[Tasting Session] The W Club 10/02/17

In case you haven't yet realised, I tend to spend a fair bit of time at the Whisky Shop Manchester. That is pretty much where my whisky journey started over 2 and a half years ago. The guys there are very knowledgeable, they are passionate about whisky and incredibly friendly. I have now purchased quite a few bottles from there and attended many of their tasting sessions so I decided over a year ago to become a member of their W Club. The membership was great for the first year as it allowed me to benefit from 10% discount on all purchases from the store (both shop and online). I renewed it at the end of 2016 and unfortunately, they have a relaunch on the club which no longer gives members access to 10% off everything. However, members now have access to great offers every Wednesday as well as free tasting sessions every months, so for £20/year, you cannot really go wrong. 
The W Club member tasting was on Friday and the line-up was quite interesting:

1. Glenkeir Treasures - Dailuaine 6 years old 40%
2. Balblair 1999 46%
3. Benriach 20 years old 43%
4. Distiller's Art - Royal Brackla 18 years old 48%
5. The Loch Fyne - The living Cask 1745 46.3%

We started the tasting with Dailuaine 6 years old, bottled by Glenkeir Treasures (the Whisky Shop own bottling). It was a good starting point for the night with fruity and sweet almond notes, and quite a spicy finish. The Whisky Shop do have a few other distilleries in their Glenkeir range, including some "secret" Islay and Highland. Note that the bottles are only 50cl... 

For the next one, Balblair 99, the nose was quite floral and sweet but when it came to the palate, the spicy and peppery notes took over, leaving a rather peppery and gingery finish. Balblair have taken a different approach to most distilleries as they do not have age statements as such but a vintage. They have released several, including a 1983, 1989, 1990, 2003 and 2005. The 1999 was bottled in 2014 so it's a 16 year-old mix of American ex-bourbon oak and Sherry butts, presented unchill-filtered. A bit too much pepper for my taste on the finish though.

The 3rd on of the night was Benriach 20. It is released as a small batch every year and is aged in ex-bourbon casks. I enjoyed it with its sweet, spicy and nutty notes. It is quite chewy and I bizarrely got some oloroso nuttiness on the finish. Enjoyable dram!

Moving on to a bottle of Royal Brackla from Distiller's Art. It is a single cask release, bottled at 48%, unchill-filtered and un-coloured aged in American oak for 18 years. I must admit that my previous experience of Royal Brackla was not very convincing as both the 12 and 16 left me underwhelmed in terms of flavours. However, this particular bottle did not disappoint. Fruity wax on the nose, warm and round sweetness on the palate which turned spicier, almond finish with hints of dried fruit, layers of flavours and a surprising move from nose to palate to finish. Very interesting whisky!

The last one of the night was a bottle of The Loch Fyne Living Cask 1745 which I had already sampled before. It is a blended malt made up exclusively of Islay single malts. There should apparently be some Laphroaig 25 and 23 in the mix with some Bruichladdich and other wonderful nectars. The nose is malty, smoky and peaty, but still with some sweetness to it. The palate and finish are along the same notes with a mix of sweet and smoky and hints of oak and spices. As with the Glenkeir Treasures range, the bottles of Loch Fyne are 50cl.

As usual, the night was a success and allowed me to try or try again some interesting whiskies, and therefore to continue developing my nose and palate on my journey of whisky discovery!
And of course, thanks to Craig and Phil! 


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