Earlier this month Best of Wines hosted a Blind Tasting Competition. With Nils, the resident whisky geek, being a former member of the Usquebaugh Society, and said Society stopping their version of the competition, Nils took over and hosted this last year and now once again.
He was kind enough to send me a sample pack, and with the competition being some ways behind us, I thought it was time to give it some more exposure, and go through the drams had.
Of course, I suck at this, so don’t expect many good guesses, except for the last one. Also, for Nils, don’t expect my ratings to be consistent with what I entered in the competition. As with all my ratings if the review is placed some time after the whisky was tried, there’s the ‘how well do I remember this one’ factor that rounds the corner, so things might be adjusted with a few points here and there.
My friend JP also bought a set, and we went through these samples on a few nights. Our guesses didn’t always align 100%, and that resulted in a slightly different result. He had some points for age, while I had some for the region, and so on.
Bunnahabhain 6, 2014-2021, Dechar/Rechar Hogshead 10750, 59.9% – Ultimate
There’s smoke and quite some oak on the nose. Pretty barley driven and a whiff of coastal salinity. Some sea weed, maybe. Very island-like, with quite some earthy peat. A light whiff of sherry with a hint of dark chocolate and some dried fruit.
The palate is initially rather light, but quickly brings a peppery tingle. A weight kind of sherry in the background, with earthiness, dried fruit and some chocolate. Mocha, even. Quite some oak, earthy peat, bonfire smoke and a bit of sea weed.
A very long finish, with more sea weed and pepper. There’s barley again, but the earhty flavors, the dried fruits and the whiff of chocolate linger too.
I picked up on the peatiness, but not on the ridiculous ABV. As in, I figured it was a cask strength whisky, but not that it was close to 60%. Also, I went with the wrong Islay distillery. What I found interesting is how much impact the dechar/rechar had, with this having many more layers of flavor that I’d normally attribute to a six year old whisky. Very good indeed!
My guess was an Ardbeg, of a higher age. Some points for the region, at least!
Macduff 12, 2008-2020, Sherry Butt, 55.1% – Electric Coo Series
Sherry and American oak, with hints of pastry cream and dates. Orange peel and some fatty citrus scent. Vanilla in the background. Barley and a little bit of minerals. Some apples and slate, perhaps. Black tea with milk in the background.
The palate is a bit more dry than I expected and that note of black tea comes more to the front. Together with some chili peppery heat. Oak, more dried fruits with plums and dates. Chocolate orange wedges, orange jelly and some vanilla.
The finish isn’t overly long with fruity sherry, quite some sweetness with orange chocolate wedges. The jammy sweetness lingers longest, and the fierceness of the palate is gone very quickly.
This one, while not bad at all, didn’t do too much for me. It did taste like a fairly generic sherry matured whisky, and knowing what it is now, I don’t think that’s wrong.
With this one I went with Arran, since this more or less aligned with how I perceive their sherry casks.
GlenAllachie 10, 2010-2020, Chinquapin Barrel 4557, 62.4% – OB
A lot of focus on the barley in a very old-fashioned style. I guess there’s quite some age to this, hessian. Some brioche buns, so a slightly sweet bready thing. With a bit of time there’s some beery scent too. Freeze dried strawberries.
The palate carries on down the old style hessian, straw and barley. There’s quite some alcohol burn in the form of lots of white pepper and sharp oak. It doesn’t really mellow with time, but there’s a hint of some sweet fruits behind the heat. Banana, strawberry, brioche.
The finish still has that funky flavor of hessian, and leaves the barley and straw for a more ‘baked goods’ style. Sand biscuits, banana, white pepper, oak, pie dough.
The Chinquapin (no, not the chestnut, the small type of oak named after the chestnut) really worked a wonder here. It took this GlenAllachie and made it taste much more funky, and much more complex than I would have expected. I did a full review here.
Strangely, my notes don’t really line up at all. Not sure what is happening here…
I went with Benromach due to the funky and old fashioned notes. At least I had the region correct!
Tune in tomorrow for another batch, and the day after, and the day after.