29 April 2015

25/04/2015 Golden Promise

There is one particular bottle I want to open, it has a golden label, the theme is based around that.
Only Glengoyne and Macallan still use Golden Promise barley, these days. Most distilleries have replaced it with Optic, presumably because it is cheaper or grows more reliably and efficiently.
That being said, anything with gold or promise in the name will do, as will anything which comes in the colour gold. Considering the usual colour of whisky, that should not be too restrictive.
No-one brings a Gold Bowmore, which disappoints me immensely.

Despite running a poll months ago to determine the best date in a democratic way, 50% of the participants flake out ahead of time, with 25% more flaking on the day (when asked what time they will finally make it in, an hour after the projected start time). Ah, well. More for us.

This one sees only JS, idealrichard and myself, with PS making a late appearance. Considering he had not voted for this date, the visit is appreciated.
The weather is relatively sunny and mild, but it is windy and I am starting a cold (it will prove to be a full-blown flu); we stay indoors.

Scapa 14yo (43%, OB, b. ca 2006) (offered by JS): look at all the golden sun rays on that label! Nose: light and fruity, with melon and grapefruit peels. Mouth: pink grapefruit, with sweetness and bitterness bouncing off each other. Finish: fleeting vanilla and lots of pink grapefruit again. Perfect as a light, summery dram. 8/10

Glen Scotia 17yo (40%, OB, b. ca 1999) (me): golden neck plus golden lines around the box. Nose: oily and earthy, coastal, yet it remains light and summery, with macerating apples. Pear toffee and fine machine oil, watch oil, to be precise (PS, later in the evening). Mouth: an apple bake on the tea shore. Finish: more baked apples and coastal stuff with a wee bit of leather. Love this. 8/10

Benriach 1976/1991 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice) (me): golden cap. I was disappointed when we had this in July last year. Today? Nose: some fruit with lots of burnt leather. Caramelised (burnt) pears and more white fruit in the back. Burnt peach too. Mouth: peach again, then orange. Finish: the fruit tickles somewhat. This is crisp and long and, well, very nice. Still not what I expected from that vintage from that distillery, but better impression than the first. 7/10

Bunnahabhain 18yo XVIII (46.3%, OB, P029602 15 12297 16:15) (idealrichard): look at all those golden writings! Nose: a distinct sherry influence, here, with hot leather, soft raisins and dried figs. Mouth: black bun, caramelised dough. It is rather salty too (idealrichard). Finish: a whisper of peat, balanced out by the sherry notes -- raisins, dried figs, and leather. Very pleasant. 7/10

Five Lakes Canadian Whisky 3yo (40%, Five Lakes Blend, EMB 62140 549) (me): another golden cap and golden line, another one idealrichard has never had before. Nose: rum, through and through, Armagnac (idealrichard), hot cane sugar, perhaps even piña colada. Finish: rum again, with lots of sugar. Not blinding, well pleasant. Amusingly, I find out later I have not had this one at a tasting since the same day last year. 6/10

Ardmore 25yo 1988/2014 (45%, Gordon & Co. Pearls of Scotland, C#2455, 300b, L14 043 PB) (idealrichard): more golden writings. idealrichard bought this one because he liked the official 25yo so much and was disappointed with it. The comparison, although inevitable, likely did this particular bottling a disservice. Now that he has digested that, how does this one fare? JS finds it peaty, but crisp and delicate at the same time. Nose: super dry earth. And hay. Think a hay stack in a dry, crusty field, under the midday sun. Mouth: dry earth again, with lots of pepper, this time. Finish: dry, peaty and fruity. It is not a 1992, but it is pretty solid and good value for money. 8/10

Glen Elgin 30yo 1978/2009 (49.1%, Cadenhead Chairman's Stock, Bourbon Hogshead, 234b) (me): of course, this is the bottle that triggered this theme -- look at that bling label! One needs sunglasses just to look at it! Nose: perfume-y, with a touch of leather. Flowers, a few fruits, then the trademark earth -- it is a Glen Elgin from the 1970s after all. Mouth: rose water, orange blossom, a pinch of earth. This is complex and lovely. Finish: long and pleasant, flowery and beautiful, with a little touch of burnt sienna. Apple and blackcurrant crumble, light dessert pears and toffee (PS). Wonderful Glen Elgin, at the magical crossroads between old-school austerity and new-school consensuality. 8/10 likely 9, once it has had time to open up more.

idealrichard has to leave, which makes this a perfectly-paced lineup, probably. PS walks in an hour later and has the Benriach, the Glen Scotia and the Glen Elgin, as well as the following two.

4.172 13yo d.1999 Tangerine trees and marmalade skies (60.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 235b) (PS): if Macallan still uses Golden Promise, Highland Park belongs to the same group. Alright, then. Also, marmalade is golden. Nose: vinegar, earth and heather or lavender. Mouth: warm, with hot honey, cough syrup. That was heather honey, of course. Finish: a whiff of light smoke, a tame heather fire, hot toddy. A good HP that probably reminds me a bit too strongly that my cold is getting worse and worse. 7/10

G7.2 27yo d.1984 Fascinating and inspiring (60.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 270b) (PS): if I remember correctly, this one picked the gold medal at a recent Girvan tasting PS posted about. Or something. Nose: corn on the cob, varnish, wood shavings, ground coconut. Mouth: warm and comforting, though it comes full of wood splinters. Or is that my throat getting sore? Finish: pineapple and coconut (piña colada), custard and even blackcurrants. A wonderful Girvan. 8/10

Another very good tasting, despite the low turnover. Good drams, good pace, good to catch up with friends I had not seen in a while.

14 April 2015

13/04/2015 April outturn and steak night at the SMWS

It is that time of the month already. MS tags along, though he is not feeling well and leaves us straight after the steaks. He still has time to try 41.64. Again. :-)

JS has had two drams by the time MS and I join her. I eat my steak prior to any dram.

35.128 11yo d.2002 A tropical tango of taste (60.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 239b): nose: fudge and custard, roasted barley, overly-baked bread, then grape juice and a lot of alcohol. Mouth: tickling, with the bitterness of green plants and a sweet-and-sour touch of pomelo juice. Finish: warming, with soda bread and sourdough. Average. 6/10

72.43 10yo d.2004 Bunsen burner and burnt capacitors (59.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill White Wine Hogshead, 262b): nose: very meaty, this. It smells of sherry and wine-marinated meat. Mouth: wine and wine-marinated meat. Not very subtle, nor complex. Finish: dark-chocolate liqueur pralines. The finish is slightly redeeming, yet it is not my weapon of choice.  Water does not change it much. 5/10

73.69 22yo d.1992 Dark side eclipsed by sweet joys (52.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 620b): nose: wood varnish and marinated meat again -- this one is not my thing. Maybe some damp earth too. After a while, it turns to saddle and beef skin. Mouth: varnish, game casserole with too much wine. Finish: more action, at last, with notes of plant sap. It is mostly mulled wine, vermouth and sangria, however. 4/10

46.30 14yo d.2000 Flowers and chocolate for Churchill (58.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 267b): nose: dairy smells (boiling milk, melting butter), the cheap seats of a car parked in the sun, hyacinth leaves. Mouth: bitter. Not pleasant. Finish: long, invading, with a mix of plant juice and lemon detergent. Not my thing. 4/10

50.63 24yo d. 1990 Boozy buccaneers! (58.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 126b): nose: brioche, vanilla-flavoured dough and lots of hot spices. Mouth: warm and herbaceous, almost metallic -- that will be the verbena. Finish: warm and metallic, with notes of verbena. 7/10

123.14 9yo d.2005 Playful spices buzz the mouth (57.4%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 225b): nose: ethereal, with just a drop of flower sap. Mouth: discreet, with notes of flowers and orchard fruit. Finish: it becomes bitter, for a second, then lets orchard fruit emerge -- sweet apples, pears and peaches. This is probably the best 123 we have had at the Society, for the last few years. 7/10

3.206 15yo d.1997 Dark and mysterious (56.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill Sherry Butt, 445b): not sure where this one comes from -- we had 2.239, last month! Nose: gouache. crayons, all sorts of paint thinners and brushes. Farmyard action then starts taking place -- ploughed fields, manure and all. Mouth: rather gentle and balanced, though still big and drying. Lichen and moss. Finish: a cowboy in a ranch, wearing leather chaps. Lots of earth and ash, with a faint splash of raspberry jam. 7/10

7.113 24yo d.1989 'Takes you to another place' (51.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Port Barrique, 147b): this one is not part of the outturn, but we spot it on the shelf and decide to try it all the same. Turns out it is a bottling for Denmark. Nose: perfume, rosewater, orange rinds. Mouth: easygoing, pulpy orange juice. Finish: caramel at first, then waves of fruit radiate, one after the other. Good, this. 8/10

129.6 6yo d.2008 Peated candy (58.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 243b): nose: pungent peat, hay stacks and powerful alcohol. Mouth: diced, dried pineapple, muesli-style, with loads of peat, of course. Finish: peat smoke, dried pineapple cubes and barley. Best Kilchoman in a while, this. "I like that it's not one extreme or the other, it's a marriage. It's like a Loyd Grossman sauce," says JS. 7/10

Not a particularly good day for me. It seemed like the poorest outturn in many months and I was not very available, mentally. The steaks were better cooked than last time, yet I think the Saturday formula suits me better.

13 April 2015

11/04/2015 Unorthodox bottle formats

In a permanent quest for a theme that is original and interesting enough, whilst remaining open enough for everyone to be able to take part, this seems like a good idea. Anything that is not a tall, 70cl, glass bottle will do -- dumpies, half-bottles, minis, decanters, ceramic, you name it.
Despite careful planning, PS and JH call off the day before. Shame, but their loss.
The suspects: MJ, MS, JS and myself.

The menu, minus MJ's contribution, cos he is late

Although relatively new to this game,
MS is a complete geek already
Glenkinchie 12yo (43%, OB, 20cl) (offered by JS): nose: drying hay, roasting pineapple, a drop of apricot juice. MJ says sweet clementine and finds it polite. MS agrees and does not mean it as a compliment. Mouth: apricot juice in which the stone has been left to soak. Finish: mild, with a lingering sweetness, vanilla sugar and honey. Very good, this. Summery, perfect for today and better than in my memories. I suspect no-one will ever write a book about it, but it does what it is supposed to do. 7/10

Glenmorangie Artisan Cask (46%, OB, 50cl flat bottle) (JS): nose: hazelnut oil on doughnut. Raspberries appear in the back of the nose. In fact, it feels like raspberry yoghurt. Exotic fruits show up, eventually: mangos and papayas. Mouth: more raspberry yoghurt. It is sparkly (JS) with a hint of exotic fruit, as well as walnut and lemon sorbet (MS). Finish: sparkly, with raspberry yoghurt and coconut cream. This one has been a favourite since it came out in 2006. It never disappoints. 9/10

Glengoyne 15yo (43%, OB, 5cl) (brought by MJ): nose: notes of dunnage warehouse, yet the dominant smell is red-wine-marinated meat. Coq-au-vin, pigeon casserole or cured venison, with bay leaves in the broth. MS reckons it reeks of a baseball glove left in the front locker. It is surprisingly full of personality, in any case. Water makes it fruity (peach). Mouth: orange juice and coq-au-vin broth. With water: tame marmalade. Finish: mild coffee, latte, chocolate milk. With water, yep, more marmalade and lemon juice. Not entirely my bag (a bit too meaty), but rather interesting. 6/10

Bruichladdich The Organic Scottish Barley (50%, OB, MAR 14, P/132239 14/051, 100cl blue bottle) (MJ): nose: unripe green melon with some leather. The nose oscillates between grassy, cerealy and fruity notes in a pleasant manner. This is muesli. MS detects caramel and grapefruit, JS finds it sweet. Hints of butter, in the back. Mouth: fruit juice-like in texture with some horsepower. Cream. Let us face it: this is a spoonful of muesli again. Finish: weirdly out of sync with the nose and the palate, this delivers barley and smoke, salt and pepper. Water does not change it much. 7/10

Miltonduff 16yo 1998/2014 (52.9%, OB Cask Strength Edition, MD 16 004, 50cl dumpy) (brought by MS): nose: bonded warehouse, lichen on wood, fruit (melon skins) and a discreet scent of varnish. Mouth: pear juice in texture, with pineapple notes, more (green) melon and fiery pepper, alongside barley water. Lovely stuff. Finish: the weak point of this dram, though it remains good. Unripe melon, unripe avocado, chilli, unobtrusive coconut and vanilla. A wonderful CSE. 8/10

Port Dundas 23yo (43%, Vom Fass, b. ca 2013, 70cl square bottle) (brought by myself): nose: nail varnish, mostly. Some paint too. It feels like getting high on paint whilst repainting a wall. Triggered by MJ, MS goes into a childhood recollection about plantains. Coconut and vanilla make a late appearance, in the back, bringing some herbs along (tarragon? Oregano?) Mouth: thin, though creamy enough for the Old Man of Huy. Trademark coconut and vanilla. Finish: pine sap, varnish; it is very woody, of course (it is a grain, after all), but not overly so. A plain good grain, not stellar, but pleasant. 7/10 (Thanks dom666)

Scapa 14yo 2000/2014 (53.9%, OB Cask Strength Edition, SC 14 008, 50cl dumpy) (me): we had this one for Burns' Night and loved it then. Nose: crisp, acidic apples, hints of lichen on stone, peach stone bitterness. Also weird notes of unidentified fruit -- pineapple? Grapefruit? Mouth: warm, slightly peppery, full of fruit (pink grapefruit). Finish: our dear clogged sink (aka decaying fruit), then chilli-sprinkled fruit. Great, bold, complex drams, those CSE, so far. Love this. 9/10

Aberlour 23yo 1989/2013 (54.9%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Hogshead, 522b, 70cl square bottle) (me): MJ insists this one is not in theme, since it is 70cl. He is nitpicking to retaliate for my teasing him other times. Nose: herbs (tarragon, verbena, oregano) with a hint of leather in the back. MS finds it full of personality -- an alternative personality, rather than the usual, modern markers, such as vanilla or coconut. Mouth: slightly warm, with more herbs on warm pudding. Finish: becoming hotter, now, more influenced by the verbena, ie slightly metallic. Not a very easy dram, this, but interesting it is! 8/10

Glasgow Blend (43%, Compass Box, 50cl) (me): the whole theme was some kind of excuse to open this one all along. And I forgot to add it to the lineup. Luckily, I remember on time! Nose: the peat is really obvious, here -- much more so than anticipated. Farmyard, ploughed fields, smoke. Mouth: surprisingly mild (then again, it is merely 43%) with a bit of fruit (apricot juice) and fried bacon. Finish: yup, the peat dominates again, with crisp bacon, earth and some barbecue smoke -- even charcoal (MS, who is very sensitive to peat). This is good, yet a bit straightforward, especially after the last few complex ones. Not sure where else it would have fit in, though. 6/10 (Thanks MJ)

Linlithgow 25yo 1982/2008 (59.2%, Signatory Vintage for LMDW Collectors' Edition, Wine-treated Butt, C#2201, 388b, 70cl decanter) (me): austere to the max, this time, with flint, rosemary, then loads of lemon juice. And a few pears for good measure. Mouth: sparkly, today; it gives me an impression of citric-powder-filled, UFO-shaped sweets from yesteryears. Pears and lemon/lime juice with balls. Fucking balls. Finish: fruit and flint. This is lovely, today. Better than ever before. 8/10

Dailuaine 22yo d.1973 (61.80%, OB Rare Malts Selection, 20cl) (me): MS and JH have a distinct enthusiasm for this distillery, so I thought I would share this with them one last time. JH is not in, which means more for everyone else. :-) Nose: leather, flowers, then I stop taking notes, somehow. Mouth: MS finds it engaging, and, with honey and infusing tea, it is indeed. It is also brimming with Watts! 62%, caramba! Finish: it now becomes more bitter, with a hint of dark chocolate, then full-on, bitter tea. Difficult to put words on it, so complex it is. Will not be able to any longer, since it is now empty, but more notes here. Great drop, though. 8/10

Chilling. Drinking.

MJ leaves to be home by curfew time. It has been a very good and very sunny afternoon, full of great whisky. As a nightcap, we three have a Glenugie C#7. No notes for it -- we all know it is not very good. :o)