Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bray Head whisky tasting

As a sequel to my coblogger's post on Bray Head, I thought I would write my first post here about a whisky tasting I attended Saturday at that same bar. So far as I've found, Bray Head is the best place for whisky in Karlsruhe. To be honest, as a starving postdoc it's been hard for me to make much use of the ample selection there (spendier than some of the places in San Francisco Jeanine and I will discuss in future posts), so I was pleasantly stunned by the value of the tasting. The tasting consisted of seven 2 cl pours, along with a nice potato soup, for 35 euros. And these were not your everyday drams by any means. I warn readers that the following and all future tasting notes by me are those of a rank amateur. But here goes.

Ferghal (the proprietor) started us off with the only Irish whiskey of the night, the Connemara Sherry Finish. No age was given, and it was 46% abv. I really couldn't come up with a way to describe this one: it just tasted and smelled like a really good Irish whiskey. Very pleasant, if simple, and with just a hint of the sherry in the finish.

The second pour was an Islay Selection the Whisky Agency's Liquid Library. Out of the Laphroaig distillery, and aged 11 years in former Bourbon casks, 59.6%. With that level of booze, it clearly needed water. After the water, it had a thin mouth feel, and tasted only lightly peaty. I couldn't detect the bourbon. Fairly simple. Not bad, but not my favorite Islay.

The next was another Islay Selection from the Liquid Library, this time from Bunnahabhain. A mature 32 years, 45.8%. This one was excellent. Smelled grassy to me, with just a bit of citrus cleaner. Very smooth. Tasted like a Speyside to me, again with grass and citrus, and a pleasant finish. I would definitely consider owning this one, if I could find it at postdoc prices.

Number four was from Bruichladdich: Port Charlotte An Turas Mor. 46%, and a tender seven years. Smelled of peat, with a faint touch of stinky cheese. Sweet and peaty, with the sweetness present more in the beginning and the peat following. A bit of water doused the peat. Quite good, and according to the Nets, I might be able to find it on the (relative) cheap.

Moving away from Islay, the next was Talisker 57 deg. North. It had a lovely gold color, and was 57% abv. No age was given. This was intense, and needed about a tablespoon of water before I started to like it.  I still didn't get much out of the whisky, as evidenced by my patchy notes. It had cinnamon notes.

Back to Islay for Ardbeg's Airigh nam Beist "the Beast". 46% alcohol, and I believe 16 years old. It's a good whisky, tasting of peat (of course) and caramel. That said, it's hard for me to not compare it to the Uigeadail, which is cheaper (last I checked) and I think has more character. I think Airigh nam Beist is milder however, if that is preferred.

Finally (seven whiskies!), there came a Whisky Agency bottling from the Tomatin distillery. 51.3%. This one spent a whopping 34 years in refilled sherry butt, which imparted to it a pleasant reddish color. The wood is really evident in the nose. The taste was quite fruity and just a little tart. The wood returned for the finish. Either I or the whisky evolved over the next few minutes: when I returned to it after a pause, I tasted caramel in the front. Really a fantastic dram, and probably my favorite of the tasting.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting order - Irish, 5 Islays, ending with a Highland? Wish I could have been there!