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#22693 - 07/02/08 10:33 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Par]
Jolly Toper Offline
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Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 556
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
What does the Swedish Mergers and Monopolies comission say about system bolgat?

My insider on Skye said she only got to taste the 57 North when a chum brought it back from Norway so maybe the release is being rolled out one country at a time. Perhaps too only in travel outlets. Not in the slightest bit frustrating.

The Glen Grant was heavily sherried indeed but was a case of harmony although I wonder if any decent spirit would have turned out much the same. A 7yo private bottling of Springbank from a quarter cask proved difficult to detect as a young one. Not for everybody but those who found it to their taste were very happy.

Wouldn't it be great if we could receive the cask history of single cask bottlings. A bit like an owners log book charting where the cask came from, how long it was used for the original filling and all subsequent contents. I think I'll suggest it to my bosses. Just after I update my CV.

#22697 - 08/02/08 09:02 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
Åke Johansson Offline
Full Member

Registered: 16/07/02
Posts: 2136
Loc: Hammarö, Sweden
 Originally Posted By: Jolly Toper
My insider on Skye said she only got to taste the 57 North when a chum brought it back from Norway so maybe the release is being rolled out one country at a time. Perhaps too only in travel outlets. Not in the slightest bit frustrating.

You appear to be right there Mark, only for travel outlets:
I also had a look at the Norwegian Vinmonopolet´s website which does not list the 57 North. I wonder if it´s available at Prestwick Airport?


#22705 - 08/02/08 06:05 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
Raymond Administrator Offline
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Registered: 04/03/01
Posts: 5616
Loc: Bladnoch Distillery Nr. Wigtow...
 Originally Posted By: Jolly Toper

Wouldn't it be great if we could receive the cask history of single cask bottlings. A bit like an owners log book charting where the cask came from, how long it was used for the original filling and all subsequent contents. J

That's an interesting point you make, even the bourbon barrels contain quite a lot of history, usually when and by whom the cask was made, name of boubon distillery, sour mash etc .... usually the first thing the Scottish distillery does is paint the ends white and stencil over it although with the bar codes now telling you everything down to the filling strength, end painting shouldn't be necessary.

Edited by Raymond (08/02/08 06:11 PM)

#22709 - 08/02/08 09:27 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Raymond]
Jolly Toper Offline
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Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 556
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
A full service history would be an ideal unlikely to be logistical or practical but as we are told the quality of the cask is more and more depended on for the contribution to the spirit character a consumer directed enlightment would be rerwarding to the more nerdy, I mean involved, of us. With newish features like Japanese oak then American oak used in Spain as well as rare cases of fresh oak the education of the customer might demand effort on behalf of the distiller/bottler but surely to their own benefit. Glenmorangie supported their Artisan cask with easy to grasp discussions of why the oak used was special and what contributions it made. Gordon and Macphail's organic Benromach could have played this detail card more than was done. Compass Box is another leader in wood nurturing and their additions to sharing of our understanding of the nuts and bolts of whats happening is very welcome.

I'm not expecting every bottle of Bells to have the cask number and complete history of every barrel involved I would just like to know better what may make the great drams great and use that to advise future purchases.

For instance the use of oak has not been law so long that we might be drinking drams matured in other woods (or am I wrong in this point? Did the law require dumping or reracking non-oak wood or was it just left to pass until everything worked its way out of the system?) are any of these casks technically illegal or at least dirty secrets? I'd love to taste some, good or bad.

So many questions. Have I got too much time on my hands to be so pedantic or are the high prices sometimes asked for bottles in need of a bit more value added extras like this kind of background?

#22710 - 08/02/08 10:40 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
Willie JJ Offline
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Registered: 21/11/07
Posts: 634
Loc: Midlothian, Scotland
It might be something for small independents to think about though. I'm sure it would be significant extra effort to log the provenance of the casks, but for single cask bottlings it adds a real extra dimension. Raymond must have plenty of time to record cask histories ...
(It's much easier to say something like that online. Folks can't thump you so easily \:\) )

I suppose some of the supplying bourbon distilleries might object to the use of their name though.


#22714 - 09/02/08 11:45 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Willie JJ]
peteys Offline
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Registered: 15/06/06
Posts: 433
Loc: Århus Denmark
I do believe that only oak casks are legal to use today. But if they were allready in use when the law was made, then I don't see why they did'nt just fase them out. With some of them perhaps in use up until today.
The other wood types used would probably look and feel a lot like oak, so an easy thing to overlook if one cask has been of another wood type!


#22933 - 23/02/08 09:49 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: peteys]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 556
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
Can I just get back on track with shamelessly plugging the tastings? Thursday was Islay night.

Ardbeg 1979-2005 G & M to start with, got better as the night went on, initially quiet but despite pre-dilution had plenty to say. Difficult to spot as an Ardbeg due to underplayed Islay cards.

Next Port Ellen 2nd release - a classic of why thie malt is one of the best.

Signatory 9yo Bunnahabhain refill sherry. First spltiing of those present. Personally I loved the youthful brightness of the cask mixed with the lively peat. Others found it a poorly matched pairing.

Cadenheads 13yo Bowmore 63.9% low yield cask. Uncharacteristic intensity from Bowmore but again I thought it not only a fascinating example of the distillery but a great essay of flavour. Those not liking it found it too uptight.

Last - PC6. If the Bowmore was uptight this was on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Perhaps if placed earlier it would have benefitted from more patient palates but after some pretty cool customers this was for some too much of an upstart. Others liked its cheek.

We all like to support the small innovaters in the industry but none of us like OTT prices but the market will set the prices. Anybody over playing this game will(hopefully) learn a lesson when stock is left on the shelf.

Next tasting is Talisker 12th March. One of my favourite drasm. anybody able to list bad examples of Talisker?

#23284 - 16/03/08 12:31 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 556
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
Here is the write up of the Talisker tasting.

Kicked off with a 12yo 1987 40% bottled by Oddbins in 1999. Standing alone this dram is fine if not tried after something with guts. However I guess expectations were high due to the respect for Talisker and its probably fair to say this left most keen to move on and up. Keeping to a budget I had to use some cheapos, the 30yo sucked up the cash.

Next was Friends of the Classic Malts 12yo 45.8% 12500 bottles £40-45 (Can't quite remember exact cost but prices dropped with an offer to those who already purchased a bottle, difficult to complain at prices of whisky being reduced but can't help feeling they over estimated demand with the number bottled then priced it too high to move the stuff on) Anyway we didn't move on and up a great deal. A slight dram which would have been grand had the first one not already been included. In retrospect the standard 10yo might have been a good idea. I've done a number of the 'vertical' tastings before (Brora, Port Ellen, Ardbeg and Springbank) and should really have the standard bottling as a yard stick where possible.

Things continued in the poivre outline when dram number 3 was revealed as the 18yo. Although the best so far for most all were surprised at its identity (these tastings are always blind). Experiences of the 18yo to date being very good while this example was merely fine. I had heard the stocks at this age were running low. Could it be standards have slipped to keep the product going? Comments were made in a similar vein re Caol Ila 12yo.

At this stage my palms were getting sweaty and I was planning my exit route if 4 & 5 didn't settle the rabble.

Sanctuary! 4 was sipped to oohs and aahs. But again surprise at the age - 30yo (£170ish). I knew what it was so felt it delivered on the age stage but most seriously under guessed the age. Its tricky to place these bottlings in a line up. Part of it is saving the best to last but such a fragile intricate dram needs close attention for proper appreciation so must be tried before palates are tired. Had it been placed first or second the Oddbins and FOCM would have seemed even paler.

5 was my favourite. 1.2 Secret Stills from G & M 04/86 - 05/07 3 first fill sherry butts 1860 bottles ~£75. Thank the almighty (no not Jim Murray) G&M have taken this tact of bottling malts 'anonymously' the 1955 50yo 1.1 was classic. Hopefully more of this quality will follow. A sensible strength too but still feel there should be a preservation order slapped on casks which ensure any dilution at bottling is either minimised or banned. What would you rather have - greater availability of pre-watered (compromised) whisky or harder to get but 'intact' flavour? The spirit and wood worked for me here but as always those sensitive to sulphur couldn't agree to this being their favourite.

Synopsis: nobody asked for their money back but I was a bit embarrassed especially for anybody trying the tastings for the first time that my goal of having to chose the best dram being a difficult decision was not scored. I have a Cadenheads 21yo squirreled away, perhaps I should have sacrificed it as an offering to the Gods of commerce and reputation. Bloody budgets! At £23/20 tickets price was higher than normal but the tasting was a sell out so perhaps consumers could have absorbed a couple more quid for a better dram. Mind you at £2.95 a pint for IPA (pre-Darling budget price hike) the cost to taste these drams isn't much higher than 5 drinks of mass-produced fare at the bar.

Next tasting Thursday 3rd April £21/18 'battle of the bottles' 5 21yo drams:-
Glengoyne 43% - new improved with added sherry cask
Balvenie portwood 40%
Benriach Authenticus 46% (Used the Lagavulin 21 already and its a bit pricey)
Campbeltown Loch blend 40% from Springbank Distillers
North Port (Brechin) Cadenheads 12/1976 - 02/1998 62.0%
The mystery dram will be at leasst 25yo.
Remember if you can't attend I can post the drams out - at no extra charge (within UK)
Let me know if these posts are too long! I try to balance my self indulgence with a desire to promote these events and provide a service reviewing whiskies.

#23285 - 16/03/08 01:08 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
jonbrumwell Offline
Full Member

Registered: 19/11/05
Posts: 629
Loc: Shropshire, UK

Thanks for the update - had I known I'd have taken you up on the 'postal' offer. Sounds like a good night, and an educational one, too, if only because some of the drams were atypical examples of the mighty Talisker (my 'desert island' whisky).

Personally I find the inclusion of a standard bottling allows for easier benchmarking and comparison in vertical tastings, although when the standard bottling is as good as 10 year old Talisker this could mean some participants end up dissapointed with the more 'exotic' offerings (which may be somewhat pedestrian in comparison). However, IMO the whole point of a vertical is to experience and compare a wider range of expressions than would normally be possible, not all of which will be stunners. As long as they're interesting then it's been a successful vertical (IMO, of course).

I have to say I've noticed a drop off in the 18 year-old since my last bottle. My current one seems flatter, somehow. But that's a relative judgement, the terms of reference being other ages/expression of Talisker. Even a relatively flat Talisker rises above many other whiskies like the Cuillin over Glen Brittle.

Anyway, I've got a bottle of '57° North' to try (once I've cleared some of my current opened bottles). I'm hoping this will become a favourite, as the Lagavulin 12 year old has, but I'm trying not to build my expectations too high as it'd be unfair to judge it on anything but its own merits.

In the meantime I'm seriously considering going for the postal option on your next tasting. We've just re-mortgaged after a too-short fixed-rate ended so I'm having to watch the pennies (hence no 1/10 of a barrel of Bladnoch - yet).

Keep up the postings - not a bit too long in my opinion. But then again, I'm prone to run off at the keyboard myself...

Jon B
Je suis Marxiste, tendance Groucho

#23541 - 08/04/08 10:02 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: jonbrumwell]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member

Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 556
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
Hello again. Sorry for not being around but have been a bit hectic. Any hoo if anybody was interested in the 21yo tasting held last Thursday here's the form:-

Campbeltown loch 21yo 40% from Springbank Distillers. Quite rightly well received but personally I was surprised to discover a lighter character than I was expecting. Others present shared my 'happy to drink but not buy' emotion. We had a sample bottle in the shop and I've used this one more than once in tastings. These experiences were of a much deeper, mellower and luxurious dram than this bottle. I've had this endorsed by many returning customers - including one regular who bought a case for his wedding. Of course small batch 'minor' brands will not draw on the vast stocks of the main brands which help consistance and I am an advocate of variety even at the risk of highs and lows but still I would have preffered the earlier batch. Again I completely believe in the power of the moment. It often takes three attempts (on different days) for me to get a more reliable understanding of the character of a whisky, the influences of mood and other controls effecting perception. Oh yes and I'd just eaten a chilli.

No.2 North Port 62.0% Cadenheads bottled 1998. The kick of the 62% woke up our tastebuds but the long development and lingering subtlety I'd remembered from this bottling again failed to materialise. Mental note - eat only cucumber and water biscuits before next tasting. Although not unpopular the dram still left the feeling we were still warming up. In defence of it's selection, beside happier memories of the cask, I aim to use as many closed distilleries in these tastings as is sensible. I'm pretty sure that we are on the whole complacent about these halcion days. Never before have we had the selection now on offer. Malts at great age, closed distilleries and independent bottlers offering alternatives to the main stream issues of most distilleries are all surely a result of days more generous than the present panic stations of build, extend, buy back and round the clock production. Closed distillery stocks are finite, can casks be left for decades when companies need as much fillings for their standard aged blends as they can find and how many independent bottlers have a contract guaranteeing a source for the future?

No.3 was the mystery dram. What could it be? Smooth, sweet, light, delicate, vanilla. Is it a bourbon? Not enough agressive wood spice or deep colouring, the sweetness is too laid back. How old is it? Its got the poise and grace of a well aged spirit but such a light body is hard to imagine with ages in oak. It doesn't have the texture of a diluted whisky but lacks the bite of natural high strength. Price? I'd pay quite a bit for this....

Bladnoch Forum Invergordon single grain 1972 - 2007 35yo 47.4% - marvelous and very popular.

No.4 Glengoyne 43%. This bottling is not the current re-issue with a beefed up sherry influence which I think comes in a card carton. Rather this came in a tube but didn't have the depth found in the 'Millenium pack' - 10yo + 17yo + 21yo @ ~£70. Still it went down very quickly. A few comments on thin-ness coming from the strength. Not so long ago a dram of this price would perhaps have been a good bit stronger.

No.5 Balvenie 21yo Portwood 40%. Possibly just me but a surprising smoky nose. For me one of those noses I could have breathed in for a long time. A quality dram with a quite a full body, great texture but fell short of being extra special thanks to an abbreviated finish.

No.6 Benriach 'Authenticus' 21yo 46%. Even more on the nose here with autumn leaves burn on the bonfire alongside something sweeter and greener. However a comparison with an earlier batch once again found a loss of body. This time not necessarily bad but the weighty impact of the first batch semed more memorable despite lacking the gentler aspects of the current issue.

Overall not a bad tasting with an average score being similar to normal results thanks to a few malts being marked down while a couple bringing up the average. Actually we don't score them but thats just an idea of what might have happened if we did.

Next tasting April 24th Longrow 18yo 46%, Cadenheads Glenglassaugh 23yo 46% (active) sherry butt, Royal Mile Whiskies' 29yo Imperial refill sherry butt cask strength, Cadenheads Royal Brackla 15yo rum barrel cask strength and Cadenheads Rosebank 16yo cask strength. £20/17 also available mail order with P & P £3 extra

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