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Hi, you're in the Archives, August 2022 - Part 1

       
 

July 2022 - part 2 <--- August 2022 - part 1 ---> August 2022 - part 2

 

August 13, 2022


Whiskyfun

Special Holiday Weekend Edition!!!

In the midst of this fourth heatwave here in Alsace, I'm very happy to report that after an eight-year long hiatus and rather a few complains on the occasion of our 20th Anniversary (but where's the music!?) Nick is back with a wonderful and wittier-than-ever concert review straight from Glasgow, while Angus over there in Fife managed to taste two wee Littlemills. Other than that, this little website will stay on vacation for a few more days while we're thinking of a new, yet temporary setup for our tastings to come. Stay tuned! - Serge

 

Concert Review by Nick Morgan

Richard Hawley, Sumer Nights
at the Kelvingrove Bandstand

Glasgow, August 6th 2022

Glasgow audiences are notorious.  Barrowlands, may be, as Richard Hawley assured us, 'the best gig in the country', but the people of the Dear Green Place can be fickle folk and hard to please, particularly when confronted with English performers.  The famous Glasgow Empire, sadly demolished in 1963 and replaced by an ugly and now unloved and unwanted office block, was known as the graveyard for English performers, particularly comedians.  On a Saturday night shipyard workers, refreshed by a few hauf and haufs  would shower below-par acts with handfuls of rivets (that was in The Glasgow Herald Serge, so it must be true). There are precious few shipyard workers in tonight's  excited crowd at the lovely Kelvingrove Bandstand, although given the demographic is quite possible that a few retired ones have made it up from the beautiful Partick boozers of Dumbarton Road.  That might account for this extensive prostate driven que for the urinals.

This is Sumer Nights at the Kelvingrove Bandstand, although the sturdy outerwear much in evidence confirms that England's heatwave has yet to cross the border.  Fourteen gigs featuring some of Whiskyfun's finest such as the Waterboys and Edwyn Collins and Serge's particular favourite 'fookin' Richard Hawley.  This is a rolled-over 2020 gig because of the you-know-what.  In 2019 Hawley had released his eighth studio album, Further, which, said a press release, had optimism at its heart (bad timing there Richard).  Unlike his seven others this one is not named after a part of hometown Sheffield.  Your reviewer was at the very accomplished launch gig at Dalston's EartH, a former cinema and billiard hall with (just like the Kelvingrove Bandstand) remarkably uncomfortable bench seating.  But regardless of physical discomfort the performance was so typically good that a trip to Glasgow for the 2020 gig in the park was being planned before all that optimism suddenly shrank away. 

Glasgow Empire
Urinals

Nonetheless, when the chance of a spare ticket appeared I was off dodging and diving train strikes, cancelled flights and melting tarmac as well as you-know-what to get to the DGP. 

Richard Hawley Band

Had the shipyard workers been in I can't help but think they might have given 'special guest' support act Studio Electrophonique (aka James Leesley) a few bags of rivets and more for his trouble.  But on a chilly early evening this audience warmed both to his wrist-slittingly melodic melancholia, and the confidence beyond his years he displayed in handling the crowd ('don't worry, you'll be dancing by the end').  It must be a Sheffield sort of thing; Studio Electrophonique, by the way, is a reference to a pretty remarkable piece of Sheffield's music history, without which no Jarvis Cocker, no Pulp etc.  I rather enjoyed Leesley's tunes, but to be honest I was distracted by the guitar tech on the right-hand side of the stage who was busy tuning and polishing Hawley's entourage of guitars, who had come along for the night.  This was, we later learned, Gordon the Guitar tech from Glasgow, 'conceived under the stage of the Barrowlands', and 'the best in his price bracket'.  He certainly had a job on his hands.

Long-standing Whiskyfun readers may remember Hawley's guitars.  Tonight he started off with one of two Telecasters as he began the set with the first two tracks from Further, 'Off my mind' and 'Alone'.  He had started with these same big songs at the Further launch gig back in 2019, aided I recalled by a brass section – a huge sound, although tonight it's Hawley and Shez Sheridan's guitars doing most of the work.  Song three and first guitar change (to an acoustic) for title track 'Further'.  It's one of those wistful and melodic Hawley beauties, with both his voice and Sheridan's delicate electric guitar to the fore.  I'm always surprised at how much the sea surfaces in the lyrics of this land-locked Sheffield songster, but perhaps it's there as a counterpoint to the lived life of the city: 'the ocean is calling as we're here working in the grime'.  The ocean may be calling, but the city is never far away – it's at the heart of the next big guitar song 'Standing at the sky's edge' from the 2012 album of the same name, and also the title of a musical co-written by Hawley and Chris Bush which premiered at the famous Sheffield Crucible theatre (think snooker) in the spring of 2019.  With four stars from the Guardian it tells the story of three families over sixty years living in Park Hill, the now regenerated brutalists 1960s council estate that stand high on the sky's edge overlooking the centre of Sheffield – the largest listed building in Europe.  Having been delayed by you-know-what it returns to the Crucible later this year, and then transfers to the National Theatre in London in 2023.  Not to be missed, I'd say Serge.
The normally garrulous Hawley had confined himself to nothing more than song titles and 'thank you' until the end of his sixth song 'Emilina says', a countryesque crooner from Further that could have been written by Studio Electrophonique.  Actually it's not miserable enough for that. But what followed began as a humorous anecdote about  being offered 'a swally' by a stranger in the band's hotel. But musings on Glaswegian drinking slang suddenly took a different turn as Hawley declared 'you know I wish I was Scottish, or Irish, Welsh, or anything but English. I just hate the fookin' Tories'.  My goodness! The auditorium exploded. It was as if the spirit of Red Clydeside, lurking somewhere in a single-end in Partick, had been conjured up from a magic lamp. All that was missing was a man waving a red flag.

'We hate the fookin' Tories' chanted the audience enthusiastically, until hushed by Hawley.  'And this', he said, 'is what we'll get when we get rid of them' as the band launched into 'Tonight the streets are ours'.   It is I think, still one of Hawley's best,  a joyous celebration of working class culture.  Cue another explosion, this time of rebellious dancing rapture from oldies and youngsters alike.  Just to my left one old fella (perhaps once a rivet wielding shipyard worker) was dancing, beer in one hand, walking stick waving in the air from the other.  An easy button to press I suppose, but from that point onwards this Glaswegian audience nestled softly like putty in Hawley's hands.

As guitar followed guitar so song followed song, including 'Coles Corner', 'Don't stare at the sun', 'Open up your door', a very menacing 'Down in the woods' and to finish a crunching 'Is there a pill'.  Returning to the stage for an encore Hawley announced 'we've just had a chat, we're all going to move here, fook it' – cue another audience explosion before 'There's a' storm a' coming', which ends appropriately threateningly with Hawley, back to audience, thrashing his Gibson 3355 within an inch of its life, before reverting to the lovely Gretsch for an explosive 'Heart of oak' to finish.  Well almost finish.  They did the false ending thing, with Hawley yelling to the audience in the longueur, 'Shall we rock and roll? Shall we fookin' rock and roll? Shall we fookin' rock and roll?'

And they did.  - Nick Morgan

 

 

 

WF

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
The 20th Anniversary Sessions, today two 30yo Littlemill

 

These two have been sat on my sample shelf making eyes at me for long enough, time to see what they have to say…

 

 

Littlemill 30 yo 1991/2021 (46.7%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 102 bottles)

Littlemill 30 yo 1991/2021 (46.7%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 102 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: grassy, bright and lean. Soft cereals, crushed nettles, mineral notes and an almost performative Irish accent with all these rather tart exotic fruits, metal polish and fresh green fruit notes. Develops a rather crisp Sauvignon blanc quality too. A beautiful nose, just perhaps a little on the soft side. Mouth: really going for it with this Sauvignon blanc / old style Irish Whiskey fusion. Grass, green fruit acids, passion fruit, flower nectars, olive oil and mineral oils too. Some crisp cereals in the background and wee note of shoe polish and even rice wine! Finish: medium and nicely grassy, citric, still showing nice crispness and green fruit acidity. Comments: one of those Littlemills that really looks towards Ireland. Eminently sippable and charming, just a tad on the soft side.

SGP: 551 - 88 points.

 

 

Littlemill 30 yo 1988/2019 (55.3%, Hunter Laing 'Old & Rare', refill hogshead, 85 bottles)

Littlemill 30 yo 1988/2019 (55.3%, Hunter Laing 'Old & Rare', refill hogshead, 85 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: a broader and more polished style. More on cooking oils, honey, wee glimmers of hessian, camphor and putty. There's fruits too, but rather lemon rinds, wee drops of passion fruit and dried mango. I also find some nicely green herbal aspects with a little time in the glass, fresh muddled green herbs along with a little verbena and wormwood. With water: dried sage, pine wood, myrtle and heather. It's got a lot of natural and organic aspects, but at the same time not a fruit bomb like many of its siblings. Mouth: again rather big and nicely polished. White pepper, citronella wax, hessian, top quality super grassy olive oil and a slightly honeyed, aged riesling vibe. Super classy Littlemill! With water: again very lovely honey and olive oil profile, along with some American IPA hops, citrus rinds, camphor and fir woods again. Not your common or garden Littlemill I'd say. Finish: good length, warm pepperiness, dried herbal notes, grassy olive oil impressions once again and some zesty citrus in the aftertaste. Comments: undoubtedly excellent, but also slightly challenging at times. It's not your regular Littlemill fruit bomb, but it's also well worth your time and patience. Probably more a whisky for lovers of aged dry white wines. Rather different from the Cadenhead but same quality I feel.
SGP: 461 - 88 points.

 

 

Thanks to Andy and KC!

 

 

 

 

August 9, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 
 

August 8, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

The 20th Anniversary Sessions,
today some rather extreme older Caol Ila

Caol Ila is #1 at little WF, as we've written notes for more Caol Ilas than for any other brands, including Bowmore (#2) and Highland Park (#3), whilst former leaders Ardbeg and Macallan have now fallen far behind. Today we'll have a few more Caol Ila, but only special old ones. Mind you, we had said this would be a celebratory session!

Caol Ila

 

 

Caol Ila 23 yo 1996/2020 (50.1%, OB, Casks of Distinction for Garreth Christopher, 1st fill European Oak, cask #19339, 576 bottles)

Caol Ila 23 yo 1996/2020 (50.1%, OB, Casks of Distinction for Garreth Christopher, 1st fill European Oak, cask #19339, 576 bottles) Four stars
Not too sure about what's '1st fill European Oak', but there. Do they cooper virgin European oak? Was it a barrique? Colour: amber with reddish hues, which suggests new oak indeed. Nose: it is relatively soft, surely modern, with perhaps more oak than distillate (pinewood, vanilla, eucalyptus, essential oils) and a tar plus candied citrus combo that's working well. No crabs and no oysters, though, the Sound of Islay is far away. With water:  tarmac, beef jerky, cabinetmaker's workshop, menthol drops and natural rubber. Oh and eucalyptus. Mouth (neat): much more oomph on the palate, even if it remains concoctiony. More candied citrus, lemon liqueur, heavy honey (chestnut), molasses, liqueurs… Once again the distillate's been buried a wee bit, but water may help. With water: not really, it's moving towards chocolates, thin mints, etcetera. Finish: same. It's absolutely excellent, it's just that we're far from any kind of smoky coastalness. Comments: very heavy baby, deeply oaked. We've tried some similar makes that had been bottled like thirty year earlier and that were still displaying some Caol Ila knack (Intertrade, Sestante…) Well I believe cellaring is the answer. Bury them and keep them for the next generation.

SGP:565 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 36 yo 1984/2020 (53.1%, Kingsbury's for Auld Alliance and Club Qing, butt, cask #2752)

Caol Ila 36 yo 1984/2020 (53.1%, Kingsbury's for Auld Alliance and Club Qing, butt, cask #2752) Four stars and a half
Remember that to us seasoned whisky enthusiasts, 1984 is like ten years ago. And we've got this strange feeling… Colour: brownish honey. Nose: styles are not that different, but in fact this is completely different, with a distillate that's still having the upper hand, some freshness, some coastal notes, embrocations, big miso, hoisin, smoked ham, umami, marmite, sundried fish, camphor… With water: totally umami-y, extremely savoury, with dominant osmazôme (don't bother, a French thing). Mouth (neat): you would almost believe we're having some old Jamaican rum in our glasses, one that was aged in the tropics at that, as this is also pretty heavily oaky, mentholated and piney. Paint and putty, salt, plasticine and wakame. Not sure little CI is having much say in this context. With water: water thickens it, but makes it also more complex, bitter for sure but also full of tiny herbs and ointments. Unicum, Jägermeister and Underberg are not too far away. Finish: extremely long, grassy, bitter, peppery, herbal. Loads of bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: truly a spectacular fighter, so not a dram that'll leave you unharmed.

SGP:275 - 88 points.

Caol Ila 35 yo 1982/2017 (53.6%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 156 bottles)

Caol Ila 35 yo 1982/2017 (53.6%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 156 bottles) Five stars
Precisely, there had been another 1982 by Cadenhead that had been bottled for The Auld Alliance in Singapore, and that's been just totally stunning (WF 93). Colour: light gold. Nose: we breathe! Freshness, seawater, oysters, sea breeze, fresh almonds, lemongrass, clams, urchins, crabs, winkles, whelks, cockles (I think they got the idea, S.). And lemons. With water: wool, new jumper, the vegetable section at the Spar in Bowmore, new magazines (why not The Ileach!) and brake fluid. Mouth (neat): stunning Atlanticness, lemons, seafood, flints, coaltar and salty sorrel soup. More or less that. With water: etcetera. Langoustines with mayonnaise and a glass of riesling (why a glass, S.?) Finish: long and aerial. You would never say it's 35, and yet it's got the complexity of a 35 yo. Go figure. Comments: freshness over stuffiness, however spectacular or complex, anytime.

SGP:565 - 91 points.

Not too sure about this session. We'll do another very large CI session soon, this time with many fresh fighters, but why not give this one another chance…

Caol Ila 31 yo 1990/2022 (45.6%, Whisky Concerto, Cask Le Sens, hogshead, cask #13132, 173 bottles)

Caol Ila 31 yo 1990/2022 (45.6%, Whisky Concerto, Cask Le Sens, hogshead, cask #13132, 173 bottles) Five stars
Love these minimalist labels. Colour: white wine. Nose: right, there are some stunning, legendary exceptions indeed, but generally, I say stay away from anything that's both heavily peated and sherried. Which is exactly not the case here, as this is as fresh as a baby's bum, slightly acetic (muscadet) and just a perfect match if your aim is to wolf down around thirty-six oysters within half an hour. Just an example, naturally. Mouth: we already knew these batches were terrific, so no surprise here. Well it might be a notch sweet (citron liqueur) but we're splitting hairs once more, this is perfect. Refill hogsheads or barrels, or nothing! Some wonderful bitter almonds, which is very 'old CI'. This smoked salmon too, by the way, and cough syrup (with eucalyptus). Finish: medium and very fresh. Bring this down to 15°C and you'll down a bottle in no time. That was not a word of advice, rather a warning. Saltier aftertaste, with a touch of rubber. Comments: a classic, unquestionable style.

SGP:565 - 90 points.

And while we're at it…

Caol Ila 1974/1989 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail for Meregalli Giuseppe)

Caol Ila 1974/1989 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail for Meregalli Giuseppe) Five stars
Only 40% vol. but a brilliant immediately post-extension vintage (so one of the first 'new' Caol Ilas). Well, it was not quite an extension, they rebuilt the Distillery completely. There was also a Connoisseurs Choice that was really excellent, could be that this Meregalli was one of these, only bearing a bespoke label. Colour: straw. Nose: different from the pre-1972 vintages in the sense that it would be less on 'an old pile of coal and tar' and rather more on 'pristine oysters and camphor'. These bottles have been deemed a little fragile but I believe that now that they could breathe and develop for a few decades, they've become beautifully complex. Carbon paper, magazines, clams, ink, seaweed, old ropes, old boat, all that with touches of citrus in the background. Very, very lovely and fresh as well, let's only hope it did not get weakish on the palate… Mouth: not at all. It is not big, but it's kept its main singing flavours, especially tarry oysters and the make's trademark salty ashes. Finish: astonishingly long, manzanilla-y, ashy, tarry, salty, with just a dusty touch and a drop of kirsch in the aftertaste. Nice dust, in fact, or rather cigar ashes. Also smoked almonds. Comments: I've tried this before – never wrote any notes – and really, I believe it improved in glass. It's also good to see that they didn't need long to achieve quasi-perfection after they had built the new Distillery.

SGP:466 - 91 points.

Cheers! As I said, we'll have many younger CIs soon, but little WF will first go on holiday for a few days.

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

 

August 6, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
The 20th Anniversary Sessions, today one wee Laphroaig (but not just any)

 

I recorded notes for this one quite a while ago and I've been holding onto them with the notion that a suitable time would present itself. Seems like this is as fitting a time as any…

 

 

 

 

 

Laphroaig 15 yo 1967/1982 (57%, Duthie's for Samaroli, sherry)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1967/1982 (57%, Duthie's for Samaroli, sherry)
Colour: Mahogany. Nose: The most astonishing combination of medical tinctures, old hardwood shavings, myriad dark, stewed and tropical fruits and rich seam of wet earth, hessian, crushed walnuts, aged tar liqueur and pomegranate syrup. A totally and utterly spellbinding aroma at first nosing. Background aromas of still-warm coal hearths, aged stout and a saline inflected dunnage note with damp sack cloth and hessian. Quite bewilderingly complex, the kind of nose you can - and should - lose yourself in utterly for hours. With a little more time develops some more precise notes of green fruits, grapefruit and ripe blood orange. There really are just all kinds of aromas: myriad spices; dark chocolate; ancient balsamico - and of course I haven't even mentioned the peat yet.

 

 

Pure, brilliant, earthy, fat, almost visceral peat. The earthy quality almost goes into aged Pinot Noir territory. It's a hard to fathom the complexity of this nose. Wrapped around everything is the most pristinely earthy, farmy and enveloping sherry. With Water: More tar, more salt, more roof pitch, more flints, more distillate character! The green fruits and the tropical fruits really go to war now in the most spectacular fashion. In the end the tropical side wins - deft notes of passionfruit, pineapple and guava all mingle together. Seashore, warm brown bread, iodine and various medical tinctures. Endless... Mouth: The most intense, jelly-like density of syrupy, perfectly balanced sherry, dynamic peat, coal, earth, farmyard and a litany of tropical fruit. Astonishing whisky! Utterly, utterly majestic. The sherry and the peat are perfectly integrated and you have this kind of poised, focused dryness about the whole thing. Engine oil and seaweed and tar and rope all mingle. Tropical fruits still rolling around between everything. The palate feels more distillate driven than the nose which felt more dominated by the cask. The overall effect though is a perfect union of the two which comes across as even greater than the sum of its parts. With water: Not sure how it's possible but the whisky has become bigger, fatter and broader. A total masterpiece. A canvas of broad strokes and infinitesimal detail in between. Kippery, smouldering beach wood, mineral aspects, some citrus emerges, more coal hearths, tea tree oil, peat oils, more tar, more hessian, more dark, unctuous sherry fruit. More of everything! Finish: A vast spectrum of oily peat extracts, ancient sherry, rancio, various fruits and pitch black coffee. The darkest chocolate, simmering phenols, a whole NHS of medicines. A nervous, lithe, shimmering dance of flavours on slow fade. Comments: some whiskies, for all sorts of reasons, are powerfully moving but perhaps not as spellbinding on a technical level, which can give you pause for thought when trying to sum them up in a tasting note with a score attached. This, however, is one of those hyper-rarities where the technical brilliance and emotional intensity are so perfectly synchronised that it leaves no space in your mind for doubt. You cannot come away from this with any impression other than that you just tasted one of the greatest whiskies ever committed to glass. There is a melancholy about this whisky given that it is increasingly unlikely the dwindling number of bottles that remain will be opened. Indeed, the prices these fetch now make them more the stuff of wealth signalling and not really about whisky enthusiasm or culture anymore. All I can say is, I am glad to have been able to taste it.
SGP: 776 - 98 points.

 

 

 

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

 

 

August 5, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

The 20th Anniversary Celebratory Sessions, today Dalwhinnie

Dalwhinnie

Why Dalwhinnie, you may ask. Well, first because the Distillery is lovely, because it's got worm tubs, because it's high in the mountains (well, as far as Scottish mountains go), because the people there are superb (well they were last time I visited), and because as one of the Classic Malts, it's played a huge part in the discovery of Single Malt for millions of good people. What's more, it's always been a little unclassifiable amongst the peaters (Lagavulin, Talisker), the light Lowlander (Glenkinchie), the coastal Oban, the classic sherried Cragganmore and the… well, yes, the 'Highlanders'. No one exactly knows what's exactly a Highlander, Glengoyne is a Highlander, Highland Park is a Highlander, Clynelish is a Highlander, Edradour is a Highlander and, indeed, Dalwhinnie is a Highlander. In fact, some good people are even claiming that it's actually a Speysider, but there's a lot of overlapping anyway. You see, that's what I like, plenty to discuss around a glass or three…

 

 

Dalwhinnie 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2021)

Dalwhinnie 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
Dalwhinnie's presentation has been kept deliciously unchanged. Let's only hope they changed the content a wee bit, as we did not find earlier batches extremely convincing. Colour: light gold. Nose: pure sweet maltiness, barley syrup, nougat, touches of lemon liqueur, fresh brioche, Weetabix and probably rounded eaux-de-vie such as mirabelle. Fine and easy this far. Mouth: sweetish, almost liqueury arrival. Barley syrup indeed, a little white chocolate, marshmallows, then gummy bears and indeed, brioche. I have the impression that they're making Dalwhinnie lighter ever year. Some kind of ueber-blend, or access-category malt whisky, in the ballpark of the entry-level Glenfiddich or Glenlivet. I had thought that was Cardhu's job, but it's true that Cardhu's entirely drunk by a handful of countries. Such as the French, naturally. Finish: medium, sweet, cakey, malty. Comments: it's really getting sweeter, unless that's me (getting bitterer, haha).
SGP:551 - 79 points.

Dalwhinnie 2006/2021 'Distiller's Edition' (43%, OB, D.SC.315)

Dalwhinnie 2006/2021 'Distiller's Edition' (43%, OB, D.SC.315) Three stars and a half
Double-matured in oloroso, which is probably the best you could do as far as finishing in wine is concerned. I rather liked earlier vintages, for once I thought the finished-up versions were better than the natural ones. Colour: light gold. Nose: it is the case, this has more structure, more profoundness, and less easy sweetness. Notes of stout, chocolate, cigars, walnut cake… That's all very nice indeed. Mouth: certainly crushes the regular 15. More toffee, coffee (and, err, Nescafé), walnut wine again, Ovaltine (isn't Ovaltine or Ovomaltine disappearing these days?) and proper chocolate. I mean, chocolate by a chocolatier, not chocolate from a huge factory. Drops of stout once more. Finish: a very malty finish, with some smoke (wood). Some bigger barley-y sweetness coming through in the aftertaste, thank God this is the aftertaste. Comments: really very good, with this coffeeish side. In fact, it reminds me a bit of the older regular 15s.
SGP:552 - 84 points.

Dalwhinnie 16 yo (15?) (43%, Sestante, +/-1980)

Dalwhinnie 16 yo (15?) (43%, Sestante, +/-1980) Four stars
I've tried this before, but I'm not sure this is the same batch and second, independent Dalwhinnies are as rare as a promise kept by Prez. Putin. Now this should be G&M CC bearing bespoke labelling. Colour: gold. Nose: wee OBE (metal polish), otherwise cakes and a little sulphur, struck matches, new tyres and inner tubes, then a growing maltiness, pretty spectacular and, should you enjoy malty notes, hard to resist. Feels like some very old white Bourgogne that lost its freshness, but ventured into wonderfully nutty territories. In the ways of an amontillado, if you will. Mouth: excellent, with oranges this time, caramel, malty cakes, chocolate, Mars bar and millionaire shortbread, then strong honey and even molasses. Finish: long, same, the 43% vol. do not feel. Mocha and chicory coffee, which is wonderful. Comments: I'll say it, this is rather a carbon copy of the early official Dalwhinnie 15s, circa 1980-1990. The ones that we'll always remember…
SGP:652 – 87 points.

Dalwhinnie 33 yo 1987/2020 (49.8%, OB, Casks of Distinction for Abbot Society, 1st fill American oak, cask #819, 156 bottles)

Dalwhinnie 33 yo 1987/2020 (49.8%, OB, Casks of Distinction for Abbot Society, 1st fill American oak, cask #819, 156 bottles) Four stars
One of those Private Casks Diageo are selling to individuals or small companies or groups while they had spent the last twenty-five years telling other individuals (such as this very one) that they would never do that. I suppose the saying 'only fools do not change their minds' does also apply to very large multinationals, and no, it is not only a matter of money. Love Diageo anyway. Colour: gold. Nose: Dalwhinnie's proverbial wee smokiness does feel this time, the maltiness is big too, as expected, while all kinds of cakes would be bursting out later on. Mouth: I'm finding it a little rough despite these very nice honeyed notes, the maple syrups, watermelon liqueur, triple-sec… Lots of cakes. Finish: same, long and cakey. Touches of grass and rubber in the aftertaste. Comments: this one's been having a little trouble after the Sestante, which was rather better chiselled, with a clearer line, but it sure remained an excellent drop.
SGP:452 - 85 points.

(Thank you Aaron and your friend!)

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

 

August 3, 2022


Whiskyfun

WF

 

 

The 20th Anniversary Sessions,
today Ben Nevis

We need to do fewer long-line-up tasting sessions to avoid over-extending our meagre forces. Qui va piano va sano e lontano, as they say in Iceland. That's why despite a rather well-stocked Ben Nevis box, we'll only have two or three of them, to further celebrate our 20th Anniversary and to keep thinking of former manager extraordinaire Colin Ross, who passed away around one year ago.  

Ben Nevis 6 yo 2014/2022 'Unicorn' (46%, Signatory Vintage, Kirsch Import, 1st fill sherry finish, 823 bottles)

Ben Nevis 6 yo 2014/2022 'Unicorn' (46%, Signatory Vintage, Kirsch Import, 1st fill sherry finish, 823 bottles) Four stars
Not too sure about the label here. Much love love love for Kirsch Import, but I'm wondering if it shouldn't rather be Kitsch Import, only this time of course (all in good spirits ;-)). Not too sure about the word 'unicorn' either, I've only heard good folks using it w.r.t. whisky for around five of six years. But yeah, it's the liquid that counts. Colour: amber honey. Nose: a wee fight in your glass at first, between the sherry and Ben Nevis's 'dirty' side that we usually enjoy so much. Pretty unexpectedly, the sherry wins it, with rather vast amounts of fudge, Mars bars, millionaire shortbread, dried figs and fig chutney, profiteroles and Jaffa cake. At times we're reminded of the older Macallan 8, circa 1980. Mouth: this is funny, as a similar wee clash happens on the palate (pepper, coal dust, dark honey, shoe polish) while rather softer, very toffeeish notes would then take over. Some kind of spicy fruitcake topped with caramel sauce. Same comments about that old Mac 8 (full-sherried). Finish: good length, caramel, toffee, butterscotch, black raisins. Comments: a sherried youngster very much made 'the old way'. Close your eyes and you'll hear Ultravox or XTC (did you notice that we're modernising our references?)

SGP:652 - 86 points.

Update: its been confirmed that this was an April Fool's whisky! We've been caught!

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1997/2019 (55.7%, OB for Alambic Classique, refill sherry butt, cask #199, 481 bottles)

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1997/2019 (55.7%, OB for Alambic Classique, refill sherry butt, cask #199, 481 bottles) Five stars
These mid-1990s vintage have a reputation for being of rather high quality. We'll probably do an horizontale soon, by the way. So just a taste of them this time… Colour: white wine (hurray). Nose: wham! (not a musical reference this time). Extreme porridge, sourdough, Sylvaner, chalk, coal dust, raw lemon juice, baker's yeast and raw rhubarb. With water: extremely pure, with this very specific mineral fatness. New sneakers, new pullover, ski wax. Mouth (neat): grandioso, ultra-tight, acidic, pungent, sharp, you could us this as lemon juice in some kind of double-strength sour. Stunning chalkiness. With water: clearly smoky now. I'm not afraid of mentioning Longrow here. Finish: lingering, waxy, sooty, smoky, lemony, and with an appropriately dirtier aftertaste. Comments: a Ben Nevis with no dirtiness at all wouldn't be a Ben Nevis. Terrific bottle, if you enjoy these totally fruitless and very dry whiskies as much as I do. Cheers Colin Ross.
SGP:363 - 91 points.

Perhaps a third one but do not expect more…

Ben Nevis 25 yo 1996/2021 (55%, Fadandel, refill sherry butt, cask #447, 470 bottles)

Ben Nevis 25 yo 1996/2021 (55%, Fadandel, refill sherry butt, cask #447, 470 bottles) Four stars and a half
There are many such 1996s and that is a blessing. In other words, we could have picked many other but as I think I said, we'll soon do a nice horizontale of mid-1990s Ben Nevis. Colour: amber. Nose: one of the reasons why I picked this one is that it just noses like a 50/50 blend of Kirsch's Unicorn and Alambic's OB. Chalky and yeasty waxes plus caramel and Mars bars, unified by some old-school marmalade. There, you have it. With water: just keeps going on the same path, towards miso and, perhaps, the tiniest pinhead of natto. Brrr, that is a little scary (jo-king). Mouth (neat): some leathery, peppery and very tobacco-y BN dirtiness at first, then bags of bitter old walnuts (not talking about any politicians here) and litres of orange bitters. With water: perfect, this time the spirit wins and would display its trademark waxy, mineral and, well, dirty sides. Finish: long, but relatively soft. Some sweet pepper and notes of marrow quenelles in the aftertaste. We'd kill a whole battalion for marrow quenelles. Comments: it's hard to come after an all-natural splendour such as the 1997, but I think this one did extremely well.

SGP:462 - 89 points.

No, this time we're keeping our promises, session over.

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

 

August 2, 2022


Whiskyfun

WF

 

 

The 20th Anniversary Sessions,
today Bowmore

After the utterly flabbergasting Largiemeanoch on WF's birthday, let's have some other Bowmores, as it is a distillate that we like really a lot (except for most 1980s vintages and some of the late 1970s). Provided no heady, cloying and frankly stuffy wood treatments has ever been inflicted.
(photograph, Islay weather, 2007, WF Archive)

 

 

Bowmore 'Tiger's Choice' (59.9%, Clan Denny for Or Sileis, Taiwan, barrel, cask #DL14130, 239 bottles, 2020)

Bowmore 'Tiger's Choice' (59.9%, Clan Denny for Or Sileis, Taiwan, barrel, cask #DL14130, 239 bottles, 2020) Four stars
No age and no vintage that I can find here, which doesn't make it easy to insert into a verticale, but it's 'most probably very young', as are all NAS in our book. So, let's have this one as #1. Clan Denny is a Douglas Laing sub-brand. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: you do feel the youth (mercurochrome, medicinal alcohol), you do feel Bowmore's tropical fruitiness too. Plus a very coastal, very salty smokiness. The strength is a little high. With water: fruit syrups and rather a little 'sweet' varnish. It really needs quite some water to get to the coastal phenols. Mouth (neat): syrupy, massive, eau-de-vie-ish, a little brutal when neat. Some pears (youth indeed) and ultra-ripe papayas. With water: there, some salted and smoked fish, anchovies, sardines, rollmops… How very Bowmore, but you need to fight your way to these parts. Lovely brine, some limoncello. Finish: rather long, young, sweet. The aftertaste is awesome now, clean, fat, Bowmoreish. Comments: not too sure how old this is, but a few more years would have helped, I would say. But the drop is first-class.
SGP:636 (unusual profile, big treble and bass, few mediums) - 85 points.

Bowmore 19 yo 2002/2021 (50.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 180 bottles)

Bowmore 19 yo 2002/2021 (50.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 180 bottles) Four stars and a half
Oh well, all siblings and compadres have been nothing short of stunning in my book, so this note is probably a little superfluous. Colour: straw. Nose: geranium, new rubber (tyres), tomato leaves, seaweed, lime juice, seawater, oysters and, once more, limoncello. Balance is perfect. With water: fresh mint and pink grapefruits taking off. Splendid Bowmoreness. Mouth (neat): fat, smoky, lemony, salty, coastal, chiselled and pretty hi-precision. I believe it's time we mention whelks, our friends. One day I'll tell you about that day, forty years ago, when I first bought some whelks while not knowing that you had to cook them. An utter disaster, it was. With water: a little sweet, almost syrupy, but otherwise everything works in sync, citrus, brine, fish, smoke… Finish: lovely, just a wee tad sweetish, or it would have reached the 90-mark in my book. Comments: splendid and, most of all, extremely idiosyncratic (yeah right). You can't get enough of that.

SGP:656 - 89 points.

On to the 2001s…

Bowmore 16 yo 2001/2017 (54.8%, Cadenhead, Whisky Shop Baden)

Bowmore 16 yo 2001/2017 (54.8%, Cadenhead, Whisky Shop Baden) Five stars
So very predictable! Let's do this quick… Colour: white wine. But naturally. Nose: chalk, beach sand, smoked fish, oysters, tarmac, seaweed… But naturally. With water: new rubber bands, whelks, winkles, new engine oil, olive brine. Of course. Mouth (neat): tar, salt, lemon juice, seawater, mezcal, green olives, lime twist. But naturally. With water: emphasis on salty tar and lemon zests. Obviously. Finish: stunning sharpness but with once more a wee syrupy sweetness. Brine in the aftertaste. Comments: extraordinary purity. Was this quick enough? But naturally… What's dead sure is that we needed these batches of Bowmore within our celebratory tasting sessions. And there's more.

SGP:556 - 90 points.

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2020 (50.8%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind & Wave, refill bourbon barrel, cask #11715)

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2020 (50.8%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind & Wave, refill bourbon barrel, cask #11715) Five stars
This is what we call deflated packaging. Or swimming against the flow (as most fish do anyway, according to experts, but there). Colour: straw. Nose: a bit more on the dry-white side, with more sourness, less sweet roundness, and yet a few drops of coconut wine and perhaps even pina colada. No problems, senor general! With water: ooh old clothes in an old wardrobe in an old attic in an old house in an old to… (that'll do, S.) Mouth (neat): just incredible. Totally bright, lifted, ethereal, salty, lemony, and this time with many complex side tones, flowers, wee berries, tiny herbs… But-what-a-whisky! With water: whaah! I can't see what I would change in this wee Bowmore, apart from the number of centilitres in the bottle. Amazing bottle. Finish: in keeping, perhaps a notch saltier. Comments: once again the purity here wins it. To think that some would dump this into PX or Port.

SGP:656 - 91 points.

Quicker please…

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2020 (55.4%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind & Wave, refill bourbon barrel, cask #11714)

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2020 (55.4%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind & Wave, refill bourbon barrel, cask #11714) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: close of course, but different, a tad more on grasses, rawer peat smoke, as if this barrel had been less active. No pina colada this time. With water: more damp earth this time, dunnage… Splendid. Mouth (neat): terrifically coastal and mentholy. I don't think I've ever had a plate of oysters with some fresh mint, and not sure anyone would try that, but that's what I'm getting. The whisky is dazzlingly impressive. With water: masterpiece. Finish: sadly. Comments: I think I like this kind of purity even more, but that's not enough to warrant one more point. Mind you, at this kind of altitude, further points are getting extremely expensive, as our bankers in the Caiman Islands very well know..

SGP:556 - 91 points.

It's time to try to retrieve much older vintages, no?

Bowmore 30 yo 1972 (53.2%, Kingsbury, Japan, hogshead, cask #927, 209 bottles, +/-2002)

Bowmore 30 yo 1972 (53.2%, Kingsbury, Japan, hogshead, cask #927, 209 bottles, +/-2002) Five stars
Nicknamed 'the Celtic label', well not sure about what was Celtic, but these Bowmores by Kingsbury / Eaglesome / Cadenhead have always been of very high extraction (taking about lineage, not about wood). Get prepared… Colour: full gold. Nose: these are very moving vintages, because after the very buoyant 1960s, the 1970s just couldn't do it any better. Impossible! And yet, and despite a tiny wee soapiness that was starting to appear here and there, many have been fantastic. This is no exception, with these notes of blueberry tarte and puréed chestnuts, blood oranges (big time, wow!), a curious winey side (checked the actual cask)… With water:  ho-ho, Maggi, lovage, miso, vegetal umami, walnuts… And yet it was a hogshead. Mouth (neat): sweets, bonbons, marshmallows, toffee apples… The new style of Bowmore was already there. When did our Japanese friends buy Bowmore again? Right, only in the early 1990s, but these batches were already clearly different. I mean, from those of the 1960s and very early 1970s. With water: back to the insane tropicalness of the 1960s. Mangos, pink grapefruits and maracuja all over the place. Finish: medium, very fruity, rather on wine gums, with a very , very soft smokiness. Comments: nothing was obvious in this one. It's extraordinary whisky and, 'in theory', should have fetched an extraordinarily high score. The thing is, those b****y 2001s have kind of blocked it.

SGP:653 - 90 points.

Bowmore 14 yo 1971 (57.7%, Sestante, +/-1985)

Bowmore 14 yo 1971 (57.7%, Sestante, +/-1985) Five stars
Right, I did try this one (from another bottle, obviously) back in 2012 and many friends whom I trust have been gently complaining about the fact that my score had been really low given the pedigree (WF 77). Fine, we're not stubborn, let's just give it another try, ten years later. Honestly, I don't remember much about the first time I tried this Bowie, all I've got is my old tasting note. So, with an open mind and a willing heart, let's try this baby again. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: all right, all right. Quince jelly, vegetal earth, blood oranges, overripe mangos… A real feeling of super-top-end sangria, in fact. Well well well… With water:  mint, liquorice, fruity earth (compost) and fruity yeasts. Mouth (neat): wow. I would suppose the one I tried in 2012 had been wrecked, even if I'm not quite an integral fan of these reddish fruits that are roaming this palate. German strawberry wine, okkkay… With water: it's a sweet fruit bomb, with tiny herbs, tobaccos and dried fruits (prunes!) playing around. At times you're thinking of old Ténarèze. Finish: rather long, rich and yet balanced, with rather blood oranges at the helm. Comments: what's totally sure is that back in 2012, on that day, I was either in a very bad mood, or the whisky I had had been having much trouble. Not too sure, it's to be remembered that back then, many of us were having a rather poor opinion on Bowmore, generally speaking. We were expecting total wreckage, to be honest, as the 1980s had been so horrendously nasty. Now I'd rather go for either a wrecked bottle, or a wrecked sample, as that one had virtually no fruits at all.  So, as only fools never change their mind…

SGP:644 - 90 points.

PS: not sure I've ever seen an OB sporting the wording 'The Bowmore', have you? Goody good, let' have a newer one just to lift our spirits, before we call this a tasing session.

Bowmore 16 yo 1998 (Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill barrel, #3.236, 'Heathery smoke drifting by the shore', 141 bottles, +/-2015)

Bowmore 16 yo 1998 (Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill barrel, #3.236, 'Heathery smoke drifting by the shore', 141 bottles, +/-2015) Four stars and a half
I agree, not that new, but we've got a good feeling here. Colour: light gold. Nose: yes, these slightly animal touches, these whiffs of farmyard, dog, then paint and putty, lobster, linseed oil, sesame and raisins… A different game altogether, much farmier. With water: burning manure, garden bonfire, orange squash. Mouth (neat): super good, full of candied fruits, as in some proper cassata ice cream. Behind that, Asian wines and drinks, umeshu and all that. Prune wine. Love it. Please note that I'm totally aware of the fact that writing 'Asian' is terribly myopic and that we know very well that every country and even every region or even tiny town has got its own stunning delicacies. End of shameful PC statement. With water: excellent, just a tad fattish and sweetish here and there. Syrupy, as we sometimes write. Finish: long, saltier, so excellent. Comments: I can see why that 'heathery smoke', well spotted dear SMWS!
SGP:656 - 88 points.

(Thanks as ever, Angus, Lukas and KC!)

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

 

August 1, 2022


Whiskyfun

today Benromach

 

 

The 20th Anniversary Celebratory Sessions, today Benromach

Always loved this age verification page when you go to Benromach's website. We keep not liking those numpty NAS whiskies at WF, nothing short of highway robbery in some cases, with brands (not Benromach!) selling their 5s for the prices of a 20. Right, rambling again...

Benromach

Benromach's latest 40 yo, last year, was utterly stunning (WF 93) while an earlier version at 43% vol., named 'Heritage' had been almost as much to my liking (WF 91). The Distillery's mildly peaty style makes wonders, but it is to be remembered that these batches had still been distilled and filled by ex-owners United Distillers, later to be merged into Diageo. Also remember that the Distillery got closed in 1983, only to be restarted by current owners Gordon & MacPhail in 1998. So, in theory, next year's possible 40 yo would make for the last proper 40 before… 2038. Let's first find a proper sparring partner…

 

Benromach 2011/2022 (48%, OB, Germany Exclusive, batch #2, 1800 bottles)

Benromach 2011/2022 (48%, OB, Germany Exclusive, batch #2, 1800 bottles) Four stars
A new expression for our neighbours Germany, this time ex-sherry and ex-bourbon. Colour: light gold. Nose: it's really got this dirty-ish side that we always like a lot, akin to what could be sometimes nosed around Campbeltown. Old engine oils, old boats, white clay, wool, dust and dirt indeed… I believe there's rather more of all that in this wee 2011 than in the earlier 2009 for Germany (apparently, I'm just reading my older note as we speak). No complains. Mouth: heavy fino, mustard, green walnuts, grapefruit skin, paraffin, ashes and bitter fruit peel. No compromises this time, this one's as dry as a bone. Some sour fruits too, cherry stems perhaps… Finish: long. I'm reminded of some rather brutal amontillados I've tried recently (I'm a member of a wee club and am now getting new bottles regularly). Peppery aftertaste. Comments: I totally hate expressions such as 'this whisky is not for beginners' but believe me, this whisky is not for beginners. I think.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Benromach 40 yo '2022 Release' (57.6%, OB, sherry, 1132 bottles)

Benromach 40 yo '2022 Release' (57.6%, OB, sherry, 1132 bottles) Five stars
Colour: full gold. Nose: a little unusual given that this should be ex-first fill sherry, with rather more butterscotch than expected as well as some cassata and that very insane thing you'll sometimes find in Italy, proper caramel ice-cream, this time covered with blackberry cream or liqueur. Works with guignolet/Heering too. Behind that, pipe tobacco and drier raisins, plus something that really makes me think of certain old armagnacs I've enjoyed so much lately. With water: drier, rather on old teas, including our beloved old pu-ehrs that we keep mentioning. Mouth (neat): grand. Walnuts in all their guises, as cakes, tartes, liqueurs, wines and cordials. With water: some sweetness now, fruitcake, marmalade, baklavas, kumquats (dag!) and, this time again, a tiny Campbeltownian side. Spent engine grease, you know. Finish: long, splendid. Tobacco, marmalade, sweet mustard and walnuts. Oh and 'engine grease' indeed. A classic cocoa – coffee – cigars combo in the aftertaste. Comments: I agree this whisky deserved a longer tasting note, but there, my glass is empty. Another very good sign.

SGP:462 - 92 points.

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

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

July 2022

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Milton Distillery 72 yo 1949/2022 (48.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, first fill sherry puncheon, cask #383, 180 bottles) - WF92

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Brora 1972/1994 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice) - WF95

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
None this month

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Mauxion 'Lot 31' (43.5%, OB, Borderies, +/-2022)  - WF93

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
None this month

July 2022 - part 2 <--- August 2022 - part 1 ---> August 2022 - part 2


 

 
   

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1997/2019 (55.7%, OB for Alambic Classique, refill sherry butt, cask #199, 481 bottles)

Bowmore 16 yo 2001/2017 (54.8%, Cadenhead, Whisky Shop Baden)

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2020 (50.8%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind & Wave, refill bourbon barrel, cask #11715)

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2020 (55.4%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind & Wave, refill bourbon barrel, cask #11714)

Bowmore 30 yo 1972 (53.2%, Kingsbury, Japan, hogshead, cask #927, 209 bottles, +/-2002)

Bowmore 14 yo 1971 (57.7%, Sestante, +/-1985)

Benromach 40 yo '2022 Release' (57.6%, OB, sherry, 1132 bottles)

Caol Ila 35 yo 1982/2017 (53.6%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 156 bottles)

Caol Ila 31 yo 1990/2022 (45.6%, Whisky Concerto, Cask Le Sens, hogshead, cask #13132, 173 bottles)

Caol Ila 1974/1989 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail for Meregalli Giuseppe) 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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