Tuesday, August 2, 2011

20th and Final Tasting...

So I've been dreading making this post, as it represents the end of an era, the end of scotch club as we've known it. Number 20, the last with the current format. With many members that have moved on in their careers, and many more about to make serious changes (including me & Max), we decided to end our Scotch Club on high note.

It's been an excellent 2 years, at times a little frantic and draining but incredibly fun, educational, and drunken. 20 events and 58 different whiskies (kinda 20.5 and 60, but who's counting?), and a slew of really amazing people to share really amazing whisky with. One of the things that has impressed me the most is the calibre of person we get to enjoy our whisky with. Everyone we've been sharing drams with - even (perhaps especially) the 1-timers like Barry, Bill, Kieran, Mood, Murph and Peter - has been an excellent drinking and conversation companion, and it's been a pile of fun learning so much about whisky with all of you.

That said, Scotch Club will continue in some format, as it seems I will be in Montreal for a couple more months. Come September or October, we'll see a tasting in some form or another.

I'd like to thank Max for being my partner in crime over all 20 events, helping me to build the club and procuring so much fine whisky over the duration, not to mention hosting so many "meetings." The only positive thing I have to say about you having to leave is that maybe now I'll get to go to the SAQ like a crazy pimp and blow $300 more often. So fun.

Equally, the two of us want to thank everyone that's come over the years, and especially our most faithful regulars:
Derek (Founding Member, 16 clubs attended)
Mark (15, not a single half-share there)
Allard (15, nor here)
Dara (Founding Member, 15, Host of Honour beside Max & Pat)
Ian M (Loyalty Award - 13/15 clubs attended since his first invite)
Stevens (12, nice kilt at Christmas 2009 btw)
Kevin (11)
Joe (11)
Norm (Founding Member, 10)
Laurent (10)
Jesse (10)

Honourable Mentions to Pat (9, thanks for hosting!), Nick (8), Rich (5), Kamran (4, pimp venue man!), Mitch (4), Ardeshir (3), Dave C (3) and IanB (2; and he hosted one of those!).

* * *

So how was the whisky? Well, Max and I picked out 3 of our all-time favourites from the history of scotch club. Predictably, they were all Islays. Less predictably, not one was over 10 years old! Even more, they're all cask-strength whiskies that pack a serious punch. We hadn't even spent the whole budget yet, so we decided there was only one thing to do - add another 4 people and another bottle.

I can't repeat the notes, I think they got erased merely by being in the same room as 16 men drinking 4 bottles of whisky with an average alcohol content somewhere north of 55%. It was a seriously amazing lineup of whiskies and men drinking, and it was great to share that last event and those whiskies with so many quality fellers. A big cheers to Ian B for last-minute hosting detail; and a wee cheers to Jason for squeaking into his 5th club.

Attending: Me, Max, Derek, Mark, Allard, Dara, IanM, Stevens, Joe, Nick, Jason, Mitch, IanB, Kieran, Murph,

Ardbeg Corryvreckan - I've lost the notes for this whisky before. Co-incidence? It's a shame, because this tasting confirmed my memory of it being a 9.5+ on a 10-scale. Not terribly complex, but pleasingly so and extremely well-balanced between sweet malt, salt air, big phenol and maybe some citrus. Absolutely divine.

Port Charlotte 6 - Simply can't say enough great things about this whisky. Stunningly good - big and juicy like some of the better Speysides with the soaring peat smoke of a classic Islay. What a distillation that was, and I'm glad to have partaken in 5 bottles of it at various ages with the club.

Bowmore Tempest 2010 - As fantastic as remembered. Such an amazing arrival, big, thick and syrupy with that signature Bowmore aroma. Really quite spectacular and cemented its place among the best of the 58 different whiskies we did with the club.

Caol Ila 9 Burgundy finish - No notes to present on this. While not the magnificent specimen that the 14-year-old Cognac finish was, still a perfectably acceptable whisky and a new record for high-test alcohol somewhere around 68%. A little longer in the barrel would have let the angels have a greater share and made it a little better without the addition of water, which washed out some great flavours. Good but not great.