5 October 2016

01/10/2016 The Whisky Show 2016 (Day 1 -- Part 2)

The story starts here.

With the Diego Special Releases down, we proceed to the Loch Lomond stand.

Inchmurrin 12yo (46%, OB Island Collection, 1552F, b.2016): this was one of the highlights of the dram of the show, last year, much to my surprise. Nose: toffee and gentle boiled fruit. Nice, though it does not seem to have the same quality as in my memory. Mouth: toffee again, not overpowering. It is balanced and chewy. Finish: tropical fruits now reign, with chocolate coulis on top. I reckon last year's batch was better (it was also more of a surprise), but this one is great anyway. 8/10

JS joins MS and me again. She bumped into DW on his way back from the Lagavulin 200th Anniversary masterclass. He kindly grabbed the following for us, which we appreciate immensely.

Lagavulin 12yo (43%, OB, b.1980s): nose: fantastic farmyard scents and sea spray. Mouth: earthy, ashy, farm-y, yet also fruity. Very impressive. Finish: never-ending, with more ploughed fields, sea spray and smoke. Everything is calibrated in perfect harmony. Notes do not do it justice. This is gawjus. 9/10 (Thanks DW for the dram)

Inchmurrin 18yo (46%, OB Island Collection, 15721F, b.2016): nose: meat, caramel cream, even rubber and smoke. All gentle, yet I reckon sherry casks. The staff tell me wrong, however: all Bourbon. Mouth: soft, it rolls on the tongue. It is spicy, oily and round, despite the spices. Finish: a big bang of chocolate, long and lovely. 8/10

I talk to the man pouring. I am excited that Loch Lomond is producing such amazing whiskies, these days, and so is he. I ask him about Croftengea and Rhosdhu -- he says they still make them for blending, not to bottle as single. He tells me some Rhosdhu have been less impressive (my words, not his). You wait a minute, boy! Tomorrow is another day. ;-)
They have a binder on the stall, with drawings of the different stills at Loch Lomond and how they are used. MS is fascinated -- rightly so.

Seeyun mah horse, peelgrum?

OB has now left us to meet his mate L, who attends his first show. We bump into them several times later on.

MS and I move on to Malts of Distinction: he wants to try some Hibiki. Once there, he changes his mind and goes for...

The Yamazaki Mizunara (48%, OB, Japanese Oak Cask, b.2013): nose: lots of peach (with the stone) in this. The sharpness of white wood makes my temples tremble. Mouth: wow, so soft and elegant, gentle and well-mannered (who said: "So Japanese?") It still has a soft spiciness of very mild wasabi. Finish: buttery nutmeg (MS), ripe peach, and a gentle bitterness, butternut jam. This is wonderful. 9/10

Next stop: Scapa. The lady there gives us the commercial introduction, which I do my best to not ignore too ostensibly. I had the Skiren last year and was not impressed. I dip my lips in MS's glass and find it better, this time. I go for...

Scapa Glansa (40%, OB, B#GL01, 2SCF9000, b. 2016): the "peaty" version of Scapa. It is made following the regular (i.e. peat-free) process, but is matured in casks that have previously held peaty whisky. Nose: hay and burning grass. Mouth: it feels watery, at this point, weak. It still gives out notes of delicious marzipan and, once I am accustomed to the low ABV (back from several cask strength, you see), I start liking it. Finish: frangipane, marzipan. Lovely finish. The peat grows a little, without ever reaching insane levels. 7/10

I walk by Redbreast and cannot resist a dram of...

Redbreast 21yo (46%, OB, 20011276): nose: an explosion of tropical fruit, innit. Mouth: this mouth is so fruity it is almost indecent. Full Bourbon maturation so as to not taint the pleasure with any cloying flavour. Finish: bursting with tropical fruit. This remains wonderful. Pure pleasure, no brains. MS reckons "it is stretching. It is trying to be fruitier than it is." He might be right after all. It is not 117.3, yet he does find melon, wrapped around grapes. 9/10

We then stop at Gordon & MacPhail.

Tormore 1996/2016 (57.4%, GMP Cask Strength for The Whisky Exchange, Refill Bourbon Barrel, C#5655): nose: chocolate, dark fruits and pecan nuts. Mouth: warm and citrus-y -- very citrus-y, in fact. Finish: citrus, sizzling in butter (tangerine, satsuma, green grapefruit) and dark chocolate on top. 8/10

We bump into MR, who pours me something from an unmarked bottle. It is...

Springbank 16yo 1999/2016 Local Barley (54.3%, OB, 9000b): nose: barley, barley, barley. Mouth: slightly medicinal barley. Finish: big, bold, gently fruity (mandarin, candied lemon). 8/10

MS wants to stop by That Boutique-y Whisky Company, as he just bought one of their bottlings and wants to check the rest.

Arran 19yo (49.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, B#6, 250b): nose: lemon curd, lemon pie, grapefruit pie. Mouth: it packs some punch, with salt, white pepper on custard-cream biscuit. Finish: warming, hot with pepper, it has hot custard and coconut shavings. A modern malt, of course, yet a good one. 8/10

DW, who mans the TBWC stall with his daughter this year, spots me, leaves the stand to come shake my hand. He spotted an idiot (my word, not his) scribbling in a notebook and thought I looked familiar. Nice to see you, DW. :-)

Mr. Whisky-Pinklist himself

We finally meet up with JS again, after bumping into everyone else (including the Swissky Mafia, a few times). We all go to Elements of Islay/Port Askaig, where I still hope to try the very old expression. OC pours me...

Port Askaig 15yo (45.8%, SD, Sherry Cask, b.2016): this has not yet been bottled. They have two sample bottles of juice that is 14 years and 11 months old for this show only. Yes, the information on the label is incorrect -- and possibly illegal. Nose: meat, marinated in red wine, game in grand-veneur sauce, dried blood (that one gets me a few funny looks). Mouth: big and wine-y, with more grand-veneur sauce. Finish: drying, big, bold, full of dark wine and game. Not my style at all, this. 5/10

OB and L are at the Penderyn stall, five metres away. We try:

Penderyn Legend (41%, OB, Bourbon Barrels + Ex-Madeira Casks Finish, b. ca 2016): nose: dusty metallic tools. Mouth: grape juice. Finish: green-grape juice again, soft and sweet. 7/10

We come across BC and tease him about his, ahem, very personal rating system... again. :-)

Penderyn Rich Oak (50%, OB, 2248b): hot and chemical, with paint and mercurochrome undertones. Mouth: meaty, here, not my thing. Finish: next to the meat, chocolate and fruit emerge, coating and thick. MS says it reeks of someone varnishing a table. 6/10

It is the final leg of the day. We go back to Signatory Vintage.

Fettercairn 27yo 1988/2016 (58.4%, SV Cask Strength Collection, , Hogshead, C#1996, 261b): nose: grassy, hay-like, eventually coming on to medicine and pills. Mouth: it feels green and uncouth, then white pepper takes over. Finish: grass, apricot, apricot stone, straw. Interesting, this, as unusual and unexpected as Fettercairn can be. 7/10

Caol Ila 32yo 1983/2016 (49.3%, SV Cask Strength Collection, Hogshead, C#5297, 249b): another cask was the star of last year's show, so I try this one with high expectations. I get the last pour too, from the bottle hidden behind the counter. No wonder I have missed it until now! Nose: refined peat smoke, again, not so far from a 1970s Ardbeg. This is similar to last year's edition, with farmyard scents and brine, dust and nobility. Mouth: dust indeed, with squashed dark fruit and burning hay too. Finish: long and warming, with wood polish, refined peat smoke and brine. Excellence. 9/10

Final stop at Number One Drinks for a burner.

Chichibu 2009/2016 (61.4%, SD, 633b): nose: eau-de-vie and grain, perhaps a touch of earth, mocha (MS). Mouth: acidic and hot. Hot! Finish: vanilla, butterscotch and flippin' bollocks. This is a good last dram. It leaves a texture in the mouth akin to that of chocolate. 7/10

Phew! what a marathon. We are still chirpy, however, and ready for food ingestion. The plan is to accompany the Swissky Mafia to their hotel, drop off their bags, collect the goodies from two weeks ago that they kindly brought along today, then go for a meal with JS, MS and EG. On the way, I say good by to MR and greet AMcR. MR is shocked that we do not know each other yet. He is expected upstairs, he says, to which I reply I want to say hello, not hold hands for a fancy walk.

We have burgers, which are finger-licking good, then an after-party at tOMoH tower, where more whiskies are poured. I do not take notes -- we have:
  • Benriach 1976/1991 (40%, GMP Connoisseurs Choice)
  • Bunnahabhain 42yo 1968/2011 (43.8%, Whisky-Fässle/Whiskybase.com, Refill Sherry Cask)
  • Tamdhu 13yo 1990/2003 (43%, William Maxwell Dun Bheaghan, Sherry Finish, C#9041-9043, 2868b)
  • Glenlossie 12yo (55.5%, OB The Manager's Dram, b.2004)
  • G5.5 18yo d.1993 Rich, sweet and comforting (65.4%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Virgin Toasted Hogshead, 243b)
  • Old Rhosdhu 1967/1999 (40%, OB The Original Whisky Collection)
  • Littlemill 22yo 1989/2011 (55.1%, Glen Fahrn Airline Edition, Airline 3, C#7, 310b)
I am very surprised PG has only had the Rhosdhu, probably the most obscure of the eight or so I pulled out for pouring.

Good, epic times in great company.

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