The 10 year old Glenmorangie is a world wide favorite, the top seller in Scotland if memory serves. Its sweetish nose and fruity taste on the palate makes it an exceptional value.
The 18 year old is also a favorite of the speyside malts and it contains a hint of smokiness and an exceptionally long finish. Clearly the favorite of the day, however, is the new 12 year old aged in both oak and port casks. Its wonderful smoothness and finish make it a great addition to anyone's collection. Unfortunately, only a few areas of the country currently stock it.
We also tried a cask strength Talisker distilled in 1979 and bottled in 1995. Talisker from the Isle of Skye has a medicinal nose and a smokiness in taste. However, it proved very smooth and Mary
Bruning described it as "flushy" in its impact on the palate.
Finally the group tasted a 22 year old Caidenhead bottling of Tobermoray distilled in 1972. The 108 proof cask strength bottling was very peaty in nose and taste but very smooth on the palate. Few complained about the choices and most couldn't wait to continue sampling after the official tasting was completed.
It was a special treat for those of us who could attend. Mark introduced the three Glenmorangie Single Malts that were sampled at the Dell March tasting but also brought along a wonderful selection of Bushmills Irish Single and Blended Malts.
My particular favorite was Black Bush, a which is a blending of single malt Irish whiskey with a single grain whiskey. Mark indicated that the mixture is about 80 to 90 percent single malt with 10 to 20 percent being single grain. What sets Black Bush apart is its aging in sherry casks for approximately 10 to 11 years. It provides a wonderfully sweet and smooth taste. Like all Bushmills products, Black Bush is triple distilled which creates its marvelous smoothness. As many of you know, few single malts from Scotland are triple distilled (Auchentoshan for example).
We also sampled Bushmills Irish Whiskey which is also mixed with light grain whiskey to "enhance its smoothness" Because Bushmills uses a "closed kiln" no peat smoke makes it into the taste like is true of its Scottish cousins.
Finally, we sampled the Bushmills Single Malt, which is aged for 10 years in American oak casks. Its light, smooth taste reminds one of some of the highland and speyside scottish single malts. This was a favorite of several of the participants at both the French Cafe and the Dundee Dell.
Participants were also given the opportunity to try Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey which is as close and the USA gets to a single malt. While not taking the place of our favorite single malts, it was quite pleasing to everyone!!!
Thanks again to Mike and the other folks at Brown-Foreman for a fun and worthwhile experience.
He graciously offered me a taste of a few(a bit early for even this untrained(but willing) participant). We sampled a 15 year old Port Ellen which was very nice--even at that hour. For me, there are few of the single malts which can match this one. The nose and the taste were sharp; however, the finish was smooth and long. Since I already have one in my collection, I purchased one to bring back for B. J. Reed as I had promised.
From this one, we next sampled a Signatory bottling of a 1967 Ardbeg which was similar to the 22 year old we tasted at the Dundee Dell a couple of months ago. Again, I was sufficiently pleased with that one that I brought a bottle home with me. If anything, this one is even smoother than the 22 year old. Although one of the stronger Islays, the age of this one has certainly made it one of my favorites. The conversation with John was very pleasant and we discussed several others including a 23 year old Linkwood which tempted me greatly, but my pocket book resisted more successfully.
John and I talked about the proposed Omaha Scotchwatch Whiskey tour in 1998, and he offered his assistance in making contacts and in any other way he could help. All in all, a very enjoyable visit and one I look forward to repeating.
One last note. I had the good fortune of flying out of Gatwick Airport and visiting the Duty Free Shop. The good fortune was that they were having a "Special" that day on Lagavulin 16 yr old. To my surprise and delight, they were selling it for 14.99 pounds(about $21.00)! I couldn't resist and stretched my budget to include a couple bottles. If anyone is flying that way in the near future, perhaps they will be having more "Specials".
Another Speyside favorite tasted was the 27 year old Straithisla also imported by Gordon and McPhail. This bottling was distilled in 1967. It was a crowd pleaser with its sweet taste and long finish. Perhaps this was the favorite of the group. The Northern Highlands entry in April was the 15 year old Dalwhinnie, a selection in the Classic Malt line of United Distillers. While not among the top tasted this day, its sweet, honeyish taste and pleasant finish was enjoyable none the less.
Among the Eastern Highlands, Royal Lochnagar is a clear favorite. While no age statement is given with this single malt, Milroy places the date at around 12 years. While not nearly as pleasant as the Select Reserve vintage, this malt has its fans. The taste was dry and sweet, while some noted to them it was a little harsh. The finish was long and pleasant.
Finally, we all got to taste the "other Cambeltown, Glen Scotia, an 8 year old bottling. The sense of the group was that this single malt was the least enjoyable of the group. Its taste was less mature, harsh and sharp to many palates. The finish was its major strength.
The tasting wrapped up with a full dram of our favorite with the 27 year old Strathisla winning in a close race to the Linkwood and the Royal Lochnagar.
Our thanks to Pat for hosting another memorable event!
B.J. Reed (email@example.com)