[Tasting session] Whisky Shop - Highland 24/10/15

As I mentioned before, I have only started being properly interested in whisky in the last two years, but as my initial curiosity developed into a more passionate interest, I knew I had to go further than just reading online reviews and articles. So, I looked for whisky places around Manchester and started going to the Whisky Shop on Exchange Street. The first time I entered the shop, I felt a bit like a fish out of water as I had never really been to a whisky-only shop. However the staff were very welcoming and helpful and I quickly realised they were incredibly passionate about the spirit and prepared to share their passion and knowledge with their customers. Trying a new whisky can be a very costly thing to do if you have to buy the bottle (particularly if it's to realise the whisky isn't to your taste!) but the Whisky Shop allows you to try a dram or two and therefore decide whether it's the one for you or not. 
I soon decided to add my details to their mailing list, and that allowed me to receive information about their evening tasting sessions. These sessions generally bring together 6 different bottles around a same theme (taste, region, distillery...) Costing on average £20 (£10 if you become a member) it is a very good way to venture away from your traditional taste, in a very friendly and informative atmosphere. 

The last one I attended took place on Saturday night and allowed us to experience 5 different Highland single malts:


Dalwhinnie  Winter's Gold (43%) (chilled at the start and then again at the end at room temperature)
anCnoc Peter Arkle 4th release Limited Edition (46%)
Royal Brackla 16 years (40%)
Ben Nevis 16 years Old Malt Cask (50%)
Clynelish 14 years (46%)

The Dalwhinnie was rather easy drinking, sweet at first with some gentle smoke lingering at the end. It is suggested that you should drink it chilled, hence the bucket of ice at the start. I would never chill whisky like I would with vodka, but I thought it did actually work. For me, a pleasant surprise from a release I didn't have high expectation for. 
We then moved onto anCnoc, the 4th release in a series of anCnoc single malts illustrated by Scottish illustrator Peter Arkle. Compared to the easy-drinking Dalwhinnie, this anCnoc was much warmer and spicier with some hints of raisins and a rather peppery finish.
Royal Brackla wasn't a name I was familiar with before Saturday night. We were introduced to the 16 year edition. It was very easy drinking with a lot of sweet flavours, vanilla, chocolate and caramel. The problem for me, is that the caramely taste and the low ABV (40%) made it taste somehow artificial, so that was my least favourite of the night.
The last two bottles seem to get the vote of most people, and they did get mine too. I had never tried Ben Nevis bottling before but wasn't disappointed at all. Mixture of sweet fruit, toffee, honey and spices, all brought together with the higher ABV, a really nice treat! 
Clynelish 14 was great too, but as I have an unopened bottle, I will review it fully in another post (plus after 5 drams, I'm not sure my memory of the exact taste is fully reliable!)

Thank you to Philip and Craig for another successful night, which allowed me once again to broaden my single malt horizon!

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