I have decided to stop giving numeric scoring to whiskies.
My change in approach has come from comments that passed my way recently: the first is that the most important thing is “do you like it?”. This was followed by a remark from a whisky writer defied anyone to tell the difference between a whisky with a rating of 8.2 and one rated at 8.4.
So I’m going to grade:
A – love it/want it
B – would drink it, but not spend money to get it
C – you fill in the gap!
Here are a few recent tastings. The first two – fantastic GlenAllachies – were In the Wee Dram corner of Dramfest 2020. My ticket to the tasting was provided free of charge by Kurt, for whose generosity I am deeply indebted! The others are from help Pat come out of lockdown!
Glenallachie Madiera Finish
Cask no 3756, Refill Bourbon
Age: 16yo, distilled 2005, bottled 2015,
Colour 1.1 (deep tan)
Non-chill filtered, non-coloured
Nose: Fruity and sweet. Softly medicinal, like going out on a date with a nurse (I thought about adding an explanation here about a girlfriend – a nurse – in my late teens. In trying to write the explanation, though, it really only made things worse!)
Palette: Oily, strawberry, with alcohol heat and Madiera sweetness. No clear bourbon notes, though.
Finish: Long and rather drying, nutty at the end.
Comment: At 16 years of age, the whisky heads back to a distilled date in the period when the distillery was owned by Chivas Bros: a good 14 years before current owners Billy Walker, Trish Savage and Graham Stevenson bought the place.
Since that purchase in 2017, I have experienced some varied output from GlenAllachie. One was delightful but a couple were less than memorable.
However, both this Madeira finish and the Sauternes finish below are stunners! Both well in grade A.
Glenallachie Sauternes Finish
Cask No 3727, first fill Bourbon
ABV 58%. Age 11yo, distilled 2009,
Colour 0.7/.0.8 (darker golden),
Nose: Soft and sweet
Palette: Light and pure, not as heated as the Madeira Finish. Honey, tannic and waxy.
Comment: Shorter finish that the madeira, but still long.
From Pat’s lockdowns:
100% malt whisky, blended from “small batches of different Speyside malts” – reputedly Glenfiddich and Balvenie [William Grant & Sons].
The Monkey Shoulder website loudly & luridly claims the whisky is “Made for Mixing”. The site provides recipes for a “Lazy Old Fashioned” (Angostura Bitters, sugar syrup and orange zest), a “Ginger Monkey” (dry ginger ale and an orange wedge) and a “Monkey Splash” (replace the dry ginger ale and orange wedge with soda and an orange wedge).
Nose: Fresh apricots and Airfix plastic model-aeroplane glue.
Palette: Tongue-numbing, smooth, apple. Peaches and nectarines in custard, held together with the plastic glue.
Finish: A slight smoke residue.
Comment: At well under NZ$100, I’d have that. Graded a low A.
The website loudly & luridly claims the whisky is “Made for Mixing”.
Teeling Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
ABV 46%, no age statement, bottled Sept 2019
Nose: Coffee and golden syrup
Palette: Peppery (but it’s very short). Drying my mouth, and sour.
Comment: Single pot still – in Scottish terms, technically a grain whisky and not a single malt.
According to the Teeling website, this is “The first whiskey to be distilled in Dublin in nearly 50 years”. It is 50% malted and 50% unmalted barley, triple distilled, matured in a combination of American Virgin Oak, Bourbon, and Sherry casks.
The website description is very chatty about the nose (hibiscus flowers, grapefruit & citrus), palette (a hint of lychee, white grape notes, white pepper, roasted peaches and baked biscuits) and finish (dry, hints of spice, roasted almonds and maple syrup).
I’m not sure that I got all those, but I did like it and would definitely own one.
Glenfarclas Legend of Speyside SPRINGS Speyside single malt whisky
ABV 46%, No Age Statement,
One of the Legends of Speyside trilogy released for the German market. Aged in ex oloroso casks, with the darker colour suggesting that these were pretty good casks.
Nose: Grain (brown bread), sweet and rich.
Palette: Young, with that slightly sour oloroso sherry taste and a bit fizzy on the tongue. Not mouth-filling.
Finish: It doesn’t stay around. In wine-drinking terms, this is a quaffer.
Comment: Length is disappointingly short.
The bottle label is totally in German. My extremely rudimentary grasp of the language is pretty much limited to “Eine Bier, Bitte” – not a helpful phrase in the circumstances! However, although it’s not a great comment on the quality of the contents, the tube the whisky comes in is very pretty, arty and attractive.
Casks: Bourbon, then PX finish.
ABV 46%, age 17 yo,
Nose: Strong. Over-ripe bananas, wood and a wet nappy.
Palette: Smooth, pepper, caramel, and a musty flavour reminiscent of an old coat cupboard.
Finish: Tannic (from the bourbon cask?)
Comment: The label says “PX Sherrywood finish”. Bourbon-matured American oak, then in PX.
Mark A-. At NZ$150, this is too expensive for what it is.