We attended a virtual scotch tasting the other day, organized by Impex Beverages, Scotch Club of San Francisco, and Elixir Distillers. It was everything a whisky nerd heart dreams about. Our guide was Oliver Chilton, who works for both Elixir Distillers and the Whisky Exchange.
Through the 3+ hour long tasting (it started at 2pm and ended around 5pm PST – which means he stayed up until 2am UK time with us!), Oliver walked us through the economics of barrel picking – and how he selects a barrel. The man even maintains spreadsheets on different distilleries and each year – to try to determine whether or not a barrel could potentially be good. For tips on buying from other independent bottlers, he advocates understanding their flavor profile and whether he’s enjoyed their previous releases. His own preference? It seemed to be a mixture of fruity, creamy (all of the ones we tried had a very silky mouthfeel), and peaty – and he doesn’t like finishes because it seems a bit “synthetic” to him. One of his comments: “If you find a bad bottle of Caol Ila, it’s the bottler’s fault.”
We had signed up for the tasting the week prior and the $50 e-ticket netted us five 2-oz tasters: Black Tot rum, Single Malts of Scotland (SMoS) Linkwood 2007, SMoS Glenburgie 21, SMoS Ardmore 21, and Port Askaig 18 year (Caol Ila). The package arrived the night before the tasting – and despite the rather steep price ($50), I can definitely say that the tasting was well worth it.
The tasting kicked off with the Black Tot Finest Carribean (not to be confused with the Black Tot Last Consignment $1k+ bottles, which we have also reviewed) – to get the rum out of the way. I must admit, I enjoyed it. Another attendee commented that it was “dry” but we both found it chocolatey and creamy. The mouthfeel is probably what won me over the most – and the rum whet my appetite for the main course of scotch tasting.
- Score - 7/107/10
Nose: Salted caramel, butter, toffee, sea salt, almonds, limes, and like smelling a margarita Palate: Creamy mouthfeel, chocolate, damp leaves, orange cleaner, middle has hit of sweetness, and coffee Finish: A hint of ester (probably from the 5% Jamaican) and tannic Overall Summary: 7/10. Quite nice. There could have been more in terms of flavor surprise, but the mouthfeel is lovely and the blend really nicely balances the different regions’ contributions of chocolate and fruit. MSRP: ~$50-60
Quick overview of our scoring system. Note that we try to give a “5” for an average whisky, which is lower than standard whisky scoring guides (typically around 80).
- 40% Guyana (3-5 years aged, pot and column), 20% unaged Guyana (pot and column), 35% Barbados (5 years, pot and column), 5% Jamaican (aged 3 years pot only)
- Distilled in Carribean and Bottled in Scotland (Elixir Distillers)
- “Navy Style”, meaning they are all from historical British colonies that sourced the Royal British Navy’s rum
- ABV: 46.2%
- Elixir Distillers creates, blends, and bottles spirits – specializing in Scotch – but also working on other whiskies, rum, and tequila
- They produce the Elements of Islay, Single Malts of Scotland, and Port Askaig lines