Blind Tasting – Guess that Dram!
I participated in the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s June Outturn preview tasting this past weekend. I’m a recent new member and thought this would be the best opportunity to try everything before considering a purchase of any of the new bottles. I’ve sampled a fair number of SMWS releases in the past but these will just be first impressions.
All of the whiskies were poured well in advance of the tasting so they were well rested. I did add 5 drops of water to see if any changes occurred. The order of my notes is in the same order as the tasting was presented. All samples were blind, however, there were 5 distillery choices to guess from on our cards so some clues as to the region could be inferred.
Glenfarclas 2012 SMWS 1.265 “Oma at the Cinema”
Floral and fruity with loads of honey and cereal grains on the nose. Leather and paraffin wax with an almost crayon-like aroma. As you add water, a more raw honeycomb sweetness comes out.
Very rich and hot oak on the palate. Butterscotch and white pepper. Buttery texture with legs for days in your glass.
Woodshop finish. Wood shavings, textiles, and tannins. The barrel character is full on the finish with a lot of those first-fill charcoal flavors coming out in the oak.
A good dram to open with. I wasn’t super excited about it but wouldn’t call it boring per-se. I at least guessed the age and cask type correctly on my card. I haven’t had many Glenfarclas bottles just from ex-bourbon so I’m glad I tried this.
Tomintoul 2012 SMWS 89.17 “Keep Nosing”
The nose on this one only reminds me of orange pumice degreaser. The only thing I use to clean my hands after changing my car oil. Unmistakable Goof-Off/Goo Gone aromas. A big capsaicin hit with a load of baking spices. Cinnamon, clove, and peppercorns. Water tempered the soapy notes and brought some fruit elements with musk melon and underripe pineapple.
Youthful and expressive malt. Leather, prunes, cinnamon red hot candy. It lost the degreaser notes from the nose but replaced them with red hot barrel char. Water further blooms the heat and considering these drams rested for a while, I’m unsure what more this bottle may need.
The finish is thankfully warm and welcoming. Cigar ash, barrel char, wet tobacco leaves. Cinnamon from start to finish. Some grassy elements come out like hay and black tea. Water lessons the alcohols a bit but it’s still very very hot.
My wife immediately put this down and pushed it away from her. I did not get any of the menthols or mint from the official tasting notes. Instead, it felt very heavy on the saponins. Not a good first impression from this distillery for me. I had no idea what to guess for this dram so I was entirely wrong on every aspect.
Teaninich 2008 SMWS 59.69 “Exotic Tantalisation”
This one started off real rough on the nose to me but it perhaps was carry over from the last glass. Wood finish oils and alcohol solvents. Very light oak bringing a delicate white peach aroma. Water really helps this one along bringing out a wonderful apple cobbler and vanilla element.
Grain alcohol or vanilla extract-like flavors and very thin on the palate. Apple brand, clove, and cardamom. Wine esters with some older oak notes make a presence. Water helps but not much. Reminds me of dry cider.
The finish also has poor first impressions. Fruit juice soaked popsicle sticks and pine lumber. Citrus oils and zest. Apples and pear juice blends. Water does a lot to transform the finish. Sweet apple pie and burnt sugars on that buttery crust.
There’s a kind of holiday vibe to this dram. Summer mead paired with a fruit pie. Was surprised as every aspect initially made me turn away but as I dug a bit more it started to grow on me. The finish seems unnecessary as not many flavors or aromas seem to be brought out from the red wine. I may seek out an all ex-bourbon Teaninich to sample in the future. The malt had a wonderful character I’d like to experience without the finish.
Auchroisk 2006 SMWS 95.58 “Sunny Beaches with Hot Sand”
After a short break, we got right into glass number 4. This one oozes this malty, oatmeal raisin and fig cookie aroma. Graham crackers and sugar-dusted freshly fried donuts. Dates, coconut, marzipan. Lots of darker sherry notes.
Creamy, viscous, and quite hot initially. Incredible texture but the profile falls flat a bit for me. Admittedly, this was the first glass I enjoyed so I faded out a bit and just wanted to enjoy the dram. One thing I did notice after adding water was a pleasant aniseed note.
Tannic finish in a very enjoyable way. Oaky dried fruits. Fresh dumped dry wine finish.
Again, I was just really enjoying this glass so while my notes are lacking, it should be clear up to this point that this instantly became my favorite. I want to explore this bottle a bit more and I think this one may be worth purchasing.
Dailuaine 2006 SMWS 41.150 “A Voluptuous Vortex”
Almonds, vanilla, and light roast coffee. Sweet fruits and corn syrup. Expressed lemon oils. Water brings dried fruit and a mixed nut blend. Dried papaya, banana chips, cashews, and toasted hazelnuts.
Very unique flavor on the palate. This slightly savory note like melon rind and pickled sushi ginger. Mirin and rice wine. I was really enjoying the savory, sour notes from this one.
Oh boy, the finish at best can be described as muddy. Rich and full-bodied but not distinctive like I expected. Dry, hot, oak and certainly sherried.
The nose and palate lure you in and the finish just drops you off in the middle of a vaguely familiar road. The stats all look great to me on paper and I would have bought this one blind. I’m a very big fan of Dailuaine but I think this again is where a finish was not needed. It comes through entirely on the finish and ruins the crescendo that was built up on the palate. Unfortunate.
Tobermory 2008 SMWS 42.77 “Smoke from a Burning Drum”
Thank goodness for a peaty end to the night. Immediately I knew this was Ledaig from the nose. Peat, saline, and a new car smell pleather. Maritime beachy air and seashells. If you’ve ever had the displeasure of swimming in the mid-Atlantic, it smells exactly like those not quite warm enough days you got dragged to the beach. Rock salt and copper cap things off on the nose.
Roasted meat. Pulled pork fatty meats. Beach picnic. Heavy minerals, gravel, and bulkhead rocks. Coals, ash, embers. Beach bonfires. Salt rock oysters.
The finish pulled a new one for me with a distinct new bike inner tube smell and flavor. Rubber duckies lost out to sea. Somehow that story has followed me into adulthood. More of that Atlantic ocean sea salt, kelp, and brine.
I enjoy Ledaig so I absolutely nailed this one as a blind. Off by a year on the age is all I missed. Fantastic expression from this distillery and I believe ex-bourbon really shines with Ledaig. This is another bottle I would consider purchasing. If you’re a fan of the 10 year, this brings a lot more briney funk that you’ll enjoy.