There’s more? There’s always more. After my 115-bottle cull that ended spectacularly in August 2020 [WLP#16], what’s left?
I’ve still 120 [full-sized] unopened bottles in my collection as well as over 1500 whisky miniatures, so there’s still plenty of letting go work to do. As for non-whisky material objects, I’m not quite ready to tackle the photos, the files, all the music gear, the copious keyboards and other instruments, amps, stands, leads, flight cases,… Then there are the Raleigh Choppers.
In the spirit of letting go, what’s gone – whisky-wise – is my compulsion to have the next new thing or one of every closed distillery, one of every new distillery, one from every ‘new world’ distillery, batches, sets, series,….. and on and on. What I imagined would be the result of the letting go of my FOMO addiction and the saying goodbye to those liquid treasures, was a more immediate enjoyment of whisky. Indeed, I previously declared & predicted [in WLP#2]:
‘By letting go of my most secondary market-valued bottles, I renounce the burden of guardianship, relinquish the fear of damaging/breaking a bottle [not that I ever have], and perhaps even free my addiction to stockpiling. I’m happy to keep some of the more obscure bottles that I value, bottles that I can actually open out of curiosity without opportunity-cost deliberations first. As a result, I foresee my subsequent whisky journey taking a turn for the better. No chasing the holy grail or the next new thing, no buying on [long-term] ‘rainy day’ speculative hunches, though I’m sure the odd bottle will still prove irresistible [Chichibu, Ardnamurchan,… as it happens]. Rather than buying to keep/hoard, now when I buy a [/an affordable] bottle, I can open it immediately and enjoy it. I’ll now engage with whisky to drink, whisky to share‘.
Following my ‘dry’ return from the Outer Hebrides, came an initial purchasing flurry of bottles and tasting packs. Then a few nights back, in an impetuous move I wrote ‘No more whisky buying’ on my wall, in permanent ink,….
,… [I couldn’t bring myself to leave it as ‘No more whisky’],… which applies just as much to the [online] tasting packs as it does for bottles. Since the ‘situation’, I’ve tired of the “cul-de-sac quality”/run of the mill online-tasting output from many distilleries. bottlers and brands, and become disinterested in the latest cask-finished this or re-vatted/taken to outer space that. So rather than pursue another whisky journey route, I’ve decided instead to organise another consignment of whisky for whiskyauctioneer’s December/January auction – an auction which attracts huge activity from buyers and typically sees especially-favourable returns for sellers during this festive season. Thinking I could easily muster a further 100 bottles to let go, just 44 made the grade – a few of which I’ve acquired since returning from Scotland. Now a [ahem] shameless flipper [‘let he who has not sinned,..’], see if you can spot them.
- Ardbeg 19yo  Ob. Traigh Bhan Batch #2 46.2% WB89.75 WF91 [WF88] Ralfy91
- Ardbeg 2000/2020 20yo TWE Virtual Whisky Show 2020 cask #1087 [247 bts] 57.2% WB90.50 WF90 dramble87
- Ardmore 1996/2017 20yo Ob. 49.3% WB87.45
- Balblair 21yo  G&M Macphail’s Collection 43% WB86.92 ralfy92
- Balblair 1975/2012 37yo Ob. [2nd release Sherry Cask] 46% WB88.14 WF89
- Ben Bracken 28yo [Bt. 2015] Speyside Single Malt Lidl [6000 bts] 40% WB82.21 SW8.8 whiskyphiles
- Bimber 2016/2020 3yo Ob. Oloroso Cask Batch #2 [920 bts] 51.7% WB90.50
- Bimber 2016/2020 [+/-4yo] Ob. single sherry cask #136 [62 bts] 58.1% WB85 WLP
- Bimber Peated Cask  Ob. Batch #1 [btl #707/1750] 54.1% WB85.67
- Bladnoch 10yo Ob. ‘Flora & Fauna’ 43% WB84.19 WF85
- Bladnoch 15yo Ob. Sheep label 55% [WB]86.50 WF87 WM88~Ralfy:92]
- Blair Athol 1998/2012 13yo BBR Cask #2747 46%
- Bourbon Whiskey 24yo TBWC Batch #1 [btl #780/8376] 48% [50cl] WB87.92 WLP86
- Caledonian 29yo  TBWC batch 2 [310 bts] 49.7% WB82
- Caroni 1998/2015 17yo ‘Extra strong’ Velier 55% WF90
- Castarede 1979 Ob. Bas Armagnac 40%
- Chichibu London Edition 2020 TWE Show 2020 [1734 bts] 53.5% WB89.20 WF89
- Chita 2009/2014 4yo SMWS G13.1 ‘A complete revelation’ [622 bts] 58.3% WB87.78 WF87
- Cotswolds 2016/2020 4yo SMWS 146.1 ‘Orangudam’ [287 bts] 62.4% WB0
- Glendronach 18yo  Ob. Allardice 46% WB87.83 WF86 [WF]87 Ralfy90
- Glen Keith 1995 18yo Signatory casks 171196+171199 46% WB86.33
- Glenlochy 1968 14yo GM Brown label ‘Pinerolo Imports’ 40% [75cl] WB87.83 WF89 tOMoH8/10
- Guillon-Painturaud Vieille Reserve  Ob. Grande Champagne 40% WLP89
- Highland Park 18yo  Ob. 46% WB87.49 WF87 WLP87
- Inchgower 1990/2013 22yo Montgomerie’s cask 31032 46% WB0
- Irish Reserve 26yo  Aldi 40% WB87 WLP187/WLP286
- James Eadie’s Trade Mark X  Ob. First release 45.6% WB85.25 SW90
- Littlemill 1989/2000 11yo Cadenhead [246 bts] 61.6% WB89.33
- [Inchmoan] Loch Lomond 2001 16yo SMWS 135.1 ‘Sensual sensory sensation’ [285 bts] 53.8% WB85.50 PS5/5 dramble82 SMWS
- Mackmyra 11yo  Cadenhead Small Batch 48.2% WB85.50
- Pierre Le Duc 1978 Armagnac-Tenareze Aldi 40% [50cl]
- Port Charlotte PC7 2001/2008 7yo Ob. Sin An Doigh Ileach [24000 bts] 61% Bible 93.5 WB87.39 WF89
- Port Charlotte PC10 2002/2012 10yo Ob. Tro Na Linntean [6000 bts] 59.8% WB88.12 WM91 WN88 bible’15:96
- SMWS The Last Drop [Bottled 2002] A bottling of 891 bottles 51.3%/89.7 proof [10cl] WB0
- Springbank 12yo  Ob. CS Batch 21 56.1% WB88
- Springbank 2009/2019 10yo Ob. Local Barley [9000 bts] 56.2% WB88.66
- Strathisla 1979/2003 24yo First Cask #5347 [btl #212] 46% WB90
- Teaninich 1973/2002 [28-29yo] Scotts 59.9% WB89.33
- Tobermory 17yo  Ob. Distillery Exclusive Madeira finish [btl #393/990] 55.5% WB88 Ralfy91
- [Tomatin] Gordon Highlander 12yo 43% [10cl] WB0 [WB]0
- Vallein Tercinier Lot 65  Cognac, Grande Champagne 46% WF93 tOMoH9 WN WLP91
I’ve estimated this lot will raise around £6600, but given how the last auction went, could we be talking nearer 10k?
Another part of my letting go programme sees me unsubscribing from mailing lists, groups, subscriptions, clubs,… Simply to illustrate how deeply entrenched my interest has been, I’ve thus far unsubscribed from [in order of unsubscribed date, as they come in]:
- Whisky Antique; Master of Malt; Maison Du Whisky; Raasay; Whiskybase Shop; The Really Good Whisky Company; Whisky Hammer; Just Whisky Auctions; The Bonding Dram; Wemyss Malt; The English Whisky Co.; Cellar Door; Tobermory; Deanston; Berry Bros; Ardbeg; eSpirits; La Boutique du Chemin; Just Whisky Auctions; The Bonding Dram; Diageo; Balblair; Drinkfinder; Clyde Whiskies; Uvinum; Drinks 21; Jeroboams; Vinopolis; Whisky Online Auctions; HPK; Delivery-Wine; The Snug; Vintage Wine & Port; The Whisky World; Maison du Whisky; HTFW; Bimber; Simply Wines Direct; Cellar Door Wines; Vintage Liquors; The Whisky Cask & The Rum Cask; DrinkSupermarket; Chivas; The Kilt Store; Hedonism; Wine & Whisky; Wine Dancer; Dramtime; Lafuente Quilez; Shop4Whisky,…. and so it goes on,….. and let’s not even begin mentioning the blogs & vlogs, the FB pages, Twitter and Instagram accounts,…
Let me make it clear, I’m not saying I won’t be buying from any of these fine merchants in the future. I’m grateful to all these businesses have offered to me over the years, but it feels good to clear the desk once in a while.
Those that have survived the unsubscribing cull thus far, include [in no particular order]:
- S.W.A.G.; Springbank; Cadenhead’s; SMWS; The Whisky Exchange/Show; Whisky Auctioneer; SWA; whisky.auction; Tyndrum; Midlands Whisky Festival; Thompson Brothers; Whisky Squad; Nickolls & Perks; Royal Mile Whiskies; Southport; Good Spirit’s Co; Whisky Broker; Whisky Live, Virtual Whisky… and so it goes on.
. Given my ebb & flow abstinence, my letting go of even more whisky and whisky-related input & output, and the fact I’ve not gigged/performed since March 2020,… where does this leave the Whisky Loving Pianist, you may ask? Someone pointed out that, with professional music in the past and whisky declining, that just leaves loving. That’s what I’m working towards.
On that bomb-shell, let’s have a dram or two. Contrary to all I’ve conveyed, I am still enjoying whisky. I love whisky! I love the piano too!! Here’s some stuff I’ve tried of late.
The one everyone’s been talking about, amongst all the other releases everyone’s been talking about. Alongside the standard 12yo, perhaps not surprisingly, these two are clearly siblings. Here, we’ve a little more funk – from the additional abv initially – but both expressions are interchangeable thereafter. Good whisky is all. A good reminder of how of reasonable the standard 12yo is also.
Scores 84 points
Teaninich 2008/2020 12yo James Eadie First-fill Ex-oloroso Hogshead finish #354556 [246 bts] 51.5% WB88.80
- This easily outshines my all-sherry single cask Edradour 10yo [review to follow]. A little rough and ready at first, and with a desirable dry-yet-not-drying finish, what’s required is a little time & tendering to demonstrate there’s more to this Teaninich than a deliberately heavy cask action programme. A very good expression.
Scores 85 points
Cadenhead’s 1980/2020 40yo Ob. Cadenhead Club Blended Scotch Whisky Sherry Butt [468 bts] 44.7% WB90.06
- N: Relaxing/pleasing matured old juice.
- T: [M&M’s 41yo, bottle report to follow] Old Perth vibes, with less reach. Alternatively, I likened it to [stunningly-priced and long-gone] old Aldi-juice, with no ‘funny business’.
- F: Doesn’t really go anywhere. Oh, and it’s over-oaked aplenty.
- C: Easily trumped by a similarity-priced 1980s single cask Bunna [up next], it’s good enough. As usual, my view is not shared by the majority. I’m pleased it’s being so well received.
Scores 86 points
[Sold to the Foz for the same price as your average 3yo new distillery release], this should be a very decent dram.
- N: Rich relaxed fresh, becoming more and more Macallan-esque as the minutes pass – Speymalt pfft! Reminds me also, of the Trojan [WLP], yet far more polished, and with the cracked refill wood character of Scotia’s 15yo [WLP88].
- T: Bold slightly peppery yet with a rich fruity oily chew, moving slightly woody into bitters and just a touch of malty fusty OBE. I’m imagining a well used sherry refill cask but it could be a bourbon cask. Anyone? More mashy later on, turning bitter sour.
- F: With a desirably slick mouthfeel throughout the journey, there’s plenty of sustaining power towards a slightly creamy ashy woody and aniseed-y hot finish.
- C: This’ll grow and grow. Even the neck-pour suggests a provisional yet solid 88 points.
I finish with a perfect trio for a cold winter’s night, compliments of fellow Swagger and man behind the excellent virtualwhisky.co.uk – a website that remains on my, erm, ‘remain’ list.
It’s been a while since I had a Blair Athol, the majority of BA’s I’ve tried also single cask offerings from independent bottlers. Go IBs! From memory, with a sweet, malty, leathery, honeyed, simple, pleasing profile, the majority of Blair Athol’s output goes into Bells. Let’s see if this offering follows suit.
- N: Sugary soft-vanilla fruity-sweet, for sure, and a little malty and mashy to boot. The spirit is rather formidable and doesn’t exactly sing [even with water added]. Give it an hour, however, and those vanilla icecream-covered fruits start to shine with aromatic beer-like fruity > flowery top notes.
- T&F: Same again. Rather sharp-citrus sweet-to-malty < mashy honeyed/raisiny/caramel-y arrival into a [cask?]-dry soft-prickly citrus mashy [again] sourness. This doesn’t seem to like much water at all. It needs time to settle in, though there was never any expectation of this being a dream-boat. Slight salivating-dry huskiness resides.
- C: Interestingly, there was a 2005 13yo Blair Athol from LotG with almost the same cask number [#3657A as apposed to #3657], issued a year earlier in 2019. That was from a PX octave with an outturn of only 65 bottles and it was received rather well: WB88.67 & WF84. This expression I find rather simple, as is the Blair Athol way. Enjoyable to a point and not dissimilar to a rather un-Clynelish Boisdale Clynelish of the same age, as it turns out [WLP].
Scores 81 points
Kilchoman 100% Islay  9yo Ob. 10th Edition [12400 bts] 50% WB86.09
Comprising of 39 bourbon barrels and two oloroso sherry butts, I’ve heard very good things about this series offering. I’ve enjoyed Kilchoman’s 3rd, 4th, and 6th editions in the past [all around 85>86], and was certain I’d tried this 10th edition. It would seem this release had passed me by, until now.
- N: Whilst sharing plenty of common whisky DNA, I find the nose particularly characterful, so much so, I’m sure Kilchoman experts would spot this from a blind line-up with ease. Concisely sweet n sour [skating around oyster sauce] with a soft sweet lightly -peated & toasted meatiness, and a delicious fruity-laced core [apples, melons > suggestions of coconut/mango],… there’s plenty to dissect if so inclined.
- T: With more tiptoeing around oyster sauce, whilst the barley is clean and firm, this appears to be very much a soft=refill? bourbon-matured affair, the two oloroso casks providing top-note fruitiness and just a touch of mouthfeel. Clever!
- F: If not exactly walking the walk, both barley into oak talk the talk. The aromatic ground pepper note at the tail is so candid, it makes me wonder whether I’d ingested some earlier. Still, it didn’t materialise with the Blair Athol, so,…
- C: A highly competent, clean chiselled malt if a touch cold, perhaps?
Scores 85 points
Glen Scotia 2003/2019 15yo Ob. Campbeltown Malts Festival Rum Cask Finish [9500 bts] 51.3% WB87.02
- N: After the rather raw/honest Blair Athol and Kilchoman, here we have rather a polished accomplished malt. Yet this is Glen Scotia, which means there’s almost certainly the potential for a desirable [even fishy?] grimy dirtiness lurking close by. For sure there’s rum cask influence which provides a vanilla-rum-sweetness to proceedings, yet besides everything else, there’s also a slick oily weightiness that reminds me just how far Glen Scotia have come in the last 4-5, 6 years? And of the peatiness – mid-summer-dried cowpats coupled with rich vegetal [cod liver] oil – heaven! Then there’s the ‘NOS’ [new-old-stock] rubbery-waxiness.
- T: Again, sweet peppery-rubbery-waxy cowpats before the green-oily > almost confectionary vanilla ice-cream notes stream in. That said, it’s not exactly sweet, at least at first. At the heart, there’s a complex sweet-peppery-earthy- vegetal almost rubbery [cod liver] oiliness to enjoy, as well as more typical chocolate caramel stages that work there way to,…
- F: ,… a caramel-sweet > peated finish. Yet by this stage, the peat has enveloped into the palate as an almost subliminal base note. After some impeccably-controlled gradual yet persistent astringency, what remains is a fabulous mouthful.
- C: An excellent malt whisky that may well cellar-improve further [could be an absolute stunner in 20/30 years time]. And what are the rum casks Glen Scotia used? They work so well, we should expect, and hope, to see their likes again.
Scores 87 points
After 17 ‘Letting Go’ episodes, expect normal service to resume in due course [for the time being].