14 May 2018

13/05/2018 Clearing the shelf #16

Bruichladdich 24yo 1993/2018 (46.9%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 204b): nose: lots of fruit jellies leap out of the glass, then it is plasticine, an empty plastic bucket and faint pencil eraser. Later, a distant note of forest floor rears its head, with earth, decaying wood and waxy leaves. It even has a dash of meek smoke, maybe. Mouth: acidic, sharpish, it is thin in texture, yet powerful in flavour (or is that the 6:45am effect?) It mellows down a notch and reveals unripe oranges, vine leaves and a drop of red-wine vinegar. Finish: the aftertaste is citric alright, with satsumas, clementines (Fandango -- for those who know) and a pinch of cocoa powder on top. The whole is acidic, though warm and comforting. 7/10 (Thanks for the sample, SW)

The minute changes the very second I take the picture

Longmorn 23yo 1994/2018 (52.6%, Cadenhead Rum Cask, finished in a Guadalupe Rum Cask, 222b): nose: this one starts off with lichen on staves and sugar, crystallising into chunky agglomerates in a paper bag. Ground orange peels (dried prior), then it seems to turn rather plastic-y, with warm shrinkwrap and lunchboxes in the sun. A lukewarm, fruity side soon comes back (lemonade, mixed peel), and still that sugary touch. Mouth: sharp and acidic at first, yet the sugary note soon reappears on top. Sugared water, still lemonade, lukewarm sugar-cane juice, a dash of lemon juice and pressed satsumas. Finish: here too, the overall impression is that of sugar. It is very sweet, with lots of that slightly citric sugar they put on fruit jellies. Tame wood spices join the mix, with just a pinch of ground ginger and lots of cinnamon powder, but also ground lemongrass, sandalwood and a tiny touch of liquorice. 7/10 (Thanks for the sample, SW)

Glen Mhor 15yo 1978/1993 (62.2%, Gordon & MacPhail Cask Strength, C#2263+2264+2266+2268, IC/BIG): nose: it is another world, of course. In pure GMP-miniature fashion, this has dusty shelves and pickled onions. Let us give it a moment... Ah! It opens up a bit. Old, leather-bound books, hay bales, citrus tarts past their prime, draff, stewed rhubarb, moist cork -- this has something for everyone! The second nose shows its power at last; it clears one's nostrils with a citrus-scented, industrial cleaning agent. With water, it turns more plastic-y, though lemon drops eventually show up too. Mouth: surprisingly mellow, until a citric note grows in intensity. It is lime juice -- no! pomelo juice, much sweeter than lime. Pineapple drops and rum toff; not quite piña colada, but it is no coffee liqueur either. The texture is that of skimmed milk, with undertones of squashed banana in porridge, baking soda and a growing pepper note -- ground, black pepper. Water makes it softer, thinner and fruitier. Finish: here, it is an interesting combination of warm hay bales and citrus, with leather added into the mix. A farmer in faded leather dungarees is sucking on a pineapple drop, whilst making a hay bale. A whisper of crushed Kaffir lime leaves and galangal shavings are spread on top of fudge-y custard and complete the picture. Nice. With water, the spices almost disappear (Kaffir lime leaves do remain) to leave citrus-y goodness. 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, OF)

8 May 2018

5/05/2018 The Shite Tasting

You read that correctly. The point is not to have terrible whiskies, but terrific whiskies whose names can be related to *ahem* natural needs. Everyone loves a bit of toilet humour. Or should.
The suspects: ruckus, dom666, PSc, JS, adc and myself. Bishlouk joins us later, while kruuk2, sonicvince and Psycho sadly cannot make it.

Lots of work, for a change!

The weather is compatible with the season, at last, and we have the whole thing on the terrace. Yay.

Shyte Whisky (40%, Adelphi) (tOMoH): I would be lying if I said this has nothing to do with the theme. It was the trigger. Nose: it smells like a blend, with toffee, caramel and a little smoke. This could be Johnny Black. Except it is better. Mouth: soft, watery, even, still with toffee, Quality Street Toffee Penny (the flat, golden one), a little smoke and burnt oak. Finish: yup, caramel and burnt wood with hot custard. This is funny as fuck and not that bad. I bought this second hand; the label is super wonky, clumsily cut, it looks photocopied, it is stuck on the wrong side of the bottle, and there are traces of glue on the glass. I still wonder whether it is a fake. At the same time, I really cannot see why anyone would counterfeit one twenty-five-pound bottle that is still available in shops. 5/10

Well funny

Can you spell W-O-N-K-Y?

Inchm-urine 18yo b.2015 (40%, Undisclosed Bottler for XV Squadron's 100 Years) (JS): nose: lemon drops, lemon jellies, dried lime peels, tangerine peels. Mouth: acidic and fresh, with lots of mixed peel, pineapple drops, crystallised lemon cubes. This is lovely, perfect in this weather. Finish: more acidic goodness, full of lemon skins, lime zest and pineapple cubes. I reckon I like it slightly more than the OB 20yo from a couple of days ago, but they play in the same category. 7/10

Sausage rolls enter. Neither adc, nor I get to try any. However, this turns into a masterclass in shite food too, with a sequence of crisps.

Elusive sausage rolls

Grills (by Lays)

Bolognese-flavoured Hula Hoops (by Croky)

The almighty Bugles (by Lays)
I could not find Toppies, and Mama Mia's contain palm oil
Chipitos were a bit pedestrian

Dean-stron Finished in Virgin Oak (46.3%, OB, P030146 L5 09:42 13056 F227044/F227046) (PSc): where 'stron' is Liège slang for 'étron,' meaning 'turd.' Nose: caramelised porridge, roasted coconut, warm custard and sticky fudge (that does sound rather turd-y). Mouth: warm honey, custard and a hint of spices. Finish: toffee and fudge again, cream coffee, chococcino. Nice. 7/10

Talking about the April 2018 controversy around the Nobel Prize in Literature (the laureate has been accused of sexual harassment by multiple women):
dom666: "In Sweden, they don't laugh about that!"
PSc: "In Sweden, they don't laugh, full stop!"

A trio of drams next.

Scaca-pa 14yo (40%, OB, LU28176 13:37 M01618/M01522) (PSc): nose: slightly salty custard, chocolate pudding and orange zest. Mouth: softly bitter, green, with lots of citrus (pomelo, lime), and even mango skins. Finish: again, very fruity, with a drop of cocoa powder. This formerly-entry-level whisky remains an excellent drop. 8/10


Scaca-pa 2005/2017 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, 161983) (ruckus): nose: this smells more buttery at first nosing. It also has peaches in Syrup, then citrus peels eventually come back. Even later, it has a potent smell of marijuana. Mouth: fresh, with a very spicy arrival, before it becomes very gentle, with mellow custard. Finish: acidic, here, very acidic. It has notes of hops (lager, or blond beer, as it should be known), cider, Pêche Mel'Bush (peach-flavoured beer); it is slightly hop-y, fizzy and fruity. 8/10


Scaca-pa 16yo (40%, OB, LKRW 3770 2SPF9000/2SPB9001) (ruckus): nose: this one seems a bit weak, after the previous ones. The nose is more earthy too, with even a touch of cellophane. Mouth: mellow, watery, thin, but pleasant. It has a dash of honey, a pinch of ground cloves, dandelions. Finish: easy and soft, with warming acacia honey, a broth of daffodils and daisies. Spices emerge towards the end (cinnamon and ground cloves), but the whole is mostly soft and easy. Nice and efficient, although it is the least interesting of the three, in my opinion. 7/10

High quality throughout, though.
Crazy that none of the owners thought of Sca-pa-tology (© adc)

Inverleven 37yo 1973/2011 (49%, Chivas Brothers Cask Strength Edition Deoch an Doras) (group): double whammy, as this is a Jock an Doras, bottled by the Shite-vas Brothers. Ha! Ha! Nose: marzipan, French toast, marmalade, speculoos -- this is amazingly good, sweet and biscuit-y. Mouth: concentrated, full of French toast, speculoos and gingerbread men. Mellow, gently lively too, spicy and ample. Finish: peach liqueur, ginger bread, crushed speculoos, a soft, drying, oaky note, toasted bread and cane sugar. Meow! This is lovely! 9/10

PSc calls it a day.

Nik-kaca Coffey Malt (45%, OB imported by La Maison du Whisky, 6/04F081539) (dom666): nose: metal and verbena, then pastry scents show up, powered by toasted coconut. Mouth: coconut yoghurt, vanilla and custard. Finish: coconut, vanilla custard, custard-cream biscuits. Simple, but efficient. 8/10


Nik-kaca Coffey Grain (45%, OB imported by La Maison du Whisky, 6/04F101511) (dom666): nose: more cereal-y and porridge-y than the malt and, well, less expressive. Hints of vanilla. It later opens up to reveal more coconut. Mouth: milky, with a minimal pinch of ground cardamom. It also has sumac and tingling green pepper. Finish: the full extent of toasted coconut now hits, with vanilla and yoghurt, hot custard and soft doughnuts. This is warming and comforting. Again, relatively simple, but very good at what it does. 8/10

Bishlouk joins us.

Just in time for brownie

Caca-ol Ila 11yo 1993/2004 (46%, Murray McDavid Maverick, Bourbon Cask finished in Chenin Cask, C#W0404) (dom666): nose: roasted barley and coal dust, then lots of salt. Mouth: fiery, velvety, but fiery. It is hot and smokey. Finish: roasted barley, spent camp fire, cold embers, ashes. Effective. It takes water really well, too. 7/10

Craigella-shite 8yo 2008/2016 (46%, Murray McDavid Benchmark, Sherry Butt finished in Rum Cask, C#6001855 & 600855, 713b) (Bishlouk): nose: sulphury cheese, rancio, milk, and quite a bit of leather. Mouth: lively, with drops of coffee, then mocha tart. The sulphur disappears, leaving only charcoal behind. Finish: soft, sweet, it has no sulphur and no mocha. The rum influence is tame and pleasant. 6/10

ruckus leaves us. He has a party to go to tonight.

Meanwhile, we have more whisky to drink

Poo-ley 24yo 1991/2016 (53.8%, Cadenhead World Whiskies, Bourbon Barrel, 198b, 16/293) (Bishlouk): nose: clementines and a whiff of smoke. It is soft and delicate, waxy and fruity. Mouth: acidic and fruity, it has lots of citrus -- fiery pink grapefruit and zesty lemon. The citrus is almost stripping. Finish: long, with clementines and gentle smoke again, a touch of bitter citrus peels and ground orange rinds. This is excellent! 9/10


Glenlo-shite 17yo 1977/1995 (61.8%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection imported by Preiss Imports) (tOMoH): of course, the cork breaks. Fortunately, I am now a seasoned corkscrewer, and extricate the remainder with no further damage. Nose: pinewood undergrowth. In the distance, gravel and flint -- this is a Glenlochy alright! Granite, tree bark (beech). Water helps tobacco come out, as well as a pinch of ash and nigella seed-covered jam or chutney. Mouth: big, muscular, it has concentrated pine wood, Goccepino style, pebbles, polished granite, a full quarry of it. This is really hot! Water allows chutney and jam to come out, sprinkled with nigella seeds and pepper. Spicy, it is! Finish: huge, long, with lots of fiery pine wood, cedar needles. The alcohol is fierce as fook, from "that" period of Cadenhead's. I bet the cask selector had no gums left. With water, it remains warming, with Virginia tobacco, hot sand and gravel. Another brutal, indomitable 'lochy. I love it, but one dram of it is enough. Old school, difficult and certainly challenging! 8/10

As a nightcap, dom666, Bishlouk and I have...

Banff 35yo 1975/2011 (42.4%, Dougla Laing An Old & Rare Platinum Selection, 158b, b#149) (group): nose: pencil shavings, hot mustard, crayons, plasticine, carpet glue, sawdust, but also juicy straw, shaved ginger and wasabi, with whispers of apricot, in the back. The second nose is dunnage warehouse, lichen on stave. It becomes fruitier and fruitier. Mouth: it is woody here too, but softer than the nose suggested -- of course, it has a low ABV. In no particular order: rose-petal jam, balsa wood, an Ikea workshop -- no! posher than that! The wood becomes drying, though it remains fruity. Finish: long, comforting, mildly drying, with more of that nigella-seed-driven jam and roasted mandarin slices. The intensity is impressive, considering it is nigh-on 20% lower in ABV than the previous dram. The wood goes down, while the mandarin grows. This is extremely good. 9/10

Bishlouk has a dram of G5.5 before driving dom666 back to his. Another excellent tasting.

3/05/2018 Discovering the Ugly Ducklings

Bishlouk kindly invited JS and me to a tasting at his. The concept is a little different in that he opens his own bottles exclusively, while the other attendees bring nibbles. At least in theory.
Bishlouk is used to serving Littlemill, Caol Ila, Clynelish or Springbank, yet this group is less accustomed to off-the-beaten-path distilleries. This session is an introduction to those. Everything is poured blind, so as to focus on the character of the whisky, rather than the label. Of course, we all try to guess which distillery it is anyway, but the focus is on the liquid all the same.
The suspects: Bishlouk, red71, JS, SL, WH, CL and myself.

Before anyone arrives, JS, Bishlouk and I make a fatal mistake: pizza

Dram #1
Nose: soft, custardy, with lemon, limoncello, waxy lemon skins, hints of a cereal field in the sun, and even strawberries. Mouth: unctuous on the palate, mellow, it has dandelions and delicate wax. It is mildly drying, fresh and zesty. Finish: warming, with golden fields of cereals, soft cheese rind, dry hay and chap stick. A lovely drop, this, which I shall miss. Indeed, the first rule of this tasting is that I break the first rule of this tasting: this is my bottle. Allt-A-Bhainne 16yo 1991/2007 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice, Refill Bourbon Barrels, JG/BAB) 8/10 (tOMoH)

Food enters. A collection of artisan breads, cheeses and a selection of cut meat, mostly dried sausage, but also mortadella and cured ham.

An Inchmurrin for Spain
alongside Spanish sausage
Dram #2
Nose: fresh, floral, spring-like (Bishlouk). It has malt and onions in brine, toffee and a whisper of latte. Some venture it could be Dailuaine, a Lowlander, or Inchmurrin (red71). The wood is more assertive after a while (galangal paste), then grass and wet plank (CL). Mouth: powerful, more so than the ABV (which has not yet been revealed) will suggest, though the underlying is soft and round, with maybe a touch of soap. Finish: milk chocolate, soft tablet, daffodil broth and dried roots. Inchmurrin 20yo (40%, OB imported by T.A.C., b. late 1990s) 7/10 (mine too, well done, red71)

Considering the age of those bottles, I am asked how long they have been open. The answer is between five and ten years.
Bishlouk: "tOMoH is an open-bottle conservative."

Dram #3
Nose: soaked staves, sangria, peach skins, nectarine juice, candle wax. It actually smells like a soap shop or a candle shop. Marmalade comes up at second nosing. Mouth: warm, it has the dryness of hay, warm custard -- no, it is something else. I will never find out what. Finish: pastry-like, though it is also softly drying, with the nice bitterness of marmalade. Wonderful drop, especially the nose. Glentauchers 41yo 1976/2018 (42%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Hogshead, 126b) 9/10

Dram #4
Nose: farm-y, it has horse's hair, tractor tyres and farm paths, then nail polish and coarsely-ground steak pepper. The second nose has more marmalade and less farmyard -- dust and old oranges. Mouth: bay leaves (CL), juniper berries, cassia bark, black cardamom and ginger. Spicy, or what? At second sip, it is candied ginger, mixed peels and crystallised fruit cubes. Finish: cloves, lots and lots of wood, shaved ginger and crushed galangal. This one is very spicy, very woody, but also pretty good. Funnily enough, this is the same bottling I delivered to red71 when I met him for the first time. Dailuaine 28yo 1983/2012 First Release (47.3%, Archives, Hogshead, C#865, 265b) 7/10

Dram #5
Nose: sulphur, vinegar, some dust, pickled onions, coal dust, soot. It is faded, yet dirty (red71). Mouth: sugar, then the same coal dust as in the nose. This is better than in my memories (it is mine), though it still does not live up to what the label promises. SL finds it salty and acidic. He says it reminds him of Ardmore. Finish: spirit-y, dusty, ashy, sooty, vinegar-y. All of that is under control. Ashy and sweet, neither very fruity nor peaty and, actually, pretty difficult. Decent, not blinding. I brought it because I thought it was interesting, more than good. And it is the perfect time: it spent twenty years in the cask, then twenty more years in the bottle. Regardless, I will likely not replace this one. Ardmore 19yo 1978/1998 (46%, Cadenhead Original Collection) (tOMoH) 6/10

Dessert is served: macaroons and chocolate brownies with a tahini topping.

Dram #6
Nose: milky at first, it soon becomes syrupy. Hazelnut liqueur with a hint of sulphur. Mouth: walnut, crushed hazelnut. It is thick in the mouth, cloying, anything but subtle. It was bottled for Deutschland, after all, where the local palate seems keen on syrupy juice. Intense and peppery, this. Finish: hazelnut liqueur, frozen raspberry shavings, soft and fruity. It is assertive, but enjoyable. Inchmurrin 14yo 2003/2017 (53.3%, OB selected by Destillerie Kammer-Kirsch, Sauternes Hogshead Finish, C#16/303-8, 288b) 7/10

Dram #7
Nose: jam, marmalade. To be more specific, it is rose-petal jam. Red sweets, fruit jellies, cuberdon (SL), then the softest whiff of blotting paper. Mouth: sweet again, it has Haribo bananas, some wood and Fraises Tagada (I promise I am not sponsored by Haribo -- but I will take donations). This is insanely sugary, in a slightly chemical fashion. The back of the mouth has a touch of burnt wood. Finish: those banana sweets again, alongside gingery heat. Alright. Benrinnes 20yo 1997/2017 (54%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 3 x Bourbon Barrels, 408b) 7/10

Dram #8
Nose: cedar wood, moth-killing spray (CL), the dryness of a pine-wood forest, pine cones, pine needles. Later on, it is hard plastic, food-container style. The plastic pitches its tent at some point, obfuscating all other flavours. Mouth: lively, wild, all over the place, even. It is soft and round, but pretty spicy too, in turns. Indomitable. Finish: overly woody, ginger- and galangal-driven, with added cassia bark and ground masala. This is over the top for me. Bishlouk explains he bought it at Limburg's Whisky Fair, a couple of years ago. Hope he still likes it; it is not something I would buy, and I do not find it particularly representative of the distillery character. Tamnavulin 1993/2016 (55.2%, Malts of Scotland, Bourbon Hogshead, C#MoS 16013, 162b, b#72) 5/10

Time to try this lovely home-blended-whisky-infused Stilton

Dram #9
Nose: dried banana slices and fruity yoghurt. Mouth: fruity. Massively fruity. Pineapple slices, barbecued pineapple and Chinese gooseberry. Finish: Chinese gooseberry indeed, roasted pineapple... in fact, it is pure pineapple juice. This is right up my alley. When Bishlouk tells us what it is, I am afraid I will change my score in the morning, as whisky from this distillery tends to strip my tongue and dehydrate me to ridiculous levels. Not this time: I am fine the following morning (except for the lack of sleep). Cambus 25yo 1991/2017 (58.5%, The Vintage Malt Whisky Co. The Cooper's Choice, Sherry Cask, C#61983, 360b) 8/10

After a quick clear-up and wash-up, the group disbands. A very nice evening it was!