W e started off with a head-to-head of Laphroaig 10 yrs. and Linkwood 15 yrs. I had a very bad nose-day, so I could only pick up some vague impressions. The Linkwood 15 seemed to have a little more smoke in the nose than the 1984; very flowery. The Laphroaig 10 was as always salty, smoky and with a lot of iodine - I picked it to introduce the malt-novices that were present to one of the extremes of the malt spectrum. They seemed suitably impressed, but most preferred the Linkwood. The Laphroaig proved quite an assault on my bladder, so I had to visit my porcelain friend.

When I returned from the toilet my collegues challenged me to do a complete blind test. I failed miserably. Only after they reduced my choices to five malts I managed to dispose of three of the five options, and was left with the choice between a Glen Ord or a Dalmore. I thought I detected bitter peanuts and guessed wrong - It was the Glen Ord 12 instead of the Dalmore 12. In my defense I have to say that both malts are quite similar, and both have the same score (80) in my rating-system.

Around 11.00 a very attractive lady with a deep decollete took position on a barstool directly in my line of sight, so it was getting more difficult to concentrate on the matter on hand: single malts. The line-up of the next head-to head managed to get my attention back where it belonged, however. It was the Johnnie Walker Blue Label against the Talisker 18 yrs. Cask Strength. The JW Blue was very nice, but no more than that. Clearly better than the JW Black, but certainly not worth the 40,- guilders per dram. The Talisker 18 yrs. Cask Strength, however, was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING! - A lot of wonderful wood; More like the Macallan 18 than the Talisker 10. Perhaps a bit early to say, but we might have a new number two malt here! Somewhere in the neighborhood of 94 points, i should say. I'm not sure I can afford a whole bottle to conform my findings, though....

The bartender seemed to appreciate my extensive knowledge of single malts and charming personality, so he poured me a few drops of Springbank 1969 - on the house. Great stuff! Apples and pepper? After a disappointing first encounter with Springbank (in the form of a 1979 version some three years ago) I wasn't too crazy about it, but after tasting this I'm starting to understand what all the fuss on the web is about. We're talking mid-to-upper 80's here. At U$ 150,- a bottle, I don't think I'll have a chance to taste it again anytime soon, though.

W e finished with a Glenfarclas 105, a Longrow 8 yrs., a Suntory Hibiki from Japan and an older Auchentoshan (can't remember which age). By that time my tongue and nose were so numb I couldn't say anything worhwile about it, except that the Longrow seemed more smokey than the Springbank, which comes from the same distillery in the Campbeltown area. I have to remember to drink a little less and make a little more notes at my next session.

The L&B's Tasting

January 8, 1999

Tasting with five ex-collegues at L&B's whiskycafe in downtown Amsterdam. They have a wonderful collection of single malts, and they are located near the central "Leidseplein", so check it out whenever your in Amsterdam.

Talisker 18 C/S, Linkwood 15,
Springbank 1969, Glen Ord 12,
Johnnie Walker Blue Label,
Suntory Hibiki, Longrow 8

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