The Abbey Whisky Bar Edinburgh, monthly whisky tasting

The Abbey Whisky Bar

Wednesday, October 25, featured the regular whisky tasting at the Abbey. This time there was a new twist as this was to be a “blind tasting”. The abilities, or lack of them, of the Whisky Group members, would be tested by trying to identify five whiskies without being told the name of each. In October the presentation was given by Mark Davidson of Royal Mile Whiskies on the High Street.  

Having had a nice meal consisting of an Applewood cheeseburger, salad and chips followed by a lemon cheesecake I felt up to the challenge. So onto the tasting itself.  

The tasting

The first dram was a light coloured whisky. To the nose, I detected vanilla with elements of citrus. The first small quaff was something of a surprise as the whisky really packed a punch!

This is a whisky to take when you are feeling some inner warmth!  

Further discussion showed others detected almost a seaside symphony of ice cream, warm sand and salty seaweed. Even some notes of an oak forest.  

We had a few stabs at the identity of the dram but failed to guess it despite coming near with some elements. Mark revealed it to be the Campbeltown 2006 Glen Scotia Single Cask.  A robust 56.5% alcohol. This an edition limited to 234 bottles. Recommended for its clean sharp straightforward tastes. This is a whisky to have after a large satisfying meal.  Priced by Royal Mile Whiskies at £74.95 a bottle.  

The second dram was quite different.  Darker in colour. To the nose a number of elements could be detected, honey, various sweet fruit and wholesome nuts.  On swallowing I was aware of an interesting oily aftertaste complementing the complex flavours mentioned above.  After a discussion, Mark revealed that this whisky was finished in casks previously used for Madeira. This giving the whisky its complex tastes. The whisky was the Loch Lomond distillery Inchmurrin Island Collection.  46% alcohol a bottle retails at £56 at Royal Mile Whiskies.  

Recommended if you like a whisky with robust complex tastes.  

The third dram was a real challenge. Once again lighter in colour. There was the unmistakable “nose” of smoke and iodine. Immediately I thought that it must be a whisky from Islay? Swallowing revealed the smokiness increasing in the mouth however this was balanced by a note of marshmallows. This making the drink less fierce than a full-blooded Islay whisky.  

Nobody managed to guess the identity of the distillery. Mark then surprised us as the whisky was from the Longrow distillery, peated 46% alcohol.  Longrow is a part of the admirable Springbank group. This Longrow was initially created by the distillery chairman to prove that they could produce a whisky able to match Islay drams in respect of peatiness. It is now a part of their range.   

I really enjoyed this dram. A challenging yet well-balanced whisky. It is retailed by Royal Mile whiskies at £39.95 a bottle. A bargain!!  

Dram four was another dark coloured whisky. To the nose a complex variety of elements. Dark toffee, brown sugar, sweetness together with soft fruits – apples and pears. Swallowing the whisky initially resulted in a dryness but that was soon followed by the tastes mentioned above plus a spicy aftertaste. This is a strong whisky!

Two of our group managed to identify this exact whisky!! The Glenfarclas 105 60% proof. The Glenfarclas distillery use sherry casks in which to mature the whisky up in Speyside. The history of the 105 dates back to the 1960’s when the Grant family were looking at bottling a 10-year-old cask strength whisky as a Seasonal gift at Christmas. So the 105 was born.  

Currently on special offer at Royal Mile Whiskies at £47.95 this whisky was the favourite from our group. It offers a challenging but rewarding drinking experience. Ideal for a relaxing evening dram.  

By this time we were all enjoying a warm glow and much good conversation, however, we had one more dram to evaluate.

Dram Five presented itself as another dark whisky. Once again the distinctive notes of iodine and seaweed with lots of peat! This must be an Islay whisky?? Swallowing revealed a fruity taste, even chocolate, following the typical West Coast peatiness. A stronger dram than the earlier Longrow.  

This whisky was the 2011 Kilchoman distillery matured in a single sherry cask. A delightful drink which is bottled at full cask strength. A rare whisky from a small distillery. We all enjoyed sampling it! On offer from Royal Mile Whiskies at a reasonable £89.95. Highly recommended!  

We enjoyed the rest of the evening with good conversation before leaving for home.

Looking forward to our next meeting.   

Written by Greg Dunn (Instagram)

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