21 August 2016

14/08/2016 Moses and the Ten Commandements or Brexit or Pretzels

Yes, you read the theme correctly. dom666 is hosting this one and he was so ambitious he did not even find anything to fit into his own theme! The second part of which, I should add, is there because he thought the first would perhaps be too difficult. Ahem. :-)

The suspects: MQ, PSc, ruckus, dom666, sonicvince, JS, Psycho and yours, truly.

The theoretical start time is around noon. JS and I make it there a little before 14:00, only to be shouted at from the balcony -- they are thirsty.

"Hurry up! We're thirsty!"

Glengoyne 17yo (unknown ABV, OB, ceramic decanter, b.1990s) (Psycho): Glen is an English Brexiter and cannot wait for the UK to be goyne. Ahem. Nose: candied apples, strawberries and a distant fire. Mouth: spicy caramel, Americano coffee, chocolate coulis, flat cola. Finish: more lovely chocolate-y coffee, strawberry and candied apple roundness. I like this one every time Psycho pours it; today is no exception. 9/10

Caperdonich 11yo d.1968 (70° PROOF, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, b. ca 1979) (JS): as one can see from the label, "onnoisseur's " is parting the red C's. Note the use of an apostrophe in "Connoisseur's." It was dropped on all subsequent labels (brown, old map, new map, new new map). Just like Moses. *cough* Nose: wonderful, full of dust and antique furniture, ground fruit stones, pepper and paprika. Mouth: balanced as fook, with honey, furniture polish, wax, honey and a hefty dose of spices -- whoa! Finish: a pinch of herbs join the notes from the palate: polish, antique furniture, dust and black cumin. This is monumental. 9/10

Come to think of it, Hoi is also parting the red C's

Glencraig 31yo 1974/2005 (40%, DT Rarest of the Rare, C#2930, 262b) (dom666): still waiting to hear how this is in theme. Nose: lemon, lime, sage. Mouth: lemony honey. Finish: this is fresh and lively, full of lemon, with a touch of custard and choux dough. Despite my poor notes, this is as good as I remembered it. 9/10

Glenmorangie 10yo (43° G.L., OB, b. ca 1985) (Psycho): 10yo, 10 commandments, one year of age per commandment. There you go. Nose: wide, with a toffee touch, a pinch of earth, and a lot of lemon. Mouth: peppery toffee, paprika, milk chocolate, soy milk, even. Finish: more peppery toffee and caramel. This is soft and beautiful. 8/10

Enters food: chervil soup, followed by baked salmon with steamed broccoli and a good potato salad. Yum.

Scapa 1988/1999 (40%, GMP) (PS): Brexiters want to eScapa the EU. *snif* Nose: squashed strawberries, leather and crisp apple in the back. Mouth: velvety and soft, it has almond milk and vanilla milk. Finish: long and assertive, full of vanilla, caramel, butterscotch. Another one we all love revisiting. 9/10

Teeling Whiskey (46%, OB, L14 009 281 08/01, b.10/2014) (MQ): the group shoehorns this into the theme thus: Darteeling, favourite jea of the Brexiters. Ahem. Nose: wood varnish, tinned pineapple, hints of pear. It is not very expressive, yet it is nice. Mouth: warmer, lemon-y, zesty, almost flinty. Finish: butterscotch, chili custard, shaved coconut. This one is simple and very pleasant. 8/10

Springbank 1965/2002 (46%, Lombard Jewels of Scotland) (me): Moses led the Jew(el)s out of Egypt. *cough* Nose: we shift gears -- a gentlemen's club with floor-to-ceiling wood panels and old bookshelves (PSc). Dunnage warehouses, star fruit, decaying cherries. This is as complex as it is noble. Mouth: a mouthful of pebbles, dunnage warehouse tones and old staves. Finish: long, powerful, distinguished; this is superlative and requires no further comment for now. I will try it on its own to give it the time it deserves. 10/10

The Ardmore Legacy (40%, OB, L521657A 14:35) (MQ): no connection to the theme. Nose: farmyard and pickle vinegar, burnt custard. Mouth: oily, with honey, wet burnt wood. Finish: distant burnt wood, oily acacia honey that leaves a viscous mouth. Nice, though it certainly suffers from its place in the sequence. 6/10

Bowmore 16yo 1996/2012 (46%, Càrn Mòr Strictly Limited, Sherry Butt, 844b) (PSc): PSc argues that, given another chance, a Brexiter Càrn vote not Mòr to leave. *coughs furiously* Nose: delicate smoke, dark fruit (blackberry and elderberry) and a farm-y note too. Mouth: velvety and soft, with a veil of barbecue smoke. Finish: long and wide, with a farmyard impression again. This is nice, if not very noteworthy. 6/10

Dessert is served: rice tart and griddled cherry tart from Tihon, a bakery in Huy.

Knockando 18yo d.1994 (43%, OB, Sherry Casks) (sonicvince): after receiving the law tablets, Moses took his staff and knocked on them for all to do what was written on them. *Achoo* Nose: chocolate milk and gentle sulfur. Mouth: mellow, with soft caramel and heavily-diluted chocolate milk. Finish: butterscotch and milk chocolate. This does not impress me much, today. I blame the sequence. 6/10

Longmorn 19yo 1992/2012 (46%, Acorn Friends of Oak, 120b) (sonicvince): Moses's staff was made out of oak. Sinking to new lows, we are. :o) Nose: powerful, fruity, full of bakery goodness and mango. Mouth: deliciously fruity (mango) and velvety, with a hint of sage, interestingly enough. Finish: big, long, fruity, wonderful. Love it. 9/10

The Arran The Bothy b.2015 (55.7%, OB, Quarter Cask, B#1, 12000b) (ruckus): Moses's full name is Mosche Ben Amram -- Ben Arran, for today. Nose: overly herbaceous (oregano, marjoram), it has banana (sonicvince), plantain (JS), vanilla (sonicvince). Mouth: a metallic bitterness to it, balanced out by coconut shavings. Finish: long, herbaceous. This is very nice. 8/10

Others have this back to back with the Arran Machrie Moor. We had it not too long ago and we are behind schedule; I skip it.

Gerston b.2013 (46%, The Lost Distillery Company, B#1) (me): Moses was the main character in The Ten Commandments by Cecil B. De Millburn (yes, I almost did). He was played by Charlton Gerston. Boom. I am excited to try this. It is obviously not an original Gerston (the distillery closed forever in 1882), but a reproduction, based on historical documents. In other words, it puts a rare name on a blended malt to make it more desirable, yet I find it both intriguing and original. Nose: gentle smoke, barley; not hugely assertive or complex, but agreeable. Mouth: sparkly, lively, with lashes of sweet soda. Finish: the peat is a lot louder here, with even coal smoke and dried herbs on a campfire. Good show. 7/10

Nice t-shirts too

Next up is PSc's Caol Ila 18yo, but I skip it too. Now late for the journey home.

Great tasting. Lots of silly nonsense to boot.

26 July 2016

23/07/2016 The pleasure of sharing

Yes, the theme is lame. I knew what I wanted to pour and struggled to come up with a decent theme to support that. The closest I could find was distilleries that closed during the post-Victorian crash. Slightly restrictive, innit.

The weather forecast is good, which means we will likely end up on the terrace again (yay).

The suspects: EG, MR, OB, MS, JS, BA and tOMoH. XR unfortunately calls off on the day -- I reckon he partied too much last night.

Dram 1 (MS, served blind): "I have been irritated that it is so difficult to impress tOMoH," says MS. He then bought an atlas, read a lot and went for this. Nose: eau-de-vie (apple? Is this Calvados? "No, it is Scotch," we are told), mincemeat vodka (BA tries to impress us with his brewing skills already), "Tamnavulin," ventures EG. I reckon it is young, less than 10, while EG thinks it is 22. It has delicate garden flowers and bushes, as well as freshly cut grass. Mouth: barley sugar, lots of dried herbs on the barbecue (oregano, rosemary, sage). The meat notes from the barbecue are tame. Finish: a soft veil of smoke presents itself, with dried herbs thrown into a campfire, and still that sweet eau-de-vie quality to it -- the perfect apéritif, lovely. We are told it is a closed distillery within close distance of MS's favourite distillery. A dead give-away. It is: Imperial 20yo 1995/2016 (46%, SV The Un-Chill Filtered Collection, Hogsheads, C#50248+50249, 428b) 7/10

Dram 2 (tOMoH, served blind): nose: marzipan, ground almonds, hints of exotic fruits behind (a fruit crumble quality, really). Mounds of dust and yes, tons of ground almonds. Nice nose, this, as I expected. Mouth: low ABV, this. It might have evaporated too much, because it seems lower than the 43% advertised by the label. Soft, delicate, velvety, though it is not thick at all. More ground almond and gentle fruit -- nothing exuberant. Finish: beautiful, with many distant fruits and the bitterness of coffee (BA), yet without any of the coffee's nastiness. This is below 43%, probably and also not one of the legendary expressions from this distillery, yet it is easily quaffable. Someone guesses it is a Springbank. It is in fact: Lochside 22yo 1966/1989 (43%, SV, C#7253-7255, 800b) 7/10

Tamdhu 13yo 1990/2003 (43%, William Maxwell Dun Bheaghan, Sherry Finish, C#9041-9043, 2868b) (me): I selected this specially for MS, who tried a Tamdhu 1961 GMP Rare Old recently and found it to be the worst drop he ever had. Hoping this is a better experience for him. Nose: concentrated soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce. Eventually, pickled onions -- big, red, pickled onions. Mouth: different to the nose, it is now barbecue sauce and elderberry, sweet and viscous. Finish: more barbecue sauce, cola, sweet syrup, very sweet. 6/10

Enter radishes and sausages -- Provençale and pheasant). I manage to injure myself while cutting the sausage, so dry it now is. Great taste, though.

Longmorn 29yo 1985/2014 (51.9%, Hunter Laing Old & Rare a Platinum Selection for K&L Wines, 251b) (JS): nose: an ample smell of fresh herbs and citrus peels and a soft, burnt wood note. Mouth: we are shifting gears in terms of strength; this is fresh, creamy, with blueberries. Finish: long, generous, with much herbs again, vinegar, and a touch of unripe fruit. This is remarkably close to the SMWS bottlings from 2011--2013. I like it. 8/10

The label reads: "Ay, Caramba!"
But in Japanese

Tomatin 38yo 1976/2015 (47%, OB for Whisky Hoop, C#31, 190b): a rarity if we ever saw one. A Tomatin that age is not exactly a frequent sight, but this one is a Japanese bottling to boot. OB and I were unknowingly bidding against each other for it recently. It went too high for me, not knowing what it tasted like. He won it. When he told me, I was glad it was in the family, so to speak. I am behind, due to my taking notes; the others detect wood, lots of it, not to a point it is unpleasant, but it is certainly not what they hoped for. Let us see. Nose: decaying fruit, tropical, red and juicy, runny, even. This is wonderful and more complex than I will be able to make it read. It opens up to unleash more and more fruit (mango, peach), without ever completely getting rid of the noble wood or old furniture touch that is typical of whiskies of that age. Mouth: perfect balance, which is not so much a surprise -- I have always thought the best ABV is between 40 and 50% when it is achieved naturally (not watered down). Red fruit, pepper and tropical fruit -- phwoar! Complex and marvellous. Finish: banana milk, almond-flavoured soy milk, a drop-kick of tropical fruit. Challenging and luscious at the same time. I am upset that I lost this at auction (the chances of finding it again are slim), happy that it went to someone kind enough to share it. 9/10

BA is concerned that his whisky will underperform after the previous one. I say we need a drop of grain to reset the palates. Amusingly enough, MS's music selection is currently on Far East Movement - Like A G6. The grain I pour to cleanse the gobs is Port Dundas 23yo Vom Fass. Port Dundas bears SMWS code G6. Ha! Geeks. :-)

Potters 26yo b.2016 (58.3%, Cadenhead's World Whiskies, Bourbon Barrel, 204b) (BA): quite excited to try this: it seems to fly off the shelf on a regular basis. What is the hype about? Nose: nail varnish, through and through. This is strong and seems rather simple -- a simplicity I like a lot! Grain goodness, innit. With water, nail polish becomes even more pronounced, if that was even possible. Mouth: warming, eh? This is really a grain (made with Indian corn, the label tells us), with woody wumdrops, wood stain, turpentine, that sort of things. Not complex at all, but I like it. Water turns it into a carpenter's workshop. Finish: hot, full of popcorn and wood varnish. Water does not alter the finish at all. This will never become legendary, yet it is perfectly appropriate at this stage. 7/10

We talk about keytars (keyboards worn and "played" as a guitar -- a typically 1980s feature, for our young readers.

This. Rocks.

MS -It's crazy, it makes no sense, but it looks so cool. That someone came up with the idea to play a keyboard that way is genius.
MR -I play the keyboard and a keytar is so uncomfortable.
MS -That's the difference between the Devo entrepreneurship and you or I.

41.74 12yo d.2003 All the fun of the fair (59.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 114b) (MS): nose: candy floss, pastries and herbs, nail varnish -- this is rather grainy, actually. Marzipan, then custard. It evolves quite a bit on the nose. Mouth: hot, with burning pastry and herbs again. Finish: hot and... FRUITY! Cherries, strawberries. My notes become less systematic. Must be the temperature. 7/10

Clynelish 1997/2013 2nd Release (48%, Wilson & Morgan Barrel Selection, Marsala Finish) (EG): nose: meaty and leathery, with hazelnut liqueur (OB), the smell of a herd of cows, then it develops to unveil ashes and barbecue. Mouth: dirty in a mechanic's-workshop sort of way -- oil, ash and metallic tools. Finish: warming (not quite the best day to drink this), with cured meat, spent wick and candle wax. A mix of sweet and burnt. Good Clynelish. 7/10

Caol Ila 32yo 1984/2016 (52.9%, Cadenhead's Small Batch, Bourbon Hogshead, 234b) (OB): OB brought the goods, today! Nose: a deluge of refined peat, struck matches, oysters, fishing nets, tractor tyres and clams from the fish market. Is this coastal and farmy? Mouth: similar to the nose, with a lot of horsepower and a lovely balance. It is, again, a mix of farmy and coastal notes, with the latter slightly more prominent. Water sweetens it dramatically, to a point candy floss comes up. Finish: malted barley and smoke, wonderful, refined and delicate, like an old Caol Ila should be. 8/10

Islay Malt 10yo 1988/1999 (56.7%, GMP for GDA Milan, II/BE) (EG): only the Truffle Pig™ could come up with a bottling like this. Nose: burnt flour and burnt flowers. To put it simply, this is a bouquet of flowers at a barbecue. It also has merbromin. Mouth: barbecued grapefruit, little else. Finish: more barbecued grapefruit. This is superbly balanced. Everyone reckons it is a Bowmore. 8/10

MR has kept her bottle wrapped too, so we can try it blind. We try to guess the distillery before she pours. I take the biscuit. MR tells how she got the bottle as a leaving present when she recently changed jobs.


122.19 16yo Oranges in a coal cellar (50.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 79b) (MR): one sniff and BA knows who offered MR the bottle: it has Dr CD written all over it. Nose: sulphur and freshly-tanned leather. Mouth: soft at first, the leather quickly comes back, crushing everything in its path. Alongside it, we find a minty lamb pasty -- yum! Finish: hints of chocolate. I forget to take more notes. Long day, you see. 7/10

EG makes an escape. He is about to move away from the country, which means this was one of, if not the last tasting for him, at least for a while. A shock and a disappointment. The balance of the group will be different. It is only good bye, though: the whisky world is a tiny one.

We finally venture onto the terrace, now the scorch is mostly behind us. The light breeze is a delight.

Laphroaig 10yo b.2016 (59.2%, OB, B#008, LL0024/LL0025) (BA): nose: bacon, malted barley, honey, honey-coated puffed rice (Kellogg's Smacks, in other words). There is also a note of herbs -- tarragon? Mouth: powerful, bacon-y, with something else... merbromin? Not so much. Old bandages, perhaps, tincture of iodine. Finish: quite similar, full of barbecued bandages and merbromin, definitely. This is medicinal alright. 7/10

OB goes. He is only 45 minutes late for his concert. MS tells us about his childhood with barnyard animals, namely geese, including a gander named Pinocchio:

"It's ok to grab a goose by the neck and throw it away, because their neck is strong, not fragile."

"I had goose friends as well, but Pinocchio wasn't one of them. I hung out with Pinocchio, but he was a dickhead."

We are amused.

Since it would be rude to send those good people home without a nightcap, I pour more. MS and BA get Cadenhead's Islay Live Cask, JS gets a Glenugie 26yo 1982/2008 DL OMC (which I end up drinking, as she is too tired to carry on), I go for G5.5. Since we were discussing price and quality with MR (namely what a reasonable price is for Bowmore Bicentenary), I give her Bowmore 32yo 1968/2001 OB.

Once all that is finished, I give everyone a Cadenhead's Islay Live Cask with Passõa. They do find it strange, yet of course, they cannot tell me what it is they are drinking. Once revealed, BA insists on doing the same with the Laphroaig 10yo B#008, which works quite well.

People leave one by one, save for MS. We chat away with another dram of his lovely Imperial 20yo. He is about to pour another 41.74 when I stop him. We will finish with a Linlithgow 24yo 1982/2007 (50%, DL The Old Malt Cask 50º, Refill Hogshead, C#DL3560, 303b).

Life is often challenging. Today, it was good.

18 July 2016

17/07/2016 Clearing the shelf #9

Glencraig 16yo d.1968 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, b.1980s): the lomond-still expression from Glenburgie. This always appeals to this curiosity hunter. Nose: ah! those CC brown label. The trademark dust and old books, of course, yet also a fair amount of fruit (strawberries). The red fruit actually becomes pretty loud, blending with marzipan, frangipane, liqueur-filled pralines, then nail varnish, old bandages, dried apricots. A tantalising nose if tOMoH knows one! Mouth: as vibrant as the nose, with liqueur-filled pralines, almond liqueur, dark maraschino cherries and a drop of nail varnish for good measure. The bandages have gone, leaving only fruity goodness behind. It feels powerful, despite the low ABV, which makes for a good balance. Finish: dark chocolate pralines (Neuhaus, innit), filled with cherry liqueur (that would be closer to Mon Chéri, then), chocolate cake, topped with strawberries and maraschino cherries , freshly-applied nail varnish (Diorette 988, for those who know), dried apricots and figs, walnut paste. Excellent Glencraig, this! 9/10

Glenisla 28yo 1977/2006 (48.6%, SV Cask Strength Collection, Hogshead, C#19598, 274b): talking about curiosities... This, as is now well known, is an experimental whisky from Glen Keith. For a very short period of time, they used lightly peated barley and heavily peated water to produce this for blending purposes. Only Signatory ever released Glenisla as a single and it is highly unlikely anyone else ever will. The liquid is generally regarded as horrible -- but what do they know? I have not had this in ten years; let us see how my palate has evolved. Nose: wax and plasticine; this is akin to walking into a candle factory in which all the staff's children are playing with their respective Play-Doh Fun Factories. A hint of delicate smoke, perhaps, very, very far away, decaying melon (cantaloupe), waxy apricots, cake icing (as in: make a sponge cake and cover it in icing completely, Brit-style), crushed fruit stones. Mouth: the plasticine notes are still omnipresent, giving this a most unusual, wacky profile. I like it, though I can understand why they stopped making it. It is not something I would drink all night. Soft and creamy, it has the texture of peach flesh -- if peach were waxier. Greengage? The smoke is slightly more present, albeit very gentle, still. Fruit and wax dominate this dram completely. Finish: LOL. Ever swallowed plasticine? This is it. The smoke is slightly more pronounced than in the mouth, yet the prominent touch is that waxy platicine note from who-knows-where. It ends with heady, flower-scented soap bars. A candle-and-soap shop it is, then. This oscillates between 6 and 7; I will go with the latter for its sheer originality. 7/10

Ben Nevis 19yo 1996/2015 (46%, The Vintage Malt Whisky The Cooper's Choice, American Oak, Port Pipe Finish, C#0703, 245b): Notice how TVMW introduced an apostrophe in the new livery of their flagship range. This one is pink, which scares me. Nose: urgh. Winey, with bad, Belarussian chocolate melted in the sunshine on the back seat of a car (there might be good Belarussian chocolate; I simply have not come across it). This nose incarnates everything I do not like about Port-matured whisky: the fortified wine is way too loud. Mouth: better! This has the texture of chocolate coulis, straight off the pan, as one pours it on pancakes. The taste is in line, with distant, crushed star anisee, chocolate milk, augmented with crushed berries (elderberries and raspberries). Finish: the wine comes back, unfortunately, spoiling the chocolate-y and fruity kick that would otherwise be most agreeable. The nose wrecks this. It is just about saved by the lovely chocolate taste. 6/10 (Thanks Ludo for the sample)

91.20 37yo 1976/2014 The rumbling thunder of contentment (46.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 58b): loved this when it came out. Nose: woah! Satsumas, lemon curd, candied grapefruit. Citrus-y? You can say that again! It does not do much else, today, but it does this very, very well. A hint of strawberry, perhaps? Mouth: gentle and citrus-y, it offers more satsumas, kumquats and a milky texture. Some would class this as a one-trick-pony. I say this one-trick-pony has class. Finish: a little more expressive, here -- it still bears the citrus-y character, yet this time, it also unveils more complexity, with walnut pastry and a pinch of herbs (chives, flat-leaf parsley). Wonderful. (Thanks MR for the sample)