A few weeks back I made the trip up to Durham, my old university town (although technically it’s a city), to visit one of my old partners in crime – a fellow Keeper of the Cane no less – who is now working for the uni.
Inevitably a number a drinking holes were frequented on this trip down memory lane, not least a Samuel Smith’s pub called The Swan & Three Cygnets – once home to £1.45 ales thus undercutting the student union and all sixteen college bars as there were then (Cuths has two whilst the Stockton colleges used to share just one!) by a whole five pence to offer the cheapest pint in Durham…
I still makes me laugh whenever I come across one of the many Samuel Smith’s pubs in London – they’re a real guilty pleasure of mine as its just like stepping back into The Swan or indeed The Colpitts (another Samuel Smith’s pub in Durham tucked away by the viaduct, a popular area for those living out of college).
Having not seen my friend for the best part of the year though I wasn’t content to simply quaff endless beers (how times have changed!) or even White Russians (sadly abandoned in Fabios!), I also wished to pass on something of my enthusiasm for whisky.
This was done initially with a bottle of Nikka Whisky From the Barrel, which amusingly also went down very well with his Scottish house mate despite the initial protests! (“Japanese whisky??? Don’t come anywhere near me with that muck… Oh, alright, I better try some…”)
As the weekend drew to a close we were heading over to meet a bunch of chaps I didn’t know and I found myself in the supermarket, en route, picking up some last minute supplies. As well as the mandatory lagers I hoped to pick up a little something from Islay or something with a nice coastal character that could be shared with friends new and old whilst also not scaring off any ‘non-whisky drinkers’! Despite the extremely limited selection I was rather pleased to pick up an entry level Bowmore with a name that promised much…
Nose: Sea breeze nearly hides a little honey and a faint wisp of smoke.
Palate: Salty with a brown sugar cube and barley sweetness that becomes more apparent the more you drink. It is far from complex however.
Finish: Sweet and salty with a little peat smoke briefly taking hold before slightly abruptly disappearing again.
Overall: Perfectly agreeable young, sweet, maritime dram.
It was an ideal choice if a little sweeter than expected and whilst it didn’t knock anybody’s socks off it was enjoyed by all who tried it. That said, it doesn’t exactly live up to such a grand name! On this occasion the legend was amongst the company instead of in the glass.
Rik Coldwell, you Sir are in fact a legend.