Today is supposed to be a full-fledged tasting, but everyone seems to have last-minute excuses not to attend. Good ones too, for the most. Only OB and JS make it. This is the perfect opportunity to change the theme and drink minis and samples. Good news: there is no shortage of those!
Mar Lodge 12yo (43%, Findlater) (brought by me): I had this one a while ago and liked it. Nose: banana and plantain aplenty, crusty bread dough, cut apples and a peppery twist (OB). Mouth: the texture is that of apple nectar, while the taste is of pear crumble with spices. Finish: fresh, rather inoffensive, with notes of pears and apples. OB hs already had it, which frustrates me a bit. Nevertheless, it is a perfect aperitive. 7/10
Convalmore 14yo 1983/1997 (43%, SV, C#1639, 2460b) (me): OB's first Convalmore is not from the biggest cask in the world -- those are 2460 miniature bottles, of course. Nose: dust, wood glue. It is very closed, at first, though it opens up quickly to unleash more glue, pomelo and lime. This is my style! After an hour or two, cardboard is the dominant trait, with also old ink and yellowed letter paper. Mouth: flowery, almost soapy (OB). I find it dusty, with notes of dried apricots and Violette de Toulouse (hard sweets). It ends up becoming pretty drying. Two hours later, the mouth seems much fresher, with menthol and limoncello. Finish: unexpectedly big and powerful, then violet sweets settle in, with the dryness of hair lacquer. Hours later, the finish becomes an explosion of tooth paste, mentholated and fresh, with a drop of lime juice. Zymafluor capsules, breath mints, Colgate Blue Minty Gel, chlorophyll gum. Love it. OB does not, but what does he know? 8/10
Banff 1974 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, b. early 1990s) (me): nose: animal -- leather, wet dogs. Black or mixed pepper, overripe avocado (turned brown), slightly-wet earth (after a drop of rain) -- in fact, it becomes very, very earthy! Black truffle (OB, showing his financial status), hay, straw and abattoir (OB). Mouth: apricot nectar, with quite a bit of pepper, perhaps hot paprika. Finish: dried garlic peels macerating in a few drops of apricot juice. The power and length are impressive for such a low-strength dram. Fantastic Banff! (Is there another kind?) 9/10
Aberlour-Glenlivet 8yo (50%, OB for Italy, d. 1970s) (brought by OB): nose: caramel and a few nuts (Brasil nuts, Macadamia, walnuts). Very old leather comes through (saddles) with a bit of fruit (blood oranges? Mandarins?) Virginia tobacco (OB), Amsterdammer tobacco (OB). Mouth: thick and coating. This fruit juice has pulp, baby! Walnuts, hazelnuts, pepper and caramelised fruit -- imagine baking an apricot crumble; the apricot juice spills over and forms a puddle at the bottom of the oven; that evaporates and caramelises into this. Mentholated sweets too, perhaps? Finish: long and powerful, warm and soothing. Pepper is definitely present, though it does not smother the other flavours -- caramel, caramelised nuts, warm orange wedges. An excellent old Aberlour, in spite of the initially disappointing nose. 8/10
Tullibardine 40yo 1968/2008 (40.3%, OB, Hogshead, C#130, 252b) (OB): nose: strawberry bubblegum. It smells more powerful than it is (the magic of naturally reaching those low ABV) and is unbelievably ample, entrancing, with more and more tropical fruit. Mouth: mellow, velvety, with vanilla pudding, peach flesh, mango, durian -- this is full of win! Finish: woah! Banana, mango, durian again, kiwi. This is creamy and ecstatic! 10/10 (Thanks CT for the sample)
Strathisla 25yo 1989/2015 (42.7%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 150b) (OB): nose: wood shavings, plantain, coconut, vanilla. Mouth: velvety, hot custard, the bitterness of wood shavings and peach stone. Finish: this is pretty woody, drying, with toasted coconut, squashed banana, banana split, even. Nice Strathisla, though it probably suffers a bit from its place in the sequence. 7/10
Tullibardine 12yo 1965/1977 (80 PROOF, Cadenhead) (OB, proving he is not taking the piss): nose: coal, soot, grilled-meat residue on the barbecue griddle (OB), horse sweat, flint. This is as austere and rough as last week's Millburn. Cereals? Muesli, maybe. Mouth: mellow at first, it quickly develops a certain bitterness. It feels like licking a stone, to an extent. Then it calms down to become creamier, with notes of peach and melon, and a veil of coal smoke. Finish: coal dust, barbecued, cured meat, herbes de Provence, yet also lichen on stone and moss. Phwoar! Excellent old dumpy Cad, innit. 9/10 (Thanks Savoureur for the sample)
Ardbeg 21yo 1993/2015 (53.2%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 210b) (me): nose: barley, drying hay and soot, soot, soot. Dry earth, dried band aid and the beach (kelp, fishing nets, sea stones). OB finds it sugary too. Mouth: starts subtle and almost bland, then grows bigger, with notes of sand, dry earth, dry algae, kelp, drying fishing nets, whelks, dried chilli flakes and salt. Finish: a steamroller, now, with lots of peat smoke and coastal notes -- smoke-drying mussels (have you seen that documentary about mussel fishermen in Chile?) The message is clear (smoke and sea), yet the delivery is complex, with lots going on. It reminds me of the sea: look at it for half a second and it is a big stretch of water. Look further and you will discover more every minute. Seeing the hype around the distillery and the pricing policy, I am annoyed to admit that Ardbeg expressions are mostly great drams, still. I must give it 8/10 (Thanks to the kind donor for the sample).
We finish ourselves off with G5.5 again, since OB did not have one last week. Needless saying it goes down a treat. :-)
Lovely times, less ambitious than planned, but we still managed to sneak nine in. Yippee!