I said I'd go "water free" as usual and got a bit of ribbing later when I did add some H2O but this evening it proved valuable, revealing some new notes without ruining anything.
The first one we sampled was a 1979 25yo Carsebridge single grain, 60.3%. The nose was of a grain whisky, obviously with some spirity notes even after 25 years (they went away with water, however). I thought there were even some Canadian rye whisky notes in it though Frodo disagreed strongly. It was quite sweet with cereal notes and a finish which seemed dry at full strength. With water it became sweeter overall, especially the finish. It was nice but we expected more and I preferred the Strathclyde 30yo grain we tried at the show better (IIRC, Wendy did too).
Next came the 1967 35yo blend @ 46%, one which produced much antipation and expectation. The nose was wonderful but there were some strong bitter, woody notes in the finish which were off putting. Wendy and I agreed that the wonderful nose didn't really properly announce or fit the body of the dram. We all wanted to like this one but were left dissatisfied.
Then, a 1968 37yo Glenrothes at 57.2%. This one was lovely with sweet spicy notes, I thought of as pie spices something like cloves, all-spice and cinnamon while Frodo found cucumber-dill which Wendy didn't notice and vanilla which Wendy echoed. Glenrothes always reminds me of Christmas for some reason, perhaps Christmas cakes or puddings even though I'm not sure I find those actual notes within.
The highlight of the DTC samples for me was the next one which didn't have any of us excited at all, until we tried it. It was a 1981 [Edit] 22yo 61.9% Glenugie, quite obviously from a sherry cask. The nose was sweet, obviously sherried with candied fruit notes and a bit of wood. The body was spicy, sherried and sweet with just a hint of bitterness from such a long time in the sherry butt. The finish was long and warming. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts for this one with the package working beautifully. It reminded me a bit of the candied Redbreast 12yo though Frodo said he couldn't see it like that.
Finally, a 1982 22yo Bowmore 62.2%. The nose was very nice with some peat and other nice Islay notes, typical old Bowmore that I loved! Frodo let out some OMGs for the nose. I didn't notice any floral tones in the nose yet. The body was nice until the finish when a strong floral, herbal and minty note came through and ruined it for Wendy and I but Frodo continued the OMGs. For me this was time to perhaps eat my hat as this was the poor Bowmore characteristics in an independent bottling so perhaps those floral notes I dislike really are just part of the Bowmore Character. Away from the distillery for more than twenty years, this one would have been made at the same time that I thought I liked many Bowmores. Oh well. I shall have to take my hat to the Bowmore thread to finish it off. Frodo thought it was very different and on that, at least, we agreed.
With the DTC samples finished, we moved onto drams generously provided by Wendy and Frodo. First, the John Glaser sample of the vatting created at the Spirit of Toronto show and consisting of Ardmore, Teannich and Linkwood at 46%. It was great! I'd love to see this one join the Compass Box Whisky stable. The recent thread about smoke without peat was obvious here with what I believed to be the Ardmore contribution, a huge whiff of smoke at the back end of the palate into the finish. The nose was sweet, floral. Like the Glenugie above, the sum was greater than the parts in this vatting.
Next, Frodo's '91 13yo Glenfiddich. As everyone knows I'm not a big fan of Glenfiddich but this one was nice and drinkable, certainly much better than the standard 12yo.
Onto Frodo's Glenmorangie Artisan's Cask. The nose at first didn't seem like scotch whisky to me as there were no cereal tones, just a sweetness. The body was nice and smooth and sweet with a nice finish as well, just a hint of harshness there to say that it is kind of young, NAS but Frodo said it was rumoured to be a 9yo. A very interesting 'morangie.
Last but not least, Wendy poured some Aberlour A'bunadh batch 14. It was a nice sherry monster that I enjoyed but some palate fatigue means I'll have to return to it for a better analysis. I preferred the Glenugie sherry we'd had earlier but the A'bunadh, at about a quarter of the price, is a wonderful drink for its price.
I didn't take notes so hopefully I remembered it well enough. Wendy and Frodo took some notes so they might fill in some blanks for me
After a couple of cups of tea I was on my way home after a run night of tasting. We'll have to do it again sometime, sooner rather than later I hope.
Your tasting notes were pretty accurate. I was grasping for descriptive terms for the Glenrothes. It wasn't straight-up dill that I smelled but something that I strained to catch. I dunno. The Bowmore was heavan. HEAVAN! Minty-floral with soap and smoke in the background. Not much subtle going op here. The blend and the Carsbridge were dissapointments - especially when taking cost into consideration!
Tried Abelour CS. Not for me. One dimentional candied liquer. Boring & sweet. I think my taste diverges from most on this forum . Also tried some of Wendys Scapa 14. Nice, and worth $54 IMO. Really light with alot of maritime flavours.
The 'morangie was a departure from their regular stuff. Nice and FRUITY - lacking cereal notes as Harry stated. Interesting comaring notes in company - haven't done that much before. For me, that was half the fun - and to see the reactions of others when I tried the Bowmore...
I too really enjoyed the comparison of notes right on the spot. That's what I got in return for the samples and you too opened bottles for me as well so appreciation is deserved all around!
Sounds like a wonderful tasting, Harry. I'm envious!
Well, the tasting at my house was a plan that was sewn together at the Spirit of Toronto festival when Harry kindly offered to share his 5 DTC samples. As the weeks passed, I wrote Harry saying that I would fully understand if he started to dive into those samples, after all, he had waited a long time to receive his package of goodies and here we were fast approaching a month to the day without him yet opening the box. The shared samples were a generous gift from Harry with unfortunately only so much to go around. In good faith, the proverbial party is not over and I am especially looking forward to a rendezvous with everyone in the New Year at Feather’s, a whisky pub that I rarely visit.
After watching Harry park his mini into a parking spot the size of a postage stamp and Frodo shortly thereafter arriving bleary-eyed from just finishing his night shift, the tasting session began. Harry wisely picked the order of our DTC tasting (his notes will offer more specific details):
- 1979 25 year old Carsebridge Grain Whisky, 60.3; nose: sweet smell; taste: cereal, biscuity, spirity, dry hot finish. A splash of water tamed the heat but the dry finish was consistent. I find Grain Whiskies intriguing and was glad to add this taste profile to my repetoire.
- DTC 35 yo Blend, year 1967, 46%; the nose and taste expressions were as distinct as two individuals living in one bottle. Frodo was accurate to describe the nose as ‘gorgeous’ – sweet floral. The palate was hot, peaty. I think this whisky would be a very interesting addition to any blind tasting event.
- Glenrothes, 1968, 57.2%; I am blaming Harry for this…grain, blend…single malt! The texture of the Glenrothes was as smooth as silk pyjamas. My predominant tasting note was vanilla.
- Glenugie 23 yo, 61.9%, Sherry Cask, Speyside: Glenugie was completely new to me. So, my expectations were next to nothing. Sherry-sweet, yes…well mannered, not quite. The Glenugie was a genuine highlight. I would imagine the spicy notes would become more discernable in time.
- Bowmore (DTC) 1982, 62.2%; taste – musty, minty, floral, dry finish. Frodo loved the Bowmore like Harry and I loved the Glenugie. The musty/mint note had its’ particular attraction and I have found myself thinking about it a lot. I wish I could try it with a fresh palate.
We sampled the John Glaser Vatted Malt that was made at the Spirit of Toronto Masterclass. It was delicious. Even Frodo (Mr. Frodo-factor himself) said that, if this Vat ever made it to the LCBO shelves, he would pay C$90 for a bottle. The lead taste was grounded in smoke, but dissipated into a fruity, oak finish. Like the Glenugie, I wished there was more of this to go around.
Frodo surprised us by bringing a couple of bottlings to share. See Harry’s notes for more details. With regards to the 1991 13 yo Glenfiddich Don Ramsay bottling, I wrote in my journal, “pear, cinnamon and oak.” I would be happy to add this to my cupboard.
It was a wonderful experience to sample these whiskies, as it was to swap notes with my good hearted guests. I look forward to the next round.
So, the Bowmore left you intrigued now Wendy!? It was interesting, that's for sure. I may get some more Duncan Taylor Bowmore samples in the future and if I do, I would love to get other impressions again. My malt journey with Bowmore has been a strange one over the years from favorite distillery to one I no longer enjoy. Perhaps I can be steered back toward it.
Thanks again for hosting it, Wendy!
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