Last week, we attended a tasting event at Keg n Cork liquor store in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. For a measly $35 CAN we were able to taste up to 38 scotches (hopefully no one had that many) from 18 different distilleries & independent bottlers.
This really is a great way to expose yourself to many different scotches so you can decide for yourself what to purchase down the road. Even with the myriad of online blogs and sites offering up reviews and tasting notes, in the end, it is up to you what you like and don’t like.
The prices of the bottles available went from $60 all the way up to $246.96. I won’t list off all the bottles or distilleries present but I will list off my favorites of the ones I tried. I should say that I will not include any of the SMWS (Scotch Malt Whisky Society) drams in my list of favorites. Not because they weren’t delicious but because they aren’t sold to the general public. That being said, I have a feeling I will be joining the SMWS in the very near future. Their focus on single cask, cask-strength bottlings is what will eventually draw me in to a membership and the samples of SMWS scotch I did try were fantastic!!
I ended up trying 10 different scotches (not including the 2 SMWS ones). I know 10 is a lot and that my palate and nose probably got a bit saturated, but when there are 38 scotches available how do you stop at 5 or 6?? *They were ¼ ounce samples.
My List, in order of favorite to least favorite:
- Glenfarclas 105 Cask Strength
- Bruichladdich Port Charlotte
- Glendronach 21
- Glenfarclas 21
- Longrow Red Port Cask
- Bruichladdich Octomore 6.1
- Springbank Green 12 Year
- Benromach Heritage
- Benriach Curiositas 10
- Bowmore Small Batch
I probably have some explaining to do. First of all, it has become very clear to me that I tend to favour either super-sherried or super-peated scotches so keep that in mind when looking at the list. Secondly, I have grown very fond of cask-strength whisky and this usually influences my purchases and opinions.
Glenfarclas 105/Glenfarclas 21/Glendronach 21: I absolutely loved the 105. It just offers more than the Glenfarclas 21 and at a much lower price point, obviously. Don’t get me wrong, the 21 is amazing but my only complaint is that it is almost to smooth. I will have to try the 17 at some point and see if I like it more than the 21. I also think the Glendronach 21 is a better dram than the Glenfarclas 21. Both are delightful but the Glendronach just had a little more ‘oomph’ from start to finish, if you know what I’m saying. At this point, I think it is safe to say the Glendronach is quickly tuning into one of my favorite distilleries. They produce high quality stuff at fair prices and that is all we can ask for!
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte/Octomore 6.1: The Port Charlotte was in a VERY close battle for my favorite dram of the night. One word I could use to describe this scotch: BALANCE. Everything about the Port Charlotte works. I sampled this right before the Octomore and, let’s just say, I would buy a bottle of this any day of the week over the Octomore…especially when you consider the price difference. Port Charlotte will become a mainstay in my scotch collection from here on out. The Octomore was just OK. I am all for heaps of peat in my scotch but it has to be balanced and I just didn’t find that with the Octomore 6.1.
Springbank Green/Longrow Red Port Cask: These are two very different drams from the same distillery (Springbank). We went straight to the Springbank Green as soon as we saw it on the tasting list and let’s just say…we were disappointed. Now, it being our first sample of the night may have given it an unfair disadvantage. I have read that the palate and nose open up after a dram or two so I may have to give this one another chance. That being said, at over $100 a bottle, I just don’t see myself buying this bottle anytime soon. I have read nothing but good reviews about Springbank Green so maybe my expectations were a tad high but it seemed light on the nose and it just didn’t give me enough flavors or punch on the palate to warrant a high rating, in my mind. The Longrow Red Port Cask, on the other hand, was very nice. The maturation in port casks gave it just the right amount of sweetness without going overboard. I would like to do a head to head tasting between this and the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban at some point.
The scotches that just didn’t do it for me: Although the Benromach Heritage is rated #8 on my list, it was the last scotch I sampled and probably doesn’t deserve to be this low. Unfortunately, the Benriach Curiositas and The Bowmore Small Batch are both scotches you can probably pass on at your local shop. Both are examples of what I like to call ‘NAS Scotch Gone Bad’…which, to me, means they taste too young, are unbalanced and would probably benefit from a few more years in the cask. I am all for NAS scotch when it is done right but these two bottles just didn’t work.
Thanks to all the distilleries, reps, and the fine folks at Keg n Cork for hosting such a great event!!