Ah, autumn. The turning of the leaves. The smell of wet earth. The first frost, and being able to see your breath in the mornings. Treading in dogshit on the way home because it’s dark after 5pm and no-one’s cleared the rotting leaves off the pavement. Roving squads of chavs letting off fireworks for a month, even during the day.
And, just like the clocks going back, more effing tube strikes.
For non-UK readers I should explain that every year around this time, the population of London is held to ransom and massively inconvenienced by the selfish actions of the educationally sub-normal collection of sanctimonious masochists and jumped-up misanthropes who “work” for London Underground.
You know – these nice guys.
It seems that station staff who start on £29k, work a 35 hour week and get 43 days holiday a year for standing around saying ‘Mind the Doors’ and ‘Please stand behind the yellow line’ have decided that a 5% pay increase is unacceptable, and are objecting to proposed cutbacks, given that the economy is doing so well.
Obviously, I don’t want to come across as some frothing reactionary, but it is incredibly irritating not to be able to get to work when we’re so busy. As a result, I’m stuck at home today. Still, at least I’ve got an excuse to put this on (Please note that this vid contains quite a few VERY naughty words, so don’t watch it if you’re easily offended):
Anyway, I’m going to use my time constructively by doing a few blogs reporting on my doings over the last ridiculously busy week in the whisky world. This will be a three-parter, with a full report from last weekend’s Whisky Show to follow shortly and another post on Dominic Roskrow’s launch for his new book (and I’ll talk about the other notable books recently released as well in that one).
First up, though, was the Diageo Special Releases tasting last Thursday. I’ve a lot of ground to cover, so these summaries will be rather brief.
Glenkinchie 20yo: Got slagged off by various colleagues in the trade, but I rather liked it, especially with a drop of water. The price, though, is a bit silly considering the previous release can be had here for less than half the money.
Cragganmore 1989: Worthy, and without flaws, but profoundly dull. Again, this opinion seemed out of step with some of my companions, who thought it was great. I think I just don’t ‘get’ this distillery.
Auchroisk 20yo: Great to see an old Auchroisk. I was worried when the initial nose came over with some burnt toast aromas, but in the end it was fine – very pleasant. My tasting notes are at the office, will try and post proper notes later.
Glen Spey 21yo: One of the stars of the tasting. It mystifies me as to why Diageo don’t do more with this distillery if they can knock out stuff like this. On a rather lame side note, I also really liked the packaging.
Brora 30yo: Unbelievably good. The best OB Brora since the legendary 2004 release, I think. Very mild peat, mind. I loved it. Extremely fruity and the mouthfeel was incredible. Comfortably the best whisky on the night, imo. A great relief – I thought the Brora OBs had had it after the rather ropey 25yo and last year’s so-so 30yo. Emphatically not the case, on this evidence.
Talisker 30yo: Suffered in comparison to the Brora, but I thought it was very nice, without hitting the heights of the 2007 release which is still the benchmark for me. Again, how Diageo plan on selling this 30yo at £235 when various 25yos can be had for about half that price (and with last year’s 30yo still freely available at £20 cheaper) is beyond me.
Port Ellen 1978 10th release: Call me a contrarian, but although this has been praised to the high heavens elsewhere, I just couldn’t get excited about it. I went back for another dram as I was convinced I must be missing something, but no. Perfectly pleasant with no obvious flaws – not much else to report. To be honest, with one or two exceptions, I think these OB PE’s have been in decline for a few years now.
Caol Ila Unpeated 12yo: Was really looking forward to this after last year’s fabulous 10yo. I shoudn’t have got my hopes up. This is a good whisky and worth trying, but nothing to write home about. I was a bit disappointed.
Lagavulin 12yo: See above. Usually a home banker, but failed to live up to its own ridiculously high standards imo. Meh. Still a very nice whisky, of course, but nothing to recommend it over previous releases.
So there you have it – a bit of a mixed bag, with one standout dram and no real stinkers. Next up, I’ll relate my tales of this year’s Whisky Show.