24 November 2015

22/11/2015 Unlikely humorous songs

The yearly do where we celebrate dom666's birthday at his. You will notice the themes get more and more specific and demanding.

The suspects: kruuk2, sonicvince, dom666, MQ, JS and myself. adc joins us very late for one dram.

The lineup even seems reasonable

MQ presents: Un Chien dans un Jeu de Quilles

MQ asked his other half what the theme was. She answered French films of the 1980s. He believed her. The two Jura below are the pins ('quilles', in French) and the Arran, which bears the Westie mascot, is the dog ('chien', in French).

Isle of Jura Superstition (43%, OB, 4145520) (MQ): the same bottle we tried last year. I remember not liking it very much. Nose: butter and caramel, with an animal touch and autumn leaves. Mouth: buttery and creamy. Finish: melting butter, gentle cigar smoke. This is inoffensive, yet it feels much better than last year. 6/10


Isle of Jura Prophecy (46%, OB) (MQ): nose: browned butter, cigar leaves, a hint of varnish (a lot of it, says sonicvince). After ten--fifteen minutes, even some fruit emerges (plums and apricot). Mouth: apricot is now stronger, adding flavour to the creamy, buttery texture. Finish: butter and apricot liqueur. I prefer this one. 7/10


Isle of Arran Machrie Moor Sixth Edition (46%, OB, b.2015) (MQ): nose: floral, with a touch of spices (paprika), then lots of lemon. This is supposed to be peaty? It is not. JS reckons it smells of dry lawn. Mouth: lemon-y and vaguely custard-y. Finish: long, warming, comforting, full of lemon. Not overly complex, but enjoyable nonetheless. 7/10

kruuk2 presents: David Lee Glenrothes - Just A Gigolo

Glenrothes Select Reserve (43%, OB, CGR163) (kruuk2): nose: butter, celeri salt (sonicvince) and -- wait for it -- cooked turnips. Mouth: mellow, it has daffodils, buttermilk and, at third sip, notes of pralines. Finish: discreet, subtle, with touches of butter (!) and daffodil petals. Interesting. I like this better than usual and find it peculiar to try it so soon after the Jura; I do not think any other distillery in Scotland produces anything as buttery as those two. 6/10

Starter is served: tomato and carrot soup. Yum.

Knockando 18yo d.1994 (43%, OB, Sherry Casks) (sonicvince): the owner cannot remember how this one fits the theme. He hopes it comes back to him, yet it never does. I used to have a version of this (d.1989) that I liked a lot. Nose: lukewarm cocoa, milk chocolate, maybe a hint of coffee. sonicvince finds fleeting potatoes in it (he is drunk, of course), then lemon comes out, with banana (sonicvince). Mouth: it seems thin and evanescent, with honey at first, then lemon. The second sip delivers slightly spicy orange juice. Finish: finally some action, with milk chocolate and the acidity of undiluted lemon juice. It was better in my memory, even if it remains an honest dram. 7/10

Main course is served: dom666's homemade lasagna. It is creamy as can be and, dare I say, the best traditional lasagna I have had.

JS and I present: The Lonely Island featuring Justin Timberlake - Bruichladdick in a Compass Box

JS came up with the first bit and, since I have an open Compass Box bottling, I offered to complete the piece.

Bruichladdich 15yo (43%, OB imported by Rinaldi Importatori, b.1980s) (JS): nose: unexpected power and unsuspected depth. Perhaps varnish is the first thing to come out, then banana (sonicvince), then juicy fruit, more and more assertive (canary or honeydew melon, pink grapefruit), cheese rind (JS). Mouth: fresh and amazingly lively, with lots of fruit again: melon (cantaloup, this time) and pink grapefruit. Lovely. Finish: explosive, fruity, slightly acidic. This is wonderful. Unanimously liked. 9/10


Flaming I-ties!
Glasgow Blend (43%, Compass Box Great King Street, b.2014) (me): nose: barley and smoke, accompanied by an unexpected alcohol heat. It feels more complex than the first time -- yay! It becomes coastal after a minute: fake caviar, whelk, salt water, brine. Mouth: buttery honey, then honeyed tea near a fireplace. This is subtle and pleasant, even though it has the bitterness of green tea. Finish: goes down like water, then comes back to haunt you with chimney smoke and toasted barley, still with some honey. 7/10

Cake is served. Instead of chocolate shavings on top, I crumble a speculoos. It works quite well.

dom666 presents: Pit & Rik - La Cicrane et Laphroaigmi

Laphroaig 31yo 1974/2005 (49.7%, OB for LMdW, Sherry Wood Casks, 910b) (dom666): yes, the theme connection is a little... stretched. JD peed his trousers when dom666 poured him this two years ago. He is not here today, on account of being hungover (haha). More for us, then! Nose: grapefruit, pomelo and tyres, coarse rubber. Mint, petrol. The grapefruit turns bolder and bolder (and rougher and rougher, and tougher and tougher, in other words sucker: there is no other). It smells like a marvellous game in which one pours fruit juice on warm tyres. Mouth: mild, at first, delicate, even. Rubber emerges, backed by grapefruit skins and lemon pips. Well, they might as well be grapefruit pips, really. Finish: a complete funfair. There is bitterness, acidity, rubber, exuberant, exotic fruit -- this is unbelievable. I realise today that I completely missed it the first time dom666 poured this, in 2006. It is a capital dram, only beaten by the likes of Black Bowmore. 10/10

sonicvince presents: Michel Fugain - C'est Laphroaig

Laphroaig Quarter Cask (48%, OB, b. mid-2000s, 28S46) (sonicvince): sonicvince reckons Fugain is comedy enough to justify an entry. We all sort of agree. We have this one with the 31yo, no matter how unfair that might seem. Nose: crusty, toasted bread, malted barley and a bucket of coal. Mouth: hot and bold, with red embers and liquefied chocolate. Finish: long and imposing, with ashes and very dark cocoa. Impressive. It is obviously not in the same league as its sparring partner, yet it is far from ridiculous. No wonder it is so popular; it is so good. 8/10

Transversal view
Woo, new note book!
MQ makes an exit, adc takes his place.

The Old Man of Huy presents: Bart Simpson featuring Michael Jackson - Do Dumbarton

Dumbarton 46yo d.1964 (47.4%, HH The Clan Denny, Refill Hogshead, C#7542) (me): with the exception of JD, who is not here, the whole group loves grain whisky. Few have had this distillery, though. I am thrilled to right that wrong. And also miffed to have misread the age statement -- I thought it was 47. Nose: custard-y porridge, sage on sourdough. P√Ętes de fruits (sugar-sprinkled, jelly-textured, fruity treats), ginger bread. As time goes by, soft tyre shows up, dried dates, prunes. adc reckons it smells like a train platform, waiting for a Southbound train coming from the North. Water gives away Virginia tobacco. Mouth: drying, stripping, with notes of bitter tea. Water makes it more acidic, with lime juice, thyme and salted caramel butter (adc). Finish: green-tea bitterness, sourdough and other bakery stuff. Not the easiest dram, but a cracking old grain, really. 8/10

Dick in a bottle

Good tasting, good company, amazing food. What more could one wish for?

Good thing we don't buy Laphroaig based on their use of apostrophe's...

20/11/2015 A regular Friday night

GL, a Society member, invited a few people to his office for a celebration of some kind. What we are celebrating, I have no idea. I like to think this is a regular Friday night in that place.
The weather is becoming chilly, which means it is a relief, once on the right floor, to discover lots of cheeses, sausages, pretzels and various other nibbles, alongside a huge selection of bottles. Mostly from the Society, yet others too.

A regular office around here

PS is there before me, JS joins us, then SMcD, MR, CD and other familiar faces arrive too. We waste no time.
The setting is that of an office party. We are standing and there is constant chatter and music playing. Notes are brief as a result.

117.3 25yo d.1988 Hubba-bubba, mango and monstera (58.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 199b): what a treat to be able to try this one again! Nose: tobacco at first, to a point I am wondering why I seemed to like it so much the previous times. Oh! it is complex alright, perhaps not as fruity as I remembered it is all. It also has citrus traces and... Ah! The tropical fruit cascade is here, now. Wow. Mouth: powerful and peppery, with delicate, tropical fruit behind it all. Finish: initially bland and leathery, it further releases a river of tropical fruit. Grand. 9/10

That is me done with SMWS bottlings for tonight.

Linlithgow 21yo 1982/2003 (63%, Duncan Taylor Rare Auld, C#2211, 264b): great opportunity to try this. Nose: herbaceous and flowery, it develops custard-y bakery goodness soon enough. Mouth: good body and strength. It is lively, despite the long-lasting low fill of the bottle. Finish: what!? Smoke? Yes. Burning hay -- and quite powerful, at that! 8/10

St Magdalene 31yo 1982/2013 (53.5%, Hart Brothers Finest Collection): not messing about, are we? Nose: much more pungent, with invading flowers (dandelions) and warm pastry. Mouth: creamy and lovely, with a slight metallic edge to it. Finish: ooooh! This is where it is at. A mix of fruits, spices (pepper) and honey pastry. 9/10

Linlithgow 26yo 1975/2001 (51.5%, Signatory Vintage, C#96/3/36, 354b): because why not? Nose: much deeper, this, with smokey barley and cow-stable notes, even. Mouth: velvety, with cactus spines on it -- it is powerful. Finish: woah! Big, powerful, assertive. This is bold and full of smoke and burning hay. What a beast! 9/10

Glenglassaugh 27yo 1976/2004 (51.2%, The Dormant Distillery Company, C#2370, 280b): exciting to try this from a relatively unknown bottler. It is a shared cask too: Whiskyfreunde Essenheim got 96 additional bottles out of the same cask. Nose: powerful bakery, with lots of spices and a touch of caramel sweetness. JS finds dough in this nose as well. Mouth: again, much spicier than expected, a little drying, even. Good wood display. Finish: an explosion of spices, which then settles on warm (hot) pastry. Hot cocoa, crushed cinnamon sticks. 8/10

Rosebank 11yo 1989/2001 (43%, Signatory Vintage, C#708+09): I remember trying this in a swimming pool in 2009 and liking it, yet finding that it was not exactly the typical Rosebank profile. Ever since, I have been thinking I was probably dreaming or am confusing it with something else. Nose: unbelievably smokey for a Lowlander, with lovely medicinal notes and dried flowers. Mouth: feels a bit watery, at this point, with candle wax and spent candle wick. Finish: spent matches soaked in honeyed water. An oddball Rosebank, totally unlike any other I have had. It confirms the impression I had in 2009. Interesting, yet perhaps not something I would buy. 6/10

Rosebank 20yo 1981/2002 (62.3%, OB Rare Malts Selection, 6000b): yes, they even have this. Nose: brutal as a RMS can be. In fact more so than any other, I reckon. Once the alcohol calms down, it becomes quite animal, with musk and fox skin. Virginia tobacco is present too, as well as stripping lemon. With water, it becomes more bearable. Same flavours, better balanced. Mouth: super powerful, as peppery as a Talisker, almost unbalanced. This is too powerful to be truly enjoyable, really. With water, it becomes whisky, rather than fire water, still with a similar profile (musk, tobacco, lemon). Finish: thermonuclear warfare, when undiluted. This is huge, challenging and barely drinkable. It must be the most powerful RMS I have had, which says a lot. Water makes it more tolerable, with hot marmalade and boiled flowers. This is unbalanced. I cannot go higher than 7/10, and that is taking the pedigree into account.

Time to call it a day. That Rosebank knocked me out. Good times, hope GD invites us lot again. :-)

Lost in bliss

17 November 2015

14/11/2015 Christmas outturn at the SMWS

Hard to believe it is that time again, but it is. The monster outturn for Christmas has landed.
Due to impending building works at the Society, there is no five-drams-and-a-plate-of-cheese formula today. Ah, well.
MS decided to bring his blind date to meet JS and I. She is both pleasant to be around and open-minded about ze W -- how can this go wrong, eh?

80.7 16yo d.1998 Indian Summer Sangria (54.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill Sauternes Hogshead, 162b): interestingly, the only other 80 released over the last four years was 80.6, which came out for the 2013 Christmas outturn. I remember liking that one a lot. Nose: sandalwood and cigar boxes, dry wood. It becomes pretty buttery too, with some added herbs (tarragon and marjoram). Mouth: custard-y, milky with a hefty dose of pepper. Finish: more custard, banana bread, chocolate coulis -- this is beautiful. 8/10

B3.2 3yo 2012/2015 Ooey-gooey cinnamon bun (55.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, New Charred Oak Barrel, 204b): MS is a reformed Bourbon enthusiast. He missed B3.1, a few months ago (has it really been a year?) and did not even spot this one today. Let us correct that. Nose: caramel, vanilla and coconut yoghurt. Mouth: buttery, with caramel and butterscotch, toffee, perhaps. Finish: short, rather simple, with lots of caramel and toffee. A nice drop, yet it lacks complexity, compared to the Scottishers. 7/10

I order the following two simultaneously, causing great confusion amongst the staff. 100.12 and 112.10 -- WOO, SIMILAR NUMBERS, INNIT!

100.12 10yo 2005/2015 Trip to a shopping mall (58.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 209b): nose: modern, with white wood, coconut shavings, green hazel tree. It smells a bit like walking through the make-up aisle at Harrod's. Mouth: hot, with tree bark, cinnamon sticks or cassia bark, black pepper and Cayenne pepper. Finish: hot at first, before a small explosion of red fruit steals the spotlight. Red cherries, currant, red fruit-soaked pralines. The nose was not particularly impressive, yet the finish nailed it. 8/10

112.10 14yo d.2000 A comforting hug in a mug (57.4%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 147b): nose: fruit pie, i.e. baked dough and baked fruit. Mouth: soft and velvety, it also unleashes paprika. Finish: fruit, fruit, fruit, some spices again and bakery. 8/10

41.68 11yo d.2003 Liquefied "Bounty bars" (61.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 215b): yet another 41; we need to try it, of course. Nose: balsa wood, sawdust, fresh flower stems, drying cut grass and even a little smoke. Mouth: hot and spicy, with gingery heat and wood tannins -- you will excuse the reference to another SMWS bottling (64.40). Finish: coconut and wood dust. This is ok, unspectacular. 6/10

7.125 11yo d.2003 Makes your heart sing (58.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 209b): nose: a bit nondescript, with dried banana skins and dried orange peels. The alcohol is pretty powerful. Mouth: mild, lukewarm custard, vanilla-flavoured soy milk -- this is a lot silkier than I expected. Finish: the heat is overpowering. It drowns the flavours somewhat. Once it cools off, it is all custard and vanilla yoghurt. 7/10

35.139 20yo d.1994 Punchy spice explosion (57.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill Toasted Oak Hogshead, 239b): nose: perfume, paint thinner, lemon-sprinkled banana. Mouth: light orange juice in texture (no pulp), it has quite a bit of spices. Finish: long and coating, with orange quarters. 7/10

This blind date thing is a dangerous game!
1.198 21yo d.1993 Night Nurse in carpenter's overalls (55.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 176b): MS wants to try this, as he is interested in 7.125 and these can only be bought as a pair. Nose: a slight alcohol burn in the right nostril. It seems relatively neutral and subtle, yet my co-tasters think it smells of cough syrup and dried fruits. I reckon they have been drinking. Mouth: cough syrup. Drying, sweetened liquid. Maple syrup (JS). Finish: mentholated, sweet, teeming with liquorice. Cough syrup for kids, this, not Actifed. 6/10

64.63 14yo 2001/2015 Rich and magisterial (55.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 14b): you read that right, this one is limited to 14 bottles. They are all behind the bar. It cannot be bought. Nose: beautiful wood and daffodils. Mouth: daffodils, coconut, vanilla -- that sort of shiznit. Finish: long, woody (sawdust) and custard-y. Lovely, wood-driven beauty. Another proof that 64 is a great distillery. 8/10

64.64 14yo 2001/2015 Mouth coating and moreish (57.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 231b): nose: similar to 64.63 in that it is wood-centred, yet the alcohol seems more aggressive. Mouth: milky and custard-y, with a bit of woody dryness. Finish: again, wood influence -- banana, coconut cream. very nice, though I prefer .63, today. 7/10

Moments of silliness
50.71 25yo 1990/2015 Alfresco brunch (58.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 165b): I convince MS to try this as a last dram -- though he objects he cannot afford to buy a bottle. Nose: flowery, with faint notes of bakery. Mouth: superbly balanced, with custard, flowers and sunny corn fields. Spices show up after a moment. Finish: long, full of custard-y bakery. Wonderful. 9/10

Good times, as usual. Quality throughout, though there seems to be a lack of stars, this year. Well, 50.71 is a bit of a star, of course.

13 November 2015

12/11/2015 One Bruichladdich

A colleague brought this, for an unknown reason. Yay. One of his mates bought a cask and had it bottled. This particular bottle was bought at a charity auction. Who was I to refuse this once-in-a-lifetime chance?

Bruichladdich 10yo 2005/2015 Islay Mist (60.7%, OB Private Cask Bottling for Wares, Bourbon Cask, C#1477): nose: voluptuously peachy, with a tiny veil of grass smoke, a meagre camp fire. This smells like warmth and comfort. Sweets of the gummy-bear type show up after a moment, then meringue and sweetened cream. It ends up being a rather modern malt, with vanilla, milk chocolate and a little dessicated coconut, yet it never becomes too simple. Mouth: oily and velvety, it coats the mouth properly, delivering the goods too (60+%). After a moment, a fresh and gentle dryness appears, giving it a slightly more austere touch. The main notes, however, are honey and mead. It also has a bit of cinnamon sticks.
Finish: this is where the heat kicks in. Warm mead, hot toddy, vanilla-ed hot cocoa, spiked with a few spices, cassia bark first and gentle sandalwood. 7/10 (thanks CG for the dram)

6 November 2015

05/11/2015 Banffire Night

In the night of the 4th to the 5th November 1605, a chap called Guy Fawkes was discovered in the Palace of Westminster, home of the British Parliament, with enough gunpowder to take the building down. He was arrested, along with other conspirators, and put through the joys of Renaissance punishment.
The aborted attack, known as the Gunpowder Plot, was revealed in an anonymous letter; hence why Guy Fawkes masks have become the symbol of hacktivist group Anonymous.
Since then, the 5th November has become a big night in the Great Kingdom of Britain. Some celebrate the plot, others celebrate the plotters' getting caught. Fireworks and booze are well represented. It is colloquially known as Bonfire Night. There's a pun I cannot miss.

Banff 37yo 1975/2013 (42.9%, Malts of Scotland, Bourbon Barrel, C#13023, 201b): nose: dusty books, at first, soon to give way to musty warehouses, stacks of barrels stored in a galleon's cargo. Wine sauce, mustard-y gravy -- w00t! It then changes again to reveal a certain fruitiness: cooked oranges, initially, then boiled, citrus-y sweets, before it morphs back to dunnage warehouse, augmented with marmalade, this time. Damp staves, evaporating alcohol and... sage. Beautiful nose, this. Pretty complex. Mouth: woody with some tannins, it has grape pips in acceptable doses, green-grape juice, yet also allspice and nutmeg. It is still lively and powerful, despite the low ABV. Oh! it is no spring chicken bouncing around, mind. More of a quiet strength. Dijon mustard with soaking dried fruits (sultanas? Currants?) and a gently metallic touch. Finish: a healthy mix of wood and fruit. Pepper, cigar boxes, cigar leaves, redcurrants. The finish feels shy at first, yet it actually lasts forever. A little bit drying, with notes of dark cocoa and wood shavings, mocha-flavoured dark chocolate and pencil lead. This is really fawking good. Boom. 9/10