Google Whisky Fun by Serge and Angus, blog, reviews and tasting notes since 2002
Whiskyfun Malt Madness Malt Maniacs
 

Serge whiskyfun

 

Whiskies 17,586
Other spirits 2,594
Angus 1,582

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (102)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
31)
Banff (5
2)
Ben Nevis (2
69)
Ben Wyvis
(3)
Benriach (1
94)
Benrinnes (
112)
Benromach (
8
3)
Bladnoch (
87)
Blair Athol (
114)
Bowmore (5
77)
Braes of Glenlivet (
54)
Brora (1
43)
Bruichladdich (320)
Bunnahabhain (
416)

Caol Ila (736)
Caperdonich (
106)
Cardhu (40)
Clynelish (4
66)
Coleburn (2
5)
Convalmore (
30)
Cragganmore (8
8)
Craigduff (4)
Craigellachie (
111)
Dailuaine (91)
Dallas Dhu (41)
Dalmore (1
35)
Dalwhinnie (38)
Deanston (
6
4)
Dufftown (5
8)

Edradour (95)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
91)
Laphroaig (
5
21)
Ledaig (1
37)
Linkwood (
202)
Littlemill (1
27)
Loch Lomond (
91)
Lochside (72)
Longmorn (2
3
8)
Longrow (
81)
Macallan (328)
Macduff (91)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
53)
Millburn (2
4)
Miltonduff (
103)
Mortlach (2
16)
Mosstowie (2
5)
Scapa (53)
Speyburn (
48)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (
418)
St-Magdalene (5
6)
Strathisla (
112)
Strathmill (
53)

 
 
Pete and Jack



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Music Awards
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1 - 2
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1 - 2
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1 - 2
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1 - 2
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1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
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2011
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December
1 - 2
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1 - 2
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1 - 2
September 1 - 2
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2010
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1 - 2
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2008
Music Awards
December
1 - 2 - 3
November
1 - 2
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1 - 2
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2007
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
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Feis Ile
Special
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2006
Music Awards
December 1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2 - 3
September
1 - 2
August
1 - 2
July
1 - 2
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Feis Ile
Special
May
1 - 2
April
1 - 2
March
1 - 2
February
1 - 2
January 1
- 2

2005
Music Awards
December 1 - 2
November 1 - 2
October
1- 2
September
1 - 2
August
1 - 2
July
1 - 2
June
1 - 2
Feis Ile
Special
May
1 - 2
April
1 - 2
March
1 - 2
February
1 - 2
January
1 - 2

2004
December 1 - 2
November 1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September
1
August
1
July
1
June
1
May
1
April 1
March 1
February
1
January
1

No archives for 2002-2003

 
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1969 - 1983

   


 

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All the linked files (mp3, video, html) are located on free commercial or non-commercial third party websites. Some pictures are taken from these websites, and are believed to be free of rights, as long as no commercial use is intended.

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I do not encourage heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages, nor dangerous motorbike riding. But life is short anyway...

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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
22

 


Scotch Legal Announcement


 
 

May 20, 2022


Whiskyfun

Doing new grains, uncluding Inverphroaigs, Hampgordons and Cambwoods

Let's do that, randomly. How would you sort out grain whiskies anyway, by age? By Distillery? By strength? By main ingredient?

North British 2006/2021 (50.5%, Whiskay, 223 bottles)

North British 2006/2021 (50.5%, Whiskay, 223 bottles) Two stars
Were they still using exclusively maize at North British Distillery, in 2006? Not too sure. What's sure is that this is a very funny anti-Brexit label, when you move your bottle the two parts of a broken heart (UK and EU) do stick together again. Whether there's another hidden message behind the choice of North 'British', I don't know. Colour: white wine. Nose: typical young grain, not unpleasant but pretty silent, with a lot of nail polish and kirschwasser. With water: more of all that, plus a lot of mercurochrome (to heal the wounds of Brexit?) and a little vanilla. Mouth (neat): varnish, glue, vodka, kirsch. With water: some cellulose coming out, bark, vanilla, sawdust… Finish: medium, ethanoly, vodka-y. Comments: love Whiskay, love their other bottlings, love the funny ideas behind this label, but I'm just not fond of young grain whisky, while in my book, any grain that's younger than say 30 is 'young grain'. Having said that ans as I just wrote, they may have chosen this one because it's full of mercurochrome – to heal the wounds of Brexit! Vary smart, on second thought…

SGP:331 - 75 points.

Let's insist…

North British 10 yo 2011/2022 (57.1%, Watt Whisky)

North British 10 yo 2011/2022 (57.1%, Watt Whisky) Two stars and a half
What's good is that the prices for these are very fair. Colour: gold. Nose: obviously similar, with just a little more cake and vanilla, and consequently, less varnish and mercurochrome. I'm also finding a little fresh maize, but I think North British had already switched to other grains when this one was distilled. Not 100% sure… With water: a little buttercream, which is not unpleasant. Mouth (neat): this one is sweeter, more on saccharose. Vanilla sugar, bubblegum… With water: you would almost believe this is Havana Club or Bacardi. I said almost… Finish: medium, sweet, with more vanilla sugar, a little melon syrup, and, this time, a few drops of mercurochrome indeed. Comments: I do not think I've ever found any young single grain that's really been to my liking. So, it's me…

SGP:431 - 77 points.

Do we try this a last time?... With more oak?

North British 13 yo 2007/2021 (62.3%, WhiskyPeter, virgin oak barrel)

North British 13 yo 2007/2021 (62.3%, WhiskyPeter, virgin oak barrel) Two stars
Let's proceed with caution, now it seems that the virgin oak was heavily charred, so maybe are going to find some kind of bourbon… Colour: straw. Nose: in the style of the Watt W. Vanilla, maize, varnish. With water: fruit peel, grass, alcohol. Mouth (neat): very sweet, bubblegummy, extremely vodka-y. Vodka flavoured with bubblegum and a few bits of bison grass. With water: some oaky sourness. Finish: a little more vanilla in the vodka. Comments: these juices are really not my thing, and I can tell you that I've been trying hard for decades. Perhaps go see a whisky doctor?
SGP:441 - 75 points.

Let's try another young one, but from another Distillery…

Invergordon 12 yo 2007/2019 (64.6%, WhiskyPeter, virgin barrel finish, cask #300857, 224 bottles)

Invergordon 12 yo 2007/2019 (64.6%, WhiskyPeter, virgin barrel finish, cask #300857, 224 bottles) Three stars
We've had good luck with Invergordon in the past, but those were usually both old whiskies and ex-oloroso. Let's see… Colour: gold. Nose: it's a rounder, cakier drop, with more brioche, raisin rolls, shortbread… Also banana. In short, a maltier grain, should that make any sense. With water: a pineyness and some spearmint from the wood. That works. Mouth (neat): simply more flavourful than the NBs, with more coconut, vanilla, barley sugar, lemon tarte… No feeling of vodka this time. With water: it is still grain, but I have the impression that it is a little fatter, I was about to write 'malty', while the wood was good and active. Mint and pineapple, for some kind of Cuban cocktail. Finish: medium, sweet clean, fruity, tropical. Perhaps a stronger pina colada? Well the pope knows more about cocktails than your truly. Comments: this one goes down nicely.
SGP:730 - 82 points.

I suppose more Invergordon is the way…

Invergordon 32 yo 1990/2022 (52.8%, Alambic Classique, cask #22022, 158 bottles)

Invergordon 32 yo 1990/2022 (52.8%, Alambic Classique, cask #22022, 158 bottles) Four stars
Wait, there is a trick here, this one was finished for 5 full years in an ex-Hampden cask! So in heavy Jamaican rum wood, although we wouldn't know whether it was a very funky Hampden, or just one of the low-ester kittens. Colour: gold. Nose: of course. This is more a blended rum, I'm not sure the grain whisky has anything to say here. Not that we're complaining, this is lovely, delicately petroly and olive-y, with a little engine oil and anchovies in brine. Anchovies in Invergordon! With water: carbon paper and a little camphor. Mouth (neat): indeed, a very good blended rum, with overripe bananas, olives; liquorice and a little acetone. With water: perhaps a tiny smidgen of Invergordonness. This soft vanilla? Finish: medium, salty and petroly. Salted liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm all for transparency but I'm wondering if it wouldn't have been even funnier when our German friends, on this label, would have kept quiet about the finishing. Surprise surprise!  

SGP:552 - 85 points.

Another one by Alambic Classique. A Neisson finish, I hope…

Invergordon 47 yo 1975/2022 (50.3%, Alambic Classique, cask #22023, 128 bottles)

Invergordon 47 yo 1975/2022 (50.3%, Alambic Classique, cask #22023, 128 bottles) Five stars
No, this one was 'matured in an ex-Laphroaig Islay Whisky barrel'. Forty-seven years in a Laphroaig barrel! This is extremely intriguing, to say the least. Colour: gold. Nose: how would I put this. Imagine a low-level bottle of Bonfanti or Cinzano 10, should that ring a bell. Hessian, gentian (in the front!), slightly stale mango liqueur, that famous beach bonfire (almost extinct here), celeriac and fennel… With just one drop of water: all things medicinal, bandages, embrocations, camphor… Mouth (neat): superb! Even if this would rather be celeriac eau-de-vie by Jean-Paul Metté himself, aged in good oak. I mean, flavour-wise. With water: a fantastic, delicate earthy, rooty development. I cannot not think of Suze. Do you know Suze? Now there are better options, check for instance Distillerie du Grandmont's Amer Gentiane. Finish: even more gentian. Comments: some people would claim that pasta with foie gras is not proper pasta. I still prefer pasta with foie gras, or Invergordon with Laphroaig. Great in-cask blending here but once again, I'm wondering whether this wouldn't have been even funnier if they wouldn't tell us on the label. Very smart. Now, we're the empty cask?

SGP:563 - 90 points.

Invergordon 49 yo 1973/2022 (40.3%, The Whisky Agency, barrel, 191 bottles)

Invergordon 49 yo 1973/2022 (40.3%, The Whisky Agency, barrel, 191 bottles) Five stars
This one might be a notch fragile, but we did make a short break after that excellent Inverphroaig. Colour: gold. Nose: I think we already wrote quite a few times that Invergordon was the maltiest grain whisky out there, and this is just another good example. Frankly, this could have been Glenlivet, for instance. Superb honeys and beeswaxes, tarte tatin, fresh raisin rolls, dried figs on location (in Turkey), dried jujubes and rambutans, honey biscuits… It is utterly incredible that no oak would have taken the helm after so many years and with a spirit at such a low strength. Old Sauternes. But at 40+, beware the palate… Mouth: there is a little green and drying oak (tobacco, chlorophyll, English tea) but frankly, it is still well-integrated and would not dominate these awesome notes of ripe apples, subtler honeys, figs and jujubes, and above everything this old Sauternes that went drier over the decades. No graininess, no coconut, no simplistic vanilla. Finish: not even short, still subtle, rather on tarte tatin and mead. Comments: two 90s in a row. See I'm no anti-grain activist?

SGP:551 - 90 points.

I'd happily try a last old Invergordon, before we quickly check a few other grain distilleries…

Invergordon 49 yo 1972/2021 (44.4%, Maltbarn, bourbon)

Invergordon 49 yo 1972/2021 (44.4%, Maltbarn, bourbon) Five stars
No signs of a finishing in ex-Brora, Springbank or Lagavulin here… A finishing in an ex-mezcal clay jar, would that be legal? (if you don't tell ;-)? Colour: full gold. Nose: this time it's very old bourbon, with some cellulosic varnish, rye, maize and vanilla, chestnuts, touches of maple syrup, old books, furniture polish (old library), old Jag… Mouth: how is it possible that we would strike another 90? Even if this one's a little simpler at first, that is to say more on wee sweets, it would then unfold on subtle old teas and dried fruits. Rosehip, wild rose, also arrack, oriental pastries (orange blossom), Turkish delights… Finish: perhaps a tad shortish this time, but nicely honeyed and meady. Do you say 'meady'? Comments: complex and subtle. I like it that they wouldn't have waited until it's 50, like any 'brand' would have done.

SGP:551 - 90 points.

And so we said other Distilleries…

Cameronbridge 46 yo 1974/2021 (40.1%, The Whisky Agency for Heads & Tails Canada, hogshead)

Cameronbridge 46 yo 1974/2021 (40.1%, The Whisky Agency for Heads & Tails Canada, hogshead) Five stars
40.1% vol.? I would suppose they've been monitoring this wee cask day and night… Colour: gold. Nose: it hasn't got the depth and structure of the Invergordons, on the other hand there's an extremely delicate combination of subtle cake doughs, sesame and peanut oils, vanilla, and possibly a little coconut water. Notes of preserved peaches and ripe starkrimsons. Mouth: ah, the bees! Mead, nectar, honeys, pollens, all that mezza-voce, plus a little pineapple, green liquorice and a pinhead of turmeric. Incredible body at 40.1%, but it's true that 40.1 'natural' and 40.1 'reduced' are two different things. Finish: not even short, on honeyed pineapples, with a little spearmint and liquorice in the aftertaste. A hoppy and happy feeling. Comments: you'll believe we're being lazy, but believe me, this is just another proper 90. On the other hand, 'they know what they're doing'.

SGP:641 - 90 points.

Do we say two Cambusses?

Cambus 30 yo 1991/2021 (52.3%, The Whisky Cask)

Cambus 30 yo 1991/2021 (52.3%, The Whisky Cask) Three stars and a half
Seminal grain Distillery, DCL, closed 1993, now cooperage. Capeesh? Colour: gold. Nose: I rather like them when they're a little acetic like this, a little sour, on fermenting fruits (plums, cherries), even lime juice, even sour cream. With water: even more of all that, Pils beer, hops, sour cherries, pine smoke, capers in brine. Mouth (neat): ex-malt cask? In general, grain whiskies were filled into new casks to season those before they would be filled with malt. That's the older orthodoxy. It's rather fatter than expected, really leafy and sour, with a curious smokiness, even a feeling of peat. With water: cigars, a peppery smokiness, notes of sour guavas, riesling, gherkins… Finish: medium, on the same flavours. The cask had contained a smoky malt before, it seems. Comments: we're far from any ethanoly, coconutty, light grain whisky. Really worth trying.

SGP:362 - 84 points.

Cambus 33 yo 1988/2022 (47.6%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, octave finish, cask #3325, 280 bottles)

Cambus 33 yo 1988/2022 (47.6%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, octave finish, cask #3325, 280 bottles) Four stars
This baby was finished in octave casks having previously contained Linkwood and Glen Elgin. So the new orthodoxy, first malt, then grain, as malt is more and more about wood. Colour: light gold. Nose: wee whiffs of baby vomit at first, then rotting pineapples, then green walnuts, pipe tobacco, tomato leaves, banana skins. Singular, shall we say. Mouth: you do feel the malts, as this is thicker, frankly barley-y, with a little coffee and various liqueurs. A drop of Malibu (we'll survive) and two drops of ginger liqueur, plus some sweet cider. We'll also have to mention limoncello. Finish: medium, with an oaky sourness that's absolutely not unpleasant. A varnishy side too. A drop of coconut and apple vinegar in the aftertaste, then high-class cider. It's not often that the best side of a whisky would be to be found in its aftertaste. Good fun here. Comments: from what? to yeah! within a few minutes. A wilder grain.

SGP: 371- 85 points.

Another session that went to eleven. Good grainy night (in Georgia)!

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Grains we've tasted so far

 

May 19, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Glen Esk

Glen Esk a.k.a. Glenesk a.k.a. Hillside, in Montrose, closed in 1985, one of the mothers of VAT69 and one of the most obscure distilleries that 'they' have closed in the early-to-mid 1980s, after it's changed its name many times. Who remembers Glen Esk? Us! To think that there's even been some official Glenesk, such as a good 12 years old. On and even that it's been owned by Ben Nevis and Lochside owner Joseph Hobbs at some point. It has now become a malting plant.

Glen Esk

Glen Esk 26 yo 1974/2000 (52.7%, Signatory Vintage, cask #89, 238 bottles)

Glen Esk 26 yo 1974/2000 (52.7%, Signatory Vintage, cask #89, 238 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine/straw. Nose: this greasy kind of mineral oiliness that's certainly not to be found in most of today's malts. Graphite oil, sunflower oil, some kind of lemon chalk, grist, those raw wools that very few modern malts still own, lemon and rhubarb tartes, and then, trumpet please, quince jelly! With water: amazing citrons and fresh marzipan. Mouth: absolutely masterly, with a wonderful straight lemonness, more oily and woolly things, then a growing spicy minerality, with a drop of mint cream. Fantastic. With water: on lemony waxes. Finish: long, yet tart, yet oily and almost fat. A salty tang towards the end. Superb. A very tiny taste of glass (OBE) in the aftertaste but that is nothing. Comments: almost everybody's forgotten about Glen Esk. Let's try to keep the flame alive for a few more years, if you please.

SGP:561 - 90 points.

Hillside 28 yo 1971/2000 (51.4%, Signatory Vintage, Silent Stills, Japan import, cask #1508, 242 bottles)

Hillside 28 yo 1971/2000 (51.4%, Signatory Vintage, Silent Stills, Japan import, cask #1508, 242 bottles) Five stars
Remember this lovely series that used to come with a bung (or was it a piece of the cask?) and a miniature? Colour: gold. Nose: this one's rather more assertive but just as chalky, perhaps even more metallic, with a little suet, ham, Barbour grease and other unusual and pretty tertiary notes. A growing waxiness, ski wax… With water: a tad rounder than the 1974, with some meringue over the lemon tarte this time. Mouth (neat): very similar, just 'cleaner' and even tighter this time. Almost a Scottish mojito, with tighter lemons. Wonderful, and wonderful texture by the way. With water: even more lemony waxes than in the 1974. Awesome, imposing elegance, all on well-aged spirit rather than on anything woods or wines. In other words, this is almost only flavoured with time. Finish: long and as waxy, lemony and fat as before. Almost undistinguishable from the 1974 at this point. Comments: glorious once more. I hope more Glen Esk will cross our path, and would add that I'm dead sure that these bottles do get better over time. Stunning examples of perfect bottle aging (from 85/86 to 88 and then 90 over twenty years).
SGP:561 - 90 points.

(Thank you Hideo!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Glen Esk we've tasted so far

 

May 18, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, Today Cardhu

Well, actually a trio since we just found another nice old one in Limburg. Anyway, the third Cardhu today will the only remaining Special Release 2021 that we haven't tried yet.

Magazine ad, mid-1960s. The golden age of advertising.

Cardhu 12 yo (40%, OB, UK, 75cl, +/-1978)

Cardhu 12 yo (40%, OB, UK, 75cl, +/-1978) Four stars
One of those excellent Cardhus straight from John Walker & Son in Kilmarnoch. Yep. Colour: full gold. Nose: cakes all over the place, fudge, toffee, milk chocolate, Nutella (apologies), nougat, with touches of pancake sauce and 'old tinbox'. Some stronger sweet and malty beer, I would say. A little ham. It's fatter than the current Cardhu 12 for sure, but not 'that' different on the nose. Mouth: exactly what would almost always happen when you try some much older versions of the heavy sellers ('livet 12, 'fiddich, 'morangie, Macallan…), these whiskies were simply fatter and deeper on the palate. Sure parts of those differences should stem from good OBE, but still, even at 40% vol. the texture was oilier, the scope of flavours was wider, and they would have teased the smokier, earthier and fatter edges of said scope. Finish: a little short(ish) but neither cardboardy nor dusty. Some sweet meatiness in the aftertaste, and even a little honey. Perhaps a little spirit caramel too but who cares, after so many years. Comments: no two batches were exactly the same, but this was clearly one of the better ones. Yes, despite the 40% vol.
SGP:452 - 87 points.

Cardhu 12 yo (43%, OB, Simon Frères France, 75cl, +/-1978)

Cardhu 12 yo (43%, OB, Simon Frères France, 75cl, +/-1978) Five stars
This is the Cardhu we used to sip when I was a student in France. Basically, we were only having this and Glenfiddich anyway, as far as I can remember and as far as malts were concerned. Indeed France was not quite Italy. What, you say it still isn't? Colour: straw. Paler batch, good news. Nose: much tighter, more on hay and grasses, citrus, damp earth, waxes, lemon, plasticine… You could almost believe this would have been Clynelish. Seriously! Mouth: holy featherless Prime Minister! This is incredibly dense, waxy, oily, earthy and lemony and you could almost believe it is some kind of shochu. Anyway, some fermentary notes of sake, lemon lime and yuzu, chalk and barley, touches of umami (like), paraffin… And, err, Clynelish. Finish: not eternal but still pretty long, with a wonderful waxy sourness, lemons, chalk, etc. Comments: not the first time I'm stumbling upon a 90er amongst these old Cardhus. Now once again, not all batches are of the same quality, even when bottled at 43 rather than 40% vol.

SGP:452 - 90 points.

Cardhu 14 yo 2006/2021 'The Scarlet Blossoms of Black Rock' (55.5%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends)

Cardhu 14 yo 2006/2021 'The Scarlet Blossoms of Black Rock' (55.5%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends) Four stars
This baby was finished in wine casks. I do notice that this has become an obsession at many a distiller and that un-finished, natural malt whiskies are slowly becoming exceptions. Same in the tea or potato crisps businesses, would we add… Even at Pringles'! Colour: white wine. Nose: as expected, this is much lighter and fruitier than the old expressions, much more on pears and gooseberries, leaves (sauvignon blanc) and anything from our friends Haribo's. Fine and literally lighter, despite the extra-12 or 15%. With water: marshmallows and liquorice allsorts, plus greengage gin. Excuse me? Indeed, greengage gin does exist (soon on WF!) Mouth (neat): good, modern, fresh and fruity, much easier than the old guys, but probably more unquestionable. Jellybeans, marshmallows, pear liqueur, acacia honey and rambutans. With water: very good easy modern unsherried Speyside-style, fruity, syrupy, easy and very drinkable. The wine doesn't feel 'as wine'. Finish: medium, syrupy, a tad more on citrus and stems. A drop of rose liqueur, perhaps? Comments: I would suppose you can't quite call a Special Release 'rather a mass-pleaser', but, well, there, I just did.

SGP:641 - 85 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Cardhu we've tasted so far

 

May 16, 2022


Whiskyfun

We could do some Tormore

Good idea!

Tormore 10 yo 2010/2021 (57.1%, Watt Whisky, hogshead, 287 bottles)

Tormore 10 yo 2010/2021 (57.1%, Watt Whisky, hogshead, 287 bottles) Four stars
'Rested in an ex-Islay cask', yet another new concept, and probably the personal dream of many an old whisky enthusiast. Colour: straw. Nose: the peat is rather moderato, but it feels. Salsify, Jerusalem artichoke, touch of gentian, wild carrots, celeriac, garden bonfire… You just cannot not think of a lighter Ardmore here. With water: a little oilier and more on lamp petrol, gun oil perhaps… Mouth (neat): much more power, much more expression than on the nose. This feeling of smoked oranges, for example, plus a little varnish and mercurochrome. Definitely antiseptic. With water: we're now clearly on Islay. Salt, lemon, smoke, clams. More proof that peat's one ultra-dominant ingredient. Finish: long, rooty, peaty. It is 'a peater'. Comments: more Torfmore than Tormore if you ask me, but only germanistas will understand this. A bit of a mutant, or simply actually a blended malt rather than a single. Well made for sure, having said all that.

SGP:554 - 85 points.

Perhaps another 'peated' Tormore

Tormore 2011/2018 (43%, Jean Boyer, Gifted Stills, bourbon barrel)

Tormore 2011/2018 (43%, Jean Boyer, Gifted Stills, bourbon barrel) Three stars and a half
Indeed this one says 'peated'. Jean Boyer are one of the pioneers of single malt in France. Remember their former company 'Auxil', while also thinking about you, Jean-Marie. Colour: white wine. Nose: these one's even more Ardmore-ish. Think peaches and light coal smoke, ripe apples, plus ointments and perhaps drops of fino sherry. Yes I know this was a barrel. Mouth: just very good, easy and not that easy, smoky, slightly medicinal, with notes of smoked salmon and a little rosemary, plus just some brine. The light strength works well but I know Jean Boyer have always been good at careful reduction, French-style. Never in one go! Finish: medium, salty. Kippers and capers. Comments: these in-cask blends remain a little disconcerting, but in the end, the end-result (bravo, S.) can be extremely okay.

SGP:453 - 83 points.

Can we have some proper Tormore please?

Tormore 30 yo 1988/2019 (42.1%, The Whisky Agency for The MaltCask, Hong Kong, hogshead)

Tormore 30 yo 1988/2019 (42.1%, The Whisky Agency for The MaltCask, Hong Kong, hogshead) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: there, tobacco leaves, chamomile, williams pears, subtle teas (Wulong), asparagus, eggplants, a little butter, pistachios, touches of suet, peanut butter, sesame oil… This one has got very tertiary, possibly a little un-focused, but wonderfully complex, not unlike an old chardonnay. Mouth: meads and honeys, soft sakes, touches of fish oils, old sultanas from an old tin box, fish oil, old mead, calvados… This is very tertiary indeed, and rather a movie than 'a picture'. An ongoing series, never exactly focused and coherent (think Netflix stuff) but just lovingly addictive in the end. Finish: medium, with a salty touch, plus buttered apple cake and, hold on, bits of anchovy in brine. Comments: loco, thrilling, adventurous. Love it a lot, but what happened to this hogshead?

SGP:562 - 89 points.

Can we have, I mean, just cake and fruits?

Tormore 21 yo 1988/2009 (64.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, 169 bottles)

Tormore 21 yo 1988/2009 (64.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, 169 bottles) Three stars
An early TSMOS. I don't think we've ever tried this crazy one, please fasten your seatbelts. Colour: light gold. Nose: holy featherless crow! New wardrobe straight from IKEA's, praline, fresh halva, sunflower oil, white chocolate and varnish. With water – and with a huge viscimetry: barley, grist, paper, flour, oatcakes, pancake dough and porridge. Perfect breakfast. Mouth (neat): tough and rough at this strength. A little glue-ish. With water: there, tight fruits, lemons and apples, jellybeans (only the lemons), varnish, rhubarb… Still tough and rough, despite the tiny touches of coconut and vanilla. Finish: long but really tart. A muscadet of malt whisky – but indeed, there are a few great muscadets. Comments: some appealing sides, but it remained a tough boy all along. Perhaps whisky for whisky lovers who love a fight.

SGP:561 - 82 points.

I think we might need this one at this point, and then sign off…

Tormore 10 yo (70 proof, OB, UK, 75.7cl, +/-1970)

Tormore 10 yo (70 proof, OB, UK, 75.7cl, +/-1970) Four stars and a half
This is the UK version, not one of those old Italian ones for Dreher. Remember, Italy = 43GL or %, which is just always better than UK's 70proof or 40%. IN theory. You might have noticed the similarities with the old Laphroaig labels here, but indeed at that time, Long John's Tormore used to belong to brewers Whitbread. Colour: straw. Nose: 70proof or not, there's some body here, a stunning metallic/tropical side indeed (you cannot not think of old Laphroaig in that respect), and the most flabbergasting honeys and waxy meads you could think of. Very old Yquem? Superlative 'lighter' nose.  Mouth: oh, mangos, honeysuckle, dried jujubes and gojis, dried figs of all kinds, plus a nutty, slightly smoky smokiness (but of course) that would remind us of botrytised wines. Who's mentioned Yquem before? Finish: not that long; expectedly, but wonderfully on all kinds of dried fruits, including the most pedestrian raisins. Comments: great old drops that seem to remain a little unnoticed at auctions. Ha, auctions.
SGP:541 - 89 points.

(Gracias, KC and Tim)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Tormore we've tasted so far

 

May 15, 2022


Whiskyfun

  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!

 

Malternatives: three Burgundians

Very insane drops by Bourguignons. I would suppose three will be enough… And we'll do this quickly…

Très Vieux Marc de Bourgogne 7 yo (51%, SAB'S, Speyside bourbon cask, +/-2021)

Très Vieux Marc de Bourgogne 7 yo (51%, SAB'S, Speyside bourbon cask, +/-2021) Four stars
We've already tried some glorious liquids from SAB's, but what's this cookery? Proper marc aged in ex-Bourgogne wine pieces and finished in an ex-Speyside bourbon cask. This might be the equivalent to quad axel in figure squatting, so what could go wrong? Colour: light gold. Nose: once marc has started growing on you, you're virtually dead. Flabbergasting glues, almonds, asparagus, eggplants, kirsch, varnishes and nail polish remover. What a nose. With water: more glue, asparagus, and salsify while we're at it. Mouth (neat): ultra-grassy and varnishy. Exactly proper dry marc, with glues, varnishes, fruit stones and crazy herbs. With water: there, civilisation. Raisins, dried jujubes and sorbs, and a drop of chardonnay. Just any chardonnay. Finish: long, with even more glue, fruit stones, amaretti, cherries… Comments: I have to say I haven't noticed anything 'Speyside'. A tough and good spirit, extremely close to nature.

SGP:461 - 85 points.

Très Vieux Marc de Bourgogne 7 yo (51%, SAB'S, Peated Islay bourbon cask, +/-2021)

Très Vieux Marc de Bourgogne 7 yo (51%, SAB'S, Peated Islay bourbon cask, +/-2021) Four stars and a half
No no no no no no no, marc de Bourgogne finished in an Islay cask? Sacrilege and utter folly! But I'll keep an open mind (remember Frank Zappa, minds are like parachutes, they only function when, etc….) Colour: gold. Nose: no. Jumbled, medicinal, sour, with notes of rotting roots. On green tomatoes, geraniums, with gamey smells, old seafood… I'm really not sure. With water: the brave marc is taking over. Bye-bye Islay. Mouth (neat): this time it rather works. The stalky side of the marc combines well with the peat smoke, but it would generate a very exotic feeling that would rather connect us to another continent. Say Indonesian Gudang-garam cigarettes? With water: water makes utter wonders. The drop became lovely, wonderfully earthy, citrusy, nervous, vibrant… Some proper witchcraft here. Listen, this is totally unlikely, but it works! Feeling like we're at Dr Frankenstein's now…  Finish: long and good. Nots of bacon. Comments: right. Great spirits do connect indeed, you just need to be the go-between, and to use proper water to do that. We needed time, but we're very impressed. Hold on, is this really marc de Bourgogne finished in an ex-Islay cask? Really?
SGP:453 - 88 points.

Please, back to orthodoxy…

Marc de Bourgogne 1995/2015 (45%, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti)

Marc de Bourgogne 1995/2015 (45%, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) Two stars and a half
This probable glory was bottled on July 15, 2015, so right after French National Day. These are extremely expensive because they stem from la Romanée-Conti, but to tell you the truth, the reputation of their marcs remains a little average. I say there are no sacred cows in spirits! Colour: amber. Nose: there's rather less depth than in the SAB's, but there is a cognacqy side, notes of dried fruits, roasted raisins, a little caramel, fudge, tarte tatin… It is very all right, there's even a wee rubber that would add some depth… Oh well let's check the palate… Mouth: sure it's very good, but it's kind of mimicking cognac. I'm not saying that's done on purpose, not at all, but I do prefer either the grittier, more rustic marcs de Bourgogne, or simply the proper cognacs by good houses. Raisins, grass, touch of rubber… Well, all this is a little unnecessary. No, indeed, there are no sacred cows in spirits, I'm afraid. Finish: medium, a little kirschy. Comments: a very good drop but in truth, this is pretty disappointing, it's not 'rustic' enough and too rounded. Mind you, it is la Romanée-Conti! Having said that, I've heard later vintages were much better.

SGP:541 - 79 points.
 

May 13, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Glen Moray
13 yo

Ship
A short, easy, probably pleasant little session.

 

Glen Moray 13 yo (52.6%, Jack Wiebers for Switzerland, 2022)

Glen Moray 13 yo (52.6%, Jack Wiebers for Switzerland, 2022) Four stars
This one's about 'Der Schaufelraddampfer Stadt Luzern'. Your turn, I'm listening… Colour: straw. Nose: certainly a fatter, waxier Glen Moray, with more depth, more Clynelishness, more oils than in others. Other than that, we do find Golden Grahams, biscuits, a wee tarte tatin and just cut apples, which is rather more 'Glen Moray' indeed. With water: eminently barley-y and beerish. Mouth (neat): just perfect. IPA, chamomile, hops, marmalade, mead and barley syrup. Once again a wee waxiness. With water: enter marmalade and orange-based bitters. This is no joking matter, it's a great dram! Finish: rather long, still fat and a little waxy, with a wonderful barleyness. Comments: the formerly humble Glen Moray clearly caught the pack in recent years, this is just yet another proof.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Glen Moray 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.3%, Single Cask Collection, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 212 bottles)

Glen Moray 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.3%, Single Cask Collection, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 212 bottles) Four stars
We're in lovely Austria this time. Colour: straw. Nose: this was to be expected, all these distilleries have become extremely consistent and first fill bourbon is first fill bourbon (bravo, S.!) What I mean is that this is obviously very close, full of barley, scones, cornflakes, peanut oil, sweet beers and apple cakes. And once again, were finding a citrusy hoppiness. With water:  water does wonders, there's even some kind of grassy smokiness arising here. Some moderate garden bonfire. Otherwise, pilsner und, I mean and apple peel. Mouth (neat): same whisky as the Jack Wiebers. I mean, probably not the same barrel, but the juice is the same and it is perfectly fat, barley-y and pretty waxy. With water: totally excellent. Pure Seville orange-driven barleyness. Yes, should that even exist. Finish: long, waxy, with a braw sweet barleyness. Aye! Comments: perfect malt whisky. A different score wouldn't make any sense.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Glen Moray we've tasted so far

 

May 11, 2022


Whiskyfun

An umpteenth little trip around the world
Starting from France, as usual…

Aïkan 2017/2022 (63%, LMDW, Version Française, rhum cask)

Aïkan 2017/2022 (63%, LMDW, Version Française, rhum cask) Four stars
As I understand it, this is sourced new make (probably from Rozelieures, a great distillery in Lorraine) that's been shipped then aged in fresh oak, then finished in some ex-rhum cask, all that in Martinique and all that within four or five years. It is meant to be some kind of cross-breed, or meta-spirit. It's true that after all, if you may age rum in Europe, you could as well age whisky in the Caribbean. Colour: gold. Nose: totally meta. It's very strong but I would say the rum is having the upper hand this far. Cane honey. With water: I believe the rum is still dominant, but the whole's very pleasant, well balanced, with growing honeyed notes, then some fresh oak that's geared towards pumpkin, resins and fresh nuts. This works well. Mouth (neat): once again, the rum's the leading party. Salty olives, nougat, cinnamon… But it's very strong indeed. With water: excellent surprise. A floral side, waxes, touches of pineapples, bananas flambéed, liquorice… and butterscotch! Finish: rather long, a little salty. A little orange blossom water. Comments: very smart in-cask blending. Remember Martinique is part of France, so this remains fully French whisky. Great creative idea and excellent results at just 4 or 5. Scotland needs to buy (or invade, since that's the rage of the season) a tiny island in the Caribbean, so that they could do just the same…

SGP:562 - 85 points.

Ho-ho, wait, watch this…

Tullamore D.E.W. 'XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish' (43%, OB, Ireland, blend, +/-2021)

Tullamore D.E.W. 'XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish' (43%, OB, Ireland, blend, +/-2021) Two stars
Some NAS blend that's seen some rum. Colour: pale gold. Nose: I would say it is not very fair to have this one after the Aïkan. It is extremely light, with rather touches of pure pot still, faint echoes of bananas and guavas, some hay, dandelions, perhaps rose petals… Very light, but not unpleasant. The palate will tell… Mouth: back to regular Irish blends, light, with woody touches, overripe fruits (rather apples) and, perhaps, a hint of overripe banana. A little meadow honey, sweet maize bread… Finish: short, rather sweeter, mellow. Bits of banana, apples, plus a little honey. Comments: a fine little blend that won't do any harm. Strictly nothing to do with the much more ambitious Aïkan.

SGP:630 - 76 points.

Back to the continent…

Wave Distillery 3 yo 'Race 1' (46%, Bottles & Legends, Belgium, 400 bottles, +/-2021)

Wave Distillery 3 yo 'Race 1' (46%, Bottles & Legends, Belgium, 400 bottles, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
We've already had one at 50% that was also sporting an old Porsche. It's been excellent, pretty much of Carrera quality (WF 87). Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: perfect gristy malt, full of breads and cakes, plus ripe apples and pears. I know that was short but balance is perfect and I could really drive this. I mean, sip this. Mouth: the youth feels a lot on the palate (pears…) and this is actually almost new-make. But it's new-make of high quality, fully on the ingredients, with no off-notes whatsoever. Finish: medium, on williams pears. A little beer, a little melon, a little peach. Comments: great young drop, in all simplicity.

SGP:631 - 83 points.

Further north…

Millstone 1996/2017 'American Oak' (52.3%, OB, Zuidam, Netherlands, American oak hogshead, Special #12, 301 bottles)

Millstone 1996/2017 'American Oak' (52.3%, OB, Zuidam, Netherlands, American oak hogshead, Special #12, 301 bottles) Five stars
Love the very crazy Millstones, and love this mention on the label even more: 'Grain milled by Dutch windmills'. Was the barley smoked with dried tulips? Or… with stuff from A'dam? By the way, this is well a single malt. Colour: deep gold. Nose: ah this one is not crazy, it's classic fattish ex-bourbon malt whisky, full of bananas, mangos, vanilla and panettone, then candlewax and a little moss. With water: fermentary notes, high-end beers and breads, more wax (bordering 'good soap')… Mouth (neat): totally excellent, full of stewed tropical fruits. Rather bananas and guavas this time again, also blood oranges, with a few bits of pipe tobacco, some citrusy hops, IPA, and pink pepper. Drop of cough syrup, eucalyptus and myrtle liqueur… As good as these get. With water: even better. Superb range of citrus fruits, especially pink grapefruits and citrons.  Finish: long, fat and fruity. There's some body and some texture in there. Comments: people should talk more about Millstone. Frankly, this is magnificent and would beat most of the Scots fair and square. But peace… (and love)… Regardless, very impressed.

SGP:641 - 90 points.

Further north…

Myken 4 yo 'Bädin Stout Intervention 2022' (47%, OB, Norway)

Myken 4 yo 'Bädin Stout Intervention 2022' (47%, OB, Norway) Four stars
Whaaaattt? I stumbled upon Myken (an Arctic Single Malt from a tiny island) thanks to Jonny at Berry Bros'. I remember I had been rather a little impressed. It appears that this very one was made using some circumvolutory proceedings involving beer casks. And why not? Colour: white wine. Nose: for die-hard bread and cakes lovers. I'm clearly part of that crew. Barley, barley, barley, barley and barley, plus gentle yeast and some very well-mannered oak. Mouth: excellent! Gingerbread, cinnamon cake, liquorice, caraway-flavoured spirit, plus barley, barley, barley and barley. The wood was smartly handled, there's probably a lot, but you do not quite feel it as such. All right, there is a rather stunning breadiness. Finish: long, spicier, with more ginger and caraway. Sweet juniper and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: it could not quite fight the Millstone, but the Millstone is 15 or 16 years older. No more words, I'm simply a fan of this kind of breadiness. Oh and I'll have to check that Bädin thing…

SGP:462 - 87 points.

A last one, from Yorkshire… And perhaps more stuff with beer (we always need some kind of logic, you understand…)

Filey Bay 'Batch #1' (46%, OB, England, IPA finish, +/-2021?)

Filey Bay 'Batch #1' (46%, OB, England, IPA finish, +/-2021?) Three stars and a half
An IPA finish? Oh hell, why not, given that it was some IPA from their own group of companies, Wold Top Brewery, near Filey, north of Hull. Colour: straw. Nose: I think I do nose some bananas, pineapples and tangerines, which could well stem from that IPA. The rest is extremely easy, soft, rather fruity and uncomplicated. Hope they won't make me persona non grata if I add that I'm finding something Irish to this. Mouth: all these well-founded new distilleries are doing things seriously. This has blood oranges and pink grapefruits, Timut pepper, ripe apples, and a handful of marshmallows and jellybeans and babies and crocodiles and little sugar Jesusses (imagine we keep making those in our neck of the woods, amen). Finish: long, sweet, bonbony, but with good malty body. No worries, this is not grain whisky. Comments: very good. Not sure when this was bottled, having said that.
SGP:741 - 84 points.

(Merci encore, Nicolas!)

 

May 10, 2022


Whiskyfun

Back to the Isle of Jura

Melon
I promise we won't quote George Orwell (well, you just did, S.)

Some excellent melon à queue rouge from the eponymous Jura region of France, highly recommended!

Jura 'French Oak' (42%, OB, Special Woods Series', +/-2020)

Jura 'French Oak' (42%, OB, Special Woods Series', +/-2020) Two stars and a half
A humble NAS that is, as I understand it, an ex-bourbon Jura finished in French oak. Colour: gold. Nose: typical 'Madeira-like' Jura plus some caraway-y spices and green walnuts. I'm rather fond of this profile, but I also know that the devil is on the palate with such set-ups. Mouth: some dissonances indeed. Yoghurt, cinnamon, walnuts, sour fruits, mustard, a clear dusty side, a wee feinty aspect (not unusual)… Some cardamom seeds as well. Finish: medium, rather on grapefruits and white pepper. Comments: some dissonances on the palate, in my opinion, but some sides are clearly interesting and even good. Nice nose.

SGP:361 - 78 points.

Jura 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Jura 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
We rather liked this one last time in 2018, with its fino-y, mustardy Juraness. Colour: dark straw. Nose: not the same floor, so to speak. It does not look like Jura's make needs more spices. Very nice whiffs of fresh almonds and walnuts, certainly some fino and/or manzanilla, a wee sooty side, perhaps some cider apples (let's call them calvados apples if you don't mind), plus a little brine and thyme essence. Pretty fond of this nose. Mouth: Jura's dryness is obvious, but we're certainly in a higher league after that NAS. Salty white wines, tobacco, fino sherry, soft mustard, walnuts… Finish: medium long, on similar notes, with just a little more sweetness. Comments: I have to say it is rather troubling that the whisky of Jura would resemble some wines of Jura (un-ullaged savagnins) more and more. Troubling and charming.

SGP:462 - 84 points.

Jura 12 yo 'The Bay' (44%, OB, 1l, +/-2020)

Jura 12 yo 'The Bay' (44%, OB, 1l, +/-2020) Three stars
As I understand it this one spent its whole life in ex-bourbon barrels, and was then flash-finished in - could we have a John-Bonham solo please? – Pedro Ximenez! We're all amazed, I know. Remember, PX is the mayonnaise of whisky. Or perhaps its ketchup. Colour: full gold. Nose: struck matches, gas, burnt eggplants and used fireworks at first (you could call this 'smoke' if you like), then some kinds of rubbery raisins. Mouth: much nicer on the palate, with some sugarcane juice, PX indeed, molasses, jams, crystallised citrus (perhaps bergamots), honey… A thick mouthfeel here, as if there had been 'quite' some PX left in the casks. Finish: rather long, rather nice, with even a feeling of peat as could be seen on the neighbouring island. Or in peated Juras, of course. Comments: just forget about the nose and go straight to the palate. I prefer the 10, having said that.
SGP:652 - 81 points.

Perhaps some older indies…

Jura 30 yo 1990/2021 (47.2%, Artful Dodger, hogshead, cask #9005283)

Jura 30 yo 1990/2021 (47.2%, Artful Dodger, hogshead, cask #9005283) Four stars and a half
These batches do have an excellent reputation. Colour: straw. Nose: typically crisp coastal and fino-y nose, subtle, with fresh bitter almonds, manzanilla this time again, fresh butter, beach sand, leaven, mustard and then bitter beers. I've got strictly nothing against this profile; as a matter of fact, I love it. Mouth: it's got all of Jura's lovable flaws, I would say. It is a little feinty, a little soapy, a little sulphury, a little too much on paraffin as well, and yet I find this perfect. How would I put it, do you know the band The Stranglers? They have a bass player, Jean-Jacques Burnell, who's often a tad behind (the anti-Jaco, if you will), which creates a very distinctive, very powerful sound that many people just love. Oh my, I doubt this was the place… Please forgive me. Finish: long, with even more of those lovely 'flaws'. Salt, soap (or saponin), mustard, resins, walnuts, paraffin, sour ale… Comments: long live the small flaws in whisky! They create variety and fun, bravo!

SGP:562 - 88 points.

Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (46.5%, Sansibar, 10th Anniversary, sherry cask, 246 bottles)

Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (46.5%, Sansibar, 10th Anniversary, sherry cask, 246 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: classic. Smoked marshmallows, sour cherries, gueuze, almonds, bone-dry chardonnay, more chardonnay, even more chardonnay… Well I cannot get chardonnay of Jura out of my head now. They have a varietal that's called red-tail melon (melon à queue rouge) which is, indeed, a chardonnay. Wonderful wines, highly recommended. This wee whisky too, by the way. Whiffs of bell pepper and stalk, which works extremely well in this context. Mouth: absolutely splendid. Magnificent chalky citrus, with this faint smoky side, almost basaltic. I think I'll say no more, but you could have this with food. On 'poularde demi-deuil', perhaps? Chez Bocuse or Mère Brazier in Lyons. But once again, this ain't the place, sorry. Finish: long, fat, on some of the most splendid chardonnays. Citrusy aftertaste, which always works. Comments: wow wow wow.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

Ite session est.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Jura we've tasted so far

 

May 9, 2022


Whiskyfun

Strolling around Japan

Motherwell
Just a few blue chips and heavy hitters, including the new shining star (according to this little taster)… And we'll keep this rather 'high-profile' for once, if you don't mind…

Robert Motherwell (1915 - 1991) Black Cathedral, 1991 - Artcurial

 

Shizuoka 2017/2021 (58.5%, OB for Whisky Concerto Hong Kong, ex-bourbon, cask #2017-128)

Shizuoka 2017/2021 (58.5%, OB for Whisky Concerto Hong Kong, ex-bourbon, cask #2017-128) Four stars and a half
Colour: full gold. Nose: just the right amounts of acetone, nail polish remover, black olives, rotting fruits (right, fermenting fruits) and sponge cake. Very high-definition, yet with a wonderful small tertiary/dirty side, as expected (Japanese friends, please don't take umbrage when I use the word 'dirty'!) . With water: sweet mustard, manzanilla and Cuban cigars. Mouth (neat): absolutely perfect, you do not even need to factor this baby's age. Granted, there are perhaps a few too many oak spices, which is normal in this context, but these lovely tobacco-y, varnishy and slightly buttery (buttercream) notes are awesome. I've heard tobacco ice cream did exist; well I haven't tried that yet but I would imagine that would taste like this wee Shizuoka. With water: gets sweeter. A little more oak coming through, Finish: long, with some oaky sourness, more tobacco, more green pepper too, propolis, resins… The bitterish finish might be this baby's marginally weaker spot. Comments: rather terrific but water's not easy to handle here. I'll need to put my hands on a Japan-made electronic pipette.

SGP:462 - 88 points.

To the north, to Chichibu, west of Tokyo…

Chichibu 2013/2020 (59%, OB/Ichiro's Malt for Whisky Mew, Japan, bourbon barrel, cask #2463, 209 bottles)

Chichibu 2013/2020 (59%, OB/Ichiro's Malt for Whisky Mew, Japan, bourbon barrel, cask #2463, 209 bottles) Five stars
With a cat on the label, obviously. We have a mouser at WF Towers that looks just the same, she's a girl and her name is… Soba! I'm not joking. Colour: light gold. Nose: exactly as we were expecting it to be (no, really) with once again some high-definition maltiness, this time cleaner yet and with a wonderful mango-y cake-iness. Touches of patchouli and Indian bidis, bananas, a touch of shoe polish, a little menthol… With water: you do feel the make's slight fatness. Sunflower oil, some beer, a wonderful yeasty side, grist… Mouth (neat): immediate and obvious. Some yellow chartreuse, green bananas (not the other way 'round!), a lovely bitterness, fruit peel, fresh walnuts… at times you could believe it was ex-fino sherry, but it is well bourbon. With water: some fruity sweetness popping out. Banana foam, perhaps? Some papaya too, then greener fruits. Oh, yes, touches of green tomatoes? Those are so good… Finish: rather long, still on that sweetness. Even marshmallows in the aftertaste. Comments: just impeccable. They just never disappoint when the cask was not a very odd one.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Hold on, that Shizuoka was made in a Karuizawa still, was it not? So, towards Karuizawa, which isn't far from Chichibu. Just around 100km, to the northwest…

Karuizawa 1973/2008 (56%, OB, Martin's Selection for Norway, American oak sherry butt, cask #6249, 342 bottles)

Karuizawa 1973/2008 (56%, OB, Martin's Selection for Norway, American oak sherry butt, cask #6249, 342 bottles) Five stars
I've only tried a 1973 once, #1607, which had become the Supreme Winner at our Malt Maniacs Awards in 2013. WF 93, right. We'll try to keep this short and sweet… Colour: copper amber. Nose: the most fantastic combination involving mint (and assorted closely related aromas) and tropical jams (and assorted closely related aromas). Should we start a list? Good, quinces, mangos, teak oil, crushed Brazil nuts, figs and prunes filled with marzipan, very old cognac, charcoal smoke, muscovado sugar, fermenting figs, liquorice, cough medicine, cigars, Spanish ham, honeycomb… Seriously, better stop here, this list would be endless… What's more, this baby keeps changing over time… So, with water: it's not the first time that I'm finding some old-Springbankness in an old Karuizawa. Sooty honeys and myriads of affiliated aromas, in a fractal way as we sometimes say (sadly not often enough). Complex tobaccos, which reminds me of Benson & Hedges and Dunhill's shops in London, in the good old days. Mouth (neat): perhaps a notch more rustic on the palate, with a little hay and compost, some crude chocolate too, all the rest being an expected bed of roses, with pretty much the same flavours as on the nose. It would just not stand still, with many dried fruits, honeys, a tiny smokiness, probably a little more sherry (tobacco and walnuts), a wee medicinal side, eucalyptus, camphor, mint, liquorice… In truth it's got pretty much everything. And yet, it is a little 'rustic'. With water: I can't seem to get mid-1960s Springbank out of my head. Mead, cognacs, honeys and tobaccos. Some pine needles, fern and moss in the background. Finish: same combination, for a long time. Only the aftertaste is a little oakier, a little gritty, a little bitter, a little drying. Or I would have considered a 94. Comments: it feels good.
SGP:662 - 93 points.

To Nikka's Yoichi Distillery, west of Sapporo…

Yoichi 1991/2009 (58%, OB, Nikka Single Cask Malt, for La Maison du Whisky, warehouse No.15, virgin oak, cask #129374, 453 bottles)

Yoichi 1991/2009 (58%, OB, Nikka Single Cask Malt, for La Maison du Whisky, warehouse No.15, virgin oak, cask #129374, 453 bottles) Four stars and a half
I already tried this one more than ten years ago, but I'm dead sure that further bottle aging did much good to it. Dead sure. Colour: full gold with red amber hues. More or less, typical of virgin wood. Nose: I knew it (that's enough bragging for now, S.), this is full of sauna oils, sandalwood and cedarwood, eucalyptus, camphor, menthol, cough drops, then caraway and star anise, a little lemon balm, fresh-sawn pinewood, some soft varnishes… With water: the fruitiness on top. That would mostly citrons and oranges, while the piney, herbal notes would remain very restless in the back. Mouth (neat): what a beauty! It's sweet, jammy, full of candied fruits, dried orange zests, with a little bitter (good, Campari), touches of ginger, then these big mentholy notes, with some chlorophyl, fir bud liqueur, verbena, Jäger… With water: well, that unleashed more spicy oak, as if much more bottle aging was actually needed to reach a very high score. It's true that the oak was massive in the first place. Finish: long, with more mentholy oak. Comments: a feeling of mizunara; was it mizunara?
SGP:572 - 89 points.

And now to Suntory's Yamazaki Distillery, south of Kyoto…

Yamazaki 2009/2019 'The Essence of Suntory Whisky' (56%, OB, Japan, Spanish oak)

Yamazaki 2009/2019 'The Essence of Suntory Whisky' (56%, OB, Japan, Spanish oak) Four stars
It seems that this was virgin Spanish oak. The label is utterly splendid, for once a bottle that even non-whisky friends (and family) could marvel at without wondering what's wrong with you… I mean, with us. Colour: cedarwood. Nose: cedarwood. And blood oranges, quetsche pie with cinnamon, muscovado sugar, a little onion jam… It's not that oaky this time, but you never know… With water: cigar humidor, oranges and cloves, Stolle, marmalade, brown sugar… Mouth (neat): are we sure there was no sherry involved? A lot of sweet oak (deep charred?) and stewed apples, with once again a lot of muscovado sugar. A family-pack of speculoos. With water: old Pedro and a drop of crème de menthe. I'm really not sure that there would be any PX in there, but I've never encountered such as sweet ex-virgin European oak whisky. As far as I can remember… Finish: rather long, sweet, jammy, with some sweet liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: intriguing and yet excellent. If I wasn't holding this, I would add 5 points just for the marvellous Robert-Motherwell-like label. He's one of my favourite painters, in case you were wondering.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

(Domo arigato, Hideo and Peter S!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Japanese whiskies we've tasted so far

 

May 8, 2022


Whiskyfun

A crazy rum session because
it was about time

Guaeloupe

Map of Guadeloupe from an old Air France magazine ad

 

Rums have been piling up while we were busy with brandies. Time to have a few beasts, randomly and with an open heart. Only the apéritif won't be chosen at random (or it wouldn't be a proper apéritif)…

Dictador 'Claro - 100 Months Aged' (40%,  Rum, Colombia; +/-2021)

Dictador 'Claro - 100 Months Aged' (40%,  Rum, Colombia; +/-2021) Two stars
This well-aged baby (100 months = more than 8 years, as far as I can tell), is filtered after maturation, probably through some sort of charcoal, to catch that particularly pale colour while retaining the flavours, supposedly. Reminds me of all those 'light' whiskies in the 1970s… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: cellulose, a little paint thinner, sugarcane syrup, vanilla sugar… All that is extremely unobtrusive, you would really believe you're nosing cane syrup. . Mouth: akin to the fairly nice rhums they're having in Madagascar. Very light, smoother than smoothness, with touches of sugarcane indeed (check!) plus vanilla and some kind of wood varnish. It is really whispering and gets almost silent after around thirty seconds. Finish: almost non-existent. A little fruit alcohol, fantasy kirsch… Well, anything. Almost cane vodka. Comments: do not get me wrong, this is not horrendous at all, it's just, I believe, the lightest rum I've ever tried. All you need is a few ice cubes, Steely Dan and a swimming pool. I find it better than an earlier version from 2014.

SGP:210 - 70 points.

Random mode activated…

Mauritius Diamonds 7 yo 2015/2022 (64.8%, Alambic Classique Collection, Mauritius, cask #20025, 181 bottles)

Mauritius Diamonds 7 yo 2015/2022 (64.8%, Alambic Classique Collection, Mauritius, cask #20025, 181 bottles) Four stars
In theory, this could/should be the excellent Labourdonnais, but that's just a wild guess. I'm also glad to see that Alambic Classique keep firing on all cylinders. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a fresh agricole style, already complex despite the scarily high strength. A little burnt fudge, some tin, roasted peanuts, coconut liqueur, barbecued marshmallows… But then again, almost 65% vol., so let's not push our luck any further. With water: touches of vegetables (wee cabbage), metal polish, asparagus, cane juice, plasticine, new fir needles, grapefruit, a little seawater… It's a very unusual style for sure. Mouth (neat): a little shoe polish again, olive, lime, even a feeling of cachaça… But then again, 65%. With water: the best part, very vegetal, on high-class green tea, fennel, celeriac, liquorice wood… Finish: both a tad thin and pretty long, not a contradiction mind you. More roots and vegetables, parsnips for example… Comments: a very unusual style, much less 'obvious' than other recent distilleries, but really full of charms. Forgot to mention a drop of pastis in the aftertaste.

SGP:562 - 85 points.

Random mode temporarily inactivated…

Chamarel 2014/2021 (55%, OB for LMDW and Navigate World Whisky, Mauritius, Highveld Aging Series, oloroso, cask #B30, 664 bottles)

Chamarel 2014/2021 (55%, OB for LMDW and Navigate World Whisky, Mauritius, Highveld Aging Series, oloroso, cask #B30, 664 bottles) Three stars and a half
Matured for six years in Mauritius, then one year in South-Africa. This is pure pot-still distillation from sugarcane juice. Colour: amber. Nose: a fan. Feels much older, displaying wonderful hardwoods, polishes, toffee, chocolate, cigars, walnut stain, molasses (I know), earth, liquorice, cedarwood, coffee, camphor, roasted pecans… And much more. Rather riche and playful this far and you do feel that it was top oloroso. With water: touches of soy sauce coming out, hoisin… That's nice! Mouth (neat): this time there's a sweetness that feels a little 'pushed' but it's true that we've found this coffee-liqueury side in several Mauritian rums. Triple-sec, Kahlua, black chocolate, oloroso dulce perhaps… With water: water brings some welcome dryness, more tobacco, menthol, walnuts (from the oloroso I suppose), cocoa powder rather than coffee liqueur… That's all better news. Finish: medium, a tad salty and olive-y, which is great. Fermentation. Comments: a much rounder, sweeter Mauritian after the Alambic Classique, but water works well.
SGP:651 - 83 points.

Random mode reactivated…

Panamanian Rum 15 yo 2004 (62%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R9.7, 'Patacones with Pikliz', second-fill bourbon barrel, 229 bottles)

Panamanian Rum 15 yo 2004 (62%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R9.7, 'Patacones with Pikliz', second-fill bourbon barrel, 229 bottles) Four stars
The only word I was knowing of in the nickname here was 'with'. Colour: deep gold. Nose: ten times more coffee liqueur in this one! Plus easter eggs, sugar-coated peanuts, cotton candy and, err, Bailey's Irish cream. With water: oh nice! Light cigars, walnut oil, a drop of oyster sauce, bagasse, tangerines about to start to begin to smell foul (wonder-foul!) Mouth (neat): huge sweetness, huge cane syrup as well. Plus a petroly side that, as far as I can remember, I had never found before in rums from this region of the world. With water: super good, despite some excessive sucrosity here and there and touches of cologne. Finish: medium, sweet, a tad liqueury but the core remains of high grade (given that this is a Panamanian). Comments: I suppose this was Don José. I'm not sure anyone could do much better within this style.

SGP:730 - 85 points.

Bonne Mère 6 yo (59.6%, Sample X, Rum Mercenary and Kintra, Guadeloupe, 242 bottles, 2021)

Bonne Mère 6 yo (59.6%, Sample X, Rum Mercenary and Kintra, Guadeloupe, 242 bottles, 2021) Four stars and a half
This is 'rhum de sucrerie' or 'industriel', distilled in Sainte-Rose from molasses rather than cane juice. They used to produce the brands Delisle and Palmier. While not exactly part of the aristocracy of Guadeloupe or Martinique, these rhums can really deliver. Think Le Galion. Colour: gold. Nose: great fun! Citron and tangerine liqueurs, plus plain cane juice and a touch of aniseed. Very straight, pure, and pleasant. With water: even nicer! Wonderful whiffs of wormwood, genepy, verbena… All things that do not, as far as I can tell, grow in Guadeloupe. Mouth (neat): totally excellent and much more than just a filler. Once again, this is pure citron and tangerine liqueur, just probably better than citron and tangerine liqueur. Fennel seeds and celery in the background. Awesome freshness. With water: grassier, with olives, carbon, engine oil and liquorice. Fantastic. Finish: medium long, fresh, rather on mint, aniseed and liquorice. Salty absinth in the aftertaste. Comments: I think this is a first. Wonderful pure drop, very well caught, 'Sample X'.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

Random mode inactivated…

Domaine de Courcelles 1972/1973/2008/2009 'Grande Réserve' (58%, OB, Guadeloupe, for Rhum House Winterthur)

Domaine de Courcelles 1972/1973/2008/2009 'Grande Réserve' (58%, OB, Guadeloupe, for Rhum House Winterthur) Five stars
These were the very last batches of Courcelles. There were different variants, at 42% (WF 90), 47% (WF 91), 54% (WF 91), plus this stronger one at 58% vol. that we haven't tried yet. It is ex-molasses as well, so rhum de sucrerie, made with the ex-Courcelles stills that had been moved to Sainte-Marthe after Courcelles Distillery was closed in 1964. These stills have then been in use only from 1964 to 1972. No ideas where they went after 1972, but I'm sure true rum experts could tell (please advise!) Just to make things clear, this was distilled in 1972, put into oak in 1973, casks disgorged in 2008, bottles filled in 2009. Colour: amber. Nose: you could really believe this is a very old agricole – or a very old Yquem. Flabbergasting pralines, chocolate, prunes (tons and tons), sloe, natural rubber, dried porcini and morels, tiny drops of rose and orange blossom waters, sandalwood and incense… But prunes are having the upper hand this far. With water: same, no changes. Mouth (neat): it's One and its myriads, would a bad poet say. Salted caramelised prunes. Oh, what a oneness (calm down, S.) With water: very old Yquem, once more. Caramel, mushrooms, apricots, quince, roasted nuts and, again and again, tons of prunes, plums of Ente, quetsche…. Finish: perhaps the weaker part because of touches of alcohol/ethanol, but we're nit-picking, it's still within the first decile, and easily. Comments: almost 93.  Probably the best within all the Courcelles 1972. Hope we haven't tried them all, having said that.
SGP:641 - 92 points.

Random mode reactivated…

Plantation Barbados WIRD 1986/2022 (55.1%, West Indies Rum Distillery, Barbados, Extreme Series V, 286 bottles)

Plantation Barbados WIRD 1986/2022 (55.1%, West Indies Rum Distillery, Barbados, Extreme Series V, 286 bottles) Five stars
Mind you, this one is 34 or 35 years old. It is molasses rum, batch-distilled at the West Indies Rum Distillery, aged for 34 years in ex-bourbon in the tropics, then finished for one year in a 'Ferrand cask' – I would suppose that's ex-cognac. I would also suppose that last part is a gimmick, like the umbrella in the boot of any Aston Martin, which does not make them any faster or more reliable. Ha. Colour: gold. Nose: I'm not sure we've ever been this close to pure olive oil. And to old books and magazines, with a lot of old paper and ink, obviously. New-sawn plywood, sauna oils, a tiny bit of onion chutney, perhaps… With water: who remembers carbon paper? Also leather polish, old cars, old garage… Mouth (neat): you need to bow. Luminous citrus, marginally acetic, very faintly smoky (coal) and fermentary (chen-pi). With water: rather exceptional and somewhat in whisky territories. The oak starts to feel (was it already before the finishing part?) but at 35 years of age, there's strictly nothing to quibble about. Finish: medium, with some parts that do feel a little Jamaican. Brine, olives, tar… Comments: no 'sweetness' or 'dosage' as they call that funny practice whatsoever in this old WIRD, Any honest, candid taster will bow, I think. I certainly do, and we know that it wasn't easy after the Courcelles '72. Well done, trap thwarted!

SGP:562 - 91 points.

South Pacific 17 yo 2003/2020 (58.6%, The Rum Cask, Fiji)

South Pacific 17 yo 2003/2020 (58.6%, The Rum Cask, Fiji) Four stars and a half
What's a little strange is that our very good friends in Germany would have finished this entrancing (probably) Fijian rum in a 'Jamaica JNY cask'. I would be offended. Colour: gold. Nose: these Fijians are not very well known but they do deliver, with their smoky dried herbs and teas, the banana skins, drawing gum, leatherette, plasticine, camphory oranges, these whiffs of petroly and smoky hard cheese (see what I mean? Like some very old roqueforts)… With water: first rainwater after two months of drought, tarmac, olives and tinned bamboo shoots… Mouth (neat): very excellent, but is it the Fijian or is it Jamaica? Smoked and salted mangos marinated in olive oil. With water: super good, really. More smoky olives, rotting mangos, Swiss cheeses, carbon and rubber… Finish: long, salty, olive-y, with a little plastic and rubber. Which I find pretty Fijian. Comments: lovely, but careful with H2O. What's a 'Jamaica JNY cask', by the way?

SGP:463 - 88 points.

Enmore 30 yo 1998-1990 'Alpha & Omega' (51.6%, Jack Tar, Guyana, casks #42, 40, 55, 251 bottles)

Enmore 30 yo 1998-1990 'Alpha & Omega' (51.6%, Jack Tar, Guyana, casks #42, 40, 55, 251 bottles) Five stars
A multi-vintage offering with a very constructivist label. I hope we'll soon be able to quote Russian art freely and lightly again. Colour: amber. Nose: very unusual, very lovely. Pine and thuja woods in the end of a hot summer day, caraway, cedar, cloves, borage, more cedarwood, even more cedarwood, eucalyptus wood, more thuja, more cedar, more eucalyptus, pencil shavings… I find this wanzenig (couldn't find a proper word in English). With water: extraordinary, otherworldly woodiness. Visiting any of Leonardo's workshops, in Italy or France. Mouth (neat): sublime. Maracuja, cedar and eucalyptus, all synchronised to perfection, like the Bill Evans Trio (whatever). With water: not sure it needed any water. Water's almost an interloper in this game. Finish: I'll dare say that we're in early 1970s Ardbegs territories. Aren't the greatest old spirits about convergence? Salty, tarry… Only the aftertaste is a tad bitterer, on propolis. Comments: what a session today! Now let's be fair, the tougher finish and aftertaste made it lose one %. Dura Lex etc.
SGP:373 - 92 points.

We may be going overboard at this point, but is this Whiskyfun or is it only a pansy lifestyle blog for sissies? (diving to even lower lows now, S….)

J.Bally 1949 (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 75cl, 1980s)

J.Bally 1949 (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 75cl, 1980s) Four stars
An amazing old bottle from the Plantations Lajus du Carbet, in Martinique. This very rhum z'habitant was already labelled as 'agricole', even if the proper appellation (AOC) was only given in the year 1996. Now let's be honest, the oldest vintages are not always the best, my favourite Bally being the 1960 (which, very incidentally, is also my own year). Colour: deep amber with bronze hues. Nose: very dry, almost oloroso-y, with rather a lot of chocolate as well as a little pinewood. Espresso and a drop of fir liqueur, plus one drop of nocino (green walnut). Drops of meaty sauces as well, dry gravy… That's a lot of drops, eh. Mouth: a little jumbled, very meaty, bouillony, cardboardy, salty, dry… It's almost like some old bone-dry Madeira (remember Madeira has also got an agricole appellation!) Tends to become more cardboardy and salty over time, this is almost some kind of condiment for sashimi. Finish: medium, ultra-dry, oxidized, oloroso-y indeed. Beef stock and caramel in the aftertaste, not a bad feeling mind you. Comments: intellectual old rhum. Let's be honest, it couldn't fight the Enmore, the WIRD or the Courcelles.
SGP:361 - 85 points.

That's ten, what a session again! Thank you everyone, there will be more soon, much more…

(Merci Nicolas!!!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all rums we've tasted so far

 

May 6, 2022


Whiskyfun

A trio of Kilkerran

Hoi Sin
After those terrific Springbanks we tried right yesterday, I thought we could have another go at sister Distillery Glengyle and their make 'Kilkerran'.

Thank you Madame Li at the Baguettes d'Or in Strasbourg >

 

Kilkerran 8 yo 'Cask Strength Port Cask Matured' (57.9%, OB, 2022)

Kilkerran 8 yo 'Cask Strength Port Cask Matured' (57.9%, OB, 2022) Four stars
In my book, Port is never an obvious choice, with red berries of all kinds that may clash with any potent distillate. But as always, there are many exceptions and we'll keep an open mind, even if the colour is pink as, well, pink as flamingos. Colour: good news, it is not pink as flamingos, it's just apricoty. Nose: not obvious indeed, the combination generating huge notes of cedarwood (new humidor, pencil shavings) and peppered blood oranges, then morello cherries, strawberry-flavoured yoghurt, Fruit Loops, peonies… Kilkerran's character is not totally offset, having said (the lead in the pencil shavings!) With water: some kind of yeasty brioche with goji berries and cranberries, plus rather a lot of liquorice (allsorts). Mouth (neat): rather hot, on sour red fruits, driven by cherries, also pencil shavings once more, Szechuan pepper and proper pepper, then the dirty smokiness that we enjoy so much. All that does not really clash, having said that, it seems that the cask (a pipe?) was pretty clean. With water: water works extremely well. Don't strawberries and pepper really get on together? Finish: long and clean, with more fruits, ashes, peat and pepper. Straight Port and raisins in the aftertaste. Again, no clashes. Comments: very good, no doubt at all, it's just that I largely prefer bourbon and sherry, which always feel less 'flavoured' to me.

SGP:664 - 86 points.

Speaking of sherry…

Kilkerran 8 yo 'Cask Strength Sherry Cask Matured' (58.1%, OB, 2022) Four stars and a half
There's been an excellent ex-re-charred oloroso back in 2019. Colour: gold with copper hues. Nose: this one's clearly smokier in appearance, but it's got just as much pencil shaving. On the other hand, it's displaying this wonderful meatiness that could also be encountered in many sherried Springbanks, towards dried beef, bresaola, Grisons meat, or beef jerky (with a little chilli). Also much more earth, more dirtiness, more chocolate, mole sauce, mocha, nocino, hoisin sauce, barbecue sauce (Tennessee-style)… With water: rather more of all that, especially more earth, as well as geraniums. Mouth (neat): we're closer to the Port, with some red berries once more (where do those come from?) and a lot of pepper (once again, both Szechuan and 'proper'). Otherwise loads of pipe tobacco, cherry liqueur (Heering), raspberry ganache… The peat is clearly louder than in the Port. With water: both fatter and drier, which is perfect. Asian sauces of all kinds - I could exist off nothing but that for the rest of my life. Thai, Chinese, Indonesian, Indian… Well, all of them. Finish: rather long, this time with some citrus chiming in, peppered marmalade, black cherry jam (I think I've already written lines about those from the wee village of Itxassou, in the French pays basque.) Classic earthy and lemony smokiness in the aftertaste. Comments:

SGP:564 - 88 points.

And speaking of bourbon…

Kilkerran 11 yo 2009/2021 (56.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles)

Kilkerran 11 yo 2009/2021 (56.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles) Five stars
One should always watch what's cooking at W.M. Cadenhead's… Colour: white wine. Nose: some much tighter, cleaner, simpler wood and a distillate that can express itself freely this time. As a consequence, this is a rather simpler whisky, but this remains my preferred style and this time again, we're reminded that Campbeltown is close to Islay. Mud, chalk, wool, iodine, hessian, peat smoke, seashells… Not much tar, having said that. I find this absolutely impeccable. With water: emphasis on hessian and wool. And new Harris tweed. Mouth (neat): winner. Lemon, peat, chalk, sourdough, plasticine, salt, ashes… Another little blade. One day we'll do a proper Kilkerran vs. Longrow session. With water: the lemons in the lead this time, plus a drop of fish oil and seashells. Randomly… clams. Finish: not eternal but with more wax, lemon and smoked fish. Saltier aftertaste. Comments: a wonderful little peater with a perfect fatter body and rocking lemons and seashells. Simpler pleasures, that is what we all need in these troubled times. One or two extra-points just because of that.

SGP:455 - 90 points.

(Thanks KC)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Kilkerran we've tasted so far

 

May 5, 2022


Whiskyfun

Four Springbank and a wee rant

Randomly and in good faith. I've heard many good people complain about the fact that Springbank was getting expensive. Well, I remember some magazine or newspaper, around twenty-five or thirty years ago (wasn't it The Times?) had stated that Springbank was THE 1er Grand Cru Classé of Scotch Whisky. What's a little distasteful these days, having said that, is seeing stinky flippers making money with Springbank's blue and yellow charity bottling for Ukraine. I'm not saying the Distillery can do anything against that, all I'll say is that any profits that are generated should go to Ukraine, not into the pocket of any miserable, disgusting and pathetic excuse for a human being whose mother was a hamster while the father was smelling of elderberries. Anyway…

This wee advert from 2003 was particularly clear,
Springbank is for drinkers, not for flippers!

 

Springbank 10 yo 'Local Barley' (51.6%, OB, 15,000 bottles, 2021)

Springbank 10 yo 'Local Barley' (51.6%, OB, 15,000 bottles, 2022) Four stars and a half
This baby was actually bottled in December last year. It was made from Belgravia Barley (do they grow barley in central London??? – good one S.) It is 100% ex-bourbon and was bottled at some kind of reduced strength, apparently. What's sure is that it's the lightest LB so far – apart from the older LBs that had been distilled in the 1960s. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's one of those very sooty and sour ones, starting with a lot of solvent, acetone, then we have lemon juice, a feeling of gin, bags of grist and many small berries. This is almost holly eau-de-vie! With water: sauerkraut, seawater, engine oil and a new 3-pack of pencil erasers (back to school). Mouth (neat): a little gentler on the palate, but very chalky, sooty and lemony, well in our preferred style. One cannot change his own nature. With water: exceptional, in the style of the regular 10, which we always just love. Some green pepper and salt. Finish: long, peppery, then salty and lemony. Comments: nothing to throw away. Do not over-water.
SGP:362 – 69 points for all cupid, shameless flippers (please switch to cryptos!), 89 points for all good people (like us!)

A quasi-OB please…

Springbank 10 yo 2011/2021 (55%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles, autumn 2021)

Springbank 10 yo 2011/2021 (55%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles, autumn 2021) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: same whisky, honestly. Perhaps a tad fatter and a notch more mineral, but that may be the extra 3.4% vol. With water: exceptional sourdough, grist and porridge, sake and fino, genever, raw wool… Mouth (neat): different this time, a tad dirtier than the LB, with more fermentary notes, sour cream, yoghurt, chalk and clay, and this feeling of ashes and carbon dust. With water: all things lemons taking over, together with a lot of chalk, white beers, leaven bread and just, well, yes, lemons. Finish: long and vertical, chiselled. Another perfect blade. Comments: stunning purity and body. 1er Grand Cru Classé stuff, my dear, and surely a smart move by W.M. Cadenhead. The new Local Barley was just a distraction (ha!)

SGP:452 - 91 points.

We could have an old one now, what do you say?

Springbank 28 yo 1992/2020 (42.8%, Sansibar for Japanwhisky, bourbon, 204 bottles)

Springbank 28 yo 1992/2020 (42.8%, Sansibar for Japanwhisky, bourbon, 204 bottles) Five stars
Lovely label with some koi fish, which are almost as expensive as Springbank. Colour: white wine. Always the perfect colour for Springbank. Nose: an ideal counterpoint after the CAD. It is the same whisky, just eighteen years older. It's lost a little oomph, but it won more complexity and subtleness, and even more elegance. Perfect chalky, sooty, fermentary, gristy notes, then rather less lemon than in the young ones, and more camphory and medicinal notes. Iodine, mercurochrome, oysters, ointments, peat smoke… In the end, it is almost like if Campbeltown and Islay had moved closer back in 1992. Plate tectonics, maybe? Mouth: indeed, you would be forgiven for saying this is an older Islay. Tight lemony smoke, cough syrup, kippers, grapefruits, brine, ashes, touches of passion fruits, oysters, plasticine, bitter almonds… This is troubling. Finish: not too long but wonderfully tertiary. Many smaller coastal and resinous notes, and a little sesame and fish oil in the aftertaste. 90% sesame, 10% fish (phew!) Comments: just wonderful. Those vintages weren't easy when they were young, but this is really magnificent and goes to prove, once more, that time is whisky's main ingredient.

SGP:563 - 91 points.

(I've done a quick and dirty vatting with Cad's 10 and Sansibar's 28 and now feel like I'm Dr Bill.)

Please an old OB and we're done… Oh, didn't we mention the 1960s when we were talking Local Barley?...

Springbank 1967 (46%, OB, for Taiwan, 750ml, +/-1995)

Springbank 1967 (46%, OB, for Taiwan, 750ml, +/-1995) Five stars
This is not the famous 27 yo or 28 yo 1967 'Big golden S', it doesn't state any age or bottling year on the labels. Unless that's all in Chinese… In theory, this should be a bed of roses… Colour: gold. Nose: there are not massive differences between 'modern' and 'older' Springbanks, while there are at many other famous Distilleries, as we all know. It's true that their equipment hasn't changed since the Flintstones. In this very case, we do detect similar coastal notes as in the Sansibar, perhaps a little less ashes and soot, but that could be some sherry casks.. Now what's rather typical of these 1960s and even early 1970s Springbanks is this superb honeyness. Heather honey for sure, pollens, nectar, then raisins and dried apricots, old late-harvest white wines, the best sweet Tokaji…  Mouth: we'll keep this short. All things honeys, plus moist cakes (biscuits in champagne), raisins of all kinds – never too sweet – then a meatiness (sweet ham) and various old herbal liqueurs. Wormwood, star anise, spearmint, verbena, lemon balm and all those small pleasures of life. Finish: medium long and unexpectedly mentholy, with even more verbena as well. Lemon, some sweet earthiness and some chartreuse in the aftertaste, with a little salt, and then a honeyed final signature. Comments: a few touch-and-goes, as often with old bottles, but as expected, this was a glorious old Springbank. 1er Grand Cru Classé of Scotland, indeed.

SGP:662 - 92 points.

More Springbank soon, stay tuned.

(With thanks to the Burlet gang and to Ryan)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Springbank we've tasted so far

 

May 4, 2022


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