Vintage Beacon 2009: The Single Malt Scotch Tasting

Getting ready hours ahead for a single malt Scotch tasting, I was pleased with how nice our dining room looked.  The table glittered with blond and golden hues as the bottles were set out and anxious to be enjoyed.

scvbeacon logo squareSpring water was at each place setting for the “aroma dilute”.  My husband Eddie had made sliders and several other cheeses, meats, nuts and chocolate for our version of charcuterie.  A fresh box of Pepcid AC lay next to the pour-out bucket.

I wanted more than 6 Scotches, but relied on Eddie’s better judgment.
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  Pouring roughly a ¾ shot of each might be more than the party could tolerate.  He planned to watch for any problems and then add more Scotch to the tasting at the end.

I wondered who was going to be able to tell if everyone was all right; everyone was drinking.

Two of our guests had been bed-ridden with a nasty flu and I lingered, for about a minute, with the thought of how to make it up to them.  A doggie bag of leftovers would never do.  First because they would miss the lecture portion, second because I was way too gluttonous.

So, without further ado, this is what we laid out for the tasting: Littlemill 1990 16 year-old lowland (the only lowland selection) bottled by Signatory, Macallan Fine Oak 10 year-old, Glenmorangie 15 year-old, Lismore Speyside, Talisker Isle of Skye and the usual big finisher, Laphroig.

Maybe it was because it was the first Scotch for my anxious palate, or the fact that the color was so delicate, but I was enamored with the Littlemill.  I noted a sharp nose straight and with the spring water dilute. Creamy mouthfeel, sweet taste…it was indeed mine.  So much so that, for the first time in my drinking history, I used my note-taking pen and wrote my name right on the label.  I didn’t want to forget (or share) this one.  I looked it up later:

Signatory is an independent bottler of rare Single Malts that would otherwise be lost to the blenders. They select their casks from large lots of the highest quality scotch. Light filtration ensures the 86 proof malts maintain their natural flavors.
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They are “all natural,”no caramel color is added to change the taste of the Scotch.


Then we meandered through the Macallan 10 year old, adding (yes, we couldn’t wait) a 17 year old for comparison.  My notes showed both to be light and mild.  Moving on, all agreed that the forth Scotch, the Glenmorangie, was smoky and the most floral. 

Next came the Lismore, from Speyside, my least favorite because it’s by the east coast facing the North Sea and showed a definite salty, musty, old shoe flavor.  Eddie was impressed with it saying that it surpassed his expectations, if you want to give it a try.

The Talisker was not as strong as a true Islay Scotch.  We paired that with a dark chocolate and it helped those of us unaccustomed or uncomfortable with the flavor.  One guest remarked, “It’s not all rainbows and unicorns.”

Then came the traditional last Scotch in single malt tastings, the “angry one” carrying the most peat, Laphroig.  The other female guest in attendance felt it was “oily”.  We pulled one more angry Scotch from our liquor cabinet, Ardberg, aptly called “the skull and cross bones” by another drinker.  We were officially done.

The guests were grateful to be given a chance to go back and drink their favorites.  Except for my Littlemill.  That had been swiftly hidden in the recesses of my personal cabinet…