Whisky tasting notes: November 2019

I go to the Jolly Toper whisky tastings at the Kilderkin pub in Edinburgh. I enjoyed it so much, I’ve been going back ever since, every third Thursday. Happily, there were two tastings in November (just as well; I missed the one in December…)

Be advised: I know nothing about whisky. I cannot discern the flavours other people can, and I couldn’t tell a good whisky from a bad one. All I can do is jot down how it made me feel, in my own way… of course, it’s entirely possible I could taste a particular whisky again and come to a completely different conclusion. A lot depends on my frame of mind: how tired I am, what kind of day I had at work, what I ate earlier on, and so on. So regard these notes more as an exercise in creativity than a comment on each dram.

Whisky tasting notes, 7/11/19

Whisky 1)

  • Inoffensive smell, nothing distinctive in flavour. Like a computer game character with all the options set to ‘default’. It’s not Famous Grouse, is it? In music terms: “Nowhere Man”. In literature terms: Alexander McCall Smith’s books – bland, forgettable, nothing happens. This is the “seven copies of the same book in a charity shop” of whiskies. Like a neutrino, it passes through you without you noticing. In lovemaking terms, it’s the “Is it in yet?” of whiskies.
    (Fuji Sanroku/ Japanese Kirin Whisky blend, 50%, no age statement, £18)

Whisky 2)

  • Is this watered down? Reminds me of Churchill’s description of “being shot at to no effect”, but without it being in any way exhilirating. This is Marilyn Monroe standing over a subway grating, but nothing blows her skirt up – she’s just standing there. As dangerous a being tapped on the head by a ping pong ball. Like a vote for the Greens – why even bother? It’s a Ronnie Corbett monologue; the shipping forecast; the sound of your mum telling you to stop climbing that tree – you can just ignore it.
    (Murray McDavid blend with 99% Balvennie, 26yo, 44.1%, £103 seriously you’re taking the piss)

Whisky 3)

  • Smells of fuel. Sharp and warm. Like stepping off the train at Waverley when the castle and gardens are lit up at night, after a dull day in cold, relentlessly grey Aberdeen. There’s life and liveliness to this one the first two didn’t have. Not much flavour, mind you – just warmth.
    (Loch Lomond 14yo 56.7%, £61)

Whisky 4)

  • Interesting. Dark colour, sweet, chocolatey smell, spicy on the tongue. Yes, this is the stuff! This is the “great night out wearing your lucky underpants and you’ve pulled” of whiskies. You’ll let it do anything to you. You’d let it dress you up in women’s clothes, mess around with gender roles, line your eyes and call you pretty. I would treasure this whisky for special occasions.
    (Deanston distillery 10yo 67.6%, £79 and worth it)

Whisky 5)

  • Peaty. Smoky. Californian wildfires. But – there’s flavour and interest here. God knows what, because I’m drunk now. Happy arsonist whisky. Soft, kinda creamy flavour? Many scents and flavours at work here. It’s warming and interesting and I’d like to get to know it better.
    (Ballechin 15yo 52% £fuck knows)


Jolly Toper Whisky Tasting notes 28/11/19

Whisky 1)

  • Initial whiff of nail polish. Feels underpowered – might polish a solitary cat’s claw and then run out. Unexpectedly warming, like that match you didn’t blow out properly and now you noticed your trouser leg is gently aflame (but you can deal with it). Faint reassuring sting, like when your mum cleaned up that grazed knee you had when you were four years old and it was all going to be better. It’s a gentle take-off. The pilot episode. It’s ‘gezellig’.
    (Kininvie blend, 48.2%, no age, £49; a mix of whiskies 2 and 3)

Whisky 2)

  • Strong smell. It reaches out to your nostrils like Cthulu’s tentacles. Caramel smell? Liquorice? Magic? Is this another rye/corn whisky? Fuck wow. Like being a sugared-up child absolutely hyper, and there’s a whole playground to explore. Tastes of youthful energy. This is the essense the Skeksis needed to live forever. This is the Nyan Cat meme in liquid form.
    (Kininvie grain 90%barley 10%rye, 47.8%, £49 YES I was right!)

Whisky 3)

  • Dull stench of sweat, piss and BO like a boys’ school gym changing room; get me the fuck out of here.Tastes of bitter regret and haunting childhood memories. Adding water only adds tears. Hot-ish finish, like those flashbacks you get to the worst moments of your life. Like crossing a bridge a night, gazing across the inky black waters far below, and you really do think about jumping (for a moment).
    (Kininvie triple distilled 47%, £49)

Whisky 4)

  • Sharp, a bit nippy on the nose to begin, like a parrot that says “Give us a kiss” and then bites you with its beak. Spicy. Fruity smells coming out now. Faintly smoky and warm, like visiting granny’s flat. It’s a blend of everything you think a whisky should involve. I’d use this to introduce people to whiskies, as an overview.
    (Thomson Bros. blend, 44.5% 38yo sherry cask 1980, £190 holy shit that’s out of my league)

Whisky 5)

  • Can smell the smoke a mile off. This is what Anakin Skywalker smelt when he became Darth Vader. Getting a Wicker Man vibe from this. Or that girl at the end of ‘Candyman’. Hint of chocolate maybe? Or fruit? Nope – just more smoke.. Smoky, peaty whiskies don’t really tickle me as much.
    (Isla Journey blend, 46%, £32 because the budget had been blown with number 4)




One response to “Whisky tasting notes: November 2019

  1. Pingback: Whisky tasting notes: October 2021 | Observaterry·

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