...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Single Malt Report: A flock of Indies (Part 1) courtesy of OC Scotch Club

Back on July 12th, the OC Scotch Club convened at Stubrick's Steakhouse in Fullerton to sample a half dozen whiskys.  The tasting was mostly centered around single malt releases by independent bottlers.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I tend not to take extensive notes nor do reports on whiskies tried at public events.  Doing notes in these settings gets to be a bit socially awkward, plus it's not a quiet slow-whisky setup.  But I gave it try anyway, typing away madly, yet as inconspicuously as possible, on my phone.

I'm going to split this up into a three-part series, two whiskys a piece.


Whisky #1 - Glen Grant 15yr (G&M)

Distillery: Glen Grant
Ownership: Campari
Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail (G&M)
Age: minimum 15 years
Maturation: refill American Oak
Region: Speyside
Alcohol by Volume: 43% (has also been released at 40% and 46% ABV)

We started with my very first Glen Grant.  The indie bottler Gordon & MacPhail owns a ton of Glen Grant casks, some of which have been turned into bottlings over 50 years old.  They almost regularly release a 10yr, 15yr, 21yr, and 25yr Glen Grant just on their own.

I've personally never been bowled over by a G&M release, but that's never stopped me from searching them out and rooting for the company.  G&M's whiskys for 50+ distilleries are usually very well priced.

In this case I tried this Glen Grant 15yr in a 0.5oz neat pour in a Glencairn glass.

The color is a very light amber (note the picture above).  This light shade may lead the drinker to think the whisky has been sitting in 4th-refill casks, thus he or she will expect the oak will be shy.  But instead, the wood is louder than the malt on the nose.  It's buttery oak full of vanilla, coconut, and corn chips.  The malt is much louder on the palate, all cereals and white fruits.  The malt lives on, alone, in the relatively short finish.

It's not a grandiose whisky.  After the big nose, the rest of the whisky is very quiet.  Not much else to say about this one.  It was kind of a *shrug*, especially for a 15-year-old Speyside.

Availability - Some liquor specialists, though you'll need to do some hunting
Pricing - $65-$75
Rating - 74

Whisky #2 - Tamdhu 8yr (MacPhail's Collection)

Distillery: Tamdhu
Ownership: Ian MacLeod Distillers (previously owned by Edrington Group)
Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail (G&M)
Age: minimum 8 years
Maturation: refill American Oak
Region: Speyside
Alcohol by Volume: 43% (US release, the UK release is 40%)

Another release from G&M, this one from their "MacPhail's Collection" range.  This range also includes 8 year olds from Glenrothes and Highland Park (both from The Edrington Group).  The prices on these tend to be in the lower-risk range, as young lower-ABV whiskys should be.

The Edrington Group closed Tamdhu back in November 2009, but Ian MacLeod Distillers (owners of Glengoyne, blenders of Isle of Skye) bought the distillery two years later.  They're intending to get it up and running again this year.

I sampled 0.5 ounces of this whisky neatly in a Glencairn glass.

The color is light gold.  The nose has some big oak elements similar to the Glen Grant.  It's buttery and vanilla-y, but also grassy and a bit gassy.  (Note: Among the other tasters, I was alone on that gassy note.  Maybe it was me and not the whisky.)  The palate was very light, easy drinking.  More of the grassy notes with a lot of soft vanilla.  The mild finish carried notes of hay and citrus rind.

If I had to pick between these two, I'd actually go with this young Tamdhu (rhyme not intended).  Neither are great, but the Tamdhu is considerably cheaper and had a more significant palate and finish.

Availability - Some liquor specialists
Pricing - $35-$40
Rating - 75

Tomorrow, two more indie releases in Part 2......