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!