Staff Favorites - James Knight

James Knight

Reviews

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Talisker 10 year old Isle of Skye Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 4-29-2014
Goodness, I love the Talisker 10. It hits just about every note that I want to hear, when a single malt sings to me. To get an idea of whether it will sing for you, here's the way I came about it: After ignoring whisky for a decade-plus in favor of wine, I rediscovered scotch. I set about finding out what I liked, what I didn't, and what grew on me. I like sweet, sherried single malts, but I also like smoky peat--not too much--and most importantly, a sea shore, briny sense of place. This is Talisker 10, in a nutshell, a light amber, buttery, butterscotchy single malt smelling of scones baked with smoked ham, somewhere near the sea shore. Finishes hot and spicy, but like they say about Talisker, more like nice, spicy "chili pepper" than just plain alcohol heat. It's always a fun dram.
Price: $49.99 Add To Cart WA 90 BC 0

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Heavily Peated Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 4-28-2014
It's like sipping an artisanal lemon drop cocktail while a hay field burns around me; it's heather and honey dressed in blonde suede; it's too hot to handle--or is it? (from a sample) This is a light, bright, and high-toned smoky spirit, not on the dark side of peaty drams, that is for sure. But it is alive and interesting.
Price: $55.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Cragganmore 12-year-old Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 4-28-2014
When I'm not tasting single malt whisky, I'm tasting and rating wine, and a recent Russian River Valley Chardonnay made me think of Cragganmore whisky. I couldn't include the reference in my review, because, well, a little too arcane, right? But when you've got caramel-coated apples, golden sherry aromas with sweet hay and spring flowers, it sounds like a good beverage, either way. The Cragganmore has chocolate mint hints over sweet heather, hay, and caramel notes. Sort of like: Talisker 10, without the smoke and heat; Kilchoman, but imagine it older. Recommended: If you've only had Glenfiddich and Glenlivet thus far, step up to Cragganmore.

Bowmore 15 year old Darkest Sherry Casked Islay Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 4-28-2014
"Amber. Whoa. Campfire...peaty fire...suede jacket (nice, not Laphroaig shoe); smoked ham. Some old deli memory, 70s, 80s?" That was my first impression of the Bowmore 15 "Darkest" from a 30cl sample. Later I purchased a full bottle. Initial impressions were consistent: It's a meaty, dry, savory single malt. There's a strong, sherried, rum-raisin component, for sure. There's intensity, but don't expect peatiness like an Ardbeg or Laphroaig. To put it in perspective, I'd say: Dryer and meatier than Talisker 10; may appeal to fans of Glendronach 15 Revival, though smoky; maybe, maybe somewhere in the neighborhood of Lagavulin 16. The last of my notes read, "Have to revisit!"

Talisker Distiller's Edition Isle of Skye Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 4-28-2014
Of all the expressions of Talisker I've enjoyed so far, I believe that this may be my favorite. It's got the ashy peat, the caramel and sherry, and the chili pepper heat. My tasting notes don't record a kippers character, however: more like cream soda, cinnamon spice, and peat that smells like a spaded-up dry lawn, not like the iodine or burning leather like some Islay single malts that you may have tried. For peaty scotch newbies, I recommended Talisker, by all means: get both the Talisker 10 and the Distillers for comparison; both are immediately enjoyable on the caramel-sherry, subtle smoky peat and salty sense-of-place spectrum. 2002 version, bottled 2013.
Price: $79.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Talisker 18-year-old Isle of Skye Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 4-28-2014
Medium-light amber, and the smoked fish, the salty caramel, the chili pepper, it's all there...but does it seem a bit more subdued that the Distillers Edition? It does seem a bit more ashy on the palate; there's definitely a nice bit of heat on the back-end. As a fairly recent but hopelessly enthralled recruit to the Talisker regimen, I recommend the 18, for a one-time try-out at the least.

Talisker Storm Limited Edition Isle of Skye Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 4-28-2014
I am a big fan of the Talisker 10 and Distiller's Edition, but I found myself purchasing my second Storm. That should count as a vote in its favor! It's appealing, if lighter and subtler--despite the name--than the others. Think of the "storm" component more as, "a walk on the beach the morning after a storm, eating saltwater taffy, while someone is smoking fish over a driftwood fire nearby." Smoked ham, smoked fish, and briny aromas, with a sweet caramel presence. Hint of plaster, but not like Jura. Oily and sweet on the palate, with a bit of heat on the back--not as pronounced as the 10, I think. For someone who would like to ease in to an appreciation of peaty single malt, this is a superb bridge.
Price: $72.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Laphroaig 10 year old Islay Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 4-25-2014
Caution! And good news! True, we're trying to sell some single malt here, but to those customers who have not delved into peaty single malts much, I would counsel caution and/or patience, and here's why: I purchased the classic Laphroaig 10 early in my single malt rediscovery series...probably after the mellow Balvenie 12. Holy burning shoe leather! The level, and character of the peat is so serious, it almost made my eyes sting. So I left it alone for a long time, revisiting it from time to time. And eventually, I noticed the richness underneath. The sweet caramel. The seaweed. The beauty...of that burning shoe. By the last few drams, I was almost telling the Laphroaig 10 how sorry I was that I had misunderstood it...but I didn't have that many drams.
Price: $42.99 Add To Cart WA 92 BC 0

Glendronach 12 year old Distillery Bottling Single Malt Whisky 750ml
Review Date: 4-25-2014
Rich and sherried, reminiscent of summer and winter treats: caramel apples and roasted, candied nuts. The Glendronach 12 has spicy, rum-raisin aromas, roasted nuts--filberts, Brazil nuts--and baked apple and pear notes, which repeat on the palate, so cotton-candy smooth, and the fruit flavors deepen toward the dry finish. A little smoky? Seems so. Similar to: Aberlour 16. More flavor than: Glenlivet 12. Fiercer, less smooth than: Macallan 12 or Glenmorangie 10. More easygoing but in a somewhat similar profile to: Glendronach Allardice, Aberlour A'Bunadh.
Price: $47.99 Add To Cart BC 0

Aberlour - A'Bunadh Cask Strength Single Malt 750ml
Review Date: 4-25-2014
Talk about having your cake and eating your whisky, too. I can't get over how bourbony this scotch is: spicy, cinnamon, allspice and cardamon; Christmas spice cake, intense rancio, sherried nose, and...bourbon. Good bourbon. I know, according to Aberlour, it's aged in all Oloroso sherry barrels. But this one (Batch #46) reminds me of my last Four Roses Single Barrel. Because I'm more of a Balvenie 12 fan, the A'Bunadh is long-lived in my bar. But bourbon fans who haven't ventured back to scotch for a while might want to start here. It is delicious. (And at this proof, a little ice doesn't hurt!)

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