The suspects: MR, OB, PS, GL, JS, BA, Cavalier66 and Mrs. Cavalier, and yours, truly. You will notice MR is popular: it is an overfull house.
Mystery Dram #1 (MR, pouring blind): an unmarked sample, how exciting. Nose: custard and olive oil (the Italian connection), engine oil, balsamic vinegar, then fine ash and cardboard. Mouth: probably under-strength, as it feels a little weak. It is nice anyway, with cold custard, gentle vinegar and orchard fruit. Finish: gently ashy, dry, it has custard, still, cardboard and olive oil. Odd, but quite pleasant. 7/10
|Food for and from everyone|
Soundtrack: Various - Pronto Pronto ??!! A New Generation Of Italian Dance Hits
Coleburn 17yo d.1965 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice imported by Pinerolo for Giacinto Nicolai, Series 27, 120b) (tOMoH): an odd one. There is another version not for the Italian importer, but completely similar in all other aspects. Seeing as this one is limited to 120b, one gets to wonder whether they are the same liquid. Perhaps 120b of it made its way to Italy? Anyway. Nose: slightly metallic and fruity (OBE?), dusty, gently musty. Later, leather and a tame wood stove come through, then squashed raspberry. Mouth: the texture is milky and mildly bitter -- almond milk, then. Perfect balance at 40%, even after all that time in glass. It even has a twist of the black-pepper mill. Finish: an old-school touch, with mild coal dust, cracked black pepper on squashed raspberry. Love it. 8/10
PS (about the next dram): "Pretty bottle. It looks like a perfume bottle. It looks like it was advertised by David Beckham's great grandfather."
Tomintoul-Glenlivet 8yo (43%, OB distributed by Liquorama, b.1980s) (BA): Liquorama was (is?) a spirits distributor in Milan. Nose: nice, it has dusty vinaigrette and macerated red onions. Mouth: stronger than expected, with more vinaigrette and gentle cardboard. Finish: milk chocolate, then soft vinegar. Pickled gherkins and onions. 7/10
Sountrack: Wolfsheim - Spectators
We have the next two in parallel.
Mosstowie 18yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail for Sestante, SC999) (me): if you read this, you must know Mosstowie was the Lomond-still output from Miltonduff, between 1964 and 1981. Nose: odd mix. It is very light, with a drop of caffè macchiato. Amaretti, slightly-burnt cake crust (MR). This is wonderful. Artichokes, says Cavalier. Mouth: light, ethereal, milky, citrus-y and even mildly herbaceous. Finish: light and fresh again, with the gentle bitterness of almonds, chives, a notch of cocoa and milk chocolate. This is elegant and clean, lovely. 8/10
Miltonduff 1974/1988 (46%, Brae Dean Int. imported by Moon Import The Birds, C#1538, 600b, b#103) (JS): nose: strong fruit and fragrant flowers, cut peaches and Virginia tobacco. Even later, blood orange and orange rinds. Mouth: balanced, juicy, fruity, it has lychee, white peach, shaved, green peppercorns. Finish: warm custard, pepper, lots and lots of juicy fruit (lychee) and a pinch of dried bergamot. Perhaps milk-chocolate ice cream, too? Badalapuppi! 9/10
|Cavalier's shirt, also bottled for Moon Import's The Birds|
Soundtrack: ClockDVA - Buried Dreams
Caol Ila 13yo 1978/1991 (40%, Speymalt Spirits of Scotland imported by Taverna degli Artisti, IA/AGA) (BA): nose: smokey seaweed, peppered with nutmeg (MR), fish sauce, then soot and coal dust. Oysters are next in line. Mouth: soft, it has more of that elegant smoke and oyster freshness, kelp. Finish: long, sooty, ashy, with quite a strong bitterness. Magnifico. 8/10
Bruichladdich 15yo (43%, OB imported by F. Ili Rinaldi Importatori, b.1980s) (JS): nose: melon, loud and clear. Pink grapefruit, fresh olives. Mouth: bitter custard (!), crushed amaretti, melon skins and -- what is this? Mint? Finish: lovely custard again, melon smoothie and the bitterness of melon skins. Great, if a little less impressive than the first time. 8/10
Cavalier (pulling out his contribution): "Tell me how this is Italian."
tOMoH: "Certainly not the Spanish tax stamp..."
PS: "Is that it has a tax stamp, but no tax was ever paid on it?"
Soundtrack: Various - Cold Waves + Minimal Electronics Volume One
Springbank 12yo (46%, OB imported by Jabur, b. early 1990s) (Cavalier66): this Springbank's label contains all the colours of the Italian flag. Well done, Cav. Bizarrely, the label is the green thistle, whilst the box has the red thistle. Mismatched box? Nose: heavily sherried, with a rain of leather, stewed prunes, farmyard. In fact, despite the sherry, this is very Springbank-y. Mouth: dry prunes, rancio, tanned leather, dark tobacco, dried figs and that great smell of horses' stable. Finish: stewed prunes, hay, varnished wood. The finish is mostly fruity, and that is for the best, if you ask me. Che bello! 8/10
|Wonder if this offer to buy a 50yo Springbank |
for £500 is still valid...
G7.2 27yo d.1984 Fascinating and inspiring (60.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 270b) (PS): the label of this mentions "Italian sponge." Nose: cake indeed, with also sharp citrus, cleaning agent, baking bread and herbs, sage and dried basil. Mouth: citrus-y, quite stripping and sweet at the same time. Finish: citrus aplenty, crushed sage and lots of horsepower. This is very sweet and not completely unlike mouthwash. It works. 8/10
50.71 25yo 1990/2015 Alfresco brunch (58.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 165b) (GL): Alfresco brunch is, of course, the connection. Incredible that this came out two years ago already. Nose: honeysuckle and jasmine. This is subtle and light, easy on the nose, despite the rather high ABV. Mouth: more gentle flowers (jasmine and forsythia), Turkish delights and a soft, metallic bitterness. Finish: soft, sweet, with sage in powdered sugar, even chocolate. And then the bitterness of metal or sage comes back, tame. 8/10
BA (about the Bladnoch): "It is a bit hot for me."
me: "That's because you have the Dyson blowing hot air on the back of your head."
Speyside Region 43yo d.1973 (51.6%, Mancarella Limited Edition, Sherry Cask) (Cavalier66): nose: watermelon, strawberry bubblegum, sweet, rich and fruity. Mouth: fruity, but also hot, bitter and, frankly, slightly off-balanced. Finish: back to a wonderful mix of fruit (overripe apricot), metal and gentle sage. Excellent Speysider, likely from a Grant-family distillery, likely a Fino cask. Only the mouth is noticeably weaker. 8/10
Cavalier66: "How can it taste like a Swiss cheese plant?"
Sountrack: A Cryo Chamber Collaboration - Azathoth
9.51 6yo Summer holiday dram (62.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 244b) (PS): double whammy, this: summer holiday in Italy, and Glen Grant is the best-selling malt in Italy, and has been for decades, owing to its affiliation with Campari. Nose: warm and ashy, splintery and hot. Mouth: warm, simple, but decent, with hot marzipan tart. Finish: invading, warming, with an almost musky character. It does not work terribly well in the sequence. What a mistake-a to make-a! 6/10
Soundtrack: Jacques Brel - Brel
Mrs. Cavalier joins us as MR leaves, prompting Cavalier to produce two more bottles -- it was limited to two a pop, you see. Shit just got real. I will not try one of them (37.81).
Glen Grant-Glenlivet 23yo 1992/2016 (53.1%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Barrel + Bourbon Hogshead, 414b) (Mrs. Cavalier): of course, this is because Glen Grant is the best-selling malt in Italy. Nose: is this slightly smokey? That is unexpected, but yes, it is. A Gentle barley note, hay, cold green tea and citrus complete the bouquet. Speaking of which, why did no-one bring the Glen Ord, or the Bowmore Bouquet? Bottled by Italian maestro Samaroli, after all... Mouth: sweet, it has corn flakes, hay and bay leaves. It is hot, too. Finish: roasted barley, slightly smokey, with a hint of lemon tart. Good. 8/10
Inchmurrin 14yo 2003/2071 Trias Usquebaugh (54.6%, OB Single Cask specially selected by WhiskyNerds, Sherry & Bourbon Cask, C#17/171-1, 495b) (OB): for Inchmurrimini, no less. :-) I will let you research why this is a single cask. Nose: lots of dried fruit, dates, figs, sultanas, prunes. The fruit becomes fresher, with mango and maracuja, even. Mouth: more powerful than expected, it has lots of ground chilli on dried fruit -- prunes, mostly, pressed sultanas and dried dates. Finish: warm, extremely fruity, long and lovely. All the dried fruits are there, alongside mango, apricot and others. Amazing. 9/10
Ar8 (54.3%, Elixir Distillers Elements of Islay) (MR): MR has left, but she gave us the connection to the theme before disappearing: orange, melon and Parma ham -- all Italian things. Nose: it smells like a more ancient Ardbeg -- one from the 1970s. Roasted barley, then horse's hair, farmyard, farm paths and refined smoke. Mouth: soft, milky, with more horse's hair and farm paths. This is subtle, though, again, not unlike an older Ardbeg. Finish: big, with lots of roasted barley and old-school smoke, soot, coal dust. A subtle touch of fruit, too. 8/10
Caol Ila 35yo 1982/2017 (53.6%, Cadenhead Single Cask 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Hogshead, 156b) (OB): for Caol Italia -- boom-tschhh. Amusing to see Cadenhead still use the black, Small Batch labels for those single casks, as opposed to the golden ones, but have now changed the text to read "Single Cask." Nose: wow. It has smoke which is even more refined than the Ardbeg's, lots of fruit -- Fraise Tagada, Chinese gooseberry, white peach -- and also farm paths. Crayons, cantaloupe melon, green tomatoes. Mouth: superbly balanced, with elegant smoke wrapped around fresh fruit. It also gives out metal, as in: hot machinery. Maybe a distant rubber note? Finish: ashy fruit, smoked orange slices, hot engine, hot metal plates. A dusty, hot, cast-iron fireplace comes to the fore. Wow again! Amazing Caol Ila. A few drams in, so my notes are probably not the best, but Fraises Tagada and gentle smoke sum it up quite well. This is probably the best of the early-1980s Caol Ila that Cadenhead released over the last couple of years. At least of the ones I have tried. 9/10
What a tasting again! What a selection! Not twice did we have the same Italian name. Only Glen Grant was her twice with the same connection to the theme.
Fare well, MR, see you soon.
|The awakening was a bit of a surprise|