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Tuesday, 4 January 2011

B**locks to Smoothies, Fetch Me A Drink

Fruit is a wonderful thing indeed. Life-giving, wholesome and refreshing. But it's just so damn tedious.

Is it really possible to have a legitimate rant about fruit? Or am I an idiot??

Here's the story. I ended the year, rather enjoying myself a little too much. My cousin had a spectacular wedding on NYE and to see in the celebrations, I enjoyed several drams with my solid as-a-rock 88 year old Grandmother, Joyce. Soon it was 4am by a fireside and I was conducting and impromptu whisky tasting of whatever I had in my Christmas overnight bag- Highland Park, Arran, Ballantine's and a Rye whisky from what I can remember.

And then it was apparently 9am. We had to check out of our hotel and return home.
It suddenly hit me that:
A: I was diabolically hungover
B: Not a single piece of fruit had passed my lips since the 22nd of December.

I had the pallor of Withnail. Also, rather more scarily, my attention span had become so limited that even a programme containing James Corden seemed wildly intellectual.

Surely no way to start 2011. So I went and bought a massive trolley load of fruit. Pineapple, kumquats, kiwifruit, blueberries, mango, bananas, starfruit, Chinese pear, pomegranate, even a bloody papaya.

My intention was, for a week, to cleanse my body using the restorative power of the mother of all smoothies. An explosion of the exotic, bringing together flavours that probably didn't really belong together. In my haste to obtain smoothie perfection, I decided to throw in raw beetroot, milk thistle and some sliced up left over butternut squash. A small dollop of Manuka honey and my drink was ready for blitzing.
It tasted absolutely vile, but undeterred, I gulped down a pint. 10 minutes later, I could feel it working! Well, working its way through me. Not the start to a healthier life I was expecting...

You find me 5 days in and 2 x mega-tropical-smoothies a day have certainly had a profound effect on me. Do I feel remotely healthier? Hard to tell. Do I feel remotely lighter? I cannot tell a lie.

A valuable lesson learned them. Best stick to what you know. So tonight, I've decided to open one of the fruitiest bottles of whisky I think I own.

On my travels last year, I picked up a bottle of the Hakushu Bourbon Barrel from the distillery shop, which has yet to be commercially released in the UK, but which i'm told will hopefully be hitting these shores later on this year, no doubt spurred on from the success of the heavily peated cask bottling. I remember it oozing exotic fruity goodness, due to the influence of particularly fresh first-fill bourbon casks on this usually light and floral whisky. Hakushu was originally built in 1973 and then considerably updated in 1981, with a 'sister' distillery site to concentrate on single malt production. The distillery also boasts a bird sanctuary and to sit outdoors in the sun, sipping a fabulously fruity dram, surrounded by exotic sounds made me feel about as healthy and vibrant as humanly possible.

Will it then, have the same effect some 7 months later in a cold, but sunny Penge, surrounded by Starlings and the occasional plump wood pigeon....

Hakushu - Bourbon Barrel release - NAS - 48%

Nose: Well... you've guessed it. Masses upon masses of fresh tropical fruit. Bananas, mango, raspberries, fresh coconut, zesty lemon, slightly crushed blueberries, vanilla and white chocolate. Absolutely superb in every way. With water, the nose almost resembles fruit/wine gums (especially the orange ones)

Palate: Swathes of sweet creamy coconut milk, strawberries dusted in sherbet, some sharp lemon notes and very clean cereal notes. Similarities to The Glenlivet Nadurra Triumph, but this has a little bit more depth, a little bit more colour. A few drops of water serve to bring out a hint of spice (nutmeg)

Finish: The creaminess subsides, but the palate feels refreshed, with lingering notes of cereal and a return of the tropical fruit notes.

Overall: This is my first dram of 2011. Ok, not so if you take into account the numerous Highland Park 18yo's that seemed to keep disappearing on the morning of the 1st Jan, but you get my drift. My first whisky in 5 days and an absolutely cracking way to start the year proper.