The 3DC’s G+ Hangout Virtual tasting recap

I (Jason/Seamus) owe a huge thanks to Raz for working hard to guide us through the drams, and to Fergus for organizing such a stellar group meetup in the Bay area. All in all, I had the easy part: some basic marketing and logistic coordination to get it up and running, which was made nearly painless by Google.

From my perspective… all in all I consider our first virtual tasting to have been a mild success. While it was great to see so many people gathered for the tasting, I didn’t get the deeper interactions we’ve experienced at more official seated tastings. Our largest hurdle was some of the tech issues with sound, causing some feedback and echoing through much of the event. This helped to focus the 3 larger groups within themselves and treat the camera as merely another observer rather than using the camera to speak directly to the other participants.

So, what went well? Logistically, we were able to gather and get the hangout up and running easily. The kits were all shipped on time and contained the right products. We had enough connection slots for those who wanted to join thanks to organizing in groups to minimize the overall number of connections (hopefully something we won’t have to worry about in the future if Hangouts on Air are rolled out to us).

What didn’t work as well? As noted about, the sound issues prevented clear communication. Some groups rushed through the drams and some lagged behind, creating a disconnect in attempted discussions. I found that the discussions were so chaotic at times, that I was unable to take proper notes in my 3DC Tasting Notebook, leaving me without clear ideas about the whiskies we tasted, just general impressions. And, overall, we didn’t lead as well as we could have.

So… what, then, can we do differently to improve? Glad you asked 😉

First off, I believe any of our future virtual tastings need to be run like a proper conference call (I blogged about how to do this over on my work blog). Defining a specific speaker/host, ensuring everyone is muted unless speaking, and really focusing on guiding a collective tasting will take us far. A free for all is simply too chaotic.

Secondly, while the group environments helped to make the tasting fun for those in the groups, the dynamic unfortunately left our individual attendees faltering about for a bit while the groups talked amongst themselves. Again, this is where a driven leader, combined with controlled and focused groups would help us provide a much greater benefit to all attendees/participants.

I do believe that with a little more effort and a bit more focus we can run some really great and educational hangouts via GooglePlus. The tough part, as I see it, will be in retaining that 3DC personality to ride the line between fun and chaos.

 


Order your kit, and get ready for the first 3DC Virtual Tasting!

Today we solidified the details for our very own virtual tasting. Here’s the break down:

Date & Time: January 28th, 2012 at 7pm PST  (Facebook Event Listing)

Location: Virtual! Hosted by the 3 Drunken Celt’s Google Plus (G+) page Hangout-on-Air

Drams: 

  • Amrut Single Malt
  • Singleton 12 Year Single Malt
  • Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban
  • Suntory 12 Year Yamzaki

How can you taste-along? We have worked closely with Forrest Cokely over at Hi-Time Wine Cellars to build a mini tasting kit comprised of 50ml minis of the drams noted above. You can order this custom built kit, for only $23.99 here: http://www.hitimewine.net/product.php?productid=68133&cat=268&page=1

Some logistic points of note: 

  • We are limited to 40 of the Amrut Single Malt, which will limit the number of kits available.
  • Google Hangout-on-Air is limited to 9 participants via web-cam, all others can watch via live feeds.
  • Some people are already planning “in person” type meet-ups to expand the number of live video participants. There is to be one in Orange County, CA and another up in Santa Barbara, CA. Anyone out East want to set up a meet up point?
  • If enough interest is shown for regional in-person meet-ups, full bottles could be substituted for the mini-kits to ensure everyone is able to taste. This would be the responsibility of each local organizer to handle.
  • Of course you don’t have to drink… with this setup you can just join and watch if you don’t want to order a kit or don’t even drink… in any case it should be an interesting night!

Once you order and receive your kit, hold tight, January 28th will be he before you know it!

In preparation for the tasting, you may want to join Google Plus and circle the 3 Drunken Celts page so you can see and join the Hangout. While there, you may also want to familiarize yourself with the hangout feature (who knows, we may host smaller unannounced test tastings leading up to the day) so you’ll be ready to go and join in on January 28th as we sample each dram and share our notes virtually, North to South, East to West, and across the globe!


PDX Whisky tasting notes from December 9th, 2011

As you’ve likely come to expect month to month now, here is the anticipated notes from the tasting event hosted by Ian of PDX Whisky fame.

This month was a bit unusual for us, as it was a bourbon, not scotch whisky, centric tasting. Additionally different was that Ted of Big Bottom Whiskey fame was also on hand to lead us through a tasting of his line of bourbons. As always, neither Ian nor Ted disappointed at the event. This go around we tasted five different expressions, with an added 6th ‘from the barrel’ brought by Ted. Following are my notes on each:

Big Bottom American Straight Bourbon, Batch #5 (3yr)

  • Nose: Some mild Rye and surprising hint of iodine/bactine followed by honey.
  • Flavour: Heavy honey into bubble gum on the front, followed by rye spice and into light toast
  • Finish: Nice balance of spice and toast, then followed by a rich honey sweetness at the end.
  • Viscosity: 3
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 2
  • Personal Taste: A

 

Big Bottom Port Cask Finish Straight Bourbon, Batch #2b (3yr)

  • Nose: Hot and heavy on the port followed by a hint of honey.
  • Flavour: Tannins hit immediately, then into the deep port from the nose, followed by mild but balanced rye spice.
  • Finish: The spice moves back into the port, which fades into oak tannins again, an hour glass effect of flavour.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 3
  • Personal Taste: A

 

Elmer T. Lee, Macadam Bourbon Bunch, Single Barrel (NAS)

  • Nose: Strawberry and bubble gum followed by mild rye.
  • Flavour: Oak and light toast, none of the sweetness implied by the nose.
  • Finish: Light and watery with heavy tannins.
  • Viscosity: 2
  • Boldness: 2
  • Length of Story: 2
  • Personal Taste: C-

 

Van Winkle Special Reserve, Lot B (12yr)

  • Nose: Char and honey sweetness, again the rye spice at the back.
  • Flavour: Wet hay and char, fades in to a rich chocolate
  • Finish: Heat, then nothingness. It slowly vanishes then returns a bit later with a surprise bitterness to the end.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 3
  • Length of Story: 4
  • Personal Taste: B+

 

Jefferson’s Presidential Select (18yr)

  • Nose: Vegetation, a slightly ‘green’ odor, followed by toast.
  • Flavour: Sweetness of light honey, followed by tannins as expected from an 18 year
  • Finish: A bitter back to the finish (akin to an underaged white dog bourbon like I tasted from my home aging kit at the 2 week mark.)
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 2
  • Personal Taste: C-

 

“Barrel tasting”of Big Bottom Port Cask Finish Straight Bourbon, Batch #3 (3yr, cask strength at 115 proof)

  • Nose: Sweetness of port and richness of fig.
  • Flavour: Hot and rich caramel, big flavour and a huge mouthfeel.
  • Finish: Char followed by chocolate into fudge.
  • Viscosity: 5
  • Boldness: 5
  • Length of Story: 4
  • Personal Taste: A+

 

Clearly from above (and not so clearly from my lack of description of the rest of the group’s feelings) the big winner of the night was Big Bottom Whiskey. You may think I expected this to be the case, given how much I enjoy Ted’s product, but given it was tasted along side of two twelve year olds and an 18 year old bourbon, this was clearly an upset in the making! The group as a whole, and the majority of individuals all agreed that Big Bottom Whiskey was clearly the dram we’d all buy and stock on our shelves, while the other bourbons ran the gamut from “I might buy it” to “Nope never paying money for that one”.

 

As always, a fun and enlightening night was had. Anyone within the Portland area should really “Like” the PDX Whisky Facebook page and join us in January when the next event is scheduled and posted! Y’all are missing a great time!

 


The 3DC’s social channels you may or may not know about….

Have you seen? The 3DC are all over the social spaces! Come like us, follow us, and circle us!
We can be found at:
Want to be ‘in the know’? Connect with us so you don’t miss out 🙂

/marketing hat

-Seamus

PDX Whisky tasting notes from 10-28-2011

Ah, whiskies… where would I be without them? Well, likely with a larger bankroll and more time on my hands, but alas, I can not ignore the siren calls of local tastings! None of you will be surprised then, as I share my tasting notes of the four bottlings we tasted during the latest PDX Whisky event, this time hosted by Amit Armstrong, Ian Itchner’s whisky cohort.

As usual, the light dinner provided was outstanding (both Ian and Amit are exemplary cooks, Amit’s specialty being Indian cuisine), and the group of both new and old faces was as talkative as ever. Each of the PDX Whisky tastings I’ve been to this year has seen around 5 or 6 regulars, and another 10 or so people who filter in and out making each tasting a new adventure in meeting people and sharing our different takes on the drams presented. Always such interesting perspectives followed with some great laughs as well.
But I digress, on to the tasting notes….

 

Auchroisk 20yr, 118 proof. (59% abv) Cask Strength

  • Nose: Caramel and a hint of smoke, some slight almost negligible brine
  • Flavour: very hot, but a pure speyside profile of balanced sweetness, with a hint of peat and smoke
  • Finish: sweet richness of graham cracker, toast, and more peat
  • Viscosity: 2
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 4
  • Personal Taste: B+
  • Extraneous Notes: Darn good dram. Water adds a bur to the nose that didn’t exist before. Also adds caramel and butterscotch flavors to the palate.

Stronachie 12yr

  • Nose: Light toast, mildly sweet, talc with a hint of banana with a rich spice back (like banana bread)
  • Flavour: hot, deeper rich spiced bread in to a chocolate back evocative of 88% cocoa.
  • Finish: falters into nothingness. Surprisingly short story that just vanishes.
  • Viscosity: 3
  • Boldness: 3
  • Length of Story: 2
  • Personal Taste: B+
  • Extraneous Notes: This was a sleeper. Very tasty, far better than initially expected.

Penderyn, Aur Cymru, Madeira cask finished

  • Nose: Over ripe cantaloupe, a waxy sour greenness.
  • Flavour: Heavy oak then mimics the nose of slightly rotten fruit.
  • Finish: A final hit of caramel, but comes too late to save the dram.
  • Viscosity: 3
  • Boldness: 2
  • Length of Story: 2
  • Personal Taste: C-/D+
  • Extraneous Notes: This dram can’t figure out what it wanted to be. Too many competing flavours fighting for center stage rather than working in conjunction to be stellar. No single bad taste, just quite neurotic as a whiskey.

Redbreast 15yr

  • Nose: Rich spice, vanilla and mild pepper, balanced and complex.
  • Flavour: Caramel and mild chocolate into a bit of oak, slightly hotter than expected.
  • Finish: Heavier chocolate notes linger with a long balanced story. Complexly warm and rich.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 5
  • Personal Taste: A
  • Extraneous Notes: The exception to the rule of light Irish whiskies with grassy floral notes, this is the darker more angry big brother that brings the bottom end of warmth and richness to the party, proving once again that you just can’t go wrong with Redbreast.

As a closing point, if any of you reading are local to Portland, Or. or find yourself in the area during one of these tasting events, you’d be a fool not to stop by. The settings remain intimate and conducive to connecting with everyone attending, making for both a technical tasting as well as a social event for any level of whiskies enthusiast. You don’t need to know a thing about whiskies to enjoy the PDX Whisky events, even though there’s a level of technical tasting going on as well that would appeal to the more experienced enthusiasts. Somehow the group always strikes that perfect balance for newbie and expert alike. I hope you’ll join us at the next one!


Big Bottom Whiskey Port finish comparison, batches 1 and 2

You may recall this post a while back where I discovered Big Bottom Whiskey and subsequently fell in love with their port cask finish. So much that I had bought two bottles of it, when I normally would only by one of any single whisk(e)y.

In talking with Ted, the owner, he indicated that the bottles I had tasted and those which I purchased were of batch one and that batch two had been quietly sitting around and would likely be ready sometime in late August. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get over to the warehouse when he was bottling up batch two due to a horribly conflicting schedule that week, but I did get out to my local purveyor when they called to tell me it would be in stock the next day. Again, I picked up two bottles…

And here’s where I was actually a bit smart: I had retained 1/4 of a bottle of the first batch with the specific intent of doing my own side-by-side tasting with batch two.

Right off the bat, before even opening the bottles, there’s a noticeable difference: Batch one was aged two years, batch two was aged 3.  While the distillate is from the same producer, they are aged for different times and finished in port casks at differing lengths of time as well. But really, that’s all irrelevant until you can actually taste it, right? Or at least until you can read my tasting notes below, after which I’ll likely wax on about more of the differences….

 

Big Bottom Whiskey, aged 2 years, port cask finish- Batch One

  • Nose: Heavy caramel followed by fruitiness of the port. Surprisingly no oak on the nose at all.
  • Flavor: Caramel oak, then the fruit of the port. Deep richness to the palate, and shows off the port finishing.
  • Finish: Just a hint of chocolate on the back, balanced with the tannins of the oak and fruit.
  • Viscosity: 3
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 4
  • Personal Taste: B+
  • Extraneous Notes: The colour on this first batch is a deeper red hue showing the influence of the port cask. I gave this a B+ as it finishes a bit more harshly than a whiskey like this should. I’d expect the port cask finishing to have reduced any lingering harshness to non-existence.  Still, quite tasty, so high marks are deserved.

 

Big Bottom Whiskey, aged 3 years, port cask finish- Batch Two

  • Nose: This noses hotter than the first batch, with immediate fruit forward, followed by the sweetness of caramel. Overall a mild nose once past the initial heat.
  • Flavor: Chewier with a mouthfeel reminiscent of nougat. Heavier oak with a deeper more complex caramel note. Light port touch with the fruity sweetness peeking out in the middle.
  • Finish: Oak tannins then mild char and caramel in the front while a hint of port maintains the background through the length of the finish. The port cask finish on this one has seemingly married all the flavours into a deeper complexity and balance.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 4
  • Personal Taste: A-
  • Extraneous Notes: The colour of this one, oddly enough, was a more orange-ish hue, still rich, but lacking that deep red from batch one.  Batch two received an A- here because it doesn’t finish as clean as I’d like. There was a lingering mild bitterness and dryness from the tannins when I had wanted a bit more fruitiness on the end. A wetter finish would have landed this dram at a solid A/A+.

So there you have it, a side by side comparison of batches one and two. I’d actually left some in each glass for Jean to enjoy when she got home (I tasted late afternoon when she was still at work, but I’d quit for the day).  But I was a bit cruel about it, as I removed the bottles from the table and made her do a ‘blind’ taste to see if she could pick out which was which.  Because batch one’s visual cue would typically indicate ‘older’ and that batch one tasted more of port, she incorrectly chose that as the newer release and noted it was her preferred of the two.  Understandably so, since darker colouring tends to make people think ‘older’ and the fruit forwardness of the port finish in batch one lends to her sweeter palate preferences.  And I nearly did the same thing too, until I had some of batch two and found my palate was much happier with the balance found there and less of the sweetness of batch one. But this is why there are so many whiskies out there: for every dram, there is a palate that will love it and one that will hate it, and others everywhere in between. Luckily both Jean and I found batches one and two to be equally enjoyable as good drinking whiskies (even if my more technical attempts at notes show less equality).

To wrap this up: Batch one is likely going to be difficult to find at this point, but batch two just hit the local shelves in Portland, Oregon and will likely be making its way out to a liquor store near you soon! Go pick up a bottle or two, you won’t be disappointed in the newer release. And maybe, if you can stave off temptation long enough, you can do a side-by-side with batch three, assuming Ted will be doing one…. Here’s to hoping!


Week 16 update- Age your own whiskey

Week 16 came and passed without an update on the whiskey sitting in the barrel I got as part of Woodinville’s “Age your own whiskey” kit. But can you blame me? I mean, there’s been a lot going on with the 3DC, especially as we ramp up into our annual tasting at “Great Western War” (the SCA event in Bakersfield, Ca.).

Have no fear, just because the weeks have come and gone does not mean I missed taking a sample of the distillate. I did indeed take notes, and even pictures to provide you all an update as to how the baby whiskey is maturing in the 1.7 liter oak barrel. The first round of tasting notes after weeks 1, 2, and 3 can be found here if you missed them, or just want to come up to speed for comparison. The initial setup, etc. can be found here.

 

Woodinville White dog, Aged 16 weeks in new American Oak.
(Casked on May 30th, 2011. Sampled Sept. 11th, 2011)

  • Nose: All alcohol. Expected for a 130 proof distillate. Caramel follows the initial shock, the if you can push through, there is a distinct corn mash of the original distillate.
  • Flavor: Chewier mouthfeel than prior tastes. No longer think and watery, but now shows great body and an oiliness expected from a proper bourbon/whiskey. The pallate is still very distillate heavy, but is showing more promise with a far heavier caramel body, though it is followed by a disappointing bitterness.
  • Finish: Caramel, with an increasing bitterness with every taste. Like a vegetable with all the sugars removed.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 2
  • Personal taste: C
  • Extraneous notes: Dramatically different from earlier tastes, but still not ‘good’. Needs more time on the oak to mute or remove the bitter after notes. Looking to revisit in late November or December.

 

Overall, I’m not exactly disappointed, but not overly pleased either. I am hopeful that more time on the oak will help it mellow out further and become something worthwhile. Otherwise, I’ll have to admit defeat, bottle it up, and move on to a different distillate to see how a second round fairs.  That, of course, means finding a better raw distillate to work with, with means testing some cask ready samples from various distillers. Oh the pains I go to for this hobby 😉

 


PDX Whisky tasting event, Sept. 16, 2011

Last Friday eve was another great PDX Whisky event. If you are local to Portland, Oregon and are interested in learning about whiskies, I will heartily urge you to follow PDXWhisky on Facebook, where Ian sends out the event notices (while you’re there, don’t forget to ‘Like’ the 3DC page too!). Really, come join us! The ‘events’ are informal, casual, and comfortable for all levels of enthusiast and are some of the best ways to try out whiskies you may not have access to otherwise.

This past event was no different and provided for some great laughs over the course of the evening. I won’t bore you with the comedy bits, you’ll just have to attend next time to enjoy the funny! As for the tasting notes, we enjoyed 4 bottles over the night in the order they appear below:

.

Auchentoshan Three Wood

  • Nose: Brilliantly balanced caramel with subtle smoke and an unpretentious oakiness.
  • Flavor: Peat on the front, into oak (of course) and a hint of iodine.
  • Finish: Nice soft caramel, light peat and oddly harsh after clearing the palate with water.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 3
  • Length of Story: 4
  • Personal Taste: A
  • Extraneous notes: Palate was off due to having recently finished baklava for desert.

.

Highland Park 15 All American Oak

  • Nose: Nicely balance smoke. Rich but bright, hint of vanilla and orange.
  • Flavor: Oak first, light and watery/thin. Evocative of a Christmas chocolate orange.
  • Finish: a tad hot then trailing oak into a hint of spice.
  • Viscosity: 3
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 3
  • Personal Taste: B

.

Douglas Laing Double Barrel (Highland Park and Bowmore, no additional details given on the bottle)

  • Nose: BBQ consiting of cumin and vinegar, red spice, heated rubber.
  • Flavor: simplistic smoke and brine. Very distinct and separate.
  • Finish: iodine and then smoke, second taste brings out a bit of surprise chocolate.
  • Viscosity: 2
  • Boldness: 3
  • Length of Story: 3
  • Personal Taste: D (*C)
  • Extraneous notes: *improved the second go around. Odd bottle, however, as the double barrel concept seems to cause the two to compete with each other rather than blend into a single different dram. Surprised at how it improved with another taste, but not enough to really be enjoyable beyond a technical tasting.

.

Bowmore 20 year (A.D. Rattray bottling)

  • Nose: heavy iodine followed by smoke
  • Flavor: peat forward into brine and the suggestions of a wafting of spice
  • Finish: stays briny into a balanced smoky oakyness, but relatively light on tannins.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 5
  • Length of Story: 4
  • Personal Taste: C+
  • Extraneous notes: This seemed to be the top of the 4 for the night, though not for me. Not to my taste even though I can appreciate the complexities of the 20yr in comparison to the 30yr and even younger. A good dram to be sure, just not for me.

.

Overall, I stick by the recommendation I came to the tasting with: The Auchentoshan Three Wood is a solid, relatively inexpensive dram which drinks far above its price point. You’d be best served to have a bottle in your house and at the ready for any whisky drinker. While not the top of the night, it was my personal favourite and was unanimously enjoyed by all at the table.


Another PDXWhisky tasting event 8-12-2011

First off dear readers, great apologies for the delay in this recap of the recent PDX Whisky tasting event held at Ian’s house on August 12th, 2011. Because of the delay in writing this post, it will be less detailed than prior posts, as my recollection is a bit muddied now. I promise in the future to be more vigilant in my note taking, and subsequent write ups.

I do have an extra special gift for you all, however… multi-media! Yes, a picture… in a post even! Will the wonders never cease?

Compass Box Magic Cask

Ah, dear friends, if you know me (Seamus/Jason) or the 3DC at all, you know our fondness for John Glaser and Compass Box whiskies. So this past PDX Whisky tasting was a real treat for me. No, not because Ian had some Great King St. to share, but because he had a bottle of Magic Cask; a bottle I should note is unavailable in the US, as it was only released to our Canadian neighbors. Any chance I have to taste something I can’t get is a privilege, especially so when it is from one of my favourite producers of the lovely water of life.

A quote from “The Scotch Blog” regarding this bottling:

“The Magic Cask was a special release for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) and is only available in Ontario. Because John Glaser created this product as an experiment, he wasn’t quite sure what to do with it until the LCBO opportunity presented itself. Because Canadian whisky makers are allowed to use up to 9.09% flavouring (i.e. other whiskies like bourbon, wine, fruit juice, etc.), many don’t, but they can if they so choose, John thought this would be a good product for this limited Canadian release. “

Read on at the link for their tasting notes which you’ll see are a bit different from my own.

In typical PDX Whisky style, we had four bottles to taste (though we had additional once the main 4 were sufficiently discussed). Notes on the four, in the order we tasted are below:

Tasting notes:

.

Karuizawa, 15yr 40%

  • Nose: Hot, heavy sherry, moves into oak then immediately into a vanilla finish.
  • Flavour: Vanilla and Sherry into oak, then toast and corn.
  • Finish: mild toast with a distinctly corn finish.
  • Viscosity: 3
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 3
  • Personal taste: C+

.

Compass Box Magic Cask – 17yr Linkwood, 14yr Brora, 46%

  • Nose: Begins with a little brine then hits you with a mild heat, finally some green olive.
  • Flavour: Spicy, a bit watery but hot, almost like a cut oaked rye.
  • Finish: Hot finish here with oak and a floral hint to toast, with a touch of brine on the back.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 4
  • Personal taste: B+

.

Glenmorangie Finealta 46%

  • Nose: Iodine and brine
  • Flavour: Oak and toffee/caramel.
  • Finish: light green apple, but hot.
  • Viscosity: 3
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 3
  • Personal taste: B-
  • (side notes: not worth the cost, forgettable)

.

Glen Spey 21yr 50%

  • Nose: light brine followed by chlorine, green vegetation into thin rubber followed by banana
  • Flavour: Banana into oak, then brine
  • Finish: Hot, mashed green banana.
  • Viscosity: 3
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 4
  • Personal taste: B+
  • (side note: need to revisit)

.

Now, it should be noted that once we’d completed the ‘official’ tasting, is when things got a bit rowdy… my memory is a bit poor of the whole evening, but at one point, a bottle of “30 year old Chinese distillate” made its way out of the box and around the table. I will refer you to my wife’s tasting notes as she posted on Facebook: “Tasting notes – anise, bubblegum, Limburger cheese, stinky feet of an 11 year old girl. That shit was FOUL! http://t.co/KVqhUmi” followed by a clarification: “Chinese moonshine. 30 years old, apparently? J called it “challenging”. I worry about that boy.” And indeed it WAS challenging. Most/everyone at the table hated it; there was a permeating stink to it which makes me happy I didn’t spill any on me, but I wouldn’t classify it as bad per se, simply challenging. That said, I refused the bottle when I was told I was taking it home… so, you know, it was -very- challenging.

Thankfully there was still some Magic Cask to wash away the taste 😉


A PDX Whisky tasting, from a 3DC perspective

Friday night, I -finally- had the pleasure of attending a PDX Whisky tasting, hosted by the incomparable Ian Itschner. I’ve been trying to get out to one of Ian’s tastings since moving to the Portland Metro area in 2007. Yeah, four years of trying, and four years of bad scheduling luck as it would seem I was always booked those weekends Ian would put on a tasting. But no more. I finally made it and am happy to report back a successful gathering.

 

Because Ian hosts at his home, the atmosphere is far more intimate than a traditional seated tasting, and he goes out of his way to ensure guests are comfortable, and fed. For a paltry $25 donation, Ian provides (what he calls) a light dinner and a 4 bottle tasting course. At the caliber of bottles he is providing, the fee is indeed nominal for an evening out. With a capacity of sixteen guests, I think we hovered around nine or ten Friday evening, just enough to make a round-robin tasting table alive with one conversation, not the multiple sub-conversations which you may see with larger groups.

 

After some early ‘getting to know you’ time over dinner, we gathered round the outdoor patio table and dug in to the four bottles of the evening:

 

First up was the Nikka, from the barrel at 51%abv:

  • Nose: iodine, but only slightly medicinal, a hint of brine
  • Flavour: toasted new wood oak, not much else.
  • Finish: hot and bitey. A few drops of water adds a mild floral sweetness into caramel.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 3.5
  • Personal Taste: B/B+

 

Next, we moved on to the an Cnoc 16yr:

  • Nose: peat, hint of oaked caramel and then into a hint of brine.
  • Flavour: young and vegetative, into oaky lumber. Hot, but oddly thin on the mouthfeel.
  • Finish: Citrus, then burnt chocolate, almost espresso
  • Viscosity: 1
  • Boldness: 3
  • Length of Story: 4
  • Personal Taste: B+

 

We followed the an Cnoc with the Balvenie 17yr Sherry cask:

  • Nose: big caramel, small oak, hint of iodine on the back.
  • Flavour: sweetness of the sherry comes through heavily, into toast, combining into Pepsi.
  • Finish: Toasted malt and sherry butt, finishes with fairly heavy tannins leaving a dry mouthfeel.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 3
  • Length of Story: 3.5
  • Personal Taste: A-

 

And finished off with the Oban Distiller’s Edition, 1993:

  • Nose: Hint of orange citrus and vanilla, chocolate, then raspberry.
  • Flavour: wet sherry, not as much of the oak coming through, then into a toasty richness
  • Finish: heavily sweet caramel, followed by mild oak tannins, a quintessential Speyside flavour profile though it is a Highland.
  • Viscosity: 4.5
  • Boldness: 3
  • Length of Story: 3
  • Personal Taste: A-

 

While I said ‘finished off’ above, what I really meant was finished the ‘official’ portion of the tasting, as we then moved on to a few other bottles from Ian’s collection after conversation brought certain bottles to the forefront of our attention. We moved on to a German distillery, called Slrys:

 

Slyrs, 2007 3yr

  • Nose: 1950’s locker room, old musty oak. Young mash but with a heavy mash complexity to the nose. Diner pie crust
  • Flavour: Smoke and peat. Not much complexity. Hard angles. Very German.
  • Finish: Short, structured, technical. (interested to see what their 12yr will produce)
  • Viscosity: 2
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 3
  • Personal Taste: C+

 

And then on to the Brora 20yr, cask strength at 58.1%abv

  • Nose: Hot, brine.
  • Flavour: quite medicinal. peat, then heavy peat followed by brine.
  • Finish: Hot. the flavours simply vanish into the heat of the 58.1% alcohol.
  • Viscosity: 3
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of Story: 3
  • Personal Taste: C+ (I didn’t bother cutting at this point, likely would be into a ‘B’ range when cut)

 

By this point, I scribbled in my tasting notebook: “palate gone”, indicating that the ability to pick out any sense of refinement in my tasting notes wasn’t going to happen from this point forward… which is probably a good thing as we moved on to a comparison of Arbeg’s Supernova, and Bruichladdich’s Octomore. Having imbibed in the Supernova first, I’d have to set the Octomore as less smokey and more to my liking as a decided non-peat head. Though, from this posting over on All things Whisky, I may have to change my tune soon as I am beginning to fall into the descriptors of a peat head. We’ll see how that pans out in the next few years I guess 😉

 

All said and done, it was a fabulous night out enjoying fines whiskies with some great conversation amongst like minded individuals. We laughed and carried on as though we’d known each other for far longer than the few hours of Friday night. And yes, I am kicking myself for not rearranging my schedules in the past to accommodate this tasting. Oh what I have been missing!