One fine monsoon weekend, a few folks decided to get together for a lighthearted whisky activity.
- Individual rating
- Discussion with comparisons and speculating
- Reveal and revisit
In front of us were 5 drams, pre-poured and covered. The rules were simple:
- Label our rating sheets with our initials and corresponding whisky letter “A… B… C…” as per our table mat
- Sample each whisky then rate out of 5 on its nose, palate, finish and overall character & complexity
- Individual activity only – strictly no speaking, comparing impressions or ratings
- 15 minutes only start to finish then pencils down! Just like in an exam…
- Beyond that no rules – could get up and walk around, write down more than just the score, whatever worked to achieve a complete rating within the allotted time!
The clock started, the covers came off and the whisky speed dating began…
Part 1 – Speed tasting and rating
Now… I must confess… I could not rate without documenting my impressions. Long ago I made a conscious decision to not numerically ‘rate’ whisky. So I have never ‘trained’ myself or had the ‘discipline’ of putting hard numbers next to the different elements.
So I pulled out my handy whisky tasting notebook and busily began to scribble random thoughts. That helped sharpen focus and give me enough to then make a split second assessment of each.
Part 2 – Comparing, discussing and guessing
The first question was – are all of these whiskies? Yes.
Then whether some were bourbon, most thought two were ryes… With our votes on which could possibly be which.
Talk turned to some of the different characters – one reminded of cognac cask matured whiskies. Another had peat. We took a stab at guessing some were not Scottish…
Then we shared our individual top rated dram with the overall “winner” the 4th whisky (D) as it had the most character with both sherry and peaty elements.
Part 3 – Revealing…
This is where the real fun began… three were Jim Murray’s 2016 Whisky Bible winners, one was an Irish grain and the winner? A house blend made by accident more than design!
- A – Hyde Single Grain Burgandy Finish 46%
- B – Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye 45% – Jim Murray’s #1
- C – Pikesville 110 Proof Straight Rye 55% – Jim Murray’s #2
- D – House blend using left-over Glendronach 15 year as the base with Islay malts added
- E – Midleton Dair Ghaelach 58.7% – Jim Murray’s #3
What a surprise and what a treat!
Click on the links above to ready my hastily scribbled notes compared with Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible or official tasting notes, where applicable.