Tag Archives: Usquebaugh Society

Whisky Review: Cadenhead Highland Park 22 Year Old Sherry Cask (BTC 2015 Day 5)

Captain Log, Day 5: After I managed to scrape off 20 points yesterday for correct region, I hope to build upon it and maybe even have a successful day with a high score. This dram felt like a high proof young dram, but the region and distillery alluded me. I was torn between three optoins: a SMWS bottling from a Speyside distillery, a young Bladnoch from The whisky broker or maybe some weird Islands bottling (Arran or HP). Eventually I went for the Lowlands route. Not sure if it was the smart decision.

Update: Ugh ūüė¶ I was so far off the mark and even high ABV guess was off and so, another zero pointer. I just can’t stop shaking my head at this weird dram. A 22 yo Highland Park that was distilled in 1992 and bottled December 2014 – it didn’t feel like a Highland park at all nor a sherry cask.

Cadenhead Highland Park 22 Year Old Sherry Cask (59.6%, 234 bottles, ~‚ā¨173)

cadenhead highland park 22 wood series sherry caskNose: Freshly cut grass, sweet honey with sour edge, nutty, white pepper, limestone and chalk. with time: flowers and perfume, red fruit, stronger limestone/chalk. With water: fruitier, a lot of citrus and a tad more perfume.
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Whisky Review: The Whisky Agency Ben Nevis 1995 18 Year Old (Blind Tasting Competition 2015 Day 4)

Day 4 of the Blind Tasting Competition 2015 and following the zero points day yesterday, I hope to get back on the horse back today and get some points. I was confused by the greenery on the palate and wondered if it may be a lowlander (Bladnoch or Littlemill), but other than that it felt like a highlander which led me towards Balblair distillery. I went for Balblair 2003 vintage and 46%.

Update: At least I got the region correctly… It’s Ben Nevis 18 bottled by The Whisky Agency back in 2013. The Hogshead yielded 242 and I’m sure I won’t be the only one checking shops for a bottle that was forgotten on a high shelf.

Ben Nevis 1995 18 Year Old by The Whisky Agency (51.8%, 242 bottles)

the whisky agency ben nevis 18 1995-2013

Photo credit: whiskybase.com

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Whisky Review: Duncan Taylor Auchindoun 2008, Kininvie 7 Year Old (Blind Tasting Competition 2015 Day 3)

After two days with some points, comes the dread of a dead¬†day where you try your best and ends up with nothing to show for it, getting zero points. Day 3 sample was weird. It started nicely with a springbank funky note so I initially went with this guess. But when I came back and re-tasted it, the picture changed dramatically.¬†Based on the sum of the notes I was left in the dark – Campbeltown? Isle of¬†Jura? Maybe some laddie? I went with 12yo Jura at 50%. I know there’s no such bottling but maybe it will net me some points.

Update: Holy crap! Seriously? Kininvie? It’s a blended/teaspooned Kininvie called Auchindoun. It was finished for 7 months in a Sherry Octave Cask¬†#289787 before it was bottled, and I think it was a grave mistake – they¬†shouldn’t have bother to bottle it… and what I dreaded came, zero points today and I hope tomorrow will be better!

Duncan Taylor Auchindoun 2008, Kininvie 7 Year Old¬†(52%, 113 bottles,¬†‚ā¨58.95)

Auchindoun kininvie 7Nose: Initial nosing had a dirty note and subtle peat, grassy, green tomatoes and a dash of honey. On the second tasting it was less funky and had a diluted and mellowed wine’n’peat, dash of heather honey. vinegary, malty. Continue reading

Whisky Review: Old Pulteney 17 Year Old (Blind Tasting Competition 2015 Day 2)

Second day of the Blind Tasting Competition 2015 with another hard to guess whisky. I sniffed and tasted my sample before day 1 dram was announced and I was banking it to be a speysider but now we know it cannot be one after Glenfarclas 25 was day 1 dram. Tough life of BTC’ers!

Upon initial tasting I thought it’s a 17-18 year old whisky and with lower ABV than #1 and estimated it at 46-50. I re-tasted it and it feels like a low ABV one, but since #1 was 43% I’m going for 43% here as well because it’s the minimum ABV for the competition. I also guessed a reduced¬†age of¬†15 and went with Dalwhinnie as my distillery (good guess as any other Highlands distillery!), ¬†and I’m probably gonna totally fail with that guess.

Update: Bah, I should have paid attention to the salt note there and think of Old Pulteney 17. My visit recap definitely had similar notes for the 17 yo. Gotta be more thorough!

Old Pulteney 17¬†(46%,¬†¬£49.99/‚ā¨69.99)

old-pulteney-17-years-oldNose: Initial impression screams speyside! But we know it’s not a speysider, arggghhhh! At first it’s a bit spicy with ginger, nutty, sweet fruit (mostly red apples), a touch of red berries, toffee, dry and thin.¬†Light honeycomb,¬†oak wood spices. After it breaths for a while there are pink grapefruits, oranges with some soft perfume edge. With water: more grapefruits and sweeter and at last there’s some body here and it’s not so thin. Continue reading

Whisky Review: Glenfarclas 25 Year Old (Blind Tasting Competition 2015 #1)

It’s December, that time of the year with holidays in the western world, and the annual blind tasting competition of the Dutch Usquebaugh Society club. Last year I participated for the 1st time and managed to finish at the very respectable 21st place and I hope to retain that place or improve upon it¬†a bit but I’m afraid it will be harder this year ūüôā

Today’s the first dram of the competition, so we know zlich about it. We can’t even eliminate a whisky zone like in the¬†other days, supposedly¬†making¬†it¬†the hardest guess. But as you can see from the notes below, I immediately thought of Glen Garioch with that ginger spicy note and so I trusted my gut feeling and guessed Glen Garioch. But which bottling? Can they dare and go for the club bottling that most of the participators have and tried? what age? what ABV? ¬†There’s some oh so slight peatiness so if it’s Glen Garioch, it has to predate 1996, making it at least 20 year old. It felt quite matured but the spiciness can mislead so I went for 22 year old (maybe I should have go for 25?). ABV? It’s strong, and I can’t point at a specific bottling so I guessed 55%. Will I get some points?

Update: Bah! It’s Glenfarclas 25 Year old at 43%. I wasn’t far from the true age and totally failed with the ABV. Also, Glenfarclas 25? I did have it in the past and even reviewed it as part of Glenfarcas vertical tasting here but this one has barely any sherry influence – maybe composition changed a bit since I bought it 2 years ago? At least I did get some points and that’s a successful day in my book!

Glenfarclas 25 Year Old (43%,¬†¬£108/‚ā¨99.95 (NL only)/‚ā¨119.99)

glenfarclas-25Nose: Starts spicy with lots of ginger and honey. hints of peat and smoke. It’s a bit chewy and resinous and I feel dryness below the surface with dry, dark yet sweet honey and limestone/minerals. Slowly it gets fruity with red apples, pears, mild apricots and peaches and after a lot of time in the glass, red berries and a bit of chocolate. Further on: candied oranges. Continue reading

Lagavulin Feis Ile 2014 Review and Notes: How and why you taste whisky makes a BIG difference

This post has been in the works for a while as this whisky was a bit of a roller-coaster experience.

Back in May 2014, a full Feis Ile bottles share was organized by me and a few buddies led by Chris¬†who did all the hard work of going to Islay and collecting them all (Thanks again Chris!). As whisky geeks,¬†we were curious to taste them all but without going bankrupt (as the average bottle price was about ¬£100). By the time I got my share it was almost¬†unanimously agreed upon, by the other shares members and the general whisky community, that the Lagavulin bottling is the best of them all and it even surpassed the 2013 bottling. As I’ve tasted the 2013 one and it was utterly divine, I was eager to try the 2014 one. I tried¬†a full flight on my Feis Ile 2014 bottlings, keeping the Lagavulin and Octomore to the end, but my palate was tired, so by the¬†time I got to the Lagavulin I only wrote general impression:

Nose: Matured and balanced with peat and sherry.

Palate: Peat and sweet sherry.

Basically it felt balanced and lovely. Good combo of peat and sweet sherry. I then decided to keep the rest of my share for another¬†tasting (where I could take proper tasting notes) later that week. Alas, life and other samples intervened and¬†it didn’t happen and that bottle was gathering dust in my cupboard.

Then the Usquebaugh Society Blind Tasting competition happened.

The Lagavulin Feis Ile 2014 was #17 and these are the tasting notes I wrote down:

Lagavulin Feis Ile 2014 (54.7%)

(Blind tasting notes)

lagavulin-feis-ile-2014Nose: Bites and punchy, honey, fruits, quite heavy. After a minute or two there is peat and then smoke. With even more time it recedes and we get sweet fruity notes, stone fruits, almonds. Continue reading

Whisky Review: Imperial 1995 Signatory Cask Strength Collection for Astra Morris (Usquebaugh Society BTC 2014 #18)

The Usquebaugh Society¬†BTC2014 is almost done. one last blind tasting tonight and it’s over. I really hope to get some points tonight to finish on a positive note!

Below you’ll find my notes (Nose/Palate/Finish) as written before the bottle revelation but here’s what I guessed it to be and why:

I went for Clynelish, 20 yo 56.5%. The wax and salt pointed me at this distillery and the ABV felt mid fifties. ¬†Age is the big issue for me – it can be a 17-18 Year old from a very good cask or some mid twenties bottling. I had my eyes on one specific bottling but instead of going all in on this one, I’ve decided to spread out a bit and prepare¬†for the unexpected and get some points if I’m a bit wrong (despite losing points if I am¬†right).

Update: It’s Imperial 1995. Oh well. ¬†Anyway I’m finishing the competition with 457 points points, place #21 out of 73 – almost top 20! (and also won the side bet with a few friends ūüôā )

Imperial 1995 Signatory Cask Strength Collection for Astra Morris (52.4% / )

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Whisky Review: Ledaig 2005 Whisky-F√§ssle (Usquebaugh Society BTC 2014 #4)

Fourth day of the competition and finally we get a peated whisky. But before we jump into the instant obvious conclusion, are we sure it’s an Islay peated one or not? You just can’t trust the organizers… ūüôā

Below you’ll find my notes (Nose/Palate/Finish) as written before the bottle revelation but here’s what I guessed it to be and why:

I went for Caol Ila 18yo 463% . It’s peated but there’s no harsh peat and ashes so I believe it’s not a southern Islay distillery (single casks aside). Also no a Kilchoman or bowmore (didn’t feel any tropical fruits). The profile reminded me my old Caol Ila 12 that got tired over time and losing some of the peat punch so I decided to go with the older version of 18yo as the age helps mellowing the peat and strengthen¬†the sweet notes from the casks. It also didn’t feel too strong and I felt it’s a 43-46% one, and CI 18yo fits the bill. I debated with myself it may be some Ledaig, but decided to stick with Caol Ila. I have probably¬†made a fool of myself with this guess ūüôā

Update:¬†Ouch! It’s Ledaig, young one and high ABV so again zero points and going down the score ledge ūüė¶

Ledaig 2005 Whisky-Fässle 8 yo (53.3%)

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Whisky Review: Balvenie Single Cask Traditional Oak Cask 15yo (Cask #214) (Usquebaugh Society BTC 2014 #3)

After two polarizing days in the blind tasting competition it’s time to see where the pendulum takes me today: zero points or lots of points.

Below you’ll find my notes (Nose/Palate/Finish) as written before the bottle revelation but here’s what I guessed it to be and why:

I went for Cragannmore 14yo 46% ¬†(while thinking of a signatory bottling). It was clear it’s ex-bourbon cask with vanilla & honey, but it had¬†a growing-over-time sweet floral note and¬†with something mineral underneath it. Immediately I felt it’s a speyside distillery as it wasn’t grassy/lighter enough for lowland and highlands was out of question by the rules. But which one? that was the real question and it was hard. I looked at the notes and eventually went for Cragganmore because of the floral and mineral notes. I felt it wasn’t as mature¬†nor strong¬†as the previous whiskies in the competition so went for 14yo and 46%.

Update: It’s Balvenie single cask 15yo. (cask #214,¬†Distilled: 11.01.1999,¬†Bottled: 13.02.2014)

Well, surprisingly I did quite and¬†got 52 points for region, age and ABV. But Balvenie? The cask profile is very un-Balvenie which I assume was the reason it was included in the game. Nasty curve here ūüôā

Balvenie Single Cask Traditional Oak Cask 15yo (Cask #214) (47.8%, 350 bottles)

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Whisky Review: Kintra Glen Garioch 22yo 1990 (Usquebaugh Society BTC 2014 #2)

I can’t really bask in the glory following my success yesterday. Day 2 of the blind tasting competition is here¬†so there’s no rest for the wicked winner ūüôā

Below you’ll find my notes (Nose/Palate/Finish) as written before the bottle revelation but here’s what I guessed it to be and why:

The initial whiff really confused me. maybe it’s¬†a Port Ellen or Rosebank with bad cask? But all it needed was a bit of time to show the sweet on front. but where is it from? it can be sherry but the sherry spiciness isn’t distinct and it didn’t boast the Oloroso or PX profile and was too sweet for Fino/Amontillado/Manzanilla sherry,¬†so¬†I lean toward wine impact. Hmm, maybe Amarona wine? If so, could it be Arran as they do have OB Amarona finish and there are some single casks around… It could be some highlands malt as well, but unlike yesterday I’ll stick to the first impression and will guess it to be Arran. Age & ABV? Arran doesn’t have over 18yo which are pretty new so will¬†go for 16yo and 48% as it felt weaker than yesterday’s dram.

So to sum up my guess: Arran, 16yo, 48%

Update:¬†Oh well,¬†0 points as it’s Glen Garioch 22yo from Kintra in a sherry butt.

Kintra Glen Garioch 22yo¬†(51.5%,¬†‚ā¨83¬†)

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