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Keepers of the Quaich

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Category: Offline Experiences

I had the wisdom to order 3 oz of Springbank 1965, 39 year and share it with 5 other people at our last meeting. For those who weren’t able to make it this is one time where I wouldn’t be able to describe the experience. I might be able to say that the 39 supplements the wonderfully oily palate of its kid brother, the 21, with a vibrant lemon zest. I might try to describe the romance inside the glass. However, it would all be to no avail. This experience transcended the ability of the woefully limited English language to convey.

Very often very aged expressions bear no resemblance to their heritage and don’t match the hype. At least in this case you can believe the hype and the price tag.

Brother Brass went to our EMEA offices to conduct some training and while in London found his way to The Whisky Exchange’s brick and mortar store. Our distillery pages at our KOTQ web-site are linked with TWE’s on-line store which is so incredibly complete and up to date that I hadn’t even considered a physical store was behind it. Brass spent considerable time simultaneously being tempted and overwhelmed and netted out on a special bottling of Lagavulin. It was special for a number of reasons.

The Whisky Exchange bottled Lagavulin

Firstly, because it was actually bottled by the The Whisky Exchange itself. Secondly, for us North Americans, it was available only in Europe. And, thirdly, it was a cool bottle size and style we’re not accustomed to and was not age expressioned. Our European colleague at work, Klaus, informed us that non age-expressions usually mean a youngish whisky and we pegged this one as a 6-8 year. The bottling was cask strength yet some of the group enjoyed it uncut. I cut mine and discovered a large fruitiness to the palate including pineapple, plum, and peach. Depending on where you cut it you could have a smoky, smooth or very spicy experience. Definitely fun, new ground for a Lagavulin.

Thanks to Brass for his diligence in providing a remarkable experience for the Friday afternoon single malt club.

Exciting off-line tasting from Ardbeg Committeeman Brother Bluff on Ardbeg’s new release: Galileo.

The bottle is a limited edition bottling but not hidden in the back room for committee members only. I pulled it off the shelf for $90 without having to give a special wink or super secret handshake.

I just cracked it open and my initial impressions are positive. Bottled at 49%, I only added a little bit of water to open it up. It has all the usual smoke that you’d expect from Ardbeg, but I get sweetness on the nose and reminds me of BBQ Ribs—charred and caramelized.

The palate has all the salt you’ve come to expect, plus some surprising sweet notes that come from the ex-Marsala casks. It’s aged 12 years, so unlike the recent committee bottlings, this release has an age statement…1999, bottled 2012.

Forget about the gimmick celebrating Ardbeg in Space….the whisky is pretty delicious without the hype, and sadly will not be available for long.

Interesting reddit forum thread here. Some good insight here I think and something we should all be considering at our tastings – particularly new members and guests I’d say. –Bop

[–]ambiguo42Campfire Aficionado
I also tend to get a longer finish and better flavor if I hold the whisky on my tongue for a few seconds before swallowing.

[–]DaBake[S]
I’ll try that right now, thanks!

[–]NibrocNZ
A guy who was running a whisky tasting one said that we should honor the craftsmanship of scotch by holding it on the tongue for 1 second for every year. 🙂 Have fun. I usually do this now for my second sip.

[–]DaBake[S]
I’ll say this, it really allows you to pick up a lot more of what’s going on. So much more depth and complexity from just a few extra seconds. Learning something new every day.

[–]texpeareModeration in moderation
I usually have to hold the Scotch on my tongue for at least a few seconds before I feel like I can taste everything that’s going on. Older whiskies take longer to “open up” for me & sherry cask usually takes longer than Bourbon cask. If you hold it for a while, the finish will probably last longer too.

My birthday this month was on a Saturday and late on the Friday before my group at work surprised me with a cake and a gift: Balblair 1989! I shared it with about 15 people and I had 4 drams myself. When we were finished there was about one finger left in the bottle. One really neat thing is they selected the Balblair based on the results of querying through our tasting notes on this site.

I have never been party to finishing a newly opened bottle in one session but this was really close as the Balblair was just that good. Two guys said they never liked alcohol of any kind before, but were happy to toast me on my birthday, and said they very much enjoyed this expression.

One notable flavor, early in the palate, was banana which was fun. Also the late palate had a nice shock to it like a menthol would. It was so impressive I decided to feature it at the 1Q12 tasting.