Google Whisky Fun by Malt Maniacs' Serge - Blog about Single Malt Scotch Whisky and Music
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Tasting notes:
Whisky 10,105
Others 614

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (32) - Aberlour (79)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (
25)
An Cnoc (
18)
Ardbeg (
324) - Ardmore (60)
Arran (
62) - Auchentoshan (69)
Auchroisk (
26) - Aultmore (29)
Balblair (61) - Balmenach (31)
Balvenie (
73) - Banff (43)
Ben Nevis (
85)
Ben Wyvis (
2)
Benriach (
126) - Benrinnes (43)
Benromach (
37) - Bladnoch (54)
Blair Athol (40) - Bowmore (
346)
Braes of Glenlivet (
28)
Brora (
115)
Bruichladdich (203)
Bunnahabhain (
219)
Caol Ila (389)
Caperdonich (
73)
Cardhu (
31) - Clynelish (265)
Coleburn (
15)
Convalmore (1
8)
Cragganmore (
55)
Craigduff (3) - Craigellachie (
40)
Dailuaine (44) - Dallas Dhu (32)
Dalmore (82) - Dalwhinnie (19)
Deanston (19) - Dufftown (41)

Edradour (37)
Imperial (56) - Inchgower (40)
Inverleven (18)
Isle of Jura (82)

Kilchoman (19) - Kinclaith (7)
Kininvie
(2)
- Knockando (2
4)
Ladyburn (9) - Lagavulin (91)
Laphroaig (300) - Ledaig (73)
Linkwood (98) - Littlemill (79)
Loch Lomond (26)
Lochside (62)
Longmorn (172) - Longrow (52)

Macallan (228) - Macduff (51)
Mannochmore (2
5)
Millburn (1
9)
Miltonduff (
52) - Mortlach (111)
Mosstowie (1
7)
Scapa (34) - Speyburn (22) - Speyside (15)
Springbank (
220)
St-Magdalene (
43)
Strathisla (
80) - Strathmill (24)

Talisker (103) - Tamdhu (45)
Tamnavulin (
14)
Teaninich (
40)
Tobermory (
28) - Tomatin (98)
Tomintoul (
55) - Tormore (33)
Tullibardine (
35)
 
 
Pete and Jack


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No archives for 2002-2003

 
Malt maniacs goodies
 

Othe whisky stuff
 

Brora

The Magical History
of the Great
Brora Distillery
1969 - 1983

   


 

Ye Auld Pages
that used to be here

   

 

 



Disclaimer
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin,
Nick Morgan,
Kate Kavanagh

2002-2014


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November 1, 2014


Whiskyfun
Whiskyfun fav of the month

October 2014

Favourite recent bottling:
The Nikka 40 yo (43%, OB, blend, 700 decanters, 2014) - WF 93

Favourite older bottling:
Jura 20 yo 1966/1986 (86 US Proof, Duthie for Corti Brothers Sacramento) - WF 93

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2014' (54.4%, OB, 31428 bottles)  - WF 92

Favourite malternative:
Domaine de Courcelles 1972/2014 (54%, Rhumhouse Switzerland, Guadeloupe) - WF 91

 

October 31, 2014


Whiskyfun

The Caol Ila Days, part two.
The high flyers.

No twaddle today, onto the whiskies!… And that’ll be only older ones…

Caol Ila 1982/2014 ‘Smoke on the Water’ (46%, Wemyss Malt, hogshead, 255 bottles)

Caol Ila 1982/2014 ‘Smoke on the Water’ (46%, Wemyss Malt, hogshead, 255 bottles) Five stars I‘m not sure Wemyss are the first to nickname a peater ‘smoke on the water’. One must take risks! (But they may have chosen this name at… around 4 in the morning, while listening to Ian Gillan and gang.) Colour: pale gold. Nose: these whiskies are evident, they do not need to argue, you cannot do anything against them. Magnificently elegant, very racy, superbly balanced. Seashells, fresh walnuts, small lemons, almond oil, pu-erh tea, brine, fresh butter. Perfect combo at an oh-so approachable strength. Mouth: oh my how good this is! Again, the strength is perfect (cask strength is not always the best choice, in my opinion), and the flavours, the flavours! Olive brine, lemon juice, two anchovies and one sardine, cigar smoke, green apples, oysters, one drop of cough syrup, a little grapefruit… Coal Ila ages wonderfully and gracefully, and this is just another proof. It’s just like that American actress in House of Cards, Robin Wright. Please excuse me. Isn’t she American? Finish: medium length, super, briny, ashy, lemony and smooth at the same time. Comments: £120 a bottle. You read that right. Google is your friend, we don’t do smelly affiliation. SGP:467 - 92 points.

Caol Ila 33 yo 1979/2012 (52,7%, Maltbarn, bourbon) Lovely label, don’t you think? They’re all pictures of the owner’s farm in Germany. Colour: straw. Nose: these 1979s are a little more buttery, and more ashy/coastal at the same time. I find a lot of hessian, whiffs of old coal oven, certainly some lapsang souchong, ashes, scoria, old house basement… Not a sexy one, but I know some lovers of this austere style. With water: more ashes, more gravel, whiffs of ink (say blue – oh Serge!) Mouth (neat): great, but less ‘evident’ than the highly drinkable Wemyss. Earth and ashes, then green apples and lemons, then salted fish. Mackerel? Rollmops? With water: ink again, cigar ashes, salted almonds, kippers… Finish: medium length, salty and briny. Comments: another version of Caol Ila, all on coastal and briny notes. And on ashes. Some enthusiasts may find it a little dry, but I don’t.  SGP:367 - 90 points.

Caol Ila 33 yo 1979/2012 (52,7%, Maltbarn, bourbon) Five stars Lovely label, don’t you think? They’re all pictures of the owner’s farm in Germany. Colour: straw. Nose: these 1979s are a little more buttery, and more ashy/coastal at the same time. I find a lot of hessian, whiffs of old coal oven, certainly some lapsang souchong, ashes, scoria, old house basement… Not a sexy one, but I know some lovers of this austere style. With water: more ashes, more gravel, whiffs of ink (say blue – oh Serge!) Mouth (neat): great, but less ‘evident’ than the highly drinkable Wemyss. Earth and ashes, then green apples and lemons, then salted fish. Mackerel? Rollmops? With water: ink again, cigar ashes, salted almonds, kippers… Finish: medium length, salty and briny. Comments: another version of Caol Ila, all on coastal and briny notes. And on ashes. Some enthusiasts may find it a little dry, but I don’t.  SGP:367 - 90 points.

Caol Ila 30 yo 1983/2014 (55.1%, OB, Special Release, 7638 bottles)

Caol Ila 30 yo 1983/2014 (55.1%, OB, Special Release, 7638 bottles) Five stars Seven thousand six hundred and thirty eight bottles! Colour: gold. Nose: this is different. There’s some toasted oak, there is some coffee, there’s some charcoal, and there’s a very distant and almost elusive Caol-Ila-ness, which comes unexpected from the owners. What I also get, mostly, is a wonderful artisan cider, like they make in the best parts of Normandy. And old cigars (advance warning, that’s always a good sign). With water: it’s smoked cider of the highest order. I find it intriguing that Diageo’s First Nose(s) would have come up with such a profile. Mouth (neat): sweet Vishnu! This is implacable, sharp, acrid, oaky in a good way, mercurochromy spirit from Islay. Much bigger, powerful, and almost aggressive than expected. I even find it a little dangerous. With water: oh lovely. Smoother, gentler, civilised. Smoke and rosehips, I’d say. Finish: long, and earthy, and great. It strikes back. Comments: more a fight than a tasting. This aggressive old baby stands up to the taster. I’m bowing to the ground (of course not, they can…) SGP:357 - 92 points.

You say 1983…

Caol Ila 31 yo 1983/2014 (58.7%, Silver Seal, cask #1553, 175 bottles)

Caol Ila 31 yo 1983/2014 (58.7%, Silver Seal, cask #1553, 175 bottles) Four stars and a half Apparently, the terracotta army of Qin Shi Huang used to quaff Caol Ila – according to this label. Wait, Caol Ila, doesn’t that sound a bit Chinese? Anyway, I’ve visited this place – I mean, Xi’an – and it’s utterly fabulous. Highly recommended. No this isn’t Lonely Planet dot com. Colour: gold. Nose: high strength, short nose. That’s the case here, this is a little silent. Green cigars, seaweed, cardboard, old magazines … Quick… with water: not a ‘nosing’ Caol Ila, apparently. I’ve tried to make the best use of my pipette, to no success. I’m sure it’s my VIttel. Mouth (neat): oh sweet Vishnu, this is pure cough syrup. Vicks Vaporub and crème de menthe. This old baby is extremely big, and dangerous. With water: this should be streng verboten. I mean, severamente vietato. It’s starting to become approachable at around 20% vol. Cough, cough… Finish: long, kippery, extremely mentholated, sharply lemony. Comments: a monster, a monster! Very hard to score. I’m not sure it’s legal whisky anyway. SGP:378 – more or less around 88 points, depending on your mood.

Phew, this is one of the most challenging sessions I’ve ever done. Caol Ila’s usually seen as ‘a gentle peater’ but there are so many exceptions! In truth, we should stop this madness just now, but how could we resist the opportunity to try another pre-rebuilding Caol Ila?

Caol Ila 1967/1983 (92 US Proof, Duthie for Narsai’s Restaurant & Corti Brothers, imported by Pellegrini, South San Francisco, 75 cl)

Caol Ila 1967/1983 (92 US Proof, Duthie for Narsai’s Restaurant & Corti Brothers, imported by Pellegrini, South San Francisco, 75 cl) Five stars Aaaawwww… Old Coal Ila is very rare. You had the official white and yellow labels, you had the golden jug, you had a few G&Ms, you had two or three black dumpies by Cadenhead… And that’s pretty all. But indeed, this is Cadenhead stock. Oh and some used to say that old Caol Ila was better than both old Laphroaig and old Ardbeg. Colour: straw. Nose: let’s be honest, it’s having a little trouble after the monstrous 1983s. This is one charming old lady talking after a gang of cheerleaders on acid. Old newspapers, artisan gherkins in brine, old wardrobe, 50 years old riesling, ‘visiting and old printing house’, old fur coat, old garage, old shoe polish… Indeed this noses ‘old’. No I haven’t written ‘tired’, it’s just a little shy. Certainly more on all things briny than the post-rebuilding CIs. Mouth: oh wait, no no no! This is vibrant, lively, sharp, and pretty much alive! It’s rather herbal, I’d say, with some absinth, genepy, other weirdish herbal liqueurs and spirits, a lot of aniseed, then oils and tart green fruits. Limes aplenty, then smoked salmon, smoked haddock and, yes, caviar. Caviar in a bottle! Smoked caviar, that is, also a little lard. Myrtle and juniper at the spice department. Finish: long, with smoked fish and herbal liqueurs. Amazing retro-olfaction on old Bénédictine. Comments: the nose was worth approx 86-87 in my book, while the palate’s more towards 95. But what’s more important, nose or palate? We may need some kind of capital key weightings… Oh forget! SGP:466 - 93 points.

PSSST, I’ve just checked that that was our 400th tasting note for a Caol Ila.

(with kisses and hugs to Diego and Max)

 

 

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October 30, 2014


Whiskyfun

The Caol Ila Days, part one

The highly reliable, big fat distillery with an elegant style has already granted us with many glorious malts and thanks to both the owners and the indies, there’s still plenty of new expressions to taste these days. We’ll try to go ‘deep’ today, but we may need several days to go through the 20-30 versions that are sitting on my tasting desk. We’ll see… As for the line-up, we’ll try to follow our inspiration.

Caol Ila 18 yo (43%, OB, +/-2014)

Caol Ila 18 yo (43%, OB, +/-2014) Four starsWould you imagine that last time I tried this neat 18 yo, that was in 2007! I feel shame… Colour: gold. Nose: oh this is subtle, mellow, complex and yet ‘focused’, with whiffs of copper (maybe that’s because I’ve just pictured the stills in my mind while writing the lousy intro), a working kiln, a light brine, fresh butter and then wet bark, a little moss, cider apples and just a little toffee. I guess you could describe this as ‘fresh and elegant.’ It’s only mildly smoky. Mouth: there, the citrus fruits that were missing in the nose. Orange juice and brine with the smallest kippers and then some apple juice and a wee metallic touch again. Still very elegant, rather fruitier and softer than other Caol Ilas. Finish: medium length. Rather lemon than oranges, a little smoked tea. Comments: it’s gentle indeed, complex, well-mannered Islay. Probably and excellent introduction to the peated Islays, especially for wine freaks methinks. SGP:555 (how balanced is that) - 87 points.

Caol Ila 1995/2011 (46%, Moon Import, cask #9810, 348 bottles)

Caol Ila 1995/2011 (46%, Moon Import, cask #9810, 348 bottles) Five stars That’s right, not a new bottling but it’s still available here and there – maybe because it’s quite expensive. Colour: straw. Nose: starts more buttery than the official 18, fatter, with more vanilla and a mixture of quinces and citrons. Then it’s more camphor and antiseptic, oysters, seaweed, brine, hessian and all that. Coastal? You bet. Mouth: perfect. I mean, it’s a bit early to have the perfect ones within the flight but 1. They may well all be perfect and 2. I do not control this sort of thing. Great minerality, sharpy lemons, green tea, smoke, kippers… And a pretty fat mouth feel, which works very well here. Finish: long and more bitter, which is always welcome in my book. Lemon skin. Peppery spices in the aftertaste. Comments: bang! SGP:467 - 90 points.

While we’re in Italy…

Caol Ila 16 yo 1995/2011 (46%, High Spirits, Colours Collection)

Caol Ila 16 yo 1995/2011 (46%, High Spirits, Colours Collection) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: different. Steelier, with much more seawater, and rather less fruits and smoke. Some overripe rhubarb (as far as rhubarb can be ripe), stewed fruits… This is pretty unusual for Caol Ila, let’s check the palate… Maybe also a little mint, or rather mint liqueur. Crème de Menthe. Noses a notch sour. Mouth: not at all, this is funny, it’s now very close to the Moon (so to speak). Same nervous, peppery, lemony style, maybe a tad bitterer in fact. Very good body. Finish: indeed, it’s bitter and even acrid, but that’s not a problem at all with these profiles. Keeps your palate clean. Bitter almonds in the aftertaste. Comments: not 100% sure about the nose, but the palate was great. High quality anyway. SGP:457 - 85 points.

And now the new unpeated…

Caol Ila 15 yo 1998/2014 ‘Unpeated Style’ (60.3%, OB, Special Release, 10668 bottles)

Caol Ila 15 yo 1998/2014 ‘Unpeated Style’ (60.3%, OB, Special Release, 10668 bottles)  Two stars and a half I’ve never been the biggest fan of these versions. Colour: pale gold. Nose: vanilla and marshmallows. Marshmallows and vanilla. Not grain whisky ex-first fill American oak, but that’s the nearest style in my opinion. With water: shuts it down. How bizarre… A little raw barley, but that’s almost it. Mouth (neat): ultra-sweet hyperbolic vanilla and jelly babies. With water: very sweet indeed, with a little more fruit. Peaches, perhaps, barley water. A (much) simpler Balblair, I’d say. Finish: not too long, very sweet, narrow. Comments: probably a bottling that I simply do not understand. It’s me, I’m sure. But in a way, it’s flawless. BTW, I found much less peat than in earlier versions. SGP:631 - 78 points.

I’ve got an idea (oh, no), let’s have a peater at a similar strength…

Caol Ila 18 yo 1996/2014 (62.2%, Speciality Drinks, Masterpieces, hogshead, 299 bottles)

Caol Ila 18 yo 1996/2014 (62.2%, Speciality Drinks, Masterpieces, hogshead, 299 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: it’s not hugely expressive, but that’s normal at 62.2% vol. It seems that its great, yes it seems so, but… With water: oh yes, an immaculate, uncomplicated, straightforward nose. Peat smoke, menthol, lemon juice, iodine. That’s all, folks, but the proportions are exactly right. Mouth (neat): oh Mephistopheles, why have you poured such strong whisky into my glass!? Seriously, its ultra-sweet, but that may well be the very high strength. So… With water: more than perfect. Hyper-sharp, ultra-precise and concise Caol Ila. Finish: long, ultra-sharp, but the aftertaste is a tad fatter. Smoked butter? Comments: a dilemma. It’s perfect, so it deserves 90 in my book, but it’s also a tad too simple, let’s not exaggerate and overrate sharpness/cleanliness. But it’s great. But it’s simple. But it’s great. And yet it’s simple… SGP:467 - 89 points.

While we’re in swinging London…

CI7 (58.5%, Speciality Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2014)

CI7 (58.5%, Speciality Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2014) Five stars Another brand new one. Colour: straw. Nose: noses younger, sweeter, rounder, also more mature at the same time (like kids, whisky can be mature wile young, and conversely) – which is still a little bizarre, isn’t it. It seems to be a more civilised CI, while I remember CI6 was more brutal. Seawater, hessian, creosote, whelks, fresh walnuts, beach sand. With water: standing on the pier at the Distillery. Mouth (neat): love this. It’s a tad more medicinal and herbal than the ‘masterpiece’. More mercurochrome. What a perfect spirit! With water: a blade. Plus earth and roots. Love roots. Finish: ultra-long, earthy. Love earth. Comments: I’m sure I could spend hours around a table chatting with the great people from The Whisky Exchange, debating this crucial issue: between the 1996 and the CI7, which is best? And we’d drink all the stock in the meantime… SGP:368 - 90 points.

Good, that’s six CIs, we’ll have more next time. Especially older ones…

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

 

 

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October 29, 2014


Whiskyfun

Drum roll please,
a short verticale of Glen Spey!

Yeah yeah yeah! I’m almost as happy as if I had managed to build a Malt Mill vs. Stromness session, since Glen Spey remains so rare these days. Granted, there’s maybe not much to expect, but as I’m trying hard to taste whiskies from all and every distilleries, well, I believe it’s quite an achievement to gather three different – and relatively new – bottlings of Glen Spey. Hurray! (S., you bighead!)

Glen Spey 12 yo 2000/2013 (46%, Orcines)

Glen Spey 12 yo 2000/2013 (46%, Orcines) Three stars and a half Orcines is a new series by The Whisky Lodge in Lyon, France. I haven’t got a picture of the Glen Spey yet, so I’ve put one of a Mortlach, they’re almost identical. Colour: straw. Nose: pretty mineral, almost steely, with linseed oil and a touch of caraway. It’s a very ‘natural’ profile, well balanced, clean, becoming a little earthier over time, with also a little aniseed that blends well with the caraway. I cannot not think of some good aquavit, or even of tequila blanco from a good house such as Siete Leguas. Mouth: perfect! Sure it’s uncomplicated and probably even a little simple, but everything’s there, from ripe apples to the same notes of caraway as in the nose and from gingerbread to dried apricots. It was a good cask. Good body and pleasant freshness. Finish: quite long, spicy, earthier, easy. Notes of anis bredala in the aftertaste – yup that’s Alsatian stuff (aniseed cookies). Comments: nothing to complain about, quite the contrary. Sometimes simple and clean malts really make it. Well selected, Orcines! SGP:551 - 83 points.

Glen Spey 13 yo 1998/2011 (46%, Milroy's, hogshead, cask #2617, 349 bottles)

Glen Spey 13 yo 1998/2011 (46%, Milroy's, hogshead, cask #2617, 349 bottles) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: a little bizarre. I find vegetables, French beans, turnips, then whiffs of yoghurt, mashed potatoes and, yes, tinned sardines. And more and more brine. Fun stuff, probably not semantically perfect, and maybe even flawed, but yeah, it’s fun. Unless… Mouth: no, it’s nice. Sardines and apples go well together, don’t they. A very funny bottle, I don’t think it’s flawed, and this very briny side makes it even funnier – when you know where Glen Spey is located, that is to say more or less between Glen Grant and Glentauchers. We’re not exactly ‘on the sea’, are we? Finish: of medium length, still quite salty and a little bready. Comments: this is a great session! SGP:451 - 81 points.

Glen Spey 25 yo 1988/2014 (49.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #356077, 192 bottles)

Glen Spey 25 yo 1988/2014 (49.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #356077, 192 bottles) Four stars and a half Twenty five years of age, let’s hope we’re approaching the very high quality of the official 21/1989 Special Release that was bottled four years ago. Colour: straw. Nose: we’re much closer to the Orcines, with these steely and mineral notes at first nosing. Linseed and graphite oils, paraffin, ink, grass, soot, gravel, walnut skin, moss… I like austerity, but let’s try water: my beloved walk in a forest with moss, fern, humus and mushrooms all round you. And a little fresh wood, naturally. Mouth (neat): sharp, narrow, clean and grassy. I have to say it reminds me a bit of Zubrovska at first sips, but then the citrusy side grows bigger, with plenty of lemon juice. And angelica? With water: perfect! More moss, mushrooms, mint, grass, rocket salad, or ruccola, these sorts of things. Finish: long, clean, greatly grassy. Not all grassy whiskies are great, but this one is just perfect. Comments: almost 90-material in my book. But it’s really not ‘wide’ whisky, so… SGP:361 - 89 points (and water is obligatory IMHO, while the relatively low strength may lead you to have it only straight – big mistake!)

Phew! Next Glen Spey verticale, March 15, 2027. Unless someone buys 25 casks and scatters them all over Europe. Stay tuned ;-).

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

 
Breaking news (well), Pete & Jack have just been redrawn by my son Arthur. Only subtle changes, but Pete has now got eyebrows!
Pete McPeat and Jack Washback
PJ

PJ

 

 

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October 28, 2014


Whiskyfun

A bunch of mad unofficial Irish

Quite a few casks of ‘probable undisclosed Bushmills’ have made an appearance lately. Let’s have a wee selection, but first, a blend.

Teeling Whiskey (46%, OB, Irish blend, 2013)

Teeling Whiskey (46%, OB, Irish blend, 2013) Three stars A blend that’s been finished in rum casks. I had found Teeling’s 21yo malt quite brilliant (WF 88). Colour: white wine. Nose: very fruity, as expected. A fruit salad covered with custard and a dash of white pepper. Now it’s no fruit bomb, and many Irish are even fruitier in my book, but it’s clean and easy. Goes more toward apple juice after a short while. Mouth: creamy and fruity, I guess the proportions of malt are quite high. Vanilla again, Provence melon, this apple juice, ripe apples, two slices of banana, three slices of tinned pineapple… All that is a easy as whisky can be. I don’t quite get the rum, I guess it’s mingled. Finish: short but clean and fruity, on the same fruity notes. A little honey. Comments: an Irish blend for Irish malt drinkers, I’d say. We’re not that far from pure pot still either. SGP:641 - 82 points.

Ireland 22 yo 1991/2014 (46.6%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams and La Maison du Whisky)

Ireland 22 yo 1991/2014 (46.6%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams and La Maison du Whisky) Four starsThis one by the extremely reliable and superlatively courteous people at The Nectar, Belgium. Colour: white wine. Nose: a fruit salad. Mangos, bananas, pineapples, papayas, then rather blackcurrant and blackberries. You may add a little lime blossom and honeysuckle and only then, a touch of oak. Extremely seductive, this is whiskey for all ages. Wait… Mouth: pure fruit juice. Multi-vitamins, of course. Then rather liquorice allsorts, a little cranberry juice, maybe pomegranates. Creamy, rich, yet tart mouth feel. Goes down too easily. Finish: quite long, extremely fresh, on some kind of blend of grapefruit and citron liqueurs. Comments: it’s hard to find anything bad to say against this one. It’s extremely sexy whisky. SGP:751 - 87 points.

Irish Single Malt 22 yo 1991/2013 (52.4%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, refill barrel, 191 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 22 yo 1991/2013 (52.4%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, refill barrel, 191 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: same whisky, just bigger and a tad more spirity/varnishy because of the higher strength. With water: grassier, sharper, more sauvignony, a little less ‘Bushmills’. Maybe more profound as well. Mouth (neat): same style once again but this is zestier when unreduced, greener, much more on lime and lemon than the ueberfruity Nectar. With water: both converge now, but this one remains less creamy and rather greener. Finish: quite long, and now frankly… similar. Almost identical. Comments: I think I liked this one a wee tad better because it was a little more challenging, but that’s not enough to come up with a different score. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Ireland 24 yo 1989/2014 (42.2%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams and La Maison du Whisky)

Ireland 24 yo 1989/2014 (42.2%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams and La Maison du Whisky) Four starsFrom a rum cask, apparently. Colour: straw. Nose: this is different. Wilder, more varnishy, more acetic than the 1991, thus less emphatically fruity. It’s not unlike nosing some kind of sweeter manzanilla. A touch of mustard, cherry stems, blackcurrant buds, natural coconut… And then, indeed, maybe a little rum. Also, I cannot not think of some ultra-young big white Pessac-Leognan. Honeysuckle and lily. Mouth: same feeling, this is less sexy, more acetic and acidic, more winey (dry white) than the 1991s. The citrus fruits are leading the pack here, then dry white grapes, then fresh almonds. A rather unusual style. Finish: not too long and more on tinned fruits. Guavas, for example. A wee touch of vinegar again in the aftertaste. Comments: super-good, but the 1991s, especially the one for The Nectar, were a little more ‘immediate and obvious’. SGP:661 - 85 points.

Irish Single Malt 25 yo 1988/2013 (51.1%, The Whisky Agency, barrel, 212 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 25 yo 1988/2013 (51.1%, The Whisky Agency, barrel, 212 bottles) Five stars Another one from Antrim, most probably. Colour: straw. Nose: the previous 1989 without the wee acetic touches. Which makes it immaculate and pristine. Fresh fruits galore (bananas, melons, peaches), then the best jelly babies (the least chemical ones) and a cup of earl grey tea. A little hay in the background. With water: oh lovely, there’s now a little earth, clay, cumin, wulong tea… Mouth (neat): wham! The first 1991, with more depth. Exceptional combination of citric fruits with mangos and passion fruits, without any dullness or ‘commercialness’ (excuse me?) One of the best Irish I’ve ever tried – but I haven’t tried thousands. With water: quinces! Enough said. Finish: long, majestic and light at the same time. The freshness is amazing. Comments: a great Pinot Gris Vendanges Tardives. Could be my fav Irish indeed. SGP:651 - 91 points.

Okay, one more 1988…

Irish Single Malt 26 yo 1988/2014 (50.4%, Ramseyer’s Whisky Connection, 175 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 26 yo 1988/2014 (50.4%, Ramseyer’s Whisky Connection, 175 bottles) Five stars Colour: Pale gold. Nose: it seems to me, but I may be wrong, that this one’s the closest to the officials. But then of course, it’s got more power, more zing, and a better definition. Ripe peaches and vanilla cake, bananas and acacia honey, plum juice, a little quince, even one or two strawberries… And behind that, notes of pastries that keep it fuller and ‘not-just-a-fruit bomb’. With water: love these notes of grapefruit skin. Mouth (neat): ha. More bonbons than in the TWA, perhaps more liqueur, marshmallows, kiwis and litchis, even rose-flavoured Turkish delights... If the previous one was a pinot gris, this one’s a gewürz. Fun! With water: rather more bubblegum and fruit drops, without any dullness. Finish: good length, clean. I seem to find a smidge of pastis, but that may be my Frenchness. Comments: almost the same very, very, and I mean very high level as the TWA, which was just a wee notch more complex in my opinion. Wow, the Irish! SGP:651 - 90 points.

Ireland 26 yo (51.6%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams and La Maison du Whisky)

Ireland 26 yo (51.6%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams and La Maison du Whisky) Five stars A rather mysterious bottling, the label just wouldn’t tell us more than the age. Maybe a vatting of several vintages? Or another 1988? The price is rather, cough, cough… high (315€). Colour: gold. Nose: there is something a little acetic once again but that would go away – and quick. But it remains pretty acidic, tart, on skins and peelings, with white peaches, green gooseberries, greengages as well, walnuts, blackcurrants… Don’t I also find a little brine? I may be dreaming. With water: exquisite whiffs of almond oil and a little seaweed, beyond the fruit peelings.  Mouth (neat): this is big and this is quite perfect. We’re far from the fruit bombs here, this is grassy and even steely at first sips, and it’s only after a good ten seconds that the fruity cavalry starts to assail your taste buds. Tangerines, grapefruits, kiwis… All that is very fresh, pure, and chiselled. All for the better. With water: something a little oriental. Orange blossom water? Finish: of medium length, on white fruits and, perhaps, a little soft curry. The softest curry. A few herbs as well. Comments: a very complex one, loved it. Now only one question, why don’t the Distillers do cask strength anymore? Unless I’m mistaken… I remember a 1984/1996 that was superb (WF 90). SGP:561 - 90 points.

Well, I believe that was my ‘highest’ Irish session ever. Almost a revelation!

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

 

 

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October 27, 2014


Whiskyfun

A hotchpotch of Highland Park

We’ve got many, and I mean many HPs to taste. In theory, I should build a coherent flight, either a verticale, or only sherried versions, or only 15 years old, or only 1989s, or only new ones… And yet, we’ll do this completely at random, just for fun. The only thing that’s de rigueur when you’re doing this is to take your time, so that the influence of one dram over the next one is minimised. 

Highland Park 15 yo 'Freya' (51.2%, OB, 2014)

Highland Park 15 yo 'Freya' (51.2%, OB, 2014) Three stars I know, I'm very late. Apparently, Freya used to be the Norse goddess of love. Why not choose a pink bottle then, instead of this Flubber green? Colour: white wine. Nose: it is Highland Park au naturel, close to the barley, with some beer, some leaven, some mashed vegetables, some barley water, some almonds and then touches of melon skin (not the flesh), apple peelings and cut grass. I find it pretty austere and very ‘Northern Highlands’, and even a little old skool. With water: even more grains, as well as a little wood smoke. Notes of greengages bring a little fruitiness. Mouth (neat): a little pungent, quite peppery, acrid, with even more peelings and skins than in the nose. Plenty of nutmeg and ginger, probably from some rather active oak. Not a rounded, polished HP for sure. With water: more of all that, with also a little leather and leaves. Chewing tobacco. Finish: quite long, relatively smoky. Lemon, then more oaky spices in the aftertaste. Comments: I enjoy the ‘honesty’ in this, but I don’t find this green and smoky goddess of love particularly sexy. SGP:372 - 82 points.

Highland Park 20 yo 1994/2014 (50.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #0017, 2015 bottles)

Highland Park 20 yo 1994/2014 (50.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #0017, 2015 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: this is actually the style of the Freya, only with more peat and more aromatic herbs, such as dill, fennel or even chives. With water: starts to sauvignonise. Ha. Zesty lemons and lime and rocks and lemon balm and lemon-flavoured yoghurt. It’s got a vibrancy (I know) that wasn’t to be found in Freya in my opinion. Mouth (neat): not Freya at all this time, I’m finding more citrus, a little lemon squash, green bananas, not-too-ripe mangos and gooseberries. Very pleasant oily mouth feel, it’s a spirit with much depth. With water: a creamy fruitiness that sits between Littlemill and unsherried Longmorn. Tangerines, limes, peaches, melons… Finish: quite long, fruity, with a herbal backbone. Green tea flavoured with various fruits. Comments: a great distillate that has been given the opportunity to shine. Dear hogsheads! SGP:562 - 88 points.

Highland Park 24 yo 1986/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #2275, 300 bottles)

Highland Park 24 yo 1986/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #2275, 300 bottles) Four stars The promoters of this lovely collection that used to gather whiskies from absolutely all Scottish distilleries may have been right too early. Colour: white wine. Nose: well in the style of the 1994, but with a little more fatness, oils, wax, menthol… Drops of cough syrup plus lemon, green apples, lime… If find this quite splendid. Mouth: almost perfect. More years may have added some extra complexity, in this case notes of tobacco and liquorice, as well as a little tar on top of the expected fruit salad. Also more and more green herbs and a little Jägermeister, perhaps. Finish: quite long but maybe a little more jumbled, so to speak. The 1994 may have been better focused. Comments: loses a handful of points during the finish, but it remains a very lovely and relatively naked HP. SGP:462 – 87 points.

Highland Park 1989/2014 (49.4%, Càrn Mor, Celebration of the Cask, sherry hogshead, cask #3214, 258 bottles)

Highland Park 1989/2014 (49.4%, Càrn Mor, Celebration of the Cask, sherry hogshead, cask #3214, 258 bottles) Four stars A completely different story, according to the colour… Colour: reddish mahogany. Nose: do you like chocolate, prunes and armagnac? And orange liqueurs, black raisins and crème de cassis? Then this bay’s for you. Having said that it’s void of any tertiary notes, no game, no meat, no tobacco, no minerals and no earth. Just prunes and chocolate – and affiliated aromas. Mouth: a little pencil shaving in the arrival, which suggests a newish cask, but other than that, all is fine, with a heavy sweet – but not too sweet – sherry blending well with the firm distillate. Chocolate again, prunes again, cherry liqueur, bitter oranges and, this time, pipe tobacco. It’s technically a sherry monster, but I find it balanced and even kind of fresh, thanks to a little menthol that comes out. Finish: quite long, maybe a tad drying. Bitter chocolate, grape skins. Comments: rich and expensive at 350 €. And a bit retro. SGP:461 - 87 points.

We may need to try to find another sherry monster after that one…

Highland Park 25 yo 1980/2005 (55.5%, OB for Germany, cask #7363)

Highland Park 25 yo 1980/2005 (55.5%, OB for Germany, cask #7363) Four stars and a half Colour: lighter mahogany. Nose: yes! Textbook sherried HP goodness, complex and balanced, full of dried fruits and tarry smoke – and no traces of sulphur at all. Add honey, chocolate, rather cognac instead of armagnac, ripe peaches, pipe tobacco, old rancio, walnut wine, camphor, myrtle (a touch)… How lovely! With water: some earth and whiffs of brand new car. Plastic? More and more cigars after a few seconds, a cartload of Cubans. Mouth (neat): it’s a little rougher, a tad spritzig and rather medicinal, with a little antiseptic. And then, we experience the sherried cavalcade, but that would rather be jams this time, small berries, strawberries… Blackberry jam, anyone? Not quite a round and ample one, but I’m sure water will help. With water: all on teas now, it kept changing. Maybe a little cardboard too, but other than that, it’s almost pure black tea. Finish: long, with finer notes of oranges. Earl grey? Comments: this baby’s not that easy to follow. Quality’s very, very high, as expected, but I wouldn’t say it’s totally ‘evident’. I had hoped we’d jump over the 90-mark. SGP:562 - 89 points.

And a last one that should be big enough…

Highland Park 8 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, screw cap, +/-1980)

Highland Park 8 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, screw cap, +/-1980) Five stars There also was a slightly earlier version at ‘100 proof’, that I just love (WF 94 for an 8 years old.) Colour: gold, so lighter than earlier batches. Nose: just amazing. These are the old bottles to look for. What’s incredible is this coherence, this oneness so to speak. It’s not a string of aromas, it’s one and only aroma, with multiple dimensions. Does that make any sense? I’d say waxy dried figs and hundreds of other combos, all in the same vein. Water? What water? Mouth: huge. And smoky. Not as sherried as older versions, but perfect. Please call the anti-maltoporn brigade. Finish: extremely long. Comments: rejoice rejoice, I’m pretty speechless. SGP:453 - 92 points.

Nothing can climb over that one, session definitely over. But we’ll have more HP in the coming days.

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

 

 

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October 26, 2014


Whiskyfun

Looking for malternatives on Sunday, today mezcal

It’s no secret that I’ve developed a fondness for mezcal in the last two years. Good mezcal that is, there’s crap as well, as always. Let’s see what we can find in our ‘alternative’ sample library…

Lajita 'Reposado' (40%, OB, mezcal, 100% agave, +/-2013)

Lajita 'Reposado' (40%, OB, mezcal, 100% agave, +/-2013) Two stars Apparently, it’s been awarded several times. Probably blind, since there’s one of these stupid worms/gusanos in the bottle. Colour: straw. Nose: a little strange, much sourer than other mezcals, with huge notes of rotting plums at first nosing, just before it settles down a bit and becomes earthier and brinier, with also whiffs of iron, wet chalk and cured ham. Quite a lot going on in this one, hope that’s not the worm – probably not. Mouth: I find this very dusty, cardboardy, and oddly smoky. Smoked meats above everything, charcoal, cooked butter and then more and more clay as well as a little overcooked vegetable. Brussels sprout? Finish: short, always a little sour. Comments: it hasn’t got the flinty/sharp profile that more ‘artisan’ mezcals can display, and I find it a little dirty. But bland it’s not, for sure. Say interesting. Oh and I’ve given the worm to the cat but she hates alcohol, so she wouldn’t touch it. SGP:453 - around 72 points.

Viejo Pancho Lopez 'Reposado' (38%, OB, mezcal, 100% agave, +/-2014)

Viejo Pancho Lopez 'Reposado' (38%, OB, mezcal, 100% agave, +/-2014) Two stars It seems that this one’s aged for six months in oak, but sources (read websites) vary. No worm inside this time, hurray, but the nine years old cultivated Espadin agaves are organic (apparently). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: cleaner and more spirity than the Lajita, more on eau-de-vie and vanillin, much less on smoke and brine. Touches of cologne and fresh butter, a little fern and moss… Certainly not unpleasant, but a bit shy at this point. Let’s check the palate… Mouth: very easy, clean, with some custard and red pepper – rather pink peppercorns – then some white chocolate and more vanilla. A touch of earth as well, but little smoke this time, and little brine. Much easier and rounder than Lajita. Finish: rather short, rather sweet. Marshmallows with a pinch of salt. More caramel in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s lacking body, not quite a sipping mezcal, I’d say, but it’s not bad juice. SGP: 531 – around 70 points.

Let’s try the ‘anejo’ version…

Viejo Pancho Lopez 'Anejo' (38%, OB, mezcal, 100% agave, +/-2014)

Viejo Pancho Lopez 'Anejo' (38%, OB, mezcal, 100% agave, +/-2014) Two stars This one has spent more time in wood, but the colour’s very pale. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s got a curious medicinal side – not medicinal as in Laphroaig, mind you – and plenty of pine resin and needles, fir liqueur and all that. Yet it’s very smooth and light, with more and more herbal liqueurs. Very different from the reposado. Mouth: much closer to the reposado now, with quite a lot vanilla plus a few spices and these marshmallows again. The pinesap comes through again after a few seconds. Dantziger Goldwasser or something like that. Very little smoke or brine yet again. Finish: rather short, with a little more pepper. Loads of vanilla in the aftertaste. Comments: some very civilised, very harmless mezcal. SGP:531 - around 70 points.

And another anejo…

Los Danzantes 'Anejo' (45.9%, OB, mezcal, +/-2014)

Los Danzantes 'Anejo' (45.9%, OB, mezcal, +/-2014) This baby’s got a high reputation, but it’s quite expensive (£75) for a spirit that spent one year and a half in wood. It’s 100% espadin agave. Colour: gold. Nose: the style of the Lajita is back, but with more oomph, more ‘terroir’, more earth, more brine and almost as much smoke. A little varnish too – well, quite some varnish - which just wouldn’t go away, but that’s no problem because of the smoke that balances that side. I also find whiffs of green coffee. Mouth: very unusual! Starts pretty soapy, before more straight briny agave starts to hit you. Swallowing a little shampoo while showering – and then drinking a few drops of aftershave. You really have to like that. Finish: quite long, smoky and ashy. The soap is still there. Comments: very singular. I’m not too sure about the soap, is that supposed to be an asset? Conservatory score: around SGP:362 - 65 points.

Well, every time I’ve chatted with serious mezcal or tequila lovers, they’ve always told me that reposado and, even worse, anejo are the ‘worst’ ones, and that the blancos or jovens are the real thing. I can certainly imagine that the wood’s vanilla and the smoky grassiness of the distillate would just clash. So let’s try some blancos, starting with another Los Danzantes…

Los Danzantes 'Joven' (43%, OB, mezcal, +/-2014)

Los Danzantes 'Joven' (43%, OB, mezcal, +/-2014) Three stars This is 100% espadin agave again. They seem to be making other varieties, such as the small tobala. Have to find that one… Colour: white. Nose: friends are always right, let’s remember that. Another galaxy, with much better defined and ‘precise’ aromas, essentially around williams pears, green olives and seawater. Or gherkin brine. Terrifically fresh! The smoke is mild, but it’s there. Very pure spirit, slash! Mouth: of course this is much better, despite these Williams pears that keep harassing us (I’m joking.) It remains a relatively mild mezcal, even rather rounded (when compared with the ‘village mezcals’), but it really works. Just this sweetness that keeps growing is a little too much (sweet eau-de-vie). Finish: rather long, rather eau-de-vie-ish. Meatier aftertaste. Comments: not an extreme mezcal, and maybe not exactly a malternative for Ardbeg freaks, but I like it. SGP:542 - around 80 points.

Things have improved, haven’t they… We’ve got quite a bunch of jovens yet to taste but why not rather take this opportunity to taste a tequila joven, instead of a mezcal. After all, tequila is mezcal. We’ll have other mezcals another Sunday.

Espolòn (40%, OB, tequila blanco, +/-2014)

Espolòn (40%, OB, tequila blanco, +/-2014) Two stars and a half This is 100% blue agave. It’s a fairly recent brand, they first came out in 1998. Colour: white. Nose: this nose is softer than that of the Danzantes, rounder, and rather more floral and fruity, although the agave-y side remains (light brine, very light smoke.) A little lavender, cranberry juice, then more tropical fruits, especially very ripe mangos. Yet the whole remains light and even kind of ethereal. Mouth: we’re much closer to the mezcal, with some brine, green olives and a touch of ham, then a little burnt fruit, perhaps tinned pineapples and a drop of rose water. That’s right, gewürztraminer. Finish: not very long, sweet, fruity. The gewürz remains in the aftertaste. Comments: I liked the style of the white – and wilder - mezcal rather better, but this is excellent tequila for sure. Not quite Siete Leguas, but… SGP:531 - around 79 points.

Next time we’ll have only big white ones. Pechugas, wild agaves and all that. Stay tuned!

 

 

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October 24, 2014


Whiskyfun

More Clynelish

Because we forgot quite a few of them yesterday – and we needed a break anyway. We’ll also try to find one or two older ones.

Clynelish 15 yo 1980/1995 (43%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, cask #1270)

Clynelish 15 yo 1980/1995 (43%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, cask #1270) Three stars Picture of a similar bottle. Clynelish 1980 is very uncommon, I think only Signatory – who did this bottling – had at least one sister cask around the same time. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s both fruity and chalky, but not exactly waxy. I rather get ink, minerals, graphite oil, some grass, leaf smoke (garden bonfire) and a touch of mustard that do remind me a bit of early 1980s Brora. A rather complex and pretty austere nose, I’m curious about the palate. Mouth: maybe that’s the low strength, but it may lack a little more depth and oiliness for this make, while there’s a little cardboard and ink. A touch of iron too, then more smoke again. It’s rather smokier than most other Clynelishes. Intriguing. Finish: not really short, but it’s a little ‘hollow’. Must be the strength indeed. Comments: it’s a great peaty and dry make with a weakish body, which is very frustrating. Still worth a good score in my book. SGP:353 - 81 points.

Clynelish 17 yo 1997/2014 (50.3%, Limburg Dram Club, bourbon hogshead)

Clynelish 17 yo 1997/2014 (50.3%, Limburg Dram Club, bourbon hogshead) Four stars and a half Yes, another 1997. Colour: straw. Nose: as fruity and waxy as expected. Quince pie, lemon curd, beeswax, a touch of clay, a little earth, a little candle wax, a drop of sunflower oil. What’s not to love? With water: the wax gets more paraffiny. Lemon-scented plasticine? Mouth (neat): full and creamy mouth feel. Lemons and grapefruits, more beeswax, a little citron liqueur, a little salt. It’s pristine, Christine. With water: perfect. More of all that, with a wee limoncello side. Finish: good length, ultra-clean, zesty, perfect. Comments: Limburg is the continent’s capital of malt whisky. Why am I writing this here? SGP:552 – 89 points.

Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2014 (50.2%, Eiling Lim, 3rd release, 70 bottles)

Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2014 (50.2%, Eiling Lim, 3rd release, 70 bottles) Four stars and a half Most probably approximately the same whisky, but why would we complain? Colour: straw. Nose: a wee tad more mineral, a notch chalkier – in a good way – and globally a little more on dry white wine. Say a blend of sauvignon blanc with bone dry riesling. Less lemons and quinces. With water: becomes grassier and earthier. Damp earth. Mouth (neat): again, it’s a little more mineral, more herbal, even a little mentholy. With water: the lemons are back, together with a wee medicinal side. Chlorophyll and menthol. Finish: long, with a little aniseed this time. A little vanilla in the aftertaste. Comments: and yet another superb Clynelish! Loved the earthiness. SGP:462 - 89 points.

No we won’t go on with other 1997s, let’s rather have a no-vintage version, for once!

Clynelish 18 yo (50.6%, The Whisky Exchange for The Whisky Show London, 2014)

Clynelish 18 yo (50.6%, The Whisky Exchange for The Whisky Show London, 2014) Five starsCould be a 1996 or could be a 1995, or a vatting. Love the retro label, as well as the rather provocative ‘Pure Malt’ appellation. The darker colour suggests sherry’s been in use. Colour: dark amber. Nose: well this is different. Adios purity and cleanliness, but not freshness! We’re having cigars and chocolate, a little stout, notes of roasted chestnuts, whiffs of amontillado, and then rather Banyuls or Rivesaltes. Rancio! With water: more of all that. Don’t I detect white truffles as well? (Alba!) Mouth (neat): rum from Sutherland! Seriously, wasn’t that rather a rum cask? Demerara sugar, marmalade, then citrons, bananas flambéed, toasted pastries… The spirit’s zesty side manages to shine through after a few seconds, like Moses splitting the Red Sea, and the whole becomes zestier and more ‘Clynelish’. Fun. With water: becomes more herbal, and a little leafy/leathery. Black bread. Finish: long, with notes of rosehip tea, perhaps. Comments: the fact that it’s a very different mid-to-late 1990s Clynelish isn’t the least of its advantages. Brilliant and rare. SGP:562 - 91 points.

Good, eleven Clynelishes within two days, that’s enough – not that we can ever get enough Clynelish!

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

 

 

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October 23, 2014


Whiskyfun

Another Clynextravaganza

I know, probably the worst headline ever, where’s my award? Anyway, there’s more, much more middle-aged Clynelish around, so it’s time to try to ‘further empty the slot’ so to speak. We’ll start with the lower strengths, as usual.

Fascadale 12 yo 'Batch 6'  (46%, Adelphi, 1496 bottles, 2014)

Fascadale 12 yo 'Batch 6'  (46%, Adelphi, 1496 bottles, 2014) Three stars and a half Fascadale is said to be Clynelish. The age suggests this is 2000s distillation, while I’ve only tried these vintages one or twice so far. Let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: I think they made it (even) waxier in the early 2000s, as this reeks of beeswax, paraffin – rather candles - and cut apples. Touches of cherries, then a little iodine and sea air. Impeccable. Mouth: a little rough, perhaps, and rather grassier and grittier than others, but the expected combo is there, with wax again, a little salt (rather really salty for Clynelish), lemon peel, and a little beer. Not a smooth Clynelish, at all. Some sides remind me of late 1970s distillation. Finish: long, between candlewax, lemon and bitter apples, with a salty aftertaste. Comments: a wilder, rather coastal one – for the hipflask? SGP:452 - 83 points.

Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2014 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #12373+12374, 739 bottles)

Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2014 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #12373+12374, 739 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: ah yes. A mineral and earthy Clynelish, better polished, more complex, with wax, blonde tobacco, a little camphor and then many citrus fruits. Perfect, not much else to add. Mouth: really excellent, another example of a small-batch vatting that may be better than the individual casks – but that’s pure speculation of course, I couldn’t try the casks. Lemon peel, lemon curd, sauvignon blanc, limestone, honeydew, lime and all that. Finish: long, clean, chiselled, focused. A touch of salt in the aftertaste. Comments: great value – if you like Clynelish’s style of course. I’m a fan. SGP:462 – 88 points.

Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2013 'Bench with a Sea view' (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 371 bottles)

Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2013 'Bench with a Sea view' (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 371 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: almost an exact copy of the Signatory. They’re almost undistinguishable, let’s say this one’s a tad rounder and fruitier, and a notch less mineral, and maybe a wee bit more camphory/mentholated. But beyond that, they’re almost identical – and guess what, we won’t complain. Mouth: exactly the same comments. The hogshead might have been a little more active, as I seem to detect traces of vanilla. Other than that, we’ve got the same lovely lemony coastal waxiness. Finish: same. Perfect. Maybe added notes of herbal tea. Lime blossom? Comments: love this one as well. SGP:462 - 88 points.

Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2014 (48%, Hunter Laing, Distiller's Art, refill hogshead, 242 bottles)

Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2014 (48%, Hunter Laing, Distiller's Art, refill hogshead, 242 bottles) Four stars and a halfColour: pale gold. Nose: it is, of course, the main problem when you’re going ‘horizontal’, the whiskies may be all very much alike, which is the case once again. In fact we’re going a notch more towards the Signatory here, with rather more minerals, and rather less fruits. Only touches and hints here. Maybe a smidgen of chlorophyll as well? Mouth: oh yes indeed, they’re all closer together than the Kessler Twins. Right, right, or than Gisele and Patricia Bündchen. Finish: or than Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, aaarrrggghhh… Comments: what can I say, I built this line-up, I have to face the consequences. SGP:462 - 88 points.

Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2014 (50.9%, The Whisky Mercenary for Cask Six 10th Anniversary)

Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2014 (50.9%, The Whisky Mercenary for Cask Six 10th Anniversary) Five stars Another one that should be boringly good, especially since these people know their whisky, thus their Clynelish. And the Belgians know their comics too, don’t they. Colour: gold. Nose: there, we’re more in the style of the Wemyss again, that is to say a notch fruitier. There’s also a feeling of fullness here, maybe that’s the higher strength. Lovely lovely crystallised quinces and lemons plus beeswax and a touch of earth. I think it could not be better. Mouth: yeah well, same ballpark, obviously. A little more fatness, maybe, a little more jam, but also more citrus and a touch of passion fruit. In fact, it’s a little different – and I like it even better. Hurrayyyy! Finish: indeed. Textbook 1997 Clynelish from an excellent cask. Comments: happy birthday Cask Six! SGP:462 - 90 points.

Having another 1997 at this point would be madness. You say madness? Let’s go…

Clynelish 17 yo 1997/2014 (52.4%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 166 bottles)

Clynelish 17 yo 1997/2014 (52.4%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 166 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: indeed. Mouth: indeed. Finish: indeed. Maybe an added touch of oak and white pepper? Comments: indeed. The limits of the exercise. With apologies to the very excellent Maltbarn. Great Clynelish, great cask. Let’s quote the great Molière, “Great is the fortune of he who possesses a good bottle.” You may choose this great Clynelish, my lord. SGP:462 - 90 points.

Good, we’ve got other ex-bourbon 1997s, but his would probably become even more ridiculous. So let’s have a 1996 and we’re done ;-)…

Clynelish 17 yo 1996/2014 (51.9%, Silver Seal)

Clynelish 17 yo 1996/2014 (51.9%, Silver Seal) Five stars Another brand new one. Silver Seal are treating their labels like genuine dazibaos, this time they’re claiming that ‘whisky is art’. The immaculate, naked truth. Well, most of the times. Colour: white wine. Nose: I’m happy because in general, I find the 1996s frankly ‘below’ the 1997s, but in this case that isn’t true. Indeed, this baby’s appropriately chiselled, clean, waxy and lemony, with also this sea air and hints of tincture of iodine. Also a little chalk. No water needed, I wager. Mouth: oh no, a 1996 that’s akin to a 1997! Maybe a little more toasted bread, as if the cask had been a little more active, but other than that, it’s a crystal-clean, waxy and sauvignony Clynelish. Tough luck! Finish: same. Very long. A tiny-wee drop of varnish, perhaps. Comments: another very excellent one, in my opinion. I just cannot see why I’d come up with a different score. SGP:362 - 90 points.

We’d better put an end to this nonsensical session, don’t you think?

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

 

 

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October 22, 2014


Whiskyfun

Four recent Lagavulin

It is becoming so difficult to build a proper Lagavulin session, for the lack of new fighters! Remember that in my book, a proper session should include at least three or four ‘connected’ drams. On the other hand, I have the feeling that Lagavulin’s really becoming the ‘grand cru’ of Islay, while one may have had expected, in the past, that it’s rather its eastern neighbour that would have become, well, the grand cru. But stocks and… unbridled marketing may have decided otherwise. We had the famous 16 yo last year, so we’ll have a new batch in 2015, no need to ‘follow’ it every single year. Let’s rather try this…

Lagavulin 1997/2013 'Distillers Edition' (43%, OB, lgv 4/502)

Lagavulin 1997/2013 'Distillers Edition' (43%, OB, lgv 4/502) Five stars Ah, the 1979… the ‘DE’ is, as you know, finished in Pedro Ximenez casks and yet, it’s usually not sweet. Go figure… Colour: full gold. Nose: well, they haven’t lost the recipe. Perfect Lagavulinness with an added layer of herbal teas – and plenty of them. Lime blossom, verbena (huge, really), wild thyme, then rather tobacco, mint-flavoured green tea Moroccan-style, fennel... Then the coastal jamboree, seaweed, seashells… Then a little ham, as usual. What I don’t find, and that I used to find in earlier versions, is a certain rubberiness. So this one is rather a cleaner one. Mouth: I really hate it that a finishing would work so well. Tobacco, artisan chocolate, kippers, Corinthian raisins, chlorophyll, liquorice, dried figs… Even the body’s quite perfect, but I’m sure it would be even more perfect at Talisker strength. Another impeccable one. Finish: long and rather on a blend of tar liqueur with crème de menthe. The mint makes it clean and fresh, which works a treat. After Eights! Comments: this is so brilliantly done! And I hate PX… SGP:457 - 90 points.

Lagavulin 'Triple Matured Edition' (48%, OB, friends of the Classic Malts, 2013)

Lagavulin 'Triple Matured Edition' (48%, OB, friends of the Classic Malts, 2013) Three stars Seriously, who needs a ‘triple matured’ Lagavulin? I guess that’s why they’ve written ‘triple matured’ in such small letters on the label. And no, I wont even bother finding out about the origins of the successive woods. But let’s let the whisky speak… Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s rather shier than the DE, and it’s rather more toasted and brioche-y. I’d even say croissanty. I think the coastal side’s been wiped out, and while balance has been kept, it’s lost a large chunk of it Lagavulinness. If I may… Now, it’s ‘nice’ whisky, and should you nose deeper, you’ll find these lovely herbal teas that were in the DE, just subdued… And you’ll also find quite some coffee. Mouth: nah, sure this works, the spirit’s big enough to withstand any kind of treatment. But the sharp/clean/pure Islayness has been lost in my opinion. And the wood starts to feel after a few seconds. Finish: long, coffeeish, slightly briny. Comments: I find this pretty good, and even very good, but quite unnecessary and relatively out of tune. The DE crushes it, despite a lower strength. Ha, wood! SGP:456 - 82 points.

Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2014' (54.4%, OB, 31428 bottles)

Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2014' (54.4%, OB, 31428 bottles) Five stars This will probably be fast. Colour: white wine. Nose: yes. ‘Sweet peat’ at first, then mercurochrome, seawater, new plastic (in the best sense), cider apples and roots. Turnips and gentian. What I call evident spirit – for lack of a better word. With water: a pile of fruits in a farmyard, not too far from he sea. Mouth (neat): it’s metaspirit, it transcends the categories, you could try this along some great mezcal, pear eau-de-vie, white armagnac (blanche) or, indeed, alpine gentian. What I really love here is that it’s not about b****y wood. At all. Excuse me? Flavours? I’d say heavily smoked strawberries and pears, with a medicinal background and then rather grapefruits – on a bed of ashes. With water: gets easier to down, rather rounder, and a little more herbal, with pretty much the same herbal teas that we had found in the DE (please see above). Finish: maybe not excessively long, but clean, smoky of course, herbal and limy. Comments: everyone’s favourite, which gives you faith in humanity (oh S., shut up!) SGP:557 - 92 points.

Most sadly, I haven’t got many independent Lagavulins left in my sample library, only a bunch of undisclosed ones by Jack Wiebers. And this new one…

The Scottish Referendum 45 vs. 55 (55%, Reifferscheid, 90 bottles, 2014)

The Scottish Referendum 45 vs. 55 (55%, Reifferscheid, 90 bottles, 2014) Four stars Some people are having fun with whisky, which is great, obviously. And no wonder the bottler of this whisky’s into politics, as this neat little company’s located in the lovely city of… Bonn, Germany. Great wines up there. Vollrads, Johannisberg (one day I’ll tell you the story of my dear wife pouring a whole bottle of very old Johannisberger Erntebringer into a chicken broth of hers…) No, it’s not Berlin. It doesn’t say ‘Lagavulin’, but it is ‘Lagavulin’. Colour: pale gold. Nose: younger than the official 12, or so it seems. There are eau-de-vie-ish notes, always signs of youth, including plenty of pears and quite some plums. What’s fabulous is that it’s totally spirit-driven, but on the other hand, it’s pretty immature in my opinion. In the background, farmyardy tones, peaches and plenty of hay. Peaches aren’t very Lagavulin, are they? With water: gets more new-make-y. Is that good or is that bad? More pears than in an Alsatian orchard. Mouth (neat): we’re closer to the official 12. This is very young, pristine, very good, fruity, with this very typical rubber (a touch, a touch) and a few oriental spices. A fruit salad with a little ginger, cardamom and aniseed. Very straight. With water: excellent fruit juice with a little liquid smoke. Finish: long, clean, fruity and smoky. Very young Lagavulin. Comments: I think it’s Signatory who used to have some undisclosed five year old Lagavulin quite a while back. Wasn’t that fifteen years ago? This one reminds me of them. Neat! SGP:637 - 85 points.

(with thanks to Steffan)

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

 

 

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October 21, 2014


Whiskyfun

More ups and downs, with a bag of blended malts

Blending malts and then finishing the whole in wine casks, could that be a new trend? Let’s have three of them, and then we may go on…

The Six Isles 10 yo (47.5%, Ian McLeod, blended malt, casks #90358/9035, 722 bottles, 2014)

The Six Isles 10 yo (47.5%, Ian McLeod, blended malt, casks #90358/9035, 722 bottles, 2014) Three stars and a half A blend of Islay, Jura, Skye, Mull, Orkney and Arran malts, finished in Petrus Gaia casks. Petrus Gaïa is neither Pétrus nor Gaja, it’s ‘only’ a Bordeaux-Supérieur, but it’s very highly reputed. Colour: gold. Nose: as expected, the peaters are overwhelming the gentler ones, with maybe Talisker in the front, and a very mild wine influence. Drops of crème de cassis, perhaps, and half a strawberry, and no obvious, spice-forward French oak. A little pinesap. Nice nose, balance was preserved. Mouth: really punchy, tart, peaty and spicy. Some would call it ‘big stuff’. The oak’s more obvious at this point, with plenty of ginger, then I rather find blood oranges and grapefruits. The peat smoke is big, I also find touches of mashed vegetables behind the fruits (was that Mull?) The wine influence remains soft and pleasant. Finish: long, cleaner, peatier, with grapefruits and a little ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: I think this works pretty well. The peat and the wine made it pleasantly contrapunctic this time (yeah yeah yeah…) SGP:456 - 84 points.

Wine, he said…

Blended Malt 17 yo (50%, Hart Brothers, Port finish, +/-2013)

Blended Malt 17 yo (50%, Hart Brothers, Port finish, +/-2013) Two stars and a half Colour: bronze/apricot. Nose: cassis, cassis and cassis, then more cassis, then a blend of strawberry jam with prunes. Toasted bread. What’s quite incredible is that this seems to work, provided you like cassis. Oh, and Port. With water: crushing blackcurrant buds under your nose. And a slice of plum pie. Mouth (neat): strange-ish this time. Some kind of rubber and a very ‘vivid’ touch of jell-O, or jelly babies, on top of some middle-aged armagnac plus the prunes that go with it. After a few seconds, some rather massive notes of bitter oranges. With water: the bitterness and the rubber are coming out, pass. Doesn’t swim well. Finish: long and rather leafy. Comments: careful with water. This baby, that is more than okay, still reminds why I’m not into Port finishes (since Glenmo’s very first versions and despite Balvenie’s excellent 21.) SGP:562 - 78 points.

And now the sherried version…

Blended Malt 17 yo (50%, Hart Brothers, Sherry finish, +/-2013)

Blended Malt 17 yo (50%, Hart Brothers, Sherry finish, +/-2013) Three stars and a half Colour: deep gold. Nose: its not a surprise that this sherried version would be more ‘classic’ than its Porty counterpart. I find it more refined, more elegant, more on figs and raisins, quinces, plums, pastries, toffee… So yes, classic. The malt’s also more obvious. With water: very fine. Pine needles, raisins, plum pie. Mouth: we’re closer to the ‘Port’, with these oranges, the fruit drops, more oranges, orange juice, Fanta, a little pepper… Pleasant, even if it tends to become a little dry. Let’s only hope it’ll swim well on the palate… With water: it does. More oranges, a touch of rum, a few drops of walnut wine, bitter almonds… Finish: quite long, with a little more leather. The figs are back in the aftertaste. Comments: pretty excellent, well composed. SGP:452 - 83 points.

Good, perhaps we could go on for a little while, but without any finishes?

Usquaebach 15 yo (43%, OB, blended malt, +/-2005)

Usquaebach 15 yo (43%, OB, blended malt, +/-2005) A rather expensive blend malt, that was labelled as ‘Pure Highland Malt’ when it came out. It seems that the newer versions are labelled as ‘Blended malt’ but the one we’ll have is an older bottling. Let’s hope we’ll like it better than the blend that we had yesterday. Colour: gold. Nose: I’m afraid it’s having a lot of trouble after the others, and that’s not just the lower strength. Raw, spirity, inexpressive, a little cardboardy, grassy, leafy… And a few floral tones, always welcome. But those flowers don’t make the whole bouquet lovely (ha!) Mouth: this is undoubtedly nicer, but there’s a lot of caramel, corn syrup, then coffee and, just like in the blend, a little sawdust. Nah, I do not quite like this. Finish: of medium length, with a bitterish side. Some varnish in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m sorry, but no. I have to say I’m surprised. A problem somewhere? At the bottling plant? SGP:441 - 55 points.

Let’s try to find something better…

Blue Hanger '11th Release' (45.6%, Berry Bros & Rudd, 2014)

Blue Hanger '11th Release' (45.6%, Berry Bros & Rudd, 2014) Four stars Regrettably, I cannot try all releases of the famous Blue Hanger, but let’s have this eleventh one, a much lighter version – lighter in colour, that is. Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, exit the sherry and the roundness, this is a fresh, rather light and yet firmly fruity and floral malt, with a waxy/oily backbone. Apples, greengages, acacia honey, a drop of ale, a drop of Muscat, dandelions… I like this freshness a lot. I’ve had some Teaninichs that were a bit like this. Mouth: firmer, fatter and even smokier/earthier than expected. A little brine, apple juice, limejuice, plums and a few very fresh almonds. Finish: quite long and rather peaty. Smoked gooseberries? Comments: a very solid, fresh and crystalline composition. Not the usual Blue Hanger. SGP:544 - 85 points.

And a last one for the road… Maybe an older bottling…

Glencoe 8 yo (58%, OB, blended malt, +/-2000)

Glencoe 8 yo (58%, OB, blended malt, +/-2000) Four stars It’s McDonald’s blend, so one of Ben Nevis’ brands. There are several labels, not too sure which is what, but let’s try this very powerful baby. Will it be Ben Nevis-driven? Colour: pale gold. Nose: well well well. Raw, spirity, ‘simply fruity’ (apples and basta), and seemingly very cerealy. I don’t seem to find much Ben Nevis so far. With water: nicer. Cleaner, with more sweet fruits and sweet ale. I even find ‘ideas’ of IPA beer, is that hops? Mouth (neat): amazing! This is much, much nicer! A very creamy mouth feel and plenty of big fat crystallised fruits. Grapefruits, tinned pineapples, maracuja, mangos… All that is coated with thick custard and quite some maple syrup. Very potent malt, it reminds me of some older ‘As We Get It’. Remember? With water: ha-ha, it seems that some Ben Nevis is emerging, with these notes of ‘gently rotten fruits’. Nothing bad, mind you, quite the opposite. Finish: long, fruity, maybe a bit simple but what it does it does well. Leaves a fatness. Comments: on par with the Blue Hanger, although this one’s almost smokeless. Very well done Rory McDonald well, his successors), this is potent, very honest malt whisky – and a surprise. SGP:541 - 85 points.

 

 

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October 20, 2014


Whiskyfun

A little bag of Scottish blends

We like to have a go at a few blends from time to time, always a good occasion to recalibrate our palate, and maybe to make good use of the full 100-scale ;-). 

Rob Roy (40%, OB, blend, +/-2005)

Rob Roy (40%, OB, blend, +/-2005) One of Morrison-Bowmore’s brands. Not too sure they still make it, but let’s see if we can find a Bowmoreness inside… BTW I found this cheap baby at Cava Benito in Andorra, excellent selection but very unfriendly place. Make sure you’re in a good mood and unarmed before entering the place. Colour: pale gold. Nose: ouch, this is very spirity and light at the same time, with notes of kirsch straight from the still and then rather wood alcohol, paint thinner and, well, sawdust. This is very, very un-Bowmore to say the least. Mouth: somewhat nicer, but this bubblegum, the raw wood, the notes of cheap fruit liqueur and the odd notes of burnt toast just don’t work too well. Finish: short, but a little maltier. Comments: very cheap lower-shelf stuff. It just couldn’t be Morrison-Bowmore, it couldn’t, no it couldn’t… SGP:231 - 40 points.

Usquaebach 'Reserve' (43%, OB, blend, +/-2010)

Usquaebach 'Reserve' (43%, OB, blend, +/-2010) I believe it’s composed by an independent company, and I believe it’s rather aimed at the American market. Colour: gold. Nose: nothing too brilliant again, but I seem to find both more depth and more roundness than in the humble Rob Roy. I do enjoy these whiffs of wet earth and the notes of marmalade and toasted pastries. Mouth: not quite. Some parts are pleasant for sure (this earthiness again) but the odd fruitiness is a tad embarrassing. Banana and pineapple drops, sawdust, caramel and a little shoe polish. Finish: short, with these notes of ‘Tesco’s fruit drops’ (or Carrefour, or Walmart, or Lidl, whatever.) Comments: certainly ‘better’ than Rob Roy, but it’s very average juice in my opinion. A good example of a 50-points whisky. SGP:431 - 50 points.

Right, let’s try to find bigger blends… (rummage)…

The Black Grouse ‘Alpha Edition’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2014)

The Black Grouse ‘Alpha Edition’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2014) Two stars and a half This baby’s supposed to be a much peatier (and much more expensive) version of Grouse, let’s see. Colour: full gold. Nose: it is a little smokier for sure, earthier as well, with pleasant notes of cigars and crystallised oranges, then old leather and old papers. ‘Old attic’ and a few drops of our beloved pu-erh tea. Mouth: the peat is much more obvious, and the whole is rather reminiscent of Islay Mist, with also notes of tequila and more earth. Liquid smoke? Also ashes, leather, caramel… Finish: rather long given the strength. Ashtray. The aftertaste is a bit drying. Comments: a kind of baby Islay. I think it’s a nice composition, a kind of peatier Black Label. I could quaff this. SGP:344 - 79 points.

Ballantine's 17 yo (40%, OB, blend, +/-2014)

Ballantine's 17 yo (40%, OB, blend, +/-2014) Two stars and a halfThe 17 has always been navigating around the 80-mark in my book. Let’s try a newer batch… Colour: gold. Nose: yes, what I enjoy in this one is the ‘polished’ side and the greasy/oily touches. Beeswax, incense, light pipe tobacco, cough syrup, sultanas… All that is nice, of course. Mouth: a rather fat blend, with much smoke (but less smoke than in the Black Grouse), tobacco, tea, gingerbread… The body’s fine, it’s just that I find that it’s becoming a little too grassy/tea-ish. That would be green tea then, I suppose. Finish: loses steam and coherence a bit, while becoming a little too cardboardy for my taste. Comments: (high) ups and downs. Without the finish I’d have gone way above 80. And sadly, this wasn’t a ‘43%’ version. SGP:352 - 79 points.

Ballantine's 17 yo ‘Glentauchers Signature Edition’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2014)

Ballantine's 17 yo ‘Glentauchers Signature Edition’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2014) Two stars and a half When I first saw these babies – there are also a Scapa, a Miltonduff and a Glenburgie – I had thought they were single malts, but in fact they’re blends where one component has been ‘pushed up’. In this case, Glentauchers. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a rather more sherried version of the 17, more floral as well. I find peonies and roses, for example. Also blood oranges. It’s rather more expressive, I’d say, but indeed we remain within the family. Rather more leather as well, a touch of cedar wood… Mouth: same feeling, exactly. More oranges, Turkish delights, then maybe redcurrants and pink grapefruits. I find the juice pretty excellent, but the low strength makes it a little too flabby for me. Finish: rather short but very nicely ‘oriental’. These Turkish delights again. Comments: bottling such a nice combo at 40% is almost murder. Your palate is looking for more oomph, makes me think of my iPhone when reception is poor. I know what I’m trying to say. SGP:441 - 79 points.

I have the other ‘Signatures’ at hand but I need more presence. So, let’s try to find an older one… And since we were talking ‘bout Johnnie Black…

Johnnie Walker 'Black Label' (43%, OB, blend, +/-1958)

Johnnie Walker 'Black Label' (43%, OB, blend, +/-1958) Four stars and a halfColour: deep gold. Nose: oh my, this is something else indeed. Probably distilled immediately after WWII, so rather smokier than ‘normal’ since more peat was used than right before the war again, with a magnificent range of phenolic and smoky notes. That would be old engine oil, garage, old tools, then old orange liqueur, tamarind, camphor, beeswax, leather polish, a drop of maraschino, a touch of cinnamon, a touch of lard, Spanish ham… This nose is totally entrancing! Mouth: astounding – for a while. Smoked pinesap liqueur, artisan cider, verbena, some kind of peppery wax, overripe pears, a drop of plum spirit, then more acrid ashes, liquorice… Sadly, it tends to become a little bitter, and that may be ‘the taste of glass’, but other than that, bingo! Finish: long, sappy and earthy, with a bitterish and drying aftertaste. Comments: forget about the finish, this is just a great old blend, complex and talkative. But then again, OBE might have improved it a bit. I mean, a lot. Mind you, 1958! SGP:562 - 88 points.

Session over (with thanks to Ron)

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

 

 

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October 19, 2014


Whiskyfun

It’s Sunday,
time for another bunch of rums

We’ll do it ‘at random’ again this time, so you may expect ups and downs. I’d like to insist, once again, on the fact that these notes (and scores) are written from a whisky enthusiast’s point of view. That means that phenolic/dry ones are usually favoured over sweet, rounder ones. But let’s go…

Cuban Rum 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead's Green Label, +/-2012)

Cuban Rum 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead's Green Label, +/-2012) Three stars A stroke of luck, Cuban rums are usually light and pretty easy. Colour: straw. Nose: probably a little more oomph than in, say Havana Club. Whiffs of cane juice, then rather pineapples and bananas plus other ripe or even overripe tropical fruits. Papayas? Really fresh, with a most pleasant fruitiness.  Also touches of sweet wine, maybe Muscat? Roses? In some way, it reminds me of a light and very aromatic sparkling wine called Clairette de Die. Mouth: same style, all kinds of ripe fruits with a touch of liquorice. Pineapples, bananas, liquorice allsorts, a touch of toffee… Classic easy fruity rum, with good body and a perfect strength. Finish: medium length. More liquorice forward. Candy sugar. Comments: perfect in its own, very classic, very easy style. SGP:641 - around 82 points.

Clarke’s Court 8 yo '#37' (40%, OB, blend, +/-2013)

Clarke’s Court 8 yo '#37' (40%, OB, blend, +/-2013) one star and a half A blend by a company in Grenada. Apparently, it was first launched to celebrate Grenada's 37 years of independence, hence its name. Colour: gold. Nose: soft and fruity, and not far from the Cuban, with a rich fruitiness, bananas, pineapples, very ripe kiwis, apricot… I would call this nose ‘pleasant’. Big fruits! Mouth: extremely sweet, it’s like eating a whole bag of liquorice allsorts. On the other hand, it does not quite taste of sugar. Light body, the middle’s a little weak. Finish: sort. More bonbons, marshmallows… Bananas again in the (very light) aftertaste. Comments: good fruit juice. Sadly, it lacks body in my opinion. We’re far from a malternative. SGP:620 – around 68 points.

Reimonenq 'J.R – On The Rocks’ (40%, OB, Guadeloupe, rhum agricole)

Reimonenq 'J.R – On The Rocks’ (40%, OB, Guadeloupe, rhum agricole) Two stars A funny bottle. It’s said that this light rum was designed by M. Remoneinq for his personal consumption, while he was getting old and couldn’t quite stand the heavier style anymore. Colour: gold. Nose: light indeed, but the agricole style remains. Light cane juice and a touch of vanilla, plus bananas and pineapples. Rather clean, easy, soft. Mouth: the vanilla’s in the front, and comes with notes of shortbread, apricot pie and candy sugar. Quite a lot of caramel, pastries… Light body but no weakness. Finish: short, on vanilla and caramel. The sugarcane remains apparent in the aftertaste. Comments: I can see why they called this baby ‘on the rocks’. Ice should work well indeed. SGP:610 – around 74 points.

Mulata 5 yo 'Añejo' (38%, OB, Cuba)

Mulata 5 yo 'Añejo' (38%, OB, Cuba) Two stars Another Cuban, and a pretty cheap one at that (around 15 €). Colour: gold. Nose: strange! Rotting fruits, molasses, cheese… Then a funny meatiness (ham?) as well as whiffs of baker’s yeast, sour dough… So there’s a kind of dirtiness, but that makes it ‘fun’ and even rather interesting. Mouth: the sugar feels, sadly. Fruit syrups, molasses, more sugar… And then a touch of salt. Some presence for sure, but you have to like this combination of sugar with sour fruits and even vegetables. Some kind of Chinese sauce? Finish: short. Woosh! Comments: fun stuff – and it’s cheap anyway. Very molassy. SGP:730 – around 71 points.

English Harbour 25 yo 1981/2006 (40%, OB, Antigua)

English Harbour 25 yo 1981/2006 (40%, OB, Antigua) Two stars This baby’s still widely available, which I find strange. Maybe that’s because of the rather heavy price tag? (around 200 €) Colour: amber. Nose: a rather rich, chocolaty style, with many dried fruits, papayas, bananas, a touch of coal smoke, a little tar, espresso… I have to say I'm not blaming this baby for anything so far. The smokiness is very pleasant. Mouth: too bad, I find it too sweet this time. Cane syrup, coffee liqueur, caramel, chocolate liqueur… You really have to love chocolate! Also toasted oak and maybe a slice of pecan pie, roasted nuts… Finish: rather short, and very sugary/molassy. The smoky touch in the aftertaste improves it again – just a bit. Comments: simply not my style at all. Oh the sugar… SGP:721 - around 74 points.

Bielle 2003 'Brut de fût' (52.9%, OB, Marie-Galante, +/-2014)

Bielle 2003 'Brut de fût' (52.9%, OB, Marie-Galante, +/-2014) Four stars and a half Bielle’s reputation keeps growing these days, thanks to a pristine distillate. And it’s agricole! Colour: dark amber. Nose: an unusual style, rich, both candied and phenolic. Many crystallised fruits, oranges, angelica, cherries… Cassata, guignolet, then liquorice, violet sweets (Toulouse!), some caraway, star anise, touches of Turkish delights, sweet liquorice, pipe tobacco, pinesap, honeysuckle, lilac… Both the richness and the complexity are amazing, it’s a true aromatic whirlwind. Mouth: really impressive, concentrated, rich, extremely liquoricy, with very heavy notes of sugarcane, then tobacco, sweets (violet again, pinesap, grapefruits), aniseed, pastis, wormwood, dried ginger… This baby’s just relentless. Finish: very long. Keyword, liquorice. A bit of tar in the aftertaste, maybe a little pencil shaving. Comments: only one flaw, this very high quality was to be expected. No surprise! SGP:642 - around 88 points.

Domaine de Courcelles 1972/2014 (54%, Rhumhouse Switzerland, Guadeloupe)

Domaine de Courcelles 1972/2014 (54%, Rhumhouse Switzerland, Guadeloupe) Five stars The Domaine de Courcelles in Grande-Terre stopped distilling in 1964, the stills were then moved and kept working until 1972, so this is the last vintage. Several batches have already been bottled in the past by various bottlers, not all ‘utterly perfect’. It’s not agricole, it was distilled from molasses. Oh and it’s 38 years old! Colour: amber. Nose: definitely complex, starting with whiffs of old dust (attic) and various woods (rosewood, cedar), before many prunes come out, zwetschke tart, sloe, dried apricots, cinnamon cake and bananas flambéed. I find this nose simply stunning. Love the prunes! And the touches of menthol after fifteen minutes. Mouth: exceptional. Sweet but not cloying or fattish, starting where the nose ended (prunes and mint), and going on with strawberry jam, notes of mangos, liquorice as usual, ripe bananas and a very complex spicy combination. Aniseed, cinnamon, nutmeg… Goes on with some apple pie, toasted brioche, a drop of banana liqueur… It’s perfect sweet style rum, proof that rum can be both sweet and brilliant. Finish: long, still not oaky as such, spicy and superbly jammy. Prunes and bananas, I’d say. Comments: some exceptional sweet and ‘un-phenolic’ rum. Very well selected, Rhumhouse! SGP:741 - around 91 points.

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

 

 

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October 16, 2014


Whiskyfun

Tasting three recent Dailuaines

Dailuaine 15 yo 1997/2013 (46%, Douglas McGibbon, Provenance)

There are quite a few indie Dailuaines around these days. More variety, that’s great, isn’t it.

Dailuaine 15 yo 1997/2013 (46%, Douglas McGibbon, Provenance) Colour: pale gold. Nose: a blend of ‘spirit’ sulphur and apple juice at fist nosing, with this particular fatness and notes of sunflower oil. Goes on with more beer, ale, yeast, bread and plain malt. Pretty ‘natural’, firm… Mouth: same notes of beer, plus apples again, a little lemon, a few bitter herbs and touches of sweet vegetables. Beetroots and turnip? Good mouth feel. Finish: medium length. Sweet beer, a little liquorice, a faint prickly/fizzy side. Tonic water and pepper. Comments: a bit raw, but very ‘natural’. A fatter Speysider. SGP:451 - 79 points.

Dailuaine 22 yo 1992/2014 (53.1%, Glen Fahrn Germany, bourbon barrel, cask #3126)

Dailuaine 22 yo 1992/2014 (53.1%, Glen Fahrn Germany, bourbon barrel, cask #3126) Four stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: very unusual. There’s this sulphur again (I insist, that’s normal, no gunpowder or eggs or cabbage whatever), then big whiffs of apple peelings, fresh asparagus and broken branches. Great grassy nose, very singular. With water: great. Some earth, humus, mushrooms, hessian… Mouth (neat): great. That grassiness plus zesty mangos, grapefruits and lemon balm. Excellent grassy structure that hints at fresh wood – I mean, un-dried. Oily mouth feel. With water: great. More fruitiness, pineapple drops, grapefruit drops and such… Finish: good length, fresh as a baby’s mouth, clean and fruity. Comments: great (that’ll do, S.) Very easy, but with excellent body and structure. Substance? SGP:641 - 89 points.

Dailuaine 21 yo 1992/2013 (54.8%, Barmetro for Milano Whisky Festival, cask #3128, 227 bottles)

Dailuaine 21 yo 1992/2013 (54.8%, Barmetro for Milano Whisky Festival, cask #3128, 227 bottles) Four stars and a half A sister cask, obviously (well spotted, S.!) Colour: pale gold. Nose: it is the same whisky. Not the same cask, but really, the whiskies are nearly identical. Maybe this one has got an added tiny-wee touch of vanilla? No, not really… With water: same. Mouth (neat): same, really. And really good. Good bourbon wood. With water: same, so great. Again, maybe a tad more fresh oak, but it’s hard to bring both down to the very same A.B.V., so… Finish: same. Maybe a little aniseed in this one. Maybe… Comments: same. SGP:641 - 89 points.

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

 

 

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October 15, 2014


Whiskyfun

The new, trendier Benromach

Benromach’s got a new packaging, which I find pretty cool. The juices aren’t meant to have changed, but this is as good an excuse as any to have a new go at this babies…

Benromach 10 yo (43%, OB, 2014)

Benromach 10 yo (43%, OB, 2014) Four stars Matured in 80% bourbon and 20% sherry, then finished in first fill oloroso for one year. Colour: gold. Nose: a bit old style, with whiffs of sherry and touches of peat, all very welcome. Then a little iron (grandma’s tin box) and more hay, earth, something mineral, just a spoonful of mashed potatoes (Robuchon’s recipe, 50% potatoes, 50% fresh butter) and then droops of cough syrup. Definitely old skool, in a great way. Now that Lochside’s been closed/destroyed for so long, maybe it’s Benromach that’s become ‘the Springbank of the East.’ Mouth: really big at just 43%, maybe even a little harsh and certainly quite grassy. I get some artichoke liqueur, bitter herbs, wood… There’s a smokiness too, and even a wee saltiness. Liquorice wood, brown, tobacco, tea tannins… And it’s got this mustardy side again. Finish: quite long, a notch acrid, with some cinchona and various bitters. Also bitter oranges. Comments: certainly not a smoooooth one. Characterful. SGP:463 - 86 points.

Benromach 'Organic' (43%, OB, 2014)

Benromach 'Organic' (43%, OB, 2014) Three stars This one's approved by The Soil Association. How cool is that? Seriously, I've always wondered whether any nasty or nasty-ish elements were filtered out or concentrated during distillation. Pesticides, modified genes, fungicides and such... Colour: light gold. Nose: completely different from the 10. Much rounder, sweeter, easier, with much less of the 10’s ‘old-skoolness’. More vanilla, a touch of coconut, a little butterscotch, a few marshmallows… A very modern nose, pretty harmless. I guess this is quite young. Mouth: the oak feels, there’s quite a lot of cinnamon, green tea, nutmeg and such. Some earth too, and I’d say it’s much, much less mellow than the nose suggested. No coconut, for example, which is great news. Can’t stand coconut in my whisky! So we’re closer to the 10 on the palate. Finish: quite long, earthy, with a touch of oak. Gingery aftertaste, with one strawberry flavoured thing by Haribo. Comments: just like last time I tried these babies, I liked the 10 better. But I liked both. SGP:541 - 82 points.

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback
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