Sample 1: Berrys' Longmorn, 19-year-old - 46%
This was the first dram to settle in the glass and it made a wonderful starter to the evening. On the nose I got a paper bag full of pear drops, along with banana skins, oranges, a shovelful of damp earth, candied peel and a hefty dollop of butter icing.
Swirling it around my parched gob was a delight, as this Longmorn had a lovely viscosity to it. There was also fruit honey, a sliver of caramel, a shake of salt and a couple of pineapple cubes thrown in for good measure. The finish was a decent length and left the taste of sticky black liquorice. Lovely stuff.
Sample 2: Tiffon Chateau de Triac cognac- roughly 50 years old - 40%
Steve and the Whisky Lounge crew must have been sniggering away as myself and the other tasters tried to get to grips with this cognac. That's right, a cognac, not a whisky. I thought something was slightly amiss, but I was thinking it was a rum. This smelled utterly delicious, with thick cut orange marmalade, Jelly Tots, cola bottles, pine nuts, scented soap, dried fruit, fennel seeds and whacking great rum notes happily slapped me across the chops.
A swig, and I initially got a galleon-full of dark rum notes, which were quickly followed by sweet baked oranges and spiced apples. There were also treacle and calvados notes seducing my tastebuds.
An utterly magnificent dram and I'm seriously tempted to lay down the £100 needed to secure a bottle of this amazing spirit from Berry Bros & Rudd. Stunning.
Sample 3: AnCnoc Rutter - 46%
I have previously enjoyed a bottle of the AnCnoc 12 year old - tasting notes soon - but tasting this blind, I was way off the mark. Rather than that easy going fruity goodness we've come to expect from this splendid Aberdeenshire distillery, this was something totally different. On the nose I immediately got peat-smoked vanilla yoghurt (just go with the flow, folks), mashed bananas and a scoop of tart passion fruit. It smelled lovely and the range and intensity of aromas constantly changed. On the palate, I was greeted with light, creamy vanilla but it was beautifully balanced with charred wet embers, even more bananas and a slight cinnamon spice. Quite lovely and another bottle on the shopping list.
Sample 4: SMWS 53.197: A Stoker in Drag - 57.4%
This final dram of the night confused me greatly. Maybe it was the shock of tasting a peated AnCnoc previously, but I convinced myself this was a peated Speysider, and proudly nailed my colours to the BenRiach mast. I was, of course, completely wrong - this SMWS bottling is actually a single cask beauty from Caol Ila.
On the nose, this was very floral with torn spearmint, freshly cut grass, peat smoke, salt and a hint of marzipan.
Taking a sip of this waxy brew and I got lots of billowing smoke, but it was offset with apples and golden syrup. One of my fellow tasters said malt loaf and that instantly clicked with me. It was like opening a loaf of Soreen for the first time... wax wrapper and all!
It was yet another fabulous night of drams and surprises and while I enjoyed all four, the cognac and the AnCnoc Rutter were my gold and silver medallists. All I need to do now is start saving so I get full bottles of each!