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Ewan’s Whisky Night – 2012

Whisky night in the Director’s Room

22 June 2012

For 15 of my family and friends, it was that time again. This year however brought a new format and venue, the Director’s Room at the Merchants House of Glasgow on George square. In previous years we tasted in flights and had intervals but this year we decided to match foods as we tasted. Here’s how it went:

Hello and welcome to my Whisky Night.  Some new and some old faces, just like the whisky!!

Please enjoy your aperitif tonight, it is a Glengoyne 10-year-old with apple juice, thanks to Jamie (Glenfiddich) for that cocktail recipe.

Please pick up a glass & a bottle of water and feel free to try what you like. The food matches are just suggestions.

Tonight’s theme is a journey which includes:

  • Whisky distillers current trend with fine wine cask finishes.
  • Aged Single Grain to rival Single malts?
  • And also, we have the winners & losers of 2012 in the whisky world.

A quick tour of the table:

The Director’s room, Merchants House

Stars of the show:

Johnnie Walker Green label (15yrs) Blended Malt 43%

Octomore Comus 4.2 (5 years d’Yquem finish) 62%

Glengoyne Teapot Dram (9 years sherry casks) 58.8%

Glenmorangie Artein (15-year-old Sassicaia finish) 46%

Old Pulteney 21-year-old 46%

Glenfiddich ‘Age of Discovery’ 19 yrs Madeira finish 40%

‘The Two’ Deanston(15yrs Port pipe finish) 60%

Port Dundas 20-year-old Single Grain 57.4%

Clan Denny 33-year-old Single Grain 54.2%

Good Spirits MacDuff 11-year-old 54.6%

First we say farewell to a chapter of Johnnie Walker family legacy, with the Green Label being replaced by the soon to be released Platinum Label.

Johnnie Walker Green Label

 Although only launched in 2004, it has been popular mid-range product. Green Label is a blend of  four signature Diageo single malt distilleries: Talisker, Linkwood, Cragganmore & Caol Ila – It scored 95 points in the Whisky Bible Awards 2010 & 2012: Scotch Vatted Malt of The Year. No food match for this, just to savour on its own right. This was just a gentle opener before the big guns ahead.

Octomore with smoked mussels

Second up is Briuchladdich’s bold new Octomore Comus 4.2, an extraordinary dram that defies convention with such high PPM levels (peat per million) of 167 being balanced exquisitely by the elegance of the most noble of ‘Noble Rots’ Chateau d’Yquem casks. Named Comus who was the son of Roman god of wine Bacchus. With Pat and I just back from a tour of Chateau d’Yquem in Sauternes, we had with permission, brought a 20cl sample of the 2008 vintage (£500 a bottle). This was swirled and wafted under the nose of our guests, allowing a sniff into an incredible history. The dram itself was quite exceptional. Paired with delicious Kintyre smoked mussels, this proved to be a flavour explosion in the mouth and caused quite a reaction among the group. This opened the conversation floodgates for the evening.

Teapot Dram with coconut biscuits

Then there’s the ‘TeaPot Dram’, homage to Glengoyne’s daily dram that the Distillery staff enjoyed up until the 80’s three times a day from a copper teapot in the distillery canteen. However, if the younger men didn’t want one of their drams they would pour it into the old copper teapot and the more “seasoned” drinkers would then help themselves to additional drams from the teapot throughout the day – everyone was happy. Rich, dark and sweet this paired well with light coconut macaroon biscuits but also have matches well with cured meats like the Great Glen Game’s – Bresaola depending on your sweet or savory palate.

Glemorangie Artein

The new Glenmorangie Artein Private Edition is finished in Sassicaia Barrels, otherwise known as ‘SuperTuscan’ a famously expensive  uncategorised Bordeaux style red wine from Tuscany. Artein is Gaelic for stone and is named in recognition of the limestone-filtered water used and the rocky terrior. This was served with Great Glen Game’s – Venison Bresaola. The gamey meat paired well with rich, fruity and minty notes. This led me to think it could go with other favourite mint combinations like lamb etc.

Next up was Old Pulteney 21 year old caused quite a stir when it won ‘Best Whisky of the Year’ in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2012. This needed no introduction and curiosity was high for some who had not tried it. This mix of fino sherry and bourbon refill cask finish proved a perfect balance of sweet, spicy, citrus & salty. We paired with Great Glen Game’s Venison Salami with white pepper which was a fantastic match. The whisky’s high accolade was merited with some but not so for others, a mixed reaction but it matched with the meat beautifully.

Glenfiddich Age of Discovery

Glenfiddich ‘Age of Discovery’ 19 yrs Madeira finish 40% made in honour of the Portuguese explorers of the 15th century. This was very kindly donated by Jamie from Glenfiddich and proved very popular dram. It felt at home in setting with Merchants ships etc. We served with madeira cake but I also recommended pairing with Époisses de Bourgogne (Napoleons favourite cheese). With rich dried fruits and classic Christmas cake flavours. However, Jamie also recommended with Peking Duck with hoisin/plum sauce (I tried at a later date and quite agree).

Deanston 15 port pipe finish

Then came the first of a trio of interesting drams from my cousin Sam. ‘The Two’ ‘Smooth & Red’ is a Deanston 1993 is a 15yrs Port pipe finish from WoodWinters. This was quite a dram, with the last 18 months in Port pipe giving its ruby-red colour. This was served with Divine dark chocolate with raspberries and cream custard biscuits complimenting its taste. This intrigued the group and again had the group divided.

Port Dundas Single Grain 20 years

Port Dundas 20-year-old Single Grain 57.4% which closed in 2010, but bottled in 2011, an aged single grain. The modern trend for aging single grains has been growing recently and was an exciting prospect. Aged in three very different cask woods; ex-sherry, first fill American oak & charred European oak. This rich, dark, pine with spicy-sweet bourbon flavour went well with the Great Glen Game smoked Venison. This proved the better of the single grain offerings and good benchmark aged grain.

Clan Denny Single Grain 33 years

A Clan Denny 33-year-old Single Grain 54.2% was our second single grain but longest aged most had ever tried at 33 years. This would be a rare outing, with most never trying such an aged grain before. Rich sweet almost rum like flavour, we paired with Profiteroles. This proved very popular but maybe for the sweet dessert than the dram itself. Both single grains were good, but by the groups reaction to their finishes, the jury is still out with aged grains.

MacDuff 11 with After Eights

So last on the list was The Good Spirits 1st year anniversary bottling an 11-year-old MacDuff, bottled by the creative whisky co and mysteriously little info but sherry cask suggestions. This was chosen at the last-minute by a chance tasting at the Potstill with Glenn who insisted we tried. He was very excited about this dram and I can understand why. It doesn’t look much from the packaging but what a dram it proved to be. Thankfully I picked up a bottle from the guy’s at the Good spirits co before they sold out! This paired with After Eight mints and was a great success.

Throughout the tasting we had some other accoutrements to compliment the whisky. From foam bananas, popcorn, toffee, coconut peanuts, meats and cheeses. These were designed to show how well food and whisky can be together.

flavours in whisky

Every year, I usually finish on something a little different like 2009 – Buffalo Trace Bourbon, 2010 – Wild Turkey Rare Breed, 2011- Ron De Jeremy Rum. But this year, a little unorthodox but in keeping with the fine wine finishes and having just returning from Bordeaux, I decided to finish on a high:

A chilled glass of Sauternes – dessert wine Chateau du Levant 2008. This was very well received after so many high alcohol whiskies and left a sweet taste to a thoroughly enjoyable and interactive evening.

a marriage made in heaven

With so many show stoppers on one table, for the 15 whisky enthusiasts it was difficult to choose a favourite. From the tasting notes handed out at the beginning, the guy’s did a show of hands and it seemed that the 3 favourites of the night were:

Glenfiddich Age of Discovery       Glenmorangie Artein       Bruichladdich’s Octomore 4.2 Comus

Thanks to all the guys for a great night, special thanks to my pal Paddy helping organise, cousin Sam & Jamie of Glenfiddich for special whisky’s. If you are interested in my Whisky and Food matching for an event, please get in touch.

Until next time, Sláinte mhaith!

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