Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Single Malts of Scotland, Imperials 21

These two beauties.  The German (I think) cask was on at the whisky show last year next to a 22 year old, and it stole the show for me.  No mean feat against a whole show’s worth of amazing stuff.  The UK cask is very much in the same vein.  SMOS have some amazing bottlings.
Now, I apologise profusely for taking so long to get these out.  This was stymied by Google trashing blogger integration with Open Live Writer, which I’ve now given up on them ever fixing.

Imperial 21, UK bottle, cask 2472, 50.5% A⊕+

Nose - It's just complete and classy. Dusty, planed oak and deep rich (but restrained) fruit. Expensive men's perfume with cloudy cider, cut apples and lemon joss sticks. It's lovely, dusty and masculine.
Body - Cigarette papers and dried rolling tobacco, fresh cut oak and blood orange segments.
Finish - Orange juice takes over in the finish, but the rolling, structural woods keep it propped up and bring you back for more. Citrus in Xmas pudding batter at the end.
This is pure Speyside, bourbon cask perfection. This is the kind of bottle I really covet; the old bourbon Glenrothes, the really remarkable Hazelburn, restrained but utterly compelling.

Imperial 21, German bottle?, cask 2473, 50.6% A⊕+

Nose - Classy is the word here too, wood glue and sawdust, long orchard fruit, also perfumed and delicately fruited. It's the balance of toppy floral fruit, musty but zesty cask, and deep richness that works.
Body - Restrained sugars, peppery tobacco and lemon sorbet, custard filled pastries, lolly sticks. A dry, tannic, but decadently rich bourbon cask, but with that really old school leathery, tropical feel.
Finish - Very long, with rich fruit toffee, stewed plums/tea and a little Pritt stick.
Another superb cask, which obviously stood out enough against significant competition (the rest of the SMOS stand for a start) at the Whisky Show last year for me to march over to the shop and buy it.

These are both superb - the UK bottle has a more expressive, varnished nose, but the German bottle is riper and just a touch more luxurious in the delivery.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Compass Box Affinity and No Name 2

Compass Box Affinity, 46% A+

Nose - Sweet, fruity and waxy… so far so good. High on the dusty cask, I can only detect any calvados by looking for it, actually the effect is that of a beautifully fruited Scotch. Wax candles, straying into crayons, with royal icing and vanilla.
Body - Thick and oily, slightly odd in that it’s quite peppery and new oaky rather than being appley- the waxy note comes across as more baked apples and pie crust now, if I’m being suggestible. As it builds though, that Scotch character I liked on the nose re-asserts and maybe I wasn’t just being suggestible with the baked apples.
Finish - Medium but some elements of the calvados now come through. Apple chews perhaps, vanilla custard, orange peel and liquorice.

There’s just that misstep in the initial delivery, but otherwise I really quite liked this. It doesn’t, however, really feel like a mix of whisky and calvados, more like just some peppery Scotch. But a good one!

Compass Box No Name, No.2, 48.9% A+

"If No Name was peat as thrash metal, No Name, No.2 is the progressive genre: still potent, yet cerebral too"

Nose - Sweet, white winey peat - that will be the 75.5% Caol Ila in it (9-10 years old I'd guess). Waxy and appley, with cherry compote and orange powder, whistle pops. Mouth watering fruits.
Body - Softer than I expected, with cough candy, dark orange marmalade and Pret carrot cake.
Finish - Medium with trebor soft mints. A little christmas cake at the end, some pine.

Chuggable; definitely rounds out the Caol Ila's sharper, coastal edges.

Cadenheads Summer batch 1 2019

Aultmore-Glenlivet 12yo (2006) 56.6%: HHD A-

Nose - Sweet and flinty, with sudocrem, or maybe milk tart.  Boiled sweets and a slightly salty, cold and coastal feel to it.  More creamy with a little wax, with water, soft fruits coming through. Less tough overall.
Body - Peppery, then creamy, then more flinty, hard boiled sweets.  Charred lemon shells and bandages later on.  The pastry for the milk tart with water.
Finish - Quite short in the fruit and cream, a hard, wet oak winning out later.  Much more rewarding with water,  the pepper becomes grapefruit tannins and citrus, better integration with the woods.

A hard but oddly refreshing whisky, needs some water to bring it out of its shell.

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 11yo (2007) 56.6%: HHD B+

Nose - A perfume bottle in a felt lined box. Gently floral, slightly exotic, very feminine* with added sandalwood and a newly opened magazine (cross between paper and plastic).  Actually, one with a perfume sample in it.  You get the idea.
Body - Soft and fruity, then bright, tannic citrus, charred and a little rotten, like black driftwood.  A background soft, salted caramel and a little frying oil.  More of the citrus zest with water, and a slightly Asian (food) edge with licked crayons and peanuts.
Finish - Long but bitter and tannic.  Slightly harsher and drier, with water.

A promising nose but a hard and clumsy delivery on this one.

Strathclyde 29yo (1989) 50.8%: Brl A+

Nose - Deep sugars, balanced fruit, slightly tropical but refreshing.  It flits between wood, fruit, grain and a brighter spearmint, with a backing of leather and musk. Complex, full spectrum yet restrained.
Body - It’s a soft but beautiful grain, all orchard fruit, leather and zesty woods. A little fungicidal cream too.
Finish - Green peppercorns in brine.  Bandages.  Big grain tannins at the end though, building and numbing.

A quite beguiling mixture of luxurious and fruity at the front, but hard and tannic at the back.  That means you need to take your time but it keeps you coming back.

Tomintoul-Glenlivet 12yo (2006) 54.3% A+’

Nose - Ripe.  Somewhere between orange and peach, with deodorant, lime marmalade (and butter, no toast) and plywood.  A little iron filings/swimming pool at the back of the sinuses, but the fruit wins out.
Body - A classy delivery; soft fruit, then magazine, then salt water and rich, ripe vanilla and pastry.  It is robust though, hard wood and citrus zest keep you on your toes.
Finish - Medium to long with balanced fruit toffee and pastry throughout.  Orange segments with juice down the chin.

A really classy, delicious drammer.  No fireworks for sure, just honest** drinking whisky. I could settle into a bottle of this (probably in the Spring though).

Macallan-Glenlivet 30yo (1989) 42.8%: Brl A⊕+

Nose - Beautifully tropical, with UHU glue, balanced but intense old cask, very clear and very buttery toast and honey, and softly layered woods and oils.  Orange curd and sesame toast.  Wonderful and gentle.
Body - Important.  Massive at first, then retreats into woods and black tea.  Then a vanilla cream and gentle fruit (it doesn’t taste of strawberry, but you know how strawberry tart is quite watery with low sweetness on the fruit side).  Then charred pastry, liquorice imps and hints of bidis.  The feeling at the sides of the tongue is oily and intensely fruited.
Finish - Long and more stewed tea.  Pontefract cake and some pear drops at the end.  Ghostly sugars.

This is a very special whisky, I’m very pleased that it isn’t as in your face as you’d expect and it is a drinking whisky.  Macallan is a luxury whisky for a reason, and there’s the Campbeltown maturation too.  But don’t expect a black sherry monster, it’s nothing like what Edrington would release.

Benrinnes 18yo (2000) 57.3% A⊕

Nose - Warm but minty and medicinal, bandages and mojitos. Leather belt with engine oil.  There’s probably some kind of military thing going on here but I don’t have the smell-memory.  It’s really warm and comforting too though, I can detect the juicy fruit I was expecting behind the other stuff, and the waxes build.
Body -  Big - alternating between big fruit, wood, instant coffee and new magazine though.  Hot chocolate.  Not one of the luxury fruit bombs but a ripe, spicy, woodsy and complex delivery.
Finish - Long and slightly sour.  Some red chilli behind the woods.   Tropical at the end, wood oils on the tip of the tongue.

A ripe and fulfilling experience.  Not what I was expecting but still big and full bodied, and wonderful drinking whisky. 

Pulteney 13yo (2006) 54.7%: HHD A

Nose - Slightly sour apple at first, a little salty of course, lots of soft toffee and milk bottle sweets.  Bright and rewarding.  Expectations set to high.
Body - Fruit toffee, sour, toppy, petrichor.  Especially on the tip of the tongue, practically ozone.  Very oily.
Finish - Milk chocolate chip cookies, raisins by association.  Cheap hot chocolate at the end, and a little Black Forest.

Great nose but a little challenging in the delivery.  Fascinating to drink but not a whole bottle.

Inchgower 10yo (2009) 56.6%: HHD A⊕

Nose - Fresh and mineral, ripe green apples - a really complex but beautiful grown up character - apple wood and cashew nuts.  Slightly charred but deeper with water, more shaved wood.
Body - Balanced sweetness - there's dark toffee with hazelnuts and a wham bar but hard wood oils.  Fruitier with water, foxes glacier fruits and a little of the mints.
Finish - Long with cracked black pepper, orange peel and popping candy at the end.

The depth and complexity on this 10 year old is superb, with lots of rich fruit and toffee notes balanced out by structural woods and oils.  Very well judged, just the kind of cask you could pour yourself into after a tough day.

Littlemill 27yo (1992) 49.8% A+

Nose - Deeply rich (caramel and old varnish), slightly winey and with balanced minerality and waxiness.  Fruity like a Fruit Salad chew in a hot pocket.  Really creamy.
Body - Soft and slightly cardbordy, with a gentle tropicality and a nice packet of fags.  Oily like an extra strong mint is.  Baked fruits.
Finish - Long and quite astringent, with more toffee (a touch of Werthers to it too). 

A delicious old whisky, with a lovely gentle, balanced and grown up quality to it - but as is sometimes the case with these old closed distilleries, it doesn't quite live up to the hype.

Paul John 7yo (2011) 55.4%: HHD A+

Nose - Big and sour, gastrique and tropical wood juice.  Red wine and sawdust.  Wham bars. Waxier with water.
Body - Rich, creamy, more sawdust and a little gunpowder.  Some Sichuan peppercorns and this really interesting, sparky, slightly medicinal sweetness - something in the preserved lemons and rosemary area.
Finish - Medium to long with lingering coffee, flat cola and sparklers.  Thyme with water, numbing clove oil.

Quite the bruiser this one, the fruit is down a little (it's not pretending to be a heavy but ancient Scotch) but it really works well.  I prefer the Scotchier ones of course.

Fettercairn 10yo (2009) 55.8%: Sherry HHD (since August 2017)  A⊕

Nose - Dank, dark sherry cask, as expected.  Irish coffee - maybe a little Baileys.  Wonderful structure though, cask wax, black fruit and vibrant spirit.  High hopes.
Body - Off sweet fruit, Morello cherries - it has that exact balance of musk, sweet red fruit and sourness that a ripe cherry has.  There's a big astringency here too, and some spearmint (perhaps left over from the Paul John). 
Finish - Slightly burnt pastry, meatier than the initial delivery with some pork fat and auto-suggested rosemary.  Very long and oily, almost engine oil.

What a full bodied, exciting and delicious drammer, highly recommended.  Damn thing's out of stock, there may be some back later.

Cradle Mountain from The Small Concern 23yo (1996) 53.2%: Ex Cabernet Sauvignon A⊕+

Nose - A serious colour on this.  Wow - intense, dark red fruit and waxes.  Bright sugars, some combination of petrol station, cola cubes and, like, raspberry slush puppy or something.   But there's this really beautifully elegant fruitiness tying it all together.  Remarkable.
Body - Softly sugared, intense cherry tunes, some echo of a urinal cake and hugely structural tannins.  Christmas, including a trip to the freezing cold toilets in a soho pub.
Finish - Medium, rich and ripe.  Those wine tannins are extremely compelling, as is the almost curry-like experience with the warm, weird spices - black cardamom and liquorice root.

A phenomenal experience, extremely intense and very un-whisky like in a lot of ways.  A transformational cask treatment. 

Loch Lomond 12yo (2007) 55.8%: HHD A+

Nose - Clean, lemony peat with coconut cake and crushed cashews.  That desiccated coconut is very clear.  Some medicinal cream, a little rosemary but that might just be in my palate now.
Body - Sweet and creamy, clean Kendal mint cake, a very clean whisky with some of that weird and unique peat from a Croftengea.
Finish - Medium, fizzing with lemony peat and sherbet. 

A cork chucker.

* When I say feminine, it smells like perfume that would be marketed as for women.  This is not a sexism in whisky issue.
** when isn’t whisky honest?  When it’s been through an increasingly desperate procession of 3 month maturations in different casks, including an unstated virgin oak and at least two different types of sherry.