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.