The 5th-7th July 2013 saw the first ever Dramboree!
A whole whisky weekend courtesy of the marvellous organisers Jason B. Standing and Jonny McMillan! This year’s hugely enjoyable event was held in the beautiful town of Aberfeldy.
Having recently spent over 12 hours on the road heading back from Islay (made all the better for Cat by the fact that I don’t actually drive), we decided that it might be nice to fly up to Scotland this time! Landing in Aberdeen in good time, we collected our hire car with no problems but were subsequently waylaid by 3 main annoyances:
1. Satellite Navigation. It’s rubbish. (Yes, yes, I know, just use a map / calculate an appropriate bearing by the density of roadside tree rings etc. All valid points I’m sure.)
2. Signs that say “20 is plenty”. It rhymes, but in this case that isn’t enough to make it true.
3. Executive coach travel. I don’t know who these important Executives are that choose to travel by coach, but they’re a menace! Imagine the film Speed but with the plot adjusted so that the coach explodes if they go over 30mph (and is too wide to overtake).
The open roads wouldn’t last long...
Who are these Executives?
All this drama meant that we missed out on the Daftmill tasting. The world-exclusive Daftmill tasting with Francis Cuthbert. This, frankly, was a disaster but luckily there was plenty more dramming to be had. (It was a Dramboree after all!)
First though, we sat down for some haggis, neeps and tatties followed by erm... chocolate soup (which I believe was meant to have set...)
What? It was chocolate and strawberries, what’s not to like? (Rocky had three!)
Onto the drams! The second tasting was a selection of rare, old and interesting whisky bottlings from Mulberry Bank Auctions’ Angus MacRaild.
Let the whisky tasting commence!
Mmm delicious whisky...
Glen Scotia 5 Year Old (1970s)
Glen Scotia 5 Year Old (1970s) Tasting Note:
Nose: Barley and a touch of citrus with banana at first before Chomp bars and grapefruit. Pear drops develop.
Palate: Light toffee apple, pear drops and vanilla.
Finish: Gentle, lingering peach and vanilla.
Very interesting, I wondered how much this had changed in the bottle - there was some flatness on the palate, like when you leave a half empty bottle for slightly too long without finishing it, but for a 5-year-old whisky this was an excellent dram. The time spent in the bottle was presumably quite beneficial here overall, setting the tone for an interesting tasting.
Glendronach 12 Year Old (1978)
Glendronach 12 Year Old (1978) Tasting Note:
Nose: Chicken stock, demerara and dried rosemary.
Palate: Stone fruit with a slightly fizzy mouthfeel.
Finish: Medium, sparkling water, a little more demerara and a touch of plantain.
Glen Grant 12 Year Old (late 1970s)
Glen Grant 12 Year Old (late 1970s) Tasting Note:
Nose: Molasses, paint and forest floor with a big core of spicy Honey Loops. Parsley and coriander lurk just beneath the surface.
Palate: Very spicy again with manuka honey and a coppery note.
Finish: Slightly metallic but well rounded.
Highland Park (late 1970s)
Highland Park (late 1970s) Tasting Note:
Nose: Sugar-covered Eccles cakes (before you bite into them), biscuity, slight minerality. Pleasingly, heather smoke was revealed with a few tiny drops of water (then I lost it again by adding one drop too many, sad face).
Palate: Biscuity citrus, floured sultanas.
Finish: Fruity with a big kick of peat, quite a bit more than expected.
Glen Elgin 12 Year Old (late 1970s)
Glen Elgin 12 Year Old (late 1970s) Tasting Note:
Nose: The orange and coffee cream Revels, without the chocolate.
Palate: Cooked apples, latte.
Finish: Perfumed nectarine.
Tamdhu 15 Year Old (old bottling)
Tamdhu 15 Year Old (old bottling) Tasting Note:
Nose: Caramel brittle and Crunchy Nut Cornflakes.
Palate: Nutty oak and supporting honey.
Finish: Yummy toffees.
Caol Ila 16 Year Old 1969 - Connoisseurs Choice (Gordon & MacPhail)
Caol Ila 16 Year Old 1969 - Connoisseurs Choice (Gordon & MacPhail) Tasting Note:
Nose: Ashy linseed, crushed peanuts, lemon juice, touch of seaweed.
Palate: Carries on where the nose left off, only with more prominent peatiness.
Finish: Nutty linseed with gentle smoke.
I appear to have drawn a smiley face in my notes next to this one. Distilled prior to the rebuilding of everything except the distillery’s warehouses and the installation of 6 new stills in the early 1970s, I was actually surprised how much of the present distillery character was recognisable in this peaty Caol Ila (whilst others were discussing the differences).
Bowmore 21 Year Old (distilled in the 1970s)
Bowmore 21 Year Old (distilled in the 1970s) Tasting Note:
Nose: Tropical with mango, digestives and Rich Tea biscuits.
Palate: Fruity oak with a soft tang.
Finish: More of those Rich Teas, with passion fruit.
An enjoyable and informative tasting made a little more spicy by an unplanned ‘debate’ about whisky marketing. [Anything approaching a sweeping statement about ‘the good old days’ of whisky is often best avoided in the presence of enthusiasts who also happen to be modern day brand strategists and ambassadors!]
That just left the small matter of the Whisky Table*. Every guest at Dramboree is asked to bring along a couple of bottles from their personal collection to share with like-minded friends, old and new.
It was frankly an embarrassment of riches.
There was even a cheeky Dutch whisky on the table, a nice reminder of Maltstock, the relaxed whisky weekend that’s held in the Netherlands.
Equipped with an unbelievable selection of whisky, exceptional company, comfortable surroundings and no need to rush, this Dramboree was something I could get used to. (I even quite enjoyed the ukulele.)
Luckily, there was still an entire fun-filled day to go!
(Part 2 of my Executive report tomorrow.)
*What’s the exact opposite of a small matter? That.