Friday, October 08, 2010

A David Stirk Tasting Is No Laughing Matter

One of the hits of last year, David Stirk returned to Glasgow’s Whisky Club with another Magnificent Seven whiskies. We like David; he’s from Southern Scotland (Yorkshire) and brings a real honesty to tasting nights. He also brings some of the worst jokes ever heard, with the groan factor rising as the end of the evening approaches.
Most of all, though, he brings some great drams, and Tuesday’s tasting at the Metropolitan was no exception.
First up was a Glentauchers 11, bottled at 45% and one of 381 bottles from the cask. Glentauchers is relatively unknown malt, since most of it goes into Ballantine’s. From a second fill American hogshead, it displayed that classic vanilla and oak, with a chalky dryness.
Another 11 year old, this time from Glen Ord, was our second sup. One of 295 bottles, this was finished in a European oak for nine months. The Euroak (sorry) acts much more quickly on the whisky, and therefore needs to be treated carefully.

David demonstrated the proper way to store and pour whiskies with the next dram - plastic containers and water jugs! The Glen Keith cask strength (54.1%) looked just like chip shop vinegar, but thankfully tasted of very fine whisky.
A 1980 Tamdhu was next, again cask strength at 52.8% from a refill ex-Bourbon hogshead, and each dram just seemed to be better than the one before (That often happens at tastings, though)>
Into David’s Exclusive range and a beguiling Linkwood 1991 18yo. Bottled at 50.8% and again finished in Euro oak, I got polish, leather armchairs, Airfix glue – all good in my view!
The nose is rich, crammed full of mixed fruits, sweet oak and vanilla and a hint of aniseed. The palate is also sweet and oaky with lots of different fruit flavours from orange-liqueur to tropical fruit. The finish is short but fruity with a long oaky aftertaste.
A pleasant interlude was the interruption of proceedings by John Darling, who arrived with a tray of sandwiches left over from a do he was at. John’s fast becoming the Food Meister of the Club; at the last Round the Barrel we had Arran whisky cake, baked by Vicky, his wife. The sandwiches worked well with one of the best drams of the evening for me, a peaty, smoky Ardmore 10, sitting at 54.6% and recasked in an ex-Clynelish cask for six weeks. Amazing.
The final dram was even better. A dram bottled in 1966, when it felt the end of the world was near, this Tomintoul from a first fill sherry cask was simply immense. We were only the second club to have tasted this masterpiece, so some gentle crowing about 1966 was a fair price to pay. The cask spent its entire life at Tomintoul and at around £175 a bottle, it found a number of fans in club members.
Treasurer Ian Black was again keen to flash the cash and his bargaining powers mean there will be a pleasant reprise of Mr Stirk’s whiskies at a future Round the Barrel evening.