17 January 2019

16/01/2019 One dram

It was fifteen years ago to the day that I bought a bottle of Laphroaig 40yo. I have had it on this day almost every year since. Today, I am somehow not in the mood. It would be a shame to squander it, so I will have something less glorious (on paper, at least).

Glen Spey-Glenlivet 16yo 2001/2018 (54%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 3 x Bourbon Hogsheads, 858b): nose: cereal-y, it has malted milk, cooked swedes, baked-potato skins and mash, before taking on a more wine-y character; red-wine vinegar, shallots, marinated green onions. Later still, watercolour and crushed gherkins, rapeseed oil and peanut shells, as well as chervil. With water, the watercolour is still there, timid, but now, it is joined by orchard fruits, chiefly apples and pears, though plums soon enter the dance too. Mouth: astringent, it has shallots here too, soon matched by watercolour, then crystallised oranges. The alcohol grows bolder, with candied elderberry and tangerines, accompanied by gorse and flowering currants. This palate has quite a bite to it, at 54%, though I struggle to recognise what it is -- not chilli, in any case; raw onion slices, maybe? With water, it feels softer, with plum juice, green-grape juice, augmented with a spoonful of honey thrown in. The texture is now soft and fluffy, beautiful. Finish: it has an initial wood kick that quickly dissipates to leave green leaves, flower-stem sap, sherbet and a gentle lick of sweet fruit (crystallised orange again). It is slightly bitter, in other words. Water helps tame the alcohol and the bitterness in the finish as well, leaving but honey, fruits, mead with only the tiniest amount of plant sap. The watercolour note in the nose grows on me, but it is a rather simple, unpretentious dram, as expected. It improves with water, however. 6/10 (7 with water) (Thanks for the sample, SW)

14 January 2019

12/01/2019 Jas's leaving do at the SMWS

Jas is the latest casualty at the SMWS bar, though she was beaten to it by the manager, who left earlier this month. Never met him during his tenure.
No politics here, however; only whisky. For the occasion, punters can buy a flight of five drams for a set price. Woo.

105.24 25yo d.1992 Such stuff as drams are made on (49%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 215b): nose: liquid nougat, perfume and much fruit (peach, overripe apricot), a dash of nail polish too. It becomes more lime-driven, with perhaps a touch of handwash. Mouth: melted milk chocolate and peach slices, apricot peel... This is very soft, with a small pinch of crushed chilli--no! paprika! Finish: very fruity, it has a hint of cinnamon, cassiah bark, bay leaves, soaked cardamom pods, and still those lovely apricot and peach, as well as a splash of milk-chocolate coulis. Great drop. 8/10

7.212 25yo 1993/2018 Mile-high coconut cream pie (51.3%, SMWS Society Cask, 1st Fill ex-Red Wine Barrique, 246b): nose: flowery, it has gerania (lots, hence the plural form), then it changes to deliver flour and confectionery sugar, augmented with crushed bay leaves. Mouth: super soft, luscious, fluffy, pillow-y, it has apricot doughnuts, jammy muffins and sweetened marmalade. Beau-ti-ful! Finish: the fruity, sugary story continues, soft and sweet, with warm apricot turnover and marmalade on scones, clove and nutmeg. Another pretty one. 8/10

76.59 23yo 1985/2008 Oliver Twist whisky (61.8%, SMWS Society Cask): this is a private bottle, picked from a regular's vast collection to celebrate the occasion. Nose: another very fragrant number, with honeysuckle, forsythia, ivy, viola (that cute, purple garden flower), primrose -- boy! is this flowery. At the back, it has sawdust from the driest shelves, ground to, well, dust. Mouth: a tickling sensation on the tip of the tongue, like a fizzy drink -- a fizzy blackberry drink. Some pepper grows in intensity, never becoming too bold. Finish: long, very fragrant and flowery again, it has honeysuckle and forsythia reminiscent of the nose. This is a great Mortlach, as in: not a meaty one. "Good for Veganuary," says JS. :-) 8/10 (Thanks for the dram, PS)

7.185 27yo d.1990 Sweet, smooth, s'more (58.1%, SMWS Society Cask, Refil ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 150b): more honeysuckle and a walk in a greenhouse (is that tomato stems?), then it opens to reveal snowberry (that is a blast from the past!), gorse, all sorts of bushes and the berries that grow on them. Mouth: it is mellow on the palate, but it has an edge all the same, with green chilli and raw cardamom pods to supplement the flowery notes. Finish: oooh! this is warm. It has lots of flowers (again), a drop of chocolate coulis and honeysuckle sap. Good whisky, but the overall integration is not as successful as 7.212's (same distillery, hence the inevitable comparison). Water makes it unbalanced, more chocolate-y, but not in a good way. 7/10

135.11 13yo 2005/2018 Paddle steaming (57.1%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 309b): bottled for the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Society, this has the modern bottle shape with the old-school label design. I spotted it a few weeks ago; good to try it at last. Also, it is not as if I tried Inchmoan every day, is it? Nose: VINEGAR! This is really difficult. It has the astringency of pickle vinegar and pickled onions on top of the tame leather that is more expected of this make. A few seconds in, the peat becomes more discernible, farm-y, with mud and farm paths, yet it retains that strong, vinegar-y side. Mouth: mellow, round, soft, almost. Until the vinegar catches up and the palate becomes awful for a moment. Soon, however, mud and farm paths come back and solve it all... for now! It is pretty spicy, with mango chutney, nigella seeds and asa foetida. Finish: here, it is an onslaught of peat, dried mud, farm paths, dried wellies. It is not bad, after all, but that vinegar-y nose sure is a turn-off! 5/10

114.3 13yo 1990/2004 (54.5%, SMWS, 643b): you guessed it; this is not at the bar either, but offered by another regular -- Dr. CD. It was bottled many years ago to celebrate the opening of the SMWS Queen Street venue, in Edinburgh. I have wanted to try this for a long time! Nose: flinty leather, lots of flinty leather. It quickly becomes extremely farm-y, with farm paths and tractor tyres, drying mud and ploughed fields. Mouth: it appears soft, until one realises it is full of horsepower. The farm-y notes are perpetuated on the palate and it is sensational. Finish: long, never-ending, with similar farm-driven notes of drying mud, farm paths, diesel and tractor saddle. Simple-ish, perhaps, yet deadly efficient! 8/10 (Thanks for the dram, Dr. CD)

G8.9 29yo 1989/2018 Butter, Scotch and butterscotch (60.1%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 181b): nose: very solvent-like, very cleansing, though it means: 'stripping,' rather than: 'soothing,' in this particular case I fear already that this is a Cambus that will make me regret trying it as soon as the sun rises. Coconut chocolate, very coconut, but strong, white chocolate. I smell enough alcohol in this to strip my nose clean. Mouth: quite bland, almost like neutral spirit, for a bit, at least. The alcohol takes over, with maybe a little coconut. The third sip brings some dark berries that remind me of Invergordon. Although, by that point, my taste buds are anything but fully functional, mind! Finish: almost pure alcohol, with perhaps a drop of plum juice (slivovice), and the most minute coconut touch. I can feel the headache coming (as it turns out, I will be hungover as fuck tomorrow, stripped tongue and all. Thanks, Cambus!) Again, the third sip displays enough berries to keep it mildly interesting (currants and blackberries, dark cherries), but the morning-after effect prevents it from scoring higher. 5/10

One last one.

Lindores Abbey New Make b.2018 (63.5%, OB, B#LAD/PS/2018): nose: pear eau-de-vie (typical, for a new make). This is not my style at all. Nuts, urine and decayed redcurrants. Mouth: more fruity shenanigans, with plums and currants, all a bit shaky and not really integrated. Finish: indistinct fruit here too. This is OK, not quite ripe, in my opinion. 5/10 (Thanks for the dram, Dr. CD)

I manage to make it home intact and have some food. Tomorrow, I will want to put my head in the freezer. Ah, well.
Fare well, Jas! Actually, chances are I will see you on Friday again.

10 January 2019

9/01/2019 One Mortlach

Mortlach 14yo 2003/2017 (55%, Cadenhead Rum Cask, Guyana Rum Cask since 2014, 240b): nose: at first quite shy, it has pear drops, dried pineapple cubes and candied peach slices. Then, a vague woodiness comes along, accompanying rum dryness -- Demerara sugar on old staves. Further, it is stewed carambola, candied kiwi and something green -- could it be angelica? Rum-toft, banana rum, lime peel and pine drops complete the picture. The Beast of Dufftown shows no meat, here, which is good news to me. At a push, dry-cured ham, but so far away I blame suggestion. Suggestion brings me as far as thinly-sliced, cured ham on melon slices. Mouth: wow! The zestiness of lime and pomelo, combined with strong brown sugar... and some horsepower! This is is pungent and acidic, really beautiful, actually! Unripe pineapple, crisp, green apple, lime segments, unripe satsumas, rum ice cream, a pinch of grated ginger, candied ginger. Fruity brandy comes out last, still propelled by the brown sugar. Finish: the sugar subsides somewhat, making room for loads and loads of zesty citrus: lime and pomelo again, green-citrus peel, clementine leaves, bergamot. This one has the warmth of rum and the drying finish of a grappa. It works a treat, though. The second sip brings bold, fruity white wine (Chardonnay). So bold I have to check I have not taken someone else's glass by mistake. Of course, it is slightly stronger than wine. :-) Demerara sugar re-emerges, more timid. White wine, really! 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, RO)