Getting Good Head: SCOTCH!

Note: This article is hosted here for archival purposes only. It does not necessarily represent the values of the Iron Warrior or Waterloo Engineering Society in the present day.

Good evening loyal readers,

This week we will not be talking about what we are drinking at the moment, which happens to be the Ammarone which we wrote about in article two, but rather what we drank a couple weeks ago, which is Scotch!

On June 23 Derek and Graeme had a grand adventure and took Bill’s Distillers Edition Scotch Class, and it was [Spoiler Alert] wonderful. This class was intended to be a follow up to Bill’s Scotch 101 class, which Derek and I were both unable to attend, luckily we have Kayla here, who did attend and can fill us in on what we missed.

Well that’s two paragraphs down, WINE BREAK…..and we’re back.

The Distillers Edition class covers four Distillers Edition Scotches and provides background information into how Scotch is distilled, the history of distillation in Scotland, how Scotch is tasted, how to properly serve Scotch, which was all covered very briefly, as much of this was taught in depth at the Scotch 101 class. The course also went very in depth into the flavours of each of the Scotches, and how those flavours were developed in the distilling process. For the price of only $25 we were rewarded with four Scotches, and learned a lot too, but less than what we would have learned if we went to Scotch 101. The trade-off here is that we did get nicer Scotch. All in all it was a surprisingly educational, tasty and delightful afternoon with one Bill Thompson (no relation).

The four Scotches which we tried were, in order: Lagavulin Distillers Edition, Caol Ila Distillers Edition, Oban Distillers Edition and Cragganmore Distillers Edition. All of these scotches were quite tasty, as we will get into later. A Distillers Edition is a Scotch which is taken aside by the distillery master after the standard aging time and modified for further aging as the distillery master sees fit. Of particular importance in this process are the cask, and environment in which the Scotch is finished, both of which can affect the flavour.

NOW, on to the Scotch!

The first Scotch we tasted was the Lagavulin Distillers Edition. The first thing to note about this Scotch is that “it hits you like a freight train.” This Scotch has very strong smoky flavours which are very overpowering, however a nice underlying sweetness can be found as well, if you give it time. As we learned in class, the proper way to drink a Scotch is one drop at a time, and to allow it to sit in your mouth for ten seconds before swallowing, allowing all the flavours to fully develop. To properly drink two Scotch and smoke a cigar is supposed to take four hours. The Lagavulin in particular needs this to get the full flavour to come across. Also of note is a strong medicinal taste, which comes from the Lagavulin Distillery being on the south coast of the island of Islay, where the casks are aged in the sea breezes, which adds a considerable note of iodine flavour to the Scotch. All in all we give the Lagavulin 4.2 Surly Bartenders out of 5.

Next up is the Caol Ila, which was much lighter in colour than the three other scotches. The scotch itself was much less smokey and had some very nice milk chocolate flavours. While being somewhat bland in comparison, the Caol Ila was still quite nice, and would be particularly good for those who do not enjoy the smokier scotches. Derek pointed out that this would be a very nice scotch to enjoy on the deck of a cabin overlooking a lake, or a similar body of water. Overall the Caol Ila was very nice, but in comparison to the others we tasted it was somewhat less flavourful, particularly when it came to the earthier flavours. Overall we give it 3.9 Surly Bartenders out of 5.

Now on to the Oban, by far the best of the bunch. This scotch had a very strong dark chocolate flavour with a nice hint of blackberry sweetness. Derek and I did not quite agree on the blackberry flavour, but Derek wasn’t quite able to pinpoint a particular fruit flavour, and was more surprised at the “fruity flavour” of the scotch, so I’m sticking with blackberry. There was also a nice hint of smokiness to the finish of the Oban, but not nearly as overpowering as what we saw with the Lagavulin. This was by far our consensus favourite of the day both for it’s rich flavours and it’s mild finish, overall we give it 4.7 Surly Bartenders out of 5. Just great.

Last of all was the Cragganmore, which was far more complex than any of the other scotches we tried. It was definitely delicious, but it was difficult at times to pinpoint any particular flavours which contributed to its deliciousness. It was pointed out to us by Bill that several reviewers have found a “banana bacon” flavour to the scotch, which sounds ridiculous, but after tasting turns out to be somewhat true. There is a definitive banana taste to the scotch with a lighter smokey flavour, which the bacon, in banana bacon can be attributed to. Much of the scotches complexity comes from its finishing in Port casks. Overall, the Cragganmore was quite tasty, we just aren’t completely sure why. We give it 4.2 Surly Bartenders out of 5.

Well gosh darn it, it looks like we’re running out of space. Sadly we cannot include everything we learned from the lesson in this article as we would run out of space. So we encourage you to, if you ever get the chance, attend a Scotch tasting at Kickoff, for $25 it is well worth the price for the Scotch alone. We give Scotch tasting 5 Surly Bartenders out of 5.

Join us next time, where we will discuss the effect of our Fourth Year Design Projects on ourselves.


Leave a Reply