Archives from my "Last 10 Drams List"
Here's the archives from the lists of my last drams from the home page.
Really just a snapshot since these are only the last 10 from whenever I overcome
inertia and do some updating to the digital HDI... seldom happens when I'm in a serious dramming mood
and have company.
I think it will do a
good job of framing how my favorites change over time though and maybe even
encourage me to pour some sadly neglected bottles in the HDI.
"Drams" here means
any hard liquor including gin, vodka, rye, bourbon and so forth.
I'm an equal opportunity drammer!
Ok, to wrap up this Ardbegfest, I'm
going to taste the new 10 yo distilled after the
distillery was reopened by Glenmo in 1997.
This bottle code is all over New England and if you
start searching for A10 bottle codes I think you'll find
this code most everywhere. It will be interesting to see
what bottle codes Ryan has on the shelf tomorrow. I've
noticed lately when I open the boxes to check the codes
there are often fingerprints on the bottle already...
and so it goes! Sorry for smudging your Ardbegs Ryan!
L7 295 13:39 4 ML (bottled 10/22/07)
Ardbeg 10 yo, 46%
Nose: Ahh, this is young in your face Ardbeg again. No
messing around. Peat is more balanced than some of the
other bottlings we tried tonight and seems to provide
aspects of many of my favorite peat characterisics
including smoke, dirt, seaweed and heather. Overlaid on
a malty sweet base that has an edge of carmelly
spiciness. Complex for such a young dram.
Palate: Wow - smoke predominates in the front with spicy
astringency on the mid to back palate. Another huge dram
where it's hard to tell where the palate ends and the
finish begins. Again, more complex than I expected and
I'm quite pleased.
Finish: Waves of smoke roll off the palate to provide a
monster finish that just doesn't quit. Kind of leaves
you with a sense of singed tasty malt at the end that
makes you think you survived an extraordinary experience
only due to dumb luck. Another Ardbeg where you're
perfectly contented to sit there savoring the finish or
having another. It's all good.
Conclusions: This is another bottle I wasn't too
impressed with when I opened it back in early December
but am blown away with today.
Let's try something else to baseline this dram - I pour
a dram of the Renaisssance (Bottle Code L8 121
03:52 4ML - UK Release at 70 cl and 55.9%).
Nose is amazingly similar even with the much higer
proof. So we water it down to about 46%... and they're
almost impossible to tell apart. The Ren has a slight
bit more complexity on the nose but I wonder if this is
psychological since I know which is which? Difference is
that close. In a minute or 2 I'm getting a slightly
spicier edge on the Ren now. Palates definitely share
lots of similar characteristics although we're now
getting citrus from the Ren where we're not on the A10
which is sticking close to it's peaty character.
Although similar, the Ren is more complex and lighter
than this A10 but you can clearly see that the malt
characteristics are very similar. I just think they
cherry picked casks for the Ren here and used the cast
offs for the A10... I'm so grateful! The Ren pulls
further away as it opens up and the Ardbeg strange
attractor thing starts to kick in. I'm not worthy!
Bottom line - even though we're talking about finding
older ardbegs using the bottle codes this new bottling
is really good and stands up to these older A10
bottlings. The new Glenmo Ardbegs are worthy... Let's
just hope they don't become ultra luxury items and are
priced out of the reach of normal humans.
L3 170 10:10 4ML (bottled 6/19/03)
Ardbeg 10 yo, 46%
Nose: Mentholish peaty anaesthesia. There's something
really spicy and hidden back there too, bacon fat, vicks,
and a smoking fireplace (well, a peat stoked fire...)
Ever been to Bowmore during the fall on a cold day when
they're heating the houses with peat and peat smoke
hangs over the town? That's what I'm talking about.
Palate: Dirty peat - almost neutral from a sweetness
perspective. This dram is all peat all the time. And the
type of peat I call dirty peat - no seaweed, no heather,
no smoke - just peat and dirt. Which I like a lot.
There's something sweet on the midpalate that tries
desparately to come up from the depths but the dirty
peat beats it back into the murky expanse every time.
Finish: Dry finish with a little less dirt and some more
complex sweeter malty flavors sneaking in from the
edges. Peat falls off and finally allows that sweeter
component to break through.
Conclusions: Fairly straight ahead young monster ardbeg..
the way I like 'em! Interesting since it has both the
muscular structure of the younger bottlings with some
evidence of older whiskys showing up late in the game on
the finish. This is another good one that would work
well for a snowshoeing expedition to the back 40
midwinter. You'd survive no matter what happened.
Ok, next we drop back a bit and HtH two A10s bottled
almost 3.5 years apart:
L6 314 10:29 4ML (bottled 11/10/06)
Ardbeg 10 yo, 46%
Nose: Indistinguishable between these two bottlings on
pouring - have to be careful not to mix these glasses
up! L3 seems a "little" more in your face but you have
to look really hard. Ok, after 3 minutes or so the L6 is
shifting dramatically and getting sweeter as the peat
falls to the side - never noticed it dropping off this
fast before but normally don't start paying attention as
soon as I pour my dram either. Completely different from
the L3 now and very delicate smoked fruits - peaches and
cherries. That was a wild shift in only 5 minutes - this
bottle's only been opened 1 month where the L3 has been
open since last July 4 and is down to about 1/3, so it's
fairly stable now.
Palate: Sweet peat again and perfectly balanced - this
L6 is giving the L7 143 a run for it's money tonight.
Beautiful dram that dances on your palate leaving waves
of smoked honey, dark fermented fruits, and whisps of
flowery accents. I'm stunned... this is awesome.
Finish: Perfect and similarly overlapping with the
palate like the L7. Lots of complexity, lots of changes
and lots of perfection.wow
Conclusions: I didn't like this one when we opened it up
in mid-January but tonight it may well be the star. I'm
going to have to dram this against the L7 to see if I'm
losing my mind.
L5 110 17:50 4VL (bottled 4/20/05) Ardbeg
10 yo, 46%
Nose: No sweetness here - this is more seaweedy peat and
a real maritime background overall. More aggressive nose
and seems higher proof than the L7 as well but both are
46%. Opening up and getting more forceful as it
breathes. Dark sherry starting to show up strongly as
Palate: Dryer crispy heavier peat than the L7 and
noticeably less complex - the palate shifts a bit but
still remains relatively linear. Starts strong and blows
right across your palate leaving piles of peat scattered
in it's wake. Really tasty peat on a delicate sherry
base. Refill sherry casks vatted in this one?.
Finish: Another monster and almost as long as the L7 -
still more linear and a bit less complex. The maritime
character falls off fairly quickly and all you're left
with is tasty peaty sherried tinged happiness.
Conclusions: This dram presents more like the older
classic 10 yo but with some added bonus from some older
malts, but I think the age here is younger than the 2
bottling years between these two bottles. Don't get me
wrong, I like this dram and would buy more - I just LOVE
the L7 143...
This first HtH is bottled about 2
years apart and both are US releases.
L7 143 09:06 4ML (bottled 5/23/07)
Ardbeg 10 yo, 46%
Nose: Sweet peat almost candied, faint heather on the
edges. Returning from the A5 there's substantively less
peat on the nose - I think I'm getting more of the malt
which is the sweetness I'm catching here.
Palate: more peat here than on the nose but not really
overwhelming, just everywhere. Slightly sooty on the
back palate and malty zestiness on the midpalate that
lasts maybe 30 seconds.
Finish: Huge, chewy, shifting peat complexity. This is
Ardbeg once the edges have been rounded off. Slightly
astringent with a touch of citrus near the end. Major
overlap between palate and finish here - they simply
Conclusions: I just love this A10 bottling and wish I
had more. Excellent balance between younger peat and
older deep complexity. Slightly sour edge on the back
finish but kind of interesting since it strongly
suggests another dram. Tonight I'm thinking there must
be some younger malt here to account for the peat but
mostly it's older Ardbeg. Wonderful. As always.
|January 20, 2009 Update
Here's my post A10 dramming log tracking which are all
the new bottles from the Holistic Dramming Institute's bunkers
that we opened at A10:
Ardbeg 11 yo, 1993-May 2005, Bourbon Hogshead, 57.4%, 70
cl, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection. This bottle
was purchased at the Cadenhead's shop on the Royal Mile at the
end of the 2005 PLOWED Pildrammage to Scotland. The
shopkeeper told us we got their last 2 bottles. First time
I've tried this dram too - hardly got touched at A10 and we
brought back 4/5 of a bottle. You know the s'tample drill
- this is the only bottle of this release we'll ever own.
Huge young Ardbeg with a monster peaty nose. This is a
bourbon casked beauty that's a bit more linear than typical
sherry casked Ardbegs. Dryer, crisper peat here that
smacks your palate around and lingers with a very long finish,
but less complex than the other Ardbegs we opened for A10.
Reminds me a lot of the Ellenstown 10 yo bottling with that
dryer charcoal like peat character. With water it opens
nicely and gets a bit sweeter, but this is still a muscular
straight ahead bourbon casked Ardbeg monster. Huge finish
both with and without water that ends up in dirt and charcoal
after a few minutes. Ummmmm.
Ardbeg, 21 yo, Committee Dram 2002, 56.3%, 70 cl, OB
- Another beauty we bought at
distillery during Feis Ile in 2002. This was my last
bottle, I think Sister Haggis may have one left in the HDI.
More good news - this one came back 2/3 full so once again -
we'll pull a 240 ml s'tample off this soon. Light,
sweetish / spicy peaty nose that's quite complex... gets
dirty as it opens up. Palate is peatier than I expected it
to be for a 21 yo. Alcohol is high tho so we toss in a
touch of water. ..sweet gingery peat now. Add more water
down to about 50% it smooths out nicely and the nose/palate goes
spicy peat. huge finish with a distinct slow fade of peat.
nice. haven't had one of these open since 2003.
The Brorageddon, 30 yo, 3/72-2/03, 50.8%, 75 cl, Douglas
Laing, PLOWED Bottling -
ahh, one of my favorite PLOWED Bottlings, one of the best Broras
I've ever tasted and best of all -we brought 1/2 bottle home
from A10! Haven't had a bottle of this awesome dram open
since our last 4th of July bash when we killed off all the
remaining s'tamples. Another dram to pour a 240 ml
s'tample off sooner than later. Only have 3 of these left
in the bunker and this is my kind of sherry. Deep, spicy,
rich, complex sherry marbled with classic dry heathery peat.
a finish that climbs through your entire body and ends up in
your nostrils with a subtle mentholish edge. I love this
dram and I'll cry when I don't have any left.
Bruichladdich Peat, NAS, 46%, 70 cl, OB - a
multivintage Bruichladdich vatting of
______________________ (I forget and have to find the details -
not on the packaging and I pulled it off the web) This dram is
reportedly a classic heavily peated 'Laddich that's been matured
in x-bourbon casks. Let's see... didn't try this at A10.
Huge peaty nose with Octomore like peat predominant. Also
a sweet ardbeggy background smoke that underlays everything.
Palate is less peaty which is surprising. There's
certainly lots of peat there but it seems balanced and totally
in proportion. Bourbon cask maturing gives this dram a
perfect balance and it has a very dry peat finish that has hints
of seaweed and heather. First impressions very good - need
to spend some more time with this dram.
Moidart 21 yo, 46% 70 cl, Cadenhead's - 2002
PLOWED Scotland Pildrammage FOAF
- found piles of these beauties in both the Edinburgh and
Campbeltown Cadenhead's shops. These are older vatted
malts bottled at 21, 25 and 30 years old that are primarily
ancient springbank, you know - that pre-closure classic
coconutty Springer that make your palate sing and bring tears to
your eyes dancing on top of a subtle base of islay peatiness.
This 21 yo bottling is astonishing and much better than I
remembered. Has a slighty sour off finish note that I
attribute to the Islay component but it's still all good.
This is my last bottle and it emerged from A10 >3/4 full.
Pulling a 240 ml s'tample off this one for our next bottle ASAP.
|Highland Park 30 yo, 43%, 70 cl, The MacPhail's
Collection (G&M) - this was
one of our Scotland 2005
FOAFs that many of us brought back home that trip. We discovered this dram in the Pot Still on our first day in
Glasgow which was the site of Slur Dave's super, over the top
dramming session the day we arrived that lasted from when the
bar opened at 3 pm and ended around 1 am when they cheerfully
stopped serving him. We really need to write up this
but I digress - we killed the open bottle (barely touched when
we started) over 3 days at the Potstill and immediately started
searching for more in our travels across Scotland.
This is an amazingly complex and moreish Highland Park that
drams more like a cask strength bottling than a 43% release.
Sweet/spicy candy nose with only a touch of peat, huge malty
palate that's sweet but not cloying with a finish that doesn't
quit. I'm not a big sherried whisky fan but his sherry
monster is simply perfect. I'm still dramming the end of
this glass at 10:30 on Sunday morning while writing this up and
it's even better after being opened all night. I wish I
had more... Need to rack off a 120 ml s'tample today
to serve as our "next bottle".
with Sister Haggis
We sat down today to taste through a pile of new gins we've acquired for
the Gin/Genever Reference Library in the HDI. Here are our initial
tasting notes - all these bottles were opened today so none have had
time to breath much yet.
Genever Style Gin, Essay 0-SSG-GM-1, 47.3%, Anchor Distilling, San
Francisco Nose: New make
/ clearic – that distinctive edge that disappears when aged in wood.
Lark vomit. [Now, DrE, I don’t want to know HOW you know what
Lark Vomit smells like…]
Palate: Better than the nose,
not as much of a young character.
Citrus, a bit sour on the back of the palate.
Drams hotter than 47%.
Finish: Slightly bitter and
very long – touch of brinish salt on finish as well.
Pleasant really – interesting dram overall
Conclusions: Need more
research but ok for a non aged spirit.
Wouldn’t want to drink too much in one sitting though.
Essay 7-DDG-GNS-1, 49.5% , Anchor Distilling, San Francisco
Nose: Much smoother than
the Genevieve. Well balanced
and no new make characteristics.
Spicy deep nose with lots of juniper.
Palate: Nicely balanced with
less juniper on the palate than on the nose.
Botanicals very subtle with none of the single spices dominating.
Very linear progression from palate to finish – this gin is
Finish: Huge finish
that’s again fairly linear and quite pleasant.
Slightly bitter and very long – touch of brinish salt on finish
as well. Pleasant really –
interesting dram overall.
Conclusions: This is a top shelf
gin that we keep going back to.
Mixes well and drams spectacularly by itself.
Need to research how old this is since it has the structure of
being aged in wood for some length of time – 3 – 5 years is my guess?
45%, Rogue Spirits. Newport OR
Nose: Subtle Pine nose
predominates. Lemony Citrus
Palate: Very subtle minty,
mentholish feeling on the palate without the mint/menthol taste.
Lightly spicy that changes quite a bit on the palate.
No botanicals like most gins – this one is pure fir forest.
Finish: Mentholish and
slightly spruce-like. Very
clean and huge – makes you want to take another sip after a short bit.
After about 3 minutes the finish goes cold metal.
Conclusions: I expected to
hate this one and actually like it quite a bit.
Interesting to see a gin with apparently only a small amount of
the traditional botanicals.
Need to mix this one to continue testing, testing, testing…
Gin, 45%, Rogue Spirits. Newport OR
Nose: Stronger than
Spruce Gin and red winey component clearly present.
Nose is not integrated well and the pine / wine combination seem
to be kicking each other’s butt and generally trashing the joint.
Palate: Wow, even more
disharmony here and the Pine / Wine elements are rolling around in a
death struggle on the floor now.
Very peculiar palate that changes tremendously over a minute or
so. Too bad I don’t like any
of the places it goes.
Sour phase that goes citrus in the middle is particularly bothersome.
Finish: Sour and
mildly unpleasant. Lingering
fragments of the pinot grapes and some weird transformation of the
spruce gin tasted above.
No interest in revisiting this glass after learning that it’s all
weird, all the time.
understanding is that this is the spruce gin listed above that we liked
so much that was seasoned in pinot barrels.
No mention of how long or how much pinot was left in the barrel.
Color is a clear pinkish orange and fairly dark.
The pinot barrel seasoning completely ruined this gin for me.
Just opened it today so I’ll test mixing with it and see how it
opens up with time.
Eau De Vie
of Douglas Fir, 47.73%, Clear Creek Distillery, Portland, OR
Color: Had to write this
up for the Douglas Fir Dram – color is a slightly opaque greenish color
with white floaters that are density neutral (they suspend where they
end up and don’t sink).
Nose: Oh My God –
this is a fresh Christmas tree in a glass.
After a minutes it’s starting to smell like cutting live pines
with a chainsaw and tossing them on a very hot fire.
This pine blows away the strongest retsinas I’ve ever encountered
as well. I keep
looking at my hands expecting to see pitch when I put the glass down.
Palate: I’m afraid…
well, here goes – not unexpectedly lots of resin heavy pine that
goes up into your nose as well.
Serious menthol here and it’s both tactile and olfactory.
Eau de Vie comes out on the back palate and exhibits signs of
very young distillate.
That new make finish here.
[I found it a little sweet and flowery.]
Finish: Huge menthol that
falls off pretty quickly and leaves you with that pine taste in the back
of your throat. Pretty
linear – too bad it’s not better.
Overall impression is astringent numbness. [Ditto the astringent
numbness. Odd flowery sweetness continues.
Conclusions: One off dram
that’s a curiosity but noting I’d be interested in dramming or mixing
with (I don’t think so but probably should toss some into some tonic to
see what happens.) I think
this will be our only bottle.
Neill, London Dry Gin, 42%
Nose: Classic London Dry
Gin Nose. Juniper and lime
on top of a subtle botanical base.
Palate: Perfectly balanced
but lemon here instead of lime like on the nose.
Again, perfect spicy, warm, almost
chewy complexity. No
flaws that I can detect.
Finish: Fairly subtle but
long and intriguing.
Hints of pepper come and go on the edges.
Disappears into nothingness in about 3-4 minutes.
Conclusion: Nice and one to
keep in stock. I’ll bet this
mixes awesomely as well.
Small Batch Gin, Batch 07-07, 40%, Ann Arbor, MI
Nose: Very dry
nose with pine predominant and juniper in the background.
Not much else from botanicals that I can detect.
No trace of clearic in the nose here.
Palate: Sweet on entry and
then lemon astringency.
Starts a bit off and then goes odd.
Finish: Very long
finish with pine again on the far back palate that lingers, but turns a
bit sour. Never ends
but I wish it were better.
impressions not so impressed, but not turned off enough not to try
again. Bottled opened
tonight so maybe needs to open up for a bit.
Botanicals really subdued and pine predominant, but nothing like
the Rogue or Cedar Creek bottlings tasted earlier.
Drams from Saturday night 1/10/09
Ardbeg Renaissance, 10 yo, 55.9%, OB -
Has a hard time holding up to the 33.71, drammed these in the wrong
Ardbeg 10 yo, 5/98-8/08, 55.8%, Bottling 33.71, SMWS. AWESOME
- this dram keeps getting better as it opens up. Very happy.
Had 3 of these in a row to give the bottle some "headspace".
|Ardbeg Blasda, NAS, 40%, OB - Chillfiltered
and "underproof" - I like this dram early in the
session before you have any cask strength drams.
Dramming with Ryan - This was a GREAT session...
Laphroaig, 18 yo, 3/88-10/06,61.9%, Cask Ref 2281,OMC -
Laphroaig 11 yo, 10/95-8/08, 58.2%. Bottling
Laphroaig 30 yo 43%,OB - Wow! I
forgot how amazingly perfect this dram is!
Springbank 10 yo, Vintage 1997, 2nd Release,
St Magadeline (Linlithgow), 1975-1999, 56.3%,
Highland Park 21 yo, 47.5%, OB - duty free only.and a
must buy when passing through Heathrow. This HP is absolutely
Longmorn 16 yo, 48%, OB - disappointed and have written
myself a note to try to get ahold of some of the old 15 yo this bottling
replaced. Beautiful packaging though!
Ardbeg Corryvreckan, NAS, 57.1%, OB
Totally blew away the Renaissance but the SMWS 33.71 held up better.
The 'vreckan rocks and I'm kicking myself for not getting any...
Ardbeg 10 yo, 5/98-8/08, 55.8%, Bottling 33.71, SMWS.
This is another great Ardbeg that's all huge creosote, tarry monster - a
prime evil malt complex in your glass. I'm in love again!
Ardbeg Renaissance, 10 yo, 55.9%, OB I thought I
had died and gone to heaven until I tasted the Corryvreckan and the SMWS
33.71. Now I have bottle envy!
Octomore, 5 yo, 46%, 10/16/02-4/08, Buffalo Trace
X-Bourbon Cask, OB Futures - first bottling. Not as peaty as I
expected but tasty and well balanced for such a young malt. More
peat with a couple of drops of water on both the nose and palate
Good but not what I had expected. Did a HTH against a 4 month old
sample of Octomore from Whiskies of the World 2003 tasting panel run by
Jim McEwan and it was a lot peatier and in your face.
|1/1/09 UPDATE and FIRST
|Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist, 18 yo, 1990, 46% -
UK L8 253 **** (just opened tho)
|Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist, 16 yo, 1990, 46% -
US L6 256 ***** (opened ~4 weeks)
|Springbank 15 yo, 46% - Black label, UK 2005
|Springbank 15 yo, 46% - Tan Label, UK 2002
|Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist, 16 yo, 1990, 46% -
US L6 256
|Ardbeg Renaissance, 10 yo, 1998, 55.9%, OB -
currently, my favorite dram open in the HDI - Ardbeg is BACK!
|Ardbeg Blasda, NAS, 40%, OB - Chillfiltered
|Ardmore Traditional Cask, 46%, OB
William Larue Weller,
11 yo, 62.65%, Buffalo Trace Antique Collection - Fall 2008 release. My current favorite from the 2008
releases so far.
|Four Roses 40th Rutledge Commemorative,
Barrel 17-1C, Warehouse 55, 51.4%