Monthly Archives: March 2012

Talisker 18 Year

Talisker 18 is regarded as a premium whisky, so we were excited to have a small taste of it! A great fragrance accompanies this single malt . Amber in colour, it is a full bodied whisky with a higher alcohol content of 45.8%. Compared to the Bowmore 12 it is certainly more reserved when it comes to the smoke and peat flavours, but still sweet at the start. The finish was rounded and smooth on the palate., with a medium length. A favorite of mine which I’ll have to purchase if ever passing through the duty free from the U.K.

Tristan

*****

Since the Talisker 10 is one of my favourite single malts, and since the 18 has become increasingly difficult to find — due to it mainly being produced for duty free, and rumours of it being discontinued — I was extremely excited to taste this whisky. Perhaps it is because of my ultra high expectations, and though it is fine whisky indeed, I was rather disappointed with my experience.

To be sure, though Talisker, coming from Skye Island, produces relatively peaty whisky, the 18s degree of peat is quite mild. The extra 8 years of maturation markedly softens the peat smoke that is apparent in the 10-year. In light of this, the Talisker 18, unlike the 10, shares more in common with a Speyside single malt. A mild earthiness, wood, and citrus notes are exuded both from the nose and palate, while the characteristic sea-salt flavour of Talisker lingers on the finish. An enjoyable whisky, though not what I expected. I hope to try it again someday without any preconceptions.

Nose: 22
Body: 21
Taste: 21.5
Finish: 22.5

Kamran: 87 pts.

*****

The nose in my humble opinion is by far the nicest I’ve come across. It’s smooth, fruity, sweet, with a faint smokey note. In body it’s certainly full, with a peaty presence. Very strong. The flavour is sweet at the start, which fades to a earthy/smokey note. Finally, the medium length finish was a rounded – almost smooth – and peaty. While I’m more a fan of the sweeter single malts, this is an exception that won me over!

Nose: 25
Body: 22
Taste: 22
Finish: 24

Tristan: 93 pts.

*****

Final Average: 90 pts.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Spirits, Whisky

Bowmore 12 Year

One of only several distilleries in Scotland that do their own floor maltings — a traditional practice that has mostly been abolished due to its labour intensity — Bowmore produces a classic Islay single malt. The Bowmore 12, in particular, has become a staple in the whisky community, as it’s one of those malts that one could not call themselves a whisky drinker had they not tried it. Though some novice drinkers may be offended by the level of peat in this whisky (approx 25 ppm), it is really quite moderate for an Islay whisky — the latest Octomore is peated at 167 parts per million! In light of this, the Bowmore 12, along with some of the Bruichladdich’s and Bunnahibhain’s, is an ideal introduction to peated whisky.

– Kamran

*****

While the Bowmore 12 is not overwhelmingly peaty, and certainly isn’t a highly smoky whisky, the nose is profoundly vegetative. Pronounced notes of damp peat, dry sawdust, and a touch of honey gives the whisky plenty of complexity. While the peat lingers in the nasal cavity, as if you’re in the vicinity of a peat fire, it doesn’t appear nearly as intensely on the palate; instead, it is softened by flavours of oak and dark chocolate. This isn’t highly surprising; it seems that much of the peat, what is noticeable on the nose, is instilled in the whisky indirectly.

Sitting at the shore of Loch Indaal, the water at Bowmore is dark — dirtied with peat. This peated water, used in the distillation, gives the whisky its characteristic peat aroma without having to bombard the barley with an intensely peat driven malting. Moreover, I posit that, due to Bowmore’s own peat fires and floor malting process, lingering volatile aromas of peat that are in the air at the distillery may come in contact with the whisky, causing the whisky to absorb the peat, sort of like how dry hopping a beer increases the hop aroma without increasing the bitterness.

As with many Islay whiskies, a touch of water to oxidize the whisky and open up the flavours may prove beneficial. Two to three drops is more than enough, so don’t overdo it — invest in an eye-dropper; it comes in handy. While the peat is not so pronounced on the initial taste, being complemented by other flavours, it is primarily what remains on the finish. The finish is exceptional; after a wee dram, one can still taste the peat 20 minutes later — that is if you haven’t already starting sipping another whisky! All in all, the Bowmore 12 is a classic malt that all single malt enthusiasts must try!

Nose: 24
Body: 22
Taste: 23
Finish: 22.5

Kamran: 91.5 pts.

*****

In typical Islay style, the Bowmore 12 is certainly one of the most peaty and smoky single malts I’ve tried to date! In my opinion, the nose was the best part of the whisky; it was rich in an earthy tone, full of peat, malt and smoke. Golden amber in colour, Its sharpness is not only from the alcohol but the peat. As expected, these notes are certainly evidenced in the flavour, meaning I couldn’t truly detect any other flavours in the whisky. I found that the finish was a harsh peaty one. More to Kamran’s liking than mine, but I prefer the more mellow peat and sweeter single malts.

Nose: 23.5
Body: 19
Taste: 19
Finish: 19.5

Tristan: 81 pts.

*****

Final Average: 86.25 pts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Spirits, Whisky

Glenlivet 18 Year

One of the worlds largest distilleries, Glenlivet have a rich history of producing fine single malt whiskys. For the review, we decided to do the 18 year scotch as it is an easy introductory single malt and has less peat and smoke flavour and a richer sweetness. The extra years in the barrel have added a richer colour to the whisky, yet it remains much lighter than the Glenlivet 21. The sweetness means that this is a whisky to be savoured, but the higher alcohol – at 43% – means that it does have a wee bit ‘o strength behind it. As well, the spice creates a warm glow that can be felt radiating from your palate down to your stomach. While not the best whisky we’ve tasted, it is certainly a must for those interested in dabbing their palate into the world of whisky.

Tristan

*****

Due to historical implication, popularity, and mass production, the Glenlivet, along with Glenfiddich, share a place in the whisky world that (the likes of) Bud Light holds in the beer world — consumption, consumption, consumption! To be fair, while this whisky snobbery is quite justified in regards to the simple, flavourless 12 year concoctions, the extra years of maturation in oak casks imbues some of the older editions with enough complexity to satisfy even the most sophisticated palate. While it certainly doesn’t ring true that more age = better product — in many cases the alternative is the truth, despite the gross increase in price — in the case of the Glenlivet, more age certainly does improve the product — I mean, how could it get any worse?!

As a typical Speyside malt should be, the Glenlivet 18 is smooth and subtle; the flavours are not intense or overbearing like an Islay malt could be. Unlike the Glenlivet 12, though, the 18 actually does have some flavour, given almost entirely by the wood. On the nose, there is just a delicate touch of sweetness; however you can certainly smell the alcohol through this. At 43%, the malt doesn’t really require anything to cut it down; however, a couple drops (literally a couple drops) into an ounce, followed by a swirl, really does open up the flavours — careful not to ruin the whisky! On the palate are notes of oak and dirt; there is an earthiness about it, despite the lack of peat. Rather than the taste of a bog is the taste of pine trees and fresh water. While the finish leaves one desiring more, it is, at least, enjoyable, and sometimes one just wants a plain old whisky!

Nose: 21
Body: 19.5
Taste: 20.5
Finish: 20

Kamran: 81 pts.

*****

The rich golden colour is from the extra years in the barrel, these years have also added to the rich nose that this whisky possesses.   It is sweet with the oakiness, with a mild peat fragrance, with floral notes, along with some light toffee. On first sip it feels bold, but by the second or third it has exchanged pleasantries with your palate and is smooth yet sweet, along with some spice before the oakiness follows through. The finish is sharp due to the higher alcohol content, but it lasts with a radiating glow from your bodies core. A somewhat dry sensation lingers.

Nose: 23
Body: 19
Taste: 21
Finish: 22

Tristan: 85 pts.

*****

Final Average: 83 pts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Spirits, Whisky

Rogue Dead Guy Ale

Rogue Dead Guy Ale is an awesome session beer. This Maibock is rich in malt aroma and flavour, it is a hearty beer that goes down smooth and sweet with a light hops finish to round it off. Rich copper colour when poured, along with an almost opaque body, with minimal head. While it comes in either 6 packs or tall boy bottles, it is not a cheap beer. However, this Oregon import is definitely worth a try. This beer is part of the reason why Rogue Brewing is well regarded by us.

Tristan

*****

To me, Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale is a richer, maltier version of Phillips’ Blue Buck. Basically, if you were to trade the hop levels of one of the beers, you’d end up, more or less, with the other. Both are incredibly well balanced session ales that may be enjoyed regularly, often, and over the course of a night; you don’t want just one! They are so well balanced in regards to malts and hops, lightness and darkness, and lightness and heaviness that they are equally suitable for just about any occasion; you could drink it while playing beer pong, sip and enjoy it on tap, or pair it with just about any meal.

Craft brewed in Oregon, Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale has a subtle, but pleasant nose, a medium-body that is simultaneously rich and easy-drinking, a fine balance of flavours on the palate — though I’d personally prefer the hops pumped up a bit, à la Philips Blue Buck — and a long, consistent finish.

While it’s not the best beer in the world, I would, without hesitation, recommend the Dead Guy Ale to anyone and everyone, because, put simply, it appeals to the masses. It has something for everyone, whether an IPA enthusiast, a Stout connoisseur or anything in between!

Nose: 21
Body: 20
Taste: 20.5
Finish: 21

Kamran: 82.5 pts.

*****

A solid beer in my books, this malty nosed beer – with traces of a hops and fruity aroma – is a beer that most people would really enjoy. It balances the sweetness of the malt with some hops and caramel notes in the flavour. It does have a bitterness to it that I find keeps the beer crisp and primed for a session ale. Compared against the Phillips Blue Buck, I would have to agree that they are well contrasted. The finish is solid for this ale, a smooth fresh malt with a zip of hops at the end. A crowd pleaser to be sure, even if my score seems to be a little low.

Nose: 21
Body: 19.5
Taste: 19.5
Finish: 20

Tristan: 80 pts.

*****

I can’t really say anything bad about Oregon. No sales tax, beautiful scenery, great pizza (Flying Pie, anyone?), and enough beer to fuel UBC’s engineering force for an entire undergrad stint (victory laps included). Rogue definitely makes a road trip to Oregon a worthwhile investment, as they always seem to produce something worth trying, and the Dead Guy Ale is no exception.

Right out of the bottle, a nice, subtle caramel smell entices you to try a sip. As you do, you’ll notice a smooth, lightly carbonated ale which doesn’t leave you feeling bloated or heavy, giving it a pretty high drink-ability factor. The taste is not my favourite, but the slightly bitter citrus overtones provide you with a flavour to grab onto without the intensity of an IPA. The bitterness stays with you throughout the finish, leaving you with a slight, but enjoyable, tingle on your tongue. This is definitely a beer you could enjoy in spades.

And you can’t go wrong with that bottle either.

Nose: 20
Body: 23
Taste: 20
Finish: 20

James: 83 pts.

*****

Final Average: 81.83 pts.

4 Comments

Filed under Beer

Duchy Originals Organic Old Ruby Ale 1905

Duchy… has less majesty than you would think. I first had this beer a year or two ago, and I quite enjoyed it, but when we sampled it recently I couldn’t help but notice it was strikingly different. We genuinely like a malty beer; however, this go around was far too malty for our palates. While this beer fell flat for us, I do like the idea of an organic beer and the philosophy of the brewing. Fresher ingredients equal fresher beer. This beer isn’t really comparable to any other beer we’ve had so far.

Tristan

*****

Frankly, Duchy’s Old Ruby Ale is overly malty in a rather unpleasant way. The level of sweetness is not adequately counterbalanced by bitterness; the hops are virtually imperceptible.

While the nose presents us with a not-so-overwhelming level of malts — it’s actually somewhat pleasantly aggressive — the overabundance of malt characteristics on the palate delivers a sickly sweetness that is difficult to rid oneself of. While the creamy body first lends itself to a subtle appreciation of vanilla, once the malts come through, there are no other flavours — it’s actually quite bland. With bigger gulps,  the taste becomes even more sickly sweet, a characteristic that lingers for an offensively long time.

Nose: 17.5
Body: 16
Taste: 15.5
Finish: 15.5

Kamran: 64.5 pts.

*****

With a malty and somewhat floral nose, this thick and heavy beer was hard to judge. As Kamran mentioned, the malt overpowered the other flavours. I had notes of citrus instead of vanilla tones picked up by Kamran. The finish was short in pleasantries and lengthy with an all consuming malt taste on the palate. A drink more suited to beer pleebeians than kings and dukes. Sadly I wont be purchasing this beer again unless they balance the malt and add complexity to this brew.

Nose: 17
Body: 16
Taste: 17
Finish: 11

Tristan: 61 pts.

*****

With a name like Duchy, you would expect a beer fit for a royal, perhaps a duke (I love Wikipedia, don’t you?). And if this indeed is sold in Waitrose (which, to those of you unfamiliar with British supermarkets, is a pretty high-end chain) the expectations should be growing further based on the price you would be paying. Unfortunately, this ruby ale does not deliver.

Although the scent delivers some pleasant citrus notes, I did find it to be somewhat weak. If the aromas that are present in this beer could have been brought out, it would have helped to make me a little more interested in what I was about to taste. The body does help the cause, which is smooth and lightly carbonated, making it easy to drink. The trouble is, after tasting this, you probably won’t want to drink very much. Much like the Coopers, I found this to be far too malty, reminding me of enduring a 40 oz of Olde English because it would get you drunk quickly. The experience doesn’t get any better, as the finish leaves you with a dull, leftover-malt taste hanging onto your palate.

I think I’ll pass on this one.

Nose: 18
Body: 20
Taste: 13
Finish: 11

James: 62 pts.

*****

Final Average: 62.5 pts.

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer

Cooper’s Sparkling Ale

On my recent trip to New Zealand and Australia I took the time to try various new beers I encountered along the way. Coopers is certainly well represented down under, to the point that Coopers is Australian for beer… not Fosters. Once back in the “Great White North”, I actually discovered that Coopers was carried by the local beer shops and brought it in to taste with the guys. When I tried it in Australia I felt it was a nice enough beer, Coopers Pale Ale was more enjoyable in comparison, but the bottles here of the Sparkling Ale were very different from what I tasted in Australia. It is a malty beer, with lots of carbonation and an opaqueness to it. Perhaps it was a bad batch, perhaps it didn’t travel well, but whatever the reason this beer was underwhelming and different from what I remembered only a few weeks prior.

– Tristan

*****

Cooper’s Sparkling Ale is more like a typical mass-produced lager. Though brewed at a relatively smaller scale, closer to something like Okanagan Springs, Cooper’s is basically the Australian equivalent of something like Budweiser, Canadian, and  Coors Light — light bodied, metallic taste, readily available just about everywhere (in Australia), mass produced, pasteurized, and preserved.

Like all low quality lagers, this ‘ale’ is best served as cold as possible. Flavours become more pronounced when a beverage is warmed (hence why quality whisky is typically enjoyed at room temperature), and this is one beer you do not want to experience the full flavour of. It’s the type of beer you want to use for beer pong, shotgunning, or just plain getting wasted, in spite of the added carbonation (the ‘sparkling’ aspect). If I had one in front of me, I would want to down it just to get rid of it; there’s no enjoyment from sipping a Cooper’s.

Nose: 10
Body: 14
Taste: 9
Finish: 10.5

Kamran: 43.5 pts.

*****

Firstly, to be fair, this beer was better in Australia. Secondly, it’s still a better beer than Bud, Molson, and Labatt products. It has a malty nose, almost a bit skunky even – perhaps due to travel or batch quality. It’s a light beer with a fair amount of carbonation to it. The sediment does make for a cloudy beer however. The flavor was of malt with the very, very faintest of hops hidden away. Similar to a lager in some ways to be honest… nothing too spectacular though. The finish was slightly bitter and short lived; weakest part of the beer in my scoring.

Nose: 14
Body: 12.5
Taste: 17
Finish: 9

Tristan: 52.5

*****

Considering that the only Australian beer I’ve tried before this was Fosters, I was pleased to see an improvement. That being said, Coopers Sparkling Ale shouldn’t win any awards for craftsmanship. I even struggle with calling this an ale, as it really doesn’t bare any resemblance to any of the fine ales we’ve already tried.

I must admit, the first to spring to my mind upon smelling this “ale” was beef-flavoured crisps. Either I was really hungry when I tried this beer or it’s just a microcosm for overall quality. In any event, I was able to detect some elements of citrus, after a fair bit of effort, so that helped salvage my opinion slightly. Nothing in the body is particularly appealing, as you’re greeted but what seems like a typical $2 pint at The Pit on a Tuesday night. The taste is far too malty for me, almost to the point of being sour, though this does dissipate as you progress towards the finish.

Despite it’s drawbacks, I’d still rather have a pint of this than a pint of Canadian.

Nose: 15
Body: 10
Taste: 12.5
Finish: 14

James: 51.5

*****

Final Average: 46.5 pts

Leave a comment

Filed under Beer