In honour of St Patrick's and a truly spectacular number of birthdays in the month of March, we sampled two Irish whiskies, chosen somewhat at the last minute, and a fantastic scotch brought from across the pond by a friend of Max's. Thanks to Persian New Year, Dara and Ardeshir had to take a pass, whereas some of our other long-standing members had less interesting reasons. Except Mark, who was building robots. In any case, first-timers Sam, Ian M and Jamie seemed appreciative. Thanks again to Erin, this time for brownies.
Max's new apartment proved an excellent venue for scotch club (thanks to him and Pat, who had a wee taste of everything), and Joe finally managed to successfully identify a couple of whiskies (2/3 - somehow). We got a taste of the Irish, but found not everyone has a taste for the Irish... Laurent wouldn't even touch his second round of Bushmill's. With only 10 guys, I was happy to come in on-budget, and thanks to the "extra" whisky it got awful drunk out towards the end of the 2nd round. Plus we learned what "Frazzles" are. And no, they don't live underground eating the fruits of hard Dooger labour.
Attending: Me, Max, Kevin, Laurent, Allard, Joe, Stevens, Jamie, Sam, Ian M.
Bushmill's 16 (Ireland)
Grabbed at the last minute and mostly selected on the basis of budgetary constraints, the Bushmill's suffered from not having tasting notes prepared for the blind tasting. However, it turned out to be the favourite of the night - although scores were pretty tight. Personally, I wasn't a huge fan - but, unlike Laurent, still enjoyed getting a taste of this "premium" Irish whisky. Finished in Bourbon, Oloroso, and port casks.
Nose: Winey and sweet.
Palate: Spicy, hints of smoke, and something I just couldn't quite put my finger on.
Finish: Sweet but a little dry somehow, long and smooth.
Overall: Not a favourite for me, but a fairly smooth and interesting dram that ranks at least with the Jameson's 18 that I tried not too long ago. Oddly the first round tasted much better than the 2nd, which is normally not the case at all. 8/10.
Redbreast 12 (Ireland)
One of only 2 traditional Irish pot still whiskies on the market, I insisted we try to get a hold of this one for scotch club. I wasn't disappointed, and neither was anyone else as this whisky was ranked 2nd on the night. At $43 for the bottle, this is a whisky with great value and a lot of character. Impressive.
Nose: Cherries, raisins, plums; something creamy.
Palate: Big, smooth and sweet with some spice cake-type notes and dried fruit.
Finish: Short and smooth.
Overall: Wasn't sure what to expect from this whiskey and ended up enjoying it thoroughly. A bit Speyside-ish owing to the fruit notes and smooth character. Great value. 8.5/10.
Port Charlotte 7 Sin an Doigh Ileach (Islay)
I was sceptical about this whisky for two reasons. First, it's made by Bruichladdich, and I'm not a big fan of the 2 expressions I've had from them. The other, of course, was that's only 7 years old and from a brand-new distillery (opened 2002-3 from what I've read and deduced). However, the more I read about it, the more I got excited - the reviews were very positive. At 61%, this dram is more than drinkable, but is best enjoyed a bit diluted.
Nose: Toffee notes, with earth and campfire smoke. Bacon?
Palate: Sweet, with some earthy feel. Well-balanced with strong peat and smoke notes. Rich and complex.
Finish: Rich, sweet and a bit smoky. Long-lasting and chewy.
Overall: Hits the tongue like a good Speyside and rolls down the throat leaving Islay in its wake. The best of several worlds. Instantly cracked my top ten, and improved significantly with a couple drops of water. 9.5/10.