Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Advanced Whisky course week 7

Yesterday evening, the task set to the students was to present for 5 minutes to their peers on the subject of a whisky of their choice. Each whisky was tasted blind and the student's presentation was to give information about the whisky without naming it or supplying the clue which would make it obvious to everyone.
I set it off with Eddu Grey Rock from Brittany which no-one guessed and some found a bit hard and unyielding.
Gary Ledgerwood then showed a 24 yo (1986) Cambus which no-one got, but he displayed as a part of his presentation, a Google Earth picture of the location which showed Diageo's huge warehouse complex at Blackgrange and my home here.
Alan Hall showed a 19 yo Longmorn from Creative Whisky which about half of the class got from his words.
Mark Connelly showed Bain's Cape Mountain Whisky, a 5 yo grain from South Africa which, with a bit of prompting, one or two got to South Africa, but no-one correctly identified either the whisky of Sedgewick's distillery.
James Farrelly showed Ballantine's Finest which most got when they read about the geese on his presentation. Apparently he lived locally and worked there as a student.
Ian Petrie showed Aberlour a'Bunadh Batch 37 which, surprisingly, none of the students got. He bought the bottle at a disgustingly low promotional price at Waitrose.
Stefan Kah showed Glen Scotia 17 yo from Gordon & MacPhail which a few were able to identify - with some help.
Bob Arnott showed Ben Bracken from Lidl, which is apparently Tamnavulin. I found this disappointing as I have a soft spot for Tamnavulin and the whisky was giving acetone and lots of it.
Jeff McKenzie also had Ben Bracken! I suppose that it had to happen! If you look at the post about last week's class, you will see that there was no duplication, so once in 30 cases isn't bad.
Drew Nicolson showed Macallan Fine Oak 10 yo which most people correctly identified and a few were surprised by how well it showed, having tasted it blind.
Andy Davidson also threw everyone with Kavalan from Taiwan. Some of the class had never even heard of Kavalan. It is a relative newcomer.
Jim Schultz also threw everyone with Old Ballintruan. He had shown the same whisky blind to the Helensburgh Whisky Group on Saturday with similar results. Just over half of the class were either on Islay or close to it with the whisky's flavour. The clues Jim put in to his presentation guided one or two to Tomintoul, but the peat threw them off the scent. The sweetness, however, should have taken them to somewhere other than Islay.
Then I put on 4 whiskies blind.
Each bottle is numbered and, like last week, they were not in the correct tasting order. Towards the end of this the Advanced course, the students should be able to taste them in the correct order.
The order they were given was:
1 Bunnahabhain 18 yo
2 Auchentoshan Classic
3 Dewar's White Label
4 Dalmore Gran Reserva
The order, of course, should have been either 3,2,4,1 or maybe, 3,2,1,4. Having already tasted 13 whiskies, their palates were confused so they didn't correctly identify any of them, but one or two were close with the Dalmore. The Dewar's showed very well with no-one slotting it as a blend, its soft, toffee character raising it in the students' opinions to a Single Highland Malt. The Bunnahabhain threw everyone completely because of the Sherry cask element and as the phenolics have almost completely dissipated over the 18 years.
A good night and showing how well the students have developed over the course of the classes.
Taking both the Scotch Whisky Trail Certificate course (which they have to complete first) and the Advanced Whisky course, they have now completed 15 nights, probably 35 hours of quite intensive education. They all came into the courses as maltheads, but now appreciate the quality of The Blend and some grains and also the importance of these to the industry.
Within the class, there are 3 whisky bloggers, one of whom is a whisky retailer; one, previously retired is now doing some work for David Stirk's Creative Whisky Co. and another is doing some work for Angus Dundee.
What next?

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