Well, friends, it’s been a minute since we brought you any sort of “afternoon break” review. Those sort of ebb and flow, in terms of what we have access to for reviews, but recently we had the good pleasure of bringing in two different blended whiskies to try, both from the Gladstone Axe label.
Now, why Gladstone Axe for a name? Well, it’s named for William Gladstone, a 4-time Prime Minister who made it possible in 1860 for scotch to legally be blended – opening the doors to what we have today (and apparently he liked to chop trees down with his axe as well) (more on him here). Now, I will admit to liking a good single malt (particularly the peaty ones), but those are more for special occasions. For a nice glass in the evening on a regular day, a solid blend is the route I go.
At the moment, Gladstone Axe produces two varieties. The first, American Oak, is – as you might guess – aged in American oak barrels that had previously been used for bourbon. Aging spirits in a barrel that previously housed something else is a great way to impart some other flavors in there, and something I’d recommend you explore a bit if you see the options out there.
When I poured the American Oak into my glass (a proper Glencairn), there was a prominent – and clean – whisky nose to it, with a small burning sensation. The first sip greets you with a very smooth mouthfeel, and of course that slight whisky burn. In terms of the flavor, it has a profile that my mind associates with a woody or papery note. This is something I’ve only experience one or two other times, so it is a unique profile. Of note, if you like to add a splash of water to your whisky (as I do), the dash of water really smooths this one out even more than it is straight from the bottle.
While the American Oak and the Black Axe are produced from a blend of Highland and Islay distilleries, the Black Axe leans more heavily towards the Islay, which is where those lovely peaty whiskies call home. That said, do not be scared off by this one, as I did not find it to be overly peaty at all. The nose is very mild (I detected no smoke), and again, it’s very smooth on that first sip. In fact, I’d say it’s even smoother than the American Oak version, with a very light taste to it, and almost no discernible burn as it went down. How smooth is it? Well, a splash of water didn’t actually change anything about the flavor profile that I could detect.
And there you have it – a quick look at what Gladstone Axe is producing. If you read through their site, you’ll see that the two have different notes that you’re supposed to be able to pick up, but my palate has never developed quite enough to pick all of that up. If you’re looking for a different blend to try out that won’t break the bank (from what I could see online, these come in at under $40 for a bottle), I’d say they’re worth a try. The American Oak gives you that unique papery flavor, while the Black Axe is just an overall very smooth experience, and would not doubt lend itself well to a mixer. gladstoneaxe.com