It’s always a downer when the next issue of your favourite comic is delayed but after the busy month for us here at Whisky & Comics I completely understand! We moved from our small mountain town to an ever growing city and with that comes an incredible improvement in our day to day lives, although the mountains are dearly missed. This move has allowed us to order real pizza, go to a movie theatre (Avengers Age of Ultron was great and Mad Max: Fury Road is the best thing ever), and most importantly we can now attend whisky tasting events! Vintage Wine and Spirits has a variety of tastings each month, the latest being a scotch tasting hosted by Scott who has an obvious enthusiasm for all things whisky.
For $50 we were treated to nine different samples, which was excellent for the price. I’ve never had the opportunity to try so many samples in one tasting, generally six is the norm because beyond that your palette can start to dull if you’re not careful to over imbibe. Before going to the tasting we had no idea what we’d be treated to and it turned out to be an upward tasting of peated scotches, our favourite kind! One of the attendees was not a fan of peated whiskies so hearing her reactions get progressively worse with each dram was quite amusing to us peat lovers. The samples were tasted in the following order, from least peated to most:
Glendronach Sauternes Cask Finish
Cooper’s Choice 1993 Glen Garioch
Cooper’s Choice 1989 Macallan
Arran Orkney Bere
Springbank Cask Strength 12 yr
Bruichladdich Octomore 6.3
Scott would give great background information for each distillery and I certainly learned a lot from the event. My top three from the night were the Bunnahabhain, Arran Bere and Springbank. The Arran Bere was unique in that it was made using bere barley which was once the common barley for making scotch until the 20th century. The distillery collaborated with the Agronomy Institute of Orkney College to once again make a bere barley single malt. The nose was of stone fruit and the palate had a strong but not harsh build with a salty ocean character. The taste of the Springbank had a nice interplay of sweet and peated flavours, not the most common pairing for peated whiskies, with the sweetness being along the edges of the tongue. The Bunnahabhain reminded me of the hot smoked Atlantic salmon I’d buy all the time at the city market in my home town and that I miss dearly.
The best value whisky of the evening was the Ledaig 10 year old for just $58 CDN and would also be a good introduction to peated whiskies. It has a very smooth mouth feel with a honey taste to start and it smells faintly of smoked salmon. The most surprising whisky of the evening goes to the Octomore 6.3, the most heavily peated whiskey you can buy. The “peatiness” of a whisky is measured by its phenol content in part per million (ppm) with most whiskies having a ppm range of 0 to 60. Some people will regard a whiskies ppm is like they do the scoville rating on hot sauces, they have to try the peatiest, taste be damned! Which is where the Octomore series comes in, the Octomore 6.3 has a whopping ppm of 258! I have tasted previous expressions of the Octomore, and disliked them because they did simply tasted like peat for peats sake without any regard for drinkablity, but I was indeed able to enjoy the 6.3. Maybe it’s because it was the last of 9 drams or because the tasting was slowly building up to it, but I’d certainly consider trying it again to be sure, although it’s still not something I’d ever purchase.
I’m certainly looking forward to attending more tastings with the crew at Vintage, the next one of interest being a rum tasting the end of June. In the mean time, now that we’re all settled into our new home, the dramtastic duo behind of Whisky & Comics will try updating more regularly!