Sep 27, 2010

autumn in New York...*

After I moved to New York almost eight years ago all of a sudden Autumn started to be my favorite season. The city is being absolutely beautiful in Fall. The sky looks different, the sun is being gentle, trees are showing all kind of colors possible and people are having fun trying to enjoy the last steep(ish) sunbeams falling on the streets, in the parks and cafes. I am literally getting excited when September arrives. Especially this year after a long, busy and tired Summer traveling all around Europe for business and pleasure I finally came back home September 1st looking forward to spend a long, relatively less hectic and relaxed month. And to be honest I am having a great one so far... So, no new travel notes this month but I enjoyed a lot of whisk(e)y tastings in last four weeks. We shared great drams throughout the whole month at Whisk(e)y Mondays hosted by our dear friends in Ward III, at Dry Dock, at a very very special, dreamy tasting event hosted by great Mr. Peter Silver and during the amazing meetup at my place earlier this month where we sampled twenty-two different expressions all together. Among all the drams tasted in a month I would like to choose ten drams not necessary the best ones but the ones I thought worth of talking about in an almost  random order with my personal notes attached:

1. Signatory Vintage Port Ellen 1978 23 year old: I think it is one of the most amazing whiskies I ever tasted.  Everything you can expect from a perfect Islay whisky. It has a long, briny and phenolic nose with seaweed, oysters and bonfire. The palate comes with even more salt, tar, black pepper and charcoal. Finally you feel the sherry butt at the end, very distant though. The finish is very long and peppery. It was a dream I didn't want to wake up from. Definitely number one in my list.

2. Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask Director's Tactical Selection Talisker 31: This beauty is distilled in 1970 and finished in sherry casks. A little unusual nose for a Talisker. It is salty but not so peaty, more on the citrusy side. The palate comes with even more salt like somebody added cold sea water in the casks, lemon zest, lot of wood influence and tiny bit of honey. Long peppery finish, very long... A rare and fine dram.

3. Cadenhead's Authentic Collection Tomatin 16: This bottle blew my mind off when I tasted it at Cadenhead's shop in Edinburgh last month for the first time. Kudos to Mark Davidson for recommending me this expression...! It is a sixteen year old Tomatin matured in first fill sherry casks, thick, sweet and chewy. Damp cellar, moist soil, fireplace smoke, marzipan, honey, baked goods, candied maple syrup followed with numerous sweet after-notes. Long, long finish... Ah, I wish I could bring more than one bottle with me.

4. Highland Park 19: It is a heavily sherried Highland Park bottled specially for the wine and spirit merchants Beltramo's from California. I never had an HP that much influenced by sherry casks. Hmmm, ok maybe HP 21... Anyway it is a very sweet dram with candied sugar, raisin and maple syrup notes, maybe some tobacco, pretty nice...

5. Slieve Foy: A fantastic eight year old surprise..! Out of nowhere, without any warning... This Irish whiskey is distilled and bottled in Cooley Distillery specially for Marks&Spencer, tastes absolutely beautiful and comes with a very low price/value ratio. Highly recommended...

6. Highland Park Hjarta: This natural strength twelve year old expression is available only from the distillery, at on-line shop and in Scandinavia. It is closer to the sherried edge of HP range. I really appreciated the high ABV. It helps to open many different layers by adding water. Loved it...

7. Laphroaig Triple Wood: This duty free only Laphroaig is literally Quarter Cask with an additional Oloroso sherry maturation layer on top of it. I really enjoyed it. For me it is everything I love about Quarter Cask and more. Peaty, briny and creamy... And it comes in almighty one liter bottles.

8. Bruichladdich Sherry Edition 1992 "Fino": A seventeen year old whisky matured fifteen years in bourbon casks and two years in Fino sherry casks for which I was waiting for ten months to uncork since I came back from Islay last December. It has an usual nose of aged cheese, crushed grass and mold. The palate is not so sweet like you would expect. It has a medium long finish with cookies and vanilla. Definitely not my favorite Bruichladdich and I know a lot of people didn't like it but I did somehow. Maybe because I carried it all the way from Islay or maybe it is a little unusual.

9. Whistle Pig: A ten year old straight rye whisky distilled and matured in Canada, bottled in Vermont Whistle Pig Distillery Farm. I know the story sounds confusing but it is one of the best rye whiskies I ever tasted. Spicy, sweet and smooth with wintergreen, citrus and licorice on the palate... oak, a lot of oak... long enjoyable honey finish... Almost like a definition of good rye whisky. Still I wish it was a little cheaper.

10. The Balvenie Peated Cask: It is a strange mixture of 17 year old whiskies finished in brand new American oak casks and in (so far not released) heavily peated Balvenie casks. Nose comes with wood, peat smoke and honey like expected. Surprisingly palate doesn't carry a lot of peat in the first place, bacon fat, frying pan, caramel and burnt wood instead. Peat comes back with the finish but doesn't last long. I liked it... To be honest I was waiting to taste this for a long long time and still couldn't decide whether it is worth the money or not but I liked it. On the other hand to think about the so called heavily peated Balvenie waiting in different casks in the warehouses made me pretty excited though.


* by Vernon Duke (1934)
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