22 May 2017

20/05/2017 Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Have you noticed that more than one bottling has a means of transportation on the label? We will celebrate those, today.

Low turnout, unfortunately. Cavalier66, OB, JS and myself. Let us make the other jealous, shall we? Apparently, it is World Whisky Day, too. We almost call the whole thing off just to not comply.

From right to left, this time

The playlist is also built around the theme.

Various - Techno Trash Car
The Who - Quadrophenia

Inchmurrin 20yo (40%, OB imported by T.A.C., b. late 1990s) (me): this one is not in theme, yet we have it at the same time as the following, which is. Nose: dust, thin ash, a hint of vinegar and gentle fruit. Perhaps a touch of wax too. Later on, wet cardboard shows up. Mouth: waxy plums, marzipan (Cavalier66). This is soft and silky, very well balanced. Finish: marzipan-y indeed, sweet, delicate and, really, the perfect apéritif. 7/10


Inchmurrin 18yo b.2015 (40%, Undisclosed Bottler for XV Squadron's 100 Years) (JS): obviously, there is a plane on the label -- a Panavia Tornado Gr1, to be accurate. Nose: this one is fruitier, with apricot stones, then a herbal character (sage). Mouth: very Littlemill-y, fruity, grassy, slightly chalky, even, while velvety and quaffable. Finish: milk chocolate, chalk or crushed Aspirine, gentle citrus and dried kiwi. This is very Littlemill-y indeed! 7/10

The group's first sigle cask single malt

Urawa - Parable of the Driver

Gerston Series N°3 (45%, The Lost Distillery Company, B#1.I, b#0399) (me): Gerston Martin, see? James Bond's car? Nose: farm-y peat, camp fire and tractor tyres, butter, a whiff of vinegar. Water brings out a pillow-like scent and pickled tomatoes. Mouth: an oily vinaigrette, very dry hay. This is rather warming, in terms of ABV. Finish: long, warming, grassy (hay, even straw). Water makes it much, much fruitier, allowing persimmon to come through. This one, I prefer with water. 7/10


Blended Malt XO (44.7%, The Whisky Agency, Sherry Butt, 317b) (Cavalier66): the label shows a picture of a holiday, which one travels to, says the owner of the bottle. Nose: a huge sherry influence, dry and biscuit-y (speculoos). It has black cardamom and rancio. Much later on, hard-boiled eggs come out. Water and time turn this into caramel, poured onto a piece of dark-wood furniture. Mouth: more sherry influence, dry-ish, tannin-y, with cinnamon and gingerbread. Water improves the balance and makes it fruitier and less spicy. Finish: it is almost cola, at this stage, though less sweet (phew). Warm speculoos, straight out of the oven, dried cigar leaves. With water: chocolate coulis on speculoos, with hints of squashed raspberries. This one improves with water too. 7/10

Food enters the scene: sea-salt crisps, popcorn, feta, crackers and plum tomatoes, courtesy of Cavalier66 and home-baked brioche bread by OB. To wash it down, we have...

OB's own-brewed beer: nose: fruity as hell! Peach, pear, mango. Very refreshing. Mouth: soft and delicate, fluffy. Finish: soft, fruity, with a very faint bitterness. OB is not very proud of the result. We all like it a lot.

3 Phase - The Straight Road

Littlemill 23yo 1991/2014 (48%, The Whisky Agency, Refill Hogshead, 275b) (Cavalier66): as the picture shows, this one has flying machines all over it. Nose: citrus, custard, coconut yogurt, then whispers of tropical fruit appear (squashed mango). It then evolves towards mandarin and light coffee (yup). With water, the fruit becomes more discreet. Yogurt takes more room. Then, the fruit comes back (ripe peach). Mouth: citrus-y and tropical (grapefruit, Chinese gooseberry), with a hint of hiking boots. Water does not alter it much. Finish: fruit aplenty, with a gentle bitterness (boot leather). Fruit stone? Water helps the fruit-stone bitterness come out more. 9/10


Littlemill 22yo 1992/2014 (49.1%, Jack Wieber Old Passenger Ships for Whiskyschiff Zürich 2014 imported by Monnier, Bourbon Cask, C#1902, b#121) (JS): as the name of the collection suggests, there is a picture of a ship on the label. First JW I try and I am rather excited. Nose: this one feels stronger in alcohol, but shyer in terms of flavours. Perhaps it is slightly peppery? Much later on, some fruit comes out, but it is nowhere near the TWA. Mouth: Yes, quite spicy, with orange peels. Water keeps it in the same sort of profile, with orange peels, tangerines, pomelo skins, even melon skins. Finish: yogurt-y, custard-y, sweet and velvety, complex and fantastic. It even has a touch of dunnage warehouse dryness and bitterness. This one is less immediately grabbing, yet the finish is worth the effort. 9/10

Mark Knopfler - Privateering

tOMoH -Good buy, girl! ... and I mean b-u-y, not b-y-e.
Cavalier66 -I thought it was a bit of an abrupt ending!

The notes are not justly expressive; these are two great Littlemills, without a doubt! I do prefer the TWA's nose; both are equivalent in terms of mouth, whilst the JW's finish is my favourite. We all change our opinion several times about which one is best, during the course of those two drams.

Roxette - Tourism

With the following two, we all have pastel nata.

There was also
Caledonian MacBrayne
Caledonian 28yo 1987/2016 (52.3%, Cadenhead Single Cask, Bourbon Hogshead, 246b) (me): that will be the Caledonian Sleeper train, then! Nose: stronger in spirit, with dried oregano peppered over shortcrust pastry, a pizza dough with smoked olives. Mouth: a blackcurrant and blackberry explosion. I am convinced this is a mislabelled Invergordon. Finish: long, pastry-like, with more dark berries. 8/10


Garnheath 27yo 1972/2000 (59.4%, SV Silent Stills, C#386516, 190b, b#182) (me): GL was going to bring a Garnheath, he said before calling off. I thought I ought to bring one out for comparison. Now GL is not coming, I still want to try mine. Oh! and it is Garnheathrow, of course. Famous airport. Nose: this smells more neutral, with a slightly medicinal tone -- pills, bandages, disinfectant. It also has varnish and the dustiness of a dunnage warehouse. Mouth: powerful, intense, not unlike mouthwash (Listerine). Sparkling spices (black cumin, galangal) and even kluwak nuts, which I conveniently let everyone smell, earlier. Finish: coating, with sticky Listerine, kluwak nuts, black cumin again, char-grilled chilli, then a lot of dried fruit (figs, prunes, sultanas). This is a bit of a beast, but taming it is very rewarding! 9/10

We all agree the Caledonian is more for immediate pleasure, whilst the Garnheath is more complex (and intimidating).

Speyside's Finest Distillery 43yo 1966/2009 (48.2%, DL Old Malt Cask for the Whisky Show 2009, Sherry Butt, C#DL REF 5625, 197b) (Cavalier66): I guess this is brought as a reference to Route 66 (it is from 1966), but no; Cavalier66 had this for his birthday, last year, and this takes him back to that time -- it is a time machine! Nose: cola. No! Dr. Pepper. Cherry Coke (JS). Corn syrup, nail-varnish remover, cold chocolate coulis, then liquorice, cold, mulled wine, gummy bears. The nose feels a lot stronger than 48%, which is no mean feat, after the high-strength Garnheath. This is huge and refined at the same time, if that makes sense. Mouth: liquorice, maple syrup and dried fruit (sultanas, figs, dates), but also spices (nigella-seed-sprinkled mango chutney). Finish: long, coating, raisin-y, with a minute touch of rubber in the back, liquorice. Great, especially the nose. Although it is probably not the profile I usually go for. 8/10

"Matured in a Sherry Cask"
...in case it was not obvious.

-The sherry influence is kept in check.
-Do you mean Captain Slovakian?

Council Of Nine - Diagnosis (not in theme, but really wanted to play it)

Karuizawa 1984/2014 (58.5%, Number Ones Drinks for La Maison du Whisky, Ex-Bourbon Cask, C#8173, 363b) (OB): for the whole afternoon, OB has been thinking it could be Car-uizawa, but he had another idea: Karuiwazaki (Kawazaki, the motorcycle brand, for the poor readers who have spent the last forty years under a motorcycle-free rock). He also promises me that I am not going to like this. Nose: heavy varnish, solvents and what seems like a monstrous sherry influence. Is this really a Bourbon cask? "I can definitely taste the re-racking," Cavalier66 jokes. The nose is a bit of a steamroller, though it is not that complex to these nostrils -- mostly varnish. Dried tobacco leaves emerge, after a while. Mouth: a lot of spices from the wood, varnish again, industrial glue. Finish: long, heady, with more glue and varnish, liquorice and rubber. This is very intense (though not quite as much as C#3557 for Nepal). It is well made, yet I would not want to drink it every day and never more than one dram: it is exhausting. OB explains the first dram he poured out of this bottle, he had with cola. We giggle. Opulence. OB haves it. 7/10


Kavalan 5yo b.2013 (57.8%, OB Solist imported by Bacchus Spirits, Sherry Cask, C#SO60821040, 514b, b#298) (OB): this is for King Car, though it could just as well be a dyslexic Asian's mispronunciation of 'caravan' (watch the stereotype, there!) Nose: so concentrated! It feels like syrupy, fortified wine on steroids, cured meat, smoked ham, dried earth, dried... stuff. Mouth: cough syrup, super dry leather. It is a strange mix of overly-rich, syrupy notes, and drying, meaty tannins. Finish: hot, syrupy, exactly like cough syrup, in fact, with the drying tannins of red wine. This may be good, but absolutely not my thing. Too much. 4/10

One of these two is from a Bourbon cask

Cavalier66 takes a leave. OB was upset he missed the Lochside 30yo, recently. To ease his sorrow, I pour him Glenugie 31yo 1977/2009 (58.1%, SV Cask Strength Collection, Oloroso Finish, C#7, 577b), which he assures me manages to hold itself after the titanic Asians.

During the last few drams, we hear:

Kraftwerk - Autobahn
Depeche Mode - Behind The Wheel / Behind The Wheel
Gary Numan - Cars
OMD - Dazzle Ships

This is the end. Time for bed.

9 May 2017

8/05/2017 Two Cadenhead drams -- and a third one

Auchroisk 27yo 1989/2016 (57.3%, Cadenhead Club, Sherry Cask, 360b): nose: apricot compote in a fresh doughnut, but also metallic tools, a clean, soapy scent and a subtle, mineral touch (granite or marble). Mouth; fresh and fruity, with apricot compote again, or mandarin jam, and a pinch of herbs (rosemary sprigs, tarragon). The heat grows, though more in an aromatic than smokey way. Finish: fruity here too (apricot), gently herbaceous or metallic, with tarragon and rosemary, perhaps even oregano. 8/10

Bunnahabhain 26yo 1989/2016 (45.9%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 246b): nose: white wine, peach nectar, polished wood and some herbs -- marjoram, dried sage, fresh tobacco leaves. It then closes down and becomes a mushroom cave, or a photo lab, with all sorts of chemicals and glossy paper. Mouth: bitter marmalade, Seville orange rinds, then peppermint and faded leather. Cashew nuts, Brazil nuts (with skin) are there too. It remains very fresh on the palate. Finish: peppermint, black peppercorns, juniper berries, warm wood, old staves, lichen, oranges turned blue, hoppy beer. Nice, this. 8/10

A third was foreseen in this session, though it is only the following day that I get to try it.

Pulteney 11yo 2006/2017 (56.1%, Cadenhead, Bourbon Hogshead): nose: cinnamon and cloves, thyme infusion, then ground pepper on peeled citrus. Later on, it opens up to reveal quince and Chinese gooseberry. The pepper becomes assertive, not invading. Warm sawdust and hints of white wine. Mouth: lemon-infused custard, herbal infusion, augmented with a slice of lemon indeed. The texture is milky, with a dash of lemon juice. Of the trademark salty air, little is here to be found... until very late. Salt and mild pepper do come out, after all. Finish: lemon, pomelo skin, citrus in general, apple compote, grated ginger, yet also dulce de leche -- it remains milky and soft; almond milk, maybe? It has a gentle bitterness of plant sap and young wine. 8/10 (Thanks adc for the dram)

6/05/2017 May outturn at the SMWS

Although I have visited a few times since the latest article, I have clearly not been as regular in my SMWS outturn reviews, coming for a few drinks with friends, rather than analysing what was in my glass. Ah, well. This month, I am here.
The bottles, not so much. There was a mix-up with the printing of the labels, I am told, and only six bottles are therefore released, this month. To make up for that low number, another ten or so were supplied a few days later, from other outturns, or ones that came out outside any outturn.

46.45 23yo d.1992 A two-way street (52.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill Ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 240b): nose: plant sap in sizzling butter. It is green and strong. Mouth: yes, green, zesty, with citrus taking over (mandarin peels, grapefruit). Finish: bitter-sweet, with sweetened grapefruit juice. The nose is disappointing, whereas the finish makes up for it. Very nice. 7/10

7.128 30yo d.1985 A sonata of sapidity (54%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 72b): an old 7 that I have never seen before. Have to try it! Nose: wow. Caramel-coated rose petals spring to mind immediately, then marzipan. Water makes it more citrus-y. Mouth: warming, it tickles the tongue with sriracha sauce. With water, this turns sweeter, with notes of squashed mandarins and apricot crumble (adc). Finish: custard and fruit -- tropical fruit, to be precise: mango and jackfruit, in particular. Also a few leaves, as well as a bite of milk chocolate. With water, it becomes more warming and gives a kick of passion fruit. Lovely! 9/10

Switching to a label where what stands out
the most is the age seems to bring little benefit
35.185 22yo d.1994 Frightfully delightful (57.5%, SMWS Society Cask, 1st Fill Toasted Oak Hogshead, 242b): nose: behind shortbread, there is a leafy note -- ivy or sage. Custard Cream biscuits emerge, rubber (pencil eraser), and quite a bit of butter. Mouth: soft, gently mellow, honey-like, with a heat growing, nonetheless, yet it never becomes uncomfortable. Finish: minty, metallic, it has sage, a coriander-leaf freshness and lovely pastry. Nice. 8/10

Unknown Dram: PS gives me this; he does not know what it is: someone left it behind in the tasting room. Nose: dry, coffee-like, slightly rough. Mouth: much softer, though also salty, maritime. Finish: salty and maritime indeed, with seaweed, kelp and the frothiness of the sea. 7/10

29.191 16yo d.1999 Explosion in a granite quarry (59%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill Ex-Bourbon Barrel, 234b): nose: embers and scorched earth, hot manure, sweaty boot sole (adc), hints of decaying, tropical fruits. Mouth: surprisingly soft, with pillow-like peach flesh, buttercups and growing smoked paprika. Finish: soft, yellow-flesh fruits and coal dust, sweet and burnt. 8/10

Brief, but pleasant.

We had another couple of things (a malt and a grain), but they are not out yet and I was made to promise not to publish notes.
Addendum: now they are out, I can reveal they were 2.98 and G9.2.