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Tasting notes:
Whisky 9,951
Others 588

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (30) - Aberlour (79)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (
22)
An Cnoc (
18)
Ardbeg (
320) - Ardmore (57)
Arran (
62) - Auchentoshan (69)
Auchroisk (
26) - Aultmore (29)
Balblair (61) - Balmenach (31)
Balvenie (
69) - Banff (43)
Ben Nevis (
85)
Ben Wyvis (
2)
Benriach (
126) - Benrinnes (38)
Benromach (
37) - Bladnoch (54)
Blair Athol (40) - Bowmore (
346)
Braes of Glenlivet (
28)
Brora (
114)
Bruichladdich (203)
Bunnahabhain (
217)
Caol Ila (389)
Caperdonich (
73)
Cardhu (
31) - Clynelish (264)
Coleburn (
15)
Convalmore (1
8)
Cragganmore (
55)
Craigduff (3) - Craigellachie (
36)
Dailuaine (44) - Dallas Dhu (32)
Dalmore (82) - Dalwhinnie (19)
Deanston (19) - Dufftown (41)

Edradour (37)
Imperial (56) - Inchgower (33)
Inverleven (18)
Isle of Jura (79)

Kilchoman (19) - Kinclaith (7)
Kininvie
(2)
- Knockando (2
4)
Ladyburn (9) - Lagavulin (91)
Laphroaig (300) - Ledaig (65)
Linkwood (98) - Littlemill (77)
Loch Lomond (26)
Lochside (62)
Longmorn (172) - Longrow (52)

Macallan (223) - Macduff (51)
Mannochmore (2
5)
Millburn (1
7)
Miltonduff (
49) - Mortlach (111)
Mosstowie (1
7)
Scapa (34) - Speyburn (22) - Speyside (15)
Springbank (
215)
St-Magdalene (
43)
Strathisla (
80) - Strathmill (22)

Talisker (103) - Tamdhu (45)
Tamnavulin (
14)
Teaninich (
40)
Tobermory (
28) - Tomatin (95)
Tomintoul (
55) - Tormore (33)
Tullibardine (
35)
 
 
Pete and Jack


2014
August 1
July 1- 2
June 1- 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
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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
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2012
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No archives for 2002-2003

 
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The Magical History
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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August 29, 2014


Whiskyfun

Not losing an inch to Inchgower

Serge, what a crappy headline again! We’ll have an old official first, then the F&F that we’ve never tried before, then maybe a few indies for good measure. Let’s hope that they’ll be more to my liking than ‘their’ blend, which is Bell’s.

Inchgower 12 yo (40%, OB, 75cl, +/-1985)

Inchgower 12 yo (40%, OB, 75cl, +/-1985) Four stars and a half You find these for cheap at auctions, they used to be massively distributed in the 1970s and 1980s. An older version at 70proof had been rather so-so in my book (WF 74.) Colour: straw. Nose: light yet fragrant, with some hay and whiffs of vetiver, perhaps, a touch of citrus, then notes of tea and cardboard. Some kind of green earl grey tea, dried cornflower… I have to say I quite enjoy this meadowness (!). Mouth: oh, but this is excellent! We’re far from other lightish ones, this has body, zing and oomph, with a lovely combination of mint syrup, cough medicine, pastis and honeydew. A huge surprise, despite the fact that it tends to lose steam after a one minute or two. Superb herbal profile. Finish: not long, but superbly herbal, mentholated, very lively. Comments: no signs of dust or old books or cardboard in this one, it’s all very, very good. Loved the mint in it. SGP:462 - 89 points.

Good, I had thought we’d have started this with a light and even weak one. Nothing doing! It’s going to be harder for the next ones…

Inchgower 14 yo (43%, Flora and Fauna, +/-2012?)

Inchgower 14 yo (43%, Flora and Fauna, +/-2012?) Four stars Wasn’t this the last of the official Inchgowers? I don’t think the owners keep bottling this baby… Colour: straw. Nose: nothing like the old one. This is a lightish, rather hayish and barleyish malt, although it tends to develop nicely, with notes of overripe apples plus, indeed, a few herbal notes that do hint at the old one. Chamomile tea? It’s all light and even a little ‘diaphanous’. Mouth: excellent! Seriously, this is another surprise, we have a rather zesty and even slightly salty/coastal start, the whole unfolding on oranges, rhubarb, even kiwis and other very ‘nervous’ fruits. Yep, tart ones. All that plus the obligatory overripe apples. It’s only after one minute that it becomes just a wee tad cardboardy and drying. Finish: long, with unexpected notes of pineapples and even Viognier (not into wine? Google is your friend ;-)). Comments: goody good, how could I live without knowing anything about this baby, except that it existed! Lovely light style! SGP:551 - 86 points.

I had thought the indies would have killed those officials, but I’m not so sure anymore…

Inchgower 28 yo 1982/2010 (50.4%, Bladnoch Forum, hogshead, cask #6965, 242 bottles)

Inchgower 28 yo 1982/2010 (50.4%, Bladnoch Forum, hogshead, cask #6965, 242 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: light gold. Nose: we’re well in the same family, but this nose is a notch more unlikely, I’d say, with wee whiffs of soap or washing-up liquid at very first sniffs. The good news is that almonds and fruit peelings are soon to take over, together with walnuts and lemongrass. With water: much less soap – could have been the opposite indeed – but more mashed potatoes. Sweet potatoes. Mouth (neat): same impressions, a lively, citrusy start but the lemon is coated with… plastic? I also find slivovitz and quite some grapefruit skin. Fun stuff but I find it a little… too far off the beaten track, maybe. With water: greengages, ink, linseed oil. Finish: of medium length, rather cleaner and zestier. Lime and bitter herbs. Comments: a different take. Isn’t that what we’re expecting from the indies? SGP:351 - 78 points.

And while we’re in 1982…

Inchgower 1982/2011 (52.9%, Berry Bros & Rudd for La Maison du Whisky, cask #6984)

Inchgower 1982/2011 (52.9%, Berry Bros & Rudd for La Maison du Whisky, cask #6984) Five stars With the lovely ‘retro’ label. Colour: light gold. Nose: listen, this is going to be easy. Just read my notes for the previous one again and replace soap with wax and washing-up liquid with almond oil. You may add a fistful of the blackest earth from a great garden. Mouth: same. It’s one of the most citrusy and zesty drams I’ve tried. Citron liqueur? Lemon curd? And there’s plenty of beeswax as well. Long story short: it’s great. Very oily mouth feel, you almost need a spoon to get it out of your glass.  Finish: same. Like the waxy feeling a lot. Comments: pretty impressive. Why haven’t I tried it right when it came out, three years ago?  SGP:561 - 90 points.

Hmm, how about a sister cask?...

Inchgower 29 yo 1982/2011 (54.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #6967)

Inchgower 29 yo 1982/2011 (54.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #6967) Five stars Colour: nose. Nose: we’re obviously in similar, if not identical territories, but this one’s both a little less fruity and a little more medicinal and even coastal, with obvious whiffs of iodine (and tincture of iodine.) Ex-old Laphroaig cask? I’m joking, it’s well known that Inchgower can be a little coastal. After all, the distillery’s a few blocks from the sea. With water: some neat and sweet vanilla coming out, drops of triple-sec… Mouth (neat): outstanding – and very similar to cask #6984, except that once again, this one has more menthol, cough medicine and ‘a saltiness’. Brilliant. With water: all great. Earthy tarty fruits and eucalyptus lozenges. This one will keep the doctor away around Christmas! Finish: long, medicinal and zesty, with an utterly perfect balance. Comments: as they say, great stuff. Just the right amount of oak influence – that is to say rather little. SGP:651 - 91 points.

Inchgower 33 yo 1980/2013 (52.6%, Malts of Scotland for W-D info, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 13069, 189 bottles)

Inchgower 33 yo 1980/2013 (52.6%, Malts of Scotland for W-D info, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 13069, 189 bottles) Four stars This one was bottled exclusively for my friends at the ‘French forum’, that is to say whisky-distilleries.info and its webmaster the very excellent Jean-Marie Putz. Colour: dark amber. Nose: it’s true that the sherry and the gunpowder that comes with this type of cask are filtering out a part of the fruitiness that was to be found in the 1982s, but on the other hand, they dance well together. All that means more cigars, leaves, cured ham, damp earth and just hints of truffle oil. With water: it became very tertiary, between a very old balsamic vinegar and a high-end sangria (perhaps.) Mouth (neat): the zesty fruits are having the upper hand this time, and that fruitiness is rather unusual, that is to say more tropical, so to speak. Tamarind, cranberries, overripe papayas… Fun palate, very faintly sour, not unlike some eaux-de-vie. Also the obligatory raisins. With water: works a treat. It became smoother, with more fresh fruits, raisins, dates… and a drop of sangria. Olé! (oh come on, S.!) Finish: of medium length, very fruity, fresher than expected. A lovely aftertaste on ripe peaches. Comments: loved the ripe peaches. This baby loves water, which isn’t always the case with heavily sherried whiskies. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Very good, let’s try to find an even older one to call it a proper tasting session. Oh, I might have found something… A total and insane beast!

Inchgower 35 yo 1966/2001 (67.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #18.15, 'curry powder and dark rum')

Inchgower 35 yo 1966/2001 (67.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #18.15, 'curry powder and dark rum') Four stars and a half That’s right my friend, thirty-five years of age and a whopping 67.5% vol. A kind of record, I guess. Was the cask stored right under the roof? Filled at 70% vol.? Was it totally watertight? All of that? In any case, wish me luck… Colour: dark red amber. Nose: good one, this is rum. I’m serious, this baby noses just like an old Port Mourant or something. Now I get it, this cask was matured in Guyana! But it’s so strong that I don’t think it’s quite safe to ‘deep nose’ it, so… With water: the beast became as meek as a lamb. Cigarette tobacco, earl grey tea, a touch of plasticine, raisins, fresh mint, celery, lemongrass… It’s almost gentle! Mouth (neat): sweet Vishnu, what a powerhouse! English-style rum, check, curry powder, check, polished wood, check, tar, check, liquorice, check, punch in your face, check… With (a lot of) water: almost perfect. Same aromas as in the nose when reduced, tobacco, teas, herbs, dried fruits, a little aniseed… Granted, the sherry was big, and I doubt the distillate has much to tell us, but it all works perfectly. Finish: I like finishes where fresh fruits take over, which is the case here. Oranges, lemons, maybe one or two green grapes… More cocoa powder and bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: no it isn’t absolutely perfect, but that was close. Great uebermonster - and what a ride! SGP:661 - 89 points.

Session over.

(With heartfelt thanks to Angus, Denis, Olivier, and Tobias)

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

 

 

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August 28, 2014


Whiskyfun

You say Tomatoe, I say Tomatin…

We’re all well aware of the brilliance of many an old Tomatin, but younger ones have always been a little more, say unnoticed. Let’s try the newish official 12 years old, and then maybe two or three independents.

Tomatin 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2014)

Tomatin 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2014) Three stars Last time I tried the 12 years old that was the former black label, in 2008. I had found it rather okay (ish) and gave it 77 points (not that scores are important, I agree.) Colour: light gold. Nose: no fruity burst at first nosing, I rather find mashed potatoes and a little sour wood, then porridge and overripe fruits (apple for sure.) Maybe a tiny spoonful of cooked cabbage? The good news is that after just four or five minutes, things do improve, with more fresh fruits (oranges) and a pleasant maltiness. The cabbage is gone. Mouth: light, mellow and candied, I cannot not think of some good blend. Orange liqueur, pastries, a touch of maple syrup and a few raisins, plus a little chocolate. Touches of sweet sherry. Finish: short but clean and raisiny. A little strawberry jam. Comments: I think it really improved. It’s easy, it’s flawless, it’s well composed, and one could quaff litres… forget, glasses of it. My exact definition of a 80-pointer. SGP:531 - 80 points.

Tomatin 17 yo 1997/2014 (48.3%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead)

Tomatin 17 yo 1997/2014 (48.3%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead) Four stars Very nice colour, this one should be totally au naturel. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: I really like to be so close to the distillate, provided it’s not immature. That’s not the case at all here, as it comes with lovely notes of cut apples, a touch of smoke (garden fire), mashed sweet potatoes and even pumpkins, then more green apples, rhubarb and lemons. A touch of engine oil as well, all for the better. Oh and mangos. Great nose, really complex and totally spirit-driven. Mouth: perfect! Ultra-clean, with a perfect tempo, blending fresh fruits, cereals and a few tiny phenolic/tertiary notes. Fresh malted barley, oranges, a little marzipan, cut apples, some candy sugar, papayas… Finish: medium length. Loses steam a bit, becoming slightly spirity. Funny notes of Turkish delights in the aftertaste. Or Gewurztraminer. Comments: all very good, it just lost one or two points because of the finish that was a tad ‘hot’. SGP:641 - 85 points.

Oh well, we could as well also have an older one, don’t you agree?

Tomatin 1966/2002 (48%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #14364)

Tomatin 1966/2002 (48%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #14364) Four stars and a half A sherried version according to the colour. Colour: red amber. Nose: sangria! I mean, the spirit’s trademark fruitiness blended with the sherry and the wood’s spices and herbs make it rather Spanish indeed, and that works pretty well because it’s a clean and even fresh combo. Blood oranges are in the front, then we have a touch of parsley and mint, then raisins and dried figs. And then the sweet wine, old barrels, mushrooms and cured ham. Iberico, of course. In a way, I even feel it’s akin to some rather pruny red Rioja. Mouth: much in line, but the oak’s a notch too loud now, while the sherry became extreme, around concentrated Seville (serious) orange juice. Love the chocolate, though, the menthol, the liquorice and all this cinnamon. Prune and cinnamon cake, marinated in cream sherry. No that’s not heavy, not at all. Finish: long, spicy, mentholated. Drying aftertaste, the wood speaks out. Not unlike eating raw cocoa powder. Comments: it’s quite extreme, but it’s also rather spectacular. I like it, and cannot not notice that quite a few Glenfarclas used to taste almost the same. SGP:561 - 88 points.

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

 

 

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August 27, 2014


Whiskyfun

Macallan 18 years old,
four steps to sherriness

We could have named this session ‘sherry si or sherry no.’ Oh forget about that…

Macallan 18 yo 1991/2010 (55.3%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #9714, 288 bottles)

Macallan 18 yo 1991/2010 (55.3%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #9714, 288 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: starts very grassy and acrid, without any roundness. Plenty of soaked grains, porridge, cut grass and leaves, with some new sawdust as well. Very little fruits that I can detect at this point, it seems to be a very austere Macallan. With water: a few fruits now, such as small morello cherries, perhaps. Also tons of barley – well, rather one kilo of course. Mouth (neat): it’s almost newmake, with these notes of apple juice, grapefruits, pears and bubblebum. An obvious feeling of kirsch or other plum spirits, and even touches of soap and paraffin. A little hard, I have to say. With water: same, and the grassy side grew even bigger. Finish: rather short, grassy, narrow. Comments: one of these rather disappointing independent Macallans that used to abound a few years back, in my opinion. SGP:361 - 77 points.

Another chance…

Macallan 18 yo 1990/2010 (54.1%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #18222, 240 bottles) Four stars This one used to be issued at the same time as the 1991, in January of 2010. Colour: full gold. Nose: another paradigm. Granted, the austere leafiness remains, but everything’s ampler, with some polished oak, orange blossom, marzipan, cedar wood, wax polish and just touches of calvados. It’s powerful, but one can feel that there’s some depth below the surface. With water:  lovely notes of fino, vin jaune, walnuts and almonds come out. Also orgeat and whiffs of ‘old musty wine cellar.’ Mouth (neat): exactly the same feeling, it’s a deeper, more complex version  of the 1991. There’s more oak, obviously, but also more fruits and spices. Pepper and marzipan plus orange liqueurs and nutmeg. The pepper (white) is very noticeable. With water: more marmalade and more white pepper. Finish: of medium length. Spice mix (aniseed, cinnamon, nutmeg, white pepper.) Comments: maybe not as grand as the grandest Macallans, but excellent – if you enjoy oak spices in your whisky. SGP:461 - 85 points.

Yet another chance with another 18 yo by DT? Here you go…

Macallan 18 yo 1987/2006 (58.4%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, sherry, cask #9794, 271 bottles) Four stars and a half Full sherry this time! Not too sure the others weren’t ex-sherry as well, but in that case that was refill. Colour: amber (indeed.) Nose: ah yes, this is more like it and we’re not far from the older official ‘CS’. I remember the ‘added red stripe’. Beautiful combination of fruitcake, fudge, raisins, marmalade and cigars. Also a little coffee and chocolate. With water: we’re all on raisins and honey now. Three tons of sultanas. Mouth (neat): excellent arrival, powerful, citrusy, very fruity, with a fat mouth feel. Many jams (quince, orange, mirabelles), honey, raisins (huge notes of raisins again!) and then our spices, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. Classic. With water: water may work a little les on the palate, it brings a very minor soapiness out, even after having waited for a good ten minutes. Finish: rather long, extremely raisiny, with a perfect spiciness in the aftertaste. Comments: not exactly a sherry monster but it’s classic Macallan. I mean, Macallan from those days… SGP:551 - 88 points.

Speaking of which…

Macallan 18 yo 1996/2004 ‘Sherry Oak’ (43%, OB)

Macallan 18 yo 1996/2014 ‘Sherry Oak’ (43%, OB) Four stars It’s the latest batch of the well-known and now very expensive 18yo ‘sherry’. It’s actually not pure 1996, as it says ‘1996 and earlier years.’ I had found last year’s 1995 very excellent (WF 89.) Colour: amber. Nose: feels like home. It’s probably not as deep and complex as the pre-1980 vintages, and certainly more focused on fruitcake and toffee, but indeed it’s a lovely nose. Glazed chestnuts, honey sauce, touches of fennel or dill, dried porcinis, cigars, toasted brioche and, yeah, sultanas. Really a perfect nose, and the 43% vol. make it pleasantly approachable, in both senses of the word. Mouth: it’s a little narrow, perhaps, less majestic and ample than the old ones for sure, and maybe a little too toffee-ed and malty (Ovaltine-malty.) Raisin-filled chocolate, praline, butterscotch. The mouth feel is perfect, though. Finish: good length, spicy and toffee-ish. Peppered fudge. Comments: very, very good, of course, I’m just missing a little more complexity on the palate. But as they say, ‘it does what it says on the tin.’ SGP:551 - 87 points.

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

 

 

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August 26, 2014


Whiskyfun

Ledaig, the sequel

We’re back with Ledaig, but we’ll be careful and just have a handful this time. Those 2005s were all great, but my god it was tiring…

Ledaig 1997/2013 (56.8%, Gordon & MacPhail for The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry, cask #465)

Ledaig 1997/2013 (56.8%, Gordon & MacPhail for The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry, cask #465) Four stars and a half Bwah, what an awful pedigree! Colour: bronze gold. Nose: what is this? Balsamico and exhaust fumes? Together? Horse sweat and tangerine liqueur? A box of old Cubans and kippers? Seville oranges and 36-month-old Comté cheese? A lot of unlikely pairings, but quite magically, the whole works well, apparently. Serendipity, again? Water will tell us more… With water: more of all that. I’d call it greatly flawed. Mouth (neat): I’ve never tried something like this. It’s huge, and it’s ridden with heavy oak, heavy brine, heavy tobacco, heavy smoke, heavy medicinal herbs and heavy spices. Could be oak-aged absinth. The jury’s still out, I’d say... With water: I don’t know. Smoked, salted and honey-glazed cuttlefish, perhaps? Bwah indeed. Finish: very long and kind of gentler. Kind of. Comments: I can imagine the good people at The Whisky Exchange have selected this baby on a Friday night, after work, while laughing their heads off. The problem is that we desperately need funny – or at least interesting - whiskies these days, as many new ones are good, but simply boring. So, that’ll be… SGP:477 - 88 points (did I mention that I liked it a lot?)

Man, we won’t go very far today, that panzer of a malt was worth ten other whiskies. All right, let’s select two Ledaigs by two brothers, and we’re done.

Ledaig 20 yo 1993/2013 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, 162 bottles)

Ledaig 20 yo 1993/2013 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, 162 bottles) Two stars and a half Yep, Hunter is Stewart while Douglas is Fred. Colour: white wine. Nose: very phenolic, sooty and tarry, with even notes of diesel oil, but there’s also a flabbier fruitiness in the background. Overripe apples and pears aplenty, not always a good thing. I also think it’s a little feinty, and I have to say most Ledaigs from the early 1990s had that in my book. Notes of beer and notes of tequila. Belgian Gueuze, malt extract. Not quite my kind of nose. With water: all gone, it’s become as clean as a vanilla cake from Vanilla Cakes’. Very little peat. What’s the trick? Mouth (neat): it seems that the oak did its job better on the palate, as we’re finding a welcome vanilla (I had never thought I’d ever write that), some caramel (Werther’s stuff) and nice notes of cappuccino. The yeasty smokiness is tamed. With water: sweet and rounded, it could almost be a Speysider. Notes of newish oak. Finish: medium length, sweet, barleyish and caramely. A touch of mint-flavoured liquorice. Comments: not quite my kind, but it’s got interesting sides. Water is needed. Little peat, rather more Tobermory than Ledaig. SGP:342 - 78 points.

Ledaig 21 yo 1993/2014 (50.9%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask ref #DL10263, 288 bottles)

Ledaig 21 yo 1993/2014 (50.9%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask ref #DL10263, 288 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: very different, while it’s obviously a sister cask. This one’s much sharper, bigger and weirdly medicinal, with a lot of antiseptic and then more paint thinner. Less feinty than the OMC, but kind of chemical instead, I wouldn’t say that’s any nicer. Same kind of beerish notes after a few minutes, yeast… Where are our good young 2005s? With water: this time it’s some caramely oak that’s coming out. And coconut balls. Another miracle. Mouth (neat): oh that’s funny, both whiskies have become almost identical on the palate. Werther’s Originals and Starbuck’s hazelnut-flavoured coffee. Oh and vanilla. With water: more lemon coming out this time, for the better. Same with earth. Finish: same as the Hunter Laing. Undistinguishable. Comments: I think I liked this one a notch better, it’s a little firmer. SGP:243 - 79 points.

A good example of a whisky that’s much better when younger, but that, I think has got nothing to do with age, it’s all a matter of quality of distillate. Ledaig massively improved.

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August 25, 2014


Whiskyfun

Ledaig

Could someone please tell me why Ledaig, aka peated Tobermony, can be very good and mature when pretty young, while most peaty Islayers, especially the Kildalton malts, need more years? Today let’s have a few 2005, and then we may go back in time…

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2013 (46%, Hunter Laing, Hepburn's Choice, 382 bottles)

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2013 (46%, Hunter Laing, Hepburn's Choice, 382 bottles) Four stars Colour: as white as the whitest white wine. Nose: now I know, it’s the mezcaly side that I enjoy so much. This feeling of smoked brine or seawater, the thick layer of soot and ashes, the impression that you’re wandering on an old pile of coal in an abandoned basement… So, I like despite the rather minimalist profile. Mouth: it’s a little dirtier and ‘organic’, much less precise and even kind of burnt. Burnt fruits and wood. Also some weird notes of overcooked smoked ham – or sausages? A pity because what’s behind all that seems to be great. Brine, lemon, sardines… Wait, the nasty notes went away after ten minutes, hurray! Finish: quite long, rather on burnt herbs this time. Good burnt herbs. The aftertaste is nicer, though, cleaner. Comments: a bit nasty at first, but fun and it got cleaner. And mezcaly indeed. Mezcal on Mull! SGP:365 - 85 points.

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2014 (53.3%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon hogshead)

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2014 (53.3%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon hogshead) Four stars Colour: very white wine. Nose: very similar, of course, but this one’s rather rounder, and has fewer notes of smoky mezcal. Big soot, ashes, coal, tar, crushed sardines (paste), tarama… And a little vanilla. With water: stays a bit soapy for a long time, and then everything gets better again. Smoked vegetables, gherkins, olives and a massive sootiness. Mouth (neat): everything’s perfect in this one. Perfect brine, lemon juice, smoked fish, olives, smoked tea, more lemon juice… With water: balanced lemon, salt and kippers. What’s not to like? Finish: same for a long time. Comments: it’s infuriating that these Ledaigs could be so good when so young. That’s both unjust and unfair. Oh well… But watch out, I’ve found some flawed ones as well in the past. SGP:456 - 87 points.

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2013 (54.2%, Maltbarn, bourbon barrel)

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2013 (54.2%, Maltbarn, bourbon barrel) Four stars Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: and sweeter yet, even if styles are similar. This time there are fruits coming through, around pineapples and pears. That’s youth. The problem, if I may, is that they are blending extremely well with the briny and ashy and smoky style of this baby. With water: not anymore, this one’s now greasier, sootier, with notes of damp earth and our dear friends the wet dogs (I’m sorry, dogs.) Mouth (neat): check the Whisky-Fässle, we’re in the same ballpark. With water: great, very clean, perhaps narrow, but yeah, that adds to the cleanliness. Finish: long and good (bravo, S.!) Comments: that’s the problem with this kind session, it can be tiring. SGP:446 - 87 points.

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2013 (54.5%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead, cask #800015, 149 bottles)

Ledaig 8 yo 2005/2013 (54.5%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead, cask #800015, 149 bottles) Four stars Colour: very white wine. Nose: very similar, of course, but this one’s rather rounder, and has fewer notes of smoky mezcal. Big soot, ashes, coal, tar, crushed sardines (paste), tarama… And a little vanilla. With water: stays a bit soapy for a long time, and then everything gets better again. Smoked vegetables, gherkins, olives and a massive sootiness. Mouth (neat): everything’s perfect in this one. Perfect brine, lemon juice, smoked fish, olives, smoked tea, more lemon juice… With water: balanced lemon, salt and kippers. What’s not to like? Finish: same for a long time. Comments: that’s right, I’ve shamelessly copied-and-pasted my notes for the Whisky-Fässle, both whiskies being almost identical. Not saying it’s the same cask of course. SGP:456 – 87 points.

Ledaig 2005/2013 (62.8%, Archives, hogshead, cask #900092, 227 bottles)

Ledaig 2005/2013 (62.8%, Archives, hogshead, cask #900092, 227 bottles) Four stars and a half Probably rocket fuel, what do you think? Colour: white wine (so darker than the others.) Nose: smoky mercurochrome and that’s almost all. That’s the high strength. Quick… With water: diesel oil and wet dogs (we’ll have to talk, dogs.) And plenty of tar, some sides remind me of very young Port Ellens (Scottish Wildlife, Corsini et al.) New leatherette. Mouth (neat): ultra-strong and mega-simple, but absolutely brilliant. A feeling of salted and smoked lemon-flavoured marshmallows, perhaps. Covered with minced almonds, perhaps. And then barbecued. But it’s very strong… With water: water brings out oils, which comes unexpected. Basil infused in olive oil. Finish: very long, very salty, and as oily as if you had just eaten a spoonful of oil. Comments: I guess we could call this baby ‘a fat whisky’. Spectacular mouth feel. SGP:357 - 88 points.

I am sorry, I had planned to go down to the 1990s and even the 1970s, but this is too tiring, so I think I’ll give up for now. These Ledaigs are all great (no duds this time) but they’re too similar in this context. Bad line-up, bad idea. My bad.

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

 

 

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August 24, 2014


Whiskyfun

The Quest for Malternatives on Sunday, a bunch of older rums

Well, at least there are suggestions that these rums are old, but thanks to the ‘solera’ trick (remember, what looks like the age may just be when a solera was started), the use of sugar and possibly heavy colouring and flavouring, some of them may well be much younger than they look…

Bally 1998 (43%, OB, rhum agricole, Martinique, +/-2013)

Bally 1998 (43%, OB, rhum agricole, Martinique, +/-2013) Four stars I liked the 2000, but I did not find it stellar (WF 78). Maybe two more years?... Colour: gold/orange. Nose: it’s a rather smooth and rounded agricole, but the style remains obvious, with many stewed sour fruits, apples, apricots, plums… Quite a lot of dry caramel too, some kind of light peat smoke, certainly a few cigars and then more incense. It’s fragrant and firm at the same time, with an ‘artisan’ feeling. Kind of anti-smooth, which is greatly welcome. After five minutes, you’d think you’re nosing a new pack of liquorice rolls. Mouth: very, very agricole. Heavy herbs, heavy liquorice, salmiak, roots, ginger and a little tar. No sugariness, hurray! This starts well, for once… Perfect body, tastes more like 46 or even 50% vol. Finish: very long, very liquoricy and pretty salty. A slight feeling of tequila. Comments: truly a big, full-bodied agricole. Liquorice abounds. I like it much, much better than the 2000. SGP:542 - around 85 points.

Centenario 25 yo 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, rum, Costa Rica, +/-2013)

Centenario 25 yo 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, rum, Costa Rica, +/-2013) Two stars Not much luck with the famous Centenarios so far, so let’s try this older one. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: it’s rather dusty at first nosing, then we have some cocoa powder, banana skin and… not much else. The Bally might have killed it, but I find it flat and un-aromatic, so to speak. Mouth: it’s one of these very sweet, liqueury and honeyed ones. Orange liqueurs and ripe mangos, plum jam, tinned fruits and more honey. Not much oomph either. Finish: rather short, with a little more coffee beyond the liqueurs. The sugar feels. Comments: it’s probably good stuff, but I’m sure it’s not my style. Too flat and sugary for me. SGP:820 - around 71 points.

All right, another go, with an even older Centenario. But remember these are ‘solera years’, so probably – not too sure – rather the age of the older constituent than that of the youngest.

Centenario 30 yo 'Edicion Limitada' (40%, OB, rum, Costa Rica, decanter, +/-2013)

Centenario 30 yo 'Edicion Limitada' (40%, OB, rum, Costa Rica, decanter, +/-2013) Two stars Colour: orange amber. Nose: a dustiness coming out again, then more fragrant notes than in the 25. Roses, litchis (gewürztraminer style), orange blossom water… Quite some praline too, roasted hazelnuts, toasted brioche… It’s rather delicate and subtle, but the dustiness is a handicap. Mouth: another Centenario, another liqueur. We’re close to the 25 now, but it seems that there’s even more sugar, honey, maple syrup, caramel and various liqueurs. Maybe a few drops of pomegranate liqueur? What’s rather nice is this citrusy side that keeps it kind of alive. Blood oranges? Finish: rather short, very sweet. More liqueur. Comments: I liked this sweet bomb a little better than the 25, but again and again, this is absolutely not my style of spirit. Too much sugar. SGP:820 - around 72 points.

While we’re having some supposedly old ones…

Cubaney 25 yo 'Tesoro' (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2013)

Cubaney 25 yo 'Tesoro' (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2013) Two stars More ‘solera age’. This is probably not ’25 anos’, as it says ’25 anos solera’ in small letters. Tiring. Luckily that wouldn’t be allowed in Scotchland! (or they would do it too.) Oh and Cubaney it may be, but it’s not Cuban. As for the 38% vol., don’t get me started. Colour: amber. Nose: it’s okay. Milk chocolate, honey sauce, vanilla, brioche, orange liqueur, molasses, menthol (a little.) We’ve seen worse. Mouth: yes it’s okay. A little flat but okay. Maple syrup, praline, caramel and cane syrup. Oops, almost forgot orange liqueur. And sugar. Finish: shortish, sugary, chocolaty. Pleasant honeyed notes. Comments: no interest whatsoever. Okay but boring and weakish. Pass. Okay? Nice label, though… SGP:720 - around 70 points.

Let’s go on. More supposedly old rum, and maybe more masochism…

Barceló 30 yo 'Imperial' (43%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2013)

Barceló 30 yo 'Imperial' (43%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2013) Two stars and a half Partly finished in Yquem casks. Erm, rings a bell. One of the kitschiest bottles I’ve seen – but the juice might be good, of course. And I’m sorry, but I feel the urge to copy-and-paste from the brand’s website: “The Barceló Imperial Premium Blend 30 Aniversario is the result of the marriage of ancient reserves of the Imperial to the noble cuts of American white oak barrels and the barrels of Chateau D'Yquiem, prestigious wine cellar with more than four centuries of history. These reserves accentuate the virtues most appreciated by connoisseurs who have recognized our laureate rum, as the best in the world, and it is then, with the elaboration of this 30th Anniversary, that is reached the exuberant nobility, exceptional taste, strength, complexity and high quality that characterizes this limited production.” Aren’t we stunned? Colour: red amber. Nose: not much. Mushrooms, perhaps. Moss, humus, wet grass, half a cigar, burnt caramel, toasted oak, roasted chestnuts… But wait, this is quite nice! Also broken branches, fresh walnuts, a hint of eucalyptus… It’s all rather subtle and elegant. Not big, but elegant indeed… Mouth: yes it’s pretty good rum, in my opinion. There’s some sugar but it’s not the first thing that jumps onto your tongue, there’s also more subtle touches of mint, liquorice, banana skins, chocolate ganache and, once again, roasted chestnuts that make it all quite pleasant. But there isn’t much body…  Finish: short, a little more burnt and cooked. And the mushrooms are back. Dried porcinis? Comments: I’d drink it, that’s all I can say. But it’s light rum… SGP:630 - around 79 points.

A last one, maybe one that would be more… interesting?

Demerara 23 yo 1989/2012 (45%, Rum Nation, Guyana)

Demerara 23 yo 1989/2012 (45%, Rum Nation, Guyana) Four stars Rum Nation is Wilson & Morgan’s sister brand. In my experience, whisky bottlers do the better rums. Colour: red mahogany. Nose: yes! Sends all these hyper-branded old-solera-aged rums back to the school of sugar cane. It’s heavy, it’s fat, it’s ridden with tar, liquorice, tapenade, ink, engine oil and it’s just brilliant. As expected. Mouth: perfect Demerara, full of flaws and full of fun. Heavy liquorice again, brine, black olives, prunes, tar, fruitcake, smoked things, big black raisins (Corinth?) and smoked fish. You may add a quarter of black bitter chocolate. Finish: very long, oily and olive-y, with raisins and more smoked fish. Sea urchins? Sherry. The aftertaste is unexpectedly grapey and raisiny, so probably x-sherry. Comments: great heavy Demerara, pretty extreme despite the very ‘fair’ strength. Beats them all today. SGP:663 - around 87 points.

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August 22, 2014


Whiskyfun

A few Glendronach
including the new Tawny

Let’s have a few more of the very successful Glendronachs. We’ve been chatting with a friend the other day, and the fellow was wondering why the brand was so successful, precisely, beyond the style and the quality of their whiskies. One reason we have been considering was that Glendronach and its sister distilleries were looking and sounding probably rather less ‘arrogant’ than other names in Scotland. Whatever that means…

Glendronach 18 yo 'Tawny Port Finish' (46%, OB, 2014)

Glendronach 18 yo 'Tawny Port Finish' (46%, OB, 2014) Two stars and a half Obligatory disclaimer: I’m not a big fan of Port in my whisky and I don’t really like my drams to be… pink. Colour: not pink, rather apricoty/salmony. What we call ‘onion skin’ in wine. Nose: the vinosity is huge. This is like nosing rosé de Provence, almost, which goes well with the colour. Raspberries all over the place, whiffs of peonies, a little bubblegum… A very funny, very fresh and fruity nose, but we’re quite far from malt whisky. Agreed, not obligatorily a problem… Now the malt comes out after five minutes, while the fruits are fading away. Mouth: same feeling, starts very sweet, with a grassy maltiness covered with raspberry jelly and blood orange juice, cranberries, pomegranates… and becomes maltier after a few minutes, with some green spices, some ginger, a touch of horseradish… All that gives it a kind of sourness. Finish: of medium length, rather green, rather mustardy. Chlorophyll. Comments: indeed I’m not a huge fan of this rather chancy dram (in my opinion) but I guess the market needs variety. But it’s not a bad whisky at all, of course not. SGP:661 - 79 points.

And now a different beast…

Glendronach 40 yo 1971/2011 (47.5%, OB, PX Sherry puncheon, cask # 1248, 545 bottles)

Glendronach 40 yo 1971/2011 (47.5%, OB, PX Sherry puncheon, cask # 1248, 545 bottles) Five stars We’ve already tried a handful of sister casks, all ex-PX puncheons. I tend to prefer oloroso, but they were all to my linking. Colour: dark amber. Nose: starts appropriately varnishy and even solventy, but that should go away. And does go away. And then, we experience an avalanche of red berries, rich black pipe tobacco, prunes, strawberry jam, chocolate, juicy raisins and, indeed, old Pedro Ximenez. Touches of cloves and aniseed in the background. Mouth: extremely rich, prune-y and chocolaty. Plum jam, soft liquorice rolls, a spoonful of raspberry liqueur, blackcurrants, marmalade, a touch of some kind of sweet curry sauce, black raisins, coffee-schnapps… All rich and good, even if it tends to become a tad grapey. Finish: quite long, still very rich, but not exactly cloying. Liqueur-filled chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: no wonder this baby did so well at the Malt Maniacs Awards in 2011. A 1972 oloroso smashed it (no wonder), but it still won very solid gold. SGP:651 - 91 points.

Now let’s try some un-sherried Glendronach…

Glendronach 22 yo 1977/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 252 bottles)Three stars From Douglas Laing’s first years as bottlers of single malt. Colour: white wine. Nose: very interesting! This natural Glendronach is a rather oily and pretty mineral spirit, displaying notes of candle wax, sunflower oil, then rather sweet barley, cereals and hay. I quite enjoy this very, arr, err, natural style that’s rather less ‘emphatically fruity’ than other malts. Touches of earth and almonds coming out after a few minutes, all for the (even) better. Mouth: maybe more MOTR. A very faint smokiness plus some wax again, the whole being slightly graphite-y and even inky. Apples and almonds again. Oily mouth feel. Finish: quite long, very barleyish. Comments: goody good. Not stellar but goody good in my opinion. It’s just not very memorable. SGP:452 - 82 points.

… And probably a sister cask…

Glendronach 1977/2001 (53.2%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #3718) I remember very vividly the superb 1970 that the SSMC had around the same years (WF 92). Colour: straw. Nose: same whisky as the DL, almost exactly, aroma for aroma. Same waxy, slightly austere nose. Same with water. Mouth: and same palate. Even the extra-3.2% don’t make for any differences. They just impart a little more sweetness, which goes away when water’s added. Maybe touches of pineapples? Finish: same. Maybe this one’s a notch zestier, more lemony. Comments: same comments. Okay, one more point because of the drops of lemon that I found after I had added water. SGP:452 - 83 points.

Glendronach 1977/2001 (53.2%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #3718) Three stars and a half I remember very vividly the superb 1970 that the SSMC had around the same years (WF 92). Colour: straw. Nose: same whisky as the DL, almost exactly, aroma for aroma. Same waxy, slightly austere nose. Same with water. Mouth: and same palate. Even the extra-3.2% don’t make for any differences. They just impart a little more sweetness, which goes away when water’s added. Maybe touches of pineapples? Finish: same. Maybe this one’s a notch zestier, more lemony. Comments: same comments. Okay, one more point because of the drops of lemon that I found after I had added water. SGP:452 - 83 points.

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August 21, 2014


Whiskyfun

Three fresh newish Balvenie

There’s a new 15 years old, but this time it’s ex-sherry. Let’s try it, together with too worthy compadres (not tasters, whiskies.)

Balvenie 12 yo 'DoubleWood' (40%, OB, +/-2013)

Balvenie 12 yo 'DoubleWood' (40%, OB, +/-2013) Three stars I like to follow the DW year after year, because I’ve always found it ‘average’, in the good sense of the word. Typically a bottle you can present any friend with, especially non-whisky drinkers. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it seems that there are even more fresh oranges than before, or is it me? This freshness is impressive, and so are the notes of honey, café latte and toasted gingerbread. I find it cleaner than earlier batches. All for the better… Mouth: a little more oomph would have been welcome, as although the arrival is big enough, it tends to fall asleep after a few seconds. Having said that, the profile is very pleasant, fruity, with only touches of burnt sugar and straight caramel. Quite some malt too (Ovaltine), a few raisins and a little chocolate. Finish: rather short but again, it’s pleasantly fresh and fruity. Caramel in the aftertaste. Comments: a very consistent dram. Haven’t they made it a little fruitier? SGP:541 - 80 points.

Balvenie 15 yo 'Single Barrel Sherry Cask' (47.8%, OB, cask # 16293, 2014)

Balvenie 15 yo 'Single Barrel Sherry Cask' (47.8%, OB, cask # 16293, 2014) Three stars and a half This new one was fully matured in sherry casks, contrarily to the older SBs that, if I remember well, used to be aged in bourbon. Colour: deep gold. Nose: we’re actually rather close to the 12, with similar oranges and honey, and certainly not a big sherriness like in, well, sherry bombs. So probably not first fill. This one’s actually a notch grassier and spicier after one minute or two, but it remains very fruity globally, and that would be fresh fruits rather than dried ones. So a light sherry on the nose. Mouth: an unusual arrival, with touches of dried porcinis and leather as well as notes of rhum agricole and even old wood. More and more triple sec after that, caramel liqueur, roasted almonds and raisin cake. Slightly burnt kugelhopf, would say the Alsatians. Rather creamy mouth feel, the strength is perfect. Finish: quite long, with this feeling of rum and raisins again. A little vanilla, chocolate and ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: not a tiring kind of sherry at all, they managed to keep the distillery’s ‘rather light’ style. I say very good stuff. SGP:551 - 84 points.

Images of Dufftown 1988/2013 'Balvenie Castle' (53,2%, Malts of Scotland, 266 bottles)

Images of Dufftown 1988/2013 'Balvenie Castle' (53,2%, Malts of Scotland, 266 bottles) Four stars This could well be Burnside, aka teaspooned Balvenie. Malts of Scotland have been issuing massive quantities of whiskies in recent months, almost all either very good, or very intriguing. Or both. Colour: white wine. Nose: probably refill bourbon! This time it’s a feisty, fresh and light Balvenie, actually not very far from the lightly sherried ones, which isn’t abnormal, is it? Say rather garden fruits than oranges, but a few oranges are there as well. Otherwise it’s all rather plums and apples, with a light honey as well as hints of sweet beer. IPA? With water: more IPA! I cannot not think of my beloved Lagunitas, if any friend knows where I could buy some in Europe, that would be mucho cool. Mouth (neat): very typical! Big plums and quinces with touches of honey and pollen, plus quite some vanilla and one marshmallow. We’re very close to the… older official 15yo SBs! With water: indeed. Just the green spiciness is a bit different. I like this. Finish: good length. Green tea, ripe apples and cinnamon. Comments: now it reminds me of an old Balvenie ‘As We Get It’. Pretty excellent, just the aftertaste was a little less to my liking. SGP:551 - 86 points.

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August 20, 2014


Whiskyfun

Three Sherried Highland Park

Well, more sherried than others, at least. Let’s try to compose a worthy little trio today…

Highland Park 'Dark Origins' (46.8%, OB, 2014)

Highland Park 'Dark Origins' (46.8%, OB, 2014) Four stars According to the distillers, this newish NAS version uses 'twice as many first fill sherry casks than in the classic Highland Park 12 year old'. So, which proportion of first fill sherry is there in the classic 12 yo? Colour: deep gold. Nose: I shouldn’t have read that, as I’m now finding a style that reminds me of the older silkscreened 12 yos. My mind playing tricks, probably. Heather honey and roasted chestnuts plus quite some polished wood, warm sawdust and raisins. Then touches of earth and a little camphor, always a jolly good sign. If you wait long enough, you’ll also find oranges and chocolate, rather ala Dalmore. Mouth: starts slightly smoky and liquoricy, before many dried fruits join in the dance. The oak feels a bit, and I wouldn’t say it’s a perfectly polished old HP, but the smoke and even the zesty minerality that sits in the background do make up for that side. I think it’s a success. Finish: long, and even smokier. One of the smokiest recent HPs if you ask me. That’s a surprise. Salted liquorice and smoked ham in the aftertaste. Comments: beats the NAS warriors if you ask me, and it seems that it’s rather fairly priced. Okay, it doesn’t beat the lovely ‘Ragnvald’. SGP:553 - 87 points.

Highland Park 15 yo 1998/2014 (53.5%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 14011, sherry hogshead, 166 bottles)

Highland Park 15 yo 1998/2014 (53.5%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 14011, sherry hogshead, 166 bottles) Four stars and a half Another pretty new one by the wizards aus Paderborn. Colour: deep amber. Nose: bang bang! It’s quite heavy, and quite chocolaty, its got classic heavy sherry, its got plenty of freshly sawn oak and other woods (pine?), it’s got touches of damp earth and mud, and it’s got this feeling of armagnac that works so well. Add a drop of tar liqueur and maybe one of liquid smoke. And one of mint liqueur (crème de menthe.) With water: tar liqueur everywhere! Pine tar… Mouth (neat): much less a classic now. An unusual combination of spicy oak with fresh fruits, instead of anything ‘fruitcake’. So there’s a bitterness (strong liquorice) and lots of oranges and peaches. Also a little artichoke liqueur (try that!) and myrtle. Gives this baby an acrid side, but no big deal. With water: its really fun. Not unlike a cocktail made out of many old herbal liqueurs. Excuse me? Yes, that would include chartreuse. Finish: long and herbal. Comments: not classic sherry. It’s very ‘different’. Vive la difference! SGP:362 - 88 points.

Highland Park 18 yo 1988 (60.2%, Bennachie Special Reserve, sherry, cask #11920, 492 bottles, +/-2006)

Highland Park 18 yo 1988 (60.2%, Bennachie Special Reserve, sherry, cask #11920, 492 bottles, +/-2006) Four stars and a half Bennachie’s a strange brand. I think I’ve tried their blends as well, but sadly, never the genuine old Bennachie. Colour: deep gold. Nose: great, that’s all I can say. Ultra-classic and mega-classy HP goodness, with extra-layers of meaty things and camphory stuff. This time we have a huge smoky Christmas cake, as well as many tiny herbal notes, parsley, chives, fennel, lovage and all that. Unbeatable style as far as rather heavy sherry’s concerned. With water: many mineral notes, new tyres, clay, ‘good’ sulphur… Mouth (neat): did I mention a Christmas cake? With water: big sherried HP, slightly rough and gritty, but that goes well with the distillate. Crystallised oranges, dried bananas, fruitcake, honey cake… and all that. Finish: long, with more spices. Cloves, as often in heavily sherried whiskies. And tobacco, and a little leather. Comments: little-known bottlers can have great whiskies, even when they use the names of long-gone distilleries. Ah well… SGP:551 - 89 points.

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

 

 

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August 19, 2014


Whiskyfun

Bits and Pieces, today Inverness

I’m not sure I ever did that, having a few malts from the long gone Inverness distilleries. Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor, Millburn. It’s true that I usually like focusing on one and only distillery. Not this time… And I’ll even choose them ‘randomly’ from WF’s malt library.

Glen Mhor 1966/2011 (52.1%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve, Van Wees, First fill sherry butt, cask #3690, 133 bottles)

Glen Mhor 1966/2011 (52.1%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve, Van Wees, First fill sherry butt refill sherry hogshead, cask #3690, 133 bottles) Five stars It’s quite amazing that Van Wees could propose such an old Glen Mhor quite recently. 133 bottles from a butt, even after around 45 years, that’s not much, is it? But let’s see if it’s another weird (aka entertaining) old sherried Glen Mhor… Colour: gold, so very light for a 44yo ex-first fill butt. Nose: good, it’s not a weird one. No heavy gunpowder, no horse dung, no manure and no old vase water, quite the contrary! Starts fantastically medicinal, with some camphor, some old cough medicines… Then we have a perfect association between quince jelly and Camel cigarettes (untipped, circa 1975 – I’m joking), and only then, something a little metallic. A fistful of old copper coins, perhaps. Pennies. You may add a few menthol-scented sultanas. With water: perfect. More hay, menthol cigarettes, a little shoe polish and a little dried meat (there, the old style is coming out.) Mouth (neat): no weirdness either, even if it’s a tad drying right from the start. Pepper and cinnamon on apple pie, more quince jelly (no, even more than that), raisins, brioche, cane syrup, maybe even agave syrup… It’s all perfectly rounded and, dare I write this, smooth. With water: and it swims perfectly well! Superb notes of chamomile and lemongrass come out. Finish: long, never too dry and never too oaky. Miraculous. Fab mint in the aftertaste. Comments: I don’t think it was first fill. But who am I, it’s a great, great bottling. Loved the menthol. SGP:572 - 92 points.

Update: it was well a refill sherry hogshead. Silly WF! Thanks Jurgen.

This starts well! Now eenie, meenie, miney, moe…

Glen Albyn 30 yo 1977/2007 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead ref#3405, 179 bottles)

Glen Albyn 30 yo 1977/2007 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead ref#3405, 179 bottles) Two stars and a half Glen Albyn’s never been my favourite distillery, and now, it’s forgotten. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got this feeling of linseed oil that I often found in Glen Albyn (not that I’ve tasted hundreds.) And cardboard, ink, paraffin, saltpetre… And cut grass, concentrated lemon juice, fresh rhubarb… It’s actually less weird than it sounds, despite these whiffs of cow stable that are now rising up, but it’s very intellectual. In other words, no immediate pleasures. With water: forget. Damp cardboard and rain water (from last week). Duck pond. Mouth (neat): dry at first, then rounder, but there’s a lot of ginger and dried lemon – or zests. The grassiness never stops growing either, while I also find disturbing notes of cardboard and paraffin in the background. A bit challenging so far, but the un-commercial-ness of this juice is quite interesting. I could well understand how this baby would work as a constituent in a blend. With water: no, it really hates water. Some nice notes of almond come out, but other than that, it’s all cardboard. Finish: quite short, in fact. Grassy, dry, cardboardy. Comments: it had some intriguing sides, and even some very nice ones, but it’s too… un-commercial?  Hate to write that. SGP:262 - 77 points.

Next! Eenie, meenie, miney, moe… Maybe one more chance for Glen Albyn?

Glen Albyn 30 yo 1974/2004 (58.1%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, cask #1601, 258 bottles)

Glen Albyn 30 yo 1974/2004 (58.1%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, cask #1601, 258 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: pawah! It’s got the waxy style of the 1977, and even the sooty and grassy side, but there’s also more, around zests, crystallised fruits, banana skins, red Thai sauce, cedar wood… Very complex, despite the very heavy – and heady – strength. With water: great. Smoky candle wax, hay, soot, ashes... Smells just like and old dunnage warehouse when reduced – which is the opposite of a modern palletised one that usually reeks of American oak coconut. Mouth (neat): more power! Massive, sweetly bitter and always pretty waxy. Seville oranges, zests, marzipan, Campari, maraschino… All this is a notch aggressive, but the style is quite perfect. Water should further help us… With water: nope, water doesn’t work too well on your palate. Burnt herbs and cardboard – discard. Finish: long, grassy, rather bitter. Not the nicest part. Comments: a Janus malt, hard to score. Some parts were utterly brilliant, some other probably too… un-commercial? SGP:462 - 85 points.

Next please! Eenie, meenie, miney, moe…

Millburn 1974/2001 (57.7%, Cadenhead, Chairman’s Stock, bourbon hogshead, 276 bottles)

Millburn 1974/2001 (57.7%, Cadenhead, Chairman’s Stock, bourbon hogshead, 276 bottles) Five stars How many glories haven’t we already found within this…err, glorious series? Colour: gold. Nose: we’re well in Inverness. Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor and Millburn were different distilleries, of course, but I’ve always found that they used to share some similarities, for example this grassy, sooty, almost dirty nose that’s a bit love-it-or-hate-it. In this case its rather love it, because the waxy/grassy side comes with candied citrons and whiffs of old cigar box that I enjoy a lot. Wax polish, more cigars, encaustic… With water: yess, this time it swims! Old clothes, attic, more cigars, musty cellar, oranges… Mouth (neat): huge stuff! Starts very herbal (Chartreuse at cask strength) and becomes rather smoky, but it’s not peat smoke. Some tar, perhaps. Some almond oil as well, more citrons… I like this one a lot – unless water kills it, let’s see. With water: it doesn’t. Some sweet mustard, even more citrons, funny notes of tart herbs (sorrel? Rhubarb?) and some marzipan. Finish: long, rather sappy/resinous. Honeydew and oranges. Comments: Candenhead’s, do you still have some unbottled casks of Millburn? SGP:552 - 91 points.

All right, already two glories, let’s have a last one. And one that rocks!

Millburn 16 yo 1971/1987 (65.4%, Gordon & MacPhail for Sestante, sherry, 75cl)

Millburn 16 yo 1971/1987 (65.4%, Gordon & MacPhail for Sestante, sherry, 75cl) Three stars and a half 65.4% vol. Not for babies, this one. Wish me luck. Colour: gold. Nose: no, frankly, this is vastly exaggerated. Cut grass and alcohol. Extreme. No sherry at all, probably 12th fill. With water: burnt grass, then a curious combination of oranges and leatherette. Plus bits of coal and metal polish. I don’t seem to manage to tame this one. Mouth (neat): can you dilute soap in lemon juice? Hazardous stuff when undiluted. With water: really, it’s a fight! And we may have won it, since rather beautiful notes of candied oranges, quince jelly and bergamots are starting to dance on your tongue. It was about time! Finish: long, orangey and now mentholated. Camphory aftertaste. Comments: no tasting, a fight. Old Highlands untamability at its most extreme. SGP:362 - 83 points.

 

 

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August 18, 2014


Whiskyfun

Simply Springbank bearing white labels, from 1998 to 1958

Ha, another session that doesn’t make much sense, does it.  Let’s start with two private ones. In my experience, Springbank’s private bottlings could and can be rather extreme, that is to say very extractive, possibly because cask owners tend to favour first fill casks when buying new fillings. As they say, ‘it’s a thing’… So let’s have these two private ones today, and then we may drift away a little bit…

Springbank

Springbank 15 yo 1998/2014 (51.1%, OB, private bottling, fresh sherry, cask #440, 264 bottles) Four stars and a halfColour: gold. Nose: forget about what I have written, this isn’t particularly extractive, it’s even nicely spirit driven, with this typical mineral and oily/waxy Springbankness. There are these whiffs of rubber bands that imply ‘good sulphur’, a little iodine, soot, some engine oil, and then more apple peelings and fresh walnuts. A characterful nose, very Springbanky, and a sherriness that rather hints at fino or manzanilla (which it probably wasn’t.) With water: bicycle inner tube, great! Mouth (neat): impeccably sharp, heavily lemony and sooty, then very mineral and pretty mustardy. No compromise, and this ‘artisan’ profile that Springbank lovers, well, love. Great bitterness and acidy, like in a great bone dry Riesling (not the sweetish j**k one can find here and there.) With water: more marmalade and sweet mustard, with some ginger. Finish: long, with a salty tang. Lemony and peppery aftertaste. Comments: great combo, appropriately rough and wild, yet approachable. SGP:462 – 89 points.

Springbank 21 yo 1989/2012 ‘MW’ (49%, OB, private bottling, hogshead, cask #509, 242 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: a rounder version of the 1998, with more vanilla and marzipan. Then whiffs of varnish and even nail polish remover. A little more mustard too, green tea, those rubber bands again, the peelings, some linseed oil and, behind all that, touches of this very peculiar sucrosity that I think Springbank had in those years and then lost, maybe not for the worst. Between Ricola and strawberry sweets, perhaps. With water: all gone, it’s now a gentle fruity Springbank, rather on apples, peaches and watermelons. Mouth (neat): oily, rather sweeter again, fruity, with this varnishy side again, and sweets, green tea, vanilla and grass. A very grassy grass, said the other guy. With water: more oak, and a bourbon/rye side. Hey, was there some rye in Springbank’s mash bill at the time? Finish: quite long but a little too drying for my taste, the oak stands out. And it’s not a sweet one… Comments: high quality again, but it’s a tad too much on the oaky side for me, and the 1998 overshadowed it. I also think that vintage was better at Springbank, if I may. SGP:552 - 85 points.

So! And now, how about a short verticale? 1969-1965-1958, how does that sound? Hold on, maybe we’ll rather have the 1965 as the last one, because it’s stronger…

Springbank 1969/1983 (92 US proof, Duthie for Narsai's Restaurant & Corti Brothers, USA) Five stars There used to be quite a few 1969 Springbank by various bottlers, many just excellent but not all of them have been utterly great in my experience. As you very well know, 92 US proof means 46% vol. No, contemporary bottlers did not ‘invent’ the 46% vol. According to good old Wikipedia, Narsai's used to be a famous restaurant in Berkeley, where many rock and movie stars used to go dining. It doesn’t seem that having their own whiskies did them well, as the restaurant closed in 1986, but the owner, Narsai David, seems to remain a rather famous TV and radio 'chef'. Colour: gold. Nose: ah, metal polish and old coins! It’s really that style, it’s more or less like nosing a bag full of old bits of iron, copper and brass. And then, only in the background, we have various candied fruits, quite some hay, herbal teas (honeysuckle, thyme) and just a spoonful of cigar ashes. Maybe a drop of shampoo? It’s not a trumpeting Springbank at all, maybe thanks to a ‘light’ cask (most were very sherried at the time), but it’s extremely elegant and refined. Love the herbal teas and love the metallic side. Mouth: Jesus Mary and Joseph! I had thought it would be light and even slender, and we have a punchy, very fresh, peppery old Springbank. The bottle and its cap were great because you would think it was bottled just yesterday, as there isn’t the slightest trace of Old Bottle Effect. Should be perfect for detected style nuances wrt modern Springbank, but I’m afraid there aren’t many. Beeswax, paraffin, cooking oil, grass, herbal teas, chlorophyll, bitter oranges, a touch of rubber, grapefruits… Finish: rather long and quite salty, but the grassy bitterness came to the forefront. Not my favourite part. Comments: brilliant and moving –and quite ‘modern’, only the finish was a little less to my liking. SGP:462 - 90 points.

Springbank 1958/1983 (92 US proof, Duthie for Narsai's Restaurant & Corti Brothers, USA) Five stars Another one for Narsai and Corti Bros. You don’t find these vintages under the hoof of a horse, as we say in France – which you could translate as ‘they do not grow on trees’ – go figure... By the way, Corti Brothers still exist, it’s a rather famous Italian grocery store and restaurant in Sacramento, CA. Colour: gold. Nose: oh this is unusual. It’s got the trademark greasiness for sure, but it’s also got unexpected floral scents, maybe even wee whiffs of violets, or maybe even lavender. But nothing to do with the repulsive lavender that could be found elsewhere, this is all very elegant again. Other than that, it’s rather more phenolic than the 1969, but it’s all quite whispering and, yes, refined. A little smoked tea, some light pipe tobacco, a little shoe polish, hints of burnt cake, old chardonnay, a small stalk of celery (perhaps)… All that is hugely complex. Mouth: another world after the 1969, this has more stamina, more individuality, and some flavours are almost nowhere else to be found in my meagre experience. For example, these notes of elderberry syrup, or genepy liqueur, or light absinth… Maybe there’s more OBE here, but what a glory! And the metallic side is here as well, the shoe polish, the walnut oil, the liquorice wood… Please call them, I mean, the anti-maltoporn brigade! Thank you. Finish: quite long and beautifully sappy and mentholated, with more smoke and salt in the aftertaste. Almost an Islay in the aftertaste. Comments: what an incredible series, these Cortis! This 1958 was simply fabulous, and rather smokier than the 1969. SGP:463 - 95 points.

Springbank 1965 (54.5%, Cadenhead, white label, cask #2164, +/-1993) Five stars A superb pedigree, but will this strong sherried oldie stay the course after the stunning 1958? Let’s see… Colour: coffee. Nose: another school, another paradigm. Chocolaty sherry at both its heaviest and its brightest. I cannot not think of a very old Demerara rum, of a cup of ristretto, of a glass of tar liqueur and of a bowl of beef stock. Then chocolate, various herbs (parsley, chives), smoked meat and just whiffs of wood smoke, or is that charcoal? Add a spoonful of artisan strawberry jam. With water (bloody procedure): a magnificent development on aromatic herbs, it’s funny that we’re now finding in this nose what used to be in the 1958’s palate, that is to say wormwood, aniseed, sorrel, celery, absinth… There’s also a magnificent oak, I don’t know why I’m now thinking of the old Willets from the good old US of A. Mouth (neat): I’m tempted to just write ‘same’. Except that there’s even more chocolate than in the nose, more chocolate than in chocolate, in any case. Chocolate filled with orange marmalade and just bits of coffee. Water should further unlock it… With water: you bet it does! Could you please give another buzz to the anti-maltoporn brigade? We’re now finding in the ‘diluted’ palate what was in the ‘undiluted’ nose. Strange echoes, or the fourth dimension? So old Demerara rum, ristretto, tar liqueur, beef stock, more chocolate, various herbs, smoked meat and charcoal. Finish: long, a tad drier as (almost) usual, with some ‘black’ tannins akin to those of Russian tea. And bitter chocolate. Comments: by no means I could decide on which one I liked best, between the 1958 and this 1965. I could quaff three bottles of each and remain undecided. That’s right, and I would be flat dead. SGP:362 - 95 points.

(Heartfelt mercis to Diego, Jeroen, Max and Thomas)

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

 

 

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August 17, 2014


Whiskyfun

The Quest for Malternatives, another large bag of rum

We’ll try to sail the seven seas today. Well, at least two oceans…

Flamboyant Vieux Rum (40%, OB, rhum, Mauritius, +/-2013)

Flamboyant Vieux Rum (40%, OB, rhum, Mauritius, +/-2013) Two stars This young baby's made by Green Island Distillerie. It's a multi-vintage version. Colour: pale gold (refreshingly so.) Nose: a lighter style, rather on apple crumble, praline, corn syrup, vanilla and pear peelings. A Glenkinchie of rum, in a way. I really enjoy the fact that it seems to be all natural, and certainly not doped with… uncertain substances. Mouth: very light, but with a grassy ‘agricole’ profile. Tastes like a very young Martiniquean. Banana skin, almonds, honey biscuits, some liquorice and a few peppery spices. A little cumin, perhaps. Finish: a little short but clean, well on sugar cane, with a candied aftertaste. Comments: average, in a good way. SGP:531 - around 75 points.

While we’re in Mauritius…

Chamarel V.S.O.P. (44%, OB, rum, Mauritius, +/-2013)

Chamarel V.S.O.P. (44%, OB, rum, Mauritius, +/-2013) Three stars This is single domaine rhum, apparently around 4 years of age. Colour: pale gold. Nose: malt whisky! Seriously, there are notes of fresh malted barley in this baby, and even figs, dates, raisins, toasted oak, vanilla cake, honey, grass and herbs… This is pretty troubling, I’d even swear I’ve found traces of peat. The ‘rumness’ remains in the background, which is really funny. Mouth: amazing, really amazing, this tastes like a blend of malt whisky and rhum agricole. So malt, honey, candy sugar, chocolate, bread (really), roasted nuts, then even touches of brine and pickled gherkins (just a thin slice), liquorice… I’m really fond of this young baby. Good, solid body, perfect mouthfeel. Finish: rather long, saltier, with a little more oak but also a coastal side that’s… yes, troubling. Comments: fun stuff, try it. If I may… SGP:552 – around 82 points.

Ron del Barrilito 'Superior Especial' (43%, OB, rum, Puerto Rico, +/-2013)

Ron del Barrilito 'Superior Especial' (43%, OB, rum, Puerto Rico, +/-2013) Two stars It’s supposed to be a light and rather cheap rum, but you never know… Colour: gold. Nose: right. This is not unpleasant, but it’s rather cane syrup on the nose, while there are also touches of fruit syrups, such as grenadine and peaches. So it’s all very fruity, very light, quite fragrant and extremely easy. Touches of oak and molasses. Mouth: really sweet and fruity, all on bubblegum, liquorice allsorts, sultanas, honey and orange liqueur. Utterly harmless, but I can’t find any obvious flaws. Finish: fairly short, molassy, fruity, cooked, easy. Comments: rather very honest holiday rum. We’re out of danger with this one! SGP:730 - around 74 points.

Gosling's Black Seal (40%, OB, Bermuda, +/-2013)

Gosling's Black Seal (40%, OB, Bermuda, +/-2013) I’ve tried the Black Seal 151 Proof last year and just… hated it, I’m afraid. Colour: red mahogany. Nose: it’s a liqueur, it’s not rum. Very balsamic, with tons of herbs, megatons of eucalyptus, tankers of limoncello and quite some bubblegum. Then rather cinnamon cake, curaçao or other fancy orange liqueurs, and lastly, a lot of molasses. Spectacular and actually kind of pleasant, but it’s the palate that’ll tell us more… Mouth: not rum. I mean, not rum in my book. Rather sweetened aquavit, or a cocktail made out of chartreuse, honey, tar liqueur and crème de menthe. I’m not saying one shouldn’t like it, I’m just saying this isn’t ‘rum as we know it’. Finish: long, mentholated, empyreumatic. Comments: a liqueur that should work well on ice. Not sipping rum in my book – and yeah, not even rum. SGP:770 - around 65 points.

Good, let’s try to find some older rum…

Presidente Marti 23 'Solera Rum' (40%, Oliver & Oliver, Dominican Republic, +/-2013)

Presidente Marti 23 'Solera Rum' (40%, Oliver & Oliver, Dominican Republic, +/-2013) 23 years? Nope, just like with Zacapa, this is not 23 years old rum, it’s rum from a solera that was started 23 years ago. Supposedly. All very fishy if you ask me, this is probably youngish rum. I won’t tell you who José Marti was, just google him. Colour: red amber. Nose: well, I quite like this, it’s full of stewed fruits, blood oranges, cigars, cedar wood, then more molasses and cooked honey, PX, more blood oranges… So all very nice, I think, just a little flat. Flattish. Mouth: ouch, how much sugar did they add? It’s pure honey, or honey liqueur if you will. Cointreau with sugar added, plus banana liqueur. I don’t mean that it’s not well made, it certainly is, but it’s just the opposite of my preferred style of rum. Finish: of medium length. Sugar, honey, liqueur, orange syrup. Comments: hyper-sweet (and sweetened) rum for lovers of hyper-sweet rum. Mind you, nothing wrong with that! SGP:820 – around 65 points.

Now let’s try to find the competitor, that is to say Zacapa ‘23’. Rummage rummage rummage (diving to new lows, S.!) … Got it!

Zacapa 23 'Centenario' (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2013)

Zacapa 23 'Centenario' (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2013) Two stars Same story, contrarily to what 99% of the public thinks, and to what many websites including some retailers’ write, this is not 23 years old rum. Probably more like 6 to 8. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: same as the Marti, I cannot find any differences. Maybe a little more vanilla? Or a little more raisins? No wait, after a few minutes, this Zacapa becomes a notch more herbal, with wee hints of leaves, bark, fresh walnuts, almonds, fresh mint… All plusses I have to say. Mouth: same phenomenon, starts just the same, but becomes spicier than the Marti, with more star anise, caraway, liquorice… More pastis? Finish: rather long, very sweet of course, but the taste of aniseed remains. Comments: not my cup of tea, but it’s probably good stuff. Easily beats the Dominican, I think. SGP:740 - around 75 points.

But wait, there are other ’23 years old’ (not!) Zacapas ou there…

Zacapa 23 anos ‘Centenario Black Label’ (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2000)

Zacapa 23 anos ‘Centenario Black Label’ (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2000) one star and a half An older version that was to be rechristened ‘Etiqueta Negra’ a few years later, while ’23 anos’ became ‘solera 23’. I just couldn’t tell you about the differences with the ‘regular’ 23, let’s see if we can find something… Colour: dark red amber (darker than the previous one.) Nose: much more dryness, more oak, more herbs, more sugar cane and more spices. More chocolate as well, more coffee, much less liqueurs, honeys, syrups and other sweet things. No need to tell you that I like this one better at this point, even if it’s much less ‘wham-bam’. Mouth: no, I was wrong, this is even sweeter, heavier, extremely sugary, liqueury and molassy. Cointreau and honey, fifty-fifty. After that, a little crème de menthe, maybe Chartreuse, caraway aquavit… How sugary! Finish: quite long, on herbal liqueurs. All of them. Comments: I really liked the nose but I found the palate too cloyingly sweet. SGP:750 - around 69 points.

Phew, it’s all becoming very difficult, but I think I’ve got one more 23 ‘year old’ Zacapa…

Zacapa 23 anos ' Centenario Straight from the Cask' (45%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2005)

Zacapa 23 anos ' Centenario Straight from the Cask' (45%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2005) Two starsStraight from the cask may have meant, in this case, that this baby was bottled at a slightly higher strength. Colour: red amber. Nose: it’s amazing how 5 extra-% make the spirit much bigger, almost aggressive here. But after one or two minutes, some lovely fruity notes come through, especially ripe peaches, nectarines, apricots and all that. There’s also a kind of minerality, quite a miracle here. Limestone, then oranges, honey, yellow flowers, nectar… I like this nose! Also touches of wet earth. Let’s start to pray… Mouth: oh, no! Even more a shame that there’s so much sugar, because all the rest seems to be of high quality, including the many spices, the gingerbread, the fudge, the oranges… But again, these vast amounts of sugar and syrups are just fouling up your palate. Finish: really a shame. But then again, and again, and again, only one man’s taste and opinion. Comments: pretty great nose, enough said. SGP:860 - around 70 points.

We’ve got many more Zacapas but I think we’d better have ‘a sure bet’ as today’s last young rum. If you don’t mind!…

Foursquare 6 yo 2000/2006 (45%, Alambic Classique, Millenium Reserve, Barbados)

Foursquare 6 yo 2000/2006 (45%, Alambic Classique, Millenium Reserve, Barbados) Four stars Foursquare means St Nicholas Abbey, and St Nicholas Abbey almost means greatness in WF’s little book. Colour: pale gold. Nose: another world. You have to be careful after the ‘commercially explosive’ Zacapas, this is much subtler, much more on fine grasses, leaves, rocks, herbs, nuts and all that. Green tea, even rocket, even spinach, a discreet sootiness, gravel, then more and more grapefruits, lemongrass, green olives… This is a very elegant nose. Mouth: fantastic, as expected. Sunflower oil and crystallised citron, smoked fish Islay-style, apricots and olive brine… All that isn’t as big as in the heaviest Jamaicans, Guyanians or Trinidadians, but these styles are somewhat connected. Finish: good length, with brine and a touch of smoke (mezcal style.) Maybe a slight soapiness too, that would be this young baby’s only flaw. Comments: I like. Only the end of the finish and the aftertaste are a little too paraffiny for me. SGP:452 - around 85 points.

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

 

 

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August 15, 2014


Whiskyfun

Aberfeldy

Two Aberfeldy in the midst of summer

I have a kind of fondness for Aberfeldy, the well-known Midlander’s one of the summery malts and the distillery’s very tidy and pretty.

Aberfeldy 1994/2014 'Melon Vine' (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 242 bottles) Three starsFrom the brand new batch of bottlings by Wemyss. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s easy, fruity, malty and cerealy. I was about to write ‘as Nature intended’. Barley sugar and apple juice, maybe touches of not-too-ripe melons indeed, then light acacia honey. Easy and pleasant, kind of uncontroversial. Mouth: same feeling, there’s a pleasant mouth feel, good body, with some apples, ‘maybe’ melons, touches of oranges, some malt, cornflakes, and just touches of grass. Finish: good length, now with a little vanilla and tea. Comments: I’m not sure I’ll remember this good hyper-balanced and rather light malt forever, but it does the job. Sometimes rougher edges are more… memorable? SGP:441 - 80 points.

Aberfeldy 30 yo 1974/2004 (59.5%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #2186, 236 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: more grass, more oak, more ’bumps’ so to speak. You could say more character, but it’s otherwise rather blocked, should be the very high strength. I do get very nice whiffs of warm hay, though, which is pretty summery indeed. With water: and it loves water almost as much as black fungus likes it as a whole. A basket of summer fruits plus drops of sunflower oil and crushed chickpeas. Hummus? (not humus!) Mouth (neat): big, very cerealy, with also quinces and citrons. Cooked rhubarb, perhaps. Less closed than on the nose, but it’s still not very talkative. Notes of sweets and jellybeans coming out after two minutes. With water: excellent again, swims like a champ. Apples, cherries, plums, those melons, barley water, shortbread… All easy and good now. Finish: long, clean, fruity and fresh. Marshmallows. Comments: needs water, and then delivers. SGP:541 - 86 points.

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

 

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