Monday, November 29, 2004
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
We decided to proceed from oldest to youngest. (Beware: the following links include cheesy music.) First we started with Johnnie Walker blue. Now of course, almost everyone has tried the Red, but Blue has become an almost mythical substance in our set--the holy grail of blended scotch. We started here because the literature told us it had malts in it as old as 50 years. Wow. On to the tasting, It was obviously a blend, but still quite enjoyable. It had a very subtle flavor. The next label tasted, gold, carried on in much the same vein. The gold label wasn't as good as the blue (I was actually wishing for single malts again at this point).
Next up, we tasted one I'd never even heard of: Johnnie Walker Green Label. This blend of all highland malts was far and away my favorite of the evening. This one had all the characteristics I look for in a single malt (save peatiness): very distinctive flavor, texture, nose, and the like.
Finally, for the Johnnies, we tasted the black label. The only thing I can really say about this one is that we all had a laugh when Damon announced that he didn't need his knife to get the cork off. I mean really. Should I spend time commenting on whisky that has a screw-off cap like a bottle of Boone's Farm?
At long last we got to taste the Glenmorn (sp?) that Steve had brought. Of course, I can't say much about it since I was already four scotches in. Hopefully, we can revisit it at our next gathering.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
In the cold month of February, the usual suspects again gathered to feel the warmth of some of the finest drops in Scotland (and I finally remembered to bring pen and paper to document the whole affair after missing the last two). All told, this may have benn our most successfull gathering, as we had eight whiskeys to taste and critique. Of course, we probably were victims of our own success since our taste buds were probably a bit numbed by the time we had progressed through that many fingers in the tumblers. The results are outlined below.
Glenfiddich - 18 year old, Ancient Reserve.
This fine highland scotch surprising is the first member of the populous Glenfiddich family to make an appearance. The presenation is just what you would expect, a tinted, classic three sided bottle. Now to the hear of the matter. This, despite its age, had very little in the way of nose--a bit surprising really. Once it was dispensed, however, things started looking up.
Upon tasting, it had a sharp front taste, and it immediately began to evaporate off the tongue. After this sharp beginning, it had a nice long finish with quite a bit of complexity. All in all, I wasn't especially impressed; it was good, but not remarkably good. Damon, however, enjoyed it quite a bit (Hell, we all did since it was first, but I think it was quite eclipsed by those below).
Balvenie - 21 year old, Port Wood and Portuguese and American Oak.
This Speyside whiskey had quite an attractive nose to it--a bit spicy and dry, fruity smell. One the first taste, it had a silky texture that was quite pleasing. Once the tastes got going though, the fireworks really began. This was stronger than the Glenfiddich with a nice smoky finish. It was variously described as Tingly, smoky with a nutty finish. Finally, it was quite the dark scotch. Overall, a fine addition to the afternoon that will probabably appear again quite soon.
This Islay was very light in color. After reading from the bible, we discovered that this scotch is grouped with the Laphroaig and Laguvalin distilleries. Finally, it seems we've found our holy trinity (see below). The scotch certainly didn't disappoint our expectations. It had a very peaty nose, as one would expect. Once we began drinking, it showed itself to have a very long, smooth finish with a peaty and briny first taste (in a good way). There were also hints of smoke. Of all the scotches we have tasted over the past few years, this was by far the saltiest, and, as John said, "it makes me smile!" Christian wasn't so impressed, comparing the experience to "licking asphalt." Different strokes for different folks.
Note: Transcribed from my original description.
Monday, November 22, 2004
On April 28, we once again had the pleasure of sampling some great single-malt scotch whiskys. This time the lineup included on two new samples, but we also returned to an old favo(u)rite.
- Glenrothes - 11 Year Old. This was a wonderfully packaged, small batch single malt whisky. It's a Speyside scotch that had an invigorating smell and a nice velvetty finish. Although it had a bit of tang to it still, it was very smooth.
- Isle of Jura - 16 Year Old. The initial bouquet was almost non-existant on the cork, but it did gain a bit of strength in the glass after it was baptized (a few droplets of water were added to bring out the flavor). Although nominally and literally an island scotch, it smelled very much like a highland scotch. The taste of this was very buttery and smooth as well with just the barest hint of peat with a bit of a salty taste to evoke its island origins. It also a bit of a almondy aftertaste.
All in all the experience was a pleasant one. Both scotches were welcome tastes to our palates.
The other scotch re-sampled was the Glenfarclas, described below.
Yes, we gathered once again for a glorious afternoon sampling some of Scotland's finest distillations. This time the line-up included:
- Dalwhinnie - 15 Year Old. A single highland malt from the highest distillery in Scotland.
- Glen Deveron - 5 Year Old (No kidding). More smell than taste.
- McCllelands - Another of the under $20 bottles. Very smoky and peaty. Not Subtle! No age available.
- Glenfarclas - 12 Year Old. Very Smooth with a buttery finish.
- Speyburn - 10 Year Old. Honey bouquet, very fruity. A highland malt from Speyside?! Strong start with a smooth finish.
- Glen Moray - 12 Year Old. Another Speyside malt. Good taste, but not as remarkable as the Dalwhinnie or the Glenfarclas.
And finally, our "German" Scotch:
- Auchentoshan - I didn't taste this one. I do recall making great sport of the name in rather terrible german accents. (It's not really German of course.)
Favorites thus far...
- Ardbeg (NEW!)