Pre script: In the November 2018 edition of Whisky magazine, editor Rob Allanson noted that the question he is most often asked and never knows how to answer is “What is your favourite whisky?”
My favourite is maybe one of the last five I tasted. Or it may be one of the next five I’m going to taste.
But we keep on looking, because the fun is in the looking!
Here are four totally random tastings from January 2019
The first is a sauterne cask finished Arran from the Highlands. The second and third are Speyside drams: a 25 year old from Tomintoul and the Longmorn 16 year old. Fourth is the travel retail Highland Park Einar from their Warrior series.
There is connections between them. But not much.
They are all single malt Scotch whiskies.
They all came in bottles (although one was a miniature).
And they are all rather nice.
Apart from those coincidences, see for yourselves.
The Arran Malt Sauterne Cask Finish, Non-coloured, non-chill filtered, 50% abv Colour 0.7
The label advises that the whisky has been matured in traditional oak casks then ‘finished” in a sauterne cask.
In the Bad Old Days of New Zealand wine, sauterne was one of the wines of choice. It usually lurked in the lower shelves of the refrigerator in a cardboard box with a plastic liner.
Maturing whisky in sauterne barrels is a much better idea!
Nose: earthy and light.
Palette: Dry and tannic, with the effervescence and “fizz” that traditionally comes from a sauterne finish.
Finish: Long on the heat, slightly oily tongue, but quite a pleasant dram. Comment: very much as I would have expected from a sauterne-matured whisky. It is dry, light (almost watery, but not) and slightly effervescent. The 50% abv holds it together for a long time after the swallow. A nice drop, indeed.
Overall score: 8.2
Tomintoul 25 year old
This is described on the label as “Speyside Glenlivet”. 40% abv, colour 1.2.
Nose: Peaches and stone fruit, with furniture polish and vanilla.
Palette: vanilla (from an unspecified bourbon cask?), wood chips and new boxwood, thick and creamy, mouth-lining.
Comment: This whisky arrived on the table as an unexpected miniature bottle: it had to be tasted, because when else were you going to get to try a 25 yo Tomintoul? It was worth it!
The deep colour is indicative of the age, as is the smoothness of the dram. The shorter finish means that the flavour doesn’t last as long I would like.
Overall score: 9.0
Longmorn, 16 year old. 48% abv, colour 1.3
Nose: an old leather lounge suite, sweet and fruit cake with a hint of citrus. Palette: sherry and sweet , with the note of an oloroso cask. Hot on the tongue, sea shore and rock pools, leather polish with an earthy end taste. Finish: mouth-lining oily on the lips and tongue. Medium length. Comment: I have yet to meet a Longmorn whisky I didn’t enjoy. I like this one, too!
Overall score: 8.7
Highland Park “Einar” (Travel Retail Only). 40% abv, colour 1.1
Nose: Rock pools and seaweed on the beach after rain. A taste note like the slight kerosene taste in a good riesling.
Palette: sweet, hot at the front of tongue, seaweed continues to the taste. Oily on the mouth, salt on the lips.
Comment: A nice colour, a slight peatiness. If they had kept the abv up another 3 to 5 percentage points it might be more impressive. But overall, it’s good.
Overall score: 8.0