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#33046 - 06/12/09 04:54 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Willie JJ]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member


Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 553
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
Good evening, apologies for the late posting from Thursday’s tasting but it was quite a big night especially when the two Jakies on the bus were in full swing ( J. Toper and lets call the other Dr. Distil (AKA Professor Pot-still)). So a wee break from liver punishing was sensible.

To business. 25 of us meant a full house and I was a bit nervous that the line up was perhaps not as strong as it might be. First up was Ballantines 17yo 43%. Having been aware of it’s stature for some time it took quite a while before I got to try it on for size. Courtesy of Luvians St. Andrew’s Bottle Shop a few years ago I discovered the fine virtues of this genuinely landmark expression. Memories of rich fruits with a weighty body all very well integrated did not come flooding back as we tried Jim Murray’s Blend of the year 2009. Instead a much down-sized version offered gentle fruits but the exchange was not totally unfair. The luscious soft tones and relative length rewarded with smooth grain notes and sweet barley. After all not a bad opener just a bit of a surprise having cherished thoughts of a more robust impression. Not a cheap dram but not poor value. Not sure about blend of the year but I’m not a fan of such awards. Number one in the music charts records popularity not quality. By quantifying taste quality surely the emotions attached to pleasure are ultimately a uniquely personal aspect and vary with the mood of the moment too. Of course some drams are easily eclipsed and we seek to attach a value to our enjoyment in a very similar way through the feed-back forms at these tastings. It just doesn’t sit easy that such a sure and specific statement as ‘the best’ can have validity. Maybe it s not that important.
44555666666667777: 61%- a very good result; ‘not a stunner- more a borderline boiler- Carrie Fisher say’, ‘very quaffable’, ‘light weight’, ‘sweet, bitter aftertaste’, ‘ balance like a Chinese gymnast’, ‘lush and luxurious’, ‘ballerina’, ‘81 in my whisky bible’, ‘nice sherry and oak’, ‘not the best, not the worst’, ‘very smooth, enjoyed it from a non-whisky drinker’s perspective’, ‘excellent’ ‘force 4, slight swell’

Well I was a bit relieved that the subtleties weren’t thought of as over light or perhaps bland. What would they think of the second dram, the mystery? Here was France’s Warengheim blend 40% allegedly 75% grain with 25% malt, 40% no age. Acquired from those nice people at Royal Mile Whiskies for £23.95. Nothing but praise for shops stocking these exotic bottlings. I’m willing to bet they have a slow turn over of this type of thing, probably bought as a novelty or by those of us with passion, curiosity and spare cash. Having recently tried the distiller’s malt this purchase wasn’t totally a stab in the dark with crossed fingers. And so it proved there are good blends coming out of Europe and not just singles. More information would have helped, where did the grain come from? What was the cereal constituents? Cask type? A meaty almost peaty element came through the sweetness and altogether a very well constructed dram. In fact the balance is quite remarkable. If there are only two separate components in this then they were meant for one another. Having recently tried to make some blends I was struck just how hard it is to bring cohesion to the many parts of the whole but here it seems to work with the minimum amount. I thought you needed a full orchestra to play a symphony. Perhaps they have drafted in singles from further afield? Anybody know? Despite the fine characteristics on show I suspect sales will not be high given the price attached to what will only be a no age statement foreign blend for most shoppers. It would be interesting to know if there were any repeat purchases. Or if a blind sample in the shop would result in sales. Not better than the first dram, just too different to compare. For me it was at least as enjoyable if a bit more fun too. 2233344555566777; 51% very respectable. ‘Good’, ‘pas mal, pas excellent, je suis etonne qu’il est Francais’, ‘confusing like a Russian news broadcast, interesting but not easily understood (believed?), ‘thin but nice’, ‘force 2 small ripples’, ‘nice but overwhelmed by an oatcake’, ‘zzzzz’, ‘bland, boring, zzz’, ‘uninteresting like women’s soccer, might be interesting for some,’ ‘nice blend, thought bit was Scottish, sweet, honey, smooth’, ‘light, pre-dinner whisky’, ‘a strange beast, Paris Hilton perhaps’. I might just have got away with it.

Next another one where the reason for choosing was mainly the chance to taste such a rare beast. Signatory Cambus single grain 27.7.9 - 10.9.9 18yo refill butt 664 bottles 51.9%. Having tasted Cambus only once before I made this my first dram at Whisky at the Fringe. Being a big fan of grains I thought this didn’t have what it took to compete with the best but it deserve inclusion for rarity value, for some reason bottlings of this distillery are strangely rare This was a distillery with a serious output and was only closed in the early nineties. Odd that the independent bottlers haven’t spotted the collectors value or simply bottled it as apart of the current grain interest. However again my fears were without grounding, in fact this ended up being a rare joint winner with a mighty 75%: 1467777778888888. Perhaps the cask added that little extra and lifted the body while lending some interesting wine/fruit notes. To join the usual vanilla. Certainly the mid palate opened up marvellously leading on to a mushrooming of flavours and long finish. After the quiet nose all this was most surprising. Easily recommendable. If new to grains this will help when spotting grain contributions to a blend.. ‘fruity and smooth, the Dale Winton of the whisky world’, ‘Tiger Woods’ social life’, ‘excellent, red fruits, sherry spicy, thought it was a malt’, ‘not your usual but good like basketball, there’s action and excitement’, ‘an eccentric old aunt’, ‘nice butt’, ‘83 in my whisky bible’, ’force 7 with gale force 8 expected later’, ‘V. good’, ‘a Saatchi & Saatchi ad campaign, intriguing and intelligent’, ‘a bit too rough but nice and rich and vanilla’, ’ok’.

Next an older bottling of 25yo Highland Park at 50.7% from miniatures sold at a keen price. It would be very interesting to try this alongside a current example. I’d be very pleased if they were comparable but for some reason I expect this would win a head to head. Whisky of this age and price should only be bottled if it has these tell tale deep dark notes of time on the nose, lush rich fruits and loooong finish. Everything you’d hope it would be. Just pipped for a share in the golds at 75%: 3.5 6666678888888899. ‘classic old lady- Doris Day’, ‘honey monster’, ‘fruity, boiled sweets, lavender’, ‘sherry baby’, ‘sherry bomb’, ‘spot on’, ‘force 10, phenomenal’, ‘V. V. V. good, the best Highland Park I have ever tried, good balance of sherry and peat, almost wine cask like’, ’Sunday night match of the week stuff, relaxing’, ‘Sharon Stone, interesting butt, good looking legs, delightful body‘. I never had any doubt about this one.

The next one I pulled from an earlier tasting thinking it would only reach a fraction of the room. However I re-rethought it as the sample bottle kept appealing to me. Not one for the beginning of the night but for later on when one’s palate was needing cpr. Cadenheads Highland Park, 1992 - 06/09 17yo 64.0% butt 512 bottles. A marzipan monster on the nose with clear sulphur influence on the palate but for me gets away with it. A full-on raisin attack twists and turns between the struck matches to deliver a flavour profile not for the faint hearted. With water things tone right down allowing the more pleasing wine aspects to come out. A long finish makes for a classic of its type. I’d enter this in a competition and hope the judges were tuned in to this vein. I’d expect some low scores and we might need that cpr for Jim Murray.
50% so not a dead loss: 011123455667788- one of the biggest spread of scores I can remember. ‘a formula 1 pit stop, Jackie Stewart’s underpants’, ‘old rubber knickers’, ‘I nearly licked the carpet to take the taste away. Absolutely horrifically rubbery and sulphury they must have burnt a Pirelli in the cask not a sulphur candle’, ‘football friendlies, I don’t like them but I’ll keep trying to watching’, ‘love it or hate it, I love it’, ‘’nippie’ ‘ 17 years maturing in a piggery’, ‘force 9, high to very high’, ‘the best thing to do with this lot of s***e is to launch a boat’, ‘more sulphury than a startled skunk but still enjoyable’, ‘organ music, sharp and resonating’, ‘rough but really good with water’.

Finally something we have rediscovered in the shop: Longrow 7yo 55.8% 1&½ years in Gaja Barolo red wine casks. If Loch Fine had the Springbank Madiera expression as their whisky of the year this is ours. It seemed to appeal to the peat shy as well as the peat heads. Great success rate of sample to purchase ratio. A whacky nose prepares you for the quite unique palate: read Jim Murray’s thoughts. At first I didn’t know if I liked it but on returning to it it got better and better every time. I think the moment will make this go from ‘wow, weird but interesting’ to ‘just sublime’ in its multilayered flavours and out-there style. If the remit was to put young peaty spirit in a powerful wine cask and succeed that would have been a daunting commission. But by accident or design (or both) it works. Try it for yourself if you haven’t already. Joint winner 76% 55666677788889. ‘Total football, Cruyf and the Dutch at their best, attractive, innovative but still in the spirit of the game’, ‘peaty like a peated Bunny, fairly rich burnt Pirelli’, ‘nice spirit don’t like the cask’, ‘Campbeltown goes Italian’, ‘force 5 moderate or good’, ‘great dram just not my style’, ‘Delia Smith recipes, simple, effective, delicious’, ‘rich and rounded but slightly to harsh’.

Next tasting Thursday 10th December £20/17 Cadenheads Royal Brackla 30yo 53.6% sherry hogshead 126 bottles, Cadenheads Inverleven 18yo 57.9% Bourbon hogshead, Springbank Madiera expression, Cadenheads Ardbeg 15yo Bourbon hogshead 58.1%, mystery dram Campbeltown Loch 30yo.

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#33047 - 07/12/09 09:29 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
Leither Offline
Full Member


Registered: 19/10/06
Posts: 285
Loc: Edinburgh
Good stuff - not the best whisky I've ever tried at a JT tasting(tho the HP25, a sherry baby almost 'Macallan-esque', and Longrow Barolo were both very good) but a great, fun night.

I didn't detect all the rubber stuff and underwear and such likes, I must get out more


Edited by Leither (07/12/09 09:29 AM)
_________________________
Today's rain is tomorrow's whisky

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#33081 - 10/12/09 02:33 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Leither]
Livvy Offline
Full Member


Registered: 21/03/03
Posts: 1974
Loc: Cupar
rubber underwear...my pal stacey will show you tonight lol...I am a bit more demure than that :-)
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#33110 - 14/12/09 11:41 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Livvy]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member


Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 553
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
Well the tree is up and the bairns have been to 'Wonderland', I've had my night in with the boys, its just the cards left to do, oh yes and the visa bill. Hey-ho ho ho, a little later than normal but here's the scores on the doors for the latest tasting:-

First out of the starting gate was our mystery dram. Ballie Nicol Jarvie (BNJ), a non-age stated blend from La Maison du Glenmorangie. Its been some time since I last tried this one and have only good memories of just how high quality the bottling was. Hovering below £20 puts it into the bracket of special offer malts but I'm not sure there will often be malts at this price which are significantly better. If I was guessing the three drams from the Morangie camp were in a ratio heavily stacked towards Glen Moray, followed by the mother ship then a sprinkimg of Ardbeg. With the sale of Glen Moray to another French outfit perhaps we'll see a swing towards stock from the newly enlarged Glenmorangie in the years to come. For now surely a strong deal for G.moray fillings would have been struck despite LVMH's move to get out of own label blends. Who knows but it gives us something to rumour about. Who cares too. Well actually, nice as this is it doesn't fill the boots of the memory I had of my last experience. Still it must be said a high malt content blend like this with a respectable proportion of aged whisky is infrequently going to be unappreciated by anybody who knows a decent drop (evidence below might suggest the contrary). Its also very nice to try something where you don't feel guilty for drinking it as you'll probably never get to taste it again and you don't have to go on bread and water for a week to buy it. A surprisingly low 37% :-1222222233444444445555. 'very sweet, no real punch to it', 'smells better than it tastes', 'falls away like a British Rail embankment', 'I'd take it free and if was out of whisky','pew', 'prickly', 'why does this remind me of Jim Beam', 'surprise'.

Next was an eagerly anticipated re-release of last year's Christmas present to us all from Springbank distillers- Campbeltown Loch 30yo blend 40%. A present because the age to price ratio must be approaching some kind of record, although this year a bit of an oddity with often different prices being quoted with/without boxes. Anyway any price to age ratio is no indication of value as the only thing that counts is- is the dram any good? Certainly the nose is what I'd hope for, lovely stewed soft fruits mellow and gentle. The age is apparent in a typically enticing manner. On the palate, especially next to the BNJ, the flavour lingers longer and the old grain isn't upstaged by the malt component. My memory of last year's offering was that maybe a couple more degrees of strength might have made quite a difference or perhaps a brief spell in a fresh cask even if this is the equivalent of putting make-up on a pensioner. It would be a great night to try 5 or 6 blends at this age but the budget of these tastings could probably only extent to 18yo at the max. Some high profile brands have their 30yo expressions well over £100, we'll not mention Hibiki 30.
A big improvement at 63%- 1245555566666678888. Notice very low scores as well as a clutch of highs, obviously not for everyone, but few are.
'strong fruity nose but very smooth on the palate, very nice', 'good', 'really not in love with this one', 'E=mc square peg, drinkable but not exciting', 'a nose like Joan River's, well constructed but too cosmetic', 'best blend in the world, better than Ballantines- The Real Whisky Bible 2010', 'delicate, butterscotch rumy, bitter palate fom the grain', 'hew', 'rich fuitcake, mellow, long finish', strong warm typical whisky taste', 'I really like this', 'forgetable', 'candy snog'.

Next Cadenheads Inverleven stills from Dumbarton distillery 18yo Bourbon hogshead. Initially suppressed nose with a fairly hot palate. I remember many comments about how powerful it appeared. The palate without water is fresh, lemony, zingy and lively with some sweet custard cream notes. With water a little more is given away with the middle aged suggested while the sweetness flashes. For some this was a disaster for others quite the thing. Whatever this was a reasonably rare chance to taste a lost malt. The bones of the body have been exhumed and hopefully will be resurrected at the new Port charlotte distillery on Islay courtesy of Bruichladdich. I wonder if the soul of this modest Lowlander will live on. Scoring was split but the benefit of any doubt going to the higher end;- 61% 000136667777777777888
'good', 'wild and firey',pythagorass kicking', 'as soft as a Geisha's skin', 'fiery, sweet, toffee, perfect', 'grassy, fizzy','Barley McGrew', 'oh my God, I know this is meant to be special but bleurgh, I didn't like this', 'interesting', 'Royal Bronco', 'huge nose, fruity, very smooth/creamy palate, very good again'.

On to our treat with a £141.50 30yo sherry hogshead Royal Brackla from Cadenheads. A recent tasting featured the latest in a parcel of early teenage Royal Bracklas from Cadenheads which stirred up some interest. This example is quite a departure from the Bourbon barrel maturation of the other set. Here an intense sweetness married to an incredibly well sunk foundation of integrated body and texture resulted in the type of drsm that makes everything else go out of focus. Like being in a glider, silently and smoothly floating above any commotion. A touch of coal smoke comes through with many other hints of spices and herbs. Would I prefer a case of the BNJ and some change or a bottle of this? Hmm if it was a present yes, if I was buying, not sure. The buttery mid-palate is quite the luxury but then again it should be at this price. I should stop banging on about the cost and think of it for what it is- a dram, albeit a fine example of prolonged maturing. 70% 002445566677777778888. So still as far from perfect as possible for some: 'oh Mammy. I'm hame', 'Schroedinger's cat-ch it while you can...yum', 'as flexible as an anaconda', 'the curve ball of the night, like a Roberto Carlos free kick', 'Cuthbert', 'ooh, I could taste the coal smoke', 'extravegant', 'brilliant combo of peat and wine', 'good but the more I drunk the less I enjoyed'.

Second last;- Springbank Madeira wood expression 11yo full term maturation 55.1%. Loch Fyne Whiskies had this as their dram of the year which prompted some re-investigation. This is only the second time a Springbank wood expression has not been a (prolonged) second maturation but instead the fancy pants cask was used throughout. On first examination at release the Madeira influence was minimal. But after the disappointment of finding a new hybrid Campbeltown-Madeira character my taste buds were happy to have a bath in the stuff. I never thought it rose to the status of a must-be-in-a-tasting. But with recent experiences, especially the Cadenheads Bond Reserve 7yo Hazelburn, I'm well aware of the need to taste a dram as often as possible to get a clearer picture of what they're about. I do indeed suffer for my art. A warm toffee/caramel nose sits on top of the glass, the body lazes on the tongue like its on a recliner on a mediteranean beach then slips down without a hint of burn. All this at cask strength. Like some drams the key to this one for me is putting it later in a line up. Any earlier and the palate isn't tuned in to radio flavour. Springbank is recognisable from the shoe leather but the distillery dance style is quite happy to share the spot light with a very complimentary spanish wardrobe. Peating levels can also be detected from time to time only adding to the charisma. 72% 14466777777778888888889. 'fanta-stic', 'very good, possibly better than the Longrow Barolo', 'Dibble', 'poor finish', 'very good with dark chocolate', 'legendary', 'down the cimney', 'strong nose, really good initially but after two drams lost the love, nice but nothing spectacular'.

Finally Bourbon hogshead 15yo Ardbeg from Cadenheads bottled 2009. I like Ardbeg, don't get me wrong but the heavy marketing has built the myth so high are the foundations strong enough to support the skyscrapper? This is from the previous owner's production, when hype wasn't a factor. Never-the-less Glenmorangie are putting well made spirit in good casks and bottling it carefully. Independent bottlers don't look to keep blends afloat nor try to offer consistent single malts in serious quantities. What they try to do is find casks that deserve to be show cased and rescued from a vatting. Here we have a good example of the art. On the nose salt and vinegar crips in an ash tray lighty dusted with icing sugar, yum, my favourite. Is this peat? The mid-palate has the sweetness grow and linger while the finish doesn't offer any of the smoke or coal tar one might expect. 75%. I can't remember a tasting where there were 3 drams scoring in the 70s. Glitter Ball! 35556666667777778889999 (4 nines, a record?) 'feck the equations, yabadabadoo', 'c-3po, all the movements, no reality', 'not just another Islay, Marzipan, deep smoke', 'shall I compare thee to a summer's day?- NO, 'grub', 'solid', 'Ardbeg', 'look at me mamy I'm dancing and I'm in love'.

Only one more tasting left in 2009 and its a sold out blind tasting. Otherwise 'For Peat's Sake' is on 7th January 2010, details to follow. Hopefully will be back on Friday with the comments from the next 6 drams.

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#33112 - 15/12/09 12:52 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
Willie JJ Offline
Full Member


Registered: 21/11/07
Posts: 634
Loc: Midlothian, Scotland
Yeah it was a great tasting (once we had recovered from Stacey's rubber underwear). The conclusion is inescapable though; give them peat.
_________________________
Willie

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#33113 - 15/12/09 08:49 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Willie JJ]
Leither Offline
Full Member


Registered: 19/10/06
Posts: 285
Loc: Edinburgh
Sorry I missed it, but had my works Xmas do to attend (very nearby!!).

The Springbank Madeira is my whisky of the year too, I just love it.

Obviously someone was watching Trumpton 'Hugh! Pugh! Barney McGrew! Cuthbert! Dibble! Grubb!" rather than paying attention to the drams - love it!

Looking forward to Thursday (but in London for the meantime on business feeling a bit bah humbug, so this has cheered me up no end!).
_________________________
Today's rain is tomorrow's whisky

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#33114 - 15/12/09 09:02 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Leither]
Livvy Offline
Full Member


Registered: 21/03/03
Posts: 1974
Loc: Cupar
Yup..was a fun tasting..I did love Yogi's Candy Snog tho..looking forward to seeing what Thursday brings..see you there guys!
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#33117 - 15/12/09 01:56 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Livvy]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member


Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 553
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
hey Livvy, there is a spare seat if Stacey wants to come.
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#33118 - 15/12/09 03:17 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
Livvy Offline
Full Member


Registered: 21/03/03
Posts: 1974
Loc: Cupar
just picked up my mobile to text her...and there was a message from her waiting for me...she won't be coming as she has just been diagnosed with swine flu..bless...so if you start oinking..you know who to blame. But I have texted Francis to see if he or Hazel would like to come.
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#33123 - 16/12/09 07:16 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Livvy]
Livvy Offline
Full Member


Registered: 21/03/03
Posts: 1974
Loc: Cupar
They cant make it either...ach well..I tried!
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