Well, the mini-tasting is over and I have two very happy people along with myself.
The opening dram was a quick introduction to Grants Family Reserve blended whisky.
My main guest said that he had previously tried a couple of bourbons and also Teachers Highland Cream - which he said was a pleasant dram.
He quite enjoyed the Grant and compared it quite favourably to Teachers.
This is also my opinion.
My girlfriend declined this one as she doesn't like whisky that tastes like "whisky"! (Yes, her favourite dram is Laphroaig 10).
Secondly came the Laddie Rocks - this is now almost the end of the bottle I opened some 4-5 weeks ago.
Now much more mellow than I initially found, certainly the initial spiciness has gone.
My girlfriend said the nose was unpleasant.
My main guest admitted that the nose was "very different" and couldn't quite place the actual elements of it, but it was a very pleasant nose.
They both enjoyed the dram
and admitted that there was indeed a lingering after-taste of licorice.
Thirdly came the Glenfarclas Quarter Cask,
Now this is the one I have been longing to try since I heard about it some weeks ago.
A lovely dark colour, apparently promising much sherry and depth of flavour.
Very different, totally unexpected.
I found it very hard to identify the main elements of the nose. Definitely some sherry, plenty of wood, possibly even slightly smokey wood. But something else, slightly medicinal and reminding me of something way back from childhood, but I just cannot place it!
My girlfriend insisted that the nose was exactly that of a large country house wood-panelled library. She said it was exactly like a musty old library - in a comfortable, homely and pleasant sort of way.
My own feeling was one of sherry, but certainly not as much sherry or as heavy or sweet as I had expected. Here I agree with IWC that it was a much lighter experience than I had expected, but this was no bad thing, just different to my expectations of a 17-18 year old Quarter Cask sherried whisky. It certainly was not as heavy or sherried as the Laddie 1986 dark sherry!
My main guest did comment on some licorice in there, but I didn't personally find any. I did, however, find plenty of chocolate - almost dark bitter chocolate rather than milk chocolate. I also found plenty of very slightly smokey wood.
Is the QC from first fill casks? I would think not, as where I expected lots of deep sherry, I found smokey oak.
As I have said, this experience was totally different to expectations, but it was rather pleasant. This is not a heavy dram, nor is it sweet or unpleasant. I think I could get rather used to this one but I slightly disagree with IWC in one area: Even though it is a lighter whisky than most sherried ones, I would not really want this as an aperitif. I think it would make a reasonable after dinner malt, but perhaps after not such a heavy meal!
Finally, we ended the evening with the original Laddie 3D Peat proposal:
This was the main attraction or "Star" for my main guest as he likes the peaty whiskies and came to buy some of this dram in particular.
Exactly as expected, the 3D delivered a delightful dosage of peat without anger, fire or drama.
He accepted a second dram, purchased some to take home and went away a very happy man.
He even said that on reflection, although the two are very different, he prefers the 3D to Ardbeg 10. But his absolute favourite from the few he has so far tasted is the Ardbeg 17.
Meanwhile, my girlfriend decided the 3D was also her preferred dram of the evening, especially after further experimentation with another glass or three!
As for myself, I do like the 3D, but that Glenfarclas QC was something I will be returning to!
(Now, I wonder if I can hide the other bottles from the taxman