The second half of the surprise tasting write-up at De Whiskykoning in Den Bosch.
Tasting twelve whiskies in a row in just over two hours is taxing. The glasses were properly covered with glass lids so I started by nosing them all and already making a preselection based on the scent. Especially in Scotch whisky, the most defining factor for me is the nose. The rest can not be negated, and a lot can be corrected on the palate and finish, but the nose is the thing that impresses me most, most of the time.
The drawback is that the sherry casks generally are easier to nose right off the bat, and most bourbon casks take a bit more discovery to get to the real goodness. Of course, this is my opinion. Anyway, some stood out, some didn’t.
Arran Cask Strength Batch 2
The scent is kind of held back but I get cream crackers and light sherry and after a while tea. The palate is sweet and rich, quite surprising with sherry and dried fruits. Christmas cake. The finish is sweet again, a bit chemically so with winegums, fruit and PX like influences.
A very affordable and very tasty dram. I had this sixth in my line-up, but with a list like this that is a very good score, for a € 45 dram.
Bunnahabhain Sgeul na Mara
This is sickly sweet, very overly so. Overripe fruit and some oak on the nose.palate is surprisingly dry and sweet. It also has some spice. After that it’s tingling and sweet, rather long.
The Feis Ile bottling from Bunnahabhain. They have a bit of a hit and miss (see the cognac cask) history with this, and this year’s bottling is another miss in my book.
Lots of fruit and some fruity influence. I want to write sherry but it’s a bit undefined. Nice though, with allspice. The taste is gentle and rich. Rather light with mountains of orchard fruits. Tropical, mango. The finish has some flint and the fruit is present here as well.
The best whisky of the year, according to someone who kind of calls himself a prophet 😉 While I don’t know about that, no one I’ve met denies that this is a damn fine dram too. After the tasting, all bottles were gone from the shop.
Glengoyne Cask Strength Batch 1
Too much sherry on the nose, some oak but rather thin. The palate is dry and sharp with a lot of sherry again, very sweet. The finish continues. Dry, sharp and slightly bitter.
This was my least favourite of the bunch. Way too much sherry and overly sweet because of it. A rather typical pit fall for Glengoyne (see here and here).
Port Askaig 19 Cask Strength
Tasting notes here.
A rather nice Caol Ila, as it turned out.
Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 8
Lots of sherry, but in a toned down, mature way. Allspice with a lot of ginger, oak, cedar and mint. The palate is light and gentle, baking spices again. Some chili and white pepper mixed. The finish has a LOT of spices, all the good kind, very rich.
This was immediatly my favourite. I had no clue batch 8 was even out yet, and less of a clue that Rob Stevens would even have it. My God this is a terrific dram!
So, how did I rate everything, from lowest to highest:
- Glengoyne Cask Strength Batch 1
- Bunnahabhain, Sgeul Na Mara, Feis Ile 2013
- Springbank Gaja Barolo
- Highland Park Loki
- Arran Cask Strength Batch 2
- Port Askaig 19 Cask Strength
- Campbeltown Loch 21
- Auchentoshan Solera
- Glenmorangie Ealanta
- Cadenhead’s The Hielanman
- Balvenie Tun 1401 Batch 8
All in all, a terrific tasting and I loved being a part of it. I am about to sell a kidney for that Balvenie though.
oh yea. tun 1401. mate… oh yea. got to love that old Balvenie feeling inside.
i need more of those.
I enjoyed this one more than any of the other ones, to be honest. Not sure why but so far I hadn’t been swept away by batches two to five or so.