Whisky Focus - An Evening of Scottish Virtuosity 2018

An Evening of Scottish Virtuosity 2018 by Murray Cohen

1st February 2018

Once again guest writer, Murray Cohen, a Member of the International Order of the Companions of the Quaich in Canada and Scotch Malt Whisky Forum Member attended the annual Vintages/LCBO sponsored "An Evening of Scottish Virtuosity" event in Toronto, Canada which was presented this year by Chivas Brothers Brand Ambassadors Ian Logan and Frank Biskupek.

Chivas Brothers Brand Ambassadors Ian Logan (left) and Frank Biskupek (right) with Murray Cohen (centre)

I made my yearly pilgrimage to one of the premier single malt Scotch events in Canada on January 23, 2018 at the National Club in Toronto, Ontario celebrating Rabbie Burns with The Glenlivet, Aberlour, Scapa and Longmorn.

The event was sponsored by Vintages LCBO. Ian Logan and Frank Biskupek from Chivas Brothers were the brand presenters and led the structured tasting of eight single malts drawn from the aforementioned distilleries. The buffet reception prior to the tasting was first class all the way.

The 8 whiskies tasted on the night at an "Evening of Scottish Virtuosity 2018" were:

  • Aberlour 18 Year Old
  • Longmorn 16 Year Old
  • Longmorn 23 Year Old
  • Scapa Skirren
  • The Glenlivet Archive 21 Year Old
  • The Glenlivet Master Distiller's Reserve Small Batch
  • The Glenlivet Single Cask Davoch
  • The Glenlivet Single Cask Hogshead

The Chivas Brothers owned Glenlivet distillery has a distilling history dating back to 1824, almost two centuries in the making, as you can see the evening featured some exciting drams from The Glenlivet including small-batch and single-cask selections, there were also rare old single malts from Longmorn distillery. You will find my description of the eight single malts sampled on the evening below, along with my own detailed taste notes and score for each of the eight drams.

Most of the whiskies are available to buy from specialist online whisky shops such as  The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt

Aberlour 18 Year Old Review

Aberlour 18 Year Old ReviewBottled at 42.7% ABV, this whisky is double cask matured in sherry butts and American oak barrels for the full maturation period and then combined.

Murray Cohen's Tasting Notes:

Colour: Reddish Amber.

Nose: Turkish delight melds with berries, sultanas and sponge candy to foster a delectable sweetness. There is a late oaky splash with a box of whole pears. The sherry elements are upfront and unmistakable.

Taste: Full-bodied and creamy. Strawberry foam oozes forth with an irresistible sweetness and eventually incorporates into a spice sandwich of sorts.

Finish: Long with spice and leathery tones shifting from the earlier sugary notes.

Comment: The nose on this one is enticing and really shines through.

SMW Score 88.5/100

Longmorn 16 Year Old Review

Bottled at 48% ABV, this single malt is matured in three types of oak: American oak, ex-sherry casks and traditional oak providing an example of triple barrel aging. The water is drawn from an underground lake under the distillery.

Longmorn 16 Year Old ReviewMurray Cohen's Tasting Notes:

Colour: Bright Gold.

Nose: An assorted fruit basket featuring apricots, melons and pumpkins is caressed by vanilla wafers. Cinnamon sticks and a blast of butterscotch entice with peaches and cream corn, mixed nuts and walnut torte pastry.

Taste: Full-bodied. Spice blast, espresso crema and mocha essences arise with candied orange peel and peanut butter. As an aside, one of the presenters at the event characterised the palate here as having a "hot mouth".

Finish: Long with little tidal pools of Swiss milk chocolate, mild spice and malty notes.

Comment: An intriguing whisky with a variety of aromas and flavors delightfully balanced.

SMW Score 90.5/100

Longmorn 23 Year Old Review

Bottled at 48% ABV, the 23 year old was released in 2017 and is their oldest release of Longmorn in the core range.

Murray Cohen's Tasting Notes:

Colour: Dark Gold.

Nose: Thick black cherry with Swiss milk chocolate tendrils; the omnipresent sweetness of perfume, meadow flowers and acacia honey flow gracefully from an olfactory volcano.

Taste: Full-bodied, creamy and buttery. The sweetness evolves into bold layers of spice and cocoa; the perseverating sweetness not far away.

Finish: Long, the chocolate layers deconstruct into delicious batches of mocha and fudge with the faintest mint refreshment.

Comment: A well-developed whisky which keeps its eye on the ball for balance and integrity.

SMW Score 94.5/100

Scapa Skiren Review

Bottled at 40% ABV, this one was made 100% in first fill American oak casks.

Murray Cohen's Tasting Notes:

Colour: Medium Gold.

Nose: Crab apples and strawberry rhubarb pie come to the fore. A melange of Caribbean Island exotic juices with coconut and pineapple notes offer themselves along with a hint of peppermint.

Taste: Medium to full-bodied. Avocado and chocolate tempt the palate along with building coffee notes.

Finish: Lingering with figs and chocolate froth combining for a pleasant aftertaste.

Comment: This one delivers on many levels and is an enjoyable dram at quite a reasonable price point.

SMW Score 86.5/100

The Glenlivet Archive 21 Year Old Review

Bottled at 43% ABV, matured in a mixture of hand-selected American oak casks and European oak butts before being vatted together.

Murray Cohen's Tasting Notes:

Colour: Mahogany-Amber.

Nose: Dark fruit, pungent meadow flowers, thick honey, berries and more than a few slices of fruit cake.

Taste: Full-bodied and syrupy. Fruity sweet with spice and oaky contributions that impress along with whispers of chocolate malt.

Finish: Long, astringent, attractive grape notes and leathery notes.

Comment: A classic Glenlivet that has the right measure.

SMW Score 92.5/100

The Glenlivet Master Distiller's Reserve Small Batch Review

The Glenlivet Master Distiller's Reserve Small Batch ReviewBottled at 40% ABV, Triple cask matured in traditional first-fill American and ex-sherry oak. This is only available duty free

Murray Cohen's Tasting Notes:

Colour: Amber.

Nose: Very fruity jam, prune nectar, mandarin oranges, Robertson’s orange marmalade, and a surge of licorice, anise and the crusty top of crème brulee. The focus then shifts to sultanas, figs, dark fruit compote and caramelized bananas.

Taste: Super creamy. A rush of assorted ice cream flavors: pralines, butter pecan, cookies and cream. A lasting flash of buttered popcorn that entertains without the need for an accompanying movie.

Finish: Long, butter cream and dark chocolate essences.

Comment: A first rate dessert dram to be recognized as great. The nose is glorious.

SMW Score 90/100

The Glenlivet Single Cask Davoch Review

The Glenlivet Single Cask Davoch ReviewBottled at 61.6% ABV, the name Davoch originates from smuggler’s route out of the Glenlivet valley (Davoch croft).

Murray Cohen's Tasting Notes:

Colour: Medium Gold.

Nose: An initial banana explosion, melon sweet with fine coconut and citrus melodies.

Taste: Full-bodied. The citrus notes intensify with a background profile shifting from a pleasant tannin aura to toasted oak like turning a page.

Finish: Spice and oak protuberances with underlying little bundles of sweetness.

Comment: A cask strength bite of the dragon. A few drops of water mellows-out the whisky and tames the dragon.

SMW Score 89.5/100

The Glenlivet Single Cask Hogshead Review

The Glenlivet Single Cask Hogshead ReviewBottled at 59.4% ABV.

Murray Cohen's Tasting Notes:

Colour: Light Gold.

Nose: Fancy perfume is exuded along with a growing monolith encompassing sweetness, i.e., lilacs, nougat, Turkish delight, hot chocolate and crème brulee.

Taste: Full-bodied and creamy. The sweetness evolves with heightened pistachio nuts and slabs of honey.

Finish: Long, the thick sweetness intersects with spice and fruit compote with apples and fried plantains.

Comment: A wonderful melange of aromas and flavors from start to finish.

SMW Score 93.5/100

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