23 February 2015

21/02/2015 An afternoon of rarities and oddities at the SMWS

ruckus is visiting. He has wanted to visit the SMWS for a while; time to take him through the ordeal. JS and MS join us later. Of course, PS is on site, as are a handful of other regulars.
Both my camera batteries die on me. No pictures today.

64.55 24yo A sultry soirée (55.8%, SMWS The Tasting Panel's Choice 2014): I ask for a recommendation and am shown this. It was never part of any outturn, I never saw it. Nose: tobacco and faded rose petals. It opens up to reveal sherbet, banana and vanilla. Wood-driven, then, as most of the output of this distillery I have had; I see it as a good thing, though. ruckus finds it akin to cough effervescent tablets. Nail polish makes an appearance at some late stage (burgundy in colour). Mouth: more tobacco, tar and pine planks. Rather acidic... and hot. Finish: Suc des Vosges sweets, lime, pine needles. Good and refreshing, if not the best dram SMWS released in 2014. 7/10

50.60 24yo d.1990 Complex and interest sustaining! (53.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 34b): lowest outturn I have ever seen here. Another one that was not part of any outturn. Nose: caramel (Werther's Original, says ruckus), wood glue and white melon. This one shifts a lot! Freshly cut hay soon comes out, as well as whiffs from a jam cupboard, then apples and jonquils. Apricot shows up too. ruckus reckons it smells like a paedophile grandfather (that would be cigars, old wood and sweets, probably). Mouth: balanced and pleasant, with cigar leaves, bay leaves, honey and a bit of embers heat. Finish: long and beautiful, round, sweet and full, with dried dates and dried figs. Beautiful, this. 8/10

PS shows us a bottle of St. George's Pedro Ximenez (19%, OB, b.2011). An interesting concept: the English Whisky Co. buys full sherry casks because they cannot buy empty ones. To maximise profit avoid wasting the sherry, they cut it with their own new make, bring it down to 19% ABV and sell it as a liqueur.

35.117 17yo d.1996 Cock-a-hoop with happiness (54.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, First-Fill Designer Barrel, 185b): what the deuce is a designer barrel, you ask? A marketing term is probably the right answer. Nose: light and ethereal, with hints of lemon sweets. Mouth: the Whisky Cyclist chooses this precise moment to talk to me, which means I have to swallow quickly. No notes. Finish: yellow flowers. Pleasant, if not revolutionary. 7/10

41.64 30yo d.1984 Sharing, caring loving dram (53.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 210b): shock! Another one out of nowhere. Nose: pine wood, perfume. Mouth: pine again, acidic and incisive. Finish: long and big, with tons of pine stuff (Gocce Pino, to be precise). MS samples it (blind) and is taken. He ranks it close to 41.61, which I think is funny. I find it OK. Good whisky, but not on the same level as 41.61 to me and more expensive. Pity. 7/10

85.26 28yo 1985/2013 Fragrant perfumes and deeper resonances (44.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, First-Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 186b): staff recommendation for JS. Nose: dry earth and coffee. The initial hint of meat vanished quickly. Very perfumey (hence the name, innit). Something from a tuna sandwich, says JS. It appears it is neither the tuna, nor the sandwich, but celery, she says. Water makes this one more leathery. Mouth: warm and comforting, with a quiet fireplace in the background. With water, it becomes fruitier, revealing tame peaches. Finish: wine, yet the dominant notes are dry clay, ash and black-leaf, milky tea. Water, again, makes it fruitier, still adding tame peaches. 7/10

We are invited to PS's secret pad for a couple more.

Linlithgow 25yo 1982/2007 (57.4%, SD The Single Malts of Scotland, Hogshead, C#1872, 85b): nothing at first, yet that void is quickly filled by cigar boxes, then cut pears. With water, it becomes jammier and fruitier, with blood oranges and juicy plums. Mouth: very warm honey, then embers and burning vegetables leaves. With water, blood orange juice, augmented with a few drops of lime juice. Is there a pinch of salt too? Finish: indistinct fruit and flowery soap. Water makes it warmer, strangely enough. 8/10 (thanks PS)

Linkwood 11yo (60.5%, James MacArthur In Celebration 500 Years of Scotch Whisky, Sherry Cask, b.1994): meat, then decaying flowers and rotting mushrooms. Mouth: white wine, gin, even. Finish: powerful and stripping, with paint thinner and stainless steel plates. Interesting experience, though not my favourite whisky. 6/10 (thanks GT)

Superb afternoon, as usually.

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