Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ivy+ Fine Spirits Showcase: get your tickets now!

We've already sold 300 tickets to the first-ever Ivy+ Fine Spirits Showcase on Saturday, February 26th, 2011 at Royale in downtown Boston. I suggest you get your tickets soon if you're an Ivy+ alum or student, as they will only sell more quickly once the new year dawns! Space is limited.

We'll have a great lineup of all kinds of fine distilled spirits - Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, cognac, bourbon, tequila, rum, and more - for you to sample while you mingle with other Ivy+ folks. This event has been more than a year in the making and is not to be missed.

Whisky review: Cutty Black

I'm sitting in the open air on a balcony overlooking the beach at Isla Verde in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I bought this bottle of Cutty Black at the supermarket yesterday for $24, as I had never heard of it before (only the regular Cutty Sark, which is all over the mainland U.S.) but read online that it was supposed to be a peated version of the regular Cutty. I figured that, for this price, it was worth a try.

Cutty Sark is owned by Berry Brothers and Rudd and, though Cutty Sark is a popular brand with worldwide distribution, Cutty Black is not available in the continental United States.

Cutty Black, 40% ABV
Blended Scotch whisky

Appearance: Gold.

Nose: Brown sugar, raisins, tart plums, honey, dried apricots. A symphony of dark fruit and sugar-related scents, plus a hint of light wood.

Palate: Rock crystal sugar candy, apricots, very ripe red apples, and butterscotch. So smooth I almost didn't know it was in my mouth yet. Reminds me a bit of the Bunnahabhain 18 and Highland Park 12/18 (without the peat).

Finish: Some salt with lingering mellow and well-balanced sweetness.

Overall (of 100): 94. Damn. I think this is the best value whisky I have ever tried. Though it doesn't really come through with any peat for me, that's fine - there are a lot of great fruit and sugary notes that, even though I tend not to like the really sweet whiskies, do not seem cloying. This whisky just begs to be drunk all night. I believe I will have to oblige.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Whisky review: Glen Moray 12

I was visiting my family in Wisconsin and found this whisky on the shelf, boasting a rating of 91 by Jim Murray (of Whisky Bible fame). I thought I'd give it a try and bring it with me on a trip to Puerto Rico with my family. So here I am, enjoying the heat at the end of December and sipping on a single malt.

Glen Moray 12, 40% ABV
Single malt Scotch whisky (Speyside)

Appearance: White wine.

Nose: Lemon peel, young oranges.

Palate: More young fruits, floral. Light honey, wax. Some bitterness develops late - reminds me of some nasty Bacardi I just tasted.

Finish: A hint of sherry in the finish, and a touch of peat.

Rating (of 100): 84. The bitterness knocks it out of orbit.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Whisky review: Lagavulin 16

Lagavulin is another one of the Diageo Classic Malts, hailing from the Scottish island of Islay (pronounced "eye-luh"). It's typically revered as a quintessential Islay malt, meaning it shows off the island's peat and maritime character.

Lagavulin 16, 43%
Single malt Scotch whisky (Islay)

Orange tan.

Nose: Salt, seaweed, peat. Barbecued meat, tar. A seaside feast.

Palate: Full peat smoke with vanilla. Very smooth mouthfeel, but not oily. More salt. Shiver me timbers, matey!

Finish: Peat, smoke, and tar. Yar hardy har.

Rating (of 100): 92. I remember havin' this as one o' the first o' them thar peaty whiskies when I was just a wee scotch novice. She blew me away with her peat then; now, after I've tried some o' the true peat monsters, she seems more subdued. Still, she still has a solid peat backbone, fleshed out with the full wardrobe o' maritime flavors. This be Islay, indeed.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Whisky review: Glenkinchie Distillers Edition

Glenkinchie is the distillery representing the Lowlands region of Scotland in the Diageo "Classic Malts" portfolio. It's known as the "Edinburgh Malt" because the distillery is only about 20 miles southeast of Edinburgh. Like most Lowlands malts, Glenkinchie is typically light, grassy, with light fruit and/or floral notes; this was elucidated in my previous tasting of the Glenkinchie 12.

This bottling, the Glenkinchie Distillers Edition, has been first matured in a refill bourbon cask, and then finished in an amontillado sherry cask. (All of the Distillers Edition malts are finished in some sort of fortified wine cask.) Since Glenkinchie is so light, it's interesting to see what maturation in a sherry cask will do to it, as it's generally thought that light whiskies will not hold up too well to sherry aging.

Glenkinchie Distillers Edition, 43% ABV
Distilled 1991, bottled 2005
Single malt Scotch whisky (Lowlands)

Appearance: Dark gold.

Nose: Wow, a lot of great things happening here. Lively fruit with a toasty, malty backdrop. Sweet like a sugar cookie, but complex as well. Roses, hay.

Palate: A dry, tart, green apple-like flavor with rounded edges of darker fruits and wood. A bit of salt late in the game.

Finish: Dry with some more wood and fruit (apple, pear).

Rating (of 100): 88. Very interesting; the nose is definitely captivating and the interplay between dark and light is evident. Could have done with a fuller, more lingering finish. Either way, a huge improvement on the Glenkinchie 12.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Whisky review: The Glenrothes 1972 32 Year

The Glenrothes (prononced glen-ROTH-ess) is a Speyside distillery that is known for making vintage whiskies (instead of using age statements). Finding this particular vintage today is quite difficult; this bottle was given to me by a collector friend as a wedding gift, and it was a good gift indeed.

The Glenrothes 1972 Vintage 32 Year Old, 43% ABV
Single malt Scotch whisky (Speyside)


Nose: Spices (cinnamon especially), juicy fruits (red apples, oranges, pears), and sherry.

Palate: Fruity, sweet candy. Banana and light leather.

Finish: Some wood and spices lull me into never-never land.

Rating (of 100): 90. Just a great, old whisky that is sweet but not cloying and is packed with elegance. Perhaps a bit thin on the palate, though, which might be helped by bottling at a higher alcohol content. As if they're going to take my advice on a whisky that's no longer produced.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Whisky review: Highland Park 18

The Highland Park distillery is located on the Orkney Islands, off the northern tip of Scotland, and is the most northerly whisky distillery in Scotland. Highland Park is known for its use of Orkney's peat, a version that tends to be more laden with heather roots than that found on Islay; this difference is evident in the resulting whisky.

Highland Park 18, 43% ABV
Single malt Scotch whisky (Islands)

Appearance: Reddish amber.

Nose: Honey, peat, wood, sherry, grass. Buttery and seductive, like a woman in a dream I once had. A definite beauty.

Palate: Great integration of wood, sherry, and light peat. Fruits and flowers abound, with some dark brooding qualities in the background. Fantastic.

Finish: An excellent grip on the way down; makes me want more. And I shall have it.

Rating (of 100): 95. One of the greats! I hear they've recently come out with a 50-year-old. I bet that's reasonably priced and easily accessible.

First-ever event announcement!


The first-ever Ivy+ Fine Spirits Showcase, an afternoon in downtown Boston where attendees can taste from an array of over 200 fine distilled spirits, including single malt Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, cognac, armagnac, tequila, rum, and more!

This is a private event for the students, alumni, faculty, and postdocs of the Ivy League universities plus MIT, Stanford, Duke, and UChicago. The event is being held at Royale in Boston's Theater District on Saturday, February 26th, 2011, 2:00-6:00pm. Tickets are $39/person, with a $5 discount for students - an event like this in Boston normally costs $100+ per person!

Spirits list, more information, and tickets are now available at this website. Spread the word to your Ivy+ friends!