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Blind tastings - yay or nay?

Updated: Aug 3

TL;DR Blind tastings are great and they're a good way to learn more about your whisky preferences without preconceived opinions.

It was once again time to setup my small whisky corner to my place and gather to enjoy some whiskies. And as so many times before during covid-19, we met virtually. This time it was for the traditional blind tasting arranged by few active whisky members from Turku. The whiskies had arrived in time and we had coordinated the samples from Turku to Helsinki. Everything was ready for a few hours guessing game.

For me personally, the blind tastings have became one of the best parts of my whisky hobby. I like to taste whiskies without any preconceived opinions. This way you might find that your nose and taste buds might offer you some interesting surprises. If my memory serves me right, I don't think I have ever known for sure what distillery the whisky has been from. We have found right distillery as a group, but there has always been some doubts or options for each whisky.

I also like these Whisky Group Turku tastings, because no one knows, what whiskies we get. Not even the organizers. The shop selects and sends us the whiskies already packed in samples. There's a greetings video from the shop and after that we taste all the whiskies and share thoughts and try to guess distilleries etc. After first round, we go through the set again and after each whisky we see a video from the shop, that reveals the whisky.

Next you can find my notes and thoughts from each whisky as I typed them in my phone and I wasn't aware what is in the bottles. After the notes I'll reveal the whiskies and sum up the tasting.


First whisky

Nose: No peat, saltines, straw, barn, rubber, light fruitiness

Taste: barn, straws, smooth and dirty, musty

Finish: Straw barn, peppers, resin, lasts for a while or at least the barn taste stays in my mouth

Others found sweetness and fruits, but for me there is this farm like note, straw and barn, then very light sweetness in the background. My guess is Raasay or some other new distillery. Not my favorite.

Second whisky

Nose: Fruits, perfume, wine notes

Taste: Wax, winegums, perfume, real fruitbomb. Fruity fireworks exploding in the mouth, can't catch individual fruits, but they just keep coming with full blast

Finish: Fruits turn to marzipan and then there are wine notes coming in. Finaly some oak

Works a lot better for me than the first one. Nice sweetness and waxiness, taste lasts long. Feels like there's a way more alcohol in this one. Could be some 12 years old with wine finish.

Third whisky

Nose: Leather, mint, red apples, sherry

Taste: wine notes, sherry, leather, fruits, dishwashing soap

Finish: Oak, leather, menthol, liquorice, grass

My guess is, that this is quite old whisky. On person said, that with this kind of whisky you can just wash away the long day and you find peace when sitting down with this. And I have to agree. Really classy and elegenat whisky. A tru gentleman of a dram. 46% and sherry casks.

Fourth whisky

Nose: plumsoup

Taste: raisin, plums, surpriningly smooth

Finish: quite afterburns, almonds, sour

Incredible color, expectations before tasting is that it's a raisin soup. Young and strong, but still surprisingly smooth. Odd and great whisky, that I still wouldn't buy to my collection and wouldn't choose again knowingly. Still superb whisky if you think about this as an experience and a way to broaden your palette. It surprises and is anything but "traditional whisky" (or at least my view of traditional whisky)

Fifth whisky

Nose: Bonfire smoke and ashses. Islay whisky, tar, very light farm like notes (basically barn, but don't want to say it every time :D)

Taste: Smooth, sweet, smoked wrapped bananas, pineaplle, bbq pork, grill

Finish: smoke, sweetness and bbq pork

Probably quite low abv. At first I was super into this, smooth, sweet and peat etc. , but longer I spend with this, the more I got feeling, that this is too easy and boring, quite one dimensional. There's no challege and kick. Not bad in any way, but probably wouldn't want this to my collection.

Sixth whisky

Nose: Smoke, small baby vomit note (Port Charlotte?)

Taste: Wow, now this is an amazingly fruity. There's flavorus and kick. Still I can find the slight baby vomit in there (in a good way). Zingy citrus, the smoke is there all the time, perfectly integrated, supporting the fuits and giving a good basis for this. Gives charactert to the whisky, but doesn't overpower.

Finish: Menthol, smoke, perfume. Still really beautifully integrated elements and they work together nicely. The taste lasts and comes and goes like waves. Really fine whisky. This I would by into my collection, if anything. Really great whisky.

Final thoughts and rankings:

After first round 6,2,3,5,4,1

After second round 2,6,3,5,4,1

The notes are typed just after tasting the whiskies first or second times. They're typed with in my phone, so there's only the "biggest" thoughts and findings and a lots of stuff missing.



The lineup:

  1. Waterford The Cuvee - 50%

  2. Cuvee of 25 terriors

  3. Glencadam 1991 Gordon & MacPhail - 54,9%

  4. Refill Bourbon Barrel - 29 Years - Cask 3249 - 181 Bottles

  5. Glenfarclas 185th Anniversary - 46%

  6. Bottling with whiskies from 1950 to 2020?

  7. Blair Athol 2008 Signatory "Malt Mill" - 54,8%

  8. Sherry Butt Finish - 12 Years - Cask 3 - 695 Bottles

  9. Bunnahabhain 2014 Staoisha Sea Shepherd - 46%

  10. Dechar/Rechar - 7 Years

  11. Unnamed Islay 1992 Signatory - 52,7%

  12. Bourbon barrels - 28 Years - Cask 6779 - 262 Bottles

Summary

Once again a huge tasting that challenged the perception of what whiskies I like and senses. The only sad thing about the tasting was, that the two whiskies that were (in my opinion) way better than the rest were also the expensive ones. This is not always the case and that's always nice, when the best bottle is priced reasonably and you can get them home.

I can strongly recommend blind tastings to everyone and especially so, that you decide the ranking before you get to know what you enjoyed. This way you can learn something about yourself or about your taste with whiskies. The thing I take away from this tasting is, that I need to get more familiar with Glencadam whiskies. I also got verification for the fact, that I like my peated whiskies with a twist and punch. If a peated whisky is too smooth and easy, it is nice dram, but doesn't offer anything in the long run. Still, whenever a offered a chance, I will enjoy the easy drams also. :)

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