6 March 2018

03/03/2018 March outturn at the SMWS

46.58 24yo d.1992 Living the high life (53.2%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 282b): nose: over-baked cake crust, warm corduroy, a warm (but dry) shower hat, warm hay. Later on, hot lemon tart comes out. Mouth: hot lemon pie, curd, green chilli -- this is hot, actually. Finish: milk chocolate, green chilli and chocolate pudding. Decent. 7/10

5.62 17yo d.2000 Crumbled sweets in a leather satchel (58.8%, SMWS Society Cask, ex-Bourbon Hogshead, finished in 1st-Fill ex-Oloroso Hogshead, 240b): nose: incense, pencil lead, shaved crayons, burnt sandalwood, plasticine, pencil rubber. Mouth: red chilli, Alka Seltzer. This is spritzy and hot, with a pinch of ash, too. Finish: warm, it has hot custard, oregano, crushed thyme and crayons. I like this a lot. 8/10

G4.16 35yo d.1982 Mellifluous contentment (49.8%, SMWS Society Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Sauternes Barrique, 216b): nose: chou dough with sprinkled herbs on top (marjoram, rosemary), rosewater and a metallic whiff, powdered sugar, caramel, then shoe polish. Mouth: soft, gentle and sweet, with a drop of almond milk. Finish: sweet and mellow, with watery custard and coconut yoghurt. 7/10

59.27 20yo 1983/2004 Dry and herbal (54.8%, SMWS Society Cask, 243b): an old thing, not behind the bar. Nose: peppermint, mentholated tobacco, strong and assertive, orange peels. Mouth: soft, orange-y, satsuma-y, even. This has hot paprika too, though not too much of it. Finish: the bitterness of orange pith, the acidity of citrus and the mellowness of warm orange juice. Nice. 7/10 (Thanks, PS)

39.156 9yo d.2008 Fun in the sun (58.5%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 138b): nose: dark chocolate, elderberry truffle. Mouth: almost silent and thin in texture. It has a bit of dark-berry juice. The heat grows over time, with cracked black pepper. Finish: it becomes more assertive in the finish, with elderberry, blackcurrant, bitter, dark chocolate -- and then the heat grows again. 7/10

41.102 13yo d.2004 Kiwi marmalade on a hot cross bun (55.6%, SMWS Society Cask, ex-Oloroso Butt, finished in 1st Fill ex-Red Wine Barrique, 258b): nose: wide nose that displays buccaneered meat and untanned leather, then turns softer and sweeter. Heady wine -- the Oloroso is loud, I find. Mouth: mellow, full of red grapes and elderberry. Liqueur appears -- berry liqueur, of course. Finish: eau-de-vie-marinated meat, lots of heady red wine. This is very interesting, though not something I would choose to drink very often. 6/10

93.81 11yo d.2006 Maple peat-smoke bacon doughnut (58.5%, SMWS Society Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 180b): nose: ah! A non-sherried Glen Scotia, with farm-y characteristics. It has dry hay, dry manure, mud and engine fumes. Mouth: soft, with chocolate coulis, greengage juice, maple syrup. Finish: it gets dirtier, here, with oily rags, engine fumes and maple-smoked bacon. Naked, smoky stuff. Funny that the only official bottling that comes close to this style is the Victoriana. 8/10

2 March 2018

28/02/2018 March outturn at Cadenhead's

Ha! It is happening again! Gone are the standing tastings in the shop; this one is a relaxed sit-down in the tasting room, and everything is tasted blind, in a bid to counter label-buyage. At least, that is the intention. And in proper nosing glasses, no less!

#1 Nose: green grape, strawberry, strawberry stems, then meadow flowers. Mouth: acidic, it has more green grapes and green hazelnut. Finish: milk chocolate, fermented green grapes, dandelion stems. I guess this is the Auchroisk and I am right. Auchroisk 11yo 2006/2018 (46%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 2 x Bourbon Hogsheads, 783b) 7/10

#2 Nose: unripe redcurrants, brambles, bramble sap, squashed cherries, strawberry coulis and milk-chocolate coulis. Mouth: unripe berries, redcurrants, raspberry jam. Finish: raspberry coulis, milk-chocolate coulis, sticky toffee pudding. I venture Benrinnes, but it is Tullibardine 24yo 1993/2018 (43.6%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 2 x Bourbon Hogsheads, 444b) 8/10

#3 Nose: crushed-yellow-flower sap, butter, straight out of the refrigerator, dandelion broth. Mouth: soft, creamy and flowery, with an acidic bite to it. Finish: nutty, grassy and long. Glenrothes? The butter, you see... Dailuaine-Glenlivet 13yo 2004/2018 (46%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 1 x Bourbon Hogshead, 432b) 6/10

#4 Nose: fruity, with unripe lychee and green bramble. Mouth: unripe and not my thing. The second sip is mellower, until the unripe bitterness comes back. Finish: bit of meat and a heavy bitterness -- unripe fruit stem, some mellowness too, but it is mostly bitter. This is the most popular dram tonight, which I cannot understand. Linkwood-Glenlivet 20yo 1997/2018 (53.7%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 2 x Bourbon Hogsheads, 498b) 5/10

#5 Nose: sweet pastry at first, then cured ham, gunpowder and, finally, polished dashboards. Mouth: oily, with a certain nuttiness -- hazelnut oil. Finish: more hazelnut oil on a crisp salad, with a drop of vinegar too. Glen Spey-Glenlivet 22yo 1995/2018 (57.9%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 2 x Bourbon Hogsheads, 438b) 7/10

#6 Nose hazelnut shells, vinegar, unripe greengages and tins of paint. Mouth: rotten plums, crushed hazelnut shells, vinegar. Finish: chalky, dry, with crushed nutshells. Aultmore, perhaps? Teaninich 11yo 2006/2018 (55.2%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 2 x Bourbon Hogsheads, 450b) 6/10

#7 Nose: this is more old-school, with hay and a hint of fruit, leaves and dried banana skins. Mouth: acidic and fruity, with dried banana skins again. Finish: warm porridge and a strong acidity. Creations blend, I imagine. Aultmore-Glenlivet 20yo 1997/2018 (51.8%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 2 x Bourbon Hogsheads, 450b) 7/10

I suck at this game, do I not? No-one else is doing better, mind. And some are even cheating!

#8 Nose: lemon tart, a hint of coffee, varnish, apple turnover. Mouth: coconut yoghurt, custard, lukewarm, sweet and beautiful. Finish: superb coconut-y custard and lemon pie. This must be the Strathclyde. Strathclyde 28yo 1989/2018 (55.8%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 2 x Bourbon Barrels, 390b) 8/10

#9 Nose: red grapes, red-wine vinegar. It opens up to reveal jammy doughnuts. Mouth: lukewarm cherry jam and cranberry compote. Finish: berries, mostly: cranberry, bramble and cherry. No idea what this is, but it is good. Benrinnes 20yo 1997/2008 (54%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 3 x Bourbon Barrels, 408b) 8/10

SW does away with the blind tasting and announces the drams from here on.

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 20yo 1997/2018 (56.2%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 3 x Butts, 1524b): nose: butter, crushed mint leaves, avocado, then a whisper of smoke. Mouth: acidic, melted butter. Finish: green, acidic enough, with crushed mint leaves again. Meh. 6/10

Light Creamy Vanilla 26yo b.2018 (43.8%, Cadenhead Creations, B#8): nose: dunnage warehouse, lichen on staves and raspberry bubblegum. Mouth: soft and fruity, with more raspberry bubblegum. Finish: soft and fruity, it has similar notes. Good drinking whisky, if a bit monotonous. 8/10

SW: "I'd rather stab my eyes with a blunt pen [than drink the next one]."

Ledaig 20yo 1997/2018 (52.8%, Cadenhead Single Cask, 1 x Bourbon Hogshead, 222b): nose: teriyaki sauce, spare-ribs on the barbecue and a whiff of pickled onions. Mouth: hoisin sauce, teriyaki. This is sweet and roasted. Finish: char-grilled spare-ribs, after they were marinated in teriyaki and hoisin sauces. Sweet and smoky alright. 7/10

OF: "It's an Ardbeg that's had a troubled childhood, this."

Good night out. The outturn is also better than I anticipated.

28 February 2018

25/02/2018 The Whisky Show Old & Rare (Day 2 -- Part 2)

A table for thirteen at the Butchershop. I am not hungry at all, but we need to keep the Swissky Mafia company.

...and comfort them for the smallest Coca-Cola bottle in the world

It takes the staff about an hour to bring us the food (I am not hungry and there are thirteen of us; this is not a complaint, but an observation). I have a potato and chive soup, then pork cheeks. The latter especially, is finger-licking good.

Potato and chives soup

Pork cheeks -- how could I resist?


The staff comes back for dessert, though makes it rather clear they would prefer us not to. We are all full, anyhoo. The bill is a difficult exercise, but we manage to complete it successfully. The staff calls us three cabs.
The journey is delayed by tearful good-byes, and the driver is confused as to where we are going. He explains that when several taxis are needed, the first one at the scene gets the longest course -- that is why he is trying to understand where we are going. Distances are similar anyway -- we set off for the hotel.

The driver asks us where we are from, singles out my accent, then insults Belgium's football team (I do not care for football), which I answer with an unintentional insult of my own. JS is nervous that we will end up in a fight, but he is a sweet guy, really.
He asks us if we are here for the sport (I would not have known, but it was England vs. Scotland at the rugby stadium; Scotland won, much to the locals' delight); no, we are here for a whisky festival. He then tells us all sorts of porkies about (made-up) distilleries and whiskies one cannot get on this side of the Atlantic. I am wondering if I misunderstand him, or if he is winding us up. We opt for a stunned, admirative response to his anecdotes, rather than challenge his knowledge of whisky, but really, he would have been hard-pressed to find a worse bunch of people to teach about that subject.
The best has yet to come, though. He asks JS her name and where in the USA she is from and, upon hearing her answer:

Driver: "Here is a little something for you..."

***He sings Elvis Presley***

The six of us are speechless. This cabbie is serenading JS in front of all of us, adding the legendary adjective to this otherwise fantastic weekend. Completely surreal, and on par with last year's last night.

But we are not done, yet. Once back at the hotel, we invade CS's room, JS, the three remaining Swisskies (PG, CD and MD), CS and myself. CD starts pouring. We try everything blind. MV said earlier he wanted to rest.

Glenfarclas 59yo 1953/2013 The Coronation (51.1%, OB for the Queen's Jubilee, C#1669, 60b) (CD): because, really, how else does one top last year's Karuizawa for Nepal? Nose: fresh, with hemp and unripe tomato stems (that is from the official tasting notes -- and it is accurate!) Mouth: bandages, hemp again, fried stuff. Finish: marijuana, hemp and hessian. Amazing dram, if a little one-dimensional. 9/10

Different group, so I pour yesterday's leftovers.

Inchmurrin 20yo (40%, OB imported by T.A.C., b. late 1990s)

Glenesk 1982/1995 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, IE/DBD)


Everyone brace themselves, convinced another guest will complain about the noise (we are laughing generously). I know better, but of course, I have been texting for a while, unnoticed. I open the door for pat gva to join us. He is welcomed by a roaring audience -- although, perhaps, they merely spotted the bottle in his hands. :-)

Chilling in CS's room

Glen Ord 32yo 1975/2008 (46.4%, Monnier Trading, Bourbon Cask, C#9241, 204b) (PG): nose: peppermint and cut pears. Mouth: fiery pepper, sprinkled over a lot of fruits. Finish: soft, mellow, with lots of boiling compote and added pepper. Excellent. 9/10

Beef jamon and a Swiss army knife
You could not make it up

CD plays the Speyside song, which amuses us greatly.

Caol Ila 12yo (43%, OB imported by Zenith) (MD): nose: much more farm-y than I expected from it. Manure and hot sand. Mouth: soft at first, then earth and sand come out, with gentle spices. Finish: long, earthy and coastal, with lots of seashells. 9/10

PG: "Good, but not as good as the Intertrade."
CD: "That Intertrade was in my top 50 Caol Ilas ever."

Bowmore 19yo 1998/2017 (54.3%, OB The Fèis Ìle Collection 2017, First Fill Sherry Puncheon, C#57) (MD): nose: very sherried, with earth, seaweed, cockles and chocolate. Mouth: molasses, lots of ground pepper (CD says capsicum, but he is drunk); this is concentrated. Finish: cigar ash, cigar leaves, chocolate, earth, with a minor coastal influence. The cigar ash is the strongest, followed by chocolate. 7/10

Glen Grant 40yo 1972/2012 (51.6%, Maltbarn, Sherry Cask, 49b) (JS): I take no notes; this still slays. Even after that big Bowmore, it slays.

Talisker d.1957 100° Proof (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, b.1970s) (pat gva): this explains the roaring when pat gva entered the room. Nose: fresh, fruity and peppery. Mouth: punchy, peppery -- very peppery. The power smothers the fruit of the triple distillation; peach is in the background, but shy, so shy. Finish: yep, peppery, smoky, with fruit, lingering in the background. Wonderful, though I prefer it the 70° Proof; it feels more balanced to me. 9/10

We disband around 1:00. What a night!

The following morning is time to bid those we meet at breakfast farewell, collect a bit of recent shopping, then the train to London.