31 May 2016

28/05/2016 A few birthday drams on the terrace

The weather has been rather uncooperative, so far, with no more than a handful of uncontiguous days of sunshine. This morning was on the humid side and not very warm. In the worst case, we will stay indoors, eh?

MS, OB, EG, MR and I are gathered to celebrate JS's birthday. It was kept quiet, but MR connected the dots and spills the beans.
TR has guests and cannot make himself available, while JH calls off, due to a hangover.

MS is cheating
MS has not had breakfast or lunch, therefore he jumps on the nibbles -- cured beef slices, sausage, camembert-like English cheese and crackers. Later on, EG offers flat bread, olives, lupin beans, houmous, falafels and more, while MR provides more delikatessen and cheeses, including a great pistachio-ed parmesan. OB Brings a home-made raspberry tart. Decadence.

We try all the whiskies blind -- for kicks. Everyone has a go at finding out what it is, with EG making a show out of it. And failing rather miserably at almost every attempt.

Benriach 1976/1991 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice, IA/ACB) (offered by me): as apéritifs go, this should be as good as any. Nose: very faded leather, orange rinds and candle wax. Mouth: sweet and rich, caramel-y, full of bakery flavours -- plum tart, icing sugar and crushed strawberry. Finish: caramel again, milk chocolate and... incense. I was disappointed with this a couple of years ago. It is a good enough dram, though it is nowhere near what its pedigree would suggest. 7/10

Shifting gears.

Littlemill 39yo 1977/2016 (42.5%, Cadenhead Cask Ends, Bourbon Hogshead) (EG): nose: a clay-floor warehouse -- woah! Fruit follows course, as it usually does (raspberry), as well as a hint of mercurochrome. Mouth: hot raspberry coulis, crushed pink pepper, cherry pie -- rhaaaaa! Finish: more dunnage warehouse, resting casks with raspberry coulis on top. EG and MR detect menthol, while MS finds fennel. Over time, it delivers notes of steamed brocoli and kale, with perhaps a slight touch of verbena. Amazing. 9/10

We move to the terrace to enjoy the later-afternoon sun.

Glenfarclas 40yo b.2016 (40.2%, William Cadenhead) (OB): a tongue-in-cheek bottling from our friends at Cadenhead's, who decided to give in to Glenfarclas's requests to not disclose the distillery name on the label. They did not, this time. The name is still on the bottle itself, though. Shits and giggles. The introduction price for this one was outrageously low. Anyway, to business. Nose: bubblegum-y, with a mix of apple and plum flavours. Water helps bakery scents come through. Mouth: considerably hotter than the 40.2% would let one think. Spicy fruit tart. With water, it turns more earthy, yet it retains the lovely bakery style. Finish: spices dance in the mouth, now, alongside more of that fruity bubblegum goodness. Water does not suit it too well: it seems to morph into flat beer. Still acceptable, simply not as good as neat. Hands down the best Glenfarclas I have had. A high 8/10

Glen Grant 40yo 1972/2012 (51.6%, Maltbarn, Sherry Cask, 49b) (JS): nose: this is earthy as fook, with ploughed fields and a dash of orchard-fruit juice (mirabel plum). It then turns flinty, granite-y, even, very austere, with lichen and moss on stone. Mouth: ashes, rocks, earth and power! There is also a fruity thing going in the back. Water helps it unleash more fruit (squashed plums) and flint. Finish: ash again, smoke, the bitterness of plum stone. Water makes it slightly milder, perhaps with more fruit. It does not change it dramatically. Meow! 8/10


Glenglassaugh 40yo b.2013 (42.5%, OB) (JS): we have had this one a couple of times in the past, never from a fresh bottle. How will it be? Nose: coffee!?  Buttery pastries, with plenty of very timid fruit underneath. The coffee features quite heavily. Mouth: sweet, soft and smooth, with marzipan and a horseradish kick (or is it ginger?) Finish: long, soft and gentle, with more marzipan and bakery goodies. This is lovely, yet I was hoping for more. Let us leave it to rest for a bit... Thirty minutes later, nose: it has opened up nicely, with more and more tropical fruit and delicious custard. Mouth: soft, smooth and fruity, with acidic fruit and pillow-y apricot. The spicy touch comes through with a beautiful balance. Finish: lingering, with fruit-stuffed pastries (apricot turnover) and hot custard. This is not as fruity as I remembered it; I am convinced it is because it is a fresh bottle and oxidation will make it a deadly killer. Great stuff all the same. I initially gave it an 8; after 30 minutes, it has become a 9/10

Glenury Royal 40yo 1970/2011 (59.4.%, OB, American Oak Refill Casks, 1500b) (JS): not messing about, are we? Nose: earth, clay floor, warm saddles. JS finds it perfume-y. It is rich, teeming with scents of nut shells and dunnage warehouse before, ultimately, the trademark orange rinds emerge. Mouth: hot, powerful (how did it get to almost 60% after 40 years in casks anyway?), with ashes and lots of red pepper. Finish: this carries the punch of a Rare Malts Selection! Hot stone, tons of chilli and, finally, orange rinds. Wonderful, powerful, masterful. 9/10

35.59 39yo 1971/2011 Arabian nights (40.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 74b) (me): an old friend, this. Nose: fruit! Black grapes, dark olives (JS reckons green olives), papaya (EG), mango (MR), lime. The complexity of this nose is stunning. It also feels very different to the other times. Mouth: mild and balanced, it feels sweet, with a pinch of dried herbs (sage, thyme, mint). Beautifully made. Finish: slightly bitter, it becomes warm, complex, with damp cellars and mossy casks. Superb. EG recognises it. OB is delighted I convinced him to buy one just before it sold out. 9/10

The hit list:
MS: Glenury Royal
OB: Glenury Royal and Littlemill
MR: Glenglassaugh
JS: Glenury Royal and Glen Grant
EG: Glenury Royal
Yours, truly: Glenury Royal and Glenglassaugh

OB would not sit, so as to dominate all

Glenury a clear winner. Hard to imagine it did not tick all the boxes when I tried it in 2012. What a beast!

OB leaves. Off-tasting, we have:
EG: Glenugie 26yo 1982/2008 (50%, DL OMC 50, Bourbon Barrel, C#DL 4703, 310b)
JS and I: Springbank 16yo 1999/2016 Local Barley (54.3%, OB, 9000b)
MS: Laphroaig 10yo b.1987 (43%, OB, 87251) and Ardbeg Dark Cove (55%, OB Committee Release, Ex-Bourbon Casks & Dark Sherry Casks, b.2015)
MR: Bunnahabhain 42yo 1968/2011 (43.8%, Whisky-Fässle, Refill Sherry Cask)

MS was made to feel little

What a day. Happy birthday, JS. Roll on the next decades!

Deserving of the regal adjective

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