14 September 2015

12/09/2015 Defying description

Some names come with a clue. It has always amused me that Glendullan, for example, is mostly dull. I am happy to be proven wrong, by the way -- simply never found one I really liked. Other names give the same sort of hints. This tasting is to find out whether those clues are true or false.

The suspects: JS, EG, OB and myself. PS and JH called off late in the game, unfortunately.

Is the first one enviable?

Balvenie 15yo 1989/2004 (47.8%, OB Single Barrel, C#8419) (me): I had this one two weeks ago, so will not spend too much time on it. The bottle is almost empty and we need a starter. Why not have this one last time? Plus the anagram (provided by JS) is masterful (b-a-l-v-e-n-i-e / e-n-v-i-a-b-l-e, see?) Back to the whisky: it has woody tones, peach, apricots and mint, today. Some tobacco in the finish. It is dry with character, rather enviable indeed. 7/10

Is this classy?

Glenglassaugh 30yo (44.8%, OB, B#1, LG101350, b. 2013, 1002b) (EG): EG shifts gears with this one. We discover that the one we had at the Fringe last month is in fact a different batch. This one is a lot darker and the prints at the base of the bottle are different -- the one we tried at the Whisky Show in 2013. That explains the difference in perceptions! What about today, in a calmer setting? Nose: sherry influence, at first, with oil and diluted molasses. Shortly thereafter, fruits come out: figs and barbecued apricots in yoghurt. A cup of coffee in another room and liquorice (EG). Mouth: mellow and gentle, it rolls on the tongue like ice cream -- mocha ice cream, that is. Finish: long, slightly drying, it has treacle (EG), toffee, mocha praline. Beautiful stuff, classy indeed. I find it better than in 2013; at the same time, I prefer this year's release: it is less sherried. 8/10

We make our way to the terrace. After all, this might be the last time we enjoy it this year.

Is this bland?

Bladnoch 20yo 1990/2011 (60.6%, Càrn Mòr Celebration of the Cask, Bourbon Barrel, C#30005, 194b) (JS): Bland-noch, geddit? Nose: violet and fruit (green melon skin, to be precise), custard and vanilla ice cream. OB finds quince jam in it too. With water, it turns more gentle (have you seen the ABV?), and bursts with fruit in vanilla cream. Mouth: zesty, fresh and lively, with fruity yoghurt and tutti frutti -- the dried fruit, full of colorant and preservatives they used to sprinkle on top of or stuff into ice cream in the early 1980s (do they still do that?) With water, it becomes even fresher, more springy, yet slightly tamed. Finish: greengage, unripe green melon and other green fruit. Water makes it fresh and minty. Definitely not bland. Beautiful Bladnoch that will probably improve again once it has breathed more! Dram of the day for OB and JS. 8/10

Is the next one garish, or gregarious?

Glengarioch 21yo (43%, OB, L591, b. ca 1990) (me): after all that reading about old Glengarioch, finally an opportunity to try one.  There are several versions of this 21yo. Some score less than well with aficionados, while others (mostly vintage one) are beloved. This one was probably not distilled in the glorious 1960s, yet it is likely from the early 1970s all the same. Nose: OB finds bread dough, whilst EG finds it metallic. To me, it appears fresh and draped in a very refined peat smoke. It even has a coastal quality to it (warm sand). Cut pears emerge as well -- blimey! this is amazing. Mouth: JS dislikes the big soapiness that wraps the whole thing. I am entranced by the lavender and fruit in the soap (melon, maybe?) Finish: soap again, for a few seconds, then earth and fleeting fruit. Once those have gone, soot settles in for good. Garish? No. It is more subtle, in fact. Gregarious? It certainly triggers conversation amongst friends. I love it and am willing to bet it will improve in the bottle and will make it to 9. For now, it is 8/10

Is this one sprinkle-y?

Springbank 16yo 1997/2013 (56%, OB for the UK, 10y Bourbon Cask/6y Madeira Cask, C#07/178-3, 630b) (EG): EG is obviously making it up as we go. That will do. Nose: starts with soot, hot cigars and damp staves, as well as chargrilled ribs. This is old-school and rather assertive. Maitrank notes fight their way up the nostril, eventually. Unusual, eh? Mouth: powerful and austere, with flint, dark fruit (dark cherries, blackberries) and salty sea spray. Finish: slightly metallic, with more dark fruit, a veil of dark smoke and a pinch of salt. Not sprinkle-y, no -- it will not even break the bank to procure one (perhaps in the future). JS likes it a lot, which is unexpected, considering the flavour profile. 8/10

Olives, straight from the olive tree

Does this taste like the small plague?

Providing the bling
Loch Lomond (Inchmurrin) 29yo 1974/2003 (54.4%, Cadenhead Chairman's Stock, Bourbon Barrel, 210b) (OB): now, this one requires some preliminary explanations. An inch is a small measurement unit. Easy. According to The English dialect dictionary, a murrain, or murrin, is "a nuisance, a 'plague'; freq. used in imprecations and execrations." Inchmurrin, then, would be a small nuisance. Talk about shoehorning a bottle into a theme! At the same time, the bottle was bought recently and OB sort of pried it from JS's hands; which in turns means that JS pushed the price up for OB -- consequence of failed synchronisation. OB wanted to bring the bottle because of that. A classy touch, really. Nose: EG finds pickles, marinated cabbage and kimchi. To me, it has scents of a wood stove, with a simmering cauldron of apple compote. Hot, juicy pastry is next, with custard and even tropical fruits. EG further detects tobacco leaves. Mouth: unctuous and velvety, creamy. Butterscotch, custard, hot apricot compote. Finish: a fleeting kick of clogged sink and hiking boots, then a mix of herbal and fruity characters -- very fruity, actually. It is a green salad with mango slices in it. Not a small nuisance at all, this is wonderful! Dram of the day for me. For the record, Inchmurrin means island of Mirren (for the next film tasting, perhaps). 9/10

Inchmurrin in full of win

Is this ordinary?

Glen Ord 25yo 1978/2004 (58.3%, OB, 3600b) (JS): the phrase 'Glen Ordinary' pretty much gave JS the idea for the theme. It would have been rude not to have one in the line-up. Nose: herbaceous, leafy, even, walking under the ivy. Hints of citrus (lime, orange, grapefruit). It becomes flinty after a while. Mouth: bitter oranges, moss and a touch of nail varnish -- lovely. This is powerful and quite manly. Finish: austere, now, with rocks, leaves and lichen, a twist of the pepper mill and a touch of red fruit. It seems a little less complex than the first time (the bottle was opened today), yet it would be foolish to call it ordinary. 8/10

Is this mhormidable?

Glen Mhor 21yo d.1976 (43%, The Whisky Shop Glenkeir Treasures The Gold Selection, 299b) (me): this only works if one knows that 'mh' is pronounced 'v' in Gaelic -- which of course you do, if you read this blog regularly. This particular bottling is an old friend. Neither OB nor EG have had it, so I feel entitled to pour it once more. Nose: earth and soot, with touches of dark fruit. Mouth: this might lack horsepower to follow the previous drams, unfortunately. Dark fruit, earthy tones. Hard to take insightful notes. Finish: long, fruity and beautiful. I have loved this one each time; today is no exception. It suffers a bit from the sequence, yet it is indeed mhormidable. 8/10

We go back in to finish the dram, as it is getting chilly.

Does the following represent a loss of money?

Glenlossie 12yo (55.5%, OB The Manager's Dram, b.2004) (me): having almost never had a Glenlossie that I thought was worthy of buying, I am pretty excited to try this one. Also, one does not try a Manager's Dram every day... Strangely, it does not seem to be a single cask, now (bottle #900), and it is a lot easier to find than older bottlings. Perhaps Diageo have made this widely available? Nose: chicken stock, says OB, chicken feed, says EG. Lots of citrus (lime, grapefruit peels). It is a little simple, I suppose -- compared to the previous string, at least. That is the game, though. Sometimes, you win, sometimes you lose. Mouth: powerful, teeming with grapefruit and some vanilla. Nice and sparkly (JS), with a popping-candy impression (JS). Finish: long and pleasant. A good, fruity, young dram. I cannot wait to try it again. I call it the best Glenlossie I have had, until JS reminds me of the ridiculous 21yo Cadenhead we had last year. That hardly counts. 8/10

Is there agave in the last one?

Lagavulin Triple Matured 1991/2015 (59.9%, OB Feis Ile 2015, American Oak/Pedro Ximénez & Oak Puncheons) (OB): nose: peat and sea action, earth, kelp, mussels, basalmic vinegar©. Bold and assertive, if not too complex. Mouth: it has a bite to it, with vinegar, grilled meat and fishing nets, salty shells, winkles and a soft, metallic edge. Finish: long, ploughing, unsubtle. Bouillabaisse (a fish soup speciality from the South of France), fishing nets, algae, shells, mussels again. Good whisky and I can understand why it is popular. I think I expected more of a 24yo Lagavulin, though. More subtlety and elegance. 7/10

That is enough. We start talking about Chinese tourists visiting these shores. I hardly need encouragements to start a pointless rant and make a fool of myself. In any case, it probably shows what a bitter old fart I am. Since that is indeed the case, fine. I would rather, however, not alienate my friends. Time to call it a day. :o)

Superb tasting of a very consistent quality.

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