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

 

Tasting notes:
Whiskies 13,181
Other spirits 1,416
Guests 128

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (43) - Aberlour (101)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (29)
An Cnoc (27)
Ardbeg (37
4) - Ardmore (74)
Arran (
95) - Auchentoshan (96)
Auchroisk (33) - Aultmore (50)

Balblair (76) - Balmenach (37)
Balvenie (9
6) - Banff (49)
Ben Nevis (106)
Ben Wyvis (2)
Benriach (160) - Benrinnes (46)
Benromach (59) - Bladnoch (68)
Blair Athol (64) - Bowmore (435)
Braes of Glenlivet (37)
Brora (122)
Bruichladdich (254)
Bunnahabhain (291)

Caol Ila (500)
Caperdonich (89)
Cardhu (33) - Clynelish (3
30)
Coleburn (15)
Convalmore (2
5)
Cragganmore (71)
Craigduff (3) - Craigellachie (55)

Dailuaine (52) - Dallas Dhu (35)
Dalmore (108) - Dalwhinnie (24)
Deanston (30) - Dufftown (48)

Edradour (60)
Imperial (66) - Inchgower (52)
Inverleven (20)
Isle of Jura (98)

Kilchoman (31)
Kilkerran (12) - Kinclaith (7)
Kininvie (4)
- Knockando (35)

- Lagavulin (131)
Laphroaig (393) - Ledaig (91)
Linkwood (125) - Littlemill (109)
Loch Lomond (44)
Lochside (65)
Longmorn (195) - Longrow (66)

Macallan (272) - Macduff (63)
Mannochmore (37)
Millburn (21)
Miltonduff (64) - Mortlach (166)
Mosstowie (19)

Oban (25) - Octomore (19)
Old Fettercairn (29)
Old Pulteney (71)

Scapa (38) - Speyburn (34) - Speyside (16)
Springbank (27
2)
St-Magdalene (46)
Strathisla (95) - Strathmill (30)

 
 
Pete and Jack



2017
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

 
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,
2002-201
7

 


Scotch Legal Announcement

 
 

November 23, 2017


Whiskyfun

Craigellachie, as many as we can, with a breathtaking ending

Yeah well, not really. But Craigellachie a.k.a. Craig’ is another name that we’re seeing more and more often in all corners of the whisky world, especially at the indies’ who seem to have plenty these days. And let’s not forget that the owners are doing a tremendous job with it these days…

Craigellachie 2008/2014 (46%, Spirit & Cask, cask #1441)

Craigellachie 2008/2014 (46%, Spirit & Cask, cask #1441) Three stars A fairly young one to prepare our palate… Mind you, it’s five or six years old! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a baby whisky indeed, nicely malty, simple, well balanced, with some vanilla, shortbread, and stewed apples. Elementary and good. Mouth (neat): good, cake, sweet bread, custard, drops of orange juice, a touch of grass, hints of lemon… Indeed, elementary and good. Finish: medium, nice, lemony, malty, grassy. Comments: the fact that they have millions of such casks sleeping over there in Scotland does not detract from the fact that this a jolly good, flawless, easy spirit, worth a very good score in my book. But what was it again? SGP:441 - 82 points.

Another youngster…

Craigellachie 9 yo 2007/2016 (48.6%, Maltbarn, sherry)

Craigellachie 9 yo 2007/2016 (48.6%, Maltbarn, sherry) Four starsColour: golden straw. Nose: tons of cornflakes and popcorn, then butterscotch and shortbread. Add a spoonful of acacia honey, one of custard, and a good chunk of white chocolate, then perhaps a wee glass of late-harvest pinot gris. There. Mouth: indeed, in some cases, excellence knows no age. Not saying this is very complex, but balance and ‘general feeling’ are pretty perfect here, thanks to a good sherry cask. Some raisins, more butterscotch, more custard, orange zests, biscuits, a touch of caraway (sign of some rather active wood) and then more lemon. Lemon will save many a dram. Finish: medium, full, rather on lemon tarte. With meringue, s’il-vous-plaît. Comments: an excellent well-cared-of youngster. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Craigellachie 11 yo 2006/2017 (60.7%, Single Cask Collection)

Craigellachie 11 yo 2006/2017 (60.7%, Single Cask Collection) Three stars and a half More data to come. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: really raw, with some cut grass, exhaust fumes, paraffin, apple peel, lanoline… And some cane syrup in the background. A little mysterious, this. With water: nice touches of pineapples, all-Vitamin fruit juice, fresh pastries… Some youth shows, but that’s all right. Mouth (neat): pure lemon and apple juices, fifty-fifty. With water: another one that’s pleasantly elementary. Apple juice, lemon rinds, muesli. Finish: same, with good length and freshness. Green tea in the aftertaste, as often. Comments: perfectly palatable, flawless, and simple. How many casks again? SGP:551 - 83 points.

And now a flight of 21 yos…

Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2017 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry butt, cask #13740, 587 bottles)

Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2017 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry butt, cask #13740, 587 bottles) Four stars Colour: deep gold. Nose: artichokes and used matches a first sniffings, then a lot of tobacco (both pipe and cigars), then much more marmalade, raisins, leather, and a very large walnut cake. With water: older walnuts, malt, leather, and a little pine wood smoke. Or cones. Asparagus. Mouth (neat): that some sherried Craigellachie would resemble some Macallan won’t surprise us. That’s totally the case here, with these leathery prunes and raisins, a rather extravagant mentholness (hey!?), and a bag of quinces and kumquats. I like this palate much better than the nose, I have to say. With water: kumquat-forward! Finish: rather long, oloroso-y, on a sweet bitterness, Seville oranges, spicy chutneys… Comments: not the smoothest ex-butt whisky ever, but it does deliver. SGP:462 - 85 points.

Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2017 (59%, Hunter Laing, First Editions, sherry butt, cask #HL13305, 282 bottles)

Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2017 (59%, Hunter Laing, First Editions, sherry butt, cask #HL13305, 282 bottles) Three stars From a sister cask, I suppose… Colour: amber. Nose: no copy-and-pasting allowed on Whiskyfun, that would be too easy, but frankly, this is extremely similar. Same start on used matches, same development on tobacco and walnuts… Let’s say this one’s a little more mushroomy and earthy. With water: game and old balsamico, cooked oysters, black pudding, vase water… Not too sure it swims well, to tell you the truth. Mouth (neat): really, we’re very close, this one being just a little more extreme. For example, there are also metallic touches, as well as even more walnuts, which makes you think of some kind of very old fino sherry. With water: careful with water! Gets disjointed, should you add too much of it, two drops are enough. Finish: long, drying, on tea and chocolate. Comments: I think I liked the very good OMC better. Let them do any reduction themselves! SGP:362 - 82 points.

Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #11769, 290 bottles)

Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #11769, 290 bottles) Four stars and a half This one should be cleaner, according to the much paler colour… Colour: pale gold. Nose: oh yes, cleaner, and brighter, and much more on herbal teas. Honeysuckle, dog rose, chamomile, star anise… This is totally lovely! Including the sultanas and the dried apricots that are sitting on this cake. So to speak. With water: grandma’s pear cake. Dried rambutans. Mouth (neat): even more pears this time, bags of pears of all kinds, including these very specific notes of williams pears. Never found this many pears in any whiskies, Glenfiddich included. With water: more pears, with some fudge and toffee. I rather love this. Finish: medium, a tad sharper, but the pears keep singing. Comments: you would almost believe this is williams pear eau-de-vie matured for decades in a very good cask. SGP:551 - 88 points.

More, please…

Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #11343, 504 bottles)

Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #11343, 504 bottles) Five stars Well, not sure we’ll find that many pears in this one… Colour: pale gold. Nose: no, not pears this time, rather pine resins and saps, that famous walk in a forest with many mushrooms, old books (Jean-Paul Sartre, how about him?), and some kind of old white Bourgogne that would have gone a little off-track. With water: oh, parsley and lovage! I’m a sucker for those in whisky! Mouth (neat): oh good, very good! Bright, a tad mentholy and ‘properly bitter’ at first, then cake-y, but we’re talking oriental cakes. Baklavas, makrouts, angel hair,  all that… It is wonderful, I think. With water: perfect, waxy, very complex, with many herbs and many soft spices. Finish: why does it have to finish? Anyway, the finish is perfect. Comments: isn’t it great, when you’re exploring these large series, to come across some pure gem that could have gone un-noticed? SGP:461 - 91 points (I’ve added one point to make sure that this will get noticed, ha-ha).

I had thought the OB that we’ll have as the last Craig’ today would have won it, and easily. But after the latest DL, I’m not too sure about that anymore…

Craigellachie 18 yo 1999/2017 (54.1%, OB, Exceptional Cask Series, barrel, cask #302656)

Craigellachie 18 yo 1999/2017 (54.1%, OB, Exceptional Cask Series, barrel, cask #302656) Five starsTremble, mere mortal… Colour: pale gold. Nose: what? Chalk? Limestone? Damp clay? Plaster? This is completely different, from another register, and yet I love this kind of nose that I would call ‘Sancerre-y’, and when I say Sancerre, I’m meaning Chavignol. Wine geeks will understand… So, chalk so far. With water: a superb mineral nose indeed. This is whisky for wine people. I mean, white wine people. Mouth (neat): oh my god, this is Prost vs. Senna. Custard and high-end cider mixed with crushed chalk, plus some macha tea. Ooh, a close call, for sure, as this is magnificent. With water: it’s going to be a tie, but it’s about time you’d call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade. Finish: long, splendid, greatly chiselled, mineral and lemony. A little vanilla in the aftertaste, but hat is all right. Comments: there’s an Old-Clynelish quality to this wee Craigellachie. Exceptional Cask? No marketing, plain truth. Who said ‘for once’, who? SGP:452 - 91 points.

I know, I know, okay, an older OB…

Craigellachie 31 yo (52.2%, OB, batch #04-6137, 2016)

Craigellachie 31 yo (52.2%, OB, batch #04-6137, 2016) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: it’s simply got more tiny aromas from longer aging in good wood, in this case wee flowers and a few lactic smells. Don’t get me wrong, this is pretty perfect. I especially enjoy these notes of wormwood, genepy, chamomile, cumin seeds, hay… With water: metal polish, old copper coins, rhubarb, cress… The kind of notes that only come with proper aging! HInts of pineapple and coconut, that must be the cask. Mouth (neat): superb, really. It’s all on herbs, and we’re really getting into tinier ones this time. Borage, woodruff, celery, sweetgrass, wild carrots… This kind of profile is rare, and should be cherished. We could take care of that, Bacardi… With water: gets Thai. Seriously, we’re having Thai food now, with this superb bittersweet and spicy style, in all elegance. Finish: rather long, getting a tad oaky now, which will make it lose two points in my book. Dura Lex, sed Lex. Comments: so yeah, same score yet again. Superlative whiskies, lets’ just hope that their famous neighbours will manage to produce this perfect kind again in the future, because at the moment... SGP:561 - 90 points.

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

 

 

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November 21, 2017


Whiskyfun

Two whiskies of Jerez

It’s while in Jerez last week that beyond the terrific finos, palos and amontillados (not too forget Sanlucar’s manzanillas, a proper steal at between 6 and 10€ a bottle), we came across some rare whiskies ‘made’ by some of the larger bodegas. Of course, we couldn’t not try them…

Nomad Outland Whisky (41.3%, OB, Gonzalez Byass, blended whisky, +/-2017)

Nomad Outland Whisky (41.3%, OB, Gonzalez Byass, blended whisky, +/-2017) Three stars and a half A strange idea, some Scottish blend finished for one year in some PX casks, right in Jerez at Gonzalez Byass instead of in Scotland. Does that make it a Spanish whisky? Not too sure, but it’s advertised as ‘breaking the unwritten rules of whisky’. Colour: amber. Nose: rather fresh and rounded, with notes of ripe pears, pear liqueur, a little caramel, ad getting drier after five seconds, rather on hay and English tea (breakfast blend). A rather pleasant nose, not too fluffy. Then rather walnut cake, with some toffee and fudge. Mouth: really nice, on mocha, cappuccino, raisins, fudge, a touch of nutmeg, bergamot, a wee bit of caraway… Good work by Gonzalez’s own Richard Paterson, Antonio Flores. Finish: unexpectedly long, on pear cake, raisin, and a little cinnamon. Salted butter fudge in the aftertaste. Comments: some excellent surprise, and without any cloyingly sticky PX notes (whisky’s newer botox). SGP:551 – 84 points.

Valdespino ‘Malt Whisky’ (43.5%, OB, blended malt, +/-2017)

Valdespino ‘Malt Whisky’ (43.5%, OB, blended malt, +/-2017) Two stars This is a blend of +/-80% Spanish malt whisky (DYC?) with +/-20% Scotch malt, further aged in truly old ex-solera oloroso and palo cortado butts for around ten years. Not bespoke seasoned sherry casks! Colour: gold. Nose: surprisingly light, cake-y, dry, with notes of cornflakes, cut grass, and a little burnt caramel. It’s easy, rather simple, and rather in blend territories instead of malt. Reminds me of VAT69. Mouth: rather fair, with cereals, touches of molasses, toasted bread, a little chlorophyll. Gets then dry, grassier, a little burnt. Burnt bread forgotten in the toaster, walnuts. Finish: medium, dry. More grass, burnt caramel, toasted bread. Comments: quite good, but dispensable. To be sipped while in Jerez, while admiring some of those wonderful black sherry botas. SGP:351 - 74 points.

 

 

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November 20, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild, back from Jerez
Angus  

Notes From Jerez...

It is testament to the quality and character of the sherries we tasted in Jerez that the whiskies really took something of a back seat throughout the week we were there. And what a week it was! For all the bluster and marketing gruel spooned out about sherry casks by the whisky industry, if you want to truly understand what a 'sherry cask' is in terms of modern whisky maturation then you should go and visit Jerez and its remarkable winemakers.

 

The difference between a traditional sherry cask and the journey they undergo - the 'curation' if you like - and the brand new, wood technology laden cheap Oloroso seasoned examples, is quite staggering. If they even actually come from the sherry producing region at all.  

 

However, the trip was not a negative one. If anything it was celebratory and revelatory in the truest senses of those words. We all came away with deep and lasting impressions about the beauty of the various traditional types of sherry produced there and the skills and passion of the people that make them. As a trip it was both humbling and profound; joyful and, as ever with these mini adventures, far too short!

 

 

The following is a selection of some of the sherried whiskies that various friends brought along to open on the trip. We had discussed making a list or some notes for the numerous terrific sherries that we tried but we felt that perhaps it would not have done the liquids due justice.

 

 

Glen Olo 10 yo ‘Old malt whiskies’ (no less than 75 proof, El Vino & Co Ltd., bottled 1970s)

Glen Olo 10 yo ‘Old malt whiskies’ (no less than 75 proof, El Vino & Co Ltd., bottled 1970s) A rare bottling from the 1970s by London based wine merchant El Vino. At the time they had their own sherry casks which they would fill whiskies into. There are some Bunnahabhains and Highland Parks out there as well with a similar label. I assume from the label wording that this must be a blended malt - although whether it was fully matured in El Vino’s sherry casks or just finished I’m not sure. Colour: Teak. Nose: Polished leather, stewed prunes, figs, überchocolate, praline, mole sauce. It’s a deep, bassy, richly earthy and minty sherry. These kinds of thin after eight mints with touches of garden peat, forest mulch, wet leaves and cocoa powder. A rising sootiness with time along with some aromas of burnt fir wood.

 

 

Mouth: Again superbly rich, herbal and resinous. A beautifully nervous and bristling sherry character. Some notably peppery notes and a little chilli heat. The kind of old school, ancient sherry cask style which is totally extinct in whisky these days. More bitter dark chocolate, dark fruit compote, Guinness cake and crushed pecan nuts. Some graphite, espresso, walnut oil, a lick of creosote and some pine resin. Finish: Long, with a soft and lingering earthiness, sultanas and some rather spicy, vigorous tannins. Comments: If it’s a finish there is no sign of it whatsoever. Majestic old style sherry and a surprisingly powerful and muscular palate. Although the mouth does remain slightly too bitter which prevents it from going over the 90 mark but it’s a fine, old style sherried dram. SGP: 452 - 88 points.  

 

Port Ellen 28 yo 1978/2006 (56.1%, Douglas Laing, Old & Rare, 212 bottles) Port Ellen 28 yo 1978/2006 (56.1%, Douglas Laing, Old & Rare, 212 bottles) Colour: Light amber. Nose: Coal hearths and welly boots. A big and pure Port Ellen character. Tar, fish nets, rope and a rather crystalline peat with hessian and various smoked fish notes such as kippers and smoked mussels in brine. Some lemon rind, wet beach pebbles and grilled oysters. Very coastal notes of dried kelp (always good to toss in some kelp as Marcel helpfully suggests) Serge follows this up with the rear right tyre of a 1976 Porsche 930 turbo after a lengthy session on the Nurburgring - I can’t confirm this personally but Serge has a high racing pedigree I’m told. Maybe it’s just the atmosphere but there’s also a hint of a rather potent Manzanilla. Saline, brisk and full of Atlantic vigour and ozone. With water: Creosote, much more earthiness - maybe even some hints of rancio or balsamico - then more mineral aspects such as wet gravel and beach sand.  

 

Mouth: Rather typically dirty, oily, fishy and great. A dead fish on Santa Lucina beach found by a Scotsman in damp socks (thanks Phil!). Elsewhere there is mercurochrome, TCP, smoked mead, peat oils and further dunnage notes of earth, hessian, camphor and lamp oil. A big Port Ellen, full of bluster, oils, salt, medicine and this ever-present grubby quality that is so typical of Port Ellen at these ages. Serge finds it veers a tad too close towards sweetness, however, he enjoys these elusive notes of a late-night, part time flamenco dancer (I don’t know either). With water: a few glimmers of green fruits, some more rope and hessian notes. More tar - tar liqueur - dried herbs and some cured meats. Finish: Lengthy, oily, tarry and inevitably earthy with that unshakeable and charming PE dirtiness. Comments: A rather great Port Ellen. It’s quite tough as so many of these casks are but it’s undeniably impressive whisky. The sherry and the whisky are perhaps not totally integrated, which is the only flaw of any real note. SGP: 347 - 90 points.  

 

Braes of Glenlivet 19 yo 1979/1999 (58.1%, Signatory Vintage, sherry butt, cask #9294, 658 bottles) Braes of Glenlivet 19 yo 1979/1999 (58.1%, Signatory Vintage, sherry butt, cask #9294, 658 bottles) Colour: Gold (or ‘Kumquat orange’ according to Jeroen). Nose: A mix of nuts - trail mix that sort of thing - barley, cereals, some buttered toast, some orange peel and some pleasingly light touches of wax and motor oil. Truth be told it’s somewhat boring. There’s also some milk chocolate, some Guinness (Serge drinks it by the flagon, you’d be surprised), bran flakes, golden grahams (clearly this is a breakfast whisky). With water: Greener and more floral with notes of crushed dock leaf, chocolate limes and millionaire shortbread.  

 

Mouth: It improves somewhat with these notes of beeswax, pollen, some sugar puffs, runny honey, a scattering of spices and then some green tea. With time some graphite oil, some dried herbs and a little bergamot. Pleasant but still a little mundane if truth be told. Although Serge finds some Export Guinness this time (he drinks the stronger stuff at weekends and during business meetings). I’d add a few mulling spiced as well. With water:  chocolate digestives, plums, orange oils and more sweet, baked goods. Serge says some kind of herbal tea but he is failing to identify which one. A short while later he declares it to be rosemary tea. Finish: A reasonable length. Jon declares it to be filled with notes of chocolate orange as he munches his way through a large slice of chocolate covered orange. There are some further notes of Darjeeling tea, liquorice, oatcake and a little flourish of chocolate. Comments: I remain somewhat unconvinced but Serge is adamant that it is ‘not too bad - seriously’. As he rightly notes: there are several notably superior sister casks which are quite a bit darker in colour. SGP: 541 - 84 points.  

 

Glendronach 1970/1990 (56%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #513-518) Glendronach 1970/1990 (56%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #513-518) A very rare one. We are excited. Colour: An aged mahogany castanet doused in VORS Oloroso. (Thanks to Phil and Jon for their peerless observations). Nose: Dense dried dark fruits - mostly dates and figs but also a few prunes. (Small figs, big figs, diced figs, figs from Turkey, figs from northern Yemen, dried figs, wet figs, old figs, figs with wifi, figs that might fly...) Dark chocolate, wet earth (possibly the earth underneath a fig tree) and a few dried herbs. Marcel suggests - incorrectly - that there may be sulphur. But he is, as you might well imagine, wrong. Maduro cigars, black olives, umami paste, Toscani cigars (I think Serge wants a cigar), a few hints of wild strawberry and eventually some sarsaparilla root. With water: a little softer and breadier in some ways but also fatter and more emphatic. More peppery, more fruity, more tertiary notes of toasted seeds and now also coal scuttles and hints of tar and lapsang souchong.  

 

Mouth: Huge, dense and dripping with treacle, bitter chocolate, earth, fig rolls, dates, muesli, strawberry liqueur, cocktail bitters and mulling spices. Some green pepper, salted liquorice, old pipe tobacco and aged balsamico. Also an intermittent and beautifully subtle rancio. Serge wishes to add the blackest of black pepper. Pepper and cloves. He thinks it is really peppery. With water: Beautiful! Wonderfully earthy, oily and alive with dried fruits, molasses, aged cognac, rum soaked sultanas and some caramelised Demerara sugar. Finish: wonderfully long and echoing with wet earth, dried leaves, coal hearths, balsamic, raspberry compote... the list goes on and on. Majestic! Comments: Not really a surprise, but an utter pleasure. Another of these poetic old sherry casks married with terrific distillate. SGP: 552 - 93 points.  

 

Macallan-Glenlivet 29 yo 1965/1994 (49%, Signatory Vintage, cask #1058, 256 bottles) Macallan-Glenlivet 29 yo 1965/1994 (49%, Signatory Vintage, cask #1058, 256 bottles) Colour: Amber. Nose: A honeycomb. Pollen, beeswax, honeysuckle and wild flowers all caught up in a soft, undulating and superbly elegant waxiness. Many honeys and honeydews. Some mirabelle jam and quince jelly. Notes of green and mint teas, lamp oil, menthol, eucalyptus oil and then some beautifully subtle herbal notes which converge on old yellow Chartreuse. Goes on with mothballs, cough syrup, cherry tunes and various other subtle medical notes. Some tobacco leaf notes, a cigar humidor and an old pipe. Rather excellent and straightforward. Not overtly complex but all the flavours and beautiful and precise.  

 

Mouth: A cavalcade of honeys, resins, waxes, fruit compotes and crystallised fruit peels. More herbs, some old spice boxes, coal, earth, maraschino cherries and then more of these dunnage notes which also suggest paraffin wax and assorted green fruits. Maybe a little coconut as well. Feels again quite soft and straightforward but still very beautiful. At this point Serge apologises but he is finding figs again. Finish: Long and mentholated with more notes of aged tobacco and soft wood spices. Comments: Amazing old Macallan. The kind of bottle which is totally embarrassing to taste next to many of the modern bottlings. SGP: 431 - 93 points.   

 

Glen Albyn 34 yo 1967 (51.3%, Kingsbury, cask #3920, 239 bottles) Glen Albyn 34 yo 1967 (51.3%, Kingsbury, cask #3920, 239 bottles) Colour: Mahogany. Nose: A rather earthy sherry with many notes of precious hardwoods, cloves, cigar humidors, dried mushroom powder, tobacco leaf and a slightly salty note, reminiscent of an old Palo Cortado. Also rather meaty with notes of beef stock, marmite, cured pork and a background note of earthen floor and camphor. Really rather dense and organic with an elegant complexity that veers globally towards earthiness. There are fruits in the form of dark, dried fruits and various fruit compote. Some figs, which Serge will be pleased to hear I’m sure. With time some notes of old balsamico and farmyard emerge, which I find quite ‘Glen Albyn-ey’. With water: Ahh, more fruits! Fresh strawberries, more figs, some dates and then even something that alludes to medicine with these notes of distant cough medicine.  

 

Mouth: There is a strangeness to it undeniably. Notes of flat coca cola, soft green fruits, molasses and pomegranate syrup. But also a continuation of these earthy qualities. Some walnut wine, balsamic, flat root beer and more of these slightly salty marmite notes. A scraping of marmite across buttered, warm brown toast. With water: Now more raisins, treacle sponge, tamarind jam, more crushed nuts (ouch!) and more notes of cola cubes and cured meats. Finish: Long and converging on menthol, mint tea, motor oil, paraffin and some black pepper and black olives in oil. Some fading herbal notes as well. Comments: I think the cask was really great here and did a lot of the leg work, but of course 1960s Glen Albyn was also a bit more positively characterful than some of the rather more funky 1970s  counterparts. All in all this is rather delicious stuff! SGP: 432 - 91 points.  

 

Glen Mhor 20 yo 1965/1986 (46%, Cadenhead, Sherrywood) Glen Mhor 20 yo 1965/1986 (46%, Cadenhead, Sherrywood)   Colour: Amber. Nose: Moss, wet earth, walnuts, aged oloroso, coal dust, old leather, a little wax and some hessian. Time brings out more obvious notes of raisins, cognac soaked sultanas, Dundee cake and damson jam. Goes on with more cakey and earthy notes, some VSOP Armagnac, some brambles and a few delicate touches of metal polish and eventual mineral notes. Furniture polish, chamois leather, steel wool, toasted sunflower seeds and some dried rosemary. Mouth: More earth, dunnage, hessian, prune juice, coal hearths, balsamico and a dollop of raspberry jam. Goes on with herbal liqueurs, some old Benedictine, then orange oils and orange bitters. Some gravel, aged pinot noir, a leafy tobacco note, lapsang souchong tea and some very soft notes of bergamot and bay leaf. Some maraschino notes and maybe a sip of a decent Old Fashioned. Finish: Drying, long and full of aged Boal Madeira, game notes like cured Pheasant, throat lozenges, boiler sheds and a resinous, crystalised fruit note. Comments: Again, these Inverness distilleries were really hitting higher notes in the 1960s. This is another terrific old Cadenhead dumpy and a really benchmark example of Glen Mhor. A very muscular and satisfying old highland style, sherried dram. SGP: 431 - 92 points.  

 

Thanks to Jeroen, Marcel, Patrick, Phil & Simon, Jon, Thomas, Hans, Serge, Luc, Emmanuel and, of course, el papá: Olivier. Muchas Gracias Olivier!  

 

 

November 19, 2017


Whiskyfun

Extreme malternatives,
Caroni to the dregs

I’ll say it again, I’m tasting rum from a whisky lover’s point of view, and I just cannot avoid comparing them to Scottish distilleries, which may infuriate many good people. So in my very simplistic world, Neisson is Macallan, Foursquare is Springbank, Hampden is Ardbeg, Worthy Park is Lagavulin, Diplomatico is Loch Dhu ;-), and Caroni is Port Ellen. So let’s have a few Port Ellens… I mean, Caronis. And vertically, at that! But first, two ‘light’ ones, because remember, Caroni were making both high-ester ‘heavy’ ones and lighter, lower-ester ones. Although it’s not all about esters, but anyway…

Caroni 24 yo 1982/2006 ‘light’ (55.2%, Velier, Trinidad, 820 bottles)

Caroni 24 yo 1982/2006 ‘light’ (55.2%, Velier, Trinidad, 820 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: dark amber. Nose: not much tar indeed, but a lot of shoe and metal polish, with a feeling of petroly riesling that I just enjoy a lot. Walnut cake, smoked beef, oxtail soup, and the largest chocolate cake ever. With water: rather more metal polish, old copper kettle, old coins, old Jaguar… Mouth (neat): high oak extraction, huge liquorice, and a touch of citrus. This is almost liquid liquorice, in fact – and I love liquorice. With water: swims like a champ, really. Perfect diesely oranges and a few ashes. Works a treat. Finish: rather long, rather on oranges and smoke, and at times you’d think of Lagavulin 16 (some older White Horse bottlings). Comments: well, light, everything’s relative, as Einstein used to say (c’mon S., that was weaker than weak.) I found less oak than in other 1982s, which is good of course. SGP:462 - 89 points.

Caroni 23 yo 1982/2005 ‘light’ (59.2%, Velier, Trinidad, 1227 bottles)

Caroni 23 yo 1982/2005 ‘light’ (59.2%, Velier, Trinidad, 1227 bottles) Five stars Colour: coffee. Nose: a pack of little bretzels, and then mole sauce, walnut stain, barbecued steak (burnt, really), chocolate, black tea, fumes, carbon paper, and a handful of coffee beans. Should sum it up. With water: gets very dry. Basalt, ink, lapsang souchong, coffee… Mouth (neat): almost agricole at first sips, with oranges and always this chocolaty, almost cake-y side, but we do become much more petroly after a short while, with oranges that have macerated in kerosene (what?) and our beloved Jaffa cakes. Not heavy for sure, but not very light either. Some good coffee as well. Nah, it’s excellent. With water: smoky jams galore. Marmalade and cigars, in other words. Finish: long, coating, toffee-ish, rather smoky. Let’s keep using whisky references if you like, we could say this is akin to some lighter, easier Caol Ila Manager’s Dram. I agree, it’s not that light. Comments: you know what? I wouldn’t have told the masses about the ‘style’ of these Caronis. Was this really ‘light’? Brilliant bottle, oh and brilliant labels. SGP:452 - 91 points.

Caroni 20 yo 1997/2017 (64.8%, Silver Seal, Trinidad, cask #67, 212 bottles)

Caroni 20 yo 1997/2017 (64.8%, Silver Seal, Trinidad, cask #67, 212 bottles) Five stars This will be the only ‘young vintage’ we’ll have today, and I don’t even know whether this is ‘light’ or ‘heavy’ Caroni. Colour: amber. Nose: light, perhaps. A little alcohol at first (fruit eau-de-vie), then rather fermenting fruits and vegetables, light manure, French beans, a little brine… It’s only after a good five minutes that heavier notes emerge, such as coal tar and smoked ham. With water: fresh paint, putty, and tarmac. Probably not ‘light’ Caroni. Mouth (neat): bang. Diesel oil, gherkin brine, green lemons (not lime), tincture of iodine, fresh coriander, green wood… With water: love it because there isn’t any over-woodiness, which lets the distillate talk. And boy it’s got things to say! Tar, rubber, creosote, ashes, ink, tapenade… But it’s not stuffy, some elegance remains in the middle (kind of). Finish: long, a tad rounder, but this mixture of smoked water with lemon juice and olive brine just works. Comments: a clearer, more distillate-driven one. Probably European stock (as opposed to tropical stock). SGP:342 - 90 points.

So, we said the 1980s…

Caroni 22 yo 1984/2006 ‘heavy’ (54.6%, Velier, Trinidad, 580 bottles)

Caroni 22 yo 1984/2006 ‘heavy’ (54.6%, Velier, Trinidad, 580 bottles) Five stars Full tropical aging this time, and fully at Caroni’s. Colour: full amber. Nose: yeah well, this is a good example of some heavy Caroni that’s lighter than light Caroni. In truth this could be some excellent agricole, with bananas and roasted peanuts, plus notes of croissants au beurre (yep I’m French) and the faintest whiffs of cooked asparagus. Rose petals as well, blood oranges… With water: wonderful old perfume and notes of old garage tools, engine oil, and ten thousand carbon papers. Mouth (neat): not a lame duck at all, I just love this marmalade/petrol combo. It’s not very complex, but what it does it does it very well. Smoked oranges, bergamots, sweet curry, bitter chocolate and a liquoricy tar. Crunching tyres (don’t try that at home!) With water: more garage-y than ever, leather polish, motor oil, plastics… Finish: long, a tad acrid, and very petroly. Comments: it’s not complex, but I just love this garage-y style. Don’t some distilleries make biofuel as well? SGP:364 - 90 points.

Caroni 22 yo 1983/2005 ‘heavy’ (52%, Velier, Trinidad, 20986 bottles)

Caroni 22 yo 1983/2005 ‘heavy’ (52%, Velier, Trinidad, 20986 bottles) Four stars and a half A huge batch this time, so one of the most famous Caronis, at a gracious strength at that. Oh and of course, when we write ‘Trinidad’, that would be ‘Trinidad and Tobago’. Colour: dark gold. Nose: all what’s to be expected, without any extreme aromas, which is logical with very large batches. Some metal polish, old rusty nails, carbon paper again, fresh concrete, fumes, then rather cedar wood and ‘new magazine’. Pleasantly dry. With water: shoe polish, really, plus cough syrup. Mouth (neat): excellent. Lemon, tar, brine, smoked water (that does exist, you can buy some online!), fish oil, almond and olives together in some brine, and a little oregano. In short, you could pour this over a proper Italian pizza (not the junk by large chains, mind you). With water: a tad sweeter and rounder. Our beloved Seville oranges are back (posting this while I’m in Andalucia, by the way). Finish: long, tarry, full, satisfying, just not totally and utterly complex. But I just love this style. Comments: not quite 90-material in my book, but we’re oh-so close! SGP:363 - 88 points.

Caroni 22 yo 1983/2008 ‘heavy’ (55%, Velier, Trinidad, 1500 bottles)

Caroni 22 yo 1983/2008 ‘heavy’ (55%, Velier, Trinidad, 1500 bottles) Four stars Full aging in Trinidad again. Colour: gold. Nose: a rather rounder, cake-ier one, lighter than some light ones. Could you smoke croissants? It’s much shier than the others, so far. Hints of turnips and celeriac. With water: some soft spices, curry, ginger, speculoos… Mouth (neat): not that light, much good, much lemony, much blade-y, with good tar and liquorice. Perhaps the simplest one so far, but as expected, it still works a treat. Big lemon. With water: the spices come out again. Indonesian goreng, satay, basil, lemongrass… Finish: rather long, with good tar, lemon, and more sharp Asian herbs. Thai basil and such… Comments: all fine, all very Caroni-y, just not the most emphatic of them all IMHO. SGP:462 - 86 points.

Caroni 23 yo 1982/2005 ‘heavy’ (62%, Velier, Trinidad, 1360 bottles)

Caroni 23 yo 1982/2005 ‘heavy’ (62%, Velier, Trinidad, 1360 bottles) Four stars and a half Fully aged in Trinidad (and Tobago). Colour: amber. Nose: this time it’s rather the oak that’s speaking out first, with some vanilla, butterscotch, millionaire shortbread… Then chocolate, peaches and pears… Certainly not ‘heavy’, you could even think of Glenmorangie, if that rings a bell to you. Very softish… With water: some muddy, earthy aromas, but otherwise, it remains all softish and pastry-like. Marzipan, notes of new linoleum, leatherette… Mouth (neat): it’s another rum! Sharp lemons, gherkins, zests, grapefruits… You cannot make more blade-y and angular! With water: wonderful now, ink, petrol, lemon juice, almond milk. Perhaps even a little barley water. No? Finish: medium, a little more brine-y. Lemon juice and myrtle liqueur. Shoe polish in the aftertaste, this is Caroni after all. Comments: soft at times, roaring at other times, not really ‘heavy’ in any case, but it’s great rum. SGP:452 - 88 points.

So you want some heavy stuff?

Caroni 23 yo 1982/2005 ‘heavy’ (77.3%, Velier, Trinidad, 123 bottles)

Caroni 23 yo 1982/2005 ‘heavy’ (77.3%, Velier, Trinidad, 123 bottles) Five stars I totally love it that at 77,3% vol. (a personal record, I think, unless some Pappy-ish stuff…), they would have felt the need to add that this was bottled at full proof. So let’s burn our nostrils and taste buds.. I mean, let’s try to try it… Colour: amber. Nose: well, it doesn’t quite destroy you, hit you between your ears, and drill a whole into your head, not quite. Nail polish, acetone, and vanilla, I’d say. With water: tarry cakes and liquoricy teas. Shoes polish, lapsang souchong, ashtray, green olives, yellow peaches. What’s not to like? Mouth (neat): it’s a tad bourbony indeed, and gets then very petroly. In fact, this is rather brilliant, you just have to take half a drop at a time. Or M.?L+DY6 you’re DJGr”(gd system error::: dead. With water: wonderful, ultra-sharp, olive-y, brine-y, very lemony, blade-y, ultra-sharp, olive-y, brine-y, very lemony, blade-y, ultra-sharp, olive-y, brine-y, very lemony, blade-y… Right, right. Finish: I sometimes call these spirits ‘blades’. This is a Japanese sword as seen in Kill Bill. Right, a katana. Comments: it’s not often that very high strength spirits are very good, natural low strengths are usually much more complex in my experience. But there are exceptions, such as this Lemmy Kilmister of a rum… SGP:363 - 90 points.

Isn’t all this becoming a little too mad? Time to have a very last one, for the road?

Caroni 24 yo 1982/2006 ‘heavy’ (58.3%, Velier, Trinidad, 4600 bottles)

Caroni 24 yo 1982/2006 ‘heavy’ (58.3%, Velier, Trinidad, 4600 bottles) Four stars and a halfLook at this colour… Colour: coffee. Nose: some oak in there, but that’s rather cedar wood, cigars, dried flowers, humidor, prunes (and I mean well-ripened prunes), maraschino, liquoricy oak, new teak, thin mints, ristretto coffee, camphory embrocations… You get the drift, I suppose. With water: sublime! Old precious woods, the dashboard of an old Daimler, wood oils, cellulosic varnish, rosewood, thuja, freshly sawn fir wood, tiger balm… Mouth (neat): powah. Cedar wood, Havana cigar, menthol essence, Dutch liquorice, tarry salt, dried grapefruit zests (restaurants put them into their ovens, they’re quite tasty when thin and dried). With water: lemons! Lemon and menthol always tango very well, in my experience and opinion. Sure there is some oak, but we remain below any critical limits. Finish: very long, lemony, spicy, with a little ginger and a fistful of coriander seeds. Comments: this one was heavy, corpulent, and actually rather intrusive. Tends to try to take control, do not let him do that. SGP:462 - 89 points.

I think we need to stop now. See you tomorrow… (and thank you Cyril!)

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

 

 

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November 17, 2017


Whiskyfun

More blends without any malt

That would be grain whisky. In other words, high-column neutral distillate plus ‘wood’. Indeed, in the case of grain, the wood makes the whisky, or so I’ve been told… Let’s have a few new(ish) ones, randomly, while remembering that by and large, I am NOT  a fan of grain whisky. So, with a few minor preemptive apologies, here we go…

Port Dundas 12 yo 2004/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular)

Port Dundas 12 yo 2004/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular) This baby was just bottled. Twelve years old grain whisky, not much hope to be had at WF Towers. Colour: white wine. Nose: hellllo? Anybody in there? Nothing, perhaps just a little light vanilla-ed sweet alcohol, Bacardi-style (talking about their rums). Hello? Mouth: no no no no no no no… This is empty spirit, this has nothing inside, and we’ve known vodkas that were more to our liking. Finish: none. Comments: Douglas Laing, I absolutely adore what you’re doing, your malts are terrific, your blended malts are smart and great and excellent, and full of humour and spirit at that, but these young single grains? They’re the Kenny Gs or the Leroy Newmans of whisky if you ask me. I know blends are down, but under a funny label, I’m sure you could make better use of these very silent spirits. I know, who am I, etc… Now, the official Port Dundasses from two or three years ago were even worse, I agree… SGP:420 - 65 points.
Invergordon 30 yo (55%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular) Two stars This is a  brand new one, we’ve haven’t got much data yet, I’m afraid (at time of writing). But for the sake of science… Colour: gold. Nose: why Invergordon’s always a little better, I don’t know. Vanilla, pencil shavings, butterscotch, sawdust. There. With water: more of all that. Sweet wood and sawdust, plus sweet maize and Kellogg’s worst. I mean best. Mouth (neat): it’s okay, sweet, maize-y, with some bubblegum, Starbucks’ café latte (I know, I know, apologies) and popcorn. With water: it would go down. More café latte, cappuccino, caramel, shortbread, vanilla… Finish: short, and very Starbucky (apologies again). Comments: it’s fair, it’s fair, but good sherry casks are always better in my opinion. Innocuous whisky for in-laws, I’d say. SGP:430 - 72 points.

Okay, let’s change country…

Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky (40%, OB, South Africa, single grain, +/-2017)

Bain’s Cape Mountain Whisky (40%, OB, South Africa, single grain, +/-2017) one star and a half This was rather good when I first tried it back in 2013 (WF 75) but that one was clocking at 43% vol. while this is only 40. Colour: pale gold. Nose: extremely light, with vanilla and croissants at first nosing, then more unusual aromas, such as broom and  hazelnut cream. Very light nonetheless. Wood glue. Mouth: very easy, nutty, almost Nutella-y, with some vanilla over a very light body. Very thin, but not repulsive. Finish: short, sweet, caramely, rather on cakes. Akin to some very light bourbons (no, no names!) Comments: goes unnoticed, but that’s already a great achievement. Not a proper sipper, for sure, but on a lot of ice, that should kind of work. SGP:320 - 68 points.

Aren’t we struggling a bit?...

Cambus 25 yo 1991/2017 (57.4%, Dram Fool, sherry butt) No pictures at time of writing, I’m afraid. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: Haribos and nail polish remover, plus something acetic that reminds me of… Hampden. No, really. With water:  fermenting vegetables, manure, dead animals… Mouth (neat): kind of good, but whacky and weird. Rotting turnips and kiwis, sour butter, mad white Beaujolais… What? What’s sure is that this butt hasn’t seen any sherry since, say 1920? With water: whaaaaat? Finish: medium, on plastic and more rotting vegetables. Sawdust and carrots, perhaps. Comments: I don’t know what to say, except that this is rather humorous whisky. Bottling a good joke, how smart is that? SGP:330 - 50 points.

Carsebridge 52 yo 1964/2017 (40.8%, Dram Fool)

Carsebridge 52 yo 1964/2017 (40.8%, Dram Fool) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: there, this is much better. Classic cappuccino and tropical fruits at first, then aged pina colada, coconut oil, then wild strawberries, wild raspberries, and I have to say that all that is rather subtle and sublime! Cranberry ice cream, perhaps? Mouth: hesitates for a few seconds, and gets then wholly pina-colada-ish, never too oaky, unexpectedly fresh and clean, and very delicately fruity. Wild strawberries again, that is sublime indeed. The whole remains slightly fragile, but it would never get off the road. An old Ferrari, in other words. Finish: unexpectedly long, and very tropical, with more coconut water, very soft pineapple juice, and probably a little papaya juice. Comments: a lady whisky that stood the test of time. One of the Helen Mirrens of whisky. Perhaps. SGP:530 - 88 points.

Dumbarton 30 yo 1987/2017 (52.1%, Single Cask Collection)

Dumbarton 30 yo 1987/2017 (52.1%, Single Cask Collection) Two stars All right, let’s remember that Dumbarton was a huge whisky plant, with gigantic column stills… Colour: white wine. Nose: glue and fruit jellies, plus ‘industrial’ chocolate. Mars bars, if you like. Touches of tropical fruits, guavas, papayas… But all that is very discreet. With water: no, water kind of kills it. Old plastics. Mouth (neat): nah, it’s rather good, it’s got more punch than others, and it’s got oranges. You can’t beat oranges in whisky, even in poor grain whiskies. With water: a few saltier tones, I don’t quite know where those are coming from. From the cask’s previous content? Finish: short, a tad flabby. Remember, this is grain whisky. Comments: not an easy session. Let’s put an end to this madness. SGP:530 - 75 points.

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November 16, 2017


Whiskyfun

A Blair Athol session

I know, Blair Athol and crazy are two expressions that do not go well together, but anyone who’s tried the old official Blair Athols will know that this malt whisky can be utterly splendid. Let’s have quite a few of them, more or less randomly this time…

Blair Athol 25 yo 1988/2014 (59.6%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butts, casks #6920+6924, 551 bottles)

Blair Athol 25 yo 1988/2014 (59.6%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butts, casks #6920+6924, 551 bottles) Two stars and a half It’s not unusual that with small batches, 1+1=3. We’re talking casks… Colour: amber. Nose: a touch of sulphur at first, then warm praline, cakes from the oven, burning fir wood, and roasted chestnuts. Not totally sure… With water: bizarre, bizarre, it is bizarre. Saltpetre, old oils, tin cans, earth and concrete, rotting oranges… Mouth (neat): a tad gritty and oddly earthy, then very gingery, a little sour, and more and more on bitter oranges. Not too sure… With water: better, but this sourness is a tad odd. Ginger, tonic water, hardboiled egg, Worcester sauce… Finish: rather long, rather unlikely. Tabasco, Campari, raisins. Comments: not too sure about this one… I find it rather un-Signatory, but let’s move on… SGP:462 - 78 points.

Let us insist…

Blair Athol 26 yo 1988/2015 (56.1%, Signatory Vintage, wine treated butt, casks #6846, 624 bottles)

Blair Athol 26 yo 1988/2015 (56.1%, Signatory Vintage, wine treated butt, casks #6846, 624 bottles) Three stars Always loved it that Signatory would tell it when it’s a ‘wine treated’ cask, while many other whisky people would just keep quiet… Colour: amber. Nose: treated or not, this is much gentler, rounder, better balanced, and… well, smoother. Milk chocolate, chestnut purée, apple pie, brioche… With water: whiffs of brake pads and plasticine. Mouth (neat): punchy, and really all on chestnut purée. They make a great one in Ardèche, France, you should try it. Some sweet pepper in the aftertaste, marmalade… With water: crushed raisins and more chestnut purée. I don’t think I’ve ever found this much chestnut purée in any whisky. Finish: medium, and, well, chestnutty. Really, believe me… Comments: still a bit unsure, but we’re making great progress. Interesting cask. SGP:551 - 82 points.

Let us further insist…

Blair Athol 26 yo 1988/2015 (57%, Signatory Vintage, wine treated butt, casks #6804, 492 bottles)

Blair Athol 26 yo 1988/2015 (57%, Signatory Vintage, wine treated butt, casks #6804, 492 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: peat in Blair Athol? Really? Bandages, milk chocolate, damp earth, garden peat, cigars… This is very un-Blair Athol, but we won’t complain, this is a very nice nose. With water: leather polish! Mouth (neat): a restless baby, with some smokiness, roasted nuts, Seville oranges, and quite some cinchona and pepper. Certainly not the average Blair Athol, but there’s a lot of fun to be had with this one. Sour apples in the background. With water: some leather and some tobacco. Finish: quite long, leathery, smoky, and totally un-Blair Athol. Comments: it’s true that Blair Athol and Signatory are close neighbours, so they may have access to funny stocks. Including peaty ones… Peat, really? SGP:453 - 83 points.

Blair Athol 21 yo 1995/2017  (51.2%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #11788, 321 bottles)

Blair Athol 21 yo 1995/2017  (51.2%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #11788, 321 bottles) Two stars Colour: full gold. Nose: a cleaner one, rather more ‘regular’, with raisins, touches of menthol… But it tends to get a little muddy, I’d say. Some metallic notes, some cardboard… With water: bizarre… Maggi, Marmite, rusty tin boxes… Mouth (neat): a little weird, on rotting bitter oranges, some Swiss cheese, some strange balsamico, raw kirsch… With water: not quite. Carbolinium, cardboard, sour cherries… Really not too sure… Finish: quite long sour, almost vinegary. Comments: it all started well, but this cask was really weird, in my opinion. Kind of acetic. How very un-Douglas! SGP:362 - 72 points.

We’re not having much luck with Blair Athol today, are we?

Blair Athol 28 yo 1988/2017 (53.6%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, two bourbon hogsheads, 306 bottles)

Blair Athol 28 yo 1988/2017 (53.6%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, two bourbon hogsheads, 306 bottles) Three stars and a half If this doesn’t work, I give up. Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts very herbal and vegetal, with some fern, pine needles, cut grass, then an even more austere development, rather on shoe polish, sour apples… With water: ah, something’s happening! Maraschino, barley water, bitter almonds, pinesap… Mouth (neat): this is better, despite these wee notes of soap and Tennent’s lager. Some green pepper, many sour apples, fruit peelings, some kind of green wax, buds of Douglas-fir… With water: no, it wouldn’t swim. Well, not quite, do not add more than two drops, otherwise it would get flattened. Finish: medium; resinous, dry. Sour cider apples. Comments: another one that’s not very easy, and perhaps a little intellectual, but I rather liked it. In fact, I think it’s my favourite. SGP:371 - 84 points.

Blair Athol 23 yo 1993/2017 (58.4%, OB, Special Release, bodega European oak casks, 5,514 bottles)

Blair Athol 23 yo 1993/2017 (58.4%, OB, Special Release, bodega European oak casks, 5,514 bottles) Four stars Wouldn’t we love to know the name of that ‘bodega’? Colour: amber. Nose: this time, the OB’s having the upper hand, no doubt about that. Café latte, shortbread, roasted peanuts, a little compost, a drop of well-aged apple vinegar, then massive, and I mean massive notes of pine needles. This, I enjoy a lot. With water: chocolate and relatively mild pipe tobacco. Also some leather, and just one all-cereal bar. Marathon runners may enjoy this. Mouth (neat): perfect, sharp and tart at first, then wider, on fig jam and soft chilli (Espelette). Hits you hard, really… With water: careful, don’t drown it or it would become flat. Stay above 45% vol.! Lovely late-harvest Canadian cider, butterscotch, salted caramel sauce… That is really nice, I’m also finding notes of Golden Grahams or Fruit Loops. I know, I know… Finish: rather long, and very cidery. This is almost cold-distilled cider, to tell you the truth. Raisins in the aftertaste. Comments: another one that’s not extremely easy, and that may be the European oak. Challenging, but very good drop. SGP:451 - 86 points.

 

 

Angus’s take:
Blair Athol 23 yo 1993/2017 (58.4%, OB, Special Release, bodega European oak casks, 5,514 bottles) Colour: Amber. Nose: A slight whiff of burnt toffee then we’re off into the realms of ginger and orange marmalade, sticky toffee pudding, roast chestnuts, hazelnut liqueur, even a little Nutella and some glazed cherries. A little dark chocolate, some wet earth, cocoa and a lick of balsamico and cured meats in the background. It’s a clean, vivacious and fruity/earthy style of sherry so far. With water: gets a little greener and shows some patisserie notes and warm granary bread. Also becomes more leathery with some notes of shoe polish. Mouth: A big delivery, all on Horlicks, sultanas, dates, raspberry jam, camphor, prune juice and even some frying smoky bacon. Goes on with a leafy pipe tobacco quality and more dark chocolate. With water: wild strawberries, molasses, earth, marzipan, a warm coal hearth, salted chocolate and a caramel wafer for good measure. Finish: Long and quite spicy with these resurgent earthy and chocolatey notes. Some elegant nuttiness as well and cherries again. Comments: I like it a lot. I think it will please sherry fans very much. Again, a very good composition where the wood and the sherry always have a voice but never quite dominate. SGP: 523 - 88 points.
 

 

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

 

 

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November 14, 2017


Whiskyfun

Bruichladdich by three

One thing is sure, it’s that Bruichladdich, most certainly thanks to Mark Reynier, were the first to properly address the concept of terroir in modern Scotchland. Current owners Rémy seem to be going on, and to push the concept a few steps further according to their recent acquisitions (Westland, Hautes Glaces…) And I wouldn’t be surprised if Diageo would do something similar with their ‘new’ Brora and Port Ellen… All great news, in my opinion, as I’m rather sure terroir should exist in whisky, should you make sure it’s kept within your concept, and doesn’t if you source your ingredients and mature your spirits just anywhere - in other words, it may be a tad fallacious to dump anything terroiry and then claim that terroir doesn’t exist. Because indeed, ‘terroir’ comes at a cost. Anyway…

Bruichladdich 2010/2017 ‘Islay Barley’ (50%, OB)

Bruichladdich 2010/2017 ‘Islay Barley’ (50%, OB) Three stars and a half This baby from eight different farms. Sadly, they’ve been using some French wine casks too, but let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: bready and spicy, feeling ‘new craft’, and in a way, rather un-Bruichladdich. Indeed it’s thicker, apparently, with some Stolle, anise cookies, gingerbread, and only in the background, a little melon. With water: spicy oak and spicy bread all forward. Bavarian muesli and pumpernickel. Mouth (neat): the spicy oak really feels, but there’s excellent citrus to counter-balance that. Lemon oil. Pineapples and mangos that kind of scream ‘white Rhône’, otherwise more gingerbread. With water: really good, feeling very ‘craft’. Now some young whisky that feels even younger, that’s a little bizarre… Finish: candied lemons, more spicy bread, more oak spices, caraway, cinnamon… Comments: the problem, should there be any, is that you just cannot tell if this very peculiar character comes from the barley’s origins (well, Islay) or from the casks. Or from both. Perhaps better science?... SGP:462 - 84 points.

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, bourbon barrel, cask #11830, 276 bottles)

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, bourbon barrel, cask #11830, 276 bottles) Four stars This should be clean as a whistle. Last year’s 2005 was ex-sherry (WF 81). Colour: straw. Nose: close to the official 10. Melon, vanilla, touch of ozone, custard, porridge, sponge cake. It is coastal. Mouth: very good, clean, vivid and fruity, firm, with more yellow melons, and more grapefruits. It’s a tad biting at times, but that’s for your good. Finish: long, natural, on some kind of custard tarte with bits of peaches inside. Comments: very good pretty naked Bruichladdich, with just a little a more fresh US oak than usual. Which works very well. The distillate’s pretty perfect. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Bruichladdich 2002/2013 (57%, Samaroli, Wild and Primitive, cask #561, 330 bottles)

Bruichladdich 2002/2013 (57%, Samaroli, Wild and Primitive, cask #561, 330 bottles) Four stars I don’t think this was Silvano’s work, but there. Colour: pale gold. Nose: a tad buttery and custardy at first, but gets then superbly mineral and sooty, and I wouldn’t have told you it was Bruichladdich. Unless we’d have remembered that the first batches after the reopening had been pretty peaty (8ppm if I remember well)… Notes of bandages, old hessian, iodine… With water: that walk in the rain and on some Islay beach. You know what I mean. Kelp, floated wood, gasoline… Mouth (neat): a tad easy at first, and then massive, punchy, citric and smoky. Not your average Bruichladdich for sure, we’d even call it PC-y. Oh well… The peppery side’s getting huge after just thirty seconds. With water: rounder and fruitier again. Smoked tangerines, chlorophyll gums, one bit of mango. Finish: long, more citrusy again. Lime juice and crushed chalk, plus some greener spices. Cardamom? Comments: Port Charlotte? Lochindaal? SGP:463 - 87 points.

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

 

 

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November 13, 2017


Whiskyfun

A new trio of Arran

We’ve had a lot of Arran a few weeks ago, and many have been truly excellent. That is why we’re now doing a wee sequel… (since plenty is no plague)…

Arran 2009/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice)

Arran 2009/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice) Three stars I believe this is the first Arran by G&M that we’re trying. Colour: white wine. Nose: totally fresh and adorably malty and fruity. Wandering throughout an orchard somewhere in the centre of France, with mainly white peaches and granny smith apples, all that being coated with some kind of beer and vanilla custard. You may add a dollop of fresh Swiss muesli. Mouth: a bit grassier and more bitter now, but that’s all right. Cut grass, over-brewed green tea, then rounder cereals and limoncello. Also touches of bitter almonds, well in line with the arrival. Finish: rather medium, grassy, and pretty citric. Comments: loved the nose, while the palate was a little more, well, grassy. A solid dram nonetheless. SGP:461 - 82 points.

Arran 17 yo 2000/2017 (54.6%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, sherry hogshead, cask #2000/136, 143 bottles)

Arran 17 yo 2000/2017 (54.6%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, sherry hogshead, cask #2000/136, 143 bottles) Four stars and a half Not first fill sherry, according to the robe… Colour: full gold. Nose: Jaffa cakes everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Orange marmalade, biscuits, a touch of milk chocolate, then rather some earl grey tea, dried mint leaves, yellow flowers, maple syrup, honey, chamomile tea… All that is pretty perfect! With water: gets more brioche-y. Love brioche. Mouth (neat): some punch, but in an Arrany manner, that is to say that it is a smooth (oops) punch. Leather, Turkish delights, stewed apples (compote), thyme tea, bergamots, tobacco… The sherryness is relatively light, but it’s there, coming through the tobacco. With water: gets a tad tarter, which is great. Blood oranges, and those Jaffa cakes again and again. Finish: medium, fresh and bright. A touch of liquorice, mint and chocolate, all mingled together, while the aftertaste gets maltier. Some clove. Comments: very, very solid, bordering perfection in my opinion. SGP:551 - 88 points.

Arran 21 yo 1996/2017 (51%, Single Cask Collection, sherry hogshead, 293 bottles)

Arran 21 yo 1996/2017 (51%, Single Cask Collection, sherry hogshead, 293 bottles) Four stars and a half Let’s see what these excellent Austrian independent bottlers have found for us… Colour: gold. Nose: this is a different style, a little rawer and maltier, with whiffs of bicycle inner tubes and marzipan at first, then rather lime liqueur, green apples, and a wee touch of iodine and bandages. A medicinal Arran? Why not? With water: gets more cake-y and chocolaty, as if water had smoothened it up. The lime’s still there. Mouth (neat): we’re much closer to the OB, that is to say leathery, citric, grassy, with some apple compote and some tobacco. No Turkish delights this time, though. With water: excellent, really. Liquorice, lemons, grass, grapefruits. A lovely sauvignony tightness. Finish: medium, as fresh and bright as the OB. Comments: excellent. Great work from everyone involved. SGP:451 - 88 points.

Now that they’ve almost dropped the gimmicky wine things (apparently), I believe Arran have become one of the few distilleries to watch very closely. Great stuff. 

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

 

 

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November 12, 2017


Whiskyfun

Extreme malternatives,
Neisson to the bone

Neisson’s the smallest distillery on La Martinique, and, I believe, the only one that’s fully independent. Rather consequently, it’s also become the one that’s attained the highest reputation amongst ‘connaisseurs’. All right, amongst ‘connoisseurs’, if you really dig Old French. So we’ll do quite a few Neissons today, vertically, and while thanking our friends Cyril (of Durhum fame) and the rumaniacs.

Neisson

Neisson ‘XO Full Proof’ (54.2%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 2017)

Neisson ‘XO Full Proof’ (54.2%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 2017) Four stars This fairly new Neisson is said to stem from the 2006 vintage, which means that it’s around 11 years of age. Colour: amber with copper tones. Nose: rather rounded, very pastry-like, with tons of notes of warm tartes and cakes, specifically apricot and probably papayas. There’s a little milk chocolate as well, a fistful of raisins, and some rather delicate (given the high strength) notes of fresh cane juice. In the background, touches of earthy roots, celeriac, sweet potatoes, perhaps even manioc… With water: earth an roots up, pastries down. Superb notes of wallflowers. Mouth: very very good, tenser, starting with this typical lime-y note, almost acidic, and going on with herbs and grasses. A touch of salty liquorice as well, Thai basil, and much less roundness than on the nose. With water: gets a tad fudgy, while the liquorice would never give up. A touch of oak. Finish: rather long, a tad drying (tea tannins, unsweetened cocoa powder). Notes of lime playing with the back of your tongue. Comments: perhaps not one for your brandy snifter, rather for your hipflask. Having said that, we’re already flying quite high. SGP:461 - 86 points.

Neisson 2005/2014 (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole)

Neisson 2005/2014 (43%, OB, Martinique, agricole, cask #11169) Five stars It’s to be noted that these 43% vol. are fully natural, so this is cask strength rum. We know some Scots who’d have written 42.9 or 43.1% instead, don’t we? That goes to show the spirit behind Neisson. Colour: amber. Nose: sublime arrival, ridden with wallflowers, chamomile, orange blossom… then rather dried apricots, stewed peaches and papayas, sultanas, milk chocolate, cigarette tobacco… Tends to become sharper and fresher, with more citrus, but also touches of peanut butter and chestnut purée that keep it kind of soft and wonderfully balanced. This is very complex! Mouth: indeed, cask strength, you kind of feel that no water’s been added indeed. Starts with pineapple jam and the slightest touches of grated coconut (but its not pina-colada-ish at all), and gets then fresher again, with lovely oranges and tangerines, as well as a… small oyster, ala Caol Ila. Not that it’s smoky, it isn’t, but it’s got this wee saltiness indeed, playing with your lips. An adorable feeling. Finish: a class act indeed, and one cannot not think of those old Macallan 15 yo from thirty years ago or more. Old Sauternes, tangerine jam, pink grapefruits, more milk chocolate again, and a wee feeling of charcoal and ashes in the aftertaste. Comments: this wonder has got something that many other rums don’t have IMHO: a huge complexity. If Caroni’s the Port Ellen of rum, Neisson may well be its (old) Macallan. No? SGP:641 - 92 points.

Gee, we started too high, I’m afraid. What’s going to happen with the rest?... At least we already have a benchmark…

Neisson 2004/2015 (45.4%, OB for LMdW, Martinique, agricole)

Neisson 2004/2015 (45.4%, OB for LMdW, Martinique, agricole) Five stars I think I already tried this baby when it came out (WF 89), but better be sure… Colour: amber. Nose: firmer, les delicate, starting with wee whiffs of burnt tyres, getting then much more chocolaty and prune-y. If you will, while the 2005 was a Macallan this one’s rather an old armagnac. Black Russian tea, pipe tobacco, maduro cigars, a bag of warm brownies, then rather small herbs, rubbed mint leaves, lovage, wood garlic, parsley, bouillon… Maybe a tad less subtle than the stunning 2005? Mouth: closer. Superb notes of chocolate-covered orange zests, thin mints, chlorophyll chewing-gum, then more black tea, a wonderful earthy side (pu-ehr this time), some black liquorice… Amazing! Finish: rather long, and very dual. Citrus on one side, and chocolate on the other side. Tarry menthol in the aftertaste. Comments: in a way, it’s the opposite of the 2005. I think I’ve been too shy last time, it’s very brilliant rum! SGP:461 - 90 points.

Neisson 2003/2012 (43.1%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 207 bottles)

Neisson 2003/2012 (43.1%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 207 bottles) Four stars Once again, this baby was bottled at cask strength. It is actually a 10 years old. Colour: amber. Nose: what a trip! It’s really like tasting a bunch of 1950s Macallan, and I’m not making this up. This time we’ve got more jams, tamarind, bananas, apricots… It’s also a bit dirtier (not a bad thing at all in this context), with notes of fresh concrete, gravel… Perhaps a touch of brine as well, dried bananas, mango chutney, pickled fruits… There’s a very long development happening, things keep moving and changing, so this is a movie-rum, not a simple picture. Mouth: rather rougher than the others this time, spicier, grittier… In a way, we’re closer to the XO that started this wee session. Lime, a touch of curry, some spicy (ginger) oak, a wee bit of turmeric… Really excellent, but it hasn’t quite got the ‘wow’ effect of both the 2005 and 2004. IMHO, eh. Finish: medium, with a touch of sugar, then quite a lot of cinnamon and black tea Comments: excellent, just not extraordinary. Remember, as always, all that from a whisky lover’s POV. SGP:451 - 86 points.

Let’s jump over a few years, if you don’t mind…

Neisson 1997/2012 (44.7%, OB for Velier and LMdW, Martinique, agricole, single cask)

Neisson 1997/2012 (44.7%, OB for Velier and LMdW, Martinique, agricole, single cask) Four stars and a halfThis baby was actually distilled in 1996, but they only filled the bourbon cask in 1997. Colour: deep amber. Nose: chocolate, liquorice, cake, menthol. Then raisins, kougelhopf, panettone, baked bananas, roasted nuts, raisin bread, dried currants, then cigars, wood smoke (just a little), praline crunch, and guess what? A little malt whisky! Perhaps Mortlach, or Benrinnes… And there, a wee feeling of old oloroso sherry. And yet it’s a bourbon cask… Mouth: it’s a fighter. Pepper, cloves and caraway at first sipping, then these unexpected malty flavours again, a large bag full of various kinds of oranges, and perhaps some praline crunch again, and a little chestnut honey. A few green spices are keeping it as ‘fresh and vibrant’ as Keith R. Finish: long, rather more liquoricy, firm, with some tarry oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: just perfect, once again, just a tad more rustic than the stunning youngsters, and than the more recent 1997/2017 that we tried the other day. SGP:551 - 88 points.

Neisson 1995/2014 (48%, OB for Velier and LMdW, Martinique, agricole, single cask, 290 bottles)

Neisson 1995/2014 (48%, OB for Velier and LMdW, Martinique, agricole, single cask, 290 bottles) Five stars Aren’t Velier and LMdW in all good moves these days, as far as rum’s concerned? Colour: amber. Nose: I find this one rather fresher again, more floral, and fruitier. That would translate into more wallflowers again, honeysuckle, elderberries, some softer praline, stewed quinces and apricots, then rather classic figs, dates and raisins (perhaps ala Glenfarclas), some lovely milk chocolate (drop palm oil and other oils in chocolate, please!), a little eucalyptus, and a touch of heather honey ala Highland Park. Hope no one’s taking umbrage when I mention malt whiskies in my rum tastings! Mouth: massive, punchy, partly citrusy, and partly cake-y and nutty. All that works in sync, naturally, only a slightly green oak in the background is adding a little disturbance (a faint sour bitterness). Green grapefruits, grass, green tea… That adds an almost sauvignony side to this Neisson. Or bone-dry chenin blanc? Finish: rather long, green, lemony, extremely fresh. Indeed, chenin blanc, matured in an ex-Brora cask (indeed, there’s a wee coaly smokiness in the back of the back). Comments: perhaps not a very subtle Neisson, but in fact, I just love everything it does. Love angular rum ;-). SGP:461 - 90 points.

Neisson 18 yo 1994/2012 (43.6%, OB, Martinique, agricole, single cask, 1000 bottles)

Neisson 18 yo 1994/2012 (43.6%, OB, Martinique, agricole, single cask, 1000 bottles) Five starsWhy some vintaged bottlings carry age statements while other don’t, I don’t know. Any ideas? These bottles are already very expensive, I’ve just seen it at 600€+ in Germany. Colour: amber. Nose: a softer, rounder, cake-ier one again, with pastries, brioches, praline, roasted pecans, cappuccino, banana cake, as well as something I haven’t really found so far, obvious vanilla. Now if you nose deeper, you’ll find a little menthol, eucalyptus, wild mushrooms, tobacco, and even wee hints of chives. One cherry too. Mouth: love, wit five Os. Liquorice and mint, 80%-chocolate, coffee, drops of raspberry eau-de-vie (in that coffee, naturally), still-wet fresh marzipan (okay, crushed almonds), and then all things orange-y, including proper marmalade, made without too much sugar. Finish: long, a tad rawer, earthier, with a lovely sour/tart ending. Lemons! Comments: simply another grand Neisson, but we’re still looking for one that would defeat the 2005. SGP:461 - 90 points.

What I really love with Neisson, beyond the obvious high quality, is the fact that they don’t seem to toy with weird wine casks to add width to their range and flavours to their juice. You’re right, better go on…

Neisson 1993/2012 ‘Hors d’Âge’ (46.3%, OB, Martinique, agricole, decanter)

Neisson 1993/2012 ‘Hors d’Âge’ (46.3%, OB, Martinique, agricole, decanter) Four stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: the 2005 is back! Seriously, this one’s got a similar profile, with an incredible fruity freshness, innumerable flowers, and a luscious softness (I know, that was a little brochure-y) that’s just irresistible. Orange cake, brioches, some great milk chocolate again (remember, no oils in my chocolate!), mirabelle pie, softer liquorice, Camel cigarettes, dried mushrooms, old Sauternes, young Sauternes as well, quinces, natural vanilla… This is really endless. Forgot something… oh yes, oranges and honey. Or rather pollen. Mouth: you would have thought this would be silky and lace-y, but not at all, it’s even rather peppery. Granted, not quite old-Talisker-peppery, but we’ve got this feeling of strong black tea, old walnuts, cocoa powder… So indeed, the oak started to feel, but the fruity structure behind it perfectly keeps it afloat all along. Papayas, bananas… Finish: rather long, a tad drying. Cinnamon, cloves, gingerbread… Comments: graciously lovely, it’s just that I enjoyed the brighter (and less oaked) ones even better. I shouldn’t have started this madness with the youngest one… SGP:451 - 89 points.

Neisson 1992/2012 (49.2%, OB, Martinique, agricole, decanter, 790 bottles)

Neisson 1992/2012 ‘Hors d’Âge’ (49.2%, OB, Martinique, agricole, decanter, 790 bottles) Five stars It seems that there are various 1992s. Colour: amber. Nose: this one’s nuttier than the others, which is just as splendid. In fact we’ve got all kinds of nuts, from hazelnuts to pecans, all roasted to perfection. Pecan pie, roasted cashews, then some lightly mentholy coffee (there is one that’s got those notes, I just can’t remember which it is. A Jamaican, perhaps?) Then thuja wood, pine resin, then flowers coming out (peonies, ylang-ylang)… My god this is endless again… Mouth: love this! It’s the most ‘phenolic’ of them all so far, with some smoke, it’s even got olives and gherkins, kippers (yep), salted liquorice, then lemon and chocolate… Would you mind calling the Anti-rumporn Brigade? Finish: long, with some welcome lemons adding an acidic touch to this stunning coffee-ish, chocolaty and smoky profile. Comments: I simply adore dry spirits, and this one’s very dry. Draw your own conclusions. SGP:352 - 92 points.

Neisson 1991 ‘Hors d’Âge’ (45.3%, OB, Martinique, agricole, decanter, bottled ?)

Neisson 1991 ‘Hors d’Âge’ (45.3%, OB, Martinique, agricole, decanter, bottled ?) Four stars Not too sure when this was bottled, websites diverge a lot, with years ranging from 1997 to 2012. Ha! So, better no data than bad data. Colour: deep amber. Nose: all on liquorice, toffee and fudge, we’re almost in Demerara here, although there would be a deeper, earthier background. Notes of old red Bourgogne, fresh putty, and an unexpected game-y side. Hare belly (not Halle Berry!), which suggests old red Bourgogne, precisely. Peonies, walnut cake. Mouth: not as immaculate as the latest Neissons, and that suggests that they’ve been progressing. Which will surprise no one. Notes of preserved pineapples, chocolate cake, more Demerara sugar, more blood oranges, more marmalade… So this is very agricole, and very Martiniquan, and extremely good, just a little more ‘in the flock’ and a little less distinctive. In my humble opinion, of course. Finish: medium, with bigger cane-y notes and more candy sugar. Oranges in the aftertaste,  hoorah for oranges! A little coconut too. Comments: yes, I deeply believe that Neisson have been upping their game in recent years. Isn’t this kind of finding/feeling the whole point of doing verticals? SGP:541 - 87 points.

That was a great session for me, I really enjoyed it, a lot. I’ve just got the feeling that we’re missing a kind of signature. Hold on, I think I’ve found something…

Neisson Blanc Bio (52.5%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 2017) Three stars and a half This white organic baby’s not out yet, it’s due to come out later in December. But of course, we just couldn’t wait… Colour: white. Nose: pure, sparkling, dazzling cane juice. Nothing else, just crystal-clean cane juice. With water: rather wilder, grassier, almost ‘foxé’ at times. In French, foxé doesn’t mean foxed or foxy, it means rotten/game-y. Mouth (neat): it’s the sweetness that’s very impressive. There’s not one milligram of sugar inside, but it does feel very limoncello-y (I know). And of course, extremely sugarcane-y. Have you ever drunk fresh cane juice? With water: wider, grassier, with more lime and olives. Finish: long, blade-y, olive-y and earthy. Comments: a great spirit, but I think that unlike, say mezcals, many white rums are lacking depth. But this very one’s top notch, for sure… SGP:551 - 83 points.

As Mr Bean used to say while speaking French, ‘gracias’!

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

 

 

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November 11, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

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

Assorted Duets

I appear to have samples mounting up (obviously you wouldn’t know anything about that sort of thing Serge) so maybe for the next few weeks we’ll do a few sessions consisting of assorted duets of different whiskies. And maybe a few malternatives as well for good measure. But today we’ll stick with Scottish and Japanese whiskies.

 

First up: two blended malts...

 

 

Signatory Supreme (43%, Signatory, vatted malt, 500 bottles, 1997)

Signatory Supreme (43%, Signatory, vatted malt, 500 bottles, 1997) A funny decanter bottling released by Signatory in 1997 and containing 104 different aged single malts (read cask samples). Not sure if you’ll be able to see in the accompanying image but the mix contains such luminous names and vintages as Laphroaig 1966 and Clynelish 1965. Not too sure their voices will still be heard though... Colour: Straw. Nose: Light and yet with a very fragrant smokiness. Some earth, a little leaf mulch, some wax, some white stone fruits. Maybe a tad mineral. I’d say the better components of the mix are shining through. Although, looking over the whole list, there aren’t too many obvious duds. Thankfully there are more ‘Caol Ila 1974s’ than there are ‘Fettercairn 1980s’ so to speak. Having said that, there is a vague cardboard quality which may come from the fact it was bottled around 20 years ago into one of these very silly decanters with enough headroom for the creature that lives on Donald Trump’s head. Still, the nose remains globally surprising fresh, herbal, softly fruity and fairly elegant. Just a little shy I’d say. Mouth: Falls down quite a bit here. Tired, a bit acrid, some porridge. Maybe some glue mixed in with a little lamp oil, hessian and turmeric. Curious but in no way stellar. A slever of lemon rind. Some gravel perhaps? Finish: Kind of a cliff edge effect. Hello...? Comments: A curious and funny bottling. I’d be keen to try it from a freshly opened decanter and see if there is much difference. I suspect had it been bottled at full strength in a proper bottle it could be something quite tasting and fascinating. As things stand, from this example, it’s little more than anecdotal really. SGP: 443 - 71 points.

 

 

Blended Malt 23 yo 1993/2017 (53.6%, The Thompson Brothers & Barman’s Choice, cask #17, 318 bottles)

Blended Malt 23 yo 1993/2017 (53.6%, The Thompson Brothers & Barman’s Choice, cask #17, 318 bottles) The component malts were all distilled in 1993 and then vatted into a sherry hogshead in 2000. Colour: Gold. Nose: Pretty much crushes the Signatory, as was to be expected. There is a lean and leafy sherry pervading the nose initially. Lots of crushed mint leaf, a few suggestions of wormwood, little herbal notes of bay leaf and thyme, also some notes of very fresh wild strawberries which is surprisingly pleasing. Also nicely earthy with some cigar box funk and little gravelly, mineral edge. With water: A little greener now. Green peppercorns, some grass, chopped parsley and crushed peanuts. Maybe a little mineral oil in the background. Mouth: Some soot, more earthiness, a little sage, mixed ground pepper, sunflower oil, trail mix. A good, even, fresh and clean sherried malt. With time quite a few different baked treats: warm croissant; brioche; malt loaf – amongst others. Although sadly it seems I gobbled all the strawberries with my nose. With water: some throat lozenges, raspberry jam (not quite fresh strawberries but it will do), damsons, sultanas and a brazil nut or three. Finish: Good length. Some buttery pastry with more earth, a few dried herbs, hazelnut spread and a little spicy kick in the tail along with some echoes of cherry tunes. Comments: A merry, clean and quaffable dram. Ideal if you enjoy a lighter, more effervescent sherry style and don’t want something too intense or complicated for easy dramming sessions with pals. SGP: 533 - 87 points.

 

 

Now let’s try a couple of recent offerings from Nikka...

 

 

Myagikyo ‘Moscatel Wood Finish’ (46%, OB,  2017)

Myagikyo ‘Moscatel Wood Finish’ (46%, OB,  2017) One of a pair of Moscatel finishes from Nikka. Basically the standard distillery NAS release but with an extra year or so in Moscatel. Sold out rather quickly I gather. Colour: Gold. Nose: Leafy, earthy, resinous, there’s even a wee whiff of rancio about it. Then umami paste, plum sauce, dates, some star anise and cinnamon bark. Integration is good so far, the nose feels very elegantly composed. Some emergent aromas of fresh tangerine, elderflower jelly and even a little lychee and some spicy quince paste. Mouth: Soft spices and fruit compotes in a very even-handed equilibrium. Date chutney, coriander seed, malt extract, spice cakes, maybe a lick of tar and some five spice. The Moscatel is more evident with this stronger and dryer earthy profile on the palate. Some more aggressive peppery notes and a slight sootiness emerge. Orange bitters, dark chocolate and some fruit flapjack as well. Finish: Medium length with some earthy and big orangey notes. More dark fruit chutneys and assorted, simmering spice notes. Pleasantly warming. Comments: A decent whisky and a good example of finishing and of a younger Japanese malt whisky. But at around £120 a bottle I think it’s a bit rich for me. But then it’s sold out, so what do I know? SGP: 442 - 82 points.

 

 

Yoichi ‘Moscatel Wood Finish’ (46%, OB, 2017)

Yoichi ‘Moscatel Wood Finish’ (46%, OB, 2017) I usually prefer Yoichi anyway, let’s see if that remains true today... Colour: Gold. Nose: Rounder, oilier and perhaps a bit more obviously drying than the Miyagikyo. Notes of coal tar soap, rosehip tea, some aged medicine, lanolin, smoked paprika, some faint mineralic qualities and lightly smouldering notes such as bergamot and lapsang souchong. With time some caraway and couple of chunks of salted liquorice emerge along with a grating of nutmeg. More of these quince and elderflower notes as well – which maybe means it’s a quality derived from the Moscatel? There are green fruits in there as well which become quite forward and luscious with time. Mouth: bigger, fatter and more emphatic than the Miyagikyo. Lightly earthy peat smoke, green pepper, motor oil, camphor, freshly brewed tea, some pear drops and a touch of gentian. Also a pleasing waxiness gives a further sense of body and structure. The Moscatel is certainly more restrained in this one - but then that’s Yoichi for you: pure muscle when it wants to be. Finish: Good length full of leafy and earthy notes, green fruits, more soft, whispering smoky notes and a sachet of mulling spices. Comments: I still prefer Yoichi it seems. SGP: 445 - 86 points.

 

 

And a pair of Highland Parks...

 

 

Highland Park ‘Sheil’ (48.1%, OB, Keystone Series, 1200 bottles

Highland Park ‘Sheil’ (48.1%, OB, Keystone Series, 1200 bottles) Normally some of these silly Highland Park NAS bottles aren’t of much interest to me, but this one is composed of whisky made using 100% distillery floor malted barley. Which is often quite heavily peated so this should be quite interesting... Colour: Light gold. Nose: It’s true there is a peaty note but it’s more of an earthy, background style – like sticking your head in a still–warm kiln. Lots of malt bins, hay lofts, coal hearths and cow stables. With this kind of foamy heather ale note in the background which I seem to often encounter in modern HP. Goes on with a little lemon rind, various toasted seeds, brown bread and even a touch of eucalyptus. We won’t complain about any of that! More oily notes such as lamp oil with a touch of gravel and a pinch of salt. Mouth: There is peat here but overall it feels pretty young - I’d go as far as to say disappointingly so. There are some pleasing notes of bonfire smoke, BBQ sauce, some minerals, some soot, some camphor and a little glimmer of green fruit behind it all. But it also feels globally a little too sharp and disjointed. Some notes of aspirin, ink, wet newspaper and then some subtle spices such as turmeric and tamarind. Finish: A decent length but the smoke is quite distant now and there is still a slightly off-kilter sharpness about it. Comments: I really want to like this more than I do. You get the sense there is a very good whisky in there somewhere. But it’s more in a kind of chrysalis stage still. I would love to try these stocks either in a few more years or not vatted with younger casks. SGP: 355 - 79 points.

 

 

Highland Park 25 yo 1976/2013 (46%, First Cask)

Highland Park 25 yo 1976/2013 (46%, First Cask) The First Cask series was bottled for a company called Direct Wines by Signatory. Many excellent drams went under the radar on that label over the years and remain relatively unknown. I probably shouldn’t really be telling you though... Colour: Pale gold. Nose: Earth, the softest and wispiest of peat smoke, heather, honey and various fruits. This cask could almost have been selected by the HP marketing team. There is a wonderfully beguiling maltiness about the whole thing and natural sweetness that emerges as barley sugar and a kind of buttery popcorn note. With time some more medicinal aspects emerge, like wandering a hospital that’s closed down for a couple of weeks. Then greengages and fresh gooseberries. Mouth: Again this wonderfully elegant balance between soft, earthy and herbal peat, mixed with gentle background medical complexities. Utterly and unequivocally HP to me. Goes on with gorse, various dried herbs, hessian, some tar liqueur, olive oil, rosewater, chocolate limes and a few cinnamon sweets. With time some notes of smouldering hay, more heathery aspects and a distant Atlantic freshness. Finish: Long and undulating between natural barley sweetness, and earthy, farmy and medicinal aspects. Some drying phenols and waxy aspects trailing into the distance. Comments: A great old HP, I dread to think what these sorts of bottles costs members of the Direct Wines club back in the early 2000s. Anyway, it’s a delicious, exemplary and hugely satisfying example of well-aged Highland Park. SGP: 555 - 91 points.

 

 

Finally: Springbank...

 

 

Springbank 21 yo 1995/2017 (45.8%, Copper Monument, sherry hogshead, cask #470)

Springbank 21 yo 1995/2017 (45.8%, Copper Monument, sherry hogshead, cask #470) Copper Monument is a new bottling range from the good folks at Whisky Auctioneer in Perth. I’ve driven through Perth quite a few times but I’ve never seen this Copper Monument. Unless of course it alludes to something more ‘meta’... ;) Colour: Deep gold. Nose: A beautifully fragrant, minty and elegant sherry combined with a subtly oily and coastal peatiness. Wet rocks, sheep wool, hessian, paraffin wax, rapeseed oil and camphor. Then moving more towards fresh green fruits and white fruits. Lychee, a soft waxiness, dried rosemary, pipe tobacco, a lick of rancio, some salted almonds and a wee touch of mercurochrome. A wonderful and utterly Springbank nose. Mouth: The delivery is rather soft but there is still this clean and nervous and rather nutty sherry enveloping everything. It flirts with the idea of becoming too drying or tannic but instead veers off towards a saline, pancetta note with pork scratchings, coal dust, grape must and smoked cereals and grains. The texture is at first soft but gains traction with time and becomes nicely chewy and kind of oozingly flabby in the mouth. Again, this could really only be one distillery. Goes on with mirabelle eau de vie, lanolin, wet leaves and then seashore notes such as sandalwood and bonfire smoke. Even some lightly smoked fish bobs in the background. Finish: Long, earthy, nervous, resinous and even slightly flinty in its mineral structure. More of these kind of farmyard peat notes in balance with coastal zing. Which eventually becomes almost like the acidity of a good Gueuze beer. Really quite great. Comments: What’s to say? Great, mid-aged Springbank. Distilled just as the distillery was really hitting a great, latter-day era of production. SGP: 455 - 91 points.

 

 

Springbank 30 yo 1967/1997 (52%, Blackadder, cask #1561)

Springbank 30 yo 1967/1997 (52%, Blackadder, cask #1561) Judging from the clarity of my sample, this one hails from before the time Blackadder started grating bits of leftover BBQ into their bottles. (Or is that just another big human flesh-suit lizard conspiracy? Answers on a postcard.) Colour: Straw. Nose: Ahhh...the 60s in Campbeltown! Back when they were using direct coal fired Karaoke machines! But seriously, this is an avalanche of fresh green fruits with some support from topical siblings as well. Big, fat notes of papaya, melon, guava, banana, green apple and pineapple. Then some coastal breeziness with a saline preserved lemon note, a quick detour through the farmyard (by the cow sheds again, and maybe the sheep fank) then down to the sea front. A whole shoreline of beach pebbles, glistening minerality, wet sand, beach foam, sandalwood. Then a dive into far more tertiary arenas of camphor, various resins, ointments, coal hearths, inkwells, tool boxes and garages. Beautiful and quite emotional. Mouth: Gah! Another avalanche of fruits, minerals, waxes, a beehive, an ancient workshop, a different seashore, some dried seaweed, stacks of hessian and damp sackcloth, soot, tiny and delicate medical tinctures, some baked peaches, some almond oil, some eucalyptus and ancient chartreuse. It goes on but it’s probably best to call the anti-maltoporn brigade for a clean up. Finish: Long, luscious, gently drying, coastal; the epitome of elegance. Comments: Why don’t people really try to make whisky like this again? Seriously! At times it threatened fragility, but it always seemed to dart back from the brink, like it’s playing with you. Another beautiful and utterly compelling old Springbank. SGP: 653 - 93 points.

 

 

Thanks to the Thompson siblings at Dornoch for most of this week's samples.

 

 

 

November 10, 2017


Whiskyfun

Three Glenallachie

There were names that we were almost never seeing ten years ago, as the bigger distilleries were catching all the light. Glenallachie’s a good example! But there are more of them today, and they would come together with quite a few Craigellachies, Glen Morays, Ben Nevisses, Ledaigs… And others. So today, it’s going to be Glenallachie. Ready? And first, the funniest apéritif ever, you’ll see why I’m telling you that…

Glenallachie 18 yo 1976/1995 (43%, The Whisky Castle Collection, cask # 6236)

Glenallachie 18 yo 1976/1995 (43%, The Whisky Castle Collection, cask # 6236) This is my lowest scoring whisky ever, with 1 point only. But that was in 2005, and some good friend just passed me a fresher sample, so that I could (hopefully) revise my judgement. Don’t they say that ‘a wise man changes his mind sometimes, a fool never’? Colour: white wine. Nose: it sure is rather foul, extremely butyric, feinty, puke-y, with notes of rotting artichokes, last week’s dairies, cheese… What’s a little nicer is that there’s a little pineapple. Oh well… Mouth: well, if you like old crabs and lobsters, cardboard, and ‘chemical’ plastic, this is for you. Otherwise, you may pass. Finish: medium, kind of medicinal. Drinking mercurochrome, perhaps… And diluted chalk. Comments: no, really! Sure you could always intellectualise any spirit, and find something funnily philosophical about it… But there, I’m ready to multiply my previous score tenfold. Aren’t you impressed? SGP:462 - 10 points (and really, thank you, my friend! ;-)).

Glenallachie 8 yo 2008/2016 (51.4%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, cask #309479, 102 bottles)

Glenallachie 8 yo 2008/2016 (51.4%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, cask #309479, 102 bottles) Three stars and a half In general, these very young whiskies do need a bit of a lifting indeed. Such as octaves, new oak, or else… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a little butyric as well, but I have to say these massive amounts of custard really save it. Tons of shortbread, fudge, and vanilla-flavoured yoghurt. With water: dairy cream, more yoghurt, Swiss cheese… Mouth (neat): this is liquid caramel, and there are litres of café latte and wheelbarrows of custard. They should have it at Starbuck’s, I’m telling you. With water: more of all that, plus some welcome notes of coffee and toffee. Finish: medium, malty, with some chicory, cappuccino… Comments: good, this is not my preferred style, and indeed the oak’s doing most of the job, but on the other hand, I don’t think you could do the trick any better. In a way, I like this a lot, and I’d add I could drink a bottle. Yep, Serge speaking. SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glenallachie 25 yo 1992/2017 (47.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon, cask #7665589)

Glenallachie 25 yo 1992/2017 (47.6%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon, cask #7665589) Four stars and a half Watch this baby, older Glenallachies could be fantastic… Colour: pale gold. Nose: yep, this is akin to some fresh 10 yo cognac, with peaches, kiwis, chalk, chenin blanc, gooseberries, greengages… It’s all rather tart, ‘nervous’, and pretty angular. 25 years in shy refill wood, hard to beat… Mouth: it’s one of those good surprises… Lemons, lemongrass, clay, rhubarb, a little sour wood, drops of agave syrup, some spearmint, a little green pepper, cardamom… Impeccable! Finish: rather long, with a bit more roundness from the bourbon wood, on natural vanilla and a large rhubarb tarte. Comments: a style that I always enjoy, even when the spirit’s not the most expressive in the world. Another excellent cask that’s been saved from big blending, in other words. Ex-future-Royal Salute 25? Hope Billy Walker and gang will have found many such casks (and won’t finish them all)… SGP: 551 - 88 points.

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

 

 

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November 9, 2017


Whiskyfun

A wild bunch of new whiskies

Not that I’m getting bored with our usual ‘a flight of Glenthis’ sessions, but sometimes you need to go a little wilder, so today it’s going to be a bag of very different new whiskies, taken more or less at random, as they come. Such as…

Glen Spey 1987/2017 ‘Dunes An Oir’ (41%, Malts of Scotland for Van Zuylen 50th anniversary, cask #MoS 17042, 183 bottles)

Glen Spey 1987/2017 ‘Dunes An Oir’ (41%, Malts of Scotland for Van Zuylen 50th anniversary, cask #MoS 17042, 183 bottles) Four stars and a half Van Zuylen is an excellent spirits shop in Holland, very well reputed within the chatting circles. I do recommend them! Now with Glen Spey, you never quite know what to expect, do you… Colour: gold. Nose: could anyone bake some kind of acorn and hazelnut cake? In truth this is extremely cake-y, and there’s some fudge as well, a large bag of shortbread, some mild pipe tobacco, certainly quite a few dates, some marzipan, and perhaps one morel. Oh by the way, ever tried morel cappuccino? That’s to-die-for, I tell you… Mouth: creamy, much less weak than I had feared, with a lot of rather-well-integrated oak. Chestnut purée, walnut cake, strong mint tea, Dutch liquorice (no wonder), tobacco (chewing your cigar), ristretto coffee, heavy cough medicine… So indeed the oak plays an important part, but you never quite get the feeling of ‘sucking a piece of oak’. Finish: long, a tad sour and bitter, with notes of resins (retsina wine), but this rather remains below the limits. Comments: a bit extreme, but don’t we like characterful whiskies? Happy anniversary, Van Zuylen! SGP:371 - 89 points.

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 2012/2017 ‘Ampelos’ (54%, OB, single malt, France, 272 bottles)

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 2012/2017 ‘Ampelos’ (54%, OB, single malt, France, 272 bottles) Four stars and a half Hautes Glaces easily lies within the French top three as far as whisky’s concerned. Yes, that’s an opinion. No wonder Rémy Martin bought the distillery just this year (together with Westland). Colour: gold. Nose I’m sorry, but ‘yeah!’ Bread with bits of dried apricot inside and a large slice of pumpernickel spread with churned butter. And after that, it tends to become much more floral, with some lily and some honeysuckle. Perhaps one touch of elderberry flower. With water: gets a little drier, and more on grains and bread and beer. Mouth (neat): love this wee acidic arrival, all this citrus, the apricots that are back, the touches of pineapple, citrons, marzipan… And the speculoos. With water: funny salty touches. Sardines in with lemon. Finish: long, and rather spicier. Gingerbread and lemon tea. The apricots are back again in the aftertaste. Comments: if I remember well, this baby was matured or finished in some white Rhône cask. Well, all I can say is that that worked. SGP:561 - 88 points.

Ardnamurchan 2017/AD (53.6%, OB, malt spirit)

Ardnamurchan 2017/AD (53.6%, OB, malt spirit) Four stars Ardnamurchan is Adelphi’s new distillery on the west coast, north of Oban. I had already tried Ardnamurchan’s new make but never some of their aged spirit. I believe there used to be an older Ardnamurchan Distillery, but I never got to try its whisky. Mind you, it was active in the XIXth century… Colour: deep gold. Nose: to tell you what I think, there are similarities with the French wonder, especially the thickness and wonderful breadiness. That some whisky would showcase grains and bread always works at WF Towers (just like agave in mezcal and sugar cane in rum). Butterscotch, walnut cake, shortbread, and above everything, figs. Don’t they have tropical gardens over there on the west coast? With water: it’s getting very coastal. Sea air, damp hessian on a beach, seaweed… Mouth (neat): some mild peat coming out, some lemony ginger, some kind of cinnamon and orange cake, and of course some bread. It’s getting very spicy, with some sweet curry and caraway, and I suppose that’s some very active casks. Small casks? With water: takes water very well, but doesn’t change much. Salty gingery smoky lemons. Finish: long, with the bready notes fighting back. Comments: they say they’re using wood chips for heat, I hope they don’t use those for something else. Come on, of course not, that was just one of our usual silly jokes. This is already excellent. SGP:554 - 85 points.

Bealach Ruadh 8 yo (58%, Chorlton Whisky, Islay single malt, hogshead, 2017)

Bealach Ruadh 8 yo (58%, Chorlton Whisky, Islay single malt, hogshead, 2017) Four stars and a half Of course this is Ardbeg or Lagavulin. No, no ideas, really… By the way, once again, great artwork on the label! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: let’s call this a mercurochrome-y malt. Iodine, creosote, damp hessian, seawater, kelp, a little tar, fresh artichokes… All things that usually start with an A, but could anyone be sure? With water: wait, this much diesel oil and fresh tarmac? Mouth (neat): this sweetness is rather more L, to tell you the truth. Lemon bonbons, limejuice, Scottish mojito, crunching peated barley… With water: excellent, really. Bright, crystalline, lemony, slightly salty, with a tarry return. Finish: long, greener, leafier… Smoked grass. I mean, yeah, the lawn. Comments: forget about those silly guessing games, what’s sure is that this is pristine young Islay whisky. The owners, in general, add more wood. I prefer this cleaner style. SGP:367 - 89 points.

Box 2013/2016 ‘Ungrare’ (63.3%, OB, Private Cask, Sweden, cask #470/2013)

Box 2013/2016 ‘Ungrare’ (63.3%, OB, Private Cask, Sweden, cask #470/2013) Three stars This one spent its life in a small Hungarian oak cask. Only good things to say about Box. Colour: gold. Nose: the sweet oak is rather dominant, but that works, with a pallet of gingerbread and ‘Stolle’, then buttered cakes and notes those lovely orange-and-ginger marmalades. Next time you bump into Richard Patterson, ask him to tell you the story about the origins of the word ‘marmalade’. Peanut butter. With water: spicy sweet bread, caraway, touches of sloe and juniper. Mouth (neat): a creamy, gingery, caraway-y, and very lemony arrival. I guess that’s the cask speaking, and that works. The lemon tends to take over though, and we shall not complain about that. With water: very good, bready, akin to many a contemporary truly ‘craft’ whisky of the world. Finish: gets a tad too spicy for me, the oak’s taken oven. Drying/spicy aftertaste. Comments: very good, just a tad too much for me – and yeah, that’s me. SGP:461 - 82 points.

(Thank you Tom!)

 

 

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November 8, 2017


Whiskyfun

Young official Macallan and indie oldies

No ‘colours’ today, no NAS, no funny names…

Macallan 10 yo ‘Sherry Oak’ (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Macallan 10 yo ‘Sherry Oak’ (40%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars Never tried this baby before, but I remember that the old official 10 from around fifteen years ago was rather unimpressive. Now I think a price of £75 for such a 10 yo would make a depressive oyster laugh. Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather light but full of roasted nuts and with a little hay, cappuccino, cognac, brown sugar, crème brulée, and warm cake. A light Macallanness, but a Macallanness indeed. Mouth: rather light, well in keeping with the nose, with these roasted nuts indeed and a wee feeling of coffee-Schnapps. Walnut cake, butterscotch, cassata, raisins. Rather find, very ‘rounded’ (using the word ‘smooth’ is now verboten in Whiskygeekland). Finish: short, with a touch of menthol and liquorice, then earl grey tea and peanut butter. Some drying tannicity in the aftertaste. Comments: really fine, not £75 fine of course, but fine. Like, £40 fine. SGP:351 – 81 points.

Macallan 12 yo ‘Fine Oak’ (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Macallan 12 yo ‘Fine Oak’ (40%, OB, +/-2017) Two stars I found this one rather poor back in 2015 (and earlier). WF 78. Colour: gold. Nose: really very light, all on orange cake and peach jam. Notes of porridge and ale, a large pack of shortbread, a wee winey side (seasoned casks, you see) and touches of butter cream. It’s a tad spirity as well, you would sometimes believe this is 5 yo whisky. Mouth: again, it tastes spirity and too young, rather rough, with some grass, beer, overripe apples, and Fanta. Rather thin body. Walnut skins, perhaps one raisin sitting in a corner. Finish: short, but a little nicer, thanks to a pleasant malty side. Sadly, the aftertaste is a little spirity and raw. Comments: I find it odd that they would have gone this low… SGP:341 - 76 points.

Macallan 25 yo 1991/2017 (51.2%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare Platinum, 222 bottles)

Macallan 25 yo 1991/2017 (51.2%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare Platinum, 222 bottles) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: no sherry treatment or seasoning here, this is classic pure unsherried well-aged Macallan, with orange cakes, Jaffa cakes, sponge cake, and small biscuits. Indeed, it’s pretty cake-y. Some butterscotch, hay wine, and then whiffs of moss, grass, leaves… With water: whiffs of paraffin, old cardboard box, sour dough… This is really Macallan au naturel. Mouth (neat): oh yes! Bright, rather big, ridden with tangerines and oranges, but also rather grassy again, with notes of ‘inadvertently chewing a cigar’. With water: the fruits are gone, and it really got very leafy and grassy. Green peppercorns, rocket salad, green tea, thyme… Finish: long and really very grassy. Lime peel. Comments: it all started very well but the grassy side won over. Not that I dislike grassy whiskies of course, but I’m not sure I’m into such grassy whiskies at £1,300 a bottle. Could have been Glen Spey or Glendullan. SGP:361 - 80 points.

Macallan 25 yo (48.8%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, batch #5, 126 bottles, +/-2017)

Macallan 25 yo (48.8%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, batch #5, 126 bottles, +/-2017) Five stars This lovely little bottle comes with a handicap, it was voted ‘Scotch Single Malt of the Year (Single Cask) 2017’ by one funny writer who gave it 97 points. But I suppose you can't let a little thing like that stand in our way, can you? Colour: amber. Nose: whiffs of sulphur at first nosing (ha ha!) but that’s not a problem here, quite the contrary, that adds depth. Bicycle inner tube, then orange peel, tangerines above everything, peonies, lilies, and a whole jeroboam of well-vintaged Sauternes. Which, naturally, comes with apricots and quinces. Let’s be honest, this is a stunning nose that reminds me of the Macs that used to be distilled in the 1950s. Pretty brilliant indeed. Mouth: okay, okay, okay. Even if this is more old Cognac than malt whisky, I’d say it’s brilliant, with even more ripe peaches and apricots, totally in the Cognac way. I’m finding a little rancio, a dollop of chestnut liqueur, and hints of orange blossom and rose waters. You could pour this over some brioche, or better yet, proper artisanal vanilla ice cream. Finish: long, a tad grape-y, with notes of pipe tobacco and Timut pepper. Comments: indeed, indeed, fabulous old Cognac ;-). SGP:641 - 91 points.

We have a winner, ite Missa est.

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

 

 

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November 7, 2017


Whiskyfun

Wandering throughout America

We’ll see what I can find, it’s not that I’m getting or gathering a lot of bourbons or American whiskies in general… But they do trickle in! Oh and I'll need your help with one of them, thanks.

Corsair ‘Triple Smoke’ (40%, OB, American malt, +/-2017)

Corsair ‘Triple Smoke’ (40%, OB, American malt, +/-2017) Two stars and a half Some malt whisky distilled in pot still from barleys that were smoked using peat, cherry wood, and beech wood, hence the name. The distillery’s located in Tennessee – and I find it a little strange that they would have gone 40% vol. Colour: gold. Nose: really light, and rather fruity at first nosing. No peat explosion at all, rather whiffs of cherry jam (does that come from the cherry wood?) and then quince jelly – which I always enjoy – and a little soft yellow curry. A little gingerbread too. Mouth: really light, but most pleasant, not very smoky – but smoky it is – with good marmalade and preserved peaches, a few raisins, and orangettes (those zests that have been dipped into chocolate). Too bad the body’s a little thin. Finish: short to medium, a tad smokier (could you smoke peaches?) and with notes of sweet wholegrain bread. Maize. Dry cocoa in the aftertaste. Comments: I find it really strange and very retro to have chosen this low strength. A shame because it’s really good, just rather frustrating. SGP:432 - 79 points.

Oh, cherry wood, that’s an idea…

Sonoma County ‘Cherrywood Rye’ (47.8%, OB, USA, +/-2017)

Sonoma County ‘Cherrywood Rye’ (47.8%, OB, USA, +/-2017) Three stars and a half I’m a fan of what these good people are doing. I’ll always remember the first little bottle I found while touring poor Napa, quite some years ago. Love their regular rye (WF 86) but this very one was smoked using cherry wood, as the name suggests. Californian cherry wood? Colour: deep amber. Nose: yeah! This is what I enjoy in these young crafty Americans, they have no limits and they make whiskies that are very ‘different’. This one’s full of bitter oranges, cranberries, spicy bread (nosing papadums), and juniper berries. Lovely, and rather boisterous – in a good way. Mouth: all in keeping with the nose, with this typical spiciness, smoked fruits, bitter oranges, more juniper berries (Dutch genever), leather, and quite some green pepper and cloves. Tends to become a little fizzy. Finish: long and very spicy. Roasted pecans and more cloves. Only the aftertaste is a little drying (loses one point, there). Comments: worth trying, really. Perhaps on foie gras, for Christmas… (yes I know foie gras is now verboten in California). SGP:561 - 84 points.

So, rye? Rye!

FEW ‘Rye’ (46.5%, OB, USA, +/-2017)

FEW ‘Rye’ (46.5%, OB, USA, +/-2017) Four stars Tried it in 2014 and rather loved it (WF 85). The Chocagoans may have further improved their recipe, let’s see… Colour: amber. Nose: where else would you find this much paraffin, brake fluid, fresh bread, and warm croissants? No worries, the paraffin tends to go away, leaving a rounder and softer nose, but there’s some very excellent Middle-european spicy gingerbread inside. Wee notes of truffle (not gas or sulphur!) Mouth: softer and rounder, and fruitier than expected. Spicy oranges, bergamot sweets (they make great ones in the city of Nancy), maple syrup, and caraway liqueur. It seems that it got a little sweeter and rounder over the years, no? Finish: long, spicier, and more rye-y. Some kind of spicy fudge covered with marmalade, apricot jam… Cinnamon cake in the aftertaste. Comments: they may have further improved their recipe indeed. SGP:561 - 86 points.

While we’re at FEW’s…

FEW ‘Delilah's 23rd Anniversary’ (50%, OB, USA, 2017)

FEW ‘Delilah's 23rd Anniversary’ (50%, OB, USA, 2017) Four stars American whisky bottled for a famous bar in Chicago. Never been there I’m afraid, I was more acquainted with Tom Jones’ famous song until now. Colour: amber. Nose: classic soft vanilla-ed cake-y bourbon-style American whiskey, with oranges and many pastries, butterscotch, cornflakes, milk chocolate, caramel, kougelhopf… It’s only moderately spicy this time, there shouldn’t be too much rye in there. With water: no, there is a softer ryeness, jams, touches of natural rubber… This baby takes water extremely well. Nectarines? Mouth (neat): much spicier on your palate, on peppered oranges and applejack, spice cakes, aniseed, caraway, and perhaps a few ‘ideas’ of modern Cognac. That would be the peaches. With water: very good. Some very skilled people in charge, as this should be very young. But the ‘youth’ does not feel, this is a mature product. Finish: rather long, caraway-y, with some honey and a touch of thyme tea. Comments: ‘Now the sun is up and I'm going blind (Holding on for your call), another drink just to pass the time (I can never say no)…’ Yes that’s in Tom Jones’ Delilah! SGP:551 - 86 points.

I.W. Harper (41%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2017)

I.W. Harper (41%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2017) Two stars and a half An old brand that all old advertising aficionados – I’m part of them - know very well. They have aged ones, but this is the NAS version. Oh and I believe it is one of Diageo’s American brands. Colour: gold. Nose: very soft, shy, mildly fruity (tinned pineapples), and otherwise relatively undemanding. Banana cake, vanilla. Mouth: very soft, nice-ish, fruity, cake-y, honeyed, popcorny… Some overripe apples and some butterscotch. This soft baby won’t kill you, and it’s… nice. Finish: a little short, but clean, well made, soft, cake-y, with more preserved fruits and some cane syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: some very soft bourbon. I think it’s good, and of course it hasn’t got any flaws (which, in itself, could be seen as a flaw in this context). SGP:531 - 78 points.

Marker’s Mark ‘46’ (47%, OB, Kentucky bourbon, +/-2017)

Marker’s Mark ‘46’ (47%, OB, Kentucky bourbon, +/-2017) Two stars In theory, were I a good ‘blogger’, I’d go try to find out why they’re calling this ‘46’ while the ABV is ‘47’. Colour: deep gold. Nose: croissants, chocolate, butterscotch, maize, vanilla, cardboard, pizza dough. I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of action here, but in a way, it’s a relaxing nose. Mouth: it’s the style of bourbon I’m not too fond of. Too sweet for me, too ‘smooth’ (the forbidden word), too vanilla-ed. Notes of sweet beer, with a bitterness in the background. India Pale Ale, sweets. Finish: medium, very bonbony. Sawdust and light molasses in the aftertaste. Comments: easy, but probably not my preferred style, I’m afraid, but that’s me, of course. SGP:630 – 72 points.

Hold on!

Maker’s Mark (45%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-1995)

Maker’s Mark (45%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-1995) Two stars A bottle that I had bought twenty years ago – can’t remember why - and never opened. This is THE occasion, isn’t it… Colour: golden amber. Nose: much drier than the 46, more vegetal, with more buttered popcorn, hay, earth, damp wood, tobacco… In short, it’s less oaked, less sweetened, and in the end of the day, more complex. So far… Mouth: more body, more power, and other than that, a similar style than that of the 46. Oranges and apples covered with maple syrup, vanilla sauce, and more vanilla, corn syrup, sugar syrup, bonbons… Finish: rather long, on caramelised maize (right, popcorn) and a little sweet beer and fudge. Comments: good, easy, just not my preferred style. I may have said that before. But why did I buy this bottle, around 1995?... Travel retail, probably… SGP:630 - 75 points.

Since we’ve gone kind of commercial…

Jack Daniel’s ‘Single Barrel’ (64.5%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky, Tennessee Whiskey, 252 bottles, 2017)

Jack Daniel’s ‘Single Barrel’ (64.5%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky, Tennessee Whiskey, 252 bottles, 2017) Three stars and a half One of four casks that have been selected by La Maison this year. Colour: red amber. Nose: oh! Strawberry jam, pencil shavings, and a five-kilo bag of assorted sweets for kids. Actually, I’m finding this pretty nice, this baby takes me back to my formative years. Ha! With water: sweet oak, vanilla, bonbons, fudge, peanut butter, and good news, not a lot of coconut. Mouth (neat): decadent, very sweet, very punchy, and very ‘square’. Vanilla, fudge, maple syrup, beeswax. Yep, that would be four flavours. With water: really nice, water brings out wee vegetables and herbs, Jerusalem artichokes, lovage, mashed pumpkins… I love the fact that it became drier, and certainly more complex, while losing any dull sweetness. Finish: long, and oaky in a good way. Teas, cinnamon, cocoa… And then gooseberries and cherry sweets in the aftertaste. Great balance. Comments: possibly my favourite Jack ever. Hope Keef’s got a case. SGP:740 - 83 points.

All right, you may help me now…

Parker’s Heritage Collection (64.7%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, USA)

Parker’s Heritage Collection (64.7%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, bottled?) Five stars Good, I don’t know much about this baby, except that it’s ‘very rare’, and ‘not in any books or on any websites’. Neither do I know when it was bottled, all I know is that the ABV is correct, but Google is mute. So, should you have any ideas, please tell me on Facebook or send me an email, muchas gracias in advance! Colour: red amber. Nose: a whole cake, straight from the oven. I’m thinking of some kind of artisanal panettone, baked by the most skilled mamma in the word. Also roasted peanuts, buttered caramel, biscuits, almond paste, and just a drop of teak oil. Such concision is rather pleasing… With water: earth! Earth saves any whiskies! Mouth (neat): huge! Oranges as liqueurs, marmalades, juices, sauces… Then fruity spices, Szechuan pepper, borage, pansy flowers (great with various dishes)… But it’s really very strong, and tends to numb your tastebuds. So… With water: many tinier flavours, manioc, redcurrants, blood oranges, cranberries… Finish: long, and really fruitier than expected. Manuka honey? Some coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: more complex and interesting than many bourbons I’ve known. One of my favourites, for sure, but what is it, exactly? Who’s got any clues? Please? SGP:651 - 90 points.

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

 

 

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November 6, 2017


Whiskyfun

More of those old Speysiders de la muerte

You know them, no names, fabulous whiskies, fair(ish) prices, must buys. One of the greatest parcels of casks ever, he’s very smart he who decided to buy it a few years back. 

Speyside Region 43 yo 1973/2017 (46.5%, Liquid Treasures, sherry butt, cask #9)

Speyside Region 43 yo 1973/2017 (46.5%, Liquid Treasures, sherry butt, cask #9) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: honeydew, that’s all I’ll say. Okay, propolis, fir sap, pollen, sage, oregano, tangerines, oranges, honeycomb… All that can only come with time. I think this nose is sublime. Mouth: should anyone bottle this in a Lalique decanter and with artefacts that would make any Chinese housemaid cry, the price would lie north of £5,000. And it would be worth it. Waxy oranges and the most precious Wulongs and Assams. Finish: the most perfect, the rarest, the most sublime honeyed oranges. Comments: is there more of those casks? Frankly, they’ve stunned all serious whisky tasters – not saying we’re one of them, eh. SGP:551 - 92 points.

Speyside 44 yo 1973/2017 (52.2%, The Nectar of The Daily Drams)

Speyside 44 yo 1973/2017 (52.2%, The Nectar of The Daily Drams) Five stars Have you noticed that these very honourable Belgian bottlers were located in Zolder? Indeed, anyone into car racing will know what Zolder means to us, but is this another racing whisky? Colour: gold. Nose: the only problem is that you know that it’s gonna be great. In this case, we’re having anything from a beehive, plus myriads of tiny herbs and fruits, the list would be too long. I’m thinking sorb, elderberry, holly… With water: ‘opening a beehive around August 15.’ Mouth (neat): it’s got punch, and it’s got subtler flavours, around dried pears, raisins, and Szechuan pepper. Rather more spicy oak than in other 40-something undisclosed Speysiders from Ballinda… you know, but that works. A treat. With water: isn’t it amazing than citrus fruits would retaliate? Finish: long, nectary, waxy, honeyed, cidery. Comments: it’s actually pretty different from the Liquid Treasure, but we’re flying (almost) as high. SGP:451 - 91 points.

Three 90+ in a row, that would have style…

Speyside 44 yo 1973/2017 (51.6%, Antique Lions of Spirits, sherry, 372 bottles)

Speyside 44 yo 1973/2017 (51.6%, Antique Lions of Spirits, sherry, 372 bottles) Five stars Great series by great friends, but as always, we’ll remain impartial. If you’ve got the slightest doubt about that, you come tell me… Colour: gold. Nose: the finest custard mingled with all preserved fruits of the creation and with several kinds of honeys. I’m afraid there are too many to mention. Sublime nose again, with something Chinese. Very old Baiju? With water: dried figs! Big ones, small ones, medium ones… I just love figs. Mouth (neat): it’s the punch and the oomph, the character of it all, that are remarkable here. Not a retired old malt whisky at all, and I’ll add that I simply adore these honeys, resins, and dried fruits that keep assaulting your taste buds like Alexander the Great did with Saladin (the equally great). Quinces are particularly noticeable. With water: and figs again! Finish: rather long, perfect, full of figs, and honeys, and perhaps a little fudge. Fudge? Comments: admirable whisky, in French you would say it’s got skank, but I’m pretty sure that doesn’t work in pre-Brexit English. SGP:551 - 92 points.

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

 

 

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November 5, 2017


Whiskyfun

Some even madder rums

Well we’ll try to avoid the sugared junk once again, as we’ve got plenty of them, but I think we’ll rather try those on/with pancakes eventually. Well I’m so glad we never make or have any pancakes in the house…

Caution

Please remember that my assessment of any spirits is only a strictly personal opinion and is done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who usually prefers distillate-driven spirits, and dislikes anything doctored, aromatised, hybridised, or tampered with, thank you – and peace!

Caroni 19 yo 1997/2017 (55%, Berry Bros & Rudd for The Whisky Barrel’s 10th Anniversary, Trinidad, cask #165)

Caroni 19 yo 1997/2017 (55%, Berry Bros & Rudd for The Whisky Barrel’s 10th Anniversary, Trinidad, cask #165) Four stars and a half This starts well… It’s like when the DJ was playing Ledzep’s Whole Lotta Love as song #1, remember? That’s what I’d call setting the tone. Ha. Colour: pale amber. Nose: it’s rather agricole Caroni. Okay, okay, Caroni can’t be agricole, but I often thought that ‘lighter’ Caroni could display some of the traits of good agricole. In this case, marmalade and pineapple jam, plus overripe bananas, plus touches of eucalyptus wood and sandalwood, and the faintest petroly notes. Tarmac. With water: menthol. Wasn’t this rather a cask of Vicks’ Vaporub? Mouth (neat): no, no, it’s pretty huge. Massive acrid/bitter oak, massive tar, massive dried fruits, massive cinnamony spices. It’s very dry, it’s pleasantly difficult (for masochists?), and you could think you’re drinking liquid shoe polish at times. The problem is that that works. With water: swims extremely well. Mangos matured in cedar wood. Finish: long, perhaps a wee tad oaky (tropical aging??) Comments: it’s ridden with flaws and yet it’s perfect, as if each flaws were cancelling out the others. In short, it is a lovely zero-sum game, but it’s not for the fainthearted. My dope. SGP:362 - 88 points.

Bielle 11 yo 2006/2017 (48.4%, Old Brothers, Marie-Galante, bourbon, cask #188)

Bielle 11 yo 2006/2017 (48.4%, Old Brothers, Marie-Galante, bourbon, cask #188) Five stars I shall say nothing. Bielle is Bielle. Colour: gold. Nose: rose petals, ylang-ylang, pink bananas, white chocolate. A Botticelli after Ledzep, welcome to The Internet (in case you’ve just left your desert island). Mouth: so fully agricole-y, so magnificently raisiny and liquoricy, so delicate… I think I’ll keep quiet. Finish: medium, rather on precious woods, and pine and fir, eucalyptus, thuja… Absolutely adore the cherries, or is that maraschino, in the aftertaste. Comments: right, that was short, I know. Forgot to mention the bergamots. Stunning, rather powerful rum, and yet it’s exactly the opposite of the thundering Jamaicans (for example). An iron fist in a velvet glove. Have I mentioned liquorice?  SGP:452 - 91 points.

Hampden 1990/2017 (60.4%, Rumclub Private Selection, selected by Dirk Becker, Jamaica, 328 bottles)

Hampden 1990/2017 (60.4%, Rumclub Private Selection, selected by Dirk Becker, Jamaica, 328 bottles) Three stars Rammstein or rather Marilyn Manson? Let’s see (S., please drop you lousy musical analogies, that just doesn’t work greatly). Colour: gold. Nose: pure Hampden from some respectful wood. Right, gherkins, olives, diesel oil, damp hessian, acetone, acrylic varnish, fresh fibreglass. Is that ok? With water (while hoping it won’t explode): insane. Brand new IKEA stuff, new plywood, detecting reagent. The good old days… Mouth (neat): totally huge, acidic, with a good dose of glue, varnish, hyper-concentrated dry white wine, liquorice, tar, and, yeah, more glue. Not sure this is legal, is it? Do you have the papers? What’s cool is that while swallowing a few drops, you can count your vertebras and make sure that they’re all still there, well in place. Would Obamacare cover this? With water: more extreme than the bastard son of Vlad the Impaler and Donald J. Trump. Glue and gherkin juice. Finish: very long, that’s all I’ll say. Heavy salted liquorice. Comments: Dirk Becker, we have to talk ;-). I believe only 0.0000001% of the population would enjoy this whacko of a rum. The problem is that I’m part of those 0.0000001%. I should really go see a shrink. SGP:372 - 82 points (but could have been 55, as well as 95, really).

Rhum Rhum ‘Liberation 2017’ (58.4%, Velier, Marie-Galante, agricole)

Rhum Rhum ‘Liberation 2017’ (58.4%, Velier, Marie-Galante, agricole) Three stars Velier’s rum made at Bielle’s with their own small stills, driven by Sig. Capovilla. I think it is a 2010 vintage. It’s said to have matured in ‘bois noble’, so ‘noble wood’. Perhaps first fill oak? Colour: gold. Nose: horseradish and celeriac, fennel, juniper berries, hops, fresh concrete, and just a touch of vanillin. With water: we’ve known gins that were a bit like this. It’s not totally ‘rum’ for me, and that's probably the high impact of some spicy oak. Perhaps European/French oak?... Mouth (neat): very good, with good acidity, lemons, lime, grapefruits, lemongrass, kumquats… One can see that it’s ‘precision’ that was the aim here, perhaps rather than complexity. With water: great at first, but I’m starting to feel those simpler gingery notes that suggest the oak’s got little too dominant spice-wise. Finish: long, gingery, and rather too oaky for me indeed. Comments: perhaps the limits of the exercise. I think earlier batches have been better balanced (read more distillate-driven), it’s as if we’re starting to see the seams this time. I mean, the staves. But it remains some excellent rhum, naturally, even if I much prefer the younger ones. SGP:371 - 80 points.

Savanna 10 yo 2006/2016 ‘HERR’ (63.8%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky 60th Anniversary, La Réunion, cognac cask, cask #502, 686 bottles)

Savanna 10 yo 2006/2016 ‘HERR’ (63.8%, OB, for La Maison du Whisky 60th Anniversary, La Réunion, cognac cask, cask #502, 686 bottles) Three stars and a halfThis crazy baby from the French island of La Réunion. HERR stands for High Ester Rum Réunion, and is actually a ‘grand arôme’ that benefitted from some very long fermentation. Colour: deep gold. Nose: ripe bananas flambéed with benzine, then covered with gherkin brine, wood glue, and a good litre of prune juice. Then we have rubbed mint leaves and Szechuan pepper, and then quite a lot of Morello cherry juice. I don’t find it as ‘Jamaican’ as what I could read elsewhere, but indeed, it’s powerful rum. With water: much softer, rather on fermenting litchis and longans. And fig wine. Mouth (neat): extremely strong, astringent, extractive, and frankly, you’d think it’s some kind of high-strength Baiju. The jury’s still out… With water: it does become Jamaican now, and we aren’t this far from that Marilyn-Mansonian Hampden. Nice olives, nice saltiness, nice rotten bananas. Finish: very long, rather on liquorice wood and menthol drops. Some acrid/varnishy wood in the aftertaste, a bit difficult. Comments: totally crazy. These grands arômes are normally used as dressers, drinking them as singles is a bit like eating mustard by the spoon. So, I have to call a shrink… SGP:262 - 84 points.

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

 

 

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November 4, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Drams for Jonny's birthday
So, this weekend we are up in Drumnadrochit to belatedly celebrate my good friend Jonny’s birthday. Jonny ‘works’ for Berry Brothers so we’ll try a couple of very old Berry’s bottlings to commemorate the occasion. And maybe a bonus or two. But first: an extremely serious and very unfunny aperitif...

 

Speyburn 21 yo 1978/1999 (58.8%, OB, cask #2867) Speyburn 21 yo 1978/1999 (58.8%, OB, cask #2867) A very serious bottling by a very serious distillery. This is no laughing matter people. Colour: Bronze. Beautifully nervous, resinous, earthy sherry. Rich, nutty and redolent with notes of aged balsamico, rancio, dunnage and damp sackcloth. Remarkably clean and luscious sherry. Notes of cherry liqueur, Darjeeling tea, black pepper and mushroom powder. Quite marvellous! With water: More earthiness! Coal hearths, many dried herbal notes, aged yellow Chartreuse, a touch of aged Sauternes. Really beautiful. Mouth: Dense dark fruits. Notes of dates, prunes, sultana puree, salted dark chocolate, chocolate limes, molasses, caramelised brown sugar and strawberry jam. Perfect, pin sharp earthiness, a lick of tropical fruit and some star anise and Chinese five spice. With water: A dollop of prune juice, olive oil, camphor, green fruits and some very lean, slightly saline cured meat. Finish: Long, earthy, resinous, green and dark fruits, more rancio and sparkling spiciness. Comments: Probably the best Speyburn I’ve ever had. No joke! SGP: 641 - 91 points. Jonny: 90 points.  

 

Ok, maybe more aperitifs...  

 

Speyside Region 43 yo 1973/2017 (52.1%, The Whisky Agency for Water Of Life Japan, cask #8)

Speyside Region 43 yo 1973/2017 (52.1%, The Whisky Agency for Water Of Life Japan, cask #8) A bottling selected by the great Hideo Yamaoka and hailing from a certain independent, family owned distillery that may or may not reside on the Ballindalloch estate... Colour: A maze of fruit! Green, tropical, garden variety and even stone fruits. Fresh fruits, fruit syrups and various fruit compotes. Gooseberry tart, shortcrust pastry, fresh honey, aged calvados, gorse flowers, meadowsweet, rapeseed oil and a few toasted cereals. A beautiful and harmonious nose. Jonny suggests notes of lychee and desiccated cocoanut - I don’t disagree! With water: Softer, more herbal, old Benedictine, tool boxes, a softer waxiness and notes of crushed gorse.

 

 

Mouth: The fruit holds! But there’s also many fresh breads, cereals, waxes, hessian, green tea, menthol, crushed mint, eucalyptus oils. The mouth equals the nose perfectly which is not something you can say for all these ‘aged Speysiders’. Tea tree oil, mint creams, green fruit syrups, tinned pineapple, banana chips. With water: Eucalyptus oil, a nibble of marzipan, orange liqueur, bay leaf, caraway and a little heathery note. Finish: Long, with a lingering fruitiness both green and tropical fading to a crisp dryness - notes of good Manzanilla - and some light heathery notes again. Comments: There are quite a few of these Glenfarc...err ‘Speyside Regions’ around, but this is one of the best in my opinion. SGP: 641 - 91 points. Jonny: 91.  

 

Liqueur Scotch Whisky of great age (No ABV stated, Berry Bros & Co, driven cork, bottled circa 1920) Unknown Berry’s Bottle (Berry Brothers & Co., bottled 1930s) A very old Berry’s bottle. Sadly the label has been destroyed but the capsule tells us it is by Berry Brothers & Co, not Rudd, and it has an old style stopper cork. Combined with the glass coding this tells us that the bottle is definitely pre-1941 and should have been bottled sometime in the 1930s. Colour: Pale gold. Nose: Typically dusty, mineralic, estery and with a simmering, farmyard complexity and a beautifully elegant, organic and herbal peatiness. A light metallic edge as is common with these old bottlings. Some bailed hay, jars of very old dried herbs, old paint, ink, parchment, vellum, crushed seashell, chalk duster. A glimmer of white stone fruits. Bramble, malt bins, the inside of an old malt mill (not the distillery). More gravely and mineral notes emerge with time. Very gentle aromas of hessian and dunnage as well. Mushroom and earthy notes emerge with time.  

 

Mouth: The alcohol is well preserved but the texture is most impressive. It’s fat, emphatic and oily with a beautifully lean waxiness. Beeswax, green mango skin, white pepper, flints, coal hearth and BBQ smoke. Some smoky bacon notes and more of these beautiful herbal complexities with camphor, cod liver oil, peat resin and even a touch of aged medicine. Finish: Nervous and long with big farmy notes, some earthy, drying phenols, coal dust and a lingering waxy and compost notes. Comments: The consensus is that it is probably an old St James Blend. The malt content is evidently quite high and globally it is beautiful with real elegance and precision of flavour. It’s obviously held its strength well and the feeling generally is one of emotion and beauty. As is so often the case with these remarkable glimpses into the past. SGP: 265 - 90 points. Jonny: 91 points.  

 

Liqueur Scotch Whisky of great age (No ABV stated, Berry Bros & Co, driven cork, bottled circa 1920) Liqueur Scotch Whisky of great age (No ABV stated, Berry Bros & Co, driven cork, bottled circa 1920) An ancient Berry’s bottling from the 1920s or possibly quite a bit earlier. Colour: Gold. Nose: Peat, salt, ash, wet leaves, sheep wool, minerals, beach pebbles, orange peel, coal hearths, clove rock, lemon zest. What a nose! Alive with freshness and power even after around 100 years in bottle. Menthol, motor oil, boiler smoke, struck flints, lime zest and a pin sharp gooseberry and white stone fruit note. Touches of lapsang souchong tea, dusty medicine cabinets, aniseed balls, biltong, cracked leather sofas. These aged characteristics just keep coming.  

 

Unknown Berry’s Bottle (Berry Brothers & Co., bottled 1930s) Mouth: Fat, glistening oily notes with toasted cereals, boot polish, green fruits, coal dust, hessian and wet earth. Some white balsamico, tar liqueur, aged herbal liqueurs, salted liquorice, aged white port, mushroom pate, pipe tobacco and salted fish. Becomes increasingly coastal with time, with leaner, citrus fruit notes emerging. Really quite remarkable. Probably an extremely high malt content blend or just a pure malt that needs a week or two of breathing to become properly settled. Finish: Long and filled with wax, paraffin, various oils, sea salt, preserved lemon and wood ash. Some delicate metallic notes in the fade as to be expected. Comments: Yet another remarkably fresh and quite beguilingly beautiful old bottling. Malt or blend? This one was freshly opened so probably a little too soon to tell but the pleasure and the emotion is sky high! SGP: 354 - 91 points. Jonny 91 points.    

 

And a couple of bonuses...  

 

Springbank 1965/1994 (53.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.28) Springbank 1965/1994 (53.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.28) Colour: Teak. Nose: The most astonishing array of dark, concentrated fruits, precious hardwoods, fruit compotes, rancio, aged Cognac, herbal toothpaste - Euthymol, that kind of thing - molasses, aged Jamaican rum and old boiler sheds. A myriad nose, the kind of complexity that can only come from a perfect sherry cask, impeccable distillate and time. Aged Boal madeira, dunnage warehouses, pipe tobacco, camphor, soot, fresh tar. A bewilderingly beautiful and - dare I say it - distinctly Springbank kind of character. More subtle herb notes, wet soil, menthol, charcuterie, charred wood. Poetic! With water: Old leather, furniture polish, an old engine and - eventually - a deftly poised mineral note. Also assorted citrus rind, lemon oil and various colours of freshly ground pepper.  

 

Mouth:  The most perfect combination of ancient balsamico, walnut wine, aged Pinot Noir, old Chartreuse, coal hearths, motor oil, peanut brittle (of all things!), olive oil, herb liqueur and hardwood resins. Some maraschino, the world’s best Manhattan, cocktail bitters and a fug of paraffin wax. With water: Soot, soil, wet leaves, moss, crushed pecans, brazil nuts and dense, dark, resinous fruits: prune juice, date compote and morello cherries. Finish: A long distance marathon along a knife-edge of earth, candied fruits, rancio, old library books and   dried tropical fruits. Comments: Upsetting amazing and historic juice. Anyone serious about whisky should endeavour to taste this. SGP: 545 - 94 points. Jonny: 95 points.  

 

B. McMillan ‘Finest Old Scotch Whisky’ (Dundee, Bottled circa 1900) B. McMillan ‘Finest Old Scotch Whisky’ (Dundee, Bottled circa 1900) An extremely old, possibly 19th century bottle, that Jonny has kindly opened to mark the occasion of him becoming a man. Rejoice we shall! Colour: Gold. Nose: A highly polished nose. Redolent with pine resin, shoe polish, old furniture, leather books, dried mint, eucalyptus oils and a lick of sarsaparilla. The nose is punchy and increasingly coastal. Notes of salted fish, old rope and fishing harbours. Some gravel, fish nets, sea air, minerals and a slug of white wine vinegar. There is peat but it is earthy, nervous, herbal and intricate in its complexity. Some dazzlingly sharp notes which touch on fresh lemon juice and even Mezcal. Mouth: Hugely fat! Dense, oily, earthy, peaty and rich with notes of tar resin, herbal liqueur, dried seaweed, coal tar soap, mercurochrome, old copper coins, various oils, crushed and toasted seeds and freshly shot game. Further notes of hessian, smoked butter, strap leather and even a few touches of green fruit. Some clay and a little plasticine are matched by some meaty qualities. Quite brilliant. Finish: Earthy and full of soft phenols, ink, clay and smoked tea. Comments: Another rather emotional and delicious old bottle. Again the strength and poise remain pretty impressive. But, of course, the emotional factor remains pretty much un-scoreable. SGP: 264 - 90 points. Jonny: 90 points.  

 

Thanks to Jonny, Hideo, Jan and... me actually ;)  

 

 

November 3, 2017


Whiskyfun

Teaninich Special Release and apéritif

Not a very well known distillery, and perhaps one that’s hard to pin down, should you need to come up with specific markers. How would you describe Teaninich? Let’s check the owners’ new statement, but first, an apéritif…

Teaninich 2009/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice)

Teaninich 2009/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice) Four stars A very young Teaninich by G&M, that’s a little surprising, unless there’s something really special to this baby, let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: it’s really malty, you could believe this was made at Kellogg’s Distillery. Café latte, Mars bar, vanilla pods, Oreo (OMG), Italian hazelnut liqueur, a pack of shortbreads… And only in the back, hints of marmalade and orange sweets. Mouth: totally in the same vein, with cakes, shortbread, a little toasted wood, some candy sugar, a wee earthiness, tea and milk (who would do that!), vanilla cake, Jaffa cakes, sponge cake… So yes, cakes. And orange. Finish: medium, a little more orange-forward, which cannot be bad. A little Demerara sugar. Comments: at around £30, this young fellow does its job to perfection. I like it a lot. SGP:541 - 85 points.

Teaninich 17 yo 1999/2017 (55.9%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak, 5352 bottles)

Teaninich 17 yo 1999/2017 (55.9%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak, 5352 bottles) Four stars From hogsheads and barrels, and celebrating the distillery’s 200 years. Colour: straw. Nose: austere, even a tad difficult, chalky and grassy, before it gets a little more floral, with meadow flowers, perhaps a little gentian, perhaps daisies (not very perfumy flowers), then fruits, rather around redcurrants and cranberries, perhaps white cherries. A feeling of plum eau-de-vie remains there, and there’s also a little fresh custard. After five minutes, it tends to become rather acidic, with fresh kiwis and rhubarb. With water: a little more vanilla coating, probably from the American wood. Hints of orange blossom water. Mouth (neat): much sweeter and fruitier, but the acidic side remains there, while it tends to become grassier again after juts twenty seconds. Kiwis and grass, lime, more plum eau-de-vie (damson), and then a whole bag of lemon drops. With water: probably its best part, this has become some sharp, tense, angular lemony whisky, with just hints of green oak (new sawdust in a forest). Finish: medium, always with a lot of lime and grass. Very clean, leaves your palate as fresh as a baby’s. Comments: perhaps a little narrow and sometimes challenging, but these lemony notes are rather splendid. It’s just not very complex whisky, SGP: - 85 points.

 

 

Angus’s take:
Teaninich 17 yo 1999/2017 (55.9%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak, 5352 bottles) Rather amusingly this one was described as an ‘older style of Teaninich’ in marketing materials. From before the 2000 expansion of the distillery. Is that a subtle admission from Diageo that the character of a distillery changes when you expand it? Can we look forward to some very special ‘pre-Mortlachification’ Mortlach in the future? Anyway, this is not to be rude about modern Teaninich, it can be fine whisky. Colour: White wine. Nose: Quite brutal and austere at first. Aspirin, newspaper, oat cakes, a little white stone fruit, some meadow flowers, cut grass, ground white pepper. There seems to be a dollop of concrete floating about in there somewhere. Perhaps some breathing...(one episode of Rick & Morty later, sorry Serge, I’m not a fan of Inspector Derrick)... It starts to open up with a little air very nicely. White flowers, pollen, a scraping of honey and butter on some brown toast. Maybe some greenery and citrus. It’s still quite a lean and tightly wound profile though. With water: some bracken, a little earthiness, pebbles and some herbal touches such as dried sage leaves and a watercress style peppery note. Mouth: Punchy again! This Teaninich really doesn’t want to go quietly into the night. White fruits, minerals, lamp oil, a tiny hint of wax, some baled hay, cut grass, crushed rocket leaves, sunflower oil. It’s a chiselled, sinewed creature this one. With water: Still swinging away. Although it’s more towards a grassy olive oil with muesli, buttery porridge and a single shred of lemon zest. Green cereals abound towards the end. Finish: A good length but it’s the sheer kind of single minded austerity of this whisky which is quite confounding. There’s peppery, lemony and grassy notes about the place but even in the fade it feels like things are still on its terms. Comments: I do quite enjoy this style because you have to kind of fight your way in there and it can be very entertaining and intellectual. But I’d say it’s a whisky to have a single dram of with your geek pals and discuss, rather than something you can enjoy in a tumbler of an evening. If you’re feeling in a particularly pessimistic or desolate mood it could be a good one for staring down the top of a glass at into the maw of the night. Perhaps keep a bottle around for the next time Donald Trump opens his mouth. SGP: 452 - 84 points.
 

 

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

 

 

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November 2, 2017


Whiskyfun

Caol Ila again, with much pleasure

Caol Ila’s #1 at WF Towers, as far as the numbers of different expressions that we could taste are concerned. Shall we call it a very prolific distillery?

Caol Ila 18 yo 'Unpeated Style' (59.8%, OB, Special Release, 2017)

Caol Ila 18 yo 'Unpeated Style' (59.8%, OB, Special Release, 2017) Four stars ‘Sure to make a stimulating apéritif’, as they say in the owner’s superb little black book that came with these releases. You couldn't have planned that better… Now I’ll always remember the first time we could try this ‘Highland’ Cao Ila at the distillery, with the MMs, around twelve or fifteen years ago. Good times. Colour: pale gold. Nose: I’m finding less peat than in earlier bottlings of Caol Ila Unpeated, as if time had erased the remaining smokiness. What I’m rather finding here is some kind of peach and custard tarte, sponge cake, Danish pastries, and quite a lot of sea air, which is a little surprising since there’s no peat and since Caol Ila does not mature on location. We’re rather reminded of Arran here, and perhaps of new Bruichladdich. With water: more preserved fruits. Mouth (neat): creamy and Haribo-y. Bubblegum, custard, white chocolate, preserved apricots, and quite a lot of white pepper from the oak. A drop of gewürztraminer. With water: gets almost muscaty, very fruity for sure, and I’m even finding my beloved mirabelles. Now the body’s rather light, perhaps even a tad more ‘Lowlands’ than ‘Highlands’. The big stills? Finish: medium, very fruity, almost bonbony. Tinned litchis. Comments: why not a different name for these, after all? Just a random question… SGP:651 - 85 points.

 

 

Angus’s take:
Caol Ila 18 yo 'Unpeated Style' (59.8%, OB, Special Release, 2017) I’ve not been a huge fan of these ‘unpeated’ Caol Ilas so far. But at 18 years of age, let’s see... Colour: Light gold. Nose: There is a richness at first which comes across as quite surprisingly buttery and fulsome with a nervous coastal edge creeping in behind it. I’m always amazed at how these bottlings can still ‘feel’ very much like Caol Ila even without the usual heft of medicine. This one becomes green, lively and gravely with a tempestuous minerality. Some fresh lemon juice, an oyster or two, sea greens and cow sheds in the background lending a nice farmy balance to the muscular coastal side. Still more notes of hay, leather, hessian and coal hearths emerge. I’m really liking this so far. With water: olive oil, an old car engine, cactus flesh, salted fish. Mouth: Cured bacon, pine sap, sandalwood, heather, a carbolic edge and some mercurochrome hinting at a seemingly irrepressible medicinal quality. Notes of turf, Mezcal and preserved lemons in brine with a wood ash note in the background. With water: a teaspoon of soft, green, lemony peat on the tongue along with a eucalyptus lozenge and a sprig of gorse and some dried seaweed.   Finish: Long! Full of coastal vigour, lemon oil, shellfish and soft green fruits. There’s a slight tartness as well which keeps things alive and fresh, almost like a good sour beer. I like it a lot! Comments: By far my favourite of these unpeated releases so far. I recall earlier ones being brutally strong. I suspect this one works because of the age, perhaps this style of Caol Ila really needs a decent length of maturation to come into its own. I’m not sure how long Diageo have been making this style but I suspect this at about 25 years of age could be something very special indeed. Here’s hoping... SGP: 554 - 89 points.
 

 

Well, for once we had very different impressions! Anyway, let's move on...

Caol Ila 9 yo 2007/2017 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #322298+322299, 443 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2007/2017 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #322298+322299, 443 bottles) Four starsThat’s not many bottles at 46% vol., is it? Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: pure, crystal clean, flawless, maritime peat, green apples, and lemons. Would you pass the oysters, please? Mouth: simple, unguilty pleasures. Apple and lemon juice, a touch of salt(iness), ashes, smoked fish, and a small amount of walnut peelings, with this lovely bitterness that I enjoy so much. Shall we call it ‘peely’? Finish: medium, clean, very smoky and ashy. Some kind of green oils in the aftertaste, grape pips? Comments: the fact that they probably have millions of litres of this kind of make sleeping in Scotland doesn’t mean that this is not perfect, it is. SGP:466 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 20 yo 1995/2017 (54.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #7, hogshead, cask #9736, 276 bottles)

Caol Ila 20 yo 1995/2017 (54.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #7, hogshead, cask #9736, 276 bottles) Four stars This will be most probably good, I don’t think there’s much suspense here… Colour: white wine. Nose: exactly the same as the SigV, just ten years older, really. That implies a little more vanilla, softer clothe-y notes, a few more oils and waxes, and probably more almond oil. There. A little vin jaune, fino sherry… With water: totally clothe-y. Remember that old tweed jacket that’s seen so many rains? Mouth (neat): a little hot, with notes of eau-de-vie at first, while whisky IS eau-de-vie, agreed, limejuice, then a drop of absinth, green tea, and green pepper. Not your average Caol Ila, in fact, this is greener and sharper. With water: indeed, there’s a lot of peppermint, seawater, and kippers. Not the ones who are keeping the cake, mind you. Sweeter apples. Finish: medium long, salty, moderately medicinal, and just a tad gritty (cider apples). Comments: very good (oh wow, S.!) SGP:366 - 87 points.

Mehr youth, please!

Caol Ila 8 yo 2008/2017 (46%, James Eadie, refill hogsheads, casks #315430, 315434, 315432, 1208 bottles)

Caol Ila 8 yo 2008/2017 (46%, James Eadie, refill hogsheads, casks #315430, 315434, 315432, 1208 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale white wine. Nose: some kiwi, some lime and some oysters, with a touch of copper and the greenest dry chenin blanc ever. Mouth: yes, that’s the problem with a very consistent and perfectly automated distillery, everything is good… and similar. More seashells, ashes, iodine, green apples, and lemon juice. Perhaps a wee touch of fresh parsley? Finish: medium, clean, classy, fresh and refreshing. Perfect lemons. Comments: I feel the need to issue a warning, these makes are dangerously drinkable. Some chess game with a good old friend of yours and presto, the bottle is empty while you’ll have noticed nothing. G’dnight. Extremely good, once again. SGP:456 - 87 points.

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

 

 

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November 1, 2017


Whiskyfun

The Danaids' jar
(or a bag of funny ones for Halloween)

All funny or unusual spirits that crossed my path, tasted one after the other, on separate days, without any ideas of ‘a proper session’. So, some kind of alcoholic hotchpotch, if you will, or indeed, the Danaids’ jar…  (because we get more of these all the time, mind you)

Beinn Dubh (43%, OB, Speyside Distillery, +/-2017)

Beinn Dubh (43%, OB, Speyside Distillery, +/-2017) Mannochmore’s Loch Dhu was rather terrible (yet it’s got its fans!), Cu Dhub was terrible, it was normal that Speyside Distillery would reiterate that kind of trial and come up with yet another ‘black’ single malt whisky with ‘dark mysteries’. No? Oh, and £50 a bottle, mind you! Colour: walnut stain. Nose: not much, actually. Coffee and molasses, perhaps? Chocolate sauce, black pudding, toffee, and drops of Cointreau. No, actually, this isn’t totally ugly, we’ve nosed worse stuffs. Like, cat vomit and dead mice – both totally unrelated of course (hi, Jack!) Mouth: this is actually okay. Coffee, fermenting fruits, dried beef, black raisins, more coffee. Too bad some bitter caramel starts to get in the way after one minute. Finish: medium, a tad game-y, chocolaty, slightly ashy. Some plain sugar and litres of molasses in the aftertaste, which is a no-no. Comments: okay, I think I like this one better than both Loch Dhu and Cu Dhub. Let’s wait until around the year 2050 and I’m sure they’ll have further improved the recipe – and legally. By the way, I have Loch Dhu at WF 49 and Cu Dhub at WF 35. SGP:451 - 65 points.

Reimonenq ‘Evasion Blue Lady’ (25%, OB, Guadeloupe, premix, +/-2010)

Reimonenq ‘Evasion Blue Lady’ (25%, OB, Guadeloupe, premix, +/-2010) Well, it’s all blue, and it’s a mix of white Reimonenq (I suppose) and blue Curacao. And I agree, it does not belong here. Too late… Colour: blue. The pool at an average all-inclusive resort anywhere in the West Indies. Nose: Fanta and some cardboardy rum. Where are the nearest ice cubes? Mouth: kind of drinkable. Very simple, with some cane syrup upfront, then a little sweet orange juice. Fanta indeed. Finish: very short. Comments: indeed this thing doesn’t belong here. But it’s not undrinkable, it just needs a lot of ice, preferably a whole iceberg, and perhaps a little less methylthionine chloride. SGP:810 – (no score) points.

HKB (43%, OB, Hong Kong Baiju, +/-2016)

HKB (43%, OB, Hong Kong Baiju, +/-2016) A funny story that involves nobody else than Marco Polo, whose family we’ve tried to contact about this, without success. Actually, it’s Chinese Baiju finished in grappa, in Italy. Marco Polo, got it? Colour: white. Nose: reminiscent of the baijus I could buy the first time I visited China, in 1987. I remember the price, $1 a 100cl bottle. I’m finding fermenting figs, dried litchis, perhaps longans, and certainly a little late-harvest apple wine. They make some excellent ones in Quebec! There’s something a little sour, as usual, and I do like that. Mouth: very singular, starting with a lot of ginger mixed with overripe apples, getting then kind of peppery, with some natural yoghurt behind all that, some earthy tones (turnips), and plenty, and I mean plenty of turmeric. The whole’s dry, not sweet at all. Finish: long, just a notch soapy, and with even more turmeric and ginger. Bitter herbs in the aftertaste. Comments: certainly an acquired taste, but it’s really characterful. Now what comes from the grappa and what comes from the original spirit, I couldn’t tell you. SGP:571 – (no score) points.

Banane Marie-Galante (43%, Velier/Capovilla, banana spirit, 2017)

Banane Marie-Galante (43%, Velier/Capovilla, banana spirit, 2017) This very unusual spirit was bottled for Velier’s 70th anniversary. The bananas were harvested on Marie-Galante, fermented, and distilled at Rhum-Rhum (Bielle). In my experience, it’s difficult to distil tropical fruits, as the flavours are easily distorted, but let’s see, because on the other hand, this is Capovilla… Colour: white. Nose: a good eau-de-vie is an eau-de-vie that purely expresses the fruits, so yeah, juicy ripe bananas. And perhaps a drop of cane syrup, perhaps… Mouth: rather more complex than expected, with additional grassy flavours, as if some skins have been kept. Other than that, it’s banana galore! Sure we could go on trying to find out which kinds of bananas were concerned, but we just won’t. Finish: rather long, getting a little grassier. Comments: very good, I think, but of course you need to like bananas. Also wondering if it wouldn’t be even better when chilled. SGP:640 - (no score) points.

Spiritueux de Truffe du Périgord (45%, Metté, Alsace, +/-2015)

Spiritueux de Truffe du Périgord (45%, Metté, Alsace, +/-2015) That’s right, black truffles. How Metté make this, I’m not too sure… Most certainly some maceration in some neutral spirit (apple), and possibly some re-distillation afterwards. It would be very un-Metté to use truffle essences and ‘stuff’… Colour: white. Nose: nosing truffles indeed. It’s all about truffles, really, although I’m also finding a little milk chocolate beyond these truffles. Now it’s not heady, it remains kind of subtle… Mouth: a little difficult, I don’t think the sweetness of the original spirit and the earthiness and sulphury side of the truffles tango too well. A little rough, perhaps some ice would have been welcome. Finish: rather long, and rather too spirity, which kills the truffle flavours. Comments: I liked the nose, but I’m not sure it delivered on the palate. An oddity… SGP:430 - (no score) points.

Cherry Spirit 2003/2012 (51.9%, Beacon Spirits, Germany)

Cherry Spirit 2003/2012 (51.9%, Beacon Spirits, Germany) Please note that I’m a sucker for cherries and good kirsch. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s unusual to age fruit eaux-de-vie, but this time it seems that that worked. A few soapy tones at first, but you’ll find those in many kirschs as well because of the stones, then rather preserved cherries mixed with quite a lot of vanilla from the oak. So, this is virtually some liquid cherry cake. With water: few changes, perhaps a little sawdust, but nothing embarrassing. Mouth (neat): oak-forward, and we’ve known young craft whiskies that were a bit like this. White pepper, caraway, vanilla, then a little tobacco, and indeed, candied and preserved cherries. With water: oranges! Where do these come from? Finish: medium, rather well balanced, and rather more on oranges again. Comments: we’re rather close to young whisky here, this is not some ‘all-cherry’ thing. I found it pleasant. SGP:651 - (no score) points.

Fair ‘Barrel aged vodka’ (40%, Fair, +/-2017)

Fair ‘Barrel aged vodka’ (40%, Fair, +/-2017) This is quinoa vodka, made out of fair-trade Bolivian seeds, then aged for six months in ex-single malt casks, in Cognac. How ‘world’ is that? Colour: white wine. Nose: really soft, with touches of vanilla and sweet bread, then perhaps gooseberries and a touch of lime. It’s a rather elegant spirit, and mind you, this is not Octomore. No, not even Ardbeg. Mouth: you feel the oak a bit, with something matt, but wee notes of oranges and, again, gooseberries are bringing life here. Then soft breads, sweat maize… Something of a very young wheater. Finish: rather short, but fresh and pleasant. Comments: it’s got something of those rather lovely Polugars, taste-wise. And remember it’s fair! SGP:320 - (no score) points.

Chase (46%, OB, Islay cask aged vodka, 480 bottles, +/-2017)

Chase (46%, OB, Islay cask aged vodka, 480 bottles, +/-2017) This English potato vodka was aged in an ex-Laphroaig cask. For how long, I’m not sure… Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: wood smoke, especially fir, pine. Excuse me? Yes, that’s all. Mouth: almost peatier than Laphroaig Select, seriously. How much Laphroaig left in those casks? Some vanilla, some charcoal, some cigar ashes. Finish: rather long, smoky, and rather sweet. Some vanilla and a little coconut from the oak, sweetened lemon juice in the aftertaste. Comments: interesting and, frankly, good. Millimetric, narrow, clean. A good surprise, really, worth around a good 80 in my book. SGP:535 - (no score) points.

Grhisky (41%, Silver Seal, grappa, +/-2017)

Grhisky (41%, Silver Seal, grappa, +/-2017) Listen, this is Mueller-Thurgau grappa finished in an ex-Islay cask. At least I’m consistent, am I not? Colour: gold. Nose: muwhahaha, the grappa killed the whisky this time. For a while, because there’s some kind of resurrection happening, which would come with some saponification. Say a blend of cologne, smoked water, tincture of iodine, and sweet muscat. Certainly medicinal. Mouth: bizarre, sweet, extremely raisiny, with almost no smoke this time, rather dates, fresh figs, and indeed bags and bags of juicy sultanas, with just a wee camphory side that goes pretty well with it. Finish: medium, yet rather rich. Mint and raisins. Comments: fun and good, if a little dichotomous at times. SGP:632 - (no score) points.

KMW Imoya ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cape brandy, South-Africa, +/-2015)

KMW Imoya ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cape brandy, South-Africa, +/-2015) Why a French epicurean would try some South-African ‘Cognac’, I don’t quite know. Can’t be me, is it me? But after all, I'm also drinking South-African wines, some are truly wonderful. Colour: full gold. Nose: it’s like many ‘foreign’ brandies that are ether sweetened beyond reason, or rather too plankish. That would rather be the second option here, we’re missing fruits and freshness and aren’t too fond of this kind of pine-y and mentholy style. Mouth: a little sweet, but better than expected, with fresh mentholated pears and peaches, and some toasted oak, then prunes and raisins. It’s actually sweeter and more raisiny than any reasonable Cognac, but it is not bad at all. Finish: medium, feeling a little juiced-up (pineapples?) Comments: rather okay, but I wouldn’t want to have to sneak it into a proper Cognac session. SGP:650 - (no score) points.

Time to put an end to this madness, and let’s try do it with a little panache!

Au Large de l’Île Grande (unknown Scotch whisky, Brittany, 1983) Four stars Have you ever heard of some kind of French Whisky Galore that happened in January of the year 1983? Indeed, in that month 17 casks (25 according to other sources) of Scotch whisky suddenly floated ashore, coming from a Panamanian ship that was meant to bring them to the Falkland Islands and that had to face a huge storm while the casks hadn’t been properly stowed.

The good Breton people on the shores immediately brought empty bottles and Jerrycans, tapped some of the barrels right on the beaches, and brought the contents back home, without a trace. Sadly, no pictures seem to have been taken, so no one remembers what was written on the casks’ ends, but some families still have some of these whiskies. Including some retired gendarmes, I’ve heard (but shhh…) This baby comes from one of those casks! Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a rather rough one, rather grassy and rooty, with a buttery side, some feints in the background, and a wee feeling of soapy beer. Glenturret springs to mind, but it could be some dry blend too.

Mouth: high strength, around 55% vol., and frankly good this time, with less roughness, and a better-chiselled lemony/grassy profile. Bitter oranges, a touch of mustard, some biting green woodiness. Indeed, could be Glenturret… Finish: very long, rather mentholy and earthy, with zests and other bitterish fruit skins, and a feeling of smoked salt in the aftertaste (maybe I’m dreaming). Comments: mille mercis, David!! I suppose this was meant to get blended afterwards on the Falklands. Actually, it was a very good cask, I’d love to know how much time these barrels have spent in – or rather on - the sea. A few days, probably… SGP:462 - 85 points.

Galore


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