Friday, October 30, 2015

so, a man walked into a bar.. into a Whisky Bar. in Turku.

Not that many famous stories ever start with a glass of water, even if it is Badoit. Since I, again, visited the famous Whisky Bar in Turku I thought I’ll share with you some of whiskies I got to taste in there. What I really like about that place is that it’s owner is a Whisky enthusiast as well so there are always new great drams and stories to find. It is a bit of shame I am not there this weekend, since they’ve got a unique Ledaig tasting happening. If your feet takes you there, don’t be afraid to step inside despite the tough sprawl look they’ve got. It is not the place for those who like it tidy and filled with classical music. This is about rock, rough and ride! And their prices are extremely reasonable!

Now that you know the place, you can guess why the stores in there don’t start with water.. unless that water has been through a distillation process in Scotland. So, I walked into a bar and got us some great Scots. The choice was easy since I knew they had drams in there, that were going to be nearly unique to experience. If you go there and find the choices overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from the bartender. And you can ask them to give you a few choices. Remember that you get to taste more drams if you don’t take full shots of each. I tend to take 2 cl each usually, so you can actually try out more whiskies than you could with full 4cl shots. And you don’t down them at once, the bottom can stay down.

Ben1972the first.. was BenRiach 33YO single cask from year 1972.  The details can be seen here


It was a great dram with a full body and wisdom provided by it’s age. The classic gentleman, who does not brag nor pick a fight. Soft voice, strong opinions, oak skin. The last of these: oak, was nicely present in the finish. This is one of those whiskies that define what older than 30YO drams should be like. There is nothing that stings, nothing that is bitter, it is broad, experienced and knows the world.

This was a good dram, but it’s “flaw” was that it was too ordinary. There was nothing rough, that would burn into your memory and make it memorable. It might work miracles if you were sitting with friends and talking philosophical topics, sipping off this dram. We were not.

Ben-peatedThe peated BenRiach, that followed, was younger and held a sword in it’s hand. 21 years old, but it knew the tricks and treats. Strong, swiping and yet it had seen lots of trails in it’s life. 1984 was the year when I was at the elementary school and probably the only whisky reference was from the Tex Willers. It was the year when people at BenRiach distilled and casked this one.

We determined that this was the second best whisky in that evening. There was smoke and peat, but it was softer than what I’ve accustomed to experience. Softer, but yet fully figured, nothing was thin about this. I also noticed that it had a great balance between the elements: peatfire, fruitground, spiceair and wateroflife.

The finish was tasty, long and I founded out that I liked to hold on to this dram a lot longer than I originally thought. It was precious treasure to be let loose eventually. Our group really enjoyed this encounter and at this point (noting 1972 version as well) I had fully changed my opinion about BenRiach to the better.

But the night was not over, our journey through the bar continued and we ordered next two drams to keep us warm and talkative: BenRiach Sauternes and Tawny Port Woods. These drams were also from the years before 90’s. Barely, but …


Since visiting to Canada (Ice Wine!) and Octomore 4.2. Comus I have been fascinated with Sauternes finish. There has been real interesting encounters. This one.. well, it was not what I was expecting. It was a dram of three stages: Sweet oil, Witch judgement (burn to death) and finally absolution by the sweet taste. The overall experience was overwhelming, yes, but it lacked the balance I had gotten used to in the previous two. This one was rough under it’s cover. I hope I get to taste this one again to get a second opinion.


The last BenRiach, we tasted, was the Tawny Port finish. Like sauternes I have been really into port wood finishes lately. The first sip was like wiping your butt with silk: really soft. The next phase is like you had been eating a lots of raw chili earlier! The burning sensation grow and exploded into it’s full effect. This one is brutal demon, but the end is sweet and long. It will definitely dominate.


Our next experience was with 2012 Ardbeg Day. I finally got to taste this one, thanks to this bar!


This whisky has never been that common, since it was sold mostly in the distillery and into bars. The prices rocketed when this landed onto some shops. I kind agree with the label: release the peat!

This is a “classic” Ardbeg for me. It has peat. It has smoke. It has fire. It has balance. It has the character that grew in the North and traveled the South. There is nothing but pure experience that directs it’s magic with force. This was the best dram of the night. We are Ardbeg fans, yes.

I saved drops of this dram for a while in my glass, when I finished off BenRiachs before getting to experience this one again. Most likely I won’t get another chance for this in a long time, which I regret. A great dram with a great attitude!

But our night was not yet over. We had a meeting with the Old Buck. The Beer Hunters were the first (perhaps, most likely, at least amongst the first) whisky distillers in Finland.


I especially like the Barrel number. Two. This bottle was from the first 100 bottle’s patch they produced.

To try this one, is to play the Game of Thrones. It gets violent, brutal and sexy. It is rude, lethal, fierce, tempting, cunning, mad and dirty at the same time. It will get under your skin, burn and release the dragons. This is a experience, that you don’t get much. The euphoria this one releases is awesome! This is not just about it’s power (70.6%!) but it is about the full matrix that includes all those sides of taste that are so familiar from the GoT.


The night continued on, but there isn’t anything I can write about since the remaining whisky got no justice after the Old Buck.  It only means that I have to make a pilgrimage to the Whisky Bar again.. 

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