Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Whiskey Tasting by the Dram

Taking the time to learn more the world of whisky is something that's been on my radar recently. However, tasting a wide range of whisky is not as easy as picking up a mixed six-pack of new craft beers to try. So it was fortuitous that I received an offer to review a Drinks by the Dram sampler from Master of Malt.

The folks at Master of Malt have taken numerous whiskies from their extensive offerings, packaged them into 30ml wax-sealed containers, and made the individual samplers available at a fraction of the cost of a full bottle. Drinks by the Dram makes it easy to taste a wide range of whiskies at a reasonable price. No more relying on tasting notes alone before making what can often be a substantial investment. Even some of the more rare or exclusive offerings from Master of Malt are available by the dram.

The sampler I received contained three different whiskies. I opted to split each dram with two other people, and share the experience. Even though the sample was small it was enough for all of us to get a feeling for what each whisky offered.

The first tasting was of Johnny Drum Green Label 4 Year Old. This had a sweet aroma and was smooth to drink. This struck me as a nice, classic Kentucky bourbon.

Next we opened the Master of Malt 12 Year Old Lowland. This had a woody, honey-sweet scent. It was the smoothest going down and had a sweet finish. The Old Lowland was the unanimous favorite of the three samples we tried.

And finally, Laphroaig 10 Year Old. Laphroaig was completely different from the others. The smell was burnt peat combined with an overwhelming medicinal odor. The initial flavor was strong peat, which immediately brought back memories of the peat brick fires we have in the backyard fire pit. That pleasantry is quickly replaced by the lingering medicinal flavor. Reading the comments on the Master of Malt website I gather that this iodine flavor is an acquired taste, but something that is enjoyed by fans of this whisky.

While we aren't experienced whisky reviewers, we very much enjoyed this self-guided introduction. The Masters of Malt website is also a great reference and has descriptions, along with user-submitted tasting notes, for a large assortment of whiskies. We enjoyed perusing the site as much as tasting the drinks.

Master of Malt is located in the U.K. however they do ship to the United States. I intend to spend more time on the site and hope to order a few more drams to try in the future. You can visit the Master of Mail web site here for more information.

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