Jun 27, 2017

Springbank 10yo 100 proof...

Springbank 10yo 100 proof (50.0%): I found this long gone Springbank expression sitting on a dusty shelf in my neighborhood deli. I don't quite remember when they discontinued this release but it's been a while... Actually they used to have two different kinds of 100 proof bottlings back then: UK version was bottled at 57.0% abv (100 British proof) and matured exclusively in ex-bourbon casks and the US version was bottled at 50.0% abv (100 American proof) and matured in a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. So, this one is the US release...

Color: Bright yellow, Chardonnay color with fast legs around the glass.

Nose: Very briny... Ocean spray, damp black gardening soil and bonfire. Wet beach sand and smoked kippers. Way more coastal than any other current Springbank bottlings. A few drops of water add lemon juice, cornichons and cured red meat. Nuttier now, salted fresh almonds and roasted hazelnuts. Dill pickles. Amazing nose...

Palate: Creamy and thick texture. Salted butter and American gose beer, salty and tart. Carpenter's shop, wood shavings and toasted lumber. Adding water thins out the texture a little but I think it's worth it: Olive brine, green rosemary leaves and green malt. Savory crispy pastries, white wine vinegar and grilled asparagus.

Finish: Long with black pepper, dried red pepper flakes, soot and unsweetened cranberry juice.

Overall: You would think that it will taste like the regular 10yo at a higher abv but it doesn't. Even when you bring it down to a lower abv it is definitely saltier, more coastal and nuttier then the 10yo. It feels like it has a higher percentage of ex-bourbon barrels in the vat then the regular 10yo... I actually can understand why they discontinued this release though. It is confusing to have two different expressions with the same label on both sides of the Atlantic to start with and it doesn't feel like a big departure from the 10yo bottling. If it was still around probably I would never buy a bottle of regular 10yo and stick with this one. Therefore I agree with the decision of dropping the 100 proof expression and adding the 12yo Cask Strength to the line instead. It is a simple but big and bold whisky... I am glad that I found this. I don't think that there are many bottles left around.

Price: $75

Jun 24, 2017

Blend Project #27 Inver House Green Plaid (1977 - 1980)...

Inver House Green Plaid (1977 - 1980) (43.0%): The last bottle of the three blends I tasted for the Blend Project this week is an Inver House Green Plaid. It is possibly from between 1977 and 1980 as far as I can figure out from the red US tax stamp and its original label. Inver House brand was established as "Inver House Rare" by Publicker Industries in 1956 which was an American company from Philadelphia. They acquired a whisky distilling complex at Airdie a few years later and started to blend the Inver House line blended Scotch whiskies. The company and the brand was sold to Pacific Spirits Group in 2001 and became eventually a part of Thai Beverages later. Now the label is under the same umbrella with Old Pulteney, Speyburn, Balblair, Knockdhu (Ancnoc) and Balmenach distilleries as well as Hankey Bannister blended Scotch brand. Unfortunately the fill level is pretty low on this one. I hope is not totally oxidized like the Passport Scotch I tasted a couple days ago.

Color: White wine, bright yellow. Thin legs...

Nose: Lemon juice, acetone and sunflower seed oil. Medicinal but not with peat or iodine. Mostly antiseptics, gauze pads and ethyl alcohol. Synthetic grease and WD40. Not very pleasant at all and not so promising either. 

Palate: Very hot despite the low abv. Alcohol burn, lemon juice and pine sap... Very young grain spirit, raw soft wood and lemon scented wet wipes.

Finish: Mostly alcohol burn and unfortunately nothing else.

Overall: Wow, that happened... It tastes like a cheap vodka with half of a lemon squeezed in. It's bitter, hot and mostly taste like lemon dishwashing soap. I definitely wasn't expecting a good whisky but also wasn't quite ready for something that bad. Not the best finale but my adventure with three blended Scotch whisky samples form 1970s ends here. Thanks again to The Malt Impostor for all three bottles... It was a blast..!

Price: N/A but current releases are $18 for 1.75L bottle

Jun 22, 2017

Blend Project #26 Passport Scotch (1977 - 1980)...

Passport Scotch (1977 - 1980) (43.0%): And the second sample of the three dusty bottles The Malt Impostor crew sent me is Passport Scotch. Again if we look at the red US tax stamp attached to the bottle we can tell that the period should be somewhere between 1977 - 1983 but if we also consider that the original label carries an imperial volume unit we can narrow the period to between 1977 - 1980. Nowadays Passport Scotch is released under Pernod Ricard umbrella but back then it was a brand of Seagram/Chivas Brothers. It was introduced in mid sixties as a lighter style of blended Scotch and it is a big seller in Portuguese speaking countries especially in Brazil. Ok, time to pop open this bottle after all these years...

Color: Very light yellow, straw. Fast running legs around the glass.

Nose: Shy first... Opens up in time. Old vintage cardboard suitcases, leather binding books and dry soft wood. Pencil shavings and carpenter's shop. Allowing it to air even more adds some fresh grapes, green plums and dry malt.

Palate: Oh, all gone... Unfortunately it is all oxidized. Very thin texture. Wet cardboard, quinine and freshly sliced quince. Cheap plastic buckets, packing tape and licking old school envelopes... Bummer...

Finish: Long and bitter. Mostly alcohol burn, plastic and wet paper.

Overall: Well, this was a let down... It could be another great adventure but the whisky was long gone. This is another good example why we shouldn't wait to too long to enjoy our whiskies. I know that our precious bottles are kept in much better conditions, all cork sealed, stored in dark, kept away from extreme temperatures, etc. but what if one of them is allowing air right now as we speak slowly but surely through its cap..? What if you cannot realize it till years after..? Just saying, worth to think about... Thanks again to The Malt Impostor for the sample...

Price: N/A but current releases are $25 for a 1.75 liter bottle