Scotch Tasting with Ralph Rooke


Wow, what a great night. Ralph Rooke was kind enough to join us for an evening of Scotch. 30 of our closest friends joined us in the Amity Wines Tasting Room for a few hours, sipping some of the best Scotches we sell, and learning all about their origins and flavor profiles. Ralph led the conversation, leading to tons of interaction among the crowd. A wonderful time was had by all- and most people went home with some fantastic Scotches they never even knew existed! Now, let’s get to the good stuff. The Scotches!

1) Dalmore 12 Year – Half the whisky was aged in bourbon barrels, the other half in sherry casks. This whisky has always been on my short list as one of the finest, most affordable 12 year old single malts available. While the price may have gone up a bit  (currently $46.99) the quality remains the same. It’s fresh and lively. A well-balanced dram, with its tell-tale orange marmalade accompanied by tangerine, pineapple upside-down cake, vanilla-soaked barley, subtle brine, and caramel, all leading to a spicy cinnamon and dried vanilla finish. A nice “every day” dram.

2) Isle of Jura 10 Year – Despite close proximity to Islay, stylistically Jura make has far more in common with its Highland cousins. The entry level 10 year old variant offers resin, oil, cereal, and pine notes on the delicate nose. Comparatively light bodied, with malt and drying saltiness in the mouth, along with a hint of aniseed. The finish is malty and nutty, with more salt, plus just a wisp of smoke. Currently $39.99.

3) Dalmore 15 Year – Those who are fond of ripe, sherried whiskies will enjoy this new 15 year old. It’s aged entirely in sherry casks. The sherry is nicely layered (but not sappy or cloying) and the Dalmore spirit is big enough to handle it. Lush fruit, richly textured and fleshy, with a warming spice impact on the finish. Orange marmalade, glazed citrus, and key lime pie are enveloped by sweet toffee/molasses notes, and spiced with cinnamon, clove, ginger, and subtle chocolate. Soothing and restorative in nature. Good for after dinner — or with a cigar. Currently $79.99.

4) Isle of Jura 16 Year – Antique gold. Gentle aromas of oak, caramel, and a hint of vanilla and sea breeze. Light-medium body, with a creamy texture. Soft, gentle flavors of vanilla, toffee, subtle fruit and brine, with a dryish oaky finish. Currently $57.99.

5) Dalmore 18 Year – Aged in American oak for 14 years and then finished off in Spanish sherry butts for several more. A rich, lush, sherried Dalmore expression. Fruity notes of succulent orange, strawberry rhubarb tart, and sultana, on a bed of toffee and vanilla. A peppering of cinnamon, lemon rock candy, chocolate-covered coffee bean, and lavender adds complexity. Perhaps a little heavy-handed with the sherry, but still, it’s a solid effort and a Dalmore to enjoy after dinner or as a nightcap. Currently $139.99.

6) Dalmore King Alexander III – Master Blender Richard Paterson’s excellent adventure. This whisky consists of Dalmore aged in a wide variety of casks, including cabernet sauvignon, madeira, Matusalem sherry, marsala, port, and bourbon. This diversity shows in the whisky’s complexity and unique flavor profile. There’s a lot going on in here. Very rich, but balanced with oak spice and gripping resin (especially on the finish). Sweet layers of toffee, molasses, and vanilla fudge provide a foundation for red plum, ripe red raspberry, black cherry, blueberry, orange marmalade, kiwi, grape skin, and toasted almond. A very busy whisky which requires a good dose of mental participation to really appreciate it and sort all the flavors out. In this regard, very much like Glenmorangie Signet. Currently $219.99.

7) Dalmore Cigar Malt – Back due to popular demand in the U.S., this new incarnation of the Cigar Malt sees the percentage of ex-oloroso ‘Matusalem’ sherry wood ramped up from 60 to 70 percent. Pass the Partagas! Spicy Christmas cake with rich sherry notes on the nose. Fragrant, with figs, cinnamon, ripe oranges, and glacé cherries. Robust sweet toffee and mango flavors, with oloroso sherry, vanilla, and lively spices. Medium to long in the finish, with ginger, treacle, and licorice. Currently $124.99.

8) Isle of Jura Superstition – Amber gold color. Medium bodied and slightly oily. Peaty bonfire aroma and flavors, complemented by a creamy caramel maltiness. Subtle notes of brine, seaweed, and a hint of pear fruit spice things up a bit. Gently dry, moderately smoky finish, with teasing sea salt notes. Style: Highland (Jura) single malt Scotch whisky. I have always wondered what a peat smoke infused Isle of Jura whisky would taste like. I was also concerned that too much peat smoke could dominate this whisky’s flavor profile. Fortunately, this hasn’t happened. The peat smoke is certainly evident, but the Jura character comes through too. One extra bonus: it’s bottled at 45%, which kicks the flavors up a notch. Currently $49.99.

Note: All reviews courtesy of Whisky Advocate.

All in all, it was an amazing night of Scotch. Were you there? Awesome! Wish you were there? Get on our mailing list to be notified of all upcoming events. Or, stop by our Facebook and Twitter pages regularly to check for updates.