Friday 28 September 2018

Insert Punning Title Here

Cococtomore? Octoless? Concoctomoretion?  It's not working, is it?

I've been playing around with Rob Roys and variants thereof for at least the last six years, but in 2018, encouraged by The Whisky Wuman and other colleagues, I've been branching out into highballs and other things.

This article in the Independent, with its vague reference to "smoky whisky, coconut water, and lime juice" intrigued me. But rather than get in touch with Emily Chipperfield or Nuala Bar directly to ask for a recipe, I just set about trying things.

Having some Octomore to hand it seemed entirely reasonable to use that as a starting point.

I stuck to a straightforward theme of Octomore / coconut water / lime juice / bitters, only varying the proportions of each and the type of bitters.

Owing to not actually having any ice the first time I made this (and thus resorting to the time honoured technique of bunging everything into the freezer for a bit before assembling the drink) I discovered that not shaking seems to give a more interesting drink. Yes I know, I should have dry shaked (dry shook? dry shaken?) the chilled ingredients. I didn't. Get over it.

It's probably important to note (for those of you fool enough to try this at home) that "more interesting" doesn't necessarily mean better. Octomore is a weird, chameleon liquid, and lime juice makes your palate sit up and pay attention. When you combine the two the result can be startling.

Here's one version of the drink, with my notes on how it turned out. If you want the real funk, use less coconut water.

~20ml Octomore Discovery 2
~10ml lime juice
~120ml coconut water
3 dashes Bitter Truth Tonic Bitters

Stir all ingredients together. Serve in an ice filled rocks glass.

On the nose the coconut comes through nicely. This is a long, fairly weak drink, but when I used lesser quantities of coconut water it was just getting lost.

On the palate there's a nice balance of sweet / fatty / nutty coconut notes with the sharp lime and the earthy / salty / not quite grassy notes of the Octomore.

This is the friendliest version of the drink that I've discovered so far. Using a smaller quantity of coconut water gives a much more funky, feral, wild result: whether you want that or not is a question only you can answer - by making this drink for yourself. Go do it now!

Monday 10 September 2018

A D Rattray Samples

Balblair 2011, 59.7%
A bourbon barrel that's been PX finished. I didn't enjoy this at all (but then, as The Dandy says, Balblair doesn't really come into its own until its mid teens). The nose is painfully nippy, with an odd mixture of raw wood and brown sugar. The palate is sweet, peppery, and raw. Sandpaper and sawdust. Ouch. Poor

Strathmill 2006, 58.1%
Another bourbon barrel. It seems rather quiet in comparison to the whiskies around it. It's not unpleasant, but having recently had a couple of lovely crisp, malty Strathmills, this is merely humdrum. There's little to fault here, but no fireworks either. Sort of Good

Balmenach 2010, 57%
Another sherry finish, although I didn't note what kind of sherry. There's a pleasant cooked note, as if one were in a kitchen where boiled sweets are being boiled. It's not at all spirity. To taste it is in fact rather on the hot side, but the flavours are really interesting. Savoury, with some beery malt, a hint of sulphur, and a very pleasant finish. Very Good

Macduff 2009, 57%
From a bourbon barrel. The classic Macduff nose of creamline toffee, fudge, or toffee pennies (depending on which of those your family favoured when you were growing up). The palate follows
through with exactly the same notes. The thick oily texture and its simple sweet nature make this a lovely comforting dram. Good

Tamnavulin 2009, 59.4%
From a bourbon barrel. At the start of the year I had a young Tamnavulin-Glenlivet from the Seventies, and this rather reminds me of that. The modern one isn't nearly as fruity of course, but there's a floral elegance to it which is delightful. Pea blossom and greenery - it's fascinating. The palate is soft and sweet, a kind of flowery toffee. The only thing which keeps this from being an outstanding whisky is a slight bitterness in the finish. Excellent

Glenrothes 1996, 51.9%
Unusually for Glenrothes, this is a bourbon barrel. It still somehow has that cello seriousness which a lot of Glenrothes exhibits.

I realise that's not very helpful, so let me explain. Glenrothes, like Mortlach, takes very well to sherry barrels, but unlike Mortlach, which seems to come from bourbon barrels fairly often, pretty much all the Glenrotheses (Glenrothi?) that are ever released are sherry barrel matured. Mortlach, from a bourbon cask, tends to go to a bright, lively pizzicato violin fruitiness. This Glenrothes hasn't done that, hence the comparison to the cello.

The palate is all soft rounded sweet toffee. Very Good