Whisky Showdown! Glenlivet 12 vs. Nikka Taketsuru 12

I have already pitted the Yamazaki 12 against the Glenlivet 12 and, more recently, the Yamazaki 12 against the Nikka Taketsuru 12. It is now time to taste test the Glenlivet 12 against the Nikka 12. This is a battle for third place within this group as the Yamazaki was the winner in both of the aforementioned showdowns.

The Nikka is a Japanese classic, bottled at 40% abv but packing a lot of flavour into its 12 years. The Glenlivet is a longtime favourite Scotch of both casual and experienced whisky lovers alike. The latter is also bottled at 40% abv.

Both look similar, though the Nikka hints more at amber than gold.

On the nose, the Glenlivet’s unmistakeably soft, sweet hues prove to be a nice welcome. However, the matchup is clearly in the Nikka’s favour as its bolder aroma of fruit, vanilla, honey, and citrus shames the Glenlivet into submission.

On the palate, the Glenlivet’s trademark sweet apple flavours provide much needed warmth on a cold winter’s day. The Nikka’s flavour profile differs significantly. It’s a deeper, darker taste that fills the senses with some of the same basic traits of the Glenlivet but mixes these with oak and nut. The Glenlivet is obviously sweeter overall but the Nikka is more complex. The Nikka has a more grainy texture as well, while the Glenlivet is smoother on the tongue. I enjoy both for their respective merits and I’m finding this tough to call. If forced, I would give a slight edge to the Nikka.

The finish on the Glenlivet is acceptably long and fruity. The Nikka is smokier, contains more oak, and dark nuts. I pick up some faint pineapple notes deeper into the finish with the Nikka. The length of the finish of the Nikka is about the same as the Glenlivet.

Overall, without considering the relative costs of the two whiskies in question, I prefer the Nikka by a small margin. The Nikka is much more interesting on the nose and the finish but both have pleasant tastes despite their differences in this regard.


Laphroaig 18

I recently did something I hadn’t done in some time: open a new bottle of whisky. The bottle in question was not just any bottle either, it was a bottle of Laphroaig 18! I had purchased the bottle last summer but the occasions for indulging in premium whisky were few and far between until the holiday season. At the bequest of a visiting friend, the opportunity arose and a drinking experience matched by few others was at hand. Laphroaig is famous for its peated, smoky whiskies. Their Islay distillery also still runs its own malting floor, peating the green malt produced on site prior to kilning.

The Laphroaig 18 is bottled at 48% abv and barrier filtered. Barrier filtering is a non-chill filtering method designed to filter out larger particles in the spirit. Laphroaig uses Maker’s Mark casks in its maturation process. This 18-year-old expression recently replaced Laphroaig’s 15-year-old in their product lineup.

But enough background, on with the tasting!

The colour is a bright gold and exceptionally clear and crisp looking. The legs run smooth, thick, and slowly down the glass.

The nose does not come across as overly smoked or peated. Instead, the peat lets itself melt into nuts, honey, pear, and toffee. Some smoke lifts the oak into the sense and neatly ties all the components together.

The whisky is exceptionally smooth on the palate. I start tasting the peat immediately, but then the extraordinary depth and balance become known to me. I find some light citrus, mostly grapefruit, complimenting the nuts and honey that fill out the tasting experience. The subtle smoke plays a role in embracing the envelope of flavours and inviting me in for more. A little more concentration yield some spice and floral notes.

The finish starts sweet and continues into nuts and oak. The smoke continues to tie the experience together and reminds me of a midsummer barbecue on the smoker, but not before leaving some vanilla and honey. After a while, I get the distinct impression of salted cashew.

Overall, a wonderfully complex and full-bodied whisky. Having already reviewed the Quarter Cask, I was expecting something good from this expression, but I was not prepared for the full extent of what Laphroaig has accomplished with its 18-year-old.
This bottle is available at the SAQ in Quebec for $158. The LCBO in Ontario charges an outrageous $180. Your best bet in the area, however, is New Hampshire where a bottle can be had for $75. I love New Hampshire, which is where I purchases my example of this fine product



Whisky Showdown! Glenlivet 12 vs. Bruichladdich the Laddie 10

Last month, I reviewed Bruichladdich’s the Laddie 10 and revealed a tender but elegant Scotch. Today, I compare the Laddie 10 to the classic 12 from Glenlivet.

Both whiskies are a pale gold and are undistinguishable from one another. I had to ensure I kept tabs on each glass as I started the tasting to make sure I didn’t mix them up from the start! The legs run quick and thin on both, a sign of their youth according to some whisky experts.

The nose on the Glenlivet 12 does not betray its reputation for being soft and unassuming. I do however notice that the side by side tasting brings out the nose of the Laddie 10. The contrast in expressions allows me to notice the peat in the Laddie. Though I hadn’t noticed during my prior tasting, there is definitely a soft peaty background that accompanies the young fruity freshness of the Laddie 10. Overall, the Laddie 10 is stronger and more complex on the nose, making the Glenlivet 12 seem rather boring.

On the palate, the Glenlivet is pleasant, mild, and quite tasty with its nice apple notes. The Laddie 10 is a more deep concoction, keeping with a fruity contrasting the Glenlivet with shades of oak and peat, qualities I had not noted on my initial tasting. The Glenlivet is also more chewy against the Bruichladdich’s juicy texture. The higher alcohol content of 46% abv on the Laddie 10 is also quite obvious here, lending some punch to the overall flavour.

The finish of the Glenlivet is oddly similar to the Laddie 10, despite the differences in nose and palate between the two expressions. While the Glenlivet sticks to fruit, the Laddie one ups it with a twist of fig and compliments the rest of the experience very nicely.

Both are nice whiskies for everyday enjoyment and I’m sure will please most people. My personal preference is with the Laddie 10. Though a younger whisky, it is just a notch more complex than the Glenfiddich and makes for a more interesting experience.


Bruichladdich the Laddie Ten

It had been a while between reviews but I’m glad to say that the time was not wasted. No, the whisky collection has been renewed, bolstered, and refined. I am happy to say a new batch of reviews will guide us through fall and comfort us during those cold winter nights.

So on to the review of a whisky from the Bruichladdich distillery. The Bruichladdich Laddie Ten is the first ten-year-old produced by the new owners of the distillery after their purchase in 2000. The distillery had been closed in 1994 which meant that no 10-year-old could be produced until 2011. The distillery, a Victorian gem on the far west coast of Islay, began producing fresh 10-year-old whisky in September 2011. Since then, they have expanded their range significantly and you will surely have noticed that I have reviewed quite a few of their expressions already. I’m sure this will not be my last experience with Bruichladdich either.

Their flagship product, the Laddie Ten is bottled at 46% abv. The bottle in my possession is dated May 16, 2012 and comes in a nearly clear bottle with minimal labeling. The gift box is Bruichladdich’s trademark light teal colour and neatly packaged.

The colour is a nice light gold. Quick, thin legs run down my glass after a good twirl.

The nose quickly betrays the age of the whisky with young and fresh aromas of red apple and lemon easily distinguished. Some honeydew melon can also be detected with a bit of concentration.

The palate is silky sweet at first, melting into honey and citrus with time. Again, the youth of the product is obvious. However, this is not a knock against the whisky as it is quite pleasant and zesty. Some barley and a hint of chocolate are also qualities that can be enjoyed as the tasting progresses. A warm, sweet, zesty delight for the palate.

The finish does not linger as some older whiskies might, but compliments the experience perfectly. Once more, it is sweet, discrete, and fruity. The taste of fig comes to mind.

A bit fo water doesn’t do much to change the nose, though it does seem to make it more powerful and easier to detect the rich scent of apple. The palate becomes juicier and more intense. The chocolate noted previously turns into a soft memory of hazelnut spread. Continued tasting provides the slightest clue of oak. The finish seems a bit longer and adds nuts and a tiny fragment of hazelnut to it.

Overall, a quality product from Bruichladdich. It is an elegant whisky for its age and a wonderful companion to a night with friends, family, and foe. Available at the LCBO in Ontario for about $63 and $55 in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, it is currently out of stock in Quebec. I urge you to pick up a bottle post haste and enjoy the refined youth of the Bruichladdich Laddie Ten.


Bruichladdich the Laddie 10

Whisky Showdown! Yamazaki 12 vs. Nikka Taketsuru 12

Ever had choose between two Japanese whiskies and couldn’t decide? Well today is your lucky day if your alternatives were the Yamazaki 12 or the Nikka Taketsuru 12! I’ll be putting these two whiskies to a head to head taste test so that you never have to face such a dilemma again!

The Yamazaki is bottled at 43% abv and is a single malt whereas the Taketsuru is a blend bottled at 40% abv. Both are aged at least 12 years prior to bottling at their respective locations. The Yamazaki is usually about $10 to $20 less expensive around these parts.

In appearance, the Yamazaki is lighter gold than the Taketsuru which tends more towards amber.

The nose on the Yamazaki is sweeter, with honey and melon contrasting against the Taketsuru’s deeper notes of lemon and aging apple. When considering these two back to back, I notice more oak and some smoke on the nose of the Taketsuru, something that I did not notice during my initial review.

The palate of the Yamazaki is juicy, with an explosion of pineapple quickly overwhelming the sense and adding honey and vanilla to the experience. Compared to the Taketsuru’s oak permeated mix of apple and cinnamon, the former is a party in my mouth. However, the Taketsuru gives off a more mature impression, in no small part due to the unmistakable presence of oak and a hint of smoke. Once again, I note that I didn’t tune in to just how much oak was present in the Taketsuru during my initial tasting and I missed the boat on the smoke altogether.

The Yamazaki 12 finishes nicely, with fruits continuing into the finish. Pineapple is still strong and the finish lasts a decent length, though I wouldn’t call it long. The Nikka Taketsuru 12 is sweet on the finish but not quite as much as the Yamazaki. The Taketsuru seals the deal with more oak and smoke. Both are quite satisfying.

Overall, these are two distinct whiskies and I am surprised at how much they contrast. In fact, I believe the Taketsuru would be a more interesting candidate against a Macallan 12 due to the oak and smoke. Perhaps Takesturu was attempting to emulate the classic elements of a Macallan whereas Yamazaki was aiming at creating something a bit more uniquely Japanese. I will give my vote to the Yamazaki for creating something a bit different. Of course, if your preference is for something more oaky, smokey, and subdued, then you will no doubt disagree. The pineapple in the Yamazaki is enjoyable, refreshing, and distinct from most whiskies I have tried to date. I will keep my eyes open for more expressions from these two distilleries as they consistently win international whisky awards, outranking even some of the best Scotch whiskies.

Nikka Taketsuru 12

I finally get to try another Japanese whisky. There is very little selection in these parts and a recent trip to New Hampshire yielded this bottle of Nikka Taketsuru 12. Nikka produces a range of blended malts at 12, 17, and 21 years. The blend is made up of whiskies from the company’s two sites, bottled at 40% abv, and called a “pure malt” by the company. The Taketsuru name comes from the “father of Japanese whisky”, Masataka Teketsuru who was the first Japanese to learn whisky-making in Scotland and bring the knowledge back with him to Japan. Taketsuru built distilleries in two locations, Yoichi and Miyagikyo, due to the proximity to resources required for making great whisky.

A wonderful amber coloured spirit is the result of minimum 12 years in oak casks. The legs run thin but slow in the glass.

The nose is strong and the first smell leaves me with just vanilla and apple. Despite the lower alcohol concentration, the whisky gives off a strong alcohol burn on the nose and I need a bit of time to adjust. A second whiff and I get some more aromas, caramel in particular along with traces of honey, the kind that comes on a comb and not in a jar. A third whiff now that my nose is fully accustomed to the strong perfume of this promising spirit produces lemon. A wonderful experience on the nose alone.

The palate is soft and sweet. The taste of apple and cinnamon mix pleasantly with almond and oak. I note some grain in the texture.

The finish is medium length and leaves oak, almond, a bit of smoke, and hints of spice.

Adding a few drops of water brings a more powerful bouquet on the nose, adding some flowery notes. The palate benefits from more than a hint of lemon and caramel. The finish remains mostly the same, but I may be catching apple now and even the slightest hint of peat.

Overall, this is a smooth whisky, full-bodied, and quite complex for a 12-year-old blend. At US $50 for a bottle in New Hampshire, it’s reasonably priced. However, I have seen it at more than C $85 at the SAQ in Quebec, which makes it egregiously overpriced and to be avoided unless a promotion comes along. The LCBO in Ontario sells it for about $70, which is just about the limit of what I would be willing to spend as there are some fine makes at those price points. The Taketsuru 12 makes for a nice dram, but I am eager to taste it against a personal favourite, the Yamazaki 12 before concluding on its merits as a fine whisky, let alone a prime example of Japanese makes.


Nikka Taketsuru 12

Whisky Showdown! Macallan Select Oak vs. Macallan Cask Strength

A hot summer’s day is not usually a time I steal away to sip my favourite whiskies, but the cooling effect of the light rain falling as I sit under the eaves on the deck has motivated me to try a couple of Macallan products head to head. This evening’s pugilists are none other than the Macallan Select Oak from Macallan’s 1824 series and the Macallan Cask Strength, reviewed in this pages not too long ago. My review of these two Macallans should take place with the usual disclaimer that water was added to the 60% abv Macallan Cask Strength to reduce the alcohol proportion, though only a drop or two was added to the travel retail exclusive Select Oak.

The colour on the Select Oak is more pale than the deep shade of the Cask Strength. The elegance of the gold colour on the Select Oak is contrasted with the bold if not aggressive amber of the Cask Strength.

The softer nose on the Select Oak asks for recognition of its light fruits, honey, and gentle cinnamon and spice. The nose on the Cask Strength calls to attention a bold statement of oak, strong fruits, including orange, chocolate, and caramel. No nonsense on the Cask Strength, this is a whisky that is looking for trouble, and in my case has found it!

The palate on the Select Oak, with its grainy texture and butty core, requests notice of sweet fruits and cinnamon. The Select Oak demands immediate notice of its oak, apple, fruit, honey, noix de grenoble, caramel, cinnamon swirls, and strength. This Cask Strength is a heavyweight contender and is not shy about its intentions.

The finish on both are long, smooth, and flattering. The Select Oak ends as it started, softer than the Cask Strength and fading into memory of sweet fruits. The Cask Strength is more durable, keeping up the fight with spice, orange, and oak.

Overall, the winner is the Cask Strength. Though price points are higher on the Cask Strength, the whisky is fuller, more complete, complex, and flexible.