...where distraction is the main attraction.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Notes from a tasting: Peatin' Meetin' Whiskies at Home, Part 2

To recap, while I did attend Peatin' Meetin' this year, I did not drink during the event.  Instead I picked up a baker's dozen samples, all of which I will be tasting in the controlled environment of my home.

Most of these samples are 0.5oz (unless otherwise noted), so I probably won't be providing numerical grades.  Instead, I'll be giving each one a letter grade range.

Last week I tasted four of the samples, this week I did three.  Here's the list:

-- Balvenie 17 year old Islay Cask (OB, 43% ABV) - Grade Range: B-/B
-- Loch Lomond Peated, green label (OB, 46% ABV) - Grade Range: D+/C-
-- Bowmore 16 year old 1990 Sherry Cask (OB, 53.8% ABV) - Grade Range: B-
-- Laphroaig 13 year old 1994 (Cadenhead, 54.7% ABV) - Grade Range: B-/B
-- Bladnoch Lightly Peated 11 year old 2002 K&L exclusive (OB, 51.5%)
-- Longrow 10 year old Sherrywood (OB, 46% ABV)
-- Laphroaig 15 year old 1998 K&L exclusive (Signatory, 61% ABV)
-- ???
-- ???
-- ???
-- ???
-- ???
-- ???

Bladnoch Lightly Peated 11 year old 2002 K&L exclusive (OB, 51.5%)
K&L picked up three single barrels of Bladnoch directly from the distillery: this one, a 4yo, and a 23yo
Nose -- Oakier than it looks, with some wood pulp and butter going on, though that part isn't too strong. The peat reads as a recently snuffed bonfire. There's a larger note of lemon peel and a hint of fresh peach.
Palate -- Lots of citrus.  A very nice bitterness, light sweetness.  A rye-ish spice meets a gentle mossiness and a peep of tropical fruit.
Finish -- Mild spice, mild bitterness.  Hot cereal and caramel.

Grade Range: B
Even though it probably would get lost at Peatin' Meetin' amongst the heavy hitters, this is actually a very solid mild peater.  For me, it's one of the rare whiskys whose palate trumps its nose.  I liked it even more than the Cadenhead Laphroaig.  If the Armstrongs had figured out how to nail this as a 46% ABVer, it would've been very nice in a regular Bladnoch range.

Longrow 10 year old Sherrywood (OB, 46% ABV)
original part of the regular range, it was discontinued sometime around 2008
Nose -- The sherry note itself is subtle as everything has merged together lushly. Tropical fruit, toffeed peat, milk chocolate, faint smoke, orange peel, maple, and a hint of oats.
Palate -- A quirky start: mint and basil and caramel sauce meet a very farmy peat.  Then there's black licorice, a little salt, and a lotta malt.  Fresh cherries in simple syrup develop over time.
Finish -- Long. Loads of malt. Peppery spice and peat residue. Cherry candy and fresh oranges.

Grade Range: B+/A-
Good god.  Springbank, please bring this back.

Laphroaig 15 year old 1998 K&L exclusive (Signatory, 61% ABV) 
I grabbed almost a full ounce of this stuff, which had been aged in a refill sherry butt
Nose -- A summer meadow, then that same meadow burned down.  Wheat bread toast and aged dry cheese.  There's some meaty sherry in the background, along with a little bit of floral stuff, farmy notes, and orange peel.  With water, it develops dog fur, pepper, bacon, and hay notes; and becomes less smoky in the process.
Palate -- Intense char, menthol, and hops. Sherry and prunes at the very edges. Some earthy notes in there too.  With water it gets hoppier and sweeter; the smoke fades and the peat moss builds.
Finish -- Charred peat and a soft floral note. Next-day cigar mouth.  With water, the smoke returns along with a spicy bite.

Grade Range: B/B+
The nose gets the B+.  Overall, pretty good, quality-wise comparable to the better official 10 year old CS batches.  I could understand paying $100 for this, but $170?  Not I.

That was a happy trio. I liked all three better than any of the four from last week.  Longrow 10 year old Sherrywood is in first place, with Loch Lomond Peated (green label) safely in last.  I won't be able to post next weekend, but I'll get the next round of Peatin' samples in as soon as I can.