Author Archives: Justin

Peat: What’s the Limit?

If you enjoy a heavily peated Scotch as much as I then you understand the value peat has in the industry. This resource has a finite limit that I have always wondered about and shared a mild concern for. Recently one of my favorite whiskey blogs did some in depth research that like all things environmental would be good for us all to understand. If you’re curious then give it a read and gain a better perspective.

Every year, about 25 million tons of peat are harvested and burned, by individuals, power utilities, and companies of various kinds (including, but not limited to, distilleries). Another 14 million tons are used by farmers, landscapers, and gardeners to amend deficient soil. Peat keeps golf courses looking sharp. As massive as these numbers are, they amount to about 0.1 percent of the global peat resource. An additional 10 percent of the global resource has been lost to real-estate development and agriculture.

Read the entire article here and follow Slate for some great stories.


Ardbeg 10 Year Old

The Ardbeg 10 Year, A renowned whiskey for its heavy use of peat and overall boldness of flavor. This is one scotch that is not to be sipped lying down, with its aggressive nature and wonderful smoothness is seems that you are nearly drinking the spirit of peat smoke itself. I hope to visit the Ardbeg distillery sometime soon as it looks to be a wonderful place full of rich history and dramatic Scottish island beauty.

Nose: An old log cabin and the back of a freshly washed pig, very welcoming like coming home to the smell of roast beef cooking away. Oak and peat are the main attraction here.

Palate: With the thickness of a cigar and the sweetness of a sugared beef jerky this scotch reminds me continually of meats with its great peated flavor, the smoke really tends to overwhelm this one unless you take the smallest of sips where it shows its delicacy.

Finish: Peat holds on strong and is reminiscent of a charred board sliding down your throat.

Overall: The above statements make it sound like I didn’t enjoy this one when in fact it is uniquely one of my favorites so far. With such a drastically different flavor than the ones I’ve had so far the Ardbeg seems to slam the needle of the smoke gauge so hard it breaks the glass. I highly recommend trying it.

Ardmore Traditional Cask

Being the first highland I’ve tried so far the Ardmore Traditional Cask is most definitely unique.  Having been in production for over 100 years the Ardmore distillery has some pretty rich history, including still using Peat originating from the moss they started with in 1899, one of their facts that I found most interesting. If you have the time check out their site and read a little more.

Nose: Maple, sugar, beef franks, cherries and a strong hit of peat. There is a strange type of sour/sweet smell that reminds my of beef franks for some reason but that is closely followed by a fruit reminiscent of cherries.

Palate:  Sweet fruit, chocolate, lavender, brown sugar, dry wheat, and a heavy peat. This one tastes a lot like a fresh oak campfire in the best way. It is unlike any scotch I’ve tried yet although I imagine it is a good example of a Highland malt as this is my first from that region.

Finish: A short finish leaving the peat as the main thing to hold on. Not a lot for me to say here.

Overall: 6 out of 10

I like this one, it’s unique enough to stand out from the others I have tried so far which will make me come back to it.

Kilkerran Third Release

The Mitchel Glengyle distillery officially opened in 2004 and starting in 2009 released it’s first bottles, since then they have done a new release every year numbering them sequentially. The bottle I have today is their third release which makes it roughly 7 years old. It’s fairly exciting to know it’s still possible to open and maintain a new scotch distillery in this new millenium and I recommend you check out their story and timeline at the Kilkerran site.

Nose: A bit of roses, orange, charcoal, strawberries and some unknown scent that reminds me of walking near a creak bed in northern Idaho. I know that last one is a bit random but I really cannot place the final scent that this one gives off.

Palate: Peppers, cumin, honey, what I would imagine a monarch butterfly would taste like were you to eat it and a tiny pinch of cocoa.

Finish: A lengthly finish that focuses heavily on the peppers and a good bit of lasting heat.

Overall: 4 out of 10

The third release from Glengyle is not impressing me too much today, it focuses on flavors that don’t fit well with my palate, it almost seems like this one is infused with a pepper of some sort so if that’s your thing I would say try it, it’s just not sitting with me.

Glen Scotia 12

One of three distilleries currently operating out of the Campbeltown region the Glen Scotia has been running for over 180 years, standing strong through the Campbeltown area losing and regaining it’s region status. Since there are so few distilleries currently operating I think it will be difficult to tell the difference purely on the region itself but so far they are definitely worth a try.

Nose: Though I’m sure my nose is not up to it’s normal capacity due to a recent cold the first hit of this scotch reminds me of Bacca, the Swedish hardwood finish made by Glitsa, followed by a lukewarm steak, some mild portabella mushrooms and chocolate.

Palate: Dry and a little bitter it is like dark chocolate in a pleasant way, with drizzles of dark meat, a fresh berry and a morning coffee.

Finish: Holds on for a medium amount of time compared to the others that I’ve tried so far with it’s taste heading strongly towards a dark chocolate, the taste of a balloon after you finish blowing it up and a bit of wheat grass.

Overall: 7 out of 10

This dram is a good one, healthy in it’s flavor yet simple enough in it’s complexity to really give you a focused taste. I love how it leans toward a dark chocolate through the whole experience while throwing in these seemly random hits of other things that make you feel like your driving fast through a big city with your windows down while the many scents fly through your windows.

The Macallan Fine Oak 10 Year Old


The Macallan 10 year from their Fine Oak collection is my favorite Single Malt Scotch to date. Now with that strong of an opening statement I suppose I should elaborate on why I feel that way.

Nose: A very wooden nose with a thick maple syrup and brown sugar feeling, the weight of this one seems to almost pull your nose down to the drink itself, drawing you in as a warm hearth would in the cold of winter.

Palate: Very calm on the tongue with a mild heat and a thick body this Scotch goes down more smoothly than any I’ve tried yet. It has a pallor oak flavor reaching forward, a hint of berries, and a burning hum of a wasps wings.

Finish: A lengthly finish leaving most of it’s flavor then as it dies out you get a hint of dark chocolate.

Overall: 8 out of 10

Being a triple cask matured single malt from the Speyside region this scotch has seen the insides of European oak casks seasoned with sherry, American oak casks seasoned with Bourbon, and American oak casks seasoned also seasoned with Sherry. It’s a minimum 10 year and this scotch really feels like it has come of age. The taste it leaves you with is very mellow, very smooth, and of the ones I have tried so far (about eight) this one is the best.

Lagavulin – Through the Eyes of Iain McArthur

A wonderful little video to share with you today of Iain McArthur sharing his views of the Lagavulin over the 40 years that he has worked at the distillery. Video embedded below, enjoy!

Glenfiddich 15

Entering into this journey of flavors it really helps out when companies have some sort of sampler set as buying a couple bottles of scotch a month can get very, very expensive whereas if you have the chance to get three for the price of one while sacrificing a little volume it allows you to try their base range without waiting a year to be able to afford them. Currently I am looking in to the offers from where you can get a good dram to try out before investing in a full 750ml bottle.

Working through the wonderful Glenfiddich triple pack one style at a time, this time pausing at the fifteen for a nice long evening. Out of the three offered so far the fifteen is my least favorite, being a little sharp and spicy, however with that said it is still a great scotch and well worth your nose. Here’s to being able to taste so many things on such a small budget!

Nose: Caramels with a strong hit of apple leaning towards the “Granny Smith” variety, heavy sugars that give it a real weighty smell with lasting wafts of brown sugar.

Palate: Light but with a general feeling that coats the tongue with a visit of apple and oak, a pleasant sort of hot sour that I can’t quite place, very explicit in its Speyside flavor with that unique complexity.

Finish: A medium to quick finish leaving a somewhat hot feeling with brown sugar and a tiny slice of apple still lingering.

Overall: 5 out of 10

Glenfiddich 12

Today I tried the Glenfiddich 12 year old which I picked up as part of a Glenfiddich sampler set at my local liquor emporium here in town.

Aged in American and Spanish oak casks for a minimum of 12 years this single malt has won a multitude of awards which can be seen here at the Glenfiddich site where they describe this particular scotch as having hints of oak, pear, butterscotch, cream, and malt all coming from one of the few remaining family owned distilleries in the Speyside region. So lets see what my newly born nose and taste buds think of this well renowned scotch.

Nose: Caramel, maple syrup, and a powerful but sneaky sense of apples yet I can’t seem to nail down the apple variety it reminds me of, sliding back and forth between Granny Smith and Red Delicious with little hints of a fresh ripe crab apple. The maple really hangs in there and revisits a lot throughout the experience.

Palate: Cereals, tabasco, and a little dry but with a lot of oak, I found the taste to be complex enough that it was hard to pinpoint exactly what it was that was hitting, oak seemed to overpower a lot of the other flavors at different points yet I think I will have to revisit this one once my senses have been matured through other tastings.

Finish: Medium to long and lingering but not with too much power, it’s finish is one of my favorite yet and I can see it going very well with a dark chocolate (which I enjoyed with some Glen Rothes Select Reserve just the other day).

Overall: 5 out of 10

The Balvenie Single Barrel 15

Attempting to start from the base of what makes a single malt scotch I have purchased a bottle of Balvenie Single Barrel Single Malt 15 Year Old which as the name implies is a bottle produced from a single cask instead of a blend of multiple casks. It is aged fifteen years in American white oak second fill bourbon barrels with no introduction of any other flavors or influences with each cask producing roughly 350 bottles and it is bottled at a slightly higher ABV than most at 47.8%.

With these taken into account I figured the Balvenie 15 would give me a good idea of what the base of Scotch tastes like so that I have a sort of jumping off point for the rest, analyzing the flavors and variations in them.

Tasting notes

Nose: Reminding me a bit of a field of daisies the scent of the this 15 is extremely pleasant. It’s very inviting and warm with a mixture of flowers and wood to it.

Palate: Extremely sweet and sublime I feel like I’m enjoying a wonderful dessert drink that would go well with a large bowl of vanilla ice cream. It has a very creamy thick feeling on the tongue with sugary sweet flowers and vanilla.

Finish: Staying with me for well over 4 minutes the finish is very pleasant, it leaves this hint of pungent candy with you.

Overall: Being so incredibly pure and sweet it makes me anxious to try the other offerings from The Balvenie as this is a Scotch I can see myself enjoying for years to come, I cannot exclaim enough how sweet this Scotch is and I am looking forward to trying it with several different desserts.