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Serge whiskyfun

 

Whiskies 15,900
Other spirits 2,123
Angus 1,275

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (94)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
21)
Banff (5
2)
Ben Nevis (1
98)
Ben Wyvis
(3)
Benriach (1
90)
Benrinnes (
93)
Benromach (
71)
Bladnoch (
84)
Blair Athol (
8
9)
Bowmore (5
48)
Braes of Glenlivet (4
6)
Brora (1
34)
Bruichladdich (309)
Bunnahabhain (3
61)

Dailuaine (68)
Dallas Dhu (41)
Dalmore (1
26)
Dalwhinnie (38)
Deanston (
51)
Dufftown (5
5)

Edradour (85)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
65)
Laphroaig (4
70)
Ledaig (1
35)
Linkwood (1
63)
Littlemill (1
24)
Loch Lomond (
76)
Lochside (69)
Longmorn (2
31)
Longrow (7
5)

Macallan (311)
Macduff (
89)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
47)
Millburn (2
4)
Miltonduff (
105)
Mortlach (206)
Mosstowie (2
2)
Scapa (47)
Speyburn (
44)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (3
90)
St-Magdalene (5
4)
Strathisla (
106)
Strathmill (
41)

 
 
Pete and Jack



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March 1 - 2
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2014
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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
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2013
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
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2012
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
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August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
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2011
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
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1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
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February 1 - 2
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2010
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
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2009
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1 - 2
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October
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March 1 - 2
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2008
Music Awards
December
1 - 2 - 3
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
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2007
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
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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

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Disclaimer
 

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

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

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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
Angus MacRaild
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November 24, 2020


Whiskyfun

Bag of Brackla

Just a small bunch…

Royal Brackla 2007/2019 (46%, Scyfion Choice, Banyuls finish, 150 bottles)

Royal Brackla 2007/2019 (46%, Scyfion Choice, Banyuls finish, 150 bottles) Three stars
Banyuls is a Vin Doux Naturel (VDN) from the South of France, not far from the Spanish border on the east side (north of Barcelona, to give you an idea). A Vin Doux Naturel is made more or less like Port, they add eau-de-vie to the must to stop fermentation, thus keeping some natural sugars. Doux means sweet. Colour: gold with salmony hues. Nose: you do really feel the sweet wine, with notes of apricots and raisins.  A little menthol, bay leaves and a little liquorice, as well as touches of milk chocolate and fudge. A tad on the ‘prem-mix’ side but not unpleasant at all.

Mouth: the spices are in the front, with cloves and juniper, then we have burnt raisins and a little paraffin, bordering soap at times. But no big deal, the rest is smooth and raisiny. Finish: medium, more winey. Grape pips, grapes, lees. Comments: I’ve tried a few malts finished in those VDNs, especially a Laphroaig that was, well, pretty uncertain. I believe this little Brackla fared rather better.
SGP:651 - 82 points.



Banyuls
"No sodas in my Banyuls." An interesting French ad for Banyuls from the 1980s. Pretty suicidal if you ask me, but rather authentic.

 

 

 

Royal Brackla 13 yo 2007/2020 (48%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist Collective, first fill sherry butt, 1476 bottles)

Royal Brackla 13 yo 2007/2020 (48%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist Collective, first fill sherry butt, 1476 bottles)
This one from two butts. Colour: brown amber. Nose: we’re really on fudge and toffee, plus walnut cake and some Mars bars this time. Whether those Mars bars had been deep fried or not remains to be seen… Mouth: some spices from the oak (cinnamon, curry) and an obvious leafiness (peach and cherry leaves, that’s the oak too) at first, then rounder, more chocolaty and fudge-y notes, a touch of lavender (sweets), some tarte tatin, the expected walnuts, some apricot tatin, which is like tarte tatin, except that you would use apricots instead of apples. Quite some anise-flavoured liquorice too. Finish: medium, more on burnt cakes, Demerara sugar and milk caramel. Comments: very pleasant, very good, goes down extremely well at 48% vol.
SGP:641 - 85 points.

 

 

 

Perhaps some more ‘natural’ Bracklas?

Royal Brackla 10 yo 2008/2019 (56.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Royal Brackla 10 yo 2008/2019 (56.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: exactly the opposite, that is to say a large bucket full of ripe apples, acacia honey, apple juice, brioche dough, buckwheat, a little vanilla, a little mint, a little sourdough. Truly malt whisky au naturel. With water: barley water, cider, tangerines, quinces, cassata… What’s not to enjoy? Mouth (neat): Very good! Little sugar eggs for Easter, fruit drops, icing sugar, tonic water, Schweppes, white pepper, limoncello. With water: oh even more little easter eggs! Fruit liqueurs, orange, lemon, mandarin, williams pears… You really have to be careful, this one goes down like Franz Klammer on the Lauberhorn. Finish: medium, fresh, on sweet barley and orchard fruits. And citrus. Comments: fresh, joyful and just very, very good. Malt whisky au naturel indeed.
SGP:641 - 87 points.

That one called for more from the same breed…

Royal Brackla 12 yo 2006/2019 (57.37%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 1050 bottles)

Royal Brackla 12 yo 2006/2019 (57.37%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 1050 bottles) Four stars and a half
This baby from four (4) hogsheads. Colour: white wine. Nose: similar aromas at first, but there’s also a wee smokiness, as if one cask – or more - had previously harboured a peater. That gives it a slightly medicinal edge, not unpleasant at all, with a little feeling of ‘baby Ardmore’. With water: really nice, coastal, with some oils and even waxes. Perhaps a little un-Brackla indeed, but I doubt this will go to court. Mouth (neat): excellent, slightly smoky once again, tart, peppery, very lemony, fizzy, Schweppes-y. You would be forgiven for believing this is Ben Nevis, to give you an example. With water: further improves. Hold on, Springbank wood? Finish: long, greatly bitterish, waxy, mineral… Comments: this is one mysterious Brackla. Right up my alley! How do you write ‘Brackla’?
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Hasta la vista.

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

 

November 23, 2020


Whiskyfun

Another Bowmore frenzy

We haven’t done that since… Well, at least six months. A small load of well-behaved Bowmores – meaning that we’ll carefully avoid any ‘flavoured’ OBs. No worries, we’ll manage… But we’ll select them randomly, because that’s funnier (although trickier)…

 

 

 

Bowmore 17 yo 2002/2020 (54.9%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind and Wave)

Bowmore 17 yo 2002/2020 (54.9%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind and Wave)
Colour: white wine. Nose: rather more medicinal than other recent Bowmores, more on flints as well, coal, old stove, metal polish old toolbox, ashes… I do find this nose very classy this far – well I have to, as the price lies north of 350€. But we never taste price tags… With water: oh, shoe polish and the engine of an old Jaguar! That inline 6-cylinder dual overhead camshaft stuff, for example. Mouth (neat): nah, this is brilliant I’m afraid. I’d have loved to slam it (given the price) but let’s be honest, it’s perfect. Waxes, kippers, touches of incense, mangos, ashes, oysters, seawater, marzipan, plasticine… etcetera. With water: grand! Passion fruits and fresh mint coming out. Camphor and eucalyptus too. Even more seawater. Finish: rather long and stunningly briny. A little barley syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: some superlative middle-aged Bowmore that you won’t find within the official range, I’m afraid. Why is another question, but kudos to the actual distillers!
SGP:555 - 91 points.

 

 

Too fast, we’re too fast. Not our fault, though…

Bowmore 30 yo (58%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Edition #3, oloroso, 256 bottles, 2020)

Bowmore 30 yo (58%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Edition #3, oloroso, 256 bottles, 2020) Five stars
Hope it’s a 1990, and not a 1988 or 1989. Now it’s ex-oloroso, so any whacky notes may have been smoothened out. What’s more, remember what Alexander Fleming used to claim, “If penicillin can cure those that are ill, Spanish sherry can bring the dead back to life." Colour: gold. Nose: very little lavender or Parma violets if any at this point, so I say ‘hurray!’ Rather some pretty tight and tense coastal citrusness, with a large plate of oysters and a lot of lemons. Seawater, clams, kelp, olive brine, a little paper pulp, yoghurt, gentian roots… There sure isn’t anything not to like in here. This far. With water: wet dogs (we’re sorry as always, dogs) and raw wool. Which, in my book, is extremely Bowmore. Mouth (neat): absolutely excellent, on green pepper, oysters, passion fruits, lemons, grapefruits… You see. With water: just high-class. Mango jam, a touch of caramel, then tar, tobacco, clams, seawater, olive oil, riesling… Finish: quite long, perfect, saltier again. A drop of grappa over big fat oysters. Comments: probably 1990, but it’s true that not all 1989s were FWP-ised anyway. I seem to have missed the sherry, though. No big deal, this is perfect Bowmore again.
SGP:656 - 91 points.

It doesn’t look like we’re decelerating, are we… So it’s too early for the OBs…

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2020 (55.2%, North Star Spirits, hogshead, 190 bottles)

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2020 (55.2%, North Star Spirits, hogshead, 190 bottles) Five stars
Everyone knows that those were good vintages. Colour: straw. Nose: holy Molly, this has more mangos than there are on a mango tree in Mango city. Plus smoked breads and the obligatory oysters. Wow. With water: iodine, bandages, camphor, embrocations, patchouli, angelica, old tweed, wool. Visiting the Islay Woollen Mill – is the funny old gentleman still there? This little Bowmore got more complex, and that’s just lovely. Mouth (neat): just impeccable. Grapefruits, mango juice, mercurochrome, seawater, crab cake. With water: it takes water very well, as do most Bowmores unless they have been tortured with funny woods. Some chocolate coming out, perhaps a little coffee? Finish: go get a bottle if you can find one. Comments: why are you still here?
SGP:646 - 90 points.

Crikey, looks like we won’t manage to bring all this down…

Bowmore 16 yo 2003/2019 (56.6%, Chieftain’s for Or Sileis, Taiwan, barrel, cask #79, 213 bottles)

Bowmore 16 yo 2003/2019 (56.6%, Chieftain’s for Or Sileis, Taiwan, barrel, cask #79, 213 bottles) Five stars
Love it that our friends in Taiwan would have put dragons back onto a Bowmore label. Is that a sea dragon? Colour: light gold. Nose: ah, this is younger and rougher, with a little more ethanol and varnish. Well, barely. Other than that, it’s a slightly thicker Bowmore, with more vanilla, fudge, syrups and cakes. Now the salted liquorice behind all that keeps it very Bowmore-y. With water: oh perfect. Damp magazines and newspapers on your doorstep, coal, shoe polish, brake pads, and just ink. Mouth (neat): I’m afraid this is excellent too. A little green chartreuse (the heavier one) and a few raisins that would have rather suggested sweet sherry. An yet it is a barrel. With water: little liqueurs and some exquisite salty crystallised fruits. A rather marvellous sweet and salty style here, this is just first-rate. Finish: could you smoke pâtes de fruit? Much more salt in the aftertaste – but remember, there’s no salt in whisky. Comments: I’m feeling miserable, I just couldn’t find a baddish Bowmore so far. Not that we must, mind you.
SGP:646 - 90 points.

Okay, let’s resort to drastic measures…

Bowmore ‘Vault Edition’ (50.1%, OB, Second Release, 2019)

Bowmore ‘Vault Edition’ (50.1%, OB, Second Release, 2019) Three stars and a half
I should have tried this earlier, agreed, but the First Release had been only okayish ‘plus’ in my book (WF 81). Now they have this newer one at Amazon’s, not a very good sign in my book. Colour: gold. Nose: burnt caramel and metal polish, some sour woods, corn syrup, pu-her tea, lapsang souchong and tar mints. Ah, but this is pretty nice, I think! I was hoping for a dud, seriously (I mean, seriously!) With water: copper coins and grappa. Mouth (neat): but yes! Smoked and salted chocolate and marmalade, oak, Spanish ham, salted raisins, walnuts… And it’s not even too heavy, although it would tend to get a little drying and bitter. Let’s see… With water: it swims pretty badly, careful! Do not go down to below 45% please, or you’ll unearth stale chocolate and tea plus sour brine. It remains rather good at 48.  Finish: long and salty, with notes of some kind of metallic Bull Dog sauce. Some Tabasco in the aftertaste – I am not joking. Comments: I shouldn’t have added any water, that wrecked it on the palate. What’s sure is that it’s better, I think, than the first release.
SGP:465 - 84 points.

Hey, we did it! So I think we’re ready for another OB…

Bowmore 25 yo (43%, OB, +/-2019)

Bowmore 25 yo (43%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars
Oh no, they have this one too on Amazon! Let’s try to behave as if that was not the case and try to dissipate any bad smells; now I would understand that those nasty tax-evaders would have had Bell’s worst swill, but Bowmore 25? Frankly, that stinks, Bowmore! Colour: amber. Nose: let’s get Amazon out of our head… (deep breath)… right, it’s light, a little uncertain, wishy-washy, mentholy (not in a good way), and kind of stale. The last 25 I had tried had been weak as well (WF 78) but I had hoped they would have improved the stuff. Now, the fact that they had to put it on Amazon speaks volumes. Mouth: oh for god’s sake no. Weak, caramelly, on bad industrial chocolate and Twinning’s worst black tea. Finish: medium, salty, sour, with odd perfume-y notes, as if they had thrown some of those nasty 1980s batches into the vatting tanks. Comments: it just kills me. I’m sad that this poor baby crossed my humble path, but let’s not be too harsh. After all, this is a 25 years old Bowmore, and Bowmore is Bowmore.
SGP:364 - 72 points.

Good, looks like we managed to curb our enthusiasm…

Bowmore 20 yo 2000/2020 (51.7%, WhiskySponge, 172 bottles)

Bowmore 20 yo 2000/2020 (51.7%, WhiskySponge, 172 bottles) Four stars and a half
It’s not surprising that a Sponge would have selected a pretty coastal malt whisky from Signatory’s. Now one worthy question, do sponges grow around the isle of Islay? Do they even grow in Loch Indaal? Colour: straw. Nose: back on track, with more purity, oils, cakes, broken branches, barley and doughs. Seawater too, sunflower oil, ink, samphires… It’s just not very peaty. But peat is so 2000s, is it not. With water: reminds me of some dry Hungarian furmint. Wet flour, grist, plaster, raw wool, fresh bark. Mouth (neat): salty lemon juice, tequila, readymade margarita, seawater, olives and capers, notes of viognier… That’s all fun! With water: please do not add too much water. Leaven, salty dough, salty walnut cake, liquorice wood… Finish: medium, rather on those fermentary notes, porridge, more fruity viognier… Comments: excellent, just not a very smoky Bowmore. Shan’t we call it Bowless, as some good folks are calling the unpeated Ardmores ‘Ardless’? Not an instantly recognisable Bowmore, but the drop is great, as they say in rugby.
SGP:465 - 89 points.

(Gracias, Ryan)

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

 

November 22, 2020


Whiskyfun

Cognac vs armagnac, an alternative malternative session

We’ve had good fun recently with some cognacs and armagnacs, so we’re rather in a brandy mood I have to say. I say let’s have a few more and rather do that un-orthodoxically – meaning at complete random. Except that we’ll first have a little ‘apéro’…

ad

I’ve always loved this strange old ad for armagnac that was stressing the different terroirs. Oh and this is more proof that Man is part of terroir indeed (yes I’m part of that brigade). >>

Gilles Brisson ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, cognac Grande Champagne, +/-2018)

Gilles Brisson ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, cognac Grande Champagne, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
A very affordable and rather widely available little VSOP, integrally made from ugni blanc. It’s labelled as Grande Champagne ‘1er Cru’, but remember the entirety of Grande Champagne is ‘1er Cru’, so nothing superior in any way here. Colour: dark amber. Nose: a fresh and pleasant nose, starting with the usual yellow flowers, preserved peaches, raisins, and maple syrup. Tends to become more honeyed after a while, but some caramelly touches of showing up too. Nice nose, nonetheless, simple and clean. Mouth: good and fresh, on pretty much the same flavours and aromas as on the nose. Once again we’re a wee bit on the caramelly side, I’m finding some café latte too, as well as a good lad of roasted raisins. Finish: medium, rather too sweet now – I mean for me. Really a lot of raisins, molasses and caramel. Comments: very, very nice nose, while the arrival was fine before it all got rather too sweet for this whisky enthusiast.
SGP:751 - 78 points.

Perhaps an aperitive-y armagnac too?..

Comte de Lauvia 21 yo (40%, OB, armagnac, +/-2018)

Comte de Lauvia 21 yo (40%, OB, armagnac, +/-2018) Three stars
I don’t think this house owns any estates, they’re only ‘éleveurs’. This baby should be a blend, as it just says ‘armagnac’. Colour: deep amber. Nose: clearly grassier than the cognac, less aromatic, with rather more coffee, chocolate, pine needles, also some humus, earth, whiffs of glue and varnish, camphor, resin… So we would be rather closer to malt whisky, in a way. Mouth: extremely different from the cognac indeed, harsher (not in a bad way), much, much drier, on more varnish, coffee, chestnuts and walnuts… Were we in Jerez, we could almost say this is an oloroso whereas the cognac was a PX. Almost! Finish: medium, very dry, on more coffee, raw chocolate, walnut wine, pine liqueur, and perhaps just one or three prunes in the aftertaste. Well-aged slivovitz, coffee beans, black tea... Comments: another one that would fetch higher marks at a higher strength. Even 42% would make all the difference.
SGP:361 - 82 points.

Back to cognac…

Fins Bois 2001/2020 ‘Bio’ (50.8%, Grosperrin)

Fins Bois 2001/2020 ‘Bio’ (50.8%, Grosperrin) Five stars
This one’s certified fully organic. I believe this very well reputed house already issued some 2001 bio under various strengths. This one’s very recent… Colour: gold. Nose: as far as cognac goes, this is the opposite to the Brisson, as it is much tighter, yet complex, with a perfect balance between grasses and fruits. I’m finding rather big notes of wild blueberries for starters, which is rather uncommon I believe, then some peaches poached in honey-and-mint sauce, also verbena and woodruff, wormwood even, figs, roses… It’s very subtle, in the old days we would have added that it’s rather on the feminine side. Mouth: firm, luminous, tight and yet complex, with more or less the same aromas as on the nose, plus delicate notes of liquorice. Notes of viognier, really. This one triangulates to perfection and is already very tertiary for its age. But the freshness remains amazing. Finish: long, with these small bits of liquorice spread all over the numerous fresh fruits, flowers and herbs. Some melon skin. Comments: some complex, elegant and rather refreshing middle-aged cognac from Grosperrin’s. Extremely solid aged spirit, heartily recommended.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

We’re too high already (I mean, this session is too high). Let’s try to find a good sparring partner from armagnac… And drop all the ones that were bottled at 40% vol.!

Laberdolive 1993/2018 ‘Domaine de Jaurrey’ (46%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Laberdolive 1993/2018 ‘Domaine de Jaurrey’ (46%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) Three stars and a half
Domaine de Jaurrey does belong to the old-school house Laberdolive, located in the Landes at Labastide d’Armagnac. So not in the Gers. What’s incredible with these houses is that in 2020, they may well own north of 40ha of vines while they wouldn’t even have a website. Not sure we should blame them, having said that. Colour: gold. Nose: the Grosperrin feels bombastic now, as this is a rather shy, dry, rather grassy armagnac that would rather play it on hay, soft herbal teas, dried flowers, apple peel, greengages, fresh bark, just a small white peach, and just a dollop of eucalyptus tea sweetened with light honey. I would have said cognac. Mouth: I would have said cognac once more. Notes of melons and peaches, earl grey, sultanas, just a few spicy touches (saffron, cinnamon) then a little caramel and muscovado sugar. A little nougat too. Finish: short to medium, rather on peelings than on fruit flesh or juices. Keeps showing self-restraint. Comments: very good, but frankly, the Grosperrin was a killer. My bad, I should have waited.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Back to Cognac City…

Vallein-Tercinier XO ‘Bûche de Noël’ (44%, OB for Malternative Belgium, 150 bottles, 2020)

Vallein-Tercinier XO ‘Bûche de Noël’ (44%, OB for Malternative Belgium, 150 bottles, 2020) Four stars and a half
This new blend is said to be 20 years old, more or less. Bûche de Noël means yule log, so we might be too early with this one, but this is Vallein-Tercinier and we are Whiskyfun, capeesh? Colour: amber. Nose: cognac provençal? Funny that I would find liquorice and black olives in this one, a touch of aniseed (there, pastis) as well as almost tons of black nougat. This should count as one of the twelve desserts of Christmas – a Provençal thing indeed. Mouth: a tad gritty at first (crikey, I might have said armagnac), then very chocolaty, with various fruit fillings, prunes perhaps, rum (rum’s not a fruit, S.), some coffee, some praline, more nougat, a little tobacco, and a good glass of middle-aged rancio from Rivesaltes. No, that’s not quite in Provence anymore. Finish: rather long, chocolaty, with raisins and rum. Sultanas, ripe peaches and melons are coming in the aftertaste, together with a little mint. Comments: just excellent, very ‘full’, whatever that means. I’ll keep a few cls for Christmas eve.  
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Armagnac’s turn…

Aurian 1979/2020 (49.6%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, armagnac, 144 bottles)

Aurian 1979/2020 (49.6%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, armagnac, 144 bottles) Four stars
Aurian are located in Condom. This a single cask, so it should stem from one of the region’s ‘Crus’, but it wouldn’t say and is just labelled as ‘armagnac’. Oh well, that’s not what counts… Colour: deep amber. Nose: high varnish at first, which gives it a kind of Jamaican side (actually, between Jamaican rum and bourbon), then pine needles and resins, then the usual stewed fruits, only well-concentrated in the pan. Prunes, raisins… The rather huge pine-y side is sometimes to be found in old armagnacs that have spent a lot of years in wood, like 60, or 70 years. They would usually decant in demijohns before that would happen, but I have to say I’m rather a fan of this style. Water would bring out… olives! Mouth: spectacular and, indeed, very woody. Over the top for sure, but I know a few guys who would just love this. I have to say I’m not totally hostile to this either, provided no one forces me to down more than half a glass at a time. Fir sap, resins, terpenes, glue, heavy liquorice, cedar wood, tapenade… and marmalade! Finish: very long (so careful) and always very piney. Comments: I’m adding a score because I feel I must. If you love this style you’ll find it too low, whilst if you don’t…
SGP:272 - 85 points.

We could go tackle the 1960s and earlier decades, but I think we’ll rather do a few proper ‘old brandies’ sessions for Christmas this year. So let’s remain fresh and young. Cognac’s turn…

Grande Champagne No.80 (57.5%, Grosperrin, +/-2020)

Grande Champagne No.80 (57.5%, Grosperrin, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
Grosperrin’s range isn’t always easy to navigate and I’m not sure the most experienced chicken would find all her chicklets there, but don’t we all enjoy mysteries in spirits? Colour: deep reddish amber. Nose: old balsamico, dried mushrooms, varnish, cocoa, rotting oranges, mocha, pipe tobacco, tamarind, flowers (peonies), whiffs of ylang-ylang (to be found in some Mauritian rums when they don’t bury them under tons of sugar syrups)… In short a darker, perhaps more rustic cognac. I might have said armagnac (come on now…) With water: old magazines, ink, old books, concrete dust, scoria, even shoe polish… Mouth: rustic for sure, even a tad heavy, concentrated, rather mentholy and liquoricy, imagine it would even speak with the massive Aurian 1979. So big boy cognac, a tad acrid and pungent in truth, but indeed, the ABV is high. So with water: gets a little meatier. Soups, bouillons, bitter herbs, thyme and rosemary, plasticine… Indeed we’re almost in old malt whisky territory. Finish: long, still rustic, a little bitter, waxy… Green crude chocolate… Comments: I like it but it’s clearly for your flasque. I mean, flask. I believe the Fins Bois 2001 was on another planet.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

It's getting complicated, with these cognacs that taste like armagnacs, and conversely. Good, one more armagnac before we draw the curtains…

Domaine de Baraillon 1985/2018 (46%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine de Baraillon 1985/2018 (46%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) Five stars
I had tried an earlier 1985 by Baraillon and thought it was just stunning (WF 92). Now I’m about to send a letter to Frau Von der Leyen to complain about the fact that it appears that the Belgians seem to have built a secret pipeline that runs from Lannemaignan (where Baraillon are located) to Brussels while the French weren’t watching. Having said that, in Alsace we’re good friends with the Belgians, so I may decide to rather dispose of that most official letter, we’ll see… Colour: amber. Nose: where does this fantastic meatiness come from? Liquorice, Spanish ham, Bull Dog sauce, honey-glazed spareribs, green walnuts, high-class-super-duper Manzanilla, new box of Cuban cigars, cedar wood, old vinegars, furniture polish… And that thing that just always kills anything else in my book: olives. Impressive nose that reminds me of some wartime malt whiskies, Macallan, Mortlach… Mouth: metalogical aged spirit, salty, meaty, sour, vinegary, tobacco-y, acetic… With old and fresh walnuts, raw chocolate, chen-pi, green coffee, pu-her, hoisin sauce… There’s clearly something Asian here. I suppose some brandy exegetes would state that this is a little flawed, but from a whisky drinker’s POV, I would certainly disagree. Finish: rather long and pretty fermentary. More hoisin. Absent-minded quaffers would probably believe they just downed half a pint of amontillado. Comments: I’m not totally sure it’s good spirit, it’s just that it is exactly the kind of profile that I like best. Remember, individual opinions only, but didn’t Plato say that opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance? (says Facebook).
SGP:372 - 93 points.

So, between cognac or armagnac, who won, you may ask? Well we won, my friend!

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

 

November 21, 2020


Whiskyfun

Another loco hotchpotch tasting around the world
(today Germany, Italy, France, UK, Switzerland and Taiwan)

These are strange spirits, which sometimes reach my doorstep and, well, I put them into boxes until some kind of heavenly sign tells me I should open one and try what’s inside, randomly. Let’s see what we have today… And please note that this is done in a ‘solera’ fashion, meaning that not all spirits will be tasted within the very same sessions. We’re no fools.

Sechsämtertropfen (35%, OB, Germany, +/-1980?)

Sechsämtertropfen (35%, OB, Germany, +/-1980?) Three stars
Right, this is some ‘würziger halbbitter’ from Wunsiedel in Sechsämterland, which is located in Upper-Franconia, in the north of Bavaria. It’s said that this is rich in sorb berries, which is obviously pretty cool. I’ve seen on the Internet that they now bottle it at 33% vol., whilst this was still a 35%. version. Aren’t they cutting corners and counting beans everywhere in the booze world? Having said that, I don’t know what to expect… Colour: red amber. Nose: I’ll say it, I’m sometimes a sucker for old herb liqueurs, as long as they aren’t too sweet. This one is full of caraway and fennel seeds, also thyme, liquorice, and perhaps a little coffee but that may be my mind playing tricks because of the colour. Anyway, I really enjoy these kinds of noses,  and remember old bottles of liqueur can age particularly well. Ask a talented mixologist! Mouth: right, it is sweet, but never quite cloying, and certainly very complex, rather more on the fruity side (pineapple?) We’re finding the usual suspects yet again, caraway, aniseed, rosemary, liquorice, mint… I really find this good, and rather more to my liking that that famous brand that starts with Jäger and ends with meister. Now older bottles of Jäger may be better than current ones too. No I cannot remember because in the old days, we would never start to tackle Jägermeister when not completely drunk already. I mean, come on, that was more than forty years ago … Finish: long, without that feeling of having to brush your teeth a.s.a.p. Comments: very good surprise, a really fine ‘Tropfen’ (drop).
SGP:770 - 80 points.

Haselnuss Slyrsfass (42%, OB, Lantenhammer, Germany, +/-2015)

Haselnuss Slyrsfass (42%, OB, Lantenhammer, Germany, +/-2015)
A funny bottle that, with a few Malt Maniacs, we gathered at the Slyrs distillery in Bavaria a few years back. Apparently, they roast and crush some Turkish hazelnuts, let them macerate in neutral alcohol for twenty days, redistil in a pot-still, mature in their typical huge stoneware jars for one year, then transfer the result in ex-Slyrs whisky casks for a few more months, and finally reduce and bottle. Let’s see if that works… Colour: white wine. Nose: it is both a little ethanoly and clearly on hazelnuts, with some rooty and earthy touches. There are even echoes of gentian, while we’re extremely far from those very heady hazelnut liqueurs that you’ll find in supermarkets or tourist shops. The jury’s still out… Mouth: a little sugary and spirity at first, and actually rather vodka-y. I don’t find the hazelnuts very active here, it’s all a little too raw and sweet for me. Finish: short, a little sugary, with a slightly cloying aftertaste. Comments: no ‘liquid praline’ here, but this was an early batch, I would guess they’ve improved the recipe since back then. The hazelnuts remained discreet.
SGP:520 - 55 points.

Stoneware?...

Anfora (43%, OB, Marzadro, Grappa, +/-2019)

Anfora (43%, OB, Marzadro, Grappa, +/-2019) Two stars
This grappa from Trentin was finished in terracotta, which is supposed to generate twice as much micro-oxygenation than barrels. A shame that that would be forbidden with Scotch whisky, I’d love to see some Clynelish or Springbank being matured in earthenware. I would do a joint venture, call them vodka if needed or possible, and name them Clynebank and Springlish. Good idea, no?  Colour: white. Nose: well, it’s a good grappa it seems. Grapes, touches of lees and crushed stems, sour cherries perhaps… A fine nose. Mouth: thick, as if a little sugar had been added, or even glycerine, but that may come from the amphoras, not too sure. Otherwise a sweet, slightly muscaty style, not very deep, but not unpleasant either. Finish: medium, rather fruity. Comments: much easier and rounder than good marcs. A fine little drop but I would think it rather needs ice-cold temperatures.  
SGP:720 - 70 points.

La Vieille Prune ‘Réserve de la Maison’ (42%, OB, Louis Roques, +/-2015)

La Vieille Prune ‘Réserve de la Maison’ (42%, OB, Louis Roques, +/-2015) Three stars
This stems from Souillac, capital city of ‘prune’, a.k.a. damson plum eau-de-vie. Old prunes have their dedicated aficionados, but sadly, many are sweetened-up, let’s see. Colour: straw. Nose: extremely aromatic, sweet and sour, fermentary and acetic. Big varnish and even bigger acetone, all that within an extremely rough and funky style, reminiscent of a blend of Jamaican rum and Baiju. Or something like that. Mouth: very very good, wacky, funky, unusual, with notes of rotten fruits and Demerara sugar beyond some fruit vinegar and fermented fruit sauce, Bull-Dog style. Very good, really. Finish: long, a tad sweet, really very much on rotting plums, rubber and varnish. Comments: big stuff! If you’re not afraid of dirtier and farmier spirits, you may try to find a wee bottle of this…
SGP:651 - 82 points.

Old Raj 2017/2019 (55%, Cadenhead, rum barrel gin)

Old Raj 2017/2019 (55%, Cadenhead, rum barrel gin)
Good, this is gin matured in an ex-rum barrel that had previously contained some Kilkerran. In short, some kind of matrioshka-spirit, matured for exactly 677 days according to the very honourable makers. Colour: almost white. Nose: gin, tot too soapy this time, and rather on a lot of lemon peel and oil, with only touches of juniper and cologne. I would imagine even people who aren’t English would kind of enjoy this when there’s no Springbank around. With water: no real changes. Mouth (neat): where have I put my wee bottle of 4711? With water: some sugar coming out, juniper, lime, a little basil, Seville oranges, lip balm, cologne indeed… I suppose someone could even swallow this. Finish: medium, sweeter. Comments: I do confirm that I am neither English, nor a gin guy, but if I were one of them, I’m sure I’d rather like this baby. Ha, diplomacy.
SGP:660 - (no score) points.

Absinthe ‘Ça C’en Est’ (51%, clandestine bottling, Switzerland)

Absinthe ‘Ça C’en Est’ (51%, clandestine bottling, Switzerland) Four stars
This was a label that was used by several clandestine absinth makers while that was illegal in Switzerland, so between 1910 and 2005. The ones from Val de Travers have always been legendary. ‘Ça c’en est’ means ‘this is the real deal’. Colour: straw. Nose: wonderful blend of aniseed, fennel seeds, hints of tar, celeriac, natural rubber, a little ink, earth, touch of nail polish… With water: interestingly, water does not exactly make it milky, as ouzo or pastis get when watered down. Now the nose gets much tarrier, tarmacky would I add, with whiffs of diesel oil and brake fluid. Whether that comes from the raw materials or from very ‘artisanal’ distilling methods, I’m not too sure. Mouth (neat): some kind of rootier, earthier and more herbal pastis if you like. Some wormwood of course, aniseed, fennel, sage, eucalyptus, savory leaves, liquorice, mint… I find this very good, but I’m already feeling a little dizzy… I am jesting. With water: not many changes, perhaps a floral side coming out? Finish: long, really a lot on aniseed now. An unexpected salty/rooty touch in the aftertaste, which strives for Dutch salted liquorice. Comments: I haven’t added any sugar, but there sure was a little sweetness in the first place. Great drop if you like anything aniseed, but go find such a bottle these days!
SGP:481 - 85 points.

Gebirgs Enzian (40%, OB, Grassl, gentian, Germany, +/-2015)

Gebirgs Enzian (40%, OB, Grassl, gentian, Germany, +/-2015) Two stars and a half
The Grassl distillery is located in, ach, err, Berchtesgaden, in the Bavarian Alps. Did he like Gentian? Hold on, wasn’t he a teetotaller? Anyway, I am a sucker for gentian eau-de-vie, provided it’s not been sweetened up, like they often do in the Alps. Colour: white. Nose: it’s rather a light one, but the style is clean, very rooty and earthy, pretty medicinal as expected, without too many turnips or celeriac, and just a rather pure gentianness (what’s that, S.?) Mouth: very little sugar if any, hurray, but it is a macerated gentian of course (no pure fermented gentian), so it hasn’t quite got the power of the plant. Having said that, the lemony side and the feeling of crunching a stick of celery are pleasant. A rather good macerated gentian in my book. Finish: good length. Loses focus in the aftertaste (burnt sugar). Comments: I know that not even a tenth of the population likes gentian, which people usually find too medicinal and earthy, but hey, more for us!
SGP:370 - 79 points.

Omar ‘Plum Cask First Batch’ (51%, OB, TTL, Nantou, Taiwan, 700 bottles)

Omar ‘Plum Cask First Batch’ (51%, OB, TTL, Nantou, Taiwan, 700 bottles) Three stars and a half
We already loved several Omars by Taiwan’s Nantou Distillery, but this is something else, as this whisky (because it is whisky) has been finished in green plum liqueur barrels. What we sometimes called a ‘Rotary Club idea’, you know when a maker of this meets the maker of that and they decide to ‘do something together’. Not always for charity, mind you. Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts a little rubbery and sulphury, but once you get past the arrival things do improve, with indeed notes of soft prunes (we’d say greengages) and guavas. Some bready notes from the malt, but it is ‘something else’. With water: similar. Mouth (neat): good, very sweet and rounded, creamy, rather on jams, vanilla, and indeed preserved plums. Once again were reminded of greengages. Touch of honey. With water: water does wonders, and the whiskiness comes out now. Orange cake, apricot jam, gingerbread… All good. Finish: medium, sweet, jammy, rather well constructed. Comments: the thing is, the Scots could not finish one of their whiskies in ‘plum casks’ – well I hope so – which makes this odd one even more interesting. They made it well and certainly not too Frankensteiny.
SGP:641 - 83 points.

While we’re doing odd spirits…

Ava Tahiti ‘Ananas’ (40%, OB, Distillerie Tahiti Moorea, +/-1995)

Ava Tahiti ‘Ananas’ (40%, OB, Distillerie Tahiti Moorea, +/-1995) Two stars
In my experience and according to popular wisdom, it is extremely difficult to distil tropical fruits without coming up with soapy and varnishy spirits, just because they’re too aromatic in the first place. Concentrate something that’s already pretty concentrated and there, you’re blown off the road if you’re not careful. Believe me, I’ve tried to distil mangos… But this is pineapple! Colour: white. Nose: fruity Comté cheese and pears poached in Sauternes, I would say, then indeed some fresher notes of pineapples, with this little steely side. Nicer than I had expected, to be honest. Mouth: a little hot and unprecise at first, then going towards purer notes of cooked pineapples. We’ll never reach fresh fruits mind you, but it’s really not bad. Funny notes of stewed strawberries, perhaps do both fruits share some common molecules? Finish: medium, grassier. Reminiscent of pineapple wine – did you ever try pineapple wine? The aftertaste is a tad grassy and bitter. Comments: pineapples are tricky but the distillers were good. Now they’ve stopped making these quite some years ago.
SGP:451 - 75 points.

Do we say we stop at ten?

Quitte vom Hausgarten (41%, OB, Etter, Switzerland, +/-2019)

Quitte vom Hausgarten (41%, OB, Etter, Switzerland, +/-2019) Three stars
These fine distillers are located in Zug, where the spirits are high and the taxes extremely low. Just saying. Quitte means quince in German, and we do just totally love quince spirit. But last time I made quince myself with my friends, I almost broke the still because quince sticks to the copper and could just suck it in and make the pot implode if you’re not very careful. These eaux-de-vie are matured in steel tanks. Colour: white. Nose: yeah, nice, pure quince, very precise, a tad cologne-y as always, but that’s rather a good sign. It’s either that or burnt notes, which the distillers should avoid at any cost. Mouth: very good, fruity, all on quince and nothing else. That’s the game with eau-de-vie, all you want is fruit purity. Well done, Etter. Finish: medium, pure, perhaps a tad sweet but that’s fine. Notes of pear tarte in the aftertaste, which is totally normal. Comments: yep, good quince. I would have liked it even better without the sugary touch, but to be honest, almost all distillers in Mitteleuropa are adding a little sugar to their eaux-de-vie. Sure they should stop, but there.
SGP:630 - 82 points.

That would be ten.

(Merci Christian and Lucero…)

 

November 20, 2020


Whiskyfun

A barrow of Linkwood

I keep looking for roses in Linkwood, since Michael Jackson used to say that was one of the distillery’s main markers. Let’s have a few putative bouquets at random…

 

 

 

Linkwood 13 yo 2007/2020 (54.1%, Hidden Spirits, bourbon hogshead, cask #LK09720)

Linkwood 13 yo 2007/2020 (54.1%, Hidden Spirits, bourbon hogshead, cask #LK09720)
Colour: white wine. Nose: awesome freshness here. Barley and sugarcane juices, butterscotch, bananas flambéed, freshly squeezed oranges, praline, café latte, and our beloved croissants au beurre. Hard to resist… With water: shortbread and even more butterscotch. Crêpes filled with puréed chestnuts and maple syrup, plus barley water and some sweet maize bread. Mouth (neat): a little more on the fruity side here. Orange drops, pear bonbons, IPA, then custard tart, cheesecake and a few drops of quince eau-de-vie (best E.D.V. in da world when it’s well-made – one of the worst when not). With water: sweet malt everywhere, gueuze, a wee fizzy/gingery side. Finish: medium and rather on orange cake. Comments: super good, malty and sweet. Liquid pastry.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

 

 

Linkwood 13 yo 2006/2020 (58.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist Collective, Sherry butt recask, 1398 bottles)

Linkwood 13 yo 2006/2020 (58.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist Collective, Sherry butt recask, 1398 bottles)
This baby from two butts. I suppose ‘recask’ means ‘reracked’? Colour: amber. Nose: loads of toasted oak here, turon, warm praline, chocolate, raisin roll, nougat, a little mint oil, charcoal… With water: some very earthy, truffle-y sherry, moss, walnut bogs, bicycle inner tube, balsa wood, pine needles… Mouth (neat): really firm, punchy, but with a little Nutella (that’s vicious!), then herbs and a rubbery touch. I find it a little biting but I have the feeling that water will do it much goodness. With water: leaves, fern, green walnuts, orange skins, rubber… Okay then. Finish: rather long, very leafy. Some burnt praline in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, obviously, but this baby’s been pretty restless. It’s been looking for a fight all along! Now I’m the one that does the scores here.
SGP:361 - 82 points.

 

 

 

Linkwood 10 yo 2009/2020 (48%, Elixir Distillers, Reserve Casks Parcel #4, 2020)

Linkwood 10 yo 2009/2020 (48%, Elixir Distillers, Reserve Casks Parcel #4, 2020) Three stars
I believe this is a rather large small batch. Colour: white wine. Nose: beer, grist, leaves, fern, grass, touches of coffee, roasted nuts… Gets then rounder and maltier and more chocolaty by the minute. Stuff by Rowntree or Hershey’s. I know. Mouth: more action on the palate, but it is not the easy, sexy, malty baby that I was expecting. Some grass, a little rubber, sour oranges, pils, porridge… Finish: medium, rather green and grassy. Comments: I believe this one too won’t win the Nobel Prize of Whisky, but it’s a good drop for sure. What’s on Netflix tonight?
SGP:451 - 81 points.

Linkwood 10 yo 2009/2020 (46%, James Eadie, recharred hogshead, casks #314374, 314377, 314381)

Linkwood 10 yo 2009/2020 (46%, James Eadie, recharred hogshead, casks #314374, 314377, 314381) Three stars and a half
They are masters at this recharring game. I’m not a fan ‘philosophically’, but I rather love the end results – which may lead to schizophrenia indeed. Let’s be careful… Colour: gold. Nose: a Parisian bakery around 6am. Warm croissants, raisin rolls, baguettes and brioches. Totally decadent and regressive – all you still need is a handful of gilets-jaunes. Poor people. Mouth: coffee, breads, cookies, a leafy side as well. Tea and apple peeling. Finish: medium, a little hotter and rougher now. Leaves. Comments: very good, just not as exceptional as I had first thought.
SGP:461 - 83 points.

Linkwood 12 yo 2008/2020 (52.9%, Maltbarn, 143 bottles)

Linkwood 12 yo 2008/2020 (52.9%, Maltbarn, 143 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: sweet beers, sunflower oil, pine nuts, houmous, scones. There. With water: Lagunitas and naked pancakes. Mouth (neat): very good. Burnt cakes, kougelhopf, panettone (all a little burnt), chicory coffee, toasted oak. With water: roasted chestnuts, toasted bread, roasted pecans and walnuts. Finish: medium, a tad more rubbery and leafy this time again. Is that a thing with all those vintages of Linkwood? Comments: this note was short but the whisky was rather very good.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Nice remontada, isn’t it...

Linkwood 11 yo 2008/2020 (54.2%, Adelphi for Hotmalt Taiwan, 1st fill oloroso hogshead, cask #308339)

Linkwood 11 yo 2008/2020 (54.2%, Adelphi for Hotmalt Taiwan, 1st fill oloroso hogshead, cask #308339) Four stars and a half
I have good feelings here… Colour: amber. Nose: yes, roasted cakes, roasted peanuts, espresso, shoe polish, brownies, chocolates and a little charcoal (alliteration alert!) With water: very lovely, chocolate and umami, that’s hard to beat within this style – sure it’s no ex-refill-hoggie Clynelish. Mouth (neat): oh good! Minerals, peppers, chocolates, herbs, coffee liqueur (check Algebra’s extra dry coffee liqueur!) and triple-sec. With water: gets pretty dry and very oloroso-y. Coffee and walnut wine, I suppose that’s the whole point here. I’m declaring success. Finish: long and chocolaty. Some tarter oranges in the aftertaste, that’s even better. Comments: some ravishing young oloroso-ed malt. Sure, in this kind of case, the wood makes the whisky!
SGP:362 - 88 points.

I think we deserve an older vintage before we call this a tasting session…

Linkwood 30 yo 1987/2018 (57.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, refill sherry butt, 480 bottles)

Linkwood 30 yo 1987/2018 (57.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, refill sherry butt, 480 bottles) Four stars and a half
You need to understand that this was distilled when the loch was high and the market as flat as a pancake (some would have used other comparisons when Murray was still on). Colour: gold. Nose: oh yes, cigarettes and nuts plus praline, nougat and earl grey tea. Awesome nose. With water: menthol cigarettes! Bay leaves! Eucalyptus! Halva and nougat! Turkish delights! Mouth (neat): a few bitterish notes flying around, but other than that, this is a rather perfect combo, with soft (pink) peppers, hops, herbal teas (rosehip) and juicy breads. Pumpernickel! With water: looks like we almost found a 90-pointer, this baby’s maybe just a wee tad too leafy to attain perfection. Finish: medium, maltier, more on teas. Rather coffee and pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: that was close. A great drop, nonetheless, it’s just that Linkwood may lack a wee bit of spirit character to make it to higher grounds in our humble little book.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

No roses today, sadly.

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

 

November 19, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Three Glenallachie
Glenallathree? No, of course not. I’m very sorry. Anyway, there’s quite a lot of Glenallachie hitting the virtual shelves these days since Billy Walker and his team purchased it, which is always something to be celebrated from any formerly ‘quiet’ distillery in my view (who said ‘apart from Speyburn!’) Anyway, there’s a new official cask strength 21 year old out, so let’s have that along with a suitable aperitif and sparring partner.

 

Glenallachie 10 yo ‘Batch 3’ (49.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 2483 bottles)

Glenallachie 10 yo ‘Batch 3’ (49.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 2483 bottles)
Another of these wee humble, age-stated youngsters that Boutique-y seem to do pretty effortlessly these days. Colour: gold. Nose: lovely! An immediate warmth of gingerbread, butterscotch, toffee apple, wee touches of hessian and apple crumble with custard. Some golden syrup, sultanas and milk chocolate. A wonderfully easy-going and rather bright sherry profile. Mouth: toasted Brazil nuts, walnuts, a few herbal ointments, more praline and milk chocolate and also some leathery and earthy touches. More robust spiciness, like the hot end of a full bodied cigar. Finish: medium, warm and generously spicy with nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Some more earthy and bitter chocolate notes now. Comments: Simple, bright, clean and fresh. An extremely classical ‘sherried Speyside’ style I would say. The kind of dram that would pacify an army of willing grandmothers and uncles over the festive season.
SGP: 561 - 86 points.

 

 

Glenallachie 21 yo Cask Strength ‘Batch 1’ (51.4%, OB, PX sherry, 1600 bottles)

Glenallachie 21 yo Cask Strength ‘Batch 1’ (51.4%, OB, PX sherry, 1600 bottles)
A marriage of five PX sherry puncheons and hogsheads from 1997 and 1998 respectively. Colour: amber. Nose: soft at first, leaf mulch, lemon polenta cake, old madeira, fir wood sap and hardwood resins. Indeed, it maintains this rather lofty and fragrant profile that encompasses sandalwood, dried herbs, bergamot, espresso and over time some rather dense notes of bitter orange marmalade. Clean, rich and rather complex. With water: many more orange notes emerge. Mandarin, crystallised orange, orange tea etc… there’s also some attractively savoury earthy and umami notes as well. Mouth: dark fruits, wood saps, pine resins, dried herbs, hops - even cannabis resin! Then dried mint, eucalyptus bark, tea tree oils, cheng pi, miso and some pretty earthy aged Pu erh tea. Rather a lot of bitter herbal extracts, cloves and walnut oil now. With water: brown bread spread with treacle, toasted walnuts, Irish coffee, bitter lemon and more of these nicely punchy herbal bitters. Finish: good length, peppery, earthy, just the right side of bitter and with more roots, herbs, tobacco, bitter chocolate and marmalade. Comments: Great stuff, as expected. Feels like proper, old school PX sherry maturation with these many, deeper, well-integrated complexities on display. Although, the overall impression is of effortless, charming and sophisticated old sherried malt whisky. Only a little too much bitterness on the palate keeps it from 90 in my book.
SGP: 561 - 89 points.

 

 

Glenallachie 24 yo 1995/2020 (56.5%, The Whisky Cellar, cask #10, hogshead, 227 bottles)

Glenallachie 24 yo 1995/2020 (56.5%, The Whisky Cellar, cask #10, hogshead, 227 bottles)
Probably a bit of a change of pace from the full term sherry heft of the OB. Colour: gold. Nose: peaches, nectarines, flower honey, rich tea biscuits and various slightly sharp garden fruits on the greener side of ripeness. Some dandelions and pollens too. Once again, the word that seems to come to mind with all these Glenallachies, is ‘charming’. With water:  opens beautifully, lots more flowers, honeys, pollens, light earthy touches, moss, potting sheds and case water. Mouth: spiced mead, runny honey over breakfast cereals, citrus piths, bitter herbs, wood resins, olive oil and more yellow flowers and pollens. There’s a rather taut, prickly spiciness and camphor. With water: cinnamon pastries, heather ales, flower honey, mint tea, ginger biscuits and a little peppery bite from the wood. Finish: quite long, surprisingly spicy, drying, pressed flowers, more pollens, bouillon, heather, darjeeling tea and more biscuity notes. Comments: What’s interesting is that it doesn’t just taste like ‘Glen Speyside’, which is a category many modern Speysiders fall into in my book. There’s certainly a sense of personality here with all these floral and spicy interplays. Although, I’d say water is pretty essential here.
SGP: 661 - 87 points.

 

 

 

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

 

November 18, 2020


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Glen Scotia

Some twenty-eight years old indies please, as I’m sometimes finding the newish officials a little oak-heavy…

Glen Scotia 28 yo 1992/2020 (47.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 186 bottles)

Glen Scotia 28 yo 1992/2020 (47.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 186 bottles) Four stars and a half
From the Campbeltown Fashion Week, Spring Collection … Colour: gold. Nose: there’s this very typical fruity sourness at first, with some cider and wee touches of wine vinegar, then some grass, fern and tomato leaves, and let’s not forget these wee bits of rubber, gunpowder and engine grease, but some vanilla, mangos and bananas are participating too, creating a great feeling of unicity. Or oneness. See what I mean, I suppose. I’m fond of this nose… Mouth: the Campbeltown mafi… I mean connection at work I suppose. This one starts dry and even acrid and bitter, but that just works, as it does in the driest herbal concoctions that mixologists know so well. Artichokes, Brussels sprouts, green asparagus, eggplants… Add to that a thin layer of bitter beer, some malt, some green pepper, cactus, leaves… All that is a little extreme, perhaps, but I am a fan. A style that’s not often to be encountered in today’s sweeter whiskies. No butterscotch in this one! Finish: long, a little agave-y, with touches of honey and retsina. So a little rounder now, perhaps more polite. Comments: what a strong personality!
SGP:371 - 88 points.

 

 

 

Glen Scotia 28 yo 1992/2020 (56.2%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW and Kirsch Import, Connoisseurs Choice, first fill remade sherry hogshead, cask #19, 150 bottles)

Glen Scotia 28 yo 1992/2020 (56.2%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW and Kirsch Import, Connoisseurs Choice, first fill remade sherry hogshead, cask #19, 150 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: the higher strength and perhaps the re-coopering make it even more austere, with some acetone and varnish at first, but some lovely notes of thin mints and coconut balls are soon to make it better balanced, if a little ‘modern’. Lovely nose indeed. With water: gets unexpectedly grassier. More artichokes and these wee sulphury touches. Autumn leaves, a little patchouli, paraffin... Mouth (neat): excellent, tart and nervous, rather thick, herbal, spicy. Gingered marmalade and hay, peelings, liquorice wood, a little quince jelly… With water: exactly the one from Campbeltown when properly reduced. Very lovely bitterness. Finish: long, bitter, leafy, slightly sour. Comments: these bitter Glen Scotias really are in a cluster of their own. I’m not totally sure they are for everyone, but there’s one thing they sure aren’t: boring.
SGP:471 – 88 points.

 

 

 

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

 

November 17, 2020


Whiskyfun

A little purse of Glenlivet

… Including some from Signatory’s stock (slurp)… But first, a wee aperitif that shouldn’t do us any harm…

Glenlivet ‘Captain’s Reserve’ (40%, OB, +/-2019)

Glenlivet ‘Captain’s Reserve’ (40%, OB, +/-2019) Three stars
35€ in supermarkets here in France – that’s the current price of Ardbeg Ten here and there. Many have their own reserves at Glenlivet’s, the founder, the captain, the master distillers… In this case, captain Bill Smith was founder George Smith’s grand-grandson, while his reserve here was finished in ex-cognac casks. Excuse me, ‘raisin rich cognac’. All right then… Colour: gold. Nose: quite bizarrely, it’s a light and yet pretty fragrant Glenlivet that’s rather making eyes at Glenmorangie. I do find notes of raisiny cognac indeed (but are raisiny cognacs the best? That’s another story…) as well as the usual cereals, biscuits, pancake syrup and ripe apples. Quite some custard too. It’s pleasant, yet not quite earthshattering. Mouth: rather towards marmalade and anise cookies, raisin rolls, cinnamon powder, a little sawdust as well. It’s not as well rounded and aromatic as on the nose, but I suppose that’s the fate of any entry-level NAS these days. Triple sec. Finish: a little short but pleasant, rather caky and on apple pie. Comments: I think I like this one rather better than the Founder’s reserve. Indeed, no respect where respect is due anymore.
SGP:441 - 80 points.

Glenlivet 12 yo 2008/2020 (46%, Whic, Amazing Whiskies, sherry butt, 388 bottles)

Glenlivet 12 yo 2008/2020 (46%, Whic, Amazing Whiskies, sherry butt, 388 bottles) Four stars
Friends having fun with whisky, that’s always hard to beat. Let’s see if the whisky will be as surrealistic as the label. Colour: amber. Nose: some fig cake and one Mars bar, with the tiniest touches of truffles and gunpowder in the back of the background. Then proper chocolate and a few drops of cough syrup (one that would involve quite some eucalyptus), as well as echoes of that most splendid dish, red cabbage with chestnuts and small bits of bacon. Well done, I’m hungry now. Mouth: really rich and powerful, feeling higher than just 46, on roasted nuts, baked apples, a little ginger and leather, cloves, gingerbread, Stolle, caraway… In Basel, not too far away from WF Towers, they have a cookie called Läckerli; well this ‘livet tastes like Läckerli covered with chocolate. Finish: long, rather spicy again. Chocolate, walnuts, maple syrup and caraway. Comments: in my book, you need no water with 46%-whiskies, but I’ve just checked that this baby swims extremely well. So please ad a little water despite the relatively lowish strength.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

And now hell, damnation and scary monsters. Maybe two, maybe three if we survive…

Glenlivet 13 yo 2007/2020 (65.3%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, first fill sherry butt, cask #900243, 625 bottles)

Glenlivet 13 yo 2007/2020 (65.3%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, first fill sherry butt, cask #900243, 625 bottles) Four stars
Madness – looks like they’re running out of water post-Brexit, in the UK… Colour: amber. Nose: puréed chestnuts and butterscotch just everywhere. A little candyfloss and toffee apples as well. With water: very lovely and much more complex. Chalk, mushrooms, marrow, parsley, miso, crude chocolate, dried beef, Bovril, soy sauce, fern… Mouth (neat): once you get past the lethal ethanol level, you’re getting rather a lot of coconut cookies and toffee. Had this butt been kind of STRised, by any chance? With water: more towards oranges, ginger and quinine this time, with touches of bitter almonds and just loads of raw coffee and chocolate, with a salty touch behind the stage. A hint of olive. Finish: long, unexpectedly tense, meaty, with a caramel note. Salted fudge. Comments: a higher feeling of oneness than with earlier casks.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

 

 

 

Glenlivet 13 yo 2007/2020 (65%, Signatory Vintage for Whisky Live Paris 2020, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900140, 320 bottles)

Glenlivet 13 yo 2007/2020 (65%, Signatory Vintage for Whisky Live Paris 2020, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900140, 320 bottles)
Colour: bronze amber. Nose: cask numbers are close but this is completely different, much less wham-bam-seen-my-sherry, and rather more on chalk, metal polish, walnuts and burning pinecones. Now, 65% vol., is this even legal? Who filled this high? With water: umami, mushrooms, bouillons, oxtail soup, earth, beeswax, baklavas, earl grey, chocolate, honeys… It’s getting rounder by the minute. Mouth (neat): Cointreau, green oranges, ham… But boy does it burn! With water: the spices are coming out this time, making it a little gingery and rough. Leaves and leather, allspice, rather bitter marmalade, white pepper, a little curry… Finish: long, spicy. With some oak, chocolate, and just notes of rustic armagnac. More marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: why would we have to decide between these two awesome brutes?
SGP:561 - 87 points.

 

 

 

Glenlivet 11 yo 2007/2019 (66%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #900128, 289 bottles)

Glenlivet 11 yo 2007/2019 (66%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #900128, 289 bottles) Four stars
Another Macallan killer? Colour: amber. Nose: even more brutal, with some raw kirsch and rather a lot of coconut oil. Let’s be very careful… With water: oh, metal polish and engine oil this time, concrete, pu-ehr, chicken and miso soups… This is superb, rather more complex than other sister casks – but the two other ones that we just had were rather ‘on top of the basket’ too, as we say in French. Mouth (neat): I think this is good, but I’m sure this is extremely strong. Chocolate and Cointreau. Next, with water: gets earthier, nuttier, more chocolaty. Those strong armagnacs, cedar wood, marmalade, blackest teas, raw chocolate, bits of cigars… Finish: long, miso-y, a tad leafy just like the Whisky Live Paris. Spicier aftertaste again. Comments: good, this was proper communist session: all equal!
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Let’s stop here, helmsman!

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

 

November 16, 2020


Whiskyfun

Solera tasting, Ardmore until we succumb

We did this with Glenrothes a few weeks ago and had thought that idea was pretty difficult to put into flesh. Mixed feelings at that time, but let’s try that again if you please, this time with Ardmore. In truth, there are so many indie Ardmores around that it’s becoming difficult to do a ‘regular’ session with them, unless we cut it into several large chunks. But that would bore you (and me) to death, so let’s do a solera. After all, everyone’s doing soleras these days, I’m sure even the gin folks have started to do that. So, what have we got ?...

Ardmore 9 yo 2010/2020 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, 662 bottles)

(August 2, 2020)
Ardmore 9 yo 2010/2020 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, 662 bottles) Three stars
This baby’s a blend of 3 bourbon casks. Are we ready for some light peat and heavy vanilla ? Colour: white wine. Nose: soot and green tea, custard, green peppercorn, nosing a gun that was just shot (in the army, of course), new wellies, coal smoke, grandma’s old coal stove, smoked ham… I have to confess I’m sometimes having troubles with peaters that are neither maritime nor medicinal, but this one’s fine so far. Mouth: big green pepper, acrid smoke, ginger, a saltiness but nothing coastal indeed, and really a lot of pepper. A feeling of sucking charcoal and chewing cigar ashes, then a little orange and melon juice. Finish: long, green, a tad bitter and yet sweet. Burnt hay, smoked berries. Comments: I’m not a die-hard Ardmore fan – but I love the place and the people there – now I won’t deny that this is pretty pretty good.
SGP:556 - 81 points.

Ardmore 10 yo 2009/2019 (58.4%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, sherry wood, 155 bottles)

(August 2, 2020)
Ardmore 10 yo 2009/2019 (58.4%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, sherry wood, 155 bottles)
Three stars
Colour: gold. Nose: I’m finding it pretty amontillado-y, full of walnuts, wholegrain mustard, wine vinegar (from Jerez, naturally), with whiffs of pencil shavings and only a little peat this time. With water: fallen leaves, leather, walnuts, pencil lead, graphite, leatherette… Mouth (neat): bites your tongue a wee bit, and sends then litres (quite) of ristretto coffee and pipe juice. And bags of green walnuts and cracked pepper. Pretty extreme. With water: some salt, bitter herbs, more leather, walnut skins, turmeric… Not an easy, gentle little peater for sure. Finish: long and a little bitter. Salted walnuts. Comments: if you like them a little acrid and bitter, this is for you.
SGP:366 - 82 points.
Sept. 28 Post-scriptum: careful now with these labels.

Ardmore 17 yo 2002/2019 (52.7%, Hidden Spirits, cask #AM219, 226 bottles)

(August 23, 2020)
Ardmore 17 yo 2002/2019 (52.7%, Hidden Spirits, cask #AM219, 226 bottles)
Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: this baby comes with a peatiness that’s a tad more coastal, even if it remains rather on coal, with a little acetone perhaps, fresh paint, seashells (there), drops of a very crisp and almost salty muscadet, and perhaps wee bits of preserved peaches. Tinned capers. With water: hints of manure, horse saddle, peat, diesel oil, compost… We’re at a farm! But it does get gentler then, displaying the usual peaches and a wee bit of shortbread. Mouth (neat): sweeter than expected, really pretty peaty, big and punchy, with quite some ginger and perhaps turmeric. A bitterness in the background (cinchona and gentian). With water: this feeling of peated fruit, leaves, more ginger, bitters, orange cordial… Finish: long, with some green pepper on top of the bitters and the peat. Salty aftertaste. Comments: a really big Ardmore, we’re far from the gentler peach juices from earlier vintages. Very good it is, I think.
SGP:466 - 86 points.

Ardmore 10 yo 2008/2019 (54%, Asta Morris, fresh bourbon, cask #AM094, 272 bottles)

(August 23, 2020)
Ardmore 10 yo 2008/2019 (54%, Asta Morris, fresh bourbon, cask #AM094, 272 bottles)
Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: oh is this one pure and fresh! It’s got a wee ‘young Ardbeg’ side this time, notes of fatty salmon, turnips and beets, a little aniseed, green tea, carrots, radish… You could make a good soup out of all this! It’s pretty smoky too. With water: not sure water is necessary, it would bring out an err, well, unnecessary sweetness. Mouth (neat): a crystal-clean pure smoky and lemony start, with some icing sugar too, getting then rather bonbony, with a feeling of mezcal to boot. Fun young stuff. With water: gets a notch medicinal but other than that, rather keep the water for the plants. Limoncello. Finish: medium, very good, a wee tad thin perhaps. I’ve often found Ardmore a tad thin but that’s solely because of Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. Boo! Comments: not much to add. Just very good but maybe not totally earthshattering.
SGP:555 - 84 points.

Ardmore 10 yo 2009/2020 (56%, The Golden Cask, bourbon, cask # CM259, 245 bottles)

(August 30, 2020)
Ardmore 10 yo 2009/2020 (56%, The Golden Cask, bourbon, cask # CM259, 245 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: soot, sour herbs, beans, sauna oils, plastic oils (new sneakers),… I’m really not too sure, to tell you the truth. With water: indeed, new sneakers and concrete dust. New plastic bags at your favourite supermarket – but we don’t have them anymore in France since around five years. They were coming handy. Mouth (neat): there’s something very seductive, with a very unusual mix of pine resin, cough medicine and smoked fish, and really loads of green olives. I often quote green olives, but this time it’s is a green-olive-extravaganza, really. With water: as always with Ardmore – in my book – things aren’t very deep, but unless you would be firmly against smoking olives, this just works. Finish: rather long and, I would say still rather ‘peripheral’, as almost all peaters from the inlands usually are in my book. Do not ask me why (Tomintoul, Benriach...) Comments: excellent, just a little superficial. I mean, horizontal, or not deep… A feeling…
SGP:555 - 84 points.

Ardmore 16 yo 2003/2019 (53%, The Vintage Malt Whisky Co for Guangzhou Single Cask Single Malt China, Cask & Thistle, refill hogshead, cask #801287, 300 bottles)

(August 31, 2020)
Ardmore 16 yo 2003/2019 (53%, The Vintage Malt Whisky Co for Guangzhou Single Cask Single Malt China, Cask & Thistle, refill hogshead, cask #801287, 300 bottles)
Four stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this is a totally rawer, extremely chalky, grassy and gristy Ardmore, totally dry and void of the most infinitesimal fruitiness. Nosing a very old, long-abandoned cast iron stove – or something like that. With water: dough, porridge, muesli (so a few fruits) and an old pipe (that was lying on that old stove). Mouth (neat): as expected, the fruits arrive now and that would rather be small cider apples, green pears, unripe plums and jujubes. Ashes and burnt grass, touch of rhubarb, lime zest. Pretty extreme and stiff as a rod – not something we dislike having said that. With water: ah, there, fruits! The usual white peaches, I would say, covered with pepper and ashes. Finish: long, very dry, green, ashy, smoky. An aftertaste that’s pleasantly drying. Comments: I’m rather a fan of this bone-dry style that, I suppose, you could also have on food with a lot of fresh water.
SGP:364 - 86 points.

Ardmore 17 yo 2000/2017 (55.3%, Golden Cask, cask #CM242)

(September 11, 2020)
Ardmore 17 yo 2000/2017 (55.3%, The Golden Cask, cask #CM242) Three stars and a half
This one too from the House of Macduff. The 2009 was really lovely. Colour: white wine. Nose: some sooty and ashy lime and kiwi juices, I would say, so this is all pretty green. I tend to like this blade-y, very vertical style, provided we meet it on the palate too. With water: porridge and leaven bread are out. Mouth (neat): lime juice, white peaches, grass smoke, green pepper, with notes of juniper too. With water: good green zestiness, going towards ginger, not my preferred direction I’m afraid. Something Thai, sweet and spicy… Some tabasco too. Finish: rather long and really spicy. Big pepper, more tabasco, green lemon… Comments: pretty good but I think I liked the younger 2009 Golden Cask rather better – if I remember well.
SGP:474 - 83 points.

Ardmore 21 yo 1998/2019 (51.5%, Thompson Bros. Dornoch, 256 bottles)

(September 12, 2020)
Ardmore 21 yo 1998/2019 (51.5%, Thompson Bros. Dornoch, 256 bottles)
Four stars
Very lovely label here. Colour: white wine. Nose: this one’s really very vertical, a tad metallic (tin box) and pretty mineral (the usual chalk), with rather some cider apples and green lemons at the fruit department. Lovely coal smoke. With water: clay and soot, I would say. Old copper kettle. Mouth (neat): dense and precise, sharp, very chalky and lime-y, with again this spiky pepper that tends to be willing to take over. Another one that reminds me a bit of Talisker – minus the coastalness. A little bread dough too. With water: always quite some pepper, grapefruit skin, these touches of chilli once again, green pepper… But it’s not as extreme as others in that respect. Finish: rather long and pretty salty this time. Tinned anchovies? Neat, clean, coastal, this one could really be Talisker at this point. Well, let’s say the nearest malt would be Talisker. Comments: very good, I think!
SGP:464 - 87 points.

Ardmore 21 yo 1998/2020 (53.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #750788, 287 bottles)

(September 16, 2020)
Ardmore 21 yo 1998/2020 (53.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #750788, 287 bottles) Four stars
I find it very difficult to taste these whiskies apart while trying to remain coherent and consistent, but there, I started this madness. Indeed, only comparison is reason, is it not? Colour: white wine. Nose: pretty much the Thompsons’ (had to re-read my notes, see why I prefer line-ups?) with chalk, kiwi, lime, green apples and some coal smoke (old stove). Very precise. With water: tinned peaches, that’s definitely a marker of Ardmore. Very soft on the nose, it’s almost Ardless (the unpeated version of Ardmore). Mouth (neat): a little peach syrup, then lime, pepper and chalk. Another one that hints at Talisker in my book. With water: a little more on bonbons, otherwise green fruits, granny smith and consorts. Finish: rather long, grassy, slightly salty again. Comments: certainly gentler than others, and perhaps a tad less ‘deep’, but quality’s very high yet again.
SGP: 464 – 86 points.

Ardmore 10 yo 2008/2019 (61.2%, Whisky Erlebnis for Erles Whiskyecke, ex-Islay cask)

(September 18, 2020)
Ardmore 10 yo 2008/2019 (61.2%, Whisky Erlebnis for Erles Whiskyecke, ex-Islay cask) Three stars and a half
Does pop art still work now that we have COVID? Colour: straw. Nose: so this is ex-Islay cask, so maybe a tautological Ardmore, let’s see. Well, I’m rather finding more iodine and mercurochrome for sure, pickled gherkins, brine, seawater… And strictly no tinned peaches this time. Could be that the high strength blocks it a wee bit, let’s see… With water: no, it became rather kilny. And with grist and stuff. Mouth (neat): high-power, very strong, not exactly Ardmore indeed, but seemingly goodly sharp (yes I’ve bought D.J.T.’s latest dictionary of tremendously contemporary American). With water: lemons and brine. Finish: long, on the same limey flavours, with then more brine. Touches of pepper in the aftertaste, yet again. Comments: smokier than usual, a tad rough but certainly very good given its young age.
SGP:366 - 84 points.

Aird Mhor 9 yo 2009/2019 (59.1%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, bourbon hogshead, cask #707915, 240 bottles)

(September 18, 2020)
Aird Mhor 9 yo 2009/2019 (59.1%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, bourbon hogshead, cask #707915, 240 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: hot and slightly ethanoly, with whiffs of hydro-alcoholic hand gel (new descriptor!) cologne and a little sawdust. Gooseberries, plums… Water’s more than needed. With water: smoky barley syrup, a little nougat and vanilla, drops of brine. This one has more custard and pastries, which the colour didn’t show. Mouth (neat): good, very fruity, and pretty simple when neat. Jellybeans and smoked grass juice. With water: lime, brine and green pepper come out. It’s still very simple, but it hasn’t got any flaws in my little book. Finish: rather long, curiously sweet and syrupy. Grapefruit liqueur? Comments: it works really well, but I’m always finding Ardmore a little restrained. I suppose we should just stop comparing it to the Islays.
SGP:655 - 83 points.

8 to 12 is a little too young for Ardmore, if you ask me. Not only for Ardmore if you keep asking me. Good, let’s call this criadera ‘completa’. I agree, not much sense…

 

Hold on, we had a little more...

Ardmore 9 yo 2009/2019 ‘Tamashi’ (56.7%, Mizunara Private Bottling, American white oak, cask #709239, 251 bottles)

(November 12, 2020)
Ardmore 9 yo 2009/2019 ‘Tamashi’ (56.7%, Mizunara Private Bottling, American white oak, cask #709239, 251 bottles) Four stars
One of those ‘Japanised’ Scotch malt whiskies, at least they wouldn’t label this as Japanese whisky. Colour: white wine. Nose: nice fresh earth and wood, branches, soft ashes, grass, and a rather mentholy smoke. With water: green tea with touches of smoke. Mouth (neat): it’s really good, I’d almost call this ‘good thin peat’. Limoncello, oysters, ashes, riesling, mercurochrome. That’s more or less it. With water: same, while the body got bigger rather than thinner once water’s been added. That’s not unseen. Finish: medium, clean, on lime juice and a salty smokiness. Comments: very good for sure, just rather ‘hesitating’. As always with Ardmore, in my opinion, there’s either too much, or not enough peat, while the core spirit is anything but fat. That’s maybe a little frustrating.
SGP:564 - 85 points.

Good, since this is now or never…

Ardmore 22 yo 1997/2020 (50.6%, Les Grands Alambics, hogshead, 100 bottles)

(November 12, 2020)
Ardmore 22 yo 1997/2020 (50.6%, Les Grands Alambics, hogshead, 100 bottles) Four stars
100 bottles, that isn’t much, but for God’s sake, I’m so glad someone’s talking about stills again, rather than about lousy casks, wines or woods! Colour: straw. Nose: coconut wine, chamomile, scones, coconut balls, fudge, shortbread… All fine, but isn’t this rather Ardless? With water: mud and grist, that’s good news. Raw wool, new tweed, cow dung… We’re rather on the countryside! Mouth (neat): grassy, smoky, leafy, a little uncertain perhaps, like many Ardmores, tea-ish, slightly buttery and camphory… With water: ah no, there, this is rather very good, leafy and smoky, with some lemon… Finish: long, lemony, green. Warming aftertaste. Comments: totally one of the better Ardmores in my book. Tighter than others, just not very bold. That’s Ardmore.
SGP:455 - 87 points.

It was such a stupid idea to start a ‘solera’ session, I don't know what the hell I could have been thinking. But since we’re here… PS: we’ve also started a Ledaig Solera Session the other day, I’m afraid that’ll get even worser…

Ardmore 10 yo 2009/2020 (59%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, cask #707920)

(November 13, 2020)
Ardmore 10 yo 2009/2020 (59%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, cask #707920) Three stars and a half
Yeah right, retro gaming. Next, Peter Skellern? Gilbert O’Sullivan? The Osmonds? Colour: white wine. Nose: a fresh, maritime, ashy profile seemingly, but it doesn’t engage easily. Hello? Mercurochrome, glasses cleaning liquid, antifreeze… With water: cut grass, pear skins, capers. Not too sure about those capers. Mouth (neat): ah, some sweetness, some pepper, notes of gin fizz, grass ashes… With water: same. Salt, samphires, lime, green peppercorns, sugar. Finish: medium, on similar notes. Comments: pretty good, of course. But it’s a juice I’ll just never quite understand. I believe I need to go see a doctor…
SGP:455 - 84 points.

STOP! HALT! ASSEZ !

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

 

November 15, 2020


Whiskyfun

Armagnac for maniacs

Is it really the first time I’m doing that silly joke? Where are the armaniacs, by the way? We’ll do all this at random, because Armagnac not likes rules anyway, madame monsieur.

Aurian ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Armagnac, 2019)

Aurian ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Armagnac, 2019) Four stars
A nice old brand from Condom that’s been recently revived I think, let’s see what happens given that they seem to have gone with some meagre 40% vol.  Love the flat ‘basquaise’ bottle having said that, traditions ought to be preserved, don’t you agree! Colour: mahogany/office coffee.

Nose: oh total old school indeed! This is like listening to Bachman-Turner Overdrive, you love it but you do feel guilt. Old toasted wood, coffee, mint oil, marzipan and puréed chestnuts, then coffee liqueurs, walnut stain, prunes, raisins, figs… So it’s all very fine, I’m just afraid the palate might be flattish and drying at 40%. Like listening to BTO on a 2x10 watts stereo (remember?)…Mouth: this is even before old-school. Menthol, liquorice, thyme oil, pine resin, eucalyptus extracts, tar liqueur, pine-and-lemon cordials, coffee, coffee, coffee… There really is something charming to this, I’m sure there’s room for ueber-tradition once Covid is over. Back to the good old days! Finish: short, and that’s the low strength. But coffee, chestnut purée and pine resin may work. Comments: some bone-dry, very old-school Armagnac. I have to say I’m rather a fan, but then again, I’m French.
SGP:261 - 85 points.

Fontan 2000 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018)

Fontan 2000 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018) Three stars
Full ugni blanc from an intriguing house. Colour: red mahogany. Nose: this one’s ten times more aromatic, shock-full of stewed red fruits (damsons, raspberries, strawberries). Then figs and prunes, raisins, chocolates, ganaches, fig liqueurs… In short, it feels pretty rich, thick and jammy on the nose. Also rather a lot of menthol, mint lozenges, Dutch liquorice… I have to say I enjoy this thick, heavier style. Sure it is not Glenkinchie – it’s not even Glenfarclas – but yeah, I enjoy this pretty molassy style. Now… Drum roll… Mouth: hey, I like! Same profile, rich, very chocolaty, with some tar and liquorice, prunes, menthol, an obvious terpene-ish side, resins… The only little problem is that 42% vol. aren’t quite enough in this heavy-ish context. 50% would have worked better IMHO, but there, I find it very good anyway. Finish: long, mentholy, rich, chocolaty, coffee-ish… Comments: it sure is an intriguing bottle. It’s perhaps a little more brandy-ish (Armenia, Jerez etc.) than pure dry Armagnac, and indeed some ‘Sunday morning cooking’ may have occurred at some point, but there, I like it. Some slightly pirate-y Armagnac on the palate.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Baron de Sigognac 25 yo (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018)

Baron de Sigognac 25 yo (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
The decanter looks a bit like that of a crooky old Macallan by Sestante, no? (just asking). Seriously, we wouldn’t touch such decanters, but you never know… Colour: amber. Nose: yeah, the main problem is that these liquids are irresistible. Fantastic honeys, small fruits (sorb, cormier, jujube) then old cigars, precious woods (the dashboard of a jaguar when it was still a Jaguar), various jams (eglantine), moist pipe tobacco, black cherries, fig wine… Well, this nose would just make for the eighth capital sin, if you ask me. Mouth: that’s the thing, the arrivals are always pretty brilliant, but thanks to the lower strength, they lose steam and get dry and uninspiring after just ten seconds. Very frustrating, some really get away with murder. Yeah there, ripe figs, chocolate (forastero), black berries, Corinth currents.. All good but then nada, niente, nothing, rien, nichst, it just gets too thin. Finish: short, sadly, but the core, the heart is superb. Comments: what shall we do? This is like a stereo that’s playing Frank Zappa but only goes to 5. Highly frustrating.
SGP:651 - 84 points. (89 guaranteed at 45% vol.)

Château de Gaube 1962/2020 (48.6%, OB, for Wu Dram Clan, Ténarèze, lot #6220, 144 bottles)

Château de Gaube 1962/2020 (48.6%, OB, for Wu Dram Clan, Ténarèze, lot #6220, 144 bottles) Four stars and a half
Fully ugni blanc and a small domaine that’s usually rather to be found at Darroze’s as a 100% bacco Bas-Armagnac. But this is different and by the way, I love Ténarèze, which is the locals’ preferred drop if I believe my friends down there in Gers (not sure I should, having said that – la bise les amis!). Colour: deep amber. Nose: eminently old-school, this is the kind of armagnac you should quaff after a corrida, with good friends. It’s really rather all on black raisins, chocolate, prunes, peonies, reheated coffee, roasted chestnuts and walnuts, then some meaty notes, cured ham (I say Spanish but don’t tell our friends down there in the Armagnac region), marrow and bouillons, oloroso (good oloroso and good armagnac are very close on the nose in my book), parsley and chives, some earthy chocolate… That’s all pretty rustic, and brilliant at the same time. There, proper Armagnac! Mouth: yeah, this is typical ‘family Armagnac’. In every house they keep a few bottles for special occasions (but like with champagne in your fridge, having such bottles stashed away just makes for such a special occasion anyway). Lovely coffee, marmalade, chocolate and raisins mix, this time with a smallish amount of sulphur added to the mix. We shall call that ‘a Mortlach side’ if you don’t mind. Finish: long, with pretty much the same flavours. Comments: some extremely rustic armagnac, but it hasn’t quite got what I’m usually finding in other extremely rustic armagnacs: a huge tannicity. That’s good news. And rather rugby than crochet.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

A quick note: in French you always write armagnac, or cognac for that matter, without any capital letters. So please bear with me…

Now, this week we celebrated WWI’s armistice on November 11, so we could well further commemorate that and celebrate peace with some incredible armagnac distilled in… 1918!

1918

Domaine de Baraillon 1918/2019 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine de Baraillon 1918/2019 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) Five stars
That is right, over one hundred years old in theory, but I’ve got confirmation that it was actually lying in demi-johns when they bottled it last year, so it’s not ‘technically’ a 100 years old. However, some Scottish brands would hire near-bankrupt crystal makers, reawaken obscure photographers or painters, activate embedded influencers and hungry PR people, and slap a price tag with six figures on such juice. But Baraillon would never do that, they would just use a most regular bottle and let the spirit speak for itself. I would add that as WWI only ended on November 11, the men were still at war (or dead) when this vintage was harvested. Which means that 1918 was a women’s vintage – while women’s vintages have just always been the best. Ever. Sexism in spirits, indeed!

baraillon

Warehouse at Baraillon. On the left, old ramagnacs resting in demijohns (dame-jeannes) - (source : Charles Neal Selection)

Colour: deep gold. Nose: shh, quiet please… Oh what a beauty… First some juicy red peaches, some black earth, some wild mushrooms (Caesar’s mushrooms, best in the world), some precious little sultanas, a little tamarind perhaps, artisan guignolet (bigarreau cherry liqueur)… Oh how subtle this is! Then we have anything herbal, old chartreuse perhaps, some old pipe tobacco, bits of bergamots, a little caraway and juniper, chestnuts and prunes, wee touches of chen-pi (sun-dried tangerine skin) and  a little hoisin sauce (plums), something slightly miso-y (right, osmazôme), game, mint, liquorice… Oh wow oh wow oh wow! I really feel privileged, I don’t think there’s a more glorious way of celebrating the end of the worst war ever. Mouth: boy I was afraid this would be too dry. And indeed it is dry – how and why wouldn’t it be dry -  but feeling, in the deepest centre of your being, these tiny apricots, raisins and peaches still alive and singing is just extraordinary. Now indeed, wood spices and oils are rather having the stage, but without ever getting drying or just ‘too much’. No over-infused black tea whatsoever! Some adorable notes of chestnut honey, raw cocoa, black teas Russian-style (again, not over-infused), touches of roses, saffron, black tobacco – they were smoking Gauloises or ‘gris’ in 1918, chicory coffee… Well we could go on and on and on. Incredible drop. Finish: amazing. I’ll leave it at that. Comments: this is life. All the rest, except family and friends, is totally superfluous, including f****g politics and b****y religion. No I don’t feel like I should apologize. Remember, WWI, 20 million deaths.
SGP:461 - 94 points.

(Merci 20 millions de fois, Jürgen!)

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

 

November 13, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Benriach, Clynelish
& Ardbeg
Or: starter, main course and dessert? Not much to say, except that I’m no masochist and sometimes you just find yourself in the mood to taste (theoretically) good whiskies. 

 

Benriach 22 yo 1997/2020 (57.1%, The Whisky Cellar ‘Private Cellars Selection’, bourbon barrel + rum finish, 189 bottles)

Benriach 22 yo 1997/2020 (57.1%, The Whisky Cellar ‘Private Cellars Selection’, bourbon barrel + rum finish, 189 bottles)
A new series from local (to me at any rate) bottler Keith Bonnington. I’m not usually too hot on rum finishes but I think Benriach’s fruitiness lends itself better than many other makes to some rum treatment. Colour: bright straw. Nose: easy and rather natural to begin, close to the raw ingredients with vanilla foam, lemon peels, barley sugars and wee touches of chalk and canvass. Not too much in the way of rum apart form some nice notes of pineapple - but that could just be Benriach itself. With water: fabrics, ink, chalk, lemongrass, rhubarb and custard sweets and a hint of pomegranate. Mouth: syrupy, naturally sweet and even rather gooey with these notes of mashed banana, ripe pineapple, lemon icing and then some greener notes of cider apple, lime curds and freshly muddled herbs. There is a wee rum ‘accent’ now as you get hint of gingery dark n stormy. With water: bigger, spicier, some warming notes of green pepper and some demerara notes. The rum does come through more assertively here but it remains tastefully integrated. Finish: good length, bitter citrons and piths, cereals dusted with icing sugar, green muddled herbs, fruit teas and more ginger and rum cocktails. Comments: A nifty and smart finish that’s light on its feet. Something of a guilty pleasure. 
SGP: 641 - 86 points. 

 

 

Benriach 33 yo 1972/2005 (49%, OB, cask #4043, hogshead, 261 bottles)

Benriach 33 yo 1972/2005 (49%, OB, cask #4043, hogshead, 261 bottles)
Was it really 2005 that these bottles were emerging? I feel suddenly old. Colour: straw. Nose: just beautiful. A beehive full of waxes, honeys, pollens and soft, juicy ripe fruits. Star fruit, kiwi, papaya, mango, kumquat… you’d be here all day! You sense the ‘fatness’ of the distillate itself with this tension between honeyed, luscious fruits and a firmer, hefty waxiness that threads its way between everything. Mouth: drier than expected, more on chalks, dusty pollens, oily cereals and a leaner style of fruitiness. More on citrons, pithy citrus rinds, pink grapefruit, lemon infused olive oil and hessian. Definitely different in style to the 1976s; closer to an old school highlander such as Glen Ord in many respects. A touch of bitter oak towards the end which will prevent it from hitting 90, but this is by and large glorious old style whisky. Finish: long, peppery, gingery, waxy, a little green wood such as snapped twigs and more pithy citrus peels adding a nice bitterness. Comments: the nose was pretty luminous and the palate possessed a beautiful simplicity and directness of character. Just perhaps a little tired here and there, but these are minor quibbles. 
SGP: 561 - 88 points.

 

 

A good warm up. Let’s head towards deepest, darkest Sutherland… 

 

 

A Highland Distillery 10 yo 2010/2020 (58.4%, Watt Whisky, 280 bottles)

A Highland Distillery 10 yo 2010/2020 (58.4%, Watt Whisky, 280 bottles)
There are whispers on the wind that this was distilled in, or very near, the town of Brora… Colour: white wine. Nose: grassy olive oil, sandalwood, minerals, waxes. I’m afraid the disguise is not holding, the origins are rather loud and clear. Sharp, citric and with a blustery, unfussy coastal quality that I can only describe as ‘invigorating’. With water: fabrics, chalk, beach pebbles, sand, crushed seashells, bath salts and white flowers. Still a persistent tang of citrus too. Mouth: pow! Superbly thick, textural, oily, waxy, lemony and almost medicinal with these rather precise notes of herbal cough medicines, verbena and vapour rubs. Really totally superb, benchmark stuff. With water: perfect! Citronella wax, barley extract, juicy fruits, a touch of vanilla, lemon peel, rapeseed oil. I love it! Finish: long, peppery, waxy, coastal, cereal and super fresh! Comments: Quite simply a perfect, young Clynelish that reeks of distillery character. Personally I think big distilling companies are missing a trick when they prevent their distillery names appearing on such great bottles. 
SGP: 562 - 90 points. 

 

 

Clynelish 22 yo 1972/1995 (58.64%, OB ‘Rare Malts’, USA)

Clynelish 22 yo 1972/1995 (58.64%, OB ‘Rare Malts’, USA)
These early Rare Malts for the US are now pretty scarce, and their reputation only seems to grow as the years pass. There’s also a 58.95% version for the US which Serge rated pretty highly way back in 2005 (WF:93) Colour: straw. Nose: church candles dissolved in a tanker of kerosine! Pure, stark and almost Arctic white with these impressions of linens, white flowers, chalk, crushed sea shells and waxy citrons. Absolutely stunning purity and precision and controlled power. Feels like one of these whiskies that is invisibly and very deliberately pulling levers in the darkness and directing various aromas at you with strategic purpose. Continues with sea air, mustard powder, delicate medical embrocations and sharp, saline minerals. Stunning! With water: becomes extremely coastal and almost brittle with these taut, hyper-pure minerals and saline notes. Petrol, vapour rubs, camphor and seaweed crackers. Mouth: immense texture and power. Smoked olive oil mixed with umami broth, seawater, waxed canvass and tiny glimmers of dried and crystallised exotic fruits. Some herbal teas in the background too. Just beautiful. With water: huge, fatty, waxy and oily now. It is the texture and weight in the mouth of these old Clynelish which is often so thrilling and breathtaking. Dry, crisp and full of raw cereals, sheep wool oils, camphor, lanolin and medical ointments. Finish: long, starting become more herbal now, more waxes, metal and shoe polishes, menthol, lemon peel and the faintest glimmer of peat smoke. Comments: A gorgeous, somewhat brutal, yet precise wee masterpiece. Breathtaking, power, poise, structure and mouth-slathering texture. Sends almost all contemporary distillates - even the ‘great’ ones - back to school. 
SGP: 473 - 93 points. 

 

 

Phew, very happy with those two drams. Despite the different eras, it’s still heartening to note that there’s more than a little shared DNA. Now, a short break, and then: to Islay!

 

 

Ardbeg 10 yo (46%, OB, rotation 2003, for duty free, 1 litre) 

Ardbeg 10 yo (46%, OB, rotation 2003, for duty free, 1 litre)
I don’t have the full L code I’m afraid, but it’s a 2003 bottling for sure, so should be all early 1990s distillate and rather different from current batches. Colour: white wine. Nose: superb! A wonderful mix of seawater, petrol, farmyard, sheep wool oils and that classical ‘tarry rope’ Ardbeg vibe. Also some lime juice and other, softer coastal touches such as rock pools and white flowers. Gets increasingly tarry and peppery. Just great! Mouth: a dense fog of peat smoke, rather smothered in tar, boiler fumes, farmyard ‘muddy’ flavours, smoked sea salt, black pepper, some drops of iodine and camphor. Huge whisky, little wonder it found such deep and lasting favour with peat heads. Finish: long, tarry, fishy, salty and lemony with smoked barley and touches of smoky wort. Some green olives bobbing about in the aftertaste. Comments: raw, boisterous, powerful and deeply charismatic whisky that remains extremely enjoyable, evocative and fun. Very early 90s style Ardbeg. 
SGP: 367 - 89 points. 

 

 

Ardbeg 20 yo 2000/2020 (57.2%, Elixir Distillers ‘The Whisky Show’, cask #1087, bourbon barrel, 247 bottles) 

Ardbeg 20 yo 2000/2020 (57.2%, Elixir Distillers ‘The Whisky Show’, cask #1087, bourbon barrel, 247 bottles) 
Colour: gold. Nose: much lighter and much more dominated by the cask with these notes of ginger and lightly smoked vanilla. Camphor, wood resins, tar, pine cones. Feels altogether more syrupy and lighter in style, still very good, but a bit of a departure after the old 10yo. With water: ashes, seawater, grapefruit, citrons and some inky touches. A little persistent vanilla note too. Mouth: good arrival, all on seawater, mercurochrome, wet chalk, iodine, natural tar extract, TCP and hessain. Even some kind of smoked wax emerges. Still this rather dominant aspect from the cask though I think. Green pepper, graphite oil and putty. With water: a little dirtier, greasier and tarrier with more obvious peat smoke and things like wood ashes, lemon rind and curry powder. Finish: long, spicy, tarry, wood spices, ground peppercorns of various shades, camphor and  boiler smoke.  Some wood shavings and citrus peels in the aftertaste. Comments: Reminds me of the early-mid 2000s when everyone was raving about the 17yo and it was fashionable for young fools like me to say “Well, I prefer the 10”. Anyway, this is good stuff, but I find it a bit of a distillate-light and cask-heavy Ardbeg. For me I miss the raw ‘Ardbegness’ that you find in spades in the old 10yo.
SGP: 656 - 87 points. 

 

 

Hugs and gratitude to Gene, KC and Dirk!

 

 

 

Special Bonus

Some new Glenkinchie

There is a new official Glenkinchie – although all new Glenkinchies would be official anyway – so let’s try it with joy and elevation (excuse me?) The sparring partner will be a regular 12, naturally.

Glenkinchie 12 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2018)

Glenkinchie 12 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2018) Three stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: as we remember it, that is to say, soft, rather on vanilla and toasted oak, with cereals and fresh croissants. Fresh croissants cannot not work with a Frenchman, naturally. A little nougat, a little popcorn, a little apple compote, a spoonful of quince jelly, and perhaps half a drop of lemon balm essence. That’s not ugly at all. Mouth: I believe Glenkinchie, while still not the bluest chip ever, keeps improving. Good oaky vanilla, bread, croissants, lemon cake, Golden Grahams, sweeter beer, sourdough… Not that all that is very inspiring, but I don’t think you could catch this humble baby out. Finish: medium, perhaps a tad blendish. Green tea, vanilla, sweet maize. Quite some freshish oak in the aftertaste. Comments: more than just a better blend.
SGP:451 - 80 points.

Glenkinchie 16 yo (50.6%, OB, Four Corners of Scotland Collection, 2502 bottles, 2020)

Glenkinchie 16 yo (50.6%, OB, Four Corners of Scotland Collection, 2502 bottles, 2020) Three stars
This baby was matured in refill and freshly charred hogsheads. It is some commemorative bottling and to be honest, with malt whisky and as far as commemorations are concerned, any reasons are good reasons. By the way, Glenkinchie’s bottle makes the most thrilling ‘pops’ when you pour the first cls out. True Pink-Floyd-approved sound quality! Colour: gold. Nose: totally the 12, only at the power of two. That means more vanilla, more sawdust, more bread dough, more croissants, more popcorn, to which you would add quite some medicinal notes, which are coming unexpected. In the style of Vicks VapoRub. With water: water works greatly. Mint-filled pastries of some sorts and a whole panettone. I utterly adore good fresh panettone - I just wanted to get that on the record. Mouth (neat): pretty heavy on the oak, as if this was some young malt by some new ‘craft’ distillers. Feels boosted, oaked-up, but not unpleasantly so, it’s just very ‘modern’. Whether Glenkinchie’s distillate is big enough to stand such treatment is to be seen… once water’s been added. With water: no, we’re okay, sure the oak is loud and the spirit a little weak, but this has been composed with care. Nutshell: it is not just oak juice. Finish: quite long, tea-ish, oaky. Comments: not just some liquid plank. By the way, I didn’t know Scotland had only four corners, I had thought it would have had at least a good few dozens.
SGP:461 - 82 points.

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

 

November 12, 2020


Whiskyfun

A bag of Scapas or another Via Crucis

There aren’t that many Scapas around, unless many of those ‘Secret Orkneys’ that are now invading our shelves are not really HP, and would rather be, yes, Scapa. You never know. As usual, first, an aperitif…

Scapa 10 yo 1989/2000 (43%, Signatory Vintage, cask #1903)

Scapa 10 yo 1989/2000 (43%, Signatory Vintage, cask #1903) one star and a half
To be honest these batches have not got the highest reputation ever and many people wouldn't touch them with a bargepole. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: supermarket bread, plastic, sourdough, cherry syrup, baker’s yeast, stale ale, carbon paper, flour, sugar syrup. All right then. Mouth: not quite. Chewing on a conservative American magazine, sugar syrup, paper, saccharine, paraffin… No thanks. Finish: medium. Ale and yeast. Stale spices and molasses in the aftertaste. Comments: that was a long time ago, just after the Osmonds. I believe Signatory have issued around fifteen thousand stunners since this very humble Scapa was absent-mindedly bottled.
SGP:441 - 68 points.

A new one please…

 

 

 

Scapa 15 yo 2005/2020 (57.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, first fill bourbon barrel, for LMDW, cask #465, 234 bottles)

Scapa 15 yo 2005/2020 (57.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, first fill bourbon barrel, for LMDW, cask #465, 234 bottles)
G&M have had quite a few good Scapas in the past, and a few duds too if you ask me. Let’s see… Colour: light gold. Nose: light honey, raisin rolls, vanilla, fresh oak, orange squash, muesli, coconut water, acacia wood. Nice! With water: gets pretty doughish. White beer, bread, grist, ink, supermarket chocolate, planks at Ikea’s. Not as bad as that sounds tough. Mouth (neat): pretty strong, on lemon and fresh oak, with touches of liquorice and menthol and a hint of brine. The saltiness is rather intriguing here. With water: we got it now! Typical soft saltiness plus honeyed doughs, sweet maize, sweet beer, those croissants… The saltiness really is intriguing here. Finish: long and even saltier. Where does all this salt(iness) come from? Same cigarette tobacco too. Salted butter in the aftertaste, or salted nougat, should that exist. Comments: a malt whisky apart, not straight and easy if you ask me, but there’s something charming for sure. Reminds me of a few long-forgotten British cars. Say the Triumph Stag.
SGP:362 - 84 points.

 

 

 

Scapa 1979/1989 (62.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #17.3)

Scapa 1979/1989 (62.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #17.3) Two stars
Ten years old Scapa at lethal strength, a.k.a. old kerosene. Colour: white wine. Nose: totally and plainly on hot chocolate. Warm milk, cocoa, Hershey’s worst. That’s all so far, folks. With water: plaster and damp chalk, Van Houten’s powder, milk powder, concrete, graphite oil, baker’s yeast… Not too sure. Mouth (neat): too strong of course, but this has nothing to do with the nose. No chocolate this time, rather orange squash, Schweppes Lemon, and fizzy sweets. Not too easy. With water: some improvement, but this is extremely austere, ueber-grassy, dry, and indeed a little salty. Finish: long, dry, narrow, salty and bitter. Salted brown beer. Comments: really fun to taste, but I doubt anyone would quaff this extreme bone-dry juice while watching some stupid series on Dramazon Prime. Urgh!
SGP:272 - 75 points.

Take heart, S.!

Scapa 1977 (64.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Meregalli Italy, +/-1990, 75cl)

Scapa 1977 (64.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Meregalli Italy, +/-1990, 75cl) Three stars
64.3%, gulp! Always loved this ‘distillery label’ by G&M. But shall we survive this sneaky Scapa? It’s true that G&M have had many great ones in the past. Colour: gold. Nose: some remote beer perhaps, and a large brioche straight from the oven. We won’t take any further chances anyway at this strength. With water: herbs, grasses, essential oils (thyme), metal polish, old tools, iron… Mouth (neat): I seem to rather like this. Patchouli, chlorophyl, green tobacco, Brussels sprouts, bitter herbs… Yeah well… With water: oh, lime, mezcal, Jamaican rum, spearmint, sour and bitter herbs, artichokes, baked eggplant, Scottish moussaka (what’s that?)… What’s this monster, my friend? Finish: long, hard, bitter, harsh, grassy… Comments: to be honest, this is WTF whisky that you really need to intellectualise before you swallow more than three drops. And yet it’s pretty charming… cough, cough! Holy featherless crow, whisky by Boulez!
SGP:372 - 82 points.

(Merci KC)

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

 

November 10, 2020


Whiskyfun

New Ord 38 yo and helpers

There’s a new 38 years old Singleton that looks quite extra-ord-inary (oh wow!) but first let’s see what we can find as sparring partners. Maybe two little Cadenheads?

Ord 13 yo 2005/2018 (54.9%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, for Vinotek Massen, Flanders Finest Selection and others, bourbon hogshead, 306 bottles)

Ord 13 yo 2005/2018 (54.9%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, for Vinotek Massen, Flanders Finest Selection and others, bourbon hogshead, 306 bottles) Four stars
A bottling for many distinguished houses in the north. Colour: white wine. Cadenhead have had and are still having quite some casks of Glen Ord, as it appears. Colour: white wine. Nose: I’m finding rather a lot of plasticine and paraffin at first, then a grassy zestiness that would then lead us to various green fruits. Granny smith, greengages, gooseberries… With water: touches of earth, humus, autumn leaves (how appropriate) and the tiniest bit of rubber. Mouth (neat): it's pretty citric and ‘bonbony’. So lemon drops, touches of green walnuts, a chalkiness, some waxy elements too. With water: more of all that. Notes of orgeat/fresh almonds. Finish: rather long, on a leafier limoncello. Classic tight style. Comments: good tension in this one.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Ord 12 yo 2006/2018 (55.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, hogshead, 315 bottles)

Ord 12 yo 2006/2018 (55.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, hogshead, 315 bottles) Two stars and a half
This ought to be pretty similar, so pretty good. Colour: white wine. Nose: this one’s clearly got more varnish, rubber, and even coal smoke. Tarmac, glue, sulphur (used matches)… And yet it is a bourbon hoggie. Much unexpected, let’s see how it would evolve… With water: ginger tonic! Schweppes… And always these bizarre whiffs of struck matches. Mouth (neat): indeed, big citric arrival, full of lemon squash and orange drops (or Fanta, there), with this glue-y layer over it all. The kind of flavours that you could sometimes find in patched casks, if I remember well. There’s even a little smoked ham. With water: gets really very leafy. Finish: long, leafy, bitterish. Curious notes of mutton suet. Comments: a challenging funny boy I would say. I’d love to know more about its pedigree.
SGP:362 - 79 points.

The Singleton of Glen Ord 38 yo (49.6%, OB, Master’s Casks, 1689 bottles, 2020)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 38 yo (49.6%, OB, Master’s Casks, 1689 bottles, 2020) Five stars
This is the new wonder, composed by one of Diageo’s main – albeit discreet – top slingers, Mrs Maureen Robinson. It is a kind of reverse-finishing, meaning that she decided to re-rack some bourbon casks into various seasoned woods (including PX, naturally) after just 12 years, and to let that ‘finishing’ period last for 26 further years. The owners are talking about ‘finishing’ but that’s actually double-maturation, is it not? Anyway, we all remember the old ‘square’ Glen Ord 30yo, so expectations are super-high. There should be beeswax in the menu! Colour: full gold. Nose: that old 30 yo instantly springs to mind. Beeswax in abundance, old Sauternes, a few medicinal touches (camphor, embrocations), a lot of orange blossom water, earl grey, kumquats, heather honey, orange zests, a touch of plasticine, petit manseng (white wines from Jurançon), old waxed papers, ‘opening a beehive’… Well this nose is extra-ord-inary indeed (oh no, not again!) Mouth: we’re in old liqueurs territory, really. I suppose a world-class mixologist could almost replicate this for a wealthy patron. Let’s try, I would select old yellow chartreuse, triple-sec, a little pine bud liqueur, a few drops of Scandinavian tar liqueur, probably some fig arrak, and perhaps a few drops of old blue curaçao. But don’t fear, this old Ord is not blue. But shake or stir? No ideas, I’m anything but a mixologist (as you could just notice). Finish: rather long, creamy, with a little more vanilla, apricot jam, quinces, more beeswax and honeys… The pine-y and camphory notes are back in the aftertaste. Comments: very interesting because you might feel that there’s both something old and something pretty fresh in this one. A senior athlete, in other words. I find it absolutely superb.
SGP:671 - 92 points.

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

 

November 9, 2020


Whiskyfun

Another wee bag of high-flying Chichibu

How do you say ‘wee’ in Japanese? (UPDATE, that's 'oshikko', thank you xdo!) We’ll sort these Chichibus by ascending strength by the way, not sure that makes too much sense but there…

 

 

 

Chichibu ‘Paris Edition 2020’ (52.8%, OB, for LMDW, 1831 bottles)

Chichibu ‘Paris Edition 2020’ (52.8%, OB, for LMDW, 1831 bottles)
Probably a 7 years old. This is a small batch of 8 casks, quite a recipe by the way. Imagine, one 2013 first fill bourbon peated, three 2013 virgin oak, one  2013 Port pipe, two 2014 quarter casks and one 2014 red wine casks. Are you following? Last year’s Paris Edition had been pretty fantastic in my opinion (WF 90). Colour: deep gold. Nose: smart, very smart, and complex, very complex. After all, this is a self-blended malt, is it not. I couldn’t list all aromas I’m finding – and WF is too cluttered anyway – but I’ll simply mention peonies, chlorophyll, eucalyptus, beeswax, dried banana, honeysuckle and lime blossom, some chalk and some clay, custard, clover honey, old chardonnay… and myriads of other small smells. Rather flabbergasting. Oh, and smart. With water: gets narrower and tighter but in a wonderful manner, with more chalk, vanilla, crushed slate, and yes, chardonnay. Just south of Beaune! Mouth (neat): a bit tougher on the palate, spicier than expected, rustic for sure, leafy and leathery… I’m wondering if that’s not the Port and the red wine’s tannicity. Water should help… With water: it does, it makes it rather better focused, although I’m still finding a little sour wood. Custard, fresh oak, banana, raisins, drops of latte… I really like it, but I think I like the more vertical, tighter Chichibus even better. Finish: medium, on pretty much the same flavours, with an unexpected feeling of vin jaune and leaves (cherry, peach). Comments: absolutely excellent for certain, but I’m not sure the red wines didn’t bother me a wee bit on the palate. That’s me.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

 

 

 

Chichibu ‘London Edition 2020’ (53.5%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange, 1736 bottles)Chichibu ‘London Edition 2020’ (53.5%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange, 1736 bottles)

Chichibu ‘London Edition 2020’ (53.5%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange, 1736 bottles) Four stars and a half
A vatting of seven casks this time, mostly refill bourbon barrels, some having had their heads replaced with new mizunara oak as I understand it. So no red wine this time, but they have Boris J.. You can’t have it both ways, I suppose. Colour: straw. Nose: tighter, more intense as well, more millimetric, slightly mentholy and camphory, with a simpler but maybe better defined profile. Sour fruits, sauvignon blanc rather than chardonnay, green walnuts, grass… With water: an excellent Sancerre, perhaps from Chavignol. Mouth (neat): works for me. Slight smoke, brine, olives, leaves, eucalyptus tea, grapefruits, more sauvignon blanc… No long literature needed here. With water: more of all that, with a little more chlorophyl. I suppose that’s the mizunara. Finish: rather long, tight, lemony and grassy, with touches of salted chocolate and a little mint. Smoked mint? Comments: clean and tight, with no unnecessary extra-flavours in the way. That’s my preferred way. On the other hand, they have Boris.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

 

 

 

Chichibu 10 yo (56.5%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #10, bourbon barrel, cask #423, 164 bottles)

Chichibu 10 yo (56.5%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #10, bourbon barrel, cask #423, 164 bottles)
A little birdie told me this was a 2009. Expectations are higher this time, as this is a proper unadulterated barrel… Colour: gold. Nose: you bet. Focaccia dough, asparagus and a tiny olive, custard, acacia blossom, zucchini flower, fresh brioche… Well this is just otherworldly so far. A natural beauty, as they say in Hollywood. With water: mangos, sunflower and olive oils, crushed macadamias, eucalyptus, lime blossom… I find this absolulety stunning. I mean, absolutely. Mouth (neat): of course. Crushed bananas, touches of violets, custard, many breads and doughs, croissants, a little wax, some good earth, the obligatory drop of miso… Perfection incarnated in my faithful tulip glass. With water: you’ll find all these tiny metallic, mineral and earthy touches that make the greatest malt whiskies. Finish: rather long, a tad grassier, earthy, with oils and a few flower extracts… Isn’t that borage? Comments: this is of Old Clynelish quality, if you ask me. It’s just a wee tad young(ish). Hope they’ll keep a few early barrels until at least 2025.
SGP:561 - 92 points.

 

 

 

I’ve read my horoscope this morning. “More ex-bourbon Chichibu for you”, it said…

Chichibu 2008/2018 (60.8%, OB, Malt Dream Cask, for Bar Tee-Airigh, bourbon barrel, cask #180, 183 bottles)

Chichibu 2008/2018 (60.8%, OB, Malt Dream Cask, for Bar Tee-Airigh, bourbon barrel, cask #180, 183 bottles) Five stars
This is where you learn that the barley was Optic. All right then. Colour: gold. Nose: things are a bit more complicated at this high strength, but the overall feelings are pretty positive. Custard, good sawdust, melons and peaches, acacia honey and just a drop of cellulosic varnish. No worries, that’s the high strength… With water: oh good, tangerines, bananas, custard, panettone, dandelions, Danishes, orange blossom water. Mouth (neat): too strong and a tad rubbery this far. Water please… With water: success. Orange juice, touch of ginger, cider, grape pip oil, funny notes of kiwis… Finish: pretty long and rather all on greener fruits, rhubarb juice, more kiwis, gooseberries… Grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: that one was pretty citrusy and almost citric when watered down. And very clean. I find it excellent, but do not even consider tackling it without a proper quantity of H2O. Excellently tart, really.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Chichibu 2012/2019 (62%, OB, for Selfridges, cask #2074, 200 bottles)

Chichibu 2012/2019 (62%, OB, for Selfridges, cask #2074, 200 bottles) Five stars
For Selfridges, really? This baby first spent a large part of its life in an ex-Hanyu cask (did you hear there were plans to re-start Hanyu?) and was then transferred to a refill Chichibu hogshead. In Scotland some would call this ‘a family cask’ for lesser reasons. Colour: bright straw. Nose: peat, loud and clear. I suppose the last cask had sheltered some peated Chichibu. Tar, hessian, seaweed fire, Worcester sauce, brine, chillies, black olives… This is not what I was expecting at all, but I am a fan. With water: even more clean and bright peat. Wait, wasn’t this peated Chichibu in the first place? Vicks VapoRub, brine, oysters, tar, sea air, ‘a walk on the beach’, etcetera. Mouth (neat): burns you a wee bit -Selfridges, really? – and displays an Ardbeggy side that’s pretty obvious to me. Tarmac, hessian, old engine, kelp, seawater… But boy is it strong! With water: tar, liquorice, lemon liqueur, salt, a little cardamom. The closest thing to Ardbeg is Ardbeg – barely (S., that doesn’t make any sense). Finish: long, clean, smoky, salty, very coastal. Notes of passion fruits and grapefruits in the aftertaste. Pink pepper too. Comments: so I suppose it was a peated Chichibu (I’m telling you, Einstein reincarnated!) I’m glad we had it as the last one within this wee session. Great young peater.
SGP:556 - 90 points.

(Thank you mucho, Dornoch Castle and Whisky Bar and Friendship Dispensers!)

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

 

November 8, 2020


Whiskyfun

Some cognac for Joe B.

And that’s not Joe Bonamassa. But why not? Couldn’t we try a few new French brandies to celebrate the win of good sense and care, even if we may be on the verge of losing quite some worthy laughing matter, what do you say? Good, good, but first, an older aperitif, to push the gas in real smooth ;-)…

Hennessy ‘Fine Champagne VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-1985)

Hennessy ‘Fine Champagne VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-1985) one star and a half
A very large-volume expression that international travellers could have found just anywhere in the world, especially in travel retail and hotels. Moderate hopes here… Colour: amber (caramel). Nose: well in the expected style, that is to say ridden with raisins, liquid caramel, then melon and peach liqueurs, plus a wee metallic touch as well as notes of old middle-range sweet wine. There, Monbazillac. Some heather honey too. In fact, this is a pleasant nose, I can’t remember why we weren’t liking these when they were to be found just anywhere. You’re right, maybe because they were to be found just anywhere. Bunch of snobs! Mouth: too much caramel by today’s standards, really, and too much ‘liqueur’. That makes it a little cloying and in 2020, you would be soon to ask for a few ice cubes. Lots of raisins, maple syrup, corn syrup, and just a touch of tobacco. Finish: short and kind of going nowhere. A little rubber and some pancake syrup. The sugar wrecks the aftertaste. Comments: let’s not be too harsh, one could drink this but a sweet tooth would be needed. Yeah I know many households have still got such bottles under the telly… Just drop the telly!
SGP:730 - 68 points.

Good, let’s tackle some real stuff…

 

 

 

Delamain ‘Collection Revelation Malaville’ (45%, OB, Grande Champagne, cask #709-01, 460 bottles, 2020)

Delamain ‘Collection Revelation Malaville’ (45%, OB, Grande Champagne, cask #709-01, 460 bottles, 2020)
Delamain have got a huge reputation. They wouldn’t display the vintage here but they claim this is ‘very old’. Given that it’s Delamain, we believe them. Colour: gold. Nose: single cask, single vineyard cognac from a great house, how would anyone beat this. Sublime flowers (gorse, broom), plus loads of pollen, some mentholy touches, heather, tangerine, lemongrass, orange blossom, apricots, acacia and clover honeys, green oranges (Hermès’s). Sublime freshness, extremely aromatic but without the tiniest iota of headiness. Mouth: look, first you put the bottle back into the cupboard, and only then you take your glass in your hands. Wonderfully oriental (baklavas, mint tea), with touches of tobacco, halva and nougat, tangerine liqueur, quince jelly… It may get a wee tad grassier and a touch more tannic over the minutes, but that’ just nothing. Finish: medium, fresh, always on this rather stunning combination that would involve tangerines, honeys and various mints. Comments: we may be a little too fast already. Lost one or two points after the middle on the palate.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

 

 

Oh while we’re at it…

 

 

Delamain 50 yo 1965/2015-2020 ‘Collection Apogée’ (44%, OB, Grande Champagne, dame-jeanne #339-01, 42 bottles, 2020)

Delamain 50 yo 1965/2015-2020 ‘Collection Apogée’ (44%, OB, Grande Champagne, dame-jeanne #339-01, 42 bottles, 2020)
This one stems from a vineyard in Verrières. It was decanted into a demijohn in 2015, and bottled this year. Oh how we hope our friends in Scotland would do this too! Well, actually some did with some old bottles (Macallan or Glenmorangie, for example). That’s the whole idea behind an ‘apogee’, stopping wood maturation just when the spirit reached its peak. Colour: red amber. Nose: well it may be only 50, but it’s already gathered notes of varnish, cellulose, or old pinecones for example. On the other hand, these notes of old cigars, rancio, chocolate and coffee are just superb, provided you like them dry – I know I do. Some tamarind jam, starkrimsons and overripe damsons at the fruit department. Less ‘obvious’ than the Revelation, perhaps a little more ‘reflective’. Do you say that? Mouth: oh you just feel it was the right time. Loads of thin mints, black Assam, ground coffee and even touches of chicory, then various chocolates, dry black raisins, then the expected spices, cloves, cinnamon… What’s really funny is how the fruits are arriving later this time, especially citrons and blood oranges. All this chocolate and all this citrus lead us straight to Jaffa cakes I believe. Which I love. Finish: rather long and rather more on teas and chocolate again, as expected. Crunching coffee beans and roasted cocoa pods, torrefaction. Comments: wondering if I didn’t enjoy the younger sibling even better. Now you can have ten glasses of the latter, whilst you’ll just have two of this 1965. That’s much cheaper.
SGP:461 - 90 points.

 

 

 

Back to a younger one…

Jean-Luc Pasquet ‘Le Cognac d’Elisabeth L.89’ (46.3%, OB, Petite Champagne, 398 bottles)

Jean-Luc Pasquet ‘Le Cognac d’Elisabeth L.89’ (46.3%, OB, Petite Champagne, 398 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one from a small domaine called ‘La Grange du Bois’ which just stopped producing cognac. Their last harvest was 2015. It’s absolutely thrilling that the house Pasquet managed to save this cask and to bottle it in its full singular glory under their ‘Esprit de Famille’ banner. Colour: amber. Nose: back to freshness, this time with a rather elegant, somewhat self-restrained style that would rather gather ripe orchard fruits such as mirabelles, quinces, yellow peaches, then acacia honey and just a wee handful of juicy sultanas. This one totally stays on track. Whiffs of rose petals arising after a few minutes, with even touches of muscat grapes. Lovely nose. Mouth: firmer and tighter, starting with lemon balm and a little peppermint, in a style that’s a tad more rustic than that of the Delamains. Now I rather dig rusticity. Old apples, rhubarb, a few walnuts and bitter almonds, quite some tobacco for sure (chewing on your untipped Craven A, circa 1975 ;-))… At times you’d almost believe this is apple brandy. Great apple brandy, naturally. Finish: long, still a little rustic. Comments: excellent Sunday morning cognac, I would say. After church, of course.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

Another Petite Champagne please…

Cognac Sponge ‘Edition No.2 Heritage N.69’ (48.8%, WhiskySponge, Grosperrin, Petite Champagne, 250 bottles)

Cognac Sponge ‘Edition No.2 Heritage N.69’ (48.8%, WhiskySponge, Grosperrin, Petite Champagne, 250 bottles) Five stars
This is well Cognac Sponge, not Konjac Sponge mind you. Of course that’s a real thing. Now that a subject of her most gracious majesty would add old Napo to one of his labels remains hard to understand on this side of the Channel. As for the vintage, well, Serge Gainsbourg, come out of this body! Colour: amber. Nose: back to the older ones, with fruits that get kind of subdued while coffee, tobacco and chocolate are coming to the front. But it remains a fruity old cognac, with ripe damsons, glazed chestnuts, overripe apples… Mouth: it’s amazing how close we are to the Pasquet, despite these extra twenty years. Same slightly rustic style, with grasses, tobacco, leaves, some peppers, black raisins, pipe tobacco, black tea, fruit peelings. Wee menthol and liquorice too. Finish: rather long, still leafy and, well, rustic in a good way. What’s perfect is that it would gear towards wild honeys in the aftertaste. Purple-heather honey, for example. Bang, two more points! Comments: you could have two after church, no? A tad rough and tough yet splendid, to be poured into your favourite hipflask.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Brandy 27 yo 1993/2020 (52.3%, Thompson Bros., 409 bottles)

Brandy 27 yo 1993/2020 (52.3%, Thompson Bros., 409 bottles) Four stars
This brandy was bottled in Scotland and was ‘early landed – late bottled’, which will prevent it from being labelled as ‘cognac’ – provided it’s cognac indeed. No cognac that wasn’t fully matured in the region can be called cognac these days, I believe only Hine were still benefitting from a temporary derogation. Have to work on this… Colour: amber. Nose: wait, it does not quite smell like cognac. Rather armagnac, or maybe even Spanish brandy, with these rather huge coffee notes. Or Armenian brandy? Tobacco, chocolate, coffee, Bovril, metal polish… With water: chocolate, mint, Maggi, pu-her, dried porcinis. Mouth (neat): could be cognac on the palate, really. More fruits, peaches, maple syrup, black nougat, sultanas, pinesap… I’m absolutely not an expert but I think this is quite in the style of some ‘extreme’ cognac makers, such as Bouju or Forgeron. With water: I’m not sure. Probably cognac, but a rather mentholy one. Icy mint and dark chocolate, or some crazy stuff by Starbucks. Finish: long, rather all on chocolate and tobacco. You rather have to fight it. A drop of bervea or even genepy liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: you could almost call this a liquid cigar. I kind of thought it was a Jerezian on the nose, but the palate’s way too dry for that. We might never know…
SGP:461 - 86 points.

That’s enough. Many more cognacs soon on WF, stay tuned.

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

 

November 7, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Closed distilleries and silent stills
It’s always good to revisit these names from time to time when the sample pile allows. It’s true that not all closed distilleries were great all the time, indeed, many could be pretty unlikely and often difficult. But, as so often with ‘old style’ whiskies, when they’re on top form they can really fly high. It looks like quite the mixed bag today but it’s always a pleasure - and fun - to try these makes…

 

Imperial 26 yo 1994/2020 (45.3%, The Whisky Exchange for ‘The Whisky Show’, cask #5874, barrel, 198 bottles)

Imperial 26 yo 1994/2020 (45.3%, The Whisky Exchange for ‘The Whisky Show’, cask #5874, barrel, 198 bottles)
It’s great news that there’s quite a few Imperial still coming out, worth enjoying while it lasts I would say. Colour: straw. Nose: super clean with fresh barley, cereals and chalky and waxy tones. Rather a lot of citrus peels, bergamot, clay and wee touches of honeycomb and furniture polish. Light but very expressive and undeniably quite old school and even ‘Clynelish-esque’. Mouth: bitter lemon, citrus rinds again, mineral oils, chalk, limestone, hessian and waxed fabrics. These impressions of various cooking and mechanical oils with lighter cereal tones still fading in and out. On the lighter side but still very good. Finish: medium, with some green herbs, floral teas, dried mint, white pepper and more polished cereal notes. Comments: Fragile but very beautiful and elegant. These more distinctive old style waxy qualities sit very deftly alongside the lighter cereal and citrus aspects. A little more oomph would have propelled it higher I suspect.
SGP: 461 - 88 points.

 

 

Caperdonich 22 yo 1997/2020 (60.5%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #19130, bourbon barrel, 171 bottles)

Caperdonich 22 yo 1997/2020 (60.5%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #19130, bourbon barrel, 171 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: extremely punchy and chiselled, austere but not in a monolithic way. Lots of wet fabrics, linens, chalk, limestone, putty, sourdough and soda bread. Wee notes of ink, newspaper and mineral water with lemon slices. Extremely pure and with an encroaching minerality that quickly becomes quite assertive and punchy. With water: crisp cereals, fresh butter, parsley, green tea, yellow flowers - very organic, natural and a touch more elegant now. Mouth: snapped twigs, hessian, malt extract, barley water, bitter lemon, carbon paper - this is big, punchy, rather complex and very distillate driven. I’m a fan! With water: grassy with some expensive olive oil, mineral oils, sunflower seeds, hints of camphor and shoe polish. Powerful but well restrained and controlled. Getting sharply peppery now too. Finish: long, bready, rich, malty, cereal and full of taut yeasty notes and wee hints of wax, white pepper and bitter lemon again. Comments: Impressive and powerful Caperdonich that has no shortage of charisma but requires water, attention and patience.
SGP: 361 - 87 points.

 

 

Lochside 37 yo 1981/2018 (50.7%, Gene’s Dram, cask #766, sherry butt, 210 bottles)

Lochside 37 yo 1981/2018 (50.7%, Gene’s Dram, cask #766, sherry butt, 210 bottles)
We don’t get to try too many Lochsides anymore these days, sadly. Colour: light coppery amber. Nose: it’s the sherry that speaks first with lots of lovely soft bready and chocolate vibes. Then those very typical Lochside fruits such as guava, pineapple and papaya. Hints of green banana and star fruit as well. This wonderful impression slightly overripe and texturally ‘pulpy’ fruits. A wee scatter of sultanas and raisins too. With water: mango jam, very fragrant, background waxiness, rapeseed oil, herbal and exotic fruit teas and some rosewater. Dammit! I miss Lochside! Mouth: superb arrival! Big thick oily fruitiness, with little flashes of wood spices, espresso, herbal cocktail bitters, dried mango, metal polish. Like many old Lochsides from these vintages, parts of it are reminiscent of some very old Irish pure pot whiskeys with these slightly mechanical, oily and bready complexities. Although here the fruits are riper and much more voluptuous. With water: more nervous, more spicy, more thready notes of brittle waxes, eucalyptus bark, fir wood, tea tree oils and long aged cheng pi. This impression of lightly spiced treacle and golden syrup over crystallised tropical fruits. Finish: long, perfectly bitter and herbal, getting earthier with more firm notes of dark teas, brown breads, bitter chocolate and liquorice. Comments: Superb, what I really love is that at no point do you feel the whisky is tired. Instead it just kind of keeps evolving and revealing new pockets of flavour and character, yet you never lose sight of the Lochside DNA.
SGP: 651 - 91 points.

 

 

Glenury Royal 35 yo 1984/2020 (49.1%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘125th Anniversary’, cask #2335, sherry butt, 397 bottles)

Glenury Royal 35 yo 1984/2020 (49.1%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘125th Anniversary’, cask #2335, sherry butt, 397 bottles)
While it is wonderful that many newer and smaller indy bottlers are able to issue casks from closed distilleries still, its unquestionably Gordon & MacPhail who remain the kings of this kind of latter day lost distillery release. This quartet of bottlings for their 125th anniversary have been causing some chatter so far this year, but let’s taste rather than chat (what?!) This Glenury hails from the penultimate year of the distillery’s production. Colour: amber. Nose: deep, unctuous and wonderfully earthy sherry that also expressed many dense and sticky dark fruits. Plums drizzled with old balsamic, raspberry wine, green walnut liqueur, Irish coffee and this very particular kind of leathery, almost tarry, rancio. The kind of aroma that just seems to grow in complexity and keeps evolving in simultaneous directions. Now showing gamier sides and hints of very old Burgundian pinot noir. I believe ‘sumptuous’ is the word. Mouth: rich and deeply earthy, bitterly herbal and peppery. More gamey and leather notes and a very assertive bitterness that could arguably be too much. Cured meats, natural tar extracts, black pepper, strong back tea and some high-cocoa content dark chocolate. The meaty and bitter herbal qualities tend to dominate here; you get the sense of the cask closing in and a whisky left raging against the dying of the light. Finish: long, bitter, rancio, herbal, punchy tobacco notes, fruity black coffee and bitter cocoa powder. More gamey and animalistic cured meat tones in the aftertaste. Comments: this kind of meatiness is a rather divisive style I find, however, personally I rather find the bitter aspects on the palate more problematic. But this really is nit-picking. Like so many older drams, the nose was a 93 point sensation, whereas the palate was slightly more disjointed by age. But fans of dark and dusky old sherry bombs will undeniably require spare trousers and an armchair…
SGP: 572 - 89 points.

 

 

Mosstowie 40 yo 1979/2020 (49.8%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘125th Anniversary’, cask #20323, refill sherry hogshead, 164 bottles)

Mosstowie 40 yo 1979/2020 (49.8%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘125th Anniversary’, cask #20323, refill sherry hogshead, 164 bottles)
Mosstowie was, of course, a single malt produced on Lomond stills at Miltonduff distillery between 1964 and 1981. Colour: deep gold. Nose: shy at first with a slowly unfurling resinous quality that takes in long-brewed fruit teas, lemon infused olive oil, hessian and citronella wax. Indeed, these lemon and tea impressions continue to grow with time. I also find some matcha, pot pourri, sandalwood and very subtle notes of dried tarragon, bergamot and lapsing souchong. Fragility but also complexity - an undeniably compelling combination that forces you to pay attention. In time more obvious and classical notes of waxes, polish and honeys emerge. Mouth: it’s cool how Mosstowie - always a rather funny make - remains charmingly unusual even at this kind of age. There’s an initial punch of white pepper, but also pressed wildflowers, strong green tea, slightly bitter herbal notes, greengage, lamp oil and some rather umami and savoury notes like bouillon and mushroom powder. This deceptive lightness certainly harbours complexity. As on the palate it evolves more towards honeys, pollens and various fruit resins. Bitter citrus fruit piths, kumquat, grapefruit and herbal teas again. Finish: long, leafy, peppery, bitter fruits, dried tarragon, wormwood, more assorted teas and a warming, herbal and once again resinous aftertaste. Comments: The kind of whisky that you could just totally miss if you came across it mid-session with many other more obvious whiskies on the table. But there is a shyness, a sense of charm and almost an invitation about this whisky that is worth taking time over. I find this fragile complexity extremely beautiful.
SGP: 551 - 90 points.

 

 

Glencraig 44 yo 1975/2020 (54.2%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘125th Anniversary’, cask #9868, refill hogshead, 110 bottles)

Glencraig 44 yo 1975/2020 (54.2%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘125th Anniversary’, cask #9868, refill hogshead, 110 bottles)
As with Mosstowie, Glencraig was a malt made on Lomond stills but this time at Glenburgie distillery and between 1958 and 1981. Colour: gold. Nose: beautiful and classical, an ode to time + refill wood. This great big knotted fusion of precious honeys, pollens, nectars, waxes and tiny notes of hibiscus, juniper, wormwood, lanolin and camphor. Deep, syrupy, texturally thick and revealing all these wonderfully concentrated notes of various green and exotic fruit syrups and cordials. With water: menthol tobacco and slightly medicinally herbal qualities such as wormwood, wintergreen and cough syrup. Fragrant, elegant but still firm and assertive. Mouth: superb arrival, all on waxes, peppery warmth, nervous fruits, even a very tiny thready note of salinity. Lemon rind, kumquat, jasmine tea, turmeric and dried flowers. Tense and rather nervous but not tired. There’s wood here but it’s this wonderfully clean, fragrant and elegantly spicy oak that goes with the whisky rather than against. With water: terrifically textural, waxy, full of honeycomb, olive oil, clay, mineral oils and lanolin. Finish: long, leafy, waxy, herbal, medicinal, dried out honey and these camphor and hessian qualities. Comments: there are undoubtedly aspects of this where the character has rather converged on ‘generic old style, long aged malt whisky’ flavour. However, given Glencraig was never exactly the ‘Lagavulin of Lomond Still’, this isn’t really a criticism. The overriding impression is just one of exquisite elegance, poise and pure, old style class.
SGP: 652 - 91 points.

 

 

Coleburn 47 yo 1972/2020 (62.4%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘125th Anniversary’, cask #3511, refill sherry puncheon, 363 bottles)

Coleburn 47 yo 1972/2020 (62.4%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘125th Anniversary’, cask #3511, refill sherry puncheon, 363 bottles)
Needless to say, this is the bottling that has garnered the most attention. And it’s not hard to see why - 47yo closed distillery single malts at over 60% aren’t exactly clogging up the whiskysphere. I’m told that the reason for the rather mental ABV is that the warehouse this cask was stored in just so happens - through reasons of poor ventilation - to be very good at retaining alcohol levels. Not sure about that, but if this is really G&M’s final cask of Coleburn, it’s extremely cool and smart that they saved this one till last. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s almost like two whiskies standing side by side. On one hand some high alcohol insanity - on the other: some beautifully honeyed, deftly waxy, incredibly subtle old style, long aged dram. You really have to wait for them to link up; the alcohol behaves almost as if is shedding years from the overall profile. Given blind you could say this was 15 or 25yo. It just really needs time I think. With patience there’s some stunningly complex and thick herbal jellies, wood resins, precious hardwoods, exotic teas, camphor, lanolin, rosewater and long aged dry Gewürztraminer. With water: stunning! Resins, herbs, waxes, medicines, wood oils, crystallised fruits, new world hops, natural tar. Amazing development and a continually building complexity. Mouth: immense, crazy! And yet… it also rather makes sense, beautifully high end, estery, green and waxy fruits. Green banana, cider apple, mango, lime pith, pineapple tinned in its own syrups, hessian, pumpkinseed oil - the kind of whisky you could go on dissecting for literally hours. With water: totally spellbinding development, and the texture is just incredible. Like molten wax mixed with the best olive oil. Tar, herbs, umami paste, honeys, delicate medicinal tones, some kind of ancient mead. Pure, rivetingly complex, ancient highland style malt whisky. The texture is really just immense, you almost feel it dripping from your teeth! Enough of this madness, you know who to call…! Finish: wonderfully long, immensely honeyed and beautifully warming. Flashes and pops of everything that’s gone before. A paean to complexity and time. Comments: Hard to know what to say about this whisky. A dram with many shades and personalities that you could spend literally hours and several stages of dilution picking apart - I suspect you could easily make an open bottle last a decade. We’re really at the crossroads where intellect meets pleasure - exactly where and why I’m into whisky. 
SGP: 662 - 93 points.

 

 

 

 

November 5, 2020


Whiskyfun

A large bag of blended whiskies

Blended whiskies of various brands and origins, some not really ‘blends’ and rather single malts in disguise, some others totally malt-driven, some with stories and others rather not… In short, a real hotchpotch of bastards (yep).

Jane Walker 10 yo (41.9%, OB, blended malt, +/-2019)

Jane Walker 10 yo (41.9%, OB, blended malt, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
This baby that came with a fashionable ‘natural strength look-alike’ is ‘a celebration of the pioneering women who stretched boundaries throughout the history of Johnnie Walker’. I don’t know if our dear whisky friends who, incidentally, also happen to be women really approve this kind of ‘message on a bottle’. We should ask them… although I seem to remember there was severe backlash when this came out. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a rather light and fruity one, a tad acidic, rather on green fruits, white peaches, kiwis or gooseberries, with good tart freshness. I’m reminded of some fresh young indie Glendullans or Glen Speys. Nice nose, not particularly ‘feminine’, as we used to say before, say 2010. Mouth: more tart and with acidic fruitiness, granny smith, greengages, rhubarb, and a little saccharose. Finish: medium, with some malt and apple pie. Cider apples. Comments: I find it pretty decent. And I won’t add to the incredible volume that has gone before about this little whisky. Let’s move on.
SGP:451 - 78 points.

Johnnie Walker 12 yo ‘Black Label Lowlands Origins’ (42%, OB, Origin series, blended Scotch, 2019)

Johnnie Walker 12 yo ‘Black Label Lowlands Origins’ (42%, OB, Origin series, blended Scotch, 2019) Two stars
Of course we’d prefer to have the Islay, which happens to be a blended malt whilst this one’s a blend, but there. Possibly an even softer Glenkinchie, let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: shall we call it summery? There’s some light grain whisky for sure, apples, something metallic (cutlery), a little bourbon oak, dandelions, whiffs of border liqueurs (liqueurs they sell at border shops, rather tax-free)…  Possibly the exact opposite of, say Clynelish. Mouth: a little sweet, very light, on vanilla, shortbread, orange drops and a little cinnamon and ginger from the oak. I believe the casks were ‘bigger’ than the spirit. Finish: short and sweet, a little liqueury indeed. A little coffee and vanilla. Comments: a fair blend that may, indeed, reproduce the current average profile of the Lowlands if you take the few active malts and the various grain distilleries into account. And, agreed, not quite the new Lowland cats such as Daftmill. Very light, Black Label without much smoke isn’t exactly Black Label, is it?
SGP:431 - 75 points.

Blended Scotch 26 yo 1993/2019 (44.9%, Chapter 7, blended malt, sherry butt, cask #16, 618 bottles)

Blended Scotch 26 yo 1993/2019 (44.9%, Chapter 7, blended malt, sherry butt, cask #16, 618 bottles) Four stars
From their ‘Monologue’ series, let’s see if we find any grains… (me looking for grain whisky, imagine!) Colour: gold. Nose: does feel like a blend indeed, with a lighter side (Nescafé, a little coconut, vanillin, old coins, varnish) but also some firmer malts, with some green tea, melons, nuts, earth and roasted nuts. Nice menthol and tiny herbs too, which is most pleasant. A complex nose, wondering how it was married – and for how long since this is a single butt. Mouth: definitely old-school, we’re remembering some much older blends, perhaps White Horse, White Heather… The aristocracy! Soot, wax, earth, minerals, fruit peelings, Seville oranges, a touch of salt, a drop of mead… Some upper-echelon blend for sure. Finish: medium, malty, rather on walnut wine, coffee and indeed, dry sherry. Earthy aftertaste. Comments: a mysterious blend that’s certainly not a wet noodle, if you allow me.
SGP:452 - 85 points.

Blended Malt 18 yo 2001/2020 (46.4%, Les Grands Alambics, Birds Series, sherry butt)

Blended Malt 18 yo 2001/2020 (46.4%, Les Grands Alambics, Birds Series, sherry butt) Four stars and a half
Birds rule! Flowers too. Les Grands Alambics (either ‘the tall stills’ or ‘the great stills’) is a fairly new French bottler who’s undoubtedly committed to quality. Colour: deep gold. Nose: game and old copper, balsa and cedar woods, old humidor, marmalade, roasted pecans and walnuts, chocolate, a little beef stock, cigars, walnut wine, a touch of shoe polish… This could well be an excellent single mind from around Aviemore… Or Craigellachie. Emphasis on ‘could’. Mouth: classic cigary and meaty sherry at first, going on with tobacco, mushrooms, moss, tea and bitter oranges. Droplets of Chartreuse and more chocolate coming through over time. This time I’m reminded of some fine chocolates that used to shelter verbena liqueur. Not sure anyone’s still making those delicacies. Finish: medium, tidy, with dry/burnt raisins and cakes. As an Alsatian, I cannot not mention kougelhopf. Cracked pepper and bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: superb. No we won’t mention any distillery.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

Whisky Works Quartermaster 11 yo (46.4%, OB, Whyte & Mackay, blended Scotch, 2134 bottles, 2020)

Whisky Works Quartermaster 11 yo (46.4%, OB, Whyte & Mackay, blended Scotch, 2134 bottles, 2020) Four stars and a half
This is a blend of two Speysiders (ex-bourbon and ex-sherry) plus one grain (ex-rum and partially PX). Some Invergordon in there, I suppose, and possibly some Fettercairn, which should be recognisable, let’s check that out… Colour: gold. Nose: like! Wait, we aren’t on Facebook, but I seem to find some Fettercairny aromas indeed, around, say metallic burnt nuts, damp black earth and leather, plus rather a lot of black cigars (remember the Italian Toscani?) and dried mushrooms. I wouldn’t stake my life on it but I would say there’s quite a lot of Fettercairn in there indeed. Works extremely well in a blend. Mouth: hold on, this is rather awesome indeed! Many roasted and slightly burnt nuts of all kinds, leather, cigars, bitter chocolate, ristretto coffee (last time I let some Italian friends taste some ‘ristretto’ by Nespresso they burst out laughing), and then a meaty/gamy side. Could be that there ‘would’ be a little Jamaican rum in there. Finish: rather long, a tad metallic and certainly earthy. Crunching your cigar while you weren’t paying attention. Touches of chilli in the aftertaste. Comments: who made this little blend? Dear Richard P.? Very smart, truly characterful composition. I’m most certainly dreaming but I’m also reminded of that great old official Glen Mhor 10 yo now… (bang, one more point).
SGP:362 - 88 points.

 

 

 

This Is Not a Festival Whisky (49%, Compass Box, excusive to LMDW, blended Scotch, 1260 bottles, 2020)

This Is Not a Festival Whisky (49%, Compass Box, excusive to LMDW, blended Scotch, 1260 bottles, 2020)
Magritte has struck again. This is meant to be a 15 years old blend, with four malts and two grains inside, most older than 15. Let’s check the proportions of Clynelish ;-)… Colour: straw. Nose: of course it’s great. There was no Whisky Live Paris this year but this IS a whisky. Superb freshness, with kelp, wax, beach bonfire, bread dough (Parisian baguette obviously), menthol, soot, chicken soup, mud, earth, hessian… Mouth: smokier than expected, as there was a good proportion of Islay malt I’m sure, waxy and ‘marrowy’, with some pepper, seashells, plasticine, lemon liqueur, almond oil, some soot, chalk, salt, brine, olives, roots… Woo-hoo! Finish: perhaps a tad shorter than expected - and that’s most certainly because of the grains – but the shape is perfect. Comments: I think they may have recreated, willingly or not, some of A&H’s old malt-driven blends. Ainslie’s (not Royal Edinburgh), or Glen Brora… Superb work, very ‘Compass Box’. Strength and body were perfect too. I just hope they would have done this even if Paris hadn’t been cancelled. No bad karma in whisky!
SGP:464 - 90 points.

 

 

While we’re at it…

 

 

The Peat Monster ‘Arcana’ (46%, Compass Box, blended malt, 8328 bottles, 2020)

The Peat Monster ‘Arcana’ (46%, Compass Box, blended malt, 8328 bottles, 2020)
This is the classic Peat Monster, further aged for two years in ‘custom French barrels’. Love the little monster on the label, very reminiscent of the Rhenish renaissance and of Matthias Grünewald’s paintings. Hieronymus Bosch isn’t too far either. Colour: white wine. Nose: cross, or meta. In this case the French oak imparted aromas that are seldomly found in Scotch whisky. This is almost a blend of young peated Islay (south shore) with some mezcal, genever and gentian eau-de-vie. Mud, grasses, caraway, juniper, lime, raw buckwheat, a little mustard… Mouth: I’m a little less into these kinds of ‘forward’ spices, but it’s still great whisky, great composition, with great salty smokes. I prefer them with a little less peppers and chillies, shall I say, less cloves, less juniper berries… But that’s me. Finish: long, spicy. Comments: was the chef in love? The various Peat Monsters usually cruise along the 87-88 line, this one’s a tad less for me. Just a tad.
SGP:456 - 85 points.

 

 

A young undisclosed Speysider to flush all that peat away and we’ll be done…

 

 

Speyside Malt 10 yo (48%, The Single Mats of Scotland

Speyside Malt 10 yo (48%, The Single Mats of Scotland, Reserve Casks, LMDW, Parcel No. 4, 2020)
The colour suggests this is Glenfarclas (of course I’m joking, colours won’t tell). Colour: amber with reddish hues. Nose: burnt cake, millionaire shortbread, pancake syrup, milk chocolate, roasted black currants, a touch of earth, ad few bits of pipe tobacco. Clean rounder sherry. Mouth: more burnt cakes and raisins, lorryloads of gingerbread and speculoos, then notes of cloves, caraway and juniper. When is Christmas again? Feliz Navidad! (we might be a little early…) Finish: rather long, thick. You just had some Christmas cake. Spicier aftertaste. Comments: some no-fuss heavily sherried young malt, strictly flawless. £250 with an M on the bottle.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

 

 

 

Unless, a last fine bastard…

Black Tartan 31 yo 1988/2020 ‘88’ (48%, Black Tartan, Skene, blended malt, hogshead, cask #16, 337 bottles)

Black Tartan 31 yo 1988/2020 ‘88’ (48%, Black Tartan, Skene, blended malt, hogshead, cask #16, 337 bottles) Four stars and a half
This is Edrington stock, that is to say Macallan, Highland Park and Glenrothes ‘blended at birth’. That’s absolutely not impossible, but there are quite a few such casks around and some say they’re actually rather single… Oh forget about that part, on to the whisky! Colour: light gold. Nose: awesome, fresh and soft, with some honey and some barley syrup, touches of varnish and raw kirsch (stone fruit spirit), a little pine resin and eucalyptus, pine needles, then more fruits, around peach and melon jams. There is a little oak (sawdust and vanilla) but I’m not even sure I should have mentioned that. Lovely nose indeed. Mouth: picks up where the nose ended, on some moderate oakiness and some pine resin and cough syrup, while the jams would appear a little later. Peach and melon again, something tropical (bananas)… There’s some very good honey too, while some black pepper’s getting a little louder over time. Bitter oranges straight from the tree (never do that). Finish: rather long and spicier. More pepper and cinnamon, a little green and dry. Comments: excellent, in the same very good vein as several other indie ex-Edrington blended malts I could try, but this one is probably around the top of the pile. As for my humble score, it is not a joke at all, honestly.
SGP:462 - 88 points.
 

November 4, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Ben Nevising
It’s quite funny how Ben Nevis is all of a sudden such a trendy name, especially in light of how it was considered at best quaint and obscure for many years, and at worst difficult and weird. While it is a distillate and a distillery that’s always had its charms, I don’t find it altogether surprising that it has found its moment in the spotlight.

 

In many ways it’s a notable bellwether for this increasing recognition of, and rising desire for, characterful, more individualistic single malts that buck the vanilla trend. Now, I admit that a large part of this is down to almost a single parcel of quite stunning 1996 casks, but there’s also plenty evidence emerging that even relatively new youngsters are also showing attitude and panache. It’s all good news I would say, provided the Japanese don’t ruin it, but that’s another (as yet incomplete) story.

 

 

Today we’ll have some more examples of these highly reputable 1996s but also a few older ones, including some of the distillery’s old brands…

 

 

MacDonald’s Glencoe 8 yo Malt Whisky (100 proof, OB, R N MacDonald & Co, early 1970s)

MacDonald’s Glencoe 8 yo Malt Whisky (100 proof, OB, R N MacDonald & Co, early 1970s)
According to my trusty Schweppe’s Guide To Scotch, this brand should have launched in 1970 so I suspect this may be one of its earliest iterations. How much Ben Nevis is actually inside is anyone’s guess, but the brand and the distillery have long been associated, and remain so to this day. Colour: pale gold. Nose: old style in the sense that this is very raw, gravelly and without too much in the way of cask polish. Instead you get shoe polish (oh dear) and concrete, some wet grains and fabrics and clay. Some vegetal notes that point towards OBE as well. Not super impressive and rather on the austere side. With water: some earthy and dry spices such as turmeric, overripe orange peel, mashed potatoes. Not the most inspiring. Mouth: hmmm, I’m finding a lot of hot plasticine, pain porridge and an undeniably thread of soapiness. Which is just on the verge of too much for me; I’m pretty sensitive to soapiness in whisky. Cooking oils, wet grains, a bit of cardboard - which again points to OBE. With water: better and a bit cleaner with water. The soap fades right back and there is indeed a little more waxiness and notes of bouillon and buttery toast. More towards what you might hope for or expect in such a bottling I suppose. But globally remains rather tough, austere and sharp. Finish: short, gritty, rough and with cooking oils, ink and vegetal notes. Comments: Quite simply, a disappointment.
SGP: 251 - 67 points.

 

 

MacDonald’s Glencoe 8 yo ‘100% Malt Pure Highland Malt Scotch Whisky’ (100 proof, OB, R N MacDonald & Co, -/+ 1975)

MacDonald’s Glencoe 8 yo ‘100% Malt Pure Highland Malt Scotch Whisky’ (100 proof, OB, R N MacDonald & Co, -/+ 1975)
There’s an original price sticker on the back on this bottle declaring a retail price of £7.60, which despite sounding laughable today, was actually quite expensive for that era. Colour: orangey amber - caramel? Nose: there’ s a similar line of austerity, but overall this is purer, slightly more polished and with a greater sense of richness. Some breads, waxes, cereals, flints - a general sense of ‘Highland’ malt whisky indeed. Also these wee sooty and camphory touches. With water: more subtle and supple. Engine oils, toasted seeds, breads, old workshop aromas of rusty toolboxes, oily rags and hessian. Mouth: feels like there’s more sherry in this vatting. RIcher, oilier, fatter, waxier, notes of bone marrow, bouillon, mustard powder, shoe polish, new leather, natural tar and ink. It’s still an austere style, but there’s more charisma and complexity to make it interesting, and it’s also cleaner than its earlier sibling overall. With water: some winter spices such as cloves and cinnamon, alongside rye bread, cooking oils, bitter herbs and a wee touch of cardboard and plain porridge. Finish: medium, rather gingery and spicy, new leather again, white pepper, more herbs and camphor. Comments: I think the batches under this livery were undeniably superior. Although, this is still more of a historical curiosity than an essential box tick. Probably best suited to soggy hill walks in actual Glencoe.
SGP: 462 - 80 points.

 

 

Not the most inspiring start to a tasting session. But I suspect things are about to improve…

 

 

Ben Nevis 1970/1996 (52.2%, OB, cask #4537, 232 bottles)

Ben Nevis 1970/1996 (52.2%, OB, cask #4537, 232 bottles)
One of many now pretty obscure old official single casks that the distillery issued during the 1990s. Colour: deep coppery gold. Nose: orange marmalade, shoe polish, old leather, hessian and an almost gelatinously textural impression of camphor and vapour rubs. Thickness is what this whisky impresses upon you - a sense of texture and fatness. Barbour grease, waxes, olive oil, putty and a hint of leaf mulch and damp tobacco. With water: gravel, mineral oils, animal furs, blood orange, bone marrow, metal polish, steel wool - charismatic but quite mad. Mouth: it has this quality that I can only describe as being reminiscent of very old pure pot Irish whiskey. Immensely grassy olive oil notes, metal polish, soot, coins, camphor, lamp oil and lanolin. Toasted wood spices, natural tar and yet more camphor. Unlike almost any other whisky really - although there are similarities with some old Loch Lomond makes perhaps (no, not in a bad way). With water: here it begins to align more with contemporary Ben Nevis styles, there’s more easy waxiness, cooking oils, mineral oils, hessian, pepper and some green fruits. Becomes a little straighter and more easy, but this is still a rather far out malt whisky. Finish: long, very peppery, lightly medical, oily, camphory, tarry, mentholated and showing more notes of orange peel and bitter marmalade. Comments: You can really get a sense of why whisky lovers in the 90s and 00s never really knew what to make of Ben Nevis. The whisky was every bit as ‘out there’ as the distillery was geographically separate from most others. Totally idiosyncratic, totally bonkers and totally charming. Quite a hard thing to score, please take mine with a pinch of salt.
SGP: 562 - 89 points.

 

 

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (46.1%, Whisky Nerds, cask #954, hogshead, 75 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (46.1%, Whisky Nerds, cask #954, hogshead, 75 bottles)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: very typical and I’m also extremely glad I did this directly after the 1970 as you really see the descended DNA. This big, fatty, grassy, olive oil profile that alludes once again to Irishness, but here it’s buoyed by exotic and green fruits that add lusciousness and a more direct and easy waxiness. In short: it’s sexier, easier and a notch more balanced. Mouth: banana, papaya, mango, lychee, olive oil, wax, mineral oil, some dried bitter herbs, some soot and some touches of camphor and chalk. Just superb! Finish: good length, on the dry side with bitter herbs, waxes, mechanical oils, some gentle medical touches, putty and minerals. Comments: It’s this additional fruitiness in these batches which elevates them I think - totally brilliant whisky.
SGP: 652 - 90 points.

 

 

Ben Nevis 21 yo 1996 (48.8%, OB private bottling, cask #1407)

Ben Nevis 21 yo 1996 (48.8%, OB private bottling, cask #1407)
Colour: straw. Nose: chalk and lemon zest at first. Quite direct and simple and focussed to begin but given time it opens onto a more generous and pulpy ripe fruitiness featuring kiwi, lime, guava and pineapple. This lovely tension between green and exotic fruits. Some mango yoghurt, green banana and a fragrant waxiness that goes alongside some dried wildflowers and wee mineral touches. Mouth: this same sense of directness and narrowness. All on chalks, limestone, bitter citrus piths, freshly muddled green herbs, aspirin, pebbles and slightly sharp medicines. Then you get waxes, herbal bitters, menthol and underripe green fruits. Finish: long, peppery, waxy, bitterly herbal, mentholated, oily and mineral. A real sense of ‘highland style’ malt whisky. Comments: It’s a leaner and more punchy example with a little less opulence and more taut mineral assertiveness, but still the same wonderful quality.
SGP: 562 - 90 points.

 

 

Ben Nevis 20 yo 1999/2020 (53%, The Single Cask, cask #170, hogshead, 274 bottles)

Ben Nevis 20 yo 1999/2020 (53%, The Single Cask, cask #170, hogshead, 274 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: brighter, lighter and more citric. On rubbed lemon skin, chalk, limestone, buttery cereals, white pepper, a gentler more background waxiness and wee notes of putty and white stone fruits. Some sunflower oil and hand creams. With water: becomes very lean and mineral, some brittle, chalky notes, cereals, bitter citrus piths, grapefruit and furniture polish. Mouth: big, emphatic, oily, textural, slightly minty, waxy, putty, camphor yet again, mashed overripe banana, green herbs and some lighter cereal tones. With water: wonderfully peppery, oily and perfectly bitter and herbal. Watercress, rapeseed oil, green tea and star fruit. Finish: long, oily, peppery, waxy and with many more of these lightly bitter citrus fruit notes and olive oil hints. Comments: The 1996s are rightly lauded, and it’s true I did prefer the previous two by a tiny iota, but this is still wonderful, charismatic and deeply pleasurable whisky.
SGP: 651 - 89 points.

 

 

 

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

 

November 3, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Reconfined Sessions - 2
A trio of Ballechin

You have to reckon with the peated Edradour these days. It’s getting better and better and never feels ‘forced’. I mean, like ‘there’s a market for peat, let’s make some’.

Ballechin 2009/2019 ‘Vintage’ (46%, OB, First Fill bourbon barrels)

Ballechin 2009/2019 ‘Vintage’ (46%, OB, First Fill bourbon barrels) Four stars and a half
The Edradour 2009 in the same series is superb, and according to some whisky chatteratti, this is not bad either. Colour: straw. Nose: we sometimes use the expression ‘farmy peat’ and indeed, this is a farmy peat, and yet it’s rather pure, clean, not manure-y at all, and void of any dunginess (excuse me?) On the other hand, there’s a feeling of smoked hay that’s pretty perfect, a little lovage and soy sauce that, for once, doesn’t stem from sherry wood, and perhaps Provence herbs, the ones you would throw onto your BBQ when you’re… in Provence. Some lovely oils and waxes too, I knew this was going to be an awesome nose and almost a statement. Perfectly distillate-oriented. Mouth: perhaps, since Brora isn’t running yet, the finest peat on the mainland. Citrus, ink, a wee touch of fish oil, lemon oil, camphory syrup, peach leaf tea, a touch of white currant, a little tar… I would say this is not ‘gratuitous’ peat as seen elsewhere, it's fully integrated and ‘a whole’. Finish: rather long, zesty, with a little rapeseed oil. Comments: I’m a fan of Ballechin, and it’s improved very mucho since the early days. One of my dreams would be to be able to do an ‘old Ballechin’ (from the old distillery) vs. ‘new Ballechin’ session one day. Isn’t it good to have goals in life?
SGP:565 - 88 points.

And now a crazy new one that was meant to make an appearance at Whisky Live Paris 2020…

 

 

 

Ballechin 2005/2020 (60%, OB, for LMDW, Burgundy, cask #18)

Ballechin 2005/2020 (60%, OB, for LMDW, Burgundy, cask #18)
I know, there’s pinot noir in action here, but I’m sure we’ll be fine. After all, we’ve had other such concoctions and we’re still alive… Colour: amber with reddish hues. Nose: stewed nectarines and oranges with bits of leather and tobacco thrown in. More or less that. In truth they’ve much improved the recipe, I remember a Port Ellen Burgundy Finish that had been as strange as a footballer’s haircut. No, really. I’m also finding puréed chestnuts and assorted stuffed dates. With water: gunpowder comes out, used fireworks, marrow, salsify… Mouth (neat): a little strange indeed, on peppered coffee perhaps, ginger tonic, cassis buds, cabernet sauvignon rather than pinot noir, tar, roots (turnips), a meaty smokiness… Not too sure, it’s a little daring I would say. With water: water helps because it would pull out oranges. More ginger tonic as well. You’re right, Schweppes-orange. What did you expect? Finish: long, greener, leafier. Comments: a death seat after the ex-bourbon expression for sure, but it rather pulled through given the odd pedigree (after all, it’s more or less the offspring of the crossing of a giraffe with an anti vaxxer).
SGP:465 - 82 points.

 

 

 

Ballechin 15 yo 2004/2019 (52%, OB for Independent Whisky Bars of Scotland, bourbon, casks #74-76, 462 bottles)

Ballechin 15 yo 2004/2019 (52%, OB for Independent Whisky Bars of Scotland, bourbon, casks #74-76, 462 bottles) Five stars
Colour: chardonnay. Right, white wine. Nose: yess. A very waxy peatiness, greasy, with engine oils and other lubricants, paraffin aplenty, then lemon and hints of seawater, samphires, seaweed. Yeah I know where Pitlochry lies. Fern. Perfect, as often with very small batches that are often more complex than single casks. With water: new cracked pepper on top of all that. Mouth (neat): huge, almost brutal, very pungent, spiky, peppery, hugely mentholy… Feels 62% rather than just 52. With water: citrus taking over, lime and lemon, lemongrass, some ginger, green lapsang souchong, just green tea, green pepper… How green is all that? Finish: long, precise, with a little pistachio oil, which is just a sin. Holy Bessie, mother of Scotch, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death… Very smoky aftertaste. Comments: exactly.
SGP:466 - 90 points.

(Merci Lucero)

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

 

November 1, 2020


Whiskyfun
WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

October 2020

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Port Ellen 35 yo 1983/2020 (47.9%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind and Wave, cask #11535)  - WF93

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Bruichladdich 36 yo 1966/2002 'Legacy I' (40.6%, OB, 1500 bottles) - WF91

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Glenallachie 10 yo ‘Cask Strength Batch 4’ (56.1%, OB, 2020)  - WF88

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
W.I.R.D. 33 yo 1986/2020 (58.8%, Silver Seal, Barbados) - WF91

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Tenjaku (40%, OB, 'Japanese', +/-2020)  - WF60


Previous entries (archived)

 

 

 

 
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Golden Promise Whisky Bar Paris

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Performer:
Fraser Fifield and Graeme Stephen
Track:
Willie Murrays-Cockerel in the Creel
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