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.