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Category: Offline Experiences

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.

the Ardbeg Committee was notified by Ardbeg of a new release available June 1. Ardbeg Alligator. thanks to the initiative of Bother Hoopie I was able to obtain a bottle. Keep on the look out as more may be available on Sep 1. below is some info I could find on it from some early tastings. Brother lakeview and I will post our tastings soon. I will share it with the KOTQ group in a future meeting!

My findings: the real highlight was a chance to try one of Ardbeg’s newest creations side by side against one of their most legendary drams. Ardbeg Alligator is to be the next committee bottling, released on the 1st June and is the latest in a new line of wood experiments from Dr Bill Lumsden. A number of heavily charred (level 4) first fill bourbon casks have been maturing since 2000, peated to the standard Ardbeg level of 55ppm. Having tried some of Ardbeg’s heavily toasted cask experiments (single casks 1189 and 1190 from 2009’s Feis Ile) we were itching to see how the heavy char affected the whisky. Here’s our thoughts:

Ardbeg Alligator – Committee release – 51.2% – around 10,000 bottles

Nose: Immediate spicy, fruity notes, with rolled oak shavings, BBQ charcoal, stewed apples, white pepper and hints of strong tea and fresh bourbon. With a dash of water the whisky really comes alive with wonderful rich vanilla tones, chocolate orange notes and hints of copper. Sterling stuff.

Palate: Big, resonant and dry, leading into more of the chocolate orange notes, sweet vanilla, hints of Five Spice and more stewed apple. Then the smoke arrives, soft, aromatic and gentle at first, giving this a superb complexity.

Finish: The sweet vanilla develops alongside the soft smoke for a very lengthy and pleasing finish.

Overall: What a mega whisky. We were critical of the last committee bottling (Rollercoaster) and its apparent lack of consistency and overly youthful tones, but Alligator is just brilliant. Rich, complex and spicy, it puts Ardbeg right back up there in terms of how to construct a highly drinkable and complex smoky whisky. Miss this one at your peril.

My first quarterly shipment for my membership in “Whisky Explorers” has come and is all gone and I wanted to share with you my experiences. A note though on process as it is important to understanding what I experienced. I receive 4 different whiskies which are all bottled in a nice, small plastic bottle which is completely dressed in its own black cloak; all the way to its collar. The cloak is there to keep the tasting blind. You get about two decent-sized drams (not Cyclone level but decent). Once you’ve tasted it you keep the cloak on the bottle and go to the Whisky Explorer’s website where you take a quiz on things like color, nose, body, palette and finish and you guess what you think the whisky is from 5 choices. You’re actually graded on your knowledge and then they show you what you were drinking and are offered a mechanism for purchasing the whisky. Just to be clear, you CAN remove the cloak and see what the dram is before you even drink it if you so choose. I chose to drink mine blind and take the quiz as it is part of the fun.

Here is what has been sent my way so far:

Dewar’s Special Reserve – tasted like scotch but not quite a single malt. I couldn’t decide whether it was a blend or if it was just a weak over-served Speyside. In the end, I guessed it was a run-of-the-mill Balvenie but harbored thoughts that it was the Dewar’s. If you like blends for their safety and lack of ambition this is a pretty good one. I’m not sure it would make for a good wassail (my current use for blends)

Booker’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon – as soon as I tasted this I immediately knew I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Or Glasgow or Inverness or Islay for that matter. This was the most other-worldly bizarrely tasting experience I’ve ever had; and not in a good way. Obviously impossible to describe into words without experiencing it but it’s one of those “OMG this is awful…here try it” moments. It evoked views of alien worlds and distorted rainbows and all kinds of twisted imagery. This bourbon reminded me why I love and drink single malt scotch. It makes me think that bourbons are not meant to be aged and refined. Beam should just crank out their regular stuff.

Glenmorangie 10 – thank heavens, we were back to reality and recognizable lands once again. I knew this one was a single malt but I knew it was not an advanced age. I felt like it was either an Eastern Highland or a Northern Highland or a really spicy Speyside. I think I may have properly pegged this as Glenmorangie 10 but my overall sense was that the Whisky Explorer’s club considered this single malt to be something rare and special; which is not my view. I got the impression that the Whisky Explorer’s club was projecting this single malt as almost a ceiling on what great whisky was like and I left the quiz on this one less hopeful for the remainder of what would come over the course of the year.

Bushmills – this one was close…I figured it was a blended scotch (or a mild single malt scotch perhaps) but wasn’t surprised to find out that it wasn’t; and I guess wasn’t trying to be one either. I’ve never had Irish whisky before this; so it was good that I had a chance to try it. I’m a bold palatte guy and I found this one to pale in comparison to a typical single malt scotch. Perhaps my comparison should be more between the Bushmills and the Dewar’s as they are both blends. I can see why some people might like to sip Irish whisky but I think I would lose interest fairly quickly if this was the typical experience.

Overall, I find two dynamics at work with the Whisky Explorers Club. Firstly, it is not about single malt scotch at all. It is about all whiskies and a wide array of experience. However, secondly, I think there is a cost ceiling at work here and I have quickly learned not to expect Glen Grant 21 or something like it to show up in one of these cloaked bottles. If you have a broad interest in whisky from Canada to Kentucky to Ulster to Glenmorangie to perhaps Japan then this is the club for you. If you’re looking for a wide array of advanced, refined, or rare single malt scotch expressions I think you’ll be disappointed.

Brother Lakeview and I had the pleasure of attending a single malt tasting hosted by Jeff Conrady and Brian O’Connell last evening. You may remember Jeff from our off-line Burn Stewart tasting which Jeff generously sponsored. Jeff and Brian, a few of their clients, and Lakeview and myself sat down to the following lineup:

  • Glenfiddich 12 (Distillery bottling at Standard strength)
  • Highland Park 12 (Distillery bottling at Standard strength)
  • Old Pulteney 12 (Distillery bottling at Standard strength)
  • Bruichladdich’s PC7 (Distillery bottling at Cask strength)

It was a very fun evening. We sat out on Jeff’s deck at his house and enjoyed the unseasonably warm night temperatures. Most everyone was there to learn a bit more about single malts and Lakeview and I did our best to facilitate the tasting. The real stars of the show were the single malts, of course, and just like with our last meeting the PC7 evoked the most empassioned response from the group. Here were my takes on the expressions:

Glenfiddich 12 – a nice single malt. I think it is often unfairly maligned by single malt enthusiasts due to its wide distribution. I think it started the night off quite well with a pleasant, welcoming, and quite drinkable experience.

Highland Park 12 – the label promises a “gentle smokiness in the finish” and the HP12 did not disappoint. Coming on the heels of the spicy yet mild Glenfiddich 12 the smokiness of this malt was very apparent and fun. I think when we’ve tasted this one the smokiness hasn’t been anywhere near as apparent for whatever reason.

Old Pulteney 12 – a very underrated single malt. I enjoyed it as usual. This was the only malt that I cut all evening (with about 3 drops of water). After the water it became much saltier which I thought was a very good taste, evocative of its fishing port heritage, and a heck of a lot of fun.

PC7 – this one just melts in your mouth if you just take a tiny bit each time. An amazing experience and I learned the best way to sip this is uncut in those tiny amounts. A remarkable dram.