29 January 2015

28/01/2015 Two rare and venerable grains

I need an empty container to make a sample, which means I have to empty one. A sorry excuse, but that will do.

Garnheath 40yo d.1969 (47.9%, HH The Clan Denny, Refill Hogshead, C#HH5538): not a common sight, these old Garnheaths. The distillery, in an industrial estate in Airdrie, is now still home to Inver House headquarters, though distilling activities there stopped in the mid-1980s. The same site produced a grain (Garnheath or Garneath) and three malts (the very rare Glenflagler, the extremely rare Killyloch and the never-bottled Islebrae). Nose: immediately, bakery scents flow in, with some tropical fruits too (coconut cream and mango peels). Blueberry muffin, cherry turnover (gosette aux cerises). The next thing to reach the nostrils is perfume, or colone, rather -- close to aftershave balm. Pine needles then abound, before it morphs into pure custard. Mesmerising nose. Mouth: the texture is oily, coating and sticky. Notes of clementines and Mandarine Napoléon shine, though custard quickly signals its presence once more. Hints of green pepper. Finish: a tender custard kiss with a reminder of clementines (semi-dried peels of clementines, really). Wonderful, wonderful Garnheath! 9/10

Dumbarton 45yo d.1965 (49.5%, HH The Clan Denny, Refill Hogshead, C#HH7001): another distillery with a split personality, Dumbarton was a grain plant with two sets of pot stills. One used to produce a malt called Inverleven, while another still (nicknamed Ugly Betty) produced a much, much rarer malt -- but hush! All of those were blending fodder for Ballantine's. I tried this one a couple of years ago, yet since one does not get to try Dumbarton every day, I am full of anticipation. Nose: this is all ginger bread and chewy biscuits (American-style cookies). Cinnamon, ground cloves, ground cardamom. Shortly thereafter, whiffs of tobacco off a pouch -- Golden Virginia tobacco. Engine oil is present too, which is unexpected. Mouth: satin-like texture, with slightly more kick than the Garnheath. The spices from the nose come back, with added black pepper and even a bit of smoke in the back. Finish: biscuit-making at its finest. Nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, muscovado sugar, that wee bit of smoke again, and dried fruit -- raisins, prunes, figs, dates, apricots, currants and charcoaled chestnut. Outstanding. 9/10 (thanks PS for the sample)

27 January 2015

24/01/2015 Burns Night 2015 -- Series and cartoons

When we had the recent Youtube and Films and Books tastings, I came up with ideas that involved series or cartoons. I was then frustrated that I could not use those ideas. To make up for that, this year's Burns Night is but an excuse for those to be implemented. Anything that can be related to series, cartoons, their titles, theme music, main characters or anything else, really.

The suspects: dom666, Psycho, ruckus, adc, JS, JD, sonicvince, kruuk2 and myself.

To fit the theme, ruckus made a mix of theme songs. It gets us all playing name-that-tune for three and a half hours. Good fun!
Once that one is finished, we listen to this mix.

The menu is ambitious, to say the least. Conversations fuse pretty quickly, while I often get distracted by dinner preparations. The result is that my notes are sometimes thin and/or uninspired.

Glenmorangie 12yo Nectar D'Or (46%, OB, Sauternes Finish) (brought by JD): the link is Histoire d'O. JD is confident that he followed the rule, this time -- but no! That is a film, JD. However, it works very well for Les Mystérieuses Cités de Nectar d'Or, one of the best cartoons of all time. Nose: vanilla and subtle citrus. This is not very expressive, but pleasant. Mouth: soft and silky -- velvety, in fact. Finish: warming, with honey and woody tones, such as vanilla and custard, as well as a very slight bitterness. I had wanted to try this one for a while: I am not disappointed. It is a modern malt (ruled by oak), easy and seductive, and that is fine. 7/10

Appetisers appear, courtesy of adc. Sausage rolls covered in sesame seeds, cheesy salmon palm trees, smoked salmon on oatcakes, all very nice and popular.

ruckus presents: Imperi-Alf

Imperial 18yo 1995/2014 (46%, Signatory Vintage The Un-Chillfiltered Collection, Hogsheads, C#50288+50289, 742b): no-one can remember the theme music to Alf, so I have to hum it for everyone. Nose: lemon, herbs (tarragon?) and watered-down honey. JD finds lamb meat and goat cheese in it -- or are his fingers covered in appetisers? Mouth: very velvety, almost acacia-honey like, though less thick. Finish: verbena, honey and a vague metallic note (the verbena, eh?) adc is all excited, since she loves Imperial. This one does not disappoint. 8/10

Starter is served: curried pumpkin soup, which JD finds a bit too spicy. It really is not.

sonicvince presents: Roswell-bank

Rosebank 16yo 1990/2007 (46%, SD The Single Malts of Scotland, Hogsheads, C#1255/1458, 635b) nose: grapefruit (sonicvince), apricots, quince jelly, green apples (JS). Mouth: sharp, with notes of grape juice and a bit of custard. Finish: green grapes, apricot juice and a good dose of white pepper. A superb Rosebank, this (is there another kind?) 8/10

JD presents: Edgar, Ledaigtective Cambrioleur

Ledaig 1990/1999 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice): nose: kruuk2 declares it a horrible Ledaig, almost atrocious. Prejudice, eh? It is immediately very farmyard-tainted, while also sugary. The sherry influence is very obvious -- cured meat is the undertone, here. Mouth: velvety and sherried. Cured meat, caramelised onions, pan scrapings etc. Finish: again, farm-y and sweet, with dark chocolate. I like it a lot. ruckus and kruuk2 less so, though they find it better and better with time. 7/10

kruuk2 presents: GoldoRiach

The BenRiach 10yo Curiositas Peated Malt (46%, OB, L4231BB 3 04 46): nose: cow dung (sonicvince), farmyard, manure. Mouth: a lot smoother than the nose suggests. Touches of mild spices (ground cumin, I think) and sandy earth. Finish: shy farmyard, at first, before a quick explosion of peat smoke. This is not very complex, but it is pretty agreeable. 7/10

Main course comes in: potato and parsnip puree, potato and beetroot gratin, leek, swede and potato bake, vegetarian haggis and, of course, the chieftain o' the pudding race. It was impossible to find a haggis that feeds eight, this year. Obviously, serving small ones is spoiling the fun, so we scaled up. To the chieftain. A 3.6kg monster that serves 16.

kruuk2 is a sucker for monster sausages

At that point in ruckus's mix, U96 - Das Boot plays. Debate about whether that was a film or a series -- well, a mini-series made for television counts as a series. I am baffled that some do not know Das Boot.

That shirt!

With supper in, we can resume serious activities.

dom666 presents: L'Oban des Secret Stills (after Le Bal des Secrets, which no-one knows)

Oban 1992/2006 Double Matured (43%, OB The Distillers Edition, OD 155.FR, L6210CM000 02625492): dom666 accuses me of forcing him to bring this. The real conversation went along the lines of, 'we never seem to try any Oban. It is a shame we do not have more expressions of it, in order to drink it more often.' Anyway. Nose: pear (sonicvince), varnish (JD and adc), dark fruit and the more typical coastal character underneath. Frangipane (JD), bouquet garni (sonicvince). Mouth: nutty and oily, with distinct notes of furniture. Finish: varnish, flat cola, wood. The wood goes so far as to make it rather drying. 7/10


Secret Stills 1.1 50yo 1955/2005 (45%, GMP Secret Stills, Sherry Butt, C#1312): we have not had this one in a long time, which makes me full of anticipation. It is not every day one gets to try a fifty-year-old whisky and this is the one that made me change my opinion of this popular Skye distillery. Once in the glass, the colour is unbelievably hypnotic, almost Port-like. Nose: what a depth! Cola (fizzy), mud and all sorts of polished, precious woods. Teak, mahogany, ebony. Dark raisins, stewed prunes, eggs on toast -- amazing sherry maturation, this. Mouth: spicy and woody, with dust and old books, barrel scrapings. With water: it becomes more balanced and fruitier (figs, raisins, blackcurrant jam). Finish: varnish, splinters and dark wood lacquer. With water, the finish is more velvety, less bitter. This one is a little too drying to deserve the top score, but it is moving all the same, although JD does not like it. 9/10

A hypnotic, russet hue
Psycho presents: Mission: Impossible

Bunnahabhain 32yo d.1976 (49%, MMcD Mission, Fino Sherry / Château d'Yquem Casks, 626b): according to my notes (not on this blog), we tried this at the Unpronounceable tasting, in 2011. I cannot remember it at all. Fitting series: following the 1955 glory is a mission and a half, if not a nigh-on impossible task. Nose: nuts, cigar boxes and dried fruit (raisins). There is something else too -- something animal. Bacon? Crayons, pastels and shoe polish. Another wonderful sherry cask, this. Mouth: past the stewed prunes, spices show up in force -- clove, ground cardamom, pepper. Brazil nuts too. Finnish: big cloves, black peppercorns, marzipan. A sweet and nonetheless acidic dram. Not sure how I could forget it, so fantastic it is, even as a follow-up to the incredible Secret Stills. 9/10

ruckus presents: The Greenorenet

Greenore 8yo Small Batch b.2013 (40%, OB, L13008): yes, we do need a palate reset, now. JD says it is green. I am thinking his lenses are full of mould, or he is influenced by the name. Nose: seems a bit quiet, at 40%. Soft and sweet, with bakery dough. It smells a lot greener and more bitter than yer regular grain, but then yer regular grain is rarely eight years of age. Varnish and sweet corn (JD, who likes it much more than yer regular grain). Mouth: super easy on the palate, full of custard and vanilla pudding -- not unlike yer regular grain. Finish: lemonade, fruit juice (ruckus), yellow-fruit stew. Yep! Peach juice, to be accurate. Lovely drop, this. Not sure how they make it in Ireland, but it is lighter and more frivolous than yer regular grain. It is also as pleasant and exactly what we need at this stage. 7/10
sonicvince photobombing an otherwise
perfectly synchronised  Greenore formation flight

sonicvince presents: The Little Mill in the Prairie

Littlemill 20yo 1991/2012 (50%, DL The Old Malt Cask 50º, Refill Hogshead, C#DL REF 8431, 121b): someone had to. Nose: hazelnut (JD, on fire tonight), green hazelnut, though. Was JD not obsessed with green, a minute ago? Moss-fire smoke, almost peaty, which is unexpected from this Lowlander. Dried lime peels. Mouth: lime in tonic water. It tastes and feels like lime Schweppes (without the sparkling). Great. Finish: (very) acidic, with a touch of overripe, rotten fruit (that clogged sink feeling) and delicate smoke. A murderah Littlemill. 9/10

Desserts flow in. Apfelstrudel and ginger cake (spiked with Longmorn 1996 BBR for LMDW).

For the next round, I have had to ask for help from contributors. Matching one dram with one series is for amateurs. A pun involving two drams is more like it, while three is a noble goal. But I am the Old Man of Huy! The suspects expect more of me (and worse). Since overkill is overrated, my target is higher: I want to spell the first line of a cartoon's theme tune with no fewer than seven drams. That is a lot of whisky, though. To make it better distributed, not all the bottles are mine. Also, due to a lack of glasses, space and will, we will have the following in three distinct flights.

The Old Man of Huy presents: MiMi CraCra, Lo Ellen Sca (featuring adc, dom666 and JS)

It was more complicated to do, 'l'eau moi j'adore ça, ça dégringole et je rigole.'

In the Midleton family,
the name Kate is spelt
Midleton 1991/2012 (54.1%, OB for TWE, First-Fill Bourbon Cask, C#48750, 205b) (brought by adc): nose: vanilla and custard. Very quickly, it opens up to unleash mango, peach, papaya, apricot and coconut (adc). Pure tropical fruit. Mouth: fruity cream. It feels a bit drying, today, but it is still beautiful. Chilli-marinated apricot and mango. Finish: vanilla and mango. Beautiful, if seemingly less expressive than previously. 9/10


Millburn 25yo 1975/2001 (61.9%, OB Rare Malts Selection) (brought by me): nose: coffee beans, fish (dom666). It changes quickly: dom666 reckons it smells of socks after a long hike. Walnut and rotting peach, grass (JD), Cognac, far in the back of the nose. With water, it turns more accessible, with peach stone, including shreds of peach flesh, and melon (JD). Mouth: warm, though not overly so, considering it is 62%. Coffee, bakery, though mostly green chilli. A time bomb, this is! It burns alright, just not from the get-go. Water makes it more balanced and fruity. Unfortunately, also more watery -- perhaps I was too heavy-handed. Finish: boom! Invading and never-ending. Powerful, almost brutal. (Very) light coffee, peach stone, moss on stone (that will be mineral, then). This is pretty old school. With water, milk chocolate and ripe peach flesh. Another brilliant -- if difficult -- Rare Malt, even if dom666 does not like it at all (but then he did not give it much time either). JD loves it, on the other hand. Well done UDV! 8/10

44.53 22yo d.1989 Lip-smacking, chewy and chunky (51.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 279b) (brought by JS): nose: strangely coastal feel, with sea spray and sea weed. This is also fruitier than .56 below. Extremely light coffee and bakery scents (kruuk2). Mouth: silky, before green-plant juice comes forward. Finish: cheese (ruckus); Medium Gouda. The slight bitterness of a green plant. Out of the two, all find this one more classic (whatever that means). 8/10


44.56 23yo d.1989 Sweet and sour creative tension (51.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 300b) (brought by JS): I nearly offered a Cragganmore, then JS noticed that her two Craigellachies were distilled on the same day and bottled one year apart. That was too interesting an opportunity to pass. Nose: complex, yet impulsive and evanescent -- it goes from mead to leather in a matter of seconds. Mouth: silky, creamy, in fact. It soon turns to grass and hay. Finish: honey, white pepper and some fruit. Not really the best conditions for notes, but very good drop. I think I like this one better than .53 above, though both are cracking drams. The others seem to find this one more lively (whatever that means). 8/10

Psycho goes to bed at this time. The fool.

Longmorn 25yo (45%, OB Centenary Edition, b.1994) (supplied by the community): this would warrant a tasting of its own. We tried it last summer, so I will not spend much time writing notes. Nose: a symphony of fruit, of course. Mouth: fruity yoghurt. This is grand. Finish: good for a moment, then passion fruit kicks you in the nuts, while its friends papaya and durian smother you. Cannot wait to give this one more time. 10/10


Port Ellen 24yo 1978/2002 (50%, DL The Old Malt Cask 50º, 474b) (brought by dom666): nose: varnish, polished wood, ash and... Dreft washing powder! Mouth: oh! This is powerful. Burning embers and a touch of red fruit. Water improves the balance greatly. Finish: ash, toasted barley and embers. The ash is a bit invading, really. More pleasant with water. 8/10


Scapa 14yo 2000/2014 (53.9%, OB Cask Strength Edition, SC 14 008) (brought by me): nose: passion fruit and banana (JD), crème brûlée, roasted coffee beans. Mouth: hot dessert rice. Finish: big and powerful, with hot custard. A juicy and lovely dram, this. First CSE for us: the verdict is unequivocally good, which comes as a small surprise, especially considering its place in the sequence. 9/10
Mr Burns says it's excellent

Before going to bed, adc brings chocolate truffles (augmented with Cameron Bridge 25yo DT) that fill everyone with despair. They are wonderful, yet nobody can move, too full with food already.

Psycho presents: Thierry Laphroaig

Laphroaig 18yo (48%, OB, 1LAPH18B02): nose: the peat is kept in check, leaving room for toasted barley and roasted corn flakes. Mouth: again, good balance, with sweet vanilla filtering through the mild peat and enough horsepower to warm us all up. Finish: powerful, yet it retains a certain subtlety all the same. The peat is there, but it is not alone, shouting for attention. 7/10

That awkward moment when someone flicks through a photo album
and realises you are wearing the same polo shirt as ten years ago
JD goes to bed. The fool -- there is only one left! ruckus has a matching t-shirt, which amuses us immensely.

The Old Man of Huy presents: Glen Huggy Bear (you know, the funky informer in Starsky and Hutch)

Glenugie 31yo 1977/2009 (58.1%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, Oloroso Finish, C#7, 577b) (provided by me): nose: noble leather, flat cola, soda bread and yeast (JS). With water, the leather strangely becomes more pronounced, hand in hand with chocolate. Mouth: wow, harmonious! Leather, shoe polish, oxtail broth, then cloves, coriander corns. Water gives it a Chinotto feel -- flat cola, maple syrup. Finish: black pepper, leather coats, ground cardamom, black cardamom, black cumin. With water: long and gulpable, with maple syrup again. A great dram, innit. sonicvince seems impressed. 9/10

JS goes to bed.

Crouching Tiger
Man of Huydden Dragon
I still have a sip of Longmorn to go through. The others decide to join me with a dram of their own. sonicvince calls it quits soon thereafter. The remaining help me tidy up a bit, then it is off to bed for everyone. A very short night it is going to be: it is 5AM.

Absolutely epic tasting. Never have we had such a long line-up that we actually completed. Never have we had so many high flyers. Never have we had so much food either. There are a few minor tweaks here and there that could make the preparation smoother (everything was ready ahead of schedule, though some aspects can still be improved), but shy of everyone bringing pre-war whiskies next time, this year's edition will be hard to top.

20 January 2015

17/01/2015 Memories and regrets

At last, we manage to get a quorum to do a tasting. I need an excuse to propose something I bought on a 17th January, hence the theme.
The suspects: PS, KidJ (JH today), Fixou, JS and myself. JH texts me he will be an hour late, though that ends up being 1h30. We have a dram while waiting (Old Orkney for me, Five Lakes for PS and Fixou; no notes).

PS wants to show how seriously he took the theme, this time, after I teased him last time: he pulls out a bottle of Brora 30yo b.2005. 'The memories part is that I remember it being a great drop. The regrets part is that is is empty.' Motherfucker. :-)
A few are willingly kept a surprise
He also brought an SMWS bottling from distillery 63. Since it is not something we taste every day, I am excited. I also do not know where to fit it in the line-up and need to smell it to decide. Opening it, I break the cork. We will not have it today.

Tomatin 16yo 1995/2011 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail Exclusive for Inverness Airport, Refill Bourbon Barrel, C#5128) (provided by me): a well-known dram for me, yet PS, Fixou and JH have never had it. I regret not being offered a taste at Inverness Airport: I would have bought two bottles. Nose: allspice, lime juice, citrus aplenty. Mouth: very fresh, bursting with lemon tonic and citronella. Finish: hugely citrusy here too. I do not remember it ever being so citrusy. 8/10

Soundtrack: Mamer - Eagle

Dailuaine 17yo 1996/2014 (56.9%, A.D. Rattray Cask, Bourbon Hogshead, C#10622, 281b) (proposed by JS): JS bought this one after liking other Dailuaine expressions and regrets doing so, as she does not find it as good. Nose: dried leather, custard cream biscuits, some spices, green grape juice and apricots. Mouth: mead, then it becomes drier and more acidic with a few spices. Cloves, ground cardamom, garlic. Garlic!? Finish: powerful, but controlled, with green wood, grape skins, dry white wine (Riesling) and a little pepper. Much better than the first time I had it (no notes from then): it was too hot then. The alcohol is now more integrated and the whole is better balanced. No regrets to have, after all. 7/10

JH is quickly catching up and admits he has not had any food yet today, which means he starts to feel the effects of alcohol already. We start nibbling on dried sausages (duck and fig, both of which are very popular) and oat cakes.

Arras b.2009 (>50%, The Whisky Exchange Straight from the Cask) (brought by PS): a memory, since it is a thank-you present PS received for taking the official pictures at the Whisky Show 2009. JH suddenly leaves no doubt regarding his sobriety, 'where can I get this? This is AMAZING!' :-) Arras is a blended malt TWE had in a small cask in the shop. They still have those casks that they bottle in front of whoever buys some, yet this very expression is long gone. Nose: grassy smoke, moss, lichen, clay floors and a curious impression of wax seals. This is spectacular, so far. Salami, prosciutto (JH), Serrano ham, I say. Mouth: fresh and soft, at first. It has the texture of yoghurt, with a smoked apricot taste. Pleasant indeed. Finish: smoke, plums, blueberry pancakes and even notes of blue cheese (JH). Much more complex than expected. Very nice. 8/10

Soundtrack: Tropic Of Cancer - Restless Idylls (I need something suitably moody for the next dram)

Its majesty, the King
Laphroaig 40yo 1960/2001 (42.4%, OB, 3300b) (me): purchased on the 17th January 2004 (the memories), I opened it in good company in 2006 and loved it as much as I had hoped. In 2005, I found a 750ml bottle in a store in the USA. At introduction price. It was still a lot of money for something I had not yet tried and I was not rich at the time (even less than nowadays, that is). I passed (the regrets). Of course, buying a bottle today costs ten times more -- if one can find it. Nose: Fraise Tagada (Fixou), banana (Fixou), basalmic vinegar (Fixou), tropical fruit (PS). It is fruitier than it has ever been, in fact. Blackberry (JH). There is an unbelievable depth of mild peat smoke (JH says incense), as well as white peach, melon, papaya and basalmic vinegar. With water, fruit becomes even more pronounced. Mouth: Fixou summarises thus: smoke, liquorice, aniseed. I note melon again, guava and a bucket of coal in the back of the room. The bucket is made of galvanized metal, obviously. With water: again, the smoke takes the back seat to make it even fresher. Finish: smoke and soot finally become more obvious, alongside shy fruit. Barbecued pineapple, banane flambée. With water: woah! Freshly cut papayas with a veil of dark smoke. This could only have been made in the 1960s. Brilliant. 10/10

The gloomy music has a strong 1980s feel. JH observes that the same sort of music is made today, to which I reply that the circumstances are rather similar: huge gap between rich and poor, uncertainty, constant threat and not much hope it will improve. We talk about innocence and the perpetual quest to claim it back. A pointless quest of course, yet one comes across interesting things and people in the process.

We need something to cleanse the minds and the palates.

Soundtrack: Speedy J - !ive

G5.5 18yo d.1993 Rich, sweet and comforting (65.4%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Virgin Toasted Hogshead, 243b) (me): I remember having to down the leftovers at a tasting with Dave Broom, a couple of year ago. I regret not having had a flask then (the headache was epic). I also know that MJ will regret not being here today. :-) Nose: bakery and blackcurrant. Blackcurrant waffles, then. JH detects Piña Colada and After Eight. Mouth: blackcurrant juice, really. It becomes drying after a while -- it is hot, of course. Finish: bloody hell! The blackcurrant is amazing here. Maybe the sequence makes it come out more than usually, if that is possible. Fixou, not a devout grainhead calls it a grain with bolloques, while JH now tastes mothballs. 9/10

125.? b.2007--2009 Something strawberry (?%, SMWS Society Single Cask) (PS): PS used to have two bottles of this. He lost one (don't ask) and the other broke. He managed to save most of its content by transferring it into smaller bottles. However, he regrets not labelling those, because he now does not remember what the content is, other than 'probably a Glenmorangie, bottled between 2007 and 2009 by SMWS, with strawberry in the name.' Nose: custard cream biscuits, shortbread, butterfingers, nail varnish. This could just as well be a grain, based on the nose. With water: more custard. After letting it breathe for a couple of hours, Nesquik and Nutella suddenly appear. Fixou finds it too girly -- too la-la-la. Mouth: easy and soft, full of barley water. Candied apples, perhaps? Something sugary, in any case. Spicy too: white pepper stings a bit. Finish: lovely tropical fruit in the back, behind the pepper. Once tamed, it remains a summery, fruity, flowery whisky. It requires a very long breathing time to give its full potential, though. Not unlike 125.36 that Fixou brought a while ago. 8/10 (7 at first)

The umpteenth plate of sausages is another hit with everyone. I apologise for having finished the donkey sausage last week. PS, 'don't google "donkey sausage!"'
JH talks about a controversial pen retailer called Pen Island who did not see the giggles coming when they put up their Web site: http://www.penisland.net (or did they?)

Longmorn 19yo 1992/2012 (46%, Acorn Friends of Oak, 120b) (JS): JS regrets yet another messed-up order from TWE's Web site. She had ordered two of these, only to be told four days later that only one was available, despite what the site said. Passing by the shop, she found another couple, proving once again that TWE cannot manage stocks or communication between its warehouse and its shop. Nose: peaches, pears, cut apples (of the cox variety, soon available on www.penisland.net), chocolate pralines, then citrus (grapefruit). Mouth: balanced fruit, apples in custard, vanilla pudding. This is still as great as the first time. Finish: slightly herbaceous -- Fixou finds gentian in it. Light milk chocolate and big lemony notes. 8/10

PS talks about his previous job, which involved locking down kinky sites. JS interjects, 'I like how you try to shock everyone talking about the weird things you saw on porn sites and JH says, "yeah, actually , it's not uncommon in gay porn" every time.'

Clynelish 24yo 1990/2014 (47.5%, Cadenhead London Exclusive, 228b) (brought by Fixou): Clynelish was the first whisky that prompted Fixou to look elsewhere than Islay. Memories, then. Nose: forsythia to me. Fixou says it is, 'close to having melon, but it's just below the boundary,' which cracks me up. White wine acidity and a delicate note of leather. Mouth: this is acidic! White wine, marc de vin blanc. It seems quite simple until something pops up -- brie rind!? Finish: more white wine and the resulting acidity. Medium long, with lots of vegetal tones. An atypical Clynelish, this. The acidity bothers me a bit. It is decent, yet I expect more of a 22yo Clynelish. I was not convinced when I tried it in the shop and am not more so now. Fixou prefers the Small Batch offering we tried recently. So do I. 6/10

Speyside 18yo 1995/2013 (52.3%, Speciality Drinks The Single Malts of Scotland, Sherry Butt, C#0018, 600b) (courtesy of JH): JH is excited to have found this one. He likes it a lot, yet, although the seller told him everything about it, he regrets not remembering which distillery it is actually from (hint: Speyside is a distillery. ;-) ) Nose: rotten grapes (Fixou), winey (PS), dark raisins. Leather, evolving towards dried fruit (figs and Corinth raisins, mostly). Earl Gray tea (Fixou), rubbish (you are not selling it to me, JH); this keeps changing. Cured meat, I say. JH reckons it smells like the carpet of a pub -- vomit, stale beer, musk. Christmas cake, now. Yep, it evolves a lot. Fixou makes me laugh again, 'I can't say I like it, I can't say I don't. I'm lost,' precisely when Bertrand Cantat is singing 'Lost'. Marshmallow and rancid (JH, ever the marketer). Mouth: cured meat again, with gravy and prunes in broth. Irish stew. Finish: Irish stew through and through. Prunes and meat in stout-y broth, as well as very dark chocolate. Good sherry maturation, this. 7/10

JS climbs behind the wheels of steel to play a selection of 1980s obscurities, as well as moody, more recent numbers.

We discuss ratings and gradings. JH observe that, 'we should start grading, like, stuff!'

Laphroaig 17yo 1996/2014 (50.7%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, Hogshead, C#8519, 271b) (Fixou): memories again -- this was Fixou's leaving present from his previous job. Nose: barbecued pig (JH), coal smoke, toasted barley and pickles. Dried sausage, dried herbs. Mouth: hot, spicy, smokey, but not overpowering. JH finds it extreme, Fixou finds it a typical Laphroaig. It is a manly and naked Laphroaig, perfect at this point in the line-up. Even JS agrees, who is not really a peat freak. Finish: again, toasted barley, distant caramel and lots of smoke. Might not be the most subtle Laphroaig we have had today, but it is very efficient. 7/10

Fixou has to leave, but the others stay behind for a post-tasting drink. I pour JH a G4.1. PS insists on stealing the bottle (he offered it to me) or finishing it on my behalf. I give him a dram of Glenury 23yo RMS instead, which he mistakes for a Glenburgie. Not too far off. Both have a Port Dundas 17yo ADR after that.

Superb tasting. Good drams, delicious food, outstanding company and wonderful music, if I say so myself.