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Tasting notes:
Whisky 9,969
Others 588

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (32) - Aberlour (79)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (
22)
An Cnoc (
18)
Ardbeg (
320) - Ardmore (57)
Arran (
62) - Auchentoshan (69)
Auchroisk (
26) - Aultmore (29)
Balblair (61) - Balmenach (31)
Balvenie (
72) - Banff (43)
Ben Nevis (
85)
Ben Wyvis (
2)
Benriach (
126) - Benrinnes (38)
Benromach (
37) - Bladnoch (54)
Blair Athol (40) - Bowmore (
346)
Braes of Glenlivet (
28)
Brora (
114)
Bruichladdich (203)
Bunnahabhain (
217)
Caol Ila (389)
Caperdonich (
73)
Cardhu (
31) - Clynelish (264)
Coleburn (
15)
Convalmore (1
8)
Cragganmore (
55)
Craigduff (3) - Craigellachie (
36)
Dailuaine (44) - Dallas Dhu (32)
Dalmore (82) - Dalwhinnie (19)
Deanston (19) - Dufftown (41)

Edradour (37)
Imperial (56) - Inchgower (33)
Inverleven (18)
Isle of Jura (79)

Kilchoman (19) - Kinclaith (7)
Kininvie
(2)
- Knockando (2
4)
Ladyburn (9) - Lagavulin (91)
Laphroaig (300) - Ledaig (65)
Linkwood (98) - Littlemill (77)
Loch Lomond (26)
Lochside (62)
Longmorn (172) - Longrow (52)

Macallan (223) - Macduff (51)
Mannochmore (2
5)
Millburn (1
9)
Miltonduff (
49) - Mortlach (111)
Mosstowie (1
7)
Scapa (34) - Speyburn (22) - Speyside (15)
Springbank (
220)
St-Magdalene (
43)
Strathisla (
80) - Strathmill (22)

Talisker (103) - Tamdhu (45)
Tamnavulin (
14)
Teaninich (
40)
Tobermory (
28) - Tomatin (95)
Tomintoul (
55) - Tormore (33)
Tullibardine (
35)
 
 
Pete and Jack


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Music Awards
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December
1 - 2
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1 - 2
September 1 - 2
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June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
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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
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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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All the linked files (mp3, video, html) are located on free commercial or non-commercial third party websites. Some pictures are taken from these websites, and are believed to be free of rights, as long as no commercial use is intended.

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

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

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

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

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin,
Nick Morgan,
Kate Kavanagh

2002-2014


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September 2, 2014


Whiskyfun

A whole basket of Glenlivet

No pre-WWII distillation this time, we’ll have old young ones, newish old ones and just anything that sits in the middle. Let’s see how far we’ll manage to go…

Glenlivet 12 yo (43%, OB, unblended all malt, 75cl, +/-1980)

Glenlivet 12 yo (43%, OB, unblended all malt, 75cl, +/-1978) Four stars Could as well have been a little earlier, not too sure. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a dry and rather smoky one at first nosing, as older Glenlivets could be. Gravel and soot, then overripe apples, hay, cigars and walnuts, with a metallic touch. Some OBE must have happened, because it’s rather earthier than other old young Glenlivets. Mouth: big stuff, much bigger than contemporary Glenlivet twelves. Sour and tart apples, grapefruit skin, candy sugar, plus these metallic touches again. Apple crumble and strong tea after a few minutes. Not too sure it’s clear that I like it… Finish: long and ample, almost heavy, with some liquorice and more tea. Comments: big spirit of high quality. And it’s still quite easy to find… SGP:462 – 85 points.

Glenlivet 12 yo (40%, OB, pure single malt, 75cl, +/-1985)

Glenlivet 12 yo (40%, OB, pure single malt, 75cl, +/-1985) I believe this version is less old than the previous one, but I’m ready to be proven wrong. Colour: light gold. Nose: yes, it is a much lighter spirit and that’s not just the lower strength. More grains, toasted oak, roasted nuts, straight malt and honey cake. Easy, light and undemanding. Cornflakes. Mouth: a little wishy-washy, grainy, with some overripe apples and a buttery side. Premox in whisky? Some cardboard too, sawdust… Pass! Finish: short and grainy. And dusty. Comments: another, much lower world, but you never know with these old bottles, could have been bottle ageing gone wrong. It’s the dustiness that’s the main problem. SGP:331 - 65 points.

Another go…

Glenlivet 12 yo (43%, OB, pure malt, French import, 75cl, +/-1975)

Glenlivet 12 yo (43%, OB, pure malt, French import, 75cl, +/-1982) Four stars This baby used to be imported by Barton & Guestier. Colour: full gold. Nose: back to the style of the first one, with some soot, gravel, ashes, hay, smoke and overripe fruits. It’s actually even nicer, with notes of beeswax, pollen, old wood polish and then more floral notes, dandelions and such. Great nose. Mouth: fantastic! Bold, firm, smoky and superbly raisiny, with marmalade and honey aplenty, as well as notes of baklavas (orange blossom) and marzipan. Perfect balance and mouth feel, hurray! Finish: astoundingly long, with more marmalade and baklavas. Comments: a great bottle! Sadly, this one’s hard to find but I doubt various European countries/importers were  getting different batches. SGP:552 - 86 points.

Glenlivet 15 yo (43%, OB, pure single malt, 1l, +/-2000)

Glenlivet 15 yo (43%, OB, pure single malt, 1l, +/-2000) Two stars and a half Colour: full gold. Nose: a much lighter spirit again, this session is really a rollercoaster. In fact, it’s pretty complex, but it hasn’t got the oomph and the stamina of the old 12s. Gently floral, I’d say, with a little honey and warm brioche. Plus other pastries, this is almost a breakfast malt. But there’s some elegance in there… Mouth: indeed, it is much lighter than, for example, the 12 for France. It’s also a little cardboardy, with also some toasted bread, cornflakes, a little chocolate, roasted chestnuts, overripe apples, raisins, honey… Everything is very okay, it’s just a little ‘simple’ for a 15yo malt whisky. Finish: rather short, a bit sugary, with some honey and cakes. Comments: I found this one a little too simple on the palate, but it was still honest and loyal malt whisky. SGP:441 - 78 points.

We aren’t quite done with the oldish OBs…

Glenlivet 18 yo (43%, OB, pure single malt, +/-2002)

Glenlivet 18 yo (43%, OB, pure single malt, +/-2002) Three stars Colour: full gold. Nose: we’ve got the drier style again, but there isn’t any smoke, nor soot, ashes and all that. It’s rather hay-like dry, and the whole’s rather more herbal this time. Touches of camphor, cough medicine, rhubarb pie, then the expected honeyed oranges, baklavas, roasted nuts, toasted oak and all that. A very fine nose, let’s only hope it’ll also deliver on the palate. Mouth: it’s certainly good, and certainly very Glenlivet, with this honeyed maltiness and all these overripe apples and pastries. Good body, good nuts (roasted of course) and good marmalade. Ultra classic malt whisky that’s made to please anyone. Who wouldn’t enjoy this? Finish: good length. More honey, pastries, raisins and overripe apples. Ueberclassic. Comments: it’s hard to disagree with this classic. Not very moving, but all very fine. Classic indeed. SGP:541 - 82 points.

Good, let’s have a few youngish indies, and then… Maybe old glories!

Glenlivet 16 yo 1986/2002 (58.2%, Glenscoma, sherry, cask #013469, 300 bottles)

Glenlivet 16 yo 1986/2002 (58.2%, Glenscoma, sherry, cask #013469, 300 bottles) Three stars and a half As you may know, Scoma is one of the pioneering German bottlers. Colour: deep gold. Nose: narrow honeyness, I’d say. But if you like anything honeyed as much as I do, it’s just great. I also find a lot of mead, which isn’t that usual, then cider and even calvados. Fun stuff! With water: woof! It became simple and even narrow. Nosing a Mars bar. Mouth: punchy, very raisiny and very orangey. Cointreau and sultana juice (you may call that Sauternes, or Monbazillac), fifty-fifty. Oops, almost forgot to mention honey. With water: once again, water made it narrower. Sweet white wine and sultanas. Finish: good length, honeyed. That’s all, folks. Comments: it started well and I had high hopes, but beyond the lovely honeyed and raisiny notes, there wasn’t much. And water wouldn’t quite work. But it’s still a very solid malt whisky. SGP:541 - 83 points.

Glenlivet 1993/2006 (53.4%, Whisky-Fässle for Whiskymaniacs Süd-West, sherry)

Glenlivet 1993/2006 (53.4%, Whisky-Fässle for Whiskymaniacs Süd-West, sherry) Four stars Whisky Fässle’s bottlings are usually excellent, so I try to taste them as soon as I come across them, but this time this baby had wriggled out of my clutches. As for these Whiskymaniacs Süd-West, that’s the Southwest of Germany and no, nothing to do with the Malt Maniacs. Colour: pale gold. Nose: we’re now closer to the barley, which is something I always like. It’s almost bready, quite brioche-y (what?) and even croissant (excuse me?) Add some chocolate and you’ve got it. Nice, as they say. With water: same, nice, malty sweetness. Mouth (neat): more bread and pastries, with a firm body and a great maltiness. Also maple syrup, raisins as almost always, cornflakes… Another ultra classic Glenlivet that could have been an OB. With water: an OB indeed! Finish: good length, honeyed, malty, candied… Comments: me like mucho-mucho, even if it’s not quite ‘an alternative to the officials’ as some IBs would say. SGP:541 - 86 points.

Good, while we’re having punchy ones from the indies…

Glenlivet 14 yo 1980/1995 (57.3%, Cadenhead, sherrywood)

Glenlivet 14 yo 1980/1995 (57.3%, Cadenhead, sherrywood) Five stars How many monsters have we seen within this old series? Tremble, mere mortals… Colour: amber/mahogany. Nose: oh this is totally unusual. Imagine a combination of tamarind, roses, muscatel, blood oranges, cassis jelly and iris. I’d swear it’s the first time I come across this association in whisky. Well not only in whisky. And I just love it! With water: that profile remains but there’s also more chocolate and prunes. The whole combination makes it a little armagnacky, all for the (even) better.  Mouth (neat): totally in line with the nose. We’re eating some cassis jelly – or drinking a glass of crème de cassis de Dijon, as you like. How funny! With water: once again, the chocolate strikes back. Another one that swims like Mark Spitz. Finish: long, superb, smooth, cassissy (cut the crap, S.) Comments: a very great bottle. In my experience Glenlivet takes heavy sherry particularly well, maybe because its relatively light style does not contradict the brave Spaniard. SGP:651 - 91 points.

Cadenhead’s had utter beasts, but G&M had some too. Such as this one…

Glenlivet 1974 (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, CASK series, twist cap, +/-1993)

Glenlivet 1974 (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, CASK series, twist cap, +/-1993) Three stars The 57% vol. look like it’s simply ‘100 proof’ but it’s well natural cask strength. Colour: full gold. Nose: it’s funny how this baby reminds of the strongest official 12s that we just had. Styles are similar, with whiffs of wood smoke on top of an honey-glazed apple pie, a bunch of various roasted nuts (rather almonds this time) plus the obligatory marmalade. Simple and straight. With water: a little hay coming out. Mouth (neat): big and all on honeyed raisins, brioche, baklavas and marmalade. Not much else to say, this isn’t really complex but it works pretty well, like a one-cylinder Ducati engine (right, make that Yamaha.) With water: no further changes. Finish: rather long but it remains simple. Honey cake. Comments: very good whisky, but I wouldn’t say there’s much happening in there. Hello? My exact definition of a 80-pointer. So… SGP:551 - 80 points.

So an older 1974 please…

Glenlivet 37 yo 1974/2012 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd for Whisky.com.tw, cask #5247)

Glenlivet 37 yo 1974/2012 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd for Whisky.com.tw, cask #5247) Four stars BBR have already got several great Glenlivets. High hopes here… Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s a very floral one, all for the better. Pollen and nectar, dandelions and buttercups, then sultanas and touches of polished oak. Around an old humidor or ‘grandma’s wardrobe’. Add a few roasted, or rather toasted nuts. A wee earthiness arising over time, all for the better. Mouth: a bit narrow now, not exactly tired but it lacks stamina. Overripe apples, marmalade and glazed chestnuts. Then more and more black tea, that’s the oak speaking out. A touch of menthol too, most probably from the same origins. Finish: medium length. Same flavours, same balance. Comments: extremely good but just like with the G&M, it may lack more… presence? Having said that, it’s a different league and quality is high, as expected. Just not one that you’ll remember forever, perhaps. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Shall we have more luck with a 1973?...

Glenlivet 38 yo 1973/2012 (48.6%, John Milroy, Frisky Whisky, sherry wood, cask #1005)

Glenlivet 38 yo 1973/2012 (48.6%, John Milroy, Frisky Whisky, sherry wood, cask #1005) Four stars and a half I feel I should apologise because of the blitz on the picture. These golden labels are just very hard to photograph (right, to iPhonise.) Colour: gold. Nose: we’re very close to the BBR, although this one also has a welcome tropicalness, around mangos and maybe papayas. Add those notes to the expected honey and ripe apples and you get the kind of very beehive-y profile that we all loved so much in… Caperdonich 1972. So, all great so far, in spite of the very, and I mean very unlikely label. Mouth: just excellent. Oranges, honey, wax, mangos, more oranges, more honey and a touch of warm croissant. Just excellent indeed. Finish: quite long, zestier, without any obvious oakiness, candied… This is almost like orange blossom honey and it’s only in the aftertaste that more oak spices do show up, around cinnamon and white pepper. A touch of earth. Comments: okay, not mindbogglingly great (what?), but I find this baby just excellent. Drinks very very well. SGP:651 - 88 points.

Phew, eleven Glenlivets already, and only one 90+. Let’s push it harder, with an official again, and one of the rarest… (are you still with us?)

Glenlivet 21 yo 1963/1984 'For the Chairman' (43%, OB)

Glenlivet 21 yo 1963/1984 'For the Chairman' (43%, OB)Two stars and a half I won’t explain to you how rare this bottle is, but after all, this is Whisky ‘fun’. I’ll just add that apparently, the Chairman had it good, as this is bottle #837. Eight hundred and thirty seven - or more – bottles, only for the Chairman? Anyway, a superb label, can we have more of those please? Colour: amber. Nose: now I understand why this isn’t a bottle ‘For the Gardener’, or ‘For the Brewer’, or even ‘For the Stillman’. Indeed, this nose is extraordinarily Chairmanly (is that a word?) and extremely complex. You have to ‘deep-nose’ a bit because it’s well a whole, but then you’ll find Corinthian raisins, old cigars, manuka honey (I swear), all kinds of nuts, genuine artisan maple syrup, a touch of leather polish and many tinier elements, including old teas and whiffs of barbecue smoke. Old Glenlivet’s smokiness is back. Mouth: less emphatic, I’d say. Maybe it’s the old bottle, but I find it flattish, tea-ish and tired. It must be the old bottle. Come on, The Chairman! Finish: a little short, cardboardy. The maddening thing about it is that one can feel that it used to be great. Nicer nutty aftertaste, though. Comments: old bottles are always a gamble. This oldie had superb afterglows in the nose, but the palate was tired. Hard to score, let’s remain diplomatic – because you know, he was The Chairman. Disclaimer: other bottles may be fantastic, as always with old bottlings. SGP:351 - 78 points.

So, apparently, we failed again, but as nothing is impossible for a willing heart, let’s go on…

Glenlivet 1961 (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, 75cl, +/-1990)

Glenlivet 1961 (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling, 75cl, +/-1990) Five stars A big phat classic G&M, this should work. Sadly, no year of bottling tag on the neck or anywhere else on the label. Colour: red amber. Nose: isn’t this rather an old Demerara rum? Port Morant? Instant chocolaty pleasure, with exactly the right amount of tiny phenolic things that add so much depth, I’d even say relief. Liquorice, tar, pitch, lovage… But all those remains tiny, while both the chocolate and the prunes keep ruling this nose. Immediate and implacable. With water:  yess! Engine oil and all that… So even more depth. Mouth (neat): s.u.p.e.r.b. Bags of prunes and buckets of liquid chocolate, plus quite a lot of Corinthian raisins (I’m often quoting those because in my experience, they’re very different, deeper and more flavourful than other, smoother ones.) Immediate, obvious, instant sherried pleasure. Well done again, G&M. With water: yess! Someone may have thrown a few litres of old Ardbeg into, the casks. Unless the filters… you know, the filters… Finish: long, on smoked prunes. And an superb touch of salt in the aftertaste. Salt in a Glenlivet? Comments: I know some chocolatiers who are adding a little salt to their blackest productions. We’re in similar territories here. SGP:462 - 91 points.

Good, we’ve found a second winner, time to call it a complete session!

(With many thanks to Benjamin, Konstantin, Lukas, Olivier and Philip)

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

 

 

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September 1, 2014


Whiskyfun

Beckham’s Cameronbridge and others

The whisky industry is pushing hard anything that’s not age-bearing or vintage single malt these days. NAS, blends, grains, flavoured whisk… err, spirits, whatever, these marketing gymnastics are fascinating. So today we’ll have another go at some grains, but I’ll say it again, I’m not a huge fan of grain whisky. To me, and as Pete & Jack once said, they can sometimes be ‘blends to which they haven’t even bothered adding malt whisky.’ Having said that, as it’s the wood that does almost all the job with these ‘almost silent’ distillates, when the oak was great, the whisky can be quite good. Let’s have a few Cameronbridges today, including David Beckham’s Haig Club. The Beckhams have done everything, haven’t they.

Haig 'Club' (40%, OB, single grain, 2014)

Haig 'Club' (40%, OB, single grain, 2014) Two stars A combination of three various cask types of undisclosed ages packaged in a clever Chanel-like blue bottle that should appeal to people (women?) who are not into whisky. For FZ’s Suzy Creamcheese? Colour: pale gold. Nose: very, very mild, reminding me of some aged vodka that I could try a few years ago. A little sawdust, a little vanilla, not much coconut (hurray!) and very little bready/cerealy character. A little green tea, perhaps? It’s all extremely harmless, which, in a sense, means that there aren’t any flaws – because there just cannot be any. Touches of marshmallows arising after two minutes, which makes it a little girly, if I may. Mouth: very sweet, very light, extremely easy, the exact opposite of malt whisky. Thin body, a little vanilla, liquorice allsorts, marshmallows and a little grass that imparts a welcome bitterness (or it would taste like vodka-Red Bull, without the effects.) Finish: almost none. Comments: a very light spirit, I can well imagine that youngsters who are coming from vodka would find this to their liking. And then put the bottle on the telly. SGP:530 - 72 points (just like its brother the well-known, and very under packaged Cameron Brig, that’s what I just noticed.)

Cameronbridge 29 yo 1979/2008 (50.3%, Duncan Taylor, cask #46, 258 bottles)

Cameronbridge 29 yo 1979/2008 (50.3%, Duncan Taylor, cask #46, 258 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: same profile as the Haig, light and innocuous, but of course the higher age and strength do add oomph and even complexity. A typical oak-driven spirit, with vanilla aplenty, then marshmallows and coconut, then a welcome oiliness. Sunflower seeds? A little fudge as well, Werther’s Originals, butterscotch... Uncomplicated but balanced. Needs no water, for sure. Mouth: typical again. Sweet, vanilla-ed and extremely marshmallowy, with first a good mouth feel but then the body gets thinner and thinner, which often happens with grain in my experience. Notes of orange drops. Finish: short, all on bubblegum. Nice notes of tinned pineapples in the aftertaste, and very little spiciness. Comments: very fine, just a little boring. Not that I was expecting more, really… SGP:540 - 79 points.

Cameronbridge 30 yo 1978/2008 (56.6%, Adelphi, cask #5, 238 bottles)

Cameronbridge 30 yo 1978/2008 (56.6%, Adelphi, cask #5, 238 bottles) Three stars Colour: light gold. Nose: styles are obviously similar, this one’s just bigger and, I have to say, perhaps a little solventy, but that may be the strength. Marshmallows and vanilla, orange drops, new oak. With water: ah, some pleasant oak. Visiting a carpenter’s workshop, while wolfing a large pack of marshmallows and drinking coconut milk. Or a piña colada. Mouth (neat): good, powerful, rather fruitier, but we’re always on sweets and drops rather than on fresh or dried fruits. Always this feeling of chewing bubblegum. With water: more of all that, but we’re more on the citrusy side. Orange drops. Finish: rather short, but with even more orange drops. Comments: very fine, but three are enough for one man. One of the better bottlings for sure. SGP:530 - 82 points.

 

Whiskyfun fav of the month

August 2014

Favourite recent bottling:
Port Charlotte 2001/2013 (59.2%, Malts of Scotland, Warehouse Dram No.1, cask #MoS 13042, 145 bottles) - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Springbank 1958/1983 (92 US proof, Duthie for Narsai's Restaurant & Corti Brothers, USA) - WF 95

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Ledaig 2005/2013 (62.8%, Archives, hogshead, cask #900092, 227 bottles)  - WF 88

Favourite malternative:
Jamaica 30 yo 1982/2013 ‘Freya’ (50.8%, Lord of the Drams, 35 bottles) - WF 88

 

 

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August 29, 2014


Whiskyfun

Not losing an inch to Inchgower

Serge, what a crappy headline again! We’ll have an old official first, then the F&F that we’ve never tried before, then maybe a few indies for good measure. Let’s hope that they’ll be more to my liking than ‘their’ blend, which is Bell’s.

Inchgower 12 yo (40%, OB, 75cl, +/-1985)

Inchgower 12 yo (40%, OB, 75cl, +/-1985) Four stars and a half You find these for cheap at auctions, they used to be massively distributed in the 1970s and 1980s. An older version at 70proof had been rather so-so in my book (WF 74.) Colour: straw. Nose: light yet fragrant, with some hay and whiffs of vetiver, perhaps, a touch of citrus, then notes of tea and cardboard. Some kind of green earl grey tea, dried cornflower… I have to say I quite enjoy this meadowness (!). Mouth: oh, but this is excellent! We’re far from other lightish ones, this has body, zing and oomph, with a lovely combination of mint syrup, cough medicine, pastis and honeydew. A huge surprise, despite the fact that it tends to lose steam after a one minute or two. Superb herbal profile. Finish: not long, but superbly herbal, mentholated, very lively. Comments: no signs of dust or old books or cardboard in this one, it’s all very, very good. Loved the mint in it. SGP:462 - 89 points.

Good, I had thought we’d have started this with a light and even weak one. Nothing doing! It’s going to be harder for the next ones…

Inchgower 14 yo (43%, Flora and Fauna, +/-2012?)

Inchgower 14 yo (43%, Flora and Fauna, +/-2012?) Four stars Wasn’t this the last of the official Inchgowers? I don’t think the owners keep bottling this baby… Colour: straw. Nose: nothing like the old one. This is a lightish, rather hayish and barleyish malt, although it tends to develop nicely, with notes of overripe apples plus, indeed, a few herbal notes that do hint at the old one. Chamomile tea? It’s all light and even a little ‘diaphanous’. Mouth: excellent! Seriously, this is another surprise, we have a rather zesty and even slightly salty/coastal start, the whole unfolding on oranges, rhubarb, even kiwis and other very ‘nervous’ fruits. Yep, tart ones. All that plus the obligatory overripe apples. It’s only after one minute that it becomes just a wee tad cardboardy and drying. Finish: long, with unexpected notes of pineapples and even Viognier (not into wine? Google is your friend ;-)). Comments: goody good, how could I live without knowing anything about this baby, except that it existed! Lovely light style! SGP:551 - 86 points.

I had thought the indies would have killed those officials, but I’m not so sure anymore…

Inchgower 28 yo 1982/2010 (50.4%, Bladnoch Forum, hogshead, cask #6965, 242 bottles)

Inchgower 28 yo 1982/2010 (50.4%, Bladnoch Forum, hogshead, cask #6965, 242 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: light gold. Nose: we’re well in the same family, but this nose is a notch more unlikely, I’d say, with wee whiffs of soap or washing-up liquid at very first sniffs. The good news is that almonds and fruit peelings are soon to take over, together with walnuts and lemongrass. With water: much less soap – could have been the opposite indeed – but more mashed potatoes. Sweet potatoes. Mouth (neat): same impressions, a lively, citrusy start but the lemon is coated with… plastic? I also find slivovitz and quite some grapefruit skin. Fun stuff but I find it a little… too far off the beaten track, maybe. With water: greengages, ink, linseed oil. Finish: of medium length, rather cleaner and zestier. Lime and bitter herbs. Comments: a different take. Isn’t that what we’re expecting from the indies? SGP:351 - 78 points.

And while we’re in 1982…

Inchgower 1982/2011 (52.9%, Berry Bros & Rudd for La Maison du Whisky, cask #6984)

Inchgower 1982/2011 (52.9%, Berry Bros & Rudd for La Maison du Whisky, cask #6984) Five stars With the lovely ‘retro’ label. Colour: light gold. Nose: listen, this is going to be easy. Just read my notes for the previous one again and replace soap with wax and washing-up liquid with almond oil. You may add a fistful of the blackest earth from a great garden. Mouth: same. It’s one of the most citrusy and zesty drams I’ve tried. Citron liqueur? Lemon curd? And there’s plenty of beeswax as well. Long story short: it’s great. Very oily mouth feel, you almost need a spoon to get it out of your glass.  Finish: same. Like the waxy feeling a lot. Comments: pretty impressive. Why haven’t I tried it right when it came out, three years ago?  SGP:561 - 90 points.

Hmm, how about a sister cask?...

Inchgower 29 yo 1982/2011 (54.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #6967)

Inchgower 29 yo 1982/2011 (54.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #6967) Five stars Colour: nose. Nose: we’re obviously in similar, if not identical territories, but this one’s both a little less fruity and a little more medicinal and even coastal, with obvious whiffs of iodine (and tincture of iodine.) Ex-old Laphroaig cask? I’m joking, it’s well known that Inchgower can be a little coastal. After all, the distillery’s a few blocks from the sea. With water: some neat and sweet vanilla coming out, drops of triple-sec… Mouth (neat): outstanding – and very similar to cask #6984, except that once again, this one has more menthol, cough medicine and ‘a saltiness’. Brilliant. With water: all great. Earthy tarty fruits and eucalyptus lozenges. This one will keep the doctor away around Christmas! Finish: long, medicinal and zesty, with an utterly perfect balance. Comments: as they say, great stuff. Just the right amount of oak influence – that is to say rather little. SGP:651 - 91 points.

Inchgower 33 yo 1980/2013 (52.6%, Malts of Scotland for W-D info, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 13069, 189 bottles)

Inchgower 33 yo 1980/2013 (52.6%, Malts of Scotland for W-D info, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 13069, 189 bottles) Four stars This one was bottled exclusively for my friends at the ‘French forum’, that is to say whisky-distilleries.info and its webmaster the very excellent Jean-Marie Putz. Colour: dark amber. Nose: it’s true that the sherry and the gunpowder that comes with this type of cask are filtering out a part of the fruitiness that was to be found in the 1982s, but on the other hand, they dance well together. All that means more cigars, leaves, cured ham, damp earth and just hints of truffle oil. With water: it became very tertiary, between a very old balsamic vinegar and a high-end sangria (perhaps.) Mouth (neat): the zesty fruits are having the upper hand this time, and that fruitiness is rather unusual, that is to say more tropical, so to speak. Tamarind, cranberries, overripe papayas… Fun palate, very faintly sour, not unlike some eaux-de-vie. Also the obligatory raisins. With water: works a treat. It became smoother, with more fresh fruits, raisins, dates… and a drop of sangria. Olé! (oh come on, S.!) Finish: of medium length, very fruity, fresher than expected. A lovely aftertaste on ripe peaches. Comments: loved the ripe peaches. This baby loves water, which isn’t always the case with heavily sherried whiskies. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Very good, let’s try to find an even older one to call it a proper tasting session. Oh, I might have found something… A total and insane beast!

Inchgower 35 yo 1966/2001 (67.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #18.15, 'curry powder and dark rum')

Inchgower 35 yo 1966/2001 (67.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #18.15, 'curry powder and dark rum') Four stars and a half That’s right my friend, thirty-five years of age and a whopping 67.5% vol. A kind of record, I guess. Was the cask stored right under the roof? Filled at 70% vol.? Was it totally watertight? All of that? In any case, wish me luck… Colour: dark red amber. Nose: good one, this is rum. I’m serious, this baby noses just like an old Port Mourant or something. Now I get it, this cask was matured in Guyana! But it’s so strong that I don’t think it’s quite safe to ‘deep nose’ it, so… With water: the beast became as meek as a lamb. Cigarette tobacco, earl grey tea, a touch of plasticine, raisins, fresh mint, celery, lemongrass… It’s almost gentle! Mouth (neat): sweet Vishnu, what a powerhouse! English-style rum, check, curry powder, check, polished wood, check, tar, check, liquorice, check, punch in your face, check… With (a lot of) water: almost perfect. Same aromas as in the nose when reduced, tobacco, teas, herbs, dried fruits, a little aniseed… Granted, the sherry was big, and I doubt the distillate has much to tell us, but it all works perfectly. Finish: I like finishes where fresh fruits take over, which is the case here. Oranges, lemons, maybe one or two green grapes… More cocoa powder and bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: no it isn’t absolutely perfect, but that was close. Great uebermonster - and what a ride! SGP:661 - 89 points.

Session over.

(With heartfelt thanks to Angus, Denis, Olivier, and Tobias)

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August 28, 2014


Whiskyfun

You say Tomatoe, I say Tomatin…

We’re all well aware of the brilliance of many an old Tomatin, but younger ones have always been a little more, say unnoticed. Let’s try the newish official 12 years old, and then maybe two or three independents.

Tomatin 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2014)

Tomatin 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2014) Three stars Last time I tried the 12 years old that was the former black label, in 2008. I had found it rather okay (ish) and gave it 77 points (not that scores are important, I agree.) Colour: light gold. Nose: no fruity burst at first nosing, I rather find mashed potatoes and a little sour wood, then porridge and overripe fruits (apple for sure.) Maybe a tiny spoonful of cooked cabbage? The good news is that after just four or five minutes, things do improve, with more fresh fruits (oranges) and a pleasant maltiness. The cabbage is gone. Mouth: light, mellow and candied, I cannot not think of some good blend. Orange liqueur, pastries, a touch of maple syrup and a few raisins, plus a little chocolate. Touches of sweet sherry. Finish: short but clean and raisiny. A little strawberry jam. Comments: I think it really improved. It’s easy, it’s flawless, it’s well composed, and one could quaff litres… forget, glasses of it. My exact definition of a 80-pointer. SGP:531 - 80 points.

Tomatin 17 yo 1997/2014 (48.3%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead)

Tomatin 17 yo 1997/2014 (48.3%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead) Four stars Very nice colour, this one should be totally au naturel. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: I really like to be so close to the distillate, provided it’s not immature. That’s not the case at all here, as it comes with lovely notes of cut apples, a touch of smoke (garden fire), mashed sweet potatoes and even pumpkins, then more green apples, rhubarb and lemons. A touch of engine oil as well, all for the better. Oh and mangos. Great nose, really complex and totally spirit-driven. Mouth: perfect! Ultra-clean, with a perfect tempo, blending fresh fruits, cereals and a few tiny phenolic/tertiary notes. Fresh malted barley, oranges, a little marzipan, cut apples, some candy sugar, papayas… Finish: medium length. Loses steam a bit, becoming slightly spirity. Funny notes of Turkish delights in the aftertaste. Or Gewurztraminer. Comments: all very good, it just lost one or two points because of the finish that was a tad ‘hot’. SGP:641 - 85 points.

Oh well, we could as well also have an older one, don’t you agree?

Tomatin 1966/2002 (48%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #14364)

Tomatin 1966/2002 (48%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #14364) Four stars and a half A sherried version according to the colour. Colour: red amber. Nose: sangria! I mean, the spirit’s trademark fruitiness blended with the sherry and the wood’s spices and herbs make it rather Spanish indeed, and that works pretty well because it’s a clean and even fresh combo. Blood oranges are in the front, then we have a touch of parsley and mint, then raisins and dried figs. And then the sweet wine, old barrels, mushrooms and cured ham. Iberico, of course. In a way, I even feel it’s akin to some rather pruny red Rioja. Mouth: much in line, but the oak’s a notch too loud now, while the sherry became extreme, around concentrated Seville (serious) orange juice. Love the chocolate, though, the menthol, the liquorice and all this cinnamon. Prune and cinnamon cake, marinated in cream sherry. No that’s not heavy, not at all. Finish: long, spicy, mentholated. Drying aftertaste, the wood speaks out. Not unlike eating raw cocoa powder. Comments: it’s quite extreme, but it’s also rather spectacular. I like it, and cannot not notice that quite a few Glenfarclas used to taste almost the same. SGP:561 - 88 points.

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August 27, 2014


Whiskyfun

Macallan 18 years old,
four steps to sherriness

We could have named this session ‘sherry si or sherry no.’ Oh forget about that…

Macallan 18 yo 1991/2010 (55.3%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #9714, 288 bottles)

Macallan 18 yo 1991/2010 (55.3%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #9714, 288 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: starts very grassy and acrid, without any roundness. Plenty of soaked grains, porridge, cut grass and leaves, with some new sawdust as well. Very little fruits that I can detect at this point, it seems to be a very austere Macallan. With water: a few fruits now, such as small morello cherries, perhaps. Also tons of barley – well, rather one kilo of course. Mouth (neat): it’s almost newmake, with these notes of apple juice, grapefruits, pears and bubblebum. An obvious feeling of kirsch or other plum spirits, and even touches of soap and paraffin. A little hard, I have to say. With water: same, and the grassy side grew even bigger. Finish: rather short, grassy, narrow. Comments: one of these rather disappointing independent Macallans that used to abound a few years back, in my opinion. SGP:361 - 77 points.

Another chance…

Macallan 18 yo 1990/2010 (54.1%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #18222, 240 bottles) Four stars This one used to be issued at the same time as the 1991, in January of 2010. Colour: full gold. Nose: another paradigm. Granted, the austere leafiness remains, but everything’s ampler, with some polished oak, orange blossom, marzipan, cedar wood, wax polish and just touches of calvados. It’s powerful, but one can feel that there’s some depth below the surface. With water:  lovely notes of fino, vin jaune, walnuts and almonds come out. Also orgeat and whiffs of ‘old musty wine cellar.’ Mouth (neat): exactly the same feeling, it’s a deeper, more complex version  of the 1991. There’s more oak, obviously, but also more fruits and spices. Pepper and marzipan plus orange liqueurs and nutmeg. The pepper (white) is very noticeable. With water: more marmalade and more white pepper. Finish: of medium length. Spice mix (aniseed, cinnamon, nutmeg, white pepper.) Comments: maybe not as grand as the grandest Macallans, but excellent – if you enjoy oak spices in your whisky. SGP:461 - 85 points.

Yet another chance with another 18 yo by DT? Here you go…

Macallan 18 yo 1987/2006 (58.4%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, sherry, cask #9794, 271 bottles) Four stars and a half Full sherry this time! Not too sure the others weren’t ex-sherry as well, but in that case that was refill. Colour: amber (indeed.) Nose: ah yes, this is more like it and we’re not far from the older official ‘CS’. I remember the ‘added red stripe’. Beautiful combination of fruitcake, fudge, raisins, marmalade and cigars. Also a little coffee and chocolate. With water: we’re all on raisins and honey now. Three tons of sultanas. Mouth (neat): excellent arrival, powerful, citrusy, very fruity, with a fat mouth feel. Many jams (quince, orange, mirabelles), honey, raisins (huge notes of raisins again!) and then our spices, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. Classic. With water: water may work a little les on the palate, it brings a very minor soapiness out, even after having waited for a good ten minutes. Finish: rather long, extremely raisiny, with a perfect spiciness in the aftertaste. Comments: not exactly a sherry monster but it’s classic Macallan. I mean, Macallan from those days… SGP:551 - 88 points.

Speaking of which…

Macallan 18 yo 1996/2004 ‘Sherry Oak’ (43%, OB)

Macallan 18 yo 1996/2014 ‘Sherry Oak’ (43%, OB) Four stars It’s the latest batch of the well-known and now very expensive 18yo ‘sherry’. It’s actually not pure 1996, as it says ‘1996 and earlier years.’ I had found last year’s 1995 very excellent (WF 89.) Colour: amber. Nose: feels like home. It’s probably not as deep and complex as the pre-1980 vintages, and certainly more focused on fruitcake and toffee, but indeed it’s a lovely nose. Glazed chestnuts, honey sauce, touches of fennel or dill, dried porcinis, cigars, toasted brioche and, yeah, sultanas. Really a perfect nose, and the 43% vol. make it pleasantly approachable, in both senses of the word. Mouth: it’s a little narrow, perhaps, less majestic and ample than the old ones for sure, and maybe a little too toffee-ed and malty (Ovaltine-malty.) Raisin-filled chocolate, praline, butterscotch. The mouth feel is perfect, though. Finish: good length, spicy and toffee-ish. Peppered fudge. Comments: very, very good, of course, I’m just missing a little more complexity on the palate. But as they say, ‘it does what it says on the tin.’ SGP:551 - 87 points.

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August 26, 2014


Whiskyfun

Ledaig, the sequel

We’re back with Ledaig, but we’ll be careful and just have a handful this time. Those 2005s were all great, but my god it was tiring…

Ledaig 1997/2013 (56.8%, Gordon & MacPhail for The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry, cask #465)

Ledaig 1997/2013 (56.8%, Gordon & MacPhail for The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry, cask #465) Four stars and a half Bwah, what an awful pedigree! Colour: bronze gold. Nose: what is this? Balsamico and exhaust fumes? Together? Horse sweat and tangerine liqueur? A box of old Cubans and kippers? Seville oranges and 36-month-old Comté cheese? A lot of unlikely pairings, but quite magically, the whole works well, apparently. Serendipity, again? Water will tell us more… With water: more of all that. I’d call it greatly flawed. Mouth (neat): I’ve never tried something like this. It’s huge, and it’s ridden with heavy oak, heavy brine, heavy tobacco, heavy smoke, heavy medicinal herbs and heavy spices. Could be oak-aged absinth. The jury’s still out, I’d say... With water: I don’t know. Smoked, salted and honey-glazed cuttlefish, perhaps? Bwah indeed. Finish: very long and kind of gentler. Kind of. Comments: I can imagine the good people at The Whisky Exchange have selected this baby on a Friday night, after work, while laughing their heads off. The problem is that we desperately need funny – or at least interesting - whiskies these days, as many new ones are good, but simply boring. So, that’ll be… SGP:477 - 88 points (did I mention that I liked it a lot?)

Man, we won’t go very far today, that panzer of a malt was worth ten other whiskies. All right, let’s select two Ledaigs by two brothers, and we’re done.

Ledaig 20 yo 1993/2013 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, 162 bottles)

Ledaig 20 yo 1993/2013 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, 162 bottles) Two stars and a half Yep, Hunter is Stewart while Douglas is Fred. Colour: white wine. Nose: very phenolic, sooty and tarry, with even notes of diesel oil, but there’s also a flabbier fruitiness in the background. Overripe apples and pears aplenty, not always a good thing. I also think it’s a little feinty, and I have to say most Ledaigs from the early 1990s had that in my book. Notes of beer and notes of tequila. Belgian Gueuze, malt extract. Not quite my kind of nose. With water: all gone, it’s become as clean as a vanilla cake from Vanilla Cakes’. Very little peat. What’s the trick? Mouth (neat): it seems that the oak did its job better on the palate, as we’re finding a welcome vanilla (I had never thought I’d ever write that), some caramel (Werther’s stuff) and nice notes of cappuccino. The yeasty smokiness is tamed. With water: sweet and rounded, it could almost be a Speysider. Notes of newish oak. Finish: medium length, sweet, barleyish and caramely. A touch of mint-flavoured liquorice. Comments: not quite my kind, but it’s got interesting sides. Water is needed. Little peat, rather more Tobermory than Ledaig. SGP:342 - 78 points.

Ledaig 21 yo 1993/2014 (50.9%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask ref #DL10263, 288 bottles)

Ledaig 21 yo 1993/2014 (50.9%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask ref #DL10263, 288 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: very different, while it’s obviously a sister cask. This one’s much sharper, bigger and weirdly medicinal, with a lot of antiseptic and then more paint thinner. Less feinty than the OMC, but kind of chemical instead, I wouldn’t say that’s any nicer. Same kind of beerish notes after a few minutes, yeast… Where are our good young 2005s? With water: this time it’s some caramely oak that’s coming out. And coconut balls. Another miracle. Mouth (neat): oh that’s funny, both whiskies have become almost identical on the palate. Werther’s Originals and Starbuck’s hazelnut-flavoured coffee. Oh and vanilla. With water: more lemon coming out this time, for the better. Same with earth. Finish: same as the Hunter Laing. Undistinguishable. Comments: I think I liked this one a notch better, it’s a little firmer. SGP:243 - 79 points.

A good example of a whisky that’s much better when younger, but that, I think has got nothing to do with age, it’s all a matter of quality of distillate. Ledaig massively improved.

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August 25, 2014


Whiskyfun

Ledaig

Could someone please tell me why Ledaig, aka peated Tobermony, can be very good and mature when pretty young, while most peaty Islayers, especially the Kildalton malts, need more years? Today let’s have a few 2005, and then we may go back in time…

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2013 (46%, Hunter Laing, Hepburn's Choice, 382 bottles)

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2013 (46%, Hunter Laing, Hepburn's Choice, 382 bottles) Four stars Colour: as white as the whitest white wine. Nose: now I know, it’s the mezcaly side that I enjoy so much. This feeling of smoked brine or seawater, the thick layer of soot and ashes, the impression that you’re wandering on an old pile of coal in an abandoned basement… So, I like despite the rather minimalist profile. Mouth: it’s a little dirtier and ‘organic’, much less precise and even kind of burnt. Burnt fruits and wood. Also some weird notes of overcooked smoked ham – or sausages? A pity because what’s behind all that seems to be great. Brine, lemon, sardines… Wait, the nasty notes went away after ten minutes, hurray! Finish: quite long, rather on burnt herbs this time. Good burnt herbs. The aftertaste is nicer, though, cleaner. Comments: a bit nasty at first, but fun and it got cleaner. And mezcaly indeed. Mezcal on Mull! SGP:365 - 85 points.

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2014 (53.3%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon hogshead)

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2014 (53.3%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon hogshead) Four stars Colour: very white wine. Nose: very similar, of course, but this one’s rather rounder, and has fewer notes of smoky mezcal. Big soot, ashes, coal, tar, crushed sardines (paste), tarama… And a little vanilla. With water: stays a bit soapy for a long time, and then everything gets better again. Smoked vegetables, gherkins, olives and a massive sootiness. Mouth (neat): everything’s perfect in this one. Perfect brine, lemon juice, smoked fish, olives, smoked tea, more lemon juice… With water: balanced lemon, salt and kippers. What’s not to like? Finish: same for a long time. Comments: it’s infuriating that these Ledaigs could be so good when so young. That’s both unjust and unfair. Oh well… But watch out, I’ve found some flawed ones as well in the past. SGP:456 - 87 points.

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2013 (54.2%, Maltbarn, bourbon barrel)

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2013 (54.2%, Maltbarn, bourbon barrel) Four stars Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: and sweeter yet, even if styles are similar. This time there are fruits coming through, around pineapples and pears. That’s youth. The problem, if I may, is that they are blending extremely well with the briny and ashy and smoky style of this baby. With water: not anymore, this one’s now greasier, sootier, with notes of damp earth and our dear friends the wet dogs (I’m sorry, dogs.) Mouth (neat): check the Whisky-Fässle, we’re in the same ballpark. With water: great, very clean, perhaps narrow, but yeah, that adds to the cleanliness. Finish: long and good (bravo, S.!) Comments: that’s the problem with this kind session, it can be tiring. SGP:446 - 87 points.

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2013 (54.5%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead, cask #800015, 149 bottles)

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2013 (54.5%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead, cask #800015, 149 bottles) Four stars Colour: very white wine. Nose: very similar, of course, but this one’s rather rounder, and has fewer notes of smoky mezcal. Big soot, ashes, coal, tar, crushed sardines (paste), tarama… And a little vanilla. With water: stays a bit soapy for a long time, and then everything gets better again. Smoked vegetables, gherkins, olives and a massive sootiness. Mouth (neat): everything’s perfect in this one. Perfect brine, lemon juice, smoked fish, olives, smoked tea, more lemon juice… With water: balanced lemon, salt and kippers. What’s not to like? Finish: same for a long time. Comments: that’s right, I’ve shamelessly copied-and-pasted my notes for the Whisky-Fässle, both whiskies being almost identical. Not saying it’s the same cask of course. SGP:456 – 87 points.

Ledaig 2005/2013 (62.8%, Archives, hogshead, cask #900092, 227 bottles)

Ledaig 2005/2013 (62.8%, Archives, hogshead, cask #900092, 227 bottles) Four stars and a half Probably rocket fuel, what do you think? Colour: white wine (so darker than the others.) Nose: smoky mercurochrome and that’s almost all. That’s the high strength. Quick… With water: diesel oil and wet dogs (we’ll have to talk, dogs.) And plenty of tar, some sides remind me of very young Port Ellens (Scottish Wildlife, Corsini et al.) New leatherette. Mouth (neat): ultra-strong and mega-simple, but absolutely brilliant. A feeling of salted and smoked lemon-flavoured marshmallows, perhaps. Covered with minced almonds, perhaps. And then barbecued. But it’s very strong… With water: water brings out oils, which comes unexpected. Basil infused in olive oil. Finish: very long, very salty, and as oily as if you had just eaten a spoonful of oil. Comments: I guess we could call this baby ‘a fat whisky’. Spectacular mouth feel. SGP:357 - 88 points.

I am sorry, I had planned to go down to the 1990s and even the 1970s, but this is too tiring, so I think I’ll give up for now. These Ledaigs are all great (no duds this time) but they’re too similar in this context. Bad line-up, bad idea. My bad.

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August 24, 2014


Whiskyfun

The Quest for Malternatives on Sunday, a bunch of older rums

Well, at least there are suggestions that these rums are old, but thanks to the ‘solera’ trick (remember, what looks like the age may just be when a solera was started), the use of sugar and possibly heavy colouring and flavouring, some of them may well be much younger than they look…

Bally 1998 (43%, OB, rhum agricole, Martinique, +/-2013)

Bally 1998 (43%, OB, rhum agricole, Martinique, +/-2013) Four stars I liked the 2000, but I did not find it stellar (WF 78). Maybe two more years?... Colour: gold/orange. Nose: it’s a rather smooth and rounded agricole, but the style remains obvious, with many stewed sour fruits, apples, apricots, plums… Quite a lot of dry caramel too, some kind of light peat smoke, certainly a few cigars and then more incense. It’s fragrant and firm at the same time, with an ‘artisan’ feeling. Kind of anti-smooth, which is greatly welcome. After five minutes, you’d think you’re nosing a new pack of liquorice rolls. Mouth: very, very agricole. Heavy herbs, heavy liquorice, salmiak, roots, ginger and a little tar. No sugariness, hurray! This starts well, for once… Perfect body, tastes more like 46 or even 50% vol. Finish: very long, very liquoricy and pretty salty. A slight feeling of tequila. Comments: truly a big, full-bodied agricole. Liquorice abounds. I like it much, much better than the 2000. SGP:542 - around 85 points.

Centenario 25 yo 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, rum, Costa Rica, +/-2013)

Centenario 25 yo 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, rum, Costa Rica, +/-2013) Two stars Not much luck with the famous Centenarios so far, so let’s try this older one. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: it’s rather dusty at first nosing, then we have some cocoa powder, banana skin and… not much else. The Bally might have killed it, but I find it flat and un-aromatic, so to speak. Mouth: it’s one of these very sweet, liqueury and honeyed ones. Orange liqueurs and ripe mangos, plum jam, tinned fruits and more honey. Not much oomph either. Finish: rather short, with a little more coffee beyond the liqueurs. The sugar feels. Comments: it’s probably good stuff, but I’m sure it’s not my style. Too flat and sugary for me. SGP:820 - around 71 points.

All right, another go, with an even older Centenario. But remember these are ‘solera years’, so probably – not too sure – rather the age of the older constituent than that of the youngest.

Centenario 30 yo 'Edicion Limitada' (40%, OB, rum, Costa Rica, decanter, +/-2013)

Centenario 30 yo 'Edicion Limitada' (40%, OB, rum, Costa Rica, decanter, +/-2013) Two stars Colour: orange amber. Nose: a dustiness coming out again, then more fragrant notes than in the 25. Roses, litchis (gewürztraminer style), orange blossom water… Quite some praline too, roasted hazelnuts, toasted brioche… It’s rather delicate and subtle, but the dustiness is a handicap. Mouth: another Centenario, another liqueur. We’re close to the 25 now, but it seems that there’s even more sugar, honey, maple syrup, caramel and various liqueurs. Maybe a few drops of pomegranate liqueur? What’s rather nice is this citrusy side that keeps it kind of alive. Blood oranges? Finish: rather short, very sweet. More liqueur. Comments: I liked this sweet bomb a little better than the 25, but again and again, this is absolutely not my style of spirit. Too much sugar. SGP:820 - around 72 points.

While we’re having some supposedly old ones…

Cubaney 25 yo 'Tesoro' (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2013)

Cubaney 25 yo 'Tesoro' (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2013) Two stars More ‘solera age’. This is probably not ’25 anos’, as it says ’25 anos solera’ in small letters. Tiring. Luckily that wouldn’t be allowed in Scotchland! (or they would do it too.) Oh and Cubaney it may be, but it’s not Cuban. As for the 38% vol., don’t get me started. Colour: amber. Nose: it’s okay. Milk chocolate, honey sauce, vanilla, brioche, orange liqueur, molasses, menthol (a little.) We’ve seen worse. Mouth: yes it’s okay. A little flat but okay. Maple syrup, praline, caramel and cane syrup. Oops, almost forgot orange liqueur. And sugar. Finish: shortish, sugary, chocolaty. Pleasant honeyed notes. Comments: no interest whatsoever. Okay but boring and weakish. Pass. Okay? Nice label, though… SGP:720 - around 70 points.

Let’s go on. More supposedly old rum, and maybe more masochism…

Barceló 30 yo 'Imperial' (43%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2013)

Barceló 30 yo 'Imperial' (43%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2013) Two stars and a half Partly finished in Yquem casks. Erm, rings a bell. One of the kitschiest bottles I’ve seen – but the juice might be good, of course. And I’m sorry, but I feel the urge to copy-and-paste from the brand’s website: “The Barceló Imperial Premium Blend 30 Aniversario is the result of the marriage of ancient reserves of the Imperial to the noble cuts of American white oak barrels and the barrels of Chateau D'Yquiem, prestigious wine cellar with more than four centuries of history. These reserves accentuate the virtues most appreciated by connoisseurs who have recognized our laureate rum, as the best in the world, and it is then, with the elaboration of this 30th Anniversary, that is reached the exuberant nobility, exceptional taste, strength, complexity and high quality that characterizes this limited production.” Aren’t we stunned? Colour: red amber. Nose: not much. Mushrooms, perhaps. Moss, humus, wet grass, half a cigar, burnt caramel, toasted oak, roasted chestnuts… But wait, this is quite nice! Also broken branches, fresh walnuts, a hint of eucalyptus… It’s all rather subtle and elegant. Not big, but elegant indeed… Mouth: yes it’s pretty good rum, in my opinion. There’s some sugar but it’s not the first thing that jumps onto your tongue, there’s also more subtle touches of mint, liquorice, banana skins, chocolate ganache and, once again, roasted chestnuts that make it all quite pleasant. But there isn’t much body…  Finish: short, a little more burnt and cooked. And the mushrooms are back. Dried porcinis? Comments: I’d drink it, that’s all I can say. But it’s light rum… SGP:630 - around 79 points.

A last one, maybe one that would be more… interesting?

Demerara 23 yo 1989/2012 (45%, Rum Nation, Guyana)

Demerara 23 yo 1989/2012 (45%, Rum Nation, Guyana) Four stars Rum Nation is Wilson & Morgan’s sister brand. In my experience, whisky bottlers do the better rums. Colour: red mahogany. Nose: yes! Sends all these hyper-branded old-solera-aged rums back to the school of sugar cane. It’s heavy, it’s fat, it’s ridden with tar, liquorice, tapenade, ink, engine oil and it’s just brilliant. As expected. Mouth: perfect Demerara, full of flaws and full of fun. Heavy liquorice again, brine, black olives, prunes, tar, fruitcake, smoked things, big black raisins (Corinth?) and smoked fish. You may add a quarter of black bitter chocolate. Finish: very long, oily and olive-y, with raisins and more smoked fish. Sea urchins? Sherry. The aftertaste is unexpectedly grapey and raisiny, so probably x-sherry. Comments: great heavy Demerara, pretty extreme despite the very ‘fair’ strength. Beats them all today. SGP:663 - around 87 points.

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

 

 

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