Last night we logged into Glengoyne Distillery’s Live Tasting Event which was streamed to an an online audience.

This was the first time Glengoyne had tried something like this with the premise of the event being to open and taste 3 different Glengoyne casks. The watching audience then voted to select their favourite and the winning cask would immediately be bottled and available for sale, initially to the event audience and then to the general public.

The event was hosted by Stephen Jardine with Brand Heritage Manager, Stuart Hendry and Distillery Manager Robbie Hughes providing the the tasting notes and whisky facts.

At 7pm the event got underway and we were able to watch the trio standing in a very chilly-looking Glengoyne warehouse, firstly discussing a bit of the background of the distillery and then the casks which would be sampled. The process for each was to extract a sample using a ‘dog’, measure the alcohol content using a hydrometer and then fill the glasses for sampling. The actual samples which were tasted were poured from small duty-paid bottles which was explained as also being because the casks were so cold that the flavour would be suppressed.

All three were first-fill Oloroso Sherry casks, of similar ages and originally filled with the same new-make spirit, but as they were opened and tasted in turn, it was a great example of how the cask influences the flavour in such different ways.

Cask A was 25 years old, measured at 52.6% and came out of the cask looking like Stout to our eyes. This was obviously just the light in the warehouse as it was described as ‘coppery’ in colour. The nose was ‘sticky toffee pudding in a glass’ with the expected sherry dried fruit notes. Tasting notes included ‘sweet, dry, spiciness, red apple’ with ‘… slight bitterness on the back edge and a long finish’. Described as a great example of Glengoyne, we were off to a good start!

One interesting point which Robbie mentioned was that Sherried whisky over 20 years old rarely benefits from the addition of water. Instead of opening the whisky up as expected, it remains unaffected or worse actually loses some of the flavours from the neat spirit. Water was added to the Cask A sample but Stuart and Robbie confirmed that it didn’t help the drink at all.

Cask B was slightly older at 26 years and measured 55.1%, but what was surprising was that the alcohol strength had held, but the cask volume was much lower than expected. This was an early sign that this cask was a little bit special. The whisky colour was a little lighter than Cask A, but there was a lot more flavour on the nose ‘more fruitiness, brambles, blackberries, rum and raisin ice cream’. The tasting was far more complex with ‘sweetness, dryness, honey and slight eucalyptus / medicinal notes’. It was clear that the flavours of the whisky from Cask B were much more than expected with Robbie saying that it had the Glengoyne characteristics, but was definitely not a typical flavour and Stuart stating that it was probably the best single-cask Glengoyne he’d ever tasted!

Cask C had a lot to live up to but, at 27 years old and 53.6% it still had the potential to shine. The nose was a lot more mellow than the other casks, with less raw alcohol and lighter, sweeter flavours. The tastes were described as more complex, however it was a more ‘standard’ Glengoyne with a similarity to Cask A. Overall it was described as a very fine whisky, however we couldn’t help feeling that it wasn’t a match for the revelation that was Cask B.

After the tasting we were given about 10 minutes to cast our votes while the whiskies were summarised and a few audience question answered.

Finally at just after 8pm, it was announced that Cask B was the winner, just beating Cask C in the final minute.

The orderbook then opened immediately for those on the live event and from the comments on the chat and Twitter, it looked like it would sell well.

Overall a good event which was good fun to join in with – I wasn’t sure how successful it would be since there is a limit to how interactive it can be when you’re not tasting the same whisky, however the format worked out well and I’d join a similar event in the future. It would however be even better if they sent out a few samples in advance of the tasting so we could all join in!

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