Translate Caskstrength!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Is that a Linkwood in your pocket...?

New Year resolutions: they can be both frustrating and fascinating at the same time. They can provide an opportunity for a clean slate, a fresh start, a new dawn.

Maybe you have the desire to lose weight. You’ve adjusted your diet accordingly and the fridge is full of fresh veg, salad and lean meats. After some online research, you’ve joined a local gym. Two hours in the Nike store and you’ve walked out with a pair of trainers seemingly made from a kitchen sponge for the sole with an upper consisting of less made-made material than you’d see Jody Marsh wear on a night out. And you’ve paid a ton for the pleasure of running on some ‘air’, a substance which is traditionally free.

Six months later and the shoes are being worn to do the gardening, the gym silently steals fifty quid a month from your bank account by direct debit and your waistline has grown by exactly the same percentage as inflation, an irony not lost on you when looking into a new pair of jeans which actually the fit the ‘new you’.

A friend of mine has a good rule. She doesn’t make New Year resolutions, but gives each year a title, a la Chinese New Year. For example, this year could be your 'Year Of The Fish', in which you vow to eat more seafood. Or 'Year Of The Plane', where you make it an aim to travel more. This year is going to be my ‘Year Of Discovery’.

The aim for 2012 is for me to try new flavours and experiences which previously have passed me by. This could be as simple as going around The National Portrait Gallery (somewhere I walk past on an almost daily basis but, criminally, have never been in) through to trying new foods that I have never had before (‘white pudding’, anyone?). One area that this allows for in whisky is, of course, the ongoing journey of tasting whiskies from new distilleries, be they Scottish, Irish, American, Japanese or New World.

The first of this year’s palate-expanders is Linkwood, a dram I am not familiar with at all. Owned by Diageo, Linkwood gets a brief outing (as do all 28 Diageo malts) as a 12 Years Old Flora & Fauna bottling (around £40 here) and then a smattering of unusual releases such as a slot in the Managers’ Choice releases with a 1996 offering, some Rare Malts bottlings and some nifty little 50cl offering in 2008 finished in rum, red wine and port casks. All very interesting, but it seems the easiest way to track down some Linkwood is through independent bottlers, and where else should one turn than to the SMWS:

39.82 (Linkwood) – Suede Shoes Walking Through Clover – 13 Years Old – 60.0%

Nose: A sweet nose which gives wisps of hot buttered crumpets, pancakes dusted with sugar and lemon juice, honey and heather. With water, the heather becomes much more pronounced, as do white flowers and a touch of Champaign.

Palate: Delicate with plenty of floral notes, copper and vanilla custard, however it is a little too ‘hot’ without water. With water: The sweetness is balanced out with a pleasant salty undertone. Vanilla cream filled buns dusted with cinnamon and enhanced copper tones shine through.

Finish: Copper tones and more heather and honey without water. With water: the salt comes to the fore in the finish, disappearing in to lemon cheesecake with a tart, sweet lemon sauce.

Overall: A very nice dram which demands more than a drop of water to open it up. Not quite enough to muscle its way in to my top ten distilleries yet, but certainly worth the introduction. Maybe we’ll go on a few more ‘dates’ and see if we really click. Either way, I think I’ve made a new friend with whom I look forward to spending more time.

A good start to the whisky end of my 'Year Of Discovery'. The question is, how brave will I be when it comes to food, roller-coasters and clothes... eek.