|June's line up|
|Green Spot Zinfandel|
|June's line up|
|Green Spot Zinfandel|
|Another Zoom tasting!|
We started in Waterford. Best known for crystal, the area's distillery has also got a burgeoning reputation for its obsession with the local terroir, including organically grown single farm barley.
|Arcadian Gaia 1.1|
|Method and Madness|
This was grassy on the nose. 'Purest green' as someone suggested. It doesn't taste like it smells though. It's certainly both cherry and woody, almost rotting wood or with a bit of a tea thing going on. The mouthfeel was spirity, reminiscent of grappa in fact. We thought this might work as a digestif. This got some positive noises dissipated a bit when we saw the price - 84 quid! A bit funky for some but others did enjoy it. It's 46%.
|JJ Corry Flintlock|
We got battenburg cake or marzipan on the nose. The taste came as a bit of a surprise, like fruity Vimto or something along those lines. Soft fruits all round. The finish was perhaps a bit of not very much, but overall we stuck with it and very much enjoyed it. We were trying smaller measures as it was just a 50cl bottle and that was plenty for some, but other members were keener on it, a real room divider. £95 for a small bottle seemed a bit steep though.
|Kinahan's Kasc Project|
This received some positive comments, in that it was perfectly pleasant if perhaps a bit straight down the line. We were trying batch 4 and it was noticeable (to me) how subtly different it was from batch 3, which I had half a bottle of downstairs and quickly grabbed for a bit of a back to back comparison. The best thing about this was probably the price, at just £32, lots of the club was surprised at how good it was at that low cost. It's 43%.
This was another one which tasted strong straight off the bat, we thought either really harsh or simply a high ABV (it turned out to be the latter - 63.5%!). It stays tasted. People had this both with and without water really loved it either way. It's 89 quid.
|Red Spot 15yo|
Very pleasant, very nice, very sweet, were the consistent comments about this one. Tough to follow the heavy onslaught of the Two Stacks, and while many club members enjoyed this one, some thought it was a little boring in comparison to what had gone earlier. This was the Red Spot 15 year-old. Although good, we felt the timing of the drams held it back a touch and we might have got more out of it earlier in the evening. It's £120 and 46%.
Dram of the night was closely fought but it went to Two Stacks with 10 of the 30 votes cast. Whiskeys 1, 3 and 6 were all joint second, but all the drams had at least two supporters - the sign of a successful tasting!
Thank you to James for choosing the whiskeys and taking us through it, and to all members and guests for attending another great evening.
|The first two drams: a battle of the tens!|
|Airigh Nam Beist|
|My view of this tasting also featured Scotland v Austria:|
one of these events was more stressful than the other
Our March Zoom tasting was led by Anna, who took us through a series of five drams on the theme of 'The Art of Maturation' - with whiskies matured in casks of different kinds. We tried them blind to see if we could guess what the barrels had previously held: perhaps unsurprisingly, this proved rather tricky!
This was an 11yo Benrinnes, from independent bottler Cadenheads. It was a vatted malt, with two casks of sherry-finished whisky, two of bourbon and one of rum. So some of us, almost inevitably, were miles out. This got a general thumbs up. And at £49, this was good value too. The ABV was 46% although it tasted stronger.
|English Whisky 12yo|
As it transpired, we were drinking something from the English Whisky Company. It was a 12-year-old, making it just about as old as you can get from that distillery. This particular bottling was finished in red wine (totally wrong, as ever), and it was a release for The Whisky Circus. It was a small cask maturation, just a 50 litre cask, which probably helped explain the unusual flavours going on. It was £65 and came in at 57.1%.
We were drinking not a Glenfiddich as such, but a 'teaspooned' Glenfiddich under the Wardhead brand. A 23-year-old from 1997, this was 51.1% and cost us £122.
It was even a little bit pink, which hinted at what it had been finished in: a tawny port pipe. The distillery was Penderyn of Wales, and this was a 6yo single cask from Berry, Brothers and Rudd. At £150 and 60.5% this was either one to avoid or one not to forget in a hurry: the 'Penderyn marmite cask' as someone described it.
|Loch Lomond 14yo|
It was from the Loch Lomond distillery, and was a 14yo bottled for golf's European Tour Welsh Open. Matured in a first fill oloroso, it was 52.3% and cost £85. "Like hot tarmac!" says the last line of my notes, whatever that means.
And so it was time for the dram of the night voting. All five attracted some votes, but the winner was - unusually - dram number one, the Benrinnes, with the club's peat fans putting the Loch Lomond second.
Thanks again to all members for joining us on Zoom, it's now more than a year since we last met in person but hopefully we're much nearer the end than the start of the pandemic now. And particular thanks to Anna for taking us through a great selection!
|February's line up|
|High Coast Timmer|
|Kornog Roc'h Hir|
|The full line-up|
And we went straight in with dram number one. This was a bit woody, almost like a furniture sort of smell contributing to a lovely nose. But the views got a bit more mixed once we actually tasted it. There was sweetness, a bit of spice too, but if anything we were a little disappointed with the palate, which went dry and then bitter quite suddenly. It got sharper with water but, as Tim revealed, there wasn't actually enough rye it in it to be a rye, so it was in fact a bourbon.
There was also a bit of dark chocolate around, which was explained by the fact it did have chocolate malted rye in it. It was the Chocolate Malted Rye Bourbon expression from Woodford Reserve. It's 45.2% and costs £80. Certainly distinctive and we were glad to have tried it, but not something anyone rushed out to buy at that price.
Next was a bit of a surprise as we had an English rye, prompting the inevitable chorus of "I had no idea English rye was even a thing". Well, it is, and this one has been produced by Suffolk brewery Adnams. This had boozy mixed fruit on the nose, almost like a Speyside. Someone even said it reminded them of Drambuie. It was certainly a bit orangey on the palate too, citrussy, spicy but almost smooth. "Would be great in an Old Fashioned" someone suggested.
|Adnams Rye Malt|
The aftertaste was very citrussy too, and it had a long, slightly dry finish. There was a bit of a consensus around the word 'unusual' which is no bad thing. The bottle simply called Rye Malt, is 47% and is not bad value at all at £45.
The third dram of the night didn't have quite as much on the nose as the previous two, although some members thought that changed a little bit with a splash of water. It was unmistakably a rye but was perhaps a bit undistinguished compared with the ones we'd already tried. It smelt sweet but the palate was very short and didn't taste of all that much, beyond a bit of spiciness that didn't really stick around. A pleasant enough, easy drinker though.
This was the Templeton Rye Small Batch, from Indiana. It was 40% and cost £39 for a 75cl bottle, although this particular expression is no longer available.
Dram number four got an immediate response: "Do you not think it smells of straw?" There was definitely a bit of the giraffe house going on, although at the same, I thought a bit of steamed pudding as well. Deeper and richer than some of the others we'd had during the tasting, it was rich, lovely and sweet on the palate, with a bit of spiciness coming through as well. Apple pie was another tasting note that plenty of people agreed with.
|New Riff Straight Rye|
We were drinking New Riff Straight Rye, from Kentucky, made with 95% rye and clocking in at 50% ABV. It's £60 and was a clear favourite so far for most of the drinkers.
The last of our five drams also had the highest rye content, at 100%. Apples were again in evidence, along with pear drops (Editor's note: after this discussion of pear drops I went to the trouble of buying a bag for the first time in years - it turns out they taste nothing like whisky. What a con). There was caramel on the finish too although it wasn't as sweet as some of the others. Oily and toffee notes got a few shouts as well. It punched up on the flavours, and it might have been a bit sharp for some club members.
Which brought us to the dram of the night voting. Only the third one didn't attract any support, but it was the New Riff which took the honours with 14 votes, to 10 for the Reservoir Rye and seven for the Adnams.
Thanks to all club members and those on the waiting list who joined us via Zoom for another successful lockdown tasting, and in particular to Tim for selecting the whiskies and guiding us through it. We'll have to do a part three one day!
|Another Zoom tasting!|
|Another Zoom tasting!|
Everyone had a few small surprise samples to try along with the main line-up for the tasting, with the little bits leftover from bottles we tried earlier in the year, so we'd all had the chance to drink something in advance of the opening dram.
We got going with a 13-year-old from Hazelburn, a brand used by the Springbank distillery in Campbeltown. This was an unpeated expression, matured in Oloroso sherry casks. And that sherry certainly came across when we tried it, with a real Christmas cake sort of feel about it. There was also a definite toffee thing going on as well, so all very appropriate for the time of the year.
Someone suggested a bit of water helped smooth things out a bit. Certainly sweet and bold. It was £54 when available (it no longer is, the run of 9,000 bottles has long gone) and it's 47.4%.
|James Eadie Benrinnes|
And no wonder, because it was really very nice indeed. Fairly subtle on the nose but then big and buttery in the mouth, it had a spicy thing going on, maybe cardamom, and also pear drops. It was good value too at £49, and it was 56.1%.
|WB Blair Athol|
You could really tell the red wine a mile off with this one. It helped give the whisky a very distinctive flavour which lingered very pleasingly, too. As is always the case with Whiskybroker, an excellent value bottle at £50, and it was 56.5%. This went down very well indeed.
And once again it was strong and sweet and smooth, tasting all of its 58.7%. But it also definitely had something interesting with the texture, which is presumably where the SMWS tasters got that 'semolina' reference from. It was part of the October 2017 outturn by the SMWS, and at the time was £56 for members.
|Caol Ila 9yo|
It certainly gave us a big blast of peat. The sherry gave it a lingering finish and it was definitely a complex whisky. We thought that, if anything, it might have done from a little extra time in the wood to really bring out more of the flavours.
Amidst all this, Adam kept us all going with a range of quizzes, and thank you to him and everyone who took part, for another successful lockdown tasting.
The dram of the night, mustn't forget that, actually apparently I did because I can't find the results anywhere, so they may well be lost in the mists of time. But for what it's worth my vote would be for the Whiskybroker Blair Athol!