18 August 2014

16/08/2014 Whiskies for puffs

Who have we not yet offended? Races? Check. Religious groups? Check. Men in uniforms? Check. Women of the opposite sex? Check. Ah! Got it! We sort of beat around the sexual orientation bush (ho-ho-ho), but never really addressed it. Or did we? Well, not in a long time. At least not this month. If we did I cannot remember.
The theme was relatively open to interpretation. Anything below 50%, for example, as some (snobs) would not consider it manly enough. Fruity whiskies, since clichés tell us men drink hard booze, while anyone drinking fruit juice is effeminate. You get the picture, hopefully. All that because, when this was planned, the date, in the middle of the summer, suggested high temperatures.



The suspects: adc, mpd, Psycho, ruckus, sonicvince, dom666, JS and myself.


For real, yo!


-Irish Mist Honey Liqueur (35%, OB, ca 2014) (dom666): wow, this is as unmanly as it gets. It has all the subtlety of a Liberace outfit too. Nose: super sweet. Honey (no shit, Sherlock), some herbs, genepy, lemon (adc). Mouth: super sweet (again). Close to mead, extremely syrupy and flowery. Finish: this is like drinking cough syrup -- but good cough syrup. Pleasant, though not something to drink litres of. Recipe for a headache, this is. 5/10

Can we start, already?
-The Tyrconnell (40%, OB, ca 2013) (adc): this is a sure shot, a crowd-pleaser, even. Nose: fresh and flowery, full of meadow flowers, in fact. Also gives away herbs and a little touch of very milky chocolate. Mouth: metallic, strangely enough. First time it ever does that to me. A note that I associate with Tullamore more than Cooley. sonicvince finds it medicinal -- he just swallowed a painkiller, however. Verbena is present too. Finish: overripe apples with a drop of peach juice. It impresses me less than usually, yet remains a good whisky. 7/10

vs.

Psycho explains
-Slaney Malt 11yo 2001/2013 (57%, Adelphi Limerick Selection, Refill ex-Bourbon, American Oak Barrel C#9929, 235b) (JS): same distillery, which is why we have them back-to-back. This one is way above the 50% ABV, yet it is so fruity it can hardly be called manly. Nose: tropical fruit, overripe fruit and coffee (sonicvince, clearly becoming nuts). ruckus finds it sparkly in the nose, while I detect some vanilla. sonicvince comes to his senses and admits the so-called coffee is, in fact, hazelnut -- hazelnut paste, actually. The discussion moves to palm oil, since so much of it ends up in hazelnut paste produced by well-known brands. Mouth: peach-stone bitterness, lisomucil (sonicvince and ruckus, clearly off their rockers), fruit juice. Fruit? Citrus, to be clear, and grapefruit, to be precise. Finish: overripe fruit again, tainted by a slight woodiness. Less tropical fruit than previous times (passion fruit was in the foreground), still a great dram. 9/10

Team Glenglassaugh reprazent, yo!
-Inchmurrin 20yo (40%, OB for Spanish market) (me): I cannot remember ever trying an Inchmurrin. Certainly not with this group, in any case. At a mere 40%, this is clearly in theme. Plus, it should be light and fresh. Nose: butter chicken!! Butter caramel, says adc (the round, flat sweets in a Quality Street tin). There is also a whiff of nail polish. An oddball. Last year's Croftengea was a full-on roasted chicken, this one is a full-on butter chicken (it is a nice Balti dish, look it up); what are they doing, at Loch Lomond? Mouth: milky, metallic, creamy as a flan (JS), rice pudding (JS, in dessert mode). Finish: lots of metallic notes, now, as well as quince (mpd). It is long and rather pleasant. Good whisky, interesting, yet it will not seduce everyone. 7/10

-Knockando 25yo 1980/2005 (48.3%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, Oak Cask C#1908, 260b) (Psycho): another delicate and effeminate dram, this. We have not had it for a while. Nose: all sorts of flowers, cut pears and quince in a bath of hot milk, augmented with old brandy. Discreet, but oh! so nice. Mouth: milky, with woody tones (pine splinters) and a faint bitterness. Finish: long and fruity (peach), with also wood, vanilla and coconut. Wood-driven whisky, superbly made. Dram of the day for me, I think. 9/10

We move on to the next room for food: a ton of spaghetti al ragú. Marvellous. We all eat way too much. In fact, JS is close to illness. I do not feel too proud myself, but hey! it was worth it. :o)

-Aberfeldy 1999/2014 (46%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice) (ruckus): nose: walnut husk, nuts, polished wood, dried peach, a chesterfield sofa with lacquered, wooden arms. This is rather manly, to some extent. We will drink it anyway! Mouth: powerful and creamy, close to custard in texture. Finish: soft and creamy, with custard, chocolate pudding and a few drops of peach juice, as well as super-dark cocoa beans. I cannot claim huge familiarity with Aberfeldy, but the few I have tried have been very nice indeed. 8/10

-Tomatin 35yo 1978/2013 (44.1%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Hogsheads, 594b) (me): this is low strength, fruity, and there is little of it left. Must share it. Nose: pepper (Psycho), flowers (ruckus), overripe fruit (dom666), marzipan-like -- but not marzipan (ruckus). It is strawberry bubblegum, you fools! A tiny scent of dunnage warehouse, maybe. Mouth: juicy fruit cascade. This is extraordinary. Finish: more juicy fruit, with wood shavings. What is it? A fleeting gasp of passion fruit! And peach pulp. Wunderbar! Had this been a surprise for me, it would likely be my dram of the day. But yeah, I know it quite well. 9/10

-Invergordon 37yo 1972/2009 (46.6%, Càrn Mòr Celebration of the Cask, Bourbon Barrels C#60478+63675, 259b) (JS): a grain is precisely what we need to reset our palates, so the following have a chance to shine, after the Tomatin. Nose: bakery, with burnt caramel in the back. Mouth: creamy custard and light chocolate mousse. Finish: More bakery goodness, with a dash of that typical blackcurrant. Wonderful grain, this. 8/10

-Balblair 1989 3rd release (46%, OB, ex-Bourbon Barrels) (sonicvince): another light and soft one. Nose: lemon juice, calamantsi. Quite straightforward, but good (provided you like lemon). Mouth: Acidic, as in: milk, peppered with lemon juice. Finish: long, Acidic, slightly drying, with lemon and green wood. Good, this. 8/10

By this point, some see it like this.
Dessert time. No-one is completely up for it, since we are still so full of pasta, but now seems appropriate. It is the usual.

-Glenmorangie 10yo (43%, OB, b. ca 1985) (Psycho): ignore the fact it is also light and soft; this one spells it out for you: 43° GAY LUSSAC. That is as gay as it gets. No matter, this bottle is legendary in our little circle and we are all excited to try it once more.  Nose: interestingly, there is a note of leather and black shoe polish, this time. Plants and flowers, decanting in a gardener's hotchpotch. Mouth: spicy, with black pepper and black cardamom(-osexual). Finish: super dark chocolate, tar, linseed oil and shoe polish. The bottle is half empty; all that air has released the war-ready Highlander in this one. It used to be all light and flowery, but it is no more. This could now ruffle feathers with the bolder Invernessian tripplets, I feel. Dram of the day for adc, yet it is hard to say what part emotion plays in that choice. For me? 8/10

Untranslatable:
dom666, 'J'aimais pas la poule de ma grand'mère. J'aime la poule de ma mère. Mais ma grand'mère cuisinait comme un pied.'

me -Regarde comme elle est fourbe!
JS -Fourbe?
ruckus -C'est un croisement entre 'fou' et 'tourbe'.
me -C'est quelqu'un qui boit trop d'Ardbeg.

Bruichladdich XVII 17yo (46%, OB, ca 2002, 02-8143 2344) (dom666): nose: some sea air, but this one seems mostly spent -- there is barely enough left to fill everyone's glass. Mouth: more robust than the previous drams, this. Fortunately, it still retains some taste, mostly sea spray. Finish: yep, spent. Brine, sea spray and a bit of earth. The level in this one really has been too low for too long. It is mostly evaporated.

sonicvince wants to leg it. ruckus, who also has to be dropped at the station, wants to tag along. I had other plans, which now need rushing.
Firstly, I pour dom666 a Longmorn 1996/2008 (57.9%, BBR for la Maison du Whisky, C#56788), since he claimed earlier this week to never have had a bad Longmorn. He agrees this one is not good at all. And that, dear reader, is why I use it for cooking.
To give it a ridiculously strong opponent and put it out of its misery, we open this at the same time:

I wish I was a fisherman
Tumblin' on the seas
Far away from dry land
And its bitter memories
-Longmorn Centenary 25yo (45%, OB, b.1994): when they see the bottle, the two deserters decide to stay a wee while longer. sonicvince breaks the cork with his traditional daintiness: first time for him -- it had to be that of the most expensive bottle we have bought as a group. Luckily, we manage to fish out the pieces. dom666 happens to have brought shiny new stoppers, one of which is put to immediate good use. Take that, bad luck! Now, where were we? sonicvince and ruckus taste it quickly before making a move. Judging by their giggles, it is probably OK... Nose: PHWOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRR! :-O Banana, peach, grapefruit, pomelo, orange blossom, a touch of cola, marzipan. adc finds it close to the Invergordon, while Psycho finds it Acidic. I find it bloody good indeed. Mouth: fruit juice, all sorts of jams, delicate marmalade, fruity custard, happiness. Finish: long and soft, full of fruit, ... what is this? Green tea? A hint of beeswax too. dom666 finds it astringent. Naturally, with 11 drams in the gob, it is pointless to try and write objective, insightful notes, but wow, just wow! Unbelievable, this. My expectations were high (I dreamt of it the whole night, the previous night) and they were met, maybe exceeded. Exuberant, without ever being tout. It takes a 1964 Bowmore to exceed this level of quality. A moving dram. 10/10

The Cure - Disintegration
Excellent tasting, full of laughs, good food and great whiskies -- including a few good surprises. Shame the weather was too variable to dip into the swimming pool (by the time it became acceptable, we were so full, we would have drowned).

Today is also the day www.whiskogs.com goes down forever, bringing an eight-year adventure to a close. Heartfelt thanks to all who contributed through the years. It was a hard decision to make, but I had to make it. Trying that Longmorn made it less sour.

13 August 2014

12/08/2014 Celebrating my aunt's birthday... without her

Any excuse, right?

-BenRiach 1969 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, b.early 1990s): nose: dust, as in most old bottlings. Underneath it, peach and pink grapefruit. Honeysuckle, acacia honey, wood shavings and wood varnish complete the picture. Were it a little less shy, this nose would be stellar. As it is, it is "only" magnificent. Mouth: despite the low ABV, it strikes a good balance of milky fruit juice and freshly-ground, black pepper. Grapefruit goodness (ie Acidity) whispers in the back as well, which gives this one unexpected depth and complexity. Finish: superb. Simply superb. Black pepper and red chilli (let us face it, though: it is nowhere near naga strength; probably a measly 5000 SHU, at best) support grapefruit rinds, with an additional touch of vanilla custard and peach juice, with floating peach stones (that will be a slight bitterness, then). Exquisite dram, really. 9/10

08/08/2014 Aperitive at the SMWS

Our friends happen to live very close to the Edinburgh members' room. Would it not be insulting not to go? I agree.

Snap it up
-35.122 12yo 2001 (57.3%, SMWS Society Cask, first-fill ex-Bourbon barrel, 245b) (JS): we missed this one last week. Nose: citrusy and spicy, as well as pretty woody. Mouth: very, very citrusy -- Acidic, in fact. Finish: feels like cola, now, long and pleasant. 7/10

-59.20 20yo 1981/2002 (58.3%, SMWS Society Cask) (me): good to get to try an old bottle, especially an American bottling from yesteryears, even though I realise later I have already had this one. Nose: wood juice, then coffee and mocha-flavoured chocolate. Later on, custard graces the woody tones. Mouth: flat Fanta (the orange one), blueberry coulis. Amazing, this. Finish: not invading at all, but it has this lingering blueberry coulis aftertaste, which, I must say, does it for me. Like it a lot better than the first time. 8/10 (or is it 9?)

Ooooh! Beer!
-121.73 14yo 1999 (55.6%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 299b) (MD): nose: hay, cut pears and peaches. Mouth: very slightly fizzy, warming and honeyed. Finish: honey, honeysuckle and woody goodness. What a great distillery Arran has become! 8/10

The Old Man of Huy does not drink beer.
But he will try yours from time to time.
-36.73 22yo 1991 (54.7%, SMWS Society Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 255b) with water (DD): nose: ginger beer, haystacks. Mouth: balanced, pleasant and seductive. Almost silky. Finish: cinnamon aplenty, speculoos spice mix with a pinch of toasted coconut shavings. 7/10

-64.52 23yo 1990 (56.1%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 190b) (MD + DD): nose: flavoured custard. With what? Sage and thyme, I would say. Mouth: creamy. reminiscent of the nose (sage and thyme custard, innit), with even a hint of verbena. Finish: long and warming. The sweat from the elbow of a guy who's been pumping iron with one arm. M+D are well into the silly tasting notes (D has been taking pictures of loads of them) and come up with their own. 8/10

-26.93 28yo 1984 (56.3%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill Sherry Butt, 352b) (JS and me): nose waxeeeeeey! Hot candle wax, wooden-floor oil. Some of my co-tasters find a whiff of peat fire, yet it is very subtle. Mouth: chewy fruit (peach gum?), wax, honey, beeswax and a touch of candle wick. Finish: a cavalcade of beeswax, with a fanfare of chewy stone fruit to complement it. 8/10

The Old Man of Huy high-fives you
DD has been claiming for years she hates whisky so much and it distresses her, because she sees there is so much to it, yet it makes her sick. One could not tell by looking at her having a lot of fun, trying them all and liking most of them. Ha!
Gone are the live music and the iPod players from last time. Yay!