Another month and another large get together, featuring some very interesting and different whiskies which stirred up a good bit of discussion.
SMWS 76.81 – An 8 year old first-fill bourbon cask Mortlach! 60.1%
Freddie: Ooft! Very bourbon-y on the nose!
Aussie: State the obvious, Freddie!
Topper: Ridiculously smooth.
Crusty: And fresh.
Leggy: It’s very creamy.
Freddie: Yes, like vanilla cream soda – there’s a whiff of banana in there.
Crusty: I’m getting fresh pine resin…
Aussie: Delicate heather honey.
A pause as everyone has a sip…
Leggy: it’s quite tongue coating.
Freddie: The taste carries on everything from the nose, with the addition of stewed pears in custard. Faint spicy cardamom in the finish – perhaps a miniscule amount of pepper?
Aussie: Mmm! I like that! White grape in there too. Very light, then spicy in the finish, a tiny bit of pepper!
Freddie: Wow! The spiciness disappears when you add the tiniest drop of water – it’s almost like a whisky ice cream now, if such a thing existed!
It has been done...
Spanners: Without water it’s almost like ginger beer, no?
Neeps: This is very nice actually…
Aussie: So nice that I’ve tanned it! I think I’ll have another one!
Leggy: So it’s drinkable then?
All: Certainly drinkable!
Topper: I rate it quite highly…
Aussie: Danger territory… I think I could unknowingly drink my way through an entire bottle of this… Then drunkenly run through the streets in a bathrobe and pirate hat shouting that the revolution has come!
Leggy: Now you’re just being silly…
Freddie notices Aussie eyeing up the other bottles
Freddie: Check out that predatory look in Aussie’s eyes!
Leggy: [Sings] Are you really Freddie in disguise?
Duncan Taylor Aberlour 1993 (17 year old) – cask no 2838 ‘matured in an oak cask’ 55.2%
Porky: Roast coffee.
Spanners: But sweet…
Freddie: Burnt apple? Roasted apples even?
Aussie: [Sniffing at glass in disbelief] That can’t be cask strength!
A pause as everyone has a taste
Crusty: It’s like a chocolate or coffee.
Spanners: Ooh that’s smooth! I’m getting boiled sweeties!
Porky: Sweet cherries maybe?
Freddie: I’m tasting custard cream biscuits initially – Very sweet at first.
Neeps: It’s really nice!
Crusty: It’s a bit carob-y.
Editorial Note: Carob (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carob) is a legume native to the Mediterranean region. It is used as a chocolate substitute by very middle class parents. Crusty, Freddie and Leggy were all subjected to it in their respective childhoods. It is a double whammy of no fun – not only does it not taste like chocolate, it also marks one out to one’s peers as being different.
If only they could block out the memories.
Aussie: It’s appley and drinkable with some bitter notes. Some spice in the finish.
Neeps: It reminds me of Greek sweets..
Neeps: Yeah, that’s the one.
Freddie: You mean Lokum? Turkish delight?
Leggy: GREEK DELIGHT!!!
Leggy spent some time in Greece a few years back and knows there are strong feelings on this subject!
Freddie: There’s some cereal there, again that slightly roasted note comes up in the finish…
Leggy: It tastes like Special K should taste if the picture on the box lived up to it’s promise.
Topper: Apparently Tommy Cooper used to have gin and tonic on his breakfast cereal.
Just like that!
Spanners: Extra special K!
Freddie: I’ve got it! Tahini!
Aussie: [Still intent on the dram] Honey, coffee and burnt orange peel.
Topper goes to get some Irn Bru…
Neeps: Are you not going to try it with water first?
Porky: It’s a bit like an old fireplace.
Leggy: Galaxy milk chocolate. And some green apples.
Aussie: It turns really acrid if you add water. Ack!
Spanners: Why would you add water to this?
Freddie: You’re right Aussie. It’s almost taken on a hint of gammeldansk now – It really knots the stomach. I wish I hadn’t added water.
Spanners: Told you Freddie!
Porky: A very unusual whisky. I often think that coffee flavour is distracting or unpleasant, but not in this instance.
All: Unless you add water!
Leggy: Or Irn Bru. [Turns to stare accusingly at Topper]
Topper shifts guiltily in his chair…
Blair Athol 12 – Flora and Fauna, 43%
Porky: Smells of citrus fruits.
Freddie: Grapefruit and raisins. Tangerine peel, sweet chilli peppers
Crusty: Aye, it is like grilled red peppers – Mmmm, there’s a slight sweetness!
Aussie: It’s nutty on the nose. Tastes of grapefruit and liquorice.
Freddie: Interesting finish – Like hazelnuts and red wine.
Aussie: Quite short and dry. A little acrid?
Neeps: I agree.
Leggy: There’s a kind of woody, wood polish note.
Topper: French polish?
That might sound like a critical note, but Spanners loves cleaning...
Crusty: Fresh lacquer, or pine resin?
Leggy: Haven’t you used that note before?
Aussie: Freshly cut hay?
All: Oh shut up Aussie!
Neeps: To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed. It’s not a patch on the distillery only that we had.
Freddie: This is a bit cheaper though, and you don’t have to go to Pitlochry to buy it. It’s not really to my taste either, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s bad.
Topper: I like it.
Aussie: It’s alright…
Porky: I’d probably buy this.
Oban Distillery Only - 55.2% Fino Sherry Finish
By this time only some of us were still making an effort to keep reviewing. The rest had started on a crate of beer, the uncouth beasts!
Freddie: Wow! Great nose! Some red fruits in there, but overwhelmingly smells like a heavily played rosewood fretboard!
Leggy: A little strawberry jam?
Neeps: I have a memory I attach to this – Being in a sauna back in Sweden with a bunch of Finnish chicks!
Leggy: With strawberry jam?
That could get a little sticky...
Aussie: Very sweet… Honey, roses. Some tannin smells, almost like a red wine.
Freddie: Nicely delicate flavours – Very smooth, with hints of the usual bourbon and sherry notes appearing. A good bit of cherry bakewell and yes Leggy, a good hit of strawberry jam! Faintly chewy maltiness also.
Neeps: A bit of oak?
Aussie: I’m getting that maltiness too. Figs and some lemon.
Leggy: Forest fruit tea?
Freddie: A medium length finish. Light raisins – typical of sherry maturation, I know, but not at all treacly, which is much less usual.
Leggy: Very interesting to have a sherry finish rather than maturation.
Aussie: Really shows just how much flavour you can get out of a sherry cask.
Freddie: A good whack of sea salt at the end?
Aussie: And pepper.
Leggy: It’s the peppery finish you get in the Oban 14 as well. I wonder if it’s in the Distiller’s Edition too…
Aussie: [Gesticulating wildly] This is very, very, very drinkable!
Neeps: This is a lovely dram.
Freddie: Yes, I really like it. It’s velvet smooth. The Oban 14 is quite nice, but this is very impressive. I’m of a mind to seek out more bottlings of Oban now…
Leggy: Best of luck with that! We can probably get the Distiller’s Edition but that’s about it. Most of it goes into blends.
Aussie: A real shame when they can turn out stuff as good as this.
Highland Park Single Cask 19 Year old 1986 – (2005) 55.3%
Hats off to Aussie for parting with a fair bit of dosh for this bottle – Only to realise after bidding that it was just 35cl!
Freddie: [Sounding very much like Leslie Phillips] Hellloooo! It smells like a dark chocolate and cherry fudge!
Spanners: Amazing colour!
Freddie: It’s ruby red!
Aussie: Fruity, what a fruity smell!
A very solemn silence as it is tasted.
Freddie: The palate is like Seville orange marmalade, with a little salt, just the tiniest bit! And that finish is incredible. Blueberry and blackcurrant muffins spread with a gooseberry and elderflower conserve.
Aussie: Either gooseberry or sour plum. Honeyed notes, definitely blackberry.
Spanners: Mmm! [We really couldn't coax much else out of him by this point]
Aussie: A slightly sour dram but I just love it. This might be one of the best drams I’ve ever had… It’s just… Perfect.
Freddie: This is an outstanding whisky, even by Highland Park standards.
Aussie: My estimation of Highland Park has leapt threefold!
Spanners: And it was high already!
Freddie: I don’t want to finish it. In fact, we might have to delay posting this review until we’ve managed to secure some more bottles for ourselves!
Aussie: I agree, but I’m not sure this will be available at all. The bottle was a very special release that you couldn’t buy in the shops.
Spanners: Maybe there’s still some at the distillery?
Aussie: Orkney isn’t that easy to get to. If I knew for certain that there were bottles of this up there in Kirkwall, I’d bloody swim there!
All: Here, here!
Sadly a dram each was all we could get, but it was well worth every single one of Aussie’s pennies!