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Whiskyfun Malt Madness Malt Maniacs
 

Serge whiskyfun

 

Whiskies 15,801
Other spirits 2,100
Angus 1,238

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (92)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
18)
Banff (5
2)
Ben Nevis (1
98)
Ben Wyvis
(3)
Benriach (1
87)
Benrinnes (
93)
Benromach (6
6)
Bladnoch (
84)
Blair Athol (
8
9)
Bowmore (5
48)
Braes of Glenlivet (4
6)
Brora (1
34)
Bruichladdich (2
9
8)
Bunnahabhain (3
58)
Dailuaine (68)
Dallas Dhu (
41)
Dalmore (1
23)
Dalwhinnie (
38)
Deanston (
51)
Dufftown (5
5)
Edradour (85)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
65)
Laphroaig (4
68)
Ledaig (1
33)
Linkwood (1
63)
Littlemill (1
24)
Loch Lomond (
76)
Lochside (6
9)
Longmorn (2
31)
Longrow (7
5)
Macallan (309)
Macduff (
89)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
4
5)
Millburn (2
4)
Miltonduff (
105)
Mortlach (
206)
Mosstowie (2
2)

Scapa (46)
Speyburn (
44)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (3
90)
St-Magdalene (5
4)
Strathisla (
10
6)
Strathmill (
41)

 
 
Pete and Jack



2020
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1
- 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2019
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No archives for 2002-2003

 
Malt maniacs goodies
 

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The Magical History
of the Great
Brora Distillery
1969 - 1983

   


 

Ye Auld Pages
that used to be here

   

 

 



Disclaimer
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
20

 


Scotch Legal Announcement

 
 

October 22, 2020


Whiskyfun

Flash session, two Glenmorangies

Well possibly two, as one of them is one of those increasingly annoying anonymous (or secret) malt whiskies. We’ll see…

 

 

 

Glenmorangie ‘A Tale of Cake’ (46%, OB, 2020)

Glenmorangie ‘A Tale of Cake’ (46%, OB, 2020)
With no age statement, a design made for kindergarten (or for Ronnie McDojnald) and a finishing in Tokaji, will this really be a piece of cake? In whisky, ex-Tokaji wood has been known for its capacity of wrecking even the most spectacular distillates, such as, err, Longrow. But I agree Glenmo isn’t Longrow, and that fun is much needed these days… Colour: light gold. Nose: fresher and zestier than expected, rather on pink grapefruits than on candied raisins or late-harvest furmint. Some peaches too, apricots, lemon biscuits, then longans and probably dried litchis, which would rather lead us towards gewurztraminer, but there, no harm done. Mouth: rather creamy, very easy, rather on oriental pastries, icewine or even ice cider, nougat and popcorn. Lemon drops and touches of mint liquorice. Finish: medium, rather on plum spirit. Rather damson eau-de-vie actually, which I’m about to distil again later in November, by the way, with my loyal 100-l hybrid copper still. A little coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: I think this is a success. The Tokaji was clean, the whisky smooth, and our friends valiant.

SGP:541 - 85 points.

 

 

 

Secret Highland 31 yo 1987/2019 (50.4%, The Whisky Blues, Taiwan, hogshead, cask #23, 79 bottles)

Secret Highland 31 yo 1987/2019 (50.4%, The Whisky Blues, Taiwan, hogshead, cask #23, 79 bottles) Five stars
Said to be Glenmorangie, not unlike other 1987s or 1985s that have been shared amongst indie bottlers. These are well single malts, not blended ones as the famous Westports. Now what’s best? Colour: deep gold/bronze. Nose: a shame that the distillery’s reputation cannot benefit from all the very positive comments that such wonderful old whiskies will undoubtedly pull from all corners. Lovely sultanas, with whiffs of ‘a tea in the Sahara’, spearmint, thin mints, orange cake, tangerine marmalade, and tremendously huge (Donald, shh…) notes of rosehip tea. With water: wonderful floral tones, rather around rosewater. Blood oranges. Mouth (neat): more of the same, starting with a little orange squash, then touches of pink Timut-style pepper, before it would unfold with marmalades, raisins, and various fruit liqueurs. Apricotine or Marillenschnaps. With water: a little oak popping out but that’s just nothing in this context. Turkish delights, raisins, liquorice allsorts, marmalade, a touch of aniseed (raki – to sip with Turkish delights)… Finish: medium, a little more honeyed, but the backgrounds remains very orange-y. Zests in the aftertaste. Comments: why aren’t there any indie disclosed Glenmorangies, while Ardbeg aren’t rare at all? Answers on a postcard…
SGP:651 - 90 points.

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

 

October 21, 2020


Whiskyfun

Old Pulteney Quartet

Apart from a few uninspiring NASses that were just reeking of sawdust, we’ve tried quite a few very nice new Pulteneys recently. Always a joy to be able to realise that there isn’t only Clynelish north of Dornoch on the East coast…

 

 

 

Old Pulteney 10 yo ‘Flotilla’ (46%, OB, 2020)

Old Pulteney 2010/2020 ‘Flotilla’ (46%, OB, first fill bourbon)
A brand new Flotilla! Seriously, silly names do not bother me as long as there is a proper age statement, quite the contrary. So, ‘flotilla’, you say that’s Gaelic?* Colour: white wine. Nose: I’m falling in love already. Ten years old, a well-behaved wood, and a rather pure distillate, that’s the recipe for a winner in my book. Shall we call this baby ‘the HP 10 of the mainland’? Lovely sunflower oil, williams pear, gooseberries, candlewax, artisan cider, ale, bread, seaweed… What’s not to like?  Mouth: yeeppie! Sure it’s a little on ripe pears and juicy sultanas, so perhaps a tad ‘too easy’, but let's not deny ourselves our joy, this is excellent. Reminds me of those ripe jujubes that they sell in Chinese food markets (no, not next to pangolin meat). So loads of pears, but also vanilla, barley syrup, the said jujubes, a touch of turmeric and ginger… What I’m missing is a little more coastalness at this point, but there, it’s a fine dram. Finish: rather long, sweet, on pears, plums, grass, beer, hay… Comments: it lost a few points in the end, but I’m still relatively in love with this fresh little baby. Rather drink at 12°C, like a white wine, would I say. Ehhh?
SGP:551 - 85 points.

 

 

*Update: the name Flotilla here simply refers to a small fleet of ships/boats, as it is a maritime malt. Thank you Old Pulteney!

 

 

 

Let’s see if the regular 10 is similar…

Old Pulteney 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2019)

Old Pulteney 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2019) Three stars
Yeah 40%, that’s a serious handicap for sure, I should have had this one as #1. I’ve never tried this 10, mind you. Colour: white wine. Nose: no, it’s nice, a little smokier perhaps, closer to barley, flour, husk, grist and stuff, fresh baguette, sourdough, beer (not quite the Oktoberfest though), ink, books… Mouth: well, it’s a little bizarre. I’m dead sure 43% vol. would have worked much better, as this is a little too porridge-y for me, sour, too much on tapioca, polenta, flour… I do enjoy bready flavours in my whiskies, but this time there’s isn’t quite enough body to sustain all that and we get a feeling of stale-iness, if that word exists in Trumpboris language. Nice notes of flower syrups beyond that, mullein, woodruff, elderflower… A shame that the backbone would be virtually non-existent. Finish: short, a tad sour. Tinned fish, sardines… Comments: a missed opportunity I’m sure. It’s all there, all it would need, IMHO, is a few extra-degrees. Is that too much to ask? Still worth a good score, naturally.
SGP:462 - 80 points.

Old Pulteney 16 yo (46%, OB, +/-2019)

Old Pulteney 16 yo (46%, OB, +/-2019) Four stars
There, a proper strength and some high hopes. Colour: gold. Nose: wait, this is something else. Green cigars, as they have in Indonesia, patchouli and mothballs, mushrooms and mosses, lamp oil and bone marrow, tincture of iodine and creosote, watermelon skin, fumes, plaster, sorrel… It’s pretty unconventional and full of character, I have to say I’m really fond of this unusual nose. Forgot to mention a little mustard and manzanilla. I agree, even better news. Mouth: seriously? Caraway and aniseed upfront? Then maize flour and miso? There is a fermentary side to this one, some sake-like notes, not really easy to enjoy, but there’s also a citrusy-hoppy development that just works. The good news is that it’s the latter that wins it. A funny, rather cinematic dram. Finish: long, greener, spicier. Bitterer herbs, leaves, peppers… Comments: good fun to be had with this one, it’s just that its rather a fighter and that you’ll need a few months to empty a bottle. Unless it’s the only bottle you own, naturally. Now I like it that they would go towards character and individuality, and not towards… stupid vanilla. Very good, Inver House.
SGP:472 - 87 points.

Old Pulteney 2006/2019 (46%, OB)

Old Pulteney 2006/2019 (46%, OB) Two stars and a half
This is all first fill bourbon, I believe. It’s ‘traveller’s exclusive’, but indeed, with stupid COVID, I suppose they’ve loosened any such constraints. Colour: light gold. Nose: same as the 16, just a notch leafier an grassier. It’s not that I would like to cut corners and cut short stories even shorter, but indeed these two whiskies are very similar. No wait, this one has a little more oak, more vanilla, more coconut too, and that isn’t good news in my book. I can’t stand obvious vanilla + coconut anymore. How bad is that, doctor? Mouth: yeah, I mean no, planks, sawdust, ginger, white pepper, nutmeg… They wouldn’t even sell this at Ikea, honestly. This is the kind of nightmare the signs of which were already noticeable on the nose. The oak took over, which is a shame because there seems to be some nice bananas and grapefruits somewhere in the background. Finish: long but too oaky. Comments: it’s absolutely fascinating to compare the 16 with this 2006. American oak, best friend and worst enemy of malt whisky.
SGP:361 - 79 points.

The 16 or the Flotilla please, anytime, anyplace.

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

 

October 20, 2020


Whiskyfun

Another Dalmore Trio

I’ve always had strong feelings for Dalmore and even found their craziest marketing stunts disconcertingly charming. I believe it’s a brand that’s got its very own world, pretty much out of touch with reality, a kind of parallel Macallan that, in your tasting glass, can really swing and rock and roll. The very fact that they often make us laugh is far from being the least of their qualities. Let’s drink some…

Dalmore 12 yo ‘Sherry Cask Select’ (43%, OB, 2020)

Dalmore 12 yo ‘Sherry Cask Select’ (43%, OB, 2020) Four stars
A brand new expression that’s admirably old-school and that reminds us all that we should always match ties and handkerchiefs. A matter of education, you understand. Excuse me? But where have you been, this is 1970, good people! Colour: deep amber. Nose: walnuts and teas at first, Darjeeling-Express style, then fresh figs, old books, incense and cinnamon rolls. Very old school indeed, but then again, there isn’t much to enjoy in 2020, don’t you agree? I would imagine someone could have a bottle of this in the drinks cabinet of his rusty old Bentley. New ones are so nouveau-riche… Mouth: fudge, stout, praline, chocolate, cinnamon rolls again, a little tobacco, quite some tea (Darjeeling indeed) and the expected old walnuts. A wee earthy side and even a few mushrooms. Excellent. Finish: 43% works so much better than 40%! Brownies, cinnamon, raisin rolls, tobacco, chocolate, fudge… Comments: don’t we have it good in 1970? And did you hear that the Stones have a new live album? I believe it’s called Get yer ya-ya's out!, so get your stereo – and your crystal decanter - ready. Seriously, this is seriously good.
SGP:641 - 87 points.

Dalmore 29 yo 1991/2020 (49.4%, WhiskySponge, The Patersponge Collection, refill bourbon, 205 bottles)

Dalmore 29 yo 1991/2020 (49.4%, WhiskySponge, The Patersponge Collection, refill bourbon, 205 bottles) Five stars
Several funny characters on this label, as usual, including a moustachioed and thicker Bill Clinton, as it appears. No? Colour: white wine. Nose: this simply reminds us how great a distillate Dalmore is, when no zany woods and/or wines have been in use. We were expecting oranges and indeed it is shock full of oranges and tangerines. I mean, we are just nosing a large basket full of oranges and tangerines, which I find just sublime. I’m reminded of those old black dumpy official bottles, especially the 20 years old. No make-up here, only natural beauty. Mouth: in keeping of the nose, ridden with oranges and tangerines, plus wee touches of mangos. That’s pretty all folks, but wow! Finish: long, pure, with myriads of tinier flavours arriving late. Various honeys, fruity hops, guavas, herbal teas… Comments: it’s true that we rather know the much sherried and/or finished official Dalmores, but this baby reminds us that first and foremost, Dalmore’s a great distillate that’s better al natural, just like all great distillates - and potato crisps. Stupendous fruity purity.
SGP:751 - 93 points.

Dalmore 18 yo 1976 ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (62.3%, The Whisky Connoisseur, 5cl, +/-1994)

Dalmore 18 yo 1976 ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (62.3%, The Whisky Connoisseur, 5cl, +/-1994) Two stars and a half
A wee bottle that I’ve been keeping in some obscure box for ages. I suppose I got it around or just before Y2K. If I remember well, this company was rather doing bottles for collectors who would just never open them anyway. Consequently, the whiskies were often very unlikely, to be honest. Colour: white wine. Nose: I don’t know. Very strong and pretty empty, perhaps a little grassy? This could almost be grain, or high-column rum… With water: grass, hints of coconut water, indeed some orange peel, orange oil… Not too sure this far, it hasn’t quite got the Sponge’s immediate fruity generosity. Mouth (neat): very raw, between kerosene and paint remover. Acetone and hair lacquer (but the cap was not sealed with lacquer, as many are/were). With water: very raw, grassy, on apple peel and bitter beer. Orange leaves rather than fruits, plus a bizarre chalky side (aspirin and plaster). Having said that, and even if it’s very raw, it’s got its charms. Finish: medium, spirity, leafy and grassy. Star fruit. Comments: better than what my note may suggest, but a little hard. Many indie single malts were a bit like this in the old days, pretty grassy and raw.
SGP:461 - 79 points.

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

 

October 19, 2020


Whiskyfun

Six Incredible Ardbegs
(feeling like we’re in the early 2000s)

It was about time we did another proper Ardbeg session, this one as a tribute to Mickey Heads its Distillery manager, who just retired after having spent so much time with whisky freaks from all over the world wearing yellow jumpers with orange trousers, white socks and Geox sandals, purple tweed straight from the airport shop, or even worse, Laphroaig/Lagavulin baseball caps and sweaters.


Circa 2004

Ah Feis Ile a.k.a. the Islay Fashion Week! For all that and a few other things, heartfelt apologies and happy retirement, dear Mickey! Now let’s see what we have… First, honour to whom honour is due…

 

 

 

Ardbeg 19 yo ‘Traigh Bhan Batch 2’ (46,2%, OB, 2020)

Ardbeg 19 yo ‘Traigh Bhan Batch 2’ (46,2%, OB, 2020)
This one’s matured in American oak and Oloroso sherry casks (which could be American oak too, no?) and is said to be pretty smooth. So new Wellies or not new Wellies? Colour: white wine. Nose: new Wellies indeed, but small size. Other than that, fresh almonds and fresh putty, a dollop of liquid tar, then whiffs of old shed, garden pit, kelp and really quite a lot of marzipan. I find it pretty light and gentle for Ardbeg, but well-balanced and rather admirably fresh. Mouth: it’s good that it wouldn’t be too modern (a.k.a. oak-influenced) and that both tar and lemon would play first fiddles, while more salty and coastal elements would chime in after three seconds, such as salted fudge and whelks. Always loved the humble whelks. No huge smoke here, rather cigar ashes, and perhaps touches of peaches, ala Ardmore. Finish: this is where you’re closest to ‘old’ Ardbeg – we’re meaning early 1970s – with this natural rubber, tar, smoke and a feeling of old cough syrup. Awesome finish. Comments: superb post-reopening Ardbeg and proof that they hadn’t changed much to the recipe. Thank you Stuart Thompson (and thanks anyone who’s not decided to dump this superb juice into whacky woods). Now, here’s that seminal question, was the purifier working or not?
SGP:466 - 91 points.

 

 

Ardbeg 18 yo 2001/2020 (54.5%, The Character of Islay for LMDW, The Stories of Wind and Wave, refill bourbon barrel, cask #257, 92 bottles)

Ardbeg 18 yo 2001/2020 (54.5%, The Character of Islay for LMDW, The Stories of Wind and Wave, refill bourbon barrel, cask #257, 92 bottles)
We already tried the Port Ellen in this rather self-restrained new series and found it almost otherworldly. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: pretty similar to the OB at first, only a tad sharper and zestier, more vertical would I say, more mineral as well, more kilny, gristy, with more seaweed as well, new tyres, fresh rubber, seashells, hessian, tarry ropes… In fact I was wrong, it’s rather different, with even less cask influence. Pure Ardbeg. With water: exceptional and more Ardbeg than Ardbeg (no sense at all, S.) Metal polish, shoe polish, tar, old garage, old car… Mouth (neat): holy featherless crow, is this tense and tight! Tar, smoky oysters and salted lemons. Luminous and ‘evident’. With water: what’s brilliant here is that it doesn’t really get any more complex, just deeper and purer at the same time. To the point where the only descriptor you may use is ‘Ardbeg’. I agree, not very useful. Finish: long, superbly tarry, salty, lemony, and a little medicinal as well. Some camphor. Lemon zests and ashes. Comments: there isn’t much to add, except that I have the ravishing feeling of being back in the early 2000s, when all those stunning single casks were coming out.
SGP:467 - 92 points.

 

 

 

We could try an old bottling that we haven’t tasted yet…

Ardbeg 10 yo 1978/1988 (57.8%, The Syndicate, 240 bottles)

Ardbeg 10 yo 1978/1988 (57.8%, The Syndicate, 240 bottles) Four stars and a half
I remember we used to find these vintages lighter and less concise than those from the first half of the 1970s. The official 1978 was even the lame duck within the range, in a way, together with JM’s rather weaker 17 yo at 40%. Colour: white wine. Nose: much more metallic and kind of ‘dirty’, or at least muddy, with whiffs of vase water and fruit peelings, lime juice… A little mint. That’s a little strange I have to say. With water: no changes I’m afraid. Perhaps more paraffin and brake liquid. Mouth (neat): what wasn’t in the nose lies on the palate, which is extremely ashy, ultra-dry, smoky, full of green walnuts, shoe polish, embrocations, then salt and anchovies. With water: chewing hessian and ashes, almond oil, anchovies, and perhaps a little cardboard. Not sure it’s a great swimmer. Finish: medium, rather on ashy marzipan and bits of tinned sardines. Comments: extremely good but I think this bottle was in a lesser form than the one our dear colleague Angus tasted earlier in the year (WF 93).
SGP:365 - 88 points.

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

Ardbeg 20 yo 2000/2020 (57.2%, The Whisky Show, bourbon barrel, cask #1087, 247 bottles) Five stars
Some funny stuff happening with the label. When will they be doing microchips and biolabels next year? Colour: light gold. Nose: this one’s clearly got more fresh oak, with notes of curry, ginger, mangos and vanilla (but, hurray, no coconut!), which leads to a rather softer Ardbegness, some cakes, marmalade, cough medicine, fruit paste (quince)… With water: café latte coming out, typically well-charred freshish oak. Bandages and oysters in the background, so all remains very fine. Mouth (neat): same feeling, the wood had much more influence this time, with more mangos again, quinces, ginger, Thai basil and coriander, thin mints, all that over some classic ashy and tarry Ardbegness. Rather a gentle monster. With water: more vanilla and cakes. Scones, pancake syrup, fudge… Finish: rather long, relatively sweet and ‘coated’ with sweet oak. Tangerine marmalade. Comments: superb, no doubt. A modern, well-engineered version of Ardbeg. Feels re-racked into very active American oak at some point, but I could be totally wrong. High-class, nonetheless.
SGP:557 - 90 points.

Ardbeg 28 yo (50.1%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, 251 bottles, 2020)

Ardbeg 28 yo (50.1%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, 251 bottles, 2020) Five stars
This one’s commemorating ‘the virtual Feis Ile of 2020’. Having said that, I’ve often noticed that given the amounts of whiskies consumed, Feis Ile’s always been pretty virtual to quite some friends. What’s more, I find it charming that they would do some vintageless bottling – I suppose this is ‘Laphroaig-made Ardbeg’ from the early 1990s, when Ian Henderson’s team used to do a few runs a year to keep the equipment at Ardbeg fit. Colour: white wine. Nose: typical of those years, rather more on oils (sunflower, grape pips) and all kinds of waxes. Paraffin oil, brake fluid, concrete, chalk, touches of mezcal (typical too), olives, smoked fish, seashells… With water: gears towards paraffin and embrocations. Pencil eraser, menthol, Vicks’ best. Mouth (neat): amazing what good age does to any whisky. Not that the twenties were young, but this is different. After all, remember malt whisky is barley plus water plus oak plus time, and that without time it’s vodka. Ahem. Anyway, brilliant Ardbeg once again, at a perfect age. Rather more on chalk, wax and lemons, then brine and clams. Great balance. With water: wood smoke, toffee, buttered tea, praline, smoky nougat or something… Finish: rather long, relatively gentler, with echoes of Jamaican rum this time. Perfect menthol too, also citron and tangerine liqueurs. The aftertaste is extremely smoky and ashy – as we sometimes say, you just licked the ashtray. Comments: amazing to see how these batches reach the 30-yo mark, while they were sometimes a little wobbly when younger. Great job, dear Mr Henderson!
SGP:457 - 92 points.

Ardbeg 25 yo 1992/2018 (50.5%, Douglas Laing 70th Anniversary, Xtra Old Particular Platinum, refill hogshead, cask #DL 12290, 251 bottles)

Ardbeg 25 yo 1992/2018 (50.5%, Douglas Laing 70th Anniversary, Xtra Old Particular Platinum, refill hogshead, cask #DL 12290, 251 bottles) Five stars
I agree we’re a little late with this baby, but what’s next after ‘XOP Platinum’? What will they do when they find a forgotten cask of Stromness or Malt Mill? Colour: white wine. Nose: possibly the sharpest of them all, the briniest for sure, as this is almost a blend of pure seawater and lemon juice. Plus damp crushed chalk, pickled gherkins, artisan cachaça and bone-dry petroly riesling. That I adore these kinds of profiles is an understatement. With water: we’re now deep in Islay mud, grist, burnt peat, crushed oyster shells, beach sand and Sylvaner grappa. And limoncello. Mouth (neat): : I think we have to thank Iain Henderson once again. Notes of heather honey and great mead arising, which is unusual in Ardbeg. The rest is stellar, lemon, chalk, seawater, smoked mussels, pink pepper… We’re flying high. With water: some surprising roundish, almost sugary notes (syrup) but all the rest is perfect. In fact, this is almost smoked limoncello. Who’s going to try to make that, ragazzi? Finish: long, ashier and drier as almost always, with a perfect waxy background and more lemon, perhaps rhubarb juice, some tar, and this pretty common creosote-y feel in the aftertaste. Comments: happy Anniversary Douglas Laing! Yes I know I’m two years late.
SGP:557 - 92 points.

No, we shall not have any baby Ardbeg finished in cheapish wine-treated re-scratched hoggies.

(Thanks you Angus and Tim - and Mickey!)

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

 

October 18, 2020


Whiskyfun

Rums as they came in

Rum’s a buoyant category, with a lot of new ones and even the jerky makers starting to do better ones. Let’s see what we have in the ‘new arrivals box’….

W.I.R.D. 33 yo 1986/2020 (58.8%, Silver Seal, Barbados)

W.I.R.D. 33 yo 1986/2020 (58.8%, Silver Seal, Barbados) Five stars
Wow, a thirty-three year old Black Rock! This is absolutely crazy. Colour: light gold – which in itself is surprising. European aging I suppose. Nose: the freshness is pretty incredible. I would mention soft nougat, bicycle inner tube, overripe pineapple and banana, some putty, some fresh mint, unexpected touches of honey-glazed ham, certainly some cane juice, wee touches of crushed anchovies and sardines, almond paste, then various teas, Assam, ho-chicha (roasted tea)… The freshness is really very impressive. Were they keeping the cask on Orkney? The 58% don’t even feel. With water: the brine coming out more. Mussels/oysters and smoked sausages, works as well as Robert Plant with Alison Krauss (not sure about that one, S.). Mouth (neat): hot and absolutely superb. In-your-face liquorice, cane juice, smoky coffee, brine, tar, toffee, salt, mocha… I find this extremely impressive indeed, totally not as shaky as some other oldies may get, so firm, assertive, and full. A little burnt caramel, which works very well in this context. Muscovado sugar. Yeah. With water: holy featherless crow, it keeps talking to us. Oranges and oysters, some Ardbeggy ashes, seaweed… Finish: long, very salty. Liquorice-y aftertaste. Comments: probably a rather infuriating bottle, that’s all I’ll say. Mi piacere.
SGP:563 - 91 points.

We might be going too fast…

Travellers 13 yo 2007/2020 (57.1%, Watt Rum, Belize, bourbon barrel, 326 bottles)

Travellers 13 yo 2007/2020 (57.1%, Watt Rum, Belize, bourbon barrel, 326 bottles) Four stars
We believe the good people behind Watt Rum are also behind Watt Whisky. Just saying. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s rather a miracle that this little coconutty rum would remain standing after the crazy old Bajan. The structure is lighter, the distillate thinner, but on the other hand there’s a delicate vanilla and sugar-cane combination, with some floral scents, ylang-ylang, heather, also more coconut, white chocolate… With water: similar, a little leafier, with more hay and fruit peels, banana skin, crushed sugarcane… Mouth (neat): probably one of the best within this lighter style. Chocolate, nougat, honey, rose jelly, popcorn, waffles, pancake sauce… With water: sugarcane syrup, praline and popcorn, roasted peanuts… Finish: medium, clean, honeyed. Sugarcane and maple syrups. Comments: a charming rum, not quite in the same league as the heavier Jamaicans or Guyanese, or indeed Bajan, but charming indeed. Good cask.
SGP:541 - 85 points.

Neisson ‘Bio Profil 107’ (53%, OB, Martinique, 2020)

Neisson ‘Bio Profil 107’ (53%, OB, Martinique, 2020) Two stars
This is an ‘ambré’ agricole, meaning that it only spent a few months in wood. The figure ‘107’ refers to a way of toasting the casks, but in true Whiskyfun fashion, we shan’t care. We do distillates, we don’t do wood. Bio means organic. Colour: white wine. Nose: I totally adore Neisson, but this is not for me. Too much butterscotch and vanilla. With water: not quite. Some rubber coming out, which may work well with shy woods, but just clashes with heady vanilla. Mouth (neat): it’s very good at first because the distillate is very good, and even some of the spices are rather lovely (Thai basil, anyone?) but there’s way too much buttered popcorn for me. I even find it rather cloying. With water: a little better, but that’s all thanks to the spirit. Earth, roots… The cakes and vanilla are unnecessary. Better white, as Trump would say (cockwomble alert!) Finish: rather long but too much on popcorn and nougat. Comments: I’m almost glad I could find a Neisson that I didn’t really care for. Proof that I’m not biased ;-).
SGP:631 - 76 points.

We’re going down, we need to do something!

 

 

 

Enmore 25 yo 1994/2020 (51%, The Wild Parrot for LMDW, Guyana)

Enmore 25 yo 1994/2020 (51%, The Wild Parrot for LMDW, Guyana)
This baby was distilled at Diamond in Georgetown. According to the colour, it’s been matured in the tropics. Colour: coffee with red hues. Nose: exactly as expected, that is to say on liquorice, coffee and menthol, with tinier, more delicate floral notes arising, lilies, camphor, plasticine, also molasses, rotting wood, black tea, leather polish… With water: amazing, on liquorice and verbena, wormwood, very old Port, black raisins, some mentholy old cognac… Something reminds of the best Armenian brandies, mind you. This is such a small planet! Mouth (neat): extremely thick and concentrated, this is almost a blend of essential oils with fruit liqueurs. Violets (parfait amour) and heavy liquorice. Huge. With water: earth, sweet mushrooms, liquorice allsorts, blackberry jam, cassis, malbec… Finish: long, with this lovely menthol that always works in any finishes. Crème de menthe. Comments: not a lazy old Demerara. The relatively low strength does not hint at tropical aging, but the taste does. Got any clues?
SGP:472 - 89 points.

 

 

Ready? Ready!...

 

 

Clarendon 36 yo 1984/2020 (74.8%, Plantation Extreme for LMDW, Jamaica, 348 bottles)

Clarendon 36 yo 1984/2020 (74.8%, Plantation Extreme for LMDW, Jamaica, 348 bottles)
Clarendon means Monymusk and 74.8% means attempted murder. Let me call my trusty lawyer… Colour: office coffee. Nose: varnish, nail polish remover, bourbon, acetone, black olives, murder. Why the hell do I love this? I think I need to call a shrink. With water: very high esters for sure (400?) so olives, glue, bakelite, new iPhone (not that very silly 12 that no one needs mind you), prunes, hoisin sauce… I think this is a beauty. A total brute but indeed, a beauty. I suppose no silly ‘dosage’ has been added, but let’s see…  Mouth (neat – am I not silly?): no, we’re beyond any limits. Walnut stain and rust inhibitor. NO sweetness whatsoever. With water: it would remain extremely dry and estery even at 40%, bone-dry, petroly, varnishy, very difficult at times, very acetic, with an extreme tannicity… and yet I’m tremendously (;-)) fond of this profile. I suppose it’s like these guys who just can’t quit bungee jumping or smoking unfiltered cigarettes. Some extremely delicate touches of raspberries and strawberries beneath all this panzer-like demonstration, well we know it’s a matter of funny molecules. Same with the heaviest peaters in whisky. Finish: quasi eternal and bone-dry. Over-infused thyme tea. Comments: total extreme fun. Well done Plantation, this was quite a statement. Hell, Donald-Trump and putrefaction, life’s way too short anyway! What’s more, I’m dead sure this kills COVID better than Trump’s Remdesivir and Chloroquine.
SGP:173 - 90 points.

 

 

 

End-of-session

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

 

October 17, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Brackla, Glenturret
& Caol Ila - with Aperitifs
Another mixed bag this week. Including the first drams from the Watts of Campbeltown (hurray!) and some rather tasty looking new Caol Ilas (double-hurray!). I know, a naff introduction.

 

Blended Malt 19 yo 2001/2020 (44.9%, Watt Whisky, sherry butt, 630 bottles)

Blended Malt 19 yo 2001/2020 (44.9%, Watt Whisky, sherry butt, 630 bottles)
I’m extremely happy to see Kate and Mark doing their own thing, the whisky world needs more anti-nonsense, pro-fun people. Colour: amber. Nose: a style of sherry I really enjoy, that is to say lean, clean and rather leafy and mineral. Given time to open it develops some nutty aromas, praline, milk chocolate and rolling tobacco while also retaining these highly pleasurable mulchy, earthy tones. Mouth: lovely arrival, full, soft, darkly fruity sherry. Lots of sultanas, fig jam, raisins, tobacco and some slightly mushroomy vibes. Perhaps a wee dollop of treacle as well, but globally it remains elegantly drying. Finish: good length, densely earthy, getting richer and more towards figs, tobacco, dunnage and walnuts. Comments: If you’d handed me this blind and said an old Glendronach 15yo from the 1990s I’m not sure I’d have blinked even once. Superbly fresh, clean and vivid sherry with an old school accent. Recommended!
SGP: 561 - 88 points.

 

 

Blended Scotch Whisky 38 yo 1980/2020 (48.6%, C Dully Selection, cask #23, sherry hogshead, 230 bottles)

Blended Scotch Whisky 38 yo 1980/2020 (48.6%, C Dully Selection, cask #23, sherry hogshead, 230 bottles)
This is one of these ex-Edrington ‘blended whisky’ casks that rarely seem to taste like actual blends… Colour: brownish amber. Nose: deep, raisiny and rather luscious with these thick notes of tobacco, walnut oil, treacle and various dark fruit jams and chutneys. Evolves along these rather thick, earthy lines with quite a bit of hessian and leather. Pretty superb! Mouth: nice arrival, all on rancio. treacle, cloves, spiced fig jam, mulling spices and walnut liqueur. If you like old school sherry then this will tickle your boat no doubt. There’s a thickness of texture and an earthiness that I find extremely satisfying. Finish: medium with figs, sultanas, more tobacco, leaf mulch, hessian and rancio. Comments: I couldn’t detect one iota of grain whisky in this. Make of that what you will. Either way, this is a rather simple but direct and excellent old school sherried dram. No doubt it will be pestering a few tumblers this Winter.
SGP: 661 - 89 points.

 

 

Royal Brackla 12 yo ‘Batch 1’ (47.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1472 bottles)

Royal Brackla 12 yo ‘Batch 1’ (47.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1472 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh, youthful and almost hyper-natural with these immediate notes of ripe green apples and pears. Also gooseberry, cut grass, sunflower oil, lemon rind… entirely the wrong time of year to be drinking such a whisky as it almost makes you look up and expect to see spring sunshine out of the window. Some rather dry and crisp cereals emerge in time. Mouth: a little more basic than the nose. Cooking oils, butter, oatcakes, water biscuits, plain breakfast cereals, freshly made porridge and a single barley sugar. Some green and grassy notes such as parsley persevere. Finish: medium, gently drying, lightly peppery, more cereals, sunflower oil and a wee bit of natural sweet maltiness. Comments: The nose was lovely, but I wonder if this isn’t rather blending backbone whisky. Now, I suspect it probably makes a very fine highball with this rather natural and pure style.
SGP: 451 - 81 points.

 

 

Royal Brackla 2011/2018 (68%, Whisky Illuminati ‘Solaria Series’, cask #900077, 1st fill sherry butt, 150 bottles)

Royal Brackla 2011/2018 (68%, Whisky Illuminati ‘Solaria Series’, cask #900077, 1st fill sherry butt, 150 bottles)
This series seems to all have been filled at super high strength, hence such frightening ABVs in their youth. However, so far the sibling bottlings have been pretty good and no doubt such high strengths will be an asset as they age further. Colour: orangey amber. Nose: surprisingly light and citrusy at first nosing. Lots of orange peel and marmalades. Some kumquat, orange juice, toffee apple and barley sugar. Very nice. With water: gets nicely bready and autolytic now with notes of oatcakes, pollen, sweet cereals and even some fresh linens. Surprisingly approachable. Mouth: you do feel the alcohol and there is an initial impression that it’s masking quite a lot. Although there’s some nice notes of orgeat syrup, Battenberg cake and cherry cola. Hints of lychee, marzipan and rose water too. Quite floral, although the alcohol may well be emphasising the higher notes. With water: bigger and fatter now, notes of dark fruits in muesli, flapjack, sultana, orange cocktail bitters and mulling spices. Plain old chocolate orange as well. Finish: long and doubling down on these chocolate and orange notes with some wee glimmers of those earlier bready notes. Comments: I like this one quite a bit, you get a sense of the Brackla distillate in balance with the sherry.
SGP: 651 - 85 points.

 

 

Glenturret 12 yo 2006/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing Old Particular, refill sherry hogshead, 389 bottles)

Glenturret 12 yo 2006/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing Old Particular, refill sherry hogshead, 389 bottles)
I always feel nervously excited when trying Glenturret, it can just go in absolutely any direction… Colour: amber. Nose: a rather hot and modern style of sherry with wood embers, paprika, cherry stones and things like cask-aged porter and roast walnuts. Punchy and rather vivid, but in a good way. Also some chilli-infused dark chocolate, leather and game meats. Mouth: I think that in this instance the Glenturret itself is somewhat hidden by this big, weighty cloak of sherry. Lots of wood spices, dark fruit chutneys, ointments, graphite oil, black pepper, soot, earthy black teas and mineral oil. It’s clean but also rather on the woody and spicy side. Finish: medium, slightly tarry, lots of more black pepper, cola syrup, ointments and bitter herbal extracts. Comments: Technically pretty good I think, you just have to enjoy this rather hot and powerful style of sherry. I don’t think the poor Glenturret distillate survived (who said ‘phew!’ ??)
SGP: 572 - 84 points.

 

 

Glenturret 28 yo 1987/2016 (50.4%, Signatory Cask Strength Collection, cask #372, hogshead, 149 bottles)

Glenturret 28 yo 1987/2016 (50.4%, Signatory Cask Strength Collection, cask #372, hogshead, 149 bottles)
These batches of casks by Signatory seem to provoke some division amongst whisky folk. However, I have to admit I usually really enjoy them. Colour: gold. Nose: yup, acrylic, bubblegum, ‘fruity’ waxes, new leather, white pepper, mineral oil and even some sort of sweetened olive oil. A very specific and pretty old style profile which Glenturret seems to exude when on form. With water: fresher, chalkier, more clean starchy fabrics, more medicines and a little pine resin. Mouth: a tad more unlikely perhaps, some notes of plasticine, clay, asparagus, honey roasted parsnip, juicy fruit chewing gum, aniseed, bouillon broth, canvass and overall a little more of this ‘chemical’ side of things. With water: again this goes drier with water and more towards fabrics, linens, camphor, hessian, putty, lemon oils, herbal throat medicines and vapour rubs. Still rather persistently waxy and with this chemically accented fruitiness. Finish: medium, with plenty plastic, clay, plasticine, red chilli, medicines, mineral oil and more umami and vegetal broths. Comments: These Glenturrets are just such funny, often whacky distillates. However, despite the fact they are clearly divisive and unusual, I cannot help but be charmed by them when they possess this style. Better this eccentricity than boring, oak-doped uniformity I say. The kind of bottle you can have a lot of fun with while dramming with friends - you know, socialising, remember that…? Anyway, please take my score with a pinch of salt.
SGP: 652 - 86 points.

 

 

Let’s have a wee run of Caol Ila and then call this a session.

 

 

Caol Ila 9 yo 2011/2020 (58.5%, C Dully Selection, cask #101, 1st fill barrel, 262 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2011/2020 (58.5%, C Dully Selection, cask #101, 1st fill barrel, 262 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: pure and hyper-fresh young Caol Ila, full of seawater, coastal flowers, lemon peel, grapefruit, lime juice and fresh linens with many wispy notes of pure peat smoke in the background. Also crushed seashells, dry chalky medicines, lemon cough drops and some savoury super salty pasta water. I just love this nose. With water: pure seawater, rockpools, wet seaweed, soy sauce and briny olives. Mouth: perfectly concise with the nose, except here the peat smoke is deeper and more raw and direct. Rather like you’re in direct communication with working kiln. There’s also charred shellfish, black olives in pickling juices, malt vinegar and tarry rope. Powerful but also balanced and wonderfully pure. With water: perfection now! Thick and wonderfully textural in the mouth, like tar mixed with petrol! Also seawater, fresh herbs, top quality olive oil, sandalwood and bonfire embers. Finish: long, briny, lots of umami paste, sardines in oil, black olive tapenade, smoked heather beers and again with this wonderfully petrolic, mineral and seawater fusion. Comments: I feel like I’m running out of things to say about Caol Ila after all these years. It’s just utterly impeccable spirit. Terrific selection by those cunning Swiss!
SGP: 367 - 90 points. 

 

 

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2020 (57.4%, Watt Whisky, hogshead, 303 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2020 (57.4%, Watt Whisky, hogshead, 303 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: a slightly lighter and breezier style. Lots of fresh sea air, crab sticks, wet beach pebbles, gorse, starched linens, bath salts and things like chalk, putty and antiseptic on gauze. Pristine, pure, almost irritatingly consistent Caol Ila. With water: deeper and sootier, more things like rope, puffer smoke, anchovies and a little kelp. Mouth: lemon juice, sheep wool oils, mineral oil, pink sea salt and kippers drizzled in brine and lemon juice. Oysters, ink, seawater… you get the picture. It’s basically one of these rather narrow Caol Ilas that displays an extremely pure and chiselled profile focussed on coastal and seashore aspects but with a quieter peat smoke influence. If I put on my ‘Serge Valentin moustache’ for a moment I’d probably say ‘millimetric!’. With water: creosote, black pepper, smoked teas with lemon, pasta water, smoked herbs and more medical things like gauze and TCP. Finish: long, more powerfully smoky, tarry, salty, peppery and with iodine and pure seawater again. Comments: This one rewards water with a little more complexity I think. Yet another superb and very pure Caol Ila, I like the unabashed ‘coastalness’ on display here.
SGP: 356 - 88 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 11 yo 2008/2020 (59.7%, The Single Cask, cask #318686, hogshead, 137 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2008/2020 (59.7%, The Single Cask, cask #318686, hogshead, 137 bottles)
Caol Ila is proof that you can produce enough whisky that your cask numbers run to the length of mobile phone numbers and still achieve amazing quality… Colour: lovely, a kind of mentholated, honeyed brininess with smoked olive oil, natural tar extract and wonderfully fragrant notes of heather flowers, gorse, sandalwood and smoked dark ales. This one brims with a sense of sweetness and an overall rather syrupy profile. With water: more salty, richly umami, soy sauce, ramen broth, herbal mouthwash, smoked teas. Superb! Mouth: wonderfully gentle and textural on arrival. Smoked mead, olive oil, tar, embrocations, oily peat, hessian and vapour rubs. Blind you’d probably say this was a few years older than 11. With water: just wonderful! Superbly oily, fatty peat, smoked meats, herbal medicines, tar, hessian, freshly kilned malt, brine, salt and vinegar crisps… great stuff! Finish: long, mentholated again with eucalyptus bark, fennel, hessian, ointments and some cured meats. Still this wonderful sense of texture and weight. Comments: This must have been a pretty awesome cask as you really feel it has added something ‘invisibly’ while retaining the full brilliance of the distillate. What is it they say about Caol Ila and independent bottling…
SGP: 566 - 90 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 28 yo 1990/2019 (48%, WhiskyNerds, cask #13129, refill oloroso, 192 bottles)

Caol Ila 28 yo 1990/2019 (48%, WhiskyNerds, cask #13129, refill oloroso, 192 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: you do indeed get the sense there has been some sherry afoot here. Lots of dense, leathery notes of camphor, tar, smoked olive oil, preserved lemons, black olives and a wee dash of seawater. While there’s also these herbal notes in addition and many coastal fragrances like sandalwood, white flowers and gorse. Beautiful! Mouth: this is starting to approach the same profile as these early 1980s casks. Only here I feel the sherry has added something deeper and more leathery and fatty. Smoky bacon, tarry notes, ointment, old rope, hessian, camphor, putty and various cured meats. An impressive and captivating level of complexity I would say. Finish: long, herbal, sooty, tarry, fragrantly coastal and with these wonderful fading medicinal qualities. Comments: a great cask captured at a perfect age. It’s a shame we don’t see more of these early 90s vintages from Caol Ila, I think they’re really becoming terrific.
SPG: 465 - 91 points.

 

 

Thanks to Dirk and Christian.

 

 

 

 

October 16, 2020


Whiskyfun

Orwell’s favourite

Well, not too sure I’m correct, as it seems that the distillery was built way after the famous writer had sojourned on the island and written 1984. I’m joking, of course, it had been dismantled and was only rebuilt in 1963. Anyway, yet another stoopid introduction it seems, on to the whiskies…

Jura ‘Winter Edition’ (40%, OB, 2020)

Jura ‘Winter Edition’ (40%, OB, 2020) Three stars
This NAS is brand new, and was finished in sherry. Given the strength, this should be pretty easy… Colour: gold. Nose: pretty nice, with some sunflower oil, touches of sawdust, fresh walnuts (as opposed to the oloroso-y old ones), white asparagus, shea butter, a touch of mint syrup… No, seriously, it's a fine, rather fresh nose, rather gentler than your average Jura. No feinty notes whatsoever. Mouth: a little weak and thin perhaps, that’s the low strength, but there’s good fudge and toffee. A bit akin to café latte, but incomparably better than any café lattes. Trying to write like JM – no worries, my dear wife is watching me day and night and may (well might, well she won’t) read this. So I’ll never tell you about that Outer-Mongolian baroness who, while I had been invited to host a joint Sazerac-Bacardi tasting session in Ulan-Bator and teach advanced throat singing to the locals – mostly girls, had… Oh come on! Finish: shortish but fine, pleasantly malty, with the expected touches of cardboard in the aftertaste. Comments: perfectly fine, perhaps worthy of some extra-3%?..
SGP:341 - 80 points.

Jura 18 yo (44%, OB, +/-2019)

Jura 18 yo (44%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars
Imagine I haven’t tried the 18 since… Oh my, 2007! But Jura was weak back then, really. Some nasty bottlings, not all of them, but there. Now this newer expression was finished in some Bordeaux red, most sadly (not STR), but you never know, this little juice may have escaped the mighty cabernety army. Which, by the way, I just love – In my wine glass. Colour: golden amber. Nose: some earth, peonies, blood oranges marmalade, heather honey, candied cherries, leather and ginger, more earth, wallflowers, pecan pie… I have to say this is a fine, rather rich and yet pretty elegant nose. But don’t we all know that silly wine finishings usually rather fail… on the palate? Mouth: nah, they know what they’re doing. This is not my preferred style at all, and we’re rather finding more café latte plus these dusty and honeyed sides (both at the same time), but otherwise except a drying cardboard and coffee combo in the back, this would rather kind of work, relatively. Well no, I’m having trouble liking it a lot, honestly. Finish: medium, dry and a little burnt and bitter. Burnt molasses, heavy cinnamon, some sour cardboard in the aftertaste. Comments: love the distillery, the people, the master blender, the settings and some of their whiskies, but frankly, I find this one rather too difficult. Tough love.
SGP:462 - 75 points.

Perhaps an indie…

Jura 29 yo 1991/2020 (52%, WhiskySponge, Patersponge Collection, refill barrel, 152 bottles)

Jura 29 yo 1991/2020 (52%, WhiskySponge, Patersponge Collection, refill barrel, 152 bottles) Five stars
A load of fun around this bottling, even if some of the jokes are relatively private. I’m sure at least 152 people will have got it all. Colour: gold. Nose: Jura in its most naked glory, at times a little hesitant, but very complex and gathering both herbal/earthy and spicy/waxy aromas. I’m finding quite a lot of resinous woods (thuja, cedar…), a lot of hay and chamomile tea, and some beautiful notes of faded wisteria and orange blossom. Whiffs of turon, mint-flavoured nougat (try that) and balsa wood. Complex. With water: oak oils, fresh bark, liquorice wood, fresh hazelwood… Mouth (neat): pretty oaky. Wood and mint, wax, cedarwood (cigar wrapping, those small Romeos I remember) and herbal teas. Some resinous honey, honeydew, chestnut… A lot of liquorice wood too. Very good, just bordering oakiness at times. Branches and stems. With water: careful! A green tannicity coming out, leaves, saps… Finish: long, really pretty much on green tea and fresh woods. Cinnamon mints, mint drops. Comments: at the border indeed. As a tea lover, this doesn’t bother me at all, but if you prefer Fanta, be careful. Other than that, brilliant old Jura, very well selected by M. Patersponge.
SGP:372 - 90 points.

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

 

October 15, 2020


Whiskyfun

Unusual Benriach

We’ve got two very lovely new old Benriachs on the table today, but we need a young little aperitif first…

Benriach 10 yo 2008/2018 (52%, Asta Morris, Foursquare cask finish, cask #AM 122, 289 bottles)

Benriach 10 yo 2008/2018 (52%, Asta Morris, Foursquare cask finish, cask #AM 122, 289 bottles) Four stars
There are a few things that you can do with an empty barrel of Foursquare rum, namely a rainwater receiver for the garden, some piece of furniture for the lounge (which will make your partner in life very happy), or a finishing vessel for whisky. It seems that they went for the third option at AM (not Aston Martin). Colour: light gold. Nose: all on white, yellow and green fruits, which is pretty much young-Benriach. Green apples, white currants, yellow peaches, gooseberries, mulberries, greengages, kiwis, rhubarb… all that. I wouldn’t shout ‘Foursquare!’ this far. With water: and pears and melons! Lovely fruit salad, very ‘young Benriach. Mouth (neat): typical acidulated arrival, totally on the same yellow, white and green fruits, just with a little more barley syrup and a touch of vanilla. Perhaps a few notes of sugarcane, but I’m sometimes finding these even in whiskies that have not been finished in rum, so, not sure. I find it good. With water: same, still pretty zesty. Ah, yes, forgot to mention lemon. Finish: medium, on se same flavours. Fresh and fruity aftertaste. A little muscovado sugar ‘perhaps’. Comments: really a lovely drop, flawless. You may now build an armchair for the whisky cellar ;-).
SGP:641 - 86 points.

 

 

 

Benriach ‘The Thirty’ (46%, OB, Four Cask Matured, 2020)

Benriach ‘The Thirty’ (46%, OB, Four Cask Matured, 2020)
More woodwork and oenology, this time with some sherry, bourbon, virgin oak and ‘Douro Valley Port’ (but do they make Port anywhere else?) The ‘smoke level’ is said to be ‘complex’. Could be that they used some of their peated batches from the Seagram’s era, we’ll see… Colour: full gold. Nose: indeed this is really very complex right from the start, with notes of old copper (kettle) and many herbal teas, verbena, wormwood… There’s a little vegetal tar (fir), some camphor for sure, bitter almonds oil, fresh putty and paint, then a wee meaty side, bordering umami. No wait we said we’d now use the word osmazôme instead. What’s sure is that this is rather different from the regular older Benriachs, which usually rather burst with fresh fruits. Mouth: I think I’ve never quite tasted something like this, once again we’re far from the ‘usual’ Benriach, and rather on a kind of blend with some old amontillado, walnut wine, smoked meats and ham (Iberico), tobacco, game, bitter oranges (lots), artichokes, brown sugar, plus drops of Worcester sauce. A wee vinegary side too (Bull Dog sauce). I think I seem to remember a Karuizawa that was a bit like this strange Benriach. Finish: long, all on tobacco, ham, metal and walnuts. Some kind of bitter and sour sauce in the aftertaste. Comments: this one’s extremely unusual, hard to compare and even to score. A bit surrealistic, perhaps? Or historical? My score don’t mean a thing here, either you’ll hate this one or you’ll love it.
SGP:473 - 85 points.

 

 

 

 

 

Benriach 38 yo 1981/2020 (46.6%, OB, for The Nectar and La Maison du Whisky, bourbon barrel (phew), cask #522,  168 bottles)

Benriach 38 yo 1981/2020 (46.6%, OB, for The Nectar and La Maison du Whisky, bourbon barrel (phew), cask #522,  168 bottles)
This old glory is a peated Benriach, made when several distilleries on the mainland were trying to produce some ‘Islay’ for the blends, especially Seagram’s distilleries (Strathisla…). Colour: full gold. Nose: hold on, this is something. Not ‘a peater’ (in the sense that Caol Ila 1981 would be a peater), but these camphory notes are just out of this world, since they would lead us to myriads of tinier empyreumatical and pine-y touches, such as putty once again, oil paint as well, triple-sec, pinesap, a pack of menthol cigarettes, pine needles, carbolineum, new linoleum while we’re at it (remember?), bakelite, new LP (Van Halen, and why not?)… And just fresh thyme and mint leaves. Oh and honeydew. Masterful job here, unless the palate is a wreck… Mouth: of course it’s not. We’re finding a few unlikely bitterish notes that remind us of the Thirty, but all the rest is impeccable and very complex. Many herbs, saps, citrus, oils, roasted nuts, small berries… I’m particularly reminded of my favourite within the liquorice allsorts, the wee square one with a layer of some kind of lemon sugar paste sneaked between two layers of soft liquorice. Remember, all sorts love allsorts and I love this Benriach! Finish: medium, well on liquorice allsorts and various herbal liqueurs, first Chartreuse then all the others. Verveine du Velay (verbena liqueur). A little fir honeydew and mead in the aftertaste. Rather roots, bitter gentian in the aftertaste. Comments: clearly not a peat monster but I’m very fond of this old Benriach that’s almost as singular as the strange Thirty, but much better balanced. And almost refreshing.
SGP:463 - 91 points.

 

 

 

(Merci Lucero)

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

 

October 14, 2020


Whiskyfun

Winey disaster and some fantastic relief

We haven’t heard much of Benromach recently apart from the fact that they have a new livery, I hope they’re doing well. Having said that, we could source a few novelties, some seemingly quite whacky, so let’s see. Let’s only hope they’ll keep their fantastic position as a traditional Highlander, and that their new Cherry-Heering-like packaging just means… nuffin’.

Benromach 2009/2019 ‘Cask strength Batch 1’ (58.8%, OB)

Benromach 2009/2019 ‘Cask strength Batch 1’ (58.8%, OB) Two stars and a half I know there are newer batches, but I suppose they’re similar. Are they? The thing that’s to be remembered about Benromach is that they’re using brewer’s yeast, if I’m not wrong. Colour: deep gold. Nose: I’m finding a little cardboard, ink, carbon paper, some slightly chemical notes as well, as if some dirty-ish sherry casks had been used. A lot of wood shavings too, rather over the top in my book. With water: metal polish, old tools, mushroom soup, some carbolic notes, walnut stain… A god example of a love-it-or-hate-it nose. I’m still out with the jury… Mouth (neat): big gingery and spicy oak, it’s not easy to get past that. Huge mustard too. Well, there is also a ’100 proof’ version that is (was?) ten times superior in my book. With water: tinned sardines, rollmops, Chinese dried flatfish (I cannot remember the name, but that’s quite an experience) and just some salty mustard sauce with some sawdust. Worcester sauce. Finish: long, oaky and salty, sour, very sauce-y. Not easy. Very salty aftertaste. Comments: I believe the casks were too loud here. Sure B. is a powerful distillate, but I’m not sure it could stand such a treatment. Even Brora ’72 wouldn’t, in my humble little book.
SGP:263 - 78 points.

Benromach 2011/2019 ‘Sassicaia Wood Finish’ (45%, OB)

Benromach 2011/2019 ‘Sassicaia Wood Finish’ (45%, OB) one star and a half
This is gonna be tough. I totally cherish and adore the genuine Italian reds (Barolo, Chianti and others) but I loathe their so-called Super-Tuscan Bordeaux-blends. Last time we ordered Sassicaia in a restaurant we couldn’t finish the bottle – and there were four of us. Ugly oak juice, very 1980s. Same with Ornellaia by the way, but there, an open mind we said… By the way, Sassicaia wood doesn’t exist, Sassicaia is a wine estate, not a forest, neither is it an oak varietal. Just saying. Colour: apricot. Nose: hey, not un-nice. Peach skins, melon skins, peach skins, melon skins, peach skins, melon skins… Mouth: drinkable, but barely. Unbalanced, skinny, too much on peels and leaves, without any of the malty goodness that usually comes with Benromach. Let’s remain politically correct, this was very unnecessary. Finish: no, too leathery. Comments: wine finishing as Glenmo used to do them in the very late 1990s or early 2000s. Do owners G&M have deals with Sassicaia? Wait, do they actually own Sassicaia? Hold on, do Sassicaia own G&M???
SGP:371 - 68 points.

Wait, this could be even more terrifying…

Benromach 2009/2017 ‘Château Cissac wine cask finish’ (45%, OB, 4200 bottles)

Benromach 2009/2017 ‘Château Cissac wine cask finish’ (45%, OB, 4200 bottles)
Why am I trying this? Cissac is a fine Bordeaux, but nothing extraordinary, but wait, maybe that’s the trick, using cheap second-tier Bordeaux casks… Colour: gold. Nose: yes indeed, the humble cru bourgeois from Haut-Médoc may well destroy the so-called Super-Tuscan, as this is not too un-nice, sure there’s too much green pepper and too much rubber, but it is kind of noseable. Having said that, we’re extremely far from, say Benromach 10 yo, as I last tried it a few years ago. Is it still very very nice malt whisky? Mouth: okayish. Barely. No, I’m trying my best but it’s bad juice, rubbery, unpleasant, unbalanced, and totally unnecessary. Poor Benromach and poor Cissac -  I think I’ll buy a case of Cissac to make amend. Seriously it’s a fine Haut-Médoc, do not let these absent-minded châteaux being pulled down by the crazy Scots and their two-penny grain distillates and marketing strategies! Finish: forget. Comments: I think I liked the Sassicaia a little better, actually. After all, this is Europe!
SGP:561 - 65 points.

No luck at all with Benromach and wine this time, but I’m sure things will get much, much better now… Because mind you, they’re in!

 

 

 

Benromach 15 yo (43%, OB, 2020)

Benromach 15 yo (43%, OB, 2020)
I loved the older livery (WF 87) and I cannot see why this one would be different. It’s a blend of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon Benromach. Colour: gold. Nose: but yes, this is the Benromach we loove at WF Towers, ridden with soot, cigar ashes, walnuts, suet, chocolate, beeswax and shoe polish (say brown), and these smallish curry-like aromas that are very Benromach and that are rather difficult to describe. Or perhaps rather garam masala? Mouth: love it, love salted walnuts, bizarre waxes, pepper, burnt Brussels sprouts, umami (didn’t we say we’d rather say osmazôme?) beef bouillon, roasted pistachio and cashew, English brown sauce (with apologies). Really bags and bags of old walnuts. Finish: rather long, dry, and wonderfully on old dry herbal cordials. Artichoke bitters and rather wood smoke in the aftertaste. Smoked meats and nuts, smoked almonds, mustard… Comments: what a relief! But we had no doubts…
SGP:372 - 88 points.

 

 

Now that we’re in full form, let’s have a last Benromach…

 

 

Benromach 2011/2020 (61.2%, OB, for France, first fill sherry, cask #39, 331 bottles)

Benromach 2011/2020 (61.2%, OB, for France, first fill sherry, cask #39, 331 bottles)
This one should rock and roll… Colour: deep gold. Nose: I get liquid wax (furniture polish) and some walnuts yet again. Some whiffs of pu-erh tea (does anyone realise what that does to me?) and something definitely Ardbeggy. I’m not joking, I’m thinking about those ridiculous sherried Committee Releases from the good old days. Stunning tar and rubber, new-Wellies-style. But it’s also a little hot… With water: oh, cigars, yet more walnuts, retsina, horse saddle, dried cow dung, dried porcinis, nutmeg… I think this is simply brilliant. Why buy a ticket to the countryside when you can just buy a bottle of this (but you ought to be quick)? Mouth (neat): someone blended Ben Nevis with Ardbeg while we weren’t watching, then added a rather mentholy young Benromach. Now it burns a bit, so quick… With water: glorious, almost a very salty and mustardy amontillado from Sanlucar. More or less. Finish: very long, dry, on tobacco and tea, more mustard, bitter almonds, even more walnuts, earth, a touch of lavender in the aftertaste… Comments: crazy young Benromach. Who needs Bordeaux blends (I mean, in whisky)?
SGP:362 - 90 points.

 

 

 

Thank you Benromach, that was quite some rollercoaster today! See you soon.

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

 

October 13, 2020


Whiskyfun

A brand new Craigellachie 49 year old

There is a rather incredible new Craigellachie 49 years old from Gordon & MacPhail’s, exclusive to LMDW, which we shall try while hoping it won’t have gotten too woody at this ripe old age. But first, a wee sparring partner from the official stable, a newer batch of the 17 yo…

Craigellachie 17 yo (46%, OB, +/-2019)

Craigellachie 17 yo (46%, OB, +/-2019) Three stars
We’ve first tried this baby when it came out, in 2014, and rather liked that first batch (WF 84) but we haven’t heard much from the owners since back then. I really hope it wasn’t a damp squib and that they’re doing as well as possible. Colour: gold. Nose: rather firm, on a good balance between bananas, citrons, shortbread, vanilla and ripe kiwis. Does the job, it’s just not very identifiable, as many distilleries are now issuing this kind of malt whisky. Homogenisation through the use of active barrels, anyone? Mouth: same feelings, it’s good, with even a little fatness, nice citrus, good wood, notes of melons, sponge cakes, a wee rooty side, a little pepper and ginger form the wood… But we’re really in the middle of the road. Finish: medium, maltier, with touches of ale, butterscotch… Comments: technically perfect, but perhaps not totally entrancing. It was Aultmore, wasn’t it? No wait, Strathmill? Benriach? My memory seems to fail me… Now I’ll need to try the 23 again, that one had been utterly brilliant when they launched it (WF 91).
SGP:551 - 82 points.

And so this new old Craigellachie that should have been introduced to the thirsty masses at Whisky Live Paris 2020… Take heart, Paris!

 

 

 

Craigellachie 49 yo 1970/2019 (48.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Esclusive, Archive Release, cask #1608)

Craigellachie 49 yo 1970/2019 (48.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Esclusive, Archive Release, cask #1608)
Colour: amber. Nose: yes there is a G&M style. Does that come from the wood they’ve been filling? From Elgin’s atmosphere? What’s sure is that this little Craig’ is well in line with t he house’s emblematic Longmorns, Glenlivets or Glen Grants, that is to say rather shock-full of beehive-y notes, old varnishes, precious woods, and those raisins that are just not too raisiny. I know what I’m trying to say. Heather honey, beeswax, pipe tobacco, pollens, preserved plums, and lastly, a little fresh cranberry juice, which is surprising but rather lovely. Oh, and a little propolis (pine or birch saps). Oh, and small Turkish dried figs. Oh, and dates filled with marzipan. Oh, and very old Sauternes. Now, the devil always is on the palate, so let’s just see how it goes… Mouth: a little beeswax and citrus at first, then some big oak for sure, but that translates into many saps, resins, and a feeling of quaffing very old bottles of Jägermeister. That propolis again (you can have it diluted in ethanol to heal your throat and bronchi) and some bitterish vegetables, rucola (rocket), sucking pine needles, quaffing cough syrup, and crunching coffee beans. That’s all extremely dry, as this baby digested all its fruits and sweetnesses, but since it rather went towards saps than straight tannins, it’s still full of charms. Finish: medium, very dry, sappy and resinous. Bits of raw cocoa and more coffee beans. Comments: there’s been a 1970/2016 G&M Exclusive for LMDW that had been fruitier and that I liked really a lot (WF 91), while this one is a little oakier but still of super-high level, provided you like your saps as much as I do.
SGP:362 - 90 points.

 

 

 

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

 

October 12, 2020


Whiskyfun

Imperial measures (cream of the crop)

So to speak. So a wee bag of single malts from Imperial Distillery, more or less at random…

Imperial 26 yo 1994/2020 (45.3%, The Whisky Show, Impossibility, barrel, 198 bottles)

Imperial 26 yo 1994/2020 (45.3%, The Whisky Show, Impossibility, barrel, 198 bottles) Four stars and a half
There seems to be some kind of M.C. Escher-style theme on the various labels for this brand new London bottling. They’re doing the Whisky Show virtually this year and I have to say they’re doing it very well. As long as the whiskies themselves are not virtual… Colour: white wine. Nose: a very zesty and mineral, old-chenin style nose that reminds me of an old Savennières that would have gone integrally dry. Then wet wool, a touch of paraffin, a droplet of lime juice and a few crushed mint leaves. Touch of yoghurt, a little leaven as well, I’m finding it rather fermentary. Mouth: a basket of lemons, granny smith, candle wax and baguette dough. Something slightly medicinal as well, camphor-lemon embrocation, then green peat with a touch of nutmeg. Limestone. I am reminded of ‘Old’ Clynelish here, even if this Imperial is rather less metallic and garage-y. Finish: long, with a rather wonderful bitterness and always this waxiness. Citrons. Comments: I have to confess Imperial is not the distillery that I knew the most about, but this one’s rather perfect, well on the royal axis that runs from HP to Springbank via Clynelish and Ben Nevis.
SGP:452 – 89 points.

 

 

 

Imperial 30 yo (54.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, Director’s Special, 2020)

Imperial 30 yo (54.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, Director’s Special, 2020)
Colour: white wine. Nose: very close, fermentary, chalky, flinty, with lemons and green apples, and a global style that’s even more vertical. More white wine, even more vinegar, lees, lemon juice… Huge zestiness here. With water: citrons! I’m citrons’ biggest fan. In early 1980s Clynelish, for example. Mouth (neat): absolutely superb, very waxy, with lemons and a plastic-like earthiness that sounds wrong but that’s actually rather superb.  A drop of white Port, perhaps. I know, I know… With water: lemon and wax in the power of 2. The director has it good. Finish: long, greener and a little bitterer. Artichokes, perhaps. Comments: a little more austere and demanding than the 1994, and perhaps a little more elegant as well. More intellectual, would we have said before it became touchy not to be inclusive of dumber folks. Hey, just a very silly joke! No jokes no fun, no fun no whisky.
SGP:451 - 90 points.

 

 

 

Imperial 24 yo 1995/2019 (53.1%, Thompson Bros., bourbon barrel, 166 bottles)

Imperial 24 yo 1995/2019 (53.1%, Thompson Bros., bourbon barrel, 166 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: this one’s really full of old copper, metal polish, old coins, graphite oil, even soot and ink. Some bone dry white wine in the background, grapefruit skin, and quite some paraffin too. Well in line with the previous ones. With water: there, melons and vine peaches, citrons… Amazing that water would make such wonderful fruitiness come out, after a much drier nose when unreduced. Mouth (neat): very dry, very grassy, a notch acetic, with more very dry white wine (some verdejos) and a lot of citrus peel. Green apples and green pears. Very tight, almost like using plyers on your tongue. Nah, I’m exaggerating yet again, but I’m finding les soft and easy than other Imperials. With water: oh! Tangerines, apples, greengages, lemon blossom honey and beeswax. Perfect. Finish: medium, with a tiny-wee salty touch. Really!  Comments: another superb one, but do not forget to add a little water.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Imperial 23 yo 1995/2018 (49.5%, The Maltman, for HNWS Taiwan, sherry finish, cask #400, 2016 bottles)

Imperial 23 yo 1995/2018 (49.5%, The Maltman, for HNWS Taiwan, sherry finish, cask #400, 2016 bottles) Four stars
Taiwan, quite a whisky country! Most probably in the top five in my opinion. Colour: deep gold. Nose: smells sweet, almost like some proper old Pedro Ximenez, with the usual flinty/waxy spirit supporting it. Integration is pretty perfect this time, to my amazement shall I add. Touches of spicy pipe tobacco, raisins, grapefruits, paraffin, peach skins…  Really, it’s how the sherry and the distillate mingled together that impresses me. Mouth: rather thick, with big spices upfront, pepper, coffee beans, bitter chocolate, sucking your cigar… It’s pretty drier this time, and perhaps not that PX-y after all, my bad. It’s excellent too, but it may be lacking that wonderful clarity that the others had.  Finish: long, with walnuts, ginger and pepper. Notes of damson spirit (slivovitz). Comments: another one that’s excellent, if a little less in the best pages of my little book. A finishing very well done.
SGP:661 - 86 points.

Good, let’s find an older vintage before we call this a (short) imperial session.

Imperial-Glenlivet 16 yo 1979/1996 (64.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Imperial-Glenlivet 16 yo 1979/1996 (64.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Four stars and a half
Ah, the ‘small cream label’ series and its epic keros… I mean high-octane bottlings! Colour: pale white wine (this starts well…) Nose: hot and marginally fruity, rather more medicinal than the newer vintages, between aspirin, dough, and perhaps fresh brioche that’s a little undercooked. Whiffs of liquorice and earl grey, a little vanilla and nougat too. Less ‘refill’ than expected. With water:  huge viscimetrics! And pretty much the same waxy notes as in the others, with similar citrus peel and fermentary notes. Some ale, fruity hops, orange blossom, panettone... Mouth (neat): strong and a tad on plastics, beyond some fruity liquorice (or liquorice allsorts). I believe water would be in order… With water: all on citrus this time, including the liqueurs made thereof. Limoncello and Cointreau or Grand-Marnier, with a little chalk too. It is also a little fizzy and bitter (Aperol spritz – with official apologies). Finish: rather long, waxy and citrusy. Once again, I’m finding similarities with that famous shoebox distillery up there in Brora. Aren’t we slowly starting to find those relatively pretty? Comments: a superb older drop. I’ve never tried Chivas’ Dalmunach, the new distillery that replaces the now demolished Imperial, I sincerely hope the style will be in the same vein. We’ll see… Oh yeah I know they’ve already issued a 4yo, but we’ve never seen it in the flesh. They are no fools.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

(Thank you Tim)

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

 

October 11, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

More rums and hopefully more malternatives

 

 

Now, now that the prices have reached those of malt whisky, it’s all becoming a little less crucial, is it not. More and more learned voices are telling me I should rather have a closer look at Calvados by the way, so we’ll see…

 

 

Clairin Communal Ansyen (49.3%, OB, LMDW, Haiti, 2964 bottles, 2020)

Clairin Communal Ansyen (49.3%, OB, LMDW, Haiti, 2964 bottles, 2020)
This a blend of four distilleries, married for around two years in ex-rum and ex-whisky casks. Should be good. Colour: gold. Nose: there, diesel oil. And then curry, gingerbread, black olives, rotting pineapples, burnt tyres (in other words, dragster wheels), then camphor, jasmine, old cigars, lilies, liquorice… And more diesel oil, or there, Tesla batteries. Indeed, one must keep up with what's going on in the world. Mouth: it is totally impossible to resist this huge load of salty liquorice, brine and tar. Holy feartherless crow! It is not the subtlest spirit ever made by honest men, and perhaps is it even a little one-dimensional, but I just adore this style. Now if you’re firmly against salted liquorice, you may abstain here. Finish: long, hyper-compact, pretty rich, salty and always loaded with liquorice and natural rubber. A little rich honey in the aftertaste. Chestnut. Comments: hell and damnation, what was that? There’s ‘L’union fait la force’ written on the label, which is Haiti’s motto. And Belgium’s, if I’m not wrong.
SGP:564 – 90 points.

 

 

Let’s hop to Martinique…

 

 

Neisson 2016/2020 ‘Rhum Vieux Bio’ (52.3%, OB, LMDW, Martinique, 470 bottles)

Neisson 2016/2020 ‘Rhum Vieux Bio’ (52.3%, OB, LMDW, Martinique, 470 bottles)
Have I ever told you what I think of Neisson? I know, they’re expensive, but they’re fantastic too and they do not make 15mio litres of spirit a year, mind you. Oh, ‘bio’ means ‘organic’. Colour: gold. Nose: probably not exactly as complex as the other week’s VSOP, and perhaps a little more on fresh oak (vanilla and coconut). A little less character perhaps, and more straight ‘soft agricole’ aromas. Sugar cane, cookies, bananas, vanilla, a little earth…  Now water may change the game. With water: coconut wine, a touch of metal (copper kettle), some kind of liquoricy mushrooms perhaps. Sure that exists, check rodopaxillus nudus (bragging a bit but no harm done I hope). Mouth (neat): nah, it is excellent. Earth and liquorice, black nougats, heather honey, beeswax, a touch of candy sugar, dried bananas, a tiny mint drop… With water: for once, water doesn’t change much. Finish: long, a tad fruitier, a little more on tropical fruit jams. Mango and banana, I would say. Comments: excellent, just a tad less impressive than the latest VSOP in my humble book. I would add that the Clairin is a serial killer, always tricky as #1 in a line-up (which I hadn’t anticipated, silly me).
SGP:641 - 88 points.

 

 

Savanna 15 yo 2003/2020 ‘Grand Arôme’ (66.5%, OB, La Réunion, cognac cask, cask #251, 420 bottles)

Savanna 15 yo 2003/2020 ‘Grand Arôme’ (66.5%, OB, La Réunion, cognac cask, cask #251, 420 bottles)
Seen the strength? And the fact that it’s grand arôme, so long fermentation? This is vintage 2003 but only filled in 2004, so I suppose they keep the white rum in tuns before they fill their casks. Or do they keep the molasses? Not too sure, I’ll have to fly to La Réunion once the virus is gone for good. I believe this is ex-molasses, not cane juice, while they make both at Savanna. Colour: deep gold. Nose: crude oil, liquorice, earth, black olives, bakelite, capers, sour brine, nail polish, acetone, and a lot of ethanol, so let’s not push our luck. With water: oh lovely, old books in a library, attic, old oils and petrol in a garage, liquorice, roasted nuts of all kinds, burnt walnuts, wood smoke, deep-roasted Brussels sprouts (or something like that), carbon paper and new fiberglass… I find this bold and superb. Mouth (neat): bang, curry, liquorice and diesel oil. Extreme stuff, water is streng obligatory. With water: smoky and salty, with some deep floral tones (lavender) and some aniseed-flavoured liquorice. Very oily mouth feel. Finish: very long, rather on salted liquorice and salted anchovies. Some sour vegetables in the aftertaste – Brussels sprouts again? Comments: extreme rum that takes no prisoners. Keep your pipette within reach. I like it a lot.
SGP:473 - 88 points.

 

 

Since we’re having monsters, let’s take the next plane to Trinidad…

 

 

Caroni 20 yo 2000/2020 ‘Basdeo Dicky Ramsarran’ (64.3%, Velier for LMDW, Trinidad, 1251 bottles)

Caroni 20 yo 2000/2020 ‘Basdeo Dicky Ramsarran’ (64.3%, Velier for LMDW, Trinidad, 1251 bottles)
Another one from their ‘Employee’ series. By the way, they all have great names, they could be characters in the Lord of the Ring or Game of Thrones, no? (but don’t tell them I said that…) Colour: amber. Nose: much, much gentler than the Savanna, more delicate, with notes of praline, soft honeys, chestnut purée, ylang-ylang, fudge… But at this strength, those feelings are purely anecdotal, water is obligatory. With water: balsamic woods, thuja, cedar, notes of old tea, cold smoke. It remains pretty gentle, mind you. Mouth (neat): oh pine sap, putty, plasticine, varnish, ether and menthol that almost anaesthetise your lips and tongue… It’s very strong! With water: extremely sappy, empyreumatic, with something roasted, burnt woods, a lot of tar, cocoa, oloroso, plasticine… Actually it takes its time, getting tighter and brighter, displaying citrons after two minutes, and some honeyed  lemongrass after five of them. This one likes to play with you, like a young dog. Finish: not that eternal, and rather a little soft. Cigars and toffee? Having said that some diesel oil appears in the aftertaste. Comments: a rather enigmatic Caroni, would I say. Quality remains very high, naturally, but I’m afraid that stoopid clairin that I liked so much killed everything.
SGP:563 - 88 points.

 

 

Let’s see if the clairin would even kill a Hampden before we call this a session…

 

 

Hampden 10 yo 2010/2020 ‘LROK’ (59%, OB for LMDW, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #92, 250 bottles)

Hampden 10 yo 2010/2020 ‘LROK’ (59%, OB for LMDW, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #92, 250 bottles)
The marque LROK indicates a kind of average esteriness (150 to 400 g esters/hlpa), but remember all Hampdens are estery anyway, even the ‘lightest’ ones, as we could find out last week with a totally awesome and pretty complex OWH. Colour: deep gold. Nose: take tinned anchovies. Let marinate in benzine. Then smoke over burning fuel, then add olive oil, nail polish remover, and embrocations, then wait for a long time. It’s to be remembered that fermentations there are extremely long, sometimes weeks and weeks, and that shows. The notes of cedarwood, heady honey and rotting fruits (bananas) are splendid too. With water: brine, coal smoke, rucola, clay, olives, mezcal… Mouth (neat): huge, perhaps a tad monolithic, gritty, rather rustic, salty, kerosene-y, ridden with liquorice and a little tar and rubber, some lemon juice beneath all that… But this baby keeps hitting you, water’s obligatory once again. With water: ah yes, perfect. Some salty and lemon-flavoured tar and liquorice. Finish: long, dry, drying, ashy. Grapefruit juice in the aftertaste, which lifts it. Comments: this one managed to play on an even field with the clairin. By the way, there are very lovely original drawings of endemic Jamaican birds on those very elegant labels.
SGP:463 - 90 points.

 

 

There will be many more...

 

 

 

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

 

October 10, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
A mini Orkney adventure
I wasn’t expecting to return to Orkney so soon after our recent extravaganza of official single casks, however it’s been a rather stressful couple of weeks and this bundle of old miniatures are eyeing me from the sample shelf. It’s not only Highland Park this time though, we’ll also have a Scapa as well and, to kick things off, this wee curiosity…

 

Pride of Orkney 12 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, miniature, 1980s)

Pride of Orkney 12 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, miniature, 1980s)
It just says ‘Highland Malt’ on the label. Could be either distillery on their own, or just as easily a vatting of both makes. Let’s see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: phew! Superbly rich, fat, oily, slightly grassy and with this rather greasy phenolic style. Camphor, marrow fat, mineral oils, soot and this slightly herbal waxiness. Totally charismatic and indeed very ‘Orcadian’ distillate. With water: drier, a little dustier with many pressed flowers, heather flowers, pollens and waxes. Superb! Mouth: brilliantly full of honeys, aged mead, wood resins, spices, natural tar, embrocations, minerals, olive oil, camphor and this pretty resinous, herbal, almost ‘sticky’ peat. Some shoe polish and caraway too. With water: more honeys but also more salty now too. Dried mint, camphor, pollens, tar, phenolics and herbal bitters. Finish: long, drying, tarry, menthol, coastal waxy. Comments: My guess is, rather obviously I suppose, Highland Park. Although, you can never be sure, I’ve also tried some rather hefty old 100 proof Scapas from G&M bottled during this era. What’s for sure is the quality of this humble wee mini is superb!
SGP: 563 - 92 points.

 

 

I’m not sure it makes much sense to go directly to Scapa now, but probably less sense to wait and do it at the end after another flurry of HPs. Anyway, it’s at a pretty rocket fuel strength so I’m sure everything will work out well enough in the end…

 

 

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

Scapa 1979/1989 (62.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #17.3)
One of these early, high octane and probably extremely naked, distillate-forward SMWS bottlings that seem to increasingly represent a singular snapshot of whisky history. Which is, of course, extremely cool! Colour: white wine - distilled indeed! Nose: raw grass, lemon juice, chalk, cactus, mirabelle, crushed aspirin. Very pure and with an undeniable freshness, but also rather punch and austere. With water: still rather closed and tough, seeds, fabrics, linens, sun lotion, cooking oils - all very natural and pure but a bit tricky. Mouth: pretty hot and tough really. Although there are some nice notes of sunflower oil, fruit teas sweetened with honey and heather flowers. Perhaps a touch of miso as well. With water: much better with water, there’s a spiciness, a more pronounced honeyed quality, some salinity, mustard, putty, camphor and a nice seam of waxiness has been exposed. Finish: medium, slightly medical, chalky, lemony, honeyed - rather like a hot toddy really. Comments: It’s to be wondered how the early era members of the SMWS remained sober when confronted with such monolithic rocket fuel whiskies. Of course, the answer is that they didn’t. Anyway, I think you can dispense with everything else here and simply pour into a tumbler with a good slug of water and you’ll have a highly pleasurable, if humble, wee Scapa. Otherwise it’s a bit of a brute.
SGP: 472 - 84 points.

 

 

Highland Park NAS (70 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1970s)

Highland Park NAS (70 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1970s)
One of these beautiful old St Magnus labels that G&M issued under license for many years in the 1960s and 70s. Colour: chestnut / amber. Nose: a very unctuous and earthy old style of sherry. Full of rancio and dripping in old balsamic, natural tar, walnut wine and things like cured game meats and old Burgundian pinot noir. Quite beautiful. Mouth: perfectly earthy, rich, medicinal, tarry and full of stewed dark fruits, crystallised citrus peels, orange oils, herbal liqueurs and again more rancio. Also hessian, more game meats and this particularly herbal and heathery Orkney peat. Finish: not the longest but beautifully rich, meaty, darkly fruity and herbal. Comments: A beautiful old glory. Hard to believe this was only 40% and survived all these years with such poise and freshness in this tiny wee mini. A style very much of its time - sadly.
SGP: 663 - 92 points.

 

 

Highland Park NAS (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1970s)

Highland Park NAS (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1970s)
A full strength version in the same presentation from around the same era, probably early-mid 70s. Colour: gold. Nose: superbly pure and just brimming with heather, salted honeys and the most beautifully rich and fragrant peat smoke. All studded with wispy herbs, gentle phenolics, natural tar, embrocations and this impression of coastal sea air. Elegance, beauty and also power all in perfect balance. With water: putty, oils, mechanical rags, ointments, soot, tar, bandages and seawater. Pretty stunning! Mouth: massively dense, oily, tarry and medical. Rather emphatically peaty and peppery too. Very herbal, oily peat, lots of heather honey, black and white peppers, guaze, lanolin and camphor. With water: there’s a dustiness which may well be OBE, but the oiliness and textural weight are becoming quite breath-taking. Hugely fatty, tarry, peaty, phenolic, drying, herbal and vividly saline now. Finish: very long, warming, honeyed, peaty, oily and full of wee things like seaweed, heather ales and more of these glorious tarry notes. Comments: Unbelievable distillate with almost eternal staying power. There was a tiny bit of OBE about this one so we’ll dock it one or two points, but this in a full sized , well-travelled bottle would probably be knocking on the door of 95 points very easily. I can feel it warming my toes!
SPG: 565 - 92 points.

 

 

Highland Park NAS (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1970s)

Highland Park NAS (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1970s)
This is pretty much the same except for the fact it has a blue capsule rather than a gold one. Not sure what that means for the contents though… Colour: gold. Nose: gentler in style, more towards honeys, aged mead, gentler saline qualities and heather beers. The peat is much shier here. Instead it’s all on soft notes of mustard powder, herbal liqueurs, ointments and medical embrocations. Also this pretty superb waxiness. With water: out come heather flowers, gorse, dried mango and pumpkin seed oil. Rich, dense and still rather medical. Mouth: here the power comes through, big and emphatic tarry notes, greasy phenolics, heathery peat smoke and more these rather textbook herbal liqueur qualities. Also these lovely textural waxy aspects adding weight in the mouth. With water: pow! Flower honeys, herbal ointments, gauze, lemon infused olive oil, putty, natural tar, camphor, seawater. Majestic! Finish: superbly long, thready salinity, fatty waxes, tarry phenolics, olive oil, grass, chalky minerals and herbal cough medicines. Comments: The way Highland Park used to weave peat throughout its spirit in the most compelling, ethereal fashion was just utterly genius if you ask me. They should really try to do some batches in this style again.
SGP: 653 - 93 points.

 

 

Let’s go sideways in time but upwards in age…

 

 

Highland Park 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1970s)

Highland Park 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1970s)
So this one is the livery that seems to have taken over from the St Magnus label and was used by G&M in the early 1990s. However, this is one of those slimmer, taller old flat miniatures with a smaller gold capsule, which theoretically should pre-date the slightly bigger bottles, which the previous two came from. (Keep up!) So this could pre-date the previous two drams slightly, or not. Oh God! I’m becoming a person who ‘does miniatures’ aren’t I? Please send help! Colour: deep, orangey gold. Nose: utterly sublime! Take the most dense, syrupy, ancient yellow Chartreuse and add pure heather honey, natural tar extract, drops of seawater, a cluster of top quality black olives, some of the saltiest Dutch liquorice, wrap it all in hessian and dip it in molten wax and you might be approaching this gloriously powerful, rich, layered and profoundly beautiful nose. With water: wider, fatter, deeper and more sweetness in the form of coconut and heather honey then bandages and anyway, you get the picture… Mouth: anti-maltoporn brigade! Instantly! Seriously, just a collision of the most beautiful honeys, the most compelling and complex herbal peat smoke and things like bone marrow, roast vegetables roasted in honey, Moroccan spices, ancient Claquesin liqueur and many, many various ointments, teas and roots. Sublime! With water: perfection. Mentholated, tarry, briny, peaty, oily, iodine, camphor, waxes, herbs, putty, teas, dried exotic fruits. Finish: endless. Comments: I feel deeply embarrassed to write such a note about piffling little old miniature. Clearly I need help. Please send six pallets of Speyburn to: Angus MacRaild, Miniature Rehabilitation Clinic, Edinburgh… 
SGP: 665 - 94 points.

 

 

Now forwards in time but sideways in age (I know, aren’t miniatures fun!)

 

 

Highland Park 8 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1980s)

Highland Park 8 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1980s)
In theory this should bring us back down to earth gently… Colour: deep gold. Nose: leaner, straighter and a little sharper. More on lemon juice, seawater, coconut, putty and things like wet rocks, ink, beach pebbles and crushed seashells. Wonderfully briny, lemony and still with this persistent mix of natural tar and rather vibrant heathery notes. But wasn’t Michael Jackson already pointing out heather as an HP hallmark decades ago? With water: becomes terrifically savoury, umami and salty. Things like bacon fat, herbal mouthwash, camphor and some rather sharp and invigorating minerality. Mouth: much hotter, sharper and powerful than the others. Pure seawater, mercurochrome, metal polish, soot, lemon juice, brine, green olives and these wee mustardy notes. Fantastic but obviously a different animal from the others. The peat is sharper, leaner and more precise. With water: broader in texture and deeper in flavour. More emphatically medicinal, more of a turfy, herbal peat profile and superbly peppery, salty and waxy. Finish: once again superbly long, resinously peaty, waxy, herbal, riddled with expensive olive oil, natural tar, embrocations and camphor. Comments: Water definitely joined the dots between this one and the previous examples. Not quite in the same league but this is still bewilderingly brilliant whisky. If there’s an argument to be made for terroir in whisky then I would say Orkney in the 1960s and 70s was probably a useful place to begin.
SGP: 574 - 92 points.

 

 

A quick battle with a Dragon and we’re done.

 

 

Highland Park 1973 ‘The Dragon’ (58.9%, Robertson’s Of Kirkwall, sherry cask, circa 1990)

Highland Park 1973 ‘The Dragon’ (58.9%, Robertson’s Of Kirkwall, sherry cask, circa 1990)
There’s also versions at 56.6% and 56.4% (WF 94 and 91 respectively) never tried this one though. I’m also not really sure when these were bottled. Given they were semi-private bottlings done in cheap wine bottles I doubt the usual rules around 75cl to 70cl changeover apply here. Anyway, deep expectations… Colour: amber. Nose: extremely pure and fresh showing a rather lean and mineral sherry with plenty leather, wet leaves, smoked teas and chocolate. Olive oil, hessian, natural tar and shoe polish as well. Clean and beautifully precise. With water: bitter lemon, wintergreen, matcha and lots of dense sooty and heavy mineral qualities. Mouth: superb and huge arrival. Concentrated, syrupy and salty old school sherry. Lots of game meats, tar, herbal bitters, cough medicines, embrocations, leaf mulch and bitter cocoa. Some flint smoke and these wonderfully resinous flavours of precious hardwoods. Getting slightly jammy with red fruit preserves too. With water: now the peat comes through more clearly and with a very definite peppery edge. Black pepper, natural tar, ointments, vapour rubs, camphor, hessian and more smoked tea and dried herbs. Finish: long, tarry, deeply warming, peppery, lightly medical and with this lovely lingering gentle peatiness. Comments: Not sure there’s a dud amongst this whole series of Dragons if you ask me. Stunning old sherried Highland Park.
SGP: 563 - 92 points.

 

 

Good! I’m very happy with that wee session, sometimes nothing but truly excellent whiskies will do.

 

 

Virtual hugs to Mr Phil and to Mr KC.

 

 

 

 

October 9, 2020


Whiskyfun

Fettercairn or Old Fettercairn

It can happen that good folks ask me why I never try Fettercairn. Which is untrue, it’s just that you’ll find them under ‘Old Fettercairn’, which was the name everyone was using when this lousy old website had been built (around the year 1875, ha-ha).

Fettercairn 16 yo (46.4%, OB, 2020)

Fettercairn 16 yo (46.4%, OB, 2020) Four stars
A neat brand new 16 years old from Whyte & Mackay’s, ‘enhanced’ in sherry and Port casks. They usually do that well, we’re rather far from a ‘hey let’s see what would happen if we dumped some of our timid malt into <insert name of any wine here> casks like our competitors do’ approach. Colour: amber. Nose: totally Old Fettercairn at first, with some stone dust, first rainwater since three months, coal, pine bark and cones, really a lot of plasticine, and then indeed some bitter (ale), chocolate and walnuts, ginger, and touches of mustard. Extremely idiosyncratic, with a finishing that just wouldn’t have hidden one single iota of this Fettercairnness. Mouth: sure it is unusual, very dry, peppery, almost fizzy (stout), mustardy, both stewed and burnt and with loads of marmalade, then cloves and juniper. Cedarwood and cigars. Finish: medium, dry. Cooked sherry, walnuts, marmalade, pepper. Lovely earthiness in the aftertaste, perhaps a touch of soap too, bitters, turmeric. Comments: a malt like no other, and that’s what we like in Fettercairn when everything has been done with care and respect. I have to say the turmeric in the aftertaste is rather something. A cure? A crazy style that just everyone should try. Distinguished beginners, I believe this new 16 is a good opportunity.
SGP:372 - 85 points.

 

 

 

Fettercairn 22 yo (47%, OB, 2020)

Fettercairn 22 yo (47%, OB, 2020)
As it appears, this one’s all ex-bourbon barrel, without any finishing this time. We should be even closer to Fettercairns very eccentric profile…  Colour: straw. Nose: heavens! I don’t know if the palate will be in the same vein, but this is gorgeous, extraordinarily clean for Fettercairn, perfectly waxy and fermentary, with notes of lemons and oranges, custard (moderately), then soot and clay, and just a touch of leather and gravel. Parsnips and beets glazed with honey. A little buttercream and nougat. Pour me this blind and I say Ben Nevis (and add ‘perhaps’). Mouth: a little more unbalanced and harsh, on the other hand it’s clearly Fettercairn. Pepper, ginger and turmeric, smoothened up with honey and vanilla. And there is a little saffron! All that is connected to an obvious earthiness in the background. And to bitter oranges. Finish: long, very spicy and peppery. Citron liqueur too, but this earthy pepper is back in the aftertaste. Cocoa pods, torrefaction. Comments: I have to say we’ve had quite a few excellent Fettercairns within the recent months, looks like they’ve upped their game. As long as they’re keeping the whacky personality…
SGP:562 - 89 points.

 

 

 

Just a wee indie to be on the safe side…

Fettercairn 2008/2017 (58.4%, L’Esprit, cask #BB4624, 237 bottles)

Fettercairn 2008/2017 (58.4%, L’Esprit, cask #BB4624, 237 bottles) Two stars and a half
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: hot, on kirsch, cider apples, scoria, parsnips and beets (again), raw grass, roots, barks, soot… Well this isn’t easy, but I’m sure water will pacify this Scottish brute. With water: going towards barley, fresh pears, and quite bizarrely, Glenfiddich. Some paraffin. Mouth (neat): ultra-grassy, hyper-peppery, and seemingly lethal. Extremely hot and raw – but maybe for the hipflask if you like to go fishing at 6am… With water: gets a little bitter, very sooty, with rather a lot of rubber if not soap. Having said, that, we know that’s part of this distillate’s inherent style, so  it is not ‘a flaw’. It’s just a very unusual malt whisky. Finish: long, waxy and earthy. The aftertaste is a tad rubbery again. Comments: reminds me of a bulldog. They are not very pretty, but many just love them (with apologies to all bulldogs and their masters).
SGP:372 - 78 points.

Good, that’s enough.

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

 

October 8, 2020


Whiskyfun

America!

Can we still be friends, whatever happens in November? Great, let’s celebrate with quite a few American whiskies…

Distillery 291 (50%, OB, USA, bourbon, single barrel, +/-2019)

Distillery 291 (50%, OB, USA, bourbon, single barrel, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
These good folks are located in Colorado Springs, where they make this one-year-old maize-driven Colorado bourbon that’s got good scores in the, erm, well, former holy book. Colour: amber. Nose: spicy and bready, with good burnt caramel, touches of lavender and caraway, and cloves and regular caramel. Neat and pleasant, but only the palate will tell. Mouth: a feeling of rye, oak extracts, caramel, violet sweets, liquorice… There’s a little earth too. The barrel did a great job here, I suppose it had been well-treaded in the first place. Poppy and violet sweets. Finish: medium, sweet, with a good dose of oak spices. Caraway in abundance, also aniseed. Comments: very good but probably a little tiring, I mean because of this highly extractive profile. Still well above average and nicely crafty, but perhaps not quite worth 95 biblical points (tallyho, tallyho, red zone!)…
SGP:640 - 79 points.

Copperworks 3 yo ‘Batch 1’ (50.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, USA, 2020)

Copperworks 3 yo ‘Batch 1’ (50.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, USA, 2020) Three stars
This is single malt and we’re in Seattle this time. By the way, I like it a lot that that Boutique-y Company would now bottle whiskies from just anywhere on this green little planet. Still missing Outer-Mongolia though, but I’m sure that’ll come and we have the patience of a cat. Colour: gold. Nose: just the opposite. The one from Colorado was wham-bam, this one’s much more discreet and, shall we say, elegant and measured, with walnut and pecan cakes, honeycomb, many breads (as it should be), and tiny branche-y and earthy notes. With water: nice spicy wood, balsa and eucalyptus, then chestnut, with notes of buckwheat crepes. Now I doubt they have buckwheat crepes in the state of Washington… Mouth (neat): coffee and caraway, plus gingerbread and blood oranges. That’s a nice fresh combo, pleasantly different and even (almost) refreshing. Good liquorice and cold coffee. With water: good bready tastes, honey, coffee and various soft spices. Careful with water though, none works better. Finish: medium, spicy and cereally. Coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: this distillery too comes with +/-95 points from ‘somewhere’. All smallish operations have that today and I say no harm done, but frankly!? Their websites now look like the plastrons of a bunch of Soviet counter-admirals… Come on, more credibility please!
SGP:451 - 82 points.

Uncle Nearest 1856 (50%, OB, USA, premium whiskey, 2020)

Uncle Nearest 1856 (50%, OB, USA, premium whiskey, 2020) Two stars
We’re in Tennessee this time. Sure, the fact that it would say ‘premium’ on the label doesn’t feel too good, but the branding is nicely ‘far-west’ and I’m sure John Wayne wouldn’t reprove. Curious about the juice now…  Colour: deep gold. Nose: typical earthy grains and soft vanilla, just a touch of coconut, some café latte, and just this feeling of having nosed this many times already. Sourced juice? Pretty pleasant if a little undemanding. With water: geranium and tomato leaves, plywood and liquorice. Mouth: classic spicy and earthy breads and dried fruits (bananas), all in sync. Peanut butter, praline, nougat… I have to say I enjoy this palate rather better than the nose – for once! With water: do not add any, this much oak does not take water well. Mind you, this is not tea. Finish: medium, a tad gritty and oaky. Not extremely pleasant. Very drying aftertaste. Comments: fine but not totally earth-shattering. Lacks personality. I’ll have to try their Small Batch version; next year, perhaps.
SGP:461 - 76 points.

 

 

 

Buffalo Trace ‘Small Batch’ (45%, OB, for LMDW, USA, Kentucky straight bourbon, 2562 bottles, 2020)

Buffalo Trace ‘Small Batch’ (45%, OB, for LMDW, USA, Kentucky straight bourbon, 2562 bottles, 2020)
This one might lift this little session a little bit… LMDW usually had some lighter versions at 40%, but this one should talk to us… Colour: deep gold. Nose: bread and brioche, honeycomb, mead, gingerbread, notes of ripe bananas and even mangos, gorse, dandelions, mirabelle tarte, apricot jam, vanilla and triple-sec, whiffs of aniseed and menthol… What’s not to like? Mouth: simple and uncomplicated (pleonasm alert), a tad woody for European palates, perhaps, but otherwise perfectly fine, fruity and fresh, cake-y, pastry-like, with notes of coconut balls and apricot pie. Only the oak is a tad too much. No botherings… Finish: medium, caky, with some cinnamon. A little sour and peppery oak in the aftertaste. Comments: have I said that I thought this was a very fine – albeit oaky - bourbon?
SGP:561 - 82 points.

 

 

Weller 12 yo (45%, OB, for LMDW, USA, Kentucky straight bourbon whisky, 2020)

Weller 12 yo (45%, OB, for LMDW, USA, Kentucky straight bourbon whisky, 2020)
This is ‘the original wheated bourbon’, you understand. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a lovely floral and fruity arrival, on orange blossom and honeysuckle, then we have honeycomb and proper chardonnay. Our friendly mirabelles too, and touches of cough medicine, eucalyptus, and camphor. Perfect uncomplicated nose, well composed, a little commercial in the best sense of that word. Mouth: very good, simple, with good spices and fruits, and jams. Preserved apricots, cinnamon rolls, notes of pears, and perhaps even echoes of calvados. Or there, applejack. Finish: medium, a little oaky as always. A little sour wood and pepper. Comments: seriously good, if not very complex. But are most bourbons really complex? Do not shoot, me friend of you!
SGP:551 - 85 points.

 

 

 

Whistling Andy (50%, Hot Malt Taiwan, USA, straight bourbon whisky, cask #170005, +/-2020)

Whistling Andy (50%, Hot Malt Taiwan, USA, straight bourbon whisky, cask #170005, +/-2020) Four stars
We’re in Montana this time, but this bottling was done for Taiwan and I’m here sitting in Alsace, tasting this whisky. Such a small world! Colour: full gold. Nose: bread and oak, the nicest combo when we’re tackling a very young spirit. Bread dough, rye, maize bread, grist, baguettes and pumpernickels, all that. Only whiffs of praline and caramel (bordering Nutella). Fine fine fine. With water: more spices and spicy herbs, even more bread as well. A baker’s whisky. Mouth: the smart way. Breads and beers, funny scones, bizarre cakes, odd biscuits and unlikely pancakes, that’s the way. Stick with the raw materials, always! (if I may…) With water: careful, but when you add only one or two drops of H2O, you’ll find a nice cinnamony side. Alternatively, just drop water. Finish: long, dry, bready. Comments: there’s so much oak in most US whiskies that reducing is hard to handle. In general, just abstain. Very good bourbon, by the way.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Whistling Andy ‘Harvest Select’ (45%, Hot Malt Taiwan, USA, American whiskey, +/-2020)

Whistling Andy ‘Harvest Select’ (45%, Hot Malt Taiwan, USA, American whiskey, +/-2020) Four stars
We’re still in Montana (hey Frank Zappa) but this is a different mashbill, with 40% barley and 40% wheat. So obviously, this cannot be bourbon as bourbon has to contain a majority of corn/maize. Colour: gold. Nose: hey hey, Montana! Ale, fudge, caramel cream, stout, millionaire shortbread, gingerbread, pumpernickel, chestnut honey, garden peat, roasted pecans… Well I just love this, how bad is it, doctor? Mouth: pretty amazing. How old is this juice? The website says that they’re ‘rooted in legacy’, which is always scary (ah they have advertising agencies too in Montana!) but after all, only the result counts and the result is brilliant. Stout, spices, gingerbread, mole sauce, blue mountain coffee, sour wine sauces, oloroso (I’m positive there’s no oloroso in there), tobacco… This is so well done! Finish: long, spicy, stouty (?) and concentrated. Brown sauce. Dry and bitter aftertaste – no problems though. Comments: very well played. Very bold, perhaps not utterly well balanced, but truly characterful. Montana via Taiwan, you say?.
SGP:562 - 87 points.

Good, I believe we’ll do another American session tomorrow. In the meantime…

Blanton’s Gold Edition

Blanton’s Gold Edition (51.5%, OB, USA, Bourbon, +/-2019)
One of Buffalo Trace’s unusual bottlings. It is supposed to be ‘a favorite among discerning bourbon aficionados’, so not exactly us but we’ll keep an open mind. Colour: gold. Nose: softer, more timid, more on woods and nuts. Peanut butter in the front, some sour woods in the back. Notes of stewed pineapple. With water: wood. A Saturday afternoon at Ikea’s – what a nightmare indeed. Mouth (neat): a lot of oak on a shy and thin base spirit. Not for us indeed. With water: the Buffalo Trace ‘Small Batch’ was so much nicer! This is horrid, dry and drying, way too oaky. In other words, oak juice. Finish: no, unpleasant. Comments: Blanton’s single barrels are much nicer in my book, while this golden ticket is horrendously oaky. What a nightmare, I am definitely not a ‘discerning bourbon aficionado’. Sob, I’m a failure!
SGP:371 - 50 points (out of Christian charity).

See ya tomorrow. Unless the White House sends helicopters...

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

 

October 7, 2020


Whiskyfun

Port Ellen again on the tasting table

Because today is Saint Serge's Day - not that we really care, but with some whiskies excuses are sometimes needed...Sadly only two PEs today, but remember the breed has been declared nearly extinct by all whisky houses in about the year 2000. Okay, 2005. So it’s almost a miracle that we could taste around two hundred or two hundred-fifty new ones since back then (shameless wink).

 

 

 

Port Ellen 35 yo 1983/2020 (47.9%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind and Wave, cask #11535)

Port Ellen 35 yo 1983/2020 (47.9%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind and Wave, cask #11535)
A rather self-restrained new line by the good folks behind Atom Brands, and one of those increasingly rare 1983s. Remember they closed the distillery for good in the spring of 1983. What’s more, I’ve often noticed that the 1983s were bolder (and actually better) than the 1981s or 1982s, for reasons I just couldn’t explain. Different specs, perhaps? The swan’s song? A farewell with panache? Just a personal impression? Colour: white wine. Nose: goodness gracious, what a nose! A whirlwind of aromas, never jumbled, always clear and precise, and yet ever changing, as if Danny Boyle had been the head distiller at PE in 1983. Almond oil, crushed anchovies, fresh putty, pencil eraser, shampoo, mint liqueur, agave syrup (yah mezcal), kelp, tarry ropes, hessian, leather polish, new electronics (Huawei… oops!), carrots and turnips, seashells, hand cream, ointments and bandages, brake fluid, new tyres… Phew, we could go on and on and on. Mouth: smoked almond oil and artisanal limoncello, then ale and mead, then various sea elements that we just won’t list. This palate is rather less complex than the nose, but… will you please call the anti-maltoporn brigade before it’s too late? Finish: yep. Resins and a savoury side, with some umami. Or rather, as the first man to discover that fifth taste in the 19th century, Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, used to call it: osmazôme. Comments: we may start to use the descriptor ‘osmazôme’ more often. As for this little PE, well it’s just brilliant and reminds me of that Old Bothwell stock from the old days.
SGP:367 - 93 points.

 

 

 

Let’s go find a little sparring partner that we haven’t tried yet… rummage-rummage… Oops sadly no other 1983 in the boxes, so perhaps the nearest vintage, a 1982? Given that there aren’t any 1984s, naturally…

Port Ellen 33 yo 1982/2016 (55.6%, Douglas Laing,  Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 11210, 60 bottles)

Port Ellen 33 yo 1982/2016 (55.6%, Douglas Laing,  Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 11210, 60 bottles) Four stars and a half
Rather a micro-bottling, wondering if this cask hadn’t been shared amongst several very distinguished houses. Colour: light gold. Nose: extremely, and I mean extremely different indeed, this one’s much straighter, ‘young’, full of tincture of iodine and tar, rather in the style of the famed Rare Malts if you will. So rather less complex, but still epic, very briny and tarry, with some grapefruit skins and that sauvignony side that we always enjoy in straight peaters. Indeed this one’s straight. With water: seawater, oysters, and rather less tar than expected. One of the freshest and brightest old casks of PE I could try, I think. Mouth (neat): wham, as they say in paintings. Very dry at first, a little fatter and fruitier then, loaded with grapefruits and serious amounts of shoe polish, pepper, and just a very tarry, and pretty Port-Elleny peatiness. Licking ashtrays and all that… With water: awesome, still young, perhaps a wee tad simple (splitting hairs as usual), lemony, briny and smoky. I could have said Caol Ila, really. Almond oil and fresh marzipan. Finish: long, rather tight, with touches of glue and varnish. Nothing wrong with that, on the contrary, but the finish is probably not this baby’s best angle. Comments: well in the style of the 1982s indeed, although that’s not all that simple. Whisky is not wine (no kiddin’)
SGP:467 - 89 points.

(Merci François)

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

 

October 6, 2020


Whiskyfun

Balblair age vs. vintage

A lot of changes amongst the second-tier distilleries these days (talking about notoriety, not intrinsic quality), especially when those distilleries start with the letter ‘B’. I mean, Benriach, Benromach, and indeed, Balblair… What’s up?

Balblair 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2019)

Balblair 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2019) Four stars
For reasons that escape me I hadn’t tried the current version of the 18 yet. Remember they have kind of dropped their all-vintages policy and went with the pack, doing rather age statements. Indeed, like Glenrothes. It’s expensive, but who counts? Colour: gold. Nose: I find it rather less freshly fruity than other expressions, and rather without the trademark bananas and papayas. Having said that, I’m finding some awesome notes of herbal teas, of eucalyptus, balsa wood, patchouli, preserved apricots, and raisins and walnuts, which suggest a sherry influence. I find it pretty complex, if a little un-Balblair. Mouth: the fruits are back, this time with a lot of marmalade and chocolate (Jaffa cakes), apricots, raisins, blood oranges, a little tobacco… It tends to become a little leafy, with some greener herbal teas. Wee notes of sour wine. Finish: medium, balanced, going from oranges to black tea, coffee and nutmeg. Comments: some parts feel young (was it a finishing?) and others well matured. It’s a very, very fine drop but then again, it’s expensive (150€) and I’m rather missing the aerial fruity beauty of some earlier all-bourbon expressions.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Back to vintage statements, with this new, err, vintage version for LMDW that should have been introduced at WhiskyLive Paris…

 

 

 

Balblair 14 yo 2006/2020 (56.3%, OB, for LMDW, cask #77, 573 bottles)

Balblair 14 yo 2006/2020 (56.3%, OB, for LMDW, cask #77, 573 bottles)
Still the old livery this time! Colour: deep gold. Nose: a few whiffs of struck matches at first, but those do tend to go away, while leather and marmalade start to play first fiddles. Dried figs too, a little gunpowder remaining, walnut cake, cast iron (old Japanese teapot), rancio, a little saltpetre perhaps, old pile of coal in an old cellar… With water: gets really complex know, with old pu-erh tea, a box of cigars, some old-school orange liqueurs, fig wine, some old malmsey, humidor… and the expected walnut wine. A little tarmac too, that’s close to those struck matches in this context. Mouth (neat): extremely creamy, starting with quite a lot of ginger, old walnuts, white pepper and cocoa, getting then drier by the second, going towards fino rather than oloroso. Or is that amontillado? With water: very good, on mocha, cigars, chocolate, Seville oranges, liquorice, a touch of caraway and clove… Chocolate crunchers will love this one – and perhaps have it with chocolate indeed. I mean, proper chocolate. Finish: medium to long, always with this raw chocolate with notes of gunpowder, old orange cordial, high-end Germanic herbal liqueur (the ones they make with hundreds of different plants inside)… Comments: totally excellent, once you go past the initial gunpowder.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

 

 

 

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

 

October 5, 2020


Whiskyfun

A little purse of five young Caol Ila

Indeed we’ve had quite a few young Caol Ilas within the recent weeks, but the question is, can anyone have too many Caol Ilas? While I leave you pondering that seminal question, let me please proceed with this wee batch… (some very useful intro yet again, S.!)

Cola Ali 5 11 yo 2008/2020 (58%, Dramfool, finished in PX, 160 bottles)

Cola Ali 5 11 yo 2008/2020 (58%, Dramfool, finished in PX, 160 bottles) Three stars and a half
More exactly, this baby was finished in a First Fill PX hogshead. All right then. Colour: gold. Nose: no straight raisiny PX, rather some kind of smoked and burnt sponge cake, with some wasabi, lemon juice, and all the coastal shebang one would expect from Caol Ila. Balance seems to have been found. With water: metal polish, old toolbox… Mouth (neat): aggressive and brutal, with really a lot of wasabi and lemon juice at first, then wine gums (strawberry) and, this time, raisins in full swing. Big beast. With water: the bonbony sweetness stands out, some briny and lemony elements too. Finish: long, a little mustardy and candy-like at the same time. Not a common feat. Spicier aftertaste, pepper, juniper… Comments: a very unusual Caol Ila, more for fun that for posterity, I suppose. But don’t we all ned fun?
SGP:665 - 84 points.

More madness…

Caol Ila 7 yo 2012/2020 (58.9%, Signatory Vintage for Waldhaus am See St. Moritz, oloroso sherry butt finish, cask #4, 699 bottles)

Caol Ila 7 yo 2012/2020 (58.9%, Signatory Vintage for Waldhaus am See St. Moritz, oloroso sherry butt finish, cask #4, 699 bottles) Four stars
A finishing period that’s been 11-months long. A heavy concoction for our Swiss friends up-there-in-the-mountains, I’m sure… Colour: red amber. Nose: rich as a barbecued Mars bar dipped into coffee liqueur, I would say. In the background, mint drops, tarmac, liquorice extracts, stout, caraway oil and the fattest oyster there ever was. With water: nicer, better balanced, more Caol-Ila-ish, that is to say rather fresher and more coastal. Lovely black chocolate and espresso coffee. Cloves. Mouth (neat): could I have a spoon please? Extremely heavy and spicy, hugely extractive, ridden with pine resin, tar and liquorice, menthol, gingerbread and, well, yet another liquefied Mars bar. Big size. With water: ginger and leather coming out, cinchona, tonic water, cinnamon, bitter oranges… Now, nothing abnormal here. Finish: long, on bitters, Coca-Cola (not just the colour), chocolate, marmalade and coffee. A salty touch in the aftertaste. Comments: forgot to say, it’s very peaty too. Do they have a yeti in the Alps too? This is what it would drink.
SGP:567 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2020 (58.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #53.332, ‘Storm-tossed kelp on an Islay beach’, refill bourbon hogshead, 308 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2020 (58.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #53.332, ‘Storm-tossed kelp on an Islay beach’, refill bourbon hogshead, 308 bottles) Four stars
It seems that they were sober in Leith when they came up with this name - this time. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this one’s totally pure, that is to say full of seawater, lime juice, mercurochrome, oysters, crabs, and kelp indeed. With water: hessian, seashells, kippers, whelks, langoustines, squat lobsters, clams, winkles… (I think they got the drift, S.) Mouth (neat): quintessentially Caol Ila, just a tad hot and sugary, but I’m sure that’s the very high strength. With water: indeed. Classic, pristine Caol Ila al natural, with salt, lemon, smoke and stuff from the sea. Finish: same. Medium length. Comments: exactly the opposite of the Waldhaus, but I love them just the same.
SGP:456 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2011/2020 (58.5%, C. Dully Selection, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #101, 262 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2011/2020 (58.5%, C. Dully Selection, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #101, 262 bottles) Four stars
This should be neat and tidy too. Colour: white wine. Nose: yes for iodine and kelp, lemon juice, seawater and just a large plate of oysters. In a way, it’s basic, but that’s exactly what one would expect from a young Caol Ila. With water: superb seaweed, wakame, more oysters yet, a touch of hay and even manure, then a wee hint of white chocolate and vanilla… Mouth (neat): I don’t think I’m using the expression ‘self-evident’ too often, but I believe it would fit here. Once again, some sugary or rather liqueury touches from the high ethanol, which should now go away… With water: indeed. Another simple, ultra-clean and ‘millimetric’ beauty from the Sound of Islay. Finish: rather long and rather more lemony. I know they grow lemons near Ullapool, do they do that on Islay too? I mean, not at the Co-op in Bowmore… The aftertaste is a little bitterer. Comments: same entrancing high brightness.
SGP:456 - 87 points.

As the digestif now, perhaps a much older bottle from what was, in truth, a different distillery?

Caol Ila 12 yo (43%, OB, for Zenith Italy, yellow label, early 1980s)

Caol Ila 12 yo (43%, OB, for Zenith Italy, yellow label, early 1980s) Five stars
Bizarrely, this one’s been flipping through my fingers for decades. This is pre-rebuilding Cao Ila, probably distilled in the late 1960s. It’s the 12 that followed the ‘oval white label’ from the early-to-mid 1970s. Or, you’re right, the ‘white oval label’. Colour: white wine. Nose: extremely more medicinal than ‘newer’ Caol Ila, with litres of mercurochrome and seawater as well as a more moderate tarriness,  then rather fresh green fruits, granny smith, greengages… Bandages and embrocations are getting pretty obvious too. Whiffs of dry chenin blanc. Mouth: superb albeit a little light(ish) but that’s the low strength and all the time spent in glass. Salted lemon juice, kiwi juice, camphor and eucalyptus (they almost always come as a pair in my book), some tar rather than ashes, a note of sage perhaps, antiseptic…  Finish: medium, really much on iodine. A curious touch of smoked pears in the aftertaste. Smoked tea flavoured with bits of dried pear – does anybody make that, by any chance? Comments: perhaps could we say that pre-rebuilding Caol Ila was more medicinal, whilst post-rebuilding Caol Ila is rather more ‘coastal’? Mercurochrome versus seawater?
SGP:455 - 90 points.

Last minute bonus, this one's brand new...

Caol Ila 35 yo ‘Director’s Special’ (50.9%, Single Malts of Scotland, Elixir Distillers, 2020)

Caol Ila 35 yo ‘Director’s Special’ (50.9%, Single Malts of Scotland, Elixir Distillers, 2020) Five stars
Picture of an earlier bottling of Caol Ila in the same prestigious series, as this one is brand new and I haven’t seen a picture yet. In theory, this should be a 1984, but that’s only a theory. Colour: light gold. Nose: aren’t these vintages eternal? When trying them you could easily believe that they could go to 100 years old effortlessly, really. The glory of good, well-behaved refill wood! As for what’s in there, well I would mention putty (as always), bergamots and kumquats, soft brown liquorice, a little camphor, a few drops from a very old bottle of Bénédictine, and then, which is just amazing at 35, ‘a walk on the beach at low tide’. Kelp, wet sand, seashells and all that. Even little green crabs. Or there, razor shells and cockles (oh agreed, just any shells). Wow. With water: lovely notes of fresh oil paint, linseed oil, more putty, leather cream… Mouth: oh my is it tight and compact! Citrons, sesame oil, brine, a putty-like almondiness, lemongrass, touches of coriander leaf… Indeed, 100 yo in shy wood, and easily, no problems. With water: fab-tas-tic. A little sweeter (crystallised grapefruit), with a few ashes, more almond paste, rapeseed oil, pips… I’m even finding a little chlorophyl, I think. Finish: rather long and undoubtedly more coastal. Ashes, oysters, lemon juice, kippers, and yet more putty and marzipan. The aftertaste is incredibly fresh. Pink grapefruits. Comments: what a journey. Marvellous ‘old’ Caol Ila that does not taste old at all. And the citrus!
SGP:655 - 92 points.

(Merci François, Mike and Pierre-Alexandre)

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

 

October 4, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

 

More rums from the Festival des Nouveautés

 

 

I think the selection this year is particularly heavy, in the best sense of that word. No lightish caramel juice to be spotted, unless I haven’t been paying enough attention. For example…

 

 

Vieux Sajous 4 yo ‘First Release’ (50.6%, OB, for LMDW, Haiti, 2316 bottles, 2020)

Vieux Sajous 4 yo ‘First Release’ (50.6%, OB, for LMDW, Haiti, 2316 bottles, 2020)
This ‘vieux’ clairin  is technically well rum and has been matured in a dozen casks such as ex-Benriach or ex-Caroni. So this one too is pretty ‘meta’ or ‘cross’, but I doubt Benriach had much impact on it, unless that was peated Benriach. Let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: more linseed oil and picture varnish that at any painter’s, really. Goes then towards almonds, both bitter ones and regulars, then the much expected olives and benzine, and finally some softer, vanilla-driven notes, with touches of camphor and menthol. Feels older than 4! With water: we’re off to Jamaica! Plastics, petrol, tar, olives, camphor, goat head soup (not too sure about that one, but cheers to The Stones!…) Mouth (neat): very salty, brine-y, full of liquorice, earth, parsnips, petrol and olive oil, and of course sugarcane. It’s pretty rich, with very good clean power, while retaining some of the clairins’ much appreciated ‘soft dirtiness’. With water: goes on and on like that, with added citrus and star fruit. Finish: a notch less heavy, but still very salty. Notes of graphite oil, fusain… We’re at a painter’s indeed. Plastics are back in the aftertaste – typical! Comments: I would tend to enjoy the best white ones even better, but I just love this very characterful style. Basquiat (and the Rolling Stones) in a bottle.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

 

 

Caroni 22 yo 1998/2020 ‘Balas Bhaggan’ (68.4%, Velier for LMDW, Trinidad, 1158 bottles)

Caroni 22 yo 1998/2020 ‘Balas Bhaggan’ (68.4%, Velier for LMDW, Trinidad, 1158 bottles)
This one’s in the 4th ‘employee’ series, and once again, given the strength here, looks like they’re trying to kill us all - but we will not let it happen. Plus, it is heavy Caroni. Colour: deep gold. Nose: old dirt, old furniture, black earth, cigars, fermenting kombucha, a lot of tar and a lot of liquorice, and perhaps a little mango chutney, but not too sure about that with this quasi-lethal strength. With water: humidor and balsa wood, all model glue you’d need to make a wee plane out of it, and something reminiscent of some roughish Turkish fig arrak. Mouth (neat): five rounds against Mike Tyson or something like that. And you feel it won’t do any good to your throat either, so consequently… With water: it’s sweeter and rounder than the Sajous, but both share some similar flavours too. Petrol, earth and plastics plus well-overripe pineapples and bananas. Finish: very long, with our friends the olives coming to the rescue. Earthy and cane-y aftertaste. Comments: rather rustic, as many Caronis are or were in my book, but that’s also what we like in Caroni. Excellent.
SGP:463 - 88 points.

 

 

Caroni 22 yo 1998/2020 ‘Dayanand Yunkoo Ballon’ (68.4%, Velier for LMDW, Trinidad, 1180 bottles)

Caroni 22 yo 1998/2020 ‘Dayanand Yunkoo Ballon’ (68.4%, Velier for LMDW, Trinidad, 1180 bottles)
Cool, another readymade Molotov cocktail! It’s a blend of six casks, with the angel’s (well, the demon’s) share reaching 80% altogether. Indeed, same strength, that’s not a typo. Colour: golden amber. Nose: I find it rather rounder and softer than its brother, perhaps a little more on banana cake and cognac, and less on petroly elements. But only water will really tell… With water: not really, nail polish remover, olive oil, engine oil, tarmac, wine vinegar, rotting fruits… Mouth (neat): ouch! Officer, I have the names of the culprits! Extremely strong, varnishy, acetone-y, ethanoly, and just wacko-wacko. Not the kind of bottle to bring on a plane I suppose, but would anyone let you do that? With (a lot of) water: more pepper, some lemon too, cough medicine, lip balm... It got pretty medicinal, and some spicy olive oil is never far away. Now both bottlings really converge at this point. Finish: extremely long, spicy and medicinal at first, then more on barbecued fruits (pineapples) and Russian black tea. Comments: I think I liked this one a tad better today, but they’re very close as far as quality’s concerned and the outcome could be the other way ‘round right next week.
SGP:563 - 89 points.

 

 

What could climb over some heavy Caroni? You say Hampden?..

 

 

Hampden 9 yo 2011/2020 ‘LFCH’ (60.3%, OB for LMDW, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #296, 250 bottles)

Hampden 9 yo 2011/2020 ‘LFCH’ (60.3%, OB for LMDW, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #296, 250 bottles)
There’s a lovely bird that’s probably featherlight on the label for this most heaviest rum, although I believe this mark would rather suggest this is some low-ester Hampden, let’s see… (it seems that only OWH is lighter than LFCH) Colour: gold. Nose: well, this is still rather petroly/estery/phenolic to me, but indeed, after a few notes of oil and tar, we would rather be going towards stewed vegetables, a little metal (iron), and flowers such as wisteria and jasmine. With water: yeah well, whichever the mark, Hampden is Hampden. Notes of old books, ink, tar, rhubarb jam, cracked pine needles… Mouth (neat): pretty balanced but certainly not light. As if someone would have smoked citrons and thrown ashes into some cane juice. Add cinnamon and a little brown sugar (crikey, The Stones yet again!) With water: salt, lemon, ashes, tar, olive oil and an agave-y side. Notes of fermentation for sure, ale… Finish: long and really fresh, with various kinds of lemons. I’m wondering if you couldn’t make a kind of rum Margarita out of this – but I seldom drink or do cocktails, so I could tell. The aftertaste is a little drying and bitter/sour, perhaps. Big chillies too in the end, Tabasco. Comments: lighter and, above all, cleaner and straighter than the Caronis. Quality’s just as high in my book.
SGP:552 - 89 points.

 

 

Hampden 8 yo 20112/2020 ‘OWH’ (61.7%, OB for Whisky Live Paris 2020, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #667, 250 bottles)

Hampden 8 yo 2012/2020 ‘OWH’ (61.7%, OB for Whisky Live Paris 2020, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #667, 250 bottles)
Here it is, I believe the lightest mark at Hampden’s (40-80 g. esters/hlpa). Mind you the highest, DOK, shelters 1500g or more, as it appears. So no automatic toothpaste this time… Colour: gold. Nose: I hope you’ll forgive this truism, Hampden remains Hampden. Awesome natural rubber, pencil eraser, acacia gum, then indeed, some braised apricots and papayas, that’s not very common. Probably some cashew and pecans too. I find this pretty complex, if not as wham-bam in-your-face as most other Hampdens. Awesome! With water: yes yes yes, pine needles, fern and moss, tiger balm, eucalyptus… Mouth (neat): low-esters? No way, this is clearly estery indeed, even pretty smoky, with a feeling of chewing a candle (rather paraffin) and quaffing retsina, that Greek wine that harbours resin – our Greek friends confirmed there were great un-touristy bottles to be found here and there. But this Hampden is strong, so… With water: we’re going towards bone-dry and flinty white wine. And lime and bamboo shoots. Finish: long, perfect, rather refined and driven by high-class lemons and a little green pepper. A funny touch of HP-y heather honey in the aftertaste. Comments: they were all superb, but this is our winner today. Do you know why? Because it’s also moreish and almost refreshing. Well, I’m exaggerating a wee bit now.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

 

 

 

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

 

October 3, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
A mixed bag of pairs
Things are extremely busy and more than a little hectic here at Whiskyfun’s Edinburgh HQ. So just a few pairs this week, let’s see what we have sitting to hand. Why not this as a solo aperitif…

 

John Jameson 10 yo (no ABV, OB,  )

John Jameson 10 yo (no ABV, OB, circa 1920s)
Colour: gold. Nose: super old school! Full of metal polish and funny old liqueurs and ointments. Like nosing an episode of Peaky Blinders! Becomes rapidly extremely herbal, on herbal toothpaste, bouillon, cough medicines, mothballs and eucalyptus resin. Fir wood, hardwood resins, linseed oil and pot pourri. An ancient and long lost style. Mouth: ah, a shame, it’s kind of fallen apart. Even more so than the nose would suggest. There is some glimmers of herbal resins and even touches of medical smoke. But this is pretty much oxidised sadly. Finish: brief and very thin, a little sour wood residue. Comments: The nose was still showing and impressive amount of character and, had this bottle travelled a little better over the decades, I’d say it would be a fascinating and pretty good dram. As things stand, this is a pretty instructive lesson in the order in which a whisky dies.
No score.

 

 

I’m often rather brutal about Macallan, but I think it’s good to remind ourselves that their reputation was built upon some pretty serious whisky from time to time. It’s been a while since I tried any classic era Macallan, so let’s have some in the form of a couple of old minis. Just about the only affordable ‘format’ old Macallan is to be found in these days.

 

 

Macallan 10 yo (40%, OB, mini, early 1990s)

Macallan 10 yo (40%, OB, mini, early 1990s)
Colour: amber. Nose: well, exactly. Just a superb and elegant old school, leafy and raisiny sherry. Almonds, sultanas, wee glimmers of chocolate, soft earth, mint tea and hints of leather. Simple, easy but extremely refined. Mouth: excellent weight for 40%. Robustly earthy and more focussed of damp tobacco, leather, stewed dark fruits and bitter chocolate than the lighter nose suggested. Rather a punchy and more assertive sherry profile here. Some notes of espresso, rancio and bitter herbs. Finish: good length, wonderfully leathery, drying, plenty tobacco, bitter chocolate, perfectly bitter herbal notes, treacle, dried mint and miso. Comments: Little wonder people got themselves in a lather about these bottlings. Just superb, effortlessly quaffable sherried malt whisky. One that managed to feel both bigger than its ABV and older that 10 years.
SGP: 561 - 88 points.

 

 

Macallan 10 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, mid-1970s)

Macallan 10 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, mid-1970s)
In my experience these 100 proof batches from G&M during this era when they still held the Macallan license could be quite variable. Colour: deep gold. Nose: what I just love here is that the natural distillate is really exposed without any obvious cloak of sherry. Instead you have this wonderfully plush, full and pulpy fruitiness. Ripe yellow and green fruits, mirabelle jam, damsons, pollens, beeswax and flower honeys. Also wee touches of mint, dried apple rings, golden sultanas and melon. With water: a king of oily and fatty cereal profile emerges - cereal eau de vie - with touches of caraway, linseed oil, vase water and lanolin. Mouth: superb and powerful arrival, all on aged mead, dried flowers, waxes, putty, high class olive oil, mineral oils, waxed canvass, lime cordial and many wee herbal and medical touches. Just wonderfully full and ‘fat’ distillate that feels fantastically textural and mouth-coating. With water: again this impression of ‘fatness’ and breadth of flavour. Full of subtle floral, waxy and honeyed notes. Still lightly medical, mentholated and showing more crystallised fruits now. Finish: long, superbly thick, honeyed, resinous, mentholated, jammy yellow fruits, pollens and herbs. Comments: Another, I would argue pretty lost, style of Macallan entirely. The natural aspects of the distillate here - primarily fruits, texture and power - are just spellbinding.
SGP: 662 - 93 points.

 

 

Some peat I think…

 

 

Ardmore 9 yo 2009/2019 (58.5%, The Whisky Exchange ‘Single Casks’, cask #707912, ex-Laphroaig barrel, 242 bottles)

Ardmore 9 yo 2009/2019 (58.5%, The Whisky Exchange ‘Single Casks’, cask #707912, ex-Laphroaig barrel, 242 bottles)
Seeing as Laphroaig and Ardmore are in the same stable and Laphroaig makes a big deal out of maturation in 1st fill barrels, it isn’t too surprising that its refills make their way to Ardmore. Nor that we are now seeing a fair few of the results finding their way to the indys. I think they are generally very good, but I also think that given the raw potency of Laphroaig, you could make an argument for this being a blended malt. Colour: white wine. Nose: sharply citric and slightly yeasty, like sourdough starter drizzled with lemon juice. Then some extremely fresh notes of wet fabrics, seawater and crushed seashells. Some gutsy medicines too. With water: pure, crisp, salty and with glimmers of cereals and carbolic wash acidity. Mouth: could be a light Laphroaig really. All sharp lemon juice, kiln smoke, tar and TCP, only later does there come some more classical Ardmore farmyard smokiness. Some tar, engine oil and dried seaweed. With water: a little softer and more complex with water. Fragrant smoke, beach sand, pebbles, ink and some scattered dry herbs. Still very drying, powerful and medical though. Finish: long, deeply smoky, ashy, mineral and very salty and medical. Comments: Given this blind and told it was Laphroaig I suspect I wouldn’t blink. An ideal whisky with which to kindle some impossible arguments. I find it very good, but still a little young and rough around the edges. These batches in a few years should start to be pretty great I think.
SGP: 366 - 84 points.

 

 

Ardmore 9 yo 2009/2018 (58.5%, The Single Cask, cask #1312, 217 bottles)

Ardmore 9 yo 2009/2018 (58.5%, The Single Cask, cask #1312, 217 bottles)
I would assume this is from another ex-Laphroaig barrel, but let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: perhaps not, this is much more focussed on that classical Ardmore farminess. Hay bails, cow sheds, horse sweat, pepped cured meats, hot mustard and notes of soot and herbal teas. A more gentle, industrial smokiness writhing underneath. With water: a little crisper and leaner in its smokiness, like frying bacon lardons, sootier, fatter and showing touches of tar. Mouth: smoked olive oil, boiled ham, seaweed flakes in hot ramen broth, smoked paprika, black olive bread and engine oil. Big, gutsy and rather powerful but definitely far more ‘Ardmore’. With water: very good, much more herbaceous, umami, saline, meaty and full of tar, embrocations, olive oil and spicy rye breads. Finish: long, brimming with leafy smokiness, natural tar, ointments, mercurochrome and black olive tapenade. Comments: I would love to know if this was also an ex-Laphroaig barrel. What’s for sure is that the distillery character is fully out and proud here, which is great. By comparison I really am left with the impression that these ex-Laph Ardmores are rather muddled and conflict-ridden whiskies in many ways - the Ardmore itself  seems rather lost in the crossfire. Anyway, this one was excellent.
SGP: 464 - 86 points.

 

 

Ledaig 26 yo 1993/2019 (45%, The Single Cask, cask #245, 94 bottles)

Ledaig 26 yo 1993/2019 (45%, The Single Cask, cask #245, 94 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: feels like one of these funny vintages where Ledaig and Tobermory become kind of indistinguishable from each other. Some gentle barley sweetness and malt extract with lactic sweetness like condensed milk, vapour rubs, lightly waxed parchments, menthol tobacco, lemon peel, gentle herbal infusions and umami broths. Mouth: hang on! An immediate and rather striking departure - a handbrake turn almost - towards overripe orange peel, cheng pi dried orange peel tea, kumquats, preserved lemons, pink grapefruit and some rather bitter notes of blood orange. Weird citrus all the way! More barley extract, white mushroom and herbal teas. There’s also the funny chemical touches which occasionally veer into bubblegum territory. In time it realigns a little more with the nose and there’s some nicely salty / savoury bread notes emerging. Finish: medium and very savoury, herbal, oily cereals, minerals, putty, white pepper, lime pith and various breads. Comments: Strange, funny, talkative and at times downright unusual whisky. But it’s never less than charmingly esoteric and eccentric, and certainly far from boring. Another one of these drams to pour blind for whisky friends.
SGP: 652 - 87 points.

 

 

Ledaig 24 yo 1995/2020 (46.4%, Whisky Nerds, cask #128, hogshead, 102 bottles)

Ledaig 24 yo 1995/2020 (46.4%, Whisky Nerds, cask #128, hogshead, 102 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: brighter, more immediately on cereals, breads and honeys and probably a bit more classical. A clear coastal note, white flowers, soft waxes, herbal teas with lemon peel and touches of wintergreen and bergamot. Elegantly fragrant in fact. Mouth: wonderfully juicy on arrival, white jellybeans and other pineapple sweeties. Fruit salad juices, miso, green fruits, banana and a wee hint of custard adding a sense of creaminess. Goes on with herbal teas, dried tarragon and white pepper. Finish: good length, savoury, lightly salty, dried flowers, herbal teas, pithy citrus peels and a tiny medical kiss in the aftertaste. Comments: Very impressive. Probably my favourite thus far out of all these 90s Ledaigs that have popped up recently.
SGP: 651 - 89 points.

 

 

A couple of 1989 Laphroaig and we’ll be done.

 

 

Laphroaig 17 yo 1989/2007 (50.3%, OB Feis Ile, 4000 bottles)

Laphroaig 17 yo 1989/2007 (50.3%, OB Feis Ile, 4000 bottles)
I have fond memories of quaffing this one with rather merry abandon during Feis 2007, but I never recorded proper notes for it. Time to make amends… Colour: gold. Nose: tar, seashore, coastal freshness, lemon rind, TCP and some very fragrant touches of grapefruit, Earl Grey tea and brine mixed with olive oil. With water: gets immediately younger and more vigorously coastal. Fresh Atlantic air, beach foam, sand and boiled langoustine. Mouth: here you feel the sweetness of the bourbon barrels rather more intensely with these notes of smoky, creamy vanilla, there’s also more natural tarriness, pine sap, seawater, soy sauce and camphor. Perfectly elegant and balanced with these wispy curls of pure peat smoke. With water: perfect! The wood sweetness steps back and we’re again getting this beautiful balance of fragrant, smoked teas, peat embers and pithy citrus peels. Finish: long, wood embers, iodine, smoked olive oil, cough medicine, salted liquorice and seaweed. Comments: At times there’s a tension between the sweetness of the cask and the ‘Laphroaigness’ of the distillate, however with a few drops of water the end result is harmony and beautiful distillery character.
SGP: 566 - 91 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 30 yo 1989/2019 (46.8%, The Whiskyfind, Mizunara oak finish, 1410 bottles)

Laphroaig 30 yo 1989/2019 (46.8%, The Whiskyfind, Mizunara oak finish, 1410 bottles)
I will admit to thinking that Mizunara is slightly overhyped as a ‘thing’. However, it may just be that I’m smelly Scottish philistine. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s taken on this wonderfully fragrant profile that mature Laphroaig from this era seems to possess. Sandalwood, dried herbs, lapsing souchong, crab sticks, mint tea, leather, miso, fir wood, dried seaweed, mineral oil and canvas. There’s a wonderful sense of umami, gentle coastal notes and various citrus peels. Mouth: richly tarry and with a lovely seam of soft, herbal peat smoke. Brine, olive oil, miso, soy sauce, more piney notes, preserved lemons and cough syrups. Finish: not the longest but superbly resinous, tarry, peppery, herbal and nicely saline. Comments: Rather simple and elegant in its construction, but everything is in its place and there’s no sense that whatever has gone on with the Mizunara has been anything other than very sensitively handled.
SGP: 655 - 90 points.

 

 

Thanks to Phil H and to Phil T.

 

 

 

 

October 2, 2020


Whiskyfun

Youngsters special,
Ardnamurchan and Daftmill

Does this make any sense? Probably not, what’s more both distilleries are absolutely not neighbours, mind you you’ll need around four hours and a half to drive from the East (Daftmill) to the West (Ardnamurchan), while latitudes are rather similar. And I’m not taking the stops at the pubs into account.

Ardnamurchan 2019/AD Release No. 4 (57.4%, OB)

Ardnamurchan 2019/AD Release No. 4 (57.4%, OB) Three stars and a half
Sadly not whisky yet, but this should be close. Angus had already tried a proper whisky from theirs and liked it a lot, but we’re on the continent here and Scots are Scots. Colour: gold. Nose: panettone anybody? Shortbread? Butterscotch? Pumpernickel? In fact, many ‘new’ drops are similar, they’ve all learnt how to use active wood and met with dear Dr Swan. And frankly, that’s good news, it’s just that many new cats are pretty, yeah, similar. Unless they play it dirty and re-rack in Laphroaig, or Caol Ila, or whatever, which is just cheating, is it not. No such practices at Ardnamurchan, I’m sure. With water: same. Gingerbread. Mouth (neat): creamy, rich, starting rather spicy (ginger and nutmeg from the wood), getting then a tad sappy/resinous, and rather going on with smoky marmalade and cakes. It’s very good. With water: citrus up, ginger too. The oak feels a wee bit. Finish: long, very nicely lemony now. Lemon, peppermint, ginger, cinnamon. Smokier aftertaste. Comments: modern, worldly, and pretty impressive. I just hope, sincerely, that all these new distilleries all around the world will not make excellent whiskies… that are all the same. What’s more, we should watch deforestation.
SGP:553 - 84 points.

And so let’s try that new Daftmill that should have been introduced at Whisky Live Paris 2020…

 

 

 

Daftmill 11 yo 2009/2020 (60.6%, OB for LMDW, sherry butt, cask #28, 630 bottles)

Daftmill 11 yo 2009/2020 (60.6%, OB for LMDW, sherry butt, cask #28, 630 bottles)
We’ve tried many more ex-bourbon Daftmills until now, but there was a 2006 ex-sherry for Berry Bros. that had been stupendous last year. Colour: deep gold. Nose: have I already written that Daftmill was of ‘grand cru’ quality in my book? Not unlike these garage wines in Pomerol that command higher prices than Pétrus or Lafleur? In fact, this nose is rather exceptional, without any of the heaviness or clumsiness that could be seen elsewhere in such a situation, and just a fantastic and very precise papaya/mango combination that no one can resist. Pink grapefruits too, and not too many raisins and walnuts. Luminous. With water: touches of tobacco and fig leaves. The grapefruits keep Hendrixing. Mouth (neat): high-precision citrus and other tropical fruits, coated with just a dollop of heather honey. Amen. With water: tiny bits of putty, saps, resins, chewing-gum, sweeter oils, waxes… Exactly what a great malty make would display. Exceptional drop and something, if I may, that’s reminiscent of some old sherried Rosebanks that D.L. used to have around Y2K. Finish: long, superb, slightly waxy and resinous, otherwise on the brightest citrus, bergamots, kumquats, grapefruits… Comments: I’m just totally impressed. Oh and no silly finishings and no silly labels, it is all about whisky at Daftmill’s (and BBR’s). Soooo smart…
SGP:651 - 92 points.

 

 

 

Last minute bonus! Several new Ardnamurchans just in, including their very first official single malt whisky, which we’ll have riiiiight away, naturally.

Ardnamurchan AD/09.20:01 (46.8%, OB, 15,950 bottles, 2020)

Ardnamurchan AD/09.20:01 (46.8%, OB, 15,950 bottles, 2020) Four stars
So their inaugural genuine malt whisky, always a moving moment. It seems that this is a five years old, so not just a three-years-old-and-one-day boosted in STR or PX (or Laphroaig), and that it’s a blend of the distillery’s peated and un-peated makes, matured in 2/3 ex-bourbon and 1/3 ex-sherry wood. Now that we know everything, let’s proceed… Colour: light gold. Nose: I rather like this feeling of ‘single-blended malt’, with its freshness, the wee farmy side from the peat, the notes of stewed rhubarb with a little juniper, these touches of aquavit and then these maritime aromas, as well as this rather unexpected oriental side,  between incense and orange blossom water. Almost forgot to mention mirabelle eau-de-vie (but we still make the best in Alsace, haha…) Mouth: clearly ‘a peater’, as as always, the peaty party is having the upper hand. There are hints of strawberry yoghurt, not unseen in fresh peaters, a combination of aromatic herbs (thyme, tarragon) and some kind of spicy mead perhaps. Touches of caraway and sweeter wholegrain bread, gingerbread, speculoos... All that with a solid, rather creamy texture. Finish: pretty long, rather on a spicy/honeyed smokiness. Did anybody ever try to smoke gingerbread? The aftertaste is more on a classic citron/brine/smoke combo. Comments: this impressive young baby improves a lot with oxygen. Let them breathe! Can't wait to try these when the
m too are eleven.
SGP:655 - 86 points.
 

October 1, 2020


Whiskyfun

Balvenie with a The

So only officials today. Sure we have a proper load of Burnsides in the reserve, but those will be tackled later.

Balvenie 12 yo ‘The Sweet Toast Of American Oak’ (43%, OB, +/-2019)

Balvenie 12 yo ‘The Sweet Toast Of American Oak’ (43%, OB, +/-2019) Three stars
These are bourbon barrels that are ueber-toasted once they’ve arrived in Bonnie Scotland. Hope Washington won’t take umbrage. Colour: gold. Nose: typical Balvenie profile in my book, with a large mirabelle tarte covered with custard, as well as preserved apricots, as well as some rather light acacia honey, as well as a little nougat or turon. Also whiffs of sweeter beer, why not pale ale? The nougat side would never stop growing. Mouth: a little oak-froward at first, less ‘smooth’ and fruity than other Balvenies, becoming grassy and indeed, oaky. We’re talking sawdust, fresh oak. Did they shave the casks too? In the end, its rather a bitterer version of B. Finish: medium, grassy, some parts remind me of some beers aged in oak. Can’t remember the name, I know more about pineapple pizzas than I know my beers. Quite. Comments: a very fine drop, but I’m not sure this Nigel-Tufnelesque oaky side is exactly for me.
SGP:461 - 81 points.

 

 

 

Balvenie 21 yo ‘Single Barrel’ (47.8%, OB, cask #5883, 300 bottles)

Balvenie 21 yo ‘Single Barrel’ (47.8%, OB, cask #5883, 300 bottles)
It says ‘traditional oak’, so I suppose that’s a refill American oak hogshead. And we are absolutely not against that. Colour: light gold. Nose: a lot of putty, some nail polish, then some green tea, wheelbarrows of almonds and marzipan, while it would then gear towards the more traditional mirabelles and apricots that I always enjoy in Balvenie. There’s a touch of mint too, perhaps wild carrots… All that before it would turn to buttered popcorn. Mouth: big bodied, with some peppery touches upfront, the usual mirabelles again (but as jam), a pinch of grated coconut, then really green barley that you would have stolen from a field (boo). It’s still got youth and a lovely firmness, we’re not quite in post-prandial territories yet. Finish: long as a Frank Zappa solo, and even improving, I’m even finding a salty touch. Salt in Balvenie? More popcorn too, it’s true that caramelised and salted popcorn is a slaughter, as we say. Never buy very large bags of that and sit in front of Netflix. Comments: still kind of young, and just excellent.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

 

 

Balvenie ‘Tun 1509’ (52.4%, OB, Batch #7, 2020)

Balvenie ‘Tun 1509’ (52.4%, OB, Batch #7, 2020)
I believe they’re doing one batch of this tun a year. Colour: gold. Nose: I suppose there’s some sherry inside this time, not too sure, I’ve haven’t seen the sacred list. Burnt raisins, panettone, fudge and toffee, café latte, perhaps a spoonful of fig jam and one of peanut butter… With water: herbal teas, menthol and pine needles – on top of all the rest. Mouth (neat): lovely, it’s got the sexy roughness that we’ve always enjoyed in some other well-known NAS (a.k.a. pretty young) Speysiders from the olden times, with a good dose of chocolate, coffee, roasted peanuts, raisins, toffee and allspice. Classic no-fuss rich and convincing whisky. With water: the spices further come out, but the whole remains rather rounded and even a little easy, in a good way. Gingerbread and Stolle. Finish: long and even spicier, I mean more on spice cake. No, not space cake, spice cake. Comments: 70% sherry and 40% bourbon? Maybe, I have no proper clue at hand. And yes we’re the best at math.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

 

 

 

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

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

September 2020

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Aberlour 18 yo 2002/2020 (62.4%, OB, cask #2575, 263 bottles) - WF92

Longmorn 36 yo 1975/2011 (50.6%, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 163 bottles)- WF91

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
None (I'm afraid)

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Neisson 2014/2020 ‘V.S.O.P.’ (44%, OB, LMDW, Martinique, agricole, 900 bottles) - WF92

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Bladnoch 17 yo ‘Californian Red Wine Finish’ (46.7%, OB, +/-2018)  - WF65


Previous entries (archived)

 

 

 

 
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