What a difference a week makes. Whilst Joel was clearly toiling this week, grappling with some stupendous whisky beasts, I was trying to make sense of just what its like to have a holiday. A Curates Egg shall we say- one moment lying on the beach, falling asleep and burning one's legs to a crisp... the next, thinking about all the great whiskies I was missing out on back home, whilst necking high strength white rum. Let's just say that i'm not particularly one for sunning myself- in fact, whilst on the beach, I realised that I had only brogues to wear- with hindsight, a totally absurd choice of footwear.
Still I'm home now and back at the second day of The Whisky Show, which I was really looking forward to.
Joel had already primed me as to what to look out for, so for the first dram of the day, the quite frankly stunning Adelphi Bunnahabhain 41 year old bottling (think a wonderful mix of fresh and dried fruits, classic sherry dryness, but not a hint of bitterness) This is certainly on my purchase list and a whisky which will surely disappear quickly after the buzz it created around the show.
So a high benchmark had been set and I drifted off to The Whisky Exchange stand in search of further perfection. Fortunately the five bottlings on offer were at the top of their game. Just how the WE find casks like this is beyond us, but keep it up chaps! I settled on a 1981 Lochside as my highlight, as modelled here by Brian Fallon of the Gaslight Anthem band.
Lochside - 1981 - Whisky Exchange bottling - Oloroso Sherry Reserve - 57.5%
Nose: Notes of waxed mahogany, overripe bananas, tropical fruits (guava and passion fruit) and rich treacle toffee.
Palate: The fruit continues into an explosion of tropical notes. It's like i'm back in the Seychelles, trying to pick fresh mango and Jack fruit from the heavily laden trees, which line every road. Add to that a touch of brittle honey comb, humbugs and cinnamon spiced notes. Superb in every way, with no holes at all.
Finish: The fruit lingers and the flavours develop beautifully, with all the resonance of a terrific old sherry cask.
Overall: Sukhinder and his team have yet again struck gold with this one. Another highlight from what's shaping up to be a premier whisky event.
After a spot of lunch (well, I was already gorged on a fine Penge Cafe Mixed Grill, so went straight for the Panacotta and toffee/Longmorn sauce) it felt right to try something a little lighter and younger. 2 whiskies sprang to mind- Glenlivet's Nadurra Triumph 1991 and the soon-to-be-released Kilchoman Winter Release. Once again, we were enticed into Connosr's Whisky Pod to review the Kilchoman (which was a pre-release caskstrength sample) and again they struck gold with full ripe fruity fresh bourbon notes, mixed with a fresh warming smokiness. With a refreshed palate (and a big slug of water) it was onto the Nadurra, which we have reviewed previously. The Triumph exclusively uses the the strain of barley taking the same name and gives another dimension of fresh fruitiness, with an additional couple of years of maturation in bourbon oak.
Glenlivet Nadurra - Triumph - 1991 distillation- Batch 0310B - bottled 3/10 - 48%
Nose: Hot buttered crumpet, Hubba Bubba bubble gum, fresh bourbon'esque fruits, lemon zest and vanilla notes. Vibrant, exciting and totally irresistible.
Palate: Rich Tea biscuit maltiness, clear apple juice, home made apple pie, with cinnamon spice and a distinct white sugar sweetness.
Finish: Further notes of red apple and sweet vanilla creme brulee linger and resonate as the palate dries.
Overall: Well worth seeking out if you are already a fan of the original Nadurra. A big feather in Glenlivet's cap for bottling this.
Our good friend Andy was also at the show, seemingly working hard on becoming the new face of Johnnie Walker Blue Label as well as Angus, now writing an entertaining blog, as ever on hand with a bag of goodies, including this very old Signatory Longmorn (waxy, simple and hugely fruity, showing no signs of old age, just the hallmarks of how great the distillery was back in the mid 60's) Also, major props to Sam 'Dr Whisky' Simmons for fighting back the jetlag and diving headlong into the lions den of great whisky. We salute you sir and welcome back to the UK.
Final stop was at the Berry Bros stand, with Doug and Rocky propping up their burgeoning bar with a number of treats. Fresh from being awarded Whisky Magazine's Independent Bottler of the Year award, they had the family silver out on display, including this highly polished gem:
Berrys' Own Selection - Invergordon Single Grain Bottling - 1971 - bottled 2010 - 47%
Nose: Bourbon notes to the max, with candied fruit, bubble gum, soft toffee and a hint of licorice spice.
Palate: Sweet Honeycomb, very floral light fruit notes (like a freshly prepared fruit salad with kiwi fruit, strawberries, mango and banana) more bourbon sweet/spice and fresh cream.
Finish: The cream dies away into a lengthy and very juicy finish.
Overall: Berry Bros have produced some sterling grain bottlings over the past couple of years and this one is right up there again. A distinct highlight in their current portfolio, which will no doubt disappear soon.
With a final dram of the specially released Whisky Show Port Ellen on the way out (think classic sherried PE, with that hint of soft smoke winding around some fruity dryness and Devon Creamery fudge) our palates were truly dazzled by what was on offer. So far, 2 out of 2 for The Whisky Show. Last year proved that despite a high ticket price, whisky enthusiasts out there are prepared to pay for quality and this year has built on those foundations.
Expect this show to be back next year, bigger than ever with another huge tranche of the finest whiskies for you to feast yourselves on. Who needs holidays eh.....