The weather forecast is good, which means we will likely end up on the terrace again (yay).
The suspects: EG, MR, OB, MS, JS, BA and tOMoH. XR unfortunately calls off on the day -- I reckon he partied too much last night.
Dram 1 (MS, served blind): "I have been irritated that it is so difficult to impress tOMoH," says MS. He then bought an atlas, read a lot and went for this. Nose: eau-de-vie (apple? Is this Calvados? "No, it is Scotch," we are told), mincemeat vodka (BA tries to impress us with his brewing skills already), "Tamnavulin," ventures EG. I reckon it is young, less than 10, while EG thinks it is 22. It has delicate garden flowers and bushes, as well as freshly cut grass. Mouth: barley sugar, lots of dried herbs on the barbecue (oregano, rosemary, sage). The meat notes from the barbecue are tame. Finish: a soft veil of smoke presents itself, with dried herbs thrown into a campfire, and still that sweet eau-de-vie quality to it -- the perfect apéritif, lovely. We are told it is a closed distillery within close distance of MS's favourite distillery. A dead give-away. It is: Imperial 20yo 1995/2016 (46%, SV The Un-Chill Filtered Collection, Hogsheads, C#50248+50249, 428b) 7/10
Dram 2 (tOMoH, served blind): nose: marzipan, ground almonds, hints of exotic fruits behind (a fruit crumble quality, really). Mounds of dust and yes, tons of ground almonds. Nice nose, this, as I expected. Mouth: low ABV, this. It might have evaporated too much, because it seems lower than the 43% advertised by the label. Soft, delicate, velvety, though it is not thick at all. More ground almond and gentle fruit -- nothing exuberant. Finish: beautiful, with many distant fruits and the bitterness of coffee (BA), yet without any of the coffee's nastiness. This is below 43%, probably and also not one of the legendary expressions from this distillery, yet it is easily quaffable. Someone guesses it is a Springbank. It is in fact: Lochside 22yo 1966/1989 (43%, SV, C#7253-7255, 800b) 7/10
Tamdhu 13yo 1990/2003 (43%, William Maxwell Dun Bheaghan, Sherry Finish, C#9041-9043, 2868b) (me): I selected this specially for MS, who tried a Tamdhu 1961 GMP Rare Old recently and found it to be the worst drop he ever had. Hoping this is a better experience for him. Nose: concentrated soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce. Eventually, pickled onions -- big, red, pickled onions. Mouth: different to the nose, it is now barbecue sauce and elderberry, sweet and viscous. Finish: more barbecue sauce, cola, sweet syrup, very sweet. 6/10
Enter radishes and sausages -- Provençale and pheasant). I manage to injure myself while cutting the sausage, so dry it now is. Great taste, though.
Longmorn 29yo 1985/2014 (51.9%, Hunter Laing Old & Rare a Platinum Selection for K&L Wines, 251b) (JS): nose: an ample smell of fresh herbs and citrus peels and a soft, burnt wood note. Mouth: we are shifting gears in terms of strength; this is fresh, creamy, with blueberries. Finish: long, generous, with much herbs again, vinegar, and a touch of unripe fruit. This is remarkably close to the SMWS bottlings from 2011--2013. I like it. 8/10
|The label reads: "Ay, Caramba!"|
But in Japanese
Tomatin 38yo 1976/2015 (47%, OB for Whisky Hoop, C#31, 190b): a rarity if we ever saw one. A Tomatin that age is not exactly a frequent sight, but this one is a Japanese bottling to boot. OB and I were unknowingly bidding against each other for it recently. It went too high for me, not knowing what it tasted like. He won it. When he told me, I was glad it was in the family, so to speak. I am behind, due to my taking notes; the others detect wood, lots of it, not to a point it is unpleasant, but it is certainly not what they hoped for. Let us see. Nose: decaying fruit, tropical, red and juicy, runny, even. This is wonderful and more complex than I will be able to make it read. It opens up to unleash more and more fruit (mango, peach), without ever completely getting rid of the noble wood or old furniture touch that is typical of whiskies of that age. Mouth: perfect balance, which is not so much a surprise -- I have always thought the best ABV is between 40 and 50% when it is achieved naturally (not watered down). Red fruit, pepper and tropical fruit -- phwoar! Complex and marvellous. Finish: banana milk, almond-flavoured soy milk, a drop-kick of tropical fruit. Challenging and luscious at the same time. I am upset that I lost this at auction (the chances of finding it again are slim), happy that it went to someone kind enough to share it. 9/10
BA is concerned that his whisky will underperform after the previous one. I say we need a drop of grain to reset the palates. Amusingly enough, MS's music selection is currently on Far East Movement - Like A G6. The grain I pour to cleanse the gobs is Port Dundas 23yo Vom Fass. Port Dundas bears SMWS code G6. Ha! Geeks. :-)
Potters 26yo b.2016 (58.3%, Cadenhead's World Whiskies, Bourbon Barrel, 204b) (BA): quite excited to try this: it seems to fly off the shelf on a regular basis. What is the hype about? Nose: nail varnish, through and through. This is strong and seems rather simple -- a simplicity I like a lot! Grain goodness, innit. With water, nail polish becomes even more pronounced, if that was even possible. Mouth: warming, eh? This is really a grain (made with Indian corn, the label tells us), with woody wumdrops, wood stain, turpentine, that sort of things. Not complex at all, but I like it. Water turns it into a carpenter's workshop. Finish: hot, full of popcorn and wood varnish. Water does not alter the finish at all. This will never become legendary, yet it is perfectly appropriate at this stage. 7/10
We talk about keytars (keyboards worn and "played" as a guitar -- a typically 1980s feature, for our young readers.
MS -It's crazy, it makes no sense, but it looks so cool. That someone came up with the idea to play a keyboard that way is genius.
MR -I play the keyboard and a keytar is so uncomfortable.
MS -That's the difference between the Devo entrepreneurship and you or I.
41.74 12yo d.2003 All the fun of the fair (59.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 114b) (MS): nose: candy floss, pastries and herbs, nail varnish -- this is rather grainy, actually. Marzipan, then custard. It evolves quite a bit on the nose. Mouth: hot, with burning pastry and herbs again. Finish: hot and... FRUITY! Cherries, strawberries. My notes become less systematic. Must be the temperature. 7/10
Clynelish 1997/2013 2nd Release (48%, Wilson & Morgan Barrel Selection, Marsala Finish) (EG): nose: meaty and leathery, with hazelnut liqueur (OB), the smell of a herd of cows, then it develops to unveil ashes and barbecue. Mouth: dirty in a mechanic's-workshop sort of way -- oil, ash and metallic tools. Finish: warming (not quite the best day to drink this), with cured meat, spent wick and candle wax. A mix of sweet and burnt. Good Clynelish. 7/10
Caol Ila 32yo 1984/2016 (52.9%, Cadenhead's Small Batch, Bourbon Hogshead, 234b) (OB): OB brought the goods, today! Nose: a deluge of refined peat, struck matches, oysters, fishing nets, tractor tyres and clams from the fish market. Is this coastal and farmy? Mouth: similar to the nose, with a lot of horsepower and a lovely balance. It is, again, a mix of farmy and coastal notes, with the latter slightly more prominent. Water sweetens it dramatically, to a point candy floss comes up. Finish: malted barley and smoke, wonderful, refined and delicate, like an old Caol Ila should be. 8/10
Islay Malt 10yo 1988/1999 (56.7%, GMP for GDA Milan, II/BE) (EG): only the Truffle Pig™ could come up with a bottling like this. Nose: burnt flour and burnt flowers. To put it simply, this is a bouquet of flowers at a barbecue. It also has merbromin. Mouth: barbecued grapefruit, little else. Finish: more barbecued grapefruit. This is superbly balanced. Everyone reckons it is a Bowmore. 8/10
MR has kept her bottle wrapped too, so we can try it blind. We try to guess the distillery before she pours. I take the biscuit. MR tells how she got the bottle as a leaving present when she recently changed jobs.
122.19 16yo Oranges in a coal cellar (50.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 79b) (MR): one sniff and BA knows who offered MR the bottle: it has Dr CD written all over it. Nose: sulphur and freshly-tanned leather. Mouth: soft at first, the leather quickly comes back, crushing everything in its path. Alongside it, we find a minty lamb pasty -- yum! Finish: hints of chocolate. I forget to take more notes. Long day, you see. 7/10
EG makes an escape. He is about to move away from the country, which means this was one of, if not the last tasting for him, at least for a while. A shock and a disappointment. The balance of the group will be different. It is only good bye, though: the whisky world is a tiny one.
We finally venture onto the terrace, now the scorch is mostly behind us. The light breeze is a delight.
Laphroaig 10yo b.2016 (59.2%, OB, B#008, LL0024/LL0025) (BA): nose: bacon, malted barley, honey, honey-coated puffed rice (Kellogg's Smacks, in other words). There is also a note of herbs -- tarragon? Mouth: powerful, bacon-y, with something else... merbromin? Not so much. Old bandages, perhaps, tincture of iodine. Finish: quite similar, full of barbecued bandages and merbromin, definitely. This is medicinal alright. 7/10
OB goes. He is only 45 minutes late for his concert. MS tells us about his childhood with barnyard animals, namely geese, including a gander named Pinocchio:
"It's ok to grab a goose by the neck and throw it away, because their neck is strong, not fragile."
"I had goose friends as well, but Pinocchio wasn't one of them. I hung out with Pinocchio, but he was a dickhead."
We are amused.
Since it would be rude to send those good people home without a nightcap, I pour more. MS and BA get Cadenhead's Islay Live Cask, JS gets a Glenugie 26yo 1982/2008 DL OMC (which I end up drinking, as she is too tired to carry on), I go for G5.5. Since we were discussing price and quality with MR (namely what a reasonable price is for Bowmore Bicentenary), I give her Bowmore 32yo 1968/2001 OB.
Once all that is finished, I give everyone a Cadenhead's Islay Live Cask with Passõa. They do find it strange, yet of course, they cannot tell me what it is they are drinking. Once revealed, BA insists on doing the same with the Laphroaig 10yo B#008, which works quite well.
People leave one by one, save for MS. We chat away with another dram of his lovely Imperial 20yo. He is about to pour another 41.74 when I stop him. We will finish with a Linlithgow 24yo 1982/2007 (50%, DL The Old Malt Cask 50º, Refill Hogshead, C#DL3560, 303b).
Life is often challenging. Today, it was good.