After our fairly in depth tour of the distillery we returned to the conference room next to the offices for a tutored tasting with Dr Bill. On the table in front of us sat seven little tulip glasses with lids and a jug of Tarlogie Springs water. We got a quick slide show about the wood management program before we started tasting.
Sample no 1.
This was a colourless liquid that was revealed to be neat spirit before ageing. On the nose it had a rough pruney aroma about it, that actually put me in mind of some grappas that Ive had in the murky past. But after adding a drop of water to it, the aromas became more floral - acacia and white roses with a touch of oriental spices. The taste was surprisingly clean with a sort of sweetness about it that I hadnt expected.
Sample no 2.
10 year Glenmorangie. Quite apple like aromas with spicy floral notes. With the addition of water the aromas became more like Verbena with a touch of Geranium and honey, like a trendy herbal tea. Without water the taste was quite harsh and prickly on my tongue, but after a dash of water the whisky was really smooth with a kind of unroasted almond and honey flavour with exotic herbs. Im getting to appreciate this more as I get older I think.
Sample no 3.
This was the Artisan Cask sample, there was quite a dominant aroma of mint with bitter chocolate and pain epice, but I think I also found a touch of cobnut in there too. After adding a drop of water it had a more creamy nose, almost white burgundy in character, with a buttery toffee essense to it. Tasting it before the water was added I found it quite aggressive with rich warming spices and caramelised nuts, but with a touch of Tarlogie water in it became more minted with pineapple like fruit flavours and a creamy finish. I really liked this one with water.
Sample no 4.
Much darker colour, to be expected for an 18year old. I was instantly reminded of Crunchies by this one, chocolate and honeycomb, but more cinder toffee than Cadbury's. There were hints of white flowers in the nose too, but they seemed to be shy. With water it became more Baklava in character, nuts drenched in honey with some chopped dates throughout. I didnt taste this because I was beginning to feel a bit pissed by this stage.
Sample no 5.
Slight pinkish tinge gives this away as the Portwood finish. This was easy - proper turkish delight, dusted with icing sugar with pastilles of 90%+ cocoa mass. There was also a slightly aftershave like aroma that Bill identified as Sandalwood. I was pissed by now.
Sample no 6.
Im getting a bit confused because I think this was the last sample that I made notes for, but Im sure there were a few more. This was a cask sample from a special cask of the Sherry wood that has had somewhere in the region of 7 years extra maturation in the Sherry buts. The colour was a rich golden amber. On the nose it was a touch sulphurous with strong aromas of honeycomb and ginger spices. Almost gingerbread like flavours, the sherry has really dominated the character of the whisky and you would struggle to identify the Glenmorangie underneath.
Head swimming we came to the end of the tasting and we had a quick question and answer session before being driven down to Glenmorangie house where we would spend the night being tortured in Glenmorangies unique way!