Group Scotch Swap Tasting Notes

Discussion in 'Beer-It-Forward' started by ChicagoGuy, Apr 30, 2018.

  1. ChicagoGuy

    ChicagoGuy

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2015
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Tasting notes, pics, and general b.s.ing related to the scotch swap started here in the Scotch thread.

    Every participant received a 2oz sample of the following tasty beverages:

    • Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release - auracom
    • Ardbeg Grooves Committee Release - Max
    • Blair Athol 21yr Single Sherry Butt Cask Strength, "Distiller's Art Collection" (1995) - rrryanc
    • Clynelish 18yr Single Cask, "Duncan Taylor Dimensions" (1995) - ChicagoGuy
    • Glenallachie 8yr Single Sherry Butt Cask "A.D. Rattray Cask Collection" (2007) - Beerologist
    • GlenDronach 11yr Single Cask, Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon (2003) - Aaron From the Wood
    • Hazelburn 9yr Sauternes Single Cask (2007) - bum732
    • Hazelburn 13yr, Oloroso Single Cask (2003) - PHILIPPE
    • Ledaig 11yr Sherry Cask (2005) - The Red Viper
    • Linkwood Cote Rotie Finish "Gordon & Macphail Private Collection" (1998) - GRDave
    • Port Charlotte ( Bruichladdich) 7yr "The Cooper's Choice" (2007) - MikeJones

    Thanks to The Red Viper for organizing and distributing the samples!
     
    bum732, Gonzoillini, PHILIPPE and 7 others like this.
  2. ChicagoGuy

    ChicagoGuy

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2015
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    My daughters insisted I start with the Glenallachie 8yr Single Sherry Butt Cask because it said "BUTTS" on the label, which amused them greatly.

    [​IMG]

    Tried it as-is first:

    Nose: añejo tequila
    Taste: same
    Finish: HOT

    Then tried it with a teaspoon of water added:

    Nose: caramel, reposado tequila
    Taste: salted caramel, classic scotch-y taste
    Finish: sweet, relatively short

    Maybe I shouldn't have started with this one - I had a very hard time figuring it out. Delicious, but a bit advanced for me, I think. For shits and giggles, I had the girls smell it.

    Kid #1 said: "smells sour and tropical, and kinda like dry erase marker. Pineapple." (she thinks all scotches smell like dry erase marker)

    Kid #2 said: "I'm trying to ignore the alcohol smell; it smells peachy, and grapey, like wine."
     
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  3. ChicagoGuy

    ChicagoGuy

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2015
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Went with the Ardbeg Dark Cove Committee Release tonight to celebrate the kids going to bed.

    [​IMG]

    As-is first:

    Nose: cigar, dry leaves, campfire
    Taste: wood smoke, diesel, burnt sugar
    Finish: brine, buttery, surprisingly smooth


    Then with a teaspoon of water:

    Nose: maple syrup, smoked meat
    Taste: BBQ, butterscotch
    Finish: still briny & buttery

    This is a unique, interesting-as-hell scotch. I'm a big fan. It's intense, though - had to take my time with this one!
     
    bum732, GRDave, Gonzoillini and 8 others like this.
  4. The Red Viper

    The Red Viper

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    My first set of tasting notes (Glenallachie, Linkwood, Grooves, Port Charlotte) coming as soon as I can get a day off work...
     
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  5. ChicagoGuy

    ChicagoGuy

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2015
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Had the Port Charlotte 7yr last night.

    [​IMG]

    As-is:

    Nose: mezcal, honey
    Taste: tons of barrel, smidge of white sugar
    Finish: long, sweet, spicy

    With a teaspoon of water:

    Nose: melon, miso (that one's courtesy of my wife)
    Taste: honey, cinnamon
    Finish: long, mellow, cinnamon

    I found this one to be more along the lines of the "mainstream" scotches that I'm familiar with, but with the long cinnamon-y finish that I really enjoyed. I could totally see this one being a go-to splurge pick...I'll have to keep an eye out to see if I can catch it on sale.

    My wife's reaction: "it looks like Chardonnay...whoa, it made my mouth numb. Like Szechuan peppercorn!"
     
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  6. The Red Viper

    The Red Viper

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    Only worked for a few hours today after working 13 of the last 14 days so finally have some time to type up tasting notes I've been accumulating in my phone!

    First up, the Glenallachie, from Beerologist

    Nose: butterscotch or rum candy for days...once you get beyond that there's buttered popcorn, oxidized sherry, some funky fruit. No real change in character with water, maybe slightly stronger floral notes


    Palate: without water this is rather hot and hard to produce careful notes from—some of that butter and buttered candy but it's not totally dominant. With a little water (just enough to cut the heat, probably still in the mid to high 50% area) the profile is a lot more clear: flower tea, apple/pear, toffee, butter rum lifesavers


    Finish: buttered rum, floral tea


    Score: 77/100


    In a way this reminds me of Ben Nevis, if, say, someone had dropped butter rum lifesavers into their bottle of Ben Nevis (it also has some more typically Speyside character than Ben Nevis does although this is pretty far from your run of the mill sherried Speyside). What an interesting whisky, I like it a lot (although not as much as I like good Ben Nevis). This is my first Glenallachie so I'm left wondering if this is typical of their whisky at all.
     
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  7. The Red Viper

    The Red Viper

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    The Port Charlotte, from MikeJones

    Nose: creamy vanilla/butterscotch, butter and fried plantain, mild peat, hints of orchard fruit


    Palate: fried plantain, heavy cream, nuts, moderate peat (but not a lot of smoke), some grilled veggies...very full bodied for a 46% whisky and even a touch hot


    Finish: less going on here, sweet banana/plantain and some earthy peat, fades into a more medicinal smoke


    Score: 73/100


    This is really interesting and good. I don't think I've ever found that plantain character in a whisky before and if I have surely it was another Bruichladdich. Reviewing Bruichladdich always has me plumbing the depths of my weird fruit reference points, this is the first time there was such an obvious and easy call. Unfortunately the finish on this is disappointing or the rating would be higher. One of the very few 46% or lower whiskies I've had recently that I didn't find at all weak or disappointing in the palate.
     
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  8. The Red Viper

    The Red Viper

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    The Linkwood, from GRDave

    Nose: jammy raspberry (and some cherry), herbal red vermouth (actually even more like kalimotxo but that's probably a less familiar reference for most), violet, cedar, some ginseng


    Palate: cedar, confectioner's sugar, kalimotxo, floral candy...thin mouthfeel


    Finish: red grape, gummy bear, ginseng cola


    Score: 78/100


    What an unusual whisky—I've never tasted anything that made me think so much of kalimotxo that wasn't served to me by an amateur bartender in Catalunya (or made for me by myself while drunk at a campground in Catalunya). The cedar and ginseng notes are pretty unusual too. I really like it! Unfortunately it's pretty thin, not surprising given the proof. If this were available at cask strength I'd buy a bottle without question. I might look for it as is.
     
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  9. The Red Viper

    The Red Viper

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    Ardbeg Grooves, from Max

    Nose: this is Ardbeg all right—earthy smoke, chemicals/molten plastic, heavy char oak, hints of banana and red fruit, even a bit of cinnamon


    Palate: sweet vegetal peat, banana, vanilla, mild banana berry fruit...not only easily drinkable at cask strength but even seems a bit weak. I'd have guessed this was the 46% release if I didn't know better.


    Finish: sweet smoky fruit, vanilla ice cream...fades into more chemical/medicinal smoke and maybe some BBQ sauce


    Score: 70/100


    Fairly typical Ardbeg profile, on the sweeter side but the peat is there. Not a lot to show the wine influence other than some of the more subtle notes in the nose. I had high hopes for this after readings so many reviews that called it their best committee/Ardbeg day release in years, and given that it has red wine cask maturation which is one of my favorite things. And it's good, but really just a solid Ardbeg and not a standout. I liked Kelpie better, and definitely like Uigeadail and Corryvreckan better.
     
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  10. ChicagoGuy

    ChicagoGuy

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2015
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Tonight my kids picked the Linkwood Côte Rôtie for me, because of the "cool label" and "interesting" clear bottle.

    [​IMG]

    As-is:

    Nose: fresh red apple
    Taste: light-bodied, caramel, calvados
    Finish: medium, sweet, almost bourbon-like

    With a teaspoon of water:

    Nose: brandy and, it sounds weird, but, banana candy (like Runts or Laffy Taffy)
    Taste: very light-bodied, caramel, cola
    Finish: medium, straight-up Canadian Club

    I thought this one was a little thin as-is, but just a touch hot, so I added the usual teaspoon of water–

    [​IMG]

    It really muted the flavor and made it even thinner. It had some really interesting stuff going on before I added the water though, enough that I wouldn't be mad at having a bottle of this on my shelf. I'll just have to slap a sticky note on it that reminds me to man up and drink it straight :)
     
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  11. The Red Viper

    The Red Viper

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    The Clynelish 18 from ChicagoGuy

    Nose:
    tropical fruit (guava or papaya or something), macadamia nuts, some cherry, and some fresh scent like a burning candle called “Ocean Breeze” or some shit


    Palate: more coastal, some wax, a bit of salt, tropical fruit again...good mouthfeel and the strength is just right, rich and a bit of heat but not enough to need water


    Finish: again with the fresh candle/detergent scent, canned fruit salad


    Score: 79/100


    This is a really solid Clynelish, heavy on the tropical fruit side and light on the salt but well within house character. Would score this a couple points higher on nose/palate alone but the finish is less impressive. For context, this is actually one of three Clynelish expressions I tried yesterday--the other two (a 15 year 1995 from Douglas of Drumlanrig and a 13 year 1993 Gordon & Macphail Connoisseur's Choice) at a local bar alongside a 35 year Brora that I splurged on. This one was notably better than the 15 year (which was also on the fruity side but more simple and less coastal character) and less good than the 13 year, which was funky and milky and weird and probably my favorite Clynelish I've tried. Of course the Brora was better than any of them but still very close to typical Clynelish character.
     
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  12. The Red Viper

    The Red Viper

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    The Blair Athol 21, from rrryanc - Ryan do you know the cask number or distilled on/bottled on or abv info for this? Or just a picture of the bottle you can post? There are multiple 21 year 1995 Blair Athol bottles in the Distiller's Art series apparently.


    Nose:
    solvent alcohol, wax, grass and straw, grape and somes tinkier fruit I can't place...something warm and slightly herbal like licorice


    Palate: what on earth is this! This is like some kind of pungent freshly cut horseradish or especially strong onion layered with sauerkraut, and has that nose clearing, not exactly spicy quality of wasabi. Some floral and grassy notes, a trace of fruit and of nutty sweet sherry...but that's all buried underneath the totally strange pungent/savory stuff. I've never had anything like this. For whatever it's worth this has a really nice mouthfeel and full, rich flavor...if only the flavor were different.


    Finish: floral and grassy, that aromatic horseradish/sauerkraut character lingers


    Score: 48/100


    I love trying unusual whisky and this is certainly that. I can't say that I “like” it or want to have it again but still happy to add this to my weird whisky reference points. And it isn’t awful, it stands somewhere on the fence between offputting and intriguing. Sadly, though, I've now been disappointed by both of the first two Blair Athol I've tried. This was a distillery I had high hopes for and was really looking forward to trying (and was my second choice vote out of a bunch of options Ryan listed for this swap). Still want to try more in the hopes that these first two were just weird expressions, because there seems to be some interesting house character lingering underneath the oddness that could be something really nice in a better expression.
     
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  13. rrryanc

    rrryanc

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Sorry to hear that. I haven't had a chance to really try it yet, will when I get back. Will also post a photo of the bottle next week.
     
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  14. The Red Viper

    The Red Viper

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    No need to be sorry...this is one of the samples I was most excited to try. Single cask independent bottlings are a die roll sometimes. I’m really curious though what others think of this one.
     
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  15. The Red Viper

    The Red Viper

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    The Hazelburn 13 Oloroso from PHILIPPE

    Nose: lots of Springbank funk—the usual leather, hints of motor oil, some coastal sand and salt, even a bit of smoke—then mildly sweet sherry and tobacco; only the faintest whiff of apple/pear and banana


    Palate: a more moderate but still solid dose of funk, salty leather, sweet nutty sherry, some wafers/cardboard oxidized character, again only a whiff of fruit...good but less vibrant than the nose


    Finish: more funky again here, and as much on the motor oil side of funk as the leather...somewhat salty


    Score: 75/100


    You could easily mistake this for Springbank, there's a fairly strong suggestion of light smoke/peat. Good stuff but I wouldn't pick it over similarly priced sherried Springbank like the cask strength 12, which I find more complex and better. Then again, CS12 is also much heavier and more intense, and with the Hazelburn being unpeated and triple distilled it's naturally going to be lighter—I guess that's the point, and different palates might prefer this style.
     
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  16. The Red Viper

    The Red Viper

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2014
    Location:
    Knoxville, TN
    The Hazelburn 9 Sauternes from bum732

    Nose: I would never have recognized this as Hazelburn. Very sweet for Campbeltown, has a grainy/almost corn like alcohol character that I associate with Jim Beam (and with Pure Kentucky), then sugary flower notes like rose scented air spray, then fruit (banana, kiwi, lychee, apple juice)...I think I find some funk lingering underneath but maybhe only because I'm looking for it (though the funk does become more apparent with more time in the glass)


    Palate: again with the corn liquor thing up front, only after some time holding it in my mouth do I get the more interesting Sauternes-y floral and fruity (even vegetal, almost) notes. Follows the nose pretty closely. Warming, almost hot, but also feels thin/flat somehow. Definitely doesn't need water.


    Finish: more earthy and closer to what I expected here, some subtle tobacco and funk


    Score: 68/100


    This is pretty good but underwhelming. After seeing some very positive reviews, and after trying the fantastic Sauternes single cask Longrow, I expected a lot more. There's neither much Campbeltown style funk nor a lot of interesting cask influence. Happy to drink it but not something I'd buy a bottle of (and I'm glad I found that out through a tasting swap as I would likely have ordered a bottle blind otherwise, since Springbank is my favorite distillery and I usually find anything they release worth the price).

    If you'd asked me before I tried any what I expected my favorite whisky from the swap to be, I'd have guessed this one. Go figure.
     
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  17. Aaron from the Wood

    Aaron from the Wood

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Here's my first of the bunch. Linkwood 1998 Cote Rotie Finish from GRDave

    [​IMG]

    Nose: Cherry cough syrup, fresh green apples, and baking spices. Bread dough, and some vinous notes. Decent nose, but nothing that really draws me in.

    Palate: Woah, very interesting at first sip. Buttered bread and a wave of fruitiness up front. After delving into it for a while that fruitiness shows itself as orange marmalade, grapefruit, and boozy raisins. Like others have said, a bit thin on the palate.

    Finish: A mild and fruity, but fairly long finish with some buttery oak.

    Overall: This is kind of an oddball finish, but think it works. It makes for a nice warm weather dram that I could see myself enjoying outdoors in the sun.

    74/100 (This still qualifies as very good on my rating scale)
     
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  18. ChicagoGuy

    ChicagoGuy

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2015
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Tonight the one of the girls picked the Hazelburn 13yr Oloroso Cask for me. When I asked her what drew her to it, she shrugged and said "eh", then walked away.

    [​IMG]

    Nose: leather, sweet vermouth, hint of maraschino cherries
    Taste: whoa, so briny (me likey), sweet, underlying "classic scotch" flavor
    Finish: long, briny


    With a teaspoon of water:

    Nose: sweet red wine, more maraschino cherries, cork
    Taste: salted butter, sweet vermouth (did I say that already?)
    Finish: Long, more of that salted butter


    I'm a sucker for briny whiskeys (and whiskies), so this one was right up my alley. It was weird and familiar all at the same time. I could happily sip this guy all night long.

    I'm starting to realize that this scotch swap could end up being a very expensive endeavor for me, because I want to buy a bunch of these.
     
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  19. GRDave

    GRDave

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2013
    Location:
    Canuck living in Grand Rapids, MI
    Ok, I gotta say, my palate is nowhere near as adept as some of you. I can’t pick out distinct flavors, example: canned fruit salad. Segue into this...
    [​IMG]
    Random pick from the box;

    The Red Viper, me and the wife totally get the canned fruit salad, but I never would have picked it out of a lineup. Eyes opened when I asked her what she thought, then I read your description. Amazing

    Nose is very sweet, I totally get the tropical fruit, moreso before adding a splash of water.

    I liked the nose more before adding the water, but I liked the taste after. To me, it was almost too sweet before the water. I think it’s more due to my personal preference of liking peaty scotches.

    Thanks ChicagoGuy for the sample.
     
  20. bum732

    bum732

    Joined:
    May 8, 2013
    Location:
    MA
    Finally getting around to this. First up, Ledaig 11yr Cask


    (Link to media)


    Smell: Very heavy peat, more campfire than Laphroig phenolic, oak chips, some iodine including seaweed and some saltiness, butterscotch, really unbelievable nose, one of the best peat noses I've ever smelled.

    Taste: Not as strong as the smell, dry peat with a salty seaweed component, fairly hot being cask strength, clean overall.

    With water: Cuts the peat at its knees, some mint comes through, medium viscosity, still dry peat with a very long finish. Loads of creme brulee notes in the taste dancing well with the subdued peat with a touch of rose water, phenomenal.