Translate Caskstrength!

Wednesday 14 October 2009

All Hail The Whale

Five years. Is it a long time, or not? A lot can happen in five years.

This bunny took 5 years to hand knit (see pic above).

Facebook was started 5 years ago and has changed the face of modern communication.

"5 Years Time" is the title of the excellent single from my act-of-the-year for last year, the fantastic Noah and the Whale, a band I was turned on to in my time doing A&R for Universal (Island Records).

So five years can be a pretty significant time, be it in digital, physical or musical form.
Last night we had the pleasure of trying the 2009 Special Releases from the Diageo stable and we're staggering our notes across 3 days, as their was just so much to digest. Having done Pittyvaich, Benrinnes and Mannochmore yesterday, it is the turn of Brora and the two Taliskers (25 and 30) to get their say today! Let's kick off with the twins from Skye. Only five years difference; but what will the effect of those extra five years be?

Talisker – 25 Year Old – 5,862 (individually numbered) – 54.8% Vol – 70 cl from refill American Oak and European Oak casks.

Nose: Plenty of licorice, wicker furniture from the late 1970's (!), a hint of kiwi juice and of course all the Tally hallmarks of salt and seaweed.

Palate: Phew! This is a lively dram. White pepper and spices fly around the mouth with plenty of energy. There is a hit of sweetness too and then the salt.

Finish: Heavy on the spirit, esp for something at 54.8
%. I would have expected the finish to be more subtle, but it goes on. And on! More of the palate on the finish.

Overall: Not subtle at all. Needed water which calmed it a bit but not a lot. A fiery dram, but very yummy.

Talisker – 30 Year Old – 3,000 (individually numbered) – 53.1% Vol – 70 cl from refill American Oak and European Oak casks.

Nose / Palate / Finish: If the 25 was like walking along a rain lashed cliff on Skye in November, then this is the same but instead of being on the cliff in your North Face coat, you're curled up in a stone cottage, rain lashing at the windows and a fire crackling away, toasting your feet. Everythin
g the 25 was, but more refined. More delicate. More rounded. Warmth, not fire! Assertive, not aggressive. Beautifully balanced.

Overall: There is a price difference between these two Tallys (RRP for the 25 is £150 and for the 30 is £215), but that's like saying there is a price difference between a Holiday Inn and a Hotel Du Vin. They both do a very good, professional job. But if you can stay in the Hotel Du Vin, then do it. You really won't be disa
pointed. Those extra five years makes all the difference.

After the Taliskers, we had a nip of the Brora. A 30 Year Old matured in refill American Oak casks. Brora's are usually a solid dram and especially when they have had a good long period to mature. Like Port Ellen , Brora was shut in 1983 so all stocks are now going to have some degree of age to them. Brora is the now departed sister distillery to Clynelish and this bottle has the shortest run of all the Special Releases 2009, coming in 42 bottles short of the Talisker 30 Year Old and with an RRP of £230.

Brora – 30 Year Old – 2,958 (individually numbered) – 53.2% Vol – 70 cl from refill American Oak.

Nose: Real Lemonade, coffee, whisps of smoke and salt.

Palate: Loads of lemon and lime in oak! Crispy Seaweed. A drop of water opens up the citrus notes and takes the edge off to let the age and the wood in, rounding this off beautifully.

Finish: Very nutty with a touch of red chillie and salt.

Overall: Pleasant, well aged and kept Brora with all the good characteristics of a Coastal malt. If you like aged Springbank, you'll like this.

That concludes Lot 2. Tomorrow: PORT ELLEN, CAOL ILA and LAGAVULIN. Not that we're excited or anything...