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Impromptu Tasting Shenanigans

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Impromptu Tasting Shenanigans

Postby Plastiquehomme » Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:13 pm

So, I'd like to start by saying I didn't mean to get drunk (my current state, as you will tell from my writing)!!! My friend just brought around a bottle of Bunnahabin 18 YO that he was (rightly) proud of. As a prize for bringing such a tasty object to me, I made dinner - my home made Spaghetti and Meatballs in Spicy Pepper Sauce (excellent as always). Please note, I don't always call my own cooking excellent, but it is one of my specialties (along with Steak and Onion Pie, and Creme Brulee).

What I certainly did not intend was to suggest that we compare the Bunahabbin to every open bottle we had in my kitchen!

So we tried 6 Malts:

Balvenie Doublewood (12 YO)
Bunahabbin 18 YO
Caol Ila 12 YO (Signatory Un-chillfiltered Edition)
Highland Park 12 YO
Laphroaig 10 YO
Bowmore 12 YO

We agreed, with some heated and foul mouthed debate, that the Balvenie and the Bunahabbin were head and shoulders above the others. My wife and I rated the Balvenie slightly higher. Meanwhile our friend felt that our preference slighted his honour, and said the Bunahabbin was better. TO my surprise we all agreed that the Caol Ila was in fact excellent, and far superior to the Laphroaig or the Bowmore. This was an interesting discovery to me, because this is the first time I have drank it in about a year, and I remember thinking it rather non-descript on previous tastings, when it in fact has a warm, smoky sweetness. I have tried a lot of malts, and expanded my tastes a lot in the intervening year. The Highland Park was it's usual excellent self, though feeling somewhat diminished when compared to the stronger honeyish flavours of the Balvenie and Bunahabbin. As for the Bowmore and the Laphroaig. Both eminently drinkable, but they made me wish I was drinking more Caol Ila, and my friend wish he had brought his Ardbeg 10 YO. They made my wife curl her lip, and drink more Balvenie and Bunahabbin.

Perhaps it was excessive of me to try each one twice. But I felt valuable comparative knowledge could be gained; and maybe I was right. On first impression Balvenie and Bunahabbin were clearly better than the rest. On second tasting, they were clearly far better.

Anyways, if I were ranking I would go for the following order

Balvenie Doublewood (first because of its beautiful sherryish nose)
Bunahabbin 18 YO (beautiful palate with a long, honeyish finish)
Caol Ila 12 YO (warm, sweet, smoky palate)
Highland Park 12 YO (warm, full flavour)
Laphroaig 10 YO (medicinal smoke, sweet finish)
Bowmore 12 YO (drinkable, slightly generic peat when compared to the Laphroaig and Caol Ila)

Where would you all rank my (extremely random) selection?

I also learned that Gingerbread goes beautifully with single malt (to my surprise).
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Re: Impromptu Tasting Shenanigans

Postby lockejn » Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:59 pm

Plastiquehomme wrote:I made dinner - my home made Spaghetti and Meatballs in Spicy Pepper Sauce (excellent as always). Please note, I don't always call my own cooking excellent, but it is one of my specialties (along with Steak and Onion Pie, and Creme Brulee).

What I certainly did not intend was to suggest that we compare the Bunahabbin to every open bottle we had in my kitchen!
I want dinner at your house. Gimme a ring next time! :thumbsup:

And a fine review in spite of your disposition.
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Re: Impromptu Tasting Shenanigans

Postby tuddy24 » Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:22 am

Plastiquehomme wrote:So, I'd like to start by saying I didn't mean to get drunk (my current state, as you will tell from my writing)!!! My friend just brought around a bottle of Bunnahabin 18 YO that he was (rightly) proud of. As a prize for bringing such a tasty object to me, I made dinner - my home made Spaghetti and Meatballs in Spicy Pepper Sauce (excellent as always). Please note, I don't always call my own cooking excellent, but it is one of my specialties (along with Steak and Onion Pie, and Creme Brulee).

What I certainly did not intend was to suggest that we compare the Bunahabbin to every open bottle we had in my kitchen!

So we tried 6 Malts:

Balvenie Doublewood (12 YO)
Bunahabbin 18 YO
Caol Ila 12 YO (Signatory Un-chillfiltered Edition)
Highland Park 12 YO
Laphroaig 10 YO
Bowmore 12 YO

We agreed, with some heated and foul mouthed debate, that the Balvenie and the Bunahabbin were head and shoulders above the others. My wife and I rated the Balvenie slightly higher. Meanwhile our friend felt that our preference slighted his honour, and said the Bunahabbin was better. TO my surprise we all agreed that the Caol Ila was in fact excellent, and far superior to the Laphroaig or the Bowmore. This was an interesting discovery to me, because this is the first time I have drank it in about a year, and I remember thinking it rather non-descript on previous tastings, when it in fact has a warm, smoky sweetness. I have tried a lot of malts, and expanded my tastes a lot in the intervening year. The Highland Park was it's usual excellent self, though feeling somewhat diminished when compared to the stronger honeyish flavours of the Balvenie and Bunahabbin. As for the Bowmore and the Laphroaig. Both eminently drinkable, but they made me wish I was drinking more Caol Ila, and my friend wish he had brought his Ardbeg 10 YO. They made my wife curl her lip, and drink more Balvenie and Bunahabbin.

Perhaps it was excessive of me to try each one twice. But I felt valuable comparative knowledge could be gained; and maybe I was right. On first impression Balvenie and Bunahabbin were clearly better than the rest. On second tasting, they were clearly far better.

Anyways, if I were ranking I would go for the following order

Balvenie Doublewood (first because of its beautiful sherryish nose)
Bunahabbin 18 YO (beautiful palate with a long, honeyish finish)
Caol Ila 12 YO (warm, sweet, smoky palate)
Highland Park 12 YO (warm, full flavour)
Laphroaig 10 YO (medicinal smoke, sweet finish)
Bowmore 12 YO (drinkable, slightly generic peat when compared to the Laphroaig and Caol Ila)

Where would you all rank my (extremely random) selection?

I also learned that Gingerbread goes beautifully with single malt (to my surprise).



Plastiquehomme,

I've been meaning to try the Doublewood for a long time now but a few reviews have steered me away, You have some big names in your list and the HP12 is one that I absolutely loved. How would you compare them side by side?

-Pete
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Re: Impromptu Tasting Shenanigans

Postby Liechtenstein » Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:21 pm

Can you give us the recipe for Steak and Onion pie? (It sounds good!)

:D
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Re: Impromptu Tasting Shenanigans

Postby les taylor » Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:31 pm

Liechtenstein wrote:Can you give us the recipe for Steak and Onion pie? (It sounds good!)

:D



And the Spicy Pepper sauce. :thumbsup:
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Re: Impromptu Tasting Shenanigans

Postby Plastiquehomme » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:19 am

I have to admit I would not have expected to like Balvenie DW much more than HP12, which is a long term favourite. But when tasted side by side, I found that the Balvenie was richer, warmer, and more complex. It had a more interesting nose, and longer finish. I do remember that when I had HP18 I felt it was kind of like the HP12, but generally moreso. I suspect if I did Balvenie DW and HP 18 side by side, it would be a lot less clear cut.

Hehehe the spicy peppers is a family secret. But can do with the pie :) The key is really in the preparation, you really need to remove all fat from the meat, and need to cook the meat really slowly.

Ingredients

Mix

700 - 800g Topside Steak, in large cubes.
2 - 3 Large Onions
2 Oxo Cubes (or similar beef stock cubes)
Ground Black Pepper - to taste, I use about 20 turns of a pepper mill
Salt (preferably sea salt with roasted garlic flakes) - again to taste
About 500g of Flaky Puff Pastry

Cut the steak into large cubes, making sure not to leave any fat on at all, and place in large sauce pan. Cube onions (2 if they are huge onions, 3 if they are smaller) and add. Crumble the oxo and add the pepper and salt. Add water to the pot until all ingredients are just submerged. Bring to the boil while stirring constantly. Once at the boil, cover 3/4 of the pot with lid, and simmer very gently for 2 - 3 hours, stirring every ten minutes. If water starts reducing too quickly, reduce the temperature, and crush another Oxo into 1 cup of water, stir it, and add as needed. After 2 - 2.5 hours the water should be thickening into a rich gravy. If it is still think, cornflour or preferably gravy powder can be added. Remember the gravy will thicken on standing, so it is best to leave a little more liquid than you want in the pie. Leave standing for at least 30 minutes

Meanwhile roll out half of the pastry into a pie tin. I use flaky, puff pastry. You can make it yourself with any appropriate recipe, but I don't. I have, but to be honest, while it's cool to know you did, it doesn't really taste any better, and is quite an exhausting process. Once pastry is in tin, add filling, then roll out the other half of the pastry and use it for a lid on top, and press edges down with a fork to seal the pie shut. Cut two small slits on top so it can breathe. Put it in a preheated oven at about 180 Celsius for 40 - 45 minutes (til golden).

I usually serve it with creamy mashed potatoes (just potatoes, a few tablespoons of butter and a tablespoon of ground basil, mashed til smooth), and a salad (Iceberg Lettuce, Cherry Tomatoes, Red Pepper, Radish, Red Onion, Carrot). Wine matches with a nice, powerful Shiraz.
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Re: Impromptu Tasting Shenanigans

Postby Liechtenstein » Tue Aug 11, 2009 12:42 pm

Thanks for the recipe, Plastiquehomme. I'll be trying it next week and will let you know how it turned out here.

:thumbsup:
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