22 February 2017

18/02/2017 The Whisky Show Old & Rare (Day 1 -- Part 2)

The story starts here.

pat gva, JS and I go to Bread Meats Bread, where they have a Lamburghini (JS) and
the Wolf of St Vincent Street (pat gva), while I go for Raspoutine the Healer.
There is too much food, really, but we polish it off happily to mop up any alcohol excess we might end up in later.

Wolf of St Vincent Street
Raspoutine the Healer

On the way back, JS and I check into the hotel. They did not let us do it at 11:00, of course. Good opportunity for me to recover the camera.
The Swissky Mafia is in the hotel lobby, savouring a 1967 Laphroaig and assure me that 'life does not suck, right now.'

Back at the venue, I go for pictures of what we have drunk so far and chat with the staff. One recommends an old blend. At £2 a nip, I do not hesitate for long.

Red Seal 10yo (70° PROOF, Charles Well): nose: meat, leather, earth and vinegar. Mouth: oily and balanced, not as drying as I feared. Finish: earthy, leathery, meaty. I would be surprised if there is no Mortlach in this. Good blend, even if it is not exactly my favourite profile. 7/10

Lochside 21yo 1987/2008 (59.8%, A.D. Rattray Cask Collection, Refill Hogshead, C#20621, 180b): JS puts on her truffle-pig costume and finds this unusual vintage of Lochside. Nose: fruit and vinegar, hot mustard. Mouth: high in alcohol, with mustard and ripe fruit. Finish: strawberry bubblegum, green grapefruit and horseradich. This is hot, but lovely! 9/10


Banff 37yo 1971/2008 (58.3%, Dead Whisky Society, C#633, 565b, b#356): great to finally have a chance to try this. It seems to be sold exclusively at auction, always for a hefty price. Nose: hot metal (and methedrine, for those who know), rotting apples (CD), old ink on parchment, engine oil. Mouth: Dijon mustard, vinegar, mustard seeds in ghee. Finish: dusty, inky, dirty and mustardy or vinegary. Not the most accessible or the best Banff, yet it is good. 8/10

Glenlossie 21yo 1957/1978 (45.7%, Cadenhead, Sherry Wood): ahhhh! My favourite Glenlossie. Nose: leather belts, dusty magazines, shoe polish and mango skins. Mouth: creamy, almost pudding-like in mouthfeel. Finish: gentle bitterness, with a sweet fruitiness. Still wonderful, this. 10/10

Glenlossie 1966/1988 (46%, Brae Dean Int. imported by Moon Import The Costumes, Hogshead, C#3778, 264b, b#265): I wonder if anyone noticed the bottle number exceeds the number of bottles... Fake? Nose: fruity bubblegum. Mouth: hot, still fruity, but quite spicy. Finish: fruit, cork and peach pit. Great, though I prefer Cadenhead's. 9/10

JS is rightly upset: I finish Cadenhead's Glenlossie before she has had a chance to try both side by side, which was the whole point of the exercise. I am absent-minded and remorseful.

Another Lochside I do not try

The Swissky Mafia puts this under my nose.

Highland Park 35yo 1973/2009 (56.3%, OB for Velier, C#13352): nose: delicate heather. The Neutrals snigger at the term 'delicate.' Mouth: hot, vinegary water. Finish: rough and warming, with lots of heather wood. Right, it is not very delicate, after all. 7/10

I do not get to try this either

25.8 8yo 1985/1994 (61.3%, SMWS Society Cask): happy to spot this at the eleventh hour. Nose: huge floweriness, though the alcohol makes it very spirit-y, and difficult to appreciate. Leafy, not in a good way. Mouth: peppery and strong, though the distillery markers appear, now: honey, honeysuckle. Finish: more flowers, honey, jasmine and sweetness. Too strong, this. It is interesting, especially seeing how young it is, a good box to tick, but really, it is the worst dram of the show for me. 6/10

92.4 24yo 1966/1991 (61.3%, SMWS Society Cask): ha! Ha! Ha! Amusing that it has exactly the same ABV as 25.8. Nose: phwoar! Exuberant, overripe fruit, lychee, mostly. Mouth: lychee indeed, brown banana, ripe mango, papaya and... sage? Finish: hot and peppery before tropical fruits take over. Apricot, peach, melon, Chinese gooseberry. 9/10

The day comes to a close. It is time to leave and reflect on the experience.

For me, the formula is too much. The number of superior drams is overwhelming, to a point one loses the sense of reality and risks becoming blasé, unsuspecting of the actual quality on display. Sure, here are great whiskies, but in the words of one of my favourite philosophers, Butt-Head, 'If nothing sucked, if everything was cool, how would you know it's cool?'

Here, one has a hard time knowing it. Nothing is bad, even that SMWS Rosebank. All the same, every legendary whisky in this shindig becomes just another whisky. It is then easy to become numb to their greatness, to think that whisky is only this, and become an arrogant snob (not that I needed that to be one); you know the type -- 'I only drink Brora 1972, Ardbeg 1974 or Macallan bottled pre-1980s.'

tOMoH©. Photobombing blossoming discussions since 2012

However, great this event is, and however much I enjoyed it, it is a gigantic box-ticking exercise for most, including myself. These are legendary drams. I would have easily spent one hour with each, to discover their complexities and intricacies, but could not. Not only is everyone (understandably) trying to make the best of their entry fee, there was not even a bench to sit on and quietly try to understand what was in the glass.
Without going as far as saying that it is a waste of good whisky, if it is anything more than a networking event, it merely serves as a confirmation that a particular expression is worth buying -- or not.

I enjoyed it, I may come back next year, yet it really is not my preferred style of events.

That said and as can probably be felt by the preceding paragraphs, I have not had much sleep, I have been on my feet for twelve hours, my food intake is messed up, I am near dehydration and my serotonin levels are critically low, depleted by hours of excitement. Perhaps, that is the explanation for my dreary mood and this somewhat harsh criticism.

Or perhaps, I am jealous of someone else's success.

Take that how you want.

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