And we’re spent! After 30 days, it’s time to say goodbye to your hard-grown, furry friend. But before we get all emotional and nostalgic, let’s take time to reflect on an event that brought a suitable close to this year’s effort: the Movember tasting hosted by the Whisky Squad.
The tasting was held at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society in London and facilitated by The London Distillery Company’s commander-in-chief, Darren Rook. Darren talked us through the 6 whiskies – which were generously donated by the SMWS and Master of Malt – as we all tasted each dram blind and tried to guess age, cost, region and, even, distillery. Here’s a round-up of our tasting notes:
The first on the list was a 23 year old Glen Moray, distilled in 1988 and christened “Vinyl Revival” by the SMWS tasting panel. It came in at a cool 63.5% abv – quite high for a whisky of that age.
Nose: Very hot on the nose (!) with lots of nutty, malted notes. Honey roasted pistachios, tobacco, wax and some glue. After breathing, the whisky really opens up and comes into its own, releasing butter, marzipan, vanilla, Amaretto and pineapple aromas.
Taste: Again, plenty malty notes which coat the mouth. Porridge and tiramisu followed by figs.
Finish: A looong finish with hints of wheat and malt.
(Glen Moray’s big stills definitely gave this whisky notable alcohol elements, producing a dram full of hot and malty goodness. Glen Moray as it should be!)
Second in line was an “Attractive spirit in a cloak of oak”, a 28 year old Cameronbridge grain whisky, which was selected for bottling by SMWS earlier this year. The whisky was distilled back in 1984 and matured in refill ex-bourbon hogshead.
Nose: Sweet! The aroma was somewhat predictable for a grain but with plenty rum-like complexity, offering up banana, caramel and coconut milk followed by Jamaican ginger cake. Very Caribbean!
Taste: Initially a hint of burnt tyre followed by banana, cane sugar and honey. A great, easy-going whisky.
Finish: Long and sweet.
For us, this was the highlight of the evening: a rather magnificent 27 year old Clynelish. It was distilled in 1984, matured in a refill sherry butt and selected for bottling by the SMWS (for obvious reasons). Their panel describe it as “an exotic tearoom experience” and we simply cannot disagree.
Nose: At first we get a not entirely agreeable hint of cut grass and wet hay. After a short rest in the glass it becomes more refined and fragrant and really takes off, adding spice and a touch of mint. We found it highly addictive and kept going back to sniff the glass after it had long been drank.
Taste: Lovely – farmy and waxy. Some furniture polish and hints of cream candles.
Finish: Lingering finish that you never want to end. Sweet with a touch of salt and charcoal.
The fourth SMWS bottle was a young Ardmore named “Hornby Double O”. The whisky had a fantastic coppery rooibos colour thanks to the ex-sherry butt it called home for over 9 years.
Nose: A bit sulphury. Pipe-tobacco, barbecued meat, wood smoke and a blue cheese saltiness.
Taste: Dry on the taste but really opens up with water. More wood smoke, sun-dried tomatoes and tannic astringency.
Finish: Long, dry finish with plenty black tea and sun-dried tomatoes.
A glorious bang for your buck (under £38!)
This was the last of the SMWS whiskies, and it didn’t disappoint: A 16 year old Caol Ila appropriately named “Glowing embers on the tongue”.
Nose: Still young and fiery on the nose but quite floral and minerally underneath. Oily and hints of charcoal.
Taste: Medicinal, charcoal and maritime.
Finish: The only significant flaw of an otherwise fine whisky. The finish is short and practically lacks.
The sixth and final whisky was kept a secret from everyone, including the organiser and facilitators. When it came time for the big reveal, we discovered it was a Macallan from That Boutique-y Whisky Company via Master of Malt. But the big reveal revealed little else. It has no age statement and no record of what type of cask it was disgorged from. The ABV – 41.2% – was pretty much all the information given.
Nose: Vanilla, honeycomb, golden syrup and your Granny’s old silverware.
Taste: Fresh baked bread, caramel and honey.
Finish: Sweet and decently long enough to savour.