I’ve been mostly focusing on my training so far this year, so I haven’t done much whisky exploration lately. It was about time for some drams! On March 2, some friends, my husband, and I attended the second annual Seattle Whisky Jewbilee. It’s an event for whisky lovers that included a kosher buffet, a tasting glass, and a selection of roughly 250 whiskies to enjoy. It was the perfect activity for a particularly dreary Seattle night!
Being the nerd that I am, I looked over the pour list ahead of time, and compared it with my whisky tasting log. I noted the whiskies I hadn’t sampled before and then any that caught my interest. (Yes, I did research before an event with copious amounts of liquor. You can’t be any cooler than me, really, lol.) As an enthusiast and not a drunkard, I wanted to be strategic about the whiskies I sampled. I’m glad I did this as it would have been easy to be overwhelmed by the many offerings.
When heading into the venue, WithinSodo, our IDs and tickets were checked, and we were given a wristband and our wee tasting glass. The venue itself had an interesting minimalist/industrial/rustic look. There were three rooms with tables of distillery representatives, and another room for the buffet. The food offerings were very tasty! Various meats on sticks, sushi rolls, small pasties and savory pies, and a table with sweets: cookies, hamantaschen, lemon bars, and strawberries. All of the food was very good and I was pleased that none of it had an overpowering flavor – perfect for whisky tasting! The only thing I found slightly odd was that after about an hour, the food was completely taken away. So if you went straight for the whisky or got hungry later, you were out of luck.
It was quite a crush of people in the beginning and near impossible to get to the tables to get a sample (or even see which distilleries were represented.) I really wished for a small “program” with perhaps a map of where distilleries were in the space – it would have been really helpful. (Particularly when our friends were specifically looking for one distillery that was supposed to be there but it turned out they weren’t.) Anyway, a bit later, it calmed down somewhat and became a easier to move around and chat with the distillery reps.
I had intended on taking more photographs, but I was a bit more focused on enjoying the whisky than visually documenting the experience. Oops. 😉
So, without further ado, here are the drams I tasted!
Glenfarclas 21 Year Old
Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 43%ABV
Nose: Fruit and sweet bread
Palate: Tastes exactly like it smells – fruity, sweet, with baking spices. Easy to drink and nicely rounded.
Notes: Our friends adore this distillery, and I can see why! They are a family-owned distillery, and have classic Speyside offerings. (Still kicking myself that we didn’t go there last May.) You always know their drams will be well-balanced and fruity.
Brenne 10 Year Old
Single Malt (French) 48%ABV
Nose: Fruity, and VERY sweet. Like cotton candy or bubblegum.
Palate: Doesn’t taste like it smells. Kind of sweet, burnt sugar, with an odd grapefruit note. Not as candy-like as the original Brenne.
Notes: I’ve had the ‘original’ Brenne before, and it blew my mind with how much it smelled and tasted like bubblegum. (Which, honestly, is a weird flavor to get from whisky.) This particular expression is matured in ex-cognac casks as well as new French oak, which definitely gives it a unique flavor.
Cutty Sark Prohibition
Blended Scotch 50%ABV
Palate: Very velvety for the ABV. Creamy, and not fruity at all. Lots of caramel.
Notes: This was at the Highland Park table, and I had been hoping to try a different whisky. I can’t say I was disappointed, though, it was a delightful dram! Very easy on the palate, particularly given the ABV.
Mortlach 1995 – 17 Year Old (Exclusive Malts)
Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 53.3%ABV
Nose: Oaky, and caramel
Palate: Exactly like it smells – more oak and hints of caramel
Notes: This was the only one I didn’t finish. Don’t get me wrong, it was fine, but… meh. I wanted to ‘save room’ for ones that I truly enjoyed!
Hibiki Japanese Harmony Masters Select
Blended (Japan) 43%ABV
Nose: Dark fruit, brown sugar
Palate: Balanced. Sweet, fruity, bit of brine on the finish
Notes: The whiskies are drawn from 5 different types of casks, including American white oak casks, Sherry casks and Mizunara oak casks. Like other blended whiskies, this one was easy to drink.
Single Malt Scotch (Islay) 48%ABV
Nose: Sweet SMOKE
Palate: PEAT, but more brine than a typical Laphroaig. It lacked the classic Laphroaig medicinal notes (which is a-okay by me.) Sweeter than their standard drams.
Notes: Adam really liked this one, and I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t. I had a pretty strong reaction to the nose, but it was early on in the evening and I hadn’t sampled any other smoke bombs. However, it wasn’t like licking a burnt band-aid, which is how they normally taste to me. 🙂
Single Malt Scotch (Highland) 46%ABV
Nose: Very sweet honeyed fruits, but not in a cloying way.
Palate: Sweet, smooth, with some drying oak and hints of spice. Like drinking sunshine.
Notes: Matured for 2.5-3 years in a Madeira cask. This was my favorite of the night! I’m always a fan of Glenmorangie’s offerings (the Nectar d’Or specifically), but this one was pure ambrosia. I’d love to get a bottle of this on my shelf!
The Macallan 32 Year Old (privately-owned cask)
Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) Unknown %ABV
Nose: Balanced juicy fruits, grains and nuttiness.
Palate: Perfectly sweet, with hints of brine. A very well-balanced dram!
Notes: There was a gentleman who had a bottle ‘under the table’ that supposedly was from a friend of his who owned a cask and gave him a bottle of it. It was in a very old Laphroaig bottle, but we were told it was a Macallan 32 year old. I only have his word to go on, but a fun offering nonetheless!
Glen Moray 12 Year Old Madeira Cask (Single Cask Nation)
Single Malt Scotch (Speyside) 54.7%ABV
Nose: Fruity sweetness with buttery undertones.
Palate: Tastes like it smells – fruity and buttery, with the addition of some spices.
Notes: It spent 6 years maturing in a first fill bourbon barrel before maturing for an additional 6 years in ex-madeira cask. Another fine example of what a madeira cask can accomplish! Very easy to drink, especially considering the ABV.
Ben Nevis 20 Year Old (Single Cask Nation)
Single Malt Scotch (Highland) 55.6%ABV
Nose: Caramel with fruit, hint of nuttiness with brown sugar
Palate: Rich and sweet with dark fruits, nuts, and brown sugar
Notes: A great whisky to finish out the evening.
The whiskies offered ranged from single malts to blends to bourbons, but I leaned heavily towards single malts as they’re my preferred whisky (if you hadn’t gathered that already!) This event gave us the opportunity to try quite a few whiskies that would be difficult to sample otherwise, and that alone made it worth it. Overall, it was a very fun event that we enjoyed with our friends, and I would happily go again next year!