Following on from Misfits session part #1, we begin with yet more grape-based bottle polishing from a 40yo tawny port [fortified wine].
Fletcher’s 40yo  Ob./Aldi Tawny Port 20% [75cl]
- N: Quite a nose, this,… one that covers all bases, middles, and top notes. Descriptors talk of a hard & soft~cheesy~cashew nutty complex over thin hammy/raw bacon-meaty and [baked] wine-based sugars.
- T: So pleasurably grounded yet heightened, being [cherry > raspberry > blueberry > blackberry,…] fruity salty sweet > = tannic > and tart, this is a reminder of how much I like [the occasional] port – especially the tawny style.
- F: Into the finish, we’ve more of that continuing tannic-sour sweet > subtle flor-fungal cashew-nut complexity with residual sweet grape-skin pleasures that hark to all the cheeses I’ve ever eaten [and I’ve eaten a lot of cheese],.. suggestions of burgers from a [dry] processed square cheese reference,…. more [hard] cheese,…. now towards a rennet? sour,… Ginger cake at the death, dried apricots,…
- C: Aldi do it again! Probably the best port I’ve tried [which isn’t saying much], one that offers occasional glimpses of the far-reaching spirits tree.
We stay with fortified wine with this madeira pair. Given the number of madeira cask-finished single malts that have been released by numerous distilleries over the last few years – many of which I’ve enjoyed [Inchmurrin85, Abhainn Dearg86 Glen Moray89 Glenglassaugh91,… for example] – I thought it worth my while exploring this sweet wine first hand,… especially for a winning bid of just £1 for two lowly miniatures. Goodness knows how old these individually corked and waxed examples are. No one wanted them at auction. Perhaps they knew something I don’t. Too old? Does madeira even it keep – even in the right conditions – and for how long? Being fortified, surely it’s got a fair chance. It’s a start anyway, albeit a random one.
Barbeito Funchal Ob. Madeira wine abv unknown [56ml]
- N: Unsurprisingly, a faded yet spirited wine, though the sugars that give way to a fruit-laden gravy of a nose, remain the heart-beat of this old miniature.
- T: Although most certainly in the late autumn of its life, this old flat sweet wine still talks. There’s absolutely no crispness here, but a syrup-sweet – > lemon juice-sourness ensues regardless, and yet tannins,.. OBE,… rancio,..?
- F: Certainly syrupy-sweet > and sour,… there’s little complexity at this late stage.
- C: One can see how madeira and malt can work so well, even from this wee number who’s vibrancy is lost. There’s a sherried fino vibe to madeira that sauternes wine doesn’t necessarily impart. Let’s see if the second expression demonstrates this.
Barbeito Ilheu Doce Ob. Madeira wine abv unknown [56ml]
- N: More of a tawny port-like likeness at first, this one has more kick and breadth. Descriptors talk of vanilla-ey olive-y hammy wax capacitors alongside fino earthy/flor,.. koji,… so, it’s yeasty!
- T: A very different prospect compared to the Funchal, this is significantly more salivating with a more definitive narrow fino-like delivery. Where the Funchal congests the palate with [relatively low-key] sticky syrup, here, the flor-like yeastiness brings more depth of flavour.
- F: Fino-like for sure, the lack of sugary sweetness allowing for a murky earthy yeasty summary.
- C: A flat miniature also, though one still capable of producing some insight. I shall be making further [madeira] enquiries.
Staying with the grape, a solo pisco.
Viejo Tonel Moscatel  Ob. Travel Retail 41% [0.50l]
After an initial review of this bottle in 2019 [WLP78], here are my final bottle-polished thoughts.
- N: The subtle fruit delivery [mandarin, lime, pear, lychee,… take your pick], is carried by the [stainless steel] metallic sweet-citric [powdered ginger] against sour tonic notes – much like I’d noted with the Viejo Tonel Torentel. Not sure why I didn’t mention the gin~genever likeness before, the spirit itself reminiscent of Bimber’s vodka & rum new makes circa 2018 [WLP], though perhaps a reference to cachaca is stronger. Then there are armagnac/cognac the shades too,…. It’s just me trying to formulate/create a box for picos. What is certain, there’s way more here than at first [2nd or 3rd] meets the eye.
- T: With a soft-crisp >/ sharp yet gritty/sandy arrival, I get an agave likeness once again, a reference that lies somewhere between rum and tequila, perhaps. Confused? And then there’s the [grape] brandy likeness. The fruit character speaks of strawberry mousse over grapefruit, heavily served with yet more tonic, way more tonic,….
- F: ,.. peppery vanilla,… [more soft] metallic vodka,… lingering candy lime [green string],… the vanilla moving into underlying cocoa, [more] sweet [strawberry & raspberry] mousse towards more sweet [Californian] grapefruit,… caramel,… A surprisingly long finish, seemingly moscatel-based, but what do I know of pisco or wine for that matter? Very little.
- C: An agreeable clean spirit with some complexity and a subtle textural element. The question remains, is the result aided or duped by the moscatel finishing, or both? Any pisco fans in? From a Whisky Loving pianist’s perspective, I rather like it. It’s just a tad too astringent to love it.
Scores 78 points [again]
Kilchoman Bramble Liqueur  Ob. 19% [50cl]
A stocking filler from SWAG’s Wayne. This is how far behind I am with publishing my notes.
- N: With little indications of the sugary-sweet fruity booziness to come, the nose predominantly speaks of ‘classic’ ashy peat smoke from a fresh maltings batch or ‘piece’ as I believe it’s called in the industry.
- T: The initial controlled [Sainsbury’s alcohol-free red] grape juice sweetness is short-lived, and thankfully, there’s no sickly syrupyness on the palate. It’s the vivid smoke that’s key, like one has inhaled a waft from the furnace itself. Delicious!
- F: Smoke~ash with further lingering-yet-not-overbearing sugariness. It’s all woody smoke > ash at the death with a certain likeness to a smoky wash.
- C: Really simple sugars, but what a vehicle for the smoke. A gateway into [peated] whisky, perhaps? Thank you Wayne.
Ricard Pastis  Ob. 45%
- C: Number three of five mystery ‘drams’ from my sister for Christmas, this one is a palate wrecker. Seriously, holiday shots! Then again, this isn’t generally made for straight sipping. Dating back to 1932, MoM tells us: ‘Massively popular with the French, this is Marseille’s answer to Pernod, and is best served long with still mineral water and plenty of ice – a great aperitif‘. As a dram in a malt & malternative flight: disaster. As essence of anise ideal as the base for a refreshing summer aperitif, however: different story!
In the third and last Misfits session of this season [HERE], we shall be looking at rum and clairin, as well as experiments with botanicals & gin making. Until then!