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

October 13, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
And Diabolical Duos
Let’s have more pairs today, but we’ll try to explore both ends of the 100 point scale...


Park Gate Whisky Réserve (40%, Italy, +/- 1970s) Park Gate Whisky Réserve (40%, Italy, +/- 1970s)
Really not sure about this one, almost certainly some kind of blend. Let’s proceed with trepidation... Colour: light gold. Nose: hellooooo in there... some fresh varnish, wood glue, a bit of stale putty and eventually some rather pleasant cereal notes. Fairly plain, straightforward stuff. Old fashioned and spiritous. Mouth: not dreadful. But nor will it set the world alight either. Cardboard, sweet porridge, more wood glue, bluetac, corn chips, stale oats, paint thinner, other miscellaneous weirdness... Finish: brief but getting very plasticky. Comments: We’ve had worse!
SGP: 221 - 50 points.


The Cabinet’s Choice 10 yo ‘Winston Churchill’ 10 yo (43%, Premier Distillers, US import, Single Highland Malt) The Cabinet’s Choice 10 yo ‘Winston Churchill’ (43%, Premier Distillers, US import, Single Highland Malt)
I’ve often seen this series and found it rather funny. Indeed, it was imported by ’10 Downing Street, Irvington, New Jersey’. Colour: Gold. Nose: flat and teaish. Stale bread, slightly dodgy yeast trub, a sweaty sock, corn starch, a pencil shaving or two and some white spirits. Hard to find much to say about it really. Mouth: there is some sort of maltiness to it but it’s really towards aggressive sap, wood glue, chemical plastics, pain thinner and off milk. Finish: disappears in a blink but leaves a pretty nasty chemical and rancid aftertaste. Rotten cardboard etc... Comments: Churchill was famously a quaffer of good Scotch Whisky (along with Champagne, wine, brandy...) I’m pretty certain that if this was his daily tipple I’d be diese notizen auf Deutsch schreiben. Mind you, they may well have been able to develop some kind of deadly chemical weapon out of it as well, so you never know... Impressively worse than the Park Gate blend thing.
SGP: 320 - 45 points.


Amusing as these kinds of whiskies are, they are totally devoid of pleasure. Which is another reason why I generally try not to delve into the lower echelons of the 100 point scale too often. Let’s try to find something a tad more enjoyable if you don’t mind...  


Balvenie 21 yo Port Wood (43%, OB, -/+1990s) Balvenie 21 yo Port Wood (43%, OB, -/+1990s)
Not tried one of these older batches for years... Colour: orangey amber. Nose: lovely, an abundance of honeys, ripe melon, soft beeswax, dried heather, very soft camphor notes, lemon balm and a wee earthy side which develops over time. It doesn’t really feel winey or porty in any way - in many ways it actually feels a lot older than its stated age. Mouth: there is a tad more port influence here with these notes of sweet madeira cake, orange oils, sultanas and other dark fruits. Good richness though and some nice notes of mulling spice and toasted hazelnuts. Some blood orange, strawberry wine and lemon oil. Finish: medium length, all on throat lozenges, crystallised fruits and a few herbal extracts. Comments: Very good, a well integrated finish. No wonder this bottling remained popular for so long, although I should really try it next to a contemporary example.
SGP: 641 - 85 points.


Balvenie 15 yo 1978/1993 (50.4%, OB ‘Single Barrel’, cask #204 or 640) Balvenie 15 yo 1978/1993 (50.4%, OB ‘Single Barrel’, cask #204 or 640)
This one maybe doesn’t make much sense to write notes for. When I bought the bottle at auction all the wee info boxes on the label were blank. However, I was able to narrow it down to either of the above casks using the barcode on the rear label. So, it should be one of the above... Colour: white wine. Nose: light honeys, many crisp cereals, very soft waxes, lemon rind, dusty malt bins and a scattering of minerals. Very classical and rather pure Balvenie. With water: hints of forest flora, shoe polish, gorse bush and petrichor. Mouth: oatmeal, more soft waxes, dried herbs, tea tree oil, citrus fruit peels, blossoms, orange water and more rather polished maltiness. Very good. With water: more oily, more waxes, wood resins, light herbal liqueurs, eucalyptus and various ointments. Finish: Long, lemony, herbal, gently waxy and developing notes of cough medicine and leather. Comments: Beautiful and extremely ‘textbook’ Balvenie. I suspect many of these early Single Barrels contained excellent whiskies. I had it at 89 but with water...
SGP: 551 - 90 points.


Let’s finish up with some peat...  


Bowmore 22 yo 1995/2018 (48.1%, OB ‘Hand Filled’, bourbon, cask #1304) Bowmore 22 yo 1995/2018 (48.1%, OB ‘Hand Filled’, bourbon, cask #1304)
Colour: white wine. Nose: Ooft! Pure, mineral, grassy, ‘cat pissy’ New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Seriously this is a glass full of crushed nettles, lime zest, curry leaf, kiln smoke, peat embers and seawater. Pure, brilliant, exuberantly fruity and zesty Bowmore. Lots of elegant, wispy smoke which - along with all these sharp fruits - is reminscent of some early 1970s Bowmore. Continues with black olives, tar resin and menthol, herbal toothpastes. In time the fruits evolve towards a more exotic and tropical profile. Wonderful. Mouth: clean and hugely fruity arrival. Lots of briny lemons, beach pebbles, blood orange, guava, mango, pomegranate, lime and chalky minerals. There’s sharp goosberry, lychee, lemon oils, camphor, crushed sea shells and sootiness. Pretty stunning complexity and a terrific profile that sways between seashore and eclectic fruit salad themes. Finish: Long and balanced between luscious tropical and white stone fruits, citrus, brine, pin sharp peat smoke and vivid minerality. Comments: Seriously Bowmore, more of this sort of stuff please!
SGP: 755 - 92 points.


Bowmore 45 yo 1972/2018 (46.7%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #3882, refill sherry butt, 246 bottles)

Bowmore 45 yo 1972/2018 (46.7%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #3882, refill sherry butt, 246 bottles)
To think that Signatory are still able to issue casks of Bowmore from the distilleries golden era is pretty awesome if you ask me. A wonderful chance to see how some of the greatest distillate ever made matures at such ages... Colour: amber. Nose: soft, earthy, leathery old peat embers with sweet raisins, stewed dark fruits and an underlying not to those classical tropical elements. Coal, walnut wine and - with a little time - wafting notes of tar begin to emerge. Wee notes of clove, aniseed and cinnamon rock. These aspects such as mulling spices which come from the cask mingle really perfectly with the lighter fruity and smoky tones of the distillate. More oily qualities such as paraffin, lamp oil and wood polish. Some heather smoke in the background and tiny coastal touches as well. Quite brilliant. Mouth: Ooft! Superb richness and gravelly, earthy, mineral sherry qualities. The peat has almost broken down into a myriad of herbs and spices. Beyond that the tropical fruits really emerge at the back of the palate but they’re more crystallised and preserved in character. Notes of liquorice, cured meats, orange pith and grapefruit peel. Superb! Finish: Long, lingering spices, old leather, preserved lemons, smoked teas and dried herbs. Comments: Maybe a tad old in some respects but still totally glorious. An emotional old slugger still kicking. But then, what did we really expect...
SGP: 764 - 93 points.



Thanks to Uncle Marcel. And also to Stefan for another ‘textbook’ selection.  







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