Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Over A Hundred Years Of Flavor In A Drop

Whisky:  Shackleton's Old Rare Highland Malt










After returning home from Melbourne my wife's interest in whisky shot through the roof.  She'd look through the local coupon and advertisements at the whiskies and ask me what I thought of them.  Was this one good?  Was this one worth the money?  She didn't want to purchase them because money was tight, she was just after information.


I, myself tried to ignore them all to the best of my ability.  


"Why?" you might ask, knowing how much of a whisky freak I am.


Because we didn't have much money at the time and the more whisky I looked at the more I wanted to buy some, and when I fall, I never fall easy.  I ALWAYS fall hard.  If I fell it wouldn't just be a bottle or two, oh no.  The mania would take over and pretty soon I'd be looking into a liquor cabinet with several thousand dollars worth of whisky in it.


One day my wife handed me one of those liquor advertisements and pointed out an item of interest.  


That item was Shackleton's Replica.  


The circular had a little blurb about the history behind the whisky and the story of Shackleton's Antarctic expedition.  Amusingly enough they even had the whisky.


For $200 bucks.


But this whisky looked SO cool and the story was awesome and yes it was $200, but this could be a really good opportunity for myself and my wife to try an awesome rare whisky that few people would get to try and after the troubles and pains of trying to get our hands on a bottle of Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix, wouldn't it be better to grab a bottle now as opposed to trying to buy it when it was running a thousand dollars?


Now you know why I don't look at the advertisements.


But my wife just looked at me and said sure we could buy a bottle.


After work that day I rushed down to the local Dan Murphy's with my wife, convinced that they'd already sold every single bottle they had and I'd have to be driving for miles and miles to get my hands on a bottle.


How wrong I was.  


There were dozens of bottles lining the shelves (and in the months since the purchase of this bottle I am seeing even more and more bottles of Shackleton's Replica.) 


Whew we made it!  


I eagerly find a clerk and ask him to unlock the cabinet and grab me a bottle.  He informs me as he's grabbing my bottle that he's looking forward to trying this whisky and has reserved a bottle for himself.


I get up to the checkout line where a very rude clerk opens the box with the bottle inside and randomly starts fingering the cork and other little accessories inside the case.


"So you like whisky?  I like Jim Beam myself" he says.


I just reply with a quiet stare as my wife and I fume as his grubby hands handle the whisky bottle and everything else inside the case. 


Finally Toad (as he shall forever be known) processes our transaction and we're set free in a world that knows no whisky bounds!


We drive home where I eagerly await dinner and the time to crack the bottle!  


It takes forever...

But finally dinner is ready and we can crack the bottle.


As I crack the bottle open the first smell that hits us is pears.

Now as we nose the whisky the pears stay present, but also there is the oak and a lot of alcohol hit.   As my wife and I continue to nose though we start to get vanilla and cinnamon.  But the alcohol still dominates the nose.

Now we decide that we're going to share this little gem with  the whole family so we head out to the main living room and pour drams for my father in law, mother in law and one of my brother in laws.

We all decide to take a sip close together.  The first thing that everyone says is


The alcohol punches us in the face and overwhelms everything initially.  Slowly though the burn starts to fade and flavors other then alcohol start to come through.  A bonfire smoke starts to come through.  

Now to be honest, this is the first whisky I tried where I could taste smoke.  I'd always heard about drinking smoke, but I wondered how it would taste.

Now I knew!

Other flavors come through on the palate.  Creme brulee, vanilla, the pears, toffee and some lovely molasses roll around in my mouth, but always, always I come back to the pears, lovely and sweet.

The finish lingers and burns in your mouth with the pears saying good bye the entire way down.  

Very awesome whisky.  If they were drinking this good stuff over a hundred years ago I'm jealous. 

Very jealous.

Now to the big problem with this whisky.  And sadly it is a BIG problem.

And that's the cost.  This bottle right here runs at $200 AUS.  Which is bloody expensive.

Is this a good whisky?


Sure is!


Is it $200 worth of good?


Sorry I don't think so.  For that price point I can pick up three bottles of Talisker 10 yr old.  Or two bottles of Macallan 12 yr old Fine Oak.  Or I can almost afford a George T. Stagg.  Or a 40 yr Secret Cask from Abbey Whisky which is absolutely brilliant.


All of these whiskies are as good, if not better then Shackleton's Replica and for quite a bit cheaper in most cases, excluding the Stagg.


Don't get me wrong, I really like this whisky.  If it was running at around $120 AUS, I'd have two or three bottles of it in my cabinet, but at this price I sadly have to pass up another bottle.


Nose       22/25

Taste:     22/25

Finish     21/25

Balance    21/25


Overall    86/100

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