Last night I attended an Edradour/Signatory tasting at Heights Chateau, my local wine/liquor shop. Ten scotches in an hour and a half, and probably the best local tasting I’ve been to in terms of host/taster interaction and sheer variety of whiskies. The team from signatory was light on the schtick - no kilts, just down to earth conversation - and I got to taste a wide variety of whiskies. Some of these were variations on old favorites, and others were brand new to me. Let’s dig in.
Honestly, this bottle might have been the surprise of the night. This is a bottle I own. A friend brought it to a party I hosted, but stacked against the Islays that dominate my collection we came away thinking it was a rather plain whisky. In a new context, this bottle came to life for me in a way it hadn’t previously. Made from 75% bourbon and 25% sherry casks, the color is white wine and the nose was sweet with some light sherry on the end. The taste was more tart and oaky with an upfront hit that I want to say is rubbery, but only because I can’t quite pinpoint the actual flavor. The finish faded much too quickly to pure heat, but this was a pleasant surprise after my previous experiences with this bottle.
This is the main single malt in the Chivas Regal blend. The color was white wine, and the nose was a fantastic combination of fruits, flowers and vanilla. I almost want to say like peaches and cream. The taste was more flowery with another flavor I couldn’t quite put a name to. The finish was medium long. Overall, this was like a more mellow (read: less floral/perfumey) Rosebank. Really nice and worth checking out.
Bladnoch 1992 Un-Chillfiltered
Only independent bottlings of this are available. Again there is a floral nose, but it is different from the Caperdonich. There is a scent reminiscent of the butter on movie popcorn. This carried over to the taste, but faded quickly to a purely hot whisky when some water was added. The finish had a perfume quality reminiscent of a lowland scotch and it built up as I took more sips. Overall, it was too much flowers and perfume, and I wasn’t loving this scotch.
The Glentrothes 1994 Un-Chillfiltered
Made from 100% bourbon casks and a nice gold in color, this was a smooth scotch that had a lot of vanilla on the nose and a citrus taste. It’s more complex than most offerings from the Glentrothes, and it lacked the “tequila nose” I normally associate with the Glenrothes. It’s also a lot bigger than a normal Glenrothes - maybe that’s the non-chillfiltering coming through.
Highland Park 1985 Cask Strength
This is a 20 year old HP bottled at 54%. There’s peat and salt on the nose, and a whiff reminiscent of black magic marker. The taste is salty, and this is much more aggressive and less creamy than the 15 or 16 year old. It’s closer to a Laphroaig than most Highland Parks that I’ve tasted.
Ben Nevis 1992 Sherry Cask
The color is coppery on this sherry monster. It tastes like the Mortlach 17 I have from Malt Trust.
Caol Ila 1996 Un-Chillfiltered
Getting towards the end of the night, my tasting notes start to taper off, but I noted that this white wine colored dram had the typical coal smoke flavor of Caol Ila with some salt and brine, and a finish that went on forever. I’m always a big fan of Caol Ila and this was no exception.
Port Ellen 1982 Un-Chillfiltered
This was the dram that paid for admission to the tasting ($30 for the whole event). Pale gold in color, this 25 year old had the typical tangy smoke of Port Ellen. Energetic.
Edradour Ballechin Madeira Matured
This was a star of the evening. Coppery gold in color with a massive amount of peat on the nose (50 ppm), this old farmhouse whisky seems simple, but then the madeira begins to creep out behind the peat, adding a layer of complexity. Really nice if you are a peathead looking for something different. The craziest fact of all, it’s only a 5 year old! This one is going on my Christmas list.
Laphroaig 1991 Cask Strength
My notes are non existent here, but if I remember correctly this 16 (?) year old was less like the 15 year old or the new 18 and more like the Cairdeas festival bottling (at least on the nose). Most interesting, it stood up well to the monster peat of the Ballechin.
As an added bonus, I got a sneak peak at the Edradour Ballechin Olorosso matured whisky due out later this year. Hard to do a solid tasting after 10 whiskies, but this had a similar profile to the Madeira matured Ballechin - which is to say it was great - but I’d need to do a real side by side when I’m sober to get a good comparative analysis.
Elana at Heights Chateau also generously shared some slightly-watered Octomore, which I found to be surprisingly balanced for all the hype about the peat levels. Thanks for the taste, Elana. I owe you a dram of Supernova when I get my bottle. And congrats to you and the guys from Signatory/Edradour for an excellent event.