So here we are. Christmas Eve morning and All is calm and all is.... well, bright pink.The sky has bruised over and I have just left the Ridley Manor Leicestershire for the wiles of North Yorkshire to visit Mrs Caskstrength's relatives.
2012 has been a sensational year for drams and Joel and I have had a fair bit of difficulty in deciding our festive choices, but here you go...
The moment the car is unpacked, shoes are off and replaced by warming slippers, shivering trunk snuggly wrapped in a padded silk smoking jacket, the leather reclining chair tilted back to its fullest extent and the strains of The Rat Pack Christmas emanating from the stereo, I know I can completely relax. I'm sure Joel will echo these simple sentiments too, minus the slippers and poncey jacket.
Ridley's choice of Festive Dram:
'In years gone by, I have often struggled to choose between the titanic flavours of 'Peat' and 'Sherry' as part of the the ultimate Christmas day tipple. I compromised last year and went for a sherried version of a peaty classic (Lagavulin Distillers Edition) which went down so well, there was only a tiny drop left to wash down the Boxing Day turkey sandwiches.
This year, i've adopted a slightly different tact and gone for something balanced, fruity, warming and ridiculously drinkable. It also makes a mean Manhattan, a sizzling Sour and can be sipped, slugged and slurped over ice, with soda or just about any way you choose. So a perfect offering to any whisky-reticent relatives! My Christmas time dram is Yamazaki 18 year old.... Kampai!'
Yamazaki - 18 year old - 43%
Nose: Instantly open on the nose, this bears all the hall marks of a classic Japanese whisky. Mossy, musty, rich sherry, dark orange marmalade, with loads of polished rosewood and big spice.
Finish: Lingering spice, bulging dried fruit, sherbet and more sweetness. Very lengthy and enjoyable.
Overall: Little more needs to be said about this magnificent whisky. So rather than take up additional room with superlatives, here's a picture of some contented Christmas dogs.
I'm the one on the left...
Harrison's choice of Festive Dram:
'For me, this year's festive dram is a distillery we haven't featured very frequently, The Glendronach. I took this home to balance out the wanton desire to have a peated whisky. The 'Lennon' to the Glendronach's 'McCartney', has to be the Lagavulin Distillers Edition, 1995 / 2011. Additional maturation in PX casks means I'm carrying on the same sherry theme, but warming my cockles with a some soft peat smoke. Yum!!'
The Glendronach - Single cask (full term Pedro Ximinez Sherry Puncheon) - 1995 - (08.11.1995) - bottled 2011 - 15 Years Old - Cask #4681 - 725 bottles - 56.2% £55.00
Nose: Everything you want in a sherried whisky, inc well balanced. Rich rose scented candles, heavily polished oak table, old leather shoes, second hand book stores and... Christmas pudding, freshly lit.
Palate: Rich, oily and full of flavour. This hits BIG: burnt sugars, candied orange slices and cloves. Stewed red fruits.
Finish: Sweet and dry with hints of black cherry.
Overall: Just a top, top whisky. Single cask, 56.2% abv, full term PX and £55. Amazing value for a stunning whisky.
Joel & I wish you all the most merry, peaceful and relaxing of Christmas holidays. And wherever you happen to be and whatever your choice of whisky, pour a large one and share a festive toast!
Cheerio and happy holidays.
Neil & Joel x