Gordon & MacPhail never disappoints. And while it would have been nice to have someone from the team at WhiskyLive Singapore like in 2016, their whiskies spoke loud and clear. While just a sniff, swish and move on, it was still terrific to have a quick insight into a trio of lovely drams.
Whisky Live’s Collector’s Room was such a terrific experience at the Singapore 2016 event. I couldn’t wait to see what treasures would be available to purchase a small dram…
However it was quite the scaled back version… no delightful fully separate “Collector’s Room“. Instead it was a simple bar area with a row of whiskies on offer. Those we considered started at SGD80 a glass… we decided to try two and share… it was not an easy decision.
My companion settled on:
Yamazaki 12 year (1996/2009) Cask No AX70012 Sherry Butt 60% (Whisky Live Japan 10 year anniversary edition)
Nose – Sherry explosion… one even said headache inducing
Palate – Almost overwhelming, woody, spice, all the dark fruits, black cherry, phenomenal
Finish – What a fabulous finish!
Water – Opens it up further, bringing balance
It was truly intense, dense, rich and almost on the edge of being too… everything! Remarkable, unforgettable and worth trying… once.
Nose – Peat, sour, overripe fruit, a bit of varnish, old and musty, then these darker qualities dissipated to be replace instead by vanilla, bananas, an almost briney quality that then became quite sweet
Palate – Spice, peat, sweet and much softer than anticipated from the nose
Finish – Long peat, sweet and spicy finish
We remarked on how very different it was from the Caol Ila style of today.
A certain word has entered our vocabulary – “Voluntold” – where one is rather enthusiastically volunteered for an activity or responsibility… accompanied by a fairly heavy undercurrent of being “told” to step up and “volunteer”….
Original credit goes to a dear friend from Winnipeg who “voluntold” her husband to be the official photographer at our wedding. Given he’s both a brilliant filmmaker and photographer, the results were spectacular, very welcome and the best possible gift!
Since then it has stuck.
And with some marvellous applications… including a recent innocent and offhand “suggestion” to a fellow whisky aficionado for an upcoming Bombay Malt & Cigar whisky session, which somehow slipped into a “voluntold” interpretation to acquire from La Maison du Whisky in Singapore.
And the results? A quite interesting quartet of Compass Box blends…
Last in our Compass Box quartet was “No Name”…. in a black as sin bottle, a neck dripping in tar like wax… And what did we discover?
No Name 48.9%
Nose – Our immediate reaction? Who needs a cigar with a whisky like this! Smoke was in your face, campfires burning, sweet, charcoal, burnt leaf, acrid, tar…. yet still an underlying sweet
Palate – Sweet, almost too much sweet, more cigar, spice, bitter and dry, one even remarked “its like burnt plastic” chased by dark fruits
Finish – Bitter
Water – The verdict was out whether it helps or harms
This is no easy whisky. And for our resident sherry aficionado, it was the complete opposite of the kind of whisky he would chose. Even those who enjoy a good peaty dram found it a bit much. Clearly it is unique, and one cannot ignore it… but it is certainly not for everyone.
And what do the folks at Compass Box have to say?
For this our peatiest whisky yet, we have decided on No Name. The idea for this limited edition was sparked by the discovery of a parcel of casks of mature, heavy-peated single malt whisky from a well-known distillery located along Pier Road, in the Southeast of the island of Islay.
Even peatier than our whisky called ‘The Peat Monster’ – the staple peated Blended Malt Scotch Whisky in the Compass Box range – the resulting blend is massive in terms of the intensity and complexity of flavour; a whisky brimming with complex peatiness, but tempered with hints of fruit character and an underlying sweetness.
Flavour Descriptors A bonfire-like smokiness on the nose with a peatiness that is by turns tarry and medicinal with hints of autumn leaves. A powerful smokiness and peatiness follow, accented by hints of ripe cherries, plums and spice.
Recommendations This is a whisky for slow sipping either neat, with a splash of water or with an ice cube, which will reveal the layers of massive complexity this whisky offers as the whisky very slowly dilutes.
Next in our Compass Box quartet explorations was a true conversation starter… every element had something different to deliver.
Nose – Did this whisky really start off with a faint whiff of eau du detergent?? Then apple juice, slightly sour… however the aromas were exceedingly shy… taking effort to tease out… A bit of talcum powder, then finally as it began to open up some light spice, coffee, vanilla custard, toffee
Palate – Holy toledo! What a contrast. An absolutely awesome whisky… so smooth on the tongue almost soft initially then explodes into spicy sweetness… fruity, cracked black pepper, all in a velvety coating with a puff of smoke
Finish – Deceptive… highly deceptive… as it is very long yet at a whisper not a roaring spice
There was no mistaking this is a complicated and contradictory whisky – a nose which is almost elusive in character initially. Then a palate that made an extraordinary arc from subtle and nuanced to needle sharp spice. Even the finish provoked a debate – some suggesting it was remarkable by its absence and equally strong opinions it was there if only one tuned in to its quiet frequency.
Well named and well constructed to be discordant yet harmonious too.
We’d long been working on a blend of single malts that combines seemingly dissonant flavour profiles, but together creates something compelling. We landed on a recipe that elicited a surprising range of reactions and descriptions, each person taking away something different from the whisky.
Rather than try to settle on whose perceptions were ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, we were inspired by the phenomenological school of thought to consider how different people experience the same phenomenon.
Flavour Descriptors Aromas and flavours reminiscent of berry fruits, baked apples and hints of banana, with a delicate peaty-smokiness that follows and resonates in the long finish.
Recommendations This is an ideal whisky for sipping and contemplating on its own, or with a splash of water or an ice cube which will reveal subtle complexities.
Next up in our Compass Box quartet was The Double Single, named for it bringing together one single grain whisky (Girvan) and one single malt whisky (Glen Elgin)… with the idea that bringing them together elements beyond the sum of their parts.
Nose – Initial hit of varnish, has heft, sharp, then shifted into blood oranges, then green apples with a tartness, spice like paprika, cloves, cinnamon, marmalade sweetness, vanilla sponge cake, icing super, dancing around… after some time, took on a musty sweetness
Palate – “My god its complex!” Chilli flakes, sweet chilli spice, silky smooth, coats then spices flare gently, no question it is robust, complex with different elements playing counter point to each other
Finish – Very sweet with an interesting contrast to the palate
For one, on the nose it reminded of Mr Kipling’s “French Fancies”. And what a remarkable palate. It was without a doubt the preferred whisky to accompany a good cigar. In short, we loved it!
Flavour Descriptors In The Double Single we have combined single malt whisky from the Glen Elgin distillery and single grain whisky from the Girvan distillery. The elegantly complex, ethereal malt whisky character is balanced on a decadent cushion of rich, sweet, vanilla-tinged grain whisky character.
Recommendations The combination is a deeply satisfying yet versatile whisky, perfect served as a rich aperitif before a winter’s dinner, or as a rewarding post-prandial any time of year.