Single Malt Scotch 10-15
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Best Single Malt Scotch, 10-15 Years Old

The earliest known reference of spirits distilling in Scotland is 1494, but it can be assumed that it was practiced there much earlier. Scotland now has over 100 malt distilleries producing malts that can be called “Scotch”. To bear that appellation, a whisky must be distilled and matured in oak barrels for at least three years in Scotland. The term “Scotch” is proprietary – but the term “Single-Malt Whisky” can be applied to malt whiskies produced in other countries. Single malt scotch is produced entirely by distillations from one producer or distillery, using only malted barley as the grain, and distilled in copper pot stills.

You want to make scotch whisky? (Simpified, of course.)
- First you've got to be in Scotland.
- Then you harvest the barley.
- Soak the barley in tanks filled with local spring water for 2-3 days.
- Spread out the wet barley on the floor to germinate for 6-7 days, turning regularly by shoveling.
- Germination is stopped by drying out the barley in large kilns fueled by peat (in various proportions). This is called 'malting'. Smoke from the fire drifts upwards to dry out the barley. This is when you get the distinctive smoky, peaty flavor characteristic of many Scottish malts.
- Grind the malted barley into 'grist' in a 'grist mill'.
- Soak the grist in a large vat of heated local spring water, converting the starches into sugary sweet liquid known as 'wort'.
- Transfer the wort to a fermenting vat, add yeast, and fermentation begins to convert the wort to alcohol, referred to as 'wash'.
At this point the process is very similar to beer brewing.
- The wash is distilled twice in swan-necked copper pot stills, which separates the alcohol from the wash.
- The fermented liquid is heated and the alcohol vaporizes, rising up through the swan neck, passing over the head of the still, and routed through condensers to revert back to liquid.
- The liquid is tranferred to another still and the process is repeated for the second distillation.
- This is where the art comes into play, when only the "middle cut" of the spirit that achieves the required standard is collected. The rest goes through the process again.
- The colorless liquid proof is then either sold to whisky blenders, or matured in sherry casks to produce (after a number of years) single malt scotch whisky.

The wide range of subtleties and complexities can be attributed to the different regions in Scotland where the whiskies are produced. The result is a richly flavored whisky, highly individualistic in nature and diverse in taste. Speyside, situated on—or near—the Spey River boasts about half of Scotland’s distilleries, produces malts that are sweet, mellowed and fruity. Highlands whiskies tend to be quite varied, spicier with hints of smoke and peat. To the south, the Scottish Lowlands produce softer, lighter, maltier whiskies. Campbeltown malts tend to be briny, salty and lightly peated. Whiskies from the Scottish coastlines, Islay and the islands are often briny, heavily peated and smoky.

Although most single malt whiskies are in fact blends, the difference between single malt and blended scotch is that blends are a combination of barrel-aged malt (often sourced from different distilleries) and grain whiskies. Although blended scotch is still dominant in volume, the increasing popularity of single malt scotch has seen rapid growth in recent years.

 

The Fifty Best Single Malt Scotch 10-15 yo Tasting

 

The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 18 single malt scotch whiskies, aged 10-15 years with 19 pre-qualified judges. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. Each of the single malts were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room temperature. Only ice water, neutral unflavored crackers and bar snacks were available to cleanse the palate. The judges tasted through two flights of 7 single malts and one flight of 4.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold and Gold medals are awarded based on a set range of final point scores received from the judges. Due to the unusually high and extremely close final scoring by the judges, no silver or bronze medals were awarded in this tasting.

The tasting notes which follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions. Ties are listed alphabetically. The regions of origin are identified for each brand.

 

SINGLE MALT SCOTCH (10-15 y.o.) TASTING RESULTS:

 

Oban 14

DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

1. Oban 14 - (Highland)

Nose: Floral, rose, morning dew, faint vanilla, banana, cola notes, mature oak, peat, wood-aged. Palate: Vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, honey, almond extract, orange peel, lemon notes, hints of pear, apple, dried fruit, caramel, honey, creamy, nutty, malt, oak, supple, well crafted, elegant. Finish: Buttery, caramel, layers of citrus, peppery, spice, classic.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



2. Speyburn 10 - (Highland)

Nose: Floral, delicate citrus, fruity, coconut, vanilla, malt, oak, armagnac. Palate: Vanilla, butter, creamy, caramel, honey, nuts, almond, raisins, cinnamon, wheat, toasted bread, myrtle, wood, layers of oak, faint spice, smooth. Finish: Light caramel, toffee, citrus, dried fruits, spicy, smoke refined, nice.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Speyburn 10


Talisker 10



3. Talisker 10 - (Isle of Skye)

Nose: Floral, fruity, citrus, creamy vanilla, slight caramel, cola, root beer, mild oak. Palate: Robust vanilla, sweet honey, butterscotch, caramel, layers of cream, toffee, dried fruit, dark fruit, citrus, pepper, spicy, clove, peat, oak, fantastic. Finish: Smoky, malt, peppery, spicy, dry, even.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



4. Three-Way Tie -
Arran 14 - (Isle of Arran)

Nose: Dates, dried fruits, cherry, pineapple, coconut, vanilla, butter, nutty, faint rose, lightly floral. Palate: Toffee, vanilla, salt caramel, cinnamon, spice, ginger, slight lavender, citrus notes, black pepper, oak, dry, amazing, classic. Finish: Wood, peppery, spicy, briny, salt, cereal, smooth, intoxicating, beautiful, medium-long.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Arran 14


Jura 10



Jura 10 - (Isle of Jura)

Nose: Butter, vanilla, cream, citrus, leather, malt, honeysuckle. Palate: Vanilla, honey, sweet, buttery, raisins, citrus, herbal, grassy, hot pepper, nutmeg, clove, smoky oak, cedar, woody, peat, salty notes, maritime, dry. Finish: Licorice, orange peel, creamy, smoky, peaty, touch of wood, clean, smooth, classic, short.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Tomatin 12 - (Highland)

Nose: Orange, dried fruit, floral, vanilla, caramel, clove, fruity, malty, briny, leather, sweet oak. Palate: Cinnamon, vanilla, slight honey, notes of banana and tropical fruits, candied fruit, lemon citrus, hint of chocolate, licorice, pepper, spice, smoky, oak, cedar, floral, clean, enjoyable. Finish: Light fruit, apricots, hint of floral, citrus notes, creamy, light peat, peppery, spicy, dry, clean, smooth, well-rounded, short.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Tomatin 12


Ardbeg Corryvreckan



5. Three-Way Tie -
Ardbeg Corryvreckan - (Islay)
Aged 10 years

Nose: Floral, citrus, orange, orange peel, dried fruits, currants, vanilla, peaty, woody, maritime, sea spray, salt air. Palate: Dark fruits, dark chocolate, dry, brut, clover, malt, oak, cedar, peat, smoky, maritime, savory. Finish: Spicy, peppery, oak, toffee, almond, butter, briny, smoke, smooth, long.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Ardbeg Uigeadail - (Islay)
Aged 12 years

Nose: Almond, cashew, citrus, bell pepper, peat, cola notes, maritime. Palate: Caramel, toffee, slight molasses, cola notes, spicy, white pepper, clove, ginger, floral, oak, peaty, smoky, briny, iodine, pepper. Finish: Dried fruit, layers of cream, spicy, peppery, dry.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Ardbeg Uigeadail


Lagavulin 12



Lagavulin 12- (Islay)

Nose: Honey, raisins, dried currants, banana, floral, peat. Palate: Peppery, spicy oak, dark chocolate, vanilla, cream, caramel, sweet cherry, fruit cake, nutty, smoke, peaty, earthy notes, brine, layers of oak, liquid gold, smooth, beautiful, amazing. Finish: Peppery, spicy, salty, caramel, layers of cream, oak, long, nice, smooth, lovely.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Benromach 10- (Speyside)

Nose: Vanilla, cream pie, chocolate, banana, raisins, dark currants, merlot, spicy, nutty, malt, faint oak. Palate: Amaretto, hazelnut, toffee, dried fruits, citrus fruit, melon, cereal, creamy, cinnamon, almond, ginger, pepper, spice, briny, Port wine, well-balanced. Finish: Hint of orange, cream, vanilla, spicy, peppery, cognac, smoke, classic.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Benromach 10


Ballechin #6 Bourbon Cask



Ballechin #6 Bourbon Cask - (Highland)

Nose: Caramel, cream, peat, oak, wood, smoky, briny, maritime. Palate: Vanilla, coffee, maple, peppery, peaty, smoke, cedar, woody, spice, smooth, very nice. Finish: Oaky, wood, creamy, butter, brine, peat, mellow.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Ardbeg Galileo - (Islay)
Aged 12 years

Nose: Malty, subtle notes of vanilla, oaky, woody, peaty, spicy, smoke, salty, sea air. Palate: Vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, floral notes, tobacco, oak, peaty, brine, smoky, nutty, peppery, delicate, well-rounded, well-balanced, beautiful. Finish: Spicy ginger, spicy, creamy, salty, smoke, bright, nice, very smooth, medium.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Ardbeg Galileo


Usquaebach



Usquaebach - (Highland)
Aged 15 years

Nose: Vanilla, honey, butter, Graham cracker, faint coffee, floral, nutty, briny, oily, rum notes. Palate: Treacle, toffee, vanilla, caramel, slight cream, cinnamon, clove, mocha, malt, tobacco, light oak, peat, mild pepper, smooth, well-balanced, very nice. Finish: Peppery, spicy, smooth, even, great.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Edradour 10 - (Highland)

Nose: Citrus, vanilla, toffee, dried fruits, cocoa, praline, almond, hazelnuts, cloves, spice, allspice, malt. Palate: Fruity, floral, citrus, orange peel, raspberry, honey sweetness, caramel, toffee, chocolatey, coffee, biscuit, nutty, earthy, hot pepper, ginger, spice, oak, dry. Finish: Caramel, dark chocolate, Graham cracker, brine, clean, smooth, savory, medium.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Edradour 10


Ardbeg 10



Ardbeg 10- (Islay)

Nose: Peaty, vanilla, caramel, banana, earthy, oak, ash, smoky. Palate: Peaty, oak, creamy, hints of vanilla, pepper, salty, maritime, smoky, peaty, cedar, ash, nice, well-balanced. Finish: Toffee, caramel, wood, spicy, savory, smooth, medium.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Aberfeldy 12 - (Highland)

Nose: Bitter chocolate, banana, orange peel, dried fruit, faint citrus, subtle sherry, almonds, clove, leather, slight brine. Palate: Fruity, raisin, cherries, dark fruit, orange peel, layered spices, cinnamon, sweet malt, creamy, peppery, cedar, oaky, mild. Finish: Peaty, oak, fruit, toffee, creamy, nutty, savory, smooth, delicate, gentle, long.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Aberfeldy 12


Signatory Laphroaig 13 Year Old 1998 - Un-Chillfiltered



Signatory Laphroaig 13 Year Old 1998 -
Un-Chillfiltered
- (Islay)

Nose: Almond, honey, spice, oily peat, brine, maritime, lightly floral. Palate: Raisins, cinnamon, spice, floral, buttery, creamy, citrusy, white pepper, nutty, malt, wood, oak, peat, ash, earthy, light smoke, smooth. Finish: Vanilla, peppery, smooth, creamy, smoky bite, balanced.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



The Dalmore 12 - (Highland)

Nose: Fruity, banana, citrus, floral, accents of molasses, burnt sugar, subtle honey, toffee, butterscotch, caramel, cola, oak, cedar, fragrant. Palate: Sweet molasses, honey, toffee notes, creamy, butter, vanilla, cream soda, dark cherries, dried fruits, figs, nutty, woody, oak, sandalwood, ash, nice, mellow, enjoyable. Finish: Dark chocolate, dark fruit, cocoa, sweet, creamy, cereal, spice, slight wood, clean, smooth, long.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



The Dalmore 12

 

 

 

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Comments or questions welcome, please e-mail to: editor@thefiftybest.com

 

Comments and Suggestions:

 
Fri. January 24, 2014 11:58 AM - by: James Wilkinson
Sorry folks: Distilled thrice and in The highest copper stills in the land(Scott)Glenmorangie is the finest available for under 50 and it normally runs for $30-$35 Only the specialty varieties come at high price Glenmorangie whiskeys are rendered at perfectly regulated temps while the glory of the mist reaches over the high spout of the Glen's high copper still while the rest stay at bottom ; Their specialty Port wine-cask or sherry cask aged-aged versions of the brand are even more smooth and rewarding Baseline the price on the original beats all else for value and smooth palat' I drank 10 variety packs this past year and I confess, I have never had a fine drink like this in my life which I could ever afford
 
 
Tue. April 16, 2013 3:45 PM - by: Lisa M. Anthony
Hi,I purchased this as a gift but instead kept for it's increased value, which I'm trying to establish. I purchase this in 2001. A Single Malt Scotch Whiskey by The Balvenie Distillery,Banffshire,Scotland, in a single cask Container that is certified w/a Bottled&Numbered dates.States "aged 15 yrs", do you know it's present value to a Collector? TY
 
 
Fri. March 1, 2013 8:50 AM - by: BBQDad
How did you leave out the entire range of both The Balvenie AND The Dalwhinnie?
 
 
Fri. December 28, 2012 4:25 PM - by: Alasdair MacLean
My top 5 from there :- 1 - Lagavulin 2 - Talisker 3 - Dalmore 4 - Oban 6 - Speyburn Best whisky and its not there is Mortlach 16 y.o.
 
 
Sun. December 9, 2012 9:28 AM - by: vrh
none of the Ben Nevis bottlings???????
 
 


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