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Saturday, 6 March 2010

Who the f*** is Paul Terry?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month or so, you won’t have failed to notice (ex) England Football captain John Terry getting himself into a wee spot of bother with both his young lady and the England Football manager, Lou Reed Fabio Capello. A fierce disciplinarian and family man, Capello was not best pleased at JT’s indiscretions and has since stripped Terry of the England captaincy.

But what of Paul Terry?

“Who?” I hear you cry!

Yes, Paul Terry. Paul is the older brother of England and Chelsea defender John Terry and has had a pretty decent career in the lower reaches of the football pyramid. Paul started out playing for Dagenham & Redbridge, helping them to win the Isthmian Premier League (a proper non-league division!), starting a run which 8 years later would see Dagenham & Redbridge become a full-fledged Football League club. His performance that season earned Paul a call up to the English National Game XI (often known as the England “C” Team), in 2003. Paul then moved on to play for League Two side Yeovil making 135 appearances over 4 years and on from there up a division to Leyton Orient in League One. Paul currently plies his trade back in the non-league, with Rushden & Diamonds FC.

Put simply, Paul has turned in an excellent career as a professional footballer working at a level which befits his talent, earning a living doing something he enjoys and winning trophies along the way. If Paul were to shag one of his team mates missus’, it would barely make the local parish newsletter, let alone the front pages of the national redtops. But he’s still bloody good at football. For his level.

Younger brother John on the other hand, needs no introduction. A wealthy Premier League footballer, if he were to be sold could easily become one of the most expensive footballers in world football, if not the most expensive defender of all time. Same family, different person.

The second batch of Managers’ Choices has hit our doormat here at HQ. We had the privilege of trying some of these a few months ago at an event in Soho and the full list of the releases in this batch can be found here, crowed off with a wonderful Talisker. This post however will provide an opportunity to taste again some of the drams we posted notes on there, but also compare and contrast with their often older, certainly cheaper, standard releases; the Paul Terry of the family if you will.

Let’s kick off firstly with the Dalwhinnie. We have previously posted notes on the Managers’ Choice here, but let’s take another look at this one now we have time in our own home to reflect. The notes below are taken from our previous post with additional thoughts in italics.

Dalwhinnie Managers’ Choice: 17 Year Old - 270 bottles Cask: 431 - Refill American Oak Filled: 05/02/92 Bottled: 10/03/09 - 51% Vol

Nose: Vanilla, candlewax, (similar to a Clynelish) a hint of candyfloss and some light lavender notes. With time, the vanilla really grows. Some blackcurrant and mocca / hot chocolate tones appear. It’s a really odd nose. At times complex, at other times really simplistic. It seems to vary a great deal and is difficult to get consistency on, but when it hit, you get some really lovely notes.

Palate: A hint of leather, malt and cereal flavours, with a slight lemon sharpness, leading into some very nice soft and fruity bourbon notes. With water: it needs a good old “chew” once water is added and the overall effect is an enhancement of the cereal and malt tones. I wish there was as much blackcurrant on the palate as there is in the nose and the finish.

Finish: Lightweight and fairly short. Lemon meringue lingers and then the fruity blackcurrants take over

Overall: Not a million miles from the classic Dalwhinnie 15yo, but with a slightly lighter touch. Roll on summertime. Well, we are about to find out if our statement is true, as I uncork the Dalwhinnie 15! This is very much a summer whisky and the nose is lovely, when I caught it and the finish of blackcurrant is delicious. Just needs a bigger kick on the palate. Refill American Oak is usually my wood of choice, but I would love to try a more sherried, expressive single cask of this.

Dalwhinnie 15 Year Old - 43% Vol – 70cl

Nose: This nose really jumps out of the glass at you. It’s not often I would describe a nose as “dry”, but in this instance, it is! There are loads of spices in there: cumin, cinnamon, black pepper. But also a hint of fruit backing it up; those blackcurrants again! They really shine through with some time in the glass.

Palate: No watering down, so we’ll be going in straight at 43%... It starts of quite fresh on the tongue, but as you roll it around you find a big hit of white pepper in the mid-palate and liquorice on the sides of the tongue, but that bloomin’ blackcurrant again! This time right at the front of the mouth as you swirl it around.

Finish: Lovely and warming. As the white-pepper-mid-palate dies away, the liquorice stays keeping the mouth warm while a proper real-ale-esq bitterness hits the back of the throat.

Overall: A great balance of spice and fruit. Kinda like a good cooking apple! I think we were right about the Managers’ Choice being a lighter version of the 15. If the Managers’ Choice is an example of a lighter single cask from Dalwhinnie, then I would certainly like to try the other side of the coin; a single cask that is a little more woody and full bodied.

Onward now to the Cragganmore. These two will be the 2nd and 3rd Cragganmore’s in week on following on from the review of the BBR bottling last week (I note that Serge on has reviewed the BBR bottling and the Managers’ Choice together, so nip over there for someone else’s take on these). We’ve previously reviewed the Cragganmore 12 Year Old here, but we’ll reprint with added notes if needed

Cragganmore – 12 YO – 40% Vol – 70cl

Nose: Pasteurised apple juice, hints of fudge and mint. Crisp Chardonnay, heather burning on a wood stove. Really lovely. Subtle, simple and delicious.

Palate: More apple juice, leading into sweet buttery muffins, covered in heather honey and brown sugar. The palate bears a striking connection with the nose, as more subtle wine notes come through as the spirit unwinds in your mouth. For a sub-£30 single malt, this is a total surprise. Brilliantly well rounded and expressive for its age.

Finish: Gentle, fruity and delicious, with hints of slightly smoky fudge turning up when you are least expecting it.

Overall: Cragganmore was the 3rd whisky I ever purchased in my pursuit of malt excellence, over 12 years ago. I’m pleased to say that there is a certain amount of resonance returning to this bottling. For the price, it sits very comfortably as a fine drinking whisky and will always be considered a Caskstrength house staple!!

Cragganmore Managers’ Choice - 12 Years Old - Filled: 02/05/97 Bottled: 14/5/09 - 564 bottles - Cask: 2398 - Bodega Sherry Cask – 59.7% vol

Nose: A very delicate sherry nose, certainly not overpowering at all. This adds some summer fruits to the usual delicate, white flower notes that the Craggy 12 standard bottling does so very well. It’s a similar beast, but with less of the Chardonnay and more hints of mint and even a touch of liniment oil. Slightly less expressive than the 12 Year Old, but with much more body- more “in-you-face” and less pansy-like! With water: a little smoke, biscuit notes come to the fore, and the cherry we got in the neat palate.

Palate: The alcohol level is high on this one so neat you get a big hit of warmth and then hidden under there, out pops some cherry and a good amount of wood (I’d swear this was American Oak if not the label). A very solid palate. With water: much more manageable and rounded- much, much more of the cask effect with spices of soft fruitcake and a touch of black pepper.

Finish: Lots of ginger and polo mints. With water: much smokier finish. Still long with lots of ginger.

Overall: A totally different beast to the 12 Year Old. Where the standard release is delicate and floral, the Managers’ Dram has much more more mid-tone in the palate, much more meat to it. It shows what a good sherry cask can do in 12 Years to a usually delicate whisky. It’s bulked it up: like sending the 12 Year Old to Army Camp for the summer.

Next up is the Dufftown. Neil has a bottle of The Singleton Of Dufftown (for any ladies reading, I'm very much the Singleton of London Town... - Joel) at home, so here are his notes on the two:

The Singleton Of Dufftown - 12 yo - 40% - 70cl

Nose: An initial note of polished surfaces (Mr Sheen) and an intriguing aroma of freshly cut Honey Dew melon. Cinnamon, apple and brown sugar then all combine to give a rich spicy fruity note. Some dried fruits, but certainly not as many as you'd imagine from a whisky matured predominantly in European Oak.

Palate: Sweet, with more of the sugar (demerera) with a little nuttiness and then a touch of clear honey. It is a very drinkable dram indeed. A hint of dried apricots as the palates dries and perhaps even a modicum of ground coffee.

Finish: More dried fruits and a resonance of the sweetness from the palate.

Overall: Not bad at all. This delivers a nice smooth richness to the mouth, which for a pretty budget whisky is very well received indeed. It isn't the most exciting whisky out there, but does its job. Rather like the older Mr Terry.

Dufftown Managers' Choice - 59.5%- Rejuvenated American Oak - Filled: May 1997 - 282 bottles

Nose: Very similar polish and melon notes, with a sickly sweet aroma and a spirity undertone. The strength has obviously given this whisky a sharper edge- lets hope it doesn't upset the (spiced) apple cart on the palate.

Palate: The spirit is hugely prominent, with a prickly sharp entry, but gives way to some sweet white chocolate flavour, a hint of country fudge, zesty sherbet and then some spicy cinnamon laced apples. There is definitely less of a sherry influence and the American oak has given the palate a deft, vanilla/buttery sweet note, not found in the Singleton.

Finish: The spices linger, but also a creaminess, with a peculiar parsley sauce note and some waxiness. Medium in length.

Overall: Well. It's definitely a drinkable dram, but doesn't have a great deal in common with its far cheaper and fruity cousin. At £200, it is one of the cheaper Managers' Choice bottlings, but would ultimately be a step too far for us to buy- there are just better drams out there in this price bracket.

Finally, we must finish off with the one whisky which we don’t have a standard release to compare it to; Strathmill. Not a whisky we have had a chance to review before so it’s time to take a quick break, grab a hot cross bun and do some reading around this distillery.

FIVE MINS LATER: My research shows only one official bottling, a 12 year old, as part of Diageo’s Flora and Fauna series and not many indie bottlings either. That’ll be why we’ve not tried one before, then! So, let’s dig in to the Managers’ Choice:

Strathmill Managers’ Choice – 14 Years Old - Filled: 30/12/94 Bottled: 06/03/09 - 300 bottles - Cask: 5503 - New American Oak - 60.1% Vol

Nose: Yes! Special bottlings? This is what it should be all about. But let’s not get too excited, we’re only on the nose! Banana pancakes with syrup. Hot buttered crumpets. A hint of delicate wood smoke. With water: the butter really flies out of the glass backed by vanilla. This is again a great example of the wood-effect. American oak is always going to deliver butter and vanilla. How much more is New American Oak going to do that!

Palate: Humm... you wouldn’t have it down at +60% (only the heat gives it away) but it’s still strong in flavour. Swirl it around and you get a good deal of bitterness, pear juice and honey. With Water: the heat dies at a good rate to allow the vanilla to come and play. Everything else remains.

Finish: Very unusual. And very long! Earthy, with touches of cumin seeds and honeysuckle. With water: green apple sweets come out much more and the length is curtailed to long, from very long!

Overall: What an unusual whisky. It’s very delicious but most confusing, with a lot of very complex and unusual flavour profiles in the palate and especially the finish. Plenty of energy in this malt.

So, what of these Managers’ Choice bottlings? As usual, each one needs to be tasted on their merit. Each is an individual and can not be compared to the other. If you own a League Two football team, Paul Terry is the man for you. He knows the league, knows the game and understands the wage structure. If, however you happen to be a Russian Billionaire, then pack your team full of superstar, millionaire players. It doesn’t make you a better person. It merely makes you a different person.