Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Six Stunning Scotches - And Big Peat

Busy few weeks whisky-wise, but now I’ve got a chance to catch up. First on the list is Ralfy’s departure from these shores for the Isle of Man and a wee bothy from where his acclaimed vlogs will henceforth emanate.
There was a great turn up Round the Barrel for his farewell, and it coincided with a ‘Tache Tribute to Richard Paterson, who is celebrating 40 years in the whisky business.
There were a few speeches, a few drams and a wee presentation to the Chanty Wrassler, who responded in good style, crediting Glasgow’s Whisky Club with untold power and influence.

The Richard Paterson tribute, where we all donned fake moustache for a group photie, so delighted the great man, that he donated a bottle of Whyte and Mackay 40 year old to a future RtB night.
Next up was a wee double-distillery trip that attracted 10 hardy souls. We headed across to the Kingdom of Fife and took a guided tour round the delightful Daftmill Distillery.
Headed by Francis Cuthbert, who began the venture with brother Ian, and set in the heart of Fife, they use their own barley, grown at Daftmill Farm, and sparkling water from their own artesian well.
They also run it as distilleries of yore did, waiting till the harvest is in (and the tatties are howked) before using spare barley for malting.
It’s a working farm, so tours are limited to the quieter periods of farm life (if there are any). Call ahead if you fancy going.

As a reward for the trek you can sometimes share a dram with Francis. The bourbon is full of classic American Cream Soda, Butterkist popcorn, while the sherry is simply immense, with a finish that goes on and on.
Francis insists he’ll bottle whisky “when it’s ready”. We reckoned it was ready on Saturday!

We then dashed across country to Tullibardine, where we undertook the Connoisseur’s Tour. Led by our genial guide, Gavin, we got to explore many bits and bobs of this distillery, before sampling, straight from the casks, a handful of decent drams
Last bit of business was the Douglas Laing tasting with Jan Beckers at Uisge Beatha. Some confusion over emails and dates resulted in a low turn out of 10 – 11 if you count Jan (which we do), but it was an utterly magical evening.
We sat round one long bench in the candlelight (which made even Mr Black strangely attractive) and sampled a Magnificent Seven whiskies, each one better than the one before.

Here’s the list
  1. A Clan Denny 45 year old single grain from Girvan. An astonishing dram for such an old whisky, liquid Bounty Bar, Jan called it, sweet chocolate and coconut and still pretty big at 46.3?
  2. A Provenance Benrinnes. A new one on me, and more shame for having previously overlooked it. Fresh, citrus, with a nose of autumn woodland, this 1997 whisky was 46%.
  3. An Old Malt Cask Braes of Glenlivet 20. Another new one for me, this was bottled at 50% and was just scrumptious
  4. A remarkable Highland Park, bottled at 11 years old. This had more depth of character than the official 12YO. Smokier and peatier than the OB, it comes in at 46%
  5. An Old Malt Cask Ardmore 12. Again sitting at 50%, this came from a refill hoggie and opened my eyes to a spicy Highland/Speysider than I’m determined to taste again. It brought out the romantic in Peter – “a seductive siren” he called it!
  6. The affable Big Peat. A soaraway success when it was introduced last year, the first batch of this 46 percenter sold out in eight to 10 days. We tasted batch 7 and although it has a PPM of 22 “and a bit” said Jan. it’s nowhere near as scary ass the label makes out.
  7. And for me the absolute standout of an evening of absolute standouts – a 26-year-old Caol Ila that was sweet, gentle, far, far better than anything out of the OB warehouses.
  8. A simply stunning evening. “It’s what I joined Glasgow’s Whisky Club for,” said Shawn, and there was no-one who would disagree.

I’ve asked Jan to host another evening early in the New Year when hopefully many more souls can experience a night of absolute bliss.