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4 Glasses – 1 Whisky Part 4 | Blog #11

Now that we are finally on the last part make sure you start with Blog #8 followed by Blog #9  and Blog #10 which are part one, two and three of this series.

This little trip has been extremely fun and I have found out a lot about my palate and it has changed the way I will drink whisky in the future. I will certainly pay a lot more attention to what glassware I will use depending on mood and surroundings.

Duncan Taylor Dimensions Mortlach 1993 54.1%

So after trying the whisky in 4 different glasses at both cask strength and at 46% here are the tasting notes.

Nose: Vanilla wafer, hint of marzipan with a touch of lemon meringue pie or lemon drops. Some fresh hay and a whiff of an old barn door underlying everything.

Palate: Oat biscuits, citrus cream – key lime pie with vanilla bean Hagendaaz back dropped with a tang of lemon zest and salted cashews.

Finish: Citrus comes through even more over time with the vanilla fading away to be replaced by a much more savory note.

Below is my final take on all four glasses with each having its merits and potential deficiencies. Ranking 1 to 4 with 1 being the best.

# 1 – The Glencairn Scotch Whisky glass

Glencairn has pretty much been my go to glass in the past and I still think it delivers possibly the best experience you can get for nosing any whisky. On the palate however it seemed much to focused and did not allow me to pick out as many flavors as the other glasses without numerous tastes and extensive watering. Given that taste is at least equal to nose for a full whisky experience I will probably not use Glencairn as much in the future although with 20+ assorted Glencairn glasses in my whisky cabinet it will still be the convenient choice. Robust and strong, difficult to break and easily racks in the dishwasher it ranks high on the every day usage scale. Everyone should have a Glencairn in their arsenal. Chunky enough for ice and stones so a good all round glass that is not too expensive and will last a long time. Dishwasher is no problem.

Nose rank # 2
Palate rank # 4
Everyday use rank # 2
Whisky warming friendly # 4
Price rank # 2

# 2 – The Reidel Whisky Glass

The Reidel has always been a favorite of mine and gets a lot of use especially for any whisky that I want to really get into. The careful design really allows for a full experience of both nose and taste. It is however delicate and a little harder to warm so this affects the palate score a little. To be honest I thought this glass would fair better than it did in the competition and it was extremely close in both nose and palate to the Spiegelau. The expense of the Reidel and its fragile nature are points against it. You do definitely want one in your collection and I would if given a choice use it over a Glencairn on most occasions. Does not do well with whisky stones. Dishwasher is normally okay but be careful.

Nose rank # 3
Palate rank # 3
Everyday use rank # 3
Whisky warming friendly # 3
Price rank # 3

# 3 – The Spiegelau Whisky Tumbler

Due to being able to warm the whisky by really cupping both hands completely around the base of this glass I think that the nose and palate were a little better than the Reidel. The Spiegelau places the whisky in the same area of the palate as the Reidel but is much heftier and can easily handle larger ice cubes if desired and whisky stones are no problem. Dishwasher safe, patio safe and geek whisky tasting safe the Spiegelau I feel is the best all round glass for the price.

Nose rank # 2
Palate rank # 2
Everyday use rank # 1
Whisky warming friendly rank # 2
Price rank # 1

# 4 – Traditional Balloon (snifter)

The Brandy Snifter was the big eye opener as I had used it in the past very seldom and then mostly for Cognac. This glass scores highly in some aspects and poorly in others and should almost come with a safely label something like this …

Warning extreme whisky experience ahead, please proceed with caution!

To be honest it was amazing and by being a little patient and easing into it like lowering into a relaxing hot tub that has the temperature set a bit high the rewards are generous. The nose was amazing but had to be approached carefully. The palate was richer and more complex than any of the other glasses. It was made to cup in the hands and because the glass is thinner than the Spiegelau you can get a more immediate warming effect. Plenty of room for ice and robust enough for stones. It only ranked last on the every day use scale due to its size, expense and difficulty in cleaning. It takes up a quarter of the dishwasher if you want to try but is safer being hand washed. In a previous Blog I talked about whisky toys including a Death Star Ice Cube. This is the glass that could pull that off. It also lends itself really well to balancing over a cup of hot water to be steamed. There are many variations on this style of glass and you can spend as much as you want or pick up a bargain. It got the worst price ranking as I think in general you will want to make this a special purchase and buy a quality piece for your whisky cupboard.

Nose rank # 1
Palate rank # 1
Everyday use rank # 4
Whisky warming friendly rank # 1
Price rank # 4

So the final overall rankings are:

First place – Spiegelau Whisky Tumbler – 8 points
Second Place – Brandy Snifter – 11 points
Third Place – Glencairn – 14 points
Fourth Place – Reidel – 15 points

I would think, that if you don’t already, you should have all of these glasses in your cabinet. In much the same way as we have many different styles of whisky because we don’t want to drink the same thing all the time its good to have multiple glass options.

Send in your comments about your glassware experiences – let me know if you have found a particularly good whisky glass that was not part of this tasting.

Next week I am blogging about my recent trip to a big retailer in the US Total Wine and my “secret shopper” whisky aisle experience with the staff.

Cheers, cheers, cheers, cheers

Jonathan

4 Glasses – 1 Whisky Part 3 | Blog #10

Before reading any further make sure you start with Blog #8 followed by Blog #9 which is part one and two of this series.

So here we are finally getting to the nitty gritty and having a taste or two. The first round of tasting was done with Duncan Taylor Mortlach 1993 at full cask strength of 54.1%.The whiskies, having already been nosed and glasses handled, were all in various states of slightly warmer than room temperature depending on how well the glass lent itself to being cradled. Before we get into it, I do need to let you know that for this part of the exercise I will be talking about how the whiskies affect the palate from a mouth feel and alcohol impact perspective. Looking at how a glass delivers the whisky to your palate can make your choice easier in matching your next dram to its perfect glass, or for that matter, the perfect glass depending on what you feel like you want from your experience that day.

# 1 – The Glencairn Scotch Whisky glass – Cask Strength

The Glencairn, while keeping the nose subtle, delivered the whisky to the palate like a laser. It hit my tongue and the alcohol fairly spanked it causing me to tear up with the accompanying dry throat syndrome as a partner. The second sip was not quite the same story as I was more prepared for it, however, the focused nature of the Glencairn opening really placed the whisky onto my palate in a way that was not conducive to picking up subtle flavors for this exercise and enhanced the effect of the alcohol at cask strength.

# 2 – The Reidel Whisky Glass – Cask Strength

The Reidel opened immediately and was considerably softer on the palate, dispersing the alcohol although there was still some minor tingle as I was expecting. Overall easier to pick out flavor and a so much more pleasant tasting experience. The second sip was more of the same with even more discernible flavor as the whisky spread out over the tongue.

# 3 – The Spiegelau Whisky Tumbler – Cask Strength

Here there was only the tiniest hint of alcohol prickle on the very tip of the tongue. Very creamy overall mouth feel and very soft layering flavor. Warming this glass had a definite effect on the whisky and could account for the difference between this glass and the Reidel as they both place the whisky on the same spot on the palate.

# 4 – Traditional Balloon (snifter) – Cask Strength

A huge overall alcohol tingle and you still cant help but be a little overwhelmed by the huge aroma as you bring the glass to your lips. A heady and intoxicating experience, the whisky flows over the entire palate with a big barrage of flavor and smell. From Nose to Tongue this is a punchy experience that can quickly overwhelm the senses.

I then tasted the whiskies again having watered all 4 of them down to just below 46% as they were all now slightly cloudy.

# 1 – The Glencairn Scotch Whisky glass – Watered

Flavors opened up a lot more and the palate did soften a lot. However there was still noticeable tingle which was surprising considering the amount of water added. This was by far a much easier way to taste this whisky from this glass shape.

# 2 – The Reidel Whisky Glass – Watered

Considerably softer with water and very easy on the palate indeed with just the smallest almost imperceptible alcohol tingle. More flavor coming out and a great way to delve into the flavor.

# 3 – The Spiegelau Whisky Tumbler – Watered

Softest easiest flavor profile yet with really no alcohol making its presence felt at all. A lovely balanced mouth feel making it very easy to pick out flavor and really enjoy the whisky.

# 4 – Traditional Balloon (snifter) – Watered

Wow – Yeah Baby! I have to say that water in this instance tamed the beast and turned her into a beauty. Smooth (lots of people don’t like that word as it is over used but I like it as a lot of consumers can relate) like silk with a gorgeous balance. Yummo.

You must all be chafing at the bit to find out what all these flavors are and next week I will write up full tasting notes and sum up the whole experience.

I hope you have been trying along with me with some different glassware on your own multi-glass tasting. It has been the first time I have done this and has been an excellent learning exercise. It can be so much fun to try and delve into something so complex with a focused ambition to teach yourself something new.

Share some of your experiences in the comments below. I would love to hear from you.

Until next week,

Cheers!

Jonathan

4 Glasses – 1 Whisky Part 2 | Blog #9

Before reading any further make sure you start with Blog #8 which is part one of this series.

Having poured a healthy dram into each glass lets look at how each one effects the nose and palate.

Nose:

Nosing whisky is a big part of what makes this spirit so interesting. If you have been drinking whisky for any length of time then you have no doubt experienced one of those amazing drams that you could just sit and nose for an age.

*All nosing done at full cask strength of 54.1% alcohol.

# 1 – The Glencairn Scotch Whisky glass

Remembering that this design was created for nosing it should get us off to a great start. Initially restrained with no noticeable alcohol prickle it takes a while to draw the subtleties out. You can really get your nose close to the glass and still have no alcohol effect which is impressive at 54.1%. With the chunky stem it is however hard to get a good warming clasp on the bowl.

# 2 – The Reidel Whisky Glass

Allowing for a much more open nosing experience as a trade off for the positioning of the whisky in a specific way on the palate, I was expecting a slightly harsher experience. It was in fact slightly more subtle with the barest hint of alcohol. I was able to get my nose really close and still not get any alcohol kick back. Easier to get the hands around to warm the whisky it is however still very delicate and feels like you have to be careful in how you handle it.

# 3 – The Spiegelau Whisky Tumbler

With the same diameter and flare of the Reidel I was expecting a very similar nose. It might have been due to being able to fully cup this glass with both hands and warm the whisky but the nose was much more pronounced with a little more discernible alcohol. Could not sink the big shnoz as close with this glass without a little too much overpowering prickle.

# 4 – Traditional Balloon (snifter)

Wow, “snifter” seems like a good description as even just one good sniff and the whisky closely followed by alcohol fairly leap out of the glass. Being careful not to get too close, the complexity of the whisky is immediately apparent. Subtleties may have been lost at this point but who cares. This glass has unleashed the inner Martlach Monster. Warming played its part as this glass was designed to be cradled lovingly between two hands. So far the biggest impression however I can see that if you were tasting a lot of whiskies this bad boy would wear out your senses fast. But for the sheer fun-park ride this was the nosing winner.

Next week we do the tasting at Full Strength and then I might have to extend to a part 4 for watering and conclusion

Until then…

“Balloons Aloft!”

Jonathan