On the 5th day of Christmas my true love sent to me,…. Six gold drams! It’s the Malt n Copper Christmas Party!
Serge: ‘Bere gives you a yield that’s less than the half of that of classic barley‘ [WF].
- N: Citrus-y and grassy with many different grasses in various states. I also find it coppery at times with light nondescript fruits.
- T: Tastes like it smells with pears, bananas and a hint of smoke. More grassiness on the palate leads to a dry mouthfeel. What I’m missing is an expected waxiness I remember from previous Bere Barley releases such as the 2006 vintage [WB86/WF90].
- F: A touch butyric, resinous and short overall. The rest rings true.
- C: This reminds me of the very acceptable-yet-forgettable [bourbon cask-matured btw], 18yo Glenfarclas [WB]. ‘Disappointing’ was the consensus on the night from many of us who remember and lament previous Bere Barely releases.
Scores 83 points
Another ‘special annual release’ [much like Ardbeg Day], for those who love the next new [same old] thing. So what’s this years angle? It’s not wood, it’s yeast! Wild yeast strain Saccharomyces diaemath to be exact. It turns out yeast does have an impact on flavour, a fact that some of the big players are currently prepared to admit whilst it suits them.
- N: My first impression is of a deep creaminess with firm emulsion=hollandaise-y leanings and an uber-buttery sponginess. Like the previous Bruichladdich, it’s a touch coppery. In addition, we’ve firm harks to Loch Lomond’s Chardonnay yeast expressions [eg. WLP85 & WLP82], and echoes of sake & cava/champagne – in my very narrow experience, a shared palate association [WLP].
- T: I plumbed for rich sponge cakes, just take your pick. It seems desperate for water but more than a few drops makes it tread undesirably like natural clay.
- F: Creamy to the end, we’ve a short-as vanilla icecream cone finish.
- C: A good-average whisky with a few moderately favourable moments over the Bere Barley. Despite age, cask finish type and even yeast strain, this reconfirms Glenmorangie’s incredible consistency of calibre across its entire range. Retail-wise, the Allta is still available in quantity a year after release, not that there’s a whisky loch or anything like that.
Scores 84 points
This Gael is a 60% malt/40% grain blend, comprised of:
- 5%, 26yo single malt ex-sherry butt
- 27.5%, 11yo single malt
- 27.5%, 15yo single malt
- 40%, 7yo single grain
This first release of the Gael ‘,… is our first attempt at beginning to express the house style of whiskey we would like to make in the coming years‘ [website].
‘A changeling, but all Irish’
- N: We start with a concerning yet temporary and therefore irrelevant pong. Once this pong dissipates, we are left with a very light nose upon which subtle fruits eventually [and beautifully] emerge. I find it bready thereafter, so fruit bread.
- T: Frail yet focused overall, this is so very Irish. The typical putty element is at a minimum, but those light [dried & dry] tropical fruits such as lychee and mango, are clearly present.
- F: Very light.
- C: Given this recipe contains 40% grain, The Foz correctly points out ‘you can’t spot the seams’. As such [excusing the light frailness], we have a blenders masterclass and bottling this at 40% abv would have killed it. All eyes on Chapel Gate.
Scores 85 points
Dailuaine 1997/2019 22yo SV TWE 20th Anniversary hogshead cask #7248 [278 bts] 54.3% WB88
This is one The Foz & I tried previously at TWE Show 2019 [notes coming soon]. I gave it 89 on the day. Let’s see how it fares today. Holly tells us about an oysters & whisky pairing experience. That’s six different types of oysters with six different whiskies. Spam adds, “Oysters are the best hangover cure,….. [‘really?’],,…. plus white wine”. Super timing!
- N: We’ve another changeling. First observations are centred around lemonade & oak – the latter note confirming we’ve our first firmly-matured whisky of the night. This is followed by another spot-on observational note of ‘old white string’. It becomes bready with water. 30 minutes later however, we’ve candid red berry fruits alongside lemon sherbet.
- T: The palate is certainly pinched, firm and moderately fiery, pulsating with dunnage-y/putty notes and a waxy-ish mouthfeel.
- F: I get sweet lemon before it lifts clean off, leading to enjoyable remnants that include tannic-y & leathery-sweet clementines.
- C: This full & firm [and fun] dram never lets up. The best analogy came from Bob who likened it to ‘the Bullet train’. Right up my street!
Scores 88 points
Deanston 2008/2019 11yo SV Un-Chillfiltered Collection 1st fill sherry butt #900075 [599bts] 66.6% WB88
Like Stauning’s ex-Laphroaig quarter cask [WLP], here’s another whisky where the devil lies in the detail.
- N: Boy does this heavy/astringent dram scream for water, though dilution doesn’t seem to touch it. Eventually with heaps of water, and time, a small treasure hoard is realised.
- T: Over to Billy for this one who totally nails it. ‘Intense. Dark chocolate, raisins and balancing barrel char to start. Big spice follows: cinnamon and black pepper. Behind that lie layers of fruit, with more raisins on top of stewed apple, cherries, dates and red-wine poached pears. Thich dark chocolate sauce takes centre stage, stirred through with singed caramel‘ [TWE].
- F: The journey fails a little short, save for a waxy cinnamon heat that sustains the barley base and the distillery profile-associated caramac & light banana chocolate notes.
- C: A wonderful dessert in a glass.
Scores 85 points
THE CHRISTMAS RAFFLE
The Foz issues a proclamation. “If you win the book, start from the beginning and read the book”.
I only started winning raffles when I joined MnC, and when I was happy to give money unconditionally. This year I give a first-time MnC attendee one of my raffle tickets, #162. Incredibly that ticket wins and lo & behold, I’m in possession of another winning ticket and win the perfect prize. It’s a notebook, for the only person who takes copious notes at MnC!
[Ardmore] Aird Mhor 2009/2019 SMoS cask #707912 [242 bts] 58.5% WB89
This is Ardmore distillate, aged for nine years in an ex-Laphroaig cask.
- N: To the group I offer pickled onion Monster Munch [to fair agreement], charcoal and fresh peat. That is all I noted.
- T&F: Arghh, why? Arguably a blended malt, this is blatantly a mix of whisky from two distilleries.
- C: The ex-Laphroaig cask relationship has worked for establishing distilleries [eg, Stauning, Wolfburn], but Ardmore [est. 1898], needs Laphroaig as much as Laphroaig [est. 1815], needs Ardmore!
Scores 84 points
That concludes MnC’s 2019 Christmas tasting, though in reality it goes on for a few hours longer. Perhaps there’s a humble whiff of disappointment over the calibre of whiskies this year, but this view is short-lived. In the spirit of Dave Broom’s film Amberlight, every whisky event that nurtures cultural growth is a triumph. Whilst extra pours are administered, I offer Kilkerran 8yo, Glenfarclas 18yo and Nocino walnut liqueur to the party, along with some Co=op Bavarian-branded beers. I wonder if people attending beer tastings drink whisky after?
Merry Christmas y’all.