Reviews! Macallan Estate Oak (ok), Dalwhinnie (meh), Laphroaig 30 (wow!)

I’m not one for a really peaty scotch. I’ve tried the Laphroaig 10-year-old and the closest thing that comes to mind is licking an ashtray. But, since Prince Charles sings the praises of Laphroaig, I was ready to gamble. (I’m Canadian by upbringing, loyalist Southern Ontario to be exact, so I naturally have an unnatural familiarity with the royal family.)

In this case no gamble at all, in hindsight anyway, since I was looking at a Laphroaig 30 year old, which is quite simply sublime. The smoky flavor of peat didn’t shoot up my nose in a gag-reflexing vomit. Rather it hung low in the mouth, more like a very cool and sexy fog. I tasted several different bottles of scotch on this particular night, but I topped up for seconds with this bottle and was ready to stick with it for the rest of the evening, except it was the last bottle I tried. To bad for me because the cheapest I could find the Laphroaig 30 online was $220 a bottle from Liquor One. I think this may have displaced in my imagination The Macallan as the benchmark for a great scotch.

The evening started out very promisingly with The Macallan Estate Oak ($70). This is a gimmicky limited edition distillation complete with a promise to plant a new oak tree for each bottle sold. The “green” angle here has been savaged by some bloggers, like malthead at Whisky News, who point out it is available only as a duty free purchase in airports, implying a major carbon footprint in the form of flying. My host of the evening picked it up during a trip at Heathrow, which by all accounts has an awesome liquor store complete with extensive scotch holdings and tasting opportunities. If anyone has pix please share.

I followed the video advice given earlier on, coating the tongue liberally and sniffing heartily, and I was not disappointed except for the lack of a true Glencairn glass. I had to explain my behavior to a couple of ladies in the room, but was rewarded with the characteristically sweet flavor of the highland Macallan, vanilla and toffee, with a nice glowing finish that lasted a good long while. I must have been right about the vanilla because I got confirmation from no less than two other scotch snobs of the same flavor later in the evening.

I then moved on to a 1990 Dalwhinnie Distillers Edition ($80), which had a distinct flavor of citrus. I’m not making this up, I really did get a good whiff of lemons and oranges. It was also sweet, with only a light spicinesss, but a slightly bitter aftertaste. Overall I liked it well enough, but not as well as the Laphroig or the Macallan.

Next was a 12-year-old GlenDronach, which was a real pleasure as I’d just written about this distillery in the blog and had never tasted it. Plus, you can’t help but sound like Sean Connery when you say the name. (Try it.) I thought it came off much like the Dalwhinnie, though more immature and with a more bitter aftertaste. Still, I thought the Glendronach 12 would make a good house Scotch until I heard about the price ($56, BevMo).

For my own contribution I brought a scotch I’d never tasted before, an 8-year-old triple distilled Springbank Hazelburn ($75, K&L). I thought it was a decent dram, but lacking in real character, and very much like a Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Last was a Glenfarclas 17 ($75, The Whisky Exchange), but by the time I got to it, it was clear it was time to go. I was not impressed with it, seemed a bit light and flavorless, certainly no Laphroig 30. I also noticed the review on Whisky Magazine was bit weak. Not at the top of my list for a refill. Also, see below for the dullest video ever of a distillery (to wit, Glenfarclas):

~ by whisky1 on August 17, 2008.

6 Responses to “Reviews! Macallan Estate Oak (ok), Dalwhinnie (meh), Laphroaig 30 (wow!)”

  1. […] the beginning of many more scotch tasting parties among old and new friends.  Whisky1 also did a review of last night’s tastings, which can be found right here on scotchtalk. Now let’s get down to business.  The scotches […]

  2. […] news makes me appreciate even more the stunning Laphroaig 30 year old, which I was lucky enough to try at a recent tasting with Scotchtalk co-writer Dramfun. It frankly blew us […]

  3. […] Triple distillation, and its use of unpeated malt, gives Auchentoshan a more “delicate” flavor than many Scotches, though it can produce a bland result by single malt standards, as I discovered with the Hazelburn. […]

  4. […] of the New Roseisle DistilleryRatings Hell: Fake Restaurant Wins Wine Spectator Award of ExcellenceReviews! Macallan Estate Oak (ok), Dalwhinnie (meh), Laphroaig 30 (wow!)Some Facts About Laphroaig’s New LineupSF Whiskyfest Arrives Oct. 10AboutWhat’s Next for Springbank […]

  5. […] of spending. I recently dropped $115 including shipping for an 18 year old Bladnoch cask strength. I also spent about $70 (after discount) on an 8 year old Hazelburn, from the highly regarded Springb…. And those are just mid-range prices, arguably cheap […]

  6. I Had d Laphroaig 10 YO.for the first time & I must say This is a humdinger of a whisky! Arguably the most devastating (and I mean that in a constructive manner) of the Islay peated single malts. Perhaps you’ve noticed, a lot of Isaly whiskies come in green bottles. There is in fact a reason for that. When the bottle is green, you cannot make out the color of the whisky. If you cannot see the color, your purchasing decision will instead be based on the label rather than the light color of the whisky in the bottle. The majority if Islay whiskies are bourbon cask matured & they are light in color. It’s a myth that the best whiskies have the darkest colors. All whiskies have magnificent ranges of flavour weather they are light or dark in color. So, never judge a whisky by it’s color!
    Glad I got that off my chest.

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