Following on from Part 1:
Now sat down, tOMoH passes me a glass. Inside, as expected, is sublime whisky. It smells very Brora/Clynelish-like. Sometimes it seems that all the brilliant stuff that isn’t heavily peated is Clynelish-Brora. This whisky however was distilled a long way from the Eastern Highlands. The Old Man re-introduces me to Patrick who I first met on this epic day over a year and a half ago [as tOMoH kindly reminds me]. He [Patrick], pours me a more-than-generous glug of the whisky in question from a bottle in his backpack. Looking through WB reviews, it seems I’m not the only one.
Distilled in my birth year and month, I initially taste this blind.
- N: A jammy/gooey Brora-esque delight with a fresh smoky peatiness. We are talking here of the ultimate heaven-sent Jammy Dodgers, in stark contrast to the real branded ones that are not ultimate in any way. I keep going back for the fruits.
- T: Without getting all deep & meaningful, this whisky is a beauty! Brora surely? Whilst the journey reveals more smoky peatiness than Brora or Clynelish would/did generally produce, I keep returning again to the nose for the fruits, and the same for the arrival. With balance personified come sublime oak-matured malt sugars. This is joyous juice.
- F: Whilst it still remains Brora/Clynelish-esque for a time, the blackened tar-like charcoal finish tells of another distillery, unless there was a heavy peat week up at Inverbrora in 1973. It’s only really Ledaig, as I know it, at the tail.
- C: A quasi-Brora/Clynelish-esque single malt for a fraction of the cost. I will have to look into getting myself a bottle [now on the wishlist].
Scores 92 points
That’s got me in the mood for more high-calibre gems. I go back to Fiddler’s as I’d spotted a few [reasonably priced] Port Ellen’s there. I plumb for a First Cask 1983 vintage [not yet listed on WB]. They also have an unlisted 1977/1996 First Cask Port Ellen at 54.9% [at time of writing].
Port Ellen 1983/1998 Scott’s 58.9%
- N: There she is. it’s Port Ellen I tells ya, through & through – one of my happy places. No other distillery produces this profile, though occasional Ben Nevis bottlings verge closest. Descriptors then, as if you need them: light yet condensed summer fruits and vanilla, neat. Add the necessary water to coax the obligatory [light] saltiness, a [light] minerality, a [light] farminess and modest [lemon] citrus. Expression-wise it’s certainly on the lighter side compared to some other similarly aged PE’s, but it’s by no means lacking.
- T: A lovely start with an abv pinch. This was bottled at nearly 59% after all. With water, we’ve a perfectly sweet doughy arrival that confidently moves along on a barley-led path. Initially, with a shorter travel than desired, it opens up well with the arrival & subsequent travel improving sip by small sip. After that, one could create a shopping list from the descriptors that lie between the transition into the finish alone.
- F: Quite short after such a colourful display, concluding with pleasing remnants that reiterate the well-considered sweetness and overall subtleness. Smoked chocolate malt concludes.
- C: A lovely, relatively more affordable example of this distillery’s unique profile.
Scores 90 points
I find myself back at the Whisky Auctioneer stand who, I’m told, have a decent Brora for only £5. They did! All gone by day 2. I did manage to bag a few other beauties however:
- Ardbeg 1974/1996 22yo G&M for Taverna Degli Artisti ’Mellow Matured’ 40% WB90.34 WF94 WM94
- Glen Grant 1938 45yo G&M Licensed bottling 40% [750ml]
- Macallan 1962/1987 25yo Ob. Anniversary Malt 43% [75cl] WB93
- Baltimore Pride 1935 7yo rye Ob. 100 proof WB86
- Trois Riverieres 1953 – said to be ‘truly legendary spirit,… the finest drinks known to mankind‘ [TWE]
For my glass, I take a 1979 Lagavulin. Priced at £10, it offers great value for highly reputed malt.
- N: Sugary smoky deliciousness is all I noted.
- T: With a relaxed entrance, this one delivers more crystallised smoky-oaky sugary deliciousness.
- F: Sweet smoke.
- C: I needed more time with this one, and simply, more! With what I could muster from a fairly precise 1cl pour, it’s cracking juice! I’m told this is Lagavulin’s first Distillery Edition. What a way to start a series!
Provisionally scores 90+
Since all my shopping has been completed I can go off-piste. I chat with Geoff who has decided [with my consent], to call me ‘Clint‘. “You feeling lucky?” Let’s try my luck with a 1979 Talisker for a mere £5.
Talisker 1979/1995 16yo Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection 63.2% WB90.67
- N: Distillate-led as the abv may indicate. Yeasty, cereal-y and milky are the only descriptors I jotted down.
- T: A strong & sweet-sour astringent honeyed malty citrusy barley number.
- F: Finishes true, concluding with silky mash.
- C: Boy would this wake you up in the morning! A ‘hairs on your chest’ kind of malt.
Scores 89 points
I wander back over to the whisky-online stand. Having previously bagged:
- Balblair 1975 22yo First Cask #7282 [btl #598] 46% WB89.80
- Imperial 1976/1989 12yo SMWS 65.1 66.2% WB91
,… I ask Harrison and co. for their recommendations – something decent, something affordable, something that has been overlooked. Dufftown it is! As far as I can tell, there was only one Dufftown at the show and this is it.
- N: This one rides the sulphury-sherry edge, doing well not to fall in face-first. It’s also got a molasses rum-ness about it.
- T: More of the same. It travels thin but the wood & barley sugars remain sustained.
- F: Molasses-bitter sherry malt with dusty barley sugar to end proceedings.
- C: The fairly bold cask activity helps drive the spirit towards a bitter-sweet molasses-like profile. Thankfully the spirit held on.
Scores 88 points
Part 3/3 coming soon