Let me begin with an understatement, it's been a while since I last posted. I could make all kinds of excuses, but there's really one major reason for my neglect: I haven't been making anything new to write about. It's not that I haven't been making anything at all. It's just that I have been happy with my selection of vermouth and amari, so I haven't been doing any experimentation.

So, no new experiments means no new blog posts. What can I do about that? Come up with a new focus for the blog, of course.

I am going to start writing whisky reviews.

Now, before you run away screaming, just hear me out. I think I have an idea for how to make this not just another whisky review blog. And, there's a good chance that my idea will make you run away screaming, so I just want to make sure that you flee for the right reason.

So here's my idea: Reviewing whisky through cocktails

Benromach 15 vs. Teacher's Rob Roy?cropResize=400,600)

To be fair to my whisky friends, several of them do in fact like cocktails. Just not most of them. Even my friends who like cocktails cringe at the concept of mixing with "good" whisky. I want to make them cringe even more, so I have decided to review whiskies by mixing them into cocktails.

For each review, I will select a whisky from my collection, and pick a cocktail that I think will showcase the spirit properly. I will then compare it to a cocktail made with one of my standard "mixing" spirits. My goal is to find out whether it is worth it to mix from the top shelf, or if it really is just a waste of money.

And with that, lets get into the first review: Benromach 15 vs. Rob Roy

The Rob Roy is one of my favorite drinks (scotch, vermouth, bitters, what's not to love.) I usually make it with Teacher's Highland Cream (sometimes, I'll throw a dash of Laphroaig 10 in as well) and whatever vermouth I happen to be enjoying at the moment. Today, I am cracking open a bottle of Vermut Lustau, a fantastic sweet vermouth which uses oloroso sherry as its base, instead of white wine, and px sherry as the sweetener, instead of caramelized sugar.

Vermut Lustau

Naturally, I wanted to pick a sherry aged whisky to pair with the sherry based vermouth. I also wanted something with a moderate amount of peat, to match up with the Teacher's. After perusing the shelf, I wound up grabbing the Benromach 15. It's lightly peated, lightly sherried, and relatively lightly priced as well. Generally just a lovely whisky. So is it worth mixing?

Benromach 15 Rob Roy
  • Nose: Peat dominates. Not enough to be off putting, just enough to crowd out most other smells.
  • Palate: Dark, dried fruit, less smoke than I expected.
  • Finish: Slightly sour.
Teacher's Rob Roy
  • Nose: Hint of malt, light smoke.
  • Palate: Nutty, a little smokey, the vermouth dominates a bit.
  • Finish: Sweet and malty.

Well this is a bit anticlimactic. They're both good, but that's not really enough here, is it? I probably should have picked something a bit more assertive (especially if I want to draw people in with my first review.) The Benromach certainly creates a worthy variation, but it's not something I'll go running back to.

What's next?

I think I'll aim to write one or two of these every week. Some possible future reviews:

  • Kilchoman Single Sherry Cask Sour
  • Miltonduff 21 Old Fashioned
  • Stagg Jr Boulevardier
  • I could branch out into different spirits, and make a Four Square Daiquiri
  • If the opportunity presents itself, there will definitely be a Pappy Manhattan

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