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Thursday, 26 July 2012

The Wemyss Medal Table

Ok, so we're one day off now, weather looks great, Boris has just given a suitably rousing, but slightly xenophobic speech at Hyde Park and we got the first gob-smacking, hum-dinging mistake out the way with the Korean flag f**k up.  Having been down to see the Olympic torch relay hit my manor on Tuesday, to witness the reaction it got from the usually cynical South Londoners, I think the Olympics and Team GB are going to be a huge success.

But what to drink?

Is there a gold, silver and bronze line up of booze out there, to enjoy in times of triumph - and perhaps a commiseration dram to lift one's spirits when diving sensation Tom Daley comes 6th, due to suffering fatigue from all his pre-Olympics media commitments.

Of course it is completely subjective, but here at Caskstrength, we've worked out a little drinking game to mirror the actual games themselves.

In-keeping with the actual medals table, we'll be trying to consume beverages produced by the top ten medal winning nations during the next two weeks.  Now as you will see below, this immediately presents us with a continent-sized problem.  Looking at the huge success of China in the 2008 Beijing games, I think we'll mostly be drinking shochu for a fortnight.  However, we've come up with a strategy to combat this, due to the lack of  readily available domestic Chinese spirit in the Caskstrength office. As whisky is now hugely popular in China, and often consumed with green tea, we'll use this as our oriental caveat. 


 And South Korea?... Oh forget it. What a bloody stupid idea this was.

Joking aside, we will be bringing you whiskies from a few international nations over the Olympic period and, when we can be bothered, a fun, national-themed cocktail too.  Tonight though, we'll start with our first offering in the shape of a trio of excellent new releases from indie bottlers, Wemyss (or to apply the ludicrous-Olympics-theme-we've-mistakenly-saddled-ourselves- with, 'Team GB')

We last featured a batch of their interestingly titled releases last year and in that time, the world seems to have gone a little bit gaga for their flavoursome offerings.  This current batch is in keeping with the creative naming policy, working on dessert themes.  So seeing as my supper of tuna and lime fishcakes, steamed anya potatoes and peas has now gone down, I might as well prepare for afters...

Wemyss - Campbeltown -  Glen Scotia - 1991 - 'Strawberry Ganache' - 46%

Nose: Waxy notes, dark honey, malt extract, floor polish, honey comb and dark chocolate. It's very rich, malty and heavy- more Black Forest Gateau, than a ganache.  

Palate:  A lovely silky, oily mouthfeel, giving notes of woody sherry, cinnamon bark, black treacle and tobacco.  Given a bit of time, mint humbugs and rum-soaked raisins coat the whole of the mouth.  

Finish: Lengthy, malty, bittersweet and heavyweight. In fact, as heavy as an olympic medal, no doubt.  

Overall: If this were a medal, colour wise, it has to be bronze, but don't let the colour influence your decision- this is a top step of the podium whisky. Superb.


Wemyss -  Highland -  Clynelish - 1997 - 'Fresh Fruit Sorbet' - 46%  

Nose: Wow, now we've finished our ganache (or gateau) it's on to a palate cleansing fruit salad and what a bowl of loveliness we have here.  Papaya, blood orange, fresh strawberry, lavender, parma violet, fruit sherbet and freshly cut red apple.  There's also a waft of cedarwood if you dig deep enough.

Palate: Quite hot, but then an explosion of fruitiness on the tongue, tinned peaches and cream, mango, raspberries, more sherbet (citrus this time) and American original chewing gum (think Hubba Bubba or Bazooka Joes)

Finish: The fruit notes linger, with a touch of green apple peel, giving way to some lighter liquorice spiciness. Not hugely lengthy, but pleasant and very summery. 

Overall:  Unusually fruity for a Clynelish, lacking some of the waxy notes one would ordinarily expect, but making up for the absence with that stonking fruit bowl effect. Golden in colour, but perhaps running a close second or silver to the Glen Scotia. 

Our final contestant is the youngest of the trio, coming from the Lowlands.  Will it be Usain Bolt on a good day... or a 2012 Daley Thompson comeback?  Let's find out.

Wemyss - Lowland - Auchentoshan - 1998 -  'Lemon Sorbet' - 46%

Nose: Unusual at first, sappy pine freshness, pea shoots and clean linen all spring to attention off the bat.  Given time, some pencil shavings, followed by a touch of basil start to develop. It's hard to pin this one down and it is a little closed.  A drop of water brings out some more mineral-like notes and some cherry sherbet.

Palate: Sweet, with a touch of vanilla, more cherry sherbet but quite short in the character department, compared to the other two. A touch of pepper rounds out the experience.

Finish: Short, with notes of vanilla again.

Overall: The weakest of the three releases, this has moments where it tries to grab your attention, but is just a little too polite, compared to the might of the Glen Scotia and the fruity charm of the Clynelish.  

To stick with the Olympic theme (sorry) the Auchentoshan is probably a little way off being selected for Team GB, needing more time to find its feet, whereas the Glen Scotia is the already experienced  gold medal shoe-in Sir Chris Hoy and the Clynelish a confident, talented and very feminine Jessica Ennis

Promise i'll stop now.  Let's hope the lighting of the opening ceremony Olympic flame goes more smoothly than this shocking fire lighting attempt: