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Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2020 - Part 1

       

March 2020 - part 2 <--- April 2020 - part 1 ---> April 2020 - part 2

 

April 14, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
1.5 times Chicihibu

I’m saying that because one’s actually a blended malt…

Ichiro’s Malt ‘Double Distilleries’ (61.3%, OB, Whisky Rising, Japanese blended malt, vatted at Chichibu, 2018)

Ichiro’s Malt ‘Double Distilleries’ (61.3%, OB, Whisky Rising, Japanese blended malt, vatted at Chichibu, 2018) Four stars and a half
So, this is meant to be a vatting of Chichibu and some of the last drops of Hanyu. It was selected by Stefan Van Eycken and our good friend Hideo Yamaoka. Not that Stefan isn’t our friend min you. As for the proportions, it’s all written in Japanese anyway, so I couldn’t tell you. Let’s say ‘certain proportions’ (well done, Einstein). Colour: gold. Nose: probably young Hanyu, because this is as fresh as a baby’s mouth, yet rather wood-driven but not in  bad way at all. A walk in the woods, some custard for sure, béchamel sauce, some cardamom and nutmeg, mint and camphor, pine needles and caraway, cloves and orange peel… It takes its time but it’s really becoming complex over time. With water: nicely medicinal, but not any more complex. Not sure it needed water… on the nose! Mouth (neat): extremely powerful, sappy, resinous, citrusy, peely, pretty sharp but full of promises… With water: exactly the opposite of what happened on the nose, this time water makes it super fresh, on tangerines, touch of brine, a light smokiness perhaps, olives, raw zucchini, and actually more than a touch of brine. Finish: long, fresh, on all kinds of raw vegetable ad some perfect citrus. Comments: very lovely indeed. Careful with your pipette, as always with these very strong whiskies, it’s never easy to bring them down properly.
SGP:463 - 89 points.

Chichibu 2011/2019 (59.2%, OB for the Whisky Exchange, 20th Anniversary, Coedonado beer cask, cask #3301, 224 bottles)

Chichibu 2011/2019 (59.2%, OB for the Whisky Exchange, 20th Anniversary, Coedonado beer cask, cask #3301, 224 bottles) Three stars
I shan’t try to find out about that ‘Coedonado’ beer. We do love mysteries here… Colour: deep gold. Nose: I don’t know. Imagine that someone would have poured a drop of crème de menthe into a glass of Mackeson Stout, shaken the stuff (taken the foam away and) then mixed the result with Fanta, 50/50. It’s very bizarre, but not unpleasant at all. A lot of chocolate too! With water: ginseng all over the place! And other stuff that we’ve never ever found in any whiskies, all around the idea of… fermentation. Manure? Mouth (neat): right, Colgate’s best, cocoa powder, cranberry juice, more stout, and smaller sour notes. Young Munster cheese, chitterlings, and even more stout. And more Fanta. I’m really not sure, this beverage is highly unusual, incredibly unlikely, and just pretty challenging to me. With water: funny. Pink pepper, regular pepper, pomegranate juice, raw chocolate, a drop of soy sauce, some plaster, whacky sausages… Wild boar charcuterie? What a… a thing! Finish: spices this time, none known to man. And salted orange juice, whicj, in itself, is pretty challenging already. Comments: there, a new concept: abstract whisky. How do you score this? More or less at random…
SGP:462 - 80 points.

Right… Looks like some measures have to be taken.

Chichibu 10 yo 2008/2019 (59.9%, OB, TMC 10th Anniversary, bourbon barrel)

Chichibu 10 yo 2008/2019 (59.9%, OB, TMC 10th Anniversary, bourbon barrel) Five stars
As the back label of this rather mysterious bottle reminds us, 2008 was Chichibu’s very first year. Colour: gold. Nose: what we love in a fairly young malt whisky, that it to say barley, brioche dough, porridge, custard, very fresh baguette and a touch of cappuccino, all that in perfect sync. We do not need more, adding flavours from the outside would only be… superfluous in this case. With water: touches of tiny herbs, white asparagus (they have arrived!) broken branches, some fresh earth, a little humus… Mouth (neat): pungent at this strength, a tad buttery (not butyric), with some freshish oak that the humble taster still needs to tame… with water, I guess. With water: indeed. Lovely citrusy/herbal combination now, I cannot not think of Japanese green tea – but sadly, I do not know much about those. Have to do my homework! Finish: long, fresh, clean, on barley, citrons and muesli. Touches of orange peel in the aftertaste. Comments: when the distillate’s superb, the all-natural ones always destroy the ‘painted ones’ in my book. But that’s only  me.
SGP:461 - 90 points.

(Hideo, gracias!)

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

 

April 13, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
More whiskies with no name

Sounds a bit like a Neil Young song, no? Or by the band America?

Uisge Teine 12 yo 2007/2019 (53.5%, Svenska Eldvatten, blended Scotch, bourbon barrel, cask #SE110, 253 bottles, 2019)

Uisge Teine 12 yo 2007/2019 (53.5%, Svenska Eldvatten, blended Scotch, bourbon barrel, cask #SE110, 253 bottles, 2019) Three stars
A vintage single cask blend, that’s interesting. Let’s see if we find a lot of grain whisky… Colour: white wine. Nose: I do find some grain whisky indeed, with these whiffs of varnish, popcorn and coconut water, but that could be some light malt as well. Then apple pie, tarte tatin, raw barley, and notes of ale. With water: more malt, more natural vanilla, brioche, a wee touch of aniseed… I have to say I like it more now. Mouth (neat): typical, once again. Cappuccino, café latte, jelly babies, marshmallows and cereals. Buttered popcorn and wafers. With water: and once again water really enhances it, even if that wouldn’t totally change the style. Butterscotch, carrot cake. Finish: somewhat long, with a little chocolate and coffee liqueur (Kahlua) as well as a feeling of having had sucked an orange drop. Comments: easy and firm at the same time. Very good for a blend.
SGP:631 - 82 points.

Uisge Teine 16 yo 2003/2019 (56.2%, Svenska Eldvatten, blended Scotch, hogshead, cask #SE109, 196 bottles, 2019)

Uisge Teine 16 yo 2003/2019 (56.2%, Svenska Eldvatten, blended Scotch, hogshead, cask #SE109, 196 bottles, 2019) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: a rougher, wilder style, with more smoke, earth, stone and a rather unusual combination, between lapsang souchong and pine-y essential oils. Some lovely umami-y touches as well, that always works. Also strawberry yogurt and , well even more lapsang souchong. Did anybody use juniper wood at some point? With water: gets straighter, more mineral. Lovely nose, a bit old-school now. Mouth (neat): yep! Once again a feeling of green smoke, juniper wood, thuja, smoked tea, caraway, an a good maltiness behind that. Someone must have had some fun composing this blend. With water: very good indeed. More fruits this time, peaches, papayas… While it got just a wee tad thinner. Finish: medium, creamy, with more oranges. No complains then. Comments: super well done!
SGP:543 - 85 points.

Highland Malt 32 yo 1987/2019 (49.9%, Maltbarn, 159 bottles)

Highland Malt 32 yo 1987/2019 (49.9%, Maltbarn, 159 bottles) Four stars and a half
Don’t you think it is a little sad that these excellent bottlers just couldn’t tell you about the origins of this (most probably) excellent thirty-two years old malt whisky? Colour: stunning gold. Nose: honeys, marmalades, and touches of limestone and flints. Then dried figs, beeswax, maple syrup, pine needles, drop of miso and Bovril, and just a few drops of amontillado. Not even sure this is a sherry cask – well it sure should be. Mouth: very tense, rich, with a green/bitter side that balances the dried fruits, raisins, figs… As if someone would have added a drop of Chartreuse to a classic Macallan. Finish: rather long, with a tiny spoonful of cold-brewed mocha poured in. A little leather in the aftertaste. Comments: as long as they’ve got ages and vintages, we’re fine. Imagine one day post-Covid, no name, no age, no vintage, they’ll call their whiskies ‘Blah’. Seriously, I believe it’s the opposite that’ll happen, back to loyal behaviours! Oh and Maltbarn, this was excellent.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

Elements of Islay ‘Peat & Sherry’ (56.8%, The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, Islay blended malt, 2019)

Elements of Islay ‘Peat & Sherry’ (56.8%, The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, Islay blended malt, 2019) Four stars
Hush hush, we’re late once again… Colour: deep gold. Nose: It’s not because I’ve mentioned lapsang souchong only a few minutes ago, but this really reeks of lapsang souchong, with a few lotus flowers and peonies thrown in. Some kind of tea, really. Absolutely not your average Islayer, this is very modern, it’s even got echoes of Dutch-hipster geneever. With water: crème de menthe, more lapsang, sauna oils, dried figs. Mouth (neat): modern. Marmalade, juniper, lapsang, strawberry jam, Korean smoked oysters (not making this up, I promise), some caramel, Cointreau… Maybe was this made in a secret lab somewhere in London? At Bimber’s? With water: very good, I’m afraid. Some aspects even remind me of Lost Spirits’ best works over there in Donaldland. Finish: long. Comments: desperately modern and disappointingly excellent. I’m still calling this a guilty pleasure, but I’m sure that’s more or less just me. Old Catholics, you know…
SGP:566 - 87 points.

Port Askaig 12 yo (47.8%, Elixir Distillers, 2020)

Port Askaig 12 yo (47.8%, Elixir Distillers, 2020) Four stars and a half
Still Caol Ila? Colour: white wine. Nose: you bet. Lime, crabs, oysters, seawater, ashes, sheep wool, tangerines. Let’s keep this short and sweet, if you agree. Mouth: I’ve always thought that Cao Ila was proof that large and almost ‘industrial’ facilities (no it’s not the settings that would make a production site more or less industrial) can make perfect malt whisky. With even a feeling of terroir, which takes the biscuit since the barley comes from all over the world whilst the new make leaves the island in tankers as soon as it’s been distilled. And yet, this is just a perfect whisky with a true ‘feeling of the place’. Go figure. Finish: tangerines and oysters. Have to try that one day – sounds like a perfect lockdown occupation, no? Now go find oysters in Mitteleuropa these days… I think we’ll go for a bottle of the new Port Askaig 12 instead! Comments: just impeccably zesty.
SGP:556 - 88 points.

Speaking of Port Askaig…

Port Askaig 18 yo (50.8%, Elixir Distillers, for USA, 2020)

Port Askaig 18 yo (50.8%, Elixir Distillers, for USA, 2020) Four stars and a half
This is a single cask. Early 2000s distillate, perfect, that’s when the Malt Maniacs visited and tried all the buttons in the control room while no one was watching. Colour: straw. Nose: but of course, olive brine, diesel oil, oysters, newspapers of the day, ashes, seawater. This is pristine, Christine. With water: wool, old jacket, fisherman’s nests, hessian, stuff like that. Mouth (neat): rather rounder than others, but full, rather jammy, with quite a lot of marmalade, some kind of smoky Turkish delight, a feeling of cask-strength margarita, and this lovely saltiness that just always works. But where the heavens does it come from? Only specific molecules that trigger saltiness on our palate? I never bought that theory. With water: still sweeter and fruitier. Finish: medium, on Jaffa cakes and marzipan. Comments: a rather rounder CI – if it’s well CI – but quality’s very high. Naturally. Hope no one ever going to requisition these…
SGP:644- 88 points.

I think another anonymous peater would be in Ordnung before we close the doors for today… Indeed peat makes you speak German, ever noticed that?

Smoking Islay (58.5%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, blended malt, The Spirit of Legend, cask #2018-05, oloroso finish, 345 bottles, 2018)

Smoking Islay (58.5%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, blended malt, The Spirit of Legend, cask #2018-05, oloroso finish, 345 bottles, 2018) Four stars
Sure it’s a finish, but I’m sure this will be okay. Colour: gold. Nose: it was light, nutty oloroso, which also imparted touches of Maggi and gunpowder. In moderation, that gunpowder. Other than that, smoke, seawater, iron, seashells, and asparagus velouté. And walnut wine. With water: fumes, old garage, struck matches and, err, plain s……. Mouth (neat): ooh, this is powerful! In a way it’s the opposite of Elixir’s Peat & Sherry, which seemed to be composed with maximum care and even reflexion, while this one’s just raw, rebellious, and boisterous. With water: oranges will save the world! They sure saved quite a few whiskies already. Marmalade aplenty. Finish: long, a tad leathery, marmalade-y, smoky. Comments: just wild and very good. Get your silver hipflask ready.
SGP:555 - 85 points.

Please stay healthy and sharp.

 

April 12, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Another consequence of Covid 19

My dear wife decided to clean and tidy up the whole house while we’re in isolation, making use of strategies and tactics that even Sun Tzu, Moltke and Machiavelli would have found extremely cunning (knowing that the real enemy who’s been put to fight was… this peaceful taster, naturally). One of the targets, so to speak, has been my old spirit cabinet (call that a bar if you like), a place where I’ve always been storing those bottles which I knew I would never drink, let alone finish. Here’s just two or four examples of what General Sun Tz… I mean my dear wife found in the back of that rather dusty old cabinet.

La Ferme de Gagnet 1984/2001 (44%, OB, Armagnac)

La Ferme de Gagnet 1984/2001 (44%, OB, Armagnac) Three stars and a half
So an old bottle I was having in the back of the back of the bar and that I had completely forgotten about. Not too sure there’s anything to be expected here, but at least this is a real winegrower making his own Armagnac (and foie gras s’il-vous-plaît). They’re located in Mezin, in the Lot-et-Garonne, so not really a grand-cru location. Or is it Ténarèze? Colour: amber with red hues. Nose: typically rustic Armagnac, rather on chocolate, coffee and prunes, then with some black pipe tobacco and certainly some earth. Dunnage, old winery, sultanas, foie gras. No, not foie gras naturellement. Mouth: it’s good! Sure the higher ABV helped a lot along those almost twenty years in the traditional flat bottle called a ‘basquaise’ (smart people rather call them tennis rackets) but the fruitiness is well there, and so are the earths and the coffee. It’s very coffee-y actually, chocolaty as well, and, well, good. 1984 was not a good vintage in the south-west of France, but they got away with it.  Finish: rather long, and all on some short espresso. Almost ristretto! Comments: a good surprise, absolutely. It’s also true that these rustic brandies are growing on you. But will authenticity and provenance actually be proper post-covid values? That’s what people say, which means that that shouldn’t happen, sadly. Anyway, very good Armagnac, sadly hard to find. But pst, Hors d’Âge, 52€, XO 42€, VSOP 34€.
SGP:462 - 83 points.

La Ribaude ‘Hors d’Âge’ (42%, Distillerie du Houley, Calvados Pays d’Auge, +/-2005)

La Ribaude ‘Hors d’Âge’ (42%, Distillerie du Houley, Calvados Pays d’Auge, +/-2005)
Another old bottle from the back of the cabinet. No expectations, and I’m not a Calvados freak (but I adore cider!) Colour: deep gold. Nose: cider, overripe apples, touches of vanilla, hints of apple peel. That’s pretty all, I wouldn’t call this calva Mr Complex. Mouth: very rustic, gritty, a tad bitter, a little sour, and getting frankly a little unpleasant while avalanche of peelings show up. Finish: long and a little too bitter. Comments: not exactly the best use of apples and pears, I would say. But it’s still drinkable, although our ancestors would have just poured it into their coffee without blinking an eye. By the way, a ribaude in old French is a kind of… lady lecher. Strange name.
SGP:561 - 55 points.

J. Verrier ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Calvados Pays d’Auge, +/-2005)

J. Verrier ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Calvados Pays d’Auge, +/-2005) Two stars
Same story here. The cabinet is large and poorly lit. By the way Pays D’auge is one of the main regions in Calvados, it’s located right between the cities of Caen and Rouen. Never drank this much calvados in my own life by the way! Colour: gold. Nose: similar to the previous one, just a tad smoother and rounder, perhaps a tad fruitier. Rather nicer in fact. Mouth: fine, easy, more perfumed, on apples and pears, touches of oranges perhaps, a very wee cologne-y side (roses?) and the expected light vanilla. Not too bad. Finish: a little short, and a tad sweetened-up. Not sure that’s natural. Comments: it’s okay, but I’m sure I won’t remember it… tomorrow. Perhaps even tonight. Remember what?
SGP:641 - 70 points.

The Armagnac just killed the calvas, it seems.

Daumas Gassac (40%, OB, Fine du Languedoc, +/-2010)

Daumas Gassac (40%, OB, Fine du Languedoc, +/-2010)
Daumas Gassac is a very famous estate in Languedoc, they’ve been real pioneers and almost singlehandedly enhanced the reputation of Languedoc while the wines of that region were previously seen as… pure rotguts. It’s interesting to try this little fine (distilled wine, as cognac is). The estate uses many different grape varietals, some very esoteric, but I just don’t know what they use for their little fine.   Colour: pale gold. Nose: we’re pretty much in cognac territories, with white and yellow fruits (peaches) and a blend of rubbers and grasses that would not impair it. Cherries and almonds. A fine fine (don’t tell me you’re proud of that one, S.) Mouth: the vanilla-y oak shows a bit too much here, and I’m not sure heavy coconut and butterscotch really fit a nice brandy. What’s okay with malt whisky is often terrible with fines and marcs. Finish: medium, too leafy. Comments: they clearly screw it up. Oak can be any aged spirit’s best friend… or its worst enemy. I wouldn’t have used the brand name ‘Daumas Gassac’ here.  Perhaps Simone? Or Elizabeth? Georges or George? Marcel? Paul? Gunther? Donald? Boris? ‘Donald & Boris’, that would have style!
SGP:361 - 50 points.

Frapin ‘V.S..P. Cuvée Rare’ (40%, OB, Cognac Grande Champagne, +/-2010)

Frapin ‘V.S..P. Cuvée Rare’ (40%, OB, Cognac Grande Champagne, +/-2010) Two stars
In Cognac too ‘rare’ usually means ‘pretty common’. Colour: amber. Nose: very rounded, jammy, soft, with quite some caramel and corn syrup. A very discreet tarry touch, and a general feeling of Georgian or Armenian brandy. Not unpleasant but rather undemanding so far. Mouth: good, with some honey, toasted bread, roasted nuts, some tea, apricot jam, and rather a lot of caramel I’m afraid, getting a little bitter. Finish: medium, a little bitter and tea-ish. Burnt caramel. Comments: I’m rather disappointed with this oldish bottle; some Cognac that’s exactly the opposite of a proper malternative, if you ask me. I believe it’s the vintage versions that one should look for at Frapin’s.
SGP:461 - 76 points.

There were many other bottles, of course, but I think I’ll spare you those. Including Vietnamese ‘whisky’ with some kind of snake inside , something that’s supposed to cure just everything. But you never know, if I ever catch Covid 19, I may well…

 

April 11, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
The Millie and Coco Lockdown session
Who are Millie and Coco I hear you ask? Well, they’re Whiskyfun’s Scottish mousers, based here at the ‘Loch Fyne Office’. Today we’ll do a quick Glenrothes session but Millie and Coco will select the running order and we’ll see which one is victorious at the end.

 

cats

 
Coco on the left and Millie on the right. First choice is from Millie…

 

 

 

 

Glenrothes 1988/2004 (53.5%, James MacArthur ‘Old Masters’, cask #7022)

Glenrothes 1988/2004 (53.5%, James MacArthur ‘Old Masters’, cask #7022)
Colour: bright gold. Nose: slightly dusty, sharp and strangely ‘yogurty’. A funny mix of putty, sandalwood and then foam strawberry sweeties. Indeed, the whole profile shifts rather more towards sugary sweetness and some nicely honeyed qualities. With water: bracken, damp sawdust, crushed cream crackers, plain oatcakes and a bit of soggy cardboard. Mouth: ouch! Extremely hot and sharp. And then… oh God, Millie! What are you doing to me? Soap suds, Fairy liquid, bath water and these kind of cheap ‘perfumed’ wood chunks you buy in naff Scottish tourist shops. Not great. With water: still strangely hot and very aggressive. Hot molten plastic, burnt polystyrene, acetone and more rather nasty soapiness. Finish: disappears mercifully fast but leaves behind this aftertaste riddled with floral soaps and hot plasticine. Comments: It’s said by people that have studied these kinds of things that our cats would gladly kill and eat us were it not for the issue of size difference. I think it’s fairly evident that Millie is one of the Cat scientists working covertly to overcome the conundrum of scale. This was not good.
SGP: 531 - 57 points.

 

 

Over to Coco. He doesn’t have the same streak of immutable evil that Millie possesses so I feel things can only improve…

 

 

Glenrothes 21 yo 1997/2019 (57.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #30.106 ‘Succulent, scintillating, substantial’, 2nd fill PX cask, 681 bottles)

Glenrothes 21 yo 1997/2019 (57.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #30.106 ‘Succulent, scintillating, substantial’, 2nd fill PX cask, 681 bottles)
Most likely a re-rack into 2nd fill PX, but the Society tend to leave their finishings for a good length of time so let’s see what we’ve got here… Colour: amber. Nose: there’s this unmistakable stickiness from the PX which suggests a more modern style of seasoned cask. Rather jammy, hot, sticky and slightly sawdusty. Showing some nice notes of prune jam, some boozy dark fruit cake, marzipan and affogato. This slightly dusty sharpness of active wood remains present underneath the fruitier top notes. With water: much nicer! Soft, damp earthiness, milk chocolate, leafy pipe tobacco notes, pine resin, leaf mulch and mushroom powder. Works very nicely with H2o. Mouth: hot, sooty, slightly muddy and showing notes of pencil erasers, boot polish, red liquorice, game meats, raspberry cordial and hessian. Not 100% convinced by the integration of the sherry here. Some black tea tannins, mustard powder and paprika giving a little chilli heat. With water: again there’s a rather softer side developing now, earthiness, chocolate Brazil nuts, stem ginger in syrup and more of these unctuous, gamey qualities. Still some slight rubbery notes. Finish: medium, rather gingery, warming, prickly with red chilli and paprika and more of these meaty notes with some bitter chocolate powder. Comments: Water is obligatory here I would say. Although, you can’t shake this feeling that the cask used for re-racking displays a few too many of these more problematic, modern seasoned sherry cask qualities: sawdust, jam, heat, rubber etc. Something of a mixed bag.
SGP: 561 - 78 points.

 

 

Millie’s turn again and she’s playing it safe this time…

 

 

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 22 yo 1996/2019 (50.1%, Cadenhead Small Batch, three bourbon hogsheads, 942 bottles)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 22 yo 1996/2019 (50.1%, Cadenhead Small Batch, three bourbon hogsheads, 942 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: there are these expected notes of pollens, yellow flowers and honey but it comes with a degree of restraint and a slightly austere side as well. Some notes of chalk, baking soda and crushed greenery. Geraniums in a potting shed etc. All very attractive and elegantly balanced. We’re comfortably in ‘Glen Safe’ territories here, but then again, in such times as these, is a big comfy Speyside hug such a terrible thing? With water: evolves towards a drier, toasty and more cereal profile. Dry toast, freshly chopped green herbs muddled with butter and some wee yellow plums. Mouth: once again this seesaw between classical, honeyed sweetness and leaner, drier, dustier aspects that bring a more chiseled, austere side. Chalky, limestone, toasted sunflower seeds, turmeric and dried wildflowers. I have to say, it’s a rather elegant and satisfying profile - if not the most obvious or easy. With water: honeyed oatmeal, canvass, dandelions, olive oil, dried sage and some very light notes of cough syrup and herbal ointments. Bitter orange and citrus pith. Finish: good length, warming but nicely dry with notes of herbal teas, citrus rinds, heather ales and some nice chalky and faintly qualities. Comments: It’s to be wondered why on earth the owners don’t issue such bottlings. It seems to me that Glenrothes is crying out for an official single cask range similar to what they did with Glendronach or Benriach. If ever there was a distillery which showed consistently better at cask strength rather than 40% or 43% it’s Glenrothes. Anyway, this was much enjoyable, loved this meandering profile between sweeter and drier aspects.
SGP: 551 - 86 points.

 

 

Coco has run for the hills it seems, but there’s only one sample left so he probably knows what he’s doing…

 

 

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 18 yo 2001/2019 (51.7%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, hogshead, 216 bottles)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 18 yo 2001/2019 (51.7%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, hogshead, 216 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: canvass, fabrics, chalk, white flowers, soft cereals, cooling wort and wee touches of putty, underripe melon and baking soda. With water: a more chiseled and pronounced cereal profile. Lots of crushed oatcakes, butter toast, seed mix and then greener notes like geraniums, river reeds and vase water. Mouth: rather dry, cereal and slightly bitter with these notes of green herbs, sharp cider apple and cooking oils. It’s nice but feels rather light and a tad ‘plain’. Some plasticine, miso and various putties and clay. With water: there must be thousands of such casks lying in Scotland’s warehouses. You just can’t escape this feeling of mild blandness here. We’re bumping up against the limitations of refill wood when your distillate isn’t the most charismatic. Finish: medium, drying, cereal and ever so slightly grassy with some more flowers and rapeseed oil. Comments: It’s all perfectly fine, but I fear we’ve moved from Glen Safe to Glen Yawn. 
SGP: 431 - 79 points.

 

 

It seems that Coco is victorious today, but not by much. Something tells me neither he nor Millie will be losing much sleep over this outcome. Not the most thrilling of sessions I have to say. It’s almost as if cats couldn’t give two meows about whisky.

 

 

 

 

April 10, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Two young Linkwood

And let’s make it a time-warping session, for more fun. Well, hopefully…

Linkwood 5 yo (43%, OB, Darma Import, 75cl, +/-1975)

Linkwood 5 yo (43%, OB, Darma Import, 75cl, +/-1975) Four stars and a half
An old five years old for Italy. It’s to be noted that Samaroli did also import this one later on, while there were also vintages versions, a bit like Glen Grant used to do. Colour: gold. Nose: many old bottlings like this one do share some common trait, especially the ‘old young ones’. And that would be a combination of soot and metal polish, which is totally the case here. Actually, this baby’s got strictly nothing to do with the rounder, richer, fruitier and, more than anything else, more floral notes that are to be found in fresher bottlings of Linkwood. Also rocks, clay, coal smoke, ham, sorrel soup and paraffin. You say Linkwood? Mouth: really huge, close to Clynelish 5, just a tad gentler and perhaps a notch maltier. But other than that, you’re having some of the thickest, most extreme manzanilla. En Rama! (unfiltered). Lustau have got such full-bodied ‘nillas – not their regular Papirusa. Anyway, a spectacular young Linkwood, very old-school. Was it still direct fired? Worm coils? Finish: long and very salty, dry, meaty, smoky, austere… It was not one of those young malts that used to be advertised as ‘lighter malt whiskies’ at all. Comments: what’ sure is that this was the old 2-still distillery, made before they built a new distillery in 1971 (which they’ve been modifying and rebuilding several times since back then). A bit like what happened at Brora/Clynelish, even more so since the old distillery was closed in 1985, just two years after they had closed Brora. Ravishing young whisky, tasting it is like driving an old Mercedes-Benz. Smells of spent oil but runs well.
SGP:364 - 89 points.

That little 'Darma' from Italy reminded me of the 900 Ducati Darmah (circa 1978) and I have to say I used to be pretty much into... oh forget!

Let’s pick an interesting sparring partner…

Linkwood 11 yo 2007/2019 (54.9%, James Eadie, Amontillado cask finish)

Linkwood 11 yo 2007/2019 (54.9%, James Eadie, Amontillado cask finish) Three stars and a half
Interesting because this one’s seen quasi-manzanilla in real life. I mean, amontillado is not manzanilla at all, but it’s much closer to manzanilla than it is to PX, is it not? (That’s totally fallacious, S.) Colour: deep gold. Nose: huge amontillado indeed – if you don’t know amontillado, just imagine a blend of fino and oloroso 60/40. Not it’s not a blend, but just to give you an idea. Oh please… Walnuts, wood dust, bitter ale, touch of mustard, autumn leaves, parsnips, celeriac, tobacco… With water: oak spices earth, gravel, old barrel, mud, new jumper (wool)… Mouth (neat): very rich, very creamy, a tad gingery and leafy, with a lot of walnuts yet again, as well as hints of turmeric. Good but not totally easy and easing. With water: this saltiness again, soups, cured ham, pepper, raw chocolate (say 85%)… Finish: rather long, bitter and rather all on dry sherry, salt, leaves and mustard. Comments: rather a fighter. We’re very close to some pretty extreme amontillados indeed.
SGP:272 - 84 points.

And perhaps a little bonus…

Linkwood 1997/2018 (57%, Or Sileis, cask # 12191, 287 bottles)

Linkwood 1997/2018 (57%, Or Sileis, cask # 12191, 287 bottles) Three stars
Do cats really know how to nose whisky? What have they put into the glass instead? A lovely picture nonetheless, cats are our friends at WF Towers! Colour: gold. Nose: it’s rather fragrant, between orange cake and ginger cookies, with a wee rubbery/raisiny side that suggests seasoned sherry wood. I would say it does need water. With water: gets greener, drier, with some asparagus, branches, roots and drops of rapeseed oil, the malt and porridge. Mouth (neat): rather pungent, with a very oily texture, a touch of chili (pizza sauce) and quite some green walnuts. With water: some oak spices indeed, orange drops, marshmallows, ale… Finish: medium, rather on candies, raisins, and more green walnuts. Spicier aftertaste. Comments: very fine, but not too characterful. I’m afraid the old 5 years old would kill them all, unless you put some of those pre-WWIIs by G&M on the table. Next time!
SGP:561 - 82 points.

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

 

April 9, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Lagavulin 10 and four times that

There’s this newish 10 for Travel Retail that came out last year (good luck with travel retail these days) and that we really have to taste, and then a very interesting sparring partner that’s just four times its age. We should do another, much larger Lagavulin session soon, but as the future isn’t what it used to be and since words tend to blow away in the wind even more than before, well, we’ll see. Today is today, and tomorrow will happen later.

Lagavulin 10 yo (43%, OB, Travel Retail, 2019)

Lagavulin 10 yo (43%, OB, Travel Retail, 2019) Four stars and a half
They’re using amalgamated cork here, a bit cheap if you ask me but maybe do those work better than all those stoppers that used to break all the time? What’s more, looks like quite a lot of rejuvenated casks have been used here. By the way, if you ever have the opportunity to visit Diageo’s Cambus Cooperage where they make those, please don’t miss it, it’s a fascinating place. Colour: gold. Nose: it does scream ‘Lagavulin!’ and I’m instantly reminded of the 16, only with more brightness, and probably more tarry herbs even if the whole’s a little less complex, perhaps a tad more one-dimensional than the 16. Some burning charcoal, some toasts, and perhaps some small pancakes. What’s really cool here is that I’m not finding any coconut or vanillin for that matter. Mouth: 43% always worked very well with Lagavulin, in my book at least, and that’s the case again here. Some leather and tobacco at first, then burnt honey coating kippers, salted liquorice, and then a nice trio that would gather grapefruit, ashes, and a few drops of cough syrup. Good body, I don’t quite get all those fine people you found it weakish. Finish: medium, salty, pretty easy, with a bittersweet side that works well. Ashy peat in the aftertaste. Comments: I find it much nicer than the rather disappointing 9 GOT, but perhaps a notch below the lovely 8. I could quaff a bottle or three while watching the new season of Casa de Papel. A Casa de Papel Lagavulin, that would have more style than those dreadful Game of Thrones bottles! No?
SGP:457 - 88 points.

Good, however good the 10 was, it was mainly a little excuse to try this one…

Lagavulin 40 yo 1979/2019 (49.1%, The Syndicate, cask #112, 188 bottles)

Lagavulin 40 yo 1979/2019 (49.1%, The Syndicate, cask #112, 188 bottles) Five stars
Isn’t this the oldest Lagavulin ever? Not too sure, the owners may have issued even older ones within their private Casks of Extinction series. Kss, stupid predictive typing, that’s rather Casks of distinction. Anyway, Sir John’s Syndicate – and BB&R - have already had some stunning Lagavulins (and other Islays of course) but this may take the biscuit. Imagine, 40 years! Colour: gold. Nose: extremely refined, very elegant, starting with some perfect maraschino, amaretti and orgeat before it would gear towards more medicinal notes, such as camphor and bandages. It’s really very elegant! Mouth: wonderful finesse, and yet some power and some oomph. Certainly not a tired old cask, oh no no no (talking like a politician now). Several old-school citrus liqueurs and cordials, a wide range of high-end Chinese green teas, then more bitter notes, grapefruit skins, bitter liqueurs, Fernet-Branca, dry white vermouths… Fantastic, complex, elegant, I’m running out of laudatory terms. Finish: long, first pretty herbaceous, then more coastal and lemony. We’re talking seaweed, oysters, lemon caviar – no that’s not proper caviar sprinkled with lemon juice. Unless, now that you bring it up… Comments: fantastic. We’ve tried to keep this note short ans sweet, but this is worth every penny they are asking for to sell you a bottle. PS: there’s been a 40 1976 ’Rare Malts’ done with a very small outturn for some event in China, but they were not official according to my compadre Ulf, who’s the real expert here. But they may have been 40 years old indeed, not too sure.
SGP:366 – 93 points.

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

 

April 8, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Middle-aged Cardhu
vs. middle-aged Cardow

Just because we can at this moment. Remember, Cardhu is the home distillery of Johnny Walker. Well it was, is that still the case?

Cardhu 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Cardhu 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
The light Cardhu is really big in France, where they kind of position it as a slightly ‘feminine’ whisky. Not that they would say that as such, but they really push the story about the distillery’s founder, Helen Cumming. Even if I believe she was actually just the wife of the founder, a certain John Cumming. Oh well, nothing too important… Colour: full yellowish gold, sot totally natural (I think yellow or orange tones usually give caramel away). Nose: it’ really light, pretty fresh, rather on cereals, chicory coffee, Jaffa cakes, butterscotch and custard, as well as floral tones, dandelions, buttercups, nectar…. All that works, it's really very pleasant and does not call for ice at all. Yet? Mouth: starts well, fresh, floral again, with nice touches of Cointreau, citron liqueur, even limoncello and a drop of crème de menthe. All real good, but it tends to lose steam after fifteen seconds, becoming a little drying, with some cardboard and supermarket tea (I mean tea powder). That’s where you would think you should add two or three ice cubes. The fate of many a high-volume malt whisky at low strength, sadly. Finish: short, dry, with not much happening. Comments: they should do with these malts like what the monks do at Westvleteren, having a 6, an 8 and a 12. In the case of these malt whiskies, a 40, a 43, and a 46! Nose and arrival were pretty perfect.
SGP:441 - 79 points.

And now an old brother…

Cardow 16 yo 1962/1979 (80°proof, Cadenhead, black dumpy)

Cardow 16 yo 1962/1979 (80°proof, Cadenhead, black dumpy) Two stars
This rare baby from when Cadenhead was still located in Aberdeen, and Cardhu still called Cardow Distillery. By the way, I know that Diageo have stenciled quite some casks of Cardhu ‘Cardow’ when they were having those Cardhus ‘Pure Malt’ around ten or twelve years ago (or more?) but I do not know if they’ll ever see the light of day as ‘Cardow’. Doubt it! Hey, are you following me? Let’s proceed to the tasting then… Colour: gold. Nose: ho-ho-ho, violets (the actual flowers, no chemicals involved), an unexpected feeling of Laphroaig 1966 (or 10yo Bonfanti), loads of passion fruits and oranges, and a pretty sumptuous floral side again, around orange blossoms and lime. Exquisite but not really a surprise as some of the old official ‘tall bottle white label’ could be just as incredible. Strictly nothing to do with contemporary offerings, but volumes produced are incomparable as well. Mouth: nah, it was all good while it lasted, but this palate went bitterish, cardboardy, and just rather flat. A shame since you can still feel, in the background of the background, some citrus fading way like an old three-master that had left the harbour thirty minutes ago (what?) … Finish: not much to say. Some cardboard and touches of burnt lavender. Okay… Comments: hard do score. 92 for the nose, 20 for the palate, that’s 61 on average, plus 10 extra-points as the preserve of the ruler (that’s me).
SGP:551 - 71 points.

(Thank you Angus)

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

 

April 7, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
A trio of 1981 Lochsides!

Joseph Hobbs’ crazy Lochside, the epitome of ultra-fruitiness in the best vintages. Never understood why the regular official 10 was so unnoticeable, but those were the D.Y.C. years if I remember well. Indeed, after Hobbs Lochside used to belong to those Spanish distillers until, I believe, it got closed forever in 1993. Or was it 1992?

Lochside 37 yo 1981/2018 (48.6%, The Whisky Agency, butt)

Lochside 37 yo 1981/2018 (48.6%, The Whisky Agency, butt) Four stars and a half
Colour: amber. Nose: struck matches, gas and black truffles upfront, we know what that means. We also know that that may go away – or that our preferred olfactory bulb will filter out those smells. Anyway, they do go away, more or less, but what’s left is some kind of broth made out of stewed cabbage and, indeed, pink grapefruits and maracuja. Which, granted, is much more ‘Lochside’. The jury’s still out, as we used to say before the Coronavirus lockdown became effective. Mouth: no more eggy/cabbage-y notes, rather just anything grapefruits, from hops (IPA) and indeed pink pepper to plain and pure grapefruit juice. The sherry imparted just a few raisiny notes, that’s cool. Wee notes of white grapes too. Chasselas, perhaps. Good. Finish: medium, as fresh as a finish can be after 37 years, with a little coffee and walnuts in the aftertaste. The sherry having the last word, I suppose. Comments: probably not the brightest, most emphatic Lochside ever, but hey, any Lochside has now become a collector’s piece.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Lochside 37 yo 1981/2019 (48.6%, The Auld Alliance)

Lochside 37 yo 1981/2019 (48.6%, The Auld Alliance) Four stars and a half
Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s the same strength as that of the TWA, but I’m not sure it is the same whisky, looks like this one’s rather brighter, well, not exactly, it’s got very similar traits, fumes, truffles, then pink grapefruits, Lagunitas, Timut pepper… Both are extremely close. May well be the same liquid after all, but it is not the same whisky, since the labels are very different. Of course that’s a part of what ‘a whisky’ is (S., there’s a lost episode of Inspektor Derrick on Channel 468, maybe you should…) Mouth: yeah, very same-ish. Mango jam, pink grapefruits, Sauvignon blanc …Finish: same. And I’m finding those green walnuts again in the aftertaste. Comments: better be identical to some excellent whisky than the same as a dead rotgut, no? (S., we confirm, it’s on channel 468…)
SGP:651 – 88 points.

Let’s try another 1981, but a younger one at a much higher strength. Only for the sake of whisky research, naturally…

Lochside 20 yo 1981/2001 (61.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, sherry butt, #92.9)

Lochside 20 yo 1981/2001 (61.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, sherry butt, #92.9) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: the core’s similar, that is to say on mangos and grapefruit, but there isn’t any stewed cabbage this time, rather a chalky lemonness that’s most elegant, even if sharpish on the nose. Whiffs of warm porridge, muesli, peaches… With water: it’s not often that you’ll find such a clean and precise combination of freshly squeezed lemons and fresh crushed mint leaves. Mouth (neat): huge, wonderfully honeyed this time, mentholy, ridden with grapefruits of all kinds, and even a tad on sweet wine. Rather like Jurançon – do you know Jurançon? It’s a small region but I would recommend the best sweet ones wholeheartedly! Les Jardins de Babylone, for example, is very expensive but worth every cent. The dry Jurançons can be very good too, by the way, but this is not winefun, is it, so let’s move on. With water: superb, mega-fruity, rather on something that’s always been typically Lochside in my book, all-vitamin fruit juice. Which will cure ‘almost’ anything. Finish: not the longest ever but the fruitiness is clean and perfect. Always pink grapefruits in the front. Comments: a proper fruit bomb this little SMWS. I’ll keep a few cls, I’d really like to compare it to one of those mega-fruity indie Bushmills.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

I don’t know when we’ll have our next Lochside session, I have to say.

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

 

April 6, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
A good little bag of indie Highland Park

Classic set-up on WF, we’ve done this many times already. Let’s see what we have, and try to do all this ‘moderately’…

Highland Park 12 yo 2005/2018 (53.9%, Duncan Taylor, octave, cask #5017304, 62 bottles)

Highland Park 12 yo 2005/2018 (53.9%, Duncan Taylor, octave, cask #5017304, 62 bottles) Three stars
Another young micro-bottling that should be pretty good provided no red wine’s been involved. Now quite some bottlers seem to have learnt how to make better use of red wine casks, so you never know… By the way this was a 4 months finish in that little octave. Colour: full gold. Nose: it remained Highland-Parky, in this case pretty mineral and even medicinal. Chalk and oyster shells for a good while, and only then rather acacia blossom, maple syrup, various honeys and just some fresh croissants. Oh how we’re missing fresh croissants these days, deep frozen ones being so bad! With water: whiffs of bicycle inner tube, scuba diving suit, and just bread. Touches of grassy smoke. Mouth (neat): the octave’s spices hit you first, with a lot of pepper, ginger and nutmeg in the arrival. Gets then cakier (cinnamon rolls) and a tad softer, with a distillate that doesn’t quite seem to manage to keep its head above water. I mean, above the oak. With water now: still oak spices playing first strings, but we hear a little more from the spirit. A smoky and chalky saltiness, apparently. Finish: rather long, still spicy. A little tar in the aftertaste. Comments: perfectly quaffable, and even pretty good, but the little casks feels a tad too much for me.
SGP:362 - 80 points.

Old Man of Hoy 2005/2018 (60.7%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #2018-1, 352 bottles)

Old Man of Hoy 2005/2018 (60.7%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #2018-1, 352 bottles) Four stars and a half
We’ve already tried some very good ‘Old Mans’ by Blackadder through the years! Colour: straw. Nose: I now understand why Duncan Taylor would have decided to finish some similar make in an Octave, as this is clearly not for anybody. Extremely austere and chalky, full of raw sheep’s wool, with quite some ultra-acidic lemon juice too, pebbles, gravel, soot and ink. Karl-Heinz Stockhausen rather than Céline Dion, I would say. With water: the same rubbery notes as in the octave, but those are assets in HP. More bicycle inner tubes. Mouth (neat): bone dry, ultra-lemony and chalky arrival, the kind that takes no prisoners at all. Then bitter grasses that tend to try to bite your tongue. How sharp is that! With water: I love my water, it did wonders here. Perfect lemon and chalk combo, with a lot of tension and verticality. You know, the best Sancerres and whatnot… Finish: long and just utterly perfect. Lemon, chalk, muesli. Comments: it takes time and quite some good water, but it’s then very rewarding provided you enjoy these vertical styles. Almost a Kärcher malt, some great sharp HP.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Highland Park 15 yo 2003/2018 (52.6%, The Whisky Fair Limburg 2019, bourbon hogshead)

Highland Park 15 yo 2003/2018 (52.6%, The Whisky Fair Limburg 2019, bourbon hogshead) Four stars and a half
I suppose the 2020 edition of the Whisky Fair is or will be cancelled? That’s sad, naturally, but take heart and see you in 2021! Unless they do it later on in 2020? That would be a cool idea too… In the meantime, let’s try this baby from last year… Colour: white wine. Nose: yeah well, we have lorryloads of chalk and plaster here, a fair quantity of sheep’s wool too (or a new jumper), some porridge, some limestone, some flints, and just anything calcareous. Only far away in the background, a little citrus. I suppose that’s going to come to the front once water’s been added, let’s see… With water: hey, not quite! Perusing the tweed section at Walker Slater’s. Yeah I know, the whole shop’s about tweed…  Mouth (neat): heavens! A perfect late-period Highland Park, austere as one pleases, extremely chalky and lemony, with a little bitter green tea and a wee medicinal side. Perhaps a touch of eucalyptus? With water: same. It’s strange that water would change anything here. A little sad because I was ready to go for 90+, but… Finish: long, just perfect, on the same lime-y and chalky flavours. Comments: straightforward, simple, a little abstract, perfect. But no 90, there.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Another 15…

Orkney 15 yo 2002/2018 ‘ Super Bottle’ (56%, Whiskay, cask #0002, 258 bottles)

Orkney 15 yo 2002/2018 ‘ Super Bottle’ (56%, Whiskay, cask #0002, 258 bottles) Five stars
A rather humorous bottle, why would we be against that? I love the idea of a super bottle saving the world… Mind you, couldn’t a bottle of whisky become President of the USA? Or PM of Great Britain? President of France? President of Russi… no, perhaps not. Colour: white wine. Nose: same-ish, of course, but this one’s a little more coastal I would say, with a little more brine, also more smoke, also more grapefruit, also more oysters, also more green tea, also more tarry/rubbery notes (in a good way)… Very lovely so far, but it’s true that the Whisky Fair was pretty elementary- in a good way too. With water: smoke, new tyres, fumes, good sulphur. Absolutely not the kind of sulphur that would come from some treated wine casks, this is proper ‘spirit’ sulphur. Very nice, would add much density. Mouth (neat): everything that’s needed. Lemon juice, crushed chalk, grass, grapefruits, a tiny touch of cabbage (or Brussels sprout), turmeric… With water: bingo, Mr Super Bottle. This epitomises the perfect style of Highland Park’s later distillate. Finish: long and just totally perfect. Chalk lime brine and stuff in perfect sync. Comments: the top of the magic quadrangle (remember, HP, Clynelish, Ben Nevis, Springbank). Excuse me? Of course there are other super whiskies these days. Yes indeed, Islay… Anyway, they earned this funny – and almost Warholesque - bottle’s name, no misleading advertising here. Well done.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

A last, older one for the road (to Falkirk)…

Highland Park 31 yo 1987/2019 (47.1%, The Perfect Fifth, USA, sherry hogshead, cask #1531, 185 bottles)

Highland Park 31 yo 1987/2019 (47.1%, The Perfect Fifth, USA, sherry hogshead, cask #1531, 185 bottles) Four stars
In my meagre experience, we have to be prepared for anything with these vintages, from the stunning to the faulty. Let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: it was different era, and clearly a different style at Highland Park, much more on tropical fruits and honeyed touches. Mead, papaya juice, avocado juice, heather honey (that’s very HP), cider, hops (IPA), honeysuckle… At the other end, no chalk, no seawater, and no acidic lemons. Mouth: very good, but probably a little more uncertain, certainly meady, honeyed, a touch sour, rather with sweeter blood oranges than with bursting tenser citrus. It’s not very mineral either, but don’t get me wrong, it is lovely honeyed older HP. Finish: medium, rather soft, with notes of overripe bananas and even soft rum, as well as fir honey (resinous honeydew). So a very gentle, softer old HP.   Comments: very good mead. I mean, old Highland Park. Just not totally earthshattering (but do we need that these days?)
SGP:651 - 86 points.

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

 

April 5, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Rum until we succumb
I should do smaller rum sessions more frequently, but sadly I’m not that organised. Instead what happens is I tend to be forced into it when rum samples accumulate sufficiently that they start to fall off the shelf where I keep them.

 

When it comes to rum I am very much a beginner, although I have my preferences for the more estery, exotic and drier, funkier styles. Just as I detest the sugar-doused abominations that clot on supermarket shelves the world over. It’s a tricky spirit in many ways and please don’t ever forget I’m coming at it from the perspective of a malt whisky lover who enjoys charismatic, distillate-forward styles of spirit. We’ll have quite a few today, in the kind of order that makes loose sense to me - although, possibly not to you.

 

 

I should also add that this is really about three mini-sessions which were recorded over the space of a few months and then stitched together. Almost all of which happened pre-Covid 19, which explains why there aren’t any references to the current ‘situation’ in today’s notes.

 

 

Labourdonnais 5 yo Batch 1 (49.8%, That Boutique-y Rum Company, Mauritius, PX cask, 1200 bottles)

Labourdonnais 5 yo Batch 1 (49.8%, That Boutique-y Rum Company, Mauritius, PX cask, 1200 bottles)
Labourdonnais is a relatively newish (2006) distillery from Mauritius. This was made from pure cane juice, distilled in a column still and matured full term in PX cask. Colour: copper. Nose: lots of gingerbread, wee touches of lighter fluid, hot brake pads, some soft embrocations, coffee liqueur, cocktail sugar syrups and some drops of assorted of cooking oils. Gets increasingly grassy with time and some notes of green olive. Mouth: rather sharp, some slightly acrid and pushy woody notes, green pepper, rubber, tarmac, black pepper, smoked paprika and a slightly clumsy sweetness. Finish: short, slightly bitter, burnt brown sugars and roasted root vegetables. Comments: I preferred the nose to the palate, a tad rough and disjointed for me.
SGP: 661 - 73 points.

 

 

Mount Gay Select Blend 7 yo (54%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Barbados, 2400 bottles, 2018)

Mount Gay Select Blend 7 yo (54%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Barbados, 2400 bottles, 2018)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: pleasingly rich and polished at first nosing. Quite a bit of boot polish, coconut milk, lemon rind and an easy, exotic sweetness. Hints of sawdust and more coconut notes. The sweetness is pleasantly natural despite these wee sawdusty notes. With water: greener, fatter, more medicinal, earthier and with some nice notes of black olive and cinnamon. Mouth: good deliver, syrupy in texture, sweet coconut and some assertive spiciness. Green pepper, olive oil, hints of brine and some camphor. With water: develops nicely with these notes of sweet mango chutney, light embrocations, vegetable oil and some more grassy and earthy notes. Good weight and richness still. Finish: medium and with quite a bit of white pepper, lemongrass and yet more coconut. Comments: Very good, the kind of rum you could sip or mix quite happily I think.
SGP: 651 - 84 points.

 

 

St Lucia Distillers Ltd 13 yo 2006/2019 (56%, Chairman’s Reserve for Royal Mile Whiskies, St Lucia, bourbon, 286 bottles)

Chairman’s Reserve 13 yo 2006/2019 (56%, St Lucia Distillers Ltd for Royal Mile Whiskies, St Lucia, bourbon, 286 bottles)
This one was produced in a Vendome pot still, which is a kind of still which features a traditional pot base combined with a column. It was also mature full term in St Lucia. Colour: ruby/amber. Nose: vibrant, fresh and gently medicinal with lots of mashed banana, sultana, prune jelly and lightly caramelised muscovado sugar. Also some pleasing hints of bicycle tyre, brake fluid and a wee funky tang of fermenting fruits. Excellent! With water: leaner, drier, more complex with some earthy tobacco notes, cane sugar, gauze, embrocations, seawater, green olive and plaster. Mouth: nice arrival on brown sugar, pulpy exotic fruits, more bananas - caramelised this time - bandages, lime juice and quite a bit of funky sweetness. Some bitter orange and lemon cordial in the background too. With water:  more cohesion, again a tad drier and more punchy. More medicinal, more complex, some soft spiciness rising up; overall a greater sense of balance and power. Finish: long, bready, rich, more caramelising brown sugars, bandages, ink, dried herbal notes and some crystallised exotic fruits. Superb! Comments: I find this extremely good. Walks a wonderful tightrope between sweet and dry with a lovely evolution once water is added. The nose in particular is very satisfying. Great selection by the folk at RMW!
SGP: 642 - 88 points.

 

 

Diamond (Versailles) 14 yo 2004/2019 (56%, Thompson Brothers for Nauticus & Royal Mile Whiskies, Guyana, bourbon barrel, 250 bottles)

Diamond (Versailles) 14 yo 2004/2019 (56%, Thompson Brothers for Nauticus & Royal Mile Whiskies, Guyana, bourbon barrel, 250 bottles)
This one comes from the famous Versailles single wooden pot still. Nauticus is a newish and excellent bar in Leith. If you’re in Edinburgh I would encourage you to visit. They to tremendous cocktails and always have a short but well curated beer selection on tap. Not to mention a healthy whisky gantry. You might even bump into yours truly as it is effectively my local - but don’t let that discourage you. Colour: straw. Nose: grassy, petrolic, austere and rather pure. Lots of embrocations, crushed seashells, olives in pickling juices and cornichons. There’s also some slightly gassy and vegetal notes. With water: opens up impressively with water, gets very grassy, peppery and earthy with notes of metal polish, gravel and crushed cactus. Also something slightly sweaty and animalistic. Mouth: surprisingly easy arrive with lightly citric esters while underneath it’s also rather rubbery, funky, earthy and tarry. More bandages, elastoplasts, gauze and olive oil diluted with seawater. Also quite flinty as well. With water: again this rather rubbery, sweaty edge - which doesn’t sound nice but is. Fur, black olives, wintergreen, vapour rubs and notes akin to fermenting lemons and mechanical oils. Finish:  good length, rather grassy, oily, slightly tarry, medical and getting increasingly salty and austere. Comments: Probably a tad difficult at times with this austere profile, but it’s charismatic and high quality stuff no doubt.
SGP: 372 - 85 points.

 

 

Uitvlugt 21 yo 1997/2019 (49.1%, Kintra Spirits Rum Collection, Guyana, cask #6, 113 bottles)

Uitvlugt 21 yo 1997/2019 (49.1%, Kintra Spirits Rum Collection, Guyana, cask #6, 113 bottles)
Not much could go wrong here I suspect… Colour: gold. Nose: this typically beautiful and deep concentration of embrocations, bandages and seawater. All shades of olive, brine cut with olive oil, sardines and old oily bicycle chains sprayed with WD40. Beyond that there’s also some fresh citrus fruit, chopped parsley, air freshener and something like Midori melon liqueur. But really it is the coastal and medical combinations that really stand out proudest here. Mouth: a funny but rather fabulous mix of kippers, brine and brown bread studded with olives and rosemary. I love how you get some very pronounced flavour combinations in the best rums. More bandages, plasters, ointments and rock pool water. Finish: long, medical, lemony, slightly earthy and with a very light medical sweetness then a rich and bready aftertaste. Comments: excellent, we’re extremely close to the 90 mark here.
SGP: 472 - 89 points. 

 

 

Let’s leave Guyana for a short break in Trinidad…

 

 

Caroni 2000/2018 ‘Navy Rum Extra Strong’ (51.4%, La Maison du Whisky & Velier 100th Anniversary, Trinidad)

Caroni 2000/2018 ‘Navy Rum Extra Strong’ (51.4%, La Maison du Whisky & Velier 100th Anniversary, Trinidad)
Colour: orange amber. Nose: deep, leathery and spicy. Lots of strong ginger, hot paprika, root beer, some darker chocolate tones, heavy tobacco notes, black pepper, camphor and some quite heavy tarry notes. Damp, animalistic, fat and earthy - some black olives too. I find this heavier, slightly drier style very good and more complex than the lighter Caroni. With water: softer, more cinnamon, camphor, hessian, putty, quite a lot of dried herbs and now touches of anchovy paste and more umami and saline qualities. Very good! Mouth: lots of dry, fat medicines, bitter herbal extracts, natural tar, a powerful earthiness, cured gamed meats, black pepper and an increasingly autolytic and rounded bready quality. The strength works very well here at balancing the more punch aspects of the distillate. With water: the texture has thickened slightly and there’s more rubber, more earth, some soot, plastic, pot pourri, strong black tea and some grippy tannins. Finish: long, leathery, spicy, bready, earthy, savoury and with a strong umami character. Comments: There’s a great tension between complexity and power here that has required quite an impressive balancing act. Worth trying.
SGP: 472 - 88 points.

 

 

Caroni 26 yo 1993/2019 (50.7%, 1423 World Class Spirits ‘Single barrel selection’, Trinidad, barrel, 239 bottles)

Caroni 26 yo 1993/2019 (50.7%, 1423 World Class Spirits ‘Single barrel selection’, Trinidad, barrel, 239 bottles)
This one by Danish importer, retailer and bottler 1423. It’s molasses distilled through a column and then tropically aged until 2008. Apparently nicknamed ‘the beast’. Colour: reddish coffee. Nose: extremely concentrated and extractive in style, you can almost feel the top of the liquid bristling with splinters. However, it’s also quite alluring with these notes of toasted fennel, crushed black pepper, mothballs and fresh paint. Showing this nice mix of medicines, spices and some slightly leathery and meaty tones. With water: turpentine, putty, stewed orange peels, cloves, smoked mint, camphor, vapour rubs and more rather extreme and dried out medical notes. Mouth: ooft! Extremely bitter, concentrated and highly extractive. Pure graphite, strong black coffee with chilli powder, very strong, rather tannic black tea, burnt brown sugar, salted caramel, bicycle inner tube rubber, burnt fennel seeds. Ok, ok, I agree, it’s a beast. With water: still extremely burnt, bitter, extractive and riddled with rather aggressive wood spices. Like chewing coffee grounds, burnt brisket ends and wood char (I’m sure there will be some of you out there who will adore this!) Rather tough for me I’m afraid. Finish: Long, woody, quite a bit of smoked paprika, burnt cumin seeds, wood char and bitter, tannic tea. Comments: It’s not my style of rum at all I’m afraid. The wood is just too extreme, to the point that you really loose balance. However, I’m aware this style is very much an acquired taste and some aficionados will love it. So, please feel free to take my score with a large bushel of charcoal!
SGP: 483 - 76 points.

 

 

Back to Guyana please!

 

 

Enmore 24 yo 1990/2015 (61.2%, Our & Spirits, Guyana, cask #20, 178 bottles)

Enmore 24 yo 1990/2015 (61.2%, Our & Spirits, Guyana, cask #20, 178 bottles)
Distilled in a pot still, presumably the wooden Versailles still which was in use at Enmore in 1990 before going on to Uitvlugt and finally to Diamond where it now resides. From a German retailer and bottler, although not too sure if they’re still active as their website appears to be down at time of writing.  Colour: pale gold. Nose: austere but surprisingly approachable considering the strength. Lots of raw cactus, cut grass, crushed aspirin, mineral salts, lime juice and chopped green asparagus. Quite lean and chiselled in profile which feels excellent, if somewhat unusual. With water: rather more fragrant, showing notes of fabrics and linens with green tea, faded petrol notes, white sourdough bread, chamomile tea and seawater. Mouth: extremely powerful and hugely bready. Lots of pure brown bread, rye, soda bread, scone mix, wholemeal flour mixed with brown sugar, elastoplasts, clay, ointments, bandages, ink and vase water. There’s even a slight hint of rubber erasers. Quite brutal, big and unusual. With water: still rather bready and doughy, but it feels more cohesive and balanced with a return to these rubber, petrol and lime juice flavours. Finish: long, earthy, extremely vegetal, lighter fluid, tyre rubber, more brown bread and bandages. Comments: It’s a pretty tough and unyielding style that is undeniably on the austere side of things. The kind of spirit that makes you work to get to know it. However, despite the difficulty, we’re a million miles away from the crass sugared crap in the supermarkets and undeniably tasing some pretty historic, old school rum. I think you probably just have to be in the mood.
SGP: 462 - 86 points.

 

 

Enmore 25 yo 1990/2015 (58%, Cave Guildive, Guyana, bourbon)

Enmore 25 yo 1990/2015 (58%, Cave Guildive, Guyana, bourbon)
Another from the Versailles still. Colour: pale gold. Nose: similar but a notch sweeter which makes all these big vegetal, medical and bready qualities merge a little more seamlessly and globally feel easier and more ‘open’ as a result. A few whiffs of industrial cleaning fluid, soft tarry aspects, fermenting fruit notes, banana baked in brown sugar and bread dough. With water: some coconut and pineapple, more herbal, banana, lime and wild flowers. Mouth: herbal cough medicines, spiced exotic fruit teas, jasmine, chamomile, herbal cocktail bitters, plasters, gauze, ink and pastis. With water: more salty, umami and ‘brothy’ with these notes of liquid seasoning, bouillon, camphor and crushed grass. More aspirin, lime juice, sugar syrup and putty. Finish: long, rather bready, vegetal, earthy, medical and tarry. Comments: I prefer it a notch to the previous one. There’s a little more fruity sweetness about it that knits everything together. Still quite a demanding and very specific style though.
SGP: 562 - 87 points.

 

 

Let’s finish, as we always try to at Whiskyfun, with some Jamaicans.

 

 

Fredrick Smith Fine Old Jamaica Rum (30 under proof, Aston Model Brewery, -/+ 1930s)

Fredrick Smith Fine Old Jamaica Rum (30 under proof, Aston Model Brewery, -/+ 1930s)
One of many such bottlings produced in the first half of the 20th century for independent British wine and spirit merchants. In this case a Birmingham brewery called Aston Model, which also sold other imported wines and spirits. Colour: gold. Nose: pure funk! Seawater, petrol, bandages, massively overripe exotic fruits, lemon juice mixed with brine, animal furs and a rather brutal tarriness. 40%? Really? This feels brilliantly beastly. With water: just looking at the viscosity there’s no way in hell this is 40%. Thrillingly punchy esters now, brown sugars, bandages, rotting fruits, sardines, rubber, petrol, squid ink… a ruthless, brutal but gorgeous wee monster! Mouth: holy hell! Ok, I don’t know who was responsible for printing ’30 u.p.’ on the label but their descendants will be hearing from my lawyers! This must be approaching 70% abv! Seriously! Fermented fruit salad juices, rubber fishing wellies, natural tar extract, paraffin and workshop grease. I think water is necessary… with water: immensely fat, greasy, oily, saline, estery and prickling with sea salt, camphor, tar, pine resin and things like mint and juniper. Totally mental rum. Finish: superbly long, chewy, glistening with pulpy esters, smoked exotic fruit jam, olive oil mixed with olive juices, tar, mercurochrome and bitumen. Comments: What the hell was this! Was the strength a misprint? A 1930s tax dodge? An attempt to kill off some customers? Anyway, what an incredible spirit. Makes most contemporary Islay’s look like S Club 7. On the subject of Islay though, one thing I would add is that this remains rather close to many of the best contemporary Hampdens for example. Whereas the distance between 1930s Scottish malts and their current siblings remains equivalent to several rather chunky galaxies.
SGP: 473 - 92 points.

 

 

Ok, I had naively assumed that the Fredrick would be a cool aperitif for the following pair. However, it would now appear that they have their work cut out!

 

 

Hampden 35 yo 1983/2019 (55.3%, Valinch & Mallet, Jamaica, cask #19-3501R, 237 bottles)

Hampden 35 yo 1983/2019 (55.3%, Valinch & Mallet, Jamaica, cask #19-3501R, 237 bottles)
A super high ester ‘HGML’ make, which stands for ‘Hampden George MacFarquhar Lawson’ and is around 1000-1100 g/hlpa (grams per hectolitre of pure alcohol) Colour: gold. Nose: thick, vibrant and superb fresh. The age gives a kind of polished sheen to the esters. Concentrated seawater, smoked olive oil, natural tar, bandages soaked in antiseptic and olive juices. The whole feels extremely fat, textural and buoyant with vibrancy and power. Some notes of preserved lemon, ginger and even something like spiced carrots funnily enough. With water: hugely tarry, rubbery, salty and filled with a fug of diesel fumes, green peppercorns in brine, herbal toothpaste and smoked mint. Mouth: magnificently textural - to the point of being palpably greasy. While also showing wonderfully dense, ester-ridden exotic fruits. Smoked lemons, overripe mango, charred pineapple, star fruit, brine, lime juice, pickling juices, roasted vegetables, olive tapenades and many notes of fish paste and dried herbs. These Hampdens are almost unlike any other spirits I would say. With water: fermenting soy sauce, miso broth, dried seaweed, camphor, paraffin, salted treacle, molasses, roof pitch and pickled herring. Finish: superbly long, saline, resinously smoky, Thai curry spices, fermenting vegetables, tar liqueur and sugar cocktails, anthracite embers and many more fishy and pickle juice notes. Comments: Sublime and totally singular. Power, freshness, magnificent complexity and, perhaps easy to overlook at times but so essential to its DNA: fun! Leaves you with a big grin on your face.
SGP: 563 - 92 points.

 

 

Hampden 35 yo 1983/2019 (58.9%, Rum Artesanal, Jamaica, cask #6, 322 x 50cl bottles)

Hampden 35 yo 1983/2019 (58.9%, Rum Artesanal, Jamaica, cask #6, 322 x 50cl bottles)
Almost certainly from a sibling cask to the V&M. Colour: gold. Nose: the same, but perhaps a little dirtier. That is to say, more towards coal smoke, engine grease, tool boxes, diesel fumes and oily rags. Similarly full of seawater, anchovies in olive oil, capers in brine, natural tar extract, animal fat, caraway and pickled olives. Brilliant, once again. With water: gets more animalistic, coal smoky, carbolic, tarry, greasy and dundery. Things like bath salts, mutton broth, lime juice and cured ham. Mouth: hugely concentrated, fatty, oily and with these really trill top note esters. Fermenting banana, flambeed brown sugar, tar liqueur, herbal cough medicines, old hay bails, smoked mint and something like charred plasticine. With water: superb concentration and power now. More direct, more punchy, more ‘purely’ saline and with this wonderful fusion of natural tar, rubber, black pepper and olive juices. Finish: long, getting extremely herbal and full of putty, plasticine, coal tar soap, lanolin, vapour rubs, pickled onions and medical embrocations. Comments: This one is a notch drier I’d say, but overall it’s still the same totally bonkers, joy-inducing level of quality.
SGP: 463 - 92 points.

 

 

Thanks to Harrison and Dirk.

 

 

 

 

April 4, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Touring the West Coast
From the rather unusual sensation of isolation, let’s allow our minds and tastebuds to wander around the west coast of Scotland for some fresh air. As you probably already know, I’m a big fan of most of the makes from the western edges of Scotland. Especially the mainlanders: Ben Nevis, Springbank, Glen Scotia and Oban.

 

There are pitiably few west coast mainland malts anymore, and the ones that remain are generally amongst the more distinctive and charismatic of Scotland’s distillates. Now, it will be interesting to watch the progress of newer additions such as Ardnamurchan and Nc’Nean as time goes on, to see if they too develop a ‘westerly’ accent. Anyway, let’s try a few scattered examples from the islands and the mainland today, starting briefly in Campbeltown.

 

 

Campbeltown 5 yo 2014/2019 Blended Malt (49.1%, North Star Spirits, bourbon & PX finish)

Campbeltown 5 yo 2014/2019 Blended Malt (49.1%, North Star Spirits, bourbon & PX finish)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: quite sweet with lots of runny honey, pollen, golden syrup and cocktail sugar syrups. Rather syrupy in other words. Certainly gives the impression of being older than 5 years. Continues with hints of orgeat, blossoms, cherry cake, marzipan and some simple cooking oils beneath. Mouth: the PX intervention jars a little at first with these rather sticky notes of caramelised sugar and wood varnish. However, there’s enough straightforward honey, tinned fruit juices and sultana notes of keep things fresh and satisfying. Finish: medium with wee notes of lemon polenta cake, raspberry cordial, cream soda and tangerine. Comments: Quite a departure from these other more naked anonymous young C-towners. I find the PX aspect a tad uncertain, but in this instance it has certainly delivered an undeniably pleasing confectionary quality. If you have a sweet tooth then this should be good quaffing whisky.
SGP: 751 - 82 points.

 

 

Campbeltown 5 yo 2014/2019 Blended Malt (50%, Thompson Brothers, two refill hogsheads, 816 bottles)

Campbeltown 5 yo 2014/2019 Blended Malt (50%, Thompson Brothers, two refill hogsheads, 816 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: yeast, mostly chewed out bubblegum, plain white bread, lemon vitamin tablets. Bish. Bash. Bosh. Also some rathe green maltiness, chalk and some weird shaving brush notes. With water: becomes rather raw, increasingly yeasty, some sharper lemon juice notes and an impression of slightly briny acidity. Mouth: a little creamier, more direct and well-structured than on the nose. Mustardy warmth, gauze, hessian, sunflower oil and lime zest. With water: lemon cough drops, barley water, salty bouillon stock and a nicely juicy, plush maltiness. Finish: medium but hot and prickly. Sharp, dusty malt, yeasty, putty and citric. Comments: It’s fine, even pretty good, but I find these batches a little lacking in some ways. Perhaps it is the fact that they are simply called ‘Campbeltown’, which I find irritating. Then again, perhaps I am overthinking what is clearly intended - and priced - as simple, everyday quaffing whisky.
SGP: 562 - 80 points. 

 

 

Let’s head north to Oban.

 

 

Oban 14 yo (43%, OB, -/+ 2020, 20cl)

Oban 14 yo (43%, OB, -/+ 2020, 20cl)
Oban 14 is a malt I always like to follow from time to time, and one I’ll often order in a pub. I’m rarely disappointed in such instances I have to say. Serge last tried it in October 2018 from a -/+2016 rotation and was impressed (WF 88). This one from one of those wee 20cl ‘travel sesh’ bottles that Diageo do. Colour: gold. Nose: orange peel, milk chocolate with sea salt, ginger biscuits and various lighter notes of dried flowers, soft herbal touches and putty. Easy and rather straightforward but far from bland. Mouth: great arrival, all on heather honey, mead, fruit chutneys, dried apricot, peach stones and lemon barley water. Indeed, you do get an ‘impression’ of something coastal. Some slightly salty butter, yellow flowers, pollens and porridge. Finish: medium, sweet cereals, milk bottle sweets, runny honey and fruity flapjack. Comments: It’s good, but I feel some other batches had a bit more oomph. It would be interesting to know how many casks on average go into a batch of Oban 14?
SGP: 452 - 83 points.

 

 

Oban 26 yo 1992/2019 (59.2%, OB ‘Select Cask’, cask #7002, puncheon, 396 bottles)

Oban 26 yo 1992/2019 (59.2%, OB ‘Select Cask’, cask #7002, puncheon, 396 bottles)
Another from Diageo’s ‘prices of distinction’ series. Colour: gold. Nose: sharp and lightly waxy in a rather invigorating way. White stone fruits, coastal freshness, dusty malted barley and some nicely chalky, cereal and bright pollen notes. Feels fresh, clear and rather pure, although also a touch on the lighter side for Oban, which is no bad thing at all. With water: still quite dusty, chalky and pithy. Some heather flowers, burlap, pink sea salt, soda bread and a rather invigorating coastal freshness. Mouth: surprisingly soft arrival. All on gentle white pepper, lactic notes, plain yoghurt, lemon peel, mead, a rather faded waxiness and more of these cereal tones. Buttery cereals and freshly baked pastries. With water: linens, canvass, hessian, olive oil, cloves and a kind of savoury minty note. The impression of trail mix and toasted seeds. Finish: good length, still quite drying, lightly salty, savoury, cereal and some nice lingering notes of heather ale and bread dough. Comments: It’s a lovely wee dram, on the lighter side of Oban I think, but there’s still some very evocative parts to it and it possess a commendable and pleasing freshness. However, I’m pretty certain it’s not worth whatever a bottle costs. Not that we score prices on WF mind you.
SGP: 361 - 85 points. 

 

 

To Mull please, Mr Ferry Captain!

 

 

Tobermory 25 yo 1994/2019 (55.9%, Filmnik ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, cask #381011, hogshead, 214 bottles)

Tobermory 25 yo 1994/2019 (55.9%, Filmnik ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, cask #381011, hogshead, 214 bottles)
The Shawshank Redemption! How appropriate for the current state of lockdown. Let’s hope at the other side of all this its more ‘redemption’ and less ‘Shawshank’. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very lovely and very ‘Tobermory’. That is to say: wildly yeasty, bready, sourdough-ridden, baking soda, cider apples, sour perry, background farmyard notes, dried banana chips and lots of hessian cloth, wet grains, cereals and mash water. I’m a fan! With water: cleaner, more brittle and chiselled now. A rather nervous coastal freshness, wet fabrics, baking parchment and a light note of rolling tobacco. Mouth: richly malty, lightly gingery, a chalky clutter of minerals, sandalwood, hessian, gorse, sunflower oil, enough sourdough bread to start a hipster bakery, cheesecloth and hints of goat. This is a lot of fun and extremely good as well. With water: much more peppery with some splashy notes of wood spice, earthy turmeric, milk bottle sweets, crushed aspirin, dried tarragon and richly savoury, salty broths. Finish: long, wonderfully bready and full of olive oil, parchment, crisp cereals, old school shilling ales, Scotch broth and bouillon stocks. Comments: who needs distillery tours when you can simply wear a blindfold and get most of the organoleptic experience from a glass of this Tobermory? What fun! I love the way it continually evolves with water and keeps on throwing up unexpected wee evolutions in your face. Great selection by those commendable cinema fans from Beijing!
SGP: 462 - 88 points.

 

 

Ledaig 17 yo 1997/2014 (49.7%, Càrn Mòr ‘Celebration Of The Cask’, cask #643080, hogshead, 254 bottles)

Ledaig 17 yo 1997/2014 (49.7%, Càrn Mòr ‘Celebration Of The Cask’, cask #643080, hogshead, 254 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: what’s funny is that there’s an almost identical level of yeasty-ness going on as in the Tobermory, only with an added layer of peat draped over everything. Putty, smoked olive oil, capers in brine, fish sauce, lime juice and some rather hearty kedgeree. Rather direct, straightforward and chiselled. Mouth: richly salty and umami with a direct and punchy peaty note. Then goes on to a more grubby farmyard quality with mud, tractor engine parts, boiler smoke, wood ash and things like ink and carbon paper. Also rather oily and impressively fat. Finish: long and, once again, back to this rather brothy yeasty quality. Black olive tapenade, umami paste, broiled shellfish and coal smoke. Comments: Quite a big Ledaig, a notch heavier than other 97s I’ve tried and feels bigger than its abv would suggest. A tad simplistic and brutal in some respects but quality is high.
SGP: 365 - 86 points.

 

 

Up to Fort William. Let’s take the seaplane…

 

 

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1995/2019 (50.8%, The Whisky Agency for Derek Chan & Jeremy Ma, cask #654, sherry butt, 192 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1995/2019 (50.8%, The Whisky Agency for Derek Chan & Jeremy Ma, cask #654, sherry butt, 192 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: as is often the case with these batches, I find that the sherry matured examples display a straighter and more ‘direct’ profile at first nosing. That is to say classically polished, oily and full of gun metal, copper coins, steel wool, old toolboxes, glazed nuts and miso. I find this one wonderfully pure, elegant and the sherry nicely supple, fresh and clean. While there’s still these wee earthy and mustardy Ben Nevis touches peeping through from beneath. Great! With water: lightly bitter herbal notes, cocktail bitters, earth, black pepper, leaf mulch, pipe tobacco and salt-cured meats. Mouth: pow! The sherry and the distillate are really sitting in perfect harmony now. On one hand you have this wonderfully leafy, soft mix of damp tobaccos, dark chocolate, salted caramel, liquorice and caffe latte, while on the other there’s this syrupy waxiness, slightly gloopy, overripe fruitiness and things like clay, ointments and putty. Totally unequivocal and superb! With water: luminous and terrifically vibrant and fresh. Nutty, oily, waxy, earthy and subtly fruity with this rising spiciness in the background. Finish: long, gingery, orangey, waxy, ever so slightly tarry, a balanced bitterness and this lovely soft fruity and savoury edge in the aftertaste. Comments: I don’t know the 95s as well as the 96s but the quality would appear to be the same. Amazing distillate in a totally brilliant sherry cask. Bottlings like this are the future classics in my personal view.
SGP: 662 - 91 points.

 

 

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (53.6%, Elixir Distillers ‘The Single Malts Of Scotland’, cask #1784, hogshead, 182 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (53.6%, Elixir Distillers ‘The Single Malts Of Scotland’, cask #1784, hogshead, 182 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: full of sheep wool, putty, mineral oils, shoe polish, new leather, burlap, hessian and a kind of lemon-tinged waxiness - not unlike citronella candles. More of these wee mustard notes with white pepper, chalk and aspirin. Typical and superb. With water: quite saline now, more pin-sharp minerality, olive oil, hessian cloth, herbal cough syrup and this easy chalkiness. Mouth: it’s a rather sharp one, very chiselled, brittle, mineral-driven and pure. Fresh fabrics, waxed canvass, mineral salts, cough medicines, soot, bitter citrus piths and lanolin. With water: totally great with water. Wider, fatter, thicker and brimming with salted mead, heather honey, exotic fruit syrups and waxes. Finish: long, salty, nicely bitter, nervously fruity and full of twitchy minerals and light medical notes. Comments: It’s a different and altogether more naked beast than the 1995, but it’s the same lofty arena of quality. Did I mention that I’m a fan of these Ben Nevi?
SGP: 462 - 91 points.

 

 

Back in the seaplane to Jura…

 

 

Isle Of Jura 10 yo (43%, OB, duty free, litre, -/+ 1990)

Isle Of Jura 10 yo (43%, OB, duty free, litre, -/+ 1990)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: hey, not bad! Not that I was expecting terrible things, but this is rather lovely and quite fresh with this plush maltiness, lemon yoghurt, honeyed porridge, canvass and chalky crushed aspirin. Easy, light, bright and fresh. Mouth: good arrival, rather punchy, peppery and showing some ripe green and yellow fruits. Mineral oils, soot and toasted mixed seeds. A nice easy tension between sweeter fruitier tones and drier, more cereal and coastal aspects. A wee glimmer of bath salts and something almost like soapiness but not quite soapiness, rather more floral I’d say. Finish: medium, chalky, cereal, herbal and slightly peppery and bitter. Comments: I have to say, I’m pretty impressed. This is charismatic and shows a surprising amount of oomph and energy. I believe such bottles are still pretty cheap at auctions.
SGP: 551 - 86 points.

 

 

Isle Of Jura 24 yo 1987/2011 (53.9%, Private bottling for Vic Pulleyn by Bruichladdich Distillery, cask #198, 253 bottles)

Isle Of Jura 24 yo 1987/2011 (53.9%, Private bottling for Vic Pulleyn by Bruichladdich Distillery, cask #198, 253 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: surprisingly clean and direct for such a Jura, lots of cooking oils, salt baked vegetables, metal polish, oily rags, mineral oils, soot, furniture wax and things like old ink wells, carbon paper and light briny and lemony touches. Impressive! With water: doubles down on these oily and cereal aspects. Sunflower oil, mineral oils, tarragon, soot, parsnips and a light salinity. Fun stuff. Mouth: more typically Jura-esque with this rather ‘jumbled’ feeling on the palate, which is not necessarily a criticism mind you. It’s just that you have this funny mix of old toolboxes, mechanical oils, rapeseed oil, grass, putty, clay, cereals, ointments, face cream, miso, watercress, hair gel. It’s all a big higgledy-piggledy and charismatically untidy. There’s also a more direct and punchy vegetal side in the mouth as well, even allusions to very old pure pot still Irish whiskeys in some respects. With water: a little more cohesive and goes kind of full circle back towards the sharper definition of the nose. Still lots of more unlikely notes of plasticine, glue, fabric, starch, mashed vegetables, olive oil, dried herbs and ink. Also gets interestingly minty and mentholated with these impressions of medical vapour rubs. Finish: quite long, salty, slightly leathery and more of these oily notes that veer between the industrial, mechanical and cooking varieties. Comments: Quite a ride, but at heart it’s a very charismatic, if somewhat funky, and noble wee islander. Exactly the kind of nutter who runs away to live on Jura I suppose. Hard to score but I liked it a lot.
SGP: 472 - 88 points.

 

 

Isle Of Jura 14 yo 1964/1979 (80 proof / 45.7%, Cadenhead Dumpy)

Isle Of Jura 14 yo 1964/1979 (80 proof / 45.7%, Cadenhead Dumpy)
A super rare early vintage of Jura. Remember, the distillery was entirely reconstructed and re-commenced distilling in 1963, after being silent since circa 1900. Obviously, if anyone has any pre-1900 Jura cask samples knocking about then please do get in touch (sample to Edinburgh; invoice to Turckheim). Colour: gold. Nose: in the middle of a session mostly consisting of modern whiskies, these very old school distillates can just strike you like an arrow out of the blue. Immensely concentrated, generous and almost obscenely fat fruitiness. Quivering, gelatinous, oily and just verging on overripe. The kind of nose that brings together green, exotic and garden variety fruits in abundance. It’s also beautifully herbaceous and honeyed with a silky thread of peat running between everything. Wee elements of soot, wet hessian, olive oil, mechanical parts and a pretty bold and pushy mineral oil quality too. Beyond that you can also find many umami aromas, broths, dried herbs, waxes, crystallised fruits, pollen, verbena, cannabis and precious hardwood resins. Immense! Mouth: Just stunning! The very best cannabis resin combined with new world hops, sweetened herbal cough medicines, long-aged yellow Chartreuse, lime infused olive oil, very old cream sherry, mint cordial and a kind of molten, glowing waxiness that sits at the heart of it all. It’s also rather coastal around the edges with a perfectly drying, nibbling salinity. Finish: immensely long, oily, waxy, salty and tautly fruity. Perfection! Comments: Probably the best Jura I ever tasted. The nose makes you think the palate cannot possibly go anywhere but slightly down, but then it just pitches for the stratosphere. And not a micro-quiver of any strange OBE to found anywhere.
SGP: 763 - 94 points.

 

 

We will inevitably end up on Islay. But first! A flying visit to Skye if you please…

 

 

Talisker 1998/2017 (56.6%, OB for Keepers Of The Quaich, cask #6829, refill sherry butt, 618 bottles)

Talisker 1998/2017 (56.6%, OB for Keepers Of The Quaich, cask #6829, refill sherry butt, 618 bottles)
A funny kind of quasi-official bottling done exclusively for the Keepers Of The Quiche, sorry, Quaich. An illustrious group of which Serge is recently also a member. Colour: gold. Nose: lovely and surprisingly soft and gentle with these notes of pink sea salt, gorse, wood embers, wildflowers, eucalyptus, sea greens and a very ethereal, wispy kind of peat smoke. Delicate, intricate and extremely attractive so far. With water: gets more towards sourdough and a kind of zingy yeasty acidity. Lemon juice, squid ink, hessian, miso and vapour rubs. Mouth: much bigger! Classically peppery with green peppercorns in brine, anchovy butter, chopped chives, seawater, iodine, sooty fabrics and some rather weighty smoked tea notes. With water: perfect now. Oily, peaty, peppery and showing a wonderfully fat coastality (that isn’t a word, but it should be dammit!) Things like bacon fat, camphor, paraffin and lamp oil. Gets really rather weighty and almost mechanical. Finish: long, earthy, vegetal, coastal, oily, peaty and with wee notes of preserved lemons, dried flowers and wood smoke. Comments: It is one of the whisky world’s great travesties that these had all sold out by the time Serge was persuaded to join. Hopefully he can hang in there until they get a Keeper’s single cask Brora around 2028…
SGP: 466 - 91 points.

 

 

Talisker 1960/1979 (75 proof, Berry Brothers & Rudd)

Talisker 1960/1979 (75 proof, Berry Brothers & Rudd)
Colour: gold. Nose: a beautiful mix of crystallised and fresh exotic fruits - mango, papaya, guava, passion fruit - alongside this rather leathery old, salty dry sherry and an impression of old sweet Loire chenin. In time it’s this stunning fruitiness that really rises up and dominates. Although you also get these wonderful wee hints of herbal liqueurs, natural tar, damp pipe tobacco and rather peppery cured game meat. Just feels wonderfully full, complete, complex and at the same time cohesive. Mouth: as with all these old whiskies, even at 43% they still kick! Much more direct peat on the palate. Dried seaweed, smoked paprika, natural tar extract, old medicines, herbal bitters and a more submerged fruitiness that feels drier and more ‘preserved’ as opposed to ‘fresh’. Still this wonderfully resinous and leathery old school sherry quality inveigling everything. Finish: endlessly long and meandering through all manner of dark and exotic fruits, dry earthy peat smoke tinged with heather, herbs, cocktail bitters, mint tea, game meats and a kind of thready, smoky rancio. Comments: like the Jura, this is just in another class entirely. A style, combination and concentration of flavours which simply doesn’t exist in today’s whisky universe sadly. The power even at 43% in itself is really something to behold.
SGP: 564 - 93 points.

 

 

And so, to Islay and the Old Kiln Cafe…

 

 

Ardbeg 9 yo 1998/2008 (57.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #33.68 ‘Honeycomb smoke’)

Ardbeg 9 yo 1998/2008 (57.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #33.68 ‘Honeycomb smoke’)
Colour: gold. Nose: wonderfully fresh and evocative, bath salts, crab sticks, coal smoke, peaty kiln air, malt vinegar, antiseptic and iodine. Terrific and immediately makes you think ‘Islay!’. With water: straighter, smokier, drier, notes of bailed hay, peat embers, muddy seawater and fishing wellies. Mouth: coal tar soap, heather smoke, bouillon, more fragrant bath salts, mineral oils, pumice, flint smoke, jasmine tea, lapsing souchong, dried mint and smoked lemons. Unusual but extremely good. There are points when you would think of a 1989 Bowmore that’s just on the perfume cusp - but falls the right side. With water: again this wonderfully floral, mineral salt side remains undimmed. Fragrant, coastal, evocative, lightly citric, gently ashy and some notes of sandalwood and seaweed broth. Finish: long, ashy, salty, hyper fresh, faintly medicinal and with this wonderfully fragrant ‘floaty’ peaty flavour in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m a big fan of this one. It’s an Ardbeg that kind of winks in the direction of 80s Bowmore without going near those kinds of extremes. I think the freshness, complexity and distinctiveness are all highly impressive. Worth seeking out I’d say. And proof that they were making some rock solid distillate in the late 90s under Glenmorangie.
SGP: 356 - 90 points.

 

 

Ardbeg 23 yo 1993/2017 (52.4%, Cadenhead, 175th Anniversary Tasting Session, bourbon hogshead)

Ardbeg 23 yo 1993/2017 (52.4%, Cadenhead, 175th Anniversary Tasting Session, bourbon hogshead)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: extraordinarily pure and powerful with a real blast furnace of peat coming at you out of the glass. Charred whelks, petrol, pure seawater, kelp, bonfire embers and fresh lemon juice. I wouldn’t say it’s super complex, but rather it’s the purity, precision and sheer beauty of the flavours which is so thrilling and striking. Was 1993 the most inconsistent year for Ardbeg? The quality seems to have been all over the place. With water: gets almost hyper saline, fresh, citric and pure. Some wispy notes of smoky wood ashes, dried seaweed, rock pools and medical balms and vapour rubs. Mouth: reminiscent of some 1978s with this almost diesel-esque dirtiness. Big, glycerol peat, fat maltiness, hugely smoky, tarry, black olives in brine, miso broth, umami paste, TCP, iodine drops and sheep wool oils. Powerhouse, brilliant Ardbeg. With water: salty, peaty, wonderfully oily, fat and still showing this almost greasy boiler smoke grubbiness that carries with it black olive tapenade and anchovy paste. Finish: long, rather lemony (preserved lemons), lots of gauze, bandages, herbal mouthwash, antiseptic and iodine. And peat! Comments: Clearly the purifier wasn’t working… But seriously, what on earth was going on at Ardbeg in 1993? Some were only so so, while examples like this are sitting confidently alongside - or even above - many 70s counterparts. Anyway, what a cask!
SGP: 368 - 93 points.

 

 

And now, off to the Isle Of Man… perhaps not, I think this session has gone on long enough. But much fun was had thought.

 

 

Big hugs to KC and Andy.

 

 

 

 

April 3, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Travelling around the world from my tasting room

I know, not the most unusual idea in this time of confinement at home. I suppose all ‘bloggers’ and journos are doing this too these days… With books, movies, music, whiskies, food, wine, beer… How about South Africa -> Japan -> Sweden -> India -> Ireland -> England -> Taiwan -> USA -> Israel -> France.

Three Ships 7 yo (55.1%, OB for Whisky Brothers, South Africa, Moscato cask finish, 716 bottles, +/-2020)

Three Ships 7 yo (55.1%, OB for Whisky Brothers, South Africa, Moscato cask finish, 716 bottles, +/-2020) Four stars
This baby stems from Distell’s James-Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington, near Cape Town. Probably a very good starting point, despite the muscat finish… Colour: gold. Nose: as we always say, vive la difference! No muscat or moscatel or moscato in sight though, rather quite a lot of toasted brown bread, Jamaica coffee, touches of lapsang souchong, and just barrowloads of cocoa. Very dry, pretty much what I like. Oh and perhaps, if I may, unsweetened rooibos? With water: no real changes. No problems. Or perhaps a little more bread dough? Leaven? Mouth (neat): perhaps some muscatel, but I’m getting no loco rose petals, extreme litchis or, well, straight muscat grapes or wine. Rather cinnamon rolls, chocolate, pink grapefruits, coffee and oranges. With water: very good. Wholegrain bread with bits of candied fruit and raisins inside. Finish: rather long, back on chocolate, coffee, bread and black tea. Or yeah, rooibos. Comments: I say as long as the wines don’t feel too much, they can do all the craziest finishings they like! Very good, this crafty  little Three Ships, and well done Mark and gang.
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Akashi (62%, OB, Eigashima, Japan, 394 bottles)

Akashi (62%, OB, Eigashima, Japan, 394 bottles) Five stars
It’s all written in Japanese here, so I couldn’t quite tell you much about this little White Oak, but I’m sure some Japanese friends will tell us more on social media. Colour: deep gold. Nose: impressive. Papaya cake, acacia honey, mirabelles, halva, pear tarte and maple syrup. Anyone against this should be locked up. Well, we almost are actually, but I love this nose. With water: the bready smells come out. That’s like when Frank Zappa starts the guitar solo in any tune. Mouth (neat): not whisky, rather a sin. Vanilla cream, honey, Cointreau, maple syrup, Mandarine Impériale, raisin rolls, cupcake, sponge fingers… With water: rather exceptional. I’m sure this is young, but the maturity is perfect. Custard and cakes all over the place, cereals, scones… Finish: long, rounded, creamy, cake-y, wit this orangey signature that just always works. Comments: Chichibu and Akashi, and perhaps Mars, when not ‘bastardised’ with unlikely woods and wines or whatever they can put their hands on, sure have become the leaders of J-whisky these days. Well, that’s my take. So guys, what is this exactly? Vintage? Age?
SGP:551 - 90 points.
Update:
it's a 4yo Cabernet Franc finish, distilled 2015, bottled in 2020, 61%abv, 394 bottles, selected by Stefan Van Eycken and Hideo Yamaoka (Ghost Series no.14).

Mackmyra 2016/2019 (53.6%, OB for Dirty Dicks, Sweden, peated oloroso, cask #15-1108)

Mackmyra 2016/2019 (53.6%, OB for Dirty Dicks, Sweden, peated oloroso, cask #15-1108) Two stars
What what what? Was this authorised by the Swedish government? Colour: gold. Nose: say some lapsang souchong poured over white asparagus, fresh croissants, garden earth and fresh tree sawdust in a Swedish forest. With water: dairy cream, yoghurt, heavy custard, then juniper, cloves and caraway. We’ve moved towards aquavit, it seems. Mouth (neat): peculiar, unusual, very pine-y and ridden with honeydew and deep-smoked salmon. Never tasted something like this, it’s quite some concoction. Fir wood cask? With water: goes a little too far from me, too extractive, acrid, pine-y… I would say just do not add any waters of any kinds to this baby. Finish: a feeling of having quaffed essential oils, or sauna stuff. But some sides are funny, should you enjoy anything resinous.  Comments: fun stuff. Perhaps not the very definition of ‘balance’ if you ask me but there, it’ fun. It hates water, by the way.
SGP:284 - 75 points.

OK, a wild card for Sweden…

High Coast 5 yo ‘Atmosfär’ (46%, OB, for SAS, Sweden, bourbon, 2148 bottles, 2020)

High Coast 5 yo ‘Atmosfär’ (46%, OB, for SAS, Sweden, bourbon, 2148 bottles, 2020) Four stars
Remember, High Coast is the former Box Distillery. This is exclusive to SAS airline’s business class. Not the best timing I suppose but hey, good news for us unintended pedestrians. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s fresh, with good sweet oak, barley, sweet ale, oranges, apricot bread, cassata and orangettes (candied orange zests). Mouth: really good, malty, barley-y, on oranges, milk chocolate, Jaffa cakes, custard, soft nutmeg and ginger, blueberry muffins, and a tiny touch of eucalyptus. Modern malt whisky made properly. Finish: medium, on butterscotch, bonbons and green tea. Comments: a good example of a proper new-wave malt whisky made with the good specs, and using good wood.
SGP: 551 - 85 points.

Rampur ‘Signature Reserve’ (43.9%, OB, India, decanter, cask #1292, 150 bottles, 2019)

Rampur ‘Signature Reserve’ (43.9%, OB, India, decanter, cask #1292, 150 bottles, 2019) Four stars
A celebratory bottling that came out in 2019. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a curious, but pretty sexy blend of wood and furniture dusts and polishes (wax, wood…) with tropical fruits (mangos first) and pink pepper, hops, violets, wee hints of rosewater, honey…. Mouth: very good, very fruity, tropical, with even pineapples beyond the usual mangos and passion fruits. Juicy fruity, touches of pomegranates… It’s really extremely fruity, with a small sappy side growing in the background. Pine sap. Finish: medium and extremely fruity. Some kind of fruity wood in the back, hard to describe. Tropical wood? Comments: extremely good, demonstrative and exuberant. Could be that Rampur would be the most ‘Indian’ of them all Indian malts as far as flavours are concerned, the others being a tad more ‘world’. Or yeah, ‘Scottish’ (Amrut, Paul John…)
SGP: 741- 86 points.

Teeling 27 yo 1991/2019 (44.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Ireland, rum cask, cask #10678, 160 bottles)

Teeling 27 yo 1991/2019 (44.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Ireland, rum cask, cask #10678, 160 bottles) Five stars
In theory, and just between us, this should stem from those casks that Diageo had sold before they got rid of the distillery. We’re talking about Bushmills, but indeed, pure speculations… Colour: gold. Nose: bananas mangos maracujas guavas oranges tangerines prickly pears. Long story short, vitamins. Mouth: incredible. bananas mangos maracujas guavas oranges tangerines prickly pears. Long story short, vitamins. Finish: medium, a tad more citrusy. Comments: bombastic fruitiness. Why the owners, be them Pernod Ricard or later Diageo, never released such single casks while they were at the helm remains one of whisky’s most mysterious, err, mysteries.
SGP:741 - 92 points.

English Whisky Company 11 yo 2007/2019 (49.8%, North Star Spirits, UK, Burgundy red wine, 330 bottles)

English Whisky Company 11 yo 2007/2019 (49.8%, North Star Spirits, UK, Burgundy red wine, 330 bottles) Two stars
Fear not! Colour: apricot. Nose: reminds me of Signatory Vintage’s first Port Ellen finished in pinot noir. Or was it Pomerol? Used matches, gunpowder, truffles and gas, then cassis leaves and buds. Not the easiest nose ever, that’s for sure. Mouth: some fun to be had here. Manure, cabbage, cork, cherry stem tea, black olives (really), leek, salsify… What a strange juice, really. Finish: long, bitter, dry, on more black olives, tapenade, Jägermeister, lapsang souchong… Comments: some crazy mutant juice produced in England. I’m sure you could make a fantastic spritz out of it, but just don’t use Krug. English bubbly would work well, I’m sure. Peace…
SGP: 374- 72 points.

Kavalan 2006/2014 ‘Golden Gate Sunset’ (58.6%, OB, USA, Taiwan, sherry, cask #S060710001, 479 bottles)

Kavalan 2006/2014 ‘Golden Gate Sunset’ (58.6%, OB, USA, Taiwan, sherry, cask #S060710001, 479 bottles) Five stars
We have hundreds of Kavalans to taste. Really. One day, after the virus, we’ll do the mother of all Kavalan tastings, I swear, cross my heart! In the meantime… Colour: ristretto coffee. Nose: coffee, chocolate, patchouli, camphor, furniture polish, Chinese prune juice. I keep forgetting the name of that sauce that our Chinese friends are serving with Peking duck. Getting old, perhaps… With water: pretty sublime. Extremely well balanced, on more of that sauce (Chinese friends, help!) and the most complex chocolate there is. Blackberry ganache, mole sauce, grilled steak, humidor, walnut stain… Oh wow! Mouth (neat): fabtastic prunes, cigars, chocolate, coffee, Corinth currants… With water: just amazing. Bitter oranges, chocolate, turmeric, old Armagnac, mocha, proper oloroso… Finish: long, beautifully dry, all on tobacco, coffee and chocolate. Comments: we’ve always been wondering how they were doing this. The fact is the end result is just amazing.
SGP:362 - 91 points.

Ransom WhipperSnapper (42%, OB, USA, Oregon spirit, +/- 2019)

Ransom WhipperSnapper (42%, OB, USA, Oregon spirit, +/- 2019)
LOL, this is 1 years old ‘on average’. But this is Oregon, baby, the wild wild West! 80% maize and 20% barley (both malted and unmalted - naturally). No rye in this mash bill, apparently. All right,  just for the fun of it… Colour: deep gold. Nose: butter, custard, geraniums, juniper, kippers, baby’s milk, sawdust, and really a lot of nutmeg. It’s nutmeg galore! Mouth: between Norwegian aquavit and Danziger Goldwasser, with a lot of stale cream in the background. Sour, difficult, unlikely. An old bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream and some readymade custard in Tetra Pak. As a whisky, pass. Finish: forget. Oak spices on probation. Comments: it’s funny, it’s nice-ish and friendly, but frankly, it isn’t very good. I’m not even sure you could use it in a cocktail, it would probably wreck your Manhattan. And I think I’m being kind.
SGP:341 - 40 points.

Milk & Honey ‘Founder’s Edition’ (57%, OB, Israel, 1000 bottles, 2019)

Milk & Honey ‘Founder’s Edition’ (57%, OB, Israel, 1000 bottles, 2019) Three stars
We’re in Tel Aviv now. This was matured in bourbon and STR, and then finished in, cough, PX. Any distiller’s friend, all over the world ! (perhaps just not in Spain, ha-ha). Anyway, the M&Hs I could already try have all been pretty much to my liking. Colour: pale amber. Nose: you do feel something’s been going on with the woods, as I’m rather finding notes of cranberries, a pack of orange drops, some kinds of fruity spices, Easter sugar eggs (how timely), raspberries and grenadine and old barrique. Very bonbony! With water: the old barrique tends to try to have the upper hand. Mouth (neat): big, on green pepper, turmeric, raisins, leaves, more raspberries, and perhaps kumquats. A lot of ginger from the oak in the background. With water: water works well and would rather favour the bourbon. I shall not complain. Touch of salt too. Finish: rather long, leafy, with more ginger and turmeric – in short oak spices. Having said that, it’s not too, say ‘unpredictably funny’. More custard and butterscotch in the aftertaste – see, bourbon!  Comments: not my preferred style (the one for LMDW was pretty great last year) but I think it’s a very fine malt and that they coped well with the acrobatic handling of the casks they’ve chosen.
SGP:651 - 82 points.

Good, back home and we’re done.

Eddu 2004/2019 (45%, OB, Pure Malt, 654 bottles)

Eddu 2004/2019 (45%, OB, Pure Malt, 654 bottles) Four stars
Yes we’ve spared you Bastille or Brenne. De nada. Now this is unusual, as it’s old malted buckwheat from the Distillerie des Menhirs in Plomelin, in the Finistère, in Brittany. Finistère means ‘the end of land’. They’ve only done a few casks of malt at the beginning of their venture, so this is very rare. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know you could malt buckwheat. Colour: gold. Nose: you would believe you’re nosing a crêpe, with some wheat, buckwheat, some good bread, touches of oranges, gooseberries, perhaps kiwis, then puréed chestnuts and a spoonful of Cointreau. Quite a lot of Cointreau, in fact. There’s an unusual kind of breadiness, pretty pleasant I have to say. Mouth: really very funny, and really very unusual. Calvados, pear eau-de-vie, kirsch, brioche, then orange blossom, oriental pastries and once again a touch of kiwi. Finish: the thing is, I find this pretty un-whisky, but really very good. Nice vanilla and baked butter pears in the aftertaste. Poiré (pear cider). Comments: a very good surprise, and more proof that good whisky does not always have to taste like Clynelish. I mean, Macallan.
SGP:741 - 86 points.
 

April 2, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
today Tomatin

I say we don’t do enough Tomatin sessions! A few expressions that I had never tried before reached our doorstep in recent months, so time for a fight while remembering that in the old days, well twenty years ago, Tomatin was mainly known for being a huge distillery. But some have built or expanded much larger ones since back then. Meanwhile, a little message from a severely confined Alsace: stay safe, don’t drink too much, and take heart!

Tomatin ‘Five Virtues – Earth’ (46%, OB, +/-2019)

Tomatin ‘Five Virtues – Earth’ (46%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
An NAS peated Tomatin. Some start to hope that the current crisis would eradicate all NASses, but let’s not wish the crisis will be this hard. But indeed it would be welcome if everyone would now go back to proper age statements for the malts. Colour: white wine. Nose: some kind of smoked apple juice, I would say. Whiffs of varnish and fresh paint as well, but I find the whole harsh and rather charmless. Similar to a too young Ardmore. Mouth: no, peat without anything either coastal or medicinal creates rather vulgar sensations. In this case, this is too bitter and grassy for me. Finish: medium, very leafy. Nicer notes of kiwi juice after that, and a little brine in the aftertaste. Comments: let’s not be too harsh, this is fine whisky, but does the whisky world need this?
SGP:564 - 78 points.

Tomatin 15 yo 2003/2018 ‘Moscatel Wine’ (46%, OB, Moscatel)

Tomatin 15 yo 2003/2018 ‘Moscatel Wine’ (46%, OB) Two stars
The label wouldn’t say if this is only a finish, but I guess so. It’s also a Limited Edition, so not obligatorily bad news. Colour: gold. Nose: a little vague and imprecise, between malted barley, rubber bands, and indeed something a little muscatty and a touch dirty, like an empty old wine barrel lying in a corner. I don’t find it sulphury, having said that. Mouth: I find this difficult, too leathery, with just layers of apricot jam that did not mingle too well yet with the grassy notes. Not too sure, really. Tomatin 15 au naturel anytime against this, even a miniature for a bottle. Finish: rather long but really lacking integration. A spoonful of apricot jam in a cup of chicory coffee. Comments: to its credit, it’s true that I’m never a huge fan of these improbable mixtures.
SGP:561 - 75 points.

Tomatin 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017)

Tomatin 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: nicer, obviously cleaner, with proper malt and proper fruits this time, even if we remain far from older-type Tomatins that used to display bags of tropical fruits. Nice overripe apples, fruit peelings, watermelons, a spoonful of muesli, some porridge… All that is nice. Mouth: there, this is good! Oranges and cornflakes, pancake syrup, touches of melons and, indeed, papayas, a little heather honey, toasted bread, and a wee feeling of muffin (with a not to FZ and the good captain). Finish: medium, slightly roasted, fruity, balanced, clean, malty. Comments: perhaps not an utter star yet, but we’re already in the upper leagues.
SGP:541 - 84 points.

Tomatin 'Legacy' (43%, OB, +/-2017)

Tomatin 'Legacy' (43%, OB, +/-2017) Four stars and a half
We had tried an earlier version of this NAS in 2012 and were not flabbergasted at all (WF 72). Mind you, they’ve used virgin oak, one of the crutches of modern malt whisky. No age statement and virgin oak, that’s just bad news in my book, but I shan’t pinch my nose just now… Colour: gold. Nose: no no no, this is perfectly fine, with nice whiffs of Fruit Loops, crushed bananas, acacia honey, Belgian waffle and even popcorn. That’s well-handled virgin oak. Mouth: oooh they had been working on the recipe! I find this really good, balanced, with these notes of tarte tatin, guavas, notes of white Rhône wine (white Hermitage while we’re at it) and a very delicate leafiness. Say silver needle tea, they should come out in April I guess, but will that stupid virus let them travel to our shores? Finish: medium, still clean and fresh. Ore white tea, that’s cool. Comments: really an excellent drop, thank you Tomatin. Ans stay safe.
SGP:651 - 88 points.
PS: I’ll say it again, if I may, the NAS issues are not about quality, they’re about transparency and prices.

Tomatin 26 yo 1988/2015 (54%, OB, for Taiwan, oloroso sherry, cask # 950378, 402 bottles)

Tomatin 26 yo 1988/2015 (54%, OB, for Taiwan, oloroso sherry, cask # 950378, 402 bottles) Five stars
Still the older livery. I have to say it was classy. Colour: deep amber. Nose: perfect oloroso, that is to say Assam tea, walnut wine, raw cocoa, mocha, marrow, cigars, and a touch of tar. That’s the expurgated version of my note, right? With water: no rubber or used matches out, so thumbs still up! Mouth (neat): love this. Eating your cigar after having crunched some crude chocolate and sipped some late 19th century Armagnac. There’s worse sherried whisky. With water: some old Macallans 15 yos. Why have they broken (or lost) the moulds? Stunning coffee-ish dryness, coffee freaks should love this. You know, cold-brewed and stuff. Finish: medium, dry, more on old walnuts again, oloroso (VORS) and proper chocolate. Like, dark chocolate at 80 or 90% cocoa. Comments: as good as it gets. Well done Tomatin, Taiwan, and anybody involved. Now indeed, if you dislike dark chocolate, rather go your way.
SGP:462 – 91 points.

Good, looks like we’ve been able to rectify a precarious situation (get a hold of yourself, S.!) so over to the indies now…

Tomatin 12 yo 2006/2019 (58.1%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon hogshead, cask # #800230, 219 bottles)

Tomatin 12 yo 2006/2019 (58.1%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon hogshead, cask # #800230, 219 bottles) Four stars
I thought SCN and its inceptors have always done some pretty unusual choices, always a bit off the beaten tracks, and I say that’s what we should be expecting from some proper indie bottlers. I’m still in love with their latest Angostura, for example. Colour: white wine. Nose: neat, square, tidy and clean. Apples, gooseberries, green pears and proper cider. With water: same. Mouth (neat): well done! Orchard fruits coated with a wee coconut and custard sauce. An aggressive grassiness in the back, but water should sort this out. With water: indeed, this has become a fruit salad sprinkled with, well, with some Tomatin (ooh that’s smart, S.) Finish: medium, malty, with a little café latte. Comments: no hacking here, it’s exquisitely simple, honest and just very good.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Tomatin 11 yo 2008/2019 (56.1%, Artful Dodger, bourbon, cask #453, 323 bottles)

Tomatin 11 yo 2008/2019 (56.1%, Artful Dodger, bourbon, cask #453, 323 bottles) Four stars
All right, let’s try to beat the shortest-tasting-note for a cask strength whisky record… Colour: white wine. Nose: butterscotch. With water: same. Mouth (neat): malt, liquorice and chicory. With water: fab pumpernickel and butterscotch. Finish: long, malty, grassier, perfect. Touch of chlorophyll in the aftertaste. Comments: don’t get me wrong, it’s much more complex than that, but I’m having a go at minimalism. No, not at frugalism! Good, experiment over, let’s move on…
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Good, plenty more, but a last one.

Tomatin 24 yo 1993/2017 (53.2%, Blackadder, Raw Cask Statement, hogshead, sherry finish, cask #9727, 190 bottles)

Tomatin 24 yo 1993/2017 (53.2%, Blackadder, Raw Cask Statement, hogshead, sherry finish, cask #9727, 190 bottles) Four stars
What kind of statement would this be? Colour: coffee. Nose: well, this is only a poor finish, but it was well done, even if in no way it can match a perfect full-term maturation. Some gunpowder and struck matches for sure, then liquorice, fig cake, and sultanas.. When is Christmas again? With water: meats and tar. And a little coal tar and burnt sulphur. Mouth (neat): good for sure, earthy and even sooty, tarry, then on black raisins and that Christmas cake. A wee miso-y side. With water: the sulphur feels more. Some love it, some don’t, it’s true that it’s bordering umami paste. Finish: long, leathery and rubbery, salty, bouillony, soupy. A very controversial style indeed. Comments: un-scorable, some would say 90, others would just sink it or use it to make hand gel.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Stay safe, see you!

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

 

April 1, 2020


Whiskyfun

BREAKING NEWS

All distilleries all over the world now producing ethanol for making hydroalcoholic solutions to help fight the Coronavirus COVID-19

 

Millions of Litres of Hand Sanitiser Returned to Scottish Distilleries Because They Had Been Finished in PX!

Edinburgh, April 1, 2020 - Mildred MacDougall, Chief Nurse at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh told us on the phone, “We couldn’t use them, really, as our hands were becoming much too gluey. One of the nurses ended up with her hands stuck together and she now looks like she’s saying Namaste all day long. Our hands having gotten orange should be no real problem though, there are bigger issues these days. Oh and while I’m at it, stay the f*ck at home!”

 

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

March 2020

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Laphroaig 21 yo 1998/2019 (54.4%, The Whisky Exchange, The Perfect Measure, oloroso, cask #117, 322 bottles) - WF 93

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Ardbeg 1975/1999 (43%, OB) - WF 92

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Crabbie 12 yo (43%, Single malt, Highland, +/-2019)  - WF 86

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Worthy Park 12 yo 2007/2020 (58%, Thompson Brothers for The Whisky Exchange, Jamaica) - WF 90

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Barcelo ‘Anejo’ (37.5%, OB, Dominican Republic, Spanish market, +/-2019)  - WF 15

March 2020 - part 2 <--- April 2020 - part 1 ---> April 2020 - part 2


 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Lagavulin 40 yo 1979/2019 (49.1%, The Syndicate, cask #112, 188 bottles)

Lochside 20 yo 1981/2001 (61.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, sherry butt, #92.9)

Orkney 15 yo 2002/2018 ‘ Super Bottle’ (56%, Whiskay, cask #0002, 258 bottles)

Tomatin 26 yo 1988/2015 (54%, OB, for Taiwan, oloroso sherry, cask # 950378, 402 bottles)

Akashi (62%, OB, Eigashima, Japan, 394 bottles)

Chichibu 10 yo 2008/2019 (59.9%, OB, TMC 10th Anniversary, bourbon barrel)

Kavalan 2006/2014 ‘Golden Gate Sunset’ (58.6%, OB, USA, Taiwan, sherry, cask #S060710001, 479 bottles)

Teeling 27 yo 1991/2019 (44.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Ireland, rum cask, cask #10678, 160 bottles)

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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