Out of six people, only one can make it (idealrichard). But since he has something to celebrate (the promise of a life of slavery), there is no postponing it. Lost for relevant themes that a) would be original enough and b) would not be wasted on the sparse attendance (as in: how good is, say, a grain tasting if the one guest does not like grain w?), we go for a "bring whatever you want and we'll make up the theme once we see the bottles" session. All are summery, the day is warm and sunny and, let us be lucid, we have not had a summery tasting since last summer.
Tomatin 16yo 1995/2011 (46%. GMP Exclusive for Inverness Airport, C#5128) (brought by me): nose: toffee, plum liqueur, rich soil (idealrichard thinks of mulch, but that is something different), mushroom, butter, salt and garlic. idealrichard finds it rather Bruichladdichy. Mouth: salty, slightly fizzy, with a bit of burnt caramel and a whiff of smoke, then a combination of dry sausage and cherries in syrup. Finish: chou dough, vanilla, long and balanced. Very nice, this. Anyone flying through Inverness should probably get one, as it is cheap to boot. If there is any left, that is.
Mortlach 8yo (43%, DMG Provenance) (brought by idealrichard): nose: meaty, though not too in-your-face. Varnish, cooking marzipan. Barbecue in a glade in the middle of the forest, fermented plums, tinned cherries. Mouth: round, with more cherries in syrup and a bit of nail varnish. Finish: long, warming, with notes of pastry and red fruit (plums and cherries again).
Lochside 28yo 1981/2009 (56%, BA Raw Cask, C#617) (brought by idealrichard): funnily enough, I considered buying this last week. Nose: the unmistakable passion fruit is there. It is downplayed, but it is there. Shaving foam or after-shave lotion (the alcohol is strong), allspice (idealrichard). With water, passion fruit is more assertive and alongside it comes pastry in the back. Mouth: gentle at first, then the high ABV takes over. Finish: the usual Lochside 1981 effect: a short discharge of passion fruit before it winds down on a warming and slightly fruity note. Water makes it fruitier and very, very pleasant. Thumbs up. 9/10
Lochside 21yo 1989/2011 (48.2%, DL Old Malt Cask, Refill Barrel, C#6953, 126b) (brought by idealrichard who is in a Lochside mood): nose: "something peculiar" (JS). It is shrimp paste in a curry sauce in the making, augmented with tooth paste. Then it morphs into something vegetal -- compost (idealrichard), -- something rotting (JS), rotten papaya, I say -- somewhere between mango and feet, -- then polished oak and blue cheese (gorgonzola). Or is it smoked cheese? Fruit comes out later on. What a crazy nose! A proper chameleon! Varnish and icing sugar (JS), now, then farmyard -- it keeps changing. Mouth: Listerine (blue or green), spices (caraway seeds), breath mints, Looza Pomme-Cerise. Finish: unripe strawberries, mint, then passion fruit and even cigar smoke. Bizarre, interesting and funny. Never has a dram been so far from boring, probably. 8/10
Rosebank 22yo 1981/2004 (61.1%, OB Rare Malts Selection) (brought by me): nose: grass, verbena, a little vanilla. With water, flowers start blooming, butter and hay. Mouth: the alcohol speaks, then it becomes mellow as a feather. With water: custardy. Finish: long, warming and satisfying, sugary and fruity. This is very well-balanced and I love it. Water helps caramel custard emerge, as well as roasted pears and a bit of toasted sesame. No undesirable side-effect from the high ABV, this time (thanks again for the sample, pat gva). 9/10
idealrichard needs to leave early, so we do not try the Glenugie or the Glenmorangie that were foreseen. Another time.