Hosting a small family wedding in the back garden is a refreshing pause from life’s hectic, non-stop pace. With my passion for whisky, a tasting naturally found its way into the weekend festivities. The bride and groom gave input to the four whiskies to be tasted. To make the tasting extra special in honor of the occasion, I wanted to select an unopened bottle. An unopened bottle would also be cracked for a toast during the wedding celebration. And, being at my home, neither I nor any of the tasters had to worry about driving. In all, we were exuberant but not over indulgent. (The conga line is another story!)
The four whiskies were each selected for a specific reason:
Kavalan: The Symphony Expression was chosen because it is an excellent whisky and is an Asian whisky of which most had not heard of before the tasting. And, the bride is Asian…a whisky that gives a nod to Eastern cultures.
Triple Eight Distillery, Nantucket, MA: Scott’s Notch 12 YO, a private edition, was chosen because a cask was purchased as a wedding present a friend presented to her new husband in 2001. An oh so sweet moment.
Balcones: Brimstone edition was chosen because the bride loves it. Easy enough.
Ellenstown, Islay: The 12 YO expression was chosen for its cask strength and peatiness that could counter balance the unusual flavor of the Brimstone. The bride and groom lean towards peaty whiskies.
Eight of us tasters began the evening with Scott’s Notch. Buying a newly filled cask as a wedding present is a great story. We toasted to our bride and groom. Scott’s Notch is rich in color, pungent caramel and vanilla on the nose, and with a hint of salt on the palate along with a touch of bourbon sweetness. Unfortunately, it was bottled by Triple Eight without the alcohol content on the personalized label. Triple Eight Distillery 12 YO single malt is a gold medal winner. The Notch stands up to its counterpart.
The tasting and toasting moved on to the Kavalan. In a previous blog I wrote about its silky vanilla nose, a touch of brininess and fruit finish. A “woody taste” thought a few of the tasters. The cask strength at 58.6% is not overwhelming. I don’t add water, but others might.
The Brimstone, always an outlier, stunned the tasters, all while the bride was brimming with pleasure from this Texas blue corn expression. I wrote about it some time ago as the “whisky that changed my life.” Nothing tastes like it – love it or hate it – there is no in between with this heavy hitter at 53% alcohol.
The formal tasting ended with the little known Ellenstown 12 YO, another cask strength at 52%. After the Brimstone it came across as soft and smooth with the Islay peat mellowing out the palate. It became the favorite of the evening.
What I find fascinating about tasting a variety of whisky flavors is how each impacts the other. Even when tasted slowly over the course of an evening, what is harsh becomes smoother, flavors undetected become apparent, and new favorites emerge. I just love it!
I encourage you to try three or four very different whiskies to get a sense of how whiskies interact with each other.
On to the wedding…while the cake was being served, I opened a bottle of Ardbeg’s Dark Cove. Peat and smoke was the preference at the tasting and of the bride and groom. Dark Cove has the expected Islay peat but doesn’t knock you over.
A garden wedding, a whisky tasting, family savoring the day given over to love and away from the often harsh world….a precious memory to hold.
I raise a glass to the special moments in life!