This month’s outturn is brought to you by the flavour of mint, and plenty of restraint! And a couple of curve balls – a Balblair and a Penderyn?
There are a couple of Laphroaigs missing in action here – not in the London bar until Tuesday apparently. One of which is in the outturn, the other, who knows!
G7.8 Sweet seduction in a car-wash, Girvan, 30 years old, 59.5% B⊕
28th May 1984, 264, refill hogshead. After my recent vertical with Phil Storry I had high hopes for this old Girvan, but this wasn’t the full package for me I’m afraid.
Body - Sweet, bright, spicy, gentle oak. Sweeter with water, some lemongrass, but an unbalanced wood. Just not that interesting unfortunately.
Finish - Very oily, slightly cloying. Perfumed. Disappointing overall.
70.10 Teenage Shenanigans, 9 years old, 58.5% A+
11th May 2005, 242 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Mint toffee, sweet but bright with a touch of poster paints, and some cheap bakewell tart. There quite a nice balanced dustiness - that'll be the pastry in the cheap tart. Seaweed fertiliser. It's like some of those recent Royal Bracklas - sweet but earthy.
Body - The immediate delivery is… watery? But then bright and sweet with menthol tobacco and cherry, then spicy and ripe cereal.
Finish - Medium, good musk, Sichuan peppercorns. But quite flat near the end.
77.38 Why? Why not?, Glen Ord, 14 years old, 52.2% A
15h March 2000, 213 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Sweet and winey, lots of barley, dusty, not fascinating. Sharp mineral. Quite young. After tasting, some pleasant cherry ripe bar.
Body - Spicy, warm barley, very sweet oak. Lacks integration but tasty enough.
Finish - Medium, obvious oak, some spice, but good balancing sweetness. After all is gone, it leaves chewed barley. Good structure, a little challenging, interesting but ultimately young and a bit obvious. But a solid young SMWS dram.
73.70 Frivolously fresh, with playful spices, Aultmore, 15 years old, 56% B+
14th May 1999, 215 bottles, refill bourbon
Body - Young and awkward. Spicy, oaky. Extra strong mints. Herbal - and with water, a little almond tart.
Finish - Fizzing citrus - grapefruit. Weirdly minty and citrussy and those two things don't really go.
42.15, Oscillations of light and shade, Ledaig, 19 years old, 58.6% A+
23rd May 1995, 206, refill bourbon
Body - Lovely, sweet, structured and juicy, with a lightly medicinal peat structure. Apple and after eight mints.
Finish - Long oaky and numbing, with more lingering Sichuan peppercorns.
46.31, Sniffing a bees knees, Glenlossie, 22 years old, 54.2% A⊕
16th September 1992, 253 bottles, refill bourbon
Body - Rich, rich oak, juicy tropical fruit and beautiful wax. Toasty and delicious.
Finish - Numbing, top notes of fresh mint. Good stuff, a complex and balanced dram. Water brings a little touch of sulphur that works very well. Beautiful stuff.
128.5, As purple as Prince!, Penderyn, 9 years old, 60.2% A⊕
10th Jan 2006, 213 bottles, 1st fill bourbon
Nose - Cheap Neapolitan ice cream, complete with freezer burn. Rich, sweet oak, more damn mint, some dry chocolate cake with chocolate butter icing. Hoisin sauce. It's good, its rich and sweet - very sweet with lots of glace cherry. Maybe a bit obvious? Splitting hairs.
Body - Beautifully rich, sweet and sherried. Also a great big, bruising and beautifully done bourbon cask. Beautiful
Finish - Long, loads of pastry, coconut, ripe cereal. Lingering liquorice imps.
36.85, Vitality balanced by maturity, Benrinnes, 23 years old, 52.7% A+
29th October 1991, 192, 2nd fill bourbon
Body - Sweet, great sulphur, juicy orange and quite spicy.
Finish - Numbing grapefruit. Quite short. It's competent, tasty but quite anonymous.
7.116, It's good to arrive, Longmorn, 29 years old, 58.5% A+
24th September 1985, 116 bottles, refill bourbon. Only available at the bar. Following on from last month’s esoteric 7 (7.113, also only available at the bar), I have high hopes.
Body - Deep, musky oak and ripe, fizzing baked fruits. Water brings out the age a little more, better wood.
Finish - A touch of washing powder, some fruit crumble. Very long with waxy, oily fruit. A good, old, fruity Longmorn, not totally blown away though (given the price, £137)
4.207, Fulsome sweetness - quietly brooding peat, Highland Park, 19 years old, 54.6% A⊕
30th November 1995, 208 bottles, refill bourbon
Body - Sweet, gloriously waxy HP. Spicy toffee and a touch of baked apple. The touch of peat really rounds the whole thing out and brings it together. Thank god for that!
Finish - Great toffee, medium length, ripe and balanced. Spicy and almost winey at the end. Beautiful.
93.63, Unapologetic non-conformist, Glen Scotia, 15 years old, 56.1% A⊖
30th Jun 1999, 275 bottles, refill bourbon
Body - Sweet and funky, wet cardboard and spicy sulphur. Retronasally vegetal. Oddly compelling but not exactly pleasant.
Finish - Long, sulphured and spicy. Pepper. Massive, brutal hit of natural gas at the end.
This is a hard one to score - the whisky itself is rather good, but the sulphur is rather bad. That makes it an A⊖ on my scale (good with a big flaw), and it's a serious flaw. If you're at all sulphur sensitive (Jon) you should steer clear of this.
66.64, A blacksmith at a barbeque, Ardmore, 10 years old, 62% A-
5th October 2004, 272, 1st fill white wine
Body - Rich and toasty, but then massive spice, and a touch of sulphur.
Finish - Medium, buttery sulphur. Spicy boiled sweets. It's got the vegetal sulphur again though.
10.83, Incredibly Awesome, Bunnahabhain, 9 years old, 58.8% A⊕
20th December 2005, 192 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Beautifully sweet, briney Islay peat. Sharp and young, but balanced and fresh, with white flowers and sweet barley. A breath of fresh air after the last two. Also, brightly citrus, like breaking into a big, Florida orange.
Body - Juicy and fresh, bright citrus and maritime (ozone and seaweed), massively citrus like grapefruit and oak. Beautiful.
Finish - Flowers and jelly, medium, citrus peat. Not quite incredibly awesome but very, very good.
127.43, Kissing a smoker, Port Charlotte, 12 years old, 65% A⊕+
21st June 2002, 228 bottles, refill bourbon
Body - It's a massive and balanced Islay bruiser; TCP and bandages, pear drops and barley. Balanced, and compelling.
Finish - Numbing like cigarette tar on the lips, medium to long and very good. Epic!, in fact.
SMWS 3.241, Bowmore, Seaside smoke, 16 years old, 55.9% A⊕
25th Sep 1998, refill bourbon, 91 bottles. This is supposed to be in the May outturn but has been in bars for a while, and now I’m not sure it’ll make it into any outturn. Time to publish, either way.
Nose - Dark, ripe and elegant. Old books (lignen), hot chips with salt and vinegar, yesterdays bonfire, sun baked long grass, driftwood. Dry and musky. But now very vanilla cream and pastry. Lovely, with an almost laphroaig backnote.
Body - Spicy and very, very sweet. But with a strange winey note. An echo of the parma violets, dusty, very sweet but incredibly tannic. Wonderful, but quite stern.
Finish - Long, balanced, complex and challenging. A fascinating mid teens Bowmore, old beyond its years with a real Laphroaig peat character to it.
3.243, Dark, smouldering flamenco gypsy, 17 years old, 57.1% A+
594 bottles, refill butt. Special Feis Ile 2015 label and collar. This is out in the June outturn but as it’s been announced for Feis Ile and Islay house, here’s the review.
Body - Sweet, big peat, lots of wood, treacle, fruit n' fibre, liquorice tobacco
Finish - Soft, sweet and a little cloying. Some big, classy wood at the end.
Good, clean and hangs together, but the Bowmore is lost in the sherry. I know you want to BUY this, and you should, you definitely should - and the label is cool. But probably not if you already have gallons of recent SMWS Bowmore.