Busy time of year, so I've again combined two months of reviews into one. For November and December, itís random tastings of varying adult beverages Iíve not posted anything about.

No history or culture backgrounds on the spirits this time, just four Scotch, one cognac, and one vodka. These adult beverages may not be to your taste, but they are to mine. Enjoy!

Laphroig Quarter Cask, no age stated, 90 Proof
Color: Golden yellow
Nose: Smoky, hints of fruit and sherry
Mouth: Full Bodied
Taste: Smoke, peat, seaweed, balanced with a sweet slightly spicy background
Finish: Medium to long finish, a hint of alcohol bite in the throat, more sweet and spicy notes emerge with more peat.
Notes: This was an experiment from the distillery using an old aging method of smaller sized casks. Aged in smaller casks, whisky tends towards faster maturation. In old days, smaller size casks also made the whisky easier to transport. (And hide from the excise man) An excellent whisky to add to your cabinet.

Laphroig Cask Strength, 10 year Scotch, 111.4 proof
Color: Dark Golden brown
Nose: Strong peat smoke, salty, seaweed, tar, sherry sweet emerges faintly
Mouth: Big full body
Taste: Peat, smoke, seaweed, salt, sweet fruit balances out the flavor nicely.
Finish: A very long, very warm finish with more smoke and peat.
Notes: This is bottled at cask strength and is unfiltered. I like this neat, but for most people I would suggest taste it neat for full nose and flavor, then add no more than 10-20% distilled water to whisky.

While Laphroig usually is not near the top of my list for Islay whiskies,(Ardbeg and Lagavulin are) these two bottlings from Laphroig are top notch and show Laphroig at it's finest. The cask strength in particular is a bottle to hide away for a special treat for anyone who likes Islay whiskies.

Zubrowka Buffalo Grass Vodka
Color: clear, light green tint
Nose: Vanilla, herbal grass
Mouth: Medium bodied
Taste: Herbal, vanilla tinged, slight bite of alcohol when warm, none when freezer cold.
Finish: Medium to long finish, more herbal grass
Notes: This you will either hate or love, no middle ground. The product sold here in the USA is not the same as you can find in Europe. According to what I read, the European bottlings are more flavorful. One of the by-products of the bison grass, coumarin, is a blood thinner and banned in the USA. So what you get here in the USA is neutralized.

Makes a horrible martini. This vodka is best kept in the freezer and taken in shots, or sipped on ice, Great served with fish, meat, cheese, and heavy breads. I like this one ice cold neat or on the rocks best, but a traditional way is to mix with a small amount of apple juice. If you do this, use no sugar addded unfiltered apple juice.

Rosebank 13 year Scotch
Color: Gold
Nose: Sherry, toffee, malty
Mouth: Medium bodied
Taste: Sweet first, then nuts, floral, sweet but still dry
Finish: Medium finish, smooth and clean.
Notes: This is hard to find but well worth the time to look for it if you want to try a great lowland whisky. The 8 year old is actually better than this 13 year old bottling, a more lively tingle of flavors on your palate, while this bottling is much more mellow. Try either bottling if you see it.

Glenlivet 21 Year Scotch
Color: Dark Gold
Nose: Fruit and flowers, light oak
Mouth: Full bodied
Taste: Fruit, floral notes, very rich and creamy in the mouth, smooth and hints of sherry and oak, vanilla
Finish: Very long, warm
Notes: This is an outstanding scotch as is most everything from Glenlivet. Surprisingly heavy with oak for a Glenlivet, but wonderfully balanced in aroma and taste. One of the finest Highland Scotches I have ever tasted.

A. de Fussigny XO Cognac
Color: Gold, caramel brown
Nose: Spice, caramel, nuts, vanilla, orange, floral notes
Mouth: Medium to full bodied
Taste: Buttery toffee, orange, vanilla, oak, some floral notes emerge and fade
Finish: Long, warm, buttery vanilla, floral notes, citrus, and oak
Notes: From the Champagne region of France, Fussigny is not as well known in the USA as Remy Martin and Hennessy cognacs. In my opinion, thatís a shame since this is among the best cognacs Iíve tasted, and Iím including in that statement, Remy Martin Louis XIII bottlings.

Most XO cognacs are blends of cognac 12-15 years old average age, Fussigny XO is composed of a blend of cognac 25 year old on average. Not as heavy as one would think from this long in a cask, but extremely well balanced from first nose to finish. And in WA state at least, cheaper than Remy and Hennessy XO as well. If you donít want a heavy tasting cognac, but one that has a very good balance of nose, flavor, smoothness, and finish, this is one to try. Well worth the cost to add to your cabinet.

Kampai!