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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A Rumble In Penge

The Ridley nursery barely had room for a cot

Surprisingly, my first week of self-imposed paternity leave has been incredibly easy going (famous last words)  Little Lois Ridley, now seven days old has been sleeping and feeding well (with the occasional grizzle) and in-between naps, I have found the time to not only re-catalogue my whiskies, but to also compose a soothing baby sound track in the style of the great early 60's electro pioneer and wizard musician, Raymond Scott.  

Analogue soundscapes await baby Lois.  
Digging out my ancient Korg MS10 analogue synth, a Watkins Copicat tape echo and other antique sonic gizmos, I have been trying to tap into a soundscape that transfixes a baby, stimulating their ears, yet soothing them at the same time.

Scott released several masterpiece long players (which you can still get hold of) including a suite of recordings in 1964 designed to help parents bring their new babies into the world. 'Soothing Sounds For Baby' was released in collaboration with the Gesell Institute of Human Development and you can check the various recordings out here:  and here.

So far, my own project has had some success, albeit making the composer fall asleep several times at the keyboard, which I take to mean the principles also apply to big babies, like my good self.

If you happen to be passing Caskstrength Towers any time soon and hear some outer-worldly sounds, rumbles and sophoric drones emanating from the nursery, you'll know i'm at work, or have just hit the keyboard randomly in a heavy slumber.

Speaking of rumblings, several kinds have reached us at Caskstrength this week.  Firstly the news that Bruichladdich looks to be up for sale and that Cognac giants Remy Martin are in advanced discussions with the distillery owners.  Whether this means more cognac finishes is anyone's guess, but it demonstrates the significant position the Islay distillery are in after ten years of hard work building up their somewhat formidable reputation.

Secondly a brand new 'Rumble' has just hit our desks.  Balcones distillery, the Texas-based craft operation lovingly run by Chip Tate are becoming well known for their experiments in flavour, casting the net wide when it comes to new ways to produce innovative spirit.  This version of Rumble follows on from the one we were first bowled over by at Whisky Live London back in March.

For those of you who aren't familiar with this genre defying spirit, have a glance at our review here.  Rumble falls between the categories entirely -  in fact, as Chip likes to call it - the 'Spirit of Texas' is not a whisky (as it contains no cereal and is made predominantly from sugar) but is not technically a rum either, as its other key ingredients are wildflower honey and Mission figs. So it's somewhere in-between mead, brandy, rum and whisky -  the latter comparison coming from the already formidable woody complexity it has gained, despite its tender age.

This new batch of Rumble will hopefully be available in the UK shortly through a well-known retailer and well worth seeking out if you fancy a step in the direction of the deep south... it's not quite The Dukes Of Hazzard but it sure do taste purdy...

Balcones -  Rumble -  Cask Reserve -  Batch RCR12-1 - 58.1%      

Nose: Beguiling stuff. At first some sweet brown sugar, followed by chopped hazelnuts, vanilla pipe tobacco, dried coconut, milky coffee and chocolate covered dairy fudge.  It could so easily be a well aged whisky, but just has something different up its sleeve. Make no mistake, this is hot and needs a little dash of water to calm it down, but when you do, furniture polish, dried figs, rich Oloroso sherry, brittle caramel and something slightly mossy hit the nose to great effect.  

Palate: Very sweet at first- think over-muscovado sugared espresso and you're close.  With time on the palate, the coffee notes increase, alongside some brandy/Armagnac dryness, more vanilla and an anise/clove backdrop.  Again, the addition of water really broadens the palate, but make no mistake, this is powerful stuff. 

Finish:  The sweetness gives way to lingering coffee, with woody spices and dark honey.

Overall:  I really don't know where to place Rumble.  It performs so well as neither a rum, whisky or brandy, yet has the desirable qualities of all of these in abundance.  It is a beast of a drink and will catch a few people out on the palate, but it has opened up a wealth of possibilities in the cocktail world and as a sensational sipper.  Chip, hats off again for your latest rumblings....