29 January 2016

26/01/2016 Diageo Special Releases Masterclass

Datz rite. Only two days after the Burns extravaganza, we are back at work.
Unbelievable that after all these years and custom, this is my very first TWE tasting. It is taking place on the first floor of Browns Covent Garden, a grand, old-fashioned restaurant.

JS and I make it to the venue only a few minutes before it starts. The room is packed and it is not easy to find two contiguous seats. We find some, eventually, right next to an SMWS regular. Lucky! We face away from the screen and MC, unfortunately, which means we end up rubbernecking a lot.

Colin Dunn is hosting this, of course. Some recycled jokes, a couple of new ones. He keeps saying this is not a sales pitch, yet brings up price and increase in value any chance he gets. Ah, well. Naturally, we do not try the drams in the order they were served. The below is how we really try them.

"The only reason I am here: I don't have to pay to get in."

Port Ellen 32yo 1983/2015 (53.9%, OB Annual Release, Bourbon Casks, 2964b): a blend of twelve barrels, put in cask at 67% in 1983. Nose: burnt rubber, shellac, then a farmland path, ploughed fields, even drying fishing nets. Mouth: a lot sweeter than expected, with cast sugar, cane sugar syrup and growing spices. The green chilli is quite assertive. Finish: burnt wood, ash, barbecued whelk in a farmyard. The sweetness then comes back. This is wonderful. 9/10

Staying on Islay, we have...

Lagavulin 12yo (56.8%, OB Natural Cask Strength, 15th Release, Bourbon Casks): a mix of around 100 barrels. Nose: super meaty (cured meat, melting lard), then black cumin and black cardamom. Mouth: nail varnish, lacquer, ground coriander, ground black cumin. It remains velvety in texture, which is interesting, with those spicy notes. Finish: bold, muscular, teeming with oily peat and toasted barley -- this warms one up! Pretty good. I like it much more than the 2013 release, possibly because of the sequence. 8/10

One more before we take a break.

The Cally 40yo 1974/2015 (53.3%, OB, 5060b): distilled from maize and wheat, as well as a small dose of malted barley, of course. Nose: a total bakery fest. This is full of coconut shavings and apricot turnover, grapefruit slices and paint thinner. Banane flambée, even. Mouth: oh! Yes, apricot turnover in taste and texture. This is velvety and sexy, very quaffable. Finish: the perfect mix of bakery and spices, juicy turnovers and chilli pickles. Superb. Shame about the extravagant price. 9/10

Quick catch-up with our friends in the audience (MR, EG, AR, DR), then we are back on track.

Not too much Brora, in that left-hand-side glass!
Dailuaine 34yo 1980/2015 (50.9%, OB Natural Cask Strength, 2952b): this is really the one that piqued our interest. Everything else is a great bonus, mind. This one is unusual in that it is the first Dailuaine to appear in the Special Releases, it is one of the oldest I have seen, the price, although high, is more affordable than others' and particularly, it sold out immediately. Great chance to try it, then. Nose: natural apple juice, elegant perfume, fresh peppermint, cut apples, then lime and hay -- unbelievable, this. Mouth: floral, with honeysuckle and honey, cotton candy before the alcohol becomes louder, with notes of green chilli flakes. Finish: long, big, yet delicate at the same time, if it makes sense. Feminine, fruity, yet neverending and assertive, it has a hint of green grass. 9/10

Pittyvaich 25yo 1989/2015 (49.9, OB, Refill Bourbon Hogsheads, 5922b): nose: very floral, with honeysuckle, honeycomb and forsythia. It quickly turns rather herbaceous, which is in keeping with the distillery profile (remember the grassy 1993 by GMP?) Mouth: silky, milky and pleasant. It develops to reveal pear juice and plum juice. Finish: wide, bold and fruity, with apricot and plum. This might be even better than the 20yo from 2010. 9/10

Clynelish (55.9%, OB Select Reserve, 2nd Edition, b.2015, 2946b): we are told there is a "large proportion of 37yo Clynelish" in this, but that it "wasn't good enough on its own." It is impossible to not notice the NAS and the price tag, despite all the efforts. Is the juice any good, though? Nose: musky, animal, skinned fox, then freshly-polished shoes and a bit of leather trousers. With water, fruit comes out -- apricots and plums. Mouth: jammy, with apricot compote, then caramelised apricot compote. Water enhances the fruity aspects. Finish: more compote and a hint of smoke. The musk has all but disappeared, now. With water, the finish becomes too thin. Pity, as the nose and palate were better with water. 8/10

We walk across the road to the old distillery:

Brora 37yo 1977/2015 (50.4%, OB Limited Editino, 14th Release, 2976b): nose: shy at first, then extremely farmy. A dairy farm, that is -- milk cows, butter, cream, soft cheese. Fruit emerges too. Later on, it is all about nail varnish, gouache and plasters. Mouth: this tingles, even six drams into the tasting. It is slightly drying, with black cumin, as well as wax seals (still warm). Finish: ash and wax seals. This becomes waxier and waxier at the same time as the ash grows bigger. Brilliant. 9/10

Starstruck Dunn was delighted to get close to the Old Man of Huy
Colin asks who is up for a mystery dram. The staff pours things around in clean glasses. I note that they pour out of bottles of Pittyvaich and Dailuaine. I consolidate the remaining Pittyvaich and these fresh pours into one glass, only to be told a minute later that, inside the bottles, was this year's "best whisky in the world," Crown Royal Rye. Presumably, I have just polluted a perfectly innocent dram of Pittyvaich 25yo with two drams of Crown Royal. Ah, well.

I take no notes. It seems unspectacular, though palatable. Colin tells the audience that no-one can tell anyone that such and such is the best whisky in the world, not even Jim Murray, because it is all based on personal taste.

The tasting comes to an end. We are told that TWE's new shop, two streets away, will be open for a short while after this, and some of the bottles are available.

We socialise a bit longer, JS suffers condescending remarks from a table guest ("You've chosen the perfect table mate: she's left all her whiskies") and from Dunn ("You've done pretty well on those," pointing at the half-full drams). If only they knew! We do not leave a drop behind, naturally.

We then head for the shop. First time in the new location, a visit was overdue.

Good tasting. Nice to see some friends I have not seen in a long time and great selection of whiskies. I thought the tone of the tasting was not very clear: it seemed too high-brow for the uneducated (a couple of people were attending their very first whisky tasting), yet too low-brow for the geeks, who do not need to be told that the prices will only go up and stocks are depleting. It left both sides unsatisfied to a point. Too much talk about auction highlights for me, and the rookies were checking their phones long before the end.
The room looked grand, though it did not seem appropriate for this sort of events: too high (terrible acoustic) and too hot. Besides, the round tables are very impractical and a pain for the neck.

28 January 2016

23/01/2016 Burns Night 2016 -- Oddities and comparisons

Today, I have something special I want to open. The theme is really made to fit around it. It is from a distillery we do not try often (never have with this group) and, looking closer, I have a gift for someone who is coming tonight: it is the same distillery, the same bottler and the same age. Now, there is an idea! Oddities (exit the usual suspects) and comparisons. Great if both are mixed together.

We will be cosy

The suspects: adc, JS, ruckus, dom666, kruuk2, FN, JD and myself. sonicvince calls off at the last minute: he is conducting a dangerous electricity experiment at home and is concerned to leave the house.

More for us!

When everyone is in, we start the list. And the munchies. adc made blinis with tarama, and others with cream cheese and smoked salmon.

And lots of whisky!

Spirit of Freedom 45 (45%, Springbank Distillers Ltd., 14/534) (brought by adc): this is odd for us, in that we very rarely have blends. Not that we are too good for blends or anything -- we simply rarely buy them. It was bottled to celebrate the 45% of Scots who voted for independence in 2014. Nose: turpentine, nail-varnish remover. JD reckons it smells of grappa, while adc finds it rather neutral. I find it opens up to reveal dry earth and hay. Mouth: grappa-like indeed, this is soft and neutral, probably sweeter than the Italian eau-de-vie, with a hint of earth and berries. The sweetness becomes very pronounced, when one keeps it in the mouth. Finish: milk chocolate, berries. A solid blend, this, and a great way to start. 7/10

In the kitchen, the haggis has exploded in the oven. I am frustrated. I increase the temperature, confident that there is no risk, now, only to find the veggie haggis has exploded, when I check on it later on. Argh.


Starter is served: leek and Brussels sprout soup. Excellent.

The Brussels sprout soup proved unexpectedly popular

Craigellachie 13yo (46%, OB, 83-LH88, b. ca 2014) (JD): JD thought he had never come across this distillery. We had two expressions last year, yet this is the first official bottling with this group of people. It works. Nose: coconut milk with crushed mint, unripe, unpeeled pineapple. It is well citrus-y. Mouth: hot, watery custard, with a dash of lime zest. It is acidic with bakery flavours. Finish: hot custard and lime. This feels much, much better than the Craigellachie OB we had at the Fringe, last summer. 7/10

FN enters the game and tries to catch up. He is good at it.

Penderyn Independance (41%, OB Icons of Wales, Madeira Casks Finish, Release 2/50, b.2013) (adc): this was presented as a blend -- it is not. A NAS bottling of Penderyn, a distillery whose production we have not drunk often. adc initially thought to compare it with Spirit of Freedom (both about independence, see?), but JS decided against it when doing the lineup: a) the Craigellachie seemed to fit better in between, b) FN was bringing another Penderyn to compare this with. In any case, this one celebrates the American Founding Fathers of Welsh origins. Jefferson, Lincoln and many others, all listed on the box. The bottle is screen-printed and it comes with a feather. Nice packaging. Nose: woah! Full-on decaying tropical fruit and bitter orange (adc). dom666 jokes it is close to Pendarin Napoleon. Ha. Ha. :-| Sweet bakery, marzipan, says JD, who will find marzipan in everything, tonight. Mouth: more marzipan and sweet custard. Finish: amaretti (Italian almondy biscuits), marzipan, frangipane, ground almonds and juicy fruit. Blimey! This is extraordinary! 9/10


128.3 5yo d.2006 Chestnut puree and hiking boots (61.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, First Fill Barrel, 229b) (FN): this one, we had a few times in 2012. I have good memories associated with it. There is not much left, so short notes. Nose: marzipan again, carrot cake (JS). Mouth: warming and soft. It has become really nice and mellow, with oxidation. Finish: a gentle bite, then the fruit comes back -- a mix of almonds and tropical fruit. Superb. 8/10

Main course is served. Potato and mushroom gratin, neeps and tatties, and both exploded haggises.

Glenlossie 21yo 1993/2015 (56.1%, Cadenhead Small Batch, bourbon Hogsheads, 492b) (FN): another one we rarely have, and never have had with this group. Even better, we will compare it to another expression from the same distillery, of the same age and released by the same bottler... thirty-five years earlier. Nose: entering Humblet's, i.e. pet cages, wood shavings (kruuk2, recalling his pet addiction in the Liège area), entering a carpenter's workshop, sawdust and tools to work wood (chisel, saw, file). Mouth: peppery, though it is sweet too. Spices grow in intensity the longer one sips it (red chilli). Finish: spicy again, with fruit, this time, and frangipane (JD). Spices from the wood dominate, however: pepper, nutmeg, wood shavings. Much better than the recent (and younger) SMWS expressions. 8/10


Glenlossie-Glenlivet 21yo 1957/1979 (45.7%, Cadenhead, Sherry Wood) (me): this is a sister cask to the glorious dumpy we tried at a masterclass last year. The colour is so singular, it deserves a mention, for once: it is red, like a good kriek. Nose: cigar boxes (FN, who reminisces of his grandfather), kumquat (adc), quince -- this becomes fruity! Damp earth, a walk in the undergrowth -- ooooooft! Woodworm, dry wood (adc), as well as a touch of exotic fruit and exotic wood (teak). Hours later, mint and basil appear alongside juicy cherries. JS finds the nose is that of a refined, sherried whisky. Not bad, considering it is not her favourite style. Mouth: watered-down coffee, almond liqueur; this is mild and civilised, with a certain freshness to it. Finish: drying, now, with wood and coffee, mocha chocolate and a hint of fruit. Great, great, yet I think I preferred the one bottled in May 1978. JD finds it unusual and not his style. He pours his share to dom666 who seems extremely distraught at the additional quantity to drink... 9/10

"The frangipane is fleeting. It jumps at you, then goes away. It is jumping frangipane." (kruuk2)

Tormore 29yo 19842013 (53.9%, www.whiskybroker.co.uk, Barrel, C#3674, 107b) (JS): nose: a mix of wood, fruit stones and polished dashboards. Mouth: nut liqueur, fruit praline, chocolate coulis -- this is nice! Finish: complex, it oscillates between fruity, chocolate-y and woody notes. Beautiful. JS finds Macadamia nuts in it and, indeed, water pumps it up with oily Macadamia nuts. This one was a nice little discovery when we had it in July, JS decided to impress everyone with it in January, and it worked. 9/10


105.19 28yo d.1983 'O come all ye faithful' (55.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, ex-Sherry Hogshead, 315b) (dom666): when dom666 poured this three years ago, I remember being a little distressed that it was not as fruity as I remembered it. It has now had a couple of years to open up, let us see... Nose: Mon Chéri, initially, cherry-liqueur pralines, in other words. It then fades away to let coffee emerge, then that goes too, to leave dunnage warehouse and moss on wood. Mouth: cherry liqueur and dark, bitter chocolate. Finish: long and powerful, with a few herbs, chocolate and even mild coffee. This is as lovely as it was the first time. 9/10

Here come the marching drams
Your colours wrapped around

To mark a pause after this glorious run of four, I serve dessert -- the traditional cake. It is pretty much devoured in no time at all.

Paul John (55.2%, OB, B#001, b.2013) (kruuk2): first Paul John for this group and only my second, after the one at last year's Show, for which I did not take notes. Nose: "it smells of haggis -- oh! no, it's my hand!" (JD, not sure what he does with his hands). Nose: gouache and plasticine, freshly-stuck carpet. It smells a bit chemical, obviously, yet it is not really disturbing. Mouth: the alcohol tingles, with herbaceous notes, dried herbs, dried tobacco. Finish: drying, it has notes of herbs and metal. Water creates a blend of sweetness and rubber, shellac, even. Aight. 6/10

A second cake is eaten, this time with a speculoos case. It proves popular, if a bit less so than the traditional one.

What've we got here?

Banff 35yo 1975/2011 (42.4%, DL Old & Rare Platinum Selection, Refill Hogshead, 158b) (the group): JD remembers he does not care for this one too much. Everyone else thinks he is mad (and of course, he is). Nose: I look for the Chaumes-rind notes, as usual... It is more herbs and lichen on stone or on casks... Oh! Overripe cheese rind is here at last! Dust, mould and a vague medicinal note (bandages or plasters). Mouth: mellow and elegant, it has the delicateness of honey. Finish: long and dignified, it is delicate, soft, with a sprinkle of mustard powder. Excellent. 9/10


Banff 23yo 1976/2000 (55.5%, Signatory Vintage, C#2249, 00/312, 268b) (me): Banff is not one we try every day, so let us have two. Because we can. Nose: mustard powder, soy sauce -- this is pretty savoury. Mouth: mustard-y, with a certain mellowness to it. Sweet mustard, perhaps? Sparkling cola with mustard powder. Finish: flat cola, lukewarm coffee. It lingers on forever. Most like this one better (including me, tonight), but yeah, they are both magnificent, even if my late-night notes do not do them justice. 9/10

North Port 20yo 1979/1999 (61.2%, OB Rare Malts Selection) (ruckus): with this group, this might still be the first North Port we try (some of us have had it once before). We will improve, though: two North Ports, today, same bottler and same collection! Nose: phwoar! Typical RMS power, big, bold and wide, it screams at you with notes of coffee and Virginia tobacco. Coming back to it after having had the next one, this seems a lot more citrus-y. Mouth: warm, with white pepper and hot peach sauce. Water makes it more palatable, rounder and more pleasant, with a touch of caramel. Finish: thin, but bold, with big lashes of peach stones and a bit of drying rubber. 8/10


JSpring roll time
North Port 23yo 1971/1995 (54.7%, OB Rare Malts Selection) (me): nose: musky, full of fox skin, cured meat, wet beaver. Some sulfur is soon to appear. Water makes it even more animal (wet cats join the foxes). Mouth: a lot softer than the 20yo, with honey and green pepper. It becomes hot in the long run, though. Water accentuates the mellowness. Finish: quite explosive, at this stage, with notes of coffee beans. The gang finds it merely interesting. I suppose they are right. It is late to understand the full potential. 7/10

Difficult whiskies, those North Ports; what a chance to get to try both together, though! adc goes to bed.

Caol Ila 1993/2004 (43%, MMcD Maverick, Bourbon Cask/Chenin Finish, C#W0404, 04/0651) (dom666): obviously, Caol Ila does not qualify. It is not being compared either. However, a Chenin finish is odd enough to make this a valid entry. Nose: lots of peat smoke, with cigarette ash, roasted cereal and a bit of paint. Mouth: sweet, sugar-glazed cereal (you know, the ones with Tony the Tiger on the box). Finish: the peat smoke becomes very prominent, with coal, soot, roasted cereal, caramel. Powerful and pretty good. Not sure what the finish brings to it (the sweetness, perhaps?), but it is good. 7/10

We shall meet again!
We skipped the comparison of Bowmore Tempests. Firstly, sonicvince is not here with his B#IV, secondly, we have had enough to drink as it is. We also skipped kruuk2's Balblair 1989, since sonicvince's own Balblair 1989 is not in.

JD goes to bed. It is 2am.

Off-tasting, we have a final dram. North British 45yo 1963/2009 (50.7%, Signatory Vintage, C#117362 + 63 + 65, 290b). No notes, this year - it still rocks.

FN calls it a night at 4:20. We all clock off at 5.

Epilogue, the morning after

Three hours of sleep and it is time to eat another piece of cake to accompany a nice dram. We have:

Bunnahabhain 42yo 1968/2011 (43.8%, Whisky-Fässle, Refill Sherry Cask) (the group): nose: less fruity than I remembered, it is waxy, today. The fruit ends up showing up in a gentle whirlwind. Mouth: oily and fruity (exotic fruit, apricot, plum), with a hint of Virginia tobacco and aromatised olive oil. Finish: very long, entrancing and elegant, with ripe apricot, a touch of dried moss and buttery pastry. This is wonderful. 9/10

Everyone slowly ventures back to their own homes and the place is vacated by 11:59.

Epic tasting, as usual. Miffed that both haggises exploded, though.

18 January 2016

16/01/2016 Songs

First tasting of the year and first musical tasting for this UK lot. It left a few of them puzzled, initially, yet all gave it their best shot and came up with good things.
OB had to call off due to visitors showing up and JH did not make it either, following a spike at work.
The suspects: MS, PS, EG, JS and yours, truly. MS provides the soundtrack, a great and eclectic selection.

While waiting for EG and JS to arrive, we three have an apéritif. It even fits the theme:

Jackie Quartz - A la vie à l'Ardmore

Ardmore 19yo 1978/1998 (46%, Cadenhead's Original Collection) (me): Nose: sweet and dusty, with a whiff of coal dust. Mouth: sweet and slightly hot -- chilli heat. Finish: more tingling from chilli, as well as salty popcorn. MS jokes that it could be my after-shave whisky, which makes me laugh, since it was, two weeks ago. It seems to be at its full potential, now, early in the lineup. Still not a stunner, mind. 7/10

Time for serious action, now.

JS and I present: Littlemahl - Neverend-Mosstowie

Littlemill 16yo 1991/2008 (50%, DL Old Malt Cask 50°, C#DL4064, 276b) (JS): long time since we had this one. I remember loving its nuttiness. Nose: nuts indeed, hazelnuts, to be precise, a drop of lime, grappa in the back (says EG, I agree) and unsalted pistachio shells. Mouth: gentle, yet assertive, with green hazelnut. Finish: more (green) hazelnut and -- what is new -- a tiny dropkick of tropical fruit. I realise my notes are going to be awful and short, today. All the same, I like this a lot. 8/10

Mosstowie 33yo 1975/2008 (48.4%, DT Rarest of the Rare, C#5816, 184b) (me): thanks again EG for giving me the idea, as I had forgotten I had this one. Nose: stir-fried pears, cinnamon, tarragon (MS, getting into the groove), apple compote. Water makes it more citrus-y, with lime and grapefruit. Mouth: mellow, full of custard, augmented with a pinch of white pepper. With water: lemon is definitely more present and the texture becomes creamier. Finish: oooh! Beautiful mix of crisp, unripe apple, cinnamon and white pepper. With water, the whole turns more acidic, though remains custard-y. Lemon custard, then. 9/10

EG explains how he has been on a kale diet, recently, and describes how to stir-fry it. MS observes that it sounds like a good way to get rid of kale. Kale enthusiasts unite!

EG presents: Eddie Grant - I Don't Wanna Dance

Glen Grant 5yo d.1965 (40° GL, OB imported by Armando Giovinetti Jr.) (EG): nose: grappa (MS), aromatised grappa (a la ruota), lemon, βανίλια. Mouth: watery -- I reckon this is below 40%, now. French toast (pain perdu) comes up, then mild spices, akin to a milky korma. Finish: silky smooth and lemon-y, with custard and vanilla. This is not complex, but pretty nice all the same. 7/10

EG presents: John Mason and The Scottish Fiddle Orchestra - Spirit of Strathisla

(No video available, unfortunately)

Strathisla 10yo (43° GL, OB imported by M.P.T., b.1970s) (EG): nose: candy floss (PS), peach (PS again), greengage, green apple peel, wet, burnt wood, at times. This is a bit weak, really -- in terms of ABV, I mean. Mouth: milky, watery, with hints of pepper and touches of other things, yet nothing is very distinct. Finish: again, it is OK, but indistinct and watery. 6/10

EG asks for a replacement cork, as the original from the 1970s is in tatters. He gets one of the high-tech ones JS brought back from a recent trip.

MS presents: Skunk Anansie - Hedonism

Hedonism (43%, CB, B#MMXV-A, b.10/03/2015) (MS): nose: delicate bakery scents. Mouth: unfortunately, this feels watery to me as well. I fear it is one of those days. Finish: this is where it reveals itself -- full-on bakery, half-baked dough, custard and goodness. 7/10

Nibbles are served: ham, bleu d'Auvergne dry sausage and Christmas sausage, as well as crackers. I realise I am a lot hungrier than I thought.

The Ring of the Nibble-ungen

A bit too keen, PS breaks the cork of the next bottle.

PS presents: The Undertones - Teaninich Kicks

59.24 10yo 1993/2004 (61.5%, SMWS Society Cask) (PS): if you cannot see the connection, just know that 59 is the SMWS code for Teaninich. Nose: flint and limescale, lemon; this is pretty austere! With water, it becomes very quiet, then opens up to reveal animal scents. A Clynelish cask that got mixed up? Mouth: powerful! Violent! Pepper heat! Water does not muzzle the strength completely, yet helps lemon emerge, as well as limescale and moss. Finish: it really hits hard, an austere malt, with more lemon and flint. Hot and unsexy. Interesting, though. Water renders it really difficult, extremely lemon-y with a drop of wax. 6/10

MS is in a rush and decides to change the running order, which is fine. He drew a blank on this one, yet brought it to share it. I venture Captain Hollywood Project - Bowmore and Bowmore and Bowmore, only to realise it cannot be anything other than...

MS presents: David Bowiemore - I'm Deranged

Bowmore 12yo 2003/2015 (58.1%, Cadenhead Wine Cask, Burgundy Wood, 270b) (MS):
précisément la semaine où David Bowie est mort. Ha! Nose: meat, cured meat, to be accurate, old bandages, this is lovely! Mouth: wine-y, with very faint notes of barbecue and barbecue sauce. Finish: a mix of peat, wine character and dark fruit. This should never work, but it does. I am glad I convinced MS to buy a bottle. :-) 8/10

PS observes about the next bottle that, 'EG did me well, there.'
Too much information, mate.

Sealed with a kiss
Mind you, I tell EG that, 'after two weeks without a dram, I am so high I could kiss your beard.' EG answers, 'I would charge you for it.'

JS presents: Cindy Lauper - Girls Just Bunnahabhain

Bunnahabhain 27yo 1978/2006 (55.6%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, Sherry butt, C#2542, 509b) (JS): nose: leather, wax, elderberry and new rubber -- eraser, says JS. Burnt wood too, perhaps. Mouth: elderberry liqueur, blackcurrant, some spices (black cumin in particular). Finish: sharp and herbaceous. Others get bacon from this, I call their bullshit. Charred meat on a hot griddle, though, I will agree. I think I prefer Psycho's 1976 by MMcD, yet this is more than alright! 8/10

PS presents: Audrey Hepburn & Andy Williams - Moon River

With a plunger
and everything
North British (46%, Moon Import The 10th Anniversary of Moon Import, exclusive for Pasticceria Tambone, d.1964, 300b) (PS): this is certainly not something one comes across every day! EG, in true Truffle Pig style, salvaged it from the red-hot remains of a burnt-down trattoria in Castellabate, back when the Romans still dominated the whole Mare Nostrum. Either that, or he found it in a regular shop in Italy, who knows? In any case, PS had to change underwear when he was given the opportunity to buy it. Considering the current apparent state of his underwear, it is difficult to gauge whether he ever did. Nose: nail-polish remover, acetone (PS who seems to know a thing or two about inhaling dangerous substances), corn-flake dust (PS goes on to explain his sister grinds cereals to a powder to eat them) and faint white spirit. Mouth: fresh and teeming with bakery and nail-varnish remover. Finish: more nail-varnish remover and a note of fruit turnover. To say it is not extremely complex would be an understatement; it is a bit of a one-trick pony, innit. Good, though. And what luck to get to try this at all! 7/10

I present: Shaggy - Oh Caol Ila

Caol Ila 32yo 1975/2007 (58.4%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, Hogshead, C#458, 221b) (me): nose: gouache paint, dry earth, leather belts. This is so deep, farm-y, with notes of very dry prunes. Mouth: peppery, with nutmeg, white pepper, dry earth again, and leather. Finish: dry as sand, with cured meat, dried cork and more dry earth. I am well pissed, by now, yet this is bold enough to be truly enjoyable and discernible. 9/10

EG blends the Strathisla, North British, 59.24 and Bowmore: nose: rich, with coconut, a pasty, sprinkled with coconut shavings. Mouth: hot and meaty. Finish: a bit weak, here, with overcooked pork skewers, mulled wine. The weak sides of the Bowmore and the Strathisla sort of ruin the rest. Interesting experiment, still. 6/10

MS unfortunately has to leave. Given the date, I insist on pouring something else. Not in theme. Shock horror.

Laphroaig 40yo 1960/2001 (42.4%, OB, 3300b) (me): I bought this 12 years ago, give or take one day. It is a sort of yearly memorial. Nose: plenty of fruit (PS), including pear, mango, peach, melon and lemon. There is a bit of earth too, but fuck! The depth of this!! Mouth: although it is a mere 42.4%, it feels so full, big and assertive, loaded with notes of melon, pomegranate, grapefruit, a dream of smoke, some rubber, plastic sheathes -- oochie mama! Finish: the smoke finally takes over, with a bucket of coal dust next to a basket of fruit (melon again, grapefruit) and rubber boots (which I do not recall ever detecting in this one). The king of drams. Not blindingly fruity, not blindingly peaty, not blindingly anything, really -- yet blindingly good. I feel so privileged to have had a chance to procure one of these, and even more to be able to share it with people who can appreciate it. 10/10

EG slowly drifts away, while PS stays for another bit -- he needs to finish his 59.24, since the cork is broken. Excellent tasting, as per usual. Roll on the next one!

PS in his current favourite t-shirt

9 January 2016

03/01/2016 TriOrd at Dornoch Castle Hotel

A few before departure. Only a few, as the excesses of the previous days are starting to take their toll.

Glen Ord 16yo 1998/2014 (%, Dornoch Castle, 60b): nose: white wine, plum eau-de-vie, vinegar. The eau-de-vie calms down to produce a little coal dust, then more appealing fruit. I am not a fan of fruit eau-de-vie, you see. Mouth: mellow and sweet, with ripe conference pears. Pleasant. Finish: pear action again, with added milk chocolate and a slight acidity. This is not bad at all. 7/10

Glen Ord 12yo (70° PROOF, OB, b.1970s): nose: a lot dustier, with hay dust, straw dust, crushed pine cones. It smells a bit of sheepfold, to be honest. Direct-fired stills, no doubt. Mouth: plum liqueur, this time, with a few herbs added in for good measure (hawthorn, lemon thyme). Finish: lingers on with herbal plum liqueur and the sweetness of pear. Strange how this is both dusty and sweet at the same time. 8/10

Glen Ord 5yo (43G.L., OB, b.1970s): nose: plum eau-de-vie, coal dust. It later turns to plum stones, old staves and old corks. Mouth: sugary and easy, with crushed pears, pear compote (yes, that is roughy the same), a hint of cinnamon, maybe even a minute amount of star aniseed. Finish: yes, star aniseed it is, in pear compote with an added bitterness. Lovely. 8/10

Funny to see the lineage so clearly: pears and plums in all of them.

JS has a Glenallachie 38yo TWA on top. I cannot take any more.

Time to say good bye and go.

JS being silly