Following on from yesterday’s breathtaking anniversary tasting (WLP), today’s event I’ve self-titled Golden Moments, the whiskies of which are courtesy of both The Old Man of Huy and JS. The flight is accompanied with audio clues, many of which I fail to follow due to being rather detained by the drams.
After a fine lunch at the local, we begin with a “stab-in-the-dark” purchase we’re told took 20 minutes to remove the wax & cork. “Have you tried rubbing it?”, I ask.
- N: This has an old blended quality [Catto vibes WLP], albeit a very clean example. Profile-wise, I find its character leaning towards butter biscuits, barley sugar and the like, yet with a bitterness also. Seemingly somewhat column-y [column still-esque], Jacob calls “tequila”. Also, ginger straw,… and is that treacle/pumpkin pie in the distance? I don’t find a great deal else at the time.
- T: Thin clean, grappa/tequila-esque, coppery bitterness with a light single cream maltiness/sweetness.
- F: Raisiny light coppery [bottled] lemon juice,… soft sustain.
- C: More like a very soft yet clean blend – [old vintage] Canadian Club? – than a single malt at times, we’ve a welcomed curiosity Turret.
Scores 85 points
- N: Uber-fruitiness on orange, Victoria plums, and melons in breadcrumbs, sponge jam [strawberry=raspberry], fresh hessian,…. it’s a shopping list galore. An excellent nose, one that evolves and evolves.
- T: Chewy [with water – in mouth – otherwise, keep it neat], malty and fruity, peppery liquorice,.. becoming more tannic as it opens up and somewhat perplexing on the turn.
- F: Old paint, drying waxy-ish/greasy heat into a drying shrinking finish yet lingering thereafter.
- C: Best neat, the nose excels, the arrival and chew also commendable.
Scores 88 points
Our song clue to mystery dram #3 is the theme tune to Golden Eye, the thread being (current) 007 = Daniel Craig = Glencraig! tOMoH: “You don’t want me to give it away do you?”.
- N: Tropical and orchard fruits (mango, gala melon,..), roadside herbal [thyme/marjoram/sage], mouldy bung/hessian, ginger loaf, sweet baked goods,.. Now taken in by the subjective qualities of the nose, it’s “flamingos in a European orchard”!
- T: Bold, confident, striking/strident arrival, yet with a relaxedness that those 44 years of maturation allow. Slow release travel thereafter and becoming more tropical, though overall, less flourishing than the nose.
- F: Over-ripe fruits, dry herbs, tannic, rich [bourbon] vanilla.
- C: At this age, this could be from any distillery, Lomond still or otherwise. Brilliant also. On reveal, this is declared as very possibly the oldest ever Glencraig. A treat indeed.
Scores 91 points
Bruichladdich, says tOMoH, “the only distillery on Islay to be built of concrete“. Our song clue is Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold’, appropriate enough for a distillery and its mission-terroir.
- N: Equally as old skool as it is contemporary with a creamy phenolic quality few seem to register. Almost farmy at times, so savoury in nature and yet there’s golden syrup also. Overall, complex, composed, and perfectly seasoned.
- T: Rich, savoury, light herbal with an elegantly soft phenolic barley chew, milky barley faithful becoming more and more fruity.
- F: Heathery malty, phenolic milky [so more of the same], rose petals, milk of magnesia,…
- C: A classy all-rounder. Being far more phenolic that I know Bruichladdich to be and to have been way before the medium & heavily peated expressions began to emerge in the noughties, I thought Talisker was a good shout. Most likely a cask charring/toasting situation than a random/mystery peated spirit run.
Scores 91 points
One of Scotland’s oldest whisky distilleries, did I hear rightly that St. Magdalene closed on Christmas Day? The year, at least, was certainly 1983. Which distillery opened/began distilling on Christmas day? Glenfiddich? Yep, in 1887 (SW).
- N: Deep pongy cream, creamy fruit puree, set yoghurt, mango curry, nan, popadoms,… all the pickles, banana leaves, banana blossom, white bananas,….
- T: Some OBE? Old/soft/thin on the palate, soft citrusy toffee, malt loaf, savoury-sweet sherry [Glen Scotia 15/Glen Moray ‘that sherry cask’ WLP90], funky balloon rubber,… In the middle, it becomes a beautiful creamy malt, honeyed, oozing into white toasted bread.
- F: Short, profile-faithful.
- C: Exquisite soft/old malt, aged in bourbon casks and ‘enhanced’ by ex-cognac oak.
Scores 90 points
- N: A blueberry feast and with red wine grapeyness, this is on the (my) right side of sweet. Also, rosehip tea, ‘magic’ beer [it’s been a magical weekend], pancake brioche/currant buns [without the currants],…
- T: More sweet wine but an oaky herbal-sweetness, this is a deliverer of joy.
- F: A hint of [aspirin] sourness/grainy liquorice, marzipan grapey/armagnac-y tannins > bitterness > grape sulphur,.. all mild quibbles really.
- C: Yet another Glen Mhor beauty, one of my favourite [sadly closed] distilleries.
Scores 92 points
Golden Moments aside, today’s theme could be ‘Mature yet Fresh’.
- N: We continue flying high. A firm abv offers up bananas, a suggestion of Space Invaders, clean yet old thick varnish on mahogany, Feast Bars, blackcurrant cheesecake,…. savoury-sweet gelatinous/confectionary treats.
- T: Heavenly sweet and faultless arrival, perfectly formed, malty and oily, fruity too. WIth a focused/determined route, we pick up on banana flambé and blackcurrant/raspberry coulis over ice-cream.
- F: More ‘magical’ beer, thick bourbon-y cask effects, battered yet uncooked pineapple rings.
- C: Though not particularly [who cares] Springbank-y in my book, it’s delicious stuff – uber-fresh, super-accessible, likeable, fresh, robust.
Scores 91 points
Our next audio clue is the Strangler’s classic, ‘Golden Brown’ – peat being brown! (groans & giggles).
- N: Onion-y/allium, buttered kale/spinach and fruity. I call “Ardbeg” right there and then – so I got the region right. Also, roasted chestnuts, treacle-encrusted wafer,..
- T: Perfection. Never sacharrin, this is a fructose-sweet herbal affair, oily [dry not dry], focused. Easy on the water.
- F: Fruity ash, light meatiness/sage & onion stuffing, savoury ashy-dry vanillins.
- C: Ardbeg [17yo] vibes all the way through. Regardless, a cracking dram. How spoilt we are. Well-aged Caol Ila’s rarely fail to disappoint.
Scores 92 points
The end?,… [we know this game so well], but what could top yesterday’s 1970s 43yo Bowmore? A 1960s Bowmore!!!
Specifically, the third of a trilogy that featured:
- 1] Black Bowmore 1 & 2 [original rrp £90]
- 2] Bowmore White [bourbon casks]
- 3] Bowmore Gold [‘Best’ four casks – 3 bourbon, 1 oloroso sherry] – see pic
As far as I could ascertain in the moment, The Old Man met with the seller of this bottle at Cadenhead’s, London. During the transaction, one of them jokingly said “great with coke” which prompted the birth of the ‘Coke Float’ tastings.
- N: Formed of a petrol-y > oily fruit composite that doesn’t normally exist in this realm and can’t be replicated. With balsamic-sake/koji vibes over sushi ginger, papaya, stupidly ripe [tinned] tomatoes & pineapples, blueberries too, salty [more natural] licourice, [30 minutes+] sage & onion gravy over raspberry mint yoghurt,… It’s barmy to dissect such a masterpiece in a one-dram sitting, but hey ho, if I must!
- T: Incredibly rich in flavour, rum-y/estery as if Bowmore have used dunder from a recently formed muck pit – diluted Royal Vale [WLP90] if you will. Also, fruity sage & onion, more papaya, beyond ripe, and sour-sweet in an unearthly way. An extraordinary experience.
- F: Blueberry malt/not malt, we remain in an outer-earthly plane. With a stupidly-long full fruity boozy finish, there’s no talk of casks, vanilla, tannins,…
- C: Perhaps not quite the emotional heights of tOMoH’s Bowmore enjoyed four years ago [WLP96], but wowee, we aren’t far away. How does such an oldie retain such an unforced freshness?
Scores 95 points
There’s more? There’s always more, but that’s for another time. Some of us are forgetting how to drink by now!
What a stunning weekend! On another day on another tasting, any one of these drams could be the star of the show. In hindsight, I realise that (almost) every time I’ve tried such drams of epic proportions, they’ve either come from tOMoH, or at the very least, he has been in the same room. With enormous thanks and gratitude to The Old Man and JS.