Thursday, April 30, 2009

And the natives were friendly

To Edinburgh and the lair of the beast – the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Queen Street – for a tasting for bloggers. This is the home of the whisky snobs, the elitist, too-posh-to-pish people who won’t even tell you what whisky you’re drinking.
Except that they’re not like that at all. They’re as passionate and committed to good drams as we are, they’re very friendly and generous and their tasting notes have a nice, informal, dry touch of humour.
Our host was Olaf, the German-born ambassador who came to whisky 25 years ago – the same year the SMWE began. He remembers that dram, a 21 year old Springbank, and has retained a fondness for that distillery ever since.
A handful of bloggers were there, including Lucas and Chris from the Edinburgh Whisky Blog, one we should certainly be taking a look at.
A handful of drams were there, resplendent in their distillery/cask numbering system, although Olaf made it easy for us by spilling the bean and supplying tasting notes.
First up was a 19-year-old Rosebank, triple distilled at 59.7% in which the asemblees found roses and meadows, banana, varnished pine. With water, it became gingery spicy, with a dusty, cutgrass nose and a long flavour.
Number two was a Benrinnes from what was said to be a first fill sherry butt. 15 years old and sitting at 57.9% it was a chocolate goo pudding, which segued into a chesterfield sofa. The dark and mysterious Hazelburn was next, a comparative youngster at 11 years old, but with such oomph it could have been much older. Described as having the colour of flat Coke, it was creosote in a glass and had a nose reminiscent of a garden shed on a sunny afternoon. Cask strength of 56.7% but it needed very little water and in fact one our band preferred it uncut.
A honey-sweet Springbank 12 was the penultimate dram and it had all the characteristics you’d expect from Campbeltown – liquorice, seaweed, oil and smoke. The star of the night for me was the lightly-peaqted Ardbeg, the youngest at a mere seven years old. What a show stopper. On the nose nothing like an Ardbeg, in the mouth, unmistakeably so. We got smokey bacon, gun oil, chimney soot. A brilliant dram and only £47 from the SMWS.
It was such a good evening I was almost tempted to join!