Bottle Polishing: Spring 2021, part 1/4

Bottle polishing time. It’s been a while and, as usual, there’s a backlog! Unusually for me, this first part is a more mainstream whisky/spirits review, comprising of single malts you may well find in supermarkets, [once] travel retail, or on online flash-sales,…

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Laphroaig QA Cask [2016] Ob. For travel retail 40% [1ltr] WB81.42[390] WF74 WM84[2]

I’m not sure how much this differs from Laphroaig Select. ‘QA’ refers to the oak type (Quercus Alba), not the cask size, and there was I thinking I’d bought a litre of Laphroaig Quarter Cask for £42. Drats! No doubt I was a little worse for wear at the time, as I usually was after touring with the Yasmin Levy band.

  • N: Savoury vanilla=wafer-sweet, waxy-ish savoury, fruity-ish smoked/ashy > vegetal > slightly TCP-ed < barley > salty brine water with onion pastry/French onion soup, corn starch,…Greggs [Quorn] sausage rolls, Paxo,… That’s more than enough on the descriptors-front, you get the picture. In short, we’ve a fairly decent array of whisky all-sorts, on the nose at least.
  • T: Appears ‘fine’ for no more than a second before fading to a watery smoked-mashy > wash-like nothingness. A few years in [the bottle remaining firmly on the shelf for virtually all of that time], and the arrival appears more like a yeasty fizzy beer.
  • F: Almost nothing, save for saline barley and [no-heat] radish remnants, concluding like fermented wash.
  • C: All of us remember our first Laphroaig. For many of us, it would have been the 10yo [in a pub perhaps]. I wonder how receptive I’d have been to Laphroaig if this one was my first? Better in its second year of opening and then a total flop in the third, what a sad case when you consider the standard 10yo is [and was] only a few pounds more. I ended up blending this away and haven’t bought a Laphroaig since, though if an Original CS Red Stripe comes up [WLP92], that would be a different matter.

Scores [a near miss] 74 points

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Time to polish off one of my go-to malts, a personal favourite a while before Ralfy rightly declared it his Whisky of the Year at the end of 2017.

Glencadam 15yo [2020] Ob. 46% WB83.60[81] WF87~WM85[6] Ralfy88[2011] RalfyWotY’17

  • N: Are we not too far away from [1997-vintage] Balblair, nor indeed Glenmorangie or even a rounder more full-bodied Dalwhinnie? With a comforting [Tomintoul-esque] floury heart, we are talking malty peppery bitter lemon, soft ripe apples and pears > potatoes into crisps?? [Kettle Chips vibe over Tyrells],.. nondescript baked goods not quite baked,…
  • T: With just the right amount of ‘rough n ready’, overall, we are talking malty-buckwheat porridge-y greenish~straw-like bitter lemon [once again] and a suggestive drop of ‘traditional’ lemonade. With a reasoned seasoned pepperiness, neat, the abv strength is just right. With water, it shines effortlessly on squidgy malty straw-like edgy bitter lemon with half a tablespoon of honey.
  • F: What’s key here is the [1st-fill=refill?] ex-bourbon cask-ageing that – with a waxy > chalky > fungal touch – consolidates/integrates the malty bitter lemon edge, setting up a perfectly agreeable daiquiri-like woody astringency to the last.
  • C: This is a perfect example of a no-nonsense matured barley spirit. Since being largely unavailable after Ralfy’s accolade, this is my first bottle since, and a re-conformation of an old faithful. I’m pleased to see the average Whiskybase rating has gone up a mark since then. Quite right.

Scores 86 points

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Glendronach 21yo [2020] Ob. Parliament 48% WB88.24[392] WF85 [WF]86[Angus] ralfy85 WLP85

It’s been a while [2016] since I enjoyed a bottle of Glendronach’s Parliament. So why buy a bottle in 2020? In the unlikely event that you missed it, the thinking goes that Glendronach’s 21yo currently holds whisky aged around the 24/25 year-old mark, due to the distillery being mothballed between 1996 and 2002. So, with distillate no older than 1995/6, you are essentially getting a 25yo whisky for just under a £100 [when on offer]. Further reading: WoW

  • N: I remember the Parliament being more resinous & ‘finished’ three years ago, and then darker, bitter, murkier, bitter, and even frail around eight years ago, as if the juice was coming apart at the seams. This year [2020], on balance, we’re good from the off with a consistently pleasing aromatic comfort blanket, though it is very sweet.
  • T: This does so many things so well. On the other hand – as the nose indicated – it comes with a sugary sherry-seasoned glupe that some will love and others may tire of. At the heel of the bottle, it’s more on leathery briny plastic-y prunes and a sloe note [Serge nails it again], yet it remains peppery~gacky-vanilla-candy-sweet to the point that – much like a more dubious Thai meal – you start to wonder whether it’s as low-calorific as you had thought/hoped.
  • F: There’s no denying the cask maturity which brings deliciousness in the form of grassy-sawdusty/oak-dry bitter-sweetness and a desirable huskiness with a squidgy depth that can’t be conjured without those two+ decades in casks. At the heel, it’s the synthetic leathery-dry Garibaldi raisin-y dehydrated-oils and sootiness that offers appeal to the last. It’s just such a shame it’s all so syruped.
  • C: Same same but different, it’s the same story ever since I started buying and drinking bottles of the Parliament ten years ago. Simply put, this [often very] affordable and well-aged sherry-matured Glendronach is, as ever, incredibly enjoyable whisky. Just don’t expect an elaborate odyssey.

Scores 86 points

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Next time, we polish off bottles of whisky from Nc’Nean, Strathclyde, Allt-a-Bhainne, and [perhaps] Macallan & Tamdhu.

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END

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