On 2 December 2015 Malt Mileage had the opportunity to attend a Beam Suntory event at the Henry Bucks menswear store in Melbourne, “Peated Malts of Distinction – a journey through five world class smoky whiskies”.
Beam Suntory’s core smoky whiskies were on tasting, paired with a delectable assortment of cheeses. The whiskies included Ardmore Legacy Highland malt whisky, Connemara Irish whiskey, and, Islay malts Bowmore 12 year old, Laphroaig Select Cask and Laphroaig Triple Wood. On the night we were guided through the whiskies by Brendon Rogers, whisky ambassador for Beam Suntory. Brendon proved to be extremely knowledgeable in whisky production and maturation.
Brendon reaffirmed the importance of good tasting practice to fully appreciate a whisky, and shared with the group how to nose and taste a whisky; an important but often overlooked aspect of whisky tasting. This good tasting practice seemed to be in line with accepted practice, including much of Richard Paterson’s approach to whisky tasting, and included: (1) agitate a whisky by swirling it in the glass before nosing or tasting it, not only does it look cool but it also seems to enliven the whisky after its time resting in the bottle; (2) use the right glass, preferably a Glencairn in my opinion, to catch all those beautiful aromas and hold them in the glass ready for your nose; (3) don’t stick your nose in the glass when first nosing a whisky, but hold the glass just under your nose and breath in through your mouth to smell the whisky and also reduce the aroma of alcohol (think of it as whisky foreplay); (4) when tasting the whisky, swish it gently around your tongue and savour it; and (5) after swallowing a whisky, breath in and then out to really get the flavour of the finish. It was great to see this knowledge being shared with whisky consumers, in addition to the great work of Richard Paterson in his online videos.
The star of the night, for me, was the Laphroaig Triple Wood – a complex smoky malt with beautiful notes of oloroso sherry and Spanish oak cutting through the peat and American oak driven vanillas – one of my very favourite Islay malts which I return to time and time again at home. The Bowmore 12 year old and Ardmore Legacy hit the spot too, though they did not light my night on fire like the Triple Wood did. As for the Connemara and the Select Cask, they seemed to be the least enjoyed among the people within my vicinity; far too mild mannered, though this is to be expected in such “breakfast drams” such as the Select Cask.
Overall, this Beam Suntory tasting was a fantastic night with one stand out whisky – the Laphroaig Triple Wood – that makes me praise whoever first decided to store peaty whisky in used sherry casks. Peaty malt and sherry wood: a brilliant composition if done properly which is probably one of the world’s best flavour combinations for the devout peat head. Amen. Try the Laphroaig Triple Wood with some blue cheese to accentuate the peaty smack in the face.