Photo: Frenemies
It's Not Just The FAA

A Different Tasting

Recently, I had the chance to attend a Whisky tasting hosted by the new Savi Provisions in Atlanta.  Savi Provisions is the latest venture from the owners of Savi Urban Markets, and the new venue is off to a great start with a very nice tasting room and a well-stocked wine and spirit store, which will soon be joined by a gourmet market.

The Scotch tasting was developed by the Metro Atlanta Scotch Club, the same group behind the recent Willett Tasting.  Our presenter was Averon Edwards of Gordon & MacPhail, an independent family owned firm that has been bottling single-malt whisky for more than 116 years.  Not only do they do independent bottling of a variety of single malts, they are also the owners of the Benromach distillery.  If you truly like good Scotch, I would urge you to learn more about the practice of brokerages and independent bottling.

Our evening started with an old-fashioned drink from the 1920s, blood & sand.  This mixes Scotch with blood orange juice, sweet vermouth, and cherry Heering to create a nice palate cleanser.  In our case, the Scotch was Benromach Traditional, and the result was a nice drink in which one could clearly taste the whisky but also enjoy the sweetness of the other ingredients.  It made an excellent palate cleanser for the start.

We then moved into a blind tasting, where we had three samples to try. 

The sample on the left had a very light nose, with hints of fruit and smoke.  I found it to be a lighter-bodied whisky with tastes of fruit and smoke, with sweetness on the sides with a moderate finish. 

The middle sample had a light nose (though stronger than the first) with lime, lemon, and flowers coming out.  The medium body was quite pleasant with good flavors of carmel, wood, vanillia and more leading to a sweet long finish.  A drop of water brought out citrus and floral tastes without diminishing the body significantly. 

The final blind tasting also had a light nose of smoke and malt.  The nice light body held flavorist of fruit, honey going to spice with a solid finish. 

As it turned out, my favorite of the three was the middle sample, which was Tamdhu 8-year (Speyside).  The tasting left me really wanting to explore the products of this distillery.  The first (left) sample was an 8-year Highland Park (Orkney), while the third sample was an 8-year Bunnahabhain (Islay). 

We then went into non-blind tastings and enjoyed:

Benromach "Traditional" Single Malt, which reminded me very much of a good traditional Islay with seaweed, smoke, and iodine clear at the start with the nose, but also hints of honey, herbs, and citrus.  It has what I consider a mild and medium body, with vanilla and fruit coming out with the addition of a drop of water.  A nice clean finish. 

Benromach 10-year started with a nice nose of smoke, seaweed, and honey.  The body was medium, with tastes of sweet sherry leading to fruit and more.  A drop of water really made it pop, with sweet notes and fruit coming out. 

Mortlach 15-year started with  a nice complex nose of malt, fruit, and citrus.  The body is on the strong side of medium, and strong flavors of orange and fruit lead to a smokey-sweet finish in which you can really taste sherry.  A drop of water brightened the mix, and changed the finish to pepper.  Delightfully complex. 

Speymalt/Macallan 21-year started with a nice, if slightly light, nose of apple, fruit, citrus, sweet vanilla and carmel.  The medium-light body was sweet with fruit and herbs, with the good finish fading to a sugary smoke flavor.  A drop of water brought out more floral flavors. 

Benromach Peat Smoke with a nose that is aggressively of peat smoke, with hints of honey and floral below.  The medium body is solid, with flavors of malt, flowers, and honey coming out.  A drop of water brought out spice and fruit, while cutting back a small amount on the smoke.  Rather than the medicinal iodine taste of an Islay, this is a more earthy flavor lacking that component. 

Of these, my favorites ere the Peat Smoke and the Mortlach, with the Benromach 10-year barely edging out the Speymalt for third. 

I should also point out that our tasting was greatly aided by the snacks provided by Savi Provisions.  They added their own notes of flavor to the evening and helped keep the palate clear so that we got the most from our samples.  The aged cheddar was amazing, as was the bleu (gorgonzola?) and a Red Leicester was quite tasty as well. 

Yes, it is a rough life, but someone has to do it…