Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Oh God, I had such good intentions to get this blog ticking along with regular updates, but the truth is that practical matters have conspired against me of late. On the one hand, I have a new job which keeps me busy, but – frustratingly – I still can’t afford to buy all the adventurous whiskies I would like as I need to save for luxuries like rent and food.

There were a few weeks there when my collection was coming along, albeit in a slightly mainstream way. I had bottles of Clynelish 14, Cragganmore 12, Bailie Nicol Jarvie (blend) and Royal Lochnagar 12. Sad to say, when my bank card got swallowed by an evil machine I was sans funds for a while and they all made their way down my gullet, leaving me back at square one.

Of the four the Clynelish was my favourite, offering a distinctly fruity experience on first sip but blooming into a big spicy finish with a vaguely rum-like quality. I intend to get another bottle next month ’cause I reckon it’ll be a lovely little warmer on a cold autumnal evening. At the other end there was the BNJ, a nicely packaged blend that knocks spots off your usual high street crap and a cracking deal at £13.50 from Oddbins.

The other two were also on offer at the ‘bins and my experience of them was strangely opposed. The Cragganmore claims “the most complex aroma of any malt” and I can’t deny it’s a very beguiling experience on the nose. As you can see I’m not doing proper tasting notes in this post, but if memory serves there was a subtle whiff of parma violets in there that was new to me in a whisky, and I do prize novelty in my malts. After such an olfactory orgy it’s maybe no surprise that the palette disappointed me. I’m perfectly prepared to accept my own inexperience in this matter, but it just wasn’t in-my-face enough to impress me. Nice enough, and probably worth the £23 I spent on it, but I would have felt a twinge of regret if I’d bought it full price at £28.

Now, the guy at Oddbins has been trying to foist the Royal Lochnagar on me for weeks, so when it was the last of the malts on special offer I finally caved in and went for it. I’d been skeptical because it was described to me as “Prince Charles’s favourite” (don’t ask me why this put me off – residual republican feelings?) and “very smooth”. Smoothness isn’t really a quality I pursue in whiskies; I prefer rough edges, some bite, a progression of flavours or some unique influence. I anticipated that the Lochnagar would be a very MOR experience. And so it proved to be: smooth indeed, rounded and with nothing in particular to recommend it besides being a pleasant drinker. At some point, however, maybe halfway down the bottle, I was suddenly struck by the sensation of melted ice cream and it was as if the penny had dropped – I enjoyed the remainder of the bottle very much more for having this “handle” on it.

But now they’re all gone, and I’m starting from scratch with a bottle of Balvenie Double Wood I picked up at Sainsbury’s for £23.55 (check it out if you have a big store near you). Malt of the Month, for reasons of economy and value, is going to have to be the BNJ.

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