It’s time for Round 2 of the David Boles Single Malt Scotch Whisky Review! A month ago, we left you with 18-year-old The Macallan as King of the Vessel — and this round we are reviewing only 18-year-old batches of Scotch that have some tougher intra-competition for the top swallowing crown of the affected gullets! Janna and I taste-tested all of these single malts again — straight, no ice or water — hardcore drams all the way! Here’s what we discovered.
Glenmorangie 18 — $120 — Honey, Creamy Malt, Florals, Sherry, Figs, Woodsmoke
We begin with Glenmorangie 18 — truly a delicious, creamy delight. The instant experience is both refreshing and calming. The afterglow leaves behind the sweet essence of honey and fig pie. The packaging is massive and vault-like! You could probably knock $50 off the price of the Scotch by wrapping the bottle in simple cardboard instead of the magnificent golden presentation you see below. My rating: 8 out of 10.
Janna says: Very different. Is there cinnamon in here? It tastes cinnamon-musky. Light. Burns the tip of my tongue. Not a favorite, but good. 7 out of 10.
The beauty of Glenmorangie is seeing the Scotch in the beautifully designed bottle. Here’s a brighter beauty shot of the glass in sunlight and with a halogen flashlight shining up from below, within:
The Glenlivet 18 — $90 — Oaky, Fruity, Oranges, Toffee spice
When you take your first taste of The Glenlivet 18, you are immediately surprised by the magnitude of the taste for the price. The Scotch is rich and buttery, reminding you of a sunset caressing the sea. The memory left behind is one of brown sugar roasting in butter. My rating: 9 out of 10.
Janna says: I like this one better than the Glenmorangie because The Glenlivet is muskier, heavier, and bolder. Not as sweet. A candle should be made of this one — love the aroma. Reminds of of hints of black licorice and fennel. 8 out of 10.
Bunnahabhain XVIII — $115 — Salty, Leathery, Nutty, Toffee, Sherry notes
The hard-to-pronounce Bunnahabhain XVIII is a delicate surprise. I was expecting a heavy, peaty, flavor, and while the smoke is there — the essence is wispy and not overpowering. There is a great, lasting, depth here that begs a stretching of mind and experience. The flavors don’t just spread along the horizon, they bury you in the depths of the earth, too. My rating: 7 out of 10.
Janna says: I love the aroma but the taste doesn’t deliver what the smell promises. I don’t like the flat-earth aftertaste. No promise on the fruity fragrance that I could tell. Earthwormy. 6 out of 10.
Here’s a fun YouTube video — part of an Esquire magazine series — on just how to correctly pronounce “Bunnahabhain.”
Laphroaig 18 — $90 — Medicinal, Smoky, Astringent
I’m crazy about the Laphroaig 18 advertising meme:
That said, I completely and wholly agree with the reality of the truth in the Laphroaig advertising. This 18-year-old Scotch does have an antiseptic feel and rubbing alcohol taste experience. You don’t drink Laphroaig to relax and mellow — you drink Laphroaig to wake up and take on the world with a sanitized palate. There is nothing gentle or subtle here. You are here to be cleaned, and, by God, ye shall be cleansed! My rating: 6 out of 10.
Janna says: (sniffing the shot glass) Whoo! That SMELL! (tasting it) [coughing!] Don’t like this at all. [more coughing!]. Tastes like a hospital linoleum floor in the psych ward. Is this meant for people who smoke cigars and have dead tongues? If I had a sore throat, this is the medicine I would not want to take. Where’s the Fireball? 3 out of 10.
That’s it for this round of 18-year-old Scotch reviews
There is something about The Macallan doubly-overpriced single malt Scotch Whisky that calls you home and travels with you beyond the glen and deep in the narrower valley of excellence — perhaps it’s the warmth of the sherry notes or the brusqueness of the initial tang when the amber bounty touches your tongue; but whatever the reason, The Macallan 18 is remaining my private, unshared, luxury that I hope to always be able to enjoy and endear.