well another successful Robbie Burns tasting is over with eight whiskeys tasted, most of which we had not tasted in the past. We started with three blinds the first was a Canadian Rye Gibsons finest 12-year-old, it received the same reception it does every time we taste it. There is something about the sweetness inherent to corn and rye that it makes everyone happy. We followed that with a split tasting half of the room trying the clan Denny vatted malt and the other half tasting Chivas 18. I poured clan Denny this whiskey was extremely light in color and those with a hint of citrus and a very clean short finish it would be good for a pre-dinner dram but food would hide its subtle flavors. The last blind was the revelstoke spiced whiskey this liquid is an anomaly is Canadian whiskey made in Wisconsin and is technically a whiskey liqueur. There is a heavy addition of vanilla and spice and an underlying sweetness which makes this a great whiskey for mixing but straight up not a great choice.
We tasted five more whiskeys throughout the evening the first was the Isle of Arron 15-year-old anniversary edition this whiskey is aged in Amontillado Sherry casks that give the whiskey a reddish tint. The nose of this whiskey has strong cocoa powder and sulfur notes, the first impression on the tongue is somewhat tarry but it gives way to licorice notes. I was a bit unsure of this whiskey at the start but I warmed up to it as it sat on my tongue for a while. Before the next whiskey we had dinner, when we went back to tasting we started with anCnoc 12-year-old from Knockdhu distillery this is another light whiskey, and most people had trouble finding the flavors in this as their pallets were not ready after eating the lesson here is try a little coffee, or beer to cleanse the food from your pallet. I was talking to one member who suggested that perhaps mouth pH may have something to do with our inability to perceive flavors after eating. I will pursue some information on this.
Next up was Mackmyra special number 3 this is the first Swedish single malt we have tasted interestingly it is aged in small 30 L casks which include used bourbon, Sherry casks, and Swedish oak casks. This whiskey was surprisingly full-bodied with a real doughy or custardy mouth feel. I really enjoyed this whiskey. After that we moved on to the oak cross by compass box this whiskey is aged in a combination of used bourbon and French oak casks. this whiskey is also a vatted malt which effectively means that it is all single malt whiskey but from more than one distillery. It was hard to discern a difference caused by the French oak in this whiskey, there was a lot of wood in this whiskey but it did not have that classic French mouth feel. This is a good middle of the road whiskey that is not bad value for the money. The last whiskey of the evening was a monster, the Ardbeg supernova. This whiskey was selected by the whiskey Bible as whiskey of the year for 2010, at 160 ppm peat phenols it is one of the peatiest whiskeys we have ever tried. This whiskey lingers on the palate for ages. What is most striking about this whiskey is the balance between peat and drink ability, only after a few minutes does the peat overwhelm the palate.
As always these tastings end up with discussions about some portion of the process of making whiskey. This tasting most of the discussion was around barrels and wood affect, it is funny how some whiskeys seem perfectly balanced with the wood and others seem as though the wood is an afterthought. Personally I choose the whiskeys that have a complex relationship with the barrel.