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  1. #1
    Irreverent One
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Heart of the Beaver State
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    2,395

    A Scotch Tasting in Corvallis

    Last Saturday got together with some friends to sample a range of single malts.

    Inspiration for this came from my friend Sam, who some weeks ago asked me to recommend a single malt. Thinking it might be useful for him to be exposed to a range of styles, and always on the lookout for an excuse to have a party, I proposed a tasting to him and a number of mutual friends. The response was universally positve, so we scheduled it for the evening of July 19th.

    Attendees would be myself, Sam (a writer; one published novel), Jerry (wine store owner), Harold (IT geek), our host Chris (membership coordinator for an association) and Doug (a DJ). Experience levels ranged from high (myself and Jerry) to medium (Chris, Harold and Doug) to none (Sam, who'd never sampled a single malt).

    Selections for the evening were four of mine, these being Rosebank (lowland malt, 13yo, sherry cask aged), Aberlour a'bunadh (batch #19), Highland Park 18yo, and a last-minute ringer, the 2008 release of McCarthy Oregon Single Malt. I bagged this up and labelled it "Mystery Malt".

    Jerry brought a bottle of Laphroaig 10yo Cask Strength (Laphroaig being a favorite of his).

    Sam had asked me to recommend one that he could purchase and bring. Thinking another useful style might be something low-to-moderately peaty aged in exclusively bourbon barrels, I suggested Caol Ila 12yo, Glenmorangie 10yo or Glen Moray 12yo (all three available at both local liquor stores). However, knowing Sam to be the independent kind of guy he is, I predicted to my wife, "He's going to get something else. He's going to stand there at the Scotch shelf and pick out something on the basis of how much he likes the label."

    Sure enough, he showed up with a bottle of Aberlour 16yo[1]. When he saw the a'bunadh, he asked, "Oh, gee, are those the same? Did I screw up?"

    "No, they're different. Mine is all sherry cask aged and yours is a combination of sherry and bourbon. Also yours is older, and made differently." (chill filtered). "Don't worry about it - you were just being you. I wouldn't have it any other way."

    I said this with a smile and a comradely arm-around-the-shoulders hug. I think he bought it.

    Accompanying the whisky we had a variety of eats. Chris had grilled a flank steak and cut it into strips. We also had dried fruits, potato chips, mixed nuts, smoked salmon and dark chocolate (this last I'd suggested because I thought it would go well with Glenmorangie or Glen Moray).

    Also we had a bottle of Glenlivet-bottled Speyside spring water, for mixing with the two cask-strength whiskies.

    We started with the Rosebank. Everbody liked it. It's nose is very perfumed, with notes and sherry and malt. The mouth feel is sweet and very smooth, with just a hint of citrus. It's a light, delicate, and (dare I say it?) feminine whisky, but satisfying nonetheless. It went well with the dried fruit and the chocolate.

    Next was the a'bunadh, which impressed everyone (Jerry, Chris and I have had it before). Its rich, sherried style went well with the dried fruit.

    Next was the Aberlour 16yo. It was nice, but just didn't show as well as the a'bunadh. It did work well with the chocolate, however; perhaps better than any of the others.

    Then came the Highland Park 18. Again, this was one that impressed everyone. The perfect balance of peat, oak, sherry and malt coupled with incredible smoothness has to be experienced to be believed. It worked best with the roast beef.

    At this point Jerry poured the Laphroaig. Sam took a whiff, then a small sip, set it down and stated, "I'm sorry, I can't drink this." After taking a sip I was wondering if I'd be able to finish mine, but I had a bite of salmon, followed by another sip and realized okay, as long as I alternate the fish with the whisky, I can do this.

    At the end I poured the McCarthy. It was obviously a young whisky, being very light in color[2]. It was quite smooth, though. It made a good counterpoint to the Laphroaig, demonstrating that it was possible to be peaty without being obnoxious. Everyone liked it, and I enjoyed pulling it out of the bag and showing what it was. We discussed it at length and all agreed it would be nice to see what an older expression would be like.

    Strangely, it seemed to go best with the chips and nuts.

    Chris had snapped some pics, which I'd hope to post with this. Some were of the group (including himself, enabled by the camera's self-timer), plus I asked that he take a pic of the whisky lineup. I got copies of these yesterday and was dismayed to see that in all group shots, Chris and Sam were making goofy expressions and gestures. As for the shot of the whiskies, the bottle of HP was backwards, and the shot was out-of-focus as well[3].

    So no pix. Sorry.

    Although this was not a competitve tasting, everyone announced a favorite, four picking the a'bunadh and two the Highland Park.

    All in all, a successful evening, enjoyable and educational (even for Jerry and I). I proposed another tasting soon, this time of bourbon. Everyone was receptive save Doug, who stated his intention to "remain a Scotch snob." So we won't invite him. My prediction is that if I let Sam pick one on his own, it'll be Woodford Reserve.


    Footnotes.

    1. If you want something done right, you just gotta do it yourself.

    2. Some might call it buff

    3. See # 1.
    Scott

    "Remember that your sense of humor is inversely proportional to your level of intolerance."
    - Serge Storms

  2. #2
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Sugar Land, Tx
    Posts
    100

    Re: A Scotch Tasting in Corvallis

    Nice writeup, I enjoyed reading your account of your group's tasting. I haven't heard of the Oregon single malt. Its not available here in Texas. I have the same impression between the A'bunadth and the Aberlour 16. I prefer the A'bunadth.

    When I was starting with single malt, the first bottle I had was Laphroaig 10. I have the same impression as Sam. I can not drink this stuff. None of us (four people) can drink it so we put it aside and I took it home. I took a shot of the Laph everyday for a week. At the end of the week, it was tasting pretty good! I suggest for Sam to try it again this way. He would appreciate it later, I bet ya!

  3. #3
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    North Alabama
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    577

    Re: A Scotch Tasting in Corvallis

    Quote Originally Posted by LeoDLion View Post
    When I was starting with single malt, the first bottle I had was Laphroaig 10. I have the same impression as Sam. I can not drink this stuff. None of us (four people) can drink it so we put it aside and I took it home. I took a shot of the Laph everyday for a week. At the end of the week, it was tasting pretty good! I suggest for Sam to try it again this way. He would appreciate it later, I bet ya!
    I also enjoyed the write-up. Please keep that up. I am a Laphroaig fan and I do agree that it is difficult to drink for most people. The people I have introduced it to have all been warned and so no one was deeply offended but I did get everything from gag reflex to popped eyballs and breathlessness.

    I especially like the 10 year old cask strength. It's a whisky that takes a while to get to know and love but the hard hitting complexity of the flavor is what I like. Fortunately for me I really enjoy a wide range of single malts and the Aberlour Abunadh is one we can all agree is a super whisky.

    Please send me all of your unfinished or unopened bottles of Laphroaig. I have an environmentally safe way of disposing of it. I filter it through several organs before releasing it to the wild.

    Cheers!
    Often I am forced to deal with the fact that I prefer bourbon over dealing with facts.

  4. #4
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Arkansas
    Posts
    988

    Re: A Scotch Tasting in Corvallis

    My wife loves single malts as much as I do, but we were at a party where the only Scotch was Laphroaig and she drank Canadian Club. The first time she enjoyed Laphroaig, we were at the distillery and they were peating the malt that day and it was a heavy foggy day. We got out of the car and she wanted to get back in and return to the B&B. We went for a tour, and by the end of the tour she was practically licking the walls in the malting room. When we went for our dram at the end of the tour she had two and has enjoyed Laphroaig ever since. It seems strange to me, because that's one of the malts that turned me on to malts. The others were Lagavulin and Ardbeg. I guess unless you're as weird as me Laphroaig takes some getting used to.

  5. #5
    Guru
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Northwest of Peoria
    Posts
    4,437

    Re: A Scotch Tasting in Corvallis

    A beautifully written post, Scott




    Quote Originally Posted by CorvallisCracker View Post
    .... I proposed another tasting soon, this time of bourbon. Everyone was receptive save Doug, who stated his intention to "remain a Scotch snob."
    Some men just can't be reached.


    Quote Originally Posted by CorvallisCracker View Post
    ..... My prediction is that if I let Sam pick one on his own, it'll be Woodford Reserve.
    That made me chuckle, 'cause I've known guys like Sam.
    Last edited by ILLfarmboy; 10-18-2008 at 06:06.

 

 

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