Sunday, 16 December 2018

SMWS Advent Day 16 - 134.4, Paul John, Struts its stuff

SMWS Advent Day 16

SMWS 134.4, Paul John, Struts its stuff, 6 years old, 57% A⊖

30th November 2010, 165 bottles, refill bourbon

pjNose - Chocolate cake and fence panels, Pepsi-cola and polished oak. Balsa wood fresh out of a plastic package. Hot sawdust.

Body - Boiled sweets and licked acrylic, very astringent with UHU glue and washing powder.

Finish - Long but extremely sour, preserved lemons and flat cola.

The rich, heavily oaked Indian whisky I like is struggling past the massively astringent lemon and almost chewed aspirin. I'm surprised at PJ, maybe my palates not right today - this is why I don't write notes every day!

Saturday, 15 December 2018

SMWS Advent Day 15 - 6.28, Macduff, Let's go on an adventure

SMWS Advent Day 15

SMWS 6.28, Macduff, Let's go on an adventure, 11 years old, 58.1% B

29th August 2006, 307 bottles, refill bourbon

macduffNose - Simple and sweet, with a lightly herbal, vegetal note - hedge and celery. There's also clotted cream, cold marble and a little kola kubes, and that kind of meaty cereal note from a whisky taken too soon.

Body - Nutty, astringent, sour and little bit of brett-y beer. Green apple at the sides of the mouth. A little coffee chocolate with water.

Finish- Medium and hot, with hazelnuts and a touch of caraway. Chilli heat with water.

This does have some depth, some interest but it barely moves the needle.

Friday, 14 December 2018

SMWS Advent Day 14 - 28.39, Tullibardine, Vanilla poached peaches

SMWS Advent Day 14

SMWS 28.39, Tullibardine, Vanilla poached peaches, 60.9% B-

tullibardineNose - Waxy, glassy, cold, orchard fruit, cigarette tobacco. Then a deeper, more varnished sweetness, a little more acrylic.  Jelly (peach) slices (that may have been auto-suggested) and a little banana Nesquik. Fresher, colder, more citrus flesh with water.

Body - Creamy but powdery, iron fillings fool. A little gunpowder and some tart tatin, more acrylic. Angel delight now.

Finish - Red chilli and cracked black pepper. Very long and a little hot, with walnut flesh.

Interesting to try, but clumsy and too hot with very little actual enjoyment to carry it through.

Thursday, 13 December 2018

SMWS Advent Day 13 - 121.102, Arran, A fruity fruition

SMWS Advent Day 13

SMWS 121.102, Arran, A fruity fruition, 18 years old, 53.4% B+

20th April 2000, 287 bottles, after spending 17 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead this was transferred into a 1st fill red wine barrique for the remainder of its maturation.

arranNose - Red fruit, sour and woodsy. Soft liquorice and deep but peppery sugars. Candy floss? Sticky wort.

Body - Beery again, then red wine, fizzers and royal icing. Maybe some marzipan.

Finish - Medium with wham bars and some very stewed raspberry tea.

I'm not sure what this is supposed to be after its crushing in red wine cask. It's not an Arran, it's kind of soulless. I think the finish has made it feel young.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

SMWS Advent Day 12 - 42.37, Ledaig, Steamie Turkish bath

SMWS Advent Day 12

SMWS 42.37, Ledaig, Steamie Turkish bath, 10 years old, 62% A+

25th June 2008, 242 bottles, refill bourbon

ledaigNose - Mineral yet soft and floury, hot asphalt and lots of vanilla, with lemon curd and fresh towels. Actually now you mention it it is very sauna-wood, with a cracked, old varnish.

Body - The rich, sweet bourbon cask you were expecting, but it's also really sour and citrussy with cut hedge and orange shells.

Finish - Medium, cigarettes, a little musky, some marijuana.

This is why you join the SMWS, for weird, musky, challenging but really drink-y casks like this.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

SMWS Advent Day 11 - 122.25, Croftengea, Not for the faint-hearted

SMWS Advent Day 11

SMWS 122.25, Croftengea, Not for the faint-hearted, 7 years old, 57.9% A⊕

11th February 2011, refill bourbon, 291 bottles

CaptureNose - Sweetly crusted, like some kind of christmas thing covered in sugar. Dusty and brown too, like burnt pastry and a splint lighting a cigar. Coffee granules and Mexican chocolate. Fruitier with water, but with more burning electrical insulation.

Body - Sweet and rich again, coffee and musty, dusty fruit, very complete and full spectrum. Burnier with water, I preferred it without.

Finish - Medium to long, mango smoothie and bircher muesli. Black pepper and toast char with water.

Another cracking 122, long may this continue. This is of course a total bargain as well, this calendar is a good way to sell me whisky… hang on!

Cadenheads Authentic Collection, Winter 2018 Batch 2

Hectic and confusing in December for Cadenhead’s, I’m late with these and have decided to taste and post batch 2 before batch 1 in order to minimise the sold-out-ness.  It’ll be another week before I can get to batch 1 I think.

Some amazing stuff in here, including a Caol Ila that’s up with those ‘68 Islays.

Girvan 2006, 12 years old, 60.3% A+

girvanNose - Sweet, perfumed, restrained, slightly sour and with a really delicate and beautiful, musky, baked, travel-sweety fruit. Fruitier, and full of oranges with water.

Body - Hard boiled sweets, chilli pepper and freshly cut orange segments. Tang orange powder. Much richer and fruitier with water.

Finish - Long, hot and almost over-sweet, like a big mouthful of popping candy. Longer with water, less clumsy.

Water totally makes this. What a great cask used for this uncommonly young grain whisky.

Cambus 1988, 30 years old, 45.5% A⊕+

cambusNose - Wow - enormous presence to this, opening with old school tropical scotch cask, but one of those entrancing casks that combines weird, structural wood with the fruit.  This is oddly formic and has a little fountain pen ink and wood sour backing to that big, juicy mango, new carpet and fruit polos. Please, please be good on the delivery…

Body - … and it is - ripe and lacquered, gentle and rich with fruit and sugars - mango smoothie and Marlboro lights.

Finish - Fades out quite quickly via a touch of blue cheese and black pepper, but that's what happens with things get this blustery.

A superb whisky. Neither of these grains is particularly grainy, particularly this one which is classic old Scotch. Utterly delicious.

Glenrothes 2001, 17 years old, 53.2% A+

glenrothesNose - Toppy, a touch sour, with that deep Speyside fruit behind it and actually it's very Glenrothes in the middle. I'm struggling with that toppy sourness though, a young cereal feel. It's more grainy than the grains in a way.

Body - Citrus sour, with black pepper and orange peel. Time makes is even more orangey, from big oranges to mandarins - more perfuming, more alien.

Finish - Arrestingly fizzy with Sichuan peppercorns and some cardboard. That young note keeps nagging me but somehow I've tried the whole sample chasing oranges and not got to add water. The longer you keep at it, the waxier and fruitier it becomes.

Oddly compelling and like a Glenrothes in disguise. I had it down for a lower mark at first but it grew and grew on me, so definitely a "tasting" whisky to take your time with, or something to spend a whole evening with.

Hazelburn 2005, 13 years old, 54.6% A⊕

hzelburnNose - Unexpectedly bright and fresh, laundry on a cold day fresh. Then the Campbeltown oil and murk underneath, and the relaxed, slightly grown up fruit that brings with it. Sweet and dusty, fruity and funky, orange oils and handwash.

Body - Unmistakable old Campbeltown, then coffee and cardboard. Victoria plum and raisin, with Hershey's chocolate. Poached pears with flaked almonds.

Finish - Long and dusty with chocolate cake, hazelnuts and newspaper. Cherry chocolate appears at the very end.

This whisky is all over the place. It absolutely rocks and I could drink it all evening, it'd be a great whisky for an in-depth tasting, but I can't get my arms round it with 1cl. I know I like it though.

Burnside™ 1991, 26 years old, 46.7% A⊕

Burnside™ is of course Cadenhead's trademarked name for teaspooned Balvenie.

burnsideNose - A little sharp, butyric, some slightly burnt pastry, then some fruity depths - more bloody oranges, with fruit toffee, pencils, some bubble gum. Like most “Burnsides”, it is a weird one that makes you dig for your fruit.

Body - Soft, gently stated but old school, with strawberry laces, strawberry custard tarts and warming spices; very Christmassy.

Finish - Very long and richly creamy. This has been building over the course of the glass, and has become almost palate overwhelming.

Another one didn't fare well at first but really grew on me as I worked through it. It's also pure Speyside.

I am battling internally to name my second favourite whisky region and today it feels like it is Speyside.

Bunnahabhain 2009, 9 years old, 58.8% A-

bunnaNose - Toasted cereal, very sweet with charred fruit, like the burnt bit on a rhubarb crumble. Some crushed rock, hard and sweet.

Body - Full at first, then thins rapidly, all waves swept rocks and crushed ice.

Finish - Medium and peppery, cold and numbing with liquorice and burnt crackling.

Another good one, but they are much of a muchness these young peated bunnas. I don't need to buy or taste any more, and I'd rather drink young Caol Ila.

Longrow 2002, 15 years old, sherry cask, 51.4% A⊕

longrowNose - Red winey, Port even. Then that WTF fresh, dusty, breezy fruity Longrow-ness that has to be the maturation rather than the spirit. It's like snorting a crushed tube of Refreshers and fruit polos.

Body - Dirty, formic and tannic, then Pritt stick, damp cardboard and dark marmalade. Very well balanced, even with its intensity.

Finish - Clove and chilli chocolate, strawberry angel delight.

I would have picked this as a red wine or port cask, even Sauternes - good tannins here, not too crazy and typically clovey.

Inchgower 2009, 9 years old, 56.2% A+

INCH%209-750x1000Nose - Young but dusty with overripe, hairy peaches. Quite sour, quite weird, but there's a really lovely, rounded fruit in here too. Warm, soft fruit toffee. That Brett-y note over the top is compelling, yet it's not quite a durian/Chinese supermarket funk.

Body - Off sweet, dusty and sour again, with sesame snaps and coffee granules in a damp cup. Quite a cereal bitterness to it in a way, but not unbalanced.

Finish - Short and musky, not much fruit in the end just sweetness and body.

A weird and wonderful nose, delicious to drink but there's something missing…

Deanston 2008, 10 years old, 53.6% A+

deanstoneNose - More overripe fruit, a little more Chinese than the Inchgower. Star fruit, bramley apple and warm Sauvignon. Even better with water, better integrated but a little flintier.

Body - Zippy yet rich, with flamed orange zest and milk tart. Quite sherbety with water, grapefruit zest.

Finish - Custard and a touch of hubba bubba. Bitter and peppery with water, and a little chilli heat.

These younger casks are very well selected, the balance on them is excellent and the wood is clearly very high quality. Maturation in Campbeltown seems to help too. This is a good thinking whisky.

Benrinnes 2000, 18 years old, 58.5% A⊕+

benrinnesNose - Typical excellence from Benrinnes; warm, tropical, fully ripe, and lots of depth. There is a particularly beautiful wax to this one, lacquered and almost plastic next to the fruit salad chews. Liqueur chocolates and polished oak on blood orange, watermelon and papaya.

Body - Luxurious, with more wax and polish, whipped cream and a bracing citrus structure.

Finish - Creamy into the finish with soft blue cheese and slightly herbal. Very grown up indeed.

Another massive triumph of a Benrinnes. This is a big fruit bomb, with that lovely cheesey maturity and citrus structure making it all very drinkable.

Highland Park 1988, 30 years old, 49% A⊕+'

HPNose - Even riper than the Benrinnes, this is a ripe Winter (2) outturn! Refreshers and ghostly fruits though, sweet, cut orchard fruit and candy cigarettes.

Body - Enormously deep and waxy, with preserved lemons, felt box and lime curd. Retronasally hoppy with hot electrical insulation and chocolate covered brazil nuts.

Finish - Medium fruit, very long with a creamy and almost acrylic wax. A huge, tannic mouthfeel, with the peppery ghost peat returning at the end.

I knew this one was excellent because I tried it in Campbeltown. I've been looking forward to being reunited with it. It's another utterly crushable old Highland Park, full of complexity and dusty peat, but completely luxurious.

Caol Ila 1982, 36 years old, 54.4% A⊕⊕

caolilaNose - Holy shit; cream cheese, ghost funk, linseed oil, pork fat and chopped parsley, acrylic varnish and ozone. It's painting the inside of my sinuses with tropical oils and cigarette smoke.

Body - Utterly dreamy, one of those shut-you-up whiskies (which is tough if you're trying to write notes). New paint, cigarette smoke and tar, cheap cocktails? Reminds me of Soho when you could smoke in pubs. There's a huge, sour, acrylic paint note in here, and that kind of cold city pub filth... I love it.

Finish - Very, very long, with cut 100 year old oak planks, stewed tea, cough candy and candy cigarettes. If you keep sipping the finish keeps building.

There have been some (superb) old Caol Ilas recently that are still big on the peat, but that has faded with this one, leaving sweet luxury and the ghostly peat I love. The crazy nose, evocative delivery and infinite finish makes this one of the best whiskies I've tried in 2018. A real privilege.

Loch Lomond 2007, 11 years old, 55.9% A+

[sold out]

loch lomondNose - Unfair but necessary to taste this after the Caol Ila. Cold but fruity (I'll acclimatise in a minute), with Haribo and cut green apple, whiteboard marker, Christmas cake, beedis.

Body - Another cracking cask from an excellent distillery. Soft, white, delicately peated with charred raisins and caraway.

Finish - Medium to long, richly sweet and first fill-y, lots of wood oils and tannins. The peat is long forgotten because of the fruit toffee.

Like drinking red wine after a sip of Amarula. Delicious.