31 January 2017

29/01/2017 Post-BNF dram

There was no real after-party, this year (after the night, how could there?) This evening seems as good a time as any to fill that gap.

Tomatin 10yo (40%, OB, L2 12:14 4 2D3 R206 90): nose: discreet vinegar and oily rags in a mechanics' workshop. It is not very expressive, really -- whispers of mocha, then brine. It ends on a honeysuckle note. Mouth: honey, wax, envelope glue and post stamps. Finish: nice chocolate, caramel cream, hazelnut liqueur, soft, easy, and very good. 7/10

28/01/2017 Burns' Night 2017 -- Burns to be Wild

Another year, another Burns' Night. Never one to shy away from a bad word association, I went for the theme: Burns to be Wild. That translates into anything that has an animal anywhere on the packaging.

Psycho and dom666 arrive almost an hour before the meeting time. Not to worry, we have many things to sample. All the same, they do not drink anything for an hour, until everyone is there.
adc, JS, Psycho, dom666, kruuk2, ruckus, sonicvince and myself. JD called in sick, unfortunately, whilst PSc is doing a charity dinner.

Very ambitious

adc made some appetizers -- sausage rolls and mackerel toasties. Delicious. I am too busy in the kitchen to have more than one, though.

Right. What will we drink?

A stag. How original!

Inchmurrin 12yo (46%, OB Island Collection, 15521F/15520B L2/294/15, b.2015) (adc): nice to try this again, after it was the star of the Whisky Show, in 2015. Nose: caramel and caramelised fruit. It soon opens up to reveal more tropical fruits -- pineapple and papaya. Mouth: candied apples, a hint of burnt wood. This is light. Finish: an explosion of tropical fruit. Later, it is charred wood and candied apple. Love this, still! Only the nose prevents me from scoring it higher. 8/10

The music starts for real: ruckus made a mix of records with an animal on the sleeve. Lol.

Parsnip-and-brocoli soup enters.

What next?

I almost did not offer this, until I realised there are three
animals on the packaging!
A stag.
How original!

Longmorn 25yo Centenary (45%, OB) (group): a bold move to place this here, but hey! I did not build the line-up. Nose: meow! Custard and a cavalcade of crisp fruit -- mango, carambola, plum, greengage. Mouth: milky, with more crisp, waxy fruits. Finish: very, very long, with all sorts of juicy fruits. I do not give it enough time (the programme is spectacularly ambitious and we are behind schedule already), but enough to make this my dram of the day. 10/10

JS pours the following at the same time, to let it open up. Psycho downs it in ten minutes, whilst kruuk2 and I keep it until last, sniffing it from time to time.

You will have to accept
that "monster" is an animal!
117.3 25yo d.1988 Hubba-bubba, mango and monstera (58.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 2nd Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 199b): (group): this needs no introduction. During a recent sale, I thought it would be a nice bottle to buy as a collective, sure as I was that the others would love it too. As said, I nose this every twenty minutes, and eventually drink it last. Nose: chocolate coulis!? herbs, clogged sink (yes). Twelve hours later (yes), mango, loud and clear. At that point, Psycho is sorry he finished it. Mouth: peppery mango. This is juicy, silky, with a dash of ground pepper, earth and mango skins. Finish: more of that tropical fruit, bold and confident, then a touch of green pepper, sprinkled on milk chocolate. Capital dram, this, dram of the day for sonicvince. 10/10

Main course is served: haggis (of course), butternut and potato bake, and root vegetable and rice galette. No veggie haggis, this year, which means we eat more of the regular one and I feel less bloated... until I try to get up and realise. :o)

But I digress. We have work to do.

Littlemill 16yo d.1991 (53.8%, Exclusive Malts, C#166, 251b) (dom666): we have had this one many times, of course. And it is always a pleasure. And it has an owl on the label, woo! (see what I did, there?) Nose: cinnamon cookies, overripe oranges, then lots and lots of of fruit, decaying citrus, overripe pineapple. It ends with gingerbread. Mouth: hot and fruity, it has loads of white pepper, ginger and galangal, as well as grapefruit, acidic and strong. Finish: big, bold, with huge chunks of pineapple, hot custard and curry leaves. Still great, this one! 8/10

kruuk2's bottle, the one that reads "Danger, wild animal inside" is finally let out of the tube.

The reason it was kept inside is now painfully obvious.

kruuk2 would not settle for bleeding eagles!

Teh gigglez.
The Varran (50%, OB, Madeira Finish) (kruuk2): I suppose it helps to know that a 'varan' is French for the Komodo dragon. See the picture on the right. Laugh out loud. Nose: buttery as butter, until a wave of cut flowers and buttery fruit caresses the nostril, alongside a dash of vinegar. Mouth: it is a gentle, spicy crescendo towards white pepper goodness. Once the pepper settles, velvety custard enters. Finish: mocha, mild coffee, augmented with cocoa powder, this is rich, syrupy and slightly bitter. Modernish, yet very good (V)Arran. ruckus talks about the whisky from Komodo. I am keen to have a world-whiskies tasting. This one would be even funnier, if distilled in 1964; we could then have a Komodo r'64. Boom-tsch. 8/10

Tamnavulin-Glenlivet 1966/1988 (45%, Moon Import The Birds, 2400b, b#0145) (yours, truly): nose: mint, lovage seeds, βανίλια, grass and flowers. The grass soon turns into hay. This nose is less fresh than yer regular Tamnavulin's, but more complex. Mouth: delicate, honey-ed, soft and easy. It still has herbs -- mint and tarragon. Finish: mellow, with honey, chocolate and a hint of herbs. Ooft! 9/10


Miltonduff-Glenlivet 1974/1990 (46%, Brae Dean Int. imported by Moon Import The Birds, Hogshead, C#1538, 600b, b#103) (JS): because if someone is opening a legendary bottle, you might as well pour another of a similar calibre to compare! Nose: herbaceous, bubblegummy, with gentle tobacco in the back. Mouth: it becomes silky and delicately bakery-oriented, with orange rinds and marmalade. Finish: wonderfully herbaceous, with milk chocolate, sage, basil, lemon, thyme. Woah! Killer! Dram of the day for ruckus, though he finds it difficult to choose one, tonight, he admits. 9/10

Why open one legendary bottle when you can open two?

Deanston 35yo 1977/2012 (40.4%, The Whisky Agency/The Nectar, Refill Hogshead, 253b) (JS): slay them while they are weakened, she said. Nose: feet! (adc) "A princess's feet, then!" (dom666). Quince, pears, canary melon, papaya, then pineapple. Purr. Mouth: custard, a hint of bitter greenness -- pomelo, green gooseberries. Finish: mild coffee, hot custard, pickles (!?), soured cream. This is as good as in MS's garden, in September. 9/10

Change of music around this point.

Spot the horse!

Glenburgie 20yo 1994/2014 (50.7%, OB Cask Strength Edition, B#GB 20 006) (adc): the torrent of quality drams is in full force! Nose: dry leather, dried tangerine peels, then Virginia tobacco, and even sawdust. Mouth: tangy marmalade, salty tangerine peels; it is still fruity, though more masculine than the previous three, with more faded leather. Finish: acidic tangerines, long, lovely, acidic and slightly bitter. Another wonderful CSE. 9/10

And unicorns!

Knockando 25yo 1980/2005 (48.3%, DT Rare Auld, C#1908, 260b, b#10) (Psycho): nose: wide, with blood orange, cork and shoe polish. Mouth: leathery, earthy, then orange-y. This has been influenced by a sherry cask, I would say. Finish: warms you up, it does! Warm leather saddles and black pudding. Always a treat to taste this, today is no exception. 9/10

adc clocks out. Someone notices that we are halfway through. It is 2 o'clock. Ahem.

dom666 explains he just learnt the difference between knowledge and wisdom.
"Knowledge is to know tomato is a fruit.
Wisdom is to not put tomatoes in a fruit salad."

Dalmore 15yo (40%, OB, M1018 G7 11/88878) (sonicvince): we have not had this for years -- before this blog was launched, in fact. Nose: drying, rancio, with also dunnage-warehouse scents. Mouth: rancio again, leather, tobacco in yogurt ("why would one do such a thing?", I hear you ask). Finish: coffee, leather, sandal soles. I am a little short for inspiration, here. I like it better than the first time, I think. 7/10

Dessert is served -- the usual cake-that-shan't-be-named. this year, it is spiked with Ardmore 1978/1998 Cadenhead Original Collection.

Hooooiiiiiiiiii Tsaaaaaaaa!


Mortlach 16yo (43%, OB Flora & Fauna, L8296CM000 0545 3335, b. ca 2010) (dom666): nose: more of that sherry rancio, faded leather belts, cured meat, nail varnish, walnut shells. Mouth: big, game-y, drying, with red meat, even black meat (game, innit). Finish: drying, wine-y, dried prunes, chocolate. Still not my favourite F&F. I do not really understand the cult following. 6/10

The second cake is served.

A dog, this time

Bunnahabhain 32yo d.1976 (49%, MMcD Mission, Fino Sherry / Château d'Yquem Casks, 626b) (Psycho): I am telling you: this tasting is crazy! Nose: nuts and pipe tobacco, polished dashboards, earth. Goody gumdrops. Mouth: prunes, apricot stones, caramelised apricot compote. Finish: long, dignified, with walnut stain, nuts, drying leather. This is the same style as the Dalmore and Mortlach, yet one can see how the magic of a great single cask can be lost in a small batch (a la Mortlach), or a big one (a la Dalmore). This is much more noble. 9/10

sonicvince calls it a night.

A stag. How original!

Glen Garioch 21yo (43%, OB, L591, b#14980) (me): nose: a delicate, dry peat smoke, dirt roads; this is dry and sterile, austere, with a pinch of herbs too -- sage? Thyme? Rosemary? Mouth: the elegant smoke is still there, joined by chilli and a hint of rubber. Finish: long, bold, with a certain fruitiness, as well as a faint soapiness. 9/10

Had to bring the tin, because the stag is not on the bottle!

Convalmore 22yo 1984/2007 (52.2%, GMP Cask imported by Classic Wine Imports Inc., Refill Sherry Hogshead, C#1538, JG/CJG) (sme again): remember JS and I tried this in San Francisco, last year? And that I was looking forward to trying it with this crew? Well, that is today. To be honest, I hesitate a little before pouring it: adc has gone to sleep, so has sonicvince, Psycho has a headache and does not want any more, JS fell asleep on the sofa and kruuk2 has a hard time keeping his eyes open (it is now close to 4 o'clock). ruckus and dom666 are up for it, though. I brought the bottle thus far, it would be a shame to take it back closed. Pop. Nose: musky, foxy, it has a pine-tree scent (Psycho, who still smells it), a pine-tree-forest floor and a subtle whiff of lemon. To recap: a fox is eating a lemon in a pine-tree forest, wearing muddy hiking boots. Mouth: pine needles here, loud and clear. Ginger shows up, sharp and powerful, musk, lemon, with acidic forest floor, lemonade, pomelo. Finish: a beautiful, old-school smoke, a wood stove, noble furniture, made out of exotic wood, a dash of lime, pomelo juice, burnt pastry -- wow! Wonderful, perhaps even more to my taste than in July. 9/10


Bowmore 15yo Mariner (43%, OB, L1284/L1304) (Psycho): let us be honest: we have all had enough, now. All the same, Psycho stayed this late just to pour this, it is not the first time he has brought it, and we have never had a chance to try it. Nose: lots of rubber, then pickled pearl onions -- very distinct. Mouth: silky, milky, with more notes of pickled onions (the small, white ones, this time). Finish: peat smoke and flavours of a fishing port (cockles, whelk, kelp, brine). This is long and creamy, with a warming feel. 7/10

Psycho leaves. We are worried he is in no state to go home, but he reassures us he has drunk nothing for four hours, on account of his headache.

Ain't no krokodil!

Ardbeg Alligator (51.2%, OB, 11100435) (ruckus): nose: lots and lots of dry peat, brine, sea air, burning leaves, gherkins in brine, smoked mussels and nigella seeds. Mouth: milky, then a note of burning wood grows in intensity to become pretty invading. It turns bitter, with black cardamom, black cumin. Finish: big, bold, powerful, full of embers, dry and burnt wood, dark chocolate and nigella seeds. It even has a certain sweetness to it. Nice. 7/10

kruuk2 and I go back to our 117.3. dom666 wants another pour of the Deanston, but the owner has now gone to bed. That is against the rules. I offer North British 45yo SV to all the survivors -- they all say yes, unsurprisingly. :-)

ruckus, dom666, kruuk2 and I clock off. It is 6:30. A new record.

Blimey, what a tasting! Duration, food, laughs, dram quality and quantity -- everything was epic.

Mr. Burns feels justly celebrated

This back-to-back, we never do

24 January 2017

23/01/2017 Diageo Special Releases 2016

Hard to believe it was a year ago that we had the previous Diageo tasting in this very venue. MR and EG are not here, this year, neither are MS, DR or AH. All the same, there are even more familiar faces in the room tonight than there were last year.

I was really not sure whether to come or not: I had three of tonight's drams at the Show, in October, and I thought the supposed star (the Brora) was less impressive than the 2015 edition. It is nice to have a chance to sample the Port Ellen, though, so why not.

Colin Dunn leads the tasting, of course. We joke ahead of time, wondering if he will rehash some of his trademark jokes. He ends up rather more serious than usual, with a couple of recycles only, but then slays the audience with a few new ones. Selection below.

Naturally, we do not drink the drams in the order they are laid out in front of us -- not to mention the pourers mixed up #3 and #4!...
Let us start.

#4. Cragganmore b.2016 (55.7%, OB Limited Release, Refill, Rejuvenated and ex-Bodega Casks): nose: flowers, meadow flowers. This is delicate and gentle, yet it seems to lack the wonderful fragrance of the 12yo. Mouth: delicate toffee, diluted caramel, then balsa wood, ginger, green pepper. Green capsicum, in fact! It is rather hot too, green-chilli style. Finish: many woody tones, with just a little cocoa and sawdust, ginger powder. It is quite drying. Dunn finds it "Japanese." Most in the room agree. Cavalier, JS, DW and I prefer the 12yo. 7/10

#5. Lagavulin 12yo b.2016 (57.7%, OB Limited Edition, 200th Anniversary, 151 x Refill American Oak Barrels): nose: entering a tannery; this is meaty and peaty, a strange crossing between a panting dog after a run on a hot day and toilet-bowl cleaner. "Where did you hide the toilet-bowl cleaner, Dirty Peat?" giggles JS, who dislikes the dram. She later discovers that MP and DW find exactly the same note... and like it for that reason! Mouth: sweeter than expected, it has lots of kelp and algae, with a touch of honey. Finish: big and peaty, vaguely sweet, yet mostly a big seafood sandwich... eaten in the toilets. 5/10

#1. Auchroisk 25yo b.2016 (51.2%, OB Limited Edition, American & European Oak Casks, 3954b, b#340): always keen to try an aged Auchroisk. The name alone amuses me. Nose: tarragon and nail polish, then tulips, daffodils and custard at room temperature. Mouth: creamy and custard-y, though it is quickly augmented with gentle pepper. Finish: big, chocolate-y, custard-y, creamy and beautiful. This has pastry and croissant dough written all over it. 8/10

Colin reminds the audience that Auchroisk is primarily a distillery for blends.

"Johnnie Walker Black Label sold 19 million cases of 12 bottles, last year. It is anticipated to grow by 15%, this year, with China, Asia and Mexico coming on the market, and a big rise in Hounslow..."
Room. Laugh.

#6. Linkwood 37yo 1978/2016 (50.3%, OB Limited Release, 6114b, b#4189): this, I had in October. Nose: dignified, polished dashboards, delicate Virginia tobacco, faded leather belts and some fruit in the back (pineapple, grapefruit). Mouth: gentle and mellow, with more pineapple and grapefruit, as well as chestnuts (JS). The texture is milky. Finish: grapefruit skins, slightly drying and acidic. Very nice, this, although my detailed impressions are very different to October's! 8/10

Talking about some auction:
"I wanted to buy that. And it went for £3,000. And I thought: ffff...... Dash!"

#3. Cambus 40yo b.2016 (52.7%, OB, 1812b, b#0685): I was mad about this one, a few months ago. Only the price prevented me from buying one. Nose: wood varnish, quite loud. Later on, tropical fruits come out, along with strong detergent. Even later, it is pastry galore. Mouth: soft and delicate, with fruity custard, fig compote, apricot jam. Finish: so fruity! Tropical madness, with lychee, pineapple and pomelo. Beautiful! Shame I cannot afford it. 10/10

Talking about the Trump-signed Glendronach bottle:

"Great whisky. Mr. Trump aside, because his favourite drink is a white Russian anyway."

#7. Port Ellen 37yo 1978/2016 (55.2%, OB Annual Release 16th, 2940b): nose: old tools in a mechanic's workshop, then a paper horn of seafood with a tartare topping -- whelks and cockles. It is vaguely sweet too. Fishing nets, dirty, oily rags. This is the point I realise I am nosing the Linkwood, by mistake. Embarrassing and a good indication of what the power of suggestion can do to one's mind. Mouth: dirty and sweet at the same time, oily, with drying fishing nets. Finish: long like a breadless day, dirty and rich, with greasy seafood. I like this, but I will need to re-taste it. The right conditions have passed. 8/10

"If you want to drink something close to aged Port Ellen, drink aged Caol Ila. And put it into a Port Ellen bottle!"

#2. Brora 38yo (48.6%, OB Limited Edition, 2984b, b#445): we finish with this, as we did last year. Last year's edition was terrific. This one, we tried at the Show: JS did not like it and if I did, I found it less complex. I know the conditions are not right, yet I will have a sip all the same. You know, just to be sure... Nose: waxy as hell, it has honeycomb, then farmyard scents. The latter grow, alongside balsamic vinegar, only to return to full-on manure. Mouth: honeycomb again, beeswax and royal jelly. There is a little drying note of tractor tyre. Finish: mud, rubber, candle wax and all sorts of goodness. As with the PE, it is not the right time, any longer. Will have to try it again. Still... 9/10

One of Colin's friends plays a song on the guitar, which is pretty amusing.

We spend a lot of time socialising afterwards and never make it back to the shop (which is frustrating, since CB kindly invited us). We do not even get to speak to Colin Dunn, so in demand he is, tonight.

Good times, with Mr. Dunn in great form. Roll on the next one, hopefully less hot.