Our first try at a full-scale tasting took place July 17th 2009 at Max & Norm's place. We managed to get 12 men to sign up, but three had to bail out, leaving us a bit in the lurch. The 9 of us went ahead with the tasting, and so got a little extra whisky in the deal. This was the only time we had any leftovers, and I learned Saturday around lunch in a drunken voicemail that Mark and Max were holding scotch club 1.1 with said leftovers, which apparently did wonders for their hangovers.
Attending: Me, Max, Norm, Dara, Derek, Kevin, Mark, Laurent, Allard.
Yamazaki 18 (Japan)
Max and I had been hearing about this Japanese distillery for quite some time from a friend in London, and we were more than a little sceptical. Max came back from a trip to the US with a bottle of Yamazaki 12, and we found it to be absolutely spectacular. We were both really excited to try the 18-year-old, and to showcase a great whisky from Japan, of all places.
The whisky went alright with the group - one comment was "Those Japs make a mean whisky. Who knew?" Max and I were crushed, though, as we found it far inferior to the 12-year-old expression and about twice the price. Another lesson learned: older whisky isn't better by definition.
Nose: Amazing. Lots of wine and fruit. Rich.
Palate: Started smooth, but then goes bitter and woody. A little smoke in the back.
Finish: All big bitter wood and burnt sugar.
Overall: One of the best-smelling whiskies I've ever run across, but this one has been too long in the barrel. Woodier than me in the morning. No better than 7.5/10.
Macallan Fine Oak 17 (Speyside)
One thing about the Macallans is that they are smooth. I've yet to sample a Macallan I didn't like, and this is the smoothest expression I've had to date. Went over very well with the group, especially the scotch novices. Derek picked this up at the duty-free, and a good thing too - this one is around $170 at the SAQ.
Nose: Tons of vanilla. Fantastic.
Palate: Incredibly smooth. Lots more of the vanilla, maybe some honey.
Finish: Sweet and smooth, but quite short.
Overall: This whisky is like a pretty girl without any brains. Sure, I'd go out with her once, but the lack of substance and character wouldn't bring me back for a second date. Around an 8 or 8.5.
Aberlour 15 Sherry Finish (Highlands)
The least expensive whisky of the night, picked up by Dara at the duty-free. I didn't expect much from this one, and was as pleasantly surprised by it as I was disappointed by the Yamazaki. This was the best-scoring whisky of the night, once again demonstrating that expensive isn't necessarily better.
Nose: Sweet, with raisin and figs.
Palate: Rich, complex and satisfying, there's a bit of everything in here.
Finish: Disappointingly short.
Overall: One of the better sherry-finished whiskies I've had, this was round and rich like an overweight heiress. Just wished the finish was a little longer. A solid 8.5/10.