22 December 2014

21/12/2014 Winter solstice

It has proved impossible to get a committed date from my co-tasters to attend a tasting since September. A shame, of course, yet that should not prevent me from enjoying myself (and make them jealous in the process).
A friend gave me a freebie, recently, that I want to drink up. Looking at my boxes, I see I have two obvious sparring partners. Here is a good opportunity to celebrate the longest night of the year. Or the shortest day, depending on how you look at it. Apparently, the Earth is slowing down, by the way, which means it is the longest night ever. Yes, the longest night in 4.9 billion years.

Off we go.

Dallas Dhu 10yo (40%, GMP, b. late 1980s/early 1990s): nose: dust and old books, as is typical for these old bottles. Citrus and heather are here too. Satsumas, unripe oranges and walnut shells. Toasted bread gone cold. Mouth: watered-down grapefruit juice. Perhaps this has been in the bottle for too long. It lacks energy a bit. Almond milk comes out after a while, still with a zest of citrus and a late twist of white pepper. Pleasant, if (too) subtle. Finish: finally, it wakes up! Wood, nutmeg, white pepper and the bitterness of walnut skin in the shell. Celery stalks? Now, that is unusual! A decent 10yo, this. Not too complex or characterful, yet it does what you would expect from a whisky that age. 7/10

Dallas Dhu 1969 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, b. mid-1980s): there were two versions of this: a 15yo and a 16yo. Not sure which one this is, as the age is not written on my mini. Nose: behind the traditional dust, we have orange rinds, mud and -- oh! Lychee!? Promising, yet not very assertive. Wait. Time and oxidation help a lot: mud comes out much more, though it is unlike any other whisky-born muds around. Satsumas, clementines, dust and mud. Later, cedar wood appears. Yum! Mouth: a bonded warehouse! Lichen, moss, ageing (decaying) wood, clay floors, nature trying to reclaim its dominion. All of a sudden, almond milk spills over to a point it feels like Amaretto. How bizarre! Cane sugar, a drop of lemon juice and almond milk. Finish: it is tame, but much is happening in this finish. Old books? Check. Creamy almonds? Check. Citrus? Check. Wood goodness? Check. Both coconut and vanilla are there, as well as more Amaretto. This is unexpectedly vibrant. Very nice, even if it leaves the bitterness of vinegar in the aftertaste. 8/10

Dallas Dhu 34yo 1979/2014 (55.5%, Cadenhead's Cask Ends, Bourbon cask): nose: a whole different game, this. Much more expressive, with quince, ripe oranges, juicy satsumas and exotic fruit -- mango, durian, coconut, barbecued pineapple (I kid you not). Mouth: perfect balance, innit. Custard first (the texture), then the fruit salad resumes -- ripe clementines, jackfruit, green mango, grapes, underripe green melon, too. A pinch of turmeric completes the picture. Finish: lots of woody goodness -- vanilla, butterscotch, custard, toasted coconut. The yellow exotic fruits appear later -- papaya, mango, durian. The second sip brings  nice, milk chocolate (Belgian, naturally). Hail the oldest bottler in Scotland. 9/10 (thanks S for the sample)

Mix of all three: cannot bring myself to do it, this time. Bah! of course, I can! Nose: interestingly, the fruits have gone to make room for beef stock, old leather, cured meat, roasted walnuts and chestnuts. With no added sugar. Blackcurrant jam? Elderberry? Some dark fruit, in any case. Mouth: mh! This seems completely flat, now. Perhaps a touch of almond milk. Other than that, not much is happening. It is silky, though. Black olive pits? Black bun stuffing? Maybe in the far back. Finish: oh, yes! The finish is balanced, with tapenade, crushed walnuts, dark grape juice (no, not wine) and quince jelly. Love it. 8/10

Good bye, autumn. Welcome, winter.

You missed out, suckers!

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