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Tasting notes:
Whiskies 10,258
Others 649

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (32) - Aberlour (79)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (25)
An Cnoc (18)
Ardbeg (324) - Ardmore (60)
Arran (66) - Auchentoshan (69)
Auchroisk (26) - Aultmore (29)

Balblair (61) - Balmenach (31)
Balvenie (
73) - Banff (43)
Ben Nevis (
85)
Ben Wyvis (
2)
Benriach (
126) - Benrinnes (43)
Benromach (
39) - Bladnoch (54)
Blair Athol (40) - Bowmore (
364)
Braes of Glenlivet (
28)
Brora (
115)
Bruichladdich (20
8)
Bunnahabhain (
219)
Caol Ila (400)
Caperdonich (
73)
Cardhu (
31) - Clynelish (276)
Coleburn (
15)
Convalmore (1
8)
Cragganmore (
55)
Craigduff (3) - Craigellachie (
40)
Dailuaine (47) - Dallas Dhu (32)
Dalmore (85) - Dalwhinnie (19)
Deanston (22) - Dufftown (41)

Edradour (37)
Imperial (56) - Inchgower (44)
Inverleven (18)
Isle of Jura (82)

Kilchoman (19) - Kinclaith (7)
Kininvie
(3)
- Knockando (2
4)
Ladyburn (9) - Lagavulin (95)
Laphroaig (300) - Ledaig (73)
Linkwood (105) - Littlemill (79)
Loch Lomond (26)
Lochside (62)
Longmorn (172) - Longrow (52)

Macallan (228) - Macduff (51)
Mannochmore (2
5)
Millburn (1
9)
Miltonduff (
52) - Mortlach (111)
Mosstowie (1
7)
Scapa (34) - Speyburn (22) - Speyside (15)
Springbank (222)
St-Magdalene (43)
Strathisla (80) - Strathmill (24)

Talisker (105) - Tamdhu (45)
Tamnavulin (14)
Teaninich (40)
Tobermory (28) - Tomatin (98)
Tomintoul (55) - Tormore (33)
Tullibardine (35)

 
 
Pete and Jack


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No archives for 2002-2003

 
Malt maniacs goodies
 

Othe whisky stuff
 

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The Magical History
of the Great
Brora Distillery
1969 - 1983

   


 

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Disclaimer
 

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

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,
Nick Morgan,
Kate Kavanagh

2002-2014


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December 21, 2014


Whiskyfun

Xmas

Malternatives on Sunday,
great cognac for Christmas time

It used to be a tradition in France, people would have presented friends and family with bottles of cognac for Christmas, usually from just any brand, bought in just any shop. It's true that a famous French humorist, Pierre Desproges, used to say in the 1970s that "whisky is the idiot's cognac".  Anyway, more boisé and caramel would have changed hands on Christmas day than in the rest of the year, but now that the smaller houses and the real ‘propriétaires’ are really up again, things are changing and people start to discover how great true cognac can be. So let’s not depart from traditions, let’s have a few cognacs! I have to confess I’ve done a bit of pre-selection…

Ragnaud-Sabourin V.S 'Alliance No.4' VS (41%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2013)

Ragnaud-Sabourin V.S 'Alliance No.4' VS (41%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2013) Three stars and a half This should make for a good aperitif, as this family house is highly respected, and as V.S means very young. It’s 100% distilled from ugni blanc. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it is, indeed, a slightly grappa-ish cognac, in a very nice way, bursting with fresh fruits rather than oak-driven… stuff. I find chiefly ripe peaches and golden raisins, with touches of liquorice and marzipan in the aftertaste, as well as dandelions and other flowers from the fields. Very fresh and clean. Mouth: we’re really close to a good Speysider, just with a little more raisins and rather less malt of course, although there is a kind of maltiness. Slightly burnt cake, apricot tarte, a touch of caramel. It’s rather potent cognac in fact, it’s even slightly rough, which works very well. Finish: rather long, with a little honey, marshmallows and a few tannins in the grapier aftertaste. Comments: this baby’s got something of Dalwhinnie, perhaps. Up my alley. SGP:541 - 84 points.

Let’s have one by another very good house…

Daniel Bouju V.S.O.P (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2013)

Daniel Bouju V.S.O.P (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2013) Three stars and a half This is cognac de propriétaire, all from ugni blanc and integrally from Grande Champagne. Colour: red amber. Nose: this one is very fragrant, it’s got peonies, it’s got a little sandalwood, it’s got old roses… So it’s very floral globally, with also whiffs of pot-pourri, then rather blood oranges and, once again, very ripe peaches. High class. Mouth: it’s still got rough edges, as this baby isn’t old and, apparently, is all matured in new French oak, but I do find the very same flowery and very aromatic notes as in the nose. Rose syrup? Notes of liquorice allsorts, peach liqueur, then more spices but it’s never spicy as such. A little cinnamon and cumin. The liquorice wins in the end. Finish: long given the strength, with a rather imposing oak now. Heavily infused rosehip tea. Comments: lots happening in this little VSOP. It’s a notch less fresh than the Ragnaud-Sabourin, but a little more complex at the same time. Right, same score in my book. SGP:551 - 84 points.

Another VSOP please…

Tiffon

Tiffon 'VSOP' (40%, OB, +/-2013) Three stars Another famous little house, owned by the Braastad family that emigrated from Norway in the 19th century. They own the Braastad brand as well. Colour: amber. Nose: it’s very different from the Bouju, that is to say less aromatic, and much more on polished woods, herbs and nuts. So a drier style for sure, less emphatic, but maybe a notch more elegant. A little mint and a little earth, we’re closer to malt whisky again. In a way! Mouth: once again, the oak’s more apparent, which makes the whole spicier and slightly grittier. Black tea and tobacco, then more oak extracts, pinesap, mint lozenges, more liquorice… So an oakier style globally, but in no way I’d call this ‘too oaky’. Finish: quite long, rather leafy, with apple peelings and walnuts. Comments: high class once again, it’s just a wee bit less my style. We’ll have another, slightly older ;-) Tiffon in a few minutes… SGP:461 - 82 points.

Giboin 1974/2005/2014 (43.1%, OB for La Cagouille, Borderies, Réserve lot n° 1974-2)

Giboin 1974/2005/2014 (43.1%, OB for La Cagouille, Borderies, Réserve lot n° 1974-2) Four stars Serious stuff, this! The Giboin family are propriétaires in Cherves near Cognac, and they’ve bottled this baby for the rather ‘funny’ seafood restaurant la Cagouille in Paris, where you’ll find a very large cognac cellar (hint, hint). It’s been distilled in 1974, went into demijohns in 2005, and was bottled earlier this year. Colour: amber. Nose: classy older cognac, better rounded, more complex, more elegant. Thrilling notes of maraschino, pecan pie, pineapple flambéed, sultanas, limestone, dried apricots, then a little wormwood and verbena, a touch of fudge, liquorice… In short, a marvellous nose, both coherent and wide. Mouth: a little rougher than expected, with a wee feeling of armagnac, but it tends to come round after just thirty seconds, with wonderful notes of Turkish delights and rosewater, then rather jams and jellies. Such as peach jam again and again. The oak isn’t absent, but all is fine. One can understand why this was poured into demijohns a while back. Finish: rather long, spicier, a little mentholy. Grapy aftertaste, slightly sour, calvados-style. Comments: stunning nose and excellent palate despite the roughness, then a finish that was a little gritty for me. Great, great cognac nonetheless. SGP:561 - 86 points.

Now, we have to talk…

Cognac Briand 1893 (OB, Vieille Fine Champagne)

Cognac Briand 1893 (OB, Vieille Fine Champagne) Five stars A marvellous bottle, probably bottled around 1950, so already very old. I can’t seem to find any mention of some contemporary Cognac Briand, so I guess the brand doesn’t exist anymore, and the name’s probably more famous for its old sexy art deco ads that are being replicated ad nauseam these days. Colour: mahogany. Nose: first, its not tired at all, and second, it’s rather simpler than the previous ones, with more obvious raisiny notes. We’re even having notes of Muscat, go figure. After that, it does become more complex, with superb notes of old liqueurs, tarts and pies. Apricots, mirabelles, then a little caramel, perhaps, and wee touch of ham and parsley. Chicken bouillon? A drop of pinesap too, even a little tar… Oh forget about what I had written, this is complex old cognac. Mouth: the body’s impressive, there’s no weakness at all, no flabbiness, no excessive dryness, only high quality cognac. We’re rather on the piny/tarry side at first, but stewed fruits and herbal liqueurs are soon to kick in. Plus plenty of raisins of course. I even find a touch of salt, but cognac cellars are often very close to the Atlantic. There’s also a feeling of very old sweet wine. The body remained perfect, and the mouth feel is even quite fresh. Finish: long, with a little sourness, not unpleasant. The meaty/herbal side grew bigger and in the end, it’s almost like some Thai chicken bouillon. Comments: how could this baby survive like this? Two wars and many hundreds of thousands of thirsty invaders and liberators, I guess it’s been perfectly hidden somewhere. In he UK? SGP:661 - 90 points.

 

Briand

L'Esprit de Tiffon (40%, OB for Wealth Solutions, 150 decanters, 2014)

L'Esprit de Tiffon (40%, OB for Wealth Solutions, 150 decanters, 2014) Five stars This extremely old blend of cognacs comes from the owners’ private paradis. It is totally pre-phylloxeric, a significant part even coming from the very Napoleonic 1805 vintage. I find it extremely smart and kind that the distributors would have dispatched samples of this utter glory to a few journalists and bloggers, while the whole batch had already been sold upfront and no further publicity was needed. Thank you! Colour: rich amber. Nose: it is difficult not to think of Austerlitz (right, and Waterloo) when nosing this. It is very impressive spirit, with a totally amazing roundness and fullness, an immense freshness, and, dare I say, a flabbergasting youth. And yet you can feel that it’s been polished by time, you get whiffs of ‘the interior of an old Jag’, of some kind of old cordial, of some kind of posh English marmalade, of old humidors and other worthy old wooden boxes (but no wood as such!), of old tobacco blend, of mirabelle jam, of fresh kugelhopf – or is that panettone?, of raisins of course… This nose is a piece of art! And it remains plain and pure cognac, that’s the most important part, perhaps. Mouth: and yet there are notes of very old calvados in this. 1805 calvados? It’s not quite a mildly luscious, old, slightly tired cognac, it’s even kind of vigorous, there’s plenty of life, and beyond any intellectualisation, which is always a trap when you try legendary drinks, it really is ‘very good’. Raisins are playing first fiddles, which is normal, then there’s stewed peaches, then old liqueurs, then herbal teas, plenty of them. Finish: not too long, it’s becoming a little fragile perhaps, but it would leave your palate as clean as a baby’s. Don’t I find a little eucalyptus in the aftertaste? Comments: I do not think this beauty has spent a lot of time in wood, the components have probably been transferred to the paradis relatively early in their lives. Maybe after 30 to 40 years. That’s why, I guess, the whole remained so fresh. A very moving, and truly wonderful spirit. SGP:541 - 92 points.

(with mercis to Olivier, Patrick and Michal)

More tasting notes Check the index of the few cognacs I've tasted so far

 

 

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December 19, 2014


Whiskyfun

The Laphroaig Sessions,
Part Four and last

This isn’t Laphroaigfun.com, so this will be our last little Laphroaig session this year – but we’ll have many more next year, God willing. Let’s start this with a lighter strength…

Laphroaig 20 yo 1990/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #5941, 449 bottles)

Laphroaig 20 yo 1990/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #5941, 449 bottles) Four stars and a half In my wee experience, 1990 and 1991 were great ‘vintages’ at Laphroaig. Colour: straw. Nose: clean and yet complex, with delicate notes of ‘an oyster plate with lemon and seaweed’. Then even more iodine, antiseptic, brine, lime and a touch of white vinegar that works extremely well in this context. One drop of vanilla essence. Mouth: so good! Perfect strength, smoked fish, green apples, lemons, ashes, soot, brine… It’s a more complex style than that of late-1990s vintages such as the ones we tried yesterday and the days before. Love the coastal side. Fresh almonds. Finish: long, very clean, zesty, immaculate, perfect. Maybe a little sawdust in the aftertaste (loses one point, I’m afraid). Comments: oysters in a bottle. I love oysters. SGP:457 - 89 points.

Ten years forward…

Laphroaig 12 yo 2000/2013 (55.2%, Riegger's Selection, sherry finish, cask #4121, 174 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 2000/2013 (55.2%, Riegger's Selection, sherry finish, cask #4121, 174 bottles) Four stars Granted, this is a finishing, but maybe is it a light one? Colour: pale gold. Nose: yes, the finishing is very discreet, hurray. So we have a clean one again, rather fresh, with only three or four raisins playing around quite some seawater, liquid smoke, coal and kilned malt. It’s not a hugely coastal Laphroaig (didn’t they lose a small part of their DNA?) With water: more marzipan. Mouth (neat): very creamy, thick, pleasantly liqueury, on grapefruit liqueur, black pepper, ashes and straight green peat. Very grassy smoke combining quite well with the sherry’s sweet roundness. With water: more fresh grapefruits. Sherbet! Finish: medium length. Even more grapefruit, this is fun. Comments: a fresh young Laphroaig that’s sweetly citrusy. Would be perfect in summer on a little ice. SGP:546 - 85 points.

Laphroaig 1996/2012 (52.5%, Exclusive Malts for whisky.com.tw, Taiwan, refill hogshead, cask #7315, 199 bottles)

Laphroaig 1996/2012 (52.5%, Exclusive Malts for whisky.com.tw, Taiwan, refill hogshead, cask #7315, 199 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh clean pearish mildly smoky and globally very fruity for Laphroaig. Very easy, which is obviously a good thing! With water: more earth, just a little manure, hay… So it’s a little farmier. Mouth (neat): perfect, very ‘focused’, all on smoked papayas, guavas, grapefruits, marzipan… Quite a lot of salt as well. This is super-clean. With water: all very good. Salty peat, almonds, a few tropical fruits remaining. Some earth as well, which is even more perfect. Finish: long, clean, smoky and earthy. More gentian eau-de-vie in the aftertaste. Comments: that was quick, because that was all very excellent. Not much else to say, bravo! SGP:557 - 88 points.

Laphroaig 20 yo 1990/2010 (56.1%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon, 273 bottles)

Laphroaig 20 yo 1990/2010 (56.1%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon, 273 bottles) Five stars It seems that I forgot to try this baby when it came out. Is that blue gentian? Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s rather ashier and smokier than others, and maybe a little closed when unreduced. Garden bonfire? Cigar ashes? Lemon juice? With water: a little mercurochrome and tincture of iodine, bandages... In short, the trademark notes of hospital. Mouth (neat): oh my, this is perfect. Sharp lemony peat, Schweppes-Lemon, a little angelica, aromatic herbs, some mint… It’s a rieslingian Laphroaig, a blade, no, an axe! With water: ashes and lemon juice. Zing. Finish: long, ashy, smoky, blade-y, perfect. Salty aftertaste, very appropriate. Comments: it’s the purity that’s striking. Whistle-clean. SGP:468 - 91 points.

Good, I think we’re ready for our last Laphroaig this year. And this won’t be just any Laphroaig, mind you…

Laphroaig 28 yo 1967 (50%, Scotch Malt Sales, Japan, +/-1995)

Laphroaig 28 yo 1967 (50%, Scotch Malt Sales, Japan, +/-1995) Five stars One of the highlights of the Lindores Shrimp Croquette Festival in Oostende this year. These old bottlings for Japan are very rare, and very prestigious, despite (or because of?) some very unlikely wording on their labels. Such as, on this very one, “This whisky is casked malt served from the barrel directly to this bottle for carring.” Mpffff… Colour: gold. Nose: oh, no! Didn’t the bottlers add a few litres of Yquem from the same vintage to this? You know, Yquem 1967… I’m not joking, I’ve never found such wonderful notes of apricot jam, heather honey, beeswax and old roses in Laphroaig, never. Beyond that, touches of old cigars, clay, camphor, all sorts of unknown flagons in a long-closed pharmacy, and maybe whiffs of fir cone smoke. It’s all pretty delicate, and yet firm, and yet delicate, and yet firm, and yet… With (a few drops of) water: more of the very same. Brilliant. Mouth (neat): makes you yodel. Big, almost massive, very piny, resinous, sappy, it’s some kind of very old herbal liqueur that used to cure any disease. Even malt mania. Some kind of honeydew. With water: ah yes, greases and oils, more old liqueurs, many herbs, liquorice, some piny smokiness, the best oysters, mint drops, some sap… It’s all very… symphonic? Oh and would you mind calling the anti-maltoporn brigade before it’s really too late? Finish: it’s where it loses one or three points (not only because this is the end), it’s losing a bit of focus, perhaps, but it’s still quite extraordinary. Comments: pure magic, the work of time, both in wood and in glass. Philosophical whisky. SGP:575 - 95 points.

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

 

 

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December 18, 2014


Whiskyfun

The Laphroaig Sessions, Part Three

We’ll have more strong ones today, all by one single (and excellent) independent bottler.

Laphroaig 1996/2014 (56.2%, Malts of Scotland, Lindores Whisky Fest 2014, brandy hogshead, cask #MoS 14057, 180 bottles)

Laphroaig 1996/2014 (56.2%, Malts of Scotland, Lindores Whisky Fest 2014, brandy hogshead, cask #MoS 14057, 180 bottles) Four stars and a half A brandy hogshead, that’s rather unusual. Ex-cognac wood? Colour: white wine. Nose: there is, indeed, something slightly raisiny floating in the air, but other than that, it’s pure clean coastal Laphroaigness, with a lot of iodine, fresh oysters, and only a mild medicinal side. Not much oak, all for the better. With water: perfect! The camphor comes out, together with some mint, eucalyptus and hints of bicycle inner tube. Linoleum. Swims extremely well. Mouth (neat): it’s sweet youngish Laphroaig, an excellent distillate, full of rooty notes, some lemon, a clean smokiness, a little pepper and very few raisins. Perhaps. Very crisp. With water: it’s really sweet now, rounder, with some peach jam, for example. From the brandy wood? Finish: quite long, a little leafy, earthy… Creosote, cherry stem tea, leaves… Comments: this baby doesn’t behave the same way once diluted, nose (crisp) and palate (round) become really different. Fun stuff. SGP:567 - 88 points.

Another 1996…

Laphroaig 1996/2013 (56.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon, cask #13028, 213 bottles)

Laphroaig 1996/2013 (56.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon, cask #13028, 213 bottles) Four starsColour: white wine. Nose: really different and maybe a little butyric. Warm custard, crème au beurre, herbs, mud, seawater… I find this baby very intriguing I have to say. Damp earth… With water: oh, wet cardboard, raw wool, gravel, ink… Rain on Islay, I’d say. No big smoke. Mouth (neat): rather soft at first, but then there’s the expected peat blast. Wham! Lots of citrus as well, lemon, big pepper, a saltiness… A funny two-step arrival, and that would work every time you take another sip. With water: some lovely tropical fruits coming out. Pink grapefruits, perhaps. A little brine as well. Finish: good length, but it’s all relatively smooth after the funny arrival. The pink grapefruits are still there in the aftertaste. Comments: several Laphroaigs for the price of one! Quality remains high, as expected. SGP:547 - 87 points.

And another 1996…

Laphroaig 1996/2012 (56.1%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 12041, 240 bottles)

Laphroaig 1996/2012 (56.1%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 12041, 240 bottles) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: a smoky and dry one, reminiscent of the Shinanoya that we had yesterday. Gunpowder, fumes, leaves, tobacco, walnuts, engine oil, bacon, bitter chocolate… Need I say more? With water: ink, old books, more fumes, more bacon, liquid smoke, lamp oil, dried porcinis… All this is very dry and smoky, I can’t find any fruitiness. Wait, after a good fifteen minutes, some raisins and dates arise… Mouth (neat): something of an heavy Demerara rum at first sips, with also something slightly grapey, and then it’s an avalanche of pepper, cloves, bitter oranges, leather, tobacco, salted liquorice… With water: the dried fruits come out right at first sipping this time. Some kind of peppery and smoky raisins. Finish: long, miraculously balanced. Perfect smoky sherry. Comments: hard to beat if you like both sherry and peat. Ten more years and it would reach 92/93, no doubt about that. SGP:557 - 90 points.

Enough 1996, let’s have some potent 1998s…

Laphroaig 1998/2014 (55.9%, Malts of Scotland, for Whisky Messe Nürnberg, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 14002, 155 bottles)

Laphroaig 1998/2014 (55.9%, Malts of Scotland, for Whisky Messe Nürnberg, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 14002, 155 bottles) Four stars More sherry, more extravagance I guess. Colour: amber. Nose: a sweeter sherry this time, and a mild smoke – and a discreet Laphroaigness. A little leather plus plenty of figs, raisins, dates, then moss and damp earth, pine needles… A walk in the forest after the rain with a large pack of sultanas in your hands, I’d say. And a gun, as there is some gunpowder. Much more herbal liqueur after ten minutes, smoky chartreuse? With water: it’s the dry smoke, as well as roasted chestnuts and toasted bread that come out. Got drier this time. Mouth (neat): very creamy and very sweet, before more pepper comes in. Liquid honey, orange liqueur, sauternes… Was that PX? With water: a kind of sweet syrup that tends to dominate the distillate. And we all know that it’s not easy to dominate Laphroaig. Finish: quite long, still rather sweet, with an earthy background. A lot of chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: an unusual one. This baby plays with your senses! SGP:657 - 85 points.

A last one…

Laphroaig 16 yo 1998/2014 (58.2%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 14001, 224 bottles)

Laphroaig 16 yo 1998/2014 (58.2%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 14001, 224 bottles) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: oh this is smooth and rounded, classic, clean, wonderful sherried peated whisky. No rough edges at all this time, no gunpowder, no bicycle inner tube, and no rubber bands. Smoked earth and soot plus glazed chestnuts, Corinthian raisins, dried pear rinds, and then indeed, more classic Laphroaigness managing to find its way throughout the sherry. Sea air, iodine, smoked almonds, camphor… What a wonderful balance this time! With water: more of all that, plus a little soft curry powder or something. Unless that’s Christmas spices. Mouth (neat): immediate serenity and happiness. Om… I mean, some stunning notes of smoked oranges. Perfect integration this time. With water: some kind of high-end old Banyuls, old sweet wine, old rancio… Amazing. Finish: long, perfect, full, elegant… and magical. Not many sherry casks can produce such clean and profound spirit. Love the ganache in the aftertaste. Comments: it seems that we have a winner! SGP:655 - 92 points.

Session over, but stay tuned…

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

 

 

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December 17, 2014


Whiskyfun

The Laphroaig Sessions, Part Two

Let’s start Part Two with a very young one, if you don’t mind…

Laphroaig 7 yo (54.9%, Jack Wiebers, Passenger Liners, 2013)

Laphroaig 7 yo (54.9%, Jack Wiebers, Passenger Liners, 2013) Five stars It would be hard to draw a label that would be more ‘maritime’ ;-). And beautiful! Colour: white wine. Nose: there, it’s purer than crystal, ultra-zesty, flinty, lemony, smoky of course. This baby isn’t particular about details, but despite the rising notes of pears and pineapples, signs of youth, the whole works a treat so far. With water: just pure perfect young Laphroaig. Lovely whiffs of tobacco and dried kelp. Mouth (neat): terrific young Laphroaig, as sharp as the sharpest blade (they used to make some in a village near my place named Klingenthal, but I digress…) Notes of briny mezcal, the best Williams pear spirit, olives, oysters… This is terrific! With water: perfection. Finish: long, very salty, smoky, coastal, only mildly medicinal. I believe Laphroaig has lost its medicinal side somehow, but this is still great. Comments: absolutely perfect. Would beat many older ones. SGP:547 - 90 points.

This started well!

Lp5 (52.4%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2014, 50cl)

Lp5 (52.4%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2014, 50cl) Four stars Another new one by the Mendeleyevs of whisky, in London-on-the-Thames. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a milder youngster, with more fresh fruits and less raw power. Peaches and gooseberries on a bed of peat smoke, iodine and dried kelp. A little antiseptic as well, just to contradict myself. With water: raw peat, sheep dung and kelp. A walk in… wait, say the Oa? Mouth (neat): oh this is quite perfect again. Pure peat, pepper and bitter oranges, without any fatness. It’s got some notes of some kind of sweet olives as well, a bit Nyons-style. By the way there won’t be much Provence olive oil this year because of a nasty Japanese fly called Suzuki (!) that literally slaughtered them all. Sorry, digressing again… With water: rather the sweeter side of Laphroaig. Maybe a wee bit too sweet for me, but that’s very all right. Finish: quite long, fruity, sweet. Smoky peaches and apricots. Comments: one of the fruitiest young Laphroaigs I could try. It’s like fruitier rieslings, they aren’t quite what you’d expect from riesling, but they can work. SGP:547 - 86 points.

While we’re in London…

Laphroaig 18 yo (50.9%, The Whisky Exchange, bourbon, 2014)

Laphroaig 18 yo (50.9%, The Whisky Exchange, bourbon, 2014) Four stars and a halfThis baby should be a 1995 or a 1996. Aren’t we good at math? Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a relatively mild one, with something old style indeed, which goes well with the retro label. Such as a lighter peat and rather more tropical fruits, mango chutney, then more vanilla and hints of coconut and sawdust. Just hints! With water: oh yes, some lovely whiffs of fresh herbs, chives, lemongrass… And a little sheep dung again. Welcome to Islay! Mouth (neat): it’s a drinkable Laphroaig. Don’t get me wrong, Laphroaig’s always drinkable, but this one’s a little easier, while retaining the smoky side, the citrus, the iodine and the smoke. Some sweeter oak behind all that? I find hints of grenadine. With water: very very good. But let me issue a warning, this is too drinkable. Finish: not the longest ever, but it’s got some great notes of apple peelings, green tobacco, tea… And lemon! Comments: a great variant, so not the usual very-very-good-but-a-wee-tad-boring mid-to-late 1990s Laphroaig. SGP:457 - 88 points.

Oh, after the great 7yo by Jack Wiebers, we could also try this earlier oddity…

Laphroaig 13 yo 1996/2009 (51%, Jack Wiebers, Auld Distillers, Lafite finish, 180 bottles)

Laphroaig 13 yo 1996/2009 (51%, Jack Wiebers, Auld Distillers, Lafite finish, 180 bottles) Two stars and a half A Laphroaig Lafite finish! The alliteration works, no doubt, but the whisky? Colour: pale apricot. Nose: well well well, this isn’t ugly. Mullein flowers, apricots, peaches, even something muscatel, notes of all-vitamins fruit juice, then some kind of smoked butterscotch, coconut milk and fudge. A discreet sulphury side as well. What I enjoy is the fact that there’s no straight cabernetty feeling here, well done. Not first fill, I guess… With water: not quite. Doesn’t swim too well, it got oddly farmy for Laphroaig. Whiffs of manure. Mouth (neat): no, not quite, it’s starting to be dissonant. Too many spices from French oak? With water: well, it’s all right, it’s got nicer notes of ripe gooseberries. Finish: good length. Some sweet fruit sauce with spices. Ginger. Comments: we’ve tasted worse. I find it okay. Ish. SGP:655 - 78 points.

Laphroaig 12 yo 1998/2010 ‘The Moon’ (59.9%, Shinanoya, Japan, sherry, cask #800043, 288 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 1998/2010 ‘The Moon’ (59.9%, Shinanoya, Japan, sherry, cask #800043, 288 bottles) Four stars and a half I believe that one was a butt that was shared with the Scotch Single Malt Circle in Germany. Colour: amber. Nose: it starts very flinty and leathery, like many sherried peaters. Lots of old walnuts, engine oil, bark, whiffs of exhaust fumes… It’s all very dry and pretty austere. The smoke’s huge. Also some earthy truffles. With water: wonderful, everything gets easier, beautifully earthy and mushroomy. Visiting the working kiln. Mouth (neat): bitter chocolate and oranges, lots of oranges, then a massive peppery side, smoked ham, more leather again, crystallised oranges… Certainly not an easy Laphroaig! With water: more sweetness and even more smoke and pepper. Peppered strawberries? Raisins, orange blossom water… Finish: long and peppery. Also more cloves this time. Comments: a bit brutal when undiluted, but it became more affable when appropriately reduced. SGP:467 - 88 points.

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

(Thank you Konstantin and Ulli)

 

 

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December 16, 2014


Whiskyfun

The Laphroaig Sessions, Part One

Plenty of Laphroaigs yet to taste, both officials and independents, and both new and old bottlings. Don’t worry, we won’t do all that in one go, but we shall start with some epitomical bottlings, such as some old OBs… 

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, F.&C. Torino, Italy, late 1980s, 75cl)

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, F.&C. Torino, Italy, late 1980s, 75cl) Four stars Ah, Bonfanti, Filippi, Cinzano… All Italian importers who had some fantastic young official Laphroaigs! This one’s a little more recent, but it was bottled before the mid-1990s for sure, as it hasn’t got the royal warrant. Let’s see if it was as stunning… Colour: gold. Nose: yes. I’d say it’s rather less on tropical fruits than earlier bottlings, while being more medicinal than any officials I could try so far. It’s really all on bandages, embrocations, antiseptic, camphor, burning pinewood, Kools… Very spectacular, all you still need is a nurse ;-). Mouth: exceptionally brutal, once again it’s stronger than earlier bottlings, more austere, certainly smokier and vastly more medicinal. Peppery smoke, cough medicine, mercurochrome, acrid green apples, then indeed notes of grapefruits but I couldn’t find any hints of mangos or passion fruits, that was more in the 1960s and 1970s. Finish: very long, very smoky, rather rough. Saltier aftertaste. Reminds me of some smoked oysters. Comments: the kind of Laphroaig that explains why they used to use the ‘love it or hate it’ kind of line in their ads. Pretty extreme! Now, this sissy of a taster used to prefer the gentler, fruitier ones! SGP:258 - 87 points.

Laphroaig 15 yo (90° US proof, OB, unblended, Regal Brands, USA, +/-1980)

Laphroaig 15 yo (90° US proof, OB, unblended, Regal Brands, USA, +/-1980) Five stars So an American bottling this time, bearing the famous ‘red – or pink – 15’ on both the main and the neck labels. BTW have you heard that Laphroaig will reintroduce the 15? Great news if they manage to keep the older profile. Colour: gold. Nose: pah-pah-pah-pah-pah… Eating passion fruits and mangos on an old stove while smoking a Cuban puro. It’s this style that made us all Laphroaig lovers. It’s simply extraordinary and emblematic of that era when Bowmore and Laphroaig used to rule Islay – as far as malt whisky’s concerned, of course. Mouth: silly me, what a mistake to have had this baby before newer bottlings! It’s just that at this relatively low strength of 90proof/45% vol., I had though we should have it before the CS and/or wine-doped versions. Excuse me? The whisky? Well, it’s as brilliant as peaty whisky can get. Smoked passion fruits, ashy mangos, salted grapefruits and all that. Please call the anti-maltoporn brigade! Finish: long, and more peppery than expected. Wonderful ‘tropical’ signature. Comments: whisky that matters. SGP:546 - 93 points.

My nose is shaking…

Laphroaig ‘Cairdeas - Port Wood Edition’ (51.3%, OB, Friends of Laphroaig, 2013)

Laphroaig ‘Cairdeas - Port Wood Edition’ (51.3%, OB, Friends of Laphroaig, 2013) Two stars NAS, Port aromat… I mean, finishing, everything we love. But hey, you never know… Colour: salmony. Nose: well well well, this isn’t too unpleasant, I don’t get many strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, cassis and other berries, rather a slightly sweeter peat smoke and more oranges than usual. Also whiffs of old barrels, musty cellar, antiseptic… With water: same, plus something slightly soapy. On the other hand, the coastal side tends to come to the front, with more seaweed. Which is nicer, of course. Mouth (neat): the sweetness comes out this time, this is very ‘experimental’. Smoked sweets? Ashy marmalade? Cassis liqueur and seawater? I wouldn’t say everything clashes, but I find it a little dissonant. Bah, not my style at all anyway. With water: some soapy tannins arise, forget water. Finish: quite long, a little bittersweet. Green pepper and raspberries? Comments: not ugly at all, but this is not for me, I find these bottlings pointless generally speaking. I love Port and raspberries, just not in my whisky. I used to like the PX Cask better. SGP:646 - 74 points.

Another chance for the Cairdeasses…

Laphroaig ‘Cairdeas - Master Edition' (57.3%, OB, Feis Ile 2010)

Laphroaig ‘Cairdeas - Master Edition' (57.3%, OB, Feis Ile 2010) Four stars and a half From when they were still allowed to mention the composition on a label, in this case ‘spirit ranging from 11 to 19 years of age’. So, it’s an 11 years old. Colour: straw. Nose: there! A nice, rather pure Laphroaig coated with a little natural vanilla that makes it rather rounder, but certainly not dull. Iodine, seaweed, fresh hazelnuts, a rather mild smoke for Laphroaig, everything’s coherent. With water: more sea stuff and hessian. A lot of hessian. Mouth (neat): yes, this works! Pure zesty smoky lemony modern ‘Phroaig, with an oily mouth feel, possibly from some active American oak. Smoked grapefruits. With water: excellent, crystal-clean, going towards the second-tier 10yo CS. Finish: long, clean, very smoky, ashy, salty. Very peppery aftertaste. What we were expecting. Comments: a little biting, and that’s what we were waiting for. A little too simple to reach the 90-mark in my book, but we’re close. SGP:458 - 89 points.

Laphroaig 15 yo 1997/2014 (54.3%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #4, sherry hogshead, cask #3350, 291 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1997/2014 (54.3%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #4, sherry hogshead, cask #3350, 291 bottles) Four starsWith a very lovely label by Albane Simon. After all, since we need labels, why not let true artists make them? Colour: gold. Nose: what’s impressive is to nose this along the Port Wood. This is so much better integrated (the wonders of refill, perhaps), and yet I do find wee touches of strawberries, and even raspberries. Also kippers, smoked bacon, old musty cellar, then more leather and walnuts, and perhaps a little parmesan cheese? It’s not a whistle-clean Laphroaig at all, but everything’s in sync this time. With water: sweeter leathery notes. Mouth (neat): massive! Sweet peat, as we sometimes say. Some kind of smoked orange liqueur with a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. There’s a roundness to it (raisins, figs) but the spirit was huge and keeps the whole ‘nervous’ and not clumsy at all. With water: smoked walnut wine with a little salt. Swims well on the palate, and even gives out old-style medicinal notes. Finish: long, sweet, slightly leathery and earthy. Bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, even if this is not my preferred style. SGP:557 - 86 points.

See you tomorrow with more unusual Laphroaigs!

(Thanks Olivier, Tim)

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December 15, 2014


Whiskyfun

Malt Maniacs Awards 2014
The results have been published. Check them out.


Tasting: more Pappy than Pappy!

I thought we could try more Bourbons and American whiskeys today, while keeping in mind that I remain a humble apprentice. We’ll add a few old bottlings for once, not that I’ve never seen any before, but I had always thought tasting some while I was totally inexperienced would have meant throwing pearls before swine. Not sure that changed much, having said that…  We’ll have the oldies first, since their strengths are lower. They’re not bourbons bearing the name “Pappy Van Winkle”, they’re bourbons made by Pappy Van Winkle.

Old Fitzgerald 6 yo 1960/1966 'Venetian Decanter' (43%, OB, Stitzel-Weller)

Old Fitzgerald 6 yo 1960/1966 'Venetian Decanter' (43%, OB, Stitzel-Weller) Four stars and a half It seems that these babies were widely available, including abroad. For example, this is an Italian bottling. You’ll learn much more about them at the excellent Los Angeles Whisky Society. Colour: gold/orangey. Nose: smooth and mellow, much rounded, very easy, with some vanilla fudge, a little coconut liqueur, some maple syrup and a touch of mint. Again, this is smooth and easy, but certainly neither flat nor weak. The coconut tends to take the lead after one minute, we’re almost nosing coconut butter. Mouth: much fruitier and spicier than contemporary bourbons, and much less dominated by vanilla and other oak extracts, although some coconut there is. What’s amazing is that this bourbon is in perfect shape after almost 50 years in a (rather lousy) decanter. There’s probably quite some rye, with a feeling of juniper, some bitter oranges, some grenadine, some maple syrup again, two drops of stout… I certainly enjoy this! Finish: not too long, rounder and smoother, with more toffee. The spiciness (cloves) remains in the aftertaste. Comments: much to my liking. The Very Old Fitzgeralds from that era were probably in a higher league, but this is already ‘very good’! SGP:641 - 88 points.

Old Fitzgerald 6 yo 1958/1965 'Four Seasons Decanter' (43%, OB, Stitzel-Weller)

Old Fitzgerald 6 yo 1958/1965 'Four Seasons Decanter' (43%, OB, Stitzel-Weller) Four stars Not too sure whether the content of these decanters used to change much, or if Mr. Van Winkle used to seek consistency throughout the years, let’s see… Colour: gold/orangey. These colours usually suggest the use of caramel colouring, but I’m not sure that was legal at the time for bourbon. Nose: we’ve got our answer, this is very different. It’s got much more asperities, less roundness, less coconut for sure, and rather more straight oak. Pencil shavings vs coconut, that’s the game here, but I couldn’t tell you which one I prefer. Yet. Mouth: exactly the same feeling, this is oakier, bigger, more modern perhaps. Or maybe was the decanter even more airtight. Touches of varnish and vanilla, then lavender drops, sour wood, liquorice and cloves. Finish: medium length. Very spicy, even herbal. Cumin and cloves in the aftertaste. Comments: I think I liked the Venetian a little better altogether, it was more elegant and more charming, if not more subtle. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Original ad for the Four Seasons decanter, 1965

Old Fitzgerald

Old Fitzgerald 6 yo 1966/1972 'Classic Decanter' (100° US proof, OB, Stitzel-Weller)

Old Fitzgerald 6 yo 1966/1972 'Classic Decanter' (100° US proof, OB, Stitzel-Weller) Four stars The others were bottled for Italy, hence their ‘ABV’ statements, while this is an American bottle, bottled at a higher proof. The bald eagle gives that away anyway. Colour: red amber, so much darker. Nose: ah, this is certainly different. There’s some wood smoke, some liquorice, a lot of burnt cake and bread, then herbs, moss, chives, aniseed… Even a little ham, I think. I think we’ll try to add a few drops of water. With water: it got rather earthy, not something I’ve often encountered in bourbon. Well, in the few bourbons I’ve tried so far. Much more menthol as well, then a small feeling of soapy coconut, not unpleasant. Mouth (neat): high concentration, fully liquoricy, a little biting, with some aniseed, pastis, cloves, juniper… There’s a feeling of oak-aged gin, if you see what I mean. Big body, lots happening. With water: the oak’s spices come out more, and it loses all sweetness, which ain’t too good if you ask me. Very dry and drying. Finish: as drying as strong cold tea when reduced, perfectly spicy when neat. Herbal liqueur, bitter oranges. Pomegranates? Comments: careful with water! Other than that, it’s some big spicy and ‘nervous’ bourbon. I still prefer the charms of Venezia. SGP:461 - 85 points.

Time to try some contemporary ones…

Buffalo Trace 2001/2013 'Wheat 105' (45%, OB, Experimental Collection)

Buffalo Trace 2001/2013 'Wheat 105' (45%, OB, Experimental Collection) Three stars I know, I should have tried to put my hands on some new Pappy instead. You can only do your best. As for this baby, there’s more literature on the label than in the Library of Congress, so we won’t bother… You see, it’s experimental. Colour: amber. Nose: I like! Sure the oak’s a little too dominant for my taste, and yes there’s a little glue and varnish and even nail polish remover, but other than that, it’s a clean, rather fresh nose, with some mellowness, some sweet corn (I know) and whiffs of warm croissants straight from the oven, as well as fresh walnuts and almonds. There’s less happening than in the Stitzel-Wellers, but I like. Mouth: it’s a good spirit, with some sour wood, a funny herbal combination (zucchinis, chives, parsley), then more vanilla, a little flour, maybe a little stewed rhubarb, baked apples… I wouldn’t say the spirit was characterful, but the oak was good. Finish: good length, sweet, with some ripe strawberries coming through. Very sweet Haribo stuff. Comments: as I said, I don’t think there was much character in the first place – and some Scottish grains can be like that – but the barrels were rather impeccable IMHO. SGP:540 - 81 points.

While we’re having unusual stuff…

Rock Town 'Arkansas Hickory Smoked Whiskey' (45%, OB, +/-2014)

Rock Town 'Arkansas Hickory Smoked Whiskey' (45%, OB, +/-2014) Three stars and a half I had found their ultra-young baby bourbon excellent (WF 83). Very curious about this one… Colour: pale gold. Nose: I like bready whiskies more and more. Maybe that’s because I love good bread. This is as bready as whisky can get. I don’t find much smoke, but who cares. This is like putting your nose over a frühstuck table in a ***** ski hotel somewhere in Tyrol or Bavaria. You know, when they have a good thirty different wholegrain breads. No, not in Aspen and not in Squaw Valley. Mouth: same. There might be some kind of acridish smoke, and probably a good share of ginger and cinnamon from the wood, but what I like most in this baby is the spicy bread. Isn’t it refreshing to find the raw ingredients in any spirit? Finish: long, maybe a little too drying now, almost too bitter and tannic. Comments: I don’t know how old this is, it’s probably very young, but despite the slightly too extractive side (very small casks?), well, it’s one of my stuffs these days. I find this more honest and loyal than buying good readymade juice somewhere else. And yes it’s wheat. SGP:452 - 84 points.

James E. Pepper ‘1776’ (100° US proof, OB, straight bourbon, +/-2014)

James E. Pepper ‘1776’ (100° US proof, OB, straight bourbon, +/-2014) Three stars and a half An old brand and sourced stuff. We won’t read the long blurb on the website, but I’m sure they hand-pick and blend only the best barrels from Lawrenceburg, while building their own distillery. Where have we heard that already? As for the '1776' mention, it's a bit confusing, as I've also seen 1780 in older ads (founding year), as well as 1773. No, not 1492. Colour: full gold. Nose: of course it’s very nice, rounded, honeyed, vanilla-ed, full of maple syrup and soft spices, toffee and butterscotch, cinnamon and caramel… Mouth: and sure it’s quite perfect, sweet and spicy, with good oak, good pepper (no kiddin’), good vanilla, good toffee, good caramel, nice touches of coconut, custard, lavender sweets… Even the mouth feel is perfect. Finish: and the finish is in keeping with the palate, just spicier as always. And the aftertaste is appropriately peppery. Plum spirit and gin. Comments: yeah, it’s technically very good, for sure. And we don’t score stories, do we. The whole shebang is just a little infuriating. Oops, forgot to add water. SGP:641 - 84 points.

James E. Pepper ad, 1941

James E Pepper

Four Roses 'Single Barrel 2014' (54%, OB, cask #471T)

Four Roses 'Single Barrel 2014' (54%, OB, cask #471T) one star and a half It seems that an older batch has won a huge award next year (don’t ask). A lot of cryptic data surrounding this very expensive bottle, apparently it’s 11 years old, it’s been distilled using an OESF mashbill, which seems to mean that there isn’t much rye. Colour: gold. Nose: a little shy and gentle, and that should be the high strength. Cake and honey, corn syrup and custard. That’s more or less all I get this far. With water: wood. Newly sawn plank at the nearest DIY store. Mouth (neat): full-blown bourbon at high strength, a little estery and very cake-y, with some vanilla, sawdust and then various berries, raspberries, strawberries, other berries… I think the alcohol blocks it a bit, yet again. With water: rounder of course, but the oak’s too loud for my taste. Finish: long, a little bitter and very oaky. Comments: I find this very disappointing, I think it’s all oak. I found the cheaper Small Batch versions I could try much, much, and I mean much better. I mean, more to my liking. This is not really my style, that’s all. SGP:371 - 69 points.

Time to put an end to this madness…

Elijah Craig 12 yo ‘Barrel Proof' (66.2%, OB, +/-2014)

Elijah Craig 12 yo ‘Barrel Proof' (66.2%, OB, +/-2014) Four stars Yah! This baby from Heaven Hill seems to have convinced many a bourbon lover already, but we’ll stay strong and won’t get influenced! Colour: deep red amber. Nose: no, this is not nose-able. Cellulose and coconut-scented varnish galore! With water: sweet coconutty oak plus banana flambéed and a feeling of lake water (I know what I’m trying to say). That brings freshness, always welcome. Mouth (neat): I’m afraid I like this, even at this strength. Some kind of coconut sweetness made by some kind of Haribo. Highly regressive, in other words. With water: there, this is excellent. Sweet gin, banana liqueur, coconut liqueur (Malibu-like but so much better), and again this kind of earthiness (the lake water thing in the nose) that brings more dimension and depth – although it remains pretty simple spirit. Finish: long, sweet but with some backbone, earthier and grassier than other bourbons I could try… Comments: this one really killed the Four Roses, head to head. And yet it seems that it is/was cheaper. Life is a drag. SGP:551 - 85 points.

(thank you Giovanni)

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

 

 

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December 14, 2014


Whiskyfun

This is Sunday, let’s have rum

Our usual bag of rums from various countries and continents… Holidays!

Atlantico ‘Private Cask’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2014)

Atlantico ‘Private Cask’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2014) As often with rum, information on various websites diverges. It seems that this contains rum aged ‘up to 25 years’. Well… It also seems that the brand is doing a Beckham, as they’ve partnered with singer Enrique Iglesias. Colour: amber. Nose: rounded and very sweet, with notes of orange liqueur and corn syrup, then cranberry juice, then rather burnt wood. A new pack of sweets. I don’t find this very cane-y. Mouth: extremely sweet and sugary. Pass! Finish: rather long, very liqueury. Sugar syrup, plum jams and jellies, a few spicy herbs, a little bitter chocolate and sawdust in the aftertaste. Kahlua. Comments: an anti-malternative. I have a lot of trouble with most Dominican rums and often find them sickly sweet. More liqueurs than spirits. Adios, Enrique, you’ve added way too much sugar. SGP:830 - 50 points.

Medford (40%, OB, GrandTen, USA, +/-2014)

Medford (40%, OB, GrandTen, USA, +/-2014) Two stars This is small batch rum distilled in New England from molasses. Not too sure about where those molasses are coming from. It’s probably very young rum, and ‘craft’. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a sweet and syrupy style yet again, but there’s more to this, such as some tar Demerara-style, pine tar liqueur Scandinavian-style, then more apple pie and natural vanilla. Certainly not unpleasant so far. Mouth: in keeping with the nose, with a tarry side, apples, a little burnt sugar, then more and more oak that may make this baby rum a little planky. A little pine sap yet again, which adds some kind of herbal lightness. Finish: rather long, herbal and sweet at the same time. Have you ever tried Bénédictine? Comments: fair young rum with a different style. Pretty much to my liking despite the sweetness. SGP:740 - 75 points.

Travellers 8 yo 2005/2014 (44%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, cask #B86, 400 bottles)

Travellers 8 yo 2005/2014 (44%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, cask #B86, 400 bottles) Three stars and a halfAnother new one by this skilful new French independent bottler. Sure Travellers isn’t Caroni, but let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: unusual, herbal again, with strong notes of mint tea, caraway, ginger liqueur and then a wee tarry smoke once again. I also find a funny briny/coastal side. Anchovies with fresh mint? Sardines with woodruff? Then more usual apricots and raisins. Mouth: some character! Imagine you’d have selected some good light Cuban rum, added 1/3 heavy Caroni, and then let some vanilla pods, mint leaves and apricot halves marinate in that brew. Add a little clove, cumin and juniper, et voilà. Fun rum. Finish: long, all on liquorice, cumin and spearmint. Good medicine for winter. Comments: smart selection once again. A little less my style, but a lot of fun and difference. Again and again, vive la difference! SGP:651 - 83 points.

I think we’ve got another ‘French’ Travellers…

Travellers 2005/2013 (46%, L’Esprit, cask #BB11, 252 bottles)

Travellers 2005/2013 (46%, L’Esprit, cask #BB11, 252 bottles) Three stars This by an excellent French bottler in Brittany, check them out, they also do whisky. Colour: dark amber. Nose: a bit different, seemingly sweeter and rounder, so more liqueury. Cointreau, fudge, banana flambéed, then more flowers, lilies and lilac, honeysuckle… I also find a little woodruff again. Quite love that floral side. Mouth: we’re closer again, so quite tarry/heavy, with some liquorice and juniper, cumin, thick fruit liqueurs (apricots, plums) and then some sweet clove. Thick and heavy mouth feel but this never gets cloying or common. Finish: long, now with some orange liqueur. Cloves and cinnamon in the aftertaste, a little sawdust, and lastly, ten liquorice rolls. Comments: another sweet yet characterful rum. It appears that you can be sweet and not be an awfully repulsive sugar bomb. SGP:651 - 82 points.

Versailles 1990/2007 (45%, Samaroli, Demerara)

Versailles 1990/2007 (45%, Samaroli, Demerara) Five stars Versailles is really becoming rare! Its single wooden pot still seems to still be in use at Diamond Distillery (for the older El Dorados), and is said to be at least 150 years old. Colour: white wine. Nose: tja! Plain and pure sugar cane, with an oily and tarry fatness as well as a wonderful minerality. Black olives, graphite oil, flints, tar and lime. Perfectly pure, not heavy, no light, not sweet… Perfect! Mouth: t‘s so funny, with these notes of tinned sardines, tinned peaches, black olive brine, salty tar, copper, gherkins, sour apples, samphires, engine oil, silver spoon… It’s not unlike a very petroly riesling, except that this is saltier. Great salinity, as wine guys would say. Finish: quite long, very sour, metallic, salty and briny. You just had ten olives. Comments: not quite a surprise, but wow, Samaroli! I’ve only tried two or three Versailles so far, and this one’s now my favourite, by far. It’s got something Old-Ardbeggian. SGP:372 - 90 points.

Ouch, I had planned to go a little further but many rums would get death seats after that royal Versailles (pfff…) Unless we try to find something totally whacky… I think I’ve got an idea!

Grhum (43%, Silver Seal, grappa, +/-2014)

Grhum (43%, Silver Seal, grappa, +/-2014) Two stars So this is grappa from Trentino matured in an ex-rum cask. We don’t have further info but as the mad bottler has named it ‘Grhum’ instead of ‘Grum’, the cask may have come from a French-speaking island. No, rhum is not obligatorily agricole, contrarily to what some have written elsewhere. Colour: gold. Nose: grappa, and a nice one. I do not find much rum, but while very different from each other (of course), I believe both spirits can share many aspects. I do seem to detect some kind of gewürztraminer, but I may be totally wrong. Good grappa anyway. Mouth: the rum might be more noticeable on the palate. Well, I’m sure it’s very noticeable if you try the grappa alone and then this rum-aged version, but all the raisins, for example, could come from either spirit. Anyway, a good sweet palate, rounded, raisiny, which has kept a wee freshness. Very easy to sip and I’m sure a few ice cubes would work well. Finish: maybe it’s a little too sweet and sugary now. Loses a few points. Comments: on second thought, this funny baby would need ice. Maybe not the best balanced spirit of all times. SGP:730 - 70 points.

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

 

 

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December 12, 2014


Whiskyfun

Glen Elgin vertically

There are less official Glen Elgins than in the past, but I’ve always found that the distillate could be interesting, with a firmness that could make it very ‘Highlands’, beyond the Speysidy fruitiness.

Glen Elgin 17 yo 1997/2014 (46%, Orcines, cask #1651)

Glen Elgin 17 yo 1997/2014 (46%, Orcines, cask #1651) Three stars Orcines is the new line by the Whisky Lodge in Lyon, France. We already tried a pretty good Glen Spey. Colour: white wine. Nose: an immaculate, straightforward youngish Speysider that shares white fruits (apples, pears, white cherries) as well as some kind of smoked bread dough, a touch of shoe polish and certainly some linseed oil. Beyond the fruits! Mouth: excellent clean fruity distillate with, indeed, an oily firmness that prevents it from getting a little… dull. Apples, peaches and lemons, a combination that isn’t that usual in malt whisky. Little oak, hurray. Finish: rather long, rather on peach syrup this time. A funny feeling of grenadine. Comments: sweet and firm, as I wrote. Nothing to complain about! SGP:541 - 82 points.

Glen Elgin 22 yo 1991/2014 (51.3%, Hart Bros, Finest Collection)

Glen Elgin 22 yo 1991/2014 (51.3%, Hart Bros, Finest Collection) Three stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: this time there’s more sweet, creamy, rounded oak influence, but styles are similar. Barley water, custard, peach syrup, cane syrup, all that on ripe pears and peaches. Easy, quick, evident. With water: a little chalk coming out, it’s even a tad muddy. I wouldn’t say that doesn’t work. Sour dough. Mouth (neat): we’re even closer to the Orcines on the palate. Fruit syrups, light honey, sweet oils, a touch of lemon and just half a drop of eucalyptus oil, as well as a touch of sappy smoke. Pinewood? With water: same direction. Fizzy lemon juice, mint… Less clean than the 1997, but a little more complex. Finish: of medium length, with the mint coming even more to the front. Comments: some writers would call this baby ‘an intriguing malt’. They would be right. SGP:451 - 82 points.

Glen Elgin 38 yo (48.2%, Monnier Trading, Fighting Fish, bourbon, 172 bottles, 2013)

Glen Elgin 38 yo (48.2%, Monnier Trading, Fighting Fish, bourbon, 172 bottles, 2013) Four stars Monnier is a Swiss bottler. As for their ties with Chinese fish, I have no clues (are labels with fish fishy? Discuss…) Colour: gold. Nose: starts a little weird, metallic… An old tin box full of even older coins. Or an old penny book. Everything old, old clothes in an old attic, old books, old oils, old herbal liqueurs, honeydew… It’s a rather beautiful nose, but this profile usually implies a weakish palate, let’s check that… Mouth: no! All is very fine, raisiny and resinous (alliterations are so last century, Serge!), with raisins, old liqueurs again (grandma’s crème de menthe), more honeydew, a little tar… It’s even quite fat, and the oak remains discreet. It’s to be wondered whether this old baby didn’t age in pinewood. Finish: long, sweet and very, very piny. Fun stuff. Comments: one to sip in the sauna. The fact that it never got drying is a miracle. Hoppla, Grüezi miteinander. SGP:471 - 87 points.

I had planned to stop here, but we could as well go on and try to find a 90er. Maybe this one?...

Glen Elgin 30 yo 1972/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 276 bottles)

Glen Elgin 30 yo 1972/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 276 bottles) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: ooh yes. High-end shoe polish and light fresh fruitcake, a perfect combination. Honey sauce, citron liqueur, mandarins, verbena and wormwood, menthol, caraway, aniseed… It’s almost like a long-forgotten bottle of genuine absinth from the Val-de-travers, in grandma’s cupboard. Very beautiful. Mouth: whacky and yet very beautiful again. Mentholated and metallic fruits, I’d say. So some kind of mentholated mangos, mint-flavoured tea, paprika, pink peppercorns… All that on a rather oily and earthy structure. Only flaw, it tends to become a little drying. Finish: long, spicy. Pepper and mint, with a curious smokiness in the aftertaste. Smoked salmon and dill? Comments: not everything is well in place here, but it’s fun. Malt whisky for adventurers, perhaps. Good fun indeed. SGP:462 - 90 points.

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

(with thanks to Carsten)

 

 

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December 11, 2014


Whiskyfun

The new Cragganmore plus junior

I think we’re almost done with this year’s Special Releases by Diageo. Today we’ll have the Cragganmore.

Cragganmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/- 2005)

Cragganmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/- 2005) Three stars An older version because… that’s the only one I’ve got while just like all whiskies, the new SR does need a sparring partner. Remember, when you’re mad enough to score your whiskies, only comparison is reason. Colour: pale gold. Nose: rounded and nutty, then rather floral and honeyed. A wee touch of lavender, which I enjoy in this context, geranium, dandelions, a little mead, apple pie or tarte tatin and then crème au beurre. Light but not weak. Mouth: easy, with an earthy touch, a little wood, maybe some fresh mint, then roasted nuts and toasted brioche. Finish: a little short, but pleasantly chocolaty. Marmalade, raisins, orange cake. Comments: a good example of a gentle malt that’s both light and firm. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Cragganmore 25 yo 1988/2014 (51.4%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak, 3372 bottles)

Cragganmore 25 yo 1988/2014 (51.4%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak, 3372 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: apricots, vanilla, dandelions and honey. The style isn’t far from that of the older 12, but of course this one has more oomph and probably more depth. More crème au beurre and tarte tatin (how French is that?), then oranges and a touch of liquorice and eucalyptus (drops of cough syrup). Notes of new American oak are far away, but you don’t feel them as such. Good. With water: not much changes, maybe a little more fresh sawdust? Mouth (neat): orangeade with ginger, vanilla and honey. Then mirabelles and apricots, probably figs, and a wee feeling of Turkish delights. The oaky side’s a notch more obvious now (fresh tannins, white pepper). With water:  excellent! Plenty of yellow fruits (apricots, plums, peaches, pears) with a little maple syrup, custard honey, and one mint leaf. You feel the oak, but it’s almost an asset in this context. Finish: of medium length, fresh, clean, fruity and honeyed. No oaky aftertaste, hurray! Comments: we aren’t very far from the very excellent official 29 yo from… wait, oh no, ten years ago! SGP:551 - 88 points.

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

 
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December 10, 2014


Whiskyfun

Three Old Fettercairn, new and old

Well I keep calling them ‘Old’ Fettercairn but most new bottlings have dropped the ‘old’. Because some have considered that could be misleading? Let’s see if these babies will be as butyric as Fettercairn can be (IMHO)…

Fettercairn 'Fasque' (42%, OB, +/-2014)

Fettercairn 'Fasque' (42%, OB, +/-2014) Two stars and a half One of the countless new – and rather boring - NAS whiskies bearing strange names that are invading our shelves. Colour: amber. Nose: Mars bar and Ovaltine, then coffee and toasted bread, with just a wee whiff of struck matches and new leather. Also a load of natural caramel. Not unpleasant, and probably less ‘deviant’ than earlier young batches of Fettercairn. Mouth: it’s got that funny spiciness this time, we’re having some kind of blend of cooked honey, dry cocoa powder, dried parsley and unsweetened espresso. Becomes really dry after a few seconds. Strong black tea, chalk, marmalade. Finish: a little short, a tad cardboardy and very malty (Ovaltine again). Old walnuts in the aftertaste, a touch of Cynar (artichoke liqueur). Comments: I think I like it a little better than the ‘Fior’. SGP:361 - 78 points.

Fettercairn 24 yo 1990/2014 (46.4%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, hogshead, 120 bottles)

Fettercairn 24 yo 1990/2014 (46.4%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, hogshead, 120 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s simply got what the (probably much younger and more oaked) OB did not have, that is to say vibrancy. I like that word! Granted, it’s got those notes of carbon paper and graphite oil that are a little unlikely in this context, but I really like these notes of freshly squeezed oranges, pumpernickel from this morning, violet sweets (nothing to do with Parma violets) and cranberry juice. Rather unusual, very interesting. Mouth: creamy, zesty, a little acrid just like the Fasque, but also ‘funnily’ fruity, with cranberries again, oranges, watermelon… Again, it’s a little strange, but it’s one entertaining malt. Finish: medium long, grassier. A little grenadine this time? Some tea again, some pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m not Fettercairn’s biggest fan, but I think this baby’s one of the better ones. SGP:451 - 84 points.

Fettercairn 12 yo 1980/2012 (58.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 150th Anniversary)

Fettercairn 12 yo 1980/1992 (58.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 150th Anniversary) Four stars and a half If Cadenhead have chosen a 12 years old Fettercairn for this celebratory series, their must have been a reason, let’s see… Colour: amber. Nose: strong, spicy and fruity, then beautifully metallic and earthy. Fresh porcinis, moss, oranges, leather, tobacco… It seems to be very complex, but water is needed. With water:  some sulphur coming out, but that goes away and quick. A superb leathery and mushroomy nose, plus many spices and assorted metals. A real Turkish bazaar! Mouth (neat): high impact, nutty and orangey arrival. Orange drops, ginger and pepper, angelica (never had this much angelica in a whisky!), then rather high-voltage chartreuse. Lots going on! With water: it’s become some kind of ueberSchweppes. I’m not 100% sure that’s a good thing, but unusual it is. Ginger, fruit drops and cardboard. Finish: long, very spicy. Tabasco and orange juice. Comments: fun whisky, really. Probably not very kosher, but I find it rather… hilarious? Worth a very high mark for sure. SGP:562 - 89 points.

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

 

 

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December 9, 2014


Whiskyfun

Seven Ardbeg black to black

So, Ardbeg. While the whole world seems to be waiting for news about what’s going to happen next year, as the ‘official’ Distillery will be 200 years old (just like Laphroaig – let’s hope that won’t be another Waterloo from a Frenchman’s POV), let’s try a little bunch of both newer and older bottlings. We’ll try to ‘go deep’… very deep…

Ardbeg 'Kildalton 2014' (46%, OB)

Ardbeg 'Kildalton 2014' (46%, OB) Three stars and a half An NAS version, so probably very young, from both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. It’s said that it’s not one of those very lightly peated Kildaltons such as the 1980 and 1981 from a good ten years ago. Colour: pale gold. Nose: I find this baby very clean, straightforward, sooty and ashy, with some sour lemon juice and plain seawater in the background, as well as just a touch of honey and peach syrup, just to make it a little rounder. It does not reek of VV (vulgar vanilla, eh), which is great news. Maybe also a little supermarket smoked ham (or liquid smoke). Mouth: starts rather sweet and gentle, hinting more at Coal Ila, before it gets a little smokier and ashier. Kippers and smoked ham again, a little pepper, a little mustard, then a little ginger from the oak. Herbal liqueur, drops of Fanta. I find this palate pretty simple and a little disappointing after the very nice clean nose. Finish: of medium length, with some sawdust and tea, then pickled gherkins and smoked fish. Fades away rather quickly. Comments: rather thin on the palate, while the nose was promising. May lack texture and body. I have to say I prefer the Ten, by far. SGP:446 - 83 points.

Let’s try another one, probably of similar age, at 46%...

Ardbeg 1991/2001 (46%, Murray McDavid, bourbon, cask #MM 2114)

Ardbeg 1991/2001 (46%, Murray McDavid, bourbon, cask #MM 2114) Three stars and a half A great story about the distillery by MMcD/Bruichladdich’s former owners on the label: “For several years we tried to persuade Allied to sell it – they finally agreed – but sadly not to us.” I’m sure the face of whisky would be different today, had Mark Reynier and gang managed to snatch Ardbeg Distillery in the late 1990s. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s not that different from the Kildalton, just a little more ‘violent’, a notch more estery (with or without the purifier on then?) and a little more medicinal, somewhat ala Laphroaig. Antiseptic. Wait, wasn’t the Laphroaig crew running Ardbeg at the time? Mouth: maybe not a fab Ardbeg either, but this is cleaner, straighter, sharper, more lively. I especially like these notes of marzipan and lemon marmalade, while the smokiness remains… a little soft. Some pepper, a little tar, a little lemon. Finish: good length. Smoked almond and lemon cordial. I’m sure the very creative Italian liqueurists do have such a drink ;-). Comments: one good step above the Kildalton, but it’s still not a total winner in my book. This session starts slowly, doesn’t it… SGP:447 - 84 points.

Now there’s a bunch of new very young ‘undisclosed’ Islayers that ‘could’ be ‘possible’ Ardbegs, let’s see…

Islay Single Malt 2007/2014 (53.1%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, refill hogshead, 315 bottles)

Islay Single Malt 2007/2014 (53.1%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, refill hogshead, 315 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: could be. I remember having tried the ‘refill’ part of the official Ten at the distillery two or three years ago, it wasn’t dissimilar. A touch of smoked coffee – does that exist? – then white cherries, fresh almonds, smoked fish, oysters, lemon juice, green apples…  and tarry ropes and hessian and graphite oil, and mercurochrome… With water: swims like a champ – an ashtray with fins. Very ashy, very smoky. Mouth (neat): smoked plum spirit with a dash of salt and drops of seawater. It’s still got the sweet roundness of a young spirit at high strength, it’s got touches pears and oranges, and it’s very clean globally. Goes more towards smoked pear eau-de-vie after a few seconds, but it’s got depth. With water: perfect! This baby loves water, even when it’s wetter than a haddock’s bathing costume (copyright Sir Blackadder) it remains brilliant. Finish: long and extremely kippery. Comments: needs water. Don’t try it without water, or you’ll only get half of the experience. SGP:358 - 87 points.

Kildalton 2007/2014 (54.4%, Archives, hogshead, cask #9396, 170 bottles)

Kildalton 2007/2014 (54.4%, Archives, hogshead, cask #9396, 170 bottles) Four stars and a half Kildalton? That rings a bell… Colour: white wine. Nose: same whisky as the Liquid Library, more or less. Rather more than less. Same ultra-clean profile, with maybe just a little more ‘kilny’ touches. Raw peated malted barley. A little less coastal notes as well, less oysters… Wait, it’s not quite the same whisky, after all. With water: another ashtray, but it’s swimming all in seawater this time. Wonderful menthol as well, damp hessian… Mouth (neat): sharp, zingy, fresh, fruity, lemony… And rather smokier than its friend. A little hotter as well. Once again, the alcohol feels a bit, with an eau-de-vie-ish side. Smoked plum spirit? Not quite mature, but frankly good. With water: yeah, it really swims like a champ. We shall call it ‘Man-oh-doo’. Finish: long, superb, very ashy and saltier than its buddy. Comments: this one was a little fatter, maybe. High quality natural young ‘stuff’ without any woody makeup. SGP:358 - 88 points.

I insist, I have no proof that those were ‘begs, but let’s move on…

Ar5 (57.8%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2014, 50cl)

Ar5 (57.8%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2014, 50cl) Four stars and a half Suggestions that this could be Ardbeg are even clearer, aren’t they. I almost fell in love with Ar4 earlier this year (WF 90). Sounds a bit Star Wars, I know. Colour: gold. Nose: the oak’s much more obvious in this one, as it starts with strong notes of sawdust and vanillin. The miracle is that the spirit is soon to take over, to kill any excessively oaky aromas, and to display a half-coastal, half-medicinal profile. Bandages and mercurochrome on the beach! You may add a little tiger balm for good measure. With water: perfect marzipan smoke whelks grapefruit combo. Mouth (neat): it’s a little brutal, I have to say. Lemon lime and citron juice without one single drop of water, as well as that feeling of fresh oak that was there in the nose at first nosing. We’ll wear it down in the end, we will!... With water: there, seashell, almonds, salt, smoked salmon, liquorice… Finish: long, coastal and almondy, with a kippery signature. Comments: only the wee oak that was a little too noticeable at times (and for me) will prevent me from going to – or over – 90, but it’s great Ardbeg for sure. So… SGP:358 - 89 points.

Sherry? Sherry!...

Ardbeg 1991/2014 (48.9%, Malts of Scotland for Hotel Bero, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 14054, 185 bottles)

Ardbeg 1991/2014 (48.9%, Malts of Scotland for Hotel Bero, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 14054, 185 bottles) Five stars This one from Geert Bero’s Ostendian Connection. Ostendese? Geert is one of the largest Ardbeg collectors in the world, and his bar (and hotel) is well-known amongst whisky lovers. He’s also one of the kings of shrimp croquettes, a talent that’s less and less hidden. Colour: dark gold. Nose: not a sherry monster, rather a very lovely leathery nose, that also combines cigars, polished woods, camphor, pinesap, black olive brine and a few drops of oyster sauce. Should go well with sushi ;-). I could go on and on but that’s not needed. A very complex nose that starts a little ‘narrow’, but never stops getting wider and more complex. Time is on its side. Mouth: exactly the opposite. This is immediate and evident, quite massive, even a little thick, very spicy and kind of ‘infused’. Bitter oranges, leather, tobacco, Mandarine Impériale, a little chocolate, some pepper. And cloves, caraway, liquorice, menthol, a slice of black truffle (from the sherry cask I presume)… It’s not that immediate after all. Finish: very long and almost ever-lasting. The strength is not the highest but the spirit’s quite thick and ‘dominant’. Some kind of heavy cough medicine in the aftertaste. Comments: not quite a prima ballerina, but this very imposing style just… beats the humblest taster. I know, not a bad thing. SGP:467 - 92 points.

All right, let’s have a very last one. We’ve pretty much covered the 2000s and the 1990s, time to go back to the… not the 80s, not the 70s… rather the 1960s! After all, Christmas is close.

Ardbeg 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.4%, Cadenhead, black dumpy)

Ardbeg 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.4%, Cadenhead, black dumpy) Five stars There weren’t many 1965 Ardbegs, and frankly, the official 1965 from a few years ago was a little poor. IMHO of course. Colour: white wine (h.u.r.r.a.y.!) Nose: immediate, instantaneous, obvious. I’m not sure it’s all down to direct-fired stills and own maltings, but this is Ardbeg as ‘we’ used to know it fifteen years ago. Instantly recognizable, fatter, oilier, greasier, more phenolic, with this feeling of old garage, of dipping your nose into the engine of an old Ferrari (works with Renault or Volkswagen too), of old parchments (I imagine), old oils, old toolbox… I’m sure you know what I mean. This is the kind of nose that made Ardbeg a ‘grand cru’ in the old days, and I believe this style’s been lost, although I’m not sure it would appeal to modern drinkers who seem to favour sweetness and fruits. With water: more of all that plus tiny aromas such as ‘wet clothes’, ‘well-affined oysters’, ‘old chartreuse’ and ‘grandpa’s old pipe’. Mouth (neat): a brute! Not as wide and complex as I had hoped, but this feeling of salted and smoked liquorice is quite amazing. What a big spirit after all these years spent both in wood and in glass! Other than that, we’ve got some tar, or rather a pitchness (excuse me?) and, well, even more tar. Even some pepper, as well as some lemon juice, pine resin (drops), a mustardy side… I’m sorry, but ‘wham!’ You may call the anti-maltoporn brigade. With water: not too sure, there’s a lot of seawater, and that may have become a little ‘too much’. Drinking the cup while swimming in the sea. Yes, any sea. Also almonds, kippers and oysters. Finish: long and very salty, resinous, tarry, liquoricy, lemony. Comments: superb. Fat peat. Not quite 95-material in my book, but we’re very, very close. Also the kind of dram that teaches us the difference between an excellent whisky and a work of art – and why one shouldn’t use the upper part of the 100-scale too freely. I know, business is business and people have bills to pay. Printers and all that. SGP:467 - 94 points.

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

(and thanks Franco and Geert)

 

 

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