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

Serge whiskyfun

 

Whiskies 17,695
Other spirits 2,636
Angus 1,614

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (102)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
31)
Banff (5
2)
Ben Nevis (2
69)
Ben Wyvis
(3)
Benriach (1
9
9)
Benrinnes (
112)
Benromach (
8
3)
Bladnoch (
87)
Blair Athol (
114)
Bowmore (5
77)
Braes of Glenlivet (
54)
Brora (1
43)
Bruichladdich (320)
Bunnahabhain (
416)

Caol Ila (736)
Caperdonich (
106)
Cardhu (4
3)
Clynelish (4
66)
Coleburn (2
5)
Convalmore (
30)
Cragganmore (8
8)
Craigduff (4)
Craigellachie (
111)
Dailuaine (91)
Dallas Dhu (41)
Dalmore (1
35)
Dalwhinnie (38)
Deanston (
6
4)
Dufftown (5
8)

Edradour (95)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
91)
Laphroaig (
5
21)
Ledaig (1
37)
Linkwood (
202)
Littlemill (1
2
9)
Loch Lomond (
91)
Lochside (72)
Longmorn (2
3
8)
Longrow (
85)
Macallan (328)
Macduff (91)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
55)
Millburn (2
4)
Miltonduff (
103)
Mortlach (2
16)
Mosstowie (2
5)
Scapa (53)
Speyburn (
48)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (
4
34)
St-Magdalene (5
6)
Strathisla (
112)
Strathmill (
53)

 
 
Pete and Jack



2022
June 1
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2021
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

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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The Magical History
of the Great
Brora Distillery
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.

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

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
22

 


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June 25, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Three Balvenie
I'm always happy to revisit Balvenie from time to time, especially when some older examples are on the table. We'll have a recent peaty official offering, alongside a couple of old bottlings that I opened for previous iterations of the Whisky Show Old & Rare.

 

Balvenie 17 yo 'The Week Of Peat' (49.4%, OB, 2021)

Balvenie 17 yo 'The Week Of Peat' (49.4%, OB, 2021)
Apparently this was created using peat from Pitsligo up in ?? Colour: gold. Nose: a rather dry and dusty peat, not dissimilar to inhaling deeply from some old wooden malt bins, it's also reminiscent of some late 1970s batches of Ardmore with these wee farmyard and oily sheep wool touches. Wet bracken, camphor, toolbox rags and wood embers. It's certainly a departure from most other peated makes in overall style. Mouth: good arrival, rather sooty, a little oily, more camphor, cod liver oil, suet, herbal broths, umami paste and various shades of pepper adding warmth. Still this impression of a kind of damp, farmy smokiness pervading things. In time some more assertive peaty notes and impressions of smoked meats developing, some olive oil too. Finish: medium, lightly tarry, camphor again, some smoked honey, pepper and lighter medicinal notes. Comments: I find this very good in the sense that it comes across as quite different in style; it's not just 'another peated variant' in that respect. Although, it perhaps lacks a little 'definition' at times, in that it comes across as a little unsure of itself at points. But there's pleasure here for sure and it's certainly worth trying.
SGP: 575 - 86 points.

 

 

Balvenie 1975/1985 (57.1%, Robert Watson)

Balvenie 1975/1985 (57.1%, Robert Watson)
Robert Watson of Aberdeen were responsible for a number of pretty excellent and fascinating old bottlings over the decades, including quite a few outstanding indy Balvenies at high strengths. Thankfully William Grant are still generous enough to sell some casks to the indy bottlers… oh, wait, wrong universe. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: pure, raw, rugged distillate driven malt! All on sinewed barley notes, malt extract, chalk, pebbles, mustard powder, parsley and things like wet plaster and aspirin. Austere but balanced by a big, chunky waxiness and some underlying notes of olive and sunflower oils. Strides that tight rope between charisma and excessive rawness that can tip over into plain petrol - which doesn't happen here. With water: opens nicely onto pollens, vase water, dried flowers, aged mead and camphor now. Maintains this superb richness and impression of texture and fatness. Mouth: pow! Really goes up a notch here, terrific arrival all on peppery warmth, honey, malt syrup, rich cereals, limestone and waxy citrus rinds. Shows what a big and profoundly charismatic distillate Balvenie was in this era. With water: wonderfully peppery now, with hints of sandalwood, watercress, fennel and lime. Also woodruff and a more medicinal herbal vibe emerging. Really terrific! Finish: long, oily, mineral and really starting to get greasy, fat and oily. Cocktails made by spooning gunge directly from the low wines and feints receiver (is that a thing? Send in some hipster mixologists post-haste!) Comments: one of a handful of exemplary old bottlings that demonstrate just what a thrilling and unashamedly fat, joyful distillate old Balvenie was. Not saying the modern examples aren't also great, but I feel after the mid-1970s it lost this particular kind of 'fatness'.
SGP: 472 - 91 points.

 

 

Balvenie 15 yo 1974/1990 (57.1%, Signatory Vintage, cask #18103-18130, 1300 bottles)

Balvenie 15 yo 1974/1990 (57.1%, Signatory Vintage, cask #18103-18130, 1300 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: a gorgeous fusion of resinous, crystallised honeys, meads, camphor and waxes. Mineral oils, putty, jasmine tea, pressed meadow flowers and big, textural notes of Barbour grease, hessians and pure, gungy waxes. Just outstanding! With water: becomes even richer and also more aromatically diverse, taking in wee notes of biscuity sweetness, freshly baked breads, sweet ales and herbal teas. Mouth: richly honeyed, oily, waxy, fatty - almost glycerol in texture and showing many tiny notes of honeys, meads, pollens, coal tar soap and increasingly medicinal. Some citrus curds, slightly salty qualities and things like sandalwood, lanolin and tiger balm. With water: herbs, roots, fennel seed, liquorice, cough medicines, drying waxiness and peppery warmth.  Glorious! Finish: long, bitterly herbal, brilliantly waxy, oily and full of camphor, fir resins, dried mint and tarragon. Comments: these bottles just demolish any arguments about whisky 'not changing' over the years - this is pure old style malt whisky at its glittering best!
SGP: 562 - 93 points.

 

 

 

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

 

June 23, 2022


Whiskyfun

Scottish hotch potches, a sequel with cars

Once again, a few rather unclassifiable Scotch whiskies. (Picture Omnibus Gallery, Aspen)


 

 

Black Bottle 10 yo (40%, OB, blended scotch, +/-2021) Two stars
More ancient versions of Black Bottle used to carry a rather good reputation but to be honest, even with really old ones, we've never really been thrilled. Only one from the 1930s managed to contemplate the 90-mark in some way. Very recent ones have actually been underwhelming, but let's see… Colour: gold. Nose: whiffs of young smoke and metal polish, otherwise some hay and sugared breakfast tea. Light dry nose. Mouth: once again a little peat in the arrival, a salty touch as well, some soot and rubber, but it's getting a little drying, tea-ish again, with dried herbs and hay. A light, rather thin body. Finish: short, slightly soapy, dry, tea-ish. Some cardboard in the aftertaste, as almost always with entry-level blends. Comments: very nice packaging but double the price of other Scotch blends of similar, rather very average quality, in my opinion.

SGP:442 - 70 points.

Another go at the brand…

Black Bottle 'Island Smoke Batch 2' (46.3%, OB, blended scotch, 2021)

Black Bottle 'Island Smoke Batch 2' (46.3%, OB, blended scotch, 2021) Three stars and a half
This one's meant to be rather smokier, so perhaps more in line with earlier Black Bottles that used to be known as 'peatier blends', although they would never have reached the level of smoke that was to be found, for example, in White Horse. Colour: full gold. Nose: strictly nothing to do with the humble Black Bottle 10. Nice sooty and ashy smoke, some seawater, seaweed, beach bonfire, burning pinewood, cough syrup, iodine… All in all, a really fine, flawless, softer peater on your nose. The higher strength helps too. Mouth: really good, with probably a high malt content (more than 50%?) Good sweet coastal smoke as we sometimes say, also touches of tinned pineapple (from the grain, probably) and guavas. A little menthol and liquorice too, all that working well together, pretty much in sync. Fine composition! Finish: good length, with salty chutneys, pickled fruits (wee citrus) and just, indeed, some 'sweet smoke'. Only the aftertaste has got a little cardboard again, as well as some mustard. Comments: strictly nothing to do with the 10, and surely one of today's better blends, I would say.
SGP:454 - 84 points.

Since we're doing black ones…

Johnnie Walker 12 yo 'Black Label Sherry Finish' (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2022)

Johnnie Walker 12 yo 'Black Label Sherry Finish' (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2022) Four stars
We're having quite a few Johnnie Wa lkers these days, which I find cool. It's an all-important brand! This is a blend that's boosted with Caol Ila… and sherry wood. Colour: full amber – a little suspiciously. Nose: what anyone would call a fine all-rounder, with touches of smoke, toffee, pecan pie, butterscotch, stout, raisins, then a little beeswax, some earthy kind of marmalade, some tobacco… Honestly, this is a rather wonderful nose, but as we all know, the devil's almost always on the palate. Mouth: can't quite find the devil. I have the impression that this is like earlier 'regular' JW Black 12s, the good ones that used to be rather vastly superior to today's offerings, as far as I can tell. Very good roasted nuts, walnuts, ashes, tobacco, some clear salty smokiness, a little coffee, a little chocolate, a little salty fudge, some full-bodied honey… All excellent, even the lower strength is not quite a handicap here. Finish: medium, void of any cardboard or excessive tea-ishness, smoky and salty, with dried dates, tobacco and black raisins. No cardboard either in the aftertaste, rather a few drops of pina colada. Comments: it's not that I'm surprised, but… yeah, there, I am surprised. Should I need a house blend, I may pick this excellent one.

SGP:553 - 85 points.

Even more black stuff…

Black Bull 'Peated Edition' (50%, Duncan Taylor, blended scotch, +/-2021)

Black Bull 'Peated Edition' (50%, Duncan Taylor, blended scotch, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
On the back label, they would say this is 'a Highlander', which would suggest that they've sourced the peaters in the mainland. The brand is very much involved in car racing, which can only please us at WF. Remember we co-sponsored a car in the French rally championship, and even Ralfy's world-record-breaking motorbike? Things have become quieter these days but I am thinking of something, please stay tuned… In the meantime, let's try this Black Bull. Colour: straw. Nose: some fresh young peat, perhaps a little rough. Mercurochrome, fresh cider, seawater or brine, oysters and lemons… This far this feels like some 5 years old Caol Ila. No scandal here, naturally. With water: limoncello and seawater. Of course. Mouth (neat): bright lemony and salty smoke, with seemingly a view on the Paps of Jura. See what I mean? With water: I don't think there's much grain whisky in there. 30%? 40%? Finish: medium, this time a tad softer, but with nice ashes. Very smoky and salty aftertaste. Comments: very good, very smoky blend. We've got quite a few older Black Bulls in the boxes, we'll try them later.
SGP:455 - 84 points.

Since we were talking car racing…

Highland Single Malt 6 yo 2014/2021 (50%, Bottles & Legends, refill hogshead, cask #76, 174 bottles)

Highland Single Malt 6 yo 2014/2021 (50%, Bottles & Legends, refill hogshead, cask #76, 174 bottles) Three stars
With a pink Porsche on the label. One day, I'll tell the story about me almost buying an ex-Martina Navratilova fuchsia-pink convertible Porsche Turbo with all-white leather seats. The important word here is 'almost'. Mrs Navratilova has always been deeply involved with Porsche.  All right, this is a 'Ruadh Maor', so actually a peated Glenturret. Not sure it belongs here, but since it's already in our tasting glass… Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: new rubber boots, mutton suet, sour fruits, gym socks, rotting figs and Greek yoghurt. Distillate-driven whiskies are even funnier when said distillates are a little funky, as they say in rum. With water: burning paraffin and new bicycle inner tubes. Or there, new Pirellis for that pink Porsche on the label. Mouth (neat): someone clever has gathered many fruits and vegetables, then smoked them using pinewood and greasy brown coal, then mashed and distilled them in a pressure cooker. Or in proper copper pot stills. With water: great fun, despite the notes of new plastics. Finish: long, salty and sour, plus tons of other unlikely flavours. Sweetened cream cheese? Also just 'pears'. Comments: regular Glenturrets have become much cleaner, but the peated ones seem to have kept all the dirty-ish wackiness of old. That's rather cool.
SGP:564 - 82 points.

What else have we got…

A Speyside Distillery 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, refill and first fill oloroso, 2022)

A Speyside Distillery 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, refill and first fill oloroso, 2022) Four stars
So an undisclosed single malt from Speyside. Colour: amber. Nose: but yes, guignolet (cherry liqueur) and a fresh box of Mon Chéri, maraschino, black cigars, Christmas cake (I perfectly know that this is not the right season), old rum and charcoal. No one would cry wolf if you said that this could be Glenfarclas. Mouth: totally on chestnut purée, chocolate sauce, more fruitcake, mocha, Guinness, red Bourgogne wine, marmalade and more maraschino. Finish: rather long, with a dollop of strawberry jelly, then proper oloroso (a tad dulce, or cream) and just fresh raisin rolls. Comments: just super-good, flawless, classic sweet-sherried malt with a solid body.

SGP:651 - 86 points.

Blended Malt 20 yo 2001/2021 (45%, Thompson Bros., sherry butt matured, 626 bottles)

Blended Malt 20 yo 2001/2021 (45%, Thompson Bros., sherry butt matured, 626 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: fun stuff, a little deviant at first, almost punk (old LPs, books and magazine, ink, polyester), then much more gentle, classic, on raisins, toffee and coffee. Well you do feel that it's all going to happen on the palate… Mouth: sweet, honeyed, very slightly dusty at first, becoming then very brandy-like, cognacqy as we say, with a growing earthiness and some black tea, all that with a slightly fat body that would remind us of that famous Distillery in Craigellachie. Very faintly sulphury background, rather an asset here than a problem. Oh and rather a lot of Demerara sugar. Finish: rather long, more on classic raisins, toffee and marmalade. Dark chocolate and coffee dregs in the aftertaste. Comments: indeed, could be that one. Quality's high, as always at the Thompsons'.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

A Highland Distillery 21 yo 2000/2022 (55.2%, Watt Whisky, sherry hogshead, 308 bottles)

A Highland Distillery 21 yo 2000/2022 (55.2%, Watt Whisky, sherry hogshead, 308 bottles) Four stars
Do not always believe that these secret Highlanders are either Glenmorangie or Clynelish! They could be Macallan… Colour: gold. Nose: probably none of them. Some sour fruits, wood, pickled mushrooms, artichokes in oil, some sulphury wines (we know some rieslings…), also asparagus, pointed cabbage, well we're almost about to mention broccoli. With water: always some gas and truffle oil. More artichokes in oil, as they do in Italy. Some cured ham too, by the way. Mouth (neat): touch of gunpowder at first, then Linzertorte, pumpernickel, moist pipe tobacco and fig wine. Who's never had bits of pipe tobacco in the mouth, willingly or unwillingly? With water: more sooty aromatics, more gunpowder, also more chalk and raw coffee beans, robusta rather than arabica. Finish: long, always with these truffles, gunpowder, and rubbery jams. Not sure rubbery jams do exist, but that's an idea… Comments: all uncertain and wobbly, all good and different. I couldn't tell you where this was distilled and matured, probably in hell's kitchen, but as Mick J. would say, I like it.
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Speyside Region 26 yo 1991/2017 (50.6%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry cask)

Speyside Region 26 yo 1991/2017 (50.6%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry cask) Five stars
The ducks are back on Whiskyfun! I have to say I'm sad I haven't met them in Limburg this year. Colour: gold. Nose: tops. Mirabelle jam, fresh croissants, custard, whiffs of balsa wood, a little sugarcane syrup, and something that would clearly lead us to Balvenie. I'm not saying this is Balvenie, absolutely not, but I'm sure you get the idea and the picture. With water: brioche and custard. What we call 'English cream' in French. A wonderful pure fermentary maltiness in the background. Mouth (neat): totally excellent. More mirabelles, quinces, orange jam, orange blossom water, spicier Turkish delights, some hay wine… With water: mirabelle eau-de-vie and preserved greengages. Ouah ! as we say over here. Finish: medium, superbly vanilla-ed and mirabelly. I feel the need to apologise to the Queen of England because I've used yet another barbarism, 'mirabelly'. Comments: ex-bourbon Aberlours could be like this too, but this is ex-sherry. Anyways, loved this one.

SGP:651 - 90 points.

Peatside 10 yo 2011/2021 (53.2%, Kintra Spirits, Madeira full maturation, cask #5541, 303 bottles)

Peatside 10 yo 2011/2021 (53.2%, Kintra Spirits, Madeira full maturation, cask #5541, 303 bottles) Three stars
We're always siding with peat anyway, are we not? And s***w nitrosamines! Now this is a peated whisky from Speyside, so let's give it extra-care… Colour: full gold. Nose: bags of pencil shavings, pine bark, then litres of ginger liqueur and aquavit. I mean, caraway-led aquavit. Also mustard and… agave? Mezcal? An unusual drop for sure. With water: more pencil shavings. Mouth (neat): someone's smoked a whole Ikea shop. All kinds of woods including plywood, plus all kinds of smokes (pine, peat, coal, beech) and some ginger and cinnamon liqueur. Some modern oak-witchcraft in action here, for sure. With water: cool, sweeter, spicier. Ginger, horseradish, caraway, mustard, honey. Finish: long, spicy and sweet. Sweeter nutmeg in the aftertaste. Comments: modern and brilliantly made, but perhaps a little too much for me. This is the style that many new 'craft' distilleries would have implemented.

SGP:661 - 82 points.

I think we'll have a last one… Please, let's make it an old one from refill…

Secret Speyside 31 yo 1990/2021 (52.8%, Whisky AGE, refill barrel cask ref #SP001, 245 bottles)

Secret Speyside 31 yo 1990/2021 (52.8%, Whisky AGE, refill barrel cask ref #SP001, 245 bottles) Four stars
This from Taiwan. According to the design of the label, it was related to Santa Klaus in some ways, so we might be a little late once more… (no surprises here, S.!) Colour: gold. Nose: fresh breads and brioches this time, also mandarins, pistachios, sesame oil, suet and marrow, Parma ham, Caesar's mushrooms, damp limestone earth… This is a good example of an old malt whisky that's starting to display unusual, rather tertiary  aromas. With water: oils and greases, fresh-sawn plywood, pinewood… Not sure it needed water. Mouth (neat): unusual oils and woods indeed, wakame, balsam, eucalyptus, Brazil nuts, kumquats and bergamots, bitter almonds, grapefruit, 'green' polishes and resins… In fact, this one's rather clearly resinous. With water: citrus liqueurs, plasticine, wax and pinewood. Finish: medium, even more on sweet waxes and pinewood. Typical old refill wood of very good quality. Comments: a pretty waxy and piney old Speysider, any ideas? What could this be? I may have forgotten to mention plantains and small 'green' bananas. Great (slightly tough) drop.

SGP:561 - 87 points.
 

June 21, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Talisker NAS plus Ultima

We've tried rather many Taliskers in recent times, which can only please us. Mind you, we're approaching our 200th T, while there really aren't many at the indies (except perhaps at DL/HL's).

(Picture, there once was a very good Scottish folk-jazz band named Talisker, Check them out. I believe their leader, drummer Ken Hyder, is still playing)

Talisker

 

 

Talisker 'Storm' (45.8%, OB, +/-2021)

Talisker 'Storm' (45.8%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
With the new 'coastal' label.  In truth we're only using these wee NASses as sparring partners, even if in my book, 'Storm' is way, way more enjoyable than 'Skye'. Skye is the Achille's heel of the range, in my humble opinion. Colour: light gold. Nose: you do feel the work of fresh or rejuvenated American oak, with this pleasant rounded sweetness on the nose and many, many cakes and brioches and soft breads and just chalk, wool and mud. Some bitter almonds in the background, proper amlou (mix and thin-grind honey, almonds and argan oil, the proportions being fifty-fifty-fifty as my dear German-born grandmother used to say). Amlou is an energetic sin. Mouth: more salty peat, seawater, a feeling of plaster, pepper, lemon, flour and peppered whelks and razorfish. Finish: rather long, with some oak that feels a little bit (sawdust). Vanilla. Comments: we're still far from the vibrant 10 yo, but I would really quaff this (when there's no 10). It is a very peaty Talisker.

SGP:356 - 84 points.

Talisker 1984/2021 (51.9%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, hogsheads and sherry butt, 2022)

Talisker 1984/2021 (51.9%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, hogsheads and sherry butt, 2022) Five stars
From 3 refill American oak hogsheads and 1 ex-sherry European oak butt. It's to be said that all very old Taliskers that we could try within the last 24 months have been extremely graceful and transportative (copyright Ewan Gunn!), while last year's 1979 Prima & Ultima was just totally sublime (WF 93). Colour: straw/white wine. Nose: myriads of tiny white and yellow fruits, plus bandages, oyster plant, old cough syrup, mangos (m.a.n.g.o.s.) and distant whiffs of burning incense. It is always fascinating to see how peat decomposes into fruity aromas over many decades, especially mangos and passion fruits, as can also be experienced at a famous distillery on the KIldalton coast of Islay (first one east of Port Ellen). With water: changes direction, goes towards a pharmacy. More bandages, more mercurochrome, more herbal teas (the ones that cure everything)… Mouth: very high class. Salted and smoked nougat (who's ever going to make that?) plus oysters and langoustines, mangos indeed, lemons, some pepper as usual (very soft, rather Szechuan), cough syrup, crystallised angelica, touches of grapefruit… All that is subtle and almost meditative, it sure isn't a restless, boisterous Talisker but the DNA is fully there. I believe I've used the word 'graceful' somewhere… With water: it is an old white Burgundy by some of the top-tier winemakers. Finish: medium, delicate, complex, elegant, rather fascinating… I know, lousy brochure-y writing, not proud. Almond paste, marzipan, a feeling of fresh putty in the aftertaste. Linseed oil – like. Comments: this dazzling old Talisker is probably a little less smoky than some of its compadres; on the other hand, it reminds me of some very old official bottles (8 and 12 from the 1970s, or the earlier NAS). Just sublime.
SGP:464 - 93 points.

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

 

June 20, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Glen Ord,
young plus ultima

We're going on with our exploration of this year's Prima & Ultima series by Diageo. We'll always keep in mind the rather extraordinary official Ord 30 yo from around twenty years ago, in its rectangular bottle. By the way, Ord, Glen Ord, Glenordie or The Singleton of Glen Ord, that's all from the same distillery. Let's also remember that there's a large malting plant at Glen Ord (previously even Saladin boxes), so we could say that Glen Ord are doing their maltings themselve.
(picture, magazine ad, circa 1995. Crazy admen...)

Ord

 

 

Glen Ord 9 yo 2021/2021 (53.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 148 bottles)

Glen Ord 9 yo 2021/2021 (53.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 148 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine and definitely unfiltered, as we're having a lot of wee black congeners swimming and twirling around. Cool! Nose: so very epitomically Glen Ord, which I've always found full of beeswax and tarte tatin. Some wonderful pears too in there, as well as a discreet smokiness, as if someone would be smoking a cigar… a mile away. With water: barley! It's not often that we would be this close to raw barley, plus the syrup made thereof, not to mention candy cane. Remember those flutes we were having when we were kids? Mouth (neat): extremely thick, as a syrup, and viscimetrical even without water. Greengage syrup, barley syrup, williams pears… With water: once again, back to the barley – and ripe pears. Finish: rather long, still thickly textured, with a little lemon this time. Candyfloss, toffee apple… It's a party! Comments: just excellent, a lovely fat spirit with a superb mouthfeel.
SGP:641 - 87 points.

The Singleton of Glen Ord 1987/2021 (49,4%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 1,047 bottles, 2022)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 1987/2021 (49,4%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 1,047 bottles, 2022) Five stars
This one from five casks, the last 1987s that Diageo would have owned. Colour: straw. Nose: I'm instantly reminded of that glorious 30 years old we were just mentioning. Beeswax, ripe apples, honeycomb, dandelions, acacia flowers, honeysuckle, papaya, meadow honey, apricots, jujubes, quince jelly, mirabelle jam… and although it's 100% not winey, you would also find some lovely sweet wines such as the ripe chenins blancs from Loire (Côteaux-du-Layon). Mouth: exactly. This composition reminds us that even if single malts are single malts (bravo, S.!) you still need a good master blender as soon as you marry several casks. By the way, after Dr Jim and Mrs Robinson with the first two editions of the Prima & Ultima, this year it is Dr Craig Wilson who's been handling the valinches and the pipettes. Successfully, judging by this little Glen Ord that's just astoundingly honeyed and ridden wit juicy dried fruits and jams. Like, mirabelles and quinces! Other fruits in the bower, bergamots, dried jujubes, dates for sure… Finish: medium, with some very soft spices, tiny touch of ginger, cinnamon rolls, and certainly more fragrant honey. Comments: indeed, I'm having the feeling of drinking that old 30 years old. It's incredible how our mind works, as I've just checked that I've last tried that official 30 on February 15… 2006!

SGP:641 - 92 points.

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

 

June 19, 2022


Whiskyfun

  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!

 

Summer starts this week, let us try white tequila

Summer in the northern hemisphere, naturally. We'll have mezcals later. By the way, the Consejo Regulador del Tequila is publishing an oline list of 'Companies certified for Tequila and Tequila 100%'.

 

XXX Siglo Treinta 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2019)

XXX Siglo Treinta 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2019)
According to websites, this is 'ultra-premium tequila', which is a little frightening indeed. Colour: white. Nose: a very fragrant one, perhaps a tad too much, with a blend of peonies (not all peonies are fragrant but some are big time indeed) and roses, then juniper, gin, soap and cranberry juice. Mouth: very sweet, floral, really full of juniper and roses. Tends to fall apart and to become a tad raw and bitterish, with even notes of bitter oak, while there isn't any oak here, obviously. Finish: medium, a little soapy. Feels like gin. Comments: okayish, rather too much on gin. Tequila tonic, does that exist?
 SGP:630 - 65 points.

T1 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2019)

T1 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2019) Three stars
T1 = Tequila Uno, you understand. This one too is meant to be 'ultra-premium'. I mean, 'ultra-fino'. According to the very fine folks at TWE, the brand was 'established by German Gonzalez, great grandson of a former Mexican president'. Feels like a Netflix series about narcos, no? Where have I put my bulletproof vest? Colour: white. Nose: clearly tighter, grassier, and frankly more serious, with some agave, olives, lime, celeriac and elderberries. I like it so far. Mouth: very good, with olives and citrons, yuzu, juniper, some earthy touches, perhaps bamboo shoots, caraway, fennel and dill… I also enjoy the clear earthy side here. I could drink this straight and uniced. The XXX had to be extra-chilled to go down. Finish: medium, clean, more floral. Roots in the aftertaste, even yellow chartreuse. Comments: very good silver tequila. We're slowly getting into the mood…

SGP:551 - 82 points.

El Rayo 'N. °1 Plata' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

El Rayo 'N. °1 Plata' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021) Two stars
I mean, the presentation is very high-brow, this should be meta-premium. Colour: white. Nose: much less agave-ness in this one, rather pears and caramelised pecans, even notes of marc, or even blanche d'armagnac, caramel, fudge, cappuccino. Very surprising, as if it had been aged in wood and then discoloured. Mouth: similar feeling, this might well have met some wood at some point. Some vanilla, olive cake (Tupperware used to have a world-famous recipe for that), macchiato, madeleines… IN truth it loses me, all I'm expecting is some pure, clean, straight-to-the-point agaveness. That's not working but it's not impossible that true tequila maniacs who've already had thousands behind their ties would enjoy this variant. Finish: similar. Medium, smooth, vanilla-ed and almost whisky-y. Comments: I know I should check how they're making this, but there is insufficient time at WF Towers…

SGP:530 - 76 points.

Patron 'Tequila Silver' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2022)

Patron 'Tequila Silver' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2022) Two stars
A very large brand, most probably owned by a kind of worldwide booze consortium. We won't try to learn more about it, but at least this is 100% agave. Colour: white. Nose: pears and Schweppes. Was that fast enough? Mouth: I have to confess I rather like this, despite a few gritty, ethanoly notes. And even if it would tend to become a little gluey. Finish: gets bitterer, less precise, more on pears. Loses some points at this stage. Loses its agave-iness. Comments: this Patron started well and got then a little vulgar. Mind you, they must be producing millions of cases every year.

SGP:540 - 75 points.

Corazon 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Corazon 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021) Three stars
This is single estate tequila, 100% blue agave. What's called 'Weber' agave. Colour: white. Nose: oh yes! Lovely, albeit a tad syrupy, with some clear and well-chiselled agaveness. Some very lovely whiffs of vegetables, Chinese cabbage, asparagus, celeriac again… We're closer to the raw materials, always the best configuration in our wee book.  Mouth: no quibbles, this is a good one, even if it is a tad varnishy at first, and perhaps a little sweetish. Good citrus, roots, legumes, baboo shoots, palm heart… It's pretty complex if you take your time. Finish: medium, semi-sweet, slightly salty (hurray), with some depth. Unexpected notes of sake and beer. Comments: well, it's not that clean, but it just delivers. Oh and they should bottle these at 43 or 45 or 46% vol.

SGP:461 - 80 points.

Mijenta 'Blanco' (40%, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Mijenta 'Blanco' (40%, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021) Two stars
H.o.l.d. o.n., this is meant to be proper tequila for die-hard tequila maniacs. According to the price, at least… Colour: white. Nose: back on pears and kirsch. Not too sure, I'm missing the agaveness. Once again a feeling of vanilla-ed oak, even if this is very blanco. The Corazon's freshness buries this little Mijenta, I'm afraid, having said that some olives are showing up after thirty seconds, while olives will save just any spirit. Even Springbank! Mouth: starts goodly if a little pearish and even calvadossy. Rather rounded as a consequence, with a tendency to become a little indefinite, rough and burning. Loses steam, stamina and focus. Finish: medium, saltier, still a little indefinite and perhaps too 'cooked' and mellow. Comments: it started very well but it simply lost focus along the path and became a littler 'tutti-frutti-ish'. Oh, no, to think that it accumulated so many competition medals!
SGP:551 - 72 points.

Pueblo Viejo 'Blanco' (38%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Pueblo Viejo 'Blanco' (38%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021)
Low strength, bad news. It's like Laphroaig at 40% vol. This is 'tequila orgullo' but we don't know what that means. Oh and 100% agave. Colour: white. Nose: easy, nice, soft, but with whiffs of gentian spirit. It is well known that gentian spirits will save the world. Frankly, I'm all ears and tastebuds this far… Mouth: no. Some sides are nice (chocolate and gentian) but it's lacking both volts and watts. A flattish tequila and probably some missed opportunities, coz the core had some assets. Finish: don't bother. An ugly sweetness in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm sure something could have been done here.
SGP:550 - 55 points.

Let us accelerate!…

Vivir 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Vivir 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021)
Overdone packaging? Of course not, and this is 100% Blue Weber agave mind you. Now they say this would be 'smooth' tequila, so careful… Colour: white. Nose: no interests. Ethanol, burnt kirsch, salsify and asparagus. No bright agaveness at this point. Mouth: okayish, barely. Weak, smoothish, pearish, extremely far from any proper agaveness. Finish: short, sweet, too rounded and clumsy. Comments: no, really. Poor, murky and uncertain spirit.
SGP:640 - 60 points.

Batanga 'Blanco' (38%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Batanga 'Blanco' (38%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
Jesus, 38% vol. again! Why are we doing this, while we could be tasting Brora, Port Ellen or Lagavulin instead? It's really about doing stuff because we said we would do it, but between us, this kind of vainglory is becoming tiring. Anyway… Colour: white. So far, so good (ha!) Nose: hello? Anybody in there? Perhaps gherkins and olives, which isn't bad news if you ask me. Like this, despite the stingy strength. Mouth: right, it's good tequila, but boy is it feeble and frustrating. Nice roots and lemons, like some kind of lemony and salty gentian. Finish: medium to light, but clean and fresh. A little medicinal. Comments: who's decided to butcher this rather lovely spirit? Can we have a Batanga at 46% vol., please? Please?

SGP:551 - 78 points.

Salitos 'Silver' (38%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Salitos 'Silver' (38%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021)
Thirsty-eight percent this time again, this is plain and pure provocation! 'Salitos O Muerte!', they say… Feels like brand-builders are at the helm. Having said that, it is a cheap tequila, like 15€ a bottle. Yep. Colour: white. Nose: no, not much, feels like a mixto, meaning a blend of agave spirit with just… er, grain whisky? Flat, poor, inexistant. Mouth: downable on a lot of ice, otherwise very poor and seriously bad. Finish: no way, we've spitted it out already. Comments: impaired tequila, but is it even tequila?

SGP:420 - 25 points.

Fortaleza 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

Fortaleza 'Blanco' (40%, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021) Two stars
Pretty expensive and lavishly presented, not unlike Patron. Colour: white. Nose: light, with some lemon syrup and touches of dill, lime juice, some paraffin (a first today), radish, leek, juniper, beets, celeriac… This is all a little too light, but I say the profile is right. Mouth: back on the tracks, even if the edges remain rough and a tad spirity. Celeriac, root eau-de-vie, gentian, sultanas that are coming unexpected, a medicinal side… Finish: rather short, rooty, with some sweet liquorice and some agave syrup. First time we're finding agave syrup in these tequilas, I think. Comments: not a grand spirit, and we'll have forgotten about it right tomorrow morning, but it sure isn't the baddest tequila ever.

SGP:530 - 72 points.

123 'Blanco' (40%, %, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2018)

123 'Blanco' (40%, %, OB, Tequila Blanco, +/-2021) one star and a half
Although this one's organic, I'm not sure we'll survive this session. And I mean, who would start a new brand and call it '123'? But let's be honest, this reeks of quality and seriousness. Colour: white. Nose: not much I'm afraid, but there is a mineral and medicinal kind of chalkiness that's rather suggesting some good quality. And cut apples. Mouth: good, rather bigger and fatter, with some vanilla that comes unexpected. Some saccharose, beets… Well, actually, this is another one that would lose some steam after just as few seconds, and another one that would lack definition, and another one that would be f…. boring in the end. Finish: forget. Poor and flat. Comments: I promise we rather do mezcal and sotol next time we do agave, that is to say around the year 2048.

SGP:440 - 68 points.

Time to have a very last one. We're bored to death, let's do a mezcal and say night-night.

El Camino del Pensador (48%, OB, Mezcal Joven, +/-2021)

El Camino del Pensador (48%, OB, Mezcal Joven, +/-2021) Four stars
I'm dead sure there would be dozens of stories to tell you about this one, but we've just had a good dozen of pretty boring white tequilas, so please bear with us. Some action please… Colour: white. Nose: ah, acetone! Ammonia! Cellulose varnish! Nail polish remover! Chestnut wood! Wine vinegar! Parsnips, turnips and other strange roots! It is all going well this time… Mouth: but yes. Varnishes, roots, gentian, glues, acetone-y flavours, more varnishes, fermenting berries, strange yeasts, esters, more glues, rotting fruits… This is lovable, perhaps a little hot (they said 48 but it feels like 68), and just extremely wild. Not sure it pensadores mucho, but its whacky bacterial side would just smash you. Finish: all right. Comments: what was that, we were almost dead already, we're now totally flattened and… say crushed out. But we've seen worse, and tomorrow will be another day. Oh, by the way, it was a great wild mezcal! Took no prisoners!

SGP:362 - 87 points.
 

June 18, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Touring the Western Isles + 'bonus'
An aimless and lazy wander about the western isles today if you please. We'll kick off on Jura…

 

 

 

 

 

Jura 20 yo 'Batch 5' (48.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 901 bottles)

Jura 20 yo 'Batch 5' (48.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 901 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: very Jura! This avalanche of mashy grains, wort and root vegetables baked in honey. Also waxes, suet, bouillon, over-stewed chamomile tea and some kind of fermenting honey. Charismatic, weird and a whole heap of fun! Mouth: same feeling, but with many more waxes, honeys, breads and a myriad display of mechanical oils, toolbox grease, hessian rags and bike chain 'stuff'. Really, you cannot say that Jura does not make a spirit with personality. Although, you can also see why the commercially minded owners might be tempted to clobber their distillate into Supermarket uniformity with any number of active woods. Finish: medium but very fatty, waxy, beery and going towards lactic notes and mustard powder. Comments: I can see why some would find this too extreme, parts of it remind me of some Loch Lomond makes or some rather off the grid old Irish whiskeys. For me however, I love this zany profile. We are a very long way from Glen Boring!
SGP: 472 - 87 points.

 

 

Jura 28 yo 1993/2021 (48.2%, Mossburn, hogshead, 220 bottles)

Jura 28 yo 1993/2021 (48.2%, Mossburn, hogshead, 220 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: same family tree, but this one long ago veered off more towards medicinal ointments, herbal cough syrups, funky old liqueurs and things like creme de menthe, eucalyptus scented pipe tobaccos and some old dry Rieslings. There's also a glimmer of salinity and a pretty impressive and encroaching waxiness that reeks of fatness and texture! Mouth: excellent! Richly honeyed, natural sweet, full of old school beers, ales, breads, meads and camphor. Fir wood resins, myrtle, camphor, lemon infused olive oil and this persistently textural waxiness. Finish: good length, one freshly baked breads once again, also toasted seeds, mineral oils, bouillon and more camphor and fir wood notes. Comments: terrific, charismatic, old style malt whisky. I know they divide opinion a bit, but I'm a big fan of these parcels of aged Jura. This is a top notch example, great selection.
SGP: 662 - 90 points.

 

 

And now, to Mull…

 

 

Tobermory 24 yo 1994/2022 (49.8%, C.Dully Selection for Sansibar, cask #10942, sherry butt, 78 bottles)

Tobermory 24 yo 1994/2022 (49.8%, C.Dully Selection for Sansibar, cask #10942, sherry butt, 78 bottles)
Only 78 bottles from a sherry butt? Very leaky, or someone in Switzerland has been necking the Toblerone Eau De Vie again… Colour: light amber. Nose: it's a balanced sherry style that's rather lean and leafy with a lot of gun metal, bouillon, mineral oil, sultanas and light tobacco notes. Elegant and rather stylish I would say, pairs quite effortlessly with the Tobermory character so far. Mouth: same feelings, gently drying, lightly herbal, rather leathery with creme caramel and praline. Also some nice umami flavours of miso, truffle and black pepper. A little gingery too perhaps. Finish: good length, becoming rather delicate now with teas, mushrooms, a touch of balsamic and some walnut oil. Comments: subtlety is the word here. Tiptoes around like a Swiss ballet dancer - probably.
SGP: 561 - 88 points.

 

 

Tobermory 25 yo 1996/2022 (50.1%, Dram Mor, refill hogshead + 1st fill Calvados finish, 167 bottles)

Tobermory 25 yo 1996/2022 (50.1%, Dram Mor, refill hogshead + 1st fill Calvados finish, 167 bottles)
Dram Mor seem to have mastered these clever finishings. Apples and pears + 90s Tobermory seems on paper like a good recipe… Colour: deep gold. Nose: it is probably the power of suggestion, but I do indeed find appley notes upfront, russet apples and bruised Granny Smiths. Then it goes more towards shoe leather, boot polish, mineral oils and toolbox rags. I like this rather rustic / mechanical combo. Also some touches of liquorice, verbena, coal dust and snapped twigs. With water: sooty apples, a drop of custard, some sweet cider and then some nicely mossy petrichor notes. Mouth: hoho, a big rush of Calvados! Was this cask rinsed? Apple pips, cask aged perry, lemon verbena, wormwood and mineral oil mixed with creme de menthe. A whole heap of fun! With water: opens up on green fruits, tea tree oil, mossy bark, lime curd and touches of aniseed and fennel. Very attractive. Finish: medium in length and displaying some nicely bitter notes of apple peelings, dried herbs, tree bark and citrus rinds. Slightly peppery in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm not generally a fan of finishings, but the ones I like tend to be very much about fun rather than anything too pretentious. This is certainly a fun whisky, one to pour blind to kick off an evening with some fellow whisky geeks.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.

 

 

Tobermory 26 yo 1995/2021 (51.0%, North Star, refill hogshead, 238 bottles)

Tobermory 26 yo 1995/2021 (51.0%, North Star, refill hogshead, 238 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: very typically on greases, yeasty breads, ales and fabrics. Some chalky beach pebble vibes and wee notes of waxes, flints, mineral oil and shoe polish. Very in keeping with these 90s Tobermory batches and also very good I think. With water: greener and slightly more peppery, these nice notes of grass, chlorophyll, wet rocks and muesli. Mouth: excellent arrival, surprisingly sweet and juicy with a lot of natural barley sweetness along with some notes of milk bottle sweets, ink, parsley and dried mixed herbs. More sourdough vibes along with a little lemon peel and verbena. Still nicely waxy too. With water: excellent weight and body, feels like a surprisingly textural example in the mouth, which may just be a very clever hogshead? Apple juice, honey, Turkish delight and condensed milk. Finish: good length, lots of warm peppery qualities, lingering waxy feelings and more of these citrus rinds and dried herbs. Comments: definitely one the best of these various Tobermory mid-90s casks I've tried thus far, this one really ticked many boxes and managed to balance some of the more 'milky' characteristics these can sometimes display.
SGP: 651 - 89 points.

 

 

One Ledaig while we are in the figurative visitor centre…

 

 

Ledaig 19 yo 2001/2021 (49.2%, Club Qing & Friends, hogshead, 219 bottles)

Ledaig 19 yo 2001/2021 (49.2%, Club Qing & Friends, hogshead, 219 bottles)
A bottling by Club Qing and shared with a number of other great bars. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: ashy smoke, seawater, grizzly peat and bonfire embers. Big, chunky, classical modern Ledaig, only now at this age its edges are beginning to round off. Peat smoked sheep wool with lemon juice and fresh oysters. Beautiful freshness and elegance after a little time. Mouth: seawater again, waxed lemon rinds, sooty-tinged kiln smoke and these rather superb camphor and hessian notes. Terrific fatness and thickness in the mouth even at below 50% - I would say the strength is kind of perfect in fact. Becomes a little more tarry and towards hessian and creel rope with time. Very maritime! Finish: long, pure, intricately smoky, lots of impressions of shellfish, salinity, umami broths and tar. Comments: it started out a tad simple but just kept on getting bigger and better as it went along. Isn't modern Ledaig just brilliant? Great selection.
SGP: 366 - 90 points.

 

 

Now we've hit peat I feel the only thing for it is to finish up on Islay…

 

 

Islay 30 yo 1990/2021 (48.8%, Thompson Bros 'Error 502 Bad Gateway', refill hogshead, 89 bottles)

Islay 30 yo 1990/2021 (48.8%, Thompson Bros 'Error 502 Bad Gateway', refill hogshead, 89 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: hard not to just think of mature early 1990s Laphroaig. Soft, quilted peat smoke, crushed beach shells, gentle medicinal embrocations, seawater, grapefruit, gauze and background notes of more luscious greener and exotic fruits. Undeniably pretty gorgeous with this impression of gentility and easiness. Mouth: a deeper, more impactful peaty quality, one that takes in bitter coffee, smoked teas, iodine, natural tar, seawater and dried herbs muddled with umami seasonings. Liquid smoke and aniseed. Perfect power and texture in the mouth - probably bottled at perfect maturity these batches I would say. Finish: medium, on anchovy paste, more dried herbal notes, dried lemon peels and more these seductively silky wafts of peat smoke. Comments: pure class! Gorgeous, mature, south shore Islay juice, that still retains an edge of power and complexity despite also being silly drinkable.
SGP: 566 - 91 points.

 

 

Islay 30 yo 1990/2021 (49.4%, Thompson Bros / Auld Alliance, refill barrel, 252 bottles)

Islay 30 yo 1990/2021 (49.4%, Thompson Bros / Auld Alliance, refill barrel, 252 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: same story, but perhaps more citrus-focused, more lemons in brine, grapefruit, bergamot and scented lapsing souchong tea. Again this soft herbal aspect, seawater, generic green fruitiness, easy soft peat smoke and lightly peppery tones at the back. Mouth: same story again, same quality. Superbly crisp peat smoke this time, perhaps more salty, more sharp and resinous. Seawater, grapefruit, aniseed, iodine and kiln smoke. Getting even a notch kippery. Finish: long, gently tarry and peppery, a deeper and more chewy peat smoke profile, and similarly lovely notes of smoked teas and citrus. Comments: if push came to shovel, I'd probably admit that this one is my favourite of the two, but I'm not sure it's enough that I would go a different score. No half points on Whiskyfun. Another really gorgeous old L*******g.
SGP: 566 - 91 points.

 

 

Islay 29 yo 1991/2021 (49.2%, Thompson Bros / Auld Alliance, refill barrel, 240 bottles)

Islay 29 yo 1991/2021 (49.2%, Thompson Bros / Auld Alliance, refill barrel, 240 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: I find this one goes more specifically towards medicines, all on bandages, gauze, gentle embrocations and distant wafts of TCP and iodine. Extremely typical but more focussed. With time it becomes a little more rooty and earthy, hints of gentian, antiseptic and soft peat smoke. Mouth: pure, ashy, briny and peaty with an overlying citrus fruit quality but with everything dialled down low so there is no single dominant flavour. The whole feels entirely about balance, integration and elegance. It's almost like a 10yo Laphroaig from the early 1990s but at a proper bottling strength and slightly less fruit. A touch of sandalwood and dried fish too. Finish: long, more deeply and assertively peaty, earthy and on medical roots once again, then peppery and with a tang of mustard powder in the aftertaste. Comments: top notch and wonderfully focussed and balanced, but I would say I just miss the more overt fruitiness of the 1990s.
SGP: 466 - 90 points.

 

 

SPECIAL BONUS…

 

 

Something I 'tasted' last weekend and am including here at the insistence of my wonderful friends who saw fit to purchase this 'thing' from their local branch of Morrison's…

 

 

The Liquorists Bubblegum Flavour Gin Liqueur 'Small Batch' (20%, OB, -/+2022)

The Liquorists Bubblegum Flavour Gin Liqueur 'Small Batch' (20%, OB, -/+2022)
Suitable for vegans, apparently. Colour: blue - with swirling whorls. Nose: not really existent. Some suggestions of bubblegum that's been under a desk for some years, also a few sprigs of gin. Some slightly sweaty, almost crotch-like notes with associated must. Very decidedly not good. Mouth: jarringly sugary, abusively exuding awful chemicals - like some kind of malfunctioning Soviet chemical facility (level 2 of Goldeneye but as a flavour). Blue candy floss aged in a haunted doll's house made of cow dung. Like rimming a sweaty Haribo addict in a hot tent on day 2 of Glastonbury. Completely atrocious. Finish: mercifully, vanishingly absent. Rapid flavour entropy. Gains points here by virtue of absolute absence of anything. Comments: did they chew the bubblegum first?
SGP: 900 - 8 points.

 

 

Thanks to top level, whisky industry professional Euan C for the Bubblegum atrocity.

 

 

 

 

June 17, 2022


Whiskyfun

  Little Duos, today Royal Lochnagar (including the new Prima & Ultima)

Diageo's new Prima & Ultima series 2022 edition is out. As expected, the selection is a little crazy and, in fact, rather reminiscent of the first Special Releases, except that the whiskies that used to be 20 yo within those early selections are now very roughly from 30 to 40 years old or even older. Lagavulin 1993, Mannochmore 1990, Glen Ord 1987, Talisker 1984, Lochnagar 1981, Cragganmore 1973… And there is even a Port Ellen 1980, bottled to celebrate the Queen's Platinum Jubilee. Remember she visited the Distillery that year, as we noticed when we first tried that famous PE 12 yo 'Queen's Visit' that's just fetched £100,000 (gasp!) plus commission at an auction this month. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the Brora, a 1981, but we might rather try that one on Whiskyfun's 20th Birthday, in July this year. Indeed, this lousy website is getting older than most of the whiskies we taste.

Anyway, instead of rushing to the 'stars' within this new selection, and as we like to do, perhaps is it sensible to first try the, well, the smaller stars, such as the Royal Lochnagar of Balmoral. But first, a carefully selected sparring-partner (well, we had only one untasted Lochnagar in the library anyway).

Charles
A neighbour visiting Royal Lochnagar Distillery in 2018.
'... And so, would this size be a tun then?...' (picture Diageo)

 

 

Royal Lochnagar 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Royal Lochnagar 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars
An earlier version, bottled around 2016, was pretty okay in y opinion (WF 79), but I'm not sure 2019's Game of Thrones edition was not a regular 12 as well, under a fancier label (WF 80). Colour: bright straw. Nose: this feeling of soaped porridge at first, then various mashed vegetables (potatoes, turnips and celeriacs, perhaps?) and rather a lot of totally unrefined brown sugar, which would lead us to thicker brown ales, with whiffs of bitterer ales in the background. Some fir honey too, ink, old magazines, cardboard, we're almost inside an Amazon dispatch centre now (all right)…. Mouth: a rather thick texture, starting with Madeira-like flavours and mustard, green pears, a distinct musty side (very old white wine), then bitter oranges, some pepper, this little cardboardy side again, an even notes of fino sherry. Rather bittersweet, and there's a little paraffin too. Finish: medium, more on 'fino', although I'm almost sure there isn't a single drop of fino in there. Notes of burnt caramel in the aftertaste. Comments: certainly a singular distillate. It's great that they would not alter this rather dry, old-school style, maybe is it about to become fashionable again?

SGP:361 - 80 points.

Royal Lochnagar 1981/2021 (52.5%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 1,100 bottles, 2022)

Royal Lochnagar 1981/2021 (52.5%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 1,047 bottles, 2022) Four stars and a half
Nicknamed 'A Duel with the Angels', this one stemmed from a batch of casks they had been experimenting with to diminish evaporation (so the angel's share). Remember Lochnagar is Diageo's 'school Distillery', where some experiments are being done, although the main trials would be conducted in Menstrie A.F.A.I.K. They wouldn't tell today, but I remember Diageo had been experimenting with some kind of cling film, maybe was that the 'experiment' they're talking about? In any case, that experiment 'of some kind' was then stopped – I suppose it failed - but they had kept some of the whisky and transferred it to regular oak casks. I also remember well quite a few funny stories unofficially told at Lochnagar (after a bunch of drams) about The Royals at nearby Balmoral Castle and their relations with the Distillery. But shh… Colour: straw. Nose: wonderfully all-natural, pretty tight, with green fruits in abundance, limes and lemons, then rather some fudge (vanilla), pancakes and zucchini flower beignets. Chamomile tea, whiffs of an empty old tobacco jar, perhaps. Upmann jar? Also a little basil and coriander, we could almost use this in a (very expensive) pesto. With water: pretty gentle, soft, with even more cakes. Scones, muffins, pancakes… This is almost the five o'clock tea at Edinburgh's moderately dusty… Balmoral Hotel. Seriously! Mouth (neat): awesome, with first some piney notes, liquorice wood, marzipan, all from the oak I suppose, then more beeswax and overripe apples. Excellent, if perhaps less idiosyncratically (wow) Lochnagar than the 12. With water: I had feared it would have become a little drying, it has not. Fruit peel and a little cinnamon. Finish: medium, with some muscovado sugar and some earl grey tea. At The Balmoral… Orange blossom water and grape pips. The aftertaste is a little drying, while I was about to go for 90 pts. Comments: mind you, this one is 40 years old, I'm almost sure since it was bottled in December of 2021.
SGP:461 - 89 points.

Next, either Ord or Talisker, I'm hesitating, whole different ballpark…

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

 

June 16, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Trios, today Strathmill

Strathmill
We need more love for Strathmill! Because speculative brands are boring us to death. We'll first have a young one by the honourable SMWS (with a French nickname!), then two indies, one middle-aged, the other one of good age and from good old Germany our Nachbarn.  

 

 

Strathmill 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, bourbon hogshead, #100.25, 'La Pomme Qui Chante', 270 bottles)

Strathmill 13 yo 2007/2021 (58.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, bourbon hogshead, #100.25, 'La Pomme Qui Chante', 270 bottles) Four stars
Really, not too sure about that poetic nickname, a singing apple is something that we've never seen or heard, even in France. Something may have been lost in translation… Having said that, this baby was also finished in a 1st fill ex-rye hogshead. Colour: straw. Nose: barley, grist, vanilla, caramel cream, nougat and turon. No bad things – but no singing apple in sight. With water: softer, more on vanilla, pancakes, nougat indeed and butterscotch. Mouth (neat): superb fresh deep potent and pungent maltiness. I would suppose this is what you'd get, should you decide to distil Guinness (don't tell me they're already doing that!) With water: oh excellent! Pure malty and fruity combo, with a little coffee, plum jam, Ovaltine and Nescafé. Finish: long, still very malty, with tighter oranges coming out. Some kind of heavy-duty curaçao. Lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: just love it. I didn't exactly get the rye but I would suppose it did its part of the job. Never underestimate these Distilleries, it's just that no one's pouring dozens of millions of pounds into their marketing.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

Strathmill 24 yo 1990/2015 (55.8%, Chapter 7, sherry butt, cask #5224) Three stars
No picture available for this older one that I should have tried a long time ago. Colour: white wine. Nose: fully on barley and apples, gooseberries, ripe kiwis, hints of iron, old tin box, then rather cappuccino and nocino. The only thing that's better than nocino is two nocinos. With water: butter beans, white asparagus, malt extract… It would tend to lose itself a wee bit. Mouth (neat): all-natural barleyness, with apples and pears, cherries, some pepper and some nutmeg. With water: no actual changes. Finish: rather long, perhaps a tad too peppery for me. Comments: we're actually a little far from the fabtastic – yet younger - SMWS, but it still is a pretty fine dram.
SGP:451 - 80 points.

Strathmill 30 yo 1991/2021 (51.3%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead)

Strathmill 30 yo 1991/2021 (51.3%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead) Four stars
The lovely and ever-young ;-) Whisky-Doris from Germany back on Whiskyfun, let's celebrate! Colour: straw. Nose: kicks things off with a little coffee and a little rum, then some average (in the best sense of that word) maltiness, then scones, pancakes, muffins and shortbreads. With water: more pancakes, crêpes, biscuits, overripe apples and perhaps a few drops of calvados. Mouth (neat): big malt and wholegrain bread, touches of varnish, almost a little acetone, and once again a feeling of averageness (again, in the best sense of that word). With water: to the core of the barley. Spearmint, peppers, cinnamon, barley syrup, a touch of mint. Finish: rather medium, malty, a little grassier. Peppery aftertaste, a tad gritty. Comments: a totally un-doped old Speysider, close to nature and to barley. Perhaps a little intellectual, having said, but it's true that German philosophy has nothing to prove.

SGP:461 - 86 points.

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

 

June 15, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Burnside for Switzerland

Burnside is teaspooned Balvenie. Now let us remind everyone that no one's ever seen anybody wandering throughout any Scottish warehouses or filling stations carrying teaspoons, even at teatime. (Antiques And Teacups)

Teaspoon

 

 

Spoon Man 19 yo 1999/2019 (59.1%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon hogshead, cask #2129, 259 bottles)

Spoon Man 19 yo 1999/2019 (59.1%, A.D. Rattray, for Switzerland, bourbon hogshead, cask #2129, 259 bottles) Four stars and a half
Rolling on the floor and laughing out loud. Kind of. Seriously, this situation is becoming grotesque and that can't be good for brands. Spoon Man is Burnside, and Burnside is Balvenie, there. Colour: light gold. Nose: barley, mirabelles, quinces, lemonade and custard, that's very bourbon-Balvenie indeed. With water: more of all that, emphasis on custard. How very Balvenie! Mouth (neat): excellent, tart and yet fat, lemony, doughy, with perfect cakes and syrups. Eminently Balvenie, many 15s single barrels have been just like this (while those 15s were often much older than just 15). With water: elder syrup, orangeade, mirabelle liqueur, quince jelly, in short everything we like a lot in Balvenie. Finish: rather long, a tad American-oak-driven and rather a lot on mirabelles. Mirabelle jam is sitting right between Beluga caviar and white truffles from Alba in our book. Barely joking. Comments: extremely good – and all on mirabelle eau-de-vie.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

Burnside 24 yo 1992 (50.1%, C. Dully for House of Malts St. Gallen, hogshead, cask #10260, 141 bottles, +/-2017)

Burnside 24 yo 1992 (50.1%, C. Dully for House of Malts St. Gallen, hogshead, cask #10260, 141 bottles, +/-2017) Five stars
A mysterious bottle from and for neighbouring Switzerland. As we say in Alsace, hoppla! Colour: light gold. Nose: it is a rather leafy Balvenie, once again well in the style of the official single barrels (no one's ever really understood how they were labelling these whiskies), with sweet blond beers, mirabelles again and again, greengages, and both elderberry eau-de-vie and fresh hoppy beers. Our Swiss friends are very good at making eaux-de-vie, just like us Alsatians (yeah, honestly). With water: mullein and mirabelle, waldmeister… Mouth (neat): superb! Early 1970s Balvenies were like this, enough said. With water: overripe apples and yellow plums, mirabelles, quinces, meadow honey… This is just magnificent, what a spirit. Finish: medium, totally, plainly, integrally Balvenie, that is to say full of ripe plums, with orangs in the aftertaste. Comments: stunning drop, so totally close to the house style.

SGP:651 - 90 points.

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

 

June 14, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Trios, today unusual Bladnoch

First a blend by the Distillery, then a new deep-oloroso-ed official, then a new NAS bearing yet another strange name.
Burgundy's jambon persillé (Le Porc Français)

 

 

Pure Scot (40%, OB, blended Scotch, Bladnoch, +/-2021)

Pure Scot (40%, OB, blended Scotch, Bladnoch, +/-2021) Four stars
A blend first launched to celebrate the Distillery's 200th anniversary. The main dresser should be Bladnoch but there is also some Islay and some Speyside, as well as some grain whisky. Let's hope this baby is Bladnoch-driven, and not just some kind of anonymous blandola (going a bit too far once more, S.) Colour: gold. Nose: it's malty, it's cakey, it is pleasantly waxy (beeswax), it's got a little wood smoke, some earl grey tea, lillies, honeysuckle, touches of earth… Well, imagine all blends would be like this! Couldn't the industry pull this off? Mouth: huge success despite the low strength. Same flavours as on the nose, plus more citrus, perhaps from Bladnoch's malt. This is a perfect blend – you don't even feel the grain whiskies. We're not far from Johnnie Walker's Blue Label, to tell you the truth. Exactly. Finish: perfect fresh and honeyed finish, with this lovely citrusy signature in the end. Comments: surprised and impressed, I am, which wasn't the case when I tried an earlier version leisurely. Did they change the recipe? Not my business of course, but I would also do a version at +/-46% vol.

SGP:641 - 86 points.

Bladnoch 14 yo 'Oloroso Sherry Cask Matured' (46,7%, OB, 2021)

Bladnoch 14 yo 'Oloroso Sherry Cask Matured' (46,7%, OB, 2021) Four stars
This baby was born last year. According to the colour, this was not heavy/stuffy sherry. Colour: full gold. Nose: wood smoke and walnuts, both old and fresh, then roasted sesame and coffee-flavoured chocolate, which is not exactly the same thing as coffee and chocolate, mind you. Black nougat too, drop of miso, pipe tobacco from an old leather pouch (in other words, not wham-bam fresh pipe tobacco), and a growing meatiness. Ham and parsley, another winning combo and a great Burgundian specialty (jambon persillé). Mouth: walnuts, toasted cakes, tobacco, a little leather, a little pepper, certainly some nutmeg, a tiny cinnamon mint, some softer beef jerky, Nescafé (no worries), gingerbread… Once more, 46-48% vol. do make for a perfect strength. Finish: rather long, on cloves, walnuts, a little salt and, hold on, Mon Chéri! Sure I can quote brand names, I am not a professional. Comments: extremely good. Now, it's also true that I am a huge fan of olorosos (and amontillados), while this little Bladnoch made every effort to remain very close to that style of wine.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

Bladnoch 'Alinta' (47%, OB, Classic Collection, 2022)

Bladnoch 'Alinta' (47%, OB, Classic Collection, 2022) Four stars
Hold on, this one's a peater! I wouldn't want to quibble again but how and why would a peated Bladnoch belong to a 'Classic Collection'? I'm joking, all we'd still need to know about is the language in which 'alinta' means 'peat' or 'smoke'. Outer-Mongolian? Colour: straw. Nose: smoked raclette cheese at first, which is good fun, then the ammonia goes out and we're left with a grassy and fat smokiness, some yoghurt, mozzarella, compost and whiffs of horse saddle and dried tangerine skins (chen-pi). Even approaches gym-socks territory at times, but never crosses the border. Certainly not your average malt, I have to say I had never nosed anything similar. Mouth: oh fun! We're reminded of two drinks, first of the most petroly Alsatian rieslings, then simply of some naked batches of Longrow. At times you would almost believe some bacterial fermentation had taken place, willingly or unwillingly. Ashes, sausages, suet, tarragon, sage and parsley, even cress, thyme and pine, lard… Plus that magical element in any spirit, olives! Finish: medium and kind of cleaner. Notes of iron, salt, Fanta and sorrel soup. Comments: right, to be honest, I don't quite know what to think. What's sure is that I wouldn't call this Bladnoch. I think I actually love this new 'bacterial' style where flaws are assets, but I am not dead sure about that. Some thinking to be done, score just for the record…

SGP:363 - 85 points.

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

 

June 13, 2022


Whiskyfun

Another wee Scottish hotchpotch

Oh, just various rather unknown whiskies, as they come, blends, undisclosed singles, uncertain juices, residues, brand-led whiskies, question marks, whatnot. Absolutely not sure about what we'll find, but let's try to have fun. Remember WF's founding motto, 'whisky is only serious matter to people who make or sell it – or to people who drink way too much of it.'

Did the fine folks at Spheric Whisky let their new malt being finished in Seguin-Moreau's spectacular round (and revolving) oak barrel?

 

 

Blended Malt 31 yo 1988/2020 (43.1%, Spheric Spirits Germany, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 655 bottles)

Blended Malt 31 yo 1988/2020 (43.1%, Spheric Spirits Germany, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 655 bottles) Four stars and a half
What could this be? Colour: full gold. Nose: it is not easy to be sure with very small batches, but all this beeswax as well as the touches of orange blossom honey and grapefruit would suggest something way north of Inverness and south of Wick. The notes of root vegetables (celeriac, parsnip) and the wee medicinally coastal side would add to the equation; having said that it is curiously gentle as well, but that may just be the lower strength. It would be interesting that someday, someone would blend Clynelish with Glenmorangie, to create something really subtle and yet 'assertive'. Like this. After all, Diageo are big shareholders in Glenmorangie (via LVMH). Mouth: very good, with more beeswax, some soft warm oak (in summer), a touch of coconut, oriental pastries, orange blossom and rosewater, honeys… And several dried fruits. Figs, for example. Finish: not too long, but really on dried figs, beeswax, honey and dried pears. Touch of toffee and hazelnut liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: a delicacy, to sip with abandon.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

The Bad Na H-Achlaise Collection 'Cask Strength' (58.5%, Badachro Distillery, Tuscan oak, #16/29)

The Bad Na H-Achlaise Collection 'Cask Strength' (58.5%, Badachro Distillery, Tuscan oak, #16/29) Four stars
As I understand it this is blend of sourced malts done by some great folks at a wee new artisan distillery located south of Ullapool. I have to confess I had never heard of these very fine folks before. As for the name of this whisky, well, why not! Colour: golden apricot, which would lead us straight to Chianti or similar Tuscan wines. Nose: I'm not sure we're getting Sangiovese, but there is, indeed, some coastal and smoky red-wine-ness which would remind us of some official Laphroaigs of old. Such as 'Brodir'. Big notes of pink grapefruits, which is lovely 'of course'. Also bandages, embrocations, iodine… With water: mud, dunnage, rotting strawberries and blood oranges. Much nicer than it sounds. Mouth (neat): very nice for sure, with superb notes of artichokes stewed in sweet red wine. Sounds odd I know, but it is glorious. With water: gets creamier, perfectly balanced, with some fine smoke, Szechuan pepper and more pink grapefruits and blood oranges. Bingo every time, that. A wee syrupy side. Finish: rather long, and most probably better than any other medium-peater that had been finished in red wine, in my opinion. But don't ask me to write or tell the name. Comments: excellent, but hasn't the cat jumped onto the keyboard while they were typing the name? It is not Laphroaig, as it is a 'Highland Single Malt', but it was close.

SGP: 653 – 87 points.

Equilibrium #2 16 yo 2005/2022 (55%, WhiskySponge, single malt, second fill sherry hogsheads)

Equilibrium #2 16 yo 2005/2022 (55%, WhiskySponge, single malt, second fill sherry hogsheads) Four stars and a half
'A balance of sherry and peat', it says. Actually, this is a blend of Edradour and Ballechin, so indeed a single malt, or a self-blended malt if you wish. We're expecting a Springbank + Longrow anytime soon. Colour: gold. Nose: the Sponge is a great friend; good, that's sorted. I believe the folks at Edradour are superb human beings too, I needed adding. So, all disclosures having been done, let us proceed. Pipe tobacco, old copper kettle, dried jujubes, soot, fresh concrete, brake fluid, used gearbox oil (not the same as engine oil at all!) and this wee acetic side that would remind us of that other distillery that we've just mentioned before. With water: typical mutton and smoked sausage, plus dark honeys, cognac and strong herbal liqueurs. Say Zwack Unicum. Mouth (neat): relatively smooth and rounded at first, then bursting with chestnut purée, salted chocolate, black toffee and various peppers, as well as clove. Plays with your lips at his strength. With water: chocolate and honey, there. Finish: long, with more citrus, and always this sooty/oily side that's so pleasantly dirty. 'Ish'. Comments: a bit raw here and there, but we weren't expecting Blair Athol mind you. Great fat drop, well 'less fat, but still fat'.
SGP:463 - 89 points.

John Walker & Son 'Celebratory Blend' (51%, OB, Johnnie Walker Bicentenary, blend, 2020)

John Walker & Son 'Celebratory Blend' (51%, OB, Johnnie Walker Bicentenary, blend, 2020) Four stars
Some kind of replica of the early John (johnnie) Walker, especially of the famous 'white label', a.k.a. 'Old Highland Whisky', possibly a blend that used to shelter, err, no grain whatsoever. Not sure, have to check, anyway, let's try this one… Colour: light gold. Nose: but yes! Oils and doughs and soots and smokes and fruit peel and wee metallic bits. This is well 'ancient' whisky, which means that they had kept the moulds and recipes and could reproduce this style just anytime. No? With water: raw malted barley in majesty. Mouth (neat): no obvious grain in the way, hurray! Rather citrus, cassata, panettone, sesame oil, sea salt, pastry dough… With water: it became even fatter, and certainly extremely good. Stunning citrus on doughs and oils and sultanas. Finish: long, peppery, agreeably smoky, with a wee meaty side in the aftertaste. Comments: very impressed, one of my favourite Johnnie Walkers, as good, in my book, as the Blue Label. But in France, you could find this 'wee White' at… 40€. Let's count the change in our pockets…  
SGP:552 - 86 points.

Conspirator Malt 13 yo (46.7%, Klaus Pinkernell, blended malt, 161 bottles, +/-2021)

Conspirator Malt 13 yo (46.7%, Klaus Pinkernell, blended malt, 161 bottles, +/-2021) Four stars
A very 'Covid-era' bottling. Hope we're done with it, but I like this quote (translated loosely from Hochdeutsch): 'whisky is a fantastic mean to fight any conspiracy theories'. Colour: coffee. Nose: but yess! Chestnut liqueurs, chocolate liqueurs, coffee liqueurs, prunes in armagnac, then Maggi and date wine, marmalade, arrack, corn syrup… Feels really thick, but you never know… Mouth: whacky and loco. Old oloroso, Jerez vinegar, chocolate liqueur and Mozart Kugeln, onion soup, pipe juice, walnut liqueur of course, plus a few drops of old Demerara rum. Finish: long, thick, heavy. I'm sure they've added armagnac and English gravy to the cask, but shh, that would be another conspiracy theory… Comments: great fun and great drop, maybe just not the epitome of balance. Extra points for the huge fun.
SGP:661 - 85 points.

Blended Scotch Whisky 7 yo 2014/2021 (47.5%, Fadandel, refill sherry butt, cask #7, 236 bottles)

Blended Scotch Whisky 7 yo 2014/2021 (47.5%, Fadandel, refill sherry butt, cask #7, 236 bottles) Three stars and a half
This from our friends in Denmark. Let's be clear, no one will ever do a blend with only 236 bottles. So, in theory, this is not a blend, unless large parts of the vatting have gone elsewhere. Complaints and quibblings on a postcard. Colour: white wine. Nose: rather light, with citrusy tones, brioches, jellybeans and lemonade. Very hard to pin down this far. With water (not that water is needed): dough, that's intriguing. It got maltier when further reduced. Mouth (neat): interesting blend, with some grain that you do feel, and yet no simple varnish or bubblegum, rather pears, cappuccino and Nutella. So, perhaps malt, plus grain, plus smartness. With water: indeed, looks like the malts have gone for blood here. Adios, grains! Finish: medium to short, this time on light coffee and orangeade. The grain speaking out. Comments: if it is really a blend, it is a super-blend.
SGP:641 - 84 points.

Secret Highland Single Malt 37 yo 1985/2022 (43.2%, Oxhead Whisky Company, Dram Addicts, sherry hogshead, cask #1018, 233 bottles)

Secret Highland Single Malt 37 yo 1985/2022 (43.2%, Oxhead Whisky Company, Dram Addicts, sherry hogshead, cask #1018, 233 bottles) Five stars
Long neck and nobility of bearing, this could well be… A distillery in the Highlands that's got tall stills with long necks. Colour: gold with bronze hues. Nose: lovely oily touches, olive, sesame, sunflower, then flower jellies, dandelions, orange cake, custard, certainly some blond tobacco (old Camels – remember all doctors used to smoke Camels – dear America!) Would keep going on with some nougats of all kinds, peach wine, and even a wee glass of sweet chenin blanc. A great Chaume, for example. Mouth: sure the wood's about to take over, but these ripe mirabelles, bergamots, buttery pears and apples, quinces and, yes, wines of Chaume are still holding their position with panache and glory. In fact, it is not oaky at all. Lovely notes of linden tea. Finish: medium, with some wood oils for sure, but also awesome apple pies and honey ice cream. Honey ice cream is just another sin. Comments: all delicacy and élan (what?) What would be the price of this in a proper hand-cut crystal decanter with its real name engraved in 24k gold letters? (plus white gloves, a certificate of some sort and a link to a bespoke video).

SGP:641 - 90 points.
 

June 12, 2022


Whiskyfun

A short flight over Bas-armagnac, with hugs to all houses

Very sadly, Armagnac's vineyards have been hit by heavy storms and a lot of grail only a few days ago, with some vines almost destroyed, especially in some parts of the Gers and the Landes. Around 5,000 hectares have been heavily struck, with hailstones the sizes of golf balls!

Hail

These notes are for the Armagnacaises and Armagnacais, their immense courage and their incredible resilience. There's a heavy price to pay when you cannot, by law, source your raw ingredients from another region or from just anywhere else in the whole goddam world. See what I mean? (photograph armagnacnews.com)

 

 

Domaine Clotte de Manon 14 yo 2007/2021 (46.5%, Darroze, Collection Unique, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine Clotte de Manon 14 yo 2007/2021 (46.5%, Darroze, Collection Unique, Bas-Armagnac) Four stars
Darroze are bringing many small estates to the market, working as perfect 'negociants-éleveurs'. I believe I've never tried Clotte de Manon, having said that, while Darroze's website is mute about them. Colour: deep gold. Nose: awesomely rustic, with touches of balsamico and varnish at first (all good), then a little toasted oak, chocolate and black tea, mint tea, then prunes and many orangey things, marmalades, some kind of chutney, pickled kumquats, then big black very dry raisins (Corinthians)… Mouth: same lovely rusticity, same balsamic vinegar and varnish at first, marmalade, dry raisins, 'old' prunes, armagnac (I know, feels like a tautological description but I know what I'm trying to say), old rancio and very old sweet Sauternes – or else - that went dry and toasted oak plus bitter chocolate. Finish: long, more on strong black tea and heavy-fermented tobacco. Comments: you're just there with this rural, almost bucolic young one. This starts well.
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Lous Pibous 2002 (57.4%, L'Encantada, For the USA, 10th Anniversary, Bas-armagnac, +/-2021)

Lous Pibous 2002 (57.4%, L'Encantada, For the USA, 10th Anniversary, Bas-armagnac, +/-2021) Four stars
No literature needed here. Comes with a different label than the usual orange one that always makes me think of Johan Cruyff and Johnny Rep. Colour: amber. Nose: punchy drop, still young, so still with its consubstantial varnish, a touch of Bulldog sauce, sweet gravy, molasses and heavier honeys, quince paste, honey-glazed ham… With water: sweet bread (yes) and lighter fruit cake, with apricots, citrus and pears. First appearance of quinces in this one. Mouth (neat): fights you right from the start, with a little spicy oak and concentrated miso, as well as rather a lot of pepper. A little unbalanced, but we know water will put things right. That's one of the advantages of whisky, it stands very high strengths better than 'brandies' do, in my humble opinion. With water: not that easy to handle, even with the most technologically-advanced pipette. Right, right. Spicy oranges, a little ginger, that miso, bitter herbal teas… Finish: long, pretty resinous at this point. Marmalade and coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: so, the proceedings. You buy a bottle, you spoil a good half trying to come up with the best proportions with water and your pipette, you do not forget to write it down once you've found it, and you may now enjoy the other half of your bottle. Naturally, you could as well buy several bottles. Anyway, very good, as expected.

SGP:561 - 85 points.

Château de Laubade 1985/2020 'Brut de Fût' (48.4%, OB, Bas-armagnac, bonbonne #89061)

Château de Laubade 1985/2020 'Brut de Fût' (48.4%, OB, Bas-armagnac, bonbonne #89061) Three stars and a half
Boy does this little series by Laubade rock! They're cask strength, but they're reasonably cask strength. This is ex-demijohn, so it was already out of the wood when it was bottled, most certainly for good reasons. Imagine they would have done this at Stromness, Malt Mill or Old Clynelish! Colour: reddish amber. Nose: indeed, you do feel some spicy cellulose at first, but various honeys and jams are extremely quick to arrive, especially heather and apricots. Also this feeling of opening an old soft-pack of untipped Camels, or Craven A. In the background, marrow bouillon and even a little garlic butter. Mouth: rather dry, on ground coffee and cocoa powder at first, then tobacco, chen-pi and the blackest black tea. Peppered brownies, should anyone ever bake that. Inadvertently, perhaps? Finish: rather long but really rather dry. Old oak in the aftertaste. Comments: feels like an old-school Ténarèze, I would humbly add. Indeed, I've seen this was not a Ténarèze. Absolutely excellent, but I think I liked all the other Bruts de Fût I could already try either rather, or much better.

SGP:461 - 83 points.

Speaking of old school…

Dupeyron 1967 (40%, OB, armagnac, +/-2020)

Dupeyron 1967 (40%, OB, armagnac, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
1967? Let's see if this will be an armagnac of love. Approx. 150€ for an armagnac that was distilled while Jimi Hendrix was composing The Wind Cries Mary, how does that sound? Oh and never underestimate those vintage armagnacs that are primarily sold as birthday presents, we've already tried some glorious ones. Colour: gold. Nose: old school indeed, that is to say rather dry, on tobacco and coffee indeed, tea as well, but in this very case I'm also finding patchouli and bidis (1967 indeed). Indeed, indeed. Rather stewed apples and pears at the fruit section, plus fermenting plums, or plum wine, Korean style. Mouth: yes, it's good, certainly more vinous than the others (old pinot noir, old barrel), but with also more Seville oranges, marmalade, fresh walnuts, oloroso-like notes, a small mustiness… Finish: not very long but balanced, soft, vinous, with prunes. Prunes in armagnac (more tautological descriptions, I'm afraid). Comments: not much oomph here but frankly, it's a good old winey drop, a style that's becoming really out of fashion these days.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Baron de Lustrac 40 yo (49.9%, OB, for Wine4You, Bas-armagnac, 4000 bottles, +/-2021)

Baron de Lustrac 40 yo (49.9%, OB, for Wine4You, Bas-armagnac, 4000 bottles, +/-2021) Five stars
This one was sourced from Domaine de Mandillet in the Gers, just south-east of Eauze. Age-stated armagnacs remain quite uncommon to these days. I believe the price was pornographically low when this baby came out, last year. I think it was last year. Colour: bronze amber. Nose: I'm finding a lot of chestnuts, glazed, puréed, roasted, as liqueur… Also honeydew, fir, also pipe tobacco, bouillons, our beloved marrow, onion soup, even some malt extracts, Marmite, brown sauce… I would say you could pour this over some very-deluxe burgers. Why not call that an Arma-Mac? (that's not diving to new lows, S., that's speleology). Mouth: yes. Old school again, meaty, tobacco-y, earthy, very bouillony and even salty, with rather a lot of old wood, old wines, cured hams, peppers, also calvados, cider, liquorice wood, celeriac… And even gentian. Finish: long. Old pu-her tea, chewing cigars, snuff, salty bouillons and broths… Comments: loved the earthiness in this one. The old-woodiness is also an obvious asset here. Well if you hate old oak, this may not be for you &n