Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Tomintoul 16 (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes
      The opening in the glass is a portal to another world: a world where amber dipped in hot tar melts and releases pheromones from mosquitoes trapped in the Jurassic era.  On the mouth, nothing so much as water; scratch that, water that's been diluted with alcohol, like a parent's bottle of scotch raided too often by teenagers who filled it over and over with tap water in the vain hope of evading detection.  It's lighter than a helium isotope (atomic weight 3.01603 vs. atomic weight 4.002602) that's been equipped with a supercharged tachyon jet pack (Thanks to Joshua Hatton for noting that whisky and subatomic particles go together better than expected).  At the finish, though, it's like a subculture growing virally, or maybe just uselessly watering a rainforest on Venus, kind of like a horror film when there are inarticulate whispers presaging the appearance of the monster.  Or not.  Oddly, but unmistakably, salty granules of pretzels scratching an itch I didn't know I had, opening up lodes of citrus and aged Gouda.


--On the scale of Timbrels, tambours, tom-toms, tampenadas, tambourines, tools, Tualatins, terrapins, tomcats, TomKats, and Tam o' Shanters--
The Tomintoul 16 is Tomfoolery. What does it mean? I don't know either.



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Nth 2011 Universal Whisky Experience

Alas, we won't be able to attend this one, but it looks ripe for the best over-the-top superlatives we could conjure up.  And with a title like the "Nth" show, there's also gotta be a cool math joke in there somewhere.  But we'll just have to appease ourselves with our bright green jealousy of all of the luxury to be consumed in Las Vegas in March.  All of that said, if any of you fair readers decides to go to the Nth show and has interest in filing a cub reporter-style story on the event, drop us a line... 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Eades Highland Double Malt (750 ml long-range merriment missile)

Tasting notes
      The Eades Highland transgenders [Stephen:  Bill! It's "engenders"] a seductive miasma out of the glass, a rosy round-cheeked sweet mango lassi(e) bespeckled with marzipan, but not bedpans. A closer sniff, after scales have fallen from the nose, reveals a serpent slithering through a vineyard festooned with pineapples like a Tiki Hut's torches. (You may cavil: pineapples don't grow in vineyards, and I may respond: They sure did in the Garden of Eden!)

    Hot in the mouth, but by standing firm, mashed pomegranates spread on toasted English muffins emerge like my lover, bedewed and dripping from a shower, trailing clouds of vapourous, thunderous, wondrous glory (thx, Willie Wordsworth!). My lover then dons bumless, well-worn leather chaps...what? wait? They're bumless, well-worn, persimmon fruit leather chaps? How....creative? 
     [Stephen: Aren't all chaps bumless?]
     A finish redolent with my high school prom carnations, lovingly preserved in the pages of The Book of Kells, no wait, The Domesday Book of William I, yield precedence to sugared pineapple slices dipped in beeswax, then a Carmen Miranda hat-explosion of sharp citrics and temperate bananas.
     The red wine and white wine barrels used to finish this expression (Le Rouge et le Blanc?) have befogged senses, proven strange bedfellows, and given birth to quintuplets of lush, sinful delight. Pervasively lovely, with elegance wrapped around it like the 100% Egyptian cotton towel around my lover's dusky musky body.

--On the scale of memorable women presiding over Paris Salons—
The Eades Highland Small Batch Double Malt is Madame de Stael. She was the Sun, and all the Planets, Moons, and Asteroids orbiting her Salon did but reflect her brilliance with a high albedo, of, say, .9314159. Shine on, you crazy diamond.



--Thanks to Pat Jones-McCray and the good folks at Eades for the sample!  


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Master of Malt teams up with Compass Box for one helluva contest--Enter early and often!

Master of Malt has teamed up with John Glaser and the Compass Box team to help them celebrate their 10th Anniversary by giving two lucky winners and theirsignificant others a one-of-a-kind whisky experience in London.  Winners will be wined and dined at Hix, Mark Hix's award-winning new restaurant serving exceptional British cuisine made from the best regional ingredients, and then they will be put up at High Road House, an exclusive hotel and private member's club.  Best of all, though, the winners will taste some of Compass Box's rarest whiskies and will have a private blending master class with John Glaser himself, at the end of which the winner will take away a bottle of their own unique blend!  The date for the experience will be sometime in the new year and will be decided upon by the winners and Compass Box.

How do I enter, you say?  Simple!  Just buy any Compass Box whisky from the Master of Malt site.  To get there, click on the Drinks by the Dram banner on the right and then on the Compass Box competition link at the top of the page or simply click on this link:

Hurry!  There are only 250 entries available, so go to Master of Malt and enter early and often!


Monday, December 13, 2010

The Compass Box Peat Monster (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes
     This composition of whiskies, blended carefully to form an imposing figure of a dram, this monster, bears some resemblance to the powerful creation of another famous mastermind.  The similarities end there, however, as this man-made mélange meets with much more acceptance and understanding (not to mention merriment and mirth), proudly proclaims itself a monster, and (thankfully) does not have bolts in its neck.  Nonetheless, this monster of a dram turns out to be just as transformative for the drinker as ol’ Frank’s own experiences were for him:  "... I shall relate events that impressed me with feelings which, from what I had been, have made me what I am."
     The color is deceptively light and clear, as if someone had diluted a mere drop of whisky in water, but then there’s huge, briny smoke on the nose, like cigars rolled in seaweed and smoked in an old tobacco shop…that features ashtrays carved from solid bricks of peat…and that happens to have a guy splayed out in the middle of the floor, being administered heroic amounts of iodine in hopes of sterilizing a deep cut in his leg.  Speaking of legs, hold the glass up to the light, and you’ll see this dram has more legs than the floor of a Civil War battlefield surgery (given the opening theme, I wasn’t about to abandon the macabre here).  On the mouth, it’s pure, liquefied peat, then wood, wood, wood:  for a moment before the finish, it’s like a dish from the Moosewood Cookbook… for Beavers.  And then there’s a blast of heat on the finish, like a hiccup from a baby dragon.  But the heat brings with it a surge of ecstasy, much like one would imagine a vampire feels biting into a coniferous nymph.  Overall, the effect is remarkable: the Peat Monster nearly perfectly distills out the essence of Islay, and in the end it transforms your mouth into a pleasure dome.  This is decidedly not the nature-defying product of a megalomaniac, but it is no less a work of genius.   


On the scale of the best of the worst of the many ripped-off Frankenstein characters—
The Compass Box Peat Monster is Herman Munster—you have to give it up for Fred Gwynne, whose last screen role was the Yale-educated southern gentleman Judge Chamberlain Haller in My Cousin Vinny. And that movie gave a surprise Oscar for Marisa Tomei, and loosed Joe Pesci, comedian, upon an unsuspecting world.


--Thanks to Robin Robinson for the sample--and John Glaser for putting this creature together!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Kilchoman Spring 2010 Release (50 ml airline bottle)

Tasting notes
I suppose every child remembers one of Aesop's fables.  This Kilchoman expression calls to mind the fable of the crow and the pitcher.  No, it’s not the enterprise of the crow that I’m thinking of.  Rather it’s the taste of the water in the pitcher.  But imagine that in place of pebbles, the crow is dropping nori-wrapped rice balls into a sun-soured mead.  Oh, and the crow has West Nile virus.  Honey, smoke, bacon, seaweed, iodine.  Cloying and powerful like mustard gas.  My tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth; my septum, it seems, is no longer deviated.  Sour orange with a rubbing alcohol flambée.  This dram has, as the saying goes, the smell of the lamp.  Yes, there is a whisper of a paint thinner off-note, but a stronger sense that Picasso is holding the business end of the brush.  During his blue period.

On the scale of inscrutable metaphors-- 
The Kilchoman Spring 2010 release is "salad days"--Why is youth so described?  I mean, isn’t youth better likened to an extravagance of sweets, where the initial rush gives way to unhappiness, a strangely empty surfeit, the restless sense of being neither here nor there, but always in the wrong place?  Or perhaps youth is a hamburger mashed viciously against the grill by an overzealous dad, draining the meat of the fat it needs to be tolerable.  Now that I think of it, perhaps "salad days" is right.  You’re hungry and what is presented to you is but a prelude of what is to come. 

--Thanks to our good friends at Loch Fyne for helping us get our hands on this one!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Balvenie Caribbean Cask (100 ml peg-leg stash flask)

Tasting notes
     Arrrgh, Matey, it be time for me to uncork a bottle I jiggered from me skipperrrr. Do me a favor and scrrrawl down me words in that prrrretty boy schooled wrrriting of yourrrrrs. Haarrrgh.
     And it be sweet on the nose, but not so sweet as the gold ring in yours. It be pepperrrrrr of mint, it be, and there arrrrrrrrrre overtones of butterrrrr on the short side of turning into the wind. It brings to ken the melting ghee we did smell when ourrrr skipper turned us past the Cape of Good Hope into the farrrr east. 
     Tell yer parrot to stay away from me drink, boy! Or it's parrrrrot stewed with potatoes and onions on me plate tonight.
      In me mouth, past me two teeth, I be getting me old man's sweet tobaccy smell he blew at passing tarrrts. If it don't taste like meerkats alow in the hold, me name tisn't Gentleman Billy! Harrgh. It goes down better'n grog never did! "A risin' tide on the Thames lifts boats and burns throats," says me old skipper.
     It be syrrrrup made o' black oak, made o' acorns, mayhap made o' squirrrrels' that ett 'em.

--Marrrrgh. Comparrrrrred to me favorrrrite games--
Me skipperrrr's drrrrink [the Balvenie Caribbean Cask] is keelhaulin'. It'll rrrrrrip off yerrrr skin rrrrright quick, but it allows plenty o' thrrrrrashin' arrrrrround, flailin' the arrrms like. Arrrrrrgh.


--Thanks to Sam Simmons and The Balvenie for the sample!

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