An intimate evening with Scott’s Selection and 8 of their single cask whiskies

A couple of weeks ago I sent out a Facebook message on the Jewish Single Malt Whisky Society’s Facebook page that I would be in Chicago for a week or so (on one of my many business trips to Chi-Town) and had an evening, **maybe two**,  where I could do some whisky stuff.  Well, my two evenings turned into one and to my surprise, I had a few offers to hang out and dram with this person or that.  Sadly, I had to pick and choose only one of the offers and the only way I was able to make my one whisky night work was to select the one that would allow me to stay at my hotel.

My selection was Scott’s SelectionBrian Dvoret, US ambassador for Scott’s Selection, and I have shared a few emails over the past year or so but have seemed to somehow miss one another at every go.  Luckily for me, it was not the case this time around.  What’s more was Brian said he was able to bring his wares right to my hotel – I didn’t have to make one bit of effort!  Brian really played to up my laziness (laziness, my ass!  I had been working a tradeshow for many days straight; 7am up to 10pm down Saturday to Thursday – I EARNED this whisky night!  Thanks again Brian – I could not have had this great experience without you!!).

So, what is Scott’s Selection and who is “Scott”?  While there’s more info on this website, here’ the gist:

Robert Scott has been immersed in the Scotch Whisky trade since he left school at the age of sixteen. Starting first as a lowly distillery worker responsible for cleaning the stills, he rose steadily through the ranks, gaining extensive knowledge of all aspects of the distilling trade. By the time he had reached bis 32nd birthday, not only had he gained an enviable reputation as an accomplished all-rounder in whisky production but, more importantly, he had become one of the most respected “nosers” of Scotch Whiskies.

In the 1970s Robert Scott was appointed Master Distiller, a position he held in the finest traditions of this ancient craft until retirement beckoned. Prior to caring full time for his garden in Glasgow, Robert was to be given one final assignment, namely to create a personal selection of his favorite single malt whiskies. Thus, Scott’s Selection was born.

Robert’s criteria for choosing his Selection is rigorous:

  1. Only top quality malts (and one top quality grain) are included, with an optimum level of aging.
  2. The greatest care is taken during bottling to ensure that the malts are maintained as closely as possible to their natural state in the cask. Thus whiskies are filtered but not chilled prior to bottling; nor are they diluted by the addition of water. Only by following the strictest quality controls can the individual characteristics of each malt be fully appreciated.
  3. The consumer packaging should reflect the heritage and character of the whiskies and distinguish the three distinct distilling areas: Highland, Lowland, and Islay.

Scott’s Selection is a tribute to the great tradition of distilling whisky in Scotland and above all to the knowledge and expertise of Robert Scott, Master Distiller.

Speyside Distillers Company Ltd was crowned the Independent Bottler of the Year 2008 at the annual Whisky Magazine awards held on 2 November in Glasgow. We were also awarded the regional title of Independent Bottler of the year for Mainland Scotland. Scott’s Selection and Private Cellar received a total of 8 awards including 5 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze medals.

On to the tasting:

On top the the whiskies tasted that night (shown on the left with Brian, 9 in all; 8 Scott’s Selection and The Speyside 12yo) I was able to share this experience with my boss, Charlie.

Charlie (shown to the right and happier than a whisky drinker at a private tasting), on top of being a great boss, is a sucker for a good whisky but has never really had the opportunity to have a private whisky tasting.  He worked the tradeshow right along with me and I thought that my whisky reward should be his whisky reward as well.

So, as I mentioned, Brian was nice enough to bring 9 different whiskies and while I didn’t take any notes on the whiskies I tasted, I can tell you that most were lovely single casks whiskies. Brian is a very knowledgeable guy who has been in the industry for years.  He did a great job teaching us about the Scott’s Selection range as well as the 12yo Speyside single malt.  How were the whiskies?  To be honest, they were some of the better single cask whiskies I’ve had with a couple that really stood out for me…

The whiskies were:

  1. 1977 Glenlivet (Bourbon cask, bottled in 2004), 53.1%ABV – A sweety of a whisky with a good deal of vanilla and citrus
  2. 1980 Glenrothes (Bourbon cask, bottled in 2005), 55.8%ABV – like other single cask Glenrothes I had, I found it to be sweet and woody with odd notes of household cleaners
  3. 1967 Longmorn-Glenlivet (Bourbon cask, bottled in 2004), 53%ABV – A gloriously creamy dram filled with caramels, Rolos and other chewy treats
  4. 1986 Highland Park (Bourbon Cask, bottled in 2007(, 54.1%ABV – Like every other single cask HP, I never know what to expect.  The HP single casks are never anything like their standard OB’s.  In the end, it was nice.  I was hoping for a touch more smoke but there was a good deal of honey and, if memory serves, a note of sweet BBQ sauce.
  5. 1989 Aberlour (Bourbon cask, bottled in 2007), 52.8%ABV – perhaps the biggest surprise of the night.  Aberlour shines as a sherried whisky so I wasn’t sure what to expect with an 18yo bourbon cask Aberlour.  It was perhaps the best whisky of the night (neck & neck with the 1967 Longmorn-Glenlivet, I have to say).  Brilliant, fruity, touches of mint, citrus and cream.
  6. 1990 Bruichladdich (Bourbon cask, bottled in 2004, pre-Jim McEwan distilled whisky), 58.1%ABV – Creamy, light & vegetal.  The smoke was almost imperceptible.
  7. 1984 Caol Ila (Bourbon cask, bottled in 2007), 54.7%ABV – SCORE!!  I’m not sure what was best about this whisky; the fact that it was the first heavily peated/smoky whisky of the bunch and therefore stood out like you would not believe or that it was just damn good & balanced wonderfully between the smoke, fruits and wood.
  8. 1964 North of Scotland (Port cask, bottled in 2003), 43.2%ABV – A wonderful single grain whisky that’s older than most of the people reading this here post.  Chocolatey, sweet and grainy, light and orangey goodness.  A word to the wise, and not that you would given the lower ABV of 43.2%, do not add even one drop of water to this one as it fizzles like you would not believe.  A very, very delicate whisky.
  9. 12yo Speyside (Bourbon cask), 43%ABV – review to come – Brian was nice enough to leave me with a sample.

If any of these whiskies sound good to you and you’re planning on being at WhiskyLIVE NYC on April 6th, Brian will be there as well pouring some of these beauties.  If you do plan on going to WhiskyLIVE, be sure to take advantage of my 10% discount to you & use the voucher term “jewmalt2011” when getting tickets. Details on WhiskyLIVE and how to take advantage of my discount to you are here.

Brian – thanks so much for the private tasting!  Charlie, I’m glad you could join in – it was a pleasure having you in on the whisky fun!


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