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“Back to Basics” tasting – Entry level whiskies

Posted by on September 3, 2012

RCWS is growing…we are up to 33 members with an additional 2 who have committed.  A majority of the new members are either budding whisky enthusiast  or new to whisky altogether.  With that being the case, we decided to have a “Back to Basics” tasting.  Meaning, entry level whiskies from distilleries that do not have the brand recognition of say Glenlevit or Glenfiddich.  First let me point out,  Glenfiddich and Glenlevit are fine whiskies and I have several in my collection.  My favorites are  Glenfiddich 15 year old Solara Vat and Glenlevit 21 year old.  However, when you are the number 1 and number 2 scotches in the world, brand recognition comes easily.

On our Back to Basics night we tried: Glenmorangie Original 10 year old ($36.99), Isle of Jura 10 year old ($32.99), Compass Box – Great King Street ($37.99), Highland Park 12 year old ($39.99) and Aberlour 12 year old ($32.99).  Each of these distilleries puts out fine products and each is uniquely different from each other, which is why we chose them.  When it came to the Great King Street, which is a blend, we chose it as a entry level to the higher blended scotches.  Blends can be a tricky bunch.  We didn’t want an entry level such as Scorsby or Clan McGregor (sorry guys).

At the end of the night, after all the scores were tallied, I wasn’t surprised at what finished first, but what finished last.  And the scores themselves threw me a little bit.  There was a 10 point difference between 1st and 2nd place, and a 24 point difference between 2nd and 3rd.  4th and 5th place were separated by 2 points.   The difference between 1st and 5th place was a whopping 51 points.   Our scoring system is pretty simple, each member ranks the whiskies 1 through 5.  We then add them all up.  Like golf, the lower the score the better.

The results:

Glenmorangie – 29 points.

Vanilla and honey palate, a hint of spice in the finish, very smooth.  Mild, subtle, smooth.  Simply good!  hint of banana in the nose.  Very clean, light spice on the finish. Very impressive.  Clean and crisp.

Aberlour – 39 points.

Nutty and toffee on the palate.  Drier, smooth flavorful finish.  Sweet w/hints of fruits, B+.  Great taste and complete.   Good and clean, a favorite!  Spicy finish.  Well balanced, best buy for the price.  Outstanding, smooth and sweet.   Mellow and light smokey finish.

Highland Park – 63 points.

Mild peat, nice sherry balance.  Long and spicy finish.  Light peat and clean finish.  Great taste.  Clean finish and woody flavor.  Earthy, smoother than it smells.  Smokey, peaty finish.  Everything a scotch should be.  Distinct peat taste, but not overwhelming.

Isle of Jura – 78 points.

Raisins and dried fruit on the palate, long finish.  more complex than Glenmorangie, caramel palate.  A solid B.  Has a bite to it, taste changes during finish.  Stronger finish than palate.  Good flavor.  Palate better than the nose, very smooth and dry finish.  Strong and sharp, but not bitter, definitely smoother with water added.

Great King Street – 80 points.

Vanilla creme and peaches on the palate with a moderate finish.    lighter, spicy finish.  Complex, spicy, a B+.  Easy to drink, a nice bite going down.  Spicy on the palate.  Strong finish, spicy.  Good, nice blend for the money.  Simple, smooth, clean and light.  Spicy and long finish.  Fruity tones with light vanilla.

Our next tasting will be Independent Bottler night.


Mark #1


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