Thursday, October 13, 2016

Neat video about how scotch is made

Check out this video from the BBC, which shows the grain-to-glass journey of scotch: Click For Video.

There are a few generalizations (like that malting is done in a germinating and kilning vessel - this is typically the case, but some distilleries still do some floor malting), but all in all, it's a great overview.

Friday, August 19, 2016

MIT Old and Rare Scotch Tasting

We finally made it happen!

I'd been really wanting to do another old and rare tasting with our friends from Gordon & MacPhail, an outstanding independent scotch bottler with whom I'd done a few tastings before. Through a lot of planning with Nick Taylor from Gordon's Liquors as well as Joe Swanson from G&M, we made it happen at Gordon's on August 17th, 2016.

Here's the lineup of what we tasted, along with 33 MIT alumni and guests:

  • Benromach 10 Year
  • Benromach 15 Year
  • Speymalt Macallan 1998 17 Year
  • Linkwood 21 Year
  • Bladnoch 21 Year
  • Highland Park 24 Year
  • Glen Grant 1954 58 Year
That's 166 years of whisky maturation in one evening!

I was super excited to have a 58-year-old whisky, as that's the oldest whisky I've ever tried. It was fantastic, and still had a youthfulness that I hadn't seen in other old whiskies. It was a nice surprise.

We asked folks what their favorite whisky of the evening was, and the room was pretty evenly split across the last five whiskies. I personally really enjoyed the Linkwood; it's a distillery I've only ever had one other bottling from (that was by Signatory) and this one seemed really creamy and full-bodied to me, but the flavor was still fruity and fresh enough to work really well with the warm weather we've been having.

The highlight of the night for me, though, is always the people. Joe and Nick did a great job leading the tasting, and my favorite part was getting to meet my fellow MIT alumni and talk about whisky and life. Very much looking forward to seeing familiar faces - and meeting new ones - at future events!

MIT Madeira Tasting Recap

This is a follow-up to my previous post about the MIT Club of Boston Madeira tasting, held 6/16/16 at Gordon's Liquors in Waltham, MA.

The reason it took me so long to actually post something about it is that I'M STILL REELING FROM THE AWESOMENESS.

If I wasn't a total lover of Madeira before that event, I was after it. All the bottlings were excellent, with my favorite value Madeira being the Rare Wine Company Savannah Verdelho, and my favorite vintage Madeira guessed it, the 1875 D'Oliveira Malvasia. That wine was absolutely stunning. It almost brought me to tears. It broke me down into my constituent atoms, and then reconstructed me a better person.

To try to reduce the tasting notes to words feels almost shameful, but it really made me feel like I was deep in a cellar or some old earthen catacomb, sipping the last of something that is all too rare.

I'm hoping to do another old Madeira tasting but these things take a while to put together, due to the fairly complex supply chain. Stay tuned if you're interested...

On a personal note, I got to meet a lot of great folks at the event whom I would not have met at one of my scotch tastings. Looking forward to getting to know them - and Madeira - even better!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

MIT Madeira Tasting

I'm happy to finally say we're expanding our repertoire!

We're hosting an MIT alumni tasting of Madeira wine this Thursday, 6/16/16, at Gordon's Fine Wines and Liquors in Waltham, MA. I became interested in fortified wines (of which Madeira is a type) due to my interest in whisky, since a lot of whiskies are matured in casks that previously held fortified wines. Of all the types of fortified wines (sherry, port, Madeira, marsala, and vermouth are the notable ones), Madeira struck me because it has a lot of the rich, oxidative flavors found in some of my favorite whiskies...

...and it can be really freaking old! The oldest whisky I ever had was 50 years old (that's 50 years in cask, and just a few in a bottle), so it was distilled in the late 1950s or so. It turns out there are Madeiras that are much older than that, and we're tasting one at this event.

Here's the lineup:
  • Rare Wine Company Charleston Sercial
  • D'Oliveira 1937 Sercial
  • Rare Wine Company Savannah Verdelho
  • D'Oliveira 1973 Verdelho
  • Rare Wine Company Boston Bual
  • D'Oliveira 1977 Bual
  • Rare Wine Company New York Malmsey
  • D'Oliveira 1875 Malvasia

You read that correctly - one wine from 1937 and another from 1875. That's only ten years after the end of the U.S. Civil War! I've never tasted anything this old. I had a chance to nose both the 1937 and the 1875 recently and they smelled absolutely sublime.

Very much looking forward to sharing these historic wines with our fellow MIT brethren.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Tastings are back!

I finally got the right things lined up to start hosting whisky tastings again!

Currently, I'm hosting a series for MIT alumni in which we bring 10 folks to Gordon's Liquors at Downtown Crossing in Boston for a seated tasting of single malt scotch. Here's the lineup:
  • Balblair 2003
  • Balblair 1999
  • GlenDronach 15
  • Highland Park 15
  • Gordon & MacPhail Highland Park 1999 Cask
  • Port Charlotte Islay Barley a few other treats :)

This is a great lineup to showcase single malt scotch. It starts with the 100% ex-bourbon Balblair 2003, then introduces a bit of sherry with the 1999, a 15-year. Then we hold the age constant and go full-sherry with the GlenDronach. We then hold the age and the sherry constant and introduce some smoke with the HP 15, and then hold the age and the distillery the same but bump up the oompf with the cask-strength G&M bottling. Finally we round it off with a relatively young malt from Islay that has completely changed my view on the effects of terroir in single malt. (Compare the PC Islay Barley to the PC Scottish Barley and the difference is striking).

It's been great fun getting to know folks, and I'm looking forward to expanding my events repertoire to some corporate tastings and other private functions I have lined up!

The early arrivals at one of the MIT alumni tastings.

With some whisky friends (L to R): Sean (MIT alum), Bill Lumsden from Glenmorangie, David Blackmore from Glenmorangie, and Nick Taylor from Gordon's.