Whisky Head to Head

Based on my notes below I have ranked the whiskies I have tasted:

  1. Brora 38
  2. Longrow 14 (old bottling, 90s?)
  3. Longrow 18
  4. Glenlivet Archive 21
  5. Deanston 18
  6. Springbank 9 Local Barley
  7. Glenlivet 18
  8. Old Pulteney 18
  9. Hibiki Harmony
  10. Longmorn 16
  11. Deanston 8 Red wine
  12. Highland Park 18 Viking Pride
  13. Hazelburn 10
  14. Deanston 12
  15. Macallan 2013 (20y)
  16. Glen Scotia Victoriana
  17. Glenfarcas 17
  18. Deanston Virgin Oak
  19. Deanston (Selected Malts Oloroso Finish 2009-2018)
  20. Longrow Red 13
  21. Longrow
  22. Balvenie 12 Triple Cask
  23. Nikka from the Barrel
  24. Glenmorangie Signet
  25. Longrow 14 Sherry
  26. Highland Park 1998-2010
  27. Old Pulteney 12
  28. Glendronach 18 Allardice
  29. Balcones
  30. Balcones Peated
  31. Andalusia Tripled Destilled
  32. Glenmorangie 10
  33. Ranger Creek Rimfire
  34. Bushmills Single Malt 12
  35. Bushmills Single Malt 10
  36. Knob Creek 9
  37. Jim Beam Rye
  38. Jim Beam Black
  39. Makers Mark
  40. TX Texas Straight Bourbon
  41. Jameson Black Barrel
  42. Johnny Walker White Walker
  43. Motörhead
  44. Crown Royal Rye
  45. Mackmyra Brukswhisky
  46. Storm
  47. Jack Daniels
  48. Jura Superstition
  49. Floki Young Malt
  50. Famous Grouse
  51. J&B
  52. Urquhart Castle 10 (Speyside single malt)

Peated

Usually peated whiskies win on raw power compared to unpeated whiskies. However, that does not mean that a peated whisky is generally preferable on a given occation. But I made a separate list.

  1. Laphroaig 10
  2. Caol Ila 12
  3. Talisker 10
  4. Kilchoman Machir Bay
  5. Bunnahabhain 8 Heavily Peated
  6. Hven Tychos Star
  7. Ardbeg Corrywreckan
  8. Ledaig 10
  9. Longrow (moderately peated)
  10. For Peats Sake
  11. Mackmyra Svensk Rök

Background and Idea

The idea is to drink two different whiskies and make a few comments. I usually do this alone, in the evening, with two small drams, a glas of water and some salty snacks (like crisps).

To me the way I experience a whisky can change from time to time. Not the least, it depends on what I have eaten and drunk before I taste the whisky. I find it very hard to drink one whisky one day, and another the next day, and compare them. I also find it hard to try many whiskies, because my senses quickly change. So two whiskies, head to head, should be the most fair way I can compare and rate whisky.

It is not my intention to rate value-for-money. I will mostly try standard whiskies that are produced and available, and expected to have somewhat consistent quality. I think it is more interesting to find good affordable available whiskies, than to seek the ultimate bottle from a lost distillery. Occasionally I will however try a more unique, rare and expensive bottle, to see how it compares.

General Findings

I am beginning to identify categories that work for me:

  • Standard
  • Sweet
  • Peat

Notes

Deanston 18 vs Old Pulteney 18: Color very similar, Old Pulteney somewhat darker. On the nose Old Pulteney is more pleasant; sweeter and richer. Deanston is dryer and slightly more chemical. Old Pulteney tastes perfectly balanced with a clear (but not overwhelming) hint of its Spanish oak casks, nice after taste. Deanston also very nicely balanced, with (to my taste) a more dry traditional single malt character. Both are very stable representatives of 18 year old Scotch single malt, but neither is very brave. If I have to choose I prefer the Deanston, I find it more interesting.

Jameson Black Barrel vs White Walker: Jameson has a deep sweet characteristic scent while White Walker is more subtle, a bit chemical to me. Taste impressions are quite the same; White Walker has a quite thin, somewhat sweet taste (perhaps the best I can say is that its not too bad considering its a blend). Jameson tastes caramel, very good, but a bit too much of something. I prefer Jameson, even without considering it is both cheaper an generally available. The reason I tried these two is that I found White Walker ice cold quite nice. I froze another blend (J&B) and it was not at all as good, and not as sweet. So I thought perhaps White Walker had a sweetness like Jameson Black Barrel, but it wasn’t so. I will try Black Barrel frozen some day (since White Walker is limited edition).

Glenmorangie 10 vs Storm: Both rather pale color, and light fruity on the nose. The Storm may actually have a slightly richer aroma. Glenmorangie tastes excellent in its light simplicity, although some bitterness remains. Storm is heavier, more flavour, less fruity, a bit chemical and more bitterness: I lack a defined character. After a while, I clearly prefer Glenmorangie, despite it is lighter (usually a more heavy whisky wins head to head, is my experience). Later, Glenmorange remains flawless in its simplicity, while there is something unpleasant about Storm.

Makers Mark vs Motörhead: Unsurprisingly they are both nice dark amber in color, very similar. Makers Mark has a much sweeter (raisin, vanilla) aroma while Motörhead is much more subtle. Same is true for the taste; Makers Mark has a fine Bourbon flavour also after drinking the drier and lighter Motörhead. They are both good. For those who like Bourbon Makers Mark is clearly the winner. Motörhead is still a good oakflavoured whisky, perhaps too sweet and Bourbon-like to those who don’t like that. Considering price, or not, I must say Makers Mark is the better whisk(e)y. Although, there are situations when I could prefer Motörhead.

Caol Ila 12 vs Kilchoman Machir Bay: As I expected quite similar color and aroma. Kilchoman slightly paler. On the nose they are clearly different, but I have a hard time putting words on it. Caol Ila is heavier, more oily. Starting tasting Kilchoman is like a sparkling firework in the mouth, very good. Caol Ila is, even when it comes to flavour heavier, more oily and more smooth. Sometimes I love heavily peated whisky and sometimes I think it is too much. This time I like them both. Ultimately, Caol Ila comes out slightly better for being richer and more smooth, but it is very close.

Kilchoman Machir Bay vs Longrow (no age): Longrow is clearly a bit darker in color, while Kilchoman is clearly is more peaty on the nose. Longrow needs water and has a balanced, somewhat dry, bitter and pale flavour (not so salty though). Kilchoman is richer in flavour and has an Islay and island character not present in Longrow (despite it is a bit peated). These two whiskies are a bit too different to compare head to head, and neither of them really benefit from being compared to each other (they both smell funny, a bit like soap, after a while). While (the young) Longrow is very good and perhaps more easy to enjoy, head to head Kilchoman is much more interesting.

Deanston Virgin Oak vs Glenmorangie 10: Deanston is a bit more amber colored while Glenmorangie is not that pale. Glenmorangie is light, almost like a wine on the nose, Deanston has a distinct oak and dried fruit aroma. These impressions are well reflected in a first tasting round. Deaston is a bit more rough and raw and Glenmorangie remains subtle and sophisticated. Both are rather young single malts in the lower price segment, both are very good, but lack perfection. I do prefer Deanston.

Jura Superstition vs Longrow: The Jura is more golden in color but quite similar. Both have a pleasant aroma, Longrow more peaty. Tasting both head to head is a clear win to Longrow: the Jura is hardly pleasant and Longrow is quite perfect.

Andalusia Triple Destilled vs Glenmorangie 10: The Texan is much darker in color, but to the nose they are very similar: Andalusia a bit more raisins perhaps, and Glenmorangie slightly lighter. The difference in taste is more significant: Andalusia focuses on the sweet oak flavour which is not bad at all (but a bit simple), while Glenmorangie has wider palette of flavours (but a little bitter). I realise that Andalusia, being triple destilled, should be compared to an Irish whisky rathern than Scotch. Head to head, Andalusia is the more pleasant whisky.

Hven Tychos Star vs Mackmyra Svensk Rök: two Swedish peated (well, at least smoky) whiskies. Hven has a somewhat darker color. They smell rather different. Mackmyra has a very clear dry smoke smell, like burnt, almost fire, and not much else. First impression of Hven is that it has a more traditional peat aroma, but after a while I don’t know; it smells sweet. Starting to taste Macmyra it is surprisingly good – not very much flavour (just like its color and aroma) but not bad. I immediately add water. Hven has a much richer flavour, also surprisingly good and balanced. Mackmyra softens with some water but there is not much to discover. I prefer Hven, but it was more even than I thought, and I had lower expectations and was surprised.

Andalusia Triple Destilled vs Balcones: Both from Texas, pretty amber in color, Balcones even more so (but perhaps because it is stronger at 53%). Andalusia has a deep fruity aroma, very similar to Balcones it seems. Both need water, and they turn out to be very similar, for a while indistinguishable. Somewhat to my surpise I find Balcones to taste better (there are some unpleasant notes in Andalusia after a while, and head to head).

Bushmill Single Malt 12 vs Glenmorangie 10: As expected the Irish triple-destilled whisky has a darker color, and a sweeter aroma. I was a bit surprised though to find that the Bushmill is rougher, more crude and bitter, less smooth. And sweeter of course. Glenmorangie is more on the winey side. Although different in character they are similar in taste quality. If I have to pick, I prefer Glenmorangie.

Deanston 18 vs Macallan 2013 (distilled 1993, cask strength): Very similar in color, and in aroma as well. Perhaps Macallan is a bit more fruity. Macallan obviusly needs to be watered down but this evening I don’t find it tastes particularly good. Deanston is richer, a bit saltier, and tastier.

Storm vs Urquhart Castle 10 (a souvenir single Speyside malt): The castle whisky is very pale. It has a light aroma, but I like it better than the more sweet and chemical Storm. I taste both and find Urquhart not very smooth, it actually has a bit of this burnt sawdust flavour that I usually find in very young whiskies. Storm taste bitter-sweet in a way I dont particularly like, but it is still more pleasant than Qrquhart castle.

Glenlivet Archive 21 vs Old Pulteney 18: Similar color but Glenlivet a bit more red and Old Pulteney a bit more pale. Glenlivet has a fantastic balanced aroma and Old Pulteney has a sligthly saltier smell (perhaps like sea); so far very good and quite as expected. Also when it comes to flavour the Glenlivet is really good, a bit sweeter than I expected, but very nice. Old Pulteney is saltier (iodine?) and less soft. And less perfect. There are different preferences, but so far Glenlivet Archive 21 is the most flawless whisky I have tried (in this list).

Ledaig 10 vs Longrow: Very similar color (Ledaig perhaps paler). Somewhat surprised I find that Ledaig has more aroma, richer and more peat, while Longrow is more reserved (but not bad at all). Longrow tastes great, with its dry salty flavour, but I add a little water to it. Ledaig has more flavour, especially more peat and sea. This is why it is hard to test more peated against less peated (and Longrow – no age – has surprisingly little peat). So, while Longrow is a perfect whisky, Ledaig has more of everything. So in the peated category, Ledaig wins.

Deanston 12 vs Ranger Creek Rimfire: Similar in color the Texan has a surprisingly sweet and nice aroma (it is Mesquite smoked so I expected it to be more sharp). When it comes to flavour though the Deanston wins (today I find Deanston 12 very good). I could be completely wrong, but the Texan reminds me a little of tequila and that is not to its advantage.

Ardbeg Corrywreckan vs Hven Tycho Star: The Ardbeg i paler, but not surprisingly has a thicker smell. Tycho Star has a good flavour with a nice burnt, short smoky finish. Ardbeg is, quite similar or very different? I got confused. Even after tasting the (powerful) Ardbeg, Tycho Star actually tastes really good! And getting back to Ardbeg, this is not so easy! Corrywreckan is not my favourite Ardbeg, it has its moments. And if you like more of everything you probably prefer Ardbeg, but tonight I find Hven to produce a more appealing whisky than Ardbeg.

Balcones vs Deanston 12: Balcones being much darker in colour, Deanston still has more aroma. While Deanston has an aroma of whisky and wine Balcones is more raisins or rum. When it comes to the flavour Balcones is very sweet, yet a bit sharp (I did add water to the 53% Texan). Deanston is much more balanced, has more flavour to offer and is milder. Conclusion: while a more peaty whisky tends to beat a less peaty whisky head to head, the same is not true for a sweet whisky.

Deanston 12 vs Longmorn 16: Very similar in colour and not that different aroma. Deanston smells more caramel and Longmorn is more deep and subtle on the nose. I like the taste of both of them and I think they both represent good Scotish single malt that are neither peated nor particularly sweet (sherry). In the end, I think Longmorn is the better one, but not by much, and Deaston is both classic and a bit particular, while Longmorn is more anonymous.

Balcones vs Bushmill 12: Balcones is slightly more red in color, and more raisin aroma while Bushmill has more oak aroma. Quite similar though. At first taste, none of them is perfect: Balcones too sharp and sweet, Bushmill a bit bitter and dull (perhaps), lacking something. Balcones improves with water and even though it is sweeter than I prefer, it is the better of the two.

Deanston 12 vs Deanston Oloroso Finish (Selected Malts 2009-2018): The Oloroso whisky is slightly darker in color as expected. When it comes to aroma there is some difference: 12 YO is more caramel, Oloroso is sweeter, quite as expected. First impression of Oloroso is that it has a lot of flavour but fades away quickly (not so strange given its young age). I add water (its just above 50%) and find that not much remain. Oloroso is young and thin compared to 12 YO which is richer, deeper and tastier.

Deanston 12 vs Old Pulteney 12: I can see no difference in color. Not very different on the nose either, Old Pulteney is more sea, medicinal, while Deanston is more oak and a bit sweeter. Tasting Old Pulteney it is a little burnt, slightly bitter. Deanston tastes sweeter and more bourbon. Back to Old Pulteney it is a bit thinner, there is something (chemical) about it reminding me of a blend. I like Old Pulteney but I like Deanston more.

Longmorn 16 vs Old Pulteney 18: Very similar traditional whisky color. When it comes to aroma, Longmorn has a softer wine and fruit speyside character while Old Pulteney reminds of the and is a bit peaty. The differences in the mouth matches the differences on the nose. No immediate winner. Very close race actually, and it is even harder to pick a winner because they are quite different. In the end Old Pulteney wins. I don’t think its because it has more sea and peat, but because it is more rich and Longmorn is somehow a little thin and bitter. Both are good.

Bushmills 12 vs Old Pulteney 12: Old Pulteney quite paler as expected. On the nose Bushmill is more sweet and nice, while Old Pulteney comes of quite chemical. First taste of Old Pulteney is satisfying though. Tasting Bushmills it got difficult, Bushmills tasting sherry and little more. In the end Old Pulteney has more to offer, but it is really close.

Deanston Oloroso Finish vs Makers Mark: not surprisingly the bourbon is a bit more golden, but not so much. On the nose Deaston is much more elegant and subtle, the bourbon obviously sweet and oaky. Tasting Makers Mark: it is not bad at all, perhaps everything I want in a bourbon however a little sharp. Deanston, again, more elegant, and I add water to both. Tonight, I find this Deanston excellent, and better than Makers Mark.

Hven Tychos Star vs Kilchoman Machir Bay: To the eye Kilchoman is very pale compared to Hven. On the nose they both have a quite burnt peaty smell (more fire than sea), Kilchoman a bit more powerful. When it comes to taste, Hven is more sweet (although not very sweet) while Kilchoman is more sour. With a bit of water Kilchoman develops a bit and it has a deeper flavour, not entirely better, but in the end I prefer Kilchoman. Although this is a surprisingly close race.

Glenmorangie Signet vs Longmorn 16: Both quite deep and similar in color. On aroma, Longmorn is very classical speyside on my nose. I expected Signet to be more sweet and powerful, but I think Longmorn matches it very good. First taste impression of Signet is simply excellent; rich and tasty and not too sweet. Longmorn also very strong first impression, perhaps a bit more soft yet dryer. Not so little oak in Signet I realise on the second sip. This is a close match, Longmorn is richer and more complex, yet Signet does its thing very well (perhaps more flawless but less interesting). I will pick Longmorn as the winner, but if you are more into sherry casks you would perhaps disagree.

Balcones vs Glenmorangie Signet: With the above tasting ongoing, I decided to try Signet against Balcones and just as I expected Balcones has no chance (it lacks the balance and elegance).

Old Pulteney 12 vs Springbank 9 Local Barley: Quite similar color, Springbank slightly paler and also cask strength. Ahh, Springbank is fanstastic on the nose, a bit peaty, dry, and in comparison Old Pulteney smells perfume (admittedly, I like Springbank and this is clearly a subjective opinion). Starting to taste Old Pulteney I have nothing to complain about really, it is good. But the Springbank (with a splash of water), so much flavour in just 9 years! Tasting Old Pulteney again, still not much to complain with it is still decent after Springbank. Adding a bit more water to Springbank and there is no doubt it is the better whisky: not a hint of sweetness and quite perfectly peated.

Longrow vs Springbank 9 Local Barley: Not surprisingly similar and pale color. On the nose Longrow has more peat (yes, it should, but I actually was not sure after previously tasting both of them against different whiskies), and the Springbank is richer otherwise, saltier and more barley. Tasting them, Springbank is fresh, salty, tasty, interesting and very good (and excellent for its young age). Longrow, unfortunately, is lacking both what I expect in a whisky from Springbank and is also not particularly peaty. It feels a bit closed and dead.

Jura Superstition vs Storm: Jura is really golden while Storm is pale, almost greenish. Storm is light on the nose, almost like a wine. Jura is deeper and a bit peated, not unpleasant. Storm tastes quite sharp, thin and chemical (perhaps just like a decent blend). Jura, it has a good island-whisky-component, but also a chemical unbalanced side that is not pleasant. Adding water to Storm it both smells and tastes of pear. Adding water to Jura, it just tastes bitter. I think Storm can have its moments and its fans, but Jura Superstition simply does not cut it.

Bushmill 12 vs Motörhead: These are two whiskies I had better thoughts about before they ended up in the bottom of my list. Similar in color, Motörhead is a bit more red. Motörhead smells nice, quite sweet reminding of Glögg (Gluhwein). Bushmill has quite little aroma and is more like traditional whisky. First taste of Bushmill is fine, quite thin but not bad. Motörhead is not traditional in its taste, it is more like a whisky, than a whisky. Bushmill is the better whisky.

J&B vs Storm: Both blends are quite pale, not golden at all. Storm has quite little aroma, but it is not sligthly disgusting as J&B. Tasting J&B is perhaps better than smelling it, but it leaves a sharp sour taste in the mouth. Storm tastes better, but not completely pleasant. J&B loses against Storm.

Motörhead vs Storm: Motörhead is much darker to the eye, and much richer to the nose, than Storm. Motörhead, with its flaws is mostly pleasant while Storm is not.

Glenmorangie 10 vs Hibiki Harmony: Very similar color, none particlarly dark. I also find them very similar on the nose; Glenmorangie slightly more oak, Hibiki slighly more fruit, but this is subtle. Well, they both smell good. First taste impression of Hibiki is decent: elegant, light, tasty and quite much what I would expect of a good blend. First taste of Glemorangie is not as elegent and tasty actually, something chemical I dont quite like. After a little break trying them Glenmorangie first. Hibiki is better: richer, more spicy, more balanced, more elegant and more flawless.

Mackmyra Brukswhisky vs Storm: These are both very pale, Mackmyra slightly more pale than Storm. First impression on the nose is not too bad for Mackmyra, the pear is clearly there though. Storm is richer on the nose, but a bit chemical and not necessarily more pleasant. Tasting Mackmyra, it is young, a bit sharp but not too bad. Well, that is quite true of Storm too it turns out. None of these are particularly amazing but Mackmyra has its particular charm and personality, while Storm lacks any of that. Mackmyra is more pleasant and interesting.

Makers Mark vs TX Texas Straight Bourbon: Both bourbons very similar dark amber color. On the nose Makers Mark is sweet raisin and oak as expected. The Texan has a less sweet and perhaps less pleasant smell, a but thick and undefined. First taste of Makers Mark is quite what I expect of a bourbon; oak and vanilla. The Texan tastes younger, a bit sharper. I think Makers Mark is better.

Glendronach 18 Allardice vs Longmorn 16: Glendronach clearly more dark amber while Longmorn slightly to the green (although not that pale). On the nose, Glondronach is sweeter and heavier while Longmorn is lighter and fruitier. First taste impression of Longmorn is good; fruity and balanced with a clear malt character. Glondronach tastes surprisingly salty and powerful, not as much sherry character as i expected (feared). In the end Longmorn is very elegant and classy, and I prefer it to Glendronach.

Highland Park 1998-2010 vs Old Pulteney 18: Color very similar and both looks good, HP slightly darker. When it comes to aroma Highland Park is clearly peaty and Old Pulteney is quite pale. Tasting Old Pulteney it is very balanced, smooth, complex a bit salty and a touch of sea. Highland Park is clearly more peaty, powerful but less elegant. This is one of those cases where peat beats no-peat and in a way I am inclined to prefer HP, but I think in the end I prefer the old Old Pulteney anyway.

Jack Daniels vs TX Texas Straight Bourbon: On a short note TX is preferable to Jack Daniels (which smells glue and candy).

Jack Daniels vs Urquhart Castle: I prefer Jack Daniels, but not by far.

Highland Park 1998-2010 vs Longrow 13 Red: On a short note, Longrow 13 is quite superior (although part of it may be that it is more heavily peated).

Longrow vs Ranger Creek Rimfire: Similar, quite pale in color. Rimfire has a fine aroma, I had expected a little more smoke. Longrow is clearly peaty on the nose though. Rimfire tastes fine, a hint of desert. Longrow has a much more powerful taste, and that is not entirely a good thing. Rimfire again, yes, it has that hint of tequila. Adding some water to Longrow brings out much flavour but this Longrow (without age indication) lacks something. This should have been an obvious win for Longrow, but it comes down to preference and perhaps power, and I do pick Longrow. But I am not impressed.

Mackmyra Brukswhisky vs Ranger Creek Rimfire: Mackmyra is clearly paler. The Texan smells quite fine, Mackmyra not too different but more fruity. First taste of Mackmyra is decent, mot much flavour or depth though. Ranger Creek has not so much more to offer. I add a dash or water to both and I imagine that improved the Rimfire a bit. Mackmyra, not so much, the water rather brought out flavours I would have prefered not to be there. Rimfire wins.

Macallan 2013 (20y) vs Hibiki Harmony: Macallan is significantly darker (but also stronger). Hibiki has a pleasant spicy aroma. Macallan is sweeter on the nose, also pleasant. I taste Hibiki and find it flawless but a little thin. I find the cast strength Macallan strong and add a bit of water and the flavours come out. Also quite flawless it has sweet sherry notes, classic speyside flavour and it also tastes like an old whisky in a pleasant way. Back to Hibiki it now is clearly saltier and more dry than Macallan, still flawless which is good for a blend after an old Macallan! This perhaps comes down to preference, or watering, or what I eat with it. But this evening I do prefer Hibiki. It is a very nice whisky.

Highland Park 1998-2010 vs Longrow: Highland Park is much darker in color, and quite peaty on the nose. Switchin to Longrow it is almost fruity and not peaty at all. Tasting Longrow it is quite sharp and and a bit burnt (with a clear Springbank character of course). Tasting HP it gets tricky, it is sweet, a bit peaty, but there is something not quite perfect. This HP bottle is 40%, it has been open a few years and I think it lost its edge. Instead it is slightly chemical. I though HP was going to beat this Longrow (which is perhaps the worst Longrow I have had), but in the end Longrow wins if it is up to me.

Deanston Virgin Oak vs Macallan 2013 (20y): Similar color (Macallan is slightly darker but also stronger). The aroma of Deanston is dominated by dry fruits and oak. Switchin to Macallan it is more subtle and elegant, switching back I find Deanston a bit crude. Macallan tastes very good, I had added some water from the beginning but add more. Deanston is suprisingly fresh, there is much oak but there is more to it. This is not the hands down win for Macallan that I could have thought. I find sourness and sharpness in Macallan and I add even more water. In the end Macallan wins for being more balanced. Deanston has its Virgin Oak charm, but this time that is a bit too much and not enough.

Old Pulteney 12 vs Johnny Walker White Walker: The blend has a strange sweet flavour (reminds me of Swedish Punch) that is meant to be nice when ice cold, but room temperate head to head with a single malt it is not enough.

Glenmorangie 10 vs Mackmyra Brukswhisky: Glenmorangie is richer and more balanced to the eye, the nose and the mouth. Johnny Walker White Walker comes in between.

Balcones vs Deanston Virgin Oak: Balcones is much darker in color, and sweeter to the nose. Smelling both of them, the heavy rich sweet aroma of Balcones makes Deanston appear a bit dull, but after a longer break the Deanston is excellent. Tasting Deanston first I like it. Balcones is too strong and very fruity. I add water to both, much more to Balcones. Now the Balcones is softer; it is a good whisky but there is something bitter about it that I dont completely like. Again, Deanston does not benefit from being tasted right after Balcones. In the end I find Deanston more balanced, more complex and more tasty.

Hibiki Harmony vs Longmorn 16: Very similar in color. Also very similar on the nose, Longmorn a little sweeter and thicker. They also taste quite similar, and both are good so this is difficult. Hibiki is saltier and have a spicy flavour while Longmorn is sweeter and richer. I will actually pick the Hibiki here, but I like my whisky dry rather than sweet, so I understand that you may disagree.

Deanston 18 vs Glenlivet 18: Deanston is slightly paler, and to the nose it is spicy but not perfect. Glenlivet has a more subtle smell. Glenlivet tastes excellent, at first I am a little surpristed that it has both a bit of salt and peat, but it does not linger as long as expected. Deanston tastes good, balanced and pleasant. It has a particular Deanston taste, hard to put a name on it, perhaps a bit mint. I have nothing bad to say about Glenlivet, but Deanston is more interesting and has more personality.

Longrow vs Mackmyra Svensk Rök: Very similar color. Longrow smells of iodine and the sea, but not much peat. Mackmyra mostly smells burnt wood, also not much peat. At first taste Longrow is really good, a bit burnt and thin, but dry and fine. Mackmyra is sour and fire. Back to Longrow it is definitely pleasant. The best I can say of Mackmyra is that it is an interesting experience of a young, wood-smoked, swedish single malt.

Ardbeg Corrywreckan vs Longrow: Ardbeg is obviously more of everything, and darker in color. Putting the nose in Longrow I am surpised I feel anything, because for a while I thought Corrywreckan by just standing on the table would dominate all. Well, that said, Corrywreckan was not that powerful on the nose. First taste of Longrow is good. First taste of Ardbeg, well, it is too strong, but with water I actually think this can get interesting. Trying them again it got difficult, Longrow quite thin and Ardbeg not entirely pleasant. That is tough. Well, Ardbeg wins, if for no other reason than pure power (it may have been a mistake to put this Longrow in the list of peated whisky).

Kilchoman Machir vs Bay vs Talisker 10: To start Kilchoman is much paler (greenish), perhaps younger? However Kilchoman is more powerful (sour, fruity and peaty) to the nose. First mouth Talisker tastes excellent, surprisingly sweat and rich. Kilchoman is more extreme: fire, smoke and sea. Back to Talisker it is still excellent and I prefer it. However those who look for a more rough peat and sea experience can choose Kilchoman.

Longrow 14 Sherry Cask vs Longrow 18: Sherry cask has made it clearly darker and redder. On the nose the 14YO is more peaty and powerful. Tasting 18YO it is surprisingly thin, not bad at all, but not what I quite had expected of 18YO Springbank. The Sherry is evident in the 14YO but not too dominant, also not too peaty, and also very fine taste. I find both of them good, but I find the 18YO more balanced and it is more Sherry than I prefer in 14YO.

Longrow 14 (old bottling) vs Longrow 18: I think the old Longrow (think it is called 90s bottling) is excellent, and better than Longrow 18.

Deanston Oloroso Finish vs Longrow 14 Sherry Cask: These are two dark golden whiskies, Longrow slightly darker perhaps because it is stronger. Deanston has a fine Oloroso aroma and compared to that Longrow is mostly peaty. First taste of Deanston is good, it has its sweetness, but not that much more. Longrow tastes mostly peat, but the sweet sherry flavour follows, a bit like two drinks were mixed. Adding more water to Deanston and I am more impressed. Longrow, I am trying to understand it. If you cant choose between peat and sherry, definitely get this Longrow, but I choose Deanston.

Balcones vs Longrow 14 Sherry Cask: On the nose, Balcones is really fruity and sweet against this sweet Longrow.

Longrow 18 vs Old Pulteney 18: Very similar color, not very red. On the nose, Old Pulteney is not peaty and Longrow is very peaty; distinct difference. Tasting it Old Pulteney is very tasty, has everything I want in a highland malt. And Longrow is also very good, peaty, rich a bit burnt. In the end Longrow wins. It is a bit unfair because power tends to beat elegance but there is more to it.

Hibiki Harmony vs Nikka from the Barrel (a bottle from 2005 that has been opened since long: Nikka is slightly darker but also slightly stronger. I like Hibiki on the nose and as before I think it is spicy. Nikka is heavier, denser and more sweet. Tasting Hibiki is very pleasant. Nikka is better than I remember it but it needs water (mine is rated at 51%). Adding water to Nikka improves it I find it both complex, balanced and pleasant. There is something bitter-sweet (almost metallic) that I am not completely happy with. After Nikka, Hibiki is a bit soft. Admittedly Nikka is way better than I remember it since long (after some water) but I think Hibiki with its dryer flavour is preferable. Those who prefer a sweet whisky may prefer Nikka.

Nikka from the Barrel vs Old Pulteney 12: Nikka is dark amber compared to Old Pulteney which is pale, almost greenish. On the nose, Old Pulteney is fruity, then sea/salt, then a bit peaty this evening. Nikka is surprisingly anonymous. Tasting Nikka (with some water) first it tastes mostly alcohol, then it becomes balanced and sweet; not bad but not too interesting. Old Pulteney: not quite so nice, chemical fruity flavour. After some cheese a second attempt at Old Pulteney is better. But Nikka has more to offer.

Balcones vs Makers Mark: Similar but different. A bourbon-lover would prefere the only bourbon in tha game, but I find Balcones better, although a bit bitter where Makers Mark is more soft. The softness however has a bit of glue or candy.

Glenlivet 18 vs Springbank 9 Local Barley: Glenlivet golden while Springbank pale, almost greenish, in color. Glenlivet is nice and soft on the nose, kind of vegetable-sweet, and Springbank is clearly peaty and a bit edgy. Tasting Glenlivet it has everything I want in a Speyside malt. Springbank, is very good, almost everything I want between Campbeltown and Islay. Back to Glenlivet it is less impressive after Springbank. Back to Springbank, still impressed. I appreciate both these whiskies, both styles, and I rank Springbank 9 Local Barley higher than Glenlivet 18.

Deanston 8 Red Wine vs Glendronach Allardice: Deanston is lighter in aroma and taste and quite flawless. Glendronach is richer, but somthing is not quite perfect. I prefer Deanston (this is a little bottle bought in the destillery).

Glenlivet 18 vs Hibiki Harmony: Glenlivet somewhat darker in color, but not so much. On the nose I get back to finding Hibiki spicy and dry/salt in a pleasant way. Glenlivet has a sweeter and more fruity aroma. Tasting both of them it is not very clear which I prefer. I do pick Glenlivet, there is something chemical (perhaps blended) and unnatural about Hibiki compared to this 18 year old scotch whisky. But it is quite close.

For Peats Sake vs Hven Tychos Star: Both has a nice very similar golden color. When it comes to aroma Hven is more powerful and peaty, and For Peats Sake is sweater and more chemical. Tasting For Peats Sake first, its quite nice: it has the iodine saltiness, it is peaty and quite soft. Hven is more burnt. However, after some more tasting I find that For Peats Sake has more of a blend character than a peated character, after all. Hven is more uncompromising, and wins.

Longrow 18 vs Springbank 9 local barley: Springbank much paler even though it is stronger (quite expected). On the nose, quite similar. If any is more peaty I’d say it is Springbank (not quite expected). I can perhaps say that Longrow is more complex and balanced on the nose, and Springbank ahs more “edge”, but perhaps I just want to think this since Longrow is twice as old. Tasting Longrow first it is quite excellent, for being 18 years it has quite same character so I add a little more water to it. Tasting Springbank my impression is immediately that it is younger, thinner, and more rough, and I add more water. And with more water it gets saltier tastes more like I expect a Springbank. Longrow remains great, and it is the better whisky.

Glenmorangie 10 vs Ranger Creek Rimfire: Both have a nice pale color, Glenmorangie slightly paler. First impression with the nose is very good with Glenmorangie: balanced and elegant. Rimfire also good, sweeter. Glenmorangie tastes good, very light and a bit bitter. Rimfire is more bitter, right from the start. Taking a larger sip of Glenmorganie it is still enjoyable, although not perfect. Rimfire also decent on second try, it is more spicy and that is both a good and a bad thing. It is possible to argue that Ranger Creek is more interesting and has more flavour to offer, but the safe choice here is Glenmorangie.

Deanston Virgin Oak vs Longrow: These are two whiskies with no stated age. Deanston is more golden in color, and its aroma is quite fresh. Against this competition Longrow is clearly peated, and that hides other aroma. After Longrow, Deanston smells a bit candy (probably oak). Tasting Deanston that impression (of candy and oak) remains. Tasting Longrow it is still mostly peat there. I add a splash of water to both. These young whiskies both are a little bit too much of what they are, and to little of what they are not. In that sense they are similar, but their character is very different. Deanston improved with the water: softer and richer. So did Longrow (and I felt a hint of horse, not necessarily good). Longrow overpowers Deanston, and perhaps that is why it wins in the end. I dont wan’t (peat) power decide, but Longrow is not peated enough to compete with truly peaty whiskies.

Deanston 12 vs Glen Scotia Victoriana: Very similar color. Glen Scotia is light and elegant on the nose, Deanston more dried fruits. Glen Scotia is strong at 51% and first impression is a significant sherry component (slightly surprised because it does not say on the box/bottle). Deanston is good, rich and balanced, more grain and warehouse than fruit. Back to Glen Scotia with water, and I like it; sherry but not too much of it. But it not so much more than Sherry and I find Deanston much richer, so I prefer Deanston.

Deanston 12 vs Longrow: These are surprisingly similar, but the only advantage to Longrow is its peatiness, and Deanston has a deeper and more smooth flavour.

Deanston Oloroso Finish 9 vs Glen Scotia Victoriana: Color is similar. Deanston has friendly aroma, not very powerful. Glen Scotia is more sweat and heavy. Tasting Deanston is it quite sharp and a bit thin, but good (I add more water to it). Glen Scotia is sweeter and also a bit saltier. Back to Deanston it has now more flavour; it is good but not too rich. Glen Scotia has more to offer though; even though its both salty and sweet it has a united body and it is very tasty.

Brora 38 vs Longrow 14: Brora is, despite its age, clearly more peated. And Longrow being a fantastic whisky tastes a bit simple and thin compared to this old Brora.

Glendronach 18 Allardice beats Glenmorangie 10.

Glendronach 18 Allardice loses to Highland Park 18 Viking Pride.

Bunnahabhain 8 Heavily Peated beats For Peats Sake.

Bushmills Single Malt 10 vs Bushmills Single Malt 12: The older whiskey is significantly darker in color, and has a richer aroma (raisins). The difference in taste is perhaps a bit less, but the 12 year old is better.

Famous Grouse vs J&B: Very similar in color. Famous Grouse smells glue and plastic, and that is not nice when it is not even compared to anything yet. J&B on the other hand smells “mash” or home made spirit. They are simply unpleasant in different ways, but I think J&B is worse. Tasting J&B is not that bad though. Famous Grouse is a lot saltier. Both taste kind of unnatural, but not trival to pick a winner. J&B is more dull, there is nothing I like about it. I think Famous Grouse wins, for at least trying and having some character. With some water and good will I almost like it.

Floki Young Malt vs Jura Superstition: Similar in color. Floki smells like the rotten water that can come out of a radiator when you air it. Compared to that Jura is excellent on the nose (but not very rich). With those expectations set, I kind of appreciate the taste of Floki. There is little I like about the flavour of Jura. Floki is very young, and that is how it tastes. If you are going to have one of these for your collection, get Floki for originality. But if I have to drink one, Jura is preferable.

Deanston 12 vs Hazelburn 10: Deanston a bit darker. Hazelburn is pleasant and balanced on the nose. Deanston is surprisingly similar. Hazelburn is also very pleasant in the mouth: soft, balanced and a bit creamy. Deanston is saltier and a bit rougher, surprisingly. These whiskies are not very different and I find it hard to pick a favourite. Very close, I prefer Hazelburn.

Bushmills Single Malt 10 vs Makers Mark: The bourbon is much darker in color. The Irish is nice, balanced, fruity and a bit winey on the nose. The american is caramel and oak. Tasting Bushmills is good. Makers Mark also tastes good, much sweeter. Back to the Irishman it is still good. Despite Makers Mark being so sweet there is something not soft about it. Bushmills on the other hand is slightly chemical and bitter. I prefer Bushmills.

Bunnahabhain 8 Heavily Peated vs Laphroaig 10: Laphroaig a bit darker. Bunnah has that smell of old closet. Laphroaig is salty and peaty on the nose. Bunnah has so much flavour, it tastes sweet and old (despite its young age). After tasting Bunnah, Laphroig actually smells a bit pale. Tasting Laphroig is just excellent… salty and fresh. Back to Bunnah, it is still very good though, but Laphroig wins on simply being better.

Famous Grouse vs Jura Superstition: Jura is much darker. Famous Grouse initially not so bad on the nose, some glue though. Jura is sweeter on the nose. Famous Grouse tastes much alcohol and is quite sharp and a bit chemical (glue). Jura is not particularly good, but it smoother, and in this game that is enough to win.

Crown Royal Rye vs Jim Beam Rye: Very similar color. Also similar on the nose, the american a bit richer. Crown Royal is a firework of flavours in the mouth, a bit like 5 different candies at the same time. Jim Beam tastes more classic, like a stricter and dryer bourbon. Elderberry in Crown Royal, is this whiskey? I would almost have guessed a spiced liqeur or something. I can enjoy the canadian but Jim Beam wins.

Deanston 8 Red Wine beats Deanston Virgin Oak: the 8 year old is simply smoother and tastier.

Highland Park 18 Viking Pride vs Old Pulteney 18: Both whiskies are very easy to drink and soft, but both leaving me with a feeling of that I hoped for more. Highland Park is clearly but softly peated, but that comes with a significant sourness. Old Pulteney is a bit bitter first, but explodes in the mouth with nice flavours. I prefer Old Pulteney.

Balcones Peated vs Jim Beam Black: Similar color. Jim Beam has a characteristic bourbon smell, a bit chemical. Balcones is clearly peated on the nose, also sweet. At first Jim Beam tastes better than it smells, it is soft and rich. Balcones needs more water (being 65%), both sweet and peated also in flavour. Back to Jim Beam, still reasonably pleasant, but it does not benefit from being compared to a peated malt whisky. Balcones needs more water. I think Balcones is a whisky with a quite narrow sweet flavour, not very rich and interesting, with a hint of peat on top. On the nose it is much better than Jim Beam. When it comes to the taste I am not equally convinced, but I think Balcones is better than Jim Beam.

Jim Beam Black vs Jim Beam Rye: JB Rye is stricter, less sweet and chemial, on the nose. The same is true for the taste. I prefer the Rye, being like a bourbon, but a little bit less so.

Balvenie Triple Cask vs Bushmills 12: Very similar color. Balvenie is spicy and fresh on the nose, Bushmills more sweet. Tasting it, Balvenie is very good: rich, tasty and balanced and soft. Bushmills taste thin, bitter and chemical in comparison. Balvenie is better.

Balvenie 12 Triple Cask vs Hazelburn 10: Hazelburn is paler, and on the nose a bit peated or at least salty compared to Balvenie. Hazelburn tastes like the sea, a bit dry. Balvenie is a bit thin in comparison, but still quite good. I think Hazelburn is has more to offer and it wins.

Deanston 12 vs Glenfarcas 17: Very similar color, Glenfarcas perhaps a wee darker. On the nose Deanston is more winey, and Glenfarcas more anonymous. When it comes to taste Glenfarcas is soft and nice and it has something to offer. But to me, Deanston is superior.

Jim Beam Rye vs Makers Mark: Similar in color. Jim Beam has more wood character on the nose while Makers Mark has more candy character. Makers Mark tastes fine, a bit sharp. The Rye whiskey is more bitter. After a few more tastes it is clear to me that I prefer Jim Beam Rye.

Deanston Virgin Oak vs Jim Beam Rye: Similar color. Jim Beam is sweeter, more chemical, on the nose. Tasting, Deanston is dryer and less sweet, but it is much softer and richer. Clear victory for Scotland, although there are similarities between these two.

Jim Beam Rye vs Ranger Creek Rimfire: Similar in color, but Jim Beam has more to offer to the nose. When it comes to taste they both have good sides and significant bad sides (too much wood – particularly the Ranger Creek mesquite wood is weird). I prefer Jim Beam Rye.

Crown Royal Rye vs Mackmyra Brukswhisky: Mackmyra much paler. On the nose Mackmyra is like a white wine, while Crown Royal is more like a fruit liqeur (although I think more of vegetable). At first taste Mackmyra is decently good; dry, a bit burnt. Crown Royal is richer and tastier. Back to Mackmyra, it is this burnt undeveloped wood. I prefer the Canadian.

Glenfarcas 17 vs Longrow 13 Red: Color is quite similar. Glenfarcas has a nice subtle balanced aroma. Longrow is clearly peated. Tasting Glenfarcas is good, nothing to complain about for being an old speyside malt, but not too interesting either. Longrow is quite light despite the peat, also very pleasant. Back to Glenfarcas it is still perfect after trying the peated Longrow, and that is good for a non-peated whisky. Back to Longrow I more taste that salty dry Springbank flavour than the peat. It is not a trivial decision. I was about to pick Glenfarcas, but it is too dull. Longrow wins.

Jim Beam Rye vs Knob Creek 9: Knob creek is a bit darker in color. To the nose they are quite similar. Very similar. Knob Creek is a bit sweeter while Jim Beam is a bit more spicy. Tasting Knob Creek it is strong, rich and with a quite deep and impressive long lingering taste. Jim Beam is more thin. I add a few drops of water to Knob Creek, and two drops to Jim Beam. Tasting Jim Beam again, bitterness dominates. Knob Creek is better.

Bushmills 10 vs Knob Creek 9: The Irishman is much paler. The aroma, I would have expected Knob Creek to be much more powerful, but the difference wasn’t that large. Bushmills is lighter, more like wine. Knob Creek is thicker and sweeter. At first Bushmills tastes quite nice, a bit sharp, a bit bitter, but overall quite nice. Knob Creek is more powerful (it is 10% stronger but I have compensated with same water): sweet and bourbon wood. Back to Bushmills it is quite rich in flavour. And over to Knob Creek it is a bit overwhelming in its brutality. Bushmills, being softer, stands up nicely and does not fade in comparison. Knob Creek lacks in balance and elegance. I understand if you are a Bourbon fan, but I prefer Bushmills 10.

Longrow 13 Red vs Longrow 14 Sherry: These beasts are very similar in color. Perhaps the Sherry is darker but it is also strongar (57 vs 51). Red has a deep peaty aroma. Sherry too, but clearly with a Sherry touch. Otherwise they are very similar to the nose – but the Sherry is more dominant than the Red. Tasting Red (with a bit of water) it has so much flavour; very rich almost thick. Same for the Sherry, but it is not balanced as the Red. I add more water to both. Back to Red, it is an almost complete whisky. Switching to Sherry it is now watered down to a more pleasant level – although I find the Sherry too dominant for my taste. This is difficult because these are both quite overwhelming, even with not so little water. I prefer Red.

Longrow vs Longrow 14 Sherry: Quite similar in color, actually (the Sherry may be more watered down). Longrow has a quite light aroma (considering it is supposed to be peated). First impression I like the taste of Longrow – straight, dry and salty. Sherry is a bit richer (sweeter, fruiter, kind of obvious). Back to Longrow, it still holds. This is neither easy nor obvious. I prefer plain Longrow to its older and Sherry-stored brother. You may disagree, but I think Longrow does its thing better than Sherry.

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