With a lineup of whiskies that looked as dark and menacing as they did enticing, and the promise of the ceremonial butchering of an unsuspecting haggis to then be served with neeps and tatties, this looked to be a tasting that might live up to its name. This was, of course, Best of the Best 2018 - the big one - and what follows is a distillation of the collective thoughts of 100 attendees...
Craigellachie Old Malt Cask 1995 22yo 50% - Score 7.86 (7th)
A visit to the sweet shop. Lemon drops, sherbet and banana lollies sit on a dusty counter, whilst spray, to fend off the fruit flies, lingers in the air. A handful of sweets consumed hastily when the shopkeeper turns his back offers an unexpected aniseed gobstopper, and pepper spice joins the confected medley meandering in the mouth.
Ardmore Gordon & Macphail 1998/2018 53.5% - Score 8.2 (6th)
A match struck by a soot encrusted miner some 500 ft underground reveals a surprise birthday celebration arranged by his co-workers. Candles flicker atop a chocolate orange cake, adorned with cocktail cherries and caramel lumps, and when extinguished with a hearty blow, the candles add wax and sulphur notes to the air.
Glen Scotia Victoriana 51.5% - Score 8.67 (4th) (currently out of stock but more coming)
A garden picnic with a spread of honey sandwiches, cupcakes and muffins; the hum of bumblebees amongst the lavender can be heard and scents of cereal waft from a distant barley field. Jasmine tea is consumed to fend off the heat, however Granny is having a dry sherry and what was Gramps adding to his tea from a hip flask procured from his inside jacket pocket?
Glendronach 27yo 1990 #7003 55.3% - Score 9.46 (2nd)
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean a clipper is transporting tea, coffee and an assortment of fruit (citrus and raisins) from the colonial old world. Sun bakes down on the briny, tar stained deck as the sailors work tirelessly to keep things shipshape. Meanwhile, the captain has retired to his room for lunch and smokes a cigar whilst eating pudding.
Ben Nevis Signatory 1991 26yo 56.5% - Score 8.40 (5th)
It's tea time after school and mum can't be bothered to cook - fish and chips are on the kitchen table, home baked bread aromas fill the air and that packet of chocolates and caramels that you bought from the tuck shop at lunchtime is melting in your pocket. No worries, you'll eat them for dessert.
Talisker 57 Degrees North 57% - Score 8.72 - (3rd)
A beach barbecue, seagulls hover overhead looking for scraps as smoked kippers and onion rings sizzle. Someone has left a utensil too close to the heat and hints of rubber and burnt Teflon fill the air. A dessert of bananas, apples and maple syrup is being prepped for afters.
Glenburgie Gordon & Macphail 1995/2017 56.5% - Score 9.53 (Winner)
It is hunting season in the Black Forest. A dead deer lies on the ground in a clearing where the grass has been freshly cut and is surrounded by leather clad huntsmen and women. They enjoy a celebratory slice of Black Forest gateau, accompanied by shots of Jagermeister and grappa, before getting back onto their bristling horses and riding off into the thicket.
Click the links for those available at Regional Wines - including the final bottle of 27yo Glendronach!