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1994 Plaisir de Merle and Single Malt


bills
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Notes from a dinner and tasting – wine-only fans can stop after the first note as the rest are single malt Scotch.

1994 Plaisir de Merle Cabernet – this South African wine has been drinking well for many years now, yet this bottle seemed tired and old. I popped another cork the next night and it sang like old times, the nose no longer mute and the fruit not largely AWOL. This may be a signal that the early vintages of PdeM are getting long in the tooth or just an off bottle. If anyone else has cellared these wines it might be time to check up on them. I think I’ll open a 1993 this weekend for ‘research’.

The whisky portion of the evening had no specific theme, unlike most of our twice yearly gathering of the faithful – everyone brought a couple of single malts they thought might be interesting to taste. With a total production annually of 3.2 million cases, single malt is in no danger of taking over from blended whisky – Johnny Walker bottles 3.5 million cases of their red label every year!

Lest you think us to be unrepentant tosspots, I would add that each dram is only about ½ ounce. We nose it and taste it straight and then add a few drops of water (we actually use eyedroppers for this given the small aliquot of malt we are tasting) and assess the change wrought by this addition.

First flight:

Strathisla 12, 43% - a spirity sweet fruitcake nose and the heat continued in the mouth – this one needed a fair addition of water to tone down the alcohol. Rated 4th in the flight.

Macallan 12 ‘Elegancia’ 40% - none of us knew much about this one and none of our reference books helped – no doubt a special export bottling, this one bought on vacation in Turkey but also spotted in Germany. Matured in oloroso and fino sherry cask. An odd sour nose, soft and smooth in the mouth but an odd finish that sharpened up. 3rd.

Glenlivet 12 (French oak) 40% - not so hot in the nose, with some nice oak spice, only slightly hot in mouth and didn’t benefit from water (killed the nose), nice caramel flavours, a comforting dram on a snowy day. 2nd

Glen Garioch 15 43% - minty nose and a tarry treacle finish made this one a stand-out, wood smoke in the nose and a bit of peat on palate.. Very nice and 1st in the flight. Pronounced Glen ‘Geery’, by the way.

Second Flight:

Bruichladdich ‘The Links’ 14 46% - part of a trio of special bottlings featuring golf courses, (in this case the 18th green at Royal Troon), this had a slightly hot grassy nose, and was quite hot in the mouth with an odd candied aftertaste. Water smoothed it a bit. Unusual in that it has no colouring added – a pale Scotch and 3rd in this group.

Scapa 14 40% - I can’t recall offhand if this is the only malt made in Orkney, but in any case a bit of a rarity. Banana apple nose, sweet and smooth on palate with a hint of pineapple at the end. Interesting malt that doesn’t really come across like the fruit salad I’ve described.

Bruichladdich 15 46% - more of the seaside in this nose, and rich big flavours in the mouth, complex. Best with no water, and much better than the 14. Best of flight.

Flight 3

Bowmore 17 43% - I am a big fan of this distillery and this one was no disappointment. Caramel, seaweed, smoke and grass all featured in the nose, with a floral element in the background. Integrated on palate with good length. The nose on this really opened up with water. An after dinner sort of malt.

Lagavulin 16 43% - nose like a sherry barrel, very smooth and tasty in the mouth. This excellent malt needs no water added.

Lagavulin 12 57.8% - this cask strength bottling was a special release and quite hard to find. It had a smoke and elastoplast nose, very hot, with an oily overlay. There was a smoky taste (a bit unusual), and water was needed to cut the heat, but it muted the nose, so this one was a bit of a quandary as to which way you preferred it.

Ratings on this flight? More difficult as we were into the sort of malts that you either love or hate. I would be happy sitting in front of a fire with any of them, but the Lagavulin 16 was especially good in a more conventional sort of way, while the Special 12 was such a wild beast that I went right out the next day and bought the last bottle extant to add to my collection!

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Sounds like you have all the fun in vancouver Bill. :)

The Elegancia 12(which is new for Mac, it was always vintage dated before), is my daily pour.

I always have a litre or two in the cabinet.

Cheers, Steve

slowfood/slowwine

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