As a point of tradition, we like to do a blind tasting at least once a year to test our palates. This time, our gauger put together a line-up of drams we’d previously tasted to see if we could pick them out, and if our preferences were the same if the brand was unknown.
The tasting notes below are people’s impressions and assumptions from before each whisky was revealed.
QMWS Port/Sherry Matured Dregs*
Virtually everyone assumed this was a well-rounded, commercially available single malt. Interestingly, all of the guesses as to what commercial dram it was, were all in whiskies that had been added to the blend in small portions. This included Auchentoshan Three Wood, Old Pulteney and Aaran Malt.
Unfortunately, we didn’t record exact measurements, thus could never recreate this blend again, but you can see the list of everything that was added to the bottle at the end of this article.
Being a smooth, easy-drinking whisky, many were leaning towards Highlands or Speyside for this dram.
There were a few though, who knew our gauger likes to add a bottle of Johnnie Walker Green Label to blind tastings, and assumed this was the night’s sneaky blend inclusion.
It’s in the blind every year and it rarely gets picked for what it is. This time, with some of us congratulating ourselves on discovering the Johnnie Walker in the previous bottle, concluded that this wonderful dram was more complex and most likely a more expensive bottle. Picking up on the light peat notes, we even thought it could have been from Talisker.
We obviously underestimated the Green Label yet again, and were pleasantly surprised to be reminded of what a good blend this really is.
Some of us must be more sensitive to peat than others, because Talisker had many of us divided. Some thought it had too much peat to be anything other than an Islay whisky, while others felt it was a cask strength Speyside whisky.
There were a couple of Talisker fans who recognised their favourite dram straight away, but kept their cards close to their chests.
The peat was getting unmistakeably Islay by this point.
While the names of the main distilleries of the island were bouncing around, the smooth, sweet peat of Laphroaig was pretty clear.
While the region was unmistakable, the Lagavulin did throw some off as it’s not their usual go-to Islay. Tasting it blind turned out to be a bit of an eye-opener as to how complex this peated single malt really is.
*QMWS Port/Sherry Matured Dregs – For those who don’t know, we have been pouring the small remains of tasting bottles into mix bottles, separated into general taste/ageing profiles. This bottle was a blend of whiskies that had been aged in port or sherry casks, accumulated since mid-2018.
Volumes weren’t recorded, but the blend included the following;
- Auchentoshan Three Wood
- Strathisla 12yo, Bourbon & Sherry Casks
- Glen Scotia Double Cask, Bourbon & Sherry
- The Kurayoshi, Japanese Sherry Cask
- Glendronach Cask Strength, Olorosso & Pedro Ximenez
- Old Pulteney, Duncansby Head Lighthouse
- Old Pulteney, Navigator
- Auchentoshan, Bartenders Malt
- Talisker, Port Ruighe
- Arran Malt, Cute Rotie Cask Finish
- Arran Malt, Port Cask