Today im going to meet an ‘old’ man i first met in a pub in Glasgow – salubrious beginnings I know! On the Queens ‘official’ birthday, six whisky _________ [fill in as appropriate], met at an undisclosed London location to share ‘Anniversary’ themed drams, food and thoughts on whisky & life etc. Here’s what we got up to.
Lochside 1966/1989 22yo SV cask #7253-55 [800 bts] 43% WB89.46 WF89 WM87 tOMoH8
Today I reminded myself that Lochside also made grain, though this is a single malt however.
- N: A soft old-bottled one with a touch of sooty smoke which helps to place it, date wise. Fruit-wise the Cavalier gets it spot on: tomato plant – specifically the sticky/pollen-y stalks & stems of the plant, not those ambiguous ‘tricksy’ fruits themselves. Fruit sugars begin to emerge with a little garden shed [more from that sooty side], as i go in for my first sip of the day.
- T: Soft [again] & narrow arrival with a delicate woody creamy body. A tricky one to read first up given the complex subtleties, such are the hardships of a whisky enthusiast. More contemplative time needed.
- F: I find the finish fairly short with a polite/considerate tannic grape skin and bitter wood finish.
- C: A style i like. Not initially overwhelming but strangely haunting/memorable.
Scores 87 points
Glen Moray 1971/2011 39yo SMWS 35.59 ‘Arabian Nights’ 40.9% WB90 WF90 tOMoH9
- N: Note the abv. Probably too risky to wait one more year or maybe it was just right at 39? Technically its been caught in ‘nick of time’ but the nose suggests this grand oldie doesnt need saving whatsoever. Nosing this, its immediately in the ‘ball park’ with candid fruit sugars>acetone<fruits, a dunnage shortbread squidgyness,…. so after some discussion im going with: a dram that is ‘nasally tactile’. Lots of good stuff here.
- T: Remarkably intact, vibrant & virile given ‘all the things’ – coming across ABV-wise as high 40’s not low. The arrival then is firm whilst displaying an equally great delicacy. After initially going down a [subtle] sherry cask rabbit hole, in hindsight its obviously from bourbon wood – those fruits so very reminiscent of bourbon casks [Bunnas for example] from the same period. Going back to that firm delicacy, im talking of a firm ‘hollow’ fungal note, the oak delivered like thin shaved/layered waves of a chocolate Flake – so its one of those dreamy bourbon refills with plenty of cask-complex action without the blatancy.
- F: Rose-petal [SMWS], fruity acetone & bitter-ashy finish. Tannic witch hazel at the death.
- C: Fabulous. Not too many modern [SMWS] equivalents given the current fascination with virgin and first-fill casks.
Scores 90 points
Irish single malt 1991/2015 24yo Whisky-Fassle 10th Anniversary 46.7% WB91.23 WF89 tOMoH9
‘Fass’ [in German] means cask. Fassle is the diminutive of fass, so it may translate from German to English as whisky ‘caskette’ for example. Thank you AS, i hope i understood that right.
- N: Buttery plimsoles, 1980’s Puma bags [double handled, blue with a grey logo – remember the craze?], smoked-charcoaled ‘street-food’ chestnuts, oily cereal fruits [soft green],…. already enough to marvel at but theres heaps here. Joyful.
- T: Complexities aside, this is instantly likeable & super-drinkable. I spent much time further marvelling at the puffy perfectly-sour barley spirit, aged without separate oak notes, i.e. cask integration.
- F: Whilst others focused on the fruits, my concentration was again on the moorish barley mash and the [bourbon] putty base.
- C: Time goes quickly when youre having fun. Delicious stuff.
Scores 90 points
Littlemill 1990/2017 26yo Cadenhead 175th Anniversary [180 bts] 52.6% WB90.55 tOMoH9
What a treat, and this has only just been released.
- N: Thats some barley spirit: oily & nutty with flourishing bouquets, minted peas,…. moving around somewhat whilst the underlying relatively-soft barley grasses gradually settle.
- T: Seamless transition from the nose to palate. Dry putty, similar [Irish] fruity style to the last dram with an aspirin-dry development [mouthfeel/taste combined],.. moving to paracetamol – dont be alarmed, its a pain-free experience.
- F: Another bourbon-cask-beauty with a long putty-straw, green fruit=grain finish.
- C: Beautiful ‘happy place’ whisky.
Scores 90 points
Wowee, three 90’s in a row !
Balvenie-Glenlivet 1979/1992 12yo Cadenhead 150th Anniversary 59.5% WB0 WF78 WM84 tOMoH8
Oh no, another cork ‘gorn orff’.
- N: First whisky today with a [slightly metallic] funk – my interest is piqued. Despite only a little time to open out, its clear this is stylistically ‘old & rare’ personified. The barley comes through firmly with only a little TWT, a touch of smoke [consistent with the style of the day], and a ‘whisp’ [wink] of sweet meatiness [think honeyed crackling fats or maple bacon]. What keeps coming round however is the rich barley oils & deep sugars, consolidated/bound by the 12+ cask years & more than double that in the bottle.
- T: Despite any bottle ageing/cork issues etc., its clear this malt is intact and retaining its [abv-based] large-ness. We have then a confident & balanced savoury malt that is slick, sleek and sure-footed with a variety of colours going in many a direction. A little water subdues the 59.5% and brings out a cereal saltiness.
- F: Copper-oak-raisin-barley with lemon & aspirin [Lemsip vibe], at the death.
- C: I see Serge really didnt get on too well with this one, finding it rather young & austere, but then i like the austere style and a ‘young’ 12yo bottled in the early 90’s is a whole different beast compared with todays 12yos. I find this indicative of the ‘heart of Speyside’ style, albeit with CS action. Another bottle id like more time with.
Scores 87 points
SMWS Kaleidoscope Bar ‘Living cask #1’ [Dailuaine] 11yo+  approx 56% tOMoH8
1st-fill ex-oloroso cask then finished in a quarter cask #1.
- N: The new SMWS Kaleidoscope bar in London [Blog] have in-house living casks. This is a bottle from the first [a young Dailuaine did i hear?], that has had to give up its Scottish citizenship for legal reasons. First thing that springs to mind is of a fairly new Madeira cask, one offering a vibrant [Rare Malts – tOMoH], tropical fruit sweetness with plenty of melon, some chocolate squidgy honeyed maltiness and a small handful of Brazil nuts,… More time=more descriptors as its chatty.
- T: Perfumed candy [more Rare Malts-esque action], and a slight acetone [again] fruitiness with raisins and a likeable mouthfeel.
- F: After all that abundant sweet fruity action it concludes perversely: milky>chalky.
- C: As easy to read as it is likeable.
Scores 86 points
Strathclyde 1977/2013 36yo HL Sovereign cask #9912 58.1% WB88.45 AWD92 bible ’15:95 tOMoH8
On the day of the Queens ‘official’ birthday, this is my ‘Anniversary’ offering. The three links being that this  ‘Sovereign’ bottling was distilled  40 years ago on the  Queens Silver Jubilee year – not that im a royalist at all.
- N: Bearing in mind its just been opened it appears somewhat soft>>dull, although it did follow the young [uber-technicolor] SMWS [Dailuaine]. In hindsight maybe it would have better following the Lochside but whos to know? Anyway, back to the ‘things’. At first theres plenty of heavy-handed oloroso to contend with, not at all how i remembered it before from a sample that had breathed. What i do like is the deep, mellowed-sugar richness. Its nice to get away from the [often predictable] varnished bubble-gum bourbon grains from time to time.
- T: Big, deep yet soft sherry – im dreaming of that young ‘Dark Side’ Tulli WB at 37 years old.
- F: Rather blatant oloroso dollop at first before the delicious wood comes through. Im enjoying the ‘single malt character’ finish, that association mainly coming down to the sherry cask and the fact that Strathclyde & sherry fit like a glove.
- C: Only a few days after opening, already this Strathclyde is starting to cook. Ill be doing a full bottle review as soon as maybe. In the meantime some random anniversary facts i meant to share on the day:
- On this day in 1909, the first genuine emergency SOS signal was transmitted.
- News of the sound barrier being broken is released to the public by the U.S. Air Force in 1948.
- Breaking not through but over the rainbow, Judy Garland was born on this day in 1922.
Laphroaig 32yo  Ob. [5880 bts] 46.6% WB91.66 WF92 tOMoH9
- N: Fruit-layered putty complex, unique sponge [think cake=natural sea versions], silicone, putty-ash, charred chestnuts, lime tutti-fruity, waxy vanilla<lychee,… and later on over-taking those fruits come the barley sugars to the fore. No doubt this bottle will continue transforming over the following months/years.
- T: A thin body characterised by its age, also a tad thin=soft-sharp [again on opening], with an aged delicacy. Notes of medicinal<fruits, some nuttiness, a sweet>saltiness. Beguiling.
- F: The driest-waxy mouthfeel i can imagine [i like], with long ashy remnants [i dig].
- C: Immediate love and increasing intrigue as to how this will open out over time. I imagine my score would increase further with more exposure. The Cavalier will enjoy!
Yet another 90 point score
Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 65’  Cognac, Grande Champagne 46% WF93 tOMoH9
This has been on my wish-list ever since Serge reviewed it.
- N: An immediate spell-binding [more Rare Malts] vibrancy, sweet fungal, acetone=varnished fruits,… Concentrating on the fruits for a sec: pink [sweet] grapefruit, blood orange, orange blossom, orange essential oils and a developing syrup sweetness. The huge ‘wow factor’ fails to diminish.
- T: The arrival is so big/enormous/intense, it past me by a few times. Sometimes i caught a few things: some of the sugar-fruit complex, the varnish, the fruit=oak tannins,.. Its an intense temporal explosion however and we are into the finish in no time.
- F: Long, long, rich & deep. Finishes with fruit herbal teas, garden mint and sweet Thai basil amongst many other things,…. things that im looking forward to discovering if & when i am fortunate enough to grab a bottle.
- C: The palate may well provide the attention-grabbing headline but its the nose and even-more-so the finish that occupy the column inches.
Scores an amazing 91 but no higher given the swift & frenetic middle.
Ardbeg Perpetuum  Ob. Distillery release #L61198 15002090 49.2% WB86.70 tOMoH7
- N: Buttery, salted sweet [sandwich] pickle, pomegranate syrup, some farm notes – its all here.
- T: A combo of youth & age, rather unlike the standard release. US oak provides the platform for a sweet-fresh herbal allium profile – presented overall with a soft touch.
- F: Sweet raisins & splintered vanilla – again displaying a considered balance of youth & age.
- C: Nice enough, the age combo working rather well.
Scores 86 points which [pleasingly] i see now is the same score I gave it last time.
Bowmore 1968/2001 32yo Ob. Stanley P Morrison Co. 50th Anniversary [1860 bts] 45.5% WB93.65 WF91 WM91 tOMoH10
- N: [Tasted blind]. Most bizarre in that it smells of my dad! Jokes aside, we all know our parents have a distinct scent and mine rather poetically omits the aroma of 1968 Bowmore! Back on earth, this is bready with extraordinarily compacted cereals, putty, vanilla, tutti-fruity, a hint of creamy peat, a touch of farm. I find the profile neither particularly unfamiliar nor overtly striking/reminiscent, and yet there is something unusual/rare & yet ‘just so’. We must be in the 1970s, even probably the 1960s.
- T: More compacted cereal fruits and a time-stretched [long summer days], lip-smacking developmental journey.
- F: Concludes eventually with sweet-bitter-dry bourbon vanilla, but what happens before the end-goal is rather,.. ideal.
- C: I cant place this at all. Theres nothing out of the ordinary in terms of alarming finishes, outrageous hyper-notes, bombs, tricks,.. Everything is [old skool] ‘just so’ and yet im not sure ive quite a reference for it – so actually in that way it is indeed ‘out of the ordinary’. Revealed: Bowmore. The ‘old man’ asks me whether id ever had ’60’s Bowmore before. I wasnt sure i had, and i can confirm that this was my first. My score wavered between 90 & 92 so today then: 91 points.
Thats an incredible end to a fantastic line up. Thank you so much to tOMoH and JS for all of the things, including the music. Im still working my way through those excellent play lists looking for the ‘Spaceships & Star Destroyers taking off’ track.
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