Wednesday, June 30, 2010


For some time the committee has felt we needed to introduce an educational aspect to club nights - it's good fun getting round the barrel and having a few drams, but some people, especially the younger members of the club, may not feel too confident about the whiskies they're tasting and how to describe them. And thus was born the Andrew Bell Masterclass. June's RTB was devoted to Islay, and some of the more obscure expressions that fabled land has to offer. As you can see from the pic the bold Andra had some competition for his attention in the Spain v Portugal World Cup tie, but undeterred, he took us through five drams, of varying degrees of greatness. First up was a Bruichladdich 17 year old, aged in an Italian Red Wine Cask. Now, no-one will bow to Andrew in his admiration for all things 'laddich, but it's a fact that is a dram that can divide a whisky club. One clubber described it as "Fur coat and nae knickers," another said it was "a good example of a bad whisky." The second met with more universal approval. A cask strength Laphroaig Feis Ile, loading at 57% was next. Bottled for this year's Islay festival, it was smooth but intense (?) with a great nose.
A cask strength Lagavulin, available only at the distillery, was our next offering. It had no age statement but seemed young, although it had lovely toffee on the nose and trademark ash/smoke on the palate.
The oldest dram was a 25 year old Caol Ila bottled by Raymond at Bladnoch, and one that was offered to Forum members. It scored among the highest marks of the evening, souls loving, as one put it "the gentle, but intense aroma of coal peat, lemon coriander and mild, mild curry." Eat your heart out Mr Murray!
Last one of the night was donated by one of our newest members, Jan Beckers from Douglas Laing. His Laphroaig 8 year old was elegant and complex and shows that young Islays have the power to impress.
A more traditional Round the Barrel night then ensued, but feedback appeared to show the experiment was a good one and we'll certainly be looking at more.
Thanks to Andy for his hosting and Julie for her tasting notes. And thanks to everyone who poured.

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