Sunday, 27 March 2011

Whisky -Distilleries Tasting Sessions: WDTS

On one side the producers of whisky (distilleries, independent bottlers, importers,...) on the other enthusiasts amateurs and in between, a website and a forum. These are the ingredients of this new project initiated by the site

A harmonious collaboration between these three parties should lead to a collection of honest tasting notes to the first benefit of the whisky consumers in search of information about what bottle they will buy next, for retailers who can guide orders and adjust their stocks according the public taste, and finally for producers who receive direct feedback from whisky fans.

The team of tasters is composed of active members of forum associated with the site. All are whisky lovers, but they have different experience levels. On a panel of twenty tasters, all tastes are represented. Some like fruity whiskies, others have a strong preference for peat, more for sherry, etc.. The set is fairly representative of the passionate public taste.

How are those WDTS sessions organized?

The principle is that the whisky producers who want to see their production reviewed by our team of tast

ers distributed to the 4 corners of France, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands sent a bottle of their choice.

Once 6 bottles are brought together, these bottles are transferred into vials of a few cl and shipped home to the tasters. They then produce their tasting notes and assign a rating on a scale of 100 to each whisky tasted. In addition, they score more vague, something like excellent, very good, good, mediocre or bad, to overcome the shortcomings of a rating, where each uses a bit its own value. It is not a scientific exercise, but the operation is meant to express their preferences for a whisky to another.

After 3 to 4 weeks, all notes are centralized and published on the site. Besides tasting notes some other data are also published:

  • an average of the ratings
  • by whisky, the lowest rating and highest (that is where we see the diverse tastes of participants)
  • the difference between the lowest rating and highest (the higher the difference, the lower the whisky is consensual)
  • the personal hit parade of each taster, and some elements of their profile (average the points awarded, etc. ...)

This project has just begun. We have so far received 6 bottles and the top 3 is on the front page of the site. A test session has been conducted before the first session. The principle was exactly the same, except that we ourselves have purchased the bottles for the first time. In the following weeks, the second session will be also published.

Here is the address where you can see the results:

Sunday, 20 July 2008

When distilleries select Single Casks: Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich does not want to be absent of the market of high quality Single Cask bottlings, and they will market their new "Vintage Reserve" at the end of the summer.
The selection has been made by a panel of whisky specialists. Two whisky writers (Walter Schober and Erkin Touzmohamedov) and two head chefs of restaurants in London and New York (Gavin Smith and Jim Bradley). The selected bottling will be presented by the brand ambassadors from begin September and will be sold in the best whisky shops from the begin of the automn.
The selection is based on a pre-selection made by the master blender and his assistent: David Stuart and Brian Kinsman. They selected 6 sherry casks, 3 from 1975 and 3 from 1977.

Pictures have been made during this selection. Just click here to see them.

3 films are also avaibable:

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Tasting some new bottlings for Dutch market

I just received some samples of new bottlings for the Dutch market. Independent bottlings from Duncan Taylor and Gordon & MacPhail for Van Wees.

Duncan Taylor

Glen Grant 1969-2008

Such a spicy nose is rather unusual. Sherry hints, lots of pepper, some wood, a touch of liquorice and ripe fruit announcing a great whisky.
In the palate, the first impression is some clear acid bitterness, hints of yeast and wood developing slowly on better balance. The first sip is quite deceiving, but fortunately develops well.
The finish is very long, nicely balanced between the memories of the fruit and those of the wood. Nicer than the mouth was.
Nose and finish are excellent, palate is just good.

Gordon & MacPhail (Reserve collection)

Highland Park 1997-2008

Quite a strange nose, dominated by hints of yeast trying to hide some floral smells giving this whisky a clear undergrowth smell.
The palate is relatively more interesting, despite its rather woody taste and its discrete notes of cough drop. A clear presence of alcohol and some fruity notes.
The finish is long and warm. This finish is clearly better than the mouth. Just a pity it is impossible to enjoy the finish without having to get the whisky in the mouth.

Tamdhu 1973-2008

Quite a spicy nose with pleasant hints of malt and a touch of smoke. Interesting nose, but not transcendent.
The palate is very pleasantly complex, developing gently on sherry notes mixed wit nutty hints. Nice notes of slightly acid red fruit (red currant) are present too.
The finish is lingering and warm, marked by notes of ripe fruit and very nice nutty memories.

Rosebank 1991-2008

A typical Lowlands freshness, cut grass and ripe fruits (pear, banana), mentholated notes.
In the palate, a mix of sugared smoothness and citrus acidity, between tangerine and lemon. Very nice complexity and superb development from citrus fruit to much smoother yellow fruits.
The finish is rather long and very fresh with slightly mentholated hints and the fruity notes remain

Glenturret 1998-2008

An unpleasant smell of yeast or powdered insecticide dominates the first nose. And this nose does not develop a lot even if some discrete fruit touches appear after a while.
The mouth is just a combination of yeast and fruit.
The finish is long and warm and still haunted by this yeasty impression and reveals the oily character of this whisky, which was not obvious in the palate.

Benromach 2000-2008

A pleasant mix of peat and smoke combined with some animal hints announce a nice dram.
A beautiful oily peat characterises the palate which is quite pleasant even if not really complex. The high percentage of alcohol does not hinder.
The finish remains very oily and is quite long, prolonging perfectly the nose and mouth impressions.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Tasting 4 whiskies from Alc-hem-ist

This blog has been inactive for a while now. This is partially due to a crual lack at time... The maintenance of the site www.whisky-distilleries. info and its associated forum are both time consuming activities...
But here are some tasting notes for bottles from an indepedent bottle I just discovered recently: Alc-hem-ist.
Even if Alc-hem-ist is relatively new in the spirit independent bottlers world (not only for single malts, as they market also Calvados and Armagnac), the founder of the society is far to be unknown in this world. It is Mr Gordon Wright. The same Gordon Wright who founded Murray McDavid together with Mark Reynier and Simon Coughlin and who is a member of the new direction of Bruichladdich, after it re-opening in 2000.
Gordon is also a member of the Mitchell family who owns the Springbank distillery.All single malts are bottled at 46%. I have had the pleasure to taste 4 single malts in this series. The general impression is that the whiskies in this range are quality whiskies at fair prices. Which seems to become more and more difficult to find nowadays. Price of the bottles is about 45 euros, with an exception which is the Apple Mac I could find at 60 euros. The prices are those of my liquorist who is getting internationaly famous for his fair prices, Van Zuylen.
The tasted bottles are: Highland Park 15 years, Caol Ila 10 years, and two Macallan: a 15 years old and a 16 years old called Apple Mac... as it is a Calvados finish.

Highland Park, 15 years

The nose is both fresh and smoky. Smells of heather and an amazing salty and minty freshness recalling the "Fisherman's friend" drops make soon room for a very pleasant smell of green apple.
The mouth is very fresh, with hints of freshly (and sweet) cut grass developing slowly on cashew nut notes and then on ripe fruit. The texture of the mouth is particularly oily.
The finish is very long and pleasantly balanced between nutty notes and chocolate.
This Highland Park is an excellent introdution to the series and gives an idea of the potential of the collection.
Caol Ila 1996 (10 years)
The nose is clearly marked by a smell of oily peat and some sea hints.
In the palate, a nice smoke and a beautiful variation on one unique theme: peat., even though rather discrete. Despite a kind of monotony, this mouth remains rather complex. Pleasant and smooth.
The finish is rather long and remains on the same register as nose and mouth, which gives it quite a smooth character.

Macallan 1990 (15 years)
A both fruity and malty nose with quite discrete hints of chocolate.

The mouth is dominated by pleasant notes of cooked plum and chocolate. Amazing mouth, pleasant and rather complex, even if it remains on a quite limited tastes palette.
The finish is lingering and warm, and the memory of chocolate notes remains for long minutes.

The last bottle of the series was also the only deception. But this is probalby due to the fact it is a finition, and that I genarally do not like cask finishes...

Macallan 16 ans, Apple Mac ( Calvados finish)

The nose is very fresh and could be the one of an excellent Lowlands. Hay and green apple, hints of smoke.

The mouth is rather complex, dominated by a smooth mix of apples, malt and toffee, and seems quite far away from the nose impressions. Strangely complex and rather far from traditional Macallans.

The finish is pervasive with its after tastes of toffee intermixed with hints of chocolate and nuts. This finish clashes with the rest of the tasting and is close to be unpleasant.