17 June 2019

17/06/2019 Pre-breakfast drams

Because I am awake, and because these things do not drink themselves!

Rieclachan 12yo (40%, Eaglesome Campbeltown Commemoration, b. ca. 1985): this is the one I could not open in Campbeltown. At home, I have better tooling. Nose: a dusty and compote-y profile, with apricot jam on dried bread. Next is blotting paper or cardboard, distant roasted malt, toasted bread crumbs, then potato skins, mashed potatoes and malted milk. The nose is rather shy. Hopefully, it is not entirely spent -- the bottle has been open for two weeks... A few moments later, it becomes more mineral, with flint and slate; a slate roof after a summer rain. The second nosing brings honeyed water in a metal spoon. Mouth: apricot at first, followed by a fleeting-but-sharp bitterness. That thankfully disappears to leave apricot stones and rock-hard, dried leather -- dryer than a saddle. The apricot is still there, though it takes a bit of work to decipher it. Warm, metalic cutlery and slate reappear. Finish: the finish is the best feature, with caramelised compote, roasted walnuts and a distinct and tenacious old-school smoke that carries a vaguely bitter or acrid note. The death is all smokey, Bourbon-infused marmalade. Boss. It has its whacky moments, this one, but all in all, it is another corker! 8/10

Glen Garioch 21yo (43%, OB, b#14980, L131 0652): the bottle's last hurrah. Nose: it is all subtle, yet the nose is smokey, with heather thrown onto the fire, bushes of lavender, burning on the hill, dry logs and old hessian, jute bags that have been used to carry hay. Surprisingly, the next note is that of pebbles at the bottom of a waterfall, then washing-up-liquid foam, unscented or nearly. It also has dry-ish forest floor, empty jars of jams left in the sun, glass-y and still tainted with sugar and fruits. Mouth: a fleeting bitterness quickly makes room for juicy pears, crystallised pineapple, lime zest -- no! Blood orange zest. Blood orange segments, actually. I would love to say smoked blood-orange segments, but of the smoke, nothing much comes through. After a few sips, elderberry cordial starts shining. Finish: the smoke comes back alright, gentle, but present, with a hint of lavender handwash (just a hint, in no way a distraction), burning hay, currant cough drops, smoked elderberry jam and soaked, smoked sultanas. It is a long, gentle and comforting finish, very controlled and very good, mostly balancing the elderberry jam and the refined smoke. What a dram! 9/10

11 June 2019

08/06/2019 June outturn at the SMWS

CD, GK and PS are there, and JS joins us. It is busy, but bearable. The point of complaint are those ridiculously-cumbersome, ridiculously-uncomfortable sofas!

PS has been here for seven hours or so, and is in a generous mood.

88.18 9yo d.2009 All-purpose wasp repellent (52.9%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 222b): the SMWS leaflet reads, "Jan Birch's all-purpose wasp repellent." Another inside joke by AMcR, who seems to more and more use his gig at the SMWS as a platform to remind the world he knows people. It would seem someone else at the SMWS did not think it in great taste, considering the bottle itself does away with the Jan-Birch namedrop. Nose: nuts and vinegar, Brazil and macadamia oils, argan oil, linseed oil, a drop of citrus juice, medlar, sawdust and stripping alcohol. How strong is this? Mouth: nutty and pickled, it has more medlar, oily macadamia and almond skin. Finish: boom! Strong, nutty and oily, it has waxy grapefruit peels thrown into the mix. This is adequate. 7/10

93.107 7yo d.2007 Flexing the mussels (59.6%, SMWS Society Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 237b): nose: surprisingly gentle, this is an official-like Glen Scotia, all covered in honey and sweetness. Rather fruity, it displays soft pear, crushed raspberry, nail polish, quince jelly, honeysuckle and loads of honey. Initially, it had waves of tool oil, watch oil etc., a mechanical touch that was interesting, if promptly lost. Mouth: in line with the nose, it has honeysuckle, quince jelly, rose-petal jelly and honey. The clockmaker's oil makes a shy come-back too. Finish: so much honey! It gets darker, here (wood honey), and even has a metallic edge of new tools and nickel coins (or watch cogs). Nice! 8/10

46.72 25yo d.1992 Jungle slippers (53.8%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 275b): nose: is it tropical fruit, or is it bike-tyre tubes? Well, it is both! Rubber and talcum powder alongside exotic fruit of the non-exuberant type (guava, papaya). Mouth: mellow, velvety, it has the texture of fleshy fruit -- papaya and guava again, maybe quince too. Finish: long, juicy and fruity, the finish has similar notes, with all the fruit in jams. Lovely. 8/10

39.175 29yo d.1989 The chocolate and wine diet (49.1%, SMWS Society Cask, 1st Fill Bourbon Hogshead + finished in PX Cask for 6y, 225b): nose: a little subtle, but it does have what seems like marzipan, pickles, crushed Brazil nuts and a dryer note. Roasted chestnut and tobacco complete the nose. Mouth: tobacco, peach-stone oil, peach juice (not nectar), peach skins. It seems very soft, but it does have power. Finish: noticeably different to the nose and mouth, with more yellow fruit (apricot, peach), some kind of jam (apricot, presumably) and a gently bitter note. This is nice, but not a patch on sister cask Starry starry night. 8/10

Cheeses are served

112.37 23yo d.1995 Teasing and Enticing (53.2%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 115b): nose: deep and woody, with mahogany, hazeltree, then apple juice, apple-tree wood, squashed plum and nuts, in the back of the nose. Mouth: polished dashboards, teak oil, baked apples and shallow-fried quince slices. Finish: what a kick! Once the alcohol dissipates, the finish explodes into a similar mix of orchard fruit and woody tones. Water brings out more tropical fruit. Excellent. 8/10

66.146 21yo d.1997 Sensational sweet smoky 'noble rot' (51.9%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 244b): nose: fried butter and pencils -- an unexpected combination... that sort of works. Grilled marshmallows, an old-school, wooden churn, and then it peters out to become very shallow and buttery. Rancid butter, to be accurate. Mouth: mildly ashy (because I know to look out for that), mostly creamy and actually rather soft, with almond milk and fruit drops. Finish: fruit drops alright. This one is very fresh, with almost-tropical fruit, oily tones (raspberry oil) and a slightly-too-pronounced bitterness. This feels like an Ardlair (unpeated Ardmore). Nice enough, but easily the weakest of the day. 7/10

Time to go home.

31/05/2019 When in Tobermory, do as the Tobermorians do MkII

Ledaig 6yo d.1972 (70° Proof, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseur's Choice, b. late 1970s): we had this yesterday. It is the same fragile mix of soot and fruit on the nose, and follows with a consistent mouth and a fruity finish that seems to pack more punch than yesterday. Still an amazing dram. 9/10

Ledaig 42yo 1972/2015 Dùsgadh (46.7%, OB, Oloroso Sherry Casks Finish, 500b): yup, another sample from the distillery. The very last sample, in fact. The oldest Ledaig ever bottled, and from the same distillation year as the above. Virtually sister casks, bottled thirty-six years apart. How interesting is that? Nose: impressively deep, it has furniture polish, dark honey and the wood-panelled smoking room of a gentlemen's club. Next are candied honeysuckle and pollen. Next to those soft touches, it also has old rope, damp hessian, polished soft leather, warm soil and fortified wine, in the distance (more Manzanilla than Oloroso, mind). Mouth: mellow and honey-like, it still tickles one's tastebuds with cigar leaves, cigar ashes and the wooden frame of an open fireplace. Next in line is caramelised apricot, honey-glazed caramelised apricot, honey-glazed, overripe quince slices, wood smoke -- rhaaaa! I love it. Wood smoke, coal smoke, even. None of that petrol malarkey; only old-school goodness. Finish: similar here, with several  types of honey on smoked fruit and ash, refined cigar notes, wood panels and caramelised cassiah bark. The second sip brings more fruit, verging on tropical, fresh and enticing (mango, dragon fruit, snakehead fruit). Amazeboulanger! It has an indistinct-but-long-lasting bitter, woody tone that I will use as an excuse to avoid top score, but that might very well be this dram's only flaw. I remember finding it extravagant, when it was released, both in terms of price and presentation (the copper used to ornate the case and the bottle supposedly come from the dismantled old stills), but after tasting it, I can see why they gave it such special treatment. It is special alright! 9/10 (Thanks for the dram, JS)

Family portrait: Ledaig 6yo d.1972, Tobermory 42yo
and Ledaig 42yo d.1972 in front of the distillery