Bottle Polishing: Summer 2018, Medal Winners

Admittedly these notes are long-winded [it’s tricky with whole bottles], but they do get slightly easier as you read down.

 

Balblair 1999/2014 [1st release] Ob. 46% [1ltr] WB84.51[51] [WF]85[2nd] WM84[3]

FIRST CONTACT:

  • N: Resinous and varnished oaky, sherried & bourbon-y fruity nose with sweet linseed oil, butterscotch<chestnut oak, maple syrup=sawdust, bitter>sweet liqueurs,…
  • T: Decent power with spicy/resinous polished oak and a [previous cask-content] fruity sweetness. A little water helps calm the waves but it’s not plain sailing.
  • F: Rings true with a medium length finish on a pleasing squidgy spiciness and fruity nutty malty vanilla [bourbon & sherry] confectionary [Wham bars, aniseed drops, raspberry bubblegum chews,..]
  • C: I’ve hope this will shine brighter after a month or so. Don’t think I’ll love it, but I certainly like it. [Provisionally scores 83].

GOING IN:

Balblair 1999 1st release.JPG

  • N: A waxy & grainy/cereal-y, nicely oak-seasoned bourbon=sherry combo of fruity>vanilla-y, peppery notes with vegetal box leaf/salad leaves. Thumbs up for the nose for sure.
  • T: The sherry [oloroso probably] appears consolidated within the whole, which is generally the most favourable situation in my book. Malty, raisin-y, strawberry/raspberry sugars are set against a stronger waxy-vegetal character.
  • F: Becomes very waxy into the finish with coconut<oil a strong contender and additionally, a mild touch of indistinct toothpaste & bitter leafy freshness.
  • C: A decent & enjoyable Balblair. You could do worse by a few lesser vintages. [Provisionally scores 85].

FINAL REFLECTIONS:

  • N: After some months, the nose continues to be bold but still easily readable. The barley-malty-toffee sweetness is equally balanced, set against a more mineral, root vegetal, earthy, leafy and even aromatic side – the distillate and the cask readily co-existing. Secondary descriptors include sooty/church wood touches, rose water, vanilla>strawberry icecream syrup, dryish orange & lemon peel, chilli-hot Cointreau, a drop of banana liqueur, sweet ex-bourbon char never far, steamed rice dumplings [momos], sage, floury sweet oat biscuits, Fisherman’s Friend, dried & baked blueberries,….. A favourable nose that chops & changes.
  • T: It’s no Michelin star winner. All the parts of the puzzle are here, only they are in a [tasty] jumble. Water helps tighten things up but this remains a bric-a-brac malt with some conflict=confusion and subsequent heat. More fruity bubblegum flavours coincide with more dense, deeper bitter-sour notes on the turn.
  • F: Those casks are serving and feeding whilst the distillate is ever present, bringing a sour=sweet waxy finish with an underlying bitter trace. There’s a fair bit of varied activity to observe at the last, all a mishmash of all the things. Notes of mint, nettle, comfrey, Rooibos, fruit & black teas. bourbon biscuits & candy/compote/slushy fruits keep rearing up, only to be superseded by a drop of Valerian root and biscuity witch hazel – the whole process cycling round again.  
  • C: Months later, nothing much changed from the off. A likeable if sometimes awkward bric-a-brac malt it is. The palate is the weakest link but there’s much to procure on either side. Final score:

Scores 84 points overall

 

Carsebridge 1965/2011 45yo HH Clan Denny cask #7500 44.7% WB88[7] tOMoH90 bible ’15:95 AoW93

Carsebridge 1965 45yo HL.JPG

  • N: Whilst retaining succulence and fragrance, this is a mature dusty oaky & distillate-strong<caramel=bourbon-sweet gooey/gluey biscuit-y/spongy & long-ago dried apricot>apple=strawberry=pear>raspberry & lime-y fruity number – breath! The dried & candy tutti-fruity profile is anchored by gluey, dusty metallic & butyric touches, together with a distant & complex cereal=nutty base. There’s a successful marriage here despite the independence of spirit to cask.
  • T: This will appeal to those who love orchard fruits, moist sponge cakes and a little sea swimming. Soon enough that gentle & sensual fruity salty deliciousness is joined by notes of dry & dusty bourbon/vanilla [white?] oak. We’ve vivid hints of dry lemon-y clean tequila on the turn, the grain spirit clearly still showing it has its own mind.
  • F: Aged-yet-clean column-still distillate-faithful finish, indicating the earlier-displayed complexity on the nose is mostly ’all cask’. Dry, lemon-y=lime-y agave-tannic & oaky vanilla at the death – the bourbon cask talking of more desirable bourbon than many bourbons.
  • C: What’s unusual is that a 45 year marriage in a super, still vibrant enough cask would allow for such independence. Great stuff!

Scores 88 points

 

Glenturret 1986/2018 31yo Cadenhead single cask [210 bts] 44.5% WB88.92[15]

Hosted by Mark Watt, this malt was introduced to me in May ’18, during a showdown tasting in Campbeltown between Cadenhead’s Jenna & Cameron – the Authentic Collection vs Small Batch. Jenna walks into a very warm & packed warehouse [#9?], to the music Take On Me, to huge [regimented-style] applause. Cameron enters wearing actual boxing gloves! Though a young peated whisky from The English Whisky Company won [my] first place, this was the most memorable whisky of the day [week], coming in a close second.

GOING IN:

Glenturret 1986 31yo cadenhead.JPG

  • N: Abundant with dunnage-y fruits – apricots in particular appearing amongst a plethora of fruits in various forms – and oak-soaked fruity marzipan.
  • T: Begins fruity again, also aspirin-y and later more firmly with waxy butyric hints. It’s somewhat thin but this is hardly a problem, more an observation – it’s never lacking and also dry yet never tannic. Furthermore, we have along with the aspirin quality, a metallic, earthy, coal-like ashy growth – all complexly layered/intertwined. Fruity & nutty with blanched almonds, macadamias and fermenting sherry rancio on the turn. 
  • F: Diminishing yet sustaining hollow/wispy finish, the thin-lightness continuing with a fruity [vanilla tutti-fruity, bubblegum and fig], wood-sweet [Viennetta] dessert –style disposition. Unexpectedly, fruity beer=cider tones conclude [on the night].
  • C: With certain reservations to one side, this is a delicious drinker that will please people on many levels. [Provisionally scores 88].

FINAL REFLECTIONS:

  • N: Consolidated fruity & fresh notes [laundry & hints of undiluted detergent], and emulsion icing to begin. Further notes speak of raisins, sultanas, apricots, figs, dried cherries, goji berries, banana, dried apricots>fig, hints of condensed lemonade [?], chalky grape<watermelon<raisin juice,…. Though the chalky aspirin notes do hold this back somewhat, there is way too much joy for it to trash the party. We’re in a happy place.
  • T: Initially a little tight with bite, but we are soon into the fruity bone-dry pleasure zone before shifting gears and cruising with a fruity>maltiness [lush Garibaldi biscuits with a big fig influence], and then onto the mature-dry oaky>grassy, fruity>vanilla matured biscuit barley juice on the turn. Sometimes there’s way more fruitiness, assuredly pepper-seasoned with Georgian Churchkhela [link] making a move thereafter. Get the water right on arrival however, and it’s joyous sailing with an unexpected fruity-into-herbal complexity, coupled with say a chick-pea/chana dryness. A big yummy one.
  • F: More waves of well peppered fruits, the maltiness bound within the whole. All the [waxy] fruity dry juicy vanillas to finish that stretch out long. 
  • C: Someone remarked ‘It’s great Glenturret because it doesn’t taste like Glenturret’. With delicious creases & loveable scars, it’s the malt I’ve been reaching for, for months. Same final score:

Scores 88 points

 

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END

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