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Category Archive : Beverages Review

Bruichladdich – The Organic 2020

A wild youngster throwing elbows in the mosh pit – but also has an appreciation for ska.

  • Bruichladdich
  • 50 percent
  • Single Malt Scotch Whisky
  • Non chill filtered
  • No color added (I believe)
  • 8 year

Nose: Watermelon, banana, peach, pear, lime, over ripened melon, faint hint of cocoa, orange peel, green apple, butterscotch

Taste: Raisin, chocolate, smallest hint of tiramisu, banana, vanilla, cantaloupe

Quite a flamethrower when you first crack the bottle, but it simmers down over time as the air sorts out the temper. Its age forever locks away much smoothness, but it beams in character – suggesting that another 8 years in the cask might have maximized its potential. With a little water and patience however. it becomes quite the pleasant experience. With a complex bevy of notes to decipher on the front, and a contemplative finish that lingers.  Its simple presentation of lightness in color and no frills packaging underscores its brute confidence. 

Overall score:  6.75 out of 10

Dewars 12 Year

A prop whiskey. 

  • Dewars
  • 40 percent
  • Blended Scotch Whisky
  • Likely chill filtered
  • Likely color added
  • 12 year

Nose: Subtle hints of prune, kiwi, mango, faint bit of Elmers glue.

Taste: Extremely mild flavors with very little heat. Sweet and citrusy on the front end, tiny hint of banana and vanilla with a quick decline into general periphery with some added bitterness. 

Without question an entry level dram built for purpose. Like a White Zin, the flavors are vague beyond sweet. It is also watery. So watery in fact that I found myself wondering if it would have any negative impact on an actor who bottomed it up for a movie scene. That isn’t all that bad though. It is a whiskey with training wheels, a helmet on a treadmill. A starting line for someone to cautiously step into the world of whiskeys from. It might also be a good trainer spirit for a learning mixologist. 

Overall score: 4/10 + 1 for being a gift from family. So 5/10

Ben Bracken 40%

A slightly better than plain jane little Single Malt from the Highlands.

         Ben Bracken  ·    40 percent  ·    Single Malt  ·   Likely chill filtered  ·    Color added  ·  No age

I’ve been progressively taking scotch seriously for around ten years now. Watched Ralfy’s wonderful reviews for over five of those. I’ve toured some remarkable distilleries around Glasgow and the Isle of Arran and been to a few tasting events. Compared to someone like Ralfy, I feel this experience has netted me around maybe 10 to 12 percent of a true connoisseur’s ability to discern a good scotch from a bad one. Aside from tasting notes, focusing on the dram in both pure and watered form, and scrutinizing the label for those magic 41+ percent numbers, I always look out for respectable age statements, non chill filtration, and natural color. That’s about it. It is hard for me to home in on some of the finer tasting notes on the label or from other reviewers…but Im kinda getting there…md I don’t chew gum whilst tasting. So knowing that about me, I am happy to share my opinions about these various expressions.

Ben Bracken does not have any of the abovementioned qualifications on its label. It is vey much colored, pegged at 40 percent, has no age statement and almost certainly chill filtered. To make matters worse – I jumped into this bottle at the same time I was experiencing Ledaig 10 year (a Ralfy favorite), which is a superb single malt with peat perfectly balanced to allow access to its fantastic depth of spicey flavors.

Ben was given to me for my Birthday by my father-in-Law and brother-in-Law. While this is adds a bit of bias in my review – I will try to remain as objective as possible. Its not bad, but it isn’t especially good either…but, as I have noticed with many other bottles – it does get better as the bottle ages after opening.

Nose: glue, light citrus, prunes, chocolate

Taste: Tiny notes of nuts, chocolate, hint of vanilla, very little finish.

Initially, I was underwhelmed by the experience. It felt like it was pulled off a production line before it was even complete. I think this is largely to do with how fast the flavors dissipate after they hit the tongue. The initial taste is the arrival, and the finish happens with an abrupt stutter, and flattens out into a somewhat bitter aftertaste. The flavors – during their short glow – offer a few pleasant notes of that sweet highland charm that we all expect from this region – but just cant hold it quite long enough. In other words, the expression was clouded by noise and distraction. However, I received this bottle in May, and I finished it in October – and I have to say, throughout this timespan I found the bottle to become a bit smoother and settled. The sweet end became little sweeter, lasted a little longer, and the overall experience a little friendlier on the palette. It sort of hit some of the bases that scotch drinker looks for – but none of them particularly well. It is a scotch for folks who like the concept of scotch whisky, have a limited knowledge of it, and use affordability as the guiding light. It is also for folks that are out to buy a gift for a scotch drinker.  Would I personally go out and purchase this? No. Would I recommend it? Not really. Would I say its not worth trying? No, not at all. It might even make a good base to mix in a better single malt with to prolong the superior bottle – but I suspect there are better choices out there for this purpose. Is it an okay scotch, further heightened as a gift from family, that was a pleasurable experience for me on that merit alone?


RedBreast 12 Year

Fruity, zesty, bright and light, easy to drink with little bite.

Purchased from the House of Malt onn the 27th of September of 2021. Finished this evening, on the 29th of April 2022. Price was 42.40 GBP.

Region: Ireland                              ABV: 4o%

Expressions also enjoyed during this time were Arran 10 year, Glengoyne 18, Arran Barrel Reserve, Chivas Regal XV Balmain, and Arran Cream Liquor.

Pros: Tropical overtones. Easy on the tongur with just enough heat. Few flavors to unpack make this a terrific bottle to devlop a palate with. 
Cons: Was not the same dram at the end of the bottle as it was at the beginning. First pull was not impressive, yet last pull was stellar. This was over six months, Not sure which flavrou RedBreast was going for. 

Nose: Lemony candy, seasalt, fresh fruit
Taste: Orange peel, ripe melon, peach, tiny bit of butterscotch. No need to add water to its 40 percent ABV. 
Finish: A nice long finish that moves from the citrusy tang to very faint, yet perfectly satisfying cholocate creamy coconut.   

Additional notes: This bottle has really suprised me over the several months of pulling off it. When I first popped it I thought it was a bit too ordinary, with a very average overall whisky tone. However, the time in the bottle has really opened this dram into a delightful experience, with all sorts of flavours having come out of the woodwork, and all of them very chummy with the taste buds. RedBreast is also a pot still whisky from Ireland. 

Dram Rating:

GlenAllarchie 12 Single Malt

Condensed medley of pleasing sweet, darker flavors that come into their own after a bit of water and rest.

Purchased from the House of Malt website in October of 2021 and opened about a month or so later. Finished this evening, on the 26th of April 2022. Price was 40.95 GBP.

Region: Speyside                                              ABV: 46%

Expressions also enjoyed during this time were Arran 10 year, Glengoyne 18, Arran Barrel Reserve, Chivas Regal XV Balmain, and Arran Cream Liquor.

Pros: Pops with chocolatey depth at the forefront. Nonchill filtered, beautiful rich natural color. A flagship bottle at the price point.
Cons: Alcohol nip is just tad on the hot side. Finish isnt fully defined.

Nose: A deep prominance of fudgy chocolate, rum balls, tinges of caramel, vanilla, raisin, with an upper hint of Creme Brûlée.
Taste: Flora, chocolate and raisin, vanilla. Adding a bit of water brings about sugar cone, oily and rich. The proof let’s itself be known, with a stingy bite on the back of the tongue even with a few drops of water.
Finish: Overipened fruit with a biterness in the resolve, dry, lingering notes of banana after several minutes of breathing,   

Additional notes: One of Ralfy’s whiskies of the year and purchased purely on that merit. A delightfully engaging intoduction into the speyside region of scotch whisky. When contrasted with Arran 10 year (another Ralfy favorite), the GlenAllarchie 12 has more bottom end to its flavour profile, where the Arran is more trebley on top. 

Dram Rating:

Glengoyne 18 Single Malt

A pleasurable experience on the front end, but falls a bit short in the rear.

Purchased at the Glengoyne distillery in August of 2021. Opened early 2022, and finished on the 25th of April 2022. Price was apx 140 GBP.

Expressions also enjoyed during this time were Arran 10 year, GlenAllarchie 15, Arran Barrel Reserve, Chivas Regal XV Balmain, and Arran Cream Liquor.

Pros: Festive and warm with friendly character.
Cons: Chill filtered, color added, pricey for what it delivers

Nose: Light vanilla, raisin, light citrus
Taste: Chocolate, christmas spices, sweet, a distant, slight peatiness, marangue
Finish: Bitter, dry, with a touch of oily lemon on the upper register, seems incomplete as it falls rapidly.

Additional notes: Located just outside of Glasgow, the beautiful Glengoyne distillery is small and intimate. The staff are lovely and the tour is informative and memorable. The drive to the distillery passes through beautiful scottish countryside and quaint chocolate box towns along the way. The distillery also sits right between the Highand/Lowland regions, with the road to get there dividing the two. In fact, the warehouse sits across the road from the distillery, making Glengoyne a scotch made in the highlands and aged in the lowlands.

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