The Independent Bottler’s Tasting – Nov 30, 2019

For this tasting we went away from whiskies bottled by distillers and ventured into expressions crafted by independent bottlers.

Glencairns for days

What surprised a lot of folks was how much flavour can be found in a young(ish) spirit and how smooth whisky can be at a higher alcohol percentage. This one was especially exciting for me because I had enough glassware to pour all the whiskies in advance (whereas in past tastings we’d each get two or three glasses and pour and rinse along the way).

Below are tasting notes from the night and an average from around the table of each whisky’s ranking. In summary, the Scapa took the night (appearing in everyone’s top 3), Glen Garioch was second place and dubbed “the most whisky of whiskies,” Drumblade and North British were solid mid-fielders, the Caol Ila was polarizing in second-to-last place, and the Glenlossie came in last place (probably the surprise of the night for me).

Gordon & MacPhail Scapa 2005
Scapa (bottled by Gordon & MacPhail) ~ 43% ~ 13 years old ~ Matured in Bourbon cask ~ Island
Nose: Sharp apple, buttery, florals and heather
Palate: Vanilla with a wee bit of spice.
Finish: Gentle, spiciness kicks up
Overall: Like walking through a summer field of florals
Avg rank: 2

Carn Mor “Speyside”
Glenlossie (bottled by Carn Mor) ~ 46% ~ 8 years old ~ Matured in Hogshead, finished in wine cask ~ Speyside
Nose: Wine and oak, tequila, sweetness
Palate: Light on the tongue, oaky, red wine shows up, some spiciness
Finish: Peppery and spicy and it heats up
Overall: Bizarre, I was not expecting this at all
Avg rank: 5.6

The Octave North British 2007
North British (bottled by Duncan Taylor) ~ 51.9% ~ 10 years old ~ Matured in American Oak, finished in Sherry cask ~ Cask #5914673 ~ Lowlands
Nose: Vanilla, buttery oak
Palate: Soft, florals, single grain note, buttery brown sugar
Finish: Buttery and oaky, single grain lingers with a slow fade
Overall: Incredible and smooth at 51.9%
Avg rank: 3.4

The Octave Drumblade 2008
(Teaspooned) Ailsa Bay ~ 52.9% ~ 9 years old ~ Matured in American Oak ~ Cask #1416103 ~ Lowlands
Nose: Sweetness, honey, lemon, icing sugar
Palate: Reminds me of wine gums, honey notes, needs a bit of water to open it up
Finish: A nice warmth, not too hot, licorice and spices in a long finish
Overall: This one was really good
Avg rank: 3.1

Adelphi Glen Garioch 2011
Glen Garioch ~ 56.8% ~ 7 years old ~ Matured in refill Sherry ~ Cask #2370 ~ Highland
Nose: Sweet, tingly, vanilla, lemony
Palate: Coats your mouth, vanilla with a bit of banana bread
Finish: Crazy long finish, cereals, lovely vanilla notes
Overall: The table dubbed this “the most whisky of whiskies”
Avg rank: 2.4

Cooper’s Choice “Peat and Fruit”
Caol Ila ~ 55% ~ NAS ~ Matured in American Oak, finished in Port cask ~ Cask #9393 ~ Islay
Nose: Sweet, peaty, medicinal notes
Palate: Peat, smoke, earthy, oily campfire
Finish: Peat, ash, and something metallic in the finish
Overall: The nose and palate are great, the finish is a bit…odd; “fresh asphalt and chest hair”
Avg rank: 4.5

Poured and ready to taste

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