Less preparation went into this edition: I had a brief look at the list of dream drams and an even briefer look at the list of regular drams. I spotted about a dozen things I want to try, most of which are dream drams. Not sure how this will end up. Expensive, probably.
The short bus ride brings JS and me to the place just on time, as doors open. We queue up for twenty-or-so minutes, which is a huge improvement, compared to the editions at Vinopolis. Once inside, I have no clue where to go. I really plan to take it easy and try some whiskies. Last year made it clear that a plan here is like everywhere else: it goes out of the window as soon as reality comes through the door. For the record, the published list of drams was inaccurate, the dream-dram lists were shambolic and the disorientation caused by the new venue (Old Billingsgate, remember) was a bit of an obstacle to efficient navigation. None of that today, I will simply follow the flow.
First stop: Signatory Vintage, where the pouring man (D) recognises us. Good start. :-)
Of course, notes will be short and unimaginative. This is a whisky festival.
Glenlossie 23yo 1992/2016 (56.3%, SV Cask Strength Collection, Hogshead, C#3452, 253b): nose: faint butterscotch. Rather shy nose, this. Mouth: salty and orange-y, nice. Finish: sweetness comes through, orange slices and caramel. Good, though the nose seems too shy. 7/10
Our second stop is TWE's exclusive Show bottlings, where we meet BA (still crippled) and EG (still... himself).
Springbank 21yo (54.1%, TWE Whisky Show 2016, 120b): nose: gentle smoke, iodine. This is coastal indeed. Mouth: soft and sweet, with fine sand. Finish: balanced, coastal, with more sand and brine. Lovely piece, this. 8/10
In order to beat the Saturday madness at the canteen, we go for lunch. DW spots us in the queue -- we met him at Cadenhead's, earlier this week. We exchange tips, although, so early on, there is little to exchange. MS arrives and joins us for lunch. He sports a cowboy hat which will make people talk through the day.
The food (cullen skink, veggies and potatoes for me, butternut squash and the same accompaniments for JS) is delicious and warm, this year, and the service is efficient, if stiff and humourless (I have to explain my jokes. Three times.) There is never a queue and it is easy finding a table. Dessert (sticky toffee pudding for me, walnut sponge for JS) is also nice.
Off to Tomatin.
Tomatin 44yo 1971/2016 (45.8%, OB Warehouse 6 Collection, Spanish ex-Oloroso Sherry Cask, 252b): JS was annoyed that this came out and she did not have a chance to try it. Time to right this wrong. Nose: tomato cannelloni, says EG -- and he is spot on. Mouth: mildly astringent, woody... and not much else. Finish: wood bitterness and a dollop of vanilla custard. Meh. Without being undrinkable, this is a huge flop, in my opinion. 6/10
|The roof is much nicer than the Tomatin|
Back to TWE where OB joins us.
Bunnahabhain 28yo 1989/2016 (46.8%, SD The Single Malts of Scotland, Hogshead, C#100229, 344b): nose: quiet, almost silent, before leather belts show up, earth. Mouth: fruity and dry, acidic, with white wine. Finish: very zesty now, with the subtlest veil of smoke. 8/10
Benrinnes 20yo (50%, TWE Time Edition, Time II, 280b): nose: dill, lychee, grass. Mouth: sharp and fruity, with white wine too. Finish: more of the same wonderful fruitiness and a certain sharpness. 8/10
OB tries the Bowmore Bicentenary, which I smell. Zomg. As good as the first time.
Tamnavulin 40yo (40.6%, SD The Single Malts of Scotland Director's Special): an unusual sight, this distillery. I usually love its girly character. Nose: honey, dill, all sorts of fruit, banana. Mouth: gentle, soft and banana-y. Finish: girly to the max, soft, sweet and honey-like. Wonderful drop. 9/10
BBR is our next stop. I am sad to see that RW is not there. He will not be there tomorrow either.
Auchroisk 23yo 1990/2014 (46%, BBR Selected by Berrys', C#21752): nose: leathery, initially, then vegetal, then muddy. Mouth: thin, with a bit of honey (the taste, not the texture). Nice palate, actually. It grows bolder. Finish: sugared water, melon. 7/10
The Glenrothes 1992/2014 (44.3%, OB): nose candied orange and butter scones. Mouth: fresh and syrupy, with orange juice in the mix. Finish: bitter oranges, sugary syrup. Nice. That is a compliment for a Glenrothes. 7/10
We grab a table to sit down and enjoy the drams. We meet a bloke who is already so tipsy he cannot hear our answers to his questions. When we leave the table, he falls off his chair. I am not saying that figuratively. It is 14:30.
Glenlossie 21yo 1992/2014 (46%, BBR Selected by Berrys', C#3472): I cannot help but notice everything BBR brought is 46% from 2014. Nose: flowery and floury. Mouth: soft and velvety, though it is also slightly acidic. Finish: too green, here. It has custard and honey or cream, yet also the bitterness of plant sap. 6/10
Off to Diageo... "or Diego, as some call it." Colin Dunn is in full spectacle mode, cracking his usual jokes. MS laughs out loud at the, "it has more bite than Luis Suarez" comment -- quite rightly. The audience is mesmerised. The top drams were tipped off by GL and PS earlier, so we are patiently waiting for an opportunity to go for the kill.
Cambus 40yo b.2016 (52.7%, OB, 1812b): if you read this blog frequently, you probably know I have a love/hate relationship with Cambus. It is a grain whisky. It is from a closed distillery. It is fruity. I should love it. It also strips my tongue to a point I usually still taste it 24 hours later. I do not like that. How will this expression fare? Nose: meow. Fruity and laden with pastry. Almond oil, says MS, who also admits this burns his tongue. Tropical fruit are there too, as well as a hint of coffee. Mouth: milk chocolate, fruit nectar -- lots of fruit! Finish: an explosion of tropical fruit, apricot turnover and general goodness. I love this. Probably even better than last year's Caledonian. 9/10
Linkwood 37yo 1978/2016 (50.3%, OB, 6114b): nose: camembert rind. Mouth: explosive and spicy, this is fighting spirit. Finish: more spices, green chilli and beef rendang. 8/10
Brora 38yo b.2016 (48.6%, OB, 2984b): we wait a long while to try this. When it is finally our turn, there is hardly any left. JS gets half of that and is quite miffed. A guy shows up later and gets the rest, more than JS, for free. We complain, to no avail. Nose: smoke and farmyard scents. Mouth: burnt wood, ploughed fields, scorched earth, tractor oil. Finish: big, smokey, with tractor diesel and old shovels. In the end, candied orange appears. MS thinks it is one-dimensional, while JS is disappointed it is not as fruity as last year's 37yo. They are both correct, yet, for a country boy like myself, this is a return to the roots. I like it a lot. 9/10
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