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.