Whilst I have the time, let’s wade through the backlog and look back at TWE Show 2019. From the top.
TWE pre-show queue is rightly legendary. Some years, the queue offerings have almost eclipsed what’s on in the main show. Understandably, the appearance of truly rare [and valuable] whisky has become less and less. However, this year’s most memorable pre-show offerings [day 1], included Daftmill’s fruity and simply charming 2006 Winter Release , a blended malt [from PS], in the form of Compass Box’s first Enlightenment release and a Garnheath.
I easily guessed grain. I even got the age right and that it was from a closed distillery. After that I think I listed every closed grain distillery aside from Garnheath.
- N: The two main flavour contenders here today are fruit juice and corn.
- T: Good time has been spent in a superb cask, absolutely what grain spirit requires. Strong and tasty, soon moving from red grape/berry fruit juice into chocolate.
- F: Long & steady then off.
- C: Simple but effective and very tasty. It turns out I’ve had this before, encouragingly with the same score.
Scores 88 points
Before we begin pilling though the doors of Old Billingsgate, we’re treated to a motorbike pass-by. There were hundred’s of them.
One inside, we discovered TWE Show organisers had found a way to separate the flippers from the drinkers, so getting Dream Dram tokens was far quicker this year. With tokens in hand, we headed towards the whisky.auction stand, a must-visit sooner rather than later exhibitor.
We start strong!
I’ve been wanting to try this ever since I decided to buy a bottle. What whisky enthusiast doesn’t want at least one bottle from every Scottish distillery, open or closed? Now to try before I open.
- N: This speaks of barley, sweet cap bulls ?? [no idea what that typo is all about], and bitter melon.
- T: Soft astringent and clean.
- F: Truly barley-focused, a touch saline and with a drop or two of witch hazel.
- C: Reminiscent of the Chivas 1973 Inverleven [WLP88].
Scores 87 points
Benriach 1976/2004 27yo First Cask #9445 46% WB90.36
- N: A relaxed & chatty malt that offers a plethora of delights that include leather, dry bitter-sweet fruits, ash and sweet suet.
- T: Sharp & spicy neat with a bitter arrival on putty dried figs and a waxy, desirably bitter chewy travel. Whilst impeccably integrated, this one is still lively also.
- F: Long waxy & ashy finish with creamy deep vanilla and oaky ash at tail.
- C: A delightfully bitter crackerjack.
Scores 90 points
Glen Garioch 1968/1997 29yo Ob. cask #621 56.3% WB91.45
Stupidly and alluringly dark in colour, much like the previous Longmorn.
- N: Waxy grit, putty, ash, meaty fruits, foosty old kitchen cupboards,…. you name it!
- T: Dark-as and strong too, much like a soft-focused Karuizawa perhaps?
- F: Away from bitter ash, in moves the barley [some minutes later], followed by heathery ash. Becomes favourably oaky with a ‘suck a stick’ finish, as long as you don’t mind drinking a bit of old oak from time to time.
- C: One magical oldie that hasn’t turned to a medicinal tincture. Likely to be best in show, and of the year!
Scores 93 points
Clynelish 1992 10yo Ob. for Tanners Wines 45%
- C: A raisin-y, bourbon cask-matured, plain sailing voyager that requires no additional water.
Scores 87 points
Haig & Haig 12yo  Ob. 40%
- N: On first nosing, it’s all foul smelling feet. Joining that are melting wax capacitors, petrol, soot and double cream on the turn. It smells ‘off’ frankly. The guy next to me gives it up but I’m not so rash. Indeed, the nose changes rapidly, the smelly feet notes lifting away all the time. This was worth an hour in a more conducive setting.
- T: Metallic cream, occasional wafts of garden pesticides and a lactose creamy chew is all I noted.
- F: Stays that way, finishing just fine.
- C: An interesting example of Haig to say the least, and at only £5 for a scotch distilled in the late 1930’s is more than fair.
Scores 84 points
Seagram 25yo Club Ob. Blended Scotch 40%
Because the oldest Seagram[‘s] listed on WB is a 12yo, I had to try it – and because this and the Haig were two for the price of one DD token.
EDIT: This is a blended Scotch, not a Canadian whiskey. TWE tells us ‘A rare 25 year old blend only given to staff at Seagram. The 25 Year Club was a group of Seagram’s employees who had been at the company for 25 years or more‘.
- N: I’ve little expectation but we’ve a fine and simple sweet nose.
- T: Soft soft soft yet not weak. It’s sustaining in fact and a touch chewy waxy/oily.
- F: Uncomplicated, well stewed finish.
- C: Nice n easy.
Scores 80 points
Glenlivet 25yo Ob. Royal Wedding Reserve [btl #692] 43% WB92.30
I already know I’m going to love this, just watching the thick oily liquid flow into my smeary glass.
- N: With little if any OBE, we’ve an engaging luscious oily barley nose with a subtle honey sweetened cereal jacket. I also detect some refill sherry cask action.
- T: More OBE than expected from the nose but it soon revives with ease, demonstrating more sherry cask action as it opens out. With the whisky shining more brightly with every sip, I discover one of those rarely-found, intense-yet-soft bone-dry deliveries. ‘Nom nom‘ as Americans loved to say in the naughties.
- F: With a Goldilocks-perfect sherried sweetness [not too much,..], each chew is an attempt to relive the joys of the last delivery.
- C: Beautiful. I want a bottle!
Scores 92 points