Finally, my posts have caught up with my journal. Our February tasting took place on the 19th at Max & Norm's place (thanks guys!) on Max's last weekend there. As I organized my journal and whisky lists, and out of a raging sense of curiosity, I tallied up all the single-malt scotches I have ever tried more than just a sip or two of. This tasting brought me to 50 different whiskies from 27 different distilleries.
This was one of our best tastings of all-time, second only to Christmas. The two cask strength whiskies (both over 55%) wreaked some havoc on us all the morning after, but all 3 whiskies were hits. Erin again sent some of her great baking over with Kevin, this time fresh cookies. Scotch Club rookie Jesse went 3 for 3 on the blind tasting with great confidence.
Attending: Me, Max, Norm, Mark, Dara, Derek, Kevin, Laurent, Allard, Jesse, Richard.
Glengoyne 12 (Highlands)
Bottled at some 57.2%, this is a powerful whisky that uses an entirely unpeated malt. It's distilled on the Highland line and actually matured in the Lowlands. Grabbed this at the SAQ after a mini-tasting (man, I love mini-tastings at the SAQ), where I found it outscored the Glenlivet Nadurra cask strength.
Nose: Light fruits - pears, apples.
Palate: Some sweetness - fruit, honey, a little caramel. Strong, but not unpleasant, alcoholic aroma over oaky herbals.
Finish: Long, dry, with oak and straw notes.
Overall: Smooth for its strength, this is a nice, light and enjoyable scotch. Good complexity for a 12-year-old. A solid 8.5/10.
Caol Ila Distiller's Edition 1996 (Islay)
We gave the Islays another stab, this time with my favourite distillery. This scotch has much broader appeal than the Laphroaig Quarter-Cask, being finished in Muscat casks and having far less phenol (around 35 ppm). This one was much better-received than the Laphroaig, scoring #1 or #2 on everyone's list. Can't figure out why it's $100 at the LCBO but $130 at the SAQ.
Nose: Some grape over great smoke and peat notes.
Palate: A little grapiness up front giving way to Caol Ila's signature earthy, oily peat smoke. Complex and balanced throughout with a little caramel and spice.
Finish: Long but not especially complex - good smoke and peat.
Overall: This is my favourite distillery, and this was no disappointment to me. It's like your girlfriend in a wig - you like that she's the same girl, but you like that she looks a little different tonight. Tied with Laphroaig Quarter-Cask for #4 and #5 on my all-time list. 9.5/10.
Convalmore 21 1984 (Speyside)
Bottled 2006 by Gordon & McPhail
We let Max go wild at an enormous liquor store in Chicago with $200 for a single bottle. He was like a kid in a candy store, and to his credit, picked up this beauty from Convalmore, which we'd never heard of. This distillery closed in 1985, so it was fun to get a taste of something we'll likely never see again. Another cask-strength bottling, this one weighed in at 57.1% and managed to be quite smooth despite that.
Nose: Grape and cherry, bright alcohol.
Palate: Caramel and dark fruits, going to oak and malts, with a hint of smoke. Round and balanced.
Finish: Alcoholic, some bitter oak and quite dry.
Overall: Easy to see why this was used so extensively in blends - nothing spectacular, but absolutely nothing unpleasant. It's nice, but I felt like the price tag had more to do with novelty value than quality. 8.5 of 10.