20 August 2012

18/08/2012 Hammer to Fall

In search for a theme to suit Fixou's urge for peat, yet that remains open enough for other profiles too, I was reminded fall is only a month away (the reminder came in the form of the theme for the next tasting). Fall whiskies is something we had never done before and is so vague it is very open to interpretation. The 'Hammer' bit would be the peat, and the rest could be whiskies that evoke fall or autumn for one reason or another. In other words, it is but a sorry excuse to not say: "Bring whatever you want."

md called off the day before: he is training for a knitting tournament and banned all day-time drinking before. idealrichard called off on the very morning: he prepared so well he was sick before the tasting.

The suspects: Fixou, JS, myself, A and T, both colleagues of Fixou's.

The menu:
From summer to near-winter.
Imperial 1990/2000 (40%, GMP) (provided by myself): yep, that one is frankly summery, but summer is right before autumn and the weather is really summery. Besides, it is better to start on the gentle tip and the agonising bottle needs to make room. Nose: floral and fruity, but there is not enough in my glass to elaborate, this time. Mouth: vanilla, custard, quite creamy. Finish: quite long, considering it is a mere 40%. Still a cracking dram and a bottle I will probably replace. 7/10

Rosebank 21yo 1990/2011 (53.8%, OB, 5886b) (provided by JS): this one was a bit of a hit each time it was shared. Fixou cannot remember when he last had a Rosebank, therefore is curious to try this one. Nose: a lot more aggressive than the Imperial -- it dawns on me this one is cask strength. Flower stems. Mouth: sugary in a funny way, creamy, peppery and fresh (Fixou). Finish: long and peppery, with more plant juice and a bit of chocolate -- white, according to Fixou: that is not chocolate, but then, what does he know about chocolate? Everyone seems convinced by this one. 8/10

Blair Athol 12yo (43%, OB Flora & Fauna) (provided by myself): I cannot remember when I last tried this distillery. I definitely have, but it was a long time ago and possibly only once. Even this entry-level bottling is exciting, then. Nose: sherry! Some marmalade as well and a little burnt rubber (T wonders why anyone would like to taste rubber in their dram). Mouth: nice and milky. Finish: simple, but nice, with more marmalade and some pepper. Nothing too special, though well-balanced and agreeable enough. 7/10

Cú Dhub (40%, OB) (my bottle): Fixou, T and A have not tried it and I am keen to get rid of my miniature, so there you go. They all agree it is simple and not very good, but does not deserve the slashing some tasters gave it -- it remains drinkable. 5/10

Ardmore 19yo 1992/2011 (49.3%, SD The Single Malts of Scotland, Bourbon Barrel, C#9464, 207b) (provided by Fixou): this one was a revelation at the April tasting, so, even though we have had it, I am thrilled to try it again. Fixou and T have made a huge dent in it; in fact, there is enough for the five of us, not a lot more. Nose: smoke and fruit, a little soot and, much later on, bakery. Mouth: custard, passion fruit pudding, papaya. Acid sweet (Fixou), mango (A), physalis, light bitterness included. Finish: citrus, smoke, extremely well-balanced. Not as impressive as the first time -- it is not a surprise, it comes earlier in the line-up and oxidation probably damaged it. It remains a great dram all the same. 9/10

66.34 9yo 2002 Hornby Double O (58.4%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 644b) (provided by Fixou): nose: leather, sherry, animal skin, tannery. Too much oxidation and the sherry would be too invading. Flat cola with a hint of mocha. Mouth: more cola, smoke and coffee, espresso and ash. Finish: extremely long, with lots of ash and fig (A is getting warmed up and comes up with unusual tasting notes, now). This is ok, though not exactly my thing, especially in this heat.

vs.

66.35 9yo 2002 Savoury Smoke And Spicy Sweetness (58.2%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 696b) (provided by Fixou): had this one when it came out. Nose: quite similar -- leather, skin. If we did not have them back to back, they would pass as the same whisky, which is perhaps logical, as they are from sister casks. Roasted coffee beans. Mouth: seems quieter than .34, rounder. Finish: drier, Longrow's cousin (Fixou), prunes (A). I prefer .34 today, yet both are good without being my thing. 6/10

66.34.5 (blended by everyone in different proportions): nose: a lot more neutral. Mouth: more fruit and less smoke. Finish: very peppery, now. Everyone is enthusiastic about the blending game and all resulting whiskies are different, interestingly enough.

This floats my boat!
Laphroaig 30yo (43%, OB, b. ca 2004) (provided by myself): Ever since I bought this bottle, the cork has been dodgy at best. When I decided to pour myself a glass last winter, the cork stayed in the neck. It becomes high time to empty the bottle before it is spoilt. Upon trying to drill a corkscrew in to remove the stuck cork bit, it falls down the bottle. After dom666's Lagavulin Mission, this is a Laphroaig 30 Cork Finish, then. Nose: flowers (A), fruit, lots of fruit, in fact (kumquat? No idea what that smells like, but I so want to use it as a tasting note), balsamic vinegar from a Michelin-starred restaurant (Fixou), a bit of cork, still. Mouth: strawberries, Turkish delights (aka loukoums). Finish: honey (A), a bit of peat, but less than the previous two, bizarrely. Quite long. This one seems to become better with oxidation. It was such a disappointment when we first tried it at a Laphroaig tasting that I nearly poured it down the sink. Good thing I did not. 9/10

Glendronach 15yo 1995/2011 (56.2%, OB, Pedro Ximénez Sherry Puncheon, C#4681, 725b) (provided by Fixou): nose: amaretto cherry (T), chocolate, burnt rubber, a bit of bandages, Port (T), red Port indeed, cherry (A -- bigarreau, to be precise), some earth in the back. Mouth: liqueur sweet, nut liqueur (A), Frangelico (A), more chocolate. Finish: lots of chocolate, liqueur praline. A heavily sherried Dronach that flows very well indeed at this point in the tasting. Not sure I would like it that much as a starter.

Glenury Royal 29yo 1970/1999 (57%, OB Rare Malts Selection, Oloroso Sherry Casks) (provided by myself): Fixou could not take part in the latest tasting, so I have him try this, as it is autumnal enough and he will probably not have another chance. Nose: Veleda marker (discussion follows on Stabilo and Veleda markers, which is a bit surreal), apricot (A). Mouth: fresh, mineral, spring flowers, gentian, peppery custard (Fixou). Finish: long, agreeable, peppery custard again and bitter almond. Funny to not see any mention of the recurrent orange marmalade impression I had, but well, you cannot be wrong when describing your own sensations, so all good. :-) 9/10 (thanks adc for the sample)

Great fun. In hindsight, it seems odd to have held a rather peaty tasting on the hottest day of the year (pushing 29°C, only beaten the next day, with 32 and terribly humid as well), but it was impossible to know when we planned, a few weeks earlier. The temperature certainly made it different, modified our perceptions and increased the effect of alcohol. None of the drams felt undrinkable under those circumstances, though.
The idea was to play Hammerfall and Queen, yet eventually, we listened to no music at all and it did not feel like something was missing.

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