[Tasting Session] The W Club 23/09/17

I have realised I have not posted anything on the blog for a month now, so it is about time I do something about it. As I attended a tasting session yesterday evening, I thought that would be a good way to get back into it.

As usual, the tasting took place at the Whisky Shop Manchester and the theme for the night was "Peated whisky". Now for people who say they don't like peated whisky, they should really say they don't like noticeably peated whisky as pretty much every single whisky is peated to a certain extend (unless clearly labelled "unpeated" on the bottle) Of course in lots of single malts, it is barely noticeable.

We had 6 bottles on the line up and tasted them as follow:

1.  Inchgower 2008, single cask bottled in 2016 by Hunter Laing, First Editions series, 46%.
Nose and palate were very spirit driven in my mind, I could really tell it was quite a young whisky, lots of fresh citrus, spices and biscuit notes. Not my favourite of the night.

2. Oban Distillers Edition, 43%.
Oban is part of Diageo's Classic Malt collection and like most malts in the collection, it has its own Distillers Edition. This one takes the standard 14 years old and adds an extra year in ex-Montilla Fino sherry casks. In terms of flavours I got a strange mix of citrus (blood oranges and grapefruit) and smoky bacon. I would need to try it on its own to see if I would still get the same notes or whether the Inchgower affected my palate. Unusual but still pleasant.

3. Bowmore 15 Darkest, 43%.
This is a standard edition from the Bowmore ange which I had never tried before. I came across the 15 Laimrig several times (the cask strength version of the 15), which I really loved but never the standard 15 years old. Yesterday was the opportunity to give it a go and see for myself if all the positive reviews I have had on this bottle were justified. In my opinion, they are. I really loved the mixture of sherry and peat, of raisins and tar/smoke. Awesome! The 12 has never been my thing, I tried the 18 at the distillery but don't remember it being anything special, but the 15 is fantastic! Finally a Bowmore which is not cask strength, which I really enjoyed!

4. Ailsa Bay, 48.9%.
Pretty new kid on the block for a peated whisky, Ailsa Bay is produced by the Girvan distillery. It is presented in a nice tall bottle with a piece of granite in the stopper as the lowland distillery is build close to Ailsa Craig, a large granite rock which sits a few miles out in the Atlantic Ocean, and is the source for all of the UK’s curling stones. The single malt is very pleasant, and made us think of a mix of Talisker and Caol Ila with smoky, oily and salty notes, still wrapped in sweetness. The last drops I had actually reminded me a bit of the Laphroaig Quarter Cask. Pretty good!

5. Caol Ila Distillers Edition, 43%.
As you might have worked out by now, I am a huge fan of Caol Ila, and this one is no exception. Like for the Oban above, this is part of the Classic Malts range, which means the standard 12 year-old Caol Ila got an extra year maturation, but this time in ex-Moscatel casks. Here again, we got a really nice mix of sweetness, peat smoke and savoury notes. Definitely worth trying!

6. Laphroaig 2005, single cask bottled in 2016 by Hunter Laing, First Editions series, 46%.
A youngish Laphroaig from a single cask, what do you expect? Me, I expect a lot of in-your-face peaty spirit, very medicinal, basically what Laphroaig is known for... Well I got this one wrong. It was actually very tame with some sweetness and delicate peat, some linseed oil notes too. So incredibly different to what I was expecting that it completely blew my mind away. The £143 price tag brought me quickly back to reality though...!

The winner of the night for me? That was actually one of the toughest call I had to make in a while. I love the Caol Ila DE, Ailsa Bay and Laphroaig were excellent too, but I think I would probably go for the Bowmore 15 as I feel it is an amazing whisky, widely available and incredibly good value for money. And that perfect mix of sherry and smoky peat creates what I would call a 'wonderfully dirty' malt!


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