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#28955 - 14/03/09 10:33 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: butephoto]
Jolly Toper Offline
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Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 530
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
Sorry you couldn't join us Butephoto, next time?

Here is the write up for last Thursday's tasting.

We started with a dram I'd tried at RMW's Whisky on the Fringe. This is such a wonderful show case, like many similar events. These shows are so valuable to consumers to try out things they are curious about so hopefully they will continued to be built on thanks to the enthusiasm of the organisers and the support of the industry. Anyway I was pretty much blown away by this bottling (there's nothing like building expectations through over-positive comments). It wasn't overly price either but I felt it was quite well exposed so wouldn't perhaps be a lure for potential attendees at the tasting. But when Waitrose was selling it at £30 a bottle I couldn't resist, it still took some months before the slot was found in a tasting's line-up. Normal retail is nearer £50 than £40 so the Waitrose deal was a steal, why didn't I get more? I'm reporting to you with a fairly crippled shnoz so any notes will be crapper than usual but suffice to say that this Glenlivet (Nadurra 16yo Cask Strength batch 1 fresh Bourbon wood) is by far the best official Glenlivet I've tasted. Well to be fair I haven't a strong memory of trying anything outside the regular 12yo. Which I have found anything between poor and yummy depending on the moment. Independent bottlings of Glenlivet (the malt that started it all - what was 'it'?- ) are not uncommon but perhaps as not high profile as others when considering the size of the distillery. Here the gentle Speysider we know from the 12yo has grown up to be quite the butterfly. Sweetness is popular on my palate at the moment so the buttery, shortbread, icing sugar coating is welcome while still allowing a refreshing up-lifting note. For such a main stream brand to offer the malt cognoscenti (and everyone else) the chance to try such a splendid untouched example of their pride and joy bodes very well for future bottlings from this stable and hopefully others. The ommission of un-natural colouring and cosmetically enhancing filtering is a quantom leap for what is the USA's best selling single malt. Maybe not 'starting it all' but certainly a welcome comrade in the war against compromised bottling principles. By my own admission my experience of Glenlivet is much more from the independent's angle than the official so I think I'd better have a closer look at what they're up to. Tradition has it a straw poll of votes for 'best dram of the night' is taken by a show of hands. From this method this was the choice. However a newer more detailed, but flawed, method of measuring satisfaction had another as the winner. Read on... 69%

Next was a ghost. Dallas Dhu 27yo from Cadenheads Bourbon hogshead cask strength. Inclusion in the line up for these closed distilleries might be an easier passage thanks to the opportunity alone to taste them before extinction/profiteering puts them beyond our reach but for me this one stands steady on its own merits as a sweet - maltesers in syrup (my dentist is a busy man) gracefully aged tin of condensed milk over melted butter on yer tatties. The finish is a vapour trail of time with my co-pliot talking of peppercorns which is bourne out with the acceptance of water taming the high strength (57%?). For some reason this didn't hit the high praise I expected with quite a few shoulders being shrugged. However voting gave a respectable 57%. A malt not common now but even rarer before. Have we missed it's prime? A study of these closed distilleries at younger ages would be fascinating. Unfortunately so few bottlings were done of the obscure malts and fewer properly.

No.3 Wild Turkey Rare Breed 54.2%. 'The colour of infected urine' says my learned partner although I might venture a reddy pinkness of marmalade. Many thanks to Leither for sponsoring this bottle after a trip to the US. Others take norte! The more I drink this style the more it appeals. This particular Bourbon is distilled to a low strength, Bourbon cannot be distilled above 80%, and has a low corn share of the mashbill allowing rye in to make its presence felt. The rich, sunny palate with drying forthright bitter sweet aspects is such a change from the previous two offerings. Many of those present found the style challenging perhaps due to unfamiliarity. 50% got us half way there.

Apologies but the remaining half of the write-up will have to wait until domestic duties have been seen to. I've not forgotten the line up above missed the mystery dram between the 2nd and 3rd glasses for those that attended and are wondering.

Dram on.

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#28959 - 15/03/09 08:47 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
MacDeffe Offline
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Registered: 29/09/04
Posts: 834
Loc: Århus, Denmark
I found I enjoyed the Glenlivet 12y old when I had it in early mornings with very fresh tastebuds. Made me discover a great deal of complexity, which probably is usually disguised for me

MacDeffe
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http://bit.ly/ayMdg3 (facebook DWB page)

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#28960 - 15/03/09 09:25 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: MacDeffe]
Åke Johansson Online   content
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Registered: 16/07/02
Posts: 2128
Loc: Hammarö, Sweden
I also found much pleasure in the Glenlivet Nadurra. And what´s wrong with sweetness? Why must every whisky offer resistance to be taken to the skies? The Nadurra is a great social whisky and at a fair price, around £37 here in Sweden.

Åke

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#28969 - 15/03/09 10:33 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Åke Johansson]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member


Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 530
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
I wonder if the different batches of Nadurra offer different angles on the same theme?

If I pick up the tasting with the mystery dram, actually tasted between the Dallas Dhu and the Wild Turkey. Perhaps foolishly I suggested this mystery guest was of a lower order. Obviously this is disrespectful as well as might put some people in the frame of mind that they are expected not to enjoy it so can't politely disagree. Or conversely they might be pleasantly surprised whilst expecting disappointment. Whatever its a bit of a rule to remain tight lipped so the jury hear a fair trial but the bonus dram is not part of the core line up so shouldn't be thought of paret of the ticket price by anybody seeking to evaluate their spending.
While Leither brought back the Bourbon another regular, Bruce, took back the mystery dram from a jaunt through France, on a farewell tour in his Jag no less. He was kind enough to pick up several bottles for the tasting this being the first used, unfortunately (or maybe luckily for him) he didn't attend the tasting. With a typical fruity European nose the Guillon malt didn't demonstrate overt wood notes despite ex-wine casks apparently being employed. A gentle sweetness and a reasonably long if simple finish are the main features. Its whisky but not as we know it. Avoiding comparisons with Scottish whisky seemed to be unavoidable for most securing this Champagne based distillate to the reject pile. This is unfortunate as tasted as a stand alone there is little to take offence to. While the postion of the Nadurra and Dallas Dhu in the line up may perhaps have been back to front (the subtle notes of the 27yo perhaps lost after the bouncy character of the fresh wood from George Smith) this dram stood little chance after quality of the opening drams. An awful score of 17% (4 zeros) may well have been more favourable had the whisky been tried on a fresh palate. Comments this time didn't restrict comparissons to urine to colour alone. However the recent revolution in micro distilling in Europe and the US is really exciting. Keeping up with whats out there is proving hard. Malt Whisky Yearbook has as one of its greatest assets a listing of many new and small producers. But Ingvar's list was greatly added to by the excelent publication 'Whisky' edited by Charles Maclean and contributed to by a who's who of expert writers. Also Jim Murray has got some hot under the collar when awarding high scores to some world whiskies when strong feelings argue the same points awarded to classic 'old world' bottlings indicate disparity in the scoring system. For me numeric objective/subjective quantifying of pleasure is a thorny issue but I take the point that French/Swedish/Welsh/etc whisky should be marked as a breed apart rather than relative to Scotch/Bourbon/Irish/etc.
Also can I send out a plea. If anybody out there comes across a local bottling whilst on holiday or if you are coming to Scotland please consider taking said bottle with you and I'll make it worth your while. If the keenest amongst you feel the urge stick it in the post. I'm particularly keen to try some oat whisky which I belive can be found in Austria. I suppose I should try route 1 first and contact the producers directly. Our 5 year mission to boldly go where no tastings have gone before...

Next our tastebuds were put through their paces with what must be one of the heaviest bombardments around from the sherry artillery. Yamazaki single cask 60%. The nose alone stops you in your tracks. The palate was so intense and multi-faceted that the pub environment again was put to the test. This whisky deserved scrutiny in a space free of distraction. The colour was so dark seeing through the bottle wasn't going to happen. It was brown. The nose was dark too. Raisins, tobacco, Demerara rum, dark chocolate, cocoa, dry as a bone, more than a little smoke came and went, tar, plenty 'sulphur' accusations but others disagreed. All this without water. £70 isn't cheap but when has imported Japanese whisky been in the bargain bin? Voting was U shaped with highs at either end of the scale but little in the middle. 55% perhaps like the Wild Turkey reflects the in-your -face nature of the style not gelling with half the palates while inversly appealing to the other half of the room. This is whisky at its biggest. This distillery keeps delivering the goods. Be it the standard 18yo or the occassionally bottled independent examples. The Japanese industry is so characterful with their idiosyncracies and the colourful history. The variety of distillations performed in house at single distilleries are mind bending. The Japanese innovative nature is classically shown while their attention to detail is flawless. Thanks to the information revolution the mysterious East is slowly giving up it's secrets which only makes the style more compelling. Yamazaki has recently undergone its second re-invention with the latest shift to yet smaller stills waiting to come to maturation. The industry's belief in clear worts and yeast influence while maintaining old school methods like wooden washbacks and direct firing result in a concentration of quality which would threaten for the crown if the quantity had ever been there. Imagine if what we are seeing now happened in 1880. Its not certain the Scots would have knicked the throne from under the noses of the Irish. The only comments were 'like playing the Scottish game of golf (or was it Dutch?) with Japanese equipment' and 'smoked sausage supper in sherry'. It took a bucket of water too. A real dragon warrior.

Finally we stuck with Yamazaki for another single cask offering this time heavily peated from a white oak puncheon. If there was sceptisism from some quarters over the shrine to the sherry gods of the last dram this offering won the hearts of the assembled. 77%. Unfortunately I don't have a glass of the stuff right now so call on anybody out there present last Thursday for their tuppence worth. From memory the timing of this time was right. My dram was gone very quickly. A sure sign of an iresistable temptation. The clarity and class of the spirit was evident with smoked haddock and BBQs on the west coast. I've been hearing of the identity of Japanese whisky. Most have been content to dismiss the genre as a copycat of Scotch malt/blend but now a lack of cereal notes seem to set the style apart from Caledonia while experiments with Japanese oak could point to a return to direction parallel to the re-birth of rye in the US.

More please.

Talking of which April the 2nd's Laphroaig comaparison tasting is sold out but April 23rd has tickets left. Details to follow but probably Springbank 18yo, Kariazawa (spelling?)'72, a Bowmore or Caol Ila, Royal Lochnager from a re-charred cask, a mystery dram and something else. £20/17

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#28974 - 16/03/09 11:40 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
butephoto Offline
Full Member


Registered: 14/02/08
Posts: 106
Loc: Glasgow, Scotland
If it's Karuizawa '72 I'm there for definite!

Sounds like another great line-up there!
_________________________
www.whiskywhiskywhisky.com

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#29026 - 19/03/09 08:32 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: butephoto]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member


Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 530
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
Here is the re-tuned line up for April 23rd:-

Karuizawa 1972- 2008 sherry butt 65.0% 529 bottles cask No. 7290

Cadenheads Pulteney 1990 - 03/09 18yo Bourbon barrel 217 bottles 57.2%

Cadenheads Bowmore 1997 - 03/09 11yo Bourbon hogshead 295 bottles 57.9%

Springbank 18yo 46%

Bunnahabhain Darach Ur (new wood) 46.3%

+ a mystery malt

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#29082 - 23/03/09 07:41 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
butephoto Offline
Full Member


Registered: 14/02/08
Posts: 106
Loc: Glasgow, Scotland
I will not be missing this one!
_________________________
www.whiskywhiskywhisky.com

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#29211 - 29/03/09 10:56 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: butephoto]
Willie JJ Offline
Full Member


Registered: 21/11/07
Posts: 634
Loc: Midlothian, Scotland
Me either, but then I guess you knew that.

Looking forward to trying that Pulteney and the Karuizawa.
_________________________
Willie

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#29319 - 04/04/09 11:24 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Willie JJ]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member


Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 530
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
Good evening everyone. Here is the autopsy from the other night's tasting. This was another comparison where the official cask strength example of a distillery was compared to 4 independently bottled efforts along with a red herring. It was Laphroaig in the dock this time round.

First up was a Signatory 9.11.90 - 25.11.08 18yo Bourbon barrel 244 bottles 55.8%. The nose certainly was a good start with sooty first aid kits on the beach. On the palate some sweetness wasn't entirely expected but welcome none the less. Otherwise the taste was relatively quiet and certainly no drama. A bit like A View To a Kill, all the promise of Big Bond but no Live and Let Die. Difficult to spot the advanced years, particularly interesting as it is a smaller cask. Eminently drinkable without water but handles a splash admirably too. A none too shabby 57%. 'Classic Islay'

Next up Cadenheads 1991 - 11.08 17yo Bourbon hogshead 206 bottles 52.7%. More on offer here. Just younger and just lower in strength but more input from the cask. Still with the sweet contribution, still comfortable at full strength. A commendable 69%. Still the age under guessed. With water the zing is swapped for a mellower pace and more development. Long finish. Sugared mussels?

No.3. Nose: wow, what?, gee. michty, pong, lively is a bit of an understatement. Not so much a red herring as a day-glo flashing polkadot herring. Cadenheads Ledaig 1997 - 06/08 Bourbon hogshead 234 bottles 57.7%. This made a right stushi with calls of 'I'm not coming back' and comments like 'Mr Muscle on a burnt oven', 'worse than Asda's own blend' and 'it is peaty in the same way as Jeyes fluid is pine fresh'. A terrible 27%. Most popular vote was zero although there was a high end cluster of scores dragging the average up from total implosion. I was personally very disappointed with this reaction as I think this is a good bottling from a much maligned distillery. Their own 15yo has recently won a lot of plaudits (funny word that) and earlier bottlings from previous owners, 1974, 1979, 15yo and 20yo were often favourites. But the peculiar nose, reminiscent of Glen Scotia? is not really nature saying 'drink me, I am Ambrosia'. Ah well beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Not even Pierce Brosnan. George Lazenby in On Her Majesty's Secret Service?

Fourth was Glenkeir Treasures from The Whisky Shop, 04/92 - 08/08 16yo 144 bottles 56.9%. Faint nose but poised palate, should probably have been earlier. The Ledaig left the taste buds needing time to regroup. A saltier tang with a slow burning sweeter almosr herbal angle. The highest strength (insignificantly) with the lowest out-turn (more obviously). A very favourable 69%. So far the most gracious, especially with water. This is the refined side of the distillery. Still big hitting but with a sophistication that is Sean Connery as 007. What a whisky this is to show the delicacy of these advanced years but hang on to its spark.

To be continued...............

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#29328 - 05/04/09 10:14 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member


Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 530
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
Back again.

Second last dram was the official 10yo 55.7%. Varying in price but apparently recorded as low as £19.99 on special offer in some supermarkets! The other drams in this tasting went as high as £75 even though the age difference was only 8 years at the most. Laphroaig was historically rarely bottled and named as such from independents but perhaps its the change of ownership which has led to the acceptance of 'second hand' bottlings.

After the shock result in these comparison tastings when Ardbeg came last then the fine performance of the official Bowmore it was going to be very interesting to see how the beautiful hollow by the bay faired.

On the nose 'chocolate oranges on a coal lorry' (Mrs Toper) and 'heaven beckons'. Comments were noted on the suspect colouring of the dram. The standard 10yo 40% is labelled 'mit farbstof' for certain markets. An obligatory statement in some countrys' food packaging requirements. Otherwsie a general good feeling got to the point of awarding 79%. The winner on the night. The Cadenheads bottling won the 'hands up for favourite vote' on the night, not everybody feeds back scores for the %age score but everybody usually votes for best of the night. Also the official bottling scored consistantly high with nobody marking it less then 6 out of 10. A record I think.

Finally the only sherry cask example of the night. Scotch Malt Whisky Society 11.89 - 04.08 18yo 542 bottles 53.7%. The only dram I'd tried before buying was the Cadenheads, the others were selected thanks simply to availability. This bottling was brought to my attention by a customer who kindly procured and delivered it for the tasting. He was very enthusuastic, telling me he and his fellows bought many bottles at the SMWS event they first tasted it. On repeated visits to the bottle I still wasn't convinced. However on the night the penny finally dropped. The hue stood out from the others (not so much the official bottling) thanks to a brown patina with a slight blush (one comment of 'chocolate condoms' might be the reason for the embarassed flush). Laphroaig in sherry casks is a rare beast which is a shame as the few examples I've tried have all been memorably memorable. The sherry notes blossom with water and became bullish on the night but had always remained undertones on previous sips. The importance of the flavours the palate experiences before the current one must surely sometimes be a considerable factor in taste perception. In my experience this is most common when wood effects are sometimes only evident after tasting several different drams while missed on a cleaner palate. Maybe just me! Scoring for this one featured 3 9-out-of-9 responses which is uncommonly good. However a handfull of very low scores spoiled the party for the SMWS entry. For some the mix of smoke and sherry was found to be incongruous.

Next tasting 23rd April £20/17.

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