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
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, 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!