Yet More Bottle Polishing: Spring/Summer 2021

Having spent a week in the woods, I duly came back with a [smallish] box of empty bottles to talk about – all part of the [letting go] programme. Let’s begin.

Bladnoch 2001/2014 12yo Ob. Sheep Label #282 55% WB84.48[25]

  • N: From a lightly peated sherry butt, it makes you wonder what Bladnoch was producing at the time, that they thought this release-worthy enough for their distillery label ‘farm’ series. Hinting at a very slight sooty/ashiness, ‘boingy’ ginger, I begin to pick up on some peppery citrus-hot fruits, sugars, and faint suggestions of a farmy porridgy old paint tin base, but even after 5, 7, 9 months/one year+ later, even time itself can’t tame those sherry-springy/ vinegary-sweet Swarfega-esque volatiles. With some trepidation, let’s see what the palate says.
  • T: With a passing farmy/phenol hint, we’ve bitter-briny-citrus burnt fruit sugars and singed/plimsolls in the main, with little else managing to survive past that dominant boingy charred cask and cinnamon-y plimsoll middle. A year on, and remaining idiosyncratic meaty raisin-rubbery grimy and dirty,.. with one last positive push, one could view this as a freaky Glen Scotia/Loch Lomond/Abhainn Dearg-like mezcal-rhum Agricole-esque crossover,… though this all feels like clutching at straws.
  • F: Astringent yet aromatic peppery sherry all the way home, though a style of sherry maturation that sits between the old transport casks and the fully seasoned syrup-ed jobs. Is that vanilla fudge at the death, no, it’s ‘rum & raisin’, but with boingy detergent remaining till the tail, this is all desperate last measures. A cellulose-y mouthfeel on the last leg is the surprising pinnacle of this one’s game, soon followed by a soapy sugar barley note before an all-fortified wine affair at the death.
  • C: No, it’s not a total shocker/disaster. It’s just very odd/freaky and really hard work, and I’d so been looking forward to opening this bottle I bought for just £45 on the back of giving a 3cl sample stellar marks back in 2011/12 when I had little experience.

Scores 80 points

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From one sherry grenade to another.

Edradour 2010/2020 10yo Ob./Signatory Un-chillfiltered Collection cask #10 [btl #702] 46% WB0

Edradour has released a large number of single cask offerings with frequency over the past few years, be it as official bottlings or under the [Edradour’s owner] Signatory Vintage label. Admittedly, I’ve engaged very little with these releases despite hearing more and more good things [from friends, and Ralfy for example]. Then a 2009 SV 10yo came my way via a S.W.A.G. ‘What’s In Your Cupboard’ tasting, which I found immensely pleasing [WLP87]. Unable to source a bottle from that cask #350, I decided to plumb for cask #10 instead, on paper, a similar prospect.

  • N: Initially [mahogany-dark] fruity > hammy rubber into a rum-like note, but soon enough – on opening – we’ve brown sugar over sweet [Nice] biscuits, a hint of matchwood, an old opened paint tin,… A few months later, it’s simplified to a consolidated rubbery < vanilla affair along with dried orange segments etc,… and a blatant charring note. This narrow formidably sherry cask-led nose ain’t going to win the highest of accolades, though remains competent.
  • T: A ‘divinely’?-soft sweet sugary > molasses mahogany delivery as if there’s a danger of this being too soft as if it’s entered its 22nd year of maturation – Whyte & Mackay 21yo-like anyone? [WLP78] – not its 11th. That said, like on the nose, there’s no great depth here. Being more a cask-forward though soft/forgiving experience, vegetal and rubbery it remains though far less rubbery than the nose, and thankfully, nothing like the previous Bladnoch. Being a remarkably soft experience on the palate then, the abv is wanting to be no lower than 46%, and yet at ‘craft’ strength, we’ve still plenty of greasy sugary/vegetal grip. After just two weeks, the sugars are loosening and reforming to create all number of chemical solvent-y medicinal=confectionary triggers. After 3 months it [still] remains greasy slightly oily vegetal rubbery sugary barley juice, molasses-y whisky/rum-like, and bitter-sweet on the turn. Whilst busy waffling, did I mention it’s also rather tasty?
  • F: Watery [yet weighted?] mashed-vegetal brown treacle-bitter < sugary sweet with a slight green fern-leaf edge coupled with a light spread of Vitam-R, and a supportive yet never over-active lingering soft pepper-freshness.
  • C: Curious and fun this one, though Fettercairn’s excellent [first release] 16yo [WLP86] helps put things into some perspective. Mix both together and you’ve an absolute cracker. So much so, I ended up drinking most of this with said Fettercairn.

Scores 84 points

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Glenglassaugh 2012/2019 6yo for Franck Debernardi ‘La Cuvee de Cobalt’ Octave cask #SC89 [btl #23/65 bts] 57% VIDEO WLP88

After raving about this at a S.W.A.G. ‘What’s In Your Cupboard’ session [WLP88], a number of bottles were bought by Swaggers including yours truly. As promised, here’s my full bottle review.

  • N: On first contact last year, I went on/down a right ole’ colourful grape-driven road trip/rabbit hole, but in the cold light of day [12:31 to be precise], we’ve clearly a powerfully presented candid young whisky from an energetic ex-bourbon octave cask. Reminiscent of young [sherry-matured] butterscotch & ginger cake Strathclyde’s [WLP], I can see why sherry/grape suggestions and perceptions were so strong last time around. And then there’s the colour. Not sure where that previous Kilkerran reference came from but, interestingly, my Glengyle trigger is pulled fairly frequently. Did I simply confuse sulphur [from spirit] with sherry & phenols? Driven by the cask [and the spirit’s abv], we get heaps of leathery runny [orange zest-infused] toffee and bourbon/vanilla in the main, oh and rum-like >> flambé < banana coupled with bready ginger cake [again], ginger powder, grassiness, peanut shells,… and let’s not forget the pencil shavings.
  • T: With nothing of Glenrothes this time around [what was I thinking?], neat, the arrival is huge,.. explosive even! Water will relax it but then something about the explosive charge is lost. Much like a truffle liqueur, the initial blast is followed by an oozing – green/[sappy]/wood-resin-astringent vanilla-sweet oozing in this case, and where this one’s A-game is at. Then there are the [orangey-honey-vanilla <] fishing lure-like flip & turn flashes of colour [neat: with peppery/spicy active-oak heat] as things move swiftly through. With loose resemblances to a [once]-dependable ole’ single malt faithful [such as Glenfarclas] coupled with the vibrancy of a young expression [from any number of millennial distilleries], whilst processing the potential to provide body for a solid established blend, perhaps this Glenglassaugh can be seen as thoroughly reflective of the current whisky landscape.
  • F: We are soon into the finish with a juicy/succulent pastry-creamy [and crema] banana-y/vanilla-y bourbon-y/malty conclusion with a bourbon-y fungal [dunnage?] touch.
  • C: I don’t drink much bourbon yet the occasional full-ex-bourbon-driven [single cask] single malt can certainly pique my interest. I found this one shone most brightly in the company of other more ‘standard/regular’ single malts. With thanks to Adrian.

Scores a slugger-solid [yet with more than at first meets the eye] 87 points

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Speyside Distillery 1999/2012 Carn Mor cask #323 [720 bts] 46% [20cl] WB90[1]

  • N: The comforting easy profile of, say, [a fluffy-ish] Tomintoul against the edgy nature that is Speyside Distillery, is the juxtaposition by which this relaxed yet engaging presentation sits. With that relaxed yet defined dunnage-y/grassy butternut squash-sweet-citrus nose with lightly peppered malty-light lager-beer tones, this is perhaps most likened to Glen Grant 10 though other similar [Speyside] malts at a similar age may easily apply. Just so, this is an ideal outdoor dram on a sunny-ish [Sunday] afternoon.
  • T: Refill bourbon casks, eh? You can’t beat ‘em! Being only a little [grapefruit-citrus pith] sharp/edgy/dry on arrival, we are soon on a reliably familiar well-trodden barley-led citrus-sour developmental path towards [only slightly coppery] honeyed buckwheat-putty-mash into,… 
  • F: ,… a [grapefuit-cellulose]-weighted, short-medium mashy fungal beer/wash finish, a touch metallic,.. the fusty savoury-sweet n sour barley & citrus [German savoury bakery~cider/icing?] quality ever the mainstay focus, whilst the frequent threat of heat never materialises.
  • C: An independent release that Strathmill [& Glencadam] fans may enjoy, one that gives the current official range [WLP] more than a run for its money.

Scores 87 points

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Talking of Glen Grant:

Glen Grant 8yo [1970s] Ob. Italian import 70 proof [26 2/3rd fl oz] WB89.75[7] WF89

There might be a likeness in kind, but comparing a single cask Speyside Distillery single malt distilled in 1999 to a Glen Grant 8yo bottled in the 1970s is pushing it. Hey ho, pushing it we are and I don’t have the standard 10yo to hand.

  • N: Incredibly, in the moment, I do find this very similar to Carn Mor’s Speyside Distillery single cask. Aside from the lack of abv & OBE vibrancy, a fusty waxy mashy beer-barley/citrus/cabbage-sweet n sour profile is the order of the day. Beyond this, the dryish honeyed cardboard-y/plasticine paper mache note – not an automatic negative in my book – is a familiar Old & Rare delight. Furthermore, we’ve more than a hint of pickled onions/olives in brine, basil & apricot ice cream,… a hint of soot,.. and Wrigley’s [spearmint classic]…. need I go on? With Serge’s aid, ashy charcoal grapefruit,…
  • T: Here, we’ve understandably faded/jaded yet patiently resolute/committed honeyed, slightly floury yet fatty sweet < sour barley/citrus qualities into a > bitter~heathery/grassy raw chocolate affair that steers proceedings. Indeed, layering up on the palate as I go, even the body/weight and mouthful enlarge as the whole becomes relatively richer and richer. Let’s hear it for glass ageing!
  • F: Seemingly very little [at first], especially after some high-octane contemporary malts, armagnac’s, brandy’s,.. and the like [WLP]. Regardless, everything lingers true – a paper-dry honeyed waxy barley mouthfeel with really pleasant echoes – lying relatively low/quiet under the radar before rallying with a mild/distant yet resolute & sustaining peppery/chilli raw [dry grassy] chocolate heat. Given its own platform, and despite the OBE years in glass, this young oldie can really hold its own.
  • C: I’ve really enjoyed having this bottle around as a reference. Cheap as chips at auction, these bottles can teach us a lot about the contemporary whiskies we’re drinking now, and may even offer a more rewarding prospect than the current standard 10/12 and for a similar price.

Scores 88 points

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END

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