Tuesday, 30 April 2013

A Good Night Out

Whisky: Gordon and MacPhail Glen Grant 1949, 58 Year Old


Glen Grant



Glen Grant 1949









Pale Gold

Last week I met up with a good friend for dinner in town.  We were going to one of his favorite restaurants, the Print Hall.  He loves the food and the staff there love him.

I knew they had a whisky that was almost 60 years old that they let me sample the last time we were there and I knew I had to go back to purchase a full dram.

That whisky was Glen Grant's 1949 58 year old bottled by Gordon and MacPhail. 

$65 a shot, but I'm literally going to be trying a whisky that's almost as old as my parents.

Yeah I'll pay that.

So my friend and I head up to the bar and wait until the bartender is free, at which point I order a shot of the Glen Grant 1949.

I make some very specific requests, well one very specific request.

Can they please put it into a champagne flute.  You see they normally serve the whiskies in quite big tumblers and if you're reading this you're probably aware of the fact that tumblers = no good for fine whiskies.

Since they have no glencairns I figure the next best thing will be a champagne flute. 

"No worries" he says.

"Shall I put that on the ice for you?" He asks me.

My jaw drops open in horror of ruining a nearly 60 year old whisky with ice.  Mind you I'm sure that they get that requested often, but oh my god!?!

When I can finally speak without tears in my eyes I inform him that ice isn't needed.

And that if he ever offers me ice with my whiskies I may have to sell him to aliens for food.

He looks a little amused at that statement until he realizes that I'm serious, then he looks a little scared.


He then causes me to look on in horror as he pours the whisky into their little measure, sloppily spilling at least a hundred dollars worth of whisky down the sides and onto the bar.

Oh sweet baby Jesus is it inappropriate to lick the bar top!?!

After we walk away from the bar with my whisky safely in hand and my friend calms me down explaining that the bartender is a new one, we grab a seat and I start digging into this 58 year old whisky.

Long long long sexy legs, thick. 

It's not as dark as I'd have figured 58 years in a barrel would make it, I'm guessing an ex bourbon cask, but it's just a guess.

This is a whisky that needs to be approached with the utmost of respect, I mean it's not even every month that a whisky freak like me gets his hands on a whisky nearly 60 years old.

I spend the next hour or so nosing the flute, smelling the whisky, tearing it apart and just marveling that this whisky would have been distilled shortly after World War 2 and before the Korean War.

Apples, pears, vanilla, oak, somewhat floral, but nothing over the top.

I'm rather surprised because the last time I had a whisky over 50 years old it was very oaky, which can happen, or to be honest, often happens with whiskies over 30 years old.  The oak is present, but it takes a back seat to the apples and pears.

Wow, it just hits me that I'm getting ready to have a whisky that would run roughly $2000 AUS.  Probably the most expensive whisky I've ever had.

I take a small sip and sit there with the whisky in my mouth, holding it there for almost a minute, running the whisky back and forth across my palate.

The fruit is present again, apples and pears, but with sultanas also making an appearance, smoke, actually a surprising amount of smoke for a Speyside whisky, charred oak plays a bigger role then it did on the nose and some stronger floral notes stepping up to the plate.

Interesting about the floral notes, at times it's a little too floral for my tastes and at other points it's just right.  I'd really like a bottle of this to play around with.

A long, lingering, smokey sweet finish ends the whisky.

This is the oldest whisky that I've ever tried, the next oldest one being one I'd tried in Melbourne on my honeymoon from the 1950's. 

It's an interesting whisky, not massively complex, but also not one that I regret throwing down $65 on a shot of.  It basically sets out to do a few things and it does those things well, which is something that I've been encountering in many of the older whiskies I've tried over the last couple years. 

It has elements and aspects that I definitely wouldn't expect to see in younger whiskies, coming across as refined or elegant.  Sort of like a distinguished gentleman.

Would I pay $65 a shot for it again?

Sure, there's just something special about drinking something this old (that's done well, not just any old whisky mind you) and for me it got me into the mood and mindset for Scotland and Singapore. 

Old whiskies, rare whiskies.  These are what I'm aiming to try when I'm over there and I've set up a few things so that I'll be trying several more 40 plus year old whiskies while I'm over there and if I'm lucky some even older whiskies dating to before the war while in Singapore.

A bottle of this would be rare and hard to find, running roughly $2000 AUS to pick up. 

Is it worth it?  Well to be honest on a whisky like this it's much harder to state what it's worth to any one person as usually the $2000 price tag has blown past most people's budgets, but if I could afford to pick it up would I?


But I'd much rather you pick it up for me!

Nose:          23/25
Taste:         23/25
Finish:         23/25
Balance:      22/25

Overall:       91/100

Monday, 29 April 2013

Perth's Whisky Event of the Year!

Saturday evening I attended the whisky event of the year here in Perth, Whisky Live.  I'd wanted to go last year, but due to budget issues wasn't able to so when I saw Whisky Live pop up in my Facebook feed this year I promptly purchased a ticket for both my wife and myself.

What followed were several months of anxiously and excitedly waiting, especially as I started getting sneak peeks on what to expect.

This last Saturday I shut up my beer shop and raced over to my sister in laws in order to shower and change before all of us, brother and sister in law, wife and myself, all flagged down a taxi to take us on over.

Along with my lovely family I'd brought with me my brand new trusty camera (btw how can a camera be trusty when it's brand new?  Doesn't it need to be tried and true to be trusty?  Oh well a thought for another day) specifically purchased for Whisky Live and our upcoming trip to Scotland.  Pics will be posted shortly as soon as I can figure out how to upload them onto the site.

We'd arrived a few short minutes before the 6pm opening and so stood in the foyer along with all the other punters, eager to get our grubby little glencairns on all the delicious whiskies awaiting us inside.

It was a little like waiting for Christmas when you're a kid.  It can't come soon enough and you're eager as can be to get in and rip off the wrapping paper to get to the special gifts inside.  Time drags on and on and what in reality is five minutes tends to seem a little more like 45 minutes.

However at last, exactly at 6pm the doors opened and we were welcomed in, climbing the short steps to see what whisky goodness would await us.  As we went through the doors we were given our official Whisky Live show bags with one of the things that I'd use the most that night.  A brand new trusty glencairn!  As we went through the doors I stopped in mild surprise.

This is what awaited us!
Photo: What to Expect at Whisky Live Perth 2013.

The venue

Built in 1932, the cathedral like venue welcomes patrons with a marble and mosaic foyer and vaulted ceilings. The auditorium with its splendid pipe organ combines stained glass windows and aboriginal motifs on the ceiling. Seating 974 patrons in air conditioned comfort, Winthrop Hall's bright acoustic is ideal for choral and classical music.

For those who are attending Whisky Live Perth for the first time you will be greeted with a show case of whisky stands food matching with whisky, Cocktails bars, introduced to the brand owners and specialist.

Bookings - $95 per Person
Saturday 27th April 2013
2 sessions
1.30pm and 6.00pm
Whisky stand after whisky stand with that as the backdrop.  Impressive as could be and enough to actually make me pause just a bit in my mad dash to sample some whiskies.      

I wound up wandering through the different stands, seeing just what was there at the time, confirming that indeed, all 100 plus whiskies in the catalog were present and accounted for. 

Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Kavalan, Amrut, Auchentoshan, Glenfiddich, more and more!  Glenlivet, Bowmore, Buffalo Trace, Bruichladdich, Yamazaki, more and more and more! Sullivan's Cove, Overeem, Nant, Glengoyne Kavalan, Glen Grants, Gordon & MacPhail, Highland Park, Talisker....


Talisker!  Talisker Storm is debuting here!  So many whiskies to see!  Must grab Storm first!

I immediately made a beeline and thrust out my glencairn in an anxious manner, fearful that they will have already run out even though only a couple of other people are in front of their stand.

"May I please have a sample of the Storm please, pleeeeeeease!"

The whisky rep overlooks my idiocy for which I can only say that he is indeed a man among men and a saint. 

I thank him and immediately continue on my way, searching among the whiskies, grabbing photos of all the stands, all the whiskies.  But I don't sample Storm just yet, I'm waiting for when I've calmed down and will actually be able to devote some brain power into this dram.

All of a sudden one of the Whisky Live owners goes on up to the stage and asks for our attention.  He talks briefly about the history of whisky and a small amount about the origins of this lovely water of life.

And then he asks us to raise our drams to our ear and listen quietly for just a few seconds.

We do so and the lights go just a little dark and then we hear chanting, chanting from monks and then we see them, slowly moving up, walking in a line, holding candles.  Chanting the entire way up to the stage, singing the impurities out of the whiskies in the room.

They make their way up to the stage where their voices rise in a massive crescendo, before dropping down again, leaving us just a little awe inspired.      

The crowd, including me, starts making our way around the room, some of us grabbing pictures, some of us food, and most of us, whisky.  

I personally decide to grab a bite to eat first as I haven't had anything in my belly since around 7am that morning and there's no way you're going to be trying whiskies left, right and center on an empty stomach.

Pretty decent food, especially the chicken lasagne, and now I'm fortified for the night ahead!

First off I sample the Talisker Storm that my lovely and patient wife has been holding onto for me for the last half hour.  Peppery, smokey and slightly sweet it's quite yummy and is another excellent offering from one of my favorite Scottish distilleries, it especially makes me want to sit down and have a chance to contemplate it in the comfort of my own home.

Note to self: pick up Talisker Storm.

I've plotted in advance how this night is going to go.  Many of the whiskies in the show I've had before, some of them many times, Auchentoshan, Glenfiddich, Buffalo Trace, Bruichladdich, Jack Daniels, etc so tonight is going to be all about whiskies that have had my interest for a while.  Whiskies that I haven't had a chance to try before.

Up on the tasting plate for me: Sullivan's Cove, Nant, Overeem, Glengoyne, New Zealand Whisky Co, Hellyer's Road, Highland Park 18, Bowmore Legend, Hudson Bay Rye and Bourbon, Glen Grants, and a few others that happen to grab my attention along the way.

I wind up meeting with distillers, brand ambassadors, whisky reps and whisky lovers of all types.  I managed to get a photo with the owner of Sullivan's Cove, Patrick Maguire (very cool guy!) and get to talk a little bit of shop with him while he introduces me to some Sullivan's Cove, specifically the French Oak (Yum!) and his friend's Overeem Port Cask (Yum!) and Overeem Sherry Cask (POW! SUPER YUM!)  Photos to come soon of this event!

I get to chat with the Diego rep who is covering the Talisker stand and we chat about Scotland a bit, about the Isle of Skye (god I was I was able to fit that into my upcoming trip) and some of the upcoming goodness of Talisker in Australia!

I swing by and say hello to my friends from Kavalan, Starward and Bruichladdich.  I get a chance to taste a fresh bottle of Highland Park 18 year old (first and last time I tried it I had it in a bar, was VERY unimpressed and worried that I was missing something regarding the hype, the fresh bottle confirmed the hype for me!)

I'm given a special anniversary edition of Glen Grants 170th Anniversary (delicious!) New Zealand Whisky, cask strength 23 year old (BAM! YUM!).  Over the next few hours I wind up trying roughly 20 different whiskies, most very delicious, some just ok.  All of it heaps of fun!  And then they start calling out that the raffle will be starting in 15 minutes be sure to get your ticket now!

My wife and I always win at raffles, ever since I've moved to Australia, generally we wind up winning second or third prize, but hey it's all in good fun and this raffle will benefit a charity, specifically the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

First prize: Dozens of whiskies.

Yeah I want to win this just a little bit so my wife and I purchase 7 tickets under her name.  

And then we go back to sampling whiskies.  I make a couple return trips to Sullivan's Cove and Overeem, sadly Sullivan's Cove has run out of theirs by now, but the delicious Overeem Sherry is still available so I grab a dram of this as I chat with the guys from the whisky club.

And then they announce the raffle winners!

First prize.....drum roll please.....

Is not me.


I look over at my wife and smile and go oh well, it was worth a shot.

And then they announce the winner of the runner up prize.

It's my wife.

We've won!  

Holy crap we won a bottle of Talisker Storm!?!?>!<>!?!>?

My wife goes up to claim the bottle as I shout out and generally make a wee bit of an idiot of myself.  I'll have a bottle of the Storm to actually sit down with in my house so I can review it!  


I'm chatting with a couple guys next to me who are lamenting their loss, I totally understand that, and I'm at a loss for words on the winning of Storm, in a very sexy storm covered box.

And then my wife gives me the box, stares at me and goes "why are you so excited?  It's just the 10 year old."

I look again.  She's right, it's indeed the 10 year old.

Oh well who cares I won!  And the 10 year is a delicious whisky!

We have a few more drams over the course of the evening, chatting more with distillers and brand reps, learning new things, making new friends and in short had an absolute blast.

About my only complaints about the entire event was that a few distilleries/bottles that I'd hoped would be there, weren't. 

It would have been awesome if Jack Daniels had brought in the Woodford Reserve.  It would have been awesome if Buffalo Trace had brought in a bottle of their Antique Collection, be it the Stagg, Handy, Weller, etc.  It would have been awesome if Glenfarclas, Aberlour, Macallan and Ardbeg had come to the show.  

However you know what they say?