Saturday, March 31, 2018

Whisky In My Water

Another whisky club line-up.
The March meeting of the Manchester Whisky Club took place on the Thursday immediately before Good Friday, which is of course (for most people at least) a four-day weekend. This sort of thing is either a brilliant or a terrible idea, and if you can work out exactly which it is, feel free to let us know.

Carn Mor Ben Rinnes 8yo.
Stina had assembled a line-up of six whiskies for the tasting, with a watery theme. That is, whiskies which perhaps come from a particularly noteworthy water source, might benefit from a drop or two in a dram, or have some other water connection. Hence the name of the tasting, Whisky In My Water.

We got started with an 8yo Ben Rinnes from independent bottler Carn Mor (we had a Laphroaig of theirs quite recently, back at Anna's November tasting). This was amazing for a whisky of just eight years. Sweet, with sherbet, vanilla and a hint of burnt orange about it, a few of us were reluctant to try it with any water at all: "It would be a crime to add water to this, surely!" as someone said.

Inchmurrin 17yo.
At 46% and just £40, it also represents great value. Unfortunately, we may have got the last one from Master of Malt, but if you can find one anywhere, it's well worth it.

Buoyed by this great start to the evening, and perhaps by the renewed realisation we were on the verge of a four-day weekend, it was on to dram number two. This involved a trip to Loch Lomond - hence the water - for a 17yo Inchmurrin, which is produced at the same distillery on the bonnie banks (we say that, but in reality it's just a little to the south of the Loch itself).

This was another good one. A bit of honey, an oily nose, and maybe a touch of molasses in there, or at least something along those lines. Certainly pleasant, but not for all of us at £90. It's 46%.

The mysterious Kirin.
Stina didn't know much about the third whisky, as it was something she picked up on a visit to Japan last year. Unfortunately for us, we knew even less about it, other than it was from Kirin, a company probably better known for its production of beer and soft drinks. More or less all we could decipher from the label, with the help of a translation app, was that it was a blend. So there we go.

It was nice, and quite malty, although as someone commented: "I'm not getting much more than PVA glue" (if you have children obsessed with creating slime, this is an occupational hazard, though). It had a short, but sweet finish, and we think it was probably a 3yo or thereabouts. It was £35 for a 50cl bottle, although goodness knows how much it would cost if you weren't picking it up straight from the distillery. Stina summed it up: "I'm so glad it's not disgusting."

SMWS Quince Jelly Baby
After the half-time break and a refresh of our pint glasses from downstairs at the Britons' Protection, it was back to the fourth drink of the evening and a drop from one of our favourites, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. This was the 'Quince Jelly Baby', in reality a 12yo Glenlivet.

And what a belter it was. A bit of apple tart, a bit of crystallised ginger. Absolutely lovely all round, and a surprisingly easy drinker for an imposing 58.8%. This went down so well it got an almost unprecedented round of applause after we'd finished. We got our bottle for just £60 as members, but wherever you can find one, it would be well worth a good bit more than that.

We were in Islay for the last two whiskies of the night.

Bhunnahabhain Cruach Mhona
First, to Bunnahabhain for a bottle of their Cruach Mhona, a no age statement whisky that started life aimed at the travel retail market, but is now available more widely. Cruach Mhona translates as 'peat stack' and we can confirm that yes, it does indeed smell like a pile of peated bricks. As if they've just put some peat in a barrel, perhaps.

It's recommended with a drop of water and it's not too difficult to see why once you've spent a little bit of time with it. At 50% and £85 for a 1 litre bottle, this was another good value bottle, we thought.

Laphroaig Brodir.
Onto the last drink and to Laphroaig, for another no age statement whisky, this time the Brodir which has a port wood finish. As such it has a distinctive reddish sort of colour about it, and is much more subtle on both the nose and the palate than a typical Laphroaig.

Given that subtlety, this makes the Brodir either an ideal candidate for someone who finds the standard bottling a bit, well, much - or is a bit of an expensive disappointment for those who go to Laphroaig for exactly that. It's 48% and £90, and was enjoyed by some, but most of the members preferred the Bunna.

And so that was it. Another great selection of whiskies and another tough choice in the dram of the night voting, with all of the drams getting at least one vote. But in the end it was the SMWS bottling, number four, which picked up ten votes and took the honours.

Thanks to Stina for putting together such a great selection, to the Britons for hosting us once again, and particular thanks to all of the members who came along.

Here they are.

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