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2017 年10 支 Mr. J 想記錄下來的威士忌(上)

2018/1/30 — 19:54

作者製圖

作者製圖

【文:Mr. [email protected]

數,是要找的。

Mr. J跨年外遊時講過回港後要一寫2017年嘗過的好酒回顧,依家港已回,是時候找數了。說實在,這年試過的威士忌款式說多不多,但又絕對不算少(三四百款吧),要從中選出10款上榜我也思考了很久,唯有隨心而發,只記我特別想書寫的酒款。此榜排名不分先後,也沒有給予分數;畢竟能被懶於寫字的人記下來,應該都是值得細試的好酒吧(笑)。

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The Cooper’s Choice, Golden Grain, Blended Grain Whisky, 1964/2016, 51yo, Cask #1303, 49.5%

資深酒友對CC的Golden Grain系列應該不陌生,這支酒特別之處在於作為「調和穀物威士忌」,它竟然有「酒桶編號」!Whiskyfun’s Serge曾推論指這是入桶前先混和的做法,該做法也是1950s-60s時Ben Nevis和Lochside的常見工序。對不熟悉此Blended at Birth做法的朋友,讓Mr. J補充少許資料。自加拿大商人Mr. Joseph Hobbs於1955年收購了Ben Nevis Distillery之後,它馬上為蒸餾廠添置了一座連續式蒸餾器(coffey still),讓Ben Nevis成為了蘇格蘭歷史上第一間同時生產麥芽威士忌和穀物威士忌的蒸餾廠(今天唯一的雙軌釀造蒸餾廠Loch Lomond在1966年才建廠,亦於1993年才近入連續式蒸餾器)。

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而Hobbs亦替Ben Nevis創新了一種新的調配技術,就是「新酒融合」(blending new makes at birth),將自家製的麥芽新製烈酒和穀物新製烈酒先混和,然後才裝桶陳熟。兩年之後,1957年Hobbs再買下Lochside Brewery並將之改造成一所穀物威士忌蒸餾廠,在1961年添置4座壺式蒸餾器(pot still)後,Hobbs便將Ben Nevis的「新酒融合」做法引進Lochside。據悉這個「非行規」的做法在Hobbs於1964年去世後便停止了,所以,對Golden Grain系列來說,1964這個vintage year是有重大意義的一年。這支51年Blended Grain Whisky在麥芽狂人圈都被認為是Ben Nevis與Lochside所造的穀物新製烈酒調和以後陳熟的出品。

網上圖片;Source: http://bit.do/d4fiD

網上圖片;Source: http://bit.do/d4fiD

Nose:

The ethanol is stronger than I expected, with tiny bit of fresh greenness (which is out of the blue, as I knew how old it is). First come the caramel sweetness, then herby candy. The grain-ness is like an old bourbon. Hint of rum-like leathery note. Very subtle citrusy at the end. The longer I nose it, the more I like it. Among the top classes of the grain family for sure.

Palate:

First it comes tobacco smoke, sugar sweet, oak spice, not much tannin tho’. After some time, coconut, and surprisingly some chocolate note (between milky and dark). Again, it tastes better after every sip. Excellent stuff.

Finish:

A long finish, with sugar sweet, and spicy chocolate, plus a subtle note of tobacco smoke still hangs around till the end. Excellent grain whisky I must say.

Whisky Magazine Editor’s Choice – Cragganmore, 1992/2015, 22yo, Cask# 4614, 55.7% CS

這支WM編輯之選為2015年裝瓶,以Mr. J觀察,香港酒友們普遍對Cragganmore這間蒸餾廠認識不是太深。這也不出奇,因為除了OB 12yo以外,其他較高年份的OB作品在香港也屬非常罕見。Cragganmore Distillery由曾管理Glenlivet、Macallan、Dailuaine等酒廠的John Smith所創,於1869年建廠在位於Speyside的Ballindalloch西邊。

除了水源因素以外,Cragganmore的選址也是基於當時Strathspey Railway這條古老鐵路的車站位置,據稱當年Smith就是看中了鐵路帶來的方便(如可從低地區運來木桶與煤碳,又可迅速地將新烈酒運送到調酒裝瓶工場),建廠時便與相關人士談好,以建一段連接Ballindalloch Station的路軌。其中相傳了一個笑話,說當酒廠的「私家火車站」建好以後,Smith本想試乘一下,無奈他的身型過份「健碩」,怎樣嘗試也進不了車廂,最後只好放棄。Mr. J選錄這支22年的Cragganmore是枚果香炸彈!

Whiskiology圖

Whiskiology圖

Nose:

Love the nose! Simply love it! Malty sweetness comes first, marshmallow-like. Wanna say it’s floral at first, but then I corrected myself. It is a fruits-bomb instead! Apple, Korean round pear, strawberry, hint of tangerine, with tiny bit of mint in the background. Slightly rubbery as of snake fruit without the artificial fragrance of bubble gums.

Palate:

A bit spicier than I expected. Honey, with weight (unlike the oiliness of Clynelish). Woody bitterness right behind the sweetness, could be the tannins I suppose. Quiet mellow I should add. After few drops of water, the bitterness is minimized, and the honey sweetness becomes more upfront. So I say adding water to this one is definitely a plus.

Finish:

The spiciness dominates the aftertaste. Together with honey and woodiness, there goes a long finish.

The Cooper’s Choice, Littlemill, 1984/2015, 31yo, Bourbon Cask, Cask#3902, 46.5%

Mr. J對Littlemill這酒廠有種情意結,因為它是我最早接觸的一間已關威士忌蒸餾廠。普遍來說,很多酒友都曾向Mr. J表示不太喜歡Littlemill的酒,因為大多有一種「草青味」,特別是OB出品,或許真的如此,不過喜歡Littlemill的朋友,有時就是喜歡它夠青,例如同是來自香港的威友Single Cask就曾表示被Littlemill鮮明的「農場氣息」和「清新舒爽的草味」吸引(Mr. J認同草青風格的確是其酒廠特色,不過也不太懂欣賞就是了,所以會購買的幾乎全都是IB作品)。

說回Littlemill這間蒸餾廠,一直相傳至它1992年關廠為止(Mr. J按:1994年Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Co Ltd購入廠址並想將之改造成威士忌博物館,只是最後不了了之,而所有設備也於1996年搬離酒廠,同年存酒庫也被拆除了。所以,應算最終還有運作的1992年為正式關廠日期),是蘇格蘭最古老的蒸餾酒廠,Brian Townsend的書甚至說在George Buchnan設立Littlemill時,Auchentorlie Estate的原址很可能已有一所運作中的蒸餾廠(網上有傳在1300s已經存在)。屬是屬非,Mr. J留待歷史研究的朋友去探索好了。說回這支酒,酒廠的青草氣息完全不見,反而是引人入勝的水果香甜,IB的Littlemill果然偶有驚喜。

Whiskiology圖

Whiskiology圖

Nose:

Very straight forward passion fruit, apple, and Indonesian snake-skin-fruit. Also hint of grapefruit, and very subtle of peachy note (not the extraordinary Japanese peaches tho’). No detection of any green grassy note, with some vanilla towards the end. The overall nose is sweet, fruity, and well balanced.

Palate:

Fruity sweetness for sure. Some white grapes, and peach. Very subtle hint of ripe tangerine. It’s rich and complex, although only at 46.5% ABV, the expression is powerful.

Finish:

Medium to long finish. Still very fruity, dominated by grapefruit and later developed orange. Tiny bit of sweet spice, but it’s warm and comfy. An outstanding Littlemill, highly recommended.

馬可波羅窖藏實驗室 – MPC.Lab包桶:成吉思汗(The Emperor Genghis Khan), Glenturret, 1986/2017, 30yo, Cask#344, Hogshead, 50.5%

台灣友人社團的包桶,據友人言:「馬可波羅素以熱情、專業、以及購買力聞名。奔放且明顯的老酒香氣正能襯托出社團的熱情與專業的選酒能力。破天荒的包下高年份酒且能完售則是展現出社團的強大購買力」(原句來的,Mr. J沒刪減一字,哈哈)。選這個桶的源起是酒商豪邁進了一批有質素的桶子,在VIP買貨以後,還有些可釋出,於是就聯絡不同社團看看他們有沒有興趣包桶作社酒。馬可波羅包括友人的幹部四人組便出發到台北試sample,到達時友人說那桶的sample只餘下不到10ml了;四人中只有兩人能品飲(因為餘量太少了),其他的只有聞香的份子。品飲完友人馬上下的結論是:「老酒該有的風味它都有,就是這支了!」聞說當時馬可波羅的社長在旁邊冒冷汗,因為他要負責出錢(笑)。

友人提醒包桶要注意的地方,就是在橡木桶中上下層的風味可能會有差異,取sample前最好要求負責人先將桶內的酒攪混一下,這樣sample的酒與裝瓶後的風味品質會較一致。Mr. J帶了一瓶回來,實在要恭喜馬可波羅窖藏實驗室 – MPC.Lab!你們挑了一支好利害的酒!

Whiskiology圖

Whiskiology圖

Nose:

Ethanol sense is a bit too much at first. And then slightly after, alluring fruity sourness! Must say, the kickoff of the nose is extremely good! Afterwards, there’re lemon tart, and sourer-than-usual Taiwanese pineapple cake, the aroma is steady and has the character of well matured old whiskies. Let it rest for another 10mins, it starts to appear honey-orange fruit punch, Australian watermelon cake (with a touch of creaminess), and then hint of green plum at the back, with some herby honey too. High quality stuff!

Palate:

First mouth is honey cake, where the honey with some weight is still flowing on the cake surface. Wow! Ripe fruits sweetness, unlike the usual malt sweetness. Maybe due to the high ABV, tongue gets a bit paralyzed. And slowly, some flavouring spices are detected.

Finish:

Finish is medium-short, it’s like when two lovers are breaking up, but one of them simply walked away without a word. Mr. J thinks this is a bit of a downfall for the whisky. The short finish is dominated by fruity sweetness, accompanied by a little woody bitterness; but interestingly, all the flavouring spices disappeared quickly. Overall, the nose has excellent layers forming great complexity, and is exactly the style Mr. J likes, the alluring fruity sourness certainly owns me. Palate is relatively simple, but it is not a bad thing; particularly after the intensive nosing workout, the simple and easy palate can act as relief period for our tasting interval training program. This allows you to comfortably enjoy the dram. If the finish could be a little bit longer, I say this is a flawless one. However, there are always bummers in life; or should I say, living without defects, is no life at all?

Douglas Laing’s Old Malt Cask, Ardbeg, 1972/2001, 29yo, 6mth Sherry Cask Finish, 50%

Ardbeg雅柏這間如此出名的Islay蒸餾廠相信不用Mr. J多介紹,酒廠近年出了不少OB限量款,不過酒友間評價不一,更有不少外國麥芽狂人表示OB的10年基本款造得比很多特別款出色得多。不過這裡想說的一瓶並非OB出品,而是來自Douglas Laing的Old Malt Cask系列,與不少資深酒友交流時,發現他們大都認為OMC中有很多「伏酒」(香港用語:伏者,中伏也,意指墜進陷阱之中)。平心而論,Mr. J是同意酒友們這普遍觀感的,然而,在酒圈有傳言該獨立裝瓶商會將OMC系列中最出色的酒款的封瓶seal用上不同的顏色,傳言Mr. J還未向裝瓶商證實,不過,想記錄的這瓶酒的seal,又剛好是那一種傳說中的顏色。呵呵!

Whiskiology圖

Whiskiology圖

Nose:

Super-lemony, and then a few seconds later, it turns to honey lemon! Not as intense as the current OB Ardbeg Ten (quite surprised as it’s at 50% ABV), but this one has subtle note of passion fruit, which is seldom found in today’s Ardbeg. Some hint of Islay peat in the background, that’s just minimal tho’, with some sweet seaweed hangs around. Quite a nice old peated whisky here!

Palate:

Smoky sweet malt, burnt wood, Islay medicinal peat, consistent with the nose, some honey lemon towards the back. I don’t quite get the sherry cask influence tho’ (could that be a not very active butt?).

Finish:

Looooong, and warming. Honey sweetness, with tiny bit of smoke accompanying, a very comfy finish. High quality stuff.

 

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