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

Serge whiskyfun

 

Tasting notes:
Whiskies 12,198
Other spirits 1,153

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (41) - Aberlour (93)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (2
6)
An Cnoc (
20)
Ardbeg (3
55) - Ardmore (64)
Arran (
80) - Auchentoshan (88)
Auchroisk (
30) - Aultmore (41)
Balblair (74) - Balmenach (35)
Balvenie (
88) - Banff (46)
Ben Nevis (
103)
Ben Wyvis (
2)
Benriach (
160) - Benrinnes (46)
Benromach (
51) - Bladnoch (61)
Blair Athol (
50) - Bowmore (416)
Braes of Glenlivet (
34)
Brora (
119)
Bruichladdich (2
33)
Bunnahabhain (
243)
Caol Ila (459)
Caperdonich (
81)
Cardhu (
31) - Clynelish (312)
Coleburn (
15)
Convalmore (1
8)
Cragganmore (
64)
Craigduff (3) - Craigellachie (
51)
Dailuaine (52) - Dallas Dhu (35)
Dalmore (99) - Dalwhinnie (24)
Deanston (26) - Dufftown (48)

Edradour (60)
Imperial (66) - Inchgower (44)
Inverleven (20)
Isle of Jura (98)

Kilchoman (31)
Kilkerran (
12) - Kinclaith (7)
Kininvie
(3)
- Knockando (
31)
Ladyburn (10) - Lagavulin (116)
Laphroaig (365) - Ledaig (91)
Linkwood (123) - Littlemill (101)
Loch Lomond (35)
Lochside (65)
Longmorn (191) - Longrow (62)

Macallan (254) - Macduff (62)
Mannochmore (
32)
Millburn (
21)
Miltonduff (
55) - Mortlach (155)
Mosstowie (1
9)
Oban (25) - Octomore (14)
Old Fettercairn (28)
Old Pulteney (71)

Scapa (36) - Speyburn (28) - Speyside (16)
Springbank (2
50)
St-Magdalene (46)
Strathisla (
92) - Strathmill (26)
 
 
Pete and Jack



2016
November 1
October 1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No archives for 2002-2003

 
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The Magical History
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1969 - 1983

   


 

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Disclaimer
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin,
Nick Morgan,
Kate Kavanagh

2002-2016


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December 4, 2016


Whiskyfun
Whiskyfun fav of the month

November 2016

Favourite recent bottling:
Rare Cask Reserves 37 yo 1978/2015 ‘Paradise 1’ (55.4%, OB, William Grant, sherry wood, cask #5856, 276 bottles) - WF 93

Favourite older bottling:
Bowmore 30 yo (51.4%, OB, 30th Anniversary of Scottish Licensed Trade News, 3 bottles, 1994) - WF 94

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Ben Nevis 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2016)  - WF 87

Favourite malternative:
Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 65’ (46%, OB, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2015) - WF 93
 

December 2, 2016


Whiskyfun

 

Bad nose day

Tasting sessions will resume shortly

 

November 30, 2016


Whiskyfun

Glen Spey and Glen Spey

Not the most famous, not the most desirable, and not the most collectable Scotch malt. But we’ve had some good ones, so we have hope…

Glen Spey 2004/2013 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogshead)

Glen Spey 2004/2013 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogshead) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: ultra-discreet, with touches of ripe apples, whiffs of lager, and hints of light green tea. Or rather green tea leaves. Perhaps a little fresh mint as well, but other than that, it’s most possibly one of the shiest malts I’ve tried this year. But yeah, the year isn’t over. Mouth: the mint returns, the green tea as well, and they would come with touches of green pepper. Everything’s quite green indeed, but there’s something fruity as well. Wait, kiwis? The body’s relatively thin, but that’s no problem at all, it’s just a style. Finish: medium, with rather more coconut and pepper. That’s the casks. Comments: not quite earth-shattering, as they say, and probably quite humble, but it’s got a refreshing side that’s most pleasant. Haven’t got a Glen Spey in your cabinet? You may add this one to your stash. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Glen Spey 18 yo 1997/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #DL 11336, 328 bottles)

Glen Spey 18 yo 1997/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #DL 11336, 328 bottles) Three stars Whether this is both old and particular, I don’t quite know, let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: well, its almost the same whisky as G&M’s 2004. Apples, green tea, cider, fern, moss, even lichen under the rain… All things green and grassy. And that’s not unpleasant at all. Mouth: good kirsch! And gooseberries, rhubarb, all that… Fresh green acidic fruits, with a lime-y side that does not quite translate into plain lime. What’s sure is that it’s some very fresh malt whisky. Finish: rather long, with added hints of fennel and dill. Very fresh aftertaste, with some pepper and some lettuce. The cask was a notch more active than that of the 2004. Okay, maybe that’s the older age, you’re right. Comments: whenever you need a second bottle of Glen Spey for your bar… SGP:541 - 81 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glen Spey I've tasted so far

 

 

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November 28, 2016


Whiskyfun

A hotchpotch of Glentauchers

No disrespect for the Distillery intended, but for many reasons, I have to speed up our sessions a little bit. There are so many new whiskies to try!

Glentauchers 21 yo 1992/2014 (52.7%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #6045, 283 bottles)

Glentauchers 21 yo 1992/2014 (52.7%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #6045, 283 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: a rather chalky and mineral profile, with grapefruits and moist clay, as well as kiwis and grass. Clearly tense and quite acidulated. It’s a style that I enjoy. With water: more clay, and rather maracujas this time. Sharp, slightly unripe ones. Mouth (neat): hyper-lemony and chalky, this bites you properly and for good. Concentrated Muscadet? There’s even a feeling of lees indeed. With water: full of orange and grapefruit drops, on a bed of grass. Finish: medium, sharp, very lemony, with a salty touch in the aftertaste. Comments: very blade-y. SGP:561 - 84 points.

Glentauchers 18 yo 1996/2014 (48.8%, Chapter 7, cask #3609, bourbon, 173 bottles)

Glentauchers 18 yo 1996/2014 (48.8%, Chapter 7, cask #3609, bourbon, 173 bottles) Four stars Colour: deep gold. Nose: same kind of profile, only with more oak presence, vanilla, and mango cream. Let’s say it’s more ‘tropical’. Some tobacco too. Mouth: same ultra-zesty style, this time with even a little antiseptic and tincture of iodine. Something slightly metallic, but that goes well with the mangos. Finish: long, with litres of limejuice. Comments: a very tart one, quite spectacular. More fulfilling than the 1992. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Glentauchers 18 yo 1996/2014 (51.9%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon)

Glentauchers 18 yo 1996/2014 (51.9%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: much fruitier, with more bubblegum, and less acidic notes. So gentler and rounder, and less spectacular than the Chapter 7. With water: a little more earth, mushrooms, moss… Nothing abnormal after reduction. Mouth (neat): typical easy fruity and citrusy Glentauchers again. Many oranges, some grapefruit, a little barley sugar, and half a marshmallow. With water: same. Bonbons aplenty. Finish: medium, very fruity. Haribo’s jelly babies – yeah or crocodiles, as you like. Comments: easy and very good, as expected. SGP:651 - 85 points.

Glentauchers 19 yo 1996/2016 (47.2%, Le Gus’t, first fill bourbon, cask #4869105 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: more in the style of the Chapter 7 again, that is to say earthier, rather deeper, and more tertiary, with some tobacco. Perhaps more bananas too. Very very nice. Mouth: super-zesty, this is almost some distilled white Sancerre. Bananas and soft pepper in the background, as well as hints of blackberries. A very peppery citrusness. Finish: rather long, ueber-sharp and angular. For lovers of cool climate white wine. Comments: a great bottle if you enjoy this ‘chiselled’ profile. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Glentauchers 1994/2012 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: rather more ‘mainstream’ than the others, and that’s not only the lower strength. Barley, cigarettes, pine cones, assorted nuts, then indeed touches of oranges and passion fruits. Autumn leaves. This is a rather subtle and delicate nose. Mouth: more in the style of the others, that is to say more tropical, citrusy, fresh, but this time there’s also a little eucalyptus. And, perhaps, even a little myrtle. This little baby has got things to say! Finish: medium, a little spicier. Pepper and always a lovely mossy side. Some caraway as well. Comments: I had forgotten how good this line was. And the price is/was very fair! Excellent value. SGP:561 - 86 points.

Time to try a sherried one…

Glentauchers 8 yo 2008/2016 (50%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, butt, cask # #900184)

Glentauchers 8 yo 2008/2016 (50%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, butt, cask # #900184) Four stars Colour: amber bronze. Nose: a rather lovely metallic and tobacco-ish sherry, with whiffs of an old engine, roasted chestnuts, quality bacon (not Calmac’s ;-)), and dry cocoa powder. Then rather mulberries, prunes, and very wee hints of orange squash. With water: some coal and some old tools, long forgotten in the basement. Saltpetre, musty walls… Mouth (neat): rather perfect, pleasantly sour and gingery, with, well, sour fruits, sloe, rowan berries… And some walnutty chocolate. With water: becomes easier. A lot of Seville oranges, plus pepper and ginger. Very nice combination. Finish: long and a little more citric. It’s the zestiness that already was in all the others that’s starting to talk. Comments: as they say, one can go far without having lived long. SGP:462 - 87 points.

 

 

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November 27, 2016


Whiskyfun

The search for malternatives
The Cognac month, partie quatre

We might improvise again…

Château Guynot ‘Napoléon Héritage’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2016)

Château Guynot ‘Napoléon Héritage’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2016) Four stars Some family-owned single estate Cognac located in Tesson, right between the cities of Cognac and Royan. And they also grow kiwis! I think this Napoléon is around 20-25 years of age. Colour: gold. Nose: starts very rounded yet fresh, with bags and bags of juicy golden raisins, then this quince jelly that we enjoy so much, then quite a lot of Sauternes from a good château, with apricots and mirabelles. Not one ounce of caramel or oak extracts, so quite far from many large-volume brands. Mouth: very good, quite tense, and even if this low strength remains a little problematic to the modern whisky enthusiasts (that’s us my friend), it’s got an excellent structure, with a grassy/liquoricy foundation, and plenty of yellow fruits, both in syrup and stewed. And yellow peaches. Very good. Finish: unexpectedly long, still rather grassy, but never quite grapey. Violet sweets in the aftertaste. Comments: really very good. I’m sure these excellent small châteaux will soon start to bottle at higher strengths, which should give them much more exposure. SGP:651 - 85 points.

Folle Blanche 2003 (42.3%, Jean Grosperrin, Grande Champagne, lot No.422, 385 litres, +/-2015)

Folle Blanche 2003 (42.3%, Jean Grosperrin, Grande Champagne, lot No.422, 385 litres, +/-2015) Four stars Some pure folle blanche! As you know, that’s Cognac’s original grape from before the phylloxera. Today, only around 1% of all winemakers in Cognac still grow folle blanche, which is more common in Armagnac having said that. Colour: deep gold. Nose: this one’s very unusual, as it rather starts on wheelbarrows of mangos, including the own smell of the wheelbarrows (wood, iron and grease). And then there’s rather ripe pears and apples, and some time you’d think it’s Domfrontais Calvados. Also touches of tinned litchis. Mouth: more ‘Cognac’, much more Cognac. Excellent arrival, on liquorice and marzipan, then a long development on ripe peaches and melons. Always a wee metallic side in the background, which actually adds depth. Finish: long and even more liquoricy. Even a little salt in the aftertaste, ala Bowmore. Comments: utterly malternative. I’m not knowledgeable enough to tell you if this was typically folle blanche, but if it was, let’s go hunt folle blanche (mad white in English)! SGP:452 - 87 points.

Comandon 1977/2016 (59.7%, Through The Grapevine, LMDW)

Comandon 1977/2016 (59.7%, Through The Grapevine, LMDW) Two stars and a half Some almost forty years old estate Cognac from the Borderies at a rarely seen strength, this should be something. Crazy crazy Maison du Whisky… Colour: orange wine ;-). Seriously, it’s slightly pink, where does that come from? Nose: starts with geranium flowers and obvious notes of old fortified wine (perhaps Rivesaltes or Banyuls), then we get quite a lot of orange/praline-filled chocolates, and then the same kind of slightly metallic side that we had found in the Grosperrin. Could this be folle blanche again? Redcurrant jelly, heather honey, a touch of cider… With water: some varnish from the oak, then autumn leaves and green tobacco. Even more artisan cider. Really not a silky old Cognac, even when reduced. Mouth (neat): rather rough, and rather Calvadosy (if I may). Gritty apples, green tea, gentian, perhaps turnips. And it’s rather hot! With water: we’re more in whisky territories. Bitter apples, ginger, artichoke, bitter chocolate… Really not an easy old thing for ‘the club’. Finish: long, with a little more oranges, but it keeps biting you a bit. Mentholy and pinesappy aftertaste. Comments: rather hard and rough Cognac, as in hard rock. Perhaps for more experienced Cognac tasters? SGP:471 - 79 points.

Let’s try one more strong Cognac…

Bache Gabrielsen ‘Sainte-Lheurine’ (54.8%, OB, Pure & Rustic, +/-2013)

Bache Gabrielsen ‘Sainte-Lheurine’ (54.8%, OB, Pure & Rustic, +/-2013) Three stars and a halfSome single estate ‘artisan’ Cognac that was distilled in the early 1980s and bottled by Bache. This should rock… Colour: deep gold. Nose: rustic? Not at all! This is pure pineapple juice, really. Add oranges, add a little sandalwood. With water: gets grassy. That’s the rustic part, I suppose. Leaves, a touch of leaven, a little mud. In a way, it got maltier. Some orange-flavoured marzipan. Mouth (neat): blood oranges and tart peaches. Perhaps a little monolithic indeed, but immensely fresh. Rosebank, come out of this Cognac! With water: rather more on apples, which makes it go nearer the Comandon, but it remains much fruitier in general. Really nice fresh oranges. Finish: long, a little more tannic, with hints of marc rather than fine. That’s rather rustic indeed. Comments: gets rustic once water’s been added, while you would have thought the opposite would have happened. SGP:561 - 84 points.

Good, we started with a Château Guynot, let’s end this with another Château Guynot.

Château Guynot ‘Impérial’ (40%, OB, +/-2016)

Château Guynot ‘Impérial’ (40%, OB, +/-2016) Four stars and a half This one was distilled 60 years ago, was kept in wood for 58 years, and then transferred to demijohns two years ago. As often happens with Cognac, it’s quite sad that it would have been reduced to 40% vol., really. How many hectolitres of fabulous old Cognacs have been murdered throughout the centuries? Now of course, some are doing fine at 40% vol… Colour: dark amber. Nose: rosewood, sandalwood, incense, rose petals, raisins, dried figs. Bags of dried figs, you know, those small ones that are so good and that they produce in Turkey. You know our usual lamento, why 40%, why 40%! This is such a perfect nose… Would you add water to your Chambertin? Mouth: it’s an exceptional old Cognac. Marvellous Corinth raisins, heather honey, dried apricots, Seville oranges, rhubarb pie… I even find a little Ovaltine. 1940s Macallan, anyone? Finish: O rage! O despair! O old enemy! Why 40%? This very short finish is so disappointing, while anyone would feel that the juice is just out of this world. Great minty side, but it really whispers too low, as Benny Golson would have said. Comments: go score this. Sure they may bottle Courvoisier V.S. at 40%, but this magnificent old juice? They should be brought to court! I’m joking, they are great and friendly people… SGP:651 - 89 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all cognacs I've tasted so far

 

 

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November 25, 2016


Whiskyfun

Reduced service, one single Glen Flagler

Because mind you, we haven’t got two. Glenflagler (aka Glen Flagler) is so rare! It was produced within the Moffat distilling complex in the Lowlands from 1965 until 1985, but there’s always been very few expressions around. The owners kept using the name for a blended malt, but that one wasn’t the real stuff, so whenever you spot some at auctions, don’t pay the price of the single malt for the vatted!

Glen Flagler 5 yo (40%, OB, half-gallon bottle, +/-1980)

Glen Flagler 5 yo (40%, OB, half-gallon bottle, +/-1980) Four stars There also was an NAS version, which never quite convinced me (WF 72). This particular fiver came in a large 200cl bottle. Colour: pale gold. Nose: wood smoke, old magazines, old nuts, and more ink. It’s a rather dry, pretty unsexy style, far from those of any other Lowlanders, but I do enjoy this discreet earthiness that arises, around coal dust and garden peat. I even find rose petals after a few minutes, but it remains a little shy. Mouth: starts a little ‘Canadian’ (we’re talking old Crown Royal), with a sweetish/sugary background, but it tends to become almost Rosebanky, which is obviously nicer. Pink grapefruits, cranberries, Turkish delights… Not too sure those lovely flavour were there in the first place, though, they may have come with good bottle aging. Now the body’s a little thin, but I wouldn’t call it weak. An excellent surprise. Finish: short, but clean and very pleasantly citrusy. There are even touches of passion fruits hidden in the background. Comments: I’d never have guessed this humble Glen Flagler (well, not from a collector’s point of view) would be this good. With whisky, you always keep learning! SGP:641 - 86 points.

(And thanks a lot, Carsten)

 

 

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November 24, 2016


Whiskyfun

Another Glenrothes trio

It seems that everybody’s got plenty of Glenrothes these days, even more than Bunnahabhains! What’s happening? Not that we would complain, naturally…

Glenrothes 19 yo 1997/2016 (53.7%, Claxton’s, sherry butt)

Glenrothes 19 yo 1997/2016 (53.7%, Claxton’s, sherry butt) Four stars Colour: deep amber. Nose: chocolate cream and crystallised oranges, plus stewed peaches and a leather/tobacco combination that hints at some cognacs. It’s also certainly quite earthy. With water: the kind of development I enjoy, on more earth and teas. Such as Pu-erh. Mouth (neat): a salty, rather bouillony arrival, with a lot of pepper and ginger, as well as some mint sauce. And then, chocolate as expected. It is very, very sherried. With water: could you cook bacon in liquorice sauce? Answers on a postcard. Finish: long, liquoricy. Perfect salty aftertaste. Comments: this is what we call a sherry monster, but it’s a balanced monster. I find it extremely good. SGP:451 - 87 points.

Speaking of sherry monsters…

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 1990/2002 (59.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, sherry butt, 666 bottles)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 1990/2002 (59.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, sherry butt, 666 bottles) Four stars and a halfI agree, 666 bottles, that’s scary. Colour: dark amber. Nose: a much cleaner, perhaps simpler kind of sherry monster, more on black raisins and prunes, with liquorice and menthol in the back. I have to say all this menthol tends to come to the front, which makes it rather Vicks-VapoRubby. Ha. With water: Cuban tobacco and black tea. A drop of soy sauce. Mouth (neat): simple yet perfect, and extremely armagnacqy this time (yes, Armagnacky in English). Many raisins of various kinds, plus dried figs and once again some mint. Crème de Menthe. With water: oranges joining in the dancing. Finish: long, rather oily, creamy, and yet kind of fresh. That’s the oranges’ work. Comments: a little gem of an armagna… I mean, a malt. I almost went for 90. SGP:551 - 89 points.

Let’s try to find a ‘lighter’ one…

Glenrothes 20 yo 1996/2016 (54.6%, North Star Spirits, refill sherry hogshead)

Glenrothes 20 yo 1996/2016 (54.6%, North Star Spirits, refill sherry hogshead) Four stars I’ve only heard good things so far about this new wee line from up there in the North. The packaging certainly is quite lovely. Colour: gold. Nose: barley and honey-dominated at first nosing, before notes of kugelhopf and panettone start to appear. Warm brioche, cornflakes, maple syrup, praline, white chocolate. No off-notes whatsoever. With water: more malt and bread. What we like. Mouth (neat): the sherry’s a little more obvious on the palate (orangey pipe tobacco?) and there is a little pepper/ginger that’s a little biting, but other than that, golden raisins and spicy marmalade are playing the leading roles. With water: we tamed it. Pastries, honeys, marmalades, apple pies. Almost official. Finish: quite long, a little more gingery. Drops of amontillado. Comments: it quite loves water and I quite loved it. Beats many recent officials in the pretty same style. SGP:551 - 87 points.

(Thanks Paul and Greg)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glenrothes I've tasted so far

 

 

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November 23, 2016


Whiskyfun

One of the rarest and other Bowmore

We’ll go vertically, as we like to do. Bowmore is one of the distillates that are the most fascinating to ‘follow’ throughout the years. Yeah I agree, maybe not throughout the very unlikely 80s…

Bowmore 15 yo 2001/2016 (52.5%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, bourbon barrel, cask #31931)

Bowmore 15 yo 2001/2016 (52.5%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, bourbon barrel, cask #31931) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: a little bacony, then lemony and seawatery, with perfect peat smoke and peppery seaweed. More or less so. And it’s appropriately kilny. I know, too many barbarisms, but I’m sure you get the idea. Pure unadulterated middle-aged Bowmore. With water: what some call ‘a sweet peat’. Wet fabric, apples, citrons, bonfire, seawater. Mouth (neat): typical. Lemons, tangerines, peat smoke, salt, plus a touch of passion fruit and mango. It’s not the first time that I’m finding ‘echoes’ of the 1960s at Bowmore in recent distillates. Can’t be bad news! With water: perfectly chiselled topical peat. Finish: medium, perhaps not totally deep and profound, but these peaty citrons are perfect. Rather salty aftertaste, as often. Comments: a little softer than other Bowmores from the early 2000s, perhaps. Extremely good nonetheless. This starts well. SGP:556 - 88 points.

Bowmore 15 yo 1998/2013 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, cask # #10228, 325 bottles)

Bowmore 15 yo 1998/2013 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, cask # #10228, 325 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: less sweetness, more dryness. Chimneys and coal and soot, plus ink and carbon paper, plus kelp. No ‘tropicalness’ this time, and very few fruits altogether. With water: plain kilned seawater. Could you kiln seawater? And Islay mud. Mouth (neat): perfect smoky lemons and salty peppered fish. No more, no less. With water: a little more sweetness, a little more soot as well. Drinking smoky oyster water. Finish: long, dry, and very ashy this time. You just ate the ashtray. Comments: a very different style, more austere, less ‘easy’. Not less good. SGP:367 - 88 points.

Bowmore 1997/2015 ‘Shellfish Platter’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 330 bottles)

Bowmore 1997/2015 ‘Shellfish Platter’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 330 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: ah yes, a petroly one this time. Engine oil, diesel, tar, pitch, old fisherman’s ropes, the whole shebang. And seawater, naturally. Mouth: sharp, peppery, and rather immensely ashy and smoky. As our good friend Dave B would have said, it’s very kippery. Forgot to mention almonds. Finish: rather long, a little plasticine-y, almondy, salty, and yeah, kippery, iodized. Comments: my preferred style as far as modern Bowmores are concerned. Wemyss have great Bowmores. SGP:357 - 90 points.

Wemyss? Wemyss!...

Bowmore 1990/2015 ‘Briny Tangle’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 265 bottles)

Bowmore 1990/2015 ‘Briny Tangle’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 265 bottles) Five stars A more ‘dangerous’ vintage. You could still find echoes of the very whacky (and, as some used to say, whore-ish) 1980s… Colour: pale gold. Nose: hurray, no lavender, no French whore perfume, no Walmart-quality deodorizer, rather an almondy, slightly barleyish, and rather vegetal nose. Artichokes and samphires, touches of truffles (no sulphur), Barbour grease, and soot. More and more soot. Mouth: yeah, very good. Salted smoked almonds, artisan limoncello, and smoked salmon, plus limestone, chalk, cigar ashes. Finish: not that long, but all on lovely ashy lemons and quite some seawater. Comments: perhaps a little ‘immediate’ than the 1997, but of similar very high quality. A mezcaly Bowmore. Very well done again, Wemyss. SGP:367 - 90 points.

A last one, and since this is a verticale…

Bowmore 30 yo (51.4%, OB, 30th Anniversary of Scottish Licensed Trade News, 3 bottles, 1994)

Bowmore 30 yo (51.4%, OB, 30th Anniversary of Scottish Licensed Trade News, 3 bottles, 1994) Five stars No typo, there were three bottles of this altogether, which probably makes it the second rarest Bowmore ever, after Giorgio D’Ambrosio’s ‘Jim Clark Bowmore’ (1/1). And as this little glory was bottled in 1994, it may be some 1964 juice, the year of the coveted ‘Black Bowmores’. Except that this very one is much lighter in colour, so, in essence, much more interesting than those very pricy sherry bombs. Colour: gold. Nose: of course. Mangos in clay, passion fruits in chalk, and potpourri in sandalwood. It’s a very delicate old Bowmore, it’s not trumpeting at all, and I would even add that it probably remains a little shy and fragile for a good ten minutes, before more medicinal and rather antique notes start to pop out. Such as old turpentine, or old fur coat, natural furniture polish… The 51.4% do not feel at all, you’d think it was bottled at 40%. So, let’s call it ‘pretty delicate’. Yet, with water: some old abandoned hospital somewhere in northern Scotland. Old antiseptics, balms, and an old quince tree somewhere in the yard. Mouth (neat): totally close to the officials ‘cream labels with purple seagulls’ (1964, 1965…), that is to say all on salty/smoky fruits and the jams made thereof. Mangos of course, tamarind, blood oranges… It’s not often that salted fruits work, but in old Bowmore, they do. Menthol snuff (back in fashion, apparently). With water: water makes the saltiness come out more. Salted oranges, linden honey, salted/honeyed roasted pecans… Now you may be wondering, is it any good? You bet! Finish: reminiscent of some old slightly mentholy Yquems. Not that I’ve tasted hundreds of them, most regrettably.  Comments: forgot to ask you to call the anti-maltoporn brigade. Because this is superlative whisky, totally as expected. It was just curiously delicate given the strength on the label. A wee typo, perhaps? SGP:554 - 94 points.

(Thanks to Greg, Paul, and strictly all the wonderful crew at Dornoch Castle, Bar, and Distillery!)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Bowmore I've tasted so far

 

 

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November 22, 2016


Whiskyfun

William Grant’s best stuff?

I agree that headline was very bad and lousy, I have the utmost respect for William Grant. Now what we’ll have today will be quite unusual, as it’ll be single (or almost-single) malt whiskies from theirs that do not disclose the names of their distilleries of origin. Yeah, for a change…

Wardhead 1997/2015 (60.5%, A Few Barrels, cask #191, 205 bottles)

Wardhead 1997/2015 (60.5%, A Few Barrels, cask #191, 205 bottles) Four stars As you may know, Wardhead is the name of teaspooned Glenfiddich, as Burnside is teaspooned Balvenie. Now I’ve never met any teaspooner at any Scottish distilleries or warehouses. Imagine a guy carrying a teaspoon, opening thousands of casks and pouring one wee dollop of another malt into each of them! Where do we apply to that kind of job? In truth, these are probably the only blended malts that are actually singles, while in general, we’re rather seeing blended malts that are trying to look like singles. Colour: pale gold. Nose: reminds me of the older official 15 yo cask strength. Caramelised pears and caramelised apples, sprinkled with ale and maple syrup. With water: more cereals and bread. And even more ale. Mouth (neat): excellent! Pure barley eau-de-vie plus natural vanilla and touches of oranges. Sure it’s not complicated, but boy it works. With water: sweet barley, stewed pears, and apple liqueur. Finish: medium, on the same notes, plus perhaps touches of oranges. Oranges often show up in the finishes. Comments: simple yet absolutely perfect. Exactly my own definition of an 85-point whisky. SGP:541 - 85 points.

Rare Cask Reserves 25 yo 1990/2016 ‘Paradise 2’ (52.9%, OB, William Grant, sherry wood, cask #3515, 558 bottles) Five stars An elusive official cask selected by Giuseppe Begnoni of Whisky Paradise in Bologna, most probably the largest whisky collector in the world at time of writing. Nah, forget about the other ‘largest collections in the world’ that are to be seen here and there in Scotland and elsewhere, total bollocks. Now, what’s the distillery here? Colour: amber. Nose: I can see why Giuseppe would have selected this baby. It’s utterly classical and typical sherried Speyside whisky, ridden with bitter chocolate, pipe tobacco, walnut wine, amaretti (of course), parsley and marrow, and bacon. Plus, perhaps, the fumes from a ’62 250 GTO. Right, right, or a ’63 model. With water: yess! Gunflints, bread, malt, chocolate sauce (mole), and last night’s crushed cigars in the ashtrays. Yeah I know, a gentleman never crushes cigars in the ashtray. Mouth (neat): magnificent. Marmalade, dried goji, figs, toffee, cranberry juice, prunes, and tobacco-ish chocolate. A timeless classic, as they ay at Deutsche Grammophon’s. With water: and it swims so well! Some kind of precious sauce made out of raisins, triple-sec, ginger, gravy, and honey. Bon appétit. Finish: long and rather orange-forward once again. Always good news. Comments: this could have been distilled in 1940, or 1959, or 1960. And bottled in 1970, or 1980, or 1990. Perhaps not in 2016. Very perfect, and I have to add that with this amount of sherry, I’m not fool enough to try to hazard a guess wrt the name of the distillery. SGP:652 - 91 points.

Oh well…

Rare Cask Reserves 37 yo 1978/2015 ‘Paradise 1’ (55.4%, OB, William Grant, sherry wood, cask #5756, 276 bottles)

Rare Cask Reserves 37 yo 1978/2015 ‘Paradise 1’ (55.4%, OB, William Grant, sherry wood, cask #5856, 276 bottles) Five stars This was the very first bottling within William Grant’s Rare Cask Reserves series. And this one too was selected by Sig. Begnoni. Colour: coffee/mahogany. Nose: some black Christmas cake, really. Dazzling. I say no more. With water: grouse and fern. There. And a box of Cuban cigars. Mouth (neat): wow. Prunes, chocolate, Corinth raisins, artisan coffee liqueur (not the commercial junk), chewing tobacco, dry toffee, crème de menthe, strong black liquorice, salt. Why would you need any more lousy literature from this humble taster? With water: it is time to call the anti-maltoporn brigade, for this is exceptional sherried whisky. Finish: long and very chocolaty. The dryness in the signature is just very perfect. Comments: in general, words such as ‘rare’, or ‘reserve’, or ‘old’ on a label are just bad news. Not today! This is one of the most fantastic sherry monsters that came out since two or three years. Not that I’ve tasted all of them of course, but… SGP:462 - 93 points. (cask # updated, thanks Brian)

 

 

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November 21, 2016


Whiskyfun

Highland Park Fire and great others

There are two kinds of people on this planet, the ones that believe that HP stands for Hewlett-Packard, and the ones that know that HP actually means Highland Park (S., that was the lousiest introduction ever!) Today, we’ll have the new official ‘Fire’, and then perhaps other HPs from the sample library. How many? We’ll see…

Highland Park 15 yo ‘Fire Edition’ (45.2%, OB, 2016)

Highland Park 15 yo ‘Fire Edition’ (45.2%, OB, 2016) Four stars No we shan’t comment on the packaging, even when tortured. This baby’s been matured in ‘refill Port wine seasoned casks’, which might be better news than if that had been ‘Port wine seasoned refill casks’ or even ‘seasoned refill Port wine casks’. No? Colour: gold, not reddish. Nose: I find it rather brutal and vegetal at first nosing, with pumpkins and beetroots, and certainly some blackcurrant leaves, moss, fern… Also whiffs of peonies (might be the Port) and a mineral/smoky side. Coal smoke, old stove, then a little menthol… It’s certainly quite coastal, but then again, the city of Oporto almost lies on the Atlantic coast, doesn’t it. Mouth: I like the palate rather better, which isn’t common. It’s smoky whisky, it’s got notes of jelly babies and raspberry jam, and both do tango (which isn’t very common either in my experience). It’s got a ‘smoky Port’ side, and to my utter amazement, that works. In the background, quite a lot of nutmeg and cinnamon, as well as blood oranges that just lift it. Finish: rather long, still on smoked and spiced raspberries. Comments: I’d have never thought this would work – but then again, they know what they’re doing. I liked the ‘Ice Edition’ just a little better (WF 88). Oh and by the way, nice bud vase! Alternatively, if you ever prepare homemade ketchup... SGP:653 - 87 points.

Highland Park 18 yo 1997/2016 (54%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask #DL 11364, 285 bottles)

Highland Park 18 yo 1997/2016 (54%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask #DL 11364, 285 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: this confirms what we were already feeling, there’s more peat smoke in these batches from 15 to 20 years ago. It’s a grassy peatiness, with leaves and buds and stems, which works well with the bitter oranges in the background. But it’s quite austere – so far. With water: whenever I get wet chalk from my whisky, I’m happy. So, I’m happy. Mouth (neat): most certainly not a Port cask, but we’re really unexpectedly close to the Fire Edition. Blood oranges, nutmeg, and a very spicy smokiness. Some acridness. With water: excellent. Citrons, blood oranges, a mentholated side, some peppermint, maize bread… It does love water. Finish: medium, superbly zesty. More blood oranges, in other words. A feeling of verbena, or there, vetiver. Comments: a superb distillate! Takes its time, and loves water. Rather impressed, I have to say. SGP:552 - 89 points.

Highland Park 18 yo 1997/2015 (56.7%, Hunter Laing, First Editions, refill hogshead, cask #HL12099, 231 bottles)

Highland Park 18 yo 1997/2015 (56.7%, Hunter Laing, First Editions, refill hogshead, cask #HL12099, 231 bottles) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather unsurprisingly, this is very similar. Same parcel of casks. It is perhaps a wee bit more mentholy, but other than that, it is the same whisky, more or less. With water: clay, chalk, dough, leaven! Mee like dis. Mouth (neat): same-ish indeed. Blood oranges, smoke, a little ginger, cinnamon, mints, citrons… With water: and chalk again, limestone… A Montrachet from Orkney. Finish: long, and even chalkier. Comments: shall we call this HP a professorial whisky? What’s sure is that it’s wonderfully mineral. Top notch distillate. SGP:452 - 90 points.

Highland Park 28 yo 1987/2016 (47.7%, Silver Seal, Aida, Cask #1555, 192 bottles)

Highland Park 28 yo 1987/2016 (47.7%, Silver Seal, Aida, Cask #1555, 192 bottles) Five stars Let’s see if this will be The Grand March… Colour: light gold. Nose: it’s wonderful to be able to check what ten further years in a regular cask (hogshead type) do to a distillate that’s otherwise very similar. In this case, we rather get more tiny herbs and mints. Genepy, gentian, peppermint, spearmint. Also some precious blue/green tea, a little linseed oil, perhaps a drop of turpentine (a true painter’s whisky), and once again a little chalk. This nose is just perfect, my friend. Mouth: top notch indeed, despite, or perhaps because of a whacky touch of yeasty cheese. Then passion fruits, more damp chalk, wormwood, cough syrup, those citrons, this Montrachety (!?) side, mint… What a palate! The oak’s maybe a little loud at times, but if you like pinesap as much as I do, you’ll just love it. Miles Davis was loud too (what?) Finish: long, on the very same notes, plus some greenish liquorice and perhaps a touch of bacon. Comments: we’re still going up, aren’t we. It’s a very expensive bottle, but I totally hate to say that the price is rather justified. SGP:462 - 91 points.

A last one for the road…

Highland Park 30 yo 1986/2016 (46.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch)

Highland Park 30 yo 1986/2016 (46.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch) Five stars Beware of the powers of small batch vattings! Colour: gold. Nose: ugly and repulsive. This is what we call a three-men whisky, one man who drinks it, while two other men have to hold him. Totally premoxed, smelling of discarded Chinese takeaway still sitting on the kitchen table after a very long night playing poker with your brothers-in-law. Mouth: putrid swill, total rotgut. Cask and whisky had great plans, but just like orange and yellow, they never quite went together. Finish: horrible. Paying your taxes is less painful. Comments: come on, of course it’s brilliant whisky. Epitomical mineral distillate that got perfectly polished and fruited-up by some excellent wood. The best cough syrup ever, which comes handy when December’s around the corner in our hemisphere. SGP:561 - 91 points.

I agree, better stop there.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Highland Park I've tasted so far

 

 

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November 20, 2016


Whiskyfun

The search for malternatives
The Cognac month, from today to 1811

We had some stunning ones last week, especially those Vallein-Tercinier 65 and 56 both at WF 93. And we said that we wouldn’t try some uninspiring Cognacs by large brands that are, in truth, the equivalents of the large-volume Scottish blends. Good-not-great, as they say. Now, all that depends on the kind of line-up you’re having on your table, don’t you agree? See what we’ve got…

Bisquit ‘Légende’ (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2015)

Bisquit ‘Légende’ (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2015) Two stars A pompous name and not much information, where else have we already seen that? But you never know… Colour: deep gold. Nose: no, it’s rather fine, with notes of Demerara sugar and burnt raisins, some caramel, orange zests dipped into chocolate, honeysuckle, and ‘half-burnt pastries’. Certainly not un-nice, I have to say. Mouth: sweet and caramely arrival, with some honey, marmalade and maple syrup, but everything kind of falls apart after ten seconds, which happens very often with most large-volume blends from Cognac or Scotland. Gets a little bitter and cardboardy. Finish: shortish and flattish, but still acceptable. Burnt bread in the aftertaste. Comments: not bad at all, but many people are wondering why the French don’t drink more Cognac. This was a part of the answer – but once again, it wasn’t the baddest of them all, at all. SGP:451 - 74 points.

So, Bisquit he said, or Bisquit-Dubouché (same house)…

Bisquit *** (no abv, OB, Cognac, Ruffino, Italy, early 1950s?)

Bisquit *** (no abv, OB, Cognac, Ruffino, Italy, early 1950s?) Four stars Three star bottlings used to be the younger Cognacs, and also the cheapest, but you could find some gems. Let’s see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: some very subtle fudge and caramel, old sweet wine (Rivesaltes and such), some rancio for sure, then a development on various garden herbs, parsley, lovage, chives, and above everything, ramson. And then, coffee, dried beef and chocolate, as well as a touch of beeswax. So far, so lovely and pretty tertiary. Good old-bottle-effect? Mouth: well, it certainly stood the distance, starting with ultra-ripe pears covered with two tons of raisins, and going on with a lot of sweet wine, from Sauternes to PX. You do understand that this is distilled wine. Some fudge as well, and then even more raisins. Good body, nice oiliness. Now the palate is far from being as complex as the nose, but that’s often the case. Finish: medium, sweet and smooth, with more raisins. Comments: I think modern large-volume Cognacs have more caramel, and fewer raisins. I do prefer raisins. SGP:740 - 85 points.

Bisquit *** (40%, OB, Cognac, 1950s)

Bisquit *** (40%, OB, Cognac, 1950s) Two stars and a half Another lovely old bottle, the label stating that it was bottled by appointment to the late king George VI, so probably shortly after the year 1952. Colour: deep gold. Nose: well in the style of the previous Bisquit, just a little waxier, and rather less herbal, although the parsleyish (!) side remained quite prominent. Perhaps a notch dustier? Mouth: a metallic touch at first, then rather pears and cardboard. Or old teabags. I think it’s a little tired, but it still sings and dances on your tongue. Raisins, of course. Finish: rather short, with raisins and a feeling of metal polish. Comments: this baby feels like if it’s at around 30-35% vol., so it did lose a bit of steam through the many years. But it’s still offering pleasures and… memories. To sip while listening to an old Duke Ellington 78 rpm. SGP:430 - 78 points.
You ain’t seen nothing yet…

Bisquit Dubouché 1858 (42%, OB, Cognac, Grande Fine Champagne, 73cl)

Bisquit Dubouché 1858 (42%, OB, Cognac, Grande Fine Champagne, 73cl) Four stars and a half When was this bottled? Hard to say, probably in the 1950s since there’s a stated ABV, so I guess it was between 90 and 100 years old when the casks were disgorged. What’s sure is that this is pre-phylloxeric Cognac, folle-blanche-driven and distilled while the not-so-clever Napoléon III was the Emperor of the French. It’s always moving to taste such an old spirit – and believe, we’ll try many more before Christmas! Colour: deep gold. Nose: the first scents that rise to your nostrils are those of roses and meaty bouillons, which creates a kind of rather oriental feeling. Lotus flowers? Marrows, sandalwood, chicken broth, lilies, raisins… It’s all very subtle, very delicate, and, I have to say, very moving indeed. There are even very elegant notes of old style perfume, Patou, perhaps…

Mouth: impressive! No weaknesses, no tiredness, rather a kind of rustic arrival, on meats and sweet and sour sauces, combining mint, raisins, meat extracts, and various herbs. Yeah I know, sounds rather like English cooking ;-). Some earth as well, mushrooms, humus, even a little yeast or leaven, soy sauce, chestnut purée… Seriously, 1858, imagine! Although I wouldn’t call it a powerful spirit, I’d say it stood the test of time much better than the previous, and obviously younger ‘***’. Finish: not extraordinarily long, obviously, but still very well alive and kicking. Raisins and mint sauce. And Marmite? Nah… Comments: it’s always hard to taste these very old bottles in ‘blind conditions’, meaning that you wouldn’t take their pedigrees into consideration, but I swear to old Napo the Third that this is some extremely fine old Cognac. And moving, at that. SGP:551 - 89 points.

Napoléon III? How about Napoléon I? We had tried a Bisquit 1930 quite some years ago, and it had been brilliant (WF 92). So let’s go further back down the years and meet Napoléon I indeed…

Bisquit Dubouché 1811 (OB, Cognac, Grande Fine Champagne, 73cl)

Bisquit Dubouché 1811 (OB, Cognac, Grande Fine Champagne, 73cl) Five stars Probably bottled (or rebottled) right after WWII or in the early 1950s. This Bisquit Bubouché is one of the most famous 1811s, knowing that 1811 was the year of the Flaugergues comet, and the most famous and most sought-after vintage in Cognac ever. In September and October, so during the harvest, the comet used to shine during night time and some used to say that that phenomenon almost doubled the amount of ‘sunshine’ that the grapes could benefit from. Rather unlikely, but the 1811 vintage always kept an almost mythical aura. Now, 1858 was a comet vintage too, forgot to say! I’ve also read that good old Napo The First visited the region after the harvest, and that he bough a lot of new fillings for the imperial cellars. I’ll also add that we already tried a 1811 ‘Roi de Rome’ last year, and that it had been pretty imperial indeed (WF 90).

Colour: deep gold/amber. Nose: ooooh! This is perfect, with some cigars and some chocolate, then warm pastries, brioches, panettones, kugelhopfs, and myriads of tiny herbs and even vegetables. Mint, parsley, lovage, sage, tarragon, even dill… The background remains rather meaty, as in many very old cognacs, with some dried beef, marrow soup, game, and only the Emperor knows what else. A mentholy side never stops growing, which works just perfectly in this context. There’s also more and more tobacco, old magazines in the attic, roasted chestnuts, more bouillon, and guess what? Even a little malt! This amount of complexity is just mesmerizing. Mouth: a little too much paraffin/plasticine in the arrival, which often happens with very old bottles, but once everything becomes clearer and stabilises, you’ll find one of the most impressive combination of all things raisiny with all things resinous and sweetly meaty. Once again I get a feeling of English cuisine, with these homemade sauces our friends do pour over just any kind of meat. Certainly some bay-leaves involved, juniper, cloves, and ach, err, Marmite. A pinhead of Marmite, and of course rancio. Even the body’s impressive, it still feels like around 38-40% vol. Finish: that’s the strangest part, the finish is almost perfect, with even some chocolate, raisin sauce, and a dollop of Demerara syrup. A discreet saltiness in the aftertaste, as in salted buttered fudge. Comments: forgot to say that while some bottles of 1811 do have a comet on their necks, this one has the wee Emperor in a wax seal. Not that that matters much, does it. What’s sure is that this spirit that was distilled more than 200 years ago (my god, two hundred years!) remained perfectly alive and, yeah, kicking.

Very humbling, I have to say. SGP:451 - 92 points (and those are real, organoleptical points, mind you!)
(Diego, merci mille fois !)

More tasting notes Check the index of all cognacs I've tasted so far

 

 

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November 18, 2016


Whiskyfun

More John Does

Let’s have even more blended malts or undisclosed Glenf… I mean, Speysiders today. And a little homework for you, perhaps; what do you think is best, knowing about the origins of one whisky, or knowing about its age? Think about it… In the mean time, let’s have a few…

The Hive ‘Batch Strength’ (54.5%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, Batch No. 1, 6000 bottles, 2016)

The Hive ‘Batch Strength’ (54.5%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, Batch No. 1, 6000 bottles, 2016) Two stars and a half There are also a new Spice King and a new Peat Chimney, but we’ll have those on another day. There’s also some The Hive at 40% vol., but those have/had an age statement, 8 or 12. More homework to do… Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather dry and malty, grassy, and full of fruit peelings, green apples, then fresh almonds and sour dough. I have to say I do not find many ‘hive-y’ elements. So far. With water: wet concrete, crushed barley, bitter apples. Mouth (neat): feels young, a little harsh, with acidic apples and a yeasty side. Quite brutal and unpolished. Where’s the expected honey? With water: not many changes. Green plums, perhaps? It’s still quite grassy and raw. Finish: medium, on more green plums and grass. Comments: a raw malt, perhaps for your hipflask. Not a huge fan of this wee bottling by these excellent people who keep issuing so many great single malts. SGP:361 - 78 points.

Speyside 21 yo 1993/2015 (48%, Langside, Distiller’s Art, sherry butt)

Speyside 21 yo 1993/2015 (48%, Langside, Distiller’s Art, sherry butt) Four stars This one’s a single malt. Perhaps from Speyside Distillery? Colour: deep gold. Nose: cakes and stewed fruits, then cereals and marzipan. It’s a dry kind of sherry, imparting wee notes of earth and walnuts. Apple pie. Nice. Mouth: rather oranges this time, both bitter and regular ones, with a little ginger, a little pepper, and a little cinnamon and nutmeg, presumably from the cask. Also a touch of orange blossom honey, which is always nice. They should have used this cask at Wemyss’ ;-). Finish: medium, well constructed, malty and orangey. Same notes of orange blossom honey in the aftertaste, plus a little cracked pepper. Comments: this one’s very fine, a nice sipper, or for a better hipflask. SGP:451 - 85 points.

Speyside Region 20 yo 1994/2015 (53.2%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt)

Speyside Region 20 yo 1994/2015 (53.2%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt) Four stars Colour: deep gold. Nose: same territories as those of the Langside, only with more punch, which translates into wee varnishy notes and perhaps touches of struck matches. Cornflakes, toasted bread, rubbed orange skin, leather. With water: more leather and more oranges, with a thin slice of black truffle. Mouth (neat): a funny orange/game start. Canard à l’orange? Ducks indeed… And probably very ripe guavas. Not the usual G*******s. With water: becomes more ‘normal’, but still very orange-y. Marmalade-filled biscuits and gingerbread. Touches of lime blossom honey, with these hints of menthol. Finish: medium, on more or less the same notes. Comments: really good – and it’s nice that it’s a little unusual. Habits kill, they say. SGP:551 - 86 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all undisclosed malts I've tasted so far

 

 

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November 16, 2016


Whiskyfun

Seven John Does

Some older ones this time. No names, but a lot of data about the ages, vintages, casks, the stillman’s birth year, the number of rodents that the mouser killed, and even the sex of angels. Quite…

The Wanderer 24 yo 1992/2016 (55.5%, Exile Casks, barrel, Speyside)

The Wanderer 24 yo 1992/2016 (55.5%, Exile Casks, barrel, Speyside) Four stars A homeless undisclosed single malt that found a free bed at Neil and Joel’s in London. A very moving story. Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts varnishy and even acetic, with some cellulose and sawdust, and gets then rather bourbony, with a lot of vanilla and touches of coconut. Even more sawdust too. We’re almost at IKEA ;-). With water: gets rather earthy, with sweeter notes too. Hay, custard and marshmallows, nice combo. Mouth (neat): really good, creamy, pretty much in the style of these many young Aultmores that the indies were having two or three years ago. Vanilla liqueur, coconut, sweet tannins, tea… With water: rather tangerines this time, as well as oranges. Finish: medium, on pretty much the same flavours, and rather more malt. Coconut balls. Greenish tannins in the aftertaste, but those are nice. Comments: the cask has been rather active. I could have said Arran, but we all know that Arran wasn’t quite running yet in 1992. SGP551 - 85 points.

Fine Blended Whisky 35 yo 1980/2015 (46.7%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt)

Fine Blended Whisky 35 yo 1980/2015 (46.7%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt) Four stars and a half Some old single cask blended Scotch that may have been blended at birth. Colour: amber. Nose: really very nice, with some tobacco, autumn leaves, fig cake, and quite a lot of toffee, although the whole would remain rather elegant, and never ‘heavy’. I especially enjoy these whiffs of eucalyptus, pinesap, and pipe tobacco that are rising to your nostrils after just one minute. Mouth: really old-school sherry, with some old oloroso, a very dry polished oak, bags of old chestnuts, and even more pipe tobacco than before. Also some very black tea. Touches of molasses and orange syrup in the background. Finish: rather long, with ‘ideas’ of old hyper-sherried Macallans. Very high malt content for sure. The aftertaste is dry and almost bitter (artichoke liqueur) but all that works very well in this context. Comments: very excellent. Blends? Anytime… in this case. SGP:461 - 89 points.

Bodach Aislig 35 yo 1980/2015 (46%, Murray McDavid, bourbon, 379 bottles)

Bodach Aislig 35 yo 1980/2015 (46%, Murray McDavid, bourbon, 379 bottles) Four stars Some whiskies from Glenrothes, Glengoyne, Bunnahabhain, Tamdhu, Cameronbridge, North British and Port Dundas that were blended a while ago and further married in a cask. Colour: amber. Nose: I’d swear there is some peat in there! Perfect oily style, with many, well, oils, saps, pine-y aromas, and various polishes. Linoleum, linseed oil, earthy tea, umami, camphor, soy sauce, and then quite a chunk of cured ham (jabugo)… Also juniper berries. A very sexy nose. Mouth: good, some may consider it got too woody, for it does bite you a bit. Very strong black tea, Jaegermeister, crème de menthe, Mitteleuropean bitter herbal liqueurs, all that… And above everything, a massive clove-iness. Quite some cocoa powder too (natural, not sugared). Finish: long, acrid, but I do like that. Mint and bitter chocolate. Comments: quite a ride! It’s an uncommon hyper-herbal composition, but I did enjoy it a lot. SGP:381 - 87 points.

Speyside Region 38 yo 1977/2015 (46.2%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt)

Speyside Region 38 yo 1977/2015 (46.2%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: yeah, chestnut purée, pecan pie, dried figs, and cigars and chocolate. Cigars dipped into chocolate! And prunes, old armagnac (many old armagnacs soon on WF!) oranges, chestnut honey… Mouth (neat): starts dry and even a little aggressive, with a dry dustiness and bags of cloves, but it tends to settle down. A bit. Dry herbs, thyme, chocolate, juniper berries, dried dates, a touch of salt… And quite a lot of dark toffee from Ballindalloch. I said nothing. Finish: long, earthy, and chocolaty. Some mint again in the aftertaste, that’s old age. Very nice dry tannins. Comments: not the first from these parcels we’re trying. All of them have been excellent. SGP:461 - 90 points.

While we’re at it…

Speyside Region 41 yo 1975/2016 (47.4%, Whisky-Fässle, fino sherry butt)

Speyside Region 41 yo 1975/2016 (47.4%, Whisky-Fässle, fino sherry butt) Five stars Ah, those casks! Watch this… Colour: gold. Nose: orange blossom honey! Beeswax! Cherry liqueur! Amaretti! Candied tangerines and quince! Camel cigarettes! I remember so well the first pack of Camels I had bought forty years ago. I do not smoke anymore, but I’d gladly buy a new pack of Camels just to nose them. Stunning smells (and terrible tastes!) Mouth: oranges and Calvados plus manuka honey and Grand-Marnier. Mouth feel is perfect. Love the wee touches of earth and cracked pepper in the background, and the citrons that are slowly taking over. Finish: medium but fabulous. Back on oranges and honey – nothing wrong with that! Comments: no surprises here, these casks are/were magical. I remember I had thought one of them tasted like the greatest old Calvados. That’s more or less the case again here. SGP:551 - 92 points.

Speyside 41 yo 1975/2016 (48.7%, Maltbarn, sherry cask)

Speyside 41 yo 1975/2016 (48.7%, Maltbarn, sherry cask) Five stars We could write three or four words and slap a high rating. No hopes here, rather certainties. Colour: pale gold. Nose: oooooh! Patchouli and hashish! And ripe bananas, wormwood, lemongrass, watermelons, regular melons… Would you have a guitar at hand? Mouth: so good, so good… More bananas, grass, rocket salad (so yeah, there is a bitterness), cinnamon, cardamom… But some oranges manage to keep it fresh, lively, and extremely seductive. I mean, attractive. No hashish on the palate, though. Finish: quite long, and rather Christmassy. Stolle, ginger and bananas, and perhaps a little maracuja. A perfect oak in the aftertaste, with a tobacco-ish side. Comments: these are the old whiskies to buy by the case these days. Plus, it’s always depressing to see all these empty official (and stupid) decanters going for £2 each at flea markets. SGP:551 - 92 points.

Perhaps a last 92 poi… I mean, a last 1975…

Speyside 40 yo 1975/2015 (51.3%, Sansibar and S Spirit Shop, sherry cask)

Speyside 40 yo 1975/2015 (51.3%, Sansibar and S Spirit Shop, sherry cask) Five stars Whisky for Samurais, apparently. Colour: pale gold. Nose: oh well, please read my notes for the Maltbarn again. Finding differences and variations would be plainly and totally masturbatory. Mouth: thoroughly so! This one bites a little more, but that’s just the higher strength. Which, by the way, imparts a little more notes of bitter oranges and herbs. Aren’t we nitpicking again? With water: honey, Camels, gingerbread, anis bredala (hoppla)… Finish: a rather stunning spiciness. Comments: another gracious old one. I don’t know how Frau Merkel and her henchmen are doing it, but they are still issuing some stunning whiskies there over the River Rhine. Doch man muss sagen, herzlichen Glückwunsch zu Ihrer Arbeit! SGP:551 - 92 points.

Seriously, those are all utterly superb, provided you’re not totally against a little spicy oak in your whisky. And against not knowing about the distilleries.

More tasting notes Check the index of all undisclosed malts I've tasted so far

 

 

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November 15, 2016


Whiskyfun

A few Inchgower

Not a very famous name, but quite a few whisky enthusiasts are very fond of the malt’s rather lovely, and sometimes quite subtle, fruitiness. Let’s see what we can find in the sample library…

Inchgower 2002/2016 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogshead) Inchgower 2002/2016 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogshead)

Inchgower 2002/2016 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogshead) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: really malty and cerealy, with some Ovaltine, orange cake, raisins, and a little fudge. In the background, touches of wood smoke and metal polish, not something that’s uncommon within this popular range of whiskies by G&M. Very discreet mustiness. Mouth: pretty excellent, a little old-school, with some raisin cake, traditional English fruitcake, candied cherries, figs, and dried sliced pears. Behind that, some gingerbread and drops of Grand-Marnier. You could really pour this over some cake. Finish: medium, fruity, and rather more honeyed. Maple syrup with a touch of mint. Comments: I think it’s an excellent malt, easy to drink but with some profoundness. I also enjoy this ‘old-skool’ side, there are sides that remind me of the older OBs. Recommended! SGP:641 - 87 points.

Inchgower 1991/2015 (51.8%, Sansibar and S Spirits Shop, 132 bottles)

Inchgower 1991/2015 (51.8%, Sansibar and S Spirits Shop, 132 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose it’s rather fresh, both grassy and citrusy, with touches of plasticine and citron. Fresh barley. More and more yeasty malt after that, sweet maize bread, a little clay, damp grass… I find this rather elegant, and quite complex. Perhaps some Wulong tea. With water: quite love these whiffs of camphor and eucalyptus. Pinewood casks? Ha! Mouth: (neat): creamy, quite spicy, starting with a little coconut, Thai basil, lemon… I’m all for these unusual styles, as long as balance has been found. You could spray some of this onto crab meat. Thai indeed – no chillies, though. With water: gets even more eastern-oriental. Lemongrass and green pepper. Very good. Finish: medium, with a rather perfect lemony/spicy side. Tangerines in the aftertaste. Comments: very good indeed. It’s different, it’s, well, kind of Thai. SGP:651 - 88 points.

Inchgower 23 yo 1991/2014 (51.8%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, refill hogshead, 242 bottles)

Inchgower 23 yo 1991/2014 (51.8%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, refill hogshead, 242 bottles) Four stars and a halfIn theory, this should be very close to the Sansibar. Colour: pale gold. Nose: indeed, very close, but I don’t think it’s the same cask – and the figures wouldn’t add-up anyway. This one’s a little smokier, with a little more flints. Other than that, same lemon grass, citron, and blue-green tea. With water: indeed. Mouth: extremely close. Close sister casks, most probably. With water: indeed, but this one seems to have a little more spices, around caraway and cloves. Just touches, but maybe I’m dreaming. Finish: more Thai spices. Comments: would really go well with some Gaeng keow wan kai. Okay, just copied-and-pasted that from google. SGP:651 - 88 points.

Inchgower 35 yo 1980/2016 (51.4%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask)

Inchgower 35 yo 1980/2016 (51.4%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask) Four stars and a half This can’t be bad. Colour: gold. Nose: a medicinal Speysider! Old embrocations, old mouthwash, blood orange juice, fir wood, camphor, honeydew, a pack of menthol cigarettes (as far as I can remember)… This, I like a lot. With water: some tea-ish tannins, perhaps, but otherwise it’s fine fine fine. Earthy almonds. Mouth (neat): isn’t it funny that we’re finding a Thai side again? Coconut and lemon sauce, pickled ginger, crystallised tangerines, Szechuan pepper (yeah I know Szechuan does not lie in Thailand)… This is really excellent, and so pleasantly ‘different’ again. With water: lemon juice, red bean paste… Finish: medium, with notes of sweet ale and pink grapefruits. Or there, Lagunitas. I’m a fan. SGP:551 - 89 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Inchgower I've tasted so far

 

 

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