Google A double Double O to celebrate

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

January 1, 2018


The Whiskyfun general
annual meeting
(that would be just Angus and yours truly)

Happy New Year! We've got a double Double O to celebrate


The chance to try two Stromnesses head to head? Yes please, even if this little session might be seen by some friends as totally hysterical rather than historical, but how could anyone resist? You may read more about Stromness in an earlier post of ours.

O.O. ‘Old Orkney’ (no ABV stated, OB, Real Liqueur Whisky, McConnell’s, Stromness Distillery, +/-1910) Five stars This one had an old driven cork and not a stopper, that old cork being proudly earmarked ‘Stromness Distillery’, which is super cool. The one that we had tried for WF’s 15th Anniversary was rather bottled circa 1930. So, this is the oldest Stromness I’ve ever tasted (ha-ha!) Is it worth mentioning that the level in the bottle was a little low, so we are expecting it to be a little delicate – while ‘fresh’ Stromness was rather a monster dram. Colour: very light gold. Nose: pure herbal, earthy peat, genepy and wormwood, almost a brittle herbalness, some burning hay, garden bonfire, soot for sure, some hessiany sheep’s wool, perhaps a few diesel fumes (old tractor, according to Angus), a lighter liquorice, whiffs of graphite oil, linseed, charcoal, a little pinesap… It’s the minerality that’s rather impressive, as well as all these tiny mentholy herbs. Not a lot of obvious Old Bottle Effect, it's all still soft and fresh (Angus adds ‘like me’ – we won’t comment on that). The peat feels still rather muscular though, almost a bass-like peat. A throbbing bass – so more John Entwistle than Paul McCartney, I suppose. Just a drop of agave syrup, or even maple. It’s also becoming farmier over time, with some fermenting hay. And now the moment of truth…

Mouth: not that weak! It sure has lost a bit of its alcoholic edge, and got more like some kind of peat liqueur, but it’s kept this smoked/salted fish character in the background, as well as this minerality, almost granite-esque. Becomes a little more medicinal, with some cough mixtures and various medicinal tinctures, such as iodine. Were it a recent Scotch malt, let’s say… perhaps peated Glen Garioch? A Brora that had an affair with a Laphroaig? Finish: something slightly bready, meady gingerbread, sweet and sour dough, salted cod… This is a short finish, but that’s to be expected with the loss of alcohol. Some unexpected fudge in the aftertaste. Comments: some whiskies never die. And the feeling of knowing that’s you’re trying Stromness is so cool, adds Angus… BTW, it seems that this bottle will be available to try at the Whisky Show Old & Rare in Glasgow in February. I wouldn’t miss the opportunity. SGP:254 - 90 technical points, many more emotional ones (Angus 90).

Ad for Stromness's Double O, circa 1915 (Whiskfun's collection)

Stromness cask sample (Cask #17, Edinburgh & Leith Warehouse Company, drawn June 16, 1922)

Stromness cask sample (Cask #17, Edinburgh & Leith Warehouse Company, drawn June 16, 1922) Five stars Some of the numbers on the label could suggest this is a 1916 vintage. It was drawn by an excise officer (Mr Watson?) on West Bowling Green Street, Leith. This bottle was bought by Angus and our pal Jonny from a collector in Scotland who themselves purchased it from an American collector who had had the bottle for many decades. We have no doubt about the authenticity of this bottle, as the cork and the label were both consistently aged. Colour: pale gold. Nose: hold on, isn’t this a blend of mezcal and white Hampden rum? This acidic lime-y start, with chalk, sheep’s wool, hessian, soot… It really shares the minerality with the O.O., but it’s brighter and much more powerful, obviously. It’s quite greasy, oily and waxy, it’s got engine oil ala modern Springbank, brine as well, beach sand, kelp, some kind of burning lemon wood (I imagine), then more fresh almonds, and a peat that’s rather blade-like, precise, sort of chiselled almost. We’re really in Springbank territories, although this Stromness would get earthier and peatier over time. And more kippery as well.

Mouth: curiously liqueurish at first (limoncello, really?) but the smoky/peaty elements are soon to take over.

Angus gets a lot of pepper and ointments, I’m getting fish oil and a little natural tar. It’s funny that Hampden springs to mind again at this point. Some black olives, a kind of gravely/dirty minerality, drops of Seven Up, but also something farmy. These notes of soft lemons never quite leave, though. A few smoked mussels in brine are there too, says Angus. Finish: quite a long finish this one, with some oiliness, more salted fish, also a rumbling farminess, and some herbal peat. Kippers and coal in the aftertaste. Oh and always a little sweet lemon. Lemon sweets. Comments: we could go on for ages but we think we’re alright. Next Stromness session, March 13, 2057. Stay tuned. As for our scores, you have to fight the knowledge of what it is and remain kind of objective, we suppose. So… SGP:454 – 90 technical points (Angus 90).

(With thanks to Phil, Simon, Jonny and Angus)






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