27 December 2019

26/12/2019 Clearing the shelf #24

As every year, we have a triple birthday to celebrate, and it does not matter that none of the birthday boys is here.

Longmorn 21yo 1997/2019 (52.5%, The Whisky Exchange, Hogshead, C#3300, 72b): nose: it smells like dusty fruit at first, not unlike a Tullibardine. Probably, the fresh glass is to blame, but then, I found face powder the first time, so dust is not impossible. Tangerine, bergamot, plum, mirabelle plum and a soft whiff of beef stock. Moving on, it is soaked sultanas, moist prunes, dates, figs, even, and walnut oil. Later, dark grapes, toasted Brazil nuts, macadamia, oily and nutty, and... raw bacon. Timid nose, though it has a bit to say, if given the right attention. A few sips in, the nose turns bolder, with more pronounced citrus zest, including lime, pomelo and tangerine. I find it slightly fizzy, like a Fanta past its prime. Mouth: sweet and satin-like, it sparsely grows in heat, with a pinch of paprika. Only a pinch, though. The whole is rather mellow, with blood-orange flesh, sangria, Madeira wine and mandarin zest. The second sip sees lemonade and stewed oranges. Finish: a luscious mix of citrus and milk chocolate, with tangerine segments (not quite ripe), Chinese gooseberry, pomelo, mixed peel and maybe even stewed rhubarb. There is a lingering impression of old banana skin and the associated drying character. Very pleasant drop, all in moderation. 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, DW)

Crabbie 40yo (44.5%, John Crabbie & Co., 350b, b.2018): the 30yo, 28yo and 25yo were quite popular, when they came out -- probably because they were allegedly Macallan, peated Macallan, no less. This one is rumoured to be a Glenfarclas, on the other hand. Nose: a Bourbon maturation, in any case; custard powder, glycerine, vanilla pudding and butterscotch. Behind that, almond milk, softly-spiced coconut cream, peach-and-pear yoghurt, mead, digestive biscuits -- soggy digestive biscuits, in fact. Nosing again after the first sip, it has an almost-porridge-y scent to it, quite pleasant, but subdued. Everything in this nose is nuance and subtlety, discretion and effacement. With lots of time, it turns into full-on peach yoghurt, more pronounced than before. Mouth: woah! It is soft to the point I wonder if I am really drinking anything. Almond milk, coconut yoghurt, augmented with a little peach pulp, marzipan in the making (that will be powdered almonds and caster sugar, blending away in the heat), custard cream. Extended breathing brings a drop of pomelo to the mouth, which is most welcome. Finish: almost absent in the finish, I get wafts of glycerine and soft balsa wood, basking in thin custard. After breathing for half an hour, pomelo enters the scene to complement the custard. In fact, one could say it is pomelo-and-peach yoghurt. A fine whisky indeed, and more to my taste than most Glenfarclas, but it needs a lot of time and is a bit nondescript. I think the word is: smooth. 7/10 (Thanks for the sample, SW)

Cooley 11yo 2001/2012 (55.9%, A.D. Rattray Cask Collection imported by Pacific Edge Imports, Barrel, C#3443, 210b): nose: sandalwood and wooden crates, filled with fruits (pears, persimmons, carambolas, fresh figs) and boiled sweets (orange drops, pineapple cubes, crystallised kiwis). A little tree sap comes up too, discreet, before pork sausages join it. Then it goes back to fruit -- mince pies, in this case, which, considering the date, is rather topical. Speaking of topical, more topical fuit appea too: banana, mango peels, satsuma peels and cooked fruit (marmalade and rum-toft). Mouth: lively, almost green, with flowering currant barely masking the expected fruit. Lots of warm marmalade, stewed rhubarb, poached peaches, tinned apricots, fig paste, cranberry compote (though not quite so acidic). It is also spicy and woody in perfect doses -- cigar boxes and a pinch of grated ginger, as well as ground grapefruit peel. Finish: more fruit, fresher too, and a gentle woodiness. In no particular order, we have peaches, canary melon, jackfruit, persimmon, pomegranate, banana, soaked in rum, and cantaloupe skins to match the cigar boxes. What a lovely dram! Glad to have bought a bottle when I had a chance. Now empty, unfortunately. 8/10

Happy birthday, MD, FH, JPH.

23 December 2019

22/12/2019 A story about Laphroaig

Recently, I bought a bottle of Laphroaig. The 31yo 1974/2006 OB for La Maison du Whisky, to be precise. I will not disclose the price or the seller to protect the innocents, but let us cut to the chase: it was a fake.

ruckus picked up the bottle for me from the seller's, brought it home and did some research (he is a bit of a geek too, and I suspect he wanted to find out the market rate). He warned me of the oddities he had spotted, for example the fact that the label was not smoothly glued to the glass and had some creases -- something I had noticed on the pictures the seller gave me, but that I had attributed to the Scots' occasional lack of attention to detail regarding what many north of the border still see as nothing more than a bottle of booze.

The other things were more difficult to spot on a collection of imperfect photographs. We discussed on the phone and decided we would look into it a couple of days later, when meeting at dom666's. The reason is simple: dom666 has that bottle. He bought it in 2006, when it came out, opened it immediately (as he does) and shared it (as he does). The authenticity of dom666's bottle suffers absolutely no doubt. With a side-by-side comparison, ruckus and I were confident we could put our suspicions to bed... or start crying.

As it turns out, I was about to start crying indeed.

In green, bottle #652, dom666's bottle, 100% genuine.
In red, bottle #554, my recently-acquired bottle, under scrutiny.

The shoulder label on #554 is creased

Front label of #554. Too much glue, too generously applied

#652
"1974" is shiny silver
"31" has a shadow
#554
"1974" is flat grey
"31" is solid black

Front label on #554 has a different font for "70cl e" (and a rogue space between "70" and "cl").
The paper is also a different grain

The font is different in many places.
The position of the text is different.
#652's "49.7%" has become "49,7%" on #554

"Bottle No." font on #652
"Bottle No." font on #554

Text position and font differ between #652 and #554

The back labels have rounded corners on #652, square on #554

Bottom corners of the back labels differ too -- rounded vs. square

Bottom code is "A10" on #652
Bottom code is "B23" on #554
It also does not bear the "UD" logo

Even the back-label's Grüne Punkt logos differ.
Most importantly, this shot shows the difference in colours.
On the right, #652 has spent 31 years in sherry casks and is accordingly dark.
On the left, #554 is clearly not the same juice: the bottle is full,
yet see-through

No confusion possible: bottle #554 was a fake.
If I were to venture a guess, I would say it is a 10yo Laphroaig with doctored labels. The neck/stopper seal is probably the most difficult part to believably counterfeit, and the 31yo has the same seal as the 10yo.

I spoke to the seller that very night and let him know. He was surprised and not a little annoyed at the discovery, having paid a hefty sum himself to buy it from a seller he trusted -- who, it turned out, would not accept that the bottle is a fake, despite the incriminating evidence above.

I was very fortunate that my seller agreed to take the bottle back and reimburse me, thereby avoiding complications on my end. All it cost me in the end is time, the embarrassment of sending a friend on an errand for no positive outcome, a lot of stress and a disappointment. The whole thing could have been much more unpleasant, had the seller not accepted his responsibility as a seller.
I do hope he gets compensation for his loss as well.

The morale of the story is this: whisky, in 2019, generated loads of money. It will probably go on in 2020. That attracts lots of people who want a piece of the action. Some will buy and hoard, some will buy and swap, some will buy and sell, some will make and sell counterfeits for those who are so keen to buy.
My point is not that everyone is out to rip you off. My point is that, in their quest for a return on investment, some will buy and sell things they do not fully understand. They will buy and sell things for large sums of money without being able to assess their authenticity.
Sometimes, the counterfeit is of such quality that it takes an expert to spot it. Sometimes, the counterfeit is vulgar, but the buyer lets their guard down, excited to find a bargain. Sometimes, an expert will overlook a fake bottle and mistakenly file it under the not-worth-counterfeiting category. Example: another fake once went through tOMoH's shelves, after being bought from a respectable auction house: a 30yo Strathisla bottled by Gordon & MacPhail, on which the label had obviously suffered a bit from rogue glue, and at the bottom of which the glass read: "Product of Barbados."
Ahem.

I have no advice to give, here. I feel simply obliged to call for attention and care -- nay! vigilance, when buying a bottle, especially an expensive one. Fakes do exist. And they do not only affect others.

Right. You will remember I vowed to never post anything without a tasting note, so here it is. It will not be the Laphroaig 31yo Sherry OB for La Maison du Whisky, as I do not have it. Let us have another Laphroaig for La Maison du Whisky from a Sherry cask.

Laphroaig 15yo 1998/2014 (61.6%, Signatory Vintage for La Maison du Whisky, Sherry Butt, C#700356, 554b): nose: obviously a peaty-sherry profile, with ash, petrol, lamp oil and pressed raisins. I suppose others would find it medicinal -- and indeed, it has a bit of germoline and iodine, -- but it mostly has oilskins, in my opinion. Oilskins left to bake in the summer sun for a little too long, rubbery and crackly, dusty computer cables from a forgotten 1990s box of tricks. The third sniff sees a touch of pencil erasers, watercolour and earthy tones that grow and grow; we are talking about mudflats and bogs, moss water and fresh peat. Although powerful at first sniff, the sherry influence takes a back seat rather quickly. After the first sip, the nose seems much dryer, with smoked-hard-cheese rind, burnt cherry stones and scorched earth. Mouth: woah! It is huge. Burning embers, white-hot metal, with a generous dose of exhaust fumes too. Soon, however, the sherry maturation becomes obvious again, with drinks cabinets and fortified wines aplenty (PX, Port, Madeira). Chilli-infused chocolate sauce... It does remind me of a Mexican recipe for chocolate-sauce chicken, so it would be tomato, cocoa powder and habañero chilli, maybe a couple of sultanas, thrown in for balance and burning Virginia tobacco. The chocolate note comes back, with dark pralines and chocolate-coated almonds. Finish: more subtle in the finish than the palate might have suggested, it is by no stretch of the imagination a shy whisky. Coal, chimney-sweep broom, peat reek, smoked-crab shell, smoked almonds, Brazil-nut oil and apple smoked cheese. The second sip feels softer, sweeter, with soaked raisins (soaked in mud, that is!), fresh peat, celeriac, earthy roots and all, moist tree-bark chips and smoked chocolate -- chocolate-coated smoked almonds, maybe? Well, it is not the 31yo (few things are), but it is a perfectly good dram, this! 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, OB)

16 December 2019

15/12/2019 A few disparate samples

CD sent me a sample, a while ago. My intention was to review it before anyone else. I failed when whiskyfun.com posted a review for it. Nae matter. Time to try it regardless. Let us make it a session, whilst we are at it.

Littlemill 28yo 1990/2019 (50.7%, Cadenhead Single Cask, Bourbon Hogshead, 282b): this one, I did manage to get my hands on, before it was sold to someone else by mistake, much to my disappointment. At least, I get to try it. Nose: watercolour and waxy fruit (apricot), yet that quickly disappears to make room for a herbaceous touch that harks back to bottlings of Littlemill from fifteen-twenty years ago. Geraniums (should be gerania, really), flowering currants, green tomatoes, Kafir lime leaves and agave. The second nosing brings creamy cheese to the fore -- cheese made from cow's milk, that is. Mouth: fresh and rather leafy (with ivy, agave again, laurel), it still has the acidity of citrus, ripe lemon, to be precise, accompanied by lemon mint (mentha aquatica), apple mint and pear pulp. Perhaps the palate sees some pine influence -- Douglas fir, in that case, lemon-y and fresh. Finish: here is where it is at, with a discharge of sweet fruits: kumquat, persimmon, yellow peach, greengage, Chinese gooseberry and grapefruit, in the back, gently bitter, on top of the acidity associated with the fruits. Even further back, a drop of mocha seems to materialise, which is as pleasant as it is unexpected. The whole gets creamier with every sip, giving fruity yoghurt. Yum! The nose and palate suggested a slightly-lesser Littlemill. The finish brought it all back in line. 9/10 (Thanks for the sample, SW)

Fettercairn 30yo 1988/2019 (56.9%, Signatory Vintage for C. Dully Selection, Hogshead, C#2007, 219b): nose: oooh! Old nuts! It has polished dashboards, linseed oil, crushed Brazil nuts, roasted peanuts, walnut oil, hazelnut paste -- this is nutty, nutty, nutty! The second sniff brings more floral and herbal tones, such as Marigold tagetes, gorse bushes, tomato stems, and a pinch of soil. Lastly, a mix of satsuma foliage and spinach enter the scene, as well as mercurochrome. Odd, but it works. Much later, it is unripe apricot that rears its head. Mouth: a distant bitterness of plant stems (dandelions) and foliage. That only lasts for seconds, though, as ginger is quick to take control -- not intrusively, but assertively. Orange zest, sandalwood, pistachio shells, and a tiny glass of dry white wine (Riesling). It warms the tip of the tongue, this one! The second sip is more bitter, with ivy leaves (back to herbaceous, then). Finish: nuts, here too, with lots of walnuts (skins on), almonds (skins on), crushed Brazill nuts (skins on), butterscotch, treacle, even, and still a leafy note; not quite sure if it is ivy or Virginia creeper, but it brings complexity and originality. The second sip welcomes more wine-y notes: fino sherry, Pedro Ximénez or Port, sweet, syrupy and fruity. Not an easy one! It can feel all over the place, even shaky. However, if one is not looking for an obvious malt that plays one loud note, this is hugely interesting and, ultimately, rewarding. 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, CD)

The next one blind.

Nose: the bouquet of a well-aged Burgundy. Earth, leather and dried grapes. Soon, it morphs to reveal farm-y tones -- farm paths, tractor saddles, dry fields, hay bales under the August sun. Salt then joins in and it it is focaccia, with sea salt and rosemary. Next up are cardboard, old books and blotting paper. It could very well be the library in an old Italian farm, in the kitchen of which the farmer's wife has been making focaccia. Three sniffs in, it becomes a blend of ink and merbromin, softly medicinal, on top of being farm-y and literary. Mouth: the attack is subtle and I have a hard time believing it is north of 60% (the ABV is written on the label). It has apple juice, hessian sacks, strong wine, Madeira style, though much dryer. Baked potatoes, sea salt and timid smoke -- Lapsang Souchong, bonfires, gunpowder. Finish: the supposed pedigree (remember: I am trying it blind) is more obvious, here, with a lot of dry, ashy peat (Ardbeg?) and noticeable horsepower. It is by no means overly peaty; quite balanced, on the contrary, with very-dry earth, hay, spent incense, fishing nets (Caol Ila?) and hot sand. Maybe a little coal gas, with a drop of diesel, exhaust fumes, cordite and an old tractor's engine, rusty and smokey. This might very well be from Campbeltown, actually. Ballechin 12yo 2005/2018 (61.5%, Signatory Vintage The Un-Chillfiltered Collection selected for the Whisky Barrel, Refill Sherry Hogshead, C#160, 291b) 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, Gaija)

13 December 2019

12/12/2019 DW's birthday bash at Cadenhead's

Even though I missed last year's shindig, DW invited me again. I join VK, PP, EC, BC, BB, MSo, PS, JS, Cavalier66, SW, DW and a couple of others for an evening of dramming. The pace is quick and the menu is long, so the notes are short and not always very inventive.

SW: "Tonight, we've got kosher pork..."

Speyside-Glenlivet 26yo 1991/2018 (48.9%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 324b, 18/65)
Nose: rather shy, with a faint hint of cinnamon, marzipan taken out of the heat too soon and dry laundry, warmed by sun rays.
Mouth: soft, it has some bubblegum, squashed raspberries and nougat.
Finish: very soft, comfortable, with hot nougat and shy squashed fruit. This is the perfect starter, if a little forgettable, perhaps. 7/10

Cambus 30yo 1988/2019 (46.1%, Cadenhead Single Cask, Bourbon Hogshead, 300b, 19/209)
I know to stay away from this (the dreaded Cambus headache) and offer PS my share. Being a sucker, he accepts. Being a generous sucker, he lets me sniff it. Nose: Jaffa cakes (not quite the same quality as PiMM's, but same concept), but fresher and stuffed with lime, not orange. Also toffee (PS) and grated coconut.

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 22yo 1996/2019 (49.7%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 3 x Bourbon Hogsheads, 966b, 19/200)
Nose: pan-seared apples and apricots, pressed hazel shavings and sweet barley.
Mouth: velvety, fruity, with apricot jam and caramelised peaches.
Finish: a gentle liquorice-y bitterness to wrap up lovely hot apricot. One of the best 'rothes this side of 1970. 8/10

Royal Brackla 10yo 2008/2019 (56.3%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 294b, 19/106)
Nose: acidic on the nose, with unripe grapes and green hazelnut.
Mouth: green, grassy, hay-like, with pressed, unripe grapes.
Finish: long, it has more hay, hay bales, even. It warms me up, this one, but it is not a class act. 6/10

SW: "In fact... shall we open a Tormore 30yo?"

Tormore 30yo 1988/2019 (48.4%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Hogshead, 162b, 19/450)
Nose; a mild touch of soft wood and manly sweat. The sweat disappears quickly (phew!), making room for fleshy grapes and yellow plums.
Mouth: mellow, with soft wood, bellflowers and nutty honey.
Finish: mild, it has more bellflowers, mushy peach flesh and hazelnut paste. Lovely. 8/10

There have been three thirty-year-old Tormores, this month, on top of the one at the warehouse tasting, during the festival and another Authentic Collection, earlier in the year. Cavalier wonders how many Tormores one needs. How can one have too much of this, though?

Cavalier66: "It's a bit like that book..."
BC: "What book?"
Cavalier66: "The bible. The one where they go cracking codes..."
BC: "Da Vinci Code!"

Loch Lomond 12yo 2007/2019 (53.3%, Cadenhead specially bottled for Cadenhead's Whisky Market Cologne, finished in Fresh Oloroso Sherry Cask, 276b, 19/384)
Nose: mud, muck, leather and red wine, on the verge of turning into vinegar. Later, burnt bacon appears.
Mouth: milder than the nose suggested, it has leather and crispy bacon.
Finish: sooooo earthy, with tatted leather, prune juice, charred ribs and charcoal. It is on the edge for me, but it is OK. Some will love this, I bet. Ze Djermans, probably. 7/10

Akashi Cabernet Franc Cask (61%, OB, Cabernet Franc Cask, C#61791, W6858)
Nose: overly flowery, with jasmine and daffodils. Heady.
Mouth: soft and velvety, with more flowers and white peach.
Finish: weird. It starts out alright, flowery. It becomes difficult pretty quickly, though, with gun oil and vinegar. Not necessarily bad per se, but they clash with the flowers in a way that is painful. Argh! This does not make me want to explore the White Oak distillery. 5/10 (Thanks for the dram, BB)

Mystery Dram #1
Nose: fresh, minty, with a bit of hemp. It opens up to reveal strawberries.
Mouth: soft, it has plum juice and fluffy grapes, very ripe.
Finish: the same fruitiness and a copious dose of green pepper.
Imperial 29yo 1990/2019 (53.3%, Elixir Distillers The Single Malts of Scotland, Barrel, C#934, 160b) 8/10 (Thanks for the dram, DW)

Mystery Dram #3
Nose: perfume-y, with face powder and citrus peel.
Mouth: soft and velvety, it has more face powder and pink peach.
Finish: juicy and fruity, the finish sees white peach and white (or very-pale) grapefruit.
Longmorn 21yo 1997/2019 (52.5%, The Whisky Exchange, Hogshead, C#3300, 72b) 8/10 (Thanks for the dram, DW)

Mystery Dram #2
Nose: plaster glue, icing sugar and soft pastry.
Mouth: mellow, with confectionery sugar, crushed peach and pink grapefruit, a drop of nail-varnish remover and cracked pepper.
Finish: hot, peppery peach turnovers, sprinkled with dried rosemary.
Triple-distilled malt from an undisclosed Campbeltown distillery. Wonder which one that could be... Hazelburn 21yo 1997/2019 (55%, Whisky Sponge Edition #2, ex-Bourbon Barrel, 178b) 8/10 (Thanks for the dram, DW)

CB: "This is dirty as fuck!"
tOMoH: "You are dirty as fuck!"

37.65 29yo d.1985 Bursting with interest and imaginings (46.5%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Bourbon Hogshead, 192b)
Nose: jasmine and warm cut peach, before it turns to cardboard, with maraschino cherry in the background.
Mouth: quite soft, pillow-y, with fluffy mandarins and plums.
Finish: soft, with mirabelle plum, satsuma and blotting paper. 7/10 (Thanks for the dram, BC)

CB: "You are a lovely man"!
tOMoH: "I'd marry myself, if I could. Or as Human Resource said: WANNA KISS MYSELF!"
JS: "I was about to say that!"

93.22 14yo 1992/2006 Heavenly harbour (61.1%, SMWS Society Cask)
Nose: salty and sooty, metallic and brutally dusty. Metal filings, burnt dust and dried ink, diesel.
Mouth: hot, beastly, this is the inside of a fishing trawler, with dust, metal and fisherman's sweat all in. The kind of Scotia I love. Intimidating and characterful, without being overpowered by a sherry cask.
Finish: a slap of peaty dust in the mouth, cured meat, hairballs, metal filings and salt. 8/10 (Thanks for the dram, PS)

DW: "We always toast to my dad, who passed away four years ago..."
MSo: "It's my birthday on Sunday."
VK: "Don't make it about you!"

Springbank 21yo b.2013 (46%, OB, 13/01)
Nose: sweaty feet, dark soda and a fruity layer takes off (overripe peach, mango, blood orange).
Mouth: soft (46%, in this position in the line-up!), mellow, it has plum flesh, peach and a gentle woodiness.
Finish: a little dusty and bitter, with verdigris, polished walnut tree and soaked plums. 8/10 (Thanks for the dram, Cavalier66)

Springbank 7yo 2012/2019 (58.5%, Duty Paid Sample, Refill ex-Bourbon Barrel, Rotation #596, Warehouse #15)
Nose: powerful, it has vinegar, wine, and some dusty warehouse smells, then nutty dirt, then dirty feet. Hm.
Mouth: custard-y, porridge-y, it has... well, hot custard and hot porridge. Not super complex on the tongue, perhaps.
Finish: full, here, with salted beef, jerky and spicy gherkins. 7/10 (Thanks for the dram, PP)

Barrels of fun. Lots to drink. A relaxed atmosphere. Perhaps too relaxed -- we were asked to calm down a bit, as it is a residential area and the noise was becoming too much. Not surprising either, as there was much to sample. I did not even try JS's 125.55, PS's 26.90, J's Longrow 11 Cadenhead Port Cask and others.

Happy birthday, DW!

9 December 2019

08/12/2019 London MkIII

Back to London-related whiskies. Incredible to realise that it has been three and a half years since the previous time!

GL, PS, BA, CB and JS join me for some bad punnage. :-)

And a dram or thirteen, obviously

The soundtrack: Lustmord - First Reformed (Extended Motion Picture Soundtrack)

J&B 15yo Reserve (40%, Justerini & Brooks imported by Anglo Español AED, G80356) (BA): "Because what says. 'London' more than J&B, in St James's?" asks BA. Berry Bros, of course! It is important to note that CB and his bottles have not yet arrived, at this point. Nose: crushed green hazelnut shells and dried sage. Mouth: sweet caramel, cough lozenges, blackcurrant and elderberry drops, a touch of liquorice, perhaps. Finish: pleasant enough, if unpretentious. Some nuts, some cut peaches, distant tobacco and quince jam. Nice. Much better than the NAS expression. I can see why people drink this: it is an accessible-but-not-uninteresting dram. 6/10

Ledaig 1974/2000 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Rare Old, JJ/CB) (tOMoH): Rare Old Street. Out of a collection of far-fetched theme connections, this was one of the weakest, but I really wanted to pour this Ledaig. Nose: strawberry bubblegum, a couple of grains of ground cinnamon (yes, it is that faint), crystallised blood oranges, dried-raspberry rinds, a touch of wax (CB) and buttery apricots. Mouth: mildly acidic, it has lots and lots of fruit -- strawberry, raspberry, dried banana slices, candied lemons, pineapple cubes. BA finds leather, while I chase dried orange peel -- blood orange. A tiny pinch of soot reminds me that this is an old distillate and that the malt was probably peat dried to a degree. Finish: similarly fruity, here, with smoke being but a fading memory. A mostly-fruity dram with an old-school twang. Love it. 9/10

PS: "I always set the alarm. What is the joy of ignoring the alarm, if you don't set it?"

The soundtrack: The Cure - Disintegration

Linkwood 26yo 1987/2013 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd Selected by Berrys', C#1043) (CB): CB proves once and for all that Berry Bros is Londoner than J&B -- it even reads, 'London' on the label (so does J&B, truth be told). CB could have gone for Linkwood Green, of course, but in his quest for a green Christmas tree, he has not thought of that. Tsk. Nose: fresh, it has cut quince and crushed mint, toothpaste, almost (blue minty gel, of course). Mouth: it feels a little watery, but also very nice and fruity, with soft conference pear and fleshy peach. Finish: fruity again, it is complemented by the slight bitterness of burnt wood and drying orange segments. 8/10

London Distillery Company 3yo 2015/2018 (63.5%, OB 109 Cask Edition for Philip Storry, ex-Bourbon American Oak 20l Cask, 28b, b#27) (PS): well, London, innit! How PS managed to get a bottle of that extremely-limited run made for one individual is a mystery. Nose: herbs and marzipan, as well as minty chocolate, After Eight style. Mouth: strong, but soft, in terms of flavours (hence its position in the line-up). It has herbs and a mix of nuts and dried fruits. Finish: now almost medicinal, so present are the herbs, though it retains a grilled-marzipan touch which I like a lot. This is much better than I anticipated. 7/10

Killer choc, courtesy of GL and BA
Killer crisps, courtesy of JS

GL takes control of the floor to explain he only started drinking whisky (and kicked the Irn Bru habit) when he moved to London. To celebrate that, he brought something from his hometown. And since he could not choose, he brought two.

Garnheath 44yo 1974/2018 (45.8%, Douglas Laing Xtra Old Particular, Refill Barrel, C#DL12373, 141b, b#057) (GL): Garnheath is always a treat, and GL is not the only fanboi of the distillery in the room... :-) PS finds what he thinks is a better connection: Garn-Hampstead-Heath. Nose: very intensely herbaceous, with tarragon, crushed sage, bay leaves, yet also dried mushrooms and corn syrup. Mouth: mellow at first, it turns aromatic, almost medicinal, whilst retaining the sweet, syrupy edge. A strange combination, but it works a treat, never turning vulgar like, say, Canadian whisky can be. Finish: sweet, caramel-y, and corn-syrupy, it is long and well balanced, with just what it takes of herbs to save it from being overly sweet. 8/10

vs.

Glenflagler 23yo 1972/1996 (51.3%, Signatory Vintage, C#228442, 255b, b#144, 96/1243) (GL): a treat, or what? BA and CB admit this is their first Glenflagler -- I can sense some showing off at school on Monday! :-) GL, JS and I had one with OB about a year ago, though that was a different vintage. I am not a little excited myself. Nose: on one hand, it is rather fruity; on the other, it smells of sweaty feet. Later, a chalky side appears, alongside squashed strawberries, wooden crates of cider apples and a lick of a leather belt (whatever floats one's boat, eh?) Mouth: oh! yes, smoked cider apples, cut pears, old wooden crates again and, perhaps, leather mocassins. What a balance this one strikes! I would love to spend more time with it to write more, but really, this here, in these circumstances, is perfect. Amazeboulanger. 9/10

The soundtrack: Harold Budd ▪ Elizabeth Fraser ▪ Robin Guthrie ▪ Simon Raymonde - The Moon And The Melodies

PS blends both (fifty-fifty), thereby creating a single blend. The nose has a waxy mix of apples, wood and herbs; the mouth reaches an even better balance than the individual components, with white peach and apricot, while the finish is long and fruity, sweet and well balanced. If you can afford it, try this at home. :-) 8/10

Bunnahabhain 40yo 1978/2019 (51.6%, Masam, Butt, C#7229, 520b, b#498) (CB): CD announces: "I tried to to find a pun for this, but I Bunnahaven't a clue." After a few moments to catch my breath from all the laughing, I venture Bunna-Hill Row. Anyway. Nose: beef stock, oxtail broth, cured meat, Chinese cuisine, slightly-pickled red onions. It is also rather dusty and vinegar-y, dirty, weedy (BA) and meaty. The back nose welcomes dusty marzipan. Mouth: it is more herbaceous, here, with gentian (CB), lozenges and mint -- minty lozenges, then. Finish: warmer than expected, it has little of the vinegar, but a lot of the dust and gentian. The mint has all but gone. Cured ham pays a visit -- or is it pastrami, maybe? 8/10

BA: "Mountain herbs."
PS: "Is that why you got banned from the shop? Mounting herbs?"

St George Bishopsgate Barrel b.2016 (56.7%, The Whisky Exchange Straight from the Cask) (GL): it reads, 'Bishopsgate,' though it should really be, 'Billingsgate,' where the festival took place where this was sold. Nose: not much else than wood, for a couple of sniffs. Then, toffee and clotted cream appear (CB and BA) and old, faded cinnamon sticks. Mouth: dry and woody, with oaken chips, faded galangal, maybe even dry lemongrass. It turns creamier and creamier, almost yoghurt-y. Finish: wood influences here too, but fruit starts to shine as well (baked apples and baked apricots). 7/10

PS: "Most embarrassing moment of my lifetime..."
BA: "He's only talking about whisky!"
CB: "Glad we clarified."
PS: "Not talking about that evening in a gimp suit..."

The soundtrack: Gridlock - Trace

Miltonduff 15yo 1995/2011 (56.3%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve imported by Classic Wines Imports for Park Avenue Liquor Shop, 1st Fill Bourbon Barrel, C#9461, 198b, b#120, AH/ABBB) (tOMoH): Miltondufferin Street has already been done, so I go for Milton Keynes-duff, which is quickly pointed out as not being part of London. Of course, it is not, but PS's proposed connection about bodies in Bunnhill Fields being duff is even worse. CB notes that it is, "bottled for Park Avenue Liquor Shop. But if that were a British company, it would be called: Park Lane Off-Licence." :-) Nose: fruit and earth and a rather steady flow of sulphur. Custard is also present, as well as pear slices served on a wooden stave. Mouth: metals, sage, cut peaches. It becomes bitter in the long run, though it still has fruity yoghurt. Finish: earthy, leathery, bacon-y, almost. I also find it hairy, with hairballs, stuck down the sink pipe, and metallic sage. This disappoints me, today. PS, on the other hand, loves it. 6/10


JS: "Is Mr. C not part of the Shamen?"
BA: "I may have mistakenly added some Shamen tracks to my playlist..."
me: "Shamen you!"

BA: "If you go to the live chat of TWE, chances are it's me."
JS: "It's not a bot?"
me: "Billy's Ab-bot!"

The Clyne-Lee-ish River. PS had this tenuous connection for his own contribution. When she saw it, JS went for her own bottle to do a side-by-side exercise.

26.90 27yo d.1984 Elegant, subtle, balanced -- in total harmony (55.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 508b) (PS): nose: waxy plums, mirabelle plums, a touch of soot or charcoal dust, nail varnish... It is really old-school fruit and coal scents, 1937 style. Mouth: soft, mildly waxy, it has loads of juicy fruits and a pinch of soot again. Later, red-chilli powder also rears its head. Finish: without going into details, this is the perfect blend of fruit and soot. It turns fruitier in the long run, with dusty fruit (quince, apricot), in the fashion of the best Tullibardines. 9/10

vs.

26.93 28yo d.1984 Cottage garden beside a church (56.1%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Butt, 352b) (JS): nose: similar, but different, it has crushed crayons, super-waxy plums and white peaches. It becomes fruitier and fruitier as time passes, with a backbone of gentle soot. Mouth: dusty, sooty, acidic, it has dried orange peels, butter lemon-drizzle cake, and slices of peach, sprinkled with a pinch of salt. Finish: long, huge, very sooty at first sip, it becomes fruitier with time. Amazing too! 9/10

Alcoholic wombat in full effect

PS: "Wait! You're saying what I like about Brora is asbestos?"
JS: "Where is asbestos on the Pentland wheel?"

The soundtrack: The Moles - Untune The Sky

CB: "Why are you talking about Clynelish?"
PS+BA: "You've just had two..."
CB: "What?"
[PS points at the bottles]
CB: "I thought they were Caol Ilas..."

71.41 17yo 1998/2015 Curious and Intriguing (57.2%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Refill ex-Sherry Gorda, 720b) (BA): distillery 71, because 071 used to be the dialling code for London until 1995. Geeky or what? Nose: a trace of sulphur and lots of meat, spicy sponge cake (BA), nail varnish. Boy! This is so meaty, it might as well be a Mortlach. Mouth: milk chocolate at first, before red meat invades, slowly but surely. It gains some rancio, at some point, and bloody roast beef (to be eaten with fucking potatoes, of course). Dripping blood, really. Finish: dried dates and figs, prunes, raisins, glazed chestnuts and fruity fortified wine. In fact, liqueur pralines, overly stuffed with liqueur -- Edle Tropfen Obstliköre). Huge. Wine-y. Meaty. It is good and interesting, but over the top for my taste. 6/10

BA: "Don't excite PS!"
me: "Everything I say seems to excite PS!"
BA: "I wouldn't take that as a compliment..."
PS: "Don't get big-headed about it."

BA: "PS, are you stage-managing some kind of sexual-assault picture?"

PS: "I wasn't getting on with rich things -- sherried and Woodford Reserve."

The soundtrack: Gridlock - Further

Glendullan 16yo b.1998 (65.9%, OB for the distillery's centenary, b#000210) (tOMoH): Glendullan is, of course, one of the original seven stills of Dufftown. Dufferin-town Street (yes, recycling). Nose: mush shyer than anything before, it seems, this one has hay, straw, dried apple slices, plantain and even ink. Amazingly enough, it is not overly expressive -- the aromas are perhaps smothered by the frightening ABV. Mouth: powerful, but actually rather soft, with hay and straw, porridge, hay bales, burnt straw and a lawn after a heatwave. Finish: similar notes of hay and porridge -- the power is impressive, though. Then again, it does not burn or anaesthetise as much as one might expect. It does tingle and last forever and a day, delivering notes of hot porridge. This one is not particularly complex, but it is a fitting ending to this tasting. 7/10

What a session again!