15 July 2013

14/07/2013 Invernessian trilogy

What to do in this blistering heat? Let us have a tasting! I have long had a fascination for Inverness and its distilleries. Not the town itself, which has let me down each time I visited it, but the fact it used to have three distilleries close to each other, none of which is still active.

Also, one was a lot bigger than the other two.

Millburn 1971 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, b.1990s): this is only my second-ever Millburn. The first was a mid-1990s Cadenhead bottling that did not impress me. One of those in which the alcohol is so overly present. Nose: old wood, rotten plums, dust, cork, greasy cardboard with a tiny bit of solvents. After a few minutes, it opens up with Brazil nuts as well as boiled vegetables, with a whiff of smoke in the background. This is old-school alright! Railroad-tie varnish, rotting plum, still, and dunnage warehouse. After the first sip, torrefied coffee comes up and steamrolls everything on its way. With water, coffee, still. Mouth: this is very austere -- closed, even. More decaying wood, liqueur, plum pits and not much else. Let us give it some time... It worked! Warm coffee, now, in a good way (I am not a coffee drinker). Water does not change it much. Finish: oh, boy! Nothing for a second, save for faint, dried plum, then a wonderfully dark chocolate covers the mouth for good. Warm cocoa, praliné-stuffed dark, Belgian chocolate (is there any other?) with a bit of smoke. Flippin' hell, this is unexpected. Beautiful. Water makes no difference again. I wonder how many sherry casks were used, if any. It is light in colour, but boasts characteristics usually associated with sherry maturation. I can hardly wait to get and try the other Millburn that is making its way to me as I type. :-)

Glen Mhor 21yo 1976 (43%, TWS Glenkeir Treasures The Gold Selection, 299b): I have not had this one in a while (herehere and here), but it always provided a lot of enjoyment in the past. Nose: pine tree, sawdust, cigar boxes, some dust again, though younger dust, here -- it has not been sitting on the furniture of an undisturbed house for decades. Interestingly enough, there is also fresh pineapple skin, though it is distant. Gas, boiled plantain, then washing-up detergent, citrus zest -- this is complex indeed! Pink grapefruit and banana juice. Water moves it towards the kitchen garden (courgette flowers, green tomatoes). Mouth: citrus first, (lime water), a tiny bit of smoke, woody vanilla, milky and gently spicy, with a sprinkle of ground green pepper and a touch of (Fino?) sherry wine. Water makes it too thin. Finish: more old-school goodness -- vanilla-flavoured milk, spices (ginger), tingling on the tongue, sandalwood, mashed potatoes with nutmeg. With water, it becomes spicier, strangely enough, but also more floral. Still nice, this one.

Glen Albyn 26yo 1975/2002 (54.8%, OB Rare Malts Selection, 6000b): I have had four Glen Albyns so far (one before this blog existed, then here and here), yet this sample is still the only thing I own from that distillery. Nose: similar style to the Millburn -- dunnage warehouse, a mixed bag of overripe and underripe plums. The alcohol is a lot stronger (no joking!) yet it does not kill the experience at all. Distant smoke (not as distant as in the other two), cling film and, dare I say, hog roast with a bit of butter in a dish at room temperature. A few minutes in, the alcohol and smoke vanish to unveil fruit (white grapes) and a baking nut roast. Hay stacks and garden fires then emerge. It keeps changing, this one. Quince liqueur? Rhaaaaaaa! Good! With water, it is meatier, with new handbags (no glad rags, though). Mouth: initially low-brow (cabbage water, bog), before becoming more leathery -- oh! it is no Mortlach, of course. Peach-pit bitterness and coffee beans. With water, it is rather creamy, in a pleasant way. Finish: powerful, dark, lightly creamy coffee. Neverending too. It is a strangely simple finish for such an extravagant nose. With water, hot chocolate with milk (warme chocomelk). The finish requires water, in my opinion, and the whole demands patience (thanks pat gva for the sample). 8/10

Millburn is probably my favourite, tonight. Glad the dreary impression of my first Millburn got shattered.

Blend of the three: but of course. Faded leather and orange peels, cured meat and sherry. The Millburn speaks the loudest. Mouth: milk chocolate, melted in coffee, cherry liqueur. Finish: yep, choco-coffe, corrected with cherry liqueur. One of my best blending experiments, this. 9/10.

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