A Night in Scotland
By Rick Kakouris
We’ve often mentioned our enjoyment of a post adventure whisky, or a simple evening with a wee dram. One of our early articles, “Whiskey: Novice or not”,was an evening spent with friends, sampling a wide selection of our favorite brown liquors.
Recently, some of our fellow adventures had their own evening of camaraderie and whisky tasting, and they we kind enough to share their tasting notes with us.
From Rick Kakouris comes “A Night in Scotland”.
A friend of mine over the years had collected 18 different bottles of Scotch & whiskies. We recently gathered at his house to taste and rate the various offerings of Scotland and around the world.
Our process was simple, we had a loose scale for grading that went from 1-4, but mostly judging the drams with categories ranging from Smokiness to Smoothness, and what we called the “Whoa” factor. This being a “total surprise” either good or bad. We broke the selection into a series of flights and found our tastes and opinions ranged as follows…
12Cutty Sark Blended
The first flight of 4 saw a combination of blended and single barrel.
The first offering was Benromach, a Speyside single malt. It was very hot the first sip, but then mellowed into a smooth taste at the finish. Very little smokiness.
The next offering was Balvenie, a DoubleWood (matured in 2 different casks) 12 year old. It was definitely smoky, but it was not smooth on the back end. There were differing opinions on this one.
Next was an old standby, Cutty SarkBlended. It was too familiar for me to rate fairly, but others found it palatable.
Connemara followed, which actually snuck into the tasting. It was an Irish Whiskey, and it was unanimous that this was the best of the flight. Because we’re all such history buffs, perhaps we had a small leaning towards Ireland and its history of Sir Henry Sydney
Johnnie Walker Blue
Covent Garden Reserve
The Second flight consisted of two blends and two single malts, all 10-12 years old Scotches.
The first Scotch from this flight was Arrus, a blended malt that was made specifically for a tasting at the distillery. It was enjoyable with a hint of floral and peet that was smooth on the back end.
Next was Johnnie Walker Blue, an expensive blended Scotch Whiskey. It did not impress the gentlemen and did not seem worth the high price tag.
The next offering was Covent Garden Reserve. A single malt, which was hot in the beginning and never settled down. All gentlemen agreed it was not their favorite.
The final offering was Dalmore, a 12 tear highland single malt. This was a delight. The smoky yet incredible smooth taste was one to savor. This was by far the best of the second round.
The Famous Grouse
Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve
The third flight was haphazardly chosen (probably do to the tasters degrading lack of sobriety)
The Famous Grouse was offered first and was very well received. It was a delight on the tip of the tongue and wrapped you in warmth at the end. (can you tell at this time we are slowly slipping away?) The Famouse Grouse was popular with a number of the gentlemen, Mr Last leading that charge. However Mr Cook and Kakouris were not as thrilled over the selection.
The next to be tasted was Glenfiddich which was a single malt 12 year, matured in the Valley of the Deer, this for some reason was important to Mr Last. It was a common single malt with no particular flavors coming to the front. (Maybe it has something to do with the deer).
The final offering in this round was the blended Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve. This was a better offering than the Johnnie Walker Blue. The smokiness and longevity of the warmth as you swallowed was quite enjoyable. It was definitely popular amongst the gentlemen.
By now the rating portion of the tasting had fallen off slightly. The numbers on the paper seemed to move a little and were distracting. Famous Grouse and Johnnie Walker Gold were chosen as the best.
Isle of Jura 10
Isle of Jura Origins
Isle of Jura 16
The next flight was again a combination of blended and single malt.
The first tasting was a Highland Park single malt, Mr Last being enamored with the Axe on the box cover. Mr Kakouris ranked this one high on the Whoa factor. The first sip immediately grabbed you with a floral hint and good smoke. It was extremely smooth and begged you to have more.
Next was the Isle of Jura single malt 10 year old Scotch. It was hot initially but mellowed as it went farther back on your tongue. This was ranked around the middle of the choices for this flight.
The Isle of Jura continued to be featured as the next bottle was Isle of Jura Origins, a10 year single malt. There was nothing special about this offering, it was good and had a mellow charred taste.
The last Isle of Jura was Diurachs Own, a 16 year old single malt. This was hot in the beginning and never settled down, but it was also incredibly smooth. Highland Park was the common favorite over the Isle of Jura 10 year.
King Robert the II
The final flight of the night was a selection of 3 unique Scotch’s.
King Robert the II blended which was not the best of the 3. It was smoky but never really smoothed out. It was a common Scotch.
The next offering was Tamnavulin, a single malt 12 year old Speyside. This was a very good Scotch. There are not enough oooooo’s in smooth to describe this one. It was by far the best choice of this flight as agreed on by all gentlemen present.
The last Scotch was Timorous Beastiewhich had a pleasant looking mouse on the bottle. In this gentleman’s opinion it was the only pleasant thing about it. It was smoky, hot, and not smooth at all. The other gentlemen were in agreement.
In the end, after all the merriment and good company the Irish Whisky was chosen as one of the favorites. The gentlemen then retired to the drawing room for Brandy Old Fashions.