r/Scotch 2019 Single Cask Selection Update #1 : Update #2

r/Scotch 2019 Single Cask Selection #1 : Update #2

Hey folks! t8ke here with a weekly update on the 2019 r/Scotch Single Cask Selection. The agenda of todays update is super exciting because I get to reveal to you the casks we have chosen! Woo! Sorry the update has taken some time, but it is worth it. Compiling lots of useful information and making a choice as a panel takes time. 

So, without further ado…onward! There is also a slight surprise. While I’ve been letting everyone know this was the first pick of the year, that wasn’t entirely true. This round actually comprised the first and second picks of the year, since we were enabled to pick two casks from FineDrams! I think, based on the casks, this will be a popular decision. Only Jonas and myself knew until after all notes were collected, and then the panel was informed also.

The tasting panel tried 9 samples – all we knew was that they were scotch whiskey. Mashbill, age, abv, maturation, distiller, etc were all blinded away from us. Groups had about two weeks to taste, confer, submit their tasting sheets and then circle around and make a decision post-reveal. 

Overall, there was some discourse in rankings, but not as much as I expected. When tasting, I ask people to rank samples in two ways:

  1. Rate them on a scale of 1-10
  2. Rate them in your preference of all of the samples. (1st/9, 5th/9, 9th/9, etc).

This gives me the power to see how people are favoring samples, and also get their overall impression. For instance, if a sample is unanimous favorite, but its score comes out to be a 5/10 with all other samples coming in lower, or similar, then maybe it’s not a good sample set for a selection (like the previous r/scotch single barrel effort – no good samples were procured, and while there was a favorite, it was ranked meh). Combining these two metrics across a large sample pool means we can determine the favorites by popularity, examine each persons read on their overall quality, and generate statistics like deviation, etc. Turbulent deviations can be a sign of trouble, but typically trends will arise. 

So, lets’s get to the data.

The Data

Across a panel of 10+ tasters, some trends were immediately clear. For those reading from home, notice that I have the 1st,2nd,3rd and then last. Consistently mediocre samples aren’t really worth considering, and this is an easy way to filter them out as a first look. It also lets us see really controversial selections. 

As such, you can see that three picks were immediately in the top three. Sample 4, Sample 6 and Sample 9. Beyond that, some samples did well enough, but not well enough to really be considered unless all three top picks were widely controversial. 

If you’re looking for some additional statistics, look no further. 

Sample 1Sample 2Sample 3Sample 4Sample 5Sample 6Sample 7Sample 8Sample 9
Best Rank:221131131
Worst Rank:999988896
Sum Point:777178346238648843
Avg Score:5.736.235.737.236.097.436.445.987.19

So, it definitely looks like there are 3 top samples. But we can only pick two. (two!!). How do we decide? My assumption at this point is that everyone is chomping at the bit to find out what the samples actually are

The Reveals

You can all read, so I’m just going to put them here. Then we’ll discuss. 

Sample IDDistilleryVintageCask TypeCask NumberABVYieldPriceUSD
1Pulteney2008Bourbon Barrel869350.00%17960
2Blair Athol2009Refill Sherry Puncheon30306859.20%28546
3Teaninich2012Sherry Butt71173355.70%20147
4Girvan1989Refill Bourbon Barrel16786457.50%195116
5Glen Elgin2008Hogshead80527657.20%29359
6Ardmore2008Burbon Barrel70243057.00%24478
7Teaninich2012Sherry Butt71173160.80%66347
8Auchroisk2012Refill Sherry Butt991900159.00%60547
9Wardhead1997Refill Hogshead4054.70%347110

Whoah! Some really interesting stuff in there. Especially, the fact that a single grain whiskey was the number one selection. That’s wild. That said, it was really good. The next two were also interesting – Samples 6 and 9, the next best two are an Ardmore and a Wardhead. For those that aren’t aware, Wardhead is teaspooned Glenfiddich, which is super cool. The rest more or less speak for themselves – some peat, some great diveristy in regards to region, age, finish, ABV, etc. 

So, it’s sort of a tough choice. We have a grain, an Ardmore and a Wardhead. The grain was easily the most favored, but we agreed its likely not the “best” selection. I think old grain rocks, and my reviews generally reflect that. Most others thought the same, but we didn’t feel it was the most appropriate selection for r/scotch given the general public distaste for grain.

So, with that, we have to clear winners. Normally we’d have to decide between the young, peated ardmore, or the older Wardhead. I’m happy to tell you that the panel, myself included, agreed that we liked the Ardmore and Wardhead enough that we are going to take both casks. This should appease the public, also, because a lot of you said things like “I want something peated and not sherried” or “I want sherried or bourbon matured but no peat!” and some of you even said (and it brings a tear to my eye) “I want peat or sherry but I’d love peat and sherry”. I know us picking a peated cask and a refill hogshead cask isn’t really what you meant when you asked for peat and wine, but, well, life is tough. 

That said – I’m incredibly excited to announce that r/Scotch 2019 Cask 1 will be a 10 year Ardmore, and r/Scotch 2019 Cask 2 will be a 22yr Wardhead. Both will be bottled at cask strength with no filtering or coloring. We will be taking the full cask of both. This will be bottled and we will have a chance to self label through the bottler. This is in production now, and I’ll have some prototypes for community feedback next week. 

For those of you who want to know what our reviewers though of each dram note wise, I have some awesome word clouds for you. Next week, along with the production samples for label design, I will post each reviewers full thoughts on the samples regarding Nose, Taste, Finish, Overall, etc. 

In the meantime, also notice that the reveal above has the actual bottle cost in USD when it lands at FineDrams. I think everyone will be more than pleased as these are very reasonable costs, especially on the Wardhead. On top of this, you can buy other bottles or samples from FineDrams in order to make better overall shipping value. For those in the EU, this can also be purchased in your local currency with proper taxing. Overall pricing for these two bottlings will be: 

  • Ardmore: 88 EUR (inclusive of VAT) / $78 USD (exclusive of VAT)
  • Wardhead: 124 EUR (inclusive of VAT) / $110 USD (exclusive of VAT)

It’s worth noting that these are 700ml bottlings, but still very fair pricing given the contents.

Any questions? Hit me in the comments! Remember, if you missed the interest check, please go see the original post, and sign up! Next week’s update will have more tasting notes, and we’ll start talking about labeling.