Tonight was another great tasting event at Trinity Hall Irish Pub, with the current Glenmorangie product range on the slate. Dan Crowell was on hand to describe each pour:
The Original ($28) – 10 year old ex-bourbon cask… nose of light honey and malt; taste of orange, honey, lemon drop, mild spice, mild wood, nice malt flavor, mildly dry finish… a drop of water reveals a floral aspect and bitterness, but it’s better without it
La Santa ($37) – 10 years in ex-bourbon cask, then finished for 2 years in ex-sherry cask… definite sherry nose with plum, cherry, vanilla, raisin… taste of apple, plum, charred oak, date… finish is mildly spicy with milk chocolate
Quinta Ruban($37) – 10 years in ex-bourbon cask, then finished for 2 years in port cask… milder nose with prune… taste of prune, spearmint, honey, cocoa, honey, shortbread, vanilla
Nectar D’Or (10 years in ex-bourbon cask, then finished for 2 years in sauternes cask… nose of honeysuckle, pear, vanilla… taste of pear, apple, vanilla, wood is toned down a lot, ginger, mild grass… bit sweeter and more onteresting than original
18 Year Old ($76) – 15 year old ex-bourbon cask, then 30% transferred to ex-Oloroso sherry casks… nice fruity nose, apple, plum, fig… taste of spice, white grape, marmalade, ginger… finish is mildly spicy, leathery and slightly sour
Ealanta ($186) – 19 year old virgin oak… nose of vanilla, far cherry… taste of vanilla, caramel, honey, apple, pear, ginger, candied fruit, truffles… finish is spicy, long, fruity, mildly leathery… Excellent!
Companta ($86) – no age statement, finished in Grand Cru and Rasteau casks… nose of light charred oak, overripe apple… taste of lemon, grapefruit, honey, candied ginger, clove, black pepper, tannins… opens up with a drop of water
As a bonus, we tasted a Rasteau in order to identify the influence in Companta:
Alfio Moriconi Cote de Rhônes Rasteau – fortified wine, sour red grape, viney/green stem, cherry, plum… not a great fortified wine
While Ealanta was great (and hard to find now), the rest of the line wasn’t so impressive. I think that Quinta Ruban and La Santa are good values, but there are other sherry finished malts that compete well with La Santa in the price range or just a bit higher, like GlenDronach 12 or MacAllan 12. Quinta Ruban stands out as one of the few port wood finishes in this price range, so that makes it a bit more interesting. I would definitely pass on Companta and the 18 Year Old is just a bit too laid back with sour notes that shouldn’t be there. Nectar D’Or is an interesting whisky with sweet notes that become more prominent over time. I tend to enjoy it initially, but I can’t have it too often because of the sweetness that tends to be out of balance after spending more time with it. Finally, I’ve decided that The Original isn’t so good after all… get the superior Monkey Shoulder instead for a few dollars less.
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
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!
This is Glenmorangie Original 10 Year Old that is finished for an additional 2 years in Sauternes “barriques.”
It has an aroma of straw and honey enveloped in a bit of tobacco, lemon drops and ginger. I find it to be sweet and malty and sometimes accented with a note of wood. There are also notes of cherry, toffee, grass and pear.
The taste is tangy and sweet while the finish is peppery and dry. Initially, I detect lemon, cherry, orange, honey, toffee and soft straw, then a hint of tobacco and ginger arrive next as a finish of white pepper, leathery oak, vanilla and lemon take over. The lemon fades fast from a burst of tangy heat that develops mid-palate. After a while, a bitter wood flavor develops in the background while the leather and tangy pepper linger on. There’s a lot of sweetness up front, but its thin a midst the tangy burn that develops quickly. A bit of water reveals more pepper and lemon (not what I was hoping for), along with cardboard, bitter white grape and a maltier flavor.
I’ll have to try their Original 10 Year Old again for comparison, but I think its probably better, which leads me to conclude that the Sauternes finish is not as good as sherry or port. I’ve tasted both of those (La Santa and Quinta Rubin) and both were better than this as I recall.