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An Introduction to our Whisky Tasting Season – Episode 2

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Hi & welcome back to my whisky Blog.

Episode 2 is a bit different from episode. It is more about tasting and my feeble attempt at some notes rather than telling a story about the whole adventure.

I had more views for episode 1 than my introductory Blog see if I can beat episode 1 with episode 2.

Got a dram and a good Cuban? Good let's get going then......

This tasting was in York on 22nd Sept. It is part of the York Food & Drink Festival. The event is hosted by a whisky evangelist and is in its’ 9th year. I’ve been to three previous events and they are usually very good so expectations were high. This year we had a team of 5, in the past we have had up to 9 in our team, a mix of boys and girls. Between us we try to taste as much as possible whilst staying upright so that we can share our experiences later.

After having what I described as Bambi in a bap for lunch (venison sausage, venison liver, bacon and fried onions with American mustard – yum yum) we headed for the venue.

This event started at noon and ran until 5pm. That is a long time in a room full of whisky and other is what happened. Out came the pipette, notepad, pencil and glass holder and off we went.

The drams were mainly 10-15ml which at first seems a bit stingy but in reality allows tasters to experience a wider variety of dram.

1. Caribbean Rum XO Berry Brothers & Rudd
My first dram of the day wasn’t a whisky, it was a rum. I tried this last year and bought a bottle because it was so good. I noticed that they had another bottling so wanted to try it with a clean palette. This is a sister cask of the original and has had another year to mature. It was a really great way to open. Lots of wood, sweet fruit and cask notes with a rich aftertaste. It was so good again I bought another bottle.

2. Highland Park 13y.o. 52.1% Exclusive Malts
Sweet nose with a pleasant slight sourness on the finish. Not a standout dram for me but a good dependable whisky at a healthy age.

3. Finealta Glenmorangie (Glen More Angie)
This took me by surprise. It is a special edition (approx £65) and one I had not seen before. It is billed as a peated Glenmorangie. It was a real nice early dram. A sherbet nose initially and then as it warmed up (yes I do allow them to warm up before drinking them, well sometimes anyway) a smell of slightly overripe banana with bananas staying on the finish (I sometimes get that from Ardbeg too).

I then looked at two whiskies that in the past I have not enjoyed – Mannochmore and Lochside

4. Mannochmore 1999 56.7% Berry Brothers & Rudd
I found this one a bit spirit and quite astringent in the mouth. Not unpleasant but nothing really to write home about.

5. Lochside 1981 46% Berry Brothers & Rudd
It had a very light citrus note on the nose then possibly grapefruit in the taste. My notes say that I couldn’t find anything wrong with it but I didn’t find it moreish.

6. Ardmore 11y.o. 54% Exclusive Malts
This had an aftertaste like hotdog sausages. Only mild but it was there. I really like Ardmore and this was only OK so I was a bit disappointed.

At this point we were about an hour and a half in so we went for a coffee break.

7. Tomatin (Toe Martin) 1988 43% Connoisseurs Choice
This was quite a rounded flavour. I thought it a bit underpowered at 43%.

8. Nikka All Malt 40%
This is Japanese pure malt (they used to be called vatted malts). This had a light perfume on the nose and a slight toffee flavour (perhaps caramel had been added for colour?). A nice drink for any time of the day.

9. Bruichladdich (Brook Laddie) 1991 50.1% Berry Brothers & Rudd
Creamy toffee on the nose. This “Laddie” had a fair bit of Oomph and so I added a few drops of water.

10. Bunnahabhain (Boona Harven) 1997 56.1% Berry Brothers & Rudd
Medicinal taste. Gristy nose. A bit of a vegetable water smell. Not the best Bunna I have tasted.

11. Bunnahabhain 1979 54.7 Berry Brothers & Rudd
Fantastic cask notes coming off the nose. Rich cask flavours on the taste. A light liquorice taste drying in the mouth then leaving a lovely woody aftertaste.

12. Caol Ila (Cull Eela) 1980 55.6%
Added a few drops of water to this one to find a flavour of butter shortbread, unusual for Caol Ila (in my experience).

13. Tamdhu 1984 48.5% Exclusive Malts
For a 26 y.o. whisky I thought this had quite a bit of bite. A bottle of this went home with two of the team so it must have been good.

I have to admit that at this point I did note that I was starting to lose some idea of taste so moved onto the bigger whiskies in terms of flavour. I had avoided the heavily peated whiskies until this point because I wouldn’t have appreciated some of the light flavours in the more delicate whiskies I tried.

14. Chapter 9 46% The English Whisky Company
Nearly, but not quite, mellow. This is 3 years old but you wouldn’t know it. The climate in Norfolk is such that the rate of maturing (and evaporation) is a lot different to Scottish distilleries. It had the feel of a 12 y.o Speyside whisky.

15. Chapter 11 46% The English Whisky Company
Lots more flavour for a little more maturity. This is a really good whisky. My opinion differed from the majority of the team who preferred the Chapter 9.

16. Corryvreckan 57.1% Ardbeg
Now I have to admit I love this whisky. I did before I went and I still do. I have a bottle of the Committee Reserve and had drunk several bottles of it since it was launched. My notes say TCP, Iodine, seaweed, water sir? No thanks! Then “oh go on then”. I added two drops and Aaaaarrggghhhh, heaven in a glass.

17. Kilchoman (Kilk Homan) Inaugural Release 50%
Smooth taste, better than the nose. This is a good dram.

18. Kilchoman 2011 Spring release 46%
This had spent 5 weeks in a sherry cask and you could tell. 46% felt a bit weak to me. It seemed to lack any real finish.

19. Rich Oak 14y.o. 10% Glenfiddich
This is a mix of new American and new Spanish Oak barrels. A good dram that all the team was impressed with. The nose had a light perfume, the taste improved the nose and I got parma violets and honey on the finish.

20. Distillery Edition 15y.o. 51% Glenfiddich
This had a Victory V (linseed?) flavour to the finish. And my note was “a very fitting finish to a good tasting”.

The best tasting note was written by one of the other members of the team and I reproduce it here with his permission:

Georgia Moon Corn Whisky – guaranteed to be less than 30 days old (quality huh?), 80 proof.

Colour: Clear

Nose: New make spirit

Taste: Shite

Finish: Spat!

I also picked up a couple of contacts so that I can arrange tours at distilleries that don’t usually allow visitors in. This will be really good for our holiday in Scotland next March. This is a boys only adventure and will be the subject of another Blog next year. After the event we wandered down to the train and headed off home all nicely sober.

There is a p.s. to this Blog. I learned later that there was another convention going on at the same hotel at the same time. You won’t believe me but I have been reliably informed it was an AA event and no I don't mean the motoring organisation!

My next whisky event is in November when I have two very close together, but there are a few things in between first: 2 weeks in Cuba, Bill Wyman & his Rhythm Kings in concert and Mike Harding doing a mix of stand-up, stories and music.

Autumn sure is a busy time.

Until next time, Adios.


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