Chieftains is another IB, however it was not widely available in the US until a couple of months ago. So when I learned that K and L Wines was hosting a tasting for some of the US lineup, I signed up immediately. The event was limited to 35 people and filled up quickly. It was a little bit of a trek to make the tasting: Martin’s West in Redwood City, but I was betting it was going to be worth it.
The lineup was quite extensive, covering varying regions and flavor profiles: Allt A Bhainne 31, Dalmore 11, Glencadam 22, Glenrothes 14, Longmorn 13, Linkwood 16, and the great Port Ellen 25.
Allt A Bhainne is a fairly obscure distillery and not many people know about it. It is located in the Speyside region and is used primarily for Chivas Regal blends. So it is very rare to get the opportunity to try a single malt Allt A Bhainne. This malt was surprisingly lively for its age – full bodied, butter, grassy with a slight hint of smoke which was also a surprise.
Dalmore is a distillery that we are a lot more familiar with. It is located in the Highland region of Scotland and generally has deep-sweet flavors. This malt was enhanced in a Madeira cask. I found the Dalmore to be rather underwhelming unfortunately. There was some tropical fruit sweetness, caramel, you can taste the wine influence but it faded rather quickly.
Glencadam is another Highland malt but it does not release many single malts. The Glencadam was viscous and chewy with lots of malt. There was some licorice and grain notes with some fruit underneath it all – a decent dram.
Glenrothes is a very well known distillery out of the Speyside region. This Glenrothes was finished in a Burgundy cask to add some wine flavors. The distinctive dark red fruits and sweetness immediately came to the forefront. The wood was definitely present as well.
Linkwood, like Glenrothes, resides in the Speyside region of Scotland. However, you probably won’t find a bottle of Linkwood at your local bar. My first thought was WOW! Big fruit, malt and green apples. I also found flowers and some heather in the palate. I really enjoyed this malt, it tasted almost like a Lowland malt to me. A big surprise.
Longmorn is a neighbor of Linkwood in Speyside. This malt had baked bread, oak and grain with a slight hint of smoke. Unfortunately, it faded really fast and I didn’t find it all that interesting.
Finally, I was able to taste the Port Ellen. For those that don’t know, Port Ellen is one of the most sought after malts out there. Port Ellen, located in the Islay regions, was demolished in 1982 making whatever was left aging in barrels at that time the last whisky to ever be produced from this distillery. Unfortunately, the price point for Port Ellen’s is extremely high and keeps increasing as the years go by and the stocks of the whisky dwindle. This Port Ellen was a nicely balanced malt. A perfect balance of peat, coastal brine, seaweed, smoke and ashes.
Over all the Chieftain’s line up is solid but to be honest I was expecting a little more. I really enjoyed the Linkwood and the Port Ellen. The others weren’t bad but they didn’t stand out for me. It is nice to see another IB enter into the US market. I am hoping that Chieftains line will flourish and continue to grow so that we can all experience different and unique flavors from more great distilleries.