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Till you’re blind – the FUN way to Taste Whisky | Blog # 69

There is nothing I like more than getting blind with whisky… and by that I mean not knowing what you are tasting.

There is something inherit in all of us that despite promising ourselves we will keep an open mind and not be biased that reacts when we see

a.     Packaging

b.     Age Statement

c.     Type of Whisky or Whiskey

d.     Distillery

All of the above can already predetermine a jaded or eager approach to the contents of the glass before us.

Take all that away and you are left perhaps somewhat floundering without a foundation or point of reference. It is by far the best way to taste whisky and also by far the scariest. Throw into the mix an intimate gathering of 30 people and yours truly poking and prodding for you to give your input on the completely unknown dram and it can be downright frightening. At least that is until the first few drams are safely tucked away.

This is the stage that was set for a fun tasting at Keg N Cork in Edmonton last week. An opportunity to run through 7 whiskies that were all part of the 1st Edition Scotch Whisky Advent Calendar from Independent Bottler’s Wemyss Malts, Samaroli and A.D. Rattray.

All people had to go on was what was in their glass. Color, nose and flavor were the only indicators of what lay within. Running through the 7 whiskies twice, everyone had a chance for a re-visit that included the revealing of each whisky and also to see the effect of a little time in the glass.

The whiskies in question were:

1.     Samaroli 2009 MacDuff 5 Year Old Single Malt – American Oak 1st Fill

2.     Wemyss Lord Elcho 15 Year Old Blended Scotch

3.     Samaroli 1996 Glentauchers 17 Year Old Single Malt – American Oak

4.     Samaroli 1997 Isle of Jura 16 Year Old Single Malt – American Oak

5.     Samaroli 1993 Sherry Glen Scotia 21 Year Old Single Malt – European Oak

6.     Wemyss Peat Chimney 12 Year Old Blended Malt

7.     A.D. Rattray 1999 Bowmore 14 Year Old – Sherry European Oak

Covering Single Malt, Blended Malt and a premium Blended Scotch made for a really diverse tasting.

The opinions and feedback on the whiskies were every bit as diverse as the group attending. Once everyone warmed up to the realization that there was no wrong opinions and that everyone had their own unique palate all sorts of wonderful flavors began to come out.

The addition of a little water and the extra time in glass also revealed how whisky can change to all present. The extra time in glass which is seldom a feature of most peoples whisky routine had the biggest impact with a lot more bouquet and range of flavors the result.

For my individual tasting notes on the dram’s above you can find them on my blog’s here:

1. Blog #47

2. Blog #42

3. Blog #52

4. Blog #44

5. Blog #54

6. Blog #36

7. Blog #56

Lionel and Dave at Keg N Cork put on a fantastic event complete with a meat and cheese tray which paired really well with different whiskies as the night wore on. Making it a point of pride for the excellent retailer, Keg N Cork have built up one of the best whisky selections in Edmonton and is a must visit for any whisky lover.

What a great way to spend a night and to continue on a whisky journey of discovery. It was exciting to meet many people that were at their first ever whisky tasting telling me that it was most definitely not their last. This is one aspect of what I do that I love the most. Spending time with like minded people and discovering how fun and amazing this drink that we love is. See slide show below …

If you are new to whisky or if you are a seasoned veteran there is something special, fun and challenging in a blind tasting. Alas, they are few and far between if you would like to experience one and have not yet had the chance.

Part of a club or attend regular tastings at your favorite whisky retailer? Then perhaps you can suggest to those in charge that they should throw a wrench in the mix and work on a blind tasting sometime soon.

I look forward to hopefully seeing your smiling and perhaps somewhat bemused face at a blind tasting near you.


Advent Day 24 – Christmas Eve – A.D. Rattray 1999 Bowmore 14 Year Old Single Malt | Blog #56

Welcome to Christmas Eve everyone!

Over the years we have had some very special casks of Bowmore from Tim Morrison’s own stock at A.D. Rattray (some of you might still have some tucked away).

I wanted something special from A.D. Rattray for Christmas Eve as they are responsible for my first love affair with Scotch Whisky.

Mr Morrison closely guards his good barrels of Bowmore and it is like proverbially pulling teeth to get access to one these days. Bowmore is the oldest Licensed Distillery on Islay founded in 1779. Lot’s of rich history and legends surrounding this distillery. It is also very iconic with its expansive white washed walls and emblazoned “BOWMORE” beckoning out to Loch Indaal.

Whisky: A.D. Rattray 1999 Bowmore 14 year old single malt

*Cask # 2261 – Sherry – Cask Strength 58.3% alcohol – non-chill filtered*

Bowmore 14yo Bowmore 14yo

Colour: Another lightly coloured sherry casked whisky. Wedding band gold.

Nose: Medicinally sweet with just a touch of hickory smoke and BBQ’d salmon.

Palate: Can’t for the life of me believe that this is almost 60%. Instantly warming and palate coating this whisky penetrates right down to your very core. A touch of life instilling tingle almost like the tip of tinkerbell’s magic wand. Sweet salty peaty notes and such richness. This is one amazing whisky for only 14 years old.

Finish: Don’t stop the ride I want to go around for another turn… Long and lingering the warmth now has taken over and gone right down deep into my chest and still the flavours persist. Drying at the end the slightly sweet iodine continues and rolls into peppered, candied smoked salmon with a maple glaze. Also brings to mind my lovely Cavendish blend smoked in my Cherry Wood Lorenzetti pipe.

Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum. 

Water: Brings out more of the sweet hickory smoky nose and then delivers balanced softer tones. Some creamy heather honey flitters in at the end. It ends like a 1998 Macanudo vintage cigar (my favorite). This is just for me personally everything I want from an Islay whisky – High fives all round Woot Woot.

**Curt from All Things Whisky has also been “Tasting” along with the calendar. Check out his notes HERE.

Thanks Tim and the A.D. Rattray team for allowing us to dip into the precious Bowmore single cask stock.

This is a really fantastic expression and harkens back to the first cask of sherried Bowmore we released as a 15 year old expression so many years ago when launching A.D. Rattray into the Canadian market.

I hope you are enjoying this lovely dram by the fire and basking in the warmth and glow of this special time of year. In our busy lives made all the more fast paced with unending technology and “smart” phones never allowing us to unplug, it’s life’s little treasures like these whiskies that force us to relax and give us a reason to pause and contemplate our blessings.

For those of you that have yet to embrace why Islay can be so incredible, I hope this Bowmore expression helps to fill in the blanks as to why the diversity of whisky is the reason its so amazing.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day. I hope and pray for all of you enjoying the 1st Edition Scotch Whisky Calendar this year that you are able to spend it with family and friends and to make it as special as possible.

I think I hear Christmas bells ringing…..better get to bed to give Santa time to get some goodies under the tree….


A. D. Rattray Website