So much to drink, so little time. It is all about baby steps.
Bruichladdich 25yo 1991/2017 (48.2%, Cadenhead, Burgundy Cask, 192b): nose: white wine and sweet mustard. It becomes dryer, with hay and toasted barley. Over time, dried herbs start to appear too -- sage and rosemary. This is much less welcoming than Bruichladdich is usually known for, yet it has its charms. Bandages? That was a very obvious note when I first tried it, now not so much. Mouth: acidic, almost vinegary. This is a nice vinaigrette on a fresh salad -- rocket, I would say: peppery and a bit scratchy. In fact, it becomes very peppery indeed; too much for its own good. Finish: just like the nose, the finish has mustard and vinegar, though this time, it is complemented by honey and something that reminds me of mayonnaise, as well as lots of pepper. Let us call it honey mustard and be done with it. If it were not for the white-wine acidity and the loud pepper, the finish would be lovely. As it stands, it barely fares better than the nose and the palate. It seems as peppery to me as Talisker 10yo. And I do not care for that one. Water tames the finish a bit, without changing the nose or mouth. Meh. I liked it better when it came out. 5/10
Inchgower 27yo 1989/2017 (53.2%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Hogshead, 234b): nose: in typical Inchgower style, this is as herbaceous as South Italian cuisine: oregano, sage, rosemary, verbena, marjoram and caraway seeds. Behind it all, hay, bandages, gauze, muscle-warming spray. Herbs come back in force, with crushed bay leaves. Water does not really alter the nose. Mouth: very balanced, it has hawthorn, rosemary again (though it is more discreet here than in the nose), definitely caraway seeds and acacia honey, spread over the whole. It feels soft and sweet, despite the 53%, and rather coating. Water makes it thinner and less herbaceous: thin apple compote, with crushed bay leaves. Finish: all the herbs are still there, augmented with gentle honey and jammy fruit (or fruity jams?) Quince jelly dominates. It has a hint of bandages, plaster glue or muscle-warming spray, yet the fruit really takes over: apricot compote, peach nectar and candied oranges. The finish has a generous dose of black pepper, which never becomes invading. What a difference with the previous dram! The fruit becomes timidly tropical, with a slice of banana and a dice of mango, thrown in for good measure. Water seems to help tropical fruits speak slightly louder without changing it too dramatically; all the same, it then turns more bitter, with ground apricot and avocado stones. Good drop, this! 8/10
Hilariously, it is only now I realise I already reviewed the Inchgower not a month ago! Different notes too, which goes to show circumstances are everything. (thanks SW for the samples)