PDX Whisky tasting notes from 4-06-2012

Last Friday evening was another gathering of the PDXWhisky group, hosted again by the incomparable Ian Itschner. As we’ve come to expect, Ian outdid himself yet again with the ‘light meal’ he provides, this time opting to produce 20 or so individual Guinness meat pies, and even adjusting the recipe for the vegetarians in the group. Leave me wondering what he’s got left up his sleeves for the next tasting.

It seemed this time around we were all raring to go and dug in to the tasting quickly after having fortified ourselves with the delicious savory Guinness pies…

We enjoyed four selections during this tasting:
Springbank 12 yr – Claret cask finish. After finishing for 3 yrs in claret casks, this was put back into bourbon barrels to smooth out the wine influence.
Tobermory 15 yr – A new limited edition from the Isle of Mull, matured in González Byass Oloroso sherry casks.
Ardbeg Alligator – This Islay whisky is aged in heavily charred new oak casks. Highly rated.
Laphroaig Triple Wood – Bourbon casks, quarter casks and sherry butts. Softer and richer than the standard Laphroaig.

 

 

Following are my tasting notes for each expression:

Springbank 12 yr – Claret finish, 54% abv

  • Nose: Red fruit sweetness with a slight earthiness (raw vegetation and mineral mix) like damp potting soil.
  • Flavour: Oak into unburnt caramel, contained the richness just not the toasted quality of caramel. Quite hot and bitey at the front of the tongue.
  • Finish: Moves into mild brine and then a weak salted caramel profile.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 3.5
  • Length of story: 4
  • Personal Taste: B
  • Extraneous notes: This struck me as if a Speyside spent some time on holiday in Islay. Slightly challenging and complex because of this, but a fun tasty dram.
    .

Tobermory 15 yr – Limited edition, 46.7% abv

  • Nose: slight brined raisin and soft rubber.
  • Flavour: Peat and brine with a hint of unsweetened fig newton. All flavours here have been married well and balance without challenging the palate too greatly.
  • Finish: Savory into a rich sweet wild cherry with a whisper of mint
  • Viscosity: 5
  • Boldness: 3
  • Length of story: 3
  • Personal Taste: A
  • Extraneous notes: This was my favourite dram of the night, and seemed to be so for a large portion of the rest of the group too. I found it complex and interesting. I came back to this after a dram of the Ardbeg Aligator which transformed this dram of Tobermory into a surprisingly wonderful fruitcake bomb.
    .

Laphroaig Triple Wood- 48% abv

  • Nose: Heavy iodine and peat, with a bit of band-aid like rubber notes.
  • Flavour: Mild smoke with a surprising sweetness in the middle.
  • Finish: Brine into oak with a hint of spice late at the end.
  • Viscosity: 3
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of story: 4
  • Personal Taste: B-
  • Extraneous notes: I quipped at some point during this dram that it tastes like the Springfield Tire Fire so oft referred to on episodes of the Simpsons. But don’t take that as a bad thing, I actually enjoyed this dram far more than the Laphroiag 10yr, and would likely partake again if offered.
    .

Ardbeg Alligator- 51% abv

  • Nose:First and foremost smoke, then moves into a touch of iodine and peat.
  • Flavour: Tannins and charcoal, then the heat hits. Some semi-sweet burnt chocolate makes its way in as well.
  • Finish: More heat, then it vanishes with just lingering smoke and a final chalky dry finish.
  • Viscosity: 4
  • Boldness: 4
  • Length of story: 3
  • Personal Taste: C+
  • Extraneous notes: Surprising heat for a 51% dram, I’d have expected upwards of 54% to have that much bite. My least favourite of the night, given it is a single trick pony. No complexity or grace. It is as if an American designed this dram to simply be excessive.

 

All in all, another rousingly fun evening learning about whiskies. In part that was due to having such a wonderful crew of newcomers to the tasting, which provided interesting conversation and differing points of view, as well as my own vicarious way of rediscovering new whiskies through newer eyes/palates.

As always, any of you who are local to Portland, Oregon need to make an effort to join in on one of Ian’s tastings. I can assure you, you will NOT be disappointed!

Image credit: (c) 2012 PDXWhisky


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