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Shots in the Dark, Answered


Tasting blind is one of the most intimidating challenges a beverage industry professional can face. Not knowing forces us to abandon preconceptions and focus on what’s actually in the glass. Shots in the Dark, the new feature on The Whiskey Hotline, is our  chance to taste spirits as though it were our first time. No marketing. No expectations. Just our honest opinions.

This was a single-blind tasting, and all we could wrestle from the guy who was pouring was that all four brown spirits were from the same category. Vague. Try follow our aggregate notes, and see if you can guess what these are. And now … the absolute knuckle clenching excitement of blind tasting:

Four Samples

Sample A

   The lightest color of the four samples. Puzzling it smells like Highland Scotch, but the strong grain spirit note suggests it’s lighter on the malt. Not as fat as we expect from corn, so our guess is blended Scotch or Irish. It is low in intensity on the palate, starting with a creamy note and then fading quickly.


Sample B

   Grainy. Reminds us of Bourbon, or an inexpensive rye, with something more like corn on the nose. Round and sweet, with caramel. It certainly doesn’t taste expensive, but is smooth. If not a bourbon, then a Highland maybe Glenfiddich or Oban???


Sample C

   Not a lot of malt on the nose here, and still light. Irish? Canadian? Highland? We can tell that this has seen some age becuase although it’s light, it isn’t raw. It shows better on the palate with nice light body and good malty depth. There’s a sweet cake frosting note that reminds us of a recent Gordon & Macphail Highland Park bottling. This sample is the majority favorite of the four.


Sample D

   On the nose, sample D is almost exactly the same as sample C. Maybe a little lighter and thinner on the palate. It could be a Lowland with its nice, light and mild character. Light fruit cake notes, damply vegetal, peat but not smoke up front, finishing with some baking spice and toffee. Not bad.

   Playing along? Any idea what the heck we tasted? Because we were pretty confused at this point. We figured out that were were tasting Scotch, but beyond that we really didn’t know, and were surprised at the results. We posted an answer key below. Click each to find out what each sample was. Before you peek, be sure to post your guesses in the comments section.

click to see the answers

Sample A

Sample B

Sample C

Sample D

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