Friday, 29 August 2014

Bowmore 15 Year Old "Darkest"

Bowmore is one of the more famous of Scotlands’ famous Islay distilleries. According to their website they are the first of the Islay distilleries having been distilling there since 1779, which I suppose kinda makes them the “Godfathers” of Islay whisky. This 15 year old expression was aged in Oloroso sherry casks. This is where it got its colour that I was so excited about. As I’ve said before I have a fondness for the darker liquids and so obviously the name alone was enough to make me swoon. Even though I have seen much darker it is because of the word  "Darkest” in the name of this whisky that I have decided on some dark music.

Black Sabbath is an all-star band which in their hay-day featured four of the most influential musicians in heavy metal history. These include: Ozzy Osbourne who has also been called the "Godfather of Heavy Metal as well as the “Prince of Darkness”, the incredible guitar playing of Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler who is in my opinion the most creative, fulfilling heavy metal bass player of all time, as well as one of my heroes and main influences while growing up and Bill Ward who is probably one of the most under-rated drummers in Rock and Roll history. Their self-titled first album is at once one of the darkest and most interesting I have ever heard. Its sounds inspired generations of rockers and continues to do so to this day. The first track by the same name as the album and band is a dark tale of horror that when I first heard it at the age of 13 sent shivers up my spine and for a long time I was scared to hear it alone. The entire album is dark story telling at its best that seems to segue between almost every track with incredible jamming that is quite unusual for the metal genre. This is dark heavy music for a dark heavy whisky.

Nose: Wine and toffee strike first, a second pass reveals the expected notes of smoke. This smoke has a leathery quality to it that reminds me of smoked moose hide. There is a lot going on here yet it is very smooth on the nose and not overcrowded.

Palate:  the smoothness continues on the palate. There is a creaminess to the mouth feel reminiscent of chocolate melting in the mouth. No surprise the smoke is also distinctive with a dried fruit note like raisins or prunes.

Finish: The smoke lingers on for a long time. There are also notes of burnt sugar and pine or cedar wood.

I must admit that I have tried this whisky before. Looking back on my notes for that try I am happy to say that my experience was quite similar. As for the pairing I am impressed. I was afraid that heavier music would make it harder to focus on the scents and flavours before me, no matter how potent the whisky. In this situation the whisky and the music work well together.  

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Arran 10 Year Old Single Malt

If I had been asked a year ago about The Arran distillery and its whiskies I would have replied that I knew little about them. Over the last year I have been hearing more and more about this distillery. From the long list of unique expressions they offer it would seem that working at this distillery would be a load of fun as they are willing to experiment with a variety of different cask finishes. I am still relatively unfamiliar with this distillery but am becoming better acquainted with them. Arran seems to be every where.

Tonight I will be tasting their basic single malt. It is a 10 year old expression, and it seems to have received from fairly positive reviews. As a musical accompaniment I will be going with the almighty rock gods Led Zeppelin and their release The Song Remains The Same.

The Song Remains the same is a Led Zeppelin movie that follows the band on their tour. The soundtrack features some really long jammed out versions of their most loved music. For any fan of Zeppelin it is a must have in your collection.

Nose: Sweet creamy and fruity. Banana, honeyed vanilla and melon comes to mind. Really nice.

Palate: Green apple and lemon come to mind right away and they are at odds with one another. There is also a bitter edge which further unbalances the dram.

Finish: That bitter taste hangs on for a long time while lemon pipes in every little bit. I guess it could be called bitter lemon?

There are some nice notes to this whisky in there somewhere but that bitter note ruins it. Its too bad because on the nose it was quite pleasant. It is also too bad because I was hoping this whisky would be a great accompaniment to this album. I am going pull this album out again for sure. It deserves a good dram.  

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Loch Lomond Single Malt

It is sometimes difficult to choose what music to pair with a particular whisky, or vice-versa. For me it has been based a lot on personal preference, in other words the music that is in my collection. Sometimes a random coincidence that I am able to find that ties the two together such as a historical event will also help. The difficulty comes when I am unfamiliar with the whisky before me. This issue has come up several times over the course of the "Advent Calender Sessions" and may come up again ( I have four samples left). Todays' tasting is one of those days where I know nothing of the whisky or its distillery; however, I am in the mood for a particular album. So rather than try to find some random way to match music with  this whisky I'm going to embark on a new approach, I'm going to listen to what I want while I drink the whisky before me.

What I do know (according to Wikipedia) of the Loch Lomond distillery is that it is in the Highland region and that the whisky is portrayed in Tintin comic books. I also read (in the Herald Scotland) that it was sold in early march for millions. Based on this information I think it is safe to say the mystery remains.

For musical accompaniment I am listening to "Them Crooked Vultures". This is what is often referred to as a "Super Group". This is because the members of the band are from other huge bands. The band consists of: John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin), Dave Grohl ( Nirvana & The Foo Fighters) and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age). These legends of rock came together in 2009. I have had their self titled album for several years but have never really found the time to listen to it in it's entirety. I am half way through the album now and I can say that it is fantastic. The music seems to be a blend of alternative rock and blues with some psychedelic tones. The influence of all the members can be heard and appreciated.

So with all of that said it is time to see how this unknown (by me) dram holds up to this music.

Nose: light, smooth a bit creamy with buttery notes and a something like wet wood in a forest.

Palate: Butter and spices come to mind. On the tail end there is something minty.

Finish: long and woody. The wood in this case is more like carpentry wood rather than the damp forest floor wood that I found on the nose. I also find a bit of fresh grass and some black pepper to be present.

Over all a not bad dram. It is nothing fantastic and I wouldn't go out of my way to find a bottle, but nor would I go out of my way to avoid it. I would actually say that there is something unique and interesting about this whisky. If you have the chance give it a try. At its' reported price, you have nothing to lose. As for the musical pairing I think it works The mouth feel really seems to blend well with the music, particularly during track 10.