Whiskyfun
Home
(Current entries)

Facebook Twitter Logo


Whisky Tasting

 
 
 

 

 

 
Hi, you're in the Archives, July 2018 - Part 2

       

July 2018 - part 1 <--- July 2018 - part 2 ---> August 2018 - part 1

 

July 31, 2018


Whiskyfun
Whiskyfun fav of the month

July 2018

Favourite recent bottling:
Bowmore 21 yo 1997/2018 (56.2%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #12539, 317 bottles) - WF 90

Favourite older bottling:
Balmenach-Glenlivet 14 yo (57.5%, Sestante, +/-1985)  - WF 92

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Allt-A-Bhainne 7 yo 2008/2016 (46%, Hepburn’s Choice, 300 bottles) - WF 87

Favourite malternative:
Hampden 16 yo 2001/2018 (60.7%, Hunter Laing for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, 265 bottles) - WF 91

 

More very old blends

And so we’re back with a few more old blends. Let’s see what we have…

Black Bottle (no ABV stated, OB, blend, +/-1947)

Black Bottle (no ABV stated, OB, blend, +/-1930) Four stars
This was bottled at ‘pre-war strength’ as it says on an additional label, that’s why we think this was bottled after WWI. What's more it was one of the first ever bottlings to feature a ‘twist n seal’ screw cap, after white horse first used it in 1925 (many thanks for all the info Angus!) Never tried some extremely old Black Bottle, the oldest we had had been bottled circa 1970 (WF 82). Colour: gold. Nose: perhaps not as peaty as more recent offerings (not talking about the current simpler ones) but it does have these ‘oldish’ notes of leather, old cigars than went dry, dried mushrooms, old books, before it gets clearly peaty. Some chicken soup, as often, and something slightly metallic. Old tin boxes, chalk, old magazines, inks… All those sorts of things that one may find in very old high-malt blends. Mouth: it’s really powerful, and frankly wonderful, with some marmalade, pine liqueurs, camphory concoctions, pepper liqueurs, old herbal liqueurs (Dantziger and others), salt, smoke, coal, meat, miso… This could have been 100% malt, seriously. Finish: rather long, more honeyed and resinous, which isn’t uncommon in old whiskies. I’m finding something of Lagavulin (which gives me an idea…) A little green tar or something in the aftertaste. Comments: very high-class old blend with high malt content, and probably high peat content as well, even if a part of that may have disappeared throughout the seventy years in glass.
SGP:463 - 87 points.

So, speaking of Lagavulin and ideas…

White Horse (43%, OB, spring cap, blend, Soffiantino, Italy, +/-1960)

White Horse (43%, OB, spring cap, blend, Soffiantino, Italy, +/-1960) Five stars
These are perfect, first because the spring cap a.k.a. tin cap a.k.a. clip cap a.k.a. Kork-n-Seal a.k.a. nail breaker may have kept it fresh as new, and second because most were bottled at 40% vol./70°proof, while this is 43%. In retrospect, thank you, Italy! Colour: gold. Nose: pure peated malt, really, with just touches of roasted pine nuts and dark tobacco. Dried kelp, tar, peat smoke, leather, bandages, creosote, hessian, tarry ropes, seawater, whelks (we’re sorry, whelks), metal polish (but that could be the tin cap, which was perfect by the way, no corrosion to be spotted)…

Mouth: you could have told me this was old Lagavulin and I wouldn’t have cried foul. Perfect tarry peat, some kind of old toothpaste, tar liqueur, drops of triple-sec and other orange-y liqueurs, liquorice, salt, salted liquorice (obviously), kippers, rollmops, pine tar… The body’s quite impressive, really, these old 43s taste like 46, easily. Finish: long, really tarry and resiny. Notes of salty/smoky mezcal in the aftertaste, always a good sign in my book. Comments: really impressive, these old White Horses. What’s more, it’s not totally impossible that there was some Malt Mill inside as well…
SGP:364 - 91 points.

WH

 

Prewar ad for White Horse. >

So, spring caps…

Buchanan’s ‘De Luxe’ (70°proof, OB, spring cap, blend, +/-1955)

Buchanan’s ‘De Luxe’ (70°proof, OB, spring cap, blend, +/-1955)
I haven’t formally tried many Buchanan’s, but always enjoyed the old ones when having then ‘casually’. These aren’t too expensive at auctions because they should come with red wax seals on their sides, which are often missing or broken, which makes them rather uncollectable, which is good for drinking buyers! Colour: gold. Nose: not as smoky as the White Horse, obviously, but on the other hand it’s got some lovely honeyed and cake-y notes, as well as a large bouquet of flowers. Pollen, nectar, iris, orange blossom, old Sauternes, honeysuckle, pineapple jam, a box of assorted Turkish delights… Really, a lovely nose that reminds me of one of Diageo’s current top-shelf blends, Royal Household. But that’s one by Buchanan’s indeed… Mouth: sadly, it went a tad dry and too leathery, but provided you manage to filter-out those OBE notes, which anyone could do once you recognise them, you get this rather perfect honeyed profile, as well as the dried figs and dates. But yeah, bottle aging ran it off the road, which you couldn’t notice on the nose. Finish: short, soapy and too dry. Comments: look, I’m sure I would have gone for 88-90, had time in glass not taken its toll. Indeed, buying old bottles can be like playing Russian roulette. Beware!
SGP:351 - (no score) points.

The Antiquary ‘Old Scotch Whisky’ (No ABV, OB, J&W Hardie, blend, driven cork, +/-1930s)

The Antiquary ‘Old Scotch Whisky’ (No ABV, OB, J&W Hardie, blend, driven cork, +/-1920s) Five stars
Driven corks were usually pre-1930s (thanks again, Angus!) Recent (I mean, from within the last 30 years) young Antiquaries have been a little ‘low’ but I remember a very recent 35 yo that was superb (WF 90). Colour: gold. Nose: and this is superb indeed, wonderfully honeyed and mentholy. Chestnut honey, some toasted brioche, a whiff of fir smoke, pumpkin cake, a large bag of sultanas, a wee glass of proper old PX, a touch of absinth… and all that sings in sync, mind you!

Mouth: incredible arrival, still very punchy and vibrant, smoky (imagine!), with perfect resinous notes, many honeys, some tobacco, then an avalanche of dried fruits (figs as always, bananas, currants) and a discreet minerality that’s just underlining the whole package. Perfect old whisky, really perfect. Finish: long, mainly honeyed, with notes of fresh mint leaves and pine needles. The aftertaste is a tad bitter (leafy) but that’s an asset in this context. Comments: very much impressed. This driven-cork version just rocked, watch it at auctions, I think they don’t go for a lot of monies.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

Antiquary Ungerer

^Ad for The Antiquary by Alsatian Tomi Ungerer, USA 1961

(Thank you Angus, Nicolas, and Ron)

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

 

July 30, 2018


Whiskyfun

Blends until we succumb

Not quite, do not worry, just a figure of speech, and one that failed, besides. Again!

Peatside 2011/2017 (45%, Golden Barley, blended malt, cask #5557, 2018)

Peatside 2011/2017 (45%, Golden Barley, blended malt, cask #5557, 2018) Three stars
Some blended malt from a single cask, that’s always pretty intriguing. A teaspooned single, I’d wager… Colour: apricot gold, some wine involved, it appears… Nose: funny, really funny. Rubbed orange skin, soot and ashes, incense, red apples and peaches, young pinot noir, sweet mustard, then rather some kind of cleaner manure, cow stable… Intriguing indeed. Mouth: a funny dram indeed, and while this style should be rather dissonant, it is not. A feeling of smoked oranges, cooked jam, amontillado, sour cream, grenadine. Unlikely, perhaps, but indeed it is funny. And this is whiskyfundotcom, you understand. Finish: medium, a tad cleaner, and smokier, and yet a tad sweetish. Banyuls wine? Comments: I don’t think you can drink a lot of this, but it’s got this funny side that works well in my book. Wine-boosted Ardmore or something?
SGP:643 - 81 points.

Seriously that one was very good, but since we’re in the midst of summer, when everything’s possible, why not rather have a few old blends?

Oxford ‘Rare Deluxe’ (43%, OB, blend, 1960s)

Oxford ‘Rare Deluxe’ (43%, OB, blend, 1960s)
A blend by Jamie Rogers & Co., but we’re seen more recent bottles by Strathdearn Distillers. Of course, ‘Rare Deluxe’ means that it’s neither rare nor deluxe – actually, most ‘square’ bottles were rather bad (except Johnnie Walker, White Hearther and a bunch of others). Colour: white wine. Nose: well, crushed chalk, vanilla, pear spirit, porridge, stale spice mix… The jury’s still out, as they say. Mouth: not too bad, thanks to, apparently, so rather solid Highland malt. Soot and gravel and things. Sadly there’s also a sweetish feeling, as if someone had added sugar cubes. Finish: surprisingly long, a tad rough, a little too spirity. Always this odd sugariness. Comments: there was some solid malt whisky inside, but the grain whiskies were really, oh well, bad.
SGP:641 - 60 points.

Big Ben (40%, Angus Dundee, blend, 50cl, +/-2015)

Big Ben (40%, Angus Dundee, blend, 50cl, +/-2015)
Exactly, this is not the first time we’re trying whisky for tourists. The bottle is shaped like… Big Ben, the good news is that there are no bells that I could see. Colour: gold. Nose: not much. Overripe apples, caramel, Golden Grahams, pancake syrup, bread, liquid soap… Mouth: kind of drinkable. Apples and cardboard… If Aldi had bottled this it would already come with many gold medals (and a best whisky in the world mention in the less-than-£10-funny-bottle category). Finish: short and sweetish. Not unpleasant. Comments: it’s rather okay -and again, it doesn’t strike. But Big Ben is not a Big Blend.
SGP:441 - 55 points.

The Lost Distilleries Blend (49.3%, The Blended Whisky Company, batch #6, 534 bottles, +/-2014)

The Lost Distilleries Blend (49.3%, The Blended Whisky Company, batch #6, 534 bottles, +/-2014) Two stars and a half
A crazy blend by the crazy people at Master of Malt, containing Mosstowie, Port Ellen, Glenisla, Imperial, Caperdonich, Glen Mhor, Brora, and Port Dundas. What, no Stromness?? Colour: straw. Nose: mainly chalk-dominated at first, then we have apple skins, grass, green tea, then rather green bananas and touches of carbon paper and new magazines. Did you say ‘sounds austere’? You’re right. With water: custard. Mouth (neat): very unusual. Some medicinal/asparagussy kind of smokiness, tequila, some green pepper, some raw alcohol, lime juice… It really is an unusual combination, as if there was some kind of randomness involved, if I humbly may… With water: more grass and cider apples. Finish: medium, raw, metallic, rather unpolished, quite bizarrely. Comments: not too sure. Batch #4, which I had tried three or four years ago, had been much, and I mean much more to my liking (WF 89!)
SGP:262 - 77 points.

Creations Blend 44 yo 1973/2018 (43.4%, Cadenhead, hogshead, 346 bottles)

Creations Blend 44 yo 1973/2018 (43.4%, Cadenhead, hogshead, 346 bottles) Four stars
Out in April, probably all downed already by the thirsty masses. Geriatric whisky? Not too sure… Colour: gold. Nose: ah! Teas and herbs plus fruit skins, that’s the name of the game here. Guavas, gooseberries, huckleberries, banana skin, honeysuckle, lime tree… This really works, but careful, when you get green bananas or banana skin on the nose, the palates may have gotten too drying and ‘green’, let’s see… Mouth: not quite, this is rather green liquorice, even liquorice allsorts, orange blossom water, oriental pastries, a feeling of incense and balsa wood, then rather fresher fruits, around blueberries again, morellos... It did not get too drying, and any excessive graininess has been kept at bay (excessive coconut, pwah!) Finish: medium, fresh, rather on mint and other herbs. Some nutty sherry in the aftertaste, as well as, indeed, a little oak, that was to be expected. Comments: a very fine old blend that managed to avoid the nursing home.
SGP:661 - 85 points.

W. Palmer Finest Scotch Whisky 14 yo (no ABV, W. Palmer & Co., Hull, 1920s?)

W. Palmer Finest Scotch Whisky 14 yo (no ABV, W. Palmer & Co., Hull, 1920s?)
A very old bottle for some long-gone wine merchants in Yorkshire. Don’t quite know what to expect, but once again, we’re noticing that age statements are not quite ‘a new thing’. Whisky revisionism, no pasaràn! Colour: light gold. Nose: but this is as fresh as if it was distilled right yesterday! Pears, apples, pineapples, fresh croissants, oatcakes, butterscotch and what’s typical in these very old Scotches with high malt content, soot, gravel, coal smoke and old copper coins. Mouth: no, it didn’t stand the distance. Soap and plastic, de profundis… Finish: same. Comments: a crying shame, the nose was really nice and even some parts of the palate were firmly ‘Highlander.’ But the cap, I suppose, got the better of this venerable old whisky.
SGP:272 – (no score) points.

V.S.O. 10 yo (90 proof, Charles Mackinlay & Co., bottled 1917)

V.S.O. 10 yo (90 proof, Charles Mackinlay & Co., bottled 1917) Four stars and a half
This ultra-rare Mackinlay was shipped from Leith to John Wagner & Sons, Philadelphia, per the S/S Tamaqua, in 1916, and then bottled in 1917. So, it was bottled more than one century ago! In theory, this should be full of Glen Mhor… Please note that this bottling did no good to the merchants, as they went bust the next year, in 1918. And did you notice the age statement? Colour: gold. Nose: once again, noses are never the problems, should there be any problems. In this case, we’re finding some lovely notes of fresh pastries (baked pineapples), apricots, then old absinth, verbena, angelica, menthol cigarettes, and should I add ‘of course’, camphor. Camphor too is often to be found in these very old whiskies. Mouth: no extreme Old Bottle Effect here, this is perfectly fresh albeit very herbal, and I just love these notes of sultanas, goji berries, dried apples, old fudge and lighter pipe tobacco. Nutshell, raisins that got a little mentholy. Finish: medium and immune to any excessive cardboard, apparently. Bravo! I even think I recognise Glen Mhor, and even the original Shackleton ‘from the hut’, which I could try at W&M’s headquarters with The Man himself (Richard, not Shackleton), a few years ago. Comments: pretty exceptional, this may/should have gone astray after so many years.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Chivas Regal 12 yo (86° US proof, OB, USA, blend, +/-1953)

Chivas Regal 12 yo (86° US proof, OB, USA, blend, +/-1953) Five stars
Let’s be honest, it is just like with Johnnie Walker, or Cutty Sark, or Black & White, or Ballantine’s, or White Horse, old Chivasses used to be much better (indeed, better) than their contemporary counterparts, for reasons too long to discuss here and now. Colour: gold. Nose: these old Chivas Regals were always quite bouillony, meaty, or meady, and this is no exception. I’m even finding ‘ideas’ of Buckfast, and certainly quite some mead. Lovely touches of old basement, soot, old wine cellar…

Mouth: one of the best I could taste. Huge meaty honey, old Tokaji, glazed chestnuts, panettone, Stolle, fruitcake, dried apricots, a wee bit of halva or turron… This is absolutely fantastic! Finish: long, a tad salty, which is marvellous. Marrow quenelles stewed in honey and wine sauce. Killer. Comments: utterly brilliant old Chivas, these old bottles are the luck of the draw, but when you find a good one, you’re in for a total treat.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

Chivas

^This ad ran right in 1953

Perhaps a last old blend, we’ll have others very soon anyway…

Haig & Haig (OB, blend, USA, late 19th century)

Haig & Haig (OB, blend, USA, late 19th century) Five stars
A fantastic old bottle, thank you Joe. Love this on the label, ‘blend of guaranteed pure barley malt’. Grain whiskies hadn’t wrecked it all yet when this was bottled (oh no, S., not again!) Also to be noticed, the Haigs were meant to have been distillers since 1679, but I think we’ve seen other dates since back then, haven’t we? What would D. Beckham say? Does that even matter? Colour: light gold. Nose: get out of here, this is as fresh as a baby’s mouth. Amazing smoke, peat, embers, sea breeze, tar, gravel, oysters, camphor, embrocations, bandages (are we safe yet?) What I cannot find is the slightest idea of some kind of fruitiness, but we just won’t care, this is fantastic. This is how they used to build brands, by making the best possible products (well, not just that, but you get the idea). Mouth: a wee taste of glass or sunlight, perhaps, but other than that, this just works. Soups, meads, wines, smoke, grapefruits (grapefruits in a 19th century whisky!), even olive oil, a touch of Worcester sauce, then probably a little too much cardboard from all those long years…  But the power and the mouth feel are totally impressive. Finish: incredibly long and spicy. Crystallised ginger, cinnamon mints, salted liquorice… Comments: big malts in there, many long-gone, I imagine. It would be great to have the old blender’s books… Would love to let the good folks who invented Haig Club taste this…
SGP:463 - 90 points (92 without the very discreet taste of light).

We’ll have more old blends later.

(Thank you Angus, Hans, Joe, Max)

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

 

July 29, 2018


Whiskyfun

Yet another little bag of rum

New stuff, or stuff that we’ve got a few months ago, let’s see what we have…

C.A.D.C. 12 yo 2006/2018 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, Venezuela, cask #VCA1, 384 bottles)

C.A.D.C. 12 yo 2006/2018 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, Venezuela, cask #VCA1, 384 bottles) Three stars
C.A.D.C. stands for Corporacion Alcoholes Del Caribe, a distillery’s that’s making Ron Cañaveral, which I’ve just never heard of (but then again, I’m strictly no rum expert). Colour: gold. Nose: a rather easy and rounded style of rum, very soft, with a little vanilla, some corn and maple syrups, cappuccino, café latte, and then a little earth that’s quite pleasant. No big rum but at least it doesn’t reek of ‘assorted flavourings’. Mouth: good! Again, it’s easy, but it’s got an orange-y freshness that works pretty well. More café latte, roasted nuts, Jaffa cakes… And no extra-sugar! (let’s not use that BS word, ‘dosage’, that some makers are trying to push these days as if their rums were champagne.) Finish: medium, clean, rather on oranges and milk chocolate. A touch of demerara sugar in the aftertaste. Comments: a clean, easy, well-balanced South-American. Good!
SGP:540 - 80 points.

Westerhall Estate ‘No. 10’ (40%, OB, Grenada, +/-2017)

Westerhall Estate ‘No. 10’ (40%, OB, Grenada, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
I remember their ‘Plantation’ (not from the indie company) that was pretty okay (WF 75). Colour: amber. Nose: it’s rather fragrant, with rose petals and orange blossom at first, but it gets then more molasse-y, although there would also be a little aniseed and liquorice. Quite some coffee liqueur (Kahlua and Tia Maria and stuff) and charred/burnt oak. Mouth: I could quaff this! It’s rather rich, perhaps mildly sweetened, and certainly with even more coffee and liqueurs made thereof than on the nose. Burnt molasses, caramel, toffee..; What’s really good within this style is that you don’t feel that it’s been doctored/sugared. Finish: medium, perhaps a tad sweeter this time, but that’s okay. More Kahlua. Comments: I’m certainly not against this style. Very Latino, without the excessive sugar that often encountered when trying these.
SGP:550 - 78 points.

Sancti Spiritus 18 yo 1999/2018 (46%, Kill Devil, Cuba, 344 bottles)

Sancti Spiritus 18 yo 1999/2018 (46%, Kill Devil, Cuba, 344 bottles) Three stars and a half
Hunter Laing managed to find a nice niche within the rum world. Well done! Colour: gold. Nose: superb, one of the nicest – or at least the most characterful – Cubans I could try. Imagine a blend of plasticine with fresh mushrooms and almond oil. Funny and very nice – and pretty intriguing. Really curious about the palate, as other Sancti Spiritus I could try have been more, say ‘middle-of-the-road’ (yet good)… Mouth: it’s as if there was some pot-still rum inside. I think they have some, by the way. Liquorice, grapefruits, more plasticine, aniseed, caraway, a little tar, a drop of brine… Finish: medium, tarry, a tad metallic. Comments: it’s rather less fresh and easy than other Sanctis I could try. I like it quite a lot, we may even call it a little ‘aguardiente-y’. I know, I know…
SGP:452 - 84 points.

Foursquare 2005/2018 (59.8%, Liquid Treasures, joint bottling with The Rum Mercenary, Barbados, barrel, 312 bottles)

Foursquare 2005/2018 (59.8%, Liquid Treasures, joint bottling with The Rum Mercenary, Barbados, barrel, 312 bottles) Three stars
Let’s see if this one’s as potstilly as others. What, don’t you like that new barbarism? Colour: deep gold. Nose: no, no full pot-still character here, rather a rounded, gently charred/caramelly profile, with some toffee and roasted peanuts and pecans. With water: some earth coming through, as well as a little sawdust. Mouth (neat): tense, orange-y, cake-y, caramelly. Notes of burnt sugar. With water: the oranges win it. A little caramel, a little cane syrup. Finish: medium, toasted, gentle. Comments: very good but not quite my preferred style of Foursquare. That’s the thing with some rum distilleries, they produce various styles and the name alone doesn’t always mean much. In other words, they’re not Lagavulin.
SGP:541 - 81 points.

As we often do, let’s simply have a wee Jamaican for the road… (that expression will soon get streng verboten!)

Hampden 16 yo 2001/2018 (60.7%, Hunter Laing for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, 265 bottles)

Hampden 16 yo 2001/2018 (60.7%, Hunter Laing for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, 265 bottles) Five stars
It’s always reassuring when bottlers would admit that these kinds of bottlings are ‘cask strength’. Colour: light gold. Nose: may we see the marque? This is pure pressed cucumber with liquid smoke and olive oil, plus fermenting seaweed and Exxon’s best diesel oil. Wonderfully extreme. With water: amazing. Caper, samphire, new plywood, formica, bakelite, all that. Mouth (neat): extreme indeed. Black olives, smoked, plus anchovies, smoked. All that having being cooked in some insane kind of tar-and-liquorice sauce. With water: what, strawberries? Indeed, there’s that funny molecule in some heavy spirits, can’t quite remember the name just now. Rather strawberry yogurt. Finish: long, wonderfully salty, brine-y, tarry. Comments: this style would make Ardbeg taste like Glenkinchie in comparison. Now it’s the kind that we shouldn’t like too much, according to a new doxa that’s slowly making inroads into digital rumdom. Like, we shouldn’t like Sharknado or Dawn Of The Dead. Pfff…
SGP:363 - 91 points.

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

 

July 26, 2018


Whiskyfun

The wee duos, today The Macallan

What I’ve learnt throughout roughly twenty years of whisky blogging and webbing and stuff, is that the ‘The’ in front of some distillery names was a nightmare in spreadsheets. How many Macallans have I missed because they were classified under ‘T’ instead of ‘M’? Or Dalmores? What’s more many others seem to be joining those ranks these days, the funniest being The Glenallachie – excuse me, The GlenAllachie – or The Yamazaki, the Lexus of malt whisky. Come on, how do you say ‘The’ in Japanese? Now, imagine they’d all use the ‘The’, that would instantly solve our spreadsheet problems! And should we expect a The Jaegermeister anytime soon? The Marmite? The Irn Bru? But Enough of this pointless chitchat, let’s have some The Macallan on THE Whiskyfun... Or yeah, as we used to write, Macallan (The). Pfff…

Macallan 18 yo ‘Fine Oak’ (43%, OB, +/-2017)

Macallan 18 yo ‘Fine Oak’ (43%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars
I think, but I may be wrong, that this is discontinued. Given what we had written when that range came out in 2004 (WF 80 for this 18), I don’t think we’ll mourn this passing for too long. Now you can still find this bottle very easily from many shops. Colour: gold. Nose: this is why we weren’t liking it too much, it’s pretty un-Macallan despite these nice fudge-y/smoke-y touches. A lot of cakes for sure, Jaffas, burnt kougelhopf, caramel, black nougat… Gets then much more floral, which is rather Macallan indeed this time, with some jasmine and even violets, as well as some dried fruits, mainly figs. Improves with oxygen, I would say – less a shock than when it came out. In other words, we got used to these styles of Macallan since the early 2000s. Mouth: well, after an okay arrival it tends to get a little rough, without much of that trademark silkiness from times gone by, fewer dried fruits, and rather some gritty oakiness, pepper, cinnamon… A little burnt caramel and coffee, and lastly, touches of marmalade that really save it (and us). Good body at 43%, though. Finish: medium, grassy and peppery, rough. Comments: as if it was too young. Any old classic vintaged 18 over this anytime. In short - and by definition - I can’t remember a more forgettable Macallan 18.
SGP:461 - 81 points.

Macallan 15 yo (40%, Rest & Be Thankful, bourbon, 119 bottles, 2016)

Macallan 15 yo (40%, Rest & Be Thankful, bourbon, 119 bottles, 2016) Four stars and a half
Isn’t it a bit strange that an indie bottler would issue a Macallan at a measly 40% vol. and without any vintage statement? Colour: white wine. Nose: unusual and, I have to say, intriguing, with quite a lot of tobacco and ‘nicer’ notes of stewed cabbage, then some rather clear notes of dunder rum, unless I’m dreaming. As I wrote, this is intriguing, and certainly more interesting than the moderately emotional OB. Mouth: really very good, I’d have loved to find this at 46 or 50% (the whisky taster’s usual lament). Excellent bread and orange blossom, with a little cane juice (but still not sure there was some rum involved),  candy sugar, perfect notes of ale, turron and crushed pecans, and just some good, solid bread. What’s better than good bread? Finish: medium, with welcome touches of oranges and a feeling of praline and gingerbread. Roasted coated peanuts. Comments: terrific juice that would have deserved, yeah, 3 extra-percent ABV. But indeed, there would have been eve fewer bottles…
SGP:552 - 88 points.

Really happy with that 15, and although I know this was meant to be a duo, let’s have a third Macallan, and hopefully an old one…

Macallan 25 yo (42%, Southwark Distillers for Cantoni Bernardo, Alpa SNC, Italy, 1980

Macallan 25 yo (42%, Southwark Distillers for Cantoni Bernardo, Alpa SNC, Italy, 1987) Four stars
Actually, I have no proof that this is Macallan, but as some trustworthy friends say it is, well, we shall believe them. And a little math, 1980 – 25 = 1955. So, this is early 1950s malt whisky, and if it is well early 1950s Macallan, it may be a total killer… Colour: gold/cognac. Nose: but who the hell did break the mould? Cigars and teas, dried apricots and quinces, dates and figs, raisins, old cognac and the usual rancio, chicken broth and miso soup, old Sauternes and moscatel… All superb, but it tends to lose steam a wee bit and to become a little booky (meaning it smells of old books) and cardoardy. No big deal! Mouth: a wee bit of wrong OBE (a wee touch of soap) but other than that, we’re finding all what’s needed from an old Mac’. Roasted nuts, tobacco, raisins, chocolate, Seville oranges, earthy teas, English soups, touches of salt, hints of wood smoke… Finish: astonishingly long, it’s just a (moderate) shame that these smidgens of soap keep pestering us. Comments: wonderful. Sure 91+ without that wee flaw that just wouldn’t go away. And I’ve been waiting!
SGP:462 - 86 points

(Merci Nicolas!)

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

 

July 24, 2018


Whiskyfun

A few newish Bowmore

So a classic session. Always a joy, especially since the whacky – and frankly awful - 1980s are well over. And the windows clean, understand that if you can.

Bowmore 10 yo ‘Dark and Intense’ (40%, OB, travel retail, 2018)

Bowmore 10 yo ‘Dark and Intense’ (40%, OB, travel retail, 2018) one star and a half
Intense at 40% vol.? At least it’s got an age statement, so I still say bravo, Bowmore! Some sherry casks have been involved here, it seems… Colour: deep gold. Nose: ouch. Used matches, leather, black pepper, thyme, caraway, ginger, plywood… Some very active European oak involved, it seems. I find this very spicy and green nose a tad difficult, but let’s see what happens on the palate… Mouth: some kind of wood and whisky blend. Extremely modern, I would say, the distillate’s almost anecdotal and the casks are doing all the work, as it appears. Spices, burnt caramel, cloves, molasses, barbecued Mars bars… I’m sorry but I don’t find my Bowmore in there. Finish: rather long, ashy, spicy, marmalade-y. Burnt sugar and bitter chocolate. Comments: I don’t know. There was the Darkest that was already pretty loco, but at least that one had some saltiness. In short, this is not really my scene, I’m afraid. Rather bark and incense than dark and intense (nah, not very proud of that one).
SGP:354 - 69 points.

Bowmore 2000/2017 (46%, Cooper’s Choice, bourbon, cask #223) Four stars
Colour: white wine (hurray). Nose: a clean paraffiny arrival (hurray) with notes of clams and other seashells (hurray) then a mild and subtle smokiness (hurray) and a growing brine-iness (hurray). Fresh hazelnuts and almonds (hurray) and notes of fresh Loch Gruinart oysters (triple hurray). Mouth: luminous, wonderfully peaty, salty, almondy, with some seaweed, more oysters, light ashes, a touch of petrol and lamp oil, some green pepper, and smidgens of organic tapenade. Love tapenade. Finish: pretty long, peaty, brine-y. Oily aftertaste, with some lemon. Comments: hurray. Frankly, a good half of the official range is just perfect, but I find the other half more than questionable. Keep the crazy woods for the fireplace!
SGP:356 - 86 points.

Bowmore 21 yo 1996/2018 (52.9%, Dram Fool, bourbon hogshead, 299 bottles)

Bowmore 21 yo 1996/2018 (52.9%, Dram Fool, bourbon hogshead, 299 bottles) Three stars and a half
Further redemption, I imagine… Seriously, why are the owners slaughtering their make like that? Colour: white wine. Nose: f***k it and s***w this, this is perfect. We all know that Bowmore have been making a stunning spirit since the early-to-mid 1990s, and this is just another fine example. Brine, lemon juice, smoked waters, hessian, oysters, langoustines (coz I know some friends don’t like oysters), lemon-scented candle wax, olive brine… With water: that old tweed jacket after a long walk near Machir bay. It was raining again. Mouth (neat): well, there’s something slightly weird, something like plastic, but other than that, all is perfectly brine-y and lemony. With water: a little less plastic, rather a deep brine-y and lemony combo. White tequila. Some kind of Islay margarita, in other words. And I’m even finding traces of gin (you know, that Sassenach thing that just everyone’s making these days – what, you say the Scots invented gin too???). Finish: long, good, brine-y, smoky. Comments: there’s a weird thing inside (that plastic, perhaps an accident) but otherwise, it’s very brilliant whisky.
SGP:366 - 83 points.

A wee word while I’m at it, many friends within the whisky (and booze) industry are using plastic while, I think, they shouldn’t. We’re talking about caps, sealing materials, tapes, glues, whatever. I really believe that spirits and plastics (in the broadest sense of that word) just don’t fit. I would rather focus on glass, metal, cork, and special hard plastics such as bakelite (like). Just a wee idea, but let’s move on…

Bowmore 21 yo 1997/2018 (56.2%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #12539, 317 bottles)

Bowmore 21 yo 1997/2018 (56.2%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #12539, 317 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine (indeed, hurray). Nose: greatly austere, waxy, oily and petroly, very coastal, yet self-restrained, with the usual brine, those tarry ropes, and some kind of salted bread dough. Nothing bad to say this far. With water: bandages on a beach, seawater, oysters, kelp, iodine. And that old tweed jacket from the good old days when Harris tweed was Harris tweed (that was a message only for the tuned-in people). Mouth (neat): stunning. This is Bowmore. Pure lemon juice, seawater, kippers, olive oil. Elementary and fat-tastic. With water: can binary whisky be top-class? Seawater and lemon, that’s all. Okay, plus wax and almond oil. Finish: long, very waxy, you’d even believe you’ve just quaffed fusel oil. Quite. Comments: whisky for wine people. That may sound silly, I know… In fact you could almost call this cool-climate malt whisky, provided you aren’t scared of anything.
SGP:355 - 90 points.

And now, parachutes helmets and safety belts please…

Bowmore 30 yo 1987/2018 (50.8%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill butt, cask #12376, 135 bottles)

Bowmore 30 yo 1987/2018 (50.8%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill butt, cask #12376, 135 bottles)
That is right, a new Bowmore from those very strange 1980s. You know, electronic drumkits, Toyota Celicas and those Bowmores… Colour: gold. Nose: well, okay, let’s put it this way, this is totally emblematic of those ugly Bowmores, and yet there’s something attractive to this nose. A lot of liquorice and violet essence for sure, a lorryload of lavender bonbons, whiffs of old lady’s perfume and, perhaps, and please don’t shoot, ideas of Buckingham’s ladies’ rooms. With water: cabbage and leatherette, perhaps. Mouth (neat): awfully awful. Kerosene, brake fluid, old broken room fragrance diffuser (from M&S’s), Motel 6’s own shampoo, and yeah, whatnot. With water: terrifyingly shampoo-y. Finish: long and, quite curiously, a little nicer. After all, we all like lavender (no, not really, S.). Comments: terrible whisky, but in a sense it’s sound as a historical testimony, because this style really existed, cross my heart. Never tried FWP Bowmore? Yeah, FWP = French-Whore-Perfume. So I would gather a few friends, buy a bottle of this, share it, and have a good laugh. Because we all need a few laughs in our life and again and again, this style existed, and they had it for a good decade. Really. Oh and thank you Douglas Laing, this is well museum-quality malt whisky! History!
SGP:663 - 59 points.

In theory, after that nightmare of a malt whisky we should stop this right now and go to bed – or go watch a lost episode of Inspektor Derrick. But there is another new one…

Bowmore 19 yo 1998/2018 (48.8%, The Whisky Agency for The Whisky Exchange, butt)

Bowmore 19 yo 1998/2018 (48.8%, The Whisky Agency for The Whisky Exchange, butt) Five stars
This one’s totally brand new. Well, butt means sherry, and in my book sherry and peat may either create total wonders, or utter disasters. The truth is in the glass, as they say. Oh and as usual, the label is beautiful and shows our friends Billy Abbot doing some tap-dancing. Colour: white wine. The palest ex-butt whisky I’ve even seen, really. Nose: it’s a very brine-y one, it starts sharp like a Japanese blade, it’s full of Atlantic water, it’s got a little fennel (seeds), hints of pastis, smoked trout, thin slices of green apple, the usual oysters, and, well, sushi. Really, sushi. I insist, sushi. Why aren’t our friends the Japanese rather making this kind? Mouth: perfect, millimetric, starting just a tad hot and spirity, but getting in line, with some sharp(ish) lemony smoke, some petroly riesling (I know a few good houses), and certainly a lot of lime. Perhaps some thin chocolate coating around that lime, as they would do in Paris when they’re not too busy. Also a pinch of freshly chopped basil. Strength and body are perfect. Finish: medium, perfectly coastal, with oysters and, in the aftertaste, the thinnest bit of chocolate crisp ever. Comments: a butt, really?! A fino butt, perhaps? Or was it manzanilla?? Albariño???  Verdejo????
SGP:366 - 90 points.

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

 

July 23, 2018


Whiskyfun

Another little basket of Irish

Always a joy to try to unearth some new Irish fruit bombs, let’s see what we have…

West Cork ‘Glengarrif Series’ (43%, OB, Irish, single malt, Bog Oak Charred Cask Finish, +/-2018)

West Cork ‘Glengarrif Series’ (43%, OB, Irish, single malt, Bog Oak Charred Cask Finish, +/-2018)
Bog oak seems to be some kind of very old oak that’s in the process of getting fossilized. We have some in France too, they’re usually to be found in swamps or peat-bogs and are used to make knife handles or pipes. Bog oak (morta in French) is usually extremely hard. Colour: gold. Nose: a bit weird, with whiffs of burnt petrol at first, then a pretty gingery feeling. Tonic water, turmeric… It’s a very strange nose I have to say, although vanilla would then come out… Mouth: bizarre, bitter, with notes of Fanta. It’s got something funny for sure, but the very gingery oak made it rather unbalanced. Let’s wait for a proper ‘unfinished’ West Cork then. Finish: rather long, dry, spicy, not easy. Comments: as I said, I’ll try to taste a more regular West Cork next time. Now the bottle itself is lovely IMHO.
SGP:361 - 65 points.

Tipperary ‘Watershed’ (47%, OB, Irish, single malt, +/-2018)

Tipperary ‘Watershed’ (47%, OB, Irish, single malt, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
This from Stuart Nickerson’s new distillery, although it seems that it’s still sourced whiskey, not their own.  Colour: white wine. Nose: less ‘singular’, of course, but probably better balanced, nicely fruity, rather on apples and cherries at first, then vanilla and the softest honeys. Also barley, melons, touches of papayas, and a discreet grassy aspect that works very well. Mouth: very good. Lemon, icing sugar, limoncello, light cereals, green apples, and ‘of course’ a little vanilla. Green melons. All fine, and the strength is perfect. Finish: medium, clean, fruity, with a pleasant zestiness. Spicier and oakier aftertaste. Comments: sure it’s a long way when you start a new distillery… ha-ha.
SGP:551 - 83 points.

Irish 14 yo 2003/2018 (50.5%, Exclusive Malts for The Whisky Barrel, Irish single malt, refill sherry hogshead, cask #200503, 264 bottles)

Irish 14 yo 2003/2018 (50.5%, Exclusive Malts for The Whisky Barrel, Irish single malt, refill sherry hogshead, cask #200503, 264 bottles) Four stars
I can’t quite see what could go wrong, but you never know... This is said to be Cooley. Colour: gold. Nose: some rather spicy and cinnamony oak at first, with notes of cedar wood, balsa, then maraschino, morello cherries, almond syrup (orgeat)… What’s sure is that the cask was very active, doesn’t feel very ‘refill’, but I have to say I enjoy these whiffs of moss, fern, humus and other elements from a Japanese forest (whatever, S.!) very much. Also these menthol and smoked tea combinations. Mouth: extremely unusual and a bit crazy. Tar liqueur, ginger, snuff, green peppercorns, cinnamon rolls, chestnut honey, molasses, speculoos, some kind of crazy gin (but aren’t all gins crazy by nature?)… Goes more towards bitter oranges and burnt raisins after a short while. One of the heavier Irish, for sure. Finish: very long, spicy. Eating your cigar with a little marmalade. Comments: totally eccentric and, perhaps, a tad illegal (that’s meant to be a figure of style, David!) What a crazy concoction!
SGP:561 - 86 points.

Irish 24 yo 1993/2018 (48.2%, The Whisky Agency for The Whisky Exchange, 209 bottles)

Irish Whiskey 24 yo 1993/2018 (48.2%, The Whisky Agency for The Whisky Exchange, 209 bottles) Five stars
This one too is brand new. And once again, I cannot quite see what could go wrong, although I’m sure this one will be better civilized than the crazy 2003. Colour: straw. Nose: not quite a fruit bomb, but no one could not like (drop those double negatives for good, S.!) this style that’s full of honeys, golden cereals, custard and soft preserved fruits. A pastry shop in central London, around 7am. Apricots on syrup. Mouth: in keeping with the nose. Lemony melons and melony lemons, acacia honey, apricots and peaches, and touches of angelica. Gets more citrusy over time, which just always works. Finish: medium, with notes of blood oranges and grapefruits. Comments: perhaps not quite the incredible fruitiness that’s to be found in slightly earlier vintages (say 1988-1991) but we’re still flying extremely high. Over Ireland.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Irish Malt 26 yo 1992/2018 ‘Summer Dram’ (48.3%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon barrel, 172 bottles)

Irish Malt 26 yo 1992/2018 ‘Summer Dram’ (48.3%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon barrel, 172 bottles) Five stars
Summer dram? How fitting, it is scorching hot in Alsace at time of writing. Colour: dark straw. Nose: there, cantaloupes, heather honey, preserved mangos, pink bananas, damp old wood, pine needles, menthol, Kools… Enough said. I mean, written. Mouth: this slightly mentholy fruitiness that aficionados love so much. Oranges, mint leaves, olive oil, all-flower honey, passion fruits, apple peelings, perhaps two fresh walnuts (per glass). Also fresh almonds. Finish: rather long, wonderfully almondy and fruity. A feeling of old pine liqueurs from old countries from an old continent. Comments: actually, the 1993 improved once exposed to more oxygen – while we were done with it. So, same scores…
SGP:661 - 90 points.

Sláinte na bhfear agus go maire na mná go deo!

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

 

July 22, 2018


Whiskyfun

Seven white rums

That’s probably rum’s main advantage over whisky, you may actually enjoy some unaged ones. I said ‘some’ because some high-column white rums, unless aromatized, are just, well, almost vodka – and we’re not talking high-end artisan pot-still vodka. Let’s see what we have, I know we’ve accumulated many white rums over last few months.

Diplomatico ‘Planas’ (47%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2018)

Diplomatico ‘Planas’ (47%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2018) Two stars
This new Diplo is actually aged rum (they say for 6 years) that’s then filtered through charcoal so that it loses its colour – hopefully not its flavours, let’s see… Colour: white, with very pale shades of yellow… Nose: I had hopes, you see, but this smells of the kind of raw spirit that you get when you distil regular apples. Actually, it is very vodka-ish, with just some very remote whiffs of grated coconut. Mouth: not too bad, actually. Fewer sugary notes than usual in Diplomatico, and rather some fresh papayas and yellow melons, plus touches of pineapple. Now it’s still a bit vodka-y, but I find it loyal and honest.  Finish: medium, rather fresh. Comments: no deep, flavourful rum, but I find it so much better than their earlier ‘Blanco Reserve’! I think this is my favourite Diplomatico.
SGP:640 - 72 points.

Mezan Rum (37.5%, Mezan, St Lucia, +/-2017)

Mezan Rum (37.5%, Mezan, St Lucia, +/-2017) Two stars
I had never seen this light-strength baby before. Master of Malts are having it. Colour: white. Nose: more action than in the Diplomatico, despite the missing 10% ABV. It is slightly smoky and rather earthy, and would not display dumpers and dumpers of fruits. Rather some grass and cactus, actually.  Mouth: rather rich, and fruitier, with good notes of sugar cane and tangerines. Not very wide, neither is it any complex, but you could sip it although ice might be needed. Finish: medium, a little sugary. Saccharin. Comments: nothing to write home about, and we’re pretty far from Mezan’s usual very pure rums, but this is another honest white, I would say.
SGP:550 - 72 points.

Chamarel ‘Coeur de Chauffe’ (44%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2016)

Chamarel ‘Coeur de Chauffe’ (44%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2016) Four stars
Coeur de chauffe means heart, as you probably know. We’ve tried a very good Chamarel VSOP a few years back (WF 82). This is double-distilled cane juice. Colour: white. Nose: wonderful, much deeper than the two previous ones, rather petroly, liquorice-y, tarry, earthy, olive-y… At times you could believe it’s a lighter Jamaican. Lovely whiffs of shoe polish. Mouth: indeed, some very characterful rum, with a ‘grand-arôme’ side that’s most lovely. Sugar cane, tar, liquorice, brine, balsam, overripe pineapples, Szechuan pepper… I’m really very impressed with this wee Mauritian! Finish: rather long and much more lime-y. Lovely, very fresh signature. Comments: super-good and very agricole, but not all agricoles are as estery as this one.
SGP:462 - 85 points.

So, naturally…

Rhum J.M ‘Blanc’ (50%, OB, Martinique, agricole, white, +/-2016)

Rhum J.M ‘Blanc’ (50%, OB, Martinique, agricole, white, +/-2016) Four stars
These come in various strengths, from 40 to, I believe, 60. So, this is the median… Colour: white. Nose: amazing nose of pure, unadulterated cane juice at first, then the traditional whiffs of cut apples, aniseed and fennel, then rather this lemon/gherkin tango that’s very typical. Now it’s also a little acetone-y, but let’s see what water will do to it… With water: fantastic, on fresh ginger, tonic, more lemons… And no acetone. Mouth (neat): exceptional, with mezcal, lemon juice, caraway, celeriac and turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, a touch of powdered ginseng, regular artichokes, grapefruits… This one’s got something to tell! With water: you could add litres of water, you’ll never kill it. Great distillates never die, as they say (who’s saying that, S.?) Finish: long, wonderfully earthy. More gherkins, lemon, earthy roots… Beets? Comments: 25€ a bottle. I repeat, 25€ a bottle.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Good, let’s call for even heavier artillery, if you don’t mind…

Longueteau 2015 ‘Genesis’ (73.51%, OB, Guadeloupe, white, 5000 bottles, +/-2017)

Longueteau 2015 ‘Genesis’ (73.51%, OB, Guadeloupe, white, 5000 bottles, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
Integrally red cane, straight from the column, just kept for two years in stainless steel prior to bottling in a rather lovely art-déco bottle. Seen the strength? Wish me luck… Colour: white. Nose: some explosive cane juice, that’s all I’ll say. It’s rather a purer cane distillate, it seems… With water: wonderful again, a tad more floral than the J.M, with very wee hints of musk, roses, orange blossom, pine needles, agave… This needs no wood! Mouth (neat): cough, cough… Earthy lemons and olive brine, shall we say? With water: perfect, lemony, earthy, with very loud and clear notes of cane juice, and rather less olives and tar than in the J.M. A little gentler when at the same strength (very roughly). Finish: long, perhaps a tad more sugary. Sugar syrup, cane syrup. Comments: the rather wilder style of the J.M may have caused this Longueteau a little trouble, but it remains a superb, albeit sweeter white agricole.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

All right, heavy artillery he said…

Hampden ‘Rum Fire Velvet’ (63%, OB, Jamaica, white, +/-2018)

Hampden ‘Rum Fire Velvet’ (63%, OB, Jamaica, white, +/-2018) Four stars
Another one that’s at 25€. And it is Hampden. No idea as regard to the marque, having said that, not all Hampdens are pure kerosene (you see what I mean, don’t you?) Colour: white. Nose: it doesn’t seem to be any of those extreme 1000+ gr/Hl ester Hampdens, but it sure does shoot esters at you, brine, olives, rotten bananas, rotting pineapples… With water: it’s highly viscimetric! There are many whorls, this is almost Van-Goghian (yeah right)… Goes more toward the expected olive oil, grape pips, pine-y earth, coal tar… Mouth (neat): super-sharp lemony arrival, then some pungent earthy liquorice mixed with liquid tar. I’m also finding some mead while insisting (and slaughtering my taste buds). With water: oh excellent. Lemon and lime plus earth and liquorice, with a drop of brine. No quibbling to be done here. Finish: very long, earthy, perhaps a tad sweeter than expected (lemon-flavoured marshmallows – yep the yellow ones). Loads of liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m still a tad more in love with the J.M, there!
SGP:563 - 86 points.

Oh well, let’s remain Cartesians and also have this baby, it’s the first time we’re comparing the two Jamaican heavier hitters in their most natural forms…

Worthy Park 'Rum Bar Overproof' (65%, OB, Jamaica, white, +/-2018)

Worthy Park 'Rum Bar Overproof' (65%, OB, Jamaica, white, +/-2018) Four stars
Already tried it two years ago, and loved it. WF 88 and approx. 30€, so beats a few Scotches… But let’s do this quick… Colour: white. Nose: it’s much more extreme, smokier, tarrier, more gravely… You could even believe they peated the molasses! With water: pure grassy cane, raw liquorice wood, carbon paper, new magazines, biofuel… Mouth (neat): it’s really more extreme than the Hampden, smokier, even more liquorice-y, more austere as well… With water: no, wait, this is easier, cane-y, with pink grapefruits and citrons, sweet apples… Finish: long, earthier, smokier than the Hampden. Comments: frankly, love both makes and they always take turns in our little tasting book. This time, I’d say it’s WP, but by a very small margin.
SGP:563 - 87 points.

(Merci Anthony)

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

 

July 21, 2018


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Wee birthday duos
It’s my birthday (again!), so I’ll attempt to forget the fact by tasting my way through a few interesting pairs of drams. Some funny, some - hopefully - excellent. Although, I’ll be spending this weekend up on the north west coast of Scotland around Torridon - so I’ll not be complaining too much. Let’s kick off with some Mortlach...

 

Mortlach 21 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail for Sestante, 1990s, 70cl) Mortlach 21 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail for Sestante, 1990s, 70cl)
From G&M stock, but given the strength, it could go either way... Colour: gold. Nose: dusty but also with plenty honey, mirabelle, ripe melon, wee touches of soot, metal polish and cornbread. The porridge and dusty side starts to get a little louder with time - towards OBE territory. Still some grassy olive oil notes and a little quince. Mouth: green tea, waxes, more polish notes, honey, pollen and also a little cardboard and milky cereal. A whisky of two halves really. Finish: short-medium. More soft cereals, yoghurt, ink, light tea notes and a little pleasing bready aspect. Comments: There’s really two whiskies in here, a very lovely old Mortlach, and a slightly flabby old dram that’s afflicted by too low a bottling strength, filtration, caramel, OBE etc...
SGP: 351 - 77 points.
 

 

Mortlach 23 yo 1974/1997 (50.3%, Milroys Of Soho)

Mortlach 23 yo 1974/1997 (50.3%, Milroys Of Soho)
Colour: gold. Nose: It’s funny how, despite the difference in strength and bottling style, you can still feel a seam of identity running between the two. This is the same very Mortlach-esque mix of waxes, pollens, dried herbs, mead and polish notes. Only here it’s superbly clean, textural, concentrated and with a big, glistening oiliness and an elevated waxiness. With water: salted honey, stewed dark fruits, candied citrus peels and hints of clay and putty. Almost reminiscent of an old Balvenie at points. Mouth: beautifully concentrated waxiness, herbal liqueurs, precious hardwood resins, antique furniture polish, quince paste, citrons, pear liqueur and mint tea. A wonderfully fat green fruitiness underneath as well. With water: perfectly complex, oily, fruity, waxy; a more vigorous and pointed spiciness. Terrific! Finish: Long! Full of oily waxes, more citrus rinds, orange oils, natural tar, herbal essences and some more dried fruits. Comments: I wasn’t too sure what to expect, maybe I’ve just forgotten how terrific old Mortlachs can be. What a fantastic distillate.
SGP: 662 - 92 points.

 

 

Benriach 36 yo 1976/2013 (40.1%, OB for whiskysite.nl, refill hogshead, cask #3012, 118 bottles)

Benriach 36 yo 1976/2013 (40.1%, OB for whiskysite.nl, refill hogshead, cask #3012, 118 bottles)
Caught in the nick of time by the looks of things. Colour: light amber. Nose: as expected it’s a rather wonderful and nervous concentration of tropical and green fruits, wood spices, soft waxes and various oils and wood resins. Typical 76 Benriach. There are some pleasing wee tertiary notes of ripe melon, lamp oil and rye bread and orange cocktail bitters as well. Globally rather beautiful and well composed. Mouth: it’s undeniably soft but I’m impressed by the ‘togetherness’ of it all. Lots of hessian, cola cubes, lime oil, eucalyptus travel sweets, menthol and coconut. The waxiness is still there, almost like a glue holding everything together in the background. Finish: again impressive with a good length and plenty resinous citrus peel notes, kumquats, lemon sweets, cough medicine and a little white pepper. Comments: quite remarkable really in that the low abv didn’t seem to hinder it at any point. It’s not the best 76 Benriach by any stretch, but it’s the sort of dram you could drink a whole bottle of by mistake should you be suitably motivated.
SGP: 651 - 90 points.

 

 

Benriach 28 yo 1975/2004 (56.3%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, sherry hogshead, cask #7217, 221 bottles)

Benriach 28 yo 1975/2004 (56.3%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, sherry hogshead, cask #7217, 221 bottles)
Colour: light amber. Nose: although there is an initial abundance of honey and pollen, you could almost say it is a little closed to begin with. It certainly needs time to open up. But it does come eventually - fresh brown bread, aged calvados, a lick of balsamico, tutti fruit, pink grapefruit and some damp earthy notes underneath it all. There’s also a meaty and slightly leathery note along with some old boal madeira rising up from the depths. With water: some ripe nectarine, orange liqueur, brown sugar, fruit loaf and a saline, long-aged oloroso sherry note. Mouth: golden syrup, spun sugar, olive oil, aged Sauternes and some buttered white toast all come forward initially. There’s sweetness but also autolytic aspects vying for dominance. Aged muscat, some prune juice, dates, fig jam, black cherry, ointments and dried rosemary. Even a wee hint of black olive. I find it pretty complex really. With water: superbly dry, earthy, salty and darkly fruited. Lots of bramble, damson, sour cherry, mirabelle, old plum wine, salty liquorice, dried mint and a little tropical pineapple note emerging. Water really makes it sing. Finish: Long and full of damp earth, preserved lemons, cigar boxes, wet leaves, dried prunes, ointments and camphor. Comments: quite a ride! In some ways it’s not at all what I was expecting and now that we’re at the end I’m not really that surprised in retrospect. A wonderfully complex but at the same time rather demanding old Benriach - you need to be willing to go at the whisky’s pace rather than your own.
SGP: 661 - 91 points.

 

 

Tormore 30 yo 1984/2015 (55.8%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 432 bottles)

Tormore 30 yo 1984/2015 (55.8%, Cadenhead Small Batch, 432 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: many ripe green and garden fruits: gooseberry, green and red apple, brambles, ripe pears, mirabelle and then lots of fresh vanilla custard. Rather lovey and pretty typical Tormore I’d say. Wee tertiary touches of gauze, hessian and ink with soft dried herbal side as well. With water: lillies, pollen, ink, toffee sweeties, foam shrimps, candy floss, a little fresh butter. All perfectly lovely. Mouth: lots of biscuity notes such as digestives and milk chocolate tea biscuits. Milk bottle sweeties, caramel logs, rye bread, coconut and some creme caramel. I suspect the wood is doing much of the heavy lifting here; although it is doing it commendably well I should say. With water: the sweetness is still abundant but it’s never cloying or unnatural. Lots of honey, a little green pepper, some pencil shavings, a touch of ginger and cinnamon, potpourri. Finish: good length. All on pink marshmallows, apple pie, more custard, a little freeze dried raspberry and some slightly grassier aspects towards the aftertaste. Comments: Decent, solid Tormore. I recently scored an older 1984 Tormore by Cadenhead 80 points here on Whiskyfun, I would imagine this is from sibling stocks. Much improved in the interim I’d say.
SGP: 531 - 87 points.

 

 

Tormore 33 yo 1984/2017 (51.7%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 132 bottles)

Tormore 33 yo 1984/2017 (51.7%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 132 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: we’re not far off. The same kind of sweet/milky/cereal profile. Condensed milk, cinnamon grahams, milk bottles sweeties, custard, white pepper. There’s fewer fresh fruits around in the nose, but maybe the extra 3 years and being from a single barrel has done that. Some green apple peelings, tart cider and gooseberries but also some soft earthiness, marshmallow and a little damp sack cloth. With water: geraniums and warm greenhouses, a tomato vine, milky tea and digestive biscuits. Mouth: indeed, the wood is a little more biting here, but it’s still of the clean and polished variety. Lots of rather plush natural sweetness, syrupy notes, custard, cocoanut milk, olive oil, hessian. Some vase water and green pepper come through in time as well. With water: milk chocolate, rosewater, a little hemp, some dried lavender and cornbread. Finish: good length, still pretty sweet, some gomme syrup, young calvados and rhubarb and custard boiled sweets. Comments: I find it perfectly good but I think it misses the fruits of the small batch.
SGP: 441 - 84 points.

 

 

Highland Parks... there appears to be no shortage of them at the moment. Not something you’ll find me complaining about any time soon.  

 

Orkney Malt 12 yo 2006/2018 (57.8%, North Star, refill hogshead, 362 bottles)

Orkney Malt 12 yo 2006/2018 (57.8%, North Star, refill hogshead, 362 bottles)
Colour: light gold. Nose: raw, gristy, fresh barley! The kind of aroma that comes when strolling through a working distillery - lots of hay, straw, fermenting wash, hot underbacks, salted butter, salted caramel, ointments, clay, wet beach pebbles and hessian. In time it becomes more honeyed, with notes of heather ale, a glimmer of this very particular Orcadian herbal peat and some taramasalata. With water: chalk, butter, limestone, bath salts, burnt kelp, fresh linen and bonfire ash. Some green peppercorns in brine and a lick of mercurochrome as well. Mouth: wonderfully thick, oily and saline. Some petrol scented aged riesling, peat embers, soot, sea water, salted lemons, a hint of truffle oil and caraway. With water: lots of olive oil, smoked cereals, lemon barley water, lime oil, natural tar and sardines. Also quite a few dried herbs. Finish: long, softly ashy, herbal, lemony, slightly waxy and with various oils and black olives. Comments: Yet another top notch, thrillingly naked HP. Wonderful distillate.
SGP: 463 - 89 points.

 

 

Highland Park 28 yo 1989/2018 (48.8%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 270 bottles)

Highland Park 28 yo 1989/2018 (48.8%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 270 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: heather honey, anthracite fires, dry roasted peanuts, lemon jam, bay leafs and camphor. A rather beautifully aromatic nose. Continues with wildflowers, hessian, dunnage, old paper, mineral oil, dried herbs and an increasing waxiness. A delightfully soft and elegant HP. Mouth: a lighter textured example but the flavours are really beautiful. All sorts of heathery and waxy notes with old mead, medicine, salted caramel and herbal liqueurs. An expensive mint julep, some lapsang souchong tea, shellfish and a good Scottish IPA. Terrific stuff. Finish: long and bristling with lemons, waxes, honeys, teas, seashore notes and an increasing saltiness. Comments: compelling mid-aged HP. Or, are we calling 28 ‘old’ these days? A wee gem nonetheless.
SGP: 562 - 91 points.

 

 

A birthday like your 33rd commands a certain amount of humility I’d say, and what could be more humble than good old, unassuming, Glencadam. It’s even owned by Angus Dundee, which I suppose is appropriate if you put stock in meaningless and utterly trivial coincidences.  

 

Glencadam 13 yo ‘The Re-awakening’ (46%, OB, 6000 bottles, 2017)

Glencadam 13 yo ‘The Re-awakening’ (46%, OB, 6000 bottles, 2017)
I’m not sure whether a brief silent spell between 2000 and 20003 - when this one was distilled - necessarily justifies the heft of a title like ‘re-awakening’. But then, I suppose marketeers have to earn their crust somehow... Colour: straw. Nose: rather pleasingly it’s extremely close to the raw ingredients. That is to say: lots of fresh barley, lemon barley water, yeasty sourdough notes, watercress, white asparagus (not that they put watercress or asparagus of any shade in whisky mind you - well, maybe in Alsace...) Cream crackers, a smidgen of custard, some oatmeal, runny honey, geraniums. All very curious, funny and slightly unusual. Mouth: ink, aspirin, crushed oatcakes, daffodils and custard creams. A strange experience. There’s also some porridge, a lick of cardboard and even an inkling of wood glue which is somewhat concerning. Putty, some paper mâché paste and a few white jelly babies. In time it becomes more savoury, bready and with a kind of powdery texture. Finish: reasonably lengthy but also slightly sour, strangely buttery and full of something like off sweeties. Comments: I am unsure what to make of this. It is not entirely impossible my sample was iffy, but I doubt it. Things started well but then kind of...‘veered off’, so to speak. A strange one.
SGP: 351 - 74 points.

 

 

Glencadam 28 yo 1972/2001 (55.4%, Blackadder, cask #7633, 222 bottles)

Glencadam 28 yo 1972/2001 (55.4%, Blackadder, cask #7633, 222 bottles)
Let’s see if we have ‘better humility’ with this one... Colour: gold. Nose: another world! Dandelions and a wealth of other meadow flowers, churned butter, honey on brown toast, sunflower seeds, cinnamon powder, rosewater and lemon bonbons. Some soft waxes, old ink and a little chalkiness as well. With water: tobacco leaf, soft earths, white blossoms and things like chamomile and mirabelle eau de vie. Really quite lovely. Mouth: lots of coal dust, some figs, wax, prune juice, eucalyptus resin, tea tree oil and milk chocolate. Paraffin wax, lamp oil and muesli as well. Different but pretty good I think. With water: honeycomb, victoria sponge, various citrus jams, some wood resins and plenty hessian and camphor. Finish: long, resinous, lemony, earthy, some white fruits and wildflowers re-emerging towards the end. Comments: Probably one of the better Glencadams out there. (happy birthday to me... etc...)
SGP: 551 - 87 points.

 

 

Ok, maybe one totally crazy wee bonus dram for the road...  

 

Glenfiddich 2003/2017 (59%, OB for Spirit Of Speyside festival, fresh sherry butt, cask #33643, 356 bottles)

Glenfiddich 2003/2017 (59%, OB for Spirit Of Speyside festival, fresh sherry butt, cask #33643, 356 bottles)
Heavily sherried, heavily peated Glenfiddich... well, this is whiskyfun after all, isn’t it? Colour: a slapped rosewood arse. Nose: take some pork scratchings, a few packets of bacon frys (you can find them ubiquitously in Scottish pubs), several strips of spiced African biltong, a handful of potpourri, some of the saltiest liquorice imaginable, some red diesel syphoned from a tractor, a scrunched up copy of the Daily Record and several preserved lemons with associated brine. Combine and distill. Now simply garnish with a rosewood piano and you should have something approaching this ridiculous whisky. But seriously, this is bonkers. Continues with black olive tapenade, petrol, old furniture, turpentine and some kind of black peppercorn eau de vie. With water: smouldering hay, cow pats, silage, a strawberry bonbon or two, a smoked pancetta smoothie and some mustard powder. Mouth: ... good news - for some - I am not dead! It’s just that I’m probably giving myself some kind of salty bacon overdose (please send kidneys!) Tarry old rope, new leather, make up, peated lip gloss, raw tar, iodine, burned salt, cigarette ash, creosote and bitumen. There’s also salted almonds, bicycle inner tube, wet earth and mushroom powder. With water: ashes, smoked carpet (what?), old medicines, peated oils, more tar, lighter fluid, bitter wood resins and camphor. Finish: Long in a kind of affectionate ‘fuck you’ sort of way. Comments: I think it is safe to say, the sherry and the peat didn’t ‘quite’ integrate on this occasion. A totally pointless, and impossible, whisky to score. No doubt some people will think it is the best thing since Buckfast finished Octomore and some will react as though they just swallowed a large and very pissed off scorpion. Although, I do think kudos is due to William Grants for having released something as fun and totally crazy as this. But maybe the UN should be informed about any further casks of this lurking in their warehouses...
SGP: 388 - 83 (meaningless) points.

 

 

(Thanks Marcel, Dirk and Hans.)  

 

 

July 20, 2018


Whiskyfun

Two wee Knockando

My compatriots keep quaffing it all, it seems. So not much Knockando around I’m afraid, while the indies just wouldn’t do any. I remember an old Cadenhead, then some by Blackadder, D. Laing and D. Taylor, and that’s more or less it. But I’ve probably missed a few…

Knockando 12 yo 2004 (43%, OB, +/-2016)

Knockando 12 yo 2004 (43%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars
We’re trying to taste most vintages of this baby. They’re usually good, pretty easy, and in my opinion do make for perfect access-category malt whiskies. Colour: straw. Nose: it really is very nice, and it seems that there’s rather less ‘caramel/fudge-y’ notes than, say ten years ago. Nice malty notes, Weetabix, Jaffa cake, apple crumble, sponge cake, compote, milk chocolate, chicory… Mouth: a tad rougher, and this time you’ll find a caramelly side. Mars bar, toasted bread, brioche… The background is a wee tad oaky/drying, perhaps, or say on bitter chocolate, but that’s more than fine, really. Finish: medium, very much on chocolate. Some marmalade and tobacco in the aftertaste. Comments: solid, rather firmer than its lighter compadre Cardhu, and a little old-school. We’re talking 1980.
SGP:441 – 81 points.

Knockando 18 yo 1994 ‘Slow Matured’ (43%, OB, +/-2012)

Knockando 18 yo 1994 ‘Slow Matured’ (43%, OB, +/-2012) Three stars
Missed this one when it came out, sorry. Oh, and did you ever notice that strictly all Knockandos are bearing vintage statements? Oh, and always liked that mention, ‘slow matured’. I suppose they’re using those famous ‘long years’ that other makers are advertising ad libitum. Colour: gold. Nose: pear cake and white chocolate, plus Weetabix again and marzipan. Some coffee too. I think this one’s much nicer than the 1995 and 1996 that I’ve already tried (do first things first next time, S.!) Mouth: yes, this is fine, really, even if I enjoyed the brighter 12 better. Many burnt cakes, some kind of smoked cakes, brownies, Ovaltine, chicory, bitter oranges, walnuts… Tends to become oloroso-y indeed, but there’s also this drying side, cocoa, black tea… Finish: medium, chocolaty, roasted, malty. Comments: again, I tend to enjoy the 12 a wee bit better, but both are very fine drams in my book.
SGP:451 - 81 points.

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

 

July 19, 2018


Whiskyfun

Do you already own this whisky encyclopedia??? >>

The answer’s no? Then listen, Emmanuel Dron’s masterpiece is available again. And the book’s very large and sturdy, so should you buy five, you’ll actually be able to build a new whisky bunker out of them. Now indeed, for the same amount of cash, you could also buy six bottles of Haig Club instead. Your choice.

In any case, seminal work by Emmanuel that all serious whisky aficionados should own, unless they live in a tiny studio flat. Oh and I know a few distillers who should buy it too, as I’m sure they will learn quite a few things about their own brands.


Sadly, two or three pages were a little unnecessary, but other than that, the huge book’s absolutely stunning and a joy to browse and read (and to marvel at).

 

You can order the book ‘Collecting Scotch Whisky’ over there

 

 

A wee bag of Allt-A-Bhainne

We’ve had some Braes/Braeval the other day – not sure we’ll publish that before or after this – and what’s sure is that all what’s been said about Braeval could have been said about Allt-A-Bhainne too. Don’t you agree, Pernod-Ricard? What’s really funny with Allt-etc is that no one seems to know how we should write the name. Which gives it a free-rock-and-roll feeling that’s not unpleasant…

Allt-A-Bhainne 7 yo 2008/2016 (46%, Hepburn’s Choice, 300 bottles) Four stars
A seven years old Allt-a-Bhainne, not sure we should expect it to be in the same category as that of, say… well forgot what I was about to try to say… And why wouldn’t some seven years old Allt-a-Bhainne be just superb? After all, ages don’t matter anymore, do they… Colour: gold. Nose: good American oak, so good vanilla, over good cornflakes, popcorn, buttered pears, maple syrup, white chocolate, Nutella, shortbread… You just cannot be against that, can you. Mouth: very good, I’m sorry to say. Pears poached in caramel and honey sauce, with drops of late-harvest pinot gris and a just lot of praline. Malt. Finish: medium, but perfectly cake-y. Comments: I don’t know what happened, really, but I think this wee budget bottle just shelters some perfect malt whisky. Even if it’s a tad on the bourbony side, which is where the whole industry’s going to anyway.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Allt-A-Bhainne 21 yo 1995/2017 (49.6%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #12038, 287 bottles)

Allt-A-Bhainne 21 yo 1995/2017 (49.6%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #12038, 287 bottles) Two stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: grass and porridge, then bread and various kinds of pastries. That’s pretty all, but really, I don’t feel like I should write a novel about this one… Mouth: it’s okay, it’s just rough, a tad too eau-de-vie-ish, and rather too grassy. Really, this one won’t make it to whiskystardom if you ask me. Finish: medium, raw, grassy. Apple peelings and grass. Comments: in some cases, the wood appears to make the whisky.
SGP:341 - 72 points.

Good, there’s room for redemption…

Allt-A-Bhainne 25 yo (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, 2018) Three stars
Good, so there is this brand new All-A-Bhainne or Allt-à-Bhainne or whatever, but I just cannot find it on the Web, although I’ve got an official sample, but it’s that difficult to gather any data, that we’ll just try it out of the blue. Yes, whatever this really is, let us just taste it (S., you rebel!)… Colour: straw. Nose: fine barley-y notes, vanilla, hay, cereals, chicory, scones… but also vase water, last year’s hay, stale Guinness… So not too sure. With water: not quite. Old newspapers. English tabloids, so pretty bad. Mouth (neat): very good this time, caramelly, cake-y, malty, chocolaty… Love thee notes of liquorice and hazelnut liqueur. No, of course I’ve never tried that combo, but I’m sure that would be a hit. With water: no particular interest, but water won’t kill it this time. Finish: medium, grassy at time, malty… Stewed apples in the aftertaste. Comments: like this one – and am eager to get the data. Or maybe not, life being so short…
SGP:451 - 80 points.


An open letter to Mr. Alexandre Ricard:


Dear Mr. Chairman,
Would you mind giving us the correct spelling of the name of your very lovely distillery in Banffshire?
Allt a Bhainne
Allt-a-Bhainne
Allt-à-Bhainne
Allt-á-Bhainne
Allt A Bhainne
Allt-A-Bhainne
Allt-À-Bhainne
Allt-Á-Bhainne
Peu importe/doesn’t matter
Please accept, Dear Mr. Chairman, the assurance of our highest consideration.

Serge

Proprietor, whiskyfun.com

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Allt-A-Bhainne we've tasted so far

 

July 18, 2018


Whiskyfun

Another bag of undisclosed whiskies

You don’t know what they are, but some can be very good. Let’s see what will jump out of the shelves…

Bealach Ruadh 10 yo (57.1%, Chorlton Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 159 bottles, 2018)

Bealach Ruadh 10 yo (57.1%, Chorlton Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 159 bottles, 2018) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: massive raw and tarry peat that reminds me of the last distillery on the right when you’re driving towards Islay’s most famous Celtic Cross. Tarry ropes, old paint pots, fresh putty, smoked almonds, sundried flatfish (and why not?) With water: beautiful sourness, artisanal cider, beginner’s ale, grist… Mouth (neat): sweet, pearish, lemony, tarry and very smoky. Someone tried to kiln lemons – or what? With water: sweet peat, even peaches, lemons, limes, ashes, tar… Now it’s not very coastal, not very brine-y… Finish: long, very ashy, with some peppers and some cinnamon. Comments: whatever this is, it’s very good. As for the name, it means a reddish narrow mountain’s pass (am I good or not – thank you glosbe.com!), and indeed, that kind of landscape’s rather to be seen towards Port Askaig. Well well well, the plot thickens…
SGP:457 - 87 points.

Islay Malt 2007/2015 (51.6%, Sansibar for S Spirit Shop Selection, bourbon)

Islay Malt 2007/2015 (51.6%, Sansibar for S Spirit Shop Selection, bourbon) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: gentler than the Chorlton, with more sweetness, cake, tartes… The cask was more active, and this vanilla adds a feeling of limoncello that’s anything but unpleasant. Notes of basil. With water: grass and seaweed, burnt and smoked. Brake pads. Mouth (neat): a bit hot, otherwise rather rounded, on smoked citrus, tartes, peaty jams, lemon marmalade… With water: very good, with loads of grapefruits. Another existential question, may you smoke grapefruits using dried kelp? Did anyone try that? Finish: long, a tad candied. And now it seems that they have smoked sugarcanes… (who will try that? I’m sure someone will, after all innovation is always good). Comments: another very good young one. No quibbles.
SGP:556 - 85 points.

Look, the plan was not to have peaters today. How shall we go on? Perhaps with a lighter peater, and then undisclosed unpeated whiskies from other regions… let’s see…

The Big Strand (46%, Morrison & MacKay, +/-2017)

The Big Strand (46%, Morrison & MacKay, +/-2017) Four stars
No age and no distillery name, but this is a single malt from Islay and the strength is right, so no need to gather our courage… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: rather gentle, seemingly very young, pretty briny. Olives, smoked cuts, carbon paper, ink, clams, kelp, smoked argan oil. Mouth: pears and pineapples, then lemons, then a drop of Tabasco over a fat Islay oyster, then some rather drying ashes that make you feel the need to clear your throat. Almost. Finish: medium, clean, with notes of green apples. Comments: easy, very good, flawless, and vibrant young peat that anyone will enjoy. And screw nitrosamines! (S., please…)
SGP:556 - 85 points.

As we get it (64%, Ian MacLeod, Highland, +/-2017)

As we get it (64%, Ian MacLeod, Highland, +/-2017) Four stars
Love everything in this series of single malts, especially since we’ve already had many utter stunners. I especially remember a Balvenie… oh well of well oh well… But yeah, whisky’s changed… Colour: gold. Nose: get-out-of-here! This will burn your nostrils. Kerosene, apple juice, cow dung, nail polish remover, ammonia… Seriously, is this legal? It sure will post-Brexit, but right now? With water: ah yes! Hay, malt, hops, ale, stewed brussels sprouts, artichokes… What’s not to like? Mouth (neat): you just met Mike Tyson. With water: phew! It swims very well, with some cider, tobacco, myrtle, barley sugar, a little camphor… I would really love to know what this is, I have to say I’ve tried some modern Glenturrets that were a bit like this. Very good. Finish: long, a tad challenging, but we’re always willing at WF Towers. Lovely uncommercial whisky – but I certainly do hope they sell many cases. Comments: a bit brutal, but it’s über-honest. As we drank it.
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Speyside 18 yo 1998/2016 (53.4%, The Whisky Mercenary for BYOB-C, bourbon) Four stars
Some funny wee club bottling, always enjoy these, when no one will do them anymore whisky will be dead. Colour: white wine. Nose: there is some rubber, then some grass, white truffles, gas, new wellies, wort, pot ale, leaven… Well this is rough! With water: it’s improving. Fresh brioche, croissant dough, old magazines, soot… Mouth (neat): much, much, much, much, much (that’ll do, S.) better than on the nose. Hops, IPA, pink grapefruit, tangerines… With water: and bingo! Oranges, pink bananas, mangos… Finish: medium, rather on mangos and oranges, as well as the sweets made thereof. Nice combo. Comments: water is our friend. Very funny baby that needs water more than pastis, ouzo and raki do.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Speyside Region 8 yo (50%, Chinese Zodiac, sherry cask, 14 bottles, +/-2017)

Speyside Region 8 yo (50%, Chinese Zodiac, sherry cask, 14 bottles, +/-2017) Three stars
That’s right, fourteen bottles altogether. Colour: gold. Nose: hold on, this is angular and sharp. Uhu glue, varnish, cider apples, spent lees, bread dough, porridge, wort, baker’s yeast, weissen bier… With water: it’sss porridge. Mouth (neat): funny and unlikely. Who would blend grapefruit and pineapple juices with Champagne yeast (the strongest) and formula milk? With water: no water. Finish: medium, very yeasty. Comments: a fun bottling that’s all about whisky geekdom, excesses, and loyalty. I say fiscally-optimised booze multinationals should listen to these wee guys. Sure I’m part of those ‘guys’.
SGP:451 - 82 points.

Speyside Region 19 yo 1988/2017 (52.3%, Maltbarn, 177 bottles)

Speyside Region 19 yo 1988/2017 (52.3%, Maltbarn, 177 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: on many oils. Sunflower, grape pips, rapeseed… This is very unusual indeed, and what’s even more unusual is the way it would go on with some hay, farmyard in august, raw pizza dough, manzanilla… With water: wonderful maltiness, tobacco, fino sherry… Well always watch what these Maltbarn guys are selecting, they would never fail you. Just the opposite of their Fußballmannschaft (oh, no, please S., do show a bit of compassion!)  Mouth (neat): excellent, if a bit too punchy for this sissy of a taster. Feels like 62.3% rather than just 52.3! Actually, this is all about proper sundried sultanas. With water: careful with water, please add just one or two drops, as it’s not quite a swimmer. Otherwise, lovely malty/barley-y style. Finish: rather long, nice, a tad rough. A bit waxy, a notch ale-y. Comments: all good.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Perhaps a last one now… And perhaps a glorious old one…

Glen Fraser 1956 (49.9, Gordon & MacPhail for Strathnairn Whisky ltd., +/-1992)

Glen Fraser 1956 (49.9, Gordon & MacPhail for Strathnairn Whisky ltd., +/-1992) Four stars
No one knows, or will tell you what this is. Some say it’s a single malt, some others would swear it’s a blended one… As for Strathnairn Whisky, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was one of G&M’s sub-companies. Not too sure and after all, that is totally unimportant. Colour: amber. Nose: amazing, this is XIXth century Cognac. Really. Old prune liqueurs, sloe, damsons, sultanas, then marrow bouillon, very old Sauternes, old books, light soy sauce, balm, cigars, sandalwood, incense, fir honey… That’s what’s missing from many contemporary whiskies, it’s called complexity. Mouth: bwah bwah bwah, this is incredibly resinous, sappy, and indeed pine-y. You’re almost drinking turpentine, actually. Too much for me, let’s try to add a wee drop of water… With water: that works, albeit partially. Black tea, walnut stain (not that I’ve ever sipped any), coffee… Finish: medium, and pretty dry. Eating cocoa. We’ve tried some very old Glenfarclas that were a bit like this. Comments: a slightly difficult bottle, I would say, although quality’s extremely high, in true G&M fashion. Some colleagues would call it ‘a challenging dram’.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

(Thank you Aaron!)

 

July 17, 2018


Whiskyfun

A bunch of Balmenach

Balmenach! Long time no Balmenach on little WF, you’re right… So, let’s try to compose a fine little line-up, and first find an aperitif!

Balmenach-Glenlivet 14 yo (57.5%, Sestante, +/-1985)

Balmenach-Glenlivet 14 yo (57.5%, Sestante, +/-1985) Five stars
Ouch ouch ouch, I had thought this baby was bottled at 40% vol. Tell me about an aperitif! Now you may have seen from its label that it was ‘Extra Special’, so… Colour: amber. Nose: sweet Vishnu, this one’s got guts! Huge chocolate, then some wonderful notes of amontillado, a drop of old balsamico, a jar of marmalade, and wee notes of custard that come unexpected. With water: exceptional development on old Pu-erh tea, tobacco, dried dates, marzipan, dried apricots, quinces… Mouth (neat): it’s a very powerful, rich, potent, almost thick dram. Loads of chocolate and fudge, more marmalade, some strong bitter honey, roasted nuts, thick sweet wines, and walnut wine. With water: loves water and consequently, swims brilliantly. Creamy honeys, jams, dried fruits, very wet artisan gingerbread… Really perfect. Finish: long, clean, rich, jammy, without a single flaw. Comments: right, this is a well-known dram, and I remember many have said it was the best Balmenach ever. Not sure I’d disagree, but let’s see…
SGP:562 - 92 points.

Balmenach 8 yo 2008/2017 (46%, Murray McDavid, Benchmark, bourbon hogshead, cask #150012, 319 bottles)

Balmenach 8 yo 2008/2017 (46%, Murray McDavid, Benchmark, bourbon hogshead, cask #150012, 319 bottles) Three stars
Hold on, this was first matured in bourbon wood, then finished in bourbon wood! Perhaps a tad masturbatory, no? Seriously, they did the finishing in a first fill Koval cask. Why, I don’t know (but we love Koval!) … Colour: white wine. Nose: full-flown porridge-y start, then cut apples and pears, with some baguette from this morning and a good deal of leaven. A lot of raw malt, some dough, and a little sour ale. Mouth: sweet, young, pleasant, and kind of craft. I mean, they managed to bottle something ‘new craft’ from an old Scottish distillery. How smart is that? Very malty, with touches of bananas and gooseberries, cherries, croissants, shortbread, oatcakes… Finish: medium and spicier, and that maybe be that Koval wood. Allspice, ginger, sawdust… Comments: it really feels like some kind of UK-USA vatting. Shan’t we call this fine composition ‘a little brexity’?
SGP:362 - 82 points.

Balmenach 24 yo 1988/2013 (55.5%, Signatory Vintage for The Nectar, Belgium, hogshead, cask #2802, 257 bottles)

Balmenach 24 yo 1988/2013 (55.5%, Signatory Vintage for The Nectar, Belgium, hogshead, cask #2802, 257 bottles) Four stars
I know, five years, I may well be the slowest taster in the west. Apologies to my dearest Belgian friends… Colour: straw. Nose: this is funny, we’re finding similar porridge-y notes, then sawn oak, vanilla, bread… Really, we’re at a baker’s, around 7am. Love bread, love bakers, love 7am, love 7am at the bakers’. With water: custard and fresh baguette. Well a baguette has to be fresh, if it’s not fresh it’s not a baguette anymore. Mouth (neat): interesting. This isn’t your average malt whisky, it’s got a spicy breadiness that’s rather unusual, and I’m sure that came from the wood. Baguette, wholegrain bread, then rather citron and oranges, grapefruits, Corsican lemon pie (try it once you’re there!)… With water: careful with water. Just like many whiskies that met active oak, they wouldn’t take too much water or they would get tannic. Finish: medium, rather leafier. Nice honeyed aftertaste, with a touch of coffee. Comments: very fine, and funny to follow. Just like the Belgian footebol team.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Balmenach 13 yo 2004/2018 (53.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Balmenach 13 yo 2004/2018 (53.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles) Three stars
I was sure Cadenhead would have had something to say… Colour: white wine. Nose: all-right, orange blossom and fresh bread, but naturally. That’s all, folks, but this simplistic combination just reminds me of that weekend in Marrakech when we had met the… Ach excuse me, but isn’t whisky even better when it triggers good memories? Madeleine de Proust, anyone? With water: not quite, water doesn’t make it any more expressive. Not that we needed that… Mouth (neat): lemon, vanilla, bread. Then coffee, cake, salt. I guess that does it, doesn’t it. Come on, that’s awesome! With water: no, no changes, no water needed. On the contrary… Finish: long, rather narrow, malty and oaky. A tad too oaky, in fact, with too many green tannins. IMHO. Comments: it all started very well, but just like a Netflix series, it tended to become… say a little redundant. Not enough depth, perhaps (I'm afraid I'm going to have to cancel my subscription – to bloody Netflix.)
SGP:361 - 80 points.

A last one, perhaps…

Balmenach-Glenlivet 14 yo (43%, Sestante, decanter, +/-1985)

Balmenach-Glenlivet 14 yo (43%, Sestante, decanter, +/-1985) Four stars
Proof that I’m totally and utterly useless, this is the one we should have had as the aperitif, rather than the 57.5% thing. I tell you, u-se-less (yet lucid). Colour: light gold. Nose: now you have to take into account the fact that this was reduced using circa 1985 water (whaaaat?) We’re finding nice touches of leaves, grasses, fern, pine needles… Seriously, this is very dry and extremely herbal. Plus, decanters are far from being the best vessels ever to keep whiskies on the long run (I am sorry, Macallan! Excuse me, THE Macallan!) Mouth: yes it’s good, even if a tad too grassy and herbal. Indeed, decanters tend to let whiskies (or any other spirits) lose their fruitiness faster, that’s what I’ve noticed over all those years… So never buy decanters over bottles, however recent they are, or you’ll be the fall guy. Decanters stink. Always. Crystal? Who cares, apart from cleaning ladies? Finish: medium long, and miraculously pine-y and honeyed. Comments: joking aside, it’s an extremely fine dram, it’s just that should Mr Mainardi have put this one into a regular bottle instead of a silly decanter, I’m sure the end result would have been vastly superior. In the meantime…
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Next Balmenach session… In a little while!

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

 

July 16, 2018


Whiskyfun

New Daftmill and proper ancestor

We’re in the summery Lowlands today, with one of the new ones and a proper sparring partner from the good old days…

Daftmill 2006/2018 ‘Summer Batch Release’ (46%, OB, 1665 bottles)

Daftmill 2006/2018 ‘Summer Batch Release’ (46%, OB, 1665 bottles) Four stars and a half
That despicable young Scottish lad (and yet good friend) named Angus M. managed to try the first official Daftmill before I even saw a bottle. Thank Vishnu, that was for Whiskyfun, but I’ve always wished I could retaliate, and this may be a good occasion, as I believe this is the second official Daftmill ever. There! Colour: straw. Nose: ah. What I find really nice is the fact that they seem to have captured the ‘style of the Lowlands’, with this blend of lemon liqueur and soft cereals, followed with white peaches and a sweet vanillaness that screams ‘good American oak’, then rather preserved pineapples and cantaloupes. It is really complex, pretty unusual, and I particularly enjoy this further development on citrons and, above anything else, ripe mirabelles. After ten minutes, it’s pure mirabelle! Bravo! Mouth: right, this is pretty impressive, a tad spicier now but rather all on all yellow fruits you could think of, either candied, preserved, or as liqueurs. Do you really need a list? Okay, mirabelles first – again – then peaches, melons, bananas, pineapples, apricots… Oh that is enough. Finish: long, a tad syrupy in a good way. On banana and apple juice, perhaps? Some coconut in the aftertaste, that’s the oak. Comments: first, it’s very good, and second, it’s unlike any other active malt whisky, which is an achievement in itself. Although, should I choose a Lowlander that would be closest, I would have said Rosebank. Too bad I haven’t got the Daftmill 2005 under my sleeves, so no contrast and compare. Pff, a whisky blogger, they said…
SGP:551 - 88 points.

So no other Daftmill, but let’s see if we can find a Rosebank of similar age, even if Rosebank was triple-distilled, whereas Daftmill isn’t. Is it?

Rosebank 11 yo 1989/2000 (43%, Land of Scotland, cask #786)

Rosebank 11 yo 1989/2000 (43%, Lands of Scotland, cask #786) Four stars
This is most probably a Signatory Vintage bottling. Colour: white wine. Nose: well, there are similarities indeed, but this is fruitier and ‘sweeter’ at first, more bonbony, more on a large pack of marshmallows, and then more on pine needles, fern, fresh asparagus, and simply cut grass. I cannot not think of some sharp and grassy sauvignon blanc from somewhere in the Loire valley. Grapefruits and pineapple. Mouth: oh lovely, and oh-so close to the Daftmill, that is almost mindboggling. Incredible! White peaches, mirabelles, whiter pineapples, greener pears, sauvignon blanc… No, really, how’s that possible? We could have tried to joke and pretend that they had built a secret pipeline between Falkirk and Cupar, but Daftmill wasn’t even… well, in the pipe when Rosebank was closed for good (or bad) in 1993. Finish: medium, a tad thinner now – this is why it’ll now lose two or three points. A little too much bubblegum in the finish, I would have preferred more lemons. Comments: much better than some sister casks that we could try a very long time ago. Just a tad narrower than the Daftmill, I would have added.
SGP:541 - 86 points.
 

July 15, 2018


Whiskyfun

A new bag of random rum

Again, as it says...

San Christóbal de Nicaragua 18 yo 1999/2017 (56.5%, Kintra, Nicaragua, cask #48, 244 bottles)

San Christóbal de Nicaragua 18 yo 1999/2017 (56.5%, Kintra, Nicaragua, cask #48, 244 bottles) Two stars and a half
Nicaragua’s one of the most controversial rum countries these days, because of some kidney disease that’s afflicting – and, apparently, killing - thousands of sugarcane workers. But that sort of thing also happens with the cheap clothes we buy, our bananas, our pineapples, perhaps some of our wines, our computers and smartphones… I know, not very rejoicing… Colour: gold. Nose: pure clean rounder rum, rather fresh, and pretty much all on natural banana, apple skins, fresh cane juice, a wee touch of earth… With water: full white chocolate mode, also oranges. Mouth (neat): rather bright, on orange juice and light caramel. It’s a rather light spirit but it’s quite good, I think. With water: fructose, icing sugar, Easter eggs… Finish: rather short and quite sugary. Comments: certainly good but not my preferred style at all, but remember, I’m a malt lover and will always taste any rums from that very particular POV.
SGP:540 - 78 points.

The Travelling Man from Belize 9 yo 2007/2017 (66.4%, Kintra, Belize, cask #44, 265 bottles)

The Travelling Man from Belize 9 yo 2007/2017 (66.4%, Kintra, Belize, cask #44, 265 bottles) Three stars
If this is not Travellers, I eat my beret. Colour: full gold. Nose: total nail polish remover at first, then orange cake and cane juice. Extremely pungent, let’s be careful… With water: more depth, grasses and herbs, banana skins, orange blossom, rotting oranges, earth, new teak wood… Mouth (neat): huge, varnishy, bonbony, bourbony, oaky… Some tobacco for sure, some green tannins, but then again it is extremely strong and almost undrinkable when unreduced. So with water: really a different league after then Nicaraguan. More brutal and more complex at the same time, more cane-y for sure, and much closer to some high-kerosene bourbon as well. Finish: long, rather on vanilla fudge and butterscotch. Comments: rum from Kentucky! Well not quite, but you get the idea.
SGP:530 - 82 points.

Let’s check another Travellers…

Travellers 2007/2017 (66.1%, L’Esprit, Belize, cask #BB36, 267 bottles)

Travellers 2007/2017 (66.1%, L’Esprit, Belize, cask #BB36, 267 bottles) Three stars
Colour: full gold. Nose: very similar, but this one’s also got more warm sawdust, bark, and a curious soapiness that may well go away once water’s been added. Hand cream. With water: coconut, banana skin, tealeaves, oranges. Mouth (neat): we’re really extremely close to the Kintra now. Same feeling of high-power bourbon, flavoured with oranges. Varnish, cellulose... With water: same bourbon. I mean, same rum. Cane juice, oranges, popcorn, varnish, bourbon. Finish: same, rather long, fudge-y. Hints of pineapple and coconut again in the aftertaste. Comments: probably from the same parcel of casks.
SGP:530 - 82 points.

Let’s seek more deepness in Guyana…

Diamond 18 yo 1998/2017 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Guyana, 300 bottles)

Diamond 18 yo 1998/2017 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Guyana, 300 bottles) Three stars
Colour: gold. Nose: quite different from your ‘average’ Diamond, that is to say rather more on marzipan, putty, plasticine and spice cakes, and less ‘phenolic’. Perhaps that’s the vintage, as we’re rather used to younger Diamonds. Mouth: indeed it is a rather unusual one, it rather feels ‘blended’ and, in that sense, El-Dorado-y. Just with much less added sugar, no worries. Sugarcane, a little plasticine, maraschino, very sweet curry sauce, pineapple sweets… Finish: medium, on pretty much similar flavours. A very wee touch of glue. Comments: fine, but not one of those sometimes explosive Diamonds.
SGP:551 - 80 points.

Enmore 29 yo 1988/2018 (48%, Compagnie des Indes, Guyana, cask #GEN2, 237 bottles)

Enmore 29 yo 1988/2018 (48%, Compagnie des Indes, Guyana, cask #GEN2, 237 bottles) Five stars
An almost thirty years old Enmore distilled in the wooden Versailles still, that’s quite a coup by the Compagnie des Indes. Remember that when Versailles closed down, the old still was moved to Enmore. Colour: light gold. Nose: it’s quite unusual, rather starting with some fennel and aniseed, liquorice allsorts, old molasses, copper, then we have wee whiffs of cologne and Cadum, some purer cane juice, and then preserved pineapples and a very discreet smoky combo (tar, rubber, burning cigarettes). After ten minutes, Scandinavian salted liquorice is running the show. Mouth: this is much brinier. Oyster juice, celeriac, pickled capers, olives, tar and liquorice, old Ardbeg (yup), then many bruised bananas flavoured with a drop of umami sauce. A feeling of burnt molasses in the background, and perhaps the day’s coffee at the office, around 6pm. It is, I have to say, very complex. Finish: rather long, on a mixture that would have involved sweet liquorice, marzipan, and cranberries. Salty/tarry aftertaste. Comments: this old one seemed a little fragile at times, but it has always come out okay. And indeed, it’s very complex… Rather loved it! Other old Enmores have been a little less exciting, I think, but perhaps weren’t they ‘Versailles’.
SGP:463 - 90 points.

Look, since we were having some Kintras, I’ve got this one too… For the road!

Foursquare 14 yo 2002/2016 (57.7%, KIntra, Barbados, 240 bottles)

Foursquare 14 yo 2002/2016 (57.7%, KIntra, Barbados, 240 bottles) Five stars
I’ve heard good things… And I’ve already tried some magnificent 2002s! Colour: white wine. Nose: this is Foursquare at its esteriest, if I may. Ridden with olives green and black, rotting bananas and damsons, carbonic things and tarry matters, and just seaweed. Brilliant. With water: gets mineral, always a brilliant development. Crushed chalk and fresh clay, plus a good few drops of the sharpest sauvignon blanc ever. Mouth (neat): indeed, some Jamaican Foursquare, plus a rather sharpish citrusy side, rather more towards blood oranges than straight lemons. It is an exceptional distillate. With water: fantastic, you could pour this over big fat oysters (once you’ve run out of Lagavulin). Finish: long, salty, olive-y, coastal, perfect. Some very strong liquorice that wrecks your tongue in the aftertaste. Comments: the very definition of a malternative rum – in my little book. Well, maybe not if your favourite malt is Glenkinchie, eh. Love this bone-dry style that, as they say in Mexico, takes no prisoners. Greatly done, Kintra!
SGP:464 - 91 points.

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


July 2018 - part 1 <--- July 2018 - part 2 ---> August 2018 - part 1


 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Balmenach-Glenlivet 14 yo (57.5%, Sestante, +/-1985)

Bowmore 21 yo 1997/2018 (56.2%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #12539, 317 bottles)

Bowmore 19 yo 1998/2018 (48.8%, The Whisky Agency for The Whisky Exchange, butt)

Chivas Regal 12 yo (86° US proof, OB, USA, blend, +/-1953)

Haig & Haig (OB, blend, USA, late 19th century)

The Antiquary ‘Old Scotch Whisky’ (No ABV, OB, J&W Hardie, blend, driven cork, +/-1920s)

White Horse (43%, OB, spring cap, blend, Soffiantino, Italy, +/-1960)

Irish Whiskey 24 yo 1993/2018 (48.2%, The Whisky Agency for The Whisky Exchange, 209 bottles)

Irish Malt 26 yo 1992/2018 ‘Summer Dram’ (48.3%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon barrel, 172 bottles)

Enmore 29 yo 1988/2018 (48%, Compagnie des Indes, Guyana, cask #GEN2, 237 bottles)

Foursquare 14 yo 2002/2016 (57.7%, KIntra, Barbados, 240 bottles)

Hampden 16 yo 2001/2018 (60.7%, Hunter Laing for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, 265 bottles)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
@