Several weeks ago I was invited to attend a guided whisky tasting with renowned whisky expert Mr. Jim Murray. Author of the Whisky Bible, an annual whisky guide with detailed tasting notes and scores for some 4,500 different types of Scottish single malts, blended scotch and American whiskey. Murray was invited to Israel by Tempo, importers and distributors of the popular Ballantine’s brand. Even though I have a modest collection of whisky bottles at home, I am far from being an expert on this distilled beverage. Nevertheless, this was an opportunity I did not want to miss.
Murray presented different methods (some call it the Murray Method) and “best practices” in professional whisky tasting. Starting with proper serving temperature, the distance of the glass from the taster’s nose (putting it too close to the nose will result in an alcoholic sensation), the way to intake and swirl air while holding the whisky in the mouth and other professional tips.
I have to admit, I do not see myself sitting at home with friends and a glass of scotch and using the Murray Method. However, there is no doubt that tasting while applying Murray’s techniques makes a difference and certain nuances and aroma begin to come out in the glass. We tasted a flight of Ballantine’s scotch from different age categories, with the overall favorite being the Ballantine’s 17 yrs. - very rich and complex in aromas and flavors while remaining smooth and elegant. Perhaps I was bias since Murray mentioned that he awarded the Ballantine’s 17 yrs. with the title of best “Scottish Blend of The Year” but if you do get a chance, the Ballantine’s 17 is definitely worth trying.
On a different note, following are 3 recommendations for refreshing and enjoyable summer wines:
Dalton, Reserve, Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 – a blend of Sauvignon Blanc vinos from 3 different vineyards situated in the Upper Galilee, almost clear with evident green reflections. The wine suggests light and very fresh aromas and flavors of cut grass, lemon peel, tart apricots and a touch of tropical fruits leading to a pleasant finish. Overall, a very enjoyable wine.
Tabor, Adama-Gir, Sauvignon Blanc, 2011 – over the past few years, Tabor’s Sauvignon Blanc Gir has been one of the better wines in its category. Nice and crisp with generous aromas and flavors of pineapple, lemon, green apples and grapefruit all coming together nicely and leading to a clean finish.
Carmel, Single Vineyard, Kayoumi, Riesling, 2010 - 100% Johannesburg Riesling grapes from the renowned Kayoumi vineyard situated in the Upper Galilee, this is a semi-dry wine, straw with shiny golden reflections in color. Don’t expect a German or French Riesling overflowing with mineralitly and complexity, but this is definitely a fine effort from Carmel! On the nose and palate, generous tropical fruit, lychee, citrus peel, honey suckle, white peaches and a touch of spice on the medium-long finish. Serve chilled on its own or aside seasoned Asian or Indian style dishes.