17 Malts, All In One Night!
I brought my humble collection of single malts to a friend's house last night for a Christmas get-together. Between my scotch and his, we had 17 bottles lined up to conduct a tasting! As most were mine, and I had done a similar tasting with my father-in-law just the day before, I wasn't surprised by many of them.
However, I had just visited the local package store where I picked up a couple new bottles and two sampler packs, so between my new malts and my friend's collection, I got to try a few new ones as well.
* 15yr Solera Reserve
* Cask Strength
* Select Reserve
* 15yr Single Barrel
* 12yr Doublewood
* 21yr Portwood
Highland Park 12yr
Aberlour 12yr Double-Cask
The Bowmore was my first Islay to try. I had previously tasted the more subdued Highland Park from Orkney, but the Bowmore really fired with both barrels! Wow! It was VERY different than anything else on the table, and was just as full of flavor as the Auchentoshan was light on flavor. While my friend did NOT enjoy this one, I did. I won't say I exactly LIKED it, but I did ENJOY it. I only tasted a small sampling of the whisky neat. I look forward to trying it again over ice, or with just a little water added.
After hearing so much about the Glenfiddich 18yr, I was tempted to purchase a 750ml bottle to try, but settled on a sampler pack of the three Glenfiddiches. THIS was a VERY good thing! I found the 18yr to have a most unpleasant taste, very sour with a lingering unpleasant after-taste. I actually had to stop the tasting and get something to eat, then rinsed out my glass completely before going on. I really saved myself some money by just buying the sampler pack with this one! The 15yr was decent, but none of the Glenfiddich whiskies made any real fans.
Other than the Glenfiddich samples, I picked up a Balvenie sampler pack as well. I had tasted the Balvenie 12yr Double Wood before, and quite enjoyed it, so this sample just re-affirmed it as a very good whisky. The 15yr Single Barrel I own in a full bottle, so I just gave the sample bottle to the host, and we tasted out of my 750ml bottle. The Portwood 21, however, was completely new to me. I must say, I really did enjoy this one! It was very smooth yet complex on the tongue, and very flavorful in the throat giving off whiffs of sweet port as an aftertaste. As a red wine and port drinker, it was VERY enjoyable!
The Genrothes '91 was superb, along with the '89. The '89 had been opened for several years, so its smoothness was no-doubt attributable to the 'angels' having had their fair share!
Being a BIG fan of the Macallan Cask Strength, I bought a bottle of the Macallan 12yr, as it is also sherry-casked. The 12yr came with a mini-bottle of the 18yr, which we also tried. If the 12yr is sherry-casked, they picked some really crummy casks, as the color was all the whisky took! There was no discernable sherry flavoring, and nothing exceptional about the 12yr. In all honesty, the 18yr escapes me, which is to say it lacked any character as well. The Cask Strength never disappoints! While the host did not find it enjoyable, I talked him into trying it a second time, over a cube of ice. He insisted on two, and after letting the ice work its magic for a minute or two, he took a sip and discovered what I had been talking about. The CS takes on a life of its own over ice, releasing a variety of complex flavors, not the least of which is a sweet caramel in the sides of your mouth.
All in all, we had a GREAT time enjoying each other's company for an evening, tasting some truly excellent single malt scotch whiskies along with a few duds (in our estimation, only.) We agreed on a few, and differed with as many, but enjoyed tasting every one!