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

Saturday, May 3, 2008

... Long Live the King!

Where's Jim Phelps when I need him? This mission could be damned near impossible...

Continuing the trend of experimenting with a cheap, barely drinkable whisky, rather than risking a more expensive one, I have selected a Glen Parker Speyside for the next batch. I know what you're thinking. Glen Parker? Am I crazy? Quite possibly, but hey: if I'm going to follow the effects of maturation, why not start with something so young it's offensive?

For the uninitiated, Glen Parker is rather like the mystery meat of the whisky world. No one seems entirely certain what it is. It's a Speyside, with no age mentioned, and here in Ontario it costs about $36 per bottle. It is rumoured to be just a bottling of whatever single malt the independant bottler can get his hands on at the time, such as Glenfiddich or Glenfarclas, that the distillers just want to be rid of rather than besmirch their good names by selling it under their own banner. And, after sampling a bit of it, I can see why.

I challenge anyone to find a good review of the stuff which actually describes it; I have been unsuccessful. I have however found a number of mentions on just how god-awful it really is. It's one of the favourites on the "what whisky would you never buy again" and the "are there really any bad single malts" fora over at Whisky Magazine. Yes. I said fora. Not forums. I didn't spend three long years studying Latin for nothing. Semper ubi sub ubi, my friends.

Linguistic peculiarity aside, I have to concur with the rest of the plebeians out there: Glen Parker Speyside is terrible. Its nose is a weak yet still impressively malodorous blend of such delightful aromas as tar, rubber (like a pencil eraser), wet straw and moss or mildew. Rather like how a stack of old tires and bales of hay would smell if stored in a wet stone cellar. I had been unimpressed by the McClelland's Islay, but I take my hat off and salute the Glen Parker: I had not thought a whisky could smell so unappetizing.

It's a good thing, then, that the taste is quite different from the bouquet. Well, in theory it's a good thing. In reality, it's really no better, merely different. It tastes of fish. I'm not talking the salty tang of a good stiff sea breeze. Nope. I'm talking fish. Along with the piscatorial deliciousness, there's a strong component of pine boughs and resin. There's also some oatmeal. I can't find vanilla, fruit, fresh grass, smoke or any of the other tastes one can commonly associate with whisky. Just fish, pine trees and oatmeal. It makes for rather a pungent, lip-puckering combination.

It also comes in a green bottle. Not that that actually is of any importance, but it's not something I see terribly often. Just another thing to make this particular whisky all the more unique.

So, this is going to be a difficult trial. I think it's likely that the barrel will have lost a reasonable amount of its oakiness by this point, after having had water, sherry, Whisky Works and McClelland's in it already. I imagine, then, that it will take longer than a few weeks to get the Glen Parker to any state even vaguely resembling drinkability. It may not even be possible. But we shall see.

I won't be here to let you know about the Glen Parker experiment next weekend: I'm at the Spirit of Toronto. I'll try to take a camera with me to get a few shots of the show and I'll let you know how it went and how the Glen Parker is coming along early the following week.

Undauntedly yours,



Anonymous said...

On the linguistics: the linked pages are threads, not fora! Impressive Latin though.

Also, I'd recommend doing a big post on the Spirit of Toronto (with lots of pics). Chances are if you do you'll get a lot of links from other blogs or fora!



Ian said...

True, true...they are threads rather then fora. I guess I just couldn't resist. If only I could find a way to incorporate some ancient Greek, I'd be set....:-)

I'll take as many photos as I can of the Spirit of Toronto show. It should be a blast. Friends have gone to similar events in Halifax and Montreal, and have reported a fantastic time. But then again, how could hanging around with hundreds of whisky aficionadi be anything but fantastic?