Saturday, October 3, 2015

Whisky Review: Monkey Shoulder

Monkey Shoulder is named after the condition the distillery workers get from turning barley during the malting process. I guess the thought is that naming a whisky after a painful, chronic ailment is a good thing. This whisky is a blended malt Scotch whisky, meaning it's a mixture of various single malt whiskies. In this particular case, it's malt whiskies from the three Speyside malt distilleries owned by William Grant & Sons: Balvenie, Glenfiddich, and Kininvie.

I picked up a bottle after a bartender - sorry, mixologist - acquaintance said it is the #1 whisky he would recommend to someone new to whisky. He said it was very smooth. Let's see...

Monkey Shoulder Batch 27, 43% ABV
Blended Malt Scotch Whisky
Price range, 750 mL: $25-35

Nose: Honey, vanilla, and bright fruits.

Palate: Honey, vanilla, and bright fruits with a malty backbone.

Finish: Wood turning into some char; a bit harsh. Not really in keeping with the nose and palate, and turning into a not-so-nice experience after a while.

Rating (of 100): 80. Can't say this is a great introduction dram for the uninitiated, or even for the very-much-initiated. Probably best as a mixer, which is what I understand it's mainly used for anyway.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Whisky Review: Glenfarclas 15

This is a whisky a friend picked up for me at travel retail, the only place it's available. Glenfarclas is renowned for making great sherried whiskies at outstanding prices. They don't market heavily and their packaging is very simple; for example, their 40 Year Old is in the same style of bottle and tin as their 10 Year Old, and sells for about $600. Most companies would put a 40 Year Old in a diamond-encrusted crystal decanter hand-made by a eunuch at the top of Mt. Everest and price it so high that even the Queen of England would have to check her bank account balance before buying a bottle.

But I digress. Time to taste some whisky.

Glenfarclas 15 Year, 46% ABV
Single malt Scotch whisky (Speyside)
Price range, 750 mL: $90-100

Nose: Red Gushers fruit candy. Are those things still around? That is all I could think at first. It's just a really bright candied fruitiness - like barely-ripe raspberries, with a whiff of char or smoke.

Palate: A mix of plums and raspberries.

Finish: Wood and spice linger nicely.

Rating (of 100): 87. Not blowing my mind but also not a shabby dram. At least no diamonds were harmed in the making of this whisky.

Whiskey Review: Queen Jennie

This is a whiskey made in Madison, Wisconsin from 100% Wisconsin sorghum and aged in small charred oak barrels from Minnesota. Yeah. The distillery is Old Sugar Distillery, which I visited before this whiskey was being sold. It's great to see it on the market.

Queen Jennie Sorghum Whiskey, 40% ABV
100% Wisconsin Sorghum
Price range, 750 mL: $25-30

Nose: Peaches in syrup with toasted oak.

Palate: Super smooth and fairly thick mouthfeel. Sweet but not cloying: again with the syrup and wood.

Finish: Lingering spice, very clean especially considering the thickness on the palate. The finish is a little bourbon-y in the sweetness, vanilla, and char flavors.

Rating (of 100): 90. It's fairly straightforward but it just feels well-composed. It really is quite distinct from all other whiskeys/whiskies I've ever had.