I got my Ellenstown at Wades Wines in the Westlake Village area. If you go, chat up Marty. He runs their whiskey program. If you get him a good discussion, he might... just might give a you a sample of something interesting.
Thought I'd throw this out there again. The LA Scotch Club is holding its annual Peatin Meatin. Check out the website lascotchclub.com; especially the promotional video.
It's $75; pricey, I know. That includes an extraordinary amount of really good peated whisky, dinner, a t-shirt and a Peatin Meatin glencairn glass. It really is the Superbowl of our year, and is amazing. If you go, you will not be disappointed.
So the other night I got to go to a Glenlivet tasting. Frankly, not one of my faves. Actually, I find it rather pedestrian and even though it is reasonably priced, I'd just as soon pass on it for other interesting stuff. But my suspicions were correct as it turned out, and the brand ambassador who was putting on the tasting is an old friend who I haven't seen in over 10 years. Also, they did not present their usual stuff.
This tasting involved some single barrel selections that apparently are completely sold out. One was called Helios, another called Josie, and a third called Legacy. These single barrel bottlings represent nothing of the usual stuff the distillery puts out.
The Helios was not terribly exciting. Good spice, vanilla and banana notes consistent with a good scotch aged in American oak barrels. The Josie was f'in amazing. I was so shocked that I liked it as much as I did. Aged 17 years in a Sherry Butt, the whisky was a complex set of dried fruits including apricot, cherry and peach with a very long spicy finish. The type of whisky that exhibits an extremely satisfying complexity. The Legacy was also very good. I did not find as exciting as the Josie, but its still very good.
Just found some pricing and they are available. The Legacy is only (only?) $145US from a store in Germany, and the Josie is going for around $225US at Royal Mile in England. Ouch. Why do I always like the very expensive ones?
In following up on the Glenlivet event from last week, while there, me and few friends had a nice chat with Rick Edwards who is a representative for many distilleries in a vast portfolio. Two of which are Glenlivet and Aberlour. So, we arranged an Aberlour tasting at the last minute, which was nicely attended. The goal of the event was to see if we could discern different tasting notes from different batches of Abunadh.
The Abunadh (pronounced, Ah-BOON-ah, with perhaps a very slight "R" at the tail end) is a cask strength, sherry cask release that Aberlour releases marking the batch and barrel on each label. For many of my friends, there are favorite batches and some batches to avoid. One friend is such a freakazoid about the Abunadh that he has a journal discerning which batch and barrel are superior to the others.
So we tasted the Aberlour 12, 16, and 18 which are doublewoods (meaning the whisky is aged in sherry and American oak casks) and three different batches of Abunadh (16, 21 and 39). The general consensus seemed to be that there were consistent flavor characteristics across the different batch, but as you look closer, there are definite variances. For me, Batch 39 presented much more complexity with good sweet dried fruit of apple and fig, with a bone dry, spicy finish that was very long and mellowed into a black licorice type of taste. On the other hand, Batch 21 just did not present much discernable taste at all. Batch 16 was complex, for my palate, not as good as the 39. Batch 16 had a mustiness that was a little off-putting for me.
These are good whiskies and are reasonably priced. If you like sherry bombs you should definitely check them out. That Batch 39 is a recent release so it might be available in stores.
What is this you ask? Coffee in a mini Glencairn glass? Water colored with caramel? No. This is what happens to Glenfarclas whisky when it is aged in a sherry barrel for 42 years. This is the Glenfarclas 1970 and it was brilliant. Needless to say the nose was all sherry with hints of various tree fruit (a little red apple). The taste had several chocolate tones (milk and dark), orange, grapefruit and lots of sherry wood (imagine that). The finish was long and gentle with lots of dark chocolate.
The others tasted last night were all single barrel bottlings that included: Glen Garioch 14; Faultline 10; Caperdonich 18; Glendronach 19; Kilchoman (4 year, no age statement was actually presented); Buichladdich (around 10 yr.); Benriach 1984 (27 yr.). It was put on by K&L Wines to feature some of their single barrel offerings.
The gem for me was the Kilchoman. For those who don't know, this is the newest distillery on Islay. In fact, I think it is the first new distillery on Islay in about 100 years. They started releasing their whisky only a year or two ago (because under Scottish law, whisky must be aged at least 3 years to be labeled as "whisky"; until then it is called "spirit" or "new make"). The Kilchoman was really interesting and pretty expensive at $120 per bottle. The value was the Faultline. This is not the name of the distillery. Some distilleries do not allow unique bottlings like single barrel releases or independent bottlings so a release of a unique bottle from those distilleries must be done under a different name. The Faultline is actually Glenmorangie. It is being sold for $55 per bottle. It is just a solid, very drinkable whisky.
If you find this interesting, keep your eyes peeled either at the LA Scotch Club website or K&L's website. There may be another event very shortly featuring many of the same bottles.
Bump. This once masterful thread is slowly dying. Let's not hope the scotch consumption out there isn't. Here are some gems I recently tasted:
Miltonduff 1989 22 yr-Chieftans
Glenfarclas 1996 15 yr. Traverso's Bottling
Highland Park Bicentenary 1977
Highland Park 25
Bowmore 28 1984 D&M Aficianados Club
Bowmore 1989 16
Laphrooaig 1995 16 yr. Signatory
Longmorn-Glenlivet 1971 Scott's Selection
Dallas Dhu 12 Gordon & MacPhail
Rosebank 10 Murray McDavid
Glenlochy 1980 24 Duncan Taylor
Glen Mhor 1978 Scotts Selection
Imperial 17 1995 Scott's Selection
Compass Box Spice Tree
The Classic Cask 35
Of these the faves are Dallas Dhu (I'm partial to anything Dallas Dhu) and the Highland Parks. The Bicentenary was definitely not your typical HP, but I liked just the same. Most of the others were pretty good, but there were a couple of dogs like the Bowmore (FWP up the yin-yang... that's French Whore Perfume in reference to those whiskies that smell sickly vanilla sweet).