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

       
 

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

 

July 14, 2022


Whiskyfun

World sessions, another one
As usual, we'll start this from France, especially since this is Bastille Day…

 

 

Benleioc 'Tourbe Intense' (45%, OB, Bows Distillerie, France, +/-2022)

Benleioc 'Tourbe Intense' (45%, OB, Bows Distillerie, France, +/-2022) Four stars
Peated to more than 50ppm peat and supposed to be one of Bows' 'Brave Occitan Wild Spirits' (BOWS, get it?). It's made in Montauban, north of Toulouse, where it's said that 'no one should ever leave Montauban'. Actually a quote from cult gangster movie 'Les Tontons Flingueurs'. Colour: white wine. Nose: clean, smoky and ashy ala Caol Ila, which is rather impressive since Bows' still looks like a +/-250l one (wash at CI, 19,000l capacity each). Also tiny touches of juniper, fennel and eucalyptus and a very minuscule whiff of cologne. Mouth: probably less CI and rather more a mainlander, but there is some salt (right, a saltiness), really loads of ashes, and certainly some smartness (which consisted in NOT using any ex-wine casks). Hints of chilli and horseradish. Finish: long, clean, zesty, very smoky, with a great feeling of wasabi and pickled ginger in the aftertaste. Should go well with blowfish sushi, ha. A little pear. Comments: to be totally honest, I could have believed this was sourced from up there north Hadrian's Wall. Very impressive at such young age (they first fired the still in 2016), I'm glad this excellent one left Montauban.
SGP:466 - 86 points.

To Germany.

The Westfalian 2013/2018 (53.5%, OB, Germany, fresh sherry hogshead, cask #48, 288 bottles)

The Westfalian 2013/2018 (53.5%, OB, Germany, fresh sherry hogshead, cask #48, 288 bottles) Three stars and a half
I agree I should have tried this baby earlier. It's true that The Westfalian is not one of the loudest and noisiest brands out there. Colour: gold. Nose: a lot of marzipan and roasted sesame oil, various turons and halvas, a curious but very pleasant feeling of rum and raisins, and perhaps a little rye. With water: some pencil shavings, coffee liqueur, cappuccino… Mouth (neat): fatter mouth feel, some spiced coffee, walnuts, ale, aniseed and cinnamon (rolls)… A feeling of spicy chutney too, almost an Indian side (let's have an Amrut after this one, hey why not!) With water: I don't think it really needs water. Finish: medium, with rather more spiced-up coffee liqueur. Comments: it's extremely hard to come after an excellent fresh peater, so well done Mr Westfalian.

SGP:641 - 83 points.

So we said an Amrut… (rummage, rummage…)

Amrut 2014/2021 (60%, OB for LMDW, Tripled Distilled Conquête, ex-bourbon, cask #872, 160 bottles)

Amrut 2014/2021 (60%, OB for LMDW, Tripled Distilled Conquête, ex-bourbon, cask #872, 160 bottles) Five stars
Will this be an Indian Auchentoshan? Colour: gold. Nose: I hate it to be 'force-fed' aromas when not trying blind, but no one can do anything about that. What I mean is that every time I'm trying Amrut (unless sherried and/or peated), I'm expecting mangos, and so I'm finding mangos in this one. In fact, it's full of mangos and no one will ever complain. Mangos including that very desirable metallic touch that comes with them. With water: sorcery and witchcraft! Mango cake, mango liqueur, mango tarte… Plus a little honey and brioche. Mouth (neat): wham, mango spirit, just better than all real mango spirits I could try (not many of them, but they never worked, too aromatic). With water: moves towards citrus but never loses its mangoness. Blood oranges. Finish: long, with blood oranges and pink grapefruits, plus Timut pepper and that small Korean citrus-pepper, I think they call it 'Korean lime pepper' or Zanthoxylum coreanum. De nada. Comments: pure magic. Making a mango eau-de-vie without any mangos! There's even more mangos than in anything by Midleton or Bushmills. Not too complex, it's just incredibly good.

SGP:751 - 90 points.

Farer to the southeast…

Hellyers Road 2008/2020 (62.6%, OB for Taiwan, Australia/Tasmania, Master Series, bourbon, cask #20V08c06, 271 bottles)

Hellyers Road 2008/2020 (62.6%, OB for Taiwan, Australia/Tasmania, Master Series, bourbon, cask #20V08c06, 271 bottles) Three stars
This one for Or Sileis and several other lovely Taiwanese entities. We were never disappointed with these batches. Colour: gold. Nose: great, nosing fresh caraway bread, green bananas, sauna oils, pinewood, and many leaves and herbs I've never heard about. You know, any unknown leaves or grasses you would rub between your fingers while having a stroll in the woods or meadows. With water: huge notes of marshmallows (Boris Johnson's main drawer at 10, Downing), then melissa and coconut balls. Mouth (neat): rather a little strong, and rather full of rosewater, rose liqueur from Cyprus (tourists ahoy), some curious mints and cumin, and simply some all-round gewurz from a very hot vintage. With water: wandering off in liqueur territories, really, contact with civlisat… I mean with the whisky world has been lost. Finish: long, very sweet and on sweets. Liquorice allsorts. Comments: maybe not as thrilled with this very extreme one as with other, well, extreme Hellyers Road. They're always a little extreme anyway, are they not.

SGP:641 - 82 points.

Perhaps more wood sorcery… And since we've mentioned B.J….

Bimber 2017/2021 'The Channel' (57.6%, OB for Kirsch Import, England, Madeira finish, cask #109/4, 272 bottles)

Bimber 2017/2021 'The Channel' (57.6%, OB for Kirsch Import, England, Madeira finish, cask #109/4, 272 bottles) Three stars and a half
A story about swimming across the Channel between England and France, supporting Sea Shepherds and, hopefully, all the poor migrants who would try to do the same, just in the opposite direction. Let's rather think about them, poor souls. Colour: apricot. Nose: an even fruitier version of the Hellyers Road, with shared styles, just with rather more fresh fruits than just Boris's bonbons. With water: whiffs of new sweater, otherwise bags and bags of small citrus, including the Dutch dentists' preferred, kumquats. Mouth (neat): explosive fruitiness, syrups, more citrus-peppers (Szechuan), prickly pear liqueur, citrons… With water: a slights dusty side, not sure water was totally obligatory. Tapioca. Finish: long. Comments: I'm finding both the Hellyers Road and this Bimber a little tiresome, a little 'too much', but maybe am I too tired myself.

SGP:651 - 84 points.
 

July 13, 2022


Whiskyfun

Three
Auchen
toshan for this summer

As they keep reminding us on their labels, 'every single drop triple distilled'. Let's try to kick this off with a natural expression that was bottled by DL a few years ago and that, for forgotten reasons, we haven't tried yet……

Corse
(Saleccia beach, Corsica)

 

 

Auchentoshan 16 yo 2000/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL11591, 319 bottles)

Auchentoshan 16 yo 2000/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL11591, 319 bottles) Four stars
Indeed, a refill hoggie should have left the distillate shine though… Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, bonbons, sweets, candies all over the place, however you call them. Especially cranberry drops, poppy bonbons (very good!) and all things oranges. Exactly what we were expecting and anticipating. Some welcome touches of 'fruity' varnish too, which do belong to this kind of make, in my little experience. Mouth: liquid bonbons, absolutely, especially orange drops, also liqueurs, Cointreau, Grand-Marnier and all that. Some mandarin and citron liqueurs too. A few ice cubes and presto, we're in Corsica without having sent any burnt kerosene into the atmosphere. Finish: medium, on the same very fruity notes, plus touches of grass and that typical wee varnish. Comments: as always, no excessive complexity but I'm finding it neat and tidy. I also believe it would, indeed, take ice well.

SGP:641 - 85 points.

Speaking of Corsica this label looks like the picture was taken with a drone flying over the Saleccia beach, west of Bastia and east of l'Île Rousse. Wonderful…

Auchentoshan 23 yo 1997/2021 (46.1%, The Whisky Blues, barrel, cask #101748, 191 bottles)

Auchentoshan 23 yo 1997/2021 (46.1%, The Whisky Blues, barrel, cask #101748, 191 bottles) Four stars and a half
Lovely label indeed, let's dive into this wee Auchentoshan… Colour: straw – white wine. Nose: as expected, same as the DL, just a little rounder, and perhaps a tad more tropical, with some maracuja sherbet and mango ice cream, both killers. I believe it's just all pretty perfect, possibly one of the loveliest 'new' Auchentoshans I could try since, say 2010. Too bad the owners are a little busy preparing concoctions with very active woods and wines. Mouth: impeccable, easy (too easy? Nah…), rounded and magnificently fruity. Syrups and liqueurs, quince liqueur, oranges, tangerines, rich thick mangos, even bananas… I believe some mad mixologists could try to make some cocktails that are usually done with rum using this Auchentoshan instead, even if that would sound like a crime of lese-majesty to some wet blankets (ahem…) Finish: medium. A whole fruit salad seasoned with acacia honey. Comments: what a wonderfully fruity and clean Auchentoshan! I'd add that never did whisky and label fit this well.
SGP:741 - 89 points.

And so we had mentioned heavy woods and wines…

Auchentoshan 29 yo 1988/2018 'PX Sherry Cask Finish' (49.7%, OB)

Auchentoshan 29 yo 1988/2018 'PX Sherry Cask Finish' (49.7%, OB) Three stars and a half
I'll confess, I've been procrastinating with this one, I hope I was wrong… Colour: gold with touches of enamoured partridge eye. No, really. Nose: not so fast, this is interesting, displaying rather old tools, copper, old books, fresh-polished old furniture, certainly some hoisin, Marmite, walnut wine, patchouli, even a little incense and old cigars… This is clearly more complex than your average Auchentoshan al natural, but is that really what we're expecting from an Auchentoshan? The jury's still out… Mouth: no, sadly some heavy oak has taken over, old walnuts, bitter chocolate, ground mocha beans, a little dust, black raisins… The good news is that some sweeter raisiny notes do manage to float too, as well as some tamarind jam. Some kind of balance is found eventually, phew. Finish: rather long but the PX has kept the upper hand. Comments: rather a strongly-fortified PX from Malaga at times, but the nose was quite beautiful. What's nice with these nose-malts is that you can take them out, give a few sniffs, and pour them back into their bottles. Saves you a lot of money.

SGP:741 - 84 points.

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

 

July 12, 2022


Whiskyfun

A Quatuor of young Iberian Glenallachie

Glenallachie

All finished / enhanced / flavoured / boosted with some Iberian wines. As long as the crown jewels are not hit, we are totally fine. (Picture Glenallachie)

 

 

Glenallachie 6 yo 2015/2022 (56.8%, Claxton's for Fadandel, PX octave finish, cask #C22049, 69 bottles)

Glenallachie 6 yo 2015/2022 (56.8%, Claxton's for Fadandel, PX octave finish, cask #C22049, 69 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: boosted indeed, but rather balanced, with some fruity varnish, nail polish, new wooden furniture (from that Swedish shop) and bubblegum, as well as a little lighter pipe tobacco. With water: rather geared towards cakes and toasted brown bread. I mean brown toasts, plus roasted peanuts and sesame, halva, those things.. Mouth (neat): extremely fruity, with a lot of mandarin and strawberry flavour, chewy fruit candies, marshmallows, bubblegum… In the background, a little leather and tobacco are bringing some bitterness. With water:  the PX kept behaving, that's nice. Not many changes, just a little spiciness and perhaps more citrus at the massive fruit section. Finish: long, on the same flavours. Some unexpected smokiness in the aftertaste. Comments: these days they really manage to make a six years old taste like a ten years old. With the rise in interest rates, that's even better – as long as they don't play it 'NAS'. Surprisingly good.

SGP:641 - 85 points.

Glenallachie 8 yo 2012/2021 (66.3%, The Art Collection, Italy, First fill sherry butt, cask #900026, 270 bottles)

Glenallachie 8 yo 2012/2021 (66.3%, The Art Collection, Italy, First fill sherry butt, cask #900026, 270 bottles) Four stars
Lovely artwork by Franco Gasparri on this one. Colour: light amber. Nose: we really aren't that far from young Octave, it's just that this quasi-lethal strength makes it hard to be nosed serenely and with no fear. Plankish, but that's to be expected at 66%. With water: gets dry, on dry brown beers, chocolate, coffee, savoury sauces and indeed some varnish.  Mouth (neat): very creamy, oily, and yet tart, on concentrated lemon juice and, well, a feeling of downing some melissa essential oil. With water: really good and indeed, extremely close to the Claxton's, just a tad drier once more, with a tobacco-y bitterness and some black tea and chocolate. Perhaps was it an oloroso cask this time. Finish: notes of walnut liqueur and more chocolate and coffee. A little Starbucksian, just infinitely better (apparently, they just launched some chocolate-flavoured coffee 'inspired by nostalgic summer moments' – can't make that up.) Comments: textbook modern work with good wood and a young rather flawless distillate.

SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glenallachie 2011/2022 'Cuvée Cask Finish' (54.9%, OB, Kirsch Import)

Glenallachie 2011/2022 'Cuvée Cask Finish' (54.9%, OB, Kirsch Import) Four stars
This little Glenallachie was finished in three different kinds of casks, not successively I would imagine, namely PX puncheons, Madeira barriques and Port pipes. Colour: a little pink/apricotty, that's the Port. If you're into wine, say this is the colour of most Rosés des Riceys, slightly 'oeil de perdrix' (partridge eye). Nose: perhaps the best sangria ever – and the strongest. I'm surprised this seems to work very well. Blood oranges, peonies, some bread dough, touches of cherries (kriek beer), pears, bananas… Very nice balance between those woods, rather without those small berries that red wine may impart and that, in my book, don't quite belong in whisky. With water: this time again the whisky is coming out, with some breads and pastries. Malt and fudge. Mouth (neat): good winesky! Some strawberries this time, peaches, bellini, tonic water (it's a little fizzy in a way)… With water: seriously, you could almost call this a Scottish Spritz. Good fun. Finish: more Spritz, plus grasses. Pink grapefruit in the aftertaste, I would say plus a little sweet pepper. Comments: this would be more reminiscent of 'nostalgic summer moments' than Starbucks' latest. We keep cruising along the 85-line.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Last one :

Glenallachie 13 yo 2008/2021 (56.8%, North Star Spirits, sherry butt, 690 bottles)

Glenallachie 13 yo 2008/2021 (56.8%, North Star Spirits, sherry butt, 690 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light mahogany. Nose: on full sherry mode, Mars bars, pecan pie, metal polish and gunpowder (not S.), walnut cake, cappuccino, cigars, hoisin sauce, sweet Texan BBQ sauce… With water: real artisan chocolate (organic, fair trade, saves the planet, apes and bees). Mouth (neat): rich, reminiscent of that other Distillery that starts with Glen but would rather end with -clas, drier that I would have thought, globally rather on lemon zests, black chocolate and miso. Oh and hoisin sauce and fresh black pepper. That's a combination that's working particularly well. With water: it's really dry, peppery and full of tobacco. Watch it, too much water disjoints it a little bit and makes it really drying. Finish: long and very chocolaty. The expected fruitcake in the aftertaste (loaded with figs). Comments: bordering sherry-monsterness if not monstrosity, actually very good.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

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

 

July 11, 2022


Whiskyfun

Four
more bourbon
whiskies

Four like Fourth of July. A wee session I forgot to post on July 4. Silly little Whiskyfun.

(Stitzel-Weller Distillery)

Stitzel Weller

 

 

David Nicholson 'Reserve 100 proof' (50%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2021)

David Nicholson 'Reserve 100 proof' (50%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
A higher rye content in this sourced whiskey, after the very good-not-great '1843' that we tried a few weeks ago (WF 80). Colour: deep gold. Nose: a make that I think we've already tried several times under various guises, but I'm absolutely not sure about that. Oranges, vanilla, butterscotch, touch of coconut, a little violet and lavender, a pack of finger biscuits, a little sawdust… With water: some paraffin and plasticine, ryebread, a little cardboard. Mouth (neat): rather spicy, a little soapy, with a little cologne, triple-sec, curious notes of gin, vanilla, toasts, fresh oak, violet sweets, white pepper… With water: an even bigger feeling of gin aged in new oak. Orange drops and cinnamon in the background. Finish: medium, breadier, always with a little gin, especially in the aftertaste. Oak. Comments: not particularly convinced, but it's good. Say reduced service and a little too oak-forward for us.

SGP:451 - 78 points.

Heaven Hill 12 yo 2009/2021 (53.5%, Liquid Treasures, eSpirits, Winter Edition, bourbon, barrel, 131 bottles)

Heaven Hill 12 yo 2009/2021 (53.5%, Liquid Treasures, eSpirits, Winter Edition, bourbon, barrel, 131 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: varnish, kirschwasser, sawdust, oranges, cut apples… It doesn't talk much this far, but water should wake it up. With water: not the first time that I'm finding one of these Heaven Hills rather malty and doughy. Very nice notes of pancake, with the obligatory maple syrup (or pancake sauce). Touches of fresh teak (new garden furniture). Mouth (neat): marmalade, nutmeg and cinnamon, those violets (sweets, crystallised petals…), touch of grapefruits… What's really excellent with these indie bottlings is that they would rather display less straight oak. Some liquorice. With water: some preserved fruits coming out, wholegrain bread, tiny touches of rye. Finish: medium, with ripe apples perhaps. Those violets in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps a little less impressive than an earlier HH by Liquid Treasures (2009/2019, WF 88) but still really good, in my opinion. Careful with the amount of water you add, having said that, it's probably not the best swimmer ever.

SGP:651 - 85 points.

Heaven Hill?...

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 24 yo 1994/2022 (47.9%, C. Dully Selection for MustHaveMalts, 350 bottles)

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 24 yo 1994/2022 (47.9%, C. Dully Selection for MustHaveMalts, 350 bottles) Four stars and a half
If this is well Heaven Hill – the bottlers wouldn't disclose the name of the Distillery - it was distilled before that big fire that happened in 1996. 350 skittles from a 24 yo barrel is a nice outturn. Colour: light amber. Nose: fudge, shortbread, butterscotch, raisins and dried figs, a touch of coffee, even a hint of lighter rum (Cuban style), shrub, as well as some corn syrup. Bourbon for your breakfast, clearly. Mouth: you do feel the oak, but that would rather be oak as in some old Scotch whisky than a varnishy oakiness as can be experienced in bourbons. Very nice oranges, triple-sec, a little ginger and ginseng, gingerbread, cinnamon cake… Finish: medium, cakey, fresh. Madeleines. Comments: it started a little drying but the oak was soon to blend in and it never stopped improving. Never rush old Americans… (Hey Joe)…

SGP:561 - 88 points.

We said four…

Van Winkle 12 yo 'Family Reserve' (45.2%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2000)

Van Winkle 12 yo 'Family Reserve' (45.2%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2000) Five stars
From Pappy Van Winkle's private stock, I believe this is still from Stitzel-Weller. There are many stories, some a little hard to follow from here, but there, it is said that this would be 'the stuff'. Colour: light amber. Nose: of course. Preserved peaches and apricots, ganaches and homemade vanilla fudge, butterscotch, caramels, heather honey, a cup of rooibos tea with a drop of milk, a drop of chicken bouillon, a drop of miso, a drop of goulash sauce… This is the kind of complexity that I've not found very often in bourbons – now of course, if you mention Old Fitzgerald… Mouth: holy Suzy! This talks, starts with easy stories (some chitchat around fudges and toffees), goes on with cigars, chocolate and coffee, and would then bombard you with salty and honeyed sauces and coverings, some of Asian heritage. You would almost believe this was distilled in pot stills (*). Finish: long, perfect, complex, with these touches of rye (rye bread, spicy violets, lavender sweets) and just a feeling of some very, very dry and rather meaty old oloroso. I know, how bizarre. Blood oranges in the aftertaste, orange sweets, Szechuan peppers… Comments: not surprised, but extremely impressed. Perfect bottle aging too.
SGP:661 - 91 points
.
(*) Just realised that they may have been pot stills indeed.

Belated happy birthday, America!

(Thank you Dominic and Sebastian!)

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

 

July 10, 2022


Whiskyfun

  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!

 

A little flight of assorted Jamaican rums

Just as they come out of the boxes and shelves, in no particular order (but we'll make sure we'll be having some Hampden and WP!) In our book, Jamaica remains the Islay of rum.

(Sip and read while listenting to Jamaican jazz star Ernest Ranglin - photograph Toma Iczkovits)

Ranglin

 

 

Worthy Park 7 yo 2013/2021 (66.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Jamaica, #R11.11, 2nd fill bourbon barrel, 'Pushing the frontiers of funk', 259 bottles)

Worthy Park 7 yo 2013/2021 (66.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Jamaica, #R11.11, 2nd fill bourbon barrel, 'Pushing the frontiers of funk', 259 bottles) Five stars
Pushing the frontiers of funk? That would rather be Bill, I mean George Clinton, no? I have no proof that this would be Worthy Park, but no one's ever said it was not. Colour: straw – pale gold. Nose: totally on brake fluid, Diesel oil, crushed black olives, anchovies in brine, kerosene and, hold on, new vinyl indeed. It's not even repulsive at almost 67%, which I find rather miraculous. With water: lots of love. A little caraway plus new magazines, paint, putty, shoe polish, brine, olives… Cumin and anise cookies! Mouth (neat): drinking seawater with some concentrated lemon juice inside, plus some salmiak and fresh paint diluted in it. Once again, this is curiously 'drinkable'. With water: a few notes of rotting tropical fruits, especially bananas, and this feeling of chewing your new rubber boots. No stress comrade! Finish: long, briny, with all things inks and paints. Typical. Comments: I don't think WP goes as high as Hampden, Long Pond or New Yarmouth as far as esters go, but this feels like a 'solid 500' (not sure that makes much sense, having said that). Impeccable and implacable drop.

SGP:463 - 90 points.

Once again we're starting too high.

Worthy Park 15 yo 2006/2021 (55.5%, Whisky Age, Picnic Bar, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #21, 246 bottles)

Worthy Park 15 yo 2006/2021 (55.5%, Whisky Age, Picnic Bar, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #21, 246 bottles) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: so hard to beat in this category! Some magnificent overripe bananas macerated in seawater, with some coal tar and liquorice, plus fresh paint, carbolineum, and some more delicate touches of high-end green tea and flowers, which I find rather quietening (I can hear you, who said 'at last'?) Grand and certainly not 'just funk'. With water: that old fisherman's boat, the same that they have on Islay, with old ropes, tar, paint, fish, oysters, pipe tobacco and whatnot. Maybe scuba suits. Mouth (neat): what an amazing distillate, at a perfect age. Marvellous saltiness, olives, drying liquorice, coffee dregs, benzine (tsk, reminiscent of benzine), sea urchins, a tiny pinhead of hoisin sauce… With water:  just perfect, if a little simpler, as if it did gather its strengths. A scalpel. Finish: exactly, a scalpel. Comments: desert island rum. I haven't recently tried any officials, I just hope they're along the same lines.

SGP:463 - 91 points.

Too high, we're too high… It's going to be hard to leave Worthy Park… So cheer up, let's run away from our task and have more Worthy Park…

Worthy Park 14 yo 2007/2021 (59.1%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 241 bottles)

Worthy Park 14 yo 2007/2021 (59.1%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 241 bottles) Five stars
The company reminds us that WP is pot-still rum. Colour: gold. Nose: obviously very close to the Picnic, just a tad more 'phenolic' and with more very aromatic grasses and herbs, such as thyme or melissa, also fermenting fresh cane juice (but naturally, this is ex-molasses). I'm afraid this one too is brilliant rum. With water: no actual changes, perhaps a little pinewood that connects well to thyme. Mouth (neat): holy featherless crow, this has ev'rything, from diesel oil to heavy liquorice, ink, books, leatherette, tar, rotting tropical fruits, balsamic vinegar, pu-her tea, olives, marmalade, mosses, miso, hoisin… Amazing fermentary, yet rather clean profile, certainly not 'all esters and that's it'. In other words, funk, not skunk (ooh that's smart, S.) With water: etcetera. Finish: long and very much chiselled at this point, back to the core. Olives, salt, seawater and tar. Comments: another flabbergasting Worthy Park, qué alegria! The Picnic was just aw wee tad more complex, but we're splitting hairs once more…
SGP:464 - 90 points.

What are we going to do to get around all this? Take down WP?

Worthy Park 9 yo 2011/2021 (65.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Jamaica, #R11.10, 2nd fill STR barrique, 'Whole, uncut and unbruised', 264 bottles)

Worthy Park 9 yo 2011/2021 (65.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Jamaica, #R11.10, 2nd fill STR barrique, 'Whole, uncut and unbruised', 264 bottles) Four stars and a half
Sure the STR cask may have wrecked it, but it's was refill, so probably little luck. Colour: straw. Nose: petrol and rotting fruits. This one's a little 'lighter and cleaner' than the others, a tad acetic and lemony, and there's even a little peach, but let's not dream, it is still wonderful this far, but we'll get it! With water: tiny whiffs of rotting wild strawberries. Not that we're 'nosing' rotting wild strawberries very often. Mouth (neat): top five rum distillery, simple as that. Big salty liquorice and rather more menthol and aniseed this far. STR wine stays at home. With water: could be that the cask handicapped this one in a very infinitesimal way. Some very tiny fruity notes that should not really belong here (red berries) but once again (and again), we're probably nit-picking and splitting hairs. Finish: long, salty, a tad gritty towards the aftertaste (tomato leaves or something). Comments: absolutely wonderful, but the other three were stars.

SGP:463 - 88 points.

Good, I believe we're ready for other Jamaicans… Picnic is the benchmark at this point…

Hampden Estate 'Pagos' (52%, OB for LMDW and Velier, Jamaica, sherry, 2022)

Hampden Estate 'Pagos' (52%, OB for LMDW and Velier, Jamaica, sherry, 2022) Four stars and a half
Pot stills, NAS, butts, PX and oloroso, where else did we spot that already? Doesn't the world of 'aged' (sometimes barely) spirits get globalised? And what's the proper price for NAS? Colour: deep gold. Nose: Hampden, at least this one, is much more acetic (not ascetic) and varnishy than WP. Huge brine, glues, nail polish remover, olives and capers. I wouldn't swear poor PX does come through, but that's good news in my book. With water: new magazines and books, touch of juniper and caraway, green walnuts, nocino… Mouth (neat): high and heavy, with a lot of acetone, even a feeling of ammonia, liquorice, grass extract (more and more chefs are using that), salty cough syrup, eucalyptus… Frankly, I'd have said Yarmouth. With water: superb salty and varnishy development, all with green walnuts that keep it really tight and dry. Finish: very long, salty, with sardines, anchovies and olives. Comments: I find it absolutely excellent, but the WPs were rather more complex (especially the Picnic). Now, there isn't only complexity in life, naturally. Very good Hampden.
SGP:464 - 88 points.

Hampden Estate 'HLCF Classic' (60%, OB for LMDW and Velier, Jamaica, 2022)

Hampden Estate 'HLCF Classic' (60%, OB for LMDW and Velier, Jamaica, 2022) Four stars
There used to be an excellent 7 yo 'Overproof' at 60% vol. but it looks like this new one's lost any age statements. (UPDATE it's a 4 yo 2017). HLCF means 500-700 grams esters per HLPA. Colour: white wine. Nose: once again, this has far more brine and acetone, more earth as well, olive oil, tarragon, a really salty and acidic style on the nose but at 60% it's hard to get a proper full picture. With water: a lovely earthiness and some big rubber. New wellies, all sizes, plus touches of strawberry gums, a thing that's related to some yeasts and that would go away over the years, I've been told. Nutshell, pears and strawberries mean really young spirit. Mouth (neat): very pungent, very salty, with echoes of the most extreme finos de Jerez. With water: pure brine, liquorice, lemon and tar, perhaps a little minimalistic but we do enjoy Bauhaus sprits. Finish: long and even saltier. Rubbery signature, with tinned anchovies. Comments: young Ardbeg in Jamaica.

SGP:364 - 87 points.

Jamaica 29 yo 1992/2022 'HD' (58.2%, The Colours of Rum, Wealth Solutions, Jamaica, cask #6, 251 bottles)

Jamaica 29 yo 1992/2022 'HD' (58.2%, The Colours of Rum, Wealth Solutions, Jamaica, cask #6, 251 bottles) Five stars
A twenty-nine years old Hampden, they do not just grow on trees, do they. Colour: gold. Nose: most probably aged in rainy Scotland or in the Netherlands, so still fresh and vibrant, and absolutely stunning. Incredible set of herbs and grasses, bouillons of all kinds and from all peaceful countries, plus small and larger green olives. Just totally unstoppable on the nose. With water: sawn eucalyptus wood, sauna oils, pinewood, all that on top of what was already there. Mouth (neat): we know these, we know that they're stunning, tart and precise, well-chiselled and extremely bright, just like the greatest manzanillas. Green walnuts, mustard, olives, tar, rubber, liquorice, lime juice and all that. With water: sends shivers down your spine, this is a Formula 1 spirit. I'm not saying it's for every day, as it's the opposite of, say an old agricole for example, and at times you could even believe it's only ten. Grapefruit in the aftertaste. Finish: long, ultra-tight, high-precision old vertical rum. Comments: brrr…

SGP:473 - 92 points.

Jamaica 29 yo 1992/2022 'HD' (58.1%, The Colours of Rum, Wealth Solutions, Jamaica, cask #9, 250 bottles)

Jamaica 29 yo 1992/2022 'HD' (58.1%, The Colours of Rum, Wealth Solutions, Jamaica, cask #9, 250 bottles) Five stars
Naturally, 'HD' could also mean Harley-Davidson, high-definition, or heavy-duty, but we do believe the mysterious acronym means 'Hampden'. Colour: pale gold. Nose: no wait, this is even greater, with more subtle herbs, teas, smokes of all kinds, mints (spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint et al), earths, fermented sauces including Chinese ones, brines (fish, olives)… Wow! With water: like a great Meursault of great age by a great winemaker. Mouth (neat): just evident. Salted tar, liquorice and lemon juice. Extremely focused and tight. With water: astounding brininess. I'm also finding notes of sorrel soup, cress, melissa and a rather moderate tar this time. Finish: long, tarrier again. Would you believe me if I said it's reminiscent of some Port Ellens? Comments: something Bowmore-y in this one, actually, forget about Port Ellen. I find it even greater than its sister bottling, but that would rather be like 92.99 vs. 92.01, so both 92, let's not puzzle over numbers.

SGP:374 - 92 points.

Jamaican Rum 19 yo 2001/2021 'JMH' (61%, Thompson Bros. and Bar Tre Hiroshima, Jamaica, 271 bottles)

Jamaican Rum 19 yo 2001/2021 'JMH' (61%, Thompson Bros. and Bar Tre Hiroshima, Jamaica, 271 bottles) Five stars
Hampden again, a DOK this time. DOK means over 1500 grams esters per HLPA, which I think is the maximum at Hampden. Colour: white wine. Nose: this one's rather more metallic, not that funky, but very dry, austere, Jansenist… I'm sure it'll need H2O to open up (or a whole night in your glass, but there, we can't). With water: highly viscimetrical and engine-y. Putting your head under the hood of an old Jag. Also a lot of ink. Mouth (neat): huge salt and highly concentrated lemon juice. This one too would send shivers down your spine, which is good if you need to check whether you've still got all your vertebras. With water: not that extreme, but really very salty. To think that in theory, there couldn't be any salt in any aged spirits, unless someone's added some on purpose. Kippers, tar, ink, ashes, and really a lot of salt indeed. Finish: long, on ashes mixed with brine. Lemon in the aftertaste, as well as.. peat! Comments: a pretty narrow, highly focused rum that would still tick all boxes in my own little tasting book. We call these 'perfect' spirits. Oh and yeah, it's smoky rum while I doubt they would have dumped it into some ex-Laphroaig cask, as some do. Boo!

SGP:375 - 90 points.

JMH Jamaican Rum 22 yo 1998/2021 (62.6%, RumSponge, Jamaica, refill barrel, 249 bottles)

JMH Jamaican Rum 22 yo 1998/2021 (62.6%, RumSponge, Jamaica, refill barrel, 249 bottles) Five stars
I'm sure the label is a tour de force, but it's not exactly my generation. Wondering if it would suggest that this one is going to throw bananas at us... Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar Hampden, just a notch lighter, I mean also with a few fruity molecules. Perhaps more manzanilla too, more pine needles, more garden peat, more aromatics, less austerity... Well in fact, it's rather not the same rum. With water: miso and soy sauce plus pine bark and cotton. Exceptional. Mouth (neat): very extreme once more, just a wee tad fruitier, and a little earthier. But watch it, it could still tear you apart. With water: careful with water, if you use water loosely with Hampden, you may unleash some plastic and 'chemical' rubbers. I say better not and that's the problem with these kerosene-y drops, either they're too strong or you run them off the track when adding water. So, careful, a high-precision pipette is needed. Seriously! Finish: long and petroly. Peat smoke. Comments: a feeling of peated rum this time again. Wonderful Hampden, but it'll dominate you, there's not much you can do about that.
SGP:375 - 90 points.

Let's unwind and cool things down… We'll have all other Jamaican distilleries next time.

Hampden 2016/2021 (46%, Rumology, Jamaica, PX finish)

Hampden 2016/2021 (46%, Rumology, Jamaica, PX finish) Three stars
This baby's been finished in PX but I believe the price is very fair, so all is well in the best of all possible worlds. Colour: deep gold. Nose: looks like someone's smoked grapes and sugarcane; having said that, this is anything but unpleasant, on the contrary, as we're finding some chocolate, cigars, herbal teas (chamomile), barbecue sauce and Hampden's expected rubber. Raisins too, naturally, the PX cask was not inert at all. Mouth: you can read this spirit as you can read a book. Sucking your pencil (cedarwood), actual PX, burnt butter, salted popcorn, tobacco and some spicy sriracha sauce (chilli). Great, unusual fun, even if this little spirit will probably lose you. Please remind me, what is it, exactly? Finish: rather long, with a leafy, tannic  bitterness that's not obligatorily good friends with the raisins, but there. Comments: exploratory spirit, shall we say. We find it good and certainly palatable.

SGP:563 - 82 points.

We need a last goodbye. Maybe this one…

Hampden 'Rum Fire' (63%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2021)

Hampden 'Rum Fire' (63%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
Terrible label but this is 'white overproof rum', so compassion is in order. Now we've tried a 'Rum Fire Velvet' two or four years ago, and it was excellent, but not sure this is a similar make. That's what's good with white rums, no silly and unnecessary woods or wines can get in your way. Colour: white as Tom Cruise's teeth. Nose: yep, new garden hose, new tyres, new scuba diving suit, old ashtray, plastics, new iPhone, new Tesla, and gherkin brine and green olives. With water: dusts, chalks, ashes and new newspapers. Mouth (neat): we've just gulped down a dozen ashtrays and six pairs of rubber boots. With water: the trademark saltiness coming out, which goes to prove that it's in the spirit, not in the woods. Gherkins and carbon dust. Finish: long, salty, rubbery, with smoked olives and ashes in the aftertaste, as well as something burnt. Sure, I'm sure smoked olives do exist. Comments: tough boy, but I'm rather fond of it, even if I find WP's white 'Rum Bar' rather superior.

SGP:364 - 84 points.

Good, we didn't manage to go beyond Worthy Park and Hampden on this very Sunday, but watch these pages, we've got dozens of other Jamaicans lined up… Cheers!

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

 

July 9, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
A stack of Caol Ila
I have, figuratively speaking, absolutely squillions of samples of Caol Ila accumulating here. Literally, however, it is around 20 or so. That's still a lot mind you, so we'll just crack on and do battle…

 

Caol Ila 7 yo 2014/2021 (49.5%, South Star Spirits for Campbeltown Malts Festival, port octave)

Caol Ila 7 yo 2014/2021 (49.5%, South Star Spirits for Campbeltown Malts Festival, port octave)
Colour: orangey amber. Nose: sizzling bacon, salty pork scratchings, paprika, spiced dark ales, smoked chillies and tar extracts mixed with fir wood resins. Lots of wood, but it's clean and well-integrated with the Caol Ila peat which feels in turn very concentrated and syrupy. Mouth: tarred bacon lardons doused in smoked olive oil and Maggi liquid seasoning (another magnum please Serge!), also herbal infused ointments, camphor, hessian and cherry flavoured cough medicines. Quite a lot going on! Finish: good length, sooty, sweetly smoky, more paprika, chilli, bacon and tar! Comments: Let's just say that I can see why this would work in C-town after dark… very clever wee selection.
SGP: 667 - 87 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 7 yo 'Periodical' (50%, Croucher & Co, port octave, 60 bottles)

Caol Ila 7 yo 'Periodical' (50%, Croucher & Co, port octave, 60 bottles)
A fun 'TukTuk sized' wee series from Mr Iain Croucher of North Star Spirits fame. Colour: deep orangey gold. Nose: we're in the same territory as the South Star bottling, not so much port, but a lot of active, rather modern style simmering and sweet wood spices, which works quite well with the smokiness here, going into that comfortable bacon crisps/pork scratchings territory with other things like smoked paprika, tar extracts, shoe polish and fir wood resins all in the mix. Good fun. With water: more scented now, on exotic hardwood resins, fir cones, juniper, chai tea and molasses. Mouth: sweet, concentrated, peppery and with an oily, syrupy peat vibe going on. More leathery notes, black olives and black pepper. With water: a little funkier with water, more gamey, more winey and more earthy with strawberry wine, tobacco and bramble liqueur. Finish: quite long, tarry, sweetly peaty, peppery and with rather a lot of camphor and wood resins. Comments: it's not so much anything to do with port as it is to do with rather big wood flavours, thankfully the wood is good quality and doesn't go down this cloying pencil shaving route. A fun and pretty scoffable Caol Ila, if you can find a bottle. Now, I preferred the C-town bottling by a comfortable notch.
SGP: 666 - 86 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 8 yo 2013/2021 (60.6%, Elixir Distillers 'The Whisky Trail', cask #304580, hogshead, 291 bottles)

Caol Ila 7 yo 2014/2021 (59.1%, The Whisky Exchange, cask #311507, hogshead, 251 bottles)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it's very young, but when your distillate is both peated and impeccable, that tends not to matter so much. As is the case here where we've got abundant citrus juices, seawater, capers, brined gherkins and a few salted peanuts. Pure, swooshing, razor sharp, modern peat juice. With water: takes on a nicely sooty / smoky edge with some pangs of oily sheep wool in the background. Mouth: same story. Extremely pure and sharp and vividly on raw, acidic citrus juices, salt-rimmed margaritas, picking brine and seawater. With water: again it becomes smokier, sootier, more on canvass, mineral salts and an elegantly ashy peat smoke. Finish: good length, deeper smokiness now, crushed seashells, heather and a little tarriness. Comments: it's excellent whisky, it's just that I feel there are hundreds of such bottlings out there. Which, I also suppose is a compliment to Caol Ila itself.
SGP: 367 - 85 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 6 yo 2015/2021 (57.6%, Lady Of The Glen, hogshead with PX Octave finish, 57 bottles)

Caol Ila 6 yo 2015/2021 (57.6%, Lady Of The Glen, hogshead with PX Octave finish, 57 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: rounder, oilier, more on gravel, diesel, puffer smoke and black olives. Gruff, agitated and bad tempered peat smoke - which is actually quite fun. Also bacon jam, which I often find in these flash sherry finished young Caol Ilas. With water: chilli oil, paprika, canvass, tar and salt-cured meats. Mouth: yup, smoky bacon crisps, tarry rope, iodine and camphor. Also pickling juices and black pepper with an encroaching sawdust note. With water: still very punchy with this feeling of chilli-infused peat smoke (or peat smoked chillies) and also earthy and vegetal aspects too. Fun but a bit disjointed. Finish: rather long, on tarry rope, bitumen, plaster, smoked chilli and seawater. Comments: a brute. Lots of fun but in the end a bit tiring.
SPG: 478 - 80 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 8 yo 2013/2021 (60.6%, Elixir Distillers 'The Whisky Trail', cask #304580, hogshead, 291 bottles)

Caol Ila 8 yo 2013/2021 (60.6%, Elixir Distillers 'The Whisky Trail', cask #304580, hogshead, 291 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: was this an ex-sherry hogshead at some point? There's some distant feeling of earthiness, smoked beef and game stock. I also find wee leather and tobacco touches along with smoked paprika and some dried herbs. A little left field and a departure from many other Caol Ilas of similar age. With water: more chiselled and saline now. A lot of seawater, olive brine, frying pancetta and a dab of iodine. Mouth: same feeling of very distant sherry influence. Lean mineral, leathery notes with hints of smoked dark chocolate, chilli powder, game salami, mineral oil, boot polish and tarred rope. Big, fat, greasy kiln smoke and coal scuttle impressions. With water: fatter, broader and more rounded. A softer and more peppery peat smoke and a whole lot more medicinal vibes coming through. Excellent! Finish: long, deeply tarry, nicely fishy, very salty and with more pickles, brined olives and smoked chillies. Comments: a deviant, yet excellent young Caol Ila. Love this rather salty, animalistic sherry 'feeling'.
SGP: 467 - 87 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 9 yo 2012/2021 (58.3%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #311196, hogshead + Xynisteri White wine finish, 307 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2012/2021 (58.3%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #311196, hogshead + Xynisteri White wine finish, 307 bottles)
Xynisteri being the main white grape from Cyprus, I don't have any experience tasting it as a wine, but Caol Ila + dry white wine is a tad scary… Colour: bright straw. Nose: so far all feels quite comfortable and classical with this modern ashy smokiness, citrus juices seawater and a surprisingly floral side that brings to mind gorse flower, heather and pollen. Very attractive and rather elegant. With water: crushed seashells, dried seaweed, beach sand and rockpools. A more fragrant and nicely coastal example I would say. Mouth: I couldn't tell you if there was much influence from the wine case, it's still a pretty straight Caol Ila. Lots of pickling malt vinegar, chip fat, green peppercorns in brine, anchovy paste and things like pickled tarragon and lemon juice on oysters. Very coastal and bright. With water: anchovies again, smoked olive oil, sandalwood, a little hessian and wee sooty and inky touches. Finish: long, getting grassier now, on lemongrass and preserved lemons with some capers and green olive notes coming though in the aftertaste. Comments: It's true that we're often comparing some of these bone-dry Caol Ilas to similarly taut and bone-dry white wines, so perhaps it's not such a scary mix after all? Yes, Angus at the keyboard.
SGP: 366 - 87 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2022 (57.5%, Whisky Nerds, cask #5846, sherry hogshead, 326 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2022 (57.5%, Whisky Nerds, cask #5846, sherry hogshead, 326 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: flinty, earthy and gamey in profile. Lots of impressions of gun metal, toolbox rags, copper coins, natural tar and wee animalistic aspects. I'm very much a fan of this style. Also rather a lot of soot, peppery peat smoke and charcoal embers. With water: a little sweeter now with some treacle, cough syrups and menthol tobacco notes. Mouth: natural tar, black pepper, cured game meats, frying pancetta and smoked red chilli. Modern style and very good. With water: gets more resinous, more salty and earthier. A slightly dirty smokiness, black olives in brine, tarry rope and camphor. Finish: long, tarry, earthy, salty and full of salted liquorice and anchovy paste. Comments: modern sherry and modern peat that tango well together. Another excellent one.
SGP: 576 - 87 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2021 (61.9%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #300162, sherry butt, 612 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2011/2021 (61.9%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #300162, sherry butt, 612 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: very tight and pure, on spirit vinegar, seawater and mercurochrome. A handful of green olives bobbing in brine and some more fragrant touches of pink sea salt and mineral salts. Totally distillate driven! With water: much more towards this fragrant side now, more of these lovely bath and mineral salt vibes, more dried seaweed, gentler medical embrocations and feelings of beach sand and driftwood. Mouth: same feeling of singularity and purity, but there's also weight and texture in the mouth which is the perfect foil that prevents it tipping over into total austerity. Feelings of smoked olive oil and kipper smoke. With water: a little fatter, sootier, peatier and more on things like shellfish, pasta water and umami paste. Finish: long, rather tarry now, still pretty saline, on pickling juices, ointments and salted liquorice. Comments: straddles a few different profiles that can be found within modern Caol Ila. A lovely example which rewards a little patience and a carefully deployed pipette.
SGP: 366 - 88 points. 

 

 

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2021 (57.9%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #319920, hogshead, 317 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2021 (57.9%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #319920, hogshead, 317 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: immediately sweeter and rounder, although this is still another pure profile overall, it's just that after that butt… some wonderful shoreline aromas, mineral salts, gorse flower, dried herbs, eucalyptus oils, tiger balm and putty. With water: gets saltier, more umami and a few notes of malt vinegar on some hot chips with smoked sea salt. Mouth: again just a notch sweeter, more towards salted honey, a drop of petrol, some citrus juices, tea tree oil, wintergreen and pickled tarragon. Drops of iodine, camphor and tarry rope. Love this profile. With water: a drop of limoncello on an oyster. Tar extracts, hessian, mineral oils, shoe polish, peat embers and green peppercorns in brine. Finish: long, peaty, slightly mentholated and piney, back towards gorse flowers, embrocations and all sorts of coastal 'stuff'. Comments: sweeter overall than the 2011, but with that comes more roundness and a little more complex peat flavour. Love this one just as much! Eminently pleasurable juice for beach bonfires and the like.
SGP: 566 - 88 points.

 

 

I think that's enough for today. We'll try and do the rest in time for next weekend. Slante!

 

 

 

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

 

July 8, 2022


Whiskyfun

Bruichladdich bonus, some Lochindaal

Lochindaal is smoky Bruichladdich, made from peated malt sourced from Bairds' on the mainland. They started making this variant in 2007, it was supposed to sit between the ubiquitous Port Charlotte and Octomore as far as 'ppms peat' were concerned. Those Lochindaals have now been coming out for quite a handful of years. (Picture, 2006, the Drambusters flying over Loch Indaal)

 

 

Loch Indaal 10 yo 2007/2018 (63.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #3413, 244 bottles)

Loch Indaal 10 yo 2007/2018 (63.3%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, hogshead, cask #3413, 244 bottles) Four stars
Loch Indaal is Lochindaal all right, but let's remember that there used to be, indeed, a Loch Indaal Distillery in Port Charlotte, closed in 1929 and sometimes also named Port Charlotte Distillery. This one should cruise at 50ppm, like. Colour: straw. Nose: nosing last night's barbecue and ashtrays. Very strong and rough, but water will help. With water: white vinegar and many more ashes, chalk, burnt plastics and a lot of grey pepper. This baby would unblock anything, including our noses. Mouth (neat): raw, brutal  peat that would tear your head off. Quick, water: welcome to relative civilisation. Concentrated lemon juice, ashes, gherkins, then salted limoncello and drops of tabasco. Finish: very long, spicy, almost on jalapenos kept in seawater. With ashes. Rounder, sweeter aftertaste. Comments: it's not that it would make Ardbeg taste like Glenkinchie, but you get the picture. Looks like most of those ppms in the barley went into the spirit this time.
SGP:458 - 86 points.

Lochindaal 12 yo 2007/2020 (55.5%, The Cask Whisperer, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #7003368, 269 bottles)

Lochindaal 12 yo 2007/2020 (55.5%, The Cask Whisperer, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #7003368, 269 bottles) Four stars
This from Big Jim McEwan's own private stock. Colour: straw. Nose: very similar whisky, with a similar quantity of full ashtrays, while many guests have been smoking cigars. Some tyres may have been burnt too. With water: same as above, same whisky as the Blackadder. Mouth (neat): same whisky as the Blackadder, really. Big ashes, chillies, peppers and whatnot, it's good that we've got an extinguisher in Château WF's private kitchen. With water: same gherkins, ashes, samphires and capers, tabasco, Worcester sauce, sriracha and stuff… Finish: even some harissa, mind you. Long punchy finish. Comments: these heavy ashes would sometimes glue your tongue to your palate, be careful! But I still like this a lot, call me a masochist if you like.

SGP:458 - 86 points.

Lochindaal 13 yo 2007/2021 (57.1%, Watt Whisky, barrel, 254 bottles)

Lochindaal 13 yo 2007/2021 (57.1%, Watt Whisky, barrel, 254 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: well, this one's different, with more old white wines, chalks, mashed potatoes and turnips, plasticine, cream cheese (hey Suzy! Sorry, an FZ thing), dried mushrooms, sesame oil, Maggi, soy sauce, lovage… Some lovely chemical degradation must have taken place here, with some molecules having gone really wild… With water: yoghurt sauce, Turkish-style, plus crushed fern leaves and new plastics, new sneakers, new iPhone (watch your battery, don't upgrade the OS too fast)… Mouth (neat): just excellent, piney, tight, extremely lemony, very ashy, austere, grassy… A lot of mesclun in there, rocket salad... With water: there, more ashes again, also crunching pine needles while sipping Zwack Unicum. Yeah I know Google is not our friend, but what choice do we have? Finish: rather long; gentler, on tangerine liqueur and a civilised smokiness this time. Comments: this barrel deserves a medal; I hope they haven't burnt it down or shipped it to the nearest garden centre already.
SGP:567 - 89 points.

Lochindaal 2007/2019 (58.1%, Malts of Scotland, cask #MoS 19016, 282 bottles)

Lochindaal 2007/2019 (58.1%, Malts of Scotland, cask #MoS 19016, 282 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: back to ashes, ashtrays, fireplaces, barbecues and old chimneys. Plus some kind of vinegary porridge, with slices of ripe bananas inside. With water: white vinegar, muscadet, fresh paint, putty, benzine and carbolineum. Actually, some sides remind us of Port Ellen, even if this has strictly nothing to do with Port Ellen, starting with the maltings. Mouth (neat): extremely pungent and tight, with a good litre of concentrated lemon juice, a kilogram of salmiak and bags and bags of ashes. Say peat ashes from the kiln, that's more romantic. With water: between the excellent Watt and the others. Good chilli sauce infused with ashes. Finish: long, with a little cardboard, otherwise salty things and stuffs, plus tar. Comments: we've just downed the content of yet another ashtray and liked that experience very much. Once again, I may have to go see a shrimp, any recommendations?

SGP:468 - 87 points.

Right, I have the feeling that we may need to put an end to this Bruichladdich madness. We've got around thirty or forty PCs yet to try, but we'll do that later, for sufficient for the day is its evil. Right, a very last Lochindaal then, please…

Lochindaal 10 yo 2010/2021 (53.8%, The Whisky Agency, barrel, 232 bottles)

Lochindaal 10 yo 2010/2021 (53.8%, The Whisky Agency, barrel, 232 bottles) Three stars
Good, after all those 2007s, time to try another vintage, they may have improved a few things (we do believe in progress at WF Towerz). Colour: white wine. Nose: sweeter and, seemingly, less ashy and smoky. Bonbons, apple juice, pears and only then the expected ashes. The jury's still out… With water: porridge, oatcakes, sour cream, yoghurt, chalk, wool, sourdough… eh? Mouth (neat): young raw peat, rather ala Loch Lomond (well their peated variants). Very big pepper and grasses. With water: lemon, porridge, ashes, cardboard, salted dough, cigarette ashes… Finish: medium, ashy. Grass juice. Comments: fine drop, perhaps with sauerkraut?
SGP: 367- 81 points.

Have a good day/night.

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

 

July 7, 2022


Whiskyfun

Much Laddie, Part Two

As it says…

(Picture, potted plant at Bruichladdich Distillery, mid-2000s)


Laddie

 

Bruichladdich 9 yo 2010/2020 (64.2%, Artful Dodger, Rivesaltes cask, cask # R18/3240001, 371 bottles)

Bruichladdich 9 yo 2010/2020 (64.2%, Artful Dodger, Rivesaltes cask, cask # R18/3240001, 371 bottles) Four stars
Another one that's met with some fortified wine from Rivesaltes in the South of France. Colour: amber. Nose: I find it extremely vinous, but some kind of balance seems to have been found and we aren't far from some good ex-PX malts. Hay, raisins, wood spices, more raisins, ham, even more raisins… With water: big saponification happening, then we have some charcoal smoke, more raisins, oak essence, caraway and juniper… Mouth(neat): very heavy, thick and rich, but at sixty- four degrees, no wonder (with another nod to The Beatles). With water: some pepper from the oak coming through, together with more raisins yet. Finish: rather long, spicy. Raisins, pepper, cinnamon and juniper berries. Comments: perfectly fine and certainly within one of the house styles there à Bruichladdich.

SGP:561 - 85 points.

Bruichladdich 'Sherry Classic' (46%, OB, +/-2012)

Bruichladdich 'Sherry Classic' (46%, OB, +/-2012) Three stars and a half
One that I was still having in the stash. It was finished in sherry wood from Fernando de Castilla. Colour: straw with very discreet salmony hues. Nose: I remember! Peach peel, nectarines, cherries and a tiny touch of fresh rubber, or say pencil eraser, plus fresh mint and tarragon. Also big green muscat berries, almost the shape and size of a rugby ball. Almost. Mouth: could be that all those ten years in glass did it some good, as I'm finding it better mingled together than as they were coming out. Peppered strawberries (always a hit) and once again a touch of fresh rubber, plus those raisins again. Muscat raisins. Finish: medium, rather clean, this time frankly on Szechuan pepper and hops. IPA. Comments: fun young drop. I used to have earlier bottlings at +/-82.

SGP:651 - 84 points.

Bruichladdich 19 yo 2001/2020 (53.4%, Valinch & Mallet, The Spirit of Art, sherry hogshead, cask #727, 312 bottles)

Bruichladdich 19 yo 2001/2020 (53.4%, Valinch & Mallet, The Spirit of Art, sherry hogshead, cask #727, 312 bottles) Four stars
It's cool to see some distinguished bottlers partly named Valinch do a Bruichladdich. There's also a lovely painting on the back label. Once again, remember, very early batches after the reopening of the Distillery mean light peat. Colour: full gold. Nose: a rather perfect cakey sherry here, between millionaire shortbreads, walnut cookies, pecan pies and a touch of metal polish and struck matches. Plus a little tobacco and leather. With water: there is a little smoke (rather pinewood smoke), more metal polish, old coins and toolboxes, plus these peaches and melons that are not unseen in B. Mouth (neat): creamy, rather thick, with first drops of ginger and pepper liqueurs, gunpowder, then walnuts in all their guises and just, perhaps, a drop of moscatel from Malaga. With water: spicier. Once again a little rubber too, otherwise triple-sec and marmalade, peppered. Finish: rather long, with similar flavours. Some tobacco in the aftertaste, perhaps, plus stout and leather. Comments: big boy Bruichladdich, with a wee but obvious sulphuriness that's  often part of this style, whatever else might be said.

SGP:661 - 87 points.

More oloroso, would you…

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2007/2020 (54.5%, Claxton's for Fadandel, oloroso octave finish, cask #956C, 71 bottles)

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2007/2020 (54.5%, Claxton's for Fadandel, oloroso octave finish, cask #956C, 71 bottles) Four stars
Helmets and seatbelts on please, this is a sherry octave. Colour: gold. Nose: the cask imparted rather a lot of chocolate, while rather bizarrely, we're also finding that Atlantic Freshness that was often to be met… In the Laddie's adverts and brochures. Ahem. That melon jam too. Anyway, nice, clean, fresh nose, was it a refill octave, Octave? With water: more, err, Atlantic freshness. Did they keep this wee beastie on location at the Distillery? Mouth (neat): extremely Laddie-esque, that is to say shock-full of melons, apricots and, say dragon fruit and watermelon. A very good wee fruit bomb, with just touches of milk chocolate on the palate. With water: just more of all that. A little rhubarb too, plus a tiny salty touch. Finish: rather long, a tad spicier (pepper). Comments: very good indeed, and certainly more 'Bruichladdich' than many other sherried offerings where the rather delicate (albeit obvious) Distillery character is often masked. Almost 87.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2005/2019 (64.3%, Whisky Broker, cask #1411)

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2005/2019 (64.3%, Whisky Broker, cask #1411) Four stars and a half
There are several cask numbers, several sister casks. Colour: amber. Nose: Jaffa cakes, more millionaire shortbread, fudge and toffee, butterscotch, glazed chestnuts, malt extracts, sweet ale, marmalade. Good, I believe we've got everything. With water: oysters! The sea is striking back, despite the heavy sherry, which is amazing. Mussels stewed in brown beer, bigger manzanilla (En Rama) and liquorice…  All that is perfect. Mouth (neat): very heavy sherry, with a fizzy side (Campari bitter) and surely a lot of chestnut honey. And a lot of ethanol, quick… With water: once again a salty touch pops out. Salted black chocolate, that's another utter sin in my book. Also black raisins, dried dates, and prunes. Finish: long, clean, totally rubber-less and sulphur-less, more or less in the style of some of the best Glenfarclas. Plus that funny salty tang in the aftertaste. Comments: very awesome and rather flawless.

SGP:562 - 89 points.

Bruichladdich 27 yo 1992/2019 (54.1%, Whisky Mew Japan, Dornoch Castle Whisky Bar 20th Anniversary, Japan, barrel, cask #2865)

Bruichladdich 27 yo 1992/2019 (54.1%, Whisky Mew Japan, Dornoch Castle Whisky Bar 20th Anniversary, Japan, barrel, cask #2865) Five stars
Colour: straw. Nose: just a perfect, narrow in the best sense, very barley-y, appropriately vanilla-ed and moderately melony Bruichladdich matured in civilised, restrained wood. Some sunflower oil and dandelions too, meadow honey... This is all elegance. With water: a Chablis from one of the best grands crus – sure, your choice. Mouth (neat): extremely good and partly reminiscent of that old 1970 that they had released right after having restarted the distillery, just to send a message to the world. With water: oranges, melons, peaches, plums, the magic quadrangle. Finish: medium, soft, with once again a tiny salty touch. A wee winkle is winking at us (whaaat?) Comments: great, we caught a 90.

SGP:651 - 90 points.

Bruichladdich Artists 25 yo 1990/2019 (55%, LMDW Artist, refill sherry butt, cask #167, 483 bottles)

Bruichladdich Artists 25 yo 1990/2019 (55%, LMDW, refill sherry butt, cask #167, 483 bottles) Four stars and a half
Actually 28 but as usual, they rounded it down. What we call doing 'coquetteries' in French. Colour: full gold. Nose: right on an apricot pie from this morning and with good barleyness, mirabelles, acacia honey and some slightly earthy earl grey, plus whiffs of bananas flambéed. All check. This baby's said to be 'peaty' but just between us, I'm not finding any peat this far. Could be me, having said that, or some mismatch somewhere. With water: more in the style of the 1990, with yellow flowers, more acacia honey, ripe mirabelles, and even mirabelle eau-de-vie. Mouth (neat): firm, tightened, rather on even more mirabelles, peaches, and with unexpected notes of cognac. Cannot be bad. With water: wee touches of oak coming out, chamomile tea, ideas of sandalwood, echoes of incense… I would recommend a very moderate use of your preferred pipette here. Finish: medium, even more floral, with peel and more herbal teas. Comments: it's not impossible that water shouldn't even be added at all. Great, great drop when naked.

SGP:551 - 88 points.

Bruichladdich 20 yo 2001/2021 (53.1%, Sansibar and Deinwhisky, sherry hogshead, 318 bottles)

Bruichladdich 20 yo 2001/2021 (53.1%, Sansibar and Deinwhisky, sherry hogshead, 318 bottles) Five stars
Looks like they're calling this series 'The White Label'. I say brainwave. Colour: light amber. Nose: prunes, raisins, macchiato, fruitcake, banana cake, cured ham, clove and Demerara rum, while all that would not be as heady as it sounds. With water: perfect, on a fresh box of cigars and some white heather honey (one of the kings of honeys). Mouth (neat): another very good sherried Bruichladdich, this time with more spicy smoke than in most others, leather and tobacco, a drop of concentrated Coca-Cola (with apologies to the world), then salmiak and just bitters, horseradish, wasabi… With water: and voilà, sweet bouillons and marrow quenelles. I'm also reminded of some Bavarian Knödels that our friends would serve with venison, but the names escape me. Finish: long, expectedly drier, more on ristretto and bitter chocolate. Classic signature. Comments: textbook sherry.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

(Thanks Lukas, Philip, Tim)

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

 

July 6, 2022


Whiskyfun

Much Laddie, Part One

We've had some serious heatwaves here in Alsace and I have to say  I'm finding it difficult to do long tasting sessions under these conditions. Speaking of conditions, no, we never make use of any air conditioning, this is not Vegas, baby. So, a moderately long session today, let's just select a few Laddies randomly…
(Picture, some kind of high-ranked offficial filling his valinch at Bruichladdich in 2006).

 

 

Bruichladdich 8 yo 'Islay Barley 2012' (50%, OB, 2020)

Bruichladdich 8 yo 'Islay Barley 2012' (50%, OB, 2020) Three stars and a half
¾ first fill bourbon and ¼ French wine. Is the French wine really necessary? Colour: white wine. So either the French wine was white, or the casks had been already filled with whisky. Hope so, frankly… Nose: pure barley goodness, fresh brioches and breads, cakes, the wee bakery in Bowmore (it's called the Islay Bakery, S.), flour, grist, oats… With water: same, an all-natural barleyganza this far. Mouth (neat): very good, tight, focused, sweet and all on ales, with touches of pepper, ginger and juniper that would tend to come to the front, perhaps is that the European oak from the French wine? Not too sure that's an obvious asset. With water: same feelings, a great drop that's a tad too spiced-up with European oak. Just a tad. Finish: rather long, with more cinnamon, nutmeg, juniper, clove, spiced bread… Comments: it's really all only a matter of personal preferences. A wee feeling of a very good malt whisky made by a cleverly diligent middle-European start-up distillery. We may be missing the Bruichladdichness.

SGP:551 - 84 points.

All right…

Bruichladdich 8 yo 'Islay Barley 2013' (50%, OB, 2021)

Bruichladdich 8 yo 'Islay Barley 2013' (50%, OB, 2021) Three stars and a half
Same set-up. Colour: a notch darker. Nose: fruitier, rootier, more expressive. Celeriac and fennel, sweet beets, gentian (hurray!) and whiffs of wee white pineapples. Hold on, viognier? With water: back to breads, grist and oats, plus white pepper. An unexpected turn of events. Mouth (neat): once again, a fruitier version after the 2012, with more jelly babies after the ginger mints and cinnamon. With water: same as the 2012. Finish: same, with some hot spices coming to the front. Comments: not much to add. This one's very marginally fruitier, but it'll all depend on the amount and type of water you'll be using. Let's make this clear though, I think they are great drops!

SGP:551 - 84 points.

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2009 (53.6%, OB, private cask, Alan Robinson, sherry bloodtub, cask #1937)

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2009 (53.6%, OB, private cask, Alan Robinson, sherry bloodtub, cask #1937) Four stars and a half
Good, we'll give it away. Our friend Alan first bought a sherry bloodtub of Port Charlotte '01 while on Islay. After only a few years, in 2009, he did let it be bottled, with incommensurable results. Subsequently, he did let that now empty bloodtub be filled with some Laddie new make, then aged for ten years, and the end result is what we're about to taste. It's not too often that we can try two different whiskies from the very same cask, mind you. Colour: gold. Nose: at the fair. Candyfloss, toffee apples, candy cane, then panettone and kougelhopf, maize bread, baked parsnips and other forgotten root vegetables (swedes?), plus an old tobacco pouch and grandpa's old pipes… With water: sameish, just lighter and less heavy (bravo, S.) Mouth (neat): big spices, it seems that that nasty bloodtub had not ran out of arguments while it was first used. Gingerbread, roasted sesame, pumpernickel, touch of olive oil, walnut liqueur, caraway, lemon marmalade… Big stuff. With water: I would believe it's the peat + sherry combination from the first filling that's doing the talking, a rather ghostly feeling. Ginger and coconut cookies too. Finish: long, same, spicy… Spicy cookies and breads in the aftertaste. Comments: Alan, did you let the bloodtub be filled again? I'll keep a tasting slot around 2031.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2007/2019 (50.4%, The Fisherman's Retreat, Rivesaltes French wine cask, 249 bottles)

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2007/2019 (50.4%, The Fisherman's Retreat, Rivesaltes French wine cask, 249 bottles) Four stars
This Rivesaltes is probably vin doux naturel (VDN) and we wouldn't say it's never used at any of Mark Reynier's ex, current or probably next ventures. Including Bruichladdich. Colour: full gold. Nose: raisin rolls, plus raisin rolls, raisin rolls and raisin rolls. I think it's important to add that we love raisin rolls, provided they were baked in the same morning. With water: whiff of incense, otherwise raisin rolls with touches of ground cinnamon. Those are even better. Mouth (neat): tighter maltiness, raisins indeed (and big time, that's the Rivesaltes, could have been muscat de Rivesaltes), plus banana cake and honeydew and mead. Nice grassy backbone to keep it straight. With water: it loves water. Great fusion whisky, or in-cask meta-blending, with glorious muscat raisins at the helm. Alexandria! Finish: rather long, sweet, and you guessed it, raisiny. Comments: Bruichladdich is a sponge for any wines, but control has to be kept (that last part was a highly superfluous comment, S.)

SGP:751 - 86 points.

Speaking of sponges, may we have an all-natural Bruichladdich, please?…

Bruichladdich 20 yo 2001/2021 (50.9%, WhiskySponge, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 161 bottles)

Bruichladdich 20 yo 2001/2021 (50.9%, WhiskySponge, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 161 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: rippling barley fields and Provence melon skins, with some very evanescent sea air, we're well and fully at Bruichladdich this time. Notes of light ales over all that. With water: and grist, homemade bread, chalk and kombucha. Mouth (neat): exactly Bruichladdich, we're reminded of the old official 20. This is from the very first batches of the just-restarted Distillery, so there should be a touch of peat as they first made it 'very lightly peated', but I'm afraid I'm not really getting it. The honeydew melons are obvious, though, and this is simply very lovely, and extremely 'Bruichladdich'. I'm asking you, why is it that the indies would always be the real guardians of the house styles, while the owners would keep compromising with any deviant woods they could find? Answer on a postcard, please. With water: moist orange cake, with icing and bits of candied zest. Finish: medium, zestier yet, citrusy, with a honey, orange and melon triumvirate that's only to be found at B. Comments: just impeccable and unstoppable. Lovely purity. Touches of putty coming through after around ten minutes, that's even more lovely.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

We've got many others but most are actually Lochindaals, so careful with this last one…

Bruichladdich 30 yo 1990/2020 'Yellow Submarine' (52.9%, Aquavitae, Taiwan, hogshead)

Bruichladdich 30 yo 1990/2020 'Yellow Submarine' (52.9%, Aquavitae, Taiwan, hogshead) Three stars
Forza Taiwan! As I understand it, this is a kind of tribute bottling to another bottling that was officially done to pay tribute to a wee lost submarine that was reminiscent of a song by The Beatles. May I ask about who's dealing with the rights here? Well, I would suppose those are soluble in whisky… Colour: light gold. Nose: a slightly less refined style after the Sponge's, well in line with the many Bruichladdichs that used to be available in Jim Beam/Invergordon's time (the Distillery was closed). I remember Cadenhead used to have these, together with fairly similar Juras. Yep. So grappa and kirsch, plus a little vanilla and beer, plus a touch of rubber. Not the most motivating makes, but water can make wonders… With water: grist, leather, Budweiser… Mouth (neat): ah, Jura! Seriously, this is a Jura-y Bruichladdich, which is not even very surprising. Some leather, mustard, Madeira, bitter ales… With water: more bitter ales. Finish: long, bitter, mustardy. Artichokes. Comments: rather representative of those many casks that the former owners had decided to 'Ace' (finish) for some reasons. We've tried many 'from the original woods', tough lots! Yeah, not to mention the Juras… This one ain't bad at all, actually, on the contrary…
SGP:361 - 80 points.

See you soon with another Laddie session…

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

 

July 5, 2022


Whiskyfun

Another wee trip around Europe

(Includes whisky and tasting note created by AI)

Starting this journey from France, as usual, which only makes sense.

AI

 

 

Twelve 3 yo 'Almandin' (48%, OB, France, 8000 bottles, 2022)

Twelve 3 yo 'Almandin' (48%, OB, France, 8000 bottles, 2022) Three stars and a half
New whisky made in Laguiole in Aubrac, in the mountains (1000 metres) and matured in rum casks. Laguiole is mainly known for their knives and for their ex-3-star restaurant 'Bras' (they've left Michelin quite some years ago). Colour: white wine. Nose: some fruity young spirit, pretty much on pears, sourdough, pale ale, with some expected touches of sawdust and cocoa powder, plus indeed hints of some kind of waxy and slightly rubbery yet light rum. Very honest and certainly not made-up. Mouth: it's a little young on the nose but as often, it delivers much more on the palate. Am I dreaming or am I finding touches of gentian? Parsnips? Elderberries? Other than that, lemon and pears, plus buckwheat crepes. Once again this feeling of 'honesty'. Finish: medium, with a little pepper and cinnamon, plus bitters (that red stuff). Comments: we may be missing those awesome mushrooms that they have down there in Aubrac, but I'm finding this new effort pretty impressive and appropriately rustic. And I'm a sucker for gentian anyway.
SGP:561 - 83 points.

To Finland, perhaps?

Teerenpeli 10 yo (43%, OB, Finland, +/-2021)

Teerenpeli 10 yo (43%, OB, Finland, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
Ex-sherry and bourbon. I had tried an earlier 10 back in 2015 (WF 78) but the bottle was completely different.  Colour: light gold. Nose: extremely unusual, loaded with paraffin and overripe apple juice, with some kind of soapiness in the background, linden tea, butter cream, white chocolate... It's rather singular, shall we say, but certainly not unpleasant. Very curious about the palate… Mouth: tremendous progress since 2015. Sure the oak's a tad prominent, which never works that perfectly at 40 or 43% (in my opinion), but this feeling of malt tea, rooibos, matzo balls and weissbeer just clicks. The tiny touches of pineapple in the background do too. Finish: medium, getting perhaps a tad bitterish and oaky-ish. Comments: this should go well with gravlax, or however they write it/say it up there in Finland.

SGP:451 - 84 points.

A good session this far. Remember, we shouldn't expect Clynelish when trying these young new offerings the world has to offer, but we are impressed more often than not. Off to neighbouring Sweden…

Mackmyra 'Intelligens AI:01' (46.1%, OB, Sweden, +/-2021)

Mackmyra 'Intelligens AI:01' (46.1%, OB, Sweden, +/-2021) Five stars
From the official website: 'The world's first whisky created by Artificial Intelligence used to augment and automate the most time-consuming process of whisky creation. The distillery's machine learning models, powered by Microsoft's Azure cloud platform and AI cognitive services developed by Fourkind, are fed with Mackmyra's existing recipes (including those for award-winning blends), sales data, and customer preferences.' All right, let me introduce the world's first tasting note created by Artificial Intelligence then. Colour: Pantone 1205 PC so C:0 M:5 Y:35 K:0. Nasal appendix: ethylvanillin C9H10O3 and ethyl decadienoate and ethyl decadienoate and ethyl decadienoate and 2-acetyl-1-pyrroline plus fruit doth that far the Hesperian taste surpass and smells of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues. Hole through which food is ingested: good wine and bitter wood new sawn with ethyl decadienoate surface coating naphtha and acrylic fruits and C55H72MgN4O5 if you must. Finish: raw and residual sawdust consists mainly of cellulose, lignin and hemicelluloses plus bakery bakery bakery bakery and apple cccaaakkkeee. Comments: kaos är granne med Gud low battery low battery low batt. Very good calvados.

SGP:441 - 81.99999999999 points.

Quite. Right, that was experimental. Enough, to Germany…

Elsburn 8 yo 2013/2022 (55.1%, OB, Germany, Kirsch Import, Italian Connection)

Elsburn 8 yo 2013/2022 (55.1%, OB, Germany, Kirsch Import, Italian Connection) Four stars
This from 1st fill amarone and marsala casks, by the Hercynian Distilling Co. Sounds even crazier than Hawaiian pizza or Flammekueche with durian.  Colour: dark apricot. Nose: was the wood STRised? Please believe me, we've tried some whiskies that had been finished in amarone and they had been nowhere near this. I mean, they were stuffy and vulgar (while there is some great amarone, of course), this is not, despite a few touches of rubber that would almost always come with red wine wood. What's lovely here is that it fully reeks of peonies and old Burgundian pieces. With water: loves water, we're almost nosing some old Marsala indeed. Mouth (neat): good fun. Chocolate, tobacco, some kind of clove cookie, clootie dumpling, dark fudge and darker toffee. With water: loves water even more on the palate. Muscovado, sticky pudding, millionaire shortbread and clootie dumpling once more. Finish: how would you rate great fun? Like some moist spice cake – and space cake. Comments: what we call an un-boring whisky. Not sure I'd down a double-magnum while watching the latest Zappanale (which is another funny German thing of importance); now on second thought…
SGP:672 - 85 points.

Last one, to Borisland…

Cotswolds 'Sherry' (57.4%, OB, England, small batch, +/-2022)

Cotswolds 'Sherry' (57.4%, OB, England, small batch, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
We love Cotswolds but had tried an earlier batch of this one that had been a little hard (the oak was too dominant) so let's try again, two years later. Colour: gold. Nose: all things nutty, as cakes, nougats or pastes. Roasted sesame, peanut, pecans, with a little paraffin and putty. With water: towards more putty, plasticine, even hand-cream… Mouth (neat): no! I mean yes! Blood oranges, lime, heather honey, fennel, guignolet (cherry liqueur), then more roasted nuts of all kinds, salted honey-coated cashew (an utter sin, immediate excommunication is around the corner for us), then triple-sec and Heering. With water: barley and cardboard! All these young modern malts are fantastic, but they would not always take water well. Too much H2O may just rather break them. A good example here. Finish: rather long, cakey, barley-y. Focaccia in the aftertaste. Comments: there are rather a lot of Cotswolds that I like better than this wee 'sherry', but I agree they improved this expression. Mucho so.

SGP:351 - 83 points.

A good session today, with no proper shining stars on the one hand, and no lousy makes at all on the other hand. All very cool, whisky makes us travel!

 

July 4, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Cragganmore
20 years apart

This time it's not been easy to find a proper sparring partner for the new 1973 Prima & Ultima. We had to dig into old stock… (picture Diageo)


Cragganmore

 

 

Cragganmore 10 yo 1993/2004 (60.1%, OB, Bodega European oak casks, 15000 bottles)

Cragganmore 10 yo 1993/2004 (60.1%, OB, Bodega European oak casks, 15000 bottles) Three stars and a half
We first, and last tried this punchy baby back in 2005. It was a tough boy, with a 'bodega' mention that was a little unclear in my opinion. Anyway, old times, good times; well, not quite. Colour: gold. Nose: I would have loved to write 'as I remembered it' but to be honest, I don't remember it, thank God there is this lousy website. Tough indeed, with a rubbery side that did not vanish over the years, whiffs of glue (UHU) and just raw eau-de-vie. With water: a rawish maltiness, bitters, very strong ales, then paraffin and once again 'new' rubber. Soft plastics straight from dear Alibaba. Settles down after five minutes, goes towards fresh sponge cake. Mouth (neat): very strong, on eaux-de-vies once more, glue, fruit peel (and green walnuts), plus some grappa. With water: much better, I think. Jaffa cakes, orange cake, and rather a lot of very bitter marmalade. Finish: very long, peppery, with a lot of bitter oranges and some spicy oak. Softer aftertaste. Comments: I had found some smoke in 2005, but this time it's gone. A rather brutal Cragganmore, rather for our hipflasks as we sometimes say. The one with a skull or a Harley-Davidson logo.

SGP:461 - 83 points.

Cragganmore 1973/2021 (45.8%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 351 bottles, 2022)

Cragganmore 1973/2021 (45.8%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 351 bottles, 2022) Five stars
From three hogsheads. This is from the very first batches they had distilled right after the conversion from direct to steam heating, whilst there had been the very last of the direct-fired Cragganmores, an utterly splendid 1971 (WF 93) within the first edition of these Prima & Ultima series. 'Steamed' malt whiskies are said to be lighter and more delicate than direct-heated ones. Colour: gold. Nose: these honeyed, beehive-y notes would just sell it. I'm a total sucker for this profile that blends honeys, beeswaxes, old pinewood and pollen. All the rest (flowers and fruits and cakes) remains anecdotal in this context. Mouth (neat): right at the tipping point as far as oak influence goes. Black teas, menthol, liquorice, resins and a little carboard on the one side, yellow jams, honey (acacia) and preserved plums on the other side. Some stronger chestnut honey too – remember chestnut's been used in barrel making too, because the wood is soft and easy to work with, although it would be pretty tannic, which makes it rather rotproof, having said that. By the way, some beekeepers still use chestnut trunks for the very same reasons. Finish: medium, well balanced, rather on honeys, mint, then spicy tobacco in the aftertaste. That's the chestnut. I mean, the oak. Comments: I've just seen that I had scored an earlier official 1973, the 29 yo 1973/2003 'Special Edition' just the same back in… 2004.

SGP:561 - 90 points.

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

 

July 3, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

A few rums for our chums

We're still trying to win the Worst Headline For Booze Ever competition, which, as expected, is chaired in San Francisco, CA. Please vote for us! Now the Worst Headline Of the World Award (WHOWA), chaired in London, UK, would be fine too.


UHU

Bellevue 24 yo 1998/2022 (54.4%, The Whisky Jury, Guadeloupe, refill barrel, cask #19, 237 bottles)

Bellevue 24 yo 1998/2022 (54.4%, The Whisky Jury, Guadeloupe, refill barrel, cask #19, 237 bottles) Five stars
There's a wee flag with fleur-de-lis on the label, what's that, Quebec? Remember there's a Bellevue in Guadeloupe and a Bellevue on Marie-Galante, while Marie-Galante is administratively part of Guadeloupe. Did you get it all? Colour: deep gold. Nose: kerosene and olive oil, plus brake pad dust and dried mackerels, that's what I'm getting. Also black-olive focaccia. It's true that Bellevue can get pretty extreme. With water: stunning heady flowers, wisteria, jasmine, honeysuckle… Plus this feeling of having just opened the Kardashians' own family-pack of liquorice allsorts. Mouth (neat): totally grand Bellevue, full of menthol, liquorice, salt, rotting bananas, acetone and varnish. What does the people want? With water: more, much more salty liquorice, Scandinavian-style. Finish: very long, salty and full of liquorice, with some kind of smoke in the aftertaste. Juniper wood? Also blood oranges and pineapples. Comments: sure this wee Bellevue doesn't go in for subtleties, but should you be a member of the Liquorice Maniacs, you'll just need this bottle. Love it while frankly, those 24 years don't really feel.  Hurray.
SGP:652 - 90 points.

Caroni 1999/2022 'Limbo' (63.7%, Jack Tar, Trinidad, cask #186, 217 bottles)

Caroni 1999/2022 'Limbo' (63.7%, Jack Tar, Trinidad, cask #186, 217 bottles) Five stars
More heavy Caroni from those stashes that, according to their zealous promoters, should have gone extinct around the year 2015. Right, like Port Ellen or pink diamonds. Colour: greenish amber. Nose: bone-dry leather, tobacco, spent engine oil, porcinis and truffles, heating oil, fern and moss, lapsang souchong and just diesel oil. The very high strength may mask all the rest. With water: a Saturday afternoon at Ikea's, that's wonderful on the nose. Glues, woods, varnishes, aquavit and fatty meatballs. As long as we're avoiding anything even remotely linked to the band 'Abba', we're fine. Mouth (neat): high-power glue, ammonia, liquorice extracts and indeed diesel oil. Given the current prices for diesel oil, I think we'll start to refrain from quoting that too often. Wonderful varnishness here. With water: carbon, olives, peppers, liquorice and wood dusts. Finish: same, plus tar. Comments: watch your pipette, it doesn't utterly love water. Bring it down to 55, and basta cosi.
SGP:463 - 91 points.

Oh while we're at it…

Caroni 1997/2021 'La Lune' (61.3%, Jack Tar, Trinidad, cask #84, 225 bottles)

Caroni 1997/2021 'La Lune' (61.3%, Jack Tar, Trinidad, cask #84, 225 bottles) Four stars
Yeah, I got it, this is part of a 'Cosmic Series'. As you may know unless you're in Missouri or Arkansas, la lune means the moon. Colour: amber. Nose: a much, much softer Caroni, with strawberries and nougat, then hay, soft asparagus, bamboo shoots and palm heart, and then just white toasts. Whiffs of soft paprika. This feels very high-columny. With water: good caney smells, some shoe polish, some fresh-sawn plywood. Mouth (neat): more action than on the nose, with big salty varnishes and various spicy chutneys. Paprika is back, together with a lot of nutmeg and cinnamon. A wee glue-y side too. With water: good juice, pineapple liqueur, some oak extracts… Finish: long. Comments: my mistake, my big mistake, I should have tried this La Lune before the flabbergasting Limbo. Coz order is everything, is it not. Order and beer, as they would say in Missouri or Arkansas.

SGP:551 - 87 points.

Foursquare 14 yo 2007/2021 (62.2%, Whisky Picnic Bar, Barbados, bourbon barrel, cask #75, 274 bottles)

Foursquare 14 yo 2007/2021 (62.2%, Whisky Picnic Bar, Barbados, bourbon barrel, cask #75, 274 bottles) Four stars
There's some talking about added value that should remain in the countries of origin, and I'm all for it. The only thing is that zillions of European-aged a.k.a. early-landed ones are coming my way and in your glass, they usually just shine. Colour: full gold. Nose: wonderful rubber and maize bread, carbon, bicycle inner tube and slightly overburnt breads and pancakes. With water: some light heaviness, would I say. I know that's a strange concept. Mouth (neat): extremely good, sitting on the right side of the fence as always. Some light, almost weakish molecules plus some fatter, richer ones. Cane, banana, oils, lemons… With water: the pot-still rum doing its job. It's like Ardbeg or Lagavulin, you do not need much to come up with a palatable composition. Finish: medium, good, caney. Some marmalade. Comments: lovely. The lighter Caroni still beats it, but we're really close. Oh and Res, non always just Verba.

SGP:541 - 86 points.

Uitvlugt 30 yo 1990/2021 (55%, RumSponge, Guyana)

Uitvlugt 30 yo 1990/2021 (55%, RumSponge, Guyana) Five stars
Indeed, there is a WhiskySponge, a CognacSponge, an ArmagnacSponge and a RumSponge. We hope there will be a MezcalSponge too, but we swear we'll quit if we ever spot a GinSponge. Now, a 30 years old Uitvlugt, that's got some style. No? Colour: bright gold. Nose: ooh this is tireless and pretty Port-Ellenish, in the sense that you would not find any signs of over-aging. Bright citrons, bright green olives, bright putties and paints, and bright salty and mentholy, quasi-diesely embrocations. Just wow. With water: more brines of all kinds. That's glo-ri-ous. Mouth (neat): some immense and intense, glorious, trumpeting saltiness. Extraordinary and worthy of a bespoke hymn by Georg-Friedrich Haendel or Henry Purcell. With water: massive, extremely assertive, almost dictatorial salty, briney, varnishy, ultra-dry and just totally coastal development. Finish: almost eternal, on salts, liquorices and olives. Pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: at 30 it is not complex, it's even a little simple or simplistic, but it is carved like a Damascus sword. I know what I'm trying to say. We-do-buy-if-we-can-find.

SGP:353 - 92 points.

Last one for the road, while we're in Guyana…

Versailles 16 yo 2005/2021 (50.8%, The Whisky Cask Company, Guyana, 156 bottles)

Versailles 16 yo 2005/2021 (50.8%, The Whisky Cask Company, Guyana, 156 bottles) Four stars
This was indeed distilled at Diamond Distillery, where the Versailles wooden still had been installed quite some years earlier.  Some lovely writings about that at durhum.com, check them out. Colour: deep red amber. Nose: a gentler style after the Uitvlugt, with more cakes, more fudges and toffees, more shortbreads and more cappuccinos. With water: earths coming out, pinecones,  charcoal, thyme bonbons… Do you know thyme bonbons or pastilles? Wee whiffs of salty vegetable soups. Mouth (neat): caramels and toffees, with a little pepper. No, rather a lot of pepper. With water: just super-extra good, with some salted vegetable soups and bouillons. But not sure many people are coming to rum because of those soupy flavours, to be honest, bananas and pineapples being pretty absent. Finish: medium, a little sweeter, more on 'Kräuter' sweets and liqueurs. Comments: great liquid, just forget about adding any waters, while thinking about 'Ricola Schweizer Kräuterzucker Kräuterbonbons'. Indeed, that's just one single thing.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

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

 

July 2, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Blended Scotch Whiskies
There are still plenty voices that like to lump anyone who prefers single malts in the category of 'malt snob'. There's also plenty of similarly sentiments that posit something along the lines of: 'isn't it a shame people aren't more into blends?'; 'you should be more excited about blends' etc. These narratives (opinions) are usually positioned as though they are somehow subversive, or left-field or more 'open minded'. Which is a little jarring considering blends still vastly dominate Scotch Whisky in terms of overall volume.

 

In today's world everyone increasingly loves tribes, conflict and debate, and this notion of blends versus single malts - as opposed to 'as well as' -  is pretty perfectly suited to that kind of nuance-devoid social media centred drivel. The reality is that blends are massive, they aren't going anywhere and that they involve a considerable proportion of grain whisky, which is a markedly different ingredient to malt whisky. It's a perfectly legitimate thing to enjoy, or state a preference for, one or the other.

 
To prefer blended and single malts, is not to profess hatred for blended Scotch, or to say that there aren't examples of the latter that can be genuinely thrilling or beautiful. Indeed, the more work I do professionally with whisky, the more I become fascinated and interested in the idea of 'brands', which is really a world that belongs lopsidedly to blends - a world that is richly fascinating to explore.
At the end of the day, however, after tasting many thousands of whiskies, I absolutely do prefer malt whisky. I prefer its flavours and textures, and I find its ingredients and production process more captivating. It doesn't mean I won't still explore and enjoy and occasionally celebrate blends, but I won't do it at the expense of my passion for single malts. If your view is quite the reverse then power to you, I have no desire to change your mind. Just as all the combative, posturing and passive aggressive comments about what we all 'should' be enjoying certainly aren't going to change mine.
Anyway, with what I feel could essentially be a cut and paste boilerplate above any blends session, let's proceed and have some fun with a whole bunch of assorted blends.

 

Raer Blended Scotch Whisky 'Oloroso Expression' (40%, OB, -/+ 2022)

Raer Blended Scotch Whisky 'Oloroso Expression' (40%, OB, -/+ 2022)
A blended Scotch brand from the folks behind Jackton Distillery in the Lowlands south of Glasgow. Colour: bright amber. Nose: there is a definite 'modern' sherry spin on this with immediate notes of milk chocolate and orange peel. Some gingery and appley notes behind that along with a little caramelising brown sugar - all of which feels a little more to do with the grain component than the malt side. But overall a very easy and pleasant nose. Mouth: the sherry aspect is clear again but here I feel the grain a little too upfront in the mix. Milk chocolate Brazil nuts, simple fudge and some vanilla ice cream. I would say the sweetness becomes a tad too cloying over time. Finish: medium and gets increasingly peppery and gingery, some Jamaica cake and white pepper with a little marmalade. Comments: I was quite a fan of the nose but the palate is a bit jarring in places. Pour one copita glass to nose, while sipping another as part of a highball?
SGP: 431 - 72 points.

 

 

The Broody Hen Blended Scotch Whisky (40%, OB, -/+ 2022)

The Broody Hen Blended Scotch Whisky (40%, OB, -/+ 2022)
Another 'cashflow' special by a new distillery, this one is by Summerhall Distillery in Edinburgh. Yes, yes, I'm also loosing track… Colour: gold. Nose: rather sweet and malty and easy. Green tea, a few orchard fruits and a dollop of honey. Very nice so far I have to say, feels rather 'full' in body. Mouth: this is the trouble for sooooo many blends in my experience, they fall quite far and quite flat on the palate even after enticing noses. Having said that, although this one is indeed a bit mashy and grainy up front, it does recover a little with a nice mix of plain breads, ales and again a wee thread of honey. Finish: short-medium in length, again a little on cooked grains but also ales and barley sugars. Comments: good nose, a wobble on the palate and a recovery by the finish. I could sip this one easily with an ice cube involved.
SGP: 551 - 75 points.

 

 

Woven Blended Scotch Whisky 'Experience N.2' (45.2%, OB, -/+ 2021, 395 bottles)

Woven Blended Scotch Whisky 'Experience N.2' (45.2%, OB, -/+ 2021, 395 bottles)
This by a newish whisky company in Leith (it's rather cool that my recent stomping ground of Leith is becoming something of a whisky port once again) that I don't know too much about. Although, their website says the heart of this blend is a Campbeltown malt and says this was married in an old Cognac cask for 108 days. Colour: light gold. Nose: young and rather gingery at first nosing, although some baked apples and simple orchard fruits nod towards some Cognac vibes. Simple, but certainly feels like it benefits from a punchier bottling strength. Mouth: a little hot up front, pink peppercorn, chilli oil, mashed grains and barley sugar. Still a few stray apples too. It's all very fine but a tad wild and imbalanced I would say. Finish: pretty short but with some honey and more apple notes. Comments: the apples make me think more of Calvados than Cognac in the end, but overall it's a decent blend that feels more like a chunky and functional mixer than a sipper.
SGP: 541 - 74 points.

 

 

Inverness Blended Scotch Whisky (??%, Mackinlay, Munro & Co, 1960s)

Inverness Blended Scotch Whisky (??%, Mackinlay, Munro & Co, 1960s)
An old blend containing whiskies 'produced in distilleries located in the heart of the famous Highland region', good to know. Also: 'has a soft and mellow flavour which can only be obtained through age'. Innocent times. Colour: gold. Nose: hey hey! An old school blend with a clearly higher malt content. Lots of greases, embrocations, old coins, dried herbs, marrow fat, hessian and toolboxes. Imperfect, but the kind of utterly charming profile that screams 'old school'. Now, the palate could tell a different story… Mouth: stands up well. Fatty, greasy, metal polish, soot, anthracite, natural tar and gentle touches of phenols, peat smoke and bandages. This vegetal aspect that comes with old blends and old bottle effect, but it's relatively restrained here and rather complex in fact. Finish: good length, sooty, minty, medicinal, herbal and with a drying, rooty peat note. Comments: my kind of blend, just kills the modern ones stone dead I'm afraid. One to sip and wonder at the kind of malts that must have been tipped into this. Or, just throw the capsule away and go to Drumnadrochit to get drunk at Fiddler's… 
SGP: 463 - 87 points.

 

 

Old Inverness 'Aged Scotch Whisky' (40%, J G Thomson & Co, -/+ 2000)

Old Inverness 'Aged Scotch Whisky' (40%, J G Thomson & Co, -/+ 2000)
Barcode on the front label, always classy. Our hopes are suitably restrained here… Colour: bright straw. Nose: mashy and grainy but also with some nice notes of baked apple, banana and a little custard. So actually perfectly fine. Mouth: ok, we've struck cardboard, it was only a matter of time. Concrete, flat lager, wet musty cardboard and a kind of rancid honey thing. Finish: mercifully flat, brief and empty. Comments: harmless, empty juice designed to be drunk from paper cups in Scottish tenement flat parties by people who muted their tastebuds with lashings of Tennent's lager over multiple preceding hours. Yes, guilty.
SGP: 430 - 50 points. 

 

 

The Real McTavish (43%, Ainslie & Heilbron Distillers Ltd, Chiano import, 1960s)

The Real McTavish (43%, Ainslie & Heilbron Distillers Ltd, Chiano import, 1960s)
Ainslie & Heilbron of course being the custodians at the time of Clynelish, and 'Real McTavish' being one of the names that utilised said old Clynelish as a base malt… Colour: pale gold. Nose: waxes, citrons, sheep wool oils and camphor. The difference between something like this and the 1960s Inverness, is that instead of a broad impression of 'old style malt whisky', instead you get a focussed impression of a specific distillery: in this case old Clynelish. Amazingly focussed on wool, rocks, clay and aspirin with big underly fatness of waxes and olive oil. Superb! Mouth: a little tired, but you still get the idea with all these peppery notes, coal tar soap, mineral oil, lanolin and waxy, putty vibes. Also still a lot of camphor. Finish: rather long, again on hessian, watercress, dried eucalyptus and various oils and mechanical greases. Comments: if you know the old OB Clynelish 5 and 12 year olds from this era, the similarity is quite amazing. Just the slight tiredness on the palate here keeps it below the 90 mark, but some bottles can sail above that for sure. This is where old blends truly come into their own, as liquid time capsules.
SGP: 562 - 88 points.

 

 

Islay Mist (75 proof, D Johnston & Co, 1960s, miniature)
Islay Mist (75 proof, D Johnston & Co, 1960s, miniature)

Islay Mist (75 proof, D Johnston & Co, 1960s, miniature)
These old minis can surprise you, but they can also be cabbage water. Now, Islay Mist is famously Laphroaig's blend, and many full size old bottles are stunning… Colour: pale gold. Nose: no cabbages! But certainly a lovely and generous amount of old dry peat. Herbaceous and metallic peat with sooty and coppery touches. Shoe polish, toolbox rags, dried mint, suet and big notes of camphor, natural tar and mineral oils. Wonderful old nose so far that speaks with a Laphroaig accent! Mouth: still has good power, lots of soot coal smoke, tar buckets, pepper, dried herbs, touches of iodine and even dried fish and soy sauce. Very savoury, salty and camphory with big notes of metal polish and slightly dirty phenolics. Finish: surprisingly long, thickly sooty, peppery and smoky. Herbal peat smoke, old medical ointments and more oily hessian notes. The peat in the aftertaste really is massive and quite impressive! Comments: a whole bottle please! There is of course some OBE in here but it's held up amazingly well all things considered. The power of a high malt content and an incredible base malt.
SGP: 466 - 89 points.

 

 

Black Bottle (70 proof, Gordon Graham & Co Ltd, 1950s)

Black Bottle (70 proof, Gordon Graham & Co Ltd, 1950s)
A beautiful old flask bottle with an early short metal screw capsule. I have to say, I am hopelessly in love with these old Black Bottle labels (and the glass bottles too), they are things of beauty. I am also doubly soft on them because Black Bottle was historically a 'west coaster's' blend. Growing up, this was the preferred tipple of some of great family friends of ours. And I'm not just saying all this because a certain Mr S V of Alsace may have declared himself less than excited by this wee brand on these very pages recently ;) Colour: gold. Nose: a very specifically oily kind of smoke that blends together the sootiest of fire hearths, oily engines and boiler sheds, and some smouldering peat embers. Also a lot of camphor and hessian cloth notes which is pretty typical, some aniseed and touches of natural tar and gentian. Pure old school and very much a 'slightly peaty west coaster' in profile. Mouth: once again this very old school, drying herbal peat smoke, on top of metal polishes, cough sweets, anthracite soot, camphor, herbal toothpaste and dusty old medical tinctures. Hard to know what's OBE or what's just old style malt whisky flavours that have permeated over time. What's for sure is that this feels like it has a pretty high malt content. Finish: medium, rather sweet now as well, sweeter peat, cough medicine and herbal liqueur notes. Comments: old skool! But very good and hyper drinkable as well. Little wonder this profile was so popular in its day.
SGP: 564 - 87 points.

 

 

Very Rare Old Liqueur Whisky 'warranted 15 years old' 'A blend of Glenlivet' (??%, Worksop & Retford Brewery, 1920s)

Very Rare Old Liqueur Whisky 'warranted 15 years old' 'A blend of Glenlivet' (??%, Worksop & Retford Brewery, 1920s)
From the wording on the label I suspected this may have been a malt, but after tasting it I'm more inclined to think it's a blend. Hence inclusion here. A gorgeous old bottle either way! Colour: deep gold. Nose: whiskies from this era really do make you think of liqueurs! This deeply resinous and honeyed profile that feels syrupy sweet with aromatised sugars, herbal extracts and many roots and medical tinctures. Feels like you could be nosing some kind of very long aged fusion of Drambuie and Yellow Chartreuse. I should add some very delicate traces of peat smoke and dried mushrooms. Another world, really. Mouth: feels like the ABV is now a little below 40% as the whole is in fact rather soft, but the sugars and sweetness and these resinous qualities hold fast! Sweet herbal medicines, delicate peat smoke and very dense notes of camphor, hessian and olive oil. A style that only seems to have existed up until the second world war. Some notes of herbal teas, wormwood, lanolin and some aged mead too. Fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. Finish: medium in length with a rather bitter herbal edge now, some metal polish, coffee grounds, leaf mulch and tobaccos. A little sharpness of grain whisky remains underneath. Comments: I just deployed my electronic hydrometer on this ancient wee relic and it is currently sitting at 39.6% ABV. So, if it was bottled at 40% then that's an extremely impressive retention of ABV - unless it was done at 80 proof / 45.8% at the time of bottling, which seems more likely for the 1920s. Anyway, like almost any whisky from this era, it's extremely hard to disentangle analysis from emotion. This is undoubtedly a little frail and simple, but it's another sip inside a timewarp…
SGP: 653 - 84 (pretty meaningless) points.

 

 

Campbell's Of Elgin 'Special Reserve' ('proof strength', Campbell, Hope & King, -/+ 1963)

Campbell's Of Elgin 'Special Reserve' ('proof strength', Campbell, Hope & King, -/+ 1963)
'Proof' strength being 100 proof, or 57.1%, and this bottle bearing an old securo cap reliably tells us it should be bottled around 1963. And of course, Campbell, Hope & King is an old Elgin bottler that gave us many, many legendary whisky bottlings, including arguably the greatest Macallan ever bottled… Colour: straw. Nose: much bigger and fresher, indeed the most immediate impression from the higher ABV is a feeling of a whisky that's been far better insulated from the effects of time in bottle. A rich and emphatic oiliness with olive and mineral oils, gentle notes of bandages and medical embrocations, dried herbs with a little pepper and, with time, a wonderfully growing and increasingly assertive dry waxiness. Blind you could almost say you're nosing a naked old style highland malt. Terrific power and poise! With water: gets rougher, sharper, saltier and slightly more animalistic towards sweat and furs. Mouth: more evidently a blend here as you do feel the grain component, but the overall texture remains fat, oily and with terrific weight and presence in the mouth. Peppery, gently medicinal, some light natural sweetness from the barley and faint fruit notes of green apple, pears and gooseberry. A terrific old blend! With water: actually superb now! Water really seems to amplify the malt aspects, becoming very mouthfilling, juicy, sweet and with a lot of peppery waxiness, drying medical qualities, herbs, roots, earthy and salty/umami vibes. A real thrill ride! Finish: good length, still on waxes, roots, herbs and wee specific notes of tarragon, bouillon stocks, hessian and cod liver oil. Comments: you would drive yourself mad speculating about the base malt for such a potion, but this is really outstanding old blended whisky that ticks so many boxes and is hugely entertaining to dissect in a nosing glass. A testament to high bottling strengths and ageing in glass!
SGP: 473 - 89 points.

 

 

Watt Whisky 10 yo 2010/2021 'Blended Scotch Whisky' (56.5%, Watt Whisky, barrel, 232 bottles)

Watt Whisky 10 yo 2010/2021 'Blended Scotch Whisky' (56.5%, Watt Whisky, barrel, 232 bottles)
Back to modernity in tender hands of Kate and Mark… Colour: bright orangey gold. Nose: some kind of tinned satsumas, milk chocolate, Tunnock's coconut wafers and a spoonful of flower honey. Feels like one of these rather clever blends that's blended and then matured for a good number of years to achieve real balance. Lovely playful sweetness about the nose. With water: more floral now, also showing some butterscotch, brown bread and a few lighter teaish vibes. Mouth: lots of marmalade, crystallised orange peel, cocktail bitters and hints of liquorice, treacle and sweet heather ales. Also some richer impressions of boot polish that add a sense of body. Deathly quaffable! With water: there's some sharper, zingy grain notes now, but still a lot of persistent orangey notes. Chocolate orange, smashed up Hobnob biscuits and malted milk. Finish: medium, juicy sweet barley extract notes, lime cordial and some kind of milky spiced Chai tea? Comments: I enjoyed this far more that I should have. Be careful if you have a bottle in the house, you may inadvertently trip over something and discover you have consumed half a bottle.
SGP: 641 - 85 points.

 

 

Cream Of The Barley 21 Years Old 'Matured in Sherry Wine casks' (86.8 proof, Alexander Stewart & Co, Standard Food Products Corp USA import, 1950s)

Cream Of The Barley 21 Years Old 'Matured in Sherry Wine casks' (86.8 proof, Alexander Stewart & Co, Standard Food Products Corp USA import, 1950s)
A rather gorgeous old bottle that I opened at the Whisky Show in London last October. Colour: light amber. Nose: quite simply, exquisite! An ancient style of sherry that is sweet, resinous, deep and profoundly unctuous. Gathering together stunning rancio, grape botrytis, long-aged Sauternes and myriad notes of dark fruits stewed in old Cognac. All this being perfectly integrated with the most beautiful earthy peat aromas: sweet, rooty, herbal and organic peat that weds perfectly to the sherry. I would also add that it is not tired at all, the whole being still superbly fresh, lively and gorgeously expressive. Mouth: same feelings, stunning old style sherry fusing perfectly with beautiful old school peated malts. All this aged to the point of stunning integration, balance, focus and - even at this ABV - power! You could add many subtle notes of soot, tar, roots, herbal teas, crystallised exotic fruits and iodine. Finish: long but also soft, gentle and with a quilt of oily, lightly tarry, peppery and medical peat that just keeps unfurling. Comments: undoubtedly up there with the greatest blends I've ever tried. Although, I'll always argue that that greatness is due to the malts and the sherry casks, over and above the grain components. Anyway, enough of that. A stunning old blend that reaffirms why we adore old bottles - and Scotch Whisky!
SGP: 665 - 92 points.

 

 

Hugs to Marcel!

 

 

 

 

July 1, 2022


Whiskyfun

Bunnies and Bunnas

Of course not. Now, the problem with 'Bunnies', as we used to say before unbridled branding took over everything, is that you could always stumble upon a peater that didn't say its name, which is always a little tricky when you try to find some coherence in a line-up (while failing anyway most of the time). Oh well, lest do it randomly, or rather like a cadavre exquis (the Surrealists' exquisite corpse)…

Bunny

 

Bunnahabhain 8 yo 2013/2022 (52.3%, Artful Dodger, bourbon hogshead, cask #900170)

Bunnahabhain 8 yo 2013/2022 (52.3%, Artful Dodger, bourbon hogshead, cask #900170) Two stars
This was finished in a Vino de Color cask, which seems to be some kind of sherry mixed with some kind of paxarette. I've never tried Vino de Color, but it does sound very sketchy. To be totally honest, and although I've been roaming the Shery triangle quite a few times until just last month, I didn't even know Vino de Color existed (S., boo!) Colour: color indeed, this is coffee. Nose: heady molasses, El Dorado (sometimes rather the same thing), supermarket fruitcake (no baker would make them this sweet), thick must, black raisins, dunnage, dark honey, PX… Actually, this is not unpleasant at all, just thick on the nose. With water: touches of earth and pipe tobacco, really not un-nice. Mouth (neat): very sweet, thick, cloying, invasive. A little rubber, somewhere. With water: impossible to get right, the amounts of water you add will completely change it. I give up. Finish: rather long, still cloying, uncertain, wobbly… but certainly fun. Comments: probably exactly the one we shouldn't have started this session with. Very loco, possibly for intrepid adventurers only. Worth trying, what we call moving out of the routine.

SGP:761 - 75 points.

Bunnahabhain 12 yo 2009/2021 (54.7%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #90084, 709 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 7 yo 2014/2021 (59.2%, Signatory Vintage for Whisky Bibliothek, Switzerland, cask #10593, 172 bottles) Four stars
Wasn't 2014 just last week? Colour: deep gold. Nose: all right, bacon, brand new tyres, the brake pads of a Tesla, and burning pinewood; this is a peater. It would then become gradually a little softer and more coastal, with a lot of iodine and brine. Mackerels and sardines brine, shall we say. Olives. With water: like. Carbon, new sneakers, new electronics, engine oil, plus whiffs of cheese. Mouth (neat): a little brutal and rubbery at first, but at 59.2%, that's normal. Tar, tyres, tarmac and salt. I'm reminded of the first Port Ellen 'Rare Malts' as they were coming out. Massive impact! Except that this young bunny has more wood and, consequently, more spices and sourness. With water: waters makes miracles. Gentler (albeit salty and fermentary) cakes, jams, mussels, ales… I think +/-45% works wonderfully. A pipette is recommended. Finish: long, coastal, salty, with some seawater and tarry waxes. Comments: good fun, it never stopped improving in my book. Better on the palate (for once!) and even better with water.
SGP:567 - 87 points.

Bunnahabhain 12 yo 2009/2021 (54.7%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #90084, 709 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 12 yo 2009/2021 (54.7%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #90084, 709 bottles) Four stars
Signatory again! Now that's rather reassuring… A story about tarot and an empress here, I say why not. Colour: gold. Nose: oh, sweet maize bread, focaccia from the oven, sunflower oil, biscuits, croissants, apple peel, a little paraffin… But that's old-school Bunnahabhain, hallelujah. With water: all barley, all breads and all ripe apples. N.a.t.u.r.a.l. Mouth (neat): excellent albeit a little strong and hot, with touches of varnish, custard, vegetal oils, doughs, ripe bananas, mirabelle spirit… With water: exactly. A little honey, a wee wax, mirabelles and quinces, a little sour bread, sourdough bread, pancakes… Finish: same, with a floral side this time. It's not often that flowers would appear in the finish. Comments: very, very, very good, but 1st fill sherry? Fino?

SGP:551 - 86 points.

Bunnahabhain 11 yo 2010/2021 'Mr Hyde' (52.3%, Boogieman, single sherry butt, 69 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 11 yo 2010/2021 'Mr Hyde' (52.3%, Boogieman, single sherry butt, 69 bottles) Four stars and a half
With a faithful portrait of a whisky flipper on the label, well done. This is whisky done by people who seem to be having fun, I cannot see who could be against that. Colour: extremely white white wine. Nose: peat, Swiss cheese, fondue, kirsch. There you go. With water: plus chalk and raw wool. Classic, as they say at Daimler-Benz. Mouth (neat): immaculate young peater, with lime juice, seawater, fish brine, and not much else but we weren't in need of anything else. With water: bitter and smoked almonds, drawing gum (I mean, it's reminiscent of drawing gum, indeed we don't drink drawing gum) and softer brines. Something to do with gherkins, perhaps. Finish: medium, clean, smoked pears, ink, olives and that kind of stuff. Comments: I'm more and more in favour of immaculate young malts, maybe because more and more distillers would tend to bury their makes under tons of oaks and wines. Like, triple casks and all that utter junk. Am I not becoming a reactionary?
SGP:457 - 88 points.

Naturally, after a Mr Hyde, there's a…

Bunnahabhain 12 yo 2009/2021 'Dr Jekyll' (50.7, Boogieman, sherry butt, 69 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 12 yo 2009/2021 'Dr Jekyll' (50.7, Boogieman, sherry butt, 69 bottles) Four stars
This time with the portrait of a brand ambassador. So much nicer than that of a disgusting, despicable whisky flipper of earthworm level. Colour: light gold. Nose: it's good to still have the 2009 for Whic in a glass, as both are extremely similar. Doughs, breads, sweet ales, croissants, bananas, honeys, meads… With water: I would say this is malt whisky as in malt whisky (wow, brainwave, S.!) Mouth (neat): oh good, malty, on more sweet ales, apple pie, cakes, scones… With water: careful, don't drown it. Perhaps more acidic and earthy fruits, berries, sloe, sorb… But it doesn't love water, so be careful. Finish: medium, on leafy beers, pilsners… Comments: just super good, but the ugly Mr Hyde  - a capitalist I suppose - keeps the upper hand.

SGP:461 - 85 points.

Let's go on with the indies. I have to say we have very little interest in the officials, as those would tend to be inelegantly oak-doped and wine-boosted these days. Yep, our opinion.

Bunnahabhain 14 yo 2008 (62.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill barrel, #10.212, 'Pebbles on the beach', 151 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 14 yo 2008 (62.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill barrel, #10.212, 'Pebbles on the beach', 151 bottles) Two stars and a half
Imagine, the honourable SMWS have already released more than two hundred different single casks of Bunny! Refill BB, that's sexy… Colour: white wine. Nose: this is where you realise that this distillate is totally brilliant indeed when not butchered with whatever woods. Many doughs, bonbons, fruity molecules, pears and pineapples, pack of fruit drops, light and heavy beers, vanilla ice cream, blanc-mange, raisin rolls, biscuits… It's all subtle, really, even at 62.1% vol. With water: doughs and doughs and doughs and doughs. Especially pancake. Mouth (neat): too strong but you do feel that this is totally natural and perfect. With (a lot of) water: let's not exaggerate, it's still a somewhat 'average' malty spirit. Simple, not perfect, in the sense that these breads and ales can become a little boring. It is a little boring, like watching Netflix aimlessly. Finish: medium, caky, good, that's all. Apple pie in the aftertaste. Comments: surely better than the recent OBs I could try (not worth mentioning) but I'm not sure I'll remember this one forever. Hopes broken on the palate.
SGP:451 - 79 points.

Older ones, please…

Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1990 'Artemis First Launch' (54.8%, The Whisky Barrel, hogshead, cask #1025, 285 bottles, +/-2021)

Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1990 'Artemis First Launch' (54.8%, The Whisky Barrel, hogshead, cask #1025, 285 bottles, +/-2021) Four stars
They are totally spaced out at the Whisky Barrel, which we actually encourage and applaud. Bliss and serenity lie in the next world, not in this one for sure. Colour: gold. Nose: light, cakey, barley-y, with stewed apples and other moderately aromatic fruits. Starfruits and jujubes, for example. Also some white chocolate, sunflower oil, popcorn and Viennese coffee. Shh… With water: fields and meadows, Golden Grahams, Kellogg's worst (a.k.a the best), Nescafé… Mouth (neat): much tighter and stronger on the palate, this is almost another whisky. Stouts and ales, apples and artichokes, eggplants, well this is not one of those 'gently honeyed old Bunnahabhains'. With water: herbal liqueurs but without any mentholy parts. Caraway, perhaps? Finish: medium, with honeys and meads. Comments: it was rather a soft, shy, self-diminishing hogshead. Very good, but perhaps a wee tad unnoticeable. Unlike that Artemis rocket that's supposed to be launched to the moon this year, apparently. Probably not from Baïkonour.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Bunnahabhain 34 yo 1987/2021 (53.4%, Acla Da Fan Selection, hogshead, 61 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 34 yo 1987/2021 (53.4%, Acla Da Fan Selection, hogshead, 61 bottles) Four stars
Crazy wee stuff from eastern Switzerland, which might well be the centre of civilisation. Not too fast, not too slow. We're near them at Whiskyfun Towers, we go there whenever we like, et voilà. Colour: gold. Nose: yeah yeah yeah, we're finding this profile that's also to be found in old Tomintouls from similar vintages. Baked and stewed assorted fruits, compotes, prunes, apples, fruit purées, meads and ciders, fresh almonds… Sure this is not Ardbeg, but we're fans. With water: soft wood and fruit juices, especially apple. Very soft spices, perhaps some sweet light paprika? Cinnamon? Mouth (neat): totally excellent, with apples, almonds and a little coconut at first, then tighter cider apples and gooseberries, well this one's got a business to start with, so to speak. With water: yeah very good, almondy and fruity, with good maltiness and many apples and plums. This works. Finish: medium, with a little greener oak about to take over. Comments: these softer older malts are always extremely pleasant, even if they wouldn't really rock our worlds.

SGP:561 - 87 points.

Let's have a last one…

Bunnahabhain 37 yo 1980/2018 (41.5%, WFFA, bourbon, cask #3078, 33 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 37 yo 1980/2018 (41.5%, WFFA, bourbon, cask #3078, 33 bottles) Three stars
Another tiny outturn. We like to try these bottlings because there's no business issue at all, and because in general, the bottlers would tend to drink it all (serious, I've seen that happen) even before they would reach some kind of market. We're not talking Johnnie-sized kinds of markets, naturally. So, solely for glory… Colour: gold. Nose: typical old Bunnahabhain, and typical old Tomintoul. Old woods becoming mentholy, thyme and lime blossom, soft breads, very tiny touches of coconut wine, those things. Probably a little fragile, but there, it is still alive… Mouth: hard to say. Some appealing elements at first (apples, marzipan, putty), then a bouillony saltiness which sometimes comes with old age, then just tired old woody malt. There, I said it. Finish: not really; gets disjointed and dry. Comments: these batches may be declining now. I would suppose those very old Royal Salutes would need them, rather than us poor malt maniacs, but they are still 'interesting'. Ah, PCness…

SGP:361 - 80 points.

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

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

June 2022

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Port Ellen 1980/2021 (59.6%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American Oak Hogshead and ex-Sherry European Oak But, 555 bottles, 2022) - WF94

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Royal Salute 38 yo 'Stone of Destiny' (40%, OB, blended Scotch, 2008) - WF91

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Inchfad 'Gunpowder UA' (46%, Ukrainian Whisky Fans Association Kyiv, 435 bottles, 2022)  - WF90

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Camus 'Hors d'Âge Réserve Extra-Vieille' (OB, Japan, 1960s) - WF93

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Black Bottle 10 yo (40%, OB, blended scotch, +/-2021)  - WF70

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


 

 
   

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Bruichladdich 27 yo 1992/2019 (54.1%, Whisky Mew Japan, Dornoch Castle Whisky Bar 20th Anniversary, Japan, barrel, cask #2865)

Bruichladdich 20 yo 2001/2021 (53.1%, Sansibar and Deinwhisky, sherry hogshead, 318 bottles)

Cragganmore 1973/2021 (45.8%, OB, Prima & Ultima Third Release, refill American oak hogsheads, 351 bottles, 2022)

Van Winkle 12 yo 'Family Reserve' (45.2%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, +/-2000)

Amrut 2014/2021 (60%, OB for LMDW, Tripled Distilled Conquête, ex-bourbon, cask #872, 160 bottles)

Bellevue 24 yo 1998/2022 (54.4%, The Whisky Jury, Guadeloupe, refill barrel, cask #19, 237 bottles)

Caroni 1999/2022 'Limbo' (63.7%, Jack Tar, Trinidad, cask #186, 217 bottles)

Jamaica 29 yo 1992/2022 'HD' (58.1%, The Colours of Rum, Wealth Solutions, Jamaica, cask #9, 250 bottles)

Jamaica 29 yo 1992/2022 'HD' (58.2%, The Colours of Rum, Wealth Solutions, Jamaica, cask #6, 251 bottles)

JMH Jamaican Rum 22 yo 1998/2021 (62.6%, RumSponge, Jamaica, refill barrel, 249 bottles)

Jamaican Rum 19 yo 2001/2021 'JMH' (61%, Thompson Bros. and Bar Tre Hiroshima, Jamaica, 271 bottles)

Uitvlugt 30 yo 1990/2021 (55%, RumSponge, Guyana)

Worthy Park 7 yo 2013/2021 (66.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Jamaica, #R11.11, 2nd fill bourbon barrel, 'Pushing the frontiers of funk', 259 bottles)

Worthy Park 15 yo 2006/2021 (55.5%, Whisky Age, Picnic Bar, Jamaica, bourbon barrel, cask #21, 246 bottles)

Worthy Park 14 yo 2007/2021 (59.1%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 241 bottles)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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