Very enjoyable whisky tasting last night at Oddbins on Regent Street. For some reason, it's very easy to relax and socialise with complete strangers at a whisky tasting. We did the tasting blind, with the names of the whiskies being revealed after we'd tasted them. That was very interesting, and I found it quite hard to put names to a lot of the flavours.
JMR are a three people who are producing blended malts and trying for the "cut through the mystique" approach that's also been done by some of the New World wines. All three of their products were available at the tasting, this one was a Cooley's Irish malt whiskey. Increadibly sweet nose, light honey, slightly peat notes. Lacked much depth and complexity though. Pleasant and very easy to drink, but not terribly interesting.
Arran 10y/o - I don't have many notes on this; pale, citrus, somewhat course, serious "burn" on the nose.
Balvenie Doublewood 15yo. - Deep golden, honey, reasonably good warm finish, spicy, sherried.
Glenkinchie 1988 (bottled 2001) - large wood smoke, oaky tannic flavours, very well rounded, lingering finish. Was probably in the top three or four in the tasting.
JMR "The Rich Spicy One" - Rich, smooth, intense burst of mid-palette flavour I couldn't place.
Glenmorangie Burgandy finish - Oily, herbal initial taste, respectable finish, several flavours but not very well integrated. I liked this one more than most people in the room did.
Oddbins "McCelland" - (prob. Caol Isla 12yo) - Young, sweet, seaweed, peat, spicy light finish. Not a Great whisky, but good value for money.
JMR "The Smokey Peaty one" - Antiseptic nose, big initial tastes fill the mouth, quickly fades.
Scapa 14yo - Very unusual, marzipan on the nose, heathery honey, bananas, very comforting. I should buy some :-)
Ardbeg "Uigeadail" - mild, rich smokey/peat nose, very rounded taste, lingering smokey finish. Complex mix of wood, peat and smokey flavours. For an 11yo, it has great depth and is very well integrated. This convinced me that the trend of various "wood finishes" can be more than a marketing gimmick.
Bruichladdich "Twenty" (20yo) - Oil paints and peardrops on the nose, tropical fruits, barley sugar and vanilla flavours. Very good, but probably not worth the £80 price.