Monday 1 February 2010

Islands of Scotland

The new year didn't properly kick off until last week, with the first Irish Whiskey Society tasting of 2010.

Scottish native (and founder of the society) Michael Foggarty brought us on a tour around the coast of Scotland, stopping at each island distillery along the way. The whiskies had nothing particular in common but they were individually interesting and the clockwise progression helped to fix a little better in my mind the geography of that country.

Aside from the Talisker, all of the bottlings were new to me. We tried:
  • Arran 1997 Single Cask: I have been to an all-Arran tasting before and really didn't take to their base malt. This Arran, however, was a single cask independent bottling and quite different to the whisky I remembered.

    My Rating: 7.5

  • Bunnahabhain Darach Ùr: Aged in new oak, slightly peaty. I didn't like this but it was notable for a certain saltiness, the first time I've ever found that in a whiskey.

    My Rating: 5

  • Jura Superstition: Michael described this as "rubbery" and that was spot on. Awful. Nobody liked it.

    My Rating: 3

  • Ledaig 15yo: A fine whisky, I reckoned the only flaw was the still raw, slightly peated taste. Happily the same distillery produces an unpeated version under the Tobermory label so now I'm on the lookout to try that.

    My Rating: 7.5

  • Talisker 10yo: Not for me, but many liked it.

    My Rating: 5

  • Scapa 16yo: This was a curious one. An unusual soft taste that I didn't quite get a handle on. Intriguing. This was voted favourite of the night, though not by me.

    My Rating: 7

  • Highland Park 18yo: I've never heard a bad word said about Highland Park 18yo so my expectations were already high. And yes, it's excellent. Easily my favourite of the seven and the only one I would readily buy a bottle of. Michael also recommended the Highland Park 12yo as the best value whisky in the world, so I'll have to seek that out too.

    My Rating: 8.5
All in all, it was a great start to the Irish Whiskey Society's year. Lots more good stuff is planned so keep an eye on our events page.

2010 will also be remembered as the year the society went global. Our newest member is none other than Mr Rich Nagle of the Sláinte Irish Whiskey Blog, who came all the way from Boston for the meeting on Thursday (OK, not just for that!). We all enjoyed meeting him and trading ideas on the future of the society. I also suspect that Irish whiskey export figures will show a spike around the same time he departed Ireland.