Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Stirk Crazy After All This Time

Some whisky evenings have a heavy weight of anticipation upon them, and almost invite disappointment, others explode into action from the first sip of a superb single malt whisky. The eagerly-awaited night with David Stirk exceeded all expectations.
Eight magnificent drams from David’s Exclusive Range were tasted in the Private Dining Room at Sloan’s new whisky bar in the heart of the city. David’s frankness and honesty about all aspects of the whisky business were refreshing and he told us the two golden rules about whisky:’ Do you like it?’ And ‘Will you buy it?’ There were plenty of yesses to the first question and quite a few affirmatives to the second, when David produced supplies of his stock for sale afterwards.
The tasting took place as Sloan’s launched themselves as a whisky bar, and it’s fair to say there are a few edges to iron out, although their hearts are in the right place.

After a quick talk by your humble chairman to invited guests of the bar – about nosing and tasting, using Black Bottle as the illustrator, it was down to business in the PDR. First up was an Aberfeldy 10, part of David’s attempt to break into the UK market. NCF and non coloured, it was distilled on June 7 1997, one of 419 bottles at a strength of 45% - David’s preferred ABV. Retailing at £27.99, it came from an American oak hogshead and was fresh with a lemony citrus note. Quite delicious.
There followed, in quick succession, a magnificent seven further whiskies, plus a handful of what David liked to call ‘jokes’.
A spicey and peppery Glen Ord was next, again from 1997. David praised Diageo (don’t hear that too often these days) for withdrawing Glen Ord from the UK market, giving him a chance to buy the stock. The maltiest of the drams, it spent three months finishing in a virgin European oak cask.
A Craigellachie 12 was next. It was winey and woody to me, but the Cragganmore 10 that followed it was quite magnificent IMHO. It spent six weeks finishing in a Gaja Barolo wine cask, which gave it a sweet toffee and vanilla taste. It was so good, I bought a bottle (along with the Aberfeldy which drew one of THOSE looks from Mrs Toshie). A rum-finished Glen Scotia was my least favourite of the evening, then came a 32 YO Glencadam, again finished for a short while in the Gaja Barolo cask. I would like to have tried it unfinished, but David assured me the wine was an improvement.
The penultimate dram was a big beefy Bowmore 14 and then the surpise dram of the evening which we all had a go at guessing. The answer was a Laphroaig 1996 in a Port wood finish.
It took us a long time to get David for a tasting – thanks to Alan Hall for finally transporting him to us – and hopefully we’ll be seeing him again in the new year.