I taste a lot of flights, a lot of outturns, where I am comparing many different (usually cask strength) whiskies from different distilleries in one sitting. The trick there is to consume as little as possible whisky, the maximum being 1cl, bigger outturns are one sip neat, one sip with water. This allows me to assess and make notes for a whole outturn (over the course of a few hours with lots of water) without becoming drunk and unable to smell and taste properly. I do enjoy it, it appeals to the archivist in me (hence this blog) but it’s not exactly “drinking” or a fun night out, when I’m with people and doing it I kind of have to stop talking and concentrate. It isn’t very sociable.
So I was very interesting in taking part in this tasting. Longrow Ed has been doing an in-depth tasting of bottles for a while now, where he and two friends test a whole bottle “to destruction” over the course of a whole evening. The exact opposite of my usual approach. Each person tastes 225ml of the bottle over the course of 5 drams (4 * 50ml + 25ml) and a few hours and makes whatever notes they like. You get to see how it develops over time and can spot the exact point at which your palate expires! Mine was during the 4th for sure.
This time it was a Micro Provenance Bruichladdich, finished in Brunello wine cask, bottled for Belgium and bought at auction by Ed. A beautiful thing.
Bruichladdich Micro Provenance, 1992, 18 years old, 51.2% A⊕
Moved to Brunello wine cask on 17.01.07
Bottled 21.09.10 for Belgium, 288 bottles
My score (A⊕) remained the same throughout the night, so I won’t report it each dram (although I did record it)
Dram 1 (left to breath for 30 minutes)
Nose - Sharp red wood, cherry wood, some joss sticks, A lovely balance of wood (astringent, confident, fruit wood). Quite earthy, herbal - bamboo? There's a slightly young note in this dram. With water, slightly more mineral, the young note subsides. Really delicious.
Body - Quite sharp, lots of varnish, surprisingly warm and soft with it though. Warmed cherry jam. Beautifully rich but highly wooded and really delicious. Then lots of red wine, slightly spicy, some refreshers. Really opening up with the wine with water - gentle red wine, light spice and black pepper.
Finish - Lovely sweet cereal. Reasonably short but there's a lingering liquorice and fizzing refreshers.
Body - Sweeter and better rounded now, more of the refreshers. Quite a lot of tannins. But glazed… boiled sweets, toffee apple. The red wine is present but very well integrated; aniseed gobstoppers and cherries. A wonderful balance between wood, wine and sweetshop.
Finish - Really balanced sweetness.
This is a really beautiful, complex, drinkable, confident whisky. Interesting how the hard edges are worn off with my palate coated in this whisky, and the wine and fruit come through more.
More nutty now with hard toffee, mouth filling, slightly chalky, and finally some chocolate. Just absolutely delicious.
A lot more tannic. My palate is gone now though.
As you can imagine there was a lot more talking and a lot less writing notes by the end, which is a great way to taste a whisky – appreciate it as a taster first and then a drinker. It’s also quite liberating to not be left with a bottle at the end!
The next time I’ll do it will be with a Longrow in Chardonnay cask, can’t wait.