Sunday, March 18, 2012

Whisky review: Hankey Bannister Original

Hankey Bannister is a blended Scotch whisky that prides itself on containing all five single malts from the Inver House portfolio: AnCnoc, Balblair, Balmenach, Old Pulteney, and Speyburn. The Hankey Bannister 40 has won a number of awards, and considering my affinity for the single malts in Inver House's portfolio, I was hoping to like the Hankey Bannister Original. And at only $17 a bottle, it's a relatively cheap experiment.

Let's see how it goes...

Hankey Bannister Original, 43% ABV
Blended Scotch whisky
Price range, 750 mL: $17-22

Nose: Very sweet. A bit like a sugar cookie. Earthier notes developing after a while.

Palate: Sweet but a bit rough. Just caramel through and through.

Finish: Caramel and some light wood. Leaves a woody taste after a minute or so.

Rating (of 100): 64. This is basically a bottle of alcoholic caramel flavoring. Not something I would purchase again, despite the low price tag. Kudos for bottling it at 43%, though - that's not too typical for an entry-level blend. Maybe they needed to add some alcohol to try to mask the caramel...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Whisky review: Ardbeg Supernova (2009 release)

Ardbeg was resurrected from the dead in the late 1990s and has since had a very cult-like following by some whisky enthusiasts. Ardbeg has been one of the major players in the "peatiness envy" that has gripped the industry in recent times, with their Supernova competing with the Port Charlotte releases from Bruichladdich to see who could have the biggest peat punch in a bottle.

This is the first release of the Supernova - a bottle my parents graciously picked up for me at the New Hampshire Liquor Store when I was still living in Boston.

Now that's what I call good parenting.

Ardbeg Supernova (2009 release), 58.9% ABV
 Single malt Scotch whisky (Islay)

Nose: Immediately alcoholic and phenolic. Damp grass and a dark peat richness. Some fruity sweetness develops after a while.

Palate: Gritty peat and smoke, with some claws into your tongue from the high alcohol content. After rolling it around for a while, the peat turns to a very aggressive coal flavor with a layer of red fruit behind it.

Finish: Peat, clean and clear, rolling off with some vanilla. The coal note lingers. Quite the exit.

Rating (of 100): 88. Pretty much a bottle of liquid peat. I've also tried the 2010 release, and remember preferring it a little bit to the 2009 because it had more sweetness in addition to the peat. Still, the 2009 is a great bottle for the peat lover, if you can find it.