5 October 2017

30/09/2017 The Whisky Show 2017 (Day 1 -- Part 1)

A month has gone by without a tasting, and a year has gone by since the previous Whisky Show. Hard to believe, but here we are. The whole whisky world converges to Old Billingsgate again for a weekend of dramming and socialising. tOMoH is there too, with OB, JS, dom666, Cavalier, jazzpianofingers, PS, GL, MR, MS, OF, BC, BH, DW, EC, kiwi DH and many, many others. The only noticeable absents are the Swissky Mafia.

dom666, JS and I have breakfast at the Modern Pantry prior, where I devour a dhansak spiced veal-mince omelette and doughnuts. dom666 has eggs with grilled chorizo, slow roast vine ripened tomatoes, plantain fritters, while JS has toasted brioche bun, poached eggs, yuzu hollandaise, toasted seeds.
From there, it is a relatively short walk to the venue. And then a long queue. We are there thirty minutes before opening time, but will not make it in until thirty minutes past opening time.

Short notes, of course. It is a festival.

First stop: That Boutique-Y Whisky Company.

Caledonian 33yo (50.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, B#1, 144b, b#52): nose: pineapple, coconut, custard, lovely guava. Mouth: roasted pineapple, custard, grapefruit. Finish: again, lovely fruit, pineapple and grapefruit, mostly. 8/10

I pass the Loch Lomond stand and tell the guys I will be with them in twenty minutes. Then we rush to Bowmore, before it is too late. What we want costs more tokens than we have, however, and dom666 and JS end up queueing for tokens for an eternity (seriously, it was close to thirty minutes).

Bowmore 1964/1979 (43%, OB Bicentenary): one would be excused to think we had this last year; one would be mistaken, though: this one is the very rare vintage version, while the other did not mention the distillation year. Also, that one was available as a dream dram last year for one token, versus five tokens today. Wow. Nose: phwoar! Dust, coal, candle wax and many tropical fruits appear, louder and louder. Mouth: light and elegant, fruity, viscous. Finish: wonderful, fruity, with coal dust. Very elegant, yet, to be honest, last year's seemed even better. 9/10

The Whisky Show bottlings.

BA pours me something from an unlabelled bottle: nose: exuberantly fruity, with berry jam oozing from every drop. Mouth: pineapple, citrus, decaying pears. Finish: again, extravagantly fruity, with mango in chocolate milk and a slight clogged-sink impression. I guess it is Irish and am right: it is one of the two Irish whiskeys bottled for the occasion. Irish 26yo 1990/2017 (unknown ABV, The Whisky Agency and The Whisky Exchange, Barrel). They have not yet received the labels. I tried the other one at the shop yesterday, and prefer this one, here. 9/10

It will likely look like this

Someone gives me the following:

North British 25yo 1991/2017(58.5%, A.D. Rattray Cask Collection, Sherry Butt, C#262058, 533b): nose: vanilla, butter. Mouth: a tiny metallic note appears, dried herbs, grappa. This is drying. Finish: sage, metal, vanilla. It is a bit austere, for a grain. Not too taken by it. 6/10

Time to note A.D. Rattray's first Show appearance. I was excited to visit their stand -- so much so that I will never do it the whole weekend! Bad planning, I guess. At least, I tried some of their products (another one further).

I finally manage to catch Colin Dunn's attention, at Diego's.

Convalmore 32yo 1984/2017 (48.2%, OB, 3972b, b#0455): a new Convalmore is definitely something I am interested in. According to rumours, this bottling here is why Diageo were a little upset at Cadenhead's releasing a 40yo Convalmore of their own, earlier this year. I still have not tried that one, after putting it into a sample in Campbeltown. Nose: elegant, floral, with a bit of honey and a whiff of smoke. Mouth: an old-skool Highlander, slightly drying, comforting with a dash of honey. Finish: big, dry and austere, rather smoky, yet it also has berries and a dollop of honey. Excellent. 9/10

MS arrives. He is pissed off: because of works on the Northern line, he missed his first masterclass.


Manager's Dram style
Glen Ord 1969/1993 (60%, OB for the 25th Anniversary Glen Ord Maltings): nose: baked marzipan and bandages. Mouth: band-aids, bandages, gauze, black pepper and lots of chilli -- this is hot! Finish: hot and drying. Fiery, in fact. 8/10

With nothing revealing on the label
Springbank 1965/1993 (53.8%, Adelphi): nose: orchard fruit, wax, flowers and honey, with the faintest hint of smoke. Mouth: not many things beat an old Springbank. This is no exception; great. 9/10

Caol Ila 1978/1988 (50%, Samaroli 20th Aniversary, 540b): they brought the goods, did they not? :-) Nose: roasted barley and refined smoke. Mouth: silky, with almond milk, a little acidity, and the thinnest veil of smoke -- just because we know it is Caol Ila. Finish: the smoke is more pronounced, here. The finish is long, noble, and gives a burnt-peat aftertaste. Magnificent. 10/10

dom666 gives me Cameronbridge 25yo 1991/2017 (52.4%, Douglas Laing Old Particular, C#11644, 534b). I take no note, yet rate it 8/10

Bunnahabhain 30yo 1987/2017 (48.3%, A.D. Rattray Vintage Cask Collection, C#1298, 243b): again, someone gives me this, which means I never make it to Rattray's stand. Nose: marzipan, squashed pears, custard? No, something else... shortbread! Mouth: balanced, acidic, apple-y, banana-y. Finish: long, comforting, wonderful, with orchard fruit. This is brilliant, yet I decide to pass when I hear the price. 9/10

Signatory Vintage.

Bowmore 42yo 1974/2017 (49.6%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection Rare Reserve, Hogshead, C#4435, 183b, b#183): nose: fruity pastry, quite simply put. Mouth: melted marzipan, also known as: magmarzipan, custard, fresh fruit juice. The texture is milky and slightly drying. Finish: mellow, with fruity pastry. Terrible notes, I know. This is outstanding. 10/10

North Port 40yo 1977/2017 (50.4%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection Rare Reserve, Hogshead, C#3887, 194b, b#194): nose: apricot and polished dashboards, crushed dates. Mouth: lukewarm, with unripe berries, crushed fruit stones, and gentle tropical fruit in the back. Finish: an avalanche of fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines), long, with a green woodiness and lots of boiled sweets. 10/10

Sukhinder Singh stops by and chats for a minute. He recommends the Scotchwhisky.com bottlings. I will only ever get to try one -- but it is worth it!

Glenlivet 12yo (80 Proof, OB, b.1960s): nose: old bottling effect, with coal dust and ground orange peels. Mouth: oranges, all kinds of oranges, ground orange peels, orange pith. Finish: and yet more dusty orange peels, ground to a powder. Lovely, this. 9/10

Someone brings:

Highland Park 1957/1977 (70° Proof, BBR, 26 2/3 FL.OZS.): nose: old bottling effect again, with barley, a little smoke, gherkins and coffee, in another room. Mouth: soft, luscious, velvety. Finish: short, but nice, with grapefruit skins and lemon juice. 8/10

Gordon & MacPhail's.

Longmorn 1967/2015 (43%, GMP, Refill Sherry Hogsheads): nose: dried fruits (sultanas, smyrna, figs), gingerbread, sponge cake, cloves, cinnamon. Mouth: soft and silky, with cinnamon, ground clove, dried oranges. Finish: more gingerbread and dried-fruit goodness. Another great, old Longmorn (is there another kind?). 9/10

Glen Grant 1954/2014 (40%, GMP): nose: deep, fruity mahogany, polished dashboards and pressed raisins and dried peaches. Mouth: quite soft, sweet and coating, with prunes, prune syrup, dried peaches, sultanas. Finish: thick, coating, never-ending, it has tarry prunes, pressed dates, figs and all. This is unbelievable. 10/10

Glen Grant 1949/2014 (40%, GMP, 1st Fill Sherry Butts, C#2200 & 3185): nose: orchard fruit, jasmine, cut apples, a hint of wood. This feels Springbank-y (from the 1960s). It also has a hint of leather, then more exotic fruits take off, alongside Virginia tobacco. Mouth: the best mix of honey, Virginia tobacco and juicy mango, all peppered with a little bit of spices. Amazing. Finish: this is totally a 1960s Springbank, fruity, lively, zingy and simply superb. 11/10

MS and Cavalier come back from the Mizunara tasting with one dram. It is an unreleased Yamazaki d.1969 Mizunara cask. Great varnish-like nose, with an over-the-top woodiness in the finish. Shinji Fukuyo, Suntory's Chief Blender, brought this to illustrate what leaving whisky in a cask for too long does to the content.

JS: "Have you tasted the Glen Grant?"
OB: "No."
JS: "Here. This is the 1954."
OB: "A bit young... [Sips] Not bad, despite its youth."

Signatory Vintage.

Carsebridge 34yo 1982/2017 (49.9%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, Refill Sherry Butt, C#74603, 169b, b#145): nose: toast. heavily-roasted coconut and toasted bread. Oregano? Marjoram? Mouth: much fruitier, here, with pineapple, dunk in custard. Finish: pineapple, vanilla custard and gently gingery wood. 8/10

Time for food.

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