Holiday Potpourri and a Glenfarclas Anniversary

Posted on Saturday, Dec 12, 2009 at 07:28 PM

Sylized photo of Glenfarclas 1959 and glass.

Wow, it's been a while since LAWS has officially gathered -- we were busy with events like WhiskyFest, Whisky Live, Speakeasy, and the SMWS Extravaganza.  But we finally got back to our usual shenanigans this month with an informal meeting featuring a mix of single malts we called the "Holiday Potpourri."

Basically, it was an excuse to open a 42-year-old Glenfarclas, distilled on Christmas Day in 1959. We thought it would be cool to drink it nearly 50 years to the day it was distilled. Typically we'd try to arrange a theme around this -- like "Christmas Whisky" or something -- we even toyed with the idea of "December Distillations" (which is meaningless) -- and finally we just figured, ah heck, let's just pick a bunch of rare, old whiskies and sit around and drink them unblinded for once.  So the lineup was:

It turned out to be a stellar evening. The Signatory dumpies were particularly impressive, with the Benrinnes arguably winning the night, although the Talisker 1981 (sister bottling to the legendary Talisker 1981 UK) was massively well-received. (Give members time to recover and rejuvenate before notes/ratings are entered).

Battle of the Collectors!

Posted on Saturday, Sep 19, 2009 at 06:23 PM

Over-the-top skeleton worshipfully holding two whiskey bottles.

The challenge was simple -- Adam and Chris would each choose 3 bottles from their personal collections, have the group taste them blind, and determine whose whiskey expertise reigns supreme -- in a climactic battle to the death!!  Well, close, anyhow.

The submitted bottles could not be one of the 900 whiskies already listed on this website, and the combined cost of each collector's choices had to be about $600.

To mix things up, we also threw in a $30 bargain bottle we found at Binny's, and another old Signatory dumpy that Adam and Chris had previously tasted but had vastly differing opinions on (A- vs. C).  Thus, eight bottles were tasted blind -- six of them being carefully chosen, educated choices (theoretically), one of them possibly being rather lousy, and another being a complete wild card.

It turned out to be a great contest -- and Adam won, with a rare Macallan 1980 16-year Signatory dumpy leading his victory charge.  Perhaps not surprisingly, many bottles that were rated in the 90's by various critics ended up faring much differently mixed into a blind (and rather random) tasting.  Full results are posted below, click through for better resolution and a clickable version of the chart.

The Glenlivet: Rediscovering the U.S. Best-Seller

Posted on Sunday, Aug 9, 2009 at 07:49 PM

Glenlivet logo

Okay, we'll admit it -- we're a bit jaded.  When you spend so much time scavenging the globe for rare, exotic whiskies, it's easy to view a distillery like Glenlivet as... well, a bit commonplace.  After all, there's basically a bottle of Glenlivet 12 on every bar in America (not to mention the world). Which is why, when LAWS was asked if we'd like to have a tasting with Glenlivet brand ambassador Rick Edwards, our response was a qualified "Okay, but bring the good stuff!"

A picture of Rick Edwards in traditional Scottish garb.
Which, in retrospect, wasn't quite a fair thing to say. As Rick walked us through the core expressions (12yr15yr18yr), there was discussion in the group that these whiskies shouldn't be passed over so easily. Sure, they aren't the kick-in-the-pants-monsters that are bombarding the market these days (e.g. Supernova), but that's not what Glenlivet's aiming for. Theirs is a lighter-style single malt, which isn't to say that it's devoid of flavor (it isn't). And at $22 a bottle, how can you really complain about Glenlivet 12? We already knew that the 16yr Nadurra is a solid cask-strength whisky at a great price (around $50), but a few of us "re-discovered" the 18yr, marking it as a pleasant sipper and a bargain given the age.

Oh yeah, and then there was the upper-range stuff -- we truly loved it.  The main argument was whether the 1969 Cellar Collection was more enjoyable than the 1964 Cellar Collection, and that's splitting hairs. The 1972 Cellar Collection was the most "un-Glenlivity" of the bunch, with complexity and spice that some found medicinal wisps in, to the delight of some and annoyance of others.  Of course, the price is the easy complaint to make about the Cellar Collection... and if it's "worth it" depends on who's asking and who's paying... but since we weren't doing either as far as these beauties were concerned, we just enjoyed reveling in some truly stellar whiskies.  

Thanks Rick!!!

Sherried Islays and Other Whisky Fantasies

Posted on Monday, Jul 13, 2009 at 01:00 AM

Islay whisky distilleries listed in an image with a glass of sherry and map of Scotland, pointing out the island of Islay.

At our July meeting, we sampled eight bottles from Islay, all matured in sherry casks.  We're still recovering.  The line-up included rare collectors' bottles and recent releases:


Ardbeg 1990 for Symposion International Sweden
Bruichladdich 1998 Manzanilla Cask
Bowmore 21 (1972)
Bunnahabhain 1979 Signatory
Caol Ila 1993 Murray McDavid
Lagavulin 1989 Distillers Edition
Laphroaig 1989 Old Malt Cask
Port Ellen 1982 DL Platinum Old & Rare

The Arbeg, Laphroaig, and Port Ellen were the overall favorites of the night.  Sherry cask Laphroaigs are exceptionally rare and expensive, so the recent release of this one at only $115 was serendipitous.  The Whisky Exchange sold out of them within a day, but they only had 12, so others must be out there.   

We're Still Busy and We're Still Drinking Whisky

Posted on Wednesday, Jul 1, 2009 at 10:49 PM

New ratings and reviews continue to go up multiple times a week, and our June meeting featured a broad range of Campbeltown single malts (including a rare Springbank Local Barley as well as Longrow 18 and an interesting Signatory Glen Scotia).

As we've said before, we're not really here to blog.  All the up-to-date whisky news you need is already available on great sites like "What Does John Know?"  We're not looking to be redundant.  We prefer that all the info on our site is unique to us.

Our main intention for this site is to be useful for everyone as a reference guide and online ratings "handbook." Bookmark the Main Whisky List on your iPhone and you'll find that it comes in really handy when you're making a whisky-decision in a bar or liquor store.  Drink whisky!
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