There are a few scotch brands that everyone loves that should be a staple tasting event for any reputable whisky club…. and we hadn’t done one of those yet in our 6 years since founding! Bry Simpson, the Canadian brand ambassador for Ardbeg and Glenmorangie is even a former TWS member, and YET we still hadn’t managed to pull off an event yet.
That all changed once we got our hands on a bottle of Ardbeg 10 bottled in the 80s that we wanted to centre a tasting around, and Bry brought an amazing line-up to complement it. Unfortunately, Bry had to join us virtually from Scotland due to some last minute urgent travel, but we pivoted quickly and pulled it off.
We started off with Glenmorangie, and with an old tin of the Original 10 year old…. which contained a miniature from the 80s (and the first from the Jim Dufton Miniature Collection which will be featured across a number of future events)! We drew numbers and a lucky few got to try this old 10 that everyone agreed was a massive surprise with some peat notes and great minerality.
Next we poured some Quinta Ruban 14yr, a long-time favourite of many (who like me, are a sucker for Port casks). The new 14yr expression retained the leathery, dried fruit notes of the old 12 and is a gorgeous sipper. The new bottles and labels look great too.
Bry then gave us a real treat – a cask strength batch sample of the old 12yr Lasanta, 2yr secondary maturation in Oloroso. This was the first bottle to be killed off at the end of the night after the official tasting and was a real barnburner with heavy sherry notes and a fantastic ex-bourbon backbone.
We rounded off the Glenmorangie portion of the evening with a taste of the limited edition Tale of Forest. This one shocked many, including myself, with its earthy, herbaceous funk that we all agreed would not lead us to guess Glenmo if we tasted it blind.
We then moved onto the Ardbeg portion of the night, featuring our side-by-side 10s and the always-loved Corryvreckan.
We poured the 10s side by side (even pouring simultaneously, with must skill, if I say so myself) and opened the floor for opinions. Bry shared with us that earlier 70s distillations of Ardbeg likely had less peat and funk than later 70s and the majority agreed this was probably a late 70s distillation owing to its heavy iodine and barnyard funkiness.
When asked which they preferred, most said the old bottling, but a good handful preferred the modern 10, as it was more consistent from nose to finish, and slightly less rough around the edges (despite being 6% higher ABV). Whatever their preference, everyone loved trying this little piece of history next to its modern sibling.
After the Corryvreckan, we had a surprise extra entry in the line-up as mad scientist Jeremy pulled out his Ardbeg 10, finished in a port-seasoned mini-cask! Needless to say, when he revealed this, it was the most popular post-line-up pour! Despite only 5 days in the cask, it took on the colour and fruitiness of the port and really rounded out the peat with a bit of sweetness!
A fantastic, long-overdue event with Bry and these two iconic brands! Here are a few more pics of the event!
As usual, amazing photocredit to Leemarc Lao, a TWS member and professional photographer who takes these amazing shots every time!