Tomorrow, Monday November 30, I will start the official Shine Competition. The actual rules will be posted in a separate post, and the actual competition, as well.
But to whet your appetite, let’s start with what you actually can win! Well, I’ve decided that the winners get a choice. It works like this: the top twenty will all get either an ‘Optimism’ T-shirt (I’m contacting Compass Box about availability, especially re. different sizes) or a ‘Shine’ T-shirt, which I’ll produce myself on CaféPress; and — of course — a copy of the Shine anthology.
However, those finishing in the top ten, get to select the main prizes, as follows: number 1 gets first choice, number 2 second choice, etcetera until number ten just gets what the others left over.
So, without further ado, here are the main prizes:
Frapin Cigar Blend: the perfect digestif after a heavy Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. A “ Grande Champagne, Premier Grand Cru du Cognac”, which is admittedly a mouthful, but wait until you have an actual mouth ful of this liquor of the gods! Cognacs are — with only some very rare exceptions — blends, and this blend has its separate constituents aged on new French oak casks (a French speciality) for at least 15 to 20 years. Resulting in a tannin-rich, yet surprisingly smooth cognac, with overtones of vanilla, dried fruits, honey, fine herbs and old port. I give this to my brother (who doesn’t like whisky) for our regular Sunday meals, and such a bottle never lasts long!
Highland Park 21 years old: A superb whisky that’s both complex and smooth. Like with the Springbank 18 year old (see below), it has a legendary predecessor: the Bicentenary. It’s been over ten years since I tasted the Bicentenary, so it’s hard to make a comparison. This Highland Park 21 year old is very smooth while having a surprising depth. On the one side you have the signature Highland Park toffee, fudge and dark chocolate, while on the other side you have a heathery smoke, nutmeg and ginger. It’s mellow, yet firm like a loving mother who knows what’s best for you. Kidding aside, a whisky that’s both silk and steel.
Springbank 18 years old: this is one of the most highly anticipated whiskies of 2009. The first Springbank to be following on the footsteps of the legendary 21 year old of a decade ago (I bought those 21 year old Springbanks for 96 guilders — about €40 — at the time. Now it’s become a collector’s item and goes for €400). And they’ve only bottled 7800 of this one, which are going fast. I’ve managed to get one, so grab this opportunity! It’s hard to say how it compares with its legendary predecessor (it’s been over ten years since I tasted that one), but this Springbank 18 years old is everything a whisky should be: smooth & sharp; rich & oily; depth & balance; oranges & pepper; tannins & caramel; cacao & honey: a perplexing paradox of yins & yans zig-zagging through the complete whisky range (I better stop while I’m still ahead…;-).