Tag Archives: review

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban, 46% ABV, Non Chill Filtered, Highland Single Malt

Getting a little bit adventurous here. I’d started to read a lot about how the maturation process can affect the final product of a single malt. Aside from all the flavors gained principally from the source of water, the malt, and process of peating if any, the wood it’s set to age in has a huge impact on the final flavor. For instance, the Laphroaig Quarter Cask is aged in barrels 1/4 the size of a normal cask thereby imparting wood flavors and complexities at a greatly accelerated rated due to overall surface area of whisky in contact with the barrel. It’s amazing because of simple wood contact at a higher level. Some scotches are aged in used American white oak bourbon barrels, others in Oroloso sherry casks left over from aging sherried Spanish wines, and so on and son.

My curiosity was piqued so I looked a little bit into this world of aging scotch in different barrels and came across the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban. This 12 year old Highland scotch is aged for 10 years in American white oak barrels then is matured and additional two years in specially selected ruby port pipes from the Quintas or wine estates of Portugal. You can find more information here: Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Home

Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban 12 year, 46%ABV, non chill filtered

glenmorangie-the-quinta-ruban-highland-single-malt-750mlfile_13_32

  • Color: Dark ruby mahogany, rich with depth and complexity. 
  • Nose: Big sherry notes, mint, hint of malt, slight vanilla, toffee, and chocolate, truly delightful
  • Palate: chocolate, orange zest, sweet warming sherry, vanilla and bright mint background
  • Finish: long, pleasantly warming, sherried chocolate again without being sweet, woody spices of cinnamon and allspice

Overall: Complex and decadent. Borders on the dessert variety, but easily enjoyed on its own accord. Quite a little jaunt into the adventurous side of single malts!

 

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Ardbeg 10, 46% ABV, non chill-filtered, Islay Single Malt

After trying the HP 12, my burgeoning palate really missed the peat and smoke found in Laphroaig QC. A little internet sleuthing lead me to a beast of a peat/smoke bomb, Ardbeg 10. Highly touted for it’s robust, take-no-prisoners smoke monster attitude, this little gem hails from Scotland’s Islay region. It is widely known as Islay’s smokiest and peatiest offering.

I had no idea if I was ready, but I was up to the challenge:

Ardbeg 10, 46% ABV, non chill-filtered, Islay Single Malt, $50 USD ardbeg-10-year

Color: Pale, light tan-yellow. Looks thin and when swirled creates fast-moving legs and sprites above the swirl mark showing its non chill-filtered ABV off nicely.

Nose: Like Laphroaig QC, this Islay packs a wallop. Smoke, tobacco, anise, acrid burnt wood freshly snuffed out, background of sickly sweet dense honeysuckle. A neighbor having a barbecue. Your kitchen a couple of hours after you have fried up some bacon for breakfast.

Palate: Like the sight of it suggests, thin. This whiskey sneaks right in there. When held in the mouth the thick summer honeyed floral arrives and as you move the whisky to the back of the palate sharp anise arrives. Then, nothing. For about a second, then PEAT AND SMOKE kick you in the molars. It’s like a strobe light of wood smoke, tobacco, barbecue notes, and a playful sweetness raving inside your gullet. Truly delightful and can really catch you off guard if you’re not expecting it. Beware.

Finish: Ardbeg has finish for what seems like an eternity. I’m surprised to not be exhaling smoke. The higher ABV does not add to burn so much as it adds to intensity of lingering peat, delicate honeyed floral sweetness, and bright anise. The finish, while heavy in notes, is light compared to what you may be expecting.

Overall: Yes, this one is palate puncher for sure. Bare knuckled. I thought the Laphroaig QC was hardcore, but Ardbeg 10 takes the cake. These are all good things. I really enjoy the fact that so much flavor, nuance, passion, and craftsmanship can be conveyed in a single sip. Truly a treasure to enjoy occasionally, but this is not an expression that I need to keep around. While it is exceptional at taking the Islay taste and turning it up to “11”, it’s a piano that only plays the one note.

 

Aberlour 12 Double Cask Matured, 43% ABV, Speyside Single Malt

Things were beginning to heat up on my trek to taste more of the world of single malts. After tackling my first bottle of Speyburn 10, the recommendations were flying. Try this Isaly, it will blow your mind! Try this Highland scotch, it’s the best out there!

For the uninitiated, here is a quick/dirty run-down of the major players in the scotch flavor profile (not meant to be very thorough, just a side-note and more info here –>http://www.scotlandwhisky.com/about/single-malt-scotch-whiskyregions ):

  • Islay: Heavily peated, smoked. Aggressive.
  • Highland: Dryer, sweeter, fruits, a touch complex
  • Speyside: Mellow, sweet, I find them to be a touch floral
  • Lowlands: High malt, delicate, grassy

I found myself with a quick case of alcoholic’s ADD. I didn’t know which way to go, but I knew I had to get there quickly and with something completely different. With the mindset that scotch, compared to bourbons, was something that one sipped, savored, contemplated and enjoyed, I chose to go down a more delicate path to the Speyside. Best I could tell, Aberlour 12 was a good place to start and here’s my take:

Aberlour 12 Double Cask, 43% ABV, $45 USDImage

  • Color: burnt amber with slight ruby hue in direct sun
  • Nose: over ripened bananas, medicinal cherries, background of slightly charred oak, cinnamon and other woody spices round it out
  • Palate: Warm, soft (surprisingly) cherry cough syrup (in a good way) giving way to the over ripe sugary bananas then blossoming into the spicy and mellow smoked oak flavors at the back
  • Finish: Lightly warming and the above mentioned flavors really spark alive at the finish as you can smell them again. They evaporate into a pleasantly lingering roasted oak that is in no way overpowering. The mouth feel dissipates in an appropriate time between drinks just to give you enough time to forget what it tastes like and want to remember again.

Overall: This scotch was a kick in the soul shouting, “Wake up!” It’s utterly amazing that so many flavors and feelings can come from a single dram. Sure, it had 12 years to get there, but man oh man, what did I get myself into? The fruity playful nose was only hiding a very serious flavor of sherry, fruit (old), spices, and warmth. A staple for any collection and best enjoyed when there’s a slight nip in the air.