The last couple of Wednesday evening, I have been catching up with friends at Helvetica. In addition to the biggest range of whisky in Perth and a great atmosphere there is another good reason to stop in on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening between 4 and 7, buy a drink and a Helvetica will feed you with bread, cheese, olives, cold meats and more. Which means, while Helvetica is fairly quiet around, 4 it is crowded and busy by 7. The crowd is very mixed, not at all you would expect for a whisky bar, actually most people are not drinking whisky, However, myself and some of my friends bucked the trend and sampled some of the fine single malts available.
In my continuing quest to sample at least a variety of products from all Islay distilleries, I have sampling a number of young cask strength whiskies.
Port Charlotte PC7, is a cask strength big peat monster, not as brutal as an Ardbeg Uigeadail, but has far smoother body and spicy aftertaste. I throughly enjoyed it and will pick myself up a bottle of this very soon (I know where a couple of bottles are), so I can do a side by side comparison with my Ardbeg Uigeadail to pick my favourite peated whisky.
Kilchoman Summer 2010, a very young whisky, also cask strength, Smoke, peat but once the alcohol burn left my mouth I was left thinking is that all, a rather one dimensional whisky, but that could be expected given its’ age, less that 4 years old and maturation in Bourbon casks. Not a whisky I am likely to be drinking in the future, but a distillery I will keep my eye on, maybe in a couple of years.
Bowmore Tempest the the oldest cask strength whisky recently tasted at 10 years, definitely more rounded than the Kilchoman, with a fuller body and aftertaste with hint of vanilla. Unfortunately, it just lacks the punch of an Ardbeg Uigeadail or a Laphoraig Quarter Cask and the depth of a Port Charlotte PC7. Of the five cask strength young whiskies tasted recently, it ranks 4th, not because it is a bad whisky, two months ago I would of been very happy drinking this. but the competition are exceptional whiskies
10 year old Glen Morangie, courtesy of a friend who has found the cheapest way to drink whisky at Helvetica is buy a bottle and keep it behind the bar. Very different from the other whiskies I have been drinking lately, a regular strength whisky from Speyside, lacking the strong peat or smokey flavour of the island whiskies I have been drinking lately. Unfortunately I like my senses to be brutally assaulted by a young strong peaty whisky or teased and treated with a refined whisky. The Glen Morangie did not overpower my senses and is not what I consider refined. As a relatively young whisky, I found it rough it around the edges with its’ sharp flavours and citrus tang. Again it is not a bad whisky, but it can not compare to the smoother and more refined 15 and 18 year old whiskies I have been drinking between peating sessions.
Helvetica has always been a favourite small bar of mine, with big whiskey range, great atmosphere and exceptional service from knowledgeable and friendly staff. Is now even better with some good food for free, as long as you buy a drink, and with all those whiskies it is so difficult to make the choice of the next to try. I will continue to frequent Helvetica on a regular basis.