2 October 2012

01/10/2012 October outturn preview tasting at The Don

Another preview tasting, which is always something to look forward to. This time, at The Don, a French restaurant in the City, favourite place of a JJG ("Je The Don toutes mes differences / Tous mes defauts qui sont autant de chances"). I was there a little early and the street was windy, so I went in ahead of schedule. First in too, ha!
As a reminder, the concept is to get a little taste of the new bottlings over a limited period of time (a couple of hours). With that in mind, notes are sometimes thin.

7.78 20yo 1992/2012 French patisserie in a bluebell wood (53.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 293b): 7.76 was well to my taste. What will this give? Nose: pine tree forest, moist soil, faint, red wine (not knowing anything about that, I cannot comment too much). Mouth: wine-marinated chestnut. Finish: there are definitely nuts, here (macadamia?) as well as some vanilla. 7/10

Pouring liquid gold
64.39 23yo 1988 Fruits in a toolbox (50.2, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 148b): bottlings from that distillery are usually my bag, baby. This is by far the oldest I have seen, though. Nose: strawberry protein shake (the bar tender), a lot woodier than all other expressions I have had, varnish, wood workshop and a bit of hot candlewax. JS reckons Chinese-tea-room pineapple cake -- not yet sure what that is. Mouth: round and mellow, as usually. Finish: a very fruity flash (strawberry and passion fruit), then more protein shake. We joke about the bar guy's apparent expertise in the protein shake department. The finish saves this one, as the fruitiness is not pronounced enough or too chemical to make it an all-round winner. 7/10

48.35 8yo 2003 Let the summer arrive! (62.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, First-Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 230b): nose: honeysuckle, bubblegum and a very distant dunnage warehouse smell. Sawdust, after a while. Mouth: peppery (white and pink, according to my pepper consultant). Finish: a hint of pepper again, some vanilla, and a touch of lichen, all well balanced.

30.72 11yo 2001/2012 Take a break and have a... (57.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Port Pipe, 752b): a whisky fully matured in a Port cask? That is usually not something I fall for. Nose: animal skin, liqueur, sweetened wine, vegetable broth (green beans in particular). Mouth: liqueur, syrup. Finish: some more sweetness, cough syrup, corn syrup. Not my thing, though I cannot say it is bad either.

76.92 26yo 1986/2012 Ticks all the boxes (60.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 196b): nose: medicine cabinet, pill mix, Lance Armstrong's urine sample, then humus, decaying forest floor, soil. Mouth: herbal tea, narrow on the tongue, but mellowish. Finish: surprisingly spicy, with ginger and cardamom. 6/10

35.72 23yo 1988 Vinyl Revival (63.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 257b): nose: some oil, oil lamp. After the first sip, boiled sweets show up, as well as some soap -- not in an overpowering way. Mouth: mocha. Finish: coffee, chewing tobacco. Tamed and under control, which is odd, considering the obscene ABV. Wanted to like this one more, with such a name as Vinyl Revival, but no.

71.36 27yo 1985/2012 Two seasons in a dram (58.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 206b): always intrigued to try a 'burgie. I cannot remember having had one I really liked, so far, but a few have been very interesting (71.34 anyone?) Nose: seems very neutral, then, all of a sudden, a little dunnage warehouse and lots of nuts. The former ends up taking over. Mouth: marmalade, old wood. Finish: more warehouse, cooperage, lichen, idle stacks of wood. Interesting again. Not a seducer at all, but rather good all the same.

73.51 23yo 1989/2012 Mead, sherry & butterscotch (57.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 206b): nose: coffee, leather (did you say 'sherry'?), some Seville orange in the back. After a sip, roasted chicken. Mouth: bitter-sweet, marmalade? Finish: orange-water spiked coffee. Quite nice, though the lack of water and food is starting to affect my perceptions. I get really excited that it moves to roast chicken until I put my glass down and can still smell roast chicken. A quick investigation reveals the table in the room next door had roast chicken served a minute ago. I feel a right plonker, but happily laugh it off with the bar tender.
The selection

66.36 10yo 2002/2012 Milano salami and a tropical fruit kebab (58.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 702b): another outturn, another 66. Many of them, lately, which is weird, considering how tough it was to find anything from that distillery, a few years ago. Nose: leather, leather gloves, leather handbag, leather trousers, leather hat, leather jacket, leather factory -- can you see where this is going? A bit of leather barbecue as well, burnt Apericubes. Mouth: no notes. Finish: smoked meat, laether belts, caramelised (burnt?) pineapple. This is a bit too much for me today. It has also very little to do with the 19 year-old SMoS I tried recently. Heavy sherry with reasonable peat -- maybe something Fixou will enjoy.

3.195 14yo 1997 Cigar smoking dragon (58.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 609b): time to hit the Islay ones, then. Nose: rubber, wellington boots, dead animal skin. Mouth: jammy, with a hint of metal. Who knows if that impression is right, at this point Finish: smoked meat, marinated in pineapple juice. That then makes room for ash and barbecue. This is my favourite of the day, I think.

53.171 21yo 1991/2012 Strangely fascinating (52.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 253b): nose: peat, smoke and some barley. Mouth: sweet and "light", while still lively. Finish: hay, some animal skin, lively again.

29.124 20yo 1991 Pregnancy Tea Mix (56.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 549b): and the last one is... the 29 of the month. Nose: delicate (for a Laphroaig). Mouth: smoke, alcohol, young and fiery. Finish: barley. A decent 29, nothing ground-breaking.

A little disappointed with the selection, this month. None of the whiskies was awful, yet none was a star either, in my opinion. Good times all the same and very glad to have been invited once more... but:

-There was not enough water and the few jugs were often left empty for too long. I think the staff of The Don was in charge of that, but did not do a stellar job.
-Not enough to eat. I fully appreciate this is a free tasting and I am grateful there is something to nibble on at all. However, two plates of cheese bites for 15 people is hugely insufficient. Too little cheese and no crackers with lots of W right at supper time could be dangerous. The catering at previous ones was better. Weird it was so different here as I hear the restaurant's owner is the same as that of the other venues it has taken place at.
-The venue, although nice (a vaulted cellar), was a bit stuffy after a while. Still better than air conditioning, of course. :-)
The mf Don
Socially very rich: those events encourage people talk to each other, exchanging impressions and advice. And naturally, it is always a pleasure to chat with staff and regulars.
PS: 'A teenage Caol Ila is like a teenager wearing his father's tuxedo: trying to look smart. And failing.'

And for those with a little knowledge of French pop culture:
"Partenaire particulier
Chercher partenaire particuliere
Debloquee, pas trop timide
Et une bonne dose de tourbe"

(Yeah, I also think that is enough alcohol for the day.)


  1. 66.36 Mouth No notes? Why to much leather...?


    1. Sorry Fx, after eight drams, with the distraction of chatting with other punters and a full leather workshop in the mouth, I was simply not able to come up with anything sensible for the mouth.
      It was very, very leathery altogether. Much like a heavily-sherried 'dronach can be -- perhaps more so.

  2. I'll try this one next SMWS session, glendronach is, at the moment my favorite sherried whisky, so kind of sherry monster with a touch of peat...sounds good :)