28 July 2015

27/07/2015 A dram at the SMWS

Meeting up with MJ at the SMWS for one dram. JS joins us after a bit.

The recent 55 and 85 are both gone. Have to make do with what is left. Fortunately, there is no shortage of whisky, in here.

48.59 11yo d.2003 Cidre de Glace (62.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 210b): nose: it seems fairly spirity in a plum-eau-de-vie way. Herbs come forth slowly, but surely (scented thyme, tarragon), as well as melting milk chocolate. MJ gets cherry coulis -- cherry lipstick, actually. With water, lots and lots of pine wood, wood lacquer, varnish, then citrus. Mouth: initially velvety, then the heat grows (green chilli). Behind the fury, chocolate coulis and warm milk try to be heard, resting on a bed of pine needles. Water makes it more velvety. Finish: pine needles again, with the distinct vegetal acidity and a bit of chilli heat. It is a surprisingly short finish, save for the lingering warmth. With water, the chilli quietens down with a ladle of custard and milk chocolate. 7/10

64.57 11yo d.2003 Tutti-frutti, limoncello (61.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 232b): nose: forest floor, decaying wood shavings, vanilla-scented hot cocoa. Mouth: smooth and velvety, coating and soft. Finish: hot custard, chocolate roll, caramel and a touch of acidity from pine needles. 7/10

26.113 10yo d.2004 A joy to savour (58.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 185b): nose: lemon marmalade, pine wood and the flames of a a camp fire into which thyme leaves have been thrown. Wax ends up emerging too, of course, but it is not the waxiest 26 ever, I find. Mouth: wax is now more easily detected, with added touches of vanilla and lacquer. Finish: warming, with pine-scented chocolate. This one started alright, but I find it disappointing, all in all. 6/10

We end up staying much, much longer than foreseen... once again.

We had ice cream too!

27 July 2015

25/07/2015 Cinema

A rehash of an old theme. Why the hell not? It never fails to entertain.
idealrichard calls off the day before, as he is on baby-sitting duty.

The suspects: EG, OB, MS, JS, FH, JH, PS.

What is he doing?
Counterfeit, Italian style


Macallan 10yo (40%, OB, SDF010, b. 2000s) (brought by EG): with the help of a marker, EG quickly disguises this one into a 1962 Macallan, as seen in Skyfall... and adds: "I could not bring the 1937 Macallan I have at home, because it would not have fit the theme." Sets the tone, I suppose... Nose: candied apple, chocolate, cinnamon, apple peel. EG detects soft gunpowder, pepper and spicy stew. It does indeed remind me of OXO broth. Mouth: crisp and full of apple peels, perhaps apricot skins (it has a velvety texture). The whole is augmented with pinches of cinnamon and turmeric. Finish: mild milk chocolate, sprinkled with cinnamon powder again. Slightly bitter, though mostly pleasant and inoffensive. 7/10

Deanston 17yo (40%, OB, Amontillado Sherry, 4354 POO3816 L16) (offered by yours, truly): this is for actor James Deanston, of course. Lots of facepalm action, with my co-tasters convinced it is too cheap a pun. My answer is twofold: 1) no pun is too cheap and 2) if it was so easy, why did no-one else think of it? Hm? Hm? I thought so! Nose: seems rather straightforward -- fruity, with Fraise Tagada and walnut. Mouth: fresh and fruity, with the same lovely mix of walnut and strawberry (Fraise tagada, innit). It has manuka honey too, with the texture of maple syrup. Finish: the nut now speaks louder, though juicy red fruit still comes through. Lovely dram, this! To think this distillery is so overlooked... 8/10

JH joins us. He is hungover, yet manages to catch up in no time.

Auchentoshan 23yo 1992/2015 (46.6%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Barrels, 456b) (offered by OB): that is not the official bottler, of course (OB). The film connection, OB is delighted to say, is Auchentoshaun of the Dead. Good to see at least one is taking this seriously! Nose: lemony, zesty, with an unexpected note of burnt cedar wood. The nose is light and clean, citrus-y (EG), even. It has pineapple, grapefruit and quince (JH). Mouth: Acidic and lemony, with a splash of white vinegar (perhaps wine vinegar -- none of that posh balsamic stuff, in any case). Citric and lively, maybe too much so. The mouth is the weakest point, obviously, yet it calms down a bit after a few sips. Finish: a fleeting kick of tropical fruit fades away with lime and sweetness. Lime water, the way the serve it in the backwaters of Alleppey. I like this a lot. At first, I withdrew a point because of the mouth, but coming back to it later, I reckon it deserves 8/10

PS makes a late entrance.

Macallan 10yo (40%, OB, MDF019, b. ca 1999) (brought by PS): "Any 1950s or 1960s film with whisky in it will have Macallan." If that is not a lazy-arse connection, I am not the Old Man of Huy. PS goes to great length to explain he bought this in 1999ish, tried it, filed it and never went back to it. He is not trying to poison us or anything; he merely thinks we will find it at least interesting and will rid him of his distasteful bottle. EG likes it a lot, actually.
PS -If you like it so much, you can have it.
EG -I don't want to steal it from you.
PS -It's a gift. Knock yourself out.
EG -Is it the original cork?
PS -The original cork fell apart.
EG -Then I don't want it.
JH thinks it smells of grandfather whisky. Nose: sherry wood aplenty! Nutty and splintery, with tame sulphur. Time makes the sulphur more prominent, with notes of wet, burnt wood. Mouth: Chinotto, flat cola, black tea (JH, probably thinking of a track by Drektiya -- congrats if you get that one!) Finish: more sherry wood, with lots of oak and cough syrup. It is pretty good, if not blinding, provided one likes sherried whisky and wood. Interesting to try something from yesteryears. 6/10

Ledaig 1990/2008 (43%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, Refill Sherry Casks, JH/AGF) (another PS find): 20,000 Ledaigs under the Sea is the film, believe it or not. Much better effort! Nose: cow sweat and all sorts of farmyard shenanigans. Tractor diesel, a dusty trail in the summer heat. It also has hints of yellow fruit (peach), and even butter in the back. Mouth: citrus-y and light. Pleasant, easy on the tongue. Finish: again, this is as crisp as citrus, fruity, with hay and peach stones. It leaves the tongue a bit dusty. A pleasant Ledaig. PS claims it is incompatible with the usual Ledaig profile and, therefore, probably a mislabelled Tobermory. The 1990/1999 bottling we had for Burns' Night this year is similar; to me, it is a Ledaig indeed, simply not cask strength. 7/10

Nibbles make it to the table -- rice cakes, sausages, cheeses, Krisprolls.


Tomatin 24yo 1987/2014 (46.3%, Càrn Mòr Celebration of the Cask, Hogshead, C#495, 187b) (OB): Attack of the Killer Tomatins. Nose: boiled ham and oil (PS), Smithfield market in the morning -- 7:00, 7:30, maybe 8:00 (JH). EG finds raw meat and banana. We agree it is plantain, actually. It turns fruitier, after a while -- apples about to go bad. Coffee comes out too. Water makes it fruitier, without altering it too much. Mouth: Haribo sweets and sugar-cane water (boy, do I crave that!) With water: similar, with a better balance and more coffee. Finish: long and powerful, with the same notes coming back. Water, again, gives it a better balance, without changing it drastically. Excellent Tomatin. It is astonishing that this too was a distillery most were happy to gloss over without an afterthought. Every expression I have had in the last few years has been at least good, at best almost legendary. This is no exception. 8/10

All gibberish
Hibiki (Hakushu) (40%, OB, 300ml) (EG): Hakushu belongs to Suntory group. For relaxing time, make it Suntory time -- Lost in Translation. A weird bottle, as it bears little information. Well, a lot is in Japanese, so everything might well be written, to be accurate. Nose: vanilla, grape, peach, and a bit of velvety raspberry. Mouth: thin, yet it manages to stay soft and velvety, with notes of grape and peach. Finish: mellow and seductive, almost sensual. Custard and raspberry. Very nice. A gem that only EG the Truffle Pig could have unearthed. 8/10

Yamazaki Distiller's Reserve (43%, OB, b. ca 2015) (brought by JH): another Lost in Translation connection -- Yamazaki is the other Suntory locomotive. Nose: this one has coffee and cherry. A rich and enticing nose. Mouth: balanced, with some spices, cherry juice and a twist of the peppermill. The texture is that of peach juice. Finish: custard and cherry, with some cinnamon and ground cardamom. It pains me to say this about a NAS Japanese bottling, but it really is bleeding lovely.  8/10

We move out to the terrace, since the weather is so nice.

Glenlivet Alpha (50%, OB, 2LXF9001, 2013/03/19, LGF 04 18) (EG): EG is proud of this limited bottle, as he is of the cinema link: Alphageddon. JS is quick to point out that Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa would have been even better. EG has not heard of it. Nose: bubblegum, apple, pear (JH), Snapple (PS). I get lemon curd and pickled lemons. Mouth: chilli-flavoured custard. Finish: custard, vanilla, paprika and white pepper. A modern malt, this. Agreeable all the same. 7/10

Chilling, quaffing
Chilling, passing out

Serendipity 12yo (40%, OB, b. 2005) (PS): Serendipity. No need to go very far away for a reference. This is a blended malt, supposedly an accident, combining Ardbeg (80%) and Glen Moray (20%). After the oh-shit! moment had passed, Glenmorangie (owner of both distilleries) decided to bottle it and market it. Back in 2005, the bottles did not really fly off the shelf. MS, quick on the glass: "It's good, but there's a weird putting-your-tongue-on-a-9V-battery bit to it." Don't try this at home, kids! Nose: the Ardbeg smoke comes through, as well as barley. Mouth: honey and rice crackers -- unless that is someone's breath; a scent of rice cracker seems to be hanging about the place. Finish: a weird mix of smoke and fresh fruit that dies out in a whiff of soot. JS reckons it is like an Ardbeg shandy. Certainly unusual and in fact, nice. 7/10

The party goes back inside at MS's request. JH wants to leave, though he reassesses when he is told the next one is from his favourite distillery.

Dailuaine 18yo 1997/2015 (54.4%, Cadenhead, Château Lafitte Cask, 240b) (served by MS): a tough movie connection. MS brought music and a specific track has to be played while we drink this. The film is Garden State. A band called Iron & Wine made the score. This W is matured in a wine cask. :-) Nose: lots and lots of wine! Glühwein (with too much rum, according to JH), rotten fruit. Mouth: hot, mulled wine again, with cinnamon, bay leaves, quartered oranges, cloves. Finish: this will read repetitive, but hot Glühwein again. The clove and cinnamon grow bigger and bolder. The wine influence is really not subtle at all. Nonetheless, this is interesting and challenging. Perhaps more suitable for colder weather, I suppose. 7/10

I won't even try to explain, this.

JH leaves for good, at this point. PS goes into random-story mode.

PS -An ex-girlfriend of mine pinged me out of the blue. She works in lingerie.

MS asks for the blinds to be pulled: the sun is blinding him. EG interjects: "Change places with me, then. Don't put me in a cage like a chicken."

Tormore 29yo 1984/2013 (53.9%, www.whiskybroker.co.uk, Barrel, C#3674, 107b) (JS): Edge of Tormorrow, which, by the way, is probably the best sci-fi film of the last 20 years, in my opinion. Nose: butterscotch, custard, chocolate rolls. Mouth: the smell of rice cake in the room sort of spoils this, now. I believe the mouth gives coffee and custard, with pepper and chilli in good doses. It also tantalises one with wonderful red fruit. Finish: big and powerful, with milk coffee, pepper, red fruit and milk chocolate. Water brings forth more cherry and milk chocolate at every stage. This is fantastic and I cannot wait to try it again. 1984 is the magic year for Tormore, it seems, another distillery no-one would have touched as recently as five years ago. I am convinced this would qualify for a 9 without the rice-cracker smell. For now, it is 8/10

Aberlour A'Bunadh (59.6%, OB, Spanish Oloroso Sherry Butts, B#50) (MS): the link is the same as the Dailuaine's. A'Bunadh is a wine maturation too, after all. Many have not had any batch for years, so this is a good exercise. Nose: meaty, though not too much. Winey, but not too much. Rice cake. ARGH! With water, more coffee and cocoa powder emerge. Mouth: phew, that's powerful! Meaty, sherried and very, very powerful. That is something that has not changed with the years and batches. I remembered it being rather uncompromising. Water, again, gives it more coffee and cocoa powder. Finish: chocolate and cured meat. Water pushes darker chocolate to the foreground. I like this, though it is not an easy one, I think. 7/10

EG leaves us. He quickly had the next and final one prior.

Millburn 25yo 1975/2000 (61.9%, OB Rare Malts Selection) (me): another one from this year's Burns' Night. It has had some time to open up, now, and the link to Slumdog Millburnaire is too good to not be seized (credit to JS for finding that one). Nose: flinty, granite-y, with lichen and marjoram. This is as old school as can be, austere and pretty intimidating. Mouth: fresh and mineral, red-hot (remember the 61.9% thing?), herbaceous, grassy, even. Tarragon, lemongrass, thyme (JS). Some lemon juice too. Finish: woah! Citrus, marmalade, flint, verbena all dance together in a furious jig. It is complex and my current state does not do it justice. I catch myself thinking it would probably be an 8/10 malt, but it is so challenging it deserves 9/10 Dram of the day for me.

OB has to go. His other half has had supper waiting for him for about three hours already. :-)

PS has a second Dailuaine and a top-up of Serendipity.
MS has a second Millburn and another Serendipity.
I have a refill of Auchentoshan (which is still great after all this).

The three of us then have an off-tasting nightcap: G5.5, InverFlash Gordon. Because it is off-tasting does not mean it has to be off-theme. MS says it is liquid Graham Crackers. No notes -- suffice to say, at 64.5%, it obliterates everything else. A magnificent dram.

MS leaves around 21:30, while PS storms off around 23:00 to catch the last train.

Epic tasting, both in terms of duration and size of the lineup. It must be the first time in many months that we do not have one grain expression in the series. There was not much peat either, yet the selection was pretty varied and interesting. Good turnover too, with some new faces joining the now-regulars. Finally, it is always a bonus to be able to enjoy the terrace.
Roll on the next one!

20 July 2015

19/07/2015 Rare and disappointing

Sunny day at the Old Man's. It calls for a celebration dram. One is waiting for precisely such an opportunity. It is a recent addition to the family, but the fill level is scarily low. Probably best to not delay consumption too much.

Dunglass 5yo (43%, OB, b. 1970s): it hardly gets rarer than this, you will agree. For the record, Dunglass is the lightly peated version of Littlemill that was produced between 1967 and 1972. The proprietors have released this one at 43% and another version at 40% which might not even be a single malt. There are four expressions bottled by the indies, and that is it. Dunglass has a horrible reputation amongst the few people who were (un)lucky enough to try it. A certain Jim Murray even famously gave 17/100 to one of those expressions, commenting that Dunbartonshire probably ran out of soap for weeks after producing that particular cask. The fill level of this mini is pathetically low and the liquid is as cloudy as a drunkard's morning piss. Let us hope we will not suffer from poisoning! Nose: soap, shower gel, bubblebath. Not just any soap, mind! Pink grapefruit and mango-scented. Cut, juicy apples also fill the nostrils. Knowing that the whisky is lightly peated, I can sort of imagine a thin veil of smoke in the far distance, but it is probably my mind playing tricks. Mouth: watery. This has little alcohol left in it. I would bet it is below 10%. Slightly soapy, I suppose, with notes of shampoo, yet it would be unfair to to go further than that. This is no longer whisky. Finish: the same -- not whisky. The dominant notes are shampoo and wet campfire, after a night of rain fall. How unfortunate! This was very promising, before it collapsed. I cannot decently score this. I will have to procure another bottle.

13 July 2015

12/07/2015 Clearing the shelves #5

Millburn 1971 (40%, GMP COnnoisseurs Choice, b. early 1990s): had this one a while ago. It needs to make room. Nose: a lacquered wooden cabinet, made from high-quality wood -- none of that Ikea chipboard shite. Ripe, juicy fruit are to be found in the back: plums, nectarines, maraschino cherries. A touch of smoke, perhaps? I would say a new mahogany bookshelf in the library of a gentlemen's club, a Calvados-seasoned pipe, a walnut dashboard in a palace on wheels. Mouth: some spices from the wood (roasted black peppercorns, mace, bay leaves), yet the velvety texture keeps it easy and delicate, if rich and complex. Walnut oil, a drop of apricot juice. Finish: back into the library for a mixture of mahogany and cooling ashes from a menthol cigarette, smoked by a tuxedo-clad gentleman who shaved not two hours ago -- yes, that is a note of after-shave balm. This gentleman smokes with a cigarette-holder made of pearl and amber, of course: stubs taint your fingers, dahling. Old school as fook, this would benefit from more horsepower. Still, this is my bag, baby! 8/10

11/07/2015 Flemish Community Day

Today is Flanders Day. The Flemish flag is a lion, king of the animal realm. Royal whiskies it is, then, because -- let us face it! -- it is tougher to find whiskies that are kaas croquette- or tomaat garnaal-flavoured.

One also looks significantly more badass than the other.

Glenury 14yo 1978/1993 (43%, Signatory Vintage, C#9769, 2400b, 05079302): one of the few Glenuries that does not advertise its regal status (usually Glenury Royal, for those who do not know). Nose: lots of crisp apples, although baked apples are there too. A shy note of faded leather and eau-de-vie. I find this eau-de-vie note frequent with old whiskies at 40ish%. Onions, gherkins and garlic emerge later on, yet soon give way to cut, ripe fruit. The nose is not exactly bold, but it is more complex than it initially appears. Mouth: this tickles at first, with subtle notes of vanilla, buried under lemony water. Once the tickling ends, the mouth has warm custard and dusty wooden spoons. Dark grapes too, including the bitterness of the pips. Finish: warm custard again, with a few squashed, dark grapes to keep it interesting. Dusty-wood flavours end up rising -- I find them comforting, though they will not please everyone. The second sip reveals dark chocolate, which is well in theme. Go Belgium! I am probably generous with this one, due to the fact it is a Glenury. Still 8/10

Royal Lochnagar 17yo 1996/2013 (57.4%, Cadenhead, Rum Cask): nose: much bolder, of course, since it is 17.4% higher in strength. Old wooden barrels, covered in dust, soaked wooden staves, furniture wax, paint pots and rubber boots. Mouth: fortified wine, syrup. The alcohol is present, yet remarkably integrated, going up and down and up again in successive waves of power. Notes of rum appear here and there, indistinct. Apples, soaked in brown alcohol, alongside white pepper heat. Finish: more syrupy notes come forward, a warm punch bowl, pipe tobacco, candied apples and caramel. The finish coats the mouth indeed, exactly like rum would. It is also very warming in a hot-toddy sort of way. An interesting take on a distillery that does not get reviewed very often, on this blog or elsewhere. 7/10

Glenglassaugh 40yo 1972/2013 (43.1%, Carn Mòr Celebration of the Cask, Sherry Butt, C#R13/08/01): yeah, it is not Royal. Get over it. Nose: a saw mill. It smells as it would upon entering a room whose floor is covered in fine sawdust. Behind all that sawdust, the nose offers juicy fruit (apricot and plum), but also citrus (waxy lemon zest, green grapefruit). In fact, the citrus soon dominates, denoting a crisp acidity at this stage, already. Yellow fruit come back, alongside effervescent tablets (Alka Seltzer?) This hints at a certain mineral aspect -- maybe stone powder from a quarry. An hour later, it has become an apricot-driven fruity cocktail. Mouth: all the citrus is here too (lemon, green grapefruit, kumquat, tangerine), with the acidity from the nose. It remains pleasant, though. The texture is that of fruit nectar -- as if a mango had been thrown into the green-grapefruit juice. Very nice. Finish: wood, tame, green-chilli warmth and a spoonful of custard. The journey between those flavours is consistently repeated at each sip. Very good whisky, though it is debatable whether it is £400 good (introduction price for this bottle). As far as I am concerned, this now empty sample will suffice. 8/10

Happy day to all our Flemish readers.