14 April 2014

12/04/2014 The kitchen saga

idealrichard has been having lots of difficulties, whilst overseeing builders redo his kitchen. I thought we had to celebrate that... even though idealrichard ultimately cannot make it.

The suspects: Jenny, MJ, SMcD, PS, KidJ and myself. Lots of new faces, which is great.


-Whirlpoolteney 1994 Sauternes (brought by me): from good to dodgy appliances and now whisky. Whirlpool are jacks of all trades, it seems. Nose: fruity and musty, with a touch of brine (PS). Caramel, banana. Not particularly challenging a nose, but I like it a lot. KidJ reckons it smells of urine. Mouth: soft and easy, full of caramel and banane flambée. Finish: long, coating, though not invading. 'If you think of a white wine, you can taste it,' says MJ -- he is right: it is very sweet and wine-like. Again, one of the best Sauternes finishes around, if not the best. A dram that will not floor you, yet is great to start with or drink on a sunny afternoon.

-Scapa 16 (brought by MJ): Scapa comes from an island, my kitchen has an island, there is your theme. Good effort, there. Half a point. Nose: barley, marmalade and little else. Mouth: too soft, today. It seems watery, with a dash of caramel. Finish: shortish, with caramel again, and some fruit (raisins). Later on, burnt bakery comes out, hot dough. A nice dram, but disappointing, today. Batch variation? Wrong circumstances?



Littlemill's last distillation
-Little-pepper-mill C#99 (brought by Jenny): nose: pears, apples and mangoes. Yep, a fruit bomb this one is. It even sports the trademark hiking-boot scent that I get in loads of overly-ripe-fruit drams. Coconut and vanilla make an appearance alongside pineapple -- stunning! Mouth: fine, white pepper, the alcohol is perfectly integrated. Finish: long, fruity, focused and pleasant. The hiking boots show up again, though it is not overpowering. Subtle, integrated, balanced, pleasant. Top dram and dram of the day for me. PS is 'definitely tasting Midget Gems' in it, but then he brought a pack of them and has been feasting on them as if the sun were never going to shine again.

Enter pastries brought by KidJ. Apple cake, pecan tart and chocolate/hazelnut fondant. Finger-licking.

PS -If that guy is the Chinese Richard Branson...
me -Richard Bransing?

-Invergordon C#60478/63675 (brought by PS): Invergordon Ramsay, king of the rude kitchen. nose: custard, crushed banana, some small flower from rocky ground (saxifraga, perhaps?) Mouth: creamy and more pungent than the ABV hinted at. Plum-infused pudding. Finish: creamy pudding it is, with a "green" sort of bitterness to it.

-26.75 (brought by PS): it is quite barbecue-y. Now, an open-fire barbecue is not usually something one finds inside a kitchen, but it is linked to culinary activities. Good enough, try and do better next time. Nose: musk, furniture polish, smoked bacon (KidJ and myself, others are less convinced about that, at this stage), bread butter (KidJ). It suddenly strikes me: walking through a glade, surrounded by red deer. Waxy bacon, which becomes smokier and smokier to reach barbecue levels. Later on, dust from a wooden attic. heated by direct sun rays on the very roof it sits under (MJ, waxing lyrically, by now). Mouth: powerful, very peppery, balanced out by nice honey. Finish: lots of wax, alongside the smoked bacon. Strangely enough, it is also a very short finish. Water underlines wax in the nose. KidJ gets all enthusiastic about it: 'I must insist, it is beeswax, not candle wax.' I rated this 4/10 the first time I had it, which is quite harsh and no longer deserved. It simply is not a style I am extremely fond of.

MJ -We've been to Austria three years in a row on summer holiday. We went one year, then we went the following year...
PS -You realised you'd left your phone charger behind?

-Oven Mittyvaich 20 (brought by me): nose: unripe, cut pears, gravel, cut grass, beeswax, honey and lots of sweetness. Wonder if the wax is the remainder of Clynelish on my palate, as it is unexpected. Mouth: pink pepper sprinkled over a teaspoonful of honey. Some red chilli as well. Hotter than the first time I had it, actually. Finish: pepper, punctuated by the bitterness of plants, to a degree. Pink pepper on a teaspoonful of honey again. MJ tries it twice, hoping to "get" it, while PS and KidJ have it thrice -- "getting" it very well indeed, it seems. Top dram, thanks adc for the bottle.


-Glen Esk-tractor fan 1984/2004 (brought by me): quite proud of this one. I liked it so much, in fact, that I decided offering a third bottle would not be too many. Plus, Esk is so rare it is sure to be a first for at least one person at any tasting and 1984 is the distillation year of one person today. Nose: fresh urine (KidJ, who has a one-track mind, today). Old books and decaying pears. Musky old books that have been pissed on (PS), some herbs with orange rinds. Old school and rather austere. Mouth: oh! yes, lots of orange rinds, now, sprinkled with black pepper, dusty shelves. Finish: beautiful, full of dusty books and stale marmalade. I feared it would be weak after the higher-strength drams, but it is not. Not an enticing dram for newbies, yet exactly my style. Yes, that sentence reads pompous -- what can I do about it?

PS's favourite fucking chef
-G5.3 (brought by PS): another Invergordon Ramsay. PS has a wild imagination. :-| Nose: tons of blackcurrant and a near-sherry cask feel given by the toasted oak. Mouth: anaesthetising at 65.6%, of course ('If you're gonna smoke, smoke,' says MJ). Underneath that deadly heat, the whisky is viscous, sticky, rich in elderberry and bakery flavours. Finish: blackcurrant juice that stays with you forever. Blackcurrant flapjacks. Strength aside, this is easy and straightforward , but very beautiful.

PS blends 26.75 and the Cárn Mòr Invergordon to a rather convincing result.
MJ disappears into the night, while SMcD makes a late entrance and sprints through the previous drams.

Whisky geeks will recognise the MacKenzie motto
also used by Dalmore
-Glen Ord 12 (brought by SMcD): hardly in theme, but the poor guy has been working until now and it is not a common sight anymore. It would be rude not to have it, even if PS jokes about it being dubbed Glen Ordinary. Nose: caramel, fruit (squashed grapes, mostly) and a bit of bubblegum, perhaps. Nice nose, this, though it suffers from the sequence, of course. Mouth: quite watery after the others -- watered-down paprika. Later on, it shines in the caramel department, with notes of flat cola and stale cough syrup. Finish: short and caramelly. Not a superb dram by any means, but it always interesting to have a blast from the past.

Off-tasting, we are treated to Teeling 21. SMcD has to leave already. To round off the evening, we also have:

-Ardbeg 1978/1999: nose: merbromin, chloroform, very medicinal with a twist of balsamic vinegar. Subtle peat then emerges. A crayfish platter with peat growing in intensity. Mouth: oh! man, the balance! Balsamic vinegar, sea water. Finish: typical Ardbeg barley, peaty hay sprinkled with some balsamic vinegar again. This is outstanding, as it always is.

A bit disappointed in the minimal effort on display to find something that would fit the theme (I suppose new faces did not yet know how seriously I take my puns). Other than that, splendid tasting. Attendants brought too much junk food for our own good and left some bottles behind. Thanks, but please do not, it is unnecessary.

11 April 2014

10/04/2014 10 000 pageviews + 101 posts

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Quite sad and pathetic to hit 10k after two years, but expansionism is not the goal of this blog. Thanks to whoever you are, 10 000 readers. Something a little special is in order to salute thee. It is 2014, two 1974 drams will do.

Craigellachie are branching
-Craigellachie 1974: nose: vanilla and coconut at first, then something more noble happens. The wooden dashboard of a Jaguar 3.8l MkII, walnut hull, a mixture of marzipan, flat cola and shoe polish. Even later, it delivers an impression of pot-pourri, stewed apricots and raisins, a wooden cupboard full of jam jars, as well as a minuscule whiff of steamed cabbage. Talk about a complex nose! Mouth: peppery, bursting with Seville-orange marmalade, bitter and lively while still sweet and soothing. Amazing, this. Finish: sticky and rich like marmalade again, slightly bitter. Lovely candied orange hiding a discreet leather note and half a teaspoon of coal dust. Mouth and finish are a lot more straightforward than the nose, yet extremely enjoyable. The nose is simply fantastic.

-North British 1974/2000: nose: completely closed at first. Let us give it a minute to open up. There we go! Walking through a pinetree forest on a dry autumn dawn. A sheet of cedar wood (to light cigars) soaked in coconut milk. Cannot really say there is much else to it (almond paste? Lemon-scented bathroom detergent? Lemon juice?) but it really does the trick for me. Upon second nosing, I also get polished-wood chairs. Mouth: pudding, flavoured soy milk, then white pepper kicks in. It slowly fades away to leave the vanilla soy milk in the foreground. Satin-like texture. Finish: long and pleasant, with more vanilla soy milk and some subtle cedar wood. Not so challenging, probably, and less good than the 1964 bottling by Signatory. Fans of grain should love this all the same. I do.

What is the next milestone? 25 000? Let it come.

Can't wait for the 303rd post!

24 March 2014

21/03/2014 Benjamin, Benedict and Bennet are on a boat, celebrating spring

Yes, I know.

-Benrinnes 1968: nose: immediately sparkly, full of soda drinks, effervescent tabs (Alka Seltzer?), ground green pepper, straight off the mill, citrus rinds (unripe orange), and citrus-scented detergent (the kind one uses to clean sinks, not washing-up liquid). Some dry fruits wave discreetly from far behind. Dust and old cardboard, a trademark of those old bottlings. A whiff of old leather shoes comes out at second nosing. With water, it simply becomes shy. Mouth: quite pungent for its modest 40%. Lots of pepper, dried orange zest, truckloads of sea salt too. Unexpected. With water, mellow, peppered cream. Finish: oh! the salt assault! It is a plain assalt. Long and drying, with more than a hint of sawdust, unripe-lemon zest, more pepper and lots and lots of salt. Very particular. Tequila frappée, anyone? With water, bitterer and the salt is more controlled. This is not unlike licking fruit stones. This experience could hardly be further from the recent 36.6x at the Society. Almost no fruit and tons of salt.

-Benromach 1968: nose: the sherry influence is obvious, here. Citrus rinds, orange liqueur (Curaçaõ, Grand Marnier, Cointreau), yet also leather belts and horse saddles. A deeper sniff reveals cocoa butter with mocha shavings in it. Water turns it into pure orange liqueur. Mouth: an elegant blend of leather and citrus, with the bitterness of orange pits and faint, dark chocolate to keep it interesting. The chocolate grows stronger with each sip. With water, the chocolate is gone, leaving only orange liqueur. Finish: dark chocolate, now, even a touch of mocha and paprika. It is long and comforting, pleasant indeed. There is a slightly sparkly note in the aftertaste that makes it quite lively, despite its respectable age. With water: thin and bitter, full of orange rinds and liqueur, still, but ruined all the same. Do not add water.

-Ben Nevis Traditional: nose: roasted cereals, summer campfire -- never has it been so close to a trailerful of cereals after a long, sunny harvesting day. Some smoke is perceptible, but the warm cereals are not what speaks out the loudest. Far from it. Mouth: smooth texture, sweet and soft, still full of cereals. Rude Health porridge? Oh yes! Smoked cereals in the back and they are trying to be heard alright. Finish: more roasted-and-toasted goodness. The smoke eventually settles in to complement the roastage. Superb balance and a pleasant mix of flavours.