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

December 8, 2018





Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Nonsensical Triplets
You may recall the classic 1988 film ‘Twins’, which starred Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular ‘twins’. Today’s session puts me in mind of the proposed sequel ‘Triplets’ which was to star Eddie Murphy as the third brother. Apparently the project  has finally been shooting this year. Although, personally, I’m more excited by the Alsatian dialect, arthouse re-make of the original starring Serge and Olivier... sadly the project is currently ‘in development hell’.


I should probably note that this is three sessions ‘stitched’ together. They weren’t all tasted in this order... I’m not an animal!  


John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, L & E Egan Ltd, 1940s) John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, L & E Egan Ltd, 1940s)
Colour: gold. Nose: this curious and oh so typically old school Irish style that encompasses many types of polish, soots, metals and light mechanical oils, with raw cereals, barley water, caraway, eucalyptus resins, delicate ointments and some light crystalised fruits. It’s a very distinctive style these old Irish pure pot still whiskeys, not one I always enjoy I have to confess. Having said that, this is one of the most accessible and immediately pleasurable examples I’ve come across. Gets very bready, towards pumpernickel bread, wholemeal loafs and sourdough. A few bits of orange peel and graphite oil lurking in the depths as well. Mouth: surprisingly punchy and oily. All on engine oils, brake fluid, pencil lead, corn syrup, damp cereals, yeast, copper coins, metal polish, soot and rye spice. Rather fascinating but not entirely enjoyable. Finish: rather short with soft tea notes, white pepper and more industrial oils. Comments: Historically fascinating, if not technically thrilling. The nose was the most alluring part but the palate fell a tad flat for me. I suspect a low bottling strength and many years in bottle have not helped.
SGP: 340 - 76 points.


John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, T. W. Begge & Co Ltd, 1950s) John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, T. W. Begge & Co Ltd, 1950s)
Colour: light gold. Nose: surprisingly fruity and fresh compared to the Egan bottling. There’s even some rather obvious allusions to many of these contemporary Irish single malts from the late 80s and early 90s which have been rather ubiquitous these past few years. That is to say quite some dried tropical fruits, a leathery mango note, pineapple syrups, guava and papaya. Some green banana, linseed oil, sunflower seeds and scattered citrus peel notes. Extremely lovely! Mouth: doesn’t quite sustain the same level of fruitiness but the bite is good and the whole is textured, clean and full of spicy cereals, tiny touches of wax and metal polish. Finish: again it’s a tad short but this one is fruitier, cleaner and with fewer of these stale qualities which were problematic in the Egan bottling. Comments: I like this one really quite a lot. The fruitiness in the nose was a great surprise. Quaffable!
SGP: 540 - 83 points.


John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, A. Millar & Co Ltd, 1960s) John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, A. Millar & Co Ltd, 1960s)
Colour: gold. Nose: we’re back to the slightly leaner, cereal and mechanical driven style of the Egan bottling again. This one is more on rye spice, dusty malt, shoe polish, steel wool and a touch of fruity muesli as well. Again this is rather elegant and pleasant, although it is a more chiselled and slightly austere profile compared to the Begge. Once again a rather big bready quality arises over time. Mouth: oils, dusty cereals, bitter orange peel, musty fruits, hints of lemony yeast, rapeseed oil and a few dried mixed herbs. Clean and with good weight but a touch of cardboard creeping in. Finish: medium in length this time and pleasantly warming. Hints of grassy olive oil, a more buttery cereal profile and light furniture polish notes. Good! Comments: A curious mix of the previous two in some ways. I like it and I think it picked up an extra point or two in the finish.
SGP: 350 - 83 points.


What’s the logical opposite end of the spectrum from fragile old Irish whiskeys? Octomore you say?  


Octomore 5 yo 2012/2018 (59.1%, OB 09.1, American Oak, 42000 bottles) Octomore 5 yo 2012/2018 (59.1%, OB 09.1, American Oak, 42000 bottles)
From the latest batch of Octomores. Colour: white wine. Nose: a typically ‘Octomore’ intense and pure ashiness. Sea salt, brine, lemon juice, seawater, freshly shucked oysters and raw iodine drops. Hard to argue with this level of chiselled intensity and precision of character. Anything that contains this much salt probably needs water though... With water:   beach pebbles and flint smoke now. Wet seaweed, smoked mustard, miso broth, lemon scented medicine and freshly peated malt. Very raw and close to the base ingredients now - which is never something I’ll complain about. Mouth: despite the high strength this is surprisingly approachable when neat. A rather kippery, leathery smokiness. Bracken, peat, damp soil, crushed seashells, squid ink, razor clams, hot paprika and lime juice. There’s still a gristy glimmer of youthfulness but it’s well balanced by that ever-swooshing blade of peat. With water: a rather more grizzly and workmanlike peat profile now. All turf, diesel oil in brine, sheep wool, iodine, natural tar and bonfire smoke. There’s also some lemon balm notes, smoked oatmeal and German Rauchbier. Finish: long, brilliantly smoky and full of kippers, kedgeree, hot smoked salmon, lemon juice, sandalwood ash and salty/umami seasonings. Comments: These young, full term bourbon matured Octomores are undeniably impressive whiskies. I’m not sure I could manage more than a dram at a time given the brute-chiselled profiles they tend to possess. But they’re undeniably excellent.
SGP: 368 - 86 points.


Octomore 5yo 2012/2018 (58.2%, OB 09.2, Bordeaux finish, 12000 bottles) Octomore 5yo 2012/2018 (58.2%, OB 09.2, Bordeaux finish, 12000 bottles)
Re-racked in ex-Bordeaux French Oak casks, wish me luck... Colour: Salmon/gold?? Nose: despite the magnitude of the Octomore distillate, what strikes first is still the oak. There’s a kind of smoked pencil shaving thing going. Salt n’ vinegar crisps, wood ash, sharp peat smoke, cured meats, smoked dark beers, ham hock and a rather immense saltiness. With water: a big carpet of smoke, salted almonds, more smoked meats, mercurochrome and hot wood ashes. Mouth: the wood, the wine and whisky really clash here. This is tough. There’s a sharpness of antiseptic that fights with heavy marzipan, some acidic red fruits, smoked mead, more meatiness such as bacon, more sawdust and hot pencil shavings. Not my cup malt I’m afraid so far. With water: still not too cohesive. Peated aspirin, cranberries, young crusted port, mint leaf, camphor and hessian sack cloth. Some meat broth and mutton notes as well. Finish: long and immensely leathery, earthy, cough syrupy and with this kind of sticky/sweet/briny confusion. Comments: I really struggle with this kind of whisky. It’s profile is massive, but it remains out of whack and unbalanced in my view. I’d take the 09.1 over this any day of the year. I think Octomore’s great distillate is kind of deformed in this kind of re-racking.
SGP: 378 - 76 points.


Octomore 5yo 2012/2018 (62.9%, OB 09.3, 18000 bottles) Octomore 5yo 2012/2018 (62.9%, OB 09.3, 18000 bottles)
This one comes from 52 tonnes of barley grown in Irene’s field at Octomore Farm on Islay in 2011. That barley translated into 134 casks, the majority of which were apparently second fill. Not sure about the rest of the composition, but I’m always excited to try the more terroir driven releases from Bruichladdich. Colour: gold. Nose: we’re somewhere between the first two. There’s a more swollen style smokiness and peat; globally a slicker and oilier profile at first. Notes of boiler smoke, gentian, natural tar, herbal toothpaste and assorted smoked shellfish. There’s also stuff like graphite, carbon paper and mineral oil. A wink of earthiness as well. In time it becomes greasier and seems to fatten in the glass. We’re back on form so far... With water: mineral salts, peated bath bombs (gap in the market I’d say...) germoline, green olives, capers, anchovy paste and various raw medical tinctures. Mouth: to quote Serge Valentin... ‘POW!’. Huge delivery on arrival, beautifully medicinal, metal polish, frying bacon fat, glycerine, lemon jam, dried herbs, pure seawater, black olives, squid ink in brine, lighter fluid, wood char, iodine, kelp and more of these really lovely herbal toothpaste notes. This is bigger and more immense than either of the other two and the strength is obviously higher, but it is also more complex, more interesting and just more charismatic. With water: mustardy, salty, a very pure peat smoke, some linen cloth, lemon juice, turmeric, bay leaf, white smoked fish, oyster sauce. Many excellent things. Finish: long and full of antiseptic, embrocations, tar, lime juice, ash, crushed seashells, ink and beach pebbles. Comments: I often thought that the process of creating Octomore was one that obfuscated any characteristics of terroir from the barley. However, there’s no denying that this one has ‘something else’ about it over the other two. I’d also say that there were glimmers of wine casks in here as well but they felt subdued and well-integrated. All in all, this is yet another one of Bruichladdich’s Islay barley expressions that forces you to really think about the intersecting relationship between raw ingredients, locality, process, casks, time and the cumulative bearing on quality and character. Kudos!
SGP: 478 - 90 points.


Who ever needed an excuse to taste some Springbank?  


Springbank 5 yo (43%, OB for Italy, 1.5 litre, circa 1970) Springbank 5 yo (43%, OB for Italy, 1.5 litre, circa 1970)
A rather infamous bottling in magnum format. Totally cool that Springbank would release something so daft and fun way back when. Mind you, Campbeltown in the swinging 60s was probably quite something to behold... Colour: gold. Nose: Superbly fresh and coastal with an almost glycerol, syrupy quality. It screams pure ‘old Springbank’ with all these wee notes of ink, pebbles, many shades of fruit, a background wisp of peat smoke and soft herbal and resinous tones. I’d say that this goes to show that great distillate doesn’t need great age, however, this being Springbank, they may have made up the numbers with some 30 year old... Anyway, continues to flex with these notes of shoe polish, mineral oil, precious waxes and hints of beach sand and medical tinctures. Mouth: old shoe polish mixed with yellow Chartreuse. Wool, lime peel, plenty of hessian, metal polish, soot and waxy citronella. Finish: good length and getting increasingly waxy, sooty, oily and coastal with a kind of flinty mineral side. Comments: I wonder how much freshness was retained by bottling in large format? It’s long accepted that wine certainly matures better in magnums. Having said that, there are also a few wee glimmers of good OBE in this one as well. Anyway, well worth seeking out. Delicious and quaffable young old Springbank.
SGP: 462 - 90 points.


Springbank 1996/2017 (49.5%, OB Private Bottling for Barrie, Gates Poe, Stevenson & Welsh, cask 12/298, fresh sherry hogshead, 123 bottles) Springbank 1996/2017 (49.5%, OB Private Bottling for Barrie, Gates Poe, Stevenson & Welsh, cask 12/298, fresh sherry hogshead, 123 bottles)
There’s many, many bottlings of Springbank under this label series it seems. Not sure it would ever be possible to know exactly how many. Colour: light amber. Nose: a rather mineral and clean sherry character which works very well with the pretty chiselled, coastal Springbank distillate style. There’s also some sappy peat, pithy citrus peels, beach pebbles, old rope and various fresh shellfish. Perhaps some blood orange and a toffee crisp as well. Mouth: feels a tad disjointed between the sherry and distillate - which is something I often find with contemporary Springbank in sherry. Lots of spiced orange marmalade, some nutmeg, camphor, stewed fruits, marzipan and things like gauze and light antiseptic. It’s still pretty good though, it must be said. Finish: medium-long. Lots of spiced ginger cake, medical notes, umami broth, soy sauce, lemon cough drops and some slightly farmy notes in the distance. Comments: Good, solid contemporary Springbank. Although I really prefer this style from refill / bourbon. Not convinced by the sherry cask here.
SGP: 462 - 85 points.


Springbank 25 yo 1991 (53.8%, Kinko & Club Qing, 143 bottles)

Springbank 25 yo 1991 (53.8%, Kinko & Club Qing, 143 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: interesting, you definitely notice the ‘shift’ that occurred between the early and late 1990s in this one. This is more of a straight briny and farmy side. More direct, more pure and rather more crisp and lean. You can see why these batches were tough at around 10 years of age. Now this style really starts to feel fuller and more complex. Notes of wax, mirabelle eau de vie, carbon paper, beach wood, lanolin, sack cloth and things like canvas and salted barley broth. Even some mushroom and leaf mulch in there. Really excellent! With water: cornflour, citrus peels, tinned peaches, some garden fruits a bit more wax polish. Mouth: again this is rather sharp, direct and pure. More towards old riesling, petrol, flints, canvas, soot, damp malt, pine cones and some bready and toasty notes. Rather a lot of cereals, some yeasty sourdough, lemon cough medicine and subtle hints of things like TCP and dried parsley. Oily sheep wool, coal dust, salted flatbread and dry porridge oats. A few white flowers as well. With water: ah, again it’s a little sweeter and fruitier with water. Although it’s a curious fruitiness that takes in waxy lemon peel, fruit salad juices, mandarin cordial and gooseberry. Finish: good length and even displaying a little tropical fruit juice, raw barley, crisp cereals, earl grey tea and cherry cola cubes. Comments: A very unusual and rather fascinating Springbank that keeps on changing and evolving with time and water, while also demonstrating a rather short-lived and obscure ‘house’ style that’s perhaps worth a little revisionism these days. There’s lots of pleasure to be found here. I had it around 88/89 but with water and time I think it’s firmly deserving of...
SGP: 561 - 90 points.



Thanks to Martin and Billy.  







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