Wednesday, 6 May 2015

SMWS 14.3 - 17 year old Talisker 1979

Distillery: Talisker
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 17
Distilled: 1979
Bottled: 1996
Strength: 64.3%.
Cask Code: 14.3

This was a bottle that took my eye at auction as independent bottlings of Talisker are as rare as hen's teeth. I shared this with some blogging friends and we split the bottle 7 ways. I have no idea what cask this is as it was bottled in the early days of the society where such information wasn't given out, or probably needed. This is when the society was maybe more just about the taste of the whisky than it is now.

Nose: Very mineral like and very like nosing a fizzy glass of mineral / soda water. It also reminds me of American Cream Soda, which is similar but flavoured with vanilla. There is Apple peel, dry and pretty dusty which has some trademarks of a fino sherry cask, but I have been unable to find out any information on the cask type or the number of bottles to give me some clues. There are also indications of well used wood, maybe even third fill and potentially this could have been malt destined for blending? Powdery dusting sugar and some old books making this musky. Some very light tobacco smoke and a tiny bit of peat comes and goes. It is possible if there was more peat in this it has weakened over time in the bottle here. I get a little cork which may or may not be down to time in the bottle and bamboo shoots. A little butter scotch that I would normally associate with grain whisky, and again well used wood that has already given off most of its more obvious flavours. Earth.

Palate: This definitely does not feel like 64.3% - Has the alcohol strength reduced through evaporation here? This would certainly tie in with the cork elements. Slightly sour, some barley, and a touch of light fruit.

Finish: Mint, hemp, and slightly floral.

This was a pretty challenging dram and unique to boot. I will need to go back to this again and further dig into it.

Monday, 4 May 2015

3.243 "Dark, smouldering flamenco gypsy" (17 year old Bowmore)

Distillery: Bowmore
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 17
Strength: 57.1%.
Cask Code: 3.243 "Dark, smouldering flamenco gypsy"
Cask Type: Refill sherry butt.

I'm not much of a PR blogger, and I struggle to find time to update this blog with the dozens of tasting notes building up in my little book so I very rarely ever get sent free whisky and I never solicit it either so it was a nice surprise to receive a little package in the mail from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, whom to be honest are probably my main source of whisky and I rarely have the need to go elsewhere. This is a sample of a special Bowmore bottling they have done for Feis Ile; that is the Islay music and whisky festival.

On Friday the 22nd of May which I know I know is technically the day before the festival starts but let's not split hairs), the SMWS are throwing a special extravaganza at Islay House. The most annoying part for me is that the general distillery offerings are pretty vanilla, and that is not saying bad, but just underwhelming for someone who knows a bit about it already, and this event would be right up my street but I won't be there for it. I rant and rave about the society and their whisky to anyone who can be bothered listening but if you can, get along to this event and check it out.

Nose: I rather like society Bowmores, and in particular the refill butt bottlings and they are becoming more of a staple purchase for me than the ever available and reliable Caol Ila! The strange thing is that I actually very rarely buy standard Bowmores out the shop so I wouldn't even class myself as a massive Bowmore fan, but yet in the context of great independent bottlings - I am. At the start this prickles my nose and is pretty closed up in the alcohol and I getting general sweetness and savouriness but nothing really discernible so I'm adding a little water to break this one open a little. I am getting teak oil / linseed oil which invokes images of polished floors and furniture in an old drawing room. Walnut whips, and roasted chestnut also lend similar notes of wood and oil. Cigarette smoke in an old man's pub (before the Scottish smoking ban of course). Fishermen's friend sweets and lavender oil which both increases the oil element but also that characteristic floral note which is in these Bowmores to varying degrees. The sherry brings some dark and overripe blackberries which brightens and livens up things which are dominated by the darker tobacco, oily, woody, leathery thing going on. Some malty biscuitness coming through as well which comes and goes in waves.

Palate: Autumn berries in a sticky jam. I get some mint chocolate, and liquorice dipped in sherbet. There is a slightly soapy, detergent element there but that's probably linked to the lavender, and you'll either love or hate it and it's certainly not as much as some other bottings anyway, but I'm the former; I quite like it.

Finish: Tobacco is back here alongside a steak that has been seared on a BBQ and slightly sooty and charcoaly. Not masses of peat coming through, but it's pretty briny. Getting a little touch of fried seaweed as well which is pleasant.