Scheduled for one hour and hosted by Thomas Kretschmer from Douglas Laing’s German importer Bremer Spirituosen Contor, the “Douglas Laing’s Best Casks 2017” masterclass at Hanse Spirit introduced us to five precious drams covering almost all of the differing whisky regions of Scotland. After a brief introduction, we started with The Epicurean, a light and fruity Lowlands blend that cheerfully told our taste buds: “Listen up, pals. There’s something awesome coming your way”. Lately, I heard of quite a few tastings that picked The Epicurean as the opener. I guess it is because of the nonchalant charm and unworried ease that this blend, which is made from whiskies produced at Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie as well as a number of unnamed distilleries, so perfectly epitomizes.
Next up was a 12 years old single grain whisky produced by the defunct Port Dundas distillery in Glasgow. Not as popular as single malts among the drinkin’ crowd, grain whiskies are primarily used in blends. However, some companies like Douglas Laing also bring them to the market in their pure, unvatted form. The one we enjoyed at the masterclass had a peculiar flavour profile, starting with a “candyshop” sweetness and ending with an almost medicinal bitterness. An unusual, but very fine whisky!
From the Lowlands we moved on to the Highlands, which in this tasting were represented by an Arran 20yo and a Blair Athol 21yo – both of which were bottled at 51.5 per cent and limited to less than 300 bottles. The first I found particularly awesome due to its oily mouth feel. But the latter was also a real treat with its strong fruitiness originating from more than two decades in a sherry butt. Last but certainly not least, we had a 17 years old Islay malt from Bowmore, which was also matured in a sherry cask. The peat was not overly strong in this dram, but the glamorous liasion it formed with the dark fruit notes curated by the cask was something to die for. I really enjoyed all whiskies I had at this tasting, but if I had to pick a favorite, the Bowmore would get my vote.
Earlier, you might have stumbled upon me saying that the masterclass’s line-up included whiskies from “almost” all of Scotland’s main whisky regions. And now that my little recap of the tasting is about to reach its end, you will probably think: “What!? No Speyside dram?”. Well, not exactly. A seasoned whisky expert, our host did of course know that many of the approx. 30 participants of the masterclass would have a weak spot for the rich drams produced close to the banks of the river Spey. So he gave us a secret password that entitled us to a free 18 years old Tamdhu from the Old Particular range at the booth of the Bremer Spirituosen Contor. The perfect encore to a fantastic tasting event!
The Epicurean (NAS / Blended malt / Lowlands / non-limited / 46% / 35 Euro*)
Port Dundas (12yo / Single grain / Lowlands / 247 bottles / 48.4% / 45 Euro*)
Arran (20yo / Single malt / Highlands (Islands) / 287 bottles / 51.5% / 125 Euro*)
Blair Athol (21yo / Single malt / Highlands / 204 bottles / 51.5% / 110 Euro*)
Bowmore (17yo / Single malt / Islay / 333 bottles / 48.4% / 140 Euro*)
*special prices at the fair