Thursday, September 27, 2012

Glenfiddich Scotch Tasting at The Happy Gnome

Is it beer?  Not really.  But to make Scotch, they make a beer, then distill the heck out of it counts!  I decided to try this on a whim, not being a huge fan of the Hard Stuff, but wanting to learn more about how to taste and enjoy spirits.  I have been getting more interested in oak aging my homebrewed beers and in commercial barrel aged beers over the last few years, so I'm coming into this a bit backwards.  Important things to know:  Glenfiddich is pronounced Glen-Fid-Ick, and means valley-of-deer.

The Gnome is known for beer and great food, but also has a huge selection of whiskeys and Scotches.  From time to time they do tastings or seminars and we were free this time!  They had some very tasty appetizers, and Sj and I had some food downstairs before the event.  Our friends Kevin and Carol were there too.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but this was a slick presentation with Bruckheimer production values.  They had a model in a short skirt and really-high-heeled red shoes adding eye-candy to the Scotch bottles, as well as big posters and swag.  We got Glenfiddich pens, glass droppers and a gift set of small tasting glasses to take home, along with a DVD about the distillery narrated by Mr. Big from Sex & The City.  There was a Scotsman (who currently lives in Texas) giving a talk and virtual distillery tour via a slick overhead.  This is one of the only Scottish family owned distilleries still in business.  The Spirits are aged in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks for a number of years, resulting in labeling as 12 year, 15 year, etc.

We tasted the 12 year first, aged in mostly bourbon and a few sherry casks.  Not bad, but a bit hot and burning.  Sj hated this one, and it was not anyone's favorite at the tasting.  Apparently this is one of the best selling Scotches in the world.  We also learned how to use our handy dropper to add a few drops of water to "open up" the Scotch, and I was suprised to find a significant difference in flavors.  That made the 12 year drinkable.  Later we had the 18 year, made from the same stuff but aged longer.  It certainly smoothed out, but was not my favorite despite its age.

The 15 year was very nice with a strong honey character and was a fan favorite.  We ended with a small dose of the 21 year which was quite nice in terms of smoothness and overall complexity, and has some small time on rum barrels.  None of these are the peaty smoky ones I love, but all very interesting.

As a bonus, the presenter had a single bottle of a very rare bottle of Malt Master reserve to let some of us die-hards try.  This was my favorite of the night.  What can I say, I have expensive tastes.  I will not need to spend hundreds of dollars on this though.

A very informative event and well worth the time and effort to get down there.  I'll sign up for any future sessions they do.

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