Friday, September 16, 2011

Scotch Roundup: August

While I had gotten quite interested in scotch back in college, with many thanks to my roommates most notably for their encouragement, I had not really built up much of a scotch collection after moving to Boston.  More recently, my visit to Jack Rose in DC had rekindled my interest in scotch.  Having remembered a friend back in St. Louis giving me the recommendation of getting in touch with a fine fellow named Joe at Federal Wine and Spirits for all things regarding scotch in Boston, I sent off an email and was quite pleased to learn about a monthly scotch tasting program there.

Perhaps I should not have been too surprised, but upon my arrival a couple minutes late, I was told that the tasting session had become quite full with an excess of attendees.  Fortunately, an impromptu tasting had been spontaneously scheduled for later in the evening since there were a number of us who could not get in.  Thus, after a bit of a wait, we were rewarded with a tasting of five scotches from the collection of independent bottler Gordon & MacPhail.  My tasting notes in summary:

Gordon & MacPhail in the cellar at Federal W&S

  • Connoisseur's Choice: Littlemill 1991, bottled 2007
    Savory malts, fennel seed and other spices, dried orange peel, chicory, very peppery, apples
  • Benromach 10 year
    *Distilled from peated barley at a Speyside distillery owned by G&M; aged in both bourbon and sherry casks that are then blended and married in oloroso casks for a final year
    Sweeter toffee, a hint of peaty smoke but without the brine, mulled wine, spiced cake, candied oranges, dried fruit
  • Connoisseur's Choice Glenesk 1984, 20 year
    Pears, cooked apples, banana, full of fruit, heather, honey, warming spices
  • Macphail 25 year
    Honey, nuts, very buttery, smooth and mellow, nectarines, sandalwood
  • Mortlach Cask Strength 1993
    Lemons, heavily spiced, Sichuan peppercorns, oak, grapefruit, gingerbread, challah
In addition to these 5 lovely scotches, the visit to Federal also gave me a chance to pick up a scotch for my own home collection.  While I would have liked to pick up one of those featured in the tasting, they were all sold out by the time I came around.  They were also out of the Ardbeg Uigeadail that I was interested in.  Instead, Joe introduced me to a bottle of Murray McDavid Laphroaig 1998 11 year, aged in Château Pétrus casks from one of the most prized estates of Pomerol, Bordeaux.  The aging in former red wine casks certain gives it a very distinct wine-like character, not to mention a pinkish color.  At first, toasty malts with a touch of smoke, but that develops into citrus peels, cherries, blackcurrants, and strawberry shortcake.  Its certainly on the sweeter side of scotches with the merlot heritage shining through, but it does not ever lose balance.  Extremely tasty, eminently balanced, and too easily quaffed as a nightcap.

Murray McDavid Laphroaig 1998 11 year