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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (98)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
29)
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2)
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(3)
Benriach (1
92)
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102)
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81)
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87)
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95)
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69)
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8)
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43)
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406)

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100)
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40)
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57)
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5)
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30)
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105)
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32)
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54)
Dufftown (5
8)

Edradour (90)
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Lagavulin
(1
88)
Laphroaig (4
94)
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
12)
Mosstowie (2
5)
Scapa (51)
Speyburn (
48)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (
405)
St-Magdalene (5
4)
Strathisla (
106)
Strathmill (
53)

 
 
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2004
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1
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1
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1
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1
May
1
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1
January
1

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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
21

 
Whiskyfun

Scotch Legal Announcement


 
 

October 23, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
A few assorted pairs
It's been a while since I did mix and match pairings, it's always a fun way to try whiskies, so let's return to that approach for this weekend. Bit of a mixed bag here though…

 

Benriach 10yo 'Curiositas' (40%, OB, L code L12.10.06)

Benriach 10 yo 'Curiositas' (40%, OB, L code L12.10.06)
I'm no great expert in Benriach L codes, but I suppose that would suggest it was bottled in 2006. Colour: pale gold. Nose: a kind of soft, gently rustic and farmy peat profile. Some light carbolic acidity, hay lofts and some yeasty and slightly basic bready notes. Simple, easy enough and probably a tad boring. Mouth: falls apart a bit here on arrival, I find it a bit sour and with an impression of salty, overly soggy porridge. A rather muted and flat smokiness, malt syrup, cardboard and plasticine. Not great really. Finish: short, slightly mustardy, a touch of pepper, more damp grains, soot and cardboard. Comments: underwhelming. I'd say the good folk at Benriach have issues vastly superior bottlings since these rather unlikely and disappointing batches.
SGP: 453 - 72 points.

 

 

Benriach 11 yo 1994/2005 Heavily Peated (59.7%, Signatory Cask Strength Collection, cask #05/355/1 port pipe finish, 863 bottles)

Benriach 11 yo 1994/2005 Heavily Peated (59.7%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, cask #05/355/1 port pipe finish, 863 bottles)
Colour: rose gold. Nose: farmyard-ish and rather sharp at first nosing. This impression of acidic peat, smoked sea salt, over-cured meats and things like smoky grist and tarred hessian. The port influence isn't immediately in your fact but there is this particular feeling of sharpness and tension which is quite particular to finishes like this in my book. With water: fully on coal smoke, scorched earth, bandages, bonfire embers and more industrial stuff like roof pitch freshly surfaced roads. There's a mild dirtiness which may come from the port but it wraps up pretty well with all this meaty peaty splatter. Heavily peated indeed! Mouth: hot, powerful, very sharp, spicy, prickling with hot alcohols, acidic wash, tar, boiler smoke, dried kelp, chilli sauce and eventually some more umami notes of miso and black olive. It's good but tough. With water: this is better now, still a whole peat stack in here but overall it's easier and with a more luxurious, quilted smokiness. Charred herbs, bonfire smoke, fir cones, herbal cough medicines and some very salty and umami notes like soy sauce and pickling brine. Finish: long, peaty, rather meaty, tarry, ground pink peppercorns, hot smoked paprika and some hints of leather and bouillon stock. Comments: It would be fascinating to try the original pre-finished whisky. Something of a beast and no doubt a lot of fun for peat fanatics. I think the finish here worked pretty well in that you can see it peeping out here and there but it's never too jarring or lopsided. Probably impossible against such a hefty distillate.
SGP: 477 - 85 points.

 

 

Blair Athol 14 yo (46%, North Star 'The Wee Star', PX finish)

Blair Athol 14 yo (46%, North Star 'The Wee Star', PX finish)
Colour: gold. Nose: what I enjoy straight away is the impression that the finishing has been done with a rather light touch. I find quite a lot of 'Blair Atholy' qualities emerging like malt extract, digestive biscuits, fruit loaf, honeydew melon, new leather and heather ales. Feels perfectly rich, malty and robust. Mouth: once again, there's no great feeling of lopsidedness. Rather a pretty elegant herbal profile with winter spices, camphor and touches of rapeseed oil, putty and various dried fruits and nuts. Robust is the word that comes to mind again. I find it very easy and with a lean 'no fat' aspect which is very appealing. Finish: good length, lightly nutty, mentholated, more dried dark fruits and some milk chocolate. Comments: I defy anyone not to enjoy this humble wee Blair Athol. A wee star indeed.
SGP: 561 - 86 points.

 

 

Blair Athol 14 yo (51.1%, North Star, 14 months Mezcal Finish, 72 bottles)

Blair Athol 14 yo (51.1%, North Star, 14 months Mezcal Finish, 72 bottles)
Ah Mezcal finishes, I'm sure we all know and love those old stories of the crofters and early whisky makers re-racking their whiskies into all those Mezcal casks that have traditionally littered the glens and villages of the highlands. Thankfully the SWA have seen fit to recognise the historical use of Tequila and Mezcal casks in line with their own regulations - they might have been accused of hypocrisy otherwise! Colour: pale gold. Nose: a little tight at first, but I do get some impressions of salinity oddly enough. Also green herbs and wee touches of soot and mineral oil. Still feels 'highland' in style but it's a bit closed. With water: chalky, white flowers, pebbles, sunflower seeds. Light, taut cereal structure and more of these gentle mineral oil notes. Mouth: still rather shy and light with lots of greenery such as grass, olive oil and crushed nettles. Cereals, lemon peel and various notes of clay and ointment. Feels almost austere in some respects. I'm not sure I detect any Mezcal, but it is more tight and medicinal for sure. With water: soda bread, canvass, sack cloth, lamp oil, white miso and even something like tofu. Funny stuff! Finish: medium, drying, more cereals, faint medicinal notes, clay, plasticine, camphor and crushed aspirin. Comments: At times it becomes reminiscent of these old, hyper austere Cadenhead AC bottlings. I'm not sure what to make of this, in some ways it's a fine drop, but is it malt whisky? Please send your long, discursive answers on a Tuk-Tuk to North Star Spirits. A hard one to score, worth trying should it cross your path I would say.
SGP: 452 - 84 points.

 

 

Inchgower 13 yo 2008/2021 (55.8%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #800479, hogshead + refill PX sherry finish, 268 bottles)

Inchgower 13 yo 2008/2021 (55.8%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #800479, hogshead + refill PX sherry finish, 268 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather sooty and with a stodgy cakeyness which I find quite nice. Gingernut biscuits, golden syrup, sweet breakfast cereals and a wee scatter of sultanas. This lighter touch from the sherry has worked quite well I think. With water: pretty classical and straight. On honeys, breads, new world beers and a little earthy turmeric tea. Mouth: rather surprisingly vegetal, olive oil cake, muesli, asparagus, honey roast parsnip, sunflower seeds, pumpkinseed oil, hessian and some malt loaf. Quite a big profile. With water: more elegant now, on olive oil, honey on sourdough toast, those sweetish breakfast cereals again and still a glimmer of a more vegetal, earthy component. Finish: medium, a little plasticine, muesli, golden style, cinnamon grahams breakfast cereal. Comments: aren't LOTG getting pretty smart and clever with their finishings?
SGP: 551 - 85 points.

 

 

Inchgower 13 yo 2007/2020 (56%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 297 bottles)

Inchgower 13 yo 2007/2020 (56%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 297 bottles)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: I've always thought Inchgower was an underrated / unnoticed distillate and I can see why Kate and Mark would select such a cask. An immediately very fresh and pure profile, but one that also incorporates quite a bit of character with chalk, white flowers, very light waxy threads, cereals and even wee yellow fruits as well - tiny ripe yellow plums to be precise. I think the word is 'charming'. With water: an almost crystalline and brittle maltiness, sharp cereal tones, lemon peel. This direct and narrow distillate style feels extremely 'Diageo' - which I mean in a good way, it's a style they've perfected I would say. Mouth: nicely sharp, chiselled and quite singular. In some ways it's almost like a totally un-peated Caol Ila (not like the actual 'un-peated' Caol Ilas which are usually rather peaty). Indeed, you do get a feeling of good blanco Tequila as well with these wee green and vegetal touches. Some mineral oil, new leather, soot and soda bread. With water: wee glimmers of aniseed, fennel, peppery watercress and chlorophyl. Finish: good length, some white chocolate and cocoa emerging out of nowhere, otherwise still on pure and white things like chalk, pebbles, flowers and freshly starched linens. Comments: I would say an excellent example of good modern and unvarnished whisky from refill wood. A smart pick I think.
SGP: 461 - 86 points.

 

 

Talisker 'Skye' (45.8%, OB, L6292CM000)

Talisker 'Skye' (45.8%, OB, L6292CM000)
I believe this should be a 2016 rotation. Colour: gold. Nose: a bit flat, a bit simple, something slightly gingery, caramel shortbread, pepper, a hint of sour wood, perhaps a few lemon cough drops. Feels a bit disjointed and meandering without direction. Mouth: sooty and slightly sour smokiness, more gingery warmth, overall there's this impression of unnatural sweetness which may come from a heavy handed dose of caramel - or just overly bombastic oak. Simplistic and a tad empty and disjointed is the overall impression so far. Finish: medium, sweet ginger ale, digestive biscuits, damp hessian, dark grains and cheap beers. Comments: I feel inclined to judge these sorts of bottlings rather harshly. When you can issue something as consistently superb as Talisker 10 - not to mention these excellent Special Release 8 year olds - and then alongside it comes this, it smacks of laziness and a lack of care or interest. What's the point in owning what is inarguably one of the greatest distilleries on Planet Earth if you issue stuff like this? I wouldn't say more recent batches have been an improvement either. Now, I'm aware of the arguments that bottlings such as this are 'not for the likes of me', but I would still argue there's no excuse for poor quality where Talisker is concerned.
SGP: 564 - 76 points.

 

 

Talisker 12 yo (43%, OB, 94cl for duty free, 1970s)

Talisker 12 yo (43%, OB, 94cl for duty free, 1970s)
A rather cool and rare old large format bottle I opened to share with folk after the Whisky Show in London at the start of this month. Pleasingly, it was enjoyed within an inch of its life. Colour: gold. Nose: I've always found these old 12s much more variable than the 8 year olds, however I'm pleased to say this is pretty full of soft waxes, ripe tropical fruits, seawater, really elegant peppery peat smoke and nicely gentle camphory and sheep wool vibes. Beautiful, old style Talisker! Mouth: good arrival, very oily and good weight in the mouth. This feeling of smoked olive oil with seawater, pink grapefruit, thick phenolics, pepper, mineral oil and a rather gravelly minerality. Also quite waxy and slightly mentholated. There's a tiny metallic glimmer of OBE, but it's very minimal. Finish: good length, crystallised exotic fruits, brittle peat smoke, pepper, smoked sea salt, dried seaweed, camphor and hessian. Comments: there's certainly a bit of batch variation in these old 12s, but when they're on form they're indubitably terrific!
SGP: 665 - 91 points.

 

 

Thanks to Iain

 

 

 

 

October 22, 2021


Whiskyfun

Zagatti

Remembering Valentino Zagatti
 

October 21, 2021


Whiskyfun

Laphroaig till the 500th, then more

I just realised that for months, our Laphroaig counter has remained frozen like winter in northern Siberia (hopefully), on 494 different expressions. Time to try to make that 500+ if you don't mind, and to find a proper glory as our #500. No worries, we've got ammo, but first, some apéritif... Expect some randomness too, as too much order can bring boredom and despair (quite). By the way, farewell John Campbell!

Bessie

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

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: always gauze, iodine, bandages, those forgotten hessian jute bags that were stored near the old oil tank, then rather more sweetness, maple syrup perhaps, then just the usual seawater, brine and ashes. Perhaps a little light, but appropriately medicinal. Mouth: very good, brings back memories, with gherkin brine, lapsang souchong, ashes and granny smith. The only problem is that those 40% vol. kind of kill it, as they always did since we first did wee tasting sessions opposing the 40 and the 43. Worlds apart and apologetic looks from everyone at the distillery, back in the days. The good old early Internet days, when some brands hadn't become autistic yet. Finish: nice, very Laphroaig, but disappointingly flattish, which would lead to a dry and cardboardy aftertaste. Comments: coitus interruptus, almost murder. Yet, the distillate is perfect and probably easily worth 88 when at 46% vol. Taxes? What taxes? Don't the other distillers pay taxes too?
SGP:337 - 83 points.

Laphroaig 'Quarter Cask' (48%, OB, +/-2021)

Laphroaig 'Quarter Cask' (48%, OB, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
One of the first official expressions where they cancelled the age statements and started to replace time with wood (and a higher bottling strength indeed). We had thought this was shocking back in the days, but's it true that the end results, in you glass, have been pretty pleasant. Much water has flowed under the bridge since then. Colour: gold. Nose: the 10 was tighter, this one's got more vanilla and bananas from some well-prepared American oak. That roundness first clashes a wee bit with the otherwise rather straight distillate, but all is well in the end, with some lovely medicinal tones, cough syrup, also lemon curd, some marzipan and perhaps a handful of winkles in the background, which adds to the coastalness indeed. Yep, works with cockles and clams too. Mouth: a little too sweet for me now, as if they had further cranked-up the oaky sweetness. The oak really feels, frankly. Some sour fruits. I find it hard and the little 10 really kills it now. Finish: long, too oaky, gingery, bittersweet, with a feeling of white sugar on top of that. I find it pretty dissonant. Comments: all was going well on the nose but this dissonant and 'un-married' palate just didn't work for me. We'll try to try the QC again next year, if God lets us live.
SGP:665 - 78 points.

Let's get our heads right, with…

Williamson 10 yo 2011/2021 (59.9%, Asta Morris, sherry, cask #AM083, 674 bottles)

Williamson 10 yo 2011/2021 (59.9%, Asta Morris, sherry, cask #AM083, 674 bottles) Four stars
Indeed, Williamson is Laphroaig, the name refers to legendary former manager Bessie Williamson (some say she was having an affair with a certain Dutch dentist but shh, we have no evidence). Colour: gold. Nose: but of course. Tighter, purer, pleasantly free of any excessive oak this time, all on seawater, mercurochrome, just peat smoke, seaweed smoke, lemons and gunflints. With water: sharp, millimetric, pure, smoky and medicinal. Those trademark whiffs of new Wellingtons too. Mouth (neat): it is a little sweetly creamy and rich (lemon gums, banana foam) at first but all this smoke and brine definitely save it at 60% vol. With water: further destroys the Quarter Cask, even if it is not the most complex Laphroaig ever. Purity always works. Finish: rather long, very good, with some smoked almonds coming through, as well as bitter oranges. Comments: you won't have to scratch your head here, all is well.

SGP:457 - 87 points.

Williamson 2010/2020 (52.2%, The Whisky Jury, refill barrel, cask #twj-Lph01, 230 bottles)

Williamson 2010/2020 (52.2%, The Whisky Jury, refill barrel, cask #twj-Lph01, 230 bottles) Four stars
The cask # leaves no doubts, should some have remained in our minds. Ah by the way, those Williamsons technically are blended malts. Colour: straw. Nose: even less oak, more tar, more petrol, the floor of an old garage in England, almonds, fresh walnuts, perhaps one olive, and everyone's happy. With water: embrocations. How very Laphroaig. Mouth (neat): closer to the Asta Morris, even if a little purer and tighter yet. Rhubarb juice, marzipan, liquorice wood, lemon… With water: lapsang souchong, ashes, grape pips. Finish: rather long, saltier as expected, and pretty ashy. Would you know of any cough medicine that would be salted? I mean apart from seawater? Comments: check.

SGP:457 - 87 points.

Lp12 2014/2021 (54.7%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 1672 bottles)

Lp12 2014/2021 (54.7%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 1672 bottles) Four stars and a half
Boy was this one young! It's from 2 refill and 2 sherry hogsheads. Colour: white wine. Nose: closer to the raw distillate yet, that is to say with more tincture of iodine, creosote, hessian, seawater and kerosene. Whiffs of fresh-cut grapefruit are adding a kind of lightness. With water: bingo. Pure young Laphroaig without artifice. Utterly love these whiffs of used engine oil. Will future generation even know what engine oil was? Will they use 'recycled batteries' instead? Mouth (neat): oh well done! You feel it's young but what they've been doing with the woods managed to filter-out any unwanted roughness, without imparting any obvious 'oakiness' (as in the official QC). Very lovely, with some menthol that we hadn't encountered before, lime, agave, gentian… Me happy. With water: perfect. Stunning lemon brine, olive oil and sardines, all put together into a tin, fur future picnics 'on Laphroaig'. Finish: rather long, crystalline, perfect. Comments: the mouthfeel was perfect too. We're almost going for 90, at 6 or 7 years of age!
SGP:467 - 89 points.

Time to choose our #500…

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, for Cinzano Italy, unblended, +/- 1985) Five stars
I've tried this one before, but that was in 2004, from another bottle of course, and in the very early days of Whiskyfun. Just like that of Macallan, or say Bowmore, the reputation of Laphroaig has been built on these very old batches, in the case of Laphroaig batches of the 10 (sometimes the 15).

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, for Cinzano Italy, unblended, +/- 1985)

Colour: white wine. Nose: a walk in the woods, surrounded with pine trees, fir trees, eucalyptus, cedar… I'm not sure those trees would grow well together but there, poetic license you know. There's rather less of those tropical extravaganzas that were to be found in other versions of the 10 (Bonfanti, Filippi, Buckingham Vile…) but as far as various embrocations go, you couldn't go any farer than this. Quite some plasticine too. Having said that, I had noticed some mangos back in 2004, but these bottles have now gotten 17 years older, have they not. Mouth: no, there, maracuja and mangos, served with grapefruit and crème de menthe. Touches of sour apples too, but all in all, this old Laphroaig has evolved just like any great wine would have (albeit at a slower pace, naturally). You'll never fin this oily, tertiary kind of complexity in a 'new' bottle. Finish: medium, rather resinous, with a few lovely sappy touches, a discreet smoke and then some fat fish. Not talking about any politicians here. In the aftertaste and as almost always with these bottles, hints of old herbal liqueurs, especially chartreuse 'of course'. Comments: probably not the 'utter best' old Laphroaig 10, partly because it's got a little fragile here and there, but as they say, the legend was en route.
SGP:464 - 91 points.

Good, now that we've had our 500th, we can celebrate… (tsk-tsk, any excuses…) And since we've mentioned Bonfanti and Filippi…

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB for Bonfanti, Italy, screw cap, mid 1970s)

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB for Bonfanti, Italy, screw cap, mid 1970s) Five stars
Pure legend but we've mostly tried Bonfantis at 43% vol. So, this might be a little different… Colour: gold. Nose: I think I can hear the angels sing (but why are thy singing Frank Zappa?) Fruits and vegetables, strictly all of them, this would make Fortnum & Mason's Food Hall look ridiculous in comparison. For example, I'm finding plantain, hops, salsify, jujubes, carrots, prickly pears, papayas, citrons, eggplants, celeriac, pink bananas, avocado, pistachio, lovage, celery, chives, wee white onions, 'plane' mangos… What a soup indeed, this is simply staggering. I think I'll have to go to bed early tonight. Mouth: did you call the Anti-Maltoporn brigade yet? Starts with some unexpected raisins and dried longans, and would go on with myriads of dried, candied, stewed or preserved fruits. Actually, it is rather less on fresh tropical fruits than I remembered, but for example, these dried figs covered with salted honey and butter caramel sauce are probably more addictive than any violent and perverse series on Net-f*****g-flix. And less poisonous. Finish: medium and grand. Those dried figs again. Comments: as we've been asking before, who's broken the mould?

SGP:653 - 94 points.

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB for Filippi Import, Italy, short screw cap, late 1960s)

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB for Filippi Import, Italy, short screw cap, late 1960s) Five stars
Gasp, I think we need air… It's to be noted that the 'short screw cap' is older than the 'long screw cap'. Colour: gold. Nose: I think we'll keep this short. More mangos than on a mango tree, and more medicinal 'things' than in the basement an old abandoned hospital (on Netflix). All essential oils, plant extracts and secret ointments of the creation, some probably long-forgotten. And oh, those mangos! Mouth: floors you, literally. We've had other bottles that had gotten a little drying (remember no two bottles remain the same after so many years) but this one remained perfect, tight, fresh, and eminently mango-y. Maracuja too, dried fish, kippers, grapefruits, a little chalk, lapsang souchong, beeswax, dried longans and rambutans, raisins even… Finish: loses a bit of steam at this stage. We won't blame it. Comments: it lost one point at the finish but there is no need to throw a fit, I suppose.

SGP:654 - 93 points.

Where are we? Ah, there…

Laphroaig 'Old Scotch Whisky' (20 under proof, OB, early 1960s)

Laphroaig 'Old Scotch Whisky' (20 under proof, OB, early 1960s) Five stars
This is a first. It comes from an extremely rare miniature. Colour: gold. Nose: totally different, this time with more roots, celeriac, gentian, carrots, turnips and parsnips, also artichokes… Careful because in my meagre experience, when noses have become like this and however pleasant they may have become, the palates are often wrecked, flat, dead or even foul. Let's check that subito presto… Mouth: Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Halleeeee-lu-jah! No signs of any weaknesses, rather small citrus and dried fruits everywhere, raisins again, mulberries perhaps, figs for sure, camphor and many kinds of old cough medicines (remember, the recipes have been lost), and just, guess what, peat! Beyond that, a very lovely pine-y development, mead, fir honey, roasted pinecones, verbena, and of course, chartreuse. Finish: not that long but you could still feel 'the kiln'. No, really. The aftertaste's pretty medicinal again. Old cough syrups. Comments: what's striking when you try these glorious old malts is that nowhere do you actually feel 'oak', let alone lousy vanilla or worse, vanillin. And in the old 'sherry monsters', you do not feel wine either. Hope there wasn't one mini of this left for the whole world ;-). Incredible peatiness after so many years.

SGP:555 - 95 points.

Good, perhaps one or two newer bottlings now, before we call this a tasting session? We'd also like to revise a few old Laphroaigs Samaroli but we'll do that, say for Christmas.

Laphroaig 1991/2019 (52.1%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, refill bourbon barrel, cask #2652, 265 bottles)

Laphroaig 1991/2019 (52.1%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, refill bourbon barrel, cask #2652, 265 bottles) Five stars
With a kraken on the label. Given the nasty quality of that 'rum' also branded 'Kraken', I would have gone for a different animal instead, perhaps even a blob or a paramecium, but indeed, not my business ;-). Love our whisky friends in Taiwan! Colour: straw. Nose: the utter pleasures of refill wood, without any wood influence as such, this is only wood as 'a facilitator', not as a 'flavouring agent'. Long story short, this is pristine fresh and pure Laphroaig that's taken its time and was never rushed. Superb lemons, seawater, oysters, touch of aniseed, and just hints of caraway and juniper. Luminous and obvious (bravo, S.) With water: best of Pouilly-Fumé. I know I shouldn't always use wine references, that that's too easy, but really, I'm not finding a description better than 'Pouilly-Fumé'. Mouth (neat): fantastic, ultra-tight, salty, ueber-vertical, blade-y. Terrifyingly vertical! With water: cuts you into halves, as we sometimes say. The menthol in the background is flabbergasting too. Chalk, lemon, peat, brine, menthol. Finish: long, ultra-clean, bone-dry, with more ashes and even a feeling of carbon dust. Comments: it sure wasn't easy to come after a Cinzano, a Bonfanti and a Filippi. This wee Kraken (!) came out with a real blaze of glory.
SGP:467 - 91 points.

Another newer old one please…

Laphroaig 30 yo (53.6%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, 344 bottles, 2020)

Laphroaig 30 yo (53.6%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, 344 bottles, 2020) Five stars
There's some cocketry for sure in not stating the vintage while there obviously is one, according to the size of the batch. Or am I missing something? What's sure is that this far, this Kinship series has been nothing short of stellar. But they are humans so they could fail, I'm sure (cavernous and sardonic laughter)…  Colour: light gold. Nose: not this time, apparently. Old books, carbon paper, magazines, plasticine, wood varnish, French beans, mashed peas, carbolineum, brake fluid, kelp, peonies, hibiscus… It sure isn't your 'average' Laphroaig and some transmutations seem to have taken place, but I find this nose stunning this far. Unless it would all go pear-shaped from now on… With water: truffles, mashed potatoes, carbon, newspaper of the day, Brussels sprouts, kelp, oysters. Who said this one would be unusual? Mouth (neat): oh! It is a wrestler on the palate, with some very 'green', almost acidic arrival on concentrated lime juice, some varnish, then a loud and clear feeling of mezcal. Which, as always, leaves me speechless (who said thank God, who?) With water: stunning salty bouillons plus, once again, Pouilly-Fumé, kippers, wax, lemon, and some pink pepper in moderation. Finish: sadly. Comments: they needed 100 years to build cathedrals, you need 30 years to build great whisky. Makes sense, no?

SGP:466 - 91 points
(almost 92).

A last one for the road…

Laphroaig 18 yo 1995/2013 (58.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill bourbon barrel, #29.143, 'Finish Tar Syrup', 226 bottles)

Laphroaig 18 yo 1995/2013 (58.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill bourbon barrel, #29.143, 'Finish Tar Syrup', 226 bottles) Four stars
Finish Tar Syrup? Wouldn't that rather be Finnish Tar Syrup? I would suppose you owe me a beer next time I'm in Edin, dear SMWS! Colour: white wine. Nose: nail polish remover, plasticine, linseed oil, old tarry ropes, carbolineum, mushrooms, damp ashes, mud, plaster. In short, yet another variation on the Laphroaig theme. With water: green apples, cider apples, apple peelings, and just anything apples. Another first on WF, that's brilliant. There's less apple in proper Calvados, if you ask me. Mouth (neat): totally huuuuge! Very aggressive, acetone-y, difficult, extremely dry. Mega-smoke and ashes. Careful with my heart and palate, SMWS! With water: I would say we tamed it, but barely. I would add that you couldn't recognise the make, for it is so deviant, extreme, and, well, varnishy. Have they not rather bottled the boiler's oil by mistake? Do they now grow apple trees behind the distillery? Finish: long, ultra-tight, acetic, acidic, almost chemical at times, and greener then grass. Unexpected touches of coconut wine in the aftertaste (no, really). Comments: fun Laphroaig, totally deviant indeed, and extreme. These are not quite scorable, in truth.

SGP:475 - 85 points.

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

 

October 20, 2021


Whiskyfun

Balvenie twice

I'm not too sure, shouldn't we rather be tasting yet a new Balvenie Tun #XYZ at this time of the year? What's this lousy whisky blogger doing?
In the 2000s Balvenie used to run some 'Balvenie Guy' magazine ads and digital campains, somewhat in the style of Tanqueray's Mr Jenkins. I believe the Balvenie Guy's been sacked in the late 2000s (last tweet, may 22, 2009) ->

Balvenie 21 yo 'The Second Red Rose' (48.1%, OB, 2021)

Balvenie 21 yo 'The Second Red Rose' (48.1%, OB, 2021) Three stars
This one pays tribute to some kind of ancient Britannic female royalty and was finished for 6 months in Australian Shiraz casks. Ah-oh-hum… It's to be noted that there's been a first 'Red Rose' back in 2008, but I don't think we've ever formally tried it. I mean, shiraz/syrah in malt whisky?... Colour: gold. Nose: it is more Balvenie than Shiraz if you ask me, and-we-shall-not-complain. Plums, mirabelles, zwetschke (damson), plus vanilla and croissants au beurre, also quinces and yellow flowers as well as a little nougat and popcorn. Hurray, how very Balvenie! Mouth: you do feel an unusual peony and cherry-led spiciness at first, with wee touches of red bell pepper too, but once again Balvenie's taking over, with lovely plums coated with a little coconut and nutmeg, plus pomegranate sherbet. Yep. To be honest the whole tends to become a tad unbalanced after fifteen seconds, not too sure about this coconut either, but there, it's good fun and life needs differences. Vive les differences! Finish: medium, always with these pomegranates, this bell pepper, these touches of juniper, rosé gin… Comments: not quite for me after all, but again, it's good fun and we all need to see 'la vie en rose'. Quand il me prend dans ses bras…

SGP:651 - 82 points.

Shh, let's get serious…

Balvenie 25 yo 'Rare Marriages' (48%, OB, 2021)

Balvenie 25 yo 'Rare Marriages' (48%, OB, 2021) Four stars and a half
This is the proper new Balvenie 25, not one of those doublewoods or single barrels, you understand? Colour: gold. Nose: fully Balvenie. Touch of nail polish at first, then mirabelles and quinces, then croissant and brioche, then custard and acacia honey. That's all folks, and that was very much already. Mouth: absolutely splendid, perhaps a tad rougher than earlier vintages (the glorious 1970s) but indeed full of plums, yellow ones, green ones… Quinces are there too, sugarcane as well, tiny notes of Victoria pineapple, then just vanilla and the best part of oak. It is not a very complicated malt whisky, it's even a tad simple, but I find it epitomically Balvenie, which is enough for me. I must be on my lucky day. Finish: lovely finish, creamy, ueber-Balvenie-ish, on preserved mirabelles with just a dash of sawdust. Vanilla and barley syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: close to the core. My main problem is that I cannot not remember the early 1970s Balvenies – and the ones before. Balvenie 'As we get it' anyone? Maybe I need some kind of reset.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

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

 

October 19, 2021


Whiskyfun

Couple of Karuizawa for our cause

I was just joking, no need for a cause here. We may even do this quick and with no bells and no whistles, as Karuizawa's just like Port Ellen, we've been quietly quaffing its 'very last drops, cross my heart' since around the year 2005. Those very last drops that last and last and last and last…

Karuizawa

Karuizawa 34 yo 'Ruby Geisha' (58.5%, OB for Elixir Distillers and The Whisky Exchange, sherry, cask #3668, 247 bottles, 2021)

Karuizawa 34 yo 'Ruby Geisha' (58.5%, OB for Elixir Distillers and The Whisky Exchange, sherry, cask #3668, 247 bottles, 2021) Five stars
In theory… Colour: full gold. Nose: sometimes storytellers would claim that the best casks are bottled first, and that the chaff is bottled last. No. Cedarwood, embrocations, new tyres, sour grapefruits, green plums, a drop of benzine, furniture polish, roasted chestnuts, liquorice… With water: hold on, this is very unusual! Sauna oils, washing powder, dairy cream, Woolite, new blanket… You'd almost believe you're wandering throughout the Islay Woollen Mill. Do you know the Islay Woollen Mill? Then lime blossom and some kind of mentholy marzipan. Unusual and fun (and, I would guess, expensive).Mouth (neat): thick and tight, candied, on many tart and acidic dried and candied fruits and herbs. Angelica, lemons, kumquats… A little linseed oil floating around, perhaps wee bits of preserved artichokes, olives… With water: do not add to much water, it's not the first time I'm noticing that Karuizawa does not always swim well. No water is the best water in this case. Gets flattish and cardboardy even after just three drops of H2O. Finish: rather long, with several oils coming out, pine, thyme, eucalyptus… Comments: stunning – as long as you do not add any water, or just a tenth of a drop, if you could do that. Rather tight for a sherried Karuizawa.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

The older sister…

Karuizawa 38 yo 'Ruby Geisha' (54.1%, OB for Elixir Distillers and The Whisky Exchange, sherry, cask #7582, 223 bottles, 2021)

Karuizawa 38 yo 'Ruby Geisha' (54.1%, OB for Elixir Distillers and The Whisky Exchange, sherry, cask #7582, 223 bottles, 2021) Five stars
Colour: darker. Bronze cognac. Nose: more typically sherried Karuizawa, shock-full of oils, plasticine, ointments, Vicks Vaporub, thuja wood, very old chartreuse, also engine oil… Well this is just fantastic, classic old Karuizawa with an obvious and lovely medicinal side. With water: with just two drops, right, fool me once… well it is sauna oil galore! Plus a little miso, umami sauce, other pretty savoury things, soy, perhaps even mothballs, plasticine, new sneakers… Well this one is stunning me, really. Mouth (neat): exceptional, if a tad woody-ish. Massive marmalades and herbal syrups, huge menthol, thujone, angelica, liquorices (I've added an s because that's really various kinds, including crazy salmiak)… Extremely assertive and even dominant, the taster hasn't got much of the say here anyway. With water: oh! Please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade, would you. Like quaffing the greatest green tea ever. Finish: almost eternal. Extraordinary mentholy and medicinal finish, with an oak that's well there after 38 years but that behaves like a real marquess. Stays quiet. Do I not detect kumquats and kaffir in the aftertaste? Comments: I tried hard to keep this short and sweet. It's a stunner.
SGP:472 - 94 points.

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

 

October 18, 2021


Whiskyfun

Time for a little more Glengoyne

Always loved those stories about the Distillery being in the Highlands while the warehouses would lie opposite the road, so in the Lowlands. But I don't think the very wise owners have ever tried to play any kind of marketing spiel with that concept. Anyway, let's kick this off with a newer rendition of the popular 12…

Glengoyne
Glengoyne circa 2005 ->

Glengoyne 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2021)

Glengoyne 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars
I haven't tried the 12 since around 2012. It used to be a very good dram in my book (WF 84). Colour: straw. Nose: pure barley, with touches of citronella and even coriander leaves, a little fresh metal (iron), then wee whiffs of spent grapes (sherry?) and toasted brioche served with custard. Lovely. Mouth: typical entry-level malt whisky that's not that entry-level, sitting somewhat between Glenlivet and Glenfiddich, only with a little more tartness and more grassy herbal teas (cherry stem, peach leaves...) More oak spices tend to come out later on, making it perhaps a tad bitter(ish) and a little sour(ish). Finish: rather long, grassy, with some cinchona, some spritz, ginger beer… Comments: very good, as expected, I'm less a fan of the greeny and spicy palate. I had believed it would be a little rounder.

SGP:461 - 81 points.

Glengoyne 'The Legacy Chapter Two' (48%, OB, 1st fill oloroso sherry, bourbon and refill casks, 2020)

Glengoyne 'The Legacy Chapter Two' (48%, OB, 1st fill oloroso sherry, bourbon and refill casks, 2020) Three stars and a half
Angus had tried Chapter One and has been relatively enthusiastic (WF 85). We've lost an age statement after the 12 but we've earned 5 extra-% vol. Is that a good deal? Let's see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: not unlike the 12 but purer, kind of zestier, with an even nicer tension and more apples. We're immediately reminded of some older bottlings of young Glengoyne, with this very nice freshness. Orange salad, tarte tatin. It's less cakey than older expressions, though. Mouth: two leagues above the 12, with more roundness, maple syrup, triple-sec, butterscotch and shortbreads, apple pie, and only then a little more oak spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and white pepper). Finish: very nice, without less of the bitterish sourness that we had found in the 12. Comments: very nice indeed, but it'd rather have a full-bourbon Glengoyne. These middle-sherried drams are not always extremely fulfilling, I would say.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Perhaps an indie…

Glengoyne 19 yo 1996/2016 (55%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, Château 'Lafitte', 240 bottles)

Glengoyne 19 yo 1996/2016 (55%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, Château 'Lafitte', 240 bottles) Two stars
Ah, the Scots and the names of great wines! Eaglesome/Cadenhead/Springbank had already granted us with some 'Barollo' in the past, this time it is 'Lafitte' while the name of the real great Grand Cru of Pauillac would rather be 'Lafite'. Should we expect some Mooton, Ozone, Margot or Lattour anytime soon? Or why not How-Brion? But yeah, who cares, and what's more, the whisky isn't pink… Colour: amber. Nose: a lot of demerara sugar, tarte tatin once again, black nougat, pancake sauce, then more spices, ras-el-hanout, allspice, then savoury smells, Bovril, sweeter gravy, onion soup… That's all perfectly lovely, without any two-penny red berries from the wine. Having said that, I remember a sister batch that had been terrible on the palate, so we shall see… With water: mushrooms coming out, baked eggplants, meat, copper coins, then a little soapiness. Say Dove (yeah right). Mouth (neat): w.h.a.c.k.y. Huge pepper and ginger mixed with strawberries. Schweppes Strawberry, does that exist? Pass, and quickly… With water: nah, soap and grass all over the place, turmeric, wine gums with pepper, Kriek beer, orange skin.... Finish: rather long, with some sour spices. Comments: I'm sure some friends would have loved this but it just wouldn't work on my poor palate. In my book, this is a good example of why malt and red wine should never meet. It's me. The nose was nicer.

SGP:461 - 70 points.

Back to the OBs…

Glengoyne 36 yo 1984/2021 'Russell Family Single Cask' (50.2%, OB, refill sherry butt, cask #1549, 402 bottles)

Glengoyne 36 yo 1984/2021 'Russell Family Single Cask' (50.2%, OB, refill sherry butt, cask #1549, 402 bottles) Five stars
Once again, we have to thank the Scottish distillers and their families for being ready to part with their personal casks; how very generous, given that what's more, this baby stems from 'the slowest stills in Scotland'. Colour: deep gold. Nose: really a lot of butterscotch and roasted chestnuts at first, chestnut honey too, before Jaffa cakes and pipe tobacco would start to take over, together with a little pumpkin soup and big black raisins (Corinth). Touches of violets, liquorice and menthol, plus some beeswax and just furniture polish in the end. Rather wonderful, elegant…  With water: superb herbs, lemongrass, a wee hint of saponin, spearmint, dandelion syrup, mullein… Mouth (neat): beautifully hot given its age, with a lot of marmalade and dry white in the arrival (vin jaune), walnuts, walnut cake, Seville oranges, then touches of star anise and just yellow chartreuse. Wonderful peppery and slightly piney spiciness. With water: impeccable old vin jaune. Bags of walnuts, with flying colours, a wee touch of mustard and yellow curry, with everything perfect on all accounts. Finish: rather long, beautifully drier, with touches of muscovado and always these splendid walnuts. Old whiskies tend to get a wee tad weaker at this stage, not this one. Love these notes of Spanish ham in the aftertaste (belotta). Comments: pretty sublime old Glengoyne, matured to perfection for the beauty of sport.

SGP:561 - 91 points.

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

 

October 17, 2021


Whiskyfun

Sunday holiday
here's another little bag of (nine) rums...

 

Antilles
This and that, from everywhere in the world and with good faith.

Ron Maja 8 yo 'Anejo Autentico' (40%, OB, El Salvador, +/-2020)

Ron Maja 8 yo 'Anejo Autentico' (40%, OB, El Salvador, +/-2020) one star and a half
Anejo autentico, does that mean that this baby's been aged for 8 years indeed and that that's no fantasy statement? We've only tried one Salvadorian rum so far, a Cihuatan 15/2004 that I had found surprisingly good (WF 85). Colour: gold. Nose: whiffs of glue at fist, which is absolutely not unpleasant, then touches of Bakelite and 'new LP', with some dry molasses and a rather mild oakiness. It is a pretty light nose, certainly not as creepily heady as other South-Americans, on the contrary. Mouth: light and sadly, rather sugary. Really a lot of molasses, caramel, tourist toffee, candy sugar, corn syrup… It's not that its very bad, but it's screaming for a ton of ice. Finish: medium, more on Nescafé with a lot of white sugar inside. Coca-Cola aged in oak. Comments: party rum, I would suppose. Exactly not my definition of a malternative, but as we sometimes say, we've encountered much worse.

SGP:730 - 69 points.

Mc Explorer 2009 (43.5%, House of McCallum, Ruby Port casks finish, +/-2019)

Mc Explorer 2009 (43.5%, House of McCallum, Ruby Port casks finish, +/-2019) Three stars and a half
This an undisclosed single estate Caribbean rum done (well, selected and aged, I suppose) by some distinguished Scots, so I'm asking you, what could go wrong? Colour: apricotty. Nose: the Port is not invading all corners of this little baby, and there are pleasant notes of gasoline, fermenting cane juice, pineapples starting to rot and just liquorice. All that is pretty nice and already a little secondary. Mouth: no invasive sweetness, rather an earthy liquorice, always these notes of gasoline, overripe bananas and even touches of olives. Then molasses and coffee beans, as well as a wee bit of millionaire shortbread. Finish: medium, a little salty. All good. More liquorice and olives. Comments: an interesting little rum, very well composed. I could quaff this without a second thought.
SGP:642 - 84 points.

Let's remain in 2009…

New Grove 2009/2021 'Savoir Faire' (48%, Navigate World Whisky, Mauritius, cask #414, 294 bottles)

New Grove 2009/2021 'Savoir Faire' (48%, Navigate World Whisky, Mauritius, cask #414, 294 bottles) Four stars
A new line of spirits for South-Africa, based, as it appears, on LMDW's pillars, so to speak. Not the worst name in spirits. Colour: amber. Nose: very aromatic, with lovely whiffs of fresh-sawn hardwood, also eucalyptus, cigarettes, touches of earth, garden peat, a little varnish, then rather milk chocolate and ripe bananas and pineapples. Teak oil, sauna… Mouth: holidays in your glass. It is rich, piney, almost terpenic, with loads of liquorice, then rather mango chutney and strong honeys such as chestnut. Touches of violet sweets and old-skool herbal liqueurs. 'Liqueur hygiénique', as our ancestors used to call them. Finish: long and a little tarry, with liquorice still running the show. Dry menthol in the aftertaste. Comments: probably one of, if not the best Mauritian rum I could try until today. Superb body and liquoricy mouthfeel and a heavy-ish wood that's been very well mastered.

SGP:661 - 87 points.

Depaz 'XO' (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2021)

Depaz 'XO' (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2021) Four stars
This is a 'grande réserve', so let's treat this wee agricole with respect. Depaz is a very old company as they started making sugar as early as in 1635. The Distillery is located on the feet of the Montagne Pelée, that volcano that erupted in 1902 and totally destroyed a city of 30,000 souls. Colour: deep amber. Nose: oh so very agricole, so rather more complex than others but also a little less focussed (obviously), with orange zests and touches of camphor, soft liquorice, then damson tarte and flowers, peonies, heady wallflowers, plus some very obvious whiffs of menthol cigarettes as well as echoes of new tyres… Mouth: malty! Really, and I would suspect that comes from the wood. Other than that, some lovely orange liqueurs, pine, apple juice, even cider and applejack, cane juice, tobacco… Having said that I find the body a tiny tad thin. Once again, it is complex but it would tend to go into too many directions. Perhaps…Finish: medium, a little earthier. Dry aftertaste, oak. Comments: very good for sure, it would just lack the 'compactness' of, say a Neisson. No new Neissons currently in the boxes, most sadly… boo-hoo-hoo…

SGP:451 - 85 points.

WP Distillery 14 yo 2007/2021 (54.5%, Morisco Spirits, Jamaica)

WP Distillery 14 yo 2007/2021 (54.5%, Morisco Spirits, Jamaica) Five stars
It is pretty obvious that WP means 'Welcome Pack', no? Colour: gold. Nose: yeah smoked olives, crushed oysters, diesel oil, Tesla batteries (you have to upgrade your tasting vocabulary, don't you) and anchovies kept in vanilla-ed brine. And why not, please? With water:  same. Wonderful. Perhaps wee whiffs of vetiver? I find this rather a little sublime, you could put a few drops behind your ears before any date. Anchovies and sardines too (I mean, not before a date!) Mouth (neat): lime juice and seawater plus olive brine, cough medicine, mouthwash and custard. I'm finding rather more vanillin than in other Worthy Parks (oops). With water: perfect. There's a kind of rectitude that's more unusual in HMDN or NYTH or CLRND/MNSK, I would say. Lovely WP! Finish: long, clean, on salty lime and olive-y anchovies. Boy am I not hungry now, let's toast a few slices of rye bread… Comments: superb, just superb. Goes with the best middle-aged Islays.
SGP:463 - 90 points.

Foursquare 19 yo 'Redoutable' (61%, OB, bourbon and Madeira, Barbados, 2020)

Foursquare 14 yo 'Redoutable' (61%, OB, bourbon and Madeira, Barbados, 2020) Five stars
As old Jacko (Chirac) would have said, this is provocation! I mean, releasing a rum that's bearing the name of a French nuclear submarine, right now! May I suggest, for some next bottlings, 'Le Triomphant', 'Le Téméraire', 'Le Vigilant' or 'Le Terrible'? De nada, be my guest… Colour: amber. Nose: typically Foursquare, that is to say pretty assertive, with both a heavy-ish and a lighter style well combined, plus, as I observed several times already, something agricole. Praline, maple syrup, bananas flambéed, some softer earthiness and touches of camphor and menthol. In truth it is a little subtler than a French nuclear submarine. By the way, need one? Just ask… With water: rather a lot of wood glue, then vetiver again and again. Teak, eucalyptus wood, carbon dust, nut shells. Mouth (neat): varnish, bourbon, brine, liquorice. Nothing abnormal at 61% vol. With water: takes off now, with citrus and glues and varnishes and brines. Olives, samphire, capers, anchovies… Possibly one of my favourite Foursquares, to be honest. I enjoy heaviness (is that an official statement, S.?) Finish: very long, certainly saltier than other Foursquares. Comments: a kind of Jamaican Foursquare, hope I'm not ruffling anyone's feathers here. Rather redoutable indeed.

SGP:463 - 90 points.

Caroni 23 yo 1998/2021 (59.2%, Thompson Bros., 286 bottles)

Caroni 23 yo 1998/2021 (59.2%, Thompson Bros., 286 bottles) Four stars
Aged for 11 years in Trinidad and 12 years in the UK. Not sure anyone could tell, beyond any marketing talk and spiel, but there. Colour: amber. Nose: relatively light, varnishy, sour, with notes of Barbour grease and with very heavy terpenes as well as notes of ueber-gamey, err, game. Grouse? Extremely unusual this far. With water: pine essence, carbolineum, marrow soup, very old Spanish jabugo, plasticine, artichokes, eggplants. Extreme, really, would make any Port Ellen feel like Glenkinchie ex-refill. Mouth (neat): I don't know. Eating your rubber boots while drinking benzine. Extremely dry and challenging – the Kronos Quartet playing Captain Beefheart. With water: same, it is extreme and plastic-like. I had thought plastics would have become streng verboten? Finish: long and extremely dry. Carbon. Comments: I don't know what to say, I've lost all references. Not for the faint-hearted, that's for sure. I'll add a score because I have to, but there.
SGP:375 - 85 points.

Hampden 29 yo 1990+1992/2021 'JMH' (57.7%, Rum Sponge, Decadent Drink, Jamaica)

Hampden 29 yo 1990+1992/2021 'JMH' (57.7%, Rum Sponge, Decadent Drink, Jamaica) Five stars
A label with a sponge swimming in a muck pit. I say these labels will end up in museums, next to Brueghel, Bosch and Grünewald. You may just trash the liquid and keep the labels, that's where the real value lies. Now, since we've gone this far, I've just never, ever heard of any 'JMH' marque at Hampden. What's up, Sponge? … Colour: gold. Nose: new Pirellis. Fatter than the WP, saltier as well, more bouillony, with more varnish for sure, dead animals, barely alive vegetables, and wee whiffs of natto. Natto kills, all right? With water: carbon, olives and plastics, mixed then burned. Spread with pine needles and sriracha sauce. Mouth (neat): it's hard to fathom that this would be 30 years old, really. Heavy, salty, gritty, ueber-estery, carbony, plastic-like, extreme, I'm sure there are E.T. molecules in there. This cannot be human, let's call the Pentagon. With water: almost chemical. Exxon? Veedol? Total? The band Devo's own drink. Remember Devo? Finish: long and, curiously, a little gentler. Thanks to citrus fruit, saviours of the spirits world. But was this fuel-smoked bacon necessary in the aftertaste? Comments: utterly love this baddish eventful rum and hate the Sponge. Frank Zappa in a bottle.
SGP:474 - 90 points.

Good, a very last one, and why not make it a little classy? Old Versailles, agreed?

Versailles/Enmore 30 yo 1990/2021 (54.2%, Greenheart Collection, Guyana, 235 bottles)

Versailles/Enmore 30 yo 1990/2021 (54.2%, Greenheart Collection, Guyana, 235 bottles) Five stars
From the famous single wooden pot still that was located at Enmore when this was distilled. A.F.A.I.K. it had been at Versailles before and was then moved to Enmore, then from Enmore to Diamond. But nothing to do with the French kings, I would suppose… Now I love this very Gallic quote, 'Has God forgotten all I have done for Him?' (Louis XIV). Big head indeed, Macron is the same (saying that as an Alsatian). Anyway, back to this Versailles… Colour: straw. Nose: oh, oak shavings, charcoal, coriander, aniseed, fennel seeds, whelks and razorfish, fresh almonds and pears, rye bread, sandalwood, lemongrass… It is all extremely subtle, and indeed some kind of anti-Hampden. I cannot not think of the greatest white Pessacs. Old Laville, if that rings a bell. With water: great news, no changes whatsoever. Takes water like a champ. Sublime. Mouth (neat): but this is sublime indeed! Embrocations, all old kinds of plastics, smoked salmon, kippers, sesame, pine nuts, herbal oils, pine liqueurs, bone-dry herbal liqueur (unsweetened chartreuse), embrocations, cedarwood… My this is endless and a tribute to time. Nothing can beat time. With water: careful with water, other than that, this is perfect soft liquorice with a little mint. We need to bow. Finish: not that long but all these resins and oils are just flabbergasting. This saltiness in the aftertaste very much so as well. Comments: remember, time is a key ingredient to aged spirits, only i****s would deny that and say otherwise. As always, try to figure out who's profiting from the crime. There.

SGP:562 - 92 points.

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

 

October 15, 2021


Whiskyfun

New cats

Ardnamurchan are doing great, are they not? We'll have two of them, including an indie (by Adelphi, LOL), and then a new distillery I've never ever heard of. And I feel shame…

Inchdairnie
InchDairnie (photo InchDairnie) ->

Ardnamurchan AD/04:21 'Paul Launois Release' (57.6%, OB, 2576 bottles, 2021)

Ardnamurchan AD/04:21 'Paul Launois Release' (57.6%, OB, 2576 bottles, 2021) Four stars
This baby was finished in Champagne casks from the very good house Paul Launois in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Remember Champagne is double-fermented, first they make a 'clear' wine in cuves or sometimes oaken casks such as small foudres or even pièces, then they fill the bottles for the second fermentation. Anyway, indeed they sometimes use oak casks in Champagne. Colour: light gold. Nose: crazy Champagneness that mingles extremely well with the bready smells of the malt. Frankly, I rarely find wine finishes really good, but this time it's a hit. Mashed peas, white truffle, salsify, chardonnay, pancake, focaccia… Wow wow wow, a perfect partnership for once! With water: back to dough, bread, pumpernickel…  Mouth (neat): perhaps a little too much ginger from the oak, but other than that, and even if we may have left malt whisky territories, this tight and mineral palate is rather superb. This really is a Champagne-malt. With water: lemons, porridge and pancakes with drops of chartreuse and limoncello. Finish: long, perhaps a tad too gingery now but we shan't care. Comments: you do feel the (probably French) oak but the freshness is impeccable. Great partnership indeed, even if the pushy ginger made it lose one or two points.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

So an indie Ardnamurchan, really?

Ardnamurchan 5 yo 2015/2020 (59.3%, Adelphi with Charles Maclean, casks #332/333, 1333 bottles)

Ardnamurchan 5 yo 2015/2020 (59.3%, Adelphi with Charles Maclean, casks #332/333, 1333 bottles) Four stars
By rule, anything by or with Charles Maclean ought to be nothing but stellar. Of course Ardnamurchan and Adelphi are working hand-in-hand. Colour: deep gold. Nose: old coal stove, roasted chestnuts, garden peat, petrichor, coal tar, camphor, embrocations, pencil shavings, charcoal. Are you okay with that? With water: wood oils, thuja, new teak, whiffs of fresh yoghurt, cowshed, farmyard… Mouth (neat): extremely rich, and yet tight, ueber-lemony, gingery, with huge lemon marmalade and quite some turmeric. Tends to bite your lips, not a bad feeling mind you. With water: same-ish, just a little grassier and with even more green oak. Ginger tea all right. Finish: very long, almost acidic, with some roots, ginseng, turmeric… Lemons keep it inside the lines. The aftertaste is rather medicinal. Comments: would you believe that they wouldn't even have told you about those casks? In any case, 1333 bottles from two casks hint at butts or puncheons. Great young whisky, same score. Oh and once again, the labels are sponsored by Scottish ophthalmologists.
SGP:562 - 87 points.

And now a first…

InchDairnie 4 yo 2016/2021 'Strathenry' (60.5%, The Whisky Barrel, bourbon barrel, cask #TWB1017)

InchDairnie 4 yo 2016/2021 'Strathenry' (60.5%, The Whisky Barrel, bourbon barrel, cask #TWB1017) Four stars
This baby from Fife comes with a lot of funny mentions, such as 'Voyager 2' or a certain 'Gateway to the Ice-Giants' (what?). As for InchDairnie, a first on WF,  they say they have 'one of the most meticulously designed distillation processes in the world' while adding that 'any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.' Are we all depressed now? Seriously, let's keep an open mind, you never know and the Distillery's pretty serious and… big. By the way, Srathenry is the name of their 'blending malt'. Colour: light gold. Nose: it is a regular, nice, bready, malty, serious malt whisky. Black nougat, chicory coffee, Mars bar, butterscotch and caramel toffee. Not very singular but pretty flawless. With water: tarte tatin made with pears instead of apples. Mouth (neat): good young malt whisky with pears, caramel, panettone and then more pears. Love these pears. With water: very very good despite those meagre four years of ageing. The wood was well cared-of while the distillate seems to be both rather thick and well-carved. It is a Lowlander, mind you. Finish: medium, with touches of lemon complementing all those caramelised pears. Comments: feels like heavy char wood, while those almost Rochelt-quality pears are rather extraordinary. I'm not too fond of the blurb on the Distillery's website, but as they say in Westminster, the proof is in the pudding while the pudding is very nice. Rather impressed, I am; mind you, 4 years.
SGP:551 - 86 points.
 

October 14, 2021


Whiskyfun

Even more Highland Park

As usual, some disclosed, some secret. Let's proceed…
Read Hägar the Horrible! (Dik Browne) ->

Highland Park 15 yo 'Viking Heart' (44%, OB, 2021)

Highland Park 15 yo 'Viking Heart' (44%, OB, 2021) Four stars
This is the new one that's bottled in some kind of yellow/white ceramic that may let some absent minded enthusiasts believe it is Advocaat. Or Bailey's. Quite. Looks like it is a permanent addition to the range. Colour: light gold. Nose: awesomely coastal, rather peatier, with oysters, seawater, grapefruits and lemon zests. Touches of cinchona and a little soot too, I would say it is clearly a modern, smokier Highland Park. We like these. Forgot to mention green oranges or even that eau-de-toilette that Hermès are making of them. I'm fond of this nose. Mouth: indeed, the peat was 'boosted'. This Highland Park has officially become a peaty whisky in my book, with a smokiness that's pretty much of Talisker level, in my opinion. A very good drop despite some seasoned sherry that's a little leafy, with lemons, bitter oranges, some cinchona and cinnamon, ginger tonic… Finish: medium, smoky, with some ginger, salt, and drops of cough syrup. Seawater. Comments: I would say the 'sherry' was a tad unnecessary and may get in the way, but other than that, I'm totally fond of this 'new' style.

SGP:454 - 86 points.

Highland Park 'Cask Strength Batch 2' (63.9%, OB, 2021)

Highland Park 'Cask Strength Batch 2' (63.9%, OB, 2021) Four stars
From sherry seasoned European and American oak casks. Sherry seasoned European oak can be tricky in my book, hope this won't have become too leafy or even leathery. Having said that, batch #1 of the C/S had been very good, in my opinion (WF 86). Colour: gold. Nose: not as smoky as the 15, rather more on sponge cake, caramel, fudge, butterscotch, stewed fruits or the trademark heather honey… With water: creamy honeyness and many stewed fruits and jams, especially our beloved quinces, also apples and pears. A perfect coastal side too, sea spray, even some iodine, mercurochrome, ointments… What's really great is that no clumsy sherry gets in the way, it's all well-integrated. Mouth (neat): I think I like it but I'm sure it is extremely strong. With water: more smoke and more coastalness. A tad too much on the leafy-sherry side indeed for me, with some bell pepper and even, say artichokes, but the general feeling remains extremely positive. All you need to do is to add the proper amount of water - no, zero water is not an option here. Finish: long, perhaps a tad too leafy and peppery at this point, which will make it lose one or two points in my book. Comments: a tad rough and rustic here and there, but it is to my liking. I have the feeling, not only at HP, that some newer sherry-seasoned casks have become leafier and more peppery, I don't know why. Because of European oak? Tonnelerias making them faster? Just a gut feeling...

SGP:452 - 85 points.

Indies, the floor is yours…

Secret Orkney 16 yo 2005/2021 (58%, Oxhead Whisky Company for Dram-Addicts, cask #7, 261 bottles)

Secret Orkney 16 yo 2005/2021 (58%, Oxhead Whisky Company for Dram-Addicts, cask #7, 261 bottles) Five stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: classic medicinal, mineral and lemony profile, very pure, very fresh, with lovely notes of sourdough. I would suppose this is blending stock, well blenders have it good. With water: more sourdough, more chalk, more live seafood (clams spring to mind, so to speak). Damp grist. Mouth (neat): superb, salty, lemony, with a lovely creamy fatness (limoncello) and all things from the sea, plus a lot of chalk, limestone, oysters… With water: exceptional doughy, salty and lemony development. Hard to beat here at Château WF. Finish: long, saltier. Quaffing seawater enhanced with lime liqueur. More or less that. Comments: long tasting notes are not always needed. Just wondering, do the owners do a version of their regular 10 à 40%, only at cask strength? I say this fantabulous zesty make needs no sherry, there. Oh and I'll say it, were I the owners, I'd be proud to see such a stunning bottle, whether indie or not, carry my brand name.
SGP:563 - 91 points.

Yet…

St Ola 15 yo 2006/2021 'Apollo 14' (61.8%, The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill PX sherry, 316 bottles)

St Ola 15 yo 2006/2021 'Apollo 14' (61.8%, The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill PX sherry, 316 bottles) Three stars and a half
A bottling also named 'Miles & Miles & Miles', but does that have anything to do with The Who or even with Miles Davis? Probably not, but let's still check whether this little HP in disguise is, uh, stratospheric… Colour: gold. Nose: no huge loads of clumsy PX, that's sorted. Rather this mineral and medicinal arrival on the nose, and a feeling of smoked crystallised oranges with a little tonic water. Not too sure though, because mind you, 61.8% vol.! With water: something Indian here, or chutney-y, on top of the usual wonderful coastal minerality. Oysters and mussels stewed in curry sauce; they do that, don't they? Mouth (neat): ueber-creamy, just a tad too spicy, gingery, leathery… Huge, clearly excessive oak spices but I would hope that goes away once water's been added. With water: not totally but we are relatively fine. Heavy ginger and curry from the cask (scratched and charred?) with one good news, the spirit's big enough to have stood that rather extreme concoctiony (what?) treatment. Finish: long, the spirit starting to have the upper hand, with lemon and lime plus seawater and chalk. Comments: very modern. Now the drinker has his/her say too, as long as he/she's a proper pipette slinger ;-).

SGP:563 - 84 points.

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

 

October 13, 2021


Whiskyfun

A Chichibu Trio

Not much to add about Chichibu, luminous malt when it's au naturel (BB, refill), sometimes a little whacky (and unnecessary) when kept or aromatized in unlikely casks… But never, ever boring. Grand Cru of Japan, for sure.

Chichibu 10 yo 'The First Ten' (50.5%, OB, 5,000 bottles, 2020)

Chichibu 10 yo 'The First Ten' (50.5%, OB, 5,000 bottles, 2020) Five stars
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is the first ever Chichibu 10 years old. If you take into account that old whisky saying that used to go like 'no ten no deal', it could actually be the first real 'Chichibu'. Well, I mean, I know what I'm trying to say… Colour: gold. Nose: sound, you drums! Ring out, you trumpets! For it is a pure Chichibu, with only a little vanilla, custard and crushed banana coating a very pure 'old eau-de-vie de barley'. What we like, even if, or perhaps because it's not spectacular at all. Lovely breads and lemon curd. With water: pancakes, pita, broken branches, grist. Mouth (neat): full-textured, creamy, starting with more lemon curd, grapefruit liqueur, raw barley, then we find maize bread and indeed bananas. Very compact and pretty perfect. With water: a little citrus and a touch of eucalyptus, no other changes. Not that we needed any. Finish: medium, clean, sweet and bready. A tad hoppy, perhaps. Comments: I would suppose some fine folks would find it a little gentle and even one-dimensional, well in my book and in these very cases, that's a clear asset. A pure, simple and clean expression of unpeated Chichibu!
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Chichibu 'London Edition 2021' (OB, for The Whisky Exchange, 1859 bottles)

Chichibu 'London Edition 2021' (51.5%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange, 1859 bottles) Five stars
I couldn't spot the strength on the bottle but there is Big Ben so this is well London (it was Big Ben or Boris, so they chose wisely). I shall amend as soon as more data reach me (now updated, thanks Werry). Colour: gold. Nose: deeper, more profound, with more herbs, camphor, eucalyptus, a little rubber smoke (burning tyres), a fantastic leafiness (eucalyptus indeed), a touch pf Barbour grease and wee whiffs of new electronics. Yeah, if you like, new iPhone. With water: rubberwood, teak oil, graphite, pencil, this grist that we love so much… Mouth (neat): some tight peat and some even tighter lemons and grapefruits. Totally blade-y, millimetric, perfect. With water: woo-hoo! Pure lime juice with a few drops of seawater. Ite Missa est. Finish: long, chiselled, ultra-pure, blade-y. Sends shivers down your spine, as only the greatest dry chenins blancs would do. A tiny idea of some coconut in the aftertaste. Comments: immaculate and totally straightforward. Grand peaty Chichibu.
SGP:465 - 91 points.

Chichibu 2007/2021 'Ken's Choice' (59%, OB, for Ken's Bar Hiroshima, Instrumental Trumpet #3932, 300 bottles)

Chichibu 2007/2021 'Ken's Choice' (59%, OB, for Ken's Bar Hiroshima, Instrumental Trumpet #3932, 300 bottles) Three stars and a half
This is pretty complicated, as this little Chichibu was first matured in Kentucky from 2007 to 2014 (why?) then at Chichibu's in Japan, between 2014 and 2021. Hold on, is it actually a Chichibu? Is it not a Transworld bourbon? Let's check that… Colour: deep gold. Nose: uh. Varnish, acetone, pancake sauce, vanillin and coconut water, that's not very Chichibu to say the least. With water: oak oils, new plywood. Mouth (neat): bourbon. Not a bad one, mind you. Rather rich, varnishy, with some nougat and some kind of concentrated corn syrup. A little too sweet and syrupy for me. With water: good, sweet, richer, with oranges, a ryeness, maple syrup. Finish: medium, same, sweet, syrupy. Not sickly sweet though. Comments: I may have missed something here. Is it a 'Chichibu' only because it partly aged at Chichibu? A very good drop nonetheless, but I wasn't quite ready for some bourbon. I think I'll distil the cheapest apples I'll find and then ship the barrel to Brora Distillery. And presto, some Brora! (no?) Seriously, I'm sure I've missed something here, it's a solid bourbon.
SGP:740 - 84 points.

Good, we'll soon try the Parisian Chichibus, but in the meantime, stay healthy!

 

October 12, 2021


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Balblair

 

The fruitiest malt in the north of Scotland! Lovely place, people and whisky, we still have the tastes of that insane official 1966 in our mouth (38yo/2004), surely a bottle to watch at auctions. No wait, please don't…

(Photo Balblair)
Balblair Distillery

Balblair 25 yo (46%, OB, +/-2021)

Balblair 25 yo (46%, OB, +/-2021) Four stars and a half
I believe, but I could be completely wrong, that this is a newer batch of the 25. We've never tried the 25 anyway, by the way, but all things come to him who waits (yeah, in books or movies). Colour: deep gold. Nose: herbal teas, overripe apples and pears, and a little metal polish, then the expected bananas and papayas. Some kind of Chinese spiciness too (or is that jasmine?) and greengage jam. Long story short, it is a lovely nose, complex, mature, elegant and fresh. Mouth: starts with a little mentholy oakiness, pinewood perhaps, fir honey… Gets geared towards the trademark tropical fruits after that, as well as hectolitres of various herbal teas, some of them pretty mentholy. There really is a feeling of good old wood in this one, which would make you believe it's pretty older (like 35). The aforementioned 1966 was brighter and fruitier, for example. Dried figs and dates joining the fiesta after a good minute or so. Finish: medium, with a touch of salt, chestnut jam, herbal teas and a rather lovely earthiness in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps not as utterly brilliant as some other old Balblairs – so perhaps not Concorde-quality - but we're already flying very high.

SGP:561 - 88 points.

Balblair 40 yo (42.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #1346, 152 bottles, +/-2010)

Balblair 40 yo (42.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #1346, 152 bottles, +/-2010) Four stars
I tried this baby when it came out but I think I kind of missed it (WF80, no proper tasting note). Let's try it again, eleven years later… Colour: gold. Nose: certainly a tropical fruit bomb, with papayas, mangos and passion fruits upfront, candlewax just behind them, and then wormwood, or artemisia, angelica, green tea, pine needles… I am, at times, reminded of that old 1966 that I may have mentioned before (you already did twice, S.) Mouth: the oak's more prominent, giving it a mentholy/piney arrival that's not without remind me of the newer official 25. Goes on with banana and peach skins, as well as these tiny touches of paraffin once again. Artisanal citron liqueur, a wonderful Corsican thing that I would wholeheartedly recommend you (they call it 'cédrat' instead of 'citron'). Finish: good length, fresh, tropical, citrusy, with more tea again in the aftertaste. Comments: much better than I remembered it. We tried it during an Old & Rare masterclass last year, we may try it again around the year 2022.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

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

 

October 11, 2021


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Rosebank

Let's have two nice older triple-distilled juices while waiting for the new Distillery's first drops. I'll have to ask distinguished owners Ian MacLeod about their current schedule… In the meantime…

Rosebank 21 yo 'The Roses - Fascination' (49.5%, Specialty Drinks for The Whisky Exchange, Edition Five, Madeira cask, 633 bottles, 2021)

Rosebank 21 yo 'The Roses - Fascination' (49.5%, Specialty Drinks for The Whisky Exchange, Edition Five, Madeira cask, 633 bottles, 2021) Five stars
This baby, according to the wonderful retro label, is supposed to be 'for contemplation' and to 'change from sip to sip'. This series is released every year to celebrate Valentine's Day (Feb. 14), which can only please me (LOL). Naturally, as Rosebank Distillery closed in 1993, this recent bottling cannot quite be 21 years old, that's probably a matter of London coquetry or something. Colour: light gold. Nose: you feel the Madeira upfront, which is much more pleasant than you would believe. Some kind of sweet mustard sauce mixed with sultanas, I would say, but Rosebank's citrus does the cavalry, with pink bananas, tangerines, viognier, young Sauternes and then a drop of chartreuse. Nutshell: lovely! Mouth: punchier than you would have expected, with once again these notes of Madeira sauce, a little leather, tobacco, some saltiness, then the lemons chime in, together with orange blossom honey, earl grey, cane syrup, perhaps curaçao, jelly babies and quite some lemon curd. Lovely 'nervous' sweetness which reminds me of some proper riesling vendanges tardives. Finish: medium, on pretty much the same flavours and some slightly spicy/salty honeyness in the aftertaste. Comments: you could have wondered why one would have buried a Rosebank under Madeira. The answer might be: it wasn't really buried.

SGP:651 – 90 points.

Rosebank 30 yo 1990/2020 'Release 1' (48.6%, OB, refill casks, 4350 bottles)

Rosebank 30 yo 1990/2020 'Release 1' (48.6%, OB, refill casks, 4350 bottles) Five stars
It is rather fantastic that the new owners could gather enough old Rosebank to be able to release such a large batch of 30 yo. Colour: gold. Nose: it really is the 'Fascination' minus the Madeira. Which means that it may be a tad less complex, but on the other hand this pristine herbal citrusness is just amazingly fresh, and pure indeed. A little fennel, aniseed, rhubarb, cider apples, oranges, gooseberries and then just vine peaches. Oh and citrons (you know, cédrat, cédratine and stuff) and pure fresh-pressed cane juice. Mouth: just perfect, vertical, all on lemons and granny smith, then those vine peaches again. Rather oily mouthfeel. I wouldn't say it is very complex, but it is very perfect, almost abstract, moving very elegantly. Some mobile-whisky by Alexander Calder, perhaps. Finish: medium, ultra-clean, this is almost some kind of best limoncello in the world. Or there, a kind of Limoncello spritz (limoncello, cane syrup, Perrier and really a lot of champagne). Comments: probably one of the most spectacular uncomplicated distillates in Scotland, just the opposite of the other great Distillery in the Lowlands, the sorely missed St Magdalene.

SGP:651 - 90 points.

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

 

October 10, 2021


Whiskyfun

Malter-native French brandies

Martell
We have several wine brandies here in France but we'll only have armagnacs today, and maybe cognacs too. Let's just proceed…

Dartigalongue 'Double-Oaked Armagnac' (43.3%, OB, Bas-armagnac, +/-2021)

Dartigalongue 'Double-Oaked Armagnac' (43.3%, OB, Bas-armagnac, +/-2021) Three stars
Dartigalongue is a great, great house but I don't quite know what to think of this young armagnac that's making sheep's eyes at modern malt whisky. I just hope they'll keep it 'double' and never go 'triple', not to mention sevenfold (we're looking at you, Isle of Jura). By the way this little double is a blend of the three main grape varietals, baco, ugni blanc and folle blanche. Colour: gold. Nose: do we really feel the oak supplement? Perhaps in these touches of nutmeg and cinnamon, or in these notes of tropical fruits (bananas), but other than that, I'm rather getting rose petals, peach skins, and some slightly mentholy sultanas. A little thyme honey too, I would say, as well as roasted sesame. Pretty fresh, joyful, and just lovely. Mouth: the oak's a little louder on the palate, as this was poured twice into new oak. You really have to enjoy cinnamon and ginger (rolls), sweet paprika sauce, ras-el-hanout… Having said that, raisins and peaches are keeping the upper hand. Phew. Finish: medium, a little drying. Cinnamon powder. Comments: really good, in fact, but we could almost call this maltagnac at times. Or armagnac with exposed beams. Apologies.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Château de Lacquy 2007 'Baco 100%' (48%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #318, +/-2021)

Château de Lacquy 2007 'Baco 100%' (48%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #318, +/-2021) Three stars
A very old house that was founded in 1711, in the Landes. It's said to be the oldest producer still in activity while they grow their own vines on 25 hectares. This is pure baco, probably #22A. Colour: bright green gold. Nose: it is not a very aromatic armagnac but this tightness works just great and indeed, would make it resemble some malt whiskies here and there, with some citrus, grapefruits, hints of cigarette tobacco, walnut skins, a drop of olive oil and even a little wholegrain bread… Mouth: very citrusy and liqueury, I couldn't not mention our beloved artisanal limoncellos and citron liqueurs. A touch of icing sugar, candyfloss, even banana foam, then that wholegrain bread yet again and a littler coffee. Crunching beans. Finish: a little more oak-driven, with many spices and a feeling of rye and some sweeter buckwheat. Cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: the breadiness is a little unusual here, you could almost think of some rye whisky. I find it very good too.
SGP:561 - 82 points.

What's great is that Lacquy also have other single-varietals in the same vintage…

Château de Lacquy 2007 'Folle Blanche 100%' (48%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #8, +/-2021)

Château de Lacquy 2007 'Folle Blanche 100%' (48%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #8, +/-2021) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: everything is 'more' here, more roundness, more jams, more honeys, more camphor and menthol, more maple syrup, more stewed peaches, a very lovely mashy side (turnips?) and then of course, the expected raisins. Also williams pears. Mouth: so different from the baco! There's more action here, more tropical notes (litchis, gewurztraminer), a little more earth too, a curious touch of varnish that would hint at bourbon, perhaps, and then really a good lot of liquorice, with touches of violets (sweets). Finish: rather long, perhaps a little rustic now, but then again this is an asset. Grapes stewed in liquorice sauce. Comments: I'm rather a fan of this folle blanche. It's fascinating to be able to check the differences between the two varietals, but then of course, no two casks are the same anyway.
SGP:661 - 86 points.

And then, naturally…

Château de Lacquy 2007 'Colombard 100%' (48%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #235, +/-2021)

Château de Lacquy 2007 'Colombard 100%' (48%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #235, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
I'm not even sure I've ever tried a 100% colombard (not mentioning wine here, of course). Colour: richer gold. Nose: I'm finding more oils this time, marzipan, sunflower oil, then orange blossom and honeysuckle, heather honey, maraschino, yellow peaches,  dandelions… Mouth: I'd dare call this one a little 'cognacqy', with rather more honeys, raisins and syrups (cane), then herbs such as wormwood and a little marmalade. A kind of earthy liquorice in the background, and indeed a growing earthiness. You do feel some tension in the back, although you would also find a little burnt sugar. Finish: medium, with some grassiness, fruit peel, liquorice wood in the aftertaste… Comments: frankly, I like them all. It's the liquorice that's a little more spectacular in this one.
SGP:561 - 83 points.

Let's move to Cognac and go somewhat vertical…

Maison Prunier 45 yo 1975 (48.6%, The Purist Belgium, Petite Champagne, 450 bottles, +/-2020)

Maison Prunier 45 yo 1975 (48.6%, The Purist Belgium, Petite Champagne, 450 bottles, +/-2020) Four stars and a half
Colour: full gold. Nose: very gentle at first, we're rather on nougat here, acacia honey, mullein syrup, juicy sultanas, oriental pastries, earl grey… Tends to move towards old-Sauternes territory after a good two minutes, with apricots, mirabelles, more honey, and wee whiffs of rose petals. No you don't say 'wee' in Cognac, but there, I suppose one cannot change his own nature. Mouth: surprisingly fresh given that this was distilled while Mick Taylor was still with the Stones (was he not?) with superb menthol and both fresh and crystallised fruits, with touches of aniseed and lime. Figs, raisins, and a grassy rusticity in the back. Stalk, pips, liquorice wood… Finish: rather long, even a tad hot, still pretty rustic. Comments: excellent, an old cognac that's perhaps more for your hipflask than for your lounge!
SGP:661 - 89 points.

Fanny Fougerat 'Type 73' (49.6%, OB, Petite Champagne, 510 bottles, +/-2021)

Fanny Fougerat 'Type 73' (49.6%, OB, Petite Champagne, 510 bottles, +/-2021) Five stars
This is 100% ugni blanc; I believe Fanny Fougerat is part of the new wave of cognac makers, while it looks like the reputation keeps growing.  Colour: gold. Nose: really soft and really delicate like an old sémillon from the Sauternes region. Mirabelles, pink bananas, mulberries, hints of elderberries, zucchini flowers, fresh cigars, grape pips oil… It really isn't your average old cognac on the nose. Pretty subtle and, to use older Bruichladdich vocabulary, 'reflective'. Mouth: tight, tense, fresh, fruity and without any kind of 'old-cognac' antics. I'm finding notes of sorb (eau-de-vie) and sloe, some delicate herbal notes (Wulong tea),then rather plum skins and spirits. Superb touches of verbena in the background, I'd kill for a glass of proper old verbena liqueur (why always chartreuse?) Finish: not too long but gracefully herbal and slightly mentholy. A little aniseed and, once again, verbena. Comments: a rather delicate, elegantly self-restrained old petite champagne. 1973? Isn't that the year of John Cale's 'Paris 1919'? I believe I'm about to listen to this fantastic album again, with a glass of Fanny Fougerat's very lovely Type 73 in hand.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Down the years towards Marc Bolan…

François Voyer 'Lot 71 La Fête' (43.3%, Malternatives Belgium, 42 bottles)

François Voyer 'Lot 71 La Fête' (43.3%, Malternatives Belgium, 42 bottles) Five stars
I may have said before that our Belgian friends are very good at selecting old French brandies, not just at playing futbol against us (grin). Colour: deep gold. Nose: ueber-easy fruit-salad-y old cognac, absolutely stunning with this incredible freshness, just shock-full of fresh apples, peaches, pears, bananas, papayas and… a family pack of liquorice allsorts. A little vetiver, ylang-ylang, jasmine… It is impressively fruity and fresh and I cannot not wonder if it didn't stem from an old demi-john rather than from a cask. Mouth: same fruity extravaganza, more tropical this time, with pink grapefruits, litchis for sure, woodruff, Benedictine and a little green wood around the periphery. Finish: medium, with a little more honey and a little more eucalyptus from the oak. Soft pine liqueur and thyme tea. Comments: so, demi-john or cask? The jury's still out but the score is very high again.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Perhaps a very last one…

Martell 1956 (43%, OB for La Maison du Whisky's 65th Anniversary, Grand Champagne, 2021)

Martell 1956 (43%, OB for La Maison du Whisky's 65th Anniversary, Grand Champagne, 2021) Five stars
An amazing Baccarat decanter (rings a bell, doesn't it) harbouring an old Cognac that was distilled right when La Maison du Whisky was founded by Mr Georges Benitah. Which, in truth, makes this Cognac no less than a 65 years old. Colour: gold. Nose: to this humble taster Martell means Cordon Bleu, especially some of those stunning older ones with their Kork'n'Seal closures (a.k.a. spring caps, a.k.a. nail breakers). Check the magnums! What's sure is that this 1956 is fresh as a daisy, rather on flowers indeed (gorse?) then on tangerines and pink grapefruits, maracuja, rhubarb, lemon tarte (with meringue), with something reminiscent of a great pinot gris by a great Alsatian wine house. What's really striking me today is that we never, ever came across anything even remotely rancioty; now I'm also finding quite some gentian spirit in this nose! Remember, gentian equals utter glory in spirits. Mouth: great oak, great old wine barrique, a feeling of dunnage, herbal tea (chamomile), then mangos and maracuja again, rhubarb tarte (more meringue in the way, hurray!) then peaches, mirabelles, nectarines, a little cocoa and coffee, with just touches of sandal and cedar woods. Mind you, sixty-five years sheltered from the fracas of our world! Finish: it wouldn't even lose steam at the finish, even if, as expected, this isn't quite its best side. It's not unusual, in my little tasting book, that very old spirits would not be their best selves at this point. In short, it's a little dry and tea-ish, nothing abnormal. Comments: third 90 in a row, let's call this a tasting session.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all cognacs or armagnacs we've tasted so far

 

October 9, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Two Tomintoul
I'm not a biggest fan of Tomintoul to be honest, I just find it a bit meek and boring. But then again, aren't the meek supposed to inherit the Earth? No, I'm not sure when that's happening either.

 

Tomintoul 10 yo 2010/2021 (56.7%, Watt Whisky, refill butt, 246 bottles)

Tomintoul 10 yo 2010/2021 (56.7%, Watt Whisky, refill butt, 246 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: ok, so first off, this is not actually meek at all. It's rather more rounded and elegantly sweet, with this nice impression of golden syrup spread on brown toast, some custard, youthful dessert wines and wee touches of pollens and sweet breakfast cereals. It is 'light' but not without character at all. Rather pleasant. With water: some fabrics, a little plasticine and sunflower oil. Still rather gentle and playful. Mouth: again this same impression of lightness of touch with a very easy and pleasing character that would include more seedy brown breads, more golden syrup and honey, more breakfast cereals such as Weetabix and some slightly more mechanical touches like mineral oil and shoe polish. With water: funnily enough water seems to enhance the texture and flesh out the whole profile with some hessian, olive oil and touches of aniseed. Classic refill sherry profile in some regards. Finish: medium in length, some marzipan, lemon cough drops, more breads - I think it's actually at its most robust in the finish. Comments: A fine wee Tomintoul, no complaints here.

SGP: 551 - 85 points.

 

 

Tomintoul 2004/2020 (60.4%, OB for Royal Mile Whiskies, cask #2229, bourbon, 389 bottles)

Tomintoul 2004/2020 (60.4%, OB for Royal Mile Whiskies, cask #2229, bourbon, 389 bottles)
This cask was apparently selected for RMW by Mr Robert Fleming to celebrate his 30 years working at the distillery. Colour: gold. Nose: active and highly scented American oak at play here. But not in a vulgar way, rather this is all on pineapple syrup, shredded coconut, white pepper, freshly muddled mint and even wee medical hints such as Tiger Balm. I find it very good so far, even though this is clearly quite a modern 'technological' style. With water: doubles down on this highly scented and aromatic profile from the wood, exotic hardwood resins, tropical fruit teas and incense. Mouth: the arrival is rather mentholated and suggestive of eucalyptus resins, tea tree oil, rolling tobacco and dried herbs. Also some spiced custard, pine cones and hibiscus. Rather a lot going on and globally it's clean, punchy, very bright whisky. In time though I think the oak does start to become just a notch too loud. With water: creamier, fruitier and more balanced now. More of these exotic tea touches, fir wood, eucalyptus - rather complex in fact. Finish: good length, creamy vanilla, wood spices, dried coconut once again, muesli with dried exotic fruit chunks through it and some green apple. Comments: an excellent selection and I can see why they would choose such a cask. It's a whisky that is very much about the cask, but it was also clearly a top quality bourbon cask. This is the kind of style that I think suits Tomintoul well as the lightness of the distillate bends very well to this sort of clean yet active wood profile. Now, there are parts that become a little too intense for me, but it's still going to be…
SGP: 651 - 87 points.

 

 

So, not so meek after all this time.

 

 

Thanks to Jason.

 

 

 

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

 

October 8, 2021


Whiskyfun

Special Releases Special, today Glendullan

As the attentive reader may have noticed, I have a soft spot for Glendullan and other such relatively unobtrusive distillates. We've already tried quite a few pretty good ones this year.

Maureen Serge
Maureen Robinson, Diageo's Head Master Blender for anything Singleton and other whiskies, here with unknown French admirer in London. ->

The Singleton of Glendullan 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021)

The Singleton of Glendullan 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars
The low strength is a little scary here but after all, this wee baby's only a stepping-stone to the new Special Release here, so let's see… Colour: full gold. Nose: autumn leaves (how fitting), then dry walnutty sherry, then whiffs of warm caramel and English breakfast tea. Then a little café latte with drops of triple-sec poured in. Ends up pretty grassy and beerish, which to me was not unseen in Glendullan, especially in indie ones (Cadenhead's and other such tight ones). Mouth: rather creamy, not that light, with quite a lot of walnut cake in the arrival, then cedar wood (from your Romeo & Julietta) and more English breakfast tea. New bamboo straw. Finish: a little short, sweeter, and once again on sweet beer and tea. Malt in the aftertaste, Ovaltine… Comments: very all right, not as thin as I would have thought.
SGP:451 - 82 points.

Perhaps an indie since we've mentioned indies…

Glendullan 9 yo 2011/2021 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch 'Black Swan', bourbon, casks #308284, 310477, 310480)

Glendullan 9 yo 2011/2021 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch 'Black Swan', bourbon, casks #308284, 310477, 310480) Three stars
We always love to see birds on labels; in this case the black swan refers to a famous pub. Let's check if this one's in James Eadie's usual style, rather richer and creamier thanks to skilful woodcraft. Colour: white wine. Nose: very citric, in a lovely way. Concentrated lemon juice, lime juice, a touch of varnish, grapefruits, fresh rhubarb, then toffee apple and Canadian apple ice wine. No need to lodge a complaint this far. Mouth: a bit less precise than I had hoped, as if this grassiness (or rather apple peel) would kind of clash head-on with the sweeter, more liqueury citrus. Some bitterness emerging too, plus candy sugar. Things would tend to get quieter after thirty seconds. Finish: rounder, good. IPA, hops. Peppery aftertaste. Comments: a fine drop once again but then of course, it is not one of their famous young… say Caol Ilas.
SGP:451 - 81 points.

The Singleton of Glendullan 19 yo 'The Siren's Song' (54.6%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends)

The Singleton of Glendullan 19 yo 'The Siren's Song' (54.6%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends) Four stars
This one from refill American oak, with a Cognac finish on top of it. Let's see if the Cognac did offset a part of Glendullan's proverbial grassiness (proverbial in my own book, at least). Colour: straw. Nose: raisins and peaches on top of sunflower and peanut oils, on top of stewed apples, on top of walnut cake and a pack of dried figs. Wee whiffs of ale, or rather gueuze. With water: a pack of lemon drops and perhaps even some Jell-O. Barbecued marshmallows and sweet maize, also sultanas with a little curry and turmeric from the wood (I suppose). Mouth (neat): rather tight, a little eau-de-vie-ish at first (kirschwasser), getting then wider and rounder, with a few raisins and once again those juicy peaches. Rather preserved peaches, actually. With water: more spices, turmeric indeed, paprika, ginger, raisins. Tends to play hide-and-seek with the cognac, a good feeling. Finish: medium, sweet and soft. Really feels 'smartly enhanced' and yet 'natural'. Comments: very smart work here, in my humble opinion.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

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

 

October 7, 2021


Whiskyfun

Highland Park and stuff from Orkney

In theory and Scapa willing, that's a tautological headline, but we fear nothing. By the way, we're slowly approaching the 600 HP mark but that should only happen next time, maybe right after the big whisky festivals.

Withlaw 5 yo 2014/2020 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate Selection, dechar/rechar butt, cask #436, 857 bottles)

Whitlaw 5 yo 2014/2020 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate Selection, dechar/rechar butt, cask #436, 857 bottles) Four stars
So from a dechar/rechar butt, which would mean that this butt had been charred in the first place – all hail wood technology! By the way, Signatory are now calling some of their HPs 'Whitlaw', which I find nicer than 'Secret Orkney'. It is the name of a hill that sits behind the distillery – or rather say that the distillery sits in front of the Whitlaw Hills. Colour: gold. Nose: no actual sherriness here, it is rather a fresh, coastal, slightly smoky and pretty briny Highland Park that shows how great the distillate is. It reminds of my beloved official 10 yo, the epitome of mineral and coastal zestiness in malt whisky. The rechar thing seems to have brought a little extra-vanilla and some mango syrup, all that in civilised moderation. Mouth: absolutely excellent, on similar notes. Touches of brine, green tea, chalk, lemons, malt, a little hay and a little maize bread. Good peatiness. Finish: medium, on similar notes, with a sweeter side. The char? Pineapple syrup. Comments: right up my alley, despite the oh-so-slightly excessive sweetness. I think the pineapples were a little unnecessary.
SGP:553 - 86 points.

Secret Orkney 20 yo 1999/2020 (52.7%, Boogieman Imports, hogshead, 124 bottles)

Secret Orkney 20 yo 1999/2020 (52.7%, Boogieman Imports, hogshead, 124 bottles) Five stars
This one comes with some Viking stuff on the label, so no doubts about what it is. Colour: straw. Nose: a clean and smoky and coastal arrival, then whelks and green apples, then tropical fruits as jellies and as syrups. Lambswool and chalk coming out after a minute or two. With water: woold and chalk taking over, which I find very 'HP' when little to no sherry's been used. Wee whiffs of camphor, always for the better. Mouth (neat): typically tight, chalky, salty, smoky and then fruity. Chutneys, oysters, grapefruits, all working in sync. With water: that sauvignony feeling that we enjoy so much. Pouilly-Fumé. Now careful, only two drops will be enough, it doesn't react too well to high reduction, which would flatten it. Finish: rather long, perhaps with a little more paraffin, perhaps horseradish. Candied citrus in the aftertaste. Comments: superb pureish Highland Park, coming with extra-points because I liked it (Ed: what? Isn't that the whole point?)
SGP:453 - 90 points.

Orkney Islands 11 yo 2009/2020 (46%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Small Batch)

Orkney Islands 11 yo 2009/2020 (46%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Small Batch) Four stars and a half
I think Berry Bros. are rather good at this, doing characterful and yet pretty consensual and sensibly priced regional small batches. I mean, Orkney is a kind of region, is it not? No worries, this is well a single malt. Colour: white wine. Nose: smoky, sooty, waxy and herbal. Wee whiffs of pine-scented shampoo, barbecue, sunflower oil, hand cream, heather (yes), plasticine and burning wood ashes. Less coastal/briny than others, perhaps. Mouth: no, a lot of brine in there, oysters lemons and vanilla, kippers and rollmops (wee bits), a feeling of margarita (tequila, lime, salt if I'm not mistaken), and an overall coastalness that's approaching Taliskerness. See what I mean? Seems that HP is getting more coastal by the vintages. Finish: rather long, fresh, salty, with some rounder butterscotch in the aftertaste. Comments: extremely good, easy and yet totally not vulgar, and very 'idiosyncratic'. Pretty BB&R, in other words. Side note, I find it good that we would preserve regional styles, or at least Distillery styles. No one needs Distilleries that would make just all styles known to man. And why not gin!
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Why not an OB?

Highland Park 'Valfather' (47%, OB, +/-2020)

Highland Park 'Valfather' (47%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
According to the design, this humble NAS would be a half-Viking, half-Zulu bottling. They say it's the peatiest style of Highland Park, let's check that. You'll find it one all over the place, they must have produced hundreds of thousands bottles of this. Colour: light gold. Nose: this would confirm my findings (you're not Dr Livingstone either, S.), they've cranked up the peat. So this has rather a lot of peat, also kelp and vanilla. Now it's not particularly complex, I suppose the mix is young on average. A little vanilla, herbs, ashes… Mouth: it's having a hard time after the BB&R as it's much simpler, narrower, and just rather peaty. Now I still like it, it's a bright make, with good citrus beyond the coastal peat. It's just that it's pretty simple, I'm reminded of Laphroaig's rather underwhelming… What's the name again? Ah yes, Select. Oh boy. Finish: medium, creamy, peaty as an Islay. Comments: a rather young Islay whisky from Orkney. Actually, I think it's very good, hope they'll issue some older batches if they have any. Now and again, I find the fact that any distillery would produce many styles (like unpeated, lightly peated, medium peated, heavily peated, not to mention all kinds of woods) a little boring and valueless. Call me old-guard if you wish.
SGP:456 – 85 points.

Perhaps a last one…

Orkney Islands 15 yo 2002/2019 (58.6%, Fadandel.dk, butt, cask #3C+F, 170 bottles)

Orkney Islands 15 yo 2002/2019 (58.6%, Fadandel.dk, butt, cask #3C+F, 170 bottles) Five stars
Strange cask # here, what does that mean? A secret code? The illuminati? Bilderberg? Big Business? Bill Gates? Colour: white wine. Nose: the tightest of them all, with a lot of lemon juice and even whiffs of washing powder. Woolite, plaster, aspirin, other kinds of white powders… (not that one)… With water: chalk, seawater, ashes, whelks, riesling. Bon appétit! Mouth (neat): excellently zesty, fresh, vertical, yet creamy on the outside. Lemon juice and honey. With water: we've reached zesty and coastal perfection. Finish: rather long, very fresh, very salty. Lemons, oysters and kippers. Comments: a butt? Did they actually let some cigarette butts infuse? That would explain the cryptic cask #, '+C' meaning 'plus cigarettes'. Odd customs if you ask me (S., maybe time to switch to some Netflix dope). I agree this note was pretty clumsy and I apologise profusely for everything, but the whisky is prefect!
SGP:463 - 90 points.  
       

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

 

October 6, 2021


Whiskyfun

Four old Braes of Glenlivet, vertically

Ex-Seagram's, now Pernord's Braes of Glenlivet a.k.a. Braeval is one of these names that are currently benefitting from the quasi-disappearance of many first-tier brand names that our beloved independent bottlers cannot disclose anymore. What's better, an anonymous big name advertised as a blended malt or a little name that comes unmasked and as a single? What's more, I'm starting to hear some new young whisky enthusiasts claim that 'if no independent bottlers ever bottle GlenMac, that's probably because said independent bottlers are considering GlenMac is not good enough'. Maybe is that going to turn the tables, eventually? By the way, sure there are now some official Braes but the prices are totally loco if you ask me. Like, three to four times the normal prices elsewhere. Braes is not GlenMac! (make up your mind, S.)

Braeval
Braeval Distillery (Stanley Howe)

Braeval 24 yo 1997/2021 (47.2%, Thompson Bros. for London Whisky Club, 218 bottles)

Braeval 24 yo 1997/2021 (47.2%, Thompson Bros. for London Whisky Club, 218 bottles) Four stars
Not too sure about the wood here but according to the colour, this baby comes unflavoured-up. Colour: white wine. Nose: full of custard and warm brioche, with touches of overripe apples and pears, as well as a few honeyed and floral tones. Acacia flowers and honey (no acacia honey at all this year in France, sob…) and sponge cake, perhaps a touch of orange blossom water. As natural as oldish malt whisky can be. Mouth: very fine, a tad bitterish at first, perhaps (bell pepper, grass) but otherwise malty and bready, with a few sour touches (sour cherries, beer). Finish: medium, rather on green tea, with a grassy rawness in the aftertaste. Fruit stones and a touch of salt. Comments: a little rustic and grassy but this one oozes honesty and humbleness. Like it much.
SGP:361 - 85 points.

Braes of Glenlivet 23 yo 1994/2018 (50.1%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines, bourbon barrel, cask #165702)

Braes of Glenlivet 23 yo 1994/2018 (50.1%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines, bourbon barrel, cask #165702) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: much more American oak in this one, which translates into VVC (varnish, vanillin and coconut) at first sniff. No worries, we shan't start to acronymise just everything on this lousy little whisky website. Goes on with cakes and custard, scones, pancakes, a drop of pastis, aniseed and liquorice… So far, so good. With water: superb fermentary touches, wash, a little chalk, more breads… Mouth (neat): very malty, you really get a feeling of distilled beer, which is absolutely not unpleasant. Big vanilla, touches of fruit gums (grapefruits, plums). With water: excellent, fruitier, more citrusy, chalkier. Finish: medium, on similar notes. Lemon curd. Comments: very good, flawless ex-bourbon Speysider. In a way, you could also believe it's a much younger malt that's had intercourse with some very active white oak, ala Bimber, or Chichibu or else.
SGP:451 - 87 points.

Braes of Glenlivet 26 yo 1994/2021 (51.1%, The Whisky Blues with Cross Whisky Bar Taiwan, barrel, cask #165687, 175 bottles)

Braes of Glenlivet 26 yo 1994/2021 (51.1%, The Whisky Blues with Cross Whisky Bar Taiwan, barrel, cask #165687, 175 bottles) Four stars and a half
Oh, a sister cask! That happens more and more often within our wee sessions. As there are more indies, parcels of casks that come out may get spread and dispatched faster and consequently, come to the market within a shorter period of time. The amateur taster won't care, or even be happier. Colour: light gold. Nose: it's a kind of cross-breed between both previous ones, with these sour fruits on the one side, and a rounder, breadier, more vanilla-ed aspect on the other side. I have to say I enjoy all this ueber-naturality a lot, I mean, this is purely malt whisky. I know what I'm trying to say. With water: having fresh croissants with some grapefruit juice, very early in the morning. Nice breakfast. Mouth (neat): varnish, citrus gums, stewed rhubarb, vanilla, lemon marmalade, everything fits in to quasi-perfection. Wonderful tightness. With water: more of that, this is lively, joyful and perfect. Finish: same. Wonderful tart aftertaste. Comments: it is not impossible that those three extra-years did generate more complexity. A wine-malt without one single drop of wine inside, that's the way. Oh and naturally, we're all for any jazz or blues-themed labels!
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Braeval 29 yo 1989/2018 (55.4%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #0993, 158 bottles)

Braeval 29 yo 1989/2018 (55.4%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #0993, 158 bottles) Four stars and a half
I don't know why this older bottling is coming out of the boxes now (maybe because you're in the middle of a Braes session, S.?) And as for why and when they would label it Braes of Glenlivet or Braeval, I have to say I've given up trying to find any kind of logic. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is different, it's got something of a sherry feeling (raisins) but it's got this lemony tartness too. Chalk and weissbeer and grass and lemons and a touch of candlewax. With water: hold on, olive brine? Ointments? Peat smoke? Mouth (neat): very good, with something medicinal, as if this was an ex-Laphroaig cask or something. Unless they would have done batches that they had peated to light-Ardmore levels in the late 1980s? Very good and very intriguing Braes. With water: indeed! There's something very coastal here, but cask or distillate? Could longer maturations generate such combinations from an average (not in a bad sense) Speysider? And even trigger salt? Finish: more of all that. Would you forgive me if I said that it's even got something a little Brora-y? Comments: I think I'll have to put my paws on some of those ridiculously expensive OBs, especially on the 30 yo that's at, cough, more than 600 Euros. I mean, it's Braeval! Or are the tables really starting to turn? But not sure those OBs sell…

SGP:462 - 89 points.

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

 

October 4, 2021


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Deanston

Deanston is one of our pet distilleries, mainly because Deanston, mind you, is never, ever boring. I find even their most loco wine-treated expressions, which in theory I shouldn't like at all, interesting and never totally 'butchered'. In short and in my very humble opinion, Deanston is always worth it and it's a joy to try them.  

Deanston ad

Deanston 'Dragon's Milk' (50.5%, OB, Stout Cask finish, 2019)

Deanston 'Dragon's Milk' (50.5%, OB, Stout Cask finish, 2019) Four stars
Did they hire Stephen King? Next time herring casks? In any case, whisky being in essence distilled beer, the idea of a beer cask finish may well be a little tautological, no? Colour: pale white wine. Nose: beer indeed, as in whisky. Grist, chalk, porridge, wholegrain bread, crushed mustard seeds, potato starch… and then, white wine. No, really, a wee muscadet (or melon de Bourgogne – nothing to do with melons). Way less eccentric than I had thought. With water: plain barley and bread. What do the people want. Mouth (neat): very good, tight, fermentary, with good secondary flavours ala Star-of-Campbeltown, porridge, sweet barley, touches of pears and strawberries, then spelt bread and pumpernickel… Very good indeed! With water: beer finishes over table wine finishes? To be discussed, the debate is open… Finish: rather long and chalkier. Tapioca and grilled semolina soup in the aftertaste. Comments: positively impressed here. Now, which stout was it? (Mr Never-satisfied is asking).
SGP:452 - 86 points.

Deanston 11 yo 1998/2009 (55.9%, Whisky Broker)

Deanston 2009/2021 (55.9%, Oxhead Whisky Company, barrel #98, 262 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: I suppose you can't do any more fermentary, porridge-y, bready and indeed, beerish than this. Wee whiffs of woodruff and aniseed in the back, which is absolutely lovely. Eve, hops, Alsatian anis bredala (cookies)… With water: same. A little earth, a walk in the woods… And fern. Right up my alley, it seems. Mouth (neat): impeccably fat and bready, always with these notes of aniseed, or even artisanal pastis, plus some top-notch cider and beer. Cantillon, there. With water: wow! Lemons, star anise, fennel, rhubarb, chalk, porridge, grapefruits, green tea… I think this is utterly perfect relatively naked malt whisky. Finish: to match. A drop of hibiscus syrup, perhaps. Comments: It's an utter joy to stumble upon such a marvellous little malt whisky.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

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

 

October 2, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Ardbeg and
anonymous Islays
I've got some Ardbegs to hand and a few anonymous Islay single malts as well. Let's simply try them with minimal waffle. After all, I'm in London this weekend for the Whisky Show and can't wait to see many friendly faces again after such a dispiriting 18 months. If you're about come and say hello!

 

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 yo (40%, Atom, 2020)

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 yo (40%, Atom, 2020)
An undisclosed single malt from Islay, 25% of which was finished 1st fill oloroso sherry octaves. The name is very 'Atom', while, conversely, I believe 1992 is on the phone asking for its bottling strength back. Colour: gold. Nose: but what's this? An OB Laphroaig 10yo from circa 2002? This very particular aroma of iodine, hessian, seawater and cough medicines. Extremely easy and rather nicely attuned to a very specific aroma of 'peat smoke' in the most classical sense. I find it disconcertingly charming. Mouth: it is probably the bottling strength, but this really does feel like drinking a decent batch of OB Laphroaig 10. There's a few citrus fruits, soft peat smoke and rather a lot of wet rocks and medical embrocations. I have to say, it's quite a lot of fun. Finish: medium, perhaps a tad short, but still nicely medicinal, on iodine, light TCP notes and good old peat smoke. Comments: There's a lot about this that, on paper, I probably shouldn't enjoy because it goes against the modern geek code - whatever that is. But this is actually a rather clever and very good, easy quaffing wee Islay dram. Someone at Beam should go check the Laph 10yo vatting tank for syphons though… either that or Atom have developed cloning technology. If that's the case, do they take requests? Shotgun Bowmore Bouquet!
SGP: 565 - 85 points.

 

 

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 yo 'Cask Strength Batch 4' (58.3%, Atom, 2021, 1250 bottles)

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 yo 'Cask Strength Batch 4' (58.3%, Atom, 2021, 1250 bottles)
This one seems to be pretty much the same as the 40%, in that 25% has been sherry finished, only bottled at cask strength. Colour: deep orangey gold. Nose: a little more rugged, sharper, wilder and with more assertiveness from the wood. Wood spices, charcoal, peat embers, feels more modern but in the best sense. I'm also finding graphite oil, touches of seawater, rubber and tar. With water: aligns a little more with the 40% version but still feels more spicy, more raw and more meaty. I get some nice kippery smoke and cough medicines now. Mouth: a big arrival, all on bitter wood spices, black pepper, tar, smoked teas, cured meats such as salami with chilli and aniseed. Salted liquorice, Bovril, star anise, eucalyptus oils, camphor and salt-cured venison. With water: tar, cask char, TCP, leathery smokiness. A big, gruff, modern peaty monster. 'Rufty tufty' as my dad was fond of saying. Finish: long, herbal, gamey, spicy, sooty and tarry. I find rather a lot of herbal toothpaste in the aftertaste. Comments: hard to argue with this one, excellent, modern, full-powered Islay malt whisky. I think the wood is quite present here, but it remains in balance. I particularly enjoy all these wee herbal aspects.
SGP: 577 - 87 points.

 

 

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 yo 'Sherry Casks & Cask Strength' Batch 2 (56.3%, Atom, 2021, 1230 bottles)

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 yo 'Sherry Casks & Cask Strength' Batch 2 (55.3%, Atom, 2021, 1230 bottles)
This one is full sherry finished. Colour: orangey amber. Nose: a notable gear shift, this is much creamier and displays a more velvety smokiness. Resinous hardwoods, smoked teas, verbena, eucalyptus, tea tree oil and smoked meats. The sherry sits behind the peat and doesn't feel too jarring, it's rather more about wood spice and peat smoke together I would say. With water: softer spice tones, coal dust, bonfire embers and this impression of medicinal herbs. Mouth: a similarly easy arrival, all on soft wood spices, smoked teas, sweet peat smoke, natural tars, wood resins, putty and aniseed. More impressions of herbal cough syrups and things like hessian and wormwood. I like it a lot but it strays very close to being a little too wood-dominant for me. With water: not too sure with water, I think it loses a little definition and the alignment between peat and wood goes slightly awry. There's still plenty of sooty and peaty 'oomph' about it though. Finish: rather long, all menthol tobaccos, bitter herbal extracts, spices, liquorice and tar. Comments: this one veers about quite a lot. Lots of emphatic, peaty pleasures to be had, but for me the wood is a tad too much here. However if you enjoy this rather creamy, spicy modern wood-forward style then you'll probably have a blast. Quite clever wee concoctions these Seaweed things, I would say.
SGP: 576 - 86 points.

 

 

Ardbeg 14 yo 2005/2019 (51.9%, The Whisky Cellar, cask #700038, 25 bottles)

Ardbeg 14 yo 2005/2019 (51.9%, The Whisky Cellar, cask #700038, 25 bottles)
I just could not find a photo of this one anywhere, but with only 25 bottles, do we really need one? [Editor's Note: we made every sacrifice to provide one from WF's own archive]. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: lighter style Ardbeg that's immediately enchanting and evocative with these whiffs of green olive, coastal herbs, white flowers, beach pebbles and mineral salts. Very fresh and coastal with the smoke being more brittle, taut and doing various more structural things in the background. With water: now on camphor, smoked sea salt, hospitals and some lemon juice mixed with olive brine. Mouth: bigger and more punchy on arrival. On seawater, lemon juices, a slightly grubbier smokiness that would suggest puffer fumes and smouldering hay, then things like dried seaweed, nori and hessian. Top notch modern Ardbeg. With water: preserved lemons, parsley, iodine drops, pink grapefruit and more seawater and briny touches. Finish: long, with a nice sooty / smoky combo, soy sauce, anchovy paste, dried mint and hessian. Comments: rock solid modern Ardbeg that shows what great distillate they still make there when not treated with silly woods. Now, go find a bottle…
SGP: 466 - 90 points.

 

 

Ardbeg 26 yo 1994/2021 (47.4%, Cadenhead 'Authentic Collection', bourbon hogshead, 210 bottles)

Ardbeg 26 yo 1994/2021 (47.4%, Cadenhead 'Authentic Collection', bourbon hogshead, 210 bottles)
The mid 1990s could be a bit of a mixed bag for Ardbeg in my experience. Colour: straw. Nose: this 1990s style becomes far more 'obvious' and distinctive now that there's enough water under the bridge between the 1970s heyday and the Glenmorangie modern era. This is really focussed on warm peppery notes and lots of camphor, hessian, tarry rope and also things such as lemon verbena, earl grey tea with lemon peel and kind of heathery, mentholated peat smoke. Light but also with its own kind of weight and distinctiveness. Mouth: nicely salty, good sharpness from various citrus flavours, crisp peat smoke, white pepper - there's just also a feeling of emptiness to an extent in the mid-palate which gives the whole thing a slightly feeling of hollowness. More soft smoky tea notes, smoked sea salt, lime boiled sweets and still rather a lot of hessian and rope impressions. Finish: medium length, crisp dry smokiness, lightly herbal, medicinal and still quite peppery. Comments: There's lots to enjoy here, and some quite specific aged characters that seem only to be found in Ardbegs from this era. It's just that the palate feels a tad light at times. Quality is still high though.
SGP: 565 - 88 points.

 

 

Ardbeg 27 yo 1973/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing 'Old Malt Cask', 228 bottles)

Ardbeg 27 yo 1973/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing 'Old Malt Cask', 228 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: it's that rarest of things: a fruity Ardbeg! We're not talking 60s Bowmore levels of fruit here, but there are indeed some nicely elegant notes of grapefruit and tangerine coming through. I think you can find these profiles only really in batches from 1973 with Ardbeg. There's also bandages, eucalyptus oils, fir wood resins, natural tar and pickled fruits. Quite aromatic and detailed. With water: much more herbal, some kind of smoked breads, bouillon stocks, fennel and light tarriness. Mouth: big, rather sharp arrival, hugely sooty and salty. Natural tar, beach wood, bandages again, mineral salts, more grapefruit and iodine. It's also rather dry and dusty too - a slightly difficult one I think. With water: there's some pleasing citrus, some nicely chiselled smokiness,