16 February 2013

15/02/2013 A few drams at the SMWS

Meeting up with Fixou and a couple of lads at the SMWS for a few drams to kick-start the weekend.

G4.3 30yo 1982 Custard creams and Kentucky staves (54.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 252b) (me): another outturn, another grain... which I have to try -- scientific research only, naturally. This one is advertised as a celebration bottling: it is 30 years old, as the good Society that released it. Nose: some violet, cane sugar, some natural gas and, finally, a whiff of distant coffee, flowers and vanilla. Mouth: warm and comfy, slightly velvety, easy. It then becomes peppery. Finish: long and full of bakery shenanigans, with emerging fruit, after a while. Great, as usual, though I preferred G4.2.

"Seen mah horse, pilgrum?"
3.169 16yo 1994 Pagoda reek drifting over Loch Indaal (56.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 589b) (A): nose: this one has a very pronounced farmyard character! Also scents of cow-boy saddle, shepherd's pie (JS), hass avocado skin. Mouth: grassy, full of flower juice and black pepper. Finish: apricot and passion fruit, although, truth be told, the peat does a lot of the talking. Fixou teases me for my comment and claims I have drunk too many 1960s Bowmore and now confuse them all... until he tries this one and agrees on the fruity side of it;

106.18 27yo 1984 Bottled essence of summer (52.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 196b) (JS): I want to get a 105 for A, but they do not have any. The bar tender pulls out a 106 instead (close enough in her mind, perhaps). It is nowhere near 105 in flavour terms, but I am really surprised to see it there at all -- it was a USA bottling that the staff managed to get their hands on a while ago. I recommend it to JS instead and get to try it, though very little of it, as more would be rude. Nose: perfumed butter. Mouth: orange marmalade. Finish: rose petal jelly and more marmalade. Even better than in my memory. JS is seduced, as is Fixou, who buys the last available bottle. It was not for sale the previous time, but a bottle still found its way to mine somehow. Rather glad about that, really. 8/10

76.98 17yo 1995 Big and tingly (57.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 604b) (me): unsure what to go for, I ask for staff recommendation myself. The first attempts are 7.76 and something else, both of which I have had. This Mortlach, on the other hand, is still unknown to me. Nose: a very distinct note of liquorice, sweet shop and ginger bread. With water, it evokes cooked and caramelised apples. Mouth: there is a big sherry influence at play, here. Also some black pepper, the whole being very well balanced. Finish: white pepper, nutmeg, crème brûlée, crispy cake crust. A reckons it is PiM's (the posher Jaffa Cake, innit), dark-chocolate-coated orange chips and, again, some liquorice (the so-called black laces), as well as a little wood.

36.60 23yo 1989/2012 Highland streams and daisy meadows (52.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 260b): Fixou and I share this one as a nightcap. Nose: apricot, pine cones. Mouth: forestry, undergrowth, fir forest. Finish: long, fruity (pears? It is a white fruit, in any case).

128.3 5yo 2006 Chestnut puree and new hiking boots (61.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, ex-Bourbon Barrel, 229b): A and JS share this as a nightcap. Nose: sugary, nearly grainy, with a hint of hiking boot, though one has to know what to look out for, this time. A bit of oxidation helps the clogged-sink smell come out again, as per usual. Mouth: warming and pleasant, slightly bitter. Finish: hiking boots, vinegar, then thick, juicy peach, or even mango, according to A. This is still lovely. 7/10

Good company, good drams, good pace.

11 February 2013

09/02/2013 A mixed six-pack

First tasting with idealrichard this year. It was unclear until the last minute who would be there and who would not, so there is not really a theme. I choose a few things to try and match what idealrichard has brought.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label (40%, John Walker & Sons) (idealrichard): yep, I have tried the most common colours, but not the blue one. This one was sold as a fifth of a Power-Ranger pack and idealrichard thought it was a good way to try it. Yay. Nose: not very assertive. Toffee, burnt caramel, some leather. There is definitely a sherry influence. Some alcohol. It smells a lot more noble than Red and Black, as silly as it may read (poor Stendhal must be turning in his grave). Mouth: faded leather, milk coffee, latte, even. Finish: mocha, mostly. It is rather nice, in fact -- rich and interesting on the discrete tip. 7/10

Mac NaMara (40%, Pràban na Linne, b. ca 2010) (me): a blend against another blend, obviously. Nose: light, with hints of grain and distant coffee. Mouth: fresh and custardy. Finish: grain again, as well as coconut. There is nothing to dislike here at all, though it is not assertive enough to make a strong impression either.

Ardmore 12yo 1994/2007 (46%, SD Single Malts of Scotland, Hogshead, C#578+598, 745b) (idealrichard): we seem to try quite a few Ardmore bottlings, these days. Nose: light peat, feet (in a good way, if that is possible), moss and heather. A bare-foot hike through a heather-covered peat moss, then. Mouth: light again, grainy and fruity, with orange skins and bananas. Finish: has an edge to it, maybe the bitterness of orange peel? It is nicely balanced with marmalade sweetness too. Quite sugary, actually. Brillaint.

Amrut Portonova (62.1%, OB) (me): something with cojones to match the Ardmore. Nose: ginger, gingerbread -- it smells like an old grain whisky, today. A spray of nutmeg, perhaps. Biscuitry. Yummy! There is even some violet in the back, which makes me wonder if I poured Invergordon by mistake. Mouth: peppery and lively, with another (small) serving of violet. Finish: cooked apple, pepper, this is punchy -- it feels like an old grain again. Very nice, in any case (thanks Fixou for the sample). 8/10

'My presence here is a complete quince-intense'
Glenturret 34yo b.2012 (47.6%, BBr Selected by Berrys', Cask Ref 2) (idealrichard): nose: lots of citrus -- Seville and blood oranges. Juniper, quince, quince jelly. Mouth: jammy alright! Still quince, with a weakish punch, but that is a good thing. When  drinking quince juice, being overwhelmed by the ABV seems inappropriate. This is very well balanced. Finish: more lovely quince jelly. The first sip is slightly too dry for my taste (unripe orange bitternes), yet that dryness disappears soon enough and lets lychee emerge. The dominant is quince, though -- quince-eegence, so good it cannot be a quince-intense (boom-tschhh!) Delicious stuff. 9/10

idealrichard loses his head over Lossie
Glenlossie 1968 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, b.1980s) (me): that Glenturret needs a worthy opponent. What better occasion to open this one? Nose: rich, wide, though not wild, at 40%. Faded, weathered leather (think an airman's flying jacket in April 1945), distant rotten oranges (or decaying, at least) and some ashes from a wood fire. Mouth: sugary, with more oranges (what is it with those, today?), coffee brewing in a flat across the corridor, (very) dark chocolate. Finish: we now even get cocoa beans, as well as blood oranges and orange skins. Really happy with this one -- I blind-bought it as a filler and it turns out to be a really good pick. The Glenturret is unbeatable, today, yet this is far from ridiculous, next to it. 8/10

idealrichard then tries a Laphroaig Triple Wood as a night cap. Good times.