Fun New Things to Try

What comes in a crazy package, wrapped in straw, with all kinds of fun side materials and inserts? 

Why it's batch two of the Mackinlay series from Whyte & Mackay! And let me tell you something folks, this whisky is L-E-G-I-T!

The Mackinlay's "The Journey" Rare Old Highland Whisky $172.99 is the second attempt to recreate the legendary Shackleton whiskey found frozen in Antarctica by explorers a few years back. This year's batch is faaaaaaaaaaaaaar better than last year's - and last year's was really good. Unlike most attempts to capitalize on successful momentum,  the Scottish producer has upped both the packaging and the quality this time around. 

Each bottle is wrapped in heavy straw and tagged with a label faithfully replicated from the excavated relics. Whyte & Mackay are also revealing the contents of the whiskey this time, to the extreme delight of whisky geeks everywhere: 1980 Glen Mhor (one of the rarest whiskies in the world), Glenfarclas, Mannachmore, Tamnavulin, Ben Nevis, Aultmore, Fettercairn, Pulteney, heavily-peated Dalmore, and Jura aged in Limousin oak casks. The result is wonderfully balanced blended single malt whisky without any grain component.. The smoky, peaty component plays center stage this time around, much more dominant than last year's version, but balanced by rich vanilla and a soft fruited palate. The Journey is like a far-tastier version of Johnnie Walker Blue, but made only with single malt whisky and designed specifically for Islay fans. If you're looking for a gift for the whisky lover who has everything, this is as fun, cheeky, delicious, and serious as it gets. I couldn't have been more taken aback by the stunning quality of this whisky.

The new Kilchoman release should be in stock here next week. This year's special edition, the "Loch Gorm" is fuller in body than last year's Machir Bay, but also more earthy and peat-focused. The smoke is there, but the actual peat is what's on display. Very well done, but not nearly as accessible as the Machir Bay - more for serious Islay fans.

I normally shun everything Blackadder releases because of the high price tags and the questionable quality, but this unnamed special release really got my attention. It's supposedly a single cask of unsherried Balvenie that's been teaspooned with a bit of Glenfarclas. It's light, but oily, with sweet malty grains and a classic Highland profile. For about $130 it's also quite reasonable (note: the photo is of the 200ml)

It wouldn't be a true tasting with Val if there weren't a weird, far-corner-of-the-world spirit thrown in for good measure. He's always got some crazy bottle up his sleeve. This time it was Indian rum. The Old Monk is like a breath of stale 1970s air, but it's still quite fun. Obviously colored heavily with caramel, it still brings the Old Goslings flavor. It's not going to be expensive, so I'm definitely in. Under $20 for sure.

You can also get it in the monk-shaped decanter. That's the way to go, right?

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll