The Unofficial Forbes Whisky Review Roundup — October 2018

Food & Drink

Writing about whisky can be a tough job. One of the obstacles that I encounter in carrying out my duties is that I often receive samples of whisky that I’m not sure what to do with beyond drink them.

So I figured it would be a nice idea do a monthly review roundup covering the whiskies that I have the pleasure and the privilege to try, providing some tasting notes and thoughts on these relatively new releases.

In choosing whiskies to review, I don’t have much of a criteria beyond the fact that the whisky ideally should have been released within the last year, and that the bottles are available to buy for the general public, preferably to a global market.

I should also make clear that these reviews reflect my personal views on the whisky and that these are not requested nor considered official by Forbes in any way.

I think I’ve only tried two or three whiskies in my life that I’d rate as a perfect 10.

Here’s a guide to my scoring system. I grade whiskies out of 10 to the nearest half-point:

0-4 – Avoid this bottle

5/5.5 – Barely passable

6/6.5 – Decent enough but not really for me, but you might like it.

7/7.5 – Good

8/8.5 – Extremely good

9-10 – Absolutely superb

For the inaugural review roundup this month, I’m covering the two new ‘approachable’ whiskies from William Grant, a new range of whiskies from the Speyside distillery of Glenrothes, a rye whisky from Texas, and a new single malt whisky from Israel.

Here they are in alphabetical order.

Aerstone Land Cask, 40% ABV

Description: One of the two new ‘accessible’ and budget friendly single malts released by William Grant (owners of Glenfiddich and Balvenie) available only in the Tesco U.K. supermarket.

Nose: Smells like new tennis shoes running through a freshly mowed lawn. Seriously.

Taste: A sweet honeyed taste that still features that new shoe aroma. Backed up by robust smoke.

Score: A fascinating if polarising combination of peat, rubber, and maple syrup. Not for everyone. 8.5

Aerstone Sea Cask, 40% ABV

Description: One of the two new ‘accessible’ and budget friendly single malts released by William available only in the Tesco U.K. supermarket. 

Nose: Super coastal. Seaweed and minerals dominate, though there’s a waxy element there too along with the creamy coconut vanilla combination of gorse bushes. 

Taste: Softer on the palate. Vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger manage to beat back the salty storm. 

Score: Briny yet gentle. 7

 

Balcones Texas Rye 100 Proof, 50% ABV

Description: Released to celebrate Balcones’ 10th anniversary, its new 100% rye whiskey is just under two years old.

Nose: Rye whiskies have an overpowering caramel nose, and this is the case here. Cinnamon, cloves, and baked pears are also there if you can find them.

Taste: Dark chocolate, chai tea syrup, and a whole lot of caramel. The youth of the whisky is hinted with the bready taste of a cinnamon bun.

Score: An enjoyable and well-made whiskey, but I think it struggles to differentiate itself from other ryes. 7.5

 

Glenrothes 10, 40% ABV

Description: One of the whiskies from the new Glenrothes range.

Nose: This smells just like a tootsie roll. Cool!

Taste: Like a hazelnut croissant combining chocolate, nuts, and butter. Surprisingly thick texture for the ABV too. 

Score: The closest thing to tootsie roll candy I’ve ever found in a whisky. 8

  

Glenrothes 12, 40% ABV

Description: One of the whiskies from the new Glenrothes range.

Nose: Vanilla and coconut with an earthy undertone.

Taste: Light, easy, and pleasant. Vanilla still there, now part of a cake with peaches and meringue in it.

Score: Totally inoffensive, light, and sweet. 7

  

Glenrothes Whisky Maker’s Cut, 48.8% ABV

Description: One of the whiskies from the new Glenrothes range, the Whisky Maker’s Cut is matured in sherry-seasoned casks.

Nose: Tannic, a bit like rooibos tea. However push past that for a reward of strawberries and cream.

Taste: Unexpected sweetness, buttery like a croissant with a lovely thick goopy molasses texture.

Score: Delightful, though you’d think it’s two different whiskies based on smell and taste alone. 8.5

 

Glenrothes 18, 43% ABV

Description: One of the whiskies from the new Glenrothes range. 

Nose: Smells like the coffee you drink to wake you up in the morning with a dash of cocoa powder thrown in for good measure. 

Taste: Sweet and thick like maple syrup but also quite herbal, like freshly cut hay.

Score: Rich, sweet, and slightly grassy. 8

 

Glenrothes 25

Description: One of the whiskies from the new Glenrothes range.

Nose: You can spend a while smelling this. Liquorice, dark chocolate, nutmeg, coconut, orange peels, and black strong builder’s tea.

Taste: The combination of dark fruit and wood reminds me a little of cherry Tylenol, but that’s a good thing for me in a whisky. A bit of mint in there too. Incredibly rich and full bodied.

Score: Tastes and smells like a great older whisky. 8

 

Milk and Honey Young Single Malt Triple Cask

Description:  The first distillery in Israel producing whisky, this is one of Milk and Honey’s first attempts at a single malt, consisting of two red wine casks and a bourbon cask. One of them used to hold peated Islay whisky. 

Nose: Like being in a cab with an artificial pine scent freshener, along with a hint of strawberries and smoke. 

Taste: Incredibly smooth for young spirit, though there’s a slight off-note of rancid butter. The little nip of smoke is great. Lemon peel citrus, strawberries, and a little bit of tannin gives a nice if thin character to the body.

Score: There’s a lot of promise from this young distillery, though this whisky isn’t there yet. It may have taken Moses 40 years to reach the land of milk and honey, this distillery won’t need as much time. 6

 

 

 

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