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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (90)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (10
9)
Banff (50)
Ben Nevis (1
80)
Ben Wyvis (3)
Benriach (170)
Benrinnes (
90)
Benromach (6
6)
Bladnoch (
80)
Blair Athol (
8
5)
Bowmore (5
19)
Braes of Glenlivet (4
6)
Brora (1
32)
Bruichladdich (2
9
8)
Bunnahabhain (3
42)

Dailuaine (60)
Dallas Dhu (3
8)
Dalmore (1
20)
Dalwhinnie (
31)
Deanston (4
5)
Dufftown (51)

Edradour (72)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
5
3)
Laphroaig (4
49)
Ledaig (1
2
8)
Linkwood (1
4
9)
Littlemill (11
4)
Loch Lomond (
65)
Lochside (65)
Longmorn (2
15)
Longrow (7
2)

Macallan (303)
Macduff (6
8)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
4
3)
Millburn (2
3)
Miltonduff (
92)
Mortlach (1
84)
Mosstowie (2
2)

Scapa (46)
Speyburn (
44)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (3
55)
St-Magdalene (5
1)
Strathisla (
101)
Strathmill (
41)

 
 
Pete and Jack



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1 - 2
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1 - 2
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2012
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1 - 2
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October
1 - 2
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2011
Music Awards
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1 - 2
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1 - 2
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2010
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
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1 - 2
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1 - 2
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2009
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1 - 2
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October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
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March 1 - 2
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2008
Music Awards
December
1 - 2 - 3
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
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2007
Music Awards
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Feis Ile
Special
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2006
Music Awards
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November
1 - 2
October
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September
1 - 2
August
1 - 2
July
1 - 2
June 1 - 2
Feis Ile
Special
May
1 - 2
April
1 - 2
March
1 - 2
February
1 - 2
January 1
- 2

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

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

No archives for 2002-2003

 
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The Magical History
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1969 - 1983

   


 

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Disclaimer
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
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February 27, 2020


Whiskyfun

Crazy Glen Scotia for a change
(fino anyone?)

That’s true, why always Springbank?

Glen Scotia 45 yo 1972/2017 (40.2%, Malts of Scotland, Angel’s Choice, bourbon barrel, 144 bottles)

Glen Scotia 45 yo 1972/2017 (40.2%, Malts of Scotland, Angel’s Choice, bourbon barrel, 144 bottles) Four stars and a half
I know, in theory and since this is the oldest Glen Scotia we’ll have I shouldn’t start with it, but given the very low strength, which suggests some relative fragility, I decided to stay on the safe side. Colour: gold. Nose: oh, we’re wandering throughout an old dunnage warehouse full of old barrels! This is sublime, very delicate, with notes of old roses, almonds, camphor, orange cordial, ylang-ylang and jasmine, marzipan, pinesap, old linseed oil (a painter’s old stock), perhaps a little teak oil, a few drops of fresh orange juice,  marzipan (have I mentioned marzipan before?)… Love, love, love this, but fear, fear , fear for the palate… Mouth: no, we’re fine. Some touches of varnish here and there, some white pepper for sure, some resins, pencil eraser, green tea… You do feel it is some very old whisky at (natural) low strength, but the fruits are still there, well alive, and keeping the flame alive. Especially bitter oranges Finish: medium, rather on green tannins and teas this time, which is completely normal. Touches of bitter caramel. Comments: the palate’s probably a little acrobatic at times, but the nose was stellar. You could put a few drops behind your ears before going to the dance hall. Tasting this is like driving an Austin-Healey, I would say. Or a low-battery Tesla. You’re not quite sure you’ll make it but it is fun.
SGP:361 - 89 points.

Glen Scotia 27 yo 1992/2019 (45.9%, The Perfect Fifth, bourbon, cask #05917, 174 bottles)

Glen Scotia 27 yo 1992/2019 (45.9%, The Perfect Fifth, bourbon, cask #05917, 174 bottles) Four stars
Do people outside the US of A really know what a fifth is? Colour: white wine. Nose: typically Glen Scotia from those years, so extremely singular, with a lot of bread dough, leaven, proper yoghurt, sour cream, then really hectolitres of manzanilla. With this kind of nose and once again, it’s make or break, even if it does tend to become a little more civilised, rounder, with a little more custard. Mouth: good, take a bottle of La Gitana or any good middle-of-range manzanilla. Throw away 1/3, replace with white mezcal, pepper liqueur, sake and a little cardboard and sawdust. Shake well, drink, sleep. Finish: long, on the same notes plus a touch of lime. Comments: very hard to score, for it’s so un-consensual. And porridge-y!
SGP:361 - 85 points.

Glen Scotia 26 yo 1992/2018 (47.3%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 228 bottles)

Glen Scotia 26 yo 1992/2018 (47.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 228 bottles) Four stars
In theory, this one should be similarly doughy – if not slightly feinty. Colour: light gold. Nose: it’s not quite the same, this cask has been a little more active, while some additional metallic notes are to be found (old coins). A little smoke as well this time, rhubarb, fino, green walnuts, mustard… This could really work. Mouth: not an easy baby, for sure, but should you not be against a little bit of pepper and chalk in your whisky, you could find this very lovely, with bags of green fruits, greengages, kiwis, apples, gooseberries, and perhaps even a little wasabi while we’re in green territories. And fino! Finish: long, and very fino-y indeed. Amazingly fino-y. A few thin mints in the aftertaste, some mint toffee, Ricola (Alpine sweets for grown-ups)… Comments: a wonderful drop, very singular indeed, and indeed pretty Jerezian. Or sherry without any sherry (big savings!)
SGP:462 - 87 points.

Speaking of sherry…

Glen Scotia 25 yo 1992/2017 (53.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 2nd fill oloroso, #93.78, Like a vintage dessert wine, 186 bottles)

Glen Scotia 25 yo 1992/2017 (53.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 2nd fill oloroso, #93.78, Like a vintage dessert wine, 186 bottles) Four stars
A vintage dessert wine? Do they mean Yquem 1900? Colour: amber. Nose: LOL. Varnish all over the place, new cabinet, balsawood, models, glue, then indeed oloroso, walnuts, butterscotch… It’s actually more amontillado or palo cortado than oloroso, because of these fino-y notes that are here as well, but I have to say I rather love this. Even more Jerezian than the others – or yeah, sherry-like. Proper sherry, not flavouring PX! With water: cool and nice, pretty coastal, dry, metallic… Coins thrown into a mix of seawater and dry sherry. Mouth (neat): great at first, extremely amontillado-y indeed (remember, amontillado is a sherry that starts its life as fino and then becomes some kind of oloroso), getting just a little pungent and acrid, tannic, very peppery… Water may help. With water: yes, that works, bringing out some oranges and some cold cuts. Ham, sausages, amontillado, sweeter mustard, walnut wine… Finish: long, dry, a tad leathery, just fine despite a cardoardy aftertaste (loses points here). Comments: but where was that Yquem 1900? If this is dessert wine, it’s the driest dessert wine I’ve ever come across.
SGP:262 - 85 points.

It was a good session, I wasn’t expecting this much.

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

 

February 25, 2020


Whiskyfun

Crazy Deanstons

I think I’ve said it before, we’ve recently become Deanstonites at WF Towers. Sure they make no little use of any possible ‘wood technology’, but I believe they do it very smartly. By Jove, even the most unlikely claret barrique seems to work with Deanston! What’s their secret?

Deanston 11 yo 2008/2019 (58%, Cadenhead, Rum Cask, 264 bottles)

Deanston 11 yo 2008/2019 (58%, Cadenhead, Rum Cask, 264 bottles) Three stars and a half
Some fairly new warm-me-up by Cadenhead. This is a one-year finishing in one of the house’s regular ‘Classic Rum’ barrels, so no funky Jamaicanness to be expected here, I suppose. Colour: gold. Nose: rum. Banana cake, sugarcane juice, and the largest bag of marshmallows I’ve ever seen (seems that Boris has got one under his bed – and that it’s almost empty). With water: back on malt whisky. Barley, bread, pastry, sweet beer, cakes… well, you see. Mouth (neat): crikey, this kind of worked, against all odds. Orange fizz, gin-tonic, cinchona, liquorice wood, ginger cordial (or turmeric?)… I like this, even if we’re nowhere near any traditional malt whisky – or rum for that matter. Didn’t they just create a new category? This, is experimentation! With water: once again, the malt has got the last word. Which, in this case, is not ‘Schnapps!’ (our German-speaking friends will get this). Finish: long and malty. I’m not finding any remaining rumness. Comments: fine, honest, loyal, and very funny when unreduced. I’m not sure it’s a great swimmer.
SGP:451 - 83 points.

Deanston 20 yo 1999/2019 (49.2%, Jack Wiebers Whisky World, Great Ocean Liners, Whisky Fair Berlin 2019, bourbon, 120 bottles)

Deanston 20 yo 1999/2019 (49.2%, Jack Wiebers Whisky World, Great Ocean Liners, Whisky Fair Berlin 2019, bourbon, 120 bottles) Four stars
I agree that’s a lot of data for such a small outturn. Ha. Anyway, we should get a better grasp of Deanston’s ‘pure’ distillate this time. Colour: white wine. Nose: there, porridge, wet sawdust, rainwater, cardboard, coal, gravel, chalk… And more porridge. That’s very ‘old’ Deanston, as far as can remember it. Mouth: very good, very singular, very idiosyncratic as they say. Bitter oranges, chalk, plastic, bitter grass, rocket salad, wakame… It is, in fact, going towards Springbank, it’s just that it’s a little less deep, and a little bitterer. Strange malt, perhaps for purists – or perhaps for whisky historians. Again and again, I say ‘vive la difference !’ (I’ve decided to use more French since Brexit – joking). Finish: long, bitter and a rather fatter. Fish oil? Comments: extremely hard to score – as any score would be kind of political, or at least some kind of statement since this whisky’s so different from any other. Okay, here goes…
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Deanston 20 yo 1999/2019 (54.7%, Dead End Rock & Blues Bar, bourbon, 248 bottles)

Deanston 20 yo 1999/2019 (54.7%, Dead End Rock & Blues Bar, bourbon, 248 bottles) Four stars
Another one by Jack Wiebers, apparently, and one that’s clearly lethal according to the (lovely) label. At least you’re sure that no one, unless suicidal, will touch your bottle when you’re not at home. Seriously, it’s a brilliant label. No, seriously! Colour: straw. Nose: rounder, cleaner, less whacky, better civilised, and yet not void of any singularities and high porridge-y notes. Add weissen beer, ale, damp magazines, and there, you’ve nailed this one. With water: no more than a drop please! Or it would bring out massive cardboardy notes. Mouth (neat): huge. Pepper, porridge, bread, pepper, porridge, bread, pepper, porridge, bread, and a touch of molassy brown beer. With water: lovely as long as you do not drown it. Cinchona and roots, turmeric and such, then lemon marmalade and green pepper. It’s fighting you. Finish: long and pretty bitter, which comes cool under these circumstances. Comments: a beast, extreme and lovable. Imagine Murnau was a distiller, he would have made this kind.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

(Thank you Lau!)

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

 

February 24, 2020


Whiskyfun

Whisky of Oz

I think we’ve got a fair bunch of Australian whizzkies in the library, time to try a few…

Starward ‘Tawny Port cask’ (48%, OB, Australia, +/-2019)

Starward ‘Tawny Port cask’ (48%, OB, Australia, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
Melbourne’s whisky, perhaps the Australian whisky that’s most talked about these days. I just adore their copywriting on their blog, check it out and laugh. Colour: gold. Nose: is that Australian Port? I’m joking, no red berries in sight, I think we’ll survive. Bread, goji berries (eh?), fruit cake, Turkish currants, and just fig jam. Fig jam will kill you if you’re not careful enough – all a matter of control. I adore real artisan fig jam. Mouth: some Portness is more apparent here, so we do find more red berries, raspberries, stewed oranges with cloves and ginger, bitter oranges, more cloves, ginger, caraway… Well, this is very cool but rather too much for me. Not whisky-y enough, in other words. Finish: long, very spicy, leafy and leathery. That’s often the case with red wine, even more so when it’s fortified red wine, don’t ask me why. Comments: not my cup at all, but within its category, it’s doing pretty fine. Tawny Port, mind you… Do people still drink Tawny?
SGP:561 - 78 points.

Starward ‘Nova’ (41%, OB, Australia, 2019)

Starward ‘Nova’ (41%, OB, Australia, 2019) Three stars
I’m afraid his one was matured in red wine casks as well, but indeed you never know… Having said that, it’s Australian red wine and some are very good. Was it Grange? Colour: apricot. Nose: it is not some winesky, we’re safe. Actually, the lightness works well, while I do enjoy these blood oranges, the notes of Jaffa cake, apricot pie, brioche, lighter pumpernickel, boudoirs (Champagne biscuits)… It’s all fine, really, with some Syrah-y notes. Mouth: oh yes, it’s as if those Australian red wines behaved like if they were sherries. Walnuts, bitter oranges, a little burnt caramel, roasted nuts, beer sauce (carbonnade)… NO complains here. Finish: medium, roasted, nutty and leathery. Notes of dry Madeira. Comments: yep (you could have racked you brain here, S.)
SGP:361 - 81 points.

So, the Nova over the Tawny, but we’ve got more…

Starward 2012/2019 (59%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Australia, 2nd fill Apera barrel, 220 bottles)

Starward 2012/2019 (59%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Australia, 2nd fill Apera barrel, 220 bottles) Four stars and a half
Should we really spend some time trying to find out about those ‘Apera’ barrels? In France we know about apero very well, but apera? Joking aside, apparently, apera is some kind of Australian sherry. Not exactly needed under our European latitudes, I would say, but there. Colour: gold. Nose: stop, halt, arrêtez, silence! Lovely nose! Perfect cakes, barley, beers, coffees, breads and nuts of all kinds. Bingo. With water: I’m in heaven every time I find pumpernickel. So, pumpernickel. Mouth (neat): exactly. Walnuts, pecans, brown beers, manzanilla, and bitter oranges, plus white pepper. Perfect. With water: this feeling of liquid bread. Touches of dried pineapples. Finish: rather long, brioche-y, panettone-y (hey!) Comments: impressed with this Melbourno-Londonese effort. The only remains of the former British Empire? (check black and white stuff on Netflix).
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Perhaps fly to New-Zealand?

New Zealand 29 yo 1988/2017 (55.3%, The Whisky Exchange)

New Zealand 29 yo 1988/2017 (55.3%, The Whisky Exchange) Two stars and a half
Looks like this one’s been kind of re-launched or something. The old Willowbank/Lammerlaw stocks were petty extensive, apparently, while we were told, almost every year since the year 2000, that we were seeing the very last drops. Yeah, same story as that of Port Ellen. Colour: gold. Nose: oh?! Many oils, grasses, doughs and beers, then something hugely medicinal ala Laphroaig. Tincture of iodine, camphor, ointments, pine needles… With water: teak oil, sauna, thyme, menthol…That’s tricky! (as far as palates go…) Mouth (neat): it’s getting to the pine-y side, with many resinous flavours, old oils, waxes, oak extracts, bitter substances, spices, green tannins… This is extreme, let’s hope water won’t make it even more resinous… With water: no. Well you rather need a high-precision pipette if you don’t want to kill it (that is to say make it too cardboardy), but some bananas and pineapples make it through at around 50%. Under 50%, it’s all teas and tannins. Finish: rather long but oaky and oily. At Ikea’s. Comments: not quite the All Blacks of whisky (that was lame at best, S.) Seriously, these casks are of historical interest, no doubt about that, but I think they have now gone to the other side as far as strictly organoleptical matters are concerned.
SGP:271 - 77 points.

Wait wait wait, there’s also this…

Small Concern 23 yo 1996/2019 (53.2%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, Tasmania, 198 bottles)

Small Concern 23 yo 1996/2019 (53.2%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, Tasmania, 198 bottles) Three stars
Small Concern Distillery, a.k.a. Cradle Mountain. We’ve had a few, all have been pretty difficult but we do applaud the efforts of  what is essentially a family distillery. This one’s ex-Cabernet-Sauvignon barrel, which sounds pretty Frankensteiny I you ask me, but then again, small is good and big is evil. Let’s see… Colour: deep red amber. Nose: cherries all over the place. As liqueurs, as kirsch, as jam (check black cherry jam from Itxassou in Bask country, France), as sweets, even as yoghurt… You could add a little varnish, but that’s what you would already find in proper kirsch eau-de-vie. With water: I kind of like this, it smells like the cherries on my cherry tree when the birds and the wasps have attacked them all and they’re rotting in situ. A very distinctive smell. Mouth (neat): varnish, peanut butter, and indeed cherry liqueur. Loads of peanut butter, I believe this is the first time I’m finding this much peanut butter in any whisky. With water: maraschino, guignolet, varnish, and almond oil. Finish: sameish, but getting sour. Comments: love these series by Cadenhead, they seem to be afraid of strictly nothing in Campbeltown. To the taster they’re a joy since they’re so unusual and entertaining. And plain crazy. And sometimes lethal.
SGP:452 - 80 points.

Right, better call this a tasting session… See ya!

 

February 23, 2020


Whiskyfun

A few vintage Bas-Armagnacs on a Sunday

We’ve tried some very good Cognacs last week, so let’s have some of their little brothers today. Not that the good people down there in Gers or Landes would easily agree with that term…

Delord 1986/2016 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Delord 1986/2016 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) Three stars and a half
This baby by the very well-reputed house Delord in Lannepax (Gers). It came in different bottles, halves, regular ones, basquaises, magnums… It’s to be remembered that 1986 was a great vintage in Bordeaux, which lies just West of Gers. Mouton 1986, anyone? Colour: deep gold. Nose: deep and rich, full of raisins and prunes as well as maple syrup and honey, going more towards quinces and dried apricots after just three seconds. Behind that fruity arrival, some coffee, tobacco, and echoes of old rancio. A little toasted oak as well. All is fine so far, this is very ‘traditional’ old Armagnac, apparently. Mouth: there might be a little bit of old wood, which a higher bottling strength may have easily counterbalanced, but other than that it’s a very fine drop, drier than expected, rather on black tea, coffee and bitter chocolate, also old oloroso. No no no, this can’t be a sherry cask! Finish: medium, a tad gritty and rustic, but otherwise all fine and pretty chocolaty. Some welcome oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: I’ll keep rambling on and ranting, 40% cannot do such fine drops justice. If you like, ‘anymore’.
SGP:361 - 83 points.

Delord 1995/2017 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Delord 1995/2017 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) Three stars and a half
This one’s a blend of four main varietals, bacco, ugni blanc, folle blanche and colombard. And let’s not forget that with French brandies, the vintages are those of the harvests, not the years when the spirits were distilled. Although in general, they would not wait for long between the two events (not even sure that would be legal). Colour: amber. Nose: a very similar style, although this one would be rather fresher and fruitier. Peaches and almond milk. Rather beautiful, and perhaps a notch Cognacqy. Mouth: more assertive than the 1986, fresher, more flavoursome… A wee feeling of coffee-schnapps, mirabelle eau-de-vie, mocha, quince jelly, toasted cake… This is very satisfying. Finish: medium, fruity, with more oak again in the aftertaste. Comments: once again the low strength’s a little problematic, but I wouldn’t say they get away with murder, it’s still a very fine drop, perfectly balanced. Would be a hit at 46% vol.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Let’s try to find an example…

Darroze Domaine de Jouanchicot 19 yo 1997/2016 (49.6%, OB, Unique Collection, Bas-Armagnac)

Darroze Domaine de Jouanchicot 19 yo 1997/2016 (49.6%, OB, Unique Collection, Bas-Armagnac) Four stars
Another very well-reputed house! This time it is pure ugni blanc. Colour: deep gold. Nose: we ‘re a little closer to malt whisky here, and that’s not all due to the higher strength. I would say it is a little more floral, for example, while it’s also waxier, with whiffs of fresh putty, sap, then quite a lot of orange blossom, which I just cherish. A little olive oil. Perfect nose, well done Darroze. Mouth: excellent and very ‘Armagnac’ this time – pretty unsurprisingly – with some coffee, dried currants, dried figs, one or two prunes, then these nots of putty once again, even a little chlorophyll, which makes it even more rustic.  Thick and oily mouthfeel. Finish: long, on bitter oranges, dried pears, and just espresso coffee. Comments: a great Armagnac that rather reeks of the countryside. For your hipflask.
SGP:561 - 86 points.

Domaine de Lasgraves 1978 (46%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2017)

Domaine de Lasgraves 1978 (46%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2017) Four stars and a half
This is own-estate Armagnac from Labastide d’Armagnac in the Landes. I believe it is pure bacco (or baco) this time. Colour: amber. Nose: another one that’s very lovely, this time more traditional again, with polished wood, marmalade and mango jam (not that mangos are often to be found in Armagnac), then an obvious floral side, with orange blossom this time again, ylang-ylang, lime blossom, even lilies… You could almost make a great perfume out of this. Some cappuccino and mocha too. Beautiful aromatic nose, but remember that with many Armagnacs, it’s peace on the nose and war on the palate (not an official saying, just my own opinion). Let’s see… Mouth: some grittiness from the oak (and bitter cocoa), but other than that, it’s all a bed of apricots, quinces, mirabelles, and perhaps rose petals. Also touches of dried porcinis and some lovely albeit tiny varnishy notes. Wait, did someone distil some top notch Sauternes or Barsac here? Finish: rather long, fruitier than all the others, and rather on coffee-mirabelle this time. Love this. Comments: we’re almost touching the stars this time. To think that I had never heard of this small domaine before! Looks like it’s easier to find in the UK (I know, bl***y Brexit)…
SGP:651 - 89 points.

A last one, because five’s a perfect number…

Castarède 1974/2018 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Castarède 1974/2018 (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) Five stars
Ouch, 40%, the house Castarède is highly reputed too, but those 40% might just sink this old baby. My bad, I should have had it earlier in this flight. By the way, it is well 44 years old, while the price would lie around 200€. You read that right, no missing zero here, but no inflated marketing to pay for either. In other words, booze that does not constantly try to scr*w its customers (deepest apologies to anyone who’d feel offended just now). Colour: deep gold. Nose: there, stewed peaches and ripe melons, that’s the most perfect start. Then Toulouse violets (that’s not far), geranium flowers (not leaves),golden sultanas, and dandelions and assorted yellow flowers. In the background, some faint coastal notes, perhaps a little kelp? Let’s just hope it won’t fall apart on our palates… Mouth: well, not quite, looks like the distillate was having substance and body. I cannot not think of some 1950s-1960s Macallans. Oranges, honey, mead, touches of eucalyptus, liquorice, wee waxes and oils, dried figs and dates, quinces, light toffee and fudge, mocha, a little tobacco, nectarines, coffee, a little pine wood... Well, I should have asked you to call the Anti-Armagnaporn Brigade! Finish: only medium -a wee shame – but lovely, fruity, waxy, and rather all on dried figs after a while. Comments: this would have been ‘de la bombe’ at 45 or 46% vol. I told you we’d start to use more French…
SGP:661 - 90 points.

Enough with 40% vol.; Brussels, please do something!

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

 

February 22, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Old & Rare Preview Session
Next week is the Whisky Show Old & Rare in London, which I co-organise and am quite looking forward to. So, as has become tradition, let’s have a rummage through an incoherent mixed bag of some of the drams which will be at the show. Needless to say, we should probably expect some high scores, but I’ll do my best to keep the maltoporn to a minimum.

 

Glenordie 12 yo (43.5%, OB, 1980s)

Glenordie 12 yo (43.5%, OB, 1980s)
A reasonably scarce old official Glen Ord bottled for the export market around the mid-1980s at the curious strength of 43.5%. Other bottlings under this livery at lower ABVs have been generally pretty good in my experience. Colour: gold. Nose: lovely! Honeys, waxes, pollens, some rather punchy cereal notes, buttered toast and things like clay, chalk and other pleasing mineral qualities. Pretty typical old school Glen Ord in other words, a style that nods rather clearly towards some of the later and excellent official bottlings from the Special Releases (the 28 and 30yo bottlings in particular). Mouth: clean, waxy and showing some rather fleshy and pulpy exotic fruit notes. Oily rags, tool boxes, hessian cloth, dried herbs, mango – all manner of older style flavours and fuller, more ‘old highland’ style characteristics. Finish: good length, on camphor, waxes, metal polish, hessian, lemon peel and olive oil. Comments: I love these old Ord bottlings, they’re kind of like the diet version of old Clynelish. All those old school flavours in abundance but with a lower fat content. Anyway, this is great!
SGP: 563 – 89 points.

 

 

Scotch Whisky. Late 19th Century.

Scotch Whisky. Late 19th Century.
One of these random ancient bottles spat out of a time warp by an auction house. No label remained on the glass but the wax seal stamp on the top of the driven cork stated ‘Whisky’, beyond that however, I couldn’t tell you about brands, distilleries or malt content. Colour: gold. Nose: a superbly fat, almost glycerol peatiness, camphors, barbour grease and gloopy old herbal cough medicines. This kind of aroma seems to be found only in these extremely old peated whiskies. Which suggests something to do with the peat itself and – more than likely – something to do with the way the peat’s phenols evolve in bottle over such timespans. This one becomes more honeyed but also more tarry, more emphatic and more earthy and medical. Totally thrilling. Makes the hairs stand up on your neck! Mouth: what I often find with such ancient whiskies is this mechanical aspect: old tool boxes, copper coins, steel wool, embrocations, diesel oil, boiler smoke. There’s a really raw and unctuous depth to this profile. Old Victorian distillers often presented themselves as being at the cutting edge of modern engineering and mass production, so this profile is kind of fitting in a way. Gets again peatier, more herbal, more sooty and more greasy. Finish: long, sooty, metallic, camphory and slightly earthy and vegetal. Comments: You have to be careful with such drams as your emotions can run away with you. However, this is still a tremendous dram. The power and depth are still hugely impressive given the time in bottle. You do feel some OBE here and there but it’s integrated rather than lopsided, and the flavour of the peat is totally captivating. Not every day you can taste whisky from the 19th century.
SGP: 476 – 90 points.

 

 

John Brown & Son Finest Old Highland Whisky. Bottled 1930s.)

John Brown & Son Finest Old Highland Whisky. Bottled 1930s.)
Another of these beautiful old time warp bottles. Colour: coppery gold. Nose: Richer, more polished and with more than a hint of old school sherry about it. Although, there’s a similar depth and complexity to the peatiness. More of this herbal cough medicine, soot and earthiness. Only globally this is more refined and elegant, the sherry adds these salty and savoury notes of Maggi seasoning, bouillon stock, walnut skins and miso broth. We’re really in a totally different era of whisky production here. Mouth: Rather fatty, earthy and herbal but also gamey, meaty and animalistic as well. More of this lovely salinity from the sherry – like a particularly nutty and salty old Oloroso. Some cooking oils, Scotch broth and more notes of natural tar and cough medicines. Finish: medium, coal smoke, dried herbs, putty and camphor. Comments: Great old whisky, perhaps a tad simplistic at times but pleasurable and undeniably moving all the same. Probably a high malt content blend.
SGP: 564 – 89 points.

 

 

Old Pulteney 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, late 1970s)

Old Pulteney 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, late 1970s)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: extremely pure, mineral and chalky. Almost dusty and flinty, showing this beautifully chiselled and taut profile. Citrons, petrol, light waxiness, sandalwood and crushed sea shells. Also aspirin, gauze, light embrocations and hints of brake fluid. Powerful but superbly controlled. Very old school and old highlands in style. With water: superbly ‘clear’ with this very petrolic kind of minerality. Soots, iron, camphor, dried flowers, wax paper, hessian and Mirabelle eau de vie. Mouth: terrific arrival! All on punchy minerals, petrol, waxes, chalk and limestone. Also rather beautifully drying with this kind of brittle medicinal side. Unlike anything bottled these days. With water: barley sugars, hessian, dried flowers, cereals and freshly chopped parsley. Still wonderfully chalk, coastal, mineral and medical. Finish: Long, punchy, becoming slightly greasy and fat with waxes, petrol, honeysuckle and pollens. Still brightly coastal. Comments: These are just such superb old school whiskies. Windows that leave the distillate nowhere to hide; thankfully these old school makes had nothing to hide.
SGP: 354 – 92 points.

 

 

Coleburn 26 yo 1983/2010 (48.6%, Exclusive Malts, cask #1463, hogshead, 209 bottles)

Coleburn 26 yo 1983/2010 (48.6%, Exclusive Malts, cask #1463, hogshead, 209 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: hyper fresh and full of clay, fabrics, crushed seashells, limestone, plasticine and ink. The purity is superb! Lots of linens, mineral oils, freshly baked soda bread and even these wee hints of gauze, waxes and petrol. Like a bastard sibling of Clynelish. But then again, don’t we often say that about all these older style lost highlanders such as Glenlochy etc? Really, isn’t Clynelish just a bit old school highlands rather than the other way round? Discuss, write detailed essays and send them all to Serge on Facebook. Anyway… beautiful old Coleburn. Taut, fresh, aromatic and nervous. A wine drinker’s malt for sure. Mouth: pow! Emphatic, rich, oily, powerful, medical, chalky and full of these citrus and waxy flavours. Really terrific stuff! Peppery, lightly herbal, slightly salty and still many of these very structured and balanced mineral qualities. Finish: long and full of soft waxes, gentle medical embrocations and chalk minerals. There’s rather a lot of honey and salty old mead notes in the aftertaste. Comments: Isn’t there already a bit of revisionism going on with Coleburn? I’m sure there’s only about seven people who really care, but I think it was a pretty special distillate. Or, once again, was that simply the broader style of the time amongst those slightly less efficient distilleries that all got the chop in the 1980s?
SGP: 463 – 91 points.

 

 

Glenlochy 38 yo 1965/2003 (42.3%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 171 bottles)

Glenlochy 38 yo 1965/2003 (42.3%, Douglas Laing Platinum, 171 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: the kind of aroma that seems to exist only with old style distillate aged for a long time in refill wood. That is to say a huge collision of old cedar cigar boxes, beeswax, pollens, heather honey, waxes, white truffle oil, dried mint, leather, ink and many subtle wood spice notes. Warming, deep and displaying this rather beautiful yet fragile complexity. Mouth: the wood is loud but it is hyper clean and showing all manner of exotic hardwood resins, spices and these warming notes of old leather and toasted pepper. Boot polish, furniture oil, camphor, dried herbs, bay leaf, old green Chartreuse, menthol tobacco. The kind of palate that actually matches the nose and possibly even outstrips it a little, which is rare with these older malts. Some crystallised fruits and citrus peels keep things fresh and just the right side of tidy. Finish: medium but beautifully leathery, camphory and with this slightly lactic and beery quality that gives maltiness and backbone. Comments: Still kicking, although you get the impression this was captured in the nick of time. Beautiful old style distillate in rich and opulent form showing the kinds of deep, aromatic complexities that only a long stretch of time in refill wood can deliver. Fragile to an extent but still beautifully elegant and impressive.
SGP: 562 – 91 points.

 

 

Longmorn 1968/2004 (61.4%, Scott’s Selection, Speyside Importing Co USA)

Longmorn 1968/2004 (61.4%, Scott’s Selection, Speyside Importing Co USA)
Colour: orangey gold. Nose: it’s the viscosity of the fruit that strikes first. Emphatic and highly syrupy and concentrated. Lots of exotic, green and yellow fruits. Almost quivering in jellied form. Very typical old Longmorn; which is to say: brilliant! In time it becomes more jammy, mentholated and gives up notes of tea tree oil and light, playful waxiness. With water: gets almost salty and fatty now. Notes of verbena, mango, wormwood, camphor and tropical juice. Mouth: the arrival is surprisingly subtle and all on spearmint, camphor, olive oil, flavoured pipe tobaccos, dried mint, eucalyptus resin and crystalised tropical fruits. Dried pineapple, papyay, exotic fruit teas and lime zest. Like juicy fruit chewing gum! With water: concentrated waxes, dried exotic fruits, passion flower, juniper and old herbal liqueurs. Finish: Long, lemony, minty, waxy and peppery. Comments: Brilliant. But then, anyone that knows old Longmorn could probably have guessed that. Boringly terrific whisky that should keep you stocked up on vitamins and fructose for at least a week!
SGP: 752 – 92 points.

 

 

Talisker 28 yo 1973/2001 (43.3%, OB for Oddbins, 100 bottles)

Talisker 28 yo 1973/2001 (43.3%, OB for Oddbins, 100 bottles)
A rather legendary wee bottling done for Oddbins, back when they were more of a thing. And also back when distilling companies would countenance such crazy schemes as doing 100 decanters of 1973 Talisker for a wine merchant. Although, I dread to think how many pallets of 10yo Talisker Oddbins had to agree to buy in order to get this… Colour: bright straw. Nose: more than a nod and a wink over the hills to Brora here. It’s Talisker Serge, but not as we know it! Beautifully peppery and salty but also this rather resinous and camphory peat, medical embrocations and an almost Clynelish-esque waxiness. You might add fresh fabrics, leather, mineral salts, chalk, bandages, seawater and bouquet garni of dried herbs. Elegance, control and complexity are the watchwords here. Mouth: Really, this could be a 1972 Clynelish! Superbly herbal, waxy, coastal and with this rather honeyed and vivid peatiness. Some more Taliskerish embrocations and pepperiness in the background but it’s all waxes, citrons, minerals and tertiary, earthy complexities up front. Brilliant whisky! Finish: long, leathery, herbal, beautifully coastal, waxy, honeyed and gently peaty. Comments: Everyone says this is great, and they are not wrong. The fact there’s only 100 of these wee decanters probably explains why it’s not more widely known and why it hasn’t appeared on wee Whiskyfun before. Anyway, a Talisker that talks with a Sutherland accent. The development, complexity and quiet power are hugely impressive.
SGP: 464 – 93 points.

 

 

Tamdhu 27 yo 1970/1997 (49.5%, Signatory Vintage, cask #375, sherry butt, 230 bottles)

Tamdhu 27 yo 1970/1997 (49.5%, Signatory Vintage, cask #375, sherry butt, 230 bottles)
These casks have a pretty mighty reputation. Colour: deep amber. Nose: immensely unctuous and full of stewed dark fruits, old Cognac, rancio, dark chocolate, leather and many concentrated stocks and umami pastes. Amazing concentration, power and depth. The kind of luscious old sherry that just kills modern sherry casks stone dead. Mouth: pure bitter chocolate sauce, game meat, leather, mushroom powder and more old resinous rancio. Lashings of cocoa, raisins, hessian and prunes stewed in Armagnac. The sherry is so rich and impressively dense but never overly drying or tannic – always erring on the side of fruits and things like bitter chocolate and coffee. Finish: Super long, lightly drying, darkly fruity, meaty and leathery. A brilliant pepperiness in the aftertaste. Comments: Yes, pretty much as was to be expected.
SGP: 653 – 94 points.

 

 

Ardbeg 1975/2002 (47.6%, OB for VELIER, cask #4703, sherry hogshead, 240 bottles)

Ardbeg 1975/2002 (47.6%, OB for VELIER, cask #4703, sherry hogshead, 240 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: typically tarry and full of simmering embrocations, pure peat smoke, seawater, old creel nets, rope and hessian. There’s also flint smoke, chalk, beach pebbles and a more direct and fulsome minerality than usual in these old Ardbegs. You also get a hint of rancio and walnut oil from the sherry which is extremely pleasing. Further notes of waxes, mustard powder, smoked paprika and aged pu erh teas. Mouth: hugely peppery, spicy, dry peat, something like smoked mushrooms (if such a thing exists) and preserve lemons in brine. Leans heavily towards hessian, camphor and smoked olive oil. Salty, fat, oily, tarry and very classical, with a mouthfeel that feels bolder and bigger that it’s ABV would suggest. Finish: Long, medical, wonderfully tarry and full of pure peat smoke, black pepper, smoked meats and black olives. Comments: Pure class. An old Ardbeg that feels like it’s been caught at just the right moment. Love the salty interplay between the distillate and the sherry cask.
SGP: 466 – 93 points.

 

 

 

 

February 21, 2020


Whiskyfun

A double verticale of Clynelish

Double because we’ll have some Clynelish from both distilleries today, the ‘new’ one and the old one that was to be rechristened Brora in 1969 after the new one had been erected. Are you following me? Having said that, we’ve got quite a few babies on the tasting table today, so maybe shall we have to cut this session in halves. Or not, we’ll see… By the way, looks like we’ve tried our 400th Clynelish in December, without even noticing. Bwah…

Distilled in Sutherland 9 yo 2010/2019 (51.3%, Thompson Bros., refill American oak barrel, 320 bottles)

Distilled in Sutherland 9 yo 2010/2019 (51.3%, Thompson Bros., refill American oak barrel, 320 bottles) Four stars
I mean, isn’t it all becoming ridiculous? Not being allowed to use the name Clynelish? Secret Islay, Secret Orkney, Secret Speyside, Secret Lowland, now Secret Sutherland, soon Secret Skye… Can’t we already smell some new kinds of crookeries coming? Colour: very white white wine. Nose:. pure wax, with touches of animal fat (mutton suet), then metal polish and grapefruit skin. It’s pretty acidic, almost a razorblade on the nose. Some flints too. With water: dairies, aspirin, limestone, lemon, touches of fennel. Mouth (neat): it is a little eau-de-vie-ish (pear), then extremely citrusy. Dry lemon cordial (limoncello without the cellos, as they say). With water: chalk and ink – we’re at school. Some paraffin. Finish: rather long, with the lemons wining it in the end. Ashes and salt in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps still  a bit in its infancy, but that’s also what makes it interesting. Some kind of virtual Clynelish, I would say.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Clynelish 11 yo 2008/2019 (53%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Sponge, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 250 bottles)

Clynelish 11 yo 2008/2019 (53%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Sponge, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 250 bottles) Four stars
This one came with a very strange cat on the label. In case you don’t know The Whisky Sponge, it’s a blog that’s more or less a natural son of Charlie Hebdo and Private Eye, fueled with whisky, naturally. The Sponge is also a friend, but that’s not the reason why I love reading his writings (looks like it’s also the industry’s preferred website). Now as for the Sponge’s own bottlings, let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: mirabelle eau-de-vie, crushed chalk, eucalyptus, fresh almonds, broken branches, the faintest echoes of grated coconut, and touches of custard. Pretty civilised this far, and not as controversial as his master’s blogging. With water: there, earth, old jacket, rainwater, mint, cut cactus, fresh almonds, a little fresh butter… Mouth (neat): much more mature than the 2010, but that’s partly thanks to some active American oak that imparted a little coconut and vanillin indeed. Other than that, we’re having green apples, lime, plasticine, chalk and touches of ripe kiwis, then quite some white pepper. With water: water makes it gentler, with even tiny echoes of almost-neighbor Glenmorangie, but that may be the American oak talking. Finish: medium to long, and rather closer to the 1990s vintages now, that is to both waxier and more citrusy. The distillate has been taking its time. Comments: these 2008s seem to be real good, I can’t wait to check these vintages when once they’ve reached 20.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Distilled in Sutherland 19 yo 2000/2019 (51.7%, Thompson Bros., 181 bottles)

Distilled in Sutherland 19 yo 2000/2019 (51.7%, Thompson Bros., 181 bottles) Five stars
Here we go again… Or maybe is it a wee joke by the excellent Thompsons? After all, their own distillery (Dornoch) lies in Sutherland too, the town’s even the region’s former capital city. Plus, should anyone doubt this is Clynelish, they've rather smartly put a kitty on the label. Colour: white wine. Nose: you can feel this is older, there are additional aromas such as bicycle inner tube, linseed oil, acacia gum, pine cone smoke, barbecue, leatherette (a.k.a. leather for vegans)… It’s all a little acrid, but I love this. With water: top notch, perfect age, perfect spirit, perfect cask. Mouth (neat): perfect, not extremely emblematic but perfect. Smoked tangerines, plasticine, rubber and leather, charcoal, wormwood and even absinth (a drop), green bananas… With water: oils. Funnily enough, we’re geared towards Ben Nevis, somehow. Finish: medium to long, waxier, almondy, with citrons in the aftertaste. Love citrons, they’ll soon be able to grow them, up there in… Sutherland. Comments: extremely good, and a little gentle. The world needs more gentleness, does it not.
SGP:552 - 90 points.

Looks like it’s all going well and according to plans, so let’s keep going back in time…

Clynelish 13 yo 1997/2013 (48.9%, The Whisky Agency for Groningen Whisky Festival)

Clynelish 13 yo 1997/2013 (48.9%, The Whisky Agency for Groningen Whisky Festival) Two stars and a half
I know the numbers don’t quite add-up, we’ll have to work on this (later). Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s a gentle Clynelish, fruity, not very waxy, rather on overripe apples and various compotes. Ripe gooseberries. Perhaps was it distilled just as the receiver had been thoroughly cleaned? Mouth: it’s a bizarre Clynelish, with odd touches of plastic, over-infused herbal teas (thyme), and something that could be remnants of  little fusel oil. Something a little bitter too (glue?) Finish: rather long, curiously cleaner and more lemony. Comments: not 100% sure about this one, I’ll try to try it again in the future. Still a fine drop though; mind you, it is still Clynelish.
SGP:362 - 79 points.

Another 1997 please…

Clynelish 20 yo 1997/2017 (56.5%, Sansibar for Spirits Shop Selection, hogshead, cask #6932, 276 bottles)

Clynelish 20 yo 1997/2017 (56.5%, Sansibar for Spirits Shop Selection, hogshead, cask #6932, 276 bottles) Four stars and a half
This baby for our excellent friends in Taiwan. You would hardly know that from the label ;-). Colour: gold. Nose: waxier than wax this time, with new Wellies, bicycle inner tubes yet again, paraffin, drawing gum, oil paint, then unexpected notes of old dry Madeira, mustard and walnuts, old chardonnay… Was it not a sherry hogshead? With water: wood smoke, walnuts, bone-dry oxidative sherry. That’s right, oloroso. Mouth (neat): grand sherried Clynelish, full of tobacco, mustard, old walnuts and pepper. It’s really very big, without a single off-note (just like all other big distillates, Clynelish and sherry may sometimes clash in my book). Amontillado. With water: lovely bitterness. Brown beer, more walnuts, drops of Jamaican rum, a little salt… There are lots of action in there. Finish: long, on the same flavours, with a salty, almost umami-y signature. Comments: I’m surprised the label didn’t mention sherry, but there, it’s bigly lovely, believe me, no other malt is biglier than this one (D.J., come out of this body!)
SGP:362 - 89 points.

Back to the early 1990s… with more sherry!

Clynelish 14 yo 1990/2004 (53.1%, Kingsbury, sherry cask, 455 bottles)

Clynelish 14 yo 1990/2004 (53.1%, Kingsbury, sherry cask, 455 bottles) Five stars
Was this baby one of those ex-Valdespino Clynelishes? Not easy babies if I remember well, let’s see… Colour: brown amber. Nose: I think I remember these batches. Something metallic (old copper coins), notes of fumes and old guns, some bitter oranges, artichoke liqueur (or Cynar), bitters, then umami sauce, glutamate, soy, a whole box of cigars, the obligatory walnuts, walnut liqueur, then cured ham, black olives… In truth this is a whole meal! With water: very old riesling, smoked muffins (FZ would have enjoyed this), bags or raisins, and good bouillons and miso. Wasn’t this bottling for Japan? Mouth (neat): no clashes here, rather an avalanche or raisins, goji berries, prunes, marzipan, pudding, chocolate, mocha, tobacco… What would Gwyneth say? With water: bitter chocolate, espresso coffee, and perhaps a little bit of cooked garlic. Again, almost more some plain fortifying food than a liquor. Finish: long, meaty, with some liquorice. Salty aftertaste (beef and asparagus soup). Comments: I’m just noticing that I haven’t said that I enjoyed this one a lot, for it’s so much less unbalanced (and sulphury!) than others in the same cluster. Huge whisky.
SGP:572 - 90 points.

Perhaps a new old one before we start to tackle a few ‘Old’ Clynelishes?...

Clynelish 36 yo (47.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland for The Whisky Show Old & Rare, Director’s Cut, 2020)

Clynelish 36 yo (47.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland for The Whisky Show Old & Rare, Director’s Cut, 2020) Five stars
They had to have it good in London after Brexit and after having been crunched by the French at the 6 Nations Tournament. Yep that’s rugby. Looks like they’ve found relief in this wee Clynelish that’s just been bottled exclusively for the Old & Rare Show that will happen by the end of this month in London this time, rather than in Glasgow. Let’s try this baby, since the vintage is good (as if you need that excuse, S.) Same level as that of the 1972s in my book. Yes. Colour: gold. Nose: plenty of natural oils at first (rapeseed, grape pips, linseed) then ground fresh almonds and pecans, marzipan, and some cellulose, or fresh bark, green coffee, cocoa pods, balsam, camphor, ointments, massage balms… That’s all rotating around waxiness, as you may have noticed. Mouth: miraculous intact, that is to say un-oaky, and yet superbly resinous, with some almond paste, putty, beeswax, pistachio cream, peanut butter and all that. Citrons and kumquats at the citrus department, some red apples as well, grapes, then a little gentian (which is very Clynelish as well)… Perhaps a touch of turmeric as well – so this baby will cure just anything and make us live longer. What’s extremely impressive here is the freshness, the total absence of anything tannic or drying, and, well, just the utter Clynelishness, not always easy to describe. Finish: long, with an incredible freshness, more citrus now, and a very funny and intriguing passion fruit in the aftertaste, mingled with just the wee-est ideas of some very infinitesimal oak extracts. Comments: luminous whisky and quite a coup here. This, is luxury, and a very rejuvenating experience. Okay, good, I’ll definitely go the Old & Rare Show, it’s decided. But don’t we now need visas?
SGP:561 - 93 points.

Good, no 1972 currently in the library I’m afraid, so let’s just jump to… Old Clynelish, the Brora-Distillery-to-be (are you still with us?)

Clynelish 1965/1988 (54%, The Gillies Club Australia, cask #665)

Clynelish 1965/1988 (54%, The Gillies Club Australia, cask #665) Five stars
Holy featherless crow! We’ve found the missing cask, it had gone to Australia! Signatory Vintage had bottled the others (666 and 667) a few years later in their bulky livery, but to be honest, I had never seen #665 before. Never, ever. More proof that all things come to him who waits, and that the Gillies Club were real pioneers. Colour: white wine. Nose: an incredible, and pretty austere blend of soot, metal polish, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, coal, ink, old oil paint,  washing powder, old tweed, shoe polish and engine oil. Perhaps some of last week’s vase water too. Beautifully austere, really, and rather on coal smoke globally. With water: touches of fresh oak, raw wool, more metal polish, brake fluid, brine, that old tweed jacket, and just the wee-est whiffs of rabbit hutch. Just cleaned. Mouth (neat): love this so much! It’s really cool to have it right after many ‘new’ Clynelishes, because it’s pretty different, with many more roots, gentian, beets, celeriac, then some salted lime juice (the best margarita ever) and really a lot of ink, tonic wine, cinchona, chalk, paraffin… Some would call it a little cerebral, perhaps, but I do not agree. It’s just the best mezcal aver. Did I just write mezcal? I mean old-school coastal Highlander. Huge grapefruit too. With water: well, imagine eighty percent proper ‘wild’ mezcal mixed with twenty percent limoncello from a good maker’s. Plus pepper, salt and basta. Finish: really long, smoky, bone dry, a tad steely, otherwise very salty and, yes, waxy. A perfect bridge to the much fruitier ‘new’ Clynelishes. Comments: feels like home to me, but indeed housing is becoming very expensive in our parts of the world, figuratively speaking. And by the way, are there other unknown casks around? #664? #668? You know my number, that would be +44 20 7925 0918. Don’t, that’s 10 Downing.
SGP:363 - 94 points.

Clynelish 12 yo (56.9%, OB for Edward & Edward, white label, no rotation year)

Clynelish 12 yo (56.9%, OB for Edward & Edward, white label, no rotation year) Five stars
I’ve probably already tried this one as rotation 1969 or 1971, but in this very case, I couldn’t tell you which it is – haven’t seen the cap - hence I solemnly declare that it is ‘new’ to me. And I do what I want, capice? Mind you, who could resist one of these wonders at 100 proof that used to be ordered by Eduardo ‘Baffo’ Giaccone while the Distillery was content with doing 43% vol. for its own use? Colour: white wine. Nose: similar territories, but this one’s fatter, oilier, and rather more herbal (fern). It’s also greasier, with some suet, even some marrow, cold cuts, some camphor, some menthol… It was an even bigger distillate, but remember this one was rather distilled around the mid 1950s, which was before the distillery was converted to steam heating (1961). So this was direct-fired using coal, albeit probably not coal from the old Brora mine anymore. Brilliant, please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade immediately! With water: paraffin, fresh butter, linseed oil, new fabric, and lemon juice. Mouth (neat): best whisky made by men and women, period. Right, one of them. Huge brine, lime, soot, eucalyptus, grapefruits, paraffin and iodine, all that in perfect synch. As they say, this is like Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band after a bottle of bourbon. Each. With water: sweet Vishnu! Should Ettore Bugatti, or Enzo Ferrari have been distillers rather than carmakers, this is the kind of spirit they would have made. Good, I suppose they would have given better care to the design of the bottle as well. Finish: very long, salty, chalkier, with touches of lemon fizz. Incredibly bright and lively. Comments: some magistral, pretty transcendental whisky that will make you touch the skies and mix with the eagles (S., we have to talk).
SGP:463 - 96 points.

Why not some even older Clynelish and then call this a session?

Clynelish 14 yo (92° proof, Royal Marine Hotel, 26 2/3 fluid oz, +/-1970)

Clynelish 14 yo (92° proof, Royal Marine Hotel, white glass golden foil straight label, 26 2/3 fluid oz, +/-1970) Four stars
92° proof UK means around 52-53% vol. BTW, will BoJo want to go back to old Imperial scales? These bottlings used to be sold at the hotel in Brora as very small batches, which means that they were almost never totally the same. Some have questioned the authenticity of some bottles that were still to be found relatively easily around ten or fifteen years ago, but I have to say that I could try quite a few, and that they’ve all been good. By the way, I had one bottle stolen from me a few years back, so if you ever spot one with a golden cap, clear white glass and tilting label, please advise, thank you mucho. Colour: light gold. Nose: it is lighter than the others, and that’s not only the slightly lower strength. Have to say it’s got something of an old blend, perhaps one by Ainslie’s? A little cardboard, toasted oak, gravel, grilled beef… Some Royal Edinburghs used to be a bit like this. This is intriguing, to say the least, let’s see if water wakes it up. With water: this is much nicer, with a meaty sherry, walnuts, notes of palo cortado, butterscotch, and a little beef soup. Having said that, it’s not extremely Clynelish. Mouth (neat): hard to say, it’s having a lot of trouble after the 1965 and the 12 (but both were stellar whiskies), having said that some sides are on the spot, especially this fatness and the notes of polish. Not too sure, really… With water: not quite, rather too much cardboard now. Ut it remains pretty good.  Finish: medium. Old walnuts and more bouillon. Comments: it’ true that most Royal Marines did share a bit of this dirty-ish meatiness. What’s sure is that this style is nowhere near  that of the OBs, and neither is it close to the dumpy ones by Cadenhead. It’s also true that they’ve always been a little mysterious anyway, those RMs…
SGP:362 - 85 points.

It seems to me that provided there was no sherry in the way, I wold say Old Clynelish was probably the ultimate ‘riesling’ whisky. We’re talking well-aged riesling from a legendary terroir, made by a great winemaker!

(Thanks Angus, The Good Spirits, Otto and the others)

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

 

February 20, 2020


Whiskyfun

Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions,
today Balblair

Always loved the fruitiest Highlander of them all. We’ll have a new indie 10 years old, and then see if we can find an older baby…

Balblair 10 yo 2009/2019 (59.4%, The Whisky Barrel Originals, 1st fill oloroso hogshead, cask #TWB1008, 284 bottles)

Balblair 10 yo 2009/2019 (59.4%, The Whisky Barrel Originals, 1st fill oloroso hogshead, cask #TWB1008, 284 bottles) Four stars
Let’s see if the sherry’s heavy here, and if it would block the spirit’s trademark fresh fruitiness… Colour: light gold. A miracle that it’s not really dark. Nose: it’s not dark but it is extremely vinous, not in a bad way at all. So no whiffs of plonk, rather some bone dry walnut wine as well as whiffs of exhaust fumes and struck matches. Fresh coffee roasting. With water: earthier, more vegetal, with even notes of mud and damp garden peat… Mouth (neat): really punchy and very dry, on more or less the same flavours as on the nose. Walnuts, soot, ashes, very bitter teas, Fernet-Branca, Noilly Prat, even a feeling of salt... Isn’t this some kind of oak-aged dry martini in disguise? With water: add thyme and rosemary, cloves, allspice, caraway, and a little leather. Still rather extreme. Finish: long, very bitter. Eating tobacco, I would say. Comments: rather spectacular, I do enjoy this ultra-dry and bitter style, but I’m not sure you should try to pour this to, say dedicated Jack Daniels lovers. Anybody finding the distillery here deserves Donald J. trump’s History of the Origins of Christianity in twenty-seven volumes (hardcover deluxe edition).
SGP:272 - 86 points.

So find an old Balblair… Oh perhaps this?...

Balblair 35 yo 1970/2005 (44.2%, OB, bourbon)

Balblair 35 yo 1970/2005 (44.2%, OB, bourbon) Five stars
This was ‘a specialist bottling’, you understand. What’s sure is that the 1966 that they had bottled a few months earlier as a 38 yo had been just superb (WF 92 back in 2004). Why I’ve never tried this little 1970 before, I don’t know. Colour: gold. Nose: well, ite missa est right upfront, no question. Amazing pollen, beeswax, honey, preserved peaches, apricots and mirabelles, then more tertiary elements such as almond milk, putty, old books, sweet little mushrooms (not those), a wee slice of tarte tatin, an even smaller spoonful of crème brulée, some orgeat, just a wee bit of pine resin (after all, it’s 35)… Well, there was another 1970 that used to showcase a similarly perfect nose near those times, that was the Bruichladdich, remember? Mouth: bites you just a wee bit (oak) at first, but gets then chewy and superbly citrusy, rather on grapefruit and bitter oranges. Some nutmeg and some pepper too, plus all the fruits albeit toned down a wee bit. The oak seems to be willing to take over, but the distillate is still resisting, even if there would be a wee feeling of ‘Fort Alamo’s last hours’. Finish: medium, drier. Teas and oak spices, with fewer fruits. Echoes of honey in the aftertaste. Comments: absolutely lovely, if a little fragile on the palate. I’m not sure they could have made a 36 yo out of these very bourbon casks. Right on time!
SGP:561 - 90 points.

(Merci François!)

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

 

February 19, 2020


Whiskyfun

Ten Mortlachs or more

Shouldn’t we do a few Mortlachs? Long time no Mortlach on WF, but we may well pass over last year’s OBs, for once. Game of Throne memorabilia and stuff; that's not really necessary anyway. I mean, why not some Pétrus Star Wars while they’re are at it? … Or Bollinger James Bond? (hold on…) Anyways, let’s do this randomly, and perhaps a little confusingly, since we've got plenty...

Mortlach 17 yo 2002/2019 (55.5%, Hidden Spirits, cask #MR219)

Mortlach 17 yo 2002/2019 (55.5%, Hidden Spirits, cask #MR219) Five stars
Let’s see what our friends in Ferrara, Italy have found this time. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s an ueber-clean Mortlach, without much wood in the way, if any, which is perfect to let us delve into the distillate, so to speak. So it is not clearly sulphury, not even sure it’s wee-witchy-y (private joke, almost), but there sure is a waxiness, bordering sunflower oil (proper sunflower oil, not the atrocious industrial ones that are sold for cheap at supermarkets), then apples and plums. Fresh and fat, shall we say. With water: rather superb, pure chalky malt on apples and waxes. Mouth (neat): I believe it is the fattest Speysider indeed, and we would rather locate it in the North to be honest. Chalk, citrons, wax, grapefruits, angelica, aspirin. You could believe this is some slightly lighter Springbank, which may actually come from the 2 ½ set-up as far as distillation is concerned. It’s all Byzantine anyway. Yeah, you’re right, and Benrinnes. With water: fruits coming out, beyond citrus, chalk and wax. Finish: long, perfect. Comments: aging whisky in concrete vats (or better yet, eggs) should be allowed. Get rid of wood! This little natural Mortlach will tell you why I said this! Okay, I may have pushed things a little too far, but the SWA or any other honourable body should definitely allow such experiments. Or why not amphoras?
SGP:562 - 90 points.

I agree we’ve started too high, but too late…

Mortlach 12 yo 2006/2018  (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #12579, 367 bottles)

Mortlach 12 yo 2006/2018  (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #12579, 367 bottles) Three stars
Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: ditto, this has even less wood, as the almost white colour suggested. Whiffs of williams pears, then chalk and a touch of earth. Not very aromatic to say the least, but clean and pleasant. Not much to add this far… Mouth: fine, really, but too young, spritzig, Schweppessy. Apples and pears plus, yeah, Schweppes. It hasn’t got the waxes at this stage, it’s more an ‘average’ fruity young malt, although it would tend to be willing to go towards bitter oranges, which would be nicer, should that ever happen. Finish: medium, nicer. Oranges, ginger, grapefruits. Comments: not a bad drop at all, it’s even pretty much to my liking, but I find it a little immature. Or too similar to other Dufftowners, such as… Glenfiddich. Oh let’s not be too harsh here… (hey, love Glenfiddich!)
SGP:551 - 80 points.

I suppose we’ll find something bolder from DL’s… Ah, yes…

Mortlach 30 yo 1989/2019 (44.5%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, Black Series, refill hogshead, cask #13609, 267 bottles)

Mortlach 30 yo 1989/2019 (44.5%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, Black Series, refill hogshead, cask #13609, 267 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: a lot of fresh putty at first, fresh marzipan, dairies, pine needles, cones, sap… Rapidly goes towards honeydew and mead then, then exotic fruits, mangos, maracuja, papayas… All that with a very thin layer of fresh varnish. Really wondering about the palate, such a varnishy nose is not always very good news. Let’s see… Mouth: no no no, this is pretty brilliant, if oh so slightly fragile here and there. You do feel that it shouldn’t have been kept for many more years in wood, with these typical herbal teas and saps starting to come through (pinesap), while the core is a tad fragile (stewed apples). But we’re nit-picking, it’s a lovely old dram, very elegant, with some hops, pink grapefruits, lime tree tea, orange blossom, old chardonnay and matching limestone, some artisan cider… Holds well after all. A little eucalyptus. Finish: medium, reminding me of some very old Cognacs. Now we always found out that old spirits tend to converge and that it’s not always totally obvious to tell between a 40yo Cognac and a 40yo malt whisky. Unless it’s Brora ;-). Comments: lovely, that’s the word I’d use. Of course you could tell between Cognac and malt.
SGP:571 - 90 points.

Mortlach 26 yo 1993/2019 (56.2%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail Jazz series, hogshead, cask #85, 190 bottles)

Mortlach 26 yo 1993/2019 (56.2%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail Jazz series, hogshead, cask #85, 190 bottles) Five stars
Jazz and whisky, that’s like oysters and champagne, it just works. Colour: straw. Nose: chalk and aspirin are back, and so are bandages and ointments. So it is a fatter Mortlach yet again, while once again, the 1993 vintage is in question. Positively, of course. With water: more clay, chalk, stoneware, damp sandstone… Mouth (neat): same ballpark as that of the 2002, only with even more depth and fatness. Blood oranges, waxes, clay, limestone, touches of parsley and green pepper, eucalyptus… In truth this is fab. Oh there, why always feel the need to over-analyse everything, I’m asking you. Great whisky, and basta cosi. With water: sublime. Finish: sublime. Comments: if this is another golden age for whisky, that’s because of a few distillates such as this one. Stock up before they finish everything in Zinfandel and drop all age statements (hey I’m joking).
SGP:562 - 91 points.

Indeed, with distillates such as Bowmore, Springbank, Clynelish, Ben Nevis, Highland Park or, apparently, Mortlach and Benrinnes, this is a golden age. Just avoid unlikely woods or wines that would make your future collection look like a LeRoy Neiman exhibition. Of course only a personal opinion, but let’s move on...

Mortlach 30 yo 1988/2018 (48.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill American hogshead, cask #18/068, 129 bottles)

Mortlach 30 yo 1988/2018 (48.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill American hogshead, cask #18/068, 129 bottles) Four stars
G&M did a lot for Mortlach’s reputation. Remember the 50yos? The pre-WWII vintages? The licensed labels with the eagles? Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s got a side that we haven’t really found in all the other Mortlachs that we’ve just tried: some meatiness. Wondering, by the way, if they haven’t dropped that part in the distillate since the very early 1990s. Pure speculations… So overripe apples, Grisons meat, touches of sulphur (candles, not quite matches), butter cream, vanilla, fudge, menthol… It is a pretty different nose, but that may also come from some more active wood. With water: butter and gas, then olive oil. Love love love olive oil. Mouth (neat): extremely good, it’s just that this kind of amount of (good) oakiness is a little harder to enjoy after a good deal of all-natural malts. Butter, brioche, Jaffa cakes, candied clementines (they say clementines have disappeared and have been replaced with further hybrids, is that right?), smoked salmon, green liquorice… With water: extremely Mortlach, sulphury in a good way, meaty, roasted, even coffee-ish. Flora & Fauna, anyone? Finish: long and grassier. You could almost feel a little methanol, or at least foreshots, but that’s most certainly my mind playing tricks on me. Happens often. Yes I’ve tried many a foreshot. Comments: a much debatable malt whisky, in the best sense of that word (I mean the word debatable). Could be that Mortlach got a little straighter around the years 1990.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

Well, Mortlach could be a little tiring (again, that’s not negative) but where there’s a will, there’s a way. Let’s move on…

Mortlach 2006/2018 (53.4%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 18030, 329 bottles)

Mortlach 2006/2018 (53.4%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 18030, 329 bottles) Four stars and a half
Let’s see what our excellent friends in Paderborn (Fraumerkelland) have found. Colour: gold. Nose: rounded butter and praline custard, butterscotch, kougelhopf, baklavas, then more fruits, mainly dried pears and apricots. More cask influence, obviously, but the end result is pretty perfect, let’s just check if it swims, and if it swims well. With water: it does, getting younger, more on pears, more on some kind of smoky/farmy earthiness. Perhaps a touch of cow dung, which is an asset in classic Mortlach. Mouth (neat): impeccable, big, very butterscotchy, without one single faulty note, going towards café latte and, perhaps, Sachertorte. Do not touch Sachertorte by the way, cocaine is more harmless. Sure I know that’s Austrian, not German. I mean, Sachertorte (S., please gather your wits!) With water: very good but don’t drown it, or it would tend to go towards McDonald’s ‘coffee’. That’s right, dishwater. Finish: medium, cake-y, maltier. Comments: a very lovely drop. Reminded me of chicory coffee at times.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

We’ve also found this older drop in the boxes, let’s do it quick before it evaporates… (gee-ee-ee, any excuses)…

Mortlach 11 yo 1989/2000 (59.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, sherry butt, #76.26, 514 bottles)

Mortlach 11 yo 1989/2000 (59.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, sherry butt, #76.26, 514 bottles) Three stars
Colour: deep gold. Nose: indeed, it is meatier, with more mutton suet at first, then cigars, then Haribo babies and crocodiles (all rather orange), then fried parsley and other herbs, then marmalade. Not your average development, I agree, but there’s much fun to be had with this wee baby. With water: burnt cakes, walnuts and jamon iberico. That, you cannot fight. Mouth (neat): oranges, roasted nuts, dried meat (jerky), and that paraffin that we’ve already found on several occasions. With water: bitter oranges and marmalade all over the place. Takes water very well, in the sense that you could bring it down to 5% vol while it would still roar. Quite. Finish: long, a tad raw. Burnt cakes, molasses honey, Demerara sugar. Comments: it’s very okay, but probably no need to rush on mywhiskyauctionsdelamuerte.com.
SGP:651 - 82 points.

Shall we go on? Try to break a Mortlach record? Where’s the Guinness crew when you need them? (agreed, not really)… Let’s try to find a lighter one, by way of holydays…

Mortlach 14 yo 1990/2005 (43%, Signatory Vintage, sherry butt, cask #05/050, 35cl)

Mortlach 14 yo 1990/2005 (43%, Signatory Vintage, sherry butt, cask #05/050, 35cl) Two stars and a half
Love these humble wee budget bottlings, they’ve shaped a large part of any possible French malt-mania (which remains relatively moderate, I have to say). Colour: gold. Nose: but there, this is lovely and very Mortlachian! Could be that a little bit of bottle aging already occurred here, as this is rather complex, meaty and mineral, waxy, with notes of bouillon, marrow, candlewax, plus chives and mint leaves. Really very nice. Mouth: there, flints and sulphur, oranges and grapefruits, cardboard and mushrooms, a few wee chemicals (plastics -I’m sorry, Greta), some burnt herbs, rubber… Finish: rather long despite the low strength, a little bitter, and little too cardboardy… Roasted pecans in the aftertaste, which is better. Comments: okay, this wee baby didn’t quite make it to the podium, but there, I’ll keep sending my deepest and eternal sympathies to this little series.
SGP:462 - 77 points.

While we’re at Signatory’s…

Mortlach 27 yo 1991/2019 (51.7%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, sherry butt, cask #4239, 542 bottles)

Mortlach 27 yo 1991/2019 (51.7%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, sherry butt, cask #4239, 542 bottles) Five stars
I’m so glad we’re still having a few ‘30th Anniversary’ bottlings yet to try. I would have liked this wonderful series to last forever… Colour: amber. Nose: there, exactly. Cigars, autumn leaves, flints and used matches (very Mortlach), coffee, roasted chestnuts, walnut wine, and drops of acidic coffee. Right, luwak-style, but I’ve heard 90% of all luwaks sold in the world were fake. What’ the world coming to, friends? With water: miso and chestnut soup, soy sauce, mole, dates… Mouth (neat): perfect dry oloroso-y malt, full of tobacco, beef soup, raisins, bresaola, soy sauce, walnuts, and just anything related to umami. Having said that, it’ is a little dry and biting (90% cocoa chocolate) so let’s see what water will do to it. With water: not sure it needs water, unless you love smoky, almost steely pipe tobacco. Cocoa. Finish: long, on many walnuts, then bouillons and ore miso. The one with wee bits of tofu. Comments: meaty sherry in full swing here. Very lovely.
SGP:362 - 90 points.

Perhaps a young fruiter to lift us all up…

Mortlach 12 yo 2005/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11595, 329 bottles)

Mortlach 12 yo 2005/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #11595, 329 bottles) Three stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: pears and a little smoke. That’s not an unpleasant combo. Mouth: good and fresh, with wee touches of iron at first, then pear cider and a little mead. Mirabelle eau-de-vie, great eau-de-vie as long as no one’s added any deadly sugar (as rum folks do). Finish: medium, on pear liqueur and a little mead. Comments: not unforgettable but loyal and of fair marketable quality. There.
SGP:541 - 80 points.

Mortlach 10 yo 2006/2016 (55.5%, Svenska Eldvatten, sherry hogshead, cask #SE075, 312 bottles)

Mortlach 10 yo 2006/2016 (55.5%, Svenska Eldvatten, sherry hogshead, cask #SE075, 312 bottles) Three stars
Svenska Eldvatten are usually having excellent bottles. Colour: straw. Nose: a very peary Mortlach, totally in the style of the DLs. IPA, pear cider, touch of wood smoke, there. With water: sameish. Mouth (neat): very good, better than on the nose for sure. Tart, earthy, on cider apples and lime. Other than that, it’s a little strong. With water: we’re okay, but it is not a deep Mortlach. Do not add water. Finish: medium, fruity, perhaps a notch boring. Tree leaves in the after taste. Comments: really good but nothing earthshattering. Isn’t Mortlach getting rather thinner? Just wondering… Slightly forgettable whiskies, this age/vintage combo.
SGP:551 - 81 points.

Let us insist…

Mortlach 17 yo 1997/2014 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #7165-7166)

Mortlach 17 yo 1997/2014 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #7165-7166) Two stars and a half
The UMC of SigV’s ranges. Bob Seger had a great song about UMC classes in the late 1960s, but that’ got just nothing to do with whisky. Colour: straw. Nose: cider, cider, vanilla, and cider. And a little coconut. That’s fine, just not very Mortlachy. Mouth: better, sweet, sour, more on ciders (both pear, apple, and then pear + apple). Sour woods, apple juice, touch of wax, coconut water… Bwah… Finish: medium, okay, on apples and coconut plus drops of papaya juice. Not obligatorily a good sign. Comments: another drop that I won’t remember forever, and I have to say I rather hate coconut in my spirits. As they say, by definition I cannot remember a more forgettable one. Ha.
SGP:551 - 78 points.

It's all going kind of downhill, is it not? Perhaps a powerful youngster?...

Mortlach 8 yo 2008/2017 (59%, Signatory Vintage, casks #800007-8, 498 bottles)

Mortlach 8 yo 2008/2017 (59%, Signatory Vintage, casks #800007-8, 498 bottles) Three stars
Look, if the good people at SigV have decided to bottle such a young malt in one of their pretty high-brow decanters, there ought to be a good reason. Let’s try to unearth it… Colour: straw. Nose: STR. Shaved, toasted, recharred. Which equals to vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, and breads. A combo that would make any Victorian spirit taste like some new-world malt whisky for hipsters.  Nothing against hipsters, naturally, but didn’t they say hipsters would be dead and buried by 2005? Isn’t Boris essentially a hipster too? What that’s got to do with a tasting note? With water: yeah, fine, bready and fruity. Pears and plums. Mouth (neat): good, raw, simple, fruity, malty, gristy. Malt for penniless hipsters indeed. Pears. Plums. With water: same. Panettone and kougelhopf doughs before anyone decides to put them into ovens. Finish: medium, on pears. A little simple. Comments: he thing is, all these vintages are really fine, but they do not seem to display any of Mortlach’s usual markers. Like, fatness, sulphur, oiliness, meats…
SGP:551 - 80 points.

A last one, maybe…

Mortlach 22 yo 1997/2019 (56.9%, Silver Seal, My Name is Whisky, sherry cask, cask #10090, 121 bottles)

Mortlach 22 yo 1997/2019 (56.9%, Silver Seal, My Name is Whisky, sherry cask, cask #10090, 121 bottles) Four stars
According to the label, this baby’s ‘Dedicate to G. D’Ambrosio’, so some kind of tribute bottling. Always great to see friendly faces on any whisky labels, Galileo Galilei, Robert Burns, Charles Dickens, Alexander Graham Bell, Boris Johnson, Giorgio D’Ambrosio, Edgar Allan Poe… (find the odd one out – well spotted, you win, that would be BoJo)… Colour: amber. Nose: raisins, cognac, mint, dried apricots, whiffs of cracked pepper and new leather. Typical. With water: really a lot of leather, tobacco, flints, and struck matches. Mouth (neat): really meaty and mentholated now, with a lot of leather and pepper as well. Very spicy. With water: the expected marmalade, a little caramel, and bags of ginger, nutmeg, bitter oranges and pepper. A feeling of young Armagnac. Finish: rather long, spicy, a bit rough, with this typical Mortlachy sulphur. More pepper as well as bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: really good but it may have needed further polishing. The leathery side was a wee tad too ‘forward’ for me, but it sure is a top notch dram. Cheers Giorgio!
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Once again, looks like with a few exceptions, Mortlach really needs proper aging.

(With thanks to Lucero and many other friends)

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

 

February 18, 2020


Whiskyfun

Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions,
today Strathisla and sherry

It is true that Strathisla has got rather more discreet than it was twenty or thirty years ago. Having said that there’s a newish Chivas Regal Strathisla that’s pretty intriguing but sadly, we haven’t got it. Let’s see what we can find…

Strathisla 13 yo 2003/2017 (58.3%, OB, Single Cask Edition, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #62274, 654 bottles)

Strathisla 13 yo 2003/2017 (58.3%, OB, Single Cask Edition, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #62274, 654 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one’s dark as some chocolate cake. Colour: mahogany. Nose: it’s full of charcoal, toasted oak, and engine oil. I would almost call it ‘old-garage-y’. Some very big amontillado too, very black chocolate, old guns, truffles, mint extracts, cold-brewed ristretto, roasted chestnuts, all that. Heavy sherry, heavy extraction. With water: as usual when water’s been added to some very oloroso-ed malt, Bovril and other very dark meaty sauces come out.  Mouth: really huge, sharp, pungent, full of cracked pepper and oak extracts, roasted nuts, bitter oranges, ultra-black chocolate (like 90% at the very least)… In short not one that would take prisoners. With water: chocolate and Armagnac, plus that salty sauce once again. Oxtail soup. Finish: long and very dry. Raw crude chocolate indeed, and more beef soup. Bitter marmalade, caraway, cloves and pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: we’re pretty close to some early A’Bunadhs, but this is even thicker, more bitter, and certainly drier. Love all the pepper and cocoa in there.
SGP:362 - 89 points.

Good, back exactly 30 years…

Strathisla 16 yo 1973/1989 (62.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Sestante Italy, licensed label, 75cl)

Strathisla 16 yo 1973/1989 (62.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Sestante Italy, licensed label, 75cl) Five stars
Wouldn’t we rather expect just another sherry monster? Everyone loves this label that’s always been ‘old-school’, hope they’ll never change it. Have they? Colour: deep amber. Nose: another bigly sherried one (your English never stops improving, S.), but this time we’re rather more on prunes and raisins, Christmas cake, figs and dates, chestnut honey, molasses, and then a lighter, very engaging fruit cocktail. We’re noticing pears, papayas, tamarind, blood oranges, a touch of mint, a touch of olive oil… It’s amazing that it would be this expressive at such high strength, but that may be one of the benefits of bottle aging. With water: just perfect, wonderfully drier, rather on some old sweet wine that digested its sugars. Oh let’s paraphrase Carla Bley if you don’t mind, ‘I like whiskies that are very lush, with all the lush parts taken out.’ Sweet Carla Bley!... Mouth (neat): very strong, naturally, but absolutely fantastic, with just the right balance between mint and other tiny herbs on the one side, and lush dried fruits on the other side. Lush? With water: absolutely glorious and even epic. A perfect example of what good bottle aging can do to a whisky that was probably quite a brute when it was bottled. Magical oranges, figs, and all kinds of spices. The oranges are mesmerising here. Finish: very long, rather on some kind of artisanal Jaffa cake, with a very dry and very wonderful chocolaty and coffee-ish aftertaste. Comments: textbook middle-aged sherry monster. 16 years in wood + 30 years in glass, that’s perfect – and isn’t that one of the secrets of many a greatest Cognac by the way?
SGP:551 - 91 points.

All is perfect so far, so I guess we could push things a little further down the years…

Strathisla 1949/2006 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed label)

Strathisla 1949/2006 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed label) Five stars
Good, let’s do a little math… Wait but this is 56 or 57 years old! Not sure anyone would have bottled such an old malt under such an understated livery these days. And at, ach, err, at 40% vol…. Colour: gold. Nose: tops. Old herbal teas from grandma’s old tin boxes, chamomile, spear mint, peppermint, pollens, wormwood, lily, some camphor, Vicks, honeydew… There isn’t much sherry this time, unless the distillate’s absorbed everything within all those years in wood. Yes we’ve seen that happening quite a few times. Right, two or three times. I just hope it won’t have got flattish on the palate… Mouth: sure it is not an utter monster, but it is not flat whisky at all, it’s just that it really went towards all things bouillony and herbal. So fewer fruits, rather a feeling of ‘nice’ cardboard, wood smoke, many teas, some bouillons of all kinds, perhaps rather more nutmeg than usual, and then quite some cedar wood, incense, balsa, cinnamon… Sure it’s a little drying, but we’re nowhere near any limits. Some very lovely old herbal liqueurs do emerge as well, although that would all be a little jumbled. Mandarine? Gentian? Unicum?... Finish: medium to short but clean and not frustrating at all. More wee herbs and spices, and a perfect meadiness in the aftertaste. Comments: this one should do wonders in a large Cognac glass (a.k.a. fishbowl) Not many whiskies do in my book. Imagine, 1949! Whisky blogger 101, never mention historical events that occurred in the year a spirit was distilled, that’ lame at best and everyone knows about wikipedia. Not that I’ve never done that myself, mind you.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

(Merci François and Patrick)

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

 

February 13, 2020


Whiskyfun

... Sorry, we're on vacation

 

 

February 12, 2020


Whiskyfun

Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions,
today Longmorn 34 years apart

Not a name that’s constantly talked about. Sometimes everybody’s chatting about Chivas’s fruit bomb, and sometimes almost no one does, for reasons I cannot quite explain. Or is that just an impression? Or because the official bottlings aren’t really ‘pushed’? We’re expecting quite some orchard fruits today…

Longmorn 10 yo 2008/2019 (52.8%, Claxton’s, bourbon, cask # 1960-1223, 275 bottles)

Longmorn 10 yo 2008/2019 (52.8%, Claxton’s, bourbon, cask # 1960-1223, 275 bottles) Three stars
Claxton’s came with the new wave of British indie bottlers. The Ultravoxes of whisky, if you like. To each his references! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: raw, almost brutal, all on apples, plums, green pears and cider. Litres of cider, literally, as well as pear cider (e call that poire in France). With water: mud, grist, crushed barley, ale, and almost no fruits this time. Where did they go? Mouth (neat): total cider and apple juice, peppered with some crushed chalk and, well, some white pepper. You cannot not think of some young Calvados (they’re usually not sold in this state). Touch of salt. With water: nots of Gueuze, I would say. And again, a touch of salt. Finish: long, leafier, a little yeastier. Very gristy for sure. Comments: a raw baby that’s still in its infancy, I would say. Very good for documenting the evolution of malt whisky over time, which reminds me of Samaroli’s ‘Aging Monography’, remember? Except that this is not quite Springbank.
SGP:561 - 82 points.

So an older one… Maybe this that just came in a few days ago…

Longmorn 33 yo 1974/2007 (43.7%, Gordon & MacPhail for David Le Cornu, sherry butt, cask #007685)

Longmorn 33 yo 1974/2007 (43.7%, Gordon & MacPhail for David Le Cornu, sherry butt, cask #007685) Five stars
This one was bottled for Australian whisky pioneer David Le Cornu, of Earls of Zetland fame (and other fames). Colour: deep amber. Older connoisseurs would have written ‘Cognac’. Nose: fantastic, well in line with G&M’s other best sherried Longmorns of the ‘fresher’ category. There is a little cider once again, fresh almonds, moderate raisins and figs, this Calvadossy side yet again, then marmalade and touches of mango jam. In the background, wonderful notes of old amontillado – rather than just ‘sherry cask’. Was it a refill solera butt? In any case, it’s very elegant, civilised, and certainly not a sherry monster. Oh and hints of passion fruits. Oh and wait, also some old-school tobacco. Untipped Senior Service? Craven A? Mouth: I must be having something with Calvados today, since I’m finding Calvados again. Then a drop of Chartreuse and one of fig wine, raisins in appropriate amounts, perhaps roasted pecans or pistachios, plain dried figs, tarte Tatin, and then oranges as well as those mangos that are not always to be found in Longmorn, in my experience. Impeccable. Finish: medium, pretty fresh and lively given the age here. Some additional menthol and liquorice in the aftertaste, with a lovely – and unexpected – bitterness. Quinine wine, perhaps. Comments: a very elegant old Longmorn and a perfect bridge between G&M’s darker sherry monsters and some fresher, fruitier similarly aged ex-refill Longmorns by the same excellent house. Oh and did you like this one, Craig Daniels?
SGP:651 - 91 points.

(Many thanks Deni!)

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

 

February 11, 2020


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today young AnCnoc OB vs. IB

It’s been a long time since I last tried thLittle duos, today young AnCnoc OB vs. IBe official 12! We’ll also have a young Knocdhu by Cadenhead – as you know, AnCnoc, An Cnoc and Knockdhu are the same malt.

AnCnoc 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2019)

AnCnoc 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2019) Three stars and a half
This fine malt scored WF 84 last time I tried it, but that was in 2011. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s really tight, rather on chalk and bread dough at first, then on white berries, gooseberries, green apples, stewed rhubarb… It’s only after a good thirty seconds that vanilla would come out, together with whiffs of shortbread from a freshly opened pack. Walker’s, naturally. A little bubblegum as well, jelly babies, marshmallows… Mouth: exactly the same flavours, word for word, with just a little more malt, and a little more Williams pear. Really fine, pleasantly malty, so close to the ingredients. Finish: medium, with the pears as the main flavour. Pear tarte and custard in the aftertaste. Comments: indeed, a fine, pretty ‘natural’ and very honest malt whisky. Of fair marketable quality, as they used to say.
SGP:541 - 83 points.

Knockdhu 9 yo 2010/2019 (56.2%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 888 bottles)

Knockdhu 9 yo 2010/2019 (56.2%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 888 bottles) Three stars and a half
This baby from three bourbon hogsheads. Colour: white wine. Nose: we’re very close to the 12, except that this would be even tarter, almost acerbic for a while. More green apples, also lemons, while coconut and bananas would come out after one minute or two. Coconut balls, Malibu (ouch)… With water: sweet barley, vanilla fudge, meringue, cream gâteau… Mouth (neat): fine, malty, first on lemon cookies and gooseberry, then coconut again. And so, malted barley and Crème Egg (a new descriptor on WF, hurray!) With water: gets a notch grassier which is always welcome. Mezcal lollipops, prickly pear sweets…  Finish: medium, maltier. Lemon tarte with meringue, but no whipped cream. Comments: quite young but does the job!
SGP:551 - 84 points.

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

 

February 10, 2020


Whiskyfun

A session that won’t be too useful:
three Dallas Dhu

This after a wee discussion with some friends on Facebook. I know, I know… By the way, there’s always been rumours that Dallas Dhu would be restarted, and it seems that those rumours are a little rifer again these days. Any updates? I’m afraid these will be the only three Dallas Dhus I’m currently having in the library, all three thanks to François at the Golden Promise.

Dallas Dhu 29 yo 1974/2003 (46%, Murray McDavid, Mission, sherry, 498 bottles)

Dallas Dhu 29 yo 1974/2003 (46%, Murray McDavid, Mission, sherry, 498 bottles) Four stars
We’ve had a very good 1979 by MMcD quite some years ago – a high quality that rather surprised me since it had met some St Joseph (but that was some white St Jo, which is undoubtedly better than any red in these context and purpose). Anyway, this one should be all natural… Oh and I’ve completely forgotten about any characteristics of Dallas Dhu I’m afraid, and yet I’m not that old! Colour: golden amber. Nose: oh I seem to remember, toasted nuts and some sootiness, no? Roasted pecans, a touch of propolis and other high-character waxes, some soot indeed, perhaps some rusty old tools (at the distiller, haha), herbal teas (and patchouli), some grass smoke, old clothes in an old wardrobe (in an old attic), those kinds of things. Some old LPs, magazines, books… We’re almost in an antique shop. Mouth: a style that disappeared in the late 1980s, very globally. There are old nuts, some cardboard, touches of Bovril, some kind of salty honey (sauces), bitter oranges, chlorophyll, black tea… And shall we use the U-word? That’s right, umami? Finish: medium, salty, meaty, with a little coffee and some sappy honeydew. The aftertaste is almost all on chicken bouillon, with sweeter sauce. Something Thai? Comments: saying that this is unusual would be an understatement. In truth, the nearest contemporary malt would be sherried Benromach, I would say. Something a little, say fusty indeed, but certainly not in a bad way.
SGP:361 - 87 points.

Dallas Dhu 30 yo 1970/2000 (56.5%, Signatory Vintage, Rare Reserve, sherry butt, cask #673, 378 bottles)

Dallas Dhu 30 yo 1970/2000 (56.5%, Signatory Vintage, Rare Reserve, sherry butt, cask #673, 378 bottles) Five stars
This one used to come with a miniature but this is from the full bottle. I believe they were still using coal-firing in 1970, since the stills were only converted to steam heating in 1971. Having said that the malting floor had been closed in 1968 already. Oh and yeah, last distillation in 1983. Colour: gold. Nose: fat, very mineral, certainly much more ‘northern Highlands’ than Speyside, with oranges, honeys, and just a lot of beeswax. Some ham and some butterscotch holding it for a while, just before it would get much more camphory, sooty, and almost dirty (concrete dust, old cellar, abandoned house and all that). With water: eucalyptus, embrocations, linseed oil and camphor. Brilliant. Mouth (neat): it’s very mineral and citric, very close to Benromach indeed, and perhaps even to Springbank as far as these paraffiny touches are concerned. A lot of various oils, lamp, graphite, essential oils as well (mint, thyme)… Big stuff, really. With water: oh the good old days! Superb citrus, waxes, and just more oils of all sorts. Grape pips. Clay and chalk. Finish: rather long, perfectly waxy and mineral with, as almost always with great whiskies, some lovey citrus in the aftertaste. Comments: I have to say I’m surprised. We used to say that the Springbank of the East was Lochside but frankly, that could have been Dallas Dhu as well, or at least pre-1971 Dallas Dhu. But let’s not get too geeky, those names are long gone, most sadly.
SGP:552 - 91 points.

The last one had to be an official…

Dallas Dhu 21 yo 1975/1997 (61.9%, OB, Rare Malts)

Dallas Dhu 21 yo 1975/1997 (61.9%, OB, Rare Malts) Four stars and a half
As usual, very high strengths suggest proper refill when batches are large, which in turn should indicate a rather distillate-driven malt whisky. Colour: straw (there). Nose: chalk, lemon, grass. I repeat, chalk, lemon, grass. And aspirin tablets, plaster, and wee whiffs of chives or even fresh onions. But mind you, almost 62% vol. With water: it’s amazing what water does to it. Not that it changes the profile, but it rebalances everything and well, I shall dare, makes it rather akin to some Hazelburn. I know, I know. Mouth (neat): the high powers and the crude fatness of many a Rare Malts. Some used to call them ‘challenging’ for some reason. Grass, paraffin, lime, sauvignon blanc. With water: a little more sweetness, but that is all. Pink grapefruits, perhaps kiwis and gooseberries chalk, lemon… Finish: long, very good, with a little more menthol and liquorice, and an earthier aftertaste this time. Comments: the brain says 85, while the heart says 90. Some lovely waxes in there – you would be forgiven for thinking this was Ben Nevis. Or indeed, why not, Hazelburn.
SGP:452 - 88 points.

So, are they really going to restart Dallas Dhu?

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

 

February 9, 2020


Whiskyfun

A little bag of Cognac

I do hereby solemnly declare that this session has got strictly nothing to do with Brexit, neither has it got anything to do with rugby. Hoppla, let’s see what we have, perhaps some VSOPs?…

Jules Gautret ‘VSOP’ (40%, Cognac, blend, +/-2018)

Jules Gautret ‘VSOP’ (40%, Cognac, blend, +/-2018) Two stars
Jules Gautret is rather a brand name than a house, which belongs to the very large coopérative Océalia. Océalia also produce wine, cereals or cattle. All that does not mean that this little cognac should obligatorily be sup-par, mind you. Let’s see… Colour: amber. Nose: it’s an easy one, with good freshness, raisins, dandelions, a little honey and preserved yellow peaches. All that combines well, with perfect balance and a je-ne-sais-quoi (indeed that’s post-Brexit English) of Glenmorangie. Mouth: rather on oranges and overripe apples, but sadly a tad bitter and ‘green’. Some honey and some tobacco over a rather rustic and greenish composition. I would say this is equivalent to some just above entry-level Scotch blend. Finish: medium, a tad sour and too grassy. Comments: rustic indeed. A shame because I really enjoyed the brightly fresh nose.
SGP:451 - 75 points.

Bache Gabrielsen ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, blend, +/-2018)

Bache Gabrielsen ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, blend, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
A house that’s rather exported to Scandinavia, I believe, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any on French shelves. Which, granted, does not mean a thing. This expression’s said to mainly shelter Fins Bois. Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather modern style, which I find is good. More on fresh fruits, flowers and honeys than on caramel, prunes and oak. This nose is actually very lovely – and lively – with touches of maraschino, fresh almonds, dandelions this time again, peaches, and juicy golden raisins. Quite some vanilla too, as well as a tiny touch of pine resins, which would actually add complexity. Let’s pray now… Mouth: way above the Gautret, even if this time again, the palate is not quite in the same league as that of the nose, which would happen with many a young Cognac in my book. Good quinces, touches of caramel this time, burnt sugar, apricot jam, light honey, then a touch of coffee and cloves, probably from the oak. Finish: medium, frankly more rustic this time. Grass, fruit peelings, over-infused tea… Loses points at this stage. Comments: as always, the devil’s in the finish, but I think this remains a rather fine VSOP nonetheless.
SGP:551 - 79 points.

Camus ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2019)

Camus ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2019) Three stars
This new expression is advertised as being ‘intensely aromatic’, not something we would be against. It’s said to stem from the Borderies part of the Cognac region, while the wood was only lightly toasted (chauffe française) to impart less oaky tones, while keeping the aging properties of the casks. Colour: amber. Nose: I wouldn’t say it is vastly different from the Bache, as we’re finding similar lightly resinous notes, almonds, fruit skins, but then certainly more citrus, especially blood oranges. Also small notes of prickly pears, and even poppy syrup, grenadine... That’s rather intriguing, I have to say. But will this one crash as well?... Mouth: well, it is a little whisky-y, would I say, less emphatically fruity than I had thought, and rather more on dry plums and herbal teas, hawthorn, chamomile, lime-blossom tea, vanilla, banana skin and a little cocoa making it a little drying. What’s sure is that it did not crash. Finish: medium, rather on chocolate and marmalade. Or there, Jaffa cakes. Some drying tea in the aftertaste. Comments: I really like this one – any whisky enthusiast would – but, if I may, the juice deserves two or three extra % ABV. 40 is a handicap here.
SGP:561 - 82 points.

More Camus then…

Camus 2005/2019 ‘Monbazillac Cask Finish’ (40%, OB, Cognac, 3000 bottles)

Camus 2005/2019 ‘Monbazillac Cask Finish’ (40%, OB, Cognac, 3000 bottles) Four stars
This one from vineyards in Dordogne, said to be the last that remain within the Cognac appellation. I’m not sure doing a finish in Monbazillac wood will preserve any terroir here, but there, let’s see what will come out of this very Glenmo-y bottle. Oh, in case you don’t now, Monbazillac is similar to Sauternes wine (but don’t tell the good people in both regions, many still own old rifles). Colour: deep gold. Nose: yes, sure, this works. After all, grapes on grapes, why wouldn’t that work? Ripe peaches, apricots, quinces, mountain honey, sultanas, butterscotch, and just a drop of linseed oil. Lovely, easy nose. Mouth: success. It’s bigger than expected, pretty tense despite a wee syrupy side that would last for fifteen seconds, and really full of quinces and apples. Then tiny mentholy herbs, woodruff, spearmint, some liquorice too, touches of muscovado sugar… It's not that it’s immensely complex, not at all, but balance has been found once again. Finish: medium, a little more on peels and leaves, but orange blossom honey is back in the aftertaste. Oriental pastry. Comments: the Monbazillac was very well-behaved. By the way, check Tirecul La Gravière, especially the Cuvée Madame if you can find it.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

We’re feeling good at Camus’, let’s try more…

Camus ‘Port Cask Finish’ (43.2%, OB, batch #VSFP2785, 2019)

Camus ‘Port Cask Finish’ (43.2%, OB, batch #VSFP2785, 2019) Two stars and a half
No vintage this time and an unexpected and pretty mysterious use of Tawny Port wood, but on the other hand, a higher strength (hourrah !) Colour: apricot. Nose: Port seems to work better with brandy than with whisky. There, I’ve said it. Perhaps is that a matter of grape and grain not mixing well or other antique sayings, but what’s sure is that all is well here, while we’re a bit in malt whisky territories as far as overall profiles are concerned (I know, all that is not very coherent, but that’s how it is). Cherry cake, raisins, butterscotch, dried figs, puréed chestnuts… And no red wine as such. Phew. Mouth: no complains, even if I tended to like the sleeker Monbazillac a little better. Red berries, strawberries, cakes, stem teas, grenadine bonbons, crystallised cherries… Well, it’s getting a little too sweet for me, I have to say, and too bonbony, but there aren’t the kinds of clashes that could happen between Port and malt whisky. Grape and grape! Finish: medium, really sweet now, a little too syrupy for me… Comments: it all started very well, and it is a very fine drop as a whole, but this growing sweetness was not for me. Not quite kid’s mouthwash though (or Toplexil).
SGP:741 - 78 points.

Shouldn’t we do a XO?...

Camus ‘XO’ (40%, OB, Cognac, blend, 2019)

Camus ‘XO’ (40%, OB, Cognac, blend, 2019) Three stars and a half
This one too is ‘intensely aromatic’, Borderies-driven, and was matured in lightly toasted small casks. Colour: dark amber. Nose: it is a fresh XO, not wham-bam, rather self-restrained for a good minute, before ripe and candied fruits would start to take the stage. I’m rather finding ripe melons and peaches at first, then honeydew and even a little mead, then lovely notes of camphor, menthol and pinesap, all proofs of proper aging. Perhaps small touches of sliced pineapples as well, even bananas… This, indeed, is rather intensely aromatic, should you not rush it. Mouth: pretty rich, and much more on raisins than all the other ones. There’s even a small feeling of PX at times, Rivesaltes, Sauternes, then peach skin and quite some green tea (tannins). Gets then frankly jammy (apricots, quinces). Finish: medium, sweet, almost a little bit sugary at times, but that’s no problemo. Stewed rhubarb and Demerara sugar in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, but I have to say the relative sweetness came as a surprise. I think the 2005 Monbazillac remains my favourite – as always, that’s all from a malt whisky enthusiast’s point of view.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

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

 

February 8, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Newish Whiskies In Pairs
I have quite a few samples of new or recent bottlings piling up it would seem. Something I’m very happy about as I’m not always the best at keeping abreast of new releases. Anyway, without much further ado, let’s crack on…

 

Ben Nevis 14 yo 1996 (46%, Dram Mor, refill sherry)

Ben Nevis 14 yo 1996 (46%, Dram Mor, refill sherry)
Dram Mor are a new indy bottler based in Glasgow, apparently this one was from already bottled stock that hadn’t been released previously. Colour: bright gold. Nose: very buttery and rich, close to the other 1996s but just a little more lively and youthful. Quince, brown sugar, toffee apple, breads, ginger biscuits and a very lovely leafiness which adds a sense of forest freshness and damp earth. Mouth: great arrival, all on golden syrup, freshly baked brown bread, walnuts, white balsamic, olive oil, eucalyptus sweets - lots going on but there’s still strong sense of balance and cohesion. Also again getting rather gingery, spicy and warm. Finish: medium, bready, slightly nutty and getting rather salty with a little meatiness. Comments: very good Ben Nevis that feels rather bigger than its ABV would suggest. Extremely fat and guzzleable stuff!
SGP: 562 - 89 points.

 

 

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (52.2%, Thompson Bros. for The Amber Light, Royal Mile Whiskies, refill sherry, 497 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (52.2%, Thompson Bros. for The Amber Light, Royal Mile Whiskies, refill sherry, 497 bottles)
I believe Serge already posted notes for this one recently, but I’ll add my two pence on it to the WF database… Colour: gold. Nose: golden syrup on brown toast! This very easy and approachable profile that blends together waxes, chalk, putty, coal embers, dry cereals and olive oil with real aplomb. This kind of luscious juicy fruitiness in the background at all times. With water: gets greener and little lighter and grassier. Garden fruits, elderflower, pollen and various nectars. Mouth: clean, peppery, oily and very mineral with many impressions of oily rags, tool boxes, metal polish and soot. Raisins, camphor, hessian, more toasty and bready notes and this overall feeling of textural fatness that seems to be a modern era Ben Nevis hallmark. With water: again a little lighter with water, more floral accents, white flowers, stones, chalk, dried herbal qualities. But overall still dry, mineral and quite tautly structured. Finish: long, waxy, slightly sappy, earthy and peppery. Some herbal tea notes in the aftertaste. Comments: Classy, perfectly mature and super sexy Ben Nevis. I just love this distillate-forwards profile where the distillery character inhabits every part of the whisky with what feels like total confidence.
SGP: 562 - 91 points.

 

 

Ardmore 19 yo 1999/2019 (55.8%, Archives ‘The Fishes Of Samoa’, cask #801661, barrel, 185 bottles)

Ardmore 19 yo 1999/2019 (55.8%, Archives ‘The Fishes Of Samoa’, cask #801661, barrel, 185 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a rather austere one. Lots of crushed aspirin, newspaper ink, light ashy notes, seashells, sheep wool and canvass. Needs a little time to shake itself awake whereupon it begins to reveal a more easy and sweeter cereal profile. Still this rather typical Ardmore sootiness and slightly animalistic aspect. With water: still very drying and chalky with this almost dusty minerality. Close to the raw ingredients with this rather plain and unvarnished maltiness that verges on being mashy at times. Good but probably a bit challenging. Mouth: still quite austere on arrival. Chalky, flinty, very mineral, drying and with lots of plain cereal notes. Some touches of dried tarragon and turmeric. With water: now it moves towards sunflower oil, mustard powder, horseradish, straw and dry cereals. Less coastal and a bit more farmy. Finish: Medium but rather fat, oily, again very cereal and continuing these grassy, lightly medical and chalky qualities. Comments: I think it’s technically very good but it remains a rather intellectual and slightly challenging whisky with this resilient austere profile.
SGP: 362 - 84 points.

 

 

Ardmore 21 yo 1997/2018 (51.6%, The Auld Alliance & Three Rivers Tokyo, hogshead)

Ardmore 21 yo 1997/2018 (51.6%, The Auld Alliance & Three Rivers Tokyo, hogshead)
Colour: gold. Nose: much more expressive, honeyed, herbal and sweeter. Notes of pollens, dandelions, waxes - there’s something rather reminiscent of Ben Nevis from similar vintages in fact. Evolves with heather ales, putty, herbal cough medicines and chalk. Pretty superb actually. With water: gets a tad drier and evolves more towards canvass, dried flowers, camphor, lamp oil and with a few residual chalky tones. Mouth: there’s a shared DNA with the 1999 but this is globally richer, more playful, sweeter, more waxy and less austere. Porridge with honey, heather flowers, mead and a hint of apple crumble. With water: these more traditional Ardmore qualities of coal dust, anthracite embers, sheep wool, old shilling ales and brown toast all begin to come through now. Funnily enough it becomes a tad more austere with water. Some hints of mineral oil and petrol too. Finish: good length, very sooty, lightly herbal, some dry peat notes and wee waxy aspects. Comments: Top notch Ardmore. Rather changeable with water but overall very fun and pleasurable. Quite a difference from the 1999.
SGP: 463 - 88 points.

 

 

Speyside Single Malt 24 yo 1995/2019 (46.9%, Thompson Brothers, refill barrel, 310 bottles)

Speyside Single Malt 24 yo 1995/2019 (46.9%, Thompson Brothers, refill barrel, 310 bottles)
I have it on very good authority that this in fact hails from a certain very large and very famous Speyside distillery owned by Edrington where they’ve recently opened the world’s most expensive cafe. Colour: straw. Nose: very lovely, very classical. Pollens, soft waxes, honeys, breads, pastries, wild flowers. All top notch modern fruity Speyside single malt at a perfect maturity. There’s also some more direct fruit notes of melon, tangerine and apricot. Very lovely but perhaps a tad simple. Mouth: a little drier and more peppery than the nose suggested. Orange cocktail bitters, herbal teas, Cointreau, mint julep, heather honey and marjoram. Some nice crystallised exotic fruits beyond that as well as some slightly punchy spice from the wood. Finish: quite long and full of cereals, bitter lemon, fruity flapjack, sultana and barley sugars. Comments: It’s all very lovely and fine, and you do get a sense of the more sinewed Macallan distillate without the cloak of sherry, but it is also perhaps a tad generic at times too. Easy sipping and technically very good, but not the most memorable dram.
SGP: 551 -  87 points.

 

 

Speyside 23 yo 1995/2019 (51.4%, Archives ‘The Fishes Of Samoa’, cask #31, hogshead, 177 bottles)

Speyside 23 yo 1995/2019 (51.4%, Archives ‘The Fishes Of Samoa’, cask #31, hogshead, 177 bottles)
I have to admit, I had thought this was a ‘Speyside malt’ of some anonymous Burnside-esque origin, only once I had already begun this tasting did I notice it is actually from Speyside Distillery itself. Oh well, let’s see if Macallan can be defeated by it’s far more humble neighbour… Colour: straw. Nose: this is certainly a different profile altogether. Crisp, dry cereals, light chalky notes, lemon peel, quinine, white pepper and something like slightly underripe star fruit. Altogether leaner, more pithy, peppery and crisp. With water: we’re almost in bone dry white Burgundy territory with this slightly arid, buttery, cereal sharpness. Some zesty citrus and jangly minerals underneath. Mouth: clean and very cereal dominant but also slightly empty and verging on too drying. Hints of plain porridge and crushed oatcakes. Very raw and natural but also a tad boring I’m afraid to say. Not much fruit to speak of either. With water: improves nicely with water, it gets greener, lusher and fruitier. Notes of apples, pears, slightly acidic gooseberry and some hints of farmhouse cider. Unusual and a little all over the place. Finish: medium and back towards cereals, porridge, bitter citrus pith and plain brown toast. Comments: A bit of a funny one, Speyside Distillery remains one of these totally remote oddballs of contemporary Scotch whisky. Now, it’s a perfectly pleasant dram that will please many palates - it’s just a bit shy and curious.
SGP: 451 - 84 points.

 

 

Glenrothes 11 yo 2007/2019 (51.4%, North Star Spirits, sherry butt, 618 bottles)

Glenrothes 11 yo 2007/2019 (51.4%, North Star Spirits, sherry butt, 618 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: very good! Honeys, pollens, brioche, fruit cake. Feels older than 11 which is always no bad thing with such whiskies. Some olive oil cake, walnuts, cafélatte - all very elegant, well-structured and nicely integrated. With water: develops immediately towards fresh breads, cereals, caraway and a little green fruit. Who could be against this? Mouth: treacle, toffee sweets, millionaire shortbread, salted caramel, digestive biscuits. Rich and sweet but without tipping over into cloying. Still these nice notes of glazed pastry and brioche. With water: not quite as bready as on the nose with water, but here it’s more about biscuits, shortbread, caramel wafers, Biscoff and sweet tea. Finish: good length, on cloves, honey, dried mint and hints of youthful calvados and cinnamon. Comments: It’s to be wondered if Mr Croucher didn’t dilute this one down a bit from its original rocket fuel ABV - as many young Glenrothes seem to be at natural strength these days. Anyway, great selection and very pleasurable young Glenrothes.
SGP: 651 - 87 points.

 

 

Glenrothes 10 yo 2009/2019 (58%, Dram Mor, cask #5280, 348 bottles)

Glenrothes 10 yo 2009/2019 (58%, Dram Mor, cask #5280, 348 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: holy moly! What is this? Some kind of flamboyant cocktail composed of some well matured Sauternes and a dollop of 1972 Caperdonich. Seriously this is extremely honeyed and full of pollens, sultana, sweet pastries, olive oil cake, figs in syrup, cantaloup melon and some madeira sponge. More beautiful than it probably has a right to be. With water: drier, more leafy and lightly earthy with tobaccos, beeswax and a light camphor note. Lovely clean sherry profile coming through now. Mouth: a bit more ‘realisitc’ or arrival but this is still pretty excellent. Very rich, polished, lots of dried fruits, orange peel, chopped dates, walnuts, lemon curd, heather honey, pistachios. Quite simply, top notch young Glenrothes that balances natural sweetness and impressive complexity. With water: that dessert wine sweetness is back. Orange wine, sultanas, dried banana chips, lemon balm, mint tea, fennel and some dried herbal notes. Finish: long, herbal and full of bitter orange marmalade, sweet pastries, limoncello and more sultanas. Comments: I have to say, this was a real surprise. Aren’t some of these young Glenrothes far better than they have a right to be? And what a beauty of a nose. Not to forget, terrific selection by the folk at Dram Mor. We’re within a midge’s limp of the 90 mark here.
SGP: 661 - 89 points.

 

 

Kilchoman 2011/2019 (55.1%, OB for Shi Jian, cask #334, bourbon, 261 bottles)

Kilchoman 2011/2019 (55.1%, OB for Shi Jian, cask #334, bourbon, 261 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: if there were such a thing as smoked mineral water I suspect it would smell like this. A lovely mix of wet fabrics, chalk, beach pebbles, smoky wort, grist and pure seawater. Ink, iodine drops, lemon juice and that kind of pure, crystalline peat that’s so often to be found in contemporary Islay whiskies. With water: drier, more ashy and with rather a lot of kelp and a pretty brittle minerality. Mouth: surprisingly soft on arrival, lots of clean smoke, light wood ash notes, more lemon juice, raw shellfish, iodine, chives, parsley, coal smoke and wee petrol notes. With water: sharp, clean, raw lemon juice, sheep wool, antiseptic, lime juice, mercurochrome and brine. Finish: long, ashy, petrolic, blade-like, peaty and precise. Comments: An excellent and rather technical Kilchoman that nods quite pointedly at Caol Ila. I find this style extremely good but a tad lacking in soul. However, that’s a very personal take I would say. Still deserving of a good score.
SGP: 367 - 88 points.

 

 

Kilchoman 11 yo 2007/2019 (56.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, cask #307, bourbon, 249 bottles)

Kilchoman 11 yo 2007/2019 (56.5%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, cask #307, bourbon, 249 bottles)
It’s good that we are finally seeing some Kilchoman making past the 10 year mark; quite a few I’ve tried thus far have been generally excellent which bodes well for the distillery’s future I would say. Colour: straw. Nose: once again we’re in this ‘smoked mineral water’ zone. Although you can feel an extra depth and richness from the age. This is sootier, earthier and more on hay, clams, squid ink, seawater, sheep wool and some smoked root vegetables. Notes of umami broths and liquid seasonings as well as a rather peppery unctuousness. Very good! With water: lemon cough drops and once again this more crystalline pear profile. Ashy, herbal, sooty and slightly kippery. Mouth: surprisingly rooty and earthy and vegetal. An oilier, fattier and altogether more greasy kind of peat. Notes of petrol, smoked olive oil, smoked turnip, wood ash, anthracite and more pepper. Also quite a bit of iodine and TCP in the background. With water: kippers, black olives in brine, anchovy paste, pure smoked barley and hessian. Finish: long, sooty, deeply smoky, briny and getting towards this sharp and pure lemon juice profile once again. Comments: The difference here is that this feels like it’s own thing - like Kilchoman. The age evolves it away from just feeling technically very good and towards something a bit more idiosyncratic and soulful. Can’t wait to try these vintages at 15 years.
SGP: 466 - 90 points.

 

 

 

 

February 7, 2020


Whiskyfun

A wandering Benriach session

We don’t hear as much about Benriach as we used to just a few years ago, do we? Time to try a few, as they come out of the boxes…

Benriach 19 yo 1999/2019 (55.1%, Whisky Erlebnis, sherry)

Benriach 19 yo 1999/2019 (55.1%, Whisky Erlebnis, sherry) Three stars and a half
This one comes with a lovely pop label, hope it’ll be rather ‘wham!’ Colour: gold. Nose: truffles and walnuts, that’s the sherry singing. Touches of rubber and ink as well, marmalade, three used matches, then raisins and a feeling of rancio. With water: chocolate up, and so are soups and bouillons. Some ‘sherry smoke’ too – nope that’s not peat.  Mouth (neat): rather fat, better balanced than I had thought, with very little ‘S’ and rather all things oranges, marmalade, bitter cordials, cocoa… With water: good! Some kind of Indian spice mix, oranges and caraway, green curry, a little leather… Finish: rather long and rather more peppery. The kind of pepper that come from bespoke sherry casks. Bitter oranges and perhaps a wee bit of anchovy in the aftertaste. Comments: not my preferred style, but things seem to have remained under control and the end result is tasty.
SGP:362 - 83 points.

Another sherry please…

Benriach 16 yo 1999/2016 (59.3%, OB, for Sun Favourite, Taiwan, oloroso sherry butt, cask #2102, 610 bottles)

Benriach 16 yo 1999/2016 (59.3%, OB, for Sun Favourite, Taiwan, oloroso sherry butt, cask #2102, 610 bottles) Four stars and a half
I believe these ones are only finishings. Colour: amber. Nose: hey, this is fun! It’s rather on thin mints, pine resins, chocolate, menthol, Wulong tea (they’ve got some great ones in Taiwan), and loads of milk chocolate and fresh-sawn pinewood. The menthol brings a lot of freshness, which is welcome. Sauna oils. With water: oh, green oranges! Love green oranges and the perfumes made thereof. A pack of Kools. Mouth (neat): to tell you the truth, I find it a little mizunara-y, and frankly, I’d have said this is Japanese. Once again, loads of chocolate and menthol, pinesap, pinewood… Feels very ‘lab’, but I believe this utter madness (read tekh-noh-loh-gy) just worked. With water: spicy, resinous oak and oranges and menthol, plus chocolate. Finish: long and all on the same flavours. Comments: I should hate this, and yet I rather loved this technological, almost Frankensteinian concoction. What’s the damage, doc? Am I lost forever? To think that it’s a finish!
SGP:471 - 89 points.

Perhaps an easy hoggie for a change…

Benriach 2011/2019 (43%, Jean Boyer, Gifted Stills, hogshead, 453 bottles)

Benriach 2011/2019 (43%, Jean Boyer, Gifted Stills, hogshead, 453 bottles) Three stars
That’s what’s cool with low strengths, you may pull loads of bottles from one single cask – and keep the prices budgety. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: got to love this style, you can’t do any more natural, there are only wee touches of vanilla from an otherwise very shy cask, while all the rest is about barley eau-de-vie, with cakes, pastries, Ovaltine and sweet beers. This nature, my friend. Mouth: this are less easy on the palate, but this works, with overripe apples, barley, sour cakes, leaven, and a little butterscotch. Finish: a little short, with notes of pears and fudge. Comments: you could almost believe this was made by a new-born ‘craft’ distillery no one ‘s ever heard of. A promising one. Like the clean honesty in this.
SGP:441 - 82 points.

Back to heaviness after that short rest…

Benriach 9 yo 2010/2019 (62.1%, James Eadie, European Oak Pedro Ximenez Sherry Hogshead finish, cask #348035)

Benriach 9 yo 2010/2019 (62.1%, James Eadie, European Oak Pedro Ximenez Sherry Hogshead finish, cask #348035) Three stars and a half
Another one from a kitchen, as it appears, but beyond beliefs and hard statements, only your copita is right in the end of the day. All we need is to remain honest and open-minded. Phew… Colour: coffee. Nose: no quibbles this far, it’s so strong that not much comes through anyway. Brownies, sawdust and coffee liqueur? With water: chocolate malt, chocolate beer, earth, new plastics, brown sauce (the one they pour over sausage), Nutella, and Corinth currants. This is what I’d call a chocolaty malt. Mouth (neat): humpff! Bags of roasted chestnuts, more roasted chestnuts, and perhaps a dollop of chestnut purée from Ardèche, where they say they make the best in the world. Heavy stuff. With water: it’s the spicy oak that would come out this time, with a lot of caraway and cinnamon. I’m just wondering, do they char European oak? I’ve always wondered why wines and whiskies do not get the same flavours at all from European oak. Just a matter of toasting vs. charring? Finish: long and extremely chocolaty. Chocolate and roasted chestnuts. Crème de marron. Comments: this restless baby had a lot to tell us! Not really lace, but I  do take my hat off.
SGP:461 - 83 points.

Back to the rather lighter ones, because you cannot quite have two monsters in a row…

Benriach 11 yo 2008/2019 (55.5%, Maltbarn, sherry, 156 bottles)

Benriach 11 yo 2008/2019 (55.5%, Maltbarn, sherry, 156 bottles) Two stars and a half
Colour: golden straw. Indeed that’s between ‘straw’ and ‘gold’. Nose: malt, barley, touches of earth, fruit peelings, a drop of beef bouillon. More a duo or a trio than the Berliner Philharmoniker so far… With water: sour cream, porridge, fresh bread. Mouth (neat): cold-distilled ale. The same drop of beef bouillon, some big maltiness, perhaps even a little Guinness, and just leaven bread. With water: gets a little softer. Scottish brioche. Will they make brioche in independent Scotland? Finish: pretty long but a little cardboardy. Flour, bread… Comments: this baby’s not very ‘Maltbarn’ in my opinion – I mean, perhaps it is literally – but there, it’s not a scandal at all. We’ve had better Maltbarns having said that – all of them, I would add (what?)
SGP:341 - 79 points.

Perhaps an old one, for a change?...

Benriach 28 yo (48.8%, The Whisky Show 10th Anniversary, 106 bottles, 2018)

Benriach 28 yo (48.8%, The Whisky Show 10th Anniversary, 106 bottles, 2018) Four stars
Hey I know I’m late once again, no need to rub salt in my wounds. Colour: gold. Nose: ah there, this is Benriach as we knew it after Billy Walker had revamped the distillery. Remember those 1976s? So a touch of nail polish, then fresh almond oil, then assorted tropical fruits including bananas, passion fruits and mangos. In the background, some fresh herbs, fresh-cut onions, asparagus, green tomatoes, and just broken branches. Very complex, very luminous, very beautiful. Mouth: there’s a little coconut in the arrival, but things are soon to improve, with tangerines, papayas, avocado juice, and a feeling of citrus-led IPA. There might be a little too much oak as well (white pepper) but we’re still very fine. Finish: this is where it loses a bit of steam, with some tannins and fruit peels slowly taking over. Comments: it’s not impossible that this was even better at 25, but why would we argue? Did we find a brilliant more recent Benriach? I think not!
SGP:651 - 87 points.

… But we are resourceful…

Benriach 28 yo 1990/2018 (48.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, 107 bottles)

Benriach 28 yo 1990/2018 (48.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, 107 bottles) Four stars
Will this be the same whisky? Colour: gold. Nose: yeah well, if they’re not the same, they’re extremely similar and almost more undistinguishable than the Kessler sisters. To be honest, any differences would only be a figment of my imagination. Better not go on, I agree. Mouth: shall I tell you that hackneyed joke about that chef that only cooks with whisky, and that sometimes even adds it to the food? Or the whisky turkey? Or the one about that stuttering stillman that never found the right cut and had a son called J-j-j-j-j-ock? I agree, let’s pull the plug. Finish: ditto. Comments: ditto.
SGP:651 – 87 points.

Benriach 1994/2016 (54.1%, OB for Independent Spirit, peated bourbon barrel, cask #240888, 273 bottles)

Benriach 1994/2016 (54.1%, OB for Independent Spirit, peated bourbon barrel, cask #240888, 273 bottles) Three stars
Another one that I had kept in the boxes for future tastings. The future is now. Colour: straw. Nose: never been a huge fan of peated Benriach, some young ones had even been a little vulgar shall we say, but this utter farminess is kind of spectacular. Mud, then old yard after a heavy shower, cracked pepper, spend grains, sour doughs, Calmac’s porridge… This is very austere indeed, and perhaps only for intellectualists. Not me. With water:  mud and porridge, with a little lime juice. Gotta love lime juice. Mouth (neat): the nose was forgettable, this is not. Huge peat, huge pepper, immense tar and bitterness, some lemon, and a bit of pain. This was probably pretty hot in the peat years, but by today’s standards, it’s simply too much. Or for these times’ Obersturmbannführers  only. With water: frankly better, that is to say with more lemons and drops of gherkin and olive brines. Finish: rather long, salty, dry. Cactus juice. Comments: seriously, many distilleries on the mainland have tried to mimic the Islays. I say they should drop peat, as whilst it was all pretty funny fifteen years ago, it’s all become boring and, in many cases, bad. Of course I’m not talking about Brora, but isn’t even Ardmore struggling? Who’s tried a brilliant new peated Ardmore? Or yeah, Benriach?  Having said that, we’ve had some excellent peated Benriach in the past (another sherried 1994 for Independent Spirit springs to mind), so let’s not generalise too much. Oh well…
SGP:367 - 80 points.

That, my friend, leaves us with a few Cadenheads that I’ve been accumulating within the last years. Let’s have a short selection while we’re at it, and we’ll be done. Figuratively, of course.

Benriach

Benriach-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2019 (57.6%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 546 bottles) Two stars
From two hogsheads. One official website, at time of writing, tell us that this is a 2000, but that cannot be. Colour: straw. Nose: mashed potatoes, mashed mushrooms, broken branches, turnips, and just grass. Reminds us of Pernod’s old official 10. Not much to see… With water: porridge sprinkled with pear juice. Mouth (neat): some raw kisrchy eau-de-vie, really raw, really very raw. With water: pears, pear cider, young pear calvados (they do not only use apples, mind you), dough, Tesco’s brown bread… Finish: rather long, unsexy, difficult, and rather boring. Comments: it does the job (warm you up) but that’s pretty all. I would have dumped these into cheaper blends – I know, not my business.
SGP:351 - 71 points.

What’s happening? Was that an accident?

Benriach-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2018 (56.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 276 bottles) Two stars
Colour: straw. Nose: very mashy as well, and this wouldn’t be Robuchon’s purée de pommes de terre. You know, 50% small potatoes and 50% proper farm butter. Branches, artichokes, parsnips, potatoes… Now if you enjoy mashed potatoes as much as I do, you may love this. Mashed potatoes are an art! With water: old magazines and mashed carrots and turnips. Milk. Mouth (neat): we’re okay this time, this is acceptable, too beerish for sure, rustic, but acceptable. With water: this is better, for sure. Barley, pepper, wood, cinnamon, orange squash, sadly also quite a lot of sawdust. Finish: long and difficult. Plywood. The aftertaste, all on oranges, is nicer, but that’s too late. Comments: the authenticity is worth quite some points here, but other than that, it’s difficult malt whisky. Malt whisky for penitents?
SGP:351 - 73 points.

Welcome to the whisky masochists club!...

Benriach-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2018 (58.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, hogshead, 564 bottles) one star and a half
How’s life, Brown-Forman? This from two hogsheads. Colour: white wine. Nose: ooh, turnips and Jerusalem artichokes! Some chalk as well, plaster, old magazines, and just plain Breton artichokes. In truth, this could be better… With water: no. Dirt, Brussels sprouts, steamed cabbage… Mouth (neat): ah yes, it seems that we’re above the waterline, with nicer notes of apples. Barley syrup. Not nice, but kind of agreeable. With water: indeed, this won’t kill us and make us turn to gin, but frankly, Benriach! Finish: long and a little painful again. Bitter vegetables, mashes, stale pepper, cardboard… Comments: no, I think this is too hard.
SGP:351 - 69 points.

It's all going downwards, is it not? So go on? Well, where there's a will there's a way…

Benriach-Glenlivet 10 yo 2008/2019 (56%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, Madeira hogshead, 276 bottles) Two starsIndeed, one option would have been to give this to the fish. Apparently, the other one was to use Madeira. My take: Madeira’s saved a few stinkers already, so why Not? Colour: white wine. Nose: I don’t know what to say. Mashed vegetables. A feeling of solitude. With water: goodness gracious! Mouth (neat): it’s true that this is better on the palate. Mustards, peppers, wasabi and horseradish, green walnuts, whacky curries… With water: yup, we’re back to civilisation, with a proper whisky that you could actually drink when there’s strictly no other stuff by W.M. Cadenhead around. Still relatively poor whisky, though. Finish: rather long, drying, peppery. Very peppery aftertaste. Comments: I hope you will remember that this is all done for our common cause!
SGP:362 - 75 points.

Mee God, how many such young casks do/did they own? I think we’ll try to tackle older ones for a change…

Benriach-Glenlivet 20 yo 1996/2017 (44.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 186 bottles) one star and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: it’s not that it’s any less mashy or turnipy (I know), but at least it’s got some depth. Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips… no, my oh my, this is becoming extremely difficult indeed. Too dry, too austere. With water: no. No way. Mouth (neat): fair, barley-y, peppery… no, sob, this is too hard. Some very dry whisky, extremely hard to enjoy, almost sadistic. This style rather reminds me of Cadenhead twenty years ago, so pretty post-Aberdeen. Hard stuff. With water: a little better, thanks to some friendly aldehydes. Sweet breads. Finish: rather long, bitter, mashy, difficult. Comments: not at all. I this some kind of malediction?
SGP:361 - 69 points.

No luck, really, no luck at all. We’ll go backwards to try to find redemption, but this is a last try. To think that we’ve got loads of Clynelish to taste… So, a very last try…

Benriach-Glenlivet 29 yo 1986/2015 (50.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon barrels, 360 bottles) Four stars
Could be that Benriach needs either good sherry, or fresh bourbon, and that it would be terrible spirit otherwise. Let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: sure it’s still a little mashy, but good ageing and additional notes of bananas and vanilla from bourbon wood do indeed lift it quite a bit. There’s some finer menthol too, many subtler notes of herbs and dried flowers (woodruff), and some grains and some breads. A proper breakfast around Bavaria and Austria. Almonds, walnuts… And Champagne! With water: pineapple yoghurt! I repeat, pineapple yoghurt! Mouth (neat): indeed, another galaxy, even if some rawish ginger tends to try to seize control. Nice tense barley and pepper, then stewed apples. Rather wonderful maltiness. With water: careful, do not add too much water, coz fresh bourbon not always swim well. If you do it well, you’ll find perfect notes of mangos, pineapples, and papayas. A little lavender honey too. Finish: medium, both on banana-y tropical fruits and on northern pastries. Danishes, scones… Comments: honestly, we were about to give up. Dear WM. Cadenhead, you’ve been playing with our nerves today!
SGP:651 - 87 points.

(Thank you Tom, you saved this session!)

Here's my advice, store these bottles for around 2 or 3 centuries in a cool dark place, and your offspring might get some quaffable whisky. If mankind survives… Seriously, I believe strictly all other recent offerings by Cadenhead have been and are very vastly superior.

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

 

February 6, 2020


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Longrow
OB vs. quasi-OB

These will make for our monthly Springbanks, if you don’t mind. I suppose I don’t need to tell you that Longrow is, since 1973, some peated Springbank that’s twice instead of two and a half times distilled as is Springbank in itself. Longrow was also the name of an earlier distillery in Campbeltown, of which we’ve seen two or three lovely bottles… which were all fakes, naturally. I believe Springbank’s Longrow, just like Tobermory’s Ledaig or Clynelish’s Brora, have first been made because Islay whisky was in short supply after some severe drought in the late 1960s and because of the temporary closure of Caol Ila. So, we said an OB and half an OB…

Longrow 21 yo 1994/2016 (46%, OB, refill bourbon hogshead, 230 bottles)

Longrow 21 yo 1994/2016 (46%, OB, refill bourbon hogshead, 230 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: extreme plaster, bandages, crushed aspirin tablets, and almond oil at first nosing. Then a little more fish oil, engine oil, and a little saltpetre as well, but it remains extremely medicinal. They should pour this at hospitals whenever you break an arm or a leg. I agree, in that case more fine people would break legs and arms, so bad idea, please cancel. Mouth: it is extremely paraffiny, austere, with again a lot of aspirin and plaster, some kind of sour cream, some fish oil, green lemons rather than lime, sucking paper, also pencil lead while we are at it… You really need at least two minutes before you start to find gentler flavours such as grapefruits, tangerines, white pepper and ashes, but aspirin and paraffin keep running the show. Finish: long, a little rounder, with maybe a little vanilla, unsweetened apple compote, cod oil, and really a lot of paraffin again in the aftertaste. Plasticine as well as sour/sharp riesling. Mosel? Comments: hate to say this, but this is certainly not whisky for beginners. Not a style that one would find anywhere else, really, and it is a little ‘love or hate it’ at times. Naturally, I rather loved it.
SGP:373 - 90 points.

Longrow 11 yo 2007/2019 (57.8%, Cadenhead, Port Cask, refill Port pipe, 708 bottles)

Longrow 11 yo 2007/2019 (57.8%, Cadenhead, Port Cask, refill Port pipe, 708 bottles) Four stars and a half
They seem to like red wine at Cadenhead’s. We do too, but not always in our whiskies. But let’s not rant on. Colour: best of news, this isn’t pink, it’s not even apricotty, it’s just gold with the faintest hue of orange. Nose: phew, no blackcurrants and no black cherries in sight, rather the trademark sooty ashiness, engine oil, limestone and plaster, bandages, putty, carbolineum, creosote, all that. H.u.r.r.a.y. With water: huge viscimetry! Other than that, chalk, aspirin, lemons, bread dough, pinewood smoke, and perhaps two cherry stems. Make that one. Mouth (neat): with this kind of amount of wine influence, they could as well do a triple-merlot one-day finishing, I wouldn’t care. Perfect medicinal and chalky arrival, getting dry and waxy, then lemony, with some green pepper and there, perhaps, a tiny-wee touch of cabernet-sauvignon. No touriga nacional, mind you, and I may even be dreaming. With water: excellent, more on bitter oranges this time, and blood oranges, spritz, Schweppes… (do you know Philip Morrice’s old Schweppes Guide to Scotch? It’s excellent, you’ll easily find it for cheap at evilbay or dramazon.) Finish: bitter oranges and smoked salmon, chalk, white wine… Could be some Portuguese wine indeed, but rather alvarinho than Port. Quite some pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: if only all red-wined whiskies would be like this…
SGP:564 - 88 points.

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

 

February 5, 2020


Whiskyfun

Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions,
today Balvenie

Including, as become customary, some independent undisclosed blended malts sold under the name ‘Burnside’.

Burnside 28 yo 1991/2019 (48.4%, The Taste of Whisky, Whisky Elements, refill bourbon, cask #7364, 204 bottles)

Burnside 28 yo 1991/2019 (48.4%, The Taste of Whisky, Whisky Elements, refill bourbon, cask #7364, 204 bottles) Four stars and a half
So this is officially a blended malt, a.k.a. teaspooned malt. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s more citric than any OBs, which may come from the fact that the cask was less active here. That leaves room for more white currants, lemons, gooseberries, apples and greengages, then a little menthol that goes so well within this kind of context. Granted, there is a little custard as well, but that works like, well, custard over chocolate mousse. A lovely fresh nose, very vibrant at 28. The wonders of proper refill wood with enough time… Mouth: it’s more ‘Balvenie’ now, that is to say more on mirabelles and other juicy sweet plums, apricots, white peaches… Tends to become sharper having said that, at times even a little acerbic, but that works extremely well here. Bags of cider apples and even more greengages. Very moderate vanilla. Finish: rather long, a tad creamier again. Custard over green apples and chasselas grapes. Comments: wonderful malt whisky au naturel, very fresh, even refreshing. But careful then…
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Let’s check if our theory about OBs being more cask-driven holds. Im-me-dia-te-ly!

Balvenie 15 yo 1998/2013 ‘Single Barrel’ (47.8%, OB, cask #01620)

Balvenie 15 yo 1998/2013 ‘Single Barrel’ (47.8%, OB, cask #01620) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: indeed, this has more tropical fruits, a little more vanilla and even coconut, as well as more butter, while the background is rather similar to that of the IB. Small berries, mirabelles, apples, touch of earl grey. Its rather fascinating to experience this feeling of just a layer of wood having been added over a malt whisky. You cannot not think of some Meursaults from the 2000s vintages (when oak was still fashionable). Or there, Parkerised wines. Mouth: much, much less differences on the palate, this time it’s almost the same whisky, with the same kind of tartness, plums, apricots, apples. But indeed there is a little vanilla cake. Very fine, just oakier – and yet it’s not oaky whisky at all. Finish: long and just as creamy as the IB. Coconut, vanilla and mirabelles., a little muscat and apples in the aftertaste.  Comments: I tend to like them as zesty as possible, but this one was absolutely excellent, for sure.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

And now back 30 years for today’s little oldie…

Balvenie 1969 (58%, R. Watson Aberdeen, +/-1980)

Balvenie 1969 (58%, R. Watson Aberdeen, +/-1980) Five stars
I believe R. Watson used to be connected to Cadenhead, but I’m not 100% sure. Or I may have forgotten (oops)… Colour: straw, with the very same shades and nuances. Nose: often the same story, you couldn’t quite tell about the origins of these additional flavours, is that bottle aging or a different distillate in the first place, or, granted, both. In this very case, we do have melons and mirabelles that smell pretty contemporary, but also a lot of moss, camphor, pine needles, well-aged tea (pu-ehr), embrocations, massage balm, sauna oils, and so on. This is simply ravishing. With water: just perfect. Flints, chalk, rhubarb, green oranges. Mouth (neat): utterly amazing, reminding me of an old Balvenie ‘As We Get It’ that we had tried quite some years ago. Fantastic grapefruits and lemons, with a pretty acidic arrival, while it’s then all razorblade-like, mineral, lemony, very tense, and pretty pungent. Cleans your palate, I can tell you. With water: huge citrus now. As juices, as sweets, as syrups and as liqueurs. Very impressive. Finish: long, ueber-clean, very citrusy and pretty chalky. Comments: it was a very punchy oldie, but as they used to say back in the days, there isn’t any hard whisky, only weak men. Stunning high-power lemony profile that hits right between your ears. That’s right, it punches your nose.
SGP:661 - 92 points.

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

 

February 3, 2020


Whiskyfun

Mixed bags

Whiskyfun's mixed bags
Stuff from Scotchland, part four aye

Coz the boxes had hidden compartments! So more undercover stuff, undisclosed matters and hidden things after a short break. With that we’re well set…

Cask Islay (46%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon casks, +/-2018)

Cask Islay (46%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon casks, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
A.D. Rattray! Glad to meet one of their recent bottlings, I had thought they were, well, gone. Or busy with the Outer-Mongolian market. We had an early batch of their Cask Islay in 2011, and thought it was pretty good (WF 83). Colour: white wine. Nose: reeks of young Caol Ila, which can’t be bad news. Apples, garden bonfire, seawater, whelks, oysters, fresh almonds, and lemons. There. Mouth: purrfekt, with some impeccable ashy smoke (very CI indeed) and more almonds, lemons, apples, and those tiny green crabs that people would rather throw into wild broths and soups. Oh and apples, naturally. Okay, I had mentioned apples before. Finish: rather long, very ashy, kippery, and with apples and lemons in the aftertaste. Comments: a great batch despite the youth and the (relative) simplicity. Not much depth, but all the rest is perfect. Welcome back, A.D. Rattray!
SGP:466 - 84 points.

Since we’ve met a peater…

Finlaggan 2007/2016 (53.8%, Vintage Malt Whisky Company, for Taiwan, Hot Malt Co., hogshead, cask #101, 300 bottles)

Finlaggan 2007/2016 (53.8%, Vintage Malt Whisky Company, for Taiwan, Hot Malt Co., hogshead, cask #101, 300 bottles) Four stars
You know what people will say, that this could be Lagavulin and so on…  Colour: straw. Nose: well, this could be Lagavulin, but it could be Caol Ila as well, since both malts tend to converge these days. No? Fresh roots, seaweed, touches of Demerara sugar, beach sand, smoked porridge… Mind you, this is only 9 or even 8. With water: brake fluid and used engine oil, that’s the real deal ;-). Mouth (neat): this sweetness is very Laga indeed. Laga is sweet, sweeter than the others in any case. Tangerines, pink grapefruits, pomegranates, smoked herbs, angelica , lapsang, gentian. With water: immaculate, perfect. Should anyone ever manage to peat lemon juice, this is what you’d get. With global warming they’ll soon grow lemons in Port Ellen anyway, so I’m sure that’ll happen sooner or later. Yeah I know, nitrosamines… Finish: long, ashy, herbal. Grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: simple of course, but rather sublime. So, who’s going to smoke lemons?
SGP:567 - 87 points.

Peat Reek 10 yo 2006/2017 (58.6%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, refill sherry, cask #PR2017-4, 234 bottles)

Peat Reek 10 yo 2006/2017 (58.6%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, refill sherry, cask #PR2017-4, 234 bottles) Four stars
In my short experience these Peat Reeks could rip your head off, so careful now… Colour: white wine. Nose: smoke and sweetness, with a few touches of iron and lime. Ammonia. Not too sure… With water: pure raw smoke, almonds, and graphite. Or something like that. Mouth (neat): raw power, you cannot not think of Iggy and the Stooges. Concentrated lemon juice and total smoke, all that blended with liquid glue (UHU) and pure acetone. All right then. With water: no civilisation in sight, rather the tartest lemons and other sharp citrus fruits. Finish: long, with salt chiming in. Huge smoke. Comments: whether these ueber-peaty juices will remain legal after Brexit or not remains to be seen. In the meantime, I remain ‘rather quite a fan’. Cough, cough…
SGP:368 - 85 points.

We need to change style. Peat is so 2000, after all…

Beathan 2010/2017 (50%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, cask #59-60, 1391 bottles)

Beathan 2010/2017 (50%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, cask #59-60, 1391 bottles) Two stars
Glad to have a Wilson & Morgan on WF, but what could this be? Beathan? I know that’s a first name over there in Scotchland, but it looks like it’s also a brand of pants by Björn Borg. Poor Björn Borg, how low the almighty has fallen! Colour: gold. Nose: peat and Swiss cheese, that’s not a common combination. Truffles, struck matches, gas and new sneakers, that’s not very common either. What the h*ll is this? With water: don’t! Guns and gas. Mouth (neat): holy featherless crow! Deep-burnt caramel, cactus, concentrated lime juice, just ink, and ueber-smoked fish. This is extremely unlikely, bitter, and both funky and… loco. Escobar would have enjoyed this, I suppose. As for what it is, could be some Tullibardine matured in white zinfandel and finished in an ex-Octomore cask. No?  With water: sulphur, lemons, and bitter almonds. Finish: rather long and pretty difficult. Bitter almonds and amaretti all over the place. Comments: artistic, pretty abstract whisky by our Italian friends, we’re almost thinking Pasolini. Or Berio? Fontana? Tough, challenging proposal, perhaps too philosophical for me. Besides, could be that I shouldn’t have added water. Pace!
SGP:265 - Score on hold (checking sample).

Peat Reek 8 yo ‘Embers’ (58%, Blackadder, sherry, cask #EMB7, 163 bottles, 2018)

Peat Reek 8 yo ‘Embers’ (58%, Blackadder, sherry, cask #EMB7, 163 bottles, 2018) Three stars
Looks like this is only a finish, but you never know with those crazy people at Blackadder’s. It’s said that this would rather be a peater from the mainland. Colour: light gold. Nose: sweet smoke, as we used to say, rather in the style of Ardmore, but with more smoke, more precision, and just more brine. Are we dead sure this is not some coastal malt? With water: it’s not. Garden smoke, sour soups, and just grist.  No more fruitiness, I’m afraid. Mouth (neat): smoked almonds, beer, peated grist, a kiln, and just peated malt. Huge ashes – looks like once again, you ate the ashtray! With water: smoked almonds and more ashes. Notes of cherries, where do those come from? Finish: rather long but a tad thin, very ashy. Eating ashes. Comments: it’s not easy when you haven’t got any crabs, oysters, or clams. Does peat need the sea? Discuss at will…
SGP:366 - 80 points.

A last one for the road, let’s gather our strength…

Peat Reek (60.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #PR2018-1, 338 bottles, 2018)

Peat Reek (60.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #PR2018-1, 338 bottles, 2018) Four stars and a half
This could be the deal, let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: lemon juice, smoked salmon, and big fat oysters. Why always complexity and long notes? With water: precisely, why? Have you ever tried Alsatian riesling from the grand cru Frankstein? Mouth (neat): utterly perfect, taking no prisoners, and all on lemons, ultra-smoked green tea, and roots. Another one that hits you right between your eyes. Bang! With water: some immaculate, no-BS coastal smoke. Finish: yeeeaaah, sadly. Lemons and almonds. Comments: I know it’s impossible that this would be Port Ellen, but had I tried this 100% blind (and perhaps a little drunk, let’s be honest), I’d have said young ex-re-re-refill Port Ellen. Why be afraid? The world is your friend!
SGP:368 - 89 points.

PS: love you, Blackadder!

 

February 2, 2020


Whiskyfun

Five more rums on a Sunday

Rummaging now, if you have a minute or two... There...…

Latino 5 yo (40%, Compagnie des Indes, blend, +/-2018)

Latino 5 yo (40%, Compagnie des Indes, blend, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
The whole idea sounds a little fishy, but the company does not at all, so this is pretty intriguing. Latino style rum? Without any sugar? I’m game… Colour: straw. Nose: grasses and flowers, I would say. Raw tobacco leaves, mown lawn, hay, small berries (sorb, holly, elder)… This is all soft, complex and elegant. Exactly not what I was expecting, that is to say some boring molassy extravagance. I would add a wee feeling of Chablis. Mouth: right, this is thinner, and pretty sweet, honestly. But it is not horrendous, and there is some cane to talk to. But the feeling of Spanish orange liqueur isn’t quite my cup of tea. Mixed feelings, shall we say. Finish: medium, sugary, syrupy. Not the best part. Comments: rather loved the nose, but the palate was a little more difficult to this whisky drinker. We’re always having trouble with anything sugary, are we not? Unless poured over tons of crushed ice…
SGP: 730- 79 points.

Oh, perhaps this…

Havana Club ‘Anejo Especial’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2005)

Havana Club ‘Anejo Especial’ (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2005)
Not that we’re expecting much from this older baby (Santiago de Cuba over it anytime!) but there, we were having it in the stash and you just never know… Colour: gold. Nose: not much indeed, but at least it’s not pumped-up. Fine grasses, crushed canes (once the juice has been extracted), a little oil (sunflower?) and perhaps a little wax. Very humble, modest, and shy. But no one’s really nosing this, that would be just you and me ;-).  Mouth: oh this is not too bad. Some ethanol for sure, sour honeys (mead), proper honey, then rather cardboard and a feeling of, well, ethanol indeed. White spirit. Finish: virtually none, but as a consequence, there are no foul notes whatsoever. Comments: nothing much ‘especial’ here, it’s a humble, cheap spirit that does its job, more or less. The opposite of a French rail worker, if you will. Do not drink neat.
SGP:230 - 50 points.

O Reizinho ‘Gold’ (57%, Latitudes, Madeira, agricole, +/-2019)

O Reizinho ‘Gold’ (57%, Latitudes, Madeira, agricole, +/-2019) Three stars and a half
Indeed, Madeira’s got a proper appellation ‘agricole’. Well-deserved if you asked me, even if their rums are pretty different from the ‘mass’. Some anti-Don Papa, if you will. Colour: straw. Nose: got to love aniseed, fennel and wild carrots as much as I do, but then you’re in for a treat. Some funny bacterial notes too, something metallic, perhaps distant traces of durian, even something very faintly bretty, but other than that, it’s pretty perfect. Great personality. With water: mead, really, it’s artisanal mead flavoured with marijuana. Mouth (neat): love this. It’s got strictly nothing to do with Martiniquan agricoles, but anyone loving green oranges, aniseed, dried tropical fruits and the craziest meads in the world will love this. And perhaps sweet balsamic vinegar too. With water: wait, pisco? Really? Finish: long, whacky, fermentary, meady, with an aftertaste that’s a little more difficult. A tad dirty. Comments: crazy existential spirit, for old-school philosophers only. And us.
SGP:662 – 84 points.

Jamaican 12 yo 2007/2019 (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, barrel, 2019)

Jamaican 12 yo 2007/2019 (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, barrel, 2019) Four stars
This should work, even if Cadenhead usually rather have the lightest styles as far as Jamaican rums are concerned. Colour: gold. Nose: no quibblings, this works even if it’s no ester bomb. Gherkin brine, preserved pineapples, rotting guavas, liquorice, dried fish, fried small fish, and old magazines. Nah it’s pretty funky, in fact. Funky Monymusk? Mouth: ah yeah, this is good. Good funk, salt, olives, dried bananas, salted liquorice, and some unexpected raisins. Notes of cloves and turmeric, as well as a little peat. Indeed, some peatiness. Finish: long, dry, salty. Big fat olives in the aftertaste. Comments: aren’t they upping their game these days, as far as rums are concerned? Less Ardbeg, more Jamaican rum, not really sure we should complain. The price is ridiculously low. Like 40€. We never talk about prices since we find that rather vulgar and because we’re no buying guide, but in this case, we just couldn’t resist… 
SGP:462 - 87 points.

We do them by five, so we need a #5… Perhaps this?...

Secret Jamaican 3 yo 2016/2019 (54.2%, eSpirits for Liquid Treasures, barrel, 149 bottles)

Secret Jamaican 3 yo 2016/2019 (54.2%, eSpirits for Liquid Treasures, barrel, 149 bottles) Three stars and a half
Oh, no! We already had all these very boring secret Speysiders (or Highlanders, or Orkney, or Islay, or Tennessee, whatever…) and now what, secret Jamaicans? What’s next, secret gin? Hold my gun… And my god, 2016, but that was yesterday! Colour: dark gold. Nose: yeah well, that’s the thing, there are brilliant rums that are just unaged, while that just doesn’t exist with barley spirits. In a way, this is an Anejo. And it’s very fine, cake-y and salty, with walnuts, almonds, drops of diesel oil (what shall we do when we all own Teslas and other fine examples of massacre design?) and gherkins. With water:  indeed, gherkin brine. Mouth (neat): Worthy Park? With water: smoked anchovies in olive oil and lemon juice. Finish: long, but a little short s far as flavours are concerned. See what I mean? Comments: I’m wondering if they aren’t even better when just ‘white’, or ‘silver’ instead of aged for a short period of time. Yup, just like tequila. But don’t get me wrong, it’s great young rum.
SGP:462 - 84 points.

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

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

January 2020

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Caol Ila 37 yo 1982/2019 (56.3%, Kingsbury for Club Qing Hong Kong, butt, cask #700) - WF91

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Caol Ila 16 yo 1969 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, old brown label, +/-1985) - WF93

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (46%, James Eadie, 1100 bottles) - WF87

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Port Mourant 13 yo 2005/2018 (48.5%, The Rum Mercenary) - WF90

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Espero ‘Reserva Especial’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2019) - WF67
 

February 1, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Liquid Brexit
A new dawn has broken, has it not? Behold the glorious freedom we have woken to here in these newly liberated British isles. Taste it! In fact, let’s do exactly that. Just as Serge bid farewell to us yesterday, so too must I shoulder the national responsibility of bidding farewell to Europe and hello to a Union Jack-tinged future. Resplendent, delicious, chill-filltered, 40%abv, caramel-infused, Trump-clutching, trouser-tightening, carbonated, crash-diluted nationalism. Crack open the English sparking wine! Pull another pint of old puddle water for Nigel. And gather round for a farewell dash on the Brexit tourbus before we set sail for the 1950s and all the extra NHS spending we can eat!

 

Calvados Daron 1968 / 2001 (40%, OB)

Calvados Daron 1968 / 2001 (40%, OB)
Just one of the many filthy French things we’ll be bidding farewell to… Colour: bright amber. Nose: lots of varnish and sharp apple notes. Concentrated apple peelings, cider apples, hardwood polish, raisins and various dark fruits all concentrated and soaked in… well, Calvados. Mouth: a tad cardboardy and dusty. Some sultanas, golden syrup, toffee apples and more towards pears and farmy perry. Some touches of olive oil and brown sugar, even hints of navy rum - in the way that many older spirits often converge. Some rather big tannins and still this background cardboard note. Finish: medium and slightly bitter and chocolatey, like apple pips and orange pith. Comments: Pow! Take that France! Who needs calvados when you’ve got Carling!
SGP: 640 - 74 points.

 

 

The English Patient (51.9%, The Regensburger Whisky & Wine Club)
Not sure about this one, seems appropriate to do it now, although there are rumours of some kind of Riesling and sherry wood combination being involved. Also, it would appear the Germans are laughing at us Brits! Be careful Germany, I hear Jacob Rees-Mogg is dusting off his Spitfire… Colour: deep gold. Nose: what is happening? This is some odd combination of sprayable furniture polish and plasticine. Some notes of Marmite on toast, young calvados (I’m using a fresh glass I promise) and buttery cereals. There’s also a touch of wood glue, feels like there’s some rather jumbled but active oak influences all tussling with each other - not unlike the internal struggles of the Tory party. Varnish and vanilla notes. With water: sour wood, glue, paste - you could use it to fashion a papier mâché bust of Boris Johnson. Mouth: Gah! A garish mix of pencil shavings, molten plasticine, hot varnish, rubber and vinyl. Definitely the whisky of Brexit! With water: seriously, this is not good. Sour, flat, milky, lightly acidic, stale beer, hints of mould. Finish: the wood is rather jagged and aggressive again, a bit all over the place and again these notes of sour beer and bread along with cardboard and something like mushy paper. Comments: An artificial Brexit whisky fashioned by treacherous remoaners it would seem! Anyway, haven’t you heard, Germany? Once climate change get’s a bit more steam on, only glorious pastoral England will be able to grow Riesling (you pay attention too, France!) This is a deeply misleading whisky, to taste it you might be given the impression that Brexit is a load of rubbish!
SGP: 631 - 68 points.

The English Patient (51.9%, The Regensburger Whisky & Wine Club)

 

 

Flower Of Scotland (40%, blended malt bottled 1998 for the 125th anniversary of Kirkcaldy football club)

Flower Of Scotland (40%, blended malt bottled 1998 for the 125th anniversary of Kirkcaldy football club)
It seems those cheeky Scots north of the border are dissatisfied with our Brexity goodness and have designs on their own independence.  Apparently ‘their’ nationalism is better than ours! Colour: straw. Nose: mashed potatoes, freshly cooked grains, Scotch broth, damp cereals, plain toast and wee touches of root veg and cardboard. Mouth: any initial promise on the nose falls rather flat here, indeed the whole is rather empty and drab. Some slightly artificial sweetness, more cardboard, stale porridge, stamp glue. Not much else to report. Finish: mercifully non-existent. Comments: Quite terrible. Once again this is a sample that was given to me by a German, what are they trying to say…?!
SGP: 330 - 57 points.

 

 

On the subject of Scottish independence…

 

 

Springbank 12 yo (53.2%, OB, bottled 2014)

Springbank 12 yo (53.2%, OB, bottled 2014)
Springbank are known for their pro-Scottish independence stance. This batch is apparently 70% sherry and 30% bourbon. Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather dry and chiselled at first. Lots of pebbles, white pepper, newspaper ink, lightly ashy notes and sooty cereals. With a little time the more coastal, citric and waxy Springbank qualities begin to emerge. Putty, lemon cough drops, heather flowers - it’s all very lovely but a tad narrower than other batches and a bit more austere. With water: more easy now, more lemony, coastal, fresh, playful and with this chalky medical side.  Mouth: nice arrival, all on clay, metal polish, waxes and medical tinctures. Rather sharp lemon notes, salinity, crushed seashells and some slightly petrolic mineral qualities. The grumpy side of Springbank. With water: lemon and lime cordials, clay, soot, pebbles, seawater, light peppery peat and some citric zing. Finish: good length, rather dusty, sooty and cereal with more clay, ointments bandages and ink. Comments: Very good but at times rather austere - perhaps reflecting the public austerity that would be necessitated by Scottish independence? Don’t worry, if there’s any problems they can always push for Campbeltownian independence. Just remember, if in doubt, another border will always fix things!
SGP: 463 - 88 points.

 

 

Of course we should look to the future in other ways as well. And from this freshly Brexited angle the future is so bright it’s orange…

 

 

New York Distilling Co 2 yo Rye (47.7%, Boutique-y Rye Co, ‘Batch 3’, 461 bottles)

New York Distilling Co 2 yo Rye (47.7%, Boutique-y Rye Co, ‘Batch 3’, 461 bottles)
Colour: orangey (no kidding!) Nose: surprisingly syrupy and easy, the spice is there but it’s nicely bready and warming. Notes of orange cocktail bitters, fructose syrup and some kind of sweetened child’s medicine (the expensive, non-NHS kind). Gets increasingly jammy and a tad cloying with some caramelising brown sugar notes. Mouth: hotter, more peppery, red chilli, mustard powder, green pepper, spiced vanilla latte, orange curaçao, cocktail bitters, liquorice root and some more slightly artificial sweetness. Cherry throat sweets, eucalyptus tea and aniseed. Finish: rather long, slightly cloying, still rather peppery and with some fruit syrups and glazed pastries. Comments: A boisterous, orange toddler from New York. What a glorious future! Couldn’t find any chicken though…
SGP: 751 - 76 points.

 

 

Who else want’s a trade deal? Trade deals all round… Taiwan, would you like a trade deal…? Go on! Please do a trade deal!!!

 

 

Kavalan 7 yo 2011/2019 (57.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange ‘20th Anniversary’, cask #M111104011A, rum, 151 bottles)
The guys at TWE are, as you might imagine, big fans of Brexit. Colour: gold. Nose: surprisingly lean, grassy and lightly herbal at first nosing. Not too much rum influence, which is a good thing in my book. Some light vanilla, golden syrup, a rather leafy greenery quality and light notes of menthol tobacco. The thing about these Kavalan’s is that they are very good but they do feel like extremely ‘technical’ whiskies. With water: a big improvement! Much more opulent, easy and with this rather bouncy, natural fruitiness. Lots of lemon peel, star fruit, gooseberry and a little pineapple. Mouth: rather hot and peppery, lots of white pepper dried mango, green tea with lemon, some toasted pistachio nuts, chamomile and various green fruits. Very nice. In time you get more of a sense of the rum with these kind of light tropical rum punch cocktail notes. With water: once again, water works really well. More syrupy in texture and more fruity. Fruit salad juices, white pepper, hints of jasmine and herbal teas. Finish: long, creamy and nodding again towards these rum punch qualities with coconut milk, passion fruit jelly and sugar syrups. Comments: Ok Taiwan, where do we sign…?
SGP: 641 - 86 points.

Kavalan 7 yo 2011/2019 (57.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange ‘20th Anniversary’, cask #M111104011A, rum, 151 bottles)

 

 

Who else wants a trade deal? How about Australia? Loyal subjects of Her Majesty the Queen! We all know Australia is already a bit like visiting Britain in the 1970s so we’re half way to Brexit…

 

 

Starward 7 yo 2012/2019 (59%, OB for The Whisky Exchange ‘20th Anniversary’, refill Australian Apera cask, 220 bottles)

Starward 7 yo 2012/2019 (59%, OB for The Whisky Exchange ‘20th Anniversary’, refill Australian Apera cask, 220 bottles)
Apera is a fortified Australian wine not dissimilar to sherry, although I couldn’t tell you more about it than that. Colour: polished gold. Nose: there is indeed something ‘sherryish’ at first. Notes of orange water, ginger bread and some rather pollen-heavy lilies. Rather syrupy and nicely approachable considering the ABV. A few pencil shaving notes begin to emerge in time. With water: greener, more floral, crushed nettles, some light custard notes and more pollen once again. A curious elegance about proceedings now. Mouth: there’s a syrupy texture on arrival that keeps the alcohol well in check and pushes the fruit and floral aspects to the fore. Again more pollens, wildflowers, citrus oils and notes of dried exotic fruits: mango, papaya and guava in particular. There’s certainly a ‘hot climate’ vibe going on. As with the nose, in time some more wood-forward qualities begin to emerge with these wood shaving and green peppery notes. Although, it’s all very clean and precise. With water: a little broader and fatter with water; it certainly swims well this one. Again these notes of pollens, custard, fruit jellies, melon liqueur and pineapple syrup. Finish: good length and with a punchy, peppery heat, some nice bready qualities and more fruit syrups and natural sweetness. Comments: Good news Australia! You too are permitted to join the glorious free market post-Brexit trading bukkake!
SGP: 631 - 85 points.

 

 

But let’s try to remember where it all began: when we first made that historic misstep that led to a 47 year long travesty of ill-judgement and a tyrannical over-abundance of cheese! 1973: the year of national shame…

 

 

Glenlivet 45 yo 1973/2018 (43.1%, Signatory 30th Anniversary, cask #12/1, hogshead / sherry butt, 394 bottles)

Glenlivet 45 yo 1973/2018 (43.1%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #12/1, hogshead / sherry butt, 394 bottles)
Colour: deep amber. Nose: densely concentrated dried and crystallised fruits with earthy, aged dark teas, fruit loaf, aged mead, some rather luscious old Cognacs, leafy tobaccos and beautifully elegant dark chocolate. Superb and rather amazingly fresh. Wee hints of hessian, earth, rancio, porcini mushroom and old leather. Typically exquisite old whisky on the nose. However, the palate can often go astray with such age… Mouth: it is indeed tannic but in the sense of complex, beautifully earthy aged Pu Erh tea, bitter chocolate, game meats and then spicy rye bread. Wonderful balance and the fruits are still vivid and rich. Some herbal bitters, toffee apple, old madeira and hints of orange wine. Finish: long, leathery, full of cinnamon, nutmeg, lime leaf, old chartreuse and soft dark fruits. Unctuous, deep and highly seductive. Comments: It seems we did some things right in 1973 after all.
SGP: 661 - 91 points.

 

 

Gosh, all this Brexiting is going to our heads. Let’s remind ourselves what this is all about…

 

 

English Whisky Co 11 yo 2007/2019 (49.8%, North Star, cask #009, Burgundy wine finish, 330 bottles)

English Whisky Co 11 yo 2007/2019 (49.8%, North Star, cask #009, Burgundy wine finish, 330 bottles)
French wine? English whisky? This bottling goes to the very heart of Brexit. Colour: sunburned salmon. Nose: rose petals, Turkish delight, freshly baked brown bread, dried cranberries, some kind of mild salami. All manner of unusualness at play. It’s an out and out war: French wine Vs English whisky - the great battle of our times! Rather a lot of strawberry jam, cherry throat sweets and some slightly zingy fruit chutneys. Weird but not as terrifying as first appearances might suggest (who said ‘just like Brexit’? How very dare you!). Mouth: in no particular order: mint tea, milk chocolate, fruit scones, raspberry jam, rose cordial, maraschino cherry syrup, cornflakes dusted with icing sugar and hessian. I think this battle has reached stalemate. Finish: medium, slightly rubbery, earthy, muttony and with a kind of odd dirtiness rising to prominence in the aftertaste. Comments: If only Mr Croucher had bottled this back in 2016, it might have hastened Brexit by years! Just think, poor old Theresa May would be Empress of India by now and Mr J R-Mogg would be flogging oiks down an old velum mine in Dorset somewhere! (Apologies to literally everyone who isn’t getting this)
SGP: 572 - 76 points.

 

 

Let’s end this madness and get ourselves back to the cosy comfort blanked of the 1950s. Remember the 1950s and how great they were?

 

 

White Horse (70 proof, OB blend, bottled 1958)

White Horse (70 proof, OB blend, bottled 1958)
This one comes in the Brexit-appropriate format of a miniature. Or, if you’re Mark Francois, a Nebuchadnezzar. Colour: gold. Nose: if there is an aroma that utterly encapsulates Brexit, it’s OBE: ‘old bottle effect’. This pretty much epitomises that profile with lots of mashed vegetables, metal polish, soups, porridge and some rather punchy camphor and hessian tones. Copper coins, menthol rolling tobacco, caraway and hints of cardboard. Mouth: turnips rubbed with Brasso! Tin foil, copper coins, dried marjoram, mashed potatoes with grainy mustard, boiled ham and dry earthiness. Finish: short, metallic, drying and slightly oily. Comments: This might be hard to admit, but not everything was better in the 1950s.
SGP: 473 - 77 points.

 

 

Well, that got a bit silly didn’t it. Good day!

 

 

 



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