Malts of Scotland with Thomas Ewers

Posted on Thursday, Aug 16, 2012 at 04:22 PM

Special circumstances called for a special summer meeting!

Thomas Ewers, the man behind indie bottler Malts of Scotland, was visiting Los Angeles this August -- and he was kind enough to bring us some of his exlusive malts. As you may know, MoS was started just a few years ago and has quickly become known for their high quality cask selections. (And, par for the course, they're not distributed in the US.)
We tasted a selection of new Malts of Scotland bottlings, and the consensus was that they ranged from something like "yummy" to "outrageously good." Thomas's releases are consistently delicious because whisky isn't his main business. It's his passion. That means he's not under the constant pressure to produce like the large independent bottlers are. When a cask tastes ready to be bottled, it's bottled. If it's not, it's ignored. If he has a gap in production, so be it. There are no "filler bottles" thrown in just to keep the brand going. 
We tasted:
...and probably most raved about was a 40yo Glengoyne sherry monster cask sample that's awaiting bottling. Suffice it to say that we were already asking how we could purchase it!

Huge thanks to Thomas for a stellar evening of great whiskies! 

Highlander Meeting

Posted on Friday, Jun 29, 2012 at 08:54 PM

Connor MacLeod

It's been a while since we've had an exceptionally silly meeting. This solved that problem.

The "Highlander," based on the 1986 film/legend of the same name, had a simple premise: each of the top 6 website contributors had to secretly pick one whisky. At the meeting, the whiskies would fight till only one remained!

single malt scotch whisky bottle
- Region had to be Highland, including Speyside.
- The whisky couldn't already be on the LAWS website.
- LAWS funded each up to $200, out-of-pocket overages ok.
Combatants had 7 weeks to choose their entry. Some members took the challenge pretty seriously, while at least one selected his fate while stopping at a liquor store on the way to the meeting. 
For the contest, each competitor blinded his whisky into 1 of 6 identical opaque bottles. Tasting order was randomly chosen, and half the group tasted in reverse order.

You have the manners of a goat and you smell like a dung heap.
The champion and winner of The Prize (all whisky knowledge known to man) was... Fuji!! His 1981 Lochside narrowly beat out Adam's 1965 Glenfarclas. Coming in last was Dave, whose 1992 Ardmore gained slightly less traction than others.

The whiskies were blinded with the names of the 6 immortals in the original film. In tasting order, they were:

MacLeod: Ardmore 1992 19yo Single Malts of Scotland (Dave's bottle) 6th Place
Fasil: Glenallachie 1974 The Whisky Exchange (Andy's bottle) 5th Place
KurganGlendronach 1975 33yo "Three Generations" Duncan Taylor (Chris's bottle) 4th Place
VazilekLochside 1981 The Whisky Exchange (Fuji's bottle) 1st Place
RamirezBen Nevis 1990 La Maison du Whisky "Artist" Range (Sku's bottle) 3rd Place
The entire contest was extremely close, and only 1/3 letter grade separated first from last place. We had to use a numeric system to 2 decimal places to determine final results!

Bonhams Whisky Auction - Use Caution!

Posted on Thursday, Jun 21, 2012 at 08:53 PM

 auctioneer pointing and smiling at bidders


Bonhams' 2012 NY whisky auction listed an impressive Ardbeg 17, "circa 1900." But clear evidence indicated it was from almost 40 years later. After notifying Bonhams and receiving dissatisfying responses, we published a writeup. The bottle was removed after the information went viral.

Old Springbanks

Posted on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 08:49 PM

Wanna open up some dusty Springbanks? Yeah, we wanted to also. We pulled six bottles from our collections -- all bottled in the 90s -- cracked 'em open, and drank 'em. That's all there was to our latest meeting. Sometimes we get pretty complicated, other times we keep it simple. Drink Whisky!

Glenfiddich - Straight from the Vats

Posted on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 05:10 PM

distillery logo and bottle

Most everyone is familiar with Glenfiddich's 12, 15, and 18 year old expressions. After all, Glenfiddich is the biggest single malt in the world, so you better be!
But have you ever tried the cask strength versions? No, because they don't exist. But at our last meeting, we tasted samples pulled directly from the vats at Glenfiddich, prior to dilution down to bottling strength.
That's because we had the pleasure of being joined by Glenfiddich brand ambassador Mitch Bechard, who brought along some outstanding goodies.

We tasted those samples in side-by-side comparison with their 40% and 43% brethren. We all preferred the 12yo vat strength (56.9%) to the standard 12 year old, and it was remarkable just how different it was. But with the 18, many of us preferred the standard bottling compared to vatting strength (57.5%). As far as all six of these malts went, a majority of the group seemed to prefer the 15yo vatting (56.9%).

We're not going to formally list the vat samples, since they're not really available whiskies in any sense.

We also tasted some 'Fiddich new make. Y'know what? It was pretty good stuff! That was quite a surprise for many of us, as on the whole we're rather averse to new make in general.
We also tasted the recent Cask of Dreams, a special and rare 1976 Vintage, and a 1982 vintage bottled exclusively for the Craigellachie Hotel in 2003. Finally, we finished up with a rare independent bottling, a 26yo bottled by Cadenhead circa 1990.
What a great night! This exactly the sort of thing we love to do. Thanks again Mitch, we're still talking about it!

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