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Sunday, 21 August 2011

The Call Of Nature

On Friday, we decided to move the Caskstrength office from its usual residence, surrounded by dusty bottles, into the fresh air of Crystal Palace Park. Sure, the broadband speed isn't quite up to much, relying on leaf power as opposed to fibre optics. However, they have real dinosaurs, (as above) an ice cream van and a place to chill whiskies in the form of a nice clear boating lake. And, as an additional bonus, A slightly swarthy-looking man occasionally pops by, offering freshly prepared platters of Paella. Is there a point where too much Paella becomes dangerous?

Whom ever came up with the phrase 'Hot Desking' clearly hasn't left the confines of his/her comfortably serviced, yet blindingly bland office block, for fear of encountering nature. Imagine- this could be you...

Or this, should you so desire.

This outdoor 'Park Desking' seemed the perfect environment for trying a new batch of blends, which we suspect were designed for the express purpose of outdoor drinking.

Wemyss are fast developing into a very progressive and forward thinking whisky company- and their newest batch of blended malts, The Hive, Spice King and Peat Chimney, all aged at 12yo really nail the point. There's a simplicity at the very heart of these whiskies, each one doing exactly what is suggested on the label.

So, with a little flask of chilled mineral water, some ice and a gob full of Paella, we set about doing an experimental day of mundane office-based chores - tax returns, some statistical analysis and the most evil of all office drudgery - the powerpoint presentation. Would these whiskies, coupled with our canopy of fresh air make them more palatable?

Wemyss - Blended Malt - The Hive - 12yo - 40%

Nose: Light, soft fruit compote notes, some honeyed sweetness, tinned pears and vanilla.

Palate: A surprising amount of smokiness hits the palate on the first mouthful, coupled with homemade apple pie, sweet vanilla ice cream and chopped almonds. Refreshing and very easy drinking. As a long drink, the subtleties of the blend come through, working nicely in a Mizuwari.

Finish: Light, refreshing and fruity.

Overall: A surprising mix of soft fruit and thick rich smoke on the palate. Expertly put together working either on its own, with a couple blocks of ice or as a longer drink.
The tax return is ripped through in no time.

Office Chores: 0
Wemyss Whisky: 1

Next up: Spice King 12yo, apparently uses a Highland malt as its signature spicy backbone... Let's see how it works in our outdoor challenge.

Wemyss - Blended Malt - Spice King - 12yo - 40%

Nose: Dry, woody spice notes (cinnamon, cedar and bleck pepper) with some licorice, a hint of menthol and some burnt bonfire aromas. With a little time in the glass, some cooked banana notes develop nicely.

Palate: Very spicy and dry on the first sip, cinnamon and clove, mixed with Bramley apples, burnt caramel (verging on the bitter type) leading into a sweet, vanilla custard note and hints of pipe tobacco.

Finish: The vanilla notes linger, the more drying woody notes following through shortly afterwards.

Overall: Complex, well balanced and flowing with flavour, this dram is another step up on The Hive. It isn't particularly suited to a long drink, we preferred it as a easy sippin' short drink, so perhaps not something to pair with the task of finishing a powerpoint presentation outdoors- but a fine dram nonetheless.

Office Chores: 1
Wemyss Whisky: 1

The final job to be completed in our outdoor South London office was a personal bugbear of mine- filing away emails. By now, we're feeling a lot more relaxed, after a couple of drams and the surroundings of the park are beginning to completely envelop us. Time to crack the Peat Chimney out.

Wemyss - Blended Malt - Peat King - 12yo - 40%

Nose: Fresh cherries, a very light peat initially, followed by a distinct sootiness and wet tweed. With a bit of time in the glass, blackcurrant notes, banana milkshake and some hazelnut chocolate begin to emerge. The sootiness certainly weighs in, but this isn't a massive blast of peat- just propping up the back.

Palate: Ah. There's the peat. Swathes of the brown stuff, coupled with more silky, rich chocolate coat the palate. Once again, nutty notes begin to take over. It isn't by any means an abrasive style peat, more along the lines of the recent Port Askaig we reviewed.

Finish: Slight vegetive notes, with sweet root vegetable and pepper notes, with a very sweet note on the death.

Overall: With a big slug of superbly chilled still water, ice and a slice of lemon zest (which we had to pilfer from the Crystal Palace Park Cafe, the emails seemed to miraculously fly into their destination folders. I even managed to delete a huge backlog of mails that had been stubbornly been refusing to leave quietly.

Office Chores: 1
Weymss Whisky: 2

The evening is now drawing in- We're pleasantly tanned, relaxed and have done a day's office work, in one of London's most idyllic parks. What's more we've had 3 really good drams, 2 of which worked perfectly as refreshing summer sippers. Hopefully we'll have at least a few more weeks of sunshine throughout September, where we can enjoy more office days like this, coupled with some great outdoor whiskies. We're certainly committed to the cause...