Thanks to Knockdhu distillery, the anCnoc brand, and Edinburgh Whisky Blog, I was able to participate in an online Twitter tasting of three anCnoc single malts today, 2/24/2011. With another twenty-or-so tasters, we packed a vertical tasting into an hour and fifteen minutes. This was my first Twitter tasting, and I have to say that it was entertaining, and well worth taking a work break at 11:00 AM to participate! (The tasting was held at 7PM GMT). I hope I get to involve myself in future tastings of this sort. 🙂
After setting up three clean Glencairn glasses and a small pitcher of room-temperature water, I dove into the first sample, a 12-year old distillery bottling, at the starting gun. We all agreed it was very fruity, with everything from raspberries and strawberries to melon, green grass, tropical fruits, and flowers. It was also pretty drying, and ended with an intriguing (though slightly unpleasant to me) bitter hoppy finish. Nobody could settle on the cause of the bitterness, although some though it was just oak tannin.
Next, we dove into the 16 year old. It was much more subdued, with cooked fruits and caramel on the nose, and hazelnuts and coffee on the tongue. Tasters agreed (although I couldn’t identify it) a mixture of black pepper, black tea, and tobacco. Some tasters reported feeling urges to smoke a cigarette, despite recently quitting.
Lastly, after a few minutes to rest our palates, we got into the new 1996 vintage. Wow. The leather and acetone was brutal on the nose, but dissipated after a few minutes undisturbed in the glass. This revealed tantalizing savory aromas, smoked meats, and – the tweets erupted – scads of peanut butter! The flavor was equally surprising, with an unctuous, chewy body and layers of savory, salty, and nutty notes. After a brief discussion of cassoulet (a French bean stew with duck or goose confit), I agreed that there were notes of duck-fat and white beans. This one just kept on coming, with a finish that lingered with that creamy peanut butter taste. Almost without exception, the 1996 one over everyone in the tasting.
The tasting was hectic, with new tweets coming in every few seconds. Despite taking an hour and fifteen minutes, I barely had time to fully taste each whisky with and without water. Somehow I made it through, and I just have to say: God bless the Internet! Where else could whisky lovers from the USA, Israel, Scotland, Denmark, and other points come together to taste and discuss whisky like this? I hope to see many more of these in the future. Thanks anCnoc!