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Serge whiskyfun

 

Whiskies 16,279
Other spirits 2,229
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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (96)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
27)
Banff (5
2)
Ben Nevis (204)
Ben Wyvis
(3)
Benriach (1
92)
Benrinnes (
102)
Benromach (
71)
Bladnoch (
84)
Blair Athol (
95)
Bowmore (5
55)
Braes of Glenlivet (4
8)
Brora (1
35)
Bruichladdich (309)
Bunnahabhain (3
65)

Caol Ila (668)
Caperdonich (
100)
Cardhu (3
8)
Clynelish (4
48)
Coleburn (2
5)
Convalmore (2
8)
Cragganmore (84)
Craigduff (4)
Craigellachie (
100)
Dailuaine (87)
Dallas Dhu (41)
Dalmore (1
32)
Dalwhinnie (38)
Deanston (
54)
Dufftown (5
5)

Edradour (90)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
78)
Laphroaig (4
70)
Ledaig (1
35)
Linkwood (1
73)
Littlemill (1
27)
Loch Lomond (
78)
Lochside (72)
Longmorn (2
3
3)
Longrow (7
6)

Macallan (315)
Macduff (91)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
47)
Millburn (2
4)
Miltonduff (
107)
Mortlach (206)
Mosstowie (2
4)
Scapa (51)
Speyburn (
44)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (3
99)
St-Magdalene (5
4)
Strathisla (
106)
Strathmill (
47)

 
 
Pete and Jack



2021
March 1
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2020
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

2019
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No archives for 2002-2003

 
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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.

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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
21

 
Whiskyfun

Scotch Legal Announcement

 
 

April 10, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Assorted pairs and one triple!
Another largish, rather varied bag today. Featuring the return of Glenfiddich, I can't remember the last time I published notes for a Glenfiddich on these pages.

 

Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix (47.6%, OB, 2010)

Glenfiddich Snow Phoenix (47.6%, OB, 2010)
I remember people were doing a fair bit of sniggering when this came out given that the story had a whiff of opportunism about it. However, I remember liking the whisky itself at the time and I don't think I ever tried it since, so let's correct that right now. Colour: pale gold. Nose: you do indeed get the impression there was a fair mix of ages involved. There's quite a few varieties of honey, brioche, crystallised citrus peels, candied hazelnuts, plum eau de vie, straw and linens. I find it a very attractive and easy nose. Mouth: the ABV works well here as I find so often with OB Glenfiddichs that the measly bottling strengths hurt them. Here's there's an oiliness to the mouthfeel with impressions of malt syrup, bergamot, lanolin and green apple peelings which all works very well. Some lemon cough drops, farmhouse cider and a few crunchy cereals. Indeed, it feels almost like a more rustic style of Glenfiddich. Mind you, what's more rustic than a collapsed warehouse roof? Finish: medium and rather peppery, nicely sweet, more of these robust and toasty cereal notes and some citrons. Comments: I still like it, quite a lot in fact. It feels like a full-bodied, extremely 'pop the cork and go' type of Glenfiddich. The ABV does a lot of heavy lifting here, but the assemblage of ages also feels pretty smart.
SGP: 551 - 84 points. 

 

 

Glenfiddich 1982 (58.7%, OB 'Private Vintage' for Craigellachie Hotel, cask #3672)

Glenfiddich 1982 (58.7%, OB 'Private Vintage' for Craigellachie Hotel, cask #3672)
Not too sure when this one was bottled, but probably a fair few years ago now
(I tried this one in 2007 - S.) Colour: buttery white wine. Nose: wooft, petrolic, greasy, mineral and very grassy. An extremely naked style of Glenfiddich that reminds you this is a direct fired spirit after all with these big, chunky and raw distillate vibes. Could almost be an early Manager's Dram, it has this kind of powerful, high-octane refill profile. Lots of barley extract, vapour rubs, wee mechanical touches, oily rags and mineral oils. I really like this so far. With water: wonderful now with water, kumquats, bergamots, lanolin, pastry dough, hessian, eucalyptus tea. Extremely aromatic and increasingly mentholated. Mouth: very firm, powerful and oily in texture. Barbour grease, embrocations, sheep wool oils, extra virgin olive oil, mineral oils, camphor and linseed oil. Did I mention oil? Also sunflower seeds, toasted brown bread and further green notes such as parsley and nettles. There is in fact a kind of austere Loire Sauvignon vibe about it. With water: I don't think it's as impressive as the nose. It's certainly very crisp, taut and austere, showing quite a lot of grass, vase water, subtle medicinal qualities and things like acid drops, crushed aspirin and wet moss. A really unusual Glenfiddich. Finish: good length, very chiselled, crisp, mineral, cereal, chalky and with wee hints of citrus piths and white flowers. Comments: I find it extremely amusing that they would select such a cask for the Craigellachie hotel bar. But then, perhaps after half a roast lamb, several magnums of claret and an 8 inch cigar you need some kind of roque kerosine Glenfiddich to cut through? Anyway, the palate was a tad too simple perhaps but otherwise superb!
SGP: 362 - 89 points.

 

 

Craigellachie 2011/2018 (67.9%, Whisky Illuminati 'Solaria Series', cask #900328, sherry hogshead, 100 bottles)

Craigellachie 2011/2018 (67.9%, Whisky Illuminati 'Solaria Series', cask #900328, sherry hogshead, 100 bottles)
Another from this series which features single casks partially bottled at younger ages and the rest left to mature further. Quite a fun idea I think. So far these younger ones have mostly been good but rather powerful and challenging. Colour: amber. Nose: initially rather leafy and full of freshly brewed coffee. Mint chocolate chip ice cream, strawberry sauce, balsamic and Cointreau. It's also surprisingly approachable at full strength, and I like the sense of 'Craigellachieness' that you get within all these sherried layers. With water: more directly bready, earthy and showing notes of black tea, soot, ginger liqueur and a hint of pomegranate molasses. Mouth: surprisingly fruity and playful. Notes of bubblegum and fruit salad juices, guava, melon, mango and gooseberry. A lovely mix of garden fruits and more exotic touches. Beneath that there's also a few notes of cereal, toasted bread and sweet chocolate sauce. Some darker and spicier fruit notes as well, like fig jam and prunes in armagnac. With water: the fruitiness is balanced by some deeper notes of chocolate, pine sap, camphor and things like plum liqueur, chopped walnuts, pistachio and kirsch. Finish: long, earthy, darkly fruity, gently waxy and getting more mentholated and herbal. Comments: extremely good young Craigellachie, a perfect balance of distillate and cask. I suspect this could be approaching the 90 mark with a few more years maturation.
SGP: 661 - 87 points.

 

 

Craigellachie 18 yo 2002/2020 (55.5%, A D Rattray, cask #5, bourbon hogshead, 277 bottles)

Craigellachie 18 yo 2002/2020 (55.5%, A D Rattray, cask #5, bourbon hogshead, 277 bottles)
I don't come across much from A D Rattray these days, which is a shame as they've done many very fine bottlings over the years. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: pure cereals and bread dough. One of these almost ideologically 'refill' profile malts. In other words: extremely natural, naked, barley-driven and showing notes like buttered toast, crushed greenery, moss and plain breakfast cereals. This very natural quality is undeniably attractive in this case. With water: gets grassier, slightly rawer and almost grappa like. I even notice wee hints of grape must. Mouth: rather hot and prickly, perhaps almost too naked, to the point it feels rather youngish. Some touches of barley sugar, pollens, plasticine and sunflower oil. Softens a little after a while which is good. With water: certainly easier and lighter with a rather leafy green side. There's also some pollens, scone mix and more soft cooking oil notes. Finish: medium, lightly peppery waxy, more classical Craigellachie notes arriving just in time. Comments: We're almost in similar territory to these old Cadenhead Authentic Collection rocket fuel, bare bones distillate bottlings from the early 1990s. Perhaps a little too raw and naked? It's still very good with water though.
SGP: 351 - 84 points.

 

 

Islay 12 Year Old (40%, Waitrose, 1990s)

Islay 12 Year Old (40%, Waitrose, 1990s)
Waitrose is a supermarket chain here in the UK that is beloved of middle class people like me. Think of this as a kind of hyper-premium Ben Bracken of its day. There's an L code printed on the back that begins with 97 which would suggest 1997 as a bottling year to me. Certainly the bottle looks of that time. Colour: gold. Nose: it's just impossible with such bottlings for your brain not to go into 'guess the distillery' mode. There's an unquestionably lovely freshness about this one that's all on drifting peat smoke, beach wood, sand, lemon peel, grapefruit and seawater that simultaneously seems to suggest Bowmore and Laphroaig. But then again, if it was bottled late 90s you would suspect some perfume if it was Bowmore. Some kelp and tar bobbing about in there too. Mouth: you do feel the 40%, but you also feel a rather distinct impression of Laphroaig. Soft, furling peat smoke, TCP, wet rocks, iodine, beach pebbles and some wee hints of dried seaweed and anchovy. Probably extremely good value quaffing juice in its day. It's just a bit flat and sluggish with this 40%. Finish: good length in fact, still rather Laphroaig-esque. Some burnt rubber, charcoal, black pepper, plain peat smoke. A little bit acrid perhaps but otherwise very good. Comments: As I said, I'm afraid I'm far too much of a middle class Waitrose lover to be too critical of this charming wee bottle. Definitely feels like Laphroaig and a charming wee drop that would probably become weapons-grade if you were to consume it as highballs.
SGP: 465 - 86 points.

 

 

Islay No 4 11 Year Old 'Batch 1' (48.8%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1586 bottles)

Islay No 4 11 Year Old 'Batch 1' (48.8%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1586 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: ah, not a particularly peaty one. Rather this is on sea air, all spice and vanilla sponge cake. In fact it feels quite 'wood forwards' with these slightly sticky notes of custard and cream soda. Mouth: hmmm, not too sure about the wood here. Feels just too much, a little sticky, some pencil shavings with this impression of graphite, slightly sour in places with sawdust. Feels like some pretty active oak has been deployed. I'm not sure I'd have said this was an Islay given blind. Some additional notes of spiced teas emerge, along with pot pourri, cough mixtures and aniseed. Finish: good length and this is quite a bit nicer with herbal extracts, tea tree oil, jasmine and some kind of robust olive oil. Comments: I'm a bit unsure about this one. I liked the finish but the rest feels a bit disjointed and unlikely, I don't think the wood has integrated too well here.
SGP: 642 - 76 points.

 

 

Let's try to not end on a downer by turning to faithful Ben Nevis...

 

 

Ben Nevis 7 yo 2013/2021 (50%, Thompson Brothers, sherry butts, 1013 bottles)

Ben Nevis 7 yo 2013/2021 (50%, Thompson Brothers, sherry butts, 1013 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: already recognisably Ben Nevis, but here there's a lovely addition of fudgeyness from the sherry, along with a rather more rustic, farmyard edge as well. Camphor, damp earth, wine cellars, putty, leaf mulch and Irish coffee. Excellent! With water: prunes, calvados, bailed hay, tobacco, salted almonds. Pure class! Mouth: the youth is a bit more apparent here but this undeniably impressive. Juicy dark fruits such as sultanas, dates and raisins from the sherry, alongside some rather youthful Armagnac notes, mineral oils, camphor, toolbox rags and bitter chocolate with a little more hessian. With water: oily, camphory, leathery sherry with olive oil, chalk, cured meats, chocolate and some light medical notes. Finish: good length, more leathery and chocolatey sherry with roasted nuts, mineral oil once again and more coffee. Comments: What a brilliant distillate Ben Nevis is, and what an extremely smart wee bottling!
SGP: 562 - 88 points.

 

 

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (48.9%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #1641, hogshead, 280 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (48.9%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #1641, hogshead, 280 bottles)
Most of the bottlings in this batch / series have been excellent, high hopes here… Colour: straw. Nose: wow, superbly fruity, one of the most immediately 'luscious' examples of these batches that I can remember. Immediate notes of pink grapefruit, mango, papaya and some wonderfully sharp flecks of kiwi and starfruit. It's this sense of tartness and sharpness that brings poise and a wonderful 'nervousness' to the overall profile. There's also the usual oily cereals and waxes too. There's always been something of an Irish accent about Ben Nevis and this one really recalls some of the more super-fruity late 80s Bushmills and Cooleys. Mouth: yes! Waxes, tangerines, passion fruit sours, mango juice, crushed nettles, pineapple chunks. Stupidly fruity and totally brilliant! Finish: long, this juiciness and fruitiness sticks around like bits of fruit salad pulp buried in your gums - amazing! Comments: sometimes you find a whisky that is just total, no-nonsense fruit juice. This is one such dram!
SGP: 751 - 91 points.

 

 

Ben Nevis 26 yo 1975/2001 (53.9%, OB, cask #945, 237 bottles)

Ben Nevis 26 yo 1975/2001 (53.9%, OB, cask #945, 237 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: very different, but not completely so. More austere than the 96, but then again, a rainbow is more austere than that 1996! Anyway, more quietly on lemon cheesecake, shoe polish, barley sugars, young sauternes and usually delicate things like white flowers, chamomile tea, moss and vase water. Much more in the style and era of Ben Nevis when malt enthusiasm wasn't really sure what to do with it or where to put it. A very elegant and enchanting nose though I would say. With water: a little greasier, a little fatter and more towards old olive oil, cooked grains, mashed vegetables and barley sugar. Mouth: ok, here it gets more uncertain. Very 'old strange Irish' with these punchy notes of oily rags, metal polish, green malt and plastic. Indeed, these plastic and concrete aspects are a little too much, there's also a tiny shaving of soap somewhere in the depths. With water: ok, it cleaned up a bit, but it's still rather tough on metal polishes, varnish, concrete, aspirin, vase water and various greener and oilier aspects. Finish: quite long, faintly bready, some sour ales, camphor, putty, grass, rapeseed oil, coins. Funny stuff. Comments: I think it is safe to say that Ben Nevis absolutely improved since this era. Anyway, this is by no means a bad dram, it's just something that you probably have to intellectualise to enjoy. A fun session starter to bemuse your pals I suppose.
SGP: 541 - 84 points.

 

 

Thanks to Timo and Iain!

 

 

 

 

April 9, 2021


Whiskyfun

The Time Warp Session, today Aultmore

We always like to do these wee sessions. And no, the older bottlings do not always win.

Aultmore 11 yo 'Small Batch' (46%, OB, Exceptional Cask Series, oloroso, 2472 bottles, +/-2018)

Aultmore 11 yo 'Small Batch' (46%, OB, Exceptional Cask Series, oloroso, 2472 bottles, +/-2018) Four stars
All fine and well, but I'm not sure anyone will believe it was an 'exceptional cask' that they brought down to 46%, even if that's a strength we enjoy. What's more, 'small batch' and 'exceptional cask' sounds a bit like an oxymoron, don't you agree? If they're exceptional, why not keep them as singles? (S., nit-picker in chief.) Colour: dark gold. Nose: exceptional, I don't know, very nice for sure, with some bread pudding, ginger cookies, banana cake, heather honey, then rather sherry-like notes, pecan pie, walnut wine, pipe tobacco, even wee whiffs of sweet mustard sauce, sesame oil, then our beloved oranges… After all, could be that those casks were exceptional indeed! Very lovely nose for sure. Mouth: I was afraid we would go down two floors, but despite some slightly, say uproarious spicy tones from some active oak, it unfolds very pleasantly, on various cakes, tobacco, and roasted nuts (rather pecans and walnuts yet again). Rather a lot of bitter chocolate too, which tends to try to come to the front, making it perhaps a tad, well, bitter. Pleasantly bitter. Finish: medium, dry, rather on green walnuts. Always something that I enjoy. Very dry and bitter aftertaste. Comments: I shall call this a very good surprise, but you have to like them dry.
SGP:361 - 85 points.

I wrote some an extremely short note for this one ten years ago, time to do it properly…

Aultmore 1974/1988 (50%, Samaroli, 20th anniversary, 540 bottles)

Aultmore 1974/1988 (50%, Samaroli, 20th anniversary, 540 bottles) Three stars
Samaroli was located in Brescia, a name that really reminds me of Bugatti since one their earliest models was called 'Brescia'. But why am I telling you this? Perhaps because Silvano Samaroli could have been nicknamed 'the Ettore Bugatti of whisky'… (fast and no brakes).  Colour: light gold. Nose: definitely old-school Aultmore, much greasier than current offerings, waxier, more on leather and old ointments, polishes, old bits of metal, garage, a little marrow and venison burger (how very Scottish indeed – are you hungry yet?), gravy… That's all pretty perfect and nicer than I remembered it. With water: whiffs of wet cardboard and old books. Rather great on the nose, sometimes not such a good sign wrt the palate. Mouth (neat): it's true that some of these bottlings are starting to suffer from 'marginally excessive' OBE, with rather a lot of dryness, bitter herbs, leather, a wee feeling of leatherette or even plastic and soap, but all that remains very wee indeed… On the other hand, the core remains solid, fat, almost smoky, waxy, resinous… With water: no, water almost kills it. Cardboard everywhere. Finish: medium, dry. Comments: I had it at WF 88 ten years ago, so it wasn't a total blue chip anyway in my book, but things did not improve. Now, remember that as regard to OBE and oxidation, not all bottles behave the same depending on storage etc. So let's not jump to unnecessary conclusions!
SGP:262 - 80 points (for the nose).

Good, I feel we need another wee 11, as a bonus…

Aultmore 11 yo 2008/2020 (43%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #307294, 265 bottles)

Aultmore 11 yo 2008/2020 (43%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #307294, 265 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a blend of pear and mirabelle eaux-de-vies, really, with a little hotness in the background. Fruit stones; that's the mirabelles! I suppose we could have this as a 'canard', a few drops poured over a sugar cube. Mouth: all freshness and fruitiness, indeed an eau-de-vie, with hints of grappa this time. Decant this into a thin white bottle with a long neck and write 'tutti frutti' on the label, you'll fool a lot of people. Not that it's nice to try to fool friends, mind you. Finish: medium, with some bready and gristy notes kicking in. Comments: malt whisky al natural, most pleasant, to quaff just like this, without thinking about it too much.
SGP:541 - 83 points.

Good, the Samaroli was 14, we could have another 14 too before calling this a tasting session.

Aultmore 14 yo 2006/2020 (55.2%, Single Cask Collection, 1st fill bourbon, cask #306878, 209 bottles)

Aultmore 14 yo 2006/2020 (55.2%, Single Cask Collection, 1st fill bourbon, cask #306878, 209 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: oh, pure custard and fresh fruit salad, with a dollop of soft honey (acacia) and an awesome and subtle earthiness. Old mosses, fir needles, and naturally, mushrooms (boletus). Some whiffs of old Jerez vinegar too, that's most lovely too. Yes I've seen it's ex-bourbon. With water: rounder, sweeter, mellower, easier. Ripe melons and quinces, pears, scones, vanilla. Mouth (neat): excellent citrus and grasses! Lime, lemon, peppermint, lemon balm, perhaps a touch of tarragon, probably a little Thai basil, with a little sugar too to make it rounder. With water: a few red berries chiming in, pomegranate… There's also a little more pepper. Finish: medium, fruity and bready. A light fruitcake. Comments: just super-good. Very well distilled, aged, and selected.
SGP:541 - 86 points.

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

 

April 7, 2021


Whiskyfun

A quatuor of Speyburn

I do believe Speyburn's one of the distilleries that made good progress recently, it's even become cult around Loch Ness, especially in Drumnadrochit.

Speyburn-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2018 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead)

Speyburn-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2018 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead) Three stars
I believe this is the series that's been replaced with the newer grey Original Collection. Colour: gold. Nose: modern, a bit pushed, which is not very Cadenhead in my book. What I mean is that there are tons of butterscotch and fudge here. I rather like that, but there, it feels a little pushed. Toasted brioche and roasted nuts too. Mouth: simply good, on similar notes of butterscotch and toffee, plus perhaps Christmas cake, café latte, chocolate... Finish: medium, a tad bitter now, with more cracked pepper. Bits of tobacco in the aftertaste – remember when some of us used to smoke untipped cigarettes? Gauloise? Gitanes? Roth-Händle? Belga? Alfa? Comments: from rounded and fudge-y to bitterer.
SGP:361 - 81 points.

An OB please…

Speyburn 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2020)

Speyburn 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
The label tells you this is outstanding. We've been warned. Colour: deep gold. Nose: typical deep leaven notes, a little dairy cream, porridge, then rather sour fruits and spices, plus green walnuts, fino sherry, then pomegranates and khakis, blood oranges, Fanta (apologies to anyone involved), even tonic wine. This is very singular, sometimes a little rebellious, and never like other malts. Which is great, naturally. Mouth: oh well, let's say yes, beyond the very surprising spicy arrival on curry and cinnamon. Touches of chicken soup and bouillon, coriander, salt, gravy, soy sauce, turmeric, ginger… In short this is a fighter, for your hipflask rather than for your evenings by the fireside playing chess over the Internet. Tends to become rounder, smoother, and cakier, though. Finish: pretty long, with moe bitter notes, those bits of tobacco again, bitter oranges… Comments: there's something friendly in the wee malt whisky that's so different. One day we'll do a Speyburn vs Fettercairn vs Glenturret session.
SGP:362 - 86 points.

More craziness, perhaps…

Speyburn 2008/2018 (46%, Scyfion Choice, Muscat finish, 140 bottles)

Speyburn 2008/2018 (46%, Scyfion Choice, Muscat finish, 140 bottles) Four stars
These excellent folks in Ukraine are usually finishing their malts in local wine casks, some literally unknown to me. This Speyburn, for example, was finished in 'Muscat Dolce Passione'. Colour: gold. Nose: it doesn't feel too much. Muscaty aromas are easily recognisable, but I'm not finding any here, maybe is that me. I'm rather detecting ripe mirabelles, quinces, honeycomb, those panettones that I just adore, lemon and rhubarb tarte, macaroons, a little café latte… Well, could be that the cask did erase a part of Speyburn's 'funny aromas' (see above) and made it gentler and almost reminiscent of… Glenmorangie? Mouth: all right, Speyburn is back. Crunching pine needles, eating those bits of tobacco yet again, some thick walnut liqueurs, Maggi, wee bits of soapy paraffin, some bouillon… Well this one's not inert, there sure is some action in there. Finish: rather long and pretty bitter. Bitters, artichoke cordial, more paraffin, more bouillon… Comments: two whiskies in one, that is to say a gentle nose and a restless palate. Very good fun, which has to be rewarded, even if I'm not d down three cases.
SGP:361 - 86 points.

Back into time…

Speyburn-Glenlivet 15 yo 1975/1991 (63.1%, Cadenhead, Dumpy, 75cl)

Speyburn-Glenlivet 15 yo 1975/1991 (63.1%, Cadenhead, Dumpy, 75cl) Five stars
I believe this one's also been bottled in a tall bottle with that black label – white panel. Colour: straw. Nose: it was a different whisky back in 1975, much more on citrus, especially lemons, plus a lot of chalk. But at 63.1%, you do not get much out of it anyway… With water: I find this rather sublime. An old forgotten bottle of Verveine, some much unexpected olive oil, lemons and lime, and simply a feeling of great white Graves. An old Laville, for example. Brilliant. Mouth (neat): immense chalky lemonness. Incredibly tart and pungent, but the attentive drinker will guess that things should go extremely well once water's been added. With water: and they do. I would ask you to call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade. Long story short, an avalanche of tighter citrus and grassy, bitter herbs. Quite sublime, if a little challenging. Finish: very long, on the same notes. Extremely fresh, with a little mint as well. Comments: this is the joy of these tastings. Once in a while, you stumble upon something completely unexpected. Now, go find a bottle of this…
SGP:471 - 92 points.

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

 

April 6, 2021


Whiskyfun

Five official Glenturrets and an IB

It's true that we've found quite a few 'bizarre' Glenturrets in the old days. It's also true that I've heard good things since the new owners took it over from Edrington, a few years ago, but I was still to try the new bottlings. What's more, Glenturret belongs to Lalique, the famous crystal makers that are located in Winger/Moder, in the north of our dear Alsace. Having said that, the owners of Lalique are Swiss.  They also own the famous Villa Lalique restaurant (two-star but easily worth three stars IMHO), home to one of the greatest sommeliers, Romain Iltis, who pioneered the concept of verticality in wine. Which does not, mind you, consist in drinking a lot of wine and/or spirit while managing not to fall flat on your face. Anyway…

Glenturret 'Triple Wood' (43%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020)

Glenturret 'Triple Wood' (43%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020) Three stars
The obligatory NAS, aged in ex-bourbon, ex-American oak sherry, and ex-European oak sherry. Colour: gold. Nose: I believe it's kept some Glenturretness, with this singular mix of shoe polish, mustard and balsamic vinegar, on the other hand it is ten times less feinty than older makes, and not cardboardy at all. Notes of pipe tobacco and cigars, pinches of wok spices, pine resin, a little metal polish, then a growing menthol. Intriguing and certainly reminiscent of a walk in a fir forest. Mouth: a big boy, spicy and sour (in a good way). Cracked pepper, then really a lot of tobacco, with some mustardy walnuts and touches of turmeric and ginger. Cranberry chutney. Finish: I was expecting a little game, it's there right in the finish, with all the rest. Comments: a pretty spicy proposition. I'm not sure they changed the recipe,  but I sure like this way better than the older one at 40%.
SGP:361 - 82 points.

Glenturret 12 yo (46%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020)

Glenturret 12 yo (46%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020) Four stars
This is fully ex-European oak, so I suppose we should expect even more spices. Colour: deep gold. Nose: further towards old spicy woods, barks, thuja and cedar, cigars, pinewood, teak oil, also rather a lot of Seville oranges. And once again, I'm finding some menthol, and nods to some old amontillado. Alsatian (of course) walnut wine. Mouth: very nice bitters and resins in the mouthcoating arrival. More bitter oranges, cough syrup, cinnamon drops, really a lot of various peppers, then more savoury touches, Bovril, horseradish, turmeric this time again, green grapefruits… Well this one sure is a good conversationalist. Huge presence. Finish: long, mustardy, with a large sack of bitter oranges and old walnuts. The horseradish is back in the aftertaste, together with an earthiness and perhaps drops of stout. Comments: nothing to do with the old 12 from twenty years ago, which used to navigate around the 70-line in my humble little book. Sure you have to enjoy spicy whiskies – I do.
SGP:371 - 85 points.

Glenturret 15 yo (55%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020)

Glenturret 15 yo (55%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020) Four stars
Apparently, this should be more 'refill', so perhaps rather distillate-driven. The old 15 from the 1990s was very average and pretty dissonant, in my opinion. Having said that, dissonance is not obligatorily a flaw, just think Thelonious Monk. Colour: light amber. Nose: marmalade, mead, heather honey, dried beef (Grisons meat – hoppla), then chocolate and praline, roasted chestnuts, buttered fudge… Quite strangely, this one's rather gentler and rounder, despite the higher strength. Let's see… With water: no, walnut wine, cinchona, Campari, Indonesian cigarettes (kretek) and whiffs of old books in an old library, with old leather armchairs. Mouth (neat): rather the 12, only with more honey and jams. Having said that, the spices keep biting you a wee bit. Touches of German strawberry wine (well, the only ones I've ever tried were German). With water: really close to the 12, with more Seville oranges and more green spices. Rather a lot of turmeric, green peppercorns... Finish: long, similar. Some earthy fruitiness in the aftertaste plus probably quite some umami sauce. Comments: my heart is torn between the 12 and the 15.
SGP:471 - 85 points.

Since Glenturret's the oldest working distillery in Scotland (is it not?), let's have an older one… Curious about what Bob Dalgarno has selected here…

Glenturret 30 yo (45.7%, OB, Maiden Release, 750 bottles, 2020)Glenturret 30 yo (45.7%, OB, Maiden Release, 750 bottles, 2020)

Glenturret 30 yo (45.7%, OB, Maiden Release, 750 bottles, 2020) Five stars
This is fully ex-sherry. Really curious, really very curious, in truth I cannot wait…  Colour: gold (I had thought it would be darker). Nose: I'm deeply sorry, and I hope I won't spot a black Mercedes with four Albanian henchmen inside soon in front of Château Whiskyfun, but I would have said Macallan, really. Say the old 30 blue-label-blue-box. What a nose. Honeys, hit apples (I'll explain what that is another day), old cigars, small figs, honeycomb, very soft spices (nothing to do with the younger quasi-monsters), wee whiffs of church incense, quite a lot of gianduja, roasted pistachio… it really is a perfect nose, very complex and subtle. Way less rustic than older 'old' Glenturrets if you ask me. Mouth: certainly. I'm glad the peppers, cinnamon and turmeric would be back, while some awesome tropical touches would keep growing in your glass (in a way), mangos, maracuja… Also some Canadian ice cider and possibly riesling vendanges tardives. Those are not easy to find but the best ones are ueber-stellar. Finish: medium, pretty fresh and complex. I'm afraid I'll quote that famous brand starting with Mac once more. Juicy golden sultanas in the aftertaste. Comments: some kind of acidity here, which is hardly possible but there, it's all in our minds anyway. It's a pristine drop, extremely elegant. I love it. As soon as I manage to get to Villa Lalique, post-Covid, I order a triple-measure of Glenturret 30 as the apéritif. And then, naturally, cappuccino de pommes de terre à la truffe.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Bonus, some peaters. Let's be honest, not many distilleries on the mainland manage(d) to make peaters that 'could' actually compete with the islanders. Brora, Longrow, and?...But you never know…

Ruadh Maor 8 yo 2011/2020 (47.5%, Carn Mor, hogsheads, 837 bottles)

Ruadh Maor 8 yo 2011/2020 (47.5%, Carn Mor, hogsheads, 837 bottles) Two stars and a half
So this is peated Glenturret. Between us, I'm not totally sure it's such a good idea that all distilleries would now make both unpeated and peated variants of their makes. We do believe in house styles, don't we? Colour: white wine. Nose: pure smoked porridge, with oatcakes soaked in lapsang souchong and orange zests smoked over burning pinewood. New wellies, new Pirellis. This is certainly not unpleasant, but was it necessary? To be discussed… Mouth: tar, rubber, lemons (it's crayzay how peat generates lemonness, just ask Laphroaig). I repeat, tar, rubber, lemons. Gets acrid and really gritty. Hello? Finish: long and all on coal tar and stuff. Comments: not only punishment in a glass and there sure is a fun side to this slightly sadistic juice, but you really have to love rubber and tar. And hey, didn't we recently enter the post-peat era?
SGP:457 - 79 points.

Glenturret 10 yo 'Peat Smoked' (50%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020)

Glenturret 10 yo 'Peat Smoked' (50%, OB, Maiden Release, 2020) Three stars
I thought the earlier, pre-Lalique batches had been pretty good (WF 80-ish) but let's see…  Colour: light gold. Nose: much rounder, easier, more fruit-coated, also with more garage-y smells, old Volkswagen, bicycle inner tube, breads and mint (I know, odd), greasy gauze, citron liqueur and limoncello, pencil eraser… Well it goes into all directions, really. Water may help… With water: niiice! Raw wool, leaven bread, grist, chalk, spent lees, tarmac… No quibbles, this is focused. Mouth (neat): good, almost easy, very compact this time. Tar, marmalade, lime juice, and rather ashes this time, which makes it a tad drying. With water: takes it rather a little well but do not go below 45 or it'll  get too drying. Oh well do not add any waters. Finish: long, rather good, not too 'mainlandy' (I know), a tad green and gingery. Comments: these ones are not that easy to handle and it's not like if there was no Lagavulin, Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Bowmore or Caol Ila left in the world. So it is a little 'why?' but I do find it 'good'. Just not totally necessary.
SGP:557 - 81 points.

The 30, of course.

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

 

April 5, 2021


Whiskyfun

Another bag of bastards

Or when we just don't quite know about what we're drinking. After all, we now know about the very places where they grow our tomatoes or carrots, or raise the cows, while more and more whiskies have to be anonymous!

Blend On The Run 29 yo (45.6%, WhiskySponge, blended malt, 314 bottles, 2020)

Blend On The Run 29 yo (45.6%, WhiskySponge, blended malt, 314 bottles, 2020) Four stars and a half
This was last year's 'Christmas Lockdown special'. Seeing this label, could be that we've lost The Sponge for good and forever. And don't we all know that Sir Paul died a long time ago? Oh, and I had forgotten that there was my humble face on this label… Colour: deep amberish caramel. Nose: not one of those blends where you can spot the main components, this is a true blended malt, with many influences, from a camphory smokiness to roasted nuts and tobaccos, as well as the usual dried figs, dates, bananas and just, well, a Christmas cake indeed. Rather sherry-driven, with the expected leafiness. Wee whiffs of truffle cream, some earth too, horse saddle, cracked pepper... You could go on and on and on. Mouth: I'm reminded of some older sherried 'As We Get Its' here, and of some much spicier Glenfarclas. A very wide range of flavours, with both pipe tobacco and cigars, chocolate and coffee, truffles and leather, walnut wine, a sherried coastal smoke, drops of sweeter Teppanyaki sauce, Marmite, PX, many spices, cloves and caraway, plasticine… Finish: very long, rather herbs and spice-driven, I suppose you could make a nice marinade out of this fat baby. Comments: a thick boy, we could almost call this one 'leave and let dye' (ha-ha), 'but I like it' (that was another band, S.)
SGP:563 - 89 points.

Blended Malt 19 yo (45%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, blended malt, 2021)

Blended Malt 19 yo (45%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, blended malt, 2021) Two stars
Yeah, and? Colour: amber. Nose: late 1980s Macallan. Good not great, with some cardboard, hay, crushed nuts, grasses and leaves, supermarket wholegrain bread, tapioca and grist, Swedish bread… Boy is this dry! Mouth: a little better, spicy, peppery, bitter, on Schweppes and cheap industrial gin. Me not quite comprendo why this, but me not ask for explanations. Sour cherries. Finish: medium, bitter, leafy leathery. Comments: the incarnated limits of maltdom. No origins, not very good, and totally a lame duck within an otherwise superb set of whiskies from Elixir's, as if they had wanted to say 'see, we can do bad ones too if we want to'… Well, only a personal opinion, to be discussed over a magnum of Pol.
SGP:361 - 72 points.

Scarabus 'Batch Strength' (57%, Hunter Laing, Islay, 2020)

Scarabus 'Batch Strength' (57%, Hunter Laing, Islay, 2020) Four stars and a half
Love love love Hunter Laing, but I'm asking you, what the hell does 'batch strength' mean? Having said that, the 10 yo at normal strength was glorious. Colour: white wine. Nose: crystal-clean coastal smoke, in the style of those Finlaggans from the olden days. Tincture of iodine, sweat smoke, smoked kippers, gherkins, oysters, whelks, crabs, kelp, cucumbers. With water: marvellous high-precision blade-y coastal peated malt whisky. Very pure and 'millimetric'. Mouth (neat): just super-great-very-good. White asparagus, glue, olives, brine, barnacles. I mean, in the words of Captain Haddock, blistering barnacles! With water: perfect. Hate it that such young whisky bearing a neo-Victorian label and a very lousy name would be this good. It's the end of it all! Finish: perfection rolling out. Salt, lemons, seashells, brine, olives… Comments: reminds me of those cheap aguardientes you can buy incognito in Cuba when no one's watching (which, granted, doesn't happen very often). Very pure and pretty perfect.
SGP:467 - 89 points.

Peat Cubed (57.9%, Elements of Islay, for La Maison du Whisky, 2020)

Peat Cubed (57.9%, Elements of Islay, for La Maison du Whisky, 2020) Four stars and a half
I mean, what? Now it seems that this is a marriage of Laphroaig, Caol Ila, and Octomore. You can't have enough fun these days anyway. Colour: gold. Nose: okay. Mercurochrome, whelks, fudge, liquorice wood, manzanilla. Simplistically nice. With water: fresh plaster, chalk, concrete, sour ale, rainwater… Mouth (neat): very good, young cake-y and salty peat. Smoke and masala, bamboo shoots, salted lemony brine, pickled lemons and gherkins, white Hampden... indeed things eventually join. With water: lime juice and gherkin brine. Finish: long,  a tad rounder. Balsa wood, lemon, mezcal, olives, capers... Comments: age? Distilleries? Vintages? Excellent stuff, nonetheless. As I sometimes said, hate it that I like it. Nah, brilliant composition, but let's talk about nitrosamines next time, okay?  
SGP:367 - 89 points.

The Nameless Four 12 yo 2007/2020 (47.8%, The Whisky Mercenary, Highlands)

The Nameless Four 12 yo 2007/2020 (47.8%, The Whisky Mercenary, Highlands) Four stars
A single malt from the Highlands. Any clues on the label? Well there's some kind of Cruella De Vil on it. Macallan? Colour: white wine. Nose: very fresh fruitiness, with some chalk, cider apples, gooseberries, then blood oranges, lime blossom, lamp oil, and a little fresh bread. Ultra-fresh indeed, reminding me of some batches of 'C.' Mouth: slightly salty, grassy, on green walnuts at first, salted peanut butter, then green fruits (granny smith) and a hint of fresh coriander. Finish: a tad hottish for 'C.' so not too sure anymore. Rather long finish. Comments: nameless but certainly not tasteless.
SGP:462 - 85 points.

The Whisky Trail 38 yo 1980/2019 (44.2%, Elixir Distillers, for HNWS Taiwan, blend, cask #28, 273 bottles)

The Whisky Trail 38 yo 1980/2019 (44.2%, Elixir Distillers, for HNWS Taiwan, blend, cask #28, 273 bottles) Five stars
It's rather uncommon that a blended Scotch would bear a cask number. Could be one of those ex-Edrington casks of 'M.' that are popping out every once in a while these days. Colour: deep amber. Nose: we've mentioned dried bananas before and this starts all on that and old rum, so you could almost call this 'bananas flambéed', while clear notes of brandy de Jerez are also joining the dance after a few seconds. Hot chocolate, raisins, chocolate cake, old armagnac, touch of gunpowder, pinecones, brownies, crème de menthe… We're almost nosing an old V.O.R.S.. Classic old-sherry-style nose that that distillery starting with 'M.' used to be known for in its heydays. Mouth: bags of nuts, moss, chocolates, zests, old woods, marmalade, mint and eucalyptus… This is almost a blend of very old rum agricole, very old brandy de Jerez, and really old armagnac. I like it very much, if not three times more. I've seen somewhere that this came out of a proper 'solera' sherry butt, which would not surprise me indeed. Finish: long, dry, rather on Russian-style tea and tobaccos. Always this mentholated signature in the aftertaste, which I always liked a lot since it would leave your palate very fresh (and ready for the next one, ha-ha). Comments: an impressive, pretty opulent drop for sure. Well sourced and selected. I could have mentioned chartreuse as well.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

C.U. good folks.

 

April 4, 2021


Whiskyfun

Five rums for Easter

Do not expect any specific link to Easter, it's just that Easter happens on a Sunday and that Sunday is malternative day at Whiskyfun. This is going to be very varied this time again, we've long abandoned the idea of doing more coherent sessions, such as 'Dunder Special, Five Hampdens' or 'Your dentist will hate you, Thirty-seven Diplos'. Let's start from France this time again…

Dillon 2003/2019 'Single Cask' (43%, OB, Martinique, cask #901)

Dillon 2003/2019 'Single Cask' (43%, OB, Martinique, cask #901) Three stars and a half
This is a pretty old one by Martiniquain standards. It was fully matured in French oak. The Distillerie Dillon's located in the capital city, Fort de France, and now belongs to French group La Martiniquaise, also owners of Depaz, Saint-James, Cutty Sark and Glen Moray Distillery. Colour: gold. Nose: this is agricole, it's got the Martinique AOC, and a nose to match, aromatic yet not heady at all, nor ridden with tropical fruits. It's more all cigarette tobacco, raisins, dried dates and figs, with drops of mint essence, some cedar wood for sure, incense, fudge, very ripe bananas, and not such a vast amount of spices. Probably not virgin French oak. Mouth: much, and mean much spicier, starting right with a lot of cinnamon and nutmeg, going on with black chocolate and ground coffee, then rather old cognac, a feeling of old oloroso, and a good dose of leather. A lot of bitter oak, but that's not unusual and certainly not unpleasant. We're just not used to these amounts in whisky. Finish: rather long, extremely dry. Bitter chocolate, tobacco, nutmeg. Touches of oranges in the aftertaste, also a lot of black pepper. Comments: the palate was a little extreme, but quality's pretty high, in my opinion.
SGP:471 - 84 points.

Let's move to

El Pasador de Oro 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2020)

El Pasador de Oro 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2020) Three stars
Your attention please, this was finished for a few months in Cognac wood in the Charentes region! These dissonant set-ups (dissonant on the paper) always scare me, but let's keep an open mind.  Colour: rich gold. Nose: the name Guatemala is scary too indeed as far as rum goes, but I have to say this seems balanced, not overly sweet and 'stupidly luscious' and rather on roasted nuts, milk chocolate, and marzipan-filled dates. Once you've tried that you're trapped forever. Notes of mocha too, that's pretty lovely. Let's hope the palate will 'behave'… Mouth: there is a sweetishness but nothing troubling, while the body's a little thin perhaps. However, I'm instantly reminded of my favourite Cuban, Santiago 11 yo. So I like it despite this caramelly and obviously rather molassy profile. Nice little touches of tar. Finish: medium, almost gaining body, with notes of triple-sec (which isn't sec/dry at all, always wondered why these terms). Comments: good and smart work here, and a good surprise. I was having the lower end of the 70-80 part of the scale ready!
SGP:630 - 82 points.

Travellers 13 yo 2007/2020 (62.1%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, 285 bottles)

Travellers 13 yo 2007/2020 (62.1%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, 285 bottles) Three stars and a half
These Travellers tend to lose me as I sometimes find them 'cross-category', both light/thin and heavier/thicker. Colour: golden amber. Nose: too strong, I'm not sure the high-ethanol lets many things pass. Orange cake, perhaps? With water: all things oranges coming out, always a great sign in my book. Cointreau, marmalade, bergamots, a little nougat too… And more orange cake. Mouth (neat): it's rather oranges galore, it seems, but boy is this strong. A feeling of liquid rum baba. With water: pure orange juice! Plus some kind of sweet flat bread, there are so many breads in this world, I do not manage to keep track, but I adore most. Finish: medium, on cakes and oranges. Popcorn in the aftertaste. Comments: not much to add.
SGP:541 - 83 points.

Sample Eleven Extra-Matured (54.8%, Kintra Spirits and The Rum Mercenary, blended rum, +/-2020)

Sample Eleven Extra-Matured (54.8%, Kintra Spirits and The Rum Mercenary, blended rum, +/-2020) Four stars and a half
A blend finished in a Worthy Park cask. We're seeing these kinds of combinations in whisky too. Colour: straw. Nose: right, it's like if you make, say pasta with olives. Or garlic rice. In short, WP stands out loud and clear, perfect top dresser here. Olives, tar, earth, seawater, and just a wee slice of vanilla cake. With water: just more of all that, with an awesome fermentary side. Mouth (neat): same, this must have been WPE! More olives, capers, anchovies, brine, tar, liquorice, lemons… Excellent! Hold on, was it a blend of Worthy Parks that's been finished in Worthy park?  Seriously, I'm also finding oranges in the background, once again. Moist orange pound cake glazed with Grand-Marnier, something like that. With water: once again, water just makes it easier, and perhaps just a notch more orange-y and less on the mighty WP. Finish: long, saltier. Excellently fresh. Comments: brainwave. Possibly my favourite bended rum, not taking the 'single blends' into account. Almost 90.
SGP:463 - 89 points.

Let's stay in Jamaica with our last rum today…

Appleton Estate 1995/2020 (63%, OB, Hearts Collection, Jamaica, 300 bottles)

Appleton Estate 1995/2020 (63%, OB, Hearts Collection, Jamaica, 300 bottles) Five stars
Last year we've tried brother 1994 (WF 91) and sister 1999 (WF 87) but this little 1995 had slipped between our paws, for no known reasons. What's to be remembered is that all three are pot still rums, a first at Appleton. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: litres of maraschino (Velier's influence?) plus some immaculate Spanish chocolate, a fresh-opened box of Cuban cigars, and a wide range of tiny old ointments, with camphor, eucalyptus, menthol, propolis, resins, petroleum, seaweed, green clay… Some cedar wood too. With water: carbon dust, ink, coal, olives, new electronics, more ointments (natural tar)… and loads of oregano. I find this just awesome. Mouth (neat): Velier's house style, ultra-powerful, with heavy concentrations and shock-full amounts of liquorice. Crazy. With water: yes, it's green, bitter, acrid, ultra-liquoricy, and mucho lovable if you enjoy this heavily liquorice-driven style. Finish: long. Liquid salted liquorice, with the tiniest acetic touch (balsamico). Comments: distilling liquorice, that's an idea. Seriously, this was extreme, probably too bitter technically, and I'm sure some would claim it's flawed, but this baby's got a 'John-Bonham' side that you just cannot resist. Cra-zy.
SGP:374 - 91 points.

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

 

April 2, 2021


Whiskyfun
WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

March 2021

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1990/2020 (45.5%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Virtual Feis Ile 2020, Edition 4, 451 bottles) - WF91

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, +/-1995) - WF93

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Millstone 5 yo (43%, OB, Holland, American oak, +/-2020)  - WF88

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Armagnac 45 yo 1975/2020 (47.9%, Asta Maurice, cask # AMF001, 150 bottles)  - WF90

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Macallan 12 yo 'Double Cask' (40%, OB, +/-2020)  - WF77

 

Sorry about that April Fools Day prank yesterday (and thanks to all friends who believed it was real, I'm chuffed to bits!)

 

April 1, 2021


Whiskyfun

We are chuffed to bits!

 

 

We are absolutely delighted to hear that we've been named Icons of Whisky's Whisky Website Design of the Year 2021 in the 20 years or more category. It's really an honour, so gigantic thanks to Whisky Mag for this flabbergasting recognition; on the Web, yellow is the new white! I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Whiskyfun team (well, Angus and the cats) as well as all our ever-growing gathering of friends and readers all around this little planet. We shall raise a glass of Brora newmake with everybody to celebrate. Oh, and a few anonymous Speysiders... Cheers, santé, slàinthe!

 

A few anonymous Speysiders

A recurrent theme at WF Towers. On the other hand we've already found quite a few stunners within this ever-growing category. Let's kick this off with a very uncertain (to put it mildly) brand new bottling from London...

April Fool 'Extremely Young' (51.7%, The Whisky Exchange, Speyside Single Malt, First Release, 1st fill bourbon, 869 bottles, 2021)

April Fool 'Extremely Young' (51.7%, The Whisky Exchange, Speyside Single Malt, First Release, 1st fill bourbon, 869 bottles, 2021) Four stars and a half
This baby had first been advertised as an 'extremely young whisky' until this morning, when the very honourable bottlers in London announced that this 'single malt from Speyside' was actually 30 years old, while just two minutes ago, an
anonymous phone call from a certain Mr. Billy A. to WF HQ revealed that, as the papers came in, they realised that the casks had been sheltering some two-year-and-a-half old 'Japanese whisky' instead – actually a blend of Indian, Canadian and Scotch spirits, the kind that many unscrupulous brokers have been trying to get rid of before April 1, 2021. Even worse, they found out that all casks had been flavoured finished with some thick concoction branded 'Pedro, from Huelva', while one cask was even marked 'C.A.N.A.C.O. Lagavulin'. A brand new marketing stunt, apparently, CANACO being the acronym for 'Cask Aged Near A Cask Of'. But nothing scares us, let's try it… Colour: light gold. Nose: you do feel the williams pears usually associated with young whiskies – whichever the actual age of this baby – then barley water, overripe apples, custard, ripe Provence melons, ripe greengages, and, well, just a whole fruit salad. We're well in spring; as Bill Evans used to say, we must believe in spring. With water: even fresher, the fruit salad going more for citrus, especially all kinds of oranges. And is it still allowed to mention IPA? And cassata mix, custard, raisins, zests... Mouth (neat): lovely, very fruity, and yet with good breads and cakes. Rather towards bananas and oranges, then orchard fruit (more ripe greengages, pears) and some tight, lemony spices. Extremely refreshing but never forget that the strength is, well, 51.7% vol. With water: excellent, a notch breadier again. Fresh raisins rolls 'not too dark'. Finish: medium, fresh and fruity, with these tiny herbs in the aftertaste. Green tea, mint… I know, tea is hardly a tiny herb, it's a camelia! Comments: the Pedro was totally undetectable. Not sure there was any, another promise not kept! And how is this 'extremely young?' Sounds like an ad for L'Oréal. Oh and it drinks much too well.
SGP:641 - 88 points.

UPDATE: what's more, new pictures this morning revealed that the label is probably radioactive

While we are at it, let's have a few more undisclosed… things…

Speyside Blended Malt 30 yo 1989/2020 (56.8%, Le Gus't, blended malt, fino butt, cask #1852, 535 bottles)

Speyside Blended Malt 30 yo 1989/2020 (56.8%, Le Gus't, blended malt, fino butt, cask #1852, 535 bottles) Five stars
A little bird told me this could be Burnside, whilst another little bird told me Burnside was Balvenie. But do we still believe birds in the age of Facebook, Twitch and TikTok? Colour: straw. Nose: I would swear the fino is pretty obvious, but then again, the power of your mind… You know, mustard, curry and fresh walnuts… With even a feeling of distant peat smoke, like a stroll near a kiln. Then more traditional meads, ciders, mirabelles starting to ferment (way before distillery time), plus just, well regular mirabelles and apricots. Which is pretty 'B' in my book. With water: wee whiffs of bicycle inner tube, then custard and mirabelle pie. Fresh plum pudding. Mouth (neat): rounder and fruitier, but the fino-y side remains there in the middle, with a little smoked mustard. Making this up, not sure anyone ever tried to smoke mustard, unless that's slang somewhere. You never know. In any case, there's a feeling of Ben Nevis now… Gasp, this baby's not easy to follow… which is just great. With water: incredible how this fino leads you to the West Coast. You tell be this is from Fort Williams or Campbeltown and I reply 'okay'. It's even a little salty, waxy for sure, and naturally, full of fresh walnuts. Finish: rather long, coastal and salty, and very coherent. The waxes are superb. A few sour fruits, cherries… Comments: rrrrrrright up my alley. Wonderful, all distillers should use much more fino wood. But I suppose fino (15% vol.) doesn't travel as well to the bodegas as oloroso (18% vol.) or PX/moscatel (sugarbombs). Pure speculations on this strange day.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

Those were fabulous 30yos, let's see if we find one or two more old Speysiders (not to mention that you now have old casks from Speyside Distillery that some indies would label… the same).

The Old Speysider 27 yo 1992/2019 (46.3%, Svenska Eldvatten, bourbon hogshead, cask #SE111, 257 bottles)

The Old Speysider 27 yo 1992/2019 (46.3%, Svenska Eldvatten, bourbon hogshead, cask #SE111, 257 bottles) Five stars
These good people rather floored me recently, with some of their 'Silent Swedes'. Colour: straw. Nose: maracuja, ripe apples, pear liqueur, mangos, orange blossom honey, honeydew melon, marshmallows, and a good glass of gewurztraminer vendanges tardives. This is undisputable. Mouth: to be honest, I'm reminded of another vintage, older by some twenty odd years. Glen Grant, Caperdonich, Glenlivet, even Glengoyne… 1972! Amazing fruity and 'beehive-y' whiskies, while this one's in the same vein, extremely seductive (is that word still okay?) and simply resembling a wonderful fruit salad with just drops of that secret sauce that would make any fruit salad stand out, honey + olive oil + a hint of pepper. No, the proportions are a secret and if I ever tell you I'll have to divorce. 75%, 20%, 5%. Finish: medium, a tad grassier and more on teas, which was to be expected. Comments: 100 on the drinkability index. Amazing fruity drop. I'm lucky my dear wife never reads WF.
SGP:741 - 90 points.

Secret Speyside Distillery 1994/2020 (48.1%, Whisky Nerds, hogshead, cask #30, 324 bottles)

Secret Speyside Distillery 1994/2020 (48.1%, Whisky Nerds, hogshead, cask #30, 324 bottles) Four stars and a half
I have a good feeling yet again… Colour: gold. Nose: more active wood in this one, more spicy breads, ginger cookies, rye… You would almost believe this is American. Having said that, it tends to calm down, with rather more overripe apples, pumpernickel, pipe tobacco, then rather some kind of citrusy waxes. Scented candles. A little earth too, curious about this cask's former content. Mouth: yeah well this is excellent too. Rather on jams and liqueurs this time, with a metallic touch and quite some earthiness yet again. Some mead and some tobacco – I remember some whisky-flavoured pipe tobacco in the old days, but the name escapes me. Macallan Classic Cut? (don't bother, just another silly joke). Finish: long, rather sweet – not sickly sweet - and more on honeys and sweet-spiced marmalades. Comments: not a light drop, but everything was pretty perfect, if a little jammy? Now let's talk about the cask…
SGP:652 - 88 points.

We've mentioned 1972, but in the spirit of contradiction…

Speyside Distillery 47 yo 1973/2020 (45%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 338 bottles)

Speyside Distillery 47 yo 1973/2020 (45%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 338 bottles) Five stars
Every year, with these series of secret old Speysiders, we're thinking 'these are the last ones, the well must be dry'. And yet… Colour: gold. Nose: and there, a beehive, many honeys, many overripe apples and pears, some old menthol-based embrocations and ointments, some marzipan and barley syrup, and this fear, hope the palate won't have got to the other side… Mouth: and every year, they have not. Superb honeys of all kinds (especially manuka, which doesn't happen often), a flowery side, some funny, very subtle meaty notes (wee bits of Parma ham, perhaps), a little liquorice, many old sweet wines that have got dry since they digested their natural sugars (great very old Sauternes, for example, or Trockenbeerenauslese from Rheingau…) Oh one day I'll tell you that story about when I came back from Bonn with a wee bottle of Johannisberger Erntebringer TBA and left it in the kitchen. The next day, the sauce for the chicken had been the best I ever tasted. That was 30 years ago and see, I haven't divorced. Finish: medium, clean and fresh, with only wee hints of 'tired old wood' but those are only undiscernible murmurs, as they say in horror movies. Now I wouldn't have waited for one more year (which I already said last year, and shall say next year again, probably). Comments: seriously, I wouldn't push these glories to 50.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Perhaps a tighter young one as the sag wagon…

Ben Mhor 11 yo (55%, James MacArthur, +/-2005)

Ben Mhor 11 yo (55%, James MacArthur, +/-2005) Four stars
This is 'Pure Speyside Malt' and said to be Burnside, a.k.a. Balvenie. Hey, anyone able to discern Glenfiddich in any bottle of Burnside deserves to be rewarded with both the Order of the Garter and the Order of the Thistle. They all own some sorts of medals in the UK anyway, do they not? (love you, hugs and peace!) Oh and we're missing James MacArthur! Colour: straw. Nose: a rather raw, chalky arrival on the nose, with some grasses, flour, then I would say porridge and poor man's muesli, then watermelons. It is not extremely aromatic, to say the least, but water may help… With water: nice, soft, simple, on fresh croissants. Never forget that fresh croissants are the equivalent to Beluga caviar or proper Wagyu beef to any Frenchman. Mouth (neat): I find this good, a tad brutal, but well in the style of the official 15 yos 'single casks' that used to boggle our minds since the years and the vintages were never matching. Like, 15 years old 1977-1999. No, really. Good green plums, barley syrup, vanilla fudge, even a little butterscotch… What's sure is that this palate is many times more expressive than the nose, as long as water wasn't added. With water: charming, really, very 'natural', with many bready and barley-y flavours that would rather be for malt enthusiasts, if you see what I mean. Serious natural stuff. Finish: long, chalkier. Crunching barley. Comments: no ooh-aah seen-my-PX whisky at all, let's just hope some distinguished bottlers will keep bottling these very honest, un-pumped-up malts. I thought this one was absolutely excellent in this style – where are you, Arthur?
SGP:461 - 86 points.

(Merci Tim)

 

March 31, 2021


Whiskyfun

Little duos, Knockando official vs. independent

The little black hill. Not a very common session, as indie Knockandos are so rare. So I'm glad to be able to do this, even if it won't shake the whisky world or make the chatteratti blink an eye.

Knockando 21 yo 1997 'Master Reserve' (43%, OB, +/-2020)

Knockando 21 yo 1997 'Master Reserve' (43%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
I've always had a soft spot for these very realistically priced bottles that are, in France, rather positioned as some ueber-Cardhu. So they're rather 'budget' and do sometimes appeal to blend drinkers. Some true access-category malt that you'll find at around 55€. For a 21 yo!  Colour: gold. Nose: you'd almost believe you're nosing a can of Ovaltine powder. Well I suppose it's better than a malt whisky would be very malty if you want to catch drinkers of J&B and assorted light boozes. Also chocolate and oranges, Jaffa cakes, chocolate bars, cornflakes, a little pipe tobacco, toasts… I think I like it much more than last time, but it was a different vintage. Mouth: frankly this goes down well, it's perfectly dry, even a little on salted ham and soy sauce, with good walnuts (cake), brownies, and indeed Ovaltine. Touches of mushrooms too, it's getting pretty earthy, but just not as drying as other batches. A little honey too. Finish: medium, on mead, chocolate, coffee, tobacco and once again, a touch of salt. A little sweet and sour sauce in the aftertaste, teriyaki-style. Comments: really a lot of black chocolate in this one! Frankly, I find it excellent and possibly in progress, while I used to prefer the youngest expressions of K.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Knockando 12 yo 2007/2020 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #304102-304106)

Knockando 12 yo 2007/2020 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #304102-304106) Three stars and a half
This could be Knockando without any 'sherry', perhaps in the style of the superb old 12s from, well, 30 years ago. Or maybe is it nothing, just an average Speysider like they have millions of casks over there in Caledonia. Let's see… Colour: white wine. Nose: rather all on fruity and sour, doughy malt. We're nosing some fresh-crushed barley with drops of lemon juice and pils beer. Perhaps gueuze as well, certainly fresh baguette, with then subtler notes of brand new books and newspapers, including a little ink, of course. Whisky for bookworms? Mouth: it's really amusing that we would be this close to the official 21 despite the obvious lack of anything 'sherry'. Which means that this very 'Ovaltine/Ovomaltine' style does come from the distillate. All for the better of you ask me, this is perfect if you ever need to show anyone the difference between any whisky and 'malt' whisky. Some chocolate too, dry energy bars, Guinness… Finish: medium, very malty. More Guinness. Comments: really a showcase bottle to have in your bar. Want malt whisky, my friend?
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Happy with these 'No can do', as our dear Italian friends would say. Well, both have been very malty indeed. See you.

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

 

March 30, 2021


Whiskyfun

Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions,
today Mannochmore

We always liked to do these kinds of set-ups, but there aren't that many opportunities to do so these days. It's to be remembered that Mannochmore is a relatively recent distillery, as it started 'burning' only in 1971. And then, they made Loch Dhu out of it… (joking!)

Mannochmore 11 yo 2008/2020 (52.5%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #16612, 338 bottles) Mannochmore 11 yo 2008/2020 (52.5%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #16612, 338 bottles)

Mannochmore 11 yo 2008/2020 (52.5%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #16612, 338 bottles) Four stars
Colour: very pale white wine. Expect some distillate-driven whisky. Nose: perfect on all accounts. Lemon and green apple, chalk and grist, cupcake and teas. That would be matcha cupcakes. Perfect raw clean textured malt whisky. With water: more on porridge and tapioca soup, perhaps. Oats, marrow, bouillon… That's superb and to me, works like Proust's madeleine. Mouth (neat): excellent, clean, tight and narrow spirit. A Sylvaner of malt whisky; shall we say. More lemons, green apples, breads, cakes, and then these fruits that, in my humble experience, are often to be found in good young 'naked' Speysiders, gooseberries and greengages. Impeccably clean. With water: sweeter and rounder, rather deep into barley flavours, as well as lemons and white beers. Finish: long, grassier. Apples and sourdough. Comments: the splendours of refill wood on a good distillate. A bit un-modern, perhaps?
SGP:551 - 86 points.

And so the older counterpart…

Mannochmore 18 yo 1977/1996 (60.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Mannochmore 18 yo 1977/1996 (60.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Three starsAh those small cream labels, always reassuringly telling you that the whisky was matured in an oak cask… It's true that amaranth and blackwood were already rather too expensive back in the days. Colour: straw. Nose: typical benzene, muesli, sourdough, fruit peelings, fermenting grass, then aspirin, chalk and clay. There, fresh concrete while we're at it. With water: this wonderful feeling of smelling black earth after a heavy shower. And the craziest pumpernickel. Mouth (neat): very medicinal, sour and waxy, with this feeling of sucking a bit of plastic. Frankly, I'm really not too sure now, I've even heard that Elon Musk is buying up all these bottles at auctions to make fuel for SpaceX out of them. With water: plastics and waxes, on sour cream and whey. Finish: long, grassy, perhaps a little gentler this time, with notes of white currant wine. Tried that once in my life but I'll remember it forever. Clay and sourdough are back in the aftertaste. Comments: cubist whisky, really. Very hard to score, should we really need to score it.
SGP:362 - 80 points.

(Merci Tim!)

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

 

March 29, 2021


Whiskyfun

Tullibardine, an independent quintet

Tullibardine's a bit like Fettercairn, Glenturret, or even Edradour as the latter used to be two decades ago, unpredictable. So, some ups and some downs but on the other hand, the ravages of modern oak/wine-driven whisky production (nutshell, all good, all the same) are now making those idiosyncrasies stand out more and more. Unless them too would be starting to bury their singular makes under tons of vanillin or PX… Let's see what we have…

Tullibardine 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, bourbon, 2020)

Tullibardine 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, bourbon, 2020) Three stars
There's been some excellent 1993s by CAD lately, but this ought to be a 2007. Colour: white wine. Nose: as expected, full of crushed bitter leaves (some kind of rustic pesto), ginger, leather, rye dough, natural rubber and just plain grass. Notes of avocado juice in the background, with a little guava too, which makes it easier for sure. Mouth: rather raw, eau-de-vie-ish, on kirschwasser and damson spirit, then oatcakes and perhaps sour cherries. Then rather more bitter, with a lot of tea, bitter almonds and just green wood. Finish: rather long, more on breads and citrus, as well as more green tea and ginger. More sour cherries in the aftertaste. Comments: very rustic but rather charming. One for your hipflask, I would advise.
SGP:361 - 80 points.

Let's try another 13…

Tullibardine 13 yo 2007/2020 (59.3%, Golden Cask, cask #CM263, 219 bottles)

Tullibardine 13 yo 2007/2020 (59.3%, Golden Cask, cask #CM263, 219 bottles) Three stars and a half
Unless I'm wrong, Tullibardine has been belonging to small French group 'Terroir Distillers' for around ten years now. Terroir in whisky indeed… Colour: white wine. Nose: same make as that of the Cadenhead, just a tad fruitier but that may well be the higher ABV. Dough, grass, cherry leaves, oranges. With water: some beeswax arising, bicycle inner tube, bitter almonds, amaretti… Mouth (neat): good sweet green fruits in abundance, especially granny smith, kiwis, then paraffin and Seville oranges. Notes of raw kirschwasser as well. With water: much sweeter now and rather all on barley water, with some orange drops and melon sherbet. The core remains a little grassy though. Finish: rather long, on candyfloss and marshmallows. Cherry stems and green tea in the aftertaste. Comments: the fruits woke up when water was added. Solid drop.
SGP:561 - 83 points.

Perhaps a modern youngster…

Tullibardine 5 yo 2015/2020 (56%, Dram Mor, 1st fill oloroso, cask #9900098)

Tullibardine 5 yo 2015/2020 (56%, Dram Mor, 1st fill oloroso, cask #9900098) Four stars
Distillation by the 'new' owners, obviously. Let's see if this is another Kavalan of Scotland… Colour: amber. Nose: but of course. Butterscotch, maple syrup, a little acetone, raisins soaked in rum, café latte (that'll be +5€, thank you), Nutella. Had the cask been STRised? With water: same plus a little chicken bouillon, with mandatory parsley and bits of chives. A drop of Bovril too. Mouth (neat): the cherry-leaf side of Tullibardine's well there, so the heavy cask treatment did not completely erase any distillery character this time, but the rest is on varnish, roasted nuts, halva, butterscotch, and some sweet wine, perhaps around Rivesaltes, other vins doux naturels etc. So, basically, raisins. With water: once again it got a tad meatier after reduction, also more on walnuts, on classic oloroso-type flavours… Finish: long, kind of on dry Mexican chocolate sauce. It's good fun to see it getting drier and drier over time, which is great as sugars will kill any finish/aftertaste in my book. Comments: excellent dram, but what was the distillery again? Joking. Partly.
SGP:452 - 85 points.

Tullibardine 2013/2019 (53.6%, Or Sileis, Craftsman Selection, sherry, cask #10523693, 111 bottles)

Tullibardine 2013/2019 (53.6%, Or Sileis, Craftsman Selection, sherry, cask #10523693, 111 bottles) Four stars
Our friends in Taiwan are doing every effort with their colourful labels. Colour: deep gold. Nose: some care has been given to the wood here, which was pretty active. Vanilla and mangos, then papayas and bananas, then praline and brioche, then raisins and a wee drop of prune sauce (hoisin). No complains whatsoever, even if once again, distillery character may have been swept under the carpet, so to speak. With water: whiffs of menthol and verbena rising to your nostrils. That just always works. Mouth (neat): very good, sweet and spicy, with excellent citrus, pomelos, marmalade, coriander perhaps, a little sweet curry, crème catalane, Stolle… With water: perfect modern malt whisky. Vanilla, tropical fruits, mentholy herbs, citrus, Thai spices, brioche. Globalised Scotch malt whisky – again, no complains here. Finish: rather long, perfect, fresh, balanced, with good citrus and passion fruits. Vanilla in the signature. Comments: very excellent dram, but which was the distillery again?
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Tullibardine 14 yo 2006/2020 (55.3%, Lady of the Glen, rum barrel finish, cask #36, 218 bottles)

Tullibardine 14 yo 2006/2020 (55.3%, Lady of the Glen, rum barrel finish, cask #36, 218 bottles) Four stars
Rather double maturation than a simple finishing, as it spent half of its life in the rum cask (I know some friends who would happily do the same – no, they're not named Diogenes). Colour: light gold. Nose: crushed bananas, chamomile, tangerines, barley syrup, cane syrup, beeswax, orange blossom honey, panettone… But wait, this is awesome! With water: big whiffs of natural 'bourbon' vanilla, Meursault, Champagne blanc de blancs, milk chocolate... This is truly awesome indeed. Mouth (neat): very good, with superb waxy citrus, tangerines galore, oranges, more oranges, even more oranges… In truth we've left Whiskydom, but this is so nice that no one would even consider think of complaining about that. With water: old-skool herbal liqueurs and just a little too much paraffin – is that the distillate speaking out? Citron liqueur. Finish: medium, clean, citrusy, rounded, with some honey and some beeswax. More cane syrup too. Comments: I say do this again.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Pleasant session, they never stopped getting better. In Alsatian – and German, we call this a 'Himmelsleiter'. There, say it… Now, God is at 100/100. Just saying…

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

 

March 28, 2021


Whiskyfun

Caution

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

 

Our traditional bag of rums on Sunday

This and that from various corners of our world…

Darboussier 'Rhum Vieux Hors d'Âges" (45%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2020)

Darboussier 'Rhum Vieux Hors d'Âges" (45%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2020) Three stars
A brand name that refers to an ancient sugar factory in Guadeloupe. I don't think it is agricole, rather 'rhum de sucrerie', so molasses-based. Colour: golden amber. Nose: I find it extremely floral and fruity, rather on lilies and dandelions, pineapples and ripe bananas, touches of litchi, muscat and gewurztraminer, then rather some heather honey, so it's all very aromatic, yet nicely fresh and certainly not too heady. Lovely whiffs of crushed Szechuan pepper too, quinces, red apricots, pink grapefruits... Lovely indeed, hope the palate won't be too sweet. Mouth: absolutely not, I'm rather finding a little furniture polish and varnish, some salted liquorice, salted chocolate, a little butterscotch, paprika, then dried bananas. The saltiness is both intriguing and welcome. Salted fudge. Finish: medium, very clean, caramelly, sweet but never sugarish. Pretty good. Comments: I believe this is made by Madras in Pointe-à-Pitre but don't quote me. I wasn't expecting much.
SGP:641 - 81 points.

Another Frenchy at 45% vol…

Depaz 7 yo 'VSOP' (5%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2019)Depaz 7 yo 'VSOP' (5%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2019)

Depaz 7 yo 'VSOP' (5%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
Depaz is agricole, obviously. Probably rather drier than the surprisingly pleasant Darboussier. Colour: deep gold. Nose: more varnish at first, then damp earth and a dirtyish, almost dunnage-y development. Some overripe or even rotting fruits, especially bananas, then pine needles, resin, something terpenic, overripe pineapples… Clearly some action here, but curious about how that'll translate onto our palate… Mouth: the Darboussier was probably a little 'commercial', while this isn't, at all. More rotting fruits, peelings, heavy liquorice over fir honey and resins, stewed peaches, something a little metallic… In a way, you may call this 'a Glenturret from Martinique'. If you see what I mean… Finish: rather long, a tad sweer and sour, with some old oak. Strawberry yoghurt in the aftertaste. Comments:
SGP:551 - 79 points.

Off to Guyana…

Port Mourant 17 yo 2002/2020 (51.7%, The Rum Mercenary, Guyana)

Port Mourant 17 yo 2002/2020 (51.7%, The Rum Mercenary, Guyana) Four stars and a half
I have a good feeling here… Colour: gold. Nose: it is one of those very petroly batches, very dry, very much on carbon dust, brake pads, olive brine, capers, samphires, engine oil, with something acetic if not vinegary. You cannot not think of Jamaica. With water: whiffs of geranium – no worries though – then olive oil, old hessian, perhaps a little green pesto, and just seawater. Mouth (neat): at first you'd almost believe there was a little peat involved here. Then the much expected olives, both green and black, small pickled artichokes, fermenting cane juice (vesou), perhaps manioc beer (nihamanchi). With water: a little sweeter (small dried sultanas), and certainly earthier. Fun that it actually got rather less 'funky' after reduction. Pineapple chutney. Finish: long, a tad smoother than other middle-aged PMs, perhaps. Comments: yet it's another excellent one, more distillate-driven than the ones that are fully aged in the tropics.
SGP:553 - 89 points.

Diamond 17 yo 2003/2020 (59.3%, The Duchess, Guyana, cask #26)

Diamond 17 yo 2003/2020 (59.3%, The Duchess, Guyana, cask #26) Four stars
A good feeling here too. Colour: gold. Nose: rather more varnish, bark, butterscotch, quince jelly, pear cake... In short and unless the high voltage numbs it a wee bit, it's probably not a high-ester Diamond. The liquorice is loud though. With water: varnish and preserved fruits, with notes of rose petals and vetiver. Definitely not one that's very high on petrol and olives. Mouth (neat): a tad hot and spirity but mind you, 59.3% vol. With water: there, some salt, olive oil, seawater, salted liquorice, anchovies… Finish: long and rather on liquorice, seawater, and fermenting fruits. Say strawberries. Perfect aftertaste on cough drops. What we call 'Pulmoll'. Comments: another very excellent one by The Duchess. Hope she's not the Duchess of Sussex behind this lovely little company (oh S., come on!)
SGP:562 - 87 points.

Oh, we had this in the boxes…

Sixty Six 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (59%, OB, Foursquare, Barbados, +/-2016)

Sixty Six 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (59%, OB, Foursquare, Barbados, +/-2016) Four stars
One of Foursquare's brands. Not sure where it sits in the range, but doesn't any truth only lie in your glass anyway? (one of the most stupid sayings in the world if you ask me). I was about to try to do a silly joke with 'route 66 - root 66' and stuff but enough is enough. Colour: gold. Nose: it's a rounded, cake-y, fudge-y, panettone-y one. Some old Sauternes, some butterscotch, touch of cellulosic varnish, a few asparagus, bamboo shoots… Well, it is very 'Foursquare'. No wonder. With water: soft, on cakes, amaretti, macaroons, even meringues if you will… And cane 'honey'. Mouth (neat): could be that there would be more 'column' Foursquare in this, and consequently, less 'pot-still'. What's sure is that it's rather more bourbony than other Foursquares, a tad more on vanilla and, well vanilla vodka. Some sourer wood too. With water: soft and very good. Scones and pancakes with some maple syrup and more cane honey. Good vanilla-led coating, in the style of some bourbons. You'd even swear there is some rye in this. Finish: medium, sweeter, on nougat, with a little bubblegum. Comments: I agree it's a little bizarre to call a rum at 59% vol. 'Foursquare light'. Nevertheless, I find it very good.
SGP:640 - 85 points.

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

 

March 27, 2021


Whiskyfun

MJ

Happy International Whisk(e)y Day!

Every year since 2008, the original, truly non-commercial International Whisk(e)y Day celebrates the birthday of the late Michael Jackson, eternal king of whisky writing. Today raise a glass to Michael Jackson and please help fight Parkinson's Disease!

I would add that I'm proud that we could raise £4,470 for Parkinson's UK with the sale of Whiskyfun's cask of Kornog earlier this year, and would suggest you donate, say the price of a lousy blend to this very worthy cause yourself, in remembrance of Michael Jackson.
Cheers, pace e salute! - S.

  Parkinson's

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Remembering Michael Jackson on his birthday
I met Michael Jackson only once, at Whisky Live Glasgow in 2005. I was only 19 at the time and yet I remember the conversation very clearly.

 

I introduced myself and informed him I was a fan of his writing and what sticks in my head most of all is that he listened to what I had to say and took the time to answer. He also asked me some questions in return and was generous with his time in a way he didn't need to be. He took time and paid attention and was completely charming and authentic. Someone who clearly loved whisky and beer as an enthusiast first and foremost.

 

 

The lasting impression for me is that he was a writer, and a man, with humility and not too much ego. Someone who was interested in people as much as in their products, unfussy and genuinely curious. It was a long way from any number of other whisky 'people' I've encountered over the years who have been boringly wrapped up in their own legend. I wish I'd known him properly and had occasion to share a dram with him and talk at length. But, as it is, he left a lasting and important legacy in the way we write about whisky, and the language and systems of communication we use to describe it.

 

 

Seeing as today is his birthday, let's begin with two of Scotland's newest single malts. It strikes me that, if he were still with us, he'd be just as excited as many of us continue to be about whisky and the promising times ahead for those of us interested in quality and characterful single malts.

 

 

Torabhaig 2017/2020 (46%, OB, Inaugural Release, Legacy Series, first fill bourbon, cask #300-600, 32,000 bottles)

Torabhaig 2017/2020 (46%, OB, Inaugural Release, Legacy Series, first fill bourbon, cask #300-600, 32,000 bottles)
To tell you the truth, life must be passing me by in a blur; I hardly even knew there was another distillery on Skye, let along that it was of age already. Anyway, I think it's cool that they would release such a large batch for their first bottling so that many folks could actually taste it. I've heard nothing but good reports about this one but let's see what, precisely, is what… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: look, I know Skye only has Talisker besides this, but there is something 'Skye-ish' about this already. This assertive but polite mix of yeasty breads, lemon peel, chalk, white flowers and wet rocks all feels like it could pass for some young Talisker. There's a mineral edge as well, chalky, briny, salty, flinty and precise. Really, three years old you say? Mouth: taut, pristine and rather sharp. Lemon juice, sheep wool, lighter petrol notes, caraway and ink. Not just good young whisky, but good whisky full stop. Feels very pure, coastal and saline. Some very slight farmyard aspects too, such as this persistent sheep wool oiliness, and some nice white peppery notes. Finish: good length, briny, anchovies in oil, a slight camphor note and becoming more medical with embrocations and a little TCP. Some more gristy and yeasty aspects in the aftertaste betray some youthful imbalance perhaps. Comments: pristine, modern peated malt whisky. Are we perhaps entering an age where many such malts can easily reach a baseline of quality after only 3 years? I still find this charismatic and feel like time will only improve things. What a great start for a new distillery, I can't wait to go up and visit!
SGP: 366 - 86 points.

 

 

Dornoch 3 yo 2017/2020 (59.4%, OB, Thompson bros. first fill ex-oloroso butt, cask #1, 893 bottles)
Dornoch 3 yo 2017/2020 (59.4%, OB, Thompson bros. first fill ex-oloroso butt, cask #1, 893 bottles)

Dornoch 3 yo 2017/2020 (59.4%, OB, Thompson bros. first fill ex-oloroso butt, cask #1, 893 bottles)
The first bottling from some great friends who have made an unequivocally impressive achievement with their crazy micro distillery up there in Dornoch. When I talk about the coming decade of whisky being an exciting one, these are exactly the type of folk I'm referring to. Colour: gold. Nose: what is great is that you immediately know this is something different. It is not 'business as usual' whisky production. There's some sharpness of youth and some grisliness from the sherry that time might have further ironed out, but this is nit picking. What comes through most impressively is aromas of moss, agave, roasted vegetables (they like their turnips up there in Dornoch) clay, putty, camphor and caraway. Mashy, pulpy, mineral, greasy and oily. In short: the impression of texture and fatness is huge and impressive: a 'new' highlands style perhaps? Quite unlike anything else really. With water: more harmony between the spirit and the cask, the slightly salty, bacon notes of sherry mix with marzipan and almond oil. There's also fruit teas and hessian. Mouth: sharp to begin, then extremely bready and spicy, the sherry and distillate together delivery a lot of rye bread flavours and dark fruits. Also some bitter chocolate, unlit cigar, camphor, olive oil and bouillon stock. With water: very good now. Salty, wonderfully savoury and umami, these persistent breads, dark grains and spices, still slightly vegetal, earthy and with nice tobacco touches. Finish: long, spicy, bready, light notes of cured meats such as Iberico ham, and some tiny wee green fruits. Comments: what is important to remember here is that this really is the first cask filled. To get things this good on a first go and at three years old is hugely impressive in some ways. But in other ways perhaps it says a lot too about the fact that making good whisky is not technically mysterious - you simply need willpower, understanding and a business model designed around the value of quality over quantity. Oh, and a shit load of cash helps too! Anyway, bunnets aff' to the Thompsons…
SGP: 651 - 88 points.

 

 

If you don't mind, we'll also pay a quick visit to Campbeltown. After all, when it comes to whisky, looking to the future is best done with one eye on the past…

 

 

Springbank 26 yo 1993/2020 (51.1%, OB for Virtual Open Day 2020, two refill hogsheads, 432 bottles)

Springbank 26 yo 1993/2020 (51.1%, OB for Virtual Open Day 2020, two refill hogsheads, 432 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: some 93s are a bit wobbly in my view, but that is certainly not the case here. A stunning and direct aroma bristling with coastal freshness, waxes, beach pebbles, chalk, herbal teas and delicately scented with peat smoke. Pin sharp and totally sublime. With water: medicines, herbs, beach wood, canvass, rapeseed oil, lemongrass, tiger balm. Controlled, yet also complex. We're flying extremely high here. Mouth: totally brilliant! Textually perfect, waxy, thready notes of smoked olive oil, camphor, sandalwood, tea tree oil, bergamot, tangerine, dried papaya, generally a few notches more tropical than other casks from these vintages. But overall the sense of coastal vigour, waxy thickness and general Springbank power is just wonderful. With water: exquisite. Complex, powerful, elegantly peaty, perfectly coastal, chiselled notes of dried flowers, honeys, medicines, wood saps, precious teas. Finish: long, warming, honeyed, flecked with peat, olive oil, natural tar, verbena, medical ointments and sandalwood. Comments: a stunner! Probably the best 1993 Springbank I ever tried.
SGP: 563 - 93 points.

 

 

Longrow 1987/1999 (55%, Samaroli, cask #141)

Longrow 1987/1999 (55%, Samaroli, cask #141)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: take one part 70s Ardbeg, one part 80s Brora and one part 90s Springbank and… sell them at auction!!!! No, I'm kidding. But this is a nose that immediately suggests some kind of distillery mash up. Stunning oily and tarry peat, leathery camphor, seawater, iodine, fir wood and this medicinal accent that shares much DNA with those mid-90s Springbanks. Beyond that there's also tiny notes of coconut, roof pitch, Bonjella (medicine for mouth ulcers, I know, delicious!) and smoked fish. With water:  extremely pure now, on almonds, wet seaweed, driftwood, oysters and lime slices in pickling juice. Mouth: not as complex as the nose. More singular around tarry rope, oily peat, boiler fumes, black pepper, motor oil, camphor and salt-baked fish. Powerful and immensely charismatic, there's no other whisky quite like Longrow when it is on top form! With water: some kind of dystopian Monster Munch doused in kerosine. Totally brilliant! Finish: long, peaty, deeply oily, tarry, medicinal, crisply smoky and totally its own thing. Comments: because I don't try it very often, and because it can be variable on occasion, it's easy to forget just how much I bloody love Longrow!
SGP: 476 - 93 points.

 

 

Longrow 25 yo 1994/2020 (52.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 186 bottles)
Longrow 25 yo 1994/2020 (52.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 186 bottles)

Longrow 25 yo 1994/2020 (52.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 186 bottles)
Let us humbly try this without thinking too much about a certain North Star bottling which may or may not have been totally stunning… Colour: gold. Nose: gah! Stunning, yet again. Please prepare you smallest violins if you will. Exquisitely coastal, elegant, riddled with bandages, gauze, medicinal-accented peat smoke, touches of brine, dried seaweed, metal polish, iodine and shellfish boiling in seawater. You might also add smoked olive oil, preserved lemons, natural tar extract and sandalwood. Totally beautiful. With water: a guttural, gravelly minerality, also some green pepper and muddled fresh herbs. So, added freshness you might say. Mouth: immensely rich, mouth-coating and with a sublimely leathery peatiness. Tar, pepper, medicine, seawater, camphor, grapefruit, ointments, herbal liqueurs - just show-stopping. With water: it's the depth and breadth of the palate simultaneously expanding that is so impressive. Just keeps on giving and evolving. Finish: wonderfully long, oily, peaty, medical, fat and yet also still with freshness, citrus, coal smoke and seashore notes. Comments: if today's session were a poker hand, let's just say I'd happily be putting Serge's Aston Martin keys in the pot without hesitation!
SGP: 466 - 93 points.

 

 

Three times 93! I suspect Mr Jackson would have found that far too generous as he was a notoriously strict scorer. But then again, I wonder what he'd have made of many modern NAS bottlings today?

 

 

Big hugs to Andy and Catriona! And here's to Michael Jackson. 

 

 

 

 

March 25, 2021


Whiskyfun

Fight

Wee battles,
today Allt-A-Bhainne

 

I'll have to say it again, this ought to be pronounced 'Alt-ah-vanya' but if you're not 100% sure you'll nail it, you'd rather use 'Alta-bain' instead of making a fool of yourself (as I do myself all the time when in Scotland, they keep directing me to the Tourist Office!)

Allt-a-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (51.3%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 241 bottles)

Allt-a-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (51.3%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 241 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: ooh, this is right up my alley. Allt-A-Bhainne, are we sure? Limoncello, croissants, kiwis, rhubarb, a few cream eggs, touch of aloe vera, touch of custard… I find this splendidly modest, all natural, un-made-up, and so pretty perfect this far. Unless water kills it: of course it doesn't. More grass and green tea, all subtle and fresh. Touches of hops too, I believe. Mouth (neat): sweets and liqueurs, citrus first, then green fruits indeed, kiwis, rhubarb, candied angelica. Tangerine drops with a touch of coriander. Or there, mezcal lollypops, the ones where they add gusanos a.k.a. maguey worms inside. They're scary, not all kids love them. With water: pink pepper! Timut or Szechuan-style, this is brilliant, they're pretty citrusy and I know foodistas who find them too easy. I don't, I love them. Finish: medium, on just a little more of all that. Leaves you palate as fresh as Himalayan spring water. Comments: are we totally sure this is Allt-A-Bhainne?
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Allt-Â-Bhainne 24 yo 1995/2020 (57.9%, Golden Cask, cask # CM264, 202 bottles)

Allt-Â-Bhainne 24 yo 1995/2020 (57.9%, Golden Cask, cask # CM264, 202 bottles) Four stars
The excellent folks at Whisky-Online tell us that a large part of A-A-B's output goes into 100 Pipers. Ha. By the way, we have to applaud the fact that House of Macduff have written the name correctly, so with the accent on the A in the middle. Allt-Â-Bhainne. Colour: pale gold. Nose: probably more cask influence here, as there's more obvious coconut water and lanolin, putty, even a wee feeling of nosing a glass of Malibu. Which, naturally, not many people do but there, nice nose. Some Cointreau or Grand-Marnier as well. With water: rather bread and vanilla, maize bread, warm polenta, leaven... We always like that. Mouth (neat): very punchy! This is almost raw tequila indeed, although not one of the grassiest ones. Grapefruit liqueur, starfruit, grass, a feeling of cactus (but agave's no cactus)… With water: the palate's really not similar to the nose, it's much tenser, grassier, lemony…. Some sourness too, something that I enjoy as well. Finish: long, on lemon and grapefruit juices. Some pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: another lovely drop and a good fighter. The palate might not be for everyone.
SGP:471 - 85 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Allt-A-Bhainne we've tasted so far

 

March 24, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions
Number Eighteen
We'll just keep exploring the world – and remote places in Scotland as well. Let's see what we have today…

High Coast 'Alba' (53%, OB, Sweden, 2021)

High Coast 'Alba' (53%, OB, Sweden, 2021) Four stars
This one's brand new. I suppose 'Alba' refers to Quercus Alba a.k.a. white oak a.k.a. American oak. Colour: dark gold. Nose: shall we call this the Scandinavian style? Just because it's got some smoke and some deep pine oils – or sauna oils? What's sure is that we do really experience 'a sense of the place' here, with all necessary cognitive myopia. We're so far from Scandinavia! With water: typical, custard, polenta, tapioca… Fresh American oak well mastered (I love semolina). And pencil shavings. Mouth (neat): rich, very spicy, pine-y, resinous. Some grapefruit and some pepper sauce, sriracha (how very Scandinavian, S.) plus just wood extracts. It is a different territory, perhaps a little bit between whisky and gin, not that there's anything wrong with that. What's more it's certainly not boring, while it is 'different' when so many distilleries are just churning out the same whiskies (since they believe the wood makes the whisky whilst they all use the same woods – ha). With water: as always with whiskies that have been seriously oaked, careful with water. Otherwise, this works well and brings out salt and liquorice. Finish: long, spicy, smoky, fresh, rather more citrusy. Lapsang souchong and hochicha (roasted tea). Comments: the oak is a tad heavy but actually, the combo works and makes it all wonderfully Scandinavian. I told you, cognitive myopia.
SGP:475 - 86 points.
sw

Off to bonnie Scotland…

Dalmunach 4 yo 2016/2020 (52.5%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, cask # 10828343, 84 bottles)

Dalmunach 4 yo 2016/2020 (52.5%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, cask # 10828343, 84 bottles)
Wouldn't you say it's a little strange that the first Dalmunach to ever reach WF's doorstep would be an indie that was ueber-activated in a tiny cask? As you may know, Dalmunach is Chivas/Pernod's new cat that started burning only in 2014. Indeed this is a first… Colour: amber gold. Nose: butterscotch, beer eau-de-vie (we make that in Alsace) and just Zwetchkewasser, with some notes of rubber from the almonds/stones. Raw, really. With water: no. Distilled beer, rubber, walnut stain, new plywood. Mouth (neat): raw, aggressive, very spirity, rubbery, with some bitter caramel, a lot of coffee, and some caraway. Some would say this is pretty challenging. They would be right if you ask me. With water: a tad better but it's just too rubbery, too young, too immature and aggressive. Finish: long but unpleasant. Comments: unnecessary, in my humble opinion. I wouldn't quite fathom why Pernod would have left these batches leave their stable. Good, I think we'll wait for some further, say ten years before we try our next Dalmunach, okay?
SGP:261 - 55 points.
sc

Off to Israel...

Golan Heights 3 yo (66.2%, Mashing, single grain, Israel, 2021)

Golan Heights 3 yo (66.2%, Mashing, single grain, Israel, 2021) Three stars and a half
An independent bottling of Golan Heights! I so admire these tiny and fearless set-ups and operations that are full of passion and pride. This was distilled from 60% Israeli wheat and 40% Belgian malt and basically, successively matured in two different Israeli wine casks. It all sounds a tiny tad unlikely, but at least I'm sure this will not bore us to death. I'll have to visit Israel one day. Colour: full gold. Nose: it's not grainy, I mean empty and soulless, not at all. But it is full of cakes, shortbread, butterscotch, pudding, gueuze (is that the Belgian malt?) then popcorn and maize bread, barley water, white chocolate… What's sure is that this is curiously 'noseable' at 66% vol. No obvious winey notes, hurray. With water: more of all that while quite funnily, it got hotter! Frankly, I'm finding it rather malty. Mouth (neat): it's a bit hot, mind you. Very hot. Praline and puréed chestnut, plus rocket fuel. I mean, it's really too strong. Quick, with water: really good. Chestnut liqueur and cake, praline, rich beer, a little pear liqueur, fig liqueur… Finish: medium, a tad lighter now, but we're still not experiencing the feeling of 'blankness' that would stem from many a grain whisky. Could we see a photograph of the still? Comments: we should not expect the complexity that would stem from a 40 yo Clynelish, but frankly, I was not expecting this. I mean, this is three-year-old grain whisky!
SGP:451 - 83 points.
is

To Ireland for more grain…

Good Times 8 yo (45.6%, Simply Whisky, grain, Ireland, +/-2020)

Good Times 8 yo (45.6%, Simply Whisky, grain, Ireland, +/-2020) Two stars
Lovely 'chic' concept here (wow, S.!)  Colour: pale white wine. Nose: not something that I should like. White chocolate and popcorn, nougat, sweet maize, butter cream… That's pretty all and frankly, this could be Havana Club as well. Highly purified spirit, but I do not detect any other flaws. Mouth: are we sure this is not light Cuban rum? I mean, dead sure? More crème au beurre, white chocolate, popcorn and nougat… but at least we do not detect any heavy varnish. Finish: short. A drop of pastis in the aftertaste. Comments: it's really very light, but at least it won't ignite any fight. Not quite in the same cluster as that of the same bottlers' stunning 'Let's Dance' malt whisky (WF 87). Ha, grain.
SGP:330 - 75 points.
ei

That one was really light, let's select another (supposedly) light one…

Nikka 'Yoichi' (40%, OB, Japan, blended whisky, +/-2019)

Nikka 'Yoichi' (40%, OB, Japan, blended whisky, +/-2019) Two stars
So a Yoichi blend.  I think we already tried the Miyagikyo in the same funny series. I mean, only one question here, were all the whiskies produced at Yoichi or not?  Colour: straw. Nose: light, easy, cake-y, with wee whiffs of coal smoke and then pear liqueur. Very elementary, but there is something 'zen' to this one. But it's really very light, is it some homeopathic whisky? Mouth: it's light and it is not bad. Let's say it's subtle and even elegant, with some sawdust, tea, apples, nuts… But it is thin, despite these tiny notes of salted smoke that are coming to light. Finish: no, I've tried really hard and even tried to make good use of positive thinking, this remains too humble and just unnecessary. In the style of Johnnie Walker Red Label but I doubt they sell as many cases. Johnnie Red might be a little better, in truth. Comments: there are many Japanese bottlings that remain unknown in the West. Sometimes not for bad reasons, if you ask me, but don't get me wrong, this is good, very honourable blend. It's just not very 'Yoichi'.
SGP:341 - 76 points.
jp

(Merci Chris and Tim)

 

March 23, 2021


Whiskyfun

Five Irish

I agree I should have posted this on St. Pat's. No sense of timing and sensationalisation whatsoever: you should ask for a refund.

Secret Irish 17 yo 2002/2020 (48.7%, DramCatcher, barrel, cask #11464)

Secret Irish 17 yo 2002/2020 (48.7%, DramCatcher, barrel, cask #11464) Four stars
Some copy on the label leads us to believe this is single malt from Cooley. Colour: white wine. Nose: lovely drop, one of the better Cooleys. Mango cake, sweeter sunflower oil, pink bananas, melons, whiffs of menthol, fresh caraway seeds… It's not as bombastically fruity as the indie Bushmills, but I find this extremely well built and irreproachable. One of the better ones indeed, so far. Mouth: same feelings, lovely softer citrus, a wee touch of demerara syrup, melons, mangos, bananas… It's just a tad sweeter (as in 'sugar', ha) than we expected when nosing it. Finish: long and almost liqueury. No ideas where that came from, as it is impossible anyone added any forms of sugar to this lovely make. Comments: I'm reminded of Corsican 'Cédratine' here. Stuff for connoisseurs only.
SGP:741 - 87 points.

An Irish 17 yo 2002/2020 (51.6%, The Whisky Mercenary)

An Irish 17 yo 2002/2020 (51.6%, The Whisky Mercenary) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: to claim that this is similar would be an understatement. This one's just a tad grassier and more on leaves and stems, but that could clearly be because of the higher ABV. A little more kirshwasser too, but other than that, we're on those mangos and melons. And perhaps a drop of pear juice. With water: same herbs, oils and fruits, very lovely. Whiffs of wool, new sweater… Or new Irish cap, Peaky Blinders-style? Mouth (neat): a thick, hotter liqueur. Sugarcane syrup, tangerine liqueur, pear liqueur… All that at cask strength. With water: same as the DreamCatcher when at the same strength, more or less. Perhaps is this one a tad grassier, and a notch less liqueury? A hint of lovage in the back or the back of background. Finish: long and sweet, liqueury indeed. Comments: you could down 5 litres of each and keep wondering about those tiny differences here and there. No good move.
SGP:751 - 87 points.

Waterford 'Single Farm: Grattansbrook 1.1' (50%, OB, Irish, batch #F0312E01-01, 2021)

Waterford 'Single Farm: Grattansbrook 1.1' (50%, OB, Irish, batch #F0312E01-01, 2021) Five stars
I see no vintage on this new bottle and cannot not wonder if that's normal and sound that Waterford would have become Kings of Ireland this fast. Now, some names are really funny, I mean, Grattansbrook, that's singular! Colour: white wine. Nose: the raw materials, and most possibly 'terroir' even amplified. Breads, banana skin, some sweeter porridge, pumpernickel and muesli, Austrian riesling, toasted beech chips, semolina… Frankly, I couldn't tell you why, I'm finding an Austrian side to this one. Hope they won't take umbrage at Waterford. With water: entering a bakery at 5:30am. The smells of dozens of different fresh breads, all still warm. Mouth (neat): I know some good folks believe I'm exaggerating with my assessments of Waterford. I am not. I find this perfect. Citron is perfect, breads are perfect, doughs are perfect, everything's perfect in my opinion. I haven't even checked the 'cask-bill' (yet a new whisky term, ha) but I just don't care as long as you do not feel it. With water: candied bits of grapefruit and salt. Finish: long, spicier. Perhaps a wee tad too spicy/oaky? Was some French oak involved at some point? Comments: let's find something bad to say. Good, I find the blue of the bottle a little too dark, I would have gone for Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue instead. No? Other than that, I'm finding this one a little more citrusy than others, but I'm not actually comparing them, while only comparison is reason. Right.
SGP:461 - 90 points.

We're probably too high already, it's going to become tough… Let's try…

Knappogue Castle 12 yo (43%, OB, Irish, bourbon cask, +/-2020)

Knappogue Castle 12 yo (43%, OB, Irish, bourbon cask, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
A single malt. You'll find this one at 40% vol. too but that's really lousy. Sadly no more vintages either, but a proper age will still do the trick. Knappogue Castle has always been a favourite within proper whisky circles. Colour: straw. Nose: nice, easy freshness, on ripe apples as well as pears and pineapples. Which, in truth, makes it nose younger than 12. Jackfruit, sweet oriental bread, sweetcorn, marshmallows… Mouth: rather light but good, with some citric hops, Seven Up, little sugar eggs, foam bananas, in short stuff that wrecks the teeth of our children. Finish: rather short but not too thin. Very sweet and sugary. Bonbons, liquorice allsorts… Comments: I find this more than acceptable. To be enjoyed on a pile of crushed ice, while remaking the world with good friends, around the pool, with Kid Creole and the Coconuts on the stereo.
SGP:630 - 78 points.

Good, a fifth Irish please… Perhaps one with a higher voltage?

Dingle 'Batch No. 4' (46.5%, OB, Irish, single pot still, 2020)

Dingle 'Batch No. 4' (46.5%, OB, Irish, single pot still, 2020) Two stars
What's a single pot still whisky, exactly? Do they do the first and the second run in the same still? This one was matured in bourbon and oloroso, and I believe no single drop was sourced here, it's proper in-house distillate. Ireland is tricky in that respect. I believe earlier batches of Dingle were too oak-driven, but things may have changed… Colour: gold. Nose: a lot of metal polish, old tin boxes, patchouli, then fresh paint and putty, then pink bananas and guavas. That's a combination that rather works. Fresh marzipan. Mouth: very unusual, very 'secondary', with some mentholated notes, rotting fruits, sweeter vegetables (beets, carrots, tinned peas) and a little touch of sulphur, between truffles and cabbage. Finish: medium, on cabbage soup and gingerbread. I know, a little unlikely. Comments: I would love to try one without any sherry, just to check where this sulphur was coming from, cask or spirit?
SGP:452 - 74 points.

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

 

March 22, 2021


Whiskyfun

Springbank #400
right after the Ides of March

Nothing Caesaresque or Brutusian here, I just wanted to have our 400th Springbank before the month was over, as we had said we'd try Springbank each and every month (since that's not doable with Brora anymore, anyway). But enough excuses, let's have our 400th…

WF S 400

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, +/-1995) Five stars
This one's nicknamed the 'jagged label' version but naturally, that's no official denomination. It could have been bottled a little earlier than 1995, but who knows… This is most probably early 1970s distillate, which wasn't that far from the 1960s, which means that we're instantly reminded of the 'Local Barleys', of the 'West Highland Malts', or simply of the earlier, bulkier bottles of 21 yo. Indeed, best of news.

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, +/-1995)

Colour: deep gold. Nose: so, chestnut and heather honeys, eucalyptus honey and beeswax, glazed chestnuts, something that's often to be found in old Springbanks and that we don't often mention since it's pretty obvious, old Cognac. Also sweet meats, beef jerky, or that dried Turkish meat that the Ottoman horsemen used to keep under their saddles and that's a bit reminiscent of pemican. I tried that once during some kind of historic dinner near Izmir and I'll remember it forever. But let's move on if you please(you, were babbling on, S.)… Mouth: it's this combination of power and elegance that's always been impressive. On the one hand, some rural peat, salt, earth, smoke, hay, mushrooms… And on the other side, some raisins, old cognac indeed, tobacco, old mint cordial, liquorice… It really is a perfect Springbank, and I think it's peatier than most others, as if some early Longrow had been poured into the vatting tank for good measure. So perhaps some single blend, actually? Tends to get tarrier too, even a little brutal. Finish: very long, bone-dry this time, a tad harsh, pleasantly so, more rustic now. Tobacco, tar and leaves, with a little plasticine and petrol in the aftertaste. Springbank indeed. Comments: perhaps more for the battlefield than for the library. Always a joy to try these series.
SGP:463 - 93 points.

So, happy 400th Springbank, Whiskyfun! Next…

Springbank 15 yo 1973/1989 'Ageing Monography' (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, 75cl)

Springbank 15 yo 1973/1989 'Ageing Monography' (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, 75cl) Five stars
Another brainwave by Sig. Samaroli, documenting the evolution of some similar whisky over the years, from the state of British Plain Spirit (18 months, almost newmake) to much older ages – actually to a 23 yo 1965. It's also quite interesting to see that M. Samaroli used to advise the buyers not to open the bottle before a specific time, to warrant 'massimo affinamento'. So, 'best after etc.' Colour: straw. Nose: a totally naked Springbank, without any sherry or apparent oak, which makes sense in this context. So a lot of shoe polish, concrete, lamp oil, huge notes of fern, eucalyptus, Diesel oil, then grapefruits and citrons, chalk, flints, Sancerres… Well, Samaroli's Springbanks were sometimes more or less in the same league as that of Giaccone's Clynelishes, that's all. With water: not too sure, I believe reduction was readymade. Tends to become a little cardboardy. Mouth (neat): rather sublime medicinal, herbal and chalky arrival, very chartreuse-y, petroly, oily, waxy, salty… But it tends not to unfold any further, which is a little unexpected. Perhaps with water? With water: rather similar, just a tad rounder. Touches of eucalyptus and lemon drops, cream eggs (for Easter!)… Finish: long, very lemony and salty. Superb chalkiness. Comments: totally superb indeed, I was just expecting just a little more complexity. In truth, I was expecting Clynelish Giaccone. Completely my fault. Careful with water; well, just don't add any.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

A newer one and we'll be done…

Springbank 25 yo 1994/2020 (45.4%, WhiskySponge, refill sherry hogshead, 209 bottles)

Springbank 25 yo 1994/2020 (45.4%, WhiskySponge, refill sherry hogshead, 209 bottles) Five stars
Have you heard that The Sponge was actually Kim Jong-il's secret cousin - the one that turned out fine? Colour: deep gold. Nose: completely different and that was to be expected. This time we're really on chocolate, black tea, dry tobacco and dried flowers, patchouli, mint tea, palo cortado, old walnuts, old wine cellar… We're really less 'refill' than 'refill'; I know what I'm trying to say. Over time some whiffs of old mentholy embrocations arise, together with these pine-y touches that are often to be found in very old cognacs or armagnacs, aplus very old chardonnay that oxidised rather beautifully. A nose for wine freaks? Was that done on purpose? Mouth: I see. Dry, salty, very bouillony, tarry, on bresaola, tobacco, more walnuts, pecans, then these petroly and chalky notes that do keep screaming 'Springbank!' Some lively -and lovely- touches of melissa water and sage add more life and freshness to this one. Just give it a little time. Finish: medium, perfectly balanced. Walnuts, polish, salty bouillons and tobacco, mostly. Comments: I have been thinking 'whoops!' for exactly 7 seconds (ah, that song) but it was superb Springbank indeed. Again, just give it a little time.
SGP:362 - 91 points.

(Thank you muchas KC and Ryan)

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

 

March 21, 2021


Whiskyfun

Wouldn't we do rums?

Good idea! (Are you expecting any monies for that, S.?)

Mhora 'Pot Stilled' (43%, OB, South Africa, +/-2020)

Mhora 'Pot Stilled' (43%, OB, South Africa, +/-2020) Two stars
White rum distilled from ultra-fresh local sugarcane called 'Nkomazi'. There's a whole story behind it but this is Sunday, is it not? Colour: white. Nose: ah, plasticine and French-army shoe polish, olives, anchovy brine, plaster dust, model glue, new Chinese electronics (well, electronics) and pickled gherkins. Reminds of those French/Thai rums they make in, well, in Thailand. Mouth: pretty good stuff, appropriately dirty, perhaps a tad sweet too (raw sugar) and not immensely deep, but nicely fermentary and fat. Now I liked the nose better. Finish: it's lost its esters and got really sweeter, with strawberry yoghurt, bananas and pineapples. Comments: an entrancing nose, a cool arrival on the palate, but it went a little pear-shaped after that. Worth trying.
SGP:642 - 75 points.

HSE 'Small Cask 2004' (46%, OB, Martinique, +/-2019)

HSE 'Small Cask 2004' (46%, OB, Martinique, +/-2019) Three stars
Habitation Saint-Etienne's own Quarter Cask version, except that there's a vintage statement. No no-age-no-vintage blandola here. Colour: red amber. Nose: all overripe banana and coconut wine, ylang-ylang and jasmine, hibiscus tea, then mangos, probably from the QCs. It's very fragrant, perhaps even a tad too fragrant to a malt enthusiast, with a bourbony side that's even hinting to rye. Perhaps a little heady, to tell you the truth. Mouth: the oak's very apparent, with a lot of liquorice, teak oil, black tea, some cinnamon, rosehip tea, more black tea, even more black tea, then more liquorice and mint… Feels a bit 'lab', but the lab was good. Finish: long, sweet, still extremely aromatic and floral. Comments: a little extreme, a little pushy and engineered. Wood technology in rum, that was bound to happen. But of course it's good…
SGP:741 - 82 points.

St. Lucia 11 yo 2005/2016 (53.8%, Plantation, Extreme N°1, 60th Anniversary LMDW)

St. Lucia 11 yo 2005/2016 (53.8%, Plantation, Extreme N°1, 60th Anniversary LMDW) Three stars
Sadly finished in cognac casks, the equivalent to adding pineapples to pizza, but there… Colour: deep gold. Nose: nice, really, on spicy and aromatic woods, balsa, also hibiscus, wisteria, liquorice, olives, cinnamon cake, cedar wood, hawthorn tea… It's all pretty gentle so far and certainly not extreme. With water: really nice, on more balsa wood, cedar wood, cinnamon, rather a little earth, rosewood, raspberries, incense, rose petals… Mouth (neat): very good heavy style, very liquoricy, rich, herbal, with many rotting fruits and wee bits of salted anchovies. With water: a curious Islay style, some sour fruits, preserved peaches and mangos, some brine… A bit loose perhaps, not truly focused, but good for sure. Finish: rather long, curiously dissonant. Hope that's not the cognac. Mint, raspberry, peaches, olives and salted liquorice, perhaps not the most coherent of all combos. Comments: really good for sure, but a little too multidimensional for me.
SGP:642 - 80 points.

Back to a gentler style…

C.A.D.C. 2005/2019 (49%, Silent Ambassador, Venezuela, 132 bottles)

C.A.D.C. 2005/2019 (49%, Silent Ambassador, Venezuela, 132 bottles) Three stars
Rum from Corporacion Alcoholes Del Caribe. Remember, as they would tell you on the label, 'bibere humanum est'. Poor Venezuela… Colour: deep gold. Nose: white chocolate and custard, sweet pudding, vanilla fudge, wee whiffs of balsa wood, blancmange, iced nougat, cassata… I'd call this 'very gourmand' so far. Mouth: some lighter style of rum, but there is some depth to it, with bamboo shoots, vanilla, touches of salt, cane syrup, demerara sugar, cake, shortbread, matcha tea… Finish: medium, sweet, a little earthy. Comments: not earthshattering, and 99.5% of all rums aren't anyway (to a mat lover), but clearly good and pleasant. A thinner style, but at least no one's tried to disguise the reality here, it is thin, dispensable columny spirit indeed, but a very good one within this style.
SGP:630 - 81 points.

Some power and some depth please…

Lluidas Vale 14 yo 2006/2020 (56.8%, The Duchess, Jamaica, cask #38)

Lluidas Vale 14 yo 2006/2020 (56.8%, The Duchess, Jamaica, cask #38) Four stars and a half
This is Worthy Park. Apparently, they have restricted the use of their brand name, which is a pretty stupid move that a few arrogant Scots – their name escape me - have been trying to do for ages. Alert, dead-end street! Colour: deep gold. Nose: menthol and liquorice, acetone and ammonia, green walnuts, mustard, olives, overripe bananas. With water: same. New plywood at Ikea's, new plastics, new Tesla, leatherette… Mouth (neat): so very good, acetone-y at first, ultra-dry and grassy, then marvellously liquoricy and salty. With water: Worthy Park as usual. Salty, olive-y, tarry, with rotting bananas at the fruit section. A little stewed cabbage, perhaps. Finish: long, focused, salty, tarry. Tiny pickled lemons in the aftertaste. Comments: I don't quite remember which distillery this was stemming from, but it's wonderful high-ester rum for sure. Monymusk, am I wrong? In any case, an Islayfication of Jamaica by the owners would not be such a good idea, if you ask me. Way too soon! Wait, wasn't this Long Pond? High-ester Appleton?
SGP:463 - 88 points.

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

 

March 20, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Highland Park & Assorted Orkney 'Stuff'
I find all this contemporary obsession around anonymity quite funny and more than a little sad as well. It feels like it comes from a place of insecurity rather than pride or commercial sense. You could even argue it's tantamount to an admission by the owners that the independents are doing a better job of bottling their whisky than they are.

 

We all know these anonymous 'Orkney malts' are Highland Park, and what's more most of them are really excellent. So the effect of them being 'hidden', just comes across as a bit silly. Ultimately, unless a bottler has butchered any distillery character with some nonsense wood, then the credit ultimately falls lopsidedly towards those who distilled it in the first place. And rightly so if you ask me. You could say much the same about these anonymous 'highland malt' Clynelish or Williamson / Laphroaig stocks. Anyway, I'm sure there are Zoom rooms full of costly marketing types who know better than I do, who would tell you otherwise, and that there's a 'very good reason' for all this. Brand protection, premiumisation, packaging, heritage, 'quality control' etc, etc.

 

 

Now, returning our focus to Orkney, let us caveat everything I just wrote, by remaining ever vigilant for some stray Scapas. You never know…

 

 

Orkney 13 yo 2007/2020 'Reserve Casks Parcel No 4' (48%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland', 3 ex-sherry butts)

Orkney 13 yo 2007/2020 'Reserve Casks Parcel No 4' (48%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland', 3 ex-sherry butts)
You don't see too many sherry casks of these stocks about, was this a re-rack? Colour: bright amber. Nose: a modern style of sherry that's rather fudgey and showing lots of bright jammy notes. Raspberry and strawberry jams, some slightly balsamic and acetic touches, walnut wine, plum sauce and wee touches of hessian. Very good but these slightly sharper acetic notes are slightly too much for me in places. Mouth: breads, earth, roasted Brazil nuts and marzipan. Spiced almonds, paprika, rose syrup, more simple supermarket red fruit jams, cranberry gravy and a little miso. Finish: medium in length and again this feeling of sharpness. Hot red fruit teas, canvass, chilli oil, burnt toast and bitter chocolate. Comments: It's a solid wee modern sherry bomb. I just think it could have done with a few more years in cask to round off the edges.
SGP: 462 - 84 points.

 

 

Breath of the Isles 13 yo 2007/2020 (58.6%, Adelphi, refill sherry, 656 bottles)

Breath of the Isles 13 yo 2007/2020 (58.6%, Adelphi, refill sherry, 656 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: there is a 'sibling' impression of sharpness that seems to echo from the Elixir bottling. Only here instead of this acetic quality, it's more around citric acidity, salinity, cellar must and damp coal embers. Over time there's a much clearer impression of an 'Orkney accent' emerging. Some sheep wool oils, a lick of peat, sandalwood and dried herbs. With water: lovely! Lots of ozone, mineral salts, bay leaf, lemon peel and some drier aspects like chalk and bit of brittle waxiness. Mouth: peppery and prickly with alcohol. But it's also nicely savoury, salty, heathery, sooty, piney and with this firm impression of coastal freshness and distant, heathery peat smoke. Unmistakeable! With water: rather more oily in texture, all on seawater, cooking oils - sunflower oil and smoked olive oil perhaps - sandalwood, camphor and putty. Finish: medium in length but rather coastal, fresh, invigorating and with further impressions of sheep wool oils and sandalwood. Comments: pretty exemplary and solid Orkney 'stuff'!
SGP: 463 - 87 points.

 

 

Orkney 14 yo (60.4%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland' for USA, cask #45)

Orkney 14 yo (60.4%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland' for USA, cask #45)
Colour: straw. Nose: a rather lovely hay loft style dustiness at first. Canvass, crisp cereals, barley water and wet chalk with an increasing sense of lemon zest, muddled herbs and seawater building over time. The overall impression is of abundant freshness and 'brightness', the sort of profile that inevitably begins to take in freshly laundered linens, starches, chalk and wet pebbles too. Lovely stuff! With water: perfect! Chiselled, taut, sharply coastal, citric, chalky, poised cereals, a few white breads and impressions of toasted mixed seeds. Mouth: unexpectedly sweet upon arrival. Wonderfully syrupy, naturally sugary, cooking oils, malt syrup, new leather, white pepper, canvass, menthol tobacco and pinecones. Feels rich and fatty with this impression of fresh butter and cooking oils. With water: lemon infused olive oil, chopped parsley, heather flower, shilling ales, brown bread and umami paste. Finish: long, peppery, hints of jasmine tea, aniseed, ointments, menthol tobacco again and a light, refreshing salinity. Comments: this is a good example of where these stocks cross the borderline between being just 'very good Orkney malt' to 'classy'.
SGP: 552 - 88 points. 

 

 

Orkney Malt 14 yo 2006/2020 (60.9%, Watt Whisky, ruby port barrique 'rested', 307 bottles)

Orkney Malt 14 yo 2006/2020 (60.9%, Watt Whisky, ruby port barrique 'rested', 307 bottles)
Kate and Mark have called this kind of 'flash finishing' technique 'resting', which in this case was 5 months in a ruby port barrique. I have to say, pink whiskies tend to make me nervous. But then again, so does Mark Watt… ;) Colour: deep pink. Nose: there is still this undeniable, and maybe even immutable freshness going on here. Something which seems a hallmark of these parcels of whisky. However, you cannot help but feel this one also 'smells' pink. Wee notes of redcurrant, fruit preserves and indeed even port. So there probably was some 'dissolving' of residues going on within those final five months. This sits neatly along with glazed pastries, breads, background herbal notes and some lighter notes of dried flowers and sandalwood. With water: fruit loops alongside honey glazed ham and stem ginger. Some Tizer as well perhaps. We're entering new realms. Mouth: clever! Jammy sweetness indeed but it's not at the expense of the more punchy saline and cereal aspects of this whisky. Some fatty frying bacon, coal smoke and things like peppery grilled meats and a wee touch of seawater. The port does become a notch too jammy for me over time but it's surprisingly restrained all things considered. With water: this impression of sharp red fruits becomes more pronounced and yet the more typical qualities such as sandalwood, heather flowers and cereals remain prominent. Finish: medium, good weight, very light peat notes, peppery, more malty and with a little lanolin. Comments: it's not really my style of whisky, but within that overall world of finishing and short term cask tweaking, I think it works pretty well. I'm sure lovers of this kind of whisky will find a lot to enjoy, precisely because - despite the suggestions of the colour - it's been done with a lightness of touch that leaves plenty distillery character in place.
SGP: 653 - 81 points.

 

 

Highland Park 12 1/2 yo 'Viking Soul Cask' (56.5%, OB for HPAS Denmark, cask #500130, firkin, 57 bottles)

Highland Park 12 1/2 yo 'Viking Soul Cask' (56.5%, OB for HPAS Denmark, cask #500130, firkin, 57 bottles)
Colour: deep orangey gold. Nose: the thing about these bottling is that I really should not like them and yet I cannot help but find them excellent! The nose here is full of fir cones, pine wood, herbal liqueurs, throat lozenges, cough medicines, liquorice and verbena. This wonderfully syrupy and mentholated concoction that feels like the result of some deeply integrated, rather syrupy peat smoke somewhere in the depths. There's also this creamy coconut vibe which feels close to these fruity American oak styles of those wartime vintage malts bottled by G&M in the 1980s. With water: takes on a crisp smokiness, bacon crisps, smoked teas, heather flowers, herbs and putty. Mouth: similarly very good, but the wood feels just a little too edgy and spicy here. Straying a bit too close to varnished hardwoods and cupboard spices. But it's overall still very good. Lots of toasted spices, wormwood, resins, dried flowers and some mead (Vikings drank mead didn't they?) With water: cough mixtures, lemon barley water, cured game meats, old cream sherry, miso, eucalyptus balm - really superb with water! Finish: good length, some spiced marmalade, more herbal cough mixtures, marmite, menthol tobacco and more of these piney and wormwood qualities. Comments: The wood is very dominant in these bottlings, but the thing is it has been 'done' in a way which is undeniably clever. It manages to feel both old style and modern at the same time. These creamy, coconutty and medicinal concoctions are distinctive and really interesting. Technically brilliant, and brilliantly technical.
SGP: 563 - 89 points.

 

 

Highland Park 13 yo 2003/2016 (59.1%, OB for 'Highland Park Appreciation Society', cask #2115, refill butt, 576 bottles)

Highland Park 13 yo 2003/2016 (59.1%, OB for 'Highland Park Appreciation Society', cask #2115, refill butt, 576 bottles)
I think it's cool that what is essentially a fan community can go to their favourite distillery and get a single cask done. More distillery companies should do this in my view, so hats off to Edrington on that one. Colour: amber. Nose: sticky dark fruits, plum wine, pomegranate molasses, date loaf and strong fruit teas. Goes on with some Cointreau, chocolate spread, miso paste, herbal bitters and earthen wine cellar must. You could add in a fistful of walnuts while you're at it. With water: easier and very pleasurably muddling together dark chocolate, earth, tobaccos, dried mushrooms and hessian. Mouth: nicely peppery and even more focused on these sticky dark fruits, cloves, spiced blood oranges, mulling spices, natural tar, heather ales, bouillon stock and mint tea. Gingerbread, hessian and more mulchy and camphory notes. With water: more towards chocolate sauce with hints of Bovril, game meats, cranberry gravy, damson preserve, white miso and truffle. Really excellent with water. Finish: long, earthy, slightly nutty, still pretty chocolate-heavy and with further notes of tobacco, leaf mulch, teas and leather. Comments: what emerges over time, with water, is an extremely classical and pleasurable sherry-matured HP profile. But then, what did you expect from the esteemed members of the HPAS? There's a 'stickiness' on the palate and in the finish in particular which is really excellent.
SGP: 562 - 89 points.

 

 

Highland Park 16 yo 2003/2019 (58.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #1885, 1st fill European oak sherry butt, 585 bottles)

Highland Park 16 yo 2003/2019 (58.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #1885, 1st fill European oak sherry butt, 585 bottles)
Colour: deep reddish amber. Nose: quite typical of these European oak casks, this is immediately on simmering, toasty wood spices. Deeply focused around cocoa, espresso, natural tar, sarsaparilla and herbal medicines. Some 1950s Fernet Branca perhaps, alongside a few strong throat sweets. Add to that some cherry-infused dark beers, cured ham and bouillon stock. With water: cola cubes, game meats, paprika, natural tar and spiced fruit loaf. Mouth: Iberico ham with smoked black tea, hot chocolate infused with chilli, walnut wine, black pepper, boiled cinnamon sweets and things like cola syrup and posh root beer. With water: concentrated, spicy and chocolatey with many more of these syrupy, chocolatey and bitterly herbal qualities coming through. Medicinal and with these peppery, nibbling tannins. Finish: good length, strongly herbal and more towards bitter teas, stocks, earth, black olives and various roots, herbs and peppery aspects. Comments: very good, but I think the bitterness and tannin rally a little too assertively on the palate and in the aftertaste to go higher in terms of score.
SGP: 462 - 86 points.

 

 

An Orkney Distillery 1998/2020 (52.6%, Archives 'The Fishes Of Samoa', cask #10, hogshead, 325 bottles)

An Orkney Distillery 1998/2020 (52.6%, Archives 'The Fishes Of Samoa', cask #10, hogshead, 325 bottles)
Is it possible to feel as though you've visited Samoa without ever having been? Colour: white wine. Nose: chalky, chiselled, crispy cereal, brilliantly fresh, bright and breezily coastal. Of an age where these coastal, cereal and gently herbal peat smoke qualities are beginning to morph into a more overt waxiness, which is particularly enchanting. A little touch of creamy smoked vanilla, lemon barley water, gauze and pine wood. With water: doubles down on the lemony notes, almost like a slightly salted limoncello. More bright, sweet cereal notes, very soft waxes and heather flowers. Mouth: brightly citric, coastal, fresh, crisp cereals again, pine needles, crushed aspirin and more lemon barley water. Also some smoked olive oil and mixed dried herbs. There's a kind of crusty saltiness about it as well, which maintains a constant impression of freshness - something so many of these Orkney malts seem to possess in spades. With water: lanolin, white pepper, lemongrass, putty, aniseed and cough medicines. A delicate thread of peat smoke and some dried seaweed in umami broths. Finish: medium, herbal, still nicely coastal, some olive oil and sandalwood. Comments: evocative, playful, superbly fresh and pin sharp mature Orkney malt. Just lacks a little extra complexity that would have propelled it passed the 90 mark.
SGP: 462 - 89 points.

 

 

Highland Park 28 yo 1992/2020 (58.7%, Cadenhead for Cadenhead Whisky Shop Milan, butt, 396 bottles)

Highland Park 28 yo 1992/2020 (58.7%, Cadenhead for Cadenhead Whisky Shop Milan, butt, 396 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: beautifully clean, sharp and elegant, there's also a crisp, green and exotic fruitiness that these later vintages don't possess. Clear notes of guava, kiwi, lime and papaya coming through. Beneath that comes a big waft of malt bin and kiln air: pure, gristy, clean, rich maltiness. Lemon tea, verbena, cough medicines and old school bitter ales. An extremely pure and rather impressively raw style, even at such an age. With water: greener, more assertively herbal, green chartreuse perhaps, but also myrtle, sandalwood, seaweed, mineral salts, sandalwood and citronella wax. Mouth: big arrival, wonderfully textural, oily and waxy. Herbal infused olive oil, miso, parsley butter, cough medicines, Barbour grease, putty, seawater, pink grapefruit and tangerine. Another style really, one which encapsulates older highland styles with this assertive waxiness and no nonsense mineral edge. With water: lemon rind, seawater, cough mixtures, limestone and smoked olive oil. Wonderful! Finish: good length, remains on medicines, herbs, sea air, minerals, waxes and this wonderful oiliness. Comments: It took us a while but we have comfortably reached the 90 mark. Well worth trying if you get the chance, this is a superb and pretty fascinating old HP from a very politely knackered old sherry cask. Solid work by Cadenhead.
SGP: 663 - 90 points.

 

 

Highland Park 28 yo 1980/2008 (43%, Mackillop's Choice, for USA)

Highland Park 28 yo 1980/2008 (43%, Mackillop's Choice, for USA)
I know we probably shouldn't be having a 43% whisky at the end of such a session, but a sufficient break has occurred and it seemed fitting… Colour: gold. Nose: another world. If all you knew was this was Highland Park you'd say a 1960s distillate I'm sure. The peat is just so wonderfully pronounced, distinctive and palpable here. Herbal, rooty, oily, fatty, earthy and thick. Metal polish, soot, vegetable stocks, shoe polish, old mead, coconut and natural tar. Just beautiful and stunningly expressive old Highland Park. A big surprise to be honest. Mouth: the good news is it holds up perfectly. The peat is quite astonishing in this one, was this one fully floor malted? From an old cask that held 50s HP before it? Stunningly herbal, mineral, oily and gelatinous peat. Let's not forget some coastal notes of wet rocks, chalk and dried seaweed too. But really this one is about the organic beauty and complexity of the peat flavours. Finish: long, deeply complex, herbal, full of menthol and fruit teas, waxes, smoked oils, camphor, hessian and peat embers. Comments: a whisky out of time. There are many lovely early 80s distilled Highland Parks, but this noses and tastes like it was distilled in the 1950s. Perhaps due to the bottling strength, it's actually wonderfully reminiscent of the old official green dumpy bottlings from the 1970s. Anyway, I really love it, and a fitting close to this session.
SGP: 5