Whisky tasting notes: September 2021

I recently attended my first in-person whisky tasting since Scotland’s pandemic restrictions were eased. Everyone was double-vaccinated and had taken lateral flow tests to confirm they were safe to sit next to (biologically speaking).

My standard disclaimer: I know nothing about whisky. I jot down how each one makes me feel (in my own way), and it’s entirely possible if I tasted a particular whisky again I’d come to a completely different conclusion (depending on my frame of mind.) Regard these notes more as an exercise in creativity than a comment on each dram!

Notes: 2 September 2021

Tonight we had seven whiskies: a group of three to compare, a pairing, and two individual drams.

Whisky 1a)

  • Colour – photographers’ golden hour.
    Nose – a healthy selection of fruit and nuts.
    Palate – tangy and slightly spicy, like an antique, ribald cartoon postcard from a foreign country over 100 years ago.
    Finish – The illicit pleasure you got from picking your nose and eating it when you were 5 years old and your mother had told you in no uncertain terms to stop doing that.
    (Royal Brackla, 10yo, 40%, bought in 2004)

Whisky 1b)

  • Colour – a pale September evening sunset.
    Nose – a whiff of glue and nail polish from 10 metres away.
    Palate – sweet, liquorice.
    Finish – Faint heat, like you’d get in a shower in a hotel that hasn’t been renovated since 1980.
    (Royal Brackla, 12yo, 40%, £45)

Whisky 1c)

  • Colour – dark, like a prowling assassin.
    Nose – wraith-like and intangible.
    Palate – a faint sensation that’s just enough to alert you.
    Finish – The quiet satisfaction of outwitting a deadly opponent, spoiled only by a celebratory cup of tea that reused a teabag, resulting in colour but no taste.
    (Royal Brackla, 12yo, 46%, released 2019, made available in 2021)

Whisky 2a)

  • Colour – none at all.
    Nose – ew, prison sex.
    Palate – That PE lesson you had when you were 9 years old that resulted in you sitting in a courtroom pointing at different parts of a doll.
    Finish – A night out with Harvey Weinstein made into liquid form.
    (this was a newly-made spirit by one of my fellow tasters; if you look up ‘awkward’ in the dictionary, you’ll see a screenshot of the moment I read my thoughts out to the room)

Whisky 2b)

  • Colour – that first piddle you have when you’re out having drinks; and like a can of Pringles once you pop that seal you won’t stop until everything’s empty.
    Nose – the nail varnish remover you need to use after a particularly interesting night out.
    Palate – Is this one of those rye grain whiskies? I’m getting ‘Willy Wonka cooking meth’ vibes. I really like this, and it’s a contender for favourite of the evening.
    Finish – Four out of five children meeting a grimly comic fate in Wonka’s factory.
    (9-month-old spirit from the same fellow taster as above; this one has spent 6 months in European oak and 3 months in a sherry cask; not a whisky, legally speaking, as the minimum age must be 3 years)

Whisky 6 of the evening)

  • Colour – the deep red sun visible over Sydney during Australian arson season.
    Nose – faint, subtle liquorice.
    Palate – fuck me, this blew my head off. This is what happened at Chernobyl when they pressed the AZ-5 button. I am now warm and pink-faced and have a life expectancy under five years.
    Finish – Like modern action movies: all spectacle but no substance. The impression it creates is that it’s trying to create an impression.
    (“A sample from a Speyside distillery that shall remain anonymous”, 10yo, 63.1%, from 2011 and bottled in 2021)

Whisky 7 of the evening)

  • Colour – cornfields in the late-summer harvest. Fuck off, that’s poetry that is. God I’m drunk.
    Nose – Edward Woodward acting as the centrepiece of a summer solstice celebration, while Christopher Lee dances around him.
    Palate – Very sweet, like honey-roasted ham. In a sugar factory.
    Finish – I could easily have more of this, but I have been drinking for a very long time now…
    (Lagavullin, 11yo, 46%, £56)

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