Recently I spent time very actively in the World of Whisky. I was in Scotland, even up in the Orkney Islands. After returning I’d been home just for a while and took a little trip to Jastrzebia Gora for Whisky Festival in the Dom Whisky. Everywhere I had a great fun. Soon I will write more about these events, today impressions of tasting carried out in the St. Margaret’s Hope on South Ronalds Bay on the Orkney Islands.
Seven people attended our trip to Scotland, the task of each of them was to ensure a decent bottle of single malt, in order to carry out a joint tasting. While traveling we have added one more bottle with BenRiach Rioja. Every whisky was presented in natural form: natural color, unchillfiltered, some even single cask, cask strength.
I had some problems with the scoring system because I use the scale to 100, but this time the rules provided 10 points scale, the conversion wasn’t also as obvious as it sounds. Importantly, it was a blind tasting. Only Daniel from whiskymywife.pl knew what is in each glass, because he filled them in a separate room. Apart from Glen Scotia, which also remained a mystery, we knew of what single malts we are dealing with, but we didn’t know the order of their entry.
Below I present results of the tasting, starting with the highest scored single malt by the group, I also give my scores (LLW) (with an attempt to convert the scale to 100) with basic impressions during the tasting:
1. Glen Scotia 1991, 20 years old, cask strength 57,6% ABV, matured in Bourbon and Vosnee Romanee casks, bottled by Murray McDavid, 607 bottles. Group score: 6,4, LLW: 8 (ca. 92).
N: the high alcohol content is perceptible, except that it is not irritating, milk chocolate, lots of fruits, interestingly – a touch of cucumber, nectarine, strawberry, after adding water a lot of citrus, lemon, lime;
T: beautifully fills the mouth, very fruity, quite a few plums, strong tea, the addition of water enhances the sweetness, currant jam;
F: long dry, fruity with a slight bitterness and traces of jam.
I thought it was BenRiach Rioja, I missed.
2. GlenDronach 1994, 19 years old, cask strength 53,8% ABV, matured in Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon, OB, 644 bottles. Group score: 5,8, LLW: 6 (ok. 88).
N: here immediately a strong influence of sherry is noticeable, heavy, leather chairs and couches, plum compote, prune, cherry, sweet cherry, after addition of water traces of vegetable broth;
T: indisputably sherry, a big alcohol content and a lot of spices, full of fruits, but also a clear alcoholic burning, after adding water a little softer, still very sweet, almost liqueur;
F: long, fruity.
3. BenRiach Rioja. Group score: 5,4, LLW: 7 (ok. 90).
N: also some touches of a wide range sherry accents or other fortified wine, but also flowers, not irritating large power of alcohol, generally pleasant;
T: very fruity also with sparking on the tongue;
F: long, fruity, nicely dry with the remaining sparks on the tongue.
Whisky beautifully evolving with time, I was more focused on savoring than writing impressions.
4. Miltonduff 8 years old, cask strength 55,6% ABV, Octave Cask from Duncan Taylor. Group score: 4,8, LLW: 5 (ok. 86).
N: obviously sherry, chocolate, mint, caramel, plums, very beautiful, broth;
T: sweetly, but the power is big, a little water will not hurt, red fruits, plum in chocolate, slightly liqueurlike, bitterness increases;
F: long with bitterness, finish is not very diversed, after addition of water a hint of fruits.
At first a little bit like a Glendronach.
5. Ben Nevis 14 years old, cask strength 54,8% ABV, Octave Cask od Duncan Taylor. Group score: 4,6, LLW: 4 (ok. 84).
N: alcoholic, relatively young, it smells grainy, cereal, meat, sulfur, saltpetre, spice for fish, slightly salty, sea by the harbor, fishing boats in Wladyslawowo from a distance, seaweed, grows and changes with time, still spicy, leather, nutmeg, an old wardrobe inside, plywood, dust, wood, constantly changing, cherries;
T: quite sharp, there are some fruits with a touch of bitterness, the impact of sherry casks is perceptible, sweet;
F: long with bitterness.
After the smell, which is developing all the time and I loved it, I thought it was Port Askaig, but after tasting I given up this idea …
6. Bruichladdich Octomore, 5 years old, edition 06.1, cask strength 57% ABV, OB. Group score: 4,3, LLW: 6,5 (ok. 89).
N: beautiful, heavily, lots of peat, herrings, sea salt, brine, fishing nets, cadmium, citrus, wood impregnation;
T: beautiful, peat, smoked fish, ash, slightly sour with lemon;
F: long with ash.
A real peat monster, which is what I like.
7. Port Askaig 19 years old, cask strength 50,4% ABV, OB. Group score: 3,7, LLW: 3 (ok. 82)
N: wine vinegar, but also peat, citruses, lemon and lime;
T: strong, dry, ash;
F: long, still sparkles on the tongue.
Relatively flat, one-sided. I expected more after 19 year old of whisky and at the beginning I thought it was a young Octomore.
8. Mortlach, NAS, 48% ABV, bottled for Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival 2013. Group score: 3,3, LLW: 2 (ok. 80)
N: sharp, it’s probably alcohol, light notes of flowers, a touch of walnut, sherry cask certainly was here, after the addition of water in opens up a little, orange also comes in;
S: strong, spicy, it is necessary to add water, rather young whisky, quite wild, alcoholic, bitterness appears, a touch of light sweetness and walnut;
F: medium length, burning with bitterness.
I bet on Miltonduff or just Mortlach.
We tasted in the following order: 8, 4, 1, 3, 5, 2, 6, 7.
I heve very fond memories of this shared tasting with sharing our experiences. I like the concept of the blind tasting, even better it would be to don’t know what single malts will be on the table, but in spite of this knowledge there were still surprises.
A big surprise for me was Octomore, which I enjoyed. I tried it once in the distillery on Islay and then I found it very shallow. It is true that it was a different edition, and I didn’t devote it enough time. On the other hand, I was expecting a little more after the Port Askaig 19 years old. Surprise and a real discovery of the evening was the winning Glen Scotia from Murray McDavid.
To the the next blind tasting!