After 15 beer reviews, I realize that I am overdue for my first proper Scotch review. Before I get to the review though, I should mention a couple of things. When reviewing Scotch, and whisk(e)y in general, I find it is often more difficult to remove price from the equation than when reviewing beer. For example, the “world’s best beer,” Westvleteren 12, though admittedly hard to find, and pricey for a beer, will still only cost you about $20 for a bottle; perhaps ridiculous to some, but not out of anyone’s reach. By comparison, the world’s best Scotch is likely to be something that only a handful of people have ever tried, and that no one would ever be able to put a sane price on. There’s just too much diversity and complexity within Scotch to reach a consensus on the best, and too many great Scotches are exceedingly rare and pricey. Thus to anyone who drinks Scotch, the price generally influences opinion far more than it does to a beer drinker. Two comparable and tasty beers that cost $5 and $8 respectively are far more likely to be enjoyed by the same person multiple times, than two comparable Scotches that cost $50 and $80 respectively. If money was no object, then this wouldn’t matter, but sadly it does. Therefore, the average Scotch drinker is constantly seeking out the tasty Scotch that tastes like it should cost more, rather than the tasty Scotch that tastes like it should cost less. Objectively they may be equally good, but it is often hard to keep the price from swaying opinion at least slightly. With that out of the way, I can begin my first review; from Sir Iain Noble’s Gaelic Whiskies range, Té Bheag, a blended Scotch.
I bought this bottle on a hunch at the duty free in Calgary’s International Airport one day while returning home from Scandinavia. I figured that if I stuck to my usual budget for a bottle of Scotch back home at the BC Liquor Store (between $40-50), I would end up with something far better for the price. I liked the label, it said “unchilfiltered” which is always a good sign, and at the time my palate was not yet super developed, so I reasoned that getting a better blend would be a good next step for me after my intro to Scotch via cheap blends and cheap single malts. I remember the day more clearly though for another reason; the Vancouver Canucks were up 3-1 in their series with the San Jose Sharks in the 2011 Western Conference Finals and game 5 was that night in Vancouver. I got home just in time to watch the game on TV, and despite my jet lag, I managed to stay awake for overtime and Kevin Bieksa’s “beautiful” winner! I wish I could say that I celebrated by opening my new bottle, but I was rather too tired to bother and so I drank a beer instead.
Over the years I have tasted this Scotch many a time, and recently I did a couple of close tastings to record some notes.
Appearance: Nice colour. For those who care about added caramel colour, Ralfy suspects that there isn’t any here.
Nose: Peaty; initially with honey glazed donut (honey cruller), then, with continued inhalation, aged wood flooring.
Palate: Soft smoke and toffee. Later a hint of blackberries, and then berry scones.
Finish: A smooth finish with a minor jab of peat.
Overall: Teasings of Talisker run through this nice dram.
Rating: Blend rating 85/100. The price I paid was Good.