18 July 2017

16/07/2017 A random few drams

Well, almost random.

Glen Moray-Glenlivet 25yo 1991/2017 (51.4%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 246b): nose: pencil lead, dusty cellars, dry earth, then the interior of a wardrobe. Rather austere, this. Further, it is plastic wrapping (shrinkwrap), then green hazelnuts, fresh almond paste, cooked cherries and furniture polish -- "does it open up, then?" I hear you ask; yes, yes, it does. Much later on, a leathery note appears too. Mouth: bitter, peppery, with some quite potent lemon juice. Crisp apples join the game, wood, bitter orange juice. A gingery heat grows in intensity. Finish: dried apples and dried mangoes accompany a gently woody note. The whole is well balanced. It seems pretty chalky and drying, yet it is augmented by a slightly fruity aftertaste and a drop of honey. 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, SW)

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 26yo 1989/2016 (48.2%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Barrel, 108b): nose: aromatics in the kitchen, as lunch is being prepared (thyme, dried sage), a thyme infusion, a rabbit casserole, stewing slowly on the hob, steamed carrots, a metallic colander, recently used to drain boiling water. Even a touch of game-y leather comes forth in the back of the nose, cloaked in fine smoke. Behind it all, shy orchard fruits struggle to make themselves heard. Mouth: thyme and citrus, dried sage too, subtle. Lukewarm milk, a bit of chalk, and a very good alcohol balance. It seems stronger than 50%. Finish: a surprising onslaught of fruit, both fresh (peaches), in compote (apples) and in jam (greengages). The gently drying chalk note subsides, discreet. The dominent is the fruit, though -- grapes, apples, peaches and greengages. This is very good! 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, SW)

Glentauchers-Glenlivet 25yo 1989/2015 (53.3%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Barrels, 378b):  nose: melon skins, faded leather, sun-drenched earth, after a short rain, cut apples, ground almonds, prunes, before it finally opens up to reveal all sorts of fruits: peaches, bananas, rosehip. Then, syrupy wine comes to the fore, briefly. Eventually, burnt wood makes a discreet appearance, alongside a few herbs. Mouth: fruity and hot. Hot apricot compote, stewed prunes, soft peaches, nectarines, nectarine peels, fruit stones (yes, it is gently bitter) and sage. Finish: a vague bitterness that soon gives way to more fruit (peaches and nectarines) and fruit stone. It is velvety and warming, with a mild, metallic touch (sage again). Good, but the 26yo is more to my taste. 7/10 (Thanks for the sample, SW)

10 July 2017

08/07/2017 Pride

London Pride, today, and an opportunity for some to show their true colours on social media and irl (fifty shades of beige). But karma is a bitch.
Today, Pride. None of that unaffordable Glenmorangie malarky, though. No. We will dig deeper.

No-no limits
We'll reach for the sky
No valley too deep
No mountain too high
No-no limits
Won't give up the fight
We do what we want
And we do it with Pride

Pride of the Lowlands 12yo (40%, GMP, b. ca mid-1980s): part of a series of blended malts by Gordon & MacPhail. Nose: OME in full effect (Old Miniature Effect) -- dust and ground pepper. A few seconds in, it gives out lemon, limescale, even, sawdust (could that be St Magdalene?), then juicy, yellow-fleshed fruits (peaches). The dustiness subsides, but there is a lot behind it -- even custard and over-baked butterscotch. Mouth: citric at first, the peaches from the nose soon arrive, with ground fruit stones and old white pepper. This is surprisingly hot on the palate, yet fruity at the same time. Minty, fruity yogurt. Finish: more peach flesh, yellow flowers (daffodils) and a hefty dose of sawdust, which points more toward Strathmill than the Lowlands, but it is good, if unexpected. Sage and marjoram are there too, as well as βανίλια. A decent blended malt. Hard to admit it is from the Lowlands, due to the slightly austere character (limescale, sage, sawdust), which suggests to me that there could be some St Magdalene in this, not just Rosebank, Auchentoshan and Glenkinchie. In the mid-1980s, it is not inconceivable to think that some StM casks were still being vatted; after all, they were much more numerous than today (St Magdalene closed in 1983). I suppose we will never know, in any case. 7/10

Pride of Strathspey 25yo (40%, GMP, b. 1995, IE/BFE): a much more recent bottling, yet the age suggests it was distilled in the same era as the Lowlander. Nose: this nose and the colour point at sherry casks -- my money is on Macallan being a component. Walnut oil, avocado stone, then linseed oil, oil paint, black shoe polish. A minute later, it is dried figs and dates. Worcester sauce, plasticine, freshly-laser-printed paper; this is well complex! Mouth: velvety, with a very gentle, wine-like dryness. Sultanas, dried cranberries, figs, a hint of ginger powder and warm toffee pudding. With time, the sherry calms down and makes room for lukewarm custard. Finish: all that sherry goodness is joined by a distinct wood influence -- old furniture and wood glue. Later on, nuts and walnut shells take over, with the bitterness of the shells being quite strong. Much later on, still, it comes back with the freshness of peppermint. This is a heavily-sherried whisky. Not much of the distillate remains behind the sherry influence. It is brilliant at what it does, however. 8/10

Pride of Orkney 12yo (40%, GMP, b.1995, IE/BFD): strangely enough (or not), this was bottled right before the previous dram. Two consecutive bottling runs back-to-back in the same tasting -- ha! We already had the Old Orkney blended malt by GMP, but this is a first. Nose: surprisingly fruity, with cherries and fresh figs, then tobacco and macadamia nuts. A coffee mug, augmented with juicy fruit. What is this? Lychee? Yes. The fruit becomes more tropical, with papaya and lychee, although not exuberant by any stretch of the imagination. Much later on, it does become yet fruitier, with obvious mangoes and cut, underripe bananas. Mouth: sweet, it has moscovado sugar, caramelising, grilled pineapple, sweetened orange juice. A pinch of spices row in intensity, but the dominant is certainly sweet fruits. Slices of blood orange, pink grapefruit soaked in sangria, a few drops of mango nectar. Finish: barbecued apples, roasted pineapple, caramelised sugar and delicate smoke from the dying embers. This is amazing! Were it not for the insistently smoky note of cooled, burnt wood in the finish, I would probably rate it one more point. 8/10

Pride of Islay 12yo (40%, GMP, b. ca mid-1980s): nose: a mix of farm-y peat and squid ink. Baskets of crabs, dying in the midday sun, drying fishnets, shrimps left out of the refrigerator for a bit too long, tractor tyres, after a day spreading manure on the fields. The most bizarre part is that I cannot decide whether all that is good or not. Leather being tanned, then falling leaves in autumn, dark, moist soil, tree bark, forest mushrooms and a faint hint of fruit behind it all. Mouth: soft, but leathery, it has a creamy texture -- more suede than leather. A sugary side grows bolder, as does a thin coal smoke. The sweetness is rather persistent, with caramel and burning sugar. Finish: spent incense, burnt wood, a kick of lemon freshness (Bowmore, possibly). this finish is long, assertive, but not cocky. It has that caramel again, hot embers, smoke and overheated leather, left on the back seat of a car with closed windows in the scorching North-African sun. Not a huge fan of this one. 6/10

That is a session. I do not think GMP have bottled other regions, but there have been several versions of each, through the years. Not too sure they still bottle them today. We will have other versions at some stage. Perhaps next year.