31 August 2019

29/08/2019 September outturn at Cadenhead's

Lots of W, fast-paced, in good company, but standing. No sample of the Creations that we can try. Only samples of the Tomatin and the Craigellachie, not full bottles, hence missing information. Live with it.

Glenburgie-Glenlivet 27yo 1992/2017 (48.9%, Cadenhead Single Cask, 1 x Bourbon Hogshead, 222b)
Nose: straw and Virginia tobacco, freshly-shampooed hair and lovely, warm tart.
Mouth: juicy and fruity, it has peach and pressed apricot.
Finish: juicy again, mellow, it has warm apricot turnovers and a hint of metal.
Comment: lovely start! 8/10

Glen Spey-Glenlivet 17yo 2001/2019 (53.3%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 2 x Bourbon Hogsheads, 546b)
Nose: very mineral, with flint, limestone, ink, thyme and soft smoke.
Mouth: mellow, reeking of crayons and warm mayonnaise. I know.
Finish: earthy, giving out black fruit and menthol.
Comment: mellow and very good. 8/10

Tomatin 10yo 2009/2019 (57.7%, Cadenhead Small Batch, Bourbon Hogsheads)
Nose: plum, overripe and soft, fleshy, juicy. The nose also emits a note of earth.
Mouth: a little astringent. Fruity, with a blend of apple and plum, but also stripping lemon juice (or is it grapefruit?)
Finish: big, plummy and not bad at all.
Comment: perhaps not ripe enough for my liking. 7/10

Knockdhu 9yo 2010/2019 (56.2%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 3 x Bourbon Hogsheads, 888b)
Nose: strong and spirit-y, before it turns full-on wax and plasticine. Oh! And a discreet whiff of smoke too.
Mouth: wax again, with shiny apricot peels.
Finish: long, it coats the mouth with a waxy layer.
Comment: nice, very drinkable. 7/10

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 22yo 1996/2019 (50.1%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 3 x Bourbon Hogsheads, 942b)
Nose: flowery, with lovely violets and minty cardboard.
Mouth: minty too, it has more flower petals to complement.
Finish: hot and minty, with mint lozenges and mentholated cough drops.
Comment: wow, a good 'rothes! 8/10

For comparison, SW pours this one, from last month.

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 21yo 1997/2019 (57.1%, Cadenhead Sherry Cask, Sherry Butt, 510b)
Nose: very different, of course, this is hairy and leathery, yet it has the now-familiar menthol touch as well.
Mouth: thick, with cloying toffee and... mint. Suggestion? Not sure, but the note seems too assertive for me to simply imagine it.
Finish: fresh, coastal, with a softly meaty side to it. It becomes drying in the long run.
Comment: pretty good too, but the Small Batch edges it for me. 7/10

Benrinnes 21yo 1997/2019 (58.7%, Cadenhead Single Cask, 1 x Bourbon Barrel, 156b)
Nose: damp clay floor, dunnage warehouse, then perfume, with jasmine and fresh tea leaves.
Mouth: fresh, it has the trademark forest floor and pine cones.
Finish: fruity, it ends with a mix of yellow fruits and nuts.
Comment: unsurprisingly nice. Those Benrinnes have become recognised for their quality and sought after. 8/10

Craigellachie-Glenlivet 10yo (54%, Cadenhead Small Batch)
Nose: spirit-y, it soon reveals tanned leather and smokey rum (!) Yes, I find it slightly petrolic. The Caroni of the whisky world.
Mouth: characterful, it has leather, faded to oblivion and... green-leaf salad.
Finish: it feels peaty in the finish, or certainly very earthy. Farmyard, Dirndl and a cow's backside.
Comment: this is interesting. An alternative to a lightly-peated Bunnahabhain, perhaps? 7/10

Cambus 28yo 1991/2019 (55.8%, Cadenhead Single Cask, 1 x Bourbon Hogshead, 276b)
Nose: metallic pastry. Is this a headache-inducer? Raw dough, apple turnover and distant custard.
Mouth: mellow, with custard and warm apple tart.
Finish: super creamy, is has lots of custard and squashed bananas.
Comment: I love it... today. Let us see tomorrow how the head feels... Well, it does not feel well. It is a Cambus that strips my tongue and gives me a headache, no matter how little I sip. Downgraded by a point, but that is only my reaction to it. 7/10

Ord 13yo 2006/2019 (53.3%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 1 x Bourbon & 1 x Madeira Hogsheads, 588b)
Nose: fruity, with citrus overflowing through the cork, ripe satsuma and mandarin.
Mouth: mellow, chock-full of citrus again, with juicy tangerine and satsuma.
Finish: long and fruity, with more citrus. Others find salt in it, but I think they have been drinking.
Comment: I love this. The best Ord in a year that has seen many. Perhaps longer. But then, it is a combination of Bourbon and Madeira casks, which make for an original profile. 8/10

Balblair 8yo 2011/2019 (57.8%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 1 x Puncheon re-racked into 2 x 1st Fill Sherry Hogsheads, 648b)
Nose: another leathery number, with also old rags, super-fresh liquorice and gingery wood pulp.
Mouth: Gocce Pino, pine needles, forest floor and liquorice. This is woody alright.
Finish: cinnamon, ginger, liquorice.
Comment: so young and past its best, in my opinion. Too woody for me, tonight. Pity, because one does not come across Balblair every day.7/10

Bowmore 17yo 2002/2019 (53.6%, Cadenhead Single Cask, 1 x Bourbon Hogshead, 294b)
Nose: ink, mud, squid ink, wet sands. None of the anticipated citrus, but the vase and brine one would expect to smell on Cthulhu's tentacles. It opens up to overlook earthy farm paths. Much later, some fruit comes through.
Mouth: spicy and inky, it has the intensity of citrus, but none of the taste... until the second sip, which brings fruit at last (papaya and jackfruit).
Finish: very long, salty and a little peaty -- no! Very peaty, with a notch of fruit down the back, upon second sip.
Comment: initially, I think I was expecting more. The second sip meets my expectations. 8/10

Very good outturn, once again. Young drams that give older things a run for their money.

20 August 2019

17/08/2019 Dystopia

Datz right. Two tastings in one day.

sonicvince invited the gang to his neck of the woods, with promises of a barbecue. The forecast is rainy, so prospects of an al-fresco meal are well quelled. kruuk2 called off earlier in the week, whereas dom666 is stuck in bed with the flu (blonde or brunette, we will never know, though we all know he prefers red-heads). Oh! and the national-rail unions are striking to boot, which threatens ruckus's attendance -- he is dedicated, though, and makes it with no trouble. adc, JS and I arrive late, on the other hand. Woops!
sonicvince is a sucker... for dystopias. Barjavel, Philip K. Dick, Terry Gilliam all have his favours. But bringing Jura 1984. was simply too easy. As was 12 Monkey Shoulder.

Psycho presents: 19...
(it is in two parts, the second of which will be the last dram today).

Glenburgie 19yo 1995/2015 (46%, Signatory Vintage for Direct Wines First Cask, 197b, L15/528) (Psycho): yup, only because it is 19 years old. Nose: more discreet than in my memory (this seemed amazing at Burns' Night, this year), it ends up opening to reveal fruit (apricot jam), though it remains soft-spoken. Mouth: here, the fruit speaks louder, with caramelised apricot jams and a gentle acidity. Finish: magnificently jammy with a touch of metal. I do not spend much time on it, but it is beautiful. 9/10

Upon seeing the next one, I guess e-Scapa from New York. I am wrong.

Psycho presents: The Orkney Island.
Orkney is an archipelago, formed of several... islands.

Scapa 16yo (40%, OB, LKRA1067, b.2010) (Psycho): nose: soft, sweet and gently saline, it has honey-glazed chestnuts. Mouth: a little watery in the mouth, to be honest, it has honey, barley water and caramel. Finish: sweet, with caramel and honey-glazed corn, and perhaps a touch of butterscotch. Simple, but efficient. 7/10

ruckus presents: West Cork World

West Cork 12yo (43%, West Cork Distillers, Port Casks, 13516) (ruckus): nose: strong accents of herbs and tropical fruit -- in fact, I find it to be from the same family as 117.3. Sage, oregano and mango. Only adc does not detect tropical fruit -- she is not particularly sensitive to them. Mouth: creamy and soft, plum-y, even peachy. The reduction is felt, but not a distraction. It is silky, fruity and lovely. Finish: long and fruity, with hints of tropical fruit, a soft pinch of dried herbs. Dram of the day for adc. 8/10

Food enters -- barbecued sausages and chicken drumsticks with green-leaf and quinoa salads.

Tasty barbecue

Green-leaf salad

Served with a quinoa salad and remoulade sauce.
Also beef skewers.

The group presents: Deckard Zhora. Deckard is, of course, the hero of Blade Runner; Zhora is the female replicant whom he tracks down and kills (the one with the transparent raincoat).

One of the few shots where they both appear

Zhora is better known with this attire

Inverleven 37yo 1973/2011 (49%, OB Deoch an Doras, LD80819) (group): Deckard Zhora < Deoch an Doras. Ha! Nose: a bit of rancio, old staves and candied pistachios. Time helps citrus come out too -- tangerines, unripe blood orange, yet also nectarine peels. Lovely nose that I could spend hours with. A couple of hours later (I come back to it, see?), it is full-on prunes and dried apricots. Mouth: soft, yet characterful, with crisp red apple, a note of oak and walnut vinegar, meow. Later, a little acidity appears, with prunes, apricots in juice, peaches in syrup and preserved greengages. Finish: long, fruity and mildly oaky, it is simply marvellous. Hours later, it has similar prunes in juice, caramelised apricot jam and baked apples. I am far behind everyone else. Regardless, this will remain my dram of the day. 9/10


sonicvince presents: nothing. "Dystopias are usually about a dictatorship," he says. "I am hosting. I am the dictator. I decide this is in theme, even if it is not."
We quickly shame him into: They Live-ttlemill, though ruckus notes it is bottled in 2010, which can easily be linked to 2010: The Year We Make Contact.

They Littlemill is adopted

Littlemill 19yo 1991/2010 (50%, Douglas Laing The Old Malt Cask 50°, Refill Hogshead, C#6552, 340b) (sonicvince): nose: super herbaceous, it has tarragon, thyme, unripe citrus and foliage. Mouth: lemon-sprinkled cocoa yoghurt and bitter orange pith that morph into more citrus and hazelnut. Finish: yes, hazelnut paste, peppered with lime-juice drops. Wonderful. It reminds me very much of its sister cask, the 16yo C#DL4064. Dram of the day for ruckus. 9/10

ruckus is even wearing a They Live t-shirt for the occasion

Cake enters.

Of course, that one!


ruckus and JS present: Bladenoch Runner.
Twice. Two casks distilled on the same day.

50.60 24yo d.1990 Complex and interest sustaining! (52.3%, SMWS Society Single Cask, Regill ex-Bourbon Barrel, 34b) (ruckus): a delayed souvenir from ruckus's trip to SMWS. Nose: rose water, pomelo peels, lychee and persimmon -- phwoar! Refined, gentle, elegant, and really fruity! Mouth: velvety, sweet (not overly so, mind), it has mildly-coffee-tainted lychee syrup, caramel water and toffee. Finish: gentle, with the fruit and flower water from the nose. This is excellent. Glad to know where to find another bottle. Joint-dram of the day for JS. 8/10


Bladnoch 20yo 1990/2011 (60.6%, Càrn Mòr Celebration of the Cask, Bourbon Barrel, C#30005, 194b, b#131) (JS): nose: creamy melon, watermelon, even, and a faint note of disinfectant. The latter disappears quickly, leaving but the fruit and an infusion of yellow flowers. Mouth: without surprise, it is strong. Behind the strength, it has lychee, green melon, green chilli (phew! it is hot!) The power is soon tamed and leaves more room for peppery melon skins. Finish: huge, spicy (green chilli pepper, pink peppercorns), with the fruit taking a back seat (more green melon skin). I bet it takes water well, but I am too far behind to start playing. JS's other joint-dram of the day. 8/10

Very interesting experience. Those two sister casks are very different, yet both great.

Biscuits enter.

Chocolate cookies, woo!

tOMoH presents: Total Re-Caledonian

Caledonian 28yo 1987/2016 (52.3%, Cadenhead Single Cask, Bourbon Hogshead, 246b, 16/196) (me): I skip this one. Too far behind.

ruckus needs to leg it and catch one of the few trains that have not been cancelled (strike, remember).

adc presents: Min-Orkney Report

Unnamed Orkney 13yo 2005/2018 (56.2%, Signatory Vintage The Un-Chillfiltered Collection for Flanders' Finest Cask Selection, Hogshead B#DRU 17/A6365, 342b) (adc): nose: salted beef, meaty leather. It turns very, very coastal, with warm seaspray, rollmops, mackerel and casked herring. Mouth: big and rocky, with salty pebbles, sandy seashores, whelks, kelp. It has no petrolic side, but it is maritime alright! Finish: ooomph! Big, earthy and salty, it has salt beef coming back for more, tatters of leather, hot mackerel, and pickled herrings. Not overly complex, this one, but it does deliver the goods. 7/10
tOMoH presents: Timecoperdanich

Caperdonich 16yo 1977/1994 (58.9%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Sherry Cask) (me): I reviewed this at length not too long ago. Short take, this time. Nose: lots of leather and polished sofas, (blazing saddles), cow-boy boots. Mouth: hot, peppery, it has leather and meaty meals around a campfire. Finish: huge, with similar notes to the nose and mouth. It is good, but redoubtable, due to its strength. 8/10

Psycho presents: ...84
The second part of 1984.

Caol Ila 33yo 1984/2017 (54.5%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection 175th Anniversary, Bourbon Hogshead, 144b, 17/339) (Psycho): sure, it was distilled in 1984, but the connection is due to the fact Cadenhead started in 1842. Wow. We had this at Burns' Night, last year; it floored everyone. Nose: rhaaaa! Earth, peat bogs, fishing nets and the diesel engine on a docked trawler. This is another nose that would deserve spending hours with. Mouth: mild and soft, it retains the earthy-come-coastal character of smoked seafoods, combined with a more petrolic side that is very appealing. Finish: long, coastal, salty and earthy, it has cockles, smoked mussels, whelks and, well, a coastal smoke house, generally. I am done with lengthy notes for now. Suffice to say this is excellent. 9/10

Attention-seeking pets. :)

Excellent, relaxed afternoon, with top drams that covered a wide range of profiles. I felt the party was a little tense at the start, likely because of our late arrival. I overlooked the start time in the first comm ("around noon"), then forgot about it and assumed it would be the same as usual (around 14:00). Mea culpa.

19 August 2019

17/08/2019 2 x 5 != 10

5.31 11yo 2000/2011 Morning has Broken (57.7%, SMWS Society Single Cask): this was released in 2011, and the SMWS has had several #5 distilled in 2000. There is no reason to believe this is not part of that parcel of casks distilled in 2000. Nose: baking bread, croissant dough (buttery, neither salty, nor sweet), dried pineapple shavings, a broth of cut forsythia flowers, fresh leather inner soles, balsa wood, satsuma leaves and birch sawdust. This embodies the breakfast dram rather well! Lukewarm butterscotch and cream soda complete the picture. Mouth: quite pungent, the palate has a greener approach, with unripe fruit, the bitterness of young wood, balsa sawdust, ginger powder... It is surprisingly woody! Corn dust, but also sunflower and kyria Japonica (both the flower and the leaves). Spices start to dominate a bit, barely letting any fruit through. Finish: long, slightly drying, it has the wood of the mouth and reminders of the bouquet's flowers. The second sip is a little more open, with hints of vanilla pudding, toffee and cocoa cream. Nice enough dram, with the nose being the highlight, for me. 7/10 (Thanks for the dram, JS)

5.60 16yo d.2000 Sweet surrender (56.5%, SMWS Society Cask, 1st Fill ex-Oloroso Hogshead, 220b): talking of sister casks... Nose: it could hardly be more different. This one smells of pickled onions and hair lacquer. Oloroso alright! It opens up to reveal dried dates, black marker pens (I would say dry-wipe, but any kind will do) and old-fashioned pencil erasers. The sherry influence is obvious. It even has a minuscule whiff of gunpowder. Time breathing does it a lot of good, in any case: the pickled notes are attenuated, whilst dried fruit turns more pronounced. There are tones of cherry clafoutis and hot bakewell tart. Mouth: soft and populated with dark fruit, it reveals more pickled vinegar, varnish and a noticeable strength -- this is rather numbing, in fact. Wood lacquer, freshly-varnished window frames, polished shoes, glossy, dried dates, patina-rich furniture. It is dry, but, of course, it is an ex-Oloroso cask. Finish: more berries, here, with glazed dark cherries, tinned-prune juice, wood lacquer again, varnish... This is well woody too! The finish is very long, bordering on sickly. Water does not change it much. I could probably not drink buckets of this. A dram for smokers. I like the mouth and finish better than the nose, on this one. 7/10 (Thanks for the dram, adc)

13/08/2019 Drams in ze Heimat

Ben Nevis 7yo 2010/2018 (46%, Signatory Vintage The Un-Chillfiltered Collection for TastToe, Bourbon Barrel, C#419, 264b, b#33, L18/559): nose: it seems quite austere, at first, with chalk, limestone and ground peach stones. Old leather sofas do show up, alongside lacquered jewelry boxes, then caramelised nuts and warm corduroy. Later yet, fruits arrive, juicy and pretty exotic (ripe apricot, mango and persimmon). It even has a little note of smoke too, surprisingly. Mouth: delicate and fruity, it has squashed peach and jack fruit. The texture is milky, with some acidity, though it retains a certain mineral touch too... augmented with a pinch of dried sage. All over the shop, but not in a clumsy, scattered way: it works! Finish: an unexpected slap of tropical fruit on the tongue, with jack fruit and mango leading the dance, persimmon, carrot juice, mangosteen, dragon fruit and, finally, dusty rags. It is a Ben Nevis, after all; it has to be a bit weird. It feels a bit shy (new bottle) and I can only imagine the madness this would be at cask strength (hi, Cavalier66!) To be perfectly honest, a contemporary 7yo Ben Nevis is not exactly something my radar would usually pick up. It would have been a mistake to overlook it, however! 8/10 (Thanks for the dram, adc)

Bunnahabhain 28yo 1989/2018 (43.5%, The Nectar of the Daily Dram): you may remember, dear reader, that this was one of my favourite drams at Burns' Night, this year. Nose: this one has acrid orchard fruits, if it makes sense. Warm gingerbread-man biscuits, chocolate pudding, then lime zest, softened speculoos, as if kept in a non-airtight plastic box, grapefruit... The citrus grows bolder and bolder, with dried satsuma peels and pomelo. The nose then morphs to give sultanas and dried dates alongside fruit stones. Much later on, a touch of burnt wood makes its way to the top. Mouth: mildly acidic, it soon turns velvety and soft, with the modest ABV causing no feeling of loss whatsoever. Satsuma juice, pressed mandarins, tangerine peels, barely-ripe nectarine and a drop of lemon juice. It is milky in texture, with daffodil petals, which points to a distant bitterness. Yum! Finish: it shines, here, with more citrus, vanilla custard, almond paste, putty and pencil erasers, covered in green-hazelnut paste. Soft pears, past their prime, squashed blackberries and stone filings, ground cassiah bark in Greek yoghurt. Phwoar! This is still excellent. 9/10 (Thanks for the dram, adc)

9 August 2019

08/08/2019 One lone dram for 808

Only Roland freaks will understand the reference, certainly. :-)

Inverleven 1991/2008 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, JH/CBC): time to finally give this one an in-depth review, before it disappears completely! Nose: much more assertive than the modest ABV (and the level in the bottle) would let one think. It is lively, fresh and citrus-y, with pastry notes too: lemon curd, lime sponge cake, lime zest, dried Chinese gooseberry slices, candied pomelo. The second sniff brings forth slightly more floral notes (honeysuckle and tangerine foliage), unripe mandarin peel, powdered ground almond. This "humble" dram is very surprising! Turkish delights, sprinkled with... tarragon. Nice ballet of sweet, citrus-y and herbaceous notes. Much later on, it becomes woodier too, with new shelves, recently oiled. Mouth: lime-infused custard, unidentified leaves, and even a more pine-oriented touch, fresh and sappy -- pine needles, sappy pine bark, Goccepino. Oh! it is no Benrinnes, of course, but still pine-y. Pomelo peel, balsa wood and butterscotch. Finish: surprisingly very long, with similar citrus notes. It is creamy and sweet, while retaining that gently bitter side too (laurel leaves and almond milk, bergamot foliage). It makes me think of custard-cream biscuits that would have a few drops of lime juice and a good sprinkle of chopped herbs in the filling. Lime yoghurt is my final impression. Plain excellent. 8/10

6 August 2019

04/08/2019 Two Highland Parks

Highland Park 29yo 1989/2018 (40.6%, Cadenhead Single Cask, Bourbon Hogshead, 198b): this one, I remember liking a lot in the outturn. On its own, will it stand out? Nose: initially, it is a combination of green olives in brine, olive oil and plump green grapes. As it opens up, maritime aromas become evident: cockles and whelks, glazed in dark honey. There is also a faint whiff of smoke, though it is more incense than bonfire, more orchard-fruit tea than Lapsang Souchong -- and that spells good news to me! Slightly later, the trademark heather appears, bright and recognisable. Lavender too? Mmmh! Maybe. Bubblegum and merbromin, Haribo and old rags complete the picture. Mouth: very floral on the palate, it is full-on heather and lavender, augmented with honey, though it is lighter, this time around. A dash of crushed ivy leaves, a couple of pressed grapes ... one can almost hear the bees buzzing by! The last note on the tongue is fresh as yellow cherry tomatoes. Finish: meow! This is simply excellent, with all the heather and honey from previously, alongside a more-pronounced smokey touch to complement; soot, coal, peat-baked salmon. It is not all, however: a fruity-if-bitter side rounds it off. Tangerine pith, crystallised mandarin segments and distant pineapple drops. What a wonderful dram! 9/10 (Thanks for the sample, SW)

Highland Park 30yo 1988/2018 (49%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, Bourbon Hogshead, 270b): nose: hm. I fear this one is spent. There was little left in the sample; perhaps too little. It does wake up a little, giving out graver notes of almost-faded lavender, heather not in season, steamed lotus leaves...oh! Overripe, almost rotting melon skins, the most minute mossy smoke (fresh peat) and, just maybe, a soft, maritime feel. Some breathing time makes it leafier, with ivy and vine, or laurel leaves. Mouth: it does feel spent and weak, considering the higher ABV, but it is not mute. Several types of liquid honey (manuka, acacia), rose-petal jam, Bourbon-infused sweet marmalade, dessert wine, Montbazillac style, Turkish delights. This is nice. It turns rather sweet, as my notes might suggest. Pâtes de fruits, Chinese gooseberry -- boy! This is sweet and fruity on the tongue. Finish: well, it has not lost anything here, that is certain! Soft, sweet and honey-glazed, it has a note of burnt wood, shallow-fried peach slices, poached pears, baked rhubarb. Here too, there is a leafy aspect to it (bergamot foliage, clementine leaves), but the undying note is that of marvellous liquid honey. I feared I would not be able to score this, but fortunately, it seems it only needed to breathe for a bit. The leafy notes make it less enjoyable to me than its younger sibling, but it remains very good regardless. 8/10 (Thanks for the sample, SW)