Archive for August, 2009


I recently purchased miniature (50ml) bottles of Chivas Regal 12, The Glenlivet 12, and Glenfiddich 12 so that I could compare the three and see if any one of them stands out as an entry level value for a “light” whisky. When I call them “entry level” whiskies, I mean that in two ways. First is price. I can get Chivas for $20 and the ‘livet for $26. The ‘fiddich 12 has gone up recently in Phoenix, and now goes for $35, but it used to be closer to the Glenlivet. The other way you might consider these to be entry level whiskies is in the approachability of the flavor. All three are very light drinks, and are significantly less imposing on scotch newbies than, say, something from Islay. For this comparison, I was especially curious about the Chivas Regal 12 given the lower price (at least locally), and wondered if it could stand up to the single malts.

Three miniatures

Three miniatures

Tasting notes

On the nose, all three start out at with a common base of apples and pairs, with the Chivas perhaps offering up some peaches as well. All three are also sweet, but they diverge here, with Glenfiddich reminding me of brown sugar, Chivas Regal being more caramel/butterscotch, and the Glenlivet having a lighter honey sweetness. The Glenlivet also stands out as being more floral (and a bit more lively) than the other two. The Glenfiddich seems to have a maltiness, and perhaps a little bit of mixed nuts that I didn’t notice in the others.

The palate is pretty tame for all three. The Glens retained their fruit flavor, and the malty flavor from the Glenfiddich nose is evident in the mouth for both. The Chivas Regal seems to be more on the sweet side in the mouth, with the caramel/butterscotch continuing. I’m also getting what I perceive to be a walnut-like bitterness with both the Glenfiddich and the Chivas. Once again, I feel like The Glenlivet is just a touch more lively, with the Chivas being the weakest.

On the finish, there’s nothing to write home about for any of these. The finish just isn’t where it’s at for these whiskies. Once again, the Chivas is the weakest. It just goes away as soon as you swallow it. The malt flavor on the two Glens comes up through the nostrils a bit, as does the floral element on the Glenlivet.


As you might have guessed from my notes, I didn’t find any of these to be “remarkable.” However, that doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I thought all three were very pleasant on the nose, and they were extremely easy to drink. All three have a very light profile that makes them suitable for any time of day. Being into whisky as a hobby, I’ve got a pretty good stock at home, and I don’t plan to rush out and buy any of these. However, if I find myself killing time in an airport lounge some afternoon, I won’t hesitate to order any of these three easy drinkers.

I don’t intend to fill out full “Quick Take” report cards for these three. Especially since I only have miniatures, so I can’t do extensive, multi-day analysis. However, these fit perfectly into the C+/B- range in my rating system. They’re enjoyable drinks, but somewhat forgettable. Based on palate/finish, the Chivas is the most quickly forgotten. For my tastes, the Glenlivet stood out slightly above the others just because it seemed a little more lively and interesting. I’ll go ahead and throw out some rating numbers and notes on value:

  • Chivas Regal 12 – 79/100 (Value: Seems like a good deal at $20, but I’d shell out the extra $7 for the Glenlivet)
  • Glenfiddich 12 – 80/100 (Value: Not sure what the deal is with the current local price. For $5 more, I’d definitely purchase the 15 year over this)
  • The Glenlivet 12 – 81/100 (Value: Hard to go wrong with this at $27)

Other opinions

Rather than posting a bunch of links for all three whiskies, I’ll just point you to a YouTube video review for each one. You won’t have any problem finding other opinions with a Google search.

  • The Glenlivet 12 [IslayScotchWhisky]
  • Glenfiddich 12 [ralfystuff] – Ralfy also reviewed The Glenlivet 12 here.
  • Chivas Regal 12 [peatluvr]

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Here’s a new press release from Bruichladdich announcing the release of Organic 2003 “Culblair Farm” edition, with a UK Retail price of £39. It’s bottled at 46%, and there will be 15,000 bottles made available. It says “Anns An T-seann Doigh” on the label, which is Gaelic for “in the traditional way.” All of the barley used is Scottish grown, with 50% produced at 15 farms on Islay. I’m not completely sure what to make of this one, but it will be interesting to see the reviews.

Would the fact that it’s organic and uses Scottish-grown (and lots of Islay-grown) barley influence your buying decision?

Organic Developments for Islay Distiller

The first ever organic Islay single malt whisky has been released to coincide with the opening of a new island barley facility for farmers and Bruichladdich distillery.

Bruichladdich has released the world’s first organic Islay single malt whisky on the day the Hebridean island’s first grain facility opened  – in time for this year’s barley harvest.

This is the ultimate “single”, single malt (single farm, harvest, variety and vintage) distilled from Chalice barley grown by William Rose at Culblair in summer of 2003.

This first organic bottling represents the direction Bruichladdich has been going since it was reopened in 2001. Unparalleled Scottish provenance, quality, variety and traceability.

Duncan McGillivray, manager of the privately-owned distillery, said: “it’s the way is used to be – ultimate authenticity – real people, real places, real character. That’s what we’re about”

All Bruichladdich whisky is naturally bottled at the distillery in the island’s only bottling hall at 46% alc/vol with Islay spring water – chill-filtration and colouring-free.

The Octofad facility (weighbridge, unloading area, drying house and storage) means each of the 15 Islay farm’s harvests can be kept separate until ready for malting later in the year.

“Being able to dry our barley “off the field” makes harvesting logistics less frantic, less risky and more efficient. With the current poor weather it is not a moment too soon”

“Environmentally too, by trucking one load of ‘green’ barley to the maltings at Bairds, and returning with one load of ‘malted’ barley means less of a footprint.”

“We’re very proud; it’s the culmination of a great team effort. People thought we were mad, perhaps we are, but the taste makes it all worth while; the proof is in the pudding.”

Bruichladdich Organic 2003

Bruichladdich Organic 2003

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Hot on the heals heels [Doh!] of the Port Charlotte PC8 release, Mark Reynier has sent out this press release for Infinity 3. This is another multi-vintage release, like the 3D3 that I recently reviewed. It’s bottled at 50%, and is said to have a slightly higher peating level than the Infinity 2 release, which I believe was in the 18-20 ppm range. So this is not going to be as peaty as the 3D3, and certainly not as peaty as PC8, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just different. I’m back to wanting a nice sampler of these latest Bruichladdich releases. 🙂

If you happen upon this page and have tried either of the first two Infinity releases, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

To Infinity and Beyond

Infinity was created to showcase the great length of palate associated with Bruichladdich. This bottling, the third in the series, makes the ideal digestif.

Jim McEwan, Bruichladdich’s head distiller, started his whisky career 45 years ago as a cooper rising to be master of that trade; he knows all there is to know about casks.

That knowledge, together with his renown distilling experience, has led to the creation of Infinity 3, from casks specifically chosen out of over 35,000 maturing in our warehouses.

Quercus Alba, better known as American oak, is the standard for Bourbon production then whisky aging.  But unusually, in this case, the association is not US but entirely with Spain.

Only Spanish grown Quercus Alba – refill Sherry and Ribero (tempranillo) casks – were used for this multi-vintage Bruichladdich, drawn from several ages, styles and peat levels.

The peatiness has been upped slightly over the two original bottlings, stocks of which are now exhausted. This is a general release, stocks are expected to last until 2011/12.

The brief for this decidedly personal cuvée was to produce a complex, multi-layered malt with a provocatively infinite finish: the ideal digestif dram – mellow, rich, spice and fruit.

Infinity 3 - Multi-vintage release

Infinity 3 - Multi-vintage release

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I’ve been reading up on iPhone development, and finally got around to creating something this weekend instead of just reading about it. It’s a pretty simple application, which is good, as it will allow me to get experience with the end-to-end iPhone App Development process fairly quickly. The purpose of Easy ABVs (as in “Alcohol by Volume”) is to help me quickly calculate how much alcohol I’m taking in (and keep myself in check), and to determine how much water to add in order to bring a whisky down to a particular ABV. I got the basic application working this weekend. I still need to make it “pretty”, and hook up the settings tab.

UPDATE: I’ve posted a Part 2 with pictures and details of my cleaned-up application. I’ve handed it out to a few people, but haven’t gone through the effort of putting it on the App Store, as I’m not sure it would appeal to a whole lot of people. I do use it now and then…mainly to figure out final ABV when adding water to a cask-strength whisky, or to figure out how much water to add so that I’m comparing at the same ABV in a head-to-head tasting.

Functionality and design

Easy ABVs Preview

Easy ABVs Preview

I want to be able to enter in the ABV of a whisky and the size of a pour, and immediately see how much pure alcohol I’m going to be taking in. In addition to having text boxes for data entry, I wanted to provide sliders. This way I can do everything one-handed using my thumb to control the application. With the sliders, I can also play around with different values easily, and scan the results as they’re updated in real time. I mean really…how much am I going to use this thing if I have to set my drink down to use it, or if it takes me a while to enter the data? 🙂

I started out with the original ABV and volume at the top, as these are the starting data points for the calculations. It makes visual sense to go from top to bottom, right? The problem with this is that my hand ends up being over the bottom of the screen while I’m setting the values, and I have to move it to see the results. I decided it was much more useable with the data entry at the bottom and the output at the top. I also added a “swap” button next to the “Add Water” text box. This moves the Add Water value up into the calculations panel and the Final ABV down to the data entry area. Now I can select a specific ABV and have the application calculate how much water to add.

Next step

Next weekend, I’ll look into creating a background image for the calculations panel (I wish I had at least a LITTLE artistic talent). I also need to create the settings tab view. I want to allow customization of the min/max ranges of the sliders, and the default values. I thought I’d also add support for switching between US and UK modes, with the US mode showing proof and US drink units. I also want to go through the process of trying to add it into the App Store, just to see what that experience is like. I’ll post an update when I’ve completed the application.

Video Demo

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Press release from Bruichladdich

This just came from Mark Reynier at Bruichladdich. I was impressed with Bruichladdich 3D3 (bottled in 2006) in my recent review, but thought it was a wee bit youthful. This just might be the peated Bruichladdich to win me over, and it’s available now from major online UK retailers. So tempting…

PC8 Wins By a Royal Mile

PC8 wins the ‘Spirit of Whisky Fringe’ award.

The annual Whisky Fringe tasting, organised by Royal Mile Whiskies, took place last weekend at the old church of Mansfield Traquair during the Edinburgh Festival.

Around 200 whiskies were available for tasting by members of the public and all visitors were given the chance to vote for their favourite spirit tasted over the weekend.

PC8, heavily peated Bruichladdich to the tune of 40 ppm’s worth, was voted by the general public as the Spirit of Whisky Fringe 2009, and awarded the trophy.

Bruichladdich has been well received by Edinburgh’s whisky fans. In the last three years it has won this trophy twice and came second once.

This achievement was all the more impressive as this 8 year old whisky was up against contenders that were considerably older, in some cases four times the age.

PC8 is the fourth and final release in the dramatic 6 tin image series. The picture tins, having featured the distiller, his team, Islay people, now showcase Islay’s heritage.

Ar Duthchas”, land of our fathers, portrays landmarks from Islay’s remote Rhinns peninsula, celebrating Mans’ long presence, the tangible heritage, of this special isle.

PC8, bottled on islay at 60.5%  should be compared to previous bottlings PC5, PC6 and PC7 that were rated at 95, 96 and 96.5 in the 2009 Whisky Bible by Jim Murray.

Port Charlote PC8 - Whisky Fringe award winner

Port Charlote PC8 - Whisky Fringe award winner

PC8 - Six tin designs

PC8 - Six tin designs

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John Campbell, Laphroaig distillery manager, has sent out the following email to Friends of Laphroaig. They’ll be broadcasting live from the Maker’s Mark distillery in Kentucky on September 25, 2009. You can check out previous Laphroaig Live broadcasts here.

Dear Friend of Laphroaig®:

I have been talking to you for some time about our plans for the next live broadcast. Well I am extremely excited to announce that we have finally confirmed everything and this year’s broadcast will be live from the Maker’s Mark distillery in Kentucky.

For those of you who know a lot about Laphroaig you will know that we mature our whisky in Maker’s Mark barrels so it is a fitting collaboration I think – plus it’s a bit sunnier there than here on Islay so it should be a lovely setting!

We will be holding the event on Friday, September 25, 2009 at 8:00 p.m EST.  It promises to be an enlightening and entertaining good time for you and all your whisky-loving friends.

The broadcast will last around 40 minutes and will include a live question and answer session where you will be invited to put your questions to the panel. This will include Kevin Smith- master blender for Maker’s Mark, John Hansell – author of the famous Malt Advocate and of course myself. We will also have Simon Brooking, our US Ambassador on hand to answer any questions.

Those of you who have watched our last two broadcasts will know that we very much concentrated on tasting our range. This year as we are the guests of Maker’s Mark we wanted to do something a little different. We will of course be discussing what makes the Maker’s barrels so special for us at Laphroaig (and of course tasting some of the fine spirit) but we will also be trying a few food dishes that go well with Laphroaig and Maker’s Mark and also trying our hand at some cocktails! If any of you have any suggestions on dishes or cocktails please email them into me at info@laphroaig.com with the subject line: Distillery Live Recipes and any that we decide to make will win a special prize.

Pass this email onto your friends
As you know we always ask our ‘friends’ to help us spread the word about Laphroaig. This live tasting would be the perfect way to introduce all your friends to our unique single malt so please pass it on – unlike normal whisky tastings the web can accommodate everyone!

I’ll be writing to you again in the next couple of weeks with all the confirmed details including the website address but I just wanted to get the date and time firmly in your diaries.

I look forward to ‘seeing’ you on 25th!


John Campbell
Distillery Manager

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Bruichladdich 3D3

Bruichladdich 3D3


In my attempt to remain a Stage 3 single malt fanatic, and not progress to Stage 4, I’m turning my focus more to whisky samples as a means of discovery. My local Bevmo recently stocked a 3-pack Bruichladdich sampler, containing 50 ml bottles of Rocks, Links and 3D3. I’ve tried Bruichladdich 15 year and thought it was “nice”, but I was really interested in trying these other expressions to see if they’re more interesting. Rocks and 3D3 are part of the “Multi Vintage” line of Bruichladdich malts, while the Links series is part of their “Special” line.

Bruichladdich [brook-laddie] 3D3 (third edition of 3D), released in 2006, is a single malt bottled at 46% and vatted from three different aged malts. The very first Octomore (peated at 80.5 ppm) is one of the three, making this the highest peated version of the 3D series at about 40 ppm. Port Charlotte is the other peated malt in this mix.

Note: 3D3 has been replaced by the “Peat” expression in the Bruichladdich lineup. Apparently they’ve toned down the peating level to 35 parts per million.

Tasting notes

On first nosing, I got a pretty strong “pure peat” presence, along with apples and vanilla. There’s also a cereal grain element that reminds me of some other young peated expressions I’ve tried. On second try, there’s more fruit than just apples, and it’s sweeter. It’s kind of like a mixed fruit cup.

The palate starts soft, then builds to big peat and pepper. I really like this! Take a good sized drink and it really coats the mouth nicely.

On the finish, lots of smoke and peat come up through the nostrils. Like you’re standing over a camp fire. The pepper fades fairly quickly, but the smoke lingers for a while, as long as you take a good mouthful (my first small sip disappeared quickly). I do get a little bit of an aftertaste (hay, maybe?) that I think is coming from the younger malt in this mix, and that kind of sours the great peat/smoke experience.


After my first dram, I described it as tasting like a young Ardbeg. After the second dram, with the additional sweetness and fruits coming out, it reminds me more of the BenRiach peated and finished 12 year releases. What’s special about 3D3 is the way it hits the palate fairly softly, then builds. It’s huge peat, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with it. The guys at whisky-pages.com note that Jim McEwen, the Bruichladdich master distiller, calls the 3D3 “potent, but not aggressive.” I think that’s a great way of describing it.

At $50, I’d buy a full size bottle of this. At the $70 it’s going for locally, I think my bottle of BenRiach Arumaticus Fumosus will satisfy the same craving, but without the minor “off” notes that I’m attributing to some of the youth in the 3D3. I’m putting Bruichladdich peated expressions on my watch list, though. I think they’re really on to something here with the way the peat hits the palate. I hope to buy a sample of Port Charlotte PC8 this year and compare that to my 3D3 experience. I’d say 83/100 points for this one, with the potential for other Bruichladdich peated expressions to go much higher.

Other opinions

  • WhiskyNotes.be – Great notes as always from Ruben. He also notes some youthful roughness, but gives it a good overall rating. He has a great description of the 3D3 “recipe” at the top of his post. Also read his Port Charlotte PC6 review for a comparison to 3D3.
  • whisky-pages – Good notes, good review, and that quote from Jim McEwen. A good read.
  • WHISKYFUN.COM by Serge – A great rating of 88 points. He’s obviously not bothered by the youthful aspects of this dram.

Quick Take

Laddie 3D3 Quick Take

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