31 May 2016

30/05/2016 PS's birthday bash at the SMWS

Private events at the SMWS cannot go wrong. Really, they cannot. Especially if PS is there. And he always is.

Three years ago, JS and I were kindly invited to PS's 10th membership anniversary. I learnt then that he is an unreasonable person. Very unreasonable.
Today is not a membership anniversary, though, it is a milestone birthday. Surely, unreasonable things will not happen. Not today, they won't. Oh! no.

PS had a pre-birthday bash on Saturday, hence why he did not attend the other birthday bash. The official do is today.

JS and I make it there shortly before 14:00, which is the official start time. We are introduced to a lot of people we already know (well done, PS!) and are handed a dram. No time to waste.

26.117 14yo d.2001 (56.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Sauternes Hogshead, 282b): nose: this one seems strong in alcohol. Unripe green fruit comes through (gooseberry) and eau-de-vie (grappa, to be accurate). Mouth: waxy fruit (apricot) and tincture of iodine. Finish: warm tincture of odine, merbromin, then faint waxy fruit again. 7/10

We are ushered to the private room where the fun really begins. We choose a table for three that we will share with MG. Nibbles are on display.
PS gives a few words for each dram, nothing over the top. I reckon he should let us drink blind, rather than disclose the distillery at once, but hey! It is his tasting, after all.

25.37 15yo 1990/2006 Lemon meringue pie (59.5, SMWS Society Cask): we already started with a 25 three years ago. A tough act to follow it was too. Nose: hawthorn, dried heather, dried lavender. It is a flowery one, though dried flowers. With water, lemon comes out, dried lemon-y mint, dried lemon thyme. Mouth: sitting around a tame camp fire of dried heather, holding a cup of lemon tea. It is warming on the chest. Water does not alter it. Finish: long and lingering, with lime pieces near the fireplace. It is warm and comforting, almost like a prosecco, says MG. Water, again, does not change it. 8/10

G7.8 30yo d.1984 Sweet seduction in a car-wash (59.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 264b): nose: baking pretzels, nail varnish, glue (JS), custard. It is pretty strong in alcohol again -- oh! almost 60%... Very fresh, with a newly-bought leather coat and cotton candy. Mouth: the softness of velvet -- this is 60%!? It has faded leather and warm caramel cream. Finish: lovely varnish, custard, caramel-coated leather, caramel tea. This is good! It reminds me of Crosstown's chocolate, caramel and banana cream doughnut. Meow. Water does not alter it at all. If anything, it makes it a little more bitter in the finish. 9/10

117.3 25yo 1988/2013 Hubba-bubba, mango and Monstera (58.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, First Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 199b): this needs no introduction. I joke that every time I corner a newcomer into trying it, I can see the ecstasy cover their faces and their trousers turning wet. PS replies that, "this has never wet my trousers. It goes so high it usually wets my t-shirt!" The classy touch. Nose: mango juice, innit. Mouth: pure fruit. Finish: I will not even bother. This is purely orgasmic. Not worth spending much more time on the description. It is legendary and everybody in the audience knows it. 10/10

Enter food: cheeses, dried fruits, delikatessen, sushi and fried Asian bites. And sauces. A hot sauce, a very hot sauce and a "medium hot" wasabi. DW, whose wife prepared the sauces and the bites, warns everyone. Of course, I have to show off and try the wasabi as if it were perfectly normal. The first bite being inoffensive, I take a big dip for my second sushi. And attract all the attention as I choke, cough, gasp and cry like a kitten. Serves me well.

9.93 17yo d.1997 Interplay of light and shade (55.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 295b): nose: barley sugar and vociferous alcohol (white spirit?) JS finds spearmint, while MG detects lychee. I find it spirit-y. Behind the spirit, lovely flowers flap in the wind. Rose water and orange peels. Mouth: it seems balanced, with apple pulp and ground pepper. Finish: warm apricot compote with a generous dash of ground black pepper. I am miffed PS did not tell me about this one. It would have been interesting to drink it alongside 99.3. 7/10

61.22 26yo 1978/2004 Intimacy with angels (57.2%, SMWS Society Cask, Refill Hogshead, 273b): this feels like a repeat of three years ago, when we had another 61. Nose: waxy and farm-y. This is lovely as a pig wearing elegant make-up and delicate perfume. Gentle smoke (MG), wax and perfume, orange peels. Mouth: hot candle wax, white wine vinegar, more farmyard goodness, then it bursts into an ashy fruit crumble. Phwoar! Finish: long, warming, ashy. A shovelful of dirt from a day's ploughing. It even has a coastal aspect to it: hot sand, oysters and the seashore. Every time I have a Brora, I feel the same: I want to hate it, because of the hype and the prices, but I invariably like it. Argh. Dram of the day, if we except 117.3 (and we should). 9/10

There is a bit of a scene when PS passes the bottle around for everyone to top up and some pour more than politeness would dictate. GK then asks PS to pour for him, to which PS refuses: GK must do it himself. Hmm.

Gifts enter the room. Well, it is a birthday party, is it not? Quite natural that gifts should be given... except PS is providing the gifts, here: every attendee receives a pack of six samples. I am floored again and ashamed. The samples are from extremely high quality bottles too. PS can be such a gentleman.

93.22 14yo 1992/2006 Heavenly harbour (61.1%, SMWS Society Cask): nose: a smokey farmyard, cured ham, diesel engines. The alcohol is pretty powerful, yet it gives way to leather saddles and a flowery touch (dandelion). Bandages are the last thing to emerge. Mouth: roasted sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, soy sauce, wasabi and paint tins. Finish: earth, wet soil, a sweating horse, saddles, liquorice. This is nice, without being out of this world. 7/10

As the tasting reaches a conclusion, R steps up and produces another bottle. Not just anything.

87.4 15yo 1983/1999 (57.3%, SMWS Society Cask): several people have never had a Millburn before, and at least one has never even heard the name ("is it like Melbourne?") Nose: pistachios (MG), putty and lemongrass (JS). I get ground pistachios and strong brandy, marzipan and granola in milk. Mouth: unexpectedly velvety, soft and nice, akin to a swim on a long-haired carpet. Green chilli shows up later on. Finish: very dark chocolate, wood spices, but mostly that chocolate with a few drops of fruit juice. This is good. Not as austere or chiselled as other Millburns, yet very good all the same. 8/10 (thanks R)

A trip to the loo and I get stuck downstairs, sipping more things with a couple of people on the move.
127.44 12yo d.2003 Cantina Mexicana (65.9%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Oloroso Sherry Butt, 588b)
Lagavulin 1991/2015 (59.9%, OB Feis Ile 2015, American Oak, Pedro Ximénez & Oak Puncheons, 3500b)
Invergordon 7yo (Bladnoch Forum)

The whole gang appears downstairs. After having a Crosstown banana, caramel and chocolate doughnut pumped up with the latest 10, I eventually finish my dram of 117.3, which is still the best. Time to get some sleep: tomorrow is a school day.

Amazing day again. Good to catch up with people I have not seen in a while and good to meet others. The generosity on display was ridiculous throughout the afternoon. Happy birthday, PS!

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