7 January 2016

01/01/2016 NYD drams at Dornoch Castle Hotel

Another day another hike, another few drams. NYE took its toll: both punters and staff look worse for wear and one can tell there has been much drinking and eating going on, not much sleeping. We are greeted with a couple of surprises the staff wants us to analyse.

Mystery Dram #1 (unknown ABV, unknown bottler): nose: herbs, mostly -- thyme, lemon thyme, oregano, tarragon, chives. Mouth: sweet, sugary, with caramelised onions and a drop of jerez vinegar. Finish: more herbs and caramel -- this is definitely full of grain. Caramelised, softened onions, tarragon, thyme and a mildly metallic note. I reckon this is a grain or even a rum. We will never have confirmation, as the samples got mixed up and they cannot remember what it is. Likely a blended whisky. 8/10

Mystery Dram #2 -- Berry's Blend (unknown ABV, Berry Brothers & Co., b. ca 1900): the observing reader will notice this one is from before Berry Bros became Berry Bros & Rudd. Nose: brine, thin smoke and chicken-liver pâté. Diluted Marmite, after a while. Mouth: watery, sweet and gently smokey. Finish: lots of smoke, now. Less impressive, this. The balance does not do it for me. 6/10

Supper today is a buffet. Various salads for starter (couscous, pasta, green leaf, potato), smoked salmon, that sort of things. I carefully do not stock up too much, which is pretty wise. The main course is a choice of roast beef, baked salmon and roasted ham with choice of vegetables and the best gratin dauphinois I have ever tasted. Do I eat too much? Do I fuck! I have an excuse, though: the ham comes with an apricot sauce they nickname the Bowmore sauce. How am I supposed to resist that, really?
JS tops it off with a cranachan, while I manage to resist temptation. Well, I am not tempted at all, simply, it is included.

After the meal, a band plays folk music in the bar, which is very pleasant and gets the crowd clapping and cheering. We camp at the bar.

Dailuaine 14yo d.1971 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice): nose: wet stones and yellow fruit (peach, plum), tree bark and a damp bothy. It opens up to become much fruitier with time. Mouth: mellow and approachable, with notes of tender, white wood, dandelion juice and chai. Finish: the wood takes over, with ginger, paprika, milk chocolate and a pinch of dried herbs (sage?) 7/10

Probably salvaged from the wreck
of a sunk battleship, by the look of it!
Convalmore 16yo 1962/1979 (80° PROOF/45.7GL, Cadenhead): we have an interesting discussion on why Gay-Lussac did not take off in the UK to measure the alcohol content. Nose: lime and limestone, this is mineral and bloody austere. I love it. Chalk, dust in the wind. I love it. New rubber comes out (the insulation on a new car door), then, thirty minutes later, capers in brine. Mouth: rounder than expected, though it comes with its share of lemon juice, still. Custard, some tingling pepper, to a point it almost sparkles. I love it. Yes, lime on limescale. It is effervescent. Finish: carries on as it started, with the austerity of limescale and the acidity of lemon juice. I love it. Won-der-ful. Did I mention I love it? 9/10

22.2 15yo 1975/1990 (58.9%, SMWS Society Cask): nose: overbaked lemon curd, very pronounced. Stewed, yellow fruit, caramelised compote, then... smoke!? Water makes it more subdued, though it also helps coal come out. Mouth: warm, yet gentle, behind the alcohol. Sweet and sugary, cast sugar. It is quite peppery too. With water, it is still bold and powerful, this time with more custard. Finish: apricot compote with added sugar. Water does not make it lose its power at all and brings out pear cake. This is really beautiful! My first independent Glenkinchie, I believe. 8/10

I am about to tease the boys regarding the lack of representation of a certain Invernesian distillery, when one of them pulls the following out of nowhere.

Glen Albyn 21yo d.1963 (40%, GMP Pinerolo Import): nose: caramel and rhubarb tart, walnut shells, dark syrup -- this covers quite a lot of the flavour spectrum. Mouth: more straightforward, with elderberry and wonderful jam. Finish: hot jam, compote, a bit of wood, all superbly integrated. Marvellous! 9/10

We discuss how the tastings the staff attends usually end up with everyone trying to one-up one another. JS notes that our regular tastings are the same. I reckon it is the male psyche that dictates that -- always try to be the leader of the pack, despite claiming it is not about that. JS translates it thus: "it's not a competition, as long as you are winning." Truer words were rarely spoken...

The lesser-spotted painted bunting was interested in my glass.
Probably got lost on its way to Florida.

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