The SCR at Keele has held a whisky tasting in January for the last few years. The aim is to give inspiration for Burns Night, but it also provides an excellent opportunity to try some new (and often unusual) whiskies. The event was presented as always by the splendid James Gillespie of Touchstone Wines (www.touchstonewines.co.uk).
This year we sampled 6 whiskies. They are listed here along with a few comments.
1. Aberfeldy 12 year old (Highland, 40% abv)
This whisky had a very strong nose, and when tasted neat, had the effect of numbing the palate! But on addition of water, it became quite pleasant. But Highland malts are not my favourite, and at £30 a bottle it won’t be going on my shopping list!
2. Glenmorangie ‘Nectar d’Or’ Sauternes Cask (Highland, 46%)
This whisky was unusual in being ‘finished’ in Sauternes casks, and this gave hints of fruit in the nose. As usual, the addition of water produced a smoother drink, and even more Sauternes-influenced hints in the nose and taste. The quoted retail price was £40, presumably reflecting the higher gravity.
3. The Balvenie 14 year old Caribbean cask (Speyside, 43%)
Another interesting example of finishing, this time in rum casks, which gave it an unmistakable hint of apple in the nose. I even detected calvados in the flavour before adding water!
4. Ardmore peated traditional cask (Speyside, 46%)
I’m very fond of Islay malts, with their peaty and often seaweed notes. For that reason I was quite intrigued when I saw this on the programme. Yes it was peaty, but nowhere close to the likes of Bowmore or Lagavulin! Anyway, I won’t be switching to this one, even though I consider most Islay malts to be far too expensive, and this sells at £32.50, which is reasonable in comparison!
5. Yamazaki 10 year old Japanese malt whisky (40%)
This distillery, founded in 1923, has produced a very credible, smooth whisky which could easily be taken to be from Scotland. At £45 it’s not cheap, but nevertheless, a commendable whisky.
6. Buffalo Trace Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey
To finish with, what better than a good bourbon? This had all the characteristics that distinguish one, was 8 years old, and was priced at a very reasonable £20.95.
So that’s it for another year. It made me realise that I miss Islay malts, so perhaps I’ll just have to splash some cash and get some in!
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