A Campbeltownie, A Pappy and An Alligator Walked into a Bar…

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The Unusual Suspects

Anyone who loves steak and has spent any time at all in London would have heard Goodman’s . Great cuts of meat with just the right balance of juice and char. But that’s the topic for today. What is, is the surprising selection of hard to find whiskies.

Granted it does not have the mind-boggling whisky selection of Boisdale which currently boasts a 45-page long whisky menu, but I think Goodman should take pride in its line-up of the unusual suspects.

Springbank 10 Year Old

First bottle top left. The loneliest spot on a bar shelf. Ever.

A bit of history and geography… Campbeltown is the smallest and least represented of all the Scottish whisky regions. Next time you’re at an airport duty free or bar, look for Springbank, Longrow, Glen Scotia or Hazelburn. I would be very surprised if you find even one of these.

Once a superstar with 34 distilleries, all but three have closed down since then. But the enormous amount of capital pouring into re-opening whiskies, will #campbeltownrevival be trending soon?

Springbank is by far the most renowned of the remaining distilleries and comes with a distinguished pedigree stretching back to the early 1800s.

I very unfortunately missed the Springbanks at the London Whisky Show 2016, but decided to remedy that with a dram of their entry-level single malt.

One would expect a typical 10 year old whisky to taste like a gale force wind of alcohol, untamed and un-mellowed by additional years in the barrel. The Springbank 10 definitely ddi not disappoint in that respect. Harsh and punchy, unexpectedly spicy, with a slightly sweet finish.

£9 for a double

Pappy Van Winkle 15 Years Old Family Reserve

It took me a few moments to grasp the gravity of this.

There. Sitting three bottles from the top right. That distinctive yellow label with an almost medicinal design and olden typeface.

No, my eyes could not be right. It can’t be. Was that really…

PAPPY VAN WINKLE??????

Here’s a few anecdotes that might speak to the seriousness of the occasion.

  • This did not feature in the 2016 London Whisky Show.
  • This does not feature on the 46-page menu of Boisdale.
  • You will never *ever* see this on a retail shelf.
  • Empty bottles sell for £50. One imagines one has to be careful of counterfeits.
  • To buy one from a store, you will most likely have to join a mailing list and try your luck at a lottery. All just for the right to spend thousands of dollars to buy a bottle.

OK, so it wasn’t the 20 or 23 year old, but it was superstar pedigree nevertheless.

And there it was. On the bar shelf of a restaurant.

Surely it was a private bottle. No? Really? £40 for a double? Take my money already!

So, how did it taste?

Powerfully herbal, with a subtle treatment of peat and caramelised popcorn. Golden maple syrup coloured and amazingly smooth for a 53.5% ABV.

If you’re a fan of bourbon and also Kavalans, you are absolutely going to love this one.

For those of you hoping to get a taste of this legendary bourbon at the restaurant, sorry to say but you are out of luck. 11 days after the fateful evening, I went back hoping to have some of the half bottle that remained.

All gone.

Ardbeg Alligator Untamed 2011 Release

Disappointed at not finding the Pappy again, I decided to give this beast a go.

Ardbeg have done a great job of getting out there into the bars. It’s fairly common to spot a 10 year old or even the tremendous Uigeadail in a respectable bar in central London. Heck, you can even find these in the supermarkets these days. However, it’s very rare to find a limited edition on the shelf.

At £42 for a double, it certainly is being sold at a steep premium compared to the Pappy. How so? A bottle of Pappy 15 goes for about £700 at auction. A 2011 Alligator goes for £190.

It was like having a rough and tumble with a chain smoking alligator. A violent caramelised peaty kick in the teeth. Letting it rest for a little puts it in a more tempered, playful and surprisingly fruity mood.

Not my favourite Ardbeg, I would still rate the Corryvreckan higher than this.

 

4 thoughts on “A Campbeltownie, A Pappy and An Alligator Walked into a Bar…

  1. Great read. I recently discovered a whisky bar here in Hamburg that offers you 4cl of the Alligator for 30 Euro. I never paid that much for a single dram, so I was reluctant to order it when I first visited. But the more I think about it, the more I wanna give it a try. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a slippery slope once you start spending that kind of money on one drink, Tobi!

      From a pure numbers point of view, the whole bottle of the Alligator would cost 450 Euro to buy off the bar at their menu rate, which is a whopping 500% margin on the original price of £65 on release. But of more relevance is comparing it against the current price (which is about £200++), the margin drops down to 100% or so.

      Interestingly, if you compare that against buying 4cl of say a Talisker 10 at the bar for 5 Euro per 4cl, at a retail price of £30 and 75 Euro to a bottle… that’s a similar a margin! At least that’s how I would justify it…

      Would I remember a night where I had a single dram of the Alligator, or a night with six drams of Talisker 10? Well, I would probably remember both nights but for very different reasons!

      So, the moral of the story is this I guess: buy the bottles on release! 🙂

      Happy drinking, and let me know how you find it!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I’m almost there. While 30 Euro for the Alligator was a bit too much for me, I still ended up with a Talisker 25yo for 5 Euro less. So the seal’s broken and from now on it’ll only get worse! 😀

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