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Tasting notes:
Whiskies
14,790
Other spirits 1,845
Guests 755

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (86)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (10
3)
Banff (50)
Ben Nevis (1
4
8)
Ben Wyvis (3)
Benriach (1
70)
Benrinnes (
83)
Benromach (6
2)
Bladnoch (7
7)
Blair Athol (
83)
Bowmore (
508)
Braes of Glenlivet (4
6)
Brora (12
6)
Bruichladdich (2
82)
Bunnahabhain (3
42)
Dailuaine (60)
Dallas Dhu (3
8)
Dalmore (11
2)
Dalwhinnie (29)
Deanston (3
9)
Dufftown (51)

Edradour (70)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
50)
Laphroaig (4
3
5)
Ledaig (1
26)
Linkwood (1
4
8)
Littlemill (11
4)
Loch Lomond (
6
5)
Lochside (65)
Longmorn (2
1
5)
Longrow (7
2)
Macallan (300)
Macduff (6
8)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
4
3)
Millburn (2
3)
Miltonduff (
85)
Mortlach (1
8
4)
Mosstowie (2
2)

Scapa (46)
Speyburn (
44)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (3
46)
St-Magdalene (5
1)
Strathisla (
101)
Strathmill (
41)

 
 
Pete and Jack



2019
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No archives for 2002-2003

 
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The Magical History
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1969 - 1983

   


 

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Disclaimer
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

   
Leave feedback
   

Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-2019

 


Scotch Legal Announcement

 
 

September 22, 2019


Whiskyfun

More rums as they come

Aston
Aston helping with seecting some spirits to taste >>>
No pre-selection this time, Aston (WF’s official mouser) is choosing the rums for us. Watch him, he’s Scottish! Oh, no, not this, Aston!...

 

Barcelo ‘Gran Platinum’ (37.5%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2018)

Barcelo ‘Gran Platinum’ (37.5%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2018)
Indeed you could be ‘gran platinum’ and use the cheapest twist-caps there is. And wait, it seems that this was aged for six years (really?) and then charcoal-filtered so that it would get white again. Why isn’t Jack Daniels white then? (oh, Serge!) Colour: white. Nose: nada. Sugar and antifreeze? Looks like the charcoal has taken off just everything, not just the colours. Mouth: hello? Saccharose and traces of green bananas. Look, Barcelo’s 30 yo 'Imperial' had been pretty okay (WF 79, but of course they’re lying as far as age statements are concerned, that’s the main job of many a rum brand anyway, to lie smartly). Terrible palate. Finish: none whatsoever. What did we just try? Comments: why this bland? But indeed there are more important questions in life, such as ‘should we tolerate intolerance?’
SGP:310 - 25 points.

No dry food for you tonight, Aston! Unless you find something better… Oh!...

Sunset ‘Captain Bligh XO’ (40%, OB, St. Vincent, +/-2018)

Sunset ‘Captain Bligh XO’ (40%, OB, St. Vincent, +/-2018) one star and a half
This baby from St. Vincent and The Grenadines, which sounds very cool. I remember we’d tried their ‘Very Strong Rum’ a few months ago – mind you, we had managed to survive its 84.5% vol. back then! Colour: gold. Nose: it’s fine, light, rather on sugar cane, and dry at that, not pumped-up. Apparently, let’s see… Mouth: it’s good, rather Cuban-style, light and grassy, with good cane-iness, a thin body, and seemingly nothing repulsive or poisonous. Notes of wood dust. Finish: short, dry, rather clean. Comments: rather uninteresting, but pretty honest rum, with no dirty tricks that I could detect. For cocktails, I suppose. Nothing to add, I’m sure these islands are totally beautiful and the people very engaging.
SGP:310 - 69 points.

Aston, please!...

Abelha 3 yo ‘Gold Organic’ (38%, OB, Brazil, +/-2017)

Abelha 3 yo ‘Gold Organic’ (38%, OB, Brazil, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
Oh come on cat, this isn’t even rum, it’s cachaça! Yeah, I know I shouldn’t have put it into the rum shelves then… What’s interesting is that this was aged in garapeira, which is some tropical wood. Deforestation? Don’t get me started… Oh and remember, cachaça = cane juice, not molasses. And I think abelha means bee, so some honeyed notes are t be expected, I suppose… Colour: straw. Nose: frankly, the good cachaças can be extremely good. We did a nice session some years ago, I believe we ought to do a new one soon. So, this little Abelha is pretty grassy, it’s got these typical fermentary notes, notes of olives, agave, mead, old white Bourgogne, a touch of wood smoke… So it’s very nice, just a tad shy and that’s probably the lower strength. Mouth: why oh why didn’t they bottle it at 43, if not 45% vol? Bread, ferments, mead, salty capers, gingerbread, dough, a touch of wormwood… It’s a beautiful spirit, it’s just a little ‘wobbly in the knees’, as we sometimes say. Finish: medium, tarry, and with always quite some mead, and perhaps burnt, or pan-fried gingerbread. Comments: bottling this quality at 38% vol. equals murder. There, I said it.
SGP:451 - 78 points.

Aston!...

Travellers 11 yo 2005/2017 (64.4%, Boogieman Import, Belize, barrel, cask #2)

Travellers 11 yo 2005/2017 (64.4%, Boogieman Import, Belize, barrel, cask #2) Two stars
Always liked Belize’s Travellers, it’s just that I think it’s not the most characterful spirit on earth. Is it? And Aston, from 38% to 64% vol., that’s a little steep! Colour: dark gold. Nose: cakes, praline, pastries, and cane syrup. Exactly what we were expecting. With water: same. Perhaps a little earthier? A little chocolate too, Weetabix, caramel sauce, light honey, maple syrup… Mouth (neat): yeah, good columny rum from some pretty active wood, ridden with vanilla, orange liqueur, soft spices (cinnamon rolls), and a grassy kind of caramel. But at this strength, watch your tongue. With water: to rum what good grain whisky is to Scotch. Less is more! Finish: medium and perhaps a little thin, but the cask was good and the vanilla loyal. Some coconut in the aftertaste. Comments: really not my kind of rum, but it’s well made, for sure. Originally for blends, I suppose.
SGP:430 - 76 points.

Good progress Aston, but try harder…Yess, well done! (I’ll have to teach my cat the advantages of pot stills)…

Diamond 9 yo 2008/2018 (63.2%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Guyana, 258 bottles)

Diamond 9 yo 2008/2018 (63.2%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Guyana, 258 bottles) Three stars
They do not tell us about which still(s) have been in use here, except that they were pot stills. Good news. Colour: pale gold. Nose: between two worlds, I would say. Estery on the one side, rounder and lighter on the other side, with some fine vanilla-y wood keeping it tight and coherent. Nah, drop that, it’s fine but a tad light so far. With water: it’s some kind of diluted Hampden, seriously. Very nice, but rather a kick-boxer with gloves. Fewer olives, less tar, not as much brine, almost no new plastic or plasticine… Mouth (neat): but this is pear eau-de-vie! Seriously, pear spirit with a few drops of diesel oil thrown in. With water: there, some seawater, lemon juice, notes of pointed cabbage, sour fruit juices… Finish: rather long, but curiously thin(nish). Brine, liquorice and apple juice – rather than lemon juice. Comments: very good, just a little more hesitant, shall we say, than the usual Kill Devils. By the way, the devil’s completely dead now, but remember, ‘kill devil’ is just another old name for rum, a drink that could always cast out the demon. Provided you would drink enough of it, of course.
SGP:362 - 82 points.

Oh and Aston, I believe we'll let you get back to your business. That’s right, foooood!

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

 

September 21, 2019


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Two Highland Park
Time is short. So, if you don’t mind, let’s just have a couple of quick Highland Park. I know I’m regularly tasting indy HPs on these pages but there’s no shortage at the moment and they’re so often pleasurable and fun. And after all, this is Whiskfun. Maybe one day I’ll start ‘Whiskytoil’, just for complaining. Although, I think this website already exists, just go to Malt Revi… I’m kidding ;-).

 

Highland Park 8 yo 1999/2008 (60.6%, SMWS 4.125 ‘Nectar in a hip flask’)

Highland Park 8 yo 1999/2008 (60.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #4.125 ‘Nectar in a hip flask’)
This one came as both 70cl and 10cl variants. It’s the latter that we’re trying it from. Colour: straw. Nose: big, salty and with rather a lot of chalk, fabric, jaggedy minerals and salinity. Hints of lemon juice, lambic ale and sheep wool. A tad austere but very much in the raw HP direction. With water: some kind of salted lemon curd. Rope, hessian, sotty, some dried herbs and a little charcoal smoke. Mouth: it certainly announced both its age and strength. But it’s also rather full of putty, beach pebbles, sea shells and hints of seawater, medicine and very light, peppery peat. Good! With water: fatter with water. Develops an easy and rather medical side with a good deal more textural ‘presence’ in the mouth. Some ink, menthol tobacco, more soot and more embrocations and general seashore mineral clutter. Finish: Long and drying. Lots of sandalwood, cough medicine, moth balls and quite a big yeasty element. Comments: Pristine distillate. Probably would have been even better with a few more years of age but it works extremely well as is. I wouldn’t kick it out of my tumbler on a rainy night that’s for sure.

SGP: 363 - 86 points.

 

 

Orkney Single Malt 20 yo 1998/2019 (49.5%, Thompson Bros, refill hogshead, 353 bottles)

Orkney Single Malt 20 yo 1998/2019 (49.5%, Thompson Bros, refill hogshead, 353 bottles)
Love the label for this one! You can never have too many Viking references I think. Hopefully Edrington will take note one day… Colour: pale straw. Nose: that’s the thing about age, it just spreads everything around in such an enthralling way. The DNA between this one and the SMWS is clearly evident but you can also see all of Time’s additional decorating work that has taken place. The coastal aspect is more vivid and broad. There’s a more layered, honeyed sweetness and the medicine, peat and herbal notes have pretty much merged. There’s also quite a bit more mineral clout in this one too but it’s controlled and more precise than the SMWS - less scattergun (a prime candidate for the Axis of Minerality wouldn’t you say Serge?) Mouth: naturally sweet, buttery cereals, light notes of beeswax polish, sunflower oil. A rather delicate texture but the balance between lighter ointments and medical notes with crystallised citrus peels and herbal cough mixtures is pretty excellent. Lovely gentle sooty smokiness in the background, which builds over time to become a tad more dominant. Finish: Good length but perhaps a tad soft and thinning towards the end. These characters of chalky medicines, dried herbs and gorse flowers are all delightful though. Comments: I’m often feeling with these refill matured, very distillate-forward HPs that they are perfect drams for pouring a hefty measure into a tumbler and simply enjoying without too much overthinking. Nothing here is making me change my mind. Extremely easy, characterful and quaffable stuff.

SGP: 452 - 88 points.

 

 

Thanks to Julian.

 

 

 

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

 

September 19, 2019


Whiskyfun

Three indie Macallan

What’s really cool with the indie Macallans is that they all come with proper age and vintage statements. Would you ever buy a sportscar without knowing about the engine’s capacity ? Pomerol without a vintage ?

Macallan 26 yo 1992/2018 (50.9%, Luci di Gala, hogshead, 1st fill Château Lafite finish)

Macallan 26 yo 1992/2018 (50.9%, Luci di Gala, hogshead, 1st fill Château Lafite finish) Four stars
Looks like Luci di Gala are Jewellers in Hong Kong and apparently, they’re into whisky too. And Macallan, baby. Why this has been finished in red wine remains a mystery, perhaps is the name ‘Lafite’ alone worth it ? And more appealing than just ‘Macallan’? Colour: amber. Nose: there is a red-wine-ness inded, but it seems that it’s under control and not bursting with red fruits, rather oranges and rosehip tea. A little ganache-y, going more towards marshmallows and jelly beans after that. Cola. We’re pretty far from any classic Macallan this far, I have to say. With water: more game, chicken soup, paraffin, balsamico… More and more balsamico, actually, and orange wine (wine made out of oranges, that is). Mouth (neat): more or less the same feelings, oranges and spices, bonbons, angelica, sour apples,  Coca Cola, and a super thin slice of fruitcake covered with a little cinnamon and liquorice sauce. Wood shavings. Let’s remember this is 1st fill Lafite wood, while Lafite would only fill their barriques once, so it’s pretty active wood. By the way I’m surprised the whisky’s not frankly red/purple. With water: as often with red-wined whiskies, it gets very dry and grassy. Bags of raw cocoa powder. Finish: long, dry, chocolaty. We’re not talking sugarbombs from the nearest supermarket. Comments: looks like it’s been doing pretty good despite the unlikely wine treatment. Let’s say we’ve tasted much, much worse, so, kudos (in a way).
SGP:361 - 85 points.

Macallan-Glenlivet 30 yo 1988/2019 (42.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 96 bottles)

Macallan-Glenlivet 30 yo 1988/2019 (42.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 96 bottles) Four stars and a half
Not sure this new baby’s to be seen anywhere… Not 100% sure about the outturn by the way. Colour: gold. Nose: there, proof that Macallan could be a wonderful distillate, with or without proper sherry. Pretty fantastic praline, apple pie, marzipan, tobacco, a drop of gravy (not lumpy, you Zappaists), then rather fresh mint, camphor, balms, even pine needles, that walk in the woods when it’s raining, et tutti quanti. Very distinguished. Mouth: the oak’s already started to take over, but it’s like John Coltrane’s latest lost tapes, not his best, but still the real thing. Not too sure it’s the same with Miles’ latest, by the way. As often with these woody old whiskies with lower strength, pine-y flavours are now running the show. Pinesap, resins, needles… But then again, the distillate keeps singing loud and clear in the background. Wonderful notes of mocha. Finish: medium, dry as expected, but clean and not too drying. Not a cinnamon shop, as they say. Comments: all is well and very good, and some would even argue that this is ‘a proper, legitimate style’. I rather agree.
SGP:371 - 88 points.

Speyside 30 yo 1988/2019 (53,7%, Le Gus’t, blended malt, sherry butt, cask#15A/105, 518 bottles)

Speyside 30 yo 1988/2019 (53,7%, Le Gus’t, blended malt, sherry butt, cask#15A/105, 518 bottles) Five stars
My money says this is actually ‘teaspooned’ Macallan. There are currently others similar babies around, but naturally, no one will tell you the truth about them (or only after a few dry martinis in a hotel bar, which takes some credibility away anyway). Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s rather rawer than the others but that’s most probably the higher strength. Other than that’s, we’re rather on cakes, cappuccino, marmalade, raisins, cedar wood, and touches of wood smoke, which is certainly not unseen in Macallan. With water: these whiffs of gunpowder are rather classic Mac as well. Chocolate and a pinhead of Marmite. Mouth (neat): very good, big, rather sharp, and rather on marmalade and marzipan, plus touches of paraffin and tonic wine. I’m sure water will bring it straight to classic Macallandom… With water: bingo. Black raisins, chocolate, perhaps a drop of old Armagnac (Macallan was always pretty brandy-y anyway, was it not?) and even prunes. Macallan as in the old books (websites did not quite exist back then ha-ha). Finish: long and even more chocolaty. Comments: perhaps the best recent M******n I’ve tried so far, but I haven’t tried the latest 72 yo La Clique yet. I mean, Lalique. You just have to enjoy proper chocolate.
SGP:451 - 91 points.

(thank you Fuji!)

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

 

September 18, 2019


Whiskyfun

Not a month without Springbank

It’s like lobster or jazz gigs, you need them at least once a month. And Champagne twice a week, but we're already digressing…

Springbank 17 yo 2001/2018 (58.5%, Blackadder, Raw Cask Statement, Sherry Hogshead, cask #130, 96 bottles)

Springbank 17 yo 2001/2018 (58.5%, Blackadder, Raw Cask Statement, Sherry Hogshead, cask #130, 96 bottles) Five stars
This rare baby did very well at the MM Awards 2018. It’s probably a bit provocative to start this with a sherry monster, but this is the youngest Springer we have on the tasting table today… Colour: red mahogany. Nose: someone’s spread some perfectly fine chocolate with some concrete dust and a little gunpowder. See what I mean? With water: yep, Maggi, lovage, copper coins, miso, marrow, fudge… Need I say more? Mouth (neat): fantastic. Heavy liquorice, heavy triple-sec, heavy chocolate, some of the greatest Armagnac, some prunes and some black currants, plus this Springbanky je-ne-sais-quoi, around oils and silex. The sherry did not kill distillery character. With water: enter salt and miso again, plus some bitter oranges and some cinchona, quinine, even gin (no offense meant, Springbank and Blackadder)… Finish: long and rather perfect. Juniper and oranges, plus salted chocolate. No one’s against that. Comments: newish Springbank in the style of the 1960s, how cool is that? Sadly, a very low outturn here. That should be forbidden, a minimum of, say 250 bottles per bottling should be enforced after Brexit. Seriously!
SGP:362 - 90 points.

But let’s go on…

Springbank 18 yo (45.9%, Artful Dodger Collective, 1st fill sherry, cask #646, 2019)

Springbank 18 yo (45.9%, Artful Dodger Collective, 1st fill sherry, cask #646, 2019) Five stars
No picture yet, I’ve put one of another bottling from the same line. Colour: amber. Nose: ‘course. Oranges, leather, pipe tobacco, linseed oil, clay and plasticine, chicken broth, hand cream, even shampoo (antidandruff, of course), mandarin liqueur, and a solid dose of umami. Bliss in your glass, unless you like them super-clean and soulless (ho-ho-ho, S.) Mouth: it’s pretty smoky, and I wouldn’t swear there is no Longrow inside, seriously. Could we have a look at the papers? Wonderful chocolate, glazed chestnuts, walnut liqueur, zest macerate, a touch of chilli, gravy, chicken soup, stewed mushrooms, more bitter oranges… Finish: rather long, dry, leathery, chalky, umami-y (someone’s got to find a new word), with the usual bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s first fill but it was well-mannered sherry. With Springbank, the spirit keeps the lead anyway, under any circumstances! The Baryshnikov of whisky! Now, really, wasn’t there at least a little Longrow inside?
SGP:373 - 91 points.

Let’s check an older OB if you don’t mind…

Springbank 1996/2009 (57.1%, OB for Milano Whisky Festival, cask #264, 600 bottles)

Springbank 1996/2009 (57.1%, OB for Milano Whisky Festival, cask #264, 600 bottles) Five stars
That’s one of my biggest regrets, not having been able to attend the Milano Festival. Yet. Colour: amber. Nose: same ballpark, same kind of combo, but a little more on grilled meat, brake fluid, truffles, and gunpowder. Just a perfect example of a whisky that’s ‘sulphury’ while that would be some clear and absolute asset. Notes of very old Chambertin (or good sister that does not quite take care of herself – no apologies to The Vatican), the usual miso soup, and just a bouillon made with patience, care and passion in a typical bistrot.  With water: lovey touches of model glue, then decadent soups and sauces. Mouth (neat): extremely punchy, this one does not do the catenaccio my friend. Blackberry jam and jelly, apricot cake, ginger tonic, leather, rubber, Seville oranges, and really a lot pepper teasing your tongue. It needs water. With water: it’s hard to tame it, you need a lot of water. Becomes unusually more brutal and rough, with touches of balsamico (naturalmente) and puréed chestnuts over some kind of coffee cream. Who said tiramisu? Not me! Finish: long, meaty, on soups and roasted nuts, with chives and even garlic in the aftertaste. Also even more chestnut purée. Comments: you could almost eat this baby, rather than drink it. Thick as a brick (I know I should drop my lousy two-penny musical references, I know.)
SGP:362 - 91 points.

Springbank 21 yo 1996/2018 (47.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Madeira butt, cask #02/0118-1, 911 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo 1996/2018 (47.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Madeira butt, cask #02/0118-1, 911 bottles) Three stars
Madeira butts? What’s this madness all about? And why Blake and Mortimer on the label? Colour: amber. Nose: ah, fudge and butterscotch this time! Does Madeira impart more notes of butterscotch than sherry does? Depends on the kind of Madeira (and sherry), I suppose. This time it’s really all on Werther’s Originals, then Ricola and some kind of tourist’s Kräuterlikör. You’re right, Jägermeister. Funny, that. With water: a tad smokier. Mustard sauce, or sauce ‘à la diable’. Hard to translate, I am sorry. Mouth (neat): a bit weird, I have to say. Garlic and leek soup, tarragon - nothing against that, but perhaps not in my whisky. Sour butter and coriander. Perhaps. With water: improves a bit. Sorrel soup with a little fudge? Who would dare cooking that? Finish: medium, bizarre, mustardy, sour. Comments: a slightly schizophrenic malt, between vegetal soups and caramelly notes. Intriguing, but it's struggling after the better-constructed glories that we had before.
SGP:361 - 82 points.

Perhaps a wee cleaner one, and we’re done. Until the month of October…

Springbank 24 yo 1994/2019 (50.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, refill barrel, 312 bottles)

Springbank 24 yo 1994/2019 (50.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, refill barrel, 312 bottles) Three stars
The question remains the same, are Springbanks by Cadenhead official or independent bottlings? This is close to the Controversia de Valladolid if you ask me. I’m even wondering, is it fair that CAD would have easier access to good casks of Springbank? Colour: straw. Nose: we’re facing the distillate now, in its unvarnished core. No ooh-ha sherry to hide behind, no unnecessary Madeira or Marsala or whatever, only a full glass of engine oil blended with celeriac juice. Plus a little sea water, that is all. Now the proportions are perfect, that’s the whole trick here. With water: marzipan and a little vanillin and coconut, that’s the cask speaking out. Okay, pass. Mouth (neat): can a whisky be totally austere and yet relatively attractive? Seriously, this is some very dry Springbank, mineral, peppery, salty, and a little sour. There is a fine line between pleasure and pain here, it’s rather philosophical whisky, so no instant crowd-pleaser. With water: plain American oak coming out, no thanks. Drop water. Finish: pretty long and rather on orange skins and green pepper. Not sexy. Comments: a Springbank that you’ll need to intellectualise a bit, if I may advise so. Otherwise you may find it way too dry and austere, almost like a movie by Lars von Trier or Robert Bresson.
SGP:272 - 82 points (let’s not exaggerate).

(mucho gracias, Tom!)

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

 

September 17, 2019


Whiskyfun

And yet another five whiskies incognito

I know, I know, but they do exist and there’s more and more of them. And half a loaf is better than no bread…

Chieftain's 1995/2014 ‘Sherry Cask’ (50.8%, Ian Macleod, for Taiwan, 1st Fill Sherry But, cask #1369, 621 bottles)

Chieftain's 1995/2014 ‘Sherry Cask’ (50.8%, Ian Macleod, for Taiwan, 1st Fill Sherry But, cask #1369, 621 bottles) Three stars and a half
This undisclosed single mat was introduced to the MM Awards last year. A little late I have to say, but I think it did well. Colour: dark amber. Nose: it’s like opening a fresh pack of small Mars bars. There are touches of rubber too, but that’s pretty all at this point. With water: chocolate and sawdust. Mouth (neat): classic heavily extractive sherry. New oak, strongly seasoned, et voilà. Very good, but nothing to do with old-school sherried whisky. I enjoy the heavy liquorice, though. With water: oak and chocolate to the front. Good but pretty emotionless. Finish: ditto. The oak’s too apparent. Comments: there’s some kind of industrial quality to this. Don’t get me wrong, it’s extremely well made, it’s just.. yep, a little emotionless.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Black Snake ‘VAT No7 2nd Venom’ (57.5%, Blackadder, for Liquors Hasegawa Tokyo and Clydesdale Sweden, PX finish, 190 bottles, 2017)

Black Snake ‘VAT No7 2nd Venom’ (57.5%, Blackadder, for Liquors Hasegawa Tokyo and Clydesdale Sweden, PX finish, 190 bottles, 2017) Two stars and a half
Yet another PX finish, so rather WTF?, but we may be safe since this is Blackadder. Colour: gold. Nose: some sucrosity – hope that’s not the PX – and curious notes of Bacardi-esque rum - hope that’s not the PX. A little wood smoke – that’s not the PX - and BBQ. With water: there’s some kirsch quality to this, but it’s rough stuff for sure. Mouth (neat): good, modern, a tad brutal, probably young, a tad rough, and a little rubbery. Not a polished one for Westminster, but you know, Westminster these days… With water: it’s good, but we may have missed the best parts. Rough stuff. Finish: long, grassy, a little sour and rubbery. Comments: I’m not dead sure. I like this roughness, but it’s also a kind of five-men whisky. You know, one man drinks it, while the other four hold him.
SGP:561 - 79 points.

Chimera (46%, Blackadder, blended malt, cask # CH 1-2016, 550 bottles, 2016)

Chimera (46%, Blackadder, blended malt, cask # CH 1-2016, 550 bottles, 2016) Two stars and a half
A chimera, that’s an animal that does not exist, is it not? Colour: gold. Nose: fine, slightly medicinal, mentholy, with some camphor, a faint smokiness, a little soot, and a good earthiness that would have involved both mushrooms and mosses. No apparent planks this time, we are fine. Mouth: there’s a little peated whisky, and some leafy./leathery sherry too. The combo’s a tad brutal and crayony (cedar wood shavings, graphite), but we shall survive. Finish: medium, a little bittersweet and too leathery for me. Not easy. Comments: looks like we haven’t found the best of Blackadder yet, this year. But we have time…
SGP:363 - 77 points.

Back to safer places…

Speyside 1973/2017 (52.2%, Whisky-Doris, sherry butt, cask #12, 221 bottles)

Speyside 1973/2017 (52.2%, Whisky-Doris, sherry butt, cask #12, 221 bottles) Four stars
Given the pedigree here, we may keep this short and sweet. Colour: gold. Nose: yeah, apple peel, honeycomb, and the myriads of aromas that come with that. Amazing apples. With water: paraffin  and rubber up. Not too sure anymore. Mouth (neat): the oak’s a little loud and peppery, but other than that, it’s one of those stunning casks. Perhaps more chlorophyll and green lemons than in some other, smoother ones. With water: not sure it needs any water, really. Gets ‘green’. Finish: medium, green and a little resinous. Bitter mint. Good apples in the aftertaste. Comments: a narrower, greener one, it seems. Still very excellent if you ask me.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

And the last one today. Tomorrow on Whiskyfun, gin! (I’m kidding)

Speyside Malt 43 yo 1973/2016 (52%, Sansibar and Spirits Shop Selection, sherry cask, 240 bottles)

Speyside Malt 43 yo 1973/2016 (52%, Sansibar and Spirits Shop Selection, sherry cask, 240 bottles) Four stars and a half
Another one that slipped through my fingers when it came out. Undisclosed GlenX in Karuizawa clothes, how cool is that? Colour: gold. Nose: the usual beehive, the usual orange juice, and quite some mead. It’s a little more acidic than others, I would say. A little more almondy too, which I appreciate  With water: cider and beer, pretty refreshing. Mouth (neat): orangey almonds and some mildly oaky apples. White pepper and nutmeg. With water: never add too much water to these old whiskies, you may kill them. Cider and mead. Finish: medium, rounder, honeyed, lovely. Really. Comments: rather superb, just a little fragile.
SGP:451  - 89 points.

More tasting notes
Check the index of all undisclosed or blended malts we've tasted so far

 

September 13, 2019


Whiskyfun

Yet another five whiskies incognito

Didn’t we tell you we had many? I agree these whiskies aren’t always very entrancing, however great they are, and to tell you the truth, they’re rather traffic killers. One day of Lagavulin is better than five days of ‘Undisclosed shtuff’, seriously. It’s just that we don’t quite care about traffic, or we wouldn’t taste this many fake noses…

Speyside 43 yo 1975/2018 (50.1%, Maltbarn, sherry cask)

Speyside 43 yo 1975/2018 (50.1%, Maltbarn, sherry cask) Four stars and a half
It’s true that Maltbarn’s photographs are always stunning. I find it excellent that they would produce their own artwork even for very small outturns, and not just plunder old books, however superb those old books are. I’m not blaming anyone here, I’m just saying that Maltbarn are doing it very right. We should do some kind of Whisky Label Awards one day, don’t you think? But on to the whisky… Colour: gold. Nose: ex-Port Ellen cask? Seriously, I’m getting a  lot of rubber and tar, bordering new bicycle inner tubes. Which does not sound very Speyside, does it. Perhaps water… With water: I’m still finding new tyres and notes of fermentation and sweat. Mouth (neat): no tar, rather mead, apple juice, orange juice, chamomile, chlorophyll… It’s clearly different from its numerous siblings, perhaps rather woodier and more tea-ish, having said that it remains a superbly fresh old whisky. With water: improves really a lot with water, getting very tangerine-y and mango-ish. Some hay, that’s the oak. Finish: nice, rather long, with more liquorice. Comments: I’m starting to wonder if this baby did not lose a bit of power in the bottle rather than in the cask. A little uncertain.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Let’s check another one by Maltbarn, I’m sure we’ll uncover another stunning label… (at least)

Highland Malt 38 yo (44.2%, Maltbarn, 2017)

Highland Malt 38 yo (44.2%, Maltbarn, 2017) Four stars and a half
Cool, they haven’t got a vintage here, but they’re sure this was distilled in the 1970s. Bah, it’s all just numbers anyway, no? (No!)  Colour: gold. Nose: meaty fruits, that’s something I love. Chinese dishes, sour-sweet fruits, waxy and milky touches, camphor, bitter almonds, pastis (on the nose!), crushed pine needles, Chartreuse, verbena… This is clearly something different, from a cask that hasn’t been quiet over all those years.  Mouth: loud pine-y oak, which sometimes works. It does here. Teak oil, linseed oil, candle wax, some softer varnish. Ah, yes, let’s answer that very silly question again; of course we’ve never drank any teak oil, linseed oil, or varnish. But remember palate is all smell anyway, and that all this simply means ‘reminiscent of teak oil’. Not that it tastes exactly like teak oil, or the (almost dead) taster would just write ‘teak oil’ and nothing else. So, no, we do not drink teak oil. Finish: rather long, more acidic, more on lemon juice and riesling harvested too early. Some say better too early than too late. Okay. Comments: some intriguing juice. I’m not sure anyone knows where it stemmed from, but Pulteney would not surprise me. A shot into the dark, really.
SGP:461 - 89 points.

Breath of Speyside 11 yo 2006/2018 (58.1%, Adelphi for Hot Malt 10th Anniversary, Taiwan, sherry cask, 240 bottles)

Breath of Speyside 11 yo 2006/2018 (58.1%, Adelphi for Hot Malt 10th Anniversary, Taiwan, sherry cask, 240 bottles) Three stars and a half
This should be more powerful. And our friend in Taiwan have good tastes! Colour: gold. Nose: a moderate sherry and really a lot of vanilla cake, earl grey, milk chocolate (screw palm oil, really) and vanilla fudge. And butterscotch! A very bourbony sherry, I would say, but they may have done some dechar-rechar on it. With water: a wee soap and notes of ink; in truth it saponifies a lot. Wonderful fresh mushrooms then. Boletus. Mouth (neat): very punchy indeed, with truckloads of Jaffa cakes and gingerbread. Huge gingerbread! With water: orange cake, barley, sweet ale, vanilla, Guinness, caramel. Finish: rather long, on exactly the same notes. Ah, wood technology! Comments: some active wood in action. Modern whisky, as we say. Good stuff by the way.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

The Gauldrons (46.2%, Douglas Laing, Campbeltown Blended Malt, 2018)

The Gauldrons (46.2%, Douglas Laing, Campbeltown Blended Malt, 2018) Two stars and a half
I believe this one went relatively unnoticed, not sure DL have pushed it a lot, have they. I’m curious now… Colour: white wine. Nose: I don’t know. I’ve got nothing against fresh baguette (obviously) or any other bread, and indeed there’s nothing better than good bread (with good butter), but this profile is pretty weird. It ends up with rather obvious notes of tequila, which takes the agave. I mean, the biscuit. BTW, I take this opportunity to say that if I ever find notes of tequila in my whisky, now that the SWA have agreed it’s ‘legal’ to use tequila wood, I quit. They will have got me! Mouth: it’s good, but what is it? Do we really have to know? Peppery tequila, lemon juice, vanilla, custard, sawdust, plywood… Really, I think it’s pretty good, but it’s whacky. What kind of casks have they used? Finish: rather long, a tad salty, but rather too oaky. Comments: who was the Dr Frankenstein here? Intriguingly weird whisky.
SGP:461 - 78 points.

We said five each day, right?

Speyside (44.2%, Berry Bros & Rudd, blended malt, 2018)

Speyside (44.2%, Berry Bros & Rudd, blended malt, 2018) Three stars
Another one that ‘captures the very essence of the region’. Oh the BS you have to come up with when you have no age statement, even when you’re a great old house such as BB&R! Colour: white wine. Nose: yep, naturally. Bread, sawdust, vanilla, barley, hand cream. What you can get out of some super-young malt whisky from Speyside and some good modern wood. We shall call it ‘gristy’. Mouth: of course it’s good, of course. Malt, vanilla, shortbread, stout, burnt caramel, apple pie, corn syrup. Really, it’s good, but a tad soulless. Some kind of ueber-blend, perhaps, fighting in the same category as that of Cardhu, Knockando, Glenlivet, Monkey Shoulder, and ‘stuff’. High volume, I hope! Finish: rather long, malty and caramelly. Ovaltine, come out of this whisky! Comments: yeah, sure! Made to perfection, but… bzz…
SGP:551 - 80 points.

More tasting notes
Check the index of all undisclosed or blended malts we've tasted so far

 

September 12, 2019


Whiskyfun

Another five whiskies incognito

Because we have many more, mind you. Let’s rummage…

Creations Blends 22 yo 1996/2019 (45%, Cadenhead, blended malt, bourbon hogshead)

Creations Blends 22 yo 1996/2019 (45%, Cadenhead, blended malt, bourbon hogshead) Five stars
Said to contain Ben Nevis, Blair Athol and Tomintoul. With Ben Nevis inside, I suppose it won’t be only ‘Light Fruity Syrupy’. What’s to be noted here is that the three malts were blended together in 2007 already. So a long marriage (which are the best - says my dear wife). Colour: straw. Nose: yep. Ben Nevis takes the lead from the first second (could be that they’ve used the BN cask for the marriage – just a personal remark). Butterscotch, clay, soot, plasticine, pinewood smoke, liquorice wood, some burnt apples (very Ben Nevis indeed), a small sulphury meatiness, some fresh sawn wood, some garden peat, black earth… Well, what a nose! I love it.  Mouth: woo-ooh! Who did the blending back in 2007? Works extremely well, it’s actually amazing that one of the lightest malts around (Tomintoul) and one of the heaviest (Ben Nevis) manage to tango this well. Could be that Blair Athol makes for a perfect go-between. What’s really cool as well with these long marriages,  is that there’s a feeling of a proper ‘whole’, almost as if this was some single malt whisky. Excuse me? What does it taste like? Like a slightly lighter Ben Nevis. Finish: rather long, perfect, slightly smoky. Exceptionally good. Comments: I guess my little score will shock a few citizens of Whiskydom, but really, I’ve totally emptied my tasting glass and even took a few more drops. Please don’t tell anyone.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

It's not always good to start with a winner, because you have to take that into account when ‘building’ the line-up to follow… But I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeves ;-)…

Creations Blends 27 yo 1991/2019 (43.6%, Cadenhead, blended malt, bourbon hogshead)

Creations Blends 27 yo 1991/2019 (43.6%, Cadenhead, blended malt, bourbon hogshead) Four stars and a half
Not even £80 for a 27 yo malt. They say ‘Fruity, Honey, Toffee’ for this one, but they also said ‘Light’ for the 22, so… Colour: white wine. Inside this one, Aultmore, Braes, Bruichladdich, Glen Grant, Glenlivet, Strathisla and Tamdhu. Bruichladdich, the floor is yours, I suppose… Nose: changes a lot over just fractions of seconds. Acetic at times, even acetone-y, then rounder and sweeter, then very grassy, then limey and sour (sauvignon), then rounder again and almost orchardy (apples, plums), then very malty and gristy, then a tad doughy/acetic again, yeasty… Hey Cadenhead, we haven’t got this much time on our hands! Mouth: granted, it hasn’t got the perfect structure of the 1996, and it’s even a tad jumbled up, but other than that, this honeyed fruitiness just works. Apple crumbles, tarte tatin, gooseberries, sweet cider, lime tree blossom… Actually, it does gain focus over a few minutes, which is very spectacular. More citrus too. Finish: medium, bright, tighter, clean, refreshing, calling for more. Comments: I did not find the toffee, so Cadenhead, just let me know to whom am I supposed to write.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

We’re in the danger zone, these whiskies are way too drinkable. But I think we are keeping control…

William Cadenhead 45 yo 1973/2019 (43.1%, Cadenhead, blend, sherry hogshead)

William Cadenhead 45 yo 1973/2019 (43.1%, Cadenhead, blend, sherry hogshead) Four stars
One grain (Invergordon, hurray) and two Speysiders (Glenfarclas and Glenlivet), blended together in 2016 and bottled three years later. Just wondering, do Cadenhead call Glenlivet ‘Glenlivet-Glenlivet’? Ah, no, Minmore… Anyway. Colour: gold. Nose: we’re a little less in our preferred territories this time, with more sweetness, more coconut balls, candyfloss, marshmallows… Having said that, there’s also some precious wood, pine resin, walnut cake,  kougelhopf, whiffs of old basement, concrete, candlewax, rainwater… The jury’s still out. Mouth: look, at barely 300€, it’s a steal anyway. Chamomile tea, some kind of herbal, anise-y blend,  hay wine, stewed rhubarb, old riesling, marmalade and peach jam, with the old grain’s vanilla-ed coconuts singing louder than expected. A matter of proportions, I suppose? Was it like 50% Invergordon, 50% the malts? Finish: rather long and pretty waxier. A lot of beeswax Comments: actually very very good, just a tad flabbier than the younger malts. Which, after all, is in the nature of things.
SGP:641 - 87 points.

Let’s move on to pasture new…

Speyside 44 yo 1973/2017 (49.4%, Archives, butt, cask #160000001, 348 bottles)

Speyside 44 yo 1973/2017 (49.4%, Archives, butt, cask #160000001, 348 bottles) Five stars
What slow, who is slow? This is well a single malt. It is not impossible that this would be that distillery that ends with ‘as’. Alert, these batches are usually outta dis world. Colour: light gold. Nose: yeah well. Extatically ripe apples and frantic honeys and beeswaxes at first, then some lighter touches of tropical fruits, especially dried rambutans. Yeah and why not rambutans? Mouth: oooh! All herbs, citrus, tart apples, green oak spices, and tropical fruits. Less honey than expected though, and more tropicalness. Who cares, it remains very grand whisky. Finish: sublimely fresh.  Pink grapefruits drizzled with Champagne, honeydew and a little Szechuan pepper. Very sexy combo, I have to say. Comments: a shame that these bottlings are no surprises anymore. Oh how I fondly remember the first bottlings by Carsten’s Whisky Agency! Stunning whiskies, a regular bottle, and simply no fuss.
SGP:641 - 91 points.

Okay we said five, so a last one please…

The Half Century Blend 50 yo ‘Batch 3’ (47.3%, Blended Whisky Company, blend, 693 bottles, 2017)

The Half Century Blend 50 yo ‘Batch 3’ (47.3%, Blended Whisky Company, blend, 693 bottles, 2017) Three stars
Hell, I’ve seen the sales sheet, they say ‘Drinks best: Neat or on the rocks’. On the rocks? Now Batch 1 had been very good IMHO (WF 90). As for the whiskies inside, I do not know, but Tomintoul and Bunnahabhain would be sound options given the age. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s subtle, that’s for sure. I’m finding gingerbread, star anise and cinnamon, cigars, then mint tea, patchouli, a little incense, a little beef soup, a drop pf soy sauce, one of Bovril/Viandox, genuine cocoa powder… Well no need to spell it out, it’s typical very old whisky. The palate won’t lie (not saying the nose does, of course)…  Mouth: success. Very good arrival, rather lifted and fruity, and rather on pineapple and coconut (which suggests a high proportion of grain), and a smooth unfolding, rather creamy, with rather more teas. It’s all pretty ‘rather’ indeed. Loses steam after two minutes, becoming a little thin. Finish: shortish. Teas and tinned pineapple juice. Comments: let’s remain fair, this is 50 yo whisky, so it’s not Springbank 10 (wow, S.!) But there’s a lot of grain and the consequent thinness is a tad frustrating. I remember some very old Irish that was like this.
SGP:630 - 81 points.

Good, that’s five, see you tomorrow.

More tasting notes
Check the index of all undisclosed or blended malts we've tasted so far

 

September 11, 2019


Whiskyfun

Five whiskies incognito

In other words, more blends, blended malts or undisclosed single malts. Not that knowing where one whisky’s been distilled changes anything to its inherent qualities, but the old guard, of which I definitely am a part, keeps thinking that it’s better to know. After all, we now know where our lettuce was grown or our chicken raised, don’t we? Let’s see what we have on WF’s ‘???’ shelves…

Creations Blended Grain 10 yo (59.2%, Cadenhead, hogshead, 2018)

Creations Blended Grain 10 yo (59.2%, Cadenhead, hogshead, 2018) Three stars
Made out of one cask of young Girvan (what?), another cask of young Girvan (what what?) and one cask of Strathclyde (what what what?) further matured together for one year. I agree, this is hardly undisclosed, but since we’re at it (and the whisky’s already in the glass…) Colour: white wine. Nose: always the same question with such young silent babies, what did the marrying casks previously contain? Because this is relatively lovely, softly malty, with notes of Weetabix, custard, cut grass, fresh asparagus and Chinese green tea. Certainly not un-nice. With water: fresh croissants and butter cream. No ‘dumb’ marshmallows. Mouth (neat): a tad hot and spirity, as expected, but we don’t experience the feeling of drinking varnish remover this time. We’ve had young Girvans that have been pure ethanol and varnish, mind you! With water: yeah, it’s pretty good, with a good slice of lemon tarte, with meringue s’il-vous-plaît. Finish: medium, balanced, not rough, with drops of limoncello. Comments: certainly better than the sum of its parts. Which, I’ve read, is the point with any blends. From some theoretical 70 points up to…
SGP:540 - 80 points. (Oh and watch the 22 yo!)

The Circle (46%, Compass Box, blended malt, 6151 bottles, 2019)

The Circle (46%, Compass Box, blended malt, 6151 bottles, 2019) Four stars
Louis XIV on the label! A French king on some pre-Brexit British whisky! Apparently, some kind of mixologist was involved in this one, but no worries, I’m sure we’ll be safe. It’s been said that it’s a Tamdhu base with Clynelish and HP as dressers. The price is hefty (£120), so I suppose it’s old, but while the distilleries are disclosed, the age isn’t. So some blended NASs rather than a NAS blend. Are you following me? Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s a very smart mixture, no doubt about that. Some very natural maltiness, many cakes and other pastries (Danishes, raisin bagels), a large bag of apple peels, ripe gooseberries and greengages (always works) and just a small amount of wax plus aniseed drops. More Tamdhu than Clynelish or HP, but there’s strictly nothing to complain about. Mouth: the dressers are rather more in action this time, with more mineral notes, chalk, paraffin (just a little), lime juice, grape pips. Some sunflower oil as well. Finish: medium, grassy/chalky. Bitter grass in the aftertaste. Comments: rather angular given it’s a Circle (pff…) and, naturally, very good.
SGP:451 - 87 points.

McWarrior (43.5%, House of McCallum, 2018)

McWarrior (43.5%, House of McCallum, 2018) Four stars
An NAS undisclosed single malt finished in PX. This baby’s really ticking all boxes ;-) but you just never know… And the price is relatively fair. Colour: light gold. Nose: no bursts of raisins and cherry stems, rather some balanced cake-y development, with fruit cakes (the forbidden descriptor), panettone,  and well, some raisins too, actually. Some sides remind me of that very unostentatious Speyside distillery bearing a name that starts with an M and that now specialises in wonderful crystal decanters (with stunning minimalist, quasi-organic designs). Mouth: a little mindboggling, for it’s way more to my liking  than I had thought. Awesome old-school sherry goodness, raisins, dried figs, honey, cinnamon rolls, maple syrup, elderflower syrup, malt bars… Finish: medium, just a tad more grapey. Goji berries. Comments: if you don’t like this, you don’t like whisky at all. There. 
SGP:551 - 87 points (yes, for an NAS undisclosed single malt finished in PX, and yes, Serge at the keyboard, not my little nephew or the cat).

Black Bull 10 yo (50%, Duncan Taylor, blend, +/-2018)

Black Bull 10 yo (50%, Duncan Taylor, blend, +/-2018) Two stars
This baby’s been finished in ex-rum casks. Remember, in Scotland more than anywhere else, nothing is wasted, everything is transformed ;-). Let’s see if that was Hampden… Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s lightly grainy, not exactly mineral or olive-y, with, maybe, touches of sugarcane indeed. Hard to pin down at this point. With water: some grassy rum. Mouth (neat): you feel the rum really a lot this time, this is almost a rum+whisky cocktail. I’m sure that must exist somewhere, at least in the head of a mad mixologist. With water: pure rumsky. Finish: medium, with welcome notes of oranges. Comments: I don’t quite know what to say, I’m a bit lost. I’m sure it’s a good blend.
SGP:651 - 75 points.

Vega 41 yo 1976/2018 (46.1%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, 400 bottles)

Vega 41 yo 1976/2018 (46.1%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, 400 bottles) Five stars
The 40/1977 bottled last year had been very much to my liking (WF 90), so the odds are… Colour: full gold. Nose: stop this, halt, vorsicht, clear the path please! Acacia honey, orange juice, mangos, sultanas, angelica, apricot confit, citrons, just a few fresh walnuts… This does not feel very ‘blended’. Unless, as some old guys used to say, it was ‘blended with warehouse air’. Mouth: love these oaky and mentholy touches over a carpet of honeys, dried fruits, fresh almonds and mangos and guavas. Let’s keep this short and sweet, it’s brilliant fresh old-Speyside-style very lightly ‘grained’ blended Scotch whisky. The friend who’ll detect grain whisky in this is a genius. Finish: even more lovely since the oak never takes over, even in the very end of the aftertaste. What’s the trick? Comments: listen good folks at NSS, why not cancel the Aston-Martin, and rather find an old Facel? Like a Facel… Vega? (no, I’m not particularly proud of that one).
SGP:651 - 91 points.
Update: That did not make much sense, this is well a blended malt. Blame tasting fatigue! But naturally, I’ll keep the note and score unchanged.

We might find more undercover whiskies tomorrow…

More tasting notes
Check the index of all undisclosed or blended malts we've tasted so far

 

September 10, 2019


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Aberfeldy

Another lovely (although a tad touristy) place in Perthshire and a whisky that I always enjoyed. I’ve always had a soft spot for the often shier Midlanders anyway. Nah, okay, Edradour isn’t exactly shy…

Aberfeldy 10 yo 2009/2019 (51.9%, Hidden Spirits, bourbon, cask #AB919, 171 bottles)

Aberfeldy 10 yo 2009/2019 (51.9%, Hidden Spirits, bourbon, cask #AB919, 171 bottles) Three stars and a half
Hidden Spirits, those are the good people who almost killed me with their recent Clynelish. They should add some warnings to their labels, like ‘Explicit Whisky’. Colour: white wine. Nose: crushed chalk in green apple juice, with a spoonful of sourdough and a few drops of ale. No straight ethanoly notes despite the youth, this is malt whisky alright. With water: mashed potatoes, a tiny drop of cologne, then melon soup (you may call that melon gazpacho but you may well run into problems with the Andalusians). Gets then easier and fruitier. Mouth (neat): not exactly shy, really very punchy, raw in a good way, very hipflasky (I know what I’m trying to say) and full of grass, cider apple, bitter leaves, and lemon skins. Hits you a wee bit, I have to say. With water: more spritzy. Tonic water, lemon squash and a touch of green liquorice. Finish: medium, with more leaves and green tea. Comments: rather tight and sometimes a bit brutal, but very close to nature. I told you, rather for the hipflask. Like it.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Aberfeldy 25 yo 1993/2018 (58.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, first fill sherry puncheon, 444 bottles)

Aberfeldy 25 yo 1993/2018 (58.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, first fill sherry puncheon, 444 bottles) Four stars
I suppose this would have ended up in the ‘Cask’ series in the old days. Colour: full gold. Nose: there, biggish varnish, then walnut cake and earl grey, then cigarette tobacco, miso and fresh sawn wood. It’s a slightly unusual combo that works very well so far. With water: wet earth, menthol and an old humidor (cedar wood and tobacco). Ticks all the boxes on the nose. Mouth (neat): totally huge and almost brutal, another one that hits you between your eyes. So much for any expected shyness. Raw tutti fruity running from the still (at like 80%), some kind of cinnamon mints, and some heavy herbal tea that you’ve forgotten in the teapot. Last night. With water: oak essences and cinnamon, looks like the cask had a lot to tell us, but I do not found this baby unbalanced or over-oaked. Finish: long and spicier, as expected. Huge bags of cinnamon and the traditional marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: a shy Midlander, he said. Do you think one could you distil some kind of speculoos brew, Belgium?
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Bonus: only for science, let’s see if that one was a one-of…

Aberfeldy 24 yo 1993/2018 (58.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, first fill sherry puncheon, 586 bottles)

Aberfeldy 24 yo 1993/2018 (58.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, first fill sherry puncheon, 586 bottles) Four stars and a half
In theory… Colour: full gold, slightly darker. Nose: similar, as expected, but rather a little more on regular cakes, sponge cake, chocolate, liquorice ice cream (how good is that? Fan-tas-tic!) and something floral that you would rather expect from a red wine. Peonies. With water: cancel that, it’s become a rather perfect spicy and jammy nose, with more notes of pipe tobacco and some earthy mead. Mouth (neat): huge again, but rather gentler than its sister (it’s all relative), tighter at the same time. Some very spicy marmalade, I would say. With water: splendid, just a tad extractive for me. Some huge liquorice yet again, strong honeys and quite some muscovado sugar. No, really, it’s beautiful, with a spirit and an oak that tango to perfection. Finish: long, on green teas and yet more speculoos. Comments: these two sister CCs were top notch. And certainly not shy. Who said Aberfeldy was shy?
SGP:561 - 88 points.

(Merci Tom)

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

 

September 9, 2019


Whiskyfun

A little more (very good) Bruichladdich

I know we just had a large bunch of them, but there are some intriguing new red-wined ones around. So just morbid curiosity? Because mind you, there is some amarone involved. You read that right, amarone! Let’s see…

Bruichladdich 9 yo 2009/2019 (51.9%, The Cask Whisperer, Amarone wine cask, 349 bottles)

Bruichladdich 9 yo 2009/2019 (51.9%, The Cask Whisperer, Amarone wine cask, 349 bottles) Three stars and a half
This brand new baby stems from Jim McEwan’s own private stock! It is not just a lousy finishing, it’s well full-term maturation in a cask of what’s probably the thickest (some would say the stuffiest) dry red table wine in the world. Nearly. No, not counting the fortified ones such as Port. Colour: apricot. Naturally. Nose: we’re sent back to the new Laddie’s earlier days, but this time it’s all kind of in-sync, with moderate stems and leaves, red berries, or sour grapes, and a distillate that shows its truer colours: apricots, melons and biscuits. In short, it is not a winesky. With water: grist and porridge, sour teas, and an earthy side. Mouth (neat): but-this-is-good! I’m surprising myself here. Cherry cake, Jaffa cakes, blood oranges, malted beer, touches of raspberry jam… With water: swims very well, another good surprise. Red-wined whiskies often swim like an anvil, not this time. Damson tarte, eating barley, drinking cherry juice… Finish: rather long, clean, not winey. Comments: the colour was a little frightening, and the name let me fear this would be some kind of pizzeria whisky, but not at all. It’s still a little varianty (I know), but there.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

And sherry?...

Bruichladdich 15 yo 2003/2019 (55.2%, The Cask Whisperer, sherry cask, 326 bottles)

Bruichladdich 15 yo 2003/2019 (55.2%, The Cask Whisperer, sherry cask, 326 bottles) Four stars and a half
In theory, this should be Bruichladdich proper. I very fondly remember the older very sherried ones (1960s and 1970s distillates). Colour: gold. Nose: this reminds me that sherry’s a white wine, and that it’s Bruichladdich. Melons, peaches, yellow plums and sea air, anyone? With water: some custard to add. Mouth (neat): it’s much tighter than your average sherried whisky, the only flavour that’s clearly ex-sherry are the walnuts. Other than that, we find some very lovely plums again, melons, peaches, prickly pears, and in the background, touches of mocha. All that works perfectly well. With water: citrus up. I mean, it’s more citrusy than other ‘laddichs, where does that come from? Finish: medium, fresh, bright, citrusy, and only mildly spicy. The sherry left on tiptoe. Comments: not an old-skool sherry monster at all, rather a fresh and fruity Bruichladdich. And now go watch Jim telling that story about ‘Gunther’ on YouTube. I’m dead sure you’ll find it.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Oh since we’re sherrying…

Bruichladdich 16 yo 2002/2019 (60.9%, Archives, first fill sherry hogshead, cask # R07/143, 230 bottles)

Bruichladdich 16 yo 2002/2019 (60.9%, Archives, first fill sherry hogshead, cask # R07/143, 230 bottles) Five stars
Crikey, how many different fish do they have in Samoa? Are we done yet? May we suggest chicken of Jamaica or butterflies of Liechtenstein to make a little change? Colour: dark red amber. Nose: right. Cedar wood (new humidor), truffles, tyres, potash, soy sauce, raw cocoa, mocha… all things that we like here. With water: old stove, more tyres, soot, parsley, marrow croquettes, carbon paper, ‘after some gunshots’… Mouth (neat): huge. Raspberry eau-de-vie, 90% chocolate, salty bouillon, liquorice wood, tar, guignolet, blackberry jam, raw folle-blanche Armagnac, prunes… This is some heavy juice! With water:  and it would swim like a champ, getting just a tad leathery, which is not totally unseen. Finish: long, tarry, rubbery, and rather sulphury but this is the kind of sulphuriness (apologies) that we enjoy.  Comments: spitzenklasse, as they say in Spain. Pretty heavy but spitzenklasse.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

A last sherry monster and I swear we won’t have any other Bruichladdich until Christmas. November. Okay, October.

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2005/2019 ‘The Water #3’ (64.7%, The Taste Of Whisky, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #1002, 292 bottles)

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2005/2019 ‘The Water #3’ (64.7%, The Taste Of Whisky, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #1002, 292 bottles) Four stars and a half
Fudge, attempted murder again! Sure we know Bruichladdich fill at high strength, but still, almost 65% from a sherry cask! F.u.d.g.e.! What’s more, at this strength the bottlers have decided to call this wee bottling ‘The Water’! Ooh that’s smart! Colour: almost mahogany. Nose: yep. Miso, Maggi, prunes, raisins, pecans, heather honey, earth, menthol, camphor, balsamico, and just distant whiffs of old gym socks. There, that’ll teach you, bottlers. With water: walnut wine and more miso. Extremely umami-y and meaty, you’d swear they have added monosodium glutamate while we weren’t watching. Mouth (neat): weird, unusual, acetic and varnishy. That may be the super-duper-high strength. So, with water: very crazy. Paraffin, mussels, parsley, artichoke liqueur, plasticine, burnt rubber, cider vinegar, pipe tobacco. I may have forgotten to mention a few other flavours, rather around seafood and fermenting fruit. Durian? Perhaps… Or Munster cheese… Finish: very long, dry, herbal, sour. Did we already mention umami? Glutamate? Comments: a beautiful weirdness. I’m sure some pros would say this is flawed whisky. I beg to differ, it’s just very singular whisky. With heartfelt encouragements!
SGP:472 - 89 points.

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

 

September 8, 2019


Whiskyfun

Total Malternatives

Or murder in Turckheim. Well, not obligatorily, as we’ll carefully avoid anything dosed-up, sweetened-up, tampered with, or recklessly blended away. And as they were all always saying, we do not want brands, we want distilleries.

Trinidad Fernandes 9 yo 2009/2019 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil)

Trinidad Fernandes 9 yo 2009/2019 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil) Three stars
Fernandes, that’s new to me. Let’s do a bit of googling… Ah, right, that’s one of Angostura’s brands. On their website the owners do state that it’s ‘authentic pure Trinidadian rum with distinctive packaging’. All right then… Colour: white wine. Nose: ah, some action! I had feared this would be a little ble(a)ndish. Notes of engine grease, cane juice, new plastic, a slight meaty side (mutton?) as well as a few not-too-ripe bananas. So far so nice. Mouth: but it really is good! Why do we always have to rely on the indies? No added sugar that I can detect, some coffee though, more sugar cane as well as a lighter molasse-y side, and some grassier savours, grass, banana skins, touches of liquorice. The body’s not too big having said that, but it isn’t weak either. Finish: a little short, which was to be expected. Comments: a good introductory rum for good folks who only know the sugared ones (Diplo, Papa, Zac, Plantation, and so on) or the thin ones (Havana Club, Bacardi and stuff). A good bridge to salvation, in other words.
SGP:451 - 82 points.

Since we’re killing some devils…

Hampden 10 yo 2007/2018 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 438 bottles)

Hampden 10 yo 2007/2018 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 438 bottles) Four stars and a half
A Hampden by HL that was bottled at a lighter strength, thank you mucho, we needed a break after the various Jamaican monsters at 60+. Colour: white wine. Nose: naturally. Olives, dirty grasses, petrol, brine, gherkins, carbon, concrete, and of course, quite a lot of acetone. Just what we enjoy a lot. Mouth: I’m really glad they bottled this at some reasonable 46%, not sure it wouldn’t have been deemed illegal by many authorities and councils when bottled at natural strength. Huge liquorice, crushed olives kept in chilli oil, dust, rotten bananas, listerine, gentian, glue. No one would ever understand why we love glue and acetone so much (in rum, that is). Finish: long, but a little shorter than usual, and that’s the lower strength. Comments: could be that 48% would work even better, but that’s only a very personal feeling. Super good, as expected.
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Let’s sail to Marie-Galante…

Bielle 2008/2017 (55%, Cave Guildive, Marie-Galante, bourbon cask)

Bielle 2008/2017 (55%, Cave Guildive, Marie-Galante, bourbon cask) Four stars
On of the summums of rhum agricole if you ask me. Remember, Marie-Galante, tiny island, administratively part of Guadeloupe, but with its own terroir and ways. Colour: gold. Nose: oh this is very different, and extremely floral at first nosing. Not sure I’ve ever met this style at Bielle’s, could be the bourbon barrel. Ylang-ylang plus really a lot of vanilla and pencil shavings, then old-style plastics (before someone smart started to worry about phthalates and bisphenol), dandelions, pollen, custard, even a little coconut oil… Some bourbons aren’t far away. With water: lol! Chlorine, bandages, iodine, mercurochrome, Vichy salty waters... Mouth (neat): what? Caraway galore, violet sweets, huge amounts of juniper, sloe, and other ‘funny’ spices and small fruits. Another first to me! Wasn’t this rather teak wood? Or something exotic from the Brazilian forests (which they sometimes use for cachaça?) With water: cologne and clove water, mouthwash, caraway, fir liqueur… Finish: long, very spicy, and now, some tequila notes! Comments: it’s as if the cask had sheltered a different drink before. Not bourbon! It’s funny and good in this context, but if we ever encounter these aromas in whisky, now that the SWA have loosened-up the regulations, I pick up my gun. I mean, my small slingshot.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Back to Jamaica…

Jamaican Rum 12 yo 2007/2019 (57%, Thompson Bros/Bar Tre, Hiroshima, 268 bottles)

Jamaican Rum 12 yo 2007/2019 (57%, Thompson Bros/Bar Tre, Hiroshima, 268 bottles) Four stars and a half
Lovely label! I’ve heard from a high-ranked source at Thompson’s that this was Monymusk. Colour: white wine.

Nose: I have to say we’ve ‘met’ more higher-ester Monymusks since quite a few months. No complains, this is another fine example. Wonderful blend of mint tea with chamomile, also leather polish, also camphor, and one crushed green olive. Almost a ready-made martini ;-). Pine wood smoke. With water: really very nice, very fresh, rather complex, elegant, subtle, refreshing… I short, exactly not Boris Johnson, if I may. Mouth (neat): another odd one after the Bielle, and once again we shan’t complain. Terpenes, saps, crunching pine needles, black olives and liquorice, concentrated lime juice… With water: wonderfully lemony and bitterer this time, with favours that are rather to be seen in old Cognacs. Some kind of grassier rancio, perhaps? Sounds odd but this is pretty odd, beautifully odd. Finish: long, sappy, and saltier. Some salted cough medicine and a little tar. Comments: as they say, a computer would ever select this from a palettised warehouse. Real people in booze, please!
SGP:472 - 89 points.

And a last one from the Thompsons’…

Diamond ‘Versailles’ 15 yo 2003/2019 (67%, Thompson Bros. for the 10th Anniversary of Rum & Whisky Kyoto, Guyana, 234 bottles)

Diamond ‘Versailles’ 15 yo 2003/2019 (67%, Thompson Bros. for the 10th Anniversary of Rum & Whisky Kyoto, Guyana, 234 bottles) Four stars and a half
Wonderful label again. I suppose this is rum from Guyana shipped to Scotland, matured and bottled there, and then shipped to Japan. And I’m sure quite some European or American rum enthusiasts will then let some bottles being shipped back to them. Makes your head spin, does it not? What would Miss Thunberg say? Hate to be a killjoy, having said that (yeah right). Colour: gold. Nose: some subtle cakes and quite some cane syrup at first, before it would start to display really a lot of smoked ham.  A few pencil shavings, nothing too serious. With water: remains relatively gentle, while some lovely citrus starts to rise to your impatient nostrils (oh, S., please!) Hints of muddy papers and cardboard, and ink of course. Mouth (neat): well, it was rather gentle on the nose, but it kicks and hits on the palate. Huge grapefruits, salted olives, and pine-y oils. Could be that this is worth the airline tickets, after all. Oh and at 67% vol., at least they’re not moving water. With (local) water: yes, impeccable brine, olives, liquorice, salt, and lemons. Very bright, tart, and vertical. Finish: long, blade-y clean, and saltier. It’s to be wondered if the distilleries do not sometimes use seawater to reduce their new makes before filling. Actually, we did blend some whisky with water from the Loch Indaal around 20 years ago, still have a bottle of that. Not bad! Comments: ship a bottle to young Greta! Or start to use sailboats?
SGP:362 - 89 points.

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

 

September 7, 2019


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Three Laphroaig 
It’s been a trying week at Whiskyfun HQ Edinburgh. So, if you don’t mind, let’s just have three theoretically good Laphroaig. Well, two for sure, the first one is technically a mystery but I’m told it ‘could’ be Laphroaig. I suppose that’s in the same way that any anonymous glass of whisky could be a Laphroaig. 

 

Islay #2 25 yo (48.6%, Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1522 bottles)

Islay 25 yo #2 (48.6%, Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1522 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: Rather unmistakably 1990s Laphroaig I would say. It shares quite a bit with several of these recent SMWS single casks of similar age. At first it’s all mineral salts, sandalwood, wet rocks, hessian, beach pebbles, oily rags, coal smoke and gentle medical tinctures. Very lovely I have to say. Get’s a tad more chalky and develops some notes of lemon juice and wool. Very fresh and coastal. Mouth: Indeed this feels almost blatantly Laphroaig, which I’ll never complain about. More things like minerals, pebbles, flint smoke, TCP, iodine drops, pink sea salt and black pepper. Some notes of fresh shellfish and lemongrass. Not über complex but very enjoyable and easy Islay whisky where this more delicate side is a real asset. Finish: long, lemony, sooty, mineral and saline. A prickle of medicine in the aftertaste. Comments: A lovely dram and I would be bewildered if turned out to be anything other than Leapfrog. We’re kind of on the cusp of 90 here, but seeing as it’s so enjoyable and I docked a point off the last Boutique-y whisky I wrote notes for, we’ll correct that imbalance today. Excellent start to the session. 
SGP: 466 - 90 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 28 yo (44.4%, OB, 2018, quarter casks, bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry butts)

Laphroaig 28 yo (44.4%, OB, 2018, quarter casks, bourbon barrels and oloroso sherry butts)
The wording on the rear label of this one declares it to be “…matured for 28 years in a suite of artfully selected casks”. It was also finished in sherry casks for 12 months. So, a fairly contemporary degree of wood tinkering has gone on. Let’s see… Colour: coppery gold. Nose: rather thrillingly, on first nosing there’s an initial rush of tropical fruits of a style more reminiscent of an old 1980s bottled 10 year old for example. Guava, mango, kumquat, star fruit etc. There’s some very soft medical embrocations underneath that along with a similarly soft, coastal-flecked mineral aspect that was more prevalent in the Boutique-y. Touches of steel wool, pine resin, roof pitch, TCP and light herbal teas. On the nose so far it’s really excellent I have to say. Mouth: the fruits are not as voluminous on the palate, rather it’s more towards seawater, dried seaweed, light tarry extracts, dried herbs, bonfire smoke and things like chalk, clay and mercurochrome. I don’t really detect any overtly active wood so perhaps many of these casks it’s been in were not that active. There still a really pleasing amount of distillery character on display. Some notes of lemon peel, bergamot and vapour rubs. Lovely stuff. Finish: Good length and rather sooty and camphor with a nice oiliness and sense of a linger textural fatness. Comments: I was dubious about this frightening juggle of casks, but it hasn’t interfered with the distillery character. On the contrary, this feels like a very lovely and rather luscious transitional style of Laphroaig. I’ve tried a few of these various official aged Laphroaigs they’ve put out in recent years and, I have to say, I’ve found most to be very good. 
SGP: 555 - 90 points.

 

 

Drum roll please… 

 

 

Laphroaig 16 yo 1969 (53.2%, Sestante)

Laphroaig 16 yo 1969 (53.2%, Sestante)
A serious and super rare bottling. The 40% versions in this series are a little more common, but this cask strength version is extremely scarce now. Colour: gold. Nose: superbly salty and sharp but with a beautiful layer of passion fruits and tangerines draped over everything. The kind of aroma that really screams 60s Laphroaig. Fresh shellfish, an abundance of medical embrocations, bandages, antiseptic, gauze and then hints of olive oil, gorse, fresh herbs and sandalwood. Just wonderful, aromatically dazzling old school Islay malt. The peat is there but it holds a three part harmony with the coastal and medical elements in perfect balance. Touches of herbal tea and eucalyptus oils. With water: preserved lemons in brine, soot, grass, oils, medical tinctures and gentle peat smoke. Totally beautiful! Mouth: bath salts, minerals, pebbles, crushed sea shells, ink, chalk, black olives. The flavours are riddled with umami, savoury seasonings, cooking stocks and a firm salinity that intertwines perfectly with fruits and lightly smoky cereal tones. Salty butter and hints of mustard seed. With water: gets thicker in texture. Fatter, oilier and fuller with a more punchy, grassy-edged smokiness. Peppery too. Finish: wonderfully long, lemony, mineral, chiselled, medical and with a pure and really vivid coastal freshness. Comments: Another totally dazzling 60s Laphroaig. Fruit, peat, seashore and hospital all in harmony. 
SGP: 666 - 94 points.

 

 

Very happy with today’s wee session. Big hugs to Olivier and Dirk! 

 

 

 

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

 

September 6, 2019


Whiskyfun

Three indie Deanston and one

Less Ardbeg, more Deanston, that’s the shape of independent whiskydom these days. Having said that, I’m not sure I’ve heard anyone complaining… And I’m glad to be able to do another proper Deanston session! Let’s see what we have…

Deanston 10 yo 2009/2019 ‘One Giant Leap’ (61.6%, The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill PX sherry hogshead, cask #WB1003, 276 bottles)

Deanston 10 yo 2009/2019 ‘One Giant Leap’ (61.6%, The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill PX sherry hogshead, cask #WB1003, 276 bottles) Three stars
Tremble, mere mortal! As for that Giant Leap, that’s to commemorate John Coltrane’s famous album and… wait, no that was Giant Steps. This baby would rather commemorate, well you know what. Yes we’re late, as usual. Colour: office coffee. Nose: it’s a bit strong you see, so I don’t get much beyond some hot raisins and perhaps a little raspberry jam. With water: some moss, roasted chestnuts, peonies, overripe red berries, and touches of green oak plus some sponge cake. A little rough, but pleasant. Mouth (neat): this is almost prune juice, as far as both texture and flavours are concerned. Also the usual eau-de-vie notes, as almost always in very young cask strength whiskies. With water: tastes more or less like the ‘sherry’ that comes out of seasoning casks. Raisins, grass, walnut liqueur, green ginger… Finish: rather long and very thick, somewhat in the style of those heavily doctored rums, Zacapa, Diplomatico and so on. Except that this whisky is grassier and bitterer. Comments: really not my favourite style, and perhaps not One Giant Leap for Scotch whisky, but I know some friends would love it. Really a matter of taste.
SGP: 661- 80 points.

Deanston 10 yo 2008/2018 (56.2%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 576 bottles)

Deanston 10 yo 2008/2018 (56.2%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 576 bottles) Two stars and a half
From two hogsheads, most certainly refill according to the colour. This could be a little difficult… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: raw, mineral, chalky, waxy, a little metallic, on green apples as far as fruits are concerned. Mashed potatoes and turnips. With water: sand, porridge, damp oatcakes. Mouth (neat): kirsch and plum spirit, with a dollop of limoncello. Barley sugar. With water: similar. Not that it wouldn’t swim, it’s just that that wouldn’t change much. Notes of sugar. Finish: rather long and a little grassier. Nicer notes of pink grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: I suppose you need a few stepping stones in a great range. Not a malt whisky that I’ll remember forever and ever.
SGP:351 - 78 points.

Perhaps more years…

Deanston 19 yo 1999/2018 (51.3%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead, cask #2560, 136 bottles)

Deanston 19 yo 1999/2018 (51.3%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead, cask #2560, 136 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: pristine, well-matured this time, not too complex, rather on fruit tartes and cakes, plums, plus green tea and notes of fresh marzipan. Really, it’s niiice. With water: sliced button mushrooms, celeriac, gentian roots. Mouth (neat): funny notes of vegetables. Beans? Carrots? Carrot cake for sure, also lemons and grapefruits, on a rather thick structure. Touches of burnt caramel and chicory coffee. My favourite brand is Leroux. With water: back to barley and porridge, plus lemon. Some kind of slightly earthy dough. Finish: medium, good, rather malty. A little white pepper. Comments: beats the youngsters fair and square.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

An older bonus…

Deanston 21 yo 1995/2016 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, hogshead, cask #12816, 263 bottles)

Deanston 21 yo 1995/2016 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, hogshead, cask #12816, 263 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: a tad more mature, perhaps, and a little more floral and on grasses and herbs, otherwise pretty similar. Mashed potatoes with a good deal of butter (Robuchon style, 50% potatoes, 50% butter), plus whiffs of liquorice wood and broken branches. With water: fresh butter and perhaps bamboo shoots. Mouth (neat): sweeter, richer, more on topical fruits. Plantains, bananas, papayas, some honey, some white pepper, touches of caraway, praline, more honey or rather mead… This is pretty excellent. With water: indeed, and it swims well, becoming more citrusy. Szechuan pepper, kumquats, orange blossom honey… Finish: medium and even more citrusy. That always works. More pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: one of the best recent Deanstons, in my opinion. And it’s totally ‘clean’ and un-tampered with!
SGP:561 - 87 points.

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

 

September 4, 2019


Whiskyfun

Five young Miltonduff and boni

Shall we try to do a few very young Miltonduffs? No, of course not, why a chore?

Miltonduff 10 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Discovery, 2018)

Miltonduff 10 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Discovery, 2018) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: sherry, including leather and used matches, but all is fine, no worries. Then walnuts and truffles, some kind of metallic earthiness (scoria?), and a growing meatiness, rather towards cured ham. A little Bovril as well. Mouth: fun whisky, rather demonstrative and pretty different, with a salty sherryness that would hint at fino, some earthy cakes (or buckwheat crèpes?) and orange cakes. It's solid malt whisky, pretty singular. I haven’t tried many such profiles. Finish: medium, leathery, with glazed chestnuts and more ham and walnuts. Comments: it’s almost as if some well-meaning person would have poured a few litres of manzanilla into the casks. And thrown a few used matches as well. But I really like it, as the Stones would have said.
SGP:362 - 84 points.

Miltonduff 9 yo (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, 1st fill bourbon, 2019)

Miltonduff 9 yo (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, 1st fill bourbon, 2019) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: we’re wandering throughout the Black Isle while the barley’s high and the oranges mature (around the year 2050, ha). A touch of ginger, one of ham, one of leather, and a drop of miso. Mouth: pretty good, whisky can go far without having lived long. Sour apples, barley, beers, Cointreau, and various sweet breads, Middle-east style. Finish: medium, very barley-y and caky, with oranges in the aftertaste. Classic. Comments: you could sip this while watching some good series on TV, but careful, it goes down extremely well. They should add warnings to the labels, such as ‘caution, easy sipper’ or something.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Well, we’re doing fine so far aren’t we? I told you, not obligatorily a chore…

Miltonduff 10 yo 2008/2019 (55.8%, Claxton’s, 1st fill barrel, 248 bottles)

Miltonduff 10 yo 2008/2019 (55.8%, Claxton’s, 1st fill barrel, 248 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: we’re extremely close to the J. Eadie, which was to be expected. This a little hotter, naturally, perhaps rougher, and less immediately pleasant, but it’s true that we’ve often noticed that very young whiskies could be nicer when reduced upfront. No, you cannot add water yourself, that’s not the same thing as careful reduction, two degrees by two degrees as all bottlers do (of course they don’t, but they should). With water: raw apples and pears, also perhaps gooseberries and rhubarb. Mouth (neat): raw unaltered barley eau-de-vie that would strip the fur off a badger, as they say in the remotest parts of Scotland (so pretty much everywhere). Other than that, cider, vanilla, pear juice. With water: there, it’s almost the same whisky as the James Eadie once reduced down to +/-45%. Cakes, apples, breads… Finish: medium, a tad grittier and grassier. Comments: excellent, it’s just that the one at 46% was more ready.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Miltonduff 9 yo (58.3%, Chorlton Whisky, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 137 bottles)

Miltonduff 9 yo (58.3%, Chorlton Whisky, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 137 bottles) Three stars and a half
I’ve got the feeling that we’re in the same ballpark again, but this is Chorlton, with their sublime labels. I hope those come off easily so that you can frame them once you’ve downed the content. Colour: straw. Nose: same whisky indeed, more or less. Rather more than less, actually. This should be quick… With water: a little earthier this time. Chalky soils. Mouth (neat): perhaps is it a little creamier, a little more on citrus and cider apples as well? With water: extremely similar, that is to say very good. Finish: medium, on cider apples, grasses, and light honey. Sunflower? Comments: the same causes produce the same effects.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Perhaps a different kind of cask?...

Miltonduff 9 yo 2009/2019 (62%, Cadenhead, Rum Cask, 258 bottles)

Miltonduff 9 yo 2009/2019 (62%, Cadenhead, Rum Cask, 258 bottles) Four stars
Alert, alert, this was a Jamaican cask! Five years in an ASB, five years in a Jamaican rum cask, so nine years in total (please let’s not quibble because of a few months). So, high ester or not? Colour: pale gold. Nose: lol. Tar and rubber, and very little room for the poor Speysider. When unreduced that is, let’s see… With water: okay, let’s say they talk. Rather bizarrely, you could believe this is a softer peater, perhaps even a Caol Ila of some sort.  Mouth (neat): pure rumsky, and the worst thing in this story is that this funny premix kind of works. But let’s assume the rum is making for approx. 5% of the total, then well, that allowed him to clearly control the whole shebang. More rum matured in whisky than the other way ‘round. With water: there, brilliant, excellent, sharp, top notch! I was sure this would work in the end. Olives, brine, tar, smoke, lime… Finish: long, sharp, precise, tarry, salty, olive-y, lemony… Comments: these rums are ten times bigger than your average Speysider, so no wonder this would be the outcome. Some 90/10 that feels like 50/50. Well done, Cadenhead! Next, Ardbeg/Hampden please…
SGP:563 - 87 points.

Good, all good things must come to an end, let’s have some old ones…

Miltonduff 34 yo 1981/2016 (40.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #72.48, refill bourbon hogshead, ‘Summer celebration dram’, 84 bottles)

Miltonduff 34 yo 1981/2016 (40.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #72.48, refill bourbon hogshead, ‘Summer celebration dram’, 84 bottles) Four stars
Summer celebration? Aren’t we a little late? Colour: light gold. Nose: it’s some old chardonnay from a good location in Burgundy. Say a 1980s vintage, and say around Meursault or perhaps Pernand. Camphor, overripe apples, crushed bananas, roasted nuts, praline, and cooked butter, with a leafy and tobacco-y background. Hints of cardboard appearing after three or four minutes. Mouth: it was good, fair and friendly cask. Sour woods but with some restraint, bananas, overripe apples, overripe greengages (or there, preserved greengages), then a little mint, hawthorn tea, chamomile, verbena… All that whispers rather than shouts, but I wouldn’t call it fragile. Finish: medium, with many more preserved greengages. Greengages are kind of forgotten these days, while they were all the rage when I was a kid. A shame, a scandal! Comments: indeed, this was nearly wine.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

A last oldie for the road…

Miltonduff 36 yo 1981/2018 (53.8%, North Star Spirits, refill hogshead, 176 bottles)

Miltonduff 36 yo 1981/2018 (53.8%, North Star Spirits, refill hogshead, 176 bottles) Five stars
Aren't we slowly getting used to this lovely Bollywoodian design? Colour: gold. Nose: good refill wood and a lot of time, that’s how the greatest whiskies were made before everyone got greedier. That was when malt whisky was still an art and not just a cash machine. So, butter cream, tarte tatin, lime tree blossom, tangerines, honeysuckle and white currant jam. That’s rare and so very sublime! I mean, white currant jam… Some crazy people are even taking the seeds out, using goose feathers. Totally loco but the jams are then worth quite a lot of zlotis, and really sublime. Same with red currants by the way, they make that in Bar-le-Duc, a small city in Lorraine. Crazy people. With water: honeycomb, cinnamon rolls, chamomile tea, more honeysuckle, and a rather vanilla-ed woodiness. Mouth (neat): it’s Federer-Nadal between the spirit and the oak – but indeed it’s one fantastic game. Beautiful ripe fruits, herbs, mint, fennel, hay wine, cinnamon, angelica, ginger, tonic water… With water: it swims! But it gets a little simpler, rather more on apples, cider, perhaps young calvados… Finish: medium, rather more on herbal teas of all kinds. Some kind of almondy oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: game, set and match. I know many tasters would score this old baby 88 or 89%, but I’m more in favour of 90. It’s really lovely, if a tad fragile and uncertain at times. Come on, it’s 36 and 1981 was Kim Wilde’s year!
SGP:461 - 90 points.

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

 

September 3, 2019


Whiskyfun

Huge Quantities of Bruichladdich

Angus had just loved some recent terroir-driven ‘Laddies, which I perfectly understand. But we’ll have some more ‘classic’ ones today. In counterpoint, so to speak.

Bruichladdich ‘Classic Laddie Scottish Barley’ (50%, OB, +/-2019)

Bruichladdich ‘Classic Laddie Scottish Barley’ (50%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
Not sure this wasn't bottled a little earlier. NAS, so probably very young, as the distillery usually never hesitates to display very low ages such as 6, 7 or 8. Colour: straw. Nose: you get bread, overripe apples, and melons, which is all pretty Bruichladdich, the vanilla, sawdust and dandelions, which is more ‘young whisky in young cask). No complains this far. With water: same, no changes. Mouth (neat): very young, raw, oaky, with some flour, tapioca, vanilla and green/sour oak. With water: rather a little fruitier, but there’s still quite some sour oak, ginger mints, oatcakes, sourdough, oak spices… Finish: medium, a little too plankish for me. Comments: very oaky yet okay; just a stepping stone, I would say.
SGP:351 - 79 points.

Bruichladdich 11 yo (57%, Dramfool, bourbon barrel, 2019)

Bruichladdich 11 yo (57%, Dramfool, bourbon barrel, 2019) Four stars
No vintage statement, but possibly a 2017. Colour: pale gold. Nose: sour fruits, peaches, melons, apricots, all that is very nice and very ‘laddich. Add honeysuckle and elderflowers and you’ve got a rather aromatic young Bruichladdich. With water: some plum cake, and more orchard fruits. We’re at the bakery… Mouth (neat): rather pungent and peppery at first, then on all the same fruits, with a vanilla-ed creaminess and rather grapefruits than lemons. Good, both. With water: more spices this time, water woke them up. Cinnamon, nutmeg, white pepper… Finish: long, creamy, with a little more acidic fruit. Kiwis? Comments: this, is classic Laddie, if I may. Reminds me of the first ‘new’ official Ten.
SGP:551 – 86 points.

Bruichladdich 8 yo 2010/2019 (55%, Maltbarn, bourbon, cask #118, 155 bottles)

Bruichladdich 8 yo 2010/2019 (55%, Maltbarn, bourbon, cask #118, 155 bottles) Four stars
This should be sharp and smart. BTW did you notice the lovely aquamarine tribute? Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh, and actually close to some raw distillates that the indies were having in the late 1990s or early 2000s. Celeriac and gentian, plus apples juice and yellow melons, on a rather eau-de-vie-ish foundation. Which is normal. Also oranges. With water: creamy vanilla, light honey, and just a small spoonful of mashed potatoes. Mouth (neat): take a blender (I mean, the device), add kiwis, tangerines, lemons, oranges, bananas and melons, push the button, and there, this is what you get. If you don’t, that’s because you forgot to plug it in. With water: same. Perhaps a little more towards green apples. Finish: medium, grassier, as usual. Comments: bright and easy, and very orchardy.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Bruichladdich 14 yo 2004/2019 (63.6%, SCSM, China, red wine, cask #1540, 402 bottles)

Bruichladdich 14 yo 2004/2019 (63.6%, SCSM, China, red wine, cask #1540, 402 bottles) Two stars
Red wine? Which red wine? Colour: gold. Nose: well well well, you cannot always win, and I’m not sure whiffs of truffles, gunpowder and hard-boiled eggs is always a good thing. With water: and gas. Mouth (neat): green pepper, white pepper, cloves, ginger… And gunpowder. With water: a littler nicer, thanks to some marmalade. Marmalade would help any whisky. Finish: rather long, very spicy. Seville oranges, ginger, pepper, strawberry jam. And green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: a battleground the next morning. What I could try so far from our friends in China has always been first class, but this is really too glitchy for me. Red wine and whisky? Always proceed with caution…
SGP:462 - 70 points.

Bruichladdich 16 yo 2002/2018 (61.2%, Claxton’s, sherry puncheon, cask # 1853-651, 372 bottles)

Bruichladdich 16 yo 2002/2018 (61.2%, Claxton’s, sherry puncheon, cask # 1853-651, 372 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: deep gold. Nose: some rounded, rather PX-y sherry, not stuffy at this point, rather on those ripe mirabelles that we like so much, and with just a touch of chalk and aspirin. Forgot to mention sultanas. With water: elderberries, chamomile, rosehip oil, patchouli. That’s perfectly unusual in Bruichladdich, and perfectly awesome. Mouth (neat): rich, very honeyed, and with big notes of Sauternes, or rather Monbazillac, with even touches of botrytis (smoky mushroomy ashes or something). And this funny medicinal side again. With water: ah perfect, this time the wine and the spirit would just tango to perfection. Cakes, jams, and yet no stuffiness. Finish: rather long, with the usual greener aftertaste. Green tea, lees… Comments: hard to beat. Ten more years and presto, up there with the very best.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Bruichladdich 15 yo 2002/2018 (61.1%, Or Sileis, barrel, cask #618, 161 bottles)

Bruichladdich 15 yo 2002/2018 (61.1%, Or Sileis, barrel, cask #618, 161 bottles) Five stars
Let’s see what our friends in Taiwan have found. The bottle comes complete with legends, dragons, fairies and swords especially, I believe, Excalibur. Colour: gold. Nose: very typically ex-bourbon Bruichladdich, creamy, fruity, perfectly balanced, fresh, and yet rich. You cannot not mention overripe apples, melons, peaches, acacia and sunflower honeys, and just a tiny touch of smoke, not sure whether those early batches were still ‘a bit peaty like 8ppm’ or not. With water: earth coming out, just what we were expecting. Perfect. Mouth (neat): absolutely perfect indeed. Tense, fruity, citrusy, with also the usual garden fruits, all this honey, these small herbal teas (rather chamomile and thyme), and, well quite some verticalness. Just a tiny wee touch of coconut, nothing awkward at all. With water: not one wrong move! Excellent drop. Finish: medium, tight and yet rich, creamy, with a superb fruitiness. High-precision work. Some violet sweets in the aftertaste, which always works in my book. Comments: any show of resistance would be futile, Captain.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2005/2018 (60.6%, Whisky Broker, cask #1410)

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2005/2018 (60.6%, Whisky Broker, cask #1410) Four stars
They’re having many such casks, and the reputation is pretty high. Colour: amber. Nose: rich sherry, walnuts, chestnuts, raisins, sultanas, good Cognac, dates and prunes, chestnut honey, rancio, tobacco, and very minimal amounts of gunpowder. Some sherry may have been involved here (you’ll never cease to amaze us, S.) With water: mushrooms, a walk in the woods in October, moss, tobacco, those sorts of things. Mouth (neat): very good creamy sweet and yet mineral and ‘gunpowdery’ sherry at first, while it would get rounder over time, with dried figs, bananas, and some honey. As usual, walnuts are running the show. Some slightly sulphury earthiness in the background, not even sure I should mention that (well, you just did, S.) With water: same, more or less. Finish: rather long, on spicy fig jam. Comments: this has had its old-Macallan moments. There’s some sulphur too, but it’s perfectly integrated, almost as if that was done on purpose.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

We’ve got some sister casks but we’ll do those later, or this is really going to become too long.

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1991/2017 (48%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask #12259, 301 bottles)

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1991/2017 (48%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask #12259, 301 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s the freshness that’s pretty impressive here, also its austere side, far from all the youngsters that we just had. Graphite and lamp oils, fresh almonds, kelp, hazelnuts, fruit peels, hints of wet cardboard, cut grass, dried flowers in a vase, touches of mint… It’s really soft, almost whispering. No water is needed. Mouth: I have to say this is pretty brilliant, complex, and perfectly mature. That’s the difference between whisky that’s perfectly flavoured and whisky that’s truly mature. Lovely honey , beeswax and mead. Having said that, some notes of beer are a little too much, and you really have to love bitter almonds. Finish: medium, rather more on marmalade, while the wax keeps singing in the aftertaste, together with some hay wine or jelly. Comments: a rather complex one, probably the top of what you could find within these Invergordon vintages.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Let’s double-check that…

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1991/2018 (55.2%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #3045, 207 bottles)

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1991/2018 (55.2%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #3045, 207 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: different again. Apple cakes, sweet beer, paraffin, apple peels, green plums, chalk, tonic water, cinchona… This is exactly how I remembered those vintages, pleasant but a little rough. With water: yoghurt and custard, white melons, limestone, and rather a lot of paraffin. Mouth (neat): feels young, a tad chalky and fermentary (muscadet), with notes of green coffee, then many white and green fruits, greengages, apples, green bananas… Green bananas are particularly obvious here. With water: more grass and more lemons and grapefruits. A tad fizzy, like Schweppes tonic water. I know I shouldn’t quote those brands since they manage to sneak in almost 90g sugar per litre. That’s almost as much as in Coke or Pepsi. But back to this Laddie, I find it dry and fine. Finish: rather long and really grassy. Green melon skin. Comments: not my favourite ever, and this Bruichladdich will not change our lives, but I find it really very fair and loyal.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

A last one, and let’s make it a rare old one!

Bruichladdich 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.2%, Turatello)

Bruichladdich 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.2%, Turatello) Five stars
Some Gordon & MacPhail stock, most certainly, shipped over to one of their Italian importers. Remember, the Italians were still running the show at that time, as far as malt whisky was concerned, while we lesser Europeans like me used to rather drink heavily branded blends that were giving us headaches and terrible mornings. Colour: gold. Nose: Bruichladdich had dropped peat just four or five years earlier, and you would swear there was still some in the pipes when nosing this wonderful malt. It’s earthier and fatter than modern distillates, probably more herbal too, and it’s shock full of aromas from the woods, such as pine needles, damp moss and earth, old branches, autumn leaves (coming soon), mushrooms, fern… On top of all that, some lovely camphor, which just always works. Also a little earthy sherry, walnuts, tobacco, miso, rancio… With water: stunning. Bandages, tobacco, leather, mushrooms, walnuts, and a gazillion tinier aromas, all around herbs and woods. Mouth (neat): oh crikey! Marzipan, old walnuts, stout, carbonnade, concentrated prune juice (a must in the old days), rancio, madder Armagnac (Ténarèze), wood extracts, walnut stain... Should you try this blind, you’d believe the whisky’s as black as ebony, while it’s just golden. With water: citrus getting in on the act. Pink grapefruits and blood oranges. Finish: long, soothing, perfect, rich, extremely satisfying and, which is bad for your wallet, moreish. Comments: G&M also had such wonders in their older ‘Cask’ series. The best HPs are not too far away.
SGP:662 - 93 points.

Let’s do the calculations, that’s one, two, three… ten Bruichladdich. That’s what, at WF Towers, we call a proper session. See you.

(Merci les frères Burlet)

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

 

September 2, 2019


Whiskyfun

A crate of Craigellachie

Indeed I thought we could have a few more Craigellachies, now that the newish official range seems to have given ideas to many independent bottlers. We’ll focus on the latter, if you don’t mind, especially on the loads of 2008s that have appeared…

Craigellachie 9 yo 2008/2017 (46%, Cask Classics, bourbon, cask #900310)

Craigellachie 9 yo 2008/2017 (46%, Cask Classics, bourbon, cask #900310) Three stars and a half
I suppose they’re small bottlers as it’s the first time we’re coming across one of their bottles. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: barley, grist, wort, chicory, instant coffee, green pears… Well, this is elementary, but not rudimentary. All natural bready/cake-y malt whisky. Mouth: there are millions of litres of these kinds, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Good maltiness, cake, roasted nuts, toasted bread, more instant coffee, chocolate, brownies… Finish: medium, even maltier. Ovaltine/Ovomaltine all over your palate. Comments: really does its job, a good bottle to show your friends who are only used to average blends ‘what is malt whisky’ (some would have said ‘what is whisky’, around 110 years ago)…
SGP:441 - 83 points.

Craigellachie 10 yo 2007/2017 (48.8%, Valinch and Mallet, Young Masters Edition, bourbon hogshead, cask #17-3111, 333 bottles)

Craigellachie 10 yo 2007/2017 (48.8%, Valinch and Mallet, Young Masters Edition, bourbon hogshead, cask #17-3111, 333 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: very similar, just a tad more eau-de-vie-ish. Slivovitz and williams pear, otherwise cake, malt, Nescafé and toasted white bread. Mouth: creamy mouth feel, with some vanilla and pepper, then malt, cake, bread, peanut butter, shortbread, macaroons, and then more custard. Finish: medium, with a little more pepper. Dried pears in the aftertaste. Comments: epitomical young natural malt whisky. Now we won’t remember these babies forever…
SGP:451 - 83 points.

Let’s check a higher voltage…

Craigellachie 10 yo 2008/2019 (63.3%, Signatory Vintage for Kirsch Whisky, sherry cask, cask #900618, 613 bottles)

Craigellachie 10 yo 2008/2019 (63.3%, Signatory Vintage for Kirsch Whisky, sherry cask, cask #900618, 613 bottles) Four stars
An homicidal strength yet again! Colour: gold. Nose: pretty much the same cake-y and malty feelings, except that someone well-intentioned has added a handful of raisins and a few bits of blond tobacco. With water: cigarette tobacco and walnut wine, that’s a winning, if a little simple, combination. Wee hints of dunnage, concrete, old barrels... Mouth (neat): extremely powerful but kind of approachable. I seem to notice some coconut liqueur (better than Malibu) and a lot of butterscotch and nougat. With water: very good! Opens up like a daisy in the morning, with Ovaltine yet again, some mushrooms, white pepper, vegetable soup, raisins, and the tiniest bit of rubber, an asset in this context. Finish: long, a tad rougher, which is rather normal at this age. Crude raw chocolate. Comments: as good as it gets given its pedigree. Reminds me of some batches of Glenfarclas 105.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Craigellachie-Glenlivet 9 yo 2009/2019 (55.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 570 bottles)

Craigellachie-Glenlivet 9 yo 2009/2019 (55.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 570 bottles) Four stars
This baby from two hogsheads. Colour: white wine. Nose: this is more complex, with more coastal tones, as well as something chalky, or at least mineral. There’s also a little smoke and a little pepper, touches of ink, and then a rather marrowy development. It’s likely than one, if not both casks had seen some peaters in an earlier life. With water: you bet! Mud, beach sand, seawater, soot, dough, floor cloth, old jacket, rain water… And custard! Mouth (neat): peat, salt, butterscotch,  vanilla and lemon fudges, then roasted peanuts and turon. Very good, I think. With water: even the citrus fruits hint at Islay. Finish: rather long, ashier, drier. Salty and malty aftertaste. Comments: a funny one to mislead the enemies.  Or blind tasting special!
SGP:453 - 85 points.

Craigellachie 2007/2018 (57.6%, Or Sileis, sherry hogshead, cask #998, 295 bottles)

Craigellachie 2007/2018 (57.6%, Or Sileis, sherry hogshead, cask #998, 295 bottles) Four stars
This one was bottled for Taiwan. Colour: white wine. Nose: very different, not only from CAD’s peater, but also from the caky ones we had before. Something clearly metallic, with also a lot of paraffin and graphite, soot, damp plaster, then white and green fruits rhubarb, white cherries… This one’s pretty intriguing. With water: it’s a little wild now, with touches of horse saddle on top of this metallic feeling. You could believe the cask was heavily patched, but the colour is perfectly transparent and light, and not greenish or blackish or brownish at all. A lot of porridge too, oats… Mouth (neat): the cakes and the butterscotch are back. Milk chocolate, cappuccino, custard, Ovaltine yet again… no ‘dirty’ touches anymore. With water: very good! Grapefruit, star fruit, gooseberries… It’s really two whiskies in one. Finish: medium, cakier, with citrus in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s easy to imagine that some careful blenders would have rejected this wee deviant cask, but as a single, it really works. Same score again.
SGP:462 - 85 points.

Craigellachie 12 yo 2006/2019 (54%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, sherry hogshead, 180 bottles)

Craigellachie 12 yo 2006/2019 (54%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, sherry hogshead, 180 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s bone dry, acetic and acidic, rather all on mineral riesling, cider vinegar (touches) and grapefruits, lemons and lime. I’m a fan already. With water: whiffs of sulphur, then mushrooms and the blackest black chocolate. The sherry coming out. Mouth (neat): absolutely excellent, mineral, extremely rieslingesque, and really shock full of the tartest citrus. With water: once again, the sherry comes out only when water’s added. What’s this magic? Walnuts, leather, truffles… Finish: rather long, with a little smoke, otherwise chalk and lemon. Touches of rapeseed and linseed oils, a hint of pastis in the aftertaste. Comments: a lot of fun to be had with this one. Something must have been going on, but we’re not the police, are we.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Craigellachie 2006/2019 (59.2%, Archives, barrel, cask #8101271, 214 bottles)

Craigellachie 2006/2019 (59.2%, Archives, barrel, cask #8101271, 214 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s rawer, rougher, more spirity, and simply younger, but that may be the very high strength, let’s see… With water: typical active barrel, with more vanilla this time, sawdust, coconut, marshmallows, and then these muddy/earthy touches that we always enjoy (yeah, go figure). Mouth (neat): raw barley eau-de-vie, with quite a lot of tangerine and coconut from the oak. Bottled candyfloss, or coconut snowballs… This is almost Glen Haribo. Not unpleasant at all, this almost rejuvenates us. With water: malt, apples and citron. We’re going home. Finish: medium, tenser, more lemony. Grassier aftertaste and hurray, no coconut in sight! Comments: it’s always bad news when we spot coconut in any whisky, but it happens that it would go away. Which is exactly what happened here.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

I know, they are all good, but this may get a little boring. Not sure we could expect much better from some young middle-range Speysiders, but let’s see…

Craigellachie 2002/2016 ‘Spiced Apple Strudel’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, 362 bottles)

Craigellachie 2002/2016 ‘Spiced Apple Strudel’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, 362 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one’s been teasing me from the shelves for months and months. But hey, Apple Strudel, is that the same as Apfelstrudel, Herr Wemyss? Colour: straw. Nose: the butterscotch is back! Also kougelhopf, fig cake (big time), heavy honeys (I always quote chestnut), molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup… You could almost pour this over pancakes. Mouth: very good. More maple syrup, savagnin (wine), roasted pecans, sugarcane syrup, butterscotch again and again, then spice cake, cloves, pepper, cinnamon cake, orange peels… There’s even a wee feeling of proper old moscatel. Where are the pancakes? Finish: medium, pretty fantastic, on all sugary syrups. Mars bar, maple syrup… And a very honeyed aftertaste. Comments: irresistible. We could have this for breakfast, instead of GMO cereals.
SGP:641 - 88 points.

As always, time seems to help. Remember time, so age, is consubstantial to whisky, and what’s too easy is too easy.

Craigellachie 25 yo 1994/2019 (56.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #1063, 195 bottles)

Craigellachie 25 yo 1994/2019 (56.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #1063, 195 bottles) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: there’s what wasn’t in any of the others, tertiary elements. Smaller aromas, herbs, teas, oils, ointments… Marzipan, for example, or beeswax, old rum, honeysuckle, lime blossom, peonies, heather honey, old Champagne, pollen… etc. Another league, clearly. With water: fantastic woods, herbs, needles, leaves, mosses, and grasses. This must cure something. Whisky melancholy? Mouth (neat): bang! Astounding and unexpected. Beeswax, marzipan, macaroons, earl grey tea, tobacco, Turkish delights, orange blossom water, Demerara sugar, tangerine liqueur (Mandarine Impériale), heavy ale… A lot going on in there, really, I wasn’t expecting this. With water: a cigar. Now it does not need any water. Finish: long, extraordinarily ‘oaky’. It’s rare that oak would complement a distillate this brilliantly, in my book. Malt whisky that behaves like the best Cognacs, I would say. Only the aftertaste is a little dry, a little too oaky for me. Quibbling for nothing again. Comments: the best of Craigellachie. I mean, of the town. Beats their neighbours, even the pushiest ones. No, no names. PS: Elixir, you should have warned us. PPS: how is it that the owners did not put their paws on this cask?
SGP:561 - 92 points.

Good, we have our winner, but perhaps a last one for the autobahn?…

Craigellachie 26 yo 1991/2018 (56.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill American hogshead, cask #9465, 172 bottles)

Craigellachie 26 yo 1991/2018 (56.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill American hogshead, cask #9465, 172 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: more fresh oak in this one, so more croissants, grist, vanilla, sawdust, oatcakes, shortbread, baguettes… We’re nosing fresh bread, really, which cannot be bad. Oh and fresh oak. With water: grass, branches, fresh oak, fresh almonds, banana skins, various peels… Mouth (neat): very good, and rather on cider. I mean, proper cider, not pub or supermarket cider. Or perhaps some kind of complex mead? But the oak’s never too far away, let’s be careful. With water: not quite, it doesn’t take water too well. An unnecessary tannicity appears, it’s better when unreduced, in my opinion. Finish: medium, rather on sweet oak, vanilla, apple juice, cider… Comments: really excellent, but the oak’s a little too much on the centre stage, and the spirit a little too shy. Active oak is hard to resist and to cope with, just ask all these new NAS malts around. Oh dear, I keep drivelling on…
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Ten, I think that’s a good number. See ya…

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

 

September 1, 2019


Whiskyfun
WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

August 2019

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Clynelish 23 yo 1995/2019 (55.4%, Signatory Vintage for the Whisky Exchange’s 20th Anniversary, refill sherry butt, cask #11252, 550 bottles) - WF 91

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Bowmore 21 yo (43%, OB, Golf decanter, +/-1985, 75cl) - WF 94

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Orkney 12 yo 2007/2019 (55.5%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead, 370 bottles) -
WF 90

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Hampden 35 yo 1983/2019 (55.3%, Valinch & Mallet, cask #19-3501R, 237 bottles) - WF 92

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Ron Cortez ‘Oro’ (40%, OB, Panama, +/-2018) - WF 50

 

Sunday rums

Always looking for malternatives, and trying to avoid the sugared-up ones! Not really, actually, those are kind of funny and without swill, there wouldn’t be ambrosia (not too proud of that one, I have to say).

Bounty Rum (40%, OB, St. Lucia, +/-2018)

Bounty Rum (40%, OB, St. Lucia, +/-2018) Two stars
This cheap baby by St. Lucia Distillers, naturally. So sugar or not sugar? Colour: white wine (hurray). Nose: hay, sugar cane, copper coins, fresh rhubarb, a touch of vanilla. It’s very light, but there is some ‘profile’, it’s is not flat at all. Intriguing, shall we say, and I’m not using it as a way of killing this little baby, not at all. Mouth: akin to many rums that you can drink over there in the Caribbean. Light, moderately cane-y not sweetened (gets a gold star here), and pleasantly grassy. Now, you still end-up wondering if you shouldn’t have prepared a daiquiri instead. Finish: short, a little rootier. Notes of cologne and gin. That’s nice (I mean, the roots). Comments: it’s fine, it doesn’t try to trick you, and you could quaff it like that. Or in a daiquiri, it’s got more flavours than most Cubans. BTW did you see that Diageo are about to push Santiago de Cuba? Good choice, it’s my favourite Cuban, let’s only hope they won’t Zacapa-ize it.
SGP: 440 - 72 points.

We could have a few clean Demeraras now, don’t you think?

Port Mourant (Diamond) 10 yo 2008/2018 (60.1%, Boogieman Import, Guyana, barrel, cask #72)

Port Mourant (Diamond) 10 yo 2008/2018 (60.1%, Boogieman Import, Guyana, barrel, cask #72) Four stars and a half
Why they have decided to put a portrait of Donald J. T. on the label, I don’t know. This from the Port Mourant still at Diamond Distillery. Colour: white wine. Nose: never has a blend of nail polish remover, pure acetone, diesel oil, and rotting turnips and cabbage been this pleasant. It’s pretty high-ester at first, but gets then softer, more on cut grass and fruit peels. Apples. With water: drier, more on ink, plasticine and soot. Mouth (neat): very good. Starts a little soapy – you’ve almost drunk the hand cream – but that’s usual with these makes, and tends to go away fast, which it does. Then drops of lavender cologne, then diesel oil again, some softer olive brine (diluted), and a wee burnt side. Nothing frightening. With water: impeccable. There are even kippers, just like in any good Islay. Finish: long, brine-y, olive-y, paraffiny. You just ate a small candle. Comments: seriously good stuff, totally distillate-driven.
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Enmore 28 yo 1990/2019 (54.9%, The Duchess, Guyana, bourbon, cask #49, 202 bottles)

Enmore 28 yo 1990/2019 (54.9%, The Duchess, Guyana, bourbon, cask #49, 202 bottles) Four stars and a half
This old rum from Enmore’s Versailles wooden pot still. The Duchess is an excellent little house, wondering if that duchess had her habits at the court of the Louis XIV, in Versailles. Not really. Colour: straw. It’s glorious to be able to have some nearly-30 years old rum that remained close to the original distillate, is it not. Nose: it’s very delicate, soft, flowery (lilies), with tiny spices, herbs and meadow flowers. Caraway flowers, woodruff, honeysuckle, elderflowers… It’s almost embroidery, or lace. With water: plasticine, balsa wood, one olive. Mouth (neat): so good! Once again it’s pretty subtle, with more tiny herbs and ‘stuff’, pine needles, a touch of liquorice, some cake that got a bit burnt, some pear purée or compote, and just a little tar and lemons. A hint of sea salt. With water: lemon, olive and brine up. Finish: rather long, still on lemon, olive and brine, plus a little tar and plasticine. Comments: sure it does not feel like it’s 28, rather 15, but no problems at all, time added a few subtleties that would just justify this extended European maturation. Sounds like I’m talking about the E.U., does it not. Lovable rum, bordering 90.
SGP:362 - 89 points.

Uitvlugt 21 yo 1997/2019 (49.1%, The Rum Mercenary, Black Label Collection, Guyana)

Uitvlugt 21 yo 1997/2019 (49.1%, The Rum Mercenary, Black Label Collection, Guyana) Five stars
In theory… Colour: white wine. Nose: and in practice, this is brilliant rum. Once again there is a softer esterness, some soot, some plastic, some ink, plasticine, olives, brake paddles, hay, new book, sandalwood, potpourri, camphor, and hashish. Seriously, a little hashish. Mouth: ooh! Smoked sardines, black olives, paraffin, tarry liquorice, salt. Aren’t shorter tasting notes all the rage this year? Finish: long and just perfect. Perhaps a notch sweeter, as if some spirit hacker would have added a few drops of pineapple juice. But who would do that? Seriously, this is nothing, this is fabulous rum. Violet sweets in the aftertaste - love that too. Comments: absolutely exceptional. Well done, Mr. Mercenary.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

I have an idea (oh, nohhhh…)

Old Hudson’s Bay Demerara Rum (151°proof, OB, Guyana, 1940s)

Old Hudson’s Bay Demerara Rum (151°proof, OB, Guyana, 1940s) Four stars
I used to know Hudson’s Bay for their whisky, but it’s the first time I come across some rum by them. Some rum bottled at, wait, 151°US Proof/2 = 75.5% vol. Is that really possible? Shall we survive? This was bottled in the UK and exported to the US as some rum from ‘British Guiana’.  Tell me about some carbon footprint! Colour: coffee. Nose: not that strong, but it’s shock-full of roasted nuts of all kinds, of liquorice, of chestnut purée, of prunes, and probably of caramel. Goes on with a lot of coffee liqueur. The very high strength doesn’t feel much, but this is such an old bottle! With water: changes a lot, getting meaty, bacterial, yeasty, and really full of umami. More so than Marmite. After that, a whole bag of huge black raisins, Corinth-style. Mouth (neat): oh my oh my, this is strong indeed, and hard to describe. In fact it is extremely tarry and pine-y, and coffee-ish. Imagine some mad scientist would have blended espresso, mint cordial, tar liqueur and fir sap, then redistilled that mixture twice. Cough! With water: some more modern Demerara-iness emerges. I would have loved to know where this was distilled, although this or those distilleries probably do not exist anymore. Very thick, tarry, coffee-ish and raisiny. I do find a touch of sugar, but that’s probably collateral, and not added afterwards. Collateral sugar, yet another stupid wording by your very humble WF. Finish: extremely long, rather ashy, thick, coffee-ish, and frankly invading. Are we done now? Comments: it’s pretty amazing, extremely potent, and sure did the high alcohol preserve everything for all those years. This is eternal, they could bring these bottles to Mars. We’ll score it because we must do so (are you sure, S.?).
SGP:563 - 86 points.

Yeah go climb over such a monster! Only one solution, go white and undiluted…

Bielle ‘Brut de Colonne’ (72.6%, Old Brothers, Marie-Galante, agricole, 2018)

Bielle ‘Brut de Colonne’ (72.6%, Old Brothers, Marie-Galante, agricole, 2018) Four stars
Brothers always did nice things in spirits. The Berry’s, the Cortis, the Garrisons, The Thompsons… No, perhaps not the Pattisons… As for ‘Brut de Colonne’, that means ‘Straight from the Column’, but in reality, this baby was aged for 28 months in stainless steel. It was distilled from fresh canne grise/grey cane. Let’s proceed with caution… Colour: white. Nose: very new-make-y, almost as new-make-y as newly made whisky, which is unusual as white rum should be much more aromatic. But at this strength, I suppose not much shall pass. With water: pure cane juice, really. It’s an exact transposition of the raw materials, with just additional touches of aniseed, or fennel seeds. It is extremely pure, immaculate, and nearly philosophical. Mouth (neat): yeah, perhaps, aniseed, liquorice and angelica. Not too sure… With water: ah, yes, it opens up, becoming wonderfully earthy, with some liquorice and once again, some pure cane juice. I’m sure you could make some stunning canchàncharas out of this. 60% rum, 20% honey, 20% lime juice., ice. Good night! Finish: medium, with a touch of salt, plasticine, tangerine, and fish oil. Really, fish oil. Comments: wonderful white rum. The expected saltiness is a little lazy, but it arrives eventually. I find it a little narrower and softer than another one that was bottled by the Old Brothers at 72.8%.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

(gracias, Joe)

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



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