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@AboutChoice
AboutChoice started a discussion

Reviews are the mainstay of whisky websites, and other than your own tastings, they are the primary source from which to preview what a whisky is like. Comparisons can add another dimension to reviews by offering relative benchmarks to each item in the comparison. Often special traits in whiskies are revealed or emphasized only when compaired to others. But most of all, comparisons are fun and adventurous ... you will often discover a surprise between a couple of samples.

14 years ago

7 replies

@AboutChoice
AboutChoice replied

Ardbeg 10, Laphroaig 10, Talisker 10

Eight months ago I knew that Islay style whiskies were to be avoided. Today I am drawn into the smoky Islays, by some mysterious and unexplainable attraction ... perhaps similar to an exotic perfume. Your evening may begin with a lovely Speyside, but your last dance is always with a mesmerizing Islay.

I very much enjoy each of the 10-year expressions of Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Talisker, but they are remarkably different. All were tasted quite a while after food, without added water, and with a little rest after pouring. The palate was warmed up by several previous tastings.

Ardbeg 10: The first time I tasted this I thought is was intriguing and special. The nose was the best of all three ... fresh, lively, fruity and briney ... it took me to the jagged rocks and saltwater by the sea. The palate was pleasantly sweet, followed by a semi-sweet brininess, a medium-long smoky drier finish, and an aftertaste of seaweed and musk. This is the only Islay style whisky in which I have experience seaweed ... an acquired, but welcome experience (I occasionally enjoy seaweed as part of meals). A very distinctive expression that reminds me of there it's from.

Laphroaig 10: The Laphroaigs are one of my favorites. This one has a softer nose of caramel, sugar, bourbon, glue and medicine ... very nice, but not as lively as Ardbeg. It instead is more woody, and takes me to a farm yard. The palate is sweet and sugary, and the med-long finish always produces an aftertaste of grapefruit and a nicely blended amount of smokiness. This is the only whisky where I taste grapefruit ... not even in the other Laphroaigs.

Talisker 10: Talisker is not strictly Islay, but it is from the Isle of Skye. Right now, nothing too special on the nose ... just the typical medicinal and gluey essence. The palate is where the action is ... an enjoyable intense sweetness followed by a little cookie flavor, with a long and moderately smoky sharp finish. This is very tasty, lively and satisfying, and the sweetest of all, but less complex than the other two samples.

Conclusion: I could enjoy sipping any of these all night. But after this comparison, and if I had to choose one, I would choose Ardbeg for my one and only. One concluding attribute of these Islay type whiskies, is the surprising and bold sweetness at the beginning of each sip, which is followed by a long and lingering drier smokiness. Each sip is a drinking adventure.

14 years ago 0

@Hogshead
Hogshead replied

@AboutChoice Interesting way of approaching this. Maybe Connosr should consider a system to review two or more whiskies in a linked way. Listen to me I've only been on the site 5 mins and I'm already making demands!

Many people I've spoke to say they see the Islay whiskies as the end of the night drams. Personally I like to start dry and get more sweet as things go on - finishing with a nice old, complex Speyside for example. Or if I fancy a Talisker at the end of the night I'd go for something more sherried like the distiller's edition.

14 years ago 0

@AboutChoice
AboutChoice replied

Laphoaig 10 Cask Strength vs Aberlour A'bunadh 28 So which was the winner between these two magnificant heavyweights ? If you are looking for malts for late evening, for when you've had a difficult day, for ice fishing, or to merely transport you to another world, these will do it for you. If sipped slowly, Laphoaig Cask Strength is a satisfying and balanced production of sweet, potent and smoky ... you must sit down, if you're not already. A'bunadh hits you with a profound deeply sweet and potent sherry essence ... memorable and deeply satisfying .. also need to sit down. Mac Cask will serve you just as well. Don't need to judge, I want both of them, but if I could only have one, i would choose the A'bunadh or Mac Cask, due to the big sweet sherry opening punch. Now, try blending them for a smoky sherry cask ... try this at home.

14 years ago 1Who liked this?

@AboutChoice
AboutChoice replied

A few higher-end bourbons. Due to the strict bourbon laws, the differences between bourbons are more subtle than the wide range of scotch expressions. But there is still a good deal of fun and adventure to be enjoyed in tasting and comparing bourbons.

After recently discovering and enjoying Vintage 17 Bourbon, from Bardstown, Kentucky, which immediately appeared to be of top-shelf character, I thought I would compare it to a few others, to confirm my initial judgement. Vintage 17, at 47% abv, when sipped very slowly with no water, offered a lovely deep and tasty sweetness, which continued on with smoothness and no bitterness; this was followed by a long and warm finish. After the following tasting comparisons, I do have to conclude that Vintage 17 does indeed belong on the top-shelf. The following are 3 of my own categorizations, with a few representative examples of each (these are mostly small-batch expressions):

Rich flavor and deeply satisfying: Pappy Van Winkle 15, Van Winkle Special Reserve 12, Vintage 17. Bakers and Bookers would probably be here as well, with Sam Houston as a runner-up.

Deep flavor and slightly lighter: Corner Creek, Rowan’s Creek. These are smooth and quite nice, with no bitterness.

Good flavor and lighter: Buffalo Trace is a tasty, smooth and solid bourbon with no falts. Basil Hayden is a tasty, refined, delicate and very smooth bourbon, with a smaller finish. These will not knock your socks off, but they are very good drinks in their own way.

Although I find it difficult to trust my initial judgement of a single whiskey, I was happy to confirm, after comparisons with several benchmarks, that my first impression was correct, and that Vintage 17 is indeed top-shelf.

13 years ago 0

@AboutChoice
AboutChoice replied

COMPARING 4 OLDER BOURBONS:. I just felt like tasting some very good older bourbons this evening. While I could very much enjoy any of these by themselves, it is interesting to discover the differences after comparing them with each other. These seemed to be better without water, and they need to set a bit before nosing.

Vintage Bourbon 17 Year 47% : A luscious caramel, banana, butterscotch and vanilla nose, but shy about revealing. The taste was deep, chewy, pleasant and a little piney. A long warm and satisfying finish, and easy to drink. A very tasty and enjoyable drink … a keeper at 47 USD..

Pappy Van Winkle 15 Year 53.5% A very deep and rich flavor, chewey and pleasant, and very smooth, with a med-long warm finish. The smell is luscious caramel, toffee and a bit piney. A big luscious, contemplative drink … one of the best … definitely a keeper, and on re-order list, at 65 USD. .

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12 “Lot B” 45.2% : This had mostly an alcohol nose, but got better later. Palate is rich, sweet w/some leather. The finish is warm, pleasant and smooth. A very nice higher-end bourbon, well-crafter and slightly lighter. A keeper at 55 USD. .

Elijah Craig Sing Barrel 18 year 45%: Elijah had the best nose: big seductive butterscotch, vanilla, and chocolate. The taste was deep, sweet, smooth, but somewhat piney and slightly bitter. The taste overall, is not what I would expect, but this bottle would work very well by itself, or before a bigger act. The finish is short to med, and very smooth. A very gentle and tasty drink, but this is not my favorite flavor profile in a bourbon, and would not buy again, at 42 USD.

I finally compared these to Buffalo Trace, a favorite everyday benchmark … just to make sure that I am not just liking anything. But while BT is very nice to drink by itself, compared to all the above older bourbons, it is grainy, has a thinner palate, and not as smooth, and generally dwarfed by all the above older bourbons.

It looks like, in this comparison, you get about what you paid for.

13 years ago 0

@dbk
dbk replied

@AboutChoice, I have been making these comparisons quite a lot lately, thanks to this discussion. It helps me define both what is typical of a particular type of whisky (bourbon, scotch, etc.), and what is unique about the particular bottlings sampled. (I have for several years done the same with chocolate.)

Admittedly, though, it has made me realize how much less I enjoy some of the stuff that used to make me so happy. I used to be excited by a dram of Woodford Reserve, for instance, but now I forsake it for the Four Roses Mariage. Other bottles remain to be opened which will likely have similar detrimental effects.

13 years ago 1Who liked this?

@AboutChoice
AboutChoice replied

Well this evening all started when I was given some ginger ale that someone did't want. So I thought I'd try a 1 to 1 mix with a good bourbon (Old Weller 107, wheated) and one small ice cube. The drink was absolutely delicious. In fact, it was dangerous ... this was so tasty and easy-drinking, that it was empty in a very short time ... more of these would have the potential to bring the evening to a premature end :)

So enough of that ... and on to tasting (neat) several light and high quality bourbons.

Corner Creek 44% - Always a smooth, semi-sweet and lovely nutty, woody, and slightly tobaco taste, with a short to medium and very soft finish.

Sam Houston 43% - A very tasty, refined and smooth brown sugar palate. The medium finish is soft and satisfying.

Basil Haden 40% - Soft, sweet and a lovely rye influence. Nothing is over-powering or harsh, and the finish is soft and short, leaving you ready for more.

Jefferson's Bourbon 41% - There is something that makes Jefferson's distinct and special. This bourbon is refined, dignified, woody, semi-sweet and well-mannered ... always drinkable with a notable character.

All of the above are excellent lighter bourbons with good character and complexity, and very suitable for beginners. These are far more interesting than the budget lighter bourbons, such as Wild Turkey 80, Ancient Age, or Old Taylor. And though they will not disrupt your day as will the high-abv or cask-strength bourbons, they will offer a very pleasant and satisfying departure from your daily routine.

BTW, I didn't intend this to be my own discussion blog ... I hope other Connosr members will offer many more helpful comparisons !

13 years ago 1Who liked this?