September’s tasting was a hastily-cobbled-together affair – and as often happens, it turned into a cracking night. A dozen hardy souls braved the lashing rain and made their way to Oddbins in Crow Road Retail Park, where mine host Andy laid on a spread of beer and drams.
But first, the intrepid Ralf, fresh from his battles at Whisky Live (did us proud Ralf – ils ne passeront pas) talked about the Compass Box experiment with wood staves to influence the taste and colour of whiskies. Using a standard Balblair 16, itself a very acceptable dram, Ralf dropped in a tiny oak stave for a week. The result was a darker colour and an entirely different taste. Flushed with his success, Ralf then unveiled a vatting he’d carried out with another Balblair that produced a not completely successful result. That’s what you get when you chuck Buckfast into a perfectly good malt!
The main business of the evening was the sampling of a handful of drams. A 20-year-old Bruichladdich from a bourbon cask was then finished for up to 20 weeks in a red wine barrel (mourvedre, if you really want to know), to produce what the distillery named Flirtation, a pink tinged whisky to appeal to women and – apparently – the gay community.
The Glenfarclas 21 followed, courtesy of Ian Black. A smooth, sherried whisky, it won universal acclaim apart from the top right hand corner of the room, where Islayphiles cast longing glances at the last two items. First, though, an Old Pulteney 12YO, smooth, sweet with the tang of the seas on the palate.
Finally a Bruichladdich Cask Strength followed by Ardbeg Very Young – the gift of former Ardbeg distillery manager Stuart Thomson, and this one barely got round the table before the aforementioned top right hand corner of the room took it into custody for further questioning.
In the discussions during the tasting, there was a feeling that a midweek night might not be the best for a club of working people. Your committee is anxious to take soundings about a possible alternative – Friday night was mentioned, although we can keep costs down at present by invading premises that are quieter at the beginning of the week. Please let us know your views.