For as long as I’ve been drinking and enjoying whisky, I’ve had a soft spot for the fun and intrigue that is blind-tasting. This doesn’t necessarily mean blindfolds or secret panels, but it does command some attention to your nose and palate that instantly removes your eyes from the actual brand and preconception of how something ‘should’ taste. This part for me is crucial.
A lot of whisky companies and distributors spend a lot of money on marketing their brand and their style. I don’t have a problem with this at all, but where this leads us is in creating personal and general preconceptions of what a certain distillery style should or must taste like. What happens when you remove that for the tasting part? You now entirely rely on your nose and mouth to determine what’s going on. Now instead of a popular distillery-bottled release, make it an SMWS single cask release from a cask type that is not only uncommon in whisky, but practically a rarity to be seen from that distillery.
That’s something I truly love about the Society: tasting and introducing people to casks from distilleries you don’t see that often, and having the name and region of that distillery obscured by default in our label. On a recent trip to Melbourne, I poured a dram of 28.27 for a guest at one of our Partner Bars. Without looking it up, how many of you could name the distillery for 28? (no cheating!) The guests were fascinated by the youthful vibrancy in the glass, the oily back-bone it had, and how close the whisky was to the tasting notes on the bottle including that fresh rain smell in Autumn, the sweetness of toffee apples and caramelised pears, and hints of hot apple cider and vanilla candles. Later on I revealed it was a Tullibardine. Would you have given it the same attention on your nose and palate if you instantly knew the distillery? Maybe, but there were initially no preconceptions about what it ‘should’ taste like from that knowledge.
With the Australian Malt Whisky Tasting Championship just around the corner now, why not take an opportunity to sharpen your senses and come and try 5 x unique Society single cask expressions with our Cellarmaster, Andrew Derbidge, on Friday 24th June, at the Royal Automobile Club, 89 Macquarie St Sydney.
So how does it work and what’s on offer? We’ll be presenting and showcasing five of our latest whiskies – some off our latest June Outturn, and some that have never before been seen or released in Australia. As the whiskies are presented, each table forms a team and – with the benefit of multiple choice, answer sheets, and the tasting notes to help you – each team attempts to guess each whisky’s features and characteristics. For example, its age, its ABV (both within ranges – don’t worry, we’re not that precise!), its region, and – for bonus points – the actual cask. Each whisky is a new round, and we’ll unveil whiskies and scores as we go until we reach the end of the night and the winning table takes home the prizes and the glory.
It’s surprisingly easy, it’s fun, it’s informal, and – best of all – you’ll enjoy some incredible whiskies along the way. And, for those new to the Society or new to the world of whisky, we’ll cover off a few of the basics – so come along and feel free to bring a friend or two.
Book in here: https://www.smws.com.au/event/guess-the-whisky/
Matt Bailey, National Ambassador