We arrive in Glascow on the 20th of March in the early afternoon, for those not totally wasted a search will be on for distilleries, Cadenhead shops or both.
The 21st heads us over to the Glenturret Distillery on the way to St. Andrews. Golfers are praying for decent weather. The rest will be looking for history and a vintage local pub.
On the 22nd we head toward Spey with visits to Fettercain and Royal Lochnagar distilleries. We are staying at the Craigellachie Hotel so surely we can find that distillery as well?
The 23rd has us visiting Macallan, Strathisla and Glenfarclas. This could be a challenging day. We arrive in Inverness that evening for some much needed rest!!
On the 24th we visit the Glenmorange and Dalmore Distillies (Bill and B.J. will be searching for the Stillman's Dram for sure). Golfers have a shot at the championship course at Nairn while others will visit the Cawdor Castle (rumor has it that Macbeth is still haunting the place!).
One of the longest days begins the 25th with our trip to Kennacraig to catch the ferry to Islay. We plan to stop and visit the Ben Nevis Distillery on the way but will miss some other highlights in order not to literally "miss the boat". Once we get to Islay we head right to the Laphroaig Distillery and move to purchase our own "square foot" of Islay by joining the "Friends of Laphroaig". Trust me, that's what the travel agent said.
The 26th is B.J.'s day and Sheri Dunbar's penance - visits to Lagavulin, Bowmore and Bunnahabhain distilleries. There is even hope that we can get to see Ardbeg since Glenmorangie has bought the distillery and promised to reopen at any time.
On the 27th we get back on the Ferry and head to Edinburgh where we hope to visit various scotch shops such as Adelphi and perhaps catch up on some sleep.
Our last day promises to be an enjoyable one with a visit to the Glenkinchie Distillery and hope for the golfers that they can play the Gullane championship links. We wrap up with a special tasting at the Vaults - home of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
We head back to Omaha (and Austin for Jules) on March 29th with hopefully our mind, body, soul and checkbook in tact!!
After starting with the 10 and 12 YO vintages which were a good introduction to Bowmore, we moved to the 17 year old. The nose was inviting with a hint of peat and some smokiness, but the taste was superb. A smooth, delicious flavor with a nice, long finish. This bottling would prove to be the most popular with the group even over the fine 21 year old and the 30 year old we tried which were, of course, very good drams. All in all, it was a refreshing departure from some of our regular patterns of tastings to exam one particular distillery .
An often overlooked scotch is the Coleburn. With a somewhat surprising nose which some members described as a bit harsh, it comes on through the flavor as a rich, full-bodied scotch.
The Highland Park, always a favorite with many members, came through as a very consistent taste and one which never fails to elicit bi-polar comments: either you like it or you don't! The initial nose brings images of the rough northern Highlands; however, the flavor and finish is full and strong enough to linger and make one wish for more.
The Glenlochie was highly anticipated by Bill as he is truly fond of the Rare Malt Selection he purchased a while back. However, the group (including Bill) did not find this bottling measured up to the others. The favorite of the group turned-out to be the 17 year old Glendullan. It had a pleasant nose, rich flavor, and a rewarding finish which made a fine representative for all the 17 year olds!
The tasting of bottlings from one year was a first for the society, but an event which will certainly be repeated.
We next tasted a 11 YO Glenfarclas, one of the favorites of the Omaha group. It was distilled in 1982 and bottled in 1994 and came in at 130 proof. The common comment on this scotch was a peppery taste with many fruity overtones.
The Macallan 11 YO was not as popular as one would have suspected. Unlike most Macallan's we had tasted, this was bottled in Oak rather than Sherry Casks, distilled in 1986 and bottled in 1997.
The Caol Ila was very young, 8 years old but was amazingly smooth and nonharsh for an Islay. Everyone was uniformly surprised and pleased by this dram.
Our final sampling was brought by B.J. Reed from his private stock. An 18 YO Bunnahabain. One of the lightest and smoothest of the Islay's. B.J. heard no complaints!!'
The final tally was that Glenfarclas, Caol Ila and Aberfeldy were the top choices of this tasting.
January was B.J.'s favorite thus far since the tasting included five separate islay whiskies including Ardbeg, Port Ellen, Lagavulin and Caol Ila and Bunnahabain. The 19 YO Ardbeg was the pick of the litter by those participating. Most spoke highly of its "nosy" character but surprisingly smooth taste. While smoke and peat were evident, no harshness was found and the finish was long and satisfying.
We thank those folks for coming and not only braving the weather but weathering BJ and Bill's attempts to enlighten about Islays. It was a very rewarding start to the new year and the good news is that when they host the tastings, it makes everyone appreciate Pat just that much more!
January also resulted in the most enjoyable mega tasting ever. The beginning was auspicious with the triple distilled 21 YO Auchentoshan distilled in 1973. A favorite of many of the Dell regulars, its sweet, fruity nose, good aftertaste and wonderful long, clean finish was a wonderful start.
The Auchentoshan was followed by a 21 YO Glen Albyn. Depending on the luck of the draw, tasters got a << ounce of a bottle distilled in 1968 or 1972. Again the nose was sweet and fruity, with a hint of smoke. A wonderful dram!!
Next was the 24 YO Benrinnes distilled in 1972 - Aged in Sherry casks, this single malt had a dry, sherrish nose but was dry on the palate with a long, light and flowery finish.
The favorite of the day was the 35 YO Strathisla distilled in 1955. Chuck Coopers favorite, the nose was very sweet, almost candyish with a hint of caramel on the palate. The finish was short but exceptionally clean and enjoyable.
How do you follow a 35 year old? With another of course. The Glenrothes 35 YO distilled in 1957 was also exceptional. Its fruity nose and very smooth edge on the palate was terrific. As with the Strathisla, there was a hint of caramel or chocolate in the taste with a spicy, long and dry finish.
A new entry was a 27 YO Tamdhu Pat had just received. Distilled in 1970, its sweet nose and taste was matched by a very mellow finish.
The final two single malts were islays. The Ardbeg 30 YO is a wonderful dram. Distilled in 1967 in a sherry cask, its nose is quite mild while the taste was slightly smokey on the palate, it was surprisingly smooth. A tad medicinal on the finish, it proved long and very enjoyable. Finally, the group tasted a new addition, a 30 YO Laphroaig. Again, a very mild nose for an islay with a slightly smokey palate and nice finish. Most of the group had a hard time believing these were Isays at all.
Pat did a terrific job with this event. Can't wait till the next mega tasting in June.
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. E-mail for B.J. is firstname.lastname@example.org