2017年10支Mr. J想記錄下來的威士忌(下)

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唔洗急慢慢嚟無需要快

 
上篇
 
上篇寫了去年選錄的5款酒以後,有讀者催促Mr. J快快推出下篇。所謂慢工出細貨、欲速則不達,Mr. J向來較著重文章的深度,從未想過要成為一日一文的快筆。若只是要寫得快,其實一點也不難,大量「抄考」網上海量的市場推廣語言偽術就可以了,這也是今天不少「專家」專欄、foodie blogger等的做法;對Mr. J來說其實無乜所謂,百貨應百客,反正「神抄之塔」一樣大把人玩,只是若你散佈的資料錯得太過份,去到誤導他人的時候,很多作威士忌教育和推廣的朋友與Mr. J一樣,都認為適時糾正一下是必須的。部份讀了上篇的朋友跟Mr. J說,我選錄的5支入面有4支都屬老酒或舊酒,若非友人提起,其實Mr. J是沒察覺的;現在看看,又真是如此,而且《下篇》所選錄的5支威士忌,也全是老酒或舊酒耶(笑)。

 

  1. Diageo Special Release 2017, Convalmore, 1984/2017, 32yo, Refill American Oak Hogsheads, 48.2%

其實初試這酒之時,Mr. J基本上已經肯定它會入選今年的10大威錄。說來慚愧,這支SR 2017其實是Mr. J第一款品試的Convalmore,但一試便墜入愛河了,這種由肉身碰撞觸發的愛欲情感使我著迷,能遇到如斯對口味的酒實在不能錯過。初嘗後的短短數星期Mr. J便找齊了過往出品的Special Release Convalmore,全都是超高水準作品!Mr. J還到過酒吧品試過去United Distillers(即Diageo集團的部份前身)推出的Rare Malts系列Convalmore(24yo, 59.4%, bottle#2549, Bottled April 2003),雖然Mr. J覺得SR系列的更加吸引,不過RMs這款同樣帶來一種品威的「知性享受」(intellectual enjoyment)。

(圖一:Black & White的著名「狗狗酒標」;Photo Source: https://goo.gl/TD9yzj)

Convalmore這間廠建於1894年,可惜當時正正是經濟衰落時期(也就是所謂的Edwardian recession),始創公司Convalmore-Glenlivet Distillery Co. Ltd. 十年後便將之易手WP Lowrie & Co. ,再於兩年後又轉手到James Buchanan & Co. 手中。Mr. J相信聽過James Buchanan & Co. 的朋友應該不會太多,它其實就是著名的Black & White調和威士忌的出品商,經過近百年間的合併與被收購,今日它已經是Diageo集團的一部份。Buchanan接手以後,曾在1909-1910年間重建酒廠,並為之引進了一套連續蒸餾系統用在麥芽威士忌製作上,不過該系統到底成功與否,就沒有任何記錄了。而Convalmore這間蒸餾廠也於1985年關門大吉,母公司Diageo在關廠之後將土地和建築賣給了William Grant & Sons,Diageo台灣的品牌大使Alex跟Mr. J說公司在這單買賣中加了一個附帶條件,就是William Grant & Sons不能再以Convalmore的名字再建廠和推出酒品,所以Convalmore這品牌名字還是屬於Diageo的。廠址位於斯貝纚(Speyside)之中,以往蘇格蘭有句名言:“Rome was built on seven hills, Dufftown stands on seven stills”,意思是說「羅馬建於七座山,達夫鎮則站在七座蒸餾器之上」,七座蒸餾器其實是指七間蒸餾廠,分別是Balvenie、Dufftown、Glendullan、Glenfiddich、Mortlach,和已閉廠的Parkmore與Convalmore。品酒筆記如下:

(圖二:Diageo Special Release中的其中兩瓶Convalmore)

Nose:

The ethanol was surprisingly strong at the first nose. And then you start to sense the waxiness, with a touch of saltiness. Bright melony, with hint of grassy note. Some orange peel, little bit lemony, with pleasant green floral fragrance. After a while, the malt sweetness gets more and more upfront. Excellent complexity, and everything combines so well forming an intellectual harmony!

Palate:

Mouth is quite heavy I must say! First, it comes vanilla honey, and it is accompanied with well-balanced oak spice. The note of herbal candy is also brilliant, and it leads to slowly developing salivating fruitiness! It’s just soooo GOOD!

Finish:

Great medium-long finish, dominated by warming spiciness, and herby sweetness. Extremely satisfying! Class-A material for sure~

 

  1. The Singleton of Glendullan, The Forgotten Drop Series, 40yo, 58.6% CS

在Mr. J主領的一些品酒會發現,雖然作為港台兩岸其中一個銷量最高的威士忌品牌,但原來有不少朋友都誤以為The Singleton是一所酒廠的名字。其實,The Singleton只是一個Diageo旗下品牌的名稱,很多人都不知道,最先以The Singleton這名字推出酒款的其實是Auchroisk這所蒸餾廠,當時為1986年。其實,在Balvenie與Glenmorangie兩酒廠在爭論誰是「過桶熟成技術第一人」的同期,Auchroisk亦有先於波本桶陳熟10年,再過桶至雪莉桶作兩年後續熟成的做法(如同今日Glenmorangie的Lasanta一般),只是它很少宣傳這個技術,所以大家都以為只有Balvenie與Glenmorangie才是過桶第一人的候選者(至於誰才是始創者,老實說Mr. J沒多大興趣)。而The Singleton這個品牌家族的酒現在是由三所蒸餾廠所提供,分別是Glen Ord、Dufftown、Glendullan。去年與威士忌權威作家Charlie MacLean傾談時,他說The Singleton這品牌最初推出的時候,Glen Ord是只在亞洲市場售賣的,Dufftown只在歐洲市場,而Glendullan則只在北美市場出售;三間酒廠各施其職。不過相信近年Diageo的銷售策略有變,讓The Singleton家族的全員在各大洲的市場都能找到。

由於The Singleton的低年份酒經常在香港卡拉OK、夜店等場合出現,讓酒友對之有微微的負面感覺,認為這品牌所推出的都是「cheap嘢」,其實不然!The Singleton旗下特別是高年份的限量作品中不乏好酒!只是過去Mr. J嘗過的高年份Singleton多數都是來自Glen Ord,Glendullan出品的真是第一次品嘗。去年初嘗這酒款的時候,同場一位來自Diageo的發言人告訴我:“You’re the very first few to taste it in the world.” 品酒筆記如下:

(圖三:The Singleton of Glendullan 40年,該廠少見的高年份作品)

Nose:

Very often, whiskies of this age will be overwhelmed by the influence of the cask, resulting in oak-juice where all distillery’s characters are gone; however, this is nothing close to the case. I was so surprised that this long aged whisky’s still very energetic! Slight touch of saltiness, white floral tune, and fresh fruits are all well in place.

Palate:

The palate has some fine sherry influence I guess. Upfront are some burnt-wood, and mile chocolate. Bit of waxy honey sweetness. Over time, more sherry, and vanilla. It’s well matured, but NOT old at all. Gotta give a big salute to The Singleton’s Master of Malts, Maureen Robinson! She’s done a great job!

Finish:

Medium finish, still quite energetic, with fruity sweetness and a sense of honeycomb.

 

  1. Highland Park, 17yo, ~1959 OB, Green Dumpy Bottle, 43%

眾所周知,Mr. J向來對Highland Park這品牌情有獨鍾(其中OB 18年是Mr. J買完一瓶又一瓶的佳作)!說實在,Edrington Group近年對Highland Park的市場策略令Mr. J大感不惑,首先,以非雪莉桶陳熟的酒款對比其展現出來的風味確是價高於實;另外過於瀕密的推出「限量酒款」亦令很多HP收藏家感到氣餒;然而,最最最令Mr. J失望的是,很多近年的限定款失卻了Highland Park獨一無二的特色!

(圖四:唯一不是用Orkney泥煤烘麥的HP酒款Loki;Photo Source: https://goo.gl/Qjuv3S)

Mr. J曾經與HP的高級品牌大使Martin Markvardsen討論何謂HP的獨有DNA?我倆有的共識是作為一支HP威士忌需要有delicate Orkney peat smoke和heathery honey sweetness,當然還要有一定的複雜性和平衡,所謂的酒廠風格是也!Highland Park與其他蘇格蘭酒廠之比,最重要的因素就是因為全蘇格蘭只有HP一家用上當地的Orkney泥煤,即使同樣身處Orkney群島,Scapa蒸餾廠並沒有使用本土泥煤。HP所用的泥煤大麥,基本上都是用一種叫Tartan的本土大麥,以同樣本土的Orkney泥煤烘乾(除了一酒款是例外的,就是「四神限量版」中的Loki,它所用的泥煤大麥是由Bairds Malt所提供,並以Caithness和Black Isle Peat烘麥)。因為Orkney群島的環境與蘇格蘭本島的不同,樹木較少(不是完全沒有樹,但是非常稀少;例如位於群島Mainland中的「快活谷」(Happy Valley)就是Orkney中一個著名的小樹林),而至當地泥煤的成份也有差異,Orkney的海岸線長滿很多不同的花,例如紫菀(aster)和石楠花(heather)等,長年累月以後它們都分解轉化為泥煤的構成部份。

此外,據悉在2010年以前,工人在切割泥煤時會將生長在泥煤地的石楠花一同拿去當烘麥燃料,或因如此,HP的泥煤氣息常被形容為滿有石楠花香調。可惜,HP的前全球品牌大使Daryl Haldane就曾表示其實那樣做並不會讓石楠花的氣味跑到威士忌去,所以該說法只是一個浪漫化的誤會。

(圖五:Orkney群島主島中的Happy Valley小樹林;Photo Source: Google Map)

遺撼的是,近年HP很多出品都缺少了酒廠風格的獨有細緻泥煤,例如很多歐洲機場或地區所推出的特別單桶作品,有不少都成了當代流行的「雪莉炸彈」(sherry bomb);過往的elegant smokiness經常性失蹤,實在可惜。唯有多喝喝老酒,懷緬一下逝去了的美好時光,品酒筆記如下:

(圖六:1950s的綠巨人系列,從未令Mr. J失望過)

Nose:

“Old Bottle” for sure! Ethanol sense is more intense than I thought, then some apple and citrus come in immediately. Some well-aged rum, honeycomb, and vanilla-wood! Afterwards, it comes some fine-sherry influence, and lightly smoked honey-peanuts! The nuttiness is more developed over time. Elegant complexity, absolutely fantastic!

Palate:

Quite creamy and mellow, and all kind of honey in place. Some raisins, milk chocolate, and hint of caramel-coffee. Slightly touch of Asian herb-tea, with embellishing note of wood-bitterness, with tiny hint of smoke. Well balanced HP with nice influence from good sherry cask(s), something the recent HP releases generally lack.

Finish:

Medium to long finish, with nutty honey and tobacco smoke. Wonderful HP, the green dumpies never disappoint me!

 

  1. Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, Director’s TACTICAL Selection, Talisker, 1974, 26yo, 45.5%

Talisker,另一建於島嶼上的蒸餾廠(位於Isle of Skye)。上篇提到了Douglas Laing的Old Malt Cask系列中封瓶錫紙的顏色暗語,這支Mr. J選錄的威士忌剛好又是那好像有特別意義的顏色(是不是巧合?看倌自行定斷好了)。Talisker實在也是一間相當被一般人低估的酒廠,它的OB 10年一直也是Mr. J家居必備酒款之一(除了品飲外,Talisker 10用在煮食上也有很好的效果)。除了部份資深老手,很多人都不知道Talisker曾是一所用三次蒸餾的威士忌酒廠,1928年以後才改作蘇格蘭恆常的兩次蒸餾。1972年以前,Talisker都是自行發麥的,現在就從同是Diageo集團的Glen Ord處取麥芽(據Malt Whisky Yearbook所言,ppm是22)。品酒筆記如下:

(圖七:Talisker的IB作品不多,而且也絕少授權以酒廠名稱出品,這支OMC也不例外)

Nose:

Smoked salty apple in the first nose, a lot of coastal aroma, lemony sourness. And then more and more fresh fruitiness! I detected some mango and lychee! (can’t remember when’s my last time tasting a whisky with lychee nose, it’s extremely rare) Unlike the recent Talisker 10, which has a clean nose, this one is a bit of a smoke-cloud. It’s like having a cigar with your oysters, with a little drop of peppery note at the back. The coastal scents simply blended well with the tropical style fresh fruitiness. Excellent stuff!

Palate:

Softer than I expected, certainly has the characters of typical well matured old whiskies. Still, there’s a touch of oiliness. Some earthy burnt wood comes together with the saltiness. Hint of the signatory peppery note, with a soft touch of peatiness.

Finish:

Long, sweet, peppery spice, but not salty in the finish. Kinda give you the feeling, “I’m satisfied.” in the end. A very impressive old Talisker for sure!

 

  1. The Very Finest Glenlivet Pure Malt Scotch Whisky, Very Old and Natural Strength (from Angus MacRaild)

遇到這瓶酒,是在高雄Whiskyfair威士忌專家Angus那一攤。據他所言,這支老Glenlivet以原桶強度裝瓶(natural strength)當時來說屬非常罕有,他猜測裝瓶年份很可能是191X,因此瓶中的威士忌,大有機會混有189X時期蒸餾的酒。Angus當時說,這支很可能是該刻全亞洲最老的威士忌。不過Mr. J翻查過部份拍賣網的資料卻說這支是1930s至1940s裝瓶的,無奈我對舊酒的研究還只是在很起步的階段,未夠能力判斷誰是誰非。希望新加坡威士忌博物館Auld Alliance老闆之一,著名收藏家Emmanuel Dron的新書能指點一下Mr. J迷津!

(圖八:一支很可能混有189X年蒸餾的酒的古老威士忌)

Nose:

First thing first, it comes the delicious green fruits sourness, then summer flowers. And I must add that the ethanol sense is stronger than expected. Overtime, some lavender developed, followed by some Japanese peach juice, green apple, and very tiny bit of maltiness at the end. Settled it for a few minutes, the maltiness becomes more obvious, and the sourness gets subtler.

Palate:

Powerful and intense! Warm wood leads out a balanced bitter-sweetness. Body is thick and heavy, a bit of paralyzing waxiness on the tongue. Contrast to the complex nose, the simple but powerful palate creates a nice relief period for your sensory system.

Finish:

Finish is loooooog! Dominated by the well combined bitter-sweetness, and little bit of oak spice acting as punch line pushing its excellence to another level. Highly recommended. (To be honest, I never thought the whisky is so good, and thought maybe I’m just drinking for its historic value before tasting it. Again, the good juice speaks for itself.)

 

 

謝謝各位捧場!希望下年的十威選會比今年的更出色!

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