Friday, July 1, 2016

Independent Bottlings Night

The line-up.
At our June tasting we were delighted to welcome several new paid-up members to the club, and they had five whiskies from a variety of independent bottlers to enjoy, as yet more summer rain lashed down outside the Britons Protection.

The Inchmurrin 19yo.
Tom acted as whisky master for the evening, and he started us off with a 19yo Inchmurrin, bottled by Signatory. As Tom revealed, Inchmurrin is made at the Loch Lomond distillery and is named for the island in the middle of the loch, which is possibly best known for being the home of a naturist colony.

Not that the dram itself was naked. It's finished in sherry casks, something clearly in evidence just from the nose. That sherried sweetness won quite a few approving nods on first taste, but if anything this whisky disappointed a little thereafter, just sort of fading away after a strong start. However, at £40, it's not bad value.

That TBWC label.
Up next was a no-age statement dram from That Boutique-y Whisky Company from the Allt-á-Bhainne distillery near Dufftown. Somewhat tenuously, because Allt-á-Bhainne sounds a bit like House of Pain, the label features cows listening to old school classic Jump Around, while standing next to a river of milk (which is what Allt-á-Bhainne actually means).

But enough about the packaging, and on to the whisky. This one's herby on the nose, vaguely reminiscent of dandelion and burdock. And we got a range of opinions from the membership, although most could at least agree that this was an "interesting" drop. It retails at a shade under £50, which would be fine if it was in a proper 70cl bottle!

The Glenburgie 19yo.
The most expensive whisky of the night was next and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it turned out to be our favourite. It was a Glenburgie 19yo, not just sold by Master of Malt but also bottled by them.

Appropriately enough for Wimbledon fortnight, this one had strawberries if not cream, along with distinct notes of butterscotch and a bit of citrus later on in the finish. Despite general warm approval, this wasn't a bottle that got the membership reaching for their phones and credit cards - purely because of the price at more than £90.

This led to the quote of the evening from Nic: "I'd buy it, but I wouldn't share it!"

Douglas Laing's Double Barrel.
After a mid-tasting break, we were back with bottle four and a mash-up of Ardbeg and Inchgower in the form of Douglas Laing's Double Barrel. If this was a marriage of Islay and Speyside, it was clear on both the nose and the palate that Islay was the dominant partner, with a peatiness and saltiness that really took over the drink.

It was felt that the Inchgower got a little lost up against its distinctive bottle-mate. While decent value at £45, some of Douglas Laing's offerings which we've had at the club in the past - Scallywag in particular - are probably a better bet for a slightly lower price.

The Paul John 6yo.
We finished with a passage to India and the 6yo Paul John, another bottling by Master of Malt. A young whisky, but not by Indian standards where, it's said, the heat makes six years equivalent to three times as long in rainy old Scotland.

Reactions to this one can be divided into those who drank it before and after adding water. Initially, it tasted very strong, as well it might at 59.7%. In the words of one member, it tasted "like cardboard". But when we started to put a few drops of water in there, things opened up considerably and it became much more palatable. That dreaded word again - "interesting" - but probably not worth splashing out the £78 retail price for.

The vote at the end of the night when decisively in favour of the Glenburgie. No chance of a 52/48 split here! Thanks to Tom for leading another great tasting, and to the faces old and new who came down.
The vote. No secret ballots here.

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