The Whisky Cyclist is moving up North. He decided to go out in style and generously invited tOMoH, alongside pretty much every recurrent character on these pages. His was a vague invitation, as per his usual self: 'I am having a leaving do at the Society. You are welcome to join.'
That was pretty much it. It sounded like a regular afternoon at the bar with friends, then. No need to change my plans for the day, I will simply join when I am done.
Throughout the afternoon, however, I receive multiple texts: it is a formal tasting and it is set to finish at 19:00. Hm. I am tied up until 18:00, but will run as soon as I am free!
Still, it is 18:56 when I make my grand entrance in the (very) loud room, now sparsely crowded by (very) inebriated people. JS kept a dram of each for me (yay!) and PS is smoothly trying to steal them. A dich move!
25.68 23yo d.1990 Vichy kisses (57.8%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 214b): had this one when it came out. The staff found a bottle and proposed to use it for this occasion. The Cyclist said yes; I wonder why! Nose: very punchy, lemon-y, acidic and biting. Behind the alcohol is a meadow, full of flowers. One could say it is perfume essence. Additionally, cut quince, unripe pears. Mouth: powerful and anaesthetising, with flower broth, honey and honeysuckle. Finish: cold cocoa, milk chocolate and velvety fruit nectar, with cut yellow flowers. Beautiful Lowlander, this! 9/10
The staff is now trying to get the survivors to evacuate the private room and bring everyone back onto the main floor. Being still sober, I try to help. It feels like herding cats, of course.
"Have you tried my Mortlach?"
Mortlach 19yo 1991/2011 (59%, The Wine Society, Sherry Cask): nose: stripping glue, wine sauce and cured game. Sherry maturation in full effect! Mouth: earthy, game-y, drying. Boy, is this heavily sherried, or what? Finish: it has a rancio character, drying, beastly, with dried leaves, tobacco and meat. More to my taste than other sherried Mortlachs, this! 7/10 (Thanks GK)
Dr. CD leaves, which prompts me to bring up my goodies -- before no-one is left to sample, you understand. G4.1 it is, and pretty popular it turns out to be.
"Have you tried BS's Glen Elgin?"
85.19 8yo 1999/2008 Fireside dram (62.4%, SMWS Society Cask): nose berries in earth, in short. Mouth: velvety, until wood takes over. It then unleashes ginger and galangal, as well as pears. Finish: fruity, earthy, balanced and pleasant. 7/10 (Thanks BS)
Downstairs, four people at the one busy table are about to be dramatically disturbed by the chaotic arrival of a dozen of drunks. We have more whisky than we will be able to drink: I decide to offer them a dram to encourage their patience.
By the time the drams are served, they get up to leave. Not only does my plot fall flat, it means we now have more whisky poured in need of drinking! Urgh!
35.127 16yo d.1998 Pineapple upside-down cake (56.6%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 222b): nose: lots of fruit and tins of paint. Mouth: cut pears and fruit nectar. Finish: sweet cut pears, apple compote. Despite the short notes, I really like this. 8/10
From here on, notes become erratic. I have a dozen of drams to go through in about an hour and a half, I am keen to socialise a little bit and I notice I have not eaten for ten hours, other than a handful of pretzels...
The Cyclist and PS give emotional speeches (it is late) while I try to catch up a little.
JS gives me her Fiji rum, bottled by Cadenhead: she is not a fan. I like it a lot, the nose is full of mushrooms; truffles, to be precise. The mouth and the finish are fruitier.
2.88 20yo d.1993 Cinderella weeping over Matchmakers (47.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 270b): nose: apples and Virginia tobacco. Mouth: light and fresh, it has cut fruit and a hint of wine. Finish: fruity and gentle. 7/10
I pour Bunnahabhain 26yo 1989/2016 Cadenhead Authentic Collection to a few people; it receives a mixed welcome, presumably depending on what came just before it.
71.40 23yo d.1989 Sticky apricot tarts at an Indian Market (56.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 432b): this one too, I had when it came out. Gentle and perfume-y nose, gentle mouth and I even manage to make no note about the finish, too busy I am chatting away. Probably 6/10
76.113 11yo d.2002 John Barleycorn was a hero bold (58.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, 1st Fill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 233b): it becomes apparent that the glasses have been mixed up, here. I do not think I am nosing a Mortlach. Nose: earthy and fruity. Mouth: more earth and fruit, which works quite well. Finish: long, dry, with cork, earthy and whatnot. 7/10
We are given two minutes to vacate the place. I (very stupidly) down the three or four drams left in front of me (one is A beachcomber's bounty, not that it matters, by this point). I have finally caught up with the others: alcohol got the better of me. We get thrown out. Regardless of how I make it read, the staff have been perfect, as usual, full of patience and tact. I vaguely recall shattered glass, at some point, and even that clumsiness from our part was dealt with in a professional way.
Once outside, we bid each other farewell for what might be an eternity or seconds, it is hard to tell. GK tries to convince everyone to go to the pub for a beer (!!!), but I do not think anyone is up for it. Finally, we all part ways.
I do not remember much of the journey home, but I do remember the spinning and the two phone calls to Raoul, once there. I will certainly remember that pretzels are not a real meal, in any case.
See you across the Borders, Whisky Cyclist!