The participants: The Settler’s Liquor Store Tasting Collective (S.L.S.T.C), guided by Whisky aficionados BAD Wilson
The mission: Whisky & Whiskey
Time: Tuesday 5th September
Place: Another reputable Margaret River drinking establishment
Let us face the facts. Whisky is an intimidating spirit. It’s serious. Period. Especially Scottish
whisky. It doesn’t go down easy-peasy like vodka and it doesn’t go in wee fruity cocktails like rum. And you do not under any circumstances mix it with sugary candy-beverages! You also can’t knock it back with your mates at the pub like beer. There are serious consequences. Or even, as with wine, have sophisticated, convivial and communal tastings with the like-minded, whilst nibbling cheese and the like. It’s a drink for quiet reflection and contemplation. A drink to let others know that you’re not a wee bairn anymore. But never fear, even though drinking whisky is a serious business, it can still be seriously fun. And cool too (but that goes without saying)!
Ireland – Jameson (Alc: 40%)
Arah begorrah! We started the night with a ‘whiskey’ (Note: the Irish spelling). Apart from the added ‘e’, I’ve always been reminded of an old Pogues lyric when it came to Irish whiskey’s difference to Scottish whisky: “They never drank water but whiskey by pints/ And the shanty towns rang with their songs and their fights.”
No, I’m not referring to the songs and fighting, of course (Hello, Scotland!), but the easy drinkability of the Irish stuff. Jameson is a soft, light bodied, smooth number with spicy sweet honey notes. And triple distilled as a lot of Irish whiskey is. As Oggy said, “a good one to have in the house.”
Scotland (Blended) – Chivas Regal 12 year old (Alc: 40%)
Roughly nine out of ten bottles of Scottish whisky sold around the world are blends apparently –
that is, a mix of grain and single malt whiskies sourced from several different distilleries. Distilling whisky is a definite science, but blending has been described as art and alchemy, and with the brothers Chivas’ work, we are privy to a very fine example of the master-craft indeed. Sweet butterscotch and toffee notes, but far from cloying. Buxom, but not overpowering, this is a “blend for grown-ups.”
Scotland (Single malt) – Dalwhinnie 15 year old (Alc: 43%)
A single malt whisky is a 100% malted barley whisky from one distillery. Dalwhinnie Distillery, situated in the Highland village of Dalwhinnie, produces single malt whisky thus classified as a Highland malt. This has a toasted vanilla smokiness with hints of heather and peat. Some describe it as “dainty” and a whisky “suitable for the ladies”. Well, count me in too, kilt or no kilt!
Japan (Single malt) – Suntory Yamazaki (Alc: 43%)
This very fine whisky is a 12-year-old specimen and is a pioneering malt in Japan. Opened in 1923, Suntory was Japan’s very first commercial whisky distillery. This is multi-layered, to say the least, with varied fruit – peach, pineapple, cherry – and Mizunara aromas. A dash of water also unlocks its woody base notes. An intense, confident and elegant treat.
WA (Single malt) – Limeburners (Alc: 48%)
Limeburners distillery in Albany has very recently collected the 2017 trophy for Best International Whisky in the World at the American Distilling Institute’s annual spirits awards for one of its products. Just another example that Australia has definitely arrived in the whisky stakes. This example of their craft is a slow-burner with intense smoky medicinal qualities, which, again, with a dash of water, unleashes its “fresh cut timber” notes. Most impressive.
Scotland (Single malt) – Glenmorangie: Original (Alc: 46%), Lasanta (Alc: 43%),
Nectar d’Or (Alc: 46%), Quinta Ruban (Alc: 46%)
Glenmorangie is categorised as a Highland distillery whose main product is the range of
Glenmorangie single malt whiskies – their “core expressions” – including those that showcase the art of “extra-maturation” (transferring spirit first matured in ex-bourbon casks into ex-wine casks), so that they can gain further layers of flavour. So for example, the Lasanta is sherry barrel aged, and the Quinta is port barrel aged, with respective accompanying sherry and port colours, aromas, and tastes.
Scotland (Single malt) – Ardbeg (Alc: 46%)
The Glenmorangie Company also owns the Ardbeg Distillery on Islay in the Inner Hebrides group of Scottish islands. This is a heavily peated medicinal whisky that has the taste and aroma of burnt fishing hut or ‘smokie’ full of haddock. Sea-salty and magnificent!
I’d like to finish with a couple of serious quotes as befitting the subject and occasion.
“The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed.” – David Daiches, Scottish literary historian and literary critic, scholar and writer.
“My God, so much I like to drink Scotch that sometimes I think my name is Igor Stra-whisky.” – Igor Stravinsky, Russian pianist and composer.
John W.G. – Settler’s Product Imbiber & Director of In-Store Tasting Observation Studies