8 October 2015

03/10/2015 The Whisky Show 2015 (Day 1 -- Part 2)

The story started here.

OB comes back from the Gordon & MacPhail masterclass with goodies. We get to nose:
Mortlach 12yo (70° PROOF, GMP, b.1960s): amazing width, a massive punch of smoke in the forehead. I do not think it too risky to guess this was made in the direct-fired stills era.
Mortlach d.1938 (40%, GMP, b. mid-1980s): this is too woody, acrid, splintery.
Mortlach 1954/2012 (43%, GMP): nice, balanced, with wood (duh!) and smoke.
Mortlach 75yo 1939/2015 (44.4%, GMP Generations): an astonishing freshness and a humbling depth. This is majestic, absolutely not tired.The full experience is so complex I cannot even understand what is happening to me. 12/10

Even with the minute quantities, all of them are moving, with the 75yo being the absolute cream of the crop. Thanks OB for sharing that moment with us.

Since we are at the Signatory stall, we carry on -- a difficult act to follow, you will admit.

Glen Keith 22yo 1992/2015 (54.9%, SV Cask Strength Collection, Bourbon Barrels, C#120568+120572, 357b): nose: hazelnut ice cream. It is extremely clear, we all agree. Mouth: green chilli, some fruit; nothing exuberant. An unidentified, yet intense, parasite smell kills my focus. Finish: milk chocolate, flower sap. Nice, this. 8/10

Glenlivet 33yo 1981/2015 (52.2%, SV for TWE, Refill Sherry Hogshead, C#9468, 154b): nose: bamboo, green wood, butter, vanilla. Mouth: mellow, with faint notes of faded leather. Finish: hot, now. Warm custard. 7/10

Balmenach 26yo 1988/2015 (51.1%, SV for TWE, Hogshead, C#3242, 192b): nose: slightly overbaked dough. Mouth: easy and gentle, with the bitterness of apricot stones. It gets slightly austere, in truth. Finish: rougher, rich, with cherry stones. Very good. 7/10

Aberlour 10yo V.O.H.M. (43°, OB Italian market): nose: a forkful of meat, with farmyard scents and fruit (JS). Mouth: gentle and easy (yes, I am becoming repetitive). Finish: much bigger than the mouth suggested, with meat and dark vinegar and soy sauce. Nice. 7/10

Bushmills 21yo (40%, OB, Oloroso Sherry/Bourbon/Madeira Casks, b.2013): nose: an explosion of tropical fruit, with a hint of varnish. Mouth: unadulterated fruit juice. Finish: more overripe-fruit shenanigan. Amazing. 9/10

While we are in Irish territory...

Finest Irish 22yo (51.8%, TWE, b.2015): nose: peat and exotic fruit. OB says it is herbal peat, not earthy peat. The nose is exuberant again, teeming with overripe fruit (clogged sink scents, aye?) Mouth: initially tramples the tongue, then it is a flood of smokey, barbecued exotic fruit. Finish: tropical fruits, straight from the barbecue. Magical. 9/10

Time for lunch. And a dram to accompany it. I get the latter from Gordon & MacPhail's, where the guy recognises me. He has pull that trick on me every year, meaning I believe him, now. Nice touch. We chat for a bit, then I join the group for a bite.

We hope that the hordes of famished tasters will have disappeared (it is 15:10); tough luck! The queue is humongous. The canteen is up the stairs, on what feels like an observation platform for fancy corporate cocktails. It is a nice spot and allows one to see the rest of the venue. At the same time, it is definitely not suitable to sit 500 people for lunch. The round tables are also way too large, making moving around very difficult, especially for the staff. The consequence is piles of plates everywhere and impracticable tables.

Fortunately, the queue is quick and we manage to find a table too. The food (fish pie, lamb navarin, cannot remember the vegetarian option, with purée, vegetable mix and Yorkshire pudding) is delicious and warm enough. We get everything in one serving too, which is a massive improvement on last year. The portions could be a bit bigger for us, yet considering some are leaving loads of food behind, it is easy to understand why the staff errs on the side of caution.

Glen Mhor 1980/2011 (43%, GMP, Refill Sherry Butt): kudos to GMP for constantly bringing interesting stuff. It goes without saying this is the only Mhor at the show. Nose: old books, balsamic vinegar and pickles. Mouth: ach! Wood! This is really bitter, not really balanced. It gets better at second sip. Finish: better than the mouth. The balsamic speaks louder than the wood, here. Still not a great Mhor. 6/10

With the Glen Mhor, the desserts are pear crumble or chocolate brownie. Lovely again.

And JMcG is here!
We then spend some time at the food-pairing stalls... for food and to socialise. The chocolates from The Chocolate Experience are very nice (dark choc hazelnut and walnut/marzipan work particularly well for me, though the ginger ones are good too).
The Ibericos de Huelva stall next to it has some killer hams (some cut in real time) and sausages. Love them.

Fancy a jamon sammich?

MS answers my text enquiring where he is -- he bought tickets. He cannot find them and the event is not in his calendar. He forgot about it. I promise I will enquire whether his name is on the list for tomorrow (it is).

Caol Ila 31yo 1983/2015 (48.1%, SV for TWE, Hogshead, C#5294, 255b): nose: smells old, with old books, leather belts. Mouth: noble and vaguely animal. Finish: exactly as a small batch Ardbeg from the 1970s. Wonderful. 9/10

Look! A magical box of blue light!
Trip to the Will Grant stand, where I am surprised to discover that JE works, now, after leaving TWE.

Kininvie 23yo d.1991 (42.6, OB, B#003): at long last, a chance to tick that box. Nose: citrus, flowers. This is really inoffensive. Mouth: crisp and fresh, with more citrus. Finish: again, crisp and citrus-y. 7/10

Ghosted Reserve 26yo (42%, William Grant & Sons): a blend of Inverleven and Ladyburn. Nose: vanilla, sugar rolls, custard. It has a floral quality to it as well. Mouth: gentle, with a kick of red chilli to spice things up. Other than that, it is floral. Finish: milk chocolate with custard, butterscotch and liqueur praline. Pleasant enough, yet pricey. 8/10

While we are trying blends...

Lost Distilleries Blend (49.3%, The Blended Whisky Company, B#6, 534b): a blend of Port Dundas, Port Ellen, Brora, Mosstowie, Glenisla, Glen Mhor and Imperial. Nose: a chimney fire, clay-floored bonded warehouses and lots of fruit. Mouth: spring berries and old stoves, both kept in a warehouse. Finish: wow! Same old, same old. It works particularly well.

Worth noting that the staff is more interested in convincing people to tweet on the big screen and giving them samples than trying to talk about whisky. How I dislike the way whisky is heading!

Also, the labels are... err... interesting?

I do try this and find it interesting,
slightly peaty.
Back to Grant's.

Girvan 25yo Launch Edition (42%, OB, 500b): nose: custard and vanilla. Not very expressive. Not at all, in fact. Mouth: watery, with drops of custard. Finish: tame, metallic, uninteresting, without being bad. Extremely disappointing. 5/10

We take a stroll on the terrace, where someone obviously had one or two too many: he is puking in the river.
Gorgeous weather, though. :-)

Last pour. I run to Bruichladdich, as I promised the guy there to do just that.

Octomore 6.3 5yo Ochdamh-mòr (64%, OB, P/141765 15/056): nose: heavy smoke (no shit!) and a touch of sulphur (dom666). Mouth: big, powerful, smokey and peaty. Finish: long and invading, full of smoke. I find it rather nice, actually. It seems the right time for this. 7/10

The first day went by in a flash. I checked my watch at 13:15 and thought it had just started. A minute later, they were announcing last pour.
At the same time, we tried most of what we wanted to already, which means tomorrow *should* be a bit more laid back...

Stressful day in London
Carry on reading here.

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