Tonight, a couple of friends and I traveled 50 miles to a Glenmorangie and Ardbeg tasting. My neighbor’s wife was nice enough to drive us, although when we signed up, we thought the Sportsman’s Fine Wines and Spirits where it was held was located about 15 miles closer. I’m glad we didn’t realize that until today, as we probably wouldn’t have signed up, but it was totally worth it (easy for me to say, having hitched a ride). For $35, we got a cocktail, some snacks, a dram of the 7 whiskies listed below, a Reidel “O” glass, and special pricing on the whiskies in the tasting. I believe there were around 25-30 participants.
They started us out with a cocktail, which I believe they called the Smoky Peach. I can’t remember the specifics (I’ll have to email them and find out), but it contained Ardbeg 10 along with either peach bitters and cognac, or some other kind of bitters and “peach cognac” [is there such a thing?]. Anyway, it was much more tasty than I expected, and I’d like to try it on some non-whisky drinking friends sometime.
Update – I got the details:
- 2 parts Navan vanilla cognac
- 1 part Ardbeg 10
- a dash of peach bitters
- served on the rocks.
Next, we went through the following whiskies:
- Glenmorangie 10 year (40%) – Lightly sweet with orange blossoms. Perfectly nice, but doesn’t move me.
- Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban (46%) – This one surprised me. A little time in port casks really made a difference over the 10 year. Richer. The port really comes through on the nose. I got some enjoyable spiciness sticking on the tongue through the finish. I like it a lot…it’s on my list to buy.
- Glenmorangie Signet (46%) - This I enjoyed a lot. I don’t know if it was the power of suggestion or what, but I tasted the elements of dark chocolate the organizers described. Usually I don’t sense chocolate in whiskies where other people do. I would love to buy some of this…at half the going price. The packaging is really sexy, though.
- Glenmorangie Astar (57.1%) – This was a big hit tonight. Lame pun alert…as this starts showing up in more tastings, expect to hear about how it was the “star” of the show. Yuck…that hurt to write. Anyway, this was supposedly the first time this was made available in Arizona, and there was a mad rush at the end to grab the available 15 or so bottles. To me, it was just a more potent 10 year old (although, admittedly a VERY drinkable cask strength).
- Ardbeg 10 year (46%) - This is a great value relative to the other Ardbegs in this tasting, which cost over twice as much as the 10 here in Arizona. It’s hard to go wrong with this one, and I have an open bottle in my cabinet.
- Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist (46%;1990 vintage) – While the Quinta Ruban surprised me in a positive way, I was actually a little let down by Nam Beist. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very enjoyable drink. All Ardbeg, but a little mellower and more creamy than the 10. It does have a long, long finish though. I guess what disappointed me was that it wasn’t “beastly”…it was the tamest of the three. Of course, it IS the oldest, but that name gets you thinking it’s going to be all kinds of crazy. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this at $75-$85 a bottle (relative to the $55-$60 the 10 goes for), but Nam Beist is going for around $140 here in AZ. That disparity with the price of the 10 doesn’t work for me.
- Ardbeg Uigeadail (54.2%) - Mmmmmmm. That sherry influence really works with the peat, although the sherry isn’t nearly as strong as it is in the Lagavulin DE. What a nose on this one! I took advantage of the discount price and bought a bottle.
This was a great time and well run. The three of us that went together gave it a big thumbs up, and it was nice to meet Sean from the Whisky Magazine forums. Sean said the Sportsman’s Scottsdale location (much closer for me) is going to do a Signatory tasting sometime. I want to be there.