A couple of weeks ago, G-LO received the following four whisky samples from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America:
- Cask No. 76.84 aka “Feisty and zesty”.
- Cask No. 39.83 aka “Yummy and mouth-watering”.
- Cask No. 4.153 aka “Kerosene delight”.
- Cask No. 53.157 aka “Paint your own picture”.
G-LO chose Cask No. 76.84 and Cask No. 4.153, and gave me Cask No. 39.83 and Cask No. 53.157. As it is Tasting Tuesday, I decided to take my homework seriously and then offer a combined review. I gave each of the samples a quick nose, and given the huge peat notes of Cask No. 53.157, decided that I would begin with Cask No. 39.83. But first, the tasting notes from the Society for Cask No. 39.83:
The inviting nose was intensely floral (chrysanthemums, dahlias, elderflower, pot-pourri) but an array of other aromas (mocha, almond cakes, Crunchie bars, painted wood, blueberry bubblegum) suggested a coffee shop and book shop combination. The palate was rich and warm, giving thick heather honey, sweet coconut, Sunday roast, flower salad and varnished wood – we were bowled over. The reduced nose continued beautifully perfumed with the coconut of gorse flowers and sweet and sour Peking duck. The reduced palate became yummy and mouth-watering, with vanilla, meadowsweet and perfumed elderflower champagne. The distillery, dating from 1824, sits on the eastern edge of Elgin.
I found the “Yummy and Mouth-Watering” to have the following characteristics…
- Appearance: Deep Amber with nice legs.
- Aroma: Astringent, honeysuckle, toffee and acetone.
- Taste: Menthol & cinnamon with a pepper that lingers on the tongue. There is a minimal burn with a very nice warming in the back of the throat.
- Age: 25 Years
- Cask: Refill Hogshead
- ABV: 53.9%
With water, the aroma becomes less medicinal and the sweetness moves to the forefront. The taste is of far less cinnamon and far more menthol (so much so, that I found that the menthol vapors move to the top of your head). This was a very nice whisky that certainly opened up with water and time. According to whiskyportal.com, Cask No. 39.83 is from the Linkwood distillery, a member of the mighty Diageo empire.
The second sample was from Cask No. 53.157 and the the tasting notes from the Society are as follows:
Peat smoke drifts from a nearby island across calm waters – the sun is going down after a hot day on the beach – a driftwood fire is now lit on shingle between rock-pools – barbecued pork ribs, langoustines, lobster, then lemon meringue pie for dessert – nose the dram – ginger, Germolene, tobacco, boxing gloves – paint your own picture – Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction? – taste it now – root beer, ice-cream, bananas, Old Holborn tobacco, liquorice cigarette papers, burnt heather, barley sugars rolled in ash – this whisky evoked all of these for us – now test your own imagination – it’s from the Sound of Islay.
I found the “Paint Your Own Picture” to have the following characteristics…
- Appearance: Golden and a little thin.
- Aroma: Astringent, peat, rubber and Band-Aids.
- Taste: Alcohol, ash, tobacco smoke with a healthy burn at the back of the throat.
- Age: 10 Years
- Cask: Refill Hogshead
- ABV: 58%
With water, the aroma becomes less peaty and more medicinal (a little antiseptic). The taste is of far less alcohol with a heightened taste of ash and barbecue sauce. The burn is reduced to more of a warming sensation. This was a very different whisky for me as I am not exactly a fan of Islays (with the exception of Bruichladdich). However, under G-LO’s tutelage, I have begun to appreciate the Islays for what they are and not for what I was hoping they would be. This was a very interesting whisky that really opened up after letting it sit for awhile. According to whiskyportal.com, Cask No. 53.157 is from the Caol Ila distillery, yet another member of the mighty Diageo empire.
But wait! There’s more…
The day after I wrote up my notes, G-LO decided to get back to business, i.e. review his second whisky from this Outturn sampler, and asked if he could include his notes for Cask No. 4.153 in my blog post. Since I’m more of a giver than a taker, I obliged G-LO’s request. The Society tasting notes for Cask No. 4.153 are as follows:
Plenty to keep you occupied – smoked bacon, Golden Crunch Creams, Fry’s chocolate cream, ylang ylang, cherry liqueur, coal scuttles, Eton Mess, glossy magazines, and clean wood smoke. On the palate this multifariousness had become solventy – petrol, lighter fluid, kerosene – but was thick and mouth coating with ginger beer and lime pickle. Water drew forth pink grapefruit, orange, peardrops, Swarfega, coal tar soap, tinned fruit salad, faraway creosote and haggis spices. It had softened but still with a hint of petrol to taste, Lily of the Valley talcum powder and smoke (as if from a really large drawing room fire). From Orkney’s premier distillery.
G-LO found the “Kerosene Delight” to have the following characteristics…
- Appearance: Pale golden yellow with lots of thin, fast moving streaks forming after giving the glass a twirl.
- Aroma: Hints of cigar ash and charcoal briquettes. Green apple. Cumin. Fresh fennel.
- Taste: Medium mouthfeel, i.e. not thin, but not syrupy either. Immediately tingles the tip of your tongue with a healthy dose of white pepperiness. Once the spices settle down, there’s some subtle smokiness along with some green apple fruitiness at mid-palate. Warm, soothing finish with some of those licorice/fennel notes coming through.
- Age: 11 Years
- Cask: First-fill barrel
- ABV: 58.6%
According to whiskyportal.com, Cask No. 4.153 is from the Highland Park distillery. We have had several Highland Park expressions over the past couple of years, and we have enjoyed every single one of them. If the Whisky Portal is accurate, then I have just added Cask No. 4.153 to my list of delicious Highland Park expressions that I have had the good fortune to enjoy. This is yet another well balanced whisky, with no individual flavor element dominating the palate. It has just enough smoke to please my peated whisky loving palate, and just enough fruity/herbal elements to keep me guessing.
Thanks again to Gabby Shayne (click here to meet The Whisky Sisters) of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society of America for sending us this sample.
Categories: Booze Review, Scotch Malt Whisky Society
This is so cool!!! What a great opportunity & experiment! Thanks for looping us commoners in 🙂
Commoners? Please. You’re practically Whisk(e)y Royalty! Heh
We picked up many of the same notes in all of these samples. I picked up a lot more fruitiness throughout each, but that might just be my palate. I kept a little of the Caol Ila just to nose it whenever I miss Islay.
Thanks for the comment! I can’t speak for the other guys, but this whole nosing and tasting “business” is still relatively new to me. While I am definitely picking up more distinct aromas than I was when we started the blog, I still have a long way to go. I’m sure our palates differ, but I’m sure your wealth of experience helps you pick up those subtler notes that I’m probably missing. I guess I will just have to keep going with my “research”. 😉
I do have years of experience nosing, so that helps me put words to aromas that otherwise might be elusive to describe. What I love is when people pick up the same note, but describe them differently, though the descriptions are in the same realm: a well-used baseball mitt vs. the back seat of a 1950s car. Two very strong descriptions that may seem different, but they come from the same place.
Yes yes! The only way to learn is by putting your nose into the glass (but not too far in of course!) and to think, sniff, and discuss. And of course the drinking part is always fun too!
For me, the benefit of reading other people’s notes is to (a) jar my memory to come up with some more creative phrasing (need to work on that much much more!) and (b) when I stumble upon a reviewer that has similar taste, to get recommendations about new whiskies to explore. Advertising got me interested in Single Malts (I can still remember the mid 90s ads for The Macallan. Quite effective, though I can’t remember the last time I bought a bottle of the stuff.), but word of mouth is what has kept me on this journey. The same goes for beer, food, and anything else that is worth experiencing in life. I can be such a glutton at times! Thankfully, I like to share.
You almost need a spice rack at the ready in order to adequately capture all of the aromas. And, that first nose is to remember the alcohol and then push past that with each additional nosing.
As respects the advertising, so many pretty packages with shiny bottles.