Monday, 27 October 2014

Old St. Andrews Tweet Tasting

Old St. Andrews - The Series

You can't miss an Old St. Andrews bottle; they stand out a mile on any whisky shelf. Strangely, however, I've managed to give them a complete swerve until now.

For me, whisky and golf have always gone hand in hand. I've spent many a winter's morning hacking and slashing away at flora and foliage like a demented samurai, fuelled purely by incandescent rage and a hip flask full of tartan tastiness. So, when those nice chaps at OSA whisky and The Whisky Wire asked me if I fancied putting (that's the last golf pun you'll get out of me) four of their drams through their paces, I jumped at the chance.

Samurai fuel

Clubhouse - 3yo Blend - 40%

Richer than expected, given the stated age of 3 years, although with an unmistakeable whiff of youth. Fresh and lively to begin with but settles nicely into leather and beeswax after a time. Light wood, almonds, fudge and an aromatic spice that I can't quite pin down.

Initially peppery but this fades, being replaced by a dry, malty citrus. A few more sips reveal a building smokiness; the spice has died away and has left a spirity, sweet note.

Yup, this is young and a little spirity. It's also insanely approachable and very drinkable. If you're a fan of cask strength monsters and phenolic beasts, it's not going to rock your world on the flavour front, but for this price it's viable hip-flask fare for the demented samurai in your life.

Crap film, good whisky

Twilight - 10yo Blended Malt - 40%

Light and grassy to kick off with a slight winey note. Bags of fruit and a little honey follow this up and there's also a substantial, although not overpowering, floral element. A little longer and coconut creeps in, dragging lemongrass and fudge with it.

Fresh, Speyside profile to start but a little stern approaching the finish. I'm put in mind of a young Glenburgie, initially. A few sips in and the stern note is more pronounced; puts me in mind of lemon rind and pine.

It's zippy, fresh and interesting; very much a 'session-starter' There's always room for something like this in the Stumblevault.

Wingback chair not included

Fireside - 12yo Blended Malt - 40%

This is a deeper, richer number with waxy, treacly aromas with a fair whiff of peat. A little patience brings roasted nuts, marzipan and baked meringue, quite sweet as is develops. A little more time gives smoky lemons and sets my Caol Ila spidey senses tingling.

Doesn't deliver the instant peat hit I'd expected from the nose, but a waxiness that I'd normally associate with good Clynelish. No sooner have I thought that, the peat makes an appearance. Sour cherries, honeycomb, a little lemon and some winter spices. Approaching the finish there's some mildly bitter walnut.

It's aptly named and delivers many layers of flavour. A middle order batsman, if you'll forgive my mixing sports. The smoke, the waxiness, the rich fruits; it's all very well constructed and this hits all the right notes for me.  Attractively priced too. I'd definitely buy a bottle of this.

Keeps more than your head warm

Nightcap - 15yo Blended Malt - 40%

A sweet bourbony nose with honey all over the shop. A few swirls release oak, smoke and a faint aroma of dill. A little time brings a cardamom-infused milk chocolate and the dill note evolves into cornichons. A little longer and the bourbony aromas seem to have died off leaving a sherry profile; wax, wood and nuts.

A little austere to begin with but, after a while, appear wood, black pepper and vine fruits glistening with noble rot. Rich, sweet and waxy with a fair puff of smoke on the back end. This would be a very capable after-dinner dram.
Very interesting, this one. Such a layered and changeable nose is always entertaining, although the palate doesn't quite reach the heights the nose offers. As the name suggests, you'd probably deploy this to finish your evening or after a big meal. Again, very attractively priced, especially when you consider its age.

In an age of overpriced and overhyped releases, it's refreshing to see reasonably-priced whiskies are still available. It seems to me that Old St. Andrews has here a series of 'mood whiskies'; each one exhibits a different profile and, accordingly, each has their own occasion.

I hearth-ily recommend you buy a bottle

For me, the Fireside is the clear winner, with Nightcap, Twilight and Clubhouse coming home second, third and fourth respectively.

Sincere thanks to the team over at OSA Whisky, to Steve for orchestrating the whole thing and to my fellow tweet tasters. Always a pleasure.

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