27 March 2017

25/03/2017 Eurodance

Musical themes are great, yet they can be not pure enough. This time, we will focus on one specific genre that the youth of less than twenty cannot know, a genre that was as omnipresent in the early nineties as it is absent today: Eurodance.

BA calls off in the late morning and GL is tied up at work. That leaves Cavalier and JH with myself. JS makes a late entrance too. The low turnout allows for the inclusion of miniatures and samples, which is great.

Dr. Albyn - It's My Life

Glen Albyn 15yo (43%, SV for Master of Malt, 96/533, b.1996) (me): nose fruity and dusty, it opens up to reveal lemon sherbet, then marzipan and chalk, green grapes, green hazelnut and metal (brass, according to JH). It has the tiniest whiff of smoke and blood, if JH is to be believed (probably not). Mouth: soft and gently acidic (or is it bitter?) it has creamy nut paste and peppery honey. Finish: fruity again, with grapes, more nuts and a hint of flint. This is beautiful. Austere, not unwelcoming. 8/10

Cavalier has not had lunch (the fool). We attack on the nibblez: Serrano and Parma hams, two kinds of cheese (one hard cow one, one buffalo mozzarella), olives, artisan bread and dried sausages (herbes de Provence, tomato). All delicious.

Also, Cavalier thought it fit to get rid of his expired crisps.
Cheers, mate!

Glen Eskimos & Egypt - Fall From Grace vs. E-Rotic - Max Don't Have Sesk With Your Esk

Glenesk 12yo (40%, OB, b. ca late 1980s) (me): I had this ca 1993, when Eurodance was kicking booty; wonderful to get to try it again. Nose: cooked cabbage, salted cabbage stew (Cavalier, who is not keen on the nose), a chemistry experiment at school (JH). I get pickled pearl onions and not much else. Chlorine (JH), kimchee (Cavalier and JH). Mouth: oily, it has the texture of mayonnaise (yum!) and a pinch of mustard powder. Finish: a gentle alcohol kick, then earth and not much else. It leaves a texture in the mouth, rather than a taste. I want to rate it 7, yet if it were not a closed distillery, I would probably stick with 6/10

Glenesk 1984/2004 (43%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, JD/DCG) (me): nose: earthy, with a few drops of lime juice, dried grapefruit peels, ginger powder and turmeric (Cavalier). Mouth: mellow, almost watery, with mustard powder and ginger, as well as saké (JH). Finish: faded leather, dried orange peels, a hint of rubber. This is lovely and unanimously declared better than the official bottling. 8/10

Cavalier -I was in a band in the '80s.
JH -Did you play the guitar?
tOMoH -What gave that away?
Cavalier -Are you a psychic-atrist?
Spring has descended onto the country. We proceed to the terrace.

Culture Beat - Mr. Bunnaha-Vain

Bunnahabhain 26yo (45.9%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 246b) (me): I am on a roll. Nose: dried dates (JH) -- in fact, this is mega-fruity! Apples, pears, orchard fruit in general, even apricot. Tart, with waxy lemon skins. JH notes peanuts and pencil sharpener too. Mouth: honeysuckle and apple, though it also has an unexpected bitterness to it; unripe grapes, perhaps. Finish: lovely orchard fruits again, with juicy pear the dominant, pear compote and pineapple. 8/10

OTT - I Can't Give You Anything But My Love

Here is a link, because I cannot find a video.

Irish 24yo 1991/2016 (46.8%, MoM Single Cask Series, Bourbon Barrel, C#10691, b#004) (Cavalier): the (stretched) connection is that OTT is (was?) an Irish boyband, and Irish whiskey is always over the top (OTT). Good effort from Mr. Cavalier. Nose: tropical-fruit explosion. Buttery mango, plain and simple. Fresh figs soon join the party (in late August, says Cavalier), as well as maracuja. Later on, it is dried leaves, though the fruit comes back like a fanfare. Mouth: buttery mango again, perhaps augmented with a pinch of ground cloves. The texture is milky, or rather, it is that of melted butter. Papaya is there and pencil-sharpener blade. Finish: fruity as hell, it has chocolate milk and culminates with a roundhouse kick of passion fruit in the teeth. An amazing fruit bomb, very intense. 10/10

Inter-Mission - Piece Of My Hart

Linlithgow 25yo 1982/2007 (51.4%, Murray McDavid Mission Gold Series, Bourbon Casks, Cognac Finish, 1800b) (me): nose: big, full of dust and dunnage warehouse scents, ground fruit stones, cocoa powder (JH), cinnamon (JH). This still has a mildly hot nose, with a touch of mustard. Mouth: warm and gently drying. The Cognac influence is obvious, here, with characteristics of grape eau-de-vie. Finish: marvelously mellow, it has subtle chocolate. Cavalier reckons it is, "like drinking summer." 9/10


St Magdalene 23yo 1982/2006 (56%, Hart Brothers Finest Collection imported by Marsalle Company) (JS): nose: this is dustier and rougher, whilst in keeping with the high quality. Musty, with wooden staves and a bit of plastic, before it turns grassy, herbaceous (aromatics). It even gives out plum eau-de-vie and beeswax. This is nice. Mouth: a pronounced fruitiness, mostly peach, and horsepower. Finish: the strength numbs the taste buds, but the fruit is wonderful, accompanied by more wooden staves and musty warehouse scents. Water lets vinegar emerge on the nose. Wonderful to try those back to back! 9/10

Inter-Mission (Gold Series) - Piece Of My Hart (Brothers)
Get it?

I know the lads are busy people. They have cleared their agenda and are up for the next challenge, though. We already used that pun a while ago, but it was a different crowd and the combinations are endless anyway.

Captain Hollywood Project - Mor And More And More

76.117 25yo d.1988 A grand old lady in the piano shop (48.4%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 248b) (me): for those who are not au fait with Society codes, this is a Mortlach. Leftover from a tasting. Nose: this is flowery, with waxy fruit (apples?) until milk chocolate shows up. Mouth: mellow, with chocolate milk and aromatics. Finish: soft, fruity, with lots of milk. Lovely and so far away from the meaty, official house style. 8/10


Dalmore 25yo 1990/2016 (56.3%, Cadenhead Single Cask, Sherry Butt, 474b) (me): nose: tobacco leaves, embers, drying wood stain, dust and rancio (quite pronounced). Mouth: rancio to the max. It has notes of old sherry and old rum. Peppery and intense. It feels like chewing on an old cigar. Finish: noble furniture, wax (Pledge), dark fruit with a drying touch. 8/10 (thanks SW for the sample)


Mannochmore 16yo 1977/1994 (61%, Cadenhead) (me): nose: pepper (JH), cedar wood. This is very strong. Hot galangal, pickled gherkins, pencil shavings. Mouth: mellow at first, it grows to frightening intensity. Hot. It does retain honey and resin nonetheless, vanilla sprinkled on chilli. Finish: surprisingly short. The heat remains, not much else else. Perhaps fleeting wood and honey. 8/10

JH -It is insanely strong.
Cavalier -It whacks you!
tOMoH -It is not a Clynelish. It does not wax you.

Springbank for Hitler

A reference to Springtime for Hitler: A Gay Romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden in Mel Brooks' comedy: The Producers.

Not Eurodance, yet sufficiently funny (and far-fetched) to warrant inclusion.

Springbank 12yo 2000/2012 (52.7%, OB Wood Expressions, 6y Refill Bourbon Casks + 6y Fresh Calvados Casks, 9420b) (JH): nose: "it is a dirty Springbank," says Cavalier. Farmy, yet also full of engine oil. A car mechanic's. This is austere and complex, with metallic tools, old furniture, almost falling apart (that will be sawdust and wormwood). JH tells us about an "abstract smokiness," which Cavalier translates as "conceptual smoke." "Dreamy smoke" and "ethereal mist" soon follow. Silly geese. Mouth: this is actually quite balanced, though it grows in intensity. Hot pepper, Szechuan pepper, walnut stain and engine oil. Finish: peaty and farm-y, it has soot, coal dust, barley, farmyards, cold ashes (JH) and maybe fruit from the Calvados. The distillate pretty much destroys the Calvados maturation, though. 8/10

Haddaway - What Is Love? (Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, Bowmore)

Bowmore 12yo 2001/2013 (58.5%, Blackadder Raw Cask, Oak Hogshead, C#20063, 312b, b#21) (Cavalier): I am delighted by the puns on display, today. This one might just take the bisquit. Nose: huge peat, with also brine and much horsepower. Milk appears, almost turned sour, growing fruit (tangerine) and, eventually, tropical fruit (mango), as well as fishing nets. The fruit is quite something, in fact. Mouth: hot, smokey, with lots of apricot compote on a coal stove. Finish: very powerful, with a wonderful smokey/fruity profile (pineapple, pink grapefruit, lychee) and crushed mint. This might be worth 8, but tonight, it feels like a 9/10

Off-tasting, Cavalier offers this, which I cannot refuse.

Caol Ila 27yo 1983/2011 (46%, The Whisky Talker Mo Òr Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, R#48, C#4824, 400b, b#389) (Cavalier): nose: the refined peat that is so typical of those early-1980s Caol Ilas, complemented by melon cubes, dust, satsumas, barbecued grapefruits. Wow. Mad fruitiness, interlaced with smoke. It also displays dry mud on an old shovel, oscillating between fruity and farm-y notes. Mouth: it feels much warmer than 46%. Farmyard is in the background, with also coal dust (or is that caol dust?) Finish: this is ridiculous. Überfruity again (grapefruit, pineapple, melon, Chinese gooseberry), it has the same delicate smoke as the nose and palate. Perfect. 10/10

I pour my comrades Glen Mhor 21yo d.1976 (43%, The Whisky Shop Glenkeir Treasures The Gold Selection, 299b), which they seem to like enough.

During the course of the day, we hear:

2 unlimited - Get Ready
The Unity Mixers - Dance Computer 1993
The Unity Mixers - Dance Computer Vol. 2 (Intermission - Piece Of My Heart plays right as I present the two St Magdalene, casually)
The Unity Mixers - Dance Computer Vol. 3

And some 1980s synth-pop mixes, as the attendance is exhausted by the bombastic Eurodance mixes. Pf.

Brilliant tasting, as usual. Nice way to send JH out of the country, since he is emigrating. Fare well, JH!

I wear this only as a wink to IR, who could not make it, today.
Sash! - Edradour

20 March 2017

19/03/2017 Two recent drams

It has been pretty quiet for a month, now. After the event in Glasgow, I needed a bit of a detox. Besides, the two events I was invited to since, I could not make. That includes the March outturn at Cadenhead's. Hm. I still managed to get my hands on some of the offerings for an out-of-sync tasting.

Glenlossie-Glenlivet 23yo 1993/2017 (53%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Hogshead, 216b): for the 150th anniversary, the bottles had received a different livery altogether. Not so, this time, yet each bottle comes in a special edition box and has a metal tag attached to it. It is a special release indeed. Anyone who follows this blog will know I have a soft spot for Cadenhead's Glenlossies, so this is interesting indeed. Nose: old vinegar, kept in a wooden larder, brine. The vinegar speaks louder and louder -- it is not a horribly acidic one, rather subtle, the kind that would work a treat in a vinaigrette. Polished dashboards and a little old wax. Far in the back, herbs show up -- thyme or crushed sage leaves. Mouth: it blends the vinegar and the wax beautifully, here. A vinaigrette with a spoonful of honey make for a mellow and pleasant mouth, gently acidic, but that is not overpowering. A few drops of apricot juice and a trait of lime come out too, alongside controlled woodiness. There is an almost-white-wine-y character on the palate. Finish: the waxy and honeyed tones are wonderful, with just a little bit of crushed, green hazelnut to complete the picture. It is as mellow as soft, dried apricots with, again, a hint of acidity, white-wine style. Lovely. 8/10

Inchgower 27yo 1989/2017 (53.2%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Hogshead, 234b): nose: it is walnut oil, at first, yet soon turns into sharp tropical fruit (pineapple), then back to nut oil, then grapefruit -- wow! Lettuce with walnut oil, scented shampoo, grapefruit peels. Mouth: soft and fruity on the palate, it has peach juice, apricot jam, a pinch of white pepper, tiny, tiny, and enough acidity to seem like a Chardonnay. Finish: chocolate milk, cocoa, comforting and soothing... until tropical fruits start dancing on the taste buds (pineapple, pink grapefruit, Chinese gooseberries and even hints of mango). This is superb! 9/10 (thanks SW for the samples)

23 February 2017

19/02/2017 The Whisky Show Old & Rare (Day 2 -- Part 2)

The story starts here.

While we keep a presence at the table, others keep bringing drams to try.

'Oh! Hi, pat gva.'
'Try this!'

DH and MV have a lively conversation
Springbank 31yo 1966/1997 (52.1%, OB Local Barley, Bourbon Oak Cask, C#488): I mistakenly claim I have had this and only take a drop. Love it. Beautiful wood influence, magnificent balance of power, great whisky. Still, I believe it is overrated, as is the rest of the series -- or the few I have tried, at least.

SLK finally makes an entrance. He was at the Clynelish vs. Highland Park masterclass, earlier, as were MV, whom we met yesterday, and MR, who promptly join us and let us try Highland Park St Magnus (100° PROOF, OB) and Highland Park 30yo 1955/1985 (53.2%, GMP for Intertrade, 216b). The latter, I have already had.

Glen Grant 50yo (49.4%, GMP Book of Kells for The Whisky Exchange, Refill Sherry Hogshead, C#3720): nose: as with so many drams here, the depth of this is flabbergasting. It has old books, wet stones, old furniture. Mouth: superb balance, with ground, dried orange, old books again. Finish: slightly drying furniture wax and marzipan. 10/10

'Oh! Hi, pat gva.'
'You should try this.'

Stromness unknown age (unknown ABV, OB): yes, this is from the Stromness distillery that closed down in 1928. A ghost hunter's wet dream, to say the least. This one was, of course, not available to the general public. The organiser is not very good at keeping a secret, or even at being discreet, though. 'How is it?' asks a passer-by. 'Educational,' says pat gva. Refined peat and smoke, roasted barley. The smoke gets quite loud in the finish, while the mouth is very watery. It is obviously a spectacular box to tick, yet I cannot help but think this has spent too long in glass and it has evaporated. Almost impossible to rate, because of that, but I will do it anyway. 7/10

(If someone has a picture of the bottle of Stromness or information about age, ABV, bottling date or anything, please get in touch. I did not see the bottle at all)

Table mates pour this undisclosed Speysider

At this stage, the drams fuse from every corner. Between my table mates, JS, who is our of control, pat gva, the Swissky Mafia, MV and others, I simply cannot get up to get my own. Also, I am out of tokens.*

* I will discover tonight that two tokens have gone AWOL in my trousers pocket. There are so many things in my pockets (flasks, glasses and business cards) I cannot find the tokens during the day, argh!

Millburn 18yo 1978/1997 (65.6%, GMP Cask, C#3166): nose: rather austere, with fruit and a strong mineral character. Smokey too. Mouth: hot and spicy, before it turns velvety and creamy. Finish: warming, with something akin to high-strength wine. 8/10

Royal Lochnagar (unknown ABV, John Begg, b. late 1930s): nose: animal, leathery, with animal smoke -- wait! What? A herd of wet dogs around a camp fire. There. That is better. Mouth: velvety and peachy. Finish: milk chocolate, creamy as fook, with a hint of bitter coffee. 9/10

Hard to figure out from the picture, but this is a scene of nuclear hilarity

The Swissky Mafia giggle like schoolboys who just made a prank. I need not ask why; they are too proud to tell me.
They approached Serge Valentin (of whiskyfun.com -- he was doing the Clynelish bit of the masterclass) with a camera in hand. As he was making sure his hair was presentable, they asked him... if he would take a picture of them!
Shits 'n giggles indeed.

'Hi, pat gva.'
'Try this Sheriff's Bowmore 7yo'
It turns out to be watery, but the nose!...

7.11 17yo 1976/1994(59.6%, SMWS Society Cask): nose: fresh and grassy, with hay and small flowers (saxifrage). Mouth: flowery, then ginger heat and vinegar come out. Finish: green wood, ginger and galangal. This is not what I expected, but good all the same. 8/10


We observe the group of Asians at our table, who have tried some of the most expensive whiskies on display and, according to the exhibitors, have downed them in seconds. Although it is good that the whisky is being drunk, we are at loss to understand the lack of patience and respect for the liquid, even given the festival conditions. Their show seems like a navigation game to tick boxes, much the same way people were collecting Pokemon, in 2016. I cannot help but think they are missing the point, especially after seeing one spend over an hour on the phone with his parents in the middle of the flipping festival. It takes all sorts, I guess.

pat gva, who is infinitely more patient and magnanimous than I am, offers them his Miltonhaugh (see earlier). They study the label carefully, but seem unimpressed and struggle to show much gratitude -- or perhaps it is down to cultural difference, I do not know. In any case, one leaves his full glass on the table.

Glen Mhor 1963/1994 (40%, GMP): nose: so fruity, with plasticine and gentleness, pears and pomelos. Mouth: elegant and delicate, it has pear compote. Finish: soft and classy, with squashed peach flesh. 9/10

I spot SS with an empty glass and run up to him. I ask him what his favourite dram is, after two days. He does not answer, but something more surreal happens.

'Do you remember we talked about auctions, the other day?'
'Errr... yes?' I lie.
'Come! I will introduce you to someone... This is IGY. She is in charge of the auction site. [to IGY] IGY, this is my friend from Switzerland. [to me] We are trying to set up partnerships with different countries. A, B and C are covered, now we are looking at D, E, F and others. Right, I will let you discuss.'
And off he goes.


'Hi IGY, I am actually from Belgium (it is in the name, innit) and I do not live there any longer. Nice to meet you, but I do not see how I can help you.'

IGY asks me a few questions regardless and figures out pretty quickly that I can indeed not do much for her. We have a slightly awkward chat (I have been drinking for five hours!) before she offers me a drop of:

Lagavulin 24yo 1991/2016 (52.7%, OB 200th Anniversary, Sherry Butt, 522b): it is a Lagavulin, bold and peaty. I do not care much for it, to be honest. I give it to SLK, who is a much better audience for it.

Linkwood d.1961 (40%, GMP, b. ca 1990): nose: mentholated tobacco. Mouth: more mentholated tobacco; the menthol freshness is strong. Finish: menthol, grapefruit slices, lemon. Lovely. 8/10

Laphroaig 12yo (43%, OB imported by Bonfanti, ceramic jug): the label reads: 'Bonfant.' Ha! Ha! Nose: jam on toast. Mouth: jammy and marmalade-y, amazing. Finish: jam, preserved fruit -- phwoar! 10/10

I run to Skinner's stand to take pictures of the bottles I missed. A punter is timidly trying to buy the remainders:

'What do you do if you don't have enough whisky left to take the bottle back?'
'Fill it with tea and sell it on eBay,' I say.

It did not get a laugh, that one :-)

Long John jug

The show is over, people are leaving. We are simply delaying the inevitable.

Dailuaine 30yo d.1973 (46%, Direct Wines Limited First Cask, C#14736, b#70): nose: grassy, with hay and drying citrus peel. Mouth: citrus-y and creamy, lemon yogurt. Finish: long and milky. This is lovely. 9/10

Littlemill 17yo 1966/1984 (46%, Cadenhead): nose: fruity wine. Mouth: slightly drying, with the freshness of green grapes. Finish: long, fruity, sharp. More green grapes come through. 10/10

Springbank 1965/1987 (46%, Brae Dean Int. imported by Moon Import The Birds, Sherry Cask, C#367, 504b, b#462): nose: rancio, tobacco, menthol and stellar fruit. Mouth: fresh menthol and a hint of Virginia tobacco. Finish: menthol, tobacco, walnut flesh, walnut. Beautiful. 9/10

Time to bid EG and GG good bye, at the far end of the room. Nadi Fiori says good bye too and tells me to eat pasta.

'Actually, I could eat pasta, right now.'
'It is a piece of advice! Eat more pasta!'

We leave pat gva (we will see him again in the morning) and MV, who needs to prepare for his flight. He will tell us tomorrow morning that his suitcase finally made it to Glasgow, hours before he has to leave.
Time to go. Apart from the exhibitors dismantling their stands and the cleaners, we are the only ones left.

What a day!

My mood and impressions after day 2 are far more positive than yesterday's. This formula requires a lot of planning and discipline, yet it can make sense. Well glad I joined in on the fun, after all. It was also much more pleasant with seats and tables to spend time at, although it made for less efficient dramming (or did it?)

As many have observed, though: where are the locals? I think we saw half a dozen Scots only. I suspect the price point is too high to appeal to them and, considering most of the whisky enthusiasts live elsewhere (south of the border, the Continent, Asia, ...), this unfortunately might be perceived as an upper-class shindig that the locals cannot afford and are not interested in, with a similar effect to setting a golf club for billionaires in a ravaged, post-industrial town. Of course, this is where whisky is made. I simply am not sure how it is perceived by the local clientele, the very people who make the whisky.

Another oddity is that some stalls were almost always empty. Then again, some prices seemed less fair than others, and the offer varied quite dramatically, from eight bottles at Catawiki's to over 150 at Bero's. It made certain stands more popular than others and some exhibitors look sometimes very 'ronery.'


Now would be a good time for food. I fancy a curry. The Swissky Mafia took JS's and my recommendation for lunch, earlier, and went to Bread Meats Bread. They will now follow us anywhere when it comes to food.

The Wee Curry Shop it is, with backup plan at the Pig and the Butterfly.

The WCS is almost empty; they must be reaching the end of their shift. I believe it is with a mixture of satisfaction and dread that they see seven of us pass the door (SLK will join us after he has checked in).
One quick glance and the waiter goes, 'Seven pints?'
Laughs all round.

We giggle like schoolgirls after a gin and tonic when CD observes the waiter looks like Dave Broom; he *sort* of does -- a tanned Dave Broom.

One of the Mafiosi goes to the loo. When he comes back, the waiter asks the whole restaurant if it is OK to close the toilets for twenty minutes. More laughter (it seems to be unrelated, by the way).

The food is the usual great, with haggis pakoras stealing the show for everyone. No doubt they will go down in legend, as the fabled haggis nachos the Swissky Mafia had in Campbeltown. I have lamb sunghundi, JS has chilli garlic chicken and we share a peshwari naan and a saag panneer broccoli

Haggis pakoras
Chilli garlic chicken
Lamb sunghundi
Saag panneer broccoli

After the meal, CD pulls out a 1993 Laphroaig, which ends up in my mango lassi -- tropical fruit and peat, lovely.
R pours a dram of the Tomatin 20yo d.1965 (40%, GMP CC), which we had yesterday and still goes down a treat.

Possibly the highlight of the whole weekend, however, is when PG empties a sample in a nosing glass and passes it around for dessert. A terrifying intensity, this -- think of Listerine. It is Karuizawa 1983/2014 (59.1%, OB for Nepal Earthquake Appeal, Sherry Cask, C#3557). I am not usually a fan of the distillery, but after the curry, this is top notch.

SLK departs we leave the restaurant: he has an early flight tomorrow morning. The path back to our respective accommodations takes us past the Pot Still. That is where DH takes a leave. We enter, of course, and bump into the whisky-loving pianist, ceremoniously taking notes. He tells us we smell of curry...

...and spends ten minutes sniffing our clothes!

Great day. Legendary night.