14 April 2015

13/04/2015 April outturn and steak night at the SMWS

It is that time of the month already. MS tags along, though he is not feeling well and leaves us straight after the steaks. He still has time to try 41.64. Again. :-)

JS has had two drams by the time MS and I join her. I eat my steak prior to any dram.

35.128 11yo d.2002 A tropical tango of taste (60.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 239b): nose: fudge and custard, roasted barley, overly-baked bread, then grape juice and a lot of alcohol. Mouth: tickling, with the bitterness of green plants and a sweet-and-sour touch of pomelo juice. Finish: warming, with soda bread and sourdough. Average. 6/10

72.43 10yo d.2004 Bunsen burner and burnt capacitors (59.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill White Wine Hogshead, 262b): nose: very meaty, this. It smells of sherry and wine-marinated meat. Mouth: wine and wine-marinated meat. Not very subtle, nor complex. Finish: dark-chocolate liqueur pralines. The finish is slightly redeeming, yet it is not my weapon of choice.  Water does not change it much. 5/10

73.69 22yo d.1992 Dark side eclipsed by sweet joys (52.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 620b): nose: wood varnish and marinated meat again -- this one is not my thing. Maybe some damp earth too. After a while, it turns to saddle and beef skin. Mouth: varnish, game casserole with too much wine. Finish: more action, at last, with notes of plant sap. It is mostly mulled wine, vermouth and sangria, however. 4/10

46.30 14yo d.2000 Flowers and chocolate for Churchill (58.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 267b): nose: dairy smells (boiling milk, melting butter), the cheap seats of a car parked in the sun, hyacinth leaves. Mouth: bitter. Not pleasant. Finish: long, invading, with a mix of plant juice and lemon detergent. Not my thing. 4/10

50.63 24yo d. 1990 Boozy buccaneers! (58.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 126b): nose: brioche, vanilla-flavoured dough and lots of hot spices. Mouth: warm and herbaceous, almost metallic -- that will be the verbena. Finish: warm and metallic, with notes of verbena. 7/10

123.14 9yo d.2005 Playful spices buzz the mouth (57.4%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 225b): nose: ethereal, with just a drop of flower sap. Mouth: discreet, with notes of flowers and orchard fruit. Finish: it becomes bitter, for a second, then lets orchard fruit emerge -- sweet apples, pears and peaches. This is probably the best 123 we have had at the Society, for the last few years. 7/10

3.206 15yo d.1997 Dark and mysterious (56.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill Sherry Butt, 445b): not sure where this one comes from -- we had 2.239, last month! Nose: gouache. crayons, all sorts of paint thinners and brushes. Farmyard action then starts taking place -- ploughed fields, manure and all. Mouth: rather gentle and balanced, though still big and drying. Lichen and moss. Finish: a cowboy in a ranch, wearing leather chaps. Lots of earth and ash, with a faint splash of raspberry jam. 7/10

7.113 24yo d.1989 'Takes you to another place' (51.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Port Barrique, 147b): this one is not part of the outturn, but we spot it on the shelf and decide to try it all the same. Turns out it is a bottling for Denmark. Nose: perfume, rosewater, orange rinds. Mouth: easygoing, pulpy orange juice. Finish: caramel at first, then waves of fruit radiate, one after the other. Good, this. 8/10

129.6 6yo d.2008 Peated candy (58.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 243b): nose: pungent peat, hay stacks and powerful alcohol. Mouth: diced, dried pineapple, muesli-style, with loads of peat, of course. Finish: peat smoke, dried pineapple cubes and barley. Best Kilchoman in a while, this. "I like that it's not one extreme or the other, it's a marriage. It's like a Loyd Grossman sauce," says JS. 7/10

Not a particularly good day for me. It seemed like the poorest outturn in many months and I was not very available, mentally. The steaks were better cooked than last time, yet I think the Saturday formula suits me better.

13 April 2015

11/04/2015 Unorthodox bottle formats

In a permanent quest for a theme that is original and interesting enough, whilst remaining open enough for everyone to be able to take part, this seems like a good idea. Anything that is not a tall, 70cl, glass bottle will do -- dumpies, half-bottles, minis, decanters, ceramic, you name it.
Despite careful planning, PS and JH call off the day before. Shame, but their loss.
The suspects: MJ, MS, JS and myself.

The menu, minus MJ's contribution, cos he is late

Although relatively new to this game,
MS is a complete geek already
Glenkinchie 12yo (43%, OB, 20cl) (offered by JS): nose: drying hay, roasting pineapple, a drop of apricot juice. MJ says sweet clementine and finds it polite. MS agrees and does not mean it as a compliment. Mouth: apricot juice in which the stone has been left to soak. Finish: mild, with a lingering sweetness, vanilla sugar and honey. Very good, this. Summery, perfect for today and better than in my memories. I suspect no-one will ever write a book about it, but it does what it is supposed to do. 7/10

Glenmorangie Artisan Cask (46%, OB, 50cl flat bottle) (JS): nose: hazelnut oil on doughnut. Raspberries appear in the back of the nose. In fact, it feels like raspberry yoghurt. Exotic fruits show up, eventually: mangos and papayas. Mouth: more raspberry yoghurt. It is sparkly (JS) with a hint of exotic fruit, as well as walnut and lemon sorbet (MS). Finish: sparkly, with raspberry yoghurt and coconut cream. This one has been a favourite since it came out in 2006. It never disappoints. 9/10

Glengoyne 15yo (43%, OB, 5cl) (brought by MJ): nose: notes of dunnage warehouse, yet the dominant smell is red-wine-marinated meat. Coq-au-vin, pigeon casserole or cured venison, with bay leaves in the broth. MS reckons it reeks of a baseball glove left in the front locker. It is surprisingly full of personality, in any case. Water makes it fruity (peach). Mouth: orange juice and coq-au-vin broth. With water: tame marmalade. Finish: mild coffee, latte, chocolate milk. With water, yep, more marmalade and lemon juice. Not entirely my bag (a bit too meaty), but rather interesting. 6/10

Bruichladdich The Organic Scottish Barley (50%, OB, MAR 14, P/132239 14/051, 100cl blue bottle) (MJ): nose: unripe green melon with some leather. The nose oscillates between grassy, cerealy and fruity notes in a pleasant manner. This is muesli. MS detects caramel and grapefruit, JS finds it sweet. Hints of butter, in the back. Mouth: fruit juice-like in texture with some horsepower. Cream. Let us face it: this is a spoonful of muesli again. Finish: weirdly out of sync with the nose and the palate, this delivers barley and smoke, salt and pepper. Water does not change it much. 7/10

Miltonduff 16yo 1998/2014 (52.9%, OB Cask Strength Edition, MD 16 004, 50cl dumpy) (brought by MS): nose: bonded warehouse, lichen on wood, fruit (melon skins) and a discreet scent of varnish. Mouth: pear juice in texture, with pineapple notes, more (green) melon and fiery pepper, alongside barley water. Lovely stuff. Finish: the weak point of this dram, though it remains good. Unripe melon, unripe avocado, chilli, unobtrusive coconut and vanilla. A wonderful CSE. 8/10

Port Dundas 23yo (43%, Vom Fass, b. ca 2013, 70cl square bottle) (brought by myself): nose: nail varnish, mostly. Some paint too. It feels like getting high on paint whilst repainting a wall. Triggered by MJ, MS goes into a childhood recollection about plantains. Coconut and vanilla make a late appearance, in the back, bringing some herbs along (tarragon? Oregano?) Mouth: thin, though creamy enough for the Old Man of Huy. Trademark coconut and vanilla. Finish: pine sap, varnish; it is very woody, of course (it is a grain, after all), but not overly so. A plain good grain, not stellar, but pleasant. 7/10 (Thanks dom666)

Scapa 14yo 2000/2014 (53.9%, OB Cask Strength Edition, SC 14 008, 50cl dumpy) (me): we had this one for Burns' Night and loved it then. Nose: crisp, acidic apples, hints of lichen on stone, peach stone bitterness. Also weird notes of unidentified fruit -- pineapple? Grapefruit? Mouth: warm, slightly peppery, full of fruit (pink grapefruit). Finish: our dear clogged sink (aka decaying fruit), then chilli-sprinkled fruit. Great, bold, complex drams, those CSE, so far. Love this. 9/10

Aberlour 23yo 1989/2013 (54.9%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Hogshead, 522b, 70cl square bottle) (me): MJ insists this one is not in theme, since it is 70cl. He is nitpicking to retaliate for my teasing him other times. Nose: herbs (tarragon, verbena, oregano) with a hint of leather in the back. MS finds it full of personality -- an alternative personality, rather than the usual, modern markers, such as vanilla or coconut. Mouth: slightly warm, with more herbs on warm pudding. Finish: becoming hotter, now, more influenced by the verbena, ie slightly metallic. Not a very easy dram, this, but interesting it is! 8/10

Glasgow Blend (43%, Compass Box, 50cl) (me): the whole theme was some kind of excuse to open this one all along. And I forgot to add it to the lineup. Luckily, I remember on time! Nose: the peat is really obvious, here -- much more so than anticipated. Farmyard, ploughed fields, smoke. Mouth: surprisingly mild (then again, it is merely 43%) with a bit of fruit (apricot juice) and fried bacon. Finish: yup, the peat dominates again, with crisp bacon, earth and some barbecue smoke -- even charcoal (MS, who is very sensitive to peat). This is good, yet a bit straightforward, especially after the last few complex ones. Not sure where else it would have fit in, though. 6/10 (Thanks MJ)

Linlithgow 25yo 1982/2008 (59.2%, SV for LMDW Collectors' Edition, Wine-treated Butt, C#2201, 388b, 70cl decanter) (me): austere to the max, this time, with flint, rosemary, then loads of lemon juice. And a few pears for good measure. Mouth: sparkly, today; it gives me an impression of citric-powder-filled, UFO-shaped sweets from yesteryears. Pears and lemon/lime juice with balls. Fucking balls. Finish: fruit and flint. This is lovely, today. Better than ever before. 8/10

Dailuaine 22yo d.1973 (61.80%, OB Rare Malts Selection, 20cl) (me): MS and JH have a distinct enthusiasm for this distillery, so I thought I would share this with them one last time. JH is not in, which means more for everyone else. :-) Nose: leather, flowers, then I stop taking notes, somehow. Mouth: MS finds it engaging, and, with honey and infusing tea, it is indeed. It is also brimming with Watts! 62%, caramba! Finish: it now becomes more bitter, with a hint of dark chocolate, then full-on, bitter tea. Difficult to put words on it, so complex it is. Will not be able to any longer, since it is now empty, but more notes here. Great drop, though. 8/10

Chilling. Drinking.

MJ leaves to be home by curfew time. It has been a very good and very sunny afternoon, full of great whisky. As a nightcap, we three have a Glenugie C#7. No notes for it -- we all know it is not very good. :o)

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