Whisky Tasting January 2016

The first meeting of the Grand Central Malt Whisky Society for 2016 was held in the laneway dining area of TANK Bar at 32 Turbot Street on Wednesday the 27th January. It was an interesting start to the year with Ian the only committee member present, one regular and three new guests who were much younger than our usual crowd. Unfortunately, most of the other committee members had prior commitments to attend to, so Filip left the night’s whisky’s in our eager yet capable hands.

We started with the Craigellachie, a 13-year-old single malt from Edward and Mackie. This distillery is situated on a rocky bluff over the rivers of Fiddich and Spey in the Speyside region. It’s non-chill filtered and uses an old worm tub structure in the distilling, which is a copper tube in a large tub of cold water, snaking back and forth before narrowing at its end. It gives the whisky a robust, almost meaty characteristic and is why this scotch touted to be “considered old fashioned in 1891.” We found this whisky to be rather bold with spicy, smoky flavours, while still containing some floral, fruity scents to the nose.

Next we moved on to a 10-year-old Aberlour, another Speyside whisky of notably different flavour. Starting as a classic Speyside malt, Aberlour age their whisky in a combination of traditional and sherry oak casks for a minimum of 10 years. It created a very smooth dram with a gold colour, subtle autumn fruit aromas and a light caramel flavour. On the lower end of the price range some of us thought it would be a handy bottle to keep for cold nights or when friends who aren’t used to whisky pay a visit, as the smooth flavour would make for an easy introduction to the world of malt whisky.

Finishing on the newest distillery, Kilchoman started in 2005 at Machir Bay, Islay, where the next youngest distillery is over 120 years old. This single malt is non chill filtered and matured in bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry butts, ending up with a clear, beech colour. While no age is displayed this new whisky held its own, displaying far more character than anyone was expecting. It has a strong peaty aroma, while the tongue enjoys mixed fruit flavours and sweetness. It has a long, lingering finish which is being claimed as Kilchoman’s signature characteristic.

Considering the low median age of our tasting group the night’s scores were rather surprising. The Craigellachie was well received, scoring an overall 7.3 out of 10, while the smoother, softer Aberlour was only seen as a 6.7 after the robust flavour of the first drink. It was the peaty aroma and lingering finish of Kilchoman that turned out to be the favourite of the night, scoring 7.7 and meriting a few more tastes just to be sure.

Overall it was a good night that served to kick off 2016 and introduce new guests for the year ahead.

Nath Martyn