Forget that Christmas malarky. St Nicholas is da man.
Glen Elgin 32yo 1971/2003 (42.3%, OB, 1500b): nose: earth -- nay! Mud! It is amazingly concentrated, akin to walking through a ploughed field, or a muddy forest path, not too long after the rain, which means there are dead leaves in the mud. This is perfectly in keeping with the grey, grey weather outside. Wet gravel, perhaps? Pebbles? Wet cobblestone? Mouth: unbelievable. It is a perfect continuation of the nose, with wet earth, clay, forest paths and wet stones. The whole is balanced by a dollop of honey and a healthy sprinkle of white pepper. This is countryside at its best! Funny, coming from a town distillery. Finish: lots of pepper here, though never annoying as in Talisker 10yo. The honey is still present, whilst the earth is more subdued. It leaves a chewy impression in the mouth, that is for sure. Humid stones, gravel, flint, even, and lots of pepper. What a lovely dram! 9/10
Columban of Iona 23yo 1991/2014 (57.5%, The Stillman, C#16, 231b): nose: paint thinner and mild peat, at first -- this will not be a fruity glory... Oh! wait, fruit does come out, after ten minutes. Nail-varnish remover remains the dominant -- or is it hair spray? In any case, and although there is some fruit, it is no 118.3. Well, until twenty minutes in, that is, at which point it reeks of dusty mangoes. Mouth: hot and powerful. My poor, injured palate suffers. I burnt myself with hot, crusty bread at lunch. :-) Once the heat calms down, custard-y dough comes through. Little fruit to speak of, still, and not much more peat. It is vaguely earthy, I guess. A veil of tropical fruit appears in the back of the mouth, still tame. Finish: ah! Now, it becomes great, with mild peat and lots of fruit -- mango and papaya above the rest, though also pears, pineapple (tinned) and persimmon. Fruit becomes more dominant with each sip. Very good, rather than great. The alcohol does not feel very well-integrated, which prevents a fantastic score. 8/10 (thanks CD for the sample)