Saturday, August 23, 2008

Caol Ila Sold at Martini Park

For those who like Talisker, among other smokey single Malts, Martini Park sells it. SMWS sells bottles from selected single casks in limited quantities. Of the Smokey scotches, I have yet to try Clynleish, which is supposed to be more peaty than the others according to some. Of the smokey single malts, I have tended to prefer 1992 Talisker Distillers Choice at this point.

Does anyone have other recommendations for a smokey single malt similar or arguably better than Talisker Distillers Choice? Are there any single casks of Talisker or the other Smokies that are more worthy?

Talisker Distillers Choice 1992 and Cantelope

I was toying with this combination this evening. It is worth the effort. Cantalope absorbs the Talisker Distillers Choice very well. Just make sure that the Talisker hits the center of your tongue.

I have also tried Dalmore's Cigar Malt with chocolate at the 2007 SMWS Extravanganza in Chicago. Has anyone had success with matching single malt scotch with fruit or other foods?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

SMWS Annual Chicago Event October 2, 2008 and Tasting Thoughts

This will be my fourth Scotch Malt Whiskey Extravanganza in October. There are well over a hundred and fifty different bottles to imbibe, one from Glenrothes retailed for over $1000; most don't. If you thought that scotch is an obnoxious and pretentious drink with very little variety, then think again. My interest started when a colleague brought me to Delilah's on Lincoln Avenue.

The nose (scent) on a unique cask of scotch is distinct. Most single malt scotches have significantly more flavor than blended scotch, IMHO. I was never a Chivas Regal nor Johnny Walker drinker. However, I will try a high end blend this year to confirm my preference. Keeping an open mind, I attended the 2005 event. Since than I purchased Michael Jackson's book and recently secured a used copy of David Wishart's "Whiskey Classified" on for around $11 plus $3.99 shipping.

Wishart is the most useful to me, but Jackson has more listings. If you prefer a particular distillery's scotch, then Wishart's book will refer you to others that are 'similar' in nose and taste. After my third year at the Extravanganza, I finally bought my first bottle last fall. I now have 12 bottles, some of which I inherited from family that visited Scotland, but chose not to open their Glenfarclas and Glen Grant. I did, but will likely hold onto them for others. Not all of my restaurant scotch orders have resulted in preferred discoveries. I find that the events make it easier for me to choose.

Personal Interests from 2005-2008

In 2005, I tended to prefer Balvenie, because it promoted its stock that was aged in Port infused, among other uniquely infused wood casks. Over the years, I found that other distilleries also used re-used casks. In the last year, I tend to prefer Talisker's Distiller's Choice and Glenrothe 1972, which are both distinct. I have tried the others, but tend to gravitate to those distilleries. However, I also felt it worthwhile to secure a bottle of Abelour "Abundah," which I also drink, as well.

I recently bought two more bottles for the Society's reserved casks that were chosen from Caol Ila (pronounced "kowel-EEL-ah") and Auchroisk (pronounced "oth-RUSK"). The former was chosen, because it had the same taste pattern as Talisker. I have secured a bottle of 1977 Dallas Dhu; this distillery was demolished and is no longer in production. However, the remaining Dallas Dhu casks are stored or already bottled by Signatory, among others, and remain affordable for the time being. Unlike wine, scotch has a following, but not as much and the bottles 'usually' last much longer.

Using a Glencairn Glass seems to make drinking a dram of scotch more enjoyable. The base makes it easier to agitate your dram to test the nose. If you allow scotch to touch the tip of your tongue, it can be unpleasant. You want the scotch to land in the center of your tongue based upon my experience and reading. It may look questionable, but it works. This glass makes it easier to position the scotch, so your tastebuds actually work. Although some insist on drinking scotch with some water, I have tended to drink it 'neat.' The society has downloads that help those with an interest to learn how to appreciate single malt scotch.

If you drink responsibly, that is a dram or two, a day, then it seems easier to appreciate and understand it. However, it is probably best appreciated in the right settings with others. The Society's events include a buffet of food geared to the scotch. Those who who study and are keen to this may try to select food to match the scotch. I have yet to figure the food thing out. I have the same challenges with matching food to tea when I follow Pettigrew's directions on drinking bulk teas.

Last year, Dalmore encouraged members to drink its Cigar Malt with chocolate. That was different, but amazing and it seemed to work. Since I gave up smoking manduros in 1997, the chocolate was better appreciated. In addition, the distilleries pass out anything from golf towels, polo shirts, and other Scotch knick knacks. The Society issues each guest a tasting glass and other items depending upon the year. In addition, it also has books, shirts, and bottles for sale to members and guests based upon my recollection.

Will I give up the hobby? I don't know. I hope that I can find the time to visit Leith. However, the Annual SMWS Chicago Events allow me a chance to appreciate this acquired taste and the unexpected varieties. Hopefully, others in Rogers Park will appreciate scotch. This way, we may eventually plan our own event with the interest and support of the SMWS.