March gets messy, but it was such fun.
Cameronbridge 1979 37yo SMWS G4.11 [210 bts] 50% WB0
- N: Instantly likeable and with more complexity upfront than the flawless yet simple Glendronach 12 ‘Original’ i had enjoyed a few nights previous. Notes of sweet-sour toffee, fruit pulp and something of an oily rag mixed with a damp sponge, stored in my cupboard underneath the sink – all of which is good in this context. Furthermore there’s a little washing powder [also from said cupboard], and a slightly burnt char note, also good.
- T: Lovely sour-sweet and a glossy edge with water added. Idiosyncratic grain thereon in.
- F: Long, lip smacking finish.
- C: I like it, the nose especially.
Scores 85 points
Before i have time to decide on the next dram, I’m passed an Imperial from ‘private stock’.
Imperial 1995/2014 19yo G&M 43%WB85.40
On Whiskybase there are only three Imperial recorded releases in 1993 and fifteen in 1994, all independent bottles. On the other side there are seventeen and twenty three expressions submitted for years 1996 and 1997 respectfully. Im not sure what happened in 1995 but it seems it was Imperial’s first and last flourish before the curtains were drawn – like the last great bloom from a mature blossom tree living it’s final season. For the year 1995 there are no less than 183 expressions acknowledged on WB, again all independent bottlings. Demolished in 2013 [to make way for Dalmunach], Imperial didn’t actually make any whisky after 1998. This is only my fifth Imperial and i’m delighted.
- N: This is right up my street with it’s dry fruity-grape maltiness more than akin to a light-yet-leathery toffee Inchgower with notes of plump raisins peppered in fine sawdust.
- T: Again, a little winey which is no bad thing here. I fear the body may be a little thin and watery, but no, it holds its form well. Thankfully wasn’t bottled at 40% otherwise it may have struggled to come through fully. Develops on a delicious light raisin-maltiness.
- F: That raisin-malt is joined by some soft fruity [banana] acetone.
- C: Very nice but immediately overshadowed by the excellent Inchgower that I’m passed, from the same supplier.
Scores 84 points
Inchgower 1998/2013 15yo G&M CC new map 46% WB84
- N: Malty with leather & raisins, subtle oily farm notes, wax coats, heathery-hay and shortbread.
- T: A soft-sharp yet instantly delicious arrival. There’s a suspension,……… before it releases into the finish, joined by some smoked-malty notes. This is really good.
- F: The deliciousness continues to flood into a good length finish on clean, dryish sherry.
- C: Lovely Inchgower, lovely whisky. The sherry which isn’t heavy has much to say, but the distillate is never lost. A great buy Heidi, stupidly low priced, all good for us.
Scores 86 points
And then there were three! How will i manage?
Glen Keith 1996/2013 G&M CC New map 46% WB84.25
Glen Keith sits directly behind the Strathisla distillery, both of which are owned by Pernod Ricard but commissioned in the 1950’s by Seagram’s Sam Bronfman, to cope with the growing demand for it’s blends such as Chivas Regal, 100 Pipers and Passport. Mothballed in 1999 and seemingly closed for good, it reopened again in 2013.
- N: Light and youthful sherry-raisin distillate.
- T: Light again, the raisin distillate wrapped in a light oak blanket – classic refill malt.
- F: Light, slightly tannic, barley-spirit finish.
- C: A soft, light dram with a gentle sherry cask influence that allows the distillate to shine at all times.
Scores 83 points
It’s time to get cracking on with the SMWS outturn, i still have four more to choose from my allowance of five.
Laphroaig 1996 19yo SMWS 29.209 [258 bts] 50.1% WB0
- N: Quite a dizzy mix of light barley herbal with buttery and farm notes. Settles in the groove with herbal-sweet chewing gum overall – stretchy stuff, with smoked barley clearly evident.
- T: Bitter-sweet toasted char, light waxy herbal and sweet-peat – again, a heady mix.
- F: Lovely again, now with a bitter edge [despite the sweetness]… also with a dryness, a sure saline note and cool-fresh [eucalyptus] smoke.
- C: Nothing wrong here, but whether you’d pay £124 for it is another thing. The bottles [online] sold out within a few days, so that answers that. As good as it is, and it is good, it didn’t quite pull my heart strings.
Scores 88 points
Then i’m given this one.
Bunnahabhain 2006/2016 9yo SMWS 10.108 [282 bts] 60.45% WB88
- N: Rather nice nose full of curiosities. Best Bunna nose i’ve had from SMWS.
- T: After all these drams [five so far], the ethanol is rather prickly but then it is easily the strongest whisky of the lot so far.
- F: Smoky vegetal chewing gum, the smoke intensity building before subsiding to a comfortably soft smoky loveliness.
- C: It’s a good single cask Bunna.
Scores 85 points
Back to my outturn dram #3. Are you keeping up?
Glenlossie 1992 23yo SMWS 46.51 [258 bts] 54.4% WB0
- N: Savoury-sweet bourbon character with notes of coconut husk and dark wooden furniture shavings.
- T: Savoury-to-sweet malt with a chew on chocolate and soil. Very balanced, middle ground malt with vanilla oak and a little cream of coconut.
- F: Amongst other things, sushi-ginger, the somewhat predictable vanilla and a heathery, dry spice at the death.
- C: A good, ‘tech’ dram but one that grates after only one.
Scores 84 points
Outturn Number 4:
Glen Grant 1996 20yo SMWS 9.115 [240 bts] 60.5% WB0
- N: Another modern-oak speysider.
- T: Continues on the theme, rather resinous and voluminous.
- F: Big all the way.
- C: Bold, modern dram. Ideal session malt.
Scores 84 points
With yet another display of generosity from the table I’m passed:
Craigellachie 2002 14yo SMWS 44.76 [240 bts] 57.5% WB0
- N: Thin sliced [white] bread – toasted golden and glazed with butter. It’s butter sweet in fact, just like Butterkist popcorn.
- T: Similar desirability on the palate, now with a herbal toastedness, such is that medium char. Overall there’s a sweet-savoury intensity with notes of sweet buttered peas.
- F: Herbal sweet with a light woody smoke.
- C: A very nice broad and complex dram with a wide appeal.
Scores 87 points
This is official my last outturn dram of the night, which is good because i must be close to my limits.
Glen Scotia 1999 17yo SMWS 93.70 [234 bts] 53.4% WB0
- N: This is getting on for Rancio, certainly polished mahogany, furniture polish=shoe polish, sweet soy>bovril and vanilla-straw. Somewhat disappointingly, adding water brings the vanilla to the fore.
- T: Quite a complex and intense concoction with nutty notes [macadamia=cashew], a waxy mouthfeel and an acute yet sustained attack/intensity throughout – a style for the German’s i’ve been told, by Germans!
- F: Damn that vanilla, it’s everywhere now. Aside from that however, the polish and the deeper, [near rancio] sherry notes from the nose still apply. Lovely resinous waxiness on the mouthfeel at the end, modern and ‘techy’ yes but delicious all the same. No doubt in 30 years time we will be lamenting this mouthfeel style over the new contemporary style.
- C: I reckon this could pass for a cask strength 15yo Glendronach [Revival], and everyone would go mad for it – even with that over-done vanilla.
Scores 87 points
But i can’t leave without trying the Jura – another generous offering.
Isle of Jura 1988 28yo SMWS 31.34 [192 bts] 48.3% WB84
- N: I was convinced this was the Laphroaig but you were right Phil [naturally] – and thank you for this too. i was the confused/tipsy one and yet it is Laphroaig-esque and not overly Jura-esque, displaying a heavily peated character with a [goats] cheesy farminess and a vegetal side – in that ‘1, 2, 3’ order of potency. There’s an authentic countryside note here, that is for sure.
- T: A moorish, salivating, mostly savoury ball of peated barley-straw yumminess to chew over.
- F: Short but sweet, dry and hollow pine finish.
- C: Despite my very limited experience, this is nevertheless the nicest Jura i’ve had, on par with the Ob. ’Camas an Staca’ 30yo WB86.70 WF87
Scores 86 points
That’s more than enough for me. I believe i also had the Cragganmore but i don’t recall it and i didn’t make any notes for it. It only leaves me to thank Phil, Jeff and Heidi for their generosity throughout the night. Later on I find myself announcing to the world [restaurant near Charing Cross], that this will be my last ever pizza – before boarding the last train out of London, falling asleep, missing my stop and ending up shelling out pounds and pounds for a cab from Dartford back into zone 3 – doh!