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Hi, you're in the Archives, August 2020 - Part 2

       

August 2020 - part 1 <--- August 2020 - part 2 ---> September 2020 - part 1

 

August 31, 2020


Whiskyfun

Special Releases Special, today Lagavulin

Now that they neither do Port Ellen nor Brora within the SRs anymore, some may believe that the Lagavulin has become the peated jewel of the crown. But not so fast, we’ve already seen that the Talisker 8, even if finished (but smartly finished in Jamaican rum), was quite a jewel too…  As for the sparring partner, I suppose our friend the 16 will be in order…

Lagavulin 16 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2019)

Lagavulin 16 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2019) Four stars and a half
Hold on comrade, the last time I tried the 16 that was in 2015! Shame shame shame… Colour: gold. Nose: ah I remember, the feeling of a brand new scuba diving suit, with a wee curry-and-raisins mix (tajine), touch of leather, and bags of seashells, clams, oysters… Then the much expected marmalade, tar, cigars, lapsang souchong, the engine of an old Jaguar (so yeah, dirty engine oil)…  So nutshell, smoking a cigar and drinking smoked tea in a diver’s outfit, while driving an XJS. As a Frenchman, I imagine that’s a pretty common situation within the Britannic gentry, no? Mouth: as good as usual, perhaps a wee tad sweeter? Perhaps not, I have no point of comparison at hand, but I often have Lagavulin 16 when at a restaurant, or a bar. It’s very widely available in France, which is a blessing. So, smoked tea, tar, black olives, marmalade, burnt raisins, brine, liquorice, leather, smoked oysters… I believe it's even good that they bottle it at 43%, since that makes it ‘easier’ in casual situations (such as at restaurants or bars). Finish: medium, with touches of curry, seawater, tar, earth, orange zests… Comments: It's a bottle you can trust. After all, it’s 16 years old, you cannot rush that. Isn’t the 16 one of the remaining heirs of the period known as the Whisky Loch? High score quasi-unchanged, same ballpark as that of Talisker 10 in my book.
SGP:567 - 89 points.

And so the new SR, with its rather 'Flora & Fauna' label...

Lagavulin 12 yo 2007/2020 (56.4%, OB, Special Releases 2020, refill American oak casks)

Lagavulin 12 yo 2007/2020 (56.4%, OB, Special Releases 2020, refill American oak casks) Five stars
It’s true that we haven’t tried the 2019 yet. Do not worry, we’ll have it right after this one. By the way, there’s an eagle on the label but it doesn’t look like it’s one of the island’s famous white-tailed sea eagles. Ha, graphic designers! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: ultra-precise, millimetric, vertical and pure at first, and perhaps not as boldly smoky as expected. There is ‘visiting the maltings’ though, but what I’m really getting is seawater, iodine, grapefruit juice and tangerines. One olive and some Barbour grease. The owners say it’s sweeter than last year’s and they may be right. With water: big fresh citrus, more lemons than oranges. Mouth (neat): fab, not extremely complex, but very extremely good in my opinion. Crushed olives, smoked almonds, avocado juice, lime juice, almond milk, citrons, a feeling of fumes, ashes, olive oil… Not too sure it’s that sweet having said that. The first time I’ve heard someone telling us that Lagavulin was very sweet that was while we were visiting the distillery, around Y2K. It was Pinkie (50 years in the industry this year!) and so after having listened to him we quaffed all our glasses – they were still pouring the 1970s - as if it was orange juice. It was the first and last time I walked out of a tasting room rearward… With water: excellent. Seawater, lemon juice, olive oil, lapsang souchong. More or less… Finish: long, a notch drier, smokier, and very ashy. The aftertaste is even ashier. Comments: so Lagavulin or Talisker this year? Both are superb, but I think I’m a tad more in favour of purity, and this Lagavulin is a little purer, I think.
SGP:457 - 91 points.

I really have the impression that Diageo are following the massive trend towards purity that we’re seeing in wine (and applauding profusely). Alright, we said we’d have the long-overdue 2019 too…

Lagavulin 12 yo (56.5%, OB, Special Releases 2019, refill American oak)

Lagavulin 12 yo (56.5%, OB, Special Releases 2019, refill American oak) Five stars
The 2020 is a single vintage (2007) but it seems that the 2019 was a multi-vintage. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: I agree the 2020 is a little sweeter and fruitier, whilst this one is just a blade that cuts you in half as Uma Thurman would in Kill Bill. Smoked mercurochrome, concrete dust, porridge, cigar ashes. Well well well, we’re extremely far from the 16 and the SR 2020 almost feels like tangerine juice now (of course I exaggerate)… With water: grist, tincture of iodine, elastoplast, charcoal. Mouth (neat): the differences are a little less obvious on the palate, but this is more pungent indeed, more mineral, creosote-y, with lemons that are greener than those in the 2019. Sends shivers in your spine, I’m thinking of the driest dry chenins. With water: more greenness. Do they make green lapsang souchong too? Finish: long, very dry and ashy. Cold cigar ashes – I agree, better have them cold. Comments: love them both, it’s a thrill to compare them, even if you could down 50cl of each trying to find all the nuances. Do not. Now it is absolutely true that the 2020 is sweeter and fruitier, but do not expect pomegranate juice.
SGP:367 - 91 points.

I adored them both. It's almost as if they had created a real vintage effect, similar to that in, say some white wines, with some rounder, sweeter years and some trenser, crisper, colder millésimes. This reeks of smartness and is so different from the 'hey let's dump everything into STR or PX' approach seen elsewhere. I know I'm exaggerating again, but barely...

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

 

August 30, 2020


Whiskyfun

The hunt for malternative rums continues

Let’s find interesting ones…

El Dorado ‘Versailles’ 2006/2018 (40%, OB, Guyana)

El Dorado ‘Versailles’ 2006/2018 (40%, OB, Guyana) Three stars
They had a superb official El Dorado Versailles 2002 back in 2015 (WF 90) but that one had been bottled at a much higher strength. These 40% are a little meh, aren’t they, but Versailles’ old single wooden still now located at Diamond is legendary. Colour: dark amber. Nose: perfect, love this, it’s full of lovage and roasted parsley, chestnut honey, English brown sauce, metal polish and engine oil, highly reduced caramel sauce, tar, liquorice… Looks like my fears were unfounded. Mouth: yes and no. Yes for the general very liquorice-y profile, no to the way it’s soon to nosedive, getting thin and extremely frustrating. Cooked caramel, tamarind, hot chocolate made with water rather than milk, glazed chestnuts, chestnut honey… The painting is lovely but the canvas is too thin, I would say. Finish: very short, leaving just touches of liquorice in your throat. Comments: what’s great is that I haven’t found any sugar in this one. A little more watts next time, please!
SGP:661 - 82 points.

Cihuatan 15 yo 2004/2019 (53.3%, OB, El Salvador, bourbon barrel, Exclusive to Premium Spirits Belgium, 228 bottles)

Cihuatan 15 yo 2004/2019 (53.3%, OB, El Salvador, bourbon barrel, Exclusive to Premium Spirits Belgium, 228 bottles) Four stars
A rather rare rum, it seems, which is talking to the Mayan gods when we’re not listening. That’s more or less its story as I understood it… A first to us, but there are so many rum brands that we’ve never, ever tried! Colour: gold. Nose: typical South-American, rather thin-bodied it seems, but certainly not light or too easy. Touches of tobacco, thyme tea, a little caramel and a little coffee, notes of burnt paper, molasses, charcoal… With water: more on dried grasses and herbs, hay, herbal teas, chamomile… That’s all pretty nice, especially since the burning charcoal is still there puffing in the background. Mouth (neat): a Spanish-style rum that I like, not too sweet, with good coffee and caramel, brownie, black nougat, marmalade… it really works despite the distillate’s relative thinness. With water: it rather reminds me of my favourite Cuban, Santiago de Cuba 11 years (WF 85). Finish: rather long, well-constructed, on molasses and honeys. Comments: I really enjoyed this one, and Vishnu knows this is not my preferred style of rum at all. Well done, Mayan gods! (did you buy that S.?)
SGP:541 - 85 points.

Foursquare 13 yo 2007/2020 (61.7%, Rasta Morris, cask #RM023, 239 bottles)

Foursquare 13 yo 2007/2020 (61.7%, Rasta Morris, cask #RM023, 239 bottles) Five stars
We’ve heard the very distinguished and talented bottler had chosen this brand name because one of his secret dreams was to sport dreadlocks like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. No, no fake news on WF! And yes my last will is written, dated and signed. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a subtle one it seems, you would almost believe this is Glenmo. Quite. Cakes, green bananas, cane juice, maple syrup, mountain honey, quinces, lime blossom… All gentleness despite the murderous ABV. Whiffs of lilies of the valley, perhaps wisteria. With water: water brings out sweet oak, vanilla, a touch of white asparagus, a little tapioca perhaps… It’s really not a petroly Foursquare at all, but this softer profile suits it well. Mouth (neat): very very good, tense and lime-y, this is almost lemon honey. It’s just a little too strong, cough, cough… With water: ah, the benzine comes out now, wee bits of olives, liquorice… But the lime-y core remains there. That’s excellent. Finish: medium and really very fresh. Perhaps a drop of absinth in the aftertaste. Comments: got to love a good barrel that behaves and never gets in the way. Excellent and totally a malternative in my Book of Jah.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

But of course, off to Jamaica…

Monymusk 24 yo 1995/2019 ‘EMB’ (67%, Velier, Villa Paradisetto, Jamaica)

Monymusk 24 yo 1995/2019 ‘EMB’ (67%, Velier, Villa Paradisetto, Jamaica) Five stars
EMB means this is a Plummer style, with moderate esters (125-175 grams per HLPA). The strength got totally lethal after 24 years in the tropics having said that, see you on the other side as Ozzy would have said… Colour: deep amber. Nose: I hadn’t found last week’s 2010 EMB extremely convincing, but this is something else, with magnificent tropical jams, especially mango jam, and some superb notes of honeysuckle honey. Now then again, 67% vol., you heard me right. With water: let’s let it simmer and whirl for a while… Right, it’s absolutely gorgeous, full of ripe bananas, mangos, papayas, aromatic herbs (verbena, wormwood, fennel), beeswax, honeys, oils (olive), drops of crisp sweet whites (Jurançon, sweet chenin, sweet riesling and such)… This is clearly a nose to marry. Mouth (neat): it’s superb, that’s all I’ll say just now. Stunning liquorice it seems, but quick… With water: you haven’t quite got the heavy tannins coming to the surface, which sometimes happens with some ullaged old rums aged in the tropics, rather a perfect tropical jamminess, some liquorice, a little tar, and just the faintest oaky grittiness. No problems. Finish: very long and curiously elegant. A complex tea mix with fruits and the softest spices. Only the aftertaste is a little tannic. Comments: to sum things up, this is some luminous tropical-fruity liquid liquorice. Never afraid.
SGP:662 - 91 points.

There’s a remaining slot I think…

Monymusk 22 yo 1997/2019 ‘EMB’ (67.9%, Giuseppe Begnoni, Jamaica, 442 bottles)

Monymusk 22 yo 1997/2019 ‘EMB’ (67.9%, Giuseppe Begnoni, Jamaica, 442 bottles) Four stars and a half
Right, this is an ‘EMB’ too but it says that the distillate contained 427.2 grams esters/HLPA. This is all way too complicated for me anyway, Scotch is so much simpler! By the way, Giuseppe Begnoni is a famous whisky collector and merchant from Bologna, Italy. It’s said that he’s choosing these strengths for his bottlings because ‘his Ferrari gains at least 50-hp whenever he pours a bottle or three into the gas tank.’ Again, no fake news on WF! (Mi scusi, Giuseppe). Colour: amber. Nose: indeed, more esters, more olives, capers, brine, liquorice, tar, leatherette, new tyres, crabs, seaweed… And it doesn’t even burn mind you. With water: typical estery Monymusk, less ‘blade-y’ than Hampden or Worthy Park, but with perfect tropical jam/salty liquorice and tar integration. Also old magazines, petrol, engine oil… and oranges! There are more oranges than elsewhere for sure. Mouth (neat): huge liquorice. Let’s move on… With water: salty fruit, tar, some raw chocolate, coffee beans, a little burnt wood, some salt… I have to say it’s not easy to have the amount of water right, as H2O also awakens the tannicity. Finish: long, salty, clearly phenolic, a tad rough and pretty espresso-y. Comments: a very tough baby and a reckless fighter. It will never give up easy!
SGP:563 - 89 points.

(Thank you a lot Robert)

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

 

August 29, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Further Speystuff
As threatened at the closing of proceedings last week: here’s some more! Although, I have to say, I do rather enjoy quite a few of these various assorted mature Speysiders. They possess an easy fruitiness whose charms it is hard not to be taken in by. It’s just all this anonymity is rather frustrating and feels almost petty - especially when a few enquiries can often unveil the identities.

 

For example, quite a few of these early 1990s ‘Speyside single malts’ are in fact Glenlivet (and rumours also abound about Glenfarclas). Given the rather embarrassing levels of pleasure to be had in their consumption would it not be better for the distillery name to sit on the label and hoover up the credit? And that goes for any cloaked distillery by the way. We’ll kick off with a few more of those anonymous Speysiders then perhaps we’ll visit some ‘out and proud’ examples.

 

 

Speyside 26 yo 1994/2020 (48.1%, WhiskyNerds, cask #30, hogshead, 324 bottles)

Speyside 26 yo 1994/2020 (48.1%, WhiskyNerds, cask #30, hogshead, 324 bottles)
Colour: light gold. Nose: super easy and barley fresh! Again this wonderful combination of natural barley sweetness, light sunflower oil and rather luscious green fruits. Also wee touches of grass, gooseberry, pineapple jelly and hand cream. A light profile but extremely expressive and ‘generous’. Mouth: a little more punchy on arrival with a white pepper-tinged attack, dry cereals, dusty malt, lemon barley water, iced vanilla sponge cake and a wee scatter of pollens and dried flowers. Drier than the nose suggested but no worse off for it. Finish: medium and full of crunchy breakfast cereals, runny honey, soda bread and things like lime cordial and lemon curd. Comments: Quite simply another super easy mature Speysider. Goes down with almost embarrassing ease.
SGP: 641 - 87 points.

 

 

Secret Speyside 25 yo 1994/2019 (51.9%, The Good Spirits ‘Celebrating the friendship of Casky and The Good Spirits’, puncheon)

Secret Speyside 25 yo 1994/2019 (51.9%, The Good Spirits ‘Celebrating the friendship of Casky and The Good Spirits’, puncheon)
Bottled by/for our friends in Hong Kong. Love and solidarity to all our friends over there in HK. Colour: deep gold. Nose: what’s fun is that you do get a wee leathery touch of sherry at first which makes for a nice variation on this style. Biscuity, slightly earthy and mulchy with elegant notes of darjeeling tea, old leather, hints of miso and bouillon stock. Some dried bundles of flowers, talcum powder and pollen. Very elegant and subtle. With water: greener, leafier and with this nice petrichor forest freshness that would imply mosses and ferns. Also hints of lemon peel in green tea and sweet malt extracts. Mouth: that soft sherry side carries through nicely. Rather nutty, almondy, olive oil, dried orange peel, herbal teas, pollens, tea tree oil and matcha. Bitter lemon and some hints of caraway. With water: indeed it gets a few notches sweeter with these biscuity tones, lemon barley water, light sooty touches and hazelnut spread. Finish: good length and gently drying with rolling tobacco leaf, hops, vegetable stock, fresh barley and a light earthiness. Comments: The sherry integrated itself with tiptoes here and the result is a very enjoyable variation on a theme.
SGP: 551 - 88 points.

 

 

Speyside Region 28 yo 1992/2020 (45.6%, Lonely Mountain Studio, bourbon barrel, 278 bottles)

Speyside Region 28 yo 1992/2020 (45.6%, Lonely Mountain Studio, bourbon barrel, 278 bottles)
This from our friend and cigar chomper in chief Edward Zeng. He’s put a picture of one of his dad’s chairs on the label which I find quite funny. Colour: straw. Nose: the one exhibition this much more direct grassy and luscious green fruit style again. It’s also got this super zingy mix of nettles, gooseberry, chalk and lime which inevitably brings to mind some crisp Loire sauvignon. Behind that you have tiny touches of pollens, lemon zest and light cereals. I just adore this profile. Mouth: wonderful tension on arrival between these sharper green fruits and acidity on one hand, and straightforward cereals, flowers, butter and grassy olive oil on the other. You even get these wee touches of hessian and peppery wax in the background too. Finish: medium and getting very peppery and punchy, full of buttery cereals, white pepper, lemon zest and a few herbal teas. Comments: I have it on high authority that this is in fact Glenlivet. I have to say, this one really shows the perfect balance of fruits, freshness, cereals and just the right amount of power to carry everything through loud and clear. Just pure pleasure.
SGP: 641 - 89 points.

 

 

I think we will remain with in Speyside but shift to named distilleries in pairs now.…

 

 

Aberlour 19 yo 1974 (46%, First Cask, cask #11024)

Aberlour 19 yo 1974 (46%, First Cask, cask #11024)
These First Cask bottlings for Direct Wines all came from Signatory and the series actually shelters many fine drams in my experience. Colour: bright straw. Nose: very typical ‘light’ Speyside, so honeys, pollens, heather flowers, bailed hay, lighter notes of hessian, lemon peel. Overall on the drier and leaner side too I’d add. Attractive but somewhat simple. Mouth: cereals, a little mead, very faint waxes, some linseed oil, some freshly laundered fabrics, perhaps some grassy rapeseed oil. It’s very pleasant but it’s not setting my world on fire I’m afraid. Finish: short, buttery, cereal slight sweetness of condensed milk. Comments: Ok, so this perhaps wasn’t one of the best First Casks out there. There are many better Aberlours about.
SGP: 541 - 80 points.

 

 

Aberlour 25 yo 1993/2019 (54.1%, The Whisky Exchange ‘Single Casks’, cask #7366, 162 bottles)

Aberlour 25 yo 1993/2019 (54.1%, The Whisky Exchange ‘Single Casks’, cask #7366, 162 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: much better! Although you do spot similarities with these big bright notes of honey, natural vanilla, a very easy green fruitiness, sunflower oil, starched canvass, buttered toast and rather a lot of greenery like mosses and ferns. Very lovely natural Aberlour profile. With water: feels a little richer and more complete with some nice biscuity notes, lemon shortbread, breakfast cereals sweetened with icing sugar, honeyed porridge. All very easy and elegant. Mouth: wears its strength very lightly, this is soft and focused on sweet cereals, light honeys,  some lightly hopped pale ale, lemon peel, mint tea and more soft greenery and buttery notes. Extremely easy, if not the most complex. With water: again water has really worked a treat here. It’s more peppery, more waxy and a notch more dusty in a good way. Baking parchment, wool, lanolin, starch, dry cereals etc. Some yellow flowers and light honey notes persisting still. Finish: medium and with more pepper, vanilla, lemon peel, light easy fruits and various cooking oils. Comments: I suppose it’s similar to the 1974 in that it’s generally on the lighter side of ‘Speyness’ and perhaps not too complex, but only this time it’s also better as well.
SGP: 651 - 86 points.

 

 

Glen Elgin 11 yo 2008/2019 (56.8%, Lady Of The Glen, cask 800180, bourbon hogshead/tawny port, 252 bottles)

Glen Elgin 11 yo 2008/2019 (56.8%, Lady Of The Glen, cask 800180, bourbon hogshead/tawny port, 252 bottles)
This is from a local Edinburgh bottler. I have to say, the colour makes me tremble in my wee booties. Colour: neon rosé! Nose: if you could smell in colours then this one certainly smells pink. Hard not to think of things like rosewater, pomegranate syrup and cranberry jelly. It isn’t particularly cloying though, just brimming with red fruits and sweet strawberry jam. With water: riddled with port now. Cloying red fruits, strawberry laces, red liquorice and, indeed, some kind of summery rosé wine. Mouth: seriously, this is some kind of mixed red fruit jam. Strawberry granita drenched in red kola and raspberry liqueur. Grenadine, peach schnapps, lime cordial, cassis mixed with crémant. Madness. With water: at first you think the Glen Elgin might be having the temerity to fight back but someone upends several punnets of pureed red berries on top of it. Blackcurrant liqueur, bramble jam, strawberry wine. Madness! Finish: medium and getting quite tart and sharp. Comments: As you might have guessed, this is entirely not my cup of tea. But, I’ve had worse finishes and, while this is total madness, it’s also quite a bit of fun - I mean, you could literally make some kind of thermonuclear Kir Royales with this, probably a suitable Brexit cocktail. Just don’t expect to taste any Glen Elgin.
SGP: 731 - 73 points. (PS: I just checked my sample bottle and it has actual port crust at the bottom - I fear this tasting glass may be facing ‘early retirement’.)

 

 

Glen Elgin 23 yo 1995/2019 (50.6%, Cadenhead Small Batch, two bourbon hogsheads, 486 bottles)

Glen Elgin 23 yo 1995/2019 (50.6%, Cadenhead Small Batch, two bourbon hogsheads, 486 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: gentle honeys, apple tarts, leafy tobacco, mineral oil and a few sooty touches. I also get some rather elegant custard made with sweet wines, pears poached in calvados and things like muesli with dried apple rings. Gentle, easy, elegant and very open. With water: drier and earthier now. More pollens, oatmeal, grass and tobacco leaf in a leather pouch. Mouth: terrific richness on arrival. Thick notes of heather honey, wildflowers heavy with pollen, custard creams, soft waxes, more of these light sooty touches and things like bracken, hessian and olive oil. With water: fruity muesli, porridge sweetened with honey, lemon barley water and again these gentle, background waxy tones. Finish: long, lightly leathery, peppery, earthy and with quite a few sweet and fresh cereal notes. Comments: Straightforward and extremely good. I liked the slight wrong-footing of the nose and the subsequent surprising richness of the palate. Glen Elgin was always supposed to be a pretty full bodied malt and this one does nothing to dissuade me of that impression.
SGP: 661 - 88 points.

 

 

Glen Moray 2008/2019 (52.8%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, cask #613, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 186 bottles)

Glen Moray 2008/2019 (52.8%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, cask #613, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 186 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: sweet and juicy with many orchard fruits, stewed apples drizzled with custard, young sweet wines, barley sugars and wee touches of herbal jellies and ointments. Also some drier things like tobacco leaf and sunflower oil. Pitch perfect, modern Glen Moray. With water: slightly drier and more subtle, some dried sage, water crackers and oatcakes spread with butter. Also heather flowers and modern IPA. Mouth: the sweetness is pretty upfront along with all these wee spicy tones, however I wouldn’t say the cask has dominated or been too brutal. It rather gives the impression of very good quality wood speaking clearly with the distillate. Some notes of banana syrup, pollen, vanilla cake and pineapple. With water: lime, putty, sweet cereals, sun cream, rapeseed oil, bitter lemon and tonic water. Finish: good length and super fresh. Lots of sweet barley, natural vanilla, cloves, malt extract and pumpkin seed oil. Comments: Excellent young Glen Moray from an active but top quality cask. Another of these modern malts that feels technically excellent even if it is perhaps lacking a little soul. But then again you also get that rather impossible to define Glen Moray charm about it too.
SGP: 641 - 87 points.

 

 

Glen Moray 22 yo 1996/2019 (52.7%, Archives ‘The Fishes Of Samoa’, cask #7840, bourbon barrel, 189 bottles)

Glen Moray 22 yo 1996/2019 (52.7%, Archives ‘The Fishes Of Samoa’, cask #7840, bourbon barrel, 189 bottles)
Has the Samoan government actually been informed about this? Colour: gold. Nose: richly malty and well honeyed with these notes of flower honey, sweetened porridge and yellow wildflowers. Also hints of things like canvass, hessian, oatcakes and even some orange marmalade. With water: some unusual hints of white mushroom and mustard power. More tobacco leaf and soft, peppery, earthiness. Mouth: powerful arrival full of oils and light mechanical touches. Metal polish, sooty notes, old toolboxes, oily hessian cloth and rapeseed oil. At times it would almost point in the direction of older style Irish pure pot whiskeys. Evolves to become a little drier with these rich and savoury notes of rye bread and tobacco leaf. Charismatic, spicy and impressive. With water: more spices, light peppery tones, lanolin, camphor, wood resins and rice pudding with nutmeg. Finish: long, spicy, warming, leathery and even slightly medical and herbal. Comments: Really quite big, spicy and punchy for a Glen Moray I think. One to have some fun with when pouring blind for pals I would say.
SGP: 561 - 88 points.

 

 

Dailuaine 12 yo 2008/2020 (56.3%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #300741, bourbon/PX hogshead, 270 bottles)

Dailuaine 12 yo 2008/2020 (56.3%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #300741, bourbon/PX hogshead, 270 bottles)
This one was finished for at least 18 months in a PX sherry hoggie. Colour: light gold. Nose: I don’t immediately detect too much in the way of PX influence, this is rather dominated by buoyant citrus, light cereal notes, buttered toast and flowers in vase water. Various pollens, cooking oils and a slightly leathery side. Pretty gentle and elegant really. With water: more orangey with orange juice, more flowers, putty, lime pith and barley sugars. Mouth: ok, here the spices of the cask chomp down on you slightly but it’s not aggressive. Some blood orange, young calvados and cider apple. Then juicy malt extract, mirabelle and light treacle notes. With water: gets creamier and more fudgey. And you do start to feel the PX voice a little louder now. Some sultanas and green pepper and the tannins become grippier and tougher. Finish: long and rather peppery with ginger, green pepper, bitter lemon and some orange bitters. Comments: I remain unconvinced by all this PX use that’s so ubiquitous these days, but I think this one has worked just fine by virtue of being left for a decent length of time so you get a sense of integration. A tad simple but it’s very quaffable and the wood never quite dominates.
SGP: 661 - 83 points. 

 

 

Dailuaine 37 yo 1980/2018 (51.4%, OB ‘Casks Of Distinction’, cask #9003, European Oak)

Dailuaine 37 yo 1980/2018 (51.4%, OB ‘Casks Of Distinction’, cask #9003, European Oak)
The label doesn’t say what the actual cask type was, just the wood type, so a butt or a hogshead most likely. Also, I think this series is technically called ‘Select Cask’; to get ‘Casks Of Distinction’ you need at least 10 supercars and to have access to an upper tier member of the Chinese Communist Party. Anyway… Colour: deep gold. Nose: stunningly fragrant and full of precious honeys, nectars, dried heather flowers, old school shilling ales and then these wonderful, even so slight leathery and gamey touches. Iberico ham, bouillon stock, umami and an emerging and growing waxiness. Just superb! With water: a wonderful mix of dried herbs, vegetal and game stocks, umami, mushroom powder, miso, coal scuttles, honeycomb and waxed canvass. Mouth: terrific arrival, all on long aged dessert wines, heather honey, long-aged mead, dried out waxes, hessian cloth, toasted walnuts and herbal cough medicines. This beautiful fusion of umami verging on salty, herbal, waxy and this complex floral aspect. Like a 1972 Clynelish mated with a 1974 Glen Grant. With water: gets drier, saltier, leaner and the waxiness grows but becomes more brittle. Many notes of white pepper, soy sauce, tarragon, camphor, vapour rubs, liquorice and more mead. Finish: long, beautifully drying, floral, honeyed, delicately salty, gamey, leathery and complex. Comments: It’s easy to make jokes about these private bottlings, but this series shelters some incredible whiskies, and this is undeniably one of them. Terrific selection!
SGP: 562 - 92 points.

 

 

 

 

August 28, 2020


Whiskyfun

Special Releases Special, today Talisker

The new Special Releases have just arrived and as usual, we’re wondering about which name we’ll tackle first, a heavy hitter such as the Lagavulin, or a more obscure drop such as the Pittyvaich? Or perhaps the youngest tipple of them all, which is a Talisker? I agree, youth first, let’s try the Talisker 8. As for its sparring partner, I suppose the cornerstone within the range, the popular 10, would be in order especially since we haven’t properly tried the latter since… 2018. And since we haven’t got any of those stupendous old official 8 years old from the 1960s or 1970s left at WF Towers. A proper scandal…

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, +/-2019)

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, +/-2019) Five stars
Constant bang-for-your-buck whisky in my book(s), mind you they have it at 33€ in Spain – not in Andorra or Gibraltar! Colour: gold. Nose: it works like a magnet, I just cannot resist this briny, slightly chilli-y nose, with its wee farmy touches (saddle) and these whiffs of slightly stale seawater (crab fishing at low tide, in the rocks). A drop of mint liqueur, a pinhead of leather powder (and why not), and lastly and generally, ‘the sea’. I keep wondering where this coastalness is coming from, if they use special forbidden enzymes or what, since these mature in central warehouses… Good folks usually answer that ‘the whole of Scotland is coastal’ but if you ask them why, say Macallan isn’t coastal then, the answer’s generally ‘let’s have a beer’. No, not all peaters are coastal either. Mouth: very perfect, very much in line with earlier batches, very salty (I know there’s no salt in whisky), slightly leathery and mustardy, smoky, peppery, and just superb. Forgot to mention oysters with a drop of Tabasco. Finish: long and this has almost become smoked seawater blended with manzanilla. Brilliant. Comments: they should do a Talisker 10 cask strength. I needed say something.
SGP:367 - 90 points.

And so the new SR has got a tough job…

Talisker 8 yo 2011/2020 (57.9%, OB, Special Releases Caribbean Rum Cask Finish, 2020)

Talisker 8 yo 2011/2020 (57.9%, OB, Special Releases, Caribbean Rum Cask Finish, 2020) Five stars
Absolutely love it that they would confirm, in the lovely brochure, that Talisker ‘remains the island’s oldest working distillery’. It goes much better if it is said. As for the unusual Rum finish, in my experience they often go relatively unnoticed when the distillate’s as big as Talisker’s. Colour: white wine. Nose: oh, eau-de-vie de smoked barley, mercurochrome, kiwi juice, paint thinner, lime juice, broken olives and the trademark seawater. Young and very race-y, in truth I find it perfect and brilliantly distillate-driven (which is more or less the same thing in my book). Perhaps a touch of vanilla. With water: smokier now, rather on an old stove, graphite, those tarry ropes, coal tar, and just a tiny drop of acetone – that’s the youth speaking out. I find the rum’s discreet. Either it is some very light juice – but they say it’s post-still rum, or it’s a rum that’s very close to Talisker ‘in spirit’. Jamaica springs to mind. Mouth (neat): take mortar and pestle, crush chalk, add lemon pips, crush, pour lemon juice and seawater, add two green olives, crush, add a tiny pinhead of wasabi, a drop of Worcester sauce, the flesh of three small oysters, a hint of Himalaya salt (just joking), crush, shake, put into blender (what?), strain, enjoy… Not sure I’ve got the recipe right but you’ve got the idea. With water: same as what happened on the nose, it gets less ‘nervous’ and rather smokier, perhaps a tiny wee tad simpler despite a lovely camphor. Do not add too much water. Finish: perfect when with just a drop of H2O, tense and pretty sharp, with a bit of that side of Talisker that reminds us of Brora (and conversely, I mean, you see what I mean). A lot of pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: these bottles should come with a free small pipette. Superb young Talisker, given that the 10 is always a killer. To be honest, I wouldn’t have detected any ‘rum’ as such, even by contrast after the 10, had I tried this one without being in the know. Huge, huge quality/age ratio, but the Lagavulin to come isn’t half bad either. But shh...
SGP:367 - 90 points.

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

 

August 27, 2020


Whiskyfun

Silly young Fettercairn

Just two of them today. Isn’t Fettercairn the New York Dolls of Scotch? The Cherry Vanilla of malt whisky? The Tramps of aged spirits?

Fettercairn 2008/2019 (48%, The Whisky Baron, Founder’s Collection, bourbon, cask #4622, 270 bottles)

Fettercairn 2008/2019 (48%, The Whisky Baron, Founder’s Collection, bourbon, cask #4622, 270 bottles) Three stars
In my short experience, these are dangerous batches. Fettercairn’s dangerous generally speaking. As for the Whisky Barons, we’re rather thinking of Tommy Dewar, Peter Mackie and a few others, so there is some competition in this field, let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: paraffin and apple skins, that’s not a bad start. Then dandelions, vanilla fudge, porridge, Weetabix and muesli. Where’s the wackiness? The dead animals? The uncertain vegetables? Not that we shall complain, mind you… Mouth: did they normalise Fettercairn indeed? Indeed this is a perfectly fine young malt whisky, with some brioche, ripe apples, cakes, peanut butter and a few centilitres of mead. Slightly doughy too, which was to be expected. Finish: medium, good, bready. Barley syrup. Comments: Iggy Pop singing Rodgers and Hart. He’s good at that.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Fettercairn 10 yo 2009/2019 (55.8%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, sherry hogshead, 252 bottles)

Fettercairn 10 yo 2009/2019 (55.8%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, sherry hogshead, 252 bottles) Two stars and a half
Looks like this was a double maturation (8+2 in sherry). Colour: full gold. Nose: guns and matches, then brake pads and inner tubes. Tyre shop. Water’s expected… With water: rather goes towards oils and roasted nuts (sesame, pine nuts), not a bad move for sure. Turon and artichokes.  Mouth (neat): a tad wobbly, one side is fine (leather, pepper and marmalade), the other’s a little more difficult (rubber, eggplants and leaves). Hard to tell, really. With water: some cardboard here and there, but it’s got this fettercairnness and in that sense, it’s true to its values (what?) Finish: medium, dry, a little tarry – not Port-Ellen-tarry mind you. Comments: it’s part of the landscape and as such, should be preserved and protected. Just like the platypus.
SGP:371 - 78 points.

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

 

August 26, 2020


Whiskyfun

Around the world maskless

Just a wee tasting table and a couple of tulip glasses will be enough… And perhaps a little Vittel water (where’s that cheque we’ve been talking about for ages, Nestlé? The Lambo’s been ordered!)

Isle of Joux (40%, OB, Distillerie du Risoux, Switzerland, +/-2015)

Isle of Joux (40%, OB, Distillerie du Risoux, Switzerland, +/-2015) one star and a half
This is well a single malt, but I believe the production’s always been infinitesimal. They’re rather clockmakers over there, you know… Let’s see whether this is just another Rotary-Club whisky or not… Colour: gold. Nose: hey, fine! Asparagus, plywood, grape peeps oil, turnips, a touch of caraway… This is clearly noseable but granted, it is not Lagavulin 1958. Mouth: a bit LOL, that’s true. Parfait Amour, cassis, tangerine skin, nutmeg, hops, kougelhopf… Not the oomphier malt ever, but it’s kind of honest and funny. It’s just very thin, I suppose they’ve not fine-tuned their Holsteins or Müllers for this purpose.   Finish: short. Comments: good fun and a potable spirit. Now I was expecting notes of gentian, if not absinth…
SGP:320 - 69 points.

Let’s take the TGV back to France…

Roborel de Climens ‘Finition Sauvignon’ (40%, OB, France, 750 bottles, +/-2020)

Roborel de Climens ‘Finition Sauvignon’ (40%, OB, France, 750 bottles, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
Hold my Clynelish, this is Alsatian malt whisky from Hepp, finished in white Graves barriques from Clos Floridenne. Could be good fun, don’t we sometimes quote sauvignon blanc as a marker for some tense, grassy Scottish malts? Colour: gold. Nose: but this rather goes towards muscat! Even towards Beaumes-de-Venise! Roses, litchis, ylang-ylang, ripe gooseberries, a little bit of quince jelly (how very Alsatian)… What’s the sorcery here? Mouth: as always, 40% are too low and do handicap the spirit, but other than that, we’re in front of a pleasant fruity and cake-y whisky, with rather notes of apricot pie and pears poached in Sauternes. Because we know how to live, messieurs-mesdames. Finish: short but fruity and pleasant. Only the aftertaste harbours a little rubber. Comments: we’ve seen so much worse with these unlikely finishes in wine wood, I say this worked out. Now 3 or 5 extra-percent alcohol would have been welcome.
SGP:740 - 78 points.

Let’s try another one…

Roborel de Climens 2016/2019 ‘Finition Ugni Blanc’ (46%, OB, France, 950 bottles)

Roborel de Climens 2016/2019 ‘Finition Ugni Blanc’ (46%, OB, France, 950 bottles) Three stars and a half
46%, that’s much better. The casks stemmed from Montifaud, so cognac, obviously. Remember ugni blanc is the star in Cognac these days as far as varietals go. Colour: white wine. Nose: hey hey! Soft fruits, white peaches, greengages, these sorts of things… This just works but we’re rather nosing a very young cognacsky here. Mouth: good! The old guys used to claim that grape and grain did not mix well at all, but in this case looks like peace has been found. Juicy sultanas, oriental pastries (honey and orange blossom), ripe mirabelles, bergamots, sponge cake. This goes down your throat effortlessly. Finish: medium, fair, with more pears. Comments: could be that the cognac had more to say than the whisky, but never mind, many good people could quaff this meta-spirit with a joyful soul and a free mind. Very well done.
SGP:640 - 83 points.

Let’s fly from France to Japan…

Ohishi Whisky (42.7%, OB, Japan, sherry, cask #1204, 184 bottles, +/-2019)

Ohishi Whisky (42.7%, OB, Japan, sherry, cask #1204, 184 bottles, +/-2019) Three stars
This is 100% rice, so not sure us Europeans would call this whisky indeed, but aren’t we used to wandering ways of labelling spirits in the land of the rising sun? I would say let’s just not trust their labels, focus on the liquids, and we’ll be just fine. They’ve been distilling rice for centuries, anyway… Colour: gold. Nose: certainly not un-nice, with an earthy side that we had already found in Brooklyn’s Moto whisky. It’s a rather cake-y, almost caramelly kind of shoshu, with notes of Fruit Loops, fudge, peanut halva, and peanut butter. A tad regressive perhaps, but let’s not spoil our fun. Mouth: this is not whisky at all, but I like it rather a lot. We’re very close to sake, with big fermentary notes, kougelhopfs (how very Japanese), some earthy riesling, and just weissbeer and salsify juice. I know. Finish: medium, very earthy and pretty rooty. More salsify and fermentary notes in the aftertaste. Comments: organoleptically speaking, this is not whisky. But on sushi… Seriously, I rather dig this little ‘whisky’ but it’s true that I really enjoy my sakes.
SGP:361 - 80 points.

And now from Japan to… say Ireland?

Egan’s ‘Fortitude’ (46%, OB, Irish, +/-2020)

Egan’s ‘Fortitude’ (46%, OB, Irish, +/-2020)
These retro designs that all look the same now are becoming a little tiring, aren’t they? This is 2020, for crying out loud! This is a single malt though, sadly matured in Pedro. Boo. What’s the origin, by the way? Colour: gold. Nose: fine, malty, bready, with overripe apples and crushed bananas. It’s great that this was featured in Men’s Journal, Rolling Stone, and US Weekly. Seriously, it’s a very nice nose. Mouth: not too sure. The power is good, but there’s a leafy bitterness that’s typical of those lazy PX casks that would wreck the finest distillates on earth, serious. Getting really bad over the minutes. Finish: embarrassingly long. Comments: some sides are very okay but the background’s wrecked. I believe the PX casks just butchered the distillate here. If I may.  
SGP:351 - 60 points.

We need recovery…

Hellyer’s Road 15 yo (46.2%, OB, Australia, Tasmania, 2018)

Hellyer’s Road 15 yo (46.2%, OB, Australia, Tasmania, 2018) Five stars
We’ve tried some great Hellyers in the past. To us Alsatians, you can’t go any farer than to Tasmania anyway, unless you leave our little planet.  Now to find a planet without that despicable living entity over there in D.C.… Colour: chardonnay. Nose: yes sir, this is lovely, with many breads, a lot of buckwheat (have they distilled buckwheat?) and an amazing range of softer spices, from sweet mustards to caraway. Love this nose, really. I mean, really. No, really. Mouth: how good is this? Many soft breads, including the stunning ones they bake in the Middle-east, touches of pineapples, Timut pepper, focaccia, sweet mustards again, citrons and bergamots, these wee pink olives they have all around the Mediterranean (the name escapes me), then touches of rye bread. Is there rye inside? Finish: medium, superb, fresh, aromatic, different. Comments: this one rather floored me to be honest. Well, I'm off to the hunt!
SGP:551 - 90 points.

To Germany, perhaps?...

WillowBurn ‘Grand Cru Claret Cask’ (46%, OB,  Glen Els, Germany, 1000 bottles, 2019)

WillowBurn ‘Grand Cru Claret Cask’ (46%, OB,  Glen Els, Germany, 1000 bottles, 2019) Three stars
German whisky from Hammerschmiede, matured – or just finished? - in Bordeaux casks, what could go wrong? Just ask Frau Merkel and Monsieur Macron… Colour: gold. Nose: pumpernickel and rye bread, plus a drop of Turkish rose liqueur and perhaps a little pink pepper. That’s pretty it, but that rather works. Mouth: this is good, unlikely but good. Bags of peanuts, pecans, even pistachios, and no claret in sight. Phew, that’s a relief, I adore my Bordeaux, but not in my whiskies. Roggen somewhere?  Finish: yes, it’s getting very bready. Comments: ganz ausgezeichnet, echt Klasse (please note that this is written way before the Leipzig or Bayern vs. Paris Saint-Germain match).
SGP:451 - 81 points.

Shan’t we fly back to Japan? I mean, to a theoretical Japan?

Fujimi ‘7 virtues of the Samurai’ (40%, OB, blended Japanese whisky, +/-2019)

Fujimi ‘7 virtues of the Samurai’ (40%, OB, blended Japanese whisky, +/-2019)
Let’s pinch our noses, this reeks of crookery and of the worst from the international whisky mafia. Japan, please stop talking, and do something! I mean, there’s even a samurai on this ugly label! A samurai! Wake up! Colour: pale gold. Nose: niente, nada, nichts. Sawdust, perhaps. Mouth: Indian grain whisky? Canadian Club in disguise? Terribly weak juice, even the Coca-Cola Company wouldn’t sell this junk. I’m not sure Pepsico would either. Finish: none whatsoever. Comments: weak stuff, if Samurais were to use this they would just throw bottles at their enemies. Japan whisky, please do something. Poor, poor Samurais…
SGP:210 - 25 points.

These fake Japanese whiskies really get on my nerves. Back to Frau-Merkelland…

The Westphalian 2013/2018 (48.2%, OB, Germany, Amarone cask finish, cask #49, 260 bottles)

The Westphalian 2013/2018 (48.2%, OB, Germany, Amarone cask finish, cask #49, 260 bottles) Three stars
A German malt whisky finished in an Italian cask, that’s Europe! Europe’s always been unlikely, but it’s a noble idea. There, I said it. Colour: gold. Nose: yep. Gingerbread, pumpernickel, metal polish, old guns, pineapple liqueur, cured ham, charcoal, pine and balsa woods, 2-stroke Kawasaki engine (please excuse me), thuja wood… Well it’ll all happen on the palate anyway, I’d wager… Mouth: quite excellent, really. It’s a little rough and would probably lack polishing and definition, but the ideas are there and so are the jams (Linzertorte) and the spices (Christstollen). What I’d say is that as a dedicated Alsatian, I do fully understand this heavy-ish Germanic proposition. Hoppla! Finish: long, spicy, rather thick. Comments: sure it’s a little cloying and thick here and there, but the intentions were pure and the soul willing. Hab’s gern.
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Let’s just go on until ten…

Filey Bay ‘Second Release’ (46%, OB, England, Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery, England, 6000 bottles, 2020)

Filey Bay ‘Second Release’ (46%, OB, England, Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery, England, 6000 bottles, 2020) Three stars
It’s the first time I’m trying this make. Apparently, it is a combination of pot and column spirits, so a self-blend or a single blend if you like, although it’s labelled as a single malt. Not too sure what the rules are in Boris Country, or are you allowed to call it a single malt if your column(s) does not rectify much? Just speculating, let’s try this baby… Colour: white wine. Nose: light and rather gracious, on pears, vanilla, melons, acacia honey and fresh maple syrup. I am not getting any graininess I have to say, and for sure no varnish, would love to have a look at their column. Mouth: indeed, it is sweet, fruity and easy, with bonbons, preserved pears and peaches, pineapple, and a little barley water. Shall we say we’re finding an Irish side to it? Finish: medium, fresh, easy, leaving your mouth as fresh as a baby’s. Comments: rather the opposite of the previous German drop, but I find it just as good. The high quaffability is a plus.
SGP:631 - 82 points.
 

August 25, 2020


Whiskyfun

A wee bucket of Deanston

Great work by Deanston, the name really got out of limbo in recent years, not only thanks to the indies! I’m starting to wonder if some distilleries will not simply overturn the hierarchy as far as single malts are concerned. Let’s talk about that again in 2030? And see what we have in the wee Deanston box…

Deanston 14 yo ‘Organic’ (46.3, OB, +/-2019)

Deanston 14 yo ‘Organic’ (46.3, OB, +/-2019) Three stars
There had already been an excellent 15 yo ‘Organic’ in 2017 (WF 87). Anyway, everything’s going up, just not the ages of our whiskies... Colour: white wine. Nose: pretty citric at first, chalky and lightly bready, with touches of fresh oak, vanilla, lemon curd and a good glass of early IPA, say Sierra Nevada style. There are more brewers making IPAs than there are distillers making gin these days, am I not right? Nice fresh nose. Mouth: a little too spicy for me this time, probably some new oak feeling a little too much. Pepper, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom… Goes a little too far from me, this could have been Nigel Tufnel’s Deanston, if not The Goddam Gallows’ official tipple. Finish: long, a little brighter again (lemon peel) and with good vanilla, but the heavy-ish peppers keep pestering us in the aftertaste. Comments: most certainly a very good drop, but I’m not a huge fan of the carpenter-grade finishing (I suppose) they have done on it.
SGP:462 - 81 points.

Let’s change gear…

Deanston 12 yo 2007/2020 (64.4%, Signatory Vintage, sherry butt, cask #900145, 625 bottles)

Deanston 12 yo 2007/2020 (64.4%, Signatory Vintage, Kirsch Import, sherry butt, cask #900145, 625 bottles) Four stars and a half
Deanston at a lethal strength, wish me luck… Colour: gold. Nose: leaven, fresh wholegrain bread, concrete dust, brake fluid, raisins, a baker’s first dough roll in the morning, marmalade, a basket of very bitter oranges (the ones that first-time vistors always try to eat – once – when reaching Andalucía). With water: clay, unlit cigarettes and satay, that’s not a very usual combo but I think I’m am a fan. Mouth (neat): absolutely huge, and yet absolutely lovely, spicy, doughy, chalky and full of marmalade. Some kind of balance that hadn’t been found in the OB, in my opinion. With water: ah yes, orange blossom water, soft curry, a little leather, more blond tobacco, always this clay – or chalk – and more marmalade. Perhaps even lemon marmalade. Finish: long, very good, rather fresh, on the same flavours. Peppery aftertaste. Comments: feisty and breafkasty, although at almost 65%, such a breakfast could wreck your day. Say a Sunday brunch.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Let’s make this a trio, with an older Deanston…

Deanston 22 yo 1996/2018 (55.4%, Golden Cask, cask # CM 250, 222 bottles)

Deanston 22 yo 1996/2018 (55.4%, Golden Cask, cask # CM 250, 222 bottles) Four stars and a half
More from this good little series by The House of MacDuff. Colour: straw. Nose: we’re in similar territories but this one’s a little closer to the raw distillate, with more yeast, beer and porridge, as well as this chalkiness. Some sides even remind me of 1990s Springbank, to tell you the truth. Also crushed herbs, rucola, mown lawn, perhaps even a touch of gorgonzola cream… With water: wool and mud, grist and pot ale, porridge and lamp oil, pencil eraser. Ah, the countryside… Mouth (neat): ah very good indeed, and indeed I swear it’s a little reminiscent of early-season Springbank. Porridge, must, clay, pepper, dairy cream, concrete, a little coal tar, yuzu, very fresh baguette (when the latter is still alive), paraffin… With water: impeccable, a little fruitier and easier, with quite some quinces and little green pears. Quince jelly over your half-baguette. Finish: rather long, rather chalkier and breadier again. Dry aftertaste, on, well, dry ale. Comments: quiero mucho this one, it’s got an all-natural side that will always remind you that this is well barley whisky.
SGP:462 - 88 points.

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

 

August 24, 2020


Whiskyfun

Clynelish is on again

You know, Clynelish in Sutherland…

Distilled in Sutherland 9 yo 2010/2020 (56.5, Thompson Bros., refill barrel, 295 bottle)

Distilled in Sutherland 9 yo 2010/2020 (56.5, Thompson Bros., refill barrel, 295 bottle) Four stars
What’s good with all these hidden names is that whisky beginners will learn their Scottish geography much faster than we did when we first realised that it wasn’t all only about Johnnie Walker and Chivas Regal. Colour: white wine. Nose: still a bit hot-from-the-stills, that is to say rather on barley eau-de-vie, but that’s absolutely not a flaw, even if these recent batches seem to be a little less waxy than earlier makes. Sweet bread, focaccia, sea salt, a touch of rubber (bands, at school), pizza dough and olive oil, granny smith and green pears (the name escapes me, the ones they use for making Calvados).  Rubber bands leading the dancing. With water: flour and grist, as in many young malts. Mouth (neat): oh extremely good, sharp and precise, a bit hot again (young), but very well-carved, on green fruits and waxy/rubbery elements. With water: yes, there, ah-ha, a little more wax, marmalade, and a wee feeling of ‘blanche’ (unaged hence white armagnac). Finish: is it normal to find green bananas in your Clynelish? What was going on in the kitchen? Pear scones in the aftertaste. Comments: seriously, the quality/age ratio is pretty huge here.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Candlekitty 19 yo 2000/2020 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 762 bottles)

Candlekitty 19 yo 2000/2020 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 762 bottles) Five stars
This surrealistic whisky by the very facetious Sponge comes with a label showcasing a certain René McGrit’s ‘Son of Man’ (or René Magritte’s Le Fils de l’Homme) amongst other things, such as some moustache wax, a grey cat and just ‘the sea’. So, I say this cannot not be Bladnoch! Colour: straw. Nose: prototypical Bladnoch, really, with all this paraffin mingling perfectly well with green melons and sour apples. Also whelks and yesterday’s langoustines, so indeed and again, clearly Bladnoch. Mouth: anchovies marinated in lemon juice and olive oil, that’s very Bladnoch as well. Fennel seeds too, dill as well, and kippers even more so. Not to forget this rather fresh lime-y waxiness and these curious hints of salty tequila that are jumping in out of nowhere. Finish: medium, rather on sardines and rollmops this time. Comments: it is, indeed, pretty surrealistic whisky from Bladnoch Distillery. I feel like I should unearth my old Jefferson Airplane LP, remember the Pillow? Now it does also remind me of an excellent bottle of Clynelish I once had (or, should I say, it once had me, ha-ha). Oh that Sponge, Boris please do something, it’s driving us all mad.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Clynelish 22 yo 1997/2020 ‘Tropical Scented candle’ (49.8%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 236 bottles)

Clynelish 22 yo 1997/2020 ‘Tropical Scented candle’ (49.8%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 236 bottles) Five stars
Tropical fruits in Clynelish? Now that’s interesting… Colour: gold. Nose: pure fresh waxy and coastal Clynelishness, with indeed very wee whiffs of yellow tropical fruits. I cannot not think of some of the best well-aged white Pessacs here, really. Crushed bananas, treacle honey, beeswax, tiny touches of fresh mint, bits of chalk, a wee touch of patchouli, linden blossoms, quinces… All that! Superb nose, very complex if a little rich for Clynelish. Mouth: bingo, kumquats and bergamots, drier honeys, beeswax, quince jelly, touch of verbena liqueur, drop of yellow chartreuse, and just all the rest. Like, chlorophyll and a tiny drop of miso. Perfect strength and mouthfeel. Finish: sadly. Comments: very similar high quality as that of the Sponge’s Clynel… I mean, the Sponge’s Bladnoch. I think we’re about to do t-shirts too, with ‘Your Distillate Drives Me Mad’ in white on black. What would you say? Would you buy one? Do we say XXL?
SGP:561 - 90 points.

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

 

August 23, 2020


Whiskyfun

Solid rums from the best boxes

We’ll carefully avoid any uncertain liquids and unlikely liqueurs this time, and rather focus on well-reputed, truly un-sauced-up rums. Let’s see what we’ll find, eenie meenie…

Foursquare 10 yo ‘Premise’ (46%, OB, Barbados, 2018)

Foursquare 10 yo ‘Premise’ (46%, OB, Barbados, 2018) Four stars
Three years in bourbon then seven years in sherry, that’s a set-up that’s not unseen in malt whisky, although the Scots would be more into flash-finishing. Okay, okay, into fast-finishing. Colour: gold. Nose: not the first time I’m finding Foursquare’s having something ‘agricole-y’, this is pretty much the case here, with some banana cake, touches of liquorice wood, hints of black olives, echoes of tarmac (sounds like the name of a prog-rock band, doesn’t it), a dollop of sesame oil, then rather coffee toffee and only moderate amounts of cinnamon. Cinnamon rolls. Very nice and fulfilling, perfectly balanced. Mouth: wee touches of raspberry eau-de-vie for little while, then the expected cane-y flavours as well as these notes of banana cake yet again. Some raisins too – probably from the sherry – and a little tar. Really good, pretty easy, perfectly dry. Finish: rather long, saltier, with these olives again and a slightly tarry and varnishy aftertaste. Comments: these Foursquare often synthetize several main styles of rums in my opinion. That’s part of their numerous charms.
SGP:552 - 87 points.

Since we were talking agricole…

Bielle 8 yo 2011/2019 (52.8%, Rasta Morris, Marie-Galante, cask #RM021, 258 bottles)

Bielle 8 yo 2011/2019 (52.8%, Rasta Morris, Marie-Galante, cask #RM021, 258 bottles)Five stars
Bielle is one of the grands crus of rum, to me that’s crystal-clear. Colour: dark amber. Nose: oh perfect, almost Neissony if I may. Touches of pencil shavings and fresh paint at first, then fantastic notes of dried figs, bananas flambéed (flambéed with Bielle, naturally), cane juice, a drop of agave syrup, and some flowers. Ylang-ylang, gorse, dandelions… Very impeccable. With water: superb church incense and balsa wood, cedar wood, a box of small cigars... Fantastic nose, with all the charms of a Cohiba, without any of the downsides. Mouth (neat): pretty hot at first but creamy and rich, with an unexpected earthiness, a little varnish, roots (or Jerusalem artichokes), and some curious notes of cigarette ashes this time. Orange skin. With water: more small berries, eaux-de-vie, liqueurs, touches of juniper… And always quite a lot of (unlit) tobacco. Finish: medium, earthy and tobacco-y indeed. Roots in the aftertaste. Comments: what a great young Bielle. Not sure it needs a lot of water, a drop’s enough, actually.
SGP:461 - 90 points.

Fly to Guyana?

Uitvlugt 22 yo 1997/2019 (51.4%, Silent Ambassador, Guyana, 226 bottles)

Uitvlugt 22 yo 1997/2019 (51.4%, Silent Ambassador, Guyana, 226 bottles) Five stars
Remember Uitvlugt is pot-still. This should be very good yet again, but a silent ambassador? That couldn’t be a brand ambassador, don’t you agree? (heartfelt apologies, friends). Colour: gold. Nose: bingo, green olives, brine, capers, tar, camphor, Thai basil, eucalyptus, mercurochrome… It’s simply hard to beat this. With water: amazing, patchouli, hashish and old books. It’s got a wee hippy side, no? Mouth: love all these Uitvlugts 1997. They’re all perfectly petroly, olive-y, brine-y, salty, earthy, with bags of liquorice and touches of seashells.  You’d be forbidden for wondering whether someone’s not poured a few litres of Laphroaig into this cask. With water: ink and tar, then olives and resins. Not obligatorily hashish, mind you. Finish: long, salty and tarry, with rather some kinds of earthy olives in the aftertaste. Small piccholines. Comments: why don’t the owners issue such casks? We’ve got a whole stash of newish OBs yet to taste but I have to confess I keep procrastinating.
SGP:472 - 90 points.

Let’s stay in Demerara…

Diamond 12 yo 2008/2020 (60.3%, Liquid Treasures - e-spirits, Guyana, barrel)

Diamond 12 yo 2008/2020 (60.3%, Liquid Treasures - e-spirits, Guyana, barrel) Four stars
This wee baby from Port Mourant’s famous double wooden pot still. Looks like there’s the esc… I mean the wife of the POTUS on the label, no? Colour: white wine. Nose: great to have this after an Uitvlugt. This one’s rather fruitier, with pears for example, but that may be both the younger age and the higher strength. Other than that and so far, clams, oysters, rollmops and kimchi. With water: very dry and salty, we’re almost nosing a plate of oysters. Some nail polish too. Mouth (neat): absolutely excellent, but very strong. Williams pears spirit mixed with ashes and seawater. With water: same feelings, but hold on, did someone pour some young Lagavulin this time? Finish: long, rather waxier this time. Some kind of very salty Clynelish? Gritty olive oil in the aftertaste. Comments: this one was a little more challenging, or less ‘evident’, but it’s still a high-flyer.
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Monymusk 9 yo 2010/2019 ‘EMB’ (62%, Habitation Velier, Jamaica)

Monymusk 9 yo 2010/2019 ‘EMB’ (62%, Habitation Velier, Jamaica) Four stars
No comments. Colour: light amber. Nose: quite some butterscotch, toasted oak, caramel and fudge, let’s add water right away if you don’t mind. With water: it’s not a high-ester Jamaican, as it seems. Cakes and toasted wood, drops of brine, whiffs of shampoo too. Mouth (neat): huge varnish and caper brine, plus some vanillin, once again water may be needed (of course it is). With water: better to me, with ashes, limes, olives and, well, salted limoncello, but who would do that? Cakes. Finish: long, relatively simple, but it does the job. Good grapefruit and peppered olives. Comments: I believe I should have had this little Monymusk before that Port Mourant. Nobody’s perfect, as says Donald J. 
SGP:452 - 85 points.

(Thank you mucho, Robert)

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

 

August 22, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Speyside stuff
I’ve got an alarming pile of random things from Speyside. There seems to be no shortage of very pleasant and quaffable Speyside whiskies around these days. But, of all the ‘regions’, it’s the one that suffers most from this increasing trend of anonymising distillery identities on bottles. A practice that only serves to highlight the problems and realities of homogenisation in Scotch whisky’s integral character.

 

Something which is not such an issue with these ‘Orkney malts’ for example, or even with some of the anonymous Islays. Now, it’s obviously less of an issue when bottlers are allowed to use ‘teaspoon’ code names, such as Burnside - which we will have a few of after this aperitif…

 

 

Old Elgin 8 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1980s)

Old Elgin 8 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, mini, 1980s)
I’ve heard various assertions about Old Elgin over the years, that it has sheltered any number of covert Speyside malts. But I couldn’t tell you anything with absolute certainty. This one looks as though it could easily be a blended malt. Colour: orangey gold (caramel?) Nose: indeed this has a kind of ‘flatness’ that many old G&M concoctions at 40% display after years in glass. Mashed veg, damp grains, cereals, some sunflower oil, shoe polish and hints of orange peel. Fine, nice, simple and a bit plain. Mouth: indeed, flat is very much the word here. Cardboard, milky tea, cafe latte, mashed potato, plain porridge. Pretty mundane really. Finish: vanishingly short and with a rather unpleasant bitterness in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m sure part of the problem is that it’s an old mini, a full size bottle would probably show better. But the overall impression I’m left with is that these sorts of drams are decent, older style single malts that just get totally gutted by the bottling process: colour, brute filtration and crash dilution to 40%. Very few whiskies survive such violent treatment.
SGP: 431 - 68 points. 

 

 

Burnside 27 yo 1989/2016 (46.5%, Cadenhead Small Batch, two bourbon barrels, 288 bottles)

Burnside 27 yo 1989/2016 (46.5%, Cadenhead Small Batch, two bourbon barrels, 288 bottles)
Burnside is of course Balvenie ‘teaspooned’ with Glenfiddich to make it technically (legally) a blended malt. Although, how much ‘teaspooning’ actually goes on versus it being a brand protective move by William Grant is up for debate. Colour: gold. Nose: you really do just get a sense of pure Balvenie I’m afraid, lots of tinned fruits such as pineapples in their syrups and runny honey. Luscious, expressive and elegant with some malty, cereal backbone providing a sense of firmness and structure. Wee hints of waxed canvass too. Mouth: indeed, soft waxes, pollens, dried flowers, cereals, olive oil, mashed banana and fruit salad juices. A wonderfully ‘fleshy’ quality to the fruits that feels both fresh and textural. Finish: medium and all on this same mix of sweet fruits, lightly honeyed tones and dried notes of flowers and natural barley. Comments: It’s hard not to be swept off your feet by the easy charm and class of these Burnsides. It’s probably a good thing this whole ‘teaspooning’ nonsense exists because this is basically a wonderfully mature, 27yo Balvenie.
SGP: 641 - 89 points.

 

 

Burnside 28 yo 1989/2018 (46.2%, Archives ‘The Fishes of Samoa’, cask #4556, hogshead, 84 bottles)

Burnside 28 yo 1989/2018 (46.2%, Archives ‘The Fishes of Samoa’, cask #4556, hogshead, 84 bottles)
I hope the Whiskybase team have a suitably shrewd accountant able to convincingly write off all these extensive ‘research’ trips to Samoa… Colour: white wine. Nose: pretty different, not nearly as much wood influence so you don’t have the same ‘syrupy’ density as the Cadenhead displayed. Rather this is lighter, softer and more ethereal in its aromas. All on soft cereals, fabrics, linens, pollens and dried flowers. There’s also a slightly dustier edge and hints of cupboard spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and turmeric. Some slightly greener notes such as vase water too. Mouth: unusual, it’s all rather drying and again quite a sense of dustiness. Cracked white pepper, canvass, baking parchment, ink, crunched newspaper. More these dried flower notes and chamomile tea. Some sunflower oil and soda bread notes too. Finish: not the longest, dries out rather swiftly and you’re left with these wee notes of dried honey, oatcakes, water crackers and green tea. Comments: A bit unlikely, maybe just a case of resting a bit too long in the cask and the cask itself not offering too much. It’s very fine, but I preferred the opulence of the Cadenhead.
SGP: 451 - 85 points.

 

 

Burnside 28 yo 1991/2020 (45%, C Dully Selection, cask #7367, bourbon barrel, 199 bottles)

Burnside 28 yo 1991/2020 (45%, C Dully Selection, cask #7367, bourbon barrel, 199 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: a perfect halfway house between the two styles. Pears poached in honey, baked green apples, sweet cider, custard made with dessert wines (Tokaji I suspect) and these wee hints of tobacco leaf and some rather elegant mossy and leafy qualities. Petrichor and rainwater. You also have these slightly firmer notes of plain cereals and simple breads again - once again just feels like very good, mature Balvenie. Mouth: an easy and immediate sweetness which is also rather creamy. Chantilly cream, vanilla soda and then some rather punchy herbal notes intruding on proceedings. Freshly muddled herbs, mint julep, wee touches of mead, putty and furniture polish. Very good. Finish: good length, some slightly prickly green fruits, sandalwood, leather, honey, white pepper, plush cereals. Comments: Classical, easy and very well balanced between the sweetness, fruits and drier complexities.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.

 

 

Speyside Malt 26 yo 1992/2018 (51.6%, Liquid Treasures ‘Snakes’, bourbon barrel, 270 bottles)

Speyside Malt 26 yo 1992/2018 (51.6%, Liquid Treasures ‘Snakes’, bourbon barrel, 270 bottles)
I’ve heard whispers this one could be ‘pure’ Balvenie, but no idea if that’s the case. Colour: pale gold. Nose: these sorts of whiskies are really a collision of ‘good quality’ and ‘homogenisation’, in the sense that this could really hail from any number of Speyside distilleries. A lovely mix of gentle bread and honey tones, sunflower oil, breakfast cereals dusted with icing sugar, pollen heavy flowers, cider apples and various fruit liqueurs. Sweet, weighted, balanced and elegant. With water: forest freshness after the rain, leafy tobacco notes, light mulchy qualities and mineral oil. Mouth: a few notches drier on arrival than the nose suggested, but with quite a bit of pure and ripe fruitiness. Green banana, melon, guava - hints of some of these mature Irish whiskeys coming through with these further notes of grassiness, pink grapefruit and gooseberry acidity. A little malt extract and milky sweet tea. With water: crystallised fruit peels, soft waxes, citronella and a few muddled herbs such as bay, parsley and marjoram. Finish: good length, still this elegant see-saw between sweet fruits and drier earthy and cereal tones. A light dusting of white pepper ads an edge in the aftertaste. Comments: The very epitome of easy, fruity, quaffable Speyside malt. I feel it’s impossible for any whisky drinker not to enjoy this style. However, it’s also impossible to get too excited about it either. Tumbler juice!
SGP: 551 - 86 points.

 

 

Wardhead 21 yo 1997/2018 (55.5%, Liquid Treasures ‘Entomology’, bourbon hogshead)

Wardhead 21 yo 1997/2018 (55.5%, Liquid Treasures ‘Entomology’, bourbon hogshead)
Another ‘blended malt’, this time it’s tea-bagged Glenfiddich… sorry, ‘teaspooned’! Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather fresh, green and dominated by stuff like crisp green apple, cider apple and crisp cereals. Putty, canvass, a few pollens, darjeeling tea and soda bread. Very nice. With water: swims well! A lovely lift of greenery, freshness and things like wildflowers, damp ferns, more pollens, vase water and geraniums in a hot greenhouse. A little leathery note too. Mouth: rather punchy with these notes of rapeseed oil, grass, parsley, green pepper, white balsamic and mineral oil. There’s still sweetness too in the form of mead and barley sugars. With water: a tad straighter and perhaps a bit more ‘down the line Speyside’. More of these apple peelings, some gooseberry sharpness, steel wool, white pepper, English Breakfast tea and olive oil. Finish: good length, nicely drying, peppery, wee notes of lemon pith, thyme and freshly baked white bread. Comments: All very fine, but I think it’s the kind of whisky that struggles to hold your attention after a while. It does work well with water though.
SGP: 551 - 84 points.

 

 

Time for a break before a gear shift.

 

 

Speyside #3 8 yo ‘Batch 1’ (50.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co)

Speyside #3 8 yo ‘Batch 1’ (50.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co)
Not much info on this one except to note that it’s a single malt rather than a blended. Colour: white wine. Nose: cut grass, cider apples, farmhouse ale, hops, vanilla cream, freshly churned butter and chopped parsley. Classic, easy and rather direct. A nice punchy quality to these various pronounced aromas. With water: rather a lot of scattered, dry cereals, crushed oatcakes, soda bread and things like sun cream. Mouth: very lemony and quite sweet on arrival. Lemon sherbet sweets, young dessert wines, custard creams, pineapple cake, icing sugar on cornflakes and cream soda. With water: very easy, sweet, cereal and with a natural vanilla quality. Still a little pineapple and these impressions of sun lotion. Finish: medium, a little peppery, nutmeg, rice pudding, more vanilla cream and icing sugar. Comments: The very epitome of easy, simple, young, modern, fresh malt whisky. It’s rather plain and a tad ‘basic’, but it’s also clean and technically pretty good too. The kind of thing you can chuck an ice cube in and sip absentmindedly on a warm afternoon. If that’s your thing.
SGP: 541 - 82 points.

 

 

Artis Secretum 2011/2018 (67.1%, Whisky Illuminati ‘Solaria Series’, cask #900284, sherry butt, 150 bottles)

Artis Secretum 2011/2018 (67.1%, Whisky Illuminati ‘Solaria Series’, cask #900284, sherry butt, 150 bottles)
Not sure about the distillery for this one but I would suspect something from the town of Rothes that starts with Glen. Colour: amber. Nose: sweet fudge, chocolate cake, stewed prunes, Irish coffee and rum n’ raisin ice cream. Dense, sweet, sticky and rather opulent. With water: orange oils, marmalade with coriander seed, limoncello, freshly baked brown breads and coffee cake. Nicely complex with dilution. Mouth: rather drier than the nose suggested, lots of hessian, bitter chocolate, herbal medicines, earthy bitter notes, cooking oils, tobaccos, lemon marmalade and green walnut liqueur. Like all the bottling in this series, it’s impressive for its age but simultaneously feels rather challenging and boisterous. With water: a tad more straightforward now - olive oil cake, almonds, marzipan, meaty broths, light sootiness and dark fruits. Finish: medium and rather lumpy with big notes of dark chocolate, coffee, walnut oils and herbal bitters. Comments: started well and rather distinctively but as things progressed there was a definite sense of youthful imbalance coming through. However, there’s still plenty to enjoy if you like big, direct, gutsy sherry.
SGP: 471 - 82 points.

 

 

The Old Speysider 27 yo 1992/2019 (46.3%, Svenska Eldvatten, bourbon hogshead, 257 bottles)

The Old Speysider 27 yo 1992/2019 (46.3%, Svenska Eldvatten, bourbon hogshead, 257 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: lovely! A deeply syrupy and bright fruitiness. Green and garden fruits all over the place: pear cordial, green apples, gooseberry jam, pineapple juice, lemon barley water, waxed canvass, green tea with lemon slices, bergamot - extremely fresh, bright, attractive and enticing. Wee threads of honey, dry cider and heather flowers dotted throughout. Hyper-easy and indulgent. Mouth: what’s great here is that these green fruit notes are so luscious they really begin to morph into tropical fruit syrups. Pineapple cordial, guava jam, nectarine, mashed banana - could be a 1988 Bushmills almost. Some lighter tertiary notes of breads, sunflower seeds and exotic fruit teas. An almost superlative fruitiness. In time you get this wee crushed nettle note and touches of lime, like a Kiwi sauvignon blanc almost. Finish: good length, warming, glowing with fruits, a little tobacco, mead, camphor, olive oil and lemon curd. Comments: Dizzyingly juicy and satisfying. The fruitiness is immediate, ripe, dense and brimming from the glass in a hugely satisfying way. Just a little extra oomph would have propelled it to 90 I think. I would say this level of juicy fruit already sets it apart from some of these more ‘simplistic’ Speysiders though. Would love to know the distillery or origin here though.
SGP: 741 - 89 points.

 

 

Speyside #5 23 yo ‘Batch 4’ (49.1%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co for Hanshe, 451 bottles)

Speyside #5 23 yo ‘Batch 4’ (49.1%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co for Hanshe, 451 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: fruit salad juices, tinned peaches, some light waxiness, cereals, shortbread, a little buttery and some background greenery like parsley, grass and then sunflower oil. Easy, elegant, simple and pretty direct. Mouth: rather prickly and spicier than expected, which I quite enjoy. Pollens, wood spices, cinnamon, aniseed and pot pourri. Some hops, heather honey and cloves. Almost feels rather bourbon-esque at times with these notes of orange cocktail bitters and touches of liquorice. You could make a pretty tasty old fashioned with this I suspect Finish: good length with quite a bit of warming green pepper, cloves, anise, herbal extracts, juniper and juicy fruit chewing gum. Comments: Rather punchy, straightforward and a tad simple, but undeniably very good. You can feel the wood had quite a bit to say here, but it says it very well. 
SGP: 561 - 86 points.

 

 

Speyside Blended Malt 45 yo 1973/2019 (45.1%, The Whisky Exchange ‘Magic of the cask’ for The Whisky Show, cask #6, sherry butt, 549 bottles)

Speyside Blended Malt 45 yo 1973/2019 (45.1%, The Whisky Exchange ‘Magic of the cask’ for The Whisky Show, cask #6, sherry butt, 549 bottles)
I know, I’m late. Colour: amber. Nose: a wonderful vortex of sumptuous and rich dark fruits like figs, dates, prunes and sultanas. Fruit loaf, Dundee cake, walnut liqueur, coffee and walnut cake, pipe tobacco and many layers of rancio and chocolate sauce. The kind of aroma that kindled many love affairs with whisky I suspect. Given time it evolves some drier edges with more notes of pastries, fresh breads, aged mead, pollen and a slight gamey edge. Extremely good I think. Mouth: what’s good is that there’s no obvious or immediate tiredness, it stands up very well to the promise of the nose. Lots of sticky dark fruits, Irish coffee liqueur, sultana and fig stewed in Armagnac, treacle cake, walnut oil, chocolate sauce and slated caramel fudge. Treads that perfect line between sweet, fruity, earthy and dry. I wouldn’t say it’s the most complex old dram but it is certainly precise, eloquent and very beautiful. Finish: medium and full of tobacco leaf, bitter chocolate, rancio, balsamic, green walnut wine, orange liqueur and wee touches of miso and umami paste. A little polished hardwood and its resin too. Comments: What’s quite cool is that you feel this is very much the epitome of this style of whisky. Simple but direct, beautiful and everything in its place. Maybe one or two years past its peak but still hugely pleasurable.
SGP: 561 - 89 points.

 

 

I have more Speyside ‘things’. We might do this again next week. Or at least in the near future.

 

 

 

 

August 20, 2020


Whiskyfun

Solera tasting, Glenrothes until we perish

A figure of speech! Maybe is that only an impression, but it seems that there are currently oceans of Glenrothes at the indies’. But plenty is no plague… We’ll do this as a solera for once, started on May 22. Meaning we’ll add new notes every once in a while and publish it when we think it’s ready. What? But why not, compadre?

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

(May 22) Glenrothes 10 yo 2009/2019 (58%, Dram Mor, cask #5280, 348 bottles) Four stars
First time I’m trying a ‘Dram Mor’, but Angus did. Colour: full gold. Nose: good leafy and tobacco-y sherry, ridden with old and fresh walnuts and a clear amontillado-y character, with these wee buttery touches beyond all the walnuts. Notes of fudge and butterscotch too. With water: notes of bourbon. The casks had been well prepared (STR or such). Mouth (neat): rich and creamy, thick, syrupy, full of caramel cream, fudge indeed, Nutella (apologies) and maple syrup. No lace in this whisky (reminds me a sweet little LP by Alice Cooper) but this modern style just works. Heavy charring, I suppose. With water: some complexity this time, with herbs and small soft spices. Ginger cake, cinnamon rolls, raisin bread, marmalade, touches of oak shavings, cedar wood… Finish: rather long, rather on some spicy honey. A lot of pepper in the aftertaste, which is typically ‘modern’. That is to say oak-and-caramel-driven. Comments: modern, very well constructed, sweet-oak-forward, and just very good. I wouldn’t be as enthusiastic as Angus, (WF 89) but yeah, it’s getting there with its bourbon-like style – a good example of what some fine people would call ‘the bourbonisation of Scotch whisky’.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Glenrothes 1995/2018 (53.4%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, sherry hogshead, cask #78, 163 bottles)

(May 23) Glenrothes 1995/2018 (53.4%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, sherry hogshead, cask #78, 163 bottles) Three stars
All our friends in Taiwan keep firing on all (twelve) cylinders. Colour: straw. Nose: a tad rough, with a wee touch of rubber/soap, other than that damp magazines in the courtyard and some concrete dust and grass. I suppose this baby needs water. With water: going towards sourdough, grist and porridge. Mouth (neat): rather hot, on slivovitz, grass, potash and the farmer’s own kirschwasser. With water: good fruits, greengages, touches of myrtle, juniper, a curious saltiness, capsicum… Finish: medium, grassy and barley-y, reminding me of some craft beers. Comments: maybe a little severe for Glenrothes, but the quaffability index is pretty okay here. See what I mean, I’m sure.
SGP:451 - 80 points.

(May 26) Glenrothes 30 yo 1989/2020 (48.5%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #18166, 144 bottles)

(May 26) Glenrothes 30 yo 1989/2020 (48.5%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #18166, 144 bottles) Three stars and a half
That’s a proper age! Colour: straw. Nose: custard and apple pie running the show at first sniffing, then we have rather delicate whiffs of dried flowers and herbal teas. Chamomile, for example, pot-pourri, touches of orange blossom, the usual honeysuckle, perhaps very distant hints of elderflowers, dandelions, perhaps even jasmine but I may be dreaming now… Tends to become grassier and more on green tea after a few minutes, that’s possibly the oak. More beer too (pot ale). Mouth: fruitier, with tangerines and apples, touches of pinesap and mint oil, then that green tea, more orange blossom water (baklawas), a little cinchona, liquorice, pepper and ginger… Once again, it tends to get grassier. Finish: pretty long, rather grassy. Some lemon and grapefruit in the aftertaste – they’re welcome. Comments: these casks are very fine but perhaps a little ‘in the middle of the road’. They also feel like rather 20 than 30. But yeah, still very good stuff, IMHO (as we used to say before Web acronyms went totally out of fashion, around 2005).
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glenrothes 13 yo 2004/2017 (50%, Gordon & MacPhail for The Whisky Mercenary, cask #4459, 245 bottles)

(June 6) Glenrothes 13 yo 2004/2017 (50%, Gordon & MacPhail for The Whisky Mercenary, cask #4459, 245 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s rather on autumn leaves and grass, cherry stems, then almond paste and putty. With water: even grassier, herbal, with touches of rocket salad. Something medicinal in the background. Camphor? Mouth (neat): a pretty dry arrival, grassy once again, with a drop of cough syrup, then bitter oranges and green tea. Pretty leafy. With water: oranges and grapefruits entering the competition, so to speak, but the whole remains very leafy and pretty bitter. Quite some grapefruit marmalade, which is nice. Finish: medium, very much on marmalade, also vanilla and coconut water, possibly from American oak, with a bitterer, grassier aftertaste again. Almondy plum spirit. Comments: this one had something extra. Really good.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

(June 10, 2020) Glenrothes 20 yo 1996/2016 (47.8%, Westwood Whisky, sherry cask, cask #21, 360 bottles)

(June 10, 2020) Glenrothes 20 yo 1996/2016 (47.8%, Westwood Whisky, sherry cask, cask #21, 360 bottles) Four stars
This wee one was bottled for Germany. Colour: gold. Nose: nuts, grass, plum spirit, almonds, porridge, fruit peel, plasticine, more or less in that order. Pretty dry so far and much less extravagant than Westwood’s wonderful other works. I mean, Vivienne Westwood’s. Mouth: probably the one that’s closest to the bulky OBs so far, with plenty of roasted nuts and cakes, plus a rather richer malty background. Scones, earl grey, praline, a pinhead of marmalade, perhaps a few macaroons, then perhaps a touch of sweet Japanese bean curd, a few drops of café latte (as many have said before, possibly this modest taster included, at Starbucks they make latte by adding £5 to regular coffee). Ha. Anyway, a very fine office… I mean, independent Glenrothes. Finish: medium, toasted, caky. Drops of heavily malted beer. Comments: this one too is very good, I think, in a different style. The sherry worked well.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glenrothes 1996/2018 (51.9%, Or Sileis, Legends, Taiwan, cask #HL 16988)

(June 17, 2020) Glenrothes 1996/2018 (51.9%, Or Sileis, Legends, Taiwan, cask #HL 16988) Four stars
Some nice legends on these labels, let’s see if the whisky too is even remotely legendary. Colour: gold. Nose: this time we’re really al on kirsch, plum spirit (young slivovitz) and fresh almond paste. Loads of cherries, with stems and leaves. With water: this works very well. It’s getting more fragrant, with whiffs of orange blossom water, and breadier too. Our beloved panettones are back, it seems. Mouth: a tad brutal and very eau-de-vie-ish indeed when neat. Pretty grassy and almondy. With water: Spritz and Fanta at first, then cherry liqueur and more panettone. A big fat panettone! Finish: rather long, more citrusy as is often the case. A few peppery raisins in the aftertaste. Comments: all good, even if as always with these batches, there isn’t obligatorily a huge lot to write home about.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

(June 20, 2020) Glenrothes 20 yo 1996/2017 (52.8%, The Duchess, bourbon hogshead, cask #10/1996, 355 bottles)

(June 20, 2020) Glenrothes 20 yo 1996/2017 (52.8%, The Duchess, bourbon hogshead, cask #10/1996, 355 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: a fine, rather citric and chalky natural Glenrothes, with good grasses and fruit peelings in the background. With water: very lovely, pure, on lemons, limestone, oatcakes, grist and grapefruits. Mouth (neat): a fine, rather citric and chalky natural Glenrothes, with good grasses and fruit peelings in the background. Sorry about any echoes. With water: more citrus, chalk, then oils (linseed) and a little paraffin. Finish: rather long, very zesty and chalky. Comments: excellent, refreshing, very vertical. Anything citrus is perfect anyway.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

(June 21, 2020) Glenrothes-Glenlivet 22 yo 1996/2019 (49.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 966 bottles)

(June 21, 2020) Glenrothes-Glenlivet 22 yo 1996/2019 (49.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 966 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: very much similar, on chalk and grapefruits, then cut grass and paraffin. Tends to get porridge-y as well after two or three minutes, before touches of mangos and cranberries start to spring out. An unusual fruit combination that works well. Mouth: pretty good again, starting on muesli and green pepper, going on with limoncello, and ending up chalky and gristy. Finish: rather long, on leaves, chalk and rather orange juice this time. Liquorice wood and bitterer leaves in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps a little less ‘clean and blade-y’, but unquestionably very good once again. Finely bitter.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glenrothes 13 yo 2004/2017 (59.9%, SCSM Choice, China, Hunter Laing, sherry butt, cask #HL15619)

(July 5, 2020) Glenrothes 13 yo 2004/2017 (59.9%, SCSM Choice, China, Hunter Laing, sherry butt, cask #HL15619) Four stars
Not much news from Hunter Laing these days, hope they’re doing fine! Colour: golden amber. Nose: a pretty vinous sherry at first, bordering pinot-noirness, but it gets much rounder, more on cappuccino and butterscotch after that. STR? With water: cake, café latte, scones and butterscotch. Mouth (neat): oh pretty good, with just a few soapy touches at first, but that may come from the alcohol. Equilibrium not reached yet when this batch was distilled? Pure speculations. Otherwise, very fine Glenrothes, not even too brutal. With water: good, more on oranges, spritz, walnut cake… Finish: long, pretty fresh. Jaffa cake and ginger cookies. Comments: a very good drop that loves to play with water. Give it a little time so that the soapy touches could vanish.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

(July 7, 2020) Glenrothes 22 yo (58.8%, whic, Amazing Whiskies, refill sherry butt, cask #6371, 270 bottles, 2020)

(July 7, 2020) Glenrothes 22 yo (58.8%, whic, Amazing Whiskies, refill sherry butt, cask #6371, 270 bottles, 2020) Four stars
Colour: deep gold. Nose: totally on toffee, pipe juice, chocolate sauce, half a Mars bar, and one Mon Chéri. In the background, whiffs of fumes, tarmac and old engine oil. With water: the expected tarry notes, a touch of rubber, a little dried meat (jerky), and really a lot of the blackest chocolate. Hints of new leatherette. Mouth (neat): thick and heavy sherry, with cherry jam, chocolate, toffee, Nescafé and wee bits of the blackest pipe tobacco. With water: typical over-reaction to water. Control your pipette with care and caution, and it will deliver. Chestnut purée, chocolate sauce, fruitcake, bitter oranges. Too much water would bring out… a little too much rubber. Finish: long, on marmalade and chocolate, with a touch of tonic wine. Dry aftertaste, with much more pepper. Comments: use an electronic pipette, maybe? Very good dry sherry monster nonetheless – but watch your water!
SGP:461 - 85 points.

(July 22, 2020) Glenrothes ‘Whisky Maker's Cut’ (48.8%, OB, Soleo Collection, +/-2019) Three stars
All first fill sherry and an appealing higher strength, but no age statement. Colour: gold (pretty pale for first fil sherry). Nose: these rather typical leafy notes plus some sour bread sheltering sultanas and cumin seeds. Cherry stems, grape pips, walnuts… It is not a creamy and rounded sherry here, it is all pretty grassy and leafy indeed. Some earthiness too, little touch of saltpetre and sulphur, baking yeast… And some welcome marzipan that make it a little gentler. Mouth: rather typical young Glenrothes, starting with quite some bitter oranges, lots of leather, a touch of Cointreau or Grand-Marnier, then a good malty cake-iness and nods to our good old Aperol Spritz. Finish: medium, bittersweet, with some orange peel and a touch of chocolate. Comments: typical modern sherry treatment, well-made but not as complex as… as… well, as Hegel’s Phenomenology of the Spirit.
SGP:451 - 82 points.

(August 14, 2020) There’s more but I think will stop this madness here, it’s lasted too long already. I doubt we'll ever do another 'solera" session, unless...

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

 

August 18, 2020


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today
Mannochmore bourbon vs. sherry

With the inception of Loch Dhu, which was a Mannochmore (Diageo still owe us a few explanations about how they were making it), the image of the distillery has changed forever, has it not? Let’s have first the bourbon, then the sherry.

Mannochmore 2010/2020 (55.6%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS20008, 299 bottles)

Mannochmore 2010/2020 (55.6%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS20008, 299 bottles) Five stars
Colour: straw. Nose: not the first pretty citric Mannochmore we’ve tried, I have to say it is a style that I enjoy quite a lot, with its Rosebank side. Pomelos, lemon, lemongrass, a little chalk… It’s what we sometimes call a Sancerre-malt. Which is cool, obviously. With water: new fabric, wool, lemon curd, brioche dough, touch of baker’s yeast. All top. Mouth (neat): indeed, Rosebank, seriously! Some tenser limoncello, chalk, spearmint, lemon curd, a touch of honey… All is well here. With water: really, I swear to Vishnu and Saint-Ambrose, this is Rosebank! Finish: medium, clean, beautifully lemony, well balanced and refreshing. The Sancerre is still there in the aftertaste. Comments: quite a coup by Malts of Scotland. You say Mannochmore? Really? I have to say so many distilleries seem to have upped their game – as long as no silly woods or wines are involved, that is, which was certainly not the case here.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

The sherry please… They also have a PX, but we’ll have that one later… (give us your word, S.!)

Mannochmore 11 yo 2008/2019 (56.5%, James Eadie, for the Netherlands, oloroso finish, cask #348033, 298 bottles)

Mannochmore 11 yo 2008/2019 (56.5%, James Eadie, for the Netherlands, oloroso finish, cask #348033, 298 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one for our friend in Holland, so I suppose we’ll find salted liquorice, gouda, and, well, ‘tulips’ (wink wink). Colour: red mahogany. Nose: I mean, LOL. Young Port Mourant in a cask of Mannochmore? With varnish, coffee, black olives, benzine, and indeed, liquorice? Plus something resinous, close to those, err, ‘tulips’? With water: a fantastic fruity kind of earth. And Christmas cake – we’ve left Demerara this time. Mouth (neat): huge, first on black Corinth raisins, then pencil shavings and liquorice, prunes, black tapenade, drops of Wedderburn rum or something, prunes… oy, is this spectacularly thick and heavy. And good. With water: it swims well; becoming leafier, with a little chlorophyll and a salty side that’s not unseen in Port Mourant. Finish: long, rather more on tar and, indeed, liquorice and clove. We didn’t find those tulips, but maybe next time? Comments: well, they recreated Loch Dhu 10 the Black Whisky, but made it ten times better in my opinion. Was that done on purpose? Excellent, now I still liked the clean sharp lemon bomb better.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Wow, some very unexpected results today indeed. Could Mannochmore actually beat many a much-pushed brandified Speysider? Do Mannochmore even have an Instagram account?

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

 

August 17, 2020


Whiskyfun

This little session from Angus's was first meant to be published on Saturday. We apologise profusely and unequivocally (no we don't). -Serge

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Blends & Grains
I received a few comments about last week’s Highland Park session and the slew of 90 pointers towards its end. I revisited a few of them and my views, and scores, still stand I have to say. However, I think there’s a few points in light of this which are worth noting.

 

First of all, I do tend to try whiskies on the ‘nicer’ end of the spectrum in these weekly slots of mine on Whiskyfun. Mainly because I have limited space and rather a lot of samples to get through and I’m no masochist - I would much rather taste, talk and write about whiskies I enjoy and consider good or interesting. It also underscores a point I made last week which is that I think many modern whiskies - although certainly not all - are converging on a higher average level of quality. Even though I would characterise that quality as more ‘technical’ than ‘soulful’. I’d also argue that it is a not entirely rosy phenomena with mixed implications, but that's a topic that deserves its own space so I won't unpack it further here and now.

 

 

I also believe that our collective obsession with ‘scoring’, as a community, has become too deep. A tasting note and a score (on whatever bloody scale you use), when taken together, is a great device that both measures and communicates. However, it is the tasting note itself which should always carry more weight. The elevation of ‘the score’ is indicative of a broader culture of diminishing attention spans, clickbait, minimalist arguments and a general dearth of nuance. Ultimately, it is an elevation of perceived value over agreed quality. The ‘tasting note’ on the other hand is embedded in stuff like reading, thinking, introspection, experience and reflection; things that we - and the world - could all do with a little more of.

 

 

Now, having said all that, I still enjoy using scores in combination with notes. It’s also true that Serge and I diverge on occasion and there are definite wee areas where I might be a point or two higher and he might be lower, or the reverse. However, I am still confident in the idea that a ‘WF:90’ is something that we can almost always both get behind, even if we may stray either side sometimes. Variety is the spice of life etc.

 

 

It’s also true that I am generally quite bad at tasting whiskies that tend to inhabit lower regions of the 100 point scale. I don’t have too many examples knocking around usually; I’m afraid that I am not into whisky to try bad whisky - believe it or not. But from a tasting experience perspective I do agree it is essential to ground ourselves on occasion and to remember what separates the good from the bad. With that in mind, let’s try a few more humble blends and grains today and see what we find. I anticipate a mixed bag, but you never know…

 

 

W5 Scotch Whisky (70 proof, Aird Blenders, 1970s)

W5 Scotch Whisky (70 proof, Aird Blenders, 1970s) 
A blend I couldn’t tell you much about I’m afraid. Colour: gold. Nose: not bad, grainy but brightly so, some lactic notes, damp cereals, porridge. Getting a tad cardboardy in time, some fabrics, clay and vase water. Wee bits and pieces of OBE but not excessively so. Mouth: here’s where it falls down a bit. Weak, milky cold tea, cardboard, mashed turnip and something like sour soot. Finish: brief, slightly sour with concrete and more cold tea. Comments: there must be oceans of such old blends still kicking around out there. Not undrinkable and I don’t think flawed particularly, just somewhat bruised and battered by time in bottle. Would make a serviceable highball.
SGP: 331 - 60 points.

 

 

Inverdice Blended Scotch ‘The Whisky of Whiskies - Private stock 1st class’ (75 proof, Inverdice Scotch Whisky Co, 1960s)

Inverdice Blended Scotch ‘The Whisky of Whiskies - Private stock 1st class’ (75 proof, Inverdice Scotch Whisky Co, 1960s)
‘The whisky of whiskies’? Is Bowmore Bouquet about to get a run for its money…? Colour: deep gold. Nose: a world of difference from the W5, this is all on expensive furniture and metal polishes, dusty wax, herbal toothpaste and things like mentholated rolling tobacco, rapeseed oil and putty. Quality is pretty high so far I have to say. Mouth: falls a little flatter on arrival in the mouth, feels like there is some caramel at play which has flattened everything out and made it a bit more ‘soggy’ with these damp grain and cardboard vibes. Wood glue, lime pith, mineral oil and wee touches of camphor. Does actually improve slowly. Gets a little fuller with some nice notes of linseed oil and shoe polish. Although, there’s certainly a little OBE here too. Finish: short, a little peppery, more tobacco, some baked vegetables and canvass. Comments: All very fine, but once again I feel this is a good example of a whisky which is starting to feel the weight of years in bottle. I think many of these blends with a higher ratio of grain struggle with OBE. You can easily still find and taste earlier versions of famous names from the 50s and 40s which are far fresher and punchier due to higher malt contents. Now, this was still a very fine wee blend.
SGP: 451 - 70 points.

 

 

White Horse (70 proof, OB, UK 1970s)

White Horse (70 proof, OB, UK 1970s)
An old stalwart. Colour: gold. Nose: what’s nice is that this still feels rather ‘White Horsey’ with these notes of resinous peat, metal polish and soot. Camphor, polished grains, herbal cough medicines. All good in the hood! Mouth: you feel the grain but there’s still a kind of smoky/sooty freshness which you associate with this brand. Mineral oil, gravel, ointments, soot, putty. Perhaps a tad too grainy after a while, there’s this green acidity and slight harshness which emerges. Finish: medium, camphory, sooty, mineral and lightly oily. Comments: Similar to the Inverdice regarding grain proportions and bottle ageing, but here you do feel there are some peated malts in the depths doing some heavy lifting.
SGP: 453 - 72 points.

 

 

Pantheon Old Liqueur Highland Whisky (no ABV, ‘bottled and guaranteed by H & A Guilby (can’t be sure?) small bottle, circa 1920s)

Pantheon Old Liqueur Highland Whisky (no ABV, ‘bottled and guaranteed by H & A Guilby (can’t be sure?) small bottle, circa 1920s)
An ancient wee mini bottle that looks about 8cl in size. I cannot for the life of me make out the actual company name of the label, so if anyone has a big bottle and can correct my dwindling eyesight? Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh dear! We are in seriously old school territories here. This really could just be malt. The most ancient and concentrated yellow Chartreuse, alongside pure heather peat, salted honey, ancient mead, herbal extracts, dried pollens and all manner of soots, minerals, polishes and dried flowers. Really is one of those examples of ancient peat where it has broken down into a spectrum of tertiary complexities. Mouth: Ok, it’s lost some power but it’s still showing well, probably not 100% malt as you do get some grainier aspects coming through but it’s still full of soft, rooty, herbal peat, mineral oils, soot coal scuttles, metal polish, light natural tarry notes, mustard powder and camphor. Finish: good length, camphor, olive oil mixed with slaty honey, herbal cough medicines, more soot, hessian and heather ales. Comments: Marvellous and extremely old school whisky. A full bottle with a decent level of this could well sail past the 90 mark. But what’s great is that so much of the character and beauty is still well-preserved here despite a slight loss of ABV. It also makes you wonder whether some of these very old bottlings using the phrase ‘liqueur whisky’ shouldn’t be taken more literally. If you told me, blind, that this had rested in an old Benedictine cask or some such thing I would believe you.
SGP: 564 - 85 points (but the nose was more like 91)

 

 

Glen Calder Blended Scotch Whisky (100 proof, Grant Bonding Co, miniature, 1970s)

Glen Calder Blended Scotch Whisky (100 proof, Grant Bonding Co, miniature, 1970s)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather hot and grainy but the grain is sweet and nicely creamy. Things like buttery popcorn and coconut coming through. I also find gorse, some dried yellow flowers, wet tea leaves and some hints of sherry with this rather elegant gingery warmth. Can’t seem to decide whether it wants to be powerful or restrained. In time the sherry and sweeter tones really start to sing beautifully. With water: much grainier and more youthful with cereal sweetness, barley sugar and heather honey. Mouth: nicely warming, peppery, spicy, gingery and again with this creamy coconut and buttery popcorn combo on display. Some cooking oils and things like ink and bouillon stock. With water: thick, creamy, gingery sherry, olive oil, brown bread and various vegetable stocks and broths. Even a hint of soy sauce. Finish: long, peppery, slightly drying, salty, leathery and umami. Comments: I’d bet anything there has been some pretty top notch G&M sherry casks at play in the mix here. I would call this the epitome of an excellent blend in that you feel both the grain and malt components but they intertwine commendably and with great entertainment. I enjoyed how water elevated the grain on the nose and the malt on the palate.
SGP: 651 - 84 points.

 

 

Avonside Scotch Whisky (100 proof, JAS Gordon & Co, miniature, 1970s)

Avonside Scotch Whisky (100 proof, JAS Gordon & Co, miniature, 1970s)
Like Grant Bonding, JAS Gordon & Co was another Gordon & MacPhail subsidiary. There are versions of this Avonside which are pure malt and some which are blends. Not sure which this one is… Colour: deep gold. Nose: much fatter, oilier and more malty. Hessian, sheep wool, olive oil, dried flowers, white bread, fruit scone mix, some pollens and slightly salty honey notes. With water:  the bread qualities deepen and get richer. Rye spice, soda bread, salted butter, cooking oils. Not the easiest as it’s rather brutal and austere, but it’s pretty fascinating stuff. Mouth: if this is a blend, I suspect the grain proportion must be pretty miniscule. This is full of newspaper ink, dried herbs, brown bread, barley sugar, mineral oil, clay, ointments and soot. Also some Scotch broth and bouillon. With water: suet, mutton stock, bay leaf, sheep wool, camphor, starched linen, olive oil. Still impossible to decide whether this is a blend or not. Would love to know. Finish: long, honeyed, herbal, grassy, olive oil, soot, chalky notes, pebbles, green pepper. Powerful stuff! Comments: It’s a pretty tough brute if I’m honest, but as a historical artefact it’s fascinating. Feels like a pure malt to me, but I couldn’t tell you for certain.
SGP: 461 - 82 points. 

 

 

Time for a short break after those heavy hitters.

 

 

Blended Whisky #2 22 yo ‘Batch 3’ (41.8%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 1650 bottles)

Blended Whisky #2 22 yo ‘Batch 3’ (41.8%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 1650 bottles)
The label for this one appears to depict a white glove stroking a hairy space testicle. Hopefully not a visual tasting note. Colour: deep gold. Nose: creamy vanilla, cinnamon swirls, nutmeg, rice pudding, fudge. Not much ‘blendy-ness’ so far, rather just some top quality American oak sweetness, with suggestions of ‘Speyside’ flavour underneath. Mouth: easy, apple peelings, rhubarb and custard boiled sweets, young dessert wines, mint julep, young demerara rums, corn syrup. All more direct and straightforward ‘decent blend’ territory. Some nice vibes of spiced custard and caramel. Finish: medium and on wet grains, metal polish, sunflower oil, Scotch broth soups, pollens and a little camphor. Comments: It’s a trixy one this, starts deceptively ‘malt driven’ then gets more classical blend-y, before finishing up not unlike some of these old 1970s era blends with these slightly metallic touches. Still, at least not a testicle in sight.
SGP: 541 - 78 points.

 

 

Let’s shift to the grains now.

 

 

Strathclyde 26 yo 1993/2019 (54.1%, Whisky Illuminati ‘The Alba Series’, cask #243370, bourbon barrel, 202 bottles)

Strathclyde 26 yo 1993/2019 (54.1%, Whisky Illuminati ‘The Alba Series’, cask #243370, bourbon barrel, 202 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: the epitome of easy, light grain at first nosing. Candy floss, condensed milk, popcorn, coconut water. Also a touch of varnish too but it remains within tolerance. Some white pepper and touches of wood glue. With water: disappears a bit, some hints of fabric, vase water, linen and scrunched newspaper. Very light. Mouth: again the sweetness is what keeps things in check here, there are moments where you can feel the more rawer, more spiritous aspects gaining traction but the sweetness always pulls it back on course. Probably a pretty good quality barrel. Lots of popcorn, caramel syrup, those caramel waffles, some sunflower oil and something like sweetened chamomile tea. Gets a bit tough after a while though as the alcohol gains power. With water: not sure water works here. On one hand it provides some necessary cooling of the alcohol, on the other we’re more into typical grainy, solvent territories with these notes of nail varnish remover and turps. Finish: short, sharp and a little harsh. Comments: I think you can dispense with water for this one. It has its charms and the sweeter aspects throughout were pleasing with their lightness of touch, but we’re really coming up against the limits of these kinds of grains I think.
SGP: 530 - 76 points.

 

 

North British 31 yo 1988/2019 (44.4%, Whisky Illuminati ‘The Alba Series’, cask #216435, bourbon barrel, 150 bottles)

North British 31 yo 1988/2019 (44.4%, Whisky Illuminati ‘The Alba Series’, cask #216435, bourbon barrel, 150 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: sweet and light, not unlike the Strathclyde, only here this is more about jellied sweets. Like white, pineapple flavoured jelly beans and then hints of those familiar foam banana sweets we’re so often finding in grain whiskies. There’s also a little more class and elegance going on here with a clearer background note of fresh fabrics and canvass which is pleasant. Mouth: rum! Seriously, some light white rum with wee touches of coconut water, elastoplast, green banana, fabric, brown sugar and cinnamon buns. I’m sure a clever person could make some interesting cocktails with this. Finish: medium, a little bready, sappy and plenty more rum notes. Comments: Easy, straightforward and a little bit fun. Not sure you can ask much more of a grain whisky at this age.
SGP: 441 - 79 points.

 

 

Strathclyde 31 yo ‘Batch 4’ (45%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 2626 bottles)

Strathclyde 31 yo ‘Batch 4’ (45%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 2626 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: a wee touch of custardy sweetness to begin, some cheap dessert wine, vanilla cream soda, condensed milk, coconut water, more of these popcorn vibes. Also a wee canvas note adding a tiny seam of dryness to proceedings. Quite attractive really and not particular spiritous - probably helped by the lower abv. Mouth: cooking oils - notably rapeseed - bitter lemon, citrus piths, dry cereals, white toast, plain popcorn, baking soda - a little tough perhaps. Finish: short but leaves a rather acrid and drying mouthfeel afterwards. Comments: There were some attractive parts to the nose but overall I’m not a huge fan of this one I’m afraid. I just find many grains at this age actually too young and too clunky.
SGP: 530 - 74 points.

 

 

Invergordon 46 yo 1974/2020 (48.4%, Thompson Brothers for 20th anniversary Dornoch Castle Whisky Bar, refill barrel, 136 bottles)

Invergordon 46 yo 1974/2020 (48.4%, Thompson Brothers for 20th anniversary Dornoch Castle Whisky Bar, refill barrel, 136 bottles)
This one with a beautiful label by Hans Dillesse. Colour: deep gold. Nose: freshly varnished old furniture, dusty old curtains, the feeling of poking about your grandparent’s house as a kid. I also get some lovely notes of yellow fruits, runny honey, toasted hazelnuts, melon, flambeed banana and custard made with sweet marsala. In time you also start to get pure pina colada. Mouth: sweet and full of fruit cordials and syrups. A lovely ‘textural’ sweetness along with some slightly grassy olive oil, hardwood resins and a little camphor. Finish: medium and with notes of orange oil, brown bread, sugar syrups and lemon cough drops. Comments: quite simply, some very good old grain whisky. I really feel that they need a lot of time to become something more natural and elegant, just as has happened here.
SGP: 641 - 86 points. 

 

 

Big thanks to Phil H.

 

 

 


August 2020 - part 1 <--- August 2020 - part 2 ---> September 2020 - part 1


 

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Candlekitty 19 yo 2000/2020 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 762 bottles)

Clynelish 22 yo 1997/2020 ‘Tropical Scented candle’ (49.8%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 236 bottles)

Lagavulin 12 yo 2007/2020 (56.4%, OB, Special Releases 2020, refill American oak casks)

Lagavulin 12 yo (56.5%, OB, Special Releases 2019, refill American oak)

Mannochmore 2010/2020 (55.6%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS20008, 299 bottles)

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, +/-2019)

Talisker 8 yo 2011/2020 (57.9%, OB, Special Releases, Caribbean Rum Cask Finish, 2020)

Hellyer’s Road 15 yo (46.2%, OB, Australia, Tasmania, 2018)

Bielle 8 yo 2011/2019 (52.8%, Rasta Morris, Marie-Galante, cask #RM021, 258 bottles)

Foursquare 13 yo 2007/2020 (61.7%, Rasta Morris, cask #RM023, 239 bottles)

Monymusk 24 yo 1995/2019 ‘EMB’ (67%, Velier, Villa Paradisetto, Jamaica)

Uitvlugt 22 yo 1997/2019 (51.4%, Silent Ambassador, Guyana, 226 bottles)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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