Saturday, April 28, 2018

So Magnus is a reasonably priced scotch to come out of Highland Park fairly recently.  From what I have read it is only available in Canada and the US.  I cannot vouch for the truth of that statement.  I can only tell you this:  I tried it and here is what I think.  I may be totally wrong but it tastes very similar to the Highland Park 18.  Not as good but not bad at all.  Since the 18 sells for around $148.00 a bottle and the Magnus sells for around $39.00 a bottle there is an obvious difference.  The Magnus has no age statement and because of that and because it tastes similar to the 18 my best guess is that Highland Park simply opened a few casks meant to be the 18 about 10-12 years early and bottled it under the Magnus label.  The 18 is famous for being the only spirit that dries your mouth and then 2-3 seconds later makes your mouth water.  I got that same effect from the Magnus.  Maybe my imagination, ok sure, but it was very similar.  Like driving a Cadillac and then driving a Buick, very similar but one is better than the other.  The price is outstanding and I will buy it again.  Try it if you are a Highland Park fan or if you are just looking for something different.  It is not what I would call smoky at all and the sherry taste comes through.  Also I understand they have a “17” year old now and it is around 300 a bottle.  I have no idea what it is so much when the 18 is ½ that price.  Supply and demand or rarity may perhaps be the reason.  Anyway enjoy what you drink, drink it the way you like to drink it, and don’t worry about what other people think. 

The Whisky Warrior. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Latest from the Drunken Duck

As of 11/23/13 this
is the current status of my whisky assortment.  I haven't posted much lately and this is my second try today as the blog site is acting up.  So this will be short.  I just got Hankey Bannister, Glen Ness, McClelland (Highland version) and Glen Kirk 8 a couple of days ago.  I also restocked the Edradour and the "Brookladdie" Rocks.  Both were excellent and I received them as an early Christmas present.  I have been enjoying a dram just before dark out on the deck and now have found my old straight grained pipe and bought some Hobbit Weed from a supplier out in Colorado. It is a decent pipe tobacco and I also got some single malt pipe tobacco which I hope to try tonight.  I enjoyed the Hankey Bannister last evening and it was very nice.  I am on a quest right now to find really good scotch that doesn't cost that much.  The McClelland -Highland tastes as good to me as many a 70-80 $ a bottle scotches and the Hankey Bannister (under 20$) is as good as many higher priced blends I have tried.  So the moral is that the price really doesn't matter as long as you enjoy the taste of the product. Happy Holidays to all.

The Whisky Warrior

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I was out and about doing my weekly errands around town a couple of weeks ago (March 2013), when I noticed a sign on one of our small local liquor stores that said “going out of business, 20 to 50% off).  I thought to myself that I need to check this out.  So I stopped in.  Of course there was nothing for 50% off but about 1/3 of the stock was 20% off.  The clerk explained to me that the store would be open about 2 more months and that any item with a red dot on its price tag was 20% off.  I got two bottles of Eagle Rare (10) bourbon (Very nice), one Collingwood Canadian whiskey(which was outstanding) , one Macallan 12 (a classic) , a 1.75 liter bottle of The Famous Grouse, and a 1.75 of Three Olives vodka for martinis.

 I paid for my treasures and was walking out the door when the clerk said “we have some of the really good stuff on sale too” as he pointed to the top shelf behind the bar.  There were a few goodies but the bottle of Glenlivet 25 year old in its snazzy wooden holder with the shiny silver metal plate on the front that slides left or right to open caught my eye. It was originally 299.00 and was on sale for 240.00 so how could I say no. 

The clerk, who I take it is not a whisky drinker, said that bottle had been in the store since it opened 5 years ago so it was really 30 years old. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it doesn’t work that way and once it leaves the cask it stops aging unlike some wines.  I took my treasures home and family and friends tried out the Glenlivet 25 with me and it was very very nice indeed.  We quite enjoyed it and were able to pick out two of the touted tasting notes for ourselves (which is more than we usually can).  Very dark spirit owing to many years in sherry casks.  Yum!  While I am sad to see the little Liquor store (with the name “Liquor” proudly displayed over the door) go away forever.

 I am happy to report that a brand new Total Wine and More Store is opening about 30 miles South of there in the new town of Viera Florida.  Look them up online they have hundreds of wonderful scotches and other whiskies and a ton of locations.   We drove down to see it but it wasn’t open yet.  They did have a literal mountain of empty boxes in the middle of the store as they were stocking the shelves as fast as possible. I just placed my hands on the glass and stared into the not-yet-open store like a kid looking in the candy store who doesnt have any money.  My next adventure will be to head down there after it opens and finally get a bottle of Japanese Whisky and a few others I have wanted for a long time but could not find in my local stores.  

Finally I hope I get to actually see the 50% off in the little store towards the end of their time but I realize nothing good will be left …..sniff…oh well. 

Back to the Glenlivet 25! 

The Whisky Warrior.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy- What To Do When The Power Goes Off

Hurricanes and storms in general are serious business.  Many people were hurt and some killed in the storm known as Sandy as it slammed into New Jersey on the evening of October 29, 2012.  Our heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to all those affected by this terrible storm.  This is an actual picture of Sandy 24 hours before landfall.
On a lighter note, it is a bit of a mystery to us folks living in hurricane alley (Florida and the Gulf of Mexico region) why when a level 1 hurricane hits the North East it is the storm of the century, mass destruction, and Biblical horror.  Here we barely prepare for a level 1 at all.  Oh we drag the stuff out of the yard that might blow into the windows and buy a little extra ice and water and duct tape and such but unless its category 3, 4, or 5 most of us don’t get too upset about it.  Those folks who live right on the ocean need to leave of course but my home is a good 17 miles from the ocean inland and the grade school 500 yards from my home is a designated hurricane shelter so we just stay put. 
I have seen several online articles dealing with “what to do when the power goes out”, “how long will your food last without power?”, and “How long is your food safe to eat?”.  Some of this is good information for folks that don’t know anything about it but really it is just simply not that hard.
Before a storm buy as many bags of ice as you have storage room for them.  We keep 5 in our big freezer year round and rotate them in and out using them up for parties (and whisky on a hot day) and such.   When the power goes out you put a bag in the refrigerator, at least one in each freezer, and maybe fill up your cooler/ice chest.  Be sure to put  the one in the fridge in a pan to catch the melting water or you will have a big mess later. 
Your ice chest should be stocked with your favorite drinks, beer, wine, and drinks for the kids anyway.  You can even throw some snacks in there and that way you don’t have to open the refrigerator every time you want a drink which keeps the stuff in there good much longer.   Get your supplies early, keep what you need all year long if possible and avoid long lines and angry people fighting over the last bag of ice or jug of water at your local stores.  It happens.  For one hurricane I walked into our Wal-Mart to get some extra water the day before the storm hit and people were actually fist fighting in the isles over the water.  The store manager was trying to play referee and was throwing people out of the store for fighting.   I just turned around and left and went one block down the street to the drug store that had hundreds of bottles of water for sale and almost no one in the store.  Think, don’t panic.  Fill up your bathtubs with water and any big jugs and even buckets, as you may need flushing water for your toilets.
Here is what my wife and I do when the power goes out.  I get a glass of Highland Park 18 year old Scotch, she gets a dirty dry vodka Martini on the rocks with 3 Spanish queen olives, and we get a book or magazine, flashlight if needed, we light the battery powered fluorescent lamp and we set in our love seat with individual recliners and kick back.  Between us is a small 10” D cell powered fan that is placed on a TV tray so it will blow on both of us.  We turn on a battery powered radio to get latest storm news. 
It’s really not that hard to be comfortable and safe in a lower level hurricane.  We have a generator but we have to wait until the rain stops to use it safely and that gets the fridge and freezer back on line and a light or two and a large fan and the TV going.  So follow the direction of your local officials, prepare ahead of time with ice, drinks, water, and a good stock of your favorite whiskies and beer and just ride it out.  Get away from the ocean, get to a safe place, listen to and follow instructions from emergency officials and be safe.  Stuff can be replaced, people can’t. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Highland Park 21 and 25, Pure Joy

Getting to enjoy Highland Park 21 and 25 both in the same evening was a wonderful experience.  No, I really cannot afford a full bottle of either one (between $150 and $200 for the 21 and $250 to $300 for the 25) but we did manage to get a mini of each to sample.  My daughter bought both of these on her recent trip to Scotland and we shared the tasting last weekend.  We started with the 21 and followed Highland Park’s Global Brand Ambassador, Gerry Tosh’s recommendation for observing tears and legs and nosing.  We agreed that the aroma of orange peel and toffee were there for us but as smelling whisky is not our long suit we were eager to get on with the drinking.  We both enjoyed it and both reported a sharp bite on the tip of the tongue that lasted a few seconds.  The taste was pleasant enough and enjoyable with that trademark little wisp of  peat smoke at the end of the finish.  It started strong and then mellowed out from there.   I guess a good comparison might be the very first drop on an old fashioned roller coaster like the Beast at King’s Island in Cincinnati Ohio, the first drop is a heart stopper then you really enjoy the rest of the ride and it is quite thrilling all the way to the end.  That, to me, best describes the tasting of the Highland Park 21. 
Now on to the 25 to sample its wares!  Apparently there are several varieties of both the 21 and 25 and our sample was just a little over 107 Proof.  Other proofs were bottled and distributed and various online liquor stores carry these assorted “flavors”. 
Even the little box that the 25 came in had a full color picture on it compared to the 21 which was in black and white.  The color was very nice and as one might expect a bit darker than the 21 but as Gerry Tosh says, color really means nothing.  The legs and tears were almost exactly like those we found in the 21.  Thus ended the similarities.  This nosing of the 25 was unusual for us in that we actually did pick up whiffs of chocolate (as in 90% cacao chocolate) just like when you first open up a big bar of semi-sweet chocolate and you get that blast of chocolate smell that hits you.  Not as strong in the whisky of course but it really seems to be there.  I say that because usually I cannot smell anything but whisky with the occasional bit of spun sugar and of course sherry aroma from those whiskies aged in sherry casks.  This one was different. We both really enjoyed the taste and once again a thousand pipers played as a host of angels sang praises to the distiller’s art.  I’m sure one or two dead Scottish Kings rose up and marched about a bit in harmonious celebration with us but no I did not really see them, just sensed they were there smiling ear to ear.   The 25 was absolutely wonderful and makes me sad that I am not financially well off enough to buy a case of it (or a bottle for that matter).  But at least I (we) got to taste it once and that was sheer pleasure.  My daughter said that even though Dalwhinnie was her favorite, she believed she had finally found a new favorite scotch in the Highland Park 25.   Regrettably she is no better off financially than I am so we will have to start a savings account for a future purchase of a full bottle of the Highland Park 25.  We liked the 21 but loved the 25.  Eventually we would like to try the Highland Park 30 and that is next on the agenda.
Whatever you drink please enjoy yourself and savor every moment this life has to give. 
The Whisky Warrior.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Single Malt For 007 Please!!!

The scotch whisky business is booming and sales seem to be increasing every year.
In fact it is not only scotch, but all “brown liquors” that are thriving here in the early part of the 21st century.  Bourbon, Irish, Japanese, Canadian, and many other types of whisky are gaining popularity with younger and older drinkers.  I think that if Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond series of books today he would have 007 drinking Highland Park, or Macallan  25 or 30 and going on about that he wants it “neat no water, no ice, just two ingredients -  glass and scotch please!”  That then would have been the catch phrase from all those movies instead of “Martini, dry, shaken not stirred!”  It is indeed a much different world we live in today than the 1960’s when Bond was born.  Whisky is once again King, long live the King and long live Scotland. 
There has been a quiet revolution going on for the past several years as around the world people have been developing a taste for good scotch whisky.   Diageo the company that owns such brands as Moet et Chandon, Guinness, Crown Royal, and Johnny Walker, have announced that they are doing a major expansion of their Glen Ord distillery in Ross-Shire.  This is part of their 5 year plan to invest over 1 Billion pounds into scotch whisky production.  They plan on expanding 13 of their current 28 distilleries in Scotland and will build one brand new distillery as well. 
William Grant and Son’s have now reached the point where they have exceeded over 1 billion pounds in turnover per year for the first time ever.  That’s a lot of whisky flowing over the rim of the glass and into whisky fans all over the world!
Chivas Brothers announced they will build a new distillery and are reopening the Glen Keith distillery in Speyside next year.  Rumors abound that they may try to buy the Beam brands of Kentucky Bourbon but their CEO has said that is not happening any time soon. 
As proof that scotch has become more and more popular all over the world, China consumed over 100 Million pounds sterling worth of scotch last year. 
The Whisky Warrior

Monday, October 22, 2012

Treats for Halloween for the whisky fan

Halloween is just around the corner and I feel like I have already gotten my treats for the year.  My daughter and her family just returned from a couple of weeks exploring parts of England, Wales, and lower Scotland and they brought me some really cool mini’s to enjoy.  I have never had the privilege of sampling any of these before so I look forward to the adventure.  The first is Bowmore, a great whisky from the Isle of Islay.  Islay malts are famous for their full bodied peaty taste so if you are one who really enjoys a smoky whisky then this may be a great choice for you.
Next is Highland Park 21, something I have never even seen for sale at any of my local liquor stores.  I have enjoyed the Highland Park 18, which so far is my absolute favorite, but I am sure the 21 holds some great surprises in store.  Then the Highland Park 25 comes next.  At a retail price of around $400.00 for a fifth I doubt I will ever have the great pleasure of owning a bottle but this mini will at least let me get to know it a bit and enjoy a taste of what I can only suppose is a wondrous treat. 
Finally a really cool gift set of the Welsh Whisky Penderyn with two mini’s and a very nice nosing glass inscribed with the Whisky’s logo.(Same as in the picture).  I have longed to try the Welsh Whisky for many years now as it is yet another choice that is not provided at any of the local liquor stores in my area.  You would think with Kennedy Space Center right across the Indian River that alone would provide a ready consumer group for better whiskies than it actually does.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some really nice choices in my area now compared to just 10 years ago.  For a while the local ABC liquor store (a chain store in Florida) did not carry any single malt scotch at all.  Today they have at least 20 different ones to choose from and some fine upper scale bourbons and Irish Whiskies as well. 
So I have not tried any of my new treats yet, I am saving them for when friends or family are over so we can enjoy them together, hopefully in the near future.
Now if I can just put 200+$ together for a bottle of Highland Park “Thor” ……where is that piggybank anyway?
The Whisky Warrior