28 July 2014

26/07/2014 Whiskaholics anonymous

Dear reader, are you wondering why I cut out faces from my pictures and why I do not disclose real names unless they are already public elsewhere? Easy: I never ask permission to take pictures or upload them. Some of my friend do not want to appear online, so everyone gets the same treatment. Ha! Now that has been cleared up, let us have a couple of anonymous drams -- drams from undisclosed distilleries, that is.

Mar Lodge 12yo 43%: nose: strong nose that gives scents of marmalade, stone fruits (peach, nectarines) and quince. It could very well be a quince-jelly croissant, as there is some bakery quality to it. In any case, I like it. In the back of the nose, dust and cardboard, which suggests it is a rather old bottling. White-plum waffle is the last thing that emerges. Mouth: medium body, more marmalade, then honey. The whole is well balanced and quite pleasant indeed. Finish: slightly bitter, with more notes of jam and marmalade, as well as old books, now. A pinch of tarragon too. Orange becomes prominent after a while. Not a spectacular malt by any means, yet an agreeable dram. My guess is it is from Speyside.

Old Man Of Hoy 10yo C#2003/HO8 55%: let us overlook the fact Mr. Tucek misspelt my name (it is Huy, not Hoy). This one is easier to guess, or at least to narrow down: only two active distilleries on Orkney; the cask number hints at the most famous too. Let us see... Nose: yes, it is a HP. Drying meat, mild peat smoke, yet instead of the traditional heather, this one reeks of forsythia branches on a fire. It gains some freshness from breathing a bit, but it never becomes tame, this one! Mouth: hot and spicy, though velvety at the same time -- sweet, even. Did I pour myself some souped-up Kashmir curry paste by mistake? Honey, sliced almonds and crushed cardamom pods. Finish: hot again, with ash, embers, spent garden fire, peat smoke and that honey again with an additional pinch of cardamom. A rather fiery HP, really. Wild and uncompromising. So wild I did not even think to add water. :-/

24 July 2014

20/07/2014 Teutonic tasting for National Day

This theme, we have wanted to implement for a while: whiskies whose names contain 'ach', 'ich', 'och' and so on. It is perhaps a strange theme for Belgian National Day, but well, Belgium has a German-speaking community, after all. And ze Germans love to stop there en route to France.
The suspects: PDG, JD + KD, adc, JS, dom666, Psycho and myself.

Goldlys 12yo Amontillado Finish (43%, OB, C#2634) (brought by JD): Belgian whisky for a German tasting? German is spoken in Belgium, it is National Day and we all want to try this anyway. Nose: boiled apples, chocolate. Mouth: caramel, more baked apples and chocolate. Sweet and silky, very nice, in fact. Finish: more of the same, pleasant indeed. 6/10

All sorts of marinated olives make their way to the table for those who have the munchies (everyone). In hindsight, it is a miracle no-one mentions brine, chilli or olive as a tasting note.

Caperdonich 12yo 1997/2009 Autumn Distillation (46%, Douglas McGibbon Provenance, Refill Hogshead, C#DMG5569 (brought by yours, truly): we had this one a couple of years ago. It is so in theme it hurts. Nose: dry and discreet, with wine grapes. Mouth: vanilla, with a slight bitterness. Creamy-ish, though not thick. Milky it is, then. Finish: strangely warming at 46%, with notes of bitter almonds, amaretti biscuits and a vague impression of mocha coffee. I have had better Caperdonich (this is no 1969, obviously), yet this is an honest 7/10.

Auchentoshan 18yo (43%, OB, b. ca 2014) (JD): theme deviation? Well, 'auch' is as German as 'aber,' oder? Nose: caramel and apple compote. Sirop de Li├Ęge (Psycho). Time makes it thicker, with notes of coffee or chocolate. Mouth: Acidic and woody, in a balanced way. Finish: yes, this becomes rather woody, with also notes of cola and root beer. JD and adc call it peppery; I find it sparkly. Another 7/10.

Those potatoes!
JD fires up the barbecue, then food starts to pour in. Sausages, skewers, lamb cutlets, steaks, ribs, Med-veg-salad, cucumber, toms, orzo with cherry toms, potatoes and more. To say we eat too much would be a euphemism.

BenRiach 1976/1991 (40%, Gordon  & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice) (me): nose: mmmmmh! (JS) Elegant! (PDG) I detect one thing only, one distinctive feature: chestnut paste. Mouth: creamy and caramelly, bittered up with almond skins. Finish: long and wide, creamy and almondy. This is not the fruit bomb the vintage would have suggested and that is probably why it is so poorly rated online. A pleasant dram all the same, subtle and quite complex. 8/10

Mortadellach 13yo 1999/2012 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Hogsheads, C#7898+7899, 882b) (PDG): nose: peach, custard and a herb -- which one? Coriander? Parsley? Perhaps a dash of lime too. Mouth: peachy and sparkly. Finish: long, warming. This remains fruity and balanced. Great surprise from this so-called budget collection. Dram of the day for adc and others. Not the best dram for me, but the quality-to-expectations ratio is particularly good. 7/10

Family portrait
Mortlach 1984/1995 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Centenary Reserve) (me): yep, managed to find one of those babies. Nose: very closed and austere at first -- dust, cardboard, dusty shelves. Psycho finds it fresh and pepperminty. With time, it ends up revealing pear, though it never becomes invading. Mouth: superbly milky. Finish: peach, though not as pronounced as C#7898+7899. It seems very shy -- to the point dom666 reckons it is faded, or evaporated. Quite possibly. Will have to try it again in other circumstances before rating it. In any case, it is not the killer one could have hoped for.


Mortlach 16yo (43%, OB Flora & Fauna, L8296CM000 / 05453335) (dom666): nose: brandy, walnut liqueur. There is even a hint of tropical fruit, in the distance, before it dies out in a whiff of coffee. KD is a coffee enthusiast and likes this one best, while most others prefer C#7898+7899. Mouth: as bitter as almond milk, coffee-like, chocolatey. Surprisingly, it is not meaty, today. Finish: very dark chocolate, now, coating and invading. I had not had this one for a while (at least a couple of years) and like it a lot better than then. 7/10

Psycho also has no fear
with his camouflaged hat
Blend of all three: no fear! Nose: distant coffee, milk chocolate. A bit of breathing helps pineapple emerge. Mouth: it has now become plain pineapple juice in texture, and pretty close in taste. Lovely drop. Finish: pineapple with cocoa shavings. The F&F 16yo might dominate a bit (no pipette to gauge), yet this is a rather successful blend. 7/10

The GlenDronach 15yo Revival (46%, OB, LD 30712) (Psycho): I finally get to try this dram everyone seems to rave about. Supposedly, it is the heavily sherried, entry-level whisky with the best quality-to-price ratio. Amusing anecdote: JD bought one for the occasion and Psycho brought the same bottle (a different batch). Nose: sherry!! No joking! In no particular order: meat, a whiff of of rubber, nut liqueur. Mouth: bitter and meaty, in a subtle way. Finish: very sweet, now, full of corn syrup. This is nice and I understand why it is popular, though it is not exactly my style. I prefer the Allardice, personally. JD is gutted: it is not his thing and he has a full bottle.

Dessert is served: vanilla ice cream, augmented with home-made chocolate coulis. Finger-licking good!

While we are having heavily-sherried whiskies, we decide to give this next one a go, when JD realises it is a good opportunity to flog it.

Wambrechies 12yo (43%, OB) (JD): it even fits the theme (brechen is German for break). Nose: coffee! Quite powerful, this. Again, not necessarily my favourite style (too sherried), but quite interesting. Mouth: more coffee and dark cocoa. Finish: long, full of coffee, super dark chocolate and the bitterness of orange peel. Not bad. Goes well with vanilla ice cream and chocolate coulis. :-) 5/10

The ladies all pass out in hammocks and sun chairs.

Pittyvaich 20yo 1989/2009 (57.5%, OB, 6000b) (me): this was a hit on the other side of the Channel, time to spread the joy. Nose: vanilla and balsa wood, pears. It is getting a bit late for notes, I am afraid, but this is as good as in April. Mouth: loads of lemon or lime, now. Feels quite acidic. This is the first (and only) cask strength dram of the day, which might underline that characteristic. Finish: long and powerful, with lime and verbena. Good. 8/10

Ardbeg Lord of the Heil (46%, OB, L3170 1209 4ML) (dom666): yes, we dared. Nose: farmyard scents ahoy. This is wildly different to adc's and smells of cow dung. Me? I am a country boy, so I love it. There is a sprinkle of lemon juice as well. Mouth: it becomes zesty and lemony and, to be honest, it bites harder than expected. Finish: sharp and precise, lemony for a bit, then peat smoke comes out for good. I prefer adc's, yet this is a great dram, of course. 8/10

dom666 shows unusual care with this bottle

Pleasant afternoon in a new location. The food was particularly to my liking. The drams were not as impressive as they have been, yet remained consistently good. The weather was less atrociously warm than the previous day and therefore a lot more agreeable. All in all, another great tasting with good friends.

Whachuwant, human?

8 July 2014

05/07/2014 July outturn a tthe SMWS

We went to the outturn preview tasting last week, but only had time for a couple of drams. Besides, it is always nice to bring friends to the Society and if there is cheese as a bonus, how could one resist? Granted, there is not enough cheese for everyone, due to a late order and a cock-up on their end. Ah, well.
The difficult part is to choose

95.17 23yo d.1990 Goooaaalll!!!! (49.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 66b): Auchroisk is not a common sight by any stretch, let alone a Society bottling of it. Exciting! Nose: bakery flavours aplenty. Yellow stone fruit (peach), then clean socks, line drying. Mouth: soft and mellow, peachy. Velvety on the sides of the tongue. Finish: more peach, flowers. Water mutes it, at first, then it becomes even fruitier, with lots of peach and apricot goodness. Lovely dram! 8/10

39.100 23yo d.1990 Exotic contradictions (57.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 204b): nose: this one seems quite meaty, initially, then it evolves towards turmeric and cumin, marinated meat, herbes de Provence, BBQ-herbs mix. Mouth: silky at first, but actually rather spicy and peppery. Finish: an unexpected cascade of pepper-coated fruit. A superb Linkwood, close in quality to the fabulous 26 RMS. 8/10

73.65 24yo d.1985 Tarts in a tea house (55.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 377b): this comes recommended by the staff. Nose: very meaty, leathery, with a good dose of black shoe polish. Water makes it extremely sherried. The mouth is nicely balanced. Finish: quite anaesthetising, even diluted. With water: rotting meat, mouthwash, industrial cleaner. 6/10

76.116 26yo d.1987 Tangier market (48.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 193b): nose: cut apples -- the crisp kind. Mouth: tickling on the tip of the tongue. Finish: bang! Explosive first, before it becomes fruity and honeyed. This is good! 8/10

And what a name!
2.87 21yo d.1992 Satisfying as a butcher's blade (51.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 194b): my nose is clogging up, now, but I still detect apples and some kind of leaves. Mouth: warming and comforting; relaxing, even. Finish: chocolaty, with a sprinkle of flat cola. In fact, this reminds me of hot pig blood.

4.187 14yo d.1999 Let the magic unfold (58.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 189b)(idealrichard): nose: very light peat and that absolutely lovely heather. Mouth: a good balance of warming whisky with that superb, heathery touch. Violets? Yes! Violet sweets. Finish: long, lingering and full of violet sweets. Nice! 8/10

G7.3 27yo d.1984 Fresh toffee and glossy magazines (59.4%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 234b) (MS): MS is a Bourbon drinker. The grains seem like the best way to go, in his case. Nose: bakery, pine dust. Old books become more prominent (them leather bindings, innit). We are talking about books that were hand-copied by monks -- probably cistercian, though they might have been benedictine. MS becomes all poetic about it and explains how the books are from a shelf left untouched for years, while the room is dimly lit. Mouth: balance of dust and bakery flavours. Finish: long, warming and a bit drying. 8/10
Cheese is good

35.114 19yo d.1994 A southern gentleman (58.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st fill Toasted Oak Hogshead, 241b) (idealrichard): nose: glossy magazine covers, then hospital cleaning agents. Kind of fruity too (white grape juice with a dash of blackberry in it). Mouth: very slightly bitter, white grape juice again. It is pretty soft, with an underlying heat. Blackberries emerge after a moment. Finish: blackcurrant, now (was it all along?), with a twist of black pepper. Another beautiful Society Glen Moray. 8/10

G4.5 34yo d.1979 Sweet and spicy (50.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 205b) (MS): nose: coconut, vanilla, comic books (!) and a bowl of cereals (not sure which, but not Quaker Cruseli). Mouth: smooth and silky, it develops spices very late and even blackcurrant, after a full minute in. Finish: it is a proper blackcurrant explosion, now! It tastes like an Invergordon! MS being from across the Pond, he finds it akin to a blueberry muffin. 8/10

1.181 11yo d.2002 Vintage car in a rose-garden (56.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 231b) (MS): nose: a vintage car that has not been used much. I do not try it. MS tells me he is not fond of it.

9.86 16yo d.1997 Sangria on the terrace (55.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 291b) (MS): nose: candy and bay leaves. Bubblegum and apple (MS). A strange combination. Mouth: steeping leaves, minty infusion. Finish: long and becoming very minty, still giving away a few bay leaves, perhaps. 7/10
More cheeez

G4.6 18yo d.1988 Ray Mears' Digestif (55.4%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 268b) (MS): I recommend one of the G3, what with it being a closed distillery, a 34 year-old and an older bottling. PS (who is obviously there too) jumps in and convinces MS to go for G4.6 instead, a younger expression of G4, which was such a hit with MS. Nose: sawdust and band aids. MS finds pineapple and latex, while I detect some metallic notes. Mouth: thin, quite fruity (apples, pears), with a hint of medical instruments. Finish: herbs and vanilla. 7/10

MS jokes about G6 a lot. I am disappointed there is no Port Dundas available today, but he is talking about a song that I don't know (nor want to, probably).

7.101 10yo d.2003 Playing with Colours (60.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1sr fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 233b) (me): nose: flowers alongside an undistinguishable fruit. Mouth: a bit shambolic, yet it still holds water, somehow. Perhaps a bit young is all. Finish: lively as hell, with herbs (verbena). JS finds it buttery. It is too young for me and certainly not the best Longmorn the Society has ever bottled. 6/10

36.77 17yo d.1996 Wee secrets of flavour (59.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 218b) (JS): nose: pear compote with just one acidic apple in the mix. Vanilla also emerges after a while. Mouth: punchy and spicy, fiery, even, as well as fruity. Finish. a strange combination of cut apple and tobacco. It works. 7/10

Great session, pleasant times.
Even some undistilled beer