Sunday, May 3, 2015

Ben Nevis 1996, 18 Year Old, Whiskybase

A Ben Nevis tonight, bottled by Menno and CJ at to mark the 60,000th whisky added to the Whiskybase database. The first Ben Nevis on this blog too, it seems.

Ben Nevis 1996, 18 Year Old, "60,000 Bottles on the Wall", 50.6%

Nose: Heavily oxidised wine, beef stock, BBQ sauce, hoisin, sweet soy. A hint of sweet citrussy stuff too, nestled in some really nice powdery oak tannins holding it together. After a little longer some plums emerge, together with walnuts.
Water lightens the nose, emphasising the citrus amid the still dominant oxidised wine, and turning the plums into something more like red berries perhaps.

Palate: Initially a burst of plummy sweetness which is soon joined by that lovely citrus element again. There's some spices - cinnamon and cloves - and some of the savoury stuff promised by the nose - beef stock and something funky and fungal - lurking at the back as well.
Water heightens the citrus - and brightens the palate in general with perhaps a hint of those red berries - at the expense, though, of some of those savoury notes.

Finish: Long  finish, heavy on salted licorice amongst the palate's sweeter notes. There's also notes reminiscent of top-end grappa that linger longest on the finish, (further) evidence, I suspect, of some top quality European oak.
Water does not drastically alter much, but it does perhaps extend some of those plum and red fruit notes further into the finish.

This is a very good drink. I really like it. Great nose and finish. Complex, delicious, interesting and just a bit different, this is a super choice as commemorative bottling by the guys at Whiskybase. Long gone now I think though.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Glentauchers 2010, 4 YO, C&S Dram Collection

If you're stupid brave enough to embark on one, you can learn a lot about yourself on a family road trip. Having just arrived back from a two week holiday that culminated in a final day, ten-and-a-half-hour drive home from the south coast of NSW - our five month old and three year old maniacs strapped in but by no means subdued - I can confirm, though, that a lot of it aint pretty.

I wont bore you (too much/any further) with any of the lessons I learned that day (and will endeavour to unlearn until the next time the lunatics hit the road in pursuit of a "holiday"), but suffice it to say that at one point I found myself muttering "I'm making time" in response to an unasked (but implicit in the white knuckles of my equally desperate better half) question as I planted my foot and overtook three semis at speed on a sharp turn (the stereo belting out not Voodoo Chile, but a continuous loop of tracks from the Brandenburg Concerto, Bringing It All Back Home, and The Very Best of Toots and the Maytals).

So, Glentauchers then. I know absolutely bugger all about Glentauchers. But this is the kind of dram that one might need after such a journey. A very young, strong, sherry butt whisky. I bought these samples from Whiskybase.

Glentauchers 2010, 4 Year Old, C&S Dram Collection, 66.6%

Nose: Caramel, chocolate and chilli at first. Surprisingly, there's not a massive alcohol burn in the nostrils, even as it prickles the lips. After a while, we get BBQ sauce, Thai yellow soy bean paste and white pepper.
The addition of water douses the caramel a little and introduces a bubblegum note as it becomes slightly floral and even a little herbal.

Palate: Here's that alcohol! Fiery heat, naturally, but it's actually not overwhelming at this stage. Milk chocolate, chilli - sort of reminiscent of the chilli pepper I find in Nikka From the Barrel. Gum leaf, menthol.
Water releases some more sweetness as it brings the caramel and chocolate to the fore.

Finish: Long, hot, prickly finish, with some chest burn. Chilli pepper, black pepper, chocolate. Water extends the caramel and chocolate here as well.

An interesting whisky. Brutally strong and young in many respects, but also kind of approachable and enjoyable in others. Not particularly complex. It sure can take a lot of water, so I guess there's plenty of bang for your buck.

I wonder if they decided to bottle it when they did - four months shy of its fifth birthday - so as to release it at 66.6%?