Since October 2010, a secret East Midlands cabal has been meeting to drink whisky and discuss the issues of the day, such as whether we should return to the gold standard. Shortly after our last evening of lively debate, one of our number decided to leave the area, and we waved goodbye to Bruce. However, this has not led to the demise of the cabal, so tonight we return, to taunt Doubting Bruce who thought that we would never meet again, and to raise a dram to absent friends. Let us begin. And we begin with the standard picture of what was to come…
Benriach 1999 PX, a 15 year old from cask 9150, priced at £65.95
Bottle 491 of 694, bottled in November 2014
On the nose : Sherry, raisins, treacle toffee, burnt sugar (all no surprise).
On the palate : Vanilla and a hint of marzipan.
The finish : Initially short, but then it comes back at you like a boomerang (our first Australian reference in tribute to Bruce).
The addition of water brings a touch of spikiness to the palate.
As Bruce has left the cabal, we felt the need to still hear his comments (for now at least), so we knocked up a quick bit of code to create BruceBot v.0.1
Comment from the BruceBot: reminds me of a random fruit from the Southern hemisphere that you guys have never heard of.
And finally, we finish with our marks out of 10. There has been much debate about our scoring system over the years, but we generally award marks between 6 and 10 (unless it’s some very poor bourbon that one of us has been given by a friend). Half marks are permitted, but one of our number prefers to go for smaller fractions at times.
G: 6 A: 6 R: 6 BruceBot: 7.5
A solid start and we move on to:-
Benriach 1999, a 13 year old from several casks, priced at £46.95
Bottled in 2014, matured in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in Virgin American Oak casks.
On the nose : Toffee, treacle, a lighter Xmas cake.
On the palate : Smooth, with floral notes and a hint of nutmeg.
The finish : Smoother than our previous Ben, and a longer finish, as opposed to the “false fade” (80s vinyl reference from the BruceBot) of the previous Ben.
G: 7 A: 7 R: 7.5 BruceBot: 8
Another one that we would put on the mythical “pub whisky list”, a list of whiskies that we would be happy to find in any pub. Perhaps the BruceBot will start working on this now, as the real Bruce failed to deliver the goods. Next!
Laphroaig Triple Wood, no age statement (NAS), priced at £47.50
Quarter Cask bottling that has been finished in Oloroso sherry casks.
Aah, Laphroaig. The medicinal stuff beloved by pubs up and down the land. We did find one we liked once, Laphroaig PX, available in duty free outlets. How would this one stand up?
On the nose : Peat, smoke, frazzles (no surprises here).
On the palate : Err, smoke and peat. It’s not subtle.
The finish : A medium finish, and it doesn’t take long for that classic hit of TCP to arrive.
It’s the second drinkable Laphroaig, but as the BruceBot reminded us, it’s not as good as the Laphroaig PX.
G: 7.5 A: 5.5 R: 6 BruceBot: 5
At this point, we break for pizza:-
A random diversion. That piece of plastic in the middle of a pizza box. Have you ever thought about it?
Thirty years ago, Carmela Vitale of Dix Hills, New York, was issued a patent for a plastic 3-legged tripod stool that would sit in the middle of a box and keep the top from flopping on to your pizza, cakes or other foods kept in a box. Vitale called her invention a “package saver” and used that term also as the title of her patent, but it has since been renamed the “pizza saver” since that has become its most common use. The patent (#4,498,586) was filed on February 10, 1983, and issued on February 12, 1985. There’s even a song about her… https://soundcloud.com/otterintheflightdeck/carmela-vitale
So, back to the whisky…
SMWS 66.64 A blacksmith at a barbeque, 10 years old, priced at £47.50
1st fill white wine hogshead from the Ardmore distillery
On the nose : Smoke, peat, burnt rubber, like standing next to Graham Dilley on the boundary.
On the palate : Sweet, spicy and fizzy, like mainlining sherbert dib dabs. A touch of madeira at the back of the mouth.
The finish : Take your time with this one, it’s very fighty but it does grow on you.
This is not a whisky to introduce your friends to. It does sound a bit poncy to say that this is one for the experienced drinker, but it really is. Adding a touch of water does soften it a touch, it retains spiciness but without fizziness.
G: 7 A: 7 R: 7.5 BruceBot: 7
G: 6.5 A: 7.5 R: 7 BruceBot: 6
We should now take a random video break, as at this point in the evening, we started reminiscing about various former colleagues…
On to another from the SMWS crew…
SMWS 46.31 Sniffing a bee’s knees, 22 years old, priced at £82.20 (no link as it’s sold out)
Refill ex-bourbon hogshead from the Glenlossie distillery
On the nose : Musty, rising damp, a hint of citrus and some coconut.
On the palate : Citrus and cream soda, a sweet acidity.
The finish : It’s long, and smooths out with the addition of a little water.
This one is certainly an oddity. It’s weird in a good way, but as the BruceBot reminded us it’s not “Batshit Arse Mental Weird ™”.
Scores on the doors:-
G: 6.5 A: 5.5 R: 6 BruceBot: 6.5
Moving on. We arrive at:-
GlenDronach cask strength, batch 3, NAS, priced at £53
Combination of Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks, bottled in 2013
On the nose : Raisins, burnt sugar, although more burnt than sugar
On the palate : Sweetness, but NMS. That’s “needs more sherry.”
The finish : Looooooooooonnnnnnnngggggg.
G: 6.5 A: 6.5 R: 7 BruceBot: 6.5
We have enjoyed many a GlenDronach dram over the years, but this one was not up in the top 10. There was no comment from the BruceBot at this point as it was too busy laughing at “Mr Tinarse’s failure to buy an awesome GlenDronach at last”…
It was at this point that we sought out our thoughts on the GlenDronach Parliament, recorded here. This was a revelation, as we found the following quote from the real Bruce:-
I’m also going on record to say I’ll produce a Pub Whisky summary within the next month. There, happy now? eh? bastards.
This has still never happened. And as the BruceBot is modelled on the real Bruce, we aren’t sure that we can rely on it to do the work either. So it looks like a case of shattered dreams for the cabal… Under the previous regime, this would be the point for a random YouTube video. We are happy to continue this tradition…
By this point in the evening, we had summarised that we had made our way through 6 solid performers, but nothing outstanding. A few samples of weird, but nothing weird enough to stand out. The winner was either the second Benriach or the SMWS 66.64. We believe that this was our first meeting featuring 100% unopened bottles. Due to our ruthless efficiency, we had time for one final dram, not pictured above. We move on to:-
Glenrothes 1998-2012, 14 years old, priced at £50
Bottled in 2013
On the nose : Vanilla and sugar
On the palate : Smooth, sweet, vanilla and some subtle spices.
The finish : Short.
G: 6 A: 6 R: 6 BruceBot: 6
A quality whisky for sure, very drinkable but nothing special. Another entry for the mythical pub whisky list. One day, maybe one day. We shall return for Cabal 18 at some point…