I could have happily finished with that excellent 1978 Tomatin [WLP – part 3a] if I had had the discipline. It turns out I didn’t. It appears I’m going all the way to the end.
Springbank 1997/2016 19yo Cadenhead’s Warehouse Tasting recharred sherry cask #606 58.8% WB90.90
This bottle appeared at the Campbeltown festival in 2016, no doubt for a steal.
- N: Amazing nose, check.
- T: Oh yes! It’s bolder on the palate than the nose had indicated. Wants plenty of water but swims with ease. With water added, chew away on this spirited rugged ‘farm-style’ whisky which speaks of Springbank’s unique character & charm, set against much of the yield-focused contemporary landscape.
- F: I find it a touch rubbery, finishing with some scorched earthy tones.
- C: In keeping with Christian’s Littlemill axiom [WLP], I light-heartedly declare “If you don’t like this Springbank, you don’t like whisky”. Perfectly edgy honest single malt.
Scores 88 points
We are very close to ‘kicking out’ time but I shall persevere till the final bell. Time to move on. Earlier in the day, I’d gathered these gems from David Stirk:
- Caperdonich 1992 20yo Creative Whisky Tony Koehl Series cask #121137 52.2% WB87.94
- Coleburn 1983/2010 26yo [CWC] Exclusive Malts cask 1463 WB86.10 WF91 WM85
- Glen Garioch 1990/2015 25yo Usquebaugh Society 25th Anniversary cask #7937 [288 bts] 56.7% WB87.33
Appropriately enough, I decide to follow on with another [affordable] Springbank.
Springbank 1993 25yo CWC Exclusive Malts [btl #1/1] 47.3%
Talk about ‘Exclusive Malt’! This is bottle one of one, so don’t go adding this to your wish-list.
- N: Like the Tomatin at C. Dully’s, I detect an underlying fungal note that’s been surprisingly lacking amongst this weekend’s O&R drams. Other descriptors of note include under-baked sponge that’s a touch albumen-eggy >> yeasty next to a huge fruity-boozy trifle – so it’s clearly been ‘sherried’.
- T: The underlying sherry contingent is influential. In fact, it’s more blatant than that. If you’d told me this was actual sherry, I’d take it.
- F: More [amontillado styled] sherry with a touch of tawny port.
- C: In keeping with Dully’s axiom spirit, I write ‘If you don’t like this, you don’t like sherry’.
Scores? No idea.
Regardless of the time, my wallet tells me it can only be one more.
- N: Another sherry bomb. This one is deliciously Longmorn-esque with a concentrated fruit juice concoction good enough to drown yourself in.
- T: Thoroughly decent sherried hit and mouthfeel. There’s a temporary dip/pause in energy at the halfway point before a resumption. More caramel-y now with barley sugar into the finish.
- F: Short on barley sugar into easter egg chocolate.
- C: With intensity, this is unequivocally cask-led. Simple yet delicious.
Scores 87 points
TWE team know how to put on a great show and Old & Rare 2020 was no exception. Everything flowed. I thought the numbers were about right. There was a busy patch on both days but queues soon eased off as tummies began to grumble their way to the dining room. I always found a place to sit even if it was outside the main hall which was the perfect place for quieter more considered sipping.
Colin Dunn acknowledged Angus MacRaild‘s significant contribution in paving the way for this fabulously modest Limburg-esque whisky event in the UK, by attending some of the main free-pour whisky festivals [like TWE Show and Whisky Weekender for example], with bottles from his collection to sell [by the 1cl], a few year’s before the birth of TWE O&R Show.
A lot has changed since I attended the first O&R in 2017 [TWE].
- A small number of stalls have become more sophisticated, using the show to promote business and brand with the installation of signs, displays, banners, business cards & flyers. The vast majority of stalls however consisted of whisky folk standing behind undressed tables laden with bottles with price tags on. What’s gone, thank goodness, are those bloody tokens!
- With a few exceptions, pours were strict with prices well considered in advance. In 2017 it was a bit looser. In today’s current environment, everyone is well aware of what’s good, what’s really good and what’s worth what, regardless of the price originally paid for full bottles. As such, goodwill is understandably, much harder to exercise in the current frenzied whisky climate.
- The 1cl price for the usual suspects [Ardbeg, Bowmore, Brora,…] as well as rare oddities [from Skinner stall notably] has risen significantly in three years, whilst other whiskies have seen little price inflation. Examples of this include many Rare Malt releases surprisingly [Convalmore up only £2 from 5 to 7 and a 1971 Glenury Royal also for £7, bargain!], and mostly everything from the First Cask series that continues to be foolishly underappreciated.
And what of the whisky?
- For many, there were some expensive disappointments [an expired 1885 Bellows for me]. The condition of really old bottles was a lottery unless you had a tip-off. Indeed a few bottles were bordering ‘unfit’ to be sold at the prices being asked, though this was the exception rather than the rule. Transporting ageing open bottles from show to show around the world can’t help, especially if flying them. I wonder which bottles have appeared at the most festivals and travelled the longest miles?
Some of my best purchases lay in the lower/mid-range price bracket. Highlights [so far] include:
- Tomatin 1978/2013 35yo Cadenhead Small Batch [594 bts] 44.1% [C. Dully] WB90.13 WF91 tOMoH9/10 tWP85
- Balblair 10yo G&M [1970’s] 100 Proof [Bihan Yang] WB91 WF92 WM89
- Good Old Guckenheimer 1911/1917 6yo Ob. Bottled In Bond from the Skinner stand [all notes to follow in due course].
Overall highlights regardless of price [so far] include:
- Every 70’s Clynelish generously shared by friends on day 1
- Glenugie 1967/1989 Sesante Bird Label sherry wood 59.5% [750ml] [C. Dully] WB93.35 WF95 WM93 tOMoH10/10
- and the surprisingly fabulous G&M vatting Glen Moray & Tamdhu 1964 4yo cask #1036 59.3% from G&M.
Will I attend next year’s show? Hell yeah! Who amongst the whisky fraternity wants to miss the opportunity to try some particularly outstanding whisky from yesteryear? Get it whilst you still can and be smart about it!
Tasting notes for all the whiskies I procured will appear as tasting notes in due course. It’ll be a fun few months!