I spend nearly as much money and time sourcing samples and trading with people as adding bottles to my cellar. It’s fun trying new things. When I can enjoy them with good friends while we swap stories, it’s part of the tapestry of a good life.
My serious love affair with Glendronach single cask whisky was born from a buddy who likes to split them up so lots of people can try. It’s a truly noble services. When a bottle costs 400 – 1000 GBP, it rarely gets opened. Sampling makes them accessible to fans and curious alike. Sure, you could always go with ratings from sites like cellartracker, rumratings, whiskybase or even consider reviews from long winded jerks like me. But they can often miss the mark. Last night, I fell in love with an Irish drop of Killowen that had an 80.2 rating on WB, which is basically the score you give oak aged urine. That specific Irish experimental batch is just fabulous and the two people who rated it before me where smoking crack. I immediately went and bought a bottle after trying the sample.
Alright. Armagnac. I got this bottle on deep discount on auction, and decided to gamble. No one I knew had tried it. Never heard of the label. Poured into my glass, this grape juice is quite pretty to look at. An unusually deep brown color without being dark. The kind of brown that Van Morrison would sing in rapture over.
The nose starts quite sweet, but a very sharp intense saccharine with a metallic hint. There is a lemon marmalade tartness to it that reminds me of my mother in law’s thanksgiving fruit jello. Now to be honest, I abhor the desert but everyone else in my whole family raves about it so this isn’t a throw down. Behind the scenes I get a drying camphor smell, with hints of old pine box and eucalyptus. All in all, it’s not a complex nose but not terrible either.
Oh that palate is not what I expected. It’s not a big taste, rather somewhat subdued. And Tart! The bite of inner white pith of lemon peel. The herbaceous flavors hit as an overly-steeped mint tea. Or the aftertaste of halls eucalyptus cough drops. Almost medicinal. As the glass rested the palate blended a bit better. I don’t love it, but my desire to just pour it out has receded.
Finish: finally a hint of sweetness. But just a hint. The herbal element is what goes long. And loooong it stays though quietly. In an odd way, it’s making my mouth numb like one too many mint candies or pepto bismal.
Rating: 3 / 10 : Someone else might love it, but I don’t.
The nose almost saves it from being a 3. But the serious change from the nose to the palate is what burned me. I feel bait and switched. I wanted that sweetness on my tongue damnit! Glad to try a new yak. But wish I had a sample and not a bottle. Thankfully I got it on discount. I’m going to park it for a month and report back.
Time has passed. My kid got older.
I’ve gone back to the bottle a few times thinking I was just having a bad day and I’d like it better. That a bit of time would round it out. It has been a month and this is a pile of kak. I’m going to give this bottle to someone who deserves it.