As many of you know, I am on record as not preferring Scotch Whisky. It isn’t that I have anything against Scotland or it’s people. It’s just that I haven’t found one of their whiskies that I’ve been particularly drawn to. I’ve tried to say that “I haven’t found one that I prefer to bourbon,” as opposed to I don’t like Scotch. But as I tried more and more of them, I was starting to think that maybe I really just didn’t like Scotch Whisky.
At least until I was the “Resident Expert” at a local reader’s whiskey tasting. (If you can’t hear the sarcasm dripping off that quoted part, I assure you it’s there*). I was paid some money to tell a group of the hosts friends how I taste whiskey, how that is different from when I drink whiskey and to help answer any questions they might have on the topic of whiskey. On top of the cash, I also got to try any of the whiskey that was on the table of the guests. There were some nice ones there in both bourbon, scotch and rye, but one that I was particularly drawn to try was a blended Scotch finished in Rye barrels. And I liked it.
It sounded familiar, so when I got home, I searched though my samples and realized that I had a sample of the same whisky on my shelf that a friend of mine had given me. Because I had been out drinking whisky for money all night (and my wife had driven me there and picked me up—safety first!) I poured that sample for my wife. She liked it too.
Strange. I liked it even though I didn't think I cared for Scotch Whisky. She has actually gone on record saying that she doesn’t Scotch and yet she liked it. Hmmmm…
Johnnie Walker Select Casks - Rye Cask Finish
Purchase info: $25-ish at Marketplace Liquors, Menomonie, WI (I lost the receipt).
Details: 10 year old, age-stated, 46% ABV.
Nose: Toasted marshmallows, mint and hints of oak.
Mouth: Sweet with wintergreen, clove, slight caramel and a nice tingle on the tip of the tongue.
Finish: Warm and sweet with lingering wintergreen, clove and caramel.
Thoughts: I’d call this a whisky for Rye Whiskey drinkers that want their rye a little softer and more refined, but with less oak, than the typical aged American Straight Rye. It’s soft and gentle but with many of the flavors that one associates with rye. The typical mint has softened to wintergreen, but the clove and some caramel are still there. On the other hand, there is so much influence from the finishing barrels that I get none of the flavors that I typically associate with either blended or malt Scotch Whisky. Which to me is a good thing. But if you are a looking for that, this might be an issue.
So, I still can’t say if I can make a Grand Pronouncement about if I like Scotch Whiskey or not. But I have, at least, found one that I do like. And I like it quite a bit.
*Sarcasm not because I don’t appreciate being called an expert, but because I don’t feel like one. It feels like I still have way too much to learn.
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