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A little over a month ago I was contacted by the owner of Abbey Whisky who asked me if I'd like to try a couple new whiskies that he'd just bottled and better yet would I like to try them in a tweet tasting.
I'd heard of tweet tastings before, tastings where whisky geeks from all over the world get together at one agreed upon time and try whiskies live on twitter, comparing notes on the spot with what do you think, what distillery, what age, everything.
To say that I was surprised and honored would be a massive understatement. I would be thrilled to take part in such a tasting. However when I was informed of what time the tasting would be my heart sank just a little. Around 3am local Aussie time. In the middle of the week.
Oh well who the hell needs sleep!?
About a week before the twitter tasting the whisky samples arrived, which partially surprised me considering the Aussie Postal Service. Inside the box were 4 different whisky samples. Abbey Whisky's Rare Casks 1: Caperdonich 17 yr old (a favorite!)Abbey Whisky's Rare Casks 2: Bunnahabhain 23 yr old, Abbey Whisky's Rare Casks 3: Ben Nevis 16 yr old (a new one!) and a mystery dram!
Excellent! A whisky that I love, a whisky that I enjoy and 2 new whiskies! I've got to be honest I am a huge fan of Abbey Whisky's bottlings, having owned quite a few and sampled even more, I knew I was in for a treat.
Eventually the night of the tasting came along, wound up being a perfect day as everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, but I had Abbey's tasting to look forward in the wee hours of the morning.
I crashed at 9pm, having set an alarm for 2:30am, time enough for me to shower and wake up in time for the tasting....and ding! It's 145am and I'm awake. Oh well as with so many things, it's easy come, easy go with sleep. I hop into the shower to wake up and am at my desk in time for the tasting. I log into Twitter, excited even though I'm tired.
Wow, there are some very well known people in this tasting, brand ambassadors, famous whisky writers, I've heard of everyone of them. And I;m involved in this?! Holy cow I'm going to learn heaps!
We start with the Caperdonich 17 yr old which is a personal favorite, however while enjoyed by all of the other tasters, you can tell it's not a favorite for many of them. We then move onto the Bunnahabhain 23 yr old which is an instant favorite for most of the other tasters, but is just enjoyable for me.
It's awesome to say the least being in this tasting, watching and typing in tasting notes live, sometimes seeing someone throw out an observation and other people pick it up. Even cooler is that I seem to be keeping up ok. I normally will take an hour or 90 minutes to review a whisky from start to finish. Here our time schedule is about 30 minutes per whisky. You can take longer if you want, but generally speaking everyone has moved on to the next whisky after 35 or so minutes.
We then move onto the Ben Nevis 16 yr old. it's obviously a sherry cask aged whisky by the deep dark color. It's a distillery that I've never tried before, but drove near it while my wife and I were in Scotland. It's named after the biggest mountain in Scotland, and I'm so excited to experience a brand new distillery.
I pour half of my sample bottle into a fresh glencairn as how been my routine for this tasting, fighting the yawns and the grins. I refresh my palate and start nosing the glass.
Definitely big sherry notes here, there's a faint burnt match/rubbery aroma from some sulfur, but it isn't unpleasant at all, in fact it's growing on me. Spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, some chocolate, subtle smoke, tobacco, in fact cigar tobacco. It's a bold nose and at one point I request that a bottle be set aside for me off the nose alone. I'm loving it!
After about 10 to 15 minutes nosing the whisky it's time to taste, some of the tasters are adding a drop or two of water after having tried the whisky neat, but I'm not, as is usual for me and my cask strength whiskies!
The Ben Nevis is clinging to the glass, quite oily, and when I take a sip it blows me away. This is a whisky that drinks above it's weight. It's big and bold! Huge spices, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, nutty and chocolate, dark fruits, sultanas and raisins, leathery, delicious!
The finish is massive, long, huge in fact, again punching above it's weight with the sherry and chocolate just lingering.
This is an awesome whisky, huge and breathtaking, and bloody affordable at around $100ish AUS. However if you're picking up a bottle you'll need to move quick as there's only 96 bottles in this outturn and at least one is coming home with me!