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Friday 11 May 2012

A Royal Flush

Is it me, or has everyone jumped on the 'Jubilympics' bandwagon?

To be honest, with the Olympics, the Mayoral elections and the Queen's celebrations (god bless her)  living in London is a little like living in Disneyland.  It feels surreal to think that around the world, images of fairytale royal carriages, flotillas, Olympic torches and of course, Boris Johnson's ludicrous mop top are becoming potent symbols of the city in the 21st Century.  Practically every whisky company has released some sort of extortionate lovingly authentic, celebratory bottling - we reviewed the Johnnie Walker bottling, (which to be fair, was excellent) but frankly gave up counting the number of press releases from other companies showboating their liquid tributes to Her Majesty.

Anyway, not wanting to sound like i'm bandwagoneering or indeed, a miserable sod, but about eight months ago after failing to obtain any Olympic tickets whatsoever (who'd have thought that female weightlifting, tennis and basque pelota - (ok I made the last one up, but it did feature in the 1900 Olympics)) would prove to be so popular, I decided to put Caskstrength Towers up for rental for a two-week period and get the hell out of 'Dodge for the whole thing.  I now have a kindly family utilising the stunning location of the property, which is ideally located to access the Olympic site (being that it is South East London.)  Previously the family had booked into a 'family room' at a Travelodge on the outskirts of London and were being charged - get this - the best part of £2000 for the privilege of five days accommodation.  Feeling like a good Samaritan, I drastically undercut the budget hotel chain and everyone has ended up happy.

Or so I thought.  Realising that timing has never my strong point, Mrs Caskstrength duly reminded me after the deal was done that we will have a six-week old baby to look after - and now, no where to live for a while. Oops.  Timing Ridley, timing.

So while finding temporary digs for my family is clearly a priority, I can't help but thinking how pleased I am that we won't have to suffer sweltering conditions on London's creaking tube network, or endure the frustration of having to suddenly cough up £5 extra for a cup of coffee/tea/pint/apple/loaf of bread (insert every day item here) simply because we have Jacques Rogge's circus in town for a few weeks.

All this brings me to a whisky.  As said above, I don't much care for anything with Royal in its name at the moment (though Royal Leamington Spa is delightful) but I just received a sample of a rather unusual, but, I suppose, timely single malt release from Glenury Royal.  

For those who haven't come across the distillery before- it is a long since demolished site, which gained its royal approval from King William IV back in 1835.  Sadly, this patronage was never enough to stop the distillery suffering long periods of silence and in 1992, the axe finally fell on the distillery for good.

Diageo own the remaining stocks of whisky and it has matured into a barnstormer.   We first reviewed a fabulous 36 year old 1968 Glenury Royal back in 2009 and now, we have the pleasure of trying its 40 year old cousin, distilled in 1970 and filled into American oak refill casks.

Whilst Diageo's timing might be a little off with this royal release, next to the numerous others bearing the word royal,  it can't be any worse than mine...

Glenury Royal - 40 Year Old - 59.4% 
Nose: Initially, quite wine'y, with muted dry cask notes, some pasteurised apple juice, a little touch of woody spice and brown sugar.  With water, toffee apple notes, white chocolate and a hint of lemon sherbet round out a very pleasing balance of aromas.

Palate:  Wow, a terrific mouthfeel. Oily, fat and rich off the bat - and a little hot too.  Pepper and charcoal notes mix with fragrant fresh fruits, vanilla pods and tannic red wine. Big, bold and quite lively for its age. Water delivers a touch of Manuka honey, some honey charred ribs and green apple skins.  Very unusual flavours to find in one sip, but all the better for it.

Finish: Dry, with touches of spice, vanilla, a shake of pepper and the green apple skin.

Overall:  This sits perfectly alongside the 36 year old and perhaps has a little edge in the spice department.  It is certainly an elder statesman, but don't let that put you off.  It also comes in a damn sight cheaper than most of the other 'Royal' releases currently competing with each other -  the RRP is £525, which for a 40 year old whisky in this day and age, is not as butt-clenchingly terrifying as you'd have probably expected. 

Now, about that rental money....