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Friday, 13 April 2012

The Dram That Got Away

As I write this, i'm trying to vaguely remember a phrase that goes something along the lines of 'when all around you is falling apart, try to keep your head intact' or something like that. The reason for this is that Caskstrength Towers is crumbling and in need of some serious repairs.

I'm squeezed into a tiny corner of the house, stuff piled up around me, as builders and decorators renovate the spare bedrooms. Dust, sweat and the aroma of rolling tobacco has permeated everything. My faithful companion, Bobby is constantly on edge, his usual viewing platform of the top stair, covered in filthy dust sheets. Every day, for the last 10 days, the strains of Adele's Someone Like You blast down to me - only it's not Adele, it's a trio of gentlemen with south London accents- (the similarities are truly striking.)

Having builders in your house is like a war of attrition. Your routine is altered - just a little bit at a time, but after 10 days, you realise that you can no longer function in the same way. The house seems to be choking me.

One of my main concerns is that all of my whiskies, (a considerable number of bottles) stored neatly in a spare room are now precariously placed downstairs, in easy kicking distance of a steel toe capped boot or worse. A new walk-in cabinet is being built to house them and i'm waiting for the builder to give me the good news that I can return them upstairs to safety. Only there's a problem with the shelves not being high enough to house the Lagavulin bottles, so they've had to be extended.

Still there is a positive note to this story. On moving a big box of samples I unexpectedly came across something of beauty, that might just go down as one of my favourite whiskies of all time.

Behind the box lay a tiny bottle of Glen Garioch from 1971, bottled by The Whisky Exchange. It must have somehow escaped and rested untouched, unnoticed until now. So as the sound of a Black & Decker power drill and the trio of Adeles soundtrack the morning- it is now (7.30am) I am sat in a dressing gown, nosing glass in hand pouring a little bit of calm. Is this bad? Probably, but after 10 days, my sense of timing might have gone a little bit astray...

Glen Garioch - 1971 - Bottled for The Whisky Exchange - 43.9%

Nose: I've found a corner where the dust hasn't yet settled so can properly do this justice. First up are some wonderful creamy oak notes, diving straight into fresh strawberries and cream, key lime pie, a dash of white pepper, perhaps the merest hint of peat and some desiccated coconut. The balance is staggering - it is light, yet complex, yet slightly smoky.

Palate: Creamy and mouth coating, then into an array of wonderful flavours: More of the strawberries and cream, mango, a wash of 70's peat (not young and abrasive, just smooth and silky) a dusting of icing sugar, vanilla custard, broken gingersnap biscuits - this whisky has it all - and then some. Magnificent.

Finish: Long lingering notes of oak, some lemon zest and a little sweet tobacco and Earl Grey tea round out a superb experience in the mouth.

Overall: As much as I'm probably a little unhinged today, due to my building predicament, this whisky has fixed everything. It is calming, complex, smooth, charming and unbelievably drinkable. If only it could wield a set of tools, I would have fired the builders by now. Here's hoping The Whisky Exchange have some left...