Some occasions are more momentous than others. It’s not saying that the ‘others’ are bad, it’s just that sometimes several things converge. The stars align. The beer tastes good, the company are all on form and everyone is focused on enjoying themselves. Well, this was one such night.
Add to this mix, add Richard “The Nose” Paterson. (one ‘t’, not two). Who’s he? Well if you like whisky, why don’t you know? He’s only Whyte and Mackay’s Master Blender. He only recreated Shackleton’s whisky. He’s only got an encyclopedic knowledge of whisky – and experience to boot. That’s who.
From the start, we knew this was no ordinary whisky tasting session. Richard plays the audience well – recalling details and facts set in stories from history with vigour and at pace that in no time he had us all in the palm of his hands. Whisky went over his shoulder, bundles of money up in the air and we were left with no confusion as to his thoughts on adding ice to whisky, or, heaven forbid, knocking a dram down in one go.
In the history side, Richard discussed the black death, monks and medicinal distilling, taxes, vineyards and more taxes. For anyone with kids who watch “Horrible Histories”, he was like Bob Hale the news forecaster…
Not only was this interesting, but hugely entertaining too. At some point, I remembered we were here to try whisky which was waiting patiently in front of us.
Richard introduced us to his way of tasting whisky – and considering his pedigree here, we listened. It’s interesting how different people describe their methods, and in Richard’s instance, it was compared to the experience of first meeting a woman: gentle introductions, soft touches and careful consideration..
Whyte & Mackay 13 yo
A creamy mix of fudge and vanilla. Nicely rounded.
Jura 16 yo
90% American white oak, 10% dherry.
Vanilla and a hint of pine.
So called because of the superstition of cutting peat in April – it brings bad luck. (May and JUne are best as the oils are rising in the peat).
At 43% abv this is an easy dram. Felt much more oily in the mouth with a touch of peat smoke.
46% abv, so immediately more powerful. This relates to a prophecy from August 1938 (not the room to go into details here. Just think – a one eyed man, a horse and a cart). Nevertheless, much more spoke and oil as well as spices and pepper.
Dalmore 12 yo
Much more different here. 50% american white oak and 50% Matusalem sherry. (An old Gonzalez Byass sherry).
This has flavours of chocolate ornage, marzipan, ginger and honey.
Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve
70% Oloroso, 20% American white oak, 10% Cabernet sauvignon. Did i hear that right?
44% abv and a hit of spice. Then in the finish, yes, cigar. Accompanied best with something like a Partagas cigar..
Mackinlays Rare Old Highland Malt (aka; Shackleton’s Whisky)
This is the whisky recreated from the whisky shipped to Antarctica for the ill-fated expedition of 1907. (The Nose made this blend of course).
The story is astounding and overshadows the actual whisky somewhat – but it’s a testament to the power of The Nose’s nose. Analysing and Identifying component parts and then recreating something, which when analysed by computer, was a near carbon copy to the original. Amazing.
Thanks to Tom Knapp for the pictures.