Four years ago, while I was trying to clarify why Dewar Rattray became A.D. Rattray, the staff invited me to visit the shop and tasting room in Kirkoswald. It took that long to get round to doing it (rushing is for gin drinkers), but now I am here, I will not settle for anything but the best and most desirable, because why aim for run-off-the-mill?
On the day, I call them to postpone the tasting: the journey gave JS a bad migraine. I am not operating at 100% myself either.
Once we finally reach the venue around 15:45, I admit that we still have not eaten. Fortunately, the hostess is understanding and goes as far as recommending a place down the road.
|Carrot and coriander soup|
|Chicken liver pâté|
|Half a Scotch egg|
We end up starting the tasting two-and-a-half hours after the booked slot. Just as well it is a quiet day and the staff is flexible...
When we finally sit down, the hostess cleverly asks us whether she needs to explain how whisky is made (answer: no). We can move on to the tasting and an open discussion, rather than a generic lesson.
Invergordon 43yo 1972/2016 (49.3%, A.D. Rattray for Whisky Experience): bottled exclusively for the shop, this is pretty exciting stuff for this grain lover. Nose: bakery and fruit, this has the nose of a blackcurrant turnover, as well as notes of toasted coconut. Typical Invergordon, in other words. Mouth: rich and velvety, it is coating and soft. Finish: the wood becomes slightly drying now, though it remains most pleasant. 8/10
Strathmill 23yo 1992/2015 (47.7%, A.D. Rattray Cask Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, C#668072, 280b): always thrilling to try a Strathmill, so rarely is it bottled. Nose: rose and plantain, says JS, whilst I think lemon custard develops more and more. Mouth: mellow and pillow-y, with the texture of chocolate fondant. Finish: refined, with a note of nail varnish or shellac that prevents it from scoring higher. It is still 8/10
Macallan 19yo 1995/2015 (49.1%, A.D. Rattray Cask Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, C#10454, 310b): on paper, this is probably the least interesting, for me. Seeing as I would probably never choose a Macallan myself, it is good that some pour it for me to try, from time to time. Nose: toasted wood, varnished wood, coconut shavings. Mouth: velvety and coating, it has caramel and gentle toffee. Subtle sherry influence (it is a Bourbon cask, tOMoH!), well balanced. Finish: lemon-y and sherbet-y. A decent Macallan, shall I say. 7/10
Fettercairn 26yo 1989/2015 (54.5%, A.D. Rattray Cask Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, C#001, 218b): yet another distillery one does not see every day. Nose: cereals and a strange medicinal aroma -- gelatine capsules, probably. It smells powerful. Mouth: fiery chilli, with hot, chilli-infused caramel. Finish: cuberdons (liquid-filled sweets), more chilli-infused caramel. Very good Fettercairn, this! 8/10
Glenturret 28yo 1986/2015 (50.1%, A.D. Rattray Cask Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, C#342, 191b): if there is one distillery that everyone used to neglect, it is this one. For the last four years, everyone has been proven wrong, of course, with high-quality bottlings that became the talk of the town. This is not one of the desirable 1977, though; what will it give? Nose: flowery, with buttercups and bubblegum. Mouth: silky, with a hefty dose of spices and fruit. Finish: long, flinty and lemon-y. in fact, it turns pretty austere in the finish. Yes, yes, great things from this distillery, after all! 8/10
Bruichladdich 22yo 1992/2015 (50.2%, A.D. Rattray Cask Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, C#3801, 258b): the hostess could not decide whether to swap one of the above drams for this one or not, so although not in the lineup, we get to try it anyway. Nose: coastal and fruity, it has sea air and citrus. Mouth: not sure how to put this. It is soft with what feels like the grip of sandpaper. Interesting! Finish: salty, coastal and, again, fruity. Unripe fruit, this time. 7/10
For my sins, I am driving. It means I cannot do much more than ingest a drop of each, hence the short notes. It is not an unknown situation here, though, and I end up taking away samples containing the lovely drams for a rainy day. Yay!
|Unexpected link with Scottish techno label Soma|
Lovely tasting, lovely place. A visit is recommended. The inn down the road too -- we go back for supper before taking the road.
|Chunky fish soup|