As each year, the 21st July calls for a toast to the Heimat. This year is particularly special, since it also marks the abdication of Albert II and the Coronation of Philippe I.
I casually came across the perfect dram for the occasion before the weekend: distilled in 1993 and bottled in July 2013, which coincides with Albert's reign. It even shares the same name (nearly)... but I completely overlooked that until last night, failed to pick it up, leaving it at the shop until next week. Ah, well.
Let us start by welcoming the new King -- well, since I do not have anything even remotely linked to Philippe's coronation, I will toast to the Queen instead.
ToMathilde 16yo 1995/2011 (46%, GMP Exclusive for Inverness Airport, C#5128): this one has quickly become my latest everyday dram. Nose: it seems quite different, today. It oscillates between wood (old wood, cork, ink, even wet cardboard) and wine (church candles, Madeira or Port), yet it also boasts something of an old plastic doll and, perhaps, an old, worn-out saddle. Mouth: definitely winey, now. Liquorous, white wine, to be precise. Not quite Martini-like (that would be ghastly) -- rather Sauternes with a kick. Syrupy and coating, agreeable. Finish: hoochie mama! Hazelnut paste coated in honey, beeswax, noble, polished furniture. Long live the Queen!
The next one is just over 20 years old. With the retiring King clocking in after just under that, it is as close as it gets without postponing. And I will not postpone.
Alberg 1978/1999 (43%, OB): nose: Ardbeg from the 1970s are something, are they not? This is a full, smoked sea-food platter (kippers, salmon, trout, anchovies), in a sea port (i.e. add seaweed and diesel to the mix). Oh, and sports shoes. The majestic basalmic vinegar © comes out too. I want to say oysters, but I have not had any in decades (I do not care for them). Most of the 1970s single casks of Ardbeg I have tried were heavy on cereal, but this is not (thankfully for me). It is simply a very elegant peat display. Mouth: a monster of balance, very impressive. It lingers between dried fruit (raisins, figs, mince pies) and smoked trout on a sandy beach. Properly masterful. Finish: phenomenal again; it carries on on the same theme: peat-smoked seafood and dried fruit, with a slight bitterness in the aftertaste, old ropes and fishing nets. Glorious. Happy retirement, Sire! 9/10