Following on from Part 5,…. Today’s title doesn’t do this lot justice. There are some crackers here that simply didn’t find their place elsewhere in my 11-part Whisky Show series.
In the queue on Day 2, I see Tankut who I last saw in another queue at Springbank in 2019 [WLP]. Today he is pouring Glen Moray, courtesy of a friend’s private cask.
Glen Moray 2008/2021 12yo Private Bottling cask #5576 [233 bts] 54.9%
- C: A citrusy beer/cider-ish waxy chewy Moray of decent length body and fair form. I’m sure the cask owner must be pleased with it.
Scores 85 points
I decide to visit Diageo early this year because normally I ignore them & ignore them until I find all the nice stuff – the Special releases for example – have gone. Turns out there isn’t much of the ‘choice’ stuff as advertised. You would have thought Diageo would time their Special Releases in line with this hugely important show, or bring along unlabelled examples. Ho hum, whilst I’m here I should try something. How’s about the 12yo Lagavulin 2020 release that Serge awarded 91 points to. Not too shabby a start.
Phenolic whisky so early on, I hear you cry. This year, I thought I’d embrace the peat as I often intend to ‘peat-out’ later in the day and never do. I even approached the Bruichladdich stand this year for some Octomore & the like, but there was no one around when I walked up. Maybe it’s a sign.
- C: The first few drams of the day can be a tricky read, especially if one isn’t used to setting their bearings so early. Then again, it’s said the professionals generally ‘observe’ in the morning. All I observed and noted at the time was a fresh oily phenolic dram with a charming mouthfeel. Overall, excellent.
Scores [+/-] 90 points
Hoping to try the Legendary Eight – also not here – instead, I’m recommended the [dream dram] Anniversary blend.
JW name-drop ‘the long-closed distilleries of Pittyviach, Cambus and Port Ellen‘, that have ‘,… been explored to craft a whisky that reimagines the exotic flavours of the 1820s’. Jim Beveridge says: “For the Bicentennial Blend we decided to go right back to Walker’s shop. In the Diageo Archives we found lists of items that he was supplying and it made us wonder what the smells and flavours would have been like. That was our inspiration“. So that’s the story. What’s the juice like?
- N: An excellent nose with a good sweet & salty-sour citric balance. Unnoticeable grain element.
- T: The palate follows on from the nose with decent travel. Where you might find some congestion on the turn, as a clean blend, we’ve body/weight with clarity.
- F: Creamy finish, and again, I don’t detect the grain so much if at all.
- C: Excellent execution at a price [£700+]
Scores 87 points
One more then, from the giant.
Johnnie Walker Celebratory Blend  Ob. 51% WB86.84
- C: I like this, a sharper, fresher dram in comparison to the 28yo – which isn’t at all surprising. Better than JW Black [WLP83] certainly, but at £51, it needs to be. No details on the batch size, so perhaps this is a rolling celebratory bottling. The biggest thing to celebrate is that [enthusiasts] abv.
Scores 85 points
Enough of Diageo already! They don’t have the Glenury Royal Ghost & Rare bottling either, or at least, not for me. It’s a slightly deflating experience. In theory, they [Diageo] could be presenting the best whisky on the planet at the best price, given what they have at their disposal. What was it Chuck D used to say,…
I shall never forget huddling around a barrel with dozens of other eager malt heads, flipping dream dram tokens towards Colin Dunn for a pour of the latest Brora. Oh, the good ole days,….. around three years ago .
From one giant to another, William Grant & Sons possess a ‘Malt Distillery Capacity’ in excess of 37 million litres year per, behind Pernod Ricard [+76 million] and Diageo [+121 million, 30% of the industry] – according to The Malt Yearbook 2020.
A 23yo Glenfiddich on free-pour? Sounds good.
- N: Finished in French oak, I find it Caperdonich-like in part, albeit more citrus-y/cleaner,.. a little creamy.
- T&F: Same again. Remarkably clean, so very balanced and consistent,… uninterrupted form – ‘smooth’ of course, as if to be deliberately indifferent.
- C: Much like Glenmorangie, does Glenfiddich get better with age, or just slightly different? I think this Grand Cru is rather good, though it doesn’t inspire me enough to pay £10 to try the 26yo. The glaring omission here is the minimum bottling strength.
Scores 87 points
All well and good. However, it’s strikingly evident at this year’s show, that whilst the majority of producers are now on board with 46%/non-chill filtering/no added colour as standard – including a small number of [Diageo’s] Johnnie Walker expressions – Glenfiddich is keeping it ‘traditional’. When you think of how far the industry has come in the last few years in this respect, surrounded by the influx of new distilleries following the ‘craft’ model, Glenfiddich appears to have stuck.
Murray Stevenson from Lindores Abbey recognises me in the crowd, from a couple of virtual tastings with SWAG [WLP]. I thank him again for his passion and commitment to the distillery & its cause, and the generosity of his time at our tastings.
Lindores Abbey [28/09/21] Un-Ob. Bourbon cask sample [ref: 200921-017] 49.4%
Once again, Lindores is a truly great story [WLP], one that ties in the early [earliest] recorded history of whisky at the end of the middle ages to the legacy that is Michael Jackson and the whisky landscape we see today. Looking up at the banner [see above], I had no idea the Abbey was so close to the River Tay. I shall be visiting before too long.
- C: Fresh and fruity with an abv-punch to match. [Not scored]
I spot an astronaut,… and there I was worried about wearing jeans over trousers, or Converse over smart shoes. It’s fair to say the dress code at these fine whisky events has relaxed enough for the festival spirit to ignite into the occasional fancy dress outburst. All for the better, I say.
It’s always a pleasure to see the Laing brothers, looking as relaxed as I’ve ever seen them. That goes for me too, in fact. There’s something to be said for taking some time out from the everyday grind, even if it is [Government/Media/Pharma] imposed. We end up talking politics for around 45 minutes before hitting upon the solution to the Capitalist Ponzi scheme. If only our brainwave[s] had survived the next morning! I think it was along the lines of print free money for all, and a government led by a rising footballer or two.
Anyhow’s, there’s whisky to try and HL has brought some gems. Here is a couple:
Deanston 1996/2021 25yo HL OMC cask #18697 [216 bts] 50% WB87
- C: Distillery character personified. A mature one from the ‘old’ regime that speaks of Deanston’s fruity/banana/oily bitter-sweet profile we see in the contemporary core 12yo [WLP]. Right up my street, this one.
Scores 88 points
Balmenach 1989/2019 30yo HL O&R refill hogshead #18122 [348 bts] 44.3% WB87.80
- C: In my lowly experience, Balmenach is either really good or [predominantly] ‘meh’. Which will this be? Yes, yes, yes, we’ve the former!! A sublimely easy light barley-faithful sugary-sweet malt with a chocolate-y touch. Go [try before you] buy [£280].
Scores 89 points
Last up, it’s Watt and Mark & Kate’s first show!
Kate tells me “Mark is NOT at home babysitting, he’s parenting”. She has had quite enough of explaining where Mark is and why he isn’t here. Fair. After discussing Lazy Susan-styled dramming tables, it’s time to try their 20yo Port Dundas, a bottle of which Mr Swag bought the last of when we were in Campbeltown a few weeks ago [WLP].
Port Dundas 2000/2021 20yo CWC/Watt [200 bts] 57.1% WB88
Remember Diageo’s ‘official release’ 20yo Port Dundas which peeps raved about some years ago? I couldn’t justify the £90-100 price tag it had risen to at the time [+/-2014], now around £160-170 at auction. In 2021, Watt’s PD is around £85.
- C: I find Port Dundas generally has a weight/body/viscosity that North British, Cameronbridge, and Invergordon doesn’t always have. This one I find very good and typical of the genre.
Scores 85 points
- C: An aged yet fresh number, I can’t think I’ve had many better Allt-a-Bhainne’s, though [after checking] only a 9yo from SMWS has matched it [WLP88].
Scores 88 points
- C: Quality rum always comes at a price, Tropical vs Continental ageing-dependent. This one is more than reasonable at £80.
Scores 86 points
Next up, old & rare’s from whisky.auction in Part 7