Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary.

Searching for the world's best drinks and what makes them extraordinary. EZdrinking is a drinks blog by Eric Zandona that focuses on distilled spirits, wine, craft beer and specialty coffee. Here you can find reviews of drinks, drink books, articles about current & historical trends, as well as how to make liqueurs, bitters, and other spirit based drinks at home.

Review: Johnnie Walker Wine Cask Blended Scotch

Owned by Diageo, Johnnie Walker Blender's Batch Wine Cask Blend Blended Scotch Whisky was distilled and matured in Scotland and bottled at 40% ABV.


  • Brand Owner: Diageo

  • Distillery Unknown Scottish Distilleries

  • Still Type: Column & Pot Stills

  • Spirit Type: Blend of Scottish Grain and Malt Whiskies

  • Age Statement: NAS

  • Strength: 40% ABV

  • Price: $30

For over 100 years Johnnie Walker has been making renowned Blended Scotch Whisky. For much of that time Johnnie Walker was represented by its Red and Black label expressions and in more recent years Johnnie Walker expanded their color series to include Double Black, Green, Gold, Platinum, and Blue Labels. Most of these blends played with ratios of grain and malt, more peat or less peat, and the maturity of the whisky.  While each color had a distinct flavor profile they are all basically in the same wheelhouse.

However, around 2007, Johnnie Walker's Master Blender Jim Beveridge began an experiment, maturing some of their whisky in barrels that previously held other wines and spirits. Blender Aimée Gibson, came upon some of these barrels and created a unique blend of Scottish grain and malt whiskies, some of which included whiskies aged in wine barrels. The Blender's Batch Wine Cask Blend is the sixth experiment in this series, and it was first released in September 2017.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose is very pleasant and inviting with notes of vanilla and marmalade with a touch of nectarines and sweet cherries.

Palate: On the palate there is an explosion of fruit with notes of sweet orange, nectarines, plum, and a hint of vanilla balance out with oak tannins.

Finish: The finish medium dry and while initially it is very warm, the warmth quickly fades and leaves the lasting notes of sweet white nectarines, with a touch of oak, vanilla, and a flavor reminiscent of a fruity Riesling. 

Conclusion: This is a really fruity and approachable Johnnie Walker that mellows out nicely with a little ice to cut the heat from the alcohol. Overall, it is a very nice addition to the traditional Johnnie Walker lineup and it demonstrates how much character can come through the cask selection. For less than $30 this is a deal and one of the best new, and affordable whiskies of 2017.

Review: Paul John Batch 2 Indian Single Malt Whisky

Paul John Batch 2 Indian Single Malt Whisky was distilled by John Distilleries in Goa, India, aged for 6 Years and bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company at 54.7% ABV

Price: $108.12 for 500ml

John Distilleries has been blending whisky since 1992, but in 2008 the company began producing single malt whisky. Their whisky is made with two Indian copper pot stills with a capacity of 3000 liters per day, and the whisky comes out around 63.5% ABV. Once distilled, their whisky is aged in American white oak barrels and once they reach maturity the barrels are vatted and the whisky is bottled without chill filtration. Because of the climate of Goa, the whisky barrels lose quite a to the Angel's Share and for Batch 2, That Boutique-y Whisky Company selected a barrel that came in at 54.7% ABV after 6 years.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The whisky has a strong alcohol nose that carries aromas of malt, oxidized wine, baked apples and caramel. 

Palate: The palate is smooth, round and slightly smokey. The initial taste is subtly sweet with notes of dried or candied fruit and roasted nuts. 

Finish: The finish is medium long, hot, and tastes of malt, nuts and the faintest hint of curry. 

Conclusion: Paul John is an interesting whisky that served neat is obscured by the high proof. With a little water the whisky opens up nicely and shows more of its sweetness and smoke without the burn of the alcohol. With a touch of water, the finish is also much smother and has a nutty flavor, more reminiscent of a classic single malt. While Paul John is definitely a well made spirit, for its age, I'm not sure that I would spend over $100 for this whisky. Though, if you are interested in tasting what is probably some of the best single malt whisky coming out of India, Paul John should be on your short list.

Thank you to Master of Malt and That Boutique-y Whisky Company for providing the free sample.

Review: Oloroso Gran Barquero

Oloroso Gran Barquero is fermented and aged, by Pérez Barquero S.A. in Montilla, Spain and bottled at 19% ABV.

Price: $30

Earlier this Spring Wayne Curtis wrote an article on the effect of sherry on the flavor profile of Scotch Whisky and the somewhat symbiotic relationship they have had for the past 100 years or so. After reading his piece I realized that while I have had sherry in the past, I did not know the flavor profiles well enough to pick out their contribution to the flavor profile of Scotch or any other spirit. I decided to reach out to David Driscol of K&L Wines to ask him for recommendations for an Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez style Sherries since these are two of the more common sherry finishes you find in whiskey. One of his recommendations was for Oloroso Gran Barquero from Pérez Barquero.

Pérez Barquero has been making fortified wines in the Montilla-Moriles region of Spain since 1905. While their oloroso is very similar to an oloroso sherry, it cannot be called sherry because it was not made in the Denominación de Origen region of Jerez-Xérès-Sherry. This fortified wine starts off with 100% Pedro Ximénez grapes and once the wine has fermented Pérez Barquero uses an solera aging system with three layers of criaderas or nurseries and the final solera.

Quickly, the solera uses a system of fractional blending where barrels of younger wine are stacked on top of barrels with older wine. When the wine in the bottom barrels is fully mature Pérez Barquero will remove a fraction of the wine from the solea for bottling. They then top up the solera barrels with wine from the criadera level above. This process is repeated at each level where younger wine is mixed with slightly older wine and left to mature. Now Pérez Barquero says that through this system the oloroso is allowed to age for 15 years before bottling but it is not clear if that 15 years is  the time it takes for new wine to move through the system before bottling or if it is some average age of young wine mixed with "old" wine in the solera. 

Tasting Notes

Noes:  The aromas is amazing. It smells of dried fruit, baking spices and vanilla. The nose is similar to fruit cake or a rum raisins cake.

Palate:  On the palate the oloroso is bright, semi-dry and has a medium body. The flavors are completely different from the aromas; the oloroso tastes nutty like a mix of walnuts, and hazelnuts. There is also a fresh fruit quality to the flavors that remind me of sweet grapefruit and white grape juice.

Finish : The finish is medium long and has a very nutty and slightly doughy character almost like marzipan with the faintest hint raisins and baking spices at the end.

Conclusion:  This oloroso is fascinating. The nose and the palate are complex and so drastically different that it makes the drinking experience a little confusing. For this reason I don't know that Oloroso Great Barquero will become a regular staple in my home but it had peaked my interest to try a few other sherries in this style.

Review: Macallan Batch 7 Single Malt Scotch Aged 30 Years

Macallan Batch 7 Single Malt Scotch Whisky was distilled at the Macallan Distillery, aged for 30 years and bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company at 46.5% ABV

Price: $642.50 for 500ml

That Boutique-y Whisky Company is an independent whisky bottler who selects unique whiskies from around the world.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose is very complex and layered with notes of fresh summer berries, zinfandel, milk chocolate and a touch of nuttiness. 

Palate: The palate is viscus and round on the front with a well balanced sweetness. The flavor has notes of sherry, malt and roasted nuts. 

Finish: The finish is slightly hot and dry with a woody flavor and notes of cured tobacco. Lastly there is a subtle bitterness from the oak tannins. 

Conclusion: At 30 years old, this Macallan has taken on an incredibly dark color like stained mahogany that is almost completely opaque from the side. The finish is slightly bitter however, after spending 30 years in a barrel it is quite a feat that the whisky isn't completely dominated by oak. The fact that the whisky is still showing well is a testament to the quality of the barrels and the mild climate in which the spirit was aged. 

Thank you to Master of Malt and That Boutique-y Whisky Company for providing the free sample.

Review: Carsebridge Batch 1 Single Grain Scotch Aged 52 Years

Carsebridge Batch 1 Single Grain Scotch Whisky was distilled at the Carsebridge Distillery, aged for 52 Years and bottled by That Boutique-y Whisky Company at 40.5% ABV

Price: $250.91 for 500ml

That Boutique-y Whisky Company is an independent whisky bottler who selects unique whiskies from around the world. Their Carsebridge Batch 1 comes from the famed and long closed Carsebridge Distillery in Alloa, Scotland.  Located in the Scottish Lowlands, Carsebridge was originally founded by John Bald as a malt distillery in 1799. Apparently Mr. Bald's sons who took over its management, switched the distillery over to making grain whisky in 1851 as the popularity of Blended Scotch began to rise. In 1877, Carsebridge and six other distillers joined together to from the Distillers Company Ltd. and about 90 years later became part of the Scottish Grain Distillers. Finally in 1983, amidst the world decline in whisky popularity, Carsebridge closed its doors and in 1992, the distillery was demolished. Thankfully, there are a few barrels of this amazing whisky still around. That Boutique-y Whiskey Company were able to find 52 year old barrels of their single grain whisky and bottle it at 40.5% ABV. Here single refers to the fact that the whisky in the bottle comes from one "single" distillery. In Scotland grain whisky is made from a mash malted barley, and any other malted or unmalted cereals, which often means corn, wheat, or rye. The regulations for grain whisky do not require the use of a pot still like with malt whisky, so as a result, grain whiskies are usually produced with column stills.

Tasting Notes

Nose: The nose is vibrant a touch of alcohol intermingled with notes of maraschino cherry and a touch of vanilla. A light aroma of oak belies its age. 

Palate: Is incredibly smooth, initially the whisky shows notes of vanilla, rum cake and a touch of oak without any bitterness. However, as the whisky slides over the tongue the flavors transform into a cornucopia of tropical fruit. Notes of passion fruit and guava that is reminiscent of fine aged rum. 

Finish: The finish is dry and very long with subtle notes of passion fruit, guava and fresh green grapes reaching out to the horizon. 

Conclusion: This is an amazing whisky that is a delight to drink neat. I am awe struck that the oak flavors have not totally dominated the spirit but instead is acting as a support for the wonderful fruit flavors that have developed over the last half century. I am not usually one to think of spending hundreds of dollars on one bottle of whisky however, if I was in the market for a truly once in a lifetime bottle that has the quality to match the price this would be at the top of my list. 

Thank you to Master of Malt and That Boutique-y Whisky Company for providing the free sample.