If you are a regular reader of BarleyMania, you might have noticed that I am a big whisky enthusiast. Another thing I really love is traveling – visiting new places, meeting interesting people and seeing everyday life in foreign countries. An excellent way to do this is going on a sea cruise like my wife and I did for a fortnight this spring. Traveling on board of Mein Schiff 3, we saw beautiful cities such as Gdansk, Klaipeda, St. Petersburg, Stockholm and Tallinn. The latter had, in my opinion, the most beautiful harbor of the cruise. Although there were round about 2,000 passengers on board, only nine of them found their way to the whisky tasting that took place on the penultimate evening of the journey.
Our hosts Konstantin and Marc-Kevin presented seven classic whiskies, which represented almost all whisky regions of Scotland. We started our evening with the light and easily drinkable Auchentoshan Three Wood and the fruity Glenkinchie 12yo from the Lowlands. Here, I realized once more that drinking whisky is not only about savoring and analyzing the taste, but also about raising emotions. Glenkinchie was the first distillery I ever visited and for this reason Glenkinchie and its whiskies will always have a special place in my heart.
From the Lowlands we went on to Speyside and the Highlands. The Speyside was represented by the Cragganmore 12yo as well as the Balvenie 12yo Triple Cask, which was matured in First Fill Bourbon casks, Refill Bourbon Casks and Sherry Casks. While both of these drams were particularly fruity and aromatic, I also discovered very nice notes of dark fruits, nuts and spices in the latter. From the Highlands we got to try the Dalwhinnie 15yo, which was full of heather, herbs, vanilla and yellow fruits, followed by the Oban 14yo with its sweet, herby and salty notes. The latter is this great whisky’s most striking quality in my book. It is almost like taking a walk by the sea on a very stormy day. Actually, this also makes it the perfect whisky to be enjoyed on a sea cruise through a not-so-sunny area like the Baltic Sea.
We ended our tasting with the Lagavulin 16yo. It has sweet, salty and peaty notes combined with smoked ham. A very delicious dram, but for some of the participants, who were not that experienced at drinking whisky, it put a bit too much peat and smoke in the glass. As you can imagine, none of the whiskies served were new to me. But from time to time it is very interesting to dive a bit deeper into the classics again and savor them in the course of a guided tasting. For me, the Baltic Sea Cruise Whisky Tasting marked a great opportunity to drink and discuss seven classic drams back by back. And for those who have not yet concerned themselves with whisky too much, it gave an excellent overview of the vast diversity you find in Scotch Single Malt Whisky.
Auchentoshan Three Wood (NAS, Single Malt, Lowlands, 43%)
Glenkinchie 12yo (12yo, Single Malt, Lowlands 43%)
Cragganmore 12yo (12yo, Single Malt, Speyside, 40%)
Balvenie 12yo Triple Cask (12yo, Single Malt, Speyside, 40%)
Dalwhinnie 15yo (15yo, Single Malt, Highlands, 43%)
Oban 14yo (14yo, Single Malt, Highlands, 43%)
Lagavulin 16yo (16yo, Single Malt, Islay, 43%)
More information: www.tuicruises.de