Whisky Deathmatch

Posted on May 13th, 2012 in whisky deathmatch

By popular demand, I bring you WHISKY DEATHMATCH.  Two whiskies enter, one whisky leaves, that’s the essence of it.

We begin with twelve contenders, which I’m going to pair up like against like according to origin and style.  That’ll give us six thrilling matches and six worthy winners, and I’m then going to let through my two favourite losers to give a field of eight.  Quarter finals, probably with some seeding, semi-finals, final, and there can be only one winner.  Like in that Highlander – except the contestants will actually be Scottish.  Thirteen matches all told, the broken bodies of eleven whiskies left scattered on sand soaked with … well, whisky, I guess, one standing over all, victorious, shaking weapons daubed with the whiskey of fallen adversaries at the lowering skies.  Oooh, the excitement!

‘But!’  I hear you cry, ‘whiskies are inanimate, and therefore cannot actually fight each other!’  Of course, you are right.  They shall wage war within the metaphorical Thunderdome of my face.  I shall assess them on LOOK – of the whisky, packaging, and marketing blurb, though I’m not going to be placing too much weight here, SMELL – the effect it has on my nose holes, and TASTE – what is it like in my mouth?  Since my palate is risible this will all be highly unspecific and will dwell on strange metaphors and unquantifiable emotional responses.  I shall then issue a CONCLUSION – giving a smart-arse summing up.  Other critics might suggest a suitable food, cigar, or time of day to pair with a whisky, I am going to suggest one of my point-of-view characters with whose chapters a given whisky might be aptly enjoyed.  Finally I shall don my black cap, sit in terrible judgement, and issue the RESULT of my deliberations, heaping glory upon one whisky and consigning the other to the flames of Mount Doom.  Or, more likely, drinking it later.  I mean, why throw good whisky down a volcano?

So, our six first round Deathmatches will be:

Lowland: Bladnoch 20 vs Auchentoshan 3 Wood

Speyside (Sherried): Glenfarclas 21 vs Aberlour 18

Island: Talisker 18 vs Highland Park 18

Speyside (Bourboned): AnCnoc 16 vs Longmorn 16

Islay: Bruichladdich Infinity vs Ardbeg Corryvreckan

Others: Dalmore 15 vs Balvenie Single Barrel

I’ve given all of them a thorough sampling and some favourites are already emerging, but I must say my opinion on a couple has shifted quite radically even over a few tastes.  When the brutal work of direct comparison begins, who knows what will be the outcome?  There’s everything to play for.  Or, since this is a Deathmatch – to kill for.

Is your mouth watering already?  I know mine is…

35 Comments So Far... (join in)


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  1. If the Ardbeg doesn’t win, there is something wrong with you.

  2. It is clear to any regular reader of this blog that there are several things wrong with me.

  3. Oh. Em. Gee. I don’t even like alcohol, let alone whisky, but I am looking forward to this nonetheless.

  4. Since that blog post was the funniest thing I’ve read for a long time (is “all day” a long time?) I think the results of this deathmatch, this experiment, ought to be published elsewhere.

    Maybe not in New Scientist, but definitely in any magazine that could appeal to the inbred and insane, or on posters for pub toilet walls.

    Hmm, I know nothing about whisky, but all this almost makes me want to get into it. A bit like how reading The Heroes almost (not quite) made me feel like running up a steep hill in order to jab northern beardy people with a spear.

    Good luck!

  5. I’m wearing my “TAKE ‘EM, TALISKER” jersey right now. C’mon, boys!

    “There’s only one Talisker…”

  6. Spit or swallow – the whiskey, I mean? Drunkenness may influence your taste.

  7. I overdone the Talisker last night, this blog has made me queasy again and not in a nice way.

  8. This is by far the coolest thing I’ve ever read in an author’s blog! You are godlike in your craft, good sir!

  9. My wife hates whiskey, but if you pair a whiskey to Glokta, she will taste it :)

  10. May God have mercy on your liver, my booze-ridden friend.

  11. Ardbeg for the win.

  12. I feel any result should be null and void without the inclusion pf Glenkinchie or our very own, one and only, Welsh single malt – Penderyn.

    C’mon Joe!!

  13. Enjoy the tasting. And repeat the experiment in wintertime, when the whisky that excels is almost bound to be different.

  14. come on on cnoc 16 (never tasted it but translates as hill 16 in english, a very famous hill here in dublin).if you ever decide to sample some irish whiskey cant recomend Green Spot enough its superb . have fun

  15. Seems like a worthy pursuit. My vote is for the Talisker, it’s lovely.

  16. I have two bob on the Glenfarclas 21, because, well, it has the better warcry, doesn’t it.

    “Com on tah ‘umpty backed rats wassock, I’ll ‘ave ya’ . . .
    GlenFARClas! ”

    :)

  17. Apart from the Highland Park, they all sound like they could be the bastard offspring of Crummock-i-Phail.

  18. ….and perhaps that could be the prize for the winner. A mention in Joe’s next literary outing that only the blog readers will ‘get’.

  19. “….and perhaps that could be the prize for the winner. A mention in Joe’s next literary outing that only the blog readers will ‘get’.”

    YES! Absolutely yes! You have to do this, Joe.

  20. I love how we’ve gone from Joe being unsure whether whisky was something that should be talked about in a blog….to an awesomely detailed whisky deathmatch. I might just buy two copies of A Red Country. Anyway, for what it’s worth I’m looking for the Ardbeg or the Talisker to make a name for itself.

  21. How about a Cider death match? My money is on White Lightning.

  22. Wake me up when we do the Rum deathmatch…..

  23. Oh good idea. Think I’ll enjoy a glas this evening while preparing the course for our master students.

  24. Very good idea Joe, I look forward to seeing the results.

    Also, I have to point out, whilst browsing Totalfilm this afternoon (My favourite past time for killing the hours at work) I was suprised to be greeted not once, but twice, with a pop up window advertising, none other than your very own “The Heroes”. Very nice bit of promoting, but you spoiled my movie reasearch lol

    Anyway, keep up the great work Joe ;)

  25. “‘But!’ I hear you cry, ‘whiskies are inanimate, and therefore cannot actually fight each other!’ Of course, you are right. ”

    I don’t know. Most scotch whiskies I’ve tangled with can throw a hell of a punch, albeit a deliciously peaty one. Keep your head up.

    Eagerly anticipating the results from Mt. Doom.

  26. After the first round will your blog be dictated……?

  27. I think this all needs to be done in one sitting.

  28. aahhh yes, whiskey. I found this randomly…I was looking for some new authors to read…and because I enjoyed the blog post so much, I have to read the books! Interested to see which one wins…I drank my first scotch last summer when I visited Scotland, and don’t have a clue as to what I drank, just that I did drink it! LOL off to shop for whiskey and books. ;-)

  29. Bruichladdich…..the Bloody Nine of Whisky!

  30. Heh Yes, definitely in one sitting. With picture proof, or it didn’t happen :)

  31. I’m more of a classic sleeping-on-a-park-bench type of alcoholic and prefer some cheap Dewars on the rocks. Wish I knew any of these whiskies. Might dip into some as the tournament goes though.

  32. Excellent stuff. Awaiting the results with Scotch-scented bated breath.

    Whichever whiksy wins or loses, the real victory here will be for our whisky guzzling ancestors, who will surely revere the results of the deathmatch as the final word in whisky guzzling.

  33. Do you need a second judge?

  34. My vote goes for the Aberlour 18, ’tis a fine dram!

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