28 June 2013

27-06-2013 July outturn preview at the SMWS

After a rather long hiatus, the SMWS invites us to an outturn preview again. The formula has changed dramatically: instead of one big event at a partner venue, with all guests present to try all the new bottlings, it is a series of shorter and more intimate sessions at the regular dive, with a whisky ambassador (CD at the helm), an assortment of Scottish cheeses with oatcakes, and five of the new bottlings selected by the host. All that for five guests -- or six, since the host takes part in the revelry: JS, Fixou, a member of the first hour who once visited all three venues in the country in the same day, a man with five 'd' in his name and myself. And CD, as mentioned.
We start a bit late (Frenchionably late), which worries me a little, as we are supposed to only have 45 minutes to go through the lot.
Better get going, then!

A rucksack full of pêches au thon
G1.11 21yo 1991 Iced mulled wine and Sorrento Limoncello (65.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 384b): on one hand, I am glad to try that one first, as I will have a better impression than I would after four drams in the gob, yet on the other, I am slightly concerned we start with a dram over 65%... Anyway. Nose: pine undergrowth (douglas fir, to be precise), limoncello (the description on the label gives that one away), some varnish, pine cones. With water, it becomes more biscuity, then dies out on Veleda markers, dry-wipe, white boards and coffee beans. CB jokes about all grains being the same (varnish, vanilla, coconut), but I find this one quite particular. Mouth: a touch of lemon and the more regular vanilla. Finish: there is a slight bitterness in the after-taste without which this would be fantastic. Toffee, pine needles and still that lingering lemon slice impression -- mmmmh! A lot easier to drink than the ABV suggested. In fact, it flows down on its own. 8/10

64.47 12yo 2001/2013 A firecracker! (61.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 209b): to ensure survivors of the previous cannot see straight quickly, we proceed with a 61+% dram. A Society Mannochmore is something I always look forward to, as they are consistently good, on top of being cheap. Nose: sparkly, fruity, citrusy. This smells like a good aperitive, everyone agrees. Mushrooms, shoe polish (black), then marzipan. It moves towards coffee, then sugar overtime. Mouth: pine needles, lots of pine wood. We have surreptitiously entered Ikea. No meat balls, horse or other. Finish: slightly spicy. Bit of wood, citrus. Water makes it more citrusy. The nose is amazing, hence the score. Not too taken by the rest. 7/10

CD -My favourite is a 16 year-old. [realising] ...whisky!

76.103 26yo 1987/2013 An ‘Old Fashioned’ in a traditional barber shop (52.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 279b): nose: meaty, though not nearly as much as Mortlach usually is. Still weird it is at all, considering it has spent its time in a bourbon cask. Turpentine? Varnish? It is "tamed", compared to the previous two. Mouth: well balanced, with some acidic orange juice. Finish: wood. A minute in, marzipan comes out. This is alright. Everyone else thinks it is too civilized, but it is decent. 6/10

53.190 17yo 1995 A fishing village up Whisky Cove (56.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 263b): the issue with CB at the helm is you are certain to end up tasting a Caol Ila. Talk about a surprise... Nose: kippers aplenty! Dried anchovies, brine, sea air. Coming back to it after the last dram, it delivers a lot of salted butter. Mouth: smoke, herbs. Finish: lovely peat, medicinal (bandages), long and heart-warming. The boys love it. 7/10

29.138 18yo 1995/2013 Hospitals, hearths and headlands (59.4%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 182b): nose: hospital, antiseptic, steriliser, ointment. It is impressive how medicinal this one is. Mouth: iodine, spices and herbs (thyme, oregano). Finish: more iodine, all sorts of medicinal shenanigan. It never ends either. Not my thing, nowadays. 5/10

Jolly company
The tasting is over, we went overtime quite a lot, but no one is queueing at the door for the next session -- there is no other session today. CB starts tidying up so he can go back to his regular duties, while we polish the cheese plates (a blue, a goat, a smoked, a fourth I cannot remember), oatcakes and our complimentary dram (I have another G1.11, which is still good, but will prove a bad idea tomorrow morning).
The party disbands and we head downstairs for a nightcap and a chat. Fixou goes for a mini-tasting of the four new Port Charlotte. I try one:

127.32 10yo 2002 A manly dram (65.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 244b): nose: barbecue, mercurochrome, coffee. Mouth: more mercurochrome, cocoa beans. Finish: extremely peaty, liquorice (Fixou). My nose is stuck, by now, so I cannot get too much of anything. 6/10

Charlotte, if you read this...
7.87 27yo 1989 (55.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 141b): since it is here and so are we, it seems right to sample it. Nose: honey, flowers, beeswax and candle wax (is this a Clynelish?) Mouth: bitter. Flower-stem juice, ginger, sunflower. Finish: bitterness, butter, then tons of honeysuckle and even Liège waffle. This is pretty good, though it does not hold together very well. The others do not care much for it.

What about the new formula, then? I found the session to be too short (we had to rush, in parts). It is a pity we cannot choose the drams ourselves, as it means we have to rely on the host's selection -- and since the tasters were a mix of peat-freaks, Lowland enthusiasts and grain fanatics, it was impossible to please everyone every time. On the plus side, it is less frenetic than the previous format, more personal and means we can more easily chat with others and share impressions.

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