...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Monday after Peetin' Meetin'

The LA Scotch Club's annual Peetin' Meetin' commenced this past Saturday.  I was present and am still in one solid piece.  There was great PEATED barbecue, rockin' live tunes by the Brick Top Blaggers, cocktails mixed by the Seven Grand bartenders, sunshine, spring water, and large quantities of phenolic restorative.

Because many of the 80-100 bottles are of cask strength, the opportunity to get dangerously drunk is ever-present at the fest, but all 130+ attendees were quite responsible with their intake.  That's not to say that any of us were sober at the end, but it was nice to see folks enjoying the evening without getting stupid.  Whisky is meant to be consumed, not vomited up.

I will attend again next year.  I encourage you to do so as well.

Here's that pic I posted on Saturday:
I'm pretty sure there were a few additional bottles, but it was pretty difficult to tell once the fun had begun.  Independent bottlings of Laphroaig were everywhere, actually there were tons of indies around which always makes Thekrav a happy boy.  Diageo, Ardbeg, and Duncan Taylor were there, pouring their goods.  The only bottling that I wanted to try but missed out on was the Octomore 2/140.  That went very very quickly.  And, apparently there was a 27yr Caol Ila from Duncan Taylor that was enjoyed with alacrity before I found the empty bottle.

But I don't regret a damned thing from that night.  I tried 13 whiskies, received a shirt and a dram glass, sang along to "The Wild Rover", met some great people, and departed the ceremony on my own two feet.  THANK YOU again to Kristen for providing transportation.

Here are my actual Peatin' Meetin' notes from my phone, only edited to fix damn-you-auto-correct, with post-Meetin' comments in italics.

Ardbeg Supernova 58.9%ABV - like the Ten but freaking enormous; salt, seaweed, black peat smoke on the nose; brown sugar with lemon zest and the peat hammer in the palate and finish.
Folks didn't seem to realize that this extremely scarce (in the US) bottling was there for the drinking, so I went back for two passes.  It felt like the Ten on 'roids, in a good way.  I would still choose Uigeadail and Corryvreckan over it.

Clear Creek McCarthy's Oregon Single Malt - young but calm, almost sleepy; forgot about it already; come on America!

I really want to like this three-year-old malt from Portland.  It's a from a small family business that imports peated Islay barley, then distills it and casks it in Oregon oak.  But maybe it just couldn't stand up next to the Supernova leviathan.  I understand that the aged spirits business is a tough one, but I wonder what the whiskey would be like if it had eight years in oak?  I'm willing to give this another try on its own someday.

SMWS 127.13 (Port Charlotte 8yrs) 65.7%ABV - medium-peat, hot, industrial tar and sap and smoke followed by a bright fruit explosion
A muscular crazy PC that would have benefitted from some added water.  Bruichladdich really has their peated spirit in good shape.

Longrow 14yr - farmyardy sooty on the nose, salted, smooth peat, i luv longrow
I do.  I love Longrow.  It can hold serve with the Islay monsters, but has a character all its own.  Serge V. found coal stoves and wet dogs in the nose; that I can understand.  On a side note, these aged Longrows are 30-40% cheaper in the UK and that's INCLUDING international shipping.

Lagavulin 16yr - cinammon brown sugar cognac sugared peat vanilla cake rubber tarry on the nose, smoke stronger on palate with some bright spices like clove, nice bitterness, soft texture, a little vegetal after some time, it's a little different every time I drink it
Lagavulin 16 is getting more mysterious each time I try it.  It's always enjoyable, but constantly reveals different palates with each tasting.  There were moments when the palate felt similar to Ardbeg, but that may have been a sensory hiccup.

Lagavulin 12yr 2009 release; 57.9%ABV - mint on palate, bourbon oak on nose, lots of oak but also lots of malt, lots of lots; vegetal peat, wood ashes, brown sugared peat, seaweed and coast on palate and finish
I really liked this one.  It had a significantly stronger ABV than the 16yr, but also had a more lively spirit.  A million miles from the welcoming soothing character of the 16, this whisky wants to pick a fight.

Caol Ila distillers edition (I think 2010) - a lot of people liked this one, i didn't; weird bitterness in the smoked finish, an odd sweetie otherwise
A Moscatel finish.  My nose and palate seem to reject most non-sherry wine finishes, including this one.  My opinion is probably not to be trusted on this whisky.

Caol Ila 12yr - toffee and peat on the palate, honey and apple juice but also a little gaseous on the nose, very drying but short finish
I dumped half of this sample into the grass, I'LL ADMIT IT NOW!  It wasn't bad, but it really can't dance next to the Lagavulins.

Ardmore 19yr 1992 Whisky Doris 49.6%ABV - **WINNER** - loveliest nose of the night: flower blossoms and citrus punch with oaky red starburst candy; palate starts mild then goes to a fruit tart, boozy ladyfingers, the fruit explosion lasts through the finish: oranges & peaches
I'm considering buying this one if I can pull together the cash.  I nosed this Ardmore for 20-25 minutes before sipping.  I went back for a second round just to try to figure out how to describe it.  Probably one of the best noses I've ever experienced.  But it was also my ninth whisky of the night.

Stellar phone photography courtesy of Me
SMWS 127.19 (Port Charlotte 9yr) - 66%ABV thus hot and spicy, also peat
Holy moley, this was a heater.  I don't even understand how they're delivering a 66%ABV liquid after nine years in a Scottish climate.  Heading into George T. Stagg territory with that ethyl.  This needs serious water to flush out its mysteries.

The Corryvreckan - because
it was there

Penderyn Peated Welsh Single Malt - piney, bland peat felt added, a pipsqueak next to The Corry and PCs.

Also had this alongside my second Ardmore pour.  I'm rooting for Welsh whisky, but I would actually trust their wine finishes over this.  Or maybe even their regular malt.

Brora 1972-1993 G&M's Connoisseur's Choice - @40% ABV insanely drinkable, peat beautifully integrated w/ the rest, all malt almost no oak, but a bit weak
This one...well...I wasn't supposed to have this one as it was only for members (though I'll be one soon). But I had it anyway. I will break rules for a Brora. Gordon & Macphail just updated their Connoisseur's Choice line so that it'll be 46%ABV and unchillfiltered going forward. Had this one been 46% and UCF, it would have easily made my all time top five. Alas it was stretched thin at 40%. Will I ever have another Brora opportunity? I hope so!

Because an event like this isn't the best atmosphere for full Single Malt Reports and ratings -- peat smoke, barbecue and food scents, cigars, cigarettes, fresh air!, and, you know, socializing.  But if I were to rank these, not including The Corryvreckan:

Ardmore 19yr 1992 Whisky Doris
Lagavulin 12yr 2009
Longrow 14yr
Lagavulin 16yr
Brora 1972-1993 G&M
Ardbeg Supernova
SMWS 127.13 (Port Charlotte 8yr)
SMWS 127.19 (Port Charlotte 9yr)
Caol Ila 12yr
McCarthy's Oregon Single Malt
Caol Ila distillers edition
Penderyn Peated

Yes, the Brora finished 5th out of 12.  Perhaps it was the 40% ABV, the chillfiltering, and almost twenty years in the bottle, but it felt like I was getting only a hint of the Brora spirit's greatness.

Otherwise, had I the $$$, I would purchase any of the top four.  If the planets align, I'd like to do proper reports at least six of the whiskies.  We'll see what the next year brings.

Happy Monday!


  1. I've talked to Steve McCarthy, who owns Clear Creek distillery before. He said that they'd like to age their whiskey for longer, but it sells so briskly that they can't keep up with demand. I really liked their 2009 release, which was reminiscent of Ardbeg 10, but a little less complex.

  2. I hope to visit Clear Creek Distillery when I finally get to Oregon. I'm really rooting for Steve. I wonder if they are able to expand a little, maybe hide a cask or two or ten away each year for further aging. But it's good to hear that they're doing so well!

    I found a bar in LA that has McCarthy's (not sure which release) so I'm going to give it a go on its own one of these days soon.

  3. Well, if you ever make it up this way, you're welcome to come by for a drink. My liquor cabinet is always open.

  4. Thank you very much! I was going to drop you a line about Portland, since the gal and I were just discussing the Oregon trip today. Hoping to make the drive within the next few months or in early 2013. I'll give you plenty of lead time beforehand.

    Thanks again.

  5. Once again, I'm still quite jealous. I'm a bit let down by your opinion of McCarthy's Single Malt, since I'd been looking forward to trying it (as we discussed). I'll probably still give it a shot if I ever find a local bar that carries it, but my interest has slightly waned.

    Your review of the Longrow 14 has greatly piqued my interest. I found it for around $96 US (including shipping) from several UK sites whilst our local stores are selling it for at least $120! Try figuring that one out...

  6. Hey Josh,

    Rosewood Tavern in Hwood has McCarthy's. Daily Pint on the Westside probably does. Seven Grand downtown LA definitely does. Don't know who has it in OC. I will give it another try, but on its own.

    I've liked all four Longrows I've tried. I think the price difference has to do with their US distributor deal. There are quite a number of smaller distilleries whose bottles are priced better in the UK. I'll let you know next time I'm doing a UK order in case you want to save on shipping.

    I'll let you know ahead of time when the next Peetin' Meetin' is -- probably the last weekend of July 2013. You should go!!!

  7. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6se4_rHyBc

  8. It does boggle the mind how much cheaper Springbank (+Hazelburn/Longrow) whiskies are in the US compared to the UK. Even with $10 a bottle in shipping, it's still a whole lot cheaper to order from Master of Malt most of the time. Though The Party Source does have a few interesting ones on sale right now, like a cask strength Longrow sherry finish.

  9. I saw that Party Source sale. It's fantastic. I hope they keep it going. Otherwise, yeah, Master of Malt is considerably cheaper on all the Springbankers (other than the CVs) even with shipping included. I'm wondering if it's a conscious choice or Springbank has distribution problems.

    Curiously, the Springbank 12y cask strength is only 10-12 dollars more than the regular 10yr around LA. At Binny's it's only $5 more.

  10. To Rob:


  11. K&L got a cask strength McCarthy's a couple years ago and what was surprising was that it was bottled at 49% but it was still about 3 years old. Made me realize the angels' share is a lot more pronounced in Oregon than in Scotland (Stranahan's in Colorado has the same issue which they solved by keeping the barrels wet).

    1. From what I've heard, McCarthy's can vary a bit from batch to batch, so I'll be sure to give it another shot next year.

      I didn't realize that Oregon had such a high angel's share, even more than Amrut in Bangalore?

    2. I have a feeling it's all about the weather. Whether it's the humidity or some other factor (high temperatures shouldn't be a major issue in Oregon compared to India), something is making the angels gobble up their share. Stranahan's claims that the high Colorado elevations also contribute to evaporation.

    3. Good point about the humidity. Hadn't considered that.

  12. Lagavulin 16 is probably why I'd be unable to boycott Diageo. After a bad experience with a bottle of Finlaggan from Trader Joe's, I found myself avoiding Islay single malts until I decided to get a bottle of Lagavulin 16 based on Ralfy's review. At 16 years old, Lagavulin hits the right balance between sweet and peat which I'd have trouble letting go. In fact, the nose reminds me of the McDonald's barbeque sauce that I dipped my McNuggets in when I was a child so this whisky just called to me.

    And most importantly, Ron Swanson recommends Lagavulin and really, who can argue with him?

    1. Ron Swanson is always correct.

      Diageo is sitting on some of the best whisky in the known universe. Damn it. Costco has been selling Lag 16 at a ridiculous price recently too. I can totally see that BBQ sauce note!

    2. Almost forgot.

      Someone needs to tell Ron Swanson that straight sided tumblers don't concentrate the smells as well as tulip-shaped glasses but I think I want to live for a long time. Props to the show for actually using a real Lagavulin 16 bottle.

    3. Great character specifics by the writing team. They could have had a label-less, or generic, bottle of whisky, but they showed that the man likes good stuff. Or it's just a marketing plug paid for by Diageo. Would Ron Swanson really pay $75 for a bottle of booze?

    4. That was a definite marketing plug probably paid for by Diageo. In an earlier episode Ron Swanson orders a glass of Lagavulin 16 for Adam Scott's character (great reaction/acting to Lagavulin by Adam Scott by the way). The bottle of Lagavulin in the bartender's hand was out of focus with the label pointed away from the camera. Suddenly a later episode has a clear shot of the bottle? Diageo's marketing department must have caught Ron name dropping Lagavulin...