Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The 140 Character Single Malt Scotch Review

It must be nice to be Jim Murray. In his annual series of  Whisky Bible books, Mr. Murray can wax poetic, on and on, about the aroma, taste and finish of single malt Scotch. I have discovered that I have a tough time translating all those sensory perceptions into flowery prose, especially if several different bottles are in, shall we say, "test mode" for the evening.

     For example, Mr. Murray says this about the Abelour 12 in his Whisky Bible:
"...just the right degree of spiciness. Silky, decisive olorosa again showing an uncanny excellence in spice; not a single off note."
My review? "Taste of farm tractor diesel."

Regarding Glenlivet 12, Mr. Murray expounds: "A surfeit of apples on nose and body. The malt is quite rich at first but thins out for the vanilla and thick toffee at the death."

Fred the future alcoholic sez: "Bland, dull, boring. On second try: no aroma, no taste, no finish. Pussy whisky."

And I keep it simple when I like a particularly delectable single malt:
"Some say La-Goo-va-lin; others say La-ga-VOO-lin. I say: Good!"

Obviously, I will never be asked to write a book-long critique of single malt Scotch. Hell, I don't even know what olorosa is!

But, my skills are perfect for that 140 character paragon of digital communication, Twitter

Here, then, are some of my single malt reviews from 2009. The good news: since they were on Twitter, it won't take long to read. "ABV" refers to "Alcohol By Volume". It's one-half of what we also know as "Proof". So, "40% abv" = 80 Proof.


Aberfeldy 12 (40% abv). Honeyed aroma, toffee finish. So-so. Short, stout bottle makes a good flower vase.

Caol Ila 18. It’s so warming it might save my citrus trees on a frosty night.

It's 10 a.m. and foggy in Sacramento; which means it's 6 p.m. & (probably) foggy in Scotland...time for a Trader Joe's Tomatin 11 !

Old Pulteney 12 (43%). I gave a nearly full bottle to a friend on his 60th birthday. Pretty bottle, though.

Cragganmore 12 (40% abv). Aroma of medicinal fruit (banana-flavored iodine?) with an afterburn.

Combination of a fine chocolate with a smoky single malt Scotch is a fine winter repast. Perhaps a Green & Black's with a Laguvalin.

Rain on the way, probably. Hold off garden irrigation. Containers beneath patio covers may like a drink, though. Make mine a Tobermory 10!

Bowmore 18 (43% abv). New to me. Ho-Hum. Faint aroma. Bowmore Legend is better. And much cheaper.


The aroma of Macallan 10 Fine Oak is reminiscent of a female natural beauty (such as my wife)...no perfume or makeup needed.

Cragganmore 12 yr (40% abv). Subtle, yet satisfying. Helped me sleep thru my wife's favorite TV show, "So You Think You Can Dance".

Tonight: Bowmore Legend? Macallan 10? Laguvalin 16? How about all three!

Glenrothes 1992 (43% abv.). Eh. Nothing special. Serve it to unwanted guests.

Some say La-Goo-va-lin; some say la-ga-VOO-lin. I say: good.

The aroma of the Bunnahabhain 12 is the perfect complement to a Saturday night in the hot tub, admiring the new landscape.

Tues Nite Scotch-Off: Cragganmore 12 vs. Isle of Jura 10. Cragganmore: upscale pussy scotch. Jura: Turns me into Jackie Gleason

Nothin' sez highland lovin' like a dram of Glenmorangie 10 (40%)...and it's a bargain at Costco!

The most aromatic, best-tasting bargains in single malt Scotch: Lismore and Finlaggan. Both under $20 at Trader Joe's.

Laguvalin 16 (43% abv). Peaty aroma, smoky taste. Very good after a well-marbled, ribeye steak.

Single Malt Scotch, desert island edition: As long as I have Macallan 10 Fine Oak (40% abv), life is good, no matter the location.

Single Malt Whiskey of the Night: St. George Lot 2 (43% abv). Made in California. My wife put it best: Not a pleasant experience.

Laphroaig 10 Years Old (55.7% abv) Original Cask Strength. Now, this IS peaty and smoky! Whiff of oak, too.

Bruichladdich 10 (46% abv). Get the one packaged with the free glass. My favorite drinking vessel!

Speyburn 10 (40% abv). Look for it on the bottom shelf at the store. A good citrus/toffee tasting bargain!

Abelour 12 (43% abv). Hint of zinfindel aroma of Lodi vineyards. Taste of farm tractor diesel.
Tamdhu 10 (40% abv). Aroma of flowering daphne, slight menthol flavor with a throat burn finish.

Ardmore Peated Quarter Cask (46% abv.), one more try: nondescript aroma, acid reflux finish.

Glenlivet 12 (40% abv). Bland, dull, boring. On second try: no aroma, no taste, no finish. Pussy whisky.

The return of Laguvalin 16. Peaty, smoky and enjoyable while watching a Dodgers playoff victory.

Fri. Nite Scotch-Off: Caol Ila 12 vs. Macallan 10 vs. Yamazaki 10 (single malt whisky from Japan). Winner by a nose: Macallan 10. Wonderful toffee! 

Glenfiddich 12 (40% abv). Aroma (subtle pear) is better than the taste or the finish. Nice bottle, though.

 Mortlach 16 yrs (43% abv). Mild yet pleasurable spicy aroma with a smooth finish. And the ladies like it!

(Not a Single Malt) Scotch of the Night: Johnnie Walker Black Label 12 Yrs (40%) abv. Devoid of aroma, bitter finish. Why bother?

Raising a glass of Macallan 10 Fine Oak for Tom Cable, coach of the Oakland Raiders, who apparently still has a job. Somehow.

Glenfiddich 18 (43% abv). The most complex of aromas I have ever sampled. Excellent. Best of all, a Christmas gift!

Top 3 Single Malt Scotch Whiskys of 2009: Macallan 10, Bunnahabhain 12, Finlaggan, Laguvalin 16. (hard to count after all that).


  1. Cragganmore is great stuff! I agree that Old Pulteney is terrible. I'd give it away too if someone gave it to me.

  2. i enjoyed your reviews. however, i have to admit that despite the fact that i like scotch, i am a college student so price plays a big role in what i buy. any chance of posting a kind of "bang for your buck" rating, or at least some estimate of prices of the whiskeys that you are rating?

  3. This post should answer a lot of your questions: