Tuesday, October 19, 2010

September 2010

Our September 24th tasting took place at Max's, where we profited from his fine procurement skills. Another trip to Calgary's Kensington Wine Market saw us hoping to pick up a rare repeat whisky along with some of its siblings - the Port Charlotte 5, 6 and the 7-year-old we tried back in March. Sadly, the 5-year-old was no longer available, so we tried our palates with another one from the same distillery: the Bruichladdich Octomore.

This was our first stab at a "horizontal" tasting, where all the whiskies come from the same distillery. The first run of Port Charlotte was distilled at Bruichladdich on Islay; and all three of them since they came under new management. All are bottled at a cask strength of over 60%, meaning we more than got our money's worth in terms of "bang for the buck." Oddly, a lot of us found these strong, young whiskies had great character that wasn't improved by water at all.

Joe and Jesse both attended their 5th tasting (16 and 15 whiskies sampled, respectively) and newcomers Dave C and Peter seemed to enjoy themselves. Many thanks to Max and Pat for hosting; and another cheers to Max for a fine procurement - these were 3 top-tier whiskies, although if you didn't love the Islays, it might have been a tough night.

Attending: Me, Max, Mark, Dara, Derek, Allard, Norm, Joe, Jesse, Stevens, Pat, Ardeshir, Peter, Dave C.

Port Charlotte 7
As mentioned, we tried this back in March and it was very well-remembered by myself, Max, Allard, Joe and Stevens... the other lads had heard about it and were pretty stoked to have another shot at it.

Nose: There's that toffee/caramel, spice, smoke... everything. Yum.
Palate: Sweet, smoky, balanced and almost a hint of bacon in there. Just a fantastically complex and balanced whisky.
Finish: Chewy peat, huge phenol and nice oak background. Long, complex and beautiful.
Overall: As good as remembered, meaning among the best whiskies I've ever had. 9.5/10

Port Charlotte 6
Another gem from Port Charlotte. Even better than the 7, which was a surprise - I didn't think it got much better than the 7. The overwhelming favourite of the night.

Nose: Fantastic. Great sweetness; the peat blends well into complex malt sugars with big alcohol notes.
Palate: Sweeter than the 7-year-old, maybe some citrus as well. Complex and beautiful as the peat eases into the fore.
Finish: Fantastic peat, mouth-watering, rich, complex and chewy. Fuck yeah.
Overall: What a whisky. Big flavours, big character, incredibly well-balanced and just downright amazing. Did I mention AMAZING? A must-have for Islay lovers. 9.5 or 10 on the 10-point scale.

Bruichladdich Octomore
Supposedly the most heavily-peated scotch ever made (at the time) with a whopping 131 ppm phenol. At 5 years old and something like 64% alcohol, I wasn't sure what to expect from this beast. I attempted making a 131 ppm phenol solution in the lab to compare this two, but I couldn't get a concentration on the Tris-saturated bottle we use for DNA extractions... but this definitely lived up to expectations.

Nose: Like a phenol/alcohol solution from the lab, with some interesting citrus notes.
Palate: A little hot and sweet with the enormous alcohol content, but then balanced and complex flavours have a go 'round before the phenol takes over.
Finish: Nothing complex or layered here, just fantastic phenol goodness.
Overall: Despite the high-phenol warnings, this is a complex and well-balanced scotch, truly a pleasure even at 64%. Not for those loving a mellow whisky. 9.5/10