A flight of Fringe fancies: Edinburgh Fringe 2018

Fringe venue Mansfield Traquair murals.jpgMore highlights from the 18th Edinburgh Fringe, held at the stunning Mansfield Traquair. The Traquair is awash with murals painted by Irish-born artist Phoebe Anna Traquair [1852-1936]. the first woman elected to the Royal Scottish Academy.

The event itself was sold out in minutes, attended by knowledgeable punters, many of them locals. The organisers allow for 30 stands and 500 attendees per day, meaning even suppliers struggle to secure a spot.

The Fringe is much like all the other whisky festivals, although there is a unique energy to this one. The wholly appropriate & stunning church venue sets the scene, allowing for a lively & bustling yet relaxed atmosphere. Highly recommended [SW].

Onto my Fringe fancies, ordered by age.


[Sasanokawa Shuzo] Yamazakura NAS Ob. blended whisky 40% WB75[22] WF70

I was told that the Sasanokawa Shuzo distillery is 50% Japanese-owned, 50% French-owned and has been distilling since the 1940’s.

Sasanokawa Shuzo Yamazakura.jpg

  • N: Youthful yeasty spirity pong.
  • T: Well tempered, clean drinker.
  • F: Little.
  • C: Ideal Highball juice. Maybe worth looking out for the 16yo which was released [into the UK market] in 2016 WB85.49[43].

Scores 76 points


Shinshu Mars Komagatake [2017/18] Ob. Nature of Shinshu – Shinanotanpopo [11000 bts] 52% WB87.42[14] WF80

Shinshu Mars Komagatake.jpg

Named after a flower, this is one of a botanical series – the Japanese Flora n Fauna range if you will.

  • N: Floral and mineral with ash, or peat?
  • T: The US oak speaks now with a touch of sherry, ash and butterscotch – all rather young.
  • F: Lingers temporarily.
  • C: Contemporary, rounded, youthful style. There are 11000 bottles of this NAS whisky, so why it’s commanding around €130 online [Sept ’18] is mind boggling.

Scores 81 points


E&K Adelphi indian fusion.jpg

E&K 5yo [2017] Adelphi Indian Fusion [800 bts] 57.8% WB88.43[9]

Consists of Ardmore, Glenrothes & Amrut.

  • C: Amrut provides the Indian element but this has a Scotch profile through & through. Decently balanced whisky blend, but one that commands a hefty price tag [£145 Aug ’18].

Scores 84 points


Craigellachie 2006/2018 11yo HL OMC #15034 [717 bts] 50% WB0

Craigellachie 11yo OMC.jpg

  • N: Though I can quickly tire of them, it’s refreshing to return to youthful spirit-driven malts from time to time.
  • T: Dry treacle and dark savoury-sweet sugars.
  • F: No notes [too busy nattering to Scott – great to see you].
  • C: Good good.

Scores 84 points


Tamdhu 1999/2018 19yo HL OMC #14936 [304 bts] 50%

Not much Tamdhu around, especially at this fair age.

Tamdhu 19yo OMC.jpg

  • N: Malty and floral with a firm raisin-y [Inchgower] profile.
  • T: With a fair balance overall, we are mainly on malty raisins. Some bitter notes emerge with water.
  • F: More of the same, finishing with a metallic touch and understated aniseed/liquorice.
  • C: Though it’s not perfect, I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at a bottle. Fairly priced too at £83 [Sept ’18], another cheer for the independent’s.

Scores 85 points


Bowmore 1997/2018 20yo Adelphi cask #2414 [601 bts] 56.3% WB88.52[25]

Bowmore 1997 Adelphi.jpg

  • N: Violets, glycerine, minced lamb, stuffing and the aroma of sheep sheering – that’s slightly different from the actual wool [more countryside ozone].
  • T: Floral notes flow around violets, buttercups & sweet pea for example. Also making the list: snow peas, chess pieces [wha?], and lamb’s lettuce. 
  • F: Beeswax, linseed oil & furniture polish, all carried along faithfully by the barley juice.
  • C: Excellent. Much like the Cadenhead Bowmore I have currently open [WB], though maybe a tad stiffer. Voting-wise, this came 9th.

Scores 88 points


Bunnahabhain 1997/2018 20yo Ob. Palo Cortado [1620 bts] 54.9% [750ml] WB90[2]

Bunnahabhain 21yo Palo Cortado.jpg

Though it’s already made it onto Whiskybase, it’s not due to be released until sometime around October. 

  • N: Sour dairy, some peat and mineral notes.
  • T: Dunnage-heavy — moist fungal earth with a fleeting sweetness, vegetal forest floors and cocoa [Kirsty’s official note, spot on]. 
  • F: Becomes sticky sweet, concluding with sweet sherry, mineral and bung cloth.
  • C: This is very good. Do I sound surprised? Indeed!

Scores 88 points


Ardmore 1996/2018 21yo Adelphi cask #149027 [236 bts] 61.2%

Ardmore 21yo Adelphi.jpg

  • C: Bourbon-matured peat works far better for me than in sherry. This is a desirably dirty one.

Scores 88 points


Blair Athol 1995/2018 23yo HL OMC #15030 [684 bts] 50% WB87[1]

Blair Athol 1996 23yo OMC.jpg

  • N: Someone charred this barrel to within an inch! Sweet oaky Weetabix beholds the distillery character perfectly.
  • T: Full delivery on charr-y & waxy sherry with distinct notes of fruity boiled sweets & raspberry/strawberry candy string.
  • F: The cheeks puff out before blowing across the barrel of a smoking gun.
  • C: Good stuff, though not always graceful.

Scores 87 points


Mortlach 1993/2018 25yo Adelphi cask #4466 [385 bts] 56.1% WB93.67[3]

Mortlach 25yo Adelphi.jpg

From a refill sherry hogshead.

  • C: Coming in at 4th place voting-wise [RMW], is a spongy malt with some distillery-associated waxiness. A decent session whisky, rather Clynelish-eque at times.

Scores 85 points


Glenfiddich 26yo [2018] Ob. Excellence 43% WB86.28[63] [WF]78[2014]

Glenfiddich 26yo Excellence.jpg

  • N: Malty-light yet with a superbly weighted oily body.
  • T: Same again. This light oiled, well-aged style is simply ideal and faultless in its class.
  • F: Dunnage-light on chalky bung cloth.
  • C: If this juice wasn’t so precious/expensive [rrp £350, Aug ’18], I’d have a serious drinking problem. Beautiful lubricant.

Scores 89 points


Blended Scotch Whisky 1979/2018 BBR for RMW Sherry butt cask #4 [385 bts] 53.3% WB91[1] WF90

We finish with the winner of the 18th RMW Whisky Fringe, dram of the year 2018. The Tomatin 36yo which I rated equally came in second [Blog].

BBR 1979.jpg

  • N: Like it’s had a magic sprinkle of [Diageo] finishing dust strewn upon it. Under the hood is a whisky that only age can provide, 38 years of old sherry cask maturation on the nose that justifies the very reasonable £165rrp alone. Not sure I can detect any grain.
  • T: It’s started to turn tincture-y/syrupy though there is a slight thinness to it that prevents it becoming so. Having said that, the concentrated fruitiness flows freely over an oaky bed, encapsulated within an undeniable aged/married complex. Again, no clear signs of a grain here. Could this be a tea-spooned blend then? RMW claim they don’t know either but I know an old man who thinks he does ;]
  • F: Long woody, ashy, fruity and creamy finish – dry-ish though fully salivating/ever-flowing with all sorts of dancing details to the death.
  • C: An unusual oldie in that it shines brightest at the tail end. A firm contender for my whisky of the Fringe though Adelphi’s Miltonduff just pipped it for me [Blog]. 

Scores 91 points





Fringe venue Traquair

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