The group of barbecue people that I’ve been talking whisky with finally got around to its first blind tasting! Well, for me, it wasn’t blind, but someone had to know what we were drinking. This is a long post, since it’s the first one about our blind tastings.
It took a bit to put together. I’d never sampled out a bottle and sent it out to be tasted, but it turned out to be simpler than expected. We’re still waiting for the last couple people to add their notes, but most have had their sample. I only sent out the alcohol level of the whisky, then revealed it as people posted their notes.
I got 2 and 4 ounce bottles, with caps, to fill with samples, letting people pay for the cost of 1, 2 or three ounce samples, along with the bottles, packaging and shipping. It turned out to be pretty reasonable, I thought… Definitely a lot less than a dram would cost at a bar.
With the whisky being a bit more dear than a bottle of Clan MacGregor, I was careful not to spill anything. I did pretty well, I thought.
Here were my notes:
BUBC: Batch 001
I added 2 small drops of Scottish spring water.
Appearance: It looked like whisky. Amber + a little
Vanilla, pears, custard with caramel, spicy wood, honey, a bit of blood orange
Honey, apricot preserves, bread pudding made with Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Malty muscovado sugar. Toasted, spiced pecans. Cedar and oak wood tones, gooseberries. The alcohol has a pleasant tang at the very first impression, but completely goes away to a very smooth end. Vanilla comes through more with the wood toward the back of the mouth.
Medium finish, with an oily but thin mouthfeel. Malty and sweet at the beginning, going to spicy wood with a tinge of espresso, black pepper and licorice/anise at the end.
This is a great mixed company dram. No one will be sorry it was poured, and everyone will likely enjoy something in it. It’s complex enough that people will get a lot of different impressions. It may not be the most remembered dram years down the road, but it will wrap around a great evening with friends to put a great final note on the memory. Maybe that’s better than wowing good friends with the greatest dram every… coloring the evening’s memories to make them warmer, brighter, more golden colored. I want to drink this whisky with good friends, sitting around a fire, on one of those nights when you try to tell them how much they mean to you.
Grilling/bbq: Have this with creme brûlée baked on a BGE, with a good, torched layer of sugar on top and lots of vanilla bean.
Let me explain something here… The Branndair Uisge Beatha Cuallach (again, someone correct me if this can’t be translated as “Barbecue Whisky Society”) is made up of barbecue people. In barbecue scoring, a 180 point scale is used for competitions, so I converted the typical 100 point scale to that. It’s just an indication and opinion, but it means it’s not as obvious as the 100 point scale. You can convert, kind of like fahrenheit to celsius… Multiply by 5/9, and you have the 100 point score. So 162 would end up being 90/100, which is higher than I expected. The reason is that Nose/Taste/Finish is only half our scoring… The other half is fully overall impression, as this can, in my opinion, really influence whether the whisky is good or not, more than the sum of the other parts.
I really liked this whisky, but that wasn’t shared by all of my fellow BUBC tasters. Some were in agreement, some were very much not!
Marten gave the whisky a 158/160 (87.8/100)
Pleasantly long with a smooth mildly spicy earthy woody medicinal quality, then vanilla turning slightly sweet at the end
Finish: Few Drops of Water
Even smoother with sweet, spicy, earthy blend, ending with just a slight sweetness
Kathy’s impression was interesting, as she added a drop, then a splash of water to see how it changed. Her score was the same as Marten’s:
Overall impression: This whisky is artfully balanced. It becomes friendlier and more laid back with a drop of water, an interesting new experience for me in that the added water has not disturbed the overall balance. I’m impressed with how it retains a feeling of balance after a splash of water, too, it becomes more sweet and even though it loses all of its iodine, salt and medicinal flavours the emerging buttery taste creates a new and equally pleasant balance.
While Tish got a lot more medicinal flavors out of the whisky, with a total score of 130/180
Taste: neat – very strong iodine, sour nougat, pepper
Taste: 1 drop of water added – iodine, sherry, pepper, woody
Taste: 1 tsp water added – not unpleasant slight burn in front of mouth, fading to the back of throat, orange oil/rind, cherry/toffee, slight iodine
Tish is somewhat new to Scotch in general, but Arlin has a bit more exposure, he still got a very different impression than I did, ending up with a 115/180 score!
Overall Impression: This was too hot with alcohol to be pleasant. I’d guess it’s a young whisky. Aging would improve this immensely!
There are still a couple of scores to come through, but I think it was a fun first blind sample, showing a wide range of tastes and impressions. I’m now thinking of what the next whisky will be!
Oh, you might want to know what the whisky was, if you didn’t get it from the first photo…
It was Glenglassaugh 26 year old, a Highland malt, at 46%!