An eclectic selection with the world’s best-selling single malt up against South Africa’s first 10 year old single malt, two distinctly different Speyside 10 year olds, an organic whisky and a blend. Guiding the tasting was the experienced sniffer and sipper, Dave Hughes.
Benromach 10 year old
Rich malty nose with underlying leather aromatics.
Citrus and chocolate are fairly full with light floral backing.
Sweetness in the mouth gives a gentle and easy flow across the palate.
Not as dramatic as some 10 year olds yet there is a gentle phenolic edge that grows with time in the glass.
A gentle twist of smoke develops over time as does the vanilla edge.
Novices: Publisher Shayne Dowling noted a medicinal edge to this while contributing writer Clifford Roberts enjoyed its “big step up”. Megan Knox described it as both woody and creamy yet smooth too.
The smoky aromatics was something that Marsh Middleton commented on.
The Macallan Fine Oak 10 year old
Distinctly different greenish, pale gold colour.
First impression is that it is not as sherry-influenced as previous.
Attractive, fresh nose with cherries, ripe plums and hints of sea weed and some spicy, peppery notes.
Traces of vanilla and barley with some sweet ‘n sour characters.
Refined to the point of almost being reserved.
Fruity and sweet in the mouth with some attractive puckering notes leading into long, well balanced finish.
Novices: Editor Fiona McDonald found the kelp and briney notes on the nose ‒ but that’s where they stayed. There was no salty or briney element to the taste. It was ultra-smooth and refined, so elegant and genteel. It’s like a tuxedo versus a tweed jacket in terms of texture… “Great nose. Light and floral in the mouth,” was Greg Austin’s summation.
If I recall this is the first malt to be officially certified as organic.
The nose begins with a massive show of rich malt.
Fairly youthful, to the extent of almost being aggressive.
Plentiful and full in the mouth with character that would appeal to a wide range of palates.
Rich in vanilla and sweet toffee characters.
It oozes new bourbon oak with keen spicy notes being well balanced by some less obvious notes.
Overall: big, full and very expressive. Delightful orange note on a long lingering finish.
Novices: “This is so different to what’s come before that it’s quite a surprise. I really like it,” said Shayne. Megan enjoyed it so much she started quoting Dickens: “Please sir, can I have some more?”
Glenfiddich Single Malt 12 year old
The nose tells you why many people believe that 12 year old is the best expression of malt.
Decidedly Speyside in all respects. Loads of sweet malt with hints of apple and pear followed by delightful floral notes.
First impression in the mouth is softly fruity with superbly judged oak support. Hints of spice with vanilla the main character.
Lots of barley makes up the deep core of character. Beautifully balanced and a very versatile malt.
Soft, long, satisfying finish. Delightful overall.
Novices: The world’s best-selling single malt. One of Marsh’s earliest memories involved his grandfather and Glenfiddich. “He was a Supreme Court judge and would have this with ice and soda from one of those old siphons ‒ every day!” Similarly Fiona revealed that her father was a Glenfiddich man ‒ which made buying Christmas presents fairly easy… “This is a Wow! whisky for me. Smooth and gorgeous.”
Three Ships 10 year old single malt whisky
Nose is reminiscent of a distinctly Islay style whisky with its well-defined smoky peat whiffs.
Those are then followed by sweet floral notes with rich, ripe fruit.
The taste develops in the mouth with ripe fruit along with sun-dried apricot.
Lots of very attractive fudge flavours and a sweet vanilla finish. Rich and full-bodied with very attractive roundness.
It develops with time in the glass and becomes more and more complex.
Long, warm, satisfying finish.
Novices: “I know I’m a novice but this is Lagavulin-ish to me ‒ and to a first timer that sort of powerful flavour can be quite scary,” said Shayne. “To my mind this is a nice end of the night drink.” Clifford found it big and peaty ‒ and loved it! “Coffee, dubbin, toffee and charcoal,” was Marsh’s pronouncement. “I’ve never tasted it before ‒ it’s really impressive!”
Grant’s Family Reserve
Immediately attractive nose with seemingly far more aroma than many malt whiskies. Tasters could be forgiven for thinking that the aroma has been almost turbo- or supercharged! Very distinctly Speyside with sweet malt and barley sugar to the fore followed by waves of grain, green grass, lemongrass with vanilla and some tropical notes at the rear. To me, one of the most perfect noses of any blend. There’s superb balance in the mouth with some ripe, fruity sweetness balancing the slightly firmer core of deep maltiness. There is a faint but distinctive hint of peat with a great cradle of oak giving a dryness to the mouth which balances all the sweet notes. Complex, well integrated and beautifully proportioned. This has to be one of the finest expressions of whisky. The best of everything in one dram!
Novices: Whisky mag’s digital man Marsh Middleton is less of a novice taster than the others and found this a grassy and youthful mouthful. “It’s a refreshing drink. You can mix it quite easily with a ginger ale and ice and it wouldn’t disappoint.” Art Director Megan Knox said there was something simultaneously sharply alcoholic and yet also vaguely oily about it. “Reminiscent of a mechanic’s workshop…” she said.