Approximately 35 aficionados of the single malt scotch gathered to taste five different cask strength scotches which were provided by the society. Alan Shayne, President of the North American chapter, presided over the festivities and provided the tasting notes and information to go along with each dram. The first scotch sampled was a fourteen year old bottle of Caperdonich from the greater Speyside region of Spey, bottled in Oct., 1980, and is 122 proof(61% alcohol). The reaction to this fairly light, strongly smokey, and smooth scotch was quite positive. Alan Shayne reminded the tasters of the need to dilute the cask strengths with a bit of water for maximum pleasure in reaping the full benefits of the experience.
Next, we tried a bottle of Aberfeldy from the southern regions, of Scotland. This 18 year old bottle of 116.4 proof(58.2% alcohol) scotch was extremely well received. A bit darker, it provided a smooth, long finish with a nice hint of sherry and a fruity, sweet taste(my personal favorite!).
The third selection was from the Greater Speyside section of Spey and was the ever-popular Macallan. This bottle was 15 years old and 109 proof(54.5% alcohol). Obviously, this was a hit with most of the tasters that day. A bit lighter in appearance with a pleasant aroma, the dry finish and aftertaste was very long. This whiskey often provides an excellent introduction to single malts.
The next selection was the 15 year old bottle of Highland Park from the Orkney Islands of Scotland. This most northerly of all scotches was 113.4 proof(56.7% alcohol) and was bottled in August of 1980. Although more peaty in taste than the others with a sharper, more smokey palate, it proved to be one of the favorites of the people assembled.
The last selection was obviously for the more hearty of single malt scotch palates. The selection was the Ardbeg from the Islay region of Scotland. This 17 year old, 104.4 proof(52.2% alcohol) appeared to illicit the most responses(positive and negative) from the group. It is a heavily peated scotch with the nose of a "classic Ardbeg, tarred pigtails in a tobacco jar", as the SMWS society describes it. While many were ready to dismiss it after the nosing, a large majority seemed to warm up to it after a taste and the addition of some water to a desired comfort level.
After the formal tasting, Alan Shayne distributed some fine cigars to those who wanted to indulge, and thanked us all for our participation. All in all, it was a perfect afternoon for one who particularly enjoys fine single malt scotches. Those of us from the Omaha Society wish to thank Pat from the Dundee Dell for all his contributions, those of you who participated and helped make it a success, and our friend, Mr. Jules Vieau from Austin, Texas, who visited Omaha for the first time just for the tasting. It is an experience we hope to repeat in the future.
For those prefering the lighter side of single malts, Glenfarclas is one of the best. However, the October tasting group were clearly excited to taste the Cadenhead choices which are new to the Omaha area. For the tasting we selected Benrinnes 19 year old, Ardmore 13 year old, Glen Elgin 22 year old and finally Blair Athol 24 year old. Glen Elgin and Blair Athol were by far the most preferred of those participating in the tasting.
More notable among the comments was the debate about how much, if any water to add to the cask strength bottlings. While recommendations varied, most participants sampled each dram with varying water levels until they reached their own desired tasted. One brave soul refused to dilute his whisky at all!!!
January 21st (special tasting of 20 year olds on up)
Please mark your calendars to join us!!!
Seagram's has established the Heritage Collection which includes four distinctive Speyside single malts including 10 year old GlenKeith, 10 year old Benriach, 12 year old Strathisla and 15 year old Longmorn. They are reasonably priced and worth a look by all those interested in distinctive speyside products.
John Hansell's Malt Advocate notes the reintroduction of a line of single malts from independent bottler Michael Couvreur that do not disclose a particular distillery. The article notes that those who are interested should contact (800) 738-WINE. Also, for those interested, John is offering a extra free subscription to his excellent magazine for those who renew or join at a cost of $12.95 per year. Those interested should call (800) 610-MALT. The offer expires on December 25th.
A new single malt "club" has been established called the Single Malt Connoisseurs' Club. Unlike the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The SMCC asks you to purchase a minimum of six single malts over the period of one year, one every other month. They promise substantial discounts in cost to those who join. To receive their free catalog contact (800) 637-0292.
It notes that the Scotch whisky distillers are trying to redefine their market including (gasp) running television commercials. They noted that they face a problem of perception (e.g. that scotch is an older person's drink) and as a result have attempted to establish interest younger adults in their product.
The article points to the fact that employment in distilleries has gone from a high of 26,000 people in 1979 to just 14,000 today.
They do note that there appears to be an increase in consumption around the world as Americans and others "come to grips with the idea that moderate drinking and a healthy lifestyle can go together."
New markets are opening up in Latin America and Asia where heavier alcohols such as Scotch are preferred. They also note the evolving interest in Japan for single malts where, much to the chagrin of traditionalists, patrons drink their single malts with water and "lots of rice."
The selections that were sampled included Glenlivet, Singleton, Glen Garioch, Ardbeg and Bunnahabhain. The Moldovans did not care for the heavily smoked Ardbeg or the Sherried Singleton but were partial to Glenlivet.