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)

13/08/2017 The vegetable garden tasting

It is that time of the year, when Psycho throws a party at his gaff. The theme is a mixture of a) A summer tasting in the garden; b) Our group calling sediments in the bottle 'vegetable' and; c) An opportunity for bad puns. Mostly c).

The suspects: JS, adc, MPD, ruckus, kruuk2, dom666, Psycho and myself.

Another ambitious line-up

Bunch of paparazzi

Psycho is busy in the kitchen, yet we start nonetheless.

Knockando 1989/2001 (43%, OB, L44P 03762669) (Psycho): this is deemed in theme, because it is floral. Poor effort from Psycho, who realises it and swiftly breaks the cork, in an attempt to add vegetables to the liquid. Nose: light vanilla, hints of flowers. This is really quiet. Hay? Very little is happening, here. Mouth: it feels oak-driven, with vanilla, mead, coconut and a few herbs (oregano). Finish: soft, with coconut and custard, a pinch of herbs and a nice touch of caramel. This will never cause a revolution, yet it is a good set opener. 7/10

The next two spell "T or Coffey," two plants which dom666 grows in his garden, it would seem.

Secret Still 01.01 50yo 1955/2005 (45%, GMP Secret Stills, Sherry Butt, C#1312) (dom666): a Talisker, of course, and the 'T' in question. Nose: this is still amazing, with rich sherry, toffee, Scottish tablet, noble wood, lacquered wood, prunes, cola. Crazy depth. Nuts and dried fruits (figs, prunes, sultanas). Mouth: syrupy, with a gentle, woody dryness and treacle. Later on, rancio and dried fruits (dates, figs and prunes again). Finish: sticky, syrupy, cloying, with wood bitterness, lots of treacle and toffee. Wonderful. 9/10


Nikka Coffey Malt (45%, OB imported by La Maison du Whisky, 6/04F081553) (dom666): nose: roasted nuts, nail varnish, even hair lacquer, then chocolate and lots of vanilla. Mouth: soft and discreet ('silent malt,' they called it), with mild custard and βανιλια. Finish: vanilla custard, plain and simple. Popcorn emerges, later on. Simple, immediate pleasure. 8/10

Miyagikyo (43%, OB imported by La Maison du Whisky, H48C) (kruuk2): brace yourselves: mushrooms are often used in Japanese cuisine; kruuk2 says mushrooms grow in herbs gardens. Boom. Also, he bought this in 2011, around the time of the Fukushima incident, which almost ended up in a mushroom. Boom. Nose: yellow flowers and popcorn, a little sweet. This is the discreet still to the previous secret still. Mouth: immediately nutty, then milk chocolate emerges, as well as almond milk. This is so soft and silky smooth (meant in a good way). Finish: hazelnut and silky almond milk, hazelnut-and-chocolate spread. Very quaffable. 8/10

Food enters: courgette-and-onion soup, made with ingredients from the garden.


Tomato-in 43yo 1965/2009 (41.1%, Lonach imported by Preiss Imports) (JS): nose: fraise tagada, sweet raspberry, high-quality vanilla custard, sweet pineapple and ripe satsuma. Mouth: soft and sweet, this has the texture of peach nectar, with a slight bitterness. Pineapple, satsuma, pomelo. The softness is astounding. Finish: more of that citrus-y goodness and milky custard. This is fabulous. dom666 objects that tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable. Bitter fool. 9/10

Potée liégeoise is served (beans, potatoes, bacon) -- it is a killer.


St Marjolaine works even better in French
St Marjoram 26yo 1982/2008 (63.7%, Speciality Drinks The Single Malts of Scotland, Refill Sherry Butt, C#1622, 601b) (me): nose: much more powerful, of course (have you seen that ABV?), with the trademark herbs (sage and rosemary) and a bit of metal, as well as wet gravel. Is it fish scales, in the back? Mouth: warm, with the same herbs and hot embers. The ABV is felt: it is not too strong, but noticeably stronger than the previous lot. Finish: comforting, with sage, thyme, warm custard and crushed, dry basil. 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, PS)

Almost as old as the whisky :-)

We venture outside to take advantage of the sun. It has been playing hide-and-seek with clouds all day.

Sallad Dhu 24yo 1976/2001 (50%, DL The Old Malt Cask 50°, 630b) (adc): nose: austere, with leather, wet cobblestone, vinegar, cigar leaves. It is likely an nth refill sherry cask: the leather hints at the original filling, but it is not overpowering. Dolmas, then soft coconut. With water, more vinegar and more fruit -- apple-cider vinegar and strawberry. Mouth: softer than expected, it still has some vinegar, some dust, sugary water. Water makes it... more watery. Perhaps it adds a bit of pepper. Finish: pearl onions, vinegar and mead. Water, again, turns it merely more watery. Very good, careful with the water. 8/10

We go back in for dessert. The sun is hiding again.
Birthday cake is served.


Brora-dish 21yo d.1982 (46%, Direct Wines Limited First Cask, C#279, b#343) (me): nose: waxy! Oh! no, it is the candles on the cake... :-) The nose has wax all the same, ash and peach, including the stone. Mouth: soft and peachy, with a whiff of dill. It grows in intensity, slightly dry. Finish: a lovely combination of waxy apple and apricot. This probably suffers from the sequence. dom666 confirms he does not like Brora (despite admitting he did a couple of years ago, the bitter fool). Today, it is 8/10

Glen Garlic 1994/2011 (53.9%, OB Vintage, American Oak Barrels, B#32, 118 112172) (ruckus): nose: farm-y, with cow dung in pastures, horse's sweat, butter, then horsehair. ruckus reckons it smells of bourbon (he is obviously drunk). Wet pine cones complete the picture, for me. Mouth: leathery, herbaceous, with the bitterness of ivy leaves (do not try this at home, kids!) Finish: herbs and chocolate, with pepper on top. This is nice and characterful. 8/10

Broccol-addich 19yo d.1989 (46%, SV for Direct Wines Limited First Cask, C#90, b#87) (JS): nose: light and fruity, lively, with juicy pears. Mouth: again, juicy pears, cut apples, and a dash of lime juice. Finish: wonderful, long and light, with fruit and happiness. Looking forward to trying it again in more relaxed conditions (today is quite frantic, in terms of pace). I suspect 1989 is a good year at Broccol-addich. 8/10

37.64 30yo 1985/2015 A real charmer (51.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 188b) (adc): the notes on the label read of crushed mint leaves, which is close enough to a herbs garden. The nose is pretty strong, on this one, with lots of flowers and melon. Mouth: horsepower and fruity bubblegum, gentle herbs, rancio (yup), more flowers. This mouth is gently drying, yet balanced. Finish: boiled sweets and cut flowers (dandelions, forsythia). This is lovely. It obviously needs more time and attention, which I hope to give it another time. 8/10

New technique to rinse glasses
Talking about students' binges:
-When you think about it, we do the same. But with expensive booze.
-But we don't vomit!
-If we do, we catch it in a bag and we distill it.
-And we separate the potée liégeoise from the cake and the whisky before distilling.

Caol Ila 14yo 1990/2004 (46%, SV The Un-Chillfiltered Collection, Hogshead, C#04/843, 394b, b#128) (Psycho): this has some vegetables in the bottle (remember it is sediments); also, it is the oldest bottle in Psycho's collection, making it "un petit pot agé." I will not attempt to translate -- just be happy if you canot read French. Nose: farm-y as fook, with peat smoke and farm paths, petrol, diesel. Mouth: sweet, almost sugary, it has sweet-and-sour smoke. Finish: long, again with smoke, yet also earth and sweetness. This reminds me of the magnificent Dovr-Toutes-Mares Port Ellen, although less complex, of course. 8/10

Charlotte Port-ato 14yo 2002/2017 (60.1%, The Creative Whisky Company The Exclusive Malts, Sherry Hogshead, C#1140, 228b) (me): I managed to bring a sample of this back from a recent trip and am glad I can share it with this group. Nose: a bit of rancio, leather, bacon and earth, oregano, lemon thyme, cured ham, smoked cheese. None of those is too loud or invading. Mouth: drying rancio and leather. The peat and the sherry compete calmly, without ever shouting loud enough to be intrusive. The 60+% ABV is undetectable. The mouth is all leather, earth and dark chocolate. Finish: more leathery sherry heaven, with refined peat (who would have thought?), dark fruit, salt and a bit of cured meat (Psycho). Wonderful. 9/10 (Thanks for the sample, KP)

117.3 25yo 1988/2013 Hubba-bubba, mango and monstera (58.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 199b) (group): 117 is the code for... Cooley-flower, of course! Nose: a massive kick of overripe fruit and green tea. Mango, jackfruit, sage, oregano, marjoram and a tiny note of metal. Mouth: dunnage warehouse, in terms of cork-y mustiness, and lots of fruit -- mango, pineapple, grapefruit. Finish: mango, jackfruit, durian. Short notes, but his remains unbelievable. It has opened up enormously since Burns Night too. 10/10

Great finale to a superb afternoon.

Drams of the day:
dom666: Talisker and Port Charlotte
adc: Talisker
MPD: 117.3
Psycho: Port Charlotte and 37.64
kruuk2: Port Charlotte
ruckus: Port Charlotte and Talisker
JS: Tomatin and 117.3
tOMoH: Tomatin and 117.3

Roll on the next one!

10 August 2017

01/08/2017 One solitary Glenrothes

Glenrothes 18yo 1991/2010 (43%, OB, L0270P L3): nose: my first impression is that it is not buttery! Glenrothes usually smells buttery to me, which is not to my taste, so this one spells good news. Orange rinds, nuts, orange oil, ground nutmeg, caramelised apricot compote. TC finds it gently salty. Shortbread and paint -- no! plasticine. Mouth: oily and coating, with orange and apricot juice, sprinkled with ground cardamom. Candle wax? Yup. Hint of liquorice? Ja. Finish: more of that oily orange and apricot, then marzipan and cinnamon. Milk chocolate appears, far in the back, banana yoghurt and butterscotch. Nice 'rothes, this! 8/10 (Thanks, TC)

18 July 2017

16/07/2017 A random few drams

Well, almost random.

Glen Moray-Glenlivet 25yo 1991/2017 (51.4%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 246b): nose: pencil lead, dusty cellars, dry earth, then the interior of a wardrobe. Rather austere, this. Further, it is plastic wrapping (shrinkwrap), then green hazelnuts, fresh almond paste, cooked cherries and furniture polish -- "does it open up, then?" I hear you ask; yes, yes, it does. Much later on, a leathery note appears too. Mouth: bitter, peppery, with some quite potent lemon juice. Crisp apples join the game, wood, bitter orange juice. A gingery heat grows in intensity. Finish: dried apples and dried mangoes accompany a gently woody note. The whole is well balanced. It seems pretty chalky and drying, yet it is augmented by a slightly fruity aftertaste and a drop of honey. 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, SW)

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 26yo 1989/2016 (48.2%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Barrel, 108b): nose: aromatics in the kitchen, as lunch is being prepared (thyme, dried sage), a thyme infusion, a rabbit casserole, stewing slowly on the hob, steamed carrots, a metallic colander, recently used to drain boiling water. Even a touch of game-y leather comes forth in the back of the nose, cloaked in fine smoke. Behind it all, shy orchard fruits struggle to make themselves heard. Mouth: thyme and citrus, dried sage too, subtle. Lukewarm milk, a bit of chalk, and a very good alcohol balance. It seems stronger than 50%. Finish: a surprising onslaught of fruit, both fresh (peaches), in compote (apples) and in jam (greengages). The gently drying chalk note subsides, discreet. The dominent is the fruit, though -- grapes, apples, peaches and greengages. This is very good! 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, SW)

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 25yo 1989/2015 (53.3%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Barrels, 378b):  nose: melon skins, faded leather, sun-drenched earth, after a short rain, cut apples, ground almonds, prunes, before it finally opens up to reveal all sorts of fruits: peaches, bananas, rosehip. Then, syrupy wine comes to the fore, briefly. Eventually, burnt wood makes a discreet appearance, alongside a few herbs. Mouth: fruity and hot. Hot apricot compote, stewed prunes, soft peaches, nectarines, nectarine peels, fruit stones (yes, it is gently bitter) and sage. Finish: a vague bitterness that soon gives way to more fruit (peaches and nectarines) and fruit stone. It is velvety and warming, with a mild, metallic touch (sage again). Good, but the 26yo is more to my taste. 7/10 (Thanks for the sample, SW)

10 July 2017

08/07/2017 Pride

London Pride, today, and an opportunity for some to show their true colours on social media and irl (fifty shades of beige). But karma is a bitch.
Today, Pride. None of that unaffordable Glenmorangie malarky, though. No. We will dig deeper.

No-no limits
We'll reach for the sky
No valley too deep
No mountain too high
No-no limits
Won't give up the fight
We do what we want
And we do it with Pride

Pride of the Lowlands 12yo (40%, GMP, b. ca mid-1980s): part of a series of blended malts by Gordon & MacPhail. Nose: OME in full effect (Old Miniature Effect) -- dust and ground pepper. A few seconds in, it gives out lemon, limescale, even, sawdust (could that be St Magdalene?), then juicy, yellow-fleshed fruits (peaches). The dustiness subsides, but there is a lot behind it -- even custard and over-baked butterscotch. Mouth: citric at first, the peaches from the nose soon arrive, with ground fruit stones and old white pepper. This is surprisingly hot on the palate, yet fruity at the same time. Minty, fruity yogurt. Finish: more peach flesh, yellow flowers (daffodils) and a hefty dose of sawdust, which points more toward Strathmill than the Lowlands, but it is good, if unexpected. Sage and marjoram are there too, as well as βανίλια. A decent blended malt. Hard to admit it is from the Lowlands, due to the slightly austere character (limescale, sage, sawdust), which suggests to me that there could be some St Magdalene in this, not just Rosebank, Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie. In the mid-1980s, it is not inconceivable to think that some StM casks were still being vatted; after all, they were much more numerous than today (St Magdalene closed in 1983). I suppose we will never know, in any case. 7/10

Pride of Strathspey 25yo (40%, GMP, b. 1995, IE/BFE): a much more recent bottling, yet the age suggests it was distilled in the same era as the Lowlander. Nose: this nose and the colour point at sherry casks -- my money is on Macallan being a component. Walnut oil, avocado stone, then linseed oil, oil paint, black shoe polish. A minute later, it is dried figs and dates. Worcester sauce, plasticine, freshly-laser-printed paper; this is well complex! Mouth: velvety, with a very gentle, wine-like dryness. Sultanas, dried cranberries, figs, a hint of ginger powder and warm toffee pudding. With time, the sherry calms down and makes room for lukewarm custard. Finish: all that sherry goodness is joined by a distinct wood influence -- old furniture and wood glue. Later on, nuts and walnut shells take over, with the bitterness of the shells being quite strong. Much later on, still, it comes back with the freshness of peppermint. This is a heavily-sherried whisky. Not much of the distillate remains behind the sherry influence. It is brilliant at what it does, however. 8/10

Pride of Orkney 12yo (40%, GMP, b.1995, IE/BFD): strangely enough (or not), this was bottled right before the previous dram. Two consecutive bottling runs back-to-back in the same tasting -- ha! We already had the Old Orkney blended malt by GMP, but this is a first. Nose: surprisingly fruity, with cherries and fresh figs, then tobacco and macadamia nuts. A coffee mug, augmented with juicy fruit. What is this? Lychee? Yes. The fruit becomes more tropical, with papaya and lychee, although not exuberant by any stretch of the imagination. Much later on, it does become yet fruitier, with obvious mangoes and cut, underripe bananas. Mouth: sweet, it has moscovado sugar, caramelising, grilled pineapple, sweetened orange juice. A pinch of spices row in intensity, but the dominant is certainly sweet fruits. Slices of blood orange, pink grapefruit soaked in sangria, a few drops of mango nectar. Finish: barbecued apples, roasted pineapple, caramelised sugar and delicate smoke from the dying embers. This is amazing! Were it not for the insistently smoky note of cooled, burnt wood in the finish, I would probably rate it one more point. 8/10

Pride of Islay 12yo (40%, GMP, b. ca mid-1980s): nose: a mix of farm-y peat and squid ink. Baskets of crabs, dying in the midday sun, drying fishnets, shrimps left out of the refrigerator for a bit too long, tractor tyres, after a day spreading manure on the fields. The most bizarre part is that I cannot decide whether all that is good or not. Leather being tanned, then falling leaves in autumn, dark, moist soil, tree bark, forest mushrooms and a faint hint of fruit behind it all. Mouth: soft, but leathery, it has a creamy texture -- more suede than leather. A sugary side grows bolder, as does a thin coal smoke. The sweetness is rather persistent, with caramel and burning sugar. Finish: spent incense, burnt wood, a kick of lemon freshness (Bowmore, possibly). this finish is long, assertive, but not cocky. It has that caramel again, hot embers, smoke and overheated leather, left on the back seat of a car with closed windows in the scorching North-African sun. Not a huge fan of this one. 6/10

That is a session. I do not think GMP have bottled other regions, but there have been several versions of each, through the years. Not too sure they still bottle them today. We will have other versions at some stage. Perhaps next year.

29 June 2017

28/06/2017 July outturn at Cadenhead's

It is the day. Or it was supposed to be, at least. The delivery arrived six hours late and the shindig is cancelled. The announcement was made on Bookface. Drat. I am not on Bookface. By the looks of it, a couple more are not either, as I am not the only one at the shop, tonight.
Although the event is not taking place, the manager kindly allows me to try a couple of things, since I came from far away.

(Paul) John 5yo 2011/2017 (57.4%, Cadenhead World Whiskies 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Hogshead, 360b): that's right, this is a Cadenhead bottling of an Indian whisky. Nose: fruity bubblegum, gummy bears, hint of dried green wood. Mouth: vinegar-y, with bullrush and grapevine. Finish: warm and engaging, with a brandy-like heat. Woah! The nose is worth more, but the whole is 7/10

Dalmore 25yo 1992/2017 (59%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Hogshead, 270b): nose: rubber and cured meat, with an added touch of white-wine vinegar. Mouth: sweet and gently acidic, like red sour belts. Finish: long, sweet, with more red sour belts. 7/10

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 19yo 1997/2017 (58.7%, Cadenhead Sherry Cask 175th Anniversary, Sherry Butt, 528b): nose: rancid butter, then vinegar. Mouth: soft, it rolls on the tongue, with a buttery texture and the sweetness of caramel. Finish: buttery and caramel-y. This is not my thing. 5/10

Distillerie Charpentier 30yo b.2017 (55.3%, Cadenhead 175th Anniversary, 252b): this is a Cognac, as per picture. Nose: sweet, it has candyfloss and, generally, a chemical-smelling sweetness -- sweets with colouring in them. Hints of ash too. Mouth: mellow, with green-grape purée, crisp-apple compote. Finish: again, mellow, sweet, grape-y, noble-eau-de-vie-like. Nice. Will not turn me into a Cognac drinker, though. 7/10

Mortlach 13yo 2003/2017 (55.1%, Cadenhead Sherry Cask 175th Anniversary, Finished in 1st Fill Sherry Cask since December 2014, 306b): nose: barley, then varnish and bubblegum, then a farm yard in the sun. Mouth: hot and sticky, not unlike chilli on a warm piece of cake. Finish: numbing, with chilli on hot cake. Nice, this. 7/10

Speyburn-Glenlivet 16yo 2001/2017 (53.3%, Cadenhead Sherry Cask 175th Anniversary, Sherry Butt, 438b): nose: nail varnish, more candyfloss, then leather and flowers. Mouth: warm, with leather and burnt caramel. Finish: long, it has burnt caramel and strawberry milkshake. My favourite of the lot, this one. Tonight, at least. 8/10

Benromach 35yo (43%, OB, 800b): this is from a sample, so unsure whether it is the 2015 bottling, or a new incarnation. Nose: super fruity, with strawberry, raspberry and wax. Mouth: gentle wax, lukewarm and soft. Waxy apricot, caramelised compote. Finish: hot wax (for the vinyl junkies), warm apricot compote and a touch of distant smoke. Fantastic drop, this! 9/10

Ended up a lot longer than planned. Thanks to the staff for letting me try those, despite the mishaps, during the day.

15 June 2017

14/06/2017 Bowmore debauchery

Just because.

Believe it or not, one more was foreseen that did not make the final cut

Bowmore 13yo 2003/2016 (56.7%, Cadenhead Wine Cask, Hogshead, Refill Burgundy Cask since 2011, 264b): nose: jalapeño in full force! Green chilli, chocolate dunked in wine, wood varnish and, behind it all, warm earth. The chilli is really distinctive and intense, though is it jalapeño, habanero, or, indeed, Scotch bonnet -- who can tell? Polished dashboards, crushed plums. Mouth: the wine influence is more pronounced, here, with dark grapes, earth and fermenting plums, but the chilli is still well present! Scotch Bowmore-net. The earthy notes grow and become warmer too -- as in: earth, warmed by the sun for a whole afternoon. Quite topical, with this brilliant sunshine. Finish: more of that warm, dry earth, augmented with lots of ripe plums. The chilli is now under control, though remnants of it are there. Far in the back, a delicate fruitiness develops (lychee in brine). The wine influence has all but gone. A superb B-more. Proof one does not need a 1960s legend for a good dram from that distillery. 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, RO)

Bowmore 10yo (43%, Prestonfield House Malt, b.1980s): nose: white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, then dried citrus peels (lemon, unripe orange). It has quite a bit of finely-milled white pepper, then physalis and sawdust. Hours later, the nose has morphed into oil paint, fish paste and plasticine or Blu Tack -- and it works! Mouth: that dusty and peppery impression lives on in the mouth, though the vinegar makes room for grape juice. This is tame, compared to the nose. A gentle woody note appears, the bitterness of dried citrus peel, very faint. Later, the texture becomes heavily velvety, thick and fluffy, plump, with ripe peaches and apricots. Finish: a refined mix of citrus peel and delicate peat of the spongy, soil-like variety. Pepper and sawdust have gone. The citrus, on the other hand, is bolder, turning into grapefruit. Nice! Later, the finish becomes very soft, velvety and peachy (both the flesh and the skin). Makes it score one more point. 9/10

Bowmore 35yo 1970/2006 (51.3%, SV Cask Strength Collection, Sherry Butt, C#4687, 445b, b#303): note the bottle numbah! Also, this one was bottled on the 15th June 2006, 11 years ago, minus one day. Pure coincidence, as I only found out about that after having drunk this. Nose: woah! Wax, waxy plums, nail varnish (is it shellac?), blackberry, maybe blackcurrant. No smoke whatsoever in this, but so much wax instead! Patras wine (a sweet, fruity, heavy and high-ABV Greek red wine), dark cherries, chocolate brownie, molasses, honey. If you have ever opened the last incarnation of an Old & Rare Platinum Selection by Douglas Laing, before the brothers split and that range became Hunter Laing's, that is what this smells like; varnished wood, glue and synthetic fur. Hours later, a cheese smell enters the scene; Old Leicester or aged Gouda. Mouth: the sherry imparts this one a mildly drying character. It is, again, reminiscent of Patras wine -- strong and fruity, drenched in sunshine. The heat becomes rather intense, with nail varnish and hot cherry compote. Later on, wax seals appear to take over the mouth. Finish: fantastic! All the waxy notes are here, alongside the fruit and the varnish, but they are augmented with a discreet touch of burnt wood, as well as a shy and fleeting tropical-fruit kick. It makes this one waxier than it first seemed. 10/10 (Thanks for the sample, OF)

Bowmore Bicentenary (43%, OB, WS2315, b.1979): nose: ooft! This is on another level of tropical fruitiness! Lychee, mango, guava, pink grapefruit. It is accompanied by a very distant note of tar, but I can barely detect it. Mostly fruity goodness, in here. Later on, mushrooms in soil. Hours later, it has become quieter on all fronts, though it still is very fruity, compared with any other whisky. Mouth: milky in texture, with lots of tropical fruits again (guava, papaya, lychee, pink grapefruit) and Kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, sugar-cane juice, happiness, debauchery. Time and oxidation do not alter it much. Finish: fruit juice, pure and simple. Alfonso mangoes, avocado, pink grapefruit, guava, pomegranate, dragonfruit, and the most minute amount of rubbery tar, minutes after swallowing. At the risk of sounding French: pity they cut this down to 43%. It would have scored even higher at cask strength. Legendary, nonetheless. 10/10 (I know)

Bowmore d.1965 (50%, OB, Sherry Casks, b. ca late 1980s): one of my friends was born in 1965. For his fiftieth birthday, he decided to open a selection of 1965-distilled whiskies. Then, he organised a lottery and sent random samples from those bottles to all who entered the lottery. This one is what he sent tOMoH. I know, I am also shocked at the move and consider never speaking to that friend again. But I will. tOMoH's goodness knows no limit. Anyway, on to the juice. Nose: tar and rubber, decaying fruits (in an advanced state of decay, even), leather. It opens up a  bit to reveal more fruit, yet it is definitely not the same profile as the previous two. This is rather a sulphury, rubbery, sherry-casked beast. Acrid vinegar? Not sure, really. I reckon it is simply sulphur and I have a hard time smelling past it. With water, squashed raspberries and strawberries come up, packed in leather purses ("why would one do that?" you might ask). Mouth: warming, with sulphur and leather, un-fresh flesh in tatters. A note of wax takes over, coating the rest, hot candlewax. the texture becomes creamy, with a mild gingery heat. Water makes the wax more outspoken, perhaps, whilst the fleshy bits have more or less disappeared. Finish: this is where it is at. Clad in leather, fruit parades on a tarry road, under the summer sun. Tropical fruit, even, yet it is wearing so much leather and make-up that it loses its natural beauty, in my opinion. With water, red fruit shows up more; red cherries, strawberries, not fully ripe. To be honest, this is a mild disappointment to me. But then, in this line-up, it means little. It is still a very good whisky. 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, pat gva)

Largiemeanoch 12yo d.1967 (54.2%, The Howgate Wine Co., C#2655/6/7): in case you, dear reader, do not know this one, it is one of the most mythical Bowmore ever bottled, eclipsing even the legendary Black Bowmore in the eyes of the few lucky enough to have tried them. It does not come cheap for those who can find it, these days, but just a sniff of it in February gave me goosebumps. Tonight, we confront the less-famous (but arguably better-looking) brother of Kylie and Danii -- Largie. Nose: call the cops; this needs to be locked in a safe! So fresh! Mint and fruit, Thai basil, greengages, lychees, Chinese gooseberries, papayas, white peaches, then mulch and a hint of leather. Dry earth shows up, later on. So complex, this! Later yet, liquid honey emerges, honeysuckle and stroopwafels. Mouth: perfect balance, oscillating between rich soil and juicy tropical fruits. It has a very faint rubber bitterness, then Thai basil, Kaffir lime leaves, perhaps laurel too. And then grapefruit, mango, papaya, dragonfruit, jack fruit, mint, pineapple skin. Honey joins in on the fun, a bit later on. Finish: thunderous slaps of earthy tropical fruits in the face. How can a whisky be so well made? Covered in earth, here are lychee, grapefruit, pineapple peels (and foliage), Chinese gooseberry, carambola, wrapped in Thai basil and mint. This is the best mojito in town, tonight! Time makes it less herbaceous and fruitier, still. Believe the hype. 15/10

Is there a life after Bowmore?

12 June 2017

10/06/2017 Anniversary drams

It is the Queen's official birthday, today. JS set the theme accordingly. "Royal-birthday drams" is a bit of a constraint, though, so she kindly extended it to be any anniversary whiskies, in whichever way.

The suspects: MR, OB, cavalier66, jazzpianofingers, JS and myself.

And these. Right to left again.

The soundtrack:
Ambre & Mark Spybey - Sfumato

Lochside 22yo 1966/1989 (43%, SV, C#7253-55, 800b, b#464) (brought by me): 1966 is the birth year of one of today's guests. Nose: tomato-plant stalks (jazzpianofingers), cannabis resin (cavalier66), waxy fruit (cherries, plums), then moss and, finally, strawberry chewing gum. Mouth: soft marzipan, crushed cherries and crushed plums. Finish: much longer than in my memories, with marzipan and a shy, bitter note. I remembered it as watery and tired, but this is great, today. 8/10

35.59 39yo 1971/2011 Arabian Nights (40.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 74b) (me): we had this one last year and OB regretted it was late in the line-up, leaving the measly ABV to suffer from the sequence. He is therefore delighted we have it again. Oh! and it fits the theme in that it is the same age as one of the guests. Nose: dunnage warehouse aplenty; this has moss, fruit, old wood and damp staves oozing from every pore. Honeysuckle, rose petals, then soft mandarin peels, melon skin and a hint of mint. Lovely. Mouth: it tickles the tongue, though mandarins swiftly come up. This is soft and balanced. Finish: comforting, creamy, with a mix of melon and mandarin. It feels like marzipan in the making. Wow! Fruitier than ever. 9/10

cavalier66 always makes sure we are stuffed
by the second dram

jazzpianofingers: "You spot the virgin oak easily. And I get really bored really quickly -- 'Och! Virgin!"

The soundtrack:
Urawa - The Most Boring Thousand Years Of My Life

Irish Whiskey 24yo 1991/2015 (46.7%, Whisky-Fässle 10th Anniversary) (OB): this was released for this bottler's 10th anniversary, obviously. Nose: a tin of mango and maracuja with a whiff of shoe polish. Green banana, say the others. I get horse saddle and pastry. Mouth: black pepper off the mill, sprinkled onto tropical fruits. Finish: wow. Hot and super fruity, with mango and maracuja, and even a touch of clogged sink. Beautiful drop that takes water very well too. 9/10

tOMoH: "You're really photogenic, aren't you?"
jazzpianofinger: "I'm a clown!"
tOMoH: "But you're not that funny..."
jazzpianofingers: "...and you're my agent."

Jazz hands

Littlemill 26yo 1990/2017 (52.6%, Cadenhead 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Barrel, 180b) (OB): this one came out only a couple of weeks ago. OB thought this was the ideal occasion to open it -- he was probably right, too! Nose: floral and fruity, ever-shifting. Buttery mango, hints of grass, Aspirin, say the boys. Obviously hungover. Mouth: fruity and herbaceous, with papaya, oregano, perhaps a faintly metallic edge. Great balance. Finish: it has buttery mango again and pastry, the finish is slightly herbaceous too. This is mango turnovers with a pinch of herbs (sage and oregano). 9/10

The soundtrack:
Black Lung - The Psychocivilised Society

Balvenie-Glenlivet 12yo 1979/1992 (59.5%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 150th Anniversary) (JS): datz right, this is from Cadenhead's previous milestone anniversary, bottled a quarter of a century ago. I believe it is also the first independently-bottled Balvenie that I try, which is not ashamed of its name -- several have been bottled more recently under the name Burnside, though they are teaspooned. Nose: brine, vinegar, whelk (OB). A slow-cooked Marmite sauce, with that distinct smell of malt vinegar. Salt, cockles. Water gives it an over-baked-pastry feel, with added honeysuckle. Mouth: soft and silky, yet the ABV quickly catches up. It becomes rather salty and numbs the palate a bit. Yellow flowers and green chilli. Finish: huge and a bit metallic, with sage, salty mussel shells and green chilli, sprinkled on green hazelnut paste. Unripe apricot comes up, late in the game. Very interesting dram, if a bit cerebral. In fact, I find it close in style to an RMS. 8/10

It was a job and a half to extract the cork

The Living Cask 11yo b.2017 (56%, SMWS, 1st Fill ex-Oloroso Cask, Finished in a Quarter Cask, C#1) (MR): this was bottled to celebrate the opening of the SMWS's second London venue, the Kaleidoscope Bar, in Devonshire Square. It might be a distillery near Carron that is not Imperial. It is not Scotch, however, since it was matured and bottled in England. Nose: very flowery, with Turkish delights. Not much else, but what it does, it does very well. Mouth: similar to the nose, with Turkish delights, a growing spiciness and a milky texture. A note of verbena perhaps? Finish: oak-y notes (vanilla and coconut), with also flowers (honeysuckle), acacia honey and soft cake. Yum! 8/10

The soundtrack:
A Cryo Chamber Collaboration - Cthulhu

We talk about Auchentoshan Three Wood.
cavalier66: "It's a bit like razor blades, isn't it? First, you had one blade, then two, then three..."
tOMoH: "I hope someone does the same as with razor blades: 'This is a 26-cask-matured whisky. By the way: fuck you.'"

We move outside, since the weather is so nice and the sun a little less aggressive.

Strathclyde 36yo 1977/2013 (58.1%, Hunter Laing The Sovereign, Sherry Cask, C#HL9912) (jazzpianofingers): the Queen is obviously the sovereign, but she also celebrated her silver jubilee in 1977, when this was distilled. Double connection to the theme, which deserves a round of applause. Nose: raising bread dough, caramel-making, blackberry pancakes. Mouth: fresh, sweet, silky, with black pepper for good balance. Dark cherries, ripe and juicy. Finish: dark cherries from a tin -- it has a metallic edge to it. Greek wine, perhaps. A great old grain that has a gentle dusty mouthfeel. 8/10

The soundtrack:
Pete Namlook & - Silence IV

Laphroaig 32yo b.2015 (46.6%, OB, ex-Oloroso Sherry Hogsheads, 21835, 5880b) (cavalier66): this was bottled for the 200th anniversary of the distillery. I am very intrigued. The notes I have read so far let me think it would not be my thing, so it is nice to get to try this without taking the (expensive) risk of buying a full bottle myself. Nose: fizzy, with Cherry Coke and a very faint whiff of burnt wood, far, far away. Jack fruit, says cavalier66. Mouth: waow! The fruit on this! Blueberries, then notes of more tropical fruits, such as maracuja (cavalier66), papaya, tutti frutti (oh! rutti). Finish: dark fruit and gentle smoke. The fruitiness becomes more tropical again, after a few seconds. This is beautiful indeed, if not quite the same level as the 1960 and 1974 expressions. 9/10

jazzpianofingers: "I get a lot of acetone fruitiness."
cavalier66 and JS: "Acetone fruitiness!?"
jazzpianofingers: Yeah, I get that when I paint my nails."

Suddenly, this makes more sense.
Or maybe even less.

The time has come to observe that life does not suck, right now.

Cognac Vallein Tercinier Lot 65 b.2013 (47%, OB, L2-65002) (cavalier66): this was a birthday dram for cavalier66, last year. Nose: wow again! Lychee, nail varnish, far back, pink grapefruit, hibiscus (cavalier66), quince (cavalier66), verbena (cavalier66), orange blossom, clove-spiked orange (JS), syrup (jazzpianofingers), marjoram (jazzpianofingers), kombava leaves, very ripe green grapes. Mouth acidic and a bit stripping, with a big grapefruit-y tone. Finish: a roundhouse kick of tropical fruit, though none of us can pinpoint which one.  The mouthfeel is close to what one gets when licking ashtrays. Fruity, herbal tea (cavalier66 and jazzpianofingers), sweet Thai basil (jazzpianofingers). The fruit-kick is overripe green grape -- not so tropical, after all. Great old Cognac. 9/10

tOMoH: "What is the difference between herbal and herbaceous?"
jazzpianofingers: "Well, herbaceous is the plant -- this is herbaceous. Herbal is... the thing."
cavalier66: "Thanks for explaining that distinction."

OB and MR take a leave. I try to convince them it is not a good idea, but they insist. Their loss.

The soundtrack:
Pete Namlook & - Silence IV (again)

Ardbeg Perpetuum (49.2%, OB Distillery Release, b.2015, L61198 15002090) (cavalier66): this one was bottled for the 200th anniversary of Ardbeg. Nose: fishing nets, fish and chips, greasy engines, and then a whiff of toasted barley and salted pickles (jazzpianofingers). Mouth: warm, with drying fishing nets, hot apricot compote, black cumin, perhaps star aniseed. Later on, sugar barley sweets emerge. Finish: lots of hot embers, now, smoke, pickled onions and, again, that sweetness. 7/10

cavalier66: "Is there a sense of younger and older whisky, in here?"
tOMoH: "I don't know, but I can definitely smell the re-racking."

The soundtrack:
U 96 - Replugged

That is the end of today's selection. It has been very, very good. All the same, I cannot let those good people leave without a final dram. Tough luck for OB and MR, we will have something that I hope is special enough. I pour it blind.

Bowmore 32yo 1968/2001 (45.5%, OB for the 50th Anniversary of the Stanley P. Morrison Company, 1860b) (me): yup, it is even an anniversary bottling. Nose: "it smells like my dad," says jazzpianofingers. "Lovely fruity nose," says cavalier66. I can feel "Bowmore eyes" coming up (© DH). Squashed strawberries. This nose! I could spend hours, here. Pink-grapefruit-scented soap, pink pepper shavings. "Blimey," says jazzpianofingers. Shamone! Mouth: "Please don't say it tastes like your dad, too!" (JS to jazzpianofingers) Acidic, with pink grapefruit, a touch of smoke, say my fellow tasters. The balance is purr-fect, fruity as fook and simply spectacular. Finish: mango nectar and pink grapefruit goodness, with distant memories of a coal stove in another room. Meow. This is good. Velvety, mellow and dangerously easy to drink, if one were to not give it enough time. It seems a little less exuberant than the previous couple of times, but remains an incredible dram. 10/10

cavalier66: "You're a fortune-teller, aren't you? No, you're a pianist, which is the closest thing."

Strange, how the line-up was unintentionally divided by supplier. All mine in a row, all OB's in a row, all cavalier66's in a row, each punctuated by the one-bottle offering of the others. In any case, great selection and good vibe. Very pleasant to use the terrace too.