Thursday, May 5, 2011

April 2011 Tasting

Very late putting up this post; it's been a tough month but it looks as if the worst of it is probably behind me now. Fortunately, I am managing to put it up before the May tasting... considering I just finished talking to Max about our June purchasing I feel like summer is halfway gone already and we're not even really into May yet.

Our April scotch club broke tradition and took place on Saturday the 16th; many liked this better than Friday evening but we do imbibe on the grace of our hosts, and we thank Max and Pat once again for their generously taking up these duties. A hearty welcome to Bill, an old hand at scotch but new to the club (and apologies to Kim). Cheers out to Kevin on his 10th and possibly final tasting; Joe on his tenth and probably not final; and to me and Max for tasting our 50th whisky with the club.

Attending: Me, Max, Derek, Allard, IanM, Kevin, Joe, Jesse, Stevens, Pat, Nick, Bill

Ardmore Traditional Cask (Speyside, no age statement)
My first sampling from Ardmore, it is getting more and more difficult for us to find distilleries we haven't gone through yet. It claims itself to be a peated Speyside whisky, which are rare enough (even if we had one last month), and is aged in a smaller "traditional" cask like the Laphroiag 1/4-cask.

Nose: Balanced, with rich vanilla, some fruitiness and a hint of caramel.
Palate: A little grape, a little caramel, a little peat. Good balance and complexity, but not great.
Finish: Gets a little woody and bitter, but good overall.
Overall: Wasn't expecting much, and that's exactly what I got. Like dating a girl that you don't really see anything bad about, but you keep hoping you're going to dinner with her cuter and more interesting friends. 8/10.

Macallan 18 (Speyside)
Goodness, two Speysides in one tasting?! You'd think that Max and I fell asleep at the wheel while planning this one, but the price of MacAllan 18 in Illinois was too good to pass up. This is considered one of the classic - if not the archetypal - Speyside whiskies. For good reason, as we discovered.

Nose: Big grape notes, vanilla wood without the raw oak. Smooth, subtle and wondrous; possibly the best nose I've ever encountered.
Palate: Smooth as silk, maybe smoother. Full of subtle vanilla, cream, oak... wow. Wow.
Finish: Rich and fruity, rising wood flavour. Best oak I've ever encountered in whisky. Fantastic complexity and balance.
Overall: It's easy to see why this whisky is held in such high esteem. If I could have a gas mask pump this aroma at my nose 24/7, I'd die happy. Hell, I'd live happy, too. 9.5/10.

Kilchoman KWM Exclusive (Islay, no age statement)
Another offering from the farm distillery of Kilchoman, a little different from the one we had in January. This is a cask strength version, straight out of a single barrel bought by our friends at the Kensington Wine Market in Calgary and being sold in this exclusive offering. We knew this was going to be a little young and raw, but I don't think we quite realized how strong "cask strength" was going to be for a roughly 3-year-old whisky...

Nose: Peat smoke, pure and simple. Smouldering. Wow. Smooth for the age and alcohol content.
Palate: Very simple. Honey up front followed by HUGE peat. Not complex; decent balance and quite beautiful but completely uncompromising.
Finish: A little raw, but not so bad for a 3- or 4-year-old. Nice lingering sweetness and more big peat flavour.
Overall: Like a good-looking girl that benches 250: beautiful and strong, but not for the faint of heart. 9/10 if you LOVE peat; 8/10 if you don't.

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