28 November 2013

24/11/2013 Special editions

It is dom666's birthday, time for the yearly tasting. I could not make it last year, and everyone dropped out of it eventually, so it did not take place at all. Good to come back to this tradition. Low turnover, due to last-minute changes in many a calendar, but also some lesser-seen faces.
The suspects: dom666, adc, JS, Postman PSc and JD alongside myself.

The menu:

Tomatin 16yo 1996/2012 (46%, GMP Exclusive for Inverness Airport, Refill Bourbon Barrel, C#5128) (me): a recurrent guest at my tastings, recently, yet this group has not had it yet. It is an exclusive bottling for Inverness Airport, hence in theme. Nose: fruity and grassy, today. Mouth: lively, with green wood and a dash of pepper. Finish: fresh, lively, with vanilla, coconut and peachy fruit. No awesome notes, as it is well known to whoever reads this blog, by now. A great dram to start with, everyone seems to enjoy it enough. 8/10

We are peckish, time for dried sausages -- duck and green pepper, pork and hazelnuts, pork and figs, Espelette chilli, pheasant and Cognac. Exquisite.

Synchronised toothpaste ad
Arran Millennium Casks b.2013 (53.5%, OB, 7800b) (JD): a special bottling made out of whisky casked at the turn of the millennium. Nose: well-controlled wood, rosewood (adc), some dunnage warehouse. Mouth: pepper and pine needles with a hint of vanilla. Finish: comforting and pleasant, with a touch of peach, perhaps, or orange. 7/10

dom666 is warming up and raises the pun bar to unexpected heights (although firmly anchored in the Liège province, unfortunately for our readers from overseas):
"A Flémalle, il y a Flémalle-Haute et Flémalle-Grande. A Spa, c'est pareil: il y a Spa et Spa-si-Bas."

Bruichladdich Colonsay 12yo 1994/2007 (46%, MMcD, C#MMCL2) (dom666): this was purchased on Colonsay in 2008, a Bruichladdich bottled for the Colonsay community and exclusively sold there. Great memories. Nose: lightly smokey, with candied oranges. It is distinctly wilder than the previous, giving out even sausage smells to augment a more coastal character. Mouth: balanced, smooth, with lush marmalade before green pepper walks in. Finish: slightly punchy, with peach skin and orange rinds. Very, very nice, this! Much more than a curiosity. 7/10

JD takes a particular liking to the Linkwood
Linkwood 26yo 1975/2002 (56.1%, OB Rare Malts Selection) (PSc): we switch gears, all of a sudden. Rare Malts were more or less the equivalent of the current yearly Diageo releases. As such, it is a special edition. Nose: dunnage warehouse!! Austere and complex, with nuts, undergrowth, mushrooms. Mouth: slightly dry, but full and rich -- amazing, in fact. Finish: fruit (apricot), orange or lemon marmalade and liqueur praline. 9/10

Food comes out: yeast bread, nut bread, white pudding, pâtés, cheese (Cognac Epoisse, whisky Cheddar, Calvados camembert), all terribly tasty.

Another one fuses: "des petits pains au levain -- ce ne sont pas des petits pains au Louvain."

Mmmmm. Food.
Clynelish 12yo1995/2007 Rum JM Finish  (50%, Taste Still, C#4898, 72b) (adc): this one was bottled for the open-door days at Corman-Collins in 2007. Nose: a tannery, lemonade, cane sugar and a touch of alcohol. Mouth: yes, lots of cane sugar and red chilli. Finish: tons of white pepper and sugar. The rum influence is now obvious. Some trademark wax, but it is safe to say this is not yer regular Clynelish. 7/10

"This is how you pluck an apple, Louvain-boy."
Laphroaig QA Cask b.2013 (40%, OB Travel Retail Exclusive) (JD): although it has been bought in a regular store, this one is supposedly a travel-retail exclusive. Nose: QAight (boom-tshhh), petrol station, hydrocarbon, leather gloves, farmyard, tannins (P). Mouth: bland, watered-down lemon curd, tame marmalade. P finds barbecue-flavoured Croky crisps. Finish: tame and bland again, with a touch of lemon curd. A cigarette in an ashtray next door. It becomes more animal after ingesting cheese, but let us say it is a weaker Laphroaig. 5/10 J is disappointed and ready to part with his bottle. dom666 (stupidly) offers something to cheer him up, which could likely ruin the rest of the tasting for JD: Laphroaig 31yo 1974/2005. JD falls off his chair. P has a drop as well, while the others all carefully steer clear.


Laphroaig Quarter Cask (48%, OB) (PSc): long-time-no-see, for this popular bottling. A bit pedestrian, next to the 1974, but did I not say it was foolish to drink that one? This one is off-theme, but what the heck! Nose: coastal, farmyardy, with boiled-sweet scents. Mouth: it seems balanced, today, and even sugary. Finish: peat and cane sugar. Yep! Not extremely complex, but really efficient. Great dram. 7/10
Synchronised thoughtful nosing

The awkward moment when
you break your first cork
Talistill 11yo 1996/2007 (46%, Taste Still, C#5471, 180b) (adc): specially brought for dom666, who is a fan of this undisclosed distillery on the Isle of Skye. Nose: smokey, with blackcurrant and sweet lards, a kind of marshmallow ribbon (adc). Mouth: such power at a mere 46%! An avalanche of black pepper, clove, sumac and even varnish. Finish: long, lingers on the tongue with buttery spices. Sublime. Best Talisker I have tried, with the possible exception of Secret Stills 01.01. 9/10


Pepper in a bottle
Talisker 14yo 1994/2009 (58.6%, OB Manager's Choice, Bodega Sherry European Oak, C#7147, 582b) (dom666): dom666 bought this one exclusively for this tasting. Nose: this is so rich! Full of herbs, cured meat, varnish and sea air. Mouth: sort of balanced, moving on towards pepper (white and black). Not so balanced, in fact: an onslaught of pepper it is. This is a young Talisker and it suffers from the same symptoms as the regular 10 year-old. Finish: invading, full of iodine and pepper. Talistill is much better balanced. 7/10

Things become slightly blurry on the right-hand side
North British 45yo 1963/2009 (50.7%, SV, C#117362, 117363, 117365, 290b) (dom666 and I): we bought this one a few years ago. I patiently waited for this very tasting to crack it open with dom666 (check the age). Nose: typical grain -- paint, varnish, blackcurrant, muffin, frangipane (JD), lots of bakery types. Mouth: slightly bitter, with violet sweets, then cane sugar and a bit of chilli or pepper (or is it still the Talisker talking?) Finish: cuberdon, violets. This is loooooong with an extraordinary balance. As good as the Invergordon 48 Sovereign from the Whisky Show. One of the best grains I have had. 9/10 J does not care for it, unfortunately. Which is a shame, as it was supposed to be the climax of this fine tasting. But I have a trump card up my sleeve...

Although the previous dram is great, it feels like offering dom666 his own bottle. For his birthday, one could think of classier moves. Perhaps this one. Distilled in the same year as the hero of the day, this was bottled for the 150th anniversary of the owners' company:

"They were gonna make me a Major for this."

Bowmore 32yo 1968/2000 (45.5%, OB Anniversary Edition, 1860b) (me): nose: herbs (adc), peach, mango, passion fruit, you name a tropical fruit, it is there. No peat at all, which puzzles some. Mouth: pure fruit juice, plain and simple. Mango, papaya, peach. There is honey in there too (PSc), red fruit (dom666), tangerine and others. Finish: a roundhouse kick of passion fruit in the teeth, then pepper. A completely ridiculous dram, out of this world. 10/10 First Bowmore from the 1960s for half the attendance. It still mops the floor with any non-believer. :-)

Excellent tasting, as always. Perhaps better than usual, in fact. Very relaxed and friendly, with drams of an outstanding quality, despite the disappointment of the Laphroaig QA.

Standing in front, with a god-like halo

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