Wednesday, June 2, 2010


My previous post got me thinking about whisky and, as the weather is becoming a bit wintry I thought that it is time to check out some of the Malts that we have in the cellar. We don't drink a lot of whisky but have always kept a nice little selection of them for special occasions and for enthusiastic visitors. As I hadn't imbibed for a while a refresher was necessary. Instead of drinking wine last night I had a little whisky tasting. The portions were all small, poured into small whisky, sherry and port glasses livened up with a splash of soda water.

The whiskies I tried were:

Bowmore 12 year old. Islay. Strong and iodine-flavoured. Some sweet heather notes off-set the seaweed. Finishes hot and short.

Glendronach 12 year old. Highlands - Speyside. Rich sherry nose. Quite a sweet and rich flavour which carries through to the finish.

Glenmorangie 12 year old. Highlands - Northern. A spicy, oaky medium style that finishes long.

Highland Park 12 year old. Highlands - Orkney. Smoky aroma with touch of sherry. Rich and smooth taste with one of the best finishes  - long and luscious.

Aberlour 10 year old. Highlands- Speyside. This is a rich and smooth malt with a distinctive spicy aroma. It has a nice clean and lingering finish.

Laphroaig 15 year old. Islay. Seaweedy (iodine) nose with a slick almost oily texture. Very rich with a hot finish.

Glenlivit 12 year old.Highlands - Speyside. Beautiful floral nose. A light and elegant body with nice fruity flavour finishing long.

The Macallan 12 year old. Highlands - Speyside. Beautiful honey and sherry aroma. Fruity and powerful flavour. Long and hot finish.

Tamdhu 15 year old. Highlands - Speyside. Elegant sherry and smoky nose. Medium bodied and equally elegant flavour that finishes soft and mellow.

Cragganmore 12 year old. Highlands - Speyside.. Beautiful heathery aroma with sweet herb characters. Elegant palate and a very long lingering finish.

Tomatin 12 year old. Highlands - Speyside. Fresh, bright nose with a smooth palate. Nice balance of wood, alcohol and fruity flavours.

I didn't try any of the nice aged blended whiskies we have and the older malts as eleven was enough. Even with a splash of soda in the mix the alcohol tends to dull the palate (and the brain).

It needs to be said that I didn't drink all of the pours. I tipped out what was left in the glasses after evaluating them. It was still enough to give a buzz though, not unlike drinking a bottle of wine. I went to bed happy. Also, probably obviously, Lynn was away so I was able to conduct this 'tasting' without feeling that I was a total dipsomaniac.

My favourite whisky is Tamdhu and I have a really great appreciation of The Macallan and Highland Park. The best whisky of the night though was Cragganmore.

A great restauranteur and great 'Mine Host' in the South Island, Frank Pipe, is also a rabid rugby follower. After any game, whether international or provincial and whatever the result Frank would loudly exclaim "Rugby's the winner". Well, last night Malt Whisky was the winner.


Anonymous said...

And, I suppose, a warm bed.
Bin Hire

THE WINE GUY said...

No Bin Hire, I didn't pee in the bed if that was what you were inferring.

Anonymous said...

"It needs to be said that I didn't drink all of the pours. I tipped out what was left in the glasses after evaluating them."

Did you have to empty your spectacles after the third or fourth pour? Not surprising. It would have steamed up my glasses too.

TwistedScottishBastard said...

Good post, but I must confess to feelings of absolute horror when you said you tipped out what was left.
Unlike that pansified fermented grape juice you referred to earlier, whisky is meant to give you a gentle warming buzz.
Could I also mention that putting soda water in a single malt is beyond sacrilegious. A little pure water is allowed, but the alkaline carbonated nature of soda water may well alter the taste. We say in Scotland that the best mixer is a dash of the same water used to make the whisky.
Enjoyed your tasting notes.

THE WINE GUY said...

Thanks for the comment TSB - duly noted ... but ..I have tasted, imbibed and generally drunk top quality spirits around the world. I generally agree that putting soda water in single malt (or Cognac) is sacrilegious if it is used as a mixer. What I was doing was to use a tiny amount of a relatively clean (as in no chlorine character) water with the added advantage of CO2 (not baking soda) to 'liven' up the whisky and to bring out the flavours. We keep soda water in the fridge at all times meaning that it is usually opened and not overtly fizzy. The tiny amounts I used in the whisky was enough to take the edge off the alcohol with a little bit of enervation to lift the aromas. I learnt this from both master tasters in Scotland (various distilleries) and in France (Cognac and Armagnac). The old guys that showed me this 'wrinkle' would never have admitted it in public as it might detract from the mystique that goes along with fine spirit (and wine or beer) production.

Richard (of RBB) said...

Lemonade goes fine with Chateau Margeaux - I tried it like that in the 70s.

TwistedScottishBastard said...

Possibly, WG. I've tried many malts, and generally prefer them neat, unless they're cask strength. I've found that adding water does bring out the deeper essences etc. but I prefer the alcohol burn. Each to his own.
Richard's comment regarding lemonade in a bordeaux...I just hope you were a wee kiddy at that time. I introduced wine to my kids in the same way, but not with a Margeaux.

THE WINE GUY said...

Yes, Richard ruined several good Chateau Margaux from sixties and seventies vintages with lemonade. This was when he was oafish and a bore. Hey!....

Anonymous said...

So he hasn't changed then.
Bin Hire