Tuesday, 5 April 2016

A Memorable Night At Acla Da Fans

Last week I attended a stunning tasting again. It took place in a village 10 minutes away from Zurich so after I was done with classes at the university I took the train to go to an event that would turn out to be one of my greatest whisky experiences. I didn't know anyone that attended the tasting in real life but I knew a lot of them through a Swiss whisky forum. Right after I got there a guy came to me and greeted me because he recognized me from my profile picture. He then introduced me to other people from the Whisky Forum. This was really nice and I apreciated it because I participated in some bottle sharings and had arranged that I could get the sample bottles at this tasting. After I completed the deal I took a seat right next to the guy who shared three fantastic bottles (I won't tell you what they are yet so you have to read it in another article, cheeky right?) and introduced myself to the other people at the table. Then before the tasting even started the dramming action began because some of the other people at my table passed around samples. I got to try a new Japanese whisky called the Fujikaj. If you have read some reviews of this whisky you might question the state of my mental health but I just wanted to test if it is really that bad (The chap who brought the sample didn't like it aswell, so please don't insult him in the comment box please). My conclusion was that all those reviews were right to tear this whisky apart as it was one of if not the single worst whisky I've come across so far. It smelled like burnt rubber and wasn't really palatable aswell. Thomas, the guy who served me this, made up for it by serving me a 15 years old Bowmore bottled by Malts of Scotland.

Then the tasting began and they kicked it off with the a travel retail exclusive - The Glenmorangie the Tayne. This expression of the Glenmorangie is the second in a series called the Legends Collection. It was matured in ex-bourbon casks (surprise, surprise, it's Glenmorangie after all) and then got a finish in amontillado sherry casks. It was quit a nice in the nose but for my taste it lacked depth and power on the palate.

The second dram that we got served was bottled by Acla Da Fans in collaboration with The Whisky Agency. it was 27 years old Glen Moray, matured in a bourbon hogshead. It is bottled at 46.5% ABV which isn't cask strength but a good strength. This was a very interesting, spirit driven whisky with a very dominant malty note. Delicious!

The third whisky was a 16 years old Highland Park by Signatory Vintage. It's bottled at 57.1% ABV cask strength and was matured in bourbon barrels. The host pointed out that on the paper it is quite similar to the recently released "limited" (30'000 bottles!) release called Highland Park Ice. The Ice edition is 17 years old, also matured in bourbon casks and it is bottled at 53.9%. Luckily some of the chaps from the whisky forum made a bottle share (which I didn't participate in) and one of the guys at my table decided to pass around his sample to compare. I have to say that I liked the Signatory Vintage far more than the Ice. The Ice was nice in the nose but on the palate it lacked complexity and was a tad too bitter. Thanks to Lukas for letting me compare those two!

We then continued with an Indian single malt whisky. It was a 4 years old single cask from the Amrut Distillery, made from Indian barley, matured in a PX Sherry Cask and bottled at a whopping 62.8% ABV. If you think that 4 years old is very young for a whisky please consider that climate in Bangalore is way different to Scotland and with hotter temperature whisky matures faster (like you can observe with Kavalan). The downside to this is that the angels share (the whisky that gets lost during maturation) is way higher there - Over the 4 years 39% of the content in the cask evaporated. I have to state here that normally I am a huge fan of Amrut, especially their single cask bottlings but this one didn't quite live up to the expectations. It tasted like a fruit brandy and was a rather unbalanced malt overall. Don't worry Amrut I still love you though and I got something special tucked away for another review, watch this space!

What then followed was a very special whisky. It was another joint bottling by Acla Da Fans and The Whisky Agency called somwhere in Speyside. This is a sherry cask matured undisclosed malt from Speyside (who would have thought?). Please note that it doesn't say single malt so it could well contain whisky from different distilleries. The host told us that it could well be from Glenfarclas. Whats' special about this whisky is its age. It was distilled in 1977 and matured for 38 years. It's bottled at 46.8% ABV which isn't the natural cask strength as usual by bottlings from The Whisky Agency. It was a really nice sherry whisky which was very well balanced and not bitter as I had feared. This was a cracker of a dram and the only flaw that you could point out was that it lacked a bit of power, pity that we didn't get it at it's original cask strength which was at about 51% ABV as the host pointed out. Still a very memorable malt moment though.

The next whisky was the Talisker Neist Point which is available through travel retail since last autumn. After trying it we labelled it as a "Talisker light" as it didn't have the same peppery punch as the rest of the bunch (think I should consider a career as a rapper). Don't get me wrong, we really enjoyed this one and thought it was a good whisky but it just wasn't typical Talisker. Maybe this is an option for people who usually don't enjoy Talisker.

After this Talisker we continued with a whisky from one of my favourit distilleries - Springbank. The expression that we tasted was the 10 years old, batch 15/489, bottled at 46% ABV. This whisky is a true bang for your buck as you can get it for 60 Swiss Franks here and for about 33 Pounds in UK. Serge from Whiskyfun.com gave this whisky 91 out of  100 which means quite something.

The last whisky we tasted was another Signatory cask strength bottling, this time from the Tobermory Distillery. It was a Ledaig (peated Tobermory) that was matured in a first fill sherry butt for 9 years and then bottled at 56% ABV. This is a really bold whisky with tons of flavour and a nice punch. I loved this one.

At normal tastings people would have called it an evening and left but not here. You could get a second serving of any whisky that you wanted and suddenly more sample bottles popped up and were passed around. I got to taste a brilliant 23 years old Bowmore, bottled by The Whisky Agency for Three Rivers Tokyo, a 12 years old Caol Ila bottled by Gordon & MacPhail exclusively for a friends shop and a stunning cask strength Lagavulin, bottled for the Islay Jazz Festival 2015.

The stunning Lagavulin 
I can't state enough how great this evening was. The people there were all absolute whisky freaks and they were really kind to me. The host Stefan was as knowledgeable as it can get and some of the whiskies that were presented were true crackers. It was also nice to finally meet some of the people from the whisky forum in real life. Thank you all for having me and next time I will certainly bring along some whisky too. Sorry that I didn't take more pictures but I was too busy enjoying this night so please forgive me.

Slàinte mhath, U


  1. As usual, you put us right in the thick of things, U! Thanks for taking the time to share so much of a brilliant evening with us! I know what you mean about photos - if my husband doesn't come to events, I have to remember to take photos! He is usually my photographer! And drinking Scotch, laughing and concentrating on the whisky always seems much more important!

    1. Thanks a lot for your kind words Catherine, really apreciate it. I encounter that problem with the photos so often but I think it's better to focus on the moment and enjoy the event. Nevertheless I want to try and take more pics for future events.