Letting Go #5: Recuperation

After sleeping 22 hours, straight [WLP#4], my body stirs from its self-induced coma-tic sleep. Having left home on Saturday afternoon, it’s now Tuesday evening already – what?! Waking up in one of my favourite spots in the central Highlands, I’ve no urge to leave and stay another night.

Balmenach 1980:1999 The Malt Whisky Association ‘Hogmanay Dram’ [btl #94:100] 43%Eventually, I’m ready [after a cuppa] to grab that sighter to celebrate what’s gone and what’s to come with a dram or two. First up is a 1976 Master of Malt Hogmanay Tomintoul that I’d pulled from the cull. Unlikely to reach what it deserves at auction, it’s likely to be just as good as the [dirt-cheap auction-buy] 1980 Hogmanay Balmenach I opened last year at the Campbeltown Festival [WLP, see pic]. Though I can’t recall ever having a really good MoM bottling, Tomintoul is fairly consistent across the board and I’m confident this will be lovely.

Let the celebrations begin!

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Tomintoul 1976/1993 17yo MoM Hogmanay Dram cask #7353 [btl #75/150] 43% WB87.50[2]

Drats, a broken cork and I’m without a spare. I never thought to equip the camper with one. Perhaps there’s just enough cork holding onto the plastic cap, and if I wrap it up with tape when on the move. Do I have any tape? Of course not! I’ll have to buy a cheap bottle of wine in the morning and use the cork from that.

  • N: Despite the cork logistics, the nose is – in the context of all that has happened in 2020 – dreamy, and a little creamy. Balblair-esque soft fluffy-bready-fruits talk of apples, pears, oranges and lemons [said the bells,…]. That said, the joy here lies within the sour & sweet flavour-centre cracks, as well as a little bitterness from the oak. Let’s hope the palate follows suit, and at 43% abv, it’s got a fair chance.
  • T: Aah yes! Being pretty much what I remember from previous Tomintoul’s and a number of Glencadam’s too, we’ve fluffy soft fruits with a decidedly sour citrus touch and a mouthfeel to boot. It’s not long before deeper more bitter-sweet sugars join the fray as citrusy putty-ish caramelisation kicks in. This all culminates in a broad slick chew,…
  • F: ,…. into a slightly peppery/fizzy liquorice-oaky waxy heat. Nothing remarkable nor problematic by the tail, the just the best has already been and gone. Adding water brings out even more of an even-handed Balblair-esque likeness.
  • C: I’m going to enjoy this bottle. Let’s hear it for refills! With a full bottle report to follow in due course, score-wise, I reckon we are around the 87[+] ball-park mark.

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Haig & Haig 12yo [1946] Ob. bottled for Somerset Importers Ltd. 43.4% [757ml] WB85.65[23]

This old blend was a recommendation for Malt n Copper by [TWE] Billy, as a decent yet affordable example of what an old blend can be. A 5cl sample was generously donated to me by Spam and the Foz from a tasting I couldn’t attend, a sample I’ve been savouring/harbouring for the right moment. I heard it was a club night highlight.

  • N: The descriptors I’ll be using to describe this whisky may seem similar to how I might describe many other, more contemporary whiskies, but ‘smoke’ and ‘leather’ from 1940s bottles is very different from smoke and leather from contemporary drams. With that in mind, we have some smoke, but it’s more sooty really with additional notes of bacon, slightly dusty OBE-ed oak & vegetal sweet old leathery [gherkin] brine into malty honeyed biscuits, old & slightly perished biscuit tins, a drop of apple cider vinegar, a black tar-like oily lactose note, violets, furniture polish,.,,,, much like many an old blend from this era yet vastly different in style to contemporary blended whiskies. Thankfully, this bottle is positively intact, enough to tell a tale of production methods from a bygone era. In fact, it’s up there with many dream dram old malts that appear [frequently at the G&M and whisky.auction stands, for example] at whisky shows in the form of Strathisla, Glen Grant, Longmorn,… In fact, this’ll give many of them a run for their money. For a fabulous nose becoming fabulous-er, it’s the creamy sootiness I admire the most.
  • T: Just when so many of these old blends die on the palate after the arrival, this one gathers itself, forming into a [berry/nettle-leafy-vegetal-sweet sooty and briny] salivating gooey chew,,… on and on [and Ariston],….
  • F: ,…. into a burnt old bitter/charcoal-ed woodiness followed by rich consolidated light-syrupy honeyed barley bitter-sweet sugars. Expect a few in-and-out waves from the arrival until the death with plenty of ashy/woody sugary ripples thereafter. Aside from the flavour action, the bone-dry salivating mouthfeel is where it’s at, a textural quality rarely found in the majority of whiskies either contemporary or old & rare.
  • C: It’s easy to see why this whisky was celebrated by MnC club members. What a cracker! Would this have been so good when first bottled? With so much emphasis and interest around new distilleries at this moment in whiskey’s history – £100+ price-points for 3yo whisky with 90+ scores – it’s compelling to remember the other side. With thanks to the Foz and Spam.

Scores 90 points

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I spend the rest of the evening staring at the hills that look down upon Dalwhinnie whilst enjoying more Tomintoul. Tomorrow, I shall continue my journey westward towards the Outer Hebrides and Abhainn Dearg.

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END

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2 thoughts on “Letting Go #5: Recuperation

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