|This month's line up.|
For May's meeting of Manchester Whisky Club we were treated to a selection of whiskies picked out by Anna and presented to the group by Martin, on the theme of cask mania - putting the spotlight on drams matured in a wide variety of different cask types.
Cask maturation is one of the most influential processes that define the taste of any whisky. The wood of each cask adds complex flavours to the character of the particular distillery already present in the new make spirit. And using different casks can make things very interesting.
|The Carn Mor Glen Garioch 6yo.|
And what a great start to the tasting it was. Very rich, dark and sweet, while some drinkers picked out aniseed and liquorice on the palate as well. Quite oily, quite heavy (even "chewy") and with that distinctive sherry flavour, perhaps one better suited to a winter's night rather than a very warm May evening. But at just under £40 we thought this was excellent value.
|SMWS Full of Vim and Vigour|
As ever for SMWS bottlings there was an array of unusual tasting notes on the label, and some of us thought that pineapple fritters was actually pretty close to the mark with this one. It was a little on the strong side for some - "almost bourbony it's got so much oak on it" - but in general people really liked it, in particular after a drop of water when it became sweeter. At £51.40 to Society members, again this was something of a bargain.
|Starward 10th Anniversary bottling.|
Anyway, how about the whisky? Well, this was created from a mixture of the eight cask types used across the company's short history, with 28 casks of different ages used in all, focusing on those previously used for Australian wine and fortified wine. It's a no age statement whisky coming in at 52% and, perhaps surprisingly given the complexity involved, just £80. And this really was quite something. Rich and woody, with a touch of the chemistry classroom on the nose and some pepper on the palate. If anything, there was maybe a bit much going on here for some drinkers, but a lot of people in the room completely loved it.
|Chichibu IPA Cask.|
And so it was! There was no disputing the IPA finish, this was quite a dry whisky on the palate with malt loaf one of the suggestions for a tasting note, and custard another. This divided the room a bit though, with some very much enjoying it and others, while appreciating it, saying that it just wasn't for them. It's 57.5% and if you can find a bottle, it'll cost you £145. In truth there were probably some better value whiskies elsewhere in the line-up.
|G&M Connoisseur's Choice Caol Ila|
Again this divided opinion a little. On the one hand we picked up some lovely notes of barbecue and wine gums, but for others this was the least favourite of the evening. It's £70.
|Kilchoman Port Cask 2014|
"Have you ever seen red diesel?" someone asked as we got down to tasting. As with drams four and five, this got mixed reviews. Creamy in a cream soda sort of way, but with a surprisingly short finish, this was possibly a case of high expectations not quite being met rather than it being a particularly mediocre whisky. It's 50% and costs £77.
So that brought us to the dram of the night voting. And while a few had their supporters, there was a convincing victory in the end for whisky number three - the Starward from Australia. Strewth!
Thank you to all club members and guests from the waiting list who joined us, both old and new, for another successful tasting, and thanks also to all the staff at the Britons Protection for looking after us once again. We're already looking forward to June's tasting, which will be all about some great blends.