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Hi, you're in the Archives, July 2019 - Part 2

       

July 2019 - part 1 <--- July 2019 - part 2 ---> Current entries

 

 

July 30, 2019


Whiskyfun

A wee bag of Tobermory

We’re all talking about the variant ‘Ledaig’ these days, but remember, Ledaig’s Springbank is Tobermory. Well, I know what I’m trying to say. Let’s kick this off with the usual aperitif…

Tobermory 10 yo (46.3%, OB, +/- 2018)

Tobermory 10 yo (46.3%, OB, +/- 2018) Three stars
The old Tobermory 10s from the 1990s or early 2000 were terrible whiskies, I think it’s for them that we’ve first used the descriptor ‘baby vomit’, they were feinty as hell. But the distillers had improved the recipe by 2010! Colour: white wine. Nose: well, it is a wee tad feinty, yeasty, porridge-y and even yogurty at first sniffing, but there’s more behind that, while that first impression tends to dissolve into a more mineral and waxy combination, while some touches of lavender and cranberry sweets are flying around. It remains a singular whisky, I have to say, but that cannot be bad in these days of wood-driven homogenisation of Scotch malt whisky. Mouth: not an easy dram for sure, and not sure these notes of damp cardboard were mandatory, but I cannot dislike these waxes, lemons, muesli, and sourdough mixed with liquorice, soot and ashes. I remember an earlier version (circa 2012) had been much fruitier and brighter. Finish: rather long and rather on orange drops mixed with peppers and bitterish grasses. Comments: singular indeed and likeable, but not the easiest malt on earth. The easiest on Mull at this point, that’s for sure!
SGP:362 - 80 points.

Tobermory 21 yo 1996/2017 (50.4%, The First Editions, refill hogshead, cask #14407)

Tobermory 21 yo 1996/2017 (50.4%, The First Editions, refill hogshead, cask #14407) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s fruitier and, in a way, younger, more on gooseberries, for example, while the background’s more mineral, more on chalk and plaster. There are wonderful notes of melon emerging, that always works, reminds me of old Bruichladdich – which is not too far away as the crow flies. With water: there, the trademark porridge. With a good nip! Mouth (neat): wonderful, melon and lemon liqueurs without too much sugar. Sure this little feintiness remains there in the background, but we’re more towards ale, if not pot ale. Chalk and green pepper. With water: loves water. More wonderful melons, peaches, lemons, on a chalky canvas. So to speak. Finish: medium, fresh, fruity, chalky. Clean aftertaste, no yeastiness. Comments: these batches were really good? Some were even fantastic, but those were usually Ledaigs in disguise. You know, Tobermory’s Longrows.
SGP:552 - 85 points.

Tobermory 12 yo 2006/2018 (65.5%, Signatory Vintage, Local Dealers Selection, first fill sherry butt, cask #900154, 621 bottles)

Tobermory 12 yo 2006/2018 (65.5%, Signatory Vintage, Local Dealers Selection, first fill sherry butt, cask #900154, 621 bottles) Four stars
Well, any ‘local dealers’ who would select a young Tobermory at 65.5% should be jailed unceremoniously, if you ask me (PS, all are Germans!) Unless… Colour: full gold. Nose: butterscotch, Scotch tape, and nail polish. And this b****y works! With water: only butterscotch, and Jaffa cakes, and cappuccino, and macaroons, and marzipan, and fruitcake. Gone are the varnish and the glue. Mouth (neat): a tad too strong for me (not kiddin’) but it seems to have some nice coconut that’s not dull and some kind of fruit cocktail that’s not vulgar. And varnish that’s… varnish. But let’s not push our luck… With water: simple pleasures all along. A lighter kind of fruitcake, like a German/Alsatian ‘Stolle’. Finish: medium, cake-y, with notes of pears this time. Stewed pears, and butterscotch, naturally. Comments: as good as it gets at 12, with rather less chalky/yeasty notes than in other ‘mories.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Tobermory 23 yo 1994/2017 (57.9%, Sansibar, PX sherry cask, 242 bottles)

Tobermory 23 yo 1994/2017 (57.9%, Sansibar, PX sherry cask, 242 bottles) Four stars
What, clansmen on whisky labels? We haven’t seen that since… the Rubettes, at least! Colour: gold. Nose: ah, the best of both worlds, quite possibly. Chalk and waxes, plus fruitcakes and butterscotch. That was the heavily expurgated version, this nose is complex and just wonderful. With water: a wee muddy side, this is well Tobermory. Old balsamico, wine cellar, then rather parsley and sorrel soup… Mouth (neat): perhaps a touch of PX at first (boo) but all remains fine, with no particular grape-iness, only a wee touch of soap. Which often comes with higher strengths. With water: very good, cake-y and herbal at the same time. Savoury, stuff made by some mad vegan cook from Baden-Württemberg. I know this from experience ;-). Finish: pretty long, a tad hesitating. With Tobermory, a wee bit of soap is never too far away. Burnt Guinness or something in the aftertaste. Comments: oh well, same score again, these whiskies are all worth it, even if never quite ‘perfect’. But perfection can be boring, can it not?
SGP:451 - 85 points.

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

 

July 29, 2019


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Glen Esk and… ?

Indeed we’ve got some Glen Esk, but we have only got one, while we never taste ‘singletons’ like that, out of the blue. Remember, in WF’s little book of good tasting manners, comparison is paramount. So let’s first try this Glen Esk, and then try to find a fitting sparring partner. Something as rare, if possible…

Glen Esk 32 yo 1984/2017 (49.2%, Cask & Thistle, SCSM China, refill butt, cask #9207, 390 bottles)

Glen Esk 32 yo 1984/2017 (49.2%, Cask & Thistle, SCSM China, refill butt, cask #9207, 390 bottles) Four stars and a half
So Glen Esk in Montrose a.k.a. Glenesk a.k.a. Hillside, a rather obscure distillery closed around 1983-1985 with all the others, while it never quite had the cachet of Port Ellen or Brora. Or even of Coleburn, St. Magdalene or Convalmore. Like some current rum distilleries, at some point it was having both pot stills and columns, and could make its own ‘single blend’, just like its neighbour Lochside, or Ben Nevis on the other side of Scotchland. Colour: straw. Nose: I remember some very grassy and austere Glen Esks, well this is pretty grassy indeed at first nosing, getting then very chalky, with also a large bag of apple peel and a jar of raw unsweetened apple juice. Not quite an old whisky to nose, while I wouldn’t say the age feels. Also a fistful of grist. Mouth: not a whisky to nose, but certainly a whisky to savour, full of muesli and wee bits of crystallised fruits, lemon, beeswax, chalk again, and a touch of tangerine jam, before quite a lot of plasticine does show up. It’s rather subtle, and that’s the 30 years in some pretty ‘moderate’ wood. Finish: medium, pretty much on some kind of lemony wax. Very little sherry, if any. Comments: close to the ones that Coopers Choice/ Vintage Malt were having. I suppose they’re behind this wonderful bottle for our friends in China.
SGP:461 - 88 points.

All right, we need a proper sparring partner, one that could ‘climb over’ that elusive, albeit wonderful Glen Esk… Perhaps another ‘closed’ one, and one that was bottled way before that little Glen Esk was even distilled?

Glen Albyn 10 yo (56.9%, John McPherson & Sons, OB for Whiskiteca, Edoardo Giaccone, 75cl, +/-1970)

Glen Albyn 10 yo (56.9%, John McPherson & Sons, OB for Whiskiteca, Edoardo Giaccone, 75cl, +/-1970) Five stars
Right, one of the famous three Inverness distilleries (Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor, Millburn), and a bottling for one of the true heroes of whiskydom. I mean, Giaccone was someone who really did something special, not just someone who’s paid to do a production or commercial job, just like anyone in any field, whether in beans, in spare parts, in egg noodles or in whisky… It’s also to be noted that this was distilled when Glen Albyn and Glen Mhor were still belonging to Charles Mackinlay (remember Shackleton), so before the distillery was sold to the D.C.L. (who closed it for good ten years later). Colour: full gold. Nose: Glen Mhor could be real nice, but frankly, Albyn and Millburn were often extra-dry and totally austere, close to concrete juice. Not that I’m against singular whisky (which would take the biscuit), but a minimum amount of sexiness can do no harm to a tipple. So concrete, grass, crushed cement, mustard, old walnuts, old furniture, old magazines… And not even the tiniest fruit in the creation. With water: marzipan and mushrooms! Mouth (neat): would you smoke fruits? Like, oranges? Pears? Apples? This is some kind of special chutney, half-fermented, smoked, spicy… While the background is more austere again, all on chalks and a lot of paraffin. Eating Play-doh and drinking the most resinous retsina wine. With water: ah, truly wonderful now, despite these notes of bitter waxes (Play-doh). A whole lot of waxy citrons. Finish: long, a little bitterer again. Grass soup and fresh walnuts. Comments: I’m not as madly partial to this style as a few friends who’d kill their dearest pets for a bottle (a figure of speech!) but I do appreciate the singularities mucho. No one makes this style anymore.
SGP:262 - 90 points.

(Thanks KC and Angus)

 

July 28, 2019


Whiskyfun

17th Anniversary Malternatives:
French brandies!

Didn’t we say we’d be back with some brandies? We’ll probably manage to find good old ones but first, a proper aperitif that may, or may not set the tone.

Vallein Tercinier ‘Napoléon’ (40%, OB, +/-2018)

Vallein Tercinier ‘Napoléon’ (40%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
A younger old Cognac by our friends the Domaine des Forges in Chermignac. It wouldn’t say from which region of Cognac it stems, though. In theory, Napoléons sit between the VSOPs and the XOs as far as ages are concerned. Colour: gold. Nose: crazy tinned peaches in abundance! Peach purée, the one you’d use to make a proper Bellini. Maybe a stray raisin underneath, says Angus, and then more peaches, stewed in honey sauce this time. Mouth: quite creamy, with some soft wood spices that would suggest some older age, then perhaps rather apricot jam this time, although the peaches haven’t given up, some golden syrup, a little caramel… And quite some black tea from the wood. A bit as if the 40% weren’t quite enough to sustain the oakiness. Finish: a little short, with touches of brown bread (says Angus). Gingerbread. Comments: a very fine wee drop, just let down by the low ABV. That’s the fate of many a younger Cognac. Very good nonetheless, if not on par with the stunning older vintage bottlings from VT’s.
SGP:640 – 83 points (Angus 83).

Borderies 12 yo (50.8%, Jean Grosperrin, 2019)

Borderies 12 yo (50.8%, Jean Grosperrin, 2019) Four stars
From a small estate lead by two brothers who retired since they distilled this one. Colour: gold. Nose: Angus says this one is more towards that bready style, with syrups, tangerines and lychees. I find it somewhat exotic, with touches of sweeter curry. Banana bread with sultanas, elderflower wine (adds Angus), vanilla sauce, custard made with a nice sauternes… It’s quite complex! Angus also finds notes of muscat, he’s right. With water: balsa wood, pastis (Angus), beeswax, waxed canvas, a little bit of lemon peel or at least something approaching citrus… Mouth (neat): really compact, full bodied, very direct, straight away, with sweet pastries and a little more custard than on the nose. Plum jam and plum wine. With water: more dried fruits and crystallised fruits than in the VT. Honey cake, some pine resin… Finish: medium and a little peppery (oak), and rather more on gingerbread and Jamaica cake (says Angus, who swears he isn’t talking about space cakes). Triple-sec in the aftertaste, curaçao... Comments: robust and elegant at the same time. Top notch bang for your buck Cognac.
SGP:641 - 86 points (Angus 86).

Petite Champagne 1992/2018 (46.7%, Jean Grosperrin, 311 litres)

Petite Champagne 1992/2018 (46.7%, Jean Grosperrin, 311 litres) Four stars
Almost purely ugni blanc, from an estate in Salles-de-Barbezieux. Colour: gold. Nose: pretty grassier than the Borderies, and more on almonds, brioche, damson jam, marzipan. Angus finds wee notes of limoncello. A globally drier style, with more flower seeds as well, cooking oils… After three minutes, more flowers would come out. Dandelions? Mouth: sweeter than expected at first (rose water, Turkish delights), then some menthol tobacco, orange jam, and a slightly sour and grassy vinosity. Surprisingly punchy on the palate. Angus finds a little pomegranate as well. Finish: medium and rather oakier and spicier. You feel the tannins a bit more in the finish. Comments: the Borderies was rather brighter, this one was generally more punchy and spicy.
SGP:651 - 85 points (Angus 86).

Borderies Lot N°79 (53.8%, Jean Grosperrin, 105 litres, 2019)

Borderies Lot N°79 (53.8%, Jean Grosperrin, 105 litres, 2019) Four stars and a half
Naturally, we have no proof that this is a 1979. Colour: deep gold. Nose: the peaches, nectarines and apricots are back. In that order, adds Angus. There’s also a little bit of jasmine tea, preserved pineapples, pot-pourri (Angus’s favourite but he doesn’t quite know how to say it), also eucalyptus and camphor, as well as ideas of chartreuse and Verveine du Velay (verbena). Angus also gets pollen. Really lovely and super elegant, with fruits and spices in perfect balance. With water: quince de vie matured in oak, cigar boxes, and wee touches of moss and mushrooms in the woods. Petrichor and high-end hand cream. Mouth (neat): big, bold, very spicy, with a wood that’s very present but not cloying, not over the top, says Angus. Notes of fruit-flavoured pipe tobacco, black tea and liquorice, menthol and liquorice, as well as earthy pu-ehr tea. With water: kirsch and flambéed bananas, brown sugar, and orange peel in chocolate. Not a throwaway. Finish: rather long, while the Turkish delights are back, Angus finds Sauternes and honey cake, I would add rose water and oriental pastries, corne de gazelle pastry… Comments: Angus finds a superb freshness despite the presence of the oak, the kind of balance you rarely find in whiskies of the same age.
SGP:661 – 89 points (Angus 89).

Grande Champagne Lot N°67 (47.5%, Jean Grosperrin, 149 litres, 2018)

Grande Champagne Lot N°67 (47.5%, Jean Grosperrin, 149 litres, 2018) Four stars
Colour: amber gold. Nose: this is more subtle again, it’s almost whispering after the boisterous 79, with tobacco leaves, fresh marzipan, a touch of wild strawberry (Angus), then rather nectarines. Angus finds sponge cake, I do find Jaffa cakes, as well as notes of nougat and cassata. That was rather self-explanatory, wasn’t it. Mouth: kind of evident, perhaps just a tad simple, with syrups, raisins, sultanas, crystalised tangerine… It’s relatively sweet, very good for sure, but a notch too focused on those raisiny notes. Aren’t we getting demanding? But isn’t it essential to be demanding when tasting spirits? Finish: medium or even a little short, with some arrack and caraway. A mentholated aftertaste. Comments: all very fine, but perhaps not as thrilling as we would have hoped. Still, it’s very lovely and pretty fresh old Cognac. Plus, wasn’t 1967 Jimi Hendrix’s best year?
SGP:640 – 86 points (Angus 87).

Bisquit ‘Hors d’Âge’ (no ABV statement, Grande Fine Champagne, +/-1960)

Bisquit ‘Hors d’Âge’ (no ABV statement, Grande Fine Champagne, +/-1960) Four stars and a half
A very famous brand, of which quite some very old bottles are still to be found, sometimes under its variant ‘Bisquit-Dubouché’. Bottled late 1950s or early 1960s, so probably distilled before the war. Colour: amber mahogany, sounds like the name of a James Bond girl form the Roger Moore era, doesn’t it.

Nose: pure figs and prunes, with a lot of tobacco as well. Majestic and not needing a lot of literature (do you call that literature, S.?) What’s sure is that it’s extremely deep and concentrated. Some parts remind me of some ultra-old oloroso, while others remind Angus of a 1968 Glendronach, with lots of damp earth and dark chocolate. Mouth: there is more caramel and chocolate, more black Corinthian raisins, some sweet prune juice (which would be illegal after Brexit, says Angus) and touches of molasses honey. Drops of coffee liqueur as well. Only the back of the background gathered a few metallic and greasy notes that would only minorly detract from an otherwise pretty perfect old style Cognac. Finish: good length, on bitter chocolate, espresso, and a few bits of raisins and dried mint. There is a little soap in the aftertaste, but that would be Christian Dior rather than Fairy Liquid. Comments: it’s very sensitive old spirit. To water, to the shape of your glass, to light… To everything, really.
SGP:551 - 88 points (Angus 88).

Mucha used to work for Bisquit >

Would you mind if we sneaked some Armagnac into this Cognacqy session? Thank you…

Domaine Aux Ducs 1933/1985 (45%, Darroze, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine Aux Ducs 1933/1985 (45%, Darroze, Bas-Armagnac) Five stars
This baby was bottled when Angus was four months old (and had already bought quite a few Ardbegs). Colour: amber gold. Nose: it’s a thrill to detect the main differences between Cognac and Armagnac again, especially in these high-end bottlings. In this very case, popular consensus is correct, the Armagnac is more rustic, meatier, with more savoury notes as well as more varnish (which may come from the wood in this case, I agree). Angus is finding really a lot of meat stock, ramen, earth and hessian, while I’m detecting piles of chocolate, coffee and black tobacco, Gauloise-style. Rustic indeed, but wonderful. Mouth: a salute to the sun, full of herbs, sauces, citrus peel, celeriac, turnips… Angus is finding parsnip roasted in honey, which sure is some very British tasting notes. It’s really superb, Angus even finds it a little leathery and gamy. Not sure any Armagnac house ever dared doing an oloroso finish (how lousy would that be?) but we would say it would taste like this.

Oh, forgot to mention walnuts. Finish: long, bone-dry, extremely oloroso-y, on bags of green walnuts and many bitter herbs and the extracts made thereof. Lovage, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and Angus’s favourite drink, Maggi (always neat!)… You see. Comments: splendidly herbal and savoury. Angus doesn’t seem to find his words and just adds that it’s very good. He would add that it’s the epitome of the very best rustic style Armagnacs.
SGP:372 – 91 points (Angus 91).

Armagnac
'The geography of the region amazingly evokes the shape of a gigantic vine leaf'
(ad circa 1960) >

When you taste these spirits, it’s dangerous because it’s so easy to get lost in enjoyment and pleasure, since they’re naturally so easy drinking. Unlike whisky that can often be more intellectual and challenging. Especially eight old Glen Mhor in a row! But back to Cognac…

Grande Champagne Lot N°25 (42.1%, Jean Grosperrin, 204 litres, 2019)

Grande Champagne Lot N°25 (42.1%, Jean Grosperrin, 204 litres, 2019) Five stars
We’re afraid we haven’t got any picture of the bottle yet, so we’ll put one of Boris Johnson. Of course not, we wouldn’t want to make you throw up on your keyboard or tablet. De nada. (UPDATE we finally got a picture after having written this!) Colour: reddish copper amber (whatever). Nose: ooh, exotic fruits in abundance. Papayas, guavas, dried mangos… The freshness is absolutely flabbergasting, and you would still have these classic Cognac notes of raisins and tobacco and stewed peaches. To think that in theory, this was distilled during the Années Folles! Mouth: Angus is finding strawberry liqueur and liquid tobacco, which I find appropriate. I’m finding Turkish fig wine, walnut oil (says Angus), bitter pure coco chocolate, those Gauloises again, a touch of blood orange, even a bit of kumquat (says Angus, who’s got good friends in the Flatlands)… Now it tends to become rather more medicinal and herbal, bitterer,  with bitter herbal extracts, pre-war Jägermeister (we imagine), black balsam from Riga, Latvia and walnut wine and dried mushrooms. Morels. That’s all the tannins but we constantly remain within the threshold of civilised acceptability. Finish: it’s just amazing that it did not go drying or tea-ish. You still have these residual exotic fruits and even a little espresso and natural tar. We are defeated. Sadly not like Boris, according to the latest news. Comments: humbling and evocative ancient Cognac. We do not know how much time it spent in wood vs. glass, but if it had spent its whole life in Quercus, which is entirely possible, we do believe in miracles again. Hallelujah. Angus says we could make great Jägerbombs out of this. I’ll take his words for it.
SGP:462 – 92 points (Angus 92).

Why not some French brandy of uncertain origins as a finale for this little celebratory session?

Very Superior Liqueur Brandy ‘Sixty Years Old’ (no ABV, Justerini & Brooks, +/-1930s)

Very Superior Liqueur Brandy ‘Sixty Years Old’ (no ABV, Justerini & Brooks, +/-1930s) Two stars and a half
We do not know where this little brandy comes from (possibly Bordeaux), but the label says ‘established upwards of 180 years’, while J&B was founded in 1749. So this was probably bottled around north of 1930, which means, since it is 60 years old, that it was distilled around 1870. Ish. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: vegetable soup, leather, and chocolate. Dunnage as well, says Angus, Maggi, artichoke, Cointreau or some sort of orange liqueur, gazpacho, tomato leaves, a few figs as well, cocoa powder, a kind of milk chocolate (Belgian, perhaps?), turnips, French beans, mushroom soup, or just piles of French ingredients (says Angus)… With a nose like this, the palate could be… anything. Total mystery. Mouth: sweet and a little flabby. Coconut and crème brulée – feels like American oak -, chicory, fennel seeds, bay leaves and bailey (that Irish cream  a.k.a. Irish scream that kills)… Walnut and coffee cake… Seriously, it’s simply moving to drink something that your grandmother would have called out of date, but on the palate, this antiquated little baby doesn’t quite taste like Cognac or Armagnac. But whoever composed this slightly liqueury little brandy did it well, while keeping the English taste in mind. They were not totally shy with the sugar, apparently. Finish: very short, still rother coffeeish, with some Demerara sugar notes. The coconuts are back in  the aftertaste. Comments: it’s hard to believe that it’s 60 years old. A pleasant (and moving) little concoction from times gone by, not too far from some other very old ‘foreign’ brandies, such as brandy de Jerez, or ex-USSR ‘Konjaks’.
SGP:630 – 76 points (Angus 80).

Nine’s a good number, is it not? Not that we wouldn’t have liked to taste 17 malternatives to celebrate the aftermath of this lousy website’s 17th Anniversary, but you see, we’re trying to control our alcohol intake. Not that we’re trying that hard… And now, eleven rums… No!

We solemnly declare that the celebrations of WF’s 17th Anniversary are officially closed.

(Many, many thanks Angus for some of these wonderful old brandies!)

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

 

July 27, 2019


Whiskyfun

Seventeenth Birthday Springbank

Indeed, Whiskyfun is 17 right today, which suggests that it’ll be of legal drinking age next year! (upon French law). Hurray! What’s more, Angus, who just turned double last week, will join us for this very short, but highly celebratory little session. We’ve chosen Springbank because we’re a bit lazy; we had planned to do half a dozen pre-war Cognacs, but it’s quite warm in Alsace today, at least by Angus’s very Nordic standards. As for Springbank, and as I may have written before, it is the grand cru of Scotland for now, is it not? But first, a little apéritif, chosen randomly...

Springbank 24 yo 1993/2018 (59.3%, Kingsbury, Or Sileis, hogshead, cask #Z382, 92 bottles)

Springbank 24 yo 1993/2018 (59.3%, Kingsbury, Or Sileis, hogshead, cask #Z382, 92 bottles) Three stars and a half
A low-outturn decanter for Taiwan, not something we’ve never seen before. Colour: anniversary gold. Nose: oh nice! Mineral, coastal, chalky and very honeyed, not something we’ve never encountered with these vintages. Some kind of crazy cocktail made with brine, mead, and dates. Then we have the expected sheep wool, hessian, and this wee earthy/rooty thing, between beet and gentian. Angus is finding more herbal cough medicine. Angus would add: ‘sometimes when you roast root vegetables with a teaspoon of honey, you get this’. We ought to believe him, given his long career as a chef (but in the UK). With water: doesn’t change much, except that water brings a little soap out of the nose, which would come with some metallic touches that weren’t unseen in old Springbanks (we’ll check that later). Mouth (neat): again, a wee bit of floral soap at first, not too much but enough to be discombobulating (Angus speaking, as you may have guessed). Just enough to be distracting. Soapwort? Otherwise still quite earthy, a little tarry, and with good crystallised fruits. With water: more salt and some kind of grassy, punchy olive oil note. The soap disappears a little bit, leave room for some waxier notes. Finish: medium, salty, a little bouillony, still quite earthy and rooty. Comments: not the easiest, nor the most well-defined of all Springbanks, but those were these vintages, as we’ve seen many times before. Still an excellent drop, it just needs water to eradicate that wee soapiness.
SGP:462 – 85 points (Angus 84).

Let’s get serious, you don’t turn 17 every day!

Springbank 12 yo (Proof, Cadenhead, +/-1965)

Springbank 12 yo (Proof, Cadenhead, +/-1965) Five stars
A super rare bottle and comfortably early 1950s distillate. It was bottled by Cadenhead before they became part of the same company, and we’ve tried the 80°proof version a while back and just loved it (WF 94). That one was a bottle that Angus had opened for his 30th birthday, why don’t these guys have their birthdays several times per year? (he did, says Angus). Naturally, ‘proof’ means 100 proof, which means from 56.9 to 57.1% vol. depending on the bottlers’ moods at time of bottling. Only an empirical observation, right. Colour: straw. Nose: I find it extremely pure, firmly mineral (pebble and chalk), very petroly, and full of rapeseed oil (Angus’s favourite) and salty butter. It’s also pretty floral, with gorse flower, perhaps elderberry, before it gets tarter, with UK gooseberries (ha) and lime skin. Perhaps also a very clean, raw cereal character, adds Angus. With water: explodes, bringing out the waxiness. All kinds of polishes, while Angus finds lemon barley water. Just superb. After a few minutes, more soups, such as high-end miso from a former 3-star Japanese restaurant (aren’t they all giving up these days?)…

Mouth (neat): one that stuns you and makes you speechless (sadly, it’s too expensive for your mother in law). It’s so pure and so mineral, with salt, wax, camphor, lemons, ink, paraffin, flint smoke, crushed seashells (Angus), even some slight autolytic yeast notes, umami… Angus says it’s some kind of Frankenstein whisky made with bone dry Riesling – which is a very positive comment, mind you. I for one find it pretty Old-Clynelishy, as it’s got this pure wax and minerals combination. Pure class, that’s all, and not a splinter of wood to be seen anyway. With water: last time a drink left me this speechless, it was with Pichon-Baron 1990. Angus would agree if he wasn’t left speechless as well. Finish: endless, salty, mineral, close to perfection, should perfection exist in this world. Comments: if only Scotland could produce 20 million barrels of this kind! Per year, let’s not exaggerate. Angus says it’s the kind of profile were there’s almost no point trying to describe the flavours (although that didn't stop us trying), because it’s so much about the power, the texture, and the length. Humbling whisky. To me, it brings to mind Giaccone’s Clynelish 12 yo 100 proof rotation 1969.
SGP:463 – 96 points (Angus 96).

Springbank 12 yo (57.1%, OB, for the UK, +/-1980)

Springbank 12 yo (57.1%, OB, for the UK, +/-1980) Five stars
The fine sleuths (that’s us) are out trying to find similarities and differences with the very famous version for Samaroli. The neck labels are the same, but the main label is a bit different here (big S is above the name Springbank this time, and not below), while the back labels are totally different as there’s just a small one stating that it is ‘Matured in sherry wood’. But once again, we’re splitting hairs, with old Springbanks you would just never know. And now, on to the whisky! Colour: darkish amber. Nose: it’s not as easy as with the other 12, which was so pure that the feelings were pretty immediate, while in this very case, there are two forces that, while mingling very well, are working in tandem and may confuse you at times. What I’m trying to say is that this one is less immediate. Angus says that however, the fruit is quite magnificent, with lots of dark fruits, while I’m rather noticing honey-coated pastries, almost Turkish style.

But it keeps changing, and in that sense it’s very close to the Samaroli, which tended to evolve for hours and hours, which makes any tasting session a little complicated to organise (unless you are already divorced). Angus finds dried mushrooms, umami yet again, and orange peel. It keeps throwing up these quite specific tertiary aromas, making it extremely complex. I for one am thrilled with the dried fruits that are running freely here. Prunes, dates, which gives it armagnacqy edge of some sort. Anyway, a true movie malt that tells you many stories. That’s enough Serge, says Angus, who’s found his voice again. With water: H2O brings out the pure Springbankness, and tones down the sherry. So more minerals again, roots, petrol, waxes, camphor, a bit of soot, a peppery quality, our beloved ultra-umami-y miso. Angus, who’s got ten litres in Edinburgh (the address is…) is mentioning Maggi. Asparagus soup. Mouth (neat): it’s rather tight, a closed fist says Angus, but one can feel that it’s the calm before the storm. It’s robust and even rustic and narrow, but you feel these little flashes and sparkles of flavour darting out. I find a lot of fudge and some maple syrup. Fruit scented pipe tobacco. With water: of course. Angus says it’s very resinous and much more broad and complex, and fat in the mouth. Bitter herbal extracts, old chartreuse that’s had its sugar taken away, some kind of herbal, pine-y sauce made with meat stocks, plus this wee glutamate-y side. Angus is finding fennel seeds, and I agree. The problem is that you could go on listing flavours forever. We have to finish this. Finish: extremely long, herbal, bitter, salty, tarry nutty, peppery… Well it’s just got everything. Comments: Springbank’s greatest hits. A shame that we haven’t got an opened Samaroli on the side. I would add that it needs water. H20 multiplies the complexity threefold.
SGP:662 – 93 points without water, 95 with water. (Angus agrees).

Happy birthday, Whiskyfun! Other than that, all is fine in the best of worlds at WF Towers. We might even have a wee malternative anniversary session tomorrow, stay tuned…

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

 

July 26, 2019


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Auchentoshan

We’ve always said that Auchentoshan was THE malt whisky for summertime, but it’s true that the Lowlander is not what it used to be anymore, I do not know why. Maybe because of some excessive use of wood(s)? It used to lie within the top ten malts twenty years ago, as far as I can remember. Killed by quercus and wine, perhaps… But there, the aperitif…

Auchentoshan ‘Three Wood’ (43%, OB, +/-2018)

Auchentoshan ‘Three Wood’ (43%, OB, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
Perhaps the expression that started the decline – we’re talking reputation among the whisky lovers, not sales figures (if it sells, they are right). I mean, who needs three woods, when all fine wines and spirits use only one (if any)? I last tried the Three Wood in 2004 and had thought it as average (WF 78). Maybe that’s why I needed 15 years to get back to it… Colour: very golden orange (E150). Nose: not an unpleasant whisky, I even find it nicely singular, with whiffs of pot-pourri, rose petals and Parma ham, then rose liqueur and suet. In the background, fudge and toffee. Intriguing… Mouth: starts nicely, on praline, vanilla fudge and white chocolate, but it’s soon to become too tea-ish, drying, with this feeling of eating raw cocoa powder. Finish: this is where it gets awry. Jumbled herbal teas, all rather over-infused. Comments: not that bad, it started pretty well, but the end was pretty miserable. Hold on, some b****y Game Of Thrones whisky, yet again?
SGP:451 - 79 points (good progress though, ha-ha).

All right, since we were talking wine…

Auchentoshan 19 yo 1999/2018 (52.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 258 bottles)

Auchentoshan 19 yo 1999/2018 (52.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 258 bottles) Four stars
From one bourbon cask and one Lafite cask. Wait, did they well write ‘Lafite’ this time? Without two Fs and without two Ts? I say hurray, fantastic, bingo, they got it right! Kudos Campbeltown, this is really game-changing; what’s more, remember they needed years to go from ‘Barollo’ to ‘Barolo’, so I would say they’re learning faster and faster. Colour: gold (so no Lafite red and last time I checked, Lafite didn’t do white). Nose: I couldn’t help seeing the back label, on which they’re mentioning cola. They are extremely right, they managed to produce a better Coca-Cola. Hint, never, ever read Cadenhead’s back labels when tasting one of their whiskies, because they’re dangerously accurate – while other bottlers seem to be hiring copywriters on acid who shall never even have one cl. In their tumblers. With water: a tad more on barley, on malt, on regular cake. Mouth (neat): no, no back label before us this time. So rather blood oranges, Jaffa cakes, Cointreau, and a touch of lemon tarte – with meringue, s’il-vous-plaît. With water: back to barley and cake again, so to speak, but I’m feeling a touch of wine, rather some ripe chardonnay… Which just cannot be in the case of Lafite. I mean, Lafite-Rothschild. Finish: medium, creamy rounded, more on vanilla. After all, there was a bourbon cask too. Comments: looks like the humble and cheap bourbon barrel tamed the posh and expensive Lafite cask. I these days of looming revolution (looming eternally, that is), I say that’ll teach them.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

We may owe the owners, don’t you think? But it’s going to be an older bottling…

Auchentoshan 21 yo 1975/1997 (55.4%, OB)

Auchentoshan 21 yo 1975/1997 (55.4%, OB) Four stars and a half
This baby from the distillery’s most luminous era. It is a large vatting of around twenty casks, which I have never tried yet, which goes to show how lousy a whisky blogger I am. I mean, there were thousands of bottles out there! Colour: amber. Nose: hang on, olive oil and white chocolate? Can this be? Fresh yet burnt brioche and croissant are less unseen, while earl grey tea and raisins are even less so. All in all, an old Auchentoshan that, just like many malt whiskies from those periods, cannot not make you think of proper ‘estate’ Cognac. With water: even more olive oil, which I find brilliant, if a little surprising. Some flowers too, it is a beautiful nose. Dandelions, broom, or gorse for example, yellow ones. Mouth (neat): it is amazing how ‘Cognacqy’ it is. Stewed peaches, chocolate, raisins, caramel, molasses (I agree this rather suggests rum), wax polish, heather honey… With water: a wonderful creamy development, perhaps a tad oaky at times, but we can take it. It’s just lacking a little more depth, which means that it’s a tad superficial, yet not flat (well done, S.) Praline, chocolate sauce, caramel… Finish: rather long, rather drier. Marmalade in the aftertaste, which isn’t unseen either. Cinnamon. And, sadly, a wee touch f soapy paraffin. Loses the 90-mark here. Comments: a tad oak-driven, but Auchentoshan is triple-distilled, so you cannot quite make a spirit-driven Auchentoshan, can you? Unless your goal is to make marshmallow eau-de-vie. An excellent 1975 nonetheless. I think I’ll have to put my hands on a 1966 again…
SGP:551 - 89 points.

While we’re at it, and about the Three Wood, some good folks seem to notice that entry-level whiskies are getting better these days. Not so, in my opinion, it’s just that the older whiskies have got much more expensive, whilst people tend to rather enjoy what they can afford. In other words, the dearer the old ones, the ‘better’ the youngsters. A funny theory, isn’t it! Only on whiskyfun-dot-com (didn’t someone warn you?)

(Merci les Burlet bros.)

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

 

July 24, 2019


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today young Talisker OB vs IB

Looks like we’ll never reach the end of those Game Of Thrones bottlings. So it’s good that they haven’t done a Breaking Bad Glen Ord, or a Casa Del Papel Cragganmore, or a Seinfeld Glendullan. To think that there’s a new James Bond in the pipes! Will Macallan have it again? (with a bottle that doesn’t even exist yet again?)

Talisker ‘Select Reserve Game of Thrones House Grey Joy’ (45.8%, OB, 2019)

Talisker ‘Select Reserve Game of Thrones House Grey Joy’ (45.8%, OB, 2019) Three stars and a half
Not the most flattering, nor the most ‘grand cru’ bottling of Talisker ever. Grey Joy? Is that related to those Fifty Shades of Grey? My oh my… But it’s NAS, so in an under-category anyway, stuff for Heathrow, for the unlearned in a hurry, you see… But don't get me wrong, it could still be excellent. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s nice, I have to say. Easy yet clearly Taliskery, that is to say pretty sooty rather than fully peaty, then with some menthol, vanilla, orange squash, and light pepper. Perhaps a little ‘lab’, but really pleasant. Yes, Serge speaking. Mouth: no, really, it’s nice whisky, simple for sure, even a tad binary and relatively emotionless, but this feeling of ‘sweet peat’ really works. Not Talisker to taste, clearly Talisker to drink (drinking being tasting without paying attention, as you know). Finish: medium, easy, well-constructed. Sadly, there’s some coconut towards the aftertaste, never a very good sign in my book, but that’s fine here. Comments: another one that’s clearly not as bad as some marketing-wary people have said. It’s just a little, yep, emotionless.
SGP:454 - 84 points.

Talisker 9 yo 2008/2018 (54.5%, First Editions, sherry butt, cask #HL15639, 342 bottles)

Talisker 9 yo 2008/2018 (54.5%, First Editions, sherry butt, cask #HL15639, 342 bottles) Four stars
Looks like the two branches of the Laing family, when they were still together, had bought quite a few new fillings of Talisker. Certainly not the stupidest move ever if you ask me, hope they keep some for when they get 20 or 30. I mean, the whiskies. Colour: straw, so not first fill (h.u.r.r.a.y.) Nose: it’s rounder than the GOT, waxier than the GOT, and more on various vegetal oils, colza, sunflower… It’s more coastal too, but I wouldn’t say it’s any more complex this far. With water: well, pears and pineapples come out. That’s a little too early, but the rest is pretty perfect. Metal, pepper, seaweed… Mouth (neat): more a blade, narrower, cleaner, and purer than the GOT. Pepper, smoke, soot, lemons, bitter grasses, a touch of barley syrup. I like this clarity and this purity, but it is not on a different planet. With water: rounder than the GOT this time. They keep intersecting, as they say at the French Ministry of Transport. Finish: rather long, saltier than the GOT, but rounder as well, again. Some salty vegetable soup in the aftertaste. Comments: there’s almost some Ardmoreness to this pretty schizophrenic little Talisker. Probably the sherry butt, even if it was refill. I would say Talisker needs to remain totally clean when it aims for greatness, and avoid any form of sweetness, whether from reworked oak or from wine. My humble tuppence.
SGP:454 - 85 points.

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

 

July 23, 2019


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Glengoyne NAS CS

Because we have to catch up, as we haven’t gone beyond batch #4 yet. But these can be brutal, let’s first have a wee aperitif if you don’t mind. You’re right, so a trio rather than a duo.

Glengoyne ‘Cuartillo’ (40%, OB, +/-2018)

Glengoyne ‘Cuartillo’ (40%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
Not comprendo very mucho what this means. See, we can do Spanish too. NAS, so most certainly very young. Colour: white wine. Some oloroso involved, but the colour doesn’t quite match – not that we would complain. Nose: well, perhaps is it NAS, but this nose is all fine, nutty, brioche-y, malty, it’s almost a cake straight from grandma’s oven. Toasted oak, toasted bread, honey-roasted peanuts… It does not nose its colour (I know, no sense at all). Mouth: well, this is average in the best sense of that word. Malt, marmalade, toasted cake, roasted nuts, honey, maple syrup, vanilla. It's what the people want. Finish: a little short, and a little disjointed. The lack of oomph and body starts to feel, but it would never become cardboardy. A touch of meat sauce in the aftertaste – that’s good. Comments: frankly, no one should complain indeed, even if an age statement would have been better. Because remember, no whisky over 50€ without an age statement!
SGP:541 - 84 points.

And so the bombs…

Glengoyne 'Cask Strength Batch 005' (59.1%%, OB, 2017)

Glengoyne 'Cask Strength Batch 005' (59.1%%, OB, 2017) Three stars and a half
In my book batch 4 was very okay (WF 83) while batch 2 was much more to my liking (WF 87), and batch 1 even better (WF 89). Colour: gold. Nose: it is the Cuartillo, only with more power (and ethanol). Really. With water: you won’t tame it, or you’ll need quite a few hours and do progressive reduction, two degrees by two degrees. Malt and cake. Mouth (neat): powerful, with a little varnish, kirsch, and once again, a lot of toasted bread and roasted nuts. Needs water, clearly. With water: ah yes, now we’re talking. Raw pure malt, barley, cornflakes, marmalade, maple syrup, butterscotch, and ripe plums dipped into liquid praline. Simple but effective. Finish: rather long, rather brighter, which is cool. Not a lot of oak spices, hurray! A little caraway though, as well as some Jaffa cakes and tarte tatin. Comments: I’m wondering if the little Cuartillo wasn’t a little more complex.
SGP:541 - 84 points.

… Which reminds me of owners Ian Macleod’s stunningly superlative ‘As We Get Its’, but anyway, why am I telling you this, let’s move on…

Glengoyne 'Cask Strength Batch 007' (58.9%%, OB, 2019)

Glengoyne 'Cask Strength Batch 007' (58.9%%, OB, 2019) Three stars and a half
There, the new one! And much lighter at that… (S., was that supposed to be humour?). Colour: gold. Identical. Nose: almost identical, just a tad more brutal. Which I’m finding strange since the strength is so much lower (oh come on now). With water: ah no, it’s a little more on honeys, nectar, pollen and sweet Moroccan bread. The one you would dip into hamlou, a brilliant Berber mixture of argan oil, Atlas honey, and crushed fresh almonds. Beats even Fortnum & Mason’s vegan haggis! Mouth (neat): they’re really very close, but this one’s a tad both grassier and more on citrus. I’ll leave it at that because with these very similar high strength whiskies, you could down one bottle of each and not yet manage to come to clear conclusions. A dangerous sport, I tell you. With water: I like it a lot; Not that it’s any more subtle, it’s even quite basic and in-your-face, but it’s got a perfect narrowness, if you see what I mean. Don’t bother if you don’t. Finish: rather long, with more varnish and, this time, pears. That’s the youth and I do not like this too much. Comments: lost no less than three points at the finish, but it’s still a very fine NAS. Not obligatorily an oxymoron, mind you; Well, not always.
SGP:541 - 83 points.

Oh well a duo or a trio… people never change, let’s make it a quartet!

Glengoyne 21 yo 1996/2017 (52.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, Bourbon Hogshead and Château Lafitte Hogshead, 510 bottles)

Glengoyne 21 yo 1996/2017 (52.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, Bourbon Hogshead and Château Lafitte Hogshead, 510 bottles) Two stars
Good, Campbeltown, it is not the first time I’m writing this. If this was well THE Premier Grand Cru Classé Lafite by the Rothschilds of Lafite (obviously), it is Lafite with one T. If it’s got two Ts, it’s just a very average château of very average quality, which is not very Cadenhead, is it. Having said that, if it’s well a hogshead I would ask you, who would re-cooper some proper Lafite barriques? On an empty stomach? (Update, I've just seen that they've changed that with newer bottlings, kudos!) Colour: gold. Nose: funny that we would be this close to the OBs. Same ballpark, same aromas, no red wine, no clear notes of French oak, rather some grassier spices. Green pepper? Cabernet indeed? Otherwise, we remain close, just even less ‘polished’. With water: not too sure, really. I find this very un-Cadenhead. It’s very grassy and it hasn’t got any distillery character. A very grassy Glen Spey is perfect, a very grassy Glengoyne is not. I think. Mouth (neat): once again, we’re oh-so close to the OBs. Only grassier and spicier. With water: okay, okay, this is relatively nicer, but grass soup and cranberry juice, no thanks. Finish: pretty long. Comments: when have I last found a whisky by W.M. Cadenhead that I scored this low? Around 2004, or 15 B.B. ? (that’s 15 Before Boris – or Before Brexit).
SGP:361 - 74 points.

I think this is a good stopping point. ‘Night.

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

 

July 22, 2019


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today sherry-finished Glenmorangie undercover vs. official

Phew! The independent one will make for the aperitif, since it is both lighter and younger.

Westport 17 yo 1997/2014 (48%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry butts, 2nd fill PX finish, casks #3353-3357, 1110 bottles)

Westport 17 yo 1997/2014 (48%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry butts, 2nd fill PX finish, casks #3353-3357, 1110 bottles) Four stars
Westport is teaspooned Glenmorangie (they’re using their other malt, Ardbeg – perhaps not), thus a blended malt. On paper. Funny to use some second-fill wood to do a finishing, but in the case of PX, I say that’s probably a brainwave. How many fine malts have and are being slaughtered with freshly seasoned PX finishes? Colour: gold. Nose: Glenmo’s often said to be fresh and indeed, this is fresh, with a PX that’s not too dominant (read not too clumsy). Notes of Weetabix, retsina, cherry stems, tobacco, and some slightly burnt caramel. Hints of Worcester sauce, perhaps, as well as a little balsamico. Mouth: it is good, it is well made, balance was found, and this overall feeling of crunching a Twix bar works very well. Caramel, biscuit, chocolate, raisins, fudge, a little cardamom and a little coriander, then cloves. Good body, 48% vol. always works very well if you ask me. Finish: medium, spicier as always, and really very malty. Crunching an Ovaltine bar rather than some Twix. Comments: do you know how to tell the difference between an amateur writer and a pro? The latter would never quote any brand names.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Glenmorangie 27 yo 1991/2019 (55.9%, OB, Rare Cask for 10th Anniversary Loza Dzentelmenow, Poland, oloroso cask finish, 230 bottles)

Glenmorangie 27 yo 1991/2019 (55.9%, OB, Rare Cask for 10th Anniversary Loza Dzentelmenow, Poland, oloroso cask finish, 230 bottles) Five stars
There are very few private bottlings of Glenmorangie, the latest I could taste having been a 2003 for the Prince of Monaco. It was very good (WF 88). Now I wanted to add something, not sure why the distillers are advertising this baby as a finish, as the booklet clearly states that it was rather 15 years bourbon plus 12 years oloroso. That’s what I call a double-maturation (or some old-school re-racking), which I find pretty nobler than just a flash finishing. Don’t we agree? Colour: gold. Nose: starts with some toffee and a drop of coffee liqueur plus one of walnut wine, but some subtle touches of pine resin and eucalyptus are soon to rise to your nostrils, while those would come with a little pipe tobacco, a hint of coconut, and some fresh mushrooms. All that works in perfect synch, as was The Duke Ellington Orchestra. With water: no huge changes, but those weren’t needed. A tad earthier and more on dough, perhaps, which is usual. Mouth (neat): extremely good. So good that I may keep a few cls for Angus (which should tell you how good I find it). Basically, it’s liquid panettone, and perhaps kougelhopf. Raisins, roasted almonds, candied orange zest and angelica, toffee, butterscotch, figs and dates (those always come together, have you noticed?), and notes of brioche with a little orange blossom water inside. A sophisticated charmer, as they say in marketing brochures. With water: spices are up, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger… Finish: long, spicy. Marmalade and cloves, a duo that always works very well provided the cloves aren’t too loud. The aftertaste is a tad more peppery. Comments: almost 91, only the finish was a tad less entrancing. Oak spices, the most worrisome flavours to gentle. Anyway, a very great Glenmorangie that will most certainly benefit from twenty-seven extra-years of aging in glass. We can tell from the official 1963, maybe the first real finish ever. Remember that one?
SGP:561 - 90 points.

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

 

More about the 100-scale
(oh, no, not again!)

We've both written or spoken several times about the 100-point scale in the past, but every so often there are fresh criticisms arising from various corners of the Whiskysphere. Often people yelling that it doesn't make sense, for various reasons - often because they believe the lower end of the scale is never used which is wrong. Indeed, newcomers often invent their own scales, which is of course totally fine, variety is the spice of whisky! But it's important to remember a few key things about the 100 point scale. (Maybe we'll get this on T-shirts as well...)

Hand

First and foremost, the scale is about communication. A score on its own can of course mean little, but in context of a proper tasting note, it is a powerful means of expressing an impression of a drink.

Hand

The 100-scale is a standard.

Hand

It’s been used by many major writers or tasters for many years, including Robert Parker for wine or Michael Jackson for beer and whisky. Many books, guides and magazines use it too.

Hand

It’s a percentage, and that’s why there are 100 levels. A 100-score simply answers this question: ‘How far are we, in your opinion, from a theoretical perfect drink?’ 85 points actually means 85%.

Hand

A score is an opinion indeed (hopefully informed), expressed in a numerical form, nothing more.

Hand

With numerical scores you can calculate means, averages, standard deviations, etc.

Hand

The 100-scale addresses any kinds of drinks. Most malt whiskies, for example, score between 70 and 95, but the cheaper blends would rather cruise along the 40-60 lines, while some fake molasses-based whiskies would rather score around 10 or 20.

Hand

By no means a whisky commentator would feel obliged to distribute his/her scores evenly on the scale. How stupid would that be? You’d need to source all the junk drinks in the world, and thank God everyone’s rather trying to taste the better stuff.

Hand

50, not 75 or 80, is the main pivoting point indeed, and should you take volumes produced in the whole world into consideration, I’m sure it could even be lower, possibly around 40. It’s just that mind you, the main distillers such as Diageo, Pernod, Bacardi, Campari etc. know their job and tend to systematically produce ‘over 70’ (a gut feeling).

Hand

A 100 scale is much easier to use, and much less judgemental than a shorter scale.

Hand

A 100 scale is very convenient when you compare very similar drinks. Go score seven 25 yo ex-bourbon Laphroaigs while using an A B C scale. A A A A A A A, how useful. Vive la nuance!

Peace!
-Serge & Angus

 

 

July 21, 2019


Whiskyfun

Another wee bag of rums

Five of them as usual and as they come…

Dzama 6 yo (45%, OB, Madagascar, +/-2017)

Dzama 6 yo (45%, OB, Madagascar, +/-2017)
Madagascar’s rather on the French side as far as rum styles are concerned, but do not expect any pure agricole. I remember a very fair 1998 (WF 78) while the 15 yo was a little flabby for me (WF 74). Let’s check this younger one… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s rather full of jammy tropical fruits, especially bananas and pineapples, while notes of coffee liqueur and corn syrup do their stuff behind the scene. Seemingly quite syrupy, but you never know, we’ve seen many diverging palates. Which would be good news here… Mouth: it’s been sweetened for sure, as there’s even more coffee liqueur (Tia Maria) here, pineapple liqueur, fruit sauces, molasses honey… All that makes it a little too cloying, unless you pour it over a mountain of ice cubes. Well, I suppose. Finish: long but really too sugary, unpleasant, sticky… Comments: not the kind of rum that we enjoy at WF Towers, but we’ve had worse stuff in our tulip glasses. Don’t ever tell your dentist you’re sipping these kinds of sugar bombs!… A shame, the older ones are rather drier.
SGP:730 – 65 points.

Lost Spirits 'Navy Style Rum' (57%, OB, USA, +/-2018)

Lost Spirits 'Navy Style Rum' (57%, OB, USA, +/-2018) Four stars
We’ve tried this before, but I believe this is a newer batch. The one we tried before had been bottled at some homicidal 68% vol. (WF 85!) but this one is lighter. So to speak… As for how they make this, I’ve heard they’re using a decommissioned nuclear reactor and the engine from a Tesla prototype. Or something like that… It’s also been ‘matured’ in some sherry-seasoned American oak. Colour: copper. Nose: works, that’s the thing. Lapsang souchong and new sneakers, natural tar liqueur, ham cooked in molasses, eucalyptus and camphor, new Macintosh (complete with planned 3 year obsolescence), stewed overripe fruits, old rancio and other retro wines… Well, this works a treat, I have to say. With water: gets drier, which is perfect. Some mad home-blended pipe tobacco. Mouth (neat): a tad more ‘all-directions’ than on the nose, and certainly very singular. Some fruit wood, salty fruit sauce (something Chinese), tar and chlorophyll, deep-fried bacon, black raisins, glutamate, soy sauce… Unlikely, but works. With water: the wood comes out, but we remain below the limits, although I wouldn’t say the word ‘limits’ is very appropriate here. Crazy people. Finish: long, and relatively fresh, beyond the tea-ish and molassy side. Prunes, liquorice and mint, butterscotch. Comments: got to love all this madness. I’ll try to visit them one day.
SGP:563 - 85 points.

Perhaps some other young rocket fue… I mean, rums?

Port Mourant 8 yo (61.4%, Kinghaven, Guyana, 2019)

Port Mourant 8 yo (61.4%, Kinghaven, Guyana, 2019) Four stars and a half
This one was distilled at Diamond in PM’s famous wooden still and has been finished in Swedish oak, like the rest of the series. The fine bottler is a Swede, you understand. Colour: white wine. Nose: petroly, gherkiny, and brine-y, that’s what we’ll say. It is the most ‘Jamaican’ side of those Demerara rums. Carbon paper, olives, paraffin, overripe bananas, new plastic, gherkins, thuja wood (is that the Swedish oak?)… With water: I’d have said a slightly lighter Worthy Park, and that may have been that funny Swedish oak. Brand new LP, leatherette, ashtray, leather polish… Mouth (neat): I think I get that oak, it seems that it’s pretty resinous, and kind of lemony as well. A little medicinal, I would say, and reminiscent of those concoctions they use in saunas. Other than that, more olives, smoke, gherkins, paraffin, and plasticine, then rather salty liquorice. With water: not as easy this time, you really have to have the water right or a dry cardboardy tannicity will come out. Otherwise, it’s pure smoky lime juice. Finish: long, very brine-y. Just the aftertaste is a tad bitter and greenly oaky. A tad. Comments: worked a treat, but how ‘world’ is that? Rum from Guyana in Swedish oak? What’s the carbon footprint?
SGP:364 - 89 points.

While we’re there, let’s stay there. I mean, at Diamond…

Diamond 9 yo 2008/2017 (62.2%, The Rum Cask)

Diamond 9 yo 2008/2017 (62.2%, The Rum Cask) Four stars and a half
The mark was MPM, so Port Mourant again. They sell a 50cl bottles of this for 39€, while others would sell the same juice for 150€. Such is the rum world these days… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it’s really cool to try this after the Kinghaven, because that further stresses the impact of that Swedish oak. In fact, this one’s more coastal, perhaps a little narrower, but also cleaner, fresher, and with just as many electronics, new sneakers, and other new computers. Perfect touches of lime, and a drop of soapier tequila. With water: oh, aniseed-flavoured marzipan! That comes unexpected! A pastissy Port Mourant? Mouth (neat): burnt fruits, plastics, paraffin, Play-doh, tar, olives, salt, lime… Another blade-y, integrally spirit-driven Port Mourant. With water: salt and olives up, that’s cool. Imagine some young new-style Caol Ila. Finish: long, very olive-y. More olives than in Caol Ila, but less oysters ;-). Comments: so pristine, so good!
SGP:355 - 88 points.

More Diamond or change country? More Diamond!

Diamond 15 yo 2003/2018 (58.1%, Valinch & Mallet, Guyana, cask #19-1501R, 193 bottles)

Diamond 15 yo 2003/2018 (58.1%, Valinch & Mallet, Guyana, cask #19-1501R, 193 bottles) Four stars
Ex-column, so not pot still and not Port Mourant. But maybe not Diamond’s multi-column still, perhaps rather Uitvlugt? Colour: full amber. Nose: it’s amazing to which extent some of these ex-column Demeraras can be pretty close to some agricoles, while they’re molasses-based and not vesou/cane juice-based. Praline, heated-up maple syrup, caramel, butterscotch, banana cake, chocolate… Very low-ester rum, but it’s very nice, silky, well-polished… With water: rum-filled chocolate. I think the Camille Bloch company used to make that in Switzerland, and it was very good. Proper chocolate, proper rum. Mouth (neat): gin and oranges at first, then cinchona, tonics and bitters, chocolate, caramel, cornflakes, and marmalade. Notes of jasmine tea, that’s funny. With water: creamy, cane-y, very easy. The easiest side of Demerara rum – not talking about the sugared-up El Dorados, naturally. Finish: medium, and pretty honeyed. A good alternative to chestnut honey when the season isn’t good. Comments: what’s sure is that just the word ‘Diamond’ won’t tell you much. They’re making many extremely different rums over there in Georgetown, from this softer style to the funkier Port Mourants we had before. Once again, vive la difference!
SGP:551 - 85 points.

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

 

July 20, 2019


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Old Islays From Signatory
It was often said that Islay malts didn’t age as gracefully as many mainland counterparts. There might be some evidence for that, although how much of it was due to the lopsided influence of Gordon & MacPhail’s cask choices and the ubiquity of their older Speyside malts is up for debate. (Not to mention the comparatively numerous other older mainland malts compared to the relatively thin number of Islay examples.)

 

Indeed, G&M themselves launched a totally spellbinding 1968 50yo Caol Ila only last year. What’s certain is that in recent years there’s been more than enough aged examples of Port Ellen, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila to justify looking afresh at these distillates in their dotage. Now, I’ll admit, the jury remains out on the likes of Laphroaig, Lagavulin and in particular Ardbeg, which always seemed to start limping past the 30+ year mark. And of course this is all a little academic as the vast majority of these whiskies have now been irreversibly priced into the lonesome murk of deep pockets. Anyway, two pair of Bunna and Bowmore today, from the warehouses of Signatory.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1978/2018 (47.8%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #2578, refill sherry butt, 484 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1978/2018 (47.8%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #2578, refill sherry butt, 484 bottles)
Signatory have littered this series with absolute gems, it’s getting a little embarrassing to be honest. Colour: brownish amber. Nose: a wealth of fresh breads, damp earth and various tobaccos, unlit cigars, sultanas and black coffee. Goes on with some crushed walnuts, banana bread, black olives and figs in syrup. The sherry leans elegantly to the dry side and on the whole feels nicely nervous and taut. Mouth: great delivery, richly bready, lots of fresh brown bread, fruit scones, strawberry jam, black pepper, beef stock, dark soy sauce, walnut oil, herbal extracts and spiced plum chutney. Very punchy and surprisingly fresh. There’s a big, earthy, resinous sherry but no overtly drying tannins or sense of over-ageing. Gets increasingly salty, towards tobacco, black olives, salted liquorice and rancio. Finish: long and earthy. Full of lightly smoked meats, metal polish, mineral oil, hessian and more walnuts and soot in the aftertaste. Comments: A lovely, well-sherried Bunna. Still very much alive and kicking at 40 years old. I loved the salinity and freshness of it, and the fact that it never felt tired.
SGP: 471 - 90 points.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 50 yo 1968/2019 (41.8%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, #12397, refill sherry butt, 323 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 50 yo 1968/2019 (41.8%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, #12397, refill sherry butt, 323 bottles)
Colour: gold/copper. Nose: there’s a fleeting nibble of wood and furniture polish but the dominant initial impression is one of expensive honeys, beeswax, pollens and nectar. Notes of lychee in syrup, kumquat, orange cocktail bitters and hessian. Parts of this really recall older Bunna bottlings such as the immense Auld Acquaintance, just without the same heft of sherry. Develops some notes of plum wine, treacle and old leather. The nose is really harmonious and beautiful, but, as with so many older malts: the proof will be on the palate. Mouth: lots of crystallised fruits, hessian, sandalwood, salty notes of marmite and toasted walnuts. The texture is surprisingly full for the low abv. Notes of quince, various dark fruit jams, sultana, some salted caramel. Pretty superb and surprisingly fresh really. Some lemon cordial, mint tea and herbal bitters. Finish: long, wonderfully resinous, salty, herbal and full of light tobaccos, menthol and stewed fruits. Comments: I had wondered if this one might be a tad tired. Sadly, I have to report that it is actually rather irritatingly brilliant. The finish in particular is superb. Even after 50 years you still feel the Bunnahabhain DNA. I suspect one of the keywords here was ‘refill’.
SGP: 661 - 91 points.

 

 

Bowmore, over to you...  

 

Bowmore 40 yo 1970/2010 (43.2%, Signatory Vintage ‘Cask Strength Collection’, cask #4467, 1st fill oloroso sherry butt, 489 bottles)

Bowmore 40 yo 1970/2010 (43.2%, Signatory Vintage ‘Cask Strength Collection’, cask #4467, 1st fill oloroso sherry butt, 489 bottles)
We should be, theoretically, on very pretty ground here... Colour: reddish amber. Nose: the sherry strikes first but it’s simultaneously and unmistakably Bowmore as well. Leather, boot polish and very salty liquorice mixed with sandalwood, dried tropical fruits, pot pourri and a rather fragrant and gentle bonfire smoke. There’s elements that almost lean towards a more floral, 80s style of Bowmore, but they’re well within the parameters of acceptability and sit rather beautifully with the sherry and the trademark ‘house’ fruitiness. Over time it keeps developing and becoming more complex. Some notes of espresso, cured meats, umami paste and dried seaweed. I also find some blood orange and citrus fruit cordial notes which give the whole thing a rather syrupy impression. Mouth: wonderfully resinous and saline at first. The delivery is all soy sauce, walnut wine, liquorice, cherry throat sweets, cola cubes, miso and some very old balsamic. The texture is indeed rather syrupy and fat. Lots of medical notes, hardwood resins, putty, herbal ointments and earthy phenolics. Very good! Finish: long, extremely peppery, salty, earthy, full of bitter dark chocolate, espresso, tar extract, orange peel, mulling spices and sarsaparilla. Medical and gently peaty in the aftertaste. Comments: Not up there with the greatest Bowmores from this era but still very much alive and full of distillery character despite a pretty active sherry cask. The kind of extremely pleasurable old thing you could get lost in for a couple of hours (no, not like an Aston Martin Serge!)
SGP: 664 - 91 points.

 

 

Bowmore 41 yo 1974/2016 (50.4%, Signatory ‘Cask Strength Collection’, cask #9007, hogshead, 108 bottles)

Bowmore 41 yo 1974/2016 (50.4%, Signatory Vintage ‘Cask Strength Collection’, cask #9007, hogshead, 108 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: jellied fruits at first. Lots of pineapple, guava, green apple, ripe banana  - all in rather confectionary form. There’s also some apple crumble and custard. Behind that comes a big coastal inflection - lots of sandalwood, beach pebbles, crushed seashells and seaweed in miso broth. A fun mix of sweet and savoury but it works well and maintains balance. I also get ink, some waxed canvas, hessian and a dry earthiness. A tiny farmy note enters the proceedings as well. Very good so far, we’re straddling two different Bowmore universes here. With water: the salty and smoky aspects gain more dominance. Notes of hot wash, sourdough, bonfire embers, cooking oils and some lemon barley water. Mouth: again sweet and salty. Lots of glazed pastries, salted peanuts, sooty qualities, smoked cereals, lemon jelly, wee hints of iodine and delicate medical embrocations and things like herbal toothpaste and carbon paper. Some plasticine and touches of brake fluid as well. Unusual old Bowmore. With water: more herbal, cough medicines, olive oil, mint leaf, very lightly tarry and things like camphor and salted butter. Finish: rather long, lemony, medical, sooty and returning to this coastal aspect with hints of seawater, black olive and coal smoke. Comments: A slightly puzzling old Bowmore. Very entertaining stuff, but it feels a tad unsure of itself at times. Certainly a more transitionary style of Bowmore, one that was stumbling home late from the fruit counter and got lost on a farm on its roundabout trip to the perfumery.
SGP: 464 - 87 points.

 

 

Four very excellent drams. It seems that these distillates do indeed handle longer maturation well, given the cask isn’t too overbearing. Admittedly they aren’t on the same level as the very best examples of these makes at younger ages, but they’re fun and highly pleasurable drams to taste.

 

 

PS: a mix of the two Bunnas is totally superb - the best of both worlds! And a mix of the two Bowmores evolves into something of a fruit bomb with a ‘tolerably cheeky 80s vibe’.

 

 

PSS: a vatting of all four is excellent but understandably a tad schizophrenic. That is all.

 

 

 

 

July 19, 2019


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today new indie Glenburgie

Not that there’s much official Glenburgie around anyway, you’re right. Ready for an opposition of style?

Glenburgie 11 yo 2008/2019 (56.6%, Hart Bros, selected by Gianni Migliore, Switzerland, first fill sherry, cask #6707, 252 bottles)

Glenburgie 11 yo 2008/2019 (56.6%, Hart Bros, selected by Gianni Migliore, Switzerland, first fill sherry, cask #6707, 252 bottles) Four stars
Really glad to see more bottlings by Hart Bros. around! Colour: copper amber. Nose: it’s not that explosive, and rather gentle in fact, on demoiselle cakes, mocha and cappuccino, café latte (remember Seinfeld, how do you make café latte? by adding $2 to a cup of coffee…) then more Cuban cigars, bone marrow, bouillons and ham. Something a little acetic, which I find very pleasant. Fino-ish. With water: wood varnish and more cigars, cherry leaf tea, fresh walnuts, and those rather strong mushrooms that grow late in the season. Blewit mushrooms, do you know them? Mouth (neat): oh good! First some mushroomy and mossy dry sherry, then rather bitter oranges, peppered chutneys, and a walnutty side. Eating a bit of tobacco. With water: same feelings. Menthol, resins, walnuts, mushrooms, a mustardy touch and a little green pepper. Finish: long, with even more pepper, and rather less mushrooms. Now those blewits can be rather peppery. Marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: very very good, bold, very entertaining. And if you enjoy mushrooms as much as I do…
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Glenburgie 18 yo 1998/2017 (59.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask # 751401, 166 bottles)

Glenburgie 18 yo 1998/2017 (59.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask # 751401, 166 bottles) Four stars and a half
Looks like they just issued this one, or relaunched it, or whatever… Should be good anyway. Colour: white wine. Nose: typical natural un-sherried middle-aged Speysider of good provenance, with the usual waxy fruits doing their jobs to perfection. We’re talking mirabelles, quinces, apples, pears, and various small berries including elder. Yes, the Monty Pythons’, please excuse my Frenchness. Also sunflower oil and peelings. With water: gets more floral. Dandelions, buttercups, and a little light honey. Mouth (neat): wonderful freshness, with flying fruits! Mostly plums of all kinds, mirabelles, damsons, greengages and all their buddies. Always this waxy/oily background as well, this baby has got some depth. With water: it adores water, it seems. Wonderful teas and grasses, more peelings, mango skin, pink grapefruits. Finish: indeed, apple peel and pink grapefruits. Tangerines. Comments: malt whisky as nature intended. Well, not too sure about that one.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

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

 

July 18, 2019


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today new oak-boosted
young Glenallachie

We’ve got a few new ‘Billy-Walker’ Glenallachies that are very modern, and I would suspect more Scotch malts will be made like this in the future. They are young when not simply NAS, while they do not hide the fact that they’re heavily oak/wine-driven. That really creates a new style of Scotch malt whisky that some may call ‘legally flavoured’, but while I’m all for tradition and do not believe there’s any virtue in that old chestnut called ‘innovation’ (are we in tech or are we in whisky, for crying out loud?), I shall not cry wolf this time. Why? Because I’ve already tasted some pretty good ones.

Glenallachie 8 yo ‘Koval Rye Quarter Cask Wood Finish’ (48%, OB, 2019)

Glenallachie 8 yo ‘Koval Rye Quarter Cask Wood Finish’ (48%, OB, 2019) Three stars and a half
I don’t know why so many ex-Koval casks ended up being used as finishing vessels in Scotland, including at the indies. Any ideas? A Chicagoan Millet finish anytime soon? Colour: white wine, so probably a very short finishing period. Nose: rye bread and raw ale all over the place, plus a good dollop of custard. Very simple, but the fact is, I love these kinds of aromas. Would rather move towards the expected notes of butterscotch, cinnamon cake and speculoos after that, plus bonbons and a little nutmeg. Mouth: there’s rather more Scotchness to the palate, but the oak’s very obvious. Mind you, those were small quarter casks, not too sure if that was just some flash-finishing though. So cinnamon and quite a lot of black tea, plus some lemon liqueur and quite a lot of natural cider (not the sugared ‘junk’ some have here and there). It’s very spicy, but that’s pretty much under control. Finish: long, with much more ginger and cinnamon. May make you want to clear your throat. Comments: I don’t like the idea too much, but I do enjoy the end result. Much better than the other way ‘round, I suppose. Welcome to malt whisky’s tomorrow? Oh and thanks for the age statement!
SGP:361 - 83 points.

Now let’s find another young one…

Glenallachie 11 yo 2007/2019 (61.3%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Barrel, Un-chillfiltered Collection, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900169, 324 bottles)

Glenallachie 11 yo 2007/2019 (61.3%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Barrel, Un-chillfiltered Collection, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900169, 324 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: very different, drier yet, much more on mosses and tobaccos, then fresh almonds and quite a lot of terpenic aromas, pine needles, turpentine, balsam, thuja wood… I love that, even if in some cases, those aromas may suggest the palate is… wrecked. We’ll see… With water: macaroons and gingerbread, pipe tobacco, savoury bits muffins, liquorice, aniseed and Alsatian-style baked snails. Yep my friend. Mouth (neat): yeah, drinking turpentine while smoking Kools and varnishing the parquet. Sort of. With water: it’s got something modern too, especially this pepper and all the ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Finish: long and really very spicy. Feels rather ‘craft’. Quite a lot of new oak in the aftertaste. Comments: certainly not for everyone. Which means, yeah, that there’s more for us ;-). A big boy.
SGP:371 - 85 points.

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

 

July 17, 2019


Whiskyfun

A bag of indie Springbank de la muerte

It’s hard to spend a whole month without tasting a bunch of high-flying Springbanks. THE grand cru of Scotland, all things considered. Let’s see what we have, and do it deep…

Springbank 27 yo 1991/2018 (46.4%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead)

Springbank 27 yo 1991/2018 (46.4%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead) Five stars
Clark Gable’s very own tipple, according to the label, although if I remember well, he would have rather been a partisan of Jim Beam.  Colour: gold. Nose: no no no, this is too fast, we shouldn’t have tried this one first. But it’s the lightest of them all, so… Amazing apricots stewed in mint and vanilla sauce, angelica, aniseed, then that magical sauce that gathers orange juice, olive oil and chestnut honey, some pollen, some tangerine skin (when they get very ripe), and a little thuja wood, or any very resinous wood. It is rather extraordinary, I have to say. This baby gathers old Springbanks (mid-1960s) and modern Springbank. Mouth: in truth, it’s a Springbank that’s rather akin to the best fresher honeyed Speysiders. Early 1970s Glen Grants, Caperdonichs, or even older Lochsides… There are a few wackier metallic and mineral touches, though. It is very brilliant whisky, for sure. Overripe apples, mead, honeys, pollen, Virginia tobacco, older sultanas, dried litchis… Finish: not too long, but beautifully honeyed. Comments: I am surprised, I had always thought the great ‘newer’ vintages had rather started around 1993. I’m not sure I would have recognised this very soft Springbank, but it’s absolutely marvellous whisky. A gentler Springer, some would say. Oh and no sulphury sherry wood here!
SGP:641 - 91 points.

Indeed, this is too fast already…

Springbank 26 yo 1992/2019 (47.7%, The Whisky Kingdom & Duckhammers, bourbon barrel, cask #153b)

Springbank 26 yo 1992/2019 (47.7%, The Whisky Kingdom & Duckhammers, bourbon barrel, cask #153b) Five stars
Duck hammers? Are these fine lasses and lads hunters? Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, I was right (nothing to be proud of, old boy) there is more Springbankness in this vintage. I mean, more greases and oils, carbs, paraffin, engine oil and stuff. But other than that, there’s still a huge honeyness, some wonderful dried fruits, a stunning kind of fruity metallic side, some pinesap, moss, toothpaste, eucalyptus, and perhaps some kind of tropical wine. They make banana wine in Guadeloupe, that could be it. Or mango wine. And there’s quite some marzipan too. Mouth: we’re more towards 1991 than 1993 here, with loads of tropical fruits that would almost generate a feeling of soap. A lot of bananas, coconuts, pineapples, papayas, then softer honeys, spearmint cordial, some panettone, fresh croissants… To be honest, it is very good, but not extremely Springbanky on the palate. Again, this could be, say Glen Grant 1972. Finish: medium, with rather more ‘soapy mangos’ and quite some mead. Comments: could be that this bourbon cask did offset a large part of any Springbankness. The end result is rather fantastic though, just rather a tad lighter than expected.
SGP:641 - 90 points.

Quick, a 1993…

Springbank 25 yo 1993/2018 (48.1%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead)

Springbank 25 yo 1993/2018 (48.1%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead) Five stars
Who’s this American actress again? Gene Harlow? Colour: pale gold. Nose: must be me, really, I can’t seem to find a huge Springbankness in this one either, but indeed there would be a little more olive oil, for instance. Or raw wool, candles, teak oil, brake fluid, freshly roasted coffee beans, a little wood smoke… We’re getting there, we’re getting there! What’s sure is that it’s less fruity, and rather drier and smokier than the 1991 and 1992. A little umami too, cigars, tarmac… Hurray! Mouth: ah there! Wonderful notes of peaty pastis (ideas ideas, Pernod…) salt, black olives, smoked meats and fish, Maggi (Angus is about to start Maggifun.com, watch these pages!), parsley and lovage, basil, even green pesto (basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese)… Well, this is simply extraordinary, it is the smokier, fatter, more complex side of The Springbank. Finish: long, really very ashy and savoury. Some may like to pour this over sushi. Comments: so, Gene Harlow?
SGP:454 - 92 points.

It’s all going well, is it not? So why not go black?

Springbank 24 yo 1994/2019 (47.7%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, The Black Series, sherry hogshead, 148 bottles)

Springbank 24 yo 1994/2019 (47.7%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, The Black Series, sherry hogshead, 148 bottles) Five stars
Well, black whisky, not too sure about that idea. On the one hand, you had the famous Black Bowmores, that’s true; but on the other hand, you had Loch Dhu, that putrid black swill. Now I doubt DL would have tried to come up with some new Loch Dhu (and wasted a cask of Springbank during the process). Let’s see… Colour: it is not that black, just a little bronze-ish. Nose: shh, quiet please. Bitter chocolate, prunes, Egyptian mocha, metal polish, umami sauce, Cohibas (whichever Cuban make, really), very black tea, white truffles, car engine (from an old British car, so with a lot of leaks -ha, love them), and a spoonful of Marmite, as well as a wee glass of Maggi. Exceptional nose. Mouth: one of the earthiest whiskies I’ve ever tried. Whether this is natural or not, I don’t know (of course it is), but it’s like if you would eat half a kilo of raw morels (which you shouldn’t do, as they’re poisonous when not cooked), and simply some raw garden peat and earth. I may have found this feeling in a few wines, especially from volcanic soils like the Rangen de Thann in southern Alsace, but never in whisky, as far as I can remember. Total umami, for umami freaks! Finish: long, chocolaty and coffeeish. With drops of 19th century Armagnac in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m wondering if this wasn’t a proper old ex-solera oloroso butt. DL, am I far off? Glorious old savoury whisky, and very singular at that. Masterful whisky.
SGP:362 - 93 points.

Back to some whiter ones, you can’t get enough Springbank!

Springbank 25 yo 1992/2017 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency for Shinanoya, Japan, hogshead)

Springbank 25 yo 1992/2017 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency for Shinanoya, Japan, hogshead) Five stars
Wonderful label, hope the whisky will be on par. Colour: gold. Nose: looks like we’re back on honeys and overripe fruits, with less Springbankness again, and more ‘Speyside-y fruitiness’. Compotes, overripe pears, quinces, heather honey, a little spearmint, sunflower oil, fresh Spanish turon (one accent missing), then more beeswax and plasticine. Indeed that is rather Springbank. Mouth: no, this is fantastic, if rather softer than later Springers. Hay wine, crushed bananas, quince jelly, marzipan, wee notes of peanut butter (close to turon indeed), perhaps medlar jam, then a little salt, chutneys, wax… Distillery character is on the rise here, and no one will complain about that. Finish: medium, perfect, waxy and jammy, with much elegance and balance. More citrus, grapefruit juice, lime in the aftertaste. Comments: 1992 really was an intermediate vintage – as far as vintages make any sense with whisky – which they do in their own way!
SGP:552 - 91 points.

1993 again, please…

Springbank 1993/2014 (50.9%, OB, Private Bottling, fresh sherry cask, cask #444, 274 bottles)

Springbank 1993/2014 (50.9%, OB, Private Bottling, fresh sherry cask, cask #444, 274 bottles) Five stars
Some likely heavy sherry, and some cask owners who were comfortable staying in the shadows. Which is oh so little ‘2019’. Very refreshing when you see all these mediocre booze people a.k.a. attention whores who, when talking about whisky (or rum, whatever), would rather post pictures of themselves than bottles or stills! Colour: amber. Nose: first thing first, very little sulphur, if any. All the rest will be a bed of roses then, with quinces, dried dates, soot, old wine cellar, mushrooms, prunes, old rancio, red peach jam, Bellini (champagne and peach purée), earth, and most naturally, liquorice. With water: leather and earth all over the place, plus this little rubber that’s consubstantial to any good modern Springbank. Mouth (neat): it is a tad raw, but that’s an asset to any Springbank. Orange squash, even Fanta (oh the…), bitter oranges, aspirin tablets, chalk (hurray!), plaster… With water: excellent. Chocolate, bitter oranges, chalk, and soot. Some grease too. Finish: long, on bitter oranges and plasticine. Lovely! Comments: not all private casks are/were perfect, but this one was. Kudos, Mr. X.!
SGP:562 - 91 points.

A last one? Are you game? Isn’t that too much?

Springbank 1995/2014 (53.9%, OB, Private Bottling, Fonseca Port cask, cask #545, 185 bottles)

Springbank 1995/2014 (53.9%, OB, Private Bottling, Fonseca Port cask, cask #545, 185 bottles) Five stars
Another well-mannered anonymous cask owner! Port is always scary, with any whisky, but this was a 1970 Fonseca cask. Colour: gold. Nose: no obvious Port, almost no Port at all, actually, rather this impeccable waxy greasiness and these whiffs of crushed chalk and Italian lemon sauce that are so marvellous. Some green apples too, fresh plaster, soot, mouldy old wine cellar, and very old lager beer (please don’t drink it). With water: mud, plaster, yogurt, plasticine, new sneakers. Like, the stupidest Nikes. Mouth (neat): pungent, ultra-fresh, bandage-y, mineral, lemony, and rather sour, yeasty, almost bacterial. Not consensual malt whisky for sure, but boy do we love this! With water: lemon juice, grass juice, crushed chalk, paraffin. All very basic ingredients, I agree. As my dear mother used to say about wine, why pay hundreds then? She was right! Finish: rather long, clean, lemony, oily, chalky. Comments: I was thinking, isn’t this ‘free whisky’, as in ‘free jazz’? Nah, forget about that, this is neither the time, nor the place… Now where was the Port? Not that we shall complain, naturally…
SGP:463 - 92 points.

I’m glad we had two superb private casks. To whom this may concern, bravo! But DL’s new black shtuff won it today. Really, I never found this much earth in any whisky…

(Merci Nicolas!)

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

 

July 16, 2019


Whiskyfun

 

Editor's Warning: As always, please do not take the photographs' colours into consideration.

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Death by Highland Park
No, not a new Valhalla themed official release for Duty Free. More a reference to the fact that there seems to be an ‘over-budget Macallan visitor centre’ quantity of official Highland Park single casks on the market these days and many seem to be at turbo charged strengths. Thanks to some friendly Vikings I have 12 of them to try. We’ll attempt to go backwards by vintage. If someone could just place the pennies on my eyes before you go...

 

Highland Park 12 yo 2005/2018 (64.4%, OB for Aberdeen Airport, cask #3631, refill butt, 610 bottles)

Highland Park 12 yo 2005/2018 (64.4%, OB for Aberdeen Airport, cask #3631, refill butt, 610 bottles)
64.4%!!! For an airport? Does the aviation industry’s definition of hazardous liquids not apply in Scotland? Colour: gold. Nose: hot varnish, cider apples, toffee apple, pear eau de vie and baking soda. Clean and pure but also undeniably tough. No naked flames please! With water: much fresher, lots of petrichor, wet leaves, coal dust, hessian, clover and hints of menthol tobacco. Perhaps some barley wine and an inkling of something coastal like beach sand. Mouth: lemon infused cooking oils, sweet pastries, cough drops, a little earthy turmeric. Still a beast! With water: much better! Toffee chews, chocolate limes, ointments, herbal teas, cough syrups, tarragon and some bitter peach schnapps. Finish: good length, rather earthy, spicy and increasingly meaty and heathery. Comments: It’s good whisky, but it feels quite technical and it’s undeniably extremely tough at times. Something to pour a single dram of for some intellectual jousting with pals but it isn’t something I can imagine quaffing with ease.
SGP: 471 - 80 points.

 

 

Highland Park 12 yo 2004/2017 (63.1%, OB for The Bishops Arms - Sweden, cask #6712, European oak sherry butt, 492 bottles)

Highland Park 12 yo 2004/2017 (63.1%, OB for The Bishops Arms - Sweden, cask #6712, European oak sherry butt, 492 bottles)
63.1%, always nice to go downhill... Colour: ruby/amber. Nose: much more direct and classical sherry influence here. A mix of walnut oil and sweet cream sherry. Also pipe tobacco, pomegranate molasses, chocolate sauce, red fruit teas and old rope piled in a musty wine cellar. It’s a modern type of sherry but it feels clean and rather precise which works well with the HP distillate. With water: damson jam, prune juice, spiced plum sauce, fruit loaf and a little soy sauce flying the coastal flag in the background. You can feel the spice of active oak simmering just beneath the surface which really says ‘modern sherry cask’. However, it remains pretty well integrated. Mouth: lots of strawberry liqueur, mint jelly, raspberry cordial, blood orange, rosehip tea, heather ale, treacle, hessian, mint choc chip and nice meaty / earthy density at its heart. Wears its strength pretty lightly. With water: meatier and more chocolatey. Dark chocolate fondant, chilli-infused dark chocolate, various meat stocks, more hessian and a pretty fat leathery quality. Finish: good length. Meaty, beefy and with hints of bouillon, caraway, hot paprika, black tea and herbal bitters. Some nice red fruitiness as well. Comments: It’s a pretty modern style of sherry from an active cask but it has worked well in this instance. If you like things big, spicy and relatively ‘in yer face’. 
SGP: 572 - 86 points. 

 

 

Highland Park 13 yo 2004/2018 (64.1%, OB for Belgium, cask #6577, refill butt, 594 bottles)

Highland Park 13 yo 2004/2018 (64.1%, OB for Belgium, cask #6577, refill butt, 594 bottles)
64.1% this time! Mind you, in Belgium those shrimp croquettes won’t deep fry themselves... Colour: light amber. Nose: this one is a little more easy on the approach. Some grass, green tea, cocktail bitters and even some rather elegant fruit notes of papaya, green apple and melon. Also a wee hint of agave nectar and runny honey. With water: more towards classical HP now, developing along lines of breads, heather ale, barley water, graphite, wood spices, pollens and some sandalwood. Mouth: surprisingly green and fruity, notes of lemon peel, freshly baked breads, chopped herbs, herbal teas, gooseberry and some sweet cereals. Surprisingly easy given the strength. With water: nicely syrupy in texture, still these ripe green fruits, sweet cereals, putty, olive oil, grapefruit and cough mixtures. Finish: long, sooty, oily, hints of lemon, caraway, bay leaf and even some very light phenolics. Comments: Someone got up bright and early in Belgium to select this cask. Feels like the distillery character is very much in the driving seat here, which I love.
SGP: 662 - 88 points.

 

 

Highland Park 13 yo 2004/2018 (62.5%, OB for VELIER, cask #6220, refill butt, 534 bottles)

Highland Park 13 yo 2004/2018 (62.5%, OB for VELIER, cask #6220, refill butt, 534 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: hot clay, plastic and strong black tea! A pretty hot nose at first, lots of spiky alcohol. Takes a good couple of minutes or so for the heat to blow away, then there’s some leafy tobacco notes, crushed walnuts and cherry kirsch. Needs water I suspect. With water: plain brown bread, some cough syrup, rather jammy with some syrupy red fruit notes. Still a bit tough I feel. Mouth: cherry jam on brown bread. Seriously, there’s quite a lot of cherries in this one for some reason. Boiled cherry sweets and maraschino notes. Also strong black coffee, bitter chocolate, toasted almonds and plain old marzipan. Not as brutal as on the nose at first. Some sweet pastries and a little olive oil. With water: there’s an acrid edge and the overall impression is still one of heat, biting wood spice and this general jammy quality. Not totally convinced by this one. Finish: Medium and rather on charred wood, some menthol cigarettes and black pepper. Some wee floral hints in the aftertaste. Comments: I found this one pretty tough to be honest. It’s decent whisky, but you feel that you’re going uphill. We’re back at Aberdeen airport it would seem...
SGP: 571 - 80 points.

 

 

Highland Park 12 yo 2003/2016 (58.1%, OB for Germany, cask #5886, 1st fill European oak sherry butt, 630 bottles)

Highland Park 12 yo 2003/2016 (58.1%, OB for Germany, cask #5886, 1st fill European oak sherry butt, 630 bottles)
Colour: mahogany. Nose: a different ballpark! This is all fig jam, mulling spices such as cloves and cinnamon, some gingerbread, chopped dates and sultanas in muesli and some herbal and menthol notes such as tea tree oil and old herbal liqueurs. Some red fruits as well such as cranberries and cherry syrup. There’s some synchronicity in the sherry but it’s globally a much more approachable and gentle style with a nice degree of complexity and balance between the spices and fruits. Develops towards this classic fruit cake and toasted nuts profile with a little time. With water: evolves towards a more bready and earthy profile. Leather tobacco pouch, some aged calvados and hints of hessian and cigar boxes. Mouth: Muscovado sugar, a sooty edge, some beefy meaty tones and lots of things like sultanas, dark chocolate, prune juice and pomegranate molasses. Nicely rich and syrupy in texture. With water: chocolate sauce, pu erh tea, tiger balm, bitter herbal extracts, more hessian, a little black pepper and camphor. Still got this excellent syrupy texture going on. Finish: long, back to the spices, lots of drying earthy notes, some black tea style tannin and walnut liqueur. Comments: I feel there’s a fair bit of quality variation in these HPs even though their general profiles can be similar (note the identical SGP to cask 5886) and the impression I’m getting is that it derives from the casks rather than the distillate. This one was excellent!
SGP: 571 - 88 points

 

 

Highland Park 12 yo 2003/2016 (58.3%, OB for Braunstein & Friends Whisky Fair, cask #5878, 1st fill European oak sherry butt, 648 bottles)

Highland Park 12 yo 2003/2016 (58.3%, OB for Braunstein & Friends Whisky Fair, cask #5878, 1st fill European oak sherry butt, 648 bottles)
Colour: deep amber. Nose: deep and chocolatey at first. This slightly sweet chocolate sauce note that morphs nicely into damp tobacco, earthen floor dunnage and lots of prunes, sultanas and fig jam. A hint of coffee, some strawberry wine, walnut oil - lovely stuff! With water: game meats, wool, cedar wood, nutmeg and cloves. Develops this lovely leather and chocolate tango. Mouth: spiced dark fruit jams mixed with gravelly and earthy notes, bitter herbal extracts, dark chocolate infused with chilli and some more savoury characteristics such as bouillon and miso. Perhaps some mushroom powder as well. Lovely even balance between sweet and savoury aspects. With water: lots of dark fruits, soft brown sugar, five spice, some Jägermeister and plum sauce. The spices really dance around in this one meaning it always feels lively and awake. If you see what I mean? Finish: long, leathery, meaty, earthy, sooty, lots of tobacco leaf and black coffee. Leaves this feeling of fatness in the mouth. Comments: We’re pretty close to 90 here, the weight, texture, balance and power were all great and the sherry had an old school edge to it.
SGP: 661 - 89 points.

 

 

Highland Park 13 yo 2003/2017 (59.7%, OB for Kaupang - Norway, cask #5709, refill butt, 552 bottles)

Highland Park 13 yo 2003/2017 (59.7%, OB for Kaupang - Norway, cask #5709, refill butt, 552 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: rather prickly but some nice notes of golden syrup, fresh cereals and even a very light streak of peat along with limestone and pebbles. This one feels a lot more Highland Parky with these notes of heather honey, light coastal tones, earl grey tea, lemon peel and sandalwood. Aromatic, rather complex and nicely balanced between the seashore and more earthy characteristics. With water: lightly sooty, coastal, rather fresh, lots of sandalwood, soft leathery notes, waxed canvas and a pebble-strewn minerality.  Mouth: an elegant thread of honey sweetness, heather ales, sooty notes, cereals, coastal freshness and lightly bitter lemon pith. Also plain oatmeal and hints of herbal cough medicine. With water: perfect with water now! Runny honey sweetness, herbal ointments, lemon cough drops, barley sugar, green tea and a lovely syrupy and oily texture. Finish: long, elegantly medical, umami, salty, light mineral touches, sunflower oil and some notes of aged barley wine. Comments: This one feels closer to many of the indy HPs, which is no bad thing as it also expresses a more unvarnished and raw distillery character. Which is something that I feel is - ironically - missing from some of these other official single casks.
SGP: 562 - 89 points.

 

 

Highland Park 13 yo 2003/2016 (60.3%, OB for Dannebrog, cask #1933, refill butt, 648 bottles)

Highland Park 13 yo 2003/2016 (60.3%, OB for Dannebrog, cask #1933, refill butt, 648 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: a leafy and elegant sherry. Hints of treacle, liquorice, ginger cake, spiced orange liqueur, various fruit cordials and a handful of salted peanuts. Clean, fresh and rather interesting - in a good way. We’re treading and finely balanced line between distillate and cask here and I find it quite captivating. With water: lemon cough drops, hessian, various shades of medicine, herbal qualities, soot, heather ales. Once again we are pleasingly close to ‘Highland Park’ flavour. Mouth: well-rounded, spicy, earthy, mushroomy, plenty of dark, stewed fruits and a rather leathery and salty sherry profile. The salty edge really becomes quite pronounced. There’s also a gamey meaty quality - cured meats and hints of old pinot noir. Hessian, bitter herbal notes, very dark chocolate and fruit-flavoured tobaccos. With water: mineral oil, salted liquorice, prunes, plum sauce, damp earth, menthol tobacco, herbal toothpaste - excellent! Finish: long, sweet barley sugars, boiled citrus sweets, camphor, chocolate lime sweets (rather old school confectionary this finish), tarragon and mint chocolate. Comments: Another excellent cask that really puts the HP character front and centre, although we’re still not quite at the 90 mark in my wee book.
SGP: 662 - 89 points.

 

 

Highland Park 13 yo 2002/2016 (58.6%, OB for Sweden, cask #6403, 1st fill European oak sherry hogshead, 300 bottles)

Highland Park 13 yo 2002/2016 (58.6%, OB for Sweden, cask #6403, 1st fill European oak sherry hogshead, 300 bottles)
In theory, when it comes to Highland Park, you should always be able to trust a Viking... Colour: deep amber / rosewood. Nose: Indeed, lots of dense, sticky, dark fruits stewed in cognac, caramelised brown sugar, darjeeling tea, bitter chocolate and hints of leaf mulch. Sticky toffee pudding, date molasses, sultanas and Guinness cake. With water: evolves towards things like root beer, cola syrup, pine resin and some very dense herbal medicines. More tar extracts, dunnage earthiness and mint liqueur. Wonderful stuff. Mouth: superb fatness and an opulently rich sherry. Again this sense of syrupy, dense dark fruitiness. Plum sauce, liquorice, natural tar extract, herbal teas, mint sauce and walnut wine. There’s also a kind of Asian themed spiciness going on with five spice, star anise and toasted fennel seed. Hessian and some top notch dark chocolate as well. With water: hessian cloth, dark fruit cordials, plum jam, hardwood resins, coal dust, some bitter dark chocolate, salted liquorice, more tar again and sarsaparilla. Finish: long, chocolatey, leathery, tarry, lots of black pepper, dried herbs, soot, caraway, mint and tarragon. Gets increasingly liqueurish in texture. Comments: No equivocations here. This is big, fat 90 point material! Lucky Swedes! Great HP distillate in a grade A sherry cask = giddily pleasurable juice.
SGP: 672 - 90 points.

 

 

Highland Park 14 yo 2002/2016 (59.7%, OB for Sweden, cask #2121, 1st fill American oak sherry butt, 600 bottles)

Highland Park 14 yo 2002/2016 (59.7%, OB for Sweden, cask #2121, 1st fill American oak sherry butt, 600 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: lean, spicy and with a nice rising sweetness. You do indeed notice the American oak with this syrupy vanilla quality that sits just beneath the surface. Lots of ginger, nutmeg, fruit loaf, almonds, honeyed oatmeal, crystalised fruits, golden syrup and heather honey. Playfully sweet and fruity in a way that you don’t often find with HP. I really like it. With water: glace cherries, candied citrus fruit peel, cream soda, cough sweets and red fruit teas. Mouth: cloves, ointments, olive oil, herbal medicines, sunflower seeds, spicy rye breads, runny honey mixed with Marmite (probably some people’s worst nightmare but I like it), some warming paprika and pot pourri. Gets breadier with notes of freshly baked brown bread, some salty butter and sweet fruit cordials. With water: notes of strawberry wine, young calvados, red apples, tarragon, herbal toothpaste and mint julep. Finish: long, very herbal, getting slightly bitter, aniseed, ointments, cough medicines and some salty liquorice. Comments: You really notice the difference between American and European oak with these HPs I feel. I think the sweeter dimension really works well here. Lots of pleasure to be had.
SGP: 651 - 89 points.

 

 

Highland Park 15 year old 2002/2018 (61%, OB for 20th anniversary World Of Whisky Switzerland, cask #1937, 1st fill American oak sherry puncheon, 570 bottles)

Highland Park 15 year old 2002/2018 (61%, OB for 20th anniversary World Of Whisky Switzerland, cask #1937, 1st fill American oak sherry puncheon, 570 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: slightly sharp at first nosing. Acrylic paint, some tart red fruit, grapefruit, putty and things eventually begin to settle down and the whole gets a little creamier and easier. Some nice dry earthy notes, leaf mulch, milk chocolate and cinnamon flavoured breakfast cereals. With water: mixed pulces, hummus, chopped parsley - still on this slightly leathery and earthy profile only more tertiary and complex now with water. A wee peppery watercress note as well. Mouth: prickly heat which brings to mind some fruity red chilli and lightly smoked paprika but also some red fruit jams, strawberry cordial, lime zest and pickled ginger. Good and nicely different from some of the others above - again you can feel the thumbprint of the American oak with these sweeter, gingery spices. With water: cooking oils, pine resin, crystallised fruits, dates, fig jam and a slice of Dundee cake. Finish: good length and nicely warming with a continuation of leather, earth, soot, orange peel and five spice. Comments: Quite simply, very good HP that’s not earth shattering by any means but does offer many easy pleasures. Needs water though, I’d say.
SGP: 661 - 87 points.

 

 

Highland Park 16 yo 2001/2017 (61.2%, OB Dalecarlia - Sweden, cask #385, European oak sherry butt, 576 bottles)

Highland Park 16 yo 2001/2017 (61.2%, OB Dalecarlia - Sweden, cask #385, European oak sherry butt, 576 bottles)
Colour: deep amber / rosewood. Nose: Big, sharp, concentrated and punchy. Almost like roof pitch and raw tar blitzed together. Beyond that though there’s red fruit cordials, strawberry jam, fruity black coffee, hazelnut liqueur, cornbread and mushroom soup. Pretty extreme but also very good. With water: suddenly very chocolatey. Lots of praline, coco pops and a sly gamey, meaty side that comes in with a big hit of umami in the back of it. Slight sawdusty note as well though. Mouth: pure treacle, salted liquorice, cola syrups, root beer, herbal ointments, wood char and bbq embers, burnt heather and some old, dark shilling ales. Immense peppery heat, some nippy tannins and yet it manages to still feel balanced despite the weight aspects on all sides. With water: lots of coffee, red fruit jams, bitter chocolate, herbal cough medicine and things like jasmine, aniseed and liquorice. Finish: long, menthol tobacco, earthy, cured meats, bouillon stock, dark soy sauce and smoky bacon. Comments: Another great selection by our Swedish friends. Do they have their own door to the warehouse or something? This one definitely needs water but is generally pretty superb.
SGP: 662 - 89 points.

 

 

In conclusion, I find a lot of these official casks a tad tough in that they can often be brutally high strength, rather challenging and requiring high levels of concentration. However, when they’re on the more relaxed side and when the wood gives the HP distillate room for a bit of self-expression then they can be pretty excellent indeed.

 

 

Many grateful emoticons to Uncle Hans!

 

 

 

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

 

July 15, 2019


Whiskyfun

Glen Moray OB vs. IB

Glen Moray is coming out of the shadows… Thanks to the independent bottlers! Sometimes brands should really thank the indies, even if Glen Moray’s a heavy seller in the UK, thanks to some very moderate pricing. But is it still a bit ‘budget’? Let’s see…

Glen Moray ‘Elgin Classic’ (40%, OB, +/-2018)Glen Moray ‘Elgin Classic’ (40%, OB, +/-2018)

Glen Moray ‘Elgin Classic’ (40%, OB, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
Cheap and NAS, what’s to be expected here? Well, if that’s more purity, we’re not against it… Colour: straw. Nose: youthful, malty, muesli-y, brioche-y, doughy, and with nice preserved pears and pineapples. Easy, simple, nice, more than just some ueber-blend (which it actually is on shop shelves). Mouth: really very easy, light, on pretty much the same flavours, plus growing notes of sultanas. A lot of sultanas! Sadly, it tends to become a little woody/cardboardy, which is the fate of many an ageless budget malt whisky. Finish: short, a tad indefinite, cardboardy, dry. Loses many points at this point. Too much ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: a pity, it all started very well, but as almost always, it’s them finishes that tell the truth. Still a fine drop worth a good score, mind you. And yeah, it’s cheap.
SGP:451 - 78 points.

Glen Moray ‘Elgin Classic Peated’ (40%, OB, +/-2018)

Glen Moray ‘Elgin Classic Peated’ (40%, OB, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
How this NAS baby could be both ‘classic’ and ‘peated’, I don’t know. More Friday afternoon marketing? Colour: white wine (nice). Nose: a bit like those NAS Ardmores. Peaches, smoke, overused lapsang souchong, some bonbons, and something hesitating and uncertain. Is this rock and roll or is it disco? Mouth: pretty fine, but very simple. Some salt and pepper, wee bits of jalapeno, ashes, green apples, fabric, lemon concentrate, a little burnt wood. Not un-nice, actually, just not very necessary. Plus, there’s already Benromach. Finish: medium, dry, with green spices and some ashy bitterness, beyond the saltiness. Comments: same ballpark. Perhaps a tad skimpy, but more than acceptable. Same score.
SGP:445 - 78 points.

Indies, the floor is yours…

Glen Moray 10 yo 2008/2019 (59.2%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, sherry hogshead, 134 bottles)

Glen Moray 10 yo 2008/2019 (59.2%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, sherry hogshead, 134 bottles) Four stars
Hope this won’t be pure kerosene, although the label would suggest otherwise indeed. Colour: gold. Nose: humph! This is brutal indeed, full of glutamate, tobacco, dried wild mushrooms (morels and stuff), but also mercurochrome, Maggi, manzanilla, old walnuts… Does the moderate distillate play any role here? Not too sure. With water: gentler, subtler, very malty and umami-y, sour, slightly smoky… What’s sure is that it swims very well. Mouth (neat): they have distilled manzanilla! Bitter beers, walnut decoction, mustard, horseradish, tobacco juice… Yeah well, what’s sure is that this baby’s an amazing conversationalist, so to speak. With water: pretty excellent, if a little too much and heavy/pushy. Leathers, spices, tobacco, dried stuff, whacky curries, fruit skins, orange concentrate… Finish: very long, on the same leathery/tobacco-y notes. Comments: tell me about a wrestler! Don’t tackle these kinds when you’re not in full form – please don’t! Oh and anyone who would have recognised Glen Moray here would deserve a free new Aston-Martin (with the manual gearbox, of course).
SGP:372 - 86 points.

Mercury III 2007/2019 ‘133° U.1.1’ 1897.2”’ (62.2%, Scotch-Universe, bourbon barrel) Mercury III 2007/2019 ‘133° U.1.1’ 1897.2”’ (62.2%, Scotch-Universe, bourbon barrel)

Mercury III 2007/2019 ‘133° U.1.1’ 1897.2”’ (62.2%, Scotch-Universe, bourbon barrel) Four stars
Ooh my head! Anyway, take my word for it, this very cryptic and pretty loco bottle aus Germany contains Glen Moray. What’s more, it is Glen Moray at some pretty homicidal strength, is it not? Colour: white wine. Nose: they have bottled mercurochrome, blended with pressed green walnuts and the spiciest Spanish olive oil. It is loco indeed, but we’re not scared of anything at WF Towerz, are we. With water: we-tamed-it! Gentle yellow and white fruits, greengages, watermelons, hearts of palm, white pears… After all, it’s very civilised malt whisky. Mouth (neat): please, paper and pen to write my will, thank you. Other than that, peach and melon syrups. With water: goody good, firmer than expected, with moderate vanilla and coconut, then the same white fruits. Average in the best sense of that word. Finish: rather long, and rather more on beers. After all, this is a German bottling, Fraulein. Comments: nice cleaner and fresher counterpoint to the Liquid Treasure version. Almost yin and yang.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

An older one and we’ll call this a session.

Glen Moray 28 yo 1990/2018 (51.4%, The Whisky Agency for The Whisky Exchange, 138 bottles)

Glen Moray 28 yo 1990/2018 (51.4%, The Whisky Agency for The Whisky Exchange, 138 bottles) Four stars and a half
Some more subtleties, I suppose… Colour: pale gold. Nose: indeed. More fruit peelings, fresh walnuts, then a slightly Clynelishy development on candlewax and citrus skins, cigarette tobacco, then hints of rose petals, Turkish delights, and little bonbons. The kinds they give you at front desks in hotels (while they’re looking for your reservation, which they have lost, naturally). With water: no, cancel all that, this is a perfect ‘green’ malt, with fruit peelings, mosses, leaves, and perhaps ‘stronger’ flowers, towards honeysuckle and elderflowers. Mouth (neat): goo-oo-ood! The obvious winner  today, with some strength and this very peculiar balance between bread/beer and greener fruits. Now, even if the strength isn’t too high, it’s still a bit too hot for me (S., you sissy!) With water: yeah, there, high-end beers (which I know next to nothing about) and subtle fruits. Some green coffee, malt… Finish: rather long, drier, saltier, and rather fino-y. The walnuts are back in the aftertaste. Comments: the power of time on whisky. I know I'm rambling now.
SGP:361 - 89 points.

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


July 2019 - part 1 <--- July 2019 - part 2 ---> Current entries


 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Glen Albyn 10 yo (56.9%, John McPherson & Sons, OB for Whiskiteca, Edoardo Giaccone, 75cl, +/-1970)

Glenmorangie 27 yo 1991/2019 (55.9%, OB, Rare Cask for 10th Anniversary Loza Dzentelmenow, Poland, oloroso cask finish, 230 bottles)

Springbank 27 yo 1991/2018 (46.4%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead)

Springbank 26 yo 1992/2019 (47.7%, The Whisky Kingdom & Duckhammers, bourbon barrel, cask #153b)

Springbank 24 yo 1994/2019 (47.7%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, The Black Series, sherry hogshead, 148 bottles)

Springbank 1993/2014 (50.9%, OB, Private Bottling, fresh sherry cask, cask #444, 274 bottles)

Springbank 25 yo 1993/2018 (48.1%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead)

Springbank 25 yo 1992/2017 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency for Shinanoya, Japan, hogshead)

Springbank 1995/2014 (53.9%, OB, Private Bottling, Fonseca Port cask, cask #545, 185 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo (Proof, Cadenhead, +/-1965)

Springbank 12 yo (57.1%, OB, for the UK, +/-1980)

Domaine Aux Ducs 1933/1985 (45%, Darroze, Bas-Armagnac)

Grande Champagne Lot N°25 (42.1%, Jean Grosperrin, 204 litres, 2019)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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