Omaha Scotch Watch Newsletter

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February, 1996: Volume Two, Number Two

More reflections on the September tasting

Jules Vieau who joined us last September for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society tasting sent along a few of his musings about the experience. They are included below.

I became acquainted with the Scotch Watch newsletter through John Butler's Web pages. I thought it was pretty impressive that B.J. and Bill put out a regular newsletter, so when I read that they planned to host a tasting by the SMWS, I thought it would be fun to travel to Omaha to attend.

It's worth the trip to Omaha just to visit the Dundee Dell, a neighborhood bar with a particular affection for single malts. Pat Gobel, who owns the Dell, currently has over 150 single malts currently in stock.

When we arrived, Pat offered us a taste of a new arrival, a 30-year old Glen Grant -- delicious!

Alan Shayne arrived and conducted the tasting in a friendly and fun manner. Alan commented on each whisky and offered quite a bit of background information on each. If for no other reason, I recommend attending and SMWS event in the US just to meet Alan. He's a likable and interesting fellow full of stories and surprises -- he used to be New York City policeman -- and he knows a lot about whisky and the industry itself and is more than willing to share his knowledge and his whiskies. Unlike some other commercial tastings I've attended, there was no stinginess with the malt.

I was very interested to taste the Macallan which was -- I recall Alan telling us -- aged in bourbon casks rather than in sherry. Quite unlike the official offerings, this was a much drier whisky but the tastes flowers and spice are still there. Without the sherry, it reminded me of Oban or Benriach. It's one in particular I'd like to taste again.

Alan did offer cigars to anyone who wanted them late in the tasting. It seemed appropriate and well-timed. Most of the attendees, I think, had all the malts they wanted; a good smoke and more conversation topped off the event in a pleasant way. I have to admit that had the cigars been offered earlier, it would have lessened my enjoyment of the malts. But, it was all handled very nicely.

For those of you who've never been to Omaha, I recommend it especially if you combine it with a tasting at the Dell. You couldn't want to meet a nicer group of people. I want to go back.

December tasting full of surprises

The December tasting at the Dundee Dell led to several very pleasant surprises. A large attendance was treated to five exceptional single malts:

While all were considered quality single malts, not surprisingly, the Benrinnes and Glen Rothes were the highest rated. Benrinnes was surprisingly fruity and had by far the longest finish of the gro up. Glen Rothes proved to be a favorite for its smooth palate and wonderful mellow finish.

January 7th Tasting--Tasty!

What a great way to begin 1996. On January 7th nearly 20 scotch tasters attended our first tasting of the new year. It turned out to be a very exciting tasting and rewarding experience for all(in spi te of the fact that Pat was gone and it was left in the hands of BJ and Bill). Of the selections sampled(wisely chosen by Pat before he left), a couple stand out. Most agreed that the Cadenhead Benri nnes, 22 yr. old, was the outstanding selection as evidenced by the number selecting it for their extra dram. Very smooth, pleasant, but long finish, with a very rich taste characterized this selecti on. A close second to the Benrinnes was the very uncharacteristically smooth Islay, the Bruichladdich. Of all the Islays, this is perhaps the best introduction to this very distinctive type of single malt scotch. It's very assertive, yet gentle, palate with just hints of peat and seaweed seem in contrast to it's contemporaries such as Ardbeg, Bowmore, and others. The old gold color and long, so othing finish make for a very satisfying dram. The Balblair deserves mention, too. This very favorable Northern Highland malt is a fine moderate priced scotch which suits many palates. The color is a deep, white wine shade with a fruity, yet tart nose. The taste can be sweetish with a hint of smoke. More than anything, the most noticeable feature may be its long finish which Jackson describes as a hint of "raspberries". Some even recommend it as an aperitif. All in all, it was a very good way to spend a cold January afternoon and served as a splendid warm-up for the Special Tasting to come on January 21.

January Special Tasting Sets New Standard

The Omaha Scotch watch Society Tasting on January 21st as truly outstanding. Approximately 20 people attended the once a year event to sample some of the best single malts available on the market to day.

The group sampled Gordon and McPhail's 30 year old Longmorn distilled in 1963. The nose was sweet, the taste was quite smooth with a long finish.

Next in line was a wonderful Speyside, the 35 year old Strathisla. As with all the selections for this tasting, this one was very smooth. It also had a sweet taste and pleasing finish.

A great treat was provided by tasting the 35 year old Glen Rothes distilled in 1957!!! The nose was sweet with a carmel like taste that proved very smooth. After discovering the Glen Rothes is used in Cutty Sark, many tasters were rethinking their blending loyalties.

Next on tap was the 30 year oldGlen Grant with its sweet nose but with some sharpness on the palate. While a quite pleasant single malt, this was the least favorite of the group.

At Bill's request the tasting included the 1961 distilled 30 year old Glenfarclas imported by Sazerac of New Orleans. As with many of the speysides tasted it had a sweet nose and a very long finish. Sherry casks in evidence here?

Our Cadenhead bottling for the tasting was a 22 year old Benrinnes. While enjoyable to many, it faced stiff competition on this day.

Finally, two islays made the list. First in line was a wonderful 25 year old Bowmore with its smokey and medicinal nose and taste. However, everyone marveled at its smoothness and sustained finish. The favorite of the islays, however, was the 30 year old Ardbeg. Its nose was soft and pleasing and its taste was exceptionally smooth. Even non-islay lovers were won over by this selection.

While the final talleys were unscientific, the clear winners of this tasting were the Glen Rothes, Strathisla and Ardbeg. We can only hope next year will be as enjoyable!!!

Upcoming Tastings

The next tastings in February and March are likely to be another Cadenhead event since Pat is expecting over 100 new bottlings by the end of the Spring.

Informal Tasting Notes by Mary Bruning

A rare experience is the informal scotch "tastings" with the connoisseurs,themselves, Bill and B.J. For those of you who don't know what a connoisseur is, Webster says, "a person who has expert knowledge and keen discrimination in some field, esp. in the fine arts or in matters of taste". Can you guess where Bill and B.J. fit?

At the informal tasting I learn about such things as the "finish" which can linger or in my case burn a little... but I'm learning. Bill and B.J. tend to "purse" their lips together regularly and smile and say "nice finish".

The informal tastings are really helpful in deciding what the "formal" tasting will include. Really.....Bill and B.J. do their homework and we all reep the rewards.