Thursday, July 7, 2011

June 2011 Tasting

Our nineteenth whisky club was held the 17th of June at Kamran's place (thanks, buddy!), we chilled in a great rooftop patio and remained pretty civil and restrained thanks to sharing the space with a number of strangers. They were a good influence on us, and the classy environment helped.

On offer were a couple Highlands playing at being Speysiders alongside a big, stonking Islay all well-procured by Max (who else?). Cheers to Norm on finally reaching #10, and to Derek who hit #15 and shockingly passed Mark for most clubs attended apart from myself and Max. There's some 1/2-shares in there, but we'll not judge you.

Attending: Me, Max, Derek, Allard, Dara, Norm, Stevens, Pat, Nick, Mitch, Rich, Kamran, Stevens.

Glendronach 15 Jiminez (Highland)
A huge part of the Teacher’s blend, Glendronach has a long history of making rich, sherry-finished malts. This was another exclusive to KWM, and Max said he absolutely HAD to grab a bottle after sampling this one. I had enjoyed their 12-year-old offering on a previous occasion, and was looking forward to something even a little more sherried.

Nose: Extremely rich, huge dried fruit aroma with hints of chocolate and toffee.
Palate: More dark fruit and wine; extremely well-balanced with perfect wood. What a cask that was.
Finish: Big chocolate and toffee notes surge before the wood takes over. Only place you even think about noticing the cask strength, and it's beautiful.
Overall: Smooth, sweet and sultry. The chocolate-coated candy of scotch whisky. This was a spectacular cask and really something quite special. A far better Speyside than most of Speyside can do.Slightly over the 9/10 mark.

Tullibardine 22 1987 Gold Medal Edition (Highland)
A relatively modern distillery new to us, transformed from a brewery in the 1940s by a well-known distillery architect. Mothballed through most of the 1990s, Tullibardine was brought back to life in 2003 and has been going steady ever since. This expression has spent a solid 22 years (!) in a sherry cask, and a huge cask strength at 58.4%.

Nose: Raisins, grapes over strong woody tones. Cask strength tingles pretty nicely (breathing helps).
Palate: A bit sharp up front, some air cures that. Huge sherry, a bit of toffee, sugary goodness all through it.
Finish: Woody, big sherry, but sharp. The water dulls it, but also the wonderful wood aroma.
Overall: A damn fine whisky and another example of an amazing barrel. Unfortunately overshadowed by the Glandronach; which did many of the same things, only better. Just under a 9/10.

Laphroiag 18 (Islay)
Laphroaig is known for their fiercely peated and smoked whisky, and is generally held up as a shining example of the Islay style. While there are Islay distilleries I prefer, this one does fine. The 18 recently hit the market to replace their 15-year-old, though Stevens will tell you this is an inadequate replacement. 48%.

Nose: Gristy malt, less smoke than phenol. Beauty.
Palate: Barley sweetness up front, really quite smooth for a Laphroiag. And then we get the big phenolic peat we expected.
Finish: Almost all phenolic peat and a little iodine. Smooth woody hints with a surprising juicy sweetness.
Overall: Great whisky, but not in any danger of cracking my top-10, or 25 for that matter. A decent expression but is it really that much better than the 1/4-cask? Solidly between 8.5 and 9/10.