Bite and Booze by Jay D. Ducote

Monday, March 27, 2017

Wakey Whisky: Usquaebach Reserve

by Eric Ducote

Good morning everyone!  I know, it's a Monday... but it's not just any Monday, today is INTERNATIONAL WHISKY DAY!!  International Whisky Day was started on March 27th, 2008 as a way to honor legendary beer hunter and whisky writer Michael Jackson, who was born on March 27th, 1942 and passed away in August of 2007.

In honor of Mr. Jackson, a couple of days ago I popped open a scotch that I've never tried, Usquaebach Reserve.  Yeah, say that one three times fast.  It's pronounced Oos-Ke-Bah and the name is derived from the Scottish Gaelic term for 'the water of life' which is what the Celts called whisky. A quick note here that all scotch is referred to as "whisky" without the 'e', along with scotch-style whiskies that are made in Japan, Canada and elsewhere. Irish, American and other non-scotch-style whiskies are generally referred to as a whiskey with the 'e' included.

Usquaebach Reserve
Usquaebach Reserve

The Usquaebach Reserve is a blended scotch whisky without a specific age marking, although they claim on the bottle that it's a superb blend of only mature select whiskies.  According to their website at the Reserve is a whisky for those seeking elegance and structure. This rare blend features over 50% quality single malts each aged between 16, 17, and 18 years and blended with the finest grain whisky – resulting in a handcrafted spirit that is both timeless and unique. The pour is on the lighter side but still has a nice golden hue.

Now... on to the nose... it's a very complex aroma with sweeter hints of honeysuckle and pear, but also some smoky tobacco notes. It's definitely not a single note aroma, hinting at the whiskies used to make up this blend while still harmonizing together into an agreeable bouquet.

The taste is a little rough on the initial sip - this blend is 43% ABV - but then mellows out into a blend of smoky and sweet, with tobacco notes coming through strong before giving way to some floral sweetness, and then finishing with a combination of vanilla and boozy burn. Although I often try whiskies neat, this one I feel benefits from a little ice or a splash of water.  This helps mellow out some of the harsh boozy burn from the grain whisky while also allowing the more subtle flavors to shine through.

Overall, I think this is a pretty decent scotch for the $40 price tag I'm seeing online, and a good option for someone wanting to get into scotch without going straight to some expensive single malt peat bombs.

Cheers! Happy #wakeywhisky to you all!

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