I'm learning to love (at least try to like) Scotch

November 27, 2011

It's the holidays.  You may want to discover the wonders of Scotch Whisky, American Whiskey and Japanese Whisky.  Through the goodness of some of the PR companies that I work with, samples have been received lately for my professional edification.  Because it is the holidays- Scotch is sometimes given as a gift or received as one.  This is a highly un-scientific tasting of Whisky. 

I'm learning to like Scotch Whisky.  That said- traditionally I enjoy the sweet burn of Bourbon.  My taste capacities have never understood Scotch- but I'm trying to at least make an effort to love Scotch!

A couple weeks ago I received several samples of Scotch Whisky.  Some varieties were from Japan, others from the United States. (American Whiskey)

Some were over the top smoky, iodine and peat- others deliniated and bold.  Scotch is sophisticated and elegant.  My palate may not be as understanding of this craft of distillation- but at least I'm trying!

Several tastings ensued.  My notes are as follows.  The first major tasting included John Lundin, owner of Bluewater Vodka.  I attribute many of the descriptions to him.

Whisky tasting with John Lundin of Bluewater Vodka

Nikka whisky from the barrel. (Japan)  Blended, not single malt.  Citrus oil burst  gives way to peat smoke and fire nose.  Technically perfect in every way. If this is not single malt I don’t know whisky… proficientcy in motion.. every sip resonates with perfection.  No salt or fire though.  Just crisp heat.

Dalmore.. 15 an inviting entrance.  A bit of orange and pepper on the back of the tongue.  Dark stone fruits from the sherry casks at the finish.  This is a masterful way of making whisky.. from Scotland with love.  Almond laced finish with nutmeg notes. Asian spices.  Chestnuts. Smoke.  Heat.

Jura 16 A Focused nose is immediately in view.  Then gallons of sweet cream and caramel from the casks.  Aftertaste rolls off the tongue. Sherry wood and Asian spices- such as Chinese Five Spice powder 

Dalmore 18 is a lesson in drinking.  It is certainly more educational than many of the other tastes I savored .. deeply perfumed and dry on the finish ... mouth-feel that goes on and on.  Soaring like a vulture circling its prey below.. Brooding, waiting. Hot on the tongue.  Atmospheric Scotch.  Finishes bone dry.   A flash bulb bursting in my head.

Dalmore Gran Reserva Aromatic, malty nose gives way to a shovelful of soil.  Dirt. Earth. Dark soil.  Tastes of the earth.  Briny.   Too earth driven for my Bourbon geared palate.  This is meant for SAVORING...

1263 King Alexander III  Port cask finished- Raw tawny nose that melts into Turkish rosewater and heavy cream. Hazelnut finish.  Gorgeous flavors with all the stuffing.  Hot at the finish. Dark plum and raisin nose to finish.  The nose teases you in. This Scotch is clearly the Medusa of Scotch Whisky.. Pause gazing into her sloshing around in your glass and you will... turn to stone! 

Dark Oat Whiskey from Koval- Almond and cinnamon nose Baked Apples and mint.  Wet oats in the stable and I grew up around horses.  Citrus zest. And pickle-back cocktails.  Almost unfair to include in a tasting against Scotch.  This is exotic stuff, yes. Not at all what I expected.  It is to Whisky as Botanical Gin is to London style Gin.  Just not the same thing at all. 

Chicago Rye from Koval..  It's an otherworldly rye.  White white white whiskey and  hunk from a corned beef sandwich on rye with mustard with a Kosher dill on the side.  Anise and Deep dark tint of Caraway seeds- touch of mint.  Scent of plum brandy made out back.   Pure fire.. I need to get into this glass.. Not sure what will happen next.

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel-  Perfect balance of sweetness and smoke.  Filtered through charcoal and it softens with a finish that is all at once elegant and educational.   The range of flavor is compact.  Very sophisticated slurp. Like freshly cut flowers and summer in a glass finish.

Murray McDavid 13 year Guyana Rum.  Pure scotch.. rum yes.. but it’s Scotch.. what is it?  Rum aged in Scotch Casks.  Oh my!