Whisky Deathmatch: Winners and Losers

July 27th, 2012

Twelve whiskies entered, six left.  Our proud winners: Auchentoshan 3 Wood, Highland Park 18, Longmorn 16, Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Glenfarclas 21, Balvenie Single Barrel.

Our losers, stripped of their packaging and placed upon the table of shame: Bladnoch 20, Talisker 18, AnCnoc 16, Bruichladdich Infinity, Aberlour 18, Dalmore 15.

Some general observations.  Firstly, glencairn glasses, or proper tasting glasses of some kind, make a massive difference.  Truly revelatory compared to a tumbler.  Secondly, the effort of comparison itself is useful.  I actually notice a lot more about something when contrasting it with something else.  Thirdly, I started off thinking that my taste generally ran towards the gentler, more easygoing end of the whisky spectrum, as a result of which the dozen bottles I bought were tilted towards Speyside and the Lowlands.  I haven’t actively disliked anything but, in the end, with the exception of the Balvenie, I found the Speyside and Lowland whiskies very drinkable but a bit unexciting, perhaps a bit similar to each other, and it was the smokier, more powerful whiskies that tended to float my boat more.  Perhaps it’s the case that they fair well in a comparison test but you wouldn’t necessarily drink them every day, but even so.

Some of the bouts, like Talisker vs. Highland Park, have been titanic affairs.  Others, like Longmorn vs AnCnoc, have been a little lackluster.  Some of the competitors may have gone before their time, others have had easy rides.  So in order to give us a field of eight, I’m going to put through my two favourite losers as wildcards.  The Bladnoch wasn’t my cup of tea, too much soft banana.  The AnCnoc was perfectly pleasant but a little forgettable.  The Aberlour was very nice but ultimately a bit similar to, but not quite as good as, its vanquisher Glenfarclas.  I shall greatly enjoy finishing the Dalmore, and I’d definitely try other efforts from the distillery, but this 15 was just a tad underpowered.  Which gives us fruity, smoky, balanced Bruichladdich Infinity and bruising sea-dog Talisker 18 as our two Wildcards.

To prolong the overpowering excitement I’m also going to seed my four favourite winners, that they should not meet too soon.  My choices there, in no particular order: The mind-expanding sorcery of Ardbeg Corryvreckan, the classic sherry smoothness of Glenfarclas 21, the complex genius of Highland Park 18, the beautiful yet deadly Balvenie Single Barrel.  With the help of a little randomisation, our quarter finals look like this:

Ardbeg Corryvreckan vs Talisker 18 (my mouth hurts already)

Glenfarclas 21 vs Auchentoshan 3 Wood

Highland Park 18 vs Longmorn 16

Balvenie Single Barrel vs Bruichladdich Infinity

Ooooh, can you taste the excitement?  Some mouth-watering battles in the offing…

Posted in whisky deathmatch by Joe Abercrombie on July 27th, 2012.

9 comments so far

  • Michael says:

    Could you describe the playing field for the quarter finals please – time of day, pre food or post food, inside or outside, in company or solus, vuvuzelas or not?

  • Contrarius says:

    Joe, one of these days we’ll have to get you some *honest* whiskey — straight whiskey, that is — that doesn’t have all those silly flavor and color additives and such. Bourbon, to be precise. Then you’ll know what REAL whiskey tastes like. 😉

  • Joe Abercrombie says:


  • Lor says:

    Did someone just say bourbon is “proper” whiskey? Oh, where is my pitchfork when I need it…

    Glad to see you’ve come to your senses and put the Bruichladdich back in. Was getting worried about you for a while there.

    Going to be some interesting play-offs, best of luck not exploding your tastebuds.

  • AFA says:

    On a completely unrelated note:

    Whoever is in charge of updating your website needs a bit of a kick. Your homepage still declares that “The Heroes” is ‘coming’ in January 2011, and people can ‘preorder’ it.

    Not quite up to the mark, is it?

  • Mark C says:

    I wonder which of those losers tastes the bestest with a dash of coke? Spin off comp?

  • Ed Knight says:

    Good to see the Talisker rearing its head again, ready to fight the good fight. Or at the very least make your throat hurt a bit before you consign it to the table of shame…

  • Chris W says:

    If you can find a bottle of Edradour 12 year old matured in a Madeira cask, snap it up – you will not be disappointed. Tried it at the distillery a few years ago and it blew me away, have regretted not buying a bottle ever since – and now they’ve run out…

  • David says:

    This seems to be a ‘scotch’ whiskey death match.

    Maybe when it is over you can expand you horizons to include Canadian Rye Whiskey and American Bourbon. I doubt they drank Glenfarclas in the ‘Red Country’.


Add Your Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *