Tag Archives: scotch

anCnoc Blas

anCnoc Blas

anCnoc is not a scotch I’ve had before, and I recently had an opportunity to pair their Blas bottling with a Hiram and Solomon Traveling Man cigar.

Blas is a collaboration between anCnoc (pronounced uh-knock) and Scottish fashion designer Patrick Grant, which is why the label is so stunningly designed, plus you may get a bonus pocket-hankie as I did, too (pictured above).

Make no mistake, this is a sweet and balanced scotch. A straw-colored highland whisky, Blas is caramely with a potent ABV of 54%. It has notes of vanilla bean and custard a slight rear palate barley-beer tang.  It’s an excellent after-dinner drink and it’s a surprisingly sipper even at 54%. I’ve been taking mine with a single small ice cube to add just the right about of cool water. As expected, its a great couple for a cigar, too.

anCnoc Blas retails for $80.

Dalmore 18

dalmore 18

Dalmore is a highland distillery in Scotland and has been distilling since 1839. The highlands are the largest whisky-producing region of the isle and boast and of the biggest names in the country. Highland whisky is generally very mild and accessible, and The Dalmore is no exception.

At about $100, The Dalmore 18 is one of the older malts in Dalmore’s regular range and is aged in American ex-bourbon casks for 14 years, then 4 more years in sherry butts. As a result, this malt is fruity and sweet with a mild palate and long, pleasant finish. Compared to bolder scotches, this malt is quite mild and is great sipped neat after dinner as a digestif. Cigar pairings are a good fit, of course, but choose a milder Dominican stick so you don’t overpower the subtleties of the whisky.

The flavor and cost are in line with each other, offering a complex and cool profile at a price range that’s to be expected from a distiller of this caliber and a scotch of this age.

Here’s our Dalmore 18 tasting on the podcast.

Podcast 103- Scotch Tastings: Bowmore 12 and 15, Auchentoshan American Oak and Three Wood


Mark’s a bread master, too. Our scotch tastings continue with Bowmore 12 and 15. You lose your Gaelic in Albuquerque. We taste Auchentoshan American Oak and Three Wood. We talk about our favorites overall. Here’s that German list again.

Download Episode 103.

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Podcast 102- Scotch Tastings: Suntory Toki, Dalmore 18, Ardbeg Dark Cove

mark griffith scotch

Today our friend and self-made Scotch expert Mark Griffith joins us for scotch tastings! We taste Suntory Toki, The Dalmore 18 and Ardbeg Dark Cove. Hear about distillery field trips, distilling regions of Scotland, and more. Here’s a list (and discussion) of caramel coloring in Scotch.

Download Episode 102.

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Monkey Shoulder Scotch

monkey shoulder scotch

Welcome to the world, Monkey Shoulder, a relatively new scotch brand that you may have seen at your local liquor store as of late (it was introduced in 2005). Master blenders David Stewart and Brian Kinsmen run Monkey Shoulder as a bit of a throwback to the years when blended scotches reigned (as opposed to the many single malts available these days).

Monkey Shoulder is a blend of three Speyside single malts, and while the company won’t say which, the internet consensus is that the malts are Glenfiddich, The Balvenie and Kininvie. Speyside is the northernmost distilling region of Scotland, and its scotches fall into two flavor profiles, according to The Whiskey Exchange: light and grassy “lunchtime whiskies” or sweet and rich whiskies.

The flavor of Monkey Shoulder is more in line with the second profile, with tasting notes of vanilla, cinnamon and sweet cream. While some scotches are famed for their smokiness, Monkey Shoulder is absent of smoke and peat in exchange for its woody spice and sweet, rich finish.

The name, Monkey Shoulder, is an unusual one for a scotch, whose names often tend toward the exotic or unpronounceable (anCnoc, anyone?). A “monkey shoulder” is a temporary condition that maltmen would develop after a long day of turning barley by hand; another whiskey history throwback for the Monkey Shoulder brand.

For a bottle of quality whisky with a pretty great trio of pewter monkeys perched on it, Monkey Shoulder can be found at a very respectable $30-ish at your local liquor shop. You’ll find the bottle contains a solid blend of quality single malts with a familiar Speyside flavor. In that price range, too, you get a good sipping scotch and one that’s also feasable in cocktails like an Old Fashioned or Rob Roy.

Balblair Scotch

balblair scotch

This bottle of Balblair 2001 was bottled in 2012, making it an 11-year-old scotch. The bottle itself is classy, to be sure: a squat oval shape with a raised glass vine crawling up the left side. The whisky itself is pale, a more yellow tinted liquid than I’ve seen in scotches, but I’d guess the color is all-natural.

Balblair 2001 is a treat, with a wonderful fruitiness in the smell and a flavor that’s bright and cool. From there, Balblair has a lingering agey-ness in the flavor: the scotch itself is lighter bodied, but the finish is rich and has a distant flavor of charred wood. This isn’t a smoky scotch, nor a peaty scotch, but it’s a very complex tasting, high quality scotch for sure. You can pick up Balblair 2001 for about $65.

Speyburn Scotch

speyburn scotch

Speyburn is a very affordable single malt scotch that I’ve found to be an great choice at its $20 price point.

Remember that I’m still trying (really hard) to learn to love scotch, and Speyburn helps. In general, I’ve gravitated towards the spicier or sweeter scotches that I’ve tried. So far, Dewar’s White Label and Johnnie Walker Black have been my favorites, and I’ve tasted some pricey ones. Speyburn now joins those two as a scotch I’m glad to have in the home bar.

While $20 can be a real hit-or-miss price point for scotch, I found Speyburn to be smooth when I drank it neat (no ice). There’s a spicy and flavorful mix there as well, like a bourbon that’s both zesty and maybe minty, with the familiar scotch/barley taste on the finish.

At this point, I haven’t tried another $20 scotch that I’d recommend any more highly than Speyburn. It’s a solid buy.

Drambuie and the Rusty Nail

Drambuie Famous Grouse Rusty Nail

Because scotch is one of the finest beverages in the world, there are very few cocktails that contain it. The general opinion is that you should use lower quality booze for mixing drinks and higher-quality, more expensive liquors should be drunk straight.

Drambuie (dram-byoo-ee) is a liqueur that contains scotch, heather honey, herbs, and spices. It has a bit of an anise flavor and the spices taste great, but it’s too sweet to sip it straight. The signature Drambuie drink is the Rusty Nail, which is one of the few scotch cocktails:

Rusty Nail

  • 1 oz Drambuie
  • 2 oz scotch (I used The Famous Grouse)
  • Serve neat or on the rocks

The nice thing about cocktails like this is that the ingredient ratio can be adjusted easily for the drinker’s preferences. Want a sweeter Rusty Nail? Use less scotch and more Drambuie. Drier? Have just a splash of Drambuie in your scotch. Drambuie will run you about $30-40 a bottle.

Glenglassaugh Revival Scotch

Glenglassaugh Revival Scotch

I’d venture to say that Glenglassaugh Revival is the only Glenglassaugh line most of us will be able to afford. It’s a speyside scotch that is the youngest available Glenglassaugh, selling for around $55. Other vintages of Glenglassaugh are 26+ year old and start at about $200 a bottle. Their 45-year old sells for over $2,300 a bottle. The distillery closed down for several years and Revival is the first product they’ve released since reopening.

I added some cool water and found Glenglassaugh Revival light, fresh, and mild. Scotch is distilled from barley and the earthy barley of Revival prevails in a cool, clean way. It’s not as rich or buttery as Amrut, but both have their own appropriate drinking occasions.