Skip to content

Keepers of the Quaich

Single Malt Ambassadors

Posts by :

Archive

Category: Meeting

Here is a recap of our KOTQ meeting in Las Vegas January 16-17th, 2016.   First, thank you for allowing me to serve as Fear ‘an Tigh for this special event.  I had a blast picking out the tasting lineup and making the arrangements.   Also, I’d also like to thank everyone that was able to make the trip.   In total, 7 members of the KOTQ Chicago Chapter were present, and we also had 6 guests join for the festivities.   So, in total we had 13 that were able to attend the tasting, and although it sounds like an unlucky number, I would say that our trip was anything but unlucky.    All of our single malt scotches survived the flight, and I think most of us ended Saturday evening on the positive side in the casino!    I remember yours truly on a heater at the Venetian craps table that most of us were able to ride.   Unforgettable!

To recap, the tasting lineup for the evening included six well-received, other-worldly expressions of at least 18 years of age.   After 1/2 oz tastings and a discussion of each distillery, I asked each of the guests in attendance to rank sort the expressions in order of preference from 1 to 6.   The lowest cumulative score will be crowned the favorite of the night.   The rating scale is more a reflection of our matter of preference than a deep evaluation about the quality or taste profile of the spirits.    Each whisky has a different taste profile, and I wanted to see how our group profiles against these six outstanding single malts.

The 6 single malts in the lineup, in order of tasting, were:

  1. Springbank 21 (2015 Release)
  2. Ledaig 18
  3. Talisker 18
  4. Balblair 1983
  5. Glenglassaugh 30
  6. Macallan 1989 18 yo

DSC05394

In the end, the group favored the Ledaig 18 most.  It also garnered the most first place votes with Macallan 18 right behind.  However, Glenglassaugh 30 wins second place in the tasting this evening based on having the most second place votes.    The Macallan 18 takes 3rd place.

To my surprise, Balblair 1983 fell a distant 6th.   Balblair may have suffered from being stuck in the middle of the tasting and following Talisker 18.   In fact, I suspect that the complexities and subtle fresh and floral nose of the Balblair were washed away by the prior three big-nosing whiskies.    Nearly everyone who came back for a secondary tasting on day 2 were stunned by how different and enjoyable the Balblair was when not competing in this lineup.   It’s an exceptional complex whisky that lost out to bolder expressions for our challenging evening, but given a different day and tasting order, the results could have been reversed.

The Ledaig 18 was really the only heavily peated whisky of the evening, and combined with the oloroso sherry cask finish, it was an immediate winner with our group.     It was a bit of a surprise that the Ledaig 18 came out on top over all the others, but I would contend that it was because the taste profile of the Ledaig 18 was exciting and the most memorable.   None of us had experienced the 18 before.  Did the ‘discovery’ of the Ledaig 18 sway your vote?       I would not be surprised if there is a run on Ledaig 18 at the Chicago-area Binny’s while they are on sale for $120.

Mostly, what we found is that it is terribly difficult to rank sort these particular single malts because the ordinal ranking does not do these equally important single malt scotches any justice.   The distance between 1 and 6 really isn’t fair….maybe more like 1st is 1, 2nd is 1.1, 3rd is 1.2, etc.    Again, just a reminder that these results are not intended to be a measure of spirit quality but instead an attempt to profile our group preference.     You’d be a fool to pass up on the Balblair 1983 or a Talisker 18!

My only regret of the evening is that we did more of a ‘speed tasting’ than a methodical evaluation before we voted on our favorites.   We could have spent a little bit more time analyzing each whisky and taking meaningful tasting notes.   That’s not to say that we did not analyze the taste profiles, but I think we would have taught the guests of the KOTQ a little bit more about nosing and discovering palate notes had we tasted fewer expressions and discussed them more methodically.    If there’s anything I learned from this, I’d say that we should return to the discipline of taking better tasting notes so that we can share our experience online and offline.

Now that you have had time to reflect, do you have any comments about the results of the tasting that you’d like to share?   What did you like best about the Ledaig 18 or the Glenglassaugh 30 that justified their ranking within the lineup?

Full lineup of 13Q2 Meeting

Full lineup of 13Q2 Meeting

At our 13Q2 meeting last night at Delilah’s in Chicago Brother B Funk designed a terrific Speyside themed lineup. We started with the classic: Glen Grant 16. The star of the show, Glendronach 15 “Revival” was next. Benromach Peat Smoke was a big favorite as well. The fourth malt was Strathisla 12 which was followed by the surprise of the evening which was a private bottling by the very bar we were in: Delilah’s.

Delilah’s 14 was the celebration of Delilah’s 14 anniversary in operation. Mike, the proprietor, creates a private whiskey bottling for the bar’s customers to enjoy. 2006 was the 14th year and Mike chose single malt for that year’s private bottle expression. The identity of the source malt is a closely kept secret but the malt had strong Speyside characteristics and likely came from either Macallan, Glenfarclas, or Aberlour or similar. Mike is of Scottish descent and the bottle label features his family’s tartan.

Delilah's (Chicago's rock & roll whisky emporium) bar's single malt private bottling

Delilah’s (Chicago’s rock & roll whisky emporium) bar’s single malt private bottling

Back label - Chicago's rock & roll whisky emporium in a bottle.

Back label – Chicago’s rock & roll whisky emporium in a bottle.

As was reported at our 10Q2 meeting by Brother Bluff, on-line retailer and store of tremendous single malt knowledge Master of Malt is now offering single dram ordering options for several spirits including some single malts. Although their aim is to eventually offer a dram size (“Try before you Buy”) ordering option for all spirits in production they are not limiting the “Drinks by the Dram” offering to spirits which are in production.

Although this does allow us access to silent and even dismantled distilleries not all rare and “out of production” runs like Springbank 21 will available. Yes, I will spoil the fun right off and let everyone know that Springbank 21 is NOT available as of this posting as a Master of Malt “Drink by the Dram”.

I went through the list of what is available and, although I won’t tell you how to spend your money and that I have no idea what the shipping costs to the US might be, here are some drams that I would recommend:

  • Imperial 18 Chieftain’s Choice (Ian McLeod) £4.95 ; a mothballed Speyside
  • Kinclaith 35 1969 (Signatory) £34.35 ; a very rare dismantled Lowland
  • Port Ellen 27 1983 Cask Strength Collection (Signatory) £9.15 ; famed dismantled Islay
  • Port Ellen 30 1979 Old & Rare Platinum (Douglas Laing) £13.85 ; famed dismantled Islay
  • Rare Ayrshire 34 1975 Cask Strength Collection (Signatory) £7.75 ; a very rare, dismantled Lowland (Ladyburn distillery)

A link to the “Drinks by the Dram” section of Master of Malt has specifically been added to the right-hand menu for your convenience.

For those of you who missed it here’s the Forge Club menu that was enjoyed at our 09Q4 meeting. For those who were there enjoy the reminder!

Forge Club 09Q4

Here is our lineup for 10Q1:

Port Charlotte 7
Glencadam 15
Fettercairn 26
The Macallan 17 Private Edition
Linkwood 17 1990 Cask Strength