So I had this plan right….

…and it was going to be great.

But like most of my great plans, this one didn’t quite work out as planned.

I never make New Year’s resolutions, ever!

However, maybe it was the whisky, the food or more likely the company, at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) on Hogmanay, I made kind of a joint resolution with Nicole that we’d try and attend at one tasting a month or organise at least one society share a month to get the most out of our memberships.

The net result of this is an average of 2 “tastings” a month for the first 6 months of the year. So, I’ve been lucky enough to taste an awful lot of good whisky. I mean some truly spectacular whisky.

I’ve not been alone in tasting this whisky. For most of the tasting I’ve been to it has been with my joint resolutionist, Nicole. There have been a few with my fellow EH10 founder, David and also our newest recruit, Niall. I’ve also been lucky enough to attend a few with Tom from Tom’s Whisky Reviews, someone that has forgotten more about whisky thank I will ever know.

So, rather than bore you all with all my favourites, I had hoped to get all the above named involved to put together a list of all our favourite drams for the first 6 months of the year.

The first part of my plan to get the input went kind of well. When I say well I remembered to ask 75% the group for their favourite dram. I forgot to email Tom to ask him if he’d mind providing something! Not off to the best start then.

The second part of the plan didn’t go much better. Everyone works and has commitments, so 5 days to think of the best drams, possibly re-taste, put something down and send it to me was a little hopefully of me, especially when one of those 5 days had 3 of us brewing our own beer at Krafty Brew in Leith.

Throw in a visiting family member, a birthday and (of course) work, I realised that I’d probably not given anyone nearly enough time.

EH10 Whisky Society LogoAnd to be honest, I’ve spent more time this week designing our new logo and the label for our EH10 Whisky Society beer. Yes, we have our own beer now!

So after all that rambling what you’re getting is two of my favourite whiskies, until I can beg and plead for my fellow whisky drinkers to provide me with their favourites. Then you’ll get our 2015 highlight reel.

Last year I was all about Speyside, I couldn’t get enough of anything from Speyside, Glenlossie specifically, it was all just so so good.

But since the turn of the year, it’s been all about peat for me. I cannot get enough of peaty whisky at the moment.

With that in mind, my number one pick for 2015 so far is….

SMWS 124.42 – Peat Freak Heaven

This was one helluva a dram and probably one of the few and truest examples of a 12 year old Port Charlotte I’ll taste this year, maybe even ever. It was incredible, by far and away the best Islay whisky I’ve had this year and one of the best I’ve had ever.

That could very well change though if the society keep producing bottles of whisky like my number two choice.

SMWS 29.161 – A bodega is burning

I had to think long and hard if this was better than my number one choice, I wavered for a bit then decided it was an incredibly close second. This was quite simply Laphroaig at it’s finest and when the society keep bottling gems like this, there is going to be another one soon that will be even better.

There are so many other stand out whiskies this year, but none have made such an impression as these two have. If the next 6 months provide as many good whiskies, I’ll be a very happy man, probably drunk, but definitely very happy.

Before I go, I have to say a sad farewell to one of the most incredible SMWS Ambassadors I’ve been fortunate enough to meet. She has been an incredible host, picked some amazing whiskies I’d never have contemplated trying and a joy to talk to when I’ve been in Queen Street. All of us at EH10 wish you well for the future Antea and hope this is farewell, not goodbye. You will be missed!

Sláinte

Stuart

Whisky Tasting or Golf?

Usually it’s not as simple a question to answer as one may think, although on this occasion it was….

Robert Graham (the independent bottler not the fashion designer) arranged a private tasting on Thursday the 28th of May at their Cannongate store in Edinburgh to launch some of their new whiskies. We (EH10WS) were lucky enough to be part of the small number of people invited along to the tasting.

So along I went with fellow whisky lovers Niall (EH10WS) and Tom who runs the Tom’s Whisky Reviews website. The other member of EH10WS, Stuart, for reasons unbeknown to mankind decided to play golf instead.

First dram of the evening was the Dancing Stag Ben Nevis 18 year old, which has just won Bronze in International Spirits Challenge 2015. The nose of this dram packs a punch in a fantastic way, honey and heather aroma with a hint of soft tinned fruits. The flavour is very syrupy, with Werther’s originals/travel sweets mixing through added with a subtle peppery spice, the finish was medium to long which remained sweet with more fruits, I found the more you tasted of this dram the more complex it becomes.

This was a fantastic dram to start the night and I can see way it won bronze at  the International Spirits Challenge.

Second was the Bunnahabhain 25 year old from the Robert Graham Treasurer range, I’ve never come across a whisky with such a shy nose, faint hint of peat with hint of damp wood, this was hiding what was to come up next. Full metal jacket of leather, polished wood engulfs the mouth wrapped with sweet fruits and citrus. The finish was long, oaky, slightly drying and very satisfying. Niall and I were totally overwhelmed with this dram and it was so very yummy.

The next two drams are new into Robert Graham and this is them being opened for the first time.

So third up was Benrinnes 19 year old again from the Treasurer range, the nose reminded me of the growth of spring after a April shower added with apple and  pears. The taste was smooth, well balanced and fresh which reminded people of pick n mix sweets. The finish was short to medium in length but again balanced. This whisky is very balanced from start to finish and i can see the contents of the bottle being finished quicker than expected.

Last up was a 30 year old grain whisky from Invergordon, as with all grain whisky’s I’ve tasted the nose is acetone with the hint of  coconut glue and a bit of boot polish. The taste has the classic intense grain notes, super sweet, nutty and brown bread with a kick of warmth with minimal burn. I found the finished to be short with floral sweetness and woodenness to it. I’m not a huge fan of grain whisky at this point of my journey into whisky but a number of the other people at the tatsing really enjoyed this dram and I was informed that it’s a bit of a bargain price for a 30 year old grain.

So a quick recap the Ben Nevis was all about the nose, the Bunnahabhain all about the taste, the Benrinnes was a perfect balance between the nose and taste and the Invergordon just grows on you.

Big thanks go to the staff at Robert Graham (@WhiskyCanongate) for inviting us and being an excellent host and for providing a great venue.

Just in case you are wondering how Stuart got on at the golf, he lost, all whilst he got battered by high winds, heavy rain and had miserable time of it in general.

So next time you have a choice between golf or tasting whisky go for the latter as the whisky gods are far more powerful than the golfing gods.

Dram on

David

2 June 2015