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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (90)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (10
9)
Banff (50)
Ben Nevis (1
80)
Ben Wyvis (3)
Benriach (170)
Benrinnes (
90)
Benromach (6
6)
Bladnoch (
80)
Blair Athol (
8
5)
Bowmore (5
19)
Braes of Glenlivet (4
6)
Brora (1
32)
Bruichladdich (2
9
8)
Bunnahabhain (3
42)

Dailuaine (60)
Dallas Dhu (3
8)
Dalmore (1
20)
Dalwhinnie (
31)
Deanston (4
5)
Dufftown (51)

Edradour (72)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
5
3)
Laphroaig (4
45)
Ledaig (1
2
8)
Linkwood (1
4
9)
Littlemill (11
4)
Loch Lomond (
65)
Lochside (65)
Longmorn (2
15)
Longrow (7
2)

Macallan (303)
Macduff (6
8)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
4
3)
Millburn (2
3)
Miltonduff (
92)
Mortlach (1
84)
Mosstowie (2
2)

Scapa (46)
Speyburn (
44)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (3
53)
St-Magdalene (5
1)
Strathisla (
101)
Strathmill (
41)

 
 
Pete and Jack



2020
January 1

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

 
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Othe whisky stuff
 

Brora

The Magical History
of the Great
Brora Distillery
1969 - 1983

   


 

Ye Auld Pages
that used to be here

   

 

 



Disclaimer
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
20

 


Scotch Legal Announcement

 
 

January 27, 2020


Whiskyfun

Mixed bags

Whiskyfun's mixed bags
Stuff from Scotchland

Unless they say ‘Skye Undercover’ or perhaps ‘Secret Orkney’ or ‘From Campbeltown With Love’, you just can’t tell about a growing crowd of uncertain malt whiskies that wouldn’t, or couldn’t tell you about their exact origins. I agree that won’t change anything to the quality of the whiskies (just as NAS won’t), but I believe it’s always better to know. On the other hand, some tasters would argue that it’s all becoming equivalent to some massive blind tasting, which can’t be bad. Right, let’s try a few secret singles and assorted blends as they come, if you don’t mind, knowing that some blends are actually single (you know, that myth about ‘teaspooning’)…

Blended Malt 25 yo 1993/2018 (47.1%, The Whisky Fair, sherry wood)

Blended Malt 25 yo 1993/2018 (47.1%, The Whisky Fair, sherry wood) Four stars
This baby was bottled to celebrate Limburg’s famous Whisky Fair. Indeed, we’re late again. Colour: amber. Nose: starts both dry – as far as sherry’s concerned – and pretty waxy, gets then even ‘blacker’, tobacco-y, nutty, tea-ish, with just hints of old ointments and perhaps a little rancio. You would be forgiven for thinking this is an old bottle. No, 2018 is not ‘old’, let’s not exaggerate. Mouth: really very good, very nutty (walnuts), with notes of raw house jams, black tea, fruitcake, Stolle, and hints of four-spice blend (quatre-épices). That would include cloves and cinnamon. Very good. Finish: of good length, more on homemade fruitcake, with perhaps hints of masala and an even spicier aftertaste. Comments: no complains, only praise. I’d only add that it would rather be for your (silver) hipflask than for your authentic vintage Eames lounge chair.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Secret Highland 31 yo 1987/2019 (49.6%, Whisky Nerds, hogshead, cask #27, 167 bottles)

Secret Highland 31 yo 1987/2019 (49.6%, Whisky Nerds, hogshead, cask #27, 167 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one is a single. Macallan, obviously – just joking. Colour: amber. Nose: just lovely, on raisins, figs, dates, some fresh fruitcake, pollen and honey, mint cordial, some young pu-erh (earthy tea), an awesome earthiness (anything around mushrooms, really), and a lovely mustiness. Refill sherry hogshead? Tends to get a little dusty, but that’s just nothing. Mouth: some smoke, some mint, some pine-y liqueurs, some cracked pepper, something mineral, all things oranges, mosses, liquorice… It really is some firm whisky, not easy to pin down because each and every time you’re having an idea (could this be Pulteney? HP?) you’re finding other flavours that would rather discard those options. Perhaps a special brew from Loch Lomond’s? Plus, the sherry’s still rather active here. It’s a sherry hogshead, right? Finish: rather long, perhaps a touch too oaky now, but altitude remains high. Comments: frankly, it’s highly frustrating not to know about the distillery, in no small measure because you just cannot generate images in your mind. Imagine, it’s as if Led Zeppelin had only done records and just never revealed who was their singer. Yeah of course I know that wasn’t Clapton.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Vega 22 yo (43.9%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, 1205 bottles, 2019)

Vega 22 yo (43.9%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, 1205 bottles, 2019) Four stars and a half
Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts with brown toasts and some pretty earthy black tea, as well as some bitter chocolate and some kind of old mint cordial from and old bottle from an old European country. Mushrooms and autumn leaves tend to win it after a few minutes, while the whole would get even more mentholy. Sauna oils. Finnish malt? No, looks like this is rather Scottish…  Mouth: very good! Many pine-y elements, needles, sap, some black raisins and some prunes, certainly some heavy pipe tobacco, marzipan-filled dates, chestnut honey, some thicker herbal liqueurs (ever tried Unicum?), all that with a solid body and a perfect, slightly oily mouth feel. Drops of caraway liqueur, perhaps. Try the Alsatians’! Finish: pretty long and balanced, not something that’s that common. Dried figs and a wee touch of curry in the aftertaste. Comments: I’ve heard they’ll have a bottle of this in the glove compartment of James Bond’s next Aston Martin. No, really. Anyway, whether this is a proper blend or a single malt in disguise (the industry is losing us these days, isn’t it?) this middle-aged Vega is very, very good.
SGP:641 - 88 points.

Sirius 31 yo (43.1%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, first fill bourbon barrel, 3582 bottles, 2019)

Sirius 31 yo (43.1%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, first fill bourbon barrel, 3582 bottles, 2019) Four stars and a half
A large small batch here, I’m really glad they manage to fork out this many bottles. Great work, no doubt, what’s more, the price is very fair. Colour: deep gold. Nose: fun stuff, full of fresh paint, bitter almonds, putty and Jamaican-rum-like esters. Then black olives, linoleum, and whiffs of rotting bananas. Funky rum-like indeed, looks like quite some bacterial fermentation has taken place here, somewhere, sometime… Having said that, the background remains classically malty and honeyed. Mouth: vive la difference! Indeed, this is totally unlike any other blend that I could try – while it’s not untrue that I’ve tried a few of them (don't let it go to your head, S.). Resins, varnishes, embrocations, coconut balls, barbecued marshmallows, Jäger, nori, Japanese caramel sauce for ramen… well, stuff like that. It is extremely unusual indeed, but that’s not this baby’s main asset. What’s sure is that the blender is a freethinker, and that he won’t ever work for Johnnie Walker. Finish: long, still a little varnishy, almondy, with a saltier aftertaste. Comments: you cannot not wonder if one of the casks wasn’t ‘something else’, perhaps something shipped by those fine distillers up there on Sirius. Seriously, this is not a blend for The House of Lords, but I doubt that was the goal in the first place. You have to be a little loco to be a fan – well, I’m very loco then.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Perhaps an older ‘secret’ malt now? Just to show that anonymous malt whiskies are not strictly a new thing?

Prime Malt 15 yo ‘Selection No.1’ (45.7%, Munro Watson & Co., 75cl, +/-1980)

Prime Malt 15 yo ‘Selection No.1’ (45.7%, Munro Watson & Co., 75cl, +/-1980) Three stars and a half
This old bottle’s a single Islay malt, but the lovely white label does not obligatorily suggest this is Laphroaig. Let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: I’m rather lost, once again. It is a tad medicinal (mercurochrome) but it’s also rather more herbal than any Islay malts that I know of, that is to say more on fern, mowed lawn, and just pine extracts and oils. While the smoke remains quite infinitesimal, if I may say so. It realty is very difficult to identify malt whiskies as soon as they’re a little ‘deviant’. Which reminds me of a very famous blender who, around twenty years ago and when asked – by this humble whisky enthusiast - to identify a very peaty Islayer that he had composed himself, had answered that it was a Lowlander. It was Laphroaig. Did I mention raisins? Mouth: good but not stellar. I’m thinking some deviant Lagavulin, perhaps. Salty soups, raisins, stout and ale, and even hops. Either too sweet, or too dry. Finish: rather long but a little sour, and sweet, and salty. Pine resin in the aftertaste. Comments: I don’t know what to say (yes, do us all a favor, S.) except that this could actually be Laphroaig from some kind of sweetened cask (PX, paxarette, weird mosto…)
SGP:555 - 83 points.

A last one today, but we might go on tomorrow…

Secret Blended Malt 18 yo 2001/2019 (46.4%, The Nectar and The Whisky Agency, sherry butt)

Secret Blended Malt 18 yo 2001/2019 (46.4%, The Nectar and The Whisky Agency, sherry butt) Four stars
Looks like this would be the natural strength. We’ve often found the malts that were displaying natural low strengths pretty special, let’s see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: some chocolaty sherry, with dark raisins, some coffee, the expected walnut wine, black tea, and just hints of chives, perhaps. Mouth: we’ve known both Glenfarclasses and Macallans that were like this. Prunes, marmalade, espresso, chocolate, tobacco, bit of ham, a dollop of raspberry cream, leather, old Maury wine,  a touch of flint, a drop of soy sauce… Finish: rather long, even more on cocoa and tobacco. Comments: this chocolaty malt just works, it’s a very classic so-called ‘sherry monster’. Some A’bunadhs were a bit like this as well, but enough with guessing games.
GP:561 - 86 points.

More bastard malts soon…

(Thank you Angus)

 

January 26, 2020


Whiskyfun

Five rums on a Sunday

Let’s see what we can find, there is some new stuff… Maybe this for starters, while wondering if the world of aged spirits isn't going around in circles these days. I mean, Scotch does rum finishes while rum's doing malt finishes. I say they should swap their practices...

Caution

A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!

Opthimus 25 yo ‘finished in Malt Whisky’ (43%, OB, Oliver & Oliver, Dominican Republic, 2014)

Opthimus 25 yo ‘finished in Malt Whisky’ (43%, OB, Oliver & Oliver, Dominican Republic, 2014) Two stars and a half
It seems that this one was finished in Tomatin casks – why would anyone do that, I don’t know. And no one believes this is truly 25 years old, in the sense that the younger component would be at least 25, but who knows? Having said that I had tried an earlier 25 yo in 2010 that I really enjoyed despite a very low strength of 38% vol. Colour: office coffee. Nose: it is not too heady, it is not too malty either, what I’m finding rather consists in bananas and pineapples, plus soft molasses, honey, liquid caramel, and some nice notes of cane juice, cigars and liquorice. All classic stuff.  I have to say this is perfectly fine, probably one of my favourite Dominicans. But I’m no sucker for Dominican rums in general… Mouth: sadly way too sweet for me, but what’s behind that sweetness works well, with liquorice leading the pack, molasses, corn and maple syrups, and some candied cherries. Sadly, it tends to become both sticky and thin, which is bizarre, I agree. Starbucks’s latte with fifteen teaspoons of sugar per medium-sized cup (Grande).  Finish: very short, so not exactly cloying. Caramel. Comments: I’m disappointed because I had had a much better Ophtimus 25 a long time ago, but all things considered, this could have been much worse.
SGP:830 - 77 points.

Sugar? Let’s try this one…

Long Pond 2009/2019 ‘CRV’ (42.6%, Plantation for The Whisky Exchange, Jamaica, Tokaji finish, cask #2, 198 bottles)

Long Pond 2009/2019 ‘CRV’ (42.6%, Plantation for The Whisky Exchange, Jamaica, Tokaji finish, cask #2, 198 bottles) Two stars and a half
This baby was shipped to France and finished in Tokaji for one year. A very strange idea, but since Tokaji is usually very sweet, could be that they subsequently cancelled any plans to add any unnecessary syrups prior to bottling. In other words, one of the very rare cases where a Tokaji finish could have been a good idea ;-). Colour: gold. Nose: sour fruits. A very mild funkiness under pears, mead, and apricot and pineapple jams. Quite light and so a little un-Jamaican in that respect, but it’s not unpleasant to find an ultra-soft Long Pond. The jury’s still out. Mouth: not as much a sugar bomb as the Ophtimus, of course, but we’re still doing sweet and pretty sugary, syrupy and light. You do feel the sweet Tokaji, which would have added notes of sugared herbal tea. There’s even a feeling of Aperol spritz, mind you. Finish: rather short, with some cinchona and more Aperol. Comments: I don’t like my rums this sweet, but other than that, I won’t cry foul play here. It’s just a little un-TWE. Did someone lose a bet?
SGP:740 - 78 points.

Chairman’s Reserve 13 yo 2006/2019 (56.3%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, St. Lucia, bourbon, 286 bottles)

Chairman’s Reserve 13 yo 2006/2019 (56.3%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, St. Lucia, bourbon, 286 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: amber. Nose: now we’re talking! Great notes of cane juice, cakes, a touch of wood smoke, ripe bananas, menthol, liquorice, then a little cedar wood, touches of incense, ylang-ylang, a little earth… Hold on, are we dead sure this cask didn’t stem from La Martinique? Feels pretty agricole if you ask me. With water: damp earth, moss, and once again that wee smokiness that just works here. Pu-erh tea, cigars… That’s all for the better. This little St. Lucian really talks. Mouth (neat): really very lovely, tight and dense, with some spicy cake, sugar cane juice, pineapples and bananas in moderate quantities, quite a lot of liquorice once again, and rather a good deal of oak extracts (black tea). Works a treat indeed. With water: pretty perfect. Ripe bananas and liquorice tangoing to perfection. Finish: rather long, dry, with some coffee now, and always quite some liquorice. Comments: just tops, Mr. Chairman.
SGP:652 - 89 points.

Foursquare 13 yo 2005/2019 ‘MBFS’ (62%, Cadenhead, Barbados)

Foursquare 13 yo 2005/2019 ‘MBFS’ (62%, Cadenhead, Barbados) Four stars
This is, I believe, the distillery’s usual ‘single blend’ of pot and column rums. This could work very well after the very lovely St. Lucian which was, I think, a kind of single blend as well. Colour: amber. Nose: it is a little rounder and lighter, as if the ex-column part was larger in the mix. There are also more soft oaky tones, vanilla, cakes, or chocolate, but at 62% vol., it’s distorted anyway, you can’t quite get the real profile. So… With water: it’s pretty complex and rather on many different herbal teas, which is very Foursquare in my book. Wormwood, fennel, verbena, sandalwood… Mouth (neat): real punchy, with what could be coconut wine and other savage drinks. Let’s not take any more chances… With water: no savage drink, it’s even rather civilised, with a little sweetness (was it a tad ‘enhanced’ when it reached Europe?) and some cinnamon, a drop of muscat wine, candied oranges, dried pears, quinces… Finish: rather long, with some pepper beyond the sweetness. Schweppes at a proper strength ;-). Comments: wondering if the proportion of ex-column wasn’t a little higher than in most OBs, but other than that, it is an extremely fine Foursquare in my book. Well done Cadenhead.
SGP:641 - 85 points.

While we’re at Cadenhead’s once again…

Caroni 21 yo 1998/2019 ‘TMCG’ (61.5%, Cadenhead, Trinidad)

Caroni 21 yo 1998/2019 ‘TMCG’ (61.5%, Cadenhead, Trinidad) Four stars and a half
This mark may suggest this is ‘light’ Caroni (Main Caroni). Colour: amber. Nose: not very aromatic, rather a little metallic and herbal, with notes of old copper coins, some sour wine, and then really a whole humidor. It’s not unseen that we would find cigars in rums (or whiskies) but in this very case, you would believe they’ve thrown ten boxes of Partagas into the cask. Or rather Dutch Masters for that matter. That’s rather lovely. With water: same, plus pot-pourri and, maybe, half a mothball. Love love love all this tobacco. Mouth (neat): excellent, raw, tense, herbal, slightly acidic and fermentary (feels pot still, but it is column), wonderfully grassy and limey. Not an ounce of sweetness or fatness in there, which makes this sharp baby rather spectacular. With water: I find this excellent. Granted, it does not showcase 1000g esters/hlpa, but these cigars combine to perfection with the limes and the cane juice. In short, it is very tobacco-y. Finish: long, on just the same flavours. Even more lime and a little brine in the aftertaste. A feeling of salt remaining on your lips. Comments: not that this was a surprise, but… oh hell, it was. And I don’t think it is expensive.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

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

 

January 25, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Four 1993 Laphroaig
I have a hypothesis. It’s widely known - well, amongst the sort of circles who care about these things, which is not as wide as those within might often believe - that 1993 Bowmores tend to be very good.

 

However, I have a suspicion that 1993 was more widely an excellent year for Scotch Whisky in general. I know that vintage effects in whisky are at best dubious and almost certainly more to do with the quirk of available bottlings rather than specific production differences. Although, I wouldn’t ever rule the latter out. Anyway, I digress; I think 1993 produced quite a raft of excellent bottlings from more than a few distilleries. One name which has struck me on a few occasions in the past in relation to this phenomenon is Laphroaig. I haven’t managed to gather enough 1993 Laphroaigs together before now to probe this idea more intimately, so let’s stick our noses in and see what bites…

 

 

Laphroaig 12 yo 1993/2006 (46%, Chieftain’s, casks #8026/8028, hogsheads, 1218 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 1993/2006 (46%, Chieftain’s, casks #8026/8028, hogsheads, 1218 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: soft and rather effortlessly coastal. This softness may or may not come from the bottling strength but it certainly reveals many beautiful notes of white flowers, crushed seashells, chalk, mineral salts and wee notes of petrol and citrus fruits. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a departure from other 1990s Laphroaig, but it is an elegant and very beautiful example. If a tad humble perhaps. Mouth: wait a moment… there is indeed something slightly tropical going on here. Dried mango, banana chips and papaya with more typical lemon peel and plainer notes of smoked barley and medicines. You could be forgiven for thinking this was a 10yo bottled a couple of years before this was distilled. Finish: long, lemony, fragrantly smoky, sandalwood, pink sea salt and more floral notes. A kind of wispy peat in the aftertaste. Comments: Don’t let this one fool you, it’s deft and almost shy at times, but there’s real beauty if you pay close attention.
SGP: 555 - 90 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 15 yo 1993/2008 (46%, Douglas Of Drumlanrig, cask #4598, refill hogshead, 150 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1993/2008 (46%, Douglas Of Drumlanrig, cask #4598, refill hogshead, 150 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: super clean, mineral, precise, lemony, salty and full of this coastal jostle of seaweed, ink, fresh oysters and beach foam. The nose is more simplistic than the Chieftains but no less fragrant and elegant. There’s even a wee lick of mango mixed in with the very gentle smokiness. Again we’re harking back to old official 10 year olds bottled around 1990. Mouth: superbly fruity, salty and lightly oily in texture. Like rubbed lemon peel with flints, soft briny touches, squid ink and umami broths. Also more background exotic fruity notes. Finish: long, saline and with quite a bit of antiseptic, Witch Hazel, herbal teas and medical toothpaste. Comments: Rather straightforward but the flavours are so precise and elegantly structured it’s impossible not to think of older style Laphroaigs - especially with these wee exotic fruity elements.
SGP: 644 - 90 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 12 yo 1993/2005 (54.7%, Queen Of The Moorlands, 94 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 1993/2005 (54.7%, Queen Of The Moorlands, 94 bottles)
The Queen Of The Moorlands series was the work of David Wood when he owned managed the excellent Wine Shop in Leek and who would later go on to manage Caol Ila distillery. He bottled some beautiful whiskies during these years, quite a few of which are now very hard to find. Colour: white wine. Nose: what’s remarkable is how different it is. This is really all about total purity and precision. Crushed seashells, petrol, mineral salts, seawater, lemon juice and ink. But also, underneath, some sparing and almost brittle notes of passion fruit, lime and mango. The smoke is there but it is ethereal, vaporous and drawn across everything like a silk curtain. I find it extremely beautiful. With water: pow! Bath salts, crystallised exotic fruits, crushed nettles, rapeseed oil and a little mango puree. Still generally very sharp, crystalline and superbly fresh though. Mouth: hyper saline and lightly ashy on arrival; yielding to more fleshy citrus fruits, some sooty cereal notes, TCP, medical balms, metal polish and many embrocations and petrol notes. This fruitiness seems to fade in an out like background noise. With water: again the fruits soften, fatten and come to the fore. Everything is more fleshy, more rounded, more oily in texture and there’s a more weighty sense of cohesion about it. Finish: long, with this wonderfully lemon-scented smokiness, brine and olive oil mixed, green olives, some dried herbs and salty liquorice. Comments: In truth, it was this bottling which had given me cause for suspicion about 93 Laphroaigs when I tried it way back in 2006 when it was first released. I’ve not tasted it for at least 12 years and I always wanted to try it again. I have to say, I was sceptical about how my palate may have changed in that time, but it absolutely does not disappoint. Beautiful, fresh, complex, lightly fruity and stunningly well structured Laphroaig. Ironically enough I was very close to 93…
SGP: 656 - 92 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 12 yo 1993/2006 (57.4%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, cask #3473, bourbon barrel, 199 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 1993/2006 (57.4%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, cask #3473, bourbon barrel, 199 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: what unifies all of these so far is freshness. This one has it in spades but there is a more definite lean towards minerality, pebbles, chalk, bath salts and even smelling salts. Some kind of collision of malt vinegar and petrol. Powerful yet restrained. Not to mention totally excellent I should add. With water: almost farmy now. Notes of carbolic acid, fermenting wash, oily sheep wool, tar and old toolboxes. Mouth: we’re not far from the QOTM bottling, but this is slightly more citric, less tropical and more powerfully medicinal. All manner of antiseptics, ointments, bandages, mercurochrome and then seawater, lemon juice, tar and iodine. Some beautifully wispy kiln smoke underneath, along with squid ink, dried seaweed and a super clean citric acidity. With water: magnificently sooty, salty, mineral, peppery, earthy and smoky. Bone dry and almost waxy - like some rather old dry Loire chenin. Finish: long, oily, fishy, tarry and with the smoke taking on an almost greasy and bloated quality. Comments: Another hugely impressive Laphroaig. What I love about these 1993s is that they wear their distillery character with screaming obviousness, yet they still manage to represent something of a departure in style from other 1990s Laphroaigs. Even the earlier 90s and 91s - of which you can find many more examples than 1993.
SGP: 466 - 91 points.

 

 

I am very happy with this wee tasting, as you might imagine. It’s interesting to note that what makes these Laphroaigs stand out - just as what makes the 1993 Bowmores stand out - is that gentle but definite elevation of their fruitier aspects. Characteristics which hark back to both distillery’s glory years. It’s fascinating to see how Bowmore and Laphroaig often fly close together in many ways. Now, I’m sure not all 1993 Laphroaigs, or indeed all 1993 whiskies, are 90+ point material. Indeed, you’ll find many other 1990s Laphroaigs of similar scores and quality. However, I do feel that there is something a tad distinctive and ‘separate’ about these four drams from their close 1990s siblings. It’s a hypothesis I will gladly return to in the future if I can accumulate sufficient samples to do so.

 

 

Thanks Hideo.

 

 

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

 

 

January 23, 2020


Whiskyfun

Another rain of Caol Ila

Because we said we’d do that (self-fulfilling prophecies, that’s always very lame, S.)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2006/2018 (51.8%, The Whisky Mercenary, bourbon barrel)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2006/2018 (51.8%, The Whisky Mercenary, bourbon barrel) Four stars and a half
No worries, the very distinguished bottler is actually much more engaging and civilised than he looks on the labels ;-). No bandido and no hell’s angel, mind you. Colour: white wine. Nose: tense, precise, lemony, a touch syrupy, getting a little rootier, almost on mezcal and gentian. That’s the way if you ask me. With water: there, brake fluid, and engine oil for your old boat. Mouth (neat): this is immensely prefect, ueber-clean, wonderfully sweet, on peat smoke and fish oils, kippers, smoked salmon, and then citrons and tangerines that would make it pleasantly sweet indeed. Very very good and exactly what any proper malt aficionado should expect from some young yet mature Caol Ila. With water: same. Finish: rather long and rather more on smoked fish and tangerines. Let’s try that next time we’re doing some cooking (like, around 2027). More pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: young Caol Ila, unless shamelessly botoxed (yeah, finished), will always bring us a lot of joy.
SGP:457 - 89 points.

Back to sherryness…

Caol Ila 2000/2019 (52.7%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 19012, 220 bottles)

Caol Ila 2000/2019 (52.7%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 19012, 220 bottles) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: there, fish oils, nut oils, butter cream, fresh walnuts, seaweed, old papers (say Newsweek) and Vicks Vaporub. No big sherry on the way, let’s dance! (what-a-at? Do we have to? ) With water: that famous old fisherman’s boat, dunnage warehouse, old ropes, musty old wine cellar, old jacket, wet dogs (you’ll get medals eventually, dogs)… Mouth (neat): this is excellent. A feeling of cigarette smoke, rather a lot of menthol, leather, marmalade, salt… All that works extremely well, even if it’s a little hot. Or tabasco-y, as they would say at Netflix’s (I’m sure no one will get that joke). With water: perfect. Great smoky and slightly honeyed marmalade. Finish: long, more on citrus, which always works. Comments: the opposite of some stuffy sherry. Rather superb, MR. Malts Of Scotland.
SGP:457 - 90 points.

Don’t you know you’re getting a little older when we still believe that anything distilled in the year 2000 is super-young spirit? Not talking about me, naturally.

Caol Ila 14 yo 2005/2019 (54.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice for 20yh Anniversary of The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry hogshead, cask #19/51, 142 bottles)

Caol Ila 14 yo 2005/2019 (54.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice for 20th Anniversary of The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry hogshead, cask #19/51, 142 bottles) Five stars
It’s refill, so we should be safe, but only 142 skittles from a hogshead? Colour: light gold. Nose: sharp, tense, mineral, coastal, medicinal, and not raisiny. Nice dough too, baker’s yeast, ale… With water: fumes, cigar smoke, leather, old copper kettle, chestnuts, ink… Mouth (neat): yeah, super good, even if some raisins are peeping around the corner this time. Some black olives too, which came unexpected. With water: marmalade and lapsang souchong, plus seawater and kippers. That’s both five O’clock tea and dinner sorted. Finish: long more leathery and saltier. Brine and sour teas in the aftertaste. A drop of wine vinegar, perhaps, olives for sure. Comments: as soon as olives show up, I’m in heaven. Well, more or less.
SGP:367 - 90 points.

Frankly, these young(ish) Caol Ilas are fantastic whiskies, we are blessed. Never, ever overlook or underestimate them. As far as we are concerned, let’s move on…

Caol Ila 11 yo 2008/2019 ‘Reserve Cask’ (48%, Elixir Distillers, Single Malts of Scotland, hogsheads)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2008/2019 ‘Reserve Cask’ (48%, Elixir Distillers, Single Malts of Scotland, hogsheads) Three stars and a half
Let’s be very careful, this might go down a little too fast. Colour: very white white wine. Nose: it’s a little small, narrow, and elementary. Nice smoke, fumes, concrete, paraffin, polishes and bread doughs, but other than that, it is a little shy. But it may not be a nosing whisky, let’s see… Mouth: does what you were expecting. Smoke, lemons, brine, ashes, fish oil. Mind you, I love very vertical whiskies, but this might be a little too austere. Cuts you in halves, as they say in Japan (are you really sure, S.?) Finish: very long and very smoky and ashy. Ashes belong to Caol Ila, for sure. Peppery aftertaste.. Comments: super mega hyper-good, but perhaps a we tad too basic this time.
SGP: 357- 84 points.

Caol Ila 15 yo 2003/2019 (55.9%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #9, hogshead, cask #302464, 290 bottles)

Caol Ila 15 yo 2003/2019 (55.9%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #9, hogshead, cask #302464, 290 bottles) Five stars
I think it’s good that those great people at LMdW would underline the fact that this is ‘peaty’. You never know what people think in Paris… Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh butter and fresh smoke for a start, then all things breads and pastries (including, oui, croissants au beurre). Sharp seawater and ashes, smokes, rocks, cough drops, menthol… No quibbles and no need to go on strike. Yeah I’m trying to do it ‘Paris’. With water: more mineral. Chalk and fresh bread. Mouth (neat): amazing lemons. Indeed it’s all on smoked lemons and limestone. In other words, a Pouilly-Fumé of the whisky world. With water: same. Hints of cucumber – really. Finish: long and perfect, fresh and moreish (which is always very dangerous). Comments: pristine CI. What a distillate!
SGP:466 - 90 points.

Perhaps a little older CI before we call this a session?

Caol Ila 16 yo 1969 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, old brown label, +/-1985)

Caol Ila 16 yo 1969 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, old brown label, +/-1985) Five stars
All right, this is ‘old’ Cao Ila from the old distillery, before it was reconstructed and expanded in the early 1970s (from two to six stills). We’ve had a similar 1969 at 40% vol. for Intertrade that had been utterly stunning, but that was in 2007 (WF 95). Colour: gold. Nose: sweet mother of Vishnu! Old Caol Ila might have been the very best whisky from Islay, it was extremely subtle, it had some kind of resinous smokiness that disappeared later on, with notes of natural rubber and castor oil that cannot not remind us of an old Bugatti. Yeah works with Austins too. It’s very specific, unlike any other peater, and just magnificent. There. Oh and I just adore tangerines. Mouth: total fabulousness. It was a little less smoky than newer distillates, and maybe Is that why old whisky writers used to claim that Caol Ila was ‘a softer Islay’. A statement that everyone’s been propagating since back then, and that’s become totally wrong since… 1972 or 1973. Well, my opinion. Anyway, this has tangerines, salty smokes, kippers, and soft natural rubbers, a profile that’s just unstoppable if you ask me. Tarmac as well, old Caol Ila is also very tarmac indeed. Finish: a little short, perhaps, but boy does it deliver. Exceptional smoked herbal teas, citrus peel, with touches of mangos, and indeed anything reminiscent of tarmac. Comments: could be that I got a little over-excited in 2007, but what’s sure is that this is pretty stunning, even if these old bottles at 40% may now be starting to lose steam… Emphasis on ‘may’.
SGP:455 - 93 points.

In theory, a proper whisky blogger would now check a CI from right after the reopening. Oh hell…

Caol Ila 25 yo 1975/2000 (46%, The Prestonfield, cask #466, 320 bottles)

Caol Ila 25 yo 1975/2000 (46%, The Prestonfield, cask #466, 320 bottles) Five stars
A series by Signatory Vintage, as you surely know. Not sure it’s fair to have this baby after the otherworldly 1969, but there, we ought to keep the momentum… Colour: straw. Nose: it’s very delicate, and rather on white Graves (or Pessac-Léognan) and hand cream, crushed anchovies, rhubarb juice, ripe gooseberries, a little brine… It really is very different from the 1969, but I would add it’s rather… softer. Rhetoric and practice… Mouth: no, this is rather huge. Not hugely peaty, but extremely citrusy, with literally lorryloads of lemons and grapefruits, then more minimal notes of smoked fish, seashells, and our beloved crushed anchovies and sardines. Samphires too. Not sure anyone could do more coastal, I suppose this was matured at the distillery. Not too sure… Finish: rather long extremely blade-y, salty, lemony, but with these wee feeling of soapy hand cream again – already found it in the nose. Comments: I don’t know if they cranked-up the peatiness later on, what’s sure is that styles are completely different on both sides of the rebuilding. What did they lose after the reopening? Any ides? Tarmac, I would say!
SGP:555 - 91 points.

This one quickly, just for the road and by way of landing, so to speak…

Caol Ila 1991/2008 (54.8%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, bourbon, cask #8195, 270 bottles)

Caol Ila 1991/2008 (54.8%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, bourbon, cask #8195, 270 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: the modern style was already there, with more flints, chalk, lemons, some notes of gentian (Suze), some grassy smoke, and something more medicinal. Mercurochrome. With water: more green apples, rough ales, and bandages. This was clearly medicinal. Mouth (neat): seawater blended with limoncello, and just a touch of varnish. The smoke got more aggressive, having said that, which may suggest that CI got frankly peatier around the year 1990. Just like Bowmore, you’re right. With water: grapefruits and almonds, plus a very wee soapiness. Not something that never happens with Caol Ila. Finish: long and very salty. This one would even leave some salt on your lips, mind you! Comments: lots happening in this intermediary Caol Ila. The grassy saltiness – or salty grassiness – was rather impressive.
SGP:366 - 88 points.

I think we ought to stop now. Ciao/adios/au revoir.

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

 

January 21, 2020


Whiskyfun

A rain of Caol Ila including our 600th

Let’s make it to 600+ Caol Ilas tasted and assessed for these lousy pages… Besides, I know some are considering that Caol Ila’s currently the best spirit on Islay. So much for a mere whisky factory driven by 1990s computers and corporate coldness.

Islay 11 yo 2008/2019 (53.1%, Liquor Library)

Islay 11 yo 2008/2019 (53.1%, Liquor Library) Four stars
Some whisperings from outer space suggested this would be Caol Ila. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got all the coastal elements for sure (crabs, seawater, oysters) but it’s also got a thin layer of chocolate, beyond the litres of mercurochrome and anything iodine-y that are invading it after just ten seconds. Also a lot of massage balm, the kind that makes you cold (mint) rather than the one that makes you warm (pepper). Oh forget… With water: sour juices, seawater, oyster juice, grapefruit juice, older kelp on a beach, and quite a lot of mercurochrome yet again. Mouth (neat): it’s a very slightly fatter one, with a touch more green pepper as well, all the rest is classic coastal CI, ridden with oysters, menthol, grapefruits and, of course, smoked kippers. Some early official C/S spring to my mind. With water: did anyone ever try to smoke grapefruits and pineapples? I mean, together? Finish: long, with many brines. Caper brine, olives… Comments: as I said we’ve known some young CIs that have been even zestier and more vertical, but this marginally fatter (oak oils) one was very brilliant too. Cheers Australia, good that the fires seem to be more under control (at time of tasting).
SGP:466 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 12 yo (59.3%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon hogshead, cask #510, 2019)

Caol Ila 12 yo (59.3%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon hogshead, cask #510, 2019) Four stars and a half
Could well be a 2007 (well done, S.) Colour: Nose: white wine. olives, Woolite, washing powder, chalk and seawater upfront. Nothing bad to say this far. With water: gets extremely chalky. Green lemons and chalk, this would make the driest sauvignon blanc nose like young PX in comparison. Mouth (neat): exactly Caol Ila, with a little more pink grapefruit and fresh almonds, and a little less mercurochrome. But it burns a bit… With water: it’s not that it would go into subtleties, but there’s always something very satisfying with very pure spirits such as this wee CI. Menthol, lemon juice, sauvignon blanc indeed, seawater, and of course, kippers. Finish: long, sharp blade-y. The fact that there may be hundreds of thousands of similar casks won’t change anything. Comments: as I just said.
SGP:366 - 88 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (51.8%, North Star Spirits, PX finish, 378 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (51.8%, North Star Spirits, PX finish, 378 bottles) Three stars and a half
Okay, I utterly love North Star Spirits and what they do (after all they’ve shipped the latest DB11 to me last year - as a gift) but a peater that’s been PX-ed is usually extremely dissonant in my book. You know, pineapple on pizza, bacon bourbon and so on. Let’s see…  Colour: straw. Nose: well, we’re more than okay, the cask was not a wham-bam first-fill PX-seasoned ‘thing’, and the Caol-Ilaness survived. Let’s say it's a slightly sweetened young CI. With water: it’s funny that the PX made this very young CI more farmyardy, but that’s actually not unseen. I’m not sure anyone could actually fine-tune PX, I rather believe it’s all more or less left to chance, usually. Mouth (neat): indeed we are okay. Some spices here and there, a handful of (rather unnecessary) raisins, and a fine CI altogether. With water: hold on, this works much better now. Seriously, this is good, cleaner, and even pretty dry. Lovely lemons coming out – and say adios to those filthy raisins! Finish: rather long, with good control of the Pedro. Lemons definitely save it in the aftertaste. Comments: In my book, PX is always a rather huge handicap (including at Glendro or at Kavalan), but the lovely young distillate handled the task just fine this time. Now I’m sure discerned PXionados will love it.
SGP:556 - 84 points.

Back to Mother Nature…

Caol Ila 12 yo 2006/2018 (51.6%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 322 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2006/2018 (51.6%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 322 bottles) Five stars
Another Limburgian bottling that I have not tried yet. Mea Culpa. Colour: white wine. Nose: this one’s more on the raw ingredients, barley, porridge, grist, yeast, then seaweed, lemons, and just fish. I’m wondering if we couldn’t quaff this on sushi… With water: utterly perfect. This is what you wanna get from your whisky: a feeling of the ingredients (I think – as long as that’s not PX, ha). Jesus bleibet meine Freude! Mouth (neat): immaculate young CI. Limoncello (so sweeter lemons), oysters, bitter almonds, white pepper, angelica, green apples… This is pristine and perfect. With water: even more perfect. Finish: long and perfect, extremely well balanced, fresh… This is the kind of malt that would go well with some foods. Like kippers or bouillabaisse, just randomly. Yeah or sushi. Comments: this one was immaculate.
SGP:466 - 90 points.

Caol Ila 2010/2018 (58.3%, Or Sileis, Legends, oloroso hogshead, cask #HL16888, 292 bottles)

Caol Ila 2010/2018 (58.3%, Or Sileis, Legends, oloroso hogshead, cask #HL16888, 292 bottles) Four stars
Looks like this was bottled by Hunter Laing for our Taiwanese friends. Colour: light gold. Nose: What’ sure is that there’s more oloroso in Jerez, Montilla-Morilles, Huelva or Malaga. Indeed this is pretty fresh and coastal, perhaps a little more citrus-driven than others, and a tad hot perhaps. Hints of flints and graphite. With water: some grass smoke, grist, floor cloth, new fabric and quite a lot of paraffin. Mouth (neat): good and fresh, salty and lemony, with just a few sourer notes, probably from the wine. Like sour cherries. Let’s say it again, I don’t think anything ‘sherry’ is really necessary with Caol Ila. With water: very good, but perhaps not as pristine as most ex-bourbon CIs. Finish: rather long, rather chalkier. Smoked and salted salmon plus lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, no quibbling here, it’s just that the 2006 was really very special.  
SGP:456 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (58.7%, Elixir Distillers ‘Magic Of The Cask’, cask #316103, refill Gonzalez Byass sherry, 308 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (58.7%, Elixir Distillers ‘Magic Of The Cask’, cask #316103, refill Gonzalez Byass sherry, 308 bottles) Four stars and a half
OK, another try at heavy-ish sherry. But I had thought Dalmore was getting all casks from Gonzalez Byass’s… Colour: gold. Nose: wool, butter cream, butterscotch, lemons, marzipan, praline and furniture polish. This is certainly not your average Caol Ila, looks like its coastalness has been toned down a wee bit. With water: reminds me of these pretty sour white beers they have in Germany. Lemon, yeasts, seawater, dough… Looks like the wine got almost annihilated now. Mouth (neat): balance has been found. Some metal polish, lemons, kippers, salty fudge, and a little smoked ham like they have at our neighbours in the Black Forrest. With water: was it fino?  Green walnuts, touches of dry cider, chalk, kippers… Where are the raisins? Not that we’ll complain, mind you. Finish: rather long, very salty. It’s almost a little margarita-y at times, but it isn’t void of any fatness. Comments: balance was right. Like 99% distillate, 1% sherry. Almost, ha.
SGP:456 - 88 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (46%, James Eadie, 1100 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (46%, James Eadie, 1100 bottles) Four stars
This baby from three casks, so supposedly better than the sum of its parts. Colour: white wine. Nose: perfect grapefruit juice, kelp, oysters, touch of vanilla, fresh almonds and chalk. Mouth: very lovely. Salty lemon juice, margarita, a drop of Cointreau (no we don’t do product placement), seawater, pink grapefruits and other softer citrus, a touch of cider. Finish: sweet peat, as some sometimes say. Comments: some very well-carved young CI at a perfect drinking strength. A tad simple, naturally, but very very very very very, and I mean very good.
SGP:456 - 87 points.

All right, here’s our 600th Caol Ila… Trumpets please, let’s make it an older one!…

WF 600

Caol Ila 37 yo 1982/2019 (56.3%, Kingsbury for Club Qing Hong Kong, butt, cask #700) Five stars
Everything in this name sounds very promising, does it not. Colour: copper. That’s not very common.

Caol Ila 37 yo 1982/2019 (56.3%, Kingsbury for Club Qing Hong Kong, butt, cask #700)

Nose: right. The exhausts of a fine-tuned shovelhead (that’s an old Harley, in case you didn’t know), some old mead, various embrocations, those old toolboxes that one would find at garage sales (obviously, S.), then quite some walnut wine, cigar smoke, a little old balsamic vinegar, chen-pi, cigars, overripe apples, old wardrobes, old books… All that is nearly poetic, surely philosophical. There. With water: a touch of new rubber, moss, dried porcinis, old Cuban cigars, herbal teas, dried mint leaves, patchouli, those sorts of things. A bit hippy, should we add (that may be the patchouli – and I mean patchouli, really). Mouth (neat): ‘good’ sulphur in good measures, really a lot of tobacco and leather, some smoked meats and fish, pemmican and beef jerky, old walnuts aplenty, more walnuts, then even more walnuts… We are, indeed, nearly in Jerez here. I really enjoy the fume-y side of it (old Harleys!) With water: more grasses, loads of green walnuts, nocino, some old liqueurs that went bone-dry, old palo cortado perhaps… Finish: long. Make sure you haven’t added too much water or it would become a little too tannic at this point. Black tea, dried lemon zests, more walnuts, tobacco, leather… Comments: not your usual old Caol Ila, as the sherry’s been pretty buoyant here. It’s actually very tobacco-y, which I personally enjoy a lot, as a former smoker (and very, very occasional cigar smoker).
SGP:464 - 91 points.

That was a very fine 600th Col Ila, expect more CI very soon. Thanks.

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

 

January 20, 2020


Whiskyfun

Around the world yet again (well, we’ll try)

Unless we get stuck somewhere, that is. That there’s more world whisky around is an understatement. Sure many are a little uninteresting (finishing in local wine? Why not, but…) while others are simply weak, sometimes thanks to unsuitable stills, but some have really managed to conquer the world of the whisky lovers.  Amongst then, a handful of Indian distilleries, the number one being Amrut in Bangalore. Great work over the years, Amrut!

Amrut ‘Amaze II’ (50%, OB for Single Malt Amateurs Club India, 120 bottles, 2018)

Amrut ‘Amaze II’ (50%, OB for Single Malt Amateurs Club India, 240 bottles, 2019) Five stars
There was an earlier Amaze for S.M.A.C. in 2018, which had been excellent (WF 89). Colour: amber gold. Nose: when ripe mangos meet some light caramel and some perfect milk chocolate, as well as some nougat, orange blossom water, and just earl grey tea. The thing is, there are also tiny floral touches emerging, especially wisteria, as well a wee cologne-y side, but naturally, that’s high-class cologne made by a proper perfumer. With water: Amrut has often displays small notes of fine bourbon in the background, in my opinion, and that’s the case here. Old Fitzgerald! Mouth (neat): grand! Caraway, violets, blood oranges, tamarind, manuka honey, and just wee touches of cloves and turmeric from the oak. With water: what’s really cool is that it does kind of taste of India, or rather soft Indian spices, some kind of creamy sauce, perhaps even roasted cashews… But careful, sometimes you shouldn’t quite trust your brain. Anyway, this is absolutely excellent. Did we mention caraway? Aniseed? Finish: medium, rather on stewed tropical fruits and the same soft spices. I should ask an Indian chef about those spices, it’s all rather complex. Comments: I hope they’re all very proud. Beyond the fact that it’s great whisky, it’s the Indianness that I find rather extraordinary, in all senses of that word. And that’s not just your brain playing tricks on you.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Since we’re at SMAC’s…

Paul John (OB, for Single Malt Amateurs Club India, cask #6028)

Paul John (OB, for Single Malt Amateurs Club India, cask #6028) Three stars
We haven't got any picture or the bottle yet so we've put a portrait of a very fine Indian gentleman who happens to know a lot about whisky instead. Colour: straw. Nose: whether some Indian peat does make sense or not doesn’t matter, after all they serve poppadums in Inverness, don’t they. What’s particularly fine here is the way that peatiness mingles with all the tropical fruits and the green curry-like notes. Granted, this is not Laphroaig 1967, but I find no dissonances, it’s just not very coastal. Forget about kelp and oysters. So let’s say some soft-smoked curry with baked bananas and papayas. Mouth (neat): this is stranger. A little sour, with a bittersweet feeling, some mint, whacky guavas perhaps, paper, and really a lot of tarragon. That’s very uncommon, we may need a reset ;-). Finish: rather long, with notes of smoked wood that remind us of some cachaças. It’s as if this was matured in some different wood, eucalyptus or else. Must be the peat. Comments: loved the nose, the palate’s maybe not really for my, well, my very Middle-european palate. It’s also true that it was in a death seat after the fantastic Amrut.
SGP:553 - 80 points.

Paul John ‘Brilliance’ (46%, OB, India, 2018)

Good, this may become very Indian… Another Paul John please…

Paul John ‘Brilliance’ (46%, OB, India, 2018) Three stars

Colour: gold. Nose: there, tarte tatin, mango jam, mirabelles, apricot pie, light honey, maple syrup, and indeed a little eucalyptus once again. Do eucalyptus trees grow around Goa? Mouth: perfect, perhaps a tad uncomplicated, but indeed, perfectly on pies and stewed fruits, mirabelles and apricots again, vanilla cream, and a little custard. Some mangos too, but I wouldn’t call this very fine baby Mr. Mango. Finish: medium, clean, fruity, easy, pretty sweet. Notes of pineapples, cinnamon pies... Comments: a rather sweeter malt whisky, well made and not too complicated. You have to like them sweet.
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Back to Amrut…

Amrut 2011/2016 (56.5%, OB, India, for Hot Malt Taiwan, PX, cask #4122, 624 bottles)

Amrut 2011/2016 (56.5%, OB, India, for Hot Malt Taiwan, PX, cask #4122, 624 bottles) Two stars and a half
Colour: red amber, copper. Nose: quite a lot of rubber, used matches, pomegranates, cherry jam, more pomegranates, grenadine, and ‘love apples’ (toffee apples). The PX is actually huge here, as if it was some cocktail. Not un-nice, having said that. With water: less sulphur, and huge bags of sultanas. This one may have altered the prices of sultanas in the whole world. Mouth (neat): more uebefortified PX than PX-ed malt. Ultra-sweet, ultra-raisiny, and simply very spectacular. With water: it is PX. Finish: long, extremely sweet and raisiny, with a leafier aftertaste. Comments: da PX bomb. Not quite for me, but I’d understand why some friends would fall in love with it.
SGP:841 - 78 points.

Quick, bourbon…

Amrut 2012/2018 ‘Chronicles’ (60%, OB, India, for La Maison du Whisky, bourbon, 660 bottles)

Amrut 2012/2018 ‘Chronicles’ (60%, OB, India, for La Maison du Whisky, bourbon, 660 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: amber. Nose: there, a feeling of chic bourbon (chic bourbon?) and pine wood, ink, carbon paper lapsang souchong, vanilla, then violets, white chocolate, mangos, tarte tatin and Ovaltine. All that works in sync, I find this beautiful. With water: fab. Cedar shavings, eucalyptus, earth, mushrooms, guavas, menthol… What a cask! Dr. Swan’s work? Mouth (neat): it’s very ‘Asian’, which is very positive in my words. You could put this into the same cluster as that of the best ex-bourbon Kavalans and Chichibus, if you see what I mean. Not talking about the wined follies here. With water: millimetric, perfect. Again, what a cask! Mangos, menthol, lemongrass, cedar… Finish: long, very fresh. Impressive. Comments: sure the cask did most of the job here, but what a cask! The very best of modern ‘wood technology’, shall we say.
SGP:641 - 89 points.

Paul John 7 yo ‘Kanya’ (50%, OB, India, 2018, 1,500 bottles)

Paul John 7 yo ‘Kanya’ (50%, OB, India, 2018, 1,500 bottles) Four stars
Looks like this one’s very expensive, what happened? Yeah, more than 200€, apparently. Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh, this is very luscious, almost decadent malt whisky. Wood technology was in action here as well, and we do get bourbon once again, or at least some boisterous American oak, with coconuts and vanilla this time. Planks ‘in a good way’, vanillin ‘in a good way’, corn syrup ‘in a good way’, and coconut water ‘in a good way’. With water: barley, oak, vanilla, bread. Mouth (neat): Indian bourbon, really. Comes complete with touches of violets and lavender, over a sea of vanilla custard, butterscotch and grated coconut. Oranges and touches of earth as well. With water: a little easier, but once again I find this more ‘bourbony’ than malty. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Finish: medium, sweet and sour, easy. Some syrup. Comments: in case you haven’t noticed, I find this very good. Indian whisky for bourbon freaks?
SGP:640 - 85 points.

PS: just saw that this was Jim M.’s Best Asian Whisky of 2018. Well then…

Amrut ‘Madeira Finish’ (50%, OB, India, 2018)

Amrut ‘Madeira Finish’ (50%, OB, India, 2018) Three stars and a half
NAS, Madeira, why not? We’ll do this quick…  Colour: apricot. Nose: no quibbling, this works. Walnuts, raisins, blood oranges, struck matches, figs. With water: some drier notes, perhaps a little mustard, ink, books… Mouth (neat): Madeira often works, I just do not know why. The powers of malvasia? Lovely mentholness, figs, tobacco, chestnuts or something… All is fine here. With water: drier. Walnuts. Finish: medium, dry, certainly on walnuts. A little white pepper and some sourer fruits. Sorb? Other smaller berries?  Comments: pretty dry. I like it, it’s pretty austere, more austere than most Amruts, in fact.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Looks like we failed, once again, since we stayed in India. To think that we were also having some very rare Swedish whisky on the tasting table! Next time...

BONUS: I think we forgot Rampur…

Rampur ‘Vintage Select Casks’ (43%, OB, India, 2019)

Rampur ‘Vintage Select Casks’ (43%, OB, India, 2019) Three stars
I’m not sure we could call Rampur ‘the third top Indian’ but I suppose we wouldn’t be too far off. Colour: gold. Nose: very fine and rather aromatic, and rather on notes of rum and overripe bananas and pineapples at first, then more on Cognac (peaches, honey, raisins). Stays on Cognac for a long time. That’s funny! More orange blossom water and tinned litchis after a good few minutes, which could be seen as even funnier.  Mouth: young Cognac really. More peach syrup, orange blossom water, Turkish delights, acacia honey, also bananas again. Finish: medium, rather drier, and rather more on… malt whisky. Comments: it’s really fine, not sure it’ll win the Nobel Prize of whisky but it’s good stuff for blind tasting. So you say Cognac?
SGP:641 - 81 points.

There's also a new Rampur in a decanter that I've already tried and that's excellent, it's just that it isn't out yet so I'll publish my note as soon as it is

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

 

January 19, 2020


Whiskyfun

Another small bunch of rums

This and that from wherever they come, really…

Caution

A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!

Espero ‘Reserva Especial’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2019)

Espero ‘Reserva Especial’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2019) one star and a half
Apparently, this one was aged in a 7 to 12 year solera. Please make up your mind! Having said, that, espero means ‘I hope’ in Spanish, so, we have… hope. Colour: pale gold. Good news, caramel’s been used sparingly. Nose: it’s very light, with notes of ethanol and even antifreeze at very first nosing, then some kind of hay juice, sour fruits, and of course, vanilla. Some aspects are pretty pleasant though (cane juice), so there’s still… hope. Mouth: extremely light and pretty sweet, but not quite cloyingly so. More sour fruits, this feeling of hay juice once again, liquorice wood, dried herbs (woodruff?), sawdust, and then more and more sugar. That rather kills the whole, sadly. Some burnt caramel that would also leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Finish: short, a little dry and dirty, cardboardy, dusty… Some unexpected aniseed in the aftertaste. Comments: dashed hope, I would say, but that was to be expected. Low-to-average quality rum, not totally terrible, probably for cocktails only. Lo espero!
SGP:630 - 67 points.

Barbancourt 8 yo ***** (43%, OB, Haiti, +/-2018)

Barbancourt 8 yo ***** (43%, OB, Haiti, +/-2018) one star and a half
Yep that would be 5 stars. This is ‘new Barbancourt’, so all ex-columns I believe, but we’ve already tried some pretty good ones, even if older Barbancourts were in a different league. Well, as far as I can tell.  Colour: gold. Nose: this nose is a bit similar to that of the Espero, so very light, a tad metallic, with some hay, vanilla and touches of cracked pepper. Nice-ish, nothing to write home about. Very ‘columny’, similar to some young Scotch grain whisky. I know, not obligatorily good news. Mouth: a good two steps over the Dominican, but it’s still too ethanoly to me, thin, grassy, almost dusty. Coffee dregs, and no sugar whatsoever. This is where you start to understand why some makers are adding sugar when a make’s a little bland. Finish: medium, with touches bananas and pears, and alcohol again in the aftertaste. Say Smirnoff. Blakc pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: very disappointing. One extra-point because of the absence of added sugar.
SGP:330 - 68 points.

Back to the Domrep, without fear…

Kirk & Sweeney 18 yo (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2019)

Kirk & Sweeney 18 yo (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2019) Two stars
Overpackaged given the pedigree and the price, bad sign. And not sure we should believe the age statement here, that’s probably the age of the oldest drop that’s ever been in the vatting tank, although we’d love to be proven wrong. Colour: amber. Nose: molasses, corn syrup, maple syrup, sultanas, vanilla and café latte. This won’t displease anyone, I’m sure. Perfect restaurant rum, shall we say. Mouth: syrup, jam, molasses honey, raisins, rubber. It’s neither Bumbu nor Don Papa, but the sugar level remains high and makes this baby had to enjoy without a pile of ice. Finish: medium, rather on coffee and chocolate, which is nicer. Quite a lot of bitter caramel in the aftertaste. Comments: for good people who cannot have an espresso without at least three sugar cubes. I do not like it much, but as they used to say after Vietnam, we’ve seen worse. With apologies to all the French and American vets.
SGP:730 - 70 points.

More serious stuff please…

Reimonenq 6 yo 2012/2018 (54%, Cave Guildive, Guadeloupe, 268 bottles)

Reimonenq 6 yo 2012/2018 (54%, Cave Guildive, Guadeloupe, 268 bottles) Four stars and a half
Reimonenq isn’t very well-known (to me, at least, even if I’ve tried a wee bunch already), even less so at the indies. Well done, Swiss friends! Colour: deep gold. Nose: burst with fresh oranges, cane juice, and rather more diesel oil, rubber and tar than usual. Wonderful whiffs of ylang-ylang. It’s an unusual Guadeloupian indeed! One with a view of Jamaica or Trinidad, I would say. With water: the honeyed firmness of a proper agricole, with a little almond oil in the background. Certainly not a light rhum! Mouth (neat): wonderful, still very unusual, both rich, fruity and silky on the one side, and tarry and estery on the other side. Big pineapples, liquorice allsorts, and engine oil. Not that we quaff engine oil every morning mind you, as we haven’t driven an old British car since… the 1980s. Ha. With water: the fruits win (pineapples, mangos, oranges) but the faint estery, tarry side remains there. Works very well. Finish: medium to long, rather more on antique herbs and fruits cordials, or Mandarine Impériale, old Cointreau and stuff... A little sugar (or litchi syrup) in the aftertaste, where does that come from? Comments: we shall call this a very good surprise.
SGP:642 - 88 points.

Port Mourant 13 yo 2005/2018 (48.5%, The Rum Mercenary)

Port Mourant 13 yo 2005/2018 (48.5%, The Rum Mercenary) Five stars
I suppose this will be very good. Love the strength too, we’ll give our pipette a rest. Colour: white wine. Nose: immaculate, on seawater, olive brine, and diesel oil. Do you really need more litterature? Of course you don’t, let’s move on… Mouth: classic fresh un-fiddled-with Port Mourant, but with something extra. We’re virtually having oysters with some olive oil, lemon juice, liquid tar, tabasco, and a good glass of bone-dry chenin from the Loire Valley. It’s getting drier and drier over time – but time is short since you cannot not down this at a good speed. Finish: long and lime-y. Green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: unquestionably one of the greatest distillates out there. Why don’t DDL rather issue this kind of un-stuffy expression? I know, because only die-hard spirit freaks like this style. Fair enough.
SGP:463 - 90 points.

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

 

January 18, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Blended malts
and other stuff
After last week’s rather ridiculous Bowmore extravagance, let’s return firmly to Terra and try to record notes for some whiskies we could actually go out and try or buy if we so desired.

 

The Scalasaig ‘Island Hopper’ (43%, 3000 bottles, 2019)

The Scalasaig ‘Island Hopper’ (43%, 3000 bottles, 2019)
A new blended malt from the folk behind the Whisky Illuminati bottlings, designed to showcase west coast and island style malts. Married together in first fill Spanish oak sherry casks. Colour: amber. Nose: the sherry strikes first with these rather nice notes of mixed nuts, leather and chocolate. Rather christmassy in fact; ideal for January. This quickly shifts towards more vigorous salty and slightly peaty tones though. Typically meaty, leafy and sooty in this modern sherried fashion. Mouth: gun flints, damp leaves, cellar earth, café latte and a rather herbal and earthy peat, which does indeed allude to some more traditional Orcadian flavours I think. Gets nicely chocolatey with salted caramel and a rather chewy texture. Quite figgy as well. Finish: medium and still on lots of chocolate, roasted nuts, earth and very light sooty peat. Comments: A good surprise this. The sherry isn’t always totally integrated, but it’s fresh and makes space for the more peaty and coastal aspects in a rather pleasing way. One for healthy sized tumblers on winter nights. And I think the 43% actually works well here.
SGP: 663 - 85 points.

 

 

Blended Malt #1 18 yo batch #3 (47.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1049 bottles)

Blended Malt #1 18 yo batch #3 (47.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1049 bottles)
A teaspooned blended malt, so pretty much a single malt really. Not sure which distillery this could be from, although we do know it is a Speyside, so… Colour: straw. Nose: starts out typically green, leafy and fruity. Classic, modern, mature, easy Speyside malt. I’m guessing Burnside (teaspooned Balvenie). Goes on with grass, sunflower oil, cereals, buttery toast and a little ripe green melon. Mouth: a little richer on arrival in the mouth than the nose would suggest. More brioche, honey, sweetened butter, runny honey and stem ginger in syrup. Very good texture and fatness with this all-pervading natural sweetness. Finish: good length, still rather sweet and syrupy with lemon curd, barley water and stone fruits. Comments: Forget about the nose, this is a pour it and swig type of whisky. You just have to have a bit of a sweet tooth I think. The kind of easy, hyper-inoffensive Speysider that almost no one could be against.
SGP: 741 - 87 points.

 

 

Vega 22 yo 1996/2019 Blended Malt (43.9%, North Star Spirits, European and American oak, 1205 bottles)

Vega 22 yo 1996/2019 (43.9%, North Star Spirits, Blended Malt, European and American oak, 1205 bottles)
The 6th edition in this rather cool and very fairly priced wee series from the excellent folk at North Star. Colour: deep gold. Nose: very savoury at first. Notes of pastry, sultanas, fruit scones, melon, apple pie and some more fresh green and garden fruits. Goes on with various honeys, nectars and pollens. Light, complex and very inviting. Mouth: an extremely easy and almost soothing delivery. All on muscovado sugar, dark fruits, toasty cereals, glazed pastry, honey, pecan nuts and wee touches of dried mint and tobacco. Rather syrupy in texture despite the lighter strength, lots of fruit cordials and jams. Finish: good length, more towards earthy tones, milk chocolate, tobaccos and dried flowers. Comments: Quite simply an excellent wee blended malt. Superbly sippable with a nice complexity and easy fruitiness.
SGP: 641 - 87 points.

 

 

Blended Scotch 38 yo 1980/2019 (44.9%, Thompson Bros, sherry cask, 490 bottles)

Blended Scotch 38 yo 1980/2019 (44.9%, Thompson Bros, sherry cask, 490 bottles)
Labelled as a blend but I have it on pretty good authority that this is in fact a blended malt. Colour: ruby amber. Nose: superbly leafy and mulchy sherry at first, strewn with blood oranges, mint tea, marmalade, kumquat and sultana. Hints of mead, chocolate, praline and well balanced earthiness that adds a little sinew alongside the rather brittle and nervous sherry. In time these notes of freshly brewed coffee get quite profound and direct. Mouth: bam! Bitter chocolate, coffee cake, walnut liqueur, pine resin, pipe tobacco and strawberry wine. Superbly leafy, mineral and fruity sherry. Extremely enjoyable. You don’t need anything further from me. Finish: long, leather, chocolatey, lightly meaty, slightly saline and rather mineral and earthy. Some cherries and other red fruits bobbing about in the aftertaste. Comments: Top notch old malt whisky from an excellent and very old school sherry cask.
SGP: 561 - 90 points.

 

 

Stop the presses…

 

 

Elements Of Islay Peat & Sherry (56.8%, Elixir Distillers for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, sherry butt, 402 bottles)

Elements Of Islay Peat & Sherry (56.8%, Elixir Distillers for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, sherry butt, 402 bottles)
This just in this afternoon. It seems remiss not to include it in this wee session. Colour: light amber. Nose: peat and sherry indeed. Bonfire smoke, smouldering wet leaves, hot beef stock, charred leather and cracked black pepper. Very direct, straightforward and pretty boisterous. Modern peat and sherry don’t often tango too well but they just about manage to avoid stepping on each other’s toes here. With water: more laid back and nicely smoky now. Kippers, tarry rope and wee nip of hot sauce. Mouth: It’s quite sweet with a rather jammy kind of peat at first sipping. Lots of hot smoke, charred wood, dry earthiness and some very salty cured meats. A rather satisfyingly syrupy texture. With water: smoky, sooty, a rather rooty and hot kind of peatiness. The sherry is perhaps a bit subservient to the peat now. Finish: pretty long, very smoky, tarry, briny and the sherry still kicking with a little dark fruit and leaf mulch. Comments: Not particularly complex, but does what it says on the tin with aplomb. If you like this kind of boisterous, clattering flavour profile I can’t really see how you would fail to be satisfied.
SGP: 477 - 84 points.

 

 

Right, bear with me for these next two. I don’t have any other Irish or NZ whiskies to make pairs but both share a similarly fruity-centric DNA in my experience and both these samples are staring at me rather intently, so… why not?

 

 

Teeling 27 yo 1991/2019 (44.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #10678, rum cask, 160 bottles)

Teeling 27 yo 1991/2019 (44.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #10678, rum cask, 160 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: Kersplat! As they say in Alsace. The word for tropical fruits falling from a great height onto a hot garden patio. Some kind of New Zealand sauvignon blanc with all these crisp notes of nettles, passion fruit, lemon peel, citric acidity and tart gooseberry. Extremely sharp, precise and exuberantly fruity. Just as we have come to expect from these old Irish. And no rum in sight thankfully enough - unless of course you include that as part of the general ‘pina colada-ness’ of the whole thing. Mouth: consistently fruity as on the nose, but also nicely bready now as well. Grapefruit, pineapple, soda bread, cereals, toast, banana chips, more gooseberry. Still extremely fresh, crisp, lively and fruity. A little honeyed sweetness and nectar easing its way in over time. Finish: long but rather light and focussed on fruit syrups, herbal teas, more banana notes and a touch of pine. Comments: Unsurprisingly excellent.
SGP: 641 - 90 points.

 

 

Willowbank 29 yo 1988/2017 (55.3%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, New Zealand, cask #47, 206 bottles)

Willowbank 29 yo 1988/2017 (55.3%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, New Zealand, cask #47, 206 bottles)
Willowbank was sadly closed around the year 2000. Colour: gold. Nose: fruity indeed, with a definite Scottish accent. It’s not quite as exotic or overt as some Irish of similar vintage, rather this is grassy, lean, citric and full of grapefruit, cedar and even hints of white truffle. It’s probably the power of suggestion, but there are elements that nod towards NZ sauvignon blanc. Although, ironically not as much as in the Teeling. With water: all on lemons and limes with touches of canvas, soft earth, dried flowers and things like putty and sackcloth. Mouth: a tad hot at first, with white pepper, aspirin, caraway and even some more unusual notes of hairspray and icing sugar. A tad rough and jagged perhaps. With water: works much better with water, there’s a rather fleshy fruitiness now with more clean grassy qualities, more aspirin, lemon peel, quinine and tart grapefruit. Finish: rather long, grassy, drying and getting surprisingly herbal with more nettles, vase water, dry cereals and even a little chilli heat. Comments: Very curious whisky that nods to several other styles; which you might also say makes it its own thing. I like it, although it is maybe more of historical interest than outright pleasure.
SGP: 561 - 86 points.

 

 

Some grains to finish I think.

 

 

Girvan 1989/2019 (51.5%, Whisky Illuminati ‘The Alba Series’, cask #167849, hogshead, 233 bottles)

Girvan 1989/2019 (51.5%, Whisky Illuminati ‘The Alba Series’, cask #167849, hogshead, 233 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: creamy coconut, buttered toast and a nicely natural cereal profile. Some high, floaty esters and an undeniably elegant sweetness with wee notes of bubblegum. Pretty pleasant I must say. With water: gets almost playfully fruity and doubles down on these kind of juicy fruit and bubblegum notes. Surprisingly good. Mouth: again this creaminess upon delivery which we shall not complain about. More coconut, gorse, creme brulee, foam banana sweets and lemon curd. Some icing sugar sweetness too. With water: butterscotch, heather, sweet coconut and some slightly artificial vanilla notes. Finish: good length and showing notes of marzipan, caramel and shortbread. Still a few confectionary notes as well. Comments: A surprisingly elegant and playful wee Girvan. Evidently from an excellent cask. Well selected!
SGP: 640 - 85 points.

 

 

Invergordon 1990/2019 (52.9%, Whisky Illuminati ‘The Alba Series’, cask #906322, barrel, 134 bottles)

Invergordon 1990/2019 (52.9%, Whisky Illuminati ‘The Alba Series’, cask #906322, barrel, 134 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: fuller but also slightly more grubby and greasy. Lacks the easy sweetness and confected fruits of the Girvan. Some dusty cereals, dry toast, cornflakes and a little sunflower oil. With water: gets a kind of jagged grassy note, like an eviscerated cactus (sorry Stefan) and also some sooty notes. Mouth: indeed this is drier, more direct, more punchy and more gravelly. There’s also a curious vegetal character underneath. Notes of cement, wood char and cooking oils. With water: more wood spice now, some caraway, cinnamon powder and more of these mixed cooking oils. Finish: surprisingly length but also rather hot, peppery and slightly aggressive. Comments: Very interesting and suggests a degree of distillate character normally absent from grains. Although, that being said, it’s a tougher customer than the Girvan.
SGP: 450 - 78 points.

 

 

Cambus 28 yo Batch 11 (47%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 435 bottles)

Cambus 28 yo Batch 11 (47%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 435 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: old custard creams that your Granny might be hiding. In fact, this is largely dominated by a rather nice, dusty biscuity quality. Notes of digestive and rich tea varieties as well. Some sweet cereals, dried leaves, coconut wafer bars and a little mint tea. Pretty nice I have to say. Mouth: nice sweetness on delivery but this one also doesn’t let you forget this is a pretty industrial spirit. It’s rather greasy, slightly fatty and with quite a few artificial sweetener flavours like quinine and foam sweets. Finish: a bit short but nicely sweet and coconutty. Comments: Easy and pleasurable grain, which you may drink without noticing so be careful.
SGP: 540 - 81 points.

 

 

Cameronbridge 39 yo Batch 7 (44.6%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 278 bottles)

Cameronbridge 39 yo Batch 7 (44.6%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 278 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: altogether richer, creamier, fatter and smoother. Grain really does need age. And what’s this! Excuse me but are these tropical fruits?! Some rather lovely fruit salad juices and modest notes of guava, papaya and pineapple. The usual banana notes as well but they’re rather more natural here, banana liqueur perhaps. Some further wee notes of caraway and old Cointreau. Mouth: like most good old grains, they leave the cask itself nowhere to hide, and this was certainly a top notch cask. Creamy, exotic, fruity, slightly fat and textural with an extremely easy sweetness. Danger juice! Finish: medium and still on things like tinned fruity syrups, runny honey and coconut cream. Comments: I feel a little dirty whenever I enjoy a grain whisky this much.
SGP: 640 - 87 points.

 

 

 

 

January 16, 2020


Whiskyfun

Our Springbanks for January

Remember we had said we’d try to taste Springbank each and every month?

Springbank 21 yo (47.5%, OB, Taiwan Edition, single cask, oloroso, 2016)

Springbank 21 yo (47.5%, OB, Taiwan Edition, single cask, oloroso, 2016) Four stars and a half
From a set of single casks that had been issued that year for several markets, including this one for Taiwan. They get a lot of good juice in Taiwan! Colour: deep gold. Nose: flints in abundance, also walnuts (naturally) and this feeling of brake fluid, but it’s a bit closed and may need some oxygen. Let’s give this baby a little time… (… you may play some stuff by Frank Zappa in your head while you wait…) Right, more walnuts, also autumn leaves and metal polish, dried porcini, some kind of grassy soot, bitter oranges… It is very Springbank, but perhaps a tad shy? Or is it me? The palate will tell. Mouth: it was me. It’s a mustardy Springbank, pretty fino-y (or is that bone dry Madeira?), peppery, with even more green walnuts now, old chardonnay, pecans, a drop of Worcester sauce maybe, more bitter oranges,  bitter herbs, rather a lot of leather, cloves, caraway… I have to say I tend to prefer either bourbon, or rounder sherry, but of course, we’re still flying pretty high. So perhaps not a stratospheric Springbank in my book, but there… Oh and could be that reduction did it a little harm, I don’t think that’s impossible. Finish: long, salty on leather, walnuts and bitter oranges. Peppery aftertaste, with some amontillado? Comments: I tried very hard but I didn’t manage to push it towards the 90-mark. But it remains brilliant whisky, no question about that.
SGP:362 - 89 points.

Springbank 25 yo 1993/2019 (52.3%, The Perfect Fifth, 1st fill sherry, cask #315, 522 bottles)

Springbank 25 yo 1993/2019 (52.3%, The Perfect Fifth, 1st fill sherry, cask #315, 522 bottles) Five stars
Some new indie bottlers in the US who have given extra-care to their packagings (although I'm not entirely sure about that big 5 - I know, just numbers anyway). Their first list looks great too, especially this wee Springbank. Colour: gold. Nose: steel, tools, walnuts and engine oil, that’s well Springbank. Then we have some menthol, a little camphor, limestone, paraffin and bitter oranges, plus some beach sand and perhaps a little chalk and fresh parsley. No complains so far (why would I), on the contrary. If this was first fill sherry indeed, it was some very well behaved sherry. With water: the nicest porridge there is (with a nip of Springbank inside). Mouth (neat): tarter, zestier, more citrusy than the OB, sharper, more a blade as we sometimes say. Does not feel like 1st fill at all but frankly, that’s all for the better in my book. Lovely lemons, oils, waxes, minerals, soot, a drop of seawater, some ointments, a little wakame perhaps (that’s at the ‘coastal’ department), marmalade, some very flinty and pretty fermentary white wines by some good folks in Jura (Ganevat and compadres)… All great and pure. Again, no wham-bam sherry in the way. With water: exactly. Almonds, lemons, seawater, wax and chalk. Finish: rather long, waxier and chalkier yet, with lemons and grapefruits in the aftertaste. That always works. Comments: exactly what we were expecting. Faultless Springbank, right up my alley.
SGP:552 - 91 points.

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

 

January 15, 2020


Whiskyfun

Time Warp session,
today Oban forty years apart

Very roughly. I remember when Oban Little Bay first came out (after – or was that before – Talisker Skye) we were all fearing NASisation would also strike Lagavulin. But they did an 8 instead, well done! Anyway, the first Little Bay was not bad at all, quite the contrary (WF 85), but now’s the time to try a newer batch, one from 2018. Nope, I’m sorry, I haven’t got anything from 2019. And then , a much older bottling, as is customary in these kinds of tastings…

Oban 'Little Bay' (43%, OB, +/-2018)

Oban 'Little Bay' (43%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
If I remember well, Little Bay is rather about refill wood, how refreshing! Colour: gold. Nose: yep, mild smoke, wee malt extracts, nutmeg, perhaps a little plywood from The Home Depot, whiffs of fern, the obligatory cinnamon… Ah yes, I remember now, it’s refill wood but those are smaller casks. Rejuvenated/recoopered? Mouth: it’s frankly Oban, rather on raisins and bitter chocolate, with some tobacco and salty mustard. Walnuts too, bitterer teas, some vegetal smoke (pine cones?) and certainly some bitter oranges. I do not know why Oban always seems to get some flak from the whiskerattis, as I for one always rather enjoyed this rather singular malt whisky. And we won’t even mention the old official 12 yos in their unlikely ‘diamond’ or ‘pear’ decanters. I think we’ll need to try those again in the coming months. Finish: rather long, just a tad too plankish at this point. In my humble opinion, it’s always in the finishes that newish or rejuvenated oaks may become an issue. Smoky aftertaste. Comments: I’m still a fan of little Oban. What’s sure is that Oban is absolutely not whisky for tourists, and that its style is maybe not as easy, or immediate, or well-defined as others. But remember what Frank Zappa used to say, ‘“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” There.
SGP:352 - 84 points.

Why not an old indie rather than an official? Not that there are many…

Oban 17 yo 1972 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, +/-1989)

Oban 17 yo 1972 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, +/-1989) Five stars
From that series that we used to coin ‘The Old Map Label’ with the Malt Maniacs, while bitterly regretting the very low strengths and, shall I add, the lethal amounts of caramel that some bottlings used to shelter. Sure some have become legendary, but frankly, G&M have seriously upped their game (and their prices, some would add) since back then. There never were any ‘good old days’, mind you – okay, perhaps in rock and roll… Colour: pale gold (so no heavy caramel). Nose: oh, this is very subtle, murmuring, whispering, with tiny smokes, tinier herbs, leaves and mosses, some orange biscuits, almonds and pistachios, some old cigarettes forgotten in a drawer, probably a few meaty touches (cured beef, bouillon), some discreet menthol and camphor, menthol cigarettes, furniture polish, dried longans, small old raisins… We’re almost perusing a small-town antique shop, see what I mean? Mouth: reminds me of the early Classic Malts. Perfect meaty and orange-y arrival, going towards various smokes, small liqueurs and salty juices, bouillons again, tobaccos, meats… I’m adding plurals to all descriptors since it’s all pretty complex, detailed, and indeed subtle. And it wouldn’t even lose too much steam. Finish: medium, much less cardboardy than others, yet pretty dry. Old teas and bitter chocolate, I would say, plus a wee bit of cured ham in the aftertaste. Comments: a marvellous complexity here. Of course, the low strength is frustrating and we could quite go north of 90. Did dear G&M ever do an Oban in their legendary CASK series? Well, they should have!
SGP:462 - 90 points.

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



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