The last leg of the Blind Tasting Competition, or maybe the last tripod, since there’s another three reviews below.
In this batch there are two bottlings I had before, but only one of them I recognized. That made up for some points, but nowhere near enough to get me anywhere. Of course, scoring zero points on day 10 and eleven doesn’t exactly help either!
Highland Park 11, 2008-2020, European Oak Sherry Butt 2519, 66.4% – OB for The Netherlands
A hint of rubber band, but also some young and spirity edge to whatever this is. It’s quite timid on the nose, with hints of dried apricot, some sulfur, and some menthol. Some blue grapes, perhaps.
The palate arrives quite fiercely again, much like the 9th dram. Dry, with lots of oak, some bitter notes of fruit stones. Cherry, date or plum stone. Drying notes of chili pepper and some burnt brown sugar.
Again, those youthful notes, or not-so-well-integrated alcohol. The finish lasts rather long, but it’s mostly the dryness and the peppery burn that lingers.
Much like the Glen Scotia, this tasted like on those younger Highland/Speyside bottlings with too much wood influence and not enough maturity. Those two aren’t the same thing!
Generally I can be quite the Highland Park fanboy, but this one doesn’t sit well with me. The bottlings didn’t cross my mind, but it did remind me of those Ultimate Edradours with sherry-on-steroids cask maturation. Another low scoring one…
Old Rhosdhu (Loch Lomond) 29, 1990-2020, Refill Hogshead 416, 48.2% – WhiskyNerds with Wu-Dram Clan
Old carpets and old wooden furniture, a whiff of paint and caramel too. Very, very old fashioned. Somehow this reminds me of De Whiskykoning’s tasting room. There’s a bit of a crispness, something wintry. Like a creek running over stones with frosted edges. Somehow…
A very smooth and mature arrival, with just a little bit of bite on the edge of your tongue. It’s slightly drying but it doesn’t nip like the previous two did. Oak, with hints of cracked leather, old carpets and furniture. Some paint, some corky apples, walnut shells.
The finish continues down the same line although it’s a little bit more sweet with a hint of wine gum. Still there’s the walnuts, apples and wood.
My mind went to Speyside based on some older Longmorns that I’ve had in the past. As in, I associate the very old-fashioned character this whisky has more with some older Speyside distillery than the rather industrial complex at Alexandria, Loch Lomond. Still, this is a cracking dram. I absolutely loved it and in this case the score is at least consistent with my previous experience with this whisky.
Kilchoman 13, 2007-2020, Fresh Bourbon Barrel 69, 55.5% – OB for Max & Julia
I’ll be damned if this isn’t an Islay whisky. But, statistics show me I’m more often than not, so there’s that. There’s some old lemon, straw and a definit briny note. Coconut and dried pineapple.
The palate is a slow builder, but it gets to notes of white pepper, dry oak and a bit of alcohol heat. Quite dry, with dusty notes of old lemon and dried pineapple. Straw, grist and some crunchy muesli.
A long finish that mellows rather quickly, but does leave a nice tingling feeling. It’s warming and salivating. So there’s some heat, but not that ‘I burnt my mouth on a too hot toasty’ sensation.
Of course, this one could be verified. Since Best of Wines is a shop, they have to state the alcohol percentage of the products they sell. And since this is the last whisky you can calculate the exact ABV this one must be at before entering your guess.
Having said that, I did recognize this one before hand. Of course, I started second guessing myself and took some meanderings before settling on this one. That was before we knew the ABV. JP and I tasted these drams a few days ahead, so not all information was known at the time of trying it.
Still, this is still a cracking dram. One of the best, no, the best Kilchoman I’ve had to date.
And with that the Blind Tasting Competition of 2021 draws to an end. First and foremost I have to thank Best of Wines again for sending the pack of samples. I know for sure I’m joining again next year. The level of the whiskies is amazing, and it’s awesome to do this, especially if you’re not doing it all by your lonesome.
The Springbank, the Old Rhosdhu and the Kilchoman are absolute belters in all positive ways imaginable. There were some duds in the competition, but those were very fun to taste nonetheless (looking at you, Highland Park and Glen Scotia). I was mostly surprised that the two least favorite whiskies were from distilleries I have on quite the pedestal.
It goes to say that blind tasting like this is the better way of going at it, since it removes most prejudice. However, part of the whisky drinking experience is the anticipation, the exploration of that new bottle you just picked up. So while tasting blind is fun, I don’t think it’s something I’ll be doing ‘from now on’.