Thursday, August 7, 2014

Spilled her whisky, broke a shoelace kinda day...

Wednesday morning came bright and early, too bad the rest of me didn't catch up.  MIGRAINE! Fuuuuuuck... I'm on the road with no meds. I text my coworker in the next hotel room over - Do you have advil -> Yes she replies.  AMEN I answer. She knocks on the door and I swipe 3 (yes, 3). Stumble back to bed, swallow, lay down. 30 minutes later, holding my water/advil down I walk with eyes closed and stand in the shower.  Water pressure - Zero to none.  The water comes out of the shower head looking like a 80 year old limp penis (don't ask)... Well at least, that makes me smile.  

I manage to eat a piece of toast and the co-worker and I take off for the work site we are working at for the morning.  A -> Spill coffee on my pants.  B -> Contractors are no-shows. C) Technology is failing D) Work that was suppose to be completed, not even started.  And so the morning has begun...   Bah...

By 10:00, at least the migraine is gone but the work headaches continue. I won't go into details, but it was a whatever could screw up - it has day.  By 4:30 I was tired, brain numb and slightly pissed that I would be spending 2 more days in this hell hole!!!  
We drove back to the hotel and said we would meet for supper around 6:00.  I took my work clothes off, slipped into shorts/t-shirt and threw myself on the bed.  EXHAUSTED.  When I opened my eyes the first thing that caught them was my little whisky samples I had brought with me.  Excellent, I thought and grabbed #3.  Into the glencairn and off to grab my whisky book.
I bring the glass up to my nose, accidentally lose the grip on it and spill about 1/3 of the contents on my shirt. A slew of French swear words left my mouth (appropriate since I'm attempting to drink French whisky). I shake my head and fist at nobody in particular but it somehow makes me feel better, go figure? Ok so what little I have left, I'll have to make the best of it.
So the first thing I notice immediately is a metallic smell which strikes me as quite odd so I get up and go blow my nose. But, when I continue nosing, it's still there.  It reminds me of the canned peaches my mom used to give me for my school lunches. I didn't like those very much. Seems like it's a really "green" whisky. It's quite fragrant with cereal or grassy notes which I find confusing because from what I know of the sample it's ex-sherry cask? Quite a perplexing whisky at this point. So of course after nosing comes tasting. More French swearing. HOT! HOT! HOT! Bitter on the swallow and so peppery & dry.  What the hell??? Oh wait, this is cask strength... Ooops. So I add a dollop of water and let it sit for a few minutes.  

Oh... hmmmm, now we have got something very interesting in the glass. Now I'm finding Seville oranges and figs/dried raisins.  On the palate:  Still a bit hot, but more like fresh ginger root.  A "sweet" spicy and there's a bit of oak there.  Not so bad at all now.  The finish was also a bit peppery but didn't stick around or linger.  Short and sweet, sort of like some of my first dates (hehe)...
The reveal: Armorik Millésime 2002, Sherry Cask. 56.2% ABV and non-chill filtered.  10 Year Old.  Now the interesting part for me is that I've read this is a 3rd refill sherry cask.  Makes me wonder what the quality of that barrel was, because I really found that at cask strength this was not a pleasant whisky AT ALL and I could barely detect any sherry influence at cask strength.  It took water, lots of it for me to really enjoy the nose/flavors. Which leads me to a little story about David Stewart. When I met him in New York we had the chance to sit down and enjoy a whisky or two together. We discussed many aspects of his job (60 years in the business) and something he shared with me is the following.  Unless there is something seriously wrong with a cask, most cask strength whiskies will nose/taste pretty good. However, if you had water and bring them down to a certain percentage that's the true test of the flavor profiles. Good whiskies don't fall apart when you add water.  I'm paraphrasing of course, but that's the basic idea behind it and I would have to agree.  I love cask strengths whiskies, I think many people do. When you add water you can truly see if the whisky will stand up through the dilution.

I started Wednesday on the wrong foot and had I not decided to add water to this whisky I probably would have chalked it up to a whisky I didn't enjoy. One thing I've learned so far on this mini journey through the French whiskies is that each one has been perfect for the day I've been having and each has evoked a memory or feeling that has made me remember, revisit or re-enjoy something else in my life.  Thanks again Franck, your presence reaches me across the Atlantic.  :)  Looking forward to a new day and another whisky sample tomorrow.



  1. Migraines are no fun. Sorry you spilled your whisky and broke a shoelace.

    1. Thanks Mike! It turned out to be another adventure with a somewhat happy ending :)