Every May, some of the older (founding) members of the Cigar Club like to get together and do a little "sampling". We have tried several good scotch's, and even a few FANTASTIC bottles. Sampling notes, and information can be found on the yearly pages. Our top yearly winners are presently:
Year 1 (2008): Auchentoshan 3 Wood
A Lowland single malt matured in 3 different casks, namely: Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks, bourbon casks and Oloroso sherry. A distinctive triple distilled whisky from Auchentoshan.
Nose: Cooked fruit, sherry, toffee, a rum-like quality and notes of Bas Armagnac distilled circa 1940.
Palate: Rich. Liqueur cherries in dark chocolate, more sherried fruit, ripe dark forest fruits, like a Black Forest Gateaux.
Finish: Superb, led by thick dark treacle and toffee notes and chewy wooded notes, balanced with a green fruit edge
Year 2 (2009): Glenkinchie 1992 Distillers Edition (Lowland)
A 1992 vintage from the Glenkinchie distillery, aged for 14 years in casks which previously held Amontillado sherry.
The nose is very fruity with a gentle sweetness. Some spice and pepper creeps in with a touch of oaked acidity and zesty orange with subtle esters. The palate is warm and rich with sherried notes. A dark, slightly oily nuttiness develops with notes of allspice and a good oak. The finish is of medium length with trailing oak and nutty notes.
Year 3 (2010): Glenfiddich 12 Year
This classic Speyside from Glenfiddich was the Winner of a Gold Medal at the 2007 International Wine and Spirit Competition, aged for 12 years in American and European Oak casks.
Nose: Grain. Slightly floral, mineralic. Spirity, orchard fruit, malty, honey. Citrus develops.
Palate: Light, floral, spices. Very smooth.
Finish: Sweet, touch of oak and general fruit, oily.
Overall: Stereotypical Speyside. Consistent - a good benchmark.
Year 4 (2011): Balvenie 15 Year Single Barrel
Nose: Honey and peach, buttery baked goods, angel food cake, white port wine, honeysuckle and freshly-cut flowers. Butterscotch.
Palate: Rich with honey and marzipan, low-burn. Clear and unmuddied heather at the beginning, middle, and end. Like liquid candy, but not cloyingly so. Delicate and floral on the attack, growing more nutty and with darker cooked-fruit flavors… like peach pie.
Finish: is short, but with a lingering ghost of lilac and yet more honey. This dram makes me want to be a bee in the next life.
Year 5 (2012): Macallan 18 year Single Malt
This new 18 year old expression is the result of a unique combination of both bourbon and sherry oak casks. The result is a soft and rich Macallan with hints of citrus, tropical fruits, spice and wood smoke, delivering a lingering finish with hints of orange zest.
Year 6 (2013): Zeppelin Bend (MI, USA)
1A straight-malt whiskey, twice distilled and aged in new American oak with a heavy char. Notes of vanilla and clove arise from the slightly caramelized spirit leading to a classic American-oak finish.Spirits Style: Straight Malt Whiskey
Spirits Style: Straight Malt Whiskey
Base/Wash: 100% malted barley fermentation done in house
Techniques: Twice distilled to 140 proof. Barreled at 120 proof in heavy-charred American white oak. After a 3-year minimum maturation time in the barrel, the whiskey is transferred out and proofed to 90 proof with deionized water. • Filtered through 3 particulate filters prior to bottling.
Year 7 (2014): Balvenie 12 Year Doublewood
Nose: A close relation to the Founder's Reserve, with extra vanilla and honey plus the subtlest of Oloroso influences. Delicate for its age.
Palate: Sweet and honeyed with intense malt meeting the soft peat and controlled sherry fruitiness.
Finish: Smoky and a little spicy with a bigger vanilla tang.
Comment: A more intense malt than the Founder's Reserve. Despite its finesse, it is just shaded in regard to all-round complexity. Still nothing short of glorious.
Year 8 (2015): Talisker Distiller's Edition
Nose: Interesting notes of rolling tobacco, a little calves leather, marmalade, peppery spices, hints of soft wood smoke and olive oil.
Palate: Spicy and rich with notes of rich fruit, marmalade, malt and oily smoke. Black pepper, basil and nutmeg.
Finish: Good length with notes of pepper, salty butter and toffee.
Comments: The beautiful 2000 vintage Talisker Distillers Edition, finished in Amoroso sherry casks, mixing Talisker's signature peppery peat with juicy sherry.
Country: Scotch Whisky, Region: Island Whisky, Distillery: Talisker, Bottler: Talisker, Age: 10 year old Whisky, ABV: 45.8%
Year 9 (2016): Monkey Shoulder Scotch
Nose: An elegant, stylish nose of marmalade, Crema Catalana (apologies, but it really is there), cocoa and malt. Plenty of vanilla and a sprinkling of winter spice (nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon) alongside a mouth-watering hint of aniseed.
Palate: Very malty, creamy delivery with a suggestion of berry fruit. Juicy toasted barley, cloves and butterscotch. Manuka honey, hot-buttered-toast and dried apricot develop.
Finish: Medium length, spicy oak and a hint of peppermint on the tail.
Country: Scotch Whisky, Region: Scotch Whisky, Distillery: Monkey Shoulder, Bottler: Monkey Shoulder, ABV: 40.0%
Year 10 (2017): Redbreast 12yr Irish Whiskey
Nose: Nutty, rich and oily. There are notes of dried peels, ginger, linseed and cut fruits including a touch of melon.
Palate: Spicy with great body. Nuts and citrus (peel and juice) with hints of marzipan, dried fruits and a hint of Sherry. You turn it over in your mouth forever.
Finish: Long and creamy with custard and spice.
A delightful single pot still Irish whiskey, Redbreast 12 is highly praised by Jim Murray and a host of other notable critics. Named 'Overall Irish Whiskey of the Year' at the 2013 Irish Whiskey Awards, we can't get enough of it.
Country: Irish Whiskey
Bottler: Irish Distillers
Age: 12 year old Whisky
Year 11 (2018): Macallan Edition No. 2
Nose: Mocha, brown sugar, a spark of ginger and some oak-y warmth.
Palate: Notes of Sherried raisins and dried citrus peels develop, a hint of vegetal oak. Still a little chocolate-y.
Finish: Spiced fruit cake and lemon peels.
The second release from the Macallan Edition series is a collaboration between Master Whisky Maker Bob Dalgarno and the three brothers behind El Celler de Can Roca (named Best Restaurant in the World twice by Restaurant magazine). This single malt was drawn from a combination of European and American oak casks.
Country: Scotch Whisky, Region: Speyside Whisky, Distillery: The Macallan, Bottler: The Macallan, Age: 14 year old Whisky, ABV: 48.2%
Year 12 (2019): Lagavulin Distillers Edition
Nose: Immediate notes of hay, dark fruit (plums), and chocolate greet the olfactory system. A bit deeper in are the more expected peaty notes of smoke and brine.
Palate: Upon entry, the first sensation I notice is how rich and chewy this whisky is. The development is full of smoke, peat, chocolate, and dark fruit all in excellent harmony with one another.
Finish: Long. Smoky and chocolaty. Hints of smoked meats and peat dance around the edges. The finish is absolutely wonderful and leaves my mouth watering for more.
The “Distiller’s Edition” is a yearly release put out by several of Diageo’s single malt distilleries including Oban, Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Caol Ila, Cragganmore, and Talisker. For each distillery, the concept behind the “Distiller’s Edition” releases is the same: take the standard release single malt and finish it for a short period of time in a sherry cask. In Lagavulin’s case, their 16 year old whisky (which has aged almost entirely in refill bourbon casks) is given a very short secondary maturation in Pedro Ximenez sherry butts.
Country: Scotch Whisky, Region: Islay Whisky, Distillery: Lagavulin, Bottler: Lagavulin, Age: 16 year old Whisky, ABV: 43.0%
Year 13 (2020):
Single Malt, Blend and Single Grain - Don't Ever be Confused Again
PUBLISHED IN SCOTCH, WHISKY, SINGLE MALT, BLEND
How many times have you seen this happen in a movie: A character walks into a bar and orders “Scotch”. Immediately, he's given a tumbler of some unidentifiable golden liquid.
What the writers of these shows must not understand is that Scotch has at least a few subcategories (not to mention hundreds of different brands!):
1. Single Malt
- Perhaps the most well known category besides Blended Malts is the single malt. This category stands for around 10% of the Scotch market.
- This is a malt containing only one grain, legally required to be barley in Scotland, and made at a single distillery.
- Malting means the grains have been soaked in water, allowing them to germinate and are then dried with hot air.
- This encourages the productions of enzymes that change starches into sugars.
- There are many different regulations surrounding the production of single malt to ensure they are consistent and of good quality.
- It must be made from malted barley at a single distillery, distilled in pot stills and has to be aged in oak barrels for at least three years. Phew!
- Some of the most popular Single Malt brands are Glenfiddich, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin
- Blended Whisky is the biggest selling category of Whisky across the globe and accounts for the majority of malt made in Scotland.
- Amazingly, blends account for around 80% of the Scotch market.
- This is basically what it says on the tin. A blended Scotch is a combination of different malts from different distilleries.
- It is typically made from grain Whisky but does include malt Whisky to give it a more complex body.
- Malt is fuller in flavour than grain Whiskies but grain Whiskies are cheaper and more efficient to produce.
- Blends bring the two together, and create a wonderful combination of them.
- Like Single Malt, blends must be matured for at least three years before it can be legally called Blended Scotch.
- Most popular blended Whiskies are Ballentine’s and Johnnie Walker.
3. Blended Malt
- Accounting for around 8% of the Scotch market are blended malts. This type of Scotch isn’t very common and is easily confused with Blended Whisky.
- The two are similar in that they are both a combination of different Whiskies from different distilleries, however, unlike a blend, blended malt can only be made from barley.
- It is sometimes referred to as “vatted” or “pure” malt, a nod to the process of blending and the strict “only malt allowed” definition.
- Blended malts include Johnnie Walker Green Label and Monkey Shoulder.
4. Grain Whisky
- Holding the smallest market share, at only around 2% is Grain Whisky.
- This is Whisky made from grains other than barley, usually wheat, maize or rye.
- This type of Whisky tends to be slightly less flavourful than malt and as such is usually combined with malt in the making of blends.
- Like malt, grain Whisky can be bottled as either single grain, if it is from one distillery, or blended, if it is from more than one distillery.
- Grain Whiskies are mostly produced in a column still and are bottled at a higher ABV (Alcohol by Volume).