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Scotch Rebel

Jack Bettridge
Posted: January 25, 2006

(continued from page 1)

The Peat Monster
His strictness regarding barrels used for aging extends to the number of cycles the casks have undergone. The number is one. Scotch makers not only purchase formerly used barrels for other wines and spirits, they also are allowed to recycle them for further whisky making. Glaser insists on only first-fill barrels (casks new to Scotch aging that have been used only once for other spirits). The result is obvious: advanced maturation compared with whiskies that have been aged in second- and third-fill barrels.

The overall results are obvious as well. In Glaser's words: "It is about pleasure. Not clubbiness or trying to assert your masculinity. It's about drinking good stuff."

A tasting follows of Glaser's standard portfolio (distilleries noted are the principal sources for each spirit:

Hedonism -- Vatted Grain -- Cambus, Caledonian, Cameron Bridge grain distilleries -- between 12 and 23 years old -- 86 proof -- $75

This pure grain mixture will be an eye-opener for anyone who thinks grain whisky cheapens blended Scotch. A rich whiff of vanilla, almost Bourbon, on the nose is followed by decadently sweet candy on the palate. The sugar gains body and becomes toffee and vanilla before the finish slowly fades with a host of interesting spices.

Asyla -- Grain & Malt -- Blended Scotch Whisky -- Cragganmore, Linkwood, Glen Elgin malt distilleries; Cambus Cameron Bridge grains -- between 10 and 12 years old -- 80 proof -- $35

Another learning experience about grains, this time with a blended Scotch. The quality grain whiskies are evident on the nose with sweet vanilla and some grain, but then comes the slight smoke of peat. It hits the tongue with sweetness, but quickly turns into an explosion of spices and licorice. Long, spicy finish.

Eleuthera -- Vatted Malt -- Clynelish, Glenlossie, Caol Ila malt distilleries -- between 10 and 18 years old -- 92 proof -- $50

The whisky weds Highland, Speyside and Islay single malts, and all areas announce themselves on the nutty, sweet, smoky nose. In the mouth, it becomes a blast of licorice with a vanilla core, then softens to banana flavors. On the finish, the peat of Islay asserts itself with a slowly fading smoky warmth.

The Peat Monster -- Vatted Malt -- Caol Ila, Ardmore malt distilleries -- between 10 and 15 years old -- 92 proof -- $45

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