The last tasting was a bit wobbly - I broke a golden rule (twice) never pour without first trying. Oh well. Only about 15 of us attended which is a bit rubbish as we've been enjoying good attendances since we dropped to a once every 3 and not 2 weeks schedule.
We started with Dramfool's 21yo Tobermory which I felt warranted its inclusion as nobody I poured it to before had anything properly negative to say about it. As I've probably reported before I allow one 'academic' over 'hedonistic' dram in a tasting so felt within my rights. Having had the bottle at home and tested and re-tested maybe I should have listened to myself and used it as a bonus 6th dram. It wasn't bad just a bit all over the place. Nobody came close to guessing the age which could be considered as the 'oh that's interesting' moment - illustrating to those who still believe age is everything and older is better and time in the cask always discernible.
Onwards : Signatory 1987 29yo Caledonian closed Edinburgh grain. This is the first dram of the night I hadn't test driven - it's difficult to sample everything I'd like to but I'd better think that one through as while the dram was fine it fell short of my expectations of an aged grain which I know can be wonderful, unfortunately I wasn't the only one with this disappointment. Some took to it though. The class did show in spots here and there but ideally the complete package of harmonious cask, grain, time and spirit would have presented itself. Nice (if sad) to try another 'ghost', especially a local one with such an interesting history. The challenge of keeping the ticket price down and still taste closed distilleries is not getting any easier.
Next was the Bladnoch Samsara - I like to include new releases in order that those curious to try new drams but for whatever reason don't want to buy a bottle can see what's happening. I find the shift in style from Bladnoch of old to current really interesting - can anyone explain where the citrus, fresh grassy notes have gone and where the fuller body has appeared from? If I had to guess I'd say a combination of change to the yeast variety coupled with an adjustment to fermentation time.
Next was a solid Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 6, not as balanced as the previous two full strength sherry beauties but fine nevertheless. could this be Rachel Barrie's first attempt?
Finally the show stopper - a private cask of Port Charlotte from my mate Sascha. Fantastic. I wish I'd kept more of it but I felt it had to be shared to make up for the shortcomings of some of the other pours.....
Well for the next tasting we'll be trying the 2nd oldest whisky ever poured in the 15 + years of these tastings (52yo- the oldest was a 54yo G&M 1954 Mortlach - unless I've forgotten another one), it's a pretty early vintage too - 1964, not just that but it's from a closed distillery we've only once tried before- a single cask single grain at full strength (40.8%) and one of only 50 bottles filled. If that isn't enough its the most expensive whisky I've bought for the tastings at £225. I know all this doesn't mean it's going to be good but hey it's got the word 'arse' in its name:- Carsebridge (closed 1983) bottled by our pal Dramfool. Bottler's description of the dram.
There will also be a mystery Islay single cask at full strength - my guess is Lagavulin, yup its proepr secret.
Also another 'then and now' experiment: we recently tried a couple of Glencadams bottled about 10 years apart and with differing bottling principles. It was interesting to see which one appealed more so let's do it again, I'll keep the single malt unknown to prevent any pre-judging.
Finally there will be a sherry cask (or similar) dram which I've yet to decide on but maybe something like the latest Tamdhu Batch strength.
All that for just £25.