I represent a group of single malt affectionados from the Pacific northwest of British Columbia, Canada. Several of my friends and I are in the process of forming a society to be called the Single Malt Society of the Pacific. We have amassed a small inventory, in spite of the barbaric Canadian customs and excise restrictions (fortunately we have contacts in the United States who have helped us extend the range beyond what is offered in provincial liquor stores). We are interested in communicating with persons from established societies. There follow the proceedings of our inaugural tasting, held in December, 1994, should anyone be interested.
Director of Instruction
School District 47 (Powell River)
Phone: (604) 485-2768
Fax: (604) 485-2886
Sponsored By The Single Malt Society Of The Pacific, Powell River, British Columbia, Canada
December 26-28, 1994
Tasters: The Team of Paul Lupinacci (Captain) and Roy Carson hereafter referred to as Team A The Team of Donald Reid (Captain) and Thomas Carson hereafter referred to as Team B Umpire and arbiter: Harold Carson RULES On December 26 and on December 27, each team was presented with seven unidentified single malts which they were required to taste and swallow, to reach consensus concerning their relative merits, and to rate first through seventh. The malts of each team were different from the other. The combined judgements of each team would thereby generate a list of the eight malts which received either a first or second rating on each day. On December 28, each team captain was presented with eight unidentified single malts previously selected, which they were required to taste and swallow, to reach consensus concerning their relative merits, and to rate first through eighth. The two teams were not permitted to collaborate during the taste. The arbiter would be utilized in the event that the independent ratings of first, second and third did not agree. INVENTORY The umpire selected the following twenty-eight single malts from the society's inventory: BRAND AGE Auchentoshan 10 Balvenie 10 Bowmore 12 Bunnahabhain 12 C-Noch 12 Cardhu 12 Cragganmore 12 Dalmore 12 Dalwinnie 15 Gendronach - original 12 Gendronach - traditional 12 Glen Garioch 8 Glengoyne 12 Glenkinchie 10 Glenlivet 12 Glenmorangie 10 Glenmorangie - 18 Highland Park 12 Isle of Jura 10 Knockando 14 Lagavulin 16 Laphroaig 10 Macallan 12 Oban 14 Sheep Dip 8 Singleton 12 Talisker 10 Tamnavulin 10 ORDER OF PRESENTATION December 26 and 27 Using a table of random numbers, the umpire assigned each single malt a different number between one and twenty-eight. Two of each of these numbers were then affixed to the bottom of each tasting glass and the umpire in seclusion poured two 1/2 ounce tots of the corresponding single malt. December 28 Using a table of random numbers, the umpire assigned a different number between one and eight to each of the eight single malts identified during the previous two days. Two of each of these numbers were then affixed to the bottom of each tasting glass and the umpire in seclusion poured two one ounce tots of the corresponding single malt. PROMPTS, CLEANSERS AND GLASSES The umpire poured a dram of Glenfiddich or neutral spirit just prior to the tastes as requested. The captain of team A requested a Glenfiddich before tasting on December 28. The captain of team B requested gin before tasting on December 26 and 27 and a Glenfiddich before tasting on December 28. A choice of the following cleansers was provided: Kokanee beer, pieces of French bread and bottled water. Tasters found the use of the beer useful for cleansing heavy, high durance malts from their palates. Two types of glasses were used by each team. On December 26, 27 each malt was presented in the two types: a faceted, straight sided glass with a 1 1/2 ounce capacity and in a stemmed flared glass with a 2 1/2 ounce capacity. On December 28 each malt was presented in the faceted glass only. The other type of glass was available should the captains wish to use it. The captain of team A sometimes poured a little of his tot into the taller glass for his partner to taste. The captain of team B requested his partner to share the faceted glass with him. RESULTS December 26 Team A was presented with single malts numbered as follows: 1. Sheep Dip 2. Cragganmore 3. Gendronach - traditional 4. Glenlivet 5. Lagavulin 6. Dalmore 7. Balvenie It ranked them in this order: First Lagavulin Second Cragganmore Third Dalmore Fourth Balvenie Fifth Gendronach - traditional Sixth Sheep Dip Seventh Glenlivet Team B was presented with single malts numbered as follows: 8. Glenmorangie - 10 yrs 9 Glenkinchie 10. Glenmorangie - 18 yrs 11. Talisker 12 Cardhu 13. Singleton 14. Glen Garioch It ranked them in this order: First Talisker Second Glen Garioch Third Singleton Fourth Cardhu Fifth Glenmorangie - 10 yrs Sixth Glenmorangie - 18 yrs Seventh Glenkinchie December 27 Team A was presented with single malts numbered as follows: 15. Macallan 16 C-Noch 17. Knockando 18. GlenGoyne 19. Auchentoshan 20. Oban 21. Bowmore It ranked them in this order: First Bowmore Second GlenGoyne Third Auchentoshan Fourth Oban Fifth C-Noch Sixth Macallan Seventh Knockando Team B was presented with single malts numbered as follows: 22. Laphroaig 23. Highland Park 24. Bunnahabhain 25. Isle of Jura 26. Gendronach - original 27. Dalwinnie 28. Tamnavulin It ranked them in this order: First Laphroaig Second Dalwinnie Third Gendronach - original Fourth Tamnavulin Fifth Bunnahabhain Sixth Highland Park Seventh Isle of Jura December 28 At 15:30 h, each team captain was presented with the first and second place rankings numbered as follows: 1. Dalwinnie 2. Lagavulin 3. Cragganmore 4. Laphroaig 5. Glen Garioch 6. GlenGoyne 7. Bowmore 8. Talisker Lupinacci ranked the merits of the single malts in this order: First Lagavulin Second Laphroaig Third Bowmore Fourth Talisker Fifth Cragganmore Sixth Dalwinnie Seventh GlenGoyne Eighth Glen Garioch Reid ranked the merits of the single malts in this order: First Lagavulin Second Bowmore Third Laphroaig Fourth Talisker Fifth Cragganmore Sixth Glen Garioch Seventh Dalwinnie Eighth GlenGoyne Since there was no consensus for the second or third ranks, the umpire was presented with unmarked drams containing Bowmore and Laphroaig and asked to choose between them. He chose Bowmore. He then presented a bottle of Bowmore to team B who asked that it be used to make Rob Roys (3:1 malt to vermouth; one drop angastura and stemmed maraschino cherries sans juice) and shared all round. This was done to the general satisfaction of the membership. NOTIONS Several blank copies of the third revision of the society's tasting form were made available to each team for use as it wished. The notes which follow were compiled from jottings left on the forms. Lagavulin Rich lasting aroma of smoke and peat; deep amber, luminescent face; dignified, masculine; fills the mouth, lingers on the front, middle, sides and back of the tongue from the first reply through a lingering finish. Smacks of peat; redolent of smoke and latakia tobacco. Bowmore Dry, slight peat, malt, indications of flowers and shrubs. Promising first reply with some bite; slow finish, complex and masculine; speaks to the sea meeting the land. Laphroaig Full bodied and masculine; viscous; thick napped and clearly defined; full on the tongue with an extremely slow, peaty finish; strong smacks of peat and salt with overtones of cocoa, nuts and vanilla; redolent with smoke and cordage and perhaps a suggestion of seaweed. A splendid malt of the tideland, of docks and of ships. Talisker Harmonious reek, very bulky with multiple textures. The first reply is cool and filled with promise as it strikes the middle and back of the tongue. Complex yet defined, the smack includes cocoa, honey, nuts, peat, salt, sherry and vanilla; redolence includes cordage, seaweed and smoke . The sea lingers cool on the back of the tongue, during the extremely long durance. Cragganmore Luminescent amber. Woody to the nose with heavy body and a cashmere nap. Comprehensive, fills the mouth and reluctant to fade. Smack includes caramel, honey and brandy. Presence of sunshine striking the angles of the earth inspires splendor. Dalwinnie Complex reek; fairly heavy bulk with a silk nap; smacks of nuts and salt; redolent of smoke. Good definition throughout each reply. Memories of the distant sea make a melancholy inscape. GlenGoyne Complex reek, perfume of flowers and fruit; perhaps a velvet nap; woody first reply holding good promise; smack of fruits, caramel, and a suggestion of vanilla; redolent with honeysuckle; fairly slow to fade, but fragile, leaving behind wild flowers on rolling hills. Proletarian and female. Glen Garioch Complex nose with some dissonance; little bulk, soft nap, bite ranging from fairly cool to hot; bittersweet smacks of brandy, fruit, honey, nuts and peat with redolence of heather, honeysuckle and smoke. Abrupt fade. Auchentoshan Complex reek with a silken nap; cool but full on the front and sides of the tongue; first reply holds great promise; very well defined with suggestions of peat and malt; slow fade; multi-dimensional imaging of various earthscapes. Gendronach - original Dissonance in the reek; full first reply which did not hold; smacks of cocoa, fruit and honey. Presence of the earth induces thoughts of loam and husbandry. Singleton Bulky with a nap rich and soft as sable fur. Cool first reply holding great promise. Complex tastes of cocoa, fruit, honey, nuts, peat, salt, sherry and vanilla with an open-country redolence. Finish stayed back on the tongue; durance was long and defined. Dalmore Fruity, hints of mint and sweet vermouth. Sudden, unpremeditated fade. Oban Complex reek; clear luminescent amber face; bulky and rugged with cashmere nap; full on the tongue and disinclined to fade; some bite throughout; smacks of peat and brandy with more than a hint of smoke. Balvenie Simple reek; syrupy; smack of brandy with hints of nuts; middling fade with some bite. Cardhu Dissonant reek; smack includes peat, honey and vanilla with whispers of heather. Average bulk with a silken nap. Early tongue bite on front, middle and sides fades fairly slowly to middle. Tamnavulin Some dissonance in the reek; a nap of lambs wool; good promise on the first reply in spite of considerable bite; middling fade; smacks of honey, salt and sherry; redolence of leather. Gendronach - traditional Amber glow; complex, almost invasive reek. Heavy bulk with burlap nap. Strong bite throughout. Smacks of salt, prominent sherry, and fainter notes of peat. Redolence of wood shavings. Glenmorangie - 10 yrs Soft reek; fairly heavy bulk with a nap of crushed velvet. First reply is full to the mouth; finish is confined to the front of the tongue. Smacks of cocoa, honey and sherry; redolent with honeysuckle. Highland Park Silken nap; cool first reply; smack of peat, sherry and cocoa with redolence of smoke and heather; middling slow to fade, retaining good definition and leaving a sense of headlands, caves and mulls. A nostalgic malt. Bunnahabhain Somewhat dissonant reek; smack of peat and sherry with suggestions of cocoa, honey and fruit and a faint redolence of honeysuckle. Rapid fade; restrained, but elegant; landscape of both sun and shade in predominantly green country. Macallan Dark amber; face and smack reflect a strong sherry influence; some bite; silky; dry and simple, with hints of caramel. C-Noch Some bite on the first reply; confined to the front of the tongue throughout; middling fade; smack of salt with a redolence of broom; rural, perhaps even raw. Glenmorangie - 18 yrs Simple reek at first, later becoming more complex; strikes both the middle and back of the tongue from first reply to a finish which is slow fading. Taste includes smacks of fruit, sherry and vanilla with a redolence of heather and wood smoke. Leaves an impression of caves. Sheep Dip Simple reek, pale with moderate body and a linen nap; somewhat diffuse with smacks of grains and fruit; grassy, with slants of meadows and hay. Knockando Deep gold with a simple but dissonant reek. Little bulk; silken nap. Strong interfering bite on the first and second reply but cooling at the finish. Quick fade. Smack of honey and redolence of flowers. Sense the arching sky over expansive fields. Glenkinchie Nostalgic, complex, fairly heavy with a wool nap; first reply cool and full; smack includes malt and brandy, cocoa and vanilla; redolent of silage. Long durance. Isle of Jura Somewhat sly and thin with a synthetic texture; some bite throughout; smacks of brandy and vanilla; quick to fade; suggestive of caves. Glenlivet Dissonant reek; nylon nap. Salty; unpleasant bite throughout; rude finish. RECOMMENDATIONS 1. In part to prevent a possible schism among the members, debate on the philosophical underpinnings of the taste should be opened, including the ambiance of space used. Accordingly, Committee of the Whole should call for papers to be presented at the annual general meeting next. Topics to be considered: * Water closets or domed stadia; private vs. public societies * Malt-centering - art or science? * The wages of pleasure, with readings from the poetry of Edward Taylor * Taste standards - stalking the Archimedian point 2. Given the heterogeneity of the inventory, there is a need to establish a select committee to investigate common characteristics and determine appropriate categories. 3. In order to avoid the confusion and uncertainty in the ratings which resulted from variance in the tastings, it is recommended that each flight be limited to one category determined in accordance with 2 above. 4. Some masking effects may be attributed to the fact that all samples were swallowed. If this practice is to continue (as seems likely), it is recommended that fewer samples be offered at each sitting. 5. Cleansing was somewhat haphazard. There was little consistency in the use of cleansing materials and some tasters, on occasion, ignored the materials provided, perhaps in their anxiety to move on to the next sample. It is therefore recommended that, before each sitting, agreement be reached among the tasters on which materials are to be used and that every effort then be made to ensure that each taster is consistent in adhering to this agreement. 6. Some small consideration should be given to complementary indulgences, the form to be determined by a sub committee with license to consider: * Glassware * Hand rolled cigars * French cuffed shirting * Pocket and pendant timepieces * Links, studs, fobs, chains, humidors and clipping tools