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Friday, March 6, 2015

Single Malt Report: Bladnoch 1984-2004 Scott's Selection

I'm closing up Bladnoch Week with the oldest and strongest of the bunch, a 1984 from Scott's Selection.  I split this bottle with MAO of My Annoying Opinions.  When MAO last visited LA -- he flew across the country with his wife and children just to drop off my six ounces of whisky -- we had a chance to grab a full lunch of bowel organ soup and blistering fermented bamboo salad.  That's the sort of meal one doesn't fully appreciate until one is weeping on the terlit the following afternoon.  I look forward to his next visit.

I really have no helpful facts today.  Maybe some suggestions.  Don't ignore those random Scott's Selection whiskies still sitting on retailer shelves after 10+ years......unless you live in LA/OC county; those bottles should be left on the shelf for me.  Don't make prop bets and avoid the new table card games in Vegas, they're mathematically awful and designed for suckers.  Don't click on links that lead you to articles on penis size.  Wash your hands after using the bathroom.  Play outside.  Call your mother.

Distillery: Bladnoch
Ownership: ???
Bottler: Scott's Selection (R.I.P.)
Age: 20-ish years (1984-2004)
Maturation: Probably ex-bourbon casks
Region: Lowlands
Alcohol by Volume: 55.1%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No

I tried this one alongside yesterday's official 18 year old, first neat, then at 46%abv, then just below 40%abv...

The color is amber.  The nose is not hot considering its ABV.  First comes the fruits: lemons, limes, and lots of pineapple.  Then dates and dough.  A big hit of caramel.  Hell, it's a pineapple upside down cake.  With some whipped cream.  It's also occasionally meaty and farmy.  A brief whiff of camphor.  When I first hit this bottle, the palate was very soapy.  Thankfully that note, though still present, has since receded.  Now leading the way are lemons, barley, cayenne pepper, and a hint of perfume.  A lemon-creme-filled powdered doughnut.  Bitter honeydew, if that's a thing.  If the nose was a pineapple upside down cake with whipped cream and the palate is a lemon-creme-filled doughnut, then the finish is a pizzelle (with grains, sugar, vanilla, and a baked cookieness).  There's also lots of citrus, some of the cream and caramel from the nose, and some of that soap.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose is all fresh fruit (lemons, figs, pineapples, and melon) with whipped cream.  The palate loses more of the soap, gains rose petals and a light bitterness.  Then tart lemons, sugar, and caramel.  The soap comes back in the finish, followed by swirls of tart→sweet→bitter→sweet.

WITH WATER (<40%abv)
Lots of caramel on the nose.  Lots of barley sugary stuff too.  Citrus blossoms.  The palate is a pleasant over-steeped tea with raw sugar added.  Caramel again.  The finish continues to have a nice sweet/bitter interplay.

My first thought was this was a flapper girl of a whisky.  Then I thought it was the horn section in Tommy Dorsey's Opus One (which just happened to play while I was doing the tasting).  It has that life, perk, and energy.  But, the soap.

MAO posted his review of this specific bottle two months ago, and our findings are so similar that if we had done a simulpost the two reviews would have seemed redundant and perhaps suspicious.  I was glad to see that he found the soap note as well because I'd first tried this whisky the night after I'd had a soapy Imperial and was beginning to wonder if I was beginning to imagine soap.  Overall, he tolerates that note more than I this time.

To me, this whisky would have been a dazzler (90+ points maybe) without the soap.  But the soap is there and keeps knocking the thrills back slightly.  Time and water help wash it away.  Mostly.  Still, I've enjoyed it.  Thanks to this one and the '93 Signatory, I might just keep an eye out for my own bottle of UD-era indie Bladnoch in the future.

Availability - Happy Hunting (in the US)!
Pricing - anywhere from $150-$250
Rating - 86