From Inverness the tour will wind its way back south along the eastern coast arriving in St Andrews. Golf is a must for the diehards but others will continue their tour of the beautiful scenery and history of Scotland.
The tour will wrap up with two days in Edinburgh with a Saturday visit to the vaults of Scotch Malt Whisky Society complements of arrangements by Alan Shayne of the American Division of SMWS.
Space is limited so those interested should contact B.J. Reed or Bill Wakefield as soon as possible.
Pat provided wonderful choices for our tastings in May and June. In May the SMWS fell in love with the Imperial 20 YO with a sweet, smokey palate. It was clearly the most popular of all those sampled. The Teaninich 1975 (14 YO) was also a strong favorite finishing in second. Votes were also received for The Tomintoul and the St Magdalene.
In June the SMWS fell in love with the Glenrothes 1979, the most popular of all those sampled. Longmorn's 15 YO was also a strong favorite finishing a close second. Votes were also received for The Benriach and the Strathisla, always a favorite of Chuck Coopers.
An intrepid group of Omaha SWS Members consisting of Shari Dunbar, Sheila Norton, Bill Wakefield and B.J. Reed Left Omaha at 7:30 AM on April 26 to explore the sites and sounds of Minneapolis and its reputation as a haven of wonderful Single Malt Scotch.
This committed group traveled to Minneapolis via Altoona, IA due to missed exit 137B in Des Moines (thanks BJ!). Scenic stops included Boondocks near Mason City and dining in the ambiance of The Embers in South Minneapolis. Our Twin Cities guide, Sheri, navigated us downtown to The Liquor Depot - the real reason for the trip and supposedly the location of some of the best scotch buys in the country. Arrival time was noted to be about 3 PM.
We were greeted there by Carol and Tom, former SWS members from Omaha who were happy to see a familiar face, even if it was Bill's.
Larry from The Depot met us in the Scotch aisle. Batting her eyelashes, Sheri said *Soooooo...are we going to get a special tasting?* Larry said he'd be right back, returning with a shopping cart full of open bottles of Single Malts, sparing no expense with fine tasting vessels (Dixie Cups). After several samplings, he offered to have us serve ourselves. *Oops, didn't mean to pour so much!* We were a pleasantly surprised with a taste of A Century of Malts (Chivas), a vatted malt made with 100 different single malts. Larry teased us with a Knockando 18 year old which was sweet, mildly smokey and not yet available at The Depot (No can do Knockando, boohoo.
A 12 year old Springbank was smooth with some peat and sweetness, eliciting from Sheila, *Oh, I like this one!* Of course, she said that after each taste. Deerstalker - another scotch not easily found south of Minnesota or West of Iowa have one an insatiable desire to see a Robert DeNiro Movie!!
Larry gave us a sampling of 2 Glenmorangie: Port Wood Finish 10 year old and a Madeira. The Port Wood was medium-dry bodied while the Madeira was sweeter and lighter. Lastly, there was a Loch Dhu, dark and foreboding but surprisingly smooth considering its motor oil-like appearance. After copious amounts of sipping, we attracted a crowd of hangers-on, sensing that there must be a great sale or something. We made our selections and Larry escorted us to the checkout counter with the considerable bootie of *Red Tag Specials*. We repacked the car to accommodate our loot-o-scotch. Arriving at the hotel, we got a bit of a stare from the bellboy as he loaded 4 overnight totes, a shopping bag of snacks and 4 cartons of booze onto his cart. We retreated to the confines of the rooms. We then commenced the official sipping. BJ offered up his Auchentoshan with no age statement (the scotch, not BJ). It was drinkable, with a peanuty finish. A value for the money. Sheri opened her bottle of Tomintoul 10 year old. It was surprisingly good for the price ($14.00).
Someone commented it had a soy-twiginess to it. Of course that could be the result of eating Twig snacks as palate cleansers. Bill opened his Glendronach 15 year old, which had a Harvest gold appearance and smooth flavor with some peatiness to it. Sheri offered a MacDuff 15 year old, a highland malt with sweet honey tones to it with a hint of Chinese-like flavor. Sheila opened up a bottle of The Dalmore's Stillman's Dram, 25 year old. It was exceptionally distinctive considering the tired pallets on which it was falling. It had a wonderful balance of a light saltiness with some sweet notes, a very slight smokiness to it.
On reflection of our tasting notes, it maybe said that they were influenced by our snack consumption, including peanuts, Fritos, Harvest Thins, Chinese Soy Noodles, and of course the Twigs. As BJ spit out a Good and Plenty, he said the dram had a nice licorice finish.
We departed for the restaurant, instructing our Ethiopian cab driver that our destination was Sherlock's Home in Minnetonka. Trust us, this was not an easy thing to communicate. This Brewery/Pub/Dining Room has an extensive single malt selection (but not as good as The Dell) and a variety of English Style House-Brewed ales and lagers, served at traditional cellar temperatures (52 of). The bartender's demeanor was closer to the American cellar temperature of 38 of. They also have a nightly feature of a Malt Scotch Whisky Taste, 3 scotches (3/4 oz ) for $6.50, which Sheila and BJ took advantage of over dinner. The selections were a 10 year old Auchentoshan (perfumey!), a Glen Deveron 5 year old(not bad), and a 15 year old Ardbeg (nice). The Dinner Menu consisted of traditional English Pub offerings and international dishes. Most of us went for the Fish-n-Chips but Sheila dissented with the Lamb Poppadums. Most of us enjoyed the food, although some lacked enthusiasm after 8 hours of active consumption. Our Ethiopian cabbie got us back downtown. Some of us night-capped, others were capped already.
The trip back to Omaha was less solemn than one might expect, but everyone vowed to return one day to Larry and The Liquor Depot, perhaps Minnesota's greatest natural resource!!
September starts with the "Killer B's" - our salute to some famous and not so famous single malts. We will taste two all time favorites - Bruichladdich 10 YO and Balblair 10 YO and some three not so well knowns, Benriennes 22 YO, Allt-A-Bhainne 15 YO and Balmenach 19 YO.
What a way to start!!!
October focuses on the vertical with a salute to Bowmore. We plan to taste five different distillations of this wonderful Islay ranging in age from 10 to 30. It makes B.J. and Bret's heart skip a beat.
The November tasting will begin our 1997-1998 tasting year with our salute to 17 year-olds - No, not high school juniors but single malts distilled over 17 years.
The "When I was 17" choices were Coleburn, Deanston, Glendullan, Glenlochie, Highland Park. Don't miss this one!!
One of the big treat's of the year is occurs in December with the special tasting hosted by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Our old friend, Alan Shayne will once again be hosting a terrific selection of Cask Strength bottlings from The Society.
Invitations will be sent to all those interested and Alan isn't beyond bringing a few surprises along with him to share with his Omaha friends.
Those who remember our last SMWS event will attest to the wonderful time we can expect in December.
January represents our salute to Islay, not good news for Shari but great for everyone else.. The selection will include Port Ellen 13 YO, Bunahabain 12 YO, Lagavulin 16 YO, Caol Ila 13 YO and our personal favorite Ardbeg 19 YO. May the Smoke be with us!!
January and June will also be set aside for mega tastings - Keep posted on the selections - Pat promises great treats!!
In February we will visit the five major districts of Scotland. The Lowland will be the triple distilled Auchentoshan, the highland will be Clynelish, the Speyside will be - what else - Springbank and the Speyside will be a Chuck Cooper special - Stathisla
March will be a roadtrip preview of the sites and drams of our Tasting Tour - Selections will be developed by those making the trip in October - Join us and help pick the March tasting!!
For the first time the OSWS will take part in a Ladies Tasting. Shari, Sheila, Mary and other female tasters will not only select the choices but present the results at our April event.
May is our soon to be annual "Residual Tasting" in other words - what didn't fit anywhere else. Plans include Tomatin, Dallas Dhu, Glen Albyn, Glen Garioch and Old Pulteney
As noted June will wrap up our year with a mega tasting to cap off a wonderful season. The choices will have to wait but it will be a great way to kick off the summer - of that we are sure.