Speyside Scotch Struts Its Stuff
by Andrew Chalk
It was world class all the way at the Scottish Rite Cathedral in downtown Dallas last night as six twelve-year old scotches showed exactly why Scotch is an unassailable global product category in a world of ever more, and ever more exotic, spirits. The Dallas chapter of the Knights of Saint Andrew organized the sold-out tasting event as one in a series of six (covering each of the six Scotch regions) to raise funds for the preservation and upkeep of the magnificent cathedral. I attended as a media guest.
All of these Scotch expressions came from Speyside, one of the six whisky appellations in Scotland and undoubtedly the most richly endowed. In its small 25 by 10 mile area are more distilleries than any other appellation in the country. The two best-selling whiskeys in the world, Glenlivet and Glenfiddich come from the region, as do a list of other household names. We sampled Macallan, perhaps the whisky most akin to a ‘cult wine’, Balvenie, as well as staples such as Aberlour and Glenrothes, and the quirkily-named Monkey Shoulder. Monkey Shoulder was the only one that was not single malt although, as a blended whisky, it was a blended malt, being blended from Balvenie, Glenfiddich,and Kininvie.
The tasting was accompanied by the food of innovative barbecue restaurant Oak’d and chef Michael Lane, and expert commentary on each whisky by a member of the Knights of Saint Andrew.
Despite a few audio difficulties the commentary informed the debate and the audience got involved in lively discussions about which Scotch was best. Ultimately, it was a matter of taste with the common denominator being that, in a world where so many products are having difficulties maintaining their quality, Scotch continued as a shining example of how, sticking to what you do, the way you have always done it, can be the most revolutionary idea of all.