Inside the Bottle: Good Things…

I want more (of the good things) I know that.

As I was contemplating the thoughts and feelings I was having, I was sat with a cask strength whisky as my companion…it’s making me address them.

The strength of this whisky could take my breath away, but only if I let it.

I’m enjoying the scent of this whisky as it reaches my nose. It’s making me smile.

It’s like the air after the rain on a warm day, it delivers a much welcome freshness. There is vanilla and a little honey sweetness. A little cinnamon mixed in with cooked apples… something nutty too. It’s familiar. I like that.

The glass has been sat beside me for hours now, there’s such a lovely scent, floral and inviting. It’s beckoning me to go outside…to experience the outdoors in all its wonder. Maybe it’s time to stop and smell the roses as they say (not that I get roses, just the sentiment.) Although the floral note that’s there, is enticing.

There’s something almost pastry-ish (malty) about this too.

Taking a sip, there’s a little burn. I can feel it as I swallow. I’ll add a few drops of water… (not something I’d normally do.) It can take it.

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Mmmm.. that pastry note comes through on the palate. There’s a lovely sweetness and vanilla again. A lovely smooth mouthfeel goes along with it. Oak spices are peppery, with an almost lemony bitterness.

Well, I’ve spent a good few hours with this. I had another sip the other night as I was finishing this off.

It’s just what I needed.

I’m so grateful that I was given the nod to buy this by my whisky consultant, this from a palate that I trust. And that’s the lovely thing about it too…I am glad I bought a bottle.

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I guess this is the beauty of whisky… It draws me into it. It captivates me with its aroma, and as I sit and appreciate what’s in my glass, it takes me far away from things, and it allows me to appreciate the moments, and curl up in memories (of the good things…..they keep me focused & smiling, I love that, and I need them…oh, how I need them, and I will fight for them.)

Inside the Bottle: Sweet Surrender

Social Distancing: Inside the Bottle

Sweet Surrender

I’m sat here with a dram… it’s an Auchentoshan, and a bottling from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. I picked this one up on an auction site recently.

Sweet Surrender, which spent most of its life, well the first 15 years of it in an ex-bourbon hogshead, it was then transferred into a 1st fill Oloroso hogshead.

It’s really got a deliciously sweet nose, and yes, this is cask strength – 56.5%. Deliciously sweet coffee and vanilla…its aroma is filling the air around me.. a little hug of scent, which always makes me smile.

The weather has been quite a cool after a good few days of sunshine, those dreamy blue skies and soft white clouds what I wish I could just float away on….

I’ve got to say, we’ve had some wonderful weather recently, even though the mornings have been somewhat foggy and frosty, it has always improved. Perhaps you have ventured outside, safely, because you have to work? If you’ve had to go out to work, then I hope you remain safe. Maybe you’re able to live somewhere where you can get out for walk, or have a garden, then I hope you’ve enjoyed it…even for a short spell!! It is so good for the soul & it takes us away from the here and now!!

A couple of days ago the sunshine gave way to cooler weather, and thankfully it’s raining now, which saves me watering the garden, every cloud and all that. I’m so glad I have done all of it, it was a good time to do some thinking… some recollection, and just being me. I’ve read a book by my favourite author Milly Johnson in between writing this. I love her stories, I read another this time last year too, that just hit home.

Some of my thoughts need a little work, and some are just there, happily resting in the places of my mind, and thinking about these bring forth feelings that make my heart smile.

So, it is now a couple of days later, and I’ve just poured myself another dram of this whisky, there are some lovely spices coming through on the nose too. I’m still enjoying those other aromas from the other night…there is something really appealing to my senses… hints of fruit and very well worn leather, some very light nutty notes too. There is a scent that reminds me of perfume/aftershave…

Now where was I? Ah yes…social distancing.

Thankfully those that understand the seriousness of this situation are adhering to all the advice and toeing the line. Some aren’t and we can only hope that the penny finally drops, or something makes it drop for them. These inconsiderate idiots (I could use stronger words) are the last thing we need… get a bloody grip, stay home, and stay the hell away from me when I have to shop for essentials. I think I need a 2 metre stick to prod them with.

We really need this to pass before the world loses any more loved ones, friends or colleagues. We also need to return to normal, whatever this new normal will be. I for one, and I know I’m not alone in feeling this, I desperately miss being out and about, I’m especially missing the whisky side of life. So, between me and you, if you see me re-posting my older blogs, then understand that I have just reread them, and for a moment I am back to where I was, and I am sharing them with whoever is kind enough to read them..

I just hope we don’t rush getting back to normalhowever much I’m champing at the bit. Safety has to come first. I’m really concerned about Mum, she turns 89 at the weekend. News from the nursing home is that all is well, but she’s so painfully frail, and that’s the reality of the situationand I hope others with elderly relatives or those with challenged immune systems are safe, and well.

I’ve picked up my glass again… Mmmm a lot of sugar when I’m taking a sniff… it’s just lovely, it’s making me smile, always a good thing. It’s almost peachy...and there’s a dark chocolatey fruity character too. And some lovely spices… it’s really revealing itself layer by layer.

and I’m thinking “I hope the miles soon melt away”.

Hmmm, it has a nice mouthful… a delicious warmth from the spices, that dark fruity chocolate aroma translates to a bitterness on the tongue, accompanied by a little orange. And this balances any sweetness.

It has to be said, it’s a really nice feeling, you know, having something delicious in your mouth, something you can savour before you swallow. The finish leaves a lingering bitterness.. and a little chocolatey note.

…as I’ve finished this dram I poured, I’m sat wondering about when we might return to this new “normal”. It will be so wonderful to see faces of loved ones and friends… feel arms envelop each of us as we meet once more. A hug, a friendly kiss, and if it’s coming from me, you get a Dutch kiss, that’s three times... I’m like that.

I recalled these scenes in my mind this morning (Saturday 2nd May) as I was just finishing this up… I think we will see scenes like these playing out right in front of our eyes…

I guess I’ll finish with this, be safe and wise if you have to go out,  your idea of 2 metres is someone else’s 12 inches…!! Clap for the NHS and carers on a Thursday evening. Donate to charities if you are able to, you could even shout thank you to those who carry out the day to day jobs for us, like the bin men and the postie (I do!!)

If you can, say hello to people, care for elderly neighbours and check if they need any assistance. My neighbour and I have a policy of waving to one another each day, in addition to phone calls.  As well as checking her blinds are open, we ensure she is well.

This will pass soon. I do think this will change the way we live too. These recent times have been tough, mundane, scary, heartbreaking… and life altering.

Just remember, journeys may change…

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Inside the Bottle: Auchentoshan Distillery Exclusive

Auchentoshan distillery and their delicious exclusives have been on my radar for a few years now. I have also been fortunate to have secured some bottlings from auctions as well as having them posted to me… yes a little expensive, but you gotta do what you gotta do. You know?

I managed to visit the Auchentoshan Distillery in 2018, and it was more than worth the wait, and I was lucky to enjoy a tour for one. I absolutely loved having the opportunity to use a valinch to bottle my own… that little beauty was cask #4485 which is a first fill Oloroso cask, which in my opinion is one that takes me to a lovely place when I pour myself a dram.

The distillery was built in 1800, changing hands over the years it was eventually bought by Eadie Cairns in 1969 who rebuilt it completely.

In 1984 it was then sold to Morrison Bowmore, which then saw investment from Suntory in 1989 before acquiring 100% of its holdings in 1994.

The merger between Beam Inc. and Suntory (Holdings Ltd.) created Beam Suntory who are now the owners.

Do you remember the first time your lips were touched with something that made you smile? The time that you had, you know, the one where you spent it with something that heightened your senses, and everything kind of made sense…?

I can.

I had just celebrated a milestone with my company, and rather than a rolled gold pen… I opted for travel vouchers and took myself off to the Lake District, or more precisely Keswick for a week away from life.

I had a gorgeous little cottage with a massive bed, a fire and wonderful views. All for me…. and it was just what I needed.

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Once I had finally mastered the art of lighting a fire, the room was aglow with the flames, just me, some music and peace. I poured myself a dram, and yes I smiled.

I was doing something I hadn’t done before…or probably something I hadn’t ‘consciously’ done before… I was aware I was intrigued by the colour; dark copper and mahogany. An aroma was filling the air around me.. it was full of dark fruit, a hint of leather, coffee, dark chocolate, candied orange and more… then I heard a whisper, it was telling me to sip.

I did, and I kind of fell in love with what I had in my hand… bliss!!

I’ve been captivated by a few whiskies now, and I know it is because these take me back to times I want to remember… or to daydreams or whatever.

I often use terms like ‘smiles in a glass’, or ‘smiles in a bottle’ and that’s a true sentiment.

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I am sentimental, and that’s okay. Quiet days and quiet times lead me to these recollections. Whether I have had my dram at a festival, a tasting, at home, or I’ve taken to enjoy in a hotel room, there are those that keep me thinking ‘I want more, much much more’… anyway, I’ve poured a dram… I’m off for one of those moments…!!

This review took me Inside the Bottle...

This Auchentoshan Distillery Exclusive – was distilled on the 13th February 2008, and bottled in May 2019, it’s 10 years old and was in a first fill Oloroso Sherry butt. It is a mighty 61.1%…

This has a lovely rich mahogany colour.

A deliciously deep plum and stewed fruit aroma greets your senses… There is some fig too… and black cherry. There’s a hint of soft brown sugar. A lovely scent of wood. A lovely sweetness is drawing me in. Coffee and leather make an appearance too.

The palate is full and rich…lovely cake spices, bitter dark chocolate, with caramel. Burnt sugar. Dark fruits, and delicious woody spice. Orange rind. Coffee again… a pleasant mouthfeel.

The finish is reassuringly good. Dark chocolate and dark fruits remain.

Despite the cask strength I don’t add water, I enjoy whiskies like this as they come. I delight in what they reveal to me over and over again…different times give different pleasures.

Slàinte!

An Evening with Two Auchentoshans – That Boutique-y Whisky Company

That Boutique-y Whisky Company – Auchentoshan 24 Year Old and 25 Year Old

My First Sip of Boutique-y Whisky

Auchentoshan is a distillery which has been on my whisky radar since 2016. Similarly so has Boutique-y Whisky or That Boutique-y Whisky Company for its “official” title, or the shortened form TBWC…

Let me digress a moment… Dave Worthington or “guv’nor” as I like to call him (and yes I once sent him a DM to make sure he was happy with this title…) has been a Twitter friend since possibly 2011 / 2012 yet it wasn’t until September 10th 2016 that I eventually met him. I was a rather more nervous / shy (yes me shy, you better believe it) festival attendee back then (and this was my first festival), so I was still outside the entrance to the Ebor Stand at York Racecourse waiting for the festival to start when I first spotted Dave. I had a hug and said hello. It wouldn’t be till later that day that I would finally have my first try of some “boutique-y” whisky.

Anyway, I went and sat on a wall across from the entrance to the Ebor Stand and sat in the sun…that was a very lovely moment too. One I won’t forget… God only knows where my thoughts were as I realised I had left my phone sat on the wall and had to go back and retrieve it. Plonker!! It was a lovely day though… right, back to today.

My whisky consultant had suggested I try the Auchentoshan 25 year old from That Boutique-y Whisky Company. So I bought a bottle, then I bought the 24 year old… also on the recommendation of Sorren, I call it balanced drinking. And well, then I sat with both of them and this is what I thought.

Sitting with these delicious examples

Let’s get the down-low on these:

24 Year Old – 50.6% Batch #4 a release of 542 bottles

25 Year Old – 48.6% Batch #3 a release of 135 bottles

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Auchentoshan 25 year old

I will write this as I tasted them (the 25 year old then the 24 year old.)

The nose had a lovely citrus kick with orange and spice. It had a biscuit-y scent and a little creamy note to it too…this combined with a delicious light sweetness. On the palate, there was an initial spiciness along with the biscuit which I had on the nose. I felt there was a slight white pepperiness to this and some lovely oak flavours…

While sampling I was going between both whiskies as I was sat writing.

The finish was slightly dry with a lovely sweetness along with a slight bitter flavour remaining.

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Auchentoshan 24 year old

The 24 year old… I felt this had an ever so slightly softer nose against the 25 year old.

The nose has a lovely caramel note, it has orange again, but it’s more delicate than that of the 25 year old… there was a slight hint of something floral (I wrote freesias – don’t ask) and grass. There was a little apple with a slight dustiness (good thing) and a lovely delicate vanilla with a lovely deep sweetness.

I found the palate was just that little bit smoother… a little more vanilla coming through and a delicious warming spice.

It had a slightly oaky dryness and a delicious little bitterness which was peppery but pleasant. The finish was warming and softly sweet.

Can I say which I prefer? They are both equally nice, and a perfect way to sit and enjoy a couple of drams and play a game of spot the difference with the labels too…

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Lovely Pair

Other releases I love

I have a few Auchentoshan distillery own bottlings at home now which are Oloroso Sherry Cask / PX so it has been nice to try some Bourbon Cask offerings as well (not my first I hasten to add, there is also the SMWS A Date With Cleopatra (bourbon finished in PX cask.))

Anyway I am glad I have the opportunity to buy some lovely releases from Boutique-y Whisky. And Dave and his sometimes hirsute partner in crime Sorren make lovely neighbours at festivals (or is that Roly-Poly and his Tinky Winky) but I am sure they get along nicely…

I will end with this, if you can try some of the whiskies then do, if you can get hold of some of the fabulous artwork that the ever so talented Emily Chappell creates then keep them, frame them, and show them off.

 

York Racecourse September 2016 – View from the Ebor Stand
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