Tasting Notes Smackdown – Wine Style

A few years ago I did a piece on the pretentiousness of tasting notes and how it simply had to stop.

Today, I read a piece from Joel Stein on the LA Times sites called the "Language of Wine Snobbery", which starts off by firing a shot across the bow of Wine Spectator et. al.:

When wine drinkers tell me they taste notes of cherries, tobacco and
rose petals, usually all I can detect is a whole lot of jackass. The
language of sommeliers, winemakers, sellers and writers has devolved
into nothing besides a long list of obscure smells that tells me
nothing. I get a lot of cherry and cassis from Manischewitz too, but it
would help a lot more if you told me it was cough-syrup-goopy

Also this great quote from Gary Vaynerchuk, author of “101 Wines Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight, and Bring Thunder to Your World,”

"The reason there's a problem is that there's a lot of people who suck
at communicating," Vaynerchuk says. "And it's lack of self-esteem and
pretension. Nobody has guts. Jancis Robinson and Wine Spectator and Robert Parker write that way, so everyone else does. It's classic sheep mentality."

Good Stuff.

Let's get back to basics. Don't be a pretentious asshole with your notes.

–Found via Jeff Stai's (Twisted Oak Winery) El Bloggo Torcido
A Whole Lot of Jackass

Auchentoshan gets Real Purty

Auchentoshan is the latest whisky to get a modern makeover.

AuchrebrandCompared to the older bottle (pictured below), this is a real beaut. I'd never been a fan of the old label – I felt it was too busy – too much text, too many graphical elements and too much gold.

But the redesign looks oddly familiar. Hmmm…Where have I seen this before? A smaller, high-placed rectangular  duo-tone label with accompanying color coded age statement, with an embossed graphical element at the bottom of the bottle?

Wait a second – it looks like it may be a little too derivative of the Highland Park repackaging.

Apparently the bottle has changed as well, but I've only received the picture and cannot tell how far they've moved from the traditional bottle. But according to the press release they've also chosen to go with a Highland Park-like oval bottle.

The new bottle shape and packaging design is a radical move from its
former traditional look.  The design embraces its traditional heritage
with the use of a thick base bottle to keep its weight and premium
status, while the oval bottle shape is more simple and stylish to
easily hold in one hand. 

Karen Murray, marketing manager for Auchentoshan:

“We’ve made
bold changes to the packaging design and introduced some new
expressions to widen our market appeal and ultimately drive long-term
and sustainable growth. 

“It was important for us to consider
existing single malt enthusiasts in the design development, while at
the same time creating a look that would appeal to first time malt
drinkers.  The result is a design which incorporates both traditional
and contemporary elements.”

The new packaging will be hitting the shelves shortly. There's no mention of it, but such a design change usually is accompanied by an attempt to "premiumise" the brand – usually equating to a higher price.

There are also some new expressions in the offering – Auchentoshan is introducing a "Classic" & and new 18 year old; while focusing on a 12, Three Wood and 21 year old line-up,

Established in 1823, Auchentoshan – meaning ‘corner of a field’ in Gaelic – is one of only three remaining working lowland distilleries in Scotland.  The distillery can be found nestled at the foot of the Kilpatrick Hills overlooking the famous River Clyde which runs through the heart of Glasgow in the west of Scotland.

The new line up (tasting notes from Morrison Bowmore).

Apparently a no age statement expression. This was one of my predictions for the industry – launch no age statement lower price point "entry level" versions.

The Classic is soft, rich and creamy with a pale gold appearance.  It has a rich vanilla and coconut smell with a hint of green apple and a tang of citrus zest.  To taste it has a sweet vanilla cream, fresh green apple skin and a little mint.  It has a wonderful fresh floral zesty finish.

RSP – £20.99

12 Year Old
Another move I predicted – away from 10 year old flagship to 12 year old flagship.

The 12 year old is smooth, fresh and nutty with a golden honey appearance.  It has a Crème Brulee smell with a burst of citrus and the signature nuttiness and green leafiness of Auchentoshan.  To taste the palate is smooth and sweet with hints of tangerine and lime.  To finish, it is a gingery and slightly drying with a pleasant lingering nuttiness.

RSP – £24.99

Three Wood

The Three Wood is intense, sweet and complex with a rich golden bronze appearance.  It has a blackcurrant, brown sugar, orange, plum and raisin aroma with a fruit and syrup taste.  The finish is fresh and fruity with long lasting oaky sweetness.

RSP – £34.99

18 Year Old

The 18 year old is zesty and refreshing with deep golden summer barley appearance.  The nose is fresh tobacco leaf then sweet with a hint of caramelised sugars, green tea and toasted almonds.  At first the palate has a floral freshness with sweet barley sugar which gently ebbs to reveal a tangerine zestiness that leaves the palate alive and refreshed.  It leaves a long, lingering and well balanced dram that invigorates the mouth.

RSP – £49.99

21 Year Old

The 21 year old is elegant and perfectly balanced with a bright copper appearance.  It has ripe gooseberry notes together with sweet vanilla and oak that combines with a freshly cut barley flavour.  The taste is light chocolate and soft green fruit, with a twist of old oak and honey.  It leaves a long and lasting finish demonstrating real depth and character.

RSP – £69.99