Whisky Magazine Issue 89
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Charles MacLean finds out more about the island's first distillery.
Around Burns Night, I was called by The Times' Scottish editor. “I need a piece about the new English malt, St. George's, and how it compares with Scotch malt. Can you organise a comparative tasting?” “Fine,” I said. “Two conditions: the tasting must be strictly blind, and the other whiskies must be no older than St. George's.” Soon after this, I was called by a Times journalist, asking me to go to The Vintners' Room in Leith, where he had arranged the tasting. As I was leaving, I remembered that, exactly a year before, I had been given a sample of a new two Years Old Taiwanese whisky by Lenny Russell of Ian Macleod Distillers. I put it in my pocket.
The panel included Geraldine Coates, Zoubair Mohammed (of Raeburn Fine Wines) and Paul Laverty (Ken Loach's script writer). I asked Silvio Praino, manager of The Vintners Rooms, to pour the six samples in an adjacent room and present them to us in pairs, and asked the panel to describe the aromas and tastes they detected and then give each sample a mark out of ten. At the end, the whiskies were revealed, and the scores counted.
You may have read the article in The Times, or in any number of worldwide newspapers – it was clearly a quiet time for news! – summed up on the front page of Le Figaro, (27th January): “Le whisky Ecossais a trouvé son maître… à Taiwan”.
To our surprise, the order was as follows: 1) Kavalan 2 Years Old Taiwanese malt (27.5 points), 2) 3 Years Old Scotch blend (22 points), 3) 3 Ye...