8 January 2016

02/01/2016 Post-NYD drams at Dornoch Castle Hotel

Brora 1978/2013 (46%, GMP Rare Old, RO/13/05): nose: beautiful mix of wax and cigar ash, coal and soot. It smells of fruit, probably nectarines, tangerines and plums, though the coal dust prevents it from ever becoming really fruity. The waxy side becomes more prominent, with seal wax and car polish, then even a touch of gingerbread or speculoos spices. Mouth: a green note at first, then candlewax comes to the surface, with a slight acidity -- let us call it unripe-plum juice. It feels old and dignified, as if entering the lair of a sigillographist. It also has dust and coal stoves, while remaining velvety as it should. Finish: again, perfect combination of coal dust and waxy fruit (apricots, plums), dusty books and hot toddy -- warm honey, spicy syrup and so on. Superb. 9/10

Balblair 15yo d.1964 (70° PROOF, GMP Connoisseurs Choice): I noticed this one last night, as a young man ordered it, and decided I could not sleep on a CC black label (the first livery for that collection). Nose: lemon drops, cough drops, hints of mint sweets too, curd; the whole seems to fade away quickly, but it is magnificent while it lasts. It comes back after a while too. I suppose a lid on the glass would be welcome, here. Buttery, with squashed quince and... dill? Dried dill, yes. Mouth: mellow, delicate, almost buttery (as in: melted butter). It is floral and gentle, yet also assertive, proving one can be assertive without being bold or arrogant. In fact, it is quite sure of what it is and what it can do, simply, it is not loud. Finish: an explosion of buttery fruit (avocado, jackfruit), vanilla, coconut cream and a tiny hint of bitterness. Is this good, or what? 9/10

Mystery Balblair (unknown ABV, unknown bottler): the labels of this one have gone AWOL. Nose: this is discreet alright. Some Port, merbromin, as well as a very small whiff of seaspray and wax in the back. Mouth: nail polish, strawberry coulis. Finish: drying wood, nail varnish again, and berries. A decent dram, less impressive than the previous. 7/10

Teaninich 15yo d.1971 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice): nose: surprisingly musky and animal. Fox skin, bear skin, even, leather saddle. It calms down to reveal forsythia, decaying oranges, resin and leather boots, recently polished. Mouth: watery, with orange juice and remnants of that animal character (old cat, this time, though this ain't no Clynelish). The texture becomes rather creamy over time. Finish: animal, tree bark, milk chocolate and mild blood orange. Burnt wood, dunk in water. I would be surprised if this was not a sherry cask (or several). 6/10

Linkwood 30yo 1974/2005 (54.9%, OB Rare Malts Selection, L5195CM000 02550991, 6000b): a bottle for the Belgian market, surprisingly. Not sure how it ended here. Nose: warm wax. It feels rather closed, unsurprisingly. The RMS ones usually need time and/or water to open up. Dunnage warehouses come up, complete with lichen and clay floors. Oranges soon emerge. With water, it stays powerful, yet becomes more noble, if that makes sense. Citrus-y and fruity, with nail varnish. Mouth: candlewax, waxy citrus peel, perhaps even melon skins (cantaloupe). Black pepper grows in intensity, as expected (RMS, innit), mandarin slices. With water, it retains a remarkable balance, between mineral and citrus-y notes. Finish: gravel, black pepper, granite, waxy citrus skins. Water makes the orange grow bolder, while the granite is taken down a notch. Beautiful. Same calibre as the great 26yo RMS. 9/10

Time for a shower, then more drams.

87.8 21yo 1983/2005 Wakens the taste buds (53.7%, SMWS Society Cask): nose: granite and lime, with a dash of blood orange and raw cereal. This is austere. It grows bigger too, with open fireplaces -- even smoke shows up, eventually. Oxidation seems to make it more aproachable, while water makes it more perfume-y. Mouth: bold and austere, with more lime, flint and character. Water brings up an off-note of metal and rubber, which I am note keen on. Finish: orange chocolate, now, lime biscuits. Water makes it very metallic. Perhaps not extremely complex, yet it is always such a pleasure to try a Millburn. There are touches of the 25yo RMS in this one. Careful with water, though. 8/10

6.12 12yo 1979/1991 (55.7%, SMWS Society Cask): nose: powerful, almost stripping, with lime on limestone and some kind of herb liqueur. Warm cat fur -- a cat resting in the sun. Quince jelly, after an hour. With water, it dramatically changes to smell of mature cheese rind and leather. Mouth: slightly milky and lemon-y, it is powerful, though not overpowering, warm and comforting. Water makes it taste of newly-applied carpet. Finish: lots of lime and a bit of milk chocolate, as well as lemon marmalade. 7/10

Last supper of the stay. JS has salmon gravadlax and venison steak (the last one, which they kept especially for us), while I go for leek and potato soup, then slow-cooked pork belly. We both skip dessert, today. We need to keep our spirit up for the dessert drams.

Longmorn 1972/2006 (45%, GMP, C#1088): nose: the sherry is huge, yet elegant -- nutty, with polished dashboards and expensive leather belts. Underneath that sits a pond of fruit juice. Mild coffee, molasses, rubber, cola and maraschino cherries. Mouth: this is simply fruity cola. What I imagine Cherry Coke tastes like. Dark syrup, more maraschino cherries and Dr. Pepper. Very nice. Finish: what a harmonious balance. It oscillates between cola and fruit in such a classy way! I find this not too dissimilar to the fourth Black Bowmore (on a different level, perhaps). With water, the rubber goes down, leaving unadulterated pleasure. 9/10

Port Ellen 1983/1997 (50%, Moon Import Dovr-Toutes-Mares, C#570073, 820b): ram-pam-bum! Nose: nail varnish, fishing nets, engine oil, warm engine, i.e. hot metal (and methedrine, for the goths). This smells like the engine of a vintage car, after it has ridden 500 km. Old lawnmowers, grilled whelk. Meow. This is rather complex too. It becomes extremely salty, with smokey mussels. Mouth: honey and marzipan, squishy bakery -- ooft! This is as good as it is unexpected. The horsepower is there, yet the engine scents have just about disappeared to make way for fruit and tons of sugar. Finish: long, neverending, in fact, with notes of diesel and rubber, smoke (of course), yet also candied ginger, hot pastry and muscovado sugar. This might well be the best Port Ellen I have had... and although I did not take notes, I tried the 12yo for the Queen's visit yesterday! :-) 9/10

Time to call it a day. We have drunk the bar dry or thereabout.

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