1 September 2017

31/08/2017 September outturn at Cadenhead's

Glad to be back, after missing the August one, on account of a key travel. It is a full house, tonight, and we will hardly fit around the giant table. Equally difficult it is to divide 10cl samples between 13 people. We do manage, though, mostly in good spirit (with a spate of unavoidable teasing).

Auchentoshan 25yo 1992/2017 (44.8%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Barrel, 196b): nose: grape and cherry juice. Mouth: boiled sweets, honey and flowers. Finish: boiled sweets again, fruit, powdered sugar. It has a gentle bitterness towards the end. Some find it good... for an Auchentoshan. Unfair, I say. This will remain my favourite of the new outturn, tonight. 8/10

Invergordon 43yo 1973/2017 (51.3%, Cadenhead Single Cask 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Barrel, 222b): this came out last month, but there is an open bottle and it is kindly offered -- who are we to refuse? Nose: fruity pastry, polished wood and caramel. Mouth: superb balance, with roasted wood and toasted coconut. Finish: lovely pastry and a hint of metal. Good grain, though I think I was expecting more out of something of that age. 8/10

Glenturret 29yo 1987/2017 (42.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Hogshead, 150b): this is the one I am most looking forward to. There has not been a Glenturret for a while, and the latest few I have had were spectacular -- remember the Rattray one, last year. What will this give? Nose: wine-y at first, it soon opens up to reveal ripe fruit (raspberries and yellow plums). Mouth: soft and mellow. The quantity I get does not allow me for very abundant notes, I am afraid. Finish: very gentle, delicate, subdued. Apple compote and pear juice. Good, once past the wine-y nose (JS hates that), but it seems very subtle. Perhaps too subtle. Is the sequence at fault? 7/10

Glen Scotia 24yo 1992/2017 (44%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Hogshead, 186b): the party was called in to decide on the order, and it is a little puzzling to me. Nae bother. Nose: fruit in cow dung. Definitely cow dung. Farmyard, then liquorice. Mouth: liquorice allsorts aplenty, here. Finish: more liquorice allsorts. The nose is interesting (for countryside lovers), the rest is meh if, like myself, one does not care for liquorice. Still rather funny. 6/10

Ben Nevis 18yo 1998/2017 (50.2%, Cadenhead Rum Cask 175th Anniversary, Rum Cask, 210b): nose: muddy fruit, then mint, basil... and more mud. Mouth: dusty, with crushed, dried leaves. Finish: more dust, earth and weird fruit. More interesting than really enjoyable, but it is pleasant enough. 6/10

Ord 21yo 1996/2017 (55.7%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Hogshead, 252): lots of puns about this being served in the wrong Ord-er, and how one can Ord-er it online as early as tomorrow. Nose: mint chewing gum. The green ones. Mouth: peppermint chewing gum. Finish: very, very minty. Not for me, this. A bit of a one-trick pony. At the same time, if one loves minty chewing gum, this is the One. 5/10

Aberfeldy 21yo 1996/2017 (54.6%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Hogshead, 270b): nose: rancid butter, wine turning into vinegar, then sugary water. Mouth: acidic, with lemon gone wrong. Finish: hard, acidic, lemon-y, it has a slightly redeeming hint of custard lingering in the finish. 5/10

Glen Keith 42yo 1973/2015 (45.8%, Cadenhead Cask End, Bourbon Hogshead): a sample from the vaults, and one that many tonight have not tried. Good to have this opportunity. Nose: buttercups, chamomile, pineapple chamomile, hay, and a touch of leather. Mouth: honey, daffodils, pineapple chamomile. Finish: long, with flowers, yellow-flesh fruits and ginger. This is great. It would likely score better in different circumstances. 8/10

Glenburgie-Glenlivet 24yo 1993/2017 (53%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 175th Anniversary, Refill Claret Hogshead, 216b): my second-most anticipated dram tonight. After trying the wonderful 25yo "shop label," for which notes will appear on this blog in the future, I am impatient to find out if this similar beast is as good. 'Similar' is a strong word; after all, and despite the Authentic Collection label, this is a wine maturation. Nose: ample, it has buttery fruit, melting pears, roasted hazelnuts and pastry. Mouth: soft, silky with a pinch of white pepper, it also has a touch of hay and pillow-y feathers. Finish: dark-chocolate mousse. Completely unexpected. Wow. This is very nice. 8/10

Tomintoul 11yo 2006/2017 (57.2%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Barrel, 240b): it seems odd to me to finish with a non-peated eleven-year-old, but fine. Let us go with the will of the people. Nose: Menthos freshness and oak -- lots of both. Mouth: nutty and nougat-y, ginger-y, peppery. Finish: hot, with ginger and too much wood for me. 4/10

Cosy around the table

Various samples are produced, namely a Linlithgow, a Glen Mhor and a couple of Port Ellens (thanks to the kind donors). I take no notes.
Talking about a recent-ish Malts of Scotland Port Ellen;

JS: "Where do you buy your Malts of Scotland from?"
OF: "Scoma and others. I bought it right before Brexit."
JS: "Of course. Now it costs twice as much."

Great little session, with lots of silly nonsense.

21 August 2017

19/08/2017 Politics

Long time since we had a tasting on these shores, but today, we correct that.
jazzpianofingers, OB, PS and JS join me for a political tasting.

Soundtrack: LinnaMuusikud - Põhjataevalaulud
The guests take a while to arrive. So much so that the first CD ends when we start, and the second begins. jazzpianofingers jokes that it sounds like a lift-off and signals the start of the tasting. Topically, it is:

Soundtrack: Lustmord - Rising

Also, it took an hour to build the MONSTER line-up

For his second appearance, jazzpianofingers did away with the
"I don't want to take notes" nonsense. He came armed to the teeth

Bain's (43%, OB imported by Distell (Europe) Ltd, LG5 29 J 15) (PS): PS explains that, "most politicians are the Bain of my life." It is going to be a long day. Nose: banana, plantain, peach candle (jazzpianofingers), artificial peach flavouring, peach syrup (PS). This nose is sweet, with candyfloss and sweetened strawberry. Mouth: banana, plantain again, peaches in syrup, corn syrup. Finish: corn on the cob, sweet corn, steamed plantain, toasted vanilla (jazzpianofingers). This is a good apéritif, soft and sweet, yet not too much. I had this South African at a festival, glad to try it in better circumstances. 7/10

OB sneezes: "I'm allergic to this!"
tOMoH: "Not surprising: have you ever met a nice South African?"

Michael Inch-Gove-r 20yo 1990/2011 (46%, Angus Dundee for The Whisky Castle Cask Collection No. 15, American Oak Cask, C#6987, 264b) (tOMoH): this is a souvenir from a Speyside trip, a few years ago. I fear it is a bit of a backstabber. ;-) Nose: minty strawberries, if that makes sense. Peach skin, crushed raspberry, then a whiff of earthy mushrooms and forest undergrowth. Vine, freshly-cleaned laundry, then chemical fruit flavouring. Mouth: soft, mellow, almost silky, with a discreet touch of pepper, candyfloss, peach nectar and satsuma. Finish: long, sweet and comforting, with lots of fruit, almond paste, sweet caramel, toffee. It also has something quite bitter that I cannot pinpoint. This is fruity as hell! It is always interesting to confront holiday memories. I was convinced this would be less impressive than when I tried it at the shop. Quite the opposite! Almost Lochside-like, it is. 9/10

PS: "I was really trying to fit a Glen Moray in the theme.
tOMoH: "Theres-or May?"

Food makes its way to the table: artisan bread, dry sausage, olives and an Italian cheese, all courtesy of OB.

Spirit of Freedom 30yo b.2014 (46%, J. & A. Mitchell & Co for the 700th Anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, 14/246, 2014b) (jazzpianofingers): this was bottled as a celebration of Scottish independence (in 1314). Nose: gravel-y, sooty, but also rather fruity, with dates, apricots, nuts, strawberry shavings and dark grapes. The whole is complemented by faded leather. Mouth: strangely, it has bubblegum flavouring too, as did the previous dram. This is more powerful, with hay and chemical bubblegum flavour. It is acidic, with lemon and mandarin juice -- lemon, especially. Finish: a citrus kick, at this point. Lemon and mandarin peels, cloaked in a veil of smoke. Beautiful, this! 8/10

jazzpianofingers (to JS): "Look! Our phones are sitting together!"
tOMoH: "Yeah, one is wearing a burqa, the other one a niqab!"

Soundtrack: Phelios - Astral Unity

Next up is a double-take on Nick Clegg-ellachie.

44.53 22yo d.1989 Lip-smacking, chewy and chunky (51.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 279b) (JS): nose: nutty, peppery, it almost has an old man's scent (though not mine): peppery colone and sweat. Cardboard (PS, selling dreams), pear (PS), then tobacco. The sweat is definitely there, as well as a touch of rubber. Mouth: dry leather first, then it becomes jammy. A bit like biting into an overly-done toast, then jam. It also supplies the gentle bitterness of rubber. Finish: it is now jam on cardboard toast, horsehair, decaying fruit and still distant rubber. Wonderful. 8/10


44.56 23yo d.1989 Sweet and sour creative tension (51.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 300b) (JS): nose: a lot fruitier, this one. It has blueberry, jasmine, flapjacks, and a weird note of leather in a tannery. Mouth: intense, with sponge cake, baked apples, baked plums and a pinch of pepper. Finish: warming, fat and intense. The finish has metal and fruit, as well as fruit stone. 8/10

JS opened those two together, two and a half years ago. They were both good, yet seemed much more similar in character, at least, that is how I remember them. Today, they feel very different. Both shine in their own right. One is more immediate, while the other is more austere.

PS: "As a tasting experience, this is David Cameron's worst nightmare: two Nick Clegg yell-at-mes."

David Cameron-bridge 33yo b.2017 (48.7%, Cadenhead World Whiskies 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Hogshead, 186b) (PS): nose: green banana and sweat, industrial glue, yet that is far away in the back. Mouth: hot plantains. This is strangely green and lacks fruit, a bit. At the second sip, sweet fruit comes up, hot custard and green pepper. It is a silky mouth, mind you. Finish: yes, hot custard and green pepper shavings. 7/10


David Cameron-bridge 25yo 1979/2005 (59.9%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, C#3523, 194b, b#92) (me): nose: PVA glue (primary-school glue), slightly metallic bakery scents -- croisant dough on stainless-steel trays. Coconut yoghurt, ether and other alochol-based disinfectants. This is not for the faint-hearted. Mouth: hot and thin, with white spirit and disinfectant again, as well as very hot croissant dough. Finish: dark fruit, berries, a lot of bakery shenanigan. Wonderful. 8/10

I prefer the 1979, today.

PS: "David Cameron, whom you want to throw off a bridge."
tOMoH: "Mine is obviously Nicola Sturge-Camer-on."
JS: "I suppose they both were in a hogshead?"

jazzpianofingers: "You need to leave early? Are you going to the dabbing convention?"

Tony Bal-blair 22yo d.1975 (46%, Direct Wines Limited First Cask, C#7285, b#36) (OB): nose: olive-flavoured body butter, lemon juice, then all sorts of essential oils. After a few sips, a little smoke comes through -- probably because I know to look for it. Mouth: sweet, sugary, with candied olives, candied pistachios, rehydrated, dried apricots and figs (jazzpianofingers). Finish: wow! A dropkick of smoke, all of a sudden. All the fruits from the mouth are there too (dried apricots, dried figs, plums). This is amazing. Great mix of fruit and smoke. 9/10

PS: "My problem with Balblair is they take their orders from the Bush just outside the distillery."

Soundtrack: The Sisters of Mercy - Floodland

PS: "You can't have a bad break-up with a goth. They might commit suicide, but you're not fussed."

76.55 10yo 1996/2007 Grapefruits and geraniums (60.5%, SMWS Society Cask) (PS): this Mortlach is Theresa May's whisky, PS tells us... "for her Mort-ifying lach of a majority." Nose: ink and earth, putty (JS). Perfume soon comes out, then the strength makes me sneeze. "It is a delicate, fruity Mortlach," he said. Yellow flowers in the spring. Mouth: burning hot, regardless of what the punmaster says. It does have some fruit (quite a lot of candied lemons) and ginger (jazzpianofingers). Finish: candied citrus again (satsumas, mandarins) and lots of ginger. 7/10

jazzpianofingers: "The yellow cherries -- you know, not syphillis, the other one. Physalis."

As expected, the gang focused heavily on UK politics (with the farce it is today, who wouldn't focus on that). I pour the next to balance it out with a foreign character. I will only realise tomorrow that it easily spells Labour too...

Shinzo Abe-rlour 23yo 1989/2013 (54.9%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Hogsheads, 522b) (me): nose: as whacky as I remembered it, metallic and herbaceous, with sage, marjoram, gunmetal, geranium stems, tea bags, earth in a pinewood forest, and then blue oranges. The oranges soon become ripe, rather than rotten. Mouth: soft mouthfeel, good balance, with the softness and acidity of orange juice. the notes of metal and herbs are almost gone. Finish: again, citrus juice, though this time, it is joined by chocolate milk, hints of lime and a bit of crushed, dried sage. Lovely drop, still. 8/10

We go out on the terrace, as jazzpianofingers takes a leave.

Soundtrack: Morgenstern - Cold

Macduff 10yo 2000/2010 (50%, Douglas Laing The Old Malt Cask Advanced Sample, Hogshead, C#6570) (PS): it is politics. They Make-duff laws. Ahem. Nose: buttery as fook. Obiously a mislabelled Glenrothes. PS disagrees. He is drunk. I am soberish. He is cunt-ent (his words, not mine). Avocado paste and butter, butter, butter. Whipped cream being whipped, leather, a milking station, freshly-cut grass, in the distance. Mouth: quite close to the nose, with fresh butter and plant sap. This feels quite strong. And so buttery. It has dry orange peels. Finish: the strongest point of this dram, with lots of flower sap, Virginia tobacco and orange juice. A bit shaky, this, although I do like the finish. 6/10

Talking about the blender's nosing glass championed by whisky consultant Angus McRaild, we note how it is impossible to drink from it with dignity:
OB: "I remember he looked a bit like a prick, when drinking."
PS: "And then he took the glass out."

JS, in a pairing mood, presents Ed & Dave.

Ed Mili-burn 26yo 1979/2005 (58.1%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strengh Collection, Refill Butt, C#26, 531b, b#40) (JS): nose: leather, horsehair, beard, putty and a shy farmyard. This is really austere. It is also really powerful. Later, Turkish delights show up, coated in lots of powdered sugar. Mouth: strong, leathery, with horsehair and orange on steroids. This is pretty aggressive. Finish: woah! Unbelievable mix of earth, steam-punk smoke and dark oranges. This is austere in an old-school fashion. 9/10


Dave Mili-burn 25yo 1976/2002 (58.9%, Douglas Laing for The Whisky Shop, 276b) (JS): nose: smoke, hot metals, then the trademark oranges, greasy rags at a mechanic's. Mouth: orange-y, with more hot metal, tinned mandarins -- sod it, this is amazing. Finish: clay, earth, a hint of rubber, dried orange. Formidable old Millburn. 9/10

I confirm Millburn is my favourite Inverness distillery.

OB: "I would give the Whisky Shop one an edge. But both are Angus McRaild-glassworthy.

Soundtrack: Geinoh Yamashirogumi - Akira - Original Soundtrack

tOMoH: "Have you seen this film, OB?"
OB: "Yes, eight months ago."
tOMoH: "What did you think?"
OB: "My girlfriend was pleased, because I said I preferred Ghost in the Shell; both the film and the music. But it is like comparing those two Millburns: they are both Angus McRaild-glassworthy. If films could fit into a glass. And Angus perhaps can do that."

Double-take on Inver-Gordon Brown.

Inver-Gordon Brown 43yo 1973/2016 (52.3%, Whiskybroker, Bourbon Barrel, C#1300000024) (OB): nose: grassy, mentholated, almost eucalyptus-like (PS), coconut shavings on apple tart, caramel on custard, steamed banana, rolled in coconut shavings. Mouth: warm coconut yoghurt, lukewarm custard and hot pasty with a drop of raspberry juice. Finish: herbs (sage, marjoram, dry basil) and toasted coconut. Later, raspberries show up, amongst gentle horsehair. Lovely. 8/10

Inver-Gordon Brown 43yo 1973/2016 (52.2%, Whiskybroker, Bourbon Barrel, C#1300000034) (OB): nose: much dryer, it still has bakery scents, but also quite a lot of rubber, now. The nose feels much stronger. It has dry wood planks and walnut oil. Mouth: it bizarrely feels almost watery, here, with some polished wood, putty, balsa wood, vanilla and custard. Finish: long and vanilla-laden. It is not super-memorable, but very good. 7/10

I prefer the first, today. I find both lack the blackcurrant I am so fond of in Invergordon.

Soundtrack: Morgenstern / Monokrom - Live @ IWTBF 041203

Tiffon Très Vieille Réserve Grande Champagne Cognac (40%, OB Limited Release) (jazzpianofingers): jazzpianofingers left a while ago, now. He poured us this before leaving, which is nice of him, but did not say how it is related to the theme. jazzpianofingers, if you read us, please post a comment. Nose: some menthol and lots and lots of fruit -- candied angelica the loudest, with also candied orange, cake decoration (PS). Liquorice? Perhaps, or a bit of rubber, leather handbags, tobacco. Mouth: silky, milky and fruity (squashed grapes, plums). So smooth! ;-) Finish: prunes, sultanas, dried figs, plums. Really though, the sultanas dominate. It almost tastes like a Pedro Ximénez sherry. Amazing Cognac, oscillating between 8 and 9. Tonight, it is 8/10

3.79 14yo 1989/2003 In your face, out of doors (53.3%, SMWS Society Cask) (PS): PS delivers the goods, today -- and the bads. Once more, the connection is far-fetched: when they built Portcullis, they ran out of doors. Geddit? Look at the name of the bottling again. Yes. I thought so too. Nose: turnip purée, hard-cheese rind, dry clay, dry cow dung, a cows stable, quite a lot of smoke, and lots and lots of earth. Farmyard, and even some barley, in the back. Finally, vanilla. Mouth: big, smoky and mustardy, with a drop of fruit juice (apricot?). This is pretty powerful. Finish: more simple, here, it has lots of smoke, farmyard notes, then earthy fruits (apples, fermented apricots, grapefruits and roasted pineapple). This is nice. 8/10

Epic tasting. We finish around 23:00, giving an average of 2.375 drams/hour.

18 August 2017

15/08/2017 A couple of drams for the Assumption of Mary

Littlemill 16yo d.1991 (53.8%, The Creative Whisky Company The Exclusive Malts, C#166, 251b): this was interestingly distilled on Burns Night 1991. Nose: hazelnut oil and drying mango peels, hazelnut paste (not that palm-oil-laden Nutella shite), apple pips, apple-cider vinegar, delicate wood varnish. In fact, the polished-wood note grows in intensity, although hazelnut paste remains the dominant. Whiffs of dunnage warehouse, with lichen, old wood, decaying apple. Next to show up is tinned pineapple gone off slightly, and mandarin peels. Mouth: a salad vinaigrette that combines hazelnut oil and apple-cider vinegar. This is rather acidic and nutty. It also has paint thinner and tinned pineapple gone slightly off. The texture, on the other hand, is milky. Finish: good balance of wood, hazelnut, very subtle fruit, discreetly tropical -- mango, likely, but the sample is tired, I reckon. No more of that tinned pineapple gone wrong, but pineapple is still there, in milk, this time -- think of rum-free piña colada. Past its prime, though it is still a good drop. 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, dom666)

Pittyvaich 20yo 1989/2010 (57.5%, OB, 6000b, b#5705): nose: grass and soft cheese rind that becomes almost waxy, if not quite halloumi-like. Perhaps waxy apricot. Spent candle wick, a fishmonger's -- woah! It smells of -- what is it? -- nail varnish in a bakery? White spirit in chocolate milk? A hint of smoke? Oddly, all the above seems to be there. White wine too (Riesling). Much later on, chocolate éclairs come through. What a roller-coaster! Mouth: soft and silky, it has the right amount of spice -- again, not unlike a Riesling. On top of that, varnish, macerated grapes, apricot stones, perhaps ivy leaves? No, softer than that... dandelions! Yes and the sap from their freshly-cut stems. Maybe it has a hint of chalk as well. Finish: long, with turpentine, hay, clay, white wine and macerated grapes. The finish is more simply fruity or wine-y, but that does not detract from the overall enjoyment. 8/10 (Thanks for the dram, adc)