7 February 2020

01/02/2020 Burns' Night 2020 -- Another Brick in the Wall

As every year, it takes a little while for people to arrive, to take the pictures of the bottles and build the line-up -- something the gang lets me do, complaining that I will change it, if they do it. Phillistines. I enroll Gaija to assist.
To ease the waiting, we have a dram of Fettercairn 30yo C. Dully Selection (a full review of which can be found here).

The gang is adc, JS, dom666, kruuk2, sonicvince, MG (after a long hiatus), ruckus, PSc (who joins us late), Psycho, Bishlouk, Gaija (first attendance) and myself. A full house, as it turns out.

As for the theme, the guideline was simple: anything that has bricks, or a wall on the label.

The result, of course, is a wall of whisky

Miyagikyo (43%, OB imported by La Maison du Whisky, H48C) (kruuk2): The distillery's silhouette appears on the box. Nose: soft and fragrant, with herbs and sweetness, a soft touch of liquorice, but mostly minty sweets and lozenges (think: Mentos). Mouth: yep, softly minty, sweet and a tad bitter... and hot. This is not unlike licking rubber, coated in talcum powder. Finish: quite spicy, but extremely well-balanced, with mint, tarragon and βανίλια (look at me, so knowledgeable!) 7/10

The soundtrack:

Psycho joins and disturbs the line-up.

Nibbles are assaulted

dom666: "If anyone is interested in a VAT69 bottled in 1972, I can talk to my GP."
Psycho: "I bet that would cost you a kidney."

Strathisla 12yo b.2011 (43%, OB, LD30551) (Psycho): the distillery is screen-printed on the bottle. Nose: fruity, with apple and horse's hair. Psycho finds Yes cake. I am not so sure about that. Mouth: lively, at 43%, it is fresh, with lots of herbs and green peppercorns. This tickles. Finish: long, fresh, between grassy and lemon-y. Very pleasant. 7/10


Strathisla 35yo (43%, OB for the Bi-centenary of Strathisla Distillery, b.1986) (group): the distillery is drawn on the label. And yes, it is an unfair match. Nose: phwoooaaaaarrrrr! Dunnage warehouse to the Death, precious wood, macerated peach stones -- rhaaa! This nose takes you on a journey and will not let go. Mouth: wonderfully peachy and mellow, with some lichen on staves too. Finish: mellow, but assertive, like a seasoned politician. It is actually a venerable library, covered in wood panels and furnished with leather sofas. I will spend more time with this one day. Already, it is legendary. Poor 12yo never knew what hit it. 10/10

Also, the cork disintegrates...

...which calls for hilarious-if-expert extraction skills

dom666: "Koba, c'était le surnom de Staline."
tOMoH: "Et quand il était en Sibérie et qu'il faisait froid, on l'appelait Koba Caille."
dom666: "En été, c'était Koba Cabana."

Pumpkin soup enters and is devoured.

Glenturret 35yo 1977/2012 (46.2%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams) (JS): the label sports Eilean Donan castle and its loch bridge, which are made of walls. Nose: strawberry bubblegum, yellow fruit (JS), mirabelle plum, apricot and waxy citrus peel (grapefruit). Mouth: oh! meow. Lots of soft, waxy grapefruit, lots of plums, yellow peaches, and a lovely acidity. Finish: it becomes a little woody, here, with a touch of ginger, yet it is also fruity AF. Beautiful. 9/10

ruckus seems impressed

Glenlossie 24yo 1992/2017 (46%, The Ultimate Whisky Company The Ultimate, Hogshead, C#3460, 290b, b#108, L17/58) (ruckus): Van Wees's The Ultimate collection uses the silhouette of a distillery on its labels (Strathisla, of all). This was amusingly bottled on Burns' Night 2017. Nose: hay bales, lemon juice, super-tanned leather, straw. This is summery and warm. Mouth: soft, a little porridge-y, it has more citrus, alongside squashed peach, white peach and cork crumbs. Finish: long, fruity, with peach pulp, pomelo and a minute pinch of Alka Seltzer. Excellent Glenlossie. Is there another kind anyway? 8/10

PSc joins us. Main dish enters.

Haggis and (exploded) vegetarian haggis

Parsnip-potato-and-apple purée with a chestnut topping (not in the picture)

Swede-and-carrot purée

Swede-potato-and-leek bake

Braised sprouts

JS takes her first step in haggis slicing and
finds it to be surprisingly easy to do

The Macallan 12yo (43%, OB, L 369 T) (PSc): another broken cork, another building on the label. Easter Elchies House is on the box, of course, and it is made of walls. This is ruckus's first-ever Macallan, funnily enough. There are worse ones to start with, I would say! According to the back label, this one may have been bottled for the Greek market. Nose: rancio, pipe tobacco, leather saddles, dried prunes, burnt wood. An old-school nose if I know one, and nowhere near more recent Macallans. Mouth: burnt wood here too, dry fortified wine, pipe tobacco and concentrated tamarind paste. Prunes too. Finish: big, prune-y, with wood varnish, prunes and soaked peaches. Woah! I am shocked, but I like this a bit. It perfectly matches the food: it is rather peppery and holds itself together, despite the onslaught of flavours from the haggis. 7/10

50.103 28yo d.1990 Funky nuts and a glass of wine (57.7%, SMWS Society Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 118b) (Gaija): with Leith's The Vaults screen-printed on every modern bottle, the SMWS has an easy link to the theme. This one was distilled the day after Burns' Night 1990 -- I can see a theme, there... Nose: it seems quite high in terms of alcohol content, though jasmine still comes through, powdered sugar. This is very perfume-y, in fact. Later on, it emits some leather (what?) Mouth: dry and peppery, it has quite a lot of spices (red chilli, fresh paprika) and some flowers, carried by an undertone of Turkish delights. Finish: custard, rose petals, black pepper -- phew! it is rather peppery. This one is pretty spicy. It works well in this position of the line-up, yet may fare less well in other circumstances. 8/10

Deanston Virgin Oak (46.3%, OB, Finished in Virgin Oak Casks, P010146,  L5 09:42 13056) (PSc): Deanston Mill on the label was too easy for PSc. Instead, he went for Deanstone, which is what many walls are made of. Oh! and another broken cork. Nose: oats, porridge. Mouth: soft, balanced, with oat milk and vanilla rice pudding. Finish: quite soft, easy and relatively thin, it has cereals in milk. This is not challenging and rather modern, but it is pleasant enough. 7/10


Deanston 19yo 1999/2018 (49.3%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams for the Whisky Fair 2018) (dom666): amusingly, dom666 went for Deanstone too, despite there being a bridge on the label. Nose: much wider that its sibling, it has walnut vinegar, hazelnut shells and, much later, ivy foliage. Mouth: honeyed and rather acidic, with some pine needles. Finish: green chilli spices up pine needles, green hazelnuts, hazelnut vinegar and honey on green leaves. 8/10

Round two

dom666: "I need to change my bed. I have had it for decades. I bought it when I left my parents'. I was thirty-one or thirty-two."
kruuk2: "The Meiji era!"

The soundtrack:

26.134 8yo d.2010 I loved this distillery before it was cool (57.5%, SMWS Society Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 224b) (Gaija): another SMWS showing The Vaults' walls. Nose: candle wax, pencil erasers, crayons, honey, apricot jelly, candied banana slices -- woah! Mouth: lively and honeyed, with prickly pear jelly and fresh figs. This is juicy. Finish: very fruity, it has heaps of yellow plums. 8/10


Clynelish 23yo 1991/2014 (46%, The Ultimate Whisky Company The Ultimate, Hogsheads, C#13213+13214, 507b, b#485, L14/1228) (Bishlouk): another Van Wees bottling with the walls of Strathisla on the label, but there is more: Bishlouk claims that the Islington Green School choir who sang on Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2 had twenty-three children, and this whisky is 23yo. If it is true, it is far fetched. We lap it up. Nose: waxy and fruity too, it also has spent wick, coal and diesel fumes on top. Mouth: lots of soot sprinkled on fresh apricots in wax-sealed nets. Finish: long, waxy and soot-y, with waxy apricots and a bucket of soot. Love it. 8/10

dom666 [talking about Kobe Bryant's recent death]: "They just noted that the helicopter shouldn't have been flying."
Psycho + kruuk2: "Why?"
dom666: "Firstly, because it crashed."

Psycho: "Nothing is more different from a 40yo whisky than a 40yo whisky."
tOMoH: "Very profound."

The first cake enters. It contains
Cambus 30yo 1988/2019 (46.1%, Cadenhead Single Cask, Bourbon Hogshead, 300b)

Psycho [having quoted Heartbreak Ridge]: "You need to watch the classics again."
dom666: "I know my films."
Psycho: "We're talking about another film. With Clint Eastwood."
dom666: "Is he in Back to the Future 2 or 3?"

The next three are served together for no other reason than they are all the same age.

Tomatin 23yo 1994/2018 (47.4%, Cadenhead Sherry Cask, 234b, 17/591) (sonicvince): for Tomatin the Wall, which is as far-fetched as it is funny (and bad, let us face it). No-one but me seems to remember we had this one at last year's Burns' Night, albeit from a different bottle. I liked it, so I am not complaining. As a note, the label says it was bottled in spring 2018. That is certainly when it was released. However, the screen print suggests a 2017 bottling (17/591). Nose: plums, prunes, then overripe cherries and soaked peaches. Further, it is a pinch of soot on fruit that turns almost tropical. Mouth: fruit liqueurs, soaked oranges, a gently dying impression of coal dust and fruits that turn redder and darker -- elderberry, cherry, blackberry. Finish: a nuance of smoke appears to augment the exuberant soaked fruits. This is well warming. 9/10


Imperial 23yo 1990/2013 (57.9%, Langside Distillers Douglas of Drumlanrig for La Boutique du Chemin, Sherry Butt, C#LD10255, 9b) (adc): the box sports Drumlanrig Castle, which is full of walls. And yes, it really is limited to nine bottles. They were re-bottled from an Old & Rare Platinum Selection. Nose: rancio and dunnage warehouse, bubblegum and wet cardboard. Mouth: big, it has cinnamon, ginger, liquorice and bubblegum -- brown Boule Magique. It is balanced, in terms of flavours, but it is spicy. Finish: oomph! Huge, punchy, woody and super-lively. It demands one's attention and, unfortunately, I am trying to do too many things simultaneously to give it that attention. 8/10

I can see your halo


Benrinnes 23yo 1995/2019 (53.5%, Cadenhead Warehouse Tasting, Hogshead) (adc): because the warehouse from the collection is bound to have walls, even though they are not pictured on the label. This one is a souvenir from Campbeltown, of course. Nose: fresh, it is a walk in a pine forest, in pure Benrinnes tradition. Gocce Pino, pine needles, pine cones. Mouth: mild (compared to the Imperial, at least), but still lively. Pine syrup (think the minty, pine-y gel inside a Gocce Pino). A little drying, maybe, yet it works well. Finish: pine-needle turnovers. This pastry-like aspect is unexpected and really, really nice. It is like eating pastry that contains that pine-tree filling and a drop of vanilla custard. An excellent Benrinnes that also displays a minor (and totally forgivable) bitterness. 8/10

tOMoH: "Psycho, another piece of cake?"
Psycho: "No, I'm getting full."
tOMoH: "Really? How?"
Psycho: "I ate after work."
tOMoH: "You finished work and you had food before coming here? What is wrong with you?"

The second cake enters. It contains
Glenburgie-Glenlivet 15yo (54%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 2 x Bourbon Hogsheads, 570b)

adc: "I want to put a piece of cake in the fridge for later."
tOMoH: "There is a third cake..."
kruuk2: "A third one? God exists!"

SP23 -- Never too much!

sonicvince and MG leave. sonicvince is clearly not feeling well and calls it quits.

The soundtrack:

Garnheath 27yo 1972/2000 (59.4%, Signatory Vintage Silent Stills, C#386516, 190b, b#182, 00/81) (tOMoH): the whole Silent Stills range has a distillery on the label -- and that has walls. Nose: toasted bread, mild coffee -- hang on! This is teeming with toasted bread; bread crumbs, biscotte, toast, but also roasted coffee grains and very little bakery scents. Well, toasted bread is bakery, is it not? Mouth: strong, with plenty of toasted bread on the palate too. It turns slightly metallic in the long run. Finish: strangely dusty, with coffee notes, chicory infusion (Ricorée) and toasted bread. It is also hot, at 59.4%. 8/10

I manage to spill coffee everywhere between the kitchen and the dining room, and burn myself in the process. To top it, the coffee is too diluted and has to be discarded -- the jug was probably half full of water to begin with.

Kilkerran 12yo b.2015 (46%, OB, 15/325) (ruckus): first batch of this staple. The bell tower on the label is seen through an opening in a wall, yet it is also made of four walls. Nose: smoked hay. I cannot detect much of the brine and seaspray that define the current batches, on the other hand. Mouth: fresh and more brine-y, here, it retains the hay from the nose. Finish: the smoke is present, with very dry, burnt wood, hot card, a tractor's engine in a dry field and dried earth. This is nice. Something everyone should try at least once. 7/10

Only a few drams left -- phew!

Bruichladdich Scottish Barley b. 2013 (50%, OB The Classic Laddie, P/131474 13/211) (Psycho): brick-le-dick, obviously. Nose: cereal-like, Horlicks, malt, end of summer (Psycho), hay bales, biscotte, soaked biscotte, wheat. Mouth: quite big, it has fruit at first, then dust and dry earth. It becomes a bit drying, but stays balanced. Finish: white wine, dusty earth, squashed barley grains, very softly malted. Nice. 7/10

Highland Park 25yo (48.1%, OB, Sherry Casks, b. ca 2010, L0786A L4) (dom666): the distillery is located in Kirkwall. Nose: gently smokey, it has a heather wildfires and smoked sultanas. Mouth: soft and velvety, it is, again, full of smoked sultanas, accompanied by a pinch of dry earth and prune stones. Finish: long and in line with the rest -- heather smoke, smoked honey, burnt wood and earth. After a moment, boiled sweets come to the fore. 8/10

Another Krik in the Wall

Psycho takes a bow. Just in time...

Bowmore 15yo (43%, OB, Bourbon Barrels + Finished in Oloroso Sherry Casks) (kruuk2): photo-op-expert kruuk2 took inspiration from the Belgian construction fair to produce this Batibouwmore, much to everyone's hilarity. Nose: white-board markers, shoe polish, leather saddles, knäckebrod (Gaija) and a touch of rubber too. The whole is refined, though, with nothing sticking out too much. Little smoke to speak of. Mouth: earthy, almost devoid of smoke too, but the palate has the dryness of coffee -- I imagine an Oloroso maturation. Finish: bicycle tubes and soft smoke at last. This is better than I remembered it (the first batch was a big disappointment for me). 7/10


Bowmore 10yo (55.1%, OB Tempest, First Fill Bourbon Casks, B#IV, 11000b) (sonicvince): thankfully, sonicvince left this behind, that we never seem to get round to trying. He did not give away the connection, so Batibouwmore will do the trick. Nose: much more farm-y than the 15yo, with tractor saddles, muck, burnt poppies and musk. Mouth: warm, with hay bales, scorched earth, straw, horse's hair. It is hot, with a definite wood influence, ginger shavings, dry fields and straw. I can sense some fruit behind the smoke, but it is a farm-y affair, thus far. Finish: wow! Soot, then peaches and mangoes, left in the farmyard, under the summer sun. Another excellent Bowmore. 8/10

PSc and Bishlouk leave.

Gaija, dom666, kruuk2 and ruckus have the usual suspects:
117.3, North British 45yo and Port Charlotte.

117.3 25yo 1988/2013 Hubba-bubba mango and monstera (58.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 199b)

North British 45yo 1963/2009 (50.7%, Signatory Vintage, C#117362+117363+117365, 290b, b#19)
Port Charlotte 14yo 2002/2017 (60.1%, The Creative Whisky Company The Exclusive Malts, Sherry Hogshead, C#1140, 228b)

I finish my dram of Strathisla 35yo, which still slays, even ten hours later. Of course, it is 43%, but that does not diminish its grandeur.

It is 7:00. Record broken. We are also broken. Time for bed.

Drams of the day:
JS, Bishlouk, dom666, kruuk2, Gaija, tOMoH: Strathisla 35yo
adc: Strathisla 12yo
ruckus: Glenturret 35yo
PSc: Imperial 23yo and/or Highland Park 25yo
sonicvince: TBD

It is 7:00 on 02/02/2020. Just as well the date is a palindrome, because my head is back to front, at this hour.

That explains a lot

Third cake is left for tomorrow. God exists indeed. :-)

31 January 2020

30/01/2020 February outturn at Cadenhead's

A small outturn, this time, but a very full house for it.
No samples, this time. A proper bottle of each whisky, and proper pours in proper glasses. Christmas is back again!
On the negative side, no more distillation or bottling dates on the back label, and the number of casks that composed the bottling has also vanish. Finally, we are told the number of bottles now only represents the number of bottles available in the UK. Why?

Fettercairn 12yo b.2019 (51.1%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Casks, 324b)
Nose: limestone and citrus fruit (lemon juice, to be accurate), ivy leaves and -- wait for it -- unopened hyacinth.
Mouth: fruity, mellow, salty and a little acidic.
Finish: light and fruity, it has candied lime and pomelo.
Comment: a very good Fettercairn. 7/10

Thanks for the pic, SW
Glentauchers-Glenlivet 9yo b.2019 (55.1%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 1 x Sherry Cask & 3 x Bourbon Casks, 354b)
Nose: dark chocolate from the word 'go', precious wood, walnut liqueur, dark cherries.
Mouth: soft and gentle in a chocolate-coulis sort of way, but with a touch of chilli powder. "Swiss chocolate," says Cavalier66. Inferior chocolate, then.
Finish: long, chocolate-y and nicely rounded. 7/10

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 18yo b.2019 (51.1%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Casks, 264b)
"It has been a while since we last had a Glenrothes," says everyone, hinting at there being one in virtually every 2019 outturn.
Nose: a buttery one, with porridge and boiled sweets (crystallised oranges), doughnut, and a touch of powdered sugar.
Mouth: soft, buttery, with lemon-and-sage butter.
Finish: pastry, buttery dough, soft pomelo flesh, white peach.
Comment: nice one. 7/10

Ord 11yo b.2019 (56.4%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Casks, 342b)
Nose: sandpaper (I know!), old rags, oily tools and dry straw. There is some old-school funk in this one.
Mouth: quite dry, here too, with straw and oily rags, as well as cardboard.
Finish: dry, drying, with super-dry, crackling leather, dried grape skins.
Comment: OK, but not the most appealing. I find it a bit rough. Others love it. 6/10

Strathclyde 30yo b.2019 (54.5%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Sherry & Bourbon Casks, 360b)
This one spent a year in a Sherry cask, apparently.
Nose: pure grain nose, with blackcurrant turnovers, blueberry pancakes, coconut and cooked ham (what?)
Mouth: Kola cubes, blackcurrant, elderberry, blueberry -- ooh! dear.
Finish: a lash of black liquorice will prevent a higher score, even though it is mostly blackcurrant, blueberry and blackberry.
Comment: Amazing Strathclyde. Probably even better than the 28yo that came out in March 2018. 8/10

William Cadenhead 12yo (46%, Cadenhead, Sherry Casks)
A blend containing Invergordon, Girvan, Benrinnes and Miltonduff. Those were added to the previous vatting, since this is a solera.
Nose: leather and meat, dusty cardboard.
Mouth: chocolate, nuts -- roasted walnuts.
Finish: chocolate in the finish too, augmented with dark cherries.
Comment: very nice. £33. Perfect sipper. 7/10

SW pulls a few rabbits out of his hat. Bits and bobs from open bottles whose ABV have fallen.

Linkwood 17yo d.1978 (55.5%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask)
Nose: earth and brine.
Mouth: brine, mildly acidic, pickled onions.
Finish: long, comforting, but also a bit bitter.
Comment: nice opportunity. 7/10

Convalmore 23yo d.1962 (46%, Cadenhead)
Nose: white wine, gravel, crushed hazelnuts.
Mouth: mellow, slightly ashy, with cheese rind and sweet green grapes.
Finish: big, rancio-ed, it has Virginia tobacco and roasted peaches.
Comment: I like this. 8/10

Dalmore 15yo d.1963 (45.7%, Cadenhead, probably Bourbon Cask)
Nose: bathroom soap, toothpaste and mint.
Mouth: more toothpaste, mint, or even peppermint.
Finish: the wood has taken over, almost splinter-y, with ginger, mint and galangal shavings.
Comment: not bad, but over the hill, in my opinion. 6/10

Despite the low outturn, we finish at the same time as usual. Lots of banter and other socialising.

This one, we do not try