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Serge whiskyfun

 

Whiskies 15,279
Other spirits 1,983
Angus 945

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (92)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
13)
Banff (50)
Ben Nevis (1
87)
Ben Wyvis (3)
Benriach (1
85)
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 (
41)
Dalmore (1
20)
Dalwhinnie (
31)
Deanston (4
8)
Dufftown (51)

Edradour (72)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
5
3)
Laphroaig (4
49)
Ledaig (1
2
8)
Linkwood (1
4
9)
Littlemill (1
23)
Loch Lomond (
65)
Lochside (65)
Longmorn (2
1
8)
Longrow (7
4)
Macallan (303)
Macduff (6
8)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
4
3)
Millburn (2
3)
Miltonduff (
92)
Mortlach (1
98)
Mosstowie (2
2)

Scapa (46)
Speyburn (
44)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (3
56)
St-Magdalene (5
1)
Strathisla (
10
4)
Strathmill (
41)

 
 
Pete and Jack



2020
March 1
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No archives for 2002-2003

 
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1969 - 1983

   


 

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Disclaimer
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
20

 


Scotch Legal Announcement

 
 

March 30, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Young Glenfarclas
on the table

Not that we aren’t tasting a lot of old ones mind you, but those rather tend to come as ‘Secret Speysiders’ these days. I’m really not sure that’s good, but not my business. Right…

Glenfarclas 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2019)

Glenfarclas 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars
As a reference. Last time we tried the rather lighter and less sherried 12 that was in 2016 (WF 82). Colour: gold. Nose: not totally a fan I have to say. A feeling of Tio Pepe, smoky porridge, papier mâché, geranium, polenta… That’s all a tad bizarre, I agree, let’s check the palate… Mouth: there’s Glenfarclas’s firmness, but it’s a little harsh and bizarrely disjointed. Hot eau-de-vie, porridge, pepper from the oak, Fanta, chamomile tea… Finish: medium, drying and cardboardy at first, a little better towards the aftertaste (triple-sec). Comments: not sure what to think. It’s very rustic malt whisky, I would say, more rustic than it used to be in any case.
SGP:351 - 76 points.

Glenfarclas 2010/2019 ‘City Hunter’ (60.4%, OB, Whisky Mew Japan, sherry butt, cask #1497)

Glenfarclas 2010/2019 ‘City Hunter’ (60.4%, OB, Whisky Mew Japan, sherry butt, cask #1497) Four stars and a half
This very J-designed Glenfarclas was selected by Hideo Yamaoka. Did you know that Hideo used to be a member of the famous band ‘Pizzicato 5’ in his not-so-distant youth? Colour: deep gold. Nose: much more classic GF, with just the faintest amount of gunpowder and then an avalanche of orange blossom, sultanas, small dried Turkish figs, some pastry dough (between panettone and kougelhopf, let’s call that a kougettone ;-)) and really a perfect bready development. There’s nothing better than good bread, they say, well there’s not better whisky than whisky that smells of good bread then. With water: turns to unfiltered manzanilla! Mouth (neat): just excellent. Both heavy and light, very sherried, meaty and chocolaty, with some kind of raisin + orange mix and a pretty grassy development towards green pepper and juniper. With water: game, set and match. Figs, marmalade, dough, nutmeg, and no unnecessary heaviness. Finish: long, more on proper chocolate and coffee. Marmalade back in the aftertaste, s well as a we ‘old-school’ meaty maltiness. Comments: omedetou! (hope that word doesn’t have any double meaning…)
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Glenfarclas 9 yo 2009/2019 (59.4, OB for Le Gus’t, sherry hogshead, cask #1797, 320 bottles)

Glenfarclas 9 yo 2009/2019 (59.4, OB for Le Gus’t, sherry hogshead, cask #1797, 320 bottles) Four stars
Colour: golden amber. Nose: good example of a sherry cask that was most probably quite fresh, since some clear oaky tones are still flying over a combination of dried fruits (figs, raisins) and some sweet meats, Thai-style. Chicken with mango sauce, perhaps. So beyond the obvious pencil shavings here this is a very nice nose. With water: very craft, whatever that means! Well that means with high oak influence, while that would be top-quality oak. Spicy bread and such. Mouth (neat): not the first time a sherried Scotch malt reminds me of a top-of-range bourbon. Coconut liqueur, mint, cloves, pepper, turmeric, ginger… And even rye, mind you! May we see the papers? With water: more of all that. I would even dare say that the distillate is of secondary importance here. Finish: long, excellent, very ‘craft’ indeed. We’re thinking Westland, Smögen, Hautes-Glaces, those guys. Comments: very surprising, and very good. A whisky all in trompe-l’oeil, in a way. Good fun!
SGP:472 - 87 points.

We have zillions of GFs yet to taste but this is not the time. Still, perhaps an older vintage before we call this a session…

Glenfarclas 40 yo 1976/2016 (43.7%, OB, Oloroso sherry, 1500 bottles)

Glenfarclas 40 yo 1976/2016 (43.7%, OB, Oloroso sherry, 1500 bottles) Five stars
I remember the very first 1976 ‘Family Cask’ had been absolutely stellar (WF 92) but this is another range, small batches cunningly called ‘The Family Collector Series’ according to the excellent folks at TWE. Colour: amber. Nose: very very funny. Tapioca, crude chocolate, ristretto, very old balsamic vinegar, manuka honey (we often quote manuka honey but this one DOES totally smell of manuka honey) and a bouquet of wisteria. It is extremely unusual with this hyper-honeyed profile, I’m very curious about the palate. Mouth: bingo honey, bingo pollen, bingo beeswax, and bingo apricot and quince jam. In the background, more Timut pepper than in the whole of Nepal. Let’s say pink pepper, which is not quite pepper by the way, but there. Reeks of grapefruit. Pink grapefruit, of course. Finish: long, feeling stronger than just 43.7, and absolutely gorgeous with these unexpected notes of ripe strawberries. Comments: fantastic Glenfarclas, with a very unusual profile. But 1976 was another great vintage for fruity Speysiders (think Benriach). Now do we really believe in vintage effects with whisky?
SGP:651 - 92 points.

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

 

March 29, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Duetting Cognacs

Not that we’re rationing what we have - yet, but I’ve decided that we’ll only try two little Cognacs today. There.

Ordonneau ‘Domaine de la Grolette Très Vieillie Réserve des Borderies’ (40%, OB, +/-2018)

Ordonneau ‘Domaine de la Grolette Très Vieillie Réserve des Borderies’ (40%, OB, +/-2018) Four stars and a half
Ordonneau are located in Charentes, right in the middle of the smallest appellation (a.k.a. cru)  in Cognac, namely les Borderies (the borders - of the heart of Cognac, actually). It is a rather small estate and their ‘Très Vieille Réserve’ is older than 25. I find it a bit sad that they would keep bottling this old Cognac at 40% vol. even if the general public still prefers lighter strengths – apparently. Colour: amber. Nose: oh what a shame that they kept it at 40%! Because this is an awesome nose, starting with warm tatin and the best maple syrup they have in C’nada, going on with many stewed and baked fruits, especially mangos and peaches, also flowers (dandelions, never cut or grub up dandelions, the bees need them in Spring), and becoming then pretty tertiary, with a good deal of rancio, prunes, fig wine, touches of copper (old kettle), tobacco, ham and camphor (hints). This is all pretty perfect, let’s just hope it won’t nosedive on our palates. Well you see what I mean. Mouth: oh, yes, only great spirits do stand 40% vol., and that is the case here. Love this blend of liquid caramel, liquorice, menthol, aniseed and all the jams. Quince, oranges, apples, pears, perhaps a little flower jelly… It’s to be wondered if the 40% aren’t a typo, this rather feels like 43. Huge difference indeed, seriously. Finish: what’s more, it’s even pretty long, rather on praline this time, still with liquorice and some even fresher orangey notes. More caramel again in the aftertaste. Comments: great Cognac by a little house – to be honest, I had never heard of them before. My bad.
SGP:641 - 89 points.

Good, I suppose we’d need one with quite some firepower to do fine against that little Ordonneau…

Vallein Tercinier 43 yo ‘Lot 75’ (46.9%, Maltbarn, Petite Champagne, 171 bottles, 2020)

Vallein Tercinier 43 yo ‘Lot 75’ (46.9%, Maltbarn, Petite Champagne, 171 bottles, 2020) Four stars and a half
Right, Petite Champagne, despite being called ‘Petite’, is six times larger than the Borderies. And twice the size of the ‘Grande’ Champagne, which, to the novice, doesn’t make any sense, does it? French logic at its best (but I’m sure there is a reason!) As for the house Vallein Tercinier, they need no introduction, do they. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s not often that a VT has a proper sparring partner, which is the case here. This Lot 75 is rather fresher (despite being older), rather more on fresh fruits (oranges, the usual peaches, prickly pears) and a notch earthier. It’s actually slower than the Ordonneau, but that may come from the higher strength. Its only after a good two minutes that some wonderful stewed fruits do take off (figuratively, that is), with even a feeling of a very prestigious white sangria. No, really, but we’re not talking sangria for tourists of course. Mouth: incredible, it’s almost harsh – at 43 years of age – but that wouldn’t last as a proper avalanche of citrus fruits falls over you after just twenty seconds. Blood oranges, tangerines… There’s also some flower jelly again, a little honey, soft liquorice, and touches of old oak. A very very faint touch of rusticity, but you just cannot not love the earthy side in the end. Gentian, liquorice wood and celeriac, love that. Finish: long, firm, unusually rooty. Citrus back in the aftertaste, which just always works, as I always say (right, right, S.) Comments: looks like this may end in a tie.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

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

 

March 28, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Four Smögen
These notes are being written while in isolation at my parents house by Loch Fyne. We can’t travel right now, so why not do a little ‘glass-bound whisky tourism’. Let’s head to Sweden if you don’t mind, get the valinch ready please Pär.

 

Smögen Triple 5 yo 2011/2017 (54%, OB, cask #5-6/2011, European oak sauternes barriques, 882 bottles)

Smögen Triple 5 yo 2011/2017 (54%, OB, cask #5-6/2011, European oak sauternes barriques, 882 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: very ‘new world’, as we used to say around 2010. That is to say: bags of smoked dark beers, spicy rye bread, pumpkin seed oil, ham terrine, yellow mustard and hints of plaster, putty and brine. The wood is clearly rather active but it feels nicely contained within the distillate, rather than dominant. Leaves behind a pleasing richness of spices and breads. With water: superbly clean and crisp smokiness now. Lots of bonfire embers, paprika, mineral salts, coal scuttles and suggestions of oily toolboxes and hessian rags. Some menthol tobacco notes in the background. Mouth: very sweet and smoky on arrival. Bacon jam, squid ink, natural tar, caraway distillate and wee touches of mint and pastis. The peat gets bigger on second sipping, rather more hefty, medicinal, herbal and oily. With water: again this lovely sharpness of smoke, tinged with many wee aspects like lemon juice, chalk, sourdough, hessian and herbal cough medicines. Finish: long, bready, herbal, sweetly smoky, gently peaty and with a rather nice smoked olive oil note in the aftertaste. Comments: what I love about Smögen is that it is genuine skilled whisky making in a very ‘interventionist’ fashion, by which I mean you can feel that every decision which has led to the character of this whisky has been deeply and deliberately considered - ‘auteur’ whisky if you will. The assertive wood works well with the syrupy style of peat here. I hope some of this triple distilled stuff has been left to age a little longer.
SGP: 667 - 87 points.

 

 

Smögen 7 yo 2011/2019 (62.4%, OB, cask #56/2011, 1st fill barrel + rum finish, 325 bottles)

Smögen 7 yo 2011/2019 (62.4%, OB, cask #56/2011, 1st fill barrel + rum finish, 325 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: you do get the rum at first, although it manifests rather nicely as charred pineapple, fruit salad juices, olives in brine and all manner of bandages, seawater, boiler smoke and some stuff like camphor, vapour rubs and boot polish. With water: wonderful salinity, lots of anchovy paste, sardines slathered in olive oil, sheep wool, chalk, wet rocks, cider vinegar and smoked lime juice. Really superb! Mouth: extremely pure, sharp, saline and smoked in lemon juice, raw oyster water, petrol, smouldering rosemary branches,  juniper, hessian and coal smoke. Extremely charismatic, and whatever the rum is doing, it’s doing it with impeccable politeness. With water: gets farmier on one hand but also more elegantly coastal with all these wee notes of miso, dried seaweed, sandalwood and rock pools. Some slightly animalistic edges and a wee touch of sootiness. Finish: long, smoky, gamey, earthy, peaty and wonderfully rich. Comments: Superb and very different. The rum fades in and out in an extremely subtle and slightly playful fashion but is never dominant or unbalanced in its manifestations. It may be young and monstrously powerful, but it’s also wonderfully fun and deceptively complex. This is smart use of finishing.
SGP: 567 - 89 points.

 

 

Smögen 7 yo 2011/2019 (62.2%, OB, cask #57/2011, 1st fill bourbon, 327 bottles)

Smögen 7 yo 2011/2019 (62.2%, OB, cask #57/2011, 1st fill bourbon, 327 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: fascinating to try this next to the rum finish. This is just that bit cleaner, purer and more focussed. All on fabrics, wet rocks, seawater, chalk, plaster, seaweed, embrocations, lemon juice and a rather savoury, earthy peaty character. Umami, salty, lots of liquid seasonings and bath salts. With water: some kind of uber-salty pasta water cut with petrol and olive brine. Is there such a thing as a ‘dirty highball’? Well, there should be! (And not just one made with Inchmoan.) Mouth: pin-sharp, salty, mineral, umami, coastal and citric. A young Caol Ila that’s been slapped on the arse by an old Brora. A kind of kippery smokiness evolves along with some smoked herbs and soot. With water: more meaty now with these smoky bacon notes. Sooty, smoked fabrics, paraffin, hessian and more seawater and black olives. Finish: long, fatty, greasily peaty, resinously saline, nervous, coastal, lemony, herbal and with a rather deep and unctuous smokiness in the aftertaste. Comments: I just love the purity and power on display here. Not to mention that this is raw and naked Smögen in all its glory.
SGP: 468 - 90 points.

 

 

Smögen 8 yo 2011/2019 (57.8%, OB, casks # 4 8-10/2011, first fill Sauternes barriques, 1628 bottles)

Smögen 8 yo 2011/2019 (57.8%, OB, casks # 4 8-10/2011, first fill Sauternes barriques, 1628 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: quite a departure. This is really brimming with umami broths, soy sauce, smoky kippers covered in lemon juice, smoked paprika, toasted fennel seed and freshly baked brown bread spread with Marmite (an opinion dividing yeast extract, which I adore). Keeps on evolving with these notes of flambeed banana, kiwi, lime, exotic fruit teas and pine resin - some dried fruits as well such as apricot and sultana. Very impressive. With water: tarry, gamey, meaty, salty, lots of smoked almonds, toasted pumpkin seeds and a wee hint of petrol. Mouth: lots of smoked breads, smoked dark beers, broiled ham, cooking oils, natural tar extracts, herbal cough medicines, toothpaste, mineral oil, squid ink and Maggi. There’s a terrific meatiness and weight to the texture, while the balance between wood and distillate remains perfectly poised. With water: smoked olive oil, paprika, soot, peat embers and some crystallised and dark fruits mixed in amongst it all. Salty porridge with crispy bacon. Finish: long, leathery, sooty, smoky, peppery, briny and with lots of dried herbs, olive oil and bouillon stock. Comments: A great and very fascinating variation, good use of the Sauternes cask I would say. What’s for sure is that these are rather demanding whiskies which could probably become tiring in session level dramming situations (unless you’re Swedish, probably) but the overall impression is of their quality and sheer force of personality. In my view, Smögen is a name that makes you feel excited about the future of malt whisky.
SGP: 666 - 89 points.

 

 

 

 

March 27, 2020


Whiskyfun

MJ

Happy Confined International Whisk(e)y Day!

Every year since 2008, the original, truly non-commercial International Whisk(e)y Day celebrates the birthday of the late Michael Jackson, eternal king of whisky writing. Today raise a glass to Michael Jackson and please help fight Parkinson's Disease!
 

March 26, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Little Pairs of Laphroaig
Pair Four

Let’s try to have a little fun today. And have an intriguing official (but aren’t they all?)

Laphroaig 2005/2019 ‘PX, I love you’ (54.4%, OB, for Loch & Key, USA, cask #3, Vintage Cask)

Laphroaig 2005/2019 ‘PX, I love you’ (54.4%, OB, for Loch & Key, USA, cask #3, Vintage Cask) Three stars and a half
A funny thing for sure. I love PX too, but not in my Laphroaig! Sounds like cappuccino and bacon to me (apologies), or kippers and bananas. Or lamb and mint (ha). Colour: office coffee. Nose: well, it is okay. Exhaust fumes, leather polish, new sneakers, Linzertorte, Mon-Chéri, regular milk chocolate (I won’t mention chocolate with palm oil inside, out of charity), a little geraniol (geranium), rubber and tar, used matches, raisins… It’s not totally dissonant, I have to say. With water: really, lol. Between tequila and kirsch indeed, plus drops of Jäger and Uzbek tar liqueur. No, really, Uzbekistan. Mouth (neat): very loco, a kind of heavy lapsang souchong of whisky. Or smoked kirsch, really. I have to admit that it’s got some good sides having said that, the best being that it is not as rubbery as most other PXed peat monsters. There. With water: lapsang souchong. Finish: lapsang souchong for a good 30 secs. Comments: in French we’d call it ‘sympatoche’ but I just couldn’t find any equivalent word in English. Perhaps ‘friendly-funny’?
SGP:557 - 83 points.

More sherry, perhaps?

Laphroaig 18 yo 2001/2019 (59.3%, Signatory Vintage, for La Maison du Whisky, refill sherry butt, cask #319, 606 bottles)

Laphroaig 18 yo 2001/2019 (59.3%, Signatory Vintage, for La Maison du Whisky, refill sherry butt, cask #319, 606 bottles) Four stars
This one came out at Whisky Live Paris, right between the Gilets Jaunes and the strikes (in Paris we always organise strikes and demonstrations for tourists, just like our Chinese friends have their pandas – but pandas are smarter). Colour: light gold. Nose: it reminds me of the 30th anniversary as far as sherryness goes. I mean, the sherry’s very discreet and would just let the distillate speak out as much as it wants. Brine, shells, lime, chalk, and only a very moderate medicinal side. Quite some leather. With water: a wee bit more on the leathery side. Mouth (neat): oh very good! Perhaps simple, but it’s beautifully straightforward, almost abstract. Gentian, chalk, lemon, brine, touch of cardboard, or perhaps matchwood. With water: long, smoked almonds and putty. Saltier aftertaste, with some cucumber juice. No, let’s not exaggerate, no cucumber juice. Finish: long, classic salty and smoky style. Comments: excellent, but it’s not a classic medicinal Laphroaig.
SGP:467 - 87 points.

(Thank you Joe at Skinner’s)

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

 

March 25, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Little Pairs of Laphroaig
Pair Three

Let’s see what we find… Oh, perhaps two 1998s? Sherry? And of crazy quality? Not that great 1998s from Laphroaig’s are an unseen breed, I agree…

Laphroaig 20 yo 1998/2018 (58.3%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #700392, refill sherry butt, 573 bottles)

Laphroaig 20 yo 1998/2018 (58.3%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #700392, refill sherry butt, 573 bottles) Five stars
In theory, this should be stellar, but vorsicht, it may be heavily sherried (coffee and mustard, as we sometimes say). Colour: deep gold. Nose: phew! There is some oloroso, with old walnuts indeed, and even a little ham and mustard (sauce à la diable, we say), but that would just interpenetrate (what?) with the very smoky distillate. Absolutely wonderful notes of camphor, embrocations, cut agave, then game, seawater, shellfish, chartreuse, fennel, and a little engine oil again. Wow, as they say at Islay’s Got Talent. With water: damp fabric and chalk. Always works. Looks like the water I’m using kind of offsets the sherry – good to know! (I’m ready to ship this particular water to you, price is 5,000€ a litre – while stocks last!) Mouth (neat): sumptuous, rich, pretty creamy, and just flawless. Mushrooms, walnuts, dried beef and cured ham, lemon marmalade, oysters, grapefruit juice, iodine, cough syrup, green pepper, turmeric, seawater and.. hey oh, have I mentioned walnuts? With water: indeed it takes water very well. Tobacco, soft leather, walnuts, black olives, seawater… Finish: long and very salty. Comments: have the excellent people at the Distillery ever issued a vintage 1998, beyond some hand-filled ones?
SGP:467 - 92 points.

Laphroaig 21 yo 1998/2019 (54.4%, The Whisky Exchange, The Perfect Measure, oloroso, cask #117, 322 bottles)

Laphroaig 21 yo 1998/2019 (54.4%, The Whisky Exchange, The Perfect Measure, oloroso, cask #117, 322 bottles) Five stars
Something I don’t quite get, when London (I call them London) say ‘The Perfect Measure’, do they suggest that 70cl is that measure? Was that checked with some kind of post-Brexit health authorities? Also, they say it was finished in oloroso since 2010, but I’d rather call that double-maturation then. Indeed, the spirit of contradiction (nice name for a new range, no? Nah forget…) Colour: dark amber. Nose: I’ll say it (now that it sold out, unless I’m mistaken), it reminds of the official 1974 for La Maison. Smoked prunes, menthol cigarettes, 100 yo armagnac, brake fluid, resins, linseed oil, pine needles, green walnuts, walnut wine (or nocino), linoleum, Bénédictine, a drop of Bovril/Viandox… Isn’t this some kind of meta (or supra) food? With water: up up up. I’ll have to stop quoting Mark Spitz or Shirley Babashoff, but yeah, it swims pretty well. Mouth (neat): fabtastic, you just have to enjoy pinesap, fir bud liqueur, or indeed Chartreuse. Smoked Chartreuse, some very crazy monk must have thought about trying to concoct that! Also a little maraschino, guignolet… What’s sure is that it is splendid. With water: the distillate fighting back, with oysters, toothpaste, olives, lemons, cough syrup and just, well, ‘peat’. Finish: long, pretty creamy, a little more classic, with some leather, tobacco, marmalade, black tapenade… Comments: pretty mind-boggling. He who decided, back in 2010, to re-rack this one into this oloroso cask deserves our eternal consideration. And a few medals (just like Mark Spitz and Shirley Babashoff – oh come on, Serge!)
SGP:467 - 93 points.

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

 

March 24, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Little Pairs of Laphroaig
Pair Two

Two twelve years old, how does that sound? Including one OB, this little one…

Laphroaig 12 yo (43%, OB, Bonfanti Milano, decanter, 75cl, +/-1975)

Laphroaig 12 yo (43%, OB, Bonfanti Milano, stone flagon, 75cl, +/-1975) Five stars
Although the regular 10 yo white label for Bonfanti’s got an even higher reputation, this 12 never went unnoticed in Laphroaigland either, even if decanters or flagons usually give cold sweats to aficionados, until they are open. I mean, those flagons. Colour: gold. Nose: typical late 1950s or early 1960 Laphroaig, that is to say full of mangos and other tropical fruits (maracuja), all that mingled with soft coastal tones, creosote, drops of maraschino, a few mentholy herbs (carrot top?) and the subtle touches of marrow and miso soup. It’s all very complex, certainly not ‘evaporated’ or fragile, and perhas just a tad less fresh than the legendary 10 yo for Bonfanti. Or, for that matter, Philippi or Cinzano. A little coffee too. How complex! Mouth: it did not lose one single horsepower (but it’s not a Ferrari). Rather saltier and meatier on the palate, with some beef jerky, mole sauce, touches of clay (from the ceramic?), then really a lot of very salty miso, with a little honey to boot. You could almost use this as a sauce for your Chinese dumplings (but please no pangolin). Finish: medium, meaty. Cold chicken bouillon with a drop of honey. Dropped a wee bit, not too sure about the finish. Some preserved apricots in the aftertaste, maybe. Comments: I don’t think all batches of the 12 were the same, and that all flagons have kept this well. Having said that, as much as the nose was really fantabulous, the palate did show some wee signs of tiredness here and there. A little too much OCE, after all? (that’s Old ceramic Effect, lol). Oh and it was only very moderately peaty, but we know that peat kind of transmutes itself over the decades.
SGP:464 - 90 points.

So perhaps a modern 12 IB now?

Laphroaig 12 yo 2006/2019 (57.2%, Distiller’s Art for HNWS, refill sherry butt, cask #HL15653, 546 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 2006/2019 (57.2%, Distiller’s Art for HNWS, refill sherry butt, cask #HL15653, 546 bottles) Four stars and a half
A series by Hunter Laing indeed. Colour: gold. Nose: I suppose it’s the sherry cask that imparted these notes of roots, Jerusalem artichokes, or parsnips… Behind that, tons of smoked almonds and the usual high-medicinal style, more so than in yesterday’s ‘phroaigs for sure. Mercurochrome over celeriac, so some kind of rémoulade if you will. I like this (I mean, not mercurochrome over celeriac). With water: engine oil, smoke, chalk, fresh paint and grapefruit juice. Impeccable. Mouth (neat): powerful, straight, almondy, rather on putty and marzipan at first, then we have a lot of salt and stewed oysters. Indeed, some savages do that. And a lot of medicinal smoke! With water: arch classic un-fiddled with young Laphroaig. It’s  not a ‘very refill’ butt that’ll change anything in this context – loud applause! Finish: long, salty, almondy, just very good. No drop this time, this one would run a marathon. Comments: this young baby almost iced the old Bonfanti, but that one had a nose that puts it in a different dimension.
SGP:457 - 89 points.

(Thank you François and Tony)

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

 

March 23, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Little Pairs of Laphroaig
Pair One

A bit busy these (confined) days, I think I’ll have to cut into my little sessions for a few days and rather focus on duos. No, no refunds planned, but nice try.

Laphroaig 15 yo 2004/2019 (51.6%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, cask #50088, 240 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 2004/2019 (51.6%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, cask #50088, 240 bottles) Four stars
Don’t our friends over there love their dragons? But OMG, the 2004 vintage is already 15. Time flies as fast as… dragons, does it not. Colour: gold. Nose: immediate, almost instantaneous raw mineral peat (vs. medicinal) plus lime juice and light custard. It's rather raw, pretty simple, not too far from some recent OBs (can’t remember the names, ages are easy to remember, Gaelic not so…) Then rather bell pepper and juniper, seashells, and a very grassy smoke. With water: some oak spices for sure, but balance has been kept. Modern Laphroaig as the distillery themselves are proposing these days. Mouth (neat): very punchy, and all in keeping with the nose, full of a grassy smokiness, citrus peel, Thai basil, green pepper, and ‘licking pebbles’. Are there good pebbles on the Islay beaches? Machir? Really sharp. With water: same feelings, plus touches of salt and green pepper. More oak spices in the aftertaste (some curry?) Finish: long, saltier indeed, spicier. Comments: I find this very very good, it’s just that it does not do things by half. And it would spare no one. Ah, yes, that’s Cairdeas…
SGP:377 - 87 points.

So another one… and why change bottler?

Laphroaig 19 yo 1999/2018 (56.1%, Or Sileis, Arthurian Tales series, sherry hogshead, cask #1688, 295 bottles)

Laphroaig 19 yo 1999/2018 (56.1%, Or Sileis, Arthurian Tales series, sherry hogshead, cask #1688, 295 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: less wood influence, a fresher, somewhat lighter profile, and a wonderful coastal zestiness that will clear your airways, from nostrils to bronchi. Oh and a whole plate of Gruinart oysters sprinkled with Vicks’ Vaporub. Will have to try that one day! With water: pretty much on the same wavelength. Some cough syrup and embrocations rubbed between your hands. Mouth (neat): luminous, sharp, extremely smoky, with a lot of lemon, seawater, and mercurochrome. Pristine. With water:  bit old-school Laphroaig, which is a compliment, obviously. Finish: this is where it tends to converge with the 2004, with a few greenish oak spices showing up. Comments: top contemporary Laphroaig. We’ll see what we’ll fin tomorrow… In the meantime, stay safe.  
SGP:467 - 89 points.

(Thanks Jason)

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

 

March 22, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Number One
Today some rum

One week of confinement already here in Alsace. Wife and cats at home, children in Paris or in Strasbourg, and thousands of spirits to choose from, should the postal services or couriers stop working. We could hold out for between two and three years at the current pace, but of course, we’d have to gradually taste the boring stuff we’ve always been procrastinating with. Bah. So, a few rums today, let’s see what we can find in the stash. By the way, hope all the distilleries that have columns are now producing 95% vol. ethanol to make hand gel! Anyway, stay safe, don’t drink too much, and take heart!

Worthy Park 12 yo 2007/2020 (58%, Thompson Brothers for The Whisky Exchange, Jamaica)

Worthy Park 12 yo 2007/2020 (58%, Thompson Brothers for The Whisky Exchange, Jamaica) Five stars
Very lovely label there, kudos to the artist. Colour: gold. Nose: instant tarry pleasures. S&M snorkelling outfit, olives, gherkins, hints of mango tarte. Or a tarte tatin made with mangos instead of apples. Dornoch Castle, are you game? With water: green olives and seawater. Say rather the Mediterranean. Mouth (neat): fantastic. Mint drops, liquorice lozenges, mango jam, banana liqueur, black olives. With water: anchovies and sardines. Careful whisky folks, these Jamaicans do not take water as well as most malt whiskies do, so please add H2O drop by drop or you may just kill them. Finish: long and salty. Pineapples and guavas and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s not a difficult WP at all, it’s even kind of easy, but quality remains high. Extremely high.
SGP:563 - 90 points.

Yeah right, go try to climb over such a WP… But Bielle can do it!

Bielle 13 yo 2006/2019 (47.9%, Rasta Morris, Marie-Galante, cask #RM019, 56 bottles)

Bielle 13 yo 2006/2019 (47.9%, Rasta Morris, Marie-Galante, cask #RM019, 56 bottles) Four stars and a half
As you may know, Marie-Galante is a small island that’s administratively part of Guadeloupe. The rums they make over there are nothing short of spectacular. Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, Bielle can survive both Worthy Park and Hampden on your tasting table. In truth this is out of this world, less big than the Jamaican s for sure, but much more complex. In this very case, I’m finding (hope you’ve got some time) bananas, liquorice, mangos, olives, putty, ylang-ylang, vanilla fudge, peach pie, peat (yep), grenadine, raspberry yoghurt, gorse, motor oil, menthol… and god knows what else. Mouth: mah, the best teas there ever was. Superb oaky concoction, that is to say obvious strong oak but all in balance and elegance, then liquorice and mint lozenges. Not as complex as on the nose, and probably a little more rustic, but it wouldn’t spare you. It’s powerful rum. Finish: long, a tad pungent and gritty (oak), but otherwise just perfect. Saltier aftertaste – we’re almost eating Belgian mussels. Cheers Rasta Morris! Comments: what a stunner again! Only the oakiness was a wee tad too obvious, not sure if this was aged in the tropics or in Scotland or Holland. Ha.
SGP:462 - 89 points.
Update:
this lovely babay matured in the Tropics and spent only three months in Europe

Since were doing bigly stuff (Donald!)…

Lost Spirits ‘Cuban Inspired Rum’ (75.5%, OB, USA, +/-2019)

Lost Spirits ‘Cuban Inspired Rum’ (75.5%, OB, USA, +/-2019) Two stars
At this strength we’ll do it fastly because we have importanter issues to deal with, believe me (Donald, come out of this poor body!)  – unless, having said that, we use it as hand gel. What should we do? Colour: deep gold. Nose: nice! Coffee liqueur, liquorice, cured ham. This one rather goes towards the Santiago range as far as Cubans are concerned, which is great news as the rest is… forgettable. With water: nice black earth and mushrooms. But are you allowed to write ‘Cuban’ on an American bottle? Wouldn’t that send you straight to Guantanamo? Mouth (neat): some intriguing flavours here and there, but coffee-infused cologne, no thanks. With water: not bad, really, bu the distillate’s a tad thin, I would say. Too ‘columny’, where’s the pot-sill aguardiente? Finish: bizarrely shortish. Coffee liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: interesting, but probably not needed, except if you live in Orangeland, I suppose. No that’s not the Netherlands. Loved other Lost Spirits much better.
SGP:441- 72 points.

WeiRon Cask 01 (52.7%, Svenska Eldvatten, 320 bottles, 2017)

WeiRon Cask 01 (52.7%, Svenska Eldvatten, 320 bottles, 2017) Three stars
This has been finished in Swedish virgin oak barrels, while I had thought our friends up there had used all their old oak trees to build warships! Colour: gold. Nose: olives, tar, liquorice, ripened bananas, touch of vanilla. No complains so far. With water: lighter. Mouth (neat): very Jamaican, with some extra-fruitiness and touches of sweeter and rounder vanilla-led rum. Column stuff. With water: once again the columny rums are having the upper hand once water’ been added. Coz I suppose this is a blend, am I not right? Finish: same. Coffee. Comments: very good, but maybe a little thin. I would humbly suggest that the pot vs. column proportions are a little too much in favour of those bl**dy columns. Better make 95% ethanol for making hand gel these days!
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Uitvlugt 25 yo 1993/2019 (51.2%, Cadenhead, Guyana, barrel)

Uitvlugt 25 yo 1993/2019 (51.2%, Cadenhead, Guyana, barrel) Two stars and a half
The mark here is ‘MPM’. That’s the thing with continental aging, which is obviously the case here, while I perfectly understand why a few distillers would prefer that their make would be integrally aged in the tropics, the best ones still stem from Europe in my book, unless you dig straight oak juices. Some tough decisions to be made here as far as GIs go … (I’m not talking about junk double-ageing, unlikely finishings in brandy casks, or suspicious sauced-up casks). Colour: gold. Nose: I would say you feel the ‘slower’ aging here, even if it’s lighter Uitvlugt in this case. Hay, olives, notes of copper, brine… With water: curiously light. 25 years are fine, of course, but in this case we’re closer to grain whisky. In my book a 25 yo grain whisky is a very young grain whisky! Mouth (neat): good, pretty easy, not thick, with oranges, aniseed, and apple juice. Perhaps the thinnest Uitvlugt I’ve ever tasted. With water: even thinner. Did this come from BoJo’s own reserve? Finish: very short, but not ugly at all. It’s just pretty frustrating. Comments: some Uitvlugt unlike most other Uitvlugts. I mean, this is much thinner, but it is still very good rum.
SGP:441 - 79  points.

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

 

March 21, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent and guest taster Angus MacRaild

 

 

Pairing with isolation Angus  
Despite all the workmanlike humour flying about the place, I think we can all agree, this is not exactly the greatest of times. For some of us with vulnerable friends and loved ones it is unpleasantly stressful and frightening. And of course, for most of us, there are all manner of unsettling economic realities to contend with. However, Whiskyfun remains open, life goes on and there’s every good reason to let whisky work its original and intended magic: relax, unwind, laugh, share where possible, get a little tipsy - carve out a few wee pockets of fun and joy here and there. Anyway, enough prevarication, let’s try a bundle of newish whiskies in pairs.

 

Linkwood 10 yo (48.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, Batch 7, 1634 bottles)

Linkwood 10 yo (48.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, Batch 7, 1634 bottles)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: immediately rather yeasty, sharp and sourdough-esque. Lots of clay, hot plastic, bailed hay, feta cheese, lemon barley water and baking soda. A strange concoction of different organoleptic forces. Mouth: a little more cohesive but at the same time rather plain. Fresh cereals, toast, baked pastries, a very light, creamy sweetness, buttermilk icing, sunflower oil and orange peel. Perfectly nice but utterly forgettable I’m afraid. Finish: a little short and rather full of bubblegum, artificial sweetener, apple sourz and wee hint of nutmeg. Comments: It’s a totally harmless wee Linkwood, minding its own business. It’s just that it has something of a ‘blending stock’ vibe going on.
SGP: 441 - 76 points.

 

 

Linkwood 10 yo 2008/2019 (56%, Filmnik ‘The curious case of Benjamin Button’, cask #303292, hogshead, 298 bottles)

Linkwood 10 yo 2008/2019 (56%, Filmnik ‘The curious case of Benjamin Button’, cask #303292, hogshead, 298 bottles)
You may recall that The curious case of Benjamin Button featured a character who aged in reverse, feel free to draw your own comparisons with the world of whisky… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it’s the Boutique-y, only wielding a hot skewer of alcohol! Cream crackers, fresh vinyl, baking soda, white bread, sunflower seeds, cod liver oil and fabric softener. A curious but hyper fresh nose that is somehow so plain it has gone through the infinity loop and become charismatic again! With water: all on plain oatcakes, linens, chalk, lanolin and crisp dry cereals now. Mouth: quite sweet but it’s a big and emphatically malt-derived, natural sweetness. Lots of icing sugar, barley sugars, bitter lemon, limoncello in tonic water, orange vitamin tablets and fruity travel sweets. Also a light vanilla custard note too. With water: a sense of white madeira, cut green apple, some gooseberry-flecked acidity and malt loaf. Gets rather fulsome and attractive with a little water I must say. Finish: good length, nicely mouth coating, oily and balanced between creamy vanilla sweetness and these drier, more bready autolytic notes. Comments: Much to enjoy here, even if it does suffer a little from this generic plainness once again. I feel these parcels of casks are  a good example of what happens when rather homogenised distillate comes up against relatively inactive refill wood. You can have plain oak or plain distillate, but plainness in both gives you painfully plain whisky. Are you still with me? Hello out there…?
SGP: 551 - 81 points.

 

 

Imperial 23 yo 1995/2019 (45.2%, The Whisky Exchange ‘The Magic Of The Cask’, refill barrel, 125 bottles)

Imperial 23 yo 1995/2019 (45.2%, The Whisky Exchange ‘The Magic Of The Cask’, refill barrel, 125 bottles)
I’m predictably late with this one. This one was bottled for last year’s Whisky Show in London; I’m a big fan of the labels for this series which were done specially for people on 2CB and LSD. Colour: straw. Nose: waxes, pollens and honeys. Everything in its place and, unlike the wee Linkwoods we had before, this is a textbook example of that holy trinity equation of characterful distillate + good refill wood + time. These light honey notes develop elegantly towards heather, camphor, putty, lemon peel and a lightly peppery and rather fragrant waxiness. Citronella candles, honeyed oatmeal and cough medicines. Mouth: extremely easy and - dare I say it? - smooth arrival. More of these soft medical notes like gauze and embrocations with notes of slightly salty mead, sandalwood and heather honey. More camphor, white pepper, putty and some rich cereal tones. Finish: medium length and still on waxes, camphor, citrus pith, pepper and some juicy white stone fruits. Comments: Have you heard? Imperial: it’s the new closed distillery that everyone’s talking about! Hurry while stocks last!
SGP: 562 - 90 points.

 

 

Imperial 25 yo 1994/2019 (44.1%, Elixir Distillers, Single Malts Of Scotland ‘UK exclusive’, cask #5867, barrel, 185 bottles)

Imperial 25 yo 1994/2019 (44.1%, Elixir Distillers, Single Malts Of Scotland ‘UK exclusive’, cask #5867, barrel, 185 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: very close to the 95 but with more emphasis on sandalwood, gorse flowers, heather honey, mineral oil, waxes, crushed seashells, ink and aspirin. Similarly full of pollens, pressed wildflowers, herbal teas and wee touches of spearmint and eucalyptus. It’s really not far away from some late 80s Clynelish, only with more emphasis on fabrics, putty and cereals. Mouth: drier, leaner, more peppery, still rather waxy but overall more on scattered stony minerals, cough medicines, bitter lemon and dried tarragon. Finish: medium and full of warmth, honey, sweet cereals, light waxiness and again these wee coastal and medical flourishes. Comments: I really do think these mid-90s batches of Imperial are shy but hugely impressive. They share quite a bit with the likes of Clynelish and Ben Nevis from similar vintages, which can’t be a bad thing. This one was a tad drier and narrower but still cruising at the same high quality level.
SGP: 462 - 90 points.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 14 yo ‘Warehouse 9’ (59.9%, OB hand fill 2017, 1st fill oloroso sherry, cask #1490)

Bunnahabhain 14 yo ‘Warehouse 9’ (59.9%, OB hand fill 2017, 1st fill oloroso sherry, cask #1490)
These bottlings come in handy ‘neckable’ 20cl formats. Or, massively overpriced, cheapskate 20cl sizes. Depending on your cynicism levels on any given day. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: big, earthy and beefy with an abundance of prunes in Armagnac, coffee and dark fruit chutney. Things like brown sauce, mole, soy sauce, Dundee cake, gingerbread and black olives. Big, uncomplicated and powerful stuff designed to seduce sherry lovers. With water: gets more dense and medical with things like natural tar, roof pitch and then leaf mulch, walnut oil, hessian and dunnage earthiness. Mouth: beef stock, camphor, paraffin, soot, bike chain grease, almond oil, canvass and pine resin. Massively dense, dark and earthy. Also laden with tobaccos, dried mushroom powder and bitter chocolate. With water: savoury, umami, chocolatey, bitter coffee, macadamia nuts and a rather saline crispness. Finish: long, meaty, gamey, leathery, chocolatey, bitter, salty and umami. Comments: Hard not to be impressed. What’s surprising is that there are more than a few Bunna calling card flavours and aromas which have run the sherry gauntlet and come up loud and clear on the other side. Recommended if you can find such things. I’m sure they pop up at auctions courtesy of those ‘flippers’ we all love to hate.
SPG: 662 - 88 points.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 1974/1989 (57.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #10.7)

Bunnahabhain 1974/1989 (57.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #10.7)
Why not a wee blast from the past while we’re at Bunnahabhain…? Colour: light amber. Nose: what I love about Bunnahabhain is that, when it’s on form, it manages to be wonderfully distinctive and very ‘Islay’ without the crutch of peat. This is a delicate balancing act between dried seaweeds, ripe exotic and green fruits, salted mead, heather honey and then some lovely fragrant notes like sandalwood, cured meats, smoked teas and herbal bitters. Elegance, precision and complexity. With water: becomes sweeter and more herbal, close to yellow Chartreuse with a persistent, underlying saltiness. Some orange cordial, cooking oils and salted peanuts. Mouth: extremely umami, that is to say wonderfully resinous and saline. Lots of soy sauce, cured game meats, dried seaweed, ramen broth, miso, medical embrocations, natural tar and then some sweetness from boiled lime sweets, children’s cough medicines and cherry throat sweets. There’s also a sense of crystallised fruits chopped into muesli. With water: again it’s meats, followed by umami and then dried and crystallised fruits. Extremely ‘full’ and rather oily and fatty in texture. Finish: long and still wonderfully savoury, fatty, oily, salty, lightly nutty and getting rather peppery and medical. Comments: Old style Islay on one hand, but also a rather singular and totally different aspect on ‘Islay’ that is pretty specific to Bunnahabhain I’d say. Anyway, this is rather complex and slightly ‘intellectual’ stuff, but I think it’s also extremely good. There’s also more than a few strands of DNA between this one and the OB, which I find very cool.
SGP: 662 - 90 points.

 

 

Port Charlotte 15 yo 2002/2017 (59.4%, OB private cask bottling, cask #0002, refill bourbon + fresh Haut-Brion hogshead, 267 bottles)

Port Charlotte 15 yo 2002/2017 (59.4%, OB private cask bottling, cask #0002, refill bourbon + fresh Haut-Brion hogshead, 267 bottles)
Colour: rose gold. Nose: this farminess that I find quite particular to the 2001, 2002 and 2003 Port Charlottes is present here, but there’s also a worrying vinous oddity about it too. Salted liquorice, seawater, sour cherry lambic, goat cheese and white balsamic. Extremely tart with a rather volatile acidity. With water: leafier, much smokier and gutsier. More mechanical, sooty, peppery and briny. Also touches of silage, which feeds back into this farmyard funk vibe. (Can we start one of those whisky industry bands and call it Farmyard Funk yet please?) Mouth: again farmy to start then the wine just becomes too pushy, cloying and a bit unbalanced. Quite sweet, sooty, lots of pure peat smoke, sweetened tar liqueur, iodine, smoked fish, cola syrup and cherryade. I find it pretty tough really I’m afraid. With water: again the peat and the wine cask make for disquieted bedfellows. Cherry soap, natural tar, green peppercorns in brine, freeze dried strawberries. Generally a bit strange and tough. Finish: long, smoked soap, tar, pepper, seawater, oysters, grapefruit juice and miso. Comments: I know that some will probably love this, but it’s not for me I’m afraid. I find that the wood and the spirit just jar too sharply. I love peat and a I love wine, but I don’t think they like each other and they tend to spoil parties when they’re both in attendance.
SGP: 667 - 77 points.

 

 

Port Charlotte 17 yo 2002/2020 (49.7%, Thompson Brothers, 217 bottles)

Port Charlotte 17 yo 2002/2020 (49.7%, Thompson Brothers, 217 bottles)
Colour: unsurprisingly softer and with a rather silky smokiness. Although, it’s still typically quite farmy, sooty and displaying notes of crispy bacon, tar, black olive, smoked dried herbs, salt baked white fish and kippers. Hits that sweet spot of smoky, farmy and coastal! There’s also a rather pure and lean medical streak running underneath. Mouth: smoked sea salt, brine, petrol, hessian, squid ink and lapsang souchong tea. Sardines in olive oil, rock pool water, dried seaweed and even some strangely floral notes like pot pourri and gorse flower. In fact what’s appealing is that over time more and more of these lighter notes emerge. Wee notes of sandalwood, gooseberry, green apple and dandelion. Quite unusual and probably something to do with being bottled at a reduced ABV. Finish: long, elegantly coastal, citrusy, smoky cereals, pink sea salt and a lightly herbal peat smoke. Still residually farmy as well. Comments: I do think Port Charlotte from the early 2000s is some of the best and most interesting distillate from the new ownership years of Bruichladdich. Very fun to see it coming into full maturity now. This one was superb and rather captivating.
SGP: 576 - 90 points.

 

 

Thanks KC!

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2020


Whiskyfun

MESSAGE from the Editor to our Edinburgh branch
We have no proof that old Springbank works against the coronavirus. I repeat, we have no proof that old Springbank works against the coronavirus. Having said that, neither are we sure that bagpipes do actually scare the virus.

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Springbank Mega-sesh
A veritable peatstack of Springbank has arisen here at Whiskyfun Edinburgh HQ. Due in no small part to the recent tasting I co-hosted at the Old & Rare show the other week. Let’s roll up our sleeves and plunge into what should be a rather pleasurable big session. We’ll attempt to go roughly backwards in time adhering to the (in most cases theoretical) distillation date.

 

I would also like to add, this tasting was not all done in one fail swoop!

 

 

Springbank 14 yo 2004 (57.7%, OB ‘Cage’, fresh sherry hogshead, 1 bottle)

Springbank 14 yo 2004 (57.7%, OB ‘Cage’, fresh sherry hogshead, 1 bottle)
I know, I know. Writing notes for these ‘cage’ bottlings is pretty pointless. But they’re often good benchmarks for contemporary Springbank. Colour: amber. Nose: a little closed at first. Lots of damp leaves, bracken, soot and earth. Leaning towards things like dark chocolate and some rather animalistic touches. The ‘Springbankiness’ is a tad shy and buried. With water: some nice notes of bitter orange, salty liquorice, Maggi and a rather punchy herbal quality. Mouth: again rather leafy, bitter and peppery. Lots of cocoa powder, soot, cured meats and some rather salty and savoury meat stock notes. One of these rather typically beefy sherry casks that Springbank seem to have no shortage of. With water: again rather drying, salty, straight and earthy. Some notes of brown bread and sooty cereals emerging now as well. That meaty tone has calmed a little. Some preserved lemons show up as well. Finish: medium and nicely saline and fresh. Comments: I can see why it was a cage bottling and not a single cask. Still good though. Ideal for passing the night in a C-town air bnb.
SGP: 473 - 85 points.

 

 

Springbank 19 yo (50.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company for Han-She, sherry, bottled 2019)

Springbank 19 yo (50.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company for Han-She, sherry, bottled 2019)
Han-She is a private whisky club and bar owned by a very nice but offensively youthful chap from Beijing named Bihan Yang. Colour: coppery amber. Nose: it’s a rather sooty and earthy one again, however here you have these lovely additional aromas of cedar wood, unlit cigars, menthol cigarettes and bitter marmalade. Continues with various medical linens and bandages with a good slathering of BBQ sauce. With water: once again the development is in the direction of freshly baked brown breads, dark grains, Scotch broth, light notes of iodine and salty seaweed flakes in ramen. Mouth: again this very meaty and earthy style of sherry. Lots of soot, camphor, smoky bacon, mole sauce, herbal bitters and things like rope and hessian. This impression of coal dust once again. With water: big, bitter, herbal, slightly smoky and full of things like ink, carbon paper, meats, earth, bitter coffee and sack cloth. Also getting peppery and full of smoky chilli notes. Quite impressive. Finish: long, meaty, herbal, bitter and sooty with a medial and deeply earthy aftertaste. Comments: It’s an impressive whisky no doubt. However, I can’t help but feel that these sherry casks are of a somewhat divisive character. Those with an aversion or sensitivity to the more grubby, rough and ready style of sherry will probably find this tough going. There are parts which merit 90 but technically I don’t think it’s quite there overall. Still excellent, boisterous and fun whisky though.
SGP: 473 - 88 points.

 

 

Springbank 22 yo 1995/2018 (44.3%, Svenska Eldvatten, cask #498, refill sherry hogshead, 137 bottles)

Springbank 22 yo 1995/2018 (44.3%, Svenska Eldvatten, cask #498, refill sherry hogshead, 137 bottles)
This new in from those Swedish dudes over at Eldvatten. Colour: deep gold. Nose: very rustic and charming. Lots of roasted nuts, coffee cake, dry earth, walnuts, peanuts, metal polish and some more vegetal hints of grilled asparagus and meaty notes of salty Iberico ham. Mouth: it’s a clean sherry cask. Just extremely nutty and with this rather lean, cured meat vibe. Lots of dry roast peanuts, anthracite, dried herbs, charcoal, sooty qualities and some cocoa powder. Perhaps on the more quirky side of 90s Springbank. Mutton, bouillon stock, boot polish, leather, hessian and oily rags. It lacks a little oomph, but it compensates with a lot of charisma and mechanical schmooze (what?!) Finish: medium, lightly tarry, rather herbal, still pretty sooty and with some final savoury meaty and peppery qualities. Comments: It’s hard to know what to make of these batches sometimes, they can wrong foot you quite easily. Here the sherry is clean but just a tad unusual, although the charm wins out in the end. One to sip from a hip flask after a long day operating a lathe perhaps…?
SGP: 463 - 88 points.

 

 

Springbank 26 yo 1992/2019 (47.7%, The Whisky Kingdom & Duckhammers, cask #153b, bourbon barrel, 111 bottles)

Springbank 26 yo 1992/2019 (47.7%, The Whisky Kingdom & Duckhammers, cask #153b, bourbon barrel, 111 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: oooh. Beautiful and very classical aroma of waxes, pollens, sandalwood, hessian and lamp oil. Also this underlying wispy peat quality all tied up with medicines, chalk and beach pebbles. This lovely triumvirate of coastal, peaty and waxy that the best modern Springbanks possess. Also various dried and crystallised fruits as well. Given time it kind of breaks down further into citronella candles, crushed seashells, ink and some rather scattered minerals. Gorgeous nose! Mouth: totally superb arrival all on bath salts, beach foam, chalk, canvass, waxes, honey, salty mead, putty, dried mint and herbal cough medicines. Mid-era Springbank that displays some unusually floral and fruity touches. Finish: good length. All on hessian, dried seaweed, honey, candied exotic fruits, waxes, sheep wool and hints of wintergreen and old Chartreuse. Comments: I just love this style. The purity, richness and idiosyncrasy of the flavours is terrific. Although, from some angles its typically early 1990s Springbank, while in others it appears a tad more divergent.
SGP: 562 - 91 points.

 

 

Springbank 12 yo ‘100 Proof’ (57%, OB, b1996 for UK, rotation ’96/340’)

Springbank 12 yo ‘100 Proof’ (57%, OB, b1996 for UK, rotation ’96/340’)
One of a legendary series of bottlings produced in the mid-1990s for the UK and the USA. Stories abound about these being ‘topped up’ with older stocks, or reduced to bottling strength with older under proof casks. What’s certain is that these batches do contain whisky older than 12 and that they carry a hefty reputation for a reason. Colour: gold. Nose: there is certainly something ‘old Springbank’ about this. The richness and fruitiness of the sherry is immediately striking. Lots of toasted walnuts, dried flowers, Dundee cake, hessian, figs, old Cognac, lightly tarry notes and then more mineral notes of oily rag, wet rock, linens, clay and putty. Things like ink, dried tarragon, game meats and aged pu ehr tea. It’s just another level of depth, taut potency and complexity altogether. With water: gets lighter, leafier, more black tea, tobaccos, menthol, balsamic, walnut oil and pine resin. Mouth: stunningly gamey, meaty, earthy and fruity. Lots of dark stewed fruits, sultanas, raisins, figs and various fruit preserves and jams. Meat broths, waxes, bouillon, umami and black olive paste. There’s also the warmth of English mustard powder and black pepper - punchy and extremely assertive. You could almost add some very grassy virgin olive oil too. With water: pow! Goes pretty ballistic on the complexity side. Immense, controlled and yet diverse with all these different strands of meaty, fruity, waxy, mineral, nutty and even rather coastal now too. Dash it all! Call the anti-maltoporn brigade! Finish: super long, nervously sherried, crystallised fruits, resinous, a kind of fluttering salinity, earthy, peppery, spicy paprika, embrocations and dried mint. Comments: In parts a beast and in parts a gentleman. What’s for sure though is that this is dazzling and compelling whisky that holds your attention on a knife-edge. I think the 50% versions are a notch more stellar, but we are flying undeniably above cloud level here.
SGP: 664 - 94 points.

 

 

Springbank 34 yo 1975/2010 (40.5%, OB ‘private cask’, cask #99/165-1)

Springbank 34 yo 1975/2010 (40.5%, OB ‘private cask’, cask #99/165-1)
How many of these private cask label bottlings have there been now? Not sure anyone truly knows, quality can be all over the place in my experience. Colour: orangey gold. Nose: oily rags, highly polished minerals, soot, wee rocks, fabric, pure mineral oil, hessian. It’s not unlike some mid-1990s Springbank but rather lighter and more polished by age. I also get rather a lot of things like tangerine liqueurs, herbal cough medicines, wintergreen, menthol and wee touches of fennel and caraway. Lovely nose, if a tad fragile. Mouth: orange vitamin tablets in soda water and rather a lot of herbs and sooty earthy notes. More minerals, struck flints and salty savoury broths. Again fragile but nicely complex and elegant. Springbank, but on the subtle side. Gets a tad teaish and weak towards the end, a little cardboard. Probably bottled about 4 years too late. Finish: a bit short, on cough medicines, wool, herbs and some breads. Comments: Some parts were extremely attractive but overall it’s over the hill I would say. Still, you get a clear picture of how it would have been a few years earlier which is nice, depending on how masochistic you’re feeling.
SGP: 551 - 85 points.

 

 

Springbank 30 yo 1972/2002 (57.8%, Chieftain’s Choice, cask #410, sherry, 576 bottles)

Springbank 30 yo 1972/2002 (57.8%, Chieftain’s Choice, cask #410, sherry, 576 bottles)
Many great Springbanks from this Chieftain’s series… Colour: orange amber. Nose: tinned fruits in syrup such as apricots, peaches, pineapple and plums. Then lychee, orange liqueur, kumquat and evolving some notes of putty, cocktail bitters, herbal extracts, mint tea and lemon cordial. Explosive but also rather precise and brilliant. Wonderfully nervous, punchy fruitiness. With water: uber fresh! Very coastal, zingy, sharp, citrus and saline with an assortment of dried exotic fruits. Mouth: crystallised fruits, mint leaf, mulchy and earthy tones, raisins and some slightly beefy, meaty notes. Lots of saline liquid seasonings and stocky broth notes. Miso, soy sauce, white pepper, some light medical notes and cough syrup. With water: pow! superbly fruity with a concentrated saline precision. Powerful, umami, earthy, lightly tannic, salty and quivering with tart acidity and fruity freshness. Finish: long, wonderfully herbal, oily, waxy, tart, lemony acidic and fizzing with coastal salinity. Comments: A big salty slap in the face! Totally commands attention with the way it veers between fruits, medicine and seashore. Wonderful and rather specific in style to the early 1970s vintages I would say.
SGP: 753 - 92 points.

 

 

Springbank 12 yo (80 proof, OB, ceramic jug, UK, bottled late 1970s)

Springbank 12 yo (80 proof, OB, ceramic jug, UK, bottled late 1970s)
Colour: straw (I’ve seen darker vattings of this at the same ABV and from roughly the same era so there must be a few variants out there) Nose: what’s funny is how close we are to the 1992. We’re still in this maelstrom of clays, waxes, putty, chalk, beach pebbles, ink and soft peat. Only here there’s a more focused and concentrated layer of exotic fruits draped over everything. Things like melon, papaya, mango and kumquat. Mouth: starts surprisingly soft but then builds beautifully. Syrupy, slightly greasy, oily and fat in texture. Salty, waxy, some citrus peels, chalk and again this rather punchy medical quality. Brilliant distillate! Finish: long, peppery, lemony, medical, chalky, waxy and nicely mineral. Comments: These ceramics can be a bit hit or miss due to storage and the mysteries of OBE, but when they’re good they’re seriously great.
SGP: 653 - 92 points.

 

 

Springbank 12 yo (80 proof, OB, UK, bottled late 1970s)

Springbank 12 yo (80 proof, OB, UK, bottled late 1970s)
This one will be interesting as it should be very similar liquid bottled very close in time to the ceramic. Colour: pale straw. Nose: drier, fatter, greasier and more towards grassy olive oil, punchy minerals, camphor, sheep wool and a more assertive coastal quality. Lots of petrol, limestone, lemon peel and a drier, more brittle waxiness. This kind of peppery hessian quality. You really feel like this is edging backwards into a different era of production now. Things like ink, carbon paper, soot and seawater. Mouth: totally superb power and control. Wonderfully oily, saline, fat and peppery. Lighter fluid mixed with seawater, black olives and preserved lemons. Again this rather petrolic and mineral quality with hessian and some soft but precise peatiness. Brilliant whisky. Finish: long, salty, lemony and full of canvass, sandalwood ashes, newspaper ink, dried herbs and bandages. Comments: Another world of flavour from a lost era of production in Scotch malt whisky. Even for Springbank this feels like something out of a time warp. But it remains totally stunning and with a gripping freshness, even after these years in bottle.
SGP: 463 - 93 points.

 

 

Springbank 39 yo 1969/2008 (57.8%, Chieftain’s, cask #794, butt, 150 bottles)

Springbank 39 yo 1969/2008 (57.8%, Chieftain’s, cask #794, butt, 150 bottles)
57.8% at nearly 40 years old? Cannot be a bad omen… Colour: pale gold. Nose: what the hell is this? Smoked banana liqueur mixed with old medicines. It’s not the most complex nose but by Jove it’s stunning! The kind of focused, syrupy and juicy concentration that is to die for. Smoked grapefruit, lemon peel, olive oil, tar, passion fruit, gauze, elastoplasts, embrocations and crushed seashells drizzled with mineral oil. Over time the complexity increases and just becomes rather bamboozling. With water: amazing how it changes direction almost instantly. Gets straighter, more classically dry, mineral, chiselled and taut. Nervous coastal bite, citrus, petrol, waxes and a wealth of tropical fruits. Spellbinding stuff! Mouth: totally amazing arrival! Hot herbal liqueurs mixed with salty old mead, pine resin, some kind of peated olive oil, natural tar liqueur, cough medicine and ancient green Chartreuse! Still this kind of mad banana syrup note running throughout. The anti-maltoporn brigade had better be on speed dial! With water: gah! Utterly stunning with water. Herbal, medical, peaty, salty, resinous, divinely fruity, concentrated and hugely complex. Finish: very long. Stupendously salty, punchy, savoury and tingling with dried exotic fruits, herbal teas, smoked shellfish, tar, medicines and white pepper. Comments: This one began with brilliant but deceptive simplicity and just kind of lumbered forward in a series of surprise explosions of personality and wrong-footing vortexes of complexity. Equal parts jester and genius.
SGP: 663 - 94 points.

 

 

Springbank 21yo 1967/1989 (46%, Signatory Vintage, cask #3139, sherry, 600 bottles)

Springbank 21yo 1967/1989 (46%, Signatory Vintage, cask #3139, sherry, 600 bottles)
This one was also bottled in the Dun Eideann livery as well. Colour: deep amber. Nose: just stupendous. This kind of super resinous, deep, earthy, concentrated and profoundly complex old school sherry that sits in perfect harmony with the Springbank 60s character. The kind of nose you could sit all afternoon picking out wee aromas from. I’ll simply say: maraschino cherry, black coffee, herbal bitters, natural tar extract, mint julep and toasted fennel seeds. Sublime concentration, depth and balance. Mouth: what’s so striking initially is that it feels bigger and more powerful than 46%. You get this immediate impression of depth, concentration, power and breadth of flavour very similar to that of the nose. There’s a consistency of brilliance from nose to palate that is an indicator of greatness in whisky I think. Chocolate, coffee, tar, dried miner, petrichor and this sublimely herbal, dry turfy old school peat. Also black olives, bitter lemon and caraway. Again, you could go on and on… finish: long, mushroomy, earthy, sooty, peppery, meaty and spicy. Sinew in a velvet glove. Comments: We’re teetering on the edge of 94 here. Everyone should endeavour to try this kind of quality of sherry cask at least once. Even just a sip. It alters your perspective on contemporary sherried whiskies forever.
SGP: 672 - 93 points.

 

 

Springbank 1965/1987 (58.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.6, sherry)

Springbank 1965/1987 (58.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.6, sherry)
Better just put on my heavy duty tasting trousers… Colour: rosy amber. Nose: there are some of these 1960s mega-Springbanks that are immediate and easy; there’s also these ones. This is rather taut and un-yielding at first nosing. The aromas come very slowly and teasingly: bitter chocolate, prune eau de vie, hessian, cloves, anthracite. Needs time and patience. Things start to unfold after a couple of minutes though. Dried mushrooms, black olives, natural tar, black cherries… things are very quickly getting out of control. Hessian, some kind of chocolatey peat and all manner of herbal bitters, coffee… probably best just call the anti-maltoporn brigade. With water: difficult not to make embarrassing noises now. Rich, decadent and evolving in a profoundly tertiary, umami and complex way. Mouth: as my good friend and Old & Rare collaborator Mr McMillan is fond of saying “shit the bed!” Smoked dark chocolate sauce - if such a thing exists. Almost like liquid leather in texture. Autumnal, meaty, earthy, dense, sinewed and riddled with savoury, salty, medical and earthy complexities. With water: holy moly! Everything as it was but just up several levels in terms of breadth, complexity and immensity. Best stop before we start getting silly. Finish: just endless. Cast your toothbrush into the sea! You won’t be needing it anymore… Comments: I had it at 94 but water just propels it to another level entirely. You need to be careful tasting these old SMWS Springbanks, they can send you to a place of gibbering ridiculousness.
SGP: 463 - 95 points.

 

 

Springbank 30 yo (43%, OB for Japan, 1980s)

Springbank 30 yo (43%, OB for Japan, 1980s)
Needless to say, a super rare old bottle. Colour: deep gold. Nose: really another world. A whole beehive full of honey, waxes, pollens, dried wildflowers, herbal teas and various precious hardwoods. Rather like if you were miniaturised and allowed to clamber around inside an old acoustic guitar - I think. There’s this kind of globulous, syrupy fruitiness; coal smoke; cedar and sandalwood; and eventually a little nervous coastal freshness. Pretty hypnotic and beautiful old school malt whisky. Mouth: tensely salty but with this rather huge and fatty waxiness. Almost waxy in texture with gooey honey, old hessian, beeswax, dried mint, eucalyptus balms and some ancient cough medicines. The savoury and saltiness are thrilling, while there’s also a myriad of dried exotic fruits at play as well. Like chewing on dried mango when along comes black olives and dried seaweed. Finish: beautifully long but never meandering. Stays focused and on point. Salinity, dried herbs, olive oil, camphor, fragrant peat smoke and more waxiness again. Comments: We’re flying about as high as we expected with this one. Not a surprise but a profoundly pleasurable dram. An old school Campbeltown hug in a glass!
SGP: 662 - 93 points.

 

 

Springbank 8 yo (43%, OB, Sutti import, circa 1970)

Springbank 8 yo (43%, OB, Sutti import, circa 1970)
Colour: white wine. Nose: It’s this style that recalls the late 70s UK 12yo from the glass bottle. All purity, minerals, waxes, putty, metal polish and chalky medicines. Lime, cough syrups, spearmint and sandalwood. There’s also these wee coastal and lemony qualities that nod into the future towards more contemporary Springbank styles. Considering this was probably distilled in the early 1960s I would say that’s a pretty impressive and resilient link of DNA. There a funny duality of fragility and fragrance alongside crispness and power about the nose. Compelling and very beautiful. Mouth: pow! Hugely impressive arrival. You would think it was above 46%. Mineralic, vegetal, copper, oily rags, tool boxes, hessian and various cooking oils. Notes of gorse, putty, anthracite and pine resin. Unusual and beautifully old school. Finish: surprisingly long, warming, peppery, slightly bitter and herbal with these notes of marjoram and thyme. Comments: Fresh sherry or tired refill; natural strength or 43%; old or young: these old Springbanks can just seem indomitable. But this is what happens when you focus on making incredible distillate - you strip away the necessity for active wood to cover a dearth of personality.
SGP: 462 - 92 points.

 

 

Dunaverty 12 yo Pure Malt (43%, Eaglesome Ltd, circa 1970) 

Dunaverty 12 yo Pure Malt (43%, Eaglesome Ltd, circa 1970) 
Eaglesome was the name of the shop in Campbeltown owned by Hedley Wright which would later become Cadenhead. This series also featured an 8yo and is well known to shelter Springbank. Colour: pale gold. Nose: metal polish, natural tar, soot, embrocations, crushed seashells, ink. As ever: it’s a nose that just screams ‘Springbank’. Like a lot of these really old bottlings where the distillate is starting to get back towards the late 1950s, the character is more about minerals, petrol, mechanical oils, drier and sharper coastal attributes and a wonderful core of purity. Mouth: like the 8yo, this is more about damp grains, soot, hessian, ink, dried herbs, earthy vegetal tones and medical embrocations. These chalky, flinty and beach pebble notes come through as well. Nothing tastes like this today. Finish: good length, rather a lot of oily sheep wool, camphor, medical embrocations, chalk, iodine and some grippy cereal notes. Comments: Perhaps not as stellar as some other older Springbanks, but we’re still flying high and this is wonderful wee historical benchmark of distillery character from this era.
SGP: 452 - 91 points. 

 

 

Big thanks to Stewart, Aaron, Harrison and Ilya.

 

 

 

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

 

March 18, 2020


Whiskyfun

A little sack of Glen Moray

Glen Moray used to have some fantastic old ones (1960s) but Glenmo kind of stopped the momentum, until the indies started to have some very good ones. Glen Moray is not the only distillery that owes a lot to the indies! Let’s try a handful of examples…

Glen Moray 23 yo 1996/2019 (49.7%, Asta Morris, cask #AM138, 189 bottles)

Glen Moray 23 yo 1996/2019 (49.7%, Asta Morris, cask #AM138, 189 bottles) Four stars and a half
Always loved the little frog on Asta Morris’ bubbly labels. No, no only as a Frenchman… Colour: white wine. Nose: was this made by the Coca-Cola Company? I’m finding quite some Sprite and Fanta (or similar stuff), then barley syrup, then moist sponge cake and gingerbread, with wee whiffs of old books and magazines in the background. It’s really geared towards beer after two minutes or two; no wonder, the bottler here is from Belgium. Mouth: very good. Cherries, Kriek, malty beer, cakes, caramel, good gravy, pumpernickel, tiny herbs and teas, touches of molasses, marzipan and gingerbread, some lighter fruitcake, banana cake… Fantastic development. Finish: long, perfectly caramelly (in a good way), on stout and some sweet sauces. Blueberry jam, gingerbread, spicy oak… (some smart flash finishing?) Comments: absolutely terrific, this little session starts well. Believe me, twenty years ago, no one (except for the manager) would have imagined ‘new’ Glen Moray could become this good. Well done Mr. Asta and Mrs. Morris!
SGP:561 - 89 points.

We may have started too high, never a good idea. But there…

Glen Moray 11 yo 2007/225 (50.1%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail, 225 bottles)

Glen Moray 11 yo 2007/225 (50.1%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail, 225 bottles) Four stars and a half
Apparently, this was ‘hand selected’. Which means that no stoopid AI has been used, and no cat either. Colour: straw. Nose: immaculate barley-driven malt whisky. Vanilla custard, barley indeed, croissants, sponge cake, brioche, biscuits, shortbread (running out of ideas now…) With water: same, no changes whatsoever. Mouth (neat): super good, on a pristine barleyness with drops of limoncello and Mandarine Impériale. Which, I believe, is/was a Belgian liqueur. With water: it totally loves water. Not only does it become a little rootier and earthier, as always, it’s also displaying ideas of Asian spiced dishes, curries, masalas, satays… Believe me you can’t do better than this. Finish: medium, clean, oily, brioche-y, barley-y? Gingerbread in the aftertaste. Comments: the owners of Glen Moray (La Martiniquaise, am I not right?) should come and thank the indies for the way they keep lifting the name’s formerly rather wishy-washy reputation. On their knees. Same elsewhere, by the way.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

While we’re at Elixir’s… Let’s go to the Owners’…

Glen Moray 2008/2019 (52.8%, OB for The Whisky Exchange’s 20th Anniversary, first fill American oak, cask #613, 186 bottles)

Glen Moray 2008/2019 (52.8%, OB for The Whisky Exchange’s 20th Anniversary, first fill American oak, cask #613, 186 bottles) Four stars
Is this mountain oak? They were having some good mountain oak at Glen Moray, but I think that was before 2008. Colour: straw. Nose: a tighter, less aromatic nose. Some barley for sure, sunflower oil, apple liqueur (Spanish manzana), some various citrus… With water: Jesus, we recreated the 2007! Just the same whisky, only a tad ore on lemon, perhaps… Mouth (neat): no, this is very good, and pretty close to the ‘Trail’, just a tad more aggressive, but that’s the highest strength. Lemon squash. With water: you need to be careful, it does not react evenly to dilution. 50% is fine, below that it starts to fall apart. Well, not quite but I’ sure you get the idea. Finish: long, oily, with wee touches of glue and gingerbread. Nothing too serious, it’s all very fine. Comments: IB vs. OB 1:0, but that was very, very tight!
SGP:551 - 87 points.

A last one…

Glen Moray 11 yo 2007/2019 (53.3%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon barrel)

Glen Moray 11 yo 2007/2019 (53.3%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon barrel) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar yet again. Pristine fresh barleyness, cake, sunflower oil, maize, lemon, vanilla, this time perhaps fresh asparagus (hurray), broken branches, grass… Hey hey, we may have a strong contender! With water: yes indeed. Thyme, coriander, lemon, green apples, and a curious coastalness. Ex-Ardbeg, by any chance? Mouth (neat): a hint of varnish this time again, then a lot of eucalyptus and camphor, which would just come unexpected in this context. Indeed, a finishing in ex-Islay or something? But otherwise all is perfect, perfect body, profile, freshness, maltiness, citrus… With water: no quibbles. Finish: medium, a tad spicier and more herbal. Caraway and cloves. Comments: the other ones were models and were having a perfect figure, while this one’s more, well, say creative. Very good in any case.
SGP:462 - 85 points.

Woo-hoo, Glen Moray!

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

 

March 17, 2020


Whiskyfun

A few Craigellachies (yes we're open)

There’s more Craigellachie at the indies these days, which is cool. Too bad my dear compatriots just couldn’t say the name, it’s even worse than with Bruichladdich! Let’s see what we have…

Craigellachie 12 yo 2006/2019 (54.3%, Whic, Nymphs of Whisky, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #8101202, 239 bottles)

Craigellachie 12 yo 2006/2019 (54.3%, Whic, Nymphs of Whisky, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #8101202, 239 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: exactly apples, gooseberries and green pears plus drops of lemon juice, over some oatcakes, brioche, and just anything barley and soft vanilla. Very natural, very well balanced, very ‘malt whisky’. With water: more of all that, plus touches of unlit cigarettes and almond milk (bordering soap, but much nicer than soap in your whisky). Mouth (neat): pretty perfect, relatively fat and oily, and all on barley syrup, apple juice, stewed pears, limoncello, stewed rhubarb and vanilla. With water: gets a little greener, with apples defeating the pears and notes of green plums and green oak (bits). Finish: medium, clean and bright, on greengage jam and green tea. Comments: perfect for its age and pedigree. Great puppy!
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Craigellachie 17 yo 2002/2019 (56.2%, Malts of Scotland for deinwhisky, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS19035, 281 bottles)

Craigellachie 17 yo 2002/2019 (56.2%, Malts of Scotland for deinwhisky, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS19035, 281 bottles) Three stars
This one’s pretty dark… Colour: deep amber. Nose: wasn’t it PX? Bags of raisins plus a few struck matches, then dried beef (Grisons meat, bresaola) and fig jam. Some gunpowder and ink remaining in the background, while the raisins keep singing rather loudly. With water: more oloroso-y this time, so I’m not too sure anymore. Pipe tobacco and pepper. Mouth (neat): a bowl of Weetabix and two Mars bars at first, then quite some leather, ginger, pepper and bitter oranges. A mustardy touch too. With water: leather, fig and ginger jams, and chocolate. The feeling of gunpowder is still there. Finish: long and spicy. Spicy Stolle, spicy fruitcake…  Comments: the sherry was rather on the front all along, making this baby a little heavy, but it’s still way above any kinds of averages.
SGP:462 - 82 points.

More sherry, perhaps…

Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2017 (57.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #DL 11446, 408 bottles)

Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2017 (57.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #DL 11446, 408 bottles) Four stars and a half
Some sister casks by DL had been very much to my liking two or three years ago. Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s much brighter, fresher, fruitier and more vibrant than the 2002. A wonderful fresh fruitiness, with ripe peaches marinated in IPA (or something like that). Have to try that one day! With water: perfect walnut and hazelnut cake, toasted pastries, tobacco, a pack of artisan fudge, millionaire shortbread… Mouth (neat): extremely good, easily beating the neighbours (the ones that have just built a new mausoleum of whisky to puzzle and tease the next generations of archaeologists who will wonder what it was). Wonderful butterscotch, peach jam, marmalade and old Sauternes. Tarte tatin. With water: extremely good, just don’t drawn it, it does not swim too well. Lovely oranges. Finish: medium, with just the right amount of green bitterness as well as more chocolate and dried pears. Comments: I believe the whole parcel was pretty perfect.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Craigellachie 11 yo 2007/2019 (65.2%, The Taste of Whisky, refill bourbon, cask #70900706, 201 bottles)

Craigellachie 11 yo 2007/2019 (65.2%, The Taste of Whisky, refill bourbon, cask #70900706, 201 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one comes within a ‘Daily Collection’. Well, any entity that would guzzle stuff at 65% vol. on a daily basis is called a Ford Mustang if you ask me. Colour: gold. Nose: seems to be perfect, with hot cakes and cooking fruits in a large casserole. Not dissimilar to the Whic at this point, but of course it needs water. Well, the taster needs water. With water: wonderful maltiness, cakes, jams, mirabelles, earl grey tea, dates… Mouth (neat): very oily and seemingly extremely good. Butterscotch, IPA, stewed fruits, jams… And really a lot of ethanol, so… With water: fantastic young malt monster (new appellation!) full of pastries, breads, cakes, caramel and jams. A treat. Finish: rather long, on just the same flavours. Comments: a perfect young malt whisky. Anyone should cellar these young malt monsters and open them by 2050. It’s good to have goals in life!
SGP:551 - 88 points.

A last one, let’s make it an old one that may not need any water…

Craigellachie 1970/2016 (54.2%, Gordon & McPhail, Exclusive, for La Maison du Whisky, 1st fill remade hogshead, cask #1607, 93 bottles)

Craigellachie 1970/2016 (54.2%, Gordon & McPhail, Exclusive, for La Maison du Whisky, 1st fill remade hogshead, cask #1607, 93 bottles) Five stars
Mind you, 46 years old and a very small outturn! Colour: amber. Nose: amazing, incredibly fresh and complex. It’s one of these very old brown sprits that have kind of converged, that is to say which now display tiny notes of old rum, of old cognac, and even of ueberanejo tequila beyond the very perfect maltiness. It’s really stunning, with touches of sugarcane, fudge, agave syrup, stewed peaches, black currants, fresh putty and oil paint, roasted pecans, cigars, balsa wood, and really myriads of tiny aromatics. A piece of art. With water: putty, magazines, old books, beeswax, old furniture, antique shop… Mouth (neat): it’s very smart not to have reduced it, because indeed you feel saps and resins trying to make their way. But other than that, the freshness remains impressive, with some mint, eucalyptus, thin mints, stewed oranges, prickly pears, nutmeg and cinnamon, plums and cherries, strong herbal teas… Let’s only hope one or two drops of water won’t kill it by bringing out a lot of cardboard and tea powder. With water: no water please. No water on the palate, that’s strengst verboten. Finish (undiluted): rather long and rather on all things oranges, which just always works. Comments: this old one was very gracious.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

No, no officials. Cheers and stay safe.

(Merci François!)

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

 

March 16, 2020


Whiskyfun

Little duos, two very good indie Cragganmore

It’s always good to try a little Cragganmore every once in a while, is it not?

Cragganmore 22 yo 1993/2015 (54%, Duncan Taylor, for China, sherry, cask #428466, 51 bottles)

Cragganmore 22 yo 1993/2015 (54%, Duncan Taylor, for China, sherry, cask #428466, 51 bottles) Four stars
This little baby was supposed to make you ‘Feel Just Like a Fish in Water’. We can’t wait… Colour: office coffee. Nose: it’s almost totally sherry-driven, with big notes of both amontillado and PX, raisins, chocolate, touches of Bovril, then some fresh oak, as if this was an octave, or some STR cask. Or both. With water: I would have said Glendronach. By the way, we’ll soon have to do a huge Glendronach session, they’re currently piling up. Mouth (neat): really rich, oily, and literally full of sherry. Corinth currants, amontillado, walnuts, loads of chocolate, a hint of salt (bouillon)… It’s really thick, and yet I’m finding it pretty good. It’s true that I’m just back from Jerez. With water: the oak’s coming a bit to the front. Black chocolate, coffee beans, forgotten toasts (forgotten in the toaster!)… Finish: long, a tad drying, and very much on cocoa and coffee. A pinch of salt in the aftertaste. Comments: I like this fairly modern dry sherry monster quite a lot, but do not expect to be able to recognise Cragganmore.
SGP:351 - 87 points.

Let’s find one that’s not sherried for a change…

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2018 (49%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 177 bottles)

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2018 (49%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 177 bottles) Four stars and a half
I think these batches were good. Colour: dark gold. Nose: very malty and caky, full of butterscotch, shortbread and Weetabix, going towards café latte, with a touch of menthol. No one can be against this. Mouth: someone’s distilled Jaffa cakes! Some awesome marmalade, milk chocolate, and sponge cake, plus cornflakes, popcorn and then a wee sourness. Let’s say cider. Very good. Finish: long, a tad greener (green tea tannins). Rather grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: a lovely fresh maltiness and a good firmness. Having said that, I guess you have to be the distillery’s master distiller to be able to recognise the make.
SGP:451 - 88 points.

(Thank you Lau!)

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

 

March 15, 2020


Whiskyfun

Our traditional bag of rums

Would you mind if we started this with some huge-volume, probably junkish rum from the darkest dungeons of rum, a.k.a. the Dominican Republic? (you may listen to some old tunes by Las Chicas del Can to ease your pain…)

Brugal ‘Anejo’ (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2019)

Brugal ‘Anejo’ (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, Spanish market, +/-2019)
This is meant to be ‘superior’, you understand… Colour: gold. Nose: hey, this is not un-nice! Some caramel, some toffee, some café latte, some vanilla, and certainly a ‘Starbucks’ quality. Which, granted, is not very high, but (even) worse stuff does exist here and there. Christ, Jesus, Buddha, did I just write some positive things about a Brugal? Mouth: coffee liqueur, sugar syrup, vanillin, and unrecorded sweet/sour juices. Pretty bad. No, very bad, watery, frustrating, and almost undrinkable. Finish: very short – which, in this context, is good. Molasses. Comments: some very poor spirit, very weak, empty, sugary, just not totally repulsive. You almost got a gold star just because of that, Brugal! Nah, it’s impaired spirit.
SGP:310 - 25 points.

Barcelo ‘Anejo’ (37.5%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2019)

Barcelo ‘Anejo’ (37.5%, OB, Dominican Republic, Spanish market, +/-2019)
This one too is ‘superior’, mind you. Superior with rum is equivalent to ‘old’ with Scotch, so just fake. Colour: gold. Nose: looks like it would go a little deeper than the terrible Brugal, so basically, a little less sugary, and a tad more herbal. Other than that, it’s very weak rum. Mouth: no, it’s the same empty and sugary junk, without any single pleasant trait, with only nightmares and nasty flavours. In truth the poor Brugal was a little better. Finish: none. Vase water, perhaps? Comments: extremely bad, nasty, repulsive, and just un-sippable unless you add a lot of ice. Like, a whole iceberg. Shameful rum, I’m sure it wouldn’t be any more expensive to make it a little better.
SGP:210 - 15 points.

What’s cool after those putrid swills is that you can only go up…

Zuidam ‘Flying Dutchman’ (40%, OB, Netherlands, +/-2018)

Zuidam ‘Flying Dutchman’ (40%, OB, Netherlands, +/-2018) Two stars
Some white rum from the Flatlands, that’s interesting, knowing that Holland is actually the N°1 country for rum, historically. Just ask E&A Scheer in A’dam. Colour: white. Nose: instantly kills the very poor Brugal and the even poorer Barcelo, but it’s not big, it’s just well balanced and fair. Nice notes of sugarcane and grass. Mouth: it’s fine, it’s got touches of genever and fresh bread, juniper, cardboard… Well I’m running out of descriptors. Finish: medium but a little cardboardy. Pomelos? Some pleasant olive-y touches, but that’s too late and too low. Comments: it’s fair, but I would humbly say that it’s been too purified, and bottled at a strength that’s too low. So unless you’re a Dutch nationalist, you would find more potent stuff elsewhere. Rather check Zuidam’s whiskies (Millstone), many just rock!
SGP:230 - 72 points.

WeiRon ‘Black’ (50%, Svenska Eldvatten, +/-2019)

WeiRon ‘Black’ (50%, Svenska Eldvatten, +/-2019) Four stars and a half
I don’t know much about this one, what I know is that the pedigree is appealing. And that Sweden’s better known for its surströmming. And Abba. Yeah, clichés do bring salt to our lives, don’t they. Colour: straw. Nose: coffee and black olives. This could come from the magical triangle, Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana. With water: olives, lemons, eucalyptus. Mouth (neat): perfect, I’m afraid. Vicks, camphor, tar, liquorice. With water: wonderful. Lapsang souchong, lemon, tar, liquorice, brine, olives. Finish: long, same-ish. Perhaps a notch tarrier? Comments: this is liquid liquorice. My father, who was an automotive engineer,  used to have a Swedish friend who was a driver, his name was Jo Bonnier. I’m sure he could have used this rum to lubricate his Ferraris! Cheers Jo Bonnier!
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Hampden 9 yo 2010/2019 ‘LROK’ (63.2%, Velier, Jamaica, bourbon, 250 bottles)

Hampden 9 yo 2010/2019 ‘LROK’ (63.2%, Velier, Jamaica, bourbon, 250 bottles) Five stars
I’d bet this will be different from the poor Barcelo and Brugal. Colour: dark gold. Nose: that’s olives all over the place. On the one hand, one could claim that buying olives would be cheaper. On the other hand, we could retort that olives wouldn’t keep as well. Sauna oils. Wait wait wait, this is too strong, it hits you mercilessly, come on go f***k yourself, Velier, please stick your bottles up your ***** or pour them over pizza and leave us alone! With water: olives, anchovies, coal, gherkins,. Hate it that I love this. Mouth (neat): amazing, pungent, tarry, olive-y, medicinal, camphory, and extremely powerful. That’s right, it is almost lethal. I am almost dead now (hope you’ll suffer a lot for no less that twenty generations, Velier!) With water: even bloody water doesn’t work. Let me call my lawyer if you please… Finish: salt, lemon, olives, shoe polish. Sure you could eat shoe polish, it’s all a matter of motivation. Comments: what the hell was this extreme supernatural booze? Some assassination attempt? By the way, to add insult to injury, reducing this lethal liquid requires a lot of care and patience. Drop by drop…
SGP:374 - 90 points.

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



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