9 October 2015

04/10/2015 The Whisky Show 2015 (Day 2 -- Part 1)

The story starts here.

We reach the place half an hour early. Shorter queue, today, yet a queue all the same. Of course, PS is amongst the first five-or-so people. He slept on site, I am convinced.

Talking to an Indian with a Top Gun hat with a walkie-talkie

We head straight for the whisky.auction stand where most of the things available yesterday have gone. So much for the micro plans we came up with overnight.

Glenglassaugh 12yo (43%, OB, b.1980s): nose: dusty books and orange peels. Mouth: gentle, with orange peel and dusty cardboard boxes. Finish: it becomes a little more assertive, with bitter orange, cardboard and Alka Seltzer. JS is disappointed. I reckon she was hoping for a Caminneci-level 'glassaugh, which was a lot to hope for, from a modest 12yo, however ancient the bottling. 7/10

Isle of Jura 26yo 1965/1991 (45%, OB The Stillman's Dram, Italian market, PB03 91/918): blood-orange peel. Mouth: velvety, though it retains some orange bitterness. Finish: long, with a good blend of fruit and bitterness. 7/10

White Label (unknown ABV, John Dewar & Sons, 51/640, b.1950s): dom666 reckons this is below 40%. He might well be right too, though it does not bother me. Nose: matchsticks, meat and smoke, wood, dry heat. Mouth: soft and wide, if a bit weak, now. Finish: peaty, dusty, it has fruit stones too. 7/10

I finally manage to find the Tomintoul stand. I learn that the old 27yo had increasingly-aged whisky blended into it, to the point the accountants decided it had to be labelled 33yo (with the associated price hike, of course). The 25yo replaces that 33yo (sob) and comes with another price hike (+40%, no less).

Tomintoul 25yo (43%, OB, b.2015): nose: elegant and delicate, with notes of Burgundy wine. Mouth: fresh, subdued, with a tame sherry influence. Finish: more gentleness and roundness. This is delicate... and a bit boring. 7/10

We grab a table and decide that we will stay there for good, taking turns to fill the glasses.

Glen Rothes 17yo 1997/2015 (46%, SV The Un-Chillfiltered Collection, Refill Sherry Butt, C#15957, 546b): I do not spend much time on this -- it is full of sulphur, rotten eggs-style. Awful. 3/10

Dalmore 25yo (42%, OB, L5234 10:27 14/02346 22/08/14): nose: sherry, of course. It is under control, with exotic fruit, brewing underneath the dried ones. Mouth: polished and elegant. It does not challenge and might even seem a little tout, yet it manages to stay on the right side of vulgarity. Finish: perfect, now. Dry sherry, with walnut skins, exotic fruit, then coffee. Lovely finish indeed. 8/10

Glen Grant 1952/2012 (40%, GMP): nose: chestnut purée, wood, milk. Mouth: creamy, with a right dose of chestnut purée. Finish: slight bitterness, now (the wood, you see), to make for a cracking finale. Wish I had more of that! 9/10

Heaven Hill (50%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, B#1, 240b): nose: maple syrup, sugar, apricot. Mouth: soft and easy, enticing. Finish: apricot again. 7/10

Scapa Skiren (40%, OB, First-Fill American Oak Casks, B#SK01, b.2015): nose: sweaty shoes, locker room -- both shy, mind. Mouth: not bad, if rather bland. Finish: citrus, custard. Inoffensive and uninteresting, mostly. 6/10

Time to attend the masterclass (notes to follow).

The Only Way Is Eireann
Back from the masterclass, JS gets a Redbreast 21yo. I am told there is no rush as the bottle is almost untouched. I proceed to the stall, giggle at the TOWIE-model looks of the staff, then almost weep as I get the last drop of Redbreast 21. There is hardly enough for half a dram. At least, I do get some, not like the Glenglassaugh 30 at the Fringe!

Redbreast 21yo (46%, OB, b. ca 2015): nose: bakery, fruity doughnuts and a cascade of exuberant tropical fruit. Mouth: again, it is a cavalcade of tropical fruit. Finish: fresh, lively, fruity, awesome. 9/10

The Irish whiskies are really doing it for me (and many others), at the moment, what with their amazing fruitiness. I suspect, though, that they might follow the same schema as Bourbon: all of them are good, all of them in too similar a style. Teeling 21, Redbreast 21, Bushmills 21 -- they seem pretty much interchangeable. The question is: will anyone ever tire of the exotic-fruit kick?

MS has been asking for Ardbeg for a while, now. We agree that the time might now be right for peat. Not the LVMH version, though.

Lagavulin (54.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, B#1, 101b): nose: camp fire, pure smoke, rather than dirty peat (lots of giggles about what dirty peat is), crispy bacon. Mouth: mead, barley sugar and, of course, smoke. Finish: long and big, with smoke and burnt, crispy bacon. Good Lagavulin, this! 7/10

Ardbeg (48.6%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, B#6, 58b): nose: wood fire in a log cabin in the undergrowth. Mouth: warm as a log fire. Finish: more peat smoke. There is no barley here, which is great, as it is not a note I look forward to in most Ardbegs, young or old. 7/10

We go for food. It is 15:30 and the restaurant is almost empty. We whizz through the place, get served enormous portions in seconds (I do, at least, MS even goes for second serve), eat, have a huge dessert and take it easy before we resume.
The menu is the same, we all go for the lamb and crumble. Interestingly, the staff is swarming, today, taking plates before people even have time to put their forks down.

While winding down, I have another...

Caol Ila 31yo 1983/2015 (48.1%, SV for TWE, Hogshead, C#5294, 255b): nose: old books, balsamic vinegar, dust and extra-virgin olive oil. This is so close to a 1970s Ardbeg it hurts. Mouth: noble and elegant, with an old-library atmosphere, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, tapenade. Finish: at last, the peat reveals itself, with a sprinkle of fruit juice (olives). 9/10

Read on.

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