A Faux-Chichi Night of Whisky

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There was cheese — a pecorino and a Manchego. Check. There were olives — a mix of marinated black and green ones, of which some were the Kalamata variety. Check. There was whisky — a Dalmore 15, a Talisker 10 years and a Laphroaig Quarter Cask. Check. There was even a Partagas cigar. We were all set for a chichi tasting session.

In contrast, we weren’t particularly chi ourselves. And a good thing for we had loads of fun chatting about all sorts of, um, odds and ends. Evidence is here.

This was my first time doing a serious whisky tasting complete with notes. First was the Dalmore 15, (40%) a Highland single malt. The deer stag logo was quite scary. Would probably give you a fright if you lift your drunken head off the table and suddenly its bloodshot eyes staring accusingly at you.

The whisky itself was sweet and smooth. After the sharp blast of alcohol passed, I detected notes of vanilla and caramel but none of the “aromatic cloves, cinnamon and ginger, Seville oranges, lemons and limes” of the accompanying literature. Neither did I get any clues from tasting it that it had been aged in “100% sherry casks — Matusalem, apostoles, amoroso.” Employing my great powers of imagination, I thought there was a hint of orange on first whiff but nothing more. It went well with the creamy pecorino. Otherwise, it seemed rather closed, like a wine awaiting maturity. I can’t figure this one out. Further educational sessions are clearly in order.

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Next came the Talisker 10 years (45.8%), an Island Single Malt. It comes from the only distillery on the Isle of Skye. It had a very complex nose. Despite the lower alcohol content compared to the Laphroaig, it need a lot more water for it to open up. There was something rather elusive about this whisky, I can’t quite find the words to describe it. The nose is a bit salty, somewhat reminiscent of the sea. After the initial alcoholic blast on the tongue, it takes off with lots of vanilla and malt, then the smoke asserts itself, finally leaving the peat to linger on the tongue. Very pleasing, especially with the Manchego. I think the salt crystals in the cheese emphasised the salt in the whisky.

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Last and best was the Laphroaig Quarter Cask (48%), an Islay single malt. According to Wikipedia, the Quarter Cask is made to taste like the whisky made 100 years ago. The nose wasn’t as complex as the Talisker but there was something restrained and more refined about it. In the mouth, it started off with caramel and vanilla. Before long, the smoke emerged and left a long peaty finish. I enjoyed that greatly.

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It was a close fight, but the Laphroaig won this tasting session. We truly did save the best for last. (More because the owner turned up later.) I’m looking forward to more tasting sessions ahead.

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