Dalwhinnie 15 and Macallan 18
Hello! iI am new here and wanted to ask a few questions. :D:D
Dalwhinnie goes down nice, a little softer then the more expensive macallan. The dal sits nice with little burn and really flows well. The Mac seems to be harsher. Maybe thats just me? Your experience?
I have had quite a few single malts and fins them much more palatable then other liquors. What is your favorite in the 60-1004 range? 100-200$ range? I am about to join some older gentlemen for single malt sundays...and was looking to impress :p
Great to have to old friends to drink with!
Dalwhinnie is a very easy dram to power through, for me too. I'm not a huge fan of where Macallan is right now.
When I taste old Macallan, stuff made 30 plus years ago, the spirit is of far superior quality to what younger expressions are now. I read all their propaganda about cask selection, narrow cut... but anything made in the last 20-25 years doesn't match the quality of what older bottles offer. About six months ago I had their 12 year from a bottle bottled about 35 years ago right next to their 12 bottled recently. Both bottles were opened at the same time for the tasting, and the older bottle was absolutely a better dram. They two were tasted double blind - meaning, of the 10 of us that tasted them, we didn't know what was being poured and in what order they were served. We actually had them side by side but they were placed in different order in front of the tasters; some had the old bottle on the right and some had it on the left and none of us knew ahead of time either were Macallan. Ten out of ten people picked the older bottling over the younger bottling and the experience of the tasters ranged from novice to industry pros. It was very enlightening and confirmed the opinion I've had about Macallan for about four years now. If you're wondering, three of the 10 of us (I was one of the three) recognized the whiskies were Macallan before they were unveiled.
As for recommendations in your price ranges, I'd just suggest that price not be your guide and to just try a lot of different whiskies. Get into the independent bottlers, single cask, cask strength and unchillfiltered whiskies. This is where the most unique whiskies are generally coming from, in my humble opinion, and I think they'll be impressive to your friends because they likely will not have heard of them or had them. They've all surely had most of the major brands so go lesser known. That said, Glenfarclas cask strength, Highland Park, Springbank and a handful of other official bottlings are really top-notch.
I had a customer bring me a sample of Kilchoman 4 year that was a unique bottling for the Tokyo International Bar Show. It was cask strength and bottled at 60%. Very interesting! Cannot wait to see some older expressions from them!!! It was so well balanced that it needed no water, even at this strength. One of the five-best drams I've had this year (I have had over 250 different whiskies so far in 2012).
Anyway, good drinking!
I agree with Dale. I have found older distillations of several malts to be far superior to the bottlings of present day. My theory is that with so many distilleries switching to computerized processes to reduce headcount to improve the bottom line, the true crafting of whisky is becoming a dinosaur. We as consumers are paying higher prices with lower quality. Gone are the days that we will experience the one-off single cask with superior quality because the experienced and skillful stillman's touch has been taken out of the equation ( e. g., Glenburgie has a staff of one monitoring the process...note I stated MONITORING, not RUNNING the process ). Still Glenburgie is a good whisky ( I like it as a session dram ), but it is not what it used to be. My hat is off to Springbank as the only computer you will find in the manufacturing process of whisky is a "chalkboard." I do know, as Dale suggested, that the industry has gained immeasurable knowledge in "wood management." I am also grateful for independent bottlers as they have applied these lessons to the point that I think the distilleries have to follow. There is no doubt that OBs are excellent, but there is also no doubt that independent bottlings give OBs a run for their money; especially in the single cask bottlings.
As for impressing your Sunday afternoon gentlemen's gathering, I wouldn't be so concerned. I humbly submit not to get hung up on price and age of malts. I have had excellent 3-year-old malts and crap 20, 30, & 40-year-old malts as well as good and bad NO-AGE-STATEMENT malts. Always keep in mind that old age and high price is not a prerequisite for a "good malt," but old age DOES translate to a higher price but not necessarily a better whisky. I also suggest that one should not confuse the personality of given malts with harshness. All too often people are searching for just SMOOTH whiskies thinking that anything other than smooth is harsh. Many times what is being perceived as harsh is in reality the personality and / or complexity of a whisky. Continue to develop your nose and palate and you will eventually reach the "AH HA" moment where you can truly tell the difference between harshness vs. a malt's personality and / or complexity.
If you don't want to break the bank purchasing malts, try good malty drams as Glenburgie, Tamdhu, Glen Deveron ( MacDuff in independent bottlings ), Tomatin, Glencadam, An Cnoc, and as Dale noted, the young Kilchoman ( pronounced KILL-HOMAN, the "C" is silent ).
Good luck on your endeavors with malts.
Kenneth makes a couple great points. The first being Glenburgie. I'm very fond of bottlings I've had, particularly from G&M and Signatory. The Signatory bottling I've had is a 26 year cask strength marvel. I've had 10 and 21 from G&M, and an 18 from the Prime Malt line. But things change and new bottlings don't seem to quite have the character of older bottlings.
I wholly agree that wood management is becoming more common with many distiller's due to the influence of the independents. The trick for the consumer is knowing whether it is merely lip service or dedicated practice. Sometimes these things become catchphrases - I remember wineries in Napa telling anyone who'd listen their wines were "Burgundian" in style. The problem was that cannot be said when they're pouring Cabernet because Cabernet isn't grown in Burgundy. As amusing as this seems, I've sadly seen it at many more than half a dozen wineries. So when the monster brands and distillers talk about their wood program, my first inclination is to not accept what I'm hearing at face value.
The smooth - harsh comment is also a good one. There are technical harshness-es which shouldn't be in a whisky, generally from a distiller taking to wide of a cut weighted toward the feints. A good example of this is Edradour; it has a component that some might say is harsh but is really its character. I'd also say it's a man's man whisky, one I particularly enjoy for its malty, big beefy character - plus they and Signatory were the first producer/bottler I visited on my first trip to Scotland.
Anyway, Kenneth's comments are spot on, and will consider them further with while enjoying the Rosebank 21 G&M I'm finishing tonight!
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