In the midst of a hectic weekend, there was no way I could efficiently and credibly cook for ten. I appointed dom666 to do just that, while Psycho and I took care of dessert, which, with a theme like that, was quite an obvious choice, though cannot be documented online for fear of offending the PC police.
What theme? Looking for something original and suitably offensive (always the mischief, me), I settled for K-Ka-Ca. Before anyone imagines a group of hooded white supremacists (we considered it for a laugh, of course), that is whiskies whose names contain 'K', 'Ka' or 'Ca'.
Having said that, food preparation started long before the guests arrived. With such hard work ahead of us, we decided to have a prequel with off-theme things, so as to still enjoy the later line-up. Well, to be perfectly accurate, Psycho was there the night before, so we started even earlier, but well...
The suspects: Psycho, dom666, adc, JS, myself.
Linlithgow 25yo 1982/2008 (59.2%, SV for LMdW Collectors' Edition, Wine-Treated Butt, C#2201, 388b): nose: not as winey as previously, which is a good thing. A bit of vanilla, some herbs, thatch after rain, cheese crust (Psycho). Mouth: a touch of chilli powder, paprika leeks. Finish: paprika, more herbs (oregano, bay leaves), furniture wax (Psycho). It leaves the tongue very dry and rough. I like it more than before, but it remains my least favourite StM. 6/10
Ben Wyvis 31yo 1968/2000 (51.5%, SV, C#687): nose: woody, varnish. Mouth: round and mellow, still as agreeable. Finish: wood again and dark chocolate, with a hint of orange (Psycho), vanilla and even some coconut (adc). 9/10
Ben Wyvis 31yo 1968/2000 (57%, SV, C#685): nose: woody, with a bit of bacon, Bindenfleisch / Viande des Grisons (Psycho); wider, in any case, with a little smoke and sugar cane in the back. Mouth: woodwork, sawdust, wood glue, varnish, none of which is overpowering. Finish: wax, polished furniture and a bit of chocolate (there will be lots of that today, causing my fellow tasters to recurrently extract the urine) with ginger (?), verbena, wet forest. JS finds both too bitter, while dom666 thinks they are both too discrete to form an opinion. 8/10
The rest of the guests arrive from 12:30 on: ruckus, kruuk2, P, JD + K (yep, she is in theme), Psycho, dom666, adc, JS, myself.
Knappogue 12yo (40%, Terra) (brought by ruckus): nose: flan, lemon, butterscotch (?), custard, cut grass. Mouth: lemony, though more the feel than the taste -- acidic? Finish: custard and vanilla with a whiff of herbs. Wonderful. I reckon this edition is a Bushmills. 8/10
Enter the food (traditional spaghetti Bolognese).
Knappogue 36yo 1951/1987 (40%, Terra) (brought by adc): datz right, we are making history again by tasting one of the oldest Irish whisky ever bottled. This is to be one of the tasting's stars, of course, though the anticipation is perhaps unfounded, as no one has ever tried Tullamore before (and that is Tullamore distillery, that shut in 1954, not Tullamore Dew). Nose: flint, metal, some herbs, pine tree forest before the storm, after a few drops have fallen already, resinous. Mouth: soft and smooth. Finish: mint chocolate, verbena. Great dram, if not the most complex. 8/10
Black Swan (brought by JD): this blended malt was bought in Spain and seems to be pretty much exclusive to that market. Nose: flint again, sheep's skin (adc), herbs -- are we having the same dram over and over? Mouth: smooth and liquorous. Finish: caramel and more herbs. Unpretentious yet very honest dram. A bargain for 14 EUR. kruuk2 jokes that, for a Spanish whisky, it lacks in the final department... Spain won the latest world cup -- gettit? :-)
Glen Breton (brought by kruuk2): another curiosity; this one is Canadian, therefore in theme, and was made famous when the SWA objected to its 'Glen-' name. It is made at Glenora distillery. Nose: marzipan, pink pepper, then plum after a time. Mouth: quite oily, with white pepper. This is nice indeed. Finish: more almond paste, nutmeg, Tiger Balm, green mint (kruuk). Another nice surprise from a dusty shelf.
Knockando 1989/2001 (43%, OB) (brought by Psycho): I do not spend too much time on this, but it as nice as usual. 8/10
Cardhu 12 (40%, OB) (before scandal) (brought by Pat): as most whisky drinkers are aware, Cardhu stopped producing a single malt in 2003. The new product, with similar labels, was a Blended ('Pure') malt. They resumed single malt production in 2006. This is the single malt from before 2003. Nose: wood (cedar, according to adc), lemon detergent. Mouth: aniseed (Pat), mellow, with a slightly sparkly feel. Finish: hint of chocolate. Not blinding, but very decent malt.
Cardhu 12 (40%, OB) (after scandal) (brought by Pat): this is the post-2006 single malt. Nose: more alcohol, herbs and unpleasant flowers. Mouth: some sulphur here; it is thicker, but also more drying. Finish: flat, dry and a rather boring. Not bad, but definitely the weakest of the day. Bottoms-up, it feels like a bland blend: short, flat and uninteresting. Maybe Diageo should have stuck with the blended malt after all, if they could not carry on with their original recipe.
Caperdonich 12yo 1997/2009 (46%, DMG Provenance, Refill Hogshead, C#DMG5569) (brought by moi): nose: full of herbs, with some lemon, not very different from a camomille infusion. Mouth: watery, with some honey and a hint of pepper. Finish: honeysuckle with more herbs (really a herbs day!) 7/10
I believe this is where we cut the cake (and eat it).
Highland Park 12yo Batch 3 (46%, Adelphi Fascadale Highland, b.2012, Refill Bourbon Casks, 1152b) (brought by Pat): nose: Tiger Balm (that is a warming ointment, by the way), lightly medicinial. Mouth: quite smokey, though not to the levels Highland Park usually reaches. Finish: herbal with a bit of smoke, then white pepper. This is more akin to last week's Highland park than the typical house style. It seems less peaty. Decent.
Cameronbridge 25yo 1979/2005 (59.9%, DT Rare Auld, C#3523, 194b) (brought by myself): nose: sugar, wood, varnish, so nice, this. Ginger bread, cake, loverly. Marzipan. Mouth: coating, varnishing. Finish: wood juice, innit. Verbena? There is a distinct taste I cannot place. Herb? Chewing gum? It used to be a bit of a curiosity, but nowadays, every grain we try gets a round of applause, even from those who have never had a grain before. We seem to be turning into grain heads. Now there is an idea for an epic tasting... :-) 8/10
Another cake, left over from yesterday makes a quick appearance.
Nikka Coffey Grain 1992 No. 19 (63%, OB) (brought by dom666): nose: varnish, lacquer. Mouth: dessicant. Too much for me, actually -- at 63%, this is also the highest ABV today. Finish: very hot. Peppery, grassy. Nice one, though not as much so as the Cameronbridge.
Bowmore 16yo 1996/2012 (46%, Cárn Mòr, ex-Sherry Butt, 844b) (brought by Pat, who is in generous mode, today): this one is from Cárn Mòr -- the first bottling we have had from that collection or bottler. Nose: switching gears on the peat level, with a very little bit of white fruit. Mouth: it has the texture of a light fruit juice (no pulp). Finish: smoke, smoke and unripe white fruit (apple, grape, white peach). A bit of a disappointment, actually. We will need to try it again under different circumstances.
Caol Ila 25yo (43%, OB, b. ca 2010) (brought by Psycho): nose: less peaty than the Bowmore, bizarrely enough. Hay, summer heat. Mouth: mellow, oily, slightly peppery, with some honeysuckle. Finish: peat smoke at last, some barley, which is unexpected from a 25 year-old. Quite like this one. 8/10
Exquisite tasting once again. So nice and refreshing to see we mostly manage to dodge the widespread snobbery by rating cheap and common bottlings rather highly. Well, the highest-rated dram today was also the most expensive, but it was not unanimous at all, as shown by the list below.
Some geeky conversations about phones and music apps (JD to ruckus, 'Your music? On MY Google Music? I don't think so!' :-) ), impressions about Scotland, mountain biking, climbing the Old Man of Hoy, GPS devices and silly nonsense -- we banned sterile political discussions.
Pity we had to disband on the early side to catch the last train home. The few hours were loaded with quality, though.
Dram of the day by suspect:
K: Knappogue 12.
P: Knappogue 1951 and Cameronbridge.
kruuk2: Knappogue 1951 and Cardhu before scandal.
ruckus: Cameronbridge and Knockando.
adc: both Knappogues.
myself: Knappogue 1951.