Vote 5-2: Winner J&B
Though J&B carried the day, it's number one seeding doesn't seem like it will stand the tests ahead. The clear expectation was that Ballantine's would be unanimously trounced under the weight of the heavy favorite and it simply didn't hold true.
The nose on J&B snapped our heads back, the most pleasing element being a stiff peaty musk, while Ballantines sported a less offensive, but even less definable nose. J&B's palate held some harshness, saved by sweet and sour tones, and the peat drives it home through the brief finish. Ballantine's showed glimmers of promise with hints of cocoa and sherry, but ultimately fell short on finding a true character of its own. With its muddled, somewhat acidic and hot alcoholic taste, Ballantine's failed to impress and it showed at the polls.
In the end, those who voted for J&B agreed that it was the easier whisky to come back to after the first sip.
Vote 6-1: Winner Grand MacNish
Each had a harsh nose, with Catto's chemical scent overpowering the expected scents; a hint of nuttiness is drowned out by a varnish remover or solvent quality. The Grand Macnish, with its slightly more complex nose with hints of wood provided a better bouquet, although a touch of chlorine & sour citrus were hard on the nostrils. On the palate, the Grand Macnish was sweet and hot, which was amplified by notes of coarsely ground pepper that quickly dissolved into the finish. Catto's was characterized by lingering heat, sweet synthetic cherry leading to an unpleasant "grapey" taste before ending with a seemingly "tacked-on"cherry/cocoa finish. At the end of the battle, we found that the Catto's unpleasant nose & finish were too much to handle, leading Grand Macnish to the easy win.