16 March 2015

15/03/2015 Twenty thousand page views

It happened at some point in February, a month ago. I never took the time to have a celebratory dram.
Yes, Twenty thousand page views is little. I am still happy about it.

Glenglassaugh 26yo 1983/2010 (46%, OB, 1002b): when I visited the distillery, I wanted to try this one again (I had already had it at the Whisky Show). However, I was driving and had already had one. The tour guide kindly poured my share in a miniature bottle, which is the one I am drinking today. Nose: tame quince jelly. Actually, it might be a dusty larder used to store quince jelly jars. Sandalwood and coconut, though both are well under control. Tapenade, overripe green grapes, apricot, sharon (a type of persimmon, in case you are wondering). The fruit is not exuberant, but it is there. There also seems to be something slightly more austere -- dunnage warehouse? Lichen on wood barrels? Fruit juice spilt on granite? Plum liqueur is present, as well as a wonderful flavour of dry earth as it starts to rain. The last thing to come up is a faint whisper of white chocolate. Mouth: initially fresh and acidic, it quickly develops towards tame, noble wood tastes. Fruit in an oak basket. The longer the whisky spends in the mouth, the thicker it seems to become, to a point it feels like pulpy peach nectar (a peppery one, that is) augmented with a few drops of grapefruit juice (it is quite acidic, after all). Finish: peach and pepper are now very distinct. Wood undertones emerge, shy to start with, then become rather powerful, accompanied by fruit stones and grapefruit pips. Very good dram. Perhaps a bit timid and, of course, it pales in comparison with the more recent 40yo (at six or seven times the introduction price). I still think it is better than the 30yo. 8/10

9 March 2015

07/03/2015 March outturn at the SMWS

It feels as though we were here last week. MS is there, quickly becoming a regular. He came with K. JS joins us later -- of course, PS and the usual are there before us (before the staff, for some -- make of that what you will).
PS notes that all the bottlings of this month are from ex-Bourbon casks. No sherry in sight. Some will sing, some will cry.

30.84 34yo d.1984 'To sit by the samovar' (44.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 213b): the most venerable of the lot, it comes recommended. Funnily enough, a shopkeeper tried to sell me a 1970 vintage from the same distillery earlier this week. At 5500$, I had to turn it down. Nose: cider? Cider vinegar, probably. Then it morphs into a broth of infused yellow flowers (forsythia, kerria japonica). A lot more astringent and sharper than the official expressions. With water, the trademark butter ultimately shows up. Mouth: mellow, juicy and syrupy -- pulpy fruit juice. Water makes it more vinegary. Finish: long and persistent, buttery, with apricot flesh, still stuck to the stone (that would be a hint of bitterness, then). Best Glenrothes I have had, I think. 8/10

MS is excited about his whisky app.
It is a slippery slope from here, mate!

55.24 20yo d.1994 Cherry pie moonshine (52.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 189b): paint, acrylic. This turns rich, with polished walnut wood, vintage car dashboards, brandy, buttery corn cobs, as well as baked clay (terra cotta) and even roasted apricot. Mouth: noble, full of walnut flesh, including the associated bitterness. Walnut liqueur and pumpkin soup are present too. Finish: balanced, with touches of wood and avocado oil, before it dies down with dark ale tones. Very nice. Best 55 I have had. 8/10

84.16 13yo d.2001 'A beaker full of the warm south' (56.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 184b): nose: sharp, white wine-like. In fact, it is closer to grappa. Very citrus-y (lemon, yellow grapefruit, lime) with a dash of mint. Flint emerges, alongside Turkish delights. Mouth: warm, citrus-y (chock-full of lime, actually) and sweet. Finish: long and warming, with hot custard and citrus. 7/10

'This is a phone'

5.44 14yo d.2000 Fizzling, sizzling lip-smackingness (59.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 170b): the only vile dram of the lot, according to PS. We know not to listen to his "advice," though. Nose: vermouth, cereal (porridge), vanilla. Mouth: thin and acrid. It feels acidic, though it becomes milder over time. Finish: long and lingering, with vanilla and hay. Not that horrible, but it is indeed less good. 6/10

7.112 11yo d.2003 Gooseberry fool  and biscuits (60.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 202b): nose: βανίλια (look it up) and coconut. This one smells like a grain! Mouth: soft and sweet, with more vanilla and custard. Finish: a bit short and abrupt, with more vanilla and dough. Lovely, if not very complex. Great bang-for-your-buck dram, though. 7/10

Flippin' geeks!

3.239 16yo d.1998 Acrylic paints and petrichor (57.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 134b): MS smells it and embarks on a tirade against all things peated, why they should be made illegal and all. Nose: citrus, though it is hidden behind an onslaught of farmy scents -- cows, milk vessels, butter. MS notes acrylic paint. No shit, Sherlock. Mouth: very acidic. The peat is subtle, if present at all. Lime and grapefruit dominate, with melon in the back seat. Finish: long, invading and full of grapefruit. If this is anything to judge by, I reckon the 1990s are the new 1960s. Something to rejoice at! 8/10

29.159 17yo d.1997 Anyone for cricket? (51.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 280b): again, MS agonises verbosely. Nose: antiseptic on a background of peach, then dry earth. Mouth: again, the peat is more tamed, letting room for the ripe peach action to unfold. Finish: the peat now speaks, with peach added in for good effect. After a while, spent matches and marmalade shine through as well. 7/10

4.203 15yo d.1999 Romantic tales, songs and whispers (55.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 202b): nose: heather, vanilla and green grapes. Mouth: hits a nice balance, with hints of chalk, heather fire and marmalade. Finish: heather-infused marmalade with distant smoke. Lovely. One of the best 4 we have had in a while. 8/10

41.60 25yo d.1988 Fun to chase (49.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 275b): this one is a repeat. Since it is here, we should try it again. Nose: even after all the above, this is super sharp and smells of cow dung, ploughed fields and forsythia. Mouth: a bit indistinct, at this point, though it has citrus, coconut shavings and yellow-flower infusion -- what is not to like? Finish: coconut cream, vanilla. Better than the first time, this. 7/10

Nail brothers!

Good session. Not one blinder, but all good drams. In good company. Win.

23 February 2015

21/02/2015 An afternoon of rarities and oddities at the SMWS

ruckus is visiting. He has wanted to visit the SMWS for a while; time to take him through the ordeal. JS and MS join us later. Of course, PS is on site, as are a handful of other regulars.
Both my camera batteries die on me. No pictures today.

64.55 24yo A sultry soirée (55.8%, SMWS The Tasting Panel's Choice 2014): I ask for a recommendation and am shown this. It was never part of any outturn, I never saw it. Nose: tobacco and faded rose petals. It opens up to reveal sherbet, banana and vanilla. Wood-driven, then, as most of the output of this distillery I have had; I see it as a good thing, though. ruckus finds it akin to cough effervescent tablets. Nail polish makes an appearance at some late stage (burgundy in colour). Mouth: more tobacco, tar and pine planks. Rather acidic... and hot. Finish: Suc des Vosges sweets, lime, pine needles. Good and refreshing, if not the best dram SMWS released in 2014. 7/10

50.60 24yo d.1990 Complex and interest sustaining! (53.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 34b): lowest outturn I have ever seen here. Another one that was not part of any outturn. Nose: caramel (Werther's Original, says ruckus), wood glue and white melon. This one shifts a lot! Freshly cut hay soon comes out, as well as whiffs from a jam cupboard, then apples and jonquils. Apricot shows up too. ruckus reckons it smells like a paedophile grandfather (that would be cigars, old wood and sweets, probably). Mouth: balanced and pleasant, with cigar leaves, bay leaves, honey and a bit of embers heat. Finish: long and beautiful, round, sweet and full, with dried dates and dried figs. Beautiful, this. 8/10

PS shows us a bottle of St. George's Pedro Ximenez (19%, OB, b.2011). An interesting concept: the English Whisky Co. buys full sherry casks because they cannot buy empty ones. To maximise profit avoid wasting the sherry, they cut it with their own new make, bring it down to 19% ABV and sell it as a liqueur.

35.117 17yo d.1996 Cock-a-hoop with happiness (54.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, First-Fill Designer Barrel, 185b): what the deuce is a designer barrel, you ask? A marketing term is probably the right answer. Nose: light and ethereal, with hints of lemon sweets. Mouth: the Whisky Cyclist chooses this precise moment to talk to me, which means I have to swallow quickly. No notes. Finish: yellow flowers. Pleasant, if not revolutionary. 7/10

41.64 30yo d.1984 Sharing, caring loving dram (53.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 210b): shock! Another one out of nowhere. Nose: pine wood, perfume. Mouth: pine again, acidic and incisive. Finish: long and big, with tons of pine stuff (Gocce Pino, to be precise). MS samples it (blind) and is taken. He ranks it close to 41.61, which I think is funny. I find it OK. Good whisky, but not on the same level as 41.61 to me and more expensive. Pity. 7/10

85.26 28yo 1985/2013 Fragrant perfumes and deeper resonances (44.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, First-Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 186b): staff recommendation for JS. Nose: dry earth and coffee. The initial hint of meat vanished quickly. Very perfumey (hence the name, innit). Something from a tuna sandwich, says JS. It appears it is neither the tuna, nor the sandwich, but celery, she says. Water makes this one more leathery. Mouth: warm and comforting, with a quiet fireplace in the background. With water, it becomes fruitier, revealing tame peaches. Finish: wine, yet the dominant notes are dry clay, ash and black-leaf, milky tea. Water, again, makes it fruitier, still adding tame peaches. 7/10

We are invited to PS's secret pad for a couple more.

Linlithgow 25yo 1982/2007 (57.4%, SD The Single Malts of Scotland, Hogshead, C#1872, 85b): nothing at first, yet that void is quickly filled by cigar boxes, then cut pears. With water, it becomes jammier and fruitier, with blood oranges and juicy plums. Mouth: very warm honey, then embers and burning vegetables leaves. With water, blood orange juice, augmented with a few drops of lime juice. Is there a pinch of salt too? Finish: indistinct fruit and flowery soap. Water makes it warmer, strangely enough. 8/10 (thanks PS)

Linkwood 11yo (60.5%, James MacArthur In Celebration 500 Years of Scotch Whisky, Sherry Cask, b.1994): meat, then decaying flowers and rotting mushrooms. Mouth: white wine, gin, even. Finish: powerful and stripping, with paint thinner and stainless steel plates. Interesting experience, though not my favourite whisky. 6/10 (thanks GT)

Superb afternoon, as usually.