2004 <--- April
& LABELS -
An anynonymous Dutch malthead (starts
with a J and ends with an S) just asked
me whether I was trying to build some
traffic to whiskyfun.com by adding some
pornographic art to the pages (see yesterday's
entry below). Erm... Not really, actually.
But his humorous question made me think
of the 1993 Mouton
Rothschild. They had a Balthus
drawing on the label, but there had been
that much controversy that they made another
label just for the US. See both versions
below... Sure that it's something else
than deers, stags and Celtic crosses...
According to the Scotch
Whisky Association, the exports of
Scotch Single Malt Whiskies have been
up 13.5% in value in 2003 (blends = 3.5%).
Just listened to a beautiful CD by the
Ensemble Arion. Their
rendition of André Campra's (1660-1744)
emponymous French cantata is great. If
you're into early classical music, you
can listen to the 'Air
Tendrement' (mp3) on the editor's
website. And don't forget to buy the CD
if you like it.
2004: A BLUEBERRYWINE FINISH!
is pure fun! The ‘Friends
of Malts’ is a whisky
club from Heppenheim in Germany, and not
only they organise what you’d expect
from such a club, but they also make their
own funny ‘finishings’, sort
of playing with a cask of Tomatin they
bought. Some Germans produce some fruit-wine
with blueberries, apples, redcurrant etc.,
so the Heppenheimer maltheads decided
to let some Tomatin age a little further
in some small casks having previously
contained some of these ‘fruit-wines’.
And guess what, I thought it worked better
than with many more ‘official’
experiments. Here are my notes regarding
two of these strange – yet very
funny – experiments:
12 yo Blueberrywine finish (43%, Friends
of Malt, 29 b.) Nice dark
colour, and a very nice fruity nose. You
really get the blueberry, and a young
Tomatin seems to be perfectly fitted to
that. Not unlike some tawny ports. The
mouth is very round and sweet, and the
malt and the fruit go really well. I like
that, because it’s un-pretentious,
because it’s quite ‘humoristic’,
in short because it works. Congrats! 80
12 yo Applewine finish (43%, Friends of
Malt) This one does not
work quite as well as the previous ‘blueberry’
version, I think. A little sour, with
some notes of ‘cider’ that
don’t go that well with the malt.
But it’s not bad at all, still –
and it’s still better than many
tries ‘from the official industry’.
2004: SILVER SEAL TASTING
The man behind Silver Seal is Ernesto
Mainardi, former founder of Sestante.
D'Ambrosio seems to be quite deeply
involved in the business, and all the
Silver Seal malts I already had were constantly
good. The bottlings are said to be made
by Douglas Laing. I could taste five different
bottlings with Giorgio.
11 yo 1990/2001 (43%, Silver Seal, 620
bottles) The nose shows
some very nice sherry, quite a lot of
toffeeish and coffeeish notes but a lot
of freshness. Very little woody notes.
The palate has a lot of vivacity and is
bold and powerful – very satisfying.
Much bigger than what we’d expect
from a 43% malt. But it remains very elegant.
Most enjoyable! 86 points.
14 yo 1989/2003 (46%, Silver Seal, 470
bottles) At first nosing
this Aultmore appears to be nicely balanced,
even if not very expressive. Quite elegant,
with some nice sherried and buttery notes
and quite some wood. The palate is also
very nice but has a lot of tannins, which
are soon to take control. In short, a
little too woody for my taste.
Park 13 yo 1990/2003 (46%, Silver Seal,
680 bottles) Wow, what
a superb and interesting nose! Roots,
heather, gentian… I love this. Beautiful
freshness and great peat. One of the peatiest
Highland Park I ever came across. The
palate is less complex, though, but is
very balanced, on some fine honeyed and
heathery notes. One of the best independent
HPs I had. 89 points.
12 yo 1989/2001 (50%, Silver Seal, 750
bottles) Again a great
nose: bitter almonds, all sorts of flowers,
freshly cut apple, but not much citrus
for a Rosebank. The palate is nicely balanced,
but a little less interesting than the
nose, as often. 85 points.
13 yo 1990/2003 (46%, Silver Seal, 686
bottles) An interesting
expression of Macallan, very perfumy and
elegant. Lots of violet and lavender aromas
and flavours, besides some unusually refined
sherry, that makes us think of a fino
rather than an oloroso. Very nice Macallan,
again much better than many independents.
Yao, from Taiwan, just joined the Malt
Maniacs. So you can expect to read some
interesting Far-eastern insights on malts
in the near future on maltmaniacs.com.
2004: THREE OFFICIAL TALISKERS FOR A TRAVEL
10 yo 2000’s – 12
yo 1970’s – 8 yo 1950’s
10 yo (45.8%, OB, circa 2000)
Just to start our trip, let’s have
this classic again. The nose is very smoky,
with some ‘fishy’ notes. Quite
austere, with almost no fruit. Lacks a
little balance… Some big notes of
apple skins appear after a while, though.
A little ‘military’, whatever
that means (I wanted to mean ‘serious’,
but I’m not sure what the soldiers
do these days is very serious). The palate
is very peaty, smoky, with kind of a bitterness
that somehow puzzles me. Very ‘coastal’,
that’s for sure. Very little fruit,
but a long, bold finish… Some sugary
notes appear… And then again a load
of peat. Endless, but a little too rough.
12 yo (43%, OB ‘Distiller’s
Agency’, 75cl, bottled 70’s)
A genuine legendary malt, this is the
pre-10 yo classical Talisker. I believe
there were two versions, one signed by
‘Johnny Walker’, the other
one by ‘The Distiller’s Agency’,
and it’s the latter that I tasted.
What really amazed me was the fact that
it’s like the newer 10 yo , just
subtler and ‘wider’. The nose
has some nice cappuccino notes beside
some very elegant peat and smoke –
very present. Some cooked fruit as well,
something like apricot pie and peach syrup.
Very charming and perfectly balanced!
The palate is also quite subtle but full-bodied.
Smoked salmon, shells, cooked apple, blackcurrant
jam, and something really organic and
oily. Long finish, even if not as bold
as the 10 yo ’s. Again, it’s
more complex than the current 10 yo and
perhaps not as bold as what I expected
– In short, not the ‘monster’
I was waiting for. But that might well
be good news… Anyway, it deserves
no less than 89 points
on my scale.
8 yo (80 proof, OB UK, ‘Pure malt’,
bottled late 50’s)
Now we’re really travelling through
time! The nose is magnificent and extremely
fresh, with lots of tropical fruit –
typical considering such an old ‘edition’.
Yes, the malt did spend almost 50 years
in its bottle! Passion fruit, pineapple,
mango… Also some musk. A very elegant
old lady’s perfume… Alas,
the peat has vanished – but was
there some peat before? The palate is
much in the same style. Not very bold
of course, but very fruity - tropical
fruits again - like in some old Bowmores.
A lot of style, even if there may well
not be a lot of the distillery’s
character left. The finish is medium with
notes of old Sauternes (crystallised pineapple,
strawberry jam) lingering on your tongue.
The following rating may well include
an emotional part, but I feel we should
go for 90 points. This
rating isn’t strictly ‘organoleptic’,
but who cares?
after several tries at Amazon.com or in
London, I could finally buy a copy of
Jim Murray’s Whisky Babble
– sorry, Bible
2004. I should have spent my
money on some drams instead.The first
pages went smoothly, though. Murray shows
off a lot, but there’s nothing really
wrong with that, I think, and perhaps
he needs to un-directly attack his colleagues
to get in the mood. Claiming you’re
the best is not enough, it certainly goes
even better if you add that the others
are bad. Not very elegant, for sure, but
at least, it’s not boring. Hey,
some action! Then I went on with an A-Z
reading of his ratings and tasting notes…
And right at Aberlour 15 yo Cuvée
Marie d’Ecosse, I said to myself
‘Ite Missa Est’. Murray writes:
“It is sold primarily in France,
and one can assume only that this is God’s
way of making amends for that pretentious,
over-rated, caramel-ridden rubbish called
Cognac they’ve had to endure for
the last couple of centuries”.
Wow, that’s smart! I like malt much
better than Cognac myself, but I can’t
figure out why Murray needed to write
this childish comment. First, perhaps
he should have known that France is the
largest export market for whisky (in volume)
and that we weren’t especially waiting
for the Cuvée Marie d’Ecosse
- which is quite good, btw - to discover
the amazing world of single malts, Second,
that the French hence drink much more
whisky than Cognac, and third that most
of the genuine malt aficionados do also
like Cognac. I mean, good Cognac. Sure,
there are good Cognacs and bad Cognacs,
good whiskies and bad whiskies, and good
books and bad books. But what’s
sure, is that Murray’s new opus
certainly belongs to the latter category,
if you ask me. And I will spare you the
tons of inconsistencies strewn from Aberfeldy
to Tullibardine. Me, chauvinistic? ;-).
PS: In his book, Murray talks a lot about
pages on the web, where he would keep
his data and notes supplemented and updated.
Five months later, the crappy dummy’s
still there, unchanged. Murray brags a
lot about the 1,250 single malts he managed
to rate. Well, there are still only 1,250!
PPS: Funny how Murray, who was 'three
times Glennfiddich Whisky Writer of the
Year' (2003 edition cover) became 'The
world's leading whisky authority' (on
the most recent 2004 edition cover). Tomorrow
- I'm just
back from the Whiskyfair,
Limburg, Germany. Wow, it was my first
time, and what a blast! I could taste
a lot of legends (not Bowmore's - but
some old Talikers like the 12 yo OB, some
Old Clynelishes, some dumpy Cadenheads
etc.) Anyway, i'll publish some tasting
notes within the next days, and a big,
bold report on maltmaniacs.com. Oh, by
the way, who said malt and music don't
fit very well? Look at the picture, this
is Michiel, from Holland, showing us an
old 'Springbank Saxplayer' that was made
for Japan. I've been told there are only
three in Europe. A pity? Not sure ;-).
Anyway, watch this space...
the way, while stopping at a German gas
station, here's what I could spot on some
that's the company which makes the 'Highest
Rated Whisky' (said an ad in Whisky Magazine,
issue #35). Here are some details: 4.6%
vol., contains Water, 11.5% Jim Beam Bourbon
Whiskey, Sugar, Carbon Dioxide, Acids
E334, E330, Flavours, Caramel E150, Preservatives
E211, E202. Welcome to the modern world.
from Venezia, Italy, sends us some very
interesting precisions about some old
'Italian' malts I tasted recently:
'First, the Original Clynelish:
the one you opened (see April 2,
2004) was quite for sure the older
bottle, and was selected and imported
by Edoardo Giaccone (Edward&Edward),
owner for some time of the largest whisky
collection in the world (5000 different
bottles, 600 to taste) in his tavern in
Salò (Brescia). The bottle seems
to have a "long type" tax stamp
around the neck, probably printed with
three Italian star-and-wheel symbols:
all those details suggest a mid-60s bottling.
I think you have to consider it a 100°
proof at 56,9% ABV, not a CS bottling...
Then: Zenith's Brackla
February 19, 2004) go more
into the early 80s than in the 70s; there
was also a 12 y.o. at 43%, if memory serves
well. Bonifanti's Zenith Import portfolio
in those years included Rosebank (20 y.o.
100° proof) and 15 y.o. 50% abv, the
latter even in ceramic and in an ultra-limited
edition at CS) and, of course, the Bulloch
Lade Caol Ila (the basic 12 y.o. at 43%
plus a 15 y.o. at 100° proof and a
huge kitsch golden flagon with a 15 y.o.
inside); you can still get it in Italy
for 230-250 EUR, and quite easily too!
I've seen a 12 y.o. for 130 EUR, it sold
in two or three days.' Thanks, Alberto!
Silver, from Manhattan, is
a fellow member of Malt Maniacs, and a
great jazz musician. As a dentist, he's
specialised in healing the 'jazz blowers':
and you can sometimes meet several famous
trumpet, trombone or sax players in his
waiting room. Peter is an excellent trumpet
player and bandleader himself (not conductor,
he doesn't wave his arms around in front
of the band, he just yells at them to
get started - those are Peter's own words),
and you can go and listen to his own big
band in various gigs in the New York area.
I couldn't help asking him two or three
in which sense is jazz related to whisky,
if you think it is...
Jazz and Whisky? I usually associate
jazz with more intelligent people, since
it requires some intellect to understand.
I find that people who appreciate whisky
are sensualists, folks who really get
pleasure from the incredible palate of
single malts. Then there is the intersection
of listening to great jazz while enjoying
an amazing malt, so that both sides of
the brain are engaged at once. It can
be a very sophisticated experience! I'm
not saying that all intelligent people
like jazz, but most folks who enjoy jazz
seems to be intelligent. I know it's a
generalization and I always say "Most
people hate generalizations!"
Do you know some (other) famous
jazz players who're into whisky (not talking
about artificial paradises here ;-)
you know, a lot of musicians became alcoholics
in their attempts to deal with their lifestyle.
I do know that the legendary saxophonist
Hawkins loved whisky, but
this was before single malts were available.
Thank you Peter. Peter
especially likes to play some Count
Basie with his big band. I just uploaded
a big, bold and terrific example here
(mp3, 3.3Mo, recorded on September 23,
2003). But the band also plays some great
just published another great bunch of
notes. 12 Arbegs, 8 Caol Ilas, 4 Lagavulins,
4 Laphroaigs and 4 Broras within two days:
that's a lot of peat. On my side I'll
attend the Whiskyfair
in Limburg, Germany on Saturday this week.
So stay tuned...
- We knew
Johannes' big Cognac fishbowls, the sherry
copitas, the French 'INAO' glasses, Riedel's
whisky glasses, Glencairn's 'blender's'
glasses, the tumblers... but today, after
my lunch at l'Auberge de l'Ill (sorry,
their cooking is great but their website
is just crap, so no link), they poured
me an Ardbeg and then a Lagavulin in a
strange kind of glass I never saw before
(left). And it worked very well, the malts'
nose getting sort of 'fresher', but not
dull at all. The other glass (background)
contains no whisky, but a very good Armagnac
Laberdolive 1976. By the way, did you
already read Klaus' excellent glassware
very good young singer who's new to me:
Harper, from NYC. Check her
website, many very good tunes are downloadable.
Some are very good, even if the band's
a little rough for my taste. My favourite
track is Strange
McKay bis. There's also another great
on-line show on KCRW
(Morning Becomes Eclectic). Thanks, FX.
have asked how to identify Lagavulin 16
yo old version (pre-2000). That's quite
easy, check below...
of the oval label: a golden royal seal
instead of a sailship on the new version...
of the square label: 'White Horse' instead
of 'Port Ellen'. The post-2000 version
is great malt, but the older, 'White Horse'
one was even better - an absolute winner!
Check the shops in the small towns, especially
the very dusty bottles...
I've got a crush on 20 yo singer Nellie
McKay. She mixes cabaret
singing, pop and jazz with much happiness
and joy - not to mention her freshness.
Check this great video
for instance, where she sings her 'Dog
Song' at the Letterman's show. The live
audio recordings on her official website
are of poor quality, though. You'd better
listen to her live
at NPR show. Absolutely brilliant! Her
last CD 'Get Away From Me' is stunning,
and my favourite tracks are 'David', 'Manhattan
Avenue', 'Ding Dong' and 'Really'. A must
- VARIOUS DRAMS I HAD RECENTLY
- in Reims with my friend Paul...
21 yo 1982/2003 Master Reserve (43%, OB)
Tasted at Les
Crayères, Reims, France. The
colour is light Cognac, and the nose is
very smooth and sweetish. Nice hints of
sweet sherry, honey and vanilla. Very
enjoyable. The palate is smooth and quite
aromatic. Notes of fruit (dried banana,
dried pear) and nice hints of eucalyptus.
The finish is shorter than expected, though.
In short, this one really is an improvement,
compared to the regular Knockhandos. Very
enjoyable, but not for the malt aficionados.
A perfect beginner’s malt! 80
11 yo 1990/2001 (46%, Murray McDavid,
Bourbon, October 2001 bottling)
Tasted at Les Crayères. Very light
colour, but punchy nose, quite clean and
somewhat austere, well in the Murmac style.
Lots of liquorice and freshly cut wood,
and some grassy notes as well. Long and
powerful finish. This one really is an
anti-OB, and if compared to the 12 yo
OB, nobody would say both come from the
same distillery. 81 points.
(42%, OB, Single malt, Champagne, France)
Tasted at La Cave d’Erlon in Reims,
a nice wine and liquor shop which offers
more than 400 malts for sale. The shopkeepers
are very friendly, but when I asked for
a dram of the Guillon, they seemed quite
embarrassed. Was it because they knew
the malt maniacs before, and because they
feared the Guillon wouldn’t match
our usual expectations? Hum, let’s
check! Right in the heart of the Champagne
region, near Epernay, Guillon distil some
locally grown barley in some little water
bath stills, which should be good news…
The colour is dark straw, and the nose
is quite pleasing. Not quite ‘whiskyish’,
for sure, but it seems quite mature. But
then, some odd ‘old wood’
notes appear, like if the casks they use
aren’t that ‘clean’.
Hints of Calavados, overripe apple, dusty.
The first mouthfeel is quite ‘frank’,
but suddenly everything falls apart. Watery,
dusty, with just a few notes of cheap
rum. Not good at all, and several heavy
flaws that prevents me from rating it
over 50 points. The next batches are said
to be much better, but for this first
one, I feel 30 points
will do. Who said the French are chauvinistic?
Another great dicovery: Andrew
Vavrek. This guy seems to
be completely 'off-circuit' with his early-Pink
Floydish melodies. What's more, most of
his tracks are downloable for free on
his website! With titles like 'Peace
on Earth', 'Sunlight'
Life', which are my favourites, one
can neither help thinking about John Lennon...
And look at Andrew's picture above, doesn't
he look very 'Woodstockish'? Yes, the
good old days... very refreshing!
(AND CHAMPAGNE) -
We just had a good Champagne session with
our wine tasting club, the ‘Suf
Club’. We had 10 different versions,
and here’s the podium, for your
1. Veuve Clicquot ‘La Grande Dame’
2. Salon 1988 (Le Mesnil)
3. Bollinger Special Cuvée (core
range – wow!)
4. Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1996
After this very interesting session which
proved us, once again, that the big brands
‘usually’ make the best Champagne,
provided you choose the high-end cuvées,
Olivier, who’s also a member of
the 'Suf Club' – no wonder –
poured me a very good malt he just bought
Garioch 18 yo 1978/1997 (59.4%,
OB, cask vatting) Its
colour is deep gold, and the first nosing
is very powerful. Coffee, sherry, orange
peel – gets a little spirity (pear
drops). The mouth is quite pungent: spirity,
with lots of coffee, ginger, crème
brulée, and some very nice peat.
Too hot, though, and it really needed
quite a lot of water and a few minutes
before it became really enjoyable. Then
it developed a lot further, with a great
finish. 85 points.
- GO FOR LINLITHGOW?
1975/1999 (56.3%, Scott’s Selection)
I bought this one last time I visited
the Basel airport’s duty free shop,
in February. They had several Scott’s
Selection bottlings at 20% off, so I could
buy a Glenrothes 1975 and this Linlithgow.
The latter was soon to fill my hipflask,
so that I could have a sip whenever I
was in the mood for it during my trip
to Istanbul. To be honest, it didn’t
impress me while I was visiting Hagya
Sophia or sailing the Bosphorus, but now’s
the time to taste it more properly. I
mean, in a glass… Its colour is
straw with green highlights, and the nose
is quite mellow at first. Quite woody,
with some winey notes – fino, for
sure. Liquorice, freshly cut grass, honey,
cold coffee. Gets a little sourish. Good,
but somehow ‘dirty’, lacks
precision. The palate is much more powerful
than the nose. After the first sour sherry
notes, a lot of wood and some fruity notes
arise (strawberry). A lot of liquorice
stick and burnt milk as well. Then it
gets really bitter, and the wood grows
bigger and bigger. Long, but bitter finish.
This one is too woody for my taste, I’m
afraid. The sort of feeling that makes
you think ‘I’d really like
another dram… of another malt’.
And even if I paid less than 80 euros
for it, it’s far from having been
a bargain. Especially deceptive when compared
to the superb Old Malt Cask we had for
Maniacs Awards 2003. My rating: 79
This magnificent 1974 Ducati Scrambler
450 is for sale in Basel, Switzerland.
It's like new, and despite the fact that
it hardly crosses the 130kph barrier,
it's most enjoyable to ride. I have a
soft spot for old Ducatis, and as my Pantah
500 just burned - yes, sad but true -
I'm currently counting what's remaining
in my wallet... Perhaps I'll be able to
write a full article about it in the near
future. Cross fingers!
- SIX STOLEN SAMPLES -
While I was packing a bunch of samples
from Olivier for Johannes, I found out
that I had never tasted six of them before.
So I decided to ‘steal’ 1
or 2 cl from each mini-bottle. Steal?
Not really, I decided that would be the
price for my time and the packing material.
Fair enough, don’t you think?
1973 (40%, G&M Connoisseurs Choice)
Nice golden colour. The nose is light
and quite perfumy, with some orange, bread,
and lilac, and a lot of beeswax (hive).
Very refined and elegant. The mouth is
a little watery at first, but then it
develops on some nice wood, violet sweets,
clove, crystallized orange and vanilla
fudge. Very, very nice, even if the finish
is a little short and weak. This one would
have been an aboslute winner if bottled
at 46 or 50%! 87 points.
yo 1979 (43%, OB, <2000)
Colour: straw. Nose: overcooked coffee,
hot milk, corn syrup. Yes, a breakfast
malt! Whiffs of smoke. Gets more and more
buttery.Mouth: starts a little weak. Weird
tastes: cardboard, burnt bread, ginger
tonic. Gets bitter and quite woody –
not in a nice way. Short finish, gets
really watery. Not my cup of tea, that’s
for sure. And where’s the peat?
Jura 21 yo (40%,
OB, circa 2000) Light
amber colour. The nose starts nutty and
malty, with some roasted peanut and a
whiff of smoke. Hints of ripe pear and
eucalyptus. Very nice nose, quite fresh.
The mouth is nicely balanced and fresh,
but then it gets a little too woody. Notes
of cappuccino and apple pie. Medium finish,
nicely balanced. 85 points.
11 yo (58%,
Vom Fass Cask Strength)
Colour: straw. The nose is powerful and
quite fresh at first, but then it gets
very spirity (pear drops) and quite woody.
Gets even a little sour (cider). The mouth
is very strong, spirity, even pungent.
Very grainy, with notes of pineapple.
Long finish, but getting too woody and
spirity for my taste. 78 points.
26 yo (40%,
Vom Fass) Colour: straw.
Woody nose, with some lavender and apple.
Quite nice but not very special. The mouth
is very balanced, with some nice wood,
tropical fruit (mango) and hints of liquorice.
A little weak, though. Medium finish,
quite balanced but it lacks a little power.
35 yo 1966/2001 (40.5%,
Douglas Laing OMC, 228bt)
Colour: golden. Nose: ouch, lots of wood,
varnish, tannins and hints of eucalyptus.
Could be some wood juice! Mouth: again
a lot of wood, ‘plank’, tannins
and a little vanilla. Gets thinner and
thinner, dry and bitter. Not enjoyable
at all. Finish: medium, getting even more
weak and bitter at the same time. But
why did they bottle this dull malt? Oh
yeah, because it’s 35 yo , I guess.
Now I understand why Olivier never let
me taste it ;-). 70 points.
The Malt Maniacs Malt Monitor
has grown up to approx 2,200 different
malts rated - and lists now more than
5,000 ratings! Check
the full monty version. As for the Big
Brora Barnum, many new tasting notes have
been added recently, and some more details
about some new releases as well
- AWESOME SESSION - A FEW 'NORTHEASTENDERS'
time again, we all brought two bottles
each, and Christophe, our host, poured
us a few drams as an aperitif. ‘Alliance’,
a very good blend by Michel Couvreur,
an Armagnac 1940, which isn’t particularly
suited to an aperitif but we wanted to
check something about the wood’s
influence, and finally two new Caol Ilas
by Signatory Vintage. Both were distilled
at the same time, but one was ‘plain
and pure’, and the other one finished
in a Port cask. Until quite recently,
I always thought this finishing trick
was nonsense. But I finally happened to
taste some Laphroaig Portwood by Signatory
that was quite good, so yes, sometimes
it works. I said sometimes. But let’s
check whether it worked with this batch
of Caol Ila…
12 yo 1991/2003 (43%,
Signatory, c. #14170-14173, 789 b.)
Quite fresh and clean peat, a little mono-dimensional,
as often with Caol Ila. SV
12 yo 1991/2003 (46%,
Signatory Unch, Port Wood finish, c. #02/920/2,
1079 bottles.) Very sweet,
the port masks the distillery’s
character. Not much peat, that’s
for sure. The ‘plain’ version
is really better. SV 79,
Time to kick off the ‘official’
part of our session now. I had two bottles
of Old Clynelish 12 yo OB on my shelves,
both bottled by Ainslie & Heilbron
in the ’60’s for Italy. One
was quite light in colour (importer Edward
& Edward), the other one much darker
(importer Di Chiano). I decided to bring
the lighter one which happens to be a
cask strength version. Frankly, I didn’t
know what to expect. Was it going to be
as good as a Brora, provided it was the
same distillery? Let’s check this
out right now…
12 yo (56.9%,
OB, Ainslie & Heilbron for Edward
& Edward Italy, pre-Brora, bottled
60's) Colour: straw. Nose:
wow! Very fresh, which is great news considering
the forty years the malt spent in its
bottle. Very ‘maritime’, seaweed,
overripe apple, heather, aniseed. Magnificent
freshness! Then I get some fruit (fresh
melon, fresh fig). Develops on strong
coffee. Again, wow! Mouth: bold and powerful,
with some nice hints of peat. Not like
a Brora, sure, but neither like a ‘new’
Clynelish. Notes of fern, pepper, fresh
fruit (rhubarb). Quite malty and grassy,
then gets a little dry. Long grassy and
peppery finish.What a fabulous whisky,
not for little boys, though. I guess the
peat’n’sherry freaks will
not like it that much, but what’s
most interesting is that we’ve got
another evidence of the fact that whisky
does not deteriorate in its bottle, even
with a cheap screw cap. Moreover, I really
think it gets better, actually. Just like
good wine! All the ‘old’ bottles
we had recently proved that: several old
Bowmores, Glen Garioches, Springbanks,
Lochsides… and now this ‘Old’
Clynelish… Good news for our reserve
stocks! Anyway, here are our ratings for
the Clynelish: SV 93, OH 96.
Okay, perhaps we got a little too emotional
here, I admit it… Anyway, let’s
go on with our session…
12 yo (40%,
OB, 2003) I already had
this one, which comes in a new square
bottle, and I liked it (80 points). Its
colour is amber (heavy caramel) but the
nose is quite fresh and enjoyable. Toffee,
orange zest, hints of peat and Grand-Marnier.
Gets a little woody.The mouth is a little
too rounded and caramelised. A tad too
woody as well. Some funny meaty notes.
The finish is medium long. Interesting,
a good middle-of-the-road malt, but it’s
a little too expensive (45 euros) I’ll
stick to my 80 points,
and so does Olivier.
22 yo 1970 (45%,
OB, Stillman's Dram) This
one is a single grain. We just had a fantastic
old one from the Peerless range at Whisky
Live, so we’re very curious about
this OB, which was bottled ten years ago
or so.Nice nose, marked by some great
woody notes. Lots of vanilla, grass and
lavender. Too bad, the mouth is weak with
notes of Coca Cola, caramel and wood.
Hint of lemon. But the finish is surprisingly
long! In short, a nice single grain. Nice
nose, deceptive on the palate… a
well known song. SV 80, OH, 81.
Ord 11 yo
1985/1996 (57%, Cadenhead Auth Coll)
Nose: great freshness, with some wonderful
grassy notes. The mouth is bold and powerful,
with lots of liquorice. Notes of vegetables:
celery, dill, French beans. Long finish.
It’s fresh and quite special, and
we like it a lot! SV 86, OH 88.
1986/2001 (46%, OB, Limited Edition)
This one came in a fabric bag. Its colour
is golden, and its nose shows some strong
aniseed, celery, salsify and bitter orange.
Again, quite special. Its mouth is marked
by some heavy liquorice and wood, with
some lavender, violet sweets and caramel.
Hints of dried banana. Great balance.
Not a winner, for sure, but its quite
enjoyable. SV 85, OH 84.
1989 (46%, OB, Circa 2003)
Another one I already had in Paris, and
I rated it 80 points. Let’s check
whether this rating stands… The
colour is light amber, and the nose is
a little vulgar. I get some varnish and
beeswax. A little slack.The mouth is quite
bold, powerful and very caramelised. Toffeeish
and grassy, with a medium long finish.
Again, a little vulgar. Our ratings: SV
77, OH 80.
1973/1998 (53%, G&M 'OB')
This comes from the series with the old
fashioned orange-pink label. The malt’s
colour is Cognac, and the nose is heavily
sherried. Toffee, wax, varnish, and some
fresh fruity notes (orange, ginger, Grand-Marnier).
Quite nice! The mouth is bold and quite
rich. Lots of sherry, crystallized orange,
toffee, burnt cake. Gets very woody –
perhaps too woody. Very long finish, bold
and rich. A genuine sherry monster that
lacks a little complexity. SV
83, OH 85.
1969 (56.2%, OB Highland Selection, sherry
butt #4195, circa 1998)
Another sherry monster, for sure…
Deep Cognac colour. The nose is much more
refined than the Balblair’s. Heavy
sherry, eucalyptus, wood polish, varnish
and cooked fruit. Very nice! Bold, rich
and powerful mouth, gets dry, with lots
of bitter chocolate notes. Van Houten,
anyone? The finish is a little unbalanced
and really dry. SV 85, OH 88.
30 yo 1966/1996 (52.3%, The Bottlers,
cask #6871) Another one
I already had with the Maniacs in Colmar,
and which I liked a lot (90 points). Its
colour is pure gold, and its nose is very
classy, especially when compared to the
two sherry monsters we just had. Lots
of tropical fruit (passion fruit, melon,
tangerine, orange) and milk chocolate.
Slightly minty. The mouth is very bold
and powerful, just a little rough. Lots
of mint, pepper and bitter orange. Long
finish, getting even dryer and bitter.
I’ll stick to 90 points,
even if I could have downrated
it a bit. Olivier gives it 88
- Fellow maniac Johannes
is still busy with his Dramsterdam Marathon.
He just published some interesting notes
about a few Bunnies
and Laddies. Tell me about a playboy!
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