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#38777 - 29/05/11 11:12 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
Jolly Toper Offline
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Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 553
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
This is getting to be a bit of a good habit. Last week's tasting was non-Scottish peaty single malts. Maybe this theme was too adventurous and a bit self indulgent but there was definately a bit of 'because it was there' feeling about the theme. For years peat has been de rigueur with Islay the main catwalk. However the current catch up approach by some distillers has seen some bottlings lacking the grace of nicely timed maturation periods so perhaps a look at alternatives from abroad might help to put in perspective the merits of the home produced efforts.

The first dram was literally a last minute substitute. The intention was to re-use McCarthy's from Portland Oregon but a supply problem came up: none could be got. Ironically the day before the tasting someone from the Portland pub circuit came into the shop and may well have taken a bottle with them: if only Jellyhead had thought it out properly. Instead via Master of Malt a 5yo Millstone Dutch malt from Zuidam at 40% was sourced. This is the third time we've used these guys wares and response to date has certainly not been overly negative. The Millstone name is used in homage of the quintessentially Dutch wind powered millers. It is said by milling the barley between stones leads to a better taste as the temperature of the kernel is not raised as much as it might be in the commmon roller method. I wonder if the grist is harder to control regarding the percentage of flour and husks. Also will the yield then be effected: is this an efficient method? and if not do the flavour benefits outwieght the costs? On the nose there is an impressive gentle warmth, very inviting and hardly demonstrative of the relative youth although it seems barrel size and warehousing leads to an active angels share. On the palate a degree of flatness may just be the 40% effect, a hint of Polo mints appears but the finish reminds of other European producers: not unpleasant but an odd bitterness unfamiliar to 'Scotch' drinkers. The peat side of things is very modest- only once did I detect a wiff of smoke on the nose with peat permeating very elegantly across the whole nose very much in a supporting role. Peat on the palate was hard to detect with smoke hardly registering. A distinction must be made between 'peated' and 'heavily peated'. More than once an apparently peated malt has delivered little of that element so look for the word 'heavy' if you need a significant amount of phenols. Overall a jolly nice dram, a bit short on the finish but pretty sophisticated and easily drinkable, being about £50 a bottle both the price, rarity and finesse demand taking it easy but the attractive style and low strength makes going slow a challenge. Scoring was convincingly restrained however: 1222233344 = 29% 'ivy coated war memorial', 'my nose was telling my mouth some diferent thing', 'tobacco on nose- short finish', 'didn't rock my boat', 'not the Dreamteam, Laudrup'. This coming Thursday we're test driving ryes around at a friend's house- the Millstone rye will be one of them (perhaps the only non-US version) it will be interesting to see how it performs, some guys who seemed to know what they were talking about said the rye was the best the distillery makes- I'd argue this one was.

Next up perhaps the big draw- SMWS 25yo Yoichi 59.4% 'Lost in Translation' ex-bourbon hogshead 85 bottles. Somewhat providently I bumped into a chum (Olaf) at a whisky tasting a couple of weeks ago and asked if the SMWS had any interesting peaty Japanese bottlings. He said the 117.14 (I think) was a cracker but sold out in the UK - note the low bottle count, but he knew the Swiss branch had some- he was going the next day did I want one? Did I? At over £100 pounds its hardly a glugger but it's a pretty attractive price given the current market value of old (and not even old) Japanese whiskies. On the nose the strength is evident but the character rides the abv skillfully. The age is difficult to spot but a certain poise does suggest prize maturation if not a necessarily lenghty one. There is tremendous depth on the nose and inhaling deeply and slowly allows so many little details to be found. Blackcurrants from a Bourbon cask?! The smoke is again down played but Olaf did say the alternative bottling was not so dainty but delivered the ppms. Having not tried the other its still hard to imagine we picked the wrong one. Given time the nose's complexity evolves with a fuller spicier character emerging. On the tongue there is remarkable softness- the dram seems to softly enter through some form of reverse osmosis, swallowing hardly seems necessary, even at full strength. Class. There was so much on the nose and palate from pencil shavings through gent's loos to apples and something Christmassy. Yoichi was the distillery set up by Masataka Taketsuru after his contract with Suntory expired. It was the distillery he wanted to build originally: in the cold north coast of Japan with a fuller body involving smoke, it dates from the 1930s. The stills were based on a fuller Highland style and remain coal fired with worm tubs. Thanks to the climate maturation is somewhat slower than the more southernly stills. Another thumbs up : 6677888888 a well deserved super-score of 82%, 'classy historical country house', 'wow', 'promiscuous and best', 'accetone, medical and peat, intriguing and complex', 'very special', 'best- ideal hair of the dog', 'maybe not Messi but...'.

To follow that was always going to be hard. Off to Eire with Connemarra Turf Mor 58.2%. I'd originally lined the next Cadenhead's Cooley but it seems unpeated and not yet bottled anyway. A different sweetness on the nose with peat still far from the Islay style. On the palate there is a powerful almost artificial flavour undetectable on the nose. This caused some problems. The nose opens to reveal old fashioned out door swimming pools (fed by the sea) but somehow with chlorine. A heavy oil is also evident while the trademark farmyard is needing a bit of a muck out. Mrs T. was initially happy but commented on an aftertaste like having a copper penny in your mouth, not in a good way. This is apparently the peatiest Connemarra yet and I wonder if there is a bit too generous dose of younger casks involved. Mind you if the rougher style is what your looking for maybe worth a try. Water calms things down with apples and lemonade on the nose while the odd note is supressed on the palate to reveal a more flattering and familiar Cuban tobacco smoke. 0011144455 back down to 28%, 'solid 1880s family flat', 'not my type of drink', 'rubber goes good with the whip - Big Lebowski', 'manured wellyboot', 'sheepdip', 'tastes like I've bitten my lip, the taste of an insult', Japp Staint on a bad night'.

Next a dram that has become quite the attraction and very dependable- India's Amrut, 62.8%. Due to complacency and ignorance this was almost missed from the line up. Not appreciating a supply issue I expected restocking the shop with this expression would be problem free. However due to the poularity of the 'Fusion' version of Amrut the peated expression has been put on hold for the next 18 months or so- so if you see one get it or be prepared for a long wait. Thanks to Ashok for supplying a bottle at short notice (an original donation actually turned out to be the unpeated version in the peated outer packaging which added an extra measure of anxiety to the tasting's organisation). 62.8%?! Those Bangalore angels must be tee-total, the water must be leaving quicker than the alcohol- I wonder what the filling strength of the casks was. Once again the 'youth' is absent despite apparent short term maturation, compared to Scotland anyway. But this was sort of the point of the tasting. This easily holds it own against Islay's best, although peat is again hardly dominating the show. Plenty body, a touch of sweetness, long finish a tickle of intrigue: altogether- proper whisky. With water the texture becomes very rounded - text book 'smooth'. 5556666688 an impressive 68%. 'Semi-detached villa', 'refined', 'happy as larry, Garry, Barry and Terry', 'awesome, great value'.

Finally The English Whisky Company's St. George's Chapter 9 05.07 - 05.10 3yo 46% American standard barrels. Last time we used the English whisky there was quite a shortfall between expectation and fullfillment. This time there is a marginal recovery- 1112233555 - 31%. I'll have to accept my tastes for young whisky is a statistical out-lier. The sweetness on the nose should reach out to people but perhaps this is a good aspect overplayed. The peat is similarly second fiddle to oak. Mrs T's least favourite - 'too sweet'. 'Old damp church', 'Michael Owen - struggling' ,'smokey but not much else, light', 'ok', 'newly feel, lovely nose', 'like licking metal', 'Souffle- think its set then collapses to nothing, big fat ugly boink'. Still the future is an unknown quantityfor this dram and wider acceptance, we'll just have to wait and see,

Next tasting is a P/O/U/R/S about £20/17 Thursday 9th June, no firm detais- it might be worth keeping it blind but tere are a couple of good grains, something cask influenced from Campbeltown, an overseas performer an independently bottled peaty and elder Islander....

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#38782 - 31/05/11 06:17 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
Åke Johansson Offline
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Registered: 16/07/02
Posts: 2136
Loc: Hammarö, Sweden
"Dutch wind powered millers" Biogas? From whiskydrinking?
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#38808 - 07/06/11 10:46 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Åke Johansson]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member


Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 553
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
Glenfartlas Ake?

There was a private tasting for 13 last Friday, all of the drams but one have been reviewed here before but I thought I could post the feedback for the first four in case somebody would like a second opinion. I don't suggest this feedback malarky is a great help but I'm sure it can sometimes be food for thought for anybody considering a purchase.

We started with a Cadenheads Balvenie 27yo (if one can be bothered check back for comparisons to see if the result was significantly different to previous tastings): 22456667778 -a fine 61%. 'Didn't rock my boat', 'remarkable' ,'caramel, smooth', 'a rare dram sir', 'hottish- improved with water'.

Next was the Dream Drams North of Scotland 1972 37yo below strength closed single grain below 40%abv - 66777778888 a whopping 80% -'very special', 'deep rich mellow', 'surprisingly unique, not like any whisky I've tasted', 'very mellow, sweet', 'lovely, long, deep, sweet taste', 'excellent'.

Springbank 12yo cask strength batch 2; - 1113445555 - a poor 38% and very different from the reception it received previously. 'Sheep dip', 'couldn't access it', 'strong, medicinal', 'very nice flavour', 'very full flavour with a bite'.

Aberlour A'Bunadh 22335777889 : a very favourable 62%. 'Refined,' 'didn't move me', 'bitter (nice), strong', 'I like it!', 'overpowering'.

Finally we had a Caol Ila hogshead 12.10.1983 bottled 21.03.11 27yo 53.1% from Whiskybroker- Young Mr Armstrong no less. Another good and affordable old Caol Ila. Just how long can this go on? Pretty light on the nose- certainly peaty but in a reserved way, the age comes over gently too (I wonder what age would I guess myself if I didn't know already? Would I even detect any trace of time?)The quality comes out on the palate- the peat and age are gracefull- taking their time speaking softly fading peacefully. After a big Springbank and the hefty Aberlour this is quite a change of speed but the class of the bottling slows averything down nicely- the final dram in these tastings is usually peaty but seldom this distinguished. 12466677788 = 62% - another high score. 'OK', 'fabulous', 'peaty fruit', 'I am not a great Islay man', 'very smooth'.

This Thursday's tasting is detailed at http://www.jollytopertastings.co.uk so if you are coming and want to taste blind don't look or if you are only interested in attending if the drams look good check it out.

While I'm at it I was kindly given a sample of Gordon & MacPhail Highland Park 57.1% sherry cask 1997 12yo. A lovely clean sherry nose just the way I like them- loads of rich dark fruits, coffee, a box of 'Black Magic' chocolates, classic stuff. On the palate at full strength raisins soaked in caramel coffee, not a hint of sulphur anywhere. Diluted the coffee cup has now been standing empty overnight- the rich beans are slighter and dried again. On the palate the fruits are sweeter, now 'Milk Tray' and cream in the coffee. Highly recommended. thanks Rock Star Andrew for the sample.

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#38810 - 08/06/11 10:14 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
Par Offline
Full Member


Registered: 13/11/03
Posts: 2231
Loc: Gothenburg, Sweden
Hi Mark,

Have you ever felt that Springbank's bottlings, even the regular OB's, can be a bit variable from one batch to another? I seem to have detected it happening - even within the same product, such as the larger volume Wood Expressions, where there was a significant change in character in between two different bottles of the Bourbon Wood Expression (from a number of years back).

/ Pär

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#38814 - 08/06/11 09:31 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Par]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member


Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 553
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
Hi Par, the small batch sizes of Springbank often lead to quite a variance in flavours even for the same expression. As for the Wood Expression series I'm a bit surprised you found a change in two bottles from the same edition. Perhaps only a portion of the batch is bottled at a time, the remainder being returned to wood until required- it would be easier to store that way- I'm not sure it happens that way though. However Springbank is known for its complexity. Tasting any dram on different days can lead to a change in perceived tastes- very mood/situation dependant sometimes. For me Springbank is a good example of this.
Perhaps due to many influences during production there are layers of flavours not commonly found in other malts. 100% hand malting, the unusual two-and-a-half distillation regime, use of a rummager, one still is both directly and indirectly heated, the use of a worm tub as well as a shell and tube condenser, all casks matured on site: surely this all has a cummulative effect on flavour details- some emerging one day but not the next? Did you try these bottles within a short time of each other? Were they in different locations? Bottle aging is meant to be a myth but I'm wondering if there is something to it. Maybe less with malts and more blends- difficult to prove. I wonder if storage and transportation conditions can noticeably change a whisky's character.

In short I don't know- thats one of the reasons whisky keeps me interested- if it was simple there would be no need to keep thinking about it. Did you ask them?

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#38815 - 08/06/11 10:39 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
Par Offline
Full Member


Registered: 13/11/03
Posts: 2231
Loc: Gothenburg, Sweden
Aye Mark,

I was in the fortunate position of having kept a 10 cl sample bottle of the first (excellent) bottle of Spb Bourbon Wood Expression that I got. I could then compare it to the more recent one, which was a lot hotter and spicier, far less sweet and inviting than the first one. So I really think that there is something to the batch changes.

I would doubt bottle ageing had anything to do with it. But I am sure, for good and bad, that Spb's particular management of the premises and processes will have an impact.

/ Pär

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#38820 - 11/06/11 12:28 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Par]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member


Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 553
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
As a follow up to the Springbank conundrum somebody last night, who has being following the thread wondered if the 10cl sample bottle was 'contaminated'. Something I hadn't thought about. Whatever the mystery of the shape shifting nature of malts can be quite magical and perplexing, thankfully.

Last night's Canongate tasting was well attended by regulars and first timers from all corners. It was a POURS night so plenty to compare an contrast.

First we had a dram by Cadenheads which at first meeting was fine while suggesting further study might be rewarding: Fettercairn 17yo claret cask 1993 - Feb. 2011 51.5% 102 bottles. Recently opening a bottle for customer sampling purposes revealed quite an enthusiastic response- but we know this is not always carried over to the tasting nights. I have little experience of Fettercairn but am aware it is probably nobody's favourite. Red wine finishes/maturation has however been quite a rising star recently in the sphere of 'flavout exploration'. The nose invites deep examination thanks to some tempting hints of all sorts of stuff- age, overlaid with some tangerines or similar fruits all over a sweet bourbony base while cereal/malty notes drift around. 17 years is a fair time in the cask but I'd be happy to guess even longer. The palate is quality spirit with the reassurance of a considerable period in oak, mellow with the cask adding some interesting top notes while not being heavy handed. A sweetness (from a previous period in bourbon oak?) is welcome to the party. Add a nice chocolately overtone and there is plenty going on- an untypically enthusiastic opener for these tasting but the rest of the line-up were unsuitable for kick off. A low yield and strength were curious - was this full term in a smallish wine cask? I wish these details are more easily accessed. Water has the cask more obvious with a more tannic accent. 111122223333555668 = a paltry 35%. Not for the first time the feedback was falling short of my own opinion but hey this is still a dramocracy, there were a number of attendees who admitted being philistines when it came to whisky and were pretty much indulging their partner's passion (although not graphically in front of us). 'Summer dram, floral, cola cubes', 'labrador', 'The Misfits - a bit sweet and syrupy- Marilyn on a bad day', 'Ewok', 'Opel', 'Air Supply - medicinal flavour', 'mudstone', ' wouldn't have guessed, not as good as I'd expected', 'old park bench in a city park'.

Next was the original choice for first place our glorious leader's prodigy Whiskybroker's North Britsh 22.1.1991 - 21.32011 20yo 255 bottles 55.8%. I don't think we need to recover the ground of grain or North British but a word should probably be said about the bottler. I've gone in with a couple of casks with some of the boys: this is sensible- split the costs and end up with a sensible amount of bottles at the end of the day. The first few samples of 3 or 4 year old spirit was promising but this batch of mature grain had my smiling on the nose alone. Recommended even before the generous bottle price is revealed. A typically refreshing, sweet, clean foil to the slower, fuller malts in your armoury. Quite a spicy nose with sandal wood or even ginger coming out mostly on the nose, age becomes apparent on the finish. Water hollows it out - not a disaster but full strength leaves everyting intact. 011112344455666668 a still modest 43%. 'Sex and candy', 'Yorkie', 'liked it, easy to drink', 'Jar Jar', 'Honda', 'INXS', 'garnet', 'better than expected', 'toffee apple stuck to a park bench'.

Next was a Hazelburn single port hogshead bottled for the Springbank open day, 05/2001 - 19.05.2011 306 bottles 50%. This bottling exemplifies why putting lids on glasses is a good idea. After an hour in the glass when the lid was lifted the blast of raisins was unbelievable. Pouring it from the sample bottle to glass just now that elemnet is a shadow of last night's experience. For me this was a nose to savour and scrutinise. The bold character of last night still comes over on the palate with buckets of body and Campbeltown swagger while the rich Portuguese wood adds more than a dash of good-looking sophistication. Is it just me or are European oak wine/fortified wine casks the Christopher Lee to peat's Arnie? Charm versus muscle- but both effective. Is there any chemist out there that can comment on triple distilled spirit having a penetration into oak in such a way that certain compounds are extracted thanks to the chemical make up such alcohol possesses not possible via double distillation despite dilution to a cask filling strength? See Hazelburn Sauterne Expression. Yum. Sweet too, with brine on the long finish. 111134445556666678 still a stumbling 49%. 'Cheeky Vimto', 'Spaniel', 'strong nose, catches throat, Gentlemen Prefer blonds', 'Mynock', 'Ferrari', 'Wham', 'limestone', 'was surprised, would have expected more endurance and flavour', 'park bench by the sea'.

For the next dram I began to wonder if the line up at the tastings were becoming predictable given the frequency of Springbank expressions as well as Cadenheads stock, but the comments of initial guessing to the provenance of our glass went along the lines of- 'typical Highland malt', 'proper Scottish stuff' and 'sherry cask northern dram'. It was Amrut cask strength 61.8%. With Amrut I fall short of identifying the unique flavour it has (like Bowmore- another difficult to pin point flavour) there are cherries but with a piquant edge too, However I do know I like it. Maybe this is my favourite expression yet. With the Two Continents, 100, Intermediate Sherry Cask, Fusion, Peated there is someting on top of the base character, here it is raw Amrut. Assertive, bold, confident but unique, fresh, fruity and fun. Given the strength and age the accessibilty is remarkable. What next for these guys? Demand is pressing supply, but they work to a much shorter lead time compared to Scottish whisky thanks to the swift maturation environment. More finishes? For sure they can't explore advanced ageing to any significant scale. I'm not sure they should worry when the standard expression has so much to offer. An article in the latest Malt Advocate magazine made a valid point about new whisky drinkers being impressed by sparkly reviews of high end bottlings and overlooking the lower profile foundations of flavours. Still winning awards and acclaim for genuinely deserving expressions can only act as signpost for the brand at large. I'm convinced by Amrut. I wonder if they need a bigger distillery. I've yet to taste Kavalan from Taiwan and I expect a few years from now Chinese whisky will be the new talk of te town. American amd European 'craft' distillers are abundant and even if 10% of them reach Amrut's class we have a lot to look forward to. I wonder if the Scottish whisky industry and the SWA are rubbing their hands. 123446666666777788 an admirable 62%. 'proper malt, sherry casked', 'ridgeback', 'interesting variety of flavours', 'Obi Wan Kenobi', 'BMW', 'The Police, I enjoyed a great deal, some nice fruit flavour', 'sandstone', 'very surprised, I have an Amrut at home: horrible- loved this one though', 'park bench in an apple orchard', 'long in the palate: arrogant, imperfect but pretty interesting, it deserves that I come back to it again'.

Finally Skye single malt 1987 23yo 255 bottles 54.4% Royal Mile Whiskies. Alongside Longmorn Talisker was the starting point for my true appreciation of single malt and I can't say the enjoyment these drams give me has weakened, especially Talisker. If you told me this was Brora or even Port Ellen then I'm not arguing. No big pepper or volcanoes but plenty of mellow, sweet, malty bothy goodness. Of all the lovely drams tonight this one deserves the most attention. The delicate luxurious comfort of the old school style should be savoured. Has anybody ever barbequed oranges? This is probably not far from that. Ridiculously good. 245567777777778888 72% - past the magic 70%. 'Surprisingly light, balanced, PEAT', 'standard poodle', 'Yoda', 'Jaguar coupe', 'nice smokey peat flavour smell', 'limestone', 'did not taste Talisker, water killed it', 'cranachan spilled on park bench by the sea'.

Next tasting is a vertical Arran, £20/17 Thursday 23rd June, details to follow. Slainte.

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#38822 - 11/06/11 11:40 AM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
MacDeffe Offline
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Registered: 29/09/04
Posts: 834
Loc: Århus, Denmark
The few Kavalan I have tasted makes me belive they could bottle things on the same level as Amrut, lets see if they do it, so far I tried a 40% and a red wine cask

Steffen
_________________________
http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.com/
http://bit.ly/ayMdg3 (facebook DWB page)

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#38824 - 11/06/11 06:48 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: MacDeffe]
Jolly Toper Offline
Full Member


Registered: 18/01/08
Posts: 553
Loc: East Calder, West Lothian, Sco...
must taste Kavalan, must taste Kavalan...(lava Clan is Talisker)
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#38825 - 11/06/11 09:42 PM Re: Edinburgh/Canongate Regular Tastings [Re: Jolly Toper]
MacDeffe Offline
Full Member


Registered: 29/09/04
Posts: 834
Loc: Århus, Denmark
If you don't find any before november I bring some over (Glasgow Whisky Festival Weekend)

Steffen
_________________________
http://danishwhiskyblog.blogspot.com/
http://bit.ly/ayMdg3 (facebook DWB page)

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