2 December 2016

30/11/2016 St Andrews at the SMWS

Meeting up with a visiting friend. Where better than the SMWS?

63.36 26yo d.1989 A Caribbean dream (51.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 180b): nose: powerful glue at first, then caramelised fruit (orange, candied lemon). Soon, tobacco leaves come up, then melon and orange water. Mouth: candied lemon, juicy melon and a touch of green chilli. This is thick and syrupy. Finish: the fruit ensemble goes on, with all sorts of jams, candied lemon and orange, as well as cantaloupe melon. 8/10

50.90 26yo 1990/2016 Apple-Calvados Fruitcake (60.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 150b): nose: marzipan, turpentine, apricot, sweet lipstick. Very fragrant. Mouth: silky and fruity, with peach, marmalade and apricot jam. It becomes drying, after a while. Finish: white pepper, bitter apricot stone, juicy jam. 8/10 even if the drying mouth almost brings it down to 7.

29.190 17yo 1999/2016 Divine dark temptation (58.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 582b): nose: bandages and hospital corridors. Mouth: dark-fruit syrup. Finish: big, bold, peaty and full of dark fruit. 7/10

37.81 13yo d.2002 Orange Turmeric Margarita (56.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill Sauternes Hogshead, 270b): nose: citrus, oranges, lemons, marmalade. Mouth: acidic citrus and green pepper. Finish: long, warming, citrus-y and peppery. 7/10

50.89 26yo 1990/2016 Sweet sensuality (59%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 173b): nose: flowery, buttery. Mouth: powerful! This stings like a blade, or Thai red pepper. Finish: long, invading, salty, vinegary, even (kimchee, says JWB). It has pastry and hot dough, towards the end, as well as a bitter side. Not for me, this. 6/10

35.159 21yo d.1994 Waves of intensity (55.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill Toasted Oak Hogshead, 270b): nose: butter scones, pastry, tobacco smoke. Mouth: soft, delicate and ethereal, perhaps esthery? Finish: wax, boiled sweets, marshmallows, tulip petals. 7/10

We meet MS on the table next to us, then BC and DW turn out to be upstairs the whole time, which we do not realise until the time they decided to leave. Good times anyway.

30 November 2016

27/11/2016 Peter Sellers

dom666's yearly birthday bash. The theme? You read it right: Peter Sellers. dom666 thought Monty Python would be too commercial.
The suspects: dom666, JS, Psycho, PSc, myself, and adc joins us for the last couple of drams too.

But first, an apéritif.


Carolus Whisky Infused (11.7%, OB, B#001, C#B-6-13/14/15) (dom666): yes, this is a beer. And it is not even in theme. We talked about it a while ago, dom666 wanted to try it and share it -- there you are. Nose: sweet, with warm honey and candy floss, as well as a tiny amount of hops. Mouth: liquorice-flavoured candy floss, sweet and mellow. It has the texture of acacia honey. Finish: the vanilla roundness of a whisky cask (no shit, Sherlock), the stickiness of honey and the gentleness of almond milk. Very nice. 8/10

JS presents: Peter Cellars

Glenmorangie 10yo Cellar 13 (40%, OB, L4300 1242 3ML): a recurrent visitor at these little tastings. We discover with shock that Psycho has never had it. Nose: cut pine wood, warm bread, tree bark, a hint of coconut and delicate citrus. Mouth: citrus-y (mandarin), acidic, with notes of coconut yogurt and pine needles. Finish: delicious vanilla and coconut-tainted yogurt, with a dash of lime juice. This is fruity (apples and pears, according to Psycho). A modern malt -- but a wonderful one. Psycho tries it against Atisan Cask, which he also never had. 8/10

Glen Grant 5yo d.1965 (40°GL., OB imported by Armando Giovinatti): this is not in theme; I brought it because I was convinced it was distilled in 1966 (that will make sense shortly). There is little left of it (leftover from another tasting, during which EG abandoned it), so this is a chance for everyone to try it, since we are such a small number, today. Nose: wonderful digestive biscuit and (tropical) fruit, fancy tea and a hint of pepper. Mouth: it feels watery and is probably under 40%, unfortunately. Fruity soap, vanilla, coconut. Finish: custard, cut apple, lime. Here, it is still lively and refreshing -- salty like a margarita. The mouth disappoints (due to the lack of oomph). 7/10 (Thanks EG)

Augmented with oregano

Psycho explains the mouth of the Glen Grant reminds him of his sister's ex-boyfriend: insipid. He means the whisky might as well not be there, as far as the mouth is concerned.

I proudly present the next one. I wanted to bring it because of its age statement. I was not sure how to shoehorn it into the theme, however. imdb helped me.
In 1966, Peter Sellers played in a film called The Wrong Box. The following whisky was distilled in 1966. And to make sure, I brought it... in the wrong box. A Small Batch box, when it is from the Single Cask collection. Zomg.

Glenlossie 48yo 1966/2014 (43.5%, Cadenhead Single Cask, Bourbon Hogshead, 168b): nose: oh! my, the fruit! Marzipan (dom666), to which Psycho answers, "No, rather dried fruits." "Almond, perhaps?" (dom666) Concentrated satsuma juice, even a little smoke. Phwoar! The fruit turns tropical, with mango, orange and all sorts of jams. PSc finds vanilla and banana in it. Mouth: perfectly balanced, it has a delicate mix of wood (walnut oil) and fruit (apricot compote), a whiff of smoke and a pinch of green pepper. Finish: long and wide, with hazelnut spread, manuka honey and more apricot compote. Marvelous. 9/10

At the same time, we have the following, which is not in theme. It is another 1966 and it seems the right time to open it. It belongs to the group.

Benriach 42yo 1966/2008 (43.9%, SV Cask Strength Collection, American Oak Hogshead, C#1019, 175b): nose: roar! What a depth! Very fruity again, with pears and crisp apples. It evolves to give away Petit Beurre biscuits, a good dose of wood (it never becomes invading or overpowering), and apricots. This is amazingly fruity and complex: it morphs to unveil dark smoke, noble furniture and polished dashboards. Mouth: unripe fruit (green hazelnut) crushed in honey. This is mellow, unctuous and delicious. It has the texture of peach nectar and a hint of green pepper. Finish: a small explosion of exotic fruits, green hazel tree, ground hazelnut in a honey sauce. The whole oscillates between wood bitterness and tropical fruitiness -- wow! I like it better than the first time. A mesmerizing dram. 10/10

Get your kicks
On Route 66

Food enters. The starter is toasted brioche bread with truffle-spiked foie gras, truffle-spiked Brillat (cheese) and saltufo (truffle-spiked salami, rolled in grated Parmesan). Next is a minestrone with Espelette chili. Finally, blood sausages (cabbage, nuts and apple, I think), cheeses (a Calvados-cured Epoisses is particularly to my taste) and pâtés (duck, pear and one more), accompanied by spelt rolls. Fingalickin' good. Does the trick too, as we needed a bit of a palate cleanser to make room for the rest of the programme.

The truffle trilogy

Porn sausages

When Inspector Clouseau comes home in The Pink Panther films, he invariably fights his servant, Cato. He is Clouseau, he always win. Or as they say in French, "Clouseau nique Cato."

Without further ado, dom666 presents:

Nikka Coffey Malt (46%, Nikka, b. ca 2016): the pun was far-fetched (Nikka for nique Ca... to, geddit?), but I have not tried this for many moons, so am well pleased. Nose: hot pastry, brioche bread, perhaps pizza dough, frangipane. Mouth: it is very neutral, here; a little vanilla, Greek yogurt. Nut liqueur makes a late appearance. It is soft, silky and delicate. One can see why those malt whiskies distilled in a column still were called silent malts, in the 19th century. Finish: flowery, with vanilla and coconut shavings. It packs the right amount of punch, even if it remains delicate, soft and silky. 8/10

Psycho presents:

Auchentoshan 17yo 1999/2016 (55.5%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Hogsheads, 498b): this is not in theme. Psycho had two bottles in mind, he forgot them at his. He received this today and opens it straight away for this very tasting -- yay! Nose: vinegar, stone fruit, meat loaf (Psycho), frangipane, meringue. It is very good, though the alcohol seems more aggressive than when I tried it in the shop. It even has herbs (sage, marjoram, oregano) and traces of satsumas and clogged sink. Mouth: cut pear, floor wax, beeswax, encaustic. This will benefit from breathing, I reckon. It feels a bit smothered, here. Finish: bold milk chocolate, hints of varnish, hair lacquer. The fruit soon spreads its wings: pineapple, pistachio paste, Jacques chocolate with a creamy pistachio filling. Great Auchentoshan, this. Looking forward to trying it again. 8/10

First dessert enters: a chocolate bomb.


dom666 presents: The Mouse That Roared

Brace yourself, dear reader: this is not an obvious one.
The Mouse That Roared can be split into 'Mouse' and 'Roar.' Mouse becomes Kate Mouse (for Kate Moss, innit), Kate becomes Cat, the Cat Laughs (a comedy festival in Ireland), which leaves us with Laugh and Roar. Laugh Roar. Laphroaig. Boom.

Laphroaig 30yo (43%, OB, LS76256 / LQ0168): nose: balsamic vinegar, salted caramel, decaying pears and apples. It has a faint leather note, yet mostly fruit, as well as polished dashboards, furniture wax, industrial polish and a basket of soot in another room. There is even a hint of tropical fruit in there. Mouth: unctuous, balanced, with cider vinegar and gentle leather flavours. I find it is missing a bit of power, today. Finish: peat smoke, rich and thick, leather, notes of tropical fruit, cantaloup melon as the dominant. Excellent dram, always a pleasure to revisit it, even if the mouth suffered a bit, after the powerful Auchentoshan. 9/10

adc joins us.

In an unknown context, dom666:
-Ça permet de séparer le bon gars de l'ivre.

tOMoH presents: Murder By Death
The French title is: Un Cadavre au Dessert
In French, un cadavre (litterally: a corpse), also means an empty bottle.
The second dessert is about to be served (tarte normande, custard, apple slices and sugar). The next bottle is about to die during dessert, sacrificed on the altar of a good pun.

64.40 22yo 1990/2012 Gingery heat and oaky tannins (53.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 172b): nose: coastal, salty, with remnants of a walk in a pine forest. It also has a note of citrus (lemon, lime, grapefruit). Mouth: acidic as citrus (grapefruit, lime), rhubarb; this is very acidic, today, with a slight, gingery touch of wood. Finish: a roller coaster of citrus and wood shavings. Unbelievable how much this has changed: it used to be a walk in the forest, stepping into a carpenter's workshop; now, it has lots of citrus and the bitterness of dark tea leaves -- the wood, dancing with the citrus. Psycho even finds capers in it, briny. A good dram. I am sad to see it empty, but glad it was shared with so many. 8/10

Teh casualty

tOMoH brought the next and final one, because it was a best-Sellers until June 2016, when HMRC decided Cadenhead had to stop bottling Live Casks. It has the wrong label stuck to the wrong bottle. Unfortunately, Sellers did not star in The Wrong Label, nor in The Wrong Bottle.

Cadenhead's Islay (unknown ABV, Cadenhead 1842 Live Cask): nose: a composition of peat smoke, leather belts, macerated stone fruits and farmyard scents. Fruit emerges too: quince and char-grilled pineapple. Mouth: velvety, yet powerful, with a veil of smoke (think: vaping, rather than a furnace. In other words: camp smoking, rather than camp fire). It is the enveloping gentleness of vapour, not the acridity of tobacco smoke. A little drying, still, with a twist of the pepper mill. Finish: fruit, smoke, peat, drying fishing nets. It turns very salty and coastal, with smoked whelk and cockles. Drying and salty, with a bitterness that is not necessarily pleasant -- although Psycho finds it suave. Warming, this. 7/10 (Thanks SW for the sample)

The tasting reaches its natural conclusion. We are stuffed as turkeys and certainly do not need more whisky. What an afternoon! Happy birthday, dom666!

25 November 2016

24/11/2016 Late-November outturn at Cadenhead's

Another month, another outturn -- or release tasting, at it is called here. There is a private tasting in the dedicated room, so it is a few drams while standing... in plastic cups. Notes are short.

Clynelish 26yo 1990/2016 (45.3%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Barrel, 258b): nose: varnish and wax. The varnish is really rather loud and unlike the regular distillery profile. Mouth: pine needles, then back to nail varnish. Finish: spicy varnish. Mm, it is not bad, but not really my bag. 6/10

Ord 20yo 1996/2016 (54.2%, Cadenhead, Château Lafitte Cask, 252b): nose: musky, wine-y, really not my thing at all. Mouth: coffee and red wine. Spaniards, if you read this, there is an idea for you: kafelimoxo or kalimoxoffee. Finish: much better here, it has berries and other fruit, with a touch of leather. 6/10

Mortlach 27yo 1988/2016 (52.6%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 498b): nose: game in sauce grand-veneur, pheasant dried sausage from the Ste Catherine market in Huy. Mouth: peppery red meat, game casserole with spices. Finish: hints of berries, initially, then beef biltong for dogs, Rioja -- overpowering red wine. The master of ceremony has been pimping this all week. It does not resonate with me. 6/10

Hazelburn 8yo 2007/2016 (54%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 162b): nose: soft baking and delicate fruit, this is gentle and subtle, but of course, it is triple distilled, so it is to be expected. Mouth: mellow and pleasant, with honey, flowers and raw chou dough. Finish: more of the same -- raw dough, honey and a hint of gentle peach. The whole is topped with a spoonful of paprika. 8/10

Springbank 14yo 2002/2016 (47.7%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Barrel, 168b): jokes fuse left and right, here. JS posted pictures of last week's tasting on social media, everyone who is here tonight saw them and jealousy bit many. The comments today are about the fact that this one is not ancient enough. Haha. Nose: verbena and noble wood. Mouth: warm custard, cassia bark, liquorice. Finish: wood and earth, with a kick of herbs and beef stock. 7/10

Glen Scotia 16yo 2000/2016 (57.8%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 612b): nose: I find it earthy, JS finds it fishy. Mouth: wood lacquer, white pepper and red wine. Finish: wood polish, then a growing note of anchovy indeed. Water removes the character. This is more interesting than good, though it remains decent. 7/10

Bowmore 13yo 2003/2016 (56.7%, Cadenhead, Burgundy Cask, 276b): nose: hay and roasted barley. Mouth: gentle custard. Finish: smoke and burning hay, scorched earth. A beautiful, if simple Bowmore. 8/10

Ardbeg 23yo 1993/2016 (47.7%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 210b): I had a chance to buy this this afternoon, when it went online. Knowing the waiting list was very long, I considered it -- in the worst case, I could retrocede it to a poor soul who did not have that opportunity. Then I got sidetracked, forgot and missed my chance. I overthought it, in other words. Great, then, to be able to try it anyway. Nose: unexpectedly farm-y; it smells of a cow's behind, after it has been milked. A heap of manure. Mouth: this tastes of sherry influence, despite being a Bourbon cask. Finish: burning hay and more farm-y flavours. Weird. An unusual Ardbeg. JS likes it a lot, I dislike it as much. Glad not to have bought it for myself. One in the group today is giving up his bottle, so it is not just me. This one really is not for everyone. No doubt some will love it and it is sold out, anyway. 5/10

Off-tasting, I try:

Girvan 26yo 1988/2015 (57%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 246b): nose: hot pastry and citrus. Mouth: soft puff pastry, burning apricot compote and grilled pineapple. Finish: long, full of apricot turnovers and citrus-y goodness. 8/10

Great session, even if the selection left me mostly cold. Lots of mindless giggles in a relaxed atmosphere while drinking whisky. What is there not to like?