There are as many expressions of whiskey as there are people that drink and enjoy it, let alone the myriad of ways that it can be drunk.
Being a bit of a purist, I like to drink my whiskey neat – or at best with a little dash of water to bring out the aromas and flavours – especially so with ABV above 46%.
My ability to detect smells and taste isn’t as refined as what it could be – but I’m learning! Therefore I can’t profess to be an expert or give an unbiased assessment of the whiskeys I drink as others do. My personal preferences will no doubt shine through so I’ll explain my whiskey rating table – and show some examples too.
Whiskey Nut Ratings
A+ – Astounding
A – Awesome
B+ – Above average
B – Average
C – Awful
A+ This Knappogue Castle 2000 Single Malt Marsala Cask is a fine example of a dream whiskey. Rich strong spicy aroma followed through on the taste, with a long finish. At 46% a dash of water opens up the flavours even more. A delight.
A Penderyn Red Flag. A lovely story. A lovely whisky. Another fine example of a single malt finished in madeira casks.
B+ Now the B category by default will contain the bulk of blended whiskeys, single malts of no stunning distinction and any other combination of basically a decent drop of the good stuff. B+, as with this hard to get hold of Michael Collins Blend, a now discontinued Cooley product, is a very fine blend with a slight spicy aroma and taste. This raises it above the bar to gain a + symbol. Worth tracking down!
B As tasted at the Irish Whiskey Museum in a previous blog. Irishman Founders Reserve is a fine smooth, well balanced blend. Nothing wrong with it, but doesn’t stand out from the crowd.
C Now this is where it gets a little rough. Despite Clan Campbell being a very popular whisky in the European market, it’s not sold in Scotland. Ever wondered why? I tried it on a visit to France along with a few other whiskies. The tasting panel of 2 rated this one least favorite. Now there were other similar blends on the panel. Label 5 actually scored a B, but then it’s main ingredient malt is from Glen Moray – which I like.
I have got a bit of a problem rating peated whiskey. I generally don’t like it. At the Irish Whiskey Awards 2014, Kilbeggan released a 22 year old single Connemara peated whiskey and a 21 year old Kilbeggan blend. I loved the 21 year old but the 22 was lost on me. Ardbeg’s Uigeadail came as a bit of a surprise when I sampled it at an airport recently therefore. Ardbeg is considered a heavily peated distillery, but despite having a heavy peaty aroma, the Uigeadail taste was pleasantly spicy and fruity. I may have just been converted!
If you find yourself enjoying the same expressions as me, and sharing my dislikes, we’ll get along just fine. Just remember my bias when I post a review!