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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Two Distinctly Different Drams - in Uncertain Times.

What stranges time we live in. It is almost impossible to hide from the fact that here in England, we are sliding towards all-out war on the streets of our major cities. As London recovers from the rash of mindless, opportunist, idiot rioters, you have to question just what drives the younger elements to commit such crimes. Boredom? A sheep-like mentality? Perhaps a reaction to the endless advertising of things that people just can't afford, a counterpoint to the fact that we are in real danger of creating a society of children who value material things above everything else.

But despite the madness of the last couple of days, we turn our attention once again to what drives us- great whisky. To unwind with a great new dram, knowing your family is safe, feels like a hell of a good thing.

A few days ago, a couple of new drams from Speciality Drinks came through the letterbox. Well, actually they were so well packaged, the postman had to knock on the door...

Can you spot the drams?

Anyway, after recovering one, which accidentally fell into the kitchen bin, I quickly realised that this brace of drams was a bit special. A 19 year old Rosebank from 1991 and a favourite of ours from old, just a little bit wiser - Speciality Drinks' Port Askaig also at 19 years old.

The door is locked, Mrs Caskstrength is on the sofa and the rattle of the catflap, signifies that my faithful companion, Bobby is back, satisfied with his evening patrol.

Speciality Drinks - Rosebank - 1991 - 19 years old - 46%

Nose: Freshly cut wet grass, lemon balm, sherbet lemons, some slightly spirity menthol and a waft of some floral perfume/powderpuff notes.

Palate: Stewed apple and melted butter, some light sweet vanilla notes and a drying oakiness.

Finish: A lingering perfumed note vies for your attention whilst the vanilla notes get creamier.

Overall: Nice, light and summery. A welcome lift for a London night, mired in doom and gloom. Perhaps not as vibrant as some of the younger expressions, but very enjoyable.

And now for something completely different. Port Askaig is an undisclosed Islay distillery, although we have long since suspected it to be a Caol Ila. The previously released 17yo backdropped a superb Feis Ile a couple of years ago for us and whilst I was over in Islay recently, I thought it would be good to relive this excellent dram at the newly-owned Duffie's bar in Bowmore.

Stocks of the 17yo have pretty much gone now and I have high hopes from this, which is 2 years older and perhaps wiser. Whilst the backdrop of Penge is very different from Islay, Will this new release transport me back to such a magical and tranquil place.

Awaiting final image... so here's the 17 again...

Speciality Drinks - Port Askaig - 19 years old - 45.8%

Nose: Gentle, restrained peat, some medicinal carbolic notes, vanilla cream, banana milkshake and malty oakcakes covered in melted toffee. Not a million miles from Caol Ila Moch.

Palate: Classic Askaig grit on the palate, backed with digestive biscuits, milky sweetened coffee, sweet peat, more of the banana milkshake and some medicinal, notes. Lovely and oh, so drinkable.

Finish: Sweet cereals and sweet peat.

Overall: Well, it's adios to the 17 year old and whilst it's a shame to see it discontinued, this is a more than welcome substitute.

No doubt, you'll probably get a chance to try this cracker and others at the Whisky Show, which this year showcases its flavoursome wares from Vinopolis on the 7th & 8th October. The masterclasses, including an epic flight of sherried Manager's Dram whiskies, led by the irrepressible Colin Dunn look like winners to us, to if you want tickets of more information, visit:

Sleep well, England. And keep up your spirits.