A Taste of Scotland in the Caribbean

So I was supposed to get this post up a little over a week ago but I couldn’t get the slide show function to work (solution make a slide show video file and then post it to YouTube.  Thank you WordPress for nothing!) and I got pissed off and over it at the moment.  Well, I was laying in bed and got pissed off about something else tonight, so now I can’t sleep and I am actually going to write this post now that I am pissed.  I am coming full circle with my state of “pissed-off”edness and now I am going back to my happy place: The Caribbean.

Yes I was sitting on a beach in Puerto Viejo just 10 days ago, soaking in the tropical sun, bathing in that endless blue expanse that is the Caribbean Sea.  And to top it all off, when I was back in the states 3 weeks ago I bought a bottle of Balvenie 14 Yr Caribbean Cask and was saving it for this very moment, just dying to set the aged liquid gold to my tongue.  I had been feeling Pavlovian for this one for a long time, which is funny because I had never actually had it, and I guess Pavlov’s dogs didn’t start salivating till they heard the bell, knowing that they were getting fresh meat, but I had yet to even know what the bell meant.  I guess I can say I have had enough scotch to know when one sounds extra special, and this one sounded special.  In fact I had been dreaming about this one for over a year.

So anyways, I was feeling Pavlovian, you know to the point where you are laying in bed, eyes wide, drenched in a cold sweat, muscles twitching uncontrollably, thinking about nothing else but getting your hands on that drink and confirming your mother’s worst fears that you are an alcoholic (OK, yes I am hyperbolating and NO mom, I am not an alcoholic) but seriously though, I wanted this drink and you have to understand why.  Much of the character of a fine scotch comes from the wood it sits in.  Of course you’ve got your malt, your water and your terroir (Man how I miss that peaty, salty, maritime flavor of a good Islay whisky!  Next to impossible to find in Costa Rica) all imparting ever so important flavor charactersitics, but the wood is the icing on top.  And this lovely 14 yr Speyside from the Balvenie Distillery is finished in Caribbean rum casks.  From the official description:

“After a 14 year maturation period in traditional oak whisky casks, the Balvenie is then transferred to the rum casks, leading to an exceptional Single Malt that exemplifies the signature smooth, honeyed character of the Balvenie, while adding unique notes of toffee and fruit that come from its innovative cask finish. Lovely bright gold color. Layers of sweetness (the characteristic Balvenie honey, along with vanilla fudge, nougat and rich toffee) peppered with dried spice and a hint of tropical fruit (papaya, guava, tangerine). Great viscosity with good grip on the finish. “

With the spirit in hand, I successfully kept it unopened for two weeks, holding out to open it with my father in law (yes, the old Costa Rican man in the photos who keeps his body in better shape than me.  Que macho!).  The selection of single malts in CR is actually limited to Glenlivet and Glenfiddich 12 for the most part and I have managed to turn my father in law from blends onto the single malts.  In fact, like myself, I have him in love with Talisker 10 yr.  He was likewise excited when I told him about the treat I had for our trip.  We broke open the bottle of Caribbean Cask and neither of us was disappointed.  I was surprised at how heavily this one nosed of vanilla.   To me it nosed like a well aged premium bourbon, very tempered and very sweet.  And everything else that followed was even more so pleasant.  It was so gentle and warm from the tongue to the palate.  You get all the honey, vanilla, nougat and other sweet notes here and then the spice and flashes of tropical fruit kick in on the finish.  Among my favorite Speysides to date.

Great whisky, great trip, great memories.  I don’t feel so angry anymore and just maybe I will fall asleep now.  Don’t worry, stay soggy…

Posted on by Ryan in Whisky Review

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