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 2015

 

The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of 19 single malt scotch whiskies, aged 10-15 years with 20 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, unflavored unsalted crackers and bar snacks were available to cleanse the palate. The judges tasted through two flights of 7 single malts and one flight of 5.

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 were awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. Due to the exceptionally high final scoring by the judges, no silver or bronze medals were awarded in this tasting.

The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated notes eliminated. The regions of origin are identified for each brand.

 

Here are the final results:



Laphroaig Select Single Malt Scotch



DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Laphroaig Select
(Islay)

Nose: Lemon peel, dried apricot, slight peat, malt, smoky, woody, cedar, oak.
Palate: Caramel, treacle, vanilla, buttery, creamy, coffee, peppery, herbaceous, peat, smoke, saline, briny, cedar, oak, savory.
Finish: Ginger, clove, smoky, oak, classic peat, elegant.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Glenfiddich 12
Oloroso & Bourbon Cask

(Speyside)

Nose: Honey, toffee, butterscotch, fruity, dried fruit, pear, apple, melon, citrus, toast, floral, sherry, walnut, cinnamon, clove, spicy, faint smoke.
Palate: Caramel, molasses, treacle, buttery, dark chocolate, dried fruit, stone fruit, sweet almond, cinnamon, clove, peppery, spice, smoky, cedar, oak, dry, well balanced, savory.
Finish: Chocolate, cocoa, toffee, almond, pepper, light spice, savory, soft, dry, lovely.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Glenfiddich 12 - Oloroso & Bourbon Cask Single Malt Scotch



Tomatin 14 Single Malt Scotch



Tomatin 14
(Highlands)

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, cream, toffee, brown sugar, molasses, honey, maple syrup, orange marmalade, lemon peek, verbena, banana, raisins, sweet heather, nutty, cinnamon, smoky.
Palate: Cinnamon, spice, honey, pear, orange peel, citrus, tropical fruits, dried fruit, dates, nougat, dark chocolate, sherry, pepper, pink pepper, almonds, coffee, tobacco, malt, peat, smoke, cedar, oak, integrated, extremely smooth, delicious.
Finish: Coffee, toast, leather, zesty, pepper, smooth.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Speyburn 10
(Highlands)

Nose: Light honey, sugar, cotton candy, toffee, dried fruit, floral, herbs, grain, faint smoke, cedar, oak.
Palate: Dried fruit, raisins, honey, vanilla, caramel, nougat, creamy, buttery, light buttered rum, almond, nuts, cinnamon, clove, spice, pepper, oak, well rounded.
Finish: Dried fruit, raisins, coconut, lemon, cinnamon, pepper, spicy, smoky, woody.


Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal



Speyburn 10 Single Malt Scotch



Glenfiddich 15 Single Malt Scotch



Glenfiddich 15
The Solera Vat

(Speyside)

Nose: Caramel, molasses, vanilla, cotton candy, cream, maple, chocolate, citrus, ripe banana, tropical fruit, floral, toast notes, oak.
Palate: Vanilla, honey, treacle, creamy, white chocolate, orange peel, ripe orange, cherry, raisins, dried fruit, sherry, floral, cinnamon, pepper, smoke, oak, perfect wood, very well balanced, lush, nice all around, beautiful melody.
Finish: Dried fruit, creamy, smooth, floral, spicy, woodsy.


Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal





Talisker 10
(Isle of Skye)

Nose: Dried fruit, orange peel, citrus, ripe banana, honey, molasses, nougat, sherry, heather, toasted oats, mineral, briny, cedar, smoke.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, nougat. creamy, honey, dried fruit, apricot, orange, orange zest, citrus, sherry, floral, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, peppery, hot spice, slight peat, cedar, well balanced.
Finish: Orange, citrus, ginger, almond, sherry, spicy, smoky, peat.


Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal



Talisker 10 Single Malt Scotch



Laphroaig Quarter Cask Single Malt Scotch



Laphroaig Quarter Cask
(Islay)

Nose: Honey, toasted sugar, walnut, medium peat, smoke, light oak.
Palate: Vanilla, nutty, pepper, spicy, pronounced peat, maritime, brine, wood, smoke, oak, well balanced, delightful.
Finish: Honey, chocolate, perfume, spicy, smoky.

Double-Gold Medal
Double-Gold medal



Wemyss Malts
Spice King 12 yr


Nose: Dried fruit, vanilla, vanilla ice cream, honey, sugar cane, sherry, grain, some peat, oak.
Palate: Honey, brown sugar, chocolate. caramel, nougat, toffee, orange, dates, cinnamon, hint of sherry, herbal, peat, wisp of smoke, cedar, young wood, balanced oak, beautiful.
Finish: Dried fruit, honey, toast, pepper, soft, smooth, perfectly balanced, very elegant, excellent.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Wemyss Malts - Spice King 12 yr Single Malt Scotch



The Balvenie Caribbean Cask 14 Single Malt Scotch



The Balvenie
Caribbean Cask 14

(Speyside)

Nose: Vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, orange peel, green apple, dried fruit, toasted almond, spicy, clove, mint, herbal, floral, malt, smoke.
Palate: Caramel, nougat, creamy, vanilla, honey, sugar cane, dried fig, orange peel, ginger, sherry, floral, toasted grain, malt, nutty, herbs, cedar, oak, zesty.
Finish: Honey, vanilla, creamy, caramel, toffee, fruit, citrus, almond, peppery, spicy, peat, touch of smoke.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Oban 14
(West Highlands)

Nose: Candied ginger, caramel apple, apple, star fruit, banana, brown sugar, floral, toast, wheat, grain, malt, bright maritime, oak.
Palate: Dried fruit, dark fruit, orange-honey, honey, white chocolate, candied ginger, dandelion, barley, faro, malt, cinnamon, pepper, bourbon cask, oak, smoky, savory.
Finish: Toffee, sugar cane, coffee, lemon, citrus, peppery, round, elegant.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Oban 14 Single Malt Scotch



Ardbeg 10 Single Malt Scotch



Ardbeg 10
(Islay)

Nose: Orange peel, floral, herbal, light spice, peat, iodine, light smoke, wood, oak.
Palate: Caramel, citrus, pineapple, raisins, hint of sherry, nutmeg, spice, herbaceous, peat hearth, maritime, earthy, smoke, robust wood, oak.
Finish: Citrus, herbal, pepper, spice, peat, smoky, light, smooth.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS:

Wemyss Malts
"The Hive" 12 yr


Nose: Vanilla, honey, sugar, brown sugar, butterscotch, caramel, citrus, fruit, cinnamon, wheat, white pepper, pine, oak.
Palate: Creamy vanilla, caramel, toffee, maple, honey, light peach, dried fruit, bright bell pepper, spice, nutty, oak, balanced, ethereal, elegant.
Finish: Dried fruit, salted caramel, vanilla, light white pepper, smoky.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Wemyss Malts - The Hive 12 yr Single Malt Scotch



Tamdhu 10 - Sherry Cask Single Malt Scotch



Tamdhu 10
Sherry Cask

(Speyside)

Nose: Honey, buttery, cream, toffee, caramel, pear, banana, fruit cake, dates, light corn, floral, vegetal, malt, wood, light oak.
Palate: Caramel, nougat, creamy, chocolate, honey, treacle, pear, dates, raisin, dried fruit, heather, peppery, white pepper, smoke, strong oak, delicate.
Finish: Honey, sugar cane, creamy, raisin, peppery, oak, gentle.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



The Balvenie
DoubleWood 12

(Speyside)

Nose: Dried fruit, prunes, plums, banana, tropical fruit, orange marmalade, honey, vanilla, caramel, faint butterscotch, treacle, heather, floral, cedar, oak.
Palate: Orange marmalade, dried fruit, honey, sherry, bourbon notes, sweet spice, mint, clove, spicy, pepper, roasted nuts, cedar, pine, oak, dry.
Finish: Dried fruit, chocolate, cinnamon, spice, pepper.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



The Balvenie DoubleWood 12 Single Malt Scotch



Wemyss Malts- Peat Chimney 12 yr Single Malt Scotch



Wemyss Malts
Peat Chimney 12 yr


Nose: Malt, caramel, buttery, vanilla custard, red apple, hint of sherry, roasted coffee, floral, vegetal, spice, peat, light oak.
Palate: Vanilla, honey, treacle, caramel, orange peel, sherry, floral, vegetal, grain, spicy, flint, peat, oaky, balanced, smooth, elegant.
Finish: Cocoa, allspice, light, oaky, smoky, elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Glen Moray 12
(Speyside)

Nose: Orange peel, pineapple, ripe banana, honey, herbs, floral, cedar, oak, some smoke, maritime, ethereal.
Palate: Candied fruit, orange peel, banana, raisins, honey, buttery, caramel, toffee, treacle, dried herbs, malt, white pepper, cinnamon, clove, maritime, peat, smoke, cedar, oaky.
Finish: Cocoa, dark chocolate, hazelnut, honey, slight citrus, spice, smoky, gentle, complex, very nice.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Glen Moray 12 Single Malt Scotch



Ardbeg Corryvreckan Single Malt Scotch



Ardbeg
Corryvreckan

(Islay)

Nose: Orange peel, dried apricots, banana, caramel, vanilla, custard, slight honey, floral, black tea, roasted nuts, peat, smoke, oak.
Palate: Ginger, honey, light citrus, sherry, cinnamon, clove, spice, barley, coffee, peat, briny, smoky, cedar, oak.
Finish: Ginger, coffee, chili, peppery, spicy, savory, smoky, peat, well balanced.

Gold Medal
Gold medal





Ardbeg
Uigeadail

(Islay)

Nose: Caramel, deep toffee, molasses, vanilla, honey, honeysuckle, raspberry pie, roasted corn, slight cinnamon, white pepper, oak.
Palate: Caramel, molasses, chocolate, chocolate-covered cherries, orange peel, sherry notes, red bell pepper, clove, spice, peaty, smoky, oak, nicely balanced.
Finish: Spice, peppery, light cinnamon, touch of peat, oak.

Gold Medal
Gold medal



Ardbeg Uigeadail Single Malt Scotch



Laphroaig 10 Single Malt Scotch



Laphroaig 10
(Islay)

Nose: Vanilla, sugar cane, molasses, light honey, caramel, ripe banana, chocolate. cocoa, walnut, olorosso sherry cask, briny, maritime, peat, smoke, cedar.
Palate: Honey, vanilla bean, fruity, citrus, grain, chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, pepper, spicy, slight peat, briny, smoky, cedar, oak, well balanced.
Finish: Honey, smoky BBQ, peppery, spicy, oak, very elegant.

Gold Medal
Gold medal

 

 

 

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