Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Two's Company

This weekend we were visited by a friend from Edmonton, and I was able to partake in a couple of drams with him. It was great having company, and especially nice to be able to have someone to bounce perceptions of the scotch off of. As an added bonus I got to go skiing with him yesterday, and fortunately there was some fresh snow to top it all off! The skiing was almost as good as the scotch.

Laphroaig 10yo

Saturday night we had a wonderful dinner (Boromir burgers and Faramir Fries) and got us set up with some Laphroaig from my "collection." I really enjoyed this one and I spent a long time enjoying both the nose and the tasting experience. I was enjoying the nose so much that my wife told me that my breathing was annoying her. I guess I'll have to "breathe" quieter when I am tasting. Anyway, apart from the carmelly smell this time I was able to pick up a mildly fruity smell that I couldn't identify. I looked in my book for some possible aromas, and found that it seems to be closest to plums. I really like the taste of this one as well, it is more mildly smoky than the Ardbeg I like, but still very nice. When I tasted this one this time though I tasted a very woody flavour, like oak. This was definitely new for me and made it that much more enjoyable.

Lagavulin 16yo

Sunday night was my birthday and we went out to the Bull and Bush for dinner. I had the shepherds pie again, which I really like, along with the Big Ben Brown ale (second only to the Man Beer IPA if you ask me). For my after dinner scotch I ordered the Lagavulin 16yo. It's a little more expensive than I usually spring for, but it was my birthday, so I figured what the heck. I've heard good things about this one, and it did not disappoint. It has a very dark colour, burnt amber I would say, and a wonderful caramel/smoke aroma. The taste of this one was really outstanding though, very smooth with a subtle smoke taste. The smoke in this one I found was more woody rather than peaty I think, and the finish was almost sweet. It was a great scotch, one that is definitely worth the extra money, but I probably won't be springing for a bottle of it any time soon.

Next week I have a conference to go to in Monterey, which I am looking forward to a lot. Usually one of the companies holds a drawing for a bottle of scotch (this is how I got my first bottle), so with a little luck I may have a new one to try when I get back! Here's hoping!

Monday, April 05, 2004

Old Faithful

Friday night I had the opportunity to have dinner at the Bull and Bush with my boss. It was great! Had a couple of "Scottish Ales" to start off and their Shepherd's Pie, which is very tasty. The beers here are all great, and I have yet to find one that I have been dissapointed in. But I don't take my beer tasting as seriously as my scotch, so there is no blog for that. I do not enjoy most "export ready" beers (i.e. if a country is willing to let them cross the border, then it's probably not worth drinking anyway), and if I have a choice I will always pick the "microbrew." At the Bull and Bush they are all brewed in-house, which makes them all a safe bet. They do not do a second fermentation to make the bubbles, however, opting to carbonate with CO2 from a tank. The resulting bubbles are different, and take some getting used to, but I have found that this results in a less acid taste and I now appreciate that more. It lets the hops shine through!

Anyway, the star attraction for the evening was the scotch to end the meal. The waitress had brought out water for everyone before the meal was done, so I was able to prepare for the tasting a bit. I first ordered a Talisker, but they were out so I went with my old faithful Ardbeg 10yo. This was the first Islay malt that I had the opportunity to try (also at the Bull and Bush) and it probably was responsible for cementing my love of the peat reek. It never dissapoints, and I would love to be able to find a bottle of it, but it is not usually in stores. When I find one, I'll buy it for sure, even if the money isn't there! For now I'll have to settle for the few drams I get to enjoy at the pub. When it arrived I set out to enjoy the nose of this whisky. From afar, the caramel aroma is almost impossible to miss, and I don't see how I've never smelled it before the Bowmore. As the glass is brought closer to the nose, the caramel yields to the more pervasive smell of smoke. I have not been able to make out any other components of the nose yet, but perhaps as I get more experienced, I'll be able to pick out the more subtle aromas. Also, the glass that they served it in (a mini snifter) is not my favorite for nosing so that can make a big difference as well. This scotch is very pale in colour (yes, I know I am in the US and should be spelling color like that, but I think when describing a scottish drink the UK spelling is appropriate) and it is fairly viscous, very smooth in texture. The tasting is where this one really shines. It is a very smooth scotch considering its age, with no strong attack, and I find that at no point does the alcohol outdo the flavours. It's a mouthful of smoke at first, with a briny finish, but everything seems to work so well together. There are some lighter flavours as well, but I have yet to put a name to any of them. Needless to say, I enjoyed this drink thoroughly down to the last drop. I'm always sorry to see this one finished, and it is still my favorite! Good health!