Sunday, 22 September 2013

30.77 This is nuts! (Glenrothes 16 year old)


Distillery: Glenrothes
Bottling: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
Age: 16
Distilled: 1997
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 57.7%
Cask: Refill sherry butt.
Cask Code: 30.77 This is nuts!

I don't pick up sherry casked whisky often, and when I do it generally has to be a well used cask which doesn't impact too much sherryness into the malt. When I was at the SMWS venue "The Vaults" in Leith to pick up some new bottles and I seen this one which picked up my attention because I have tasted some nice malts out of Glenrothes Distillery before, and a couple of strange and interesting ones from the SMWS before so I thought I would challenge myself to something different. Won't know unless you try right?

Nose: Sometimes I wish I hadn't read the label on my SMWS bottles before doing a tasting as it does impact some power of suggestion. "This is nuts" being fairly obvious about nutty type aromas, which is the sort of things that you do pick up from sherry casks. Nuts are definately coming through but in a sweet way that you would expect from a baker or a confectioner. Sweet and creamy Praline. Almonds and Marizapan in a Battenberg Cake. Minty aromas as I always get from a sherry cask - Imagine sitting at the cinema watching a film eating Mint Ice Cream with crushed Pecan Nuts, along side freshly popped Toffee Popcorn. Lots of sweet dessert fruits such as Strawberries, Blackcurrants, Redcurrants with a chocolate sauce and cream drizzled on top. Tunnock's Caramel Logs which are one of my favourite biscuits with coconut, biscuit, chocolate and caramel - it is a very nutty treat. Moving away from sweet notes there are more meaty, savoury notes coming through in the way of smoked sausage, and pepperoni pizza. There is also a slightly vegetative note in what reminds of me brussel sprouts which I absolutely hate by the way. Even the dog refuses them off the plate at Christmas. There is a definatete rubber note which I have smelt from the beginning but wanted to concentrate firstly on the positives rather than the negatives. The note is a combination of pencil shavings and pencil rubber/erasers and the smell reminds me of my pencil box at school.

Palate: On the palate as expected without water is pretty hot, but sweet and honeyed. Almost like honey and lemon tea which I was given when I was sick as a youngster. Milk Chocolate and Butterscotch which is a very positive note.Mint, Caramel, and finally something which is a bit metallic and I don't like. The sort of thing that subtractive maturation should take away. Those meaty and rubbery notes as well.

Finish: That creamy butterscotch and chocolate, caramel and coconut, and I am not sure whether this is pleasant or unpleasant but chewing on a burnt out match. The rubbery notes linger longer than the more good ones which may or may not be a good think dependant on your sensitivity to those sulphuric compounds.

Comments: An interesting malt and I am glad I spent the time deconstructing it but the sulphuric notes are strong with this (says Darth Vader). It isn't something I could drink every night but it does make a change from the typical ex-bourbon stuff which floats my boat so much.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Balblair 83 (cask 1252) - World of Whiskies exclusive


Distillery: Balblair
Bottling: Distillery Bottling (World of Whiskies exclusive)
Age: 30
Distilled: 1983
Bottled: 2013
Strength: 54.1%
Cask: ex-bourbon

If I said I wasn't excited about this it would be a complete lie. I have known about this on the radar for a wee while: Single cask 1252 Balblair matured in a single ex-bourbon cask for 30 years and then hand picked by WOW staff at Glasgow Airport, to be bottled and sold exclusively to World of Whiskies @ World Duty Free (Travel Retail). After 30 years of silently maturing this cask only yielded 162 bottles so that is about 15 bottles per WOW outlet if split evenly.

Nose: It's a Balblair alright. Mango, Grapefruit, Pineapple and Papaya riding that tropical wave I know so well. Unlike younger balblairs which are full of fresh estery youthfulness, the fruits in here are deeper and richer, and reduced down into a thick syrupy sauce. Syrupy sweet Pineapple Cubes and Cola Cubes from the sweet shop. The extra time in the wood has paid off with all those lovely notes coming from the oak with a big hit of warm spiced, iced gingerbread loaf. A touch of banana bread in there as well. Loads of sweet toffee, caramel and chocolate like Toffee Poppet sweets (formerly Toffets).

Palate: Chewing on that gingerbread fresh out the oven. Warming, honeyed, spiced. Very rich and the fruits are rich, ripened and reduced again. The tangy sweet zing from the Cola Cubes. Melting caramel and chocolate, with a strong but balanced oak coming in.

Finish: Long with the rich mature oak character, toffee and spices.

Comments: What a lovely old Balblair. This spirit has plenty of mature, rich character but stays with a youthful and fiery friend on the journey. If you love Balblair you shouldn't need to be convinced.