23 September 2013

21/09/2013 Autumnal flavours for the equinox

The joy that comes with not everyone being free at the same time is that you get to do a lot more tastings. Fixou could not make this one, while idealrichard could not make last week's. Instead of postponing until we found a date that suited everyone, it felt a lot more sensible to have two tastings. Yay.
The suspects: idealrichard, JS, newcomer KB and yours, truly.
The menu:

Cragganmore Double Matured 1993/2007 (40%, OB, Port Cask Finish) (idealrichard): this must be one of the very few Distillers Edition bottlings I still have not had. About time, then! Nose: baked apples (which are in season), quince jelly and some very delicate nail polish. Mouth: mellow and soft, silky and balanced, though undeniably sweet (the Port influence, without a doubt). Finish: more baked apple and Port sweetness. Not very complex, but pleasurable. In fact, this one is one of my favourite DE. 7/10

The Entertainer (46%, Compass Box) (idealrichard): although I never owned a Compass Box product, it is always a delight to get to try one. Nose: different game! Some leather, cured meat, tame shoe polish. It is a much wider nose, altogether. KB finds it smells of new bicycle tyre tubes (new rubber, then), as well as burnt log (let us call that the autumnal flavour). Smoked bacon it is, for me. Mouth: liquorous, says KB, who is getting into the mood. Velvety with black pepper, giving it a bit of a sting. Finish: it lingers on the tongue with a slightly dry touch. Dram of the day for JS. 7/10

Dalmore 1973 30yo 1973/2003 (42%, OB, Gonzalez Byass Matusalem Sherry Cask) (JS): this one has changed quite a bit, since last time. It used to be known as the apple juice by the group (the autumnal flavour). There are still apples, but also lots of Turkish delights and orange water, now. Mouth: grapefruit juice, i.e. rather drying and acidic, while fruity. Finish: cantaloupe (KB) and passion fruit, sprinkled with Jamaica pepper (allspice). I remember being disappointed with this, last time, and finding it simple. It has become simply extraordinary. Not so much full of apples any longer, but tropical fruits. Dram of the day for me. 9/10

North British 25yo 1964/1990 (46%, SV, C#10451--10454) (me): nose: pine-tree plantation, damp woods (KB, thereby confirming it is in theme), coconut shells. Not much vanilla or varnish, but a distinctive, elegant grain nose all the same. Mouth: Haze Summer Blossom (KB & idealrichard, referencing some kind of air freshener), wood shavings, more coconut shells. Finish: never-ending, this one. Pine dust, toasted coconut shavings. Dram of the day for KB, at a draw with The Entertainer. 8/10

Time for some chocolate. KB brought a selection of Neuhaus drops which we enjoy a lot.

64.32 10yo 2001/2011 Nutty Delights (59.1%, SMWS Society Cask, ex-Bourbon Barrel, 245b) (JS): another one that we have not had in a while. Nose: nuts (autumnal), wood shavings, melted milk chocolate, perhaps bay leaves too. Orange comes out, after a while. Mouth: lots of pepper, now, with a hint of lemon, before it ends up with sawdust dryness. KB's first proper cask strength whisky and he notices ("It's strong!") Finish: chocolate, bay-leave infused hot water, sage. Again, this might not be the most complex dram, but so pleasant it is. Dram of the day for idealrichard, who cannot decide between this and the Dalmore. 8/10

Blair Athol 27yo 1975/2003 (54.7%, OB Rare Malts Selection, 6000b) RMS (me): nose: stewed pears, stewed apples (autumn fruits), wax, flowers (violets? Probably not, but I never find which flower), very bitter Seville-orange marmalade. A few drops of water open the way for leather. K reckons it boasts a whiff of Fairy Liquid. Mouth: spices aplenty (pepper, chilli) alongside the wax. It does sting quite a bit at cask strength. Finish: wax, wood, grass, herbs, daisies and some bitterness. A very beautiful Blair Athol if there ever was one (thanks pat gva for the sample). 8/10

By that time, the table was rocking a bit
Traditional Ben Nevis (46%, OB, b. ca 2012) (me): we had this one with Fixou not too long ago and found it quite alright indeed. For the record, it is a distillery-only bottling that attempts to recreate the Ben Nevis style from the early 20th century. At the time, Ben Nevis was a blend of Ben Nevis and Nevis malts (they owned both distilleries). Of course, Nevis has been shut for over a century, now, so they tried to recreate the style at Ben Nevis. Nose: smoked bacon, fruity bubblegum, strawberry shake or winter barbecue, salting. Mouth: feels a lot like cough syrup (really?) Corn syrup, cereals of all sorts. Finish: warming and comforting. I will have to try this one on its own to try and better understand what it offers. It is by no means a "great" dram and is probably too pricey for what it is, but it is interesting and agreeable all the same. 7/10

Time to eat the cake KB brought. Indulgent, of course, but hey.

Highland Park 21 (47.5%, OB, 3rd Edition) (idealrichard): the first edition at 47.5% was so popular HP decided to make a second at 40%, presumably so they could sell more of it. I have not yet tried the 1st, but liked the 2nd enough. This one? Nose: smoke, dry heather, Manuka honey (idealrichard and JS). Mouth: dryish like heather stems. Close your eyes, dear reader, and you will feel the howling wind on the moorland. Finish: very fruity, now! Maracuja, star fruit, both juicy. Yes, this is better than the 2nd edition, I reckon. Crikey! 8/10

Superb tasting, relaxed and easy going, augmented by lovely drams all round.

We heard the following:
Gin Devo - Surface
Speedy J - !ive
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - The Boatman's Call
Lustmord - Carbon/Core

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