An evening with Charles MacLean

Posted by Leo | Posted in , , , | Posted on 00:23

What:   An evenings whisky tasting with Charles MacLean (Courtesy of Regional wines & spirits)
When:  30th March 2010
Where: Firth Hall, Wellington College, Wellington, NZ
Why:    To meet Charles MacLean and taste some most salubrious whiskies yet
Who:    88 feral whisky fans, my mate Ian Jesus Hunt and of course myself.

Damn, what an absolutely awesome night of whisky tasting! 90 thirsty thirsty whisky lovers, six 'salubrious whiskies' of spectacular quality, several grown men in kilts and a set of bagpipes!

This half feral man was seen in the crowd mumbling something about Islay and looking for the faint aroma of peat!

Our own whisky expert Daniel introduced Michael Fraser Milne from Whisky Galore in Christchurch who was accompanying our keynote speaker on his tour of New Zealand. Michael gave a brief introduction to Charles MacLean outlining his many achievements and skills, then it was straight into the tasting process.

The format was a little different this time around with six delicious drams awaiting us. Each dram was identified on the tasting sheet before us and the only accompaniment was fresh water. As you can see a wonderfully diverse range colors indicating the different cask varieties used mature the whisky.

The tasting consisted of the following whiskies:

MALT: Glengarioch, 1990, Adlephi bottled, 19yo, 53.8%ABV, cask# 2697
Score: 8.34

MALT: Old Pultney, 30yo, 44% ABV
Score: 7.95

MALT: Bunnahabhain, 1986, 21yo, 46.7%, bottle 334 of 512
Score: 8.54

MALT: Glenfarclas, 1989 Family cask, 60% ABV, cask# 11721, 1 of 600 bottles, bottled 30\11\06
Score: 9.49

MALT: Benriach 1975, 33yo, 52.2% ABV, cask# 4450, Peated Tawny Port finish
Score: 8.43

MALT: Caol Ila 1979, 30yo, OMC Bottled, 50% AV, distilled Nov 79, Bottled Jan 2010, 1 of 266
Score: 9.32

All of the whiskies were salubrious but but the standout for the evening was the Glenfarclas family cask. It was my first taste of the family cask bottling and I was not disappointed. It was truly world class. Something very special. I gave it a 9.5 out of 10. I did however rate the OMC Caol Ila a 10 on general principles. It is from Islay after all!!

Charles MacLean was an excellent speaker and has a knowledge of whisky and whisky related products that is second to none. He talked about oak types, cask varieties, distillery history, peating levels and condensor construction to name but a few topics. By the end of the evening my brain was full of highly useful whisky knowledge, my glasses were empty and their contents safely winging their way towards my liver. I also managed to liberate a few extra drams from nearby so all in all it was a highly satisfying experience.

And if all that wasn't good enough, I was lucky enough to go out for dinner afterwards with Charles, Michael and a few of the regulars from regional. And needless to say a few more drams were consumed.