I was at the 'normal 5 dram selection' tasting hosted by Mark Davidson (of Cadenheads) last night in the Tolbooth Tavern. I've now been at about 6 of these tastings (my first one was in June) and I'm now becoming a bit of a regular, if not an expert.
Anyway, whiskies tasted (blind) were as follows:
An Cnoc 1975 30yo 50% OB - nice dram for starters, but a bit too rubbery/meaty for me, seemed so much younger as well. Mark assured us this was not 'dropped from his over 30yo tasting next month'
Tomatin 1989 bottled Sept '06, 1 of 294, 56.4% Cadenheads - just a nice dram, 'a good whisky drinkers whisky' from an ex-bourbon cask
*Mystery dram* Amrut Cask Strength 62.8% - delicious and bourbon-like, really threw us as we thought it was maybe a rye, a big surprise when revealed. Mark really knows how to keep us all on our toes.
Ardmore QC NCF 46% (recently released, inaugural OB) - nicely smoked and fruity/cherry notes, difficult to pin down. Fuller on the nose than on the palate, with a short finish. (I'm pleased to have picked this up whilst on offer for £15 at Sainsburys!)
Springbank 7yo, 24/9/99 - 25/4/07, Mike Ralston Private Cask from first-fill sherry - wow, luxurious and rich from such a clean, very active sherry cask. Lucky man, apparently he only bottled some of it at 7yo.
Talisker 20yo, 1981-2002, 62.3% Sherry Cask OB - last but my no means least a wonderful sherry-peat bomb, one of the best drams I've tasted so far, such a long finish. We were convinced it was a great Lagavulin or an even-greater Caol Ila!
Winner on the night was the Talisker just, closely followed by the Springbank and what a surprise in the Amrut. I really enjoy these tastings - also nice to have some oatcakes, shortbread and chocolate (and some great home-made tablet from Mark's missus!).
I was a wee bit dubious before I attended these events as I thought they could maybe be just a plug for Cadenheads' wares but, whilst demonstrating that independents such as Cadenheads can compete with the big boys especially bottling single casks, the best thing with them is the variety of unusual and, more often than not, delicious drams, sourced worldwide by Mark - he really does know his stuff.
Great raffle at the end for miniatures from previous tastings (last night I got JW Green but previously have had some stunners such as Bladnoch Sheep, Glenrothers Rumwood and even a wee sip of the 'Fishky') and the chance to purchase bottle remnants used at the tastings, often at trade price.
Today's rain is tomorrow's whisky