The theme for today’s tasting – the last of 2022 at the Old Man of Huy’s – is based around festive-centric partial anagrams – three letters or more.
As per usual, The Old Man keeps up with all the details here. I on the other hand can barely keep up with the whiskies let alone the convos and the [very cool] music.
With ten to enjoy, we begin promptly, in alphabetical order based on the anagram.
Correction, we’ve a late-comer who brings another three bottles!
Invergordon 1972/2020 48yo Thompson Bros [260 bts] 42% WB89.81 tOMoH8/10
- N: If Lush was to make nail varnish remover! Also, coconut block, candlewax, an undefined concentrated fruitiness, cracked pepper, an almost eggy quality or cream or yoghurt perhaps?
- T: Mellow with intent, medium-sweet, some pepper, luscious waxy toasted caramel with more undefined fruitiness before the bitter-ish woodiness to come.
- F: Bitter with a continued creamy berry sweetness.
- C: Not stellar but we aren’t far off. Harder and harder to find grains of this calibre/age/vintage.
Scores 88 points
Bunnahabhain 1989/2015 BB&R for Billy Abbot[t] cask #5738 [115 bts] 43.4% WB88.63 tOMoH8/10
As I understand it, this bottle, along with another, was given out to selected industry influencers by BB&R as a way of introducing their new bottle shape design to the market.
- N: All the fruits in breadcrumbs, or perhaps more tempura-styled – it’s the barley talking. And then there’s the consolidated peat, worthy of a paragraph in its own right. Oh to have a bottle!
- T: [Deliciously] delicate arrival which, nevertheless, covers the palate. More toasted barley, sweet n sour fruitiness and consolidated yet fully expressive [old-skool] peat making it [Clynelish #1] Brora-esque at times.
- F: Despite some dryness, the finish rolls on and on with a buttery coating into ashy chocolate.
- C: Bottle design, what bottle design? I could drink this style every day.
Scores 90 points
Cadenhead Creations Robust Smoky Embers 25yo  Ob. Batch #3 46% WB88.46 tOMoH8/10
More an acronym than an anagram, this is Cadenhead’s ‘ABC’ blended malt that stands for Ardbeg, Bowmore, and Caol Ila.
- N: A people-pleasing profile that talks of BBQ sticky ribs into syrup, shoe polish, pork crackling, bacon Wheat Crunchies, salt water,…. Though a 25yo bottled in 2017, it’s nothing less than a contemporary-styled malt.
- T: Smoky, vibrant and [sherry] cask-forward, we’ve a tasty mix with a commendable balance between all of the components.
- F: With the same consistency from start to finish, we’ve a sustaining fade over more oak & [previous contents of] cask action followed by smoky/ashy remnants.
- C: In three words: tasty, undemanding, creative.
Scores 88 points
Benriach 1976 27yo First Cask #9444 [btl #332] 46% WB87.33 tOMoH18/10 tOMoH28/10
Benriach contains the letters ‘b’, ‘r’, ‘i’, ‘a’, and ‘h’ that help to make up [my] ‘birthday’. A treat from JS.
- N: A savoury~sour affair on tropical fruits and soft floral yeastiness, all perfectly salt-seasoned – or is that from the previous dram?
- T: Crisp with a reclined precision, soft-sour lime/melon zest, lychee, kumquat,… Spirit and cask appear well matched.
- F: Sustained textural finish over a soft oakiness.
- C: First Cask indeed!
Scores 89 points
Kilchoman 2008 06yo SMWS 129.6 ‘Peated Candy’ [243 bts] 58.9% WB88.33 tOMoH8/10
- N: An upfront confident yet congenial peated number equalled by rich barley qualities. It’s the kind of nose that you can wax lyrical over or simply nod knowingly about.
- T: Who needs Octomore? Uber-peated, there’s a little [candy?] sweetness, but this one is decidedly more savoury and maritime with a softening chew after softened chew.
- F: With the maritime scene subsiding, somewhat, we’ve a sultana-ey barley-led finish. Intense to the last.
- C: One of the better Kilchoman’s I’ve had. Dangerous juice in the wee small hours, I can imagine.
Scores 88 points
From one SMWS release to another.
Glen Moray 2003/2013 10yo SMWS 35.97 ‘Boozy Christmas Cake’ 58.7% [10cl] WB86.73 tOMoH6/10
- N: Leans towards an amontillado whilst looking more like an oloroso = PX bomb. Ginger cake is the only descriptor I noted.
- T: Crikey, and I thought the Kilchoman was intense! This more unusual sherry-bomb talks, not of sweetness, but of sour flor underbelly murkiness. Adding water leads to additional quirkiness, even becoming a touch soapy.
- F: A sherry cocktail/punch with all the bits.
- C: No doubt a whisky gateway for sherry lovers. I came around to this in the end but I think I’d prefer an actual sherry.
Scores 85 points
The ‘bantz’ ramps up a notch higher causing my note-taking to become even scanter.
Glen Keith 1992/2021 29yo Thompson Bros [437 bts] 46.2% WB88.76 tOMoH8/10
- N: Soft honey, soft clay, sour raisins,….
- T: Soft-sharp, fruity-peppery-malty.
- F: Soft, barley citrus.
- C: Soft, given the abv of 46.2%, but perhaps that perception has something to do with the previous SMWS pair. A comforting head-nodding older-style dram.
Scores 88 points
Dubh Glas Naughty Ob. cask D006 & D010 [217 bts] 44.5% [750ml] tOMoH6/10
This is ‘Naughty’ Canadian whisky. There’s a ’Nice’ release also. The guys at Dubh Glas near Vancouver steep barley in their maturing spirit, so we brace ourselves for qualities borne from practices outside of the SWA’s jurisdiction.
- N: Certainly un-Scotch-like. Falling just short of astringent, I pick up on vibrant/pungent industrial plasticy/rubbery/silicone and barley-‘green’ tannic notes.
- T: Though relatively more ‘regular’ and oily dry on the palate, it remains a quirky one by comparison to established Scotch brands and the like.
- F: ‘Green plastic barley’ is all I wrote.
- C: Still early days. This one is all about the grain which is never a bad thing.
Scores [+/-] 81 points
Compass Box Great King Street Glasgow Blend Ob. for The Wine Merchant Ltd Ex-sherry Marrying Cask #35 [132 bts] 49% WB86 tOMoH28/10 tOMoH8/10
- N: Reminiscent of Talisker 10 with its toasted cereal quality, some allium, a list of fruits,… strawberries over baked beans?!
- T: A savoury-sour textural distillate-forward experience, the [35.2%] Cameronbridge remains the silent partner.
- F: Long evolving sour waxy, bone-dryish chocolatey finish, the 18.2% Laphroaig portion deciding to speak up some at the tail-end.
- C: Lots to like, the ‘bonus’ sherry component not obstructing the ever-excellent underlying blend.
Scores 87 points
Karuizawa 1981/2014 33yo Ob./No.1 Drinks Ex-sherry cask #152 [566 bts] 54.5% WB91.83 WF92 tOMoH8/10
Incredible colour – a ruddy brown hue – not far off the lot 60 cognac [see pic].
- N: The least exotic of the Karuizawa’s I’ve tried, though with fruity sweet veg, a toasted char note towards tobacco, and a spirits convergence, we are seeing the results of a sublime spirit in an excellent cask.
- T: Huge arrival, not necessarily in abv but in girth. Adding water doesn’t change the profile, but within this focused committed yet extraordinarily relaxed/refined delivery, there are many a ‘thing’ on clean-sherried oaked fruit sugars. Incredibly, it seems nigh on impossible to tell this is 33yo, the oak never showing its age, the spirit still very much intact despite the decades past.
- F: A long grapey waxy fruity sherry-based affair that remains balanced and graceful. Nothing not to like, nothing out of place, it makes Yamazaki’s ‘that’ Sherry Cask [WB] – going for similar money [£6-7k] – look rather rough n ready.
- C: Expecting fireworks, this one is relatively plain-sailing as Karuizawa’s go, but one that has a completeness to it. Perfect in its own way.
Scores 91 points
The next two offerings are my own. Whilst 13yo single cask Laphroaig provided today’s anagram theme with ‘Holi’, a Lot 60 cognac from Francois Peyrot [tOMoH8/10] provided an even more illuminating solution:
- Pyro~art, firepots, firepans, firetraps, astrofire all hint at the Pyrotechnic Art Festival in Cannes. East[e]r is nearly there too!
I’ll skip those two for now with a full bottle report in due course. Last up then:
Port Dundas 10yo [+/-1998] Cadenhead’s Authentic Collection World Whiskies [318 bts] 60.2% WB84.18 tOMoH18/10 tOMoH28/10
Believed to be the first Port Dundas Cadenhead bottled, oddly enough, under their World Whiskies moniker.
- N: Sugary sour with a column-y pong, this is a simple candid almost raw spirit that has perhaps benefitted from two or more decades in glass.
- T&F: Sugary sour, as on the nose, it remains plain yet potent with a blended vibe, a touch of OBE, rubber/gum, hints of [Jamaican] rum and other column-based spirits.
- C: A bottling from a bottler ahead of its time, more than a decade before ‘authenticity’ and ‘presentation’ were everyday buzzwords.
Scores 80 points
With thanks to tOMoH and JS for their hospitality. Merry Christmas.