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

Serge whiskyfun

 

Tasting notes:
Whiskies 13,231
Other spirits 1,427
Guests 157

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (43) - Aberlour (101)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (29)
An Cnoc (27)
Ardbeg (37
4) - Ardmore (74)
Arran (
98) - Auchentoshan (96)
Auchroisk (33) - Aultmore (50)

Balblair (76) - Balmenach (37)
Balvenie (9
6) - Banff (49)
Ben Nevis (106)
Ben Wyvis (2)
Benriach (160) - Benrinnes (46)
Benromach (59) - Bladnoch (68)
Blair Athol (
70) - Bowmore (443)
Braes of Glenlivet (3
8)
Brora (122)
Bruichladdich (257)
Bunnahabhain (291)

Caol Ila (504)
Caperdonich (89)
Cardhu (33) - Clynelish (3
30)
Coleburn (15)
Convalmore (2
5)
Cragganmore (71)
Craigduff (3) - Craigellachie (
64)
Dailuaine (52) - Dallas Dhu (35)
Dalmore (108) - Dalwhinnie (24)
Deanston (30) - Dufftown (48)

Edradour (60)
Imperial (66) - Inchgower (52)
Inverleven (20)
Isle of Jura (98)

Kilchoman (31)
Kilkerran (12) - Kinclaith (7)
Kininvie (4)
- Knockando (35)

- Lagavulin (131)
Laphroaig (393) - Ledaig (9
6)
Linkwood (125) - Littlemill (109)
Loch Lomond (44)
Lochside (65)
Longmorn (195) - Longrow (66)

Macallan (277) - Macduff (63)
Mannochmore (37)
Millburn (21)
Miltonduff (64) - Mortlach (166)
Mosstowie (19)

Oban (25) - Octomore (19)
Old Fettercairn (29)
Old Pulteney (71)

Scapa (38) - Speyburn (35) - Speyside (17)
Springbank (27
5)
St-Magdalene (46)
Strathisla (9
8) - Strathmill (30)
 
 
Pete and Jack



2017
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

 
Malt maniacs goodies
 

Othe whisky stuff
 

Brora

The Magical History
of the Great
Brora Distillery
1969 - 1983

   


 

Ye Auld Pages
that used to be here

   

 

 



Disclaimer
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin,
2002-201
7

 


Scotch Legal Announcement

 
 

December 11, 2017


Whiskyfun

More of those killing old Speysiders

There’s more of them, especially some 1973s. I doubt we’ll need any numbers beneath 90 today… But first, a younger apéritif…

Breath of Speyside 10 yo 2006/2017 (58.5%, Adelphi, 536 bottles)

Breath of Speyside 10 yo 2006/2017 (58.5%, Adelphi, 536 bottles) Four stars Adelphi have had some marvellous malts in this series… Colour: gold. Nose: yep! Fresh apricots, then chocolate, raisins, treacle toffee, Guinness, walnut cake, tobacco, malt extract, a bit of Spanish ham… All is fine here. With water: marmalade and ham, then smoked figs. Walnut wine. Mouth (neat): excellent. Marmalade, raisins, marzipan, walnut cake, malt, molasses, kougelhopf… Why need more? With water: raisins, earl grey, bergamots, a wee grassy side. Finish: long, round, fruity. Raisins and marmalade. Comments: no flaws whatsoever here, this is a very fine Christmassy Speysider. SGP:551 - 87 points.

So, the older ones…

Speyside 37 yo 1977/2015 (46.8%, The Whisky Agency for Art Taiwan and Club Qing World Bar Tour, sherry, 228 bottles)

Speyside 37 yo 1977/2015 (46.8%, The Whisky Agency for Art Taiwan and Club Qing World Bar Tour, sherry, 228 bottles) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: yeah yeah yeah. Figs, dates, honey, nectar, maple syrup, dried bananas, pollen, sultanas, vanilla fudge, crystallised mandarins, caramelised peanuts, pecan pie, butterscotch… Well, all that sexy jazz. Not much to add, this is unstoppable. Mouth: a wee grittiness (tea tannins) in the arrival, but a perfect development on old Sauternes, apricot jam, quince jelly, honeys, sultanas, candied kumquats (when the Dutch leaves us enough), orange cake, late harvest Pinot Gris, and even yes, hints of botrytis. Indeed the mind sometimes works in strange manners. Finish: medium, perfect, jammy, honeyed, cake-y. Nothing to add. Comments: only the 1973s could be even better in my book. Fantastic. SGP:661 - 91 points.

Speaking of the 1973s…

Speyside 44 yo 1973/2017 (48.8%, Maltbarn for Shinanoya, Japan, sherry, 249 bottles)

Speyside 44 yo 1973/2017 (48.8%, Maltbarn for Shinanoya, Japan, sherry, 249 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: it’s this lightness that is fantastic, as I find it quite feminine (hope no one will call me a sexist). Superlative honeys and wee fruits, bergamots, figs, roasted peanuts, cashews, pollen… Then tiny herbs, mint leaves, lemongrass, lemon balm… This is just so utterly perfect! Mouth: amazing, and as Mouton used to say before they became a 1st Cru, second to none. Indeed, a wine-whisky, in the same league as Yquem, the best liqueury Austrians, or the best late harvest/ selection de grains nobles Alsatians. Yep, the ones we make here. Love this relative lightness. Finish: medium, superb. High-end raisins, apricots, a muscaty touch, and the best small figs in the world. Probably Turkish. Comments: as I wrote last time, hope there’s more of these. Not that I may not write that again next time, mind you. SGP:651 - 92 points.

Speyside 44 yo 1973/2017 (50.5%, Maltbarn for Double Whisky, Ukraine, sherry, 298 bottles)

Speyside 44 yo 1973/2017 (50.5%, Maltbarn for Double Whisky, Ukraine, sherry, 298 bottles) Five stars Double whisky? That’s in true Ukrainian fashion! Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s shier, more reserved at first nosing, but after just ten seconds, you’re finding pretty much the same superb beehive-y aromas, perhaps with a little more flowers, dandelions, nectar… But other than that, we’ve got the seam superb development, on honeys, dried fruits, sultanas, and roasted nuts. Nice hints of copper/old coins in the background, but that totally anecdotal. With water: old sweet wine! I’m thinking Loire this time. Layon… Mouth (neat): a wee tad rougher, perhaps a little wine-y, but totally perfect, on jams and honeys. Pecan pie, Banyuls, lighter fudge, oranges… With water: this is almost mead now. The finest mead ever. Finish: medium, honeyed, with sultanas, apricots… Comments: quite glorious, as expected. Bud’mo! SGP:661 - 91 points.

… Which reminds me that we’ll soon have to do a large Glenfarclas session. Stay tuned…

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

 

 

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December 10, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Angus’s Asia Tasting Diary: Part 1b
And now, finally after many years of waiting, to the Auld Alliance in Singapore for a few days (not that I spent the entire time in the bar mind you)...

 

Isle of Jura 1966/2000 (43%, Mackillop’s Choice, cask #1870) Isle of Jura 1966/2000 (43%, Mackillop’s Choice, cask #1870) Colour: Gold. Nose: An enthralling and rather beguiling mix of extremely luscious green fruits mixed with diesel oil and seawater. The kind of rather specific profile which seems almost unique to these 1960s Juras. I get wax, citrons, some salted butter, a few milk bottle sweets and a handful of smoked grains. There’s even a very faint and rather earthy peatiness emerging after a wee while. Superb elegance. Mouth: The fruits hit first. Green and tropical ones with mango, guava, star fruit, some green apples, kiwi and a little lime zest. There are minerals and flints here too; these wet rock and beach pebble qualities are quite ubiquitous. Some gentle notes of olive oil, a little brine and a drying, slightly sooty quality as well. Resurgent fruity notes of kumquat (seriously), a little crushed nettle and some rubbed mint leaf. The complexity is impressive. Finish: Long, oily and moving slightly towards farmyard and drier qualities. Some savoury notes of black olive and dried herbs. A lingering fruitiness that’s wonderfully pleasurable. Comments: These 60s Juras really had something quite special and unique going on. Unique and rather wonderful whisky. SGP: 642 - 92 points.  

 

Springbank 25 yo 1954/1979 (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy, Mario Rossi import) Springbank 25 yo 1954/1979 (80 proof, Cadenhead Dumpy, Mario Rossi import) Colour: White wine. Nose: Immediately brings to mind the OB 21 yo pear shape I tasted the previous week. However, in place of uber herbal qualities this one is rather more pure, chiselled and coastal. There are also these wee, oh so Cadenhead dumpy, metallic touches. Shoe polish, various medical tinctures and ointments, some green peppercorns in brine and also cereal touches and an old hay loft or two. Becomes increasingly gravelly and mineral. Lots of soot, coal scuttles, green apple peelings, dunnage and notes of ink and old newspaper. With time a few more citrus and green fruit notes start converging. Mouth: Spectacular waxiness and minerality. Olive oil, coal smoke, some aged herbal liqueur, lanolin, malt extract and barley sugar. Lime juice, agave and more undulating waxiness. Spectacular and totally beautiful in its poise and fragility. Finish: A love letter to wax, farmyard, seashore complexity and a dusting of white stone fruits. A slug of old medicine echoes in the distance. Comments: Spectacular old Springbank. The kind of uber pure, old school distillate driven malt that just gives me chills. Interestingly Serge scored a different bottle 88 in 2014. I wonder how much bottle variance starts to exist in these old Dumpies after close to 40 years now? Or simply a case of palate divergence? If anyone wants to open another bottle I will gladly taste it in the interests of science... SGP: 463 - 92 points.  

 

Dufftown 40 yo (45.3%, OB, early 1970s, Italian import) Dufftown 40 yo (45.3%, OB, early 1970s, Italian import) Some 1930s Dufftown? Don’t mind if I do... Colour: Deep gold. Nose: Emphatic, oily, waxy and fragrant with ripe, assorted fruits, some heathery, coal smoke notes and a subtle lick of antiseptic. Greengages, some fruit compotes and a clove studded orange ready for mulling. There are also these farmy notes of horse stable and some old toolboxes. Some tangerine liqueur, lemon wax and then some little tertiary notes of paint, eucalyptus resin and various dried herbs. Mouth: Quite drying with a big wood spice element. But also some phenolics, a little dusty old peat and lots of earthy and mushroomy notes. Metal polish, some sheep’s wool, a good glug of very old Sauternes, some quince paste, very old medicine and more, almost liqueur like, waxiness. There is some green fruitiness that remains fresh by the skin of its teeth but globally this is about waxes, earthiness, dryness and long aged peat characteristics. Some coal smoke and horse sweat towards the finish. Finish: Good length, not uberlong, but satisfying and with a little surprising barley sweetness and more drying earthy, wood spiciness. Comments: Fascinating, occasionally fragile, always beautiful. An amazing and historic old bottling that was ahead of its time in terms of age and strength. There is fragility to it at times but it remains undaunted and defiant in the end - the David Attenborough of malts. SGP: 463 - 90 points.  

 

Laphroaig 12 yo (80 proof, Cadenhead tall bottle, early 1970s) Laphroaig 12 yo (80 proof, Cadenhead tall bottle, early 1970s) There are numerous batches of this legendary bottling starting in the mid-1960s through to early 1970s. So this should be one of the latter releases under this label. Colour: Amber. Nose: It’s a gentle and very coastal and salty one. I remember a paler bottling that was far more classically tropical and fruity. This one is more nervous and resinously peaty with, wood ash, seashore, dried seaweed, minerals, smoked sea salt, iodine and various camphor, hessian and dunnage notes. Various medical tinctures, mercurochrome and TCP. Globally it’s very gentle and elegant though. Some burnt toffee, a few wet leaves and  a little olive oil. Some tar liqueur and ripe orange zest with a few more delicate notes of coal smoke, fermenting hay and sheep fank. Delicacy is the name of the game here. Mouth: The power goes up a notch here. An oily, uber dry and emphatic peatiness envelops the palate. A big farmyard fug also arrives. The seashore aspects are pushed to the background and the medicinal qualities come across as thick and drying. Black olives, rosemary, umami paste, a little blood orange as well. Finish: Some preserved lemons, medicine, soot, ash. Not the longest finish sadly. Comments: quite fascinating and undeniably excellent but overall a little disappointing given that other batches can easily be 96 point material. I had it at around 90-91 but the finish knocked it down by a point or so in my book. Still an emotional and wonderful old bottle to try. SGP: 366 - 89 points.  

 

Ardbeg NAS / 10 yo (80 proof, OB, early 1970s) Ardbeg NAS / 10 yo (80 proof, OB, early 1970s) A contentious label that there are many, many fakes of. This one, however, should be genuine as it is the gloss paper (rather than the matt which is usually a giveaway of the many duds) and the ageing to the label and capsule are all consistent. I should also say we are unsure if it is a 10yo or NAS as the bottle looks as though it may have lost a collar label at some point which should have been the age statement. However, it’s also possible it is just NAS. Either way... Colour: Light gold. Nose: A initially punchy nose full of bandages, elastoplasts, ointment and a little tar and rope. Some seawater, gravel, smoked sea salt, brine and kelp. A real elegant mixture of medicine and coastal aspects. The peat is typically rather earthy, dirty and organic. A tad simplistic but totally marvellous. Mouth: a bulldozer! Licking the inside of a kiln flue. A huge fug of earthy, blue peat smoke. Then smoked oysters, dried seaweed, boiler shed, motor oil, tar, rope, kreel net and some cow stable and dung (don’t eat a lot of dung I should add). The medicine is drying and tertiary with these notes of iodine and TCP.  Some sheep wool, wet rocks and gravel. Some very delicate notes of mint and jasmine. Finish: Long and again very dry, earthy and full of fragrant peat smoke, herbs, some medicine, some minerals and a deep, bass like wood smokiness. Comments: Probably one of the very few genuine examples of this label. And what a stunner it is too! SGP: 267 - 93 points.  

 

Ardbeg 10 yo (43%, OB, late 1970s, Genova import) Ardbeg 10 yo (43%, OB, late 1970s, Genova import) Colour: White wine. Nose: It’s remarkable how much difference there was between the 1960s and 1970s at Ardbeg, a difference that’s only more pronounced at younger ages between these two OBs. This one is far more tarry, oily, and full this emphatic, syrupy 1970s style Ardbeg peatiness. Lots of medical tinctures, iodine, beach sand, wet pebbles, some gentian and loads of tarry rope. Mouth: Simmering peat oils, coal, tar, soot, wax, some aged mead, a tough of minerals, some antiseptic, ash, struck flints and a very precise and complex array of medicines. Some meaty note as well, a little smoked fish and a big vat of brine. Finish: Long, hugely medicinal and full on, grizzly peat embers. Comments: Straightforward, classic and hugely pleasurable. Nowhere near as complex as the white label version which was powerful and muscular but more subtle. Whereas this is far more cocky, uncouth and full of bluster and raw power. Both are terrific but maybe this one is just a notch less due to being more simplistic. SGP: 357 - 92 points.  

 

Springbank 10 yo (59%, OB, sherry, late 1970s, Sutti import) Springbank 10 yo (59%, OB, sherry, late 1970s, Sutti import) Colour: rosewood. Nose: All manner of precious hardwoods, waxes, spices, dark chocolate, dark and crystallised fruits. Graphite, wet earth, moss, soot, wood embers, black pepper, black olives, a few ripe cherries, wild strawberries and the most delicate note of ointment underneath it all. We are accelerating towards anti-maltoporn brigade territory with pant-flambeing speed! Gets increasingly tropical and obscenely luscious with these notes of banana, guava and pineapple. But there’s also farmyard, motor oil, tool sheds and cough medicine as well. An epic poem of a whisky! With water: Pure olfactory harmony. A ballet of fresh and dried fruits, waxes, leather, hessian, wood spice, farmyard and this tertiary sherry character which sits in the background conducting and holding everything together with breathtaking precision. A masterpiece! Mouth: As my friend Jonny often says when tasting epic whiskies: ‘shit the bed!’. A cavalcade of resins, waxes, ointments, dried fruits, barley sugar, precious teas, aged cigars. Obscene, unabashed, maltoporn central I’m afraid. With water: now we can add myriad herbal notes, aged bitters, a lick of gentian, coal dust, mushroom powder and rancio. Just perfection! Finish: and... goodnight! Comments: undeniably a masterpiece. The kind of whisky that leaves you dumbstruck. Perfection of world class distillate married to the greatest of sherry casks and captured at a perfect age. SGP: 652 - 95 points.  

 

Rosebank 37 yo 1966/2003 (48.6%, Douglas Laing Old & Rare for Japan Import Systems, 122 bottles) Rosebank 37 yo 1966/2003 (48.6%, Douglas Laing Old & Rare for Japan Import Systems, 122 bottles) A hyper rare bottling for Japan. Colour: Deep gold. Nose: Quite astonishing, you might think this was a much older bottling at first nosing, in the sense you have almost this OBE character of metal polish and dusty waxiness. However, this is confounded by most syrupy and concentrated soft fruitiness. Spiced plums, dates, fig paste, quince, baked pears in cognac, mead and mentholated notes of tea tree oil, eucalyptus resin and mint tea. Becomes increasingly camphory with these dunnage notes and very light tarry aspects. Blind I’d never have picked Rosebank in a year of Mondays. Some superbly nervous notes of wood spice, a little tamarind and eventually some rosewater and notes of aged, dry Gewurztraminer. Mouth: Huge and emphatic and almost medicinal with these notes of camphor, cod liver oil, medicine, lanolin and cough syrup. Some throat lozenges, green fruits, apple, gooseberry and lychee. A moist lemon sponge cake and many kind of waxiness, notably beeswax and furniture polish. More of these spicy qualities as well. Drying, big, complex and beautiful! Finish: Long, leathery and fragrant with notes of earl grey, jasmine, bergamot and chamomile. More spice and quince paste in the tail end of the finish. Comments: a totally delicious, moreish and splendid old Rosebank. The kind of dram that seems to evaporate from your glass. SGP: 452 - 92 points.  

 

Laphroaig 18 yo 1966/1985 (54%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 250 bottles) Laphroaig 18 yo 1966/1985 (54%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 250 bottles) Colour: Gold. Nose: A schizophrenic Laphroaig. Immediately beastly with these dirty peat notes but also straining towards refinement with an undercurrent of tropical fruit, seawater and in the middle a wee ocean of complexity with camphor, cough medicine, iodine, smoked salt, resins, fruit syrups and warm kiln peat smoke. Some tangerine peel, blood orange, cinnamon bark, diesel fumes, boiler shed and a whiff of tar liqueur. Some mineral edges as well: wet pebbles and sheep’s wool and such like. With water: tropical, nervous, saline, smouldering peat smoke, citrus, green fruits, melon, papaya. Maltoporn brigade please! Mouth: A majestic delivery. Singing and syrupy tropical fruits wrapped up in smoked pancetta and gloopy peat oils. Pine resin, tar, mercurochrome, iodine droplets, caraway and smouldering hay. Some kippers, brine and shellfish all appear as well. With water: as on the nose this just becomes the most gloriously peated concoction of fruit juices, smoked fish and seawater. There’s farmyard, medicine, a lick of wax; everything! Finish: Superbly long but becomes beautifully and unexpectedly fragrant with herbs, chamomile, lapsang souchong and some final echoes of iodine. Stupendous! Comments: When Laphroaig was at its best, in my opinion, it was utterly world class, totally idiosyncratic juice. This is a perfect example of that style and quality. SGP: 657 - 94 points.  

 

Caol Ila 21 yo 1968/1989 (58.5%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 297 bottles) Caol Ila 21 yo 1968/1989 (58.5%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 297 bottles) Colour: Gold. Nose: A monolith of dry peat smoke, medicine, earthy phenolics, wild mushrooms, mint and dunnage floors. A world apart from the house style of Caol Ila that came after the rebuild in 1974. This is far fatter, dirtier, oilier and more grizzled. There is this kind of fishy coastal character, creel nets, black pepper, brine, floor cleaner, herbal toothpaste, a Manzanilla style saltiness, drying seaweed and a huge whiff of camphor and paraffin. With water: a tad greener; a little more tropical; a touch sweeter and more barleyish. Although there is still this pervasive, slightly dirty and muscular fishiness, in a very good way. Mouth: A bit of a monster. So distinct from the other Islays at the time. This is powerfully spicy peat, with an almost acrid medicinal side. Hay lofts, cow sheds, coal scuttles tool boxes, white fish, peppered mackerel, green fruits, gravel, mineral oil, toasted cereals, smoked butter, anchovies, grilled scallops and sardines in olive oil. The list goes on. A monumental whisky! With water: almost peatier with water. Certainly earthier and more full of citrus fruits and rinds, olive oil, coal hearths, more black olives, tar and a more organic, pure farmyard aspect. Finish: Endless. A bruising gallop through peats, smokes, fruits, waxes and medicines. Comments: Another confounding masterpiece selection by Intertrade. The character of these magnificent 1960s Caol Ilas is so distinct from the later, although not necessarily lesser, examples is so great that I wonder if we shouldn’t think of the old distillery as a more of a closed distillery. Like the Laphroaig 66 this is really an extinct style of Islay whisky. SGP: 467 - 94 points.  

 

Ardbeg 29 yo 1967/1996 (52.0%, Kingsbury, sherry, cask 923) Ardbeg 29 yo 1967/1996 (52.0%, Kingsbury, sherry, cask 923) This one doesn’t really need an introduction does it...? Colour: Dark bronze. Nose: One of the most beautiful marriages of perfect sherry and perfect peat. The kind of aroma that brings to mind root beer syrup, cola cubes, earthen floors and the cleanest of smoke, marzipan, a fatty, saline cured ham and a few smoked, crushed almonds. An ancient, salty, almost crusty palo cortado aroma with further notes of bacon, rancio, ancient balsamic, hessian, damp sack cloth and black olives in brine. With water: becomes almost bruisingly medical and phenolic. Deep, earthy, emphatic and kind of eternal. A rabbit hole of a whisky down which you’ll willingly wander and never emerge. Mouth: A.S.T.O.N.I.S.H.I.N.G! This is pure, peated motor oil. Hessian, minerals, the most dense, syrupy and fat kind of peat and sherry combination. Meaty, farmy, darkly fruited, citrus rind, old herbs de Provence, prunes, plum sauce, wood and mulling spices, turmeric, black peppers, sarsaparilla. Did I mention astonishing? With water: soy sauce, treacle, tar, hessian... everything really. We’re kind of long past the anti-maltoporn brigade point here, besides, I don’t think they have a branch in Singapore. There are tannins too, the wood isn’t light, it’s just held in this kind of perfect, ephemeral balance with the mindboggling Ardbeg distillate. Finish: Endless and heartbreakingly superb. Like listening to Maggot Brain while suitably baked with your best friend. Comments: It’s a whisky with a reputation for a reason. And that reason is utterly deserved in my book. SGP: 467 - 96 points.  

 

Ardbeg 28 yo 1967/1995 (53.2%, Signatory Vintage, sherry butt, cask 574, 488 bottles) Ardbeg 28 yo 1967/1995 (53.2%, Signatory Vintage, sherry butt, cask 574, 488 bottles) Colour: Ruby. Nose: We are in very similar territories: cherry cola cubes, flat root beer, medicine balls, olive oil, motor oil, hardwood shavings, black pepper, a tiny glimmer of green fruit, dried cranberries and then soy and plum sauce with some five spice. A little bitter chocolate, dried sage and rosemary, then strawberry liqueur. Again we’re flying extremely high. With water: more notes of fresh cherries, along with the maraschino variety and a few drops of cocktail bitters, brown sugar and blood orange. Marzipan morphing into Battenberg cake. Mouth: This one is slightly more tannic and peppery than the Kingsbury. Not quite in the same league but this is still a majestic mix of dried herbs, earthy peat, oily phenolics, farmyard and chocolate. Cherry brandy, smoked candyfloss (if such a thing exists), medicine, coal dust, oyster sauce and peat resins. Again this almost crusted saltiness and deep, emphatic, ancient sherry character. With water: some green pepper, sandalwood, coal smoke, ointment, tea tree oil and a few sloshes of top notch mojito. Finish: Long, undulating and wavering between phenolics, the freshest and richest of espresso, dark and ancient sherry, earthy peats and ripe dark fruits. Plenty medical complexities between everything as well. Comments: A majestic and spectacular whisky. Not quite the equal of the Kingsbury but then few whiskies are. Still something of a masterpiece in its own right, another Ardbeg for the ages... SGP: 556 - 95 points.  

 

Bowmore ‘over’ 12 yo (No strength stated, OB for Japan, 1980s, half bottle) Bowmore ‘over’ 12 yo (No strength stated, OB for Japan, 1980s, half bottle) The sort of ludicrously rare bottling that the Japanese market has been blessed with over the decades. Colour: Deep gold. Nose: A dry and earthy aroma with plenty peaty backbone but also quite a bit of minerality and a natural dirtiness. Some resinous sherry character along with salted almonds, some umami paste and preserved lemons in brine. Switches between softness and power. With time there’s some more classical old Bowmore exotic fruit emerging. Mouth: Rather typical early 1970s Bowmore style. Lots of shellfish, kippers, some earthy and naturally funky / dirty peat qualities. Then also motor oil, diesel, seashore and fishing nets. Becomes increasingly saline, but also at the same time more fruity. These notes of lemons, orange peel, blossom, melon and banana. I think it’s probably above 43%, it feels rather punchy and powerful in the mouth. Like a slightly stronger version of the 12yo OB which was to be found in the European markets in the early 1980s. Finish: Good length. A coal hearth with a few warm peat embers in it. Some medicine and a few bandages and ointments. Comments: Not stellar old Bowmore but still extremely good and a super fascinating rarity to taste. Good luck finding another. SGP: 446 - 89 points.  

 

Highland Park 30 yo 1985/2015 (51%, Silver Seal, cask 372, 215 bottles)

Highland Park 30 yo 1985/2015 (51%, Silver Seal, cask 372, 215 bottles) I’m very pleased to be able to try a whisky distilled in my birth year that should be better than ‘utterly average’. Colour: White wine. Nose: green fruits, lime zest, chalk, ink, lemon rind, olive oil, a vibrant waxiness and some beautifully nervous fruity notes of lemon drops, lychee and apricot. With a little time some very delicate medical notes of cough syrup and throat lozenges emerge. With water: gets leafier and fruitier with water. Some pine resin and a little lemon icing. Mouth: Lots of orange oils, herbal liqueurs, jasmine tea, green olives, yellow flowers, white pepper - a rainbow whisky! More cough medicine, more subtle waxiness and some mustard notes. Feels mature but also wonderfully lively and sprightly for its age. With water: gets drier now, veering more towards pastries, fresh breads and dried herbs. Some black olives in olive oil and rosemary. Really works beautifully with water. Finish: Long, lemony, mineral, savoury and full of little pin sharp notes of fruits and soft peppery spice notes. Comments: Exemplary old HP, not such a peaty one but more towards fruits and spices over all. The perfect every evening dram. I am delighted to inform you that I love it! SGP: 443 - 91 points.

 

 

(Eternal thanks to Emmanuel for these drams.)  

 

 

December 9, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Angus’s Asia Tasting Diary: Part 1a
So, I’m in Asia for the first time. Visiting Taiwan, Singapore and Japan. (Sorry Hong Kong - next time for sure!). I’ve been visiting some great whisky friends who have been extremely generous with the whiskies they’ve opened and poured. So the following is a kind of unashamedly, maltoporn fuelled tasting diary of some of the highlights of my wee tour. Please accept my apologies in advance...

 

First, some drams at KC’s place in Taichung...  

 

Dalmore 20 yo (43%, OB, Duncan MacBeth, late 1960s) Dalmore 20 yo (43%, OB, Duncan MacBeth, late 1960s) A bottling which carries a pretty serious reputation. We tasted a terrific one from Jeroen on the Pre-War Whisky Tour back in 2014 (which Serge scored 92 at the time), this one was bottled a little later for the Italian market, not sure if it’s the same one that Serge scored 93 back in 2006. Let’s see what gives... Colour: Deep gold. Nose: The bees are calling! They want their hive back. A melee of various honeys, citrus liqueurs, green fruits, quince paste, plum compote and fig jam. This could almost be an aged Sauternes. Goes on with some wonderfully resinous and thick notes of camphor, a touch of phenolics and then crushed mint leaf and eucalyptus oil. Some tea tree oil and Darjeeling tea. Raisins stewed in cognac, banana bread, more menthol and some wonderfully soft spices and waxiness. A few mineral touches in the background. Mouth: The most marvellous and harmonious collection of honeys, pollen, wildflowers, aged mead, sunflower oil, wood spice, quince, plum sauce, five spice, cloves, mulling spices, orange peel. Beautiful and humbling complexity. More dark fruits such as dates, figs, pine resin, more old desert wines, some green tea and then a little limoncello. Finish: Long, waxy, textural and full of old yellow chartreuse, wormwood, ointment, green fruits and a few white stone fruits as well. Some lychee and rosewater; an aged dry Gewurztraminer. Comments: Unsurprisingly brilliant stuff. Thank goodness the current Dalmores are of this same style and quality. HA! (Sorry). SGP: 552 - 93 points.    

 

Glen Scotia 8 yo (46%, OB, bottled +/- 1960) Glen Scotia 8 yo (46%, OB, bottled +/- 1960) A fascinating bottle that I hadn’t seen until recently. This should have been bottled around the very early 1960s at the latest so probably represents one of the very few genuine, surviving examples of old-style Campbeltown malt whisky. I’m excited... Colour: Gold. Nose: A deep, earthy and vegetal peat. Some brilliant and sharp medicine and phenolics with crushed sea salt and notes of earth, hessian, sack cloth and some seashore aromas of kelp and old rope. Some fug of diesel fumes from an old puffer and a malt bin full of peated malt. Mouth: Oily in texture, huge, fat, emphatic and full of peaty and farmy bluster. Coins, motor oil, sheep wool, some ink and paint and then more of this really earthy, herbal, old style peat which is a flavour which seems only to exist in these really old whiskies (I’ve found it in very old Laphroaigs, Highland Parks, Glenfarclas and many very old blends for example). It’s dry but hugely expressive, these notes of aged medicine, dried seaweed and a little touch of honey and some orange peel are all ubiquitous. Quite marvellous and utterly thrilling to taste such an old Campbeltown single malt. Finish: Long and full of very elegant and deft mineral, medicinal and slightly smoky touches. A little bonfire smoke and a few crushed leaves, then finally some wonderfully nervous and jittery notes of cough medicine and throat lozenges. Comments: Real liquid history and yet another reminder of just how emphatic the changes to the character of Scotch whisky have been over the past fifty years. Emotional but also deeply instructive and terrific whisky. SGP: 367 - 94 points.  

 

And now, at the insistence of several friends here, a deadly serious interlude...  

 

Speyburn 13 yo 1971 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, mini) Speyburn 13 yo 1971 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, mini) In case you hadn’t heard, Speyburn really isn’t funny guys. Colour: Gold. Nose: Surprisingly good. Some rather nice drying leafy and spicy notes with fruit jams and cereals in the background. Some OBE which is by now a kind of mainstay character even for the full size bottles of these old Connoisseur’s Choice bottlings. Goes on with a little gravel, metal polish, leather and cold tea. Mouth: Still pretty good really. Plenty of these rather nice notes of light wax, breakfast cereal, olive oil, white pepper, minerals, even a little rancio and some tea tree oil. Surprisingly waxy really. Finish: Decent length. More of these metal and shoe polish notes. Some gorse and cactus notes and a little flicker of green fruit. A bit drying perhaps. Comments: Well, that was boringly acceptable. But seriously, a nice surprise. I wonder what these whiskies would be like today had G&M been bottling them at 46%. SGP: 441 - 83 points.  

 

Back to non-serious whisky...  

 

Littlemill NAS (43%, OB, short cap, Aldo Zini import Genova, early 1970s) Littlemill NAS (43%, OB, short cap, Aldo Zini import Genova, early 1970s) Colour: Pale straw. Nose: But this is tequila blanco. Seriously! This is a pure and blade like young tequila with notes of cactus flesh, agave, preserved lemons and then these wee touches of brine, fresh lemon juice, sea salt, an old coal scuttle, lemongrass, kaffir lime and eventually bay leaf, toasted coriander seed and something akin to caraway liqueur. The most beautifully pure, precise and vivid distillate you can imagine. Not a single trace of wood anywhere to be found. This is probably something like 5 year old whisky from dead wood. Something that works so perfectly when the distillate is this characterful and great. Mouth: Phew! The quality is consistent. Marvellously spicy, mineral, lemony and lively. Shares something of the old 5yo Clynelish bottlings with these oily notes like motor oil and linseed oil. White flowers, flints, stone fruits, pear flesh, pineapple cubes, some natural barley sweetness. Just brilliant. Finish: Long and full of lemons, pineapple, more agave, mineral oil, camphor and a touch of wax. Comments: I know several old bottlings of Littlemill from the 1970s such as the various 5 and 7 year old variants, I never rated any of them as being all that great. However, this is a total surprise. The kind of whisky that utterly shatters these ideas of what ‘Lowland’ whisky is or was. This is a big, complex, pure and brilliantly characterful old style, distillate driven dram. I adore it. SGP: 441 - 92 points.  

 

Springbank 10 yo (57%, OB, +/- 1980, Sutti import) Springbank 10 yo (57%, OB, Sutti import, +/- 1980) Colour: Straw. Nose: Glistening green and white fruits, wild flowers, barley sugar, hessian, seashore, wax and dried seaweed. An almost crystalline and perfect example of old school Springbank. These wonderfully precise and chiselled notes of wet rocks, minerals, sheep fanks, cow sheds and lemongrass. A tour de force for purity and distillate driven malt whisky. With water: it doesn’t seem to change too much, we’re still in this rather explosive spectrum of waxes, minerals, very light peat smoke, citrons, farmyard and coal hearths. Mouth: Lemons, ashes, BBQ liquid smoke, lychee, a whole seashore of minerals, wet beach pebbles, sand, a stray kipper, olive oil, cut grass, wax and paraffin. Lets cut to the water... with water: again water seems to not make a massive difference. Here it kind of widens and softens everything slightly so there is a kind of melting effect between the various flavours and characteristics. A majestic mix of mineral, citrus, wax and background peat flavours. Totally magnificent whisky! Finish: Long, drying, full of barley sugar, lemon peel, a little ointment, some herbal toothpaste, bandages and soot. White flowers and assorted fruits. Comments: Total, thrilling brilliance. Would have been worth living in Campbeltown back in the 1970s for. Once again, this is the sort of whisky that new start up distillers should endeavour to taste and understand. SGP: 553 - 94 points.  

 

Kawasaki 1976/2009 (65.6%, Ichiro’s Choice, refill sherry butts, 432 bottles) Kawasaki 1976/2009 (65.6%, Ichiro’s Choice, refill sherry butts, 432 bottles) Kawasaki was a Japanese single grain whisky which was made by the Mercian company from 1935 until 2006 when Mercian became acquired by Kirin holdings and both its distilleries - Kawasaki and Karuizawa - were closed. This is my first Kawasaki and, although I’m no grain enthusiast, I must say I am intrigued... Colour: Amber: Nose: Rich and full of freshly baked breads, toasted seeds, brioche, warm croissant, muesli and a few dark fruits which I suspect derive from the sherry - these notes of dates, fig rolls and dried cranberries. With a little time these really earthy notes begin to emerge, wonderfully old school sherried notes of toasted almonds, aged balsamic, rancio and fruit compotes. Some saltiness, a little gravel, maraschino cherries. So far this is shaping up to be one of the most complex grain whiskies I ever tasted. With water: marzipan strikes first then becomes increasingly waxy with notes of hessian and dunnage. More assorted oils, breads and some spiced fruits. Mouth: Despite the strength this is huge, oily and fruity. You can tell it is a grain whisky but the character is polished, with some surprising notes of wax, shoe polish, brasso, sunflower oil, brown bread and green peppercorns. More of these soft cereal notes of muesli, yellow flowers, buttered toast and a little strawberry liqueur. With water: tamarind chutney, soft brown sugar, some aged rhum and then a few throat lozenges. Beguilingly complex for a grain. Finish: Long and powerful. Big notes of petrol, rosewater, some molasses, a little more rancio, treacle, black pepper and cola cubes. Comments: Quite thrilling to try and surprisingly great. I don’t believe size is overtly related to quality in whisky making, but I wonder if the fact that Kawasaki was a particularly tiny grain distillery may have had something to do with the richness of this character. Although, I should point out, this is so far my only Kawasaki and this complexity may well be due to some excellent refill sherry casks. Either way, I’m impressed. SGP: 551 - 90 points.  

 

Right tomorrow, Singapore! That's right, on a Sunday...  

 

(Eternal thanks to KC for these drams.)  

 

 

December 8, 2017


Whiskyfun

Another little bag of blends

Not many, just a few, with or without grain, it does not matter! Let’s do that randomly and see what came our way in recent weeks…

The Naked Grouse (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)

The Naked Grouse (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017) Three stars When I first tried the first batches back in 2012, I thought Naked Grouse was rather terrific (WF 85). But it can happen that distillers and bottlers put extra care into their first batches (you know, older, better casks), let’s see… Oh and I rather like this packaging… Colour: full gold. Nose: a lot of malty cakes, brioches, panettone, custard, Jaffa cakes, then rather brown beers and chocolate sauce. Mars bars? I’m also finding Golden Grahams and a dollop of proper maple syrup. All fine, you could pour this on pancakes. Mouth: really very good, really. Overripe apples, oranges and malty cereal bars, amontillado, dry dates, tobacco… The only problem is that it tends to nosedive after twenty seconds, and to become a little too dry. That could be the low strength. Finish: medium, rather drying, on black chocolate, with some black tea in the aftertaste. Comments: I think it got a little narrower and drier since 2012, but it’s still a very fine blended Scotch, no doubt about that. SGP:451 - 82 points.

James Eadie’s X (45.6%, James Eadie, blend, +/-2017)

James Eadie’s X (45.6%, James Eadie, blend, +/-2017) Three stars and a half It seems that this is a very old brand that’s just been revived. Colour: white wine (little colouring if any, hurray). Nose: it’s rather gentle, starting a little buttery, malty, with notes of raw barley, a touch of muesli, then rather small raisins, a very light smoke (garden bonfire at the neighbours’) and something clearly coastal (oysters). I find it rather delicate and complex, and it’s appreciable that there’s no ooh-ah-caramelness. Mouth: high malt content for sure. This is lovely, absolutely lovely, rather smokier than on the nose, more citrusy for sure, and delicately malty. More muesli, with a little pepper and ginger thrown in for good measure. The strength is perfect. Drops of seawater, always loved that in nay malt (or blend for that matter). Finish: medium, rather grassier, with fruit peelings. Lemon zests and ashes in the aftertaste, as well as a little grass. Comments: a ‘high blend’ that’s frankly malty. How much grain in there? Any? SGP:453 - 84 points.

Vanilla Burst ‘Batch 1’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, 4,800 bottles)

Vanilla Burst ‘Batch 1’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, 4,800 bottles) Three stars Ahem, vanilla and no age… Ahem… Colour: straw. Nose: beer, Guinness, sour dough, pancake batter, which is all fine, and do you hear me? No vanilla in excess! Hurray! Mouth: frankly, this is good. Sweet and malty, ‘average’ in the best sense of that word, with pears and apples, fruit crumble, barley, muesli, porridge, oranges… It seems that they almost recreated Glenfiddich (the older 15 cask strength)! Actually, pears are calling the shots here. Finish: medium, getting perhaps a tad too grassy and bitter(ish) for me. Comments: I did not find any ‘vanilla burst’, but we shan’t complain. A good solid vatted malt, perhaps not exactly a sipper though. For deluxe cocktails? SGP:441 - 80 points.

Treacle Chest ‘Batch 2’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, 6,300 bottles)

Treacle Chest ‘Batch 2’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, 6,300 bottles) Three stars Colour: gold. Nose: fine, starting with whiffs of copper and walnuts, a little metal polish, then figs and roasted nuts, a little burnt wood, old walnuts, and some kind of old furniture polish from grandpa’s times. Mouth: I like the palate rather better, it’s finely sherried, not too sweet, and yet a bit PX-y, with notes of Banyuls, cognac, walnuts, speculoos, macaroons, Mars bar, oranges… Doesn’t it remind me a bit of Glenfarclas 12 years old? Finish: medium, with more marmalade, raisins, toasted brioche, and again Mars bar. A vatting of pretty good entry-level Speysiders, Glenlivet 12, Glenfarclas 12, Macallan 12 Fine Oak… Juniper and marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: solid and very quaffable, well done. SGP:451 - 81 points.

The Lost Distilleries Blend (51%, The Blended Whisky Company, batch #10, 1,041 bottles, 2017)

The Lost Distilleries Blend (51%, The Blended Whisky Company, batch #10, 1,041 bottles, 2017) Four stars and a halfImagine those mad souls at Master of Malts have murdered some Caperdonich, Rosebank, Imperial, Mosstowie, Glen Mhor, Glenisla, Glenlochy, Craigduff, Port Ellen, Brora and Port Dundas here. Well, not that we cared much for the Port Dundas, but… Colour: straw. Nose: smells of the old times, really. Ashes, the interior of a new Morris Marina (yep I’ve chosen a British car that I knew only too well), soot, old cellar, fresh concrete, a little coconut (Port Dundas, shhh!), brand new double LP from Tower Records’, cardboard, Miss Moneypenny’s used carbon papers… With water: menthol! Some menthol! Mouth (neat): blimey, this is good! Smoked pineapples, ashy oranges, over-baked brownies, forgotten fudge, sucking your cigar, lamp oil, graphite… I don’t know if this was an accident, but it worked. With water: really very good. It’s not impossible that they managed to recreate old White Horse or Logan this time. No, certainly not Glenfiddich. Finish: long, sooty, oily, waxy… Now as for that Brora that they poured into this, I think I’ll come over with four Albanian friends right tomorrow. MoM, we have to talk… Comments: Well done. See you tomorrow – may I suggest you start to number your giblets, as we say over here? SGP:453 - 89 points.

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

 

 

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December 7, 2017


Whiskyfun

Japan Special, Akashi vs. Chichibu

I seem to remember I had promised we’d do more ‘new’ or ‘young’ Japanese whiskies, while trying to avoid the fake ones when possible. I mean, imported juices sold as Japanese blends or ‘pure’ malts, with kanjis, cherry blossom, Noh masks and whatnot on the labels…

Akashi White Oak ‘Cognac Cask’ (62%, OB for Mitsukoshi Isetan, cask #1122, +/-2017)

Akashi White Oak ‘Cognac Cask’ (62%, OB for Mitsukoshi Isetan, cask #1122, +/-2017) Three stars and a half This rather rare baby was matured in French Cognac casks and bottled for famous and rather prestigious Japanese general store Isetan. We had enjoyed another Cognac Cask bottled at 55% very much a few months ago (WF 89). Colour: gold. Nose: strong and rather woody, varnishy, plankish, lacking expression, and frankly too dry. I suppose water is needed… With water: there’s still a little varnish, but also patchouli, green tea, humus… Mouth (neat): very strong, and much better this time, with bitter herbs, crushed bananas, barley, ginger cookies, porridge, caraway… With water: very good, with some sweet and spicy bread, gingerbread, cinnamon mints, caraway. That I’m getting any Cognac from this would be an overstatement. Finish: long, dry, with even more spicy bread. Quite some pepper and even chilli in the aftertaste. Comments: really to my liking, but I’m finding it a little rough and a little less sexy than the one at 55% vol. (pink label). SGP:261 - 83 points.

Another go at White Oak…

Akashi White Oak 8 yo (50%, OB, sherry butt, cask #5184, 900 bottles, +/-2016)

Akashi White Oak 8 yo (50%, OB, sherry butt, cask #5184, 900 bottles, +/-2016) Four stars Akashi’s the name of White Oak’s single malts, while when there’s only ‘White Oak’, it’s probably a blend. Colour: gold. Nose: oh lovely! Musty old bodega in winter (yes, a recent experience), a little natural rubber, leaves, walnuts, peonies, drops of old vase water… With water: gets rather wonderfully muddy and earthy. It’s been raining around that bodega. Mouth (neat): very good indeed, it’s actually a rounder cake-y/bready whisky, with dried figs aplenty, gingerbread again, some raisins, and a sweeter kind of tobacco. Also stout beer, and touches of leather. With water: excellent, still young, but the sherry added some depth of flavour and a nice Christmassy touch. We’re thinking Christstollen. Finish: long, drier, spicy, with a little cardboard, perhaps. Cinnamon. Comments: I really enjoyed this little Akashi! SGP:451 - 85 points.

Chichibu’s turn…

Chichibu 2012/2017 (63.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, peated, cask #2088, 225 bottles)

Chichibu 2012/2017 (63.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, peated, cask #2088, 225 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: wow, this medicinal? We’re nosing tincture of iodine, tiger balm, old-school embrocations, Betadine… To tell you the truth, I’ve rarely encountered a malt whisky that was this ‘hospitaly’. With water: perfect. Smoky mud, humus, gravel, new plastic (new stereo set), Laundromat… Mouth (neat): ultra-vertical! This, I like a lot. Lemon and citron juice, plus brine and smoked water, punto basta. As I sometimes say, it’s a blade, Kill-Bill-style. With water: fabulous. Tangerines! Please call the Japanese anti-maltoporn brigade! Finish: long, blade-y, ultra-precise. Comments: great work, mister blacksmi… I mean, mister distiller. This is malt whisky in high-definition, I would say, rather for hardcore whiskyphiles. SGP:367 - 91 points.

Chichibu 2012/2017 (62.5%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, second fill bourbon barrel, peated, cask #2087)

Chichibu 2012/2017 (62.5%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, second fill bourbon barrel, peated, cask #2087) Five stars It does not take a rocket scientist or someone in Washington to figure out that this is a sister cask. Does it? Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one’s a little more complex, and rather less blade-y. The cask may have been a little more active, in fact, as we’re finding rhubarb, kiwi, patchouli, lime-flower tea and riesling (clearly, riesling!) And of course peat, camphor, seawater, oysters… This nose is totally brilliant, not sure it even needs water. But while we’re at it, with water: stunning. A walk on Islay – correction, around Chichibu. And it’s raining cats and dogs… Mouth (neat): amazing, totally amazing. I’m reminded of when I bought a bottle of Port Ellen 20 yo Rare Malt, when that beauty had just come out – except that this Chichibu is only 5. Barely. Smoked pine resins and cones, camphor, grapefruits, tar, liquorice, tyres… Really, it’s amazing. With water: should I really elaborate? Finish: long, magnificently brine-y, with a smoke that got subtle and complex. At-five-years-of-age. Comments: leaves me stunned. SGP:467 - 93 points.

(Thank you Alex!)

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December 6, 2017


Whiskyfun

The Ledaigathon Part 4

Indeed there’s more Ledaig. But we shan’t do them all, let’s not exaggerate. Five more will do, we’ll tackle the remaining ones next year if you don’t mind…

Ledaig 11 yo (48%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Time Series, 319 bottles, 2016)

Ledaig 11 yo (48%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Time Series, 319 bottles, 2016) Four stars and a half I find it great to place emphasis on time rather than on wood, as just everyone is doing these days in lumberjac… I mean, in whisky. I tell you, some will soon distil oak instead of grains, that will be quicker. Colour: white wine. Nose: simple, easy, perfect. Some inky smoke (newspaper of the day), and whiffs of moss after a rain, plus brine and kippers. Not the Kippers of the Cake, mind you. Mouth: thoroughly excellent, clean, smoky, rather medicinal, with a superb herbal background. Fir, pinesap, then lemongrass and smoky/salty oils. Finish: medium to long, salty, very clean and well-defined. What we call ‘a blade’ at WF Towers – and yet we’re no fencers. Comments: I was just thinking, the other distillery that would be issuing such perfect youngsters would be Caol Ila. Caol Ila and Ledaig, same struggle? Or, yeah, perhaps Bowmore, you’re very right… SGP:457 - 89 points.

But back to the wackier years…

Ledaig 19 yo 1997/2016 (53.9%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 252 bottles)

Ledaig 19 yo 1997/2016 (53.9%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 252 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: more maturity in this one, and yet no Ledaiggy off-notes, rather some kind of bold, rather liqueury, and pretty herbal arrival, with some sage, parsley, moss, humus, then kelp, floated wood, oysters, and kippers. A forest near the Atlantic, I’d say. Very nice, and rather intriguing. With water: sea breeze, a walk on the beach (that wouldn’t be Ibiza, rather Machir), tissues, and Altoids. Both were kept in the very same pocket for years. Mouth (neat): Cadenhead are often having singular casks, and after all that’s the whole point of bottling single casks, isn’t it. Beautiful resinous/sappy style, then lemons and moss, then a very brine-y smokiness with also ashes and notes of this bizarre, yet sometimes fantastic wine they have in Greece, retsina. With water: we’re going towards Loire wines, I mean the drier ones. Ideas of a proper old Muscadet – nah of course not the cheap junk they have in supermarkets. Finish: medium, and very costal. Comments: on oysters, on oysters! SGP:366 - 90 points.

Ledaig 15 yo 2001/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11605, 255 bottles)

Ledaig 15 yo 2001/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11605, 255 bottles) Three stars and a half Ah, this is interesting, will this already be a ‘2000s’ style or still a ‘1990s’? Colour: straw. Nose: ooh, nice! It’s got the smell of that brand new Harley-Davidson I bought in the very early 1990s. No, really, not making this up. Tyres, leatherette, metal polish, and relatively fresh paint. That was before I changed the carb, the saddle, the paintwork, the pipes, the crankshaft, the ignition box, and a few other details. But why am I telling you all this? Mouth: shall we call this a ‘transition’ Ledaig? It’s already got the newer ones’ clean and smoky/zesty style, and yet there are a few remaining ‘dirtier’ aspects, such as these tiny touches of artichokes and, well, used matches. Indeed, there is something slightly sulphury to this. Ala Benrinnes, if you will. Finish: long, with the sulphury notes coming to the front. That’s the distillate, I suppose. Comments: a mid-period Ledaig, shall we say. A very interesting transitional vintage… (of course vintages do matter with whisky, it’s just that vintages are the result of Man’s will, not nature’s). SGP:366 - 83 points.

Ledaig 10 yo 2005/2016 (57.3%, Signatory Vintage, first fill sherry butt, cask #900151, 650 bottles)

Ledaig 10 yo 2005/2016 (57.3%, Signatory Vintage, first fill sherry butt, cask #900151, 650 bottles) Three stars I’d wager this one will be quite beastly… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s not that the sherry cask did annihilate the distillate’s fiery behaviour, but I wouldn’t say this one sings loud. Muddy tar and smoke, minerals, walnuts, sulphur (stone)… Well as they say in D.C., the jury’s still out… With water: it’s still out. Mouth (neat): ah, this is rather better, even if there’s some glue and varnish, and even a slightly acetone-y feeling. Extremely aggressive, smoky and sour, bitterish, very rough… In short it’s rather one for the hipflask. With water: bittersweet and a tad sour. Careful with water, it doesn’t swim too well. Finish: medium, a tad acetic. Good when at natural strength, but water kind of disjoints it. Well water almost destroys it, in fact. Comments: my cats like water better. SGP:366 - 80 points.

Ledaig 11 yo 2005/2017 (61.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, butt, 450 bottles)

Ledaig 11 yo 2005/2017 (61.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, butt, 450 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: an earthy sherriness over a thick layer of burnt walnuts and a lot of earthy Pu-erh tea, tobacco, and new leather. Behind that, the most medicinal combination of brine and iodine. New lineoleum and Bakelite (as far as I can remember). With water: we had mentioned Uigeadail before, and we’ll do it again. More linoleum, dried kelp, old engine oil, tobacco, walnuts… Mouth (neat): very punchy, heavy, salty… Some pungent black tea, some pepper, bitter oranges, a little ginger and juniper… Boy this is heavy! With water: gets more sooty and ashy, and salty as well. Finish: as long as one of Fidel’s most historical speeches, bitter and smoky, with bitter oranges, salt, pepper, and leather. Comments: a beast that’s sometimes as subtle as a sledgehammer – but I liked it a lot. SGP:377 - 87 points.

Good, four*five = twenty Ledaigs altogether, I’d say that is more than enough. Hasta la vista, I’m thanking for your understanding.

(And gracias, Tom!)

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December 5, 2017


Whiskyfun

The Ledaigathon Part 3

More beastly Ledaigs, one after the other, as they come. Hope we won’t find any deviant ones… Because, you know, Ledaig could be unpredictable…

Ledaig 12 yo 2004/2016 (58.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hoghsead, cask #1030, 327 bottles)

Ledaig 12 yo 2004/2016 (58.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hoghsead, cask #1030, 327 bottles) Five stars After a superb 13 yo, and a more unlikely 11 yo, we had to try TSMOS’s rather recent 12 yo. Aren’t we very single-minded? Colour: pale white wine. Nose: totally luminous after the dirty-ish 11 yo, all on wulong tea and grass smoke. You won’t find a more millimetric, well-carved young Ledaig. With water: exactly vertical, as wine buffs now say. Mouth (neat): magnificently lemony, smoky, and brine-y. Does little but does it to utter perfection. I adore this style – perhaps because I’m also a wine lover. With water: please call the Antimaltoporn brigade! Now there isn’t much to say, because there isn’t much happening here, it’s just that this rather Zen style is right up my alley. Finish: medium, totally clean. Comments: love love love this laser-cut, very minimal style. SGP:357 - 92 points.

Rummage rummage… It’s going to be a little hard…

Ledaig 17 yo 1999/2016 (51.5%, TWCC, Switzerland, bourbon, 808 bottles)

Ledaig 17 yo 1999/2016 (51.5%, TWCC, Switzerland, bourbon, 808 bottles) Two stars and a half 808 bottles from bourbon wood, that cannot be a single cask. Not bad news, very small batches can be even better… Colour: white wine. Nose: once again, the 1990s are different. Some buttery notes, some porridge, a fermentary side (sour beer), some slightly unlikely notes ala Fettercairn (okay, feints), some dough, whiffs of young tequila… In short it’s unorthodox, thus fun. With water: ink and cardboard, then dried seaweed. Hints of rotting vegetables. Mouth (neat): a strange thing, but it’s a little better balanced on your palate, with some chives (eh?), sour dough, tobacco, cold cuts, toothpaste, and citric beer. Nice peppery smokiness over all that funny composition. With water: a little nicer, with more menthol. Menthol saved many a dram. Finish: rather long, and very herbal-tea-ish. Ginger? Thyme? Peppery aftertaste. Comments: some kind of adventure rather than whisky. It’s funny, it’s just a little bizarre. Indeed, Ledaig in the 1990s. SGP:366 - 79 points.

Ledaig 9 yo 2007/2016 (58%, Dornoch, Thompson Bros.)

Ledaig 9 yo 2007/2016 (58%, Dornoch, Thompson Bros.) Four starsThe infernal Thompson brothers up there in Dornoch Castle have selected this baby last year. There must have been some reason. Colour: white wine. Nose: I need to meet the gentleman on Mull or elsewhere who decided to change Ledaig’s style sometime in the early 2000s. A stroke of genius if you ask me. As for this youngster in my glass, well, it’s sharp, a bit raw, concise, rather on bandages and muddy tincture of iodine. You see what I mean. With water: bandages and Mercurochrome. Ouch – but we’re a bit masochistic at WF Towers. Mouth (neat): makes you yodel (hold your horses, S.!) Totally smoky, almondy, iodine-y, and even more South-shore-y than earlier vintages. There was a will, apparently. With water: careful, it tends to get a little too dry and, frankly, a little too simple. I love purified design, but there are limits. Finish: medium, rather on bitter herbs and yeasty stuff. Like, beer. Comments: still a bit too young, perhaps, but it’s a great distillate, no doubt. SGP:366 - 85 points.

Ledaig 8 yo 2008/2016 (52.8%, Claxton’s, sherry butt, 645 bottles)

Ledaig 8 yo 2008/2016 (52.8%, Claxton’s, sherry butt, 645 bottles) Four stars Mee god they’re getting even younger on the tasting table… Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar, I can’t find much difference, perhaps just a little more roundness – a welcome roundness. Chamomile, perhaps? Asparagus tips? Woodruff? With water: gets nicely medicinal. Those bdanges, that Mercurochrome. Mouth (neat): ah, good! Lemons, smoke, brine, and a tarry background. Makes me rather think of young Laphroaig when it’s not botoxed (I mean, buried under tons of stupid vanilla or unlikely wines). With water: aux âmes bien nées, la valeur n'attend point le nombre des années, said Corneille (in souls nobly born, valour does not depend upon age). Finish: rather long, ultra-clean, and very ‘vertical’ once again. Which whisky would be rather ‘horizontal’, you may ask? Say some old 25 yo Macallan… Comments: still a wee bit rough, but at 8 yo, I believe you can’t make much better. SGP:467 - 86 points.

We said ‘maximum five’… But after those restless youngsters, maybe an oldie?...

Ledaig 31 yo 1973/2004 (47.8%, Chieftain’s, sherry hogshead, casks #1711-1712, 120 bottles)

Ledaig 31 yo 1973/2004 (47.8%, Chieftain’s, sherry hogshead, casks #1711-1712, 120 bottles) Five stars 120 bottles from two hoggies, that wasn’t much, was it. It is to be noted that sister cask #1710 fetched 93 points right here back in 2004. But indeed, that was thirteen years ago… Oh and it’s also to be noted that 1973 was only Tobermory’s second year of making Ledaig… And they were all pretty amazing! Colour: full gold. Nose: ooooh! Benzoin, tobacco, sandalwood, incense, camphor, eucalyptus, ripe bananas, tiger balm, avocado juice, nectarines, old Montrachet (or surrounding vineyards)… Well this old Ledaig’s got what none of the others had, complexity. An astounding complexity… Mouth: good, there’s a little too much oak in the way, with this feeling of sucking tealeaves, but other than that, what a whirlwind of herbal teas, dried fruits, or tobaccos! It got extremely tertiary, in fact, with something clearly medicinal (mouthwash aged in oak - ha) and hints of extremely old oloroso anada (vintage). Finish: medium, and fresher, which came unexpected. Oranges, beedies, apple wine (like they make in Canada)… Comments: it’s really glorious, just a tad oaky. But those early Ledaigs, just like the early ‘new’ Longrows, were true gifts to mankind (right, right…) SGP:565 - 91 points.

 (Thank you Carsten!)

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December 4, 2017


Whiskyfun

The Ledaigathon Part 2

After last Thursday’s very pleasant peaty session, let’s simply go on, there’s plenty of Ledaig on the tasting table at WF Towers.

Ledaig 10 yo 2005/2016 (56.6%, Signatory Vintage for Taiwan, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #900149, 616 bottles)

Ledaig 10 yo 2005/2016 (56.6%, Signatory Vintage for Taiwan, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #900149, 616 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: one cannot not think of the first Uigeadails, really. Huge creosote-y arrival, with litres of brine as well, new Wellies, and a very earthy sherry, then a whole plate of Iberico ham, possibly from the sherry (yes I’m trying to joke). With water: burnt orange cake, brown sugar, and some used engine oil. Ex-V8. Mouth: huge! Some cough syrup, that make from that distillery on that shore on that island, a bag of older walnuts, and a biting, bone-dry olorosoness. Cocoa powder, bitter oranges. Huge, really. With water: doesn’t change much, except that it gets saltier, becoming rather fino-ish. Some redistilled Tio Pepe, perhaps? Finish: extremely long, nicely bitter, and full of smoky walnuts. Comments: perhaps not a very good idea to kick this off with such a monster. SGP:378 - 88 points.

While we’re doing sherried that kills…

Ledaig 18 yo 1998/2016 (62.7%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry, butt #800032, 445 bottles)

Ledaig 18 yo 1998/2016 (62.7%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry, butt #800032, 445 bottles) Four stars and a half Get prepared… Colour: full gold. Nose: oh, but this is gentler, and more akin to some good mildish Jamaican rum! It’s really as if they were making it less peaty back in the late 1990s, but this nose is just great as well, rather more on leather and tobacco, game, caraway, and certainly eucalyptus and menthol. We shan’t complain, this works too… With water: ink and mint, then liquorice and mushrooms after the rain. Mouth (neat): extremely rich, and yet a little lighter again, starting with superb notes of Cointreau and crème de menthe, and rather going on with some cough syrup and mullein flower liqueur (ever tried that?) More pipe tobacco after a short while, and indeed a saltiness again. With water: ideas of Uigeadail again. Isn’t that an obsession, Doc? Finish: very long, and saltier yet. Leather, tobacco, brine, smoked ham. Bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: I tend to like the zestier ones even better, but this is great, it cannot be denied. SGP:466 - 88 points.

Ledaig 13 yo 2004/2017 (55.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #37)

Ledaig 13 yo 2004/2017 (55.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland and LMDW, hogshead, cask #37) Five stars Colour: pale white wine. Nose: there’s something of ‘older’ Ledaig in this, with some porridge, as well as some butyric and slightly yeasty/feinty notes, but this baby’s soon to become much, much, and I mean much cleaner, zestier, blade-ier, and yet it retains a fatty side, with some grape pip oil and notes of fatty fish. Scottish farmed salmon, perhaps? Is this for sushi? It’s true that it’s a bit sake-like at times. With water: dry, rather fermentary, and even more fino-ish than Signatory’s 2005. Mouth (neat): perfect, just perfect. Lemon juice, smoked fish (not obligatorily salmon), and green tea. With water: same, it’s all perfect. A tad saltier now. Finish: long, salty, lemony, smoky. Great touches of peach behind that. Comments: it’s not totally impossible that Ledaig became the #1 peater in the 2000s. It’s just great to see them getting mature… SGP:457 - 90 points.

Ledaig 8 yo 2008/2016 (60.9%, Archives, sherry butt, cask #700712, 609 bottles)

Ledaig 8 yo 2008/2016 (60.9%, Archives, sherry butt, cask #700712, 609 bottles) Four stars and a half A very young one with a label that, for once, may suggest what’s inside the bottle, as far as aromas are concerned. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is a tad rougher, and the cask may have been a little more active this time (coffee, butterscotch), but this profile is just great. Iodine, Mercurochrome, mud, tar, kelp, engine oil, old whelks. No, really old whelks (any resemblance to real people is purely coincidental). With water: perfect, very medicinal. Mouth (neat): smashes you, burns you, and invades your airway. And yet, it’s a pleasant feeling. Smoked and salted lemon juice, plus bitter fruits and vegetables. Artichokes, for example. With water: those artichokes, salted, smoked, and sprinkled with lime juice. Finish: very long, with notes of juniper this time. Comments: granted, it’s a tad brutal and not polite enough, but it delivers greatly. Huge quality/age ratio. SGP:368 - 89 points.

Hold on, there’s another one by TWE’s consortium of fine whiskies…

Ledaig 11 yo 2005/2016 (56.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #900161, 564 bottles)

Ledaig 11 yo 2005/2016 (56.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #900161, 564 bottles) Two stars and a half Watch this, I’ve tried some 2005s that have been much too young, but 11 years should do… Colour: full gold. Nose: ah, old-Ledaigness, with a little metal, some yeast, and some porridge. This one’s a little bizarre, I have to say. In the style of the 1980s Ledaigs, not the best period ever… With water: more damp cardboard and rusty old tools, plus hints of cow dung. We’re well in the 1980s… Mouth (neat): it’s not as clean as the others indeed, there are notes of Swiss cheese, baker’s yeast… But things tend to improve, while there’s always a porridge-y roughness in the back. With water: we almost tamed it, it got very earthy and vegetal at the same time. Pure smoked humus. Finish: long, on just the same notes. Comments: a strange dirty beast, this one. It’s got many stories to tell you, but some are rather frightening. SGP:367 - 79 points.

Not sure I told you before, I’ve decided not to have more than five of these in a row. So, see you next time…

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December 3, 2017


Whiskyfun

Five more crazy rums

Looking for malternatives, as we try to do on each and every Sunday (with ups and downs, but we’re learning to avoid the downs…)

Worthy Park ‘Single Cane Estate Rum’ (40%, Bacardi, Jamaica, 1l, +/-2016)

Worthy Park ‘Single Cane Estate Rum’ (40%, Bacardi, Jamaica, 1l, +/-2016) Two stars Some kind of ‘independent’ bottling of Worthy Park done by Bacardi for travel retail. Ah, travel retail, two words that always scare me. Now ‘Worthy Park’ sounds great, so… Colour: golden amber. Some caramel’s been used, most probably, since this cannot be really old at approx 30€ a bottle (and naturally, 35€ in travel retail). Nose: some typical tarry, garage-y, and pretty brine-y smells over notes of burnt caramel and butterscotch. Much gentler than the ‘usual’ Worthy Parks, but it’s still Worthy Park. Ish. Mouth: rather weird, with indeed this usual tarry and medicinal profile, but also quite some notes of toasted oak, more bitter caramel, and a relatively discreet sweetness that shouldn’t quite be there IMHO. Feels a little tampered with. It’s as if some oak chips have been in use, and some saccharine too. Finish: rather short for Worthy Park. Even at 40% vol., it should be rather longer. Comments: it’s rather okay, but it misses Worthy Park’s point, IMHO. Were I the owner of some very well-reputed own-estate rum distillery, I wouldn’t let some large brands use my name. Or only ‘Jamaica’, at a pinch. Or keep control of the whole process, till bottling. SGP:452 - 74 points.

South Pacific Distillers 2009/2017 (57.18%, La Maison du Whisky, Transcontinental Rum Line, Fiji)

South Pacific Distillers 2009/2017 (57.18%, La Maison du Whisky, Transcontinental Rum Line, Fiji) Four stars and a half A vatting of four casks essentially matured in Europe, and a distillate that’s already rather impressed me in the past. Colour: white wine. Nose: burnt tyres, UHU glue, nail polish remover, rotting bananas, diesel oil, new rubber boots, acetone, kerosene… I like that! With water: more of all that, while it gets even brinier. Yes that was possible. Mouth (neat): acrid and even aggressive, with more rotting oranges, honey vinegar, lemon and lime juices, gherkin brine, and that edible glue that we used to eat at school. We had one that was called ‘Cléopâtre’. And yes I like that. With water: pickled fruits, glue-y chutneys, more kerosene, and a growing saltiness. Forgot to mention olives, and green bananas. Finish: very long, salty, smoky, petroly, tarry, varnishy. Comments: it’s furiously Jamaican, this little Fijian rum! Love it – and it’ll make your guests laugh (and wonder if you didn’t go mad). SGP:463 - 88 points.

Jamaican Rum 14 yo 2002/2017 (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, barrel)

Jamaican Rum 14 yo 2002/2017 (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, barrel) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: indeed, Jamaican, that is to say brine-y, olive-y, slightly tarry, partly burnt, with some rotting bananas yet again, whiffs of nail polish, and some cane juice. No monster this time, let’s call it a gentler typical Jamaican. Sometimes you need peace… Mouth: very good, perhaps a tad earthier than other petroly Jamaicans, and perhaps a notch sweeter/rounder as well. Banana cake sprinkled with liquorice liqueur and seawater. But who would do that? Finish: rather long, rather salty, and beautifully cane-y. Tarry aftertaste. Comments: bang for your buck Jamaican. If you’re a whisky drinker and never tried any proper Jamaican rum, this may be for you. SGP:453 - 87 points.

Oh Jamaica!

New Yarmouth 12 yo 2005/2017 (55%, Compagnie des Indes, Jamaica, cask #JNY17, 319 bottles)

New Yarmouth 12 yo 2005/2017 (55%, Compagnie des Indes, Jamaica, cask #JNY17, 319 bottles) Three stars and a half A new name to me! As I understand it, but I may well be wrong, New Yarmouth is the name of the sugar estate that shelters Clarendon/Monymusk distillery. Which suggests that this might actually be Monymusk. Not too sure, I’m no rum expert… Colour: white wine. Nose: smoked cardboard! Very different from the brinier Worthy Park or Hampden, rather sootier, partly mouldy, with whiffs of old clothes and of that old petrol can in a corner of the garage. With water: old black olives and wood varnish, plus old machine grease. Mouth (neat): extreme and strange. Bitter, with notes of smoked artichokes (should anyone ever try to do that), but also fruity, with of unexpected notes some strawberry jam and crushed bananas. There’s quite some varnish too. With water: gets rather acetic, while the strawberries are still sitting there. Strawberry vinegar, does that exist? I know of raspberry vinegar… Finish: long, on black tapenade and cardboard. Notes of mezcal in the aftertaste. Comments: that’s what’s great with Compagnie des Indes, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a boring rum of theirs. SGP:462 - 84 points.

Update : New Yarmouth is the High Ester distillery within the Appelton group (thanks Kenneth!)

Oh, speaking of mezcal…

Paranubes Rum (54%, OB, Mexico, 2017)

Paranubes Rum (54%, OB, Mexico, 2017) Four stars and a half That’s right, some rum from Oaxaca, Mexico, where they usually make all those great mezcals. What’s more, this is meant to be agricole-style rum, so made out of sugarcane juice instead of molasses. Let’s see what happens… Colour: white. So, unaged, or aged in inert containers. Nose: oh the purity of this! Of course you cannot not think of mezcal, and indeed we’re approaching those famous clairins/klérins from Haiti. This is right up my alley, totally distillate-driven (not kiddin’, S.?) and perfectly vegetable-y, with asparagus, capers, olives, and indeed sugarcane juice. A discreet smokiness in the background (burning seaweed on a beach). So far, so good… With water: gets more petroly, more acrid, and more on capers. Pickled onions, perhaps… Mouth (neat): hurray, a new flavour! It’s not easy to describe, perhaps fermenting bananas plus mango jam? There is some sweetness, and even a little sugar, in fact… Honey? The rest is perfectly herbal and grassy, with touches of green beans and indeed, asparagus. Dare I add ‘agave’? With water: excellent! What a lovely spirit, with this immaculate dirtiness (right, S.), this earth, olives, sweet nuts, grapefruits… Finish: long, rather on salted bananas covered with tar liqueur. Comments: I’m a fan. We’ve also known artisanal cachaças that were a bit like this. SGP:562 - 88 points.

Very happy with this wee session, I have to say!

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December 2, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
More whisky couplets
Now that the madness of Jerez is out the way we can get back to some good, old, workmanlike tastings. That is until I head off to Taiwan, Singapore and Japan this week. Which will no doubt involve further madness. But, for now, some more assorted pairings...

 

Glen Garioch 21 yo 1993/2015 (57.0%, Berry Brothers for Germany, cask 781) Glen Garioch 21 yo 1993/2015 (57.0%, Berry Brothers for Germany, cask 781) Colour: Light amber. Nose: A hotbed of straw, earth, muesli and olive oil. Some shredded wheat, some cereals, green fruits, damson jam, a little camphor. Rather excellent and very lovely in other words. With time some Darjeeling tea, a few ointments and some aged apple brandy. With water: a leafy and earthy profile emerges with some notes of mushroom powder, turmeric and crushed ferns. Mouth: Ginger bread, milk chocolate, banana loaf, many bready notes and savoury aspects such as nuts and toasted seeds. A light waxiness and some lightly herbal notes as well come through. With water: more tea notes, a little coconut, some rosewater and a slightly mineral edge. Finish: Long and bready with some touches of mead and camphor. Comments: Full bodied and very good mid-aged Glen Garioch by Berry Bros. SGP: 441 - 87 points.  

 

Glen Garioch 24 yo 1990/2015 (55.5%, Dewar Rattray for Alba Import, Germany, Hogshead, #7947) Glen Garioch 24 yo 1990/2015 (55.5%, Dewar Rattray for Alba Import, Germany, Hogshead, #7947) Colour: Gold. Nose: This one is lighter and more honeyed. Some aged mead, pollen and wildflowers with gorse, coconut, a few dried herbs. There’s also a nice meaty and spicy combination as well with a little time. Some background suggestions of peat as well. With water: some softer green fruits and notes of melon, guava and some grape must. Mouth: Big, emphatic, oily, delicately peaty and rather waxy with these big notes of hessian, olive oil, tar liqueur and caraway. More wood spices, green fruits and some black pepper. Great stuff! With water: a bit nuttier and sootier. More lanolin, camphor, resins and waxes. Finish: Long and earthy with waxes, sooty phenolics, some more greenery and a white pepper bite. Comments: 1990 seems to really have been something pretty decent at Glen Garioch. This one was great. SGP: 443 - 90 points.  

 

Bunnahabhain 31 yo 1976/2008 (48.1%, Murray McDavid Mission, Fino sherry casks, 1134 bottles) Bunnahabhain 31 yo 1976/2008 (48.1%, Murray McDavid Mission, Fino sherry casks, 1134 bottles) Since our recent Jerez trip I think all of our minds were somewhat expanded and flabbergasted by what real sherry casks actually are/were compared to the seasoned types they predominantly create for the whisky industry today in Jerez and its adjacent regions. This being from the 1970s though it’s probably from ‘authentic’ solera casks. Lets see... Colour: White wine. Nose: It’s a soft and very fresh and expressive one. Lots of green, garden and white stone fruits. Some seashore, a little nuttiness, a little of Bunnahabhain’s usual honeyed sinew and some very lovely mineral notes of wet rock, gravel and hessian. Simplistic but in a rather beautiful way. Mouth: Clean, sharp and with a nice, buoyant fruitiness. A little white pepper and wood spice keeps things lively. There are some saline suggestions of fino but really it’s the distillate talking most of the way here. Some sandalwood in there as well as a little heathery note. Something I’ll never complain about in any whisky. Some lanolin, lamp oil and tea tree oil along side some greener notes of fresh herbs such as parsley and maybe a little dill. Still quite mineral. Finish: A good length. More drying and with a bit of citrus rind. Some green tea perhaps and a rubbed mint leaf or two. Comments: Very fine old Bunna. Not stellar but eminently drinkable. A bottle to quaff with pals on the pier on a sunny afternoon. SGP: 421 - 88 points.  

 

Bunnahabhain 31 yo 1976/2008 (47.0%, Murray McDavid Mission, Oloroso sherry casks, 1025 bottles) Bunnahabhain 31 yo 1976/2008 (47.0%, Murray McDavid Mission, Oloroso sherry casks, 1025 bottles) Lets see if the Oloroso can beat the Fino... Colour: Bronze. Nose: This is indeed some old school oloroso sherry cask. All dates, earth, tobacco, fig compote and these rather lovely mingling notes of fresh breads and older balsamico. Some sticky raisins and rather meaty / leathery edge emerging. Thankfully the Bunna character remains pretty well intact, something not too surprising given how well Bunna and sherry tend to meld together. Goes on with some ripe cherries, a little fig chutney and a little walnut liqueur. Mouth: Resinous, earthy and clean. With a deep and well integrated sherry character. Some rancio and a little frying bacon which lends a crisp saline note. Then veers back towards sweetness with more dark fruits and some wood spice and light tannic aspects. Some milk chocolate, a bit of eucalyptus and mint and some fresh filter coffee as well. Finish: Long and full of earthy and spicy dryness. Some notes of aged pinot noir and a camphory side as well. Quite lovely. Comments: I think it edges the Fino by a point or so. It’s not quite 90 material but we’re flying pretty high. Not a dram you’d kick out of bed in a hurry! SGP: 431 - 89 points.  

 

Bowmore 11 yo ‘Feis Ile 2017’ (53.8%, OB, Sherry & Wine casks, 2000 bottles) Bowmore 11 yo ‘Feis Ile 2017’ (53.8%, OB, Sherry & Wine casks, 2000 bottles) Sherry and wine, hmmm... Colour: Amber. Nose: Fishy, but in a good way. Quite a lot of kippers, smoked and peppered mackerel and mussels in brine. Beneath that there’s also quite a lot of pencil shavings as well though, some fresh sea salt, cullen skink, ink, motor oil, cherry heering, maybe a little sawdust as well. Quite a curious nose, one in which there’s more than a hint of active wood tech. With water: some saltwater and beach sand with a whiff of warm bluetack in the background. Mouth: Ok, those woody notes on the nose are back but they’re far more astringent on the palate. There’s an aggressive green peppercorn note with brine, some asparagus, a few more oak shavings, a sprig of thyme, some iodine. The peat and coastal aspects are there but they flicker between purity and puzzlement. There’s some jammy red fruit as well which may be from the wine component. With water: feels a bit flabby with water now. Somewhat disjointed and a tad too harsh. Finish: Medium length. But the peat and seashore aspects fall away to leave more of these wood glue and sawdust notes. Comments: As you can probably tell, I’m not really a fan of this one. Although, I know other people thought it was pretty great. I just find this combination of overactive wood with wine just kind of pointless when the natural Bowmore distillate at this sort of age is terrific. Bowmore, why don’t you just do a plain oak matured 11 year old next year? What have you got to lose? You’ll still sell it all! SGP: 336 - 77 points.  

 

Bowmore 2000/2016 (56.1%, Riegger’s Selection, Bourbon, cask#800115, 236 bottles) Bowmore 2000/2016 (56.1%, Riegger’s Selection, Bourbon, cask#800115, 236 bottles) Colour: Pale gold. Nose: A different world to the OB. This is soft peat that twists along a calm seashore. Then subtle fruits work their way in: banana, papaya and kiwi before a few wee medical tinctures. Becomes increasingly tropical with time. A few notes of dried mango slices and a little bit of lychee to boot. Really pretty marvellous! Also some mineralic notes such as wet beach pebble and then ointment and gauze. Maybe some smouldering rosemary wood as well. With water: The fruits are tamed a little by dried herbs, sandalwood and pin sharp coastal swoosh. Mouth: An earthy peat at first but gives way quickly to more tropical fruits, smoked tea, brine, ointment, mercurochrome, orange blossom and lemon rind. With water: some frying pancetta, a lean saline aspect and even a hint of passion fruit. Classical, pure and brilliant. Finish: Long and lemony with some ash, medicine, seashore complexity and a bit of lingering fruit. Comments: Leaves the OB in the dust. Seriously, distillery, you have these casks aplenty, do something with them and stop spoiling them with wine nonsense! (please.xxx) SGP: 536 - 90 points.  

 

I know we said ‘pairs’, but if you can’t break your own rules on Whiskyfun then where can you...?  

 

Bowmore 1973/1998 25 yo (51.2%, Blackadder, cask #3174) Bowmore 1973/1998 25 yo (51.2%, Blackadder, cask #3174) Colour: Light gold. Nose: Sharp and coastal with rather a lot of lemon and citrus notes. Salty, preserved lemons, citrus rind and then some seashore, dried kelp and some chalk and aspirin. Rather a chiselled and slightly austere example without the usual (hoped for?) exuberant fruitiness. Goes on with a few medical tinctures, some seawater, a little hessian and perhaps a little grassy, olive oil note. With water: This austerity levels out rather nicely with water. More seagreens, seashore, some smoked sea salt (lots of sea, you see?), also a more obvious, earthy and herbal peatiness which is very pleasant. Mouth: A little more ‘easy’ than the nose. More soft fruity notes such as fresh tangerine and orange cake. Also bergamot and lapsang souchong, banana bread, an elegant and earthy peatiness and some mineral and herbal liqueur notes. Some bandages and embrocations as well as the medical side starts to get a little louder. With water: not as much traction on the palate with water as on the nose. Still rather dry, citrusy, mineral and elegant though. Highly drinkable but not ueber complex I’d say. Finish: An echoing and gentle bonfire smokiness with dried herbs and more minerals, hessian and bandages. Maybe even a little wax. Comments: A very fine dram, but not particularly ‘Bowmore’ unfortunately. Water works well on the nose and overall it’s a very lovely, slightly old school Islay whisky. But I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t hoped for a little more given the pedigree... SGP: 436 - 89 points.  

 

Springbank 21 yo ‘pear shape’ (43%, OB, Italian import, early 1970s) Springbank 21 yo ‘pear shape’ (43%, OB, Italian import, early 1970s) I think there are multiple versions of this bottling as I’ve seen some slightly darker vattings and varying scores/opinions over the years... Colour: Straw. Nose: Holy moly! This is old Chartreuse, seriously! A huge, fat mix of herbs, liqueurs, caraway and a few medical notes such as elastoplast and various ointments. Some tertiary notes of wax, hessian, various lightly toasted cereals and seeds and then some mineral oil. Maybe a few apple notes such as young Calvados as well. Pure, elegant and utterly perfect! Mouth: Gah! Amazing distillate from dead wood at a perfect age. You just cannot improve on this. A whole seashore of minerals, sandalwood, some light ashy notes, a whole flagon of 19th century Chartreuse juane and wink of peat in the background. All manner of dried herbs, some very light spices, some tar resin and a hint of gentian root. Just AMAZING! And all at 43% as well! Finish: Long, lingering and beautiful. Full of resinous, quivering herbs, fruits and oils. Some quince jelly, a phenol or two and handful of wet beach pebbles. Perfection! Comments: What can you really say about such old glories. For starters it does seem like there are probably different versions of this, evidently the paler the better. This is totally naked Springbank distilled in the early 1950s. No one should be allowed to start a distillery until they have tasted and understood such whiskies. SGP: 453 - 94 points.  

 

Springbank 12 yo ‘Cask Strength’ (57.6, OB, rotation 1994)

Springbank 12 yo ‘Cask Strength’ (57.6, OB, rotation 1994) A rare full strength version of the 12yo from the 1990s (the rotation stamp is on the rear of the label). Not to be confused with the legendary 100 proofs. Colour: White wine. Nose: Fatter and more austere than the 21, which was to be expected to be honest. A muscular and rather chiselled profile with lots of earth, some wax, a little hessian, plenty seashore character and some rubbed lemon skins. Becomes very mineral with many of these flinty and wet rock notes. Some sheep’s wool, a little lime zest and perhaps a dried apricot or two. With water: gets leafier and greener with water. Some grassiness, a touch of chamomile, some ink and a bit of chalk. Mouth: Continued this fat, waxy and somewhat austere theme. Maybe a tad brutal in fact. White fruits, some wild flowers, a little pollen and again and rather all-encompassing coastal quality. With water: sunflower oil, a saline parma ham note and a few green and black olives in brine. Powerful stuff! Finish: Long and lemony with big salty notes, a few more white fruits and a resurgent waxy and seashore note. Pretty uncompromising really. Comments: A serious Springbank for serious sessions. Probably suitable for having while climbing a mountain or cleaning a U-boat, or for chiselling plaque off your teeth. Recommended by dentists! SGP: 442 - 88 points.

 

 

(Many thanks to Dirk, Enrico, KC, Chris and the Thompson brethren.)  

 

 

December 1, 2017


Whiskyfun
Whiskyfun fav of the month

November 2017

Favourite recent bottling:
Speyside Region 43 yo 1973/2017 (46.5%, Liquid Treasures, sherry butt, cask #9) - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Macallan-Glenlivet 29 yo 1965/1994 (49%, Signatory Vintage, cask #1058, 256 bottles) - WF 93

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #11343, 504 bottles) - WF 91

Favourite malternative:
Neisson 2005/2014 (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, cask #11169) - WF 90


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