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Keepers of the Quaich

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Irving Irving

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I wanted to get in the record my Haley Cognata hosted tasting notes. It was a memorable night and eye-opening. I was very impressed with Deanston 12 –minty, yeasty, light and approachable. Reminded me a bit of Littlemill 7. Definitely on my “buy” list. Tobermory 10 “from Mary’s well” was licorice, honey and fennel. Ledaig 9 “safe harbour” was iodine amd medicinal nose–not particularly enjoyable. Bunnahabain 12 was light and sweet with a cereal nose and lots of energy. Not particularly complex, it finishes clean with a slight burn on the back of the tongue. Bunnahabain 18 was caramel nad rubber with a suprisingly quick finish for its age and heaviness. We drank Bunnahabain 25 too but my notes are thin (it was getting late). I don’t recall it spectacular. It was fun drinking Black Bottle again. Haney informed us it’s 45% malt, 55% grain. The nose is an ashtray and the pallette peaty–but that’s it–not much going on here. Overall it was exciting discovering Deanston and Haley added a lot of color to the International Beverage Company evening.

Most age expressions from distilleries are a vatting of casks, the youngest of which is the designated age expression. So Ardbeg 10 is comprised of a mixture of Argbeg casks aged 10 years and longer. This enables the producer to create a consistent taste profile from bottle to bottle, year to year, accounting for such variables as barley variety, climate, peating, etc.

Indy bottlers generally do not vat as described above. They release single cask or single year expressions. They are not trying to create a consistent taste profile. In fact the advantages of drinking indy bottlings is that it’s inconsistent (sometimes in a good way) with the distillery bottling—even of the same age expression. Indy bottlers may take possession of casks, storing them in a different type of climate than the distillery casks. With scotch being comprised of primarily water, the water used to dilute the cask at bottling is often different. And bottled alcohol levels can also vary between distillery bottled and indy bottling. All of these variables play a significant role in effecting the whisky’s profile.

I found a great resource for whisky.
Surdyk’s
They’re in Minneapolis but don’t let that scare you. They’ll ship for a reasonable price.

Some pricing examples:
Lagavulin 16yo: $80 Sams; Surdyk’s $57
Laphroaig 15yo: $64; $44
Balvenie “Port Cask” 21 yo: $90; $70
Ardbeg 10yo: $55; $38

At these prices, we may be able to get more out of our quarterly events.

The Balvenie malts its own barley. It’s one of the few remaining distilleries that doesn’t outsource this process. Gorgeous image of their malting room below. Learn more from this presentation.

Hey guys, mark your calendar for Sams Spirits Night, Tuesday, February 28. 5:30 – 8:30 pm. Brother Bluff and I went last year and had an awesome time. We drank HP30, Talisker 18, Caol Ila 25, and many more great ones. It’s $35/per person. Please join me for a quick dinner prior (for a little stomach lining) over at Goose Island. Register here or just call Sams Chicago at 312-664-4394.