Connemara Peated Irish Whiskey

Connemara Peated Irish Whiskey 40% ABV
Light peat, a rubbing alcohol note, some vanilla sweetness, a little barley, some additional syrupy floral sweetness. Moderate malt.
Faint earthy peat, a gentle cinnamon warmth, thick, viscous mouthfeel, malty.
Warming but quickly fades, not much peat on the finish except at the edges of the maltiness. Faintly medicinal.
There’s just not much to this at all. It’s uninteresting. There’s nothing here that’d cause me to order this, but there’s nothing offensive either. It just is.

Word is that Connemara’s peated whiskey has been improving somewhat since earlier batches. I’m not impressed with it yet. If anything it shows that peat requires some skill to integrate into a good whiskey.

Bulleit Bourbon (45% ABV)

Nose:  Light notes of caramel and white pepper. A slight undertone of celery root. Light cinnamon, a trace of brown sugar and nutmeg. Very low level vanilla; an element of the nose sits on the cusp of piney young rye and mere solvent.
Light, a bit of vanilla. Some astringent wood. A bit of caramel. Faint orange and cinnamon.
Cinnamon up front with a bit of rye. Vanilla and citrus after, with white pepper asserting itself later on. 
It lacks cohesiveness on the palate. The nose is pleasant enough aside from the funky earthy bitter note. Beyond that it’s quite light and forgettable. Not bad, not particularly good. Very middle of the road. There’s nothing bad about this one, there’s nothing that really draws me to it. It doesn’t have much to say. 

Single Oak Project – Quick Notes

As some people have found, I’ve added a condensed scorecard page with the ratings of all Single Oak bottlings I’ve had to date. If you are trying to figure out if the bottle on the shelf is any good (at least, according to me), I hope it’s useful.

Also a note for my LA based friends – The Wine House has a large selection of the Single Oaks on their shelves right now. I’ve seen a mix of release one and release two. If you’ve wanted to try one – or better still to split one among friends (they can be odd) – this is an easy time to pick one up. If you’re not in LA, unfortunately Wine House doesn’t ship spirits.

Single Oak Project release 3 will be reviewed shortly after I receive it. Stay tuned, as always.

Eagle Rare 17y (Fall 2010) – 45%

Nose:  Vanilla, wood, light caramel, a definite solvent edge to the alcohol, a little light apple and faint apricot. Some molasses and dust.
Palate:  Wood intially, mildly bitter and astringent, medium-heavy mouthfeel, virtually no burn, a vaguely salty sweetness, some later vanilla and fruit. Light rye spice.
Finish:  Light, somewhat spirity, medium finish, bringing the fruit up. A little rye.
Comment:  It doesn’t stack up nor really rate against the rest of 2010′s BTAC. It’s a fine whiskey, doesn’t really merit the price . Unfocused and lacking real complexity. Thin and a bit of a mess.
Rating: C+

Rather than integrating this into the 2011 post, I wanted to provide these notes for reference on the 2010 whiskey which was markedly inferior.

Aberlour A’bunadh – Batch 32 (60.4%)

Nose:    Sherry, oak, some pepper, light orange and fruitcake type note, a vague hint of brown sugar. Diluted to approximately 40% the dried fruit becomes a little more pronounced, the sherry is drier, some oak and vanilla.
Palate:  Warm on the palate, sherry and raisin notes, building heat, a little orange, oak. Medium bodied. After dilution much easier on the palate, raisins continue to be dominant, a little hint of grass after the rain and a slight brine. Not very warming.
Finish: Continually warming, medium, more wood and diminishing sherry. Moderate finish. After dilution it’s much creamier, a little shorter on the finish, with more wood evident with some shades of plum and cherry.
Rating: C+

The notes on this one don’t sound unpleasant – very straightforward sherried whisky. However, to me it was overwhelmingly one-dimensionally wearing its sherry influence and had virtually nothing to balance it out. It’s a different type of strong sherry than a Dalmore or Macallan – the former tends towards raisiny and the latter just smells like.. sherry… and whisky. Add to this a bunch of heat due to being bottled at cask strength (and no doubt, its youth as a NAS whisky) and this is not a bottle I’d go back to. Perhaps current batches (I’ve seen #36 on the shelf) have moved toward a more  balanced profile. Only time will tell.

Bunnahabhain 12 year old 40% (old style)

Nose:   Moderatly briny, malty, with notes of hay and grain and a little peat, faintly floral.
Palate: Rich, syrupy, oily mouthfeel; gentle warming and malt flavors, green grass, lightly dusty, and a hint of white pepper.
Finish: Slow, gentle, lingering with the peat and malt coming back; some grain.
Comment:  This is not a big whiskey – it’s a mild, gentle, malty, relaxing drink that would seem like an older Banff or Glencraig with a little more pep. It’s totally enjoyable for what it is but it’s not something that will stick in taste memory for a long time.
Rating: B

Of note, this bottling has been discontinued for a stronger (46%) version. Word is that it’s improved and more intense, if that’s your thing. At 40% this older version is a supremely easy drinker and it’s very possible that you might be able to find it for a great price. Keep your eyes open.

Laphroaig 10 Year (43%)

Nose:   Strongly medicinal, a baked and almost biscuity undertone, bacon, hint of wood.
Palate:  Briny, smoky, peat, smooth, gentle on the palate, more medicinal and some bacony flavors.
Finish:   Slow, languid, delightfully medicinal becoming more smoky and peaty, a recurrence of brine.
Comment:  It’s a can’t-miss Islay. You’ll either love it or hate it. I love it.
Don’t be in a rush with this one in the bottle – it develops nicely over a couple months, with the bacon note increasing after a while, and then even later it becomes incredibly creamy and rich.
Rating: B