The Secret Tasting. sshhhh
By The Lady of the Drams
Hello again, this weekend myself and a few select others (erm.. yes we’ll stay with select) were invited to a secret whisky tasting, at a secret location, by a secret distillery worker with some secret whiskies. Needless to say I was very intrigued by this - secretly. Arriving a few minutes early so we could partake of some alcoholic beverage of the non whisky type (i.e. Peroni – other brands are available) and after initially being banned as soon as we step foot in the place for being ‘trouble’ – don’t know what they meant, we found the room to be set out ready with 8 whisky glasses for each person on tasting mats with no name or numbers (guess that was a secret too) and only 4 of them had whisky in! As we started the tasting our host told us the empty glasses were so we could choose which other whiskies we wanted. Now I should explain here that our host is not a professional speaker, nor a brand ambassador (although that would be quite funny). He is just a great lover of whisky and has some fantastic tales to tell. Most of which aren’t repeatable. All the whiskies were at cask strength.
We started our tasting with a blend of 70% malt and 30% grain at around 56% abv. The nose was very sweet, had light sherry notes and the unmistakeable cereal notes you associate with blends. The taste was sweet and spicy, with vanilla and cinnamon flavours and heavily soaked raisins. Unfortunately adding a drop of water killed off the taste even though it made the cereal notes more pronounced.
Whisky number 2 was from a local distillery with a splash of whisky from another local distillery at around 52% abv. The nose was rather strange as I initially got salted caramel chocolate but then the smell of petrol on your hands after you have filled the car at the petrol station appeared. The taste was better giving floral notes of freshly cut hay, spices, liquorice and toffee. The spices stayed on the tongue for quite a while after.
Whisky number 3 was from a different local distillery with a teaspoon from another local distillery. Confused yet? This sat at around 55% abv. It would seem our most gracious host was one of the angels taking their angels share, just his wings had fallen off. The nose on this was more earthy like your garden just after a heavy rain shower, but then light brown sugar and malt loaf crept in. The taste however was rather spicy initially but then gave way to soft melted caramel with a very slight touch of smoke.
Our final pre-poured whisky was from a Speyside distillery and was from a re-racked hogshead which had then been finished in a Pedro Ximinez cask and was distilled in 1995. Chocolate toffees and tinned fruit cocktail in syrup immediately came to mind for me on the nosing of this one and the taste again was quite different to the nose. The taste was like spiced caramel with pink peppercorns slightly singed and a bit of salt was fighting its way through. A nice chewy dram.
Now for the bottles we could pick from. One in particular had quite a few calling to try it. It was from a distillery near a loch from 1995 at around 68% which is probably why it was so popular. The nose gave up Thornton’s dark toffee (other brands are available), muscovado sugar and burnt oranges. The taste threw me though it was drying and woody with ash notes. Think I’ll just sit and nose this (I didn’t pick this one by the way).
This next one, however I did pick, as it was a whisky from 1967 (when I pointed out that this was 6 years before I was born I was asked to leave) from a Speyside distillery. It had lived in a hogshead and was 40.8%. The nose was of newly varnished wood, sweet candy bananas, crème caramel and custard (hungry now). The taste on this one didn’t let you down either it had vanilla custard mixed with creamy melted toffee. Just delicious. I did try to keep the tasting bottle but it was noticed and removed from my reach.
Another one which was a popular choice was from a currently expanding distillery and was distilled in 1989 which is apparently when they produced some of their best whisky. The nose was sooo good. Banana toffees with ground almonds and lychees. It was a bit spicier on the tongue than the nose suggested but there was still the creaminess of cream with fresh vanilla pods scraped into it.
The next whisky was from a coastal distillery and was a peated wine cask. The colour was a delicate pink. The nose gave you sweet peated notes, which was surprising as our host doesn’t like peated whisky, with rose petals mashed in a jar like when you used to make rose petal perfume as a child. The taste was of a wood fire ash with the sweetness gently pushing through letting you know it was still there.
The final whisky of the evening before we all fell down was an Islay from 2001. The colour was a darker shade of pink then the previous and had come from one of my favourite casks – Port. There was very soft smoke on the nose, with soft fruits and heather peat following on while the taste gave out a spicy smoke to start with followed by freshly cooked oranges. This was both beautiful to look at and to taste. What a dram to finish on. I did manage to keep the bottle for a while on this one.
Altogether it was a great evening and we were asked to just donate to the local charity our host supported rather than pay a tasting fee which we were all more than happy to do. We had been given great whiskies that we probably wouldn’t normally have got to taste and entertained by some great stories.
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