Young and Old

Posted by: on May 21, 2010 | No Comments

So last Friday I preached the good word of the Ardbeg Ten, and said that I would have a bottle of eight year old Glenrothes waiting for me at home. Well when I arrived, it turned out to be a bottle of eight year old Highland Park from the same bottling series. While I don’t think I could ever be upset at finding a bottle of Highland Park in my cabinet, this also ended up giving me a fantastic learning opportunity.
Less than a week ago, I felicitously had the chance to taste their eighteen year expression, and have had the twelve year in the not so distant past, making this eight year a great experiment. Their whiskies are characteristically sweet, complex, and finish with a light lingering smoke that makes them a truly unique style of spirit, and this came through extremely clearly in the eight year expression.

While in something like the eighteen, you get a lot of sherry cask involvement, the eight year old has the same sorts of basic flavors, but more fresh and immediately discernible. While I have tasted quite a few of the Ardbeg expressions, and have had one or two expressions from a significant number of other distilleries, this is the only distillery for which I have recently had three expressions with significant but manageable age difference, and good notes to refer to.

I highly recommend if you are interested in single malts to go to a bar with a good selection of whiskies, and in ascending order of age, order three different expressions from a single distillery. Try to find expressions with similar or the same wood types and look for the ways in which you can really see the whisky growing. This is a really exciting way to train yourself and to uncover what is really going on in the whiskies. Keep notes, and please report back if you enjoy yourself!

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