10 March 2014

04/03/2014 Supper at Albanach MkII

Back in Albanach, and this time, there is no shying away. Considering we want to make the best out of it, we even start with it. "It?" Brace yourself, dear reader: here comes...

I am the One, the only one
I am the God of Kingdom Come
Gimme the prize
White Bowmore 43yo (42.8%, OB The Trilogy, Bourbon casks, 732b): do a double-take -- yes, that is the 1964, 43 year-old that came out in 2008 indeed. Nose: name a fruit, it is there. Mango, guava, maracuja, jackfruit, grapefruit, peach, strawberry, greengage, ... Should I go on? A whiff of paraffin wax, then pear, juicy apple, apricot, ... It feels like a how-many-fruits-can-you-name test. Grapes? Check. Blackberries? Check. Quince? Check. Next to that fruit basket (it is more of a fruit market), we have a tractor saddle, which is less expected, but hints at a very old whisky (which this is). This nose is so fulfilling it is ridiculous. I need another pair of trousers immediately. This is even more exuberant than the 1968 and 1966 I have had the fortune to try. A spoonful of fruit jam dunked into a bowl of fruit juice in which pieces of fruit float calmly -- all that in the middle of a fruit market, naturally. When all that fruit finally becomes quieter (a good thirty minutes in), butterscotch, custard and vanilla pudding emerge, alongside ground Macadamia nuts. Mouth: it seems stronger (spicier, really) than the modest 43% suggest. A good balance of delicately fruity barley juice, vanilla, and tame spices (white pepper, hot paprika). Oily, rather than creamy (it is almost thin, without being weak) and ever so slightly drying. This mouth is a notch or two behind the nose, I must say -- not too surprising, when you have a nose like that. Finish: swallow this and it becomes a torrent of fruity slaps again. Litres of passion fruit first, but all the ones from the nose soon come back in a peppery cavalcade. What a ride! Such a symphony of fruit, overripe fruit (yes, even decaying papaya) and pepper. Grand. Despite the disappointing mouth (relatively speaking), I give this one a 16/10. Best whisky I have had? Hard to say (come on!) but it is a damn fine candidate.
The only way to drink this.

Tomintoul 33yo (43%, OB, b.2009): had this one at the Whisky Show, last year, and loved it. Nose: lovely apple, juicy pear, roasted nuts and white wine (the spicy kind they make mulled wine with). Coconut-shell shavings, vanilla pods, almond milk, then chocolate milk (milked-up Nesquik). Mouth: outstanding balance of toasted wood and spices, vanilla pudding and all recipes of crème anglaise. Finish: long and creamy with unexpected notes of dark grape skins to complement the almond milk. Great dram, though in the shadow of the Bowmore, obviously. 8/10

Glenmorangie Claret Wood (43%, OB): I was going to get a Nectar d'Or, but this one, along with a 30 Oloroso, shouted at me. Not something you see every day. Nose: very big wine influence, here. Butter, red wine, grapes in a tun under the sun (should make a pun, just for the fun), almond paste with a tang, blood orange juice, peppy apple and strawberry. Mouth: tannins -- talk about suggestion, but it almost feels like sipping wine to me. Well, apart from the notes of wood, of course; toasted coconut, vanilla and all. Very smooth. Impressive marriage. It often does not work, but it does, here. Finish: again, take a so-called "modern" whisky, add a few drops of red wine, ta-da! this is it. Wine without the bitterness, whisky with sun-drenched grape juice. I was afraid this was going to be laughable, but far from it. Great dram! 8/10

With that, we have a haggis-topped burger and venison sausages with black pudding and mash.

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