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

December 2, 2017




Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
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Now that the madness of Jerez is out the way we can get back to some good, old, workmanlike tastings. That is until I head off to Taiwan, Singapore and Japan this week. Which will no doubt involve further madness. But, for now, some more assorted pairings...


Glen Garioch 21 yo 1993/2015 (57.0%, Berry Brothers for Germany, cask 781) Glen Garioch 21 yo 1993/2015 (57.0%, Berry Brothers for Germany, cask 781) Colour: Light amber. Nose: A hotbed of straw, earth, muesli and olive oil. Some shredded wheat, some cereals, green fruits, damson jam, a little camphor. Rather excellent and very lovely in other words. With time some Darjeeling tea, a few ointments and some aged apple brandy. With water: a leafy and earthy profile emerges with some notes of mushroom powder, turmeric and crushed ferns. Mouth: Ginger bread, milk chocolate, banana loaf, many bready notes and savoury aspects such as nuts and toasted seeds. A light waxiness and some lightly herbal notes as well come through. With water: more tea notes, a little coconut, some rosewater and a slightly mineral edge. Finish: Long and bready with some touches of mead and camphor. Comments: Full bodied and very good mid-aged Glen Garioch by Berry Bros. SGP: 441 - 87 points.  


Glen Garioch 24 yo 1990/2015 (55.5%, Dewar Rattray for Alba Import, Germany, Hogshead, #7947) Glen Garioch 24 yo 1990/2015 (55.5%, Dewar Rattray for Alba Import, Germany, Hogshead, #7947) Colour: Gold. Nose: This one is lighter and more honeyed. Some aged mead, pollen and wildflowers with gorse, coconut, a few dried herbs. There’s also a nice meaty and spicy combination as well with a little time. Some background suggestions of peat as well. With water: some softer green fruits and notes of melon, guava and some grape must. Mouth: Big, emphatic, oily, delicately peaty and rather waxy with these big notes of hessian, olive oil, tar liqueur and caraway. More wood spices, green fruits and some black pepper. Great stuff! With water: a bit nuttier and sootier. More lanolin, camphor, resins and waxes. Finish: Long and earthy with waxes, sooty phenolics, some more greenery and a white pepper bite. Comments: 1990 seems to really have been something pretty decent at Glen Garioch. This one was great. SGP: 443 - 90 points.  


Bunnahabhain 31 yo 1976/2008 (48.1%, Murray McDavid Mission, Fino sherry casks, 1134 bottles) Bunnahabhain 31 yo 1976/2008 (48.1%, Murray McDavid Mission, Fino sherry casks, 1134 bottles) Since our recent Jerez trip I think all of our minds were somewhat expanded and flabbergasted by what real sherry casks actually are/were compared to the seasoned types they predominantly create for the whisky industry today in Jerez and its adjacent regions. This being from the 1970s though it’s probably from ‘authentic’ solera casks. Lets see... Colour: White wine. Nose: It’s a soft and very fresh and expressive one. Lots of green, garden and white stone fruits. Some seashore, a little nuttiness, a little of Bunnahabhain’s usual honeyed sinew and some very lovely mineral notes of wet rock, gravel and hessian. Simplistic but in a rather beautiful way. Mouth: Clean, sharp and with a nice, buoyant fruitiness. A little white pepper and wood spice keeps things lively. There are some saline suggestions of fino but really it’s the distillate talking most of the way here. Some sandalwood in there as well as a little heathery note. Something I’ll never complain about in any whisky. Some lanolin, lamp oil and tea tree oil along side some greener notes of fresh herbs such as parsley and maybe a little dill. Still quite mineral. Finish: A good length. More drying and with a bit of citrus rind. Some green tea perhaps and a rubbed mint leaf or two. Comments: Very fine old Bunna. Not stellar but eminently drinkable. A bottle to quaff with pals on the pier on a sunny afternoon. SGP: 421 - 88 points.  


Bunnahabhain 31 yo 1976/2008 (47.0%, Murray McDavid Mission, Oloroso sherry casks, 1025 bottles) Bunnahabhain 31 yo 1976/2008 (47.0%, Murray McDavid Mission, Oloroso sherry casks, 1025 bottles) Lets see if the Oloroso can beat the Fino... Colour: Bronze. Nose: This is indeed some old school oloroso sherry cask. All dates, earth, tobacco, fig compote and these rather lovely mingling notes of fresh breads and older balsamico. Some sticky raisins and rather meaty / leathery edge emerging. Thankfully the Bunna character remains pretty well intact, something not too surprising given how well Bunna and sherry tend to meld together. Goes on with some ripe cherries, a little fig chutney and a little walnut liqueur. Mouth: Resinous, earthy and clean. With a deep and well integrated sherry character. Some rancio and a little frying bacon which lends a crisp saline note. Then veers back towards sweetness with more dark fruits and some wood spice and light tannic aspects. Some milk chocolate, a bit of eucalyptus and mint and some fresh filter coffee as well. Finish: Long and full of earthy and spicy dryness. Some notes of aged pinot noir and a camphory side as well. Quite lovely. Comments: I think it edges the Fino by a point or so. It’s not quite 90 material but we’re flying pretty high. Not a dram you’d kick out of bed in a hurry! SGP: 431 - 89 points.  


Bowmore 11 yo ‘Feis Ile 2017’ (53.8%, OB, Sherry & Wine casks, 2000 bottles) Bowmore 11 yo ‘Feis Ile 2017’ (53.8%, OB, Sherry & Wine casks, 2000 bottles) Sherry and wine, hmmm... Colour: Amber. Nose: Fishy, but in a good way. Quite a lot of kippers, smoked and peppered mackerel and mussels in brine. Beneath that there’s also quite a lot of pencil shavings as well though, some fresh sea salt, cullen skink, ink, motor oil, cherry heering, maybe a little sawdust as well. Quite a curious nose, one in which there’s more than a hint of active wood tech. With water: some saltwater and beach sand with a whiff of warm bluetack in the background. Mouth: Ok, those woody notes on the nose are back but they’re far more astringent on the palate. There’s an aggressive green peppercorn note with brine, some asparagus, a few more oak shavings, a sprig of thyme, some iodine. The peat and coastal aspects are there but they flicker between purity and puzzlement. There’s some jammy red fruit as well which may be from the wine component. With water: feels a bit flabby with water now. Somewhat disjointed and a tad too harsh. Finish: Medium length. But the peat and seashore aspects fall away to leave more of these wood glue and sawdust notes. Comments: As you can probably tell, I’m not really a fan of this one. Although, I know other people thought it was pretty great. I just find this combination of overactive wood with wine just kind of pointless when the natural Bowmore distillate at this sort of age is terrific. Bowmore, why don’t you just do a plain oak matured 11 year old next year? What have you got to lose? You’ll still sell it all! SGP: 336 - 77 points.  


Bowmore 2000/2016 (56.1%, Riegger’s Selection, Bourbon, cask#800115, 236 bottles) Bowmore 2000/2016 (56.1%, Riegger’s Selection, Bourbon, cask#800115, 236 bottles) Colour: Pale gold. Nose: A different world to the OB. This is soft peat that twists along a calm seashore. Then subtle fruits work their way in: banana, papaya and kiwi before a few wee medical tinctures. Becomes increasingly tropical with time. A few notes of dried mango slices and a little bit of lychee to boot. Really pretty marvellous! Also some mineralic notes such as wet beach pebble and then ointment and gauze. Maybe some smouldering rosemary wood as well. With water: The fruits are tamed a little by dried herbs, sandalwood and pin sharp coastal swoosh. Mouth: An earthy peat at first but gives way quickly to more tropical fruits, smoked tea, brine, ointment, mercurochrome, orange blossom and lemon rind. With water: some frying pancetta, a lean saline aspect and even a hint of passion fruit. Classical, pure and brilliant. Finish: Long and lemony with some ash, medicine, seashore complexity and a bit of lingering fruit. Comments: Leaves the OB in the dust. Seriously, distillery, you have these casks aplenty, do something with them and stop spoiling them with wine nonsense! ( SGP: 536 - 90 points.  


I know we said ‘pairs’, but if you can’t break your own rules on Whiskyfun then where can you...?  


Bowmore 1973/1998 25 yo (51.2%, Blackadder, cask #3174) Bowmore 1973/1998 25 yo (51.2%, Blackadder, cask #3174) Colour: Light gold. Nose: Sharp and coastal with rather a lot of lemon and citrus notes. Salty, preserved lemons, citrus rind and then some seashore, dried kelp and some chalk and aspirin. Rather a chiselled and slightly austere example without the usual (hoped for?) exuberant fruitiness. Goes on with a few medical tinctures, some seawater, a little hessian and perhaps a little grassy, olive oil note. With water: This austerity levels out rather nicely with water. More seagreens, seashore, some smoked sea salt (lots of sea, you see?), also a more obvious, earthy and herbal peatiness which is very pleasant. Mouth: A little more ‘easy’ than the nose. More soft fruity notes such as fresh tangerine and orange cake. Also bergamot and lapsang souchong, banana bread, an elegant and earthy peatiness and some mineral and herbal liqueur notes. Some bandages and embrocations as well as the medical side starts to get a little louder. With water: not as much traction on the palate with water as on the nose. Still rather dry, citrusy, mineral and elegant though. Highly drinkable but not ueber complex I’d say. Finish: An echoing and gentle bonfire smokiness with dried herbs and more minerals, hessian and bandages. Maybe even a little wax. Comments: A very fine dram, but not particularly ‘Bowmore’ unfortunately. Water works well on the nose and overall it’s a very lovely, slightly old school Islay whisky. But I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t hoped for a little more given the pedigree... SGP: 436 - 89 points.  


Springbank 21 yo ‘pear shape’ (43%, OB, Italian import, early 1970s) Springbank 21 yo ‘pear shape’ (43%, OB, Italian import, early 1970s) I think there are multiple versions of this bottling as I’ve seen some slightly darker vattings and varying scores/opinions over the years... Colour: Straw. Nose: Holy moly! This is old Chartreuse, seriously! A huge, fat mix of herbs, liqueurs, caraway and a few medical notes such as elastoplast and various ointments. Some tertiary notes of wax, hessian, various lightly toasted cereals and seeds and then some mineral oil. Maybe a few apple notes such as young Calvados as well. Pure, elegant and utterly perfect! Mouth: Gah! Amazing distillate from dead wood at a perfect age. You just cannot improve on this. A whole seashore of minerals, sandalwood, some light ashy notes, a whole flagon of 19th century Chartreuse juane and wink of peat in the background. All manner of dried herbs, some very light spices, some tar resin and a hint of gentian root. Just AMAZING! And all at 43% as well! Finish: Long, lingering and beautiful. Full of resinous, quivering herbs, fruits and oils. Some quince jelly, a phenol or two and handful of wet beach pebbles. Perfection! Comments: What can you really say about such old glories. For starters it does seem like there are probably different versions of this, evidently the paler the better. This is totally naked Springbank distilled in the early 1950s. No one should be allowed to start a distillery until they have tasted and understood such whiskies. SGP: 453 - 94 points.  


Springbank 12 yo ‘Cask Strength’ (57.6, OB, rotation 1994)

Springbank 12 yo ‘Cask Strength’ (57.6, OB, rotation 1994) A rare full strength version of the 12yo from the 1990s (the rotation stamp is on the rear of the label). Not to be confused with the legendary 100 proofs. Colour: White wine. Nose: Fatter and more austere than the 21, which was to be expected to be honest. A muscular and rather chiselled profile with lots of earth, some wax, a little hessian, plenty seashore character and some rubbed lemon skins. Becomes very mineral with many of these flinty and wet rock notes. Some sheep’s wool, a little lime zest and perhaps a dried apricot or two. With water: gets leafier and greener with water. Some grassiness, a touch of chamomile, some ink and a bit of chalk. Mouth: Continued this fat, waxy and somewhat austere theme. Maybe a tad brutal in fact. White fruits, some wild flowers, a little pollen and again and rather all-encompassing coastal quality. With water: sunflower oil, a saline parma ham note and a few green and black olives in brine. Powerful stuff! Finish: Long and lemony with big salty notes, a few more white fruits and a resurgent waxy and seashore note. Pretty uncompromising really. Comments: A serious Springbank for serious sessions. Probably suitable for having while climbing a mountain or cleaning a U-boat, or for chiselling plaque off your teeth. Recommended by dentists! SGP: 442 - 88 points.



(Many thanks to Dirk, Enrico, KC, Chris and the Thompson brethren.)  







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