A local fellow whiskey enthusiast invited me to his home for a tasting and I enthusiastically accepted. This was a small gathering, including a local pub owner, liquor expert, another enthusiast, the host and me. I was honored to even be included and the lineup was incredible.
We started off by sampling a couple of beers:
- Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout – nice coffee stout with notes of dark chocolate.
- Prairie/Evil Twin Bible Belt – this is Evil Twin’s Even More Jesus imperial stout that is spiced like Prairie Artisan Ale’s Bomb! with coffee, vanilla, cacao nibs and chile… this is far less peppery and less complex than Bomb!, but it’s still good with a nice thick, dry dark chocolate flavor along with bitter coffee… the other infused flavors don’t really make much of a showing.
Up next was my first Armagnac and probably my first good brandy:
- Chateau du St. Aubin Bas-Armagnac – dry, fruity, dark fruits, light wood, sherry finish, beautiful nose, refreshing (per our expert and I agree)… Excellent!
Finally, it was time to sample some whisk(e)y:
- Mackmyra Special 06 Summer Meadow 2011 – wintergreen, ginger, white pepper, sea salt, white grape, green apple… very nice… may have to look for a bottle next time I’m in Stockholm
- Glengassaugh The Spirit Drink That Dare Not Speak its Name – this is new make spirit (i.e. unaged) and it was pretty bad stuff… notes of barnyard on the nose and palate… on a positive note, it did give me an idea of what the wood was working on for all that time
- Bruichladdich The Organic – earthy and sweet with a pure, natural malt profile… notes of dough, spice, ginger, pepper, lemon with a mildly leathery finish… different and very interesting… Excellent!
- Old Potrero Single Malt Straight Rye – dough, swamp oak (per our host and I agree… thanks for naming that flavor for me), mild spice, honey and sweet tobacco… a different kind of rye… supposed to be old school
- Glenmorangie 12 Year Sherry Wood Finish 2005 – grape, nice spice and sweetness, long finish, dark fruit, full malt, mild dry cocoa… Excellent… best Glenmorangie I’ve ever tasted!
- Black Bull 12 Year – bitter caramel, cigar box, white pepper… bold and flavorful… at $45, this is a great buy!
- Black Bull 40 Year (3rd Release, 41.6% ABV) – grain, more refined, balance of fruit, leather, mild ginger, bitter orange, very mild… I was expecting a lot more… disappointed
- Black Bull 30 Year – lots of sherry influence, fruity, mild spice, dark fruit, apple, pear, cherry… Best blend I’ve ever had by far!
- Longmorn 17 Year 1996 (The Ultimate, 57.2% ABV) – spicy, needs water, bold and untamed , fruity, mildly bitter, malty, strong sherry influence, very dark… not too good
- Aultmore 12 Year 1991 (SMWS 73.12, 58.4% ABV) – spicy, fruity, spreads across the palate, fairly hot, tobacco, dark fruit, mildly sulfurous
- Glen Grant 17 Year 1988 (SMWS 9.35, 53.9% ABV) – hot, slightly medicinal, fruity, herbal, probably second fill (per our pub owner), a little water opens it up
- Ardmore 20 Year 1985 (SMWS 66.17, 53.4% ABV) – mildly peated, fruity, sweet, earthy, ashes
- Glen Scotia 13 Year 1991 (SMWS 93.13, 63.7% ABV) – light fruit, spice, woody, light peat, mildly medicinal, leathery, machine oil (again, thanks to our host for this one)
- Springbank 12 Year Recharged Sherry Cask 1999 (Springbank Society, 57.9% ABV) – mildly medicinal, fruity, mildly spicy, everything is here and with nice balance, mild peat… Excellent!
- Brora 30 Year (6th Edition, 55.7% ABV)- bold fruit and spice, amazing balance and complexity, mild peat… Outstanding!
- Glenlochy 32 Year Refill Butt 1980 (Signatory Cask Strength Collection, Cask #1759, 60.1% ABV) – pure malt, honey, lots of fruit with moderate spice, leathery finish, water really opens it up, fairly ho
- Port Ellen 25 Year 1982 (Chieftain’s Choice, Cask #1522, 43% ABV) – mildly peated, lots of balance without any boldness, spice, fruit , mild leather… Excellent!
- Glenfiddich 125th Anniversary Edition – mildly peated, mild spice and fruit, honey… different kind of Glenfiddich and pretty good
- Laphroaig 9 Year Refill Sherry Butt 2001 (SMWS 29.88, 60.9% ABV) – bold peat, bold spice and fruit, in your face flavor, medicinal with balance… Excellent!
Wow! What a great lineup of whisky! The Brora 30 Year was definitely the standout for me and the best single malt I’ve tasted. Honorable mention goes to Black Bull 30 Year from Duncan Taylor. It’s too bad that many of these are unavailable, but some of the excellent ones still are, such as Black Bull 12, Bruichladdich The Organic and Chateau du St. Aubin Bas-Armagnac. These are all worth seeking out!