Well it was a mad rush; leaving work at 16:00, driving the 28 miles back to Birmingham, quick change, pick whisky up, train to town, Mac Donalds perfect pre-taste meal?) and at the Whisky Shop by 18:00 just in time for our first event! We’d organised this tasting with Craig, manager of Birmingham’s Whisky Shop, around the concept of trying whisky blind. Each guest would bring a bottle of whisky, hide the label and then allow each person to try while we pontificated as to what delights we were tasting! So what did we have? Unfortunately Mike was otherwise occupied so it was left to me (Jon) to hold the fort for LivingRoom Whisky.
Infinity 3 [Bruichladdich 50%]
Our first whisky of the day was a cracker from Bruichladdich. Multi vintage and from a variety of casks the nose brought out lots of sherry and fruit as well as some coastal salt. Despite being peated to 20ppm it was actually quite gentle. The palate was lush – apple, sugar and sherry continuing to develop as well as fudge. We also found quite a strong peppery taste (almost reminiscent of Talisker) before experiencing quite a dry finish. A malt I’d not tried before but yet again it shows why I love this distillery; great craftsmanship, unique and utterly delightful – well worth picking up a bottle.
35.43 [Glen Moray – SMWS 58%]
I’d brought two SMWS bottles. This one described as a ‘Tropical Rainforest’ by the SMWS Tasting Panel was a 20 year old limited to 229 bottles. The nose is incredible; it lives up to its name with bundles of tropical fruits, banana’s and pineapples. It really is one that you could nose all night – whisky at its best! We were delighted to find that the taste matched the nose in every way discovering more waxy fruit and vanilla, and even a touch of chilli; walnut developed once water was added to reduce the strength ever so slightly. This is a real stunner and was our whisky of the night when all was said and done; a real plus for the SMWS and for Glen Moray. The only disappointment is the mere dram or two left in the bottle.
Superstition [Jura 43%]
Despite it being a blind tasting this was instantly recognisable; bronze in colour and with a great coastal nose – an old favourite. I hadn’t appreciated that this bottling is a marriage or whiskies aged from 10-21 years and that Jura do this to ensure consistent quality from across their stocks; a real feat in blending. That familiar palate was lovely with more rich fruit and toffee flavours, that almost sea spray at the back developing and swirling around. Superstition is a great dram to introduce people to the world of whisky and from the Jura core range is my personal favourite.
Benromach Organic [Benromach 43%]
This bottling was the original version of this whisky and not the latter Special Edition that was brought out. Interestingly it was matured in virgin casks giving bags of vanilla and tar on the nose combined with quite a sweet woody effect. Fresh and oily to taste initially, we then found ripe barley and spice before seeing some orange and just a hint of peat which continued right through to the finish. Mike has tried the Special Edition (review to follow soon) and I”d had a taste of that, however I prefer this bottling. It may be discontinued but you can still get it from a handful of retailers including Hard to Find Whisky.
127.5 [Port Charlotte – SMWS 66.8%]
The second of my bottles and another from Bruichladdich. This time its their medium peated range and its an absolute belter under the PC tag. Bottled at an incredible 66.8% its a fabulous 8 year old whisky. The nose was giving us boiled sweets and lots of lemon sherbet amongst the smoke and fire, while tasting neat brought a fireball of its own! Very intense on the palate; lots of chilli spice and more smoke and hints of dark chocolate. It was briefly tamed with water which gave us lemon zest on the finish which lingered on giving even more smoke and heat – its a whisky to pull out on a dark stormy night and enjoy while the storm brews around you.
Cigar Malt [Dalmore 44%]
Our final whisky in the shop was housed in a fabulous red box and was the recently launched Cigar Malt from Dalmore. I’d not tried the previous version of this so was keen to sample it. The nose was the richest of the night and its easy to see it standing up to enjoyment with a cigar; lots of dark chocolate and coffee combined with toffee – a real foodies whisky? The taste brought burnt sugar (in a non-sulphurus way) and treacle and the sherried influence continued to come through before finishing like a good old fashioned Christmas pudding (more fruit and sherry). It’s well made and its easy to see the appeal that this whisky would hold to the cigar connoisseur.
That rather impressive line up brought the tasting to a finish! We departed to the Wellington, met up with some members of the Birmingham Whisky Club (which we’ll blog about soon), had a pint, tried the Octomore Comus (a whole other story!) and departed home with new friends made and good whisky drank. All in all a great World Whisky Day but lets not wait a year to do it again!