The theme for this scotch tasting was whiskies aged 15 years from across Scotland. Eleven of us – from first-timers to many-timers – sat down to see how these six distilleries expressed themselves. Our lineup was:
- Glen Moray 15
- Glenfarclas 15
- Glen Scotia 15
- Dalmore 15
- Distiller’s Art Auchentoshan 15
- Bowmore 15 Darkest
It was a great evening of whisky, food, laughter, and camaraderie.
By the end of the night, we’d ranked the whiskies from 1 to 6 and our top two whiskies were the Auchentoshan (2.63) and Bowmore (2.88):
Distiller’s Art Auchentoshan 15 – 48%
Nose: Hay or grass, fresh linen, sunlight on a field of florals, and bananas.
Palate: Light yet complex, a touch salty, orange and honey.
Finish: Peppery, grass, and light fruit.
Overall: Delicious, complex, and easy to drink. Needs a kiss of water to open up. I really enjoyed this one and came back many times to smell, taste, and experience all it had to offer.
Bowmore 15 Darkest – 43%
Nose: Smoky peat with sherry and dates. Is that bacon hiding in there?
Palate: Rich, dark, and woody. Creamy toffee with malt and smoke.
Finish: Beautiful finish with spices, sherry, and toffee. Warms me all the way through.
Overall: I frequently refer to this whisky as “meaty.” I imagine myself digging into it and ripping it apart with my hands to discover the different notes. It’s a go-to favourite and simply delightful.
Establishing themselves solidly in the middle of the pack were the Dalmore (3) and Glenfarclas (3.5):
Dalmore 15 – 40%
Nose: Sweet notes, dark chocolate and orange.
Palate: Sweet sherry and tannins up front. Orange and spices. Chocolate in the background.
Finish: Spicy and that oakiness hangs on for quite a while. As it fades there are notes of chocolate espresso.
Overall: This one is layered and rich with lots to explore. Almost everyone rated it as their third choice.
Glenfarclas 15 – 46%
Nose: Sweet, aromas that are creamy or buttery.
Palate: Some tingles. Raisins and spice, bitter orange. A drop of water brings a lovely buttery/creaminess to it.
Finish: A medium to long finish that includes nuttiness and citrus.
Overall: This was quite nice and one that you could sit and share with a group for an evening.
And vying for last place, it was the Glen Scotia (4.5) and Glen Moray (4.5):
Glen Scotia 15 – 46%
Nose: Sweetness of sherry, plums, and a hint of smoke.
Palate: Tingles, apricot jam, and a dash of salt. There’s a certain richness in the flavours that really draws you in.
Finish: Vanilla and apricots emerge and then – quite bizarrely – the finish dead stops. A bit of salt and oiliness are left.
Overall: Given the build up of the nose and flavours, the finish falls short of expectations. This experience was seemingly enough for the group to rate it lower on the night.
Glen Moray 15 – 40%
Nose: Sweet, dark fruit, vanilla, and salt.
Palate: Dry, salty and sweet that flows into chocolate.
Finish: Spices like ginger and cloves, a flit of tobacco. Late into the finish there are notes that very much remind me of the notes you find in bourbon (especially with a higher corn percentage).
Overall: This one was alright but didn’t really standout for anyone. A few folks commented it felt like an “every day whisky.”