Have a Very Sherry Christmas!

Posted on Sunday, Dec 11, 2011 at 10:29 PM

Ho ho ho! It's that time of year again, when we throw together a bunch of delicious-looking sherried malts, drink them, and then sit haughtily in judgment over them.

Well, maybe not quite -- only a couple of the guys qualify as haughty. The rest are... naughty? Wait, that didn't sound right...

Anyhow, we blind tasted eight sherried malts, beginning with a Whisky Agency Private Stock Bunnahabhain 1965. At a cask strength of 40.5%, I (Adam) put it at the beginning up the lineup, but this 43-year-old still didn't perform the way I expected it to. It's well-reviewed in other whisky circles, but ours didn't seem to take to it as strongly. Opinions were that it's a generally good and drinkable malt, but not exceptional. Though it's fair to say any of us would be thrilled to find it at your Christmas party.

We then moved on to a long-gone Springbank 25 (gold foil and gold wax seal), which most (but not all) found quite underwhelming. Of course, upon reveal, everyone re-sampled it to see what they had "missed;" but alas, it just didn't measure up to expectations. That's why I love blind tastings… if this had been tasted openly, it's almost certain that some would be tempted to compliment the "Subtle elegance," or "Gently nuanced complexity," or any other terms that are not-so-distant cousins of "Doesn't taste like much." 

[Note from Chris:  This is Adam's perception of how this bottle was received.   I saw several B+ and A- ratings at my end of the table and comments that it was definitely better than the first bottle.  So maybe there is a subtle elegance and nuanced complexity, but him and the others at the kiddie table weren't able to appreciate it.  To be settled in the Thunderdome.]
[Adam adds: Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves!] 

Single Malt Scotch bottle with blind tasting bottles behind it.
Next up was a 30-year-old Glenugie from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (of America). Many found this one strangely likeable, with some odd, intangible qualities -- perhaps rightly so, as the SMWS's own title for it is "Medieval Banquet," described as "weirdly complex." If you're an SMWS member, this is one to get.

Picture of bottle, darkly sherried whisky.
The first big hit of the meeting came next, with an Old Malt Cask 32-year-old Glennallachie. This 1972 sherry monster packs all the delicious flavors you'd expect, and a few you wouldn't. I'd recommend snapping some up while it's still available, if you can.

1974 Inchgower from our friends at The Whisky Fair followed and met with mixed reviews. Farmy notes turned some off, though others really liked them (myself included). As with the Glenugie, this one had some unusual characteristics, which can make this somewhat of a "love it or hate it" whisky. Let's see what the guys' official notes say as they post them.

Another massive sherry bomb detonated with a 1965 Douglas Laing Platinum from "Speyside's Finest Distillery," aka Glenfarclas. We loved this, and it was exactly as you'd expect -- a classic, heavily sherried Speysider. At $350 pre-VAT it's a very expensive one, but if you're looking for a very high priced whisky gift, this is a great candidate. Too bad it's not in the US.

We finished up with a Benriach 1976 34yo OB and another DL Platinum Selection, a 20yo Tamdhu. Both were very much enjoyed, but with the way these writeups go, I'm burnt out on blurbing. Besides, who reads this far anyway?
If you do, then Happy Holidays!
Whiskey Master List
The Stores List
The Bars List
The Online List