As I type this I have a large’ish stack of papers to grade in less than 48 hours and a review to complete that was originally due to a journal seven months ago. Therefore, I am naturally engaged instead in messing around with the nastiest whisky I’ve had in recent memory: the Balcones Brimstone. Tonight I blend it with an inoffensive and very different whisky: the Longmorn 16, a gentle Speysider from Scotland. Let’s see if anything good comes of it, and if a terrible whisky and a middling whisky can add up to a more palatable whole than the sum of their parts..
(If you don’t home-blend/vat, by the way, you absolutely should. It’s both a way of potentially rescuing bad or dull malts, and a way of making interesting whiskies out of malts you already love. My friends, who are generally averse to saying anything nice about me, will tell you that some of my Frankenmalt experiments have been very good.)
1/2 oz Balcones Brimstone, BRM 11-10
1 oz Longmorn 16
Nose: Hey–this is far less nasty. Gone is the young, raw cheap wood attack of the Brimstone and also the bad vinegar. There’s still a lot of sourness and woodiness but it’s now more interesting than offensive. Somewhat briny now, in fact, and some sweet meatiness develops as well. With time there’s even a mildly sherried quality.
Palate: Not bad at all. Spicy wood, smoke and salt. The Longmorn has disappeared into this thing but it seems to have fixed much of what was so, so very wrong with the Balcones. There’s some dark sweetness–raisins, a touch of maple syrup.
Finish: Long. First some sweet, meaty smoke and wood, and then, ah, there’s the Longmorn: some residual sweet fruit. Lots of salt too now.
Comments: Maybe this is fatherly pride, maybe it’s euphoria from the discovery that this bottle of Brimstone might be salvageable, but this is really pretty good! I had very low expectations but am quite pleasantly surprised by the result. I thought the cheap plywood assault of the Balcones would swallow the Longmorn whole even at the .5:1 ratio, but I must say that the Longmorn has sawed the crappy ends of the wood off. And while I don’t know how much sherry casked whisky is in the Longmorn 16 this now tastes quite sherried. Very good for the first attempt, but no self-respecting mad scientist stops experimenting just because the first attempt yields good results. Next up: I must add some Islay peat to the mix. It would be craven not to.
Rating: 85 points.
Perhaps a bit of Bowmore to start,would not use Laphroaig,it could become a volcano without warning……..and a touch of Highland Park as a catalyst to bind it all…………..
Good ideas. The only problem is that the only Bowmores and Highland Parks I currently have open are a little too prized to go into this experiment. I think I might use the last of a Caol Ila sample (milder, more minerally peat) and maybe some of a more fruity Speysider as well. Stay tuned for Pt. 2.
You seem to have so much fun with the Brimstone. Will you buy another one since your bottle is almost empty?
Yeah, my relationship with the Brimstone is in danger of crossing over into the realm of shtick, isn’t it? As for another bottle, it depends entirely on what I make of the two samples I may end up getting (from Josh of The Coopered Tot and Tim of Scotch and Ice Cream). If I like them, then sure–I would much prefer to like a whisky than to make fun of it. But if even samples from two approved bottles don’t do it for me, then I’m done. I like making home blends and trying to salvage whiskies I don’t like but that’s about as far as I’ll go: I’m not buying whisky I don’t like just to experiment with.
I’m still open to trying other whiskies from Balcones though.
I agree: Brimstone is nasty.
Further, I’ve found through numerous blending trials that it nastily dominates anything it touches.
I wish I had something really zippy and sharp to blend with it. Maybe Ardbeg Corryvreckan? Maybe Knappogue Castle?
Best use I’ve found for it so far: Put quick dash of Brimstone in a dram of any bourbon. For me, that is better than the individual components. But I’m not at all a fan of those components.