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Serge whiskyfun

 

Whiskies 17,000
Other spirits 2,390
Angus 1,488

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (100)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
31)
Banff (5
2)
Ben Nevis (251)
Ben Wyvis
(3)
Benriach (1
94)
Benrinnes (
102)
Benromach (
81)
Bladnoch (
87)
Blair Athol (
97)
Bowmore (5
69)
Braes of Glenlivet (
52)
Brora (1
43)
Bruichladdich (320)
Bunnahabhain (
406)

Caol Ila (710)
Caperdonich (
100)
Cardhu (
40)
Clynelish (4
57)
Coleburn (2
5)
Convalmore (
30)
Cragganmore (84)
Craigduff (4)
Craigellachie (
105)
Dailuaine (91)
Dallas Dhu (41)
Dalmore (1
32)
Dalwhinnie (38)
Deanston (
60)
Dufftown (5
8)

Edradour (94)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
88)
Laphroaig (
506)
Ledaig (1
37)
Linkwood (1
82)
Littlemill (1
27)
Loch Lomond (
80)
Lochside (72)
Longmorn (2
3
3)
Longrow (7
8)

Macallan (323)
Macduff (91)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
53)
Millburn (2
4)
Miltonduff (
103)
Mortlach (2
15)
Mosstowie (2
5)
Scapa (51)
Speyburn (
48)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (
405)
St-Magdalene (5
4)
Strathisla (
106)
Strathmill (
53)

 
 
Pete and Jack



2021
November 1
October 1 - 2
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April 1
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2019
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November
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October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
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June 1 - 2
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April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
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2018
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
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2017
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
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2016
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2015
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2014
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1- 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2013
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2012
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2011
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2010
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2009
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2008
Music Awards
December
1 - 2 - 3
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

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

2006
Music Awards
December 1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2 - 3
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

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

 
Malt maniacs goodies
 

Othe whisky stuff
 

Brora

The Magical History
of the Great
Brora Distillery
1969 - 1983

   


 

Ye Auld Pages
that used to be here

   

 

 



Disclaimer
 

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.

I always try to write about artists who, I believe, deserve wider recognition, and all links to mp3 files are here to show you evidence of that. Please encourage the artists you like, by buying either their CDs or their downloadable 'legal' tracks.

I always add links to the artists' websites - if any - which should help you know more about their works. I also try to add a new link to any hosting website or weblog which helped me discover new music - check the column on the right.

I almost never upload any mp3 file on my own server, except when dealing with artists I personally know, and who gave me due authorizations, or sometimes when I feel a 'national' artist deserves wider recognition. In that case, the files will remain on-line only for a few days.

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

As they say here: 'L'abus d'alcool est dangeureux pour la santé - à consommer avec modération'

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
21

 
Whiskyfun

Scotch Legal Announcement


 
 

December 7, 2021


Whiskyfun

A new wee bag of Springbank including my, cough, 17,000th whisky

(a double session)

We've said we'd try Springbank, the whisky from that other planet that is Campbeltown, at least once a month. Of course Hazelburn counts.

The great 3-cylinder engine, 2004 ->

Springbank 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (55.4%, OB, batch #22, 2021)

Springbank 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (55.4%, OB, batch #22, 2021) Three stars and a half
This is 50% sherry and 50% bourbon. I would have preferred 50% bourbon and 50% refill hogshead, but there, not my business… Colour: light gold. Nose: probably not the dirtiest young Springbank ever, but I do find it very porridge-y, full of sourdough, soot, concrete, beach pebbles and with these typical notes of 'new electronics'. Tends to become pretty medicinal too (bandages), but it hasn't quite got these very mineral notes that were to be found in earlier batches. No raisins this far, hurray. With water: raw wool and wet dogs. We are sorry, dogs! Damp chalk too. Mouth (neat): pure lime juice with some salt and some blood oranges, then drops of orange liqueur. Perhaps a little simple but what it does it does good. With water: more pepper, greens, and sour fruits, cherries, fermenting raisins… Finish: rather long, a tad rounder, with some muscovado sugar. Raisins indeed in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, as expected. The problem is that I had a shot of the 10 only yesterday and found it rather vastly superior. Bur let's not exaggerate, this 12 is still a rather mighty dram.
SGP:452 - 84 points.

Some diversion…

Springbank 12 yo 1997/2010 (57.1%, OB, private, Ian's Artisan Dram, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #315, 233 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo 1997/2010 (57.1%, OB, private, Ian's Artisan Dram, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #315, 233 bottles) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: soot and Demerara sugar, marrow soup and quenelles, lamb, then burning pinecones and rather a lot of metal polish, 'good' sulphur, old copper coins, old kettle, old stove… Oh so very old Springbank.  With water: rotting fruits, game, hoisin sauce, coal… All very brilliant! Mouth (neat): love these dirty old sherried Springbanks. Eating metal polish straight from the tube, bitter oranges, sucking pipe tobacco (you should not do that, it's toxic), more marrow, this feeling of coal-smoked raisins… With water: umami sauce, glutamate, chestnut purée, rancio, sweeter gravy… One could pour this over hamburgers, really. Finish: long, sooty and yet sweeter, with more raisins? Smoked raisins, of course. Cough syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: a great bottle that starts to benefit from OBE, if you ask me. 91 on ten years' time.

SGP:463 - 90 points.

Springbank 25 yo (46%, OB, 1400 bottles, 2021)

Springbank 25 yo (46%, OB, 1400 bottles, 2021) Five stars
Some rum wood in there. Oh hell, why not. Colour: light amber. Nose: it is as if you would feel the rum, and as if it had been ex-Jamaica, really. In that case, we're all for these notes of olives, peppermint, tiger balm, liquorice wood, wood earth (fern), moist Cuban cigars, cured ham, old-style embrocations and balms… Oh, and that old pack of untipped Camels, circa 1975. Funny how memory works, is it not. Mouth: grand whisky, extremely punchy at 46% vol., very complex, with a good amount of coffee and chocolate, then rum indeed, salted caramel, umami, bouillons, savoury mixes, Maggi, drop of chilli sauce (perhaps Harissa?), fermentary sauce, peppered oranges… Well it is all a little untidy and shambolic, but that's precisely what we enjoy in these creative drops. And there, those large capers they have in Sicilia… And honeydew.  Finish: long, drier, saltier yet. Imagine someone would have added salt to a fine Assam, or something like that… Comments: shambles that we love. Forgot to mention black and green olives on the palate.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

Springbank 1996/2020 (47.3%, OB, private, for Bar Sugar Hill Arnhem, fresh sherry hogshead, cask #108, 36 bottles)

Springbank 1996/2020 (47.3%, OB, private, for Bar Sugar Hill Arnhem, fresh sherry hogshead, cask #108, 36 bottles) Five stars
From a private cask that's been shared. They share many things in the Netherlands, especially gouda, lakrits, spliffs, and whisky casks. Colour: amber. Nose: exactly sherried Springbank as it should be, if I may. Wonderful crude cocoa and black teas, all kinds of mints and liquorices, meats and marrows, cured ham, Swiss cheese, old rancio, artichoke liqueur, dates filled with marzipan, stouts, soy sauce… It's all pretty mad and just wonderful. Mouth: huge, almost aggressive at just 47%, peppery, Campari-y (apologies), going on with a lot of marmalade, chillies, liquorices, a little tarragon, aniseed, pastis, tar liqueur… A very mad mixologist could have created this using many old liqueurs and cordials. And mead. Crazy whisky. Finish: long, stunningly herbal and shock-full of salted liquorice, with a little venison sauce in the aftertaste. Cranberries. Comments: no wonder some friends in Holland would have selected this, het is erg lekker!
SGP:562 - 91 points.

1996… Great vintage at many places!

Now if you please, let's try my personal 17,000th whisky here on little WF! Our 16,000th last year had been the first Dornoch, but this time it's going to be a Springbank, as some friends on FB had rather smartly guessed. No, 17K that isn't that much, I needed almost 20 years to get there and professional sommeliers would tend to try at least ten times those amounts.

WF 17K

Springbank 17 yo 1996/2014 (53.3%, OB for Taiwan, fresh sherry, cask #582, 534 bottles)

Springbank 17 yo 1996/2014 (53.3%, OB for Taiwan, fresh sherry, cask #582, 534 bottles) Five stars
Some of these bottles really flew under our radars here in Europe. Colour: light amber. Nose: totally on Demerara sugar and rhum agricole of good age, plus a few drops of Hampden or Worthy Park. Well, that's what happened first, before more savoury, Springbanky, faintly sulphury notes started to come out, with some plasticine, a little diesel oil, pencil eraser, Maggi… It's all very lovely indeed. With water: creosote, saltpetre, ashes, samphires, Worcester sauce… and stuff like that. Mouth (neat): how great is this? Fab mineral, smoky, salty, tobacco-y, walnutty and chestnutty notes just everywhere, with these touches of sulphur that work so well in Springbank, while they would only also work in, say Mortlach and Ben Nevis. See what I mean? With water: salt, cigars, cocoa, acidic coffee, nuts, tar, resins, very old riesling… Finish: long, tighter, almost lemony. Lemongrass, tobacco, brine, smoke, Madeira, mustard sauce… Comments: wow, this one was right up my alley. Wait, it's almost as if they had added a little Longrow to the cask, no?

SGP:473 - 91 points.

We do keep flying high, do we not…

Springbank 1980/1988 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, 20th Anniversary, fino sherry, 540 bottles)

Springbank 1980/1988 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, 20th Anniversary, fino sherry, 540 bottles) Four stars and a half
I've never written any formal tasting note for this one, but I've drunk some and I remember it was a little controversial. Now's the time; after all we're only around 33 years late… Colour: gold. Nose: whooh, lovage! Always loved lovage. Also malt extracts, manzanilla (right, fino), mustard, green walnuts, vin jaune, curry, mustard again, a drop of mezcal, then olives, plasticine, waxes… Boy do I love this pretty vertical profile! With water: dry, chalky, sooty. Nosing some dry spice combo, allspice, concrete, plaster… Mouth (neat): smoked lemons, limoncello, pine liqueur, with a sudden drop around the middle, quite unexpected. Ah, now I remember… With water: a sweeter side, Sylvaner, liquorice allsorts… Not quite on the same level as on the nose, but no complains, it's a great drop. Finish: typical salty/meaty/lemony combo, it would almost take off again. Touch-down whisky. Comments: stunning nose, great arrival on the palate, more pedestrian middle, superb finish… hold on, I'm just realising that this baby was only 8 when dear Silvano S. bottled it. Mind you, eight years old.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Back to Taiwan, perhaps…

Springbank 1972 (51.2%, OB, Big S, for Taiwan, +/-1995)

Springbank 1972 (51.2%, OB, Big S, for Taiwan, +/-1995) Four stars and a half
This is very rare, I think I've never seen it before, neither have I tried it 'knowingly' (indeed when you have good friends, you never quite remember what's they've poured you around 3:30 a.m… ha!) Colour: light gold. Nose: goes towards beeswax and in that respect, reminds you of many an old 'Local Barley' or 'West Highland Malt', or 21/25 by 'Archibald Mitchell'. Exceptional meady earthiness and old 1st-cru Sauternes. Amazing, truly 'the smells of 1972' (Clynelish, Springbank Glen Grant and so on). Stuff of legends. With water: damp earth, camphor, swamp, old mead, old furniture polish… It holds for sure.  Mouth (neat): unexpectedly rustic, mentholy, dry, herbal… Not exactly what I've been expecting. Maybe the cask. With water: roots and earths. Really good, but it is as if it wasn't the same whisky on the nose. Beers and meads. Finish: medium, earthy, with a feeling of old chardonnay that's gone a little bit too far. Flabby Chablis, as dead constantly imbibed American poets would have said. Comments: the nose was out-of-this-world.

SGP:551 - 89 points.

Let's call this a tasting session, if you agree.

(Many, many, and I mean many thanks, Chang!)

 

 

Bonus. Guess what, Angus decided, at the very last minute, to join the festivities…

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Springbank, if you don't mind.
Admittedly I've been trying quite a lot of very good whiskies in these weekly tastings lately. I see no reason to stop that streak of pleasure just yet…

 

Campbeltown 7 yo Blended Malt (57.4%, Watt Whisky, 66 bottles)

Campbeltown 7 yo Blended Malt (57.4%, Watt Whisky, 66 bottles)
An exclusive local bottling for local people - so I'm told. Quite curious to see how these batches are evolving as they age, assuming not all casks were bottled at 5yo? Colour: straw. Nose: familiar! Sheep wool, wet rope, rigging, lanolin, linen cloth, chalk and aspirin. Pure, clean, young, feisty and invigorating with a yeasty kick up the arse! With water: white flowers, flints, hessian, sun lotion and olive oil. Mouth: again this is all on wet wool, lemon juice, chalk, pebbles, cod liver oil, hessian, cooking oils and wee camphor and medical touches. With water: gets impressively oily and fatty in texture with dilution. Many more cooking and industrial oily vibes. Camphor, lanolin, ointments and a little seawater. Finish: long, salty, oily, more fatty cooking oil vibes, roasted peanuts out of nowhere and asparagus. Comments: fun and rather boisterous whisky that probably should be consumed shoreside in C-town between the hours of 2 and 5 am.
SGP: 462 - 85 points.

 

 

Springbank 8 yo (80 proof, OB, 1960s)

Springbank 8 yo (80 proof, OB, 1960s)
I've tried this already on these pages (WF92) however, that was the 43% Sutti import version. Not sure whether this is really an 80 proof version or not, I think I only saw these 60s tall 8 year olds at 43%? Anyway, for the record… Colour: gold. Nose: extremely focussed on medical vapour rubs such as tiger balm, also medical embrocations, bandages, gauze, iodine and eucalyptus oils. Immensely fatty and full of many herbal extracts, mineral oils, animal fats, suet and mustard oil. Hugely charismatic distillate - if perhaps slightly lopsided towards these very precise medical aspects. Mouth: pin sharp medicines, mineral oils, waxed canvass, seawater, pickling juices, natural tar, salted liquorice and some pretty heavy umami paste flavours. Very savoury, herbal and medicinal. Finish: long, salty, peaty, oily and with a lot of herbal bitters, soot and smoked olive oil. Comments: huge whisky, and definitely a different batch from the last bottle I tried. This is seriously medicinal and peaty old style whisky. Probably not totally balanced but the sheer force of personality is unequivocally mighty.
SGP: 464 - 91 points.

 

 

Springbank 10 yo 2009/2019 'Local Barley' (56.2%, OB, 9000 bottles)

Springbank 10 yo 2009/2019 'Local Barley' (56.2%, OB, 9000 bottles)
Composed of 77% bourbon, 20% sherry and 3% port casks apparently. Colour: pale gold. Nose: perhaps a more gentle profile of Springbank. Initially I find olive oil, light camphor notes, freshly milled grist, hints of bandages and sheep wool. Over time it starts to evolve some very lovely notes of sea air and grapefruit. Gaining complexity and some very typical distillery character along the way. With water: becomes quite pointedly salty, brine and citric with lemons and limes galore. Waxes, mineral salts and beach pebbles. Mouth: here we go! Big coastal and seawater notes, more grapefruit - pink this time - lemon oils, bergamot, lime, waxes, fir wood resins, mineral oils, ointments and smoked olive oil. Big personality whisky. With water: eases into a pretty classical Springbank mix of waxes, olive oil, seawater and various citrus fruits with their rinds intact. Superb texture and mouthfeel. Finish: long, peppery, mineral, salty, waxy and with a nicely delicate peat smoke thread. Comments: started quiet, but unfolded pretty quickly into some Grade A modern Springbank. The palate is really superb!
SGP: 463 - 90 points.

 

 

Springbank 10 yo 2010/2020 'Local Barley' (55.6%, OB, oloroso sherry, 8500 bottles)

Springbank 10 yo 2010/2020 'Local Barley' (55.6%, OB, oloroso sherry, 8500 bottles)
Colour: deep amber. Nose: cherries and some other assorted red fruits strike first, also rather a lot of polished and quite scented hardwoods, resins, black tea and pipe tobacco. Dark chocolate with sea salt and dark fruits stewed with spices. impressively clean sherry so far. With water: focused on jams, wood spices, dark fruit cordials, lapsing souchong tea and cheng pi aged orange peels. Mouth: the Springbank certainly comes through loud and clear, which is good news, although I think the peat and medicine of the distillate maybe jar slightly with the sherry cask. Some more hardwood resins, jasmine, black tea, tobacco, herbal toothpaste and salted liquorice. There's also something like peated cola syrup going on - root beer maybe more accurate. With water: rather tarry, peppery, on creosote, ointments, TCP, bergamot and smoked black beers. Smoked paprika, game meats, anchovy paste and eucalyptus again. Powerful stuff that's probably not perfectly balanced but a lot of fun. Finish: long, very herbal and medical, medicated toothpaste, mouthwash, bitter blood orange marmalade, hessian, black pepper and more cured meats. Comments: great distillate and very good 'modern' sherry casks don't necessarily equal terrific whisky, especially when you introduce peat into the mix. Now, I'm probably being a bit nit-picky here - this is still an excellent and very fun whisky. You just have to like these rather pointed and syrupy medical vibes.
SGP: 663 - 87 points.

 

 

Springbank 19 yo 2001/2021 (50.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles)

Springbank 19 yo 2001/2021 (50.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 204 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: soft medicines, heather smoke, herbal infusions, Scotch broth, bandages, wet beach pebbles, white flowers… these batches are just totally brilliant I'm afraid. A feathery, crystalline peat smoke with chalk, lanolin, lemon rind and seawater. Also some crystallised exotic fruits, lemon barley water and drops of smoked olive oil. The kind of nose you could just spend ages picking apart in detail. With water: a tad more floral, a few more pollens, slightly drier, slightly more crisp and coastal. Some more citrus rinds and more subtle things like smoked teas and fruit syrups. Mouth: perfect smokiness, peatiness, coastal freshness, waxes, minerals, citrons, chalk, menthol tobacco, medical embrocations, salted honey, heather beer, ointments. Totally superb and feels like it was captured at a perfect age. With water: perfectly sooty, waxy, mineral and oily. A wonderfully thick but not too assertive peat smoke flavour, white pepper, lanolin, mineral oils, shoe polish and more waxy lemon rind vibes. Finish: long, lightly smoky, sooty, resinous, still full of coastal freshness, dried flowers and peppery waxy flavours. Comments: hard to beat. These vintages at this age are just outstanding. A great cask that's alive from start to finish with distillery character.
SGP: 563 - 91 points.

 

 

Springbank 28 yo 1992/2021 (50.9%, Milroy's Of Soho, cask #185, hogshead)

Springbank 28 yo 1992/2021 (50.9%, Milroy's Of Soho, cask #185, hogshead)
Colour: gold. Nose: there's something rather funny and '1992ish' about this one, things like cheese rind and curds, something slightly lactic anyway, but that's not intended negatively. This is still quite oily, syrupy sweet delicate peat, fragrant waxes, Barbour jacket, wax paper, tea tree oil, wintergreen and herbal liqueurs. Feels very concentrated and delicate, with a strong degree of complexity. With water: gets more complex and still very oily, mechanical oils, cooking oils, camphor, natural tar, metal polish, sooty coal scuttles, coins, peat embers and Scotch broth. Really quite a lot going on. Mouth: great arrival, very oily and fatty. Lots of camphor, suet, waxes, fir wood resins, herbal ointments, embrocations, mineral oils, beeswax polish and oily rags. An impression of sweetened olive oil, tiny briny inflections and dried seaweed. Excellent and beautifully balanced. With water: perfectly drying and a notch more saline now, mineral salts, putty, lemon rind, seawater and a dry, herbal waxiness. Some ancient herbal liqueur with shades of honey. Finish: long, becoming a little heathery, warming peppery vibes, more nicely drying waxiness, dried herbs, teas, mineral oils and umami. Comments: some of these early 90s batches can be pretty unlikely, but this one really sings. Same quality as the 2001.
562 - 91 points.

 

 

 

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

 

December 6, 2021


Whiskyfun

More 30 yo Jura

Jura
From the Isle of Jura where they have many more deer than humans, even during Feis Ile.

Colour picture, 2006 ->

Jura 29 yo 1992/2021 (47.2%, Whisky Age for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, bourbon barrel, cask #836, 140 bottles)

Jura 29 yo 1992/2021 (47.2%, Whisky Age for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, bourbon barrel, cask #836, 140 bottles) Four stars and a half
In theory, nothing should go wrong here. What's more, we do also remember that stunning recent Talisker 10 for the Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan. Colour: white wine. Nose: typical seawater with a little sweet mustard, walnuts, paraffin, gorse, sandalwood, cigarette tobacco, then scoria, soot, castor oil (very old car), and any old stuff you would find in an old basement, just, perhaps, not dead mice. Mouth: appropriately salty and bitter at first, that is to say rather on brine and some kind of resinous mustard, also miso soup, then bitter almonds and bitterish vegetables. Eggplant, artichoke, dandelion greens, grapefruit peel… Finish: long, salty and bitter indeed, a tad unsexy but that's something you would expect from some typical Jura. Sooty and ashy aftertaste. Comments: reminds me of some older OBs, but this is wider. A very perfect example of the 'harsher' Jura style, perhaps not for everyone, but surely for us.
SGP:372 - 88 points.

Jura 30 yo 1991/2021 (54%, Artist by La Maison du Whisky, bourbon barrel, cask #946, 100 bottles)

Jura 30 yo 1991/2021 (54%, Artist by La Maison du Whisky, bourbon barrel, cask #946, 100 bottles) Five stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: mustard and soot once more, dry Madeira, fino, green walnuts, old tools, engine oil, horseradish, carbon paper, brake dust, then camphor and more green walnuts and mustard which, rather serendipitously, would remind us of some Vin Jaune from… Jura. Rather around Arbois than Château-Châlon. With water: whiffs of fresh French varnish (but naturellement), grass, heather, sourdough, manzanilla… What's not to like here?  Mouth (neat): sweeter than the 1992 – maybe the barrel -  and rather more on Seville oranges and just marmalade at first, then we find the expected walnuts, touches of curry (very vin jaune indeed), salty bouillons, elderberry eau-de-vie, plus these sooty ashes. With water: geared towards vegetable soups, bouillons, chicken broth, curry, cardamom, juniper… Finish: medium, sooty. More slightly sweeter miso. And walnuts again in the aftertaste. Comments: superb, whisky jaune from the isle of Jura, shall we say; we've come full circle.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Jura 30 yo 1991/2021 (46.5%, Thompson Brothers, refill hogshead, 216 bottles)

Jura 30 yo 1991/2021 (46.5%, Thompson Brothers, refill hogshead, 216 bottles) Four stars and a half
Angus has already tried this 100th bottling by the hyperactive Thompson Bros. Colour: white wine. Nose: rather closer to the 1992, with a little more vegetal oils (hazelnut, sunflower) and then paraffin and plasticine, while some softer seafood would dance in the background (say langoustines) before some straight soot would then take over. A little lettuce and rucola, incense, then some sweeter liqueur, perhaps hibiscus? They make that in French Guyana.  A little melon too. Mouth: a wee tad tougher, with a lot of lemon peel, indeed rucola, then putty and plasticine, green walnuts, chlorophyll, mustard, then drops of Get 27 (peppermint) and just grass juice. Finish: long, on marmalade and rather green pepper this time. Very peppery aftertaste. Comments: the nose is superb, the palate is not exactly a bed of roses, but this old-schoolness remains absolutely wonderful. Almost distilled fino.
SGP:472 - 89 points.

Grouped fire today, as expected.

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

 

December 5, 2021


Whiskyfun

Rums that we were having

Just more rum, as after brandy, there's rum  - and reversely. First up, a wee apéritif…

Trois Rivières 1979 (40%, OB, Martinique, +/-1990)

Trois Rivières 1979 (40%, OB, Martinique, +/-1990) Two stars
Rhum agricole for sure but this was pre-appellation. Hope it's not flat dead, I'm just opening the bottle, cross fingers… Colour: light amber. Nose: typical OBE on rum, with obvious notes of shoe polish which, I'm sure, weren't there back in the 1990s. Mushrooms, mud, rotting oranges, dried rambutans and banana confit, and really a lot of earth. Which, in truth, is scary… Mouth: it got dry and drying, too mentholy, too liquoricy, a little fleshless, scrawny, now you do still feel that this has been great. Like, twenty years ago. No, seriously, gathering old bottles is cool, but believe me, your investment is never totally secure. Old bottles, whether whisky, brandy or rum, are not much better than Bitcoins, they just take more room. Finish: nicer! Mouthwash and pine liqueur, with a little honeydew. Comments: I should have opened this thirty years ago but then again, there were no d*rty blogs back then ;-). Although I could have started a page on our dear old 'Minitel'.
SGP:471 - 72 points.

Off to Cuba (love Cuba)…

Havana Club 25 yo (40%, La Distillerie Générale, Cuba, 35 cl, 790 bottles)

Havana Club 25 yo (40%, La Distillerie Générale, Cuba, 35 cl, 790 bottles) Four stars
Some crazy 'independent' stuff by Pernod-Ricard, who as anyone would know, do handle Havana Club. Those 25 years are the average age here, rather than the age of the youngest component. Better just try it, the stories being a tad unlikely and, well, dissonant. Colour: orange amber. Nose: the Cuban lightness, the oranges, this feeling of nosing Grand-Marnier, these tiny touches of crystallised tangerines, these notes of burnt caramel that, in my lousy experience, will be found in any Cuban rum… And, guess what, no whiffs of 'Cuban cigars' whatsoever. Mouth: light but delicate and complex, with awesome touches of burnt sugars (muscovado, demerara), then café latte and Swiss hot chocolate (Caotina, allez). It is really thin but it does make you think of Juana Bacallao, that utter star from La Havana which I last saw at the Buena Vista Social Club around five years ago. Finish: not long, but wonderfully caramelly. Comments: unless I 'm wrong, this one would dethrone my former favourite Cuban, which used to be Santiago de Cuba 11 years old (WF 85). But we'ved got the Santiago 25 on the shelves...
SGP:640 - 86 points.

Mauritius 2010/2021 (52.9%, Single Barrel Selection for The Whisky Exchange, Mauritius, moscatel cask finish, 305 bottles)

Mauritius 2010/2021 (52.9%, Single Barrel Selection for The Whisky Exchange, Mauritius, moscatel cask finish, 305 bottles) Three stars and a half
From Gray's distillery apparently. I'm still struggling with my rums from Maurice/Mauritius, I have to say, and a finish in moscatel will probably not help. Colour: amber. Nose: fudge, warm cane syrup, then flowers (lilies, ylang-ylang), then rather huge notes of pineapple and passion fruits. That's all extremely aromatic and pretty lovely, hope the palate won't be sugary – or lightish. With water: peonies all over the place, with wee whiffs of mothballs, musk, old wardrobe, mink, old lady's perfumes… Mouth (neat): crazy fruity palate, on huge raspberries, mulberries, prickly pears (huge, totally huge) and liquorice allsorts. With water: easy, fruity, and frankly gewurztraminer-like. Turkish delights, rose jelly, litchi… Finish: good length, extremely fruity. More Turkish delights and roses. Comments: not my preferred style, as a malt enthusiast, but let's be honest, there's some stamina in there, and an insane fruity floralness.
SGP:740 - 84 points.

Foursquare 2005/2020 (61.1%, Wealth Solutions, The Colours of Rum, Barbados, cask #112, 272 bottles)

Foursquare 2005/2020 (61.1%, Wealth Solutions, The Colours of Rum, Barbados, cask #112, 272 bottles) Four stars
What a series! Not a rum day without Foursquare. Colour: light amber. Nose: very Foursquare, that is to say all on cakes, either burnt or 'natural'. Typical mid-light, mid-heavy style, so very self-blend. Perhaps a little too much coconut too, but let's see… With water: varnish and 'new-sawn plywood', then wee vegetables, asparagus, salsify… Those vegetables are adding to the distillate's body, otherwise it would be a little too skinny IMHO. Mouth (neat): a thinnish body, as always, but all the rest is rather perfect, as always. Bananas and roasted nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, sesame, black nougat… With water: praline galore and a nougaty extravaganza. How very Foursquare, with no proper esters in sight. I mean, esters that you would taste upfront. Finish: long and light. Some varnishy touches, tangerine juice… Comments: impeccable, just not totally sexy. This thinness on your tongue…
SGP:541 - 86 points.

Karukera 6 yo 2014/2021 (61.8%, OB for LMDW, Guadeloupe, cask # 10R12N1, 122 bottles)

Karukera 6 yo 2014/2021 (61.8%, OB for LMDW, Guadeloupe, cask # 10R12N1, 122 bottles) Four stars
From a sherry brandy cask, which was probably an oloroso cask in the first place. I suppose we're talking brandy de Jerez, right? Colour: amber. Nose: huge liquorice. Love liquorice. Amazing liquorice, plus star anise and obviously a feeling of artisanal pastis. I have to say I've always been a fan of Karukera – and of artisanal pastis. With water: cedar and sandal wood, thujone, wormwood, celeriac and gentian. How rooty is this? Mouth (neat): wham, modern meaty, almost Chambertiny liquoricy arrival. Then more and more liquorice, menthol, and eucalyptus. Almost stuff by Domaine Leroy if you ask me. With water: superb, if a tad concoctiony but isn't that the fate of many a modern-style spirit? Huge liquorice and mint. Finish: very long, very mentholy. Perhaps a little 'too much' at this point. Aniseed and fennel. Comments: almost pastis at cask strength, you would almost believe this was made in Pontarlier, rather than in Guadeloupe. Extreme spirit which I like a lot, but you wouldn't down a bucket of it.
SGP:471 - 85 points.

A last one please, and let's make it something special…

Port Mourant 31 yo 1989/2021 (47.3%, Greenheart Collection, 218 bottles)

Port Mourant 31 yo 1989/2021 (47.3%, Greenheart Collection, 218 bottles) Five stars
From Port Mourant's wooden still when it was still at Uitvlugt. Even utter loudmouths/windmills cannot make rum crazier than this. Bla-bla-bla… Colour: amber. Nose: awe and resins, warm waxes, propolis, liquorice lozenges and natural tar liqueurs. This is deep, subtle, solid and heavy, all at the same time. No, it's sublime. Mouth: heavy oak, heavy pinewood, strong liquorice, cough syrup, mentholy ointments, all-crazy resins, this is the equivalent to JJ Burnell's hardest basslines with the Stranglers. You may check 'Another Camden Afternoon'. De nada. Finish: long, liquoricy, with some extraordinary balance between the lime, the mint, the liquorice and the resins. Thirty-one years, mind you! Comments: as a malt lover, I just adore this. Some unbeatable ueber-malternative-y rum.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

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

 

December 4, 2021


Whiskyfun

Bottomless

Old Unpublished Session
A Bottomless Pit Part 2
(Or Dante's Inferno?)
Well, we'll see, if we ever stumble upon more sublime marcs de Bourgogne, that'll rather be Tintoretto's Paradise… We started it with an Alsatian gin last time, let's kick this off with another gin. Well, with a 'gin liqueur'; in truth I didn't even know that existed…

Elderflower Gin Liqueur (18%, Bramley & Gage, UK, +/-2020)

Elderflower Gin Liqueur (18%, Bramley & Gage, UK, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
Browsing The Whisky Exchange's website while there's nothing on TV may prove dangerous. What's a little reassuring is that 'London' warns you, this is "divine on pancakes", a wording that, I suppose, has got nothing to do with the late performer (RIP Divine). Colour: white wine. Nose: I'm a sucker for elderflowers, we tend to add some elderflower liqueur to champagne or crémant here in France. It would also make marvellous spritzes. Lovely nose. Mouth: a tad wobblier, less straight to the point, with some oddish sour tones (unripe gooseberries) and indeed touches of ginger tonic, but I'm trying this at room temperature while I suppose it's rather meant to be drunk on crushed ice. Finish: medium, sugary, rather on rhubarb this time. Comments: the remainder will be slurped on ice cream. I find this pretty good.

SGP:630 - 78 points

Right, elderberry…

Eau-de-Vie de Sureau (40%, G. Miclo, France, +/-2015)

Eau-de-Vie de Sureau (40%, G. Miclo, France, +/-2015) Two stars and a half
Sureau, that's elderberries and this will be a tribute to Monty Python. In general, they let the berries macerate in neutral alcohol (apple) and then redistill that. This stems from Alsace, where we would just distil anything, even troubles. Having said that, I've never distilled sureau myself. Hope they won't have added any sugar to this, which would feel immediately… Colour: white. Nose: it's a slightly dirty spirit, in the style of some baijius, with something a little rancid and clearly fermentary, plus quite a lot of earth and humus. Notes of stewed cabbage, turnips and celeriac too, but that's not a flaw, it's 'a style'. Mouth: a little hot, grassy, herbal, and pretty much on roots and vegetables indeed. Turnips, parsnips, fermenting hay… Well, this is a wee challenge indeed but you could chill it and drink with choucroute. To be honest, I do not dislike this at all. Finish: rather long, very grassy, pretty sour and earthy. Notes of raw kirschwasser. Comments: some kind of Tobermory of eau-de-vie. Right.

SGP:370 – 78 points.

Yes please? You say more elderberry?...

Sureau Noir (45%, Nusbaumer, France, +/-2015)

Sureau Noir (45%, Nusbaumer, France, +/-2015) Three stars
Black elderberry, didn't know that existed either. This Alsatian kitten was first macerated before distillation, just like the Miclo. It's been matured in steel tanks for a few years prior to bottling, as only barbarians or financial controllers would bottle eau-de-vie right after it was distilled. N.e.v.e.r do that. Colour: white. Nose: similar, naturally, but I'm finding more citrus rather than vegetables in this one, which would make it more akin to some good Dutch genever. Pretty fresh, with once again, wee echoes of baijiu. Mouth: I like this! Once again, we're close to some lovely genever/genièvre/jenever whatever, with a wee soapy touch as always but also some cute notes of grapefruits and sliced pickled ginger. Even a little sake, I say you bring the sushi. Finish: long, earthier. Comments: this one would love ice and make for a very refreshing drink as a highball. Ooh my head…
SGP:271 - 82 points.

Oh wait, we've also found a 'Quince Gin Liqueur' by those fine folks at Bramley & Gage… I cherish and worship quince.

Quince Gin Liqueur (18%, Bramley & Gage, UK, +/-2020)

Quince Gin Liqueur (18%, Bramley & Gage, UK, +/-2020) Two stars
I have indeed distilled quince, twice. And almost made the still implode because I hadn't wetted the mash enough. Quince is very tricky, it sticks to the copper and if you heat it up too much, it may suck your pot in. Well, you see what I mean. Colour: why is it brown like this? Nose: there are two main kinds of quinces and when you make eau-de-vie, you try to gather fifty percent 'apple' and fifty percent 'pear', to balance the taste. In this case, they seem to have used the sweeter one, which is the sort that you'd use to make jellies and fruit pastes. That slightly saturates the nose, which is extremely aromatic and tends to go towards funny spices. Juniper? Caraway? Mouth: a little too much for me but the quinces are loud and clear. I'm sure it would be ten times nicer over crushed ice. Finish: medium, sour and pearish. Fermenting figs. Comments: the elderflower gin was clearer and cleaner, while this is a tad more uncertain. But then again, with ice… we'd drink too much of it.

SGP:540 - 75 points.

I'm sure you see me coming…

Eau-de-Vie de Coing (40%, G. Miclo, France, +/-2015)

Eau-de-Vie de Coing (40%, G. Miclo, France, +/-2015) Two stars and a half
Coing is quince. This is Alsatian too. Colour: white. Nose: a little hot and a tad unprecise at first but unfolds well. More notes of fermenting figs, dates, even bananas, even elderflowers (not kidding), plus rather a lot of honeysuckle. Isn't it funny that once again, I would find a little moutai? Nevertheless, it's is not quite a 'loud and clear' quince eau-de-vie but I rather like it. Mouth: pretty good on the palate, rather soft, with rather more quince, just a touch of candy sugar that may have been added at some point. I mean, after distillation. Finish: medium, pretty much on the fruit. The aftertaste is a little rough and too grassy, though. Comments: not the clearest quince I've ever tasted, but it's not bad at all. Again, quince is difficult.

SGP:440 - 78 points.

Eau-de-Vie de Coing (43%, René de Miscault, France, +/-2015)

Eau-de-Vie de Coing (43%, René de Miscault, France, +/-2015)
As it says on the label, this one too was obtained through maceration, just like the Miclo (I suppose). But real quince ought to be integrally fermented IMHO. BTW, this one is probably not really Alsatian. Colour: white. Nose: nope. Dried coconut and eggplants in my quince? Perhaps not… Having said that, this is a little surprising as I've had some pretty eaux-de-vie by René de Miscault in the past. Mouth: sweet, while you would not recognise quince. Some kind of litchi liqueur, perhaps, plum wine… Odd raisins… Nope. Finish: medium, dirty, nope. Burnt aftertaste - now then again; quince often burns. Comments: non, nan, nein, no!
SGP:260 - 20 points.
(Please remember that with fruits, seasons and harvest vary a lot!)

Time to fly to another region (I tend to prefer trains but French trains are always on strike)…

Eau de Vie de Gentiane (45%, Distillerie des Aravis, France, +/-2016)

Eau de Vie de Gentiane (45%, Distillerie des Aravis, France, +/-2016) Five stars
Gentian is one of my favourite plant/root/liqueur/cordial/eau-de-vie. What's more, I got this wee one from Emmanuel Renaut, who runs the *** restaurant Le Flocon de Sel in Megève. Fabulous cuisine, fabulous place, great people, deep passion for herbs and… roots. Oh and chartreuse, they've got an incredible collection. So, next time you're in the French Alpes… Colour: white. Nose: Jesus Mary and Joseph! This is pure, crystalline, uncluttered and perfectly distilled gentian. In fact, you're nosing the root. If I remember well, I had written a short article about this one for Whisky Mag France a while back. Oh and yes, they distil the roots, not the flowers! Mouth: ite missa est, top two gentian together with Marcel Michel's in the Doubs. Totally pure while that's exactly what distillers are looking for, the purest expression of the raw materials. You're right, exactly the opposite of malt whisky. Finish: rather long, a wee tad hot perhaps, I would say Marcel Michel has got the edge but it all depends on the batches, naturally. Comments: Distillerie des Aravis are located in La Clusaz, great place for skiing (just saying)…

SGP:371 - 90 points.

Looks like we've made good progress. Let's go on…

Calvados Pays d'Auge 3 yo 2013-2014/2018 (55.5%, 30&40, Ferme des Parquets, France 225 bottles)

Calvados Pays d'Auge 3 yo 2013-2014/2018 (55.5%, 30&40, Ferme des Parquets, France 225 bottles) Three stars
A single cask of young Pays d'Auge, 2013 being when they harvested the fruits, and 2014 when they distilled the whole shebang.. Calvados is one of the spirits I should really work on, I really feel shame and am afraid I know more about pisco. Which, as a Frenchman, takes the biscuit. Colour: white wine. Nose: boy is this hot and raw! Now it reeks of great artisanal cider, having said that. I suppose water is mandatory… With water: really raw, extremely rustic, grassy… but it does grow on you, provided you like apples and cider. Mouth (neat): pfew, this is really hot, rough, tough and grassy. Makes Ardbeg taste like Diplomatico by comparison. With water: no, there, we tamed it, we're rally more on apples, grasses, and really a lot of cider. Finish: long and ultra-grassy. Comments: some friends are dying for these tough Calvas. I'm not quite there yet, but I'd be happy to learn and train my palate (until the new Brora comes out, ha-ha).

SGP:271 - 80 points.

Good, time for some weirdos, after all this is supposed to be fun… No wait, we were having another interesting Pays d'Auge in the boxes…

Calvados du Pays d'Auge 1898 (40%, Adrien Camut, Domaine de Semainville, +/-1970?)

Calvados du Pays d'Auge 1898 (40%, Adrien Camut, Domaine de Semainville, +/-1970?) Five stars
Yep, 116 years earlier, a whole different world, but careful with these old bottles, they're very inspirational, but even with the rarest and most glorious old spirits, the truth lies in your tulip. I mean in your tulip glass. Having said that, the house Camut has got the highest reputation, even today. Colour: mahogany. Nose: no, this is flabbergastingly brilliant, fresh, complex, polished, in the same category as that of, say Bally 1929, Macallan 1938, or the oldest A.E. D'Or. Amazing ripe plums, collector figs (what?), cigars, chocolate, it's just that it would tend to lose a bit of steam and become a tad too chocolaty. By the way, no apples and no pears that I could find, it's all been digested and this is more proof that very old spirits do converge, whichever the raw materials. Grains, grapes, apples, sugarcane… Mouth: rum, I would have said. It's kept a lot of tension at 40% vol., and that may have been the apples. Toffee, bouillons, a touch of smoke, tar, liquorice, mushrooms, black tea, marmalade, menthol, touch of camphor, coffee, tobacco… Between us, this could have been old Macallan (but they would have replicated it then, he-he). Finish: this is where the apples would come out, as well as a few pears, probably. That's incredible, where have they been hiding for so long? All that would lead us to what's one of old Mac's staple flavours: slightly burnt tarte tatin! Comments: amazing. I know I should have rather gathered a few old Calvas and done a proper, coherent session, but days have only 7 hours, have they not? Extraordinary old Pays d'Auge by Camut. Imagine, 1898, even Keith Richards wasn't born.

SGP:462 - 92 points.

A last one for fun. Remember, these sessions are meant to be fun…

Waqar

Waqar (40%, OB, Pisco, Chile, +/-2012) Two stars and a half
Good, Chilean Pisco, why not. This stems from the Tulahuén Valley and was entirely distilled from Muscat wine. But muscat may get heady and cloying, let's be careful… Colour: white. Nose: we're nosing big white muscat grapes, the ones that look like rugby balls. But it remained rather fresh, pretty pure, and well-delimited. This is indeed muscat, with just a smidgen of lemon zest. Mouth: we distil muscat too, but rather use the crushed grapes (marc) than wine. I actually distilled 'fine de muscat grains nobles' one day and came up with… cheapo perfume. Never again, it wasn't worth the hassle. Anyway, this is good, fresh, very muscaty indeed, and perhaps a little too much on rose essence and preserved litchi? More gewurztraminer than muscat? Finish: medium, fresh, sweet. A tad too sweet. Comments: no, this goes down well, it's just a tad too much, too sweet, which makes it a notch vulgar… But then again, ice would help, I'm sure.
SGP:730 - 78 points.

One day, we might only do these kinds of freewheeling sessions, with just any kinds of spirits, from early XIXth century cognac to white pisco throughout Bunnahabhain NAS, Clynelish three-years-and-one day old and Foursquare ex-Gewurz. And why not? Yeah give me a good reason why not.

 

December 3, 2021


Whiskyfun

A rather long verticale of young to middle aged Ben-rinnes

Benrinnes
Benrinnes Distillery (Andrew Wood)

I think we'll kick this off with one of those fresh super-good and dangerously easy new 'Orcines' from Lyons, France. It's to be remembered that Benrinnes used to do some kind of partial triple-distillation using some intermediate stills between the wash and spirit ones, until 2007 when they switched to double-distillation. In theory, pre-2007 Benrinnes used to be meatier and more sulphury, somewhat ala Mortlach.

Benrinnes 11 yo 2009/2020 (46%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines)

Benrinnes 11 yo 2009/2020 (46%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines) Four stars
Picture is that of another bottling in the Orcines range. So, this is 'new regime' Benrinnes. Colour: white wine. Nose: there, this humble taster is now finding this one rather a little meaty and sulphury. Go figure. Rather a lot of paraffin, soot, muddy touches, plaster, hay, carbon dust, brake pads, sourdough, and not one single ounce of fruit. Very austere and gristy. Mouth: starts a little sour, on, well, sour cherries and cider apples, before it would get very grassy, with only touches of bitter oranges. Other than that, we're almost drinking liquid grist and wheat bran. Finish: medium, with a little more citrus and vanilla towards the aftertaste. Comments: I find this very rustic, and probably pretty true to the distillery's style. The latest Strathmill Orcines was ten times easier.
SGP:261 - 85 points.

Benrinnes 11 yo 2008/2020 (59.9%, James Eadie, 1st fill oloroso finish, cask #4/1, 563 bottles)

Benrinnes 11 yo 2008/2020 (59.9%, James Eadie, 1st fill oloroso finish, cask #4/1, 563 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold, so much less dark than expected. Nose: there is a slightly sulphury meatiness (so much for new double-distillation) but all the rest is a classic perfect almondy and fruity nose, with quince jelly and custard. But it burns a little bit… With water: gooseberries and fresh broken branches, pancakes, shortbread and butterscotch..; that's well the style of the house. Mouth (neat): feels good, thick and oily, with marzipan and bitter almonds, but once again it would get a little hot and burning. After all, this is almost 60% vol. (finely observed, S.) With water: same development as on the nose, with gooseberries, granny smith, lemons… And croissants. Finish: rather long and limoncello-y.  Comments: I may have said before, that in my book, this sensibly priced series almost never disappoints (I'm not even sure why I added 'almost').
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Benrinnes 12 yo 2008/2021 (54.8%, Fable Whisky, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Chapter One, hogshead, cask #305966, 255 bottles)

Benrinnes 12 yo 2008/2021 (54.8%, Fable Whisky, The Ghost Piper of Clanyard Bay, Chapter One, hogshead, cask #305966, 255 bottles) Four stars and a half
Always these stunning labels. Ten more points just because of the labels! (why do I feel the need to add that I'm joking…). Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh croissants and marmalade, plus fudge and pancakes, that's what I would call a perfect breakfast malt. Oh and porridge with slices of banana… and a nip of this whisky (hold on, circular assessments, that surely can't work). With water: as anticipated, more bread, doughs, grist and softer citrus. Mouth (neat): it is just perfect, full of bread, malt, lemon, nougat and vanilla, with just a little Timut pepper and a wee hotness in the background (rough eau-de-vie). With water: superb tight citrus, we went from wrestling to gymnastics. Finish: long, lemony. Lime, yuzu… Only the aftertaste is a wee tad hotter/muddier. Touches of raw kirschwasser. Comments: only the marginally rougher aftertaste prevented me from going up to 89. Excellent drop.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

All right, 2009, 2008, then…

Benrinnes 11 yo 2007/2019 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 216 bottles)

Benrinnes 11 yo 2007/2019 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 216 bottles) Four stars
Cadenhead are/were having many such young Benrinnes. BWT, was this double-distilled or triple-distilled? That's some data they should have added! (all right S., enough with those geekeries please) Colour: straw. Nose: natural malt whisky without much cask works if any, so rather the opposite of the James Eadies. Both style work in my book. Mashed potatoes and celeriac, fresh butter, chalk, then dandelions and grass. Some gentian (mild hurray). With water: custard. Mouth (neat): very good, bright and tight, ueber-citrusy and grassy. Zests and honey. With water: real sweet. Heather honey and limoncello, lemon drops… Finish: same. Long. Comments: excellent, really. Very fair prices too.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Perhaps one from Y2K?

Benrinnes 18 yo 2000/2019 (55.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon barrel, 618 bottles)

Benrinnes 18 yo 2000/2019 (55.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon barrel, 618 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: I'm reminded of the Orcines, as this is much more austere, chalky, grassy and almost un-fruity this far. A drop of antiseptic that doesn't quite belong here. I would believe water is needed. With water: some chalk and some lemons waking up. A very good sign. Mouth (neat): total lemon bomb, which would include variants such as kumbawa. Nah, nothing to do with kumbaya. With water: and there, lemon tarte with caramelised meringue, lemon curd and bamboo shoots. Finish: long tart and excellent. Comments: great high-intensity fattish lemony drop. I know these bottling tend to go unnoticed, but that is not fair.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Benrinnes 20 yo 1997/2018 (58%, Cadenhead for HNWS Taiwan, Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 192 bottles)

Benrinnes 20 yo 1997/2018 (58%, Cadenhead for HNWS Taiwan, Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 192 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: good balance between shortbread, lemon curd, nougat, branches, celeriac and bergamots. Those bergamots are particularly lovely. With water: dough, flour and just mash coming out. 'Touring a distillery'. Mouth (neat): high-power citrus and minty herbs. Green chartreuse and, well, more green chartreuse. Perfect earthiness. With water: pretty exceptional. Cadenhead were having many such 1997s and as far as I can remember, they've all been great. Perfect malt for refill wood. Finish: long, fat, perfect. Comments: this was scandalously short, I agree. However, the whisky's incomparably long and more precise than a Rolex. Which, in truth, isn't… oh forget.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Benrinnes 23 yo 1997/2021 (53%, WhiskySponge, 1st fill sherry hogshead, 233 bottles)

Benrinnes 23 yo 1997/2021 (53%, WhiskySponge, 1st fill sherry hogshead, 233 bottles) Four stars and a half
'It tastes like it looks' say the Sponge's official pages at Decadent Drinks'. Well, does it really taste like something by Keith Haring? Colour: office coffee. Nose: a drop of office coffee indeed (ha), otherwise a lot of metal polish, umami, Corinth currants, burnt kougelhopf (our preferred kougelhopfs), dried longans, pipe tobacco, beef jerky and English brown sauce. And yet, it is not exactly 'heavy'. With water: looks like someone's just opened a family pack of fruit-flavoured beef jerky in the room. And a good bottle of very chocolaty oloroso. Mouth (neat): rather a little fat and, indeed, sooty and sulphury (as in a sulphury distillate, not from a sulphurous sherry cask), with abundant tobacco and leather, as well as marmalade and goulash. Jaffa cakes keep it a little easier. With water: rather a classic young sherried malt distilled in the 1950s and bottled around 1970, just without any OBE, naturally. Finish: rather long and rather back on tobacco and leather, with some fig chutney in the aftertaste. Comments: an excellent heavy wrestler, 80% whisky and 20% sherry. Quite. Cellar for twenty years and it'll reach 90.
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Benrinnes 1995/2017 (54.9%, Cairn Mor, Celebration of the Cask, hogshead, cask #7799, 255 bottles)

Benrinnes 1995/2017 (54.9%, Cairn Mor, Celebration of the Cask, hogshead, cask #7799, 255 bottles) Four stars
Probably the most annoying label ever, together with Adelphi's microscopic ones. Well, at least Cairn Mor replaced them later on… (I'll have to borrow Ralfy's magnifier one day). Colour: white wine. Nose: tough and chalky, bready, doughy, natural, unsexy. Melon skin is very obvious here. With water: nicely fermentary. Provence melon with white Port and drops of chartreuse. Help yourself… Mouth (neat): rather amazing that I would find this much melon again. Even Bruichladdich has less melon. Even melon liqueur has less… With water: excellent swimmer. Herbal liqueurs, liquorice and fruit skins. Including melon, naturally. Finish: rather long, with green bananas chiming in. Comments: I would say these Benrinnes remain below the radars because the 'brand name' (urgh) is virtually non-existent. But they all make for perfect examples of a good distillate-driven whiskies. Even the Sponge's sherried one remained kind of distillate-driven.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Perhaps another 1995, quickly…

Benrinnes 23 yo 1995/2019 (51.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 708 bottles)

Benrinnes 23 yo 1995/2019 (51.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 708 bottles) Four stars and a half
What Mark Watt did at Cadenhead's was equivalent to what Karl Lagerfeld did at Chanel's. Just saying. Colour: gold. Nose: not a bomb, but these vattings rarely are. You need to take your time with them… Some green bananas, some lemon, some menthol, lotus leaves, pink grapefruits, ginger tonic… With water: some bready tones, banana cake… Mouth (neat): just very good, with soft fruits and citrus. Some coconut water (a feeling of pina colada – that's the oak) and tangerine liqueur. Even a wee rutscherla of Gewurztraminer. If you do not know what a rutscherla is, that just means that you're not Alsatian, which is perfectly fine mind you. As they say, everybody's perfect. With water: more tight and tart citrus. Finish: very citrusy, with a fat, oily base. Always welcome. Comments: discretely superlative. No, we won't elaborate.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Do we say ten's a good number? Didn't I tell our doctors (who are all whisky enthusiasts) that I'd never have more than ten whiskies in a row anymore, cross my heart?

Benrinnes 18 yo 1988/2006 (55.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 246 bottles)

Benrinnes 18 yo 1988/2006 (55.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 246 bottles) Two stars and a half
From a bottle I bought on location at CAD Covent Garden as it came out. Which shouldn't matter much, let's crack it open… Colour: straw. Nose: menthol and terpenes, and a few varnishy touches that shouldn't quite be here. Then lemons. With water: same, no changes. It's not impossible that this make would pre-date Benrinnes' heyday, which may have started around 1995. Is someone a Benrinnes expert? Please report (for glory)… Mouth (neat): citrus, mint, syrups. With water: same. No meats and no sulphur, not even candles, rather just lemon and pine needles, plus sugarcane syrup. Finish: medium, on similar notes. Some antiseptic in the aftertaste. Comments: bwah bwah bwah, to think that I had to endure EasyJet service to bring this back. Well, in truth, they've always been much friendlier and helpful than British Airways, Swiss, KLM or Air France. Which, I agree, ain't too hard to do.
SGP:451 - 79 points.

All right amigo, we found the ones that had to be meaty very fruity, and the ones that were supposed to be fruitier pretty meaty. I think we'll drop this game and retire to a remote monastery with no booze and no Internet. Adios.

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

 

December 1, 2021


Whiskyfun

A wee pair of Aberfeldy

You know, Dewar's Aberfeldy Distillery, that's near the Black Watch Memorial and close to Castle Menzies, Edradynate and Bolfracks. Got to love the names they have over there…

Aberfeldy 16 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Aberfeldy 16 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021) Two stars
Aberfeldy 16 had been a little lightish last time we tried it but that was in 2015. A shame that they keep those stingy 40% vol. though, that's not very premium is it… Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, a fairly lighter malt-driven whisky, with some hay and some beers, scones, shortbread, tea and butterscotch. Good five o'clock whisky, it seems… Mouth: more watts, more oomph would be needed indeed. This is flattish, drying, rather deceptive, tea-ish, and frankly, it seems that I was in a good mood back in 2015 (WF 82). That or they changed the recipe. Finish: shortish, drying. A little cardboard, gunpowder tea, perhaps a touch of butter too. A wee feintness in the aftertaste. Comments: a little fleshless, I would say. Skinny. The backbone's okay though.
SGP:341 - 76 points.

Aberfeldy 15 yo 2005/2021 (55.3%, Quaich Bar Singapore, hogshead, 165 bottles)

Aberfeldy 15 yo 2005/2021 (55.3%, Quaich Bar Singapore, hogshead, 165 bottles) Four stars
From a series selected by no one else than Frank McHardy! Which would make this wee 'feldy  the equivalent to a new guitar selected by Jimmy Page, right. Colour: light gold. Nose: same as the official 16, only with much more power of course, but not only that, also more barley, malt, grist, oils, breads, doughs and cakes. Pure barleyness, enough said. With water: much more grass, gooseberries, a lot of porridge, sour beers, white beers… Mouth (neat): total barleyganza, hot, punchy, with some tarte tatin, beers, bitter herbs and, well, more bitter herbs. Not easy-easy but this one's got some statement to make. Like, 'barley and basta'. With water: much sweeter, easier, fruitier, on apples and pears, plus gooseberries and various plums. Finish: long and a little grassier again. Comments: rather a wrestler, malt whisky al natural, undisguised, for your favourite hipflask. Kills the OB.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

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

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

November 2021

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Bushmills 32 yo 1989/2021 'Port Cask' (50.1%, OB, for LMDW, Ireland, 205 bottles) - WF92

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Glen Elgin-Glenlivet 15 yo 1965/1980 (46%, Cadenhead, black dumpy) - WF89

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Hazelburn 13 yo 2007/2021 (48.6%, OB, Limited Edition, 6,000 bottles)  - WF89

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Petite Champagne 1973 (50.6%, Jean Grosperrin, L803, +/-2021) - WF91

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Mirascielo (38%, OB, +/-2020)   - WF15
 

November 30, 2021


Whiskyfun

Nine grains on the table

Single grain Scotch whisky – I'm not sure vatted/blended grain actually ever existed as a commercial bottling – used to be very rare. Sometimes you would have had a go at Cameron Brig just for fun while at the pub, and then Signatory started to bottle some very old ones from time to time while William Grant launched a weakish (IMHO) 'Black Barrel' – no we won't mention Haig Club; oops, too late - but generally speaking, grain was said to be a 'silent', or 'empty' whisky, only meant to be fodder for blends. In my opinion, and if you put some old ex-sherry Invergordons aside, it's only very recently that some true wizards of 'wood technology' managed to make grain whisky really palatable and sometimes even rather malt-like, rather magically, in short not as thin as it used to be anymore. Quite an achievement! Let's see what we have…

Girvan 13 yo 2006/2019 (61.2%, Fadandel.dk, barrel, cask #532404, 203 bottles)

Girvan 13 yo 2006/2019 (61.2%, Fadandel.dk, barrel, cask #532404, 203 bottles)
A slightly scary set-up… Colour: white wine. Nose: varnish, plus varnish and varnish, as well as a little varnish and a drop of UHU glue, spirit gum, then coconut water, M&S marshmallows and strawberry yoghurt. With water: pure Malibu and a pack of vanilla sugar from Mum's kitchen, then maybe some vanilla-flavoured coffee straight from Starbucks. Vanilla macchiato, vanilla latte or other pernicious drinks. Mouth (neat): bubblegum vodka. There used to be a wee spirits shop in London called 'The Intoxication Station' where they would have had quite a bunch of crazy vodkas bottled at strengths such as 70% vol., 80% vol. or even everyone's favourite, 88% vol. See what I mean? With water: add sawdust. Finish: medium, ethanoly. Comments: good fun and I love what they bottle at Fadandel's, but this time I think I'll pass and I'm a little too old to go out demonstrate with (what remains of) the poor gilets jaunes, so I haven't even got any use of this as a Molotov cocktail…
SGP:620 - 50 points.

Cambus 26 yo 1991/2018 (49.4%, The Whisky Agency for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, sherry butt, cask #103022, 55 bottles)

Cambus 26 yo 1991/2018 (49.4%, The Whisky Agency for Whisky Picnic Bar Taiwan, sherry butt, cask #103022, 55 bottles) Three stars
Our friends in Taiwan just had an utterly stunning young Talisker, but this could be different… Colour: white wine. Nose: rather a lot of sour wood in this one, but that's rather an improvement in my book. Something rather acetic too, pickled onions, then tropical fruits, especially in chutneys. I cannot not think of our beloved mango chutney. In any case, a very different grain whisky, most intriguing. Mouth: gentler, even if there's some peppery and, indeed, rather sour oak in the background. Touches of cellulosic varnish, bubblegum, perhaps bison vodka this time, then custard and perhaps some cranberry sauce, the kind you would have with venison. Finish: rather long, with touches of fruity and flowery Swiss cheese. Dry white wine. Comments: a lot of fun to be had with these deviant and slightly freaky bottlings, even if they are, indeed, pretty deviant.
SGP:630 - 82 points.

Strathclyde 29 yo 1989/2019 (55.7%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, bourbon barrel, 180 bottles)

Strathclyde 29 yo 1989/2019 (55.7%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, bourbon barrel, 180 bottles) Four stars
Cadenhead do keep an open mind and would sometimes bottle some grains as some of their 'world whiskies'. That's not being very Scotch-centric, is it? Colour: white wine. Nose: varnish and wood alcohol at first, but civilisation is soon to take over and to let some finer whiffs of vanilla and perhaps orange squash come through. Fanta (is Fanta civilised indeed?) With water: nougat and popcorn, Kellogg's stuff, which would include dried goji berries and raisins this time. Mouth (neat): this is good, with lovely orange-liqueur-filled chocolates and some creamy, well, sugar-cream-like flavours. Banana foam too. With water: no changes. Perhaps a little more oranges yet, and white chocolate, Jaffa cakes, Twist Pops… Finish: a little short but clean and fruity. Triple-sec aged in oak. Comments: not the first 1989 Strathclyde by WM Cadenhead that I enjoyed rather a lot.
SGP:630 - 85 points.

We're on an ascending trend, are we not?...

Girvan 30 yo 1991/2021 (49.6%, Chapter 7, 'Monologue', bourbon barrel, 547 bottles)

Girvan 30 yo 1991/2021 (49.6%, Chapter 7, 'Monologue', bourbon barrel, 547 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: oh there, nougat, cassata, caramelised popcorn, white chocolate, energy bars, Golden Grahams, Honey Pops, vanilla… This needs no literature (but it needed many years of aging). Mouth: very good grain, sweet, candied, with liquorice allsorts and more nougat, maple syrup, vanilla fudge, triple-sec… All is well and all is good, even if it is not utterly complex whisky. After all, this is only grain. Finish: medium, fresh, once again more on oranges. A burst of coconutty flavours in the aftertaste. Comments: sweet as a pie while indeed, we're a little closer to a bourbon this time.
SGP:630 - 85 points.

Invergordon 31 yo 1990/2021 (53.9%, Liquid Treasures, barrel, 152 bottles)

Invergordon 31 yo 1990/2021 (53.9%, Liquid Treasures, barrel, 152 bottles) Four stars
Lovely Euro-pop-art label here. Colour: straw. Nose: a lot of sour oak once more, very much in the style of the Cambus 1991 TWA for Taiwan. Swiss cheese upfront, tiny touches of ammonia (no probs), then rather more great Chardonnay (Meursault with quite some fresh oak) and the obligatory vanilla + coconut combo. A little honey too, fig jam, chutneys indeed… With water: not much, it would actually get simpler. Mouth (neat): oh nice, some gin! Juniper, pink pepper, caraway liqueur or aquavit, certainly some chartreuse… I doubt the distillate has anything to do with this, we may have to talk to the barrel… With water: always like it when grains get malty. Not the first time this happens with an Invergordon. Ginger cookies. Finish: medium, spicier, almost Christmassy. Stollen and Läckerli, hoppla. Comments: hoppla.
SGP:631 - 86 points.

This is a true vertical session… Oh by the way, I've heard some new grain distillery is currently been built in Scotland?

North British 32 yo 1989/2021 (46.7%, Cask 88, refill bourbon, cask #213649, 215 bottles)

North British 32 yo 1989/2021 (46.7%, Cask 88, refill bourbon, cask #213649, 215 bottles) Four stars and a half
North British is supposed to be maize, is it not? Colour: light gold. Nose: the lightest of them all, also the grassiest and most herbal, with tiny touches of dill, Wulong, whiffs of proper mashed potatoes (with a lot of butter), then rather herbal teas, chamomile for sure, mullein flowers… It's all very delicate and, well, the cask sure behaved. Kudos to the cask, no lousy vanilla or coconut in the way this time! Mouth: there could be something from the cask's previous content, maybe a light peater? Indeed I'm finding a wee minerality, some smoky touches, well stuff that should not appear in grains. Then orange blossom honey, earl grey, and some coastal kind of citrus, somewhat ala Pulteney. No, really. Finish: medium, clean, more herbal than the others. Mandarine Impériale, verbena syrup, citron liqueur… Comments: a little mindboggling at times, perhaps the maize? But a superb grain for sure…
SGP:650 - 88 points.

The verticality holds, as it seems…

Cameronbridge 46 yo 1974/2021 (40.1%, Boogieman Import, hogshead, 54 bottle)

Cameronbridge 46 yo 1974/2021 (40.1%, Boogieman Import, hogshead, 54 bottle) Five stars
Another Dutch craziness (I had first written Belgian, sorry). Colour: straw. Nose: we're almost in maltdom now, you could believe this is an early 1970s Glen Grant, or Caperdonich, or Glenlivet… Or, hold on, Bowmore! Sounds odd, I know, but these tropical fruits cannot not make you think of late-1960s or early-1970s Bowmore. Mangos and passion fruits coated with heather honey and a little mint cream. This tiny camphory side is stunning too. Belgium, we need to talk… Mouth: well I was sure this would be a disaster because of the low strength. How wrong was I, this is indeed Bowmore early 1970s-like. Pink grapefruits, passion fruits, tangerines, eucalyptus honey, beeswax, nectarines… Amazing. Finish: not even short! Same combo at play. Only the aftertaste is a wee tad lighter, even weaker, even grainier. After all, this wasn't early 1970s Bowmore. Comments: just splendid, maybe even greater than proper Belgian artisanal shrimp croquettes (no worries, some private joke).
SGP:641 - 91 points.

We're still vertical, are we not!?

North of Scotland 49 yo 1971/2021 (40.4%, Boogieman Import, hogshead, 56 bottle)

North of Scotland 49 yo 1971/2021 (40.4%, Boogieman Import, hogshead, 56 bottle) Four stars
North of Scotland, sometimes a.k.a. Alloa, in Clackmannanshire, has really been a short-lived grain distillery (1957 or 1958-1980). Bad timing, I suppose… Colour: light gold. Nose: even more of a feeling of early 1970s Glen Grant or Glenlivet, with cakes, honeys, beeswax, overripe apples, juicy sultanas and then orange and honeysuckle blossoms. Very lovely but no Bowmore this time, I'm afraid. Mouth: this one breaks our vertical path. Don't get me wrong, it is wonderful old grain, with rather more earthiness, and surely deepness than your average old grain, but it couldn't compete with the stunning Cameronbridge 1974 by the same very honourable Belgian bottler. Figs playing first fiddles. Finish: medium, a tad more indefinite – well the 1974 was just a killer. Honeyed aftertaste, with a little tea. Comments: another superb old grain that stood the test of time.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Good, at this point I doubt we would manage to break the Cameronbridge 1974, but well, let's give it a try, anyway…

Carsebridge 48 yo (56.3%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail Silhouettes, 2021)

Carsebridge 48 yo (56.3%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail Silhouettes, 2021) Five stars
This one's very brand new. So more very early 1970s grain whisky, which we may now try while listening to T-Rex. The older I get, the better T-Rex were (we used to believe Bolan was just an under-Bowie, but nostalgia strikes at random and remorselessly…) Colour: amber. Nose: sherry, obviously, and to be honest I would have said Invergordon. Roasted chestnuts, orange cordial, chicory coffee, Iberico ham (lot of bellotas), whiffs of gunpowder, soot, cigars, rotting figs and bananas… With water: Maggi popping out! And Chestnut liqueur from Ardèche, as well as that Spanish ham that we love so much. Mouth (neat): I'm not a grain guy but I need to take my hat off, even if we're not quite up there with that Cameronbridge '74. Lovely chestnut honey, Cointreau, Szechuan pepper in abundance, pink grapefruit liqueur, touch of rum (old Cuban)…  With water: excellent, firmer, malty, quite peppery. Big boy at this stage. Finish: long, bouillony, glutamate-y, with more savoury flavours than expected. Sooty, slightly salty aftertaste. Comments: sherry I suppose. Great dry antique grain whisky, which I would wholeheartedly recommend, especially as I've heard the label comes with free Ray-Bans (I'm joking).
SGP:461 - 90 points.

That was enough, CU, stay tuned.

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

 

November 29, 2021


Whiskyfun

Another nice journey around the whisky world
There's more, as everyone's making whisky these days, and before we can try Diageo and Pernod's Chinese malt whiskies to come – I suppose we'll have to wait for ten more years at least – let's have wee babies from smaller countries, starting from France, as we like to do.

Alpenglow 2015/2021 (40%, LMDW, Version Française, France, cask #20, 396 bottles)
fr

Alpenglow 2015/2021 (40%, LMDW, Version Française, France, cask #20, 396 bottles) Three stars
From a single cask, this baby from a Distillery I had just never heard of before, although, after some quick research, it seems that this has been sourced from Lorraine (Rozelieures, probably) and bottled at Distillerie du Dauphiné, which is famous for their lovely Mandrin (see WF, November 3) . So pretty much some non-producing distillery stuff, as they sometimes do in the USA or in Ireland. It's also been finished in Pineau des Charentes, which is a blend of grape juice (must) with cognac. Colour: salmony gold. Nose: a little hot, with a feeling of ex-PX whisky, many raisins, a slightly grappa-y side, some blood oranges, kirschwasser, then a sooty smoke and some sauna oils. Unusual. With water: dough, raisin bread, strawberry jam, cherry jam (the black Basque ones from Itxassou). Mouth (neat): typical 'sherried' peater, with dissonances and many sour cherries but in the end of the day, it kind of works. Some green peppercorns, Szechuan pepper, bell pepper, then chestnut honey and muscovado… With water: a feeling of spritz, even Campari, retsina, pine resin... Finish: rather long, on the same rather piney flavours and with rather less pepper. Gingery aftertaste. Comments: I find it pretty good and what's sure is that it worked, despite a little unlikeliness here and there.
SGP:661 - 81 points.

How about taking a train to Slovenia?...

Broken Bones Whisky 3 yo (46%, OB, 100 bottles, 2021)
Slo

Broken Bones Whisky 3 yo (46%, OB, Slovenia, 100 bottles, 2021) Three stars
Some Slovenian oak has been used, which is only natural as they do have grand-cru quality European oak in Slovenia. The name of the distillery, which is located in Ljubljana, comes from the fact that one of the partners broke a leg while they were making their first batches. Cool wee idea, pretty Dada. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is a fine, light spirit that captured some of the oak's most piney flavours. A feeling of gingerbread, wee herbs (woodruff), caraway, perhaps a little dried turmeric powder, all that on a bed of apples. No quibbling to be done this far. Mouth: good indeed, light, flawless, with once again a rather piney/spicy oak and some herbs. Melissa (more or less – well only old fans of the band Curved Air will understand), lemon zests, some all-purpose herbal tea (for sleep, bones indeed, sight, stamina, heart and, well, your romantic life as they say in adverts), a moderate vanillaness and probably some notes of melon. Finish: medium, more honeyed. Allspice. Comments: don't rush this one, it's full of charms if you take a little time, while you would believe it's a little too simple if you try it hussar-style.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Perhaps to the new whisky subcontinent, Scandinavia?

High Coast 'Altitud' (46%, OB, Sweden, for SAS, 98,580 miniatures, 2021)
sw

High Coast 'Altitud' (46%, OB, Sweden, for SAS, 98,580 miniatures, 2021) Four stars
A batch solely for SAS a.k.a. Scandinavian Airlines System. Did they take into account the fact that whisky tastes very differently when you fly? Or is this actually for SAS's first-class lounge? Let's try it if you please… By the way, this has been largely matured in, not Slovenian, rather Hungarian oak. It is a miniature, I don't think full bottles exist (or only for SAS pilots, ha). Colour: gold. Nose: not a very bold distillate but a sooty/bready side indeed, with notes of focaccia, semolina and polenta, then gueuze and pear cider, mead and a little beeswax, beeswax being right up my alley, as always. Mouth: there's a kind of sooty rusticity at first, then apple juice, more gueuze, a little piney oak indeed, plus touches of root vegetables, perhaps raw celeriac. Love that. Finish: medium, a tad earthier – which takes the biscuit since this is supposed to be an airline whisky (S., please…) Lovely herbs, verbena, some gentian… Comments: rather a fan I have to say. May we have these on Air France too?
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Perhaps to England?

Bimber 12 yo 'Apogée XII' (46.3%, OB, England, 2021)
eng

Bimber 12 yo 'Apogée XII' (46.3%, OB, England, 2021) Four stars and a half
A Bimber cannot be 12 already, but indeed this seems to be 'crafted from select malt whiskies and enhanced through additional maturation in ex-Bimber oak casks'. Reminds me a bit of the Cardhu/Cardow case from a few years back but then again, they don't have the SWA in England, do they. Colour: gold. Nose: this is mead, or rather honey eau-de-vie, so distilled mead indeed, mixed with some croissant dough, panettone, pine nuts biscuits and pistachio nougat. It's got this fermentary side that I just always enjoy, well indeed it is extremely meady. Mouth: same plus orange cordial, orange bitters (don't say Aperol please) and various honeys. And once again a fermentary side that's not far from that of some thick Belgian beers that they age in oak. Some ginger too, some cigarette tobacco, bitter oranges, chestnut honey, walnut wine… Finish: rather long and really on a blend of mead and trappiste beer. Maybe drink this with an English reinterpretation of carbonade flamande. Comments: excellent even if rather for lovers of honey and mead. Count me in.
SGP:552 - 88 points.

While we're in England…

Oxford 2017/2021 'Heritage Corn Whisky' (50.4%, OB, Grain Stories)
eng

Oxford 2017/2021 'Heritage Corn Whisky' (50.4%, OB, Grain Stories) Four stars
As a Frenchman I find it a little surprising that whilst they're in Oxford, they would have used the wording 'corn' over 'maize'. Or is it just another consequence of Brexit and of some new alliances? (tsk tsk)… Colour: deep gold. Nose: well, this is oak-aged gin, no? We're extremely far from any other forms of corn/maize spirit, which would tend to be much lighter, gentler, and frankly more silent than this spicy, very aromatic concoction that, to be honest, I would rather like. So gin, a little lavender, a little ginger, in good custard and fudge. With water: same, plus some angelica and horseradish. Mouth (neat): very good, if still a little on oaked gin. Violet liqueur (parfait amour) aged in oak, with a few staves made out of pinewood and a good amount of ginger and turmeric thrown in. Plus lemons and ginseng. No lousy sweet popcorny maize in sight. With water: same, just a tad sweeter indeed. Great work with the wood. Finish: rather long, a tad perfumy, in a good way. A wee touch of N°4711. Comments: I could quaff this while reading The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics. I'm joking, corn it is!
SGP:571 - 85 points.

Off to Ontario for our final stopping point…

J.P. Wiser's 22 yo 1998/2021 'Smaller Hero' (64.5%, OB, for LMDW, Ex Libris, Canada, blended, refill casks, 1428 bottles)
cn

J.P. Wiser's 22 yo 1998/2021 'Smaller Hero' (64.5%, OB, for LMDW, Ex Libris, Canada, blended, refill casks, 1428 bottles) Three stars and a half
Not too sure about what 'Smaller Hero' means but I find the name charming, in a whisky world where crazy hyperboles and deeply inflated monikers are common currency. Colour: deep gold. Nose: hold on, this is an eau-de-vie, non? Blueberry, perhaps, or blackberry, no? Add to that all the sweet maize that was not in the Oxford Corn and rather a lot of cellulosic varnish. Now at 64.5%, better move on… With water: vanilla cream, fudge and butterscotch all over the place. Hazelnut liqueur as well, but no eau-de-vie this time. Mouth (neat): very sweet, apparently. Pancake sauce at 64.5%, hello world! (as an old Macintosh would have said). With water: reminds me of some Scottish grain whiskies, this has just more oranges, Fanta, orangeades… Finish: not too long, with touches of buckwheat this time. Oh by the way next time we do such a journey we'll kick it off with some Eddu (buckwheat whisky). Light oranges and vanilla in the aftertaste, with a feeling of mimosa (1 part orange juice, 2 parts champagne). Comments: very good, just not totally my preferred style. Should this be your preferred style, you'll love it to death.
SGP:531 - 83 points.
 

November 28, 2021


Whiskyfun

More French wine brandies

So armagnac and cognac but also fine from other regions. In other words, some fine fines. Ha. Remember a fine is distilled wine (instead of marc or spent grapes). Just to give you an example…

Très Vieille Fine de Bourgogne 7 yo 2013/2021 (56%, SAB's, Islay sherry cask, batch #W04/21, 360 bottles)

Très Vieille Fine de Bourgogne 7 yo 2013/2021 (56%, SAB's, Islay sherry cask, batch #W04/21, 360 bottles) Three stars and a half
An unusual set-up for sure, fine de Bourgogne matured in Burgundian wine barrels and then finished in ex-Islay sherry. Whether that was a peater or not remains to be seen, but what's sure is that what we've tried from SAB's until now has always been superb. Colour: gold. Nose: pure kirschwasser straight from a still, all cherries not destoned, plus a little wine vinegar and huge notes of acetone. Looks like we'll need to tame this one. I wouldn't call it 'smoky' this far. With water: almost no changes, except that you would almost believe they've added sorb or holly eau-de-vie. Perhaps even elderberries. I'm not sure I would have said 'Fine de Bourgogne'. Mouth (neat): very punchy, a tad more on butterscotch this time, with once again a feeling of oak-aged eau-de-vie. Rather old sloes or 'prunes' this time, perhaps. With water: geared towards malt whisky, with some lemony and indeed smoky tones, more butterscotch, some fudge, green pepper… Finish: long, earthier, grassier, spicier. Pepper stems and lees. Grapefruit liqueur un the aftertaste. Comments: hard to describe, hard to pin down. Surely a hit at any blind tasting session. Spirit for the metaverse? I really like it a lot but don't take my score too seriously, I'm lacking references.
SGP:462 - 83 points.

Très Vieille Fine de Bourgogne 7 yo 2013/2021 (56%, SAB's, peated Islay bourbon cask, batch #W03/21, 360 bottles) Four stars
Same kind of label. This should be even more 'meta'. Colour: gold. Nose: no one would blame you for saying this is malt whisky. Notes of charred American oak, butterscotch, vanilla, fudge, maple syrup, some coastal touches (there was a sea in Burgundy around 150 million years ago), a few sour tones (sour cherries) and an overall feeling of balance and coherence. That came unexpected. With water: a tad more towards citrus, perhaps chardonnay (am I dreaming?) and with a few remaining acetic tones. Balsamico. Mouth (neat): many excellent malts are like this, really. Lovely earthy tones, charred oak, maple, drops of maraschino, pepper liqueur, some Szechuan pepper… This is truly 'meta'! With water: hold on, malt whisky! Highland Park cask strength! I may be exaggerating a wee bit, but only a wee bit. Finish: long, a little more on fudge, peat indeed, and a grapefruit/citron combo that's working very well. Comments: this was all bound together by sorcery. What would the old Bourguignon monks say?
SGP:564 - 86 points.

Let's remain honest, we were extremely far from any proper French fine, let alone from cognac or armagnac (which are fines too). Let's make amend…

Château de Laubade 2000/2020 (52.4%, OB, Bas-armagnac, brut de fût)

Château de Laubade 2000/2020 (52.4%, OB, Bas-armagnac, brut de fût) Four stars
From baco and ugni blanc 50/50, all from their own estate. We've had an awesome 1990 in the same series the other Sunday (WF 88). Colour: golden amber. Nose: praline and butterscotch, mead and young rancio, then gravy and sweet sushi sauce. All that is absolutely impeccable, firm and rather tight, while I enjoy these whiffs of old cellar and old humidor that are starting to rise to your nostrils after twenty seconds even more. With water: oils, pine resin, parsley… The wood was pretty active. Mouth (neat): lovely meatiness, with a little pine and camphor on top of many raisins and prunes. Notes of cedar wood, drier fudge… Now the piney side would tend to grow and grow, let's see… With water: no, all is fine, the raisins and other dried fruits are having the upper hand. Finish: long, rich, lingering. Some triple-sec and meat extract in the aftertaste. Comments: as good as it gets at this sort of age, I would say. You'll find many vintage Laubades in restaurants in France but those were usually bottled at 40% vol. This is very different.
SGP:661 - 87 points.

Domaine de Poutëou 1990/2021 (46.3%, LMDW, Version Française, Bas-armagnac, 300 bottles)

Domaine de Poutëou 1990/2021 (46.3%, LMDW, Version Française, Bas-armagnac, 300 bottles) Four stars and a half
Never heard of this wee estate, they're located in Lannemaignan in the Gers, not too far from Labastide d'Armagnac. Colour: amber. Nose: rounder and fruitier, easier than the Laubade, rather more on tropical fruits, overripe bananas, Sauternes, apricot, tangerines, the juiciest sultanas, a few drops of hay wine perhaps… A very 'sexy' armagnac as it seems. Some white chocolate too and something a little Cognacqy, if I may. Mouth: excellent, easy indeed, even if it would tend to become a little too piney, thus losing one or three points immediately. Fruit peelings, jams, liqueurs, all that keeps a good balance while when liquorice allsorts start to kick in, it's becoming ueber-fruity and bonbony. I'm sorry but indeed, this is very 'sexy'. Finish: rather long, with the same extreme fruitiness plus even more liquorice. Comments: this goes down too well; they should do only double-magnums.
SGP:751 - 88 points.

Since he said cognac…

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Le Cognac d'Eraville L.90's' (42.8%, OB, Confluences, Grande Champagne, 767 bottles)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Le Cognac d'Eraville L.90's' (42.8%, OB, Confluences, Grande Champagne, 767 bottles) Five stars
This a blend of various mid-1990s distillate, all from the village of Eraville. Colour: gold. Nose: I'm first finding a little calvados, with some very ripe apples, even pommes tapées (hit apples, a thing they make in the Loire valley), also pears, then more tropical touches, around guavas. Some ice wine too, then honeysuckle and lilies. I find this one rather luminous, even splendid. Mouth: extremely good, fruity, slightly tropical yet again (pink bananas), with some rose jelly, quinces, soft liquorice, proper pear liqueur and a few glasses of tangerine juice. Which, naturally, is a no-brainer. Finish: medium but fresh, with some menthol, honeydew, perhaps a little pinot gris… And those pommes tapées once again. Comments: it does not trash the armagnac, not at all, but it's still a wee bit superior, in my little book. Both high-flyers anyway.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Fins Bois 'No.52-22' (46.6%, Swell & Co, Grosperrin cellar, 2021)

Fins Bois 'No.52-22' (46.6%, Swell de Spirits, Swell & Co, Grosperrin cellar, 2021) Five stars
This one's brand new. I really like what this new little company's doing, they found a different voice – and good stock, apparently. It seems that it's very old Fins Bois distilled in the 1950s indeed and transferred to demi-johns in the year 2000. Not too sure about what the '22' means. Colour: deep amber. Nose: oh, old sauces, bouillons, meads, wines, cordials and liqueurs… How lovely is that? Quinces first running the show, with a little crème de menthe and camphor, then rather apples and pears (a feeling of calvados that we've already experienced today), old well-taken-care-of cigars, then sweet soups, onions and caramel, English brown sauce, even sweet BBQ sauce (American)… There's really a lot happening in there… Mouth: I was afraid it would be too woody but not so. Splendid notes of honeysuckle, chamomile, spearmint, honeydew, dried figs, heather honey, then that wee meatiness again, around 'Anglo-Saxon sweeter meaty sauces' (please bear with this poor Frenchman)… Some sultanas too, naturally. Finish: this is where the oak starts to show a wee bit but while it couldn't go above 90.00 in my book because of that, everything remains reasonable, refreshing, and resonant (what?) Comments: a true movie-cognac (btw there's a great Cinema festival in Cognac). One day I'll further explore the 'bois' (fins, bons, ordinaires).
SGP:561 - 90 points.
Nov 29 update:
it is actually a blend of 1922 (20%) and 1952 (80%). Thanks Kelly and Michaël!

Maison Prunier 70 yo 1950/2021 (62%, The Purist Belgium, Wineforyou, Grande Champagne, 126 bottles)

Maison Prunier 70 yo 1950/2021 (62%, The Purist Belgium, Wineforyou, Grande Champagne, 50 bottles) Four stars and a half
Picture of a twin bottle, my mistake (thanks Ruben). From the caves de la Maison Prunier. So this has clearly spent seventy years in wood and kept a A.B.V. of 62%. Which would suggest that the cask was either stored in Kentucky, or 'high in an high attic'. Or that the inside was coated with diamond powder or some kinds of ceramics. Colour: amber. Nose: fruit wines! Fig, date, even strawberry, all that with some gravy and some marmalade, plus buttered caramel… But it's 62% vol. With water: wonderful meatiness, sausages, rabbit stew, saltimbocca, with some sage and some lemon… Mouth (neat): incredible, huge, massive, almost as aggressive as a speech by Steve Bannon. I know, we've now got one as well in little France. Incredibly citrusy, almost lemony. With water: pretty rough at +/-45% vol., as if it was much younger. Very good raisins, caramel, onion soup, mead, Trappist beer (amen), gritty, salty liquorice… Finish: long, biting your tongue, somewhat rustic, but really splendid. Almost as if 1950 was actually the year 2000. Quite some green tea. Comments: an extremely intriguing old cognac, full of mysteries. I had first thought I would keep this one for Christmas and use it as the sparring partner for G&M's 80yo Glenlivet that we haven't formally tried yet, but no worries, we have even older Pruniers. Mysterious Pruniers.
SGP:561 - 89 points.
 

November 27, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Glenallachie, Strathisla & Ben Nevis
Don't ask why those distilleries; there's more than a fair bit of 'unconscious' grabbing that goes on between me and my sample shelf. Except perhaps the Ben Nevis, I'm no masochist after all…

 

Glenallachie 12 yo (46%, OB, -/+ 2020)

Glenallachie 12 yo (46%, OB, -/+ 2020)
This is from one of Billy Walker's batches, but there already appears to have been quite a few of them and I couldn't tell you which one this is. Most seem to mention a mixture of Oloroso, PX and virgin oak. Colour: amber - surprisingly dark. Nose: very nice, rather classical on fudge, Dundee cake, shoe polish, mixed peppercorns and a slightly sticky jammy quality - sticky dark fruits I suppose. Feels like quite a sherry-dominated batch. Mouth: some active oak, but also rather a lot of dark grained breads, stout beers, molasses, dates, treacle cake and walnuts. Herbal bitters too, along with some strong fresh black coffee and bitter chocolate. Bish bash bosh! Finish: medium, quite bready, dark and savoury. Umami paste, forest mushrooms and leathery notes. Comments: the oak is there, draping everything in perhaps a notch too much spice, but there's many gooey sherried treats to enjoy underneath. Not sure all batches have been up to this spec though.
SGP: 561 - 85 points.

 

 

Glenallachie 24 yo 1995/2020 (55.1%, The Duchess 'Game & Wildlife', cask #23, hogshead, 289 bottles)
Yet more birds on whisky labels, we will know the world has stopped turning when the indy bottlers run out of avian wildlife with which to adorn labels. Colour: bright straw. Nose: very light, gentle orchard fruits with an underripe sharpness about them. So pears, apples and gooseberries all rather green and crisp. Some firmer maltiness behind all that and some sunflower oil. With water: still rather dry and gentle, some pollens, Bakelite, yellow flowers and oatmeal. Mouth: a bit more assertive and charismatic than the nose, which is fun. More on shoe polish, oily cereals, buttered breads, dried flowers, canvass and putty. Pretty good I think. With water: slightly juicier with some yellow plums and dried apricot, some plasticine, fennel seed and a single spoonful of custard. Quite funny whisky really. Finish: medium and still a bit drying, lightly peppery, dusty and more of these pressed and dried flower feelings. Comments: It's really a palate whisky in my book, one for a tumbler and gentle sipping rather than a nosing glass. Same ballpark as the OB 12yo but a world apart stylistically.
SGP: 451 - 85 points.

 

 

Strathisla 2008/2012 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail)

Strathisla 2008/2012 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail)
An iconic label for sure, but I've not tried much Strathisla from this licensed series for a fair while now. Colour: deep gold. Nose: slightly sticky fruit loaf, flower honeys, bow resin, a sense of slightly splintery modern wood and more classical stuff like sultanas and sweet stout beers. Easy peasy and very nice overall. Ha, 'nice'. Mouth: much better in the mouth up front I'd say, lots of lovely milk chocolate and roasted nut notes - a Snickers bar perhaps. Caffe latte, cinnamon pastries with raisins, lemon curd and some tinned custard. Finish: medium, still on toasted nuts, milk chocolate and touches of coffee and tobacco. Gets a little gamey in the aftertaste which is cool. Comments: Not too sure who could be against this. Definitely some sort of benchmark, and an epitome of 'easy' malt whisky.
SGP: 551 - 84 points.

 

 

Strathisla 18 yo 1974/1992 (57.8%, Gordon & MacPhail 'CASK', casks #2206 + 2207)

Strathisla 18 yo 1974/1992 (57.8%, Gordon & MacPhail 'CASK', casks #2206 + 2207)
Let's quickly check that against this old one… Colour: amber. Nose: very typical old school G&M sherry cask style. Lots of Maggi, bouillon, flowers, gamey touches, leather, tobaccos and various crystallised fruits. There's also this quite distinctive mentholated and resinous edge as well. Herbal medicines, flower pollens and blood orange. Powerful and excellent so far. With water: water brings more of these dried flowers, vase water, dry earthiness, black tea and mushroom powder. Mouth: big, rich, leathery sherry. Many dried fruits, game broth, bouillon powder, heavy umami seasoning flavours, big impressions of spicy ramen broth and salted liquorice. Really very powerful! A lot of Szechwan pepper, cocktail bitters and star anise. With water: probably too aggressive and a bit drying now, some cardboard and a rather too singular pepperiness. Finish: long but jagged, hot and very peppery. Comments: It's interesting looking back in the WF archives, Serge appears to have tried this in 2005 and found the same issues with water on the palate. Anyway, another total beast under this livery by G&M and there are many very wonderful parts - the neat nose alone is worth…
SGP: 471 - 84 points. 

 

 

Ben Nevis 6 yo 2015/2021 (58.4%, Elixir Distillers 'The Whisky Trail', cask #319, barrel, 256 bottles)

Ben Nevis 6 yo 2015/2021 (58.4%, Elixir Distillers 'The Whisky Trail', cask #319, barrel, 256 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: young, but freshly so and actually showing quite a bit of obvious Ben Nevis character already. So waxed lemons, citrons, olive oil, hints of sheep wool - in some ways it feels impressively mature for the age. With water: more peppery, some more notes of waxed canvass, crushed greenery like grass and ferns, also a little sandalwood and breadiness. Mouth: superb arrival, very oily, all on waxes, citronella, olive oil, wee sooty touches, camphor and slightly overripe fruits. Only 6 years old? Really? With water: same feeling, all on oils, orange skins now as well, minerals, ointments, putty and more fatty waxy notes. Finish: long, citric, waxy, peppery and with more light medicinal touches. Comments: it's easy to get blinded by the undoubtedly luminous late 90s Ben Nevis vintages. But bottlings like this show it is very far from a one trick pony. An extremely good and hugely impressive wee youngster.
SGP: 562 - 88 points.

 

 

Ben Nevis 25 yo 1996/2021 (47.6%, Milroy's of Soho, cask #20, refill sherry butt)

Ben Nevis 25 yo 1996/2021 (47.6%, Milroy's of Soho, cask #20, refill sherry butt)
Colour: pale amber. Nose: that lovely impression of slightly overripe oranges, bitter marmalade and darker things like shoe polish, coal dust, dunnage earth and touches of cured game meats, old school bitter ales and mineral oils. A superbly 'phat' distillate with a nicely integrated and rather organic sherry profile. In time I find wee notes of almond oil and some bright notes of citrus zests. Mouth: the sherry is quite forwards on arrival. Very flinty, lightly mentholated, drying, salty and nervous. Resinous notes of darker fruits, tobaccos, bitter chocolate with sea salt, heather beers, liquorice, treacle and also some familiar Ben Nevis waxiness underneath. More of these overripe orange and marmalade notes. Indeed quite flinty and full of polish and gun metal vibes. Finish: good length, showing an earthier side with many dark grains, breads, cocoa, mineral oils again, more subtle cured meats and this familiar Ben Nevis pepperiness. Comments: an elegant and very well balanced cask that keeps the sherry and distillery characteristics in close harmony.
SGP: 562 - 90 points.

 

 

Ben Nevis 24 yo 1996/2021 (50.2%, Milroy's of Soho, cask #1485, refill sherry butt, 70 bottles)

Ben Nevis 24 yo 1996/2021 (50.2%, Milroy's of Soho, cask #1485, refill sherry butt, 70 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: a notch more scented and herbal, with orange blossom, dried dark fruits, brown bread and umami seasonings. A similarly dry and earthy style of sherry but perhaps a tad more assertive and concentrated than the other one. Things like bergamot, treacle, rancio and a little old balsamic. With water: bouillon, soot, dried banana chips, sultana, Guinness and wee touches of leather, mustard powder and cured game meats. Mouth: ooft, superbly concentrated on the palate. Maggi, balsamic glaze, perfect rancio, dried out exotic fruits, impressions of tropical fruit teas in fact. Subtle herbal extracts, chocolate liqueur, old leather - really an impressively older style of sherry going on here. Some firm waxy and peppery vibes as well. With water: really excellent now! A perfect balance of salty, earthy, nervous and pure sherry, with waxes, pepper and crystallised tropical fruits. Totally superb! Finish: long, deeply earthy, resinous, dark fruits and exotic fruits together, black tea, mineral oil, leather, tobacco, chocolate, umami… goes on and on. Comments: an outstanding sherry cask with some equally outstanding Ben Nevis distillate combining into something greater than the sum of its parts. A beautiful dram that is all about nuance, complexity and balance.
SGP: 562 - 91 points.

 

 

Ben Nevis 24 yo 1996/2021 (51.5%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #1535, hogshead, 223 bottles)

Ben Nevis 24 yo 1996/2021 (51.5%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #1535, hogshead, 223 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: different wood, different style. This is almost more towards some of these old Irish malts with this exuberant grassy and exotic combination that immediately makes you think of top notch Kiwi sauvignon blanc with passion fruits, crushed nettles and a rather jangling and bright minerality. Lime, chalk, guava and, over time, more of these familiar waxes and hessian which reorients us back to the west coast of Scotland. With water: becomes a little leaner, more mineral, more pure and freshly on grass, citrus fruits and touches of cod liver oil and camphor. Mouth: a fruit bomb. Exotic fruit salad juices cut with top class olive oil, a tiny thread of mineral salts, plenty juicy, easy waxes, and also some slightly herbal and medicinal touches. With water: less 'overtly' fruity, more mineral once again, more on resins, expensive cooking oils, white pepper, jasmine tea, waxes and crystallised citrus fruits. Finish: long, grassy, tautly mineral, olive oil once again, pepper, waxes and green fruits now. Comments: I'm very sorry, but I'm afraid it's just yet another totally outstanding Ben Nevis 96. These refill examples are just completely disarming.
SGP: 652 - 91 points.

 

 

 

 

November 26, 2021


Whiskyfun

Another short trip around the whisky world...
Stuff that's not Scottish, that's how we would define this. And we'll start from France, as usual…

Le Breuil 2017/2021 'Version Française' (50.7%, La Maison du Whisky for Whisky Live Paris, France, bourbon, cask # W17059DR, 150 bottles)
fr

Le Breuil 2017/2021 'Version Française' (50.7%, La Maison du Whisky for Whisky Live Paris, France, bourbon, cask # W17059DR, 150 bottles) Two stars
This baby from Normandy, so by Calvados makers. I have to confess I'm way behind with anything French whiskies… Colour: light gold. Nose: isn't it rather insane that we would find apples, cider, leaves and just peelings in there? With water: some kind of soapy beer for starters, then crazy pear spirit. Rather huge saponification, and that would only go away after a good 15 minutes. Green pears are back then. Mouth (neat): I see, bubblegum, beedis, chlorophyll, leaves aplenty… Is this meant to be experimental? With water: green pears. Finish: medium, leafy, cross and trans. Have I mentioned green pears? Comments: not quite my kind of dope, but it's sure got its very own merits. Like, promoting green pears? I've tried another Le Breuil that I had liked much better if I remember well.
SGP:251 - 72 points.

Off to Amerika…

Balcones 'The Book Edition' (OB for Cyrille Mald, USA, 2021)
us

Balcones 'The Book Edition' (OB for Cyrille Mald, USA, 2021) Three stars
A single malt from Texas that comes with a book about whisky by our brilliant French friend Cyrille Mald, how does that sound? No ABV statement though – who's counting anyway? Colour: amber. Nose: starts like grain and goes on like malt, with some kind of earthy lavenderish floralness and rather a lot of coconut water. With water: plywood, banana, camphor, oak essences, a little fresh glue. Mouth (neat): rich, thick, very spicy, heavy, on caramel and thuja. With water: very thick and rich indeed, spicy, concoctiony and full of tobacco. More glue and varnish too. Finish: long, extreme, varnishy, ueber-grassy. Comments: sweet Vishnu, is this heavy and spicy! A lot of pine tar too.
SGP:382 - 82 points
(unnecessary score, please don't take into account).

Back to Europe. I mean to Sweden…

High Coast 'The First Ten years' (52%, OB, Sweden, 2021)
sw

High Coast 'The First Ten years' (52%, OB, Sweden, 2021) Two stars and a half
I would have loved to tell you more about this baby but it's all written in Swedish on the website. Well, what I would gather is that this is the first proper 10 by High Coast/Box. So, hurray! <insert fireworks here > Colour: gold. Nose: mashed potatoes, fresh brioche, tapioca, parsnips and a little sawdust. With water: perhaps a little more sawdust, eucalyptus, peppers… Mouth (neat): super good at first, fruity (bananas, guavas) and spicy (turmeric, ginger, coriander seeds). Bed of barley. With water: I was afraid the oak would have taken over but not so, this would remain cake-y and spicy in a good way. Notes of bitter oranges. Finish: rather long, rather too oaky and spicy now. I mean for me… Difficult. Comments: oh just forget about the finish, this is a celebratory bottling, is it not? Love what they're doing over there in middle Sweden, and of course this first ten cannot be representative of the average quality of what they've been making. Which, let's be honest, has been generally very, very, and I mean very superior. An example very soon…
SGP:561 - 77 points.

High Coast 'Silent Mills Collection 04' (51%, OB, Sweden, 2021)
sw

High Coast 'Silent Mills Collection 04' (51%, OB, Sweden, 2021) Four stars
Ex-bourbon (hurray) and ex-Port (gulp…) Did you happen to know about Swedish Port? Colour: white wine. Nose: tincture of iodine, rocks, oysters, green spices, samphire, grass, smoke. With water: chiselled lemons and medicinal herbs and earths. Plus gherkins. Mouth (neat): pristine, immaculate grassy and lemony peat. Limoncello, charcoal, green liquorice, lime, tequila blanco, tarragon, pine essence. There. With water: takes water very well, rather geared towards liquorice this time, with a lemony, almost fishy (salmon) fatness. Gravlax in a bottle (maybe). Finish: long, tight, lemony, smoky, green and a tad bitter. Comments: another world after the Ten. Keep the Ten on your shelves. The new Altitud is very good too (soon on WF).
SGP:364 - 85 points.

Off to Canada, perhaps… (via the North Pole)…

Arbutus (43%, OB, Canada, single malt, +/-2021)
cn

Arbutus (43%, OB, Canada, single malt, +/-2021) Three stars
One of those new cats from British Columbia. Not many clues about these single malt whiskies but we've got some splendid friends over there in B.C., so our minds remain open, willing and free. Colour: light gold. Nose: but yes, buckwheat, cakes, breads, digestive biscuits, semolina (couscous) and caraway. Lovely, simple, unquestionable, fresh. Mouth: there's something natural to this, even if it's rather thin malt whisky. Roots, turnips, perhaps gentian… But no arbutus this far, I'm afraid… Finish: medium, earthy and rooty. Bitter beer, ginger beer, some kinds of smoky pears, bitter almonds… Comments: great fun here, well done, with lovely rooty touches. High-class débuts, I'll follow this venture very closely. it seems that this baby was 3 yo tops, so indeed the future should be bright.
SGP:451 - 82 points.
 

November 25, 2021


Whiskyfun

Another pair of Ardbeg

We'll soon do the core range again (the Ten, Uigeadail, Wee Beastie, Corry, NOT the An Oa…) but in the meantime, a couple of newish indies just for sport…

Ardbeg 2008/2021 (57.8%, The Maltman, fist fill PX sherry butt, cask #1634, 573 bottles)

Ardbeg 2008/2021 (57.8%, The Maltman, first fill PX sherry butt finish, cask #1634, 573 bottles) Four stars
Another crazy bottling by some crazy bottlers for some crazy whisky lovers in crazy Taiwan. While this would be crazy PX… Colour: amber. Nose: it seems that someone's decided to smoke some bacon over burning tyres. While another person has distilled strawberries and rose petals and poured the end result into the mix. Some very tarry PX. With water: huge soy sauce, even an idea of natto (horror of horrors to this nose but some friends whom I deeply respect love it), then some sulphury mushrooms and really a lot of soot. To be honest, the cask tamed Ardbeg; it would have tamed Octomore too. Mouth (neat): holy featherless crows! This one's not easy to describe, some overripe strawberries are roaming the place for sure, while some salted rotting bananas would have joined the dancing after just three seconds, together with the moistest pipe tobacco and surely a sriracha-kind of softish chilli sauce. I told you, hard to describe. With water: Ardbeg, or Laphroaig and Lagavulin for that matter, plus sherry, especially hard PX, would often generate a feeling of sulphury rubber or even, well, bits of SM outfit. I would imagine… Not an easy beast for sure. Finish: long and much saltier. Worcester sauce and strawberry jam. Comments: spectacular, bestial and brutish. So rather awesome (ha) but perhaps not totally for lovers of Ardbeg au naturel.
SGP:567 - 87 points.

Ardbeg 20 yo 2001/2021 (51.4%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Show London 2021, Adventures in Flavour - Phenolic Phantom)

Ardbeg 20 yo 2001/2021 (51.4%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Show London 2021, Adventures in Flavour - Phenolic Phantom) Four stars and a half
A wonderful label that does not take itself too seriously, that's very refreshing. BTW I'm glad I can try this one formally, we were all so glad to meet each other again at the Show that there's been much more banter, hugs and camaraderie than any 'serious' whisky tasting. Because, friends rise over whisky, always! Colour: gold. Nose: teak oil, ointments, bitter almond oil, olive oil, natural hevea, green bananas, capers, carbon dust (brake pad), clayish mud… This one sure is rather different, and possibly a little less easy-easy than others. With water: indoor swimming pool, Woolite, chalk, new tyres, bandages and linseed oil. This is a wrestler. Mouth (neat): bites you a wee bit, being greenish, mentholy, bitter, a tad rubbery too… Some salty lemons too but this sure is no classic, 'average' Ardbeg. With water: indeed, rubber, also artisanal amaretti and a large glass of retsina. This bitterish baby would leave marks on your tongue, should you quaff too much of it. Finish: long, much saltier and more medicinal now, but always with these bitter almonds and this wee peppery rubber, especially towards the aftertaste. Comments: I do utterly love this, it's just that it is absolutely not 'normal' Ardbeg. Newcomers: it may not be necessary to go to those extremes. Your call.
SGP:377 - 89 points.

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

 

November 24, 2021


Whiskyfun

A trio of Hazelburn

A wee session long overdue! Remember Hazelburn is the lighter, unpeated, fully triple-distilled version of Springbank. And naturally, we've already found some Hazelburns that have been relatively smoky, fat and, as they say, assertive.

Hazelburn 22 yo 1998/2020 (46%, North Star Spirits, first fill sherry hogshead, 230 bottles)

Hazelburn 22 yo 1998/2020 (46%, North Star Spirits, first fill sherry hogshead, 230 bottles) Five stars
Labelled as a triple-distilled Springbank just to lure the enemy. Seriously, that's the name of the Distillery. Colour: amber bronze. Nose: total dry, walnutty sherry, full of, well, of walnuts, metal polish, gunpowder (gun that just shot), tabasco and Worcester sauce, smoked sausage, old red from Burgundy, mushrooms, moss, what we used to call 'civette' (mature game animals), mutton, matches, concrete, old garage… This is, indeed, very complex, with a coaly smokiness. A perfect example of 'good' sulphur if you will. A little glutamate-y. Mouth: in keeping with the nose, except that this has also got huge loads of salted liquorice, old cognac, indeed a lot of walnuts, truffles, marmalade, tobacco, even more smoked sausage... I'd have been curious to try this at full strength, it must have been a monster. Finish: very long and shock-full of liquorice, then Jägermeister and just Cynar. Artichoke wine and/or liqueur. Comments: I don't know if the distillate was lighter, the cask sure wasn't. Pretty extreme and spectacular, and perhaps a tad segmenting as they say in marketing. I'm on the good side of the fence.
SGP:462 - 90 points
(same as Angus).

Hazelburn 13 yo 2007/2021 (48.6%, OB, Limited Edition, 6,000 bottles)

Hazelburn 13 yo 2007/2021 (48.6%, OB, Limited Edition, 6,000 bottles) Four stars and a half
¾ bourbon and ¼ sherry, I think we've seen that combo working many times already, everywhere. Colour: light gold. Nose: very pure, yet a tad metallic and herbal, with also some beach sand and some kelp, as well as rather unexpected whiffs of orange blossom. Tends to become really floral, with some fresh pollen and certainly a wee glass of limoncello. A wee Springbanky fatness too, rather around old tool, engine oil… Just drops mind you. Lovely fresh and complex nose. Mouth: there, the Distillery's awesome dirty side and it's not even hiding. More engine oil, linseed, touches of soot and cigarette ashes, then gentler notes, lemon marmalade, elderberry syrup, a few mashy notes… I was about to mention salsify too, and mint, and aniseed, and liquorice. Finish: medium to long, fresh, saltier, a little smoky once again, even frankly coastal towards the aftertaste. Oysters, lemons and champagne. Comments: high-definition make, just a tad less complex than the fantastic North Star. I'm a fan of this style.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Hazelburn 15 yo (54.9%, OB, Online Tasting Week 2021, fresh oloroso, 1,174 bottles)

Hazelburn 15 yo (54.9%, OB, Online Tasting Week 2021, fresh oloroso, 1,174 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: amber. Nose: a much cleaner sherry when compared to the North Star, but it does have these tiny eggy notes indeed, engine oil, soot, suet, coal smoke, then sweeter notes, cakes, raisins, dried figs, black nougat, pipe tobacco, crude chocolate… This one's certainly the most Springbanky of them three so far. With water: there, game sausages, high grouse, toffee, old red Bourgogne this time again, a little leather, pipe tobacco… Well, it sure is very oloroso-y. Mouth (neat): it's as if someone would have blended the two previous ones, as it's got both the NS's animal dirtiness and the OB's cleaner, more coastal vibrancy (for lack of a better term). Wonderful marmalade, allspice, chocolate, tobacco, a little ginger, mushrooms, a drop of Maggi, lovage, lemons, a little brine… All that while it's gaining fatness too. Big baby. With water: this time it would rather become a little sweeter, but some kind of chalky gingerness is there too, truffle oil (you pour that over any pizza and presto!) roasted chestnuts, earthy tea, roasted black raisins… Finish: very long, with some rancio wine this time. Even touches of PX that, we agree, shouldn't quite be there. The aftertaste is more on salted lemons, rather appropriately. Comments: an excellent so-called sherry monster with a distillate that's having its say too. Rather less meaty/dirty than the NS.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

That 'Online Tasting' bottle reminded me of HP's seminal and flabbergasting 'Online Tasting' bottle, which had been done in... 1998. True pioneers! Anyway, Hazelburn may be 'lighter' but, well, it's not Auchentoshan, is it.

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

 

November 23, 2021


Whiskyfun

Aberlour on the tasting desk

One of the fruitiest distillates they have in Speyside, in my opinion, as long as we're talking western orchards and not mangos or passion fruits. Let's see what's arrived…

Mid-1990s French ad for Aberlour. 'It was without knowing what they were drinking that Wallace Milroy and his peers decided to award Aberlour. ->

Aberlour 14 yo 'Double Cask Matured' (40%, B, +/-2021)

Aberlour 14 yo 'Double Cask Matured' (40%, B, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
Big in France (and currently 32.50€ at Auchan supermarkets). Ex-bourbon plus ex-oloroso, that explains the 'double' side. Those statements are really become boring, are they not? Did anyone beat Jura's 'Seven Wood' yet? Colour: gold. Nose: the name's a little lousy but the spirit is impeccable, malty as it should, with some cider, orange cakes, plus indeed many kinds of plums and some delicate honeyed touches. Opening a family-pack of jelly babies and beans and crocodiles and baby Jesuses and stuff. Mouth: the low strength feels now, it's lacking voltage and feels a little wishy-washy. Tea, peelings, paper, flour, leaves, that's it. Wishy-washy indeed. Finish: short and drying. Comments: 43% vol. works so much better! Nice nose but the palate's very disappointing, only because of that lousy strength. Buck up!
SGP:451 - 78 points.

Aberlour 16 yo 'Double Cask Matured' (43%, B, +/-2021)

Aberlour 16 yo 'Double Cask Matured' (43%, B, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
See? They heard us! (S., you're a pain in the neck). Yet again a story about bourbon and sherry. Colour: deep gold. Nose: very different, much nuttier, with even a little smoke (barbecue, wood smoke), then walnut wine, amontillado-like notes, touches of menthol, humidor, then figs and raisins, a drop pf cognac, triple-sec, moist Christmas cake, chestnut purée… So all in all, a very lovely nose, more profound and rich than that of the 14. Mouth: yes, there, some action at last, more roasted nuts, leaves, malty beer, cakes, teas… Perhaps some good Assam? Darjeeling? In any case, the 43% vol. work perfectly and nothing gets flabby this time. Finish: medium, leafier, drier. Darjeeling indeed. Maybe… Some marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: now we're talking. Unless an A'bunadh…
SGP:451 - 83 points.

Aberlour 'A'bunadh batch #69' (61.2%, OB, oloroso butts, 2021)

Aberlour 'A'bunadh batch #69' (61.2%, OB, oloroso butts, 2021) Four stars
We couldn't try them all and we're always behind anyway, but I believe we've tasted a good twenty of them. Always a joy. Colour: deep gold. Nose: this one's rather got more herbs, lovage, onions, chives, miso, walnuts, soy sauce, crude chocolate, mocha, coconut, macaroons, pistachio nougat… Fantastico, really. With water: roasted chestnuts, café latte and a wee touch of metal and leather polishes. Why don't Scottish distilleries use old cars to welcome their VIP visitors? As they would do in Champagne, with Krug's Rolls-Royces for example? Mouth (neat): nut cakes and varnish, with a feeling of rhum agricole. Was that the plan? But boy is it strong. WIth water: very good, straighter, with once again a feeling of great rhum, leaves and stems, hay, something dry, peelings, citrus skins, bitters… Finish: long and tight. It is not a luscious sherry bomb, as some (much) earlier batches would have been. Grassy, bitter aftertaste (loses pointe here). Comments: most certainly one of the better batches, even if #66, the last one I could try, was a tad more to my liking.
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Aberlour 16 yo 2005/2021 (56.7%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, sherry hogshead, cask #214040, 243 bottles)

Aberlour 16 yo 2005/2021 (56.7%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, sherry hogshead, cask #214040, 243 bottles) Four stars
As everyone would have noticed by now, they do not use any hogsheads in Jerez. But there, why bother… Colour: gold. Nose: cherries leading the pack this time, together with a little metal polish (as we found in A'bunadh), gun oil, marrow soup, then rather amaretti and maraschino. Something clearly Italian in this one. Even a little hazelnut liqueur, a thing that, I believe, only our Italian friends dare making. With water: you do get some Nut…a indeed. That and soups, bouillons, Bovril/Viandox, malt extract, I'd even mention Marmite while we're here…  Mouth (neat): tough and rough, leafy and leathery. Water may be needed. With water: could be that the A'bunadh is giving this one a hard time and that's my mistake. Cherry cake, bitter teas, coffee and chicory, stout, bitter beers… Indeed it would remain a little rough and tough. Finish: rather long, malty. Fruit stones, marc…  Comments: hope they'll manage to replicate those flabbergasting old 'cube' bottlings one day. An extremely fine single cask, just a tad… tough and rough. Ish.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Aberlour 12 yo 2008/2021 'Apollo 15 – LRV' (59.2%, The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill oloroso sherry hogshead, cask #TWB1016, 263 bottles)

Aberlour 12 yo 2008/2021 'Apollo 15 – LRV' (59.2%, The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill oloroso sherry hogshead, cask #TWB1016, 263 bottles) Four stars
Another lunar bottling, it seems. As a former stamp collector (when I was a kid, in the 1990s, right), I cannot not enjoy this kind of thinking and labelling… Colour: gold. Nose: them and their compadres, they do it modern and right, no doubts about that. Cappuccino, latte, mocha, cassata, raisin rolls, strawberry jam, fig and quince jellies… Boy does this work. With water: cigars, leather couches, steaks, green peppercorns, bell pepper… Well not totally sure… Mouth (neat): coffee liqueur (Kahlua) and pepper cordial. Either this pepper will get toned down once water's been added, or it'll take over and kill the make, let's see… With water: luck was on our side, this works, but I'm still finding it a tad leathery and leafy, with a little too much bitterness. Those sherry hogsheads you know… Finish: long and caramelly, with some pepper and some leaves. Comments: honestly I knew this would happen. Very lovely whiskies all around, but they would remain a little rough.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

It was tight but looks like A'bunadh won it; who said as usual, who?

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

 

November 22, 2021


Whiskyfun

Forgotten Edradour

Right, we've had a few Edradours the other day, most having been wonderful, and I just realised that we had forgotten this one. Would you agree that we could quickly have it?

Edradour 18 yo 2003/2021 (53%, Signatory Vintage for WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 334 bottles)

Edradour 18 yo 2003/2021 (53%, Signatory Vintage for WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 334 bottles) Four stars and a half
It's said that the Sponge is often spotted around the charming touristy city of Pitlochry, but the reasons remain obscure. Maybe the landscape, maybe the clootie dumplings at Mackenzie's… Colour: white wine. Nose: very oily, fat, on peanut and sunflower oils at first, then linseed oil, white asparagus, brake fluid and just leather polish. We're at the bone here, and the bone is wonderfully waxy and oily. The art of refill. With water: a wee tad leatherette-y, which is pretty Edradourian indeed. Now greatest of news, this is already 'new regime' Edradour. Wee whiffs of horse saddle too, which is lovely. Mouth (neat): all on green and white fruits over a waxy and oily core. Greengages, white pears, gooseberries, granny smith and white peaches dumped into a blend of sauvignon blanc and grape-pip oil. With water: the grassier malt is firing back. Some bitter almonds, more oils too, and a feeling of, ach, err, naked Ben Nevis. Finish: long, tense yet fat, with many more oilinesses. Grapefruit skin and a little more bitterness in the aftertaste, may lose one or two points here. Ha, points. Comments: Edradour au naturel, c'est assez magnifique. Come on, you do understand French. Nice statement, Sponge (and Andrew S.)
SGP:362 - 89 points.

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

 

November 21, 2021


Whiskyfun

Doing rums again

Since this is Sunday and since we did brandies last week…

Montebello 12 yo 1999 (40%, OB, Guadeloupe, cask #186, +/-2012)

Montebello 12 yo 1999 (40%, OB, Guadeloupe, cask #186, +/-2012) Three stars
A great idea, very badly executed. I mean, for example, 40% vol., what a let-down; now we do like Montebello, that's for sure, let's just hope this won't be a very frustrating path… Colour: gold. Nose: what a distillate, for crying out loud! Extraordinary notes of benzine, boat's spent engine oil, olives both green and black, anchovy paste, cane juice, liquorice… Amazing nose, one of the best in the Caribbean. But the truth lies on the palate, does it not… Mouth: what a magnificent olive-y, green, extremely liquoricy distillate! What a pity and a shame that they would have gone for those lousy 40% vol. that are synonymous with murder, damnation, putrefaction and laziness. Quite. Finish: shortish and yet, the distillate is utterly wonderful. Stunning liquorice. Comments: their thing of course, but some do get away with murder. Seppuku in your glass, really.
SGP:362 - 80 points.

Mirascielo (38%, OB, +/-2020)

Mirascielo (38%, OB, +/-2020)
Oh sugar, this is spiced rum of unknown origins, made-up like a truck stollen in Belarus and probably flavoured like any 'stuff' from Starbucks'. Now since we're here, let's do it… (you may skip to the next one, having said that)… Colour: gold. Nose: not much. Sweetened hay, perhaps? Other than that, nuffin' from nuffin'. Mouth: caramel sauce. Some kind of under-Don Papa, knowing that Don Papa's really very low already. Finish: none. Movie-theatre's popcorn. Comments: a bullshit brand, very weak and nasty drink, rather a scandal, let's call Scotland Yard.

SGP:420 - 15 points.

Serious stuff please… Hod on, what is this?...

Manutea 3 yo 2017/2021 'VO' (58.7%, OB, Tahiti, cask #BY21, 300 bottles)

Manutea 3 yo 2017/2021 'VO' (58.7%, OB, Tahiti, cask #BY21, 300 bottles) Three stars
From French Polynesia, sadly finished in wine (Banyuls), but indeed you never know, Manutea's reputation being rather high… Colour: amber. Nose: nice agricole-y notes, plus some estery touches, olives, metal polish, dill and aniseed, liquorice, butterscotch… With water: nice, you would almost believe you're in Barbados (FS), with added menthol. What we call 'Zan'. Mouth (neat): good, close-to-the-cane, herbal and mentholy, with some crystalised lemons and more aniseed, menthol and liquorice. With water: some no-quibble fat and estery rum, pretty liquorice-driven and frankly, a surprise. First time I'm hearing of Manutea. Finish: long, on even more liquorice, with a salty tang. Comments: very good surprise, although it would not go in for subtleties in my opinion. Tahiti, you say?

SGP:362 - 81 points.

Penny Blue 2009-2011/2021 (59%, Navigator World Whisky, Mauritius)

Penny Blue 2009-2011/2021 (59%, Navigator World Whisky, Mauritius) Three stars
Stuff from Medine Distillery. It is a little complicated as there are two vintages and obviously two cask numbers and possibly other variations. If  I remember well, Berry Bros. were involved here but that's very old data and many beers have passed. Colour: amber. Nose: floral, aromatic, easy, cane-y, with a little fudge and, yeah, flowers. Ylang-ylang, zucchini… Maybe a little thin having said that but I've always found my Mauritian rums a little 'thin' indeed. With water: towards woods, sawdusts, cigars, coffees… Mouth (neat): earthy liquorice, oranges, mint and caraway, then crude chocolate and coffee beans. Simple and straightforward, a little drying perhaps. With water: same, no changes whatsoever. Perhaps more liquoricy molasses. Finish: medium, with some thinness and yet some very pleasant orangey liquorice. Comments: not earthshattering but no quibbling either this time again. Bored? Of course not!

SGP:451 - 80 points.

Still, let's try to find a rock and roller, a JJ Burnel of spirits, selected by true bassists…

Hampden 23 yo 1997/2021 'JMM' (48.1%, Thompson Bros., Jamaica)

Hampden (update, actually Monymusk) 23 yo 1997/2021 'JMM' (48.1%, Thompson Bros., Jamaica) Four stars and a half
Of course we've got not proof that this would be Hampden, please blame literary license. Colour: gold. Nose: of course. Crushed anchovies, liquorice, old pine-y armagnac, roasted sesame and pistachio, very old Sauternes that went dry, sauna oils, and just whatnot. Roasted pine nuts. Would tend to become more coastal over time, with also unexpected whiffs of vine peaches. Mouth: bingo. Amazing rotten fruits, brine, combava, lemons and wooden oils. What it would lack is some extra-acidity, nervousness and verticality, no saying it would be wishy-washy of course, but you get the idea. After 23 years I would suppose it would tend to become a tad more urbane, perhaps. Finish: long, salty. Comments: still a killer but it's interesting to see, and even touch the limits. After all, Hampden is not Lagavulin (Nobel Prize for your soon, S.) .

SGP:462 - 88 points.

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

 

November 20, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Highland Park Megasesh Part II
Serge informs me that this session will include Whiskyfun's 600th Highland Park tasting note. Quite an impressive milestone, the credit for which is entirely Serge's. However, it's a good opportunity to underscore what I said last week about Highland Park remaining one of my favourite distilleries.

 

I'm no fan of all the silly Viking marketing, and some of the modern day official bottlings can be a bit inconsistent. But at its heart, and especially if you visit the distillery, surrounded by the full force of Orkney itself, with all that stonework, the floor maltings, Hobbister peat and a distillate that, in its natural form, remains evocative and impeccable - it's hard not to love it. Big hugs to Olivier and Iain in particular for many of the samples that made up these two sessions.

 

 

First up, an aperitif…

 

 

John Scott's 35 Year Old 'Supreme' Blended Scotch Whisky (43%, John Scott & Millers, 675 bottles, 2003)

John Scott's 35 Year Old 'Supreme' Blended Scotch Whisky (43%, John Scott & Millers, 675 bottles, 2003)
A blend of Highland Park from 1965 and 1968 with some 37 year old Invergordon. I know, you might have wondered what was 'wrong' with the HP, but who knows. This was firmly within the age of innocence. Colour: deep mahogany. Nose: I mean, I don't know what I expected. This is exquisite old school sherry. Roasted walnuts, cherry liqueur, Christmas cake drenched in old Armagnac, rancio, old leather and green walnut liqueur. There's also some quite clear Orkney peat sloshing about in the depths, all roots, earth, medicines and dried up dark fruits. A gorgeous nose. Mouth: quite exquisite on arrival. Pickled dates, rancio, ancient balsamic and oloroso. Also Maggi, dried seaweed, lemon cough drops, dark chocolate with sea salt, touches of game and ancient pinot noir. Outrageously decadent and has deep connotations with some very, very old Grande Champagne cognacs. I don't really detect any grain whisky if I'm honest. Finish: long, deeply earthy, perfectly drying, threads of dry herbal peat and still these wonderfully persistent notes of pickled walnut, rancio and green herbal liqueurs. Comments: was this actually a blend? Did they just… lie? I mean, this was the 'age of innocence' after all. Glorious 'old' whisky in the very best sense.
SGP: 563 - 91 points.

 

 

Ok, we probably shouldn't have had that one first. Still, let's press ahead…

 

 

Highland Park 20 yo 2000/2021 (58.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #4.266 'The Dark Lord Of Stromness', 1st fill barrel, 202 bottles)

Highland Park 20 yo 2000/2021 (58.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #4.266 'The Dark Lord Of Stromness', 1st fill barrel, 202 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: rather an active barrel I would, but excellent so, lots of gorse flower, coconut milk and natural sweetness that goes towards fresh pineapple, fruit salad juices and heather honey. Indeed, it's a lighter, sweeter and more playful HP on first impressions. In the background I find some coastal flowers, pollens, heather beer and touches of eucalyptus and tiger balm. Elegant and very good. With water: recalls Euthymol toothpaste, dried flowers, a slightly chalkier note now as well and touches of sandalwood and mineral oils. Mouth: quite direct on arrival, split between sweet coconut, flambeed banana, soft wood spices, natural tar, new leather, mint, eucalyptus, soft medical embrocations and mead. Indeed, there's a nice sense of honey, pollens and wildflowers about it. A very soft vein of herbal peat smoke in the background. With water: caraway, lanolin, tea tree oil, salted almonds and a wonderfully herbal waxy and honeyed profile emerging. A slightly more pronounced peat note, more hessian, smoked olive oil, eucalyptus and dried herbs. Getting drier in a rather brilliant way now. Finish: long, herbal, slightly mentholated, gently coastal, notes of sandalwood and dried flowers. Comments: I particularly enjoy the way the cask was dominant when neat, but yielded to a wonderfully expressive, lighter touch HP profile when reduced. The kind of dram you could have a lot of fun with if you've a pipette and some water to hand.
SPG: 563 - 89 points.

 

 

Highland Park 14 yo 1991/2006 (55.5%, OB 'Exceptional Cask' for Switzerland, cask #4888, sherry)

Highland Park 14 yo 1991/2006 (55.5%, OB 'Exceptional Cask' for Switzerland, cask #4888, sherry)
Colour: ruby / mahogany. Nose: a hug of sherry! Big, enveloping, dark sticky fruits, aged Armagnac, stewed prunes, cherry throat sweets, balsamico, dried mint, leather and leaf mulch. Feels superbly pure, clean and fresh, but also extremely dense, sticky and resinous. Takes no prisoners! With water: starts to open now with notes of praline, salted dark chocolate, fruity black coffee, Maggi and black olive bread with rosemary. Mouth: a powerful and direct arrival! Salted liquorice, fresh espresso, natural tar, dates, damson compote, root beer and pomegranate molasses. Some meaty notes come through as well, top class Iberico and cured game meats with a little very old pinot noir. With water: pure salted Dutch liquorice now! Herbal ointments, cough syrup, long aged mead, aniseed liqueur, natural tar liqueur, maraschino juices and more impressions of root beer and sarsaparilla. Finish: long, increasingly beefy and gamey, tarry, peppery, seared steak, more aniseed and liquorice and aged cherry sour beer. Comments: quite bonkers! I suspect parts of this are technically not perfect and I've probably just been disarmed by the sheer sherried audacity on display. But I can't help but feel this, with about 20-30 years in the bottle, will be totally stunning!
SGP: 663 - 90 points.

 

 

Highland Park 9 yo 1988/1998 (59.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #4.57)

Highland Park 9 yo 1988/1998 (59.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #4.57)
Colour: white wine. Nose: peppery and slightly leathery, with some impressions of clotted cream, sourdough starter, breads, ales, chalk and an increasing mineral quality. One of these drier and straighter HP profiles that makes you think of some bone dry riesling. With water: not much difference, in fact it perhaps loses some definition now. Mouth: young, gristy, bready, mineral and with touches of baked vegetables and white flowers. Perhaps a touch of cardboard as well. With water: same issue as on the nose, starts to fall apart slightly. Just feels a bit young and grizzly really. Finish: medium, a bit hot, some white pepper, some cardboard, plain toast - bit boring really. Comments: I would say that almost every single batch of modern HP I've tried recently from the indies is an improvement upon this. Probably just bottled far too young.
SGP: 451 - 78 points.

 

 

Highland Park 1984/2004 (57.9%, OB for Germany, cask #45, sherry, 528 bottles)

Highland Park 1984/2004 (57.9%, OB for Germany, cask #45, sherry, 528 bottles)
Colour: light amber. Nose: a different style of sherry, in fact it really does stand out quite sharply against these more recent examples. This is much more on citrus rinds, damp cellar earth, flints, minerals and tobacco pouches. Many subtle notes such as dried mushroom powder, liquid seasonings, crystallised grapefruit, kumquat and even pomegranate. Quite unusual in some respects. With water: vase water, white truffle, dried mint, eucalyptus resin and stem ginger. Mouth: rather sharp attach on bitter herbs, grasses, walnut oil, cedar wood, pine resin and cough mixtures. Hessian, leaf mulch and bitter lemon with tonic water. A bit of an unusual profile I think, various red fruity notes that make you think of stuff like Tizer and grenadine. With water: very spicy now! Hessian, chilli powder, liquorice root, aniseed, bitter herbal extracts and various stuff like soot, cigar ends and wormwood. Finish: long, tannic, bitter, more marmalade, herbal, sooty, saline and with a big, punchy spiciness lingering. Comments: I actually find this one rather tough, although there's a lot of entertainment to be had and quality is no doubt high, I'm just not sure I'd reach for a second glass too quickly.
SGP: 473 - 87 points.

 

 

Highland Park 1981/2010 (56%, Mackillop's Choice, cask #6085)

Highland Park 1981/2010 (56%, Mackillop's Choice, cask #6085)
I remember totally adoring the 1980 43% from Mackillop's Choice that I tired recently (WF92), let's see how this one measures up… Colour: gold. Nose: honeyed sweetness alongside herbal cough lozenges, coastal air and very gentle threads of peat smoke. Beautifully aromatic and intricately herbal, further soft medicinal notes and things like wintergreen and tiger balm. Bags of distillery character and totally enchanting. With water: gets sharper and displays more tension, tiny touches of acetic balsamic, mineral salts, leather, many more subtle medicinal vibes and damp hessian cloth. Indeed, with time it seems to just become more 'dunnagey'. Mouth: oily in texture upon arrival and full on resinous herbal peat, salted honey, aged mead, herbal cough medicines once again and things like fir wood resins, camphor, wee briny aspects and mineral oils. Outstanding! With water: perfect now! Wonderfully oily and resinous in texture, soft oily peat smoke, camphor, hessian, natural tar, herbal medicines and wee sooty touches. Finish: long, showing great balance between salinity and oiliness, more herbs, soot, camphor, pickling brine and medicines. Comments: There are many superb modern Highland Parks, especially from the indies. But what sets this apart is that you feel this whisky has real soul, an attribute that extends beyond just technical quality. This is quite different from the 1980 we tried, but I'm not sure it's any less of a whisky.
SGP: 663 - 92 points.

 

 

Highland Park 24 yo 1980/2004 (58%, OB for Park Avenue Liquors, cask #7366, sherry butt)

Highland Park 24 yo 1980/2004 (58%, OB for Park Avenue Liquors, cask #7366, sherry butt)
Colour: amber. Nose: a deep and unctuous old school sherry, wonderfully textural impressions of leather, saltiness, umami paste, game meats, natural tar and exotic hardwood resins. Hugely scented, weighty and extremely classy stuff! With time these aromas of game meats, treacle and salty dark chocolate become more pronounced and distinctive. Gorgeous nose! With water: mint, eucalyptus, menthol tobacco, cherry scented cough medicines, exotic hardwood resins and lapsing souchong tea. Keeps developing layers of complexity and many tiny wee aromas. Mouth: hugely syrupy arrival. Meaty, perfectly herbal, bitter, salty, rather a lot of salted almonds and toasted walnuts, green walnut liqueur and natural tar resins. Perfectly extractive, perfectly meaty and just brilliantly textural and fat in the mouth. There's also this undercurrent of herbal, resinous peat and syrupy medicines which is textbook old school Highland Park. With water: outstanding! We may have to call the anti-maltoporn brigade (it's been a while, have they changed numbers?), a perfect collision of bitterness, umami, salinity and gorgeous flavours of meats, walnuts, coffees, chocolates and spices. Finish: long, herbal, perfectly bitter, saline, spicy, salted Dutch liquorice, natural tar, herbal medicines and more of this resinous HP peat flavour. Comments: 1980 seems to be some kind of borderline vintage for Highland Park, not too sure later vintages were often this luminous or displayed quite the same peat flavour / profile. Anyway, this was a totally brilliant cask. Can't wait to go back to New York and buy a bottle from the good folk at Park Avenue Liquors… 
SGP: 563 - 92 points.

 

 

I feel we must be approaching our 600th Highland Park just about now, so let's make it something very cool and rather special. How about either of these very early SMWS bottlings…

 

 

Highland Park 1979/1991 (55.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #4.10)

Highland Park 1979/1991 (55.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #4.10)
Colour: ruby mahogany. Nose: as they say in Alsace: YOWZERS! Serious, old school, deeply aromatic and scented sherry. Unctuous, dripping with rancio, natural tar, walnut liqueur, Irish coffee and even many crystallised exotic fruits. And of course the usual abundance of sultanas, figs, prunes and raisins as well. What's just wonderful is this simultaneous rustic side that makes you think of some wild and brilliant old Armagnacs. We could very well already be hopelessly lost in maltoporn territory! With water: not a huge change with water, except that it perhaps becomes slightly more aromatic, a few extra spices here, a few extra fruits there. But this is still a wall of rancio and deeply concentrated sticky darkness. Mouth: perfectly thick, stodgy, dark sherry that behaves like a combination of natural tar extract and molasses in your mouth. Stunning rancio, herbal and walnut liqueurs, Maggi, umami paste, black olives and aged cherry sour ale. Just outstanding! With water: developed more medicines, more elegantly tannic black teas, more earth, dates, damson preserve, tar, treacle and more bitter herbal liqueurs. Finish: long, perfectly bitter, almost sticky in texture, endlessly on rancio, tar, roasted nuts, molasses, concentrated dark fruits and more of these wonderful ancient armagnac vibes. Comments: The early days of the SMWS could probably be defined as an ocean of tooth-dissolving petrol, dotted with small archipelagos of some of the most unctuous and go