Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Winter Is Coming... Glenrothes 1985 and Aberlour A'Bunadh Batch 36

Me with the snow lady
As I step out my flat I am confronted with a slight chill. A chill that has long been covered with unseasonably mild and balmy weather. The sky is grey and misty, the day is getting shorter and Christmas is perpetuating itself across the land. It appears winter is here. With that I nip back inside to grab my summer jacket (I seem to always be a season behind in both fashion and temperature). Winter is a very exciting time for all drinkers out there, alcoholic or not. Winter promises hot chocolate, mulled cider and wine, dark beers, warming lemony concoctions, cognac, champagne celebrations, large meals with copious amounts of wine, and of course whisky. Furthermore with all the food and celebrations to come this seasons drinking needs military planning. Christmas for example is a challenge of cost and quantity. I have to start the day with Buck's Fizz, G&T before the meal, white wine (I'm resisting Corton Blanc with great difficulty) with the starter, and red with the main (I'm considering investing in a hideously excessive double magnum). There needs to be whisky or cognac after and the day must close with a bottle of port. Boxing Day is another challenge; perhaps beer? Sherry? Pub anyone? Even before Christmas there is mulled wine to make, German Christmas markets with their alcoholic wares to sample and much more. This is why I am an advocate of planning my season's drinking well in advance.

This of course brings me on to whisky. Undoubtedly in the next few months I will blog a lot about Christmas and whisky but there is one important decision to be made now, and that is the whisky I'll turn to when I just want a quick drink. I have nailed this down to two options. The Glenrothes 1985 and the Aberlour A'Bunadh. The attraction of these two whiskies is that being sherry cask they have warming wintry notes that perfectly match the season. The question is which one?

Glenrothes 1985
43% - Distilled 21/7/85 - Bottled 31/5/05 - 20 Years Old
Nose: Raisins and a hint of dark chocolate leading a rich and satisfying burnt Christmas cake character that lends a rich and intense twist to this dram.
Palate: Thick, burnt raisins replace the Christmas cake here, with a little dried banana lingering at the back.
Finish: Sweet almost bourbon like with kiwi fruits at first then lots of port and chocolate!
Overall: A Christmassy malt indeed, the presence of port, chocolate and Christmas cake is promising indeed. This is my second Glenrothes, and a vast improvement on a disappointing Rattray bottling I'd tried previously.

Aberlour A'Bunadh Batch 36
60.1% - No Age Statement - Oloroso Cask
Nose: A vinous edge almost cognac-like, there is stewing mincemeat beneath sprinkled with cinnamon and nutmeg, then at the back there is a sherried chocolate ganache.
Palate: Syrupy and spicy, Christmas pudding and intense dried fruits.
Finish: Bitter dark chocolate, a hot flash of Oloroso culminating with orange rind and demerara sugar.
Overall: Such a great sherry cask whisky at a fantastic price. Although high in alcohol (that I enjoy) it could also take plenty of water (almost itself again) if a softer drink is required. Furthermore I have a cold and can't smell a thing, this says a lot about the intensity of this whisky. This has to be the winner purely on price points alone. The Glenrothes is great, phenomenal even, but for a day-to-day whisky the A'Bunadh is much more versatile. A fantastic pair of whiskies!

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