What I liked about WotW 2009: It was held on a boat and, despite my usual seasickness, I didn’t get ill at all. Lots of great whiskey being poured. Despite the stairs (three levels) and the crowds (big), relatively compact venue was easy to get around in.
What I didn’t like: Inexplicable 30 minutes spent waiting in line to get in, salivating all the while. No-shows on the pre-release list, namely Macallan. No printed program (my scribbles below are a “best translation” attempt).
Lots of good stuff being poured — and finally got to try the High West rye — both the current release and an upcoming, unreleased bottling — that everyone’s been begging me to write about. I liked them both!
That said, as always, bear in mind the below comments are based only on a few scant sips of whiskey and should be taken appropriately — as preliminary ratings.
Thanks to Celtic Malts for throwing such a fun evening! See you next year!
Complete Notes – Whiskies of the World San Francisco 2009
Scotch and Irish…
Auchtentoshan 18 Year / B / A bit weedy.
Bushmills 21 Year / A- / Exceptionally smooth.
Bushmills 1608 / A / Amazing balance in this limited edition and better than the 21 year (which is more expensive).
Glenkinchie 1991 / B+
The Glenrothes Select Reserve / B+ / Too light in style.
The Glenrothes 1991 / A / Candylike, very fun. Great value.
The Glenrothes 1985 / A- / More mellow, but with a bit less character.
Highland Harvest Organic Scotch / B- / The only organic Scotch I’ve ever seen. Very rough though.
Laphroaig 15 Year / B+ / Hard to distinguish vs. the 10 year.
Tomintoul 27 Year / A-
Tomintoul 31 Year / A / Star of the show (and quite similar to the 27 year), a delicate and nicely sweet whisky with amazing depth.
Mackillop’s Choice Caol Ila 1979 / B / Hot and overly peated.
Mackillop’s Choice Macallan 1990 / A / Lush and sweet, hard not to like.
Johnnie Walker Gold Label 18 Year / B+ / (Weren’t pouring the Blue – boo!)
Wemyss 1989 “Fruit and Nut Fudge” Single Highland Malt / A- / Sweet with a hot finish.
Tullamore Dew 12 Year / B- / Extreme orange peel character.
Aberlour 12 Year / B / A double wood Scotch, fine.
Aberlour 16 Year / A-
Aberlour A’Bunadh Cask Strength / A / Nice sherry tone. No idea why the pourer suggested putting this on the rocks. Heresy! Another great value.
Dewar’s 18 Year / B+ / Nice blend, but can’t read my notes.
Aberfeldy 21 Year / A- / Great smoky/big peat style Scotch.
Some domestic whiskeys…
High West Rendezvous Rye / A- / A huge, big rye, but with a relatively mild finish. Liked it a lot. Want to try in more depth.
High West 16 Year Rocky Mountain Rye / A- / Smoother and less spicy than the Rendezvous. Quite different in style but also good. Not yet released.
Tuthilltown Baby Bourbon / B / 100% corn bourbon, really, er, corny.
Tuthilltown Four Grain Whiskey / B- / Even funkier than the corn stuff.
Old Potrero Rye / C+ / Extremely odd character, not overly appealing at first blush.
Woodford Reserve / B+ / A very straightforward, unsurprising bourbon.
Some other spirits…
Bendistillery Cofia Coffee/Hazelnut Vodka / A / Full review to come.
Chase Potato Vodka / A-
Chase Elderberry Liqueur / A- / More flowery than St. Germain.