E-pistle 2007/066 – Triple Blind Tasting

By Peter Silver, USA

In conducting research with human subjects, one technique that is used to prevent any preconceptions from influencing the results is called blinding.  An example of a single blind is one in which the participants don’t know what they are tasting, as in the Malt Maniacs Awards.  Quite often there is a control group and an experimental (test) group. A double blind means that the neither the subjects nor the researcher know which is the control or test group.  A triple blind goes one step further and not even the data analyst knows which group is which.

For my purposes, I took a double blind test without a control or experimental group and added a further blind of my own choice, as you can see in the photo.  The samples were selected by my lovely fiancé, Jessica and only had numbers on the bottles. No one during the tasting knew what they were sampling. Randomization was introduced  by the use of a lazy susan spinning wheel for sample selection.

My sincere gratitude to Wallace and Adam for conducting this experimental tasting with me. While I doubt that this research will be published in any scientific journal in the near future, I can say for certain that we all had a very good time!

Laphroaig NAS “Quarter Cask” (48%, OB, 2005, Second Edition)
Nose: peat and smoke, flowers, small amount of iodine
Palate: soft with peat, smoke
Finish: light
Score: 87 points.

Suntory ‘Yamazaki’ 16yo 1986/2003 (45%, OB,  C#0779)
Nose: maple syrup, honey, bourbon
Palate: light body with bourbon overtones
Finish: not much of a finish, a bit watery
Score: 78 points.

Glenlivet 34yo 1968/2003 (54.9%, DT, C#8225, 558 Bts.)
Nose: fruit, honey
Palate: pepper, spicy, floral
Finish: long and sweet
Score: 90 points.

Caol Ila 15yo 1990/2005 (43%, MacKillop’s Choice)
Nose: peaty, smoky, iodine, honey
Palate: more peat than smoke, honey, rich
Finish: strong and long
Score: 87 points.

Balvenie 17yo ‘New Wood’ (40%, OB, 79 casks, Bottled 2006)
Nose: spicy, wood, cinnamon, honey, vanilla
Palate: honey, wood spice, the nose was better
Finish: med long
Score: 83 points.

Aultmore 12yo 1991/2004 (58.4%, SMWS #73.12, Sherry)
Nose: bad vanilla extract – “like one that’s been sitting in your grandmother’s pantry for 30 years”, sour, spoiled
Palate: skunked, honey, soapy, edradour like
Finish: lousy
Score: 60 points.

Scapa 14yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2006)
Nose: mint, menthol, honey, vanilla,” it’s like having toothpaste shoved up my nose”
Palate: clean, light, menthol
Finish: quick and gone
Score: 76 points.

Glenlivet 18yo (43%, OB, +/- 2005, New label)
Nose: allspice, cinnamon, sherry
Palate: sherry, honey, vanilla
Finish: medium long, so much better than the standard 12yo
Score: 83 points.

Linlithgow 21yo 1982/2003 (63%, DT, C#2211, 246 Bts.)
Nose: spicy, chili fire, pepper
Palate: honey, wood spice, pepper
Finish: long
Score: 86 points.

Highland Park 23yo 1982/2006 (57.9%, Park Avenue Liquors, C# 443)
Nose: sherry, spice
Palate: sherry, doesn’t develop, just stays on sherry
Finish: long and sour
Score: 83 points.

Macallan 36yo 1969/2005 (41.5%, DT, C#6854)
Nose: citrus, sherry, honey
Palate: citrus, spice, pepper, a very nice balance
Finish: medium long
Score: 84 points.

Famous Grouse 30yo (43%, OB, vatted)
Nose: cleaning fluid
Palate: very ether like
Finish: none, “is this some kind of whisky sorbet, that you have between samples to cleanse your palate?”
Score: 77 points.

Scapa 17yo 1989/2007 (56.6%, D&M Afficiando’s Club)
Nose: tight and bitter, needs water to open, then we got briny
Palate: honey, vanilla, briny
Finish: medium long
Score: 80 points.

E-pistle 2007/066 – Triple Blind Tasting