Just barely managed to squeeze a tasting into June, as I was trying to plan around a visit from an old friend and scotch lover and did something seemingly insane - plan Scotch Club for a Wednesday night. However, it was June 30th, the day before Canada Day. With most everybody off work on Thursday, we were free to celebrate with a highly-rated Canadian rye alongside a couple of fine single malts. Big cheers to Dara for hosting despite the arrival of his parents that evening!
We had a surprisingly good promised turnout, and I (perhaps foolishly) bought for 13 people attending. Some of these had last-minute issues - Canada Day is Moving Day here in Montreal, and Norm's movers screwed him over; Dara's dad was more or less dragged out by his wife - and another might have been a flat mistake on my part. As a result, several of the men put in more than the $30 we normally charge. Thanks guys, your contributions will be noted and some sort of bonus will make its way back to you.
Also thanks again to Erin for some great baking, and the ladies of Book Club for putting up with us afterwards at L&B. A last cheers to BetterMax, we unknowingly did our 10th event this night - 29 whiskies tasted and counting!
Attending: Me, Max, Mark, Kevin, Laurent, Dara, Derek, IanM, Stevens, Barry
Alberta Premium 5 (Canada)
Max and I were slightly sceptical about this whisky, being more fans of scotch than rye. However, Jim Murray talks about this whisky like ambrosia - statements along the lines of 'should be regarded as a national treasure' or words to that effect; and rating it an incredible 94.5. We decided that this was a better buy than the Glen Breton single malt whisky from Nova Scotia, and gave it a shot. At $30, why not?
Nose: Slightly sweet with complex sugars - maple and molasses maybe. Distinct grain liquor smell, though.
Palate: Sweet, nutty (one taster had coconut, too). Quite smooth and pleasant up front. Maybe some ketones towards the back.
Finish: Pure grain liquor, like a cheap vodka. Nasty, and seemingly immune to the addition of water or ice. Maybe some Canada Dry?
Overall: Whatever Jim Murray has to say, and despite a wholly pleasant palate, I wasn't a big fan. I compared it today to a girl who hasn't yet learned that teeth are no good in a blowjob. Sure, you enjoy it to a certain extent, but it's also painful and difficult to get off. Many guys didn't even want their second round. 6.5/10.
Lagavulin Distiller's Edition (Islay, no age statement)
Barry, who isn't normally a peat fan, was given the chore of picking up our 3rd bottle from the SAQ (sadly, he didn't get to London's shops before leaving). I think the promise of the sherry balanced with peat intrigued him, and I admit to wanting to try this expression badly. Lagavulin 16 is one of my favourite whiskies, and my discovery that I really enjoy heavily-sherried Islays - Ardbeg Uigeadail and Port Charlotte 7, for example - had me anticipating this pretty eagerly.
Nose: A little winey sweetness up front, and then big phenolic peat flavours. Lovely.
Palate: Sweet, smooth and calm at the outset. Maybe even weak. Builds to some serious phenol heights in a very enjoyable ride.
Finish: No lack of it. Loads of peat, but without that sorta chewy, lip-smacking bit that the best have. Something else I couldn't quite identify, but quite pleasant.
Overall: Good, maybe even great, but fell short of the high expectations set by the aforementioned whiskies. At the same price tag ($145 at the SAQ), you can get the Ardbeg Uigeadail, and get soooo much more bang for your buck. 9/10.
Talisker 25 (Highlands - Islands)
Another great buy by Max at Binnie's. $210 in Chicago compared to $400 and change at the LCBO. We were really looking forward to a bottle that broke our price record (previously about $190 for the Highland Park 23 and the Convalmore 21) and tied our age record (25 years, tied with a Glenfarclas). That's right, over $200 and 25 years old. Big pimpin'.
Nose: Strong, the 57% cask-strength bottling really shows up. A little berry, a little woody, a little... aldehyde?
Palate: Sweet and lovely in front, gets washed out by too much water. Quite peppery. Nice little smoke flavours with little in the way of phenol.
Finish: A little bitter with more of that pepper and some good solid wood and smoke flavours.
Overall: A brilliant expression of Talisker. It's smooth like a velvet suit and kicks like a gaudy, heavily-weighted cane. Feel lucky to have had the chance to drink some, but I'd never grab a bottle myself. 9/10.