The Whisky Tasting Club

Whisky World Cup Round 4

So to recap, we are in Micawbers Tavern, in the heart of medieval Norwich (and handily 100 yards from our house) and have just finished round three of the whisky world cup. After a brief interval to cleanse our palates (Nelson’s Revenge is good for that) we dived in to group 4. Many would think tasting 10 whiskies in one go is excessive, and my notes for this group are noticably less extensive.  

And another thing ...

However, 10 whiskies does make for a fun evening and it gives Dom a platform for promoting his communist agenda and for Pat to recruit for the black shirts (I’m joking guys! both of their extremist politics have been tempered with age). It actually ended up in a loud discussion of the relative merits of each other’s jukebox selections and critique of my business plan for WTC (thanks Derek and Susie, I wish I’d taken some notes).  

So group 4 turned out to be the best of the four groups with some great whiskies. It was also the round that most confused us when trying to guess the origin of the whiskies (this might have had something to do with the back to back tastings).   

Dutch: Millstone 8 year old French Oak.  

So this was the joker in the pack. Dutch whisky? Come on, I bet it’s another schnapps-like affair. Only its not, its actually really very good. “the Ji-Sung Park of whisky” says Pat. Not quite sure what he means, but it sounded good at the time. “Christmas in a glass” thought Derek. Susie’s notes: “Nose rich & sweet, hint of apples. Taste – Chistmas spices, warm, gentle savoury foundations. Hits of woodsmoke, bitter orange and salt.” Michelle says “Coastal, warm, round, spicy. Easy drinking” Or at least I think she does, her writing is getting very hard to read. Tony notes down that its very nice but fairly plain, and he loves everyone in the group. Generally we couldn’t guess where this came from.  

Its not cheap though, you can get it for £58.49. Blimey, that’s a lot for an eight year old Dutch whisky! I would have bought some at £30, but not at that price. 

Dutch Score: 8.83.   


Scottish Vatted: Monkey Shoulder 
Susie’s comments: “Nose: faint, light, bit of citrus (lime curd?). Taste:  light and fruity, quick burst of spice, then vanishes leaving slightly bitter aftertaste.” Michelle thinks “barley, fruity shy, teasing nose, initially soft, then toughening with shades of wood. Astringent hot finish “. Sounds like a weather forcast! Tony says: “its quite bitter, I’d have another”. Insightful as ever. Has anyone else noticed the women in the group write much better tasting notes?   

Retails at £22.95. Pretty good good value. 

Scottish vatted score:  7.75 

A good showing, but will it be enough? 

 Spain: DYC (Destilerías y Crianza del Whisky) Pure Make  

(cue lots of purile jokes about Pat wanting some more DYC) . I initially think this is the English Chapter 9, but then announce that it tastes completely different to the last time I tried it … err …maybe because it is? Getting a bit tired and emotional at this point, so I’ll hand over to Susie again “Nose: very warm and soft, barley, sunny dry lawn, hint of orange. Taste starts a little thin, dry tannins from wood but little of its flavour. Slightly lemony but mainly nondescript.” She at least sounds like she knows what she is talking about! “Barley nose, medium length, young barley taste” says Michelle. I can’t find this for sale in the UK. Any info appreciated.

 Spain score: 7.08. Not enough to qualify, but a good showing. 

Japanese Blend: Old and Rare Nikka Pure 

Not sure this is the right whisky!

We all immediately took to this, lots of appreciative noises. I can’t actually find this one listed anywhere online.  It might be the one in the picture, if so, I’m getting a bottle, its only £25 or so. Susie: “Nose: strong and gingery. Taste: very good match to nose – ginger, spicy wood, vanilla, hint of butterscotch, plenty of depth and richness” Michelle: “A good nose, cooked sugar, sea/coastal. Astringent. Taste: warm, round and spicy.”

Japanese Blend Scores: 9.23. Japanese blends are through!


  England: English Whisky Company Chapter 9 

WTC have already reviewed this, see this blog , but half the people at the tasting hadn’t tried it before. So first off I have to say England were very unlucky to be drawn last and particularly after the Japanese. It also should be pointed out that we were by this point confused about which whiskies were which. To give you an idea, I won a fiver from Pat for correctly identifying the Nikka as the Japanese. Now, you may think this makes us rubbish tasters, and you might be right, but blind tasting is harder than you think. So most people scored this whisky quite low (although I ranked it second myself).  “New suede on the nose, spicy wood taste” says Michelle. Susie says “Nose has a hint of oaty gingery biscuits, with a touch of squash courts.  Interesting but…. Quite woody, a bit brash and ununified”
Chapter 9 retails at £39.99. Not cheap, but definitely worth trying.

England Score: 7.23. England are out, but can be considered unlucky.

So Japanese Blend and the Dutch through, Scottish Vatted, England and Spain all out.

The finalists are:
Japanese single malt, Bourbon, Scottish Single Malt, Sweden,
American other, American Rye, Irish Standard, Japanese Blend and the Netherlands

Tasting notes? I'm not giving you any bloody tasting notes!

Finals on July 7th, can my liver cope with it? The Scottish are down, but not out and still favorites to win. Japanese have two chances, as do the Americans. Sweden and Holland flying the flag for Europe, but are rank outsiders. Hot news is that the Dutch have a major selection headache ahead of the finals. Do they stick with the game plan which saw them emerge triumphant from the group stage but which they acknowledge might not be enough to outwit whisky’s big guns in the latter stages; or do they deploy their rye option, giving them a potential advantage? It’s a risky strategy because they could be out-muscled by the big flavours of Scottish single malt, the Japanese whiskies, bourbon and especially American rye.

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