29 December 2015

27/12/2015 Recovery drams

Christmas was a bit of an adventure, this year.

Deanston 17yo (40%, OB, 15:20 4354 P003816 L16): an old favourite that will not get full notes, this time. Nose: raisin paste, stewed plums. Mouth: mild, mellow and pleasant, gently fruity, compote-y or jammy. Finish: jammy fruit, or fruity jam again, candied nuts. Lovely, innit. 8/10

Tomintoul 27yo (40%, OB, 07/05045 18/05/07): nose: pine needles and sap, both gentle. This one is even more delicate than the Deanston; walnut oil that does not jump at you and Fraise Tagada. Mouth: a little more outspoken, though it remains quite subtle. More oil (this time olive). This is silky smooth and easy to quaff. Hints of apricot jam and honey. Finish: a woody note (apricot stone), polished furniture, still very gentle, despite the initial lukewarm kick upon swallowing -- nothing aggressive, mind! Lovely too, this. 8/10

37.64 30yo 1985/2015 A real charmer (51.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 188b): nose: pine cones and citrus. Lime peel and pomelo zest are also there. This is very deep and rich. Mouth: notes of pepper, green-grape or lime juice. It tickles and tingles. Finish: lots of pepper upon swallowing, then a little green wood bitterness. It is long and warming, with dried citrus peel. Looking forward to trying this again. 8/10

26/12/2015 Boxing Day dram


Ardbeg Lord of the Isles (46%, OB, L5 285 243 4WL): nose: a lovely mix of brine in a farmyard. Seaspray, fishing nets, whelk, mussels and oysters, kelp, wrack at low tide, yet also muddy paths. Oddly, this all comes accompanied by cotton candy. This is complex and not shy at all. Brushed aluminium surfaces. Wet sand and damp cellars. It turns vaguely fruity after twenty minutes. Mouth: velvety as caramel, it has more of the sea notes (seaspray, fishing nets), as well as a tiny bit of rubber or bakelite (tractor tyres, perhaps?). Apples -- nay! Cider. A gently salty tang, probably biltong. Sweetend orange juice is there too. Finish: peat smoke and muddy fields, smoked mussels, Serrano ham, sun-heated rubber. The second sip brings more orange juice; it is served in a burnt-rubber cup. I will stand by what I always said: these reduced small batches beat the single-cask bottlings of the same era in terms of complexity, balance and value for money. 9/10

25/12/2015 Christmas drams

Inspiration hit me, this week.

Dailuaine 23yo (46%, Cadenhead): nose: dusty orange juice, in pure old-miniature tradition. Musty warehouses, quince jelly and some vinegar. After a few sniffs, distant OXO broth appears, then it is peppery rocket leaves and ground peach stones, fresh herbs (oregano? mint?) and old tins full of coins, as well as... tulips! Later on, smoked ham also shows up. My, what a ride! Mouth: starts out mellow, then gives out a metallic note. This one has an unsuspected strength. Mild coffee? Tea? Sage infusion? We will settle for milky tea or chai, with a few tulpi petals. Finish: more metallic notes: old coins and a dusty toolbox. It has quite a bit of white pepper and a bitter aftertaste: plant juice, or, well, old coins again -- slightly oxidized coppers, that is, not golden doubloons. Complex and ever-evolving, this one requires time. It does reward the patient taster, however! 8/10

9.72 17yo d.1996 Lockets Honey and Lemon Lozenges (62.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 272b): nose: citronella, lemon curd, sweets, lemon-flavoured pastry, Biscuits à la Cuiller, then cough drops (that'll be lozenges, I suppose), and even plasticine. I cannot remember ever nosing such a nice Glen Grant! Well, GMP's at this year's Whisky Show, probably, though in a completely different style. Coconut cream shows up, then it becomes vaguely animal, at some point, though never invadingly so. Mouth: mellow for 62.7%. It becomes warm alright, never too much is all. Verbena timidly walks into the picture, with custard, "cocoghurt" and a touch of lemon juice, or zest. Chocolate milk (Nesquik style) with lots of milk. It is silky as satin, astonishingly. Finish: Oh yes! Gently warming, with comforting custard, coconut cream, curd, a twist of the black-pepper mill. This one tingles and sparkles beautifully. It never feels like a modern malt either, interestingly enough. 8/10 (thanks JMcG for the sample)

24/12/2015 Christmas Eve drams

Pretty self explanatory, would you not say?

Tomatin 25yo 1989/2015 (51.9%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 204b): nose: some alcohol, some grapes -- it is really rather discreet, believe it or not. Some fruit comes out after several minutes (pears) and nail varnish, alongside walnut flesh. With water, it becomes rhubarb tart or compote. Mouth: lively and peppery, spicy, with hot chilli and a light bitterness. Water gives it a bakery feel, not unlike apricot turnover. Finish: milk chocolate first, then some fruit, mostly unripe. It is a bit green, this. With water, it becomes more mello, with notes of apricot turnover again. Alright; I cannot say I am very impressed. 6/10 (thanks SW for the sample)

Old Man of Hoy 12yo (43%, Blackadder, C#2001/H05 385-R-OM-43 / 343-R-OM): all that gibberish hints at a Highland Park bottled in 2001, does it not? Nose: leather, liquorice, oxtail broth, earth, gravel under the rain (adc) and even some sulphur, after a minute. Mouth: consistent with the nose -- liquorice and dry earth. It has the zing of liquorice allsorts, or those black, flat-cable-shaped sweets, while remaining gentle and smooth, with a hint of blackcurrant and prunes. Finish: more oxtail broth with lots and lots of liquorice and stewed prunes. 6/10 (thanks adc for the dram)

23 December 2015

22/12/2015 More drams at the SMWS

Yes, two nights in a row. This time, I am meeting with OB and we are joined by JS. Short notes again.

35.140 20yo d.1994 Cornucopia of incredible creativity (55.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill Toasted Oak Hogshead, 241b): because what the hell! Still great, though less ridiculously so than yesterday. The nose is more closed, almost metallic.

OB has 44.69, which I do not try.

53.232 15yo 2000/2015 The perfect ending to a perfect day (62.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Sherry Butt, 276b): I ask the staff for something fruity, whether peaty or not. SMcD recommends this. Nose: bacon and warm earth, roasted ham (JS), gammon. This ain't fruity! Mouth: mellow, with an earthy side to it. Smoked ham. The peat smoke is certainly discreet. Blackcurrant end up emerging, as well as elderberry. Finish: long and warming, with honey-roast ham. I like this. 7/10

46.35 17yo 1998/2015 Confident understated cask (54.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 251b): nose: perfume, a bouquet of flowers, then hints of fruit. OB finds shandy in it -- he has probably had too much to drink already. Mouth: milky, with the slight bitterness of almond. Finish: fruity and velvety, now. 8/10

OB has 80.7. I do not try it, today.

28.28 10yo 2005/2015 Lay your head on my pillow (60%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 223b): I want the other two to try this. Nose: alcohol, milk chocolate and herbs. I take no notes for the mouth. Finish: strangely, I get a note of leather or shoe polish, today. I reckon the sequence does not do it justice. 7/10

128.5 9yo 2006/2015 As purple as Prince! (60.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 213b): JS wants this. SMcD says it is not there, yet badabing, his colleague finds a bottle; ha! Nose: tropical fruit aplenty, with some brioche. Water makes it even more fragrant. Wunderbar! Mouth: mellow fruit flesh and silky brioche again. Finish: a bit of clogged-sink action here, meaning overripe fruit galore. 9/10

117.3 25yo d.1988 Hubba-bubba, mango and monstera (58.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 199b): not pushing or anything, yet OB has not tried this yet. He agrees it needs righting. Nose: overripe tropical fruit with a lot more depth than 128.5. Incomparable. Mouth: mellow, full of mango flesh -- or is it papaya? Jack fruit? Finish: a catatonic discharge of ripe tropical fruit. This is superlative and a proper gigglefest, akin to that caused by TWE's Lochside 46yo. 10/10

Happy days.

22 December 2015

21/12/2015 Celebrating the new gigs (and winter) at the SMWS

MJ got a new gig in town, after a longer-than-foreseen break for family reasons. Time to meet up and try some of the things that have come out since last time.
The focus is on catching up, meaning the notes are succinct.

28.28 10yo 2005/2015 Lay your head on my pillow (60%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 223b): you do not see a 28 every day. Nose: apple-y, almondy, says MJ. The alcohol is very present. Mouth: it seems rather thin and strong, though it is balanced all the same, if that makes any sense. Finish: milk chocolate-coated almonds with a few herbs. 8/10

80.7 16yo d.1998 Indian Summer Sangria (54.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill Sauternes Hogshead, 162b): this is for MJ to try, of course, since I had it last time. Nose: meat? Fleeting, yet the impression is there. Overripe grapes, melon (MJ), clean fruit and crème brûlée (MJ). Mouth: mellow as flan, pulpy as grape flesh. Finish: more grape flesh. It is warming too. One of the best ex-Sauternes casks I have had the pleasure to try. 8/10

35.140 20yo d.1994 Cornucopia of incredible creativity (55.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill Toasted Oak Hogshead, 241b): no idea where this comes from; it was not in any UK outturn and is not available by the bottle. The only 35 on the shelf is 35.103 -- quite a gap, there! Nose: gingerbread and all sorts of yummy pastries, cotton candy and blackcurrants. Mouth: custard-y in texture, with the taste of currants. Finish: mellow pastry with more gingerbread, warm custard and fruit coulis. This is amazing. 9/10

112.10 14yo d.2000 A comforting hug in a mug (57.4%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 147b): I choose this one for MJ, although he hogs 35.140, which means I end up drinking this most. No complaint -- simply, I had it last time. Nose: stewed fruits, boiling water into which apples are dipped, as well as a dro pof custard. Mouth: warm and comforting, it is also soft and nicely fruity. Finish: tropical fruit now appear en force, accompanied by quite a bit of horsepower. Love this. 8/10

117.3 25yo d.1988 Hubba-bubba, mango and monstera (58.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 199b): if you are going to celebrate, celebrate. Nose: need I say more? This is stupidly exuberant, chock full of tropical fruits, even more so than last month. Mouth: overripe tropical fruit with a stupendous depth. Finish: more of that unbelievable tropical fruit cascade. It deserves more today. 10/10

Good times.

Despite the suit.

21 December 2015

20/12/2015 Clearing the shelf #8

76.123 27yo d.1987 Warm, joyous and gratifying (52.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 214b): leftover sample from the October tasting. Nose: warm apple pie, candle wax and a good dose of spices. It further develops to reveal waxy cork stoppers and crayons. Not really any meat to speak of (a traditional marker of this distillery), though if anything, it would be blood sausage with raisins. (a typical Christmas delicacy). It becomes waxier and waxier, with notes of plums in syrup and the very faintest hint of wood fire, in the back. Mouth: feel the heat! Chilli pepper, hot paprika, ginger and hot wax (no, not the latest vinyl releases!) This is assertive without being arrogant. The spiciness is balanced by waxy fruit -- apricot and plum again. Finish: green chilli, kaffir lime leaves, then it oscillates between wax, fruit (unripe plums), and the bitterness of green-plant sap, almost metallic -- sage- and oregano-like. It eventually dies out with a note of milk chocolate (though it is bitter as dark) and green tea. This is alright, I suppose, yet the finish is too bitter for me to like it too much. 7/10

18 December 2015

17/12/2015 Clearing the shelf #7

A few half-drunk samples need to make room before they go bad.

Glen Albyn 26yo 1975/2002 (54.8%, OB Rare malts Selection, 6000b): long time since we had this. Over two years, it seems. Nose: a wonderful cocktail of moss, damp wood, wax, autumn flowers and just the right amount of horse's sweat. Enticing! If one like horses, that is. I do. Wood varnish or glue appears, timid at first, then more pronounced. Jam tart soon emerges, quince jam, overly-ripe blood orange, and still that comforting horse sweat. Mouth: an infusion of flowers, beeswax, before spices start growing. Hot paprika, allspice, ground coriander -- never over the top. Nutmeg and sawdust too, with even a gentletouch of fruit. Dried citrus peel, perhaps. Finish: warm and drying, at this point, with more wood dust or wood shavings, ground pepper, nutmeg and smoked paprika. I guess it means that this whisky has a little smoke, yet it remains very subtle. The jam tart from the nose is here too; it was baked in a woodfire oven and is slightly caramelised on the top. Beautiful Rare Malt, this! 8/10 (thanks pat gva for the sample)

7 December 2015

6/12/2015 Two drams for St Nicholas

Forget that Christmas malarky. St Nicholas is da man.

Glen Elgin 32yo 1971/2003 (42.3%, OB, 1500b): nose: earth -- nay! Mud! It is amazingly concentrated, akin to walking through a ploughed field, or a muddy forest path, not too long after the rain, which means there are dead leaves in the mud. This is perfectly in keeping with the grey, grey weather outside. Wet gravel, perhaps? Pebbles? Wet cobblestone? Mouth: unbelievable. It is a perfect continuation of the nose, with wet earth, clay, forest paths and wet stones. The whole is balanced by a dollop of honey and a healthy sprinkle of white pepper. This is countryside at its best! Funny, coming from a town distillery. Finish: lots of pepper here, though never annoying as in Talisker 10yo. The honey is still present, whilst the earth is more subdued. It leaves a chewy impression in the mouth, that is for sure. Humid stones, gravel, flint, even, and lots of pepper. What a lovely dram! 9/10

Columban of Iona 23yo 1991/2014 (57.5%, The Stillman, C#16, 231b): nose: paint thinner and mild peat, at first -- this will not be a fruity glory... Oh! wait, fruit does come out, after ten minutes. Nail-varnish remover remains the dominant -- or is it hair spray? In any case, and although there is some fruit, it is no 118.3. Well, until twenty minutes in, that is, at which point it reeks of dusty mangoes. Mouth: hot and powerful. My poor, injured palate suffers. I burnt myself with hot, crusty bread at lunch. :-) Once the heat calms down, custard-y dough comes through. Little fruit to speak of, still, and not much more peat. It is vaguely earthy, I guess. A veil of tropical fruit appears in the back of the mouth, still tame. Finish: ah! Now, it becomes great, with mild peat and lots of fruit -- mango and papaya above the rest, though also pears, pineapple (tinned) and persimmon. Fruit becomes more dominant with each sip. Very good, rather than great. The alcohol does not feel very well-integrated, which prevents a fantastic score. 8/10 (thanks CD for the sample)

24 November 2015

22/11/2015 Unlikely humorous songs

The yearly do where we celebrate dom666's birthday at his. You will notice the themes get more and more specific and demanding.

The suspects: kruuk2, sonicvince, dom666, MQ, JS and myself. adc joins us very late for one dram.

The lineup even seems reasonable

MQ presents: Un Chien dans un Jeu de Quilles

MQ asked his other half what the theme was. She answered French films of the 1980s. He believed her. The two Jura below are the pins ('quilles', in French) and the Arran, which bears the Westie mascot, is the dog ('chien', in French).

Isle of Jura Superstition (43%, OB, 4145520) (MQ): the same bottle we tried last year. I remember not liking it very much. Nose: butter and caramel, with an animal touch and autumn leaves. Mouth: buttery and creamy. Finish: melting butter, gentle cigar smoke. This is inoffensive, yet it feels much better than last year. 6/10


Isle of Jura Prophecy (46%, OB) (MQ): nose: browned butter, cigar leaves, a hint of varnish (a lot of it, says sonicvince). After ten--fifteen minutes, even some fruit emerges (plums and apricot). Mouth: apricot is now stronger, adding flavour to the creamy, buttery texture. Finish: butter and apricot liqueur. I prefer this one. 7/10


Isle of Arran Machrie Moor Sixth Edition (46%, OB, b.2015) (MQ): nose: floral, with a touch of spices (paprika), then lots of lemon. This is supposed to be peaty? It is not. JS reckons it smells of dry lawn. Mouth: lemon-y and vaguely custard-y. Finish: long, warming, comforting, full of lemon. Not overly complex, but enjoyable nonetheless. 7/10

kruuk2 presents: David Lee Glenrothes - Just A Gigolo

Glenrothes Select Reserve (43%, OB, CGR163) (kruuk2): nose: butter, celeri salt (sonicvince) and -- wait for it -- cooked turnips. Mouth: mellow, it has daffodils, buttermilk and, at third sip, notes of pralines. Finish: discreet, subtle, with touches of butter (!) and daffodil petals. Interesting. I like this better than usual and find it peculiar to try it so soon after the Jura; I do not think any other distillery in Scotland produces anything as buttery as those two. 6/10

Starter is served: tomato and carrot soup. Yum.

Knockando 18yo d.1994 (43%, OB, Sherry Casks) (sonicvince): the owner cannot remember how this one fits the theme. He hopes it comes back to him, yet it never does. I used to have a version of this (d.1989) that I liked a lot. Nose: lukewarm cocoa, milk chocolate, maybe a hint of coffee. sonicvince finds fleeting potatoes in it (he is drunk, of course), then lemon comes out, with banana (sonicvince). Mouth: it seems thin and evanescent, with honey at first, then lemon. The second sip delivers slightly spicy orange juice. Finish: finally some action, with milk chocolate and the acidity of undiluted lemon juice. It was better in my memory, even if it remains an honest dram. 7/10

Main course is served: dom666's homemade lasagna. It is creamy as can be and, dare I say, the best traditional lasagna I have had.

JS and I present: The Lonely Island featuring Justin Timberlake - Bruichladdick in a Compass Box

JS came up with the first bit and, since I have an open Compass Box bottling, I offered to complete the piece.

Bruichladdich 15yo (43%, OB imported by Rinaldi Importatori, b.1980s) (JS): nose: unexpected power and unsuspected depth. Perhaps varnish is the first thing to come out, then banana (sonicvince), then juicy fruit, more and more assertive (canary or honeydew melon, pink grapefruit), cheese rind (JS). Mouth: fresh and amazingly lively, with lots of fruit again: melon (cantaloup, this time) and pink grapefruit. Lovely. Finish: explosive, fruity, slightly acidic. This is wonderful. Unanimously liked. 9/10


Flaming I-ties!
Glasgow Blend (43%, Compass Box Great King Street, b.2014) (me): nose: barley and smoke, accompanied by an unexpected alcohol heat. It feels more complex than the first time -- yay! It becomes coastal after a minute: fake caviar, whelk, salt water, brine. Mouth: buttery honey, then honeyed tea near a fireplace. This is subtle and pleasant, even though it has the bitterness of green tea. Finish: goes down like water, then comes back to haunt you with chimney smoke and toasted barley, still with some honey. 7/10

Cake is served. Instead of chocolate shavings on top, I crumble a speculoos. It works quite well.

dom666 presents: Pit & Rik - La Cicrane et Laphroaigmi

Laphroaig 31yo 1974/2005 (49.7%, OB for LMdW, Sherry Wood Casks, 910b) (dom666): yes, the theme connection is a little... stretched. JD peed his trousers when dom666 poured him this two years ago. He is not here today, on account of being hungover (haha). More for us, then! Nose: grapefruit, pomelo and tyres, coarse rubber. Mint, petrol. The grapefruit turns bolder and bolder (and rougher and rougher, and tougher and tougher, in other words sucker: there is no other). It smells like a marvellous game in which one pours fruit juice on warm tyres. Mouth: mild, at first, delicate, even. Rubber emerges, backed by grapefruit skins and lemon pips. Well, they might as well be grapefruit pips, really. Finish: a complete funfair. There is bitterness, acidity, rubber, exuberant, exotic fruit -- this is unbelievable. I realise today that I completely missed it the first time dom666 poured this, in 2006. It is a capital dram, only beaten by the likes of Black Bowmore. 10/10

sonicvince presents: Michel Fugain - C'est Laphroaig

Laphroaig Quarter Cask (48%, OB, b. mid-2000s, 28S46) (sonicvince): sonicvince reckons Fugain is comedy enough to justify an entry. We all sort of agree. We have this one with the 31yo, no matter how unfair that might seem. Nose: crusty, toasted bread, malted barley and a bucket of coal. Mouth: hot and bold, with red embers and liquefied chocolate. Finish: long and imposing, with ashes and very dark cocoa. Impressive. It is obviously not in the same league as its sparring partner, yet it is far from ridiculous. No wonder it is so popular; it is so good. 8/10

Transversal view
Woo, new note book!
MQ makes an exit, adc takes his place.

The Old Man of Huy presents: Bart Simpson featuring Michael Jackson - Do Dumbarton

Dumbarton 46yo d.1964 (47.4%, HH The Clan Denny, Refill Hogshead, C#7542) (me): with the exception of JD, who is not here, the whole group loves grain whisky. Few have had this distillery, though. I am thrilled to right that wrong. And also miffed to have misread the age statement -- I thought it was 47. Nose: custard-y porridge, sage on sourdough. Pâtes de fruits (sugar-sprinkled, jelly-textured, fruity treats), ginger bread. As time goes by, soft tyre shows up, dried dates, prunes. adc reckons it smells like a train platform, waiting for a Southbound train coming from the North. Water gives away Virginia tobacco. Mouth: drying, stripping, with notes of bitter tea. Water makes it more acidic, with lime juice, thyme and salted caramel butter (adc). Finish: green-tea bitterness, sourdough and other bakery stuff. Not the easiest dram, but a cracking old grain, really. 8/10

Dick in a bottle

Good tasting, good company, amazing food. What more could one wish for?

Good thing we don't buy Laphroaig based on their use of apostrophe's...

20/11/2015 A regular Friday night

GL, a Society member, invited a few people to his office for a celebration of some kind. What we are celebrating, I have no idea. I like to think this is a regular Friday night in that place.
The weather is becoming chilly, which means it is a relief, once on the right floor, to discover lots of cheeses, sausages, pretzels and various other nibbles, alongside a huge selection of bottles. Mostly from the Society, yet others too.

A regular office around here

PS is there before me, JS joins us, then SMcD, MR, CD and other familiar faces arrive too. We waste no time.
The setting is that of an office party. We are standing and there is constant chatter and music playing. Notes are brief as a result.

117.3 25yo d.1988 Hubba-bubba, mango and monstera (58.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 199b): what a treat to be able to try this one again! Nose: tobacco at first, to a point I am wondering why I seemed to like it so much the previous times. Oh! it is complex alright, perhaps not as fruity as I remembered it is all. It also has citrus traces and... Ah! The tropical fruit cascade is here, now. Wow. Mouth: powerful and peppery, with delicate, tropical fruit behind it all. Finish: initially bland and leathery, it further releases a river of tropical fruit. Grand. 9/10

That is me done with SMWS bottlings for tonight.

Linlithgow 21yo 1982/2003 (63%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, C#2211, 264b): great opportunity to try this. Nose: herbaceous and flowery, it develops custard-y bakery goodness soon enough. Mouth: good body and strength. It is lively, despite the long-lasting low fill of the bottle. Finish: what!? Smoke? Yes. Burning hay -- and quite powerful, at that! 8/10

St Magdalene 31yo 1982/2013 (53.5%, Hart Brothers Finest Collection): not messing about, are we? Nose: much more pungent, with invading flowers (dandelions) and warm pastry. Mouth: creamy and lovely, with a slight metallic edge to it. Finish: ooooh! This is where it is at. A mix of fruits, spices (pepper) and honey pastry. 9/10

Linlithgow 26yo 1975/2001 (51.5%, Signatory Vintage, C#96/3/36, 354b): because why not? Nose: much deeper, this, with smokey barley and cow-stable notes, even. Mouth: velvety, with cactus spines on it -- it is powerful. Finish: woah! Big, powerful, assertive. This is bold and full of smoke and burning hay. What a beast! 9/10

Glenglassaugh 27yo 1976/2004 (51.2%, The Dormant Distillery Company, C#2370, 280b): exciting to try this from a relatively unknown bottler. It is a shared cask too: Whiskyfreunde Essenheim got 96 additional bottles out of the same cask. Nose: powerful bakery, with lots of spices and a touch of caramel sweetness. JS finds dough in this nose as well. Mouth: again, much spicier than expected, a little drying, even. Good wood display. Finish: an explosion of spices, which then settles on warm (hot) pastry. Hot cocoa, crushed cinnamon sticks. 8/10

Rosebank 11yo 1989/2001 (43%, Signatory Vintage, C#708+09): I remember trying this in a swimming pool in 2009 and liking it, yet finding that it was not exactly the typical Rosebank profile. Ever since, I have been thinking I was probably dreaming or am confusing it with something else. Nose: unbelievably smokey for a Lowlander, with lovely medicinal notes and dried flowers. Mouth: feels a bit watery, at this point, with candle wax and spent candle wick. Finish: spent matches soaked in honeyed water. An oddball Rosebank, totally unlike any other I have had. It confirms the impression I had in 2009. Interesting, yet perhaps not something I would buy. 6/10

Rosebank 20yo 1981/2002 (62.3%, OB Rare Malts Selection, 6000b): yes, they even have this. Nose: brutal as a RMS can be. In fact more so than any other, I reckon. Once the alcohol calms down, it becomes quite animal, with musk and fox skin. Virginia tobacco is present too, as well as stripping lemon. With water, it becomes more bearable. Same flavours, better balanced. Mouth: super powerful, as peppery as a Talisker, almost unbalanced. This is too powerful to be truly enjoyable, really. With water, it becomes whisky, rather than fire water, still with a similar profile (musk, tobacco, lemon). Finish: thermonuclear warfare, when undiluted. This is huge, challenging and barely drinkable. It must be the most powerful RMS I have had, which says a lot. Water makes it more tolerable, with hot marmalade and boiled flowers. This is unbalanced. I cannot go higher than 7/10, and that is taking the pedigree into account.

Time to call it a day. That Rosebank knocked me out. Good times, hope GD invites us lot again. :-)

Lost in bliss

17 November 2015

14/11/2015 Christmas outturn at the SMWS

Hard to believe it is that time again, but it is. The monster outturn for Christmas has landed.
Due to impending building works at the Society, there is no five-drams-and-a-plate-of-cheese formula today. Ah, well.
MS decided to bring his blind date to meet JS and I. She is both pleasant to be around and open-minded about ze W -- how can this go wrong, eh?

80.7 16yo d.1998 Indian Summer Sangria (54.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill Sauternes Hogshead, 162b): interestingly, the only other 80 released over the last four years was 80.6, which came out for the 2013 Christmas outturn. I remember liking that one a lot. Nose: sandalwood and cigar boxes, dry wood. It becomes pretty buttery too, with some added herbs (tarragon and marjoram). Mouth: custard-y, milky with a hefty dose of pepper. Finish: more custard, banana bread, chocolate coulis -- this is beautiful. 8/10

B3.2 3yo 2012/2015 Ooey-gooey cinnamon bun (55.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, New Charred Oak Barrel, 204b): MS is a reformed Bourbon enthusiast. He missed B3.1, a few months ago (has it really been a year?) and did not even spot this one today. Let us correct that. Nose: caramel, vanilla and coconut yoghurt. Mouth: buttery, with caramel and butterscotch, toffee, perhaps. Finish: short, rather simple, with lots of caramel and toffee. A nice drop, yet it lacks complexity, compared to the Scottishers. 7/10

I order the following two simultaneously, causing great confusion amongst the staff. 100.12 and 112.10 -- WOO, SIMILAR NUMBERS, INNIT!

100.12 10yo 2005/2015 Trip to a shopping mall (58.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 209b): nose: modern, with white wood, coconut shavings, green hazel tree. It smells a bit like walking through the make-up aisle at Harrod's. Mouth: hot, with tree bark, cinnamon sticks or cassia bark, black pepper and Cayenne pepper. Finish: hot at first, before a small explosion of red fruit steals the spotlight. Red cherries, currant, red fruit-soaked pralines. The nose was not particularly impressive, yet the finish nailed it. 8/10

112.10 14yo d.2000 A comforting hug in a mug (57.4%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 147b): nose: fruit pie, i.e. baked dough and baked fruit. Mouth: soft and velvety, it also unleashes paprika. Finish: fruit, fruit, fruit, some spices again and bakery. 8/10

41.68 11yo d.2003 Liquefied "Bounty bars" (61.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 215b): yet another 41; we need to try it, of course. Nose: balsa wood, sawdust, fresh flower stems, drying cut grass and even a little smoke. Mouth: hot and spicy, with gingery heat and wood tannins -- you will excuse the reference to another SMWS bottling (64.40). Finish: coconut and wood dust. This is ok, unspectacular. 6/10

7.125 11yo d.2003 Makes your heart sing (58.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 209b): nose: a bit nondescript, with dried banana skins and dried orange peels. The alcohol is pretty powerful. Mouth: mild, lukewarm custard, vanilla-flavoured soy milk -- this is a lot silkier than I expected. Finish: the heat is overpowering. It drowns the flavours somewhat. Once it cools off, it is all custard and vanilla yoghurt. 7/10

35.139 20yo d.1994 Punchy spice explosion (57.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill Toasted Oak Hogshead, 239b): nose: perfume, paint thinner, lemon-sprinkled banana. Mouth: light orange juice in texture (no pulp), it has quite a bit of spices. Finish: long and coating, with orange quarters. 7/10

This blind date thing is a dangerous game!
1.198 21yo d.1993 Night Nurse in carpenter's overalls (55.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 176b): MS wants to try this, as he is interested in 7.125 and these can only be bought as a pair. Nose: a slight alcohol burn in the right nostril. It seems relatively neutral and subtle, yet my co-tasters think it smells of cough syrup and dried fruits. I reckon they have been drinking. Mouth: cough syrup. Drying, sweetened liquid. Maple syrup (JS). Finish: mentholated, sweet, teeming with liquorice. Cough syrup for kids, this, not Actifed. 6/10

64.63 14yo 2001/2015 Rich and magisterial (55.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 14b): you read that right, this one is limited to 14 bottles. They are all behind the bar. It cannot be bought. Nose: beautiful wood and daffodils. Mouth: daffodils, coconut, vanilla -- that sort of shiznit. Finish: long, woody (sawdust) and custard-y. Lovely, wood-driven beauty. Another proof that 64 is a great distillery. 8/10

64.64 14yo 2001/2015 Mouth coating and moreish (57.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 231b): nose: similar to 64.63 in that it is wood-centred, yet the alcohol seems more aggressive. Mouth: milky and custard-y, with a bit of woody dryness. Finish: again, wood influence -- banana, coconut cream. very nice, though I prefer .63, today. 7/10

Moments of silliness
50.71 25yo 1990/2015 Alfresco brunch (58.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 165b): I convince MS to try this as a last dram -- though he objects he cannot afford to buy a bottle. Nose: flowery, with faint notes of bakery. Mouth: superbly balanced, with custard, flowers and sunny corn fields. Spices show up after a moment. Finish: long, full of custard-y bakery. Wonderful. 9/10

Good times, as usual. Quality throughout, though there seems to be a lack of stars, this year. Well, 50.71 is a bit of a star, of course.