Flighting Friends

A couple of weeks ago me and the fiancée decided to hit up a whisky bar in Amsterdam, to take a Speyside whisky flight. This happened right after tasting the Old Rip Van Winkle in a nearby cocktail bar. After thoroughly enjoying that dram, we happened upon an insanely crowded bar. Where the only seating option , was to join another groups table. That bar in question was Whisky Café L & B.

Thankfully, whisky people being whisky people, we were more than welcome to join them. And within moments, we were fully part of the conversation. We found out they were there doing a scotch whisky tasting, as a bachelor party for a member of their group. Amsterdam being Amsterdam, it was a very multicultural group. In fact, I could have started this blog by stating: A Dutch Scotsman, an Italian, and a Finn walked into a bar. But then you probably would’ve thought I started telling a bad joke. Nonetheless, it was true. And the whole situation led to a very fun conversation on the subject of whisky. Which actually gave me a couple of great recommendations on Scotch, but also on Finnish, Italian and even Australian whiskies (the Italian had spent some time abroad).

Seeing as these are supposed to be tasting notes, I will now stop reminiscing the fun night I had with my newfound whisky friends. And I will move on to the whisky that I drank. My fiancée had ordered a glass of port and I ordered a flight of Speyside Scotches. Which consisted of three pours: anCnoc 12, Cragganmore 12, and Benromach Organic. With a little bonus at the end as we were invited to join our new friends for a glass of Kilchoman Saligo Bay. Unfortunately for this review, I was having too much fun by that time to pay much attention to my notes. And thus, the Kilchoman will not be featured in these tasting notes.

Normally I always include the setting in my tasting notes. But, since I already drambled on and on about them I decided to leave them out this time. The only thing I’d add is that all three whiskies were enjoyed neat in a Glencairn.

A bottle of Kilchoman Saligo Bay, tasted during my whisky flight in Amsterdam.

Now, without further ado, let’s move on to the tasting notes of my Speyside Flight.

Dram 1: anCnoc 12

Stats:

ABV: 40% (80 Proof)

Age: 12 years old

Distillery: Knockdhu Distillery

Owned by: Inver House

Category: Speyside Scotch – Single Malt

Awards: IWSC Gold 2017, IWSC Silver Outstanding  2013 & 2014, International Spirits Challenge Silver 2014, San Francisco World Spirits Challenge Silver 2013.

Chill Filtered: Yes

Natural Colour: No

Nose:

The first thing that popped into my head while nosing the glass was “moss”. After the moss I got some fruit notes. Mainly yellow grapes, pear, and hints of apple.

Palate:

The palate on this one surprised me. Coming off the nose I would have guessed I’d be tasting a light floral whisky. But what I found in my glass was smokiness. If I were to define it further, I’d even go as far as to say it was reminiscent of smoky bacon. After letting my palate get accustomed to the smoke I started picking up on hints of oak and some citrus tones.

Finish:

The finish did not add much to the flavors for me, in fact it just dried all the flavors out a bit. It all became a bit harsher, and not in a pleasant way.

Verdict:

This is one of those whiskies that I’m glad I got to try in a bar. It wasn’t bad by any means, but I don’t see myself buying an entire bottle of it either.

The flight set me back 15 euro for three 3cl (1 ounce) pours. For that price, in a bar, I have no quips with this dram. If I were to buy a bottle, it would set me back roughly 30 euro. And though I still think that’s a very fair price for what the dram has to offer, I do think that even in that price range there’s better to be had.

Rating:

72/100

Value:

B

Dram 2: Cragganmore 12

Stats:

ABV: 40% (80 Proof)

Age: 12 years old

Distillery: Cragganmore Distillery

Owned by: Diageo

Category: Speyside Scotch – Single Malt

Awards: International Whisky Competition  3rd place 2015

Chill Filtered: Yes

Natural Colour: No

Nose:

With this dram I did pick up on a little hint of smoke from the get-go. Mind you, it’s no Ardbeg or the like but there is smokiness to be found. Aside from that I was getting sea spray and strangely enough apple vinegar. Not exactly what I’d call a pleasant nose.

Palate:

On the palate the light smoke reappears in the form of smoked apple. Thankfully the vinegar does not find its way back to the palate. I also get hints of vanilla.

Finish:

The finish on this one is short and unmemorable. On the upside though, it made it all the easier to move on to the next dram.

Verdict:

This was a big disappointment. I’d say it’s a decent whisky, without any standout features whatsoever. I can enjoy easy sippers for what they are, but this is also not that. To nose was off for me, the taste was bland, and the finish unremarkable.

In a liquor store a bottle would set me back 35 euro on average, which could also buy me so many other (better) options. Which leads me to the conclusion that this still isn’t great value, despite its modest price tag. But this, of course, is just my personal opinion.

Rating:

62/100

Value:

D

Dram 3: Benromach Organic

Stats:

ABV: 46% (92 Proof)

Age: NAS

Distillery: Benromach Distillery

Owned by: Gordon & MacPhail

Category: Speyside Scotch – Single Malt

Awards: World Whiskies Awards Gold 2021

Chill Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Nose:

On the nose this is the lightest of all three members of the flight. I get some hints of malt, white pepper, and not much else.

Palate:

Ok, I was not expecting this. The weakest on the nose, but the best of the bunch palate wise. The white pepper finds its way back, accompanied by apple and vanilla this time. There’s also some caramel and all put together it leads to the dram having a full bodied (thick) mouthfeel.

Finish:

Unfortunately, the finish does not last very long on this one. It is pleasant enough though, to appreciate the short time you have with it after finishing the dram. It’s mainly the caramel and vanilla that linger.

Verdict:

If we forget about the nose, this is quite a good dram. And although it adds nothing to its quality taste wise, I found it interesting and fun to enjoy a fully organic whisky (just to see what it’s like). It was by far the best of the line-up, but unfortunately also the most expensive if you were to buy it in a store.

A bottle would set you back close to 50 euro around here. And unless your big into organic stuff and are dying to implement the lifestyle into your whisky sipping adventures, I’d say there are many better tasting drams out there for the price. Good value would’ve been a price point closer to the previous two drams (between 30 and 35) in the flight.

Rating:

81/100

Value:

C

The conclusion of these tasting notes is that even though the whiskies might not have compared very well to what I had before, the company we had made the whole experience the highlight of the night.

Click here to learn more about how I come up with my tasting notes and how I determine rating and value.

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