Talisker 10 Year Old Scotch – Review

Talisker 10 Year Old ScotchTalisker 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

91.6 Proof

Price Point: $45 – $55 for 750 ML

Distiller: Talisker Distillery



As you may recall, in one of my first reviews, I mentioned my first experience with Scotch whisky.  I was in my parents’ basement and my dad was exposing me to various Scotches, starting with the Highlands and Speysides and working our way to the Maritime varieties.  Ardbeg was the finale, but before that, I had to overcome Talisker.  To my untrained palate, Talisker was no walk in the park – further evidence that whiskey is an acquired taste that transforms negative flavors into positive ones.



Talisker is the only whisky distilled on the Isle of Skye, an island West of the Highlands region of Scotland and well far North of Islay.  However, Talisker embodies a lot of the peat and smoke of Islay whiskies despite its geographic differences.  It’s a bit more refined, and even has a slight hint of sherry on the nose.

In the mouth, there’s a touch of peat, but not overwhelming like Ardbeg or Laphroaig.  There’s also the familiar malty taste of a Speyside whisky and the ease of drinking of a Highland.  Talisker is a wonderful blend of the best qualities of Scotland’s whiskies.

I really like the finish.  A little smoke, a little oak, and a little bit of tingling on the back end.  Very nice.


Rating & Recommendations

Since my first exposure to Scotch, my taste buds have adapted, and I appreciate good whiskey at long last.  Talisker 10 Year Old is easily one of my favorites, which is why I rate it 90 out of 100.

I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but drink this stuff neat!

I don’t give out a whole lot of 90 ratings or above, so clearly Talisker is right up there for me.  If you think you have similar tastes to mine, go out and get yourself a bottle.



Blanton’s Bourbon – Review

Blanton's BourbonBlanton’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

93 Proof

Price Point: $45 – $55 for 750 ML

Distiller: Blanton Distilling Company



Taken from the center-cut or middle sections of the famous Warehouse H, Blanton’s Original was once designated for ambassadors, dignitaries, and Colonel Blanton’s family and friends.  Today, everyone has access to the world’s first single barrel bourbon.

This came straight from Blanton’s website, and I think this says it all.  What was once reserved for the upper crust of society is now available for even us lowly peasants.  And Blanton’s sure tastes like it’s a cut above the rest, so I can’t help but think that it’s too good for me.



Mmm . . . bourbon.  That’s about all I need to say about the nose of Blanton’s.  This is pure Kentucky goodness right from the get-go.

Blanton’s really shines straight from the first sip.  Lots of vanilla sweetness with a bit of a wheat taste despite it not showing up in the mash bill.  No distinguishable rye present as far as I can tell, which is perfect for my taste!  Seems similar to Buffalo Trace, although higher proof and smoother.

The finish is really nice.  Just a slight burn with a side of vanilla.


Rating & Recommendations

I really enjoy Blanton’s, and to me this is one bourbon worth the hefty price tag.  I give this whiskey a rating of 89 out of 100.

Enjoy this stuff neat; you’re paying for a quality drink so don’t water it down!

Blanton’s is a bourbon that everyone should have in their liquor cabinet.  Share it with someone who appreciates good whiskey.  Don’t waste it on amateurs.



Brugal 1888 Rum – Review

Brugal 1888 RumBrugal 1888 Ron Gran Reserva Familiar (Rum)

76 Proof

Price Point: $45 – $55 for 750 ML (700 ML pictured)

Distiller: Brugal & Co.



We can’t drink whiskey all the time, right?  That’s why rum exists!  Although whiskey is, and more than likely always will be, my go-to drink, I do enjoy mixing it up with rum once in a while.

Just ten short months ago, my wife and I celebrated our honeymoon in Punta Cana.  I had tried Bacardi, Sailor Jerry, the Kraken, and an assortment of other rum portfolios, but I had never tried Dominican rum.  The two main players down there are Barcelo and Brugal, each with a unique set of expressions from very cheap to ultra-premium.  During one of our excursions, we were invited to visit a store with a very large assortment of rums.  I wanted to bring something very special home, so we sprung for the most expensive bottle, at a huge cost of $40!  Brugal 1888 was that bottle, and it certainly is special.



The nose on this rum immediately sets it apart.  Rather than the typical cane sugar aroma of most rums, Brugal 1888 has the nose of a well-aged, oaky bourbon.

The taste of this stuff is just as impressive as the nose, with the expected coconut characteristic of a Caribbean rum and the unexpected taste of oak and vanilla.  Brugal 1888 has a little bit of a bite, but overall it’s pretty smooth, which is expected because of its age and relatively low proof.

The bite is relatively brief on the finish, but the flavors stick around for a little while.


Rating & Recommendations

Brugal 1888 is a really spectacular rum, which is why I wanted it to be the first that I reviewed.  I give it a rating of 91 out of 100 from me.

Something of this quality should be enjoyed neat; no exceptions.

If you’re looking for the best rum for your money, give Brugal 1888 a try.  You won’t be disappointed.



The Peat Monster Scotch – Review

Peat Monster ScotchThe Peat Monster Malt Scotch Whisky

92 Proof

Price Point: $50 – $60 for 750 ML

Distiller: Compass Box Whisky Co.



I first heard about The Peat Monster from reading Malt Advocate (now known as Whisky Advocate).  It was in the reviews section in the back, and did pretty well according to John Hansell and company.  I found it a little ridiculous that there was actually a Scotch called The Peat Monster.  There was no picture of the bottle or label, so I could only assume that it was “cartoony” and mis-representative of the classiness of the Scotch world (I mean, c’mon – The Peat Monster?).

However, several months later, I got the chance to try this expression at Whiskey Fest 2011 and, I have to say, I was surprised at just how good it was!



The nose is . . . peaty.  But not overly offensive.  Don’t get me wrong, I love peated whiskies.  But this one has more than just peat, even for a whisky named The Peat Monster.  There’s some oak and malt on the nose.

In the mouth, it’s very oily.  Definitely a lot of peat, but it’s not overwhelming.  The oak comes back for a little bit here, as well.

The finish is like a campfire; nice and smoky.  The perfect finish to a really well-balanced Scotch.


Rating & Recommendations

The Peat Monster really surprised me, both in its package and its complexity.  I give this Scotch a rating of 90 out of 100.

I’ve been told before that Whiskey Disks are good for taming peated Scotches, so feel free to try them out with this stuff.  However, this whisky is very enjoyable neat.

If you’re into peated Scotches (and even if you’re not), I would recommend trying The Peat Monster.



Basil Hayden’s Bourbon – Review

Basil Hayden's BourbonBasil Hayden’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

80 Proof

Price Point: $35 – $45 for 750 ML

Distiller: Kentucky Springs Distilling Co.



For those unaware, Basil Hayden’s is part of Jim Beam’s Small Batch Collection, with the other expressions being Baker’s, Knob Creek, and Booker’s.  They are each unique in their own way with various ages and mash bills.  They also differ in their package representation, with Basil Hayden’s having a unique paper label sticking out toward the neck.  As I said in my review of Michter’s Unblended American, sometimes all it takes for my wife and I to buy a whiskey is a unique bottle.



The nose on this bourbon is a bit harsh, with a lot of rye.  Not the most pleasant at all.  The bottle states that the whiskey is aged eight years, but it smells a bit younger.

Basil Hayden’s doesn’t improve all that much once you get the whiskey in your mouth.  My first taste was soap.  That’s right, like a bar of soap.  There’s a lot of rye in this too, probably making up most of the balance from the corn.  To my tastes, this is a seriously flawed whiskey.

The finish is pretty pathetic, too, with a little burn and not much flavor.


Rating & Recommendations

Okay, I had some high expectations for Basil Hayden’s (especially since I am a fan of its small batch brothers).  But, it’s going to earn a 69 out of 100 from me.

Have some fun with this one.  Even when you’re shelling out $30+ for it, try it with some unique mixers.  Who knows, it could improve.

Basil Hayden’s was a pretty disappointing bourbon for me.  For this much money, you’re much better off looking elsewhere.



Glenfiddich 12 Year Old Scotch – Review

Glenfiddich 12 Year Old ScotchGlenfiddich 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

80 Proof

Price Point: $30 – $40 for 750 ML

Distiller: The Glenfiddich Distillery



I chanced upon Glenfiddich back in November of last year.  I was shopping for my wife for her birthday, and was browsing the Scotch section of the liquor store for something we had not previously tried.  I noticed a box set for Glenfiddich 12 Year Old, complete with a 750 ML bottle, a tasting notes diary, and a Glencairn crystal nosing glass (the same one pictured in this post).  It was relatively inexpensive, so I took a risk and bought it.  If I didn’t enjoy the whisky, at least I would get the other two trinkets out of it.



The nose on this whisky is kind of boring.  There’s some oak, but it’s just kind of toned down.  It seems kind of like a reserved little brother of Glenlivet 12 Year Old.

If the nose was underwhelming, the taste is . . . also kind of underwhelming.  There’s some oak in there initially with a little leather to make things interesting.  No noticeable peat or fruit or anything else that I enjoy in a good Scotch.

The finish is brief.  Comparatively, it shouldn’t be any surprise after the nose and taste.


Rating & Recommendations

Glenfiddich 12 Year Old is really not my kind of Scotch.  Unfortunately, I have to give this Scotch a rating of 71 out of 100.

I still don’t recommend ever mixing Scotch with anything, but you’re probably safe adding some ice to this one if that’s your thing.

I’m really not a fan of Glenfiddich 12 Year Old.  I have tried the 15 and 18 Year Old expressions, and they absolutely improve on this one, so don’t judge the distillery too harshly.



The Dalmore 12 Year Old Scotch – Review

Dalmore 12 Year Old ScotchThe Dalmore 12 Year Old Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky

80 Proof

Price Point: $40 – $50 for 750 ML

Distiller: Dalmore Distillery



The Dalmore 12 Year Old is another bottle of Scotch that was given as a gift to me from my dad.  I didn’t know much about this brand, but it was free so why complain?

When it comes to whiskey received as a gift, I think it gets thrown into a realm separate from whiskey purchased by yourself.  It’s only natural to value something you spent your own hard-earned money on a little bit more than something you didn’t spend a penny on.  The Dalmore is one of those whiskies I didn’t immediately find all that interesting, but I certainly do now.



Wow!  The nose on this whisky is incredible.  My kind of Scotch!  Maple syrup takes center stage here, followed by cinnamon and pears.  A lot complexity right from the get-go, which really speaks volumes about the Dalmore.  Somewhat reminiscent of the Macallan Fine Oak 10 Year Old, only much more interesting.

The first swig has a lot of malt flavor, as well as oak.  The fruit highlighted in the nose is toned down dramatically on the tongue.  Mild sherry here as well.

A medium, dry finish is in store for you with the Dalmore.


Rating & Recommendations

The Dalmore 12 Year Old is a really good Scotch, worthy of a rating of 85 out of 100.

This whisky is made for very smooth, easy drinking.  Enjoy it neat, sipped slowly.

All in all, I really enjoy this Scotch, and I would recommend it to anybody who enjoys complex whisky.



Old Forester Bourbon – Review

Old Forester BourbonOld Forester Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky

86 Proof

Price Point: $15 – $25 for 750 ML

Distiller: Brown-Forman Distillers Co.



Old Forester is one of those whiskeys you see on the shelf pretty often but never think to pick up.  The price point is average, the packaging is average, and so on and so forth.  It’s a Brown-Forman product (as I stated in a previous blog post), sharing its roots with Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve.

For me, it was one of those purchase decisions solely based on trying something new.  A risk like that has the potential to end in a pleasant surprise or an unfortunate waste of money.



The nose on Old Forester is pretty standard for a bourbon.  There’s a good amount of corn and oak here.  A little harsh, but that’s probably because of its youth.

The nose compares pretty close to the taste.  High corn and oak.  A little smoother on the tongue than the nose.  There’s nothing too remarkable about the taste.  Again, pretty standard for a bourbon.

There’s a decent length on the finish with a little bit of spiciness.


Rating & Recommendations

I’m really not a huge fan of Old Forester, but there’s nothing in particular about this bourbon that I’m opposed to.  I give this brand a rating of 73 out of 100.

I’m really not sure how to recommend drinking this.  It certainly has enough flavor to be drunk neat, but I’d say it would be just as good on ice or with a mixer.  Feel free to experiment.

Old Forester is a decent bourbon; no big complaints or praises from me.



Why Do We Blog?

Whiskey BottleAs I spend more and more time and energy on whiskey-reviews.com, I have to step back and ask myself the simple question – why do I do it?

People blog for a limitless number of reasons; boredom, necessity to express themselves, maintaining one’s ego, sharing thoughtful content, keeping up with friends and family, etc.  I’ve come to realize that, while I blog for parts of all of these reasons, I’m not quite doing it for the reason that I started – my own enjoyment.  In order to satisfy the SEO gods (Google), I do my best to provide consistent, rich content.  Sometimes that means writing when I really don’t feel like writing.  When that happens, I’m both cheating myself as well as you, the reader.  I would hope that you come here to read well thought-out and researched blog posts, but I fear that I haven’t always been providing them.

That being said, I’m going to indefinitely slow down on the Wednesday “Whiskey Trivia” blog posts.  Those posts will only be published when I truly feel the need to say something, not when I feel that I have to.  I will still be posting reviews every Saturday – no problem with those!

I always want to provide useful information for my readers, but my priority with this blog is myself.  I hope you all can understand that.




Johnnie Walker Red Label Scotch – Review

Johnnie Walker Red Label Blended ScotchJohnnie Walker Red Label Blended Scotch Whisky

80 Proof

Price Point: $20 – $30 for 750 ML

Distiller: John Walker & Sons Limited



It’s amazing what marketing can do.  Bad marketing can turn superior products into inferior products.  Good marketing can do just the opposite.  Of course, the ideas of “superior” and “inferior” are entirely subjective, so of course everything written below is entirely my opinion.

That said, Johnnie Walker is one of those products with great marketing, but not such a great product.  It’s a blended Scotch whisky, lacking the body and complexity of a single malt.

At the end of my final semester of college, a group of students in one of my classes were discussing a gift for our professor.  A bottle of Johnnie Walker quickly became one of the front-runners and, being the novice at the time, I fully endorsed this idea.  So basically a bunch of twenty-something year old college students assumed that a bottle of Johnnie Walker would be a suitable gift for a professor who enjoyed Scotch.  In hindsight, I’m pretty glad we never followed through on the idea.



Red Label’s nose is just plain bad.  It smells thin, with little to no interesting aromas present.

The taste is watery; like it’s been pre-diluted more than just the distillers bringing the proof down.  There’s a pretty dull blend of unremarkable Scotch qualities in Johnnie Walker Red.  A little peat, a little fruit, etc.  Other than that, no real recognizable flavors are present, at least none worth mentioning here!

The finish is just about as exciting as the nose and taste.


Rating & Recommendations

I’m not at all impressed with Johnnie Walker Red Label.  I rate it a 62 out of 100.

One of the beautiful things about whiskey is that even the bad brands serve a purpose.  You can enjoy Johnnie Walker Red as a refreshment on ice, or even as a guinea pig for cocktail experimentation.

If commercials and uninformed word-of-mouth have influenced you to view Johnnie Walker as a premium whisky, you clearly haven’t had enough experience!