Edinburgh University Water of Life Society
Independent Bottlers Meeting
Teviot Dining Room, Bristo Square, Edinburgh
April 16, 2007
Ended our Edinburgh visit appropriately by attending a meeting of the whisky club Kristin and I used to be involved with(first as poet laureate, then president) when we lived in Edinburgh. In fact, it was the society that got us involved with eachother in the first place. Ah, whisky; bringing people together for over 200 years...
The theme of the meeting was Independent Bottlings and we had a few interesting ones to try. Here are impressions of three of them. Notes in quotes are not my own and, where possible, I have attributed them to their sources.
Littlemill 1990, 16yo
Single Malt Whisky
Littlemill was a lowland whisky, although it sourced its water in the highlands. The distillery closed in 1984, opened briefly 1989-1992, suffered a fire started by youngsters in 2004, and today all but two towers have been demolished. It was the oldest Scottish distillery in production having been founded by George Buchanan in the 1750s, but obviously lost that position when it closed in 1992. The 8yo bottling you can sometimes find is still bottled by Loch Lomond, but the contents are in fact 14-15 years old.
Soft. Light and sweet with old spice or someone's dad's deodorant. Chinese 5-spice.
"Wet cardboard" -Leo, "Tequila" -Dan, "Cinnamon" -Joe, "Butterscotch" -Nikki
"Old wood in an antique furniture shop" - Lorna
Watery, melony, then mildew flavours, dissonant notes that really sour towards the finish. Like decomposition in the mouth.
"Damp clothes that were mud-soaked and now have air-dried." -Ran
"Chemical used to treat cow hides" -Jamal
"Rotten pineapple" -Leo
"The nose is misleading and the aftertaste is awful." -Judith
"Walking into a house full of mold. Possibly the worst whisky I have ever had" -Kristin
To be fair, I must note here that we warmed up with the smooth Irish Kilbeggan whisky, after which many malts would suffer. This was interesting, but certainly not something I would reach for.
Tormore 1993, 13yo
Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask
Single Malt Whisky
After the Second World war, the whisky industry saw new growth for the first time in over 30 years; closed distilleries reopened and new ones were built. Three new distilleries were built after the war before Tormore in 1960, and only Tormore still survives intact and in full production. The distillery was built to supply malt for Long John blends. Today it is most commonly found in Ballantine's blends, and quite rare as a single malt.
Fresh, unripe tree fruit; pears or russet apples. Sweet coconut like Jon, Mark and Robbo's Smooth Sweeter One. Creme brullée.
"Linseed oil" -Dan, "Hot sick and flambéed cherries" -Joe
Firm mouthfeel that tastes bready and slightly seedy or oily, like sesame seed bagels. Mild pickle saltiness beneath.
Exciting sip after sip, new flavours abound, constantly developing but not ever blowing anyone away. Solid stuff.
"Weird bourbon cask. Too much woody... um... nutty rich... cinnamony" -Leo
Clynelish 1993, 13yo
Gordon and Macphail Connoisseurs Choice
Single Malt Whisky
One of my favourite distilleries, references to Clynelish can be found here and at Malt Mission 23
Blueberries and apricots, shortbread, salty, and a whiff of peat.
"It's making me tipsy" -Lorna
Dark and gloomy. Meaty and clean. Halal butcher. Oranges.
"Pork fat", "tobacco", "dirty old dirty old old dirty."
"Virgin pine palate/skid on the palate" -Simeon
Friday night in watching horror movies. Dark and scary, exciting and tense, but no surprises. My favorite of the night, but the Kilbeggan warm-up dram was the overall winner with the group. I regret not taking notes on that one. Oh well. A good night was had. Thanks, guys.
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