31 May 2012

30/05/2012 An ambitious aperitive

With adc in town, it feels right to share a few of the latest drams. I tried them all recently, yet under different circumstances. Notes, even brief, seem justified, then.

Glen Mhor 21yo 1976 (43%, TWS Glenkeir Treasures The Gold Selection, 299b): nose is still agreeable, perhaps more herbal than previous times. Mouth: verbena. Finish: more bitter than usually, still on verbena. Quite different from what I remembered, perhaps because it never was the first in line before. Still a great dram, mind. 8/10

Lochside 46yo 1964/2011 (42.1%, TWE, C#8970, 139b): I was actually looking for Cadenhead's recent 30yo, but it was too hard to reach in the cupboard. Nose: what a pleasure again! This is completely ridiculous, with ripe melon, passion fruit, jack fruit, durian, mango... I could go on. There is also a hint of wood, then some vanilla (much later). Mouth: soothing. Not as complex and rich as the rest, perhaps. That is not meant in a bad way. It feels like fruit juice, just not a mix of sixty different kinds of fruit. Finish: as the last couple of times, it seems underwhelming for a fraction of a second, then BAM! Lychee. adc finds it too complex for now and prefers the Glen Mhor. To me, this is the best buy ever. The ping-pong between fruit and vanilla is simply mindblowing. 10/10

G5.5 18yo 1993 Rich, Sweet And Comforting (65.4%, SMWS Society Cask, Hogshead, 243b) (reduced): nose: wood shavings, varnish, pinetree planks, hay, bulrush, buffalo grass (?) -- the kind they put in bottles of Zubrowka vodka. Finish: wood juice to me, with loverly vanilla. Excellent dram and best Invergordon I have had. 9/10

Imperial 1990/2000 (40%, GMP): nose: some herbs, rather bland after the previous debauchery. adc reckons it smells like dust. Mouth: vanilla, dessert rice, custard. Finish: vanilla again. Love that dram, but it is a bit weak in comparison, I suppose. 7/10

Good times.

22 May 2012

21/05/2012 Training session at the SMWS

With MWI in town for a training, we made plans for supper. 'What better place for that than the SMWS,' I ask thee. Bafflingly enough, the very venue the training was taking place at.

4.159 16yo 1995 Beach bonfire party (55.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 241b) (me): Fixou has had a crush on that one last time he visited, so I had to try it. Nose: the alcohol shines through, then it is varnish and a whiff of smoke -- not overpowering. Mouth: sea spray, salt, drying like coastal wind. Finish: not too long, maritime, agreeable with a touch of wood. An honest dram. Nothing too exciting for me, but it is well made. 7/10

64.36 7yo 2004 Marshmallows in a duffle bag (60.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, ex-Bourbon Barrel, 257b) (JS): nose: VANILLA! A lot more floral than the other 64s too. Orange rinds. Mouth: peppery, slightly woody. Finish: Bourbon Creme biscuit, oranges. Probably not as good as the previous 64s, yet quite nice all the same. To think this distillery is overlooked by most...

97.21 (MWI): verdict: 'Wow! Surprising!'

105.19 (MWI): verdict: 'Very different. I think I prefer the more floral style.'

25.62 (MWI): verdict: 'This one is very nice too.'

31.23 23yo 1988 Sugared almonds in a mattress factory (51.7, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 235b) (me): not an often-sighted distillery at the SMWS, this. Apparently not supposed to be here either, as it was never announced as part of an outturn. Probably another one the clever people in charge snatched from a parcel en route to the US or South Africa... Nose: new car seats (combination of fake leather, plastic and foam). My companions jokingly ask what make and I am convinced it is a Seat Ibiza (Chrono?) A few herbs too. Mouth: beet soup and some red fruit (namely: raspberry). Rather sweet, in any case. Finish: brown sugar, cane sugar and some rubber in the distance, after a while. First independent Jura for me, I think, and perhaps the best Jura I have tried so far. 8/10

To accompany the drinks, we had lamburgers (MWI and I), venison Scotch egg an feta/beetroot salad (JS).

MWI walked in a complete novice to the world of single malt. He went home seduced.
Great times, as always.

6 May 2012

04/05/2012 May outturn at the SMWS

A new outturn is always a moment of excitement and anticipation. How many new Laphroaigs, Caol Ilas, Highland Parks, Glen Morays have they got in store, this month? Will the nth bottling of Bowmore be as good as the nth-1? More importantly: what is a bit off the beaten path?
Every month, we try to find out. Seems like we finally managed to pick the right time as well, so that the venue is not too crowded anymore.

128.3 5yo 2006 Chestnut puree and new hiking boots (61.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, ex-Bourbon Barrel, 229b) (me): that's right! Our first Welsh whisky at the Society. Nose: butterscotch, custard, distant pine cones, caramelised cake crust, yellow Arbre Magique -- yeah, that last one is not too great. Mouth: the alcohol is not extremely well integrated, but it is ok. Warm and spicy, with sprinkles of white pepper. Finish: pine needles, pine-tree bark, bit of earth, some vanilla, pine sap. Interesting! More complex than expected from a 5 year-old. It is not blinding, not exceptionally well-balanced, yet original and agreeable (provided one likes pine trees). The balance is much more convincing with water. 7/10

63.27 5yo 2006 Jar Jar Binks in trouble again (62.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, third-fill ex-Sherry Butt, 641b) (JS): here is a distillery that has never impressed. However, on our quest to find a good dram of each, this one has to be sampled. Nose: animal! Did they pour a Clynelish in there? Musky, leathery, with hints of vanilla in the back and colour-paint pots. With water, it evolves towards paint thinner. Mouth: herbal now, Fisherman's Friend. With water, more balanced, with sweets emerging. Finish: invadingly herbal, on medicinal plants and full of bitterness. Again, a better balance is achieved with water: herbs and vanilla work together rather than cause a trainwreck. Another strange 'tauchers. Definitely improves with water, yet it remains a novelty/curiosity. 5/10

105.19 28yo 1983 'O come all ye faithful' (55.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, ex-Sherry Hogshead, 315b) (me): another one of those old Tormore casks. It was so exciting to find the first of the series (105.15) that each new one is a disappointment: either it is good and it seems stupid to have bought the first rather than the new one, or it is not and the first still seems less exclusive -- ah! the terrible paradoxes of collecting. :-) All the same, we cannot not try this one. Nose: moorland, bogs, heather, serenity and a little bit of embers or ash. Mouth: tobacco, baked, red fruit (currant, cherry), cherry-stuffed waffles, blackberry jam. Finish: more of the same -- wilderness and berries. This one is ridiculously good indeed. Terribly well balanced and, dare I say, noble. 9/10

2.81 15yo 1996 Black tea in a greenhouse (59.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, ex-Sherry Butt, 500) (JS): nose: strongish coffee, red wine, rotten grapes. After some time, rubber comes out. Mouth: sweet and full of bakery shenanigans, though retaining a red wine-like drying character. Finish: crème brûlée, apricot tart, shadows of dark cherries. Just on the right side of sherry maturation, this. A little more would make it tumble into rubber territory. As it is, it is excellent. It should not be left to breathe for too long, though: that makes it too rubbery, therefore it loses a point. 7/10

66.35 9yo 2002 Savoury smoke and spicy sweetness (58.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 696b) (me): after the slap in the face Ardmore provided at a recent tasting, this one is another one that cannot be missed (plus it is a rather rare distillery at the SMWS). Nose: smoke, cooked ham, after-shave lotion, drying fishing nets. Mouth: balanced, with nice peat smoke. Finish: smoke, balanced peat, petrol, some very distant red fruit. Quite nice, though it cannot touch TWE's 1992 version, obviously. :-) 6/10

Another fine night with fine drams.