As previously discussed, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society doesn’t just sell unique single-cask whiskys to its membership, it also throws whisky events around the country.
I had the fortune to attend the Society’s San Francisco shindig, and can highly recommend it to anyone, especially the whisky novice. Unlike Whiskyfest or Whiskies of the World, the Whisky Extravaganza is smaller both in attendance and in the number of distilleries pouring. This makes the show more intimate and easier to get around. No shoving and jostling to get a sample, and it was easy to have a conversation with those manning the booths, if you so desired.
Plenty of tables and an excellent buffet (including the biggest roast beef I’ve ever seen) made break-taking easy, and I didn’t see anyone who didn’t appear to be having a good time.
The downside, of course, is that for the experienced whisky drinker, finding something new could be tough. I spent most of the night revisiting old favorites, but also found time for some new discoveries, including some private label blends, vats, and single malts like the outstanding Classic Cask 35 Years Old, as well as five selections from the SMWS itself — with the bonus that the whiskys being poured were being identified by name.
Great times and I hope to hit the event again in 2011. You should too.
Tasting Report: Single Malt Scotch Whisky Extravaganza Fall 2010
Aberlour 16 year old / A- / soft and silky, cherry notes, finish is powerful
The Balvenie 17 Year Old Peated Cask / A / made not with peated whisky but rather finished in casks that contained peated whisky… very intriguing and easygoing; a smoky whisky for non-peat lovers
The Classic Cask – 35 year old rare Scotch whisky / A / a blended whisky, and one of the best I’ve every had, rich with sherry and chocolate
Cragganmore 1992 Distillers Edition / A- / big nougat notes
Dalwhinnie 1994 Distillers Edition / B / a bit rough
Douglas Laing The Premier Barrel – Highland Park 1996 13 Years Old / B / overly wooded
Douglas Laing The McGibbon’s Provenance – Caol Ila 1990 14 Years Old / B+ / opens up with water
Douglas Laing Big Peat – Islay Vatted Malt / A- / the name don’t lie (a blend of Ardbeg, Bowmore, Caol Ila, and Port Ellen)
Douglas Laing Double Barrel 10 Years Old- Highland Park + Bowmore / A / sweet and smoke together, an intoxicating blend
Glen Grant 10 Years Old / B- / a little astringent
Glen Grant 16 Years Old / B+ / considerably better with more balance than the 10 year; strong honey notes
The Glenlivet 25 Years Old / A / the “XXV” bottling, a classic, with malty, bright orange fruit, lush and unique
Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban Port Cask 12 Years Old / A / lush port notes, a winner
Glenmorangie Nectar D’Or Sauternes Cask 12 Years Old / B / a little rough around the edges, not getting Sauternes
The Glenrothes Vintage 1985 / B+ / hot, a touch peaty
Highland Park 30 Years Old / A / always a must-experience at any tasting; perfectly balanced
Isle of Jura 16 Years Old / C+ / not working for me
Isle of Jura Superstition / B+ / peat and smoke, well balanced here; BBQ in a glass
Loch Chaim – Isle of Arran 1996 13 Years Old / A- / super smooth, sweet, a nice everyday Scotch with a jokey name
Longmorn 16 Years Old / A- / very similar to Aberlour 16, with a bit o’ peat
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society – 25.51 / B- / 18 year old Rosebank; rocky and out of balance
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society – 123.05 / B+ / 8 year old Clengoyne; hugely phenolic
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society – 39.75 / B+ / 13 year old Linkwood; tobacco finish, good body
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society – 93.37 / B / 17 year old Glen Scotia; minty nose, huge heat
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society – 33.83 / B / 7 year old Ardbeg; young, with big peat (it’s Ardbeg, after all); not much else going on