My last 17 posts have been tasting notes from the 2017 Blind Tasting Competition (BTC) organised by the Netherlands based Usquebaugh Society whisky club. Well, it’s been a week since the competition ended so I thought I’d share some of the things I learned from it.
Of the 18 samples we tried, I have only had one or two before and some where even from distilleries I’ve never tried before. Some of the distilleries I was unfamiliar with were real gems and I’ll for sure be seeking out more from them.
The competition really showed me just how little I was able to tell about a whisky’s age when tasting blind, and just how much cask influence can affect the perception of age in a whisky.
Another thing I noticed to be difficult was telling the alcohol percentage of the whisky. I can tell pretty easily when something is below 46% especially because in most cases such whiskies are also chill-filtered, totally changing the texture and body, but to make things nice and hard there were no whiskies under 46% in the competition (this was stated beforehand).
One thing I did seem to be able to do was to recognise distilleries I like, particularly with the Laphroaig, Ledaig and Springbank samples, but these tend to produce very distinctive whiskies, so having too many like that wouldn’t be too much of a challenge, but I think it means that after quite some time exploring what the world of whisky has to offer, I know what I like.
I think my favourite whiskies from the competition were the final Strathisla, the Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength and the Ballechin, with the Strathisla being one of the more surprising drams considering it’s age.
I’d really recommend doing a blind tasting compeition like this, even if you’re a total beginner as it helps to get down to the core of what you like about whisky over and above all the labels and stories and marketing.
Thanks for bearing through this with me and for reading. And of course a huge thanks to the guys at the Usquebaugh Society for organising this awesome competition and letting folks like me take part.