[Tasting Session] Whisky shop - Old and Rare 28/11/15

As I mentioned in my review of the Caol Ila 19, I attended another tasting session at the Whisky shop Manchester at the end of November. The theme: Old and Rare, and the £50 ticket (£40 if you are a member) gave you access to around £1,600 worth of whisky. On the list:

1. Glenlossie 17 Old Malt Cask (50%)                                       [£108]*
2. North British Distillery single grain 50 years old (42.9%)     [£300]*
3. Glen Garioch 1986 (distilled in 2011) (54.6%)                      [£350]*
4. Jura 37 Old and Rare (53.9%)                                                 [£545]*
5. Bowmore Devil's Casks 3 (56.7%)                                         [£190]*
6. Octomore Islay Barley 6.3 (64%)                                           [£150]*

And it isn't on the picture but we were even treated to an extra dram with a bottle of Braeval 25 Old Malt Cask (50%, £155*). All the bottles we tried were unchill-filtered and natural colour (and very near cask strength too) Not bad hey!

To me, the stars of the show were the Bowmore and the Octomore. I wasn't expecting much of the Bowmore, thinking the massive bump in price for Batch 3 compared to Batch 1 & 2 (£50, £60 and now £190) was not justified for a dram probably more collectible than enjoyable but I was pleasantly surprised. A great combination of sweet sherry with smokey peat, a real treat. However £190 is a bit steep when you consider the price and quality of the Bowmore 15 Laimrig, which in my opinion gives you a very comparable experience for a lot less money (£70). To me the best value for money was the complex Octomore. What a paradox to think the star of the Old and Rare session is neither old nor extremely rare! The 6.3 version of Octomore was also the strongest at 64%, having probably only matured for about 5 years. It is called Islay barley as the barley as well as the water used to make the spirit come from farmer James Brown whose farm is built on the old Octomore farm. The Octomore range -from the Bruichladdich distillery- pride itself on offering some of the peatiest whisky on the planet. However nosing it and sampling it doesn't give you the smack in the mouth I was expecting. The peat is there of course but there is much more complexity to it with a mix of fruit, spice and malt.
The Jura was good too with a rich taste. I found the Glen Garioch rather spicy with a peppery finish, the Single grain was bourbony (sweet corn, caramel, toffee, treacle) And as far as the Glenlossie is concerned, we tried it at the beginning and all I can say it that it was pleasant but not my favourite. I think I should have taken some notes as I went along... The Braeval addition allowed us to finish on a very sweet, desserty note at the end of the night.
Thanks again to the Whisky shop for making these sessions available, giving us the opportunity to try whiskies most people wouldn't dream of buying let alone drinking, and thank you to the team, Craig, Phil and Matt for running the sessions and sharing their knowledge and passion.

*prices from the Whisky shop December 2015


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