October 2019 - Fire, Mountain and Smoke
This month we have yet more exclusives, another Feis Ile, and as a group of us had just been to the London Whisky Show, it would be wrong to not include something from there as well!
Massive thanks to Tim, who donated the second whisky to the club as a gift, which has allowed us to reinvest in some new water jugs and pipettes for the club, as we explore adding drops of water to the whiskies to open them up further and reach hidden depths.
1. Glenfiddich Fire & Cane
RRP: £39.89 (Master of Malt)
We were intrigued as small pots of ice cream were handed out with the first dram, which we were briefed was purely and experiment based on some comments about the whisky. Being the open minded club that we are, we thought why not?!
On the nose we were getting subtle peat and toffee/caramel notes, but not a huge amount to suggest anything special.
To the palate, where we have the oaky, faint smoke and again the toffee notes. Quite a big hit of spirit, with a youthful punch to it. This is when we tried it with the ice cream which was remarked as “softening the blow.”
The finish is bitter and quite harsh, again with an overarching feeling that it is a young whisky that perhaps could do with further aging.
A brief exchange overheard by most of the group caused quite a ripple of laughter -
“Better with the ice cream”
- “Yeah but dog sh*t would be better with ice cream!”
Tasting Notes (Master of Malt):
Nose: Billowing soft peat notes, like distant smoke on the wind. Rich sweet toffee with zesty fresh fruit notes and spiciness.
Palate: Like a Highland peat campfire, with oak notes and toffee. Sharp green fruit, sweet baked apple and soft smoke.
Finish: Lingering smokiness and sweetness.
Not our most popular dram ever! Of the rum casked options out there this one really doesn't hit the spot that was hoped. Balvenie Carribean Casked showcases the flavour in a much more rounded fashion, and I think we would reach for that every time over this Glenfiddich offering.
2. Ben Nevis 1996 - 22 Year Old Whisky Show 2019
RRP: £165.00 (The Whisky Exchange)
This is the whisky that Tim very kindly purchased at the London Whisky Show to share with the club. Again a huge amount of thanks are owed for a wonderful gesture.
We start with the nose, the higher alcohol content is immediately obvious, however it is enveloped in wonderful aromas of toffee, licorice, apple, raisins and butterscotch. Given time to develop it really gives you a lot to think about.
On the palate, the complexity continues, with chocolate, woody and leathery notes, developing into the dark fruits and wintry flavours. The higher strength of this whisky wasn’t to everyone’s preference, it was clear that the warmth that fills your cheeks wasn’t met with universal approval.
Finally the finish which is long and powerful, with similar wintry fruit and dark chocolate notes.
Tasting Notes (The Whisky Exchange):
Nose: Fruit rolls out of the glass - cherries, sultanas and raisins - with oloroso-sherry-soaked fruit cake not far behind. Damp leaves and rich earth provide a savoury backdrop, with fruit sweetness dancing on top.
Palate: Sweet and fruity, with a thick and dark backbone chocolate and leather. Dried cherries, apple rings and sultanas, brown sugar, molasses and more fruity dark chocolate. Soft and sweet spice subtly on top, with hints of old oak slowly building.
Finish: Sweet chocolate cake slowly becomes bittersweet. Dried cherries and apples linger.
As mentioned, it was divisive in that the strength and potency of the spirit was a bit much for some, but those that liked it, really loved it. A real gem that presented new aromas and flavours with every visit to the Glencairn.
For the rating it will be documented at 4/5, however there were a smattering of 5/5s given, with the average being brought down by some ratings of 2. This is the very ethos of the club – finding something that you love, that may not necessarily be everyone else’s preference.
3. Lagavulin 19 Year Old - Feis Ile 2019
RRP: Issued at £150.00 (Feis Ile 2019 Exclusive) Selling at time of writing for circa £235 from online retailers and circa £210 at online auction (October 2019)
Onto the regular treat that is something from the Feis Ile back catalogue that we have from earlier in the year.
On the nose it was abundantly clear that this was an Islay whisky.
“Are you satisfied Robert?!”
– Eddie in reference to Robert’s penchant for the more classic Islay flavours of peat and smoke.
As well as the peat and smoke aromas, there was an almost fungal note, of mushroom and earthiness. ‘Applewood cheese’ was also remarked.
On the palate, the mushroom notes are even more prevalent, with an earthy, almost bordering on muddy flavour. Adding water really helped open the whisky up, but again the earthiness was the main impression left.
The finish was long, but not as long as the preceding Ben Nevis. Rounded but overall I don’t think anyone present would have reached for this over the classic Lagavulin 16.
Tasting Notes (Collated from various online user reviews):
Nose: Mushrooms, earthy peat, salt, seaweed. back creamy and vanilla, a hint of cooked lemon, with moist wood bark
Palate: Whilst some woody bitterness comes through the oily mouthfeel, the peat slowly envelops the mouth with a nice burning sensation. Spices, Orange Peel, Cherries and vanilla.
Finish: Develops nicely, and whilst the peat continues, underlying tones of liquorice, seaweed, candied fruit and sherry comes out. Long finish.
A great night, perhaps the whiskies weren't as well received as hoped, particularly the Lagavulin which had big shoes to fill, but a few wee drams in good company never makes for a bad Tuesday night!