Sunday, 19 May 2013

Glenfarclas 2003 Whisky Shop Exclusive

I don't usually pay that much attention to design and packaging, or at least I don't think I do. Or maybe I just like to think I don't. Maybe the people that do the designing of the packaging know that there are people like me that like to think that they don't pay attention, and they are sitting there (possibly in a large leather-covered swivel chair stroking a cat) feeling pretty smug knowing they entice 'people who don't pay attention to packaging' into buying well-packaged products day after day. These people have degrees in things after all... Mwahahahahahahaha!

What was my point? Well this all goes back to a conversation I had the other week about Glenfarclas 105. It's a cask-strength sherry-monster, rather like the Aberlour Abunad'h - which is one of my personal favourite whiskies from back in my Oddbins days... and I've never tried it. I couldn't really put my finger on why - after all it ticks all the whisky boxes for me, being powerful and rich with oodles of sherry cask influence. I wondered whether it might be the packaging. I've had Glenfarclas 10 on occasions and while it's a perfectly decent whisky it doesn't really grab me by my sherry-loving palate and make me want to try the rest of the range. The it struck me that it might be the labels - they're just not really very... anything. Not bad, in the way that things can get bad, particularly when it comes to beer, just... uninspiring.

In the interest of regaining my faith in myself for looking beyond the packaging I tried the Whisky Shop's exclusive Glenfarclas 2003 vintage. It's similarly labelled to other Glenfarclas, but if it's not in disguise it's definitely a plain clothes operation because, wow, what a whisky! It's got a sugared almond/marzipan nose, the sherry influence coming through much more than the ten year old expression. It still retains its youthful exuberance though, and on the palate the venerable sherry dances with the speyside fruit, sultanas, demerara sugar and a touch of vanilla spice.

Next stop I think will have to be the 105, now I know the packaging is just a cunning ruse from the nice guy in that chair over there. Wait, that's not a cat... Argh, my throat, get it off me!

Note: Although I got to try this whisky through work, I'm only writing about it because I really enjoyed it rather than some sort of work promotion!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The Wild Beer Co. 'Madness' IPA

Twitter drove me to drink! Well, this one in particular. With the huge number of new breweries that are springing up in the UK at the moment many must get lost in the white noise of the internet. The Wild Beer Co. seemed to have no such problem, I had heard about these guys on Twitter and various blogs a long time before I had a chance to try the beer... and I really wanted to try the beer. There's always the danger that breweries can't live up to the expectations that you might have of them, and of course the greater the expectation, the greater the chances. Wild Beer Co's beers certainly look the business; simple, powerfully eye-catching design urging you to get drinking, but what about the beer?

On popping open the bottle you're assailed by mouth (and almost eye) watering pine and pith hop aroma, which is I'm sure what gave that deer that expression on the bottle. It's just what you want from a summery American style IPA. It runs the full gambit of citrus fruit, they're all in there; lime, clementine, grapefruit. The finish is superbly clean, the dry bitterness cleansing the palate of all that citrus-sherbert goodness and throwing you into the next mouthful.

I could probably go on... Did I enjoy it? Well, I put in a well-overdue beer order this morning and I ordered pretty much everything else Ales by Mail had from Wild Beer. I suppose they lived up to the expectation.

6.8% abv. £2.88 (33cl) from Beer Ritz.