Tasting: The Midlands
Held at: Regional Wines, Wellington
Presenter: Daniel Mclaren Moon
Offerings: Aberfeldy Gordon & McPhail Connoisseurs’ Choice, 14yo, 46% abv
Blair Athol Connoisseur’s Choice, 9yo, 46% abv
Glenturret Sherry Cask Edition, 43%
Deanston 18yo (the mystery)
Deanston Old Malt Cask 21yo 50% abv
Glengoyne Cask Strength 59.1%
Edradour Straight From The Cask 10yo, 58.8% abv
Format: Blind tasting, 6 of the 7 bottles are known, but not which glass each is in.
Where are the Scottish Midlands, you ask? And well you might.
According to Wikipedia, the Scottish Midlands (or Central Belt) is the triangle defined by the M8, M80 motorway and M9 motorways stretching from Greenock and Glasgow in the west to Edinburgh in the east.
I hope that makes things clearer, but it might not.
Whisky drinkers in New Zealand would probably refer to it as the Southern Highlands.
It’s not an area that I’ve had a lot of sampling from until now. Apart from having a couple of Edradour whiskies in the past it would be fair to say that this would be my first real introduction to the area. But there is an interesting array of distilleries operating in the region, and some of the whiskies coming from them are very attractive.
Usually the blind tastings at Regional Wines follow the format of nosing all the offerings first and inviting tasters to give their views. It is only after that nosing round that the whiskies are tasted, with more comment invited.
However, at this tasting the known bottles were in two quite distinct groups. The first group of three were in the standard strength range of 43 to 46% abv. The mystery also fell into this group.
The second group of three were all cask strength at 50% and above.
To save the tasting from being unbalanced the presenter made the choice to taste in two flights, with the lower four being nosed and tasted first. The second flight of three were also nosed and tasted in isolation.
My notes and scoring:
Aberfeldy Gordon & McPhail Connoisseurs’ Choice, 14 year old, 46% abv, First fill sherry.
Nose: Canvas tent, leather. Score 7.8
Taste: Peppery, but nice, Fruit
Overall Score: 8.5.
Blair Athol Connoisseurs Choice, 9 year old, 46% Refill sherry butt.
Nose: one matchhead. Score 7.4
Taste: smoky. Not to my personal taste.
Overall Score 7.4
Glenturret Sherry Cask Edition, 46% abv
Nose: Dirty cookies. Score 7.0
Taste: Fruit (from the sherry cask)
Overall score 7.8
Deanston 18 yo, 46.3%
Nose: Wood wool, tobacco. Score 7.8
Taste: Citrus peel, peppery
Overall score: 7.6
Deanston Old Malt Cask, 21 year old, 50% abv
Nose: Lemon peel, honey, slighty soapy, very pleasant. Score 8.4
Taste: Honey again, fruit. A very nice drop, indeed.
Overall score: 9.1
Glengoyne Cask Strength 59.1% abv, non-coloured, non-chill filtered
Nose: strong!, smell of an old rubber ball
Taste: Sweet, honey and wax
Overall score: 7.9
Edradour Straight From The Cask 58.8% abv, Sherry butt
Nose: Hessian sacking, very sherry.
Taste: Wood, leather, a bit of tannin at the end
Overall score: 9.2
One of the interesting side bars of a blind tasting is to see how many of the drams you can guess correctly. In the past money has changed hands on this aspect of the evening – not a lot of money: the ante is usually $2 per person – but it can be extremely satisfying to pick up the cost of tomorrow morning’s coffee from your fellow tasters.
So, how many of the seven did I get right? A rather embarrassing three.
In my rather thin defence, the gamblers all had the same score so there was no winner on the day this time.