Letting Go #11: Harris to Lewis

Leaving Hushinish [WLP#10], the drive North to Lewis provides some stunningly varied and dramatic scenery,…

Harris to lewis

,… and one incredibly remote tennis court!

Tennis court.jpeg

I arrive at Ardroil beach early evening, finding the toilet, washing, and dining facilities closed yet the kitchen [which includes the donations box] open. Go figure! There’s also a disabled toilet that incorporates a walk-in shower and it’s accessible with a radar key. Result!

Ardroil beach and the surrounding area is stunning. Looks like there’s plenty to explore. I imagine I’ll be stopping here for a while.

Samalens flightWhilst waiting for the last of the ‘hillmen hunters’ to leave the site, I prepare tonight’s malternative flight: armagnac from Samalens in Laujazan, Gascony. I acquired this tasting pack for next to nothing at auction. The closed pamphlet contains the usual brand flannel: ‘inventing a new way of making armagnac’, ‘original ‘single grape’,…. ‘exclusively from uni-blanc grapes’, ‘unique ageing process’,… all standard stuff it would seem, from the perspective of a whisky loving pianist relatively new to armagnac. Serge presents an altogether less cynical, more positive [and democratic, perhaps?] perspective:

WF: ‘Samalens, a large and well-reputed armagnac house, starts to follow the path created by some cognacs ‘single estate’ and just launched some Scotch-inspired ‘single distillery’ bas-armagnacs. Everything screams ‘malt whisky’, including the Compass-Box style bottles and the wording in English (single grape, single distillery and so on). Even more unusual: these armagnacs are partly double distilled – whilst most armagnacs are distilled using column stills – and start their lives in new oak before being transferred into used casks‘.

My tasting pack contains the 8, 12, and 15year old expressions. From an armagnac advent calendar I bought a few years back, I also have alongside, oh, another Samalens 8yo – ha!

.

Samalens 8yo [<2019] Ob. 40% [5cl] WF83

Samalens 8yo

‘80% double distillation, 20% continuous distillation’.

  • N: Delicate/soft nose with confectionary aromas that remind me of the more lavish travel retail outlets in Turkey that openly provide try-before-you-buy treats. Notes then of Turkish Delight, pistachio honeyed somethings, rose water, marzipan,.. that kind of thing.
  • T: Light and pleasant. After the initial slightly innocuous spicy wave, comes liquorice into,…..
  • F: ,… oaky teas, slightly burnt vanilla sugars, and spices. A quick-mover this one.
  • C: The continuous still distillation action is most noticeable in this youngest expression. Rather light, slightly innocuous yet pleasant, pretty much covers it, though there’s little wrong here.

Scores 79 points

.

Samalens 12yo [<2019] Ob. 40% [5cl] WF85

‘50% double distillation, 50% continuous distillation’.

Samalens 12yo.jpg

  • N: Along similar lines to the 8yo, and sharing the same abv, this 12yo possesses more presence/weight/volume. As well as more goodies from the travel retail bazaar, we’ve moved on to a nearby delicatessen/coffeehouse. In addition to what the 8yo provided, we add maple syrup-covered waffles to our shopping list, a touch of cherry liqueur, Falernum, a very subtle earthy [Angostura] note, cinnamon hot cross buns, blueberry muffins,…
  • T: Like the 8yo, there’s a slightly spicy middle, though this ones arrival is far silkier [and maltier?!?], and with considerably more body to ride the waves. Add only a drop or two of water and this thing sails through without a bump, delivering a characterful soup of broad undefined armagnac-y flavour.
  • F: After a creamy caramel move towards bitter molasses latte, we’ve oaky cherry and dried apricot fruits with more grainy oakiness and a milky coffee conclusion.
  • C: This is a significant step up from the 8yo.

Scores 82 points

.

Samalens 15yo [<2019] Ob. 40% [5cl] WF85

‘50% double distillation, 50% continuous distillation’.

Samalens 15yo.jpeg

  • N: Again, like with the 8yo, we’ve another step up from the 12yo. The family resemblance remains, but overall, this 15yo reflects a richer intensity of all the flavours the 8yo, and to some extent the 12yo, displayed. We have moved on from the airport bazaar and the delicatessen – taking with us a take-out caramel mocha – to an indoor Eastern market in Istanbul or Mysore in India, perhaps. With an array of colours, cake mix soon becomes the order of the day, flavoured with a few baking [coffee] essences and additional walnut pieces. Then comes the liqueur-like suggestions and other top tones reminiscent of old OBE’d Scotch blends & some slightly dank old rums.
  • T: Adding to the lactose-y mocha/latte vibes, we’ve a more rounded mouthfeel and thickening mouthful. Compared to the 12yo, earthy/bitter tones begin earlier,… 
  • F: ,… stretching over to milky/creamy bitter-ish coffee with a dash of hazelnut/walnut liqueur, liquorice,… earthy bitter [cinnamon-grainy] spices. There’s something gacky about this at the end, much like you can get after consuming a generic milky coffee.
  • C: There’s not much between the 12 and 15-year-old. I’ll give this the edge, but there’s not much in it.

Scores 83 points

.

As the sun begins to set over the bay, I pour a Guillon-Painturaud Vieille Reserve cognac [WLP189/WLP289] to remind myself of journey, form, and finesse – qualities accompanied by a considerably higher price-tag in comparison to a 15yo Samalens.

,

END

.

.

Ardroil.jpeg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s