Seven loose drams, drunk randomly between October 2019 to March 2020, re-ordered here for narrative effect.
Horseman Blended Scotch Whisky Ob. 40% [btl code: EH67JL]
Never look a gift-horse in the mouth. A gift Horseman however is a wholly different prospect. Apparently, this was bought at Tesco’s many many years ago. I could find no information about it anywhere.
- N: Coppery vodka, that’s it!
- T: Rough whisky vodka.
- F: None
- C: Without a doubt the worst spirit I’ve ever come across.
Naked Grouse  Ob. Blended Malt Scotch Whisky [1st fill oloroso] 40% WB81.40
After spending £400+ in two hours at the Old & Rare Show 2020, I hastily make my way to the Ivy to play & pay for some of the damage. Who would have thought that after 10 years as a resident pianist there, it would potentially be my last, due to the effects of our response to Covid-19! Adriano tests my whisky skills once again with another blind tasting, something I encourage him to do with frequency.
C: I guessed 40%, backed up using Charles Maclean’s ‘beading’ test. I guessed affordable [cheap] & available, and spotted the sherry maturation [finish) – with bourbon underlying. I guessed Scotch. Then I guessed single malt, my first error. I identified a decent enough robust nose and ok arrival, but weak travel and no finish to speak of. That should have told me it was a blend, knowledge I hope to retain for next time. Apparently, this is made up of Macallan & Highland Park amongst other components. It’s also very simple. Feels ideal for travel retail. In the UK, this is around 50% more expensive than Famous Grouse.
Scores 77 points
Another gig, another blind challenge.
- N: I find this so very punchy and resinous! Is this bourbon? Once I taste it, it’s clearly Irish whiskey and I’m right in guessing it’s around 10-12 years of age. So are we talking of a nicely aged malt that’s been flash-finished in virgin oak?
- T: Clearly Irish [unmalted barley mash and floral tropical fruits], nicely aged with a rich creamy malty mouthfeel. Not too complex but TAST-EY!
- F: Only slightly green on the turn but it’s balanced. Fair finish and form.
- C: I found Powers 12 equally as good the last time I had it back in 2016. When in a bar, I consider this and Lagavulin 16 as go-to juice!
Scores 85 points
I don’t know the 10yo like I feel I should, so I order a dram whilst in the Craft Beer Co. just before Christmas. The last time I enjoyed the 10yo was at the Cadenhead’s shop in Chiltern Street in December 2017 when I scored it an incredible 91 points! It sure was flying high that year.
- N: Smells of dry bonfire-smoked barley – as natural as you could ask for.
- T&F: Natural throughout.
- C: An uncomplicated tasty dram. How wonderful to see this available in a pub for the price of a pint.
Scores 85 points
As an occasional treat, £13.50 for a dram is a fair price considering Yamazaki 12’s relative rareness, and in a pub too! It’s a great place the Craft Beer Co.
- N: Flawless straightforward malt with an immaculate barley and lemon unctuousness. Beautiful.
- T&F: Check that mouthfeel, making for an uber-pleasing drinker in the style of Glenlivet’s fabulous 25yo Royal Wedding Reserve [WLP92].
- C: This one seems to divide people, yet it’s surely nothing like a Marmite malt. Currently priced at around £120 a bottle I find it cracking subtle stuff. Maybe the significant divide is more to do with expectations?
Scores 87 points
Last time I tried this I wrote ’Did I get out on the wrong side of the bed?’ [WLP:82 points]. From a long-kept sample from the same bottle, here goes take 2.
- N: Velvet-soft onion, a drop of white wine vinegar & onion vinegar, hints of french onion soup [with a dash of Sauternes], autumn leaves, hints of rose water, orange oil, matured spit-roast ham,… it goes on,… but I’ll leave the shopping list there.
- T&F: Very relaxed/easy, soft & salivating delivery with descriptors that include ash=tar, a nice gentle bitter sour, pleasing sweet/savoury cocoa and [more] sweet onion-y/ashy, dry-yet-salivating white wine sweetness.
- C: It’s good to be aware of when your radar is a little off. Contrary to my previous experience, this is a fine whisky. [Note to self: peated samples seem to keep better than non-peated – discuss].
Scores 87 points
Glenturret 2009 9yo SMWS 16.42 ’Top notes of covfefe’ [228 bts] 63.7% WB85
I arrive at the SMWS Greville Street for last orders after an early finishing gig. It’s two weeks before Christmas and the energy in the room is electric, such is the positive effect of good whisky drunk in ideal settings with like-minded folk. I ask a few peeps who’ve managed to keep up with SMWS’s seasonal weekly out-turns, what they recommend. It’s this!
- C: This expression could easily pass for Ledaig.
- With fine form throughout, it has lots to offer and is very enjoyable. I effortlessly drink it neat. I’d be happy with a bottle for when I’m in the smoking mood.
Scores 88 points