.

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Single Malt Whisky Aged 10 years 700ML

Bruichladdich reportedly produces 1.5 million liters of Spirit every year. Among that sea of booze, there's the very special kind of Whisky: Port Charlotte. The Port Charlotte expression that comes in opaque green bottles is a lovely vintage made from local barley. It then matured for ten years in a combination of first-fill Bourbon, Sherry, Tempranillo and French wine casks. It's an authentic heavily peated Whisky with a full-bodied and rich dram with a long and peaty finish. Heavily peated treat: Smoky as hell, delicious as heaven.

Tasting Notes

Sherry and peat are the first aromas on the nose, followed by black pepper, cinnamon and mint with earthy notes of the Atlantic coast and peat moors.

A brilliant introduction of Bourbon and Sherry wood is followed by chocolate orange, smoked malt and dark toffee.

Sweet and subtle finish of American Bourbon wood.

Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie Scottish Barley Single Malt Whisky 700ML

A new standard of Bruichladdich Single Malt expressed in fresh, Single Malt wonder. True to form, this Islay rebel has zero peat and 100% Scottish barley and it’s aged in first-fill ex-Bourbon casks with no chill-filtration and no artificial coloring. The Bruichladdich Distillery is very impressive as they specialized in using slow fermentation and slow distillation using tradition wooden vats and huge washes from towering Douglas Fir. Perfection can’t be improved and should only be preserved. Bruichladdich Classic is perfection in a bottle and remains a timeless delight.

Tasting Notes

Barley sugar, fresh apple, a hint of mint. Then caramelised fruits and honey drift onto the scene.

Sweet oak, barley, Atlantic saltiness, ripe green fruit, vanilla and sweet malt.

Fruit remains, vanilla, honey and some sweetness all hang around until drying oaky finale.

Bundaberg stays true to its Aussie devotees as they produce about 65,000 cases a year, but mostly for the domestic market. Double distilled and aged for two years, they are the most popular rum brand in Australia earning its affectionate name of ‘Bundy’. Since sugar production is the main industry in Queensland, Bundaberg has been produced from Australian molasses since 1889. You’ll see no kangaroo on this bottle as the bear stems from the days when it was believed rum had medicinal properties and that Bundy could ward off the worst type of chill - hence an Arctic animal seemed appropriate as the logo. Truly a one of a kind rum Australians can be proud of. Let Bundaberg take you for a spin and top up your night with this rum from the ‘Down Under’.

Tasting Notes

More than average, sugar cane, fruits, pineapple, floral, molasses.


Sexuality: A Single Malt Experience

Last night while watching the season premier of Mad Men, I started thinking about the sexiness of the modern day woman. As a woman it is easy to struggle with our sexuality. On one hand, we demand to be taken seriously. We yearn and deserve positions of authority and want to be respected in such roles. On the other hand, we want to be lusted after to feel sought after, beautiful and sensuous. In reality, however, there is no set definition as to what sexuality is. It is a state of mind…something that develops over time and is unique to the person who embraces it. I have been told that the sexiest thing a woman can do is walk up to a bar and order a delicious whiskey on the rocks, but I think there is more to it than that.

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending Glenfiddich’s 125th Anniversary celebration hailed at the iconic Statue of Liberty. Under the starry sky music filled the air, whisky filled the glasses and malt master extraordinaire Brian Kinsman filled my notebook with inspiring single malt wisdom. Throughout all of my geeky whisky questions, he continued to emphasize how all whisky begins as the same three things: water, barley and time. I found this extremely enlightening. To know that a 12 Year Old Glenfiddich and a 50 Year Old Glenfiddich both start off as the same ingredients but morph into two very different products shows that there is a need and a desire for variety and range.

Likewise, sexuality and whisky have many similarities. Their physical compositions both start out as a defined chemical makeup, but over time and with the addition of uniqueness they elude confidence and ownership of who they are. This is what creates a truly sexy woman and a truly sexy malt.

Pioneering Sexuality

This is the woman who innovates and breaks boundaries. She is versatile and uses her knowledge to be adaptable wherever she may be. Just as the Glenfiddich 12YO challenged whiskey drinkers by mixing itself in cocktails, she challenges society with her pioneering attitude. She is the life of the party as she sits perched at the bar speaking to those worthy of her breath. She is elegantly complex, has a fiery attitude, and is able to allure men with a hint of mystery.

Understated Sexuality

This woman is more focused on being experienced then on creating something new. She is the quiet woman sitting by the fire rather than the bubbly personality surrounded by a circle of salivating men. Like the Glenfiddich 21YO, she pulls you in from afar only those willing enough to pursue such an exquisite creature will gain the pleasure of holding her attention. There is an intensity in her eye and a spiciness on her tongue that will leave you longing for more.

Timeless Sexuality

A product of time, her presence commands a room. The fine lines on her face are beautifully scripted, showing the remnants of lovers throughout the years. Her beauty, timeless her mind, a wealth of history her body, a movement of elegance. Like the Glenfiddich 50YO she is sought after by the passionate and knowledgeable man a man who knows what he wants and appreciates a mature soul. She has an astonishing taste of confidence behind her years and will leave you with a sense of tradition and aspiration. And it goes without saying, she is sexy as hell!


Watch the video: The Balvenie Portwood 21 year old single malt whisky review.


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