husband, father, whisky lover, blogger, freelance whisky writer, and head of the New Jersey Whiskey Society & leading the USBG NJ efforts...currently the New Jersey Whisky Ambassador for Diageo & therefore leave the recent writing duties to guest bloggers, primarily that Bourbon loving fella named Gerard

average Joes on a whisky journey...all views are our own

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Highland Park 11 Year Old Alchemist Bottling

Highland Park 11 Year Old Alchemist Bottling Single Malt Scotch Whisky


Distilled: 2000. Bottled: 2011 46% ABV


Everyone has a favorite local place to enjoy a drink, and I love singing the praises of Catherine Lombardi and their fine selection and staff.

As I get further and further into my whisky journey I find myself drawn to the Independent Bottlers for some off the beaten path options.  Luckily, I happened upon this Alchemist Bottling of Highland Park.

Some notes from the bottle state that the Alchemist Beverage Company is spearheaded by Gordon Wright who has some significant experience in the world of single malt whisky.  His family has connections to the Springbank distillery and, later he was involved with the reinvention of Bruichladdich.

The result of his know-how is the initial range of spirits launched under the “Alchemist” label including stunning examples of Single Malts from the Highland Park and Macallan distilleries, Calvados from Christian Drouin and Armagnac from the Chateau de Castex.


This bottle is no exception.  Even at the young age of 11 years, this dram has all the tell-tale signs of the wonders Highland Park has to offer.  HP is one of the only two distilleries on the Orkney Islands (Scapa being the other) and is the Northernmost distillery in all of Scotland.  HP has always been one of those distilleries that makes whisky that seems to have a part of every region inside.  Truly versatile and yummy!


Tasting Notes:


Appearance: Very light Gold


Nose:  Fresh and crisp, Smoke & Salt, yet still citrus sweet (not oranges though, more like apple)


Palate:  Again citrus freshness (think Granny-Smith apples), smoke and phenolic notes hum in the background the whole time, creamy & grassy earthiness sets in


Finish:  Nuts & warmth, Long and Balanced




Like virtually every other standard bottling I have had of HP, this one delivers a broad spectrum of delights.  My notes were all over the place on my pad as I got everything from Peat to Coffee…but I had to reign them in a bit and clarify them as I finished the dram.  I still think the mighty HP18 is my favorite expression from HP so far, but boy they make some good juice.  Even this youthful fun-loving drink was outstanding.  This bottle again gives me faith that there is a lot of joy to be found with Independent Bottlers, and while they may all not be winners, this one stands strong. 


Score:  86

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Wemyss Single Cask ‘Smoke Bluff’ 12 YR

Liquid Gold Indeed

I was fortunate enough to get to try one of the Single Casks that Wemyss has to offer recently.

I previously did a larger write up on three other offerings from Wemyss that we all tried a while back at a NJ Whiskey Society meeting.  A lot of the background of Wemyss is covered in that post, so I will not revisit it here.  This post will just a be a short & sweet one with my notes on this expression.
To my knowledge this one is from Bunnahabhain and has spent 12 years in refill bourbon casks. (NCF)

These were bottled in September of 2009, and this bottle is one of only 400 available!

Specifically, this bottle comes in at a respectable 46% ABV, and looks light and beautiful!

Tasting Notes:

Apperance:  Very light gold

Nose:  Very nutty, expected more peat, does have a bit of that hot tar scent (freshly finished driveway tar…but in a good way!)

Palate:  Smoke & malt mixed with oceanic notes of salt and seaweed

Finish:  Gentle and smoky with a little bit of a spicy cinnamon kick at the end

Score:  86