Tuesday night Raz and I went to a local saloon (Johnny’s in Huntington Beach, CA) for a nightcap and had a rather surprising experience. As we usually do at Johnny’s, we ordered drams of something new – or at least something from bottles we didn’t recognize. (Johnny’s is rather dark, and though they have a remarkable whiskey collection, the staff is not always knowledgeable of same.) What we ended up with were two very drinkable drams on quite different ends of the price spectrum.
NOTE – There won’t be too much talk of visuals because there is more light coming from the TV screens than from any interior lighting.
When I asked the bartender about the bottle, he said something about a “cask” and I thought it might be a quarter cask. It wasn’t until I had my first sip that I walked around and studied it that I saw it was a Bruchladdich. At about $100 a bottle, I should not have been surprised how pleasant the taste was – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The dram looked pale, but looks can be deceiving. Once it got even close to my nose the sweetness was very dominant, hints of vanilla, notes of the oak, and a promise of iodine, but I found the predominant aroma to be sweet cream.
The promise was kept on the palette too, the creaminess counterpointed with iodine all surrounded with vanilla and oak. While the iodine was too much for Raz, we both agreed this dram was right up my alley. The flavor was full and round, with the wood and vanilla notes turning around the yin and yang of iodine and cream. I’ve had Bruchladdich before, but I haven’t been this impressed with it in the past. I’m guessing the age and bourbon cask gave this dram the sweetness and richness that I can not wait to try again.
Sadly there was no water to bloom with, and the Old Fashion glass was too thick to really get it warm enough with my hands.
I initially passed on the Highland Chief based on name alone – it was obviously a blend, and sounded like a cheap one too. I also have no great fondness for the cheaper Highland scotches, so I passed. Raz decided to take the chance, and we are both very glad he did.
So impressed with his reaction, I begged for a sip and found a surprisingly satisfying dram. A smooth veil of smoke covered a mild spice and citrus flavor that lasted just as long as the whisky was on the tongue. It was simple and short, but such a nice taste that I’ll be adding this bargain basement bottle (as low as $10, never over $20) to my shelf soon.
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