Last year I thought it was a good idea to organize a whisky tasting at Whiskyslijterij De Koning in Den Bosch. We already held an annual ‘winter whisky tasting’ there in November, with a line-up of six peated whiskies, focusing on Islay.
This ‘Bad-ass Whisky Night’ had a more random raison d’être. We just wanted an evening on which Rob Stevens would spoil us with some awesome drams. We gave him free reign on the line-up and just set a price limit.
It resulted in a truly bad-ass whisky night. Reason enough to do that a second time (and a third one is already planned for 2018). The line-up was kept secret until the tasting started, but there were some hints on oldest and youngest, years
of distillation and bottling. Nothing to go by though.
The whiskies then!
Redbreast 21yo, 46%
The first one from Ireland, and a great way to kick off the evening. A tremendously flavorful whiskey with sweetness and crispness, more punch than you’d initially expect and without an overload of the chemical winegum sweetness a lot of older Irish whiskeys have. Slightly bitter and more oaky towards the finish.
Carsebridge 1982-2017, 48.8%, Signatory Vintage
An older grain whisky, which happened to be a first for many attendees for the distillery. Luckily the ABV isn’t too high, which gives the whisky a bit more room for flavor. Lots of dusty old grains with a touch of crispness on the palate. Even for someone who is generally not a fan of grain whiskies, a pretty good dram!
Speymalt 1988-2016, 43%, Gordon & MacPhail (Macallan)
An older sherried Macallan of which you don’t see many anymore. Sweet caramel and some shoe polish. Minor hints of citrus. Richer than I expected from a 43% Macallan with some hints of latté and coffee.
Glenglassaugh 1986-2015, 46%,Gordon & MacPhail’s Rare Old
Now this one. This whisky. Oh my friggin’ god. This does everything right and with a dram that showcases why older bourbon casks are prize casks, or should be. Old style whisky with quiet wood notes, spices and pastry dough. A shame it’s so expensive, because this is 92/93 point stuff.
Amrut Rye, 50%
Maybe the biggest surprise of the evening, and the one that drew the most raised eyebrows when it was revealed. It does the traditional rye trick with a rather sharp spiciness and some spirity youth it shows, and carries, well. Very well balanced, even so much so that my father in law started to doubt whether he liked this more than Sazerac 18.
Caol Ila 1982-1995, 62.9%, SMWS (53.9)
And, like last year, a younger Caol Ila from around 1980 that was pulled from the shelf for the tasting (and will be used in upcoming tastings in the shop). A belter from the SMWS at 62.9% alcohol. Not unlike the SMWS in current times, there’s some weird description on the label. This one went for briny apricots or sometihng. They were not wrong.
It’s a tremendous whisky with a heavy and old smoke. Quite like you expect from Caol Ila it’s a bit of a machine smoke instead of just clean peat or wood. Diesel, oak, salt and dried apricots. Kaboom!
If, next year, the level of the tasting is going to be anything like it was this time and last time, we’re going to be happy campers, since this is a tasting that is unlikely to be topped before March 2018.
My favorite was the Glenglassaugh, but you know you’re at a next level tasting when the most uninteresting whisky is a twenty-eight year old Macallan from a sherry cask…
Thanks a million, Rob!