24 April 2012

23/04/2012 St George's Day at the SMWS

Where better to meet up with visiting friends than a quiet place where to get good food and quality drinks? Add St George(*) to the equation and it is definitely a night for Scottish drinks. A quick check reveals our friends want to try some whisky too, since they were in the right place for it. A few jokes about manly vs. girly drams later, the weapons are chosen.

The menu:

39.86 (JS)
3.177 (JG)
25.62 (DS)

18.30 24yo Hippie dram (45.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 221b): an unusual distillery at the SMWS, and not exactly a regular with most bottlers, in fact. Nose: pharmacy, faded bandages stored in a cupboard for too long, then distant vanilla. Mouth: warming and spicy. Finish: a mixture of vanilla and herbs. It does leave a nice, grassy impression with a bit of flint. This one seems even grassier than the (only?) other Inchgower I have tried. Very nice indeed.

125.60 10yo 2001 Expanding universe of flavour (60.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 273b) (JS): nose: ginger bread, orange chocolate. Cracking stuff. Mouth: PiM's (guess Britishers would foolishly call it Jaffa Cakes -- they sometimes lack in the biscuitry department), butterscotch. Finish: here is the weak point, definitely. Not sure if it is the rather high ABV, but something in there does not quite do the trick.

G7.2 (JG)
125.43 (DS)

G7.3 27yo 1984 Fresh toffee and glossy magazines (59.4%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 234b): nose: wood, vanilla (yep, another one of those wood-juice grains), some Cologne or after-shave lotion. A little rounder than G7.2, with some vaguely smoked wood (or is it marinated?) Mouth: oak. Wood juice indeed. It seems to be even woodier than G7.2. A bit too drying though it improves dramatically with water. Finish: long, warming and dry. With water, it turns better and gives out some chocolate. Beautiful. Gets an extra point with water.

28.21 18yo Takes you to sunny places (54.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 279b) (JS): dry and winey, yet also quite agreeable. 8/10

Between those two rounds, we had supper: fish & chips for DS, steak pie for JG, lamburger for JS and canelloni for me. Very good it was.

Pleasant night out to kick-start the week. Relaxed and sweet.

(*) For those unfamiliar with the occasion, it is the day them funny Englishers hang Swiss flags on their cars and pub windows to celebrate the Royal Navy's victory over the one Swiss submarine on Lake Geneva in 1287 b.C. After tracking the craft down for seven and a half month on the lake, Adm. Viscount Oakenweedson managed to score a direct hit with an IR torpedo, damaging the Swiss vessel's cheese bay in the middle of a moonless night. The explosion melted the cheese that then clogged the whole lake and forced the Swiss seamen out of their ship. According to eye witnesses, the mass of cheese spread all the way to Saint-Georges, in the township of Vaud. From that night on, England has celebrated the event every year. The dark hour is known in Switzerland as the Nuit Saint-Georges.(**)

(**) All that might be made up, mind.

22 April 2012

21/04/2012 More and Mór and Mhor

Just like with the Northern Highlands and many other themes, we could have one of these each month for the next decade and never drink the same thing twice. What theme? Well, anything that has 'more', 'mor', or 'mhor' in the name, of course -- yes, 'mhor' has a different pronunciation, but who cares?
The suspects: idealrichard, md, Fixou, JS and myself.

Fixou arrives late, so it is a small challenge to build the line-up. Having said that, he was always going to bring the peat, so his contribution would likely come last anyway.

The menu:

Dalmore 12yo Black Isle (40%, OB Travel Retail Exclusive, b. ca 2003) (provided by myself): an old acquaintance of yours truly, a novelty for the rest of the group. Nose: some sherry (no kidding!), nuts. Mouth: syrupy, oily, lovely. Finish: sweet and fruity. Better than ever, this one. Ideal to start with. 8/10

Glen Mhor 21yo 1976 (43%, TWS Glenkeir Treasures The Gold Selection, 299b) (provided by myself): JS and I tried this one a week earlier and liked it a lot. I even expect it to be the highlight of the day, though considering the low ABV and the subtlety of the W, I feel it necessary to have it early on. Nose: dried flowers, dried fruit (raisins?), a hint of nail polish, marzipan, a nuance of distant charcoal. Mouth: sweet and smooth, still as unbelievable as the first time -- is this really one of those overlooked distilleries? Finish: we are in Normandy and there are apples everywhere! Apple tart that is so dominant, I do not even bother looking for something else. 8/10

64.32 10yo 2001/2011 (59.1%, SMWS Society Cask, ex-Bourbon Barrel, 245b) (provided by JS): JS's contribution is the first SMWS bottling for md and idealrichard. It is also their first Mannochmore. Nose: not as nutty as in my memory and a lot grassier. Caramel, a touch of chocolate, wood. Mouth: vanilla, pine cones, mellowness. Finish: wood varnish, vanilla. A beautiful dram without a doubt. 8/10

Tobermory 15yo (46.3%, OB, b. ca 2008) (provided by myself): the best thing about bringing fresh blood to tastings is that one gets to try well-known bottlings from their collection under different circumstances and find something new in them. Nose: heavy sherry, tyre. Mouth: drying, rubbery. Finish: a tad fruity. Fixou describes it as an entry-level, low-quality dessert that we like all the same. 7/10

vs.

Ledaig 10yo (46.3%, OB, b. ca 2012) (provided by Fixou): Fixou's bottle and there is a difference: peat. Nose: medicinal, hospital. md insists it does not smell like the detergent they use in hospitals, but really like hospitals themselves. A mixture of medicine, sweat, detergent, old bandages, various body fluids, decrepit building materials (he did not say all that, I am translating for him). md meets peat. Mouth: a few nuts. Finish: peat, though it is not overpowering. The first sip puts most off, in fact. After two or three, all agree it grows on them and they find it more and more rewarding. It is not a great whisky, but it is drinkable.

Tobermory 15 + Ledaig 10 (46.3%): let us blend our own single malt, then (what? you can blend single malt?) About two thirds Tob, one third Ledaig. Nose: dominated by peat. A drop would have been enough. It is a nice-ish mix of peat and sherry. The finish is quite longer and not bad at all. Sherry and peat are an odd couple, fighting more often than not. They work quite well, in this case.

Ledaig 4yo 2005/2010 (62.7%, BBr Berrys' Own Selection, Sherry Butt, C#900008) (provided by Fixou): Fixou's fabled Ledaig, at last. How does 'Ledaig' fit the theme anyway? It is produced at the Tobermory distillery, that is how. Nose: wide peat, a sweeping locomotive. Competing sherry and peat, after a while, then smoked turkey. This one needs to breathe a little. Mouth: quite an alcoholic attack (at 62.7%, md and idealrichard say it is the highest strength whisky they have had. Little girls, they are).Slightly drying (likely the sherry's rubber), desserty. Finish: long and drying, and also quite comforting, at this point. Not my favourite dram ever, yet I can see the interest. For such a young whisky, the quality level is unexpected to say the least. 7/10

vs.

Ledaig 10yo (46.3%, OB, b. ca 2012) (provided by Fixou): how does that one do, now? Nose: tamed, in comparison. Butter. Mouth: herbs, full-fat milk. Finish: slight peat, though hardly noticeable, now.

Ardmore 19yo 1992/2011 (49.3%, SD The Single Malts of Scotland, Bourbon Barrel, C#9464, 207b) (provided by idealrichard): funnily enough, both Fixou and idealrichard have bought a bottle for the occasion. Nose: a whole lot fruitier than expected! Instead of the anticipated peat, we get some banana. Mouth: strawberries and cherries, smooth -- we cannot taste any peat at all, probably because our taste buds have soaked in Ledaig 5. Finish: whiff of smoke, then mango! Amazing stuff. So much so that we immediately call the store to reserve a few bottles. 9/10

Off-tasting, we then have:

Laphroaig PX (48%, OB Travel Retail Exclusive) (provided by idealrichard): idealrichard is quite excited to have found it in an airport two days after it was released and bought a bottle without trying it. We all assume this is to become the follow-up to the Triple Wood, itself heir of the beloved Quarter Cask. The mouth is sweet and fresh to a point we wonder if it is indeed a Laphroaig. Finish: fruitier than any Laphroaig I have ever tried, with juicy, dark cherries and elderberry. Sweet, with a bit of coffee, after a while. It is difficult to judge it so late in the line-up, naturally, but it sort of reminds me of 29.109, in a way.

Clynelish 1997/2011 (46%, BBr for Boisdale, Bourbon Cask, C#4704, 298b) (provided by md): we cannot let md go without tasting his bottle, that would be rude. He tried my Dalmore C#16638 a while ago, which sparked his interest in whisky. Upon buying a bottle with a similar label, he ended up with a Clynelish instead (the Dalmore is sold out), likes it, but less. Nose: pear and generally fruity. Certainly the best nose to come out of a Clynelish, in my opinion. Mouth: wet cat rather than dog(!) Finish: a touch of wax, yet the major part is fruit (cherry and strawberry, to be precise). By far the best Clynelish I have ever tasted -- but is it even a Clynelish? It certainly carries little of the house style. Funny how we tried two good Clynelish bottlings in as many tastings, this month. 8/10

A great tasting again, relaxed and easy-going. Glad the new group is taking shape. They were not the most prestigious 'Mor' drams, but who says one is supposed to eat lobster at every meal? Good fun, a few (very) good surprises and a nice atmosphere is all we need. I was obviously fruit sensitive, today, which is a bonus.

To accompany our ramblings, we heard:
Liebezeit
Sons of Retrocity
Songs of Gods and Demons

10 April 2012

08/04/2012 Northern Highlands

A theme we have touched already. However, the region is so rich we could have one every month for the next decade and never drink the same thing twice.
The suspects: dom666, Psycho, kruuk2, JS, ruckus and myself.

We arrive early, so have to have a dram before the proper tasting starts:
Springbank 12yo 1989/2002 Rum Wood (54.6%, OB Wood Expressions, 5700b) (dom666's for me): citrusy to the extreme with a touch of cereals.
Rosebank 19yo 1990/2009 (50%, DL Old Malt Cask 50º, Refill Butt, C#DL5700, 670b) (dom666's for JS)
Rosebank 21yo 1990/2011 (53.8%, OB, 5886b) (JS's for dom666)

The menu:

Glenmorangie Cellar 13 2nd Edition (43%, OB, b. ca 2006) (brought by Psycho): nose: liquorice, ginger bread, forestry. Mouth: creamy, custardy. Finish: herbs. A lot better than in my memories. Probably because I have forgotten the 1st edition, by now. Would love to drink those two face to face. 7/10

vs.

Glenmorangie 10yo (43%, OB, b.1980s) (Psycho): nose: a lot more herbal. Mouth: cream again, very nice. Some vanilla and herbs. Finish: a hint of flint. This is lovely, as usual. 8/10

Glen Ord 11yo Very Cloudy 1998/2009 (40%, SV Un-Chillfiltered Collection, Hogsheads, C#3469+70, 881b) (ruckus): it looks like mead, or even honey; bizarre. Nose: honey! It is mead! Seriously, is it whisky? Touch of lemon. Mouth: fresh, milky, diluted. Finish: gentle and pleasant. Very nice surprise, this one. Probably the first Glen Ord we try at a tasting and it is distinctly better than any other I have had.

125.55 10yo 2001/2011 Nursery Tea (60.4%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 304b) (JS): nose: wood, varnish -- it is the first cask strength of the lot and it makes a difference. Cedar wood. Mouth: sawdust, bitterness, chocolate, coffee. Finish: banana! :-) Apple, apple seeds (hence the bitterness), watermelon (Psycho), green tea. Always nice, this. Dram of the day for Psycho. 8/10

Balblair 1989/2001 (46%, OB) (kruuk2): nose: herbs, forestry. Mouth: creamy, peeled Brazil nuts. Finish: chocolate, torrefaction, light and long.

Glen Mhor 21yo 1976 (43%, TWS Glenkeir Treasures The Gold Selection, 299b) (me): first ever Glen Mhor, here. Nose: old school! Old cardboard, some nuts. Mouth: cream, flint, candle wick. Finish: pepper and vanilla. Very excited with this one. Dram of the day for me.

Enter the food: cheese, delicatessen, bread, goodness, happiness. Bemont cheese: is that Swiss? Nope, from Namur: le Cheval Ayard et les quatre Fils Bemont. :-)

Dalmore 30yo 1973/2003 (42%, OB, Matusalem Sherry Cask) (dom666): long time no see. This was a favourite of mine; let us see if it stands the comparison with the nobler things I have tried since. Nose: sherry. It lacks complexity, perhaps. Mouth: yep, there it is, the apple juice. Finish: apple. This is smashing indeed: bit of sherry influence and a hint of rubber. Nice. It is still not great to confront one's memories, though: although a good whisky, it needs being downgraded a point or two. 8/10

Dalmore 19yo 1980/2000 Lomond Stills (45%, SV for LMdW Stills of Scotland, C#1118) (kruuk2): the only evidence I have found Dalmore have used Lomond stills. Great memories about this one too. Nose: nail varnish, bit of musk (musketeers, naturally). Mouth: ginger bread. Finish: citrus? Something distinctive that I cannot place. Excellent whisky without a doubt. We empty the bottle and shed a tear. 8/10

Clynelish 13yo 1992/2006 (46%, IML Dun Bheagan, C#15097--15099, 762b) (ruckus): nose: quite neutral. Nothing noteworthy at this point, which is good, considering what I usually think of Clynelish. ;-) Mouth: bit of cream and tons of sting. Finish: long and fresh. This is not an exceptional whisky, but the best Clynelish ever to these taste buds. Or the only one worth drinking. 7/10

G5.5 18yo 1993 (65.4%, SMWS Society Cask, Virgin Toasted Oak Hogshead, 243b) (me): nose: wood juice, varnish etc. Mouth: pencil shavings. I stop taking notes at that point. Great dram, this, and dram of the day for ruckus and kruuk2. 9/10

Excellent times, as usual. It felt even more relaxed than ever. The food was delicious, the drinks superb and the puns awful. Unfortunately, SauronTNT did not come, this time, preventing the group from trying a Teaninich, and unfortunately, we had to split off on the early side. It is also odd that we had no Pulteney at all, seeing as we are rather fond of the distillery. Other than that, great.

07/04/2012 Two Ben Wyvises

For the first post on my new blog, I needed something a little out of the ordinary. Why not take the extra step and flirt with History? Not too many people have tried Ben Wyvis at all: it is not only pricy, it is particularly hard to find. Let us top that and have two of them, then. And show off in a very arrogant way at the same time. :-)
Just myself and adc for this one.

Ben Wyvis 31yo 1968/2000 (51%, SV, C#685, 191b): nose: wood! White spirit, pinetree, juniper, sawdust and a bit of cereal. Mouth: wood again, vanilla, cream -- custard, even. Finish: warming, honeyed with some wood. It is long too. This is excellent indeed! 8/10

Ben Wyvis 31yo 1968/2000 (50.6%, SV, C#687, 151b): wider nose, more on varnish than white spirit, which is more agreeable. I like it even better, really: it seems nobler and suits the weather better (cold and humid, fireplace weather). Dark chocolate notes, nearly mocha. Mouth: the ABV is a little more pronounced, though it is not a bad thing. Cream and custard again -- with liquor in it, this time (Grand Marnier?) Finish delivers some chocolate again. 9/10

-685 + 687: embers, burnt wood -- well, it is no Islay, but more pronounced than in either individually. They are both better on their own.

Well glad about the outcome of this one. With such controversial W, my anticipation and anxiety were high: was it going to be drinkable at all? Was it a waste of time and money? I was relieved neither was dreary and delighted that they are in fact a lot better than "not dreary". Will have to try 686, now...