I love blind tastings. They are a great way to make a huge fool of yourself. Ahem. Okay, let’s try this again. I love blind tastings. They are very educational and let you focus on the whisky without any preconceptions. A prime example of this was last year at a blind tasting at the Campbeltown whisky festival where I rated an Inchmurrin highest and a Littlemill lowest. Would I have scored them the same if I had known beforehand what the were? I hope so – but can’t say for sure!
Peter Moser, who runs the German-speaking whisky site fosm.de has invited me to take part in his blind tasting sets for the last few rounds – which have always yielded very interesting, sometimes sobering results. For round seven in his series, he sent us three samples, labelled #1-3 and with very little clues other than it being a big distillery in the process of reinventing itself and all of the samples being from the same distillery. In the end, the distillery turned out to be Glenfiddich. No, I did not guess that correctly but I was close-ish At least that’s what I tell myself… That has to count, right?
Now, for the full dose of public humiliation and poking fun at myself on my own site I’ll reveal the three drams – complete with translations of my original tasting notes:
Produced from malted Concerto barley and local wheat, and distilled in small batches using traditional copper pot stills, at an elevation of 1300 feet above sea level, Golani is branded as Israel’s first whisky. It won bronze in the Whisky – Israel – Grain – NAS – 40% category at the IWSC 2018.
Dram data: Distillery: The Golan Heights Distillery Bottler: official bottling Distilled: – Bottled: – Age: 36 months Limitation: – Cask: ex red wine (Cabernet) and new charred American oak Alcohol: 40% uncoloured
Sometimes you open, enjoy and share a bottle and completely forget to review it. This alsmost happened with this 30-year-old Tomatin. Originally opened for my 30th birthday it has become better and better through oxidation over the years. I guess now is the time to finally officially review it before there’s nothing left – which should already give you a hint…
Dram data: Distillery: Tomatin Bottler: official bottling Distilled: – Bottled: 11.02.2014 Age: 30 years Limitation: – Cask: European and American Oak casks Alcohol: 46% uncoloured / not chill filtered Whiskybase link
After the somewhat lackluster experience with the Rampur Select I tasted last week, let’s stay in India and look at this interesting bottling. Independently bottled Paul John, you say? How does that happen? Well, glad you asked! You buy some casks in India, have them bottled and shipped to Scotland, have some unlucky member of the warehouse staff empty all bottles into casks again, roll them into the warehouse for further maturation – and bottle the whisky once someone higher up in the food, err drink, chain decides to do it. Which didn’t take too long in the case of this 5-year-old whisky. Pretty easy, right? Let’s see if it was worth going through all that trouble…
Dram data: Distillery: Paul John Bottler: Cadenhead’s Distilled: – Bottled: Summer 2017 Age: 5 years Limitation: 360 bottles Cask: Bourbon Hogshead Alcohol: 57,4% uncoloured / not chill filtered Whiskybase link
Put your hands in the air if you’ve heard of this distillery before. Quite a few whisky nerds have tried the offerings of the “Paul John” or “Amrut” brands, which produce very solid drams, but Rampur? A first for me in any case. It’s produced by the Radico Khaitan group, a big player in the Indian “whisky” market, (in brackets because much of Indian whisky is made from molasses) this whisky doesn’t have an age statement and was launched as their first “true” single malt release in 2016. My sample is from one of their early batches back in 2016. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Dram data: Distillery: Rampur Bottler: official bottling Distilled: – Bottled: 2016 Age: – Limitation: – Cask: oak Alcohol: 43% colouring added / not chill filtered Whiskybase link
Another set of samples from one distillery – Blair Athol in this case – are sitting on my desk and my e-mail inbox is full with conversations with Keith Wood. That can only mean one thing: A sequel to the first series where we tasted six different Talisker drams is in the works.
Four drams from this one distillery, all distilled just a few days apart in the year 1988 but matured in different casks (all of which were butts of different varieties) and bottled between 25 and 27 years of age, which should yield some rather interesting comparisons. All bottles were entered into the 2016 Malt Maniacs awards, so if you want to go ahead and compare our scores to the ones by the official judges, head over to this page.
Now, without further ado, let the best butt malt win.
Blair Athol 1988 25 yo
1988, 25y, 59.6% ABV 21.10.1988 – 3.7.2014 551 btls Casks 6920 & 6924 Refill Sherry Butts Signatory Vintage CS for GI Jane (Fortune Taiwan)
It’s a few months after the 2016 Malt Maniacs awards. I’m sitting in Keith Wood’s den and we’re talking about the whiskies I’ve helped decant into sample bottles just a few months earlier. “You know, it would be interesting if we did a vertical tasting together and publish both our notes at the same time.” One of obvious candidates is Talisker, since there are no less than six expressions that were entered into the awards. A plan is hatched, samples are filled – and about a year (or so) later, the day is finally here: A vertical tasting of the following six Talisker Expressions: Skye, Storm, Dark Storm, Port Ruighe, 10 yo, 18 yo. Let’s do this!
I like ticking boxes. Especially if it means trying a whisky from a distillery I haven’t tried before – like Dumbarton. Founded in 1938, this grain distillery in Dumbarton, Scotland was closed in 2002 and dismantled a few years afterwards. This bottling by the independen bottler Claxton’s was distilled in 1986. I like 1986 – if only for the fact that it’s my birthyear…
Dram data: Distillery: Dumbarton Bottler: Claxton’s Distilled: 1986 Bottled: 2018 Age: 32 years Limitation: 96 bottles Cask: Bourbon Barrel Alcohol: 57,1% uncoloured/not chill filtered Whiskybase link
There are two reasons to visit the Limburg Whisky fair – the first one is the people you meet, the second one is the whisky that’s available there. This Johnnie Walker Red label, bottled in the 30’s or 40’s (let me know if you can narrow it down further), is an example for the latter. Never having tried an old version of this extremely well-known blend I thought it would be a good investment of 10€ for a 2cl sample… let’s give it a try, shall we?
Colour: light amber
The nose reminds me of an old mechanic’s workshop. A concrete floor soiled with several decades worth of oil and grease and freshly spilt cherry syrup mixed with extra dry vermouth. Lots of vermouth, actually. Perhaps the tiniest hint of smoke? Alcohol is noticeable on the nose, albeit only slightly. This has absolutely nothing in common with the modern variant, except for being on the “light and easy” side of things but let’s keep in mind that this has been sitting around for decades in unknown conditions and I’m lacking comparison. Let’s move on to the palate!
Dram data: Distillery: Carsebridge
Bottler: The Grainman / Meadowside Blending
Bottled: March 2016
Age: 33 years
Limitation: 258 bottles
Casks: Bourbon 74679
uncoloured/not chill filtered Whiskybase link
Ah, an old Grain whisky from a distillery that closed in the early 80s when more whisky was made than consumed. Let’s see if shedding a tear for the closure of this grain spirit production plant is warranted …
Colour: dark straw
The nose starts off very well! Grainy goodness! We’ve got a hint of alcohol mixed with vanilla, cornflakes, hubba bubba, burnt molasses, caramel, all stored in grandma’s old oak spice cupboard. Not overly complex, which was to be expected, yet very entertaining and “old enough”. If there’s one thing grain whisky needs to shine on its own then it’s a good refill cask and lots and lots of time. This seems to have had both! Let’s move on to the palate! Continue reading “Tasting: Carsebridge 1982 33 years Single Grain Whisky by The Grainman”
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