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Saturday 19 January 2008

Off to a corker

Right, let's get this blog out of the blocks and off to a flying start.

Highland Park OB 12 yo Single Cask - 1995 - 60.6% - Cask No. 1555 (Oloroso Cask)

Yesterday we were lucky enough to come across a couple of bottles of the Oddbins Highland Park Single Cask 1995. This bottling is just amazing. An OB in a wonderful printed bottle (embossed on the reverse with the highland park details) it seems to come in their "old style" bottles which I like more than their new "comfortable behind a bar" bourbon bottle look. But they've got to sell drams, I guess... It was quite a journey yesterday after Neil spotted a bottle in an Oddbins in South London ("Big uppa yourself da Sauf Side Massive" as they say in these parts!) and put the alarm out to me that this mythical bottling was still in the shops and indeed was well prices (under £40). No tasting notes just yet, but keep your eyes peeled for them in the near future. The little tab around the neck of the bottle reads:

"Cask number 1555 was filled on the 25th July 1995 and after just over 12 years maturing on Orkney, this classic sherry cask, previously seasoned with Oloroso sherry has matured beautifully. Providing a wonderful dark natural coloured cask strength single malt bursting with flavour and character.

Max McFarlane, Whisky Maker,describes this single cask bottling as follows:

Colour: Crisp Golden Amber

Nose: Powerful spicy smoke, delivered with the 60.6% alc strength. Classic aromas of sherry oak sweetness and sweet toffee fudge linger long on the nose.

Palate: Rich woodspice, raisins and honey give way to sweet smoke which slowly fades to subtly toasted spices.

Finish: Lingering long smoke and sweet spices."

There we go! Can't wait to crack into a bottle and see if it lives up to that!

Ardbeg 1977 - OB - 46%

This is a bottling that I aquired about 9 months ago and decided to open last week. Neil already had a bottle which he aquired about 12 months ago, and I liked it so much I had to seek out a bottle myself and eventually came across one for a reasonable price on the 'net, which included me trading another bottle of something, plus some cash to boot! Opening it was a difficult thing to do, as the price of these bad boys seems to be going up by the month. You'd be lucky now to get change out of £200 for a bottle, but the stuff is so damn good one can see why this expression of Ardbeg is so sought-after. Here are my tasting note, neil may edit later with his thoughts:

Nose: Sweet, Lemon Curd. A touch of toffee and then the orange hits big time, followed by a mellowness of vanilla.

Taste / Palate: Smoke hits very delicate at the start before the big buttery nature takes over (it is all very smooth). A hint of Dark Chocco / Choc Orange which...

Finish:... really hits home on the finish. The dark choc smooth bitterness mixed with everso delicate smoke (like that first whiff of open fire after the summer) and a real sense of fruit right at the death. A long finish. Great stuff.

I don't like giving whisky marks, so I won't!

Serendipity - 12 yo blend of "very old Ardbeg" and 12 yo Glen Moray - 40%

Ah, the good old 'Dippy. A firm fav in these parts. Neil and I (and Jonny who I am sure will appear later on this blog) all have a few of these stashed away as it is just too good to miss out on. A totally different type of beast from many single malts (as it is not a single malt) or blend (despite being a blend). I won't bore you with the story of how it came to be, you can go and look that up elsewhere, but if it was the happy accident they claim then this really is the drink of God. If not, then shout loud and proud about the quality of blending because (JW Gold Cent Edition aside) this is right up there with the best of the best in the world of Blended Whisky. Right, time for some tasting notes:

Nose: Loads going on but on a very low level. Straight away you are hit with a sweet honey tone that is followed by vanilla and then that artifical bananna that you get in milkshakes (i love that smell). It's all topped off with the smell of icing on christmas cake. Lovely.

Palate: very delicate again, with a pineapple juice quality of the fruit in the flavour. More christmas cake icing and the bananna. Very delicate all the way through.

Finish: this is where it kicks in, with the ardbeg spices leaving a brilliantly delicate fire behind. I once bbq'ed a bananna (as the embers are dying just stick it on the grill and leave it for 5 mins, turning once). You cut it open and the goo steams out from inside. Add a touch of cinnamon and some homemade vanilla icecream and it is awesome. And this whisky is that, in liquid form. Whoop!

Thus concludes our first set of tasting notes! To come: Aaran Founders Reserve, a Caol Ila BBR bottling, and others...

- Joel

Saturday 5 January 2008


Hello. This is the first post on our new whisky blog, Cask Strength. So, who are "we"? Well, this is the blog for me (Joel) and my mate (Neil) to keep an online record of our whisky activity (just in time for the build up to Feis Ile!) which has really steped up over the last 12 months. From trying standard bottles such as Ardbeg 10 and Talisker 18, to some really odd stuff (more on that later), first and foremost this site will act as a reference for us to relive some awesome moments in whisky.

Welcome to our blog. We hope you enjoy it!

Joel (and Neil, probably).

Tuesday 1 January 2008

Tasting Notes

Nose: Vanilla, icing sugar, sliced apples, coconut, french polish, lemon meringue pie.

Palate: Vanilla, spiced cooking apples, sweet patisserie cream, coconut milk

Finish: Short, sweet with notes of fruit salad.