Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Tamdhu 1969-2004 Duncan Taylor (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes:
Already immortalized in song, this remarkable 1969 whisky deserves an anthem that captures the mood of those enjoying it.  Believe me, after a few sips of this Tamdhu expression, you won't even care whether the moon landing was staged or not.  The nose recalls an orchid corsage dipped in white chocolate fondue and placed on a fan of granny smith apple slices.  Remarkably thin and delicate, like tiny woodland fairies sleeping on Lamb’s Ear.  But then, like Hayata depressing the beta capsule and transforming into Ultraman, there is a dramatic transformation.  In fact, it is nothing less than explosive, like a piano chord struck across four octaves by a truculent Vishnu, or the end of “Day in a Life” performed by several marching bands crammed into a Knights of Columbus meeting hall.  Here the notes come fast and linger, the sustain pedal worked furiously by an instructor whose prodigy is too short to reach them herself: ostrich medallions and fiddleheads sautéed in ghee; licks of canola oil off a titanium wristwatch; orecchiette pasta with quince, beets, and pine bubbles; fallen Kousa dogwood berries in a mephitic riot of decay; pistachio butter on rosewater-soaked saltines.  This Tamdhu is as fresh and thrilling and memorable as a game of buzkashi played not with a headless goat carcass but with a giant squid, and not on the steppes of central Asia but on the dew-soaked greens of the 16th hole at the Augusta National Golf Club. 

--On the scale of discontinued delights first made in the 60s--
The Tamdhu 1969-2004 is Screaming Yellow Zonkers--Not as iconic as Cracker Jacks, to be sure, but for those in the know there was nothing beating it, and its loss is to be mourned. 


Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Balblair 1997-2007 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes:

Balblair 1997-2007

Brit. /'bɔːlblɛə(r)/, U.S. /'bɔlblɛə(r)/, /'bɑlblɛə(r)/

1. the condition in which a kilt-clad man standing cliff side may find himself when a breeze breaks in over the Firth of Forth.

2. any inadvertent male exposure, as when performing a groin-stretching exercise on the football pitch.

3. chiefly Scot. 1997.  A Highland single malt whisky aged ten years in oak barrels.  The nose is like smelling a lemon through a drier sheet.  Sweet and refreshing; well-balanced throughout; high, clean, and light—a good morning drink if there ever was one.  Scottish astronauts would have had this in place of Tang.  Draw several milliliters of Gran Marnier in a syringe, then trace the needle along the grooves on an old Pachisi board cleaned with Lemon Pledge while depressing the plunger, and finally retrace the grooves with a cocktail straw held in your lips.  What you taste may approximate the delights of the Balblair 1997-2007, though it is not likely to have the long-finishing subtlety that I can only liken to the heat of a winter bath, the warmth of well-being.


--On the scale of school pranks--
The Balblair 1997 is the Hertz Doughnut--Less common than a wedgie, and subtler than noogie, this artful blend of verbal wit and unprovoked violence deserves wider acclaim.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Glenmorangie 10 (50 ml plastic airline bottle)

Tasting notes:
Ignoble and successful as a bankrobber who gets away with nothing more than pockets full of coins, the inauspicious plastic bottle containing the Glenmorangie 10 apparently fails to prevent some evaporation.  Shellacked honeycomb on the nose gives way to a hot, burnt, inorganic, and somewhat stinky flavor profile on the tongue,  much like polyester pantyhose burning in a basement furnace in an attempt to destroy evidence of a bank heist gone horribly wrong earlier that morning.  As with contemplating how one could be so stupid as to hold a dye pack in his mouth while fishing cash out of the bag the teller handed him, this dram is tough and gnaws at the back of your mind or your palate, whatever the case may be.  There is a flowering bitterness here, like eating a dandelion by accident or realizing too late that a trigger-happy psychopath doesn't make the best accomplice.  The finish is marked by a bad kind of heat, the kind that inevitably comes from leaving behind a trail of dead bodies and bright blue footprints.

--On the scale of things one might be tempted to call a dandelion--
The Glenmorangie 10 is Les Fleurs du Mal--for Baudelaire's collection of poems, Hippolyte Badou's suggested title is the stuff of legend; but for the ubiquitous herbaceous perennial, it's not a terribly flattering moniker.  It is, however, better than being called a weed.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Deanston 12 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes:
In the glass, the Deanston 12 is reminiscent of Goldschläger, but with a much less desirable particulate matter swept into a Brownian motion trance dance: think grade-school planaria experiments unattended during a long holiday, or remnants of a recently-flushed bus station toilet.  Unfortunately, the visual impressions are a presage of the conspicuously-imbalanced tastes that follow.  Sour, bitter, and salty, but unlike the Trinity, these are not harmoniously joined into one.  Neither do they redeem.  On the contrary, think of Sourpatch Kids candies used to absorb messes on a shop floor, or salted pomegranate pith candied in paregoric, or buried barrels of bleach and anthrax on Vozrozhdeniya Island. Briny?  Yes, but closer to Briony Tallis in the breadth and depth of misery it visits upon innocents. 

--On the scale of presocratic fragments featuring alcoholic drinks--
The Deanston 12 is Heraclitus’ posset fragment (DK 125)--a mixture of wine, barley, and cottage cheese, “the posset separates unless it is stirred.”  We found it helps to close your eyes and pinch your nose.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Bowmore 12 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes:*
Hits the nose like bacon frying in a cast iron skillet, which is to say:  the aroma that wafts out from the opening of the pearly gates as you leave purgatory. Seaweed limns the nose, like the chiaroscuro highlights of a Rembrandt painting, and makes way for the hot ceramic olfactory emissions of mesquite charcoal, slow-cooking pork ribs in a Weber grill. (Clearly, now you are in heaven.)  After the skeleton of the superb structure climbs into your nostrils, the delight of the mouth is like the feeling of sinking into the supple leather seat of your Ferrari as you smoothly accelerate out the cobblestone driveway of Nicolas Sarkozy's chalet after an intimate soirée winds down (at least as best as I can imagine what that would feel like). Long finish like a curling stone being swept down the ice, and aftertastes sticking in the memory like Shaun White's nailing the Double McTwist 1260.

--On the scale of infidelities to one's spouse--
The Bowmore 12 is what happens to Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby--It's demonic, it's procreative, it possesses you, there's nothing you can do about it, and there's no earthly reason to feel guilty. Sláinte!


*--I've never met Stephen's father, but it's clear that his excellent taste in scotch is exceeded only by the silver tongue of his son, who talked his father out of such a wonderful dram.

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