Monday, 2 December 2013

TWE Whisky of the Year–The People’s Vote!

Celebrate!  Nearly present time and the whisky world is fully engaged.  The Whisky Exchange’s final tasting of the year is, for the first time, a tasting to decide which of TWE’s staff’s favourite sub-£50 drams are the best.  All of these are sub-50, single malts, no cask strengths, readily available.

We tasted these blind but here’s what they were:

  1. Glencadam 15 year old
  2. Glenmorangie 10 year old original
  3. Benromach 10 year old
  4. Balvenie Doublewood 12 year old
  5. Tamdhu 10 year old
  6. Glenfarclas 15 year old
  7. Kilchoman Machir Bay
  8. Lagavulin 16 year old

While we voted, we tasted a ninthGlengoyne 1990.

photo (1)


Here’s my tasting notes, in tasting order.  All of my notes and ratings are as tasted blind.

Glencadam 15 year old, 46% B


Nose – fresh sherry, a little floral perfume, small tropical note, some wax

Body – Sweet, then harsh bitterness, no mid-range

Finish – More spice, wood, then nothing.

What's not good about it: No midrange, no finish.

What’s good about it: Beautiful nose.

Glenmorangie 10 year old original, 40% B⊖


Nose – Very light, some sherry, elderflower.  Faint tropical nose but not much there.  Bit musty.

Body – Very light, just bitterness, some sweetness first though.

Finish – Actually reasonably long, but not on much.  The initial sweetness fades immediately and you’re left with long bitterness.
What's not good about it: Almost nothing there.  Questioning if this is really whisky.

What’s good about it: Nose is acceptable.

Benromach 10 year old, 43% A


Nose – Light peat, some new wellington boots.  Underneath, fine orchard fruit, red apple, a little aniseed.  Very pleasant, quite light with wet cardboard.

Body – Wet cardboard, fresh, rolling, nice integration.

Finish – Well integrated tannins  Medium finish – quite fine.
What's not good about it: Bit light, not a blockbuster.

What’s good about it: Soft peat, balance is good.

Balvenie Doublewood 12 year old, 40% B+


Nose – Fresh but sour, underneath some deep fruit but a little musky and faint.  Then a sherried note – slightly muted but pleasant.

Body – Rich wood, but then fades.  Sweetness is still there.

Finish – Short but balanced.

c.f. 17yo


Tamdhu 10 year old, 40% A⊖


Nose – sherried, some peat, lots of structure.  Sourness is a little unbalanced, a little rotting apple present.  Underneath, some toffee and malted wood.

Body – Rich, spicy, pepper, but short – then…

Finish – Just an after image of apples and raisins.  Bitterness.

What's not good about it: Disappointing ending but holds balance.

What’s good about it: Great arrival.

Glenfarclas 15 year old, 46% A+


Nose – Like calvados, loads of apple.  Sweet, sour, undertow of wax and wood. 

Body – Sweet malt, rich, balanced, delightful, back with the apple.

Finish – Medium, balanced, very sweet but loads of malt and structure.

I thought this was Arran.

What's not good about it: Nose isn’t very whisky like!

What’s good about it: Lovely palate, good integration.

Kilchoman Machir Bay, 46% A+


Nose – Fresh, balanced, lovely fruit, loads of peat but really easy going and beautifully done.

Body – Harsher peat arrival, not as classy as the nose but still has lovely fruit.

Finish – Not massive but pleasant – has a lovely lingering peat note.

I thought this was Ardbeg.

Lagavulin 16 year old, 43% A+


Nose – Rich with orchard fruit.  Some sugared BBQ.  A little peat whisky soaked raisin.

Body – Rich fruit.

Finish – Long, balanced, beautiful, some bitterness at the end.

I thought this was Bowmore.


Glengoyne 1990 / 19 Year Old / The Whisky Exchange, 59.6%, A+


Nose – Ripe apple, fresh, rich fruit, sour but underneath the waxy fruit/waxy apple.  With water – more buttery, caramel and that funny plastic blow-up bubble stuff you used to get in metal glue  tubes.

Body – Deep, rich, raisin and apple with sechuan pepper.  Lemongrass.  With water, more richness, well balanced, quite lovely.

Finish – Long, great integration, good oils.

At the end we had to vote for first and second place – I voted Glenfarclas as first, and Lagavulin second (I was debating with Kilchoman in the top two though).

The results across what was probably 50 people was a landslide for Lagavulin and Glenfarclas, so truly the peoples’ choice. 

The Whisky Exchange People’s Vote 2013 winner is:

Glenfarclas 15 year old


In people’s order the whiskies were:

  1. Glenfarclas 15 year old
  2. Lagavulin 16 year old
  3. Kilchoman Machir Bay
  4. Tamdhu 10 year old
  5. Joint fifth Balvenie Doublewood 12 year old, Benromach 10 year old, Glencadam 15 year old
  6. Last, Glenmorangie 10 year old original

Happy xmas Winking smile

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