More information will be provided in future newsletters.
While all of the selections were outstanding, an unofficial Ranking of the Single Malts was carried out. The results:
Scotch Ranking 1 2 3 Black Bowmore 30 2 1 Glenrothes 35 2 1 1 Scapa 25 2 Longmorn 27 1 3 Macallan 25 5 1 Royal Lochnagar 2 1 Springbank 25 Glenmorange 22 1 3
Our thanks to Pat Gobel and the Dundee Dell for a terrific tasting experience.
After deciding what order the scotch would be sampled, Scott set us on our way. Much to our surprise, we were allowed to pour our own samples from the bottles on the tables. We tried the Linkwood, 21-yr first, then the Macallan, 12yr, the Glenlivet 18yr, the 10yr old Laphroig, Talisker, 10yr, and finished with the 10yr old Speyburn. After each stop at a table, Scott led the group in a discussion of the fine points of the scotch and asked participants to rank their favorites. It was quite apparent(though not scientific by any means) that the 21 yr old Linkwood was the majority favorite; and, it was followed closely by the Macallan and Glenlivet. The Linkwood is very rare in the USA now and I asked Scott how they had acquired so many bottles of it. He said they had ordered a case of it several years ago and these were the last few bottles. They had a drawing for the last few unopened bottles; alas, non-members were not eligible!
Having enjoyed the tasting, we were invited to partake of a splendid lunch which included many wonderful items to soak up the prodigious amounts of scotch which had been imbibed. After a satisfying meal and as we were about to further destroy our New Year's diet at the dessert table, the lilting sounds of bagpipes filled the air. As we turned our attention to the direction from which the music was coming, we spied a bagpiper in full regalia marching into the dining room, pipes wailing, kilt moving in time to the beat, and playing familiar Scottish songs. The bagpiper was Bruce McMorris who many of you may know, and he serenaded us with several traditional songs.
Since we in the Scotch Watch Society have tasted all of the ones selected for the Omaha Club, I won't bore you with tasting notes other than to say I thought the Glenlivet 18yr old was quite good and I am not certain that I have tasted that year before. To me, it is well worth revisiting at another date and I was pleasantly surprised at its smoothness and rich flavor. Some observations: Chuck, Vince, Jim, Tom, and I agreed there were perhaps a large number of the attendees that day who were relatively new to the world of single malts. Thus, by starting with an outstanding 21yr old Linkwood, it may have clouded their impressions of some of the later ones. Also, the fact that they were allowed to free-pour their own samples into a wineglass may have further contributed to their ability to accurately assess and appreciate all the scotches. However, it certainly was a grand experience and one which I would not hesitate to participate in again if given the opportunity. Thanks,. Mary, for asking us and we plan to return the favor by inviting some of the Omaha Club members to our Scotch Watch Society tastings. Tom Cover already has made many of our Sunday tastings and Scott Peters has indicated he, too, will attend in the future.
First stop is the Glenturret distillery, near Crieff in Perthsire. The site is nestled deep in a steep valley, and would have been a great hiding place back in the days of illegal distilling. They claim to be the oldest site still in operation, and records tell of a distillery in the area as early as 1717. They even show off a piece of wood with the number 1775 and claim in proves there was a still operation on the site for over 200 years. As we drove into the vale we could smell the " angel's share" in the air around us, but the full impact of the scent didn't hit us until we got out of the bus. The strong smell of the uisge beatha and the beautiful surroundings made me think I had surely died and gone to heaven. What a place! And I hadn't even been inside yet.! The place is obviously set up for tourists; there is ample parking, a huge souvenir/gift shop, and a 5-star restaurant with tasting bar on the premises. The tour itself took us through a 10 minute multi-media presentation on the history of Scotch and Scotch making, then walked us through the distillery and storage areas. I found it interesting that the Scotch process is pretty much the same as other whiskeys ( I have toured Mr. Daniel's own slice of heaven), just the details are changed to incriminate the innocent! Their other claim to fame is their "World Champion Mouser." While on the tour we kept noticing pictures of the same cat--in fact, they're everywhere. When someone finally asked, the guide told us the story of a cat who made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. The cat's name escapes me, but its story goes something like this. It lived for just over 19 years, and brought 4 or 5 mice to the master distiller every day of its life. Using that very scientific observation they figured the cat caught over 27,000 mice during its lifetime, hence the title and the entry in the Book of World Records. Nice human interest stuff, but back to the story.
The tour is set up so that guests finish near the upstairs tasting room/restaurant around lunch time. The tour ends with a tasting of their 8 year old, which I found to be a little harsh, or their Liqueur, which is basically designed to compete with Drambuie. However, for 3.95 pounds (about $5) they offer a "wee dram" each of their 10-,12-,15-, and 25 year olds. I found them to improve with age, and while the 25 was out of my price range, I did buy a bottle of the 15 in the gift shop. Lunch was superb. I had "venison stew in illicit whisky sauce," with two vegetables, dessert, and water for 6.50 pounds (about $10). This came off the cafeteria line, but you wouldn't have know it from the taste. They also have a menu that includes venison steaks cooked to order.
I can only describe the gift shop as lavish. It boggled my mindhow much stuff they had with the Glenturret name on it. Everything from sweatshirts to shot glasses to cork-pullers tocard decks to matchboxes and more. They even had a bottled of 30year old whisky, numbered, filigreed and signed, and they only wanted 27,000 pounds for it (yes, I said pounds sterling, that's about $40,000). While it did seem to be the Disneyland of Single Malts, all in all, it was well worth the visit.
Part II of Nelson's adventure will be included in the next issue of Scotch Watch!
Others wishing to contribute their "own stories" on the experiences with singlemalts should contact Bill or B.J. so they can be included in the future issues of the Scotch Watch.
What sizes of casks are used for bulk whisky and what are their respective capacities?
Cask Liters Butt 500 Hogshead 250-305 American Barrel 173-191 Quarter 172-159 Octave 45-68
The Scotch Watch is a joint venture of Bill Wakefield and B.J. Reed. Anyone with comments or suggestions may contact Bill at 553-3097 or B.J. at 556-5509. Scotch Watch is also available on John Butler's World Wide Web Page (http://www.dcs.ed.ac.uk/home/jhb/whisky/).