30 May 2015

30/05/2015 PS's birthday bash

PS is celebrating a non-milestone birthday today and invited people to a non-formal do at his crashing place in the city.
Immediately, a discussion about software development and management takes place. I purposedly do not take part in the rather sterile debate.

Brora 22yo 1981/2003 (46%, Signatory Vintage The Un-Chill Filtered Collection, Sherry Butt, C#1635, 806b): the fabled "lesser Brora" PS promised he would pull out. It could seem odd to try and lure people into attending by announcing you will pour a "lesser" whisky, but hey! perhaps, he was aiming for a low turnout. Nose: beeswax, honey, apricots, hints of cut grass and distant charcoal alongside plum skins. A very nice nose, this is! Charcoal becomes bolder after a few sips and after experiencing the finish. There might even be a note of paint thinner in there somewhere. Mouth: pretty similar to the nose, with wax, waxy fruit, a touch of bitterness (cut grass and plant sap) and pleasant apricot juice. A twist of the black-pepper mill spices the whole thing up and makes it well interesting. Finish: a mild kick of charcoal is immediately noticeable over a backdrop of beeswax, apricots, plums, and still the cut grass. The charcoal soon fades away, leaving fruit and grass. The charcoal dryness becomes more and more persistent, the longer one drinks this. It remains good, as long as one likes their whisky dry and charcoal-y, of course. Third Brora this week (whazzaaaaa!) and it is beautiful. 8/10 (thanks PS x2)

7.116 29yo d.1985 It's good to arrive (58.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 116b): nose golden syrup (JS), mead, royal jelly, litres of juicy jam, rose-petal jelly -- this is really lovely! Faint yellow fruit (JS), unripe apricot. Mouth: flat at first, yet it quickly rises to become warm, even slightly peppery, with a sprinkle of fruit juice. Finish: woah! Candied pears, pear pie with candied sugar on top, honey and Pineau des Charentes. Is this lovely or what? 8/10

Springbank 10yo 1995/2006 (16%, Alchemist for Potstill Vienna, Port Casks): first time I try anything from this bottler, yay! A young, sherried Springbank, by the looks of it -- but no! It is a full Port maturation. Nose: flat cola, a faint whiff of rotten eggs, subtle smoke and even a farmy quality to it. Frangipane makes a late appearance. Mouth: some engine oil, walnut kernels, hazelnut oil, flat cola again. Finish: more cola and hazelnut. It is rather sparkly and leaves the tongue dry like 80%-cocoa chocolate. Still nice and interesting. 7/10 (thanks PS)

Tormore 12yo 1984/1997 (64.4%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection): woo! Nose: doughy (JS), with touches of black cardamom, dandelions and fruit. Mouth: flowery to accompany bakery action. Finish: more bakery and flowers (or is that flours?), jam rolls and milk chocolate. Very, very nice indeed! 8/10 (thanks GK)

"Smell this!"
We have to leave at this stage. A pleasant afternoon it was, if mildly overcast by a mishap that will be remembered as the Penderyngate (for those who know). Good to talk to people I do not see every day and to meet new ones. Happy birthday, PS.

28 May 2015

25/05/2015 Clearing the shelves #4

Caperdonich 12yo 1997/2009 Autumn Distillation (46%, DMG Provenance, Refill Hogshead, C#DMG5569): this has been a daily dram, lately. Time for final notes, since the bottle is now empty. Nose: green-grape juice, a distant garden fire, fueled by dry grass. After a shy start, the grass grows in intensity, alongside plums. The nose is also peppered with dust, old newspapers and cardboard boxes. Mouth: green-grape juice it is, sweet at first, though not devoid of a certain bitterness. Apple crumble and green chilli -- a most pleasant combination. Finish: warm, now, with milk chocolate, cinnamon, ground cloves and delicious apple crumble, alongside chargrilled bell pepper. It remains fresh and lively, sweet and enticing, without ever becoming vulgar. A good dram, this. Not museum-worthy, but then it does not aim for that either. 7/10

Brora 1982/2008 (43%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, Refill Sherry Butt): I had this one in Edinburgh last year. Great to get to try it again. It is now not available in that restaurant in Edinburgh, by the way. No use rushing to it for that sole purpose. Nose: dusty books, a car mechanic's workshop -- metal tools and various engine oils. It all makes room for hot candle wax and old coins (shillings, at least). All the same, behind this austerity, fruit is fighting for attention, as well as varnish. Speaking of varnish, it stings the nostril a bit, likely due to the alcohol, which is strange, at 43%. Mint leaves, for a second, angel food cake, that brownish black funk underneath the sink's plug -- a mix of fungus, lichen, food residue and humidity. Mouth: it is now soft as a baby bunny's fur, with apricot juice, plum juice, perhaps even mango, though more for the texture than the taste. Wonderful balance, here. Well, I am sure some self-proclaimed connoisseurs would find it watery. ;) Ash emerges after a while. Finish: quite simply waxy-fruit juice, sprinkled with ash. Not so much farmyard as proper ashes, dry and difficult. This back-and-forth between fruit and ashes is really something! 8/10

Brora 20yo 1982/2003 (58.1%, OB Rare Malts Selection, B#5382): nose: a lot wider than the previous -- this is cask strength and it feels that way. Eau-de-vie, grappa, even, a cascade of very ripe apples and pears (which one should not compare) that gives way to earth -- a field ploughed a couple of days earlier, to be precise. Apricot stones, overripe avocado skins and, finally, a dunnage warehouse, full of clay, ageing wood, dust and lichen. With water: fruit juice in a bonded warehouse. It becomes pretty obscene, to be honest. Mouth: full and powerful, at cask strength, carrying hot chilli powder, earth, crushed fruit stones, which give it a slightly woody and bitter note. The texture is rather juicy, almost oily. Not quite silky, due to the chilli. Water makes it creamier, with more apricots, peaches, perhaps pineapple, and less chilli. Wow. Finish: fruit juice again, waxy-fruit juice augmented with a dash of oil, a pinch of earth and a few old, lichen-covered barrel shavings. Once more, water removes the imperfections and makes it very fruity without much else. It is now more immediately accessible and pleasurable, but maybe less interesting. Another excellent Rare Malt, of course. Looking forward to trying it again! 8/10 (thanks pat gva)

27 May 2015

20/05/2015 Edradour distillery tour

This time, the distillery is open! The next tour starts five minutes after we reach there; it would be rude to say no. We? adc, JS and myself.

Interestingly, the tour runs in reverse to any other tour I have been on -- it starts with the tasting and progressively goes back to the milling process. Notes are short out of necessity.

Edradour 10yo (40%, OB, Sherry Cask, b. ca 2014): nose: lots of toffee and slightly burnt caramel on a bed of primrose. Time helps it release a whiff of burnt cork. Mouth: velvety, with gravy and sticky toffee pudding. Finish: more toffee and warm caramel, then comes a note of cured meat, game, and finally, cooked wine. 6/10

You get to keep the glass too
Edradour 15yo (46%, OB, Barolo Cask, b. ca 2014): nose: smoke and barbecue, meat marinade and barbecue sauce. Mouth: spices, marinated meat. Finish: it is wine-y, but quite alright, actually. 6/10

Those two complement a short film about the history of Edradour. Without being horrible, it is not particularly interesting, nor well made: it is a marketing vehicle that calls upon tradition and craft in a bid to strike an emotional chord with punter. Lo and behold, it works, considering the amount of bottles they sell in the shop. It is not as dire as the video in Bowmore, Ben Nevis or Dalmore (the worst of all), but yes, it is targeted at tourists.

The guide then whisks us off to the warehouse where I am excited to see casks that belong to Signatory Vintage (Caol Ila, Tomintoul, Glenlivet, and a few closed distilleries, but hush!) She has a hard time explaining visitors what an independent bottler is or does and what their point is. Most cannot fathom why casks of Glenlivet sit in Edradour's warehouses and which role Signatory plays into all that. I try to help, which is admittedly foolish.

Next stop is the distilling house and its two stills. Interestingly, Edradour still uses worm tubs to cool off the distilled spirit. The worms can be seen very clearly in the tubs, unlike those at Old Pulteney. They also have an open-deck Morton refrigerator, which is fascinating. On the other hand, their mill is not a Porteus. Surely, an oddity in this industry!

Worm tubs, ZOMG!

Ze bar
Glossing over the technical details (it is not the point of this blog), we finish where we started: in the shop. Purchases are made, then we are off to possibly the most interesting port of call of this place: the bar! Aside the regular Edradour range, the bar offers a selection of Signatory bottlings. Woo!

Longmorn 13yo 1996/2009 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Refill Sherry Butt, C#40777, 872b): nose: light and ethereal, with a bit of leather and pepper, as well as ginger. A horse stable and a pinch of tobacco. Mouth: sharp and fresh, with muesli and a bit of spice again. Finish: milk chocolate and a few drops of orange juice. Not a stellar Longmorn, though it sort of does the trick. 6/10

Glenburgie 15yo 1997/2012 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Hogsheads, 1928+1929, 833b): nose: orange peels, cinnamon, ground cloves, sumac. Mouth: fresh, with soft clementines and a rather unexpected kick. Finish: citrus and milk chocolate, perhaps cinnamon. 7/10

Springbank 40yo 1969/2009 (54.4%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, Refill Sherry Butt, C#263, 356b): we had this one at the Show, last year, and were very impressed (I was, at least). Since one does not get to try these sorts of things every day, now seems a good time. Nose: wax (adc), loads of apples, waxy papayas, bananas, plantains. Is there a hint of smoke, here too? It is absolutely gorgeous is what it is! Mouth: creamy and delicate, with more fruit and love than I can count, as well as a sprinkle of green chilli flakes. Turkish delights? Finish: candied pistachios and candied green olives. This finish is long, velvety, creamy, fruity and so well balanced it is moving. Unbelievable. 9/10

The highlight for adc was to spot this songthrush. :-)

26 May 2015

16/05/2015 Sunny tasting

With adc in town, we were always going to drink a dram or two. MS and JH free themselves up and join in on the fun. KB will not show up, unfortunately.
The programme is inoffensive and lighthearted. It is a bright mid-May day and we will have a few without much thought put into it.

Caperdonich 12yo 1997/2009 (46%, Douglas MacGibbon Provenance, Refill Hogshead, Spring Distillation, C#DMG5569) (brought by me): nose: plum juice, raisins, cherries. Thirty minutes later, pears and rum appear. Mouth: fruity and acidic, though not overly so, with more plums and raisin pips. Finish: mellow, gently fruity, with even a note of tame chocolate in the background. Very good dram to start with. 7/10

Balvenie 15yo 1989/2004 (47.8%, OB Single Barrel, C#8419) (me): nose: adc thinks it smells like cheese. Coconut and fruit juice (plums and grapes again). Mouth: a bit thin, but enjoyable nonetheless. Vanilla makes way to pepper. Finish: wood influence (coconut, vanilla and spices). Decent, not blinding, today. Easy to drink. JH finds it bland and weak. 7/10

Kornog (46%, OB) (brought by JH): nose: a camp fire in the distance, with a dominant note of roasted, juicy apples and a whiff of rose petals. Pine-tree resin (adc). I detect some juicy berries, but am unable to identify them. Red-fruit-and-marzipan shampoo. Mouth: this is more powerful than expected, yet it remains balanced, with lots of fruit (cherry). It is lively, peppery, yet mellow -- if it makes sense. Finish: some peat at last, kept well in check, and lots of fruit (more cherries). Mellow, complex, whilst strangely accessible. Wide, full, rich and plain lovely. A souvenir from Brittany, this turns out to be close to kornography (boom-tsch). 8/10

Glenlivet 16yo Nàdurra b.2013 (55.5%, OB, B#1013Z, LG31569) (brought by MS): nose: lime, coconut, mojito (JH), hawthorn, a touch of verbena, nettles and lemongrass. adc and JH find vetiver. They should run a gardening store. Mouth: Serrano ham is the immediate impression, yet it is also sugary and peppery at the same time. Werther's Original, says JH. Finish: the wood influence is wonderful, if one likes that. Vanilla is flowing, and there is a fleeting note of killer fruit (apricot, I think). "It irradiates," says adc. It leaves a metallic impression on the tongue. 8/10

Dailuaine 17yo 1996/2014 (56.9%, A.D. Rattray Cask Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, C#10622, 281b) (brought by JS): nose: ivy, bay leaves and Oreos (MS). Mouth: pretty spicy (green chilli) and leafy (ivy and bay leaves again). Finish: it is now rather dry and bitter, with white grape skins. JH and MS love this, but then they compete in their love for Dailuaine. 7/10

We move out to the newly-refurbished terrace, while the sun is shining.

44.56 23yo d.1989 Sweet and sour creative tension (51.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 300b) (JS): nose: tarragon (JH), cigars (JH). I am distracted and take little notes. Mouth: floral, with the mellowness and acidity of fruit. Foie gras (JH) or liver pâté. Finish: more floral qualities to it, with plant juice and lovely bakery essences. 8/10

64.40 22yo 1990/2012 Gingery heat and oaky tannins (53.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 172b) (me): nose: wood juice all round -- custard, coconut, cocoa, pine dust. Mouth: super fresh, with wood shavings and lots of freshly-milled pepper on top. I am not getting much of the ginger the label talks about, though it is spicy. Finish: a lovely mix of custard, pine needles and wood shavings, with a twist of the pepper mill. 9/10

Glen Elgin 30yo 1978/2009 (49.1%, Cadenhead Chairman's Stock, Bourbon Hogshead, 234b) (me): neither JH nor MS were here for Golden Promise and I want adc to taste this, so there you go. Nose: caramel and vanilla (adc), herbs and metal, with an added note of fruit. Nail varnish is here too, burnt wood (adc), tame liquorice and pears (MS). "I don't like this" (JH); "Oooooooh!" (adc); "Reminds me of HP18: damp, wet attic" (JH). Mouth: this is so mellow and balanced, with grape juice, even grapefruit notes (the acidity), and so fresh, still. Mint and liquorice (MS) show up in the mouth too. Finish: damp earth, liquorice, herbs (basil, says adc) and blossoming buds. Love it. 9/10

Bowmore 32yo 1968/2001 (45.5%, OB for the 50th Anniversary of the Stanley P. Morrison Company, 1860b) (me): because if one cannot pour it in such perfect circumstances, then when is it any good, eh? Nose: cocaine (JH), poppers (JH), Swiffer Dusters (adc), citrus (kalamantsi or kumquat, adc reckons). Mango and papaya, as far as I am concerned, but 1) I know what it is (the others do not) and 2) it is tame while outside, where they first nose it. We go back in for this: the gentle wind is sweeping away all the aromas -- a shame. It has a tame seaside aspect and is slightly earthy. Dates, Turkish delights (MS), Barolo (MS). Mouth: lavender (adc), a fruity cavalcade with a hint of smoke. Is this stupidly good? Of bloody course, it is! Mangoes come up in the back, JH even finds tiramisù (and reckons it is a grain). Finish: odd (MS), unexpected (MS), rubber-shoe soles (adc): sweet, rubbery and a bit worn out, she says. Banana (adc). I find an artistic balance of fruit, earthy tones and smokey dryness. MS keeps saying he finds "nothing wrong with this at all," which I find an extremely British thing to say. JH believes it is a grain or a Speyside, adc says a Longmorn 28yo, JS thinks of a single blend, while MS claims it is a 22yo Speysider from a bourbon hogshead. All wrong. 10/10

I disclose the pedigree of the bottle, at which point, MS observes: "You keep saying it is not a competition to bring the most impressive bottle, but then you pour things like this."
Half a point, I suppose.

Excellent afternoon, with quite a few surprises. MS kindly put together a chirpy selection of music we all enjoy (I take the hint ;) ). It includes a version of Romeo and Juliet he attributes to The Killers; I have to prove him wrong by playing it and the original together without missing a beat: it is the Dire Straits original indeed.

7 May 2015

06/05/2015 Whisky and chocolate at Cadenhead's

Cadenhead's is hosting a chocolate-and-whisky-pairing evening at their shop. It was a bit of a headache, I understand, since the tasting room is in the shop's basement and said basement was flooded three times over the last few weeks -- the last two times taking place in the same week. The culprit? The infamous non-flushable, "flushable" wet wipe, of course. I am told fifteen metres of pipes were clogged with the bugger. Cannot understand how this environmental disaster (the wet wipe does not dissolve) is still legal.

Anyway, ignoring the shitbomb we all avoided (literally), the plan is to try old whiskies and pair them with artisan chocolate. Being from Huy, the Old Man has generally high expectations, when it comes to chocolate. However, this is not a chocolate blog, nor will it become one. Consequently, the only notes you will find below are about the whiskies -- and then they are sometimes thin, seeing the pace. The chocolates were good, particularly the salted caramel and the 62% dark ones.

The twelve-strong attendance is made of regular customers and hardcore whisky geeks. I finally meet BC from Ben's Whisky Blog. This will not be a discovery tasting, that is certain! We determine the order more or less at random, since we do not know in advance what we are tasting.

Tomintoul-Glenlivet 28yo 1995/2014 (48.9%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Barrel, 198b): nose: pineapple, citrus peel, undergrowth flowers, very fresh and lively. Mouth: crisp, fresh and citrus-y, with lashes of crushed mint leaves. It feels rather drying, with chocolate notes -- probably the wood influence. Other than that, the alcohol is perfectly integrated. Finish: a weird note of grassy chocolate and daisies. Water does not change it much. Glad to try this, as it has been looking at me from the shelves for a while. I was probably hoping for better, though. 7/10

Tormore 30yo 1984/2015 (55.8%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Barrels, 432b): this one I have had before and liked. Excited to try it in better conditions. Nose: much deeper nose than the Tomintoul, with a distinct blood-orange sweetness and an odd note of oilcloth fabric. It brings me back to a particular smell at my grandmother's, one of her sewing boxes, if I remember correctly. Why it smelt of oilcloth fabric, I do not know. Back to the topic: mango skins. This nose is a very unusual blend of fruit and plastic. Mouth: velvety and orange-y with a hint of green pepper. Lovely, this! Water makes it sparkly, not unlike cider (BC). Finish: woah! A generous sprinkle of green pepper on a bowl of milk-chocolate mousse (I know, that is wrong, isn't it?) Wonderful dram. 8/10

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 38yo 1976/2015 (50.8%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 210b): another one I previously tried in a tiny plastic cup. Nose: lots of metal and herbs -- gunmetal, thyme, rosemary, oregano, tarragon. Lovely and complex with even a note of bacon in the back. And everyone knows bacon is the magic ingredient that makes anything better. Mouth: a different game, now, with unripe pears. Have to rush it down, as I am behind, unfortunately. Finish: milk chocolate and more herbs, tarragon dominating the lot. Best Glentauchers I have had, which, of course, does not say much. 8/10

Glenburgie-Glenlivet 29yo 1985/2014 (55.3%, Cadenhead Single Cask, Bourbon Hogshead, 222b): nose: hints of dust, cocoa powder and lots of varnish alongside dried orange peels. Mouth: very concentrated fruit juice (orange and pineapple), white pepper. My co-tasters spell it out for me: it is mandarin, not orange. Finish: more mandarin and the bitterness associated with its white pith. It is not too ripe a mandarin, you see. Beautiful. This is everyone's favourite, so far. 8/10

Clynelish 24yo 1990/2014 (44.7%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Barrel, 156b): nose: wax. Remember we do not know what we are served; that says something about the nose, surely. We all guess Clynelish in unison, so pronounced are the distillery markers. Honey, waxy fruit, such as plum. It is a bit shy, after the previous ones. Mouth: watery and indistinct, though it does come alive, after a moment, with notes of lemon juice. Still tame, though. Finish: waxy fruit again, freshly-cut grass. I find it average, though I have to admit it probably suffers from the sequence. 6/10

Springbank 21yo b.2015 (46%, OB, 15/52): this is the only one we were told everything about prior and several recognise it easily. Nose: chemical and herbaceous -- lots of rosemary and grilled bacon, cured meat and herbs. Others find it coastal, but I do not. Mouth: very metallic, now, though the word 'very' is likely undeserved, seeing how tame the thing is. It seems mostly silent, probably overpowered by the previous drams. I have no time to let it open up, unfortunately. Finish: cured meat, with lots of beach action, at last. A barbecue on the seashore, clams, mussels and pinches of herbs. A decent dram with a weak mouth. Others love it, I think it is overrated and certainly not a patch on the 21yo from 1999, which remains the benchmark all the others are judged against. 6/10

Host: -People ask me how I can tell the difference between the different batches of Springbank 21.
The golden label is shinier on this version and the colour of the whisky is a bit darker.
tOMoH -Also, the bottling date is written on the back of the bottle!

Undisclosed Distillery 49yo 1966/2015 (52.9%, Private bottling, Bourbon Cask, re-racked into Sherry Cask, re-racked into Rum Cask, 1b): you read that correctly. This is a cask that is privately owned and is not legally Scotch any longer (it spent most of its maturation time away from Scotland. Our host, who is not the owner, wants to know what we think of it, which means it is pretty much the sole pretext behind this whole party. Needless saying we are delighted to be given this opportunity, considering this has otherwise never been bottled and never will be. We are never told which distillery it is from (a promise made to the owner of the cask), but we are told the sort of prices it would command, should it be made available for retail. Nose: silt, algae, stagnating water and old books in a damp basement. Wet, lichen-covered rocks, moss, dunnage warehouse. Merbromin too, which is a bit strange. There is peat in it, but it is never overpowering, rather a thin veil of smoke in a room next door. Once all that scum dissipates, cherries show up with a wheelbarrowful of soil. Complex and intriguing, this nose. Mouth: perfect balance, little wood to speak of, which is always staggering, at this age (is it because of the cask swaps?) Instead come lots of wild, black cherries and a sprinkle of spices -- turmeric and cinnamon, mostly. Marzipan also rears its head. Finish: cinnamon sticks? No! Cassia bark! Boy, that takes me back to my curry-cooking days. Prunes, plum liqueur, old cherries (whatever that means) and dusty books. Phew! Is it a romantic reaction to the pedigree? I doubt it: it is a killer dram, even though it is not for everyone. Is it worth the RRP of twelve-to-twenty-five thousand pounds? Perhaps not, but I would easily fork out quite a bit for this. I love it. Pity it will never be bottled. We first think it might be an old Ardbeg, but we are told it is not an Islay. Other guesses are Glen Scotia and Oban. It is unlikely a Glen Scotia would reach those prices any time soon, in my opinion. What it really is, we will never know. 9/10 (Thanks to the anonymous donor)

Caol Ila 31yo 1984/2015 (ABV TBC, Cadenhead Cask Ends, Fresh Bourbon Wood, London Exclusive, 1b): the full retail version of this will come out in the next few weeks to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Cadenhead's London shop. Our host has been pimping it up for months, so it is not really a surprise. In the meantime, we get this pre-release only for ourselves. Nose: farmyard, with a note of barbecued mussel (again!?) It is pretty mouldy to me, while one of my co-tasters finds it heathery. Nail varnish is the final note I get. Fire-engine-red nail varnish, to be accurate. Mouth: powerful, yet balanced, with red fruit thrown into the mix. Cranberries, I reckon. Finish: cranberries, lingonberries and lots of peat. This is on the verge of too much for me today (not in a peat mood), yet it remains on the right side of things (just about). Enjoyable. A good Caol Ila, probably a bestseller in the making, but it is not my favourite profile. 7/10

Eight whiskies in just under two hours is not for the squeamish. Others try the Spirit of Freedom 45+ and a recently-bottled Tomatin too. I have had both and do not bother.
The pace started out perfectly, then increased to reach a gallop by dram #3. Understandable, seeing the ambitious lineup, yet a pity from this taster's perspective. It reminds me of the GMP masterclass last year, where the most time was spent on the most insignificant dram, then the regal ones had to be rushed down.
Other than that, a fine tasting in fine company.

5 May 2015

02/05/2015 May outturn at the SMWS

They come and go so quick it it is hard to keep up. Nothing fancy today, not even a cheese plate, just a few drams. In-and-out in 18 seconds. Sort of. PS is here, despite a toothache that saw him announce to the world he would not attend. "Oh, but I'm not taking notes," he argues.

70.10 9yo d.2005 Teenage Shenanigans (58.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 242b): not only is it merely the tenth expression from distillery #70 since 1983, it is also the first we see and try. Nose: crisp apples, pear peels, caramel custard and even rose water. With water, peach becomes more prominent, accompanied by bakery scents and Virginia tobacco. Mouth: unctuous at first, yet becomes pretty acidic, almost stripping. Hot and peppery. With water, it is more tamed, giving away doughnut and ginger beer flavours. Nicer, but it still tickles. Finish: Turkish-delight sweetness, followed by an onslaught of ground pepper (pink, black and green, all mixed together). With water, a spoonful of toffee dunked into a glass of ginger beer. Finally, pine sap rears its head. Disappointing. It seems rather simple and not very balanced. Then again, it is a nine-year-old dram. My expectations were likely too high. 7/10

128.5 9yo 2006/2015 As purple as Prince! (60.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 213b): it is curious that I finally procured a bottle of 128.3 a week ago and this one comes out today. For the record, 128.3 came out three years ago. We have never seen 128.4. Nose: FRUIT! Melon, mango, a faint impression of leather topped with a spoonful of strawberry coulis. Mouth: light, floral and fruity, with further notes of melon and strawberry. Perhaps marzipan too? No! Make that frangipane. Finish: ha! Clogged sink, briefly (as in 128.3), then lots of fruit again. Melon, mango, a drop of caramel on the whole, and some custard too. The references to Prince songs in the official notes are funny to boot. 8/10

73.70 15yo d.1999 Frivolously fresh, with playful spices (56%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 215b): nose: basil and parmesan bread sticks, menthol cigarettes, pine-wood fire, Gocce Pino, chamomile infusion and yoghurt in the back. Mouth: menthol, cough pine drops again, warm tobacco (not burning) and green chilli. Finish: strange and unusual! A heap of pine needles on a soil bed in the forest. It then grows bigger, with sweet blood oranges and melted chocolate. Pretty good, though a bit unremarkable, altogether. 7/10

46.31 22yo d.1992 Sniffing a bee's knees (54.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 253b): nose: decaying fruit, wax, wasps on a bin full of fruit refuse in the sun. Nice notes, alongside really peculiar ones. Mouth: non-distinct. A hardly-noticeable note of plant juice, but mostly, it is silent. Finish: mature honey, wax and flower stems. A decent Glenlossie, still not fully convincing. 6/10

93.63 15yo d.1999 Unapologetic non-conformist (56.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 275b): nose: cured meat in a cashew and rosemary marinade. Mouth: chocolate and beef stock. Finish: yep, oxtail broth and chocolate-y satay. Funny how the independent Scotias never have the same profile as the officials (see last week's). 7/10

For a quality time
Make it Suntory time
G7.8 30yo d.1984 Sweet seduction in a car-wash (59.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 264b): might as well try the grain, while we are here. Nose: a light coat of varnish, blueberry muffin. Rather subtle, this. Mouth: a pleasant note of blueberry syrup emerges en force. Not too much wood or bakery action going on, but that blueberry is pretty insistent. Finish: more blueberry, in a warm coulis, this time. Sort of a one-trick pony, this one, but a nice pony all the same. 7/10

Good and reasonable afternoon. We spent a lot of time chatting to a member who is going back to Cleveland for good in a couple of weeks. He does a rather good job at marketing his city of origin. :-)