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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Tuesday Tasting: 18 Year Old Single Malts

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we sample some 18 year old single malts from Scotland.

The new issue of DRAFT magazine is out and it has an article that I wrote about the joys of 18 year old Scotch. As the demand for Scotch increases around the globe the prices for aged malts climb -- and it will get harder to find some of the older expressions. Maturing whisky properly consumes a great deal of time and resources for Scotch makers.

For Scotch, 18 years represents not only longevity, but also a proper passage of time for the barrels to have married with the liquid and the angels to have taken an appropriate share of the precious whisky. There are older whiskies available that offer amazing sensory experiences, but 18-year-old Scotch makes a statement that few drinks can match.

Here are the single malts tasted for the story.

Auchentoshan 18 Year Old:
This Lowlands 86 proof whisky is a bright golden color. It has a malty nose, with a coating texture that is mellow and smooth. As the drink opens it has hints of grassy bitterness, citrus, vanilla and oak.

Bowmore 18 Year Old Single Malt:
This 86 proof Islay whisky is copper color and has a nice level of smoky sweetness in the aroma. The taste begins with a good amount of peat and spice, offering up dark cocoa and a hint of tobacco. The taste of the sea in the finish reminds you of where the whisky is made.

Bunnahabhain 18 Year Old:
This 86 proof single malt from Islay is golden color with an aroma that offers up sweet floral and grassy notes. It has a warm, rich, coating flavor. The peat is present, yet subdued with a nice balancing toffee sweetness around the edges.

Caol Ila 18 Year Old:
This 86 proof Islay single malt is a golden hue and it offers up a nice hit of peat aroma. There are firm smoke and sea notes throughout the whisky, with a good balancing citrus fruit tartness.

Glenfiddich Ancient Reserve 18 Year Old Single Malt: This Speyside whisky is 86 proof. It is an impressive tarnished brass color, with an enticing herbal nose. The flavor opens with mellow wood and a touch of toffee in the finish.

The Glenlivet 18 Year Old Single Malt: This Speyside whisky has a tarnished brass appearance and weighs in at 86 proof. The mellow nose has a hit of vanilla at the front. There is a nice measure of smoke in the taste profile that continues with pecans, heather, honey and a solid oak finish.

Highland Park 18 Year Old Single Malt:
This whisky is distilled on the Orkney Islands, making it the most northern of all Scotches on the market. Copper color with an inviting mellow aroma that shows a hint of honey, it is 86 proof. There is a good level of smoke and iodine levels in the base flavor of this well built malt. It is smooth, but has a slight ginger finish.

The Macallan 18 Year Old Single Malt: Distilled in 1988 and matured in sherry casks, this whisky is a nice amber color. There is a sweet nose overall in this 86 proof package. The flavor bed is rich with the oak cooperage and has a slight peat note.

Talisker 18 Year Old Single Malt:
This 91.6 proof whisky comes from the Isle of Skye. Beautiful amber color. Slightly sweet nose with a hint of peat smoke. This full bodied whisky has hints of toffee and vanilla that are finished off with smoke and a solid spicy note.

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