Tasting notes: "The Classic" and "Knob Creek"; and "Vacu-Vin".


I was at my local wine&spirits shop (the local branch of "Total Wine") a couple days ago and I bought a couple bottles of whisky. My intent had been to purchase some Johhnie Walker Black, but I ended up buying something totally different on a whim and a gamble.
And while shopping for blended scotch, I ran across a whole slew of single malts I'd never heard of, including whole a bunch of "glens": Glen Ness, Glen Goyne, Glen Farclas, Glen Kinchie, Glen Rothes, etc. (In addition to the much more common glens such as Glen Livet, Glen Fiddich, Glen Morangie, etc.) They also had Arbelour, Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bunnahabhain, and other Islays. Lots of stuff for me to look into in the future when I have more disposable income on hand. (2013 is looking bright; 2012 will be tight for me though.)
In the "blends" section, I saw they had a whole pile of 750ml bottles of the discontinued Johnnie Walker Green at $46 each. I might grab one of those next paycheck before they dry up.
But the blend that caught my eye (because it was going for a mere $12 per 750ml) was labeled "Shieldaig Collection, 'The Classic', a mature highland blend with delicate notes from the islands of Scotland. Blended Scotch whisky, aged 12 years. A true reflection of Scotland." So I grabbed that.
And on the way to the checkout stand I saw a tiny bottle (50ml) of "Knob Creek", supposedly one of the best Bourbons in existence, for $4, so I grabbed that.
My tasting notes follow:
"Knob Creek": Much thicker, warmer, and oilier feel in the mouth than Jim Beam, probably due to non-ethanol alcohols such as glycerol in the congeners. Lots of fiery ethanol smell. Lots of toasted oak. Strong perfume-like floral scents. Other elements I couldn't identify. In other words, most of the same elements in Jim Beam, magnified 5-fold. My grade: D. (As opposed to Jim Beam, which I give an F.) I guess I'm just not a bourbon lover.
"The Classic": An odor of salty sea breeze in the glass. On sipping it, a trace of malt flavor, a trace of ocean spray, a trace of peat (but no peat smoke), and not much else. On diluting it with lots of water, takes on strong odor of wet peat ashes, which is not an improvement. Like Laphroaig that's been diluted 7:1 with vodka. My grade: D. Best sipped as an accompaniment to a snack such as nuts or cheese; doesn't stand up well on it's own as an after-dinner drink at all.
In short, I didn't like those. But it was a useful learning experience.
Next up on my "to try" list in about 1 week: Johnnie Walker black or green. I'm vary much desirous to see what some of the better blends are really like before going back to sampling single malts. I'll leave the singles for 2013.
PS: I did purchase one other item at the wine shop: a device called "Vacu-Vin" which quickly and easily vacuum-seals opened bottles of wine (or other liquids, such as scotch). You just drop a grey rubber plug into the bottle neck, plop the manual pump on top, and pump up and down for about 5 seconds till it makes a "click" sound. Amazing simplicity. The air inside the bottle instantly turns opaque white when you start pumping, much as the air does in an airliner experiencing explosive decompression, and for the same reason (water in the air condensing into liquid droplets due to sudden pressure reduction). After a few pumps, the fog clears because most of the air is gone. $10 at your local wine shop.
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Cheers,
Robbie Hatley
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Reply to
Robbie Hatley
Interesting discovery, that "Shieldaig Classic." Can you confirm the spelling? I'm not familiar with that distillery or brand and would like to know more.
My wife's been using the Vacu-Vin (and similar brands) sealer for years on wine, and she swears by them. I can't speak to how well they work for whiskey--once I finally uncork a bottle, it never seems to last long enough to need the extra seal. :-)
Reply to
Jay Karamales

Shieldaig "The Classic", so searching for "Shieldaig Classic" in quote marks won't get you much. It's a Speyside by all accounts, but it's independently bottled by William Maxwell and Co., and it might be that there's no single distillery of origin, i.e. that the bottler buys casks from various distillers and further ages and/or blends them.
Different sites refer to it as a single malt with expressions up to 18 years old, and as a blend. My guess is that it's both, but I didn't find a site that clearly summarizes the Shieldaig phenomenon.
Reviews are wildly disparate. Several sites rave about the Shieldaig single malt, and several describe Shieldaig blend as testing like the bottom of an ashtray. All agree that it's inexpensive.
Nothing definitive, I'm afraid.
bill
Reply to
bill van

Do try the JW green whilst you still can. It is fabulous and when you look at the 4 15 year old malts that go into it, it's no surprise why.
Reply to
Blackthorn

JW Black is a blend, having both single malts and grain whisky among its constituents. JW Green is a vatted malt, which is to say it has different single malts in it, but no grain whisky. Going with the normal vocabulary of the whisky business, it's not a blend.
I hadn't realized until now that JW ceased production of the Green this year. I may have to grab a bottle before they're all gone.
bill
Reply to
bill van
Am 07.10.2012 20:19, schrieb bill van:
Since 2009 the official term is "Blended Malt".
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Marko
Reply to
Marko Renner
Am 06.10.2012 05:52, schrieb Robbie Hatley:
trade brand.
"Glen" is gaelic for valley, whisky production needs water, so there are a lot of Glens.
I can't remember anything below ~20?, that was enjoyable pure.
Gibberish. Never believe that.
Maybe because it's from Jim Beam. ;-) To me a very fine Bourbon (as like as the other small batch Bourbons form Jim Beam), but could be a bit cheaper.
Unless you have a very expensiv bottle open and want to keep it for years, I wouldn't advice to waste time&money on such bibelot. Marko
Reply to
Marko Renner
Am 07.10.2012 22:17, schrieb The Other Guy:
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.+Ltd Only because it's online it doesn't make it true. ;-) I'm quite sure that this isn't a distillery. At first look at this map from the Scotch Whisky Association:
- no Glen Ness Then, how could a Highland-Whisky be produced in Glasgow, Lowlands?
It seems, of that aside the 12yo Version there are a 8yo Single Malt and 8 and 12yo Blends sold under this Name bottled by Angus Dundee Distillers, who own the Distilleries Glencadam and Tomintoul. So Glen Ness probably contains one of those, more likely the the second, because they produce peated stuff too.
As you see here
the Trademark has expired.
Marko
Reply to
Marko Renner
Am 07.10.2012 22:52, schrieb Marko Renner:
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.+Ltd
Addendum: Google for "Glen Ness Distillery" - 3 Hits, two of them the same question (which isn't answered, because there is no distillery ;-) and one ebay auction from somebody who cannot spell "Speyside".
Even the newest distilleries and mothballed or even demolished distilleries get more hits, e.g. Daftmill, founded 2005, they haven't just yet bottled any Whisky, but a Website and 4500 hits for "Daftmill Distillery", or "Auchinblae distillery", closed 1930 but at least two pages of hits.
Marko
Reply to
Marko Renner

When I was in Total Wine, I noticed a number of different whiskys from the Shieldaig (or however it's spelled) company, including both single malts and blends, at prices ranging from about $12 to about $80. It seems to be a reseller, hence the word "collection" on all of their bottles: they "collect" whiskys from around Scotland and re-sell them both as single malts and as blends. I agree that "The Classic" is very Speyside-like, so it's probably make mostly from whiskys from that area, diluted with vodka. (As I understand it, most so called "blended Scotch" is usually actually half cheap vodka to reduce cost. Much as varietal wines typically only have to be 1/2 the labeled variety of grape; so your "Cabernet Sauvignon" may be half cheap grapes to cut cost.)
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Cheers,
Robbie Hatley
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Reply to
Robbie Hatley

I've noticed a marked degradation of some of the more pungent but delicate whiskys such as Glen Morangie Port Wood Finish when left half full at room temp with air in the bottle for as little as 3 or 4 days. Esters (which are some of the flavor elements in such whiskys) oxidize when exposed to air. I tried VacuVin on "The Special" (blend from Shieldaig) and noticed that the flavor (weak and bland though it may be) did not change at all even though the bottle was half full for weeks. So it does seem to work. I'm eager to try it on a good single malt and see if it prevents degradation. I'll see.
Jura, Talisker, Ardbeg Uigadeal, Balvenie Double Wood, Laphroaig Sherry Wood Finish (new expression just out)... sooooo many things to try in 2013.
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Cheers,
Robbie Hatley
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Reply to
Robbie Hatley

I noticed that also, but I can see the reason. Due to legal and business technicalities, the range of products their stores offer varies drastically depending on location. So until their web site knows what your zip code is, they can't even begin to tell you what's available at your local store. So I really don't think that in their case they're interested in data mining your private info; more like, they're saying "tell me where you are, and we'll tell you what we can sell to you".
No problem, just sign up as "Jack Sprat", who lives in "Midway City, California, USA" and has zip code "92655". Create a free throw-away Gmail account such as " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com". Click the "verify email" link in the email they send you. Voila, you now have access to the listings for my local store. Cost: $0.00 Spam: none, because you never revealed your real address.
I use that technique on many different web sites to infiltrate areas that demand my personal info. I'm Jeniffer Craigens. I'm Joseph Adoway. I'm Susan Langerhans. I'm Charles Galway. I'm whoever I want to be. :-) I also live in Oklahoma, Texas, New Jersey, Toronto, and Antwerp. I really get around. Fake personas are a lot of fun, as well as being incredibly useful.
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Cheers,
Robbie Hatley
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Reply to
Robbie Hatley

I think you're wrong about the vodka. Scotch whisky by law must be distilled from malt barley and may in some circumstances contain other grains. If it has anything else in it, it can't be called scotch whisky.
bill
Reply to
bill van

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