Category Archives: Linkwood

Memory Lane

This is a lament for the passing of bars and a plea to those listening to run out and open new ones.  Fine.  It is about one bar in particular and I know you are reading and not listening… but I was writing in speech format, so work with me.  Or stop reading, drink a bit more, and come back to this article with a less pedantic attitude.  Back in the age of dinosaurs (actually it was only about six-or-so years ago) I was wandering through the lower-level of a Japanese department store (often a sprawling bazar of booths, glass cases and smartly uniformed employees plying everything from avatars of fruit to all manner of savory treat and more than a few selections of competition grade deserts) in Osaka and I stumbled upon a purveyor of liquor.  And that is not unusual.  This particular spot boasted, upon initial investigation, a decent selection of Scotch whiskies.  A little less common, but still not anything to write home about.  And then I noticed a bar positioned more or less in the middle of the sprawl of tables and bottles that gave way to other liquor stores, food sellers, and the components of the previously mentioned bazar.

This bar was an island.  An old-era counter top of little more than six feet, a single bartender in the black-and-whites (vest and bow-tie included), and a small but splendidly stocked wall of Scotch.  This standing bar (tachinomi) even had a small barrel of whisky on the brief but well-varnished expanse of wood (I later learned that one could fill a varying grade of classy little bottles, the shape and size of which I would associate more with an apothecary, from the barrel for take-home purposes).   I was entranced.  I approached, acknowledged the bartender, and I perused the menu.  I than spent a fair portion of the next three days on regular pilgrimages to the miniature mecca of whisky.  Seriously.  My schedule only really allowed me free time in the mornings, so that was where I spent them.

After eyeing the menu I realized that there was work to be done and not much time to do it in.  Notes from the back of one extant receipt: Glen Ord 12 – Caol Ila 12, 23, cask – Glenmorangie Burgundy, Hermitage – Glen Grant 1980 – Glenlivet 32 – Linkwood 26 – Bruichladdich 17 – Lagavulin 25 – Banff 1977 – Blair Athol 27 – Glen Albyn – Glenburgie – and, as the commercials say, many more…  There were repeats, there were items that didn’t make it onto the list, there were even a few on-the-fly vatted creations, and then there were some real pleasant lunches at nearby establishments.  Curiously, an appreciation for Glen Ord, and a few bottles of their 12-year, stayed with me long after the bar vanished (okay, maybe only the appreciation stayed with me long after).  But the bar did vanish.

One season, a few years later, I spent an eager train ride and a rushed walk through rushing crowds only to find the little outpost of majesty replaced by mundane shelves of liquor.  And that sucked.  And now more years and even more whisky have flowed under the bridge… and it still bums me out.  I always have my eyes out for these gems, often hidden away but occasionally found in the middle of a department store, awash in florescent light but not worse for it.

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Filed under Bar Reviews, Caol Ila, Glen Grant, Imbibed Musings, Linkwood

Linkwood 15 Year Old Masters Collection

Linkwood

The Old Masters Collection of independent bottles isn’t a very well known brand around these parts.  In fact I had never seen a bottle before I found this one at The Whisky Shop.  I do like me some Linkwoods so I decided to give it a try.  Also, this is a single cask, non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength – what more could I ask for?

Stats:

Distilled 1993 Bottled 2008
Bourbon Barrel Cask No. 1609
59.2% ABV

Nose:  Big alcohol, buttery sweets, some type of synthetic chemical that is a little distracting, black tea, over ripe green grapes

Palate:  Oak, sour milk, muddled spices mixed with some green fruits, numbs the middle of the tongue.

Finish:  Short, surprisingly short with some remnants of the muddled mixture of fruits and spice.

Comments:  The Linkwoods I have had before I really enjoyed.  This one was odd for sure though.  It seemed like the flavors just didn’t fit together.   It was the end of the night and I didn’t want to end on a flat note, so as treacherous and highbrow as it seems, I poured out the last of this dram to make room for something a little more enjoyable before I stumbled up stairs to go to sleep.

Edit:  Joshua over at the JSMWS just posted his review of this same Linkwood expression – definitely check it out to get another impression.

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Filed under Linkwood, Whisky Impressions

Some Quick Notes on Tasting the Chieftain’s Lineup

Chieftains is another IB, however it was not widely available in the US until a couple of months ago.  So when I learned that K and L Wines was hosting a tasting for some of the US lineup, I signed up immediately.  The event was limited to 35 people and filled up quickly.  It was a little bit of a trek to make the tasting: Martin’s West in Redwood City, but I was betting it was going to be worth it.

The lineup was quite extensive, covering varying regions and flavor profiles:  Allt A Bhainne 31, Dalmore 11, Glencadam 22, Glenrothes 14, Longmorn 13, Linkwood 16, and the great Port Ellen 25.

Allt A Bhainne is a fairly obscure distillery and not many people know about it.  It is located in the Speyside region and is used primarily for Chivas Regal blends.  So it is very rare to get the opportunity to try a single malt Allt A Bhainne.  This malt was surprisingly lively for its age – full bodied, butter, grassy with a slight hint of smoke which was also a surprise.

Dalmore is a distillery that we are a lot more familiar with.  It is located in the Highland region of Scotland and generally has deep-sweet flavors.  This malt was enhanced in a Madeira cask.  I found the Dalmore to be rather underwhelming unfortunately.  There was some tropical fruit sweetness, caramel, you can taste the wine influence but it faded rather quickly.

Glencadam is another Highland malt but it does not release many single malts.  The Glencadam was viscous and chewy with lots of malt.  There was some licorice and grain notes with some fruit underneath it all – a decent dram.

Glenrothes is a very well known distillery out of the Speyside region.  This Glenrothes was finished in a Burgundy cask to add some wine flavors.  The distinctive dark red fruits and sweetness immediately came to the forefront.  The wood was definitely present as well.

Linkwood, like Glenrothes, resides in the Speyside region of Scotland.  However, you probably won’t find a bottle of Linkwood at your local bar.  My first thought was WOW! Big fruit, malt and green apples.  I also found flowers and some heather in the palate.  I really enjoyed this malt, it tasted almost like a Lowland malt to me.  A big surprise.

Longmorn is a neighbor of Linkwood in Speyside.  This malt had baked bread, oak and grain with a slight hint of smoke.  Unfortunately, it faded really fast and I didn’t find it all that interesting.

Finally, I was able to taste the Port Ellen.  For those that don’t know, Port Ellen is one of the most sought after malts out there.  Port Ellen, located in the Islay regions, was demolished in 1982 making whatever was left aging in barrels at that time the last whisky to ever be produced from this distillery.  Unfortunately, the price point for Port Ellen’s is extremely high and keeps increasing as the years go by and the stocks of the whisky dwindle.  This Port Ellen was a nicely balanced malt.  A perfect balance of peat, coastal brine, seaweed, smoke and ashes.

Over all the Chieftain’s line up is solid but to be honest I was expecting a little more.  I really enjoyed the Linkwood and the Port Ellen.  The others weren’t bad but they didn’t stand out for me.  It is nice to see another IB enter into the US market.  I am hoping that Chieftains line will flourish and continue to grow so that we can all experience different and unique flavors from more great distilleries.

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Filed under Allt A Bhainne, Dalmore, Glencadam, Imbibed Musings, Linkwood, Longmorn, Port Ellen, Whisky Impressions