By Matt Goldstein, Eric Duncan, Dan Shapiro, BJ Smith, and Jesus Burgos
The Single Malt Scotch Trials were a double blind taste test held at the Whiskey Goldmine headquarters. We sampled 7 different single malts that were randomly selected and then served in scotch glasses with the serving sizes just slightly under a dram. There were 7 tasters and 2 servers. The Scotches were scored on the basis of flavor, texture, color, and finish. Each taster was given the option to use a splash of water that many times opens up the single malt for further complexity, however, we did not allow ice. Although we scored and ranked the winners, all of the Scotches actually performed really well. Most of the Scotches that we tasted are distilled and aged on the coast and get much of their character from salt water and ocean air.
The Balvenie 15 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky:
The Balvenie 15 is aged in a single cask of no more than 350 bottles. With a complete malty scent, the Balvenie 15 year is sweet, with hints of vanilla, cream and citrus fruits. It’s a mellow, rich and full flavored whiskey. Established in 1892, the Balvenie distillery is in Dufftown, Banffshire Scotland. The Balvenie 15 year scored much higher than any other scotch in our single malt taste test. The scores were not even close! The Balvenie 15 year single malt scotch crushed the competition.
The Macallan 10 is triple cask matured in European Oak Sherry casks, American Oak Sherry Casks and American Oak Bourbon Casks. The Macallan 10 has a sweet scent, great taste, and is very smooth and light. With a sweet flavor, there is also a subtle peat taste with a light smoke and a soft, malty oak essence. It’s an excellent and complex single malt scotch. Established in 1824, the Macallan distillery is Speyside in Easter Elchies, Craigellachie, Scotland. The Macallan 10 Year finished 2nd in our double blind taste test.
The Laphroaig 18 Year Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky:
The Laphroag 18 is a non chill filtered smokey style single malt. Although the peat hits the nose, it’s not over powering. The Laphroaig 18 year is smooth, very smokey and slightly sweet. This is an excellent peat style single malt scotch and one of the best in class. The Laphroaig distillery was established in 1815 and is made on the isle of Islay, Scotland. The Laphroaig 18 Year Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky finished 3rd in our overall scoring.
The Oban 14 Year West Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky:
The Oban 14 is made in small stills and is a full, rich, malty, medium body single malt with a touch of peat. Light and smooth with a nice burn, the Oban 14 Year is a classic malt. Sweet with a touch of sea salt, the finish is sweet and smooth. Named after the caves used by the first settlers of Scotland in 5,000 B.C. called “An Ob,” Oban is a classic malt. Oban is distilled in the Oban, the capital city of the West Highlands, Scotland and finished 4th in our overall scoring.
The Highland Park 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky:
The Highland 12 uses malted barley hand made on a stone floor. The peat and heather are also hand cut and the scotch whisky is aged in Sherry oak casks from Spain. Almost at the end of maturity, the best casks are selected, then combined and aged together for just a little longer. The Highland Park 12 year is smoky, soft, smooth but with a good burn. It’s a rich, full flavor with an exceptional finish. The Highland Park distillery was established in 1798 and is made in Kirkwall, Scotland in the Highlands. The Highland Park 12 Year Single Malt Scotch finished 5th in our overall scoring.
The Glenlivet 12 is called “the single malt that started it all.” This Speyside scotch is made from the mineral rich water in Josie’s Well. The Glenlivet 12 Year is smooth and rich with a burn but light at the same time. With slight notes of fruit, The Glenlivet by far was the lightest of all the single malts we tasted. Established in 1824, Glenlivet is distilled in the Speyside town of Banfshire, Scotland and is perhaps the most famous single malt Scotch whisky in the world. The Glenlivet finished 6th in our overall scoring.
The Glenmorangie Lasanta 12 Year Single Malt Scotch Whisky:
The Lasanta is made in the tallest stills in Scotland and aged in bourbon casks and then finished in Spanish Oloroso Sherry casks. The Lasanta is a smooth, light non chill filtered single malt with notes of rich notes of cream and maple. A complex, medium body single malt, the Lasanta a is unique from the 10 year Glenmorangie. In Gaelic Glenmorangie means valley of tranquility and Lasanta means warmth and passion. The Glenmorangie distillery was established in 1843 in the North of Scotland and sits beside the ancient royal Burgh of Tain on the banks of the Dornoch Firth.