Following on from Day 1, Part 2/2
Battle of the Blends has become an annual tradition, one that all Whiskylive attendees can participate in. Those who couldn’t attend the show can still try both drams for an astonishing £0.01p at MoM. The first battle in 2016 saw Neil Ridley’s blend narrowly beat Dave Broom’s. A year later, Neil lost to manager at The Soho Whisky Club, George Keeble in battle #2. This year sees current reigning champion George pitted against Lyndsey Gray of the Quaich Bar at The Craigellachie Hotel. Let battle #3 commence.
Whisky Magazine Battle of the Blends 2018 ‘A’ 47.3%
George involves a mead cask for his blend.
- N: Peaty with moorish Talisker & Clynelish vibes.
- T: Chewy. The mead is light indeed.
- F: Fine form and a relaxed malty fresh.
- C: Likeable for sure.
Scores 84 points
Whisky Magazine Battle of the Blends 2018 ‘B’ 45.3%
Lyndsey chooses a Tequila cask as part of her blend makeup.
- N: Blind, I initially thought this was the mead cask blend but I soon begin picking up the tequila.
- T: Drinkable but not overly joyous.
- F: Waxy icing sugar.
- C: More simplistic than blend A. Battle results come out in April I believe, as do the recipes.
Scores 82 points
Editor’s Blend (2018) Whisky Magazine ‘Special Selection’ 46%
Cadenhead has Creations, Speciality has Elements and Whisky Magazine has Editor’s.
- N: Creamy toasted barley, a touch ashy.
- T: Warm and rounded, sugary and a little peated. Little to no profile change with water so you might as well add a drop to soften the slight alcohol bite.
- F: Some nice lactose notes – a theme of the drams at this year’s show.
- C: Very nice session dram.
Scores 86 points
Teeling 14yo Whisky Magazine ‘Special Selection’ cask #13790 56.4% [50cl]
- N: Straight in with the tropical fruits and putty. Classic Irish.
- T: Again, it’s so very Irish. Turns dry acetone sour.
- F: Surprisingly woody/clay-like before going into bloom with tropical candy fruits, grapes and tinned fruits [apricots] with custard. The finish grows and grows. I take this over to Billy who wonders whether there’s a Calvados finish at play. I shall enquire. We saw this happen twice yesterday, the finish trumping all else – and what a finish it is.
- C: For two years The Whisky Magazine were pouring a fabulous Fuji Gotemba grain from Kirin WB86.83. This year they impress again with this Teeling.
Scores 88 points
Let’s see how that 14yo compares with an official 24yo.
Teeling 24yo  Ob. ‘Vintage Reserve Collection’ [5000 bts] 46% WB90.35
Here’s yet another one I’d missed previously, hidden from view.
- N: Smells like one of those flawless noses, one mainly talking of meaty-putty dry fruits. There’s some poke but it doesn’t mind some water.
- T: Woody, meaty putty-dry fruits – so more of the same really. Pokey, somewhat blocky/clogged, and the palate at least doesn’t free up with the time I allowed.
- F: Thankfully at the tail it relaxes into a deep fresh and heather honey, wrapping up with a crystal-heathery sugar finish.
- C: Very good but I’ll take the 14yo over it.
Scores 87 points
Glenfarclas 2007/2016 Ob. for TWE casks #435 & 456 51.1% WB87.27
Another bottling that passed me by back in 2016.
- N: Clean as a whistle sherry action provides an array of fruits, sweet grapefruit, quince jelly,….
- T: No notes. I’m clearly chatting.
- F: Either there’s a bit of sherry sick or my acidity levels are building early.
- C: As is often the Farclas way, this is fine if unmoving.
Scores 84 points
Ooh, an independent 10yo Kilchoman. Browsing through Whiskybase, I see that the Kilchoman distillery released their inaugural cask #1 10yo in 2015 [link], with the highest bid for a bottle reaching £7000. Furthermore, there were a fair number of 10yo private casks as well as two 10yo Kilchoman Club editions released in 2016 & 2017 respectively. As far as I know, this is the first independent 10yo Kilchoman release.
- N: ‘Taste the difference’ [grapey] olive oil, vegetal-sweet icing sugar, redcurrant juice, dense dough, straw [and hair from a rabbit hutch – Nick], pickled onions, old wax, kerosine, struck matches, popped balloons, tarry Laphroaig,…
- T: B’loonies, kerosine, petroleum, coal tar,..
- F: We are soon into the finish and plateauing very cleanly on sweet corn, struck matches and smokey honey.
- C: A bit bonkers and well worth a look in.
Scores 85 points
[Edradour] Ballechin 2004/2017 12yo TWE cask #330 [251 bts] 54.5% WB88
I only ever had one smoky Edradour before – a bottle I bought at the distillery in 2009 out of curiosity.
- C: [No notes]. Hats off to TWE for finding and bottling this cracker.
Scores 88 points
Chatting with a number of Speciality Drinks brand ambassadors, I got given a brief overview of the company. In very simple terms:
- Speciality Drinks – Supplier of drinks to the trade
- The Whisky Exchange – Shop & online retailer.
- Whisky.Auction – Online auction with a superbly user-friendly website.
- Elixir Distillers – Bottler of Single Malts of Scotland, Port Askaig and Elements.
[With thanks to Billy for clarifying]
Let’s try two of those brands, starting with Port Askaig.
Port Askaig 15yo SMS Sherry cask [5000 bts] 45.8% WB83
Apparently we’ve Bunnahabhain here, not Caol Ila. Turns out I had this at last year’s show. There were quite a number of stands with last year’s stock. This highlights the importance of making a list/plan though it was refreshing to attend a show without one.
- C: This is a funny malt, one that doesn’t speak of Bunnahabhain in general. Finishes with an ashy funk.
Scores 83 points, the same as last year as it turns out.
Glen Elgin 1995/2017 21yo 21yo SMOS cask #3199 [304 bts] 55.4% WB86
- N: Modestly yet assuredly sweet/sour.
- T: Reconfirmed sweet-to-sour dunnage-y/barley-fruity-honeyed development.
- F: Long, soft, fresh and with yet more sweet/sour action.
- C: Another high quality, desirably [slow]-aged bourbon cask Speysider. It’s been quite the festival for this style.
Scores 86 points
Benrinnes 1995/2016 20yo SMOS [281 bts] 51.1% WB87.67
- N: Another bottle that passed me by in 2016. It’s richer than the Glen Elgin with a deeper more integrated sweet-to-sour profile, turning meaty.
- T: That’s the ticket, a concentrated dunnage-y bourbon beauty in the same league as yesterday’s 33yo Teaninich.
- F: Polite sour-cream barley juice finish.
- C: A strong contender for the best whisky of the show.
Scores 89 points
And that’s lunch on day 2. See HERE for the final instalment.