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Hello everyone. A quick introduction: my name is John Hansell. I am the Publisher and Editor of Malt Advocate, the magazine for the whisky enthusiast. We also created and run Whiskyfest in NYC, Chicago and San Francisco. I also have a very active Whisky blog, ""What doe John know?""

As of June 15th, we are now part of the M. Shanken Communications organization, so I thought I would chime in and introduce myself.

What are you drinking? What are your favorites?
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Advocate-

That's a catchy name for a publication. It makes me think of Ralph Nadar.

I checked the whatdoesjohnknow site. I'd like to recommend a little known bit of software called Cellartracker. After you use it, you can give a report to Marvin.

I'm truly amazed that anyone other than a restaurant, bar, or merchant has enough whisky to need tracking software.
My personal favorites are whatever a real aficionado serves me.
Huge cellartracker fan that I am, I find it hard to recommend for tracking spirits
The main reason being that it's been explicitly designed with wine in mind, and as a result you have to make a lot of adjustments. It's like drinking burgundy from a sherry glass - you can, but it's hardly optimal.

In addition, the data isn't policed anything like as well as the wine data. For example, here are all the entries for "Macallan". There's only one Macallan distillery, it's in Speyside at Easter Elchies House, Craigellachie, Banffshire.

So the country is UK, the region is Scotland and the appellation is Speyside. How many do you think are correctly annotated?

http://www.cellartracker.com//...n&Pivot3=Appellation

Welcome, John. I only have about 50 or so myself, not counting miniatures. Look forward to your posts.
Welcome, John. I don't drink a lot of "hard liquor," but I enjoy my collection of Single Malts, fueled by a visit to the Highlands of Scotland. In the modest range, my favorites from Speyside are Dalwhinnie, Balvenie, and Macallan, and Oban from the West, but my preference is for the Islays. I like the edge. Bunnahabhain and Laphroig are two favorites, but for my money, the best when cost is a consideration is Lagavulin 16.

My most favorite of all are the independent bottlings with Provenance at the top of the list. I assume you've visisted the Highlands and The Whisky Castle in Tomintoul. Mike Drury puts on a great shopw and a great tasting.
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Tong BBP:
Huge cellartracker fan that I am, I find it hard to recommend for tracking spirits
The main reason being that it's been explicitly designed with wine in mind, and as a result you have to make a lot of adjustments. It's like drinking burgundy from a sherry glass - you can, but it's hardly optimal.

In addition, the data isn't policed anything like as well as the wine data. For example, here are all the entries for "Macallan". There's only one Macallan distillery, it's in Speyside at Easter Elchies House, Craigellachie, Banffshire.

So the country is UK, the region is Scotland and the appellation is Speyside. How many do you think are correctly annotated?

http://www.cellartracker.com//...n&Pivot3=Appellation

Welcome, John. I only have about 50 or so myself, not counting miniatures. Look forward to your posts.


Only 50!! I bet that's more than 98% of people on these Boards. I have 3 Frown
John,

Welcome to the M. Shanken family, and to the Forums. You may find a bit of tough love here, but for the most part, people are passionate and hospitable.

My first visit to Scotland was in 1988, one of my first work excursions for Wine Spectator. I'll never forget stopping into a pub on Islay, and noticing that the ice cubes in a bucket were all slightly brown. "Peaty water," noted the barman. No wonder the whiskey tastes the way it does. The fellow who showed us around Laphroaig said, "A few customers send it back every year because they think something's gone off. That tell us we're still on the right track."

Stay on the track, and keep the information coming.

Cheers,

Thomas Matthews
Executive editor
Wine Spectator

Thomas Matthews
I enjoy a good single malt here and there, but have not tasted enough to feel even remotely well-versed in the area. I've had a good deal of the typical finds from the glenfiddich's, glenlivet's and glenmorangie's to the johnnie walker's, chivas regal's and macallan's.

With that said, pretty much across the board I tend to favor Glenlivet. I'd have to say my favorite is the 25 year old (I finally got one for my last birthday) and for the price I love the 15 year. I recently spoke with the US ambassador for glenlivet and chivas regal at a local costco and told him that I think the 15 year glenlivet is better than the 18 or 21 year bottlings. He smiled, shook my hand and told me that he fully agreed.

Man is that 15 year Glenlivet dang good at the price. But then again, many years ago in college, I would of told you that Jack Daniels was my best friend.
quote:
Originally posted by Thomas Matthews:
John,

Welcome to the M. Shanken family, and to the Forums. You may find a bit of tough love here, but for the most part, people are passionate and hospitable.

My first visit to Scotland was in 1988, one of my first work excursions for Wine Spectator. I'll never forget stopping into a pub on Islay, and noticing that the ice cubes in a bucket were all slightly brown. "Peaty water," noted the barman. No wonder the whiskey tastes the way it does. The fellow who showed us around Laphroaig said, "A few customers send it back every year because they think something's gone off. That tell us we're still on the right track."

Stay on the track, and keep the information coming.

Cheers,

Thomas Matthews
Executive editor
Wine Spectator

Thomas Matthews


Thomas,

Thank you for the warm welcome. I am used to tough love, from the passionate whisky enthusiasts on my blog.

I have a peaty water story for everyone. I first took my wife to Scotland in 1991. We spent a VERY long, cold day on the Isle of Skye (including a trip to Talisker), and we end up staying at an old hunting lodge for the evening. They, of course, had no shower, just a bathtub.

Amy wanted a hot bath, so I started filling up the bathtub. After four inches deep of water, it was so brown from peat, you coudn't see the bottom of the tub! She refused to take a bath in it!!
quote:
Originally posted by AZwineRyan:
I enjoy a good single malt here and there, but have not tasted enough to feel even remotely well-versed in the area. I've had a good deal of the typical finds from the glenfiddich's, glenlivet's and glenmorangie's to the johnnie walker's, chivas regal's and macallan's.

With that said, pretty much across the board I tend to favor Glenlivet. I'd have to say my favorite is the 25 year old (I finally got one for my last birthday) and for the price I love the 15 year. I recently spoke with the US ambassador for glenlivet and chivas regal at a local costco and told him that I think the 15 year glenlivet is better than the 18 or 21 year bottlings. He smiled, shook my hand and told me that he fully agreed.

Man is that 15 year Glenlivet dang good at the price. But then again, many years ago in college, I would of told you that Jack Daniels was my best friend.


I agree with you, the 15 year is realy good but I am currently enjorying Glenfiddich (18year).

I also enjoy a nice bourbon ( Four roses and Woodford Reserve in particular)
I prefer beer or wine when quaffing, but will spring for a good Scotch prior to a steak.

Hard liquor for me is never US made. About as bad as Chinese food from Minnesota, or Italian food from the Chef. Just never found anything I like, Bourbon is best as an ingredient in cookies.

Love single malts. The older the better. Like Oban 18 year best. Glenfiddich & McCallan.

Welcome to the forums, and the 'tough love'
Welcome to the forums.

Drinking a few different bottles right now (Balvenie 10yr Founder's Reserve, Balvenie 12yr Doublewood, Yamazaki 12yr, The Glenrothes 1994), but nothing really outstanding.

Favorites are the Balvenie 21yr Portwood, Highland Park 18yr, and The Macallan 1851 Inspiration. Johnnie Walker Blue King George V is one of my favorite blended, but not worth the tariff for me. Compass Box Oak Cross is also pretty nice, in a much more affordable range. On the lower end, the RedBreast 12yr is also tasty, though I haven't had the chance to try the 15yr vatted.
quote:
Originally posted by Thomas Matthews:
John,

Welcome to the M. Shanken family, and to the Forums. You may find a bit of tough love here , but for the most part, people are passionate and hospitable..........

Thomas Matthews
Executive editor
Wine Spectator

Thomas Matthews
<applies chap-stick>

But we've always been nice to you Mr. Matthews. Cool
quote:
Originally posted by JohnHansell:
Have you tried the Yamazaki 18? While I think the 12 is nice, I REALLY like the 18. A lot more depth. Better than many scotch whiskies.

Redbreast 12 is a classic Pure Pot Still Irish--you can't go wrong there. Ditto Highland Park 18--a benchmark Single Malt Scotch.


I haven't had a chance to try the Yamazaki 18, but will probably pick one up soon. I recently picked up a Bruichladdich 20yr Second Edition, another Balvenie 21yr Portwood, and an Old Malt Cask Glen Spey 32yr. Alas, if I keep buying, the wife won't be too pleased.

I agree with respect to the Highland Park 18. Amazing scotch, especially for the price. I love the power, richness, and balance of flavors. I find the honey and toffee really balance out the smoke & peat well.

I may be in the minority, but I can't stand scotches that taste only like you're sucking on an iodine soaked ashtray (yes I'm looking at you, Lagavulin 16yr & Laphroaig 15yr). About as spicy & peaty leaning as I can take is a Talisker 10.
So many regions and whiskeys to explore. I became a Whiskey enthousiast while visiting Scotland, especially when sitting at the Whiskey bar of a certain hotel in Craigellachie Wink

My preferred distilleries are:
Clynelish/Brora
Highland Park
Scapa
Ardbeg
Laphroaig
Cragganmore
Glengoyne
Auchentoshan
Rosebank

I try to vary regions, distilleries, bottlings (independant bottlings ...)

My preferred bottles so far:
Highland Park 18
Highland Park 30 CS
Clynelish 14
Talisker 20 CS
Scapa 12 G&M
Glenkinchie 17yr CS 1987 Signatory
Ardbeg 10
Ardbeg Uigeadail
Laphroaig Quarter Cask
Port Ellen 25yr 1982 OMC D.Laing
Auchentoshan 16 first fill burbon
Rosebank 12 Flora&Fauna
Glengoyne 17
Cragganmore 12
Linkwood 25 G&M
Balvenie 21 Port Wood
...
Midleton Very Rare 2008 (Ireland)
Jameson 18 limited reserve
...
Nikka Yoichy 20

Total collection: +- 80 bottles
Last edited by moselleluxemburg
quote:
Originally posted by gotapex:
Welcome to the forums.

Favorites are the Balvenie 21yr Portwood, Highland Park 18yr, and The Macallan 1851 Inspiration. Johnnie Walker Blue King George V is one of my favorite blended, but not worth the tariff for me. Compass Box Oak Cross is also pretty nice, in a much more affordable range. On the lower end, the RedBreast 12yr is also tasty, though I haven't had the chance to try the 15yr vatted.


Yeah, I'm happy to drink JWB King George V when someone else is buying. Wink
quote:
Originally posted by JohnHansell:
quote:
Originally posted by gotapex:
Welcome to the forums.

Favorites are the Balvenie 21yr Portwood, Highland Park 18yr, and The Macallan 1851 Inspiration. Johnnie Walker Blue King George V is one of my favorite blended, but not worth the tariff for me. Compass Box Oak Cross is also pretty nice, in a much more affordable range. On the lower end, the RedBreast 12yr is also tasty, though I haven't had the chance to try the 15yr vatted.


Yeah, I'm happy to drink JWB King George V when someone else is buying. Wink


I have never got the Blue Label. Sure, it is a solid drink, but no where close to the price...LCBO charges ~$250, I grabbed a bottle for $90 in the Caribbean and I still think that is too much. I would compare it the Opus One of wines. Good drink, grossly over priced, and wows those who don't really know what they are drinking with label shock. Just my thoughts.
quote:
Originally posted by lakeshow:
quote:
Originally posted by JohnHansell:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by gotapex:
Welcome to the forums.

Wink


I have never got the Blue Label. Sure, it is a solid drink, but no where close to the price...LCBO charges ~$250, I grabbed a bottle for $90 in the Caribbean and I still think that is too much. I would compare it the Opus One of wines. Good drink, grossly over priced, and wows those who don't really know what they are drinking with label shock. Just my thoughts.


Not a bad analogy, comparing it to Opus One.
quote:
Originally posted by JohnHansell:
quote:
Originally posted by Chilicat:
My favorite bourbon is currently 20 year old Pappy Van Winkle. I can't justify double the price for the 23 year old.


I agree. While I've had some very enjoyable Pappy 23, the Pappy 20 works just fine for me--and at a much lower price tag.


I find that the Van Winkle "Lot B" is a great value to get the Van Winkle quality but not the huge price tag. I also am enjoying going back and forth between the George T. Stagg and the Parker's Heritage Reserve right now.

And, on the other end of the spectrum, a great value is the standard Buffalo Trace bottling.

Dale
quote:
Originally posted by Rob_Sutherland:
I'm enjoying a bottle of Glenmorangie extra-Sauternes finished (Nectar d'Or) at the moment. I like richer/sweeter whisky though...


Tried that once and really didn't think it was worth the money.
It was twice the price of the port or madeira finishes and really didn't add that much. For the same price you can find the 18 year old, and it's a much better malt. The 25 year old is excellent, but the price has rocketed in recent years so I doubt I'll be replacing my current bottle.

I suppose I'm a semi-purist. I cut my teeth on Glenmorangie 10YO so long ago that I can't remember how I got started. It was my go-to malt for a long time, until I discovered The Macallan. I love sherry-cask whisky like Macallan and Glendronach so long as it's intended to be that way; the idea of taking an established malt and then finishing it in a different wood strikes me as a bit like Duchamp's Fountain or LHOOQ - okay so it's art, but does it really add anything to the original beyond marketing?
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Tong BBP:
quote:
Originally posted by Rob_Sutherland:
I'm enjoying a bottle of Glenmorangie extra-Sauternes finished (Nectar d'Or) at the moment. I like richer/sweeter whisky though...




I suppose I'm a semi-purist. I cut my teeth on Glenmorangie 10YO so long ago that I can't remember how I got started.


The 10 year old is a beautiful whisky. Clean, easy to drink, and subtly complex. And it has improved over the past several years.

The wood finishes, I think, comes down to personal preference.
Hi John -- just checked out the site, very good stuff. I just started getting into Whisky about 6 months ago. My everyday go-to is Highland Park 12 and Johnnie Walker Black. If I want something a little better, I'll open my Johnnie Green or Gold or my Macallan 15. If I really want to celebrate, I'll open my Johnnie Blue that I received as a gift for completing grad school last fall.
John, what's your opinion of the current Macallan 12YO release?
Is it just my imagination, or its it a significant step down from where it was say 20 years ago (in the white box with the water colour label)?

Are they putting the better barrels into the NAS cask strength bottling these days? It seems to have more depth of flavour, though comes across as a bit rougher, presumably due to the lack of maturity.
Just checked to see what I have hanging around. I don't drink whisky very often but only like reasonably good stuff. There are six Scotches:

Highland Park 12yo
Old Poultney 12yo
The Singleton 12yo
Royal Lochnagar 12yo
Glenmorangie 10yo
Ledaig 1990 (b 2005)

I'm also a fan of Laphroaig, Balvenie and Bunnahabhain. I'll also admit to having a Chivas Regal, which was a gift and very pleasant for a blend, and a Grant's Sherry cask for hot toddies (never use the good stuff).
quote:
Originally posted by KillerB:
Just checked to see what I have hanging around. I don't drink whisky very often but only like reasonably good stuff. There are six Scotches:

Highland Park 12yo
Old Poultney 12yo
The Singleton 12yo
Royal Lochnagar 12yo
Glenmorangie 10yo
Ledaig 1990 (b 2005)

I'm also a fan of Laphroaig, Balvenie and Bunnahabhain. I'll also admit to having a Chivas Regal, which was a gift and very pleasant for a blend, and a Grant's Sherry cask for hot toddies (never use the good stuff).


KillerB - I am more of a bourbon guy than a scotch guy, but i do really like the Singleton 12 yr. Another is the Glenfiddich 15 yr 'cask proof'. the extra proof seems to cut some of the bite (i know, seems back-asswards) that I don't like in most scotches.

Dale
quote:
Originally posted by jburman82:
quote:
Originally posted by KSC02:
(2) Bottles of Green Spot hand-delivered yesterday from the Emerald Isles Cool


Let me know how you like it.

Just sat down to devote some attention to this and give taste.

Rich and full bodied with a touch of spice undertones that really play on the palate. Meanwhile being silky and a bit unctuous. There's a lot going on here and it's all good. Lush. A phrase I don't typically attribute to a whiskey. Very, very nice.

Never knowing about this previously, I'm very happy to have come across this thanks to you, jburman. Smile
quote:
Originally posted by Dave Tong BBP:
John, what's your opinion of the current Macallan 12YO release?
Is it just my imagination, or its it a significant step down from where it was say 20 years ago (in the white box with the water colour label)?

Are they putting the better barrels into the NAS cask strength bottling these days? It seems to have more depth of flavour, though comes across as a bit rougher, presumably due to the lack of maturity.


I haven't had the Mac 12 recently--been focusing on the new release. But maybe I need to revisit?
quote:
Originally posted by JohnHansell:
Green Spot is one of two Pure Pot Still Irish whiskeys on the market. If you like Green Spot, you'll also like the other one--Redbreast!


Have you had a chance to try the Redbreast 15? I've only tried the 12 (great whiskey, BTW), but everyone says if you can get your hands on a 15, do it!
quote:
Originally posted by gotapex:
quote:
Originally posted by JohnHansell:
Green Spot is one of two Pure Pot Still Irish whiskeys on the market. If you like Green Spot, you'll also like the other one--Redbreast!


Have you had a chance to try the Redbreast 15? I've only tried the 12 (great whiskey, BTW), but everyone says if you can get your hands on a 15, do it!


Yes, I have tried the 15 and it's very good. Ihave a bottle. Now, here's the good news. Redbreast 15 is coming to the U.S. later this year. That's what my sources tell me. Smile
quote:
Originally posted by KSC02:
quote:
Originally posted by JohnHansell:
Green Spot is one of two Pure Pot Still Irish whiskeys on the market. If you like Green Spot, you'll also like the other one--Redbreast!

Noted. Actually, Redbreast is available here in our market (SAQ)


I picked up a bottle of the Redbreast yesterday and tried it last night. Really like it. Thanks for the tip, because I doubt I would have picked this up on my own. Reasonably priced at $43 too.
quote:
Originally posted by KSC02:
quote:
Originally posted by jburman82:
quote:
Originally posted by KSC02:
(2) Bottles of Green Spot hand-delivered yesterday from the Emerald Isles Cool


Let me know how you like it.

Just sat down to devote some attention to this and give taste.

Rich and full bodied with a touch of spice undertones that really play on the palate. Meanwhile being silky and a bit unctuous. There's a lot going on here and it's all good. Lush. A phrase I don't typically attribute to a whiskey. Very, very nice.

Never knowing about this previously, I'm very happy to have come across this thanks to you, jburman. Smile


Glad you liked it and it wasnt a let down.
quote:
Originally posted by JohnHansell:
quote:
Originally posted by gotapex:
quote:
Originally posted by JohnHansell:
Green Spot is one of two Pure Pot Still Irish whiskeys on the market. If you like Green Spot, you'll also like the other one--Redbreast!


Have you had a chance to try the Redbreast 15? I've only tried the 12 (great whiskey, BTW), but everyone says if you can get your hands on a 15, do it!


Yes, I have tried the 15 and it's very good. Ihave a bottle. Now, here's the good news. Redbreast 15 is coming to the U.S. later this year. That's what my sources tell me. Smile


w00t! Awesome news. I thought they were out of production already.
I wasn't going to chime in with yet another endorsement of the Talisker 10 YO and the Highland Park 12 YO, but have to give a special nod to the Scapa 16 YO, which a friend was generous enough to share with me on the weekend. My favourite malt yet, even ahead of the Highland Park 18 YO.

In the bourbons, Woodford Reserve gets my vote. Makes one hell of a Manhattan, shaken over ice and strained.
quote:
Originally posted by Horton:
but have to give a special nod to the Scapa 16 YO, which a friend was generous enough to share with me on the weekend.


I'll second the Scapa, which is relatively new to me as well. Pick it up on a whim while stopped over at Heathrow, it didn't last long. Good bottle for someone looking for something new.
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
I doin't get all the praise people are heaping on the Highland Park 12 and 18. They're good values, but relatively boring to me. I guess they're easy to like, especially for those for whom the Islays are too sharp.


I feel the exact same way. Like Macallan, Highland Park has become a victim of overproduction. I tasted a late 1990s Macallan 12yo against a modern 12yo and the difference is like night and day. Same with the 18yo and Highland Park 12yo and 18yo.

I can appreciate what Michael Jackson did for the whisky industry, but his endless praise for Highland Park and Macallan has led to a major drop in quality.
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
I just got an email from Olivier Humbrecht (he of Zind-Humbrecht) and he told me of his recent visit to Scotland. He mentioned really enjoying a recent release from Highland Park called Earl Magnus 15 year old.


That's available here for $125.

Life was so much simpler when I drank Mouton Cadet and Wiser's Deluxe Rye Whiskey.
quote:
Originally posted by marcb7:
I recently had the Highland Park 18 y/o...it was pretty good but no where as good as the Macallan 18 that I typically drink. Ill have to seek out this other one from Highland.


There is something about the highland park 18 that doesn't sit right with me. I think the 12 is a much better drink, price not considered. Neither compare to the Macallan 18. Unfortunately, this could be the biggest rip of at the LCBO...which is saying a lot. $90 at the duty free at the border, around $270 at LCBO!
quote:
Originally posted by Board-O:
I find the Highland Park 12 and 18 to be boring. I don't get all the fuss about them, though they seem to be modestly priced. In that price range, I like Balvenie, Laphroig, and Bowmore.


I think the Balvenie is a more direct comparison to the Highland Park, and I agree, it is a much better drink. Jumping up a scale, the Balvenie 21 Port Wood is, in my opinion, one of the greatest readily available whiskys.

The Laphroig and Bowmore are both great drinks, but I prefer to pony up a few extra bucks and get the Lagavulin 16. Absolutely perfect on a cold winter night...that is when a quality vintage port isn't around.

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