A Surprise tasting at De Whiskykoning (1/2)

Last Friday I went all the way to De Whiskykoning in Den Bosch for a whisky event. The so called ‘surprise tasting’. Not that the tasting itself was a surprise, but nobody knew what we were going to taste. Of course, it would be whisky, but apart from that…

This kind of gimmick can be quite dangerous when the host of the evening is Rob Stevens, aka De Whiskykoning, since he is known for mind fucks: Putting a bottle of Ardbeg Kildalton on the table during a bottoms up and putting genever in there or the other way around when there is Port Ellen in a Red Label bottle.

The setup

The setup

Anyway, the weekend before he sent out a reminder as a Sinterklaas poem and on the morning before that tasting there was a picture of a ridiculous amount of glasses in front of every seat. There was to be a mission and it would be severe. He knows sometimes I come by car but advised me not to do so this time.

As it turned out, the tasting would be the pre selection of his Christmas tasting. At Christmas he hosts a tasting for some invited guests with his personal favourite drams of the year and this year there were a lot. We had to narrow it down from 12 to 6. All whiskies were tasted blind and put in order from high to low score at the end.

Here are the first six whiskies:

Cadenhead's The Hielanman. Still in proof and fluid ounces

Cadenhead’s The Hielanman. Still in proof and fluid ounces

Auchentoshan Solera
Tasting notes here.

Still stunning. The gentleness and deep, rich sherry notes are delicious.

Campbeltown Loch 21
Sweet with quite some oak but a ‘watery’ scent. Barley, leaves and vanilla. On the palate it was tingling but gentle. Some white pepper, slightly sweet and sugary. The finish is slightly bitter and less sweet.

A rather nice dram! It turned to more and more vanilla as you let it breathe which made it a bit ‘middle of the road’ but still, rather nice.

Cadenhead’s Hielanman (bottled in the ’60s, most likely)
This was the odd one out. The only whisky not bottled this year so technically, this was already out of the end result. This also was the only blended whisky.



It had a Brora like scent of warmth, hay, farmyard and stables. Some sweetness, with hay, an earthy undertone and raisins. On the palate it was warm again, with apples, pear and pound cake. The finish long and delicious, in a very old fashioned way.

This was a really tasty dram with an exceptionally stunning nose. According to Rob: “I bought this in an auction some years ago and never got around to it”. Thanks for getting around to it now!

Highland Park Loki
Tasting notes here.

Tasty but, apparently, when tasted blind less popular than when not done so. Strange. Still liked it though.

Springbank Gaja Barolo. Meh

Springbank Gaja Barolo. Meh

The standard Longrow replacing the CV as I understood. Burnt wood with charcoal and flint, some barley too. Then, on the palate, gentle oak, ash and charcoal. Some liquorice and honey too. The finish it was gentle and smoky.

Nice but nothing to remember. The cheapest bottle of the evening but not the one that scored lowest, albeit only just.

Springbank Gaja Barolo
Very sweet with some oak, vanilla and straw on the nose. Tingling, salty in the mouth, but rather thin and sharp with hints of barley. The finish was lightly spicy with salt. 

I was rather curious to this one, hoping it would be similar to the Longrow Gaja Barolo from some years ago. Unfortunately, I found this a rather uninteresting whisky.

Tommorrow the rest will follow.

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
This entry was posted in - Blended Whisky, Auchentoshan, Highland Park, Longrow, Springbank. Bookmark the permalink.

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