15 May 2014

15/05/2014 Blitz at Berrys' #6

Spring is back at last, time to visit Berry for a few quick drams.

Longmorn 20yo 1992/2013 (50.9%, Berry Bros Selected by Berrys', Refill Bourbon Hogshead C#149091): fresh and lively, bursting with lemon and waxy orange skins.

Longmorn 24yo 1988/2013 (46%, Berry Bros Selected by Berrys', Refill Bourbon Hogshead C#14385): whereas the first one had the impetuousness of youth (at 20!), this is much more elegant and charming without even trying. Darker, juicier oranges, perhaps a bit of leather and a general fullness.

Glenrothes 1995 (43%, OB, ca 2014): buttery as only 'rothes can be. Butter, butter, butter. Slightly smoked butter, if anything.


Glenrothes 1995/2013 (45.5%, OB Vintage Cask, Refill Butt C#55): spectacularly different and, to be fair, unlike any Glenrothes under the sun. Fresher, fruitier and grassier than the regular 1995, with little to no butter whatsoever. It is even relatively fairly priced to boot (for an official 18yo single cask).

7 May 2014

29/04/2014 A few drams with mars

I have a delivery to make and take the opportunity to share a few drams with a fellow enthusiast. We are treated to lovely ice cream, spot on on this sunny day, before transferring to a quieter place full of bottles. Not much time, so mars tastes what I brought, JS tastes his offerings and I mostly smells, occasionally indulging in a sip or two.

On the left...

Littlemill 23yo 1990/2013 (52.4%, The Whisky Agency, Refill Hogshead, 332b): nose: herbaceous, but also rather fruity (peach, guava, melon). I do not go past the nose for this one.

Inchgower 37yo 1974/2012 (58%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams): nose: lots of wax, flint and herbs. Mouth: lively and noble, quite bitter. Finish: a bit less impressive. Plum or pear eau-de-vie, quite fiery and actually not very nice. Pity, since the nose was promising.

Littlemill 20yo 1992/2012 (54.6%, Berry Bros Selected by Berrys', C#9): I reckon I have had this one. Nose: very sherried, borderline sulphury. Walnut hull. Mouth: meaty and sulphury, not my thing. Finish: the same OXO broth impression, then: boom! A fleeting explosion of overripe fruit. Of the recent series of casks BBr have bottled (9, 10, 11, 16), this is probably the one I like the least.

Littlemill 20yo 1992/2012 (51.6%, The Whisky Agency Whisky Library, Bourbon Hogshead, 313b): when mars heard earlier that JS is a Littlemill fan, he had to show off, which is why we are having so much Littlemill. Nose: lots of fruit, some vanilla and a big coat of mud on top. Very unusual. I only nose this one too.

Bunnahabhain 43yo 1968/2012 (47%, The Whisky Agency, Refill Sherry Butt, 498b): those 1968 Bunna are usually fantastic, so I cannot not have it. Nose: matchsticks -- no! A cardboard box that used to contain matchsticks. Mouth: yes, lovely, creamy, with hints of fruit (including the stones). Finish: just a bit bitter and drying, with a backdrop of decaying fruit. This is decent enough, but unfortunately, it does not carry the same magic as the other ones I have had.

Glenlossie 35yo 1975/2011 (51.6%, The Whisky Agency, Bourbon Hogshead, 195b): a distillery I have not had too often, so I go for it, even though I have had more than I said I would. Nose: hay, apple, in a thick and dense scent. Mouth: lighter, with honey and sunflowers. Finish: Formidable, now. A bowl of overly-ripe-fruit punch. Dram of the day for me.

On the right...
While we were tasting all those, mars had the following:

-Ben Wyvis C#687 SV
-Tomatin C#5122 GMP
-Bladnoch 1987/1999 GMP
-Ardmore 1978/1999 Cad
-Springbank 18 OB 2009

A nice first tasting. We ended up spending much longer there than foreseen (mars would not stop bringing in more bottles and samples). Nice to get to try things by bottlers I do not readily have access to.

6 May 2014

27/04/2014 Youtube

dom666 listens to his music on Youtube, in a bid to be young, in and cool. This one is about marrying drams with songs (in English or French) by means of a good pun. Failing that, a bad one will do.
The suspects: JD, adc, ruckus, dom666, PSc, JS, kruuk2 and myself.

Stevie Springwood - Higher Love

Auchentoshan Springwood (40%, OB Exclusively for the Global Traveller, Bourbon casks) (JD): an alternative is Kylie Minogue - The Auchentoshan. Nose: green and vanilla-flavoured. Very good aperitive dram, great to start with on an empty stomach. Mouth: fresh and lively, with the slight bitterness of spring plants (I was not influenced by the name, honestly!) Finish: a tad drying, not challenging, yet pleasant. Green wood (hazelnut tree) and faint milk chocolate.

The following covers the next three drams.
Guns 'n Rosebank - Blad, Blad, Bladnoch and Mannochmore (because Dylan cannot sing it)

Rosebank 17yo 1991/2009 (46%, Speciality Drinks Single Malts of Scotland, Barrel C#2206, 259b) (JS): nose: the beauty of the Lowlands in a glass. Honey, meadow flowers, orchard fruit; this is formidable. Caramel (adc), chemicals, solvents (adc), citrus drops, candied, exotic fruit (pineapple, papaya). Not a fruit bomb, yet fruity enough. Mouth: sweet like honey, extremely quaffable. Finish: smooth and comforting, honeyed, flowery again, with a touch of coffee at the very end. 9/10

Bladnoch 1987/1999 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice) (JS): nose: sherry-like caramel, weathered leather and shoe polish. Roasted hazelnuts, roasted walnuts (JD), varnish. Apple peels and dried lemongrass (adc). Mouth: easy when it comes to the ABV. Flat cola and cough syrup. Finish: wood, some sherry influence. It seems pleasant, today, much more so than previous times. 6/10

In the middle of the song, food is served: bread rolls, blood and dried sausages (including a parmesan-coated one), cheeses (including a mighty Herve), sirop de Liège, meat balls, pâtés -- including a cracking mousse de canard, which prompts kruuk2 to do his own interpretation of La Danse Des Mousses De Canard

64.40 22yo 1990/2012 Gingery heat and oaky tannins (53.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill Bourbon Barrel, 172b) (me): nose: lots of sawdust, ginger splinters, cedar wood, coconut and mud. Mouth: slightly stripping, to tell the truth; polished coconut shells and a bit of varnish. Finish: coconut-filled milk chocolate (Bounty, then), cedar wood sheets, broomsticks. Drying (not overly so) and very good. A big hit and a lovely dram. 8/10

A combination known for its lethal effect on hotel rooms...
...and guests

Sylvie Vartan - La plus Balvenie pour aller danser

Balvenie 21yo Port Wood (40%, OB) (kruuk2): others take the Rum Wood to compare, I do not. Nose: swimming pool (JD), salty, briny, then moves towards polished furniture and dried fruit. Mouth: Dijon mustard and a vague acidity. Finish: a touch of jam (the port influence, probably), lots of pepper and some acidity again.

After I note that the salty, dried sausage is very hard, dom666 jokes that I am training for the forthcoming couques de Dinant.

Lou & The Hollywood Bananahabhain - Deanston, Deanston covers the next two drams

Bunnahabhain 29yo 1979/2009 (44.8%, Speciality Drinks Single Malts Of Scotland, Bourbon Barrel, C#28811, 205b) (dom666): nose: wood and banana, chewing gum. Mouth: oooh! dear. A nice, almost rummy banana juice with a certain bitterness and an overall dry feel. Finish: long, fiery and banana-y. Lovely. 8/10

Deanston 17yo (40%, OB, Amontillado casks, ca 2000) (dom666): nose: flat cola, diluted cough syrup, boiled sweets and the stringent and meaty side of sherry. Mouth: sweet, sweet, sweet. Gummy bears with some mocha chocolate. Finish: a vague, green bitterness and a blend of OXO broth and milk chocolate. 7/10

We reminisce of the previous tasting in this very venue:

me -We drank JD's two favourite whiskies.
JD   -Laphroaig 1974, Bowmore 1968. Too expensive.
me -The others are paying. You should enjoy them.
PSc -That is a Walloon thing, that. He is Flemish, so he wouldn't know.

Smashing Pumpkins - (Imperial) 1979

Imperial 1979/1998 (40%, GMP, IH/BDH) (PSc): nose: sea water (JD), bison herb (adc, who still thinks of Zubrowka vodka), coffee, caramel, then OXO broth. Mouth: much better than the nose -- balanced chocolate and fine mocha, well rounded. Finish: some wood, lots of caramel. A fine dram, though the nose does not do it for me. 6/10

Glen Morayhead - One Night in Springbangkok + The Latin Rascals - Arabian Knights covered by the next two

Glen Morayhead - One Night in Springbangkok
35.59 39yo 1971/2011 Arabian Nights (40.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill Bourbon Hogshead, 74b) (me): nose: brine, pickles, old leather sofas, cigar boxes, all very vivid. Wood undergrowth, dried fern. Mouth: honey, orange juice (the texture, most of all), a fantastic balance. Gentle spices (garam masala, ground cumin). Finish: an old man's dram -- a fireplace in the other room, tobacco and ashes, cedar wood, cigar boxes, burning cedar branches and noble, dark beer (Belgian, of course). Capital dram, this! 9/10

Springbank 18 b.2009 (46%, OB, 09/131) (me): nose: very shy, after the old one. Some faded tobacco, old leather seats in a convertible car. JD finds it quite medicinal. Mouth: now, it is back. Dark cherries, dried fruit, red chilli. Finish: red chilli, red capsicum, super long and pleasant, powerful without being invading. It does not shine so brightly, today, but I will be sad when it is gone. 8/10

Belinda Carlisle - Bunnahabhain is a Place on Earth

Bunnahabhain 42yo 1968/2011 (43.8%, Whisky-Faessle/Whiskybase)  (the group): nose: red fruit and lovely dunnage warehouse, paint (JD). Varnish indeed -- this is close to a grain, today. Mouth: a superb balance of dunnage warehouse, plants and dark fruit. Finish: blackberry, blueberry, blackcurrant and a faint bitterness again -- odd for a 42 year-old. JD does not care for it (too grain-like for him), while PSc, who has not tried it before, likes it. Yay. 9/10

Line Renaud - Glencadam au Canada

Hands on the buzzer...
Glencadam 34yo 1977/2012 (56.8%, Douglas Laing Old & Rare A Platinum Selection, Sherry Butt, 287b) (dom666): This one was a shining star at the Whisky Show, last year. Great to get to try it again. Nose: marzipan, flat cola and cold cough syrup. Overcooked croissant dough too. A farmyard whiff in the back. Mouth: superbly chocolaty, sticky, dense as fuck and balanced. Finish: this is a dessert wine, very dense again and full of very dark chocolate. It delivers a taste of lichen stuck on wood. Will have to try it again, yet I can safely say this is great. 9/10

Telex - Amrut pour de Nouvelles Aventures

Amrut 4yo 2009/2013 (62.8%, OB for Europe, ex-Bourbon American Oak Barrel C#3448) (ruckus): everyone is curious about this one. Firstly, we do not get Indian whiskies very often at these tastings. Secondly, we all have a bit of disbelief for it (prejudices, eh?) Thirdly, we had to put it in late in the line-up as it is so... undiluted! At a mere 62.8%, it is bound to become the choice alcopop for prepubescent girls around the world. Nose: marzipan (JD), unlikely woody, considering it is four years old. It smells toasted. And yes, the cask was toasted. Mouth: warm! Spicy. It becomes drying after a while and the 63% show. Finish: dark chocolate, invading and coating, but very well made. The strength is a little too obvious, perhaps. I forget to try it with water. This could have been "le dernier pour l'Amrut," but there are two more to go. 7/10

Georges Brassens - Les SaPort d'Hélène or Roch Voisine - Ellen

Port Ellen 28yo 1979/2007 Seventh Release (53.8%, OB, 5274b) (adc): we have not had a PE in a while and this is the first official bottling for the group. Nose: cockles, winkles, a fishing port, bullrush, bacon (JD), bacon chocolate (adc -- yes, it exists), kelp, wet mud, lichen, salt marshes and fishing nets. Mouth: we are on the beach. Kelp and sea spray aplenty, winkles, seaweed, then lots of light caramel takes over. Cured meat also rolls on the tongue. Finish: peat now speaks more openly. It is refined, but peaty, long and hot. A great Port Ellen indeed. 9/10

TLC - Ain't 2 Proud 2 Ardbeg

Ardbeg Corryvreckan (57.1%, OB, ca 2014) (JD): nose: tons of ash, burnt wood, burnt ginger bread, lemon juice. Mouth: hot and spicy (yes, those notes are succinct). Finish: super dark cherries on a very burnt griddled pie. 8/10

I finish a glass of Deanston 17, which still holds water, even after those monumental drams we just had.

Oh! and pie.
Excellent tasting, with good food, drams of an outstanding quality and terrible puns ahoy. We disband on the early side, as tomorrow is a school night for most.
La Cité Ardente

25/04/2014 An impromptu tasting

Psycho cannot make it to the tasting on Sunday, so he pops in today for a dram or two. Or ten.
Psycho, JS, adc and myself.

A tasting with no ambition whatsoever.

Littlemill 8yo (40%, OB, clear glass): nose: overly ripe fruit, raisins, fruit cake (Psycho), dark chocolate/orange PiM's. An interesting blend of wax and fruit -- peach jelly and a gentle whiff of smoke. Mouth: the texture is that of fruit juice, honeyed and acidic, with a drop of lemon juice (that'll be the Acidity, then). Finish: creamy, fruity. It then evolves towards bitter cream coffee and mild tobacco. A most unexpected configuration. Very interesting. 7/10

Formal dress mandatory

Littlemill 8yo (40%, OB, green glass): nose: rougher, dusty, with old newspaper and Calvados, believe it or not. Mouth: quite vinegary. Another strange combination, this time old books and peach stones, alongside green hazelnuts. Finish: milk chocolate with a coffee flavour. Less good, this one, though not bad either (thanks mars for both samples). 6/10

Tomatin 16yo 1995/2011 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail Exclusive for Inverness Airport, Refill Bourbon Barrel C#5128) (brought by me): nose: slightly acidic (Psycho), foot and camembert (adc), flowers about to wilt (peonies, to be precise), carnation in bloom. It finishes with ripe pears. Mouth: a little honey, flower juice, very refreshing. Finish: stringent, but also flowery and filled with honey.

Bladnoch 16yo 1991/2007 (51%, La Maison du Whisky Belgique Taste Still, C#8411, 126b) (me): it has been a while. Time to revisit it. Nose: leathery and as un-Bladnoch-y as can be. Fox skin, distant coffee, musk, wet alley cat (Psycho). Behind all that, strawberry, some wax -- one gets to wonder if this is not a mislabelled Clynelish! Mouth: creamy and peppery (Szechuan), still unlike any other Bladnoch, I think. Finish: sparkly and spritzy, Acidic (Psycho), with cola. Very nice, but an oddball. Mystic - Ritmo Del Bladnoche would work great on Sunday, but we have other plans. :-) 7/10

Five Lakes Canadian Whisky 3yo (40%, Five Lakes Blend, EMB 62140 549) (me): Canada law apparently allows blenders to use a certain percentage of other alcohol in the mix and still call it blended whisky. Crazy. This one reeks of rum, so go figure. Nose: rum, grain (JS). Chock full of cane sugar and woody rum. Psycho finds dry tree bark and Rhum Agricole (cane juice rum) in it. Mouth: sweet and gulpable. Syrup and rum again. Finish: long and sweet, syrupy (maple syrup, surely ;-) ) and pleasant. A drop of coffee complements the whole. More interesting than good (the Old Man of Huy is not a rum fan), but boy! is it interesting. Not ordinary, this. 5/10

Knappogue 36yo 1951/1987 (40%, Terra Knappogue Castle, Sherry Casks) (adc): the bottle is on its last leg, so great to try this Tullamore once more. Nose: grass, flint, wax, honey, then daffodils. The mini drop of Five Lakes that was likely still in the glass renders this even better than usual -- rounder and more enticing, with a note of lovely toffee. Mouth: thin and lively, with a very distant hint of brewing coffee. Finish: long and soothing, far from invading. Honey and toffee pudding. An outstanding dram, still. 8/10

5.31 11yo (57.7%, SMWS Society Cask, b.2011) (JS): one of Psycho's favourite distilleries, therefore it seems in order. Nose: ginger bread (Psycho), herbaceous, vanilla, varnish (adc). Mouth: gently spicy, creamy and coating. Pleasant alright, this. Finish: vanilla, pastry, herbs. Yep, good one. 7/10

76.82 15 yo (56.7%, SMWS Society Cask, b.2011) (JS): nose: smoked ham, butter caramel sweets (the golden, flat one in Quality Street tins). At second nosing, it smells of boats. The kind of tar they spread below the floating line to keep it waterproof, to be precise (adc). Mouth: jam, all of a sudden, with a dash of black pepper. Oily. Finish: pepper, wax, jam -- very, very good. 7/10

Banff 23yo 1976/2000 (55.5%, Signatory Vintage, C#2249) (me): nose: Psycho finds it volatile. It is light, orangey and ashy. Vegetable soup (Psycho specifies it is the green-tomato kind). More seriously, hay, hydrocarbon, an oil refinery (adc). Mouth: lovely marmalade with a hint of oil products (or is it mustard?) Good balance. This is lovely indeed, spicy and lively. Finish: yep, marmalade, kumquat and, on the sides of the tongue, Dijon mustard (the grainy kind). Preserved lemons, Moroccan citrons. What a drop this is! 9/10

Ardbeg 25yo Lord of the Isles (46%, OB, OB, L5 285 2138 4M1) (adc): nose: a campfire dying out (Psycho), dried dung (adc), the traditional Ardbeg barley and the extremely refined peat that one can only find in those Ardbeg from the 1970s. Dried lemon zest, damp coal (Psycho). Mouth: this is pornomaltic. A perfect balance of tame peat and basalmic vinegar (© Fixou). Finish: peat, sea salt, sea spray, brine, preserved lemons, pleasure. One of the few contemplative drams for me. I continue to think that those reduced small batches are superior to the single-cask Ardbeg from the same era. Let the shark fight over those. The only reason the Lord does not get top score from me is that it is not moreish -- a dram is enough. 9/10

Well, that was not so lightweight as anticipated. Great, relaxed session on the terrace, enjoying the sunshine.

And a chicken pie to boot, w00t!