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smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

Bruce Leroy posted:

So, for everyone, do you think you'd be able to pick out the more expensive and ostensibly higher quality whisk(e)ys from the cheaper, poor quality stuff or do you think psychological effects similar to those affecting wine tasters may be affecting your perceptions of whisk(e)ys. Basically, do you think you could reliably pick out the more aged or better quality whisk(e)ys from the younger, crappier stuff?

The short answer: Yes.

The long answer:

I regularly taste stuff semi-blind, meaning that I know the what is in my whisky cabinet or the bar shelf but don't know what was poured. I've got around 40 open bottles in my cabinet and will more often than not correctly identify the whisky.

Blind tasting is another thing altogether. It's very interesting to try stuff without being affected by the 'taste of the label' and will often result in interesting revelations.

A crappy whisky is definitely very easy to distinguish when tasting blind. It's a whisky that is technically bad, meaning that it tastes alcoholic and harsh and has unwanted flavours like gym socks, yeastiness and such. After the crappy ones the whole tasting thing gets more complicated as people like different things, but I'll try to explain my view.

A bad whisky would be something that has no unwanted flavours but is horribly off balance, like being way too sweet or having a general lack of taste altogether. The line between bad and ok is blurry though, as what I see as a bad whisky might not be bad for another taster.

A dull whisky is something that doesn't have unwanted flavours, doesn't have too harsh alcoholic taste and is quite balanced, but is somewhat lacking in interesting or pleasurable flavours. Every now and then people declare whiskies in this category to be 'crappy', but I consider that to be a sign of ignorance on the part of the taster.

Lots of old and expensive bottlings fall into the dull category for me. Even here, if the whisky tastes dull in a young way, it's likely to be a cheap one, whereas if its dull in an old way (lots of oak), it could very well be something very expensive and 'highly regarded'.

Then there are the gimmicky whiskies, that are not really bad or dull, but they have been partly matured in something different, like red wine barrels or new oak barrels. Quite often these are very good and interesting when first tasted, but quite soon the gimmick starts to feel overpowering and becomes boring. Bunnahabhain Darach Ur is a perfect example of this for me. Very strong spicy new oak made it very interesting and I loved it when I tasted it for the first few times, but nowadays I find it way less desirable, in fact I almost dislike it.

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smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

The Third Man posted:

What happened was I found a new favorite Scotch. I didn't think I would find anything I liked more than Ardbeg, but goddamn if that quarter cask didn't jump to the top of my list. I think that bottle lasted maybe 2 weeks, and I was holding back on that, too.

I will always remember when I tasted the Quarter Cask for the first time. I was shopping for a special whisky for my 30th birthday at the World of Whiskies at Heathrow airport terminal 1. After deciding on a Laphroaig 30, the older gentleman who tended the shop got really excited and gave a couple issues of the Whisky Magazine to me as extras, and started pouring me drams left and right.

One of the drams was the Quarter Cask. It was the first batch as it had just been published, and it was sublime. Intense peat and fruity sweetness, an explosion of flavour. I bought 2 litres of it immediately.

Since then I've gone through lots of bottles of it, some of them good, some great, one mediocre even, but nothing will compare with my experience with the Quarter Cask.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

Regarding the barrel aging part, buy a small oak cask, say 5 litres, fill it with sherry for three weeks, chuck out the sherry and pour your whisky in. The sherry should take out some of the strongest wood and add a bit to the aroma, and you shoild get a relatively quick maturation because of the very small cask. You could do the same with bourbon I guess, if you want to try additional maturation for a young bourbon.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

kaldas posted:

Yeah, like I said I have not tried the 14. But the 17yr is very sweet as you described. I personally enjoy it since I'm a big rum drinker/sipper and a lot of the sweetness found in some of those rums has been imparted on it.

I went through a bottle of both and have to say I liked the 14yo more. Actually so much I had to get another bottle of it. The 17 was good but wasn't nuanced enough to justify the lack of robustness when compared to the younger one.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

mojo1701a posted:

I know it's been said that if I can't remove the oxygen from a whisky bottle that's half-done, then I should pour it into a smaller bottle. But what kind of bottle is recommended/where can I get good bottles for this?

I've had bottles open for several years, even bottles with as little as 10cl in them, and the whisky stays good. It's true though that whisky changes a bit after opening when it's gotten some air. But usually it is a positive change, the whisky 'opens up'.

I don't think you need to worry. Just keep your bottles out of sunlight.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

pork never goes bad posted:

Sorry - I didn't mean to imply that those were things you said. I still think that they are true statements about the Scotch. Speyburn is loving rank. It is absolutely the $5 Vodka handle of single malts.

I've got to comment on this - I've gone through one bottle of Speyburn 10 and it was very decent. Long time a go so I can't remember all the details but it most definitely wasn't a bad whisky. Somewhat sweet, malty and easy to drink - the bottle didn't last long.

But this isn't the first time I've heard people claim Speyburn 10 is really bad - I have to wonder if it is batch variance as I quite honestly don't recognize the descriptions from my own experiences.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

Semprini posted:

I used to work in bars, and would flat-out refuse to serve someone a malt and coke.

Luckily my manager was of the same mindset, so complaints were swiftly dismissed.

I find this kind of attitude really annoying. Every now and then I like to drink my whisky in a weird way, just for fun. Like with ice, as a highball, with birch sap, coke, sweet mead, whatever. How I drink my malt is nobody elses business.

Nothing wrong with informing the customer that the way they want it served is generally considered wasting the drink. Or if principles really get in the way, selling them in separate glasses and leaving the destruction to the customer. But flat out refusing... no.

Oh and the laga-kahlua thingy sounds fun!

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

Vincent Valentine posted:

But if you order Liquor and Coke, you aren't ordering something because you like the taste. You're ordering it because you want to get drunk. The difference in taste between a rum and coke and a scotch and coke is negligible. Why bother? Just get some rotgut out of the well, throw it in with coke and you're set and everyone goes home happy. Taking really nice brands and giving them the same treatment is a sign that you don't care and just want to be drunk, and I hate dealing with drunks.

The taste between a rum and a coke and a whisky and a coke is negligible only if you use the cheapest swills available, when the alcohol rules over other qualities of the spirit. A decent rum works very nicely together with coke, I'm not sure why, probably because they are both based on sugar. Try mixing a premium rum like, say, Eldorado 15yo or a Zacapa 23 Solera and you have something really really nice in the glass. Based on my experience, scotch is definitely a weaker match for coke than rum. A peaty scotch can even be a bit nasty.

But then again, I've tasted scotch & coke only a few times. In general, I've liked blends better than single malts. It's actually on my todo list to explore the topic a bit more and I've been planning to run a tasting for whisky and coke, just for the hell of it. A couple of blends, a sherried speysider, something peaty (maybe a Lagavulin), something from first fill bourbon and maybe even some Japanese, Yamazaki 18yo should be excellent.

But I get what you are saying, it is annoying when you see someone downing a good whisky just for the alcohol in it, making obvious measures to 'hide the taste'. However, even then, refusing to pour the drink is in my opinion a drastic act, a bit of a 1920s thing.

smn fucked around with this message at Apr 10, 2012 around 21:49

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

spankmeister posted:

I still have an unopened Yamazaki SC.

I've emptied mine ages ago

Then again I think I like the Yamazaki 18 better, and I have one of those open!

*Goes to whisky cupboard*

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

Recently tasted: Octomore 4.2 Comus.

A positive surprise, heavy smoke and sauternes casks seem to work well together. I was expecting smoke for the sake of smoke, but this was actually a very good whisky.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

Last autumn I happened into a wine tasting where one of the wines had very clear but not overpowering cork taint in it. Fortunately the host had another bottle of the same thing, so we got to taste the real thing and the cork tainted version head to head.

This made me realize that I have had at least one corked whisky, a Longrow 14 that shared the very same weird characteristics than what was extra in that corked wine. In this case the whisky definitely wasn't flat, more like extra flavour. It had this potato peels + basement vibe on top of the more typical Longrow taste.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

Now drinking: Kilkerran WIP3.

Weird thing. I loved WIP1 and WIP2, but merely enjoy WIP3. The third one is definitely the most refined of them, but in the case of Kilkerran, that doesn't seem to be the greatest quality. This distillate seems to work better with a degree of roughness.

That said, I'll probably still get 3 bottles of WIP4.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

NightConqueror posted:

Whenever I mention to people that I'm interested in whisky, they inevetiably ask if I've tried Johnny Walker Blue Label. When I tell them I haven't they seem disappointed. Now, I've read the reviews and know that by all means its a pretty mediocre whisky with a hell of a lot of branding. Has anyone tried it?

Also, god drat, I could buy a Bruchladdich Octomore for virtually the same price. Or two bottles of Lagavulin 16.

I've tasted it a few times. Last time we had the Blue Label in a blend tasting not too long ago. Ended up being the crowd favourite. Granted, we only had one other 'super-premium' involved, Ballantines 21. As a whisky, it's a good one. But when considering the price point and the 'status' it has, it is an inevitable disappointment to most whisky enthusiasts.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

spankmeister posted:

The thing with Jura is that they bottle it too early. The 15YO is miles ahead of both the standard 10 and the superstition. It's just not really available and quite expensive.

Do you mean the wine-cask finished Paps series 15 year olds? But you're right about the age, seems like Jura needs a few more years in the cask. I remember tasting the 10, 16 and 21 side by side. The 10 was interesting but immature, the 21 already a bit too mellow, but the 16 was lively and just mature enough, a clear favourite.

I don't know why Jura is so badly regarded, they must have bottled some really weak batches that I haven't tasted or something. The Prophecy is my current favourite Jura, the boutique barrels have been wonderful too.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

biglads posted:

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Of course, Yamazaki 18 is another stormer if you are a bit richer.

Yamazaki 18 is brilliant, although I reckon it is slightly more about oak than sherry. What happened to them anyway, they used to be a steal for <70 a year ago and now they are way past 100 everywhere?

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

Did anyone else get the Master of Malt Whisky Advent Calendar? I've heard there are different versions out there.

Mine has so far yielded:

1. Oban 14yo
2. Auchentoshan Classic
3. Four Roses Single Barrel

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

spankmeister posted:

Got some Pig's Nose today. Jury's still out but it is indeed as soft as a pig's nose. Liking it so far.

I got a sample of this from the MoM christmas calendar, I remember it starting decently but in the end being way way too sweet for me.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

NightConqueror posted:

Out of curiosity, what ended up being the claimed "sample of 50 year old Scotch whisky" in the calendar?

Master of Malt 50 year old Speyside, 3rd edition. Tasted it last weekend, seemed to be a refill bourbon cask. Surprisingly lively for its age, not bad at all. Another good oldie in the set was a 40yo Glenfarclas.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

The Balvenie just released a new duty-free series called Triplewood, consisting of 12, 16 and 25 year olds. The cask recipe is apparently first fill sherry, first fill bourbon and 'traditional' casks, meaning probably refill bourbons. According to the shop clerk, they will be phasing out the 14yo Golden Cask.

I tasted the 12 and 16 on my way through Heathrow terminal 3. The 12 was really rich in flavour and texture, a massive sweetness/vanilla assault. Didn't end up buying that as it was a bit over the top for me, I would imagine getting bored of it after 1 or 2 drams. But the 16 was really nice and complex so I ended up with getting one for further analysis. A bit on the pricey side, but being a Balvenie fan I couldn't resist.

The 25 was priced at 299, which I just can't comprehend.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

NightConqueror posted:

Does anyone recall when there were genuine deals to be had at the duty free before it became a showcase for overpriced exclusive distillery bottlings?

Lagavulin 21 for 80 (110-120 at the time). Got some friends to bring it for me from Gatwick and they thought I was insane for buying two.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

Deleuzionist posted:

I'd also suggest trying either the Hakushu 12 or one of the Yamazakis (H for a floral, fresh character or Y for a woody, varnishy one) because those two represent the best of Japanese single malts. The other two, Miyagikou and Nikka are fine but I think H and Y have better balance.

I'm a huge Yoichi fan. I find the Yoichi 10 & 12 year old significantly tastier than the similar age Yamazaki and Hakushus. Same goes with the older aged ones, I'd put the 15yo Yoichi pretty much on par with the 18 old Yamazaki which I also adore. The high end Yoichis are just awesome as well and until late they've offered very good value for money.

Taste is personal as always, for me it is the robust/rugged spirit of Yoichi combined with the slight peatiness that hits my sweet spot.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

kidsafe posted:

Yamazaki 12 ($50) or 18 ($150) depending on your budget. You may find Nikka whiskies as well, but they are even more expensive and IMO generally inferior.

Back when Yamazaki 18 was available for around 80 it was an awesome deal, with the recent prices I would go for Yoichi 15 over Yamazaki 18 and Yoichi 10/12 over Yamazaki 12 any day. Not too much experience on the Miyagikyos but I have good memories of their 12yo, should try it again some time.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

wormil posted:

I was reading a discussion about making a whisk(e)y decanter and started wondering, what type of drinkers are most likely to decant their alcohol? Would it be someone who drinks the same brand all the time and wants a nicer looking container or someone who is more of a connoisseur? The former is probably brand loyal and doesn't seem likely to decant while the latter probably has a large variety and decanting wouldn't be practical. So maybe a person who only drinks socially and doesn't want a whiskey bottle out in the open? So who decants and why?

I can figure out pretty much one single modern use case for decanting a whisky: if I have a whisky I'm well aware benefits from being open for some time, like HP12, and I intend to use it as a session whisky when friends are coming over, it would make sense to decant it. Not a very common use case though.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

Deleuzionist posted:

Question: Does anyone have any experience with the malt called Kilkerran (Glengyle)? A friend gave me a taste of one of their work in progresses and to be honest I thought it wasn't that superb, kind of like a younger version of the dry and a bit stingy (yes, miserly with its flavours) Springbank 18. I'd like to know if anyone had a better experience with one of theirs.

I'm a fan of the Kilkerrans. Having tasted all the WIP expressions, I would really hope they bring out a regular 8yo in addition to the older ones, I think they aim for 12yo as the first commercial release. It's been fascinating to taste the development year by year, but they are also very good whiskies. Well maybe WIP1 was a bit too rough, but still tasty and interesting.

smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

Does anyone here have any insight on what happened with the Kilkerran WIP7 (Bourbon Wood)? The day I learned it was available it had already sold out everywhere. The earlier ones were never that popular and my understanding is that this was still a run of several thousand bottles. Is there some background story to this?

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smn
Feb 15, 2005
tutkalla

The bubble has also caused some dodgier and/or uninteresting japanese whiskies to appear on western markets, while years ago everything exported was of great value. Don't buy things like Fujikai 10, Akashi blended or Togouchi with the expectation of getting something special.

It's sad really. For several years I bought Yoichi/Miyagikyo single casks for insane value, now I haven't been able to afford a few of the latest ones. Yamazaki 18 used to be available for 69 a bottle, now it is past 200 where it can be found.

Looking at what's available on the market, Nikka from the Barrel might be the only one left giving good value for money.

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