I took part in a digital whisky tasting last week led by Whisky Ambassador Lukasz Dynowiak and moderated by Master of Whisky Kristina Nash. I had received a tasting kit with six single malt whisky samples the prior week, but I wasn’t sure what to expect from a virtual tasting when I logged on.
For starters, I was disconnected four times until I changed browsers, so by the time I got on the participants were already tasting. We began with anCnoc 22 year old ($159 suggested retail price), which had fruit and honey notes with a touch of smoke; one taster picked up circus peanuts.
Then it was onto Speyburn 10 year old—which the tasters marveled was an amazing bargain at $29 a bottle. Candied orange peel, lemon zest, vanilla custard were some of the descriptors. (I was getting a little marzipan, but no one else seemed to.) The Speyburn 25 year old ($315) was drying, with some folks picking up cocoa and walnuts. It was a delightful expression, but most preferred the 10 year for the value.
Next up, the Balblair 2002 (59.99) was a pale, straw-yellow color and had a floral, grassy nose with good mouthfeel and lots of tropical fruit. The Old Pulteney Clipper ($50) had some salty, seawater characteristics, as well as oatmeal cookie and orange hard candy.
The finale was the Old Pulteney 35 Year Old ($790), which everyone was clearly anxious to get a taste of. It did not disappoint—pipe tobacco, leather, anise, salted caramel, candied citrus and stone fruits. It was an easy favorite, since many people don’t get to enjoy a whisky of this caliber. But I kept going back to the Balblair—I was surprised at how much that one stood out for me.
The only problem with a digital tasting for me was getting distracted by the comments window—what were others picking up? Was I getting the same thing? Was that a joke? I was so busy paying attention to the taster comments that I missed a lot of what Dynowiak and Nash were saying, which was too bad.
For that reason, I tend to learn more from an in-person tasting. Then again, I was at home in my sweatpants enjoying some amazing whiskies—you can’t beat that.