Sometime in the mid-90s, as something called the "world wide web" was starting to gain in popularity, a group of people from across the U.S. found each other through a common interest in single malt whisky. They used that magic new communication tool to share all they knew -- what malts they were drinking, what the hidden gems were, what history they knew about them. Remember, this was at a time when whisky databases, discussion forums, and countless blogs were still many years away. There were scant books and few easily accessible resources.
That group named itself PLOWED. Some say that's for "People Lucid Only While Enjoying Drams." You may never have heard of them because they've always kept themselves fairly secret and mysterious. Their only web presence is remnants of an old website (which you can find if you search hard enough), but the group still thrives. Entrance is by invite only.
One of the key PLOWED founders has had some health problems of late. Known publicly only as "S'tan," he's been a patient, kind, and generous mentor to many of us in LAWS. S'tan epitomizes what we feel is the true spirit of whiskey: being always ready to share, and happy to do so.
In that spirit, PLOWED members pitched in and donated an incredible lineup of whiskies to LAWS. With those, we hosted a benefit tasting to help a father figure of today's whiskey community.
PLOWED has done six bottlings of their own cask selections. Some of these were back in the day when, believe it or not, you could get a 1972 Ardbeg or Brora bottled by Douglas Laing at a reasonable price. (It was actually partly because of PLOWED that the Laings started to realize they were sitting on a hell of a lot of great single malts). Some of those bottles have become legendary. Few even realize that the first issue was a Springbank bottled back in 1999.
So, for what is only the second time in history, all of the official PLOWED bottlings were assembled -- full and unopened -- into a single vertical tasting. We were joined by PLOWED veteran Dr. Free Energy, another driving force behind the group, who led us through each bottle and regaled us with stories of PLOWED adventures.
Though every bottle is from a different distillery, a clear theme became apparent: PLOWED bottlings are representative of the distillery's key characteristics, but also have an added "extra" factor that makes them unusual and special. That, and peat! Though some not nearly as much as others.
As if that weren't a ridiculous enough lineup, there was one more bottle to finish it all off: a Port Charlotte "Bloodtub" bottled for PLOWED member Alan Robinson
. This is known for scoring a massive 94 points on WhiskyFun. With a grand total of only 24 bottles, we were thrilled by Alan's generosity to donate one for the tasting.
The favorite of the night was the Brorageddon, followed closely by Ardbeggeddon. However, opinions were quite varied. Some placed the Springbank as their favorite, while there was broad disagreement (healthy disagreement!) about the Port Ellen. The thing is, it was mere hairs of degrees that separated some of these… to pick favorites, it was a matter of choosing one "A" over others.
Huge thanks to all the PLOWED members who helped out! What an amazing lineup this was. Drink Whisky!