the whisky lounge - a journal tracking a whisky maturation project involving a newly-acquired oak cask and a significant amount of patience

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Aesop's Tortoise

Many of you will have heard the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. If not, it's one of those ancient tales that has a moral at the end of it: you know, the stories from which you're meant to learn something. In this case, the relevant lesson is the well-known phrase "slow and steady wins the race." Or, in the original (should your browser be so equipped) "Ὅτι πολλαὶ φύσεις ἀνθρώπων εὐφυεῖς εἰσιν, ἀλλ' ἐκ τῆς ῥᾳθυμίας ἀπώλοντο, ἐκ δὲ νήψεως καὶ σπουδῆς καὶ μακροθυμίας τινὲς καὶ φύσεως ἀργῆς περιεγένοντο." And with that, I succeed in applying my years of studying ancient Greek! Doctor Fletcher would be so proud.

Slow and steady is the mantra for the Glen Parker experiment. I notice a difference in the 1.5 weeks it's been in the cask, but the changes are subtle. Much more subtle than those in the McClelland's in its first week, or in the Whisky Works. And to prove it, I'll do something I haven't done in what seems like ages. I'll show you a picture.

[as usual, click the photo to embiggen it]

Do you see it? Can you guess which is the one from the cask and which the bit I left in the bottle? If you can't figure it out, the casked one is on the left, the uncasked on the right. It is very slightly darker than the uncasked version, but the difference is very, very slight.

Observant readers might notice something else: the presence of not one, but two proper whisky glasses. The Spirit of Toronto show included one with the price of admission, and it conveniently matches the one given to me by Premium Bottlers, so I can finally at least pretend to be classy and show y'all whisky in its natural habitat rather than funky-shaped juice glasses.

On the nose, the difference is immediately apparent, yet not shocking. The first difference is that the tar and rubber have reduced. They're still there, but not nearly as overpoweringly so. The grainy hay is still present in all its glory. Added to the nose is a layer of smoke which hasn't integrated, but has definitely done some good nonetheless. There's also the faintest hint of a sweet fruit. Strawberry? Maybe: it's pretty indistinct, and will hopefully become more evident as we continue. It's only very slightly buttery.

The fishiness is still present on the tongue, but it's not in the same place. It starts with a pungent piney, oaky tang with a hint of fruit but not nearly enough, then as it begins to fade, fish and seaweed rear their heads just as the finish begins, leaving the whole affair rather sour and pungent. That's actually the perfect word for it: pungent. It puckers the lips and makes me want to have a drink of water to wash out the taste. Sound bad? It is. But it is an improvement over last week. Buried way down in there is the oak which works, but not in combination with the resinous pine and the fishy seaweed. I'm still looking for vanilla, smoke or the other flavours one would normally like to find, but I'm struggling. I keep thinking I catch them, but they're gone as quickly and as impossible to relocate as Keyser Söze. Oh, well. I'll keep looking next week.

Anyhow, I need to go reward myself with a dram of something tastier.

Until next time,

Ian

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