After another long hiatus brought on by the consuming pace of the Christmas holidays, it is time to get back to tastings. YAY.
This year Liza (my wife) gave me a whisky advent calender. It is a very wonderful and thoughtful gift. It shows that my wife is cool with my hobby. This level of support feels great and is priceless. I am also very happy that I received it on Christmas rather than before. This gives me an opportunity to taste at my leisure.
For my listening pleasure I will continue with the theme of awesome gifts given to me by Liza. For Christmas 2010 she got me tickets to see Phish at Madison Square Gardens in New York City on New Years day. This was the first time I had seen the band in 10 years. Not only was it an incredible gift, it was also a solid show that reminded me of how tight these musicians are. 01.01.11, a great show that deserves a listen.
The first whisky in the calendar is the Master of Malts - Islay single malt. It is a mystery whisky, though the description on the Master of Malts web site says: that it has a "decidedly South Coast style..." This would imply that it is either a Laphroaig, Lagavulin or Ardbeg. It could also be a Port Ellen but that distillery is closed which would mean that this is a very rare, highly sought after dram. My bet is Laphroaig, and I will compare the quarter cask in order to try and figure it out. The reality is that I likely won't be able to prove one way or the other, but who cares, this is fun.
Now lets get tasting.
Nose: heavy peat, sea salt, white pepper and pleasant honey.
Palate: very smoky and drying. there is also pine, menthol, and a touch of ginger and cinnamon.
Finish: coal is left with a slight citrus tang.
This is a decent enough whisky but it strikes me as watered down. Is it Laphroaig I can't be sure but I believe so. Let's compare the Laphroaig Quarter Cask to see if that gives any clues.
Nose: sweetness hits right away. Christmas cake, pipe tobacco, mint. Very complex.
Palate: rich raisins at first. this is followed by smoke and leather.
Finish: the smoke remains powerfully present but is made thick and almost chewy by a sweet vanilla.
These are not the same whisky. The Quarter cask is infinitely richer, particularly in the mouth feel, while the mystery malt seemed thin and almost watery. As I said earlier I am unable to tell if what I have tasted is a Laphroaig. I still believe it is (albeit a watered down version) and in the interest of always being right I am sticking with that as my final answer. If I'm wrong go ahead and tell me... I might listen.
I will leave off hoping that everyone had a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year.