14 April 2013

13/04/2013 The Viking session 2 -- We are not here for a laugh!

After our moderate session at the SMWS yesterday, we meet up for a proper tasting. It was a viking-like end of week, and we stick with the theme (open interpretation). idealrichard unfortunately calls off at the last hour, but Fixou, M and JS are here. We will call them Sven, Olaf and Gudrun.

Old Pulteney 12yo 1994/2007 Sauternes Finish (45%, Gordon & MacPhail Private Collection, C#06/125 1--5, 2050b) (brought by me): Pulteney Distillery is in Wick, a former-viking stronghold. Nose: plum, pencil shavings and vanilla, lovely and easy. Mouth: banana sweets and some citric Acid. Finish: long, with plum juice, red grape juice, vanilla and a little bit of green pepper.

Caperdonich 12yo 1997/2009 (46%, Douglas McGibbon Provenance, Refill Hogshead, C ref DMG5569) (me): bottled by CaperdonErik The Red. Nose: rather flowery, but mainly farmyard-like (consolidation paths). After several minutes, it evolves towards juicy, yellow fruit -- likely mirabelle plum. Mouth: floral, juicy (Sven), mead, hydromel and lots of white pepper. Finish: honeyed, long, with sweet flower juice and rose water.

Sven and Olaf keep yawning and complaining that they are tired -- pussies!

A surprise guest in the line up
Scapa 14yo (40%, OB, ca 2007) (Gudrun): Scapa is in Orkney, under viking dominion. Nose: egg shells (Sven), almond paste (Sven), honeysuckle. Mouth: honeyed again, meat and some sweet pear cider. Finish: oh! How good is this? Very honeyed, oily too -- it sticks to the palate for hours.

"Qu'est-ce que vous faites, l'après-midi?
-On écartèle les prêtres, on tabasse les boucs, on boit du plomb en fusion."

A dose of 26.90 that is not for a laugh 
26.90 27yo 1984 Elegant, subtle, balanced - in total harmony (55.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 508b) (Sven): the name is not really Viking-like: Elegant, Subtle, Balanced - in Total Harmony. A 27 year-old is not for a laugh, however. Nose: floral barbecue, alongside the trademark wax, but the latter is not too invading. A little bit of nail-varnish remover. Quince jelly settles in. Mouth: hot candle wax with black pepper and soft honey -- an agreeable mouth, in fact. Finish: more candle wax, black pepper and fruit, coated in honey. Which fruit? Papaya and quince.

Another discussion about pêches-au-thon begins (Sven is fascinated with them).
Sven: "Le thon, je l'ai!
-C'est pas très gentil, ça!"

Caol Ila 28yo 1982/2011 (56.4%, Berry Bros Selected by Berrys', C#6514) (Sven): two tastings in a row with this one. We know it is rather serious whisky too. Nose: farmyard galore, cow pastures and a little bit of nail varnish. Mouth: loads of white pepper and more farmyard shenanigans. Finish: burnt croissant, lamp oil and is it rubber, in the back? A very good Caol, this. 8/10

Pouring is not something Olaf and Sven do for a laugh
Bowmore 100 Degrees Proof (57.1%, OB Travel Retail Exclusive, L122056) (Sven): at 57.1% ABV, this is another one that is not here for a laugh. Nose: unexpectedly fruity (quince, pear) and a whiff of distant peat. Mouth: vaguely smoked quince jelly, orange juice (with the pulp). Rather creamy too. Finish: lots of citrus (grapefruit) and even some more exotic fruit (juicy peach and overripe apricot). Lovely. So much better than the Cask Strength from a decade ago. 8/10

Olaf -Grapefruit.
Me -Yes, but also yellow fruit -- peach, apricot...
Sven -We will start talking about pêches-au-thon again in a second...

Laphroaig Triple Wood (48%, OB, b. ca 2010) (me): this one is definitely not for a laugh. Nose: peat, bandages and orange skins. Mouth: same story with no surprise -- orange-skin bitterness, a bit of peat (probably a tonne of it, but at this point it seems tamed) and a certain roundness. Finish: long, peaty with citrus. 7/10

Nice and easy, sluggish and giggly.

13 April 2013

12/04/2013 The Viking session 1 -- SMWS

A friend of Fixou's in town and they are committed to navigating from one dram to the next on a long ship. It is Friday and I happily join them on their pillage-and-burn raid.

78.40 16yo 1996 Tantalisingly sweet and savoury (55.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 562b) (me): how this one escaped me last Saturday, I will never know, but this time, I know what to go for. Nose: very spicy, with unusual sumac, black cumin from Pakistan and black cardamom. Barbecue, mixed herbs and seasoning, ground, black pepper. After a bit, it becomes rather jammy. The dark spices wane after oxidation, but they are really big in the beginning. Mouth: yep, spicy alright! Hydromel, maybe? Mead? -- it remains jammy, in any case. A good dose of pepper and juniper berries, too. Finish: nigella seeds, maybe some star aniseed, a distant taste of dark chocolate and mocha, irrigated with orange juice, next to a pair of hiking boots.. It feels more like my own territory (exotic spices) than the traditional wine-related notes, yay.

26.71 25yo d.1894 The Great Outdoors (57.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 464b) (Fixou): the staff discovered a couple of bottles of this one in a dark cellar and Fixou is excited to have secured one for himself. Nose: candle wax aplenty, cooked apples (boiled in water, that is) and a surprising, light ash feel. Mouth: peppery, waxy (paraffin, candle wax), peach in syrup (of course, we talk about pêches-au-thon as usual). Finish: short and pleasant, with furniture wax and more warm candle wax. This is closer to the Clynelishes I do not care for, but it is well made.

3.193 14yo 1997 Baby-faced arsonist (57.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 601b) (M): talking about pillage-and-burn, Baby-Faced Arsonist seems like a good choice. Nose: cured meat, barbecue with a bit of yoghurt (tandooried meat, then? ) and a dash of red-wine vinegar. Mouth: smooth as fuck! There is the baby, surely, sweet and easy, with just a bit of green chilli, after a minute. Finish: ash and barbecued meat.

93.55 13yo 1999 Lamb kebab with apples and peppers (61.4%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 217b) (all): another bottle Fixou managed to get his hands on (I found it for him, hidden somewhere). Nose: kebab meat, cured meat, shallow-fried potato wedges, grilled swordfish, chargrilled pepper (capsicum), a branch of hawthorn (call me one-track-minded). It is slightly medicinal in the back too. Mouth: punchy and meaty, wild and animal. Finish: lots of meat, cured and seasoned. 7/10

Speaking of meat, we all go for the lamburgerini and, seeing as my comrades are fascinated with Scotch eggs, we share one venison Scotch egg between the three of us -- they love it too.

21.27 39yo 1971 An enticement of sweet oak (46.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 246b) (all): this one is still behind the bar (discounted too, woo) and they have not had it before. Nose: we all think it is a sherry cask, but no -- refill-Bourbon. That has now happened twice in a row, which is odd. freshly-cut pears, flowers (buttercups), a little bit of porridge. M finds it Cognac-y and I can see his train of thoughts: it is vaguely noble-eau-de-vie-like. Honey, rose petals and a minuscule amount of blonde tobacco. Mouth: some jam, rose petals again, noble vinegar (though Fixou claims it is only in the nose), carnation -- this is quite dry, actually. Finish: a fleeting passion-fruit discharge, half a second after swallowing, then pears, cooked in too much butter, stringent grape pits and some mocha. Still a great dram, but a bottle with a steep price, unfortunately. 9/10

12 April 2013

11/04/2013 Blitz session at Berrys'

This is more of a lunch-time excursion than a tasting, yet to keep track of my impressions and to share them, here is a brief recap.

Littlemill 20yo 1992/2013 (54.9%, BBr Selected by Berrys', C#10): grassy (hawthorn, to be precise) and slightly metallic with a hint of peach. Nice, not revolutionary and not too far from other Littlemills I have had.

North of Scotland 38yo 1973/2012 (46%, BBr Selected by Berrys',  C#14570): only the second NoS for this enthusiast. The first was a delight and a half, so the prospect of a new one is exciting. Quietly woody, with the usual coconut and glue, though very tame. Rather grassy too, all in finesse. OK, not blinding. A grain for people who do not like grain.

Caperdonich 20yo 1992/2012 (46%, BBr Selected by Berrys', C#121125): interesting nose, but all in all, this is too green. Akin to the Provenance I have, but not as good. Flower stems, plant juice and a dash of pepper. 6/10

Inchgower 30yo 1982/2012 (51.9%, BBr Selected by Berrys', C#6985): excellent balance of hazelnut, grass (the employee calls it 'sous-bois', which amuses me enormously) and caramel. 8/10

Imperial 17yo 1995/2012 (46%, BBr Selected by Berrys', C#50075): I am told this is quiet, unspoken and probably not rightly placed in that sequence (I only asked for it now). It explodes with honey and mead, as well as ripe, juicy, yellow fruit (apricot, canary melon). The texture is honeyed too. 8/10

Brimstone: finally a chance to try something from Balcones, a distillery in Texas with a growing reputation. This is bacon juice with no peat. Odd and dangerously easy to drink, much more so that, say, PC8, which was also very much a bacon assault.

Interesting session, with unexpected results.

9 April 2013

06/04/2013 April outturn at the SMWS

New month, new outturn. We booked a plate of cheeses and a flight of drams to share, as on a Saturday, we are pretty much guaranteed a friendly soul will pour something else too and we do not want to overindulge.

G10.1 23yo 1989 Thanksgiving dram (59.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 280b): a new grain is always exciting. A new grain from a new distillery should be even more so. Now, a new grain from a new distillery that I have never tried is something special. Nose: lots of evergreen saw dust, a bit of nail-varnish remover, coconut shells and a bizarre and agreeable mix of pencil shavings and strawberry coulis on ginger bread. JS finds fig & caramel gelato in it too. An old grain, in other words. :-) Mouth: most velvety grain I have had, it seems. This is like chewing on a honey-coated, satin cushion -- for real. A cushion sprayed with a twist of pink-pepper mill, that is. Finish: the wood is huge, which is not too surprising, with more honey.

44.56 23yo 1989 Sweet and sour creative tension (51.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, ex-Bourbon Cask, 300b): nose: honeysuckle, intoxicating perfume, essential oils, sunflower-seed oil? Very oily indeed. After a minute, it comes back to me: canola oil! Canola oil and some pine-tree needles. Mouth: velvety and easy, with a light sprinkle of pepper, forsythia in the back, tulip petals and maybe half a spoonful of honey. Finish: lovely! A nicely reached, difficult balance between honey and forsythia. It works a treat.

Silky smooth!
77.14 20yo 1987 Rich and velvety (59.1%, SMWS Society Cask, 464b): we get treated to this one by another customer. Nose: honeysuckle, honey, mead -- this is glorious! Mouth: more mead, honey-filled wafers. Finish: long and lingering on lovely mead, honeysuckle and honey. This is perfect in this sunny weather; perhaps not overly complex, but oh! so easy to drink (thanks B). 8/10

26.92 28yo 1984 Hard glazed pretzel sticks (58.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 491b): nose: trademark candle wax (it is a Clynelish, after all), spent candle wick and not much else I can detect. Mouth: reasonably wide with a dash of black pepper and a tiny bit of cardboard. Finish: more pepper and wax, perhaps flower petals, as well as burnt caramel. This is good, though not the best of the recent Clynelishes. "Vingt-six quatre-vingt-douze, Monsieur Vincent!"

77.30 9yo 2003 Attractively accessible and mouth-watering (61.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 273b): stupidly forgot this was coming and emptied 77.14 too soon to compare both. Nose: this one is a lot sharper and greener. Lots of plant juice, pine-tree sap (not very powerful, mind), some melted butter. Mouth: dry and mildly spicy (is it nutmeg?) Finish: it is, again, dry and freckled with plant sap. I reckon this is simply too green. Leave it another ten years in the cask, then we will talk.

The Old Man and a sea of Glenfarclas
1.168 28yo 1984 Appealing and gratifying (53.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 189b): nose: oh! dear, this is sherried. Irish tea cake, orange sabayon, leather sofas -- this was matured in a refill Bourbon cask?!!!??!? Now, that is puzzling! This dram is even rather meaty. Mouth: honey, marmalade and black pepper. Finish: now, it is a distinctive discharge of white pepper, before it settles on flower juice. Not too far from what I imagine spruce jam would taste like if they made it -- do they? Interesting and good, this.

Shortish session, though very sufficient. We manage to completely overlook the fact there is a new 78 -- a rare thing at the society, the last couple of years. Another visit soon, then.