One of these things is not like the others…


Sometimes, when re-reading tasting notes I have written, one word or phrase rather sticks out from the rest. Often, it’s a flavour or aroma that is not commonly associated with spirits or their un-distilled brethren, wines and beers. Sometimes it’s a texture or taste of something most people would be unlikely to put in their mouths. On occasion, a descriptor of something illicit or downright dangerous is the only way I can describe what I am experiencing. This obviously causes a quandary as to whether to leave it in and risk people being, at best, confused or, at worst, deceased.

The first whisky I’ve tasted this week contained just such a ‘challenging’ taste sensation:

Boisdale Linkwood 1991 20yo 46% Cask 10344

Stroopwafel’ – Dutch caramel wafers – along with rosehip, ‘Sugar Puffs’ cereal and the faintest touch of ‘forbidden’ whiteboard markers give this Linkwood instant charm on the nose. Lots of citrus flesh and peel appear on the palate with stewed apricots and some nice, clean oak. A little wood smoke drifts in after a little time on the palate followed by the nicely dry finish becoming gently floral. As the finish fades, whispers of peach yoghurt complement the cereal glow.

Now, I’m sure there may be one or two people who would not include the smell of whiteboard markers in their imaginings of ‘instant charm’. For myself or those who, like me, grew up surrounded by the manifold sensory delights of the largest school in North Yorkshire, there is something oddly enjoyable about the remembrances of the magical Autumn morning when they replaced all the choking chalk-dust-billowing blackboards with shiny new-fangled Whiteboards. Interestingly, the dryness forever associated in my mind with those old dusty blackboards has also cropped up in my textural nomenclature.

These ‘unusual’ smells, tastes or mouth-feel descriptions can be things that in anything but the faintest concentrations would be off-putting, but when found in the furthest corners of the experience of tasting an interesting spirit or wine can be the little thing that separates the ‘good Thursday evening glass’ from the fascinating bottle that you want to share with kindred spirits enjoyably trying to work out ‘what this thing actually tastes of?!’

The second new whisky this week is something for those seeking not only the aforementioned ‘Thursday evening dram’ but also a delicious whisky that wouldn’t be out of place being shared in any circumstances:

Boisdale Longmorn 1992 19yo 46% Cask 71762

Floral and opulent on the nose, backed up with well-varnished oak, this Longmorn starts the charm offensive long before it gets anywhere near the palate! There’s a lovely, sweet attack on the tip of the tongue with roundness provided by the wood and malt undertones. Scottish strawberries and Devon cream crash around the mouth, wrestling for supremacy with the luxurious macadamia nut texture. Caramelised peaches, old rosehip, and oozing honeycomb flesh out the forget-me-not finish.

A tremendous bottle of whisky, in my opinion it would be almost impossible for any spirits lover not to be drawn in by the buxom, sumptuous charms of this Longmorn at the absolute peak of its powers. So whether you’re seeking the challenging yet rewarding intricacies of the Linkwood, or the irresistible allure of the Longmorn, these two whiskies from the same region, of the same age and matured in the same type of cask offer very different ways to continue your own personal spirits journey.

To share my journey, comment below, visit us in St. James’s Street, or follow me on Twitter. I’ve rarely much idea of what the week ahead will hold, but I thoroughly and stridently urge you to join me in NOT eating whiteboard markers.