18 August 2014

16/08/2014 Whiskies for puffs

Who have we not yet offended? Races? Check. Religious groups? Check. Men in uniforms? Check. Women of the opposite sex? Check. Ah! Got it! We sort of beat around the sexual orientation bush (ho-ho-ho), but never really addressed it. Or did we? Well, not in a long time. At least not this month. If we did I cannot remember.
The theme was relatively open to interpretation. Anything below 50%, for example, as some (snobs) would not consider it manly enough. Fruity whiskies, since clichés tell us men drink hard booze, while anyone drinking fruit juice is effeminate. You get the picture, hopefully. All that because, when this was planned, the date, in the middle of the summer, suggested high temperatures.

The suspects: adc, mpd, Psycho, ruckus, sonicvince, dom666, JS and myself.

For real, yo!

Irish Mist Honey Liqueur (35%, OB, ca 2014) (dom666): wow, this is as unmanly as it gets. It has all the subtlety of a Liberace outfit too. Nose: super sweet. Honey (no shit, Sherlock), some herbs, genepy, lemon (adc). Mouth: super sweet (again). Close to mead, extremely syrupy and flowery. Finish: this is like drinking cough syrup -- but good cough syrup. Pleasant, though not something to drink litres of. Recipe for a headache, this is. 5/10

Can we start, already?
The Tyrconnell (40%, OB, ca 2013) (adc): this is a sure shot, a crowd-pleaser, even. Nose: fresh and flowery, full of meadow flowers, in fact. Also gives away herbs and a little touch of very milky chocolate. Mouth: metallic, strangely enough. First time it ever does that to me. A note that I associate with Tullamore more than Cooley. sonicvince finds it medicinal -- he just swallowed a painkiller, however. Verbena is present too. Finish: overripe apples with a drop of peach juice. It impresses me less than usually, yet remains a good whisky. 7/10


Psycho explains
Slaney Malt 11yo 2001/2013 (57%, Adelphi Limerick Selection, Refill ex-Bourbon, American Oak Barrel C#9929, 235b) (JS): same distillery, which is why we have them back-to-back. This one is way above the 50% ABV, yet it is so fruity it can hardly be called manly. Nose: tropical fruit, overripe fruit and coffee (sonicvince, clearly becoming nuts). ruckus finds it sparkly in the nose, while I detect some vanilla. sonicvince comes to his senses and admits the so-called coffee is, in fact, hazelnut -- hazelnut paste, actually. The discussion moves to palm oil, since so much of it ends up in hazelnut paste produced by well-known brands. Mouth: peach-stone bitterness, lisomucil (sonicvince and ruckus, clearly off their rockers), fruit juice. Fruit? Citrus, to be clear, and grapefruit, to be precise. Finish: overripe fruit again, tainted by a slight woodiness. Less tropical fruit than previous times (passion fruit was in the foreground), still a great dram. 9/10

Team Glenglassaugh reprazent, yo!
Inchmurrin 20yo (40%, OB for Spanish market) (me): I cannot remember ever trying an Inchmurrin. Certainly not with this group, in any case. At a mere 40%, this is clearly in theme. Plus, it should be light and fresh. Nose: butter chicken!! Butter caramel, says adc (the round, flat sweets in a Quality Street tin). There is also a whiff of nail polish. An oddball. Last year's Croftengea was a full-on roasted chicken, this one is a full-on butter chicken (it is a nice Balti dish, look it up); what are they doing, at Loch Lomond? Mouth: milky, metallic, creamy as a flan (JS), rice pudding (JS, in dessert mode). Finish: lots of metallic notes, now, as well as quince (mpd). It is long and rather pleasant. Good whisky, interesting, yet it will not seduce everyone. 7/10

Knockando 25yo 1980/2005 (48.3%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, Oak Cask C#1908, 260b) (Psycho): another delicate and effeminate dram, this. We have not had it for a while. Nose: all sorts of flowers, cut pears and quince in a bath of hot milk, augmented with old brandy. Discreet, but oh! so nice. Mouth: milky, with woody tones (pine splinters) and a faint bitterness. Finish: long and fruity (peach), with also wood, vanilla and coconut. Wood-driven whisky, superbly made. Dram of the day for me, I think. 9/10

We move on to the next room for food: a ton of spaghetti al ragú. Marvellous. We all eat way too much. In fact, JS is close to illness. I do not feel too proud myself, but hey! it was worth it. :o)

Aberfeldy 1999/2014 (46%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice) (ruckus): nose: walnut husk, nuts, polished wood, dried peach, a chesterfield sofa with lacquered, wooden arms. This is rather manly, to some extent. We will drink it anyway! Mouth: powerful and creamy, close to custard in texture. Finish: soft and creamy, with custard, chocolate pudding and a few drops of peach juice, as well as super-dark cocoa beans. I cannot claim huge familiarity with Aberfeldy, but the few I have tried have been very nice indeed. 8/10

Tomatin 35yo 1978/2013 (44.1%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Hogsheads, 594b) (me): this is low strength, fruity, and there is little of it left. Must share it. Nose: pepper (Psycho), flowers (ruckus), overripe fruit (dom666), marzipan-like -- but not marzipan (ruckus). It is strawberry bubblegum, you fools! A tiny scent of dunnage warehouse, maybe. Mouth: juicy fruit cascade. This is extraordinary. Finish: more juicy fruit, with wood shavings. What is it? A fleeting gasp of passion fruit! And peach pulp. Wunderbar! Had this been a surprise for me, it would likely be my dram of the day. But yeah, I know it quite well. 9/10

Invergordon 37yo 1972/2009 (46.6%, Càrn Mòr Celebration of the Cask, Bourbon Barrels C#60478+63675, 259b) (JS): a grain is precisely what we need to reset our palates, so the following have a chance to shine, after the Tomatin. Nose: bakery, with burnt caramel in the back. Mouth: creamy custard and light chocolate mousse. Finish: More bakery goodness, with a dash of that typical blackcurrant. Wonderful grain, this. 8/10

Balblair 1989 3rd release (46%, OB, ex-Bourbon Barrels) (sonicvince): another light and soft one. Nose: lemon juice, calamantsi. Quite straightforward, but good (provided you like lemon). Mouth: Acidic, as in: milk, peppered with lemon juice. Finish: long, Acidic, slightly drying, with lemon and green wood. Good, this. 8/10

By this point, some see it like this.
Dessert time. No-one is completely up for it, since we are still so full of pasta, but now seems appropriate. It is the usual.

'nuff said!
Glenmorangie 10yo (43%, OB, b. ca 1985) (Psycho): ignore the fact it is also light and soft; this one spells it out for you: 43° GAY LUSSAC. That is as gay as it gets. No matter, this bottle is legendary in our little circle and we are all excited to try it once more.  Nose: interestingly, there is a note of leather and black shoe polish, this time. Plants and flowers, decanting in a gardener's hotchpotch. Mouth: spicy, with black pepper and black cardamom(-osexual). Finish: super dark chocolate, tar, linseed oil and shoe polish. The bottle is half empty; all that air has released the war-ready Highlander in this one. It used to be all light and flowery, but it is no more. This could now ruffle feathers with the bolder Invernessian tripplets, I feel. Dram of the day for adc, yet it is hard to say what part emotion plays in that choice. For me? 8/10

dom666: "J'aimais pas la poule de ma grand'mère. J'aime la poule de ma mère. Mais ma grand'mère cuisinait comme un pied."

me: "Regarde comme elle est fourbe!"
JS: "Fourbe?"
ruckus: "C'est un croisement entre 'fou' et 'tourbe'."
me: "C'est quelqu'un qui boit trop d'Ardbeg."

Bruichladdich XVII 17yo (46%, OB, ca 2002, 02-8143 2344) (dom666): nose: some sea air, but this one seems mostly spent -- there is barely enough left to fill everyone's glass. Mouth: more robust than the previous drams, this. Fortunately, it still retains some taste, mostly sea spray. Finish: yep, spent. Brine, sea spray and a bit of earth. The level in this one really has been too low for too long. It is mostly evaporated.

sonicvince wants to leg it. ruckus, who also has to be dropped at the station, wants to tag along. I had other plans, which now need rushing.
Firstly, I pour dom666 a Longmorn 1996/2008 (57.9%, BBR for la Maison du Whisky, C#56788), since he claimed earlier this week to never have had a bad Longmorn. He agrees this one is not good at all. And that, dear reader, is why I use it for cooking.
To give it a ridiculously strong opponent and put it out of its misery, we open this at the same time:

I wish I was a fisherman
Tumblin' on the seas
Far away from dry land
And its bitter memories
Longmorn Centenary 25yo (45%, OB, b.1994): when they see the bottle, the two deserters decide to stay a wee while longer. sonicvince breaks the cork with his traditional daintiness: first time for him -- it had to be that of the most expensive bottle we have bought as a group. Luckily, we manage to fish out the pieces. dom666 happens to have brought shiny new stoppers, one of which is put to immediate good use. Take that, bad luck! Now, where were we? sonicvince and ruckus taste it quickly before making a move. Judging by their giggles, it is probably OK... Nose: PHWOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRR! :-O Banana, peach, grapefruit, pomelo, orange blossom, a touch of cola, marzipan. adc finds it close to the Invergordon, while Psycho finds it Acidic. I find it bloody good indeed. Mouth: fruit juice, all sorts of jams, delicate marmalade, fruity custard, happiness. Finish: long and soft, full of fruit, ... what is this? Green tea? A hint of beeswax too. dom666 finds it astringent. Naturally, with 11 drams in the gob, it is pointless to try and write objective, insightful notes, but wow, just wow! Unbelievable, this. My expectations were high (I dreamt of it the whole night, the previous night) and they were met, maybe exceeded. Exuberant, without ever being tout. It takes a 1964 Bowmore to exceed this level of quality. A moving dram. 10/10

The Cure - Disintegration
Excellent tasting, full of laughs, good food and great whiskies -- including a few good surprises. Shame the weather was too variable to dip into the swimming pool (by the time it became acceptable, we were so full, we would have drowned).

Today is also the day www.whiskogs.com goes down forever, bringing an eight-year adventure to a close. Heartfelt thanks to all who contributed through the years. It was a hard decision to make, but I had to make it. Trying that Longmorn made it less sour.

13 August 2014

12/08/2014 Celebrating my aunt's birthday... without her

Any excuse, right?

BenRiach 1969 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, b.early 1990s): nose: dust, as in most old bottlings. Underneath it, peach and pink grapefruit. Honeysuckle, acacia honey, wood shavings and wood varnish complete the picture. Were it a little less shy, this nose would be stellar. As it is, it is "only" magnificent. Mouth: despite the low ABV, it strikes a good balance of milky fruit juice and freshly-ground, black pepper. Grapefruit goodness (ie Acidity) whispers in the back as well, which gives this one unexpected depth and complexity. Finish: superb. Simply superb. Black pepper and red chilli (let us face it, though: it is nowhere near naga strength; probably a measly 5000 SHU, at best) support grapefruit rinds, with an additional touch of vanilla custard and peach juice, with floating peach stones (that will be a slight bitterness, then). Exquisite dram, really. 9/10

08/08/2014 Aperitive at the SMWS

Our friends happen to live very close to the Edinburgh members' room. Would it not be insulting not to go? I agree.

Snap it up
35.122 12yo d.2001 Perfumed lady at a garden fête (57.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, first-fill ex-Bourbon barrel, 245b) (JS): we missed this one last week. Nose: citrusy and spicy, as well as pretty woody. Mouth: very, very citrusy -- Acidic, in fact. Finish: feels like cola, now, long and pleasant. 7/10

59.20 20yo 1981/2002 (58.3%, SMWS Society Cask) (me): good to get to try an old bottle, especially an American bottling from yesteryears, even though I realise later I have already had this one. Nose: wood juice, then coffee and mocha-flavoured chocolate. Later on, custard graces the woody tones. Mouth: flat Fanta (the orange one), blueberry coulis. Amazing, this. Finish: not invading at all, but it has this lingering blueberry coulis aftertaste, which, I must say, does it for me. Like it a lot better than the first time. 8/10 (or is it 9?)

Ooooh! Beer!
121.73 14yo d.1999 A layered sponge fruit cake (55.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 299b) (MD): nose: hay, cut pears and peaches. Mouth: very slightly fizzy, warming and honeyed. Finish: honey, honeysuckle and woody goodness. What a great distillery Arran has become! 8/10

The Old Man of Huy does not drink beer.
But he will try yours from time to time.
36.73 22yo d.1991 Tired vampire gets a massage (54.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 255b) with water (DD): nose: ginger beer, haystacks. Mouth: balanced, pleasant and seductive. Almost silky. Finish: cinnamon aplenty, speculoos spice mix with a pinch of toasted coconut shavings. 7/10

64.52 23yo d.1990 Sweet toothed, tap dancing, Cuban (56.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 190b) (MD + DD): nose: flavoured custard. With what? Sage and thyme, I would say. Mouth: creamy. reminiscent of the nose (sage and thyme custard, innit), with even a hint of verbena. Finish: long and warming. The sweat from the elbow of a guy who's been pumping iron with one arm. M+D are well into the silly tasting notes (D has been taking pictures of loads of them) and come up with their own. 8/10

26.93 28yo d.1984 Cottage garden beside a church (56.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill Sherry Butt, 352b) (JS and me): nose waxeeeeeey! Hot candle wax, wooden-floor oil. Some of my co-tasters find a whiff of peat fire, yet it is very subtle. Mouth: chewy fruit (peach gum?), wax, honey, beeswax and a touch of candle wick. Finish: a cavalcade of beeswax, with a fanfare of chewy stone fruit to complement it. 8/10

The Old Man of Huy high-fives you
DD has been claiming for years she hates whisky so much and it distresses her, because she sees there is so much to it, yet it makes her sick. One could not tell by looking at her having a lot of fun, trying them all and liking most of them. Ha!
Gone are the live music and the iPod players from last time. Yay!

12 August 2014

07/08/2014 Barge tasting

JollyToper advertised this one months ago. What the theme means? Five drams from distilleries facing a canal. All closed. On a canal barge. Departing from Linlithgow.
Needless saying I hesitated for about .000000000000000000000000000001ms. In fact, I did not even realise until a couple of weeks ago that it is bang in the middle of the Fringe, meaning accommodation could have been a stumbling block. Fortunately, having friends pays off, sometimes. :-)

The train to Linlithgow is quick and comfortable enough, if crowded during rush hour. We take the opportunity to socialise with the organiser's acolyte. We arrive to our destination almost an hour early; not enough time to do visit in-depth (plus everything is shut in the evening and we have already been there), so we and most of the other tasters on the same train go for a drink. Yes. Scapa 2001/2010 GMP it is -- light and flowery, perfect aperitive. We chat briefly with others.

The Holy Land
Time flies by and we soon need to get going. While the small group of our co-tasters turn right after the bridge, we turn left. They indicate to us that we are in the wrong. We know the way; it simply would be blasphemous to come here without paying a visit to St Magdalene distillery is all. They all seem to not notice it. Heretics.

We reach the barge a few minutes later, last, but on time. There, JollyToper is completing his preparatives. We bump into the Whisky Cyclist, a Londoner visiting for the Whisky Fringe and taking the opportunity.

Time passes, we are still on the quay, waiting to get in. Since we are on a rather tight schedule, JollyToper starts circulating the first glasses.

Yeah, baby! Yeah!

St Magdalene 26yo 1982/2008 (50%, DL Old Malt Cask 50°, Refill Butt DL REF 4712): JT had huge difficulties sourcing a St Magdalene for this tasting, he says. One of the tasters offered this one in extremis. I am very glad, as I have never had it before. Nose: austere! Flinty, mineral and also quite herbaceous with a touch of honey. Old-school and lovely. The nose becomes citrusy, after a while. Mouth: austere again, full of flint and cold embers. Finish: soothing and comforting, with ashes and dried herbs. I save some for last and it still holds up after all the others. Amazing. Dram of the day. 9/10

Outdoor nosing
I ask our new friends what they think about it: they are conquered. One of them, a Japanese guy who had never heard of Edinburgh before this trip, reckons it is the best whisky he has ever had. They ask me about the distillery; I tell them we are a few hundreds of metres from it: we were taking pictures of it when they tried to bring us back on the right track. Who's laughing now, eh?

Poor Alfred Barnard gets the JT treatment
Rosebank 12yo (43%, OB Flora & Fauna): this one, I am disappointed in. It is a great dram -- simply, with so many Rosebanks to choose from, I was hoping it would be one I do not already know. Nose: honeysuckle aplenty, with an additional touch of honey. It becomes more buttery towards the end, yet it remains light and flowery. Mouth: the word "smooth" was invented for this. Quaffable in the extreme, honeyed and silky. Finish: abundantly flowery, augmented with rose water and honey again. Very different to the first (the StM was more complex), yet this is pure pleasure in a glass. 8/10 (or is it 9?)

Here is a clue.
For each dram, JollyToper gives a brief overview.
JT -This is on the same canal as the previous one.
A -No! It's the other one!
B -Someone should build a big wheel to connect the two! Anyone has any ideas?

While we were all tasting, chatting, writing notes, taking pictures and nibbling, JT and his acolyte were trying to find out where our captain is. We are still on the quay, which means it is not really a barge tasting, so far.
Fortunately, at this time, a stand-in captain is found. We all board the vessel and off we go. 45 minutes late, though, which means our excursion will not be as long as planned.

Port Dundas 25yo 1988/2014 (46%, Cad Small Batch, 246b): first dram indoors, then. Nose: ginger bread, marzipan ('It's Prosper,' says JS -- 'Le Roi du Pain d'Epice,' for those who know). Bakery scents, a hint of dark fruit, muffins, toffee and finally, butter scones. Mouth: this seems quite thin (it is "only" 46% after all), but it delivers dark fruit, after a while, as well as a little maple syrup. Finish: yes, typical bakery nonsense, with ginger bread and blackcurrant muffins. Love it, though the mouth prevents me from scoring it more generously. 7/10

Believe it or not, those kayakers overtook us
Dusk is slowly coming, now, while the mood is more and more relaxed. Enthusiastic conversations start everywhere, between all tasters. JollyToper has a hard time making silence for each dram introduction, but it does not matter. We are a merry barge alright.

Littlemill 21yo 1992 (56.3%, Hannah Whisky Merchant Lady of the Glen, 320b): not sure JT gives an introduction at all, for this one, other than a pronunciation lesson. Lah'lmull it is, more or less, which amuses the crowd a lot. Nose: honestly, I have had better Littlemills. This one is full of leather and subtle, stale butter. It morphs into heavy citrus (lime, preserved lemons) and becomes a lot more appealing. Mouth: a lime deluge! Acidic in full. Akin to a cocktail of milk, honey and lime. Finish: wow, this is interesting. Lime and nectarine, now (JS). The pace is a bit too quick for proper notes, not to mention there is not enough water to keep my head cool. All the same, the finish is the strongest feature by far. So unusual is it that this dram deserves an extra point. 8/10
Easy rider

Hot stuff! Coming through!
The River Avon
Leaving us on the kerb
After trawling alongside the sluggish canal, the barge now reaches a dramatic point of its course (which also distracts us from the drams): the aquaduct over River Avon. There, we disembark, enjoy the last sunrays, chat and share impressions, while the barge turns around. We will not go to the Falkirk wheel -- a shame, but this was worth it as it is.

We hop back on and head for the Linlithgow Canal Centre. We need a dram for comfort -- luckily, someone has precisely what we need.

JT -The next one, Glen Vor... Glen Mor... but I think it's Glen Phwoar!

JT -The water came from Loch Ness, so you're actually drinking Monster Pish.

Glen Mhor 30yo 1982/2012 (54.1%, Cadenhead's, 198b): this one is probably the main reason I am here. Remember my fascination for the Invernessian tripplets? This one came out a couple of years ago, but is still available in some shops (at the time of tasting); the price tag is high for a punt and the comments online are not very good at all. Good that we get the chance before it is but a sour memory. Ha! Nose: ginger, wooden furniture (JS), something mineral -- moss on an old stone, I say. It settles for ginger beer. What a lovely nose, old school as I like them. Mouth: stone fruit in the back of the mouth, mostly peach, with the texture of almond milk. Finish: cola, barley, ginger beer. I love this one, as does everyone on the boat. I manage to grab a bottle the following day at the shop. There were only four left and a long waiting list as a result of this tasting. Yay. 9/10

If you catch a fish, carry it like this!

We still have a wee distance to go and nothing left to drink. A fellow taster produces a bottle and JollyToper pours it to everyone. Everyone but our table, that is. He sits down at another table and starts a long chatter session. I nag and he pours some to us as well. Perhaps I should have let it go...

Mortlach 25yo 1988/2014 (56.8%, Cadenhead's, Sherry cask, 576b): nose: funky (JS), salt and vinegar crisps (JS), fish and chips with malt vinegar, salt, and pine needles in the back. Mouth: buttery, with more malt vinegar. This is quite abrasive, full of brine and pickles, now. Finish: not very pleasant, really. The alcohol is not too well integrated and it is quite buttery. Not my style and, from some of the reactions, I doubt I am the only one to think that way. Regardless, thank you, anonymous co-taster, for offering this one. 5/10

We eventually reach the Canal Centre and proceed to the station, a short walk away. The train picks us up a minute later and off we go.
Chatting to other tasters on the train, some traveller who happens to be there sees how pleased we are and starts taking notes about those tastings, the shop the guys work at and so on. Unexpectedly funny.
Our new Japanese friend thinks we are the same age, which amuses me greatly (the cue is in my name: the Old Man of Huy).
Once in Waverley, we talk with yet another group, one member of which used to work at Bruichladdich and is about to leave to Tasmania to distill whisky. Interesting lot.

The following morning, my head is unfortunately not in a good shape. As said above, the shambolic pace in the beginning and the lack of water are something I was not prepared for. Other than that, great tasting!

4 August 2014

02/08/2014 August outturn at the SMWS

The suspects: MS, MJ, JS, myself, as well as all the regulars and manager JMcG, who, we learnt earlier, is leaving the Society in a week or two to embark a new adventure. Well, that calls for a celebratory dram, does it not? But first, the new list. Both MS and MJ decide to follow our lead and order the same, at least in the beginning.

50.55 23yo d.1990 High class luxury (53.9%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 70b): a new Lowlander is always a time to rejoice. We cannot not try it. Nose: vanilla and gingerbread, toffee and caramel (MJ), blackcurrant tart and green olives in brine. An unusual combination. I like it. With water, coffee, blackcurrant and raisins. Mouth: sweet and syrupy with a light bitterness. With water: it remains quite hot, with notes of dry sherry or Madeira. Finish: raisins, molasses; this is sweet and never-ending -- not too far from a bourbon, in fact, which might explain why MS likes it so much. After a while, the sweetness makes room for a distinct dryness. The whole thing becomes very warm and powerful. Rancio sherry, according to the tasting notes (I know nothing about sherry, you see). A great sherried dr... Wait! This is a bourbon cask!? Even the official notes hint at a sherry maturation. Everyone else in the room agrees. Puzzling. In any case, good dram, but the latest offerings were more convincing. 7/10

Since we were a bit short on cheese last time, MS brought cheese and crackers as Vorspiel to the plates of... cheese and crackers we will get whenever we are ready. A blue, one with a slightly softer paste and one that is wrapped in garlic leaves. Lovely. The crackers are excellent too!

59.49 30yo d.1983 Celebration in a glass (49.2%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 196b): this is the expensivest and venerablest of the lot, this month. Nose: WOOD! Lots of herbs too. What have we got? Citronella, nettles (it does not sting, fortunately), lemon thyme, hints of verbena, maybe tarragon, even. Lovely nose. After a while, butter comes up. Water renders it a little fruitier -- nothing exuberant, mind. Mouth: balsa wood, sawdust, wood shavings, sour milk (!). With water, the balance is better, as in: the wood is less invading, yet we all feel it loses its interesting features. Finish: rather hot too, this, as well as woody -- drying, even. Water turns it into milky wood. This is an alright dram, though none of us is overly seduced. Of course, it is good to get a Teaninich (not a usual sight), yet I expected more of a thirty-year-old. 7/10

9.89 25yo d.1988 Balanced and harmonious (57.5%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 516b): nose: the alcohol is very present, here. Behind it are farmyard scents and stale butter (for those who like that). When all that disappears, stone fruit come up (peach and apricot). Water brings out a dusty cardboard profile. Mouth: thin, woody and hot. With water: oooh! a lot better, now, with notes of ripe cherries and a pinch of ginger. Finish: dry, super-strong white wine, peach pieces in a glass of kir and a big dose of vanilla. With water: lots of black pepper, barbecue sauce... Cherry-flavoured barbecue sauce, to be accurate. This one is ok, we are not too enthusiastic about it. 6/10

39.101 23yo d.1990 Sophisticated adult sweetness (46.9%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 243b) (MJ): nose: decaying grapes that morph into very dry hay and finish with honeysuckle. Mouth: plant-stem juice, i.e. bitterness and livelihood. I find it is reasonably hot, though it might be the wonderful weather we are having today. Blackcurrant jam comes up in the end. Finish: hot and spicy blackcurrant jam again. This turned out quite alright, actually. 7/10

3.223 24yo d.1989 Sweet, floral, perfumed smoke (51.2%. SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 213b): nose: I find it rather medicinal, which is unexpected from this distillery. Hospital corridors, yet also farmyards and stables. Mouth: warming, yet smooth and silky. Cut hay, fruit (cut apples) on top of a creamy texture. Finish: barley, some peat smoke kept under control, old engines and a tool shed. This is very, very good. MJ likes it a lot; it is pushing is price limit a bit, and we tease him as he is trying to clear the expense with Mrs. J. 8/10

67.5 24yo 1975/2000 (63.6%, SMWS Society Cask): now obviously, this is not part of the outturn. It is the latest Society Banff -- and considering it was bottled 14 years ago, it is probably the last too. Someone in the room who has been a member for ages brought this to toast JMcG's departure. That takes place at the next table, but we know most people there and they end up offering a small dram -- yay! Nose: engine oil, tar and porcelain dishes (now, that is a first!) Mouth: this tickles like mustard, but that is not all. Acidic orange is also there. Fiery mustard takes the lead quite quickly, though. Finish: long, never-ending, old-school and oh! so fantastic. There is not really enough for proper notes, not to mention the emotional aspect that is hard to get over (and the previous drams), yet this is a superb dram. Thanks to the owner, whose name I did not catch. 9/10

JMcG joins our table and lets us try a drop of 118.3. Too little of it for notes, I am afraid, but we like it. I reckon last year's bottling by Cadenhead was better, though: fruitier. We also get:

24.126 23yo d.1990 The artist's lounge (56.1%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill Sherry Hogshead, 191b): nose: cured meat and rubber. Mouth: OXO broth, very meaty again, not far from biltong, even. Finish: more meaty notes, as well as dark chocolate. Not exactly my favourite profile, yet I am a firm believer that one should carry on trying things they supposedly do not like to make sure their taste is still the same. Especially if said things come offered (thanks, JMcG). 5/10

My time to offer a celebratory dram. It is Tomatin 35yo 1978/2013 (44.2%, Cad Small Batch, Hogshead, 594b). I do not take notes; everyone seems quite pleased with it. I am, in any case. :-)

Cheese plates enter. Too much cheese after all. We just about finish it but leave a couple of crackers behind.

Next is a cocktail combining, amongst others, orange juice and Society rum. It is "named after the same book as [my] blog" -- The Old Man and the Sea. My blog is named after a stack on Orkney, but I am touched JMcG reads this blog. And thanks for the cocktail too! Recommended.

We then discuss price vs. age vs. region vs. other factors. More importantly, how evaporation impacts maturation speed and price. At which point MS comments: -Well, that's fucking chemistry, right?
No need to mention it amuses us immensely.

Second celebratory dram from yours, truly is served: Traditional Ben Nevis (46%, OB, ca 2012). A lot more pedestrian than the Tom', yet it is successful too.
JS and I have one more to choose from the list and that is going to be:

29.157 17yo d.1996 Heidi's holiday to Islay (59.2%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 675b): peat, of course, but also hard-boiled eggs, barbecue sauce, then cow dung and cow backside (for those who like that sort of things, you know). Mouth: dark cherries aplenty!1 This is really well balanced, while remaining quite hot. Finish: hot embers, hot, spicy and warming. Never overpowering, however. Simply a very nice Laphie. 8/10

In the meantime, MS has G4.6 (quite upset I gave him the incorrect reference!) and 35.122. MJ and MS then both have G4.5 (the one I was trying to recommend) and love it.

MJ has to leave around 17:30. The other two and I witness the light going down right before 21:00 and make an exit. Most of the regulars are still there, sharing the joy with JMcG. Before we go, though, we are treated to one more:

33.131 7yo d.2005 The Mad Scientist on the Dockside (61.3%, SMWS Society Cask, 2nd fill ex-Sherry Butt, 679b): I really do not bother with notes, at this stage. Most attendants are lost in contemplation and I cannot help but disagree. This is too young, the alcohol is not well integrated, the peat is invasive in the extreme and masks everything else. A shame, because what is underneath the peat seems promising (even soft fruit). I imagine in a couple of decades, those casks will be terrific. For now? Well, it qualifies as a bowel-stirrer, I suppose.

Excellent times. 67.5 was obviously the highlight, as far as I am concerned. Most of the new outturn left me lukewarm, with warmer feelings towards 3 and 29 -- that is probably good news for my finances. :-)