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Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2013 - Part 2
       

January 2013 - part 1 <--- January 2013 - part 2 ---> February 2013 - part 1

 

January 31, 2013


Whiskyfun

Isn't patience the companion
of wisdom?

Crikey, it seems that my nose is not quite fit yet! And as you know, when the nose is down, the palate doesn’t quite work either. Less sweetness and fruitiness and more dry, bitter, tea-ish and cardboardy notes than usual, that’s what my dear benchmark whiskies were displaying yesterday. This sort of thing can happen to me several times per year but I usually have enough unpublished sessions to fill the gaps. Bah, let’s simply be patient and in the meantime, these were January’s favourites…

 

Whiskyfun fav of the month

January 2013

Favourite recent bottling:
Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2012' (56.1%, OB) - WF 91

Favourite older bottling:
Laphroaig 14 yo 1970/1984 (57.1%, Samaroli for Osteria Apostoli, cask #4367) - WF 97

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Littlemill 20 yo 1992/2012 (54.8%, Archives, bourbon hogshead, cask #44, 339 bottles)  - WF 90
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
PJ
PJ

 

 

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Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: John Zorn. Track: Train To Thiensan. Please visit John Zorn's website and buy his music...
 
 

January 29, 2013


Whiskyfun

Bad Nose Days

   

On strike!
I'm joking, I'm rather suffering from some bad noze days begause ov zome gind ov vlue and juzt gouldn't broberly dry any whizkies in ze lazt days, while WF's zdog ov unbublished dasding nodes is now dezberadely embdy. But zee you very zoon, I'm veeling zlighdly bedder already... - S.

 

 

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Block Today: SOUL JAZZ. Performer: Odell Brown and The Organizers. Track: She's Coming My Way (1967). Please visit Odell Brown's website and buy his music...
 
 

January 27, 2013


Whiskyfun

Tasting two Braes of Glenlivet

Braes of Glenlivet aka Braeval proves to be very rare. We had some excellent ultra-sherried ones quite a few years ago but otherwise, the name goes rather unnoticed these days.

Braes of Glenlivet 1994/2012 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #159165)

Braes of Glenlivet 1994/2012 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #159165) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: I can certainly understand why BBR chose to bottle this as a single. There’s a lot happening, with a start on some vivid chocolate and mint and a beautiful development on raspberry jelly and marshmallows. Liquorice allsorts, jelly babies – anything by Haribo, really. The cask imparts some kind of wood smoke that goes very well and prevents the whole from becoming too, say ‘childish’. Seriously, a great nose, very original but not odd at all. Mouth: starts very malty and grassy, with a lot more power than the ABV suggests as well as a spectacular chocolaty profile at first sips, quite unusual in lightly sherried – or not sherried at all, not too sure – whiskies. Milk chocolate with a little pepper, then more fresh oak, white pepper, cinnamon... Also a little coconut but also more and more oak, just a notch aggressive. Chillies? Finish: very long, slightly Tabasco-ish but also always very chocolaty. Mexican mole sauce, capsicum. Comments: what a beast! It’s an unusual whisky that’s very likeable provided you’ve got an open mind (haha). The peppery tannicity can be a challenge. SGP:572 - 86 points.

Braeval 12 yo 1996/2009 (57.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, sherry butt, cask #4904, 488 bottles)

Braeval 12 yo 1996/2009 (57.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, sherry butt, cask #4904, 488 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: we’re more or less in the same territories but this baby seems to be more citrusy, almost citric. Quite some green wood and grass above the layer of jelly babies and other sweets. Lemon grass, lime juice… Some zing! After a few minutes: here we go, a lot of chocolate. With water: more farmyardy! Heavy barley and broken branches, then back to chocolaty territories. Mouth (neat): very powerful, very eau-de-vie-ish. Kirsch and Cointreau, in a way… Maybe a little tequila? Lemon squash? No easy juice so far… With water: there’s soapiness coming out. Parma violets (remember those have nothing to do with the exquisite things you can make or bake out of genuine little violets), orange liqueur… Settles down after a short while, with a lot of barley sugar and oak. Finish: quite long, gritty because of the oak. Comments: it’s funny that this is actually very close to BBR’s excellent 1994, while some minor flaws puts it into a very different category. Having said that, I had already tried this baby two or three years ago and I think I liked it better. Death seat effect? Bah… SGP:371 – 79 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Braes of Glenlivet I've tasted so far

 

 

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Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Mark Levine. Track: Iztlan. Please visit Mark Levine's website and buy his music...
 

 

Pinot Noir Mure et Mann

Wine (for Whisky Lovers)
The Alsatians are always sneezing at their Pinots Noirs, maybe because we’re too close to PN’s homeland Burgundy. However, a few winemakers have started to make some red ‘super-pinots noirs’ since quite some years and I must say I found these two pretty ‘Bourguignon’. They’re Albert Mann’s Grand H 2008 and René Murés Clos Saint Landelin 2009 (the Cuvée V was a little less outstanding). Hoppla!

 

January 25, 2013


Whiskyfun
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
PJ
PJ
 

The Mini-Verticales, today Bunnahabhain

There are so many new independent Bunnahabhains these days, it’s almost a tsunami. Let’s have another bunch of them, all having being bottled in 2012. Just for fun, we’ll choose three expressions from three different decades, which should make for nine whiskies if my maths is correct. And to keep it even more fun – hopefully - we’ll try to pick wildly different ones, heavy peaters, bourbon, heavy sherry or else…

Bunnahabhain 5 yo 2006/2012 'Moine' (61.1%, Archives, bourbon hogshead, cask #800041, 264 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 5 yo 2006/2012 'Moine' (61.1%, Archives, bourbon hogshead, cask #800041, 264 bottles) Two stars and a half 'Moine' is another name for peated Bunnahabhain - and in French it means 'monk'. Just saying… Colour: virtually white. Nose: it's almost newmake, just a little more polished and rounded by time. The smoke is moderate while there's a lot of white bread, yeast and porridge as well as touches of both white rum and tequila. What's more, it's not particularly strong at 61%. With water: kirsch and hay. Became very farmy. Mouth (neat): sweet smoky newmake! Very ashy, drying, acrid, it's almost liquid smoke. Not easy so far. With water: a little sweeter, it remains newmake. Always a lot of ashes. Cigar ashes. Finish: long, earthy and ashy (yes) with pears in the aftertaste. Comments: as I wrote, this is nearly newmake. In that sense, it's very interesting and even quite good but maybe it's not exactly 'whisky'. One of the best vodkas ever? Heavy smoke. These ultra-young peaters may need sherry to be more, say appealing - and sometimes stunning. SGP:237 - 79 points.

Bunnahabhain 6 yo 2005/2012 (60.1%, Riverstown, hogshead, cask #11045, 262 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 6 yo 2005/2012 'Moine' (60.1%, Riverstown, hogshead, cask #11045, 262 bottles) Three stars Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: interestingly, it's a slightly more mature version of the 2006, with more ashes and a straighter smoke. Pleasant touches of fern and moss, maybe a little sage? Also something curiously sausagy (knacks) and then extreme grass after a few minutes. With water: more sour wood, vanilla… And Williams pears. Mouth (neat): same comments, it's sweeter and a notch rounder than the 2006 but it's got the same heavy ashes. Lemon and apple juice. With water: it's more mature than the 2006 and that shows. Nice pepper, gentian, ashes, tar, a little brine… Finish: long, leafy, ashy. A lot of strong green tea in the aftertaste and maybe a little glue? Comments: another peat monster, as they say. SGP:337 - 80 points.

Bunnahabhain 10 yo 2001/2012 (46%, The Maltman, sherry cask)

Bunnahabhain 10 yo 2001/2012 (46%, The Maltman, sherry cask) Three stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: this is a fresh and fruity 'classic' Bunnahabhain, with pears and apples, fresh almonds, a little honey and then more dead leaves and earth. Also touches of mashed potatoes and dairy cream, then more ripe melon, which is something Bunnahabhain often shares with Bruichladdich in my opinion. It's a very fresh nose, very pleasant. Something faintly coastal as well (sea breeze) and then more leafy sherry. Candy, toffee. Mouth: works well, with some fruits (the usual apples and pears plus this melon again, maybe peaches) and a little candy sugar. Touches of honey and tobacco, one or two walnuts… I cannot not think of the official 12yo. Finish: quite long, a notch grassier. Spicy aftertaste (pepper and cinnamon) with a little smoke. Comments: I enjoy this, it's full and fresh and close to the distillery's usual style. SGP:442 - 83 points.

Bunnahabhain 1997/2012 'Driftwood' (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 374 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 1997/2012 'Driftwood' (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 374 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: this one is a peater again, with a crisp smokiness (coal, ashes) and hints of pears, then some bread, yeast, lager and sour apples. A little green tea as well, coastal notes... Nice freshness but it's no big peater. After a few minutes: I get the same meaty tones as in the 2005 (sausages, bacon). Mouth: this is quite excellent although it's no complex spirit. Pleasant peat/fresh fruits combo, which reminds me of some Ardmores. Peaches, even strawberries, liquorice, caraway seeds, ginger… It's all fresh and gets more peppery towards the finish. Finish: very long, with more ashes, we're closer to the youngsters. Very peppery aftertaste. Comments: these batches gained substance now that they reach 15 years of age. SGP:356 - 85 points.

Bunnahabhain 13 yo 1998/2012 (55.2%, Adelphi for Taiwan, cask #6039, 629 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 13 yo 1998/2012 (55.2%, Adelphi for Taiwan, cask #6039, 629 bottles) Four stars Colour: coffee. Nose: strong balsamico, coffee, bacon, liquorice, tar and big black raisins. Walnut taint. It's quite extreme sherry! Funny hints of tomato sauce as well. Tends to calm down after a few minutes but all the coffee remains there. With water: becomes gamy. More balsamic vinegar as well, cured ham, morels… Mouth (neat): huge sherry but amazingly, it remains balanced and even kind of elegant. Orangettes (zests dipped into chocolate), raspberry ganache, prunes and coffee. It's not even thickish. With water: added bergamots, baklavas, raisins… Finish: long, never drying despite the 'heavy' cask. Comments: nice soup ;-). Not too sure the distillate has its say, that is… SGP:652 - 87 points.

Bunnahabhain 1991/2012 (46.1%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #5525)

Bunnahabhain 1991/2012 (46.1%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #5525) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: clean fresh, half-grassy half-fruity combination, with some grass and fresh almonds as well as these notes of melon that we had before. Very Bruichladdich! After a few minutes: smells like both a candy store and a freshly mown lawn. Mouth: excellently fresh and fruity, complex, with tangerines and green spices, these melons again, peaches, a little candy sugar and just touches of vanilla. Perfect balance. Finish: a little more fresh oak but it remains fresh and fruity. Comments: excellent Bunnahabhain au naturel, easy to quaff. SGP:641 - 88 points.

Bunnahabhain 32 yo 1979/2012 (51.4%, Signatory for Waldhaus am See Switzerland, cask #9516, 603 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 32 yo 1979/2012 (51.4%, Signatory for Waldhaus am See Switzerland, cask #9516, 603 bottles) Four starsColour: amber. Nose: a clean walnutty sherry, with some leather and tobacco. Much more soy sauce and gunpowder after ten minutes or so. Dried mushrooms, touches of English brown sauce, maybe chives. With water: herbs galore! Chives, parsley, maybe even oregano… That's fun! More balsamic vinegar as well. Mouth (neat): same feeling, oranges and gunpowder with some praline, toffee, milk chocolate and quite some ashes. Bitter oranges. With water: same except that it becomes grassier and more leathery. Tobacco, oranges. Finish: long and quite grassy. Slightly bitter and mushroomy aftertaste. Comments: lots happening in this one. It's maybe not the most balanced old Bunnahabhain but well, who cares?  SGP:562 - 87 points.

Bunnahabhain 35 yo 1976/2012 (49.1%, Whisky-Doris, sherry hogshead, cask #6112, 248 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 35 yo 1976/2012 (49.1%, Whisky-Doris, sherry hogshead, cask #6112, 248 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: complex chocolaty sherry. Some mocha, raisins, prunes, dates and then a little mint and eucalyptus. A little ham as well… After a few minutes: more parsley and beef stock and always a lot of chocolate. With water: gets grassier. Mouth: bags of oranges and a slight earthiness. Quite some pepper too, ginger, black tea and dry fino sherry. Also touches of raspberries. With water: more pepper and cinnamon from the oak as well as a little more Cointreau. Finish: long, dry. Bitter chocolate and raisins, then cloves and cinnamon. Comments: high quality, good balance, well integrated oak. But once again, the cask does most of the talking. SGP:562 - 88 points.

Bunnahabhain 38 yo 1973/2012 (41.2%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry butt, cask #1)

Bunnahabhain 38 yo 1973/2012 (41.2%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry butt, cask #1) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: it's the sweetest and the most fragrant within the lot. Sultanas and honey, camphor, liquorice, figs, quinces and then growing notes of juicy ripe Muscat grapes and rose petals. Lovable nose, the one I like best so far. Mouth: yes, beats all the other ones because it's more complex and more delicate at the same time. This time we have tropical fruits (mangos, papayas, bananas), orange blossom water, sultanas, dates and then more roasted nuts. Also touches of honey and again something slightly muscaty. The oak remains below the limits, it's neither tea-ish nor gritty. Finish: medium long, fresh, fruity. Bananas flambéed and tarte tatin. Comments: this one has got something extra: all these tropical fruits. Great freshness and a #1 indeed! ;-) Having said that, it's not very Bunnahabhain, I'd have thought this was rather an old Caperdonich, Glen Grant, Glenrothes or Glenlivet from good refill wood. SGP: 651- 90 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Bunnahabhain I've tasted so far

 

 

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Block Today: BLUES. We're going deep into the roots of the blues with Moroccan Gnawa master Majid Bekkas. Track: Galou. Please buy Majid Bekkas' music...
 
 

January 23, 2013


Whiskyfun

The Mini-Verticales – right, rather a little dramathon – today Laphroaig

I may have neglected my Laphroaigs lately, time to put all that right again. Always a pleasure, even if it’s not that easy to taste quite a few heavy peaters in a row…

Laphroaig 13 yo 1998/2011 (64.4%, C&S Dram Collection, sherry butt, cask #700048)

Laphroaig 13 yo 1998/2011 (64.4%, C&S Dram Collection, sherry butt, cask #700048) Three stars and a half It’s probably a bit strange to start a session with such a monster  - and a sherried one, at that - but this is a verticale and it’s the youngest of them all. Be sure we’ll make good use of water…  Colour: amber. Nose: huge gunpowder and struck matches at first nosing, but no cabbage or eggs so I don’t think anybody should claim this is a flaw. Besides, the peat does nothing but amplify those notes (fumes). Having that, it’ll burn your nostrils… So, with water: more gunpowder. A meeting at the NRA. Right, right… Also leather and cigars. Mouth (neat): huge and oily. Kumquats and massive doses of ashes and some kind of liquid tar. Very warming, to say the least. With water: less exuberant, the gunpowder turned into minerals and the tar remained there. Bitter oranges. Finish: long, more on marmalade and straight smoke. Bitterish aftertaste. Comments: a bestial baby, probably quite polarising. Once again, I will say Vive la Différence! SGP:377 - 84 points.

Laphroaig 14 yo 1998/2012 (53.8%, Archives, bourbon hogshead, cask #5619, 156 bottles)

Laphroaig 14 yo 1998/2012 (53.8%, Archives, bourbon hogshead, cask #5619, 156 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: starts fruitier than usual, with smoked pears or something like that. It’s no heavy Laphroaig so far. It isn’t very medicinal either, so a rather delicate one – sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? A little vanilla, oysters… With water: some more brine and something I like in some clean peaters: olive oil. Other oils too, linseed, sunflower… No more pears, rather lemons. Very narrow (narrowness is only pleasant in this kind of ‘flavour context’, I think) and very citrusy. That’s what I call a very nervous dram. In the background, some salt and smoke as usual. With water: crystal-clean yet smokier. Liquorice and tar. Finish: medium length, very tarry but mellower. Touches of candy sugar in the aftertaste, then ashes. Comments: this one grows and grows. Starts shy and becomes much bigger; that’s much better than the other way around, I guess. SGP:447 - 87 points.

Laphroaig 15 yo 1996/2012 (51.2%, Signatory, hogshead, cask #8510, 297 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1996/2012 (51.2%, Signatory, hogshead, cask #8510, 297 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: my my, this is very unusual. Amazingly vanilla-ed and caramelly, with just a little peat smoke. Chewy toffee, Werther’s Originals… Any coastal and medicinal notes that should be hidden there just don’t seem to manage to break this funny caramel barrier, but it’s all nice. With water: it all got even more caramelly. A double-pack of Werther’s. Mouth (neat): much less caramel but a lot of vanilla and coconut that suggest some very active American wood (despite the very pale colour). We’re actually quite close to the famous official Quarter Cask, if that rings a bell. Modern style Laphroaig. With water: a smoky pina colada? Funny dram, funny variant. Also lemon and apple juice 50/50. Finish: medium long, with more salt again. Always quite some vanilla and a feeling of tea with milk (which we never, ever do here, esp. since it seems that milks wrecks the health benefits of tea – yeah, and those of whisky ;-)) Comments: another interestingly smooooth Laphroaig. Pretty unusual but it’s good stuff for sure. SGP:546 - 84 points.

Laphroaig 17 yo 1995/2012 (53,9%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon barrel, 253 bottles)

Laphroaig 17 yo 1995/2012 (53,9%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon barrel, 253 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: yeah, we’re on the grassier and more coastal side, with apple peelings, lemon rinds, a bonfire on the beach, seaweed and all that. Iodine, creosote, roots… It’s a style that’s maybe a little less appealing to casual drinkers, but aficionados tend to like this better (I think). With water: became even grassier. Also cider, almonds, oysters. Mouth (neat): and now it’s fruitier. Lemon liqueurs, grapefruits, kiwis… Great oily yet nervous mouth feel. Tends to become sharper, with some chillies and lime. I think we may call that ‘very zesty’. With water: hurray, it becomes gentiany! So gentian eau-de-vie, earthy touches, other roots… It’s all excellent. Finish: long, the lemon coming to the front. Zesty! Comments: it’s quite multidimensional, very funny to follow. Entertaining! SGP:567 - 89 points.

Laphroaig 21 yo 1990/2011 (55,9%, The Whisky Agency & The Whisky Exchange ‘Private Stock’, bourbon hogshead, 264 bottles)

Laphroaig 21 yo 1990/2011 (55,9%, The Whisky Agency & The Whisky Exchange ‘Private Stock’, bourbon hogshead, 264 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: interestingly, this is pretty much like the 1995, only a little less mature. So more discreet, more mineral (clay, sand) and certainly grassier. It’s not a very smoky Laphroaig at this point. With water: correction, it’s a very smoky Laphroaig. Water unleashed the sooty/smoky side as well as some kind of green, zesty herbs, between rhubarb and, maybe sorrel? Chartreuse. BTW, any Chartreuse in Tarentino’s latest? Gosh, you just cannot escape the massive advertising campains for that movie, it’s absolutely everywhere, which makes you feel you just shouldn’t go see it. It’s a little nauseating, isn’t it. Mouth (neat): this time we’re closer to the 1995, it’s all very zesty, then peppery and even a little mustardy. A very punchy one that gets stronger and stronger, sort of like when you wolf down some ‘very hot’ Indian food with apparent ease (to impress your guests) and then feel the heat climbing up your oesophagus. I’m sure you know the feeling… With water: the situation is under control, phew! Finish: long, with peppery afterglows. Or ripples? Comments: same high quality as the 1995, only with many more spices. Actually, I like this one a little better, it’s got more oomph. SGP:467 - 90 points.

Let’s have a long break and then have two older ones.

Laphroaig 30 yo (43%, OB, US bottling, 75cl, +/-2002)

Laphroaig 30 yo (43%, OB, US bottling, 75cl, +/-2002) Five stars I’ve always loved the 30yo, a very complex whisky. This American version represents a good opportunity to have a go at it again. Colour: dark gold. Nose: ah yes, it’s well one of the stunning earlier batches of the 30! The complexity is simply amazing while there’s also this feeling of fullness and balance… In that sense, it’s a bit like a great old wine, it simply obvious. To cut a long story short, we have the most admirable combination of mellow smoke, sea air, light camphor and some kind of tropical fruit mix that’s anything but ‘show-off’ here. A supremely elegant nose. Mouth: waahwaahwaah… Sure it’s no ‘bodybuilt’ modern malt but it’s all absolutely delicious, with the just the right amount of everything that makes a great old Laphroaig. Cough syrup, brine, kippers, smoked salmon, straight smoke, many herbal teas, mint and ripe passion fruits and mangos. A little cardamom too. Brilliant and the 43% are anything but a problem. Finish: not the longest but otherwise it’s perfect, more medicinal (antiseptic) and ashy/sooty. Comments: such a great dram, too bad there are so many fakes around. So pure magic and certainly one of the best official Laphroaigs ever but buyers beware! SGP:556 - 93 points.

Laphroaig 14 yo 1970/1984 (57.1%, Samaroli for Osteria Apostoli, cask #4367)

Laphroaig 14 yo 1970/1984 (57.1%, Samaroli for Osteria Apostoli, cask #4367) Five stars An ultra-rare bottling from stocks from Cadenhead's/R.W. Duthie, when the company was still in Aberdeen and not yet in Campbeltown. If it’s anywhere near Samaroli’s 1970/1986 at 54%/720 bottles (WF 95), well rejoice rejoice… Colour: gold. Nose: not easy after the OB, it’s rather less aromatic and kind of closed, maybe because of the much higher strength. In fact, it’s certainly more medicinal and mineral but again, it’s a little blocked by the high alcohol – or is it simply very austere in comparison with the superb 30yo? Let’s see... With water: yesss. Everything, wet dogs (we’re all sorry, dogs), a pack of cough lozenges, fresh barley, grapefruits, creosote, pitch, kippers, engine oil, turpentine, carbolineum, fresh clay, citrons, mangos, shoe polish, fireworks… Yes, fireworks indeed. Mouth (neat): hits you right between your eyes. Powerful, immense, dominant, inevitable (what?) Extremely medicinal, it’s almost like drinking some kind of smoked mercurochrome… While some citrus fruits are having a good laugh about you in the background. Little bastards… Anyway, it’s the whisky that has taken control of you, not the other way round. Strange feeling… With water: we’re coming closer to the 30, just with a little less fruits and rather more smoke and oils. Please call the anti-maltoporn brigade forthwith! Finish: endless, becoming ashier and smokier. The aftermath of a heavy gunfight. Comments: please turn your speakers on, put the sound on eleven and listen to this (opens a new window, don't be afraid). That’s what I think about this whisky. SGP:368 - 97 points.

(Thank you mucho, Thomas and Tom!)

PS: I've seen likely fakes of that Samaroli so again and again, buyers beware! They're easy to detect, and it's not because it's written 'Laphroaihg' in the blurb (the genuine bottle has that too), please see below... Of course, it's not totally impossible that Samaroli would have used two different labels for the very same cask, but that's highly unlikely (dear Silvano, if you did, please advise).

Genuine

Fake
Most probably genuine Most probably fake

 

 

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Block Today: FUSION JAZZ. Performer: Barry Miles. Track: the very funny Magic Theater (1975). Please visit Barry Miles' website and buy his music...
 
 

January 22, 2013


Whiskyfun

The micro-Verticales, just two Aultmore

And we won’t go very deep today… But we’ll have to opposite schools!

Aultmore 5 yo 2007/2012 (66.8%, Master of Malt, 1st Fill Sherry Puncheon, 628 bottles)

Aultmore 5 yo 2007/2012 (66.8%, Master of Malt, 1st Fill Sherry Puncheon, 628 bottles) Three stars Five years old? Is this a new trend? I know there used to be some cheap 5yo Glen Grant, or Glen Scotia, or Glenfarclas, or Littlemill (or or or) in the old days, but today? Granted, we see some ultra-young peaters such as Ledaig or Bunnahabhains ‘Moine’, but Aultmore? Maybe they’re up to something?... Colour: full gold. Nose: 66.8%. A lot of pencil shavings, coffee, vanilla and chocolate, that is to say newish wood. The strength isn’t unbearable but for a sherried whisky, it’s quite bourbony I must say. With water: exactly what was to be expected, if I may say so. It’s perfect in its own genre. Sweet spices, sweet oak, ginger liqueur, vanilla, bubblegum, marshmallows. Mouth (neat): a malty bourbon? Huge arrival, sweet and spicy, ‘crafted’, 100% oak-driven. Cloves, mint, ginger, vanilla, maple syrup and touches of coconut. I wouldn’t like to insist but this is Scotch-style bourbon (yeah, or the other way ‘round). With water: huge sweetness. Syrupy. Ginger liqueur and fructose. Finish: long, sweet, gingery. Oranges. Comments: we need no politics but although I’d like to stress that I find this perfectly well made and even quite smart – and good - I’d hate that the whisky industry as a whole would take this road where it’s all a matter of wood. Where’s the spirit? In short, this baby’s got a ‘McDonald’s’ side that I find a little puzzling. Having said that, it’s really excellent stuff! (regrettably, eh eh…) Temporary kudos ;-). Btw, no sherry influence whatsoever (that I can get). SGP:741 - 82 points.

Aultmore 14 yo 1997/2012 (54.8%, James MacArthur, bourbon wood, cask #3592)

Aultmore 14 yo 1997/2012 (54.8%, James MacArthur, bourbon wood, cask #3592) Four starsColour: pale straw. Nose: it’s almost light and gentle after the boisterous 5yo. In a way, it’s younger because there isn’t so much newish wood, we’re much closer to the spirit? That is to say to very nice notes of western garden fruits. Cherries, apples, gooseberries, plums, pears, peaches… You name it. Nice and clean. With water: doesn’t change much. Maybe a little more sweet barley. Mouth (neat): perfect in its own style, that is to say a relatively simple but perfectly balanced youngish unsherried Speysider. Fresh apples everywhere, then peaches and touches of tangerines, fresh walnuts, a little grass, a little corn syrup… All simple, all good, all flawless. With water: more of the same, although we’re getting a little closer to the 5yo (which might be normal as we’re using the same water, our beloved Vittel ;-)). Finish: quite long, fresh, with an expected herbal side that’s much enjoyable. Mint, dill, pastis and such… Comments: fully naked and fully beautiful in its simplicty, very well selected Arthur. SGP:541 - 86 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Aultmore I've tasted so far

 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
PJ
PJ

 

 

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Block Today: JAZZ FUNK. Performer: Charlie Hunter's T.J. Kirk. Track: Damn Right I'm Somebody. Please visit Charlie Hunter's website and buy his music...
 
 

January 21, 2013


Whiskyfun

A verticale of young to middle-aged Caperdonich

I’ve long wanted to do a large and long Caperdonich verticale again and now’s the time. We might well encounter some peaters, so let’s be careful and take our time… Oh and we may also try several casks from the same vintage, so it’ll be a horizontale as well… Or do you say ‘a square tasting’?

Caperdonich 10 yo 1998/2008 (58.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #1277, 251 bottles)

Caperdonich 10 yo 1998/2008 (58.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #1277, 251 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: this is a peated one but what’s quite strange is this combination of very fruity, almost bubblegumy notes (bananas for sure, also pineapple drops, pears) with a heavy, acrid smoke, rather toward a garden bonfire under a mild rain. Heavy grass. We’re very far from the luscious old honey bombs… With water: raw smoke and mentholated barley. Twenty menthol cigarettes burning, then hints of hay and cow stable… Mouth (neat): ultra-peaty and mega-grassy, almost monstrous. Very spectacular, hugely ashy as well, not unlike Octomore or Ardbeg Supernova if those ring a bell. In short, it’s extreme – an ashtray in a bottle. With water: becomes sweeter and cooler (the methols’s effect?) Much more lemony as well. Good stuff! Finish: long, even more lemony now, while the peat became more civilised. Comments: spectacular peated Caperdonich. Not all ex-Seagram peaters from Speyside have been brilliant but this cask worked very, very, very well. SGP:378 - 88 points.

Caperdonich 12 yo 1996/2009 (52.6%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 317 bottles)

Caperdonich 12 yo 1996/2009 (52.6%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 317 bottles) one star and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: this one is completely different but very interesting. It’s very grassy and mentholated at first nosing, then quite butyric and metallic at the same time. Raw eau-de-vie, some cardboard… Not an easy one. Grass smoke. With water: nah, new plastic pouch, burning tyres, soap and custard… This is difficult. Mouth (neat): quite some peat now but much less than in the 1998. Heavy grass as well, unreduced tequila... Hard stuff! With water: really strange, metallic, kind of chemical, with some plastic again. Eating some chalk. Finish: quite long, herbal and cardboardy. And always these notes of plastic, even ink. Smoked marzipan. Comments: unlikely whisky, I’d say. Some parts are entertaining but there isn’t much pleasure to be found in my opinion. SGP:265 - 68 points.

Phew, I think a break is needed. Yes, already…

Caperdonich 16 yo 1995 (53.5%, Jack Wiebers, Brass and Mining Collection, sherry, 132 bottles, +/-2012)

Caperdonich 16 yo 1995 (53.5%, Jack Wiebers, Brass and Mining Collection, sherry, 132 bottles, +/-2012) Three stars and a half Colour: pale amber. Nose: a very vinous and winey nose for a start, we’re almost nosing a glass of fino. There’s some sour apple juice, touches of walnuts, oranges, some whiffs of old wine barrels… After a few minutes, it’s the gunpowder that starts to play the leading part, together with more toffee and chocolate. Actually, the whole tends become more and more chocolaty (milk chocolate). With water: as usual, the gunpowder becomes louder with water. Leather, hay and less chocolate. Mouth (neat): rich yet nervous, with some gunpowder again that mingles well with the bitter oranges and all the chocolate that’s still there. Stewed fruits, pears poached in wine, then more spices (cloves) as well as a rising citrusness. With water: and once again, more gunpowder, leather and grass. Tar. Finish: quite long, with good balance between this bitterish gunpowder and the bitter oranges. Aftertaste: a little ashy/tea-ish. Van Houten’s cocoa powder. Comments: you have to like gunpowder – although it’s not excessive here – but then it’s a very fine middle-aged Caperdonich in my opinion. SGP:462 - 84 points.

Caperdonich 17 yo 1995/2012 (57.8%, Abbey Whisky, The Rare Casks, 96 bottles)

Caperdonich 17 yo 1995/2012 (57.8%, Abbey Whisky, The Rare Casks, 96 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: once again, starts with touches of sour wood, which goes well with the maltiness, and becomes smokier after a few seconds. There are also notes of ripe plums, quinces, touches of dried beef, Seville oranges and then more flowery tones, between peonies and ‘nectar’ flowers such as dandelions. Also tinned peaches coming to the front. Quite a lot happening, this is nice. With water: it’s the sweet malted barley that comes out. Very nice indeed. Mouth (neat): firm and nervous, starting on crystallised oranges and marmalade, with a good spiciness and something slightly fizzy/zesty (lemonade). Its powerful but this zesty side makes it easily quaffable, even at almost 85% vol. With water: tinned fruits and spices, always with this citrusy fizziness in the background (vitamin C tablets). Finish: long, fresh and clean. Ginger and tangerines, more nutmeg in the aftertaste. Comments: I really enjoy this kind of jumpiness, it’s a very lively Caperdonich that, at times, hints at Rosebank in a way. SGP:652 - 87 points.

Caperdonich 20 yo 1992/2012 (54.6%, Duncan Taylor, Octave, cask #413904)

Caperdonich 20 yo 1992/2012 (54.6%, Duncan Taylor, Octave, cask #413904) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: another smoky one! It’s not as massively peaty as the 1998, for example, and actually rather between both worlds, that is to say between an ashy dry smoke and some stewed garden fruits (apples and peaches first). Also quite some vanilla that makes it rather rounder. Nice start! With water: no more smoke, almost, and more ‘simple’ garden fruits. Apples and plums plus a little honey and mint. Mouth (neat): creamy, fruity and peppery attack, on some kind of extra-strong apple pie. Big sweetness, maybe from very active oak. Marshmallows and such… And lemon drops. With water: apples, peaches, gooseberries and plums, all very ripe. Barley sugar. Finish: medium long, always with this very ‘natural fruity Speyside’ side. Comments: it’s great that the little octave did not impart too much oakiness. A very fine one, that was quite smoky at first nosing but that smokiness almost disappeared over time. SGP:542 - 85 points.

Caperdonich 23 yo 1980/2004 (58%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 252 bottles)

Caperdonich 23 yo 1980/2004 (58%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 252 bottles) Five stars Colour: full gold. Nose: oh, and now a very grassy and leafy one! It’s not a very common style but when it’s as nice as here, well, it can be brilliant. So grass and leaves but also moss, fern, bags of fresh almonds, vegetal oils (sunflower, grape pips), rhubarb, sorrel… I like this a lot. Very curious about what will happen with water… With water: wonderful! More oils of all kinds, olive, hazelnut, sunflower… Also fresh croissant and other pastries, warm butter, marzipan… Truly wonderful. Mouth (neat): how punchy! Vibrant lemony and herbal notes, ultra-strong herbal liqueur, lemon juice, green cardamom… And just the right amount of icing sugar to make all that sweeter, but not exactly rounder. Top notch profile. With water: smashing herbal/lemony profile. Chiselled and zesty. Finish: long, with tinier herbal tones coming through, angelica, lemon grass, coriander… Comments: how could I have missed this little beauty when she, I mean, it came out? SGP:662 - 92 points.

Caperdonich 18 yo 1977/1996 (57.7%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, Sherrywood)

Caperdonich 18 yo 1977/1996 (57.7%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, Sherrywood) Five stars Colour: dark amber. Nose: power chocolate and coffee! Extremely oloros-ish, which is fantastic. Add to that a little smoke and tar and you get a rather simple but almost perfect sherried profile. With water: fab again! Gets wider, sweeter, fruitier, with many prunes, dates, raisins, figs, liquorice and then obvious notes of fresh blackcurrants. Impressive. Mouth (neat): oh sweet Vishnu, this is spectacular! We’re much more on PX now, it’s even some kind of ultra-fortified PX from an excellent maker’s. So very raisiny, obviously, with strong liquorice in the background. All that is truly fabulous, in fact. With water: the most perfect honey. Supremely PX-y, maybe not unlike some current middle-aged Glendronachs (more, much more about those later). Finish: more of all that for a very long time. Maybe it becomes a notch too grapey in the aftertaste but I’m probably splitting hairs. Comments: Ca-den-head!!! SGP:751 - 91 points.

Great, with one dud and two stunners, Cadenhead stole the show today but that may be enough for now. To tell you everything I’ll have a long Alsatian Pinot Noir tasting in a few hours so I’d better save my nose and palate for them. We’ll go further ‘down’ in the coming days – yes you may expect quite a few 1972s…

(Mercis to my friends Carsten, Ho-cheng and Konstantin)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Caperdonich I've tasted so far

 

 

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Montlouis 2008 Les Choisilles by François Chidaine

Wine (for Whisky Lovers)
Long time no post about wine on WF. Today I’d like to recommend this great white Montlouis 2008 Les Choisilles by François Chidaine, with a perfect balance between roundness/richness and the chenin’s wonderful acidity. As the Wine Doctor would say, it's 'tear-jerkingly captivating'. A great little-known Loire that would appeal to many malt lovers, heartily recommended.
If it was a whisky: Littlemill 1988-1991 bourbon

 

January 20, 2013


Whiskyfun

The Mini-Verticales, today Glenglassaugh

We’ve had some great Glenglassaugh lately, time to try a few others, starting with a very young one, which is always a little scary.

Glenglassaugh 'Revival' (46%, OB, 2012)

Glenglassaugh 'Revival' (46%, OB, 2012) Two stars So a very young one from last year. I think there's another very young one just out but I haven't got it. Colour: gold. Nose: starts on smoky porridge and a little ginger, with some mashed potatoes and quite some grass. Then hints of green plums, baker's yeast, quite some soot and a layer of gingery oak as well as a little kumquat. So very young spirit with good personality, coated with quite some oak. After a few minutes, more and more orange blossom, which is nice and goes well with the gingery side. After even more minutes, becomes massively vanilla-ed and slightly varnishy but it's still no true wood-bomb. Yeasty. Mouth: very grassy, spicy and gingery at very first sips, then much fruitier (greengages, gooseberries). There's also quite some oak in there in my opinion, which makes it a little bitter. Not the easiest one but I think that’s good news... Finish: quite long, a little bitter, peppery. Cider apples and touches of bubblegum. Comments: shows promises, as they say. In a way, the fact that it isn’t easy and still quite rough (and, above all, not too sweet/sugary/fruity) at such young age should mean that this spirit will age very well. Remember what the old Scots used to say, ‘if the new make’s too good, the whisky will be crap’. I like this baby’s character, the future should be bright. SGP:452 - 75 points.

Glenglassaugh 1986/2010 'The Manager's Legacy' (45.3%, OB, Dod Cameron, refill sherry butt, 500 bottles)

Glenglassaugh 1986/2010 'The Manager's Legacy' (45.3%, OB, Dod Cameron, refill sherry butt, 500 bottles) Three stars and a half There were several truly great ones in this series. Colour: deep amber. Nose: a maelstrom of old polished wood and bags of cigars plus a very fino-ish side, with walnuts all over the place as well as some humus and mushrooms. Barbour grease. Or when 'old wood' is a asset. A lot of butter toffee after a few minutes, mocha, milk chocolate... Werther's Originals! Mouth: a much spicier arrival, a little bitter again but that's much less a problem in this context. Bags of figs and cinnamon, thyme, cloves, toasted bread, then a slight geraniumy side. Peppered cranberry juice? Finish: long and peppery again. Bitter oranges and touches of kirsch plus always these geraniumy notes. Comments: loved the nose, the palate was a little more so and so. Very good nonetheless. SGP:371 - 84 points.

Glenglassaugh 33 yo 1978/2012 (44.8%, OB, The Massandra Collection, Madeira Style Finish, 437 bottles)

Glenglassaugh 33 yo 1978/2012 (44.8%, OB, The Massandra Collection, Madeira Style Finish, 437 bottles) Four stars I don't know if I already told you that at the Massandra estates in Crimea they always used to produce different 'western' style wines so on old bottles you could read appelations such as Port, Tokay, Marsala or indeed, Madeira, even if the wines did come from Crimea. Colour: amber. Nose: we're not very far from the Manager's Legacy, except that this is milder and not any more vinous. Same touches of walnuts and cigars, maybe a little sweet mustard, then more raisins and figs, although it remains pretty dry. A little sawdust and coffee as well, then more and more high-end soy sauce. Mouth: and once again the peppery side strikes first, this time there's even more mustard and ginger, but some very nice fruity notes are soon to take over, around strawberry jam and marmalade. Also a little leather and bitter almonds. Maybe a little rum as well, cough syrup... Finish: and another one that's long and spicy. Green peppercorns. Slightly tannic aftertaste. Ginger, cinchona. Also some fruitier notes, rhubarb, plums… Comments: same vein. SGP:471 - 85 points.

Glenglassaugh 17 yo 1967 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, old brown label)

Glenglassaugh 17 yo 1967 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, old brown label) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: an antique style, fresh and aromatic, very different from the officials. Much more oranges (and blossom), touches of Grand-Marnier, a little grape juice (it's quite muscaty, in a way) and honey and then more flowers, between lilies and dandelions. Honeysuckle. Quite lovely, this nose, let's check if the palate won't be weakish as can happen with this old series. After a few minutes: became a little custardy. Mouth: there is a dryness yet again but there are also more fresh fruits such as peaches and apricots. Williams pears, hints of ale, barley water. Finish: of medium length, with funny notes of gewurztraminer. Litchis? Comments: it'll be interesting to compare this fresh oldie with another, much older 1967... SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glenglassaugh 45 yo 1967/2012 (50.2%,  OB, The Massandra Collection, Red Port Style Finish, 372 bottles)

Glenglassaugh 45 yo 1967/2012 (50.2%,  OB, The Massandra Collection, Red Port Style Finish, 372 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold/apricoty. Nose: once again, it's quite aromatic but probably less so than all the other old ones. I don't get much red Port (neither do I get any white Port ;-)), rather whiffs of old wood, old wine cellar, Spanish ham (bellota - indeed) and then a little game. Touches of date spirit, tobacco, brand new leather pouch, a little mud, very old pinot noir (gamy indeed)... Again a nice nose but... Mouth: but nothing, it's all fine this time and even if it's the oldest of them all, it's not the woodiest. It seems that the Port is more talkative now, with nice touches of raspberry jam, a little grenadine, maybe greengages... Having said that, there are quite some spices in the background again, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, cardamom (lots)... Before it gets sweeter again with, maybe, some blackcurrant jelly. Finish: medium long, with a pleasant balance between the green spices and the fruits. Comments: granted, when a skilled distiller 'patches' some very old whisky using wine casks it's never a very good sign but in this case - and as the price remains relatively moderate I think (doesn’t it?) it was most probably worth the hassle. SGP:461 - 86 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glenglassaugh I've tasted so far

 

 

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January 18, 2013


Whiskyfun

The Mini-Verticales, today Lagavulin

Lagavulin 16 is one of the whiskies I’m following year after year but I’ve already tried the ‘2012’ last year, so let’s pass, as we’re a little too early in 2013 to find some, well, 2013 anyway. But there’s 2012’s 12 that I have yet to try…

Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2012' (56.1%, OB)

Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2012' (56.1%, OB) Five stars 2011's version was excellent. I especially like the fact that the bottlers don't toy with newish oak too much. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s one of the drams that really brings you to Islay. It’s big, it’s very coastal and it always reminds me of these oysters that you can wolf down at the distillery during Feis Ile. Having said that, of the three Kildalton malts, it’s probably both the fruitiest and the closest to coal/ashes/farmyard (vs. tar and medicinal notes elsewhere). Older Lagavulins had much more tar in my experience. A lot of earth and seawater as well, the straight peatiness being relatively moderate so far. Latex, gherkin brine. With water: it’s the briny side that got enhanced. Well the whole became very briny. Or say a plateful of oysters with some lemon. Mouth (neat): it’s the sweet/smoky combo that’s so peculiar in naked Lagavulins. There’s some lime and salt with a good dose of cane syrup (add only a little mint and you’d get the best mojito ever) and then more and more straight, tarry smoke as well as a feeling of toffee. Big mouth feel, implacable whisky. After a few minutes: became wonderfully limey, it’s a great Pouilly-Fumé. With water: no, the greatest Pouilly-Fumé. Finish: long, sharp, zesty. Even more Pouilly-Fumé-ish (deep apologies). Comments: the perfect crony of Laphroaig 10 CS. Btw, why don’t Ardbeg issue a serious ‘commercial’ wide-release un-branded 10 or 12 yo cask strength? I like the Lagavulin 12 more and more. Will I live, doc? SGP:447 - 91 points.

Lagavulin 1993/2011 'Jazz Festival' (55.4%, OB, sherry cask, cask #355)

Lagavulin 1993/2011 'Jazz Festival' (55.4%, OB, sherry cask, cask #355) Five stars Loved 2012's version (WF 91) - yes we're not always doing things in the right order. Colour: dark gold. Nose: it’s a style that’s to be found in most ‘distillery only’ bottlings (festival, jazz, others…), in a way they’re all more or less 16s at cask strength, which cannot be bad news. It’s actually a fairly subtle Lagavulin, pleasantly fino-ish, with walnuts, old books, pink grapefruits, some gamy notes (between cured ham and hare belly ;-)) and then more and more notes of unlit Havana cigars. Old style leather polish (for the distillery’s famous armchairs, maybe…) After a few minutes: some parsley and beef stock. With water: lovely development on smoked ham, and yet it remains very clean and fresh. Mouth (neat): invading, that’s the word, invading. It’s even a little dangerous because it’s all sweetness and light for a fraction of a second, before it just starts to grow and grow, and that just wouldn’t stop, which can be scary. While we’re talking jazz, this would be The Duke’s big band playing ‘Big thunder’! Waves and waves of peat and fructosy sweetness all in sync. Smoked limejuice. The sherry’s relatively discreet. With water: invades you more. Sweet and salty mustard. Finish: very long, in the same tone. Comments: I think these Lagavulins can be a little too straightforward if you don’t give them enough time, but if you do, they’ll be extremely rewarding. That’s class (I’ve got an old friend who’d say it’s the same with girls but you know, old friends...) SGP:457 - 91 points.

Lagavulin 20 yo 1990/2012 (48.1%, The Syndicate, cask #4395, 261 bottles)

Lagavulin 20 yo 1990/2012 (48.1%, The Syndicate, cask #4395, 261 bottles) Four stars and a half The Syndicate is a mysterious society on Islay that issued quite a few Lagavulins thanks to the help of Bruichladdich's Murray McDavid, all are now usually quite expensive. We have more of them yet to try, we'll do that next time. Colour: gold. Nose: this is very different, it’s lighter at first nosing and it’s got much more menthol and camphor at first sniffs. Having said that it becomes much grassier and even lighter at the same time, with whiffs of new leatherette and old papers. Also the very famous fisherman’s boat but that one is (nautical) miles away. A little sour white wine. In short, an unexpectedly light nose for a 20yo, but it’s very nice. Now, with these kinds of lightish noses, the palates can be another story… Mouth: no, it’s quite massive, extremely compact and much more powerful than feared. Having said that, this massiveness is also a problem because there aren’t any secondary – not to mention tertiary – notes emerging. For exemple, the 12 was more complex. Nutshell: smoked and salted kumquats. With water – to try to break it: hurray, we did it! A rather beautiful salty profile, with some tar, kippers, wax and lemons. And this inky side that’s to be found in several old peaters in my experience – although this baby’s not very old. Quite some tar in the aftertaste, natural tar liqueur… Finish: Comments: my good friend Angus hated this one, which did not prevent him from presenting me with this sample ;-). Well, I’m sorry but I did enjoy it quite a lot despite its weaker spots here and there. SGP:557 - 89 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Lagavulin I've tasted so far

 
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January 17, 2013


Whiskyfun

The Micro-Verticales, today Tobermory

Last time I tried Tobermory 10yo I thought it was showing good progress – while bottlings from around ten or fifteen years ago were just terrible, weren’t they! So I’ve decided to follow it every two or three years – and now’s the time again. We’ll find a little sparring partner of similar strength…

Tobermory 10 yo (46.3%, OB, +/- 2012)

Tobermory 10 yo (46.3%, OB, +/- 2012) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: it’s the smoke that strikes first, as if there was a little Ledaig in there. Then more clean porridge and yoghurt, muesli, a little graphite oil, chalk and clay, cider apples… What’s new is that, I think, it’s also quite fruitier than earlier versions, with touches of bananas and pineapples. It is a nice nose, close to the barley. Mouth: creamy attack, full, cleaner than earlier bottlings, with notes of green apple liqueur Spanish-style, honey, orange juice and touches of pineapples and coconut that suggest more active wood than before. More barley sugar after that, maybe a little hummus (mashed chickpeas), then more liquorice. I think they improved the recipe again. Finish: quite long, much maltier. A lot of barley sugar. Comments: it’s more modern and, frankly, it’s better - not just more to my liking. SGP:452 – 81 points.

Tobermory 15 yo 1995/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #1646, 480 bottles)

Tobermory 15 yo 1995/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #1646, 480 bottles) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: this one hasn’t got all the porridgy, almost yeasty notes and is rather more on soot, shoe polish and coal at first nosing, before developing more on apple peelings and fresh nuts. After a few minutes, some unexpected notes of agaves and straight mescal, which is very funny – and very nice. Mouth: very sweet and very easy, with good balance between some light citrusy tones (kumquats, orange zest) and plain barley sugar and muesli bars. A light spiciness as well but the whisky’s quite creamy and mouthfilling. Finish: medium long, sweet, on more barley sugar and a little maple syrup. An oiliness, maybe from the bourbon wood. Comments: similar very good quality, one more point for the great notes of mescal in the nose ;-). SGP:542 - 82 points.

Look, while we’re at Tobermory, why not have some Ledaig as well? The often stunning 1972-1974 vintages seem to be extinct as far as new bottlings are concerned but some young ones can be quite spectacular – and sometimes a little repulsive as well in my experience. Let’s see what we can find…

Ledaig 7 yo 2005/2012 (52.1%, The Whisky Agency and The Nectar, bourbon hogshead, 289 bottles)

Ledaig 7 yo 2005/2012 (52.1%, The Whisky Agency and The Nectar, bourbon hogshead, 289 bottles) Three stars and a half The vulture on the label is scary, isn’t it. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: straight smoked porridge and sea air, we’re on Islay. In other words, the Islayest Ledaig I could nose. Ultra-clean, ultra-simple and certainly not un-nice. After a few minutes: some kind of smoky rhubarb? Kiwis? With water: very Kildaltonian, that’s all I can say - but that does not start with an L. Mouth (neat): ha-ha! This works. Once again, it’s simple whisky but there aren’t any porridgy/yeasty (not to mention any baby’s natural emanations) notes to make it shaky. Clean smoke on some mint and lemons. Once again, a feeling of smoky mojito… This is to keep for next summer! With water: more ashy/smoky lemons and maybe a little more porridge now. Finish: long, sooty, ashy, dry. Comments: a good alternative to smoking a cigar. I like this young one rather better than others, we’re bordering the ‘very fine unaged spirits’ category. SGP:337 - 83 points.

Ledaig 6 yo 2005/2012 (64%, Riverstown, sherry cask, cask #9011, 166 bottles)

Ledaig 6 yo 2005/2012 (64%, Riverstown, sherry cask, cask #9011, 166 bottles) Two stars and a halfColour: gold. Nose: big bold gunpowder, used matches and hard boiled eggs. So a lot of sulphur but I know guys who’ll love this, especially since it mingles all quite well with the spirit’s own smoke. A true monster. With water: very matchsticky and cabbagy. Exhaust pipes. Mouth (neat): power citrus and asparagus plus tons of soot and ashes. Quite an experience, lady. With water: oranges and liquid fumes/smoke. A tad cleaner. Also the kiwis that we had found in the nose of the other one. Finish: long, very ashy. Sticks to your tongue and palate. Comments: not suure this shouldn’t be made illeggal ;-). Seriouslly, it’s quaite an exxperrieence, verry spectaakular wheesky that anyhone coould uuse to showe to frriendds wherre tha whiskye worldd enndds – I’mm note sayying thbis is lethal wheiuky, beut allmosta… (spullterring)… Hard to score. SGP:358 - 77 poointts.

I’ve got some even newer ultra-young Ledaigs to taste but I’m afraid I’m not feeling too well ;-). Next time…

More tasting notes Check the index of all Tobermory or Ledaig I've tasted so far

 

 

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January 16, 2013


Whiskyfun

The Mini-Verticales, today Lochnagar

I’m not too familiar with Lochnagar’s whisky, although I’ve visited the distillery twice if I remember well. It’s a great place with very friendly and knowledgeable people, as well as some kind of Queen in the neighbourhood… Yes, it’s near Balmoral.

Royal Lochnagar 10 yo 2002/2012 (46%, Milroy's, bourbon hogshead, cask #640, 387 bottles)

Royal Lochnagar 10 yo 2002/2012 (46%, Milroy's, bourbon hogshead, cask #640, 387 bottles) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s one of these very naked and pretty immature young ‘Speysiders’ (we’re frankly south of Speyside here, that is to say not in Speyside anymore) with bags of fresh garden fruits but there’s a little extra-oils and waxes. Touches of mint and dill while the barley starts to shine through after a few minutes. Sweet porridge, sweet potatoes (mashed), touches of scented soap. Mouth: simple and sweet, very barleyish, it’s all like crunching some sweet malted barley. Extremely natural, but there isn’t loads happening. Finish: medium, sweet and always very barleyish. Comments: HM Elizabeth should like this label bearing the Union Jack, but not too sure all the Scots will agree. The whisky’s simple and nice, I liked the nose better than the palate. SGP:431 - 81 points.

Lochnagar 14 yo 1997/2011 (46%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon hogshead)

Lochnagar 14 yo 1997/2011 (46%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon hogshead) Three stars Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: very interesting spirit. Much less fruits and much more waxes and oils, ink, soot, coal smoke, graphite, pencil lead… You get the drift. Fully distillate-driven so far. After a few minutes, many more fresh almonds and walnuts plus the faintest notes of marshmallows. Mouth: it’s the 2002 with more wideness and complexity, even if the whole remains simple. Barley sugar, apple pie and touches and vanilla and cinnamon. Less wax than in the nose, then a little orange liqueur and plum eau-de-vie. Finish: medium, clean, fruity, always a little eau-de-vie-ish. Comments: again, good natural fruity spirit with some backbone. SGP:431 - 82 points.

Lochnagar 29 yo 1973/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 276 bottles)

Lochnagar 29 yo 1973/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 276 bottles) Four stars There was a sister cask bottled by DL in the Platinum series in 2003 and that one was great (WF 90). Colour: straw. Nose: the oak’s louder, obviously, and mingles very well with the sooty distillate. The whole gives a feeling of sour apples, in a great way. High-end artisan cider, humus and moss, earth, camphor, cough syrup… It’s got something of some manzanilla I must say, there’s even a little sea air (yes Lochnagar is far from the sea). Also something almondy. Mouth: pretty excellent, with a perfect oak working as the ideal seasoning. So a complex spice mix involving cinnamon, white pepper, nutmeg (all classics) and a little liquorice and star anise over a sweet and rather rounded and vanilla-ed fruity spirit. Quality apples and gooseberries plus touches of smoke and ashes again. Finish: quite long, spicier, with notes of strong tea and quite some pepper. A little more drying. Comments: another pretty excellent bottling from that well-known series. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Lochnagar 37 yo 1972/2009 (50.7%, The Whisky Fair/Three Rivers, 126 bottles)

Lochnagar 37 yo 1972/2009 (50.7%, The Whisky Fair/Three Rivers, 126 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: wonderful nose, mentholated and herbal. Thuja wood, lime juice, honeysuckle, camphor, eucalyptus, pine resin… The most wonderful crème de menthe, that’s it. Behind all that, some passion fruits and grapefruits for good balance. Lovely lovely lovely. Mouth: terrific although the oak’s a notch too loud and drying now. Strong mint-flavoured tea (in Marrakech, yeah yeah), liquorice wood, a little limoncello, more liquorice… And a perfect body, full yet not too strong, I don’t even feel like I should add drops of water, so let’s not do it for once. Finish: quite long and, luckily, not any more drying than before, although there’s more and more cinnamon in the aftertaste. Always quite some menthol. Comments: I had it at 90 when I first tried this baby in 2009 or 2010 (but didn’t take proper notes). Why would I change that high score? SGP:571 - 90 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Lochnagar I've tasted so far

 

 

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Block Today: JAZZ FUNK. Performer: Tony Joe White. Track: not sure this is not the best rendition of Rainy night in Georgia ever. Please visit Tony Joe White's website and buy all the music...
 
 

January 15, 2013


Whiskyfun

Tasting two singletons

Whenever a new bottling finds its way to WF Towers, the first thing I do when I organise my little tastings is to browse my whisky library to find some worthy sparring partners from the same distillery. All quick and easy when we’re talking Springbank, Bowmore or Highland Park to name but a few, but in the case of Glen Esk/Glenesk, well, I just drew a blank so to speak! No Glen Esk and no Hillside either, so I decided to choose another singleton, that is to say another solitary whisky, namely an old Glencraig this time. That’s probably quite stupid because I might need the Glencraig for the next Mosstowie (as they were both from Lomond stills) but well, we fear nothing. And no need to say that the light Glencraig has nothing to do with Glen Esk, the only similarity being that they were both ‘singletons’ on my shelves. Oh, you’re right, both have also been silent since the nasty 1980s…

Glencraig 1975/2000 (40%, Spirit of Scotland)

Glencraig 1975/2000 (40%, Spirit of Scotland) Two stars and a half As you should know by now, Glencraig was made at Glenburgie until 1981 and Spirit of Scotland is one of Speymalt aka G&M’s sub-brands. Which, of course, does not mean the whiskies are inferior. Colour: gold. Nose: it sure is no big whisky, it’s even got something from entry-level Jameson in a way. There’s some apple juice, a little vanilla and sawdust from the wood (yeah, obviously) and then nicer touches of chamomile and hay. It’s all light but not quite weak. Cereals and then more and more marzipan… No bubblegum. Mouth: easy, light and malty, actually bigger than Jameson NAS this time. There’s more bubblegum as well, fruit juices, a little caramel, earl grey tea, vanillin and barley sugar. Nice, easily quaffable malt whisky. Finish: not very long but maltier. Oranges, apples and Ovaltine, some cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: pleasant enough, without flaws. The lighter – but not lightish – side of malt whisky. SGP:331 - 78 points.

Glen Esk 28 yo 1983/2012 (54.6%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, refill sherry butt, cask #4929, 248 bottles)

Glen Esk 28 yo 1983/2012 (54.6%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, refill sherry butt, cask #4929, 248 bottles) Four stars Kudos to Blackadder for having unearthed a Glen Esk!!! The distillery was mothballed in 1985 and I believe the last vintage was 1984 (I had one by G&M). Colour: amber. Nose: fun, unusual stuff! Starts all on shoe polish and burnt wood, charcoal, cocoa powder and other very mat and dry things, before some ale comes out, together with some iron and various aromatic herbs such as thyme and rosemary. In other words, a barbecue in Provence ;-). With water: the fruits come out (cherries) together with more meatiness. Ham and chicken stock. Mouth (neat): yes it’s good, although I wouldn’t say it’s totally characterful malt whisky at first sip but it gains presence on the palate. Some orange juice and spices, sultanas, figs, marshmallows and quite some toasted brioche, praline, then more citrus fruits, always around oranges. Good body. With water: more unusual, quite meaty again, mentholated, with also more oranges. Finish: long and even better now. Spiced cranberry and orange juices. Comments: more than just a curiosity or a rarity, this is seriously good malt whisky. Again, kudos to Blackadder! SGP:461 - 85 points.

(with thanks to Tomislav!)

 

PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
PJ
PJ

 

 

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Block Today: AVANT-GARDE PROG JAZZ (or else, you've been warned...). Performer: France's band Art Zoyd. Track: Brigades Spéciales (from the 1976 album Symphonie pour le jour brûleront les cités). Zappa and Magma aren't far away. Please visit Art Zoyd's website and buy their music...
 

January 2013 - part 1 <--- January 2013 - part 2 ---> February 2013 - part 1


 

 

Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphabetical:

Bunnahabhain 38 yo 1973/2012 (41.2%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry butt, cask #1)

Caperdonich 18 yo 1977/1996 (57.7%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, Sherrywood)

Caperdonich 23 yo 1980/2004 (58%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 252 bottles)

Lagavulin 1993/2011 'Jazz Festival' (55.4%, OB, sherry cask, cask #355)

Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2012' (56.1%, OB)

Laphroaig 14 yo 1970/1984 (57.1%, Samaroli for Osteria Apostoli, cask #4367)

Laphroaig 30 yo (43%, OB, US bottling, 75cl, +/-2002)

Laphroaig 21 yo 1990/2011 (55,9%, The Whisky Agency & The Whisky Exchange ‘Private Stock’, bourbon hogshead, 264 bottles)

Lochnagar 37 yo 1972/2009 (50.7%, The Whisky Fair/Three Rivers, 126 bottles)