Chivas Regal 12yr

IMG_5581People are kind, this post is brought to you by altruism.  Chivas Regal is a standard first choice for regular bar kids who want to upgrade from their other perennial favourite; Jameson. And all I know about this particular dram is it’s from Speyside and that as a blended 12yr old, the youngest whisky in the barrel has to be at least 12years old. And that’s about it. So it’s with a sense of anticipation that I will try out this standard.

The nose was fruity with a dusting of smoke, it vaguely reminded me of the Crown Royal Harvest Rye in that there is a slight medicinal quality. The nose is quite sIMG_5586harp brimming with brute force despite the 12year maturity.

The palate is a little sharp at the front of the taste and would do well with a drop of water to open it up.  Without the extra room provided by the droplet the expression rolls around the mouth lacking a place to settle down and open up.

The finish is light and tingly on the side of the palate. This expression has all the flash with only just enough meat to back it up.IMG_5606.JPG

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Tasting is sharing; Nikka & Balvinie with a nosing of Ardbeg

So when you have no more whisky to sample, but you still have friends who haven’t tried them. What is one to do…Impromptu (ish) whisky tasting. So my friend came over after many, many failed attempts to connect in purely whisky tasting way.  On Saturday afternoon, I haphazardly threw a baby bok choy and scrambled eggs taster. My friend had previously stated that he was a Chival Regal fan, and that was his go to whisky of choice. Having only a vague idea of what Chival Regal is about (i.e. Speyside, blended. So warm, inviting with a medium body, maybe). With that in mind I endeavored to create a new tasting experience based on similar yet distinctly different palate and mouth feel. So I went with what would be a nice entry into the world of Japanese whisky and a higher end Speyside single malt first fill Balvinie.

Part of hosting a whisky tasting is sharing, ideas, impressions and new expressions. So I tried to suggest a progression of flavours that would ease one on top of the other without overpowering. So the rest of this post is mostly my friends reactions to trying these to whiskies and his candid discoveries that were similar but different than my own.

A little advice that I tried to give in the tasting process was, take your time at every level of discovery. Take a whiff let the flavours roll in your nose and repeat the process. Then do it one last time but, at you inhale through your nose, open your mouth and see if you can delve into the next layer. It’s a fun little trick and the payoff is watching someone do it for the first time and getting that extra note. It was fun and the notes that were taken down on paper somehow seems to add to the experience and is helpful if you want to recall your impressions for posterity. And the notes for the Nikka Coffey Grain were:

Nose: Citrus and vanilla (the vanilla came after)

Palate: Smooth, sweet at the front and vanilla, coconut and pear in the follow through. This combined with a light tingling in the mouth feel that transitioned to the finish.

Finish: Light and long lasting

For the second selection I wanted to add a bit of a wow factor and the Balvinie Single Barrel First Fill was  assuredly the way to go. I had a good idea that the contrast in intensity would garner a different reaction from the more subdued Nikka. And I was right the full 57%ABV creates an effervescent rollercoaster on the palate and it was aptly described as a red carpet unrolling in your mouth.

And the notes for the Balvinie are as follows:

Nose: Sexy, sweet and plum

Palate: Carpet rolling out, heavy yet smooth layers

Finish: Mild after taste

This was a new experience for the both of us and I enjoyed the role of purveyor of information and tips. Maybe the best tip I could leabe you with would be this old chestnut, Try to leave the dram in your mouth for moment while your saliva is activated and see the difference in flavour as the alcoholic content is lowered with the addition of water. It’s a low tech way to bring out those additional notes in higher alcohol percentage.

And the last thing I did was make my fiend nose my Ardbeg Uigeadail, really just to see how he would react to the vastly different flavour profile. I don’t have a picture but his initial reaction was: is that medicinal rubber mixed with fresh leather. And a deeply wrinkled nose. I can’t help but smile, that tasting will be for another day.

 

Slainte mhath

Balblair 03′

Easter Brunch was had and a surprise cache was found, and out of the cache a single malt was selected for the after-meal digestif. Packaging was a factor in the selection, a center joint opening box, it’s a nice alteration, and another particularity to this is expression is that there is no age statement on the bottle, only the year it was bottled, in this case 2003. IMG_5499

Having been advised that this Balblair 03′ was a cask strength first fill expression there was an anticipation of full a frontal assault to the palate. And to the nose it was surprisingly unassuming, with wafting notes of an airy oak and some light fresh cut hay, or what i assume is fresh cut hay. Not to say that I was dissapointed  with the advertisement of cask strength being mild, it was a slow lead in to what was a surprising first sip.

 

FullSizeRender 6The first sip fills the cassem with a gentle brush fire that sparkles.  The sparkles then coat the mouth with notes of honey and light citrus matching the naturally clear appearance of the dram. This is followed further down with other layers of equally light floral citrus and plays around in the fields of fresh vanilla orchids. Despite the power of the ABV (46%) which seems low for a cask strength, having seen measures upwards of 58% there is a pay off on the back end of this expression, the finish, the finish  finishes for a good long  long time. This finish can take a few sips of coffee, compliment the delicate poached cardamon and saffron pear dessert and slowly phase out.

This is a stand out dram, the light and balanced flavours pair well against the strength of the intense mouthfeel. I enjoyed the surprise discovery and am excited to delve into the many other surprises that lurk patiently to be explored.

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Slainte mhath