Whisky-Related Stocking Stuffers for 2016

old_christmas_riding_a_goat_by_robert_seymour_1836I was going to write something half-heartedly funny about starting up the war on Christmas again just because stores put up all their Christmas crap way too early. And because a certain group of people always tends to get a little hissy around this time of year if you don’t celebrate the holidays exactly like they want you to. I was going to say something clever and literate like, “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,” but in light of certain election-related events, that just seems a little small and snarky, especially when I actually love the Winter Solstice-related holidays. So yeah, I’ve got the usual grab bag of whisky-related gift ideas for people to mass consume, but before we get to that, I thought I’d toss out a far more important grab bag of organizations that are probably going to require a lot of help over the next four years. Please consider giving them a gift as well, they’re going to need it…

Planned Parenthood
Environmental Working Group
American Civil Liberties Union - ACLU
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People - NAACP
Council on American-Islamic Relations - CAIR
Black Lives Matter
Southern Poverty Law Center
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network - RAINN
EarthJustice
Center for Reproductive Rights
Campaign Zero
Anti-Defamation League
National Organization for Women - NOW
Human Rights Campaign
The Sierra Club Foundation
National Immigration Law Center
Harvey Milk Foundation

And…if you really hate this idea or any of these organizations, then kindly keep your mouth shut until you leave this blog. And maybe don’t come back.

Now then, shop it up, you lemmings you…

As per usual, books lead the way. When it comes to gifts, books should always lead the way. One of the benefits of this boom in whisky/cocktails/etc. is the accompanying flurry of great books on the subject. This past year saw quite a few good booze books released, here are a few of the best:

(As always, yes…you can buy these both from Amazon, but wouldn’t you rather support your local booksellers? Of course you would.)

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If, while reading your whisky books, you like to come up for air once in a while and look around the room, perhaps you need a few things to put on your walls to stay in the mood? The excellent, graphically satisfying prints from Pop Chart Lab are a perennial favorite of mine. If you’re looking for something a bit more rustic or casual, then these “word maps” of Kentucky and Scotland might fit the bill. If you’re looking for something more unique, tactile, and more spendy, then this vaguely George Morrison-esque assemblage of barrel staves from the Hungarian Workshop would look great and possibly even smell pretty good.

whiskycupsObviously, reading about whisky and other boozes is thirsty work. I suppose you could swig right from the bottle or pour some into a cupped hand, but come on, we’re not animals, buy some appropriate glassware, for crap’s sake. The ubiquitous Glencairn glass is ubiquitous for damn good reason, it’s a great all-around glass for appreciating fine spirits. I use them an awful lot and always cry a little when I break one. The Neat Glass and the Norlan Glass are both a little pricier and a little more out there, in terms of design…if you’re into that kind of thing. If you’re into a more earthenware pottery type thing, (and as I’ve spent my fair share of time behind this particular kind of wheel, I certainly am) these Scottish landscape-inspired, stoneware whisky cups from MYH Ceramics look fantastic.

the-whisky-advent-calendarOf course, you’ll need something to pour into those aforementioned vessels. UK online retailer Master of Malt gets included in my gift-giving list every year because they have some of the best whisky gifts to be given. In fact, out of sheer laziness, I’m cutting and pasting their entry from last year’s Stocking Stuffer list. Along with their now-famous whisky advent calendars, they also have advent calendars featuring gin, bourbon, cognac, armagnac, tequila, mezcal, rum, vodka, and absinthe.They have a wide array of carefully curated (and rather affordable) tasting sets as well as blend-yer-own whisky kits, and personalized bottles.One stop shopping if you want a unique twist on the gift of booze.

dashfireIf the moment requires a cocktail or three, you’ll certainly be needing bitters of some kind. Based right here in St. Paul, Dashfire Bitters has a great line of single flavor bitters as well as Brandy Old Fashioned and orange bitters that pretty much beg you to get creative with your drink mixing. On the other hand, if you’re saddled with a seemingly never-ending head cold and forced to drink hot toddies morning, noon, and night, you could liven up your cup with these smoked honey sticks or just lounge around and indulge in these smoked honey bon-bons, each infused with a bit of Laphroaig. Both are also made right here in St. Paul by Mademoiselle Miel. Truly, St. Paul, Minnesota is a wonderland.

At some point you’ll probably want to start documenting these heady whisky experiences that you’ve been experiencing. You could type it all into a computer or hen-peck it all into your phone and share it all in a very important social media kind of way, but why not pick up a pencil, or pen, or quill and write? It’s a lost art, you know? What better place to do that than in this leather-bound whisky bottle journal from In Blue Handmade. 

whiskey-socksIf you somehow weary of all this lounging around the house, reading, writing, drinking, and looking at stuff on your walls, and you find that getting out of the house has suddenly become rather important, you’ll want to dress. Let’s start with the feet. Chances are if you’ve met me at some kind of whiskey event, I may or may not have been wearing underpants, but I was probably wearing these socks. Pluses: They keep your shins warm, and for the older folks, decent compression. Cons: Don’t really go with the Lamont tartan kilt. If you need to get a bit more fancy then perhaps some pewter whisky barrel cufflinks from Paul Simmons or this rather stunning necklace made with ex-Irish whiskey barrels from Paul Coyne. 

science_v2_583I tried to find some clever t-shirt about whisky, but pretty much all of them were of the frat party-ish “one tequila, two tequila, three tequila floor” variety, and the few decent ones were a little tired (keep calm and blah, blah, blah.) So instead, here’s a shirt that’s even more meaningful…Baphomet reading a book. Keep learning science, kids. We need you.

Happy Holidays!

 

 

William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 2016 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection – Review

*Thank you very much to AP and Buffalo Trace for the samples!

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This wheated bourbon is perennially one of my favorites from the Antique Collection. According to the brand literature, this year’s William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon seems to have a bit in common with the 2014 edition in terms of where the barrels came from in the Buffalo Trace warehouses, but there are a couple of notable differences as well. This years version is 4 months older than the previous two…granted, that seems pretty minor, but still, four months is four months. The most important difference between this year’s and years past is the size of the bottling. The 2016 Weller was bottled from a selection of 145 barrels, which is up 40 barrels from 2015 and a whopping 106 barrels from 2014. And yet it’s still a difficult bottle to find, go figure…

btac2016_wlwThe Nose:  Even at such high proof, this is lush and approachable – Autumn dessert in a glass. Rich, sweet notes of butterscotch, caramel apples, juicy, pulpy orange slices, and cherry cola. There’s an almost vin santo-like caramel-y, raisin-y aspect to this that’s incredibly damn pleasant. Behind that there’s almond cake, and stone-ground wheat crackers. The oak is sturdy, and a little leathery and dusty, filled with vanilla, cinnamon, dried citrus peel, a little bit of clove and a hint of wintergreen. Not that it is necessary, but water integrates everything a little more, calms the sugar and oak and coaxes out more fruit and grain notes.

The Palate:  Again, very manageable despite its high ABV. The sweetness from the nose carries over; Muscovado sugar, flat cola, and more juicy, tangy-sweet orange. It has a wonderfully complex mid-palate with salted almonds, toasted bread, French butter cookies, sticky vanilla bean, and bittersweet chocolate. The wood is quite grippy and tannic, but comes on slowly, giving all the previous elements space. Polished oak, strong cinnamon, clove, vanilla, and a bit of barrel char or burnt sugar towards the end. Just a bit of water takes an already wonderful palate and makes it more languid, giving all the complexity more room.

The Finish:  Long and warming, full of oak and peppery spice with lingering hints of citrus, cinnamon candied almonds, those butter cookies, and a fading whiff of that wintergreen.

Thoughts:  Fairly spectacular. From start to finish, a fantastic bourbon. This was a little different from the last one I tried, the 2014. It relied more on the sweeter notes and the bread-y, dessert notes rather than the slightly more rugged “old library” notes of that earlier one. This is wonderfully complex and balanced throughout. Despite the high proof, this manages to take its time and progress in expertly made fashion. It’s not often that I find myself liking a bourbon’s palate as much if not more than the nose, but this is one of those times. Possibly the best Weller I’ve had yet, and my favorite of this years Antique Collection. Highly, highly recommended.

William Larue Weller Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 2016 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

67.7% ABV

Score:  93


As a bit of a wrap-up, I’d have to say overall, this year’s Antique Collection was a bit of a letdown…mostly because of that misguided George T. Stagg. The Handy was the Handy, solid, but a bit out of its depth. The Eagle Rare 17 was very, very nice, and the Weller was positively terrific. The wildcard for me this year was the Sazerac 18. I knew it wouldn’t live up to the Sazerac 18 of old, but I was hoping it would still be very good, and it was. It will be interesting to see how that particular expression evolves. Though I thought this year’s was a small step down from past releases, the Antique Collection remains an impressive and iconic group of whiskeys. A true whiskey privilege to have the chance to try.

Sazerac 18 Year Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, 2016 Buffalo trace Antique Collection – Review

*Thank you very much to AP and Buffalo Trace for the samples!

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Perhaps the most anticipated and interesting of the five Antique Collection bottles this year, the Sazerac 18 Year Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey is for the first time since 2003…a new whiskey. Starting that year through 2014, the whisky used in this expression was distilled in 1985, matured for 18 years, and then married and stored in stainless steel tanks. Up until this year’s model, each bottling of the Sazerac 18 has been more or less the same…but what an incredible sameness. I would say that earlier versions of this one consistently rank up there, perhaps top two or three, as my favorite American whiskeys. So it’s with tinge of sadness that a new era is ushered in. It will be pretty much impossible for the current Sazerac 18 to live up to that legendary vatting, and it would be silly for Buffalo Trace to try to replicate it. But expectations being what they are, there are already a few reviews out there that seem illogically upset that this new, different whiskey isn’t just the same or equally as good as the old stuff.

The number of barrels used for this new expression roughly equals the amount they used in at least the last two versions. The most interesting thing to note about the 2016 (other than its newness of course) is the amount of evaporation that happened compared to the figure they give for the previous two years. 2016’s saw a little more than 72% disappear into the ether, while 2014’s and 2015’s lost only around 58%. That seems significant, what kind of differences will result with this higher degree of concentration?

btac2016_sazerac The Nose:  A mellow, inviting nose, full of sweetness and rye. Pithy orange, caramel, vanilla syrup, maraschino cherry, and a hint of cotton candy. The rye is very fresh, clean and herbal, less baked and peppery than expected, and nicely integrated throughout. There are subtler notes of the burnt tops of banana cream pie, and orange-tinged chocolate in the background. Relaxed but solid “old library” notes of polished oak, with warm cinnamon, vanilla bean, and powdered ginger.

The Palate:  A slightly airy mouthfeel that begins with more juicy citrus, sweet cherry, and caramel. The rye is breadier here, more toasted and peppery, and very much front and center. Toasted almonds and baker’s chocolate loiter in the background. As with the nose, strong but balanced oak and spice notes, polished and shellacked boards, cinnamon, candied ginger, sweetened clove, and fine ground pepper.

The Finish:  Longish and warm with nicely tannic oak, toasty rye grain, vanilla bean baking spice, and an astringent hint of barrel char and cherry cough syrup towards the end.

Thoughts:  First off, if you were expecting the same Sazerac 18…well, why the hell would you expect the same whiskey when this one is supposed to be different? That said, it’s hard to chase the ghost of all that wonderful 1985 vintage out of one’s glass. So, with that in mind, yes, this one is different from the old one, and no, it is not as good as the old one…few whiskeys are. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can try to judge this one on its own merits. This grew on me quite a bit. There was a subtle thinness to it that initially made it seem even less than the stated 45% ABV, but as the glass went on, this held its own. The relatively sweet and fresh nose leads to a more robust, rich palate, that leads to a lingering, spicy, slightly bitter finish. It’s a pleasant progression that shows balance and complexity along the way. Does the nose pour out of the glass the way the old stuff did? No, sadly, it’s a little more gentle that way. The palate is actually very similar, perhaps lighter on the spice, but similar. Overall, this is very, very good whiskey. It’s basically a new start for the brand, if your expectations are unreasonably based on the old stuff, you may be disappointed, if not, you may find this a worthy addition to the collection. Definitely Recommended.

Sazerac 18 Year Old Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey, 2016 Buffalo trace Antique Collection +/-2016

45% ABV

Score:  87

George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 2016 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection – Review

*Thank you very much to AP and Buffalo Trace for the samples!

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I wonder how many liquor stores dread this time of year. When all these highly allocated, even more highly sought after bottles are released, stores must get the full range of desperate assholes asking for all sorts of preferential treatment just for a bottle of booze. And then these stores must get the same desperate assholes howling like their firstborn was turned into a pot roast when they end up not getting the bottle of booze they thought they were entitled to. Yes, usually it’s very good booze, but still, it’s just booze, let’s try to have just a bit of perspective, shall we? Anyway, For those of you who are somewhat forced into selling these kinds of things, and have to endure these times, you have my sympathy. For those of you that turn a little cranky, get that glazed look in your eyes, and set your jaw funny at the prospect of the frantic, expensive, entitled hunt for what is just a bottle of whiskey…well, I don’t really care.

This year’s George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon differs from last year’s model in that 14 more barrels made up the bottling, and perhaps more importantly, less was taken by those greedy, drunk, thoughtless angels. In 2015, nearly 85% was lost to evaporation, but this year’s barrels lost “only” around 76%. It looks as if, the barrels did not come from as high up in the warehouses this year, as they did last year, perhaps that played a part…

btac2016_staggThe Nose:  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it now once again, in my book, the Geo. T. Stagg almost has the archetypal bourbon nose. The 2016 is no different, though man, does that high ABV take some caution. Beneath that heat lies complex sweet notes of brown sugar, maple syrup, orgeat syrup, juicy orange, and cherry cola. There’s sticky vanilla bean, oiled oak boards, and notes of Vietnamese cinnamon, sweet peppercorns, and soft clove. Well in the background are hints of caramelized banana, thin coffee, and tobacco leaf. The addition of water balances things a bit, and brings the oak and spice to the forefront more, toning down the sweet, but also losing a bit of subtle complexity.

The Palate:  Oh, it burns. A lush mouthfeel continues the sweetness from the nose with more cola and macerated cherries, brown sugar and lots of juicy, slightly pithy orange. At strength, this too quickly becomes very, very oaky and very, very grippy. I caught a glimpse of some baker’s chocolate, almond paste, and salted peanuts, but they were soon mowed down by the alcohol and wood. The oak is refined but so drying and tannic it’s nearly overwhelming. There are some sharpish spice notes of dried clove, nutmeg, allspice, raw ginger, and black pepper that manage to come through. A bit of barrel char struggles to be heard under all that wood, and tiny hint of burnt popcorn that emerges towards the end. Not even water can slow this oaky, tannic monster of the palate. It does balances things a little more and more importantly, makes it more drinkable, but it still remains unbalanced.

The Finish:  Longish but, again, too tannic. There’s lots of oak, vanilla extract, black pepper, and barrel char, with that same hint of burnt popcorn lingering.

Thoughts:  Oh, how the mighty have fallen. This started out with such familiar promise; a complex, strong, quintessential bourbon nose full of sugars and spice. The palate however, is just far too woody and drying. There’s a quick glimpse of complexity, but it just can’t stand up to the unbalanced surge of tannins and hard-edged spice. Water helps a little bit, but not enough. It takes a lot of water to calm this down, and by that time you’ve lost a lot of the complexity. A very nice nose dragged down by a woody, hot mess of a palate. If you missed out on buying one this year, don’t feel too bad. Not recommended.

George T. Stagg Kentucky Straight Bourbon, 2016 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

72.05% ABV…Holy fuck. That’s about 23.2% more ABV than I like to drink.

Score:  78

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey, Buffalo Trace 2016 Antique Collection – Review

*Thank you very much to AP and Buffalo Trace for the samples!

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The youngster of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection. Aside from the barrels being plucked from different locations, and a couple of months of aging, the main difference between this years Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey and those of the last couple of years is the increase in the number of barrels used. Prior to 2015, the Thomas Handy used around 40-47 barrels, in 2015, 58 barrels were used, and in 2016, 62 barrels were used. Sure, not a huge jump, but it makes for (very approximately) 2900 bottles more this year compared to the 2014 release. Should be really easy to find now, right?

btac2016_handyThe Nose:  Quite tight and straight-forward seeming. Initially, there are notes of cherry juice, juicy tangerines, a little butterscotch, and a hint of fruit cocktail. The rye is barely toasted, crisp, clean, and slightly herbal, with touches of saltine crackers and corn oil in the background. Notes of vanilla syrup and blanched almonds lead to mild spice notes of sweet clove, cinnamon stick, and subtle spearmint. Adding water boosts the rye a bit and opens up the wood and spice notes a little.

The Palate:  Hot stuff. Sweeter than the nose portends with more juicy citrus, honey, maraschino cherry, and vanilla cream soda. The rye gets knocked back here a bit, it’s grainy and spicy but struggles against the sweetness and high ABV heat. Mid palate there’s salted nuts and bittersweet chocolate leading to young, roughly tannic oak, nutmeg, clove, mint, and ground pepper. Water really helps the palate. The sweetness is toned down, the rye comes forward more, and the edgy wood notes are sanded down.

The Finish:  Medium-ish and somewhat mouth-watering, with more of that rough, grippy oak. Dark brown sugars, hot cinnamon, and a fine-ground pepper.

Thoughts:  I’m just not a huge fan of the Handy. It’s usually…good, but often, in comparison to the other bottles in the Antique Collection, “good” doesn’t really cut it. This year the Handy seemed a little different. In years past, I’ve found it too youthful with a stronger, sharper rye presence. This time around, I thought there was a nice restraint to the grain, especially on the nose, but at strength, it was nearly drowned out on the palate. Adding water (and why wouldn’t you add water?) is a must. It’s too sharp-edged neat, water gives it room to breath and shows off the mashbill much more clearly. So, as with other years, perhaps even more so than other years, I enjoyed this and think it’s a quite decent whiskey, I’m just not sure it’s worth the price or the hype.

Thomas H. Handy Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey, Buffalo Trace 2016 Antique Collection

63.1% ABV

Score:  85

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old Bourbon, 2016 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection – Review

*Thank you very much to AP and Buffalo Trace for the samples!

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The 2016 Eagle Rare 17 Year Old Bourbon, like the 2015 version before it, is actually a 17 year old whiskey. While that might seem like an obvious thing to point out given the name, previous editions of the Antique Collection’s Eagle Rare 17 Year Old were more than 17 years old. The 2012, 2013, and 2014 versions of this one were all around 19 years old and were created from whiskey distilled in 1993, though each year used separate batches that were either bottled or tanked until needed. Today though, you may rest easy knowing that the 2016 version was distilled in 1999 and bottled in 2016, making the Eagle Rare 17 Year Old…17 years old. Finally, after years of such cavalier temporal disorientation, we return to solid ground…

btac2016_eagleThe Nose:  Lithe and sinewy, a complex, lightly fruity nose. Baked fruit pies, cherry and rhubarb, and Valencia oranges. Lots of complex sugars, but not very sweet; orgeat, dark brown sugar, and a touch of maple syrup. Light old leather and faint tobacco along with subtle hints of vanilla-almond cake and macaroons. The oak is sturdy but not overbearing as are the spice notes, old raw boards and polished furniture, warm cinnamon and vanilla bean, a little nutmeg and dried out star anise.

The Palate:  A thinnish mouthfeel that’s initially more austere and robust than the nose. Continued baked fruit is joined by more juicy citrus and orgeat syrup. Mid-palate, there’s an increased nuttiness as well, salted almonds and peanut-y toffee along with cocoa nibs, slightly burnt toast, and toasted coconut. Like the nose, the oak is present, but not too strong with grippy, sturdy tannins, vanilla bean, cinnamon, clove, and thin coffee.

The Finish:  Long and contemplative, pleasantly grippy oak, warming cinnamon, vanilla bean, more toffee, with subtle notes of barrel char and coffee grounds fading at the last.

Thoughts:  The Eagle Rare is always very, very good, but usually fails to send me into a full swoon. At first sniff, the nose on this had me thinking swooning was possible. There’s complex fruit and sugar without being very sweet, and oak and spice without being overly woody. It’s inviting and elegant though somewhat reserved, instead of being voluptuously rich and enveloping. The palate, though it progresses nicely from the nose, ends up seeming a bit too austere and thin comparatively. The lengthy, complex finish helps end things on a high note, but that slight dip in the palate kept me from fully swooning and liking this more than I did. That said, it’s still great bourbon, and does a wonderful job integrating and balancing 17 years in wood. Definitely Recommended.

Eagle Rare 17 Year Old Bourbon, 2016 Buffalo Trace Antique Collection

45% ABV

Score:  88

*There were no official individual bottle shots of this years collection, so instead you get arty iPhone app images to set the mood.

Kilchoman 2008 Vintage – Review

kilchoman_2008vintage*Thanks to SF and all the good folks at Impex Beverages for the sample.

2008…it’s hard to know what to write about that year. On the one hand, we had what then seemed like an intense, crazy presidential election featuring a fantastically inspiring though politically middle-of-the-road man, his worthy running mate, a genuine war hero who was in a little over his head (and who has since turned into an incompetent coward), and a genuine crackpot who was out of her freaking skull. Thinking back on it now, that election seemed sane, civil, and almost a little quaint compared to the embarrassing, dangerous shit show we’re in the middle of now.

On the other hand, 2008 was the year that I met my wife, let’s call her Sherry Butts. I could easily wax poetic on that subject because it was a life-changing, dream-fulfilling time, but instead I’ll just relate a brief tale about how one guy with kind of crazy hair played a small part in convincing two people that spending the rest of their lives together was probably the right way to go. Perhaps just two or three weeks after we met, she invited me to see a screening of Young Frankenstein at the beautiful Castro theater in our then home of San Francisco. Along with the movie itself, the big draw of the evening was Gene Wilder himself being in attendance and talking with the audience after the film. For a couple of people who had only spent a handful of hours together, it was a somewhat bold move to invite me to an event several weeks away. I took the invitation as a good sign, and she took my excited acceptance as a good sign, too, though I think she was perhaps surprised by my enthusiasm. So more than a month later, we watched that pillar of American cinema and listened to that hilarious, gentle, talented man talk about his life. I revelled in the knowledge that Mr. Wilder was a fellow Milwaukeean, and my wife reveled in the knowledge that if I came from the same place Mr. Wilder did, perhaps I was worth holding on to. So, in a roundabout way, I suppose this is also a way to somehow squeeze in a little homage to the recently dearly departed Gene Wilder into a post that has nothing to do with Gene Wilder. We love Gene Wilder. We miss Gene Wilder. We still watch a lot of Gene Wilder movies together.

Totally lost my train of thought. So…Kilchoman’s 2008 Vintage. At the time of its release (Fall of 2015) this was the oldest expression yet from the young Islay distillery. It’s a continuation of their Vintage series which sees consecutive distillation years released every two years (a 2006 vintage was released in 2011, a 2007 in 2013.) The 2008 Vintage was matured in a first-fill ex-bourbon barrel for just over seven years, and was bottled without chill-filtering or any added coloring.

The Nose:  Appropriately Fall-like with vibrant fruit and Islay peat. There’s tart lemon curd and caramel apples along with honey and a little true butterscotch. Behind that there’s a bit of warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream. The peat is lightly tarry and phenolic, but quite briny with a nice breath of beach bonfire smoke. There are light oak notes in the background with vanilla bean, clove, licorice candy, and white pepper.

The Palate:  The fruit is less prominent on the palate, the peat and smoke more so. Juicy citrus and apple cider, along with brown sugar and honey are quickly joined by baker’s chocolate and roasted nuts. The peat is a bit more diesel-y here, a little more medicinal, and definitely more savory. The smoke is thicker, dry and a little ashy. The oak, while still taking a back seat to the peat, is more strongly grippy, as are the coarse vanilla bean, clove and pepper notes.

The Finish:  Longish with continued smoke, and briny and ashy peat, with little of the fruit-tinged sweetness coming through. A bit of vanilla bean and clove come through as well.

Thoughts:  So, 2008 was a very good year and Kilchoman’s 2008 Vintage is a very good whisky.  The all bourbon barrel maturation helps keep this straightforward, keeping the house style well-defined. On the nose, there’s an excellent balance between the sweeter notes and the peat and smoke. On the palate, the peat and smoke surprisingly take over a bit, making the progression between the two a little steep. Personally, I prefer Kilchomans that have some sherry cask matured whiskies in them, but the 2008 Vintage does show off nicely the distillery’s ability to produce whisky that feels more mature than its age. Recommended.

Kilchoman 2008 Vintage, OB, Islay, +/-2015

46% ABV

Score:  85