Monthly Archives: November 2014

Aberlour a’Bunadh Batch 42

Distillery: Aberlour
Name: a’Bunadh Batch 42
Region: Speyside
Age: ?
Chill-filtered: No
Strength: 60.3%
Batch No.: N/A
Bottle Size: 3cl
Price: No longer available
Nose: Sherry, baked fruits, spice, sweetness, marzipan
Taste: Oily, rich, sherry, black cherry, sweet, dry, spicy
Finish: Long, warm, spicy, dry, oaky
Rating: 8/10

So I have managed to get my hands on another, older, a’Bunadh from Aberlour, a Batch 42 this time. This will be the 3rd (excluding the early one as I don’t really remember that one) a’Bunadh I’ve tried, 42, 45 & 48.

Has a slightly stronger nose to it than the others, lighter however. There are less dark fruits in it, more like baked fruits with a bit more sweetness from the addition of marzipan that the others did not have.

The palate is also lighter than the others, still oily and rich, just not as much. It has a nice sweetness level and when the sherry notes turn to black cherry, what can I say but it a lovely dram. Hold it for a while and it begins to dry and the spice makes an appearance, not as much ABV burn as expected, the 48 has much more. Both the dryness and the spice remain on the long and warm finish, fantastic on a dark, cold winter evening.

I’ve enjoyed trying another a’Bunadh, I can really see why they have such a good reputation, all of which I have really enjoyed. All have differences but also have an underlying commonality. It’s hard to pick a winner but I’d say the 42 just about gets it due to the fact that it is the easiest to drink out of them yet still has all that flavour and richness present.

Thanks to Tom (@Tom_Blumsom) for the sample.

Whisky Tasting Glasses Comparison – Part 2

So as mentioned in my previous post, I did not come to a decision as to which glass I preferred, so I thought I would continue the comparison. I have decided to test the strongest of the previous options, the Large Glencairn and The NEAT Glass, with a couple of other drams to see how they compare.

Bruichladdich – The Laddie Ten (46%)

First up is everyone’s favourite, The Laddie Ten. I have chosen this for its more delicate qualities to see how each glass delivers them.

Nose

Glencairn:
From a distance: A strong delivery of the more delicate aromas
Nose in glass: A good strong delivery again, plenty of aromas present with no ethanol burn
NEAT:
From a distance: The aromas are there but very faint in comparison, more difficult to pick them out
Nose in glass: Much better, stronger aromas present now, no ethanol burn. Like last time however, it’s more on par with the Glencairn ‘from a distance’

Taste

Much closer than with the Old Pulteney. The Glencairn has a slight dryness to it that The NEAT Glass manages to remove, it also seems to reduce the ABV burn on the palate slightly, making it a smoother drink in The NEAT Glass. There is slightly less flavour present with The NEAT Glass however. Not a huge difference between them but noticeable.

Bowmore 15 Year Old Darkest (43%)

Next we have a sherry cask Bowmore. I thought this might be a good test to see how it delivers the smokiness of Bowmore. Also to see what they are like with a lower ABV.

Nose

Glencairn:
From a distance: Quite delicate but relatively faint
Nose in glass: Better, more powerful, quite smooth, slight smoke present
NEAT:
From a distance: Almost nothing there
Nose in glass: Lighter, very slight smokiness, smooth still though

Taste

Again they are very similar but The NEAT Glass takes a little bit of dryness away, reduces the ABV burn and makes for a smoother drink. It does not deliver quite as much flavour as the Glencairn however.

Conclusion

Well after trying 3 very different whiskies in these glasses I suppose I should come to a decision as to which I prefer. As mentioned in the previous post, they both did well in the look and feel department, but what about the other qualities?

When it comes to the nose the Glencairn still wins easily, The NEAT Glass delivers too faint a nose for me. I know everyone has a different sense of smell but I am told that mine is relatively good for picking out subtleties. Taste wise it’s hard to say, the Glencarin delivers more flavour yet The NEAT Glass delivers a smoother taste.

I would have to say that overall, as a festival tasting glass, which is what I’m after, the Glencairn glass wins mainly due to it’s superior delivery of aromas but also thanks to the more powerful palate sensations that you would want when judging a whisky on a small sample.

I would be very happy to sit down with a dram of a familiar whisky served in The NEAT Glass however, thanks to the extra smoothness that it offers. The extra smoothness only appears once aerated a while though, which is why I prefer the Glencarin as the reduced flavour is apparent much earlier. Samples do not usually last too long at festivals so the smoothness may not be appreciated.

I would suggest trying The NEAT Glass to be honest, it opened my eyes to the difference that a glass can make to the whole drinking experience, but also how different a whisky can be from glass to glass, with this one making quite a difference.

I would be interested in any feedback on these postings actually. If anyone fancies getting in touch, please find me on Twitter – @MyWhiskyGuide.

Thanks all folks!

Whisky Tasting Glasses Comparison

Something totally different from me this time, instead of comparing whiskies, I will be sticking to a single whisky and instead comparing the drinking vessel.

It is not something that has really crossed my mind to compare before, a tasting glass is pretty much always the same style, that of the Glencairn glass, as I know it. There are obviously many different styles of tumbler to choose from but for tasting glasses I am not aware of many.

There is a good reason this thought has popped into my head, I am organising Stoke-on-Trent Whisky Festival and as part of the preparations I started to have a quick look around at glass options. A new one sprung to mind that I had recently seen on Twitter, The NEAT Glass, so I decided to approach them. They were kind enough to send me a sample to evaluate it and see if it is appropriate for the festival.

I have 5 different styles of glass in at present so I thought I would do a side-by-side comparison of them. I should point out at this point that I am a bit of a glass geek, if only in my love of them rather than knowledge of them. Below are the glasses in question:

Whisky Glasses

OldPulteney1993But what whisky to have with the comparison? Well I chose my 1993 Old Pulteney Cask Strength by Gordon & MacPhail.

Why this particular dram I hear you ask, there must be a reason. Why yes there is ladies and gentlemen; this has to have one of the most complex and continuously developing noses and any whisky in my collection, and pretty high up on all of the drams I’ve tried actually. It is also cask strength, a whopping 59.9% in fact, so this should help to determine if any of the glasses handle the ethanol displacement better than the others.

Small Glencairn

I do not know if Glencairn actually made this but it is the common style, just a little smaller.

Look
I’ve always quite liked the look f this glass, it has the lovely lines that is usually associated with a whisky tasting glass, just miniaturised, it’s a lovely little thing.

Feel
It is light and you can easily get you whole hand around it. This means that it is easy to warm the contents up a little with your hands if need be. Due to it’s size however, it does not sit in your hand, rather you have to hold it.

Nose
From a distance: Channels the aromas very nicely, good strength in the aromas coming through.
Nose in glass: Really draws in the aromas, delivering a rich powerful nose. You do get a little ethanol burn however.

Drinking
The mouth of the glass feels a little small to be honest, it’s a little cramped. It’s small mouth does however mean that it will slide completely below the nose when drinking, making it comfortable to drink from. A small amount of neck movement required to access the dram.

Large Glencairn

This is the traditional tasting glass as I understand it at least, it is the one that I see at most festivals and also for sale in shops/online.

Look
It’s a nice looking glass, nice flowing lines, well recognised with good room for branding around it.

Feel
It has a little bit of weight to it so feels sturdy. You can wrap both hands around this one ok to help warm the whisky if required. It feels nice in the hand, sits better than the smaller one.

Nose
From a distance: Like the last one it channels the aromas beautifully, allowing you to really pick out the more delicate aromas that are present.
Nose in glass: Wide enough mouth to allow you to really get your nose in and take in the more powerful aromas. No ethanol burn with this one.

Drinking
Much better size mouth to this, does not feel cramped, but your nose actually gets in the way more than with the smaller glass. You do have to tilt your head quite far back to get to the whisky (for festival sample servings). It appears to have aerated differently also as there is more of an oaky dryness that comes to it with time.

Rastel Stemmed Whisky Glass

It is branded as Rastel but unfortunately their website appears to be down so I am unable to find out any details.

Look
I got this at TWE Whisky Show 2014 and instantly took a liking to it. It has a similar shape to that of the traditional glass, but with a 3″ stem. You do get the base of the stem that can be used for branding also.

Feel
It is very light, lighter than the first glass reviewed here. It does make it feel a little flimsy to be honest, fine at home, but at a festival where breakages are much easier, it felt a little fragile. I’m unsure on the stem also, more the necessity of it really. On a wine glass it is generally so you can hold the base and not touch the glass itself, therefore not to warm white wines, I’m not sure it is needed for whisky. I do prefer mine at room temperature though, I know not everyone does.

Nose
From a distance: Delivers a slightly more delicate nose to it this glass compared to the others. Not a huge difference but noticeable.
Nose in glass: Again, more delicate, less powerful than with the other glasses. Like the first glass however, there is a touch of ethanol burn there.

Drinking
Not a badly sized mouth, in between the previous two I feel. With regard to neck movement, it again slots in between the previous two as to the amount of movement required. This one aerates much like the small glass.

Wine Tasting Glass

It’s another style of tasting glass, so I thought, why not?

Look
Fairly plain looking but does have the channelling shape to focus the aromas.

Feel
Medium weight, heavier than the Rastel but still lighter than the small Glencairn. Sits nicely in you hand if you wrap you hand around the bowl of the glass and it is light enough that you can still comfortably hold the base if required.

Nose
From a distance: Draws in the aromas very nicely actually, allowing you to pick out the delicate notes but delivering a more pronounced aroma than the others.
Nose in glass: Delivers the more powerful aromas as with the Glencairn but does have a little ethanol burn to it.

Drinking
Good sized mouth on it allowing comfortable drinking. Neck movement and aeration are both very similar to the large Glencairn glass.

The NEAT Glass

Onto the glass that actually got me onto this comparison in the first place. It is quite a new glass I believe and from reading the website, there appears to be some science behind the design also.

Look
It is very different to any other glass I have drank from to be honest, but grabbed my interest when I first saw it. It is kind of like a small, slightly squashed tapered jar, with a flared top. I might have undersold the effort The NEAT Glass put into there, but I hope you get my point. It has a large base which is good for branding but also has space for branding around the glass, as long as the branding is not too tall.

Feel
Again, very different feel to it. It has a good weight to it, nice large flat base so feels sturdy when placed down. It sits in you hand quite nicely too when held at the base, but also feels nice to hold at the rim, again sturdy, the flared rim does not feel fragile to hold.

Nose
From a distance: Really delicate, too much so, almost feels a little lost.
Nose in glass: Again, really delicate, does not deliver the intensity of the nose like the others. More on par with the Glencairn nose ‘from a distance’ rather than ‘in glass’. There is no ethanol burn present however.

Drinking
Very comfortable to drink from. Although a lot of the glass actually enters the mouth (the flared rim), which is unusual at first, it is very nice to drink from. Minimal neck angle is needed for drinking at first, a little more so towards the end due to the shape of the glass. The aeration is different to all others, it has left it much softer than the others, with much less of an oaky dryness.

Conclusion

Firstly, as I have just read through this post I would like to apologise, for being far big a glass geek than I expected. I really did start out with the idea of doing a simple comparison, guess I got carried away.

Lets be fair, all of the whisky tasting glasses look great, the wine one a little dull. There is a considerable difference in feel to them, for me The NEAT Glass actually wins this one ever so slightly over the Large Glencairn, simply because you hold it less, it sits in the hand the nicest.

Now onto the two most important factors, nose and drinking sensation. Nose wise the Large Glencairn won hands down for me. It delivers delicate nose from a distance, admittedly not the most delicate, that went to the the Rastel. It also handles ABV better than most of the others, The NEAT Glass also did very well in this aspect. The final thing was the in glass nosing; it delivered the power and richness that the Old Pulteney has without any of the ethanol burn that some of the others did in this situation.

When it comes to the drinking sensation I would say it is very close between the Small Glencairn and The NEAT Glass. I would same The NEAT Glass is the most comfortable with its flared rim delivering the whisky very nicely along with the the very delicate way that it preserved the whisky, completely different to the rest. The Small Glencairn however is also comfortable and delivers a more familiar way of drinking in regards to not having so much glass in your mouth whilst drinking. It also preserved more of the stronger flavours of the whisky than The NEAT Glass.

It is difficult to select a winner to be honest, The NEAT Glass does very well, however I was very disappointed with the nose delivery of it. The Large Glencairn is very nice, plus familiar to a lot of people. I’m afraid I have no answer right now, I will have to sample a few other drams, see how they hold up and report back.

On a side note though, the 1993 Old Pulteney is just amazing, I absolutely adore it, and I can’t say I’m complaining about being ‘forced’ into having five samples of it tonight 🙂

Part 2 available here