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Heights Chateau Presents: A Taste of Scotland with Speyside Distillers and Scott’s Selection

I wanted to post my impressions of the tasting I went to with WhiskyParty at Heights Chateau in Brooklyn back on June 9th, 2009. All in all it was a very fun night that ended with me buying WhiskyParty an expensive wedding present and myself an expensive “I drank too much and didn’t leave my credit card at home” present.

Notes we learned on The Speyside distillery :

  • 1 of 4 distilleries that do everything manually
  • Use bourbon barrels exclusively so that they can be strictly kosher
  • The only strictly kosher distillery

Notes we learned what not to do at a tasting :

  • Do not have a slightly larger jovial man wear a kilt and sit in a chair with legs splayed
  • Do not offer up only one glass with no paper towels for cleaning
  • Pour more than ¼ oz pours, or at the very least, have 1 ¼ oz pour for tasting at cask strength, and 1 ¼ oz pour for tasting with water

Now for the tasting notes. I did my best, but the tastings went pretty quickly so I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I’d like on them, and obviously tasting 13 scotches in one sitting is going to make your notes slightly jumbled.

Speyside 12

N: varnish, clean
P: grapes, berries
F: long, dry
O: Actually tasty. Not like a blend, which is my problem with many of these cheaper scotches (they taste like Dewars to me). This one was more unique. Very drinkable, but not my favorite as there was not much peat smoke, vanilla or toffee. 8.5/10

King’s Crest 25 Year Old Blend

C: Orange Yellow
L: Small, slow
N: Vanilla, toffee, berries
P: Cherries, vanilla, no bite on tongue, smooth
F: Bright, a bit too sweet, explodes long with some fruit again.
O: Not bad, but coming in over 2 bills is way too expensive. 8.4/10

Now all the following drams are Scott’s Selections

Auchentoshan 1983, 21 years old, 105 Proof

C: light yellow
L: small, quick
N: Toffee, vanilla, grass, a little fruit with water
P: bitter, rubber, even brighter with water
F: nutty, sweet pistachios that turns slightly bitter with water.
O: Eh. 8.1/10

Glenlivet 1977, 27 years old, 106.2 proof

C: a pale yellow like chamomile tea
L: small, quick
N: Floral, and a touch of vanilla
P: fruits, toffee. With water, the sherry really comes forward and somehow vanilla is right with it.
F: Caramel, long fruit. With water, sweetness overpowers and becomes a bit sickly.
O: At this point, I’m a little worried about the tasting. This is once again okay, but hasn’t blown my mind or reached any of the right notes. 8.5/10

Macallan 1989, 18 years old, 106.2 proof, bourbon casks not sherry.

C: Pale yellow
L: quick, large
N: toffee cream
P: too bright to really get anything. Remains bright with water added.
F: sweet, with a sprinkling of brown sugar that becomes a bit too much like caramel with water.
O: I know I like Islays, and the national sales manager Brian doesn’t, but I’m still waiting for a great scotch worthy of the price tags next to the bottles. 8.3/10

The Glenrothes 1980, 25 years old, 111.6 proof.

O: 8.1/10. I’m a big The Glenrothes fan and this just disappointed me. It tasted like the three above it. Sort of this muddled jumble of all the notes it should have, without the right mix (sometimes Vanilla overpowers, sometimes it gets too sweet, sometimes it just tastes like someone poured me some Dewars that’s been sitting around in plastic for a few years.

Aberlour 1989, 18 years old, 105.6 proof

N: Cherries, chocolate
P: Cinnamon and sugar
F: Peppery and short
O: This was decent (unfortunately I didn’t record a grade) but still only marginally better than the ones above it. It hit some interesting notes, but seemed incomplete. Probably one of the better ones yet, though. At least because of that cinnamon taste that I had never had with scotch.

Longmorn-Glenlivet 1967, 36 years old, 104.4 proof, Bourbon first fill

C: Copper
N: candied yams, vanilla cream and some green notes
P: a bit too bright without water, but a satisfying sweetness with a few drops added
F: medium length swell across the tongue that accentuates but doesn’t overpower.
O: Alright. This was pretty good. The age mellowed the sickly sweet I was getting from the previous drams and this scotch hit the right notes without overpowering. No smoke, obviously, but real tasty. 9.0/10

Glenlivet 1971 Sherry Cask, 36 years old, 106.2 proof, very rare as the liquid was filled into the wrong barrells

O: I got a bit of toffee with a lot of pine cabin on a hot day. Lots of forest and wood that was interesting to taste, but not necessarily tasty.

Highland Park 1986, 21 years old, 108.2 proof, bourbon barrel.

C: pale yellow
L: Small, quick
N: alcohol burn and brine. Salted fire with a bit of water.
P: Brine. seaweed in a poppy fire with water.
F: salty sweet with a clean fire to finish.
O: not bad, but not great. Pretty enjoyable to get that much brine out of a Highland, though. 8.8/10

Bruichladich 1990, 14 years old, 116.2 proof

C: almost clear
L: though this isn’t very helpful, I have either really slow, or really fst (I saw lines but no legs drop, and we were moving too quickly to investigate further)
N : fruits and flowers
P: light and grassy, with water becomes fruit forward with a tinge of smoke trying to peak through
F: sweet and clean with a bit of bitterness on the after.
O: Once again, an alright dram, but nothing that I’m writing home about.

Bunnahabhain 1988, 16 years old, 107.6 proof

N: cotton candy, delicious. like The Glenrothes 1990 but without vanilla
P: Oily sea, a little fruit. With water smoke comes forward (oily, of course), with the sweet fruit sitting behind it almost imperceptibly
F: briny without smoke, a good burn that is long and lasting
O: This was way interesting. Totally sweet on the nose and totally salty and smoky on the tongue. My mind was confused completely by the juxtaposition within the same dram. This was one of the ones I tried again at the end of the night and enjoyed it. 8.9/10

Caol Ila 1984, 22 years old, 105.4 proof

N: Fire, raging forest fire, with candied coating
P: Salty sweet smoke.
F: Pork crackling, salty, overdose of campfire.
O: A great Caol Ila (though I’m not sure the price was justified). 8.9/10

Once again this was a great night. I thank The Speyside for doing it as I learned a lot, and got to taste some great whisky (and they even got a decent amount of cash off of me). I think my big hangup on the event was that some of the scotches tasted way too similar without there being anything really unique about them and that the price tags next to the bottles just weren’t justified as there was similar tasting and maybe even better stuff out there for cheaper. My recommendations on the whole night would be the Longmorn-Glenlivet 1967, the Bunnahabhain 1988, and a toss up between the Caol Ila 1984 and the Glenlivet Sherry Cask 1971.




Here’s what we’re drinking, and you should too.

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