Google Whisky Fun by Serge - blog, reviews and tasting notes since 2002
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Serge whiskyfun

 

Tasting notes:
Whiskies
14,544
Other spirits 1,786
Guests 666

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (86)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (10
2)
Banff (50)
Ben Nevis (1
43)
Ben Wyvis (3)
Benriach (16
8)
Benrinnes (65)
Benromach (6
2)
Bladnoch (7
6)
Blair Athol (
83)
Bowmore (4
93)
Braes of Glenlivet (43)
Brora (12
6)
Bruichladdich (2
78)
Bunnahabhain (3
37)

Dailuaine (60)
Dallas Dhu (3
7)
Dalmore (11
2)
Dalwhinnie (29)
Deanston (3
9)
Dufftown (51)

Edradour (70)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
45)
Laphroaig (4
31)
Ledaig (1
26)
Linkwood (1
4
6)
Littlemill (11
4)
Loch Lomond (
61)
Lochside (65)
Longmorn (2
13)
Longrow (70)

Macallan (296)
Macduff (66)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
4
3)
Millburn (2
3)
Miltonduff (
85)
Mortlach (1
82)
Mosstowie (2
2)

Scapa (46)
Speyburn (
44)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (3
32)
St-Magdalene (50)
Strathisla (
101)
Strathmill (
41)

 
 
Pete and Jack



2019
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2018
December
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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Brora

The Magical History
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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
2002-2019

 


Scotch Legal Announcement

 
 

May 19, 2019


Whiskyfun

Our traditional bag of rums on Sunday

Let’s see what we have on the table today...

Flor de Cana 7 yo 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Nicaragua, +/-2018)

Flor de Cana 7 yo 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Nicaragua, +/-2018) one star and a half
'Slow aged', LOL. A very controversial brand since there’s been so many articles exposing their sugarcane workers’ huge health problems two or three years ago. Some have started boycotting it, while the owners are now pushing Fair Trade deals to try to counter the problem. I have to say I rather liked their 18 yo ‘Centenario’ (WF 82). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s not very expressive, and rather on cakes than on fruits. Some fudge, caramel, burnt brownies, large-brand chocolate, and an unexpected maltiness. Somewhat in midstream, shall we say. Mouth: starts a little sweet and spirity, gets then extremely coffee-ish, with a lot of bitter caramel, more burnt cakes, over-roasted nuts (pecans), and a lot of bitter chocolate and caffé ristretto. An unusual feeling of sweet and dry. Finish: a little short, roasted, rather on office coffee this time. Or coffee-schnapps. Artichokes in the aftertaste. Comments: not too bad, but I tend to prefer the Mexicans within this dry black style. It’s also funny that it would remind me of Macallan’s super-dark old ‘Gran Reserva’.
SGP:360 - 68 points.

Since we’re in Nicaragua…

Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua 18 yo 1998 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R8.2, ‘The Hunt Master’, refill barrel, Nicaragua, 315 bottles, +/-2017)

Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua 18 yo 1998 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R8.2, ‘The Hunt Master’, refill barrel, Nicaragua, 315 bottles, +/-2017) Two stars
Those are well the makers of Flor de Cana. Colour: gold. Nose: pretty light and rather on sunflower oil as well as fresh almonds and hazelnuts, this goes to show how ‘wooded’ the official 7 was. Very light profile, with a little ethanol, perhaps bonbons, some green tea… With water: not much. Dried herbs and flowers, old potpourri and patchouli… Perhaps… And just a drop of benzine. Mouth: wasn’t this sweetened-up at the fillings? Some sucrose, syrups, light cane, grass, touches of liquorice allsorts… With water: some pears coming through now. Really, pears, plus some caraway (aquavit). Finish: medium, a tad grassier. More bonbons in the aftertaste. Comments: fair, but too undemanding and, well, bland(ish) to make for a proper malternative.
SGP:540 - 72 points.

Right…

Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua 12 yo 2004 (55%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R8.3, ‘Fruit and nut case’, refill barrel, Nicaragua, 335 bottles, +/-2017)

Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua 12 yo 2004 (55%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R8.3, ‘Fruit and nut case’, refill barrel, Nicaragua, 335 bottles, +/-2017) Four stars
Colour: amber. Nose: there’s a little more happening in this one. Notes of peonies and old copper coins, for example, rainwater, chocolate cake (a very thin slice), some kind of distant peatiness (really), preserved pineapples… I have to say this is pretty nice so far, let’s see if it would stand water. With water: very nice liquorice and menthol! Also black earth, Pu-erh, pipe tobacco… It’s got nothing to do with the humble R8.2, I tell you. Mouth (neat): I suppose it’s the cask that did all the work here. Nice notes of pine resin, liquorice, ginger tea, coffee and chocolate, molasses, a touch of malt extract, also hints of old Pedro Ximenez or even moscatel, aquavit again... Good, there is some action in this one! With water: and the sugarcane comes out! Really very nice, if not as full as some pot-still or short-column rums. Finish: medium, pine-y and chocolaty. Liquid thin mints, shall we say, with some mentholy liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: well, I was having little hope after the OB and the 1998 SMWS, but looks like I was wrong (who said again, who?)
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Foursquare 13 yo 2005/2019 (63.4%, Kinghaven, Barbados)

Foursquare 13 yo 2005/2019 (63.4%, Kinghaven, Barbados) Four stars and a half
This by a new Swedish bottler that’s very closely related to Smögen Distillery. Which cannot be bad news, even if they’ve done a finishing in Swedish oak on it (thought they were only having fir up there, ha ha…), which does not sound too Caribbean, does it. Please note that this is Foursquare’s usual single blend. Colour: gold. Nose: well, that worked. I’m reminded of Marie-Galante, don’t ask me why. Praline, warm oak, roasted pecans, lighter molasses, milk chocolate, priest’s garden (medicinal herbs), roasted hazelnuts, hazelnut cream (one that will not kill any orangutans), blond tobacco… With water: lovely! A lot of orange blossom, which I’m always fond of. A fresh panettone with rich golden sultanas. Mouth (neat): I think I’m getting the Swedish oak. There’s quite a lot of liquorice, more roasted nuts, some marmalade, some ginseng, more praline, and a feeling of sweet yellow curry. Or garam masala. With water: lovely green teas, more orange blossom water, chamomile tea, tangerines… Finish: medium, all on panettone (there!) Comments: I don’t think I could recognize Swedish oak, but this is some brilliant rum that swims extremely well. Needs your time, though.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Perhaps something pot still now?

Diamond 9 yo (55.9%, That Boutique-y Rum Company, Guyana, batch 1, 461 bottles, +/-2018)

Diamond 9 yo (55.9%, That Boutique-y Rum Company, Guyana, batch 1, 461 bottles, +/-2018) Five stars
This one from the Port Morant/Mourant double wooden pot still, with a nice label depicting the still being moved to Diamond in Georgetown. Colour: white wine. Nose: hell and putrefaction, this one is high-ester! We’re almost nosing some crushed anchovies covered with olive oil and sea salt. Perhaps also some Stornoway pudding and the maddest, moistest black pipe tobacco. Spectacular. With water: p.e.a.r.s.! In truth this somehow noses like some young high-quality Domfrontais, really. Indeed that’s Calvados. Mouth (neat): big brine, big earthy marc de Bourgogne, big pickled anchovies, and small rotting bananas and pomegranates. It’s a wonderful combination, pretty unusual I think. With water: wonderful. Salted fruits, peppered strawberries, and sardines stewed in cider. Well, more or less that. Finish: long, salty, drier. Noilly Prat. Or bananas used as vegetables, with veal scaloppines. And I’m hungry now, not you? Comments: a masterstroke, really.
SGP:553 - 91 points.

(Thank you Lance)

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

 

May 18, 2019


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Loyal Brackla? 
Is Brackla one of these rather simple, honest and ‘loyal’ malt whiskies? Or am I simply clutching at hopelessly uninventive titles? Now, what was that story about Prince Phillip and the ‘Royal’ prefix again? Possibly some other kind of car crash, literal or figurative - you never know with Prince Phil. Sadly, while in Slovenia, the elusive Royal Brackla Appreciation Society aren’t at hand to offer insight on such matters. Oh well, onwards...

 

Royal Brackla 19 yo 1997/2017 (46%, Berry Brothers, cask #9911, hogshead)

Royal Brackla 19 yo 1997/2017 (46%, Berry Brothers, cask #9911, hogshead)
Colour: white wine. Nose: a rather ‘swollen’ style of spirit. Lots of pretty fat cereals, olive oil, grasses, fresh herbs, tea biscuits, nettles and butter. Pretty good really, we’re some distance from blandness. Wee notes of white pepper, watercress, a scraping of lemon rind and some dried parsley. Eau de malt whisky! Mouth: again this sense of slight fatness. It’s all very cereal / barley driven - which is great - but the texture is what’s most notable. Lemon barley water, buttered brown toast, pot pourri, Darjeeling tea and a wee note of buttermint sweeties. There’s also some shortbread, various freshly baked breads, straw and milky cornflakes dusted with icing sugar. Finish: a little short perhaps. Peppery around the front of the palate in the aftertaste and with some residual cereals and herbal aspects. Comments: Honesty, simplicity and - indeed - loyalty. Exactly the qualities favoured by Her Majesty Queen Victoria. No wonder Berry Brothers bottled it. Probably a suitable tipple for when you’re waiting for the beaters to drive up a few extra Grouse. 
SGP: 551 - 84 points. 

 

 

Royal Brackla 27yo 1975/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid ‘Mission I’, 600 bottles)

Royal Brackla 27yo 1975/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid ‘Mission I’, 600 bottles)
A series that’s a tad forgotten these days, which is a shame as it sheltered plenty very fine drams. Mind you, that may well be because most of them got quaffed already. Colour: gold. Nose: what strikes first is a rather pronounced medical quality. Something that’s occasionally to be found in these old school highlanders. It’s this mix of balms and light embrocations that sits very well alongside soft waxes, honeys and touches of nectar and beeswax. Some softer fruit notes such as sultanas, banana bread and quince as well. Quite soft but very elegant and enjoyable. Mouth: nicely in keeping with the nose in that the medicines strike first but they’re quickly followed by pine needles, wax jacket, canvas, pipe tobacco, dried citrus peels, sunflower seeds and heather honey. Clean, light, refreshing, old school highland malt whisky. Quite a big difference from the 1997, but then isn’t that always the case with these older whiskies? Finish: medium length and on wood resins, herbal teas, salted honey, hessian, dried mint and putty. Comments: It looks like Serge scored this one 85 points back in the day but didn’t publish any notes for it. I like it a bit more, while it doesn’t quite have the requisite oomph to hit 90 I still think it’s a very solid 88. Probably the sort of thing Prince Philip would enjoy from an optic on his dashboard while navigating a public single track road near Balmoral on a crisp winter morning. 
SGP: 561 - 88 points.

 

 

No holiday bonus notes this time. I’m afraid I’ve been more focused on the wines this past week. I’m sure you understand.

 

 

 

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

 

May 17, 2019


Whiskyfun

A flood of Benrinnes, Act Three

Because nothing is impossible to a valiant heart. More seriously, these Benrinnes are very good, I’m sure we couldn’t fetch the same high averages today with much bigger names such as Macallan or Ardbeg. Aren’t the cards being seriously reshuffled these days? But first, the usual aperitif at lower strength…

Benrinnes 1996/2009 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, sherry casks)

Benrinnes 1996/2009 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, sherry casks) Three stars
Hugs Jean Marie! Colour: gold. Nose: not quite a Macallan killer, but it’s easy and well-composed, with lovely raisins, malt, energy bars, cakes and chocolate. Café latte as well, and indeed Benrinnes’ waxy/meaty side, but not quite at full volume. A gentle Benrinnes, much gentler than the official Flora & Fauna, for example. Mouth: mead and sweet wine (Banyuls), raisins, raisin rolls, cakes, some oranges… It’s all fine. Finish: medium, cake-y, malty, raisiny. Comments: some character, already, even if it’s no big malt whisky. Goes down very well.
SGP:541 - 82 points.

While we’re having some older French bottlings…

Benrinnes 1998/2012 (46%, L’Esprit, sherry butt, cask #6863)

Benrinnes 1998/2012 (46%, L’Esprit, sherry butt, cask #6863) Three stars and a half
This baby by Whisky & Rhum in Brittany. A very good house, they also have great rums, as their name suggests. Colour: gold. Nose: oh, we’re closer to the F&F, with a lot of meat, bouillons, sauces, soups, broths, and whatnot. All that is coated with some fudge and caramel, which rather works, mind you. Notes of amontillado, walnut wine, riewele supp (an Alsatian thing, don’t bother) and very old Sauternes. Caramel and botrytis. Mouth: a little more difficult, it’s hard to keep this kind of cohesiveness on the palate. A sour side, perhaps a touch of rubber (or some wee sulphur from the butt), otherwise bags of raisins and this matiness again. Some brandy too, why not brandy de Jerez? Finish: medium, meaty, slightly sulphury. Rapeseed oil and leather. Comments: some action in there!
SGP:652 - 84 points.

Benrinnes 18 yo 2000/2019 (57.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 546 bottles)

Benrinnes 18 yo 2000/2019 (57.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 546 bottles) Three stars
How they managed to pull only 546 bottles from four (4) barrels, I don’t know. No, wait, that’s possible… Colour: straw. Nose: ah, a quieter one. Sunflower oil, soft honey, Weetabix, croissants, potato cake, tutti frutti eau-de-vie… This baby may well need a few drops of water. So, with water: well, it got grassier, not really more… say emphatic. Mouth (neat): some slightly fizzy grapefruit juice, rhubarb, and a lighter albeit grassy olive oil. Very dry, almost bitter. With water: it’s okay, on grass juice, lemon, cucumbers… Finish: medium, grassy, lemony. Comments: good, W.M. Cadenhead, let’s drop that Aston-Martin, I’d be happy with a Mini Cooper or something similar, but I’d really need the dual-zone automatic climate control, thank you.
SGP:451 - 81 points.

Benrinnes 15 yo 1999/2014 (64.6%, Douglas Laing for La Maison du Whisky, sherry butt, cask #DL10102, 579 bottles)

Benrinnes 15 yo 1999/2014 (64.6%, Douglas Laing for La Maison du Whisky, sherry butt, cask #DL10102, 579 bottles) Three stars
Yeah yeah, 65% vol., attempted murder, this will be costly… Seriously, we expect some meaty extravaganza – and no whisky for vegans. Colour: full gold. Nose: ah, no. No Bovril, no Maggi, no lovage, no soy sauce, no beef stock, rather pencil shavings and vegetal varnish, plus cakes straight from the oven. It’s not that it would burn your nose, but I’m sure it’ll benefit from a few good drops of proper water. With water: a walk in the meadows and the woods after a good shower. Mushrooms, moss, leaves, chestnuts, old branches… Mouth (neat): meaty and earthy and mentholated oranges and cakes, perhaps, plus a lot of rubber. Chewing rubber bands dipped in Grand-Marnier… or something. Quick… With water: adios rubber, welcome deep-roasted nuts, burnt cakes, leather, and salty meat soups. And menthol! Finish: very long, meaty and grassy, a bit sour, and mentholated. Pine resin and salty chicken soup in the aftertaste. Comments: not an easy one, I would say they should have added ‘handle with care’ to the label. And ‘flammable liquid’.
SGP:372 - 82 points.

Benrinnes 18 yo 1997/2016 (52.2%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead)

Benrinnes 18 yo 1997/2016 (52.2%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead) Four stars
Let’s see what the ducks have to say. I know, quack quack… (never, ever drink and taste, S.) Colour: white wine. Nose: right, a luminous, totally wax-driven Benrinnes, with croissants, sunflower oil, beeswax, fresh asparagus, and lemon peel. Smart and irrefutable, shall we say. With water: yep, wool, dough, grist, wax, oils… Mouth (neat): funny notes of good rum (I’m thinking Foursquare), then lamp petrol, grass juice, bitter almonds, and a little fresh ginger. And turmeric, perhaps, which will cure anything according to The Internet. With water: don’t add too much please. Otherwise, all fine, chalky, lemony, slightly salty… Finish: long, waxy, salty, lemony and grassy. Comments: millimetric, as we sometimes say. Won’t work after Brexit, I suppose.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

I agree it’s time to put an end to this madness, with an unusual vintage…

Benrinnes 12 yo 1988/2000 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Benrinnes 12 yo 1988/2000 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles) Four stars and a half
Aren’t we a little late here? Colour: light gold. Nose: it seems that like at several other distilleries (Springbank, Bowmore…), they improved the make around the years 1990s, because this was way mashier, more buttery, farmier, and simply yeastier. I wouldn’t say it is feinty, not at all, but it may lack the kind of high definition that we found in the 1990s. With water:  mud, wool, paraffin. Rings a bell… Mouth (neat): well, cancel all that gibberish, this is excellent. Perfect tart earthiness, lemons, roots, and waxes. A perfect whole, tense and tight, straight as a string. Pouilly-Fumé again (I think we mentioned that before within this Benrinnes series). With water: yeah, perfect waxy grapefruits, in the style of some good-vintage Clynelish. As if you would say ‘in the style of Rembrandt’. Finish: wonderful, totally chalky and lemony. Have I mentioned Pouilly-Fumé before?  Comments: W.M. Cadenhead, just drop the Mini Cooper, a pint of good lager will do. Or three.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Good, eighteen Benrinnes, that’s not too bad, is it?

(Und Danke schön, Cato and Tom)

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

 

May 16, 2019


Whiskyfun

A flood of Benrinnes, Act Two

And so, we’re back, looking for more oleogustus. I suppose that new word is here to stay…

Benrinnes 20 yo ‘Time II’ (50%, The Whisky Exchange, bourbon, 280 bottles, +/-2017)

Benrinnes 20 yo ‘Time II’ (50%, The Whisky Exchange, bourbon, 280 bottles, +/-2017) Four stars
This baby came with a nice Racine quote on the label, ‘There are no secrets that time does not reveal’. You know, Jean Racine was that funny guy who also wrote, ‘It is fatal to live too long.’ May apply to whisky too ;-). Colour: pale straw. Nose: it’s a slightly fruitier one, but we’re well on white and yellow fruits, apples, greengages… Beneath that, some fern and other wild herbs and plants, some paraffin, some graphite oil, and some burnt vanilla cake, most certainly from the bourbon cask. With water: chalk, wool, vase water, porridge. Some barley involved, I suppose. Mouth (neat): indeed, it’s rather a fruitier one, but there is some chalk, some plasticine, and quite a lot of white pepper. More green apples, green walnuts (nocino), lemons, more lemons, even more lemons… With water: swims very well. Lemon juice and some sharp sauvignon blanc, perhaps Pouilly-Fumé. Finish: medium, waxier again. Plasticine and paraffine, with a drop of lime juice. Comments: love oleogustus (de gustibus etc…)
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Benrinnes 24 yo 1992/2016 (52.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 112 bottles)

Benrinnes 24 yo 1992/2016 (52.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 112 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: the same make, really, with chalk, plasticine, apple peels, sunflower oil, and just a touch of muscovado sugar. No need of a lot of literature. With water: even more austere, grassy and chalky. Mouth (neat): potent, even a tad hot, very peppery and waxy, with something reminiscent of engine oil and perhaps rubber. Lemon skins. With water: chalk, pepper and lemon. A bitter herbalness. Finish: rather long, pretty bitter. Cinchona, liquorice wood, grass… Comments: not a very easy one this time, but it’s still very good stuff. Not for sweet teeth, having said that… 
SGP:372 - 83 points.

Benrinnes 14 yo 2004/2018 (55.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 864 bottles)

Benrinnes 14 yo 2004/2018 (55.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 864 bottles) Four stars
This one from three bourbon hogsheads. Let’s try to see whether it’s already the ‘new’ double-distilled juice or not. Colour: white wine. Nose: oh brilliant! Green pears and beeswax galore, then green gages and gooseberries, with touches of custard. A wonderful earthy barleyness behind that. Simple and efficient. With water: some distant peat. Mouth (neat): indeed, it tastes as if there was some ex-peater wood in the mix, not an unknown feeling at Cadenhead’s. Some sweet peat, as we sometimes say, lemons and apples, a little salt, some roots, some chalk yet again… We’re actually in peated HP territories here, more or less. With water: we’re almost in blended malt territories here. And that’s very good! Finish: long, peaty, brine-y, gently peppery, and lemony. Comments: not very Benrinnes, but certainly very good. They were not making peaters at Benrinnes in 2004, were they?
SGP:553 - 86 points.

Benrinnes 21 yo 1997/2019 (53.7%, Cadenhead, bourbon barrel, 162 bottles)

Benrinnes 21 yo 1997/2019 (53.7%, Cadenhead, bourbon barrel, 162 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: and now for something very different yet again, some angelica and some wormwood to be found here, even woodruff, a bizarre Irishness (pot still), then wild herbs, autumn leaves, and rather shoe polish than plain wax. Gets then rather fermentary, on weizenbeer and other such liquid German delicacies. With water: exceptional fermentary development, on all things beers and ales. Mouth (neat): this is extremely good! Perfect peppery and lemony waxes, that is to say some textbook Benrinnesness this time. Olive and grape pips oils, lemon skin, grapefruits and citrons… This is pretty perfect. With water: indeed. Waxes and lemons, the perfect combination in my book. Finish: long, perfect, lemony, very straight. Comments: W/M. Cadenhead, I’ve been thinking about that Aston-Martin and have just changed my mind, the Mercedes engine would be okay. But may we get the manual gearbox? Thanks!
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Benrinnes 20 yo 1995/2018 (49.4%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, hogshead, cask #9063, 279 bottles)

Benrinnes 20 yo 1995/2018 (49.4%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, hogshead, cask #9063, 279 bottles) Five stars
Remember they round-up the ages with this series. 10, 15, 20, 25… Indeed, French coquetry. Colour: light gold. Nose: a perfectly polished one this time, all on beeswax, pollen, mead, hazelnut cream, with touches of camphor and eucalyptus, some fresh brioche, and the faintest hints of mocha. A splendid nose. Mouth: amazing, more mineral than most others, more citrusy as well, with a lot of lemon marmalade, curd, lime blossom tea, citrons, perhaps a little seaweed, and the expected candlewax and straight paraffin. This no beat can. Finish: long, totally perfect, with that greasy meatiness that was to be found in these vintages. Tallow and such things. Green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: a fabulous Benrinnes, with everything in place.
SGP:452 - 90 points.

Let’s try to find an earlier vintage just for the cause… Oh perhaps this older bottling?...

Benrinnes 23 yo 1980/2003 (53.9%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, cask #1352, 264 bottles)

Benrinnes 23 yo 1980/2003 (53.9%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, cask #1352, 264 bottles) Four stars
I don’t think I ever tried this baby… Colour: light gold. Nose: it is rather different, starting rather more medicinal than the others, that is to say rather on crushed aspirin tablets, embrocations, and even bandages. There’s quite some custard as well in the background, as well as notes of mown grass, fennel, celery, perhaps fresh lovage, and as always with Blackadder, whiffs of raw turnips. Of course I’m joking. With water: more aspirin, wet chalk… Mouth (neat): excellent, as waxy and oily as the others (as far as both texture and flavours are concerned), but rather earthier, with more plastics as well, and certainly a greasy meatiness. Some lemon too, which is welcome. With water: perhaps a little gentler, more on cereals… Some ideas of rye. Finish: medium, cereally. Grapefruit marmalade and rye bread. Comments: perhaps not as well-defined as more recent makes, but very good. Always nice to find some malt whisky that’s not wishy-washy (isn’t that the whole point here, S.?)
SGP:562 - 87 points.

Good, second part done, I would say. There may be a third Benrinnes session… or not, we shall see.

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

 

May 15, 2019


Whiskyfun

A flood of Benrinnes,
looking for greasy ones

We’ll see how many we’ll manage to try. Perhaps shall we cut this session in half, we’ll see. Remember Diageo’s Benrinnes Distillery started to do some kind of Byzantine two-and-a-half distillation from the mid-1970s on, producing some sort of rather-Mortlach-like meaty spirit, but it seems that they’ve simplified the proceedings again around the mid-2000s. Let’s do this randomly…

Benrinnes 15 yo (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna, +/-2018)

Benrinnes 15 yo (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna, +/-2018) Four stars
Right, not totally randomly. Last time I tried this expression that was around the year 2000 (WF 83). A worthy aperitif yet again, I hope. Colour: gold. Nose: there, no truce this time, the whistle blows and we’re in action. Tallow and marrow, parsley, bouillons, ham, onion soup, dry sherry, plus most certainly some umami as well as the 6th aroma, the aroma/taste of fat, which is called oleogustus, apparently (sounds a bit like dog Latin, no?) There’s also a thing called kokumi, but we still need to check that. Mouth: so, kokumi and oleogustus (joking only a bit) and a huge fatness indeed, rarely to be experienced with any whiskies. In short, more tallow and marrow, ground coffee, salt, miso, and Maggi. Spectacular, but perhaps a little unlikely at times. Finish: long, very meaty and salty. Chorizo and beef juice. Really. Comments: totally odd – and admirable - that they would have kept this very unusual fat malt within the range. Perhaps more a sauce than malt whisky, after all.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Benrinnes 23 yo 1995/2019 (49.6%, Signatory Vintage for The Single Malt Whisky Shop, Belgium, Italian Cars Series, hogshead, cask #9059, 222 bottles)

Benrinnes 23 yo 1995/2019 (49.6%, Signatory Vintage for The Single Malt Whisky Shop, Belgium, Italian Cars Series, hogshead, cask #9059, 222 bottles) Four stars and a half
Ah the Ferrari shark nose! I used to have one as a go-cart when I was… around 6. Oh, and hey, never, ever drink and drive! Colour: gold. Nose: paraffin, ‘good’ sulphur, plastics, ham, then apple peel, fresh walnuts (but not as in sherry), greengages, yellow peaches and candlewax. And 1960s Ferrari Grand Prix, I would wager. Mouth: indeed, this waxy fatness, with paraffin mingling with tallow candle, then many green and yellow fruits. Apples, gooseberries, greengages again, a touch of grapefruit (with matching wee fizziness) and some rather bold honey, with some pepper on top. Finish: long, still fat and waxy, with the same fruits. Comments: perhaps a vatting of Clynelish with Mortlach? It’s extremely good, full-bodied and yet approachable. Gotta love the Ferrari shark nose, with its small engine.
SGP:562 - 88 points.

Benrinnes 26 yo 1991/2018 (49.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #509, 165 bottles)

Benrinnes 26 yo 1991/2018 (49.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #509, 165 bottles) Five stars
We’ve had a wonderful 1995/2016 in this series (WF 90) and a 1991/2016 that’s been just as great (WF 90). Colour: straw. Nose: same kind of two-step unfolding, with first greases and candles, and then western orchard fruits, plums and apples and buddies. This combo works extremely well, I have to say. We’ll have to ask the distillers why they went back to classic double-distillation. Love this nose, love the fresh hazelnuts, walnuts and pine nuts. Mouth: right, 90% yet again. Green tea, apples, lemons, rapeseed oil, chalk, melon skin, paraffin and plasticine, green peppercorns, white pepper… It’s perfect, rather austere malt whisky. Finish: rather long, lemony, waxy, chalky. Classic style, a shame that the general public does not seem to know about Benrinnes. Comments: as I said (please rack your brain, S.!)
SGP:552 - 90 points.

Benrinnes 20 yo 1997/2018 (54.9%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, sherry hogshead, cask #9731, 212 bottles)

Benrinnes 20 yo 1997/2018 (54.9%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, sherry hogshead, cask #9731, 212 bottles) Five stars
I may have written before that I think that this recent series by SigV is nothing short of spectacular. But Benrinnes plus heavy sherry (according to the colour) may be a little ‘too much’, let us see… Colour: mahogany. Nose: indeed, beef stock, Bovril, marrow, dried porcinis and morels, truffles as well, fresh Cuban cigars, rosewood (old Jaguar), this grease yet again, engine oil, leather… You see. With water: barbecue, dill, smoked sausages, charcoal, sourdough, oloroso, moist black bread, glazed chestnuts, olive oil… Wonderful dry and oily nose. Mouth (neat): it is a spicy sherry monster, ridden with tobacco, caraway, bay leaves, earth, chicken soup, cloves and leather. Very concentrated, shall we say. With water: perfect dry sherry, earthy and ridden with tobacco, and rather coffee and chocolate this time. Very thick mouthfeel. Finish: same for a long time, with the expected spicier and saltier aftertaste (cloves). Comments: you cannot not think of the sherriedmost Mortlachs. Or perhaps some Pittyvaichs? This one means business. High score yet again.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Benrinnes 14 yo 2004/2018 (56.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Benrinnes 14 yo 2004/2018 (56.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: raw, totally distillate-driven, extremely waxy and greasy, tallowy (do you say that?) and full of raw wool, cereals and breads. Not one ounce of fruits this far. Or perhaps unripe jujube? With water: a very grassy and greasy malt indeed. Old clothes, wool, lamp oil, a little fusel, mashed potatoes… Mouth (neat): ah! It’s massive whisky, it’s eminently idiosyncratic (yeah right), green and oily, full of olive, sunflower and grape pips oils, plus some very green apples and a quarter of lemon. Some margarine, perhaps. You could see how such a fat malt would lift and thicken any blended Scotch. With water: lovely yet fully unsexy. Grass, bitter herbs, spicy olive oil, more margarine, cumin… Finish: long, tight, very waxy and green. Dough, no fruits. Comments: a raw baby for punch-ups and Sunday mornings. Totally lovable, but not very easy. You could easily miss its charms.
SGP:262 - 88 points.

We’re doing good so far, aren’t we, but you can’t have too many of these in a row, so perhaps a last one and see you tomorrow!

Benrinnes 18 yo 2000/2018 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 150 bottles)

Benrinnes 18 yo 2000/2018 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 150 bottles) Four stars and a half
A barrel, perhaps more rounded easiness in this case… Colour: straw. Nose: no, no easiness here, rather more oils, sunflower oil, crushed pine nuts, argan oil, old jacket, green apples, the rawest cider they ever made in western Brittany, old books and newspapers, those jujubes yet again (jujubes, are you sure, S.?), and then indeed, a fruitier phase, with lemons and green pears. With water: mud, crude chocolate, overripe apples, porridge and orange wine (not wine made out of oranges, mind you). Mouth (neat): wha-a-at? This is fantastic, if a little simple. Green apples, lemons, limes and grapefruits, blended with some greener oil, but not quite olives. Argan, perhaps? With water: a wee tad fruitier. Gueuze with some sunflower oil – but do those blend well? Finish: ah, olive oil with a salty touch. Comments: W.M. Cadenhead, I just wanted to say, about that new Aston-Martin, please not the one with the Mercedes engine, thank you. No, I’ll play nice, not necessarily the DBS Superleggera in Cosmos Orange with Gloss Black Tinted Carbon finishes.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

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

 

May 14, 2019


Whiskyfun

Macallan new NAS and proper

Certainly not a premier cru anymore, and probably not a second or third one either, but you never know. Some crus bourgeois can be excellent! And after all, they cannot have totally broken the mold over there in Craigellachie.

Macallan ‘Classic Cut 2018’ (51.2%, OB)

Macallan ‘Classic Cut 2018’ (51.2%, OB) Three stars
More NAS, sadly, but a higher strength, which makes for some wee compensation. Hope this baby will be more satisfying than the pretty weak ‘Rare Cask’ that we tried a few weeks ago. Please note that this is a limited edition (90,000 bottles, right…) Colour: gold. Nose: some green and grassy sherry upfront, with quite some gunpowder and struck matches, and a certain rawness. Green walnuts, bitter oranges, a little fresh thuja wood, a touch of menthol, leaves, just a wee hint of rubber… It’s all a little rustic but I find this pleasant. Some parts remind me of the old 10 C/S, only with less roundness. With water: a little more sulphur, used matches, bitter leaves, raisins and really a lot of oak spices. Woodwork. Mouth (neat): a little heavy on the oak indeed (nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger that suggest European oak), then peppery and orange-y. Seville oranges, walnuts, more leaves, grape pips... Rustic again but not quite brutal. With water: nice, peppery, spicy, dry. Young oloroso, tobacco. It hasn’t got much of the old oranges and chocolate style left, though. Finish: medium, green, spicy, a tad bitter. Comments: a little rough, probably one for the hipflask.
SGP:461 - 82 points.

Let’s see if an earlier batch is in a higher league…

Macallan ‘Classic Cut 2017’ (58.4%, OB)

Macallan ‘Classic Cut 2017’ (58.4%, OB) Three stars
Higher league, we wouldn’t know yet, but a higher strength for sure. In general, the bottling strengths within these yearly series tend to go down year after year. Pure magic, I suppose. Colour: golden amber. Nose: even rougher than the 2018, but that may be the higher strength indeed. This time we’re finding a little tar and rather more earth, as well as bags of pine needles, eugenol, menthol, pinesap and such. Some raw cocoa powder too, as well as hard-boiled eggs. Not obligatorily a good sign, we agree. The jury’s still out… With water: cherries, nail polish, chocolate, used matches, mushrooms… Mouth (neat): unusual. Varnish at first, then Williams pears (is it that young?), grapefruits, some sulphur again, eating black pipe tobacco… I’m not too sure, I have to say. With water: black tea, tobacco, sulphur, bitter oranges, bitter chocolate, cloves, amontillado, walnut wine… All rather good things, but it’s a tad dissonant. Finish: medium, a notch sweeter, but there’s a bitterness in the aftertaste that’s not very pleasant. Comments: sort of fine, but probably ten times too expensive on the secondary market. I liked the humble 2018 better.
SGP:361 - 80 points.

It’s a bit like going to see Blue Oyster Cult live in 2019. See what I mean? Or the Frank Zappa Hologram Tour (I’ve heard).

Let’s try to find some indie Macallan, preferably au naturel…

Macallan 13 yo 1990/2004 (46%, Eilan Gillan, France, sherry/bourbon casks, 190 bottles)

Macallan 13 yo 1990/2004 (46%, Eilan Gillan, France, sherry/bourbon casks, 190 bottles) Four stars
Eilan Gillan is/was a French brand by cognac firm Leopold Gourmel. They’ve had some good ones. Colour: white wine. Nose: la dolce vita without any sulphur. Quince jelly, a funny touch of tinned sardines or anchovies (no, really), then some butter fudge, Breton butter cookies, sultanas, custard, and simply brioche, with an earthy side. It was a very nice distillate. Mouth: excellent, complex, slightly earthy, yet clean, perhaps just a tad too young (pears and pineapple sweets), unfolding on peaches and melons, as well as some apricot pie (and cheese cake!) Very good, bright, complex, entrancing… Finish: rather long, moderately spicy, with raisin pies and cereals. Ideas of a Mars bar in the aftertaste. Comments: don’t get me wrong, this is not Mona Lisa, it’s just that so much nicer than the rather coarse and slightly disappointing Classic Cuts. You see what a diplomat I am?
SGP:551 - 87 points.

A last one, preferably an old one…

Macallan 25 yo 1975 (54%, Casa De Vinos, Australia, sherry butt, cask #17113, +/-2000)

Macallan 25 yo 1975 (54%, Casa De Vinos, Australia, sherry butt, cask #17113, +/-2000) Five stars
In theory, this should just rock. It’s by or for some well-reputed wine and spirits shop and importers in Port Melbourne. Indeed that’s Downunda. Colour: red mahogany. Nose: yeah right, Macallan. Corinth currants, soy sauce, marrow, bay leaves, chocolate, oranges, pipe tobacco, coffee, humus, soot, cigars, a touch of strawberry jam, Demerara sugar… Well it’s just got everything. Proper Macallan at their peak. With water: extra-ordinary. Chestnut honey, raisins, teas and jams, wines, leathers, prunes, old rancio, cognac… This one makes you yodel! Mouth (neat): fantastic. Why don’t they still make them like this? Many raisins, tobaccos, herbal teas, meats, chocolates, liqueurs… And this wee thing I often found in good Macallans: a touch of tamarind jam. With water: not that it would remain totally focused, and perhaps does it have one or two off-notes (maybe a touch of rubber?) but tasting this is like going back to a lovely place where you used to spend your vacations while you were a child. Finish: long, very chocolaty, with notes of old Armagnac, rancio, more raisins, and some wonderful Jamaican coffee. And marmalade, of course. Comments: I am wondering, could they make this style again if they wished, or has that become totally impossible, for any technical reasons?
SGP:651 - 93 points.

(Gracias a lot, José and Lucero)

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

 

May 13, 2019


Whiskyfun

Four newish Teaninich

We were chatting the other day with Angus, about this and that, when our young friend said that if there was a distillery that really surprised him in recent times, that was Teaninich. He might be right, let’s see… And first, a wee aperitif.

Teaninich 10 yo 2007/2018 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, casks #702719 & 702720)

Teaninich 10 yo 2007/2018 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, casks #702719 & 702720) Three stars and a half
I know I’m saying this all the time, but I love this wee collection. Colour: white. Well, almost. Nose: good, I’m all for distillate-driven whiskies, but this may have gone a little too far, or it’s lacking thirty extra-years in those exhausted casks. Grass juice, lime peel, bubblegum, nail polish, crushed pine needles, kiwis, concrete… Well, no, actually, this could get very nice on the palate, it may just need a little breathing. Let’s check that… Mouth: pure barley eau-de-vie with pears and apples, and a moderate fatness, rather towards sunflower oil. Notes of ale as well, barley water, a little coffee fudge, shortbread, Smarties… Finish: medium, rather fat, with notes of honey. Sunflower honey, naturally. Sweet maize. Comments: right, this is probably not the Koh-I-Noor of whisky, but it’s a very fine sweet little dram. A very honest one.
SGP:641 - 84 points.

Teaninich 19 yo 1999/2019 (53%, Claxton’s, bourbon hogshead, cask # 1849-307946, 255 bottles)

Teaninich 19 yo 1999/2019 (53%, Claxton’s, bourbon hogshead, cask # 1849-307946, 255 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a rather dry and mineral Teaninich, with notes of green tea and ink at first, then rather dry ale, soot and saltpeter. Quite some paraffin too. With water: raw barley, grist, sourdough, sand, plasticine and rainwater. It’s not a very fruity one. Mouth (neat): much fruitier this time, but rather on acidic apples, fruit stems, then lemon juice and a little angelica. A chalky pepper in the background. With water: opens up like a flower in the morning. Lovely notes of tangerines, grapefruits, apples, all that being coated with a little beeswax and more plasticine. A sweet earthiness. Finish: medium, grassier again, with some bread and some beer in the aftertaste. Comments: close to the barley, very natural. I cannot possibly be against that.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

And now perhaps two 1983s…

Teaninich 34 yo 1983/2018 (46.2%, Berry Bros & Rudd for Shinanoya, Japan, refill hogshead, cask #6729, 252 bottles)

Teaninich 34 yo 1983/2018 (46.2%, Berry Bros & Rudd for Shinanoya, Japan, refill hogshead, cask #6729, 252 bottles) Five stars
With this wonderful retro label from BBR’s. As for Tokyo’s Shinanoya, the reputation’s high, as you probably know. Colour: straw. Nose: ooh! Shoe polish, metal polish, old copper kettle, old coins, then mead, fresh mushrooms, leather polish, guns, grapefruit marmalade, glazed chestnuts, quince jelly, hawthorn tea, nettle and asparagus soups… Well, what a complex nose! I just love it profoundly. Mouth: exceptional Teaninich, a tad sharp at first, then bizarrely medicinal (aspirin and camphor), then full of teas and ointments, plus jams and marmalades. Waxes and citrus, Wulong tea, a touch of red pepper, a wonderful oily bitterness (olive oil)… This is star. Finish: medium, on pretty much the same flavours. Waxes, citrus, herbs, teas… Comments: a magnificent Teaninich and one of the shining stars in Limburg this year. Grapefruits and waxes? Bingo!
SGP:661 - 93 points.

Teaninich 35 yo 1983/2018 (57.5%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill butt, cask #8070, 575 bottles)

Teaninich 35 yo 1983/2018 (57.5%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill butt, cask #8070, 575 bottles) Five stars
What a hit, this series by SigV! Colour: straw. Nose: very different, more restrained, more on sunflower oil and mown lawn, grasses, leaves, concrete and plaster, ink, soot, fresh almonds… In a way we’re closer to Claxton’s than to the Japanese 1983, but that may be a matter of water. With water: it remains a little narrower and more austere, but some perfect notes of mentholy almonds and lemon balm are making their appearance. Some perfect beeswax as well. Mouth (neat): a rather pungent fruitiness, on green apples, raw cider, and even white calvados. A touch of barley syrup around all that, as well as a little white pepper. I think it really needs water indeed. With water: indeed. Some amazing earthy lemons, some ginger, turmeric, touches of peat, oysters, then caraway and cloves, Stolle… I’m just wondering, did these 1983s stem from the A-Side distillery or from the B-Side? I think B-Side was the one they closed for good 1984, and then demolished. Finish: rather long, wonderfully citrusy and earthy. Some limoncello in the aftertaste. Comments: I think I’ll have to learn a bit more about the respective styles of A and B Teaninich. Was this B, a.k.a. Old Teaninich? Or Teaninich’s Brora, if you wish? Exceptional whisky nonetheless. Angus was right about Teaninich!
SGP:561 - 91 points.

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

 

May 12, 2019


Whiskyfun

A few rums as they come

… Riding into the wind, with a green spirit and without any particular purpose in mind. Well, actually, we keepl looking for malternatives…

Chairman’s Reserve ‘The Forgotten Casks’ (40%, OB, St. Lucia, +/-2018)

Chairman’s Reserve ‘The Forgotten Casks’ (40%, OB, St. Lucia, +/-2018) Three stars
It’s always baffled me, that propensity to lose or forget about casks at many distillers’, whether in whisky or in other spirits. But it’s true that that is also any marketing department’s favourite old chestnut. Colour: full gold. Nose: nicely cane-y at first, a tad burnt in a good way, roasted (cakes, nuts), then more floral and fruity. We could mention ylang-ylang, orange blossom, wallflowers, then raspberry ganache and Jaffa cakes. It’s a very nice nose, pretty chocolaty. Mouth: a tad sweeter than expected, but I don’t think it’s been too dosed-up, has it? Pineapple jam, Grand-Marnier, sultanas, heather honey, and quite a lot of fig jam. Please pass the foie gras! Finish: a little short, and that’s the lower strength. Chocolate and coffee, liquorice, a tad liqueury. Comments: pretty much to my liking within this style, but it’s got so many medals at the IWSC, it’s becoming a little suspicious. Oh well, it’s true that this is good rum after all.
SGP:640 - 80 points.

The John Canoe 15 yo (74%, Rum Company ldt. Jamaica for Whiskyteca Giaccone, Italy, +/-1970) Three stars
Watch this, it is very rare. This one is said to be pure Long Pond. Edoardo Giaccone, a.k.a. Baffo, was a well-known Italian whisky pioneer, but I don’t think everybody knows that he was also a rum connoisseur. Well, was he? Let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: take 1/3 sunflower oil, take 1/3 lime juice, take 1/3 petroleum jelly, shake well – you’ve done it. But the strength is probably lethal, water is more than needed… With water: a sugary sweetness coming out, I had believed this was ‘high-ester’ stuff while it gets much lighter once reduced. Having said that it hasn’t lost all of its coastal and brine-y side. Mouth (neat): splendid lemons and gherkin brine at first, but you cannot really drink this, it burns your throat. Of course I tried.

With water: indeed it’s actually pretty light Jamaican, but not all of its Jamaicanness is absent. Liquorice wood, lemons, fruit drops, candied angelica, and just a wee petrolness. Feels like this was distilled in columns, but maybe were those short creoles? Not too sure, I know I should read articles and books about that, but you see, I am not a rum blogger ;-). Finish: rather short. Ripe bananas and liquorice, plus a wee cup of cappuccino. Comments: the lighter side of Jamaica, one that does not bring images of pot stills and dunder or muck pits. But it’s still very good.
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Edoardo Giaccone >

But back to present days…

Hampden 17 yo 2001/2019 (58.8%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, 288 bottles)

Hampden 17 yo 2001/2019 (58.8%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, 288 bottles) Five stars
There is a big problem with the Hampdens in this series. It’s the fact that they’re almost always freakishly good, and so that if there’s any surprise, that can only be a bad one. Boo. Colour: straw. Nose: raw power, as The Stooges would have said. Huge acetone, varnish, seawater, preserved gherkins, green lemons, diesel oil, and teak oil. We’re ready to sail. With water: didn’t someone just repaint the shutters? Fresh paint on old wood. Some raisins as well, those were unexpected. Mouth (neat): massive, varnishy, extremely liquoricy and salty. Someone else may have let some Dutch salted liquorice dissolve in a can of petrol (while repainting the shutters). With water: just evident. Lovely touches of ripe bananas coming through as well. Finish: long, salty, petroly, and nicely fruity towards the aftertaste. Ripe bananas again. Comments: this one wasn’t too complex, but boy did it deliver.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

South Pacific Distillery 17 yo 2001/2018 (57.4%, The Rum Cask, Fiji)

South Pacific Distillery 17 yo 2001/2018 (57.4%, The Rum Cask, Fiji) Four stars and a half
This make can talk with Hampden. After all, it’s both high-ester and pot-still rum. Colour: gold. Nose: okay, it is dirtier than Hampden, with more rotting vegetables, more hay, rather more ink as well, more paraffin… And consequently, less brine, petrol and acetone. So less immediate, but I’m quite a fan of these ones too. Never quite understood why some rum freaks seemed to be loath to drink these little Fijians. I like them a lot (but I’m no rum freak). With water: funny, plasticine, brine, and banana cake. In truth it got much gentler and, well, more cake-y. Mouth (neat): we’re much closer to the Hampden. Same clarity and high-definition this time, olives, diesel oil, grapefruit, seawater… With water: yess, tinned sardines and smoked salmon! Finish: long, salty, going even more towards fish, but the bananas wouldn’t give up and frankly, kippers and bananas do not always get along that well. But isn’t rum only for fun? Comments: excellent, but careful with water, it’s hyper-reactive to H2O.
SGP:552 - 88 points.

Why not stay in Jamaica and try something really very old?

Grange Hill Estate ‘Old Jamaica Rum – Crown Brand’ (no ABV, OB, +/-1940?)

Grange Hill Estate ‘Old Jamaica Rum – Crown Brand’ (no ABV, OB, +/-1940?) Five stars
I could not find much on the Web (a useless thing, really) about a Grange Hill Estate, except stories about slavery. There was a plantation for sure but was there a distillery? Probably, but I’m not sure, so if any proper rum historians do have any clues, please drop me a line and you’ll have earned my eternal gratitude. Colour: gold. Nose: total Jamaicanness, with roasted nuts and some petrol, crushed black olives, old books, liquorice, menthol and some earthy kind of camphor. Just a touch of caramel in the back, like in many old ‘liqueurs’, from cognac to rum via calvados and Macallan. I mean, Scotch whisky. In short, a fantastic tireless nose. Just wondering if they were using those dunder pits into which they used to throw dead animals, fruits and tourists to stimulate high bacterial fermentations. Right, perhaps not tourists. Wait, after a good ten minutes, it starts to display notes of brandy, raisins, old jams, old Sauternes… That’s all plainly brilliant.

Mouth: holy smoke! (good one S.) There’s this wee caramel thing for sure, but other than that, this was brilliant rum, balanced to perfection. Fruits (bananas, naturally), liquorice, petroly elements (tar, oils, plastics), salty things (shells, seawater, brine), then salted fruits of some sorts, raisins, quinces… How good is this?

I don’t know if this bottle was extremely old, but since there’s no ABV statement on the label, it’s probably pre-WWII distillate. Finish: amazing juice, for a long time. Stunning assorted oranges. It’s about time you call the Anti-Rumoporn Brigade! Comments: it’s good to have good friends. Huge mercis Lucero! I’m not sure anyone will find another bottle, but if this came from a Grange Hill Estate and Distillery indeed, well, they were stars. By the way, according to Wikipedia, ‘Grange Hill is a settlement in Jamaica, located in the parish of Westmoreland. It has a population of 7,190 as of 2009’. Good to know, perhaps do some of them still own bottles?
SGP:652 - 94 points.

Jamaica

(Merci beaucoup Lucero and Nicolas)

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

 

May 11, 2019


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
A Brace Of Benriach
Theoretically this should be a pretty straightforward, fruit-accented wee session...

 

Benriach 28 yo 1990/2018 (48.2%, Elixir Distillers ‘Single Malts Of Scotland’, cask #141, bourbon barrel, 107 bottles)

Benriach 28 yo 1990/2018 (48.2%, Elixir Distillers ‘Single Malts Of Scotland’, cask #141, bourbon barrel, 107 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: golden syrup, caramelised oatmeal, garden fruits and apple crumble topped with custard. Some cider apples, gooseberry tart, lemon barley water and a little shortbread sweetness. No one could be against such easy, open and fruity malt whisky. Mouth: a tad straighter and dryer upon delivery. Lots of cereals, breads, sweet pastries such a custard heavy mille-feuille and an almond croissant. Also some bitter orange pith notes, a few yellow flowers, mixed herbs and hint of lemon cough drops. Finish: Medium and rather focused on sweet barley sugar, herbal tea, dandelions and a drop of rapeseed oil. Comments: humble and eminently quaffable mature Speyside malt whisky. Simply but not boring.
SGP: 641 - 87 points.

 

 

Benriach 30 yo (50%, OB, +/- 2013)

Benriach 30 yo (50%, OB, +/- 2013)
Colour: amber/rosewood. Nose: rather a lot of rancio, bitter herbal extracts, roof pitch, dark chocolate and (my beloved) Maggi liquid seasoning. These extractive herbal notes grow rather quickly and it becomes almost like an old Fernet Branca or Jägermeister (ever had a ‘Benriach-Bomb’ while out clubbing Serge?) there’s also aniseed, liquorice and ginger cake - perhaps a slosh of expensive Root Beer as well. Pretty impressive so far I have to say. With water: earthier, more gamey, mushroomy and with this sort of herbal/umami fusion. There’s also a refreshing glimmer of cereals. Mouth: big, herbal, meaty, lightly sooty, some sweet mint and eucalyptus oils and things like Marmite and Bovril. Also brown breads, root ginger, tiger balm and old slightly salty Oloroso. Some dry Madeira, hessian and old earthen floored wine cellars. There’s some impressive old school sherry qualities to this one. With water: seeds, breads, spices, dried mint, herbal resins, cough medicine, hints of precious hardwoods and chai tea. Finish: good length. Earthy, gingery, spicy, more bitter herbal teas, ointments, pot pourri and lime leaf. Comments: We’re some way, stylistically speaking, from those pornographic 1976s. But this is very, very good. It’s quite a bit better than I remember other batches of the 30yo being. Now, I haven’t tried any for a good few years so it may well be time that’s doing that to me. Anyway, I think this is an excellent old sherried Benriach.
SGP: 561 - 90 points.

 

 

Croatia Holiday Bonus!

 

 

We’re on holiday in Croatia this month so it would be remiss of me not to try and include some local distillate / malternative where possible. Let’s see how we go...

 

 

Popic Family Grappa (40%, OB, 2018)
A Grappa made at the small, family run Popic winery on the Island of Korcula where they grow the indigenous Grk variety for their whites and Plavac Mali for the reds. This Grappa is usually further infused with herbs, but at the time of our visit they only had some unlabelled bottles of their ‘pure’ un-infused Grappa. Hence the image of their wine labels by way of illustration. This is distilled from the must of the Grk grapes so it’s equally indigenous to this island as the white wines themselves. Colour: clear. Nose: I often find a rather elegant, bitter almond note in Grappa and I find that here. Beyond that there’s lemongrass, some various other citrus peels, wild mint and that almond aspect morphs into some nice marzipan touches. Some other dried herbs, limoncello and peach stones. Nicely aromatic, easy Grappa. Rather grassy and natural in style. Mouth: much bigger at 40% than most whiskies - although that is no doubt due to lack of oak ageing. This is very mentholated, herbal and elegantly bitter. Some herbal extracts, arrowroot, mint, eucalyptus, thyme and even a slightly salty, black olive edge. Hints of caraway, salty mint, preserved lemon and some pine resin. Really quite good! Finish: good length! Mint tea infused with lemon peel, lime leaf, pink pepper and more of these bitter herbal extracts.
 

 

Comments: I’m no expert on Grappa, so please take whatever I say with a Herculean fistful of Mediterranean sea salt. Having said that, I’ve tried some pretty stunning Grappas in recent times that have made me re-evaluate my feelings about this drink, and this one, while simple and straightforward, is clean, fresh, aromatic and not at all lazy or grubby. I found plenty to enjoy here. Very solid work by the good folk of Popic in my wee opinion.
SGP: 450 - 82 (relatively meaningless) points.

Popic

 

 

 

 

May 10, 2019


Whiskyfun

Mixed bags

Tough love part deux:
Another mixed bag of whiskies of the world de la muerte

We’ve had some hard ones last time, especially some very bland Japanese that were displaying anything but Japanness. Actually, we’ll start this session with that apologetic new blend by Suntory called Ao…

Suntory ‘Ao’ (43%, OB, world blend, Japan, 2019)

Suntory ‘Ao’ (43%, OB, world blend, Japan, 2019) Two stars
Awe or Ao-ch? Most Japanese blends have been said to not be fully Japanese in the past, but this time Suntory decided to play it kind of honest and to show their hand, in this case announce that this is ‘a blend of five major whiskies’ (actually meaning five major whisky countries, but there). Now some would regret that they tried to kanji-ise the word ‘Ao’, and indeed absent-minded buyers will still believe this is proper Japanese whisky, but I say fair play to Suntory, the best being the enemy of the good. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a soft, rather mundane and pretty inoffensive blend, with some vanilla, porridge, a touch of fudge, and perhaps some popcorn. Notes of overripe apples, sweetcorn, marshmallows and a little brioche. Really very gentle. Mouth: some soft spices at first, apples, then cereals, bread, more brioche, vanilla, and pear juice. It’s not got the cardboardy dryness that may be found in many mundane Scotch blends, which I find nice. Lacks body, having said that. Finish: short, clean, on apple pie, with touches of cinnamon. Plum tarte. Comments: it’s really fair, there’s nothing to complain about, it’s all going to be a matter of price. Hope it’s not 180€ like at dekanta’s ;-).
SGP:441 - 75 points.

Puni ‘Alba Last Edition 2015’ (43%, OB, Italy, +/-2018)

Puni ‘Alba Last Edition 2015’ (43%, OB, Italy, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
This is only 30 months old, so not proper whisky, rather ‘acquavite di cereali’. Colour: deep gold. Nose: there’s so much more happening in this one than in the one we had last time. Sure it’s a little unlikely, with notes of muscat and swiss cheese upfront, then wallflowers and lilies, but there is much more action. Litchi, gewurz, roses, orange blossom, sourdough… It’s a funny one. Mouth: not exactly balanced, and probably both too wine-y and old-woody, but once again, there is some action. More muscat, late harvest gewurz, bags of sultanas, and some biscuits and perhaps crêpes Suzette. Good body this time. Finish: medium, very raisiny, with notes of old wood in the aftertaste. Comments: one for la commedia dell’arte, perhaps. What’s sure is that it’s got more Italianness than the Puni ‘Nova’.
SGP:641 - 78 points.

Amrut 2011/2018 (60%, OB for Kirsch Import Germany, India, oloroso sherry butt, cask #4133, 300 bottles)

Amrut 2011/2018 (60%, OB for Kirsch Import Germany, India, oloroso sherry butt, cask #4133, 300 bottles) Four stars and a half
Distilled from proper Indian barley! Don’t they make oloroso too in Bharat? Colour: amber gold. Nose: powerful, but rather magnificent, even at this homicidal strength. Mango cake, crushed bananas, sultanas, dried figs, quite a lot of Virginia tobacco, some Sauternes rather than oloroso (or late-harvest sémillon), Linzertorte… So far, so wonderful. With water: stunning cakes, brioches, pastries, cookies, croissants, biscuits… well you got my point, I suppose. Mouth (neat): sweet Jesus! I mean, sweet Vishnu! It is a fantastic (albeit strong) mix of gingerbread and many jams (banana, mango, orange), with a touch of aniseed and sesame. Not much oloroso in sight as far as I can tell, or maybe just wee touches of gunpowder? With water: a little yeasty/ale-y for a few seconds, then spicier than expected. Caraway and ginger, a metallic touch that works well in this context, and some chutneys that are acting similarly. Finish: long, with a little gunpowder, jams, and more funny cakes than at Starbucks. Comments: extremely good, I think. I may have gone to 90 without this little gunpowder.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Beek ‘batch 2’ (43%, OB, blend, Netherlands, 2018)

Beek ‘batch 2’ (43%, OB, blend, Netherlands, 2018) Two stars and a half
Listen, this is a blend of six Dutch malts (Millstone, Texel, Frysk Hynder, IJsvogel, Den Hool and Eastmoor) with some Scottish grain. Many names I had never heard of – and wondering why no Dutch friends are making grain whisky. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s soft as some morning croissants, with touches of lambic, vanilla, apple compote, and… more croissants. Roasted almonds, perhaps a touch of peanut butter, the tiniest hints of fresh paint, and then more apples. It’s pretty fine so far. Mouth: a tad oakier now, with a little too much sawdust and cinnamon for my taste, and a moderately big middle. In truth it is a little thin, perhaps have they added too much young grain. But there are also nice oranges, spicy bread, a touch of muscovado sugar… Finish: a little short, with a little bread and cardboard, but a small slice of apple tarte saved it. Comments: I’d rather have some pure Millstone, but there, this little Dutch composition is not bad at all. Beats the Ao.
SGP:441 - 77 points.

And now a rare old Canadian…

J.P. Wiser’s 35 yo (50%, OB, Northern Border Collection, Canadian, 2017)

J.P. Wiser’s 35 yo (50%, OB, Northern Border Collection, Canadian, 2017) Four stars
That the great people at The Whisky Exchange would have this very old Canadian at only £122 a bottle just baffles me. Some very wise words on the label, “Quality is something you just can’t rush”. Please tell your colleagues in all countries! Colour: gold. Nose: some fresher bourbon, with some sweet maize and sweet bread, some earl grey tea aplenty, some cigarettes, a little varnish, and a growing floral side, rather on dandelions and other yellow glories. Buttercups. Some pastry dough as well, between unbaked panettone and kougelhopf. With water: I would not add any water, it makes it much younger and more bourbony. Coconut, vanilla, rye… Mouth (neat): sweet and earthy, a combination that’s pretty rare. Sweet roots, carrots, beetroots, sugarcane, hay wine, more earl grey, then a breadier side, around rye bread and buckwheat crêpes. All that is coated with custard and corn syrup – if not maple syrup since this is Canadian. With water: wouldn’t change much this time, or maybe does the earthiness become even more noticeable. Isn’t that the rye? Finish: a little short, rather sweet. Notes of blackberries and grenadine, that’s funny. Lavender sweets. Comments: why is it this cheap? Quality’s high! Canadian whisky has still got some work to do, I suppose.
SGP:540 - 86 points.

Some proper Japanese please…

Komagate 2014/2019 ‘The Double Cask’ (60%, OB, Japan, casks #1767 and 1877, 498 bottles)

Komagate 2014/2019 ‘The Double Cask’ (60%, OB, Japan, casks #1767 and 1877, 498 bottles) Five stars
This baby rom Mars Shinshu Distillery is a vatting of a bourbon barrel (from or chosen by ePower) with a new American oak cask (by Bar Barns). Indeed it’s all a tad complicated, the back label being in Japanese, so better try it than further elaborate and make fools of ourselves… Colour: gold. Nose: typical heavy fresh white oak, ridden with melon jam and vanilla custard, as well as mandarin marmalade and soft sweet cinnamon cake. It’s simple, but it’s perfect. Bauhaus whisky? With water: wow, mint in full bloom! And mint honey! Spectacular, wonderfully clean and perfectly defined and ‘chiseled’. I find this very Japanese. Mouth (neat): fantastic, luminous. Sweet citrusy hops, melons, limoncello, sweet green spices, apricots, quinces, vanilla, white grapes and papayas. Nothing to add. With water: how do you say ‘f***** good’ in Japanese? Superb citrus and tropical fruits, with just the right amount of vanilla. Please call Tokyo’s Anti-Maltoporn Brigade! Finish: long, clean, simple, perfect. Maltier and cake-ier this time. Comments: we’ll have to find some new proper ex-bourbon Chichibu, we’re losing too much energy with their innumerable wine casks these days. But why am I saying that here? Deepest apologies, Hombo Shuzo!
SGP:641 - 91 points.

Chichibu 2011/2019 ‘Malt Dream Cask for TMC’ (62.3%, OB, Japan, bourbon barrel, cask #1535, 173 bottles)

Chichibu 2011/2019 ‘Malt Dream Cask for TMC’ (62.3%, OB, Japan, bourbon barrel, cask #1535, 173 bottles) Five stars
I agree, this feels like it was all prepared. Well, it was (shame on you, S.)  But what is TMC? Tele Monte-Carlo? Colour: gold. Nose: it is fascinating to have this after the Mars. There are numerous similarities, but this Chichibu’s a little fresher and tenser, rather more citrusy, and rather less on rounder fruits. So more lemons than quinces, if you like. It’s also got more ale, bread, yeast, dough, patchouli… It’s perhaps a little more complex, and a tad less ‘clean’, whatever that really means. But it’s a battle of young giants, really. With water: bubblegum dissolved in varnish and IPA. Sounds terrible; it’s not. Mouth (neat): totally splendid. Menthol and lemon in perfect sync this time, plus a little liquorice wood. Have you called the A-M Brigade yet? With water: no! Starts to get totally umami-like, not to mention that famous new sixth taste, the name escapes me. You know, the taste of fat. Fat-tastic development on soy, porcini soup, asparagus, tobacco, chen-pi, suet, marrow… Wow wow wow wow wow! (that’ll do S., I think we got your point). One of those bourbon barrels that have got ‘ideas’ of old sherry, which happens rarely but it does happen. Always fab. Finish: long. Comments: a dazzling Chichibu that just kills you. Bourbon barrels and basta!
SGP:562 - 93 points.

I think I shall just sit down for a few more minutes to try to get my breath back. See you.

(Gracias Giovanni, Hideo, Lau, Michiel and Werry)

 

May 9, 2019


Whiskyfun

Mixed bags

Tough love:
Mixed bag of whiskies of the world de la muerte

I mean, whiskies from here and there, without any logic but always with good faith and an open heart. Peace!

Kura (40%, OB, Japan, pure malt, +/-2018)

Kura (40%, OB, Japan, pure malt, +/-2018)
That’s the thing, you cannot believe what the Japanese are telling us anymore. I’ve seen some reassuring PR campaigns by Nikka and perhaps Suntory, but that’s a little late, in my book and unless a bottle is properly marked with ‘Yamazaki’, or ‘Yoichi’, or whichever proper distillery name, Japanese whisky = totally or partially sourced. I’m sorry. Colour: straw. Nose: bread and banana, sawdust, porridge, baguette. Extremely young, not bad, but totally uninteresting. Mouth: sour and woody, young, extremely bad, immature. Weissen beer aged at Ikea’s. Finish: medium, bad, on sawdust. Comments: nightmare in a bottle. Very bad, €105 a bottle, shame on you! You may stick your bottles up your ears, samurais! (Now this was probably made-up by some fresh-graduated brexity European so-called brand-builders, so no offence meant to our beloved and very engaging genuine Japanese whisky friends). But really, yuck de yuck de yuck de yuck, it is almost as bad as the new Macbooks.
SGP:210 - 29 points..

The good thing is that we control anything that goes here on WF… Like, this answer…

Chichibu 6 yo 2011/2018 (60.9%, Asta Morris, bourbon barrel, cask #1552)

Chichibu 6 yo 2011/2018 (60.9%, Asta Morris, bourbon barrel, cask #1552) Four stars
Totally love Chichibu when they do not use unnecessary and unlikely wine woods. Which seems to be the case here… I mean, no crappy wine casks in sight, hurray! Colour: straw. Nose: variations on natural vanilla and small berries, that’s how some folks would describe it. Some porridge, muesli, fresh breads, strawberry yoghurt (always that funny molecule), pink bananas, white currants, and cinnamon and nutmeg from the oak. With water: freshly sawn oak, fresh croissant, green bananas. Mouth (neat): you do feel the youth, and sure it’s a tad excessive as far as Haribo-y flavours are concerned (shall we call them lab fruits?) but on the other hand, it’s got this precursory yeasty side that just ticks and works. Like, pink bananas, Williams pears, cranberries, pomegranates, strawberries… With water: same, just easier, sweeter, and even more on bananas, both pink and regular - and let’s not forget our smaller plantains. Finish: long, very bready, pretty young. Comments: young fresh malt whisky of high quality kept in proper oak barrels. Now, please friends, do something about all those fake Japanese whiskies! They suck and they will bring you all down!
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Phew, had to get that off my chest… But let’s change country before our blood boils…

Puni Nova (43%, OB, Italy, bourbon cask, +/-2017)

Puni Nova (43%, OB, Italy, bourbon cask, +/-2017)
Some Italian whisky, first time I’m trying it. As always with our Italian friends, it’s rather a lot about design, although as far as I can tell, this is no Lambo Miura. And at €80 a bottle, the price is not exactly right, is it? Unless, let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: hello? It’s almost empty, I’m not getting much. Hints of vanilla and wisps of barley. Perhaps. Confectionary, vanillin… Mouth: not too bad, but why? Vanilla, barley, oak, touches of liquorice. Tannins. Thin body. Finish: short, oaky. Some sugar. Comments: this baby has raised some degree of confusion at WF Towers. Why would anyone make some ‘new’ whisky that would be this light? Why not look for proper asperities and idiosyncrasies? Now we'll try a 'better' Puni right tomorrow, so stay tuned.
SGP:310 - 65 points.

Wait, we may have been harsh on Japan, let’s try to make amend… Oh, no!...

Kirin ‘Fuji-Sanroku’ (50%, OB, Japan, +/-2018)

Kirin ‘Fuji-Sanroku’ (50%, OB, Japan, +/-2018)
Careful now. Colour: straw. Nose: bah, vanilla, plywood, cardboard. Ugly, bland, empty. Another Japanese swindle? A pack of Marks & Spencer gums – yes it’s that bland. Mouth: it’s really bad, sour, sugary, planky… In truth we’re about to throw up. What a nightmare! That some well-respected whisky websites would sell this utter swill for approx. €60 a bottle just baffles me. I know money has no smell, but still, guys, if I may, get ahold of yourself! Finish: disgusting. Sugar in the aftertaste – coz sadly, there is an aftertaste. Comments: sourly woody, hardly drinkable, some emetic whisky, really. Even Ozzy wouldn’t have drunk this. Total crookery, you could use it to torture someone, really. Japanese friends, please do something (but yeah, indeed, we’ve got our share of junk whisky in France too, apologies to the world!) I could down a magnum of Johnnie Red to recover, really. Kirin, what the fudge???!!!
To think that some Gotembas are/were so good...
SGP:321- 20 points.

Oh yeah, Johnnie Walker, why not…

Johnnie Walker ‘White Walker’ (41.7%, OB, blend, 2018)

Johnnie Walker ‘White Walker’ (41.7%, OB, blend, 2018)
I think it’s about Game of Thrones. I don’t care about Game of Thrones and or franchises, I think I’ve seen two episodes and never quite understood anything, only that the whole shebang seems to trigger lowest instincts. In other words, sex and violence. Why a very well-respected leading whisky company would fall this low, I do not know, but there, there is some juice in the bottle, so let’s see… By the way, that bottle’s very ugly, isn’t it. Colour: gold. Nose: the whisky’s better than the story at this point, for sure. Nice parsley, thyme, meats, old papers, pine needles, bouillons, Bovril, marrow… This is all quite unusual, and it got off the beaten tracks, for sure. Like that, but truth lies on the palate... Mouth: not totally bad indeed, just very weak. Yeah well, those conceited extra 1.7% couldn’t add much powah, could they. Salty soups and puréed chestnuts. Sadly, it tends to become very dry and extremely cardboardy after just thirty seconds, calling for ice. Bad sign, that. Finish: medium, sour and bitter. Bittersweet sauces. Comments: the whole thing doesn’t quite smell right to me. A botched job if you ask me, not very authentic, not very Diageo (Diageo, I’m sorry!)
SGP:231 - 60 points.

What a horrible session today! But let’s show both patience and perseverance…

Milk & Honey ‘Triple Cask’ (46%, OB, Israel, 2449 bottles, 2018)

Milk & Honey ‘Triple Cask’ (46%, OB, Israel, 2449 bottles, 2018) one star and a half
Matured in red wine, bourbon and Islay wood, what could go wrong? Ha. By the way when was this distilled? Now as for the biblical references, after all, other places, other ways. Colour: gold. Nose: soft vanilla-ed wood, oak, touches of iron, cassis, mashed potatoes and celeriac, gewurztraminer, oak. New furniture, tapioca, nutmeg. Mouth: quite good for a few seconds but very much oak-influenced, and rather unbalanced. Sawdust, wood smoke, then better flavours such as lemons and angelica. Green pepper too, perhaps too much green pepper? Finish: rather long, rather too grassy and spicy. Berries and green pepper. Comments: it’s rather all about the casks, so it’s hard to say whether this distillate has got some potential or not. We shall see, that should be the case. Plus, indeed it defeated the White Walker fair and square.
SGP:452 - 69 points.

What a difficult session! Frankly, it’s been a little tiring. Just between us - and let us speak frankly and drop any political correctness for a moment - the vast majority of the new ‘world’ whiskies are just a waste of barley and other cereals. We do understand the motives, the patriotism, the proudness and the enthusiasm, but seriously, in most cases there’s just nothing to write home about. But there are exceptions, of course…

Kornog ‘Roc’h Hir’ (46%, OB, France, bourbon, 2018)

Kornog ‘Roc’h Hir’ (46%, OB, France, bourbon, 2018) Four stars and a half
As you may very well know, this is Glann ar Mor’s Port Charlotte. Or Longrow. Or Ledaig. So to speak… Colour: straw. Nose: very Kornog, that is to say fruity and smoky, with a lightness and yet some depth. Hessian, olives, pineapples, pears, then tinned sardines and anchovies. Or rather anchoiade, which is a blend of crushed olives and anchovies, with some garlic. No garlic in this whisky though, I was just telling you. Notes of seawater with bitter almonds, which is obviously nice. Mouth: super very très bon! I totally enjoy these olive-y notes, the spicy herbs, the rougher apples (cider apples), and the almondy smokiness. There is a softness, and yet a rather bold, somewhat tarry peatiness. In truth some would find echoes of old Ardbeg in that respect. Which cannot be bad, we agree. Finish: long, very fresh, all on green olives, lemons, smoke, and seawater. Didn’t know they were having olives in the lovely north of Brittany! Comments: it’s the bright smoky freshness that’s most pleasant here. Plus, you can’t go wrong with green olives. And perhaps samphires?
SGP:456 - 88 points.

Good, we’ve found a winner, better call this a session before we stumble upon some one-year-old Outer-Mongolian buckwheat whisky… But there will be more tomorrow.

 

May 8, 2019


Whiskyfun

Kilkerran and partnering spongy Campbeltowner

There is this wee Kilkerran by Springbank’s Glengyle Distillery that I haven’t tried yet. And then a fitting sparring partner – I hope.

Kilkerran 11 yo 2007/2018 (58.1%, Cadenhead, sherry cask, hogshead, 564 bottles)

Kilkerran 11 yo 2007/2018 (58.1%, Cadenhead, sherry cask, hogshead, 564 bottles) Four stars
This will be a little heavy, I would wager. Remember Kilkerran is the brand name of Mitchell’s Glengyle Distillery, which was restarted in 2004 using Ben Wyvis’ pair of old stills. Colour: amber. Nose: more chocolate than in Mars bars, plus distinct whiffs of rose petals, lady’s perfume (musk?) and some extremely black black bread. Old-style pumpernickel? Some menthol too, new Chinese plastics (new Nikes), game, mole sauce, crispy duck and prune sauce… Well, it is definitely Chinese. Very singular whisky. With water: soot, leather, flints, gunpowder, and some heavy caraway and juniper. Shall we call this one assertive? Mouth (neat): huge, very meaty and game-y, with more Beijing duck (and prune sauce, and thin pancakes, and baiju…) and chocolaty prunes plus some tart lemon jam and a bittersweet development. You could dip some dim-sum dumplings into this one and find a lot of pleasure in doing so, while offending no one. With water: it’s become chicken bouillon, with some parsley and some marrow. Very salty and chocolaty. Finish: long, sweet and spicy, and saltier yet towards the aftertaste. Comments: a big boy for sure, pretty extreme at times, but spectacular and not unbalanced. An elephant performing a trapeze act, I like that.
SGP:652 - 86 points.

Campbeltown 21 yo 1997/2019 (55%, Whisky Sponge, bourbon barrel, 178 bottles)

Campbeltown 21 yo 1997/2019 (55%, Whisky Sponge, bourbon barrel, 178 bottles) Five stars
The spongy whisky entity that’s behind this bottling would not tell us what this exactly is, but there are clues on the label. I mean, who makes a triple-distilled Campbeltowner these days? You are right, this ought to be Hazelburn. Colour: straw. Nose: you know, this feeling of a Springbank that is just a little lighter than it usually is. So limestone and metal polish, lemon squash, plasticine, bandages, some crushed fern and other wild leaves, grapefruit skin, then more and more chalk and plaster, as well as hints of new US oak, that is to say vanilla and coconut. No worries, there are only minimal amounts of coconut here. With water: tightens a bit, while becoming more refreshing and kind of minimalistic. Not an official Dalmore, if you like. Mouth (neat): very good and very different. Bags and bags of peppermint plus a little coconut oil, green pepper, pomelos, green bananas and limoncello. All that with that trademark dry fatness that’s always to be encountered over there in Campbeltown. No, of course not at the people’s. With water: these wee touches of wax and even plastics that are so emblematic. Paraffin and grapefruits. Finish: long, really very good, bright, coastal/salty, with even more grapefruits and paraffin. Some coconut again in the signature. Comments: such old Hazelburns are rare. What this one shows is that the make ages gracefully, provided no Dr. Frankenstein of whisky ever did any excessive ‘wood téhhhknology’ experiments on it. Superb Hazelburn. By the way, are sponges plants or animals?
SGP:552 - 90 points.
 

May 7, 2019


Whiskyfun

A bag of good and badder new Ardbeg

We haven’t tried the new Drum yet (but what a name), in fact we may have been procrastinating a bit with that one. The story is so unlikely and, I would add, a little off-putting. Rum-flavoured Ardbeg? Anyway, we needed a good excuse to try some other (and proper) Ardbegs, so let’s proceed with that little Drum…

Ardbeg ‘Drum’ (52%, OB, Committee Edition, 2019)

Ardbeg ‘Drum’ (52%, OB, Committee Edition, 2019) Two stars and a half
A little sad, no age statement and a finishing in rum, what could go wrong? You say everything? Let’s check that, it’s not obligatorily pathetic whisky despite the unlikely gimmick. Colour: white wine. Nose: some kind of smoked mojito, really. Cane juice, lime, creosote, then more lemons and some kind of sour sauce. Wait, tequila joven? Indeed, I feel this is more agave-driven than sugarcane-led. So more margarita than mojito. Anyway, it’s only moderately interesting. With water: young smoked malt, kiln and stuff. No rum this time, not sure we should complain. Mouth (neat): weird and a little dissonant. Young Ardbeg with a layer of pepper and muscovado sugar, also lemon juice. Some planky notes too, or sawdust and vanillin. With water: fine. After all, this is still Ardbeg. A sour sweetness in the background, which is less Ardbeg. Finish: medium, sour-sweet. You could pour this over Thai shrimps, I’d wager. Comments: did they tell anyone where the rum casks were coming from? It’s okay, it’s just very forgettable in my book, or just whisky for flippers. What was that again?
SGP:466 - 79 points.

Good, let’s turn to the indies for some proper new Ardbeg…

Ardbeg 14 yo 2004/2019 (60.7%, Adelphi, bourbon, cask #700171, 194 bottles)

Ardbeg 14 yo 2004/2019 (60.7%, Adelphi, bourbon, cask #700171, 194 bottles) Five stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: slaughters the poor Drum, it’s almost sad. This is some ultra-precise, totally blade-y naked young Ardbeg, ridden with smoked barley, creosote, seashells, tarmac, linoleum and chalk. Not very wide, but perfect. With water: always loved these whiffs of shoe polish, new leatherette, vinyl, new woolen jumper… Mouth (neat): perfect. Raw lemons, aniseed, cigar ashes, seawater, and a little gherkin brine for good measure. With water: more sweetness, rather towards limoncello this time, exactly as it should be. Finish: long, pristine, more medicinal this time. Iodine, salt, lemon, camphor… Moderate camphor always wins it in my book. Comments: reminds me of the good batches of Ardbeg Ten, only with more power and sharpness. Indisputable.
SGP:367 - 90 points.

An older one, perhaps…

Ardbeg 27 yo 1991/2018 (48.5%, Private Cask, hogshead, cask #02/54-4, 149 bottles)

Ardbeg 27 yo 1991/2018 (48.5%, Private Cask, hogshead, cask #02/54-4, 149 bottles) Five stars
No grandiose, bombastic, grandiloquent label here, you couldn’t make then any simpler. That’s refreshing, isn’t it. Remember these batches were made by Allied’s workforces from Laphroaig while Ardbeg was almost silent. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is quasi-official and I cannot not think of my beloved Airigh Nam Beist. Perfect balance, between the smoke, the softer coastal elements, the lemons and some lovely sour fruit juice, perhaps rhubarb. It’s extremely Ardbeg, albeit with a softer tone. Touches of custard and white wine sauce, it’s even a tad Meursaulty at times. I’m very fond of this nose. Mouth: all very good, a tad rustic as some Ardbegs could be, with notes of ouzo, then oysters, lemon, ashes, and a greener kind of liquorice. Some green walnuts too, fino, vin jaune, soft mustard… But sadly, no morels. Finish: long, rather more on salted liquorice and simply smoked brine. Kippers. Comments: a slightly gentler one after the Adelphi, but it remains a very robust dram. To whom this may concern, well done!
SGP:457 - 90 points.

Four’s a good number…

Ardbeg 25 yo 1993/2019 (51.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 216 bottles)

Ardbeg 25 yo 1993/2019 (51.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 216 bottles) Four stars and a half
Still no silly Franklin-Mint-style decanters at Cadenhead’s, hurray! I had thought last year’s 1993 had been slightly underwhelming (WF 87) and others a little weak as well, but our hopes remain high. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s some kind of Hampbeg, or Ardbden. Indeed, this noses just like a blend of clean Ardbeg and Hampden rum from Jamaica. Granted, there probably isn’t a single drop of Hampden inside, but there. Brine, sour apples, lemons, olives, smoke, sourdough, yoghurt, seaweed… Indeed, indeed. With water: yesss. Old tweed, Islay mud, tarmac, old kiln, creosote, beach pebbles, plastic pouch. Mouth (neat): the dry oak’s a little more prominent, and the whole a tad more on lemons and brine, but all remains very well and fine here. Wee touches of varnish, perhaps? But that would hint at Jamaican rum again, I agree. That’s intriguing. With water: yeppie, this works. Pepper, brine, salted fish, tar, liquorice, curry… Finish: long, even more peppery. Where does all this pepper come from? The lemons return in the aftertaste, together with touches of leaves and branches. Comments: there are echoes of Talisker in this one. Not your average Ardbeg, for sure, but I rather loved it. Vive la difference, my friend.
SGP:467 - 89 points.

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

 

May 6, 2019


Whiskyfun

Lagavulin on the tasting desk

Always a hit, Lagavulin. Even when within a series all whisky flippers are busy with like flies on cow dung. Oh you see what I mean, John Stark.

Lagavulin 9 yo ‘Game Of Thrones House Lannister’ (46%, OB, 2019)

Lagavulin 9 yo ‘Game Of Thrones House Lannister’ (46%, OB, 2019) Three stars
Try or try not, as our Italian friends would say? Well it was going to happen sooner or later. It’s true that seeing a grand-cru brand such as Lagavulin associated with a worldwide franchise such as this ongoing televisual pseudo-medieval slaughter is a little disappointing. But after all, there’s already been some GOT wine, GOT sunglasses, GOT condoms, and GOT hemorrhoid cream, so why not Lagavulin. Quite. Colour: gold. Nose: some oak feels a little bit at first, with pencil shavings and curry powder, some tapioca, some cinnamon, quite some nutmeg… Does all that belong here? The distillate will need at least five minutes to come to the front, with a very soft, whispering coastal peatiness. Overripe apples. It is one of the softest Lagavulins I could try, it’s almost NAS with an age statement, if you see what I mean. Mouth: good, just a little too oaky, with too much charcoal and pencil shavings again. Feels a bit ‘pushed’ for Lagavulin. Finish: long, peppery, simple. More pencil shavings and vanilla. Comments: gentle and good but I would say there are many better options at Lagavulin’s. All of them, actually.
SGP:456 - 82 points.

Lagavulin 12 yo 2005/2018 (57.8%, OB Special Releases)

Lagavulin 12 yo 2005/2018 (57.8%, OB Special Releases) Five stars
This one came with a vintage statement if I'm not mistaken, whilst earlier SRs weren’t bearing any if I’m not mistaken. I know I’m late, but Angus already tried it for these humble pages. Colour: white wine. Nose: an anti-GOT. A thing of The Night, perhaps (I should have followed that series, really.) Sharp, well-carved, very vertical, peaty, mineral, distillate-driven, without one ounce of oak in the way this time. I like this so much better, it is almost embarrassing! With water: old jackets, caps, trousers, and shirts. Clean. Mouth (neat): sublime crystal-clean grapefruits, raw peat, oysters, seaweed, beach sand, and just a touch of curry and pepper. With water: perhaps a little more peppery oak than previously, but I am not sure. Quality is high, that I’m sure of. Finish: long, tight as a drum. Or there, as a bow. Comments: Some Kurozawa or Coppola instead of b****y Game of Thrones. There.
SGP:357 - 90 points.

Let’s find older vintages…

Lagavulin 1988 (56%, Samaroli, 324 bottles, +/-2000)

Lagavulin 1988 (56%, Samaroli, 324 bottles, +/-2000) Five stars
Samaroli was not selecting his whiskies from spreadsheets, you know! And he was very good at choosing ‘different’ makes, so let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: starts between kirsch and nail polish remover, goes on with melon jam and seawater, as well as muscadet and kiwis, with touches of new plastic in the background. Plastic is bad in the oceans, but it can be lovely in whisky, well that’s my opinion. Okay ‘a feeling of plastic’. With water: sour waters, muds, rugged fabric, porridge, and minimal amounts of smoke. Different indeed. Mouth (neat): reminds me of Moon Import’s In The Pink bottling. Sour apples, smoke, grapefruit juice, seawater, burnt pumpkin cake, liquorice. Not your average Lagavulin indeed. With water: lovely, and rather reminiscent of Silvano’s Longrows this time. Baker’s yeast and smoke, leaven, soot, sour lemons, mezcal… It’s getting brilliant, it’s just that it needed time. Finish: long, and the best part of it. Superb sooty/lemony rise to the stars, with a stunning mineral ending. Kurozawa indeed. Comments: it’s not consistent, and that’s why I couldn’t possibly go above 90, but it’s got sparkles of genius at times. Some rather intellectual Lagavulin.
SGP:456 - 90 points.

Back to the officials…

 

Lagavulin 21 yo 1997/2018 (56.6%, OB, Select Cask for European Lagavulin Fans, European oak, cask #001, 158 bottles)

Lagavulin 21 yo 1997/2018 (56.6%, OB, Select Cask for European Lagavulin Fans, European oak, cask #001, 158 bottles) Five stars
Looks like a bunch of European pals have broken their piggy bank here. Isn’t life short anyway? And do we really need a new Tesla? Colour: gold. Nose: Angus already tried this one for little Whiskyfun and liked it mucho. But Angus is Angus. Fern, sorrel, green peppercorns, paraffin, old leather and old books, manzanilla, mustard, fresh walnuts, a large bag of cider apples, and green cigars like they have in Indonesia. A very peculiar smell. Or there, a pack of bidîes and some kind of greener incense. Love this. With water: our usual old tweed jacket, our fresh croissants, and just the right amount of rainwater in a large city. New York, London, Berlin, Tokyo, Moscow, Paris, Turckheim… Mouth (neat): so tense, chiseled, blade-y, peppery, almost chili-like… You could pour this over fajitas! It’s really raw and almost aggressive, but you would just let it. Acidic Luwak coffee. A fighter of a Laga, I would say. With water: careful with water, Lagavulin’s always very sensitive to water and would change a lot even with one tiny drop. In this very case, I would say water’s unnecessary, as it would get a little too sweetish. Finish: very long, perfect when undiluted. Comments: in truth, water’s unnecessary indeed here. Utterly stunning whisky when un-H2O-ed.
SGP:357 - 92 points.

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

 

May 5, 2019


Whiskyfun

Rums for real, or making amend

I mean, proper rum, without any dodgy sauces, dosages, sweeteners, unlikely concoctions, or proprietary liqueurs. In short, pure rum. Well, hopefully… Well, we may fail here and there, we’re no rum experts…

Don Papa ‘Rare Cask’ (50.5%, OB, Philippines, for Chat Noir, +/-2018)

Don Papa ‘Rare Cask’ (50.5%, OB, Philippines, for Chat Noir, +/-2018) Two stars
There’s a lot of gibberish on the front and back labels, and indeed we all remember both the NAS and the 10yo are unapologetically sugared-up, so not actual rums. Yeah, pure crookery, but I’ve heard good things about these rare casks, from trustworthy people. Let’s make up our own mind… Colour: amber. Nose: frankly, it’s OK. It reminds me a bit of that Azeri tar liqueur, Balsam, and of burnt pinewood, with touches of liquorice and burned bananas. Teak oil, fresh thuja wood… It’s not un-nice, really, I am positively surprised. With water: same. Caramel, pineapple and banana liqueurs, ylang-ylang, hibiscus… A tad regressive, in truth, but really ‘nice’. Mouth (neat): it’s okay! There is some added sugar and sweet concoctions from ‘the lab’, but this time we’re above, say any average South-Americans, such as Cacique and buddies. It’s just that there’s no middle, it tends to nosedive after just fifteen seconds. Burnt wood, bananas, triple-sec, clove… With water: really, it’s okay, we’re safe, we survived it, and even enjoyed it. Finish: very short, that’s its weaker point. Some sugar in the aftertaste. Comments: nice effort, way above the putrid swill they’re putting out otherwise. The 10 yo is totally terrible, and not recommended by dentists. Oh well…
SGP:630 - 75 points.

Plantation ‘Xamayca Special Dry’ (43%, Plantation, Jamaica, +/-2018)

Plantation ‘Xamayca Special Dry’ (43%, Plantation, Jamaica, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
A blend of Clarendon and Long Pond that, contrarily to what Plantation are doing most of the times, was not sugared-up. Right, not dosaged. Well that’s what their rep told me, let us check that, don’t we owe them a few points anyway? (ha!)… Colour: gold. Nose: no, it’s fully on rotten fruits, mucky smells, olives, rotting gherkins, liquorice, mud, horse saddle, and tarmac. So far, so good, no problems, all is fine, we couldn’t possibly complain. But… Mouth: no buts, there’s no detectable added sugar, just a bizarre kind of burnt pinewood liqueur or something. Other than that, we’re having the usual tar, liquorice, rotting bananas, and black olives. And just the right amount of ‘funk’, although this would not quite be of Parliament quality. Finish: medium to short, very okay, brine-y, slightly smoky. Comments: not pristinely Jamaican and far from Hampden, but not bad at all, in my humble opinion. That’s right, after Don Papa, I rather enjoyed a rum by Plantation. Kind of. Need I see a shrink?
SGP:642 - 78 points.

Another brand I’ve been treating very badly in the past…

Dictador 38 yo ‘Best of 1980’ (45%, OB, Colombia, cask #EX-W232, 300 bottles, 2018)

Dictador 38 yo ‘Best of 1980’ (45%, OB, Colombia, cask #EX-W232, 300 bottles, 2018) Three stars
We’ve been making much fun of Dictador in the past, not least because of the very sexy hostesses they always need to ‘display’ at festivals, but it seems that the figures here are totally genuine. Indeed, these 38 years may well be real, mind you! Colour: deep amber. Nose: well, this IS sexy indeed. Peach jam, chocolate sauce, honeysuckle, toffee, café latte, melon and mango jellies… It’s rather fresh and expressive, probably not as complex as any whisky or brandy (or rum) would be at this age, but there, it’s really nice. Thirty-eight? Why not… Mouth: hard to say. What’s sure is that there’s a lot of liquorice, wood spices, jams, toffees, fudges, coffees… There’s even a little ham, but the 38 years just do not feel, as this remains some pretty simple rum. Kahlùa. Finish: short, but not sweet. Coffee and nice touches of earth and liquorice. Comments: a good thing is that there’s no added sugar that I can find using my personal alcoholmeter and hydrometer. That would be my tongue and palate. In truth, this is extremely fine rum. But very old rum? Perhaps…
SGP:640 - 82 points.

Good, we’ve found some good Don Papa, Plantation, and Dictador, wasn’t that great work? Not that I would want to toot my own horn here, but there… And now, back to normality…

Savanna 2007/2018 (63.9%, The Wild Parrot, La Réunion, grand arôme, cask #WP07639)

Savanna 2007/2018 (63.9%, The Wild Parrot, La Réunion, grand arôme, cask #WP07639) Four stars
Be careful, this Frenchy rum should rock our souls… And remember, grand arôme suggests high esters. Colour: full gold. Nose: not that big, it’s even kind of timid, shy, self-restrained… It’s the oak that does that, there’s a layer of vanilla that kind of protects it. Let’s break that! With water: yeazza! Varnish, nail polish, Chinese plastics, bakelite, vinyl, new car, wax tablecloths… and bananas. Phew. Mouth (neat): hugely petroly and floral at the same time. That’s Savanna’s thing, you won’t find this combination anywhere else. Brine, tar, lime, orange blossom, pine wood, ink, and litres of diesel oil. Indeed this is not unlike drinking diesel oil – I imagine. With water: more fruitiness, bananas, mangos, dried litchis and longans, rambutans… and plastics again. Plus a lot of salty liquorice, more and more of that. Crazy rum. Finish: long, a tad bitter and tarry, petroly, tarmacky (!), with some oak spices in the aftertaste… Comments: Savanna is extreme. It’s the Jamaican of the Indian ocean (thanks Bertrand), I would say, but it’s got its singularities, especially this floral side. Très bon.
SGP:453 - 87 points.

And a last one…

Worthy Park 10 yo 2008/2019 (59.5%, Thompson Bros., Jamaica, 245 bottles)

Worthy Park 10 yo 2008/2019 (59.5%, Thompson Bros., Jamaica, 245 bottles) Four stars
Whether this was aged in Jamaica or in Glasgow is their problem. Colour: gold. Nose: oh, tarry asparagus and fresh butter and watercress! And several kinds of green olives! I totally love this nose so far, it’s so pure, so well-delimited, so brilliantly carved out! Nothing to add, let’s go on… With water: yup. Feels young at 10, so probably Scottish aging, but the end result works. Lemon blossom, lavender, rosewood, violet sweets… Mouth (neat): amazing. Teak oil, liquorice, black pepper, smoke, black olives, tabasco, Worcester sauce, vanillin, marshmallows… Indeed it is a tad unlikely at times (olives and marshmallows, right) but that may be because of the very high strength, let us see. With water: all is well in the best of worlds. Lavender, liquorice, smoked meats, olives, violet sweets. Violettes de Toulouse. By the way, when I mention lavender or violets, that’s got nothing to do with the very ugly puke-y Bowmores from the 1980s, or I would tell you. Finish: long, but it loses points because of some vanilla from the oak that’s a little unnecessary, I would say. Feels like some young American rye here and there, but no worries at all, it’s great, great rum. Spicier aftertaste. Comments: yup (is that all, S.?)
SGP:462 - 87 points.

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

 

May 4, 2019


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Oddities from William Grant
A short one today, two unusual things from Glenfiddich and ‘Balvenie’. 

 

Glenfiddich Vintage Cask ‘Solera Vat No 3’ (40%, OB, 2018)

Glenfiddich Vintage Cask ‘Solera Vat No 3’ (40%, OB, 2018)
A duty free bottling I believe. A quick rummage through the internet reveals this officially sanctioned gathering of words about this product: “Hand selected casks of peaty malts matured in European and bourbon vintage casks are married in the Cask Collection Solera Vat No.3 for a luxuriously smoky, intense and velvety whisky.” Nope, me neither. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s certainly peaty and it actually noses rather nicely. All on sooty hearths, medical embrocations, seawater, bandages, ointments and wee hints of caraway and fennel. Pretty pleasant really. Dig a little deeper and there’s gentian root, dried herbs, earth and hummus. Moving away from the shoreline to the farmyard. Some graphite and pencil shavings peep around the corner. Mouth: Hmmm, things fall apart rather quickly here. Lots of stale cardboard, sawdust, some medicine, flat cola and wood glue. Also just feels rather empty in the middle of the palate. A big sink hole has opened up where there should be flavour. Some plasticine and hints of something like floor cleaner. In time a little plain peat begins to resurge, but its not enough to save it. Finish: Hello? A lick of smoke and something slightly sour and not much else. Comments: I liked the nose but it’s all downhill from there. Now, it’s not actively horrid - just devoid of soul.  
SGP: 633 - 70 points.

 

 

Burnside 26 yo 1991/2018 (45.4%, A.D. Rattray, cask #7379, bourbon barrel)

Burnside 26 yo 1991/2018 (45.4%, A.D. Rattray, cask #7379, bourbon barrel)
As we all know, Burnside is Balvenie teaspooned with Glenfiddich. Colour: straw. Nose: another galaxy entirely from that silly Glenfiddich thing. This is all on green and garden fruits, custard, honey, golden syrup, figs and quince jelly. The kind of fruity, lush and seductive mid-age Speyside profile that nobody can be against. There’s also buttery toast, cereals and muesli studded with sultanas and dates. A tiny hint of grass and fresh herbs as well. The definition of ‘easy’ in malt whisky. Mouth: a tad extractive on delivery. There’s a sense of it being a little too long in the wood with these light notes of bitter almonds, white pepper and oak. However, there also some residual greenery and fruit still hanging around. Enough to keep things in check. Some green apple, pear eau de vie, yellow plums, elderflower cordial. In fact the fruits pick up the pace over time and it begins to recover nicely. The oak still nibbles a tad too much but the balance is swinging back ther other way now. More syrups and wood spices over time. Finish: medium and back to garden fruits such as gooseberry, plum and apple. Also some white flowers, pollen and sandalwood. Comments: there’s quite a few of these very good early 1990s Burnsides kicking about, while this isn’t my favourite it’s still a good example of the style and goes down very easily. 
SGP: 641 - 85 points. 

 

 

 

 

May 3, 2019


Whiskyfun

Little trios, today Glenturret ex-sherry hogshead

Glenturret’s always fun. The distillery’s just been bought by the Swiss owners of Alsatian crystal makers Lalique. If you ever come to Alsace, I would urge you to go have dinner or lunch at the Villa Lalique in Wingen-sur-Moder. A stunning restaurant, believe me! By the way, they always had strong ties with Macallan, so an Edrington-Lalique (or Sylvio Dentz) deal around Glenturret really made sense. Can’t wait to try a truffle cappuccino enhanced with a few drops of 40yo Glenturret!

Glenturret 12 yo 2006/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill sherry hogshead, cask # 12759, 389 bottles)

Glenturret 12 yo 2006/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill sherry hogshead, cask # 12759, 389 bottles) Three stars and a half
A good outturn from a hoggy. Colour: dark gold. Nose: oh how we remember the old musty and almost mouldy Glenturrets here! You’ve got notes of old gingerbread, molasses, rubber bands, garden earth, roasted chestnuts, game, caramel cream, perhaps hints of Marmite and Viandox/Bovril, moist cigars, umami, treacle toffee… Shan’t we call this baby an ‘adventurous malt?’ Mouth: imagine some kind of cocktail made out of earth, roasted walnuts and pecans, Maggi sauce, Bovril, corn syrup, ink, concentrated molasses, bitter caramel, cured ham, walnut wine, Chartreuse and tar liqueur, coffee… Indeed, all that, but it screams and whistles like the Sun Ra Arkestra. So, rather loco. Finish: rather long, more chocolaty and coffeeish. Kaffee-Schnaps and raisins. Comments: more proof that there’s no other malt like Glenturret.
SGP:562 - 83 points.

Glenturret 14 yo 2004/2018 (55.1%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice for The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry hogshead, cask #18/083, 296 bottles)

Glenturret 14 yo 2004/2018 (55.1%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice for The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry hogshead, cask #18/083, 296 bottles) Four stars
Yes, well spotted, this is another sherry hogshead. Colour: office coffee. Nose: office coffee. No, really, this one’s rather better civilised than the DL, but it’s got these unusual Glenturret notes, such as molasses and old books and magazines, engine oil, cigars, chocolate, coffee indeed, roasted chestnuts, ham, even sausages (rosette de Lyon, do you happen to know that?), hints of truffles, exhaust fumes… With water: totally raw chocolate, with perhaps a little stout. I remember Mackeson when I used to have some in the 1980s… When in Scotland, naturally. Mouth (neat): it’s typical, and yet more approachable than the 12. What’s sure is that it’s almost exclusively on raw coffee and raw chocolate. And damson eau-de-vie, zwetschke, vieille prune… With water: Armagnac? Chocolate and coffee for sure, this would put Starbucks to shame. Finish: long, with some black currants, Corinth-style. Comments: it was a good conversationalist. As I may have said before, Glenturret’s always fun.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Didn’t we say this would be a trio?

Glenturret 31 yo 1986/2018 (44.5%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, sherry hogshead, 210 bottles)

Glenturret 31 yo 1986/2018 (44.5%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, sherry hogshead, 210 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: deep gold. Nose: whenever honey’s involved I would just melt, honest. And in this case that would be chestnut honey, my all-time favourite honey within the whole world of honeys de la muerte. To think that this baby was only finished in sherry, since June 2015. More seriously, it’s actually a cleaner Glenturret, but it’s got this typical umami thing that can be so lovable. That’s right, glutamate. Also dried dates, figs, raisins, and… Mars bars. No, not deep-fried ones. Mouth: pretty fantastic. It is ‘different’ malt whisky, but it’s still on the tracks, with this perfect honeyness, these wee touches of salt and oxtail soup, these black raisins, these touches of Madeira and old Banyuls… In truth it’s also got quite some old rancio, which could impress quite some cognac brands. Finish: long, stewed and raisiny, with a very faint rubbery note in the aftertaste, which will make this baby miss the 90-mark. It’s called tough love, my friend. Comments: was that really only a finishing? Pretty splendid…
SGP:451 - 89 points.

Last minute bonus…

Glenturret 23 yo (50.7%, Artful Dodger Whisky Collective, cask #618)

Glenturret 23 yo (50.7%, Artful Dodger Whisky Collective, cask #618)
Looks like this was a PX octave, but that does not obligatorily suggest some kind of double punishment. Colour: gold. Nose: very amusing. Bacon and pineapple juice, sultanas, ham and prunes, drops of miso soup, whiffs of old copper coins, ideas of exhaust fumes… In a way, it’s a kind of freshly repainted Glenturret, but no worries so far. With water: some metallic earthiness, very unusual. And funny. Mouth (neat): the strangest whisky I’ve encountered this year. And last year. And the year before. Sour cream and pepper, corn syrup, bitter herbs, walnut stain, burnt artichoke, haggis, new plastic. Not too sure. With water: no. Burnt thyme and rosemary, very bitter herbs, the strangest ginger tonic, dry martini, Scotch tape, glue, etc. Finish: long, really bitter. Burnt caramel galore. Comments: I do not like this Sharknado of malt whisky, but remember some folks just fell in love with the Sharknado series. Some very funny second-degree whisky, shall we say, you should try to try it. Patches? Nails? PS: could be that my sample was tainted with Scotch tape so please take this with a grain of salt.
SGP:272 - no score (temporarily).

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

 

May 2, 2019


Whiskyfun

Three ex-refill sherry Coleburn

Frankly, I’d have never thought we could do another Coleburn session, especially not one that would involve a brand new bottling. Some proper whisky buffs may remember Coleburn Distillery used to belong to Clynelish (yes) before Scottish Malt Distillers would start to take care of both, on behalf of the mighty DCL (always use ‘mighty’ when quoting the DCL). Coleburn was closed in 1985 but I don’t think I’ve ever tried one that was distilled in 1984 or 1985.

Coleburn
Coleburn circa 1934
(D.C.L. Gazette, Diageo Archives)

Coleburn 1981/2008 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogshead)

Coleburn 1981/2008 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogshead) Four stars and a half
Some 1965 under the old brown banner label had been very good in my book, but a 1972 under the ‘new map label’ was rather more unlikely (which my compadres the MMs had agreed upon). Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s got this very rieslingesque profile that we’ve seen before, with bags of lemons, limestone, and bitter herbs or cactus, as well as some shoe polish. Alternatively, you could believe it’s some very tense Pouilly-Fumé. Very unmodern, and naturally, very lovely (as a consequence). No vulgar oak or wine in sight. Mouth: sure the lower strength is a tad problematic, but the same-ish sauvignony profile works just beautifully. Citrus peel, wax (did they borrow Clynelish’s cast iron receiver?) and something such as rhubarb juice. Lime, green pepper, and no sherry. Probably re-re-refill… Finish: not too long, but dry, waxy (shoe polish), citrusy and very grassy, almost bitter towards the aftertaste. Comments: some old style fat and grassy make, certainly not for our sweeter times - and for modern palates, although I agree that’s a little discriminatory.
SGP:362 - 88 points.

More moderate refill sherry please…

Coleburn 25 yo 1980/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill butt, cask #2128, 661 bottles)

Coleburn 25 yo 1980/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill butt, cask #2128, 661 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: this is the G&M CC at the power of two. More mineral wax, brake fluid, huge paraffin, lemon skin, also some mashed potatoes, or rather turnips, or even carrots… Then a little smoky humus and dried mushrooms. Say porcinis. Some dill and fennel too. With water: a little medicinal, and kind of muddy. A country doctor’s old Land Rover (ha-ha) and a handful of grist. Mouth (neat): a lovely almost pastis-like arrival, very tense yet again, then a development rather on absinth and even chartreuse. Also lime juice, grass, and wax. Impeccably dry. With water: reminds you that you’ve got a spine, with a kind of very grassy acidity that’s not often to be encountered in malt whisky. Certainly not in modern malt whisky. Bone-dry petroly riesling. Finish: long, very dry, bitter, acidic and grassy. Count your vertebras. Comments: one green baby!
SGP:372 - 89 points.

And the new one…

Coleburn 38 yo 1981/2019 (55.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry hogshead, cask #476, 101 bottles)

Coleburn 38 yo 1981/2019 (55.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry hogshead, cask #476, 101 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one comes in a beautiful Gatsby-y decanter. Hope it’s not gotten too woody… Colour: bronze gold. When spirits got bronze-ish, or even greenish, that sometimes suggests some nails or patches have been in use. Or that a copper dog fell into the cask ;-). Nose: it’s different, less bright than the younger ones, but also more complex, with beautiful whiffs of old walnuts, manzanilla, marmalade, wormwood, caraway, aniseed cookies, and perhaps German all-grain breads. Beyond this very fino-ish character, some tamarind and some pretty umami-esque chen-pi (aged dried tangerine skins). With water: old leather couches and new cigars, plus some crude chocolate. And walnuts, naturally. Mouth (neat): some very spicy, almost curry-like oak at first, loaded with cinnamon and nutmeg. Then walnut skin liqueur (nocino) and some bitter artichoke cordial. Indeed, the oak’s very talkative here, but let’s see what happens once water’s been added. With water: imagine a cocktail made out of ¼ nocino, ¼ grapefruit juice, and ½ manzanilla. Shake well. Good news, the oak remained well-mannered, but indeed it is oaky, you feel it more in your throat. Finish: medium, drying. Cocoa powder, tobacco, mocha ristretto. Comments: perhaps not exactly as glorious as the stupendous old Caol Ila in the same new series, but we keep flying high indeed.
SGP:372 - 89 points.

(molto thanks to Andy and the Burlet Bros.)

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

 

May 1, 2019


Whiskyfun
Whiskyfun fav of the month

April 2019

Serge's favourite recent bottling:
Port Ellen 35 yo 1982/2018 (55.1%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry butt, cask #2040, 567 bottles) - WF 93

Serge's favourite older bottling:
Highland Park 8 yo (100° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 26 2/3 FL.OZS, mid 1970s) - WF 93

Serge's favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Highland Park 10 yo ‘Viking Scars’ (40%, OB, +/-2018) - WF 90

Serge's favourite malternative:
Hampden Estate 17 yo 2001/2018 ‘Secret Cask’ (61.3%, Ramseyer’s, Jamaica, 380 bottles)  - WF 93


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