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Hi, you're in the Archives, June 2020 - Part 2

       

June 2020 - part 1 <--- June 2020 - part 2 ---> July 2020 - part 1

 

June 30, 2020


Whiskyfun

The Caol Ila Works – part 2

Do not expect any duds, that’s not going to happen. No blood and no tears I’m afraid… Perhaps a little sweat but that’s all, Lucrecia (understand that if you can).

Caol Ila 11 yo 2008/2019 (54.2%, Abbey Whisky, 120 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2008/2019 (54.2%, Abbey Whisky, 120 bottles) Four stars
A lovely little batch with a label that reeks of 2005 (says this guy who’s got a website that reeks of 1995, and I’m being kind to myself).  Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it is a little eau-de-vie-ish, bordering ethanoly at first nosing, but things get back to normal after a few seconds, with lemon juice, brine, seawater and smoked malted barley in a kiln. With water: hessian, soot, ashes and bread dough. Mouth (neat): just totally good and yet a tad too hot and burning. It’s not extremely strong but it’s got this coffee-ish side that comes with high ethanol in my book. With water: very good, sweeter and even a notch syrupy. Tangerines and bergamots. Finish: long, with the saltiness and the grasses coming out. Quite some pepper too. Comments: just very, very good. A sweeter Caol Ila, I would say.
SGP:566 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 20 yo 1999/2020 (48.4%, Maltbarn, sherry, 118 bottles)

Caol Ila 20 yo 1999/2020 (48.4%, Maltbarn, sherry, 118 bottles) Five stars
Great work by Maltbarn lately, what I’m meaning is that they aren’t always having the same whiskies as all the other small indies, which I find extra-cool. By the way the distillery had an excellent 1999 for Feis Ile… 2010. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s not that it’s an ‘old’ CI, but indeed some attributes of older age are coming though, such as camphor, pu-her tea, resins (retsina), ointments, paint thinner… It’s clearly medicinal! With water: hessian and raw wool. Mouth (neat): extremely good. Lapsang souchong, kumquats and bergamots, peppermint, tar… Actually, I’m finding it pretty south-shore-ish. Something of Laphroaig, something of Ardbeg. With water: splendid smoked oranges and some paraffin and light tar. Finish: tarry and ashy, and globally drier. Comments: but where’s the sherry? I am joking, it’s a brilliant Caol Ila and an obvious 90-pointer. Smart and pretty maniacal work by Maltbarn with some thoughts. Well that’s what I’m feeling.
SGP:566 - 90 points.

Caol Ila 'Moch' (43%, OB, +/-2018)

Perhaps a drop of Diageo’s NAS?

Caol Ila 'Moch' (43%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars
Trying this fine little NAS with a very funny name again (moche is ugly in French). We’ll do this quick. Colour: straw. Nose: nice brine, seawater, seaweed, camphor and eucalyptus. Sourdough and a much milder smokiness. Mouth: good, a little sweet, even a tad sugary, but this sweeter smokiness is fine. Candied fruits and lapsang souchong. Notes of passion fruits and pink pepper. Finish: medium, really sweet. Sour/sweet aftertaste, with some vanilla. Comments: an easy peater, very good, just not very deep or fine-shaped.
SGP:546 - 81 points.

Caol Ila 7 yo 2011/2018 (56.1%, Asta Morris, sherry butt, cask #AM055, 580 bottles)

Caol Ila 7 yo 2011/2018 (56.1%, Asta Morris, sherry butt, cask #AM055, 580 bottles) Four stars
Love the cask numbers at Asta Morris, they really sound as if they were… Aston Martins. Colour: amber. Nose: sherry and peat, hit or miss, rather hit in this case. Cigar and cigarette tobaccos, walnuts and pecans, leather (new bomber jacket from our friends in Pakistan), marmalade and fino sherry. More or less. With water: truffle oil, walnuts, leather, ginger and Maggi. Mouth (neat): really big and rather biting, with huge bags or raisins of all sorts and a touch of sulphurous stone (right, sulphur), as well as some tobacco again. Swedish menthol snuff. With water: raisins are having the upper hand. Figs to the rescue, while all this is getting a little thick.  Finish: long and a little heavy and syrupy, because of all these raisins. Pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, just a little fat. Water is needed but please be careful, raisins will never leave you alone.
SGP:756 - 86 points.

Perhaps one or two older CIs before we call this a tasting session?

Caol Ila 33 yo 1984/2017 (54.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 175th Anniversary, bourbon, 144 bottles)

Caol Ila 33 yo 1984/2017 (54.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 175th Anniversary, bourbon, 144 bottles) Four stars and a half
Why haven’t we tried this one before? Where was it hiding? Well remember old age is a shipwreck, as Général De Gaulle used to say (we can’t always quote Winston Churchill, can we? Not to mention Agent Orange…) Colour: gold. Nose: typical old CI from these years between 1975 and 1985, with loads of almond oil, putty, marzipan, citrons and beeswax, then camphor, crème de menthe, sap and pine resin. With water: fresh putty on a house near the ocean, tarry ropes, kelp, and sourer notes of mashed turnips. Mouth (neat): absolutely superb and ridden with tiny herbs and flowers such as verbenas, wormwood, borage, sea bluebells (oysterleaf), spinach and sorrel. No less. With water:  it would never lose steam, while the obvious oak would rather gear towards menthol and liquorice. It’s even all a little miraculous, if not totally fragile. Finish: this is where it’s having a little trouble, and that’s the oak. Teas, teas and teas, and mint. Comments: crikey, we missed the 90-mark because of some slightly obnoxious old oak.
SGP:375  - 89 points.

Caol Ila 35 yo 1983/2019 (50.3%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #75, 90 bottles)

Caol Ila 35 yo 1983/2019 (50.3%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #75, 90 bottles) Five stars
A wee batch that’s supposed to be very good. Remember, 1983 was great both at Château Margaux and at Caol Ila ;-). Signatory had a wonderful 35/1983 last year in their 30th Anniversary series. Colour: gold. Nose: very typical. Bitter almonds, benzine, ant-rust paint, fresh marzipan, carbon paper, clams, floated wood, hessian and old tarry ropes, dunnage, plasticine, camphor, chlorophyll… There’s nothing not to like so far, and that’s an understatement. With a wee drop of water: this lovely feeling of carbolineum and engine oil, as well as new books. Say John Bolton’s latest. Mouth (neat): passion fruits and small white pineapples, some mentholy wood (pine?), more plasticine and paraffin, funny touches of sorrel and spinach that only come with older age, and those clams yet again. May you smoke clams and drizzle them with citron juice? With water: you do feel that the oak was getting bitterer and that this was bottled right on time. Phew! Very lovely anyway, with more chlorophyll, tea, lapsang souchong and the trademark ashes. Finish: rather long, rounder, yet tarry and plasticine-y. Lapsang souchong running the show, and rather less citrus than expected. Comments: 35 is very old already and peaters don’t always age this well, in my little experience. Excellent catch by  the Jury.
SGP:466 - 91 points.

See you, stay tuned.

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

 

June 29, 2020


Whiskyfun

The Caol Ila Works

Caol Ilas keep pouring in, which is just great. Quite possibly the most consistent, and the most elegant peater from Islay despite its pretty industrial setting. That’s what beginners usually learn during their first years, with Scotch whisky, ‘small’ and ‘beautiful’ are notions that are not linked together. Neither are ‘big’ and ‘beautiful’ by the way.

Caol Ila 9 yo (46%, James Eadie Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 2020)

Caol Ila 9 yo (46%, James Eadie Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 2020) Four stars
A newer batch of James Eadie’s young Caol Ilas. We know this will be good. Colour: white wine. Nose: smoky grist, soot and fumes, then limoncello, kippers and graphite oil. Forgot to mention oysters. Immaculate and irresistible computer-made peated whisky. Isn’t this real AI-made whisky? Mouth: extremely ashy, tarry and smoky. Many keep telling us or writing that Caol Ila is a ‘light peater’ but that’s pure claptrap if you ask me. Finish: long, with citrus again at the helm, which is always cool in any finish. Grass in the aftertaste. Comments: all very good, at a price that’s hard to resist (last time I checked).
SGP:457 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 6 yo 2013/2019 (59%, Dràm Mor, 312 bottles)

Caol Ila 6 yo 2013/2019 (59%, Dràm Mor, 312 bottles) Four stars and a half
It’s hard not to write ‘Dram More’ in this context. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it’s still a little mew-make-y, but on the other hand we’re also a bit in mezcal territories, or there, nearing a high-brow margarita. Lovely fresh wholegrain bread, lemon, chalk   and seawater. With water: we’re now in the still house, firing on all cylin.. I mean, all big fat stills. Mouth (neat): exceptional, best quality/age ratio in the spirit world. Smoked lemons and fish, tar, cigar ashes, and a handful of winkles cooked in white wine. Yep. With water: a drop of williams pear eau-de-vie, then lemon sherbet, rapeseed oil, ashes and bone dry sauvignon blanc. Finish: long and grassier. Awesome lemony sweetness in the aftertaste. Comments: the very definition of purity. You know what, this would go very well with caviar.
SGP:456 - 88 points.

We’re too fast, really, but what can we do?…

Cl13 (54.6%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, refill butts)

Cl13 (54.6%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, refill butts) Four stars
Cl12 had been excellent. This one’s from a combination of hogsheads and sherry butts from the 2010 and 2011 vintages, so actually 9 years old. Colour: white wine. Nose: this a widely different style, with a little more vanilla, brioche and raisin rolls, while the smoke’s rather gentler and the coastal side slightly toned down. Rather closer to the OBs, would I say. Hints of Brussels sprouts, that’s funny. With water: oh raw wool and wet dogs! (We’re really sorry, dogs!) Mouth (neat): oh well it’s excellent. Perfect tense citrusy, peppery and ashy/smoky arrival, then green pepper and some sweetness, perhaps even sugarcane syrup. With water: feel older than 9. The oak’s a little more obvious, there’s some green tea, iodine, ashes for sure, a tny touch of green banana… Finish: rather long, ashier, a little drying. Cinnamon powder. Comments: awesome young Caol Ila, yet again. Were I twenty now, I’d buy all these young CIs at high strength and cellar them all for thirty years. And call my insurance agent.
SGP:556 - 87 points.

Since we’re in London at Elixir’s…

Caol Ila 10 yo 2009/2020 (48%, Elixir Distillers, Reserve Casks, Parcel No.2, hogsheads)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2009/2020 (48%, Elixir Distillers, Reserve Casks, Parcel No.2, hogsheads) Four stars
That’s what’s cool with all these good people, they reserve some casks and then sell them off. I suppose we ought to thank them, I for one wouldn’t part with my own personal reserve. But I’m no Londoner. Colour: Nose: strawberry yoghourt, remember that’s the smell you sometimes get when hiking aimlessly around Port Ellen Maltings. Then seaweed, samphires, fresh cut cucumber (yep), lemony smoke, rhubarb and oysters. It’s just unquestionable, anyone not liking this may switch to Bailey’s. Mouth: no, this is too dangerous. Big smoke, ashes, lemons and rhubarb (which is very near fresh strawberries, as you know.) Goes down too well, let me call my friends at Extinction Rebellion. Finish: rather long, with a wonderful bitterish ground. Loads of ashes. Comments: goes down too well indeed, they should add a warning to the label.
SGP:567 - 87 points.

Oh well, since we’re still at Elixir’s…

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (59.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #318285, 231 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2009/2019 (59.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #318285, 231 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: the very high ethanol rather blocks it I would say. Cocoa powder and oiled cardboard or something? Clearly some olive brine too, which is a good sign... With water: there, sheep’s wool, damp plaster and chalk, sourdough, porridge, fresh paint, carbolineum… Mouth (neat): very sweet, almost all on wine gums and marshmallows. Lemon drops. This cannot be… With water: indeed it was a false impression, this is a classic smoky and ashy Caol Ila, perhaps a notch sweeter than usual indeed (sherry hogshead?) but otherwise peppery and zesty. Finish: long, certainly a little bonbony, with a little vanilla beneath the grassier smoke. Comments: I tend to like them a little more ‘vertical’ but this sure is a great dram. It’s just a tad more ‘civilised’. It’s London, baby.
SGP:545 - 85 points.

Good, I’d wager we’ll do a second CI session right tomorrow…

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

 

June 28, 2020


Whiskyfun

White agave eau-de-vie

Indeed that would be tequila and mezcal, and maybe sotol and other agave spirits from Mexico. A session that’s long overdue if you ask me, especially since artisan mezcal, above all others, can make for a perfect malternative. I believe last time was in 2018, when we had brought back a few mezcals from the States. We may try some reposados or anejos later on, but in my book, the real ones are the whites a.k.a. joven. The fact that they’re white does not mean that they’re not aged by the way, they just managed to avoid oak like the plague. Let us proceed…

Two Fingers (40%, Tequila, white, +/-2016)

Two Fingers (40%, Tequila, white, +/-2016)
A fairly old brand, as I understand it, and a rather cheap one at that. I believe it is a mixto, so not pure agave, having said that. Colour: white. Nose: ethanol, radish, gentian, caramel, mercurochrome and vanilla – even though its white. Not really earth-shattering this far, I’m afraid. Mouth: it’s okay, it’s not got the soapy side of many cheaper tequilas, but there is a disturbing sugariness and these ethanoly notes that arrive and that may be found in just any spirit that’s not been well aged. Soon to get flattish, sadly. Finish: short, medicinal, sugary. I would only take another glass if there’s nothing else and there’s really a lot of ice around. Comments: raw and disappointing, really.
SGP:631 - 50 points.

Bambarria Blanco (38%, OB, Tequila, +/-2017)

Bambarria Blanco (38%, OB, Tequila, +/-2017) Two stars
This is 100% agave, which is obviously better even if the low strength’s a little disconcerting. On the bottle there’s an eagle kind of attacking an agave plant. Wondering if there is a political message behind that artwork… Colour: white. Nose: a different planet, this has much more freshness, purity, fruitiness and simply agave. Earth, fennel seeds, lime, hand cream, one or two olives… Very nice, really. Mouth: perhaps not totally as wonderful as on the nose, but this lime and agave combo works very well. Touches of salt too, this is almost a ready-made margarita. Finish: the lower strength feels now, a crying shame. That makes it a little frustrating, and disappointing. Comments: everything was going pretty well until the palate (including the arrival) but it went pear-shaped after that. Lacks knack, but it still destroyed the Two Fingers.
SGP:451 - 72 points.

Right, let’s switch to mezcal, mezcal is a better conversationalist…

Alipus ‘San Baltazar’ (47.5%, OB, mezcal, blanco, 1420 bottles, +/-2018?)

Alipus ‘San Baltazar’ (47.5%, OB, mezcal, blanco, 1420 bottles, +/-2018?) Four stars
There were several batches already, not all as thrilling as I had hoped. I believe this is pure Espadin (cultivated agave). Colour: white. Nose: smoke, new electronics, tarmac, German smoked ham, gherkins, burnt plastic. This time, what’s not to like? Mouth: no, excellent. Same flavours, coal smoke, plastics and rubbers, olives and gherkins, tar, salt, lime… This is impeccabile (do I not speak Mexican?) and indeed, reminds us that the best mezcals are the Islays of white spirits. All right, more or less. Finish: long, a tad more bitter and sour, more on lime juice and olives, but the aftertaste is just as tarry. Perhaps a little too much sugar remaining on your tongue, where did this one come from? Comments: this one killed and buried the tequilas. Adios tequilas, I think we’ll keep trying mezcals this time… Perhaps three or four of them.
SGP:563 - 85 points.

La Medida ‘Tobaziche’ (47.3%, OB, mezcal, +/-2018)

La Medida ‘Tobaziche’ (47.3%, OB, mezcal, +/-2018) Four stars
Never tried this brand before. It is single-varietal mezcal, in this case the wild agave named tobaziche. La Medida seem to work like other brands (Alipus, Real Minero, Del Maguey…) they buy small batches from artisanal distillers in Oaxaca and then market them to aficionados and hipsters. All right, all right! Colour: white. Nose: this time we’re much more on sour notes, even vinegar, brine, lemon juice, raw cider, yeasts, of course gherkins, capers… In short this one delivers gherkins and olives where the Alipus was rather giving tar and smoke. I have to say I rather love both style. Mouth: really raw, wild, rustic, earthy… And totally mouth-filling, as the best old whisky writers used to say. It is pretty much a deviant spirit, but bored – or blasés - tasters should love it. Finish: long, sharp, raw, a tad soapy and cologne-y but that’s the agave, and getting grassier by the second until the aftertaste. Comments: please take my scores with a grain of salt. No, no play on words here.
SGP:472 – 85 points.

Vago ‘Elote’ (50.6%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2018)

Vago ‘Elote’ (50.6%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2018) Three stars
Looks like this one contains roasted maize in addition to the usual Espadin agave. So in a way, it’s a single grain mixto. Why not, truth lies in the glass anyway. Colour: white. Nose: varnish, acetone and olive brine all over the place. Not obligatorily a bad signal, on the contrary. With water:  a very refined earthiness coming out, some chiselled coriander and dill, chervil… And distant whiffs of a distant farm. Cow stable horse dung… Mouth (neat): a tad dirty, or uncertain, as if it didn’t quite know where it was heading to. Some sugary/sweet notes, brine, varnish, plum eau-de-vie (I suppose that’s not the goal with mezcal)… With water: doesn’t change much, gets just a notch fruitier. Bits of marshmallows, sweet maize… Finish: rather long, earthy and olive-y, with a few rotting fruits (from that distant farm). Comments: very good, but perhaps a tad more uncertain, perhaps too subtle? Now I doubt there’s really a lot of maize. There’s one way to find out…
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Vago ‘Espadin’ (50.8%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2018)

Vago ‘Espadin’ (50.8%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2018) Two stars
Forgot to say, they use a mule to crush the agave! This is a pure agave mezcal. By the way, love this packaging, looks like a design for some vegan-certified muesli. Colour: white. Nose: it’s rawer, with rather fewer asperities as we say in marketing, and rather more varnish, glue and nail polish remover. Right, acetone. With water: easier, rounder, with touches of overripe bananas and only the tiniest olive in the Creation. Grapefruit. Mouth (neat): spirity and sweet. I’m not a fan, I would say it lacks depth, earth, and, well, olives. Very gentle, almost as if they had used a high column. Which is obviously not the case. With water: I think I lost it. Finish: rather long, pretty good but lacking precision. A bit burnt. Comments: that’s something you know very well when you distil (I do since around 1990), you have to do just everything to keep the definition of your raw materials. Unless you make whisky, but that’s another story… Anyway, this one’s good but very disappointing. And the prices are just insane ($140). I preferred the one with grain.
SGP:441 - 70 points.

Vago ‘Cuixe’ (51.7%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2018)

Vago ‘Cuixe’ (51.7%, OB, Mezcal, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
I suppose cuixe is the same as cuishe, a family of wild agaves that includes the stunning ‘barril’. I deeply hope we’ll be luckier with this third Vago (but the Elote was pretty good!) Colour: gold. Nose: ah f…. yes! Smoke, plantain, roasted pumpkin seed, earth, new magazines, old newspapers (what what what?), olives, lupin beans… Yeah yeah yeah! With water: dill, fern, pine resin cream, olive oil shampoo… Mouth (neat): love this. Some mad sweetness (Parfait Amour?) and many tart and bitter herbs to keep it balanced. And just the right balance between lemons, olives, and UHU glue. No I’ve never put any into my mouth, so agreed, rather say it’s ‘reminiscent of UHU glue’. No we don’t do product placement. Serious. With water: oaky. Not sure it really need water, H2O brings some sweetness out. Forget. Finish: rather long, lovely and briny when neat, more ‘jumbled’ when reduced. Comments: no water. Too bad, it lost a handful of points because of that, but dura Lex, sed Lex.
SGP:452 - 84 points.

That’s enough. Next white/joven mezcal/tequila session, June 23, 2022. But we’ll do some anejos in the meantime, perhaps around September (I know you can’t wait). Tengan un gran verano y nos veremos pronto!

 

June 27, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Journey to the centre of Glen Grant - Part 2
Last week I suppose you could say we focussed more on the younger and more ‘natural’ examples of Glen Grant, mostly matured in plain wood. This week, with an initial exception or two, we’ll concentrate more on older, sherry-dominated, indy examples. Avante!

 

Glen Grant 5 yo 1967 (100 proof, Peter Thompson Ltd, 1970s)

Glen Grant 5 yo 1967 (100 proof, Peter Thompson Ltd, 1970s)
The Peter Thompson bottlings are far scarcer than their G&M counterparts - I suppose they were a smaller company and did far fewer of them - but I always found them to be of high quality on the occasions I’ve been able to try them. Colour: straw. Nose: typically austere, grassy, petrolic and chalky. This vividly bitter lemon and crushed aspirin profile. Some green pepper and dried wildflowers too. Very attractive for those that enjoy this more punchy and austere style. But probably a bit too singular for some. With water: becomes a little greener and lighter, mosses, ferns, petrichor, toasted oatmeal and a little eucalyptus. More playful overall. Mouth: much richer and more honeyed in the mouth. Flower honey, pine resins, breakfast cereals dusted with icing sugar, lemongrass and various dried herbs. Well balanced and quietly beautiful I’d say. With water: excellent now! Terrifically oily and satisfying texture with many waxes, hessian cloth, metal polish, bouillon stock, mechanical grease and a few more glimmers of pollen and honeycomb. Finish: long, drying, peppery, lightly dusty, minty and more on cereals, chalk, limestone and bitter lemon again. Comments: Personally, I adore this, although I recognise some parts - the neat nose in particular - might be a little divisive with this rather assertive austerity. Still, quality and general charisma of the distillate are very high in my view. The kind of bottling that everyone should endeavour to try if they want to grasp older style Scotch whisky characteristics I think.
SGP: 462 - 88 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, late 1970s)

Glen Grant 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, late 1970s)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: a big, leafy, creamy, meaty and earthy sherry. Lots of gunflint, rancio, game meats, balsamic and walnut oil. Punchy, fatty and pretty powerful. Not a million miles away from those old, dark vatting cube bottlings of Aberlour at 50%. Really evolves along meaty lines with all these animal fats, meat broths, mutton, bone barrow, gravy and leathery notes. With water: still very fatty but there’s a few glimmers of prunes, sultanas and figs now. Strawberry jam and some rather opulently fruity muesli. Mouth: beautiful arrival, slick, oily in texture, rich and yet also balanced with plenty of syrupy dark fruits keeping those meatier aspects in check. Some pipe tobacco, leaf mulch and wine cellar must in the middle of it all too. With water: drier, leaner, earthier and fresher. Some gun metal, old toolboxes, camphor, putty, mushroom powder and even some cereals fighting through. Finish: long, leathery, drying, some dark chocolate and soy sauce coming through in the aftertaste. Comments: pristine, young sherried Glen Grant. These kinds of bottlings were the A’bunadhs of their day I suppose.
SGP: 561 - 91 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 15 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, -/+1975)

Glen Grant 15 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, -/+1975)
One of the darkest batches of this I’ve seen. This one comes with a price sticker on the top of the cap which says £10,09p, which in today’s money is equivalent to £77,00. But before you all holler about ‘the good old days’, that was a very expensive bottle at the time, and many indy bottlers would release a 15yo Glen Grant for not too dissimilar a price in today’s market… Colour: amber. Nose: close to the 8yo in many ways, but there is just this extra depth of concentration and complexity going on here. Stunningly leathery and honeyed with many pollens, walnuts, sticky dark fruits and bags of rancio. in time there’s also more tropical elements coming through, guava jam, dried mango and lime. With water: many preserved dark fruits, jams, old cognacs, rancio, chocolate and a few smashed Brazil nuts. Mouth: warm, spicy and darkly fruity at first. Lots of sultana, raisins, pomegranate molasses, treacle, soft sooty notes and soy sauce. Also coffee, bitter chocolate and green walnut liqueur. Getting increasingly earthy and herbal with time. With water: stunning now! A perfect balance of fruits, earths, chocolate, spices and rancio now. Finish: long, meaty, leathery, sweetly fruity, concentrated and deeply earthy with many wee touches of tobacco, old Cognac and chocolate. Comments: … now, about those brand new £77 Glen Grants, I suspect precisely none of them would be hitting this level of quality. Therein lies the rub.
SGP: 662 - 93 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 46 yo 1972/2019 (44.8%, Berry Brothers ‘Exceptional Casks’, cask #8240, refill oloroso sherry butt, 159 bottles)

Glen Grant 46 yo 1972/2019 (44.8%, Berry Brothers ‘Exceptional Casks’, cask #8240, refill oloroso sherry butt, 159 bottles)
I have it on good authority that this cask really was discovered in a warehouse, as opposed to ‘discovered’ on a spreadsheet. Colour: amber. Nose: it’s different from the many 72s bottled about a decade ago by the likes of Duncan Taylor et al. This is more concentrated on ripe fruits galore. Baked apple, rhubarb crumble, mango chutney, banana liqueur. A kind of fruit schizophrenia. Also rather a lot of fruit jellies and sweeties, very confectionary. Beyond that there’s some more elegant sherry notes such as balsamic glaze and rosewater. Luscious and superbly elegant. Mouth: drier and more on tobaccos, dried flowers, dried citrus peels and crystallised exotic fruits. Many notes of various fruit teas, mint leaf and quite a bit of pollen and tea tree oil. Not as lush as the nose, but then isn’t that so often the case with old whiskies? Evolves with these softer bread notes and things like orange peel, dark chocolate and miso. Getting deeper, earthier and more towards lemon peel, herbal bitters and Turkish delight. Finish: medium and rather resinous, some tannic black teas, stewed dark fruits, bitter chocolate and tobacco. Comments: At times you would think it’s too tired, but then it punches right back. Quite an evolution on display and probably captured in the nick of time. Loved the meandering fruitiness that keeps veering from the dark to the exotic and back again.
SGP: 651 - 91 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 31 yo 1970/2001 (55.4%, Adelphi, cask #1036, sherry)

Glen Grant 31 yo 1970/2001 (55.4%, Adelphi, cask #1036, sherry)
Colour: black coffee. Nose: take three parts beef stock, one part mole sauce, a modest punnet of pipe tobacco and another 3 parts top quality dark chocolate and then garnish with some freshly brewed espresso! Really, this is the kind of out and out sherry bomb that seems to increasingly belong to the past. You can also find many extremely concentrated dark fruits drenched in an even mix of aged dark rum and old Cognac. All about the sherry, but the sherry is rather pristine so far so we cannot complain. With water: gets more bitter, all on superbly punchy dark chocolate, freshly brewed office coffee, pumpernickel bread, natural tar extract and old school herbal bitters. A whole dunnage warehouse of damp earth! Still wonderfully clean. Mouth: big arrival all on pure chocolate sauce, some smoked chilli, coffee and walnut cake, soy sauce and some kind of mad beef soup. Many notes of various meat stocks and reductions - seriously, you could season enough risotto for an Army with a bottle of this. Very deep and hyper concentrated. Some black pepper and strong black tea. With water: calmer and a little more cohesive for sure, but this is still big. BIG sherried whisky. Suet, mutton stock, venison salami, black pepper, soy sauce, hessian, old leather and bitter almond cordial. Finish: super long, densely meaty, sooty and with big notes of fig jam, prune juice, cranberry sauce and some kind of ancient, rather dark Calvados (Lemorton 1926!) Comments: The sherry will be too much for some, but because it remains clean throughout and by some miracle doesn’t totally desiccate your gums, I think it’s a pretty superb old drop. Not too many other whiskies could dance to well with such a bonkers cask.
SGP: 572 - 91 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 1963/1986 (59.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #9.2)

Glen Grant 1963/1986 (59.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #9.2)
Colour: coppery amber. Nose: a pickle of boozy fruitcake and then many fruit preserves and jams. Apricot conserve and also a lot of fruit eau de vies, the rather rustic kind that you can find in Alsace made annually by humble artisan marketing executives in attractive rural villages. Becomes serious sweet and syrupy, really doubling down on apricots, peach schnapps and hints of orange oil, kumquat and very old dessert wine. There’s flower honey in there alongside all these jams, along with glazed pastries and some wild strawberry. Quite beautiful and rather ‘different’ from what you might expect. With water: it’s a little calmer now and more on breads, dried fruits, tobaccos, lychee, rosewater, aged calvados and lemon peel. Also some subtle floral aspects in the background. Compelling and deeply eloquent whisky. Mouth: warming, deeply complex and again very concentrated and syrupy. Piles more apricot, stewed apple, exotic hardwood resins, satsuma, some very old Cointreau, old calvados, crystallised lemon peel and spicy chai tea. Even brings to mind things like incense and pot pourri, then various dried herbs like oregano and tarragon. There’s a lot going on you feel like you are pulled in multiple directions. With water: really terrific now. More powerful, more deeply complex, many dried fruits, earthier notes, more tobaccos, some treacle, putty, mineral oil, animal furs, bouillon stock - just endlessly entertaining and fascinating. Finish: super long, very focussed on herbal and exotic fruit teas, mango jam, lemon peel (again), light sooty touches, camphor, putty, resinous herbal notes and some eucalyptus. Comments: I feel this is a whisky that somewhat defies categorisation. I would guess it’s from a sherry cask but it really feels deeply idiosyncratic and individualistic. There’s so much divergent and deviant stuff going on, it’s like if you liquified all five seasons of The Wire and consumed it in one go. Anyway, superb old Glen Grant, yet again I’m afraid.
SGP: 661 - 92 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 40 yo 1959/1999 (48.9%, Whisky Club of Austria, released in 2007, 22 bottles)

Glen Grant 40 yo 1959/1999 (48.9%, Whisky Club of Austria, released in 2007, 22 bottles)
I’ve never been sure if this one had been released elsewhere under a different label, it was from a small parcel of unlabelled stock acquired by Heinz and Konstantin of Whisky Club of Austria back in 2007. Anyway, it carries a lofty reputation. Colour: amber. Nose: as they say in Glasgow: ‘Ohh La La!!!’ A stunning cocktail of exotic and dark fruits alongside game meats and the kind of fruity and earthy complexity you usually find in very mature red Burgundies. Mushrooms, smoked dark chocolate, miso, soy sauce, salted liquorice and natural tar. Eucalyptus oils, herbal teas and an ocean of rancio. Just spellbinding and utterly exquisite I’m afraid! In time it almost doubles down of this sort of smoked chocolate sauce profile. Mouth: majestic. A perfect fusion of sticky dark fruits drenched in ancient cognac, with strong earl grey tea, aged soy sauce, cured venison, more natural tar notes, long-aged herbal liqueurs, very old balsamico, pine wood and walnut wine. So dark and dense and deeply concentrated and thick, and yet not the slightest bit tired. On the contrary, it’s alive and fresh and vivid and brimming with potency. The tannins are soft and creamy and peppery but never aggressive. Just so wonderfully dense, sumptuous and gorgeous. We’re getting carried away now, apologies. Finish: endlessly long and riddled with tobaccos, waxed hardwoods, crystallised exotic fruits, aged teas, dried herbs and cured meats. Comments: I’m really teetering on the brink here in terms of scoring. I was at 93 but the finish was just incredible and there’s only a handful of bottles so who cares. Amazing whisky and big thanks to the lovely gents who had the presence of mind to do something fun with it back in 2007.
SGP: 672 - 94 points.

 

 

Heartfelt thanks to Serge!

 

 

 

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

 

June 24, 2020


Whiskyfun

Indie Glen Elgin at the top of its game

Why is it that each and every time I’m spotting a Glen Elgin, Lagavulin springs to my mind? But no worries, we shan’t mix both malts today…

Glen Elgin 13 yo 2006/2019 (56.3%, The Single Malts of Scotland, barrel, cask #9800010, 213 bottles)

Glen Elgin 13 yo 2006/2019 (56.3%, The Single Malts of Scotland, barrel, cask #9800010, 213 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: chalk, bamboo shoots, raw potatoes, green apples and pears, perhaps even beans, grist and pot ale… What’s pretty obvious here is that this baby is not cask-driven. No, we shan’t complain. With water: no changes that I can detect, which won’t make for some utter scandal. Perhaps a drop of cherry juice? Mouth (neat): excellent, on cider apples, lemon juice, and just a touch of fresh ginseng. This one’s good for your health, I’d wager. With water: absolutely excellent, very fresh, lively, even refreshing. Green and white fruit juices, going towards our preferred Sauvignons Blancs. No, no cat p*** whatsoever. Finish: rather long, tense and tart, always very refreshing. Kiwi, celeriac and fennel juice. Have to try that one of these days. Comments: goes down quicker than a D.T. speech. Love it. I mean, this little Glen Elgin.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Glen Elgin 1995/2017 (50.8%, C&S Dram Senior, hogshead, cask #3212, 296 bottles)

Glen Elgin 1995/2017 (50.8%, C&S Dram Senior, hogshead, cask #3212, 296 bottles) Five stars
What senior, who’s a senior? Is this whisky for senior citizens only? Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar, just rather chalkier than the 2006. Does chalk come with age? Having said that there are whiffs of bandages, which, indeed… Also a touch of tangerine. With water: damp chalk and mushrooms, with touches of camphor and lemon peel. You cannot beat this profile. Mouth (neat): I think people tend to forget that Glen Elgin has a stellar distillate. This is just further proof, with tangerines and grapefruits, chalk, touches of melon, resins and putties. With water: a little sweetness, a little jamminess. A drop of sugarcane syrup. Impeccable. Finish: medium, pretty sublime actually. Ticks all the boxes, the chalky one, the waxy one, all the fruity ones… Comments: this senior really impressed me, what an immaculate spirit.
SGP:652 - 90 points.

Let’s check what’s cooking at G&M’s…

Glen Elgin 20 yo 1997/2018 (55.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, 1st fill sherry butt, #18/003, 602 bottles)

Glen Elgin 20 yo 1997/2018 (55.7%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, 1st fill sherry butt, #18/003, 602 bottles) Four stars and a half
Heavy sherry this time, I suppose. Colour: rich amber. Nose: oh, a liquid Mars bar, blended with some perfect well-aged rhum agricole (like, say Neisson) and a copita of proper old PX. It’s hard to resist this pretty classic old style. With water: a lot of menthol and pinesap this time. Thin mints, bees’ propolis… Mouth (neat): these heavily sherried malt can be a little trying when neat, sometimes too leafy, or leathery, or too dissonant. Not the case at all here, I even seem to remember an old Tamdhu in G&M’s older CASK series… So basically, raisins, chocolate, touches of pepper, some marmalade, hint of earth and mushroom, and quite a lot of pipe tobacco. Which, I know, no one should ever eat. With water: very very good, just a tad rougher than on the nose. Ever chewed any propolis? A.k.a. the beekeeper’s chewing gum? That’s the feeling here. Finish: long, sappy, with even more propolis and fir resin, getting beautifully bitterer. Comments: loved the finish, even if some friends might find it a tad extreme. A very big malt whisky.
SGP:571 - 89 points.

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

 

June 22, 2020


Whiskyfun

High-powers Pulteney

There’s really good life north of Brora on the mainland. It’s called Pulteney… And first, a little aperitif!

Old Pulteney 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 26 2/3 fl. ozs, 1970s)

Old Pulteney 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 26 2/3 fl. ozs, 1970s) Five stars
A magical whisky, there are even miniatures that are quite easy (and cheap) to come by, never miss them! So not the first time we’re trying this baby, but I’m sure this is a different batch or rotation or whatever. Of course it is. Colour: gold. Nose: ah yes, I remember this citric/coastal side complemented with some coal smoke and something slightly medicinal. I don’t think Pulteney have kept this lovely profile since back then. Lemon juice, sea breeze, mentholy humus, soot… With water: a sublime camphory embrocation, very vertical (up your nose ;-)). Mouth (neat): an extraordinary cough medicine that will cure many other diseases. It’s quite heavy and, I have to say, immensely salty. You would believe someone’s added proper seawater, you even feel the salt on your lips, seriously! Even if in theory, ‘there is no salt in whisky’. This is very troubling, perhaps even a little ‘too much’ at times. Spectacular. With water: hugely herbal now. Thyme, bay leaves, green pepper… And indeed, salt. What a beast. Finish: extraordinary, chalkier, lemony, coastal… Reminds me of the beautiful whites by Thierry Michon at Les Clous. Check them out! The salt(iness) keeps playing with you even after the aftertaste and you could believe you just had a big fat oyster. Comments: G&M used to have a few splendours like this – for happy tourists! They still do, of course.
SGP:462 - 93 points.

Pulteney 14 yo 2006/2020 (55.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Pulteney 14 yo 2006/2020 (55.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles) Five stars
I know it’s going to be tough after that stunning apéro, but in Campbeltown, they know that where there's a will there's a way… Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: love these batches because you’re really in front of the true well-aged distillate, with no woodfooleries in the way. And it’s lovely, much closer to the G&M than I had thought, zesty and pure, a tad fermentary, a notch smoky (rather coal again), and just pristine. Lovely so far, while we know that it’ll only improve in the bottle, even more so when opened. With water:  raw sheep’s wool, mashed potatoes, beach sand, fresh concrete. Mouth (neat): love it. Mezcal smoked and salted, baguette dough, porridge, engine oil, seawater, lime juice… A sword, really. With water: no, a razorblade! Wonderful gherkiny brine, oysters and other whelks and clams… Finish: long, very pure, chalky and briny. Comments: what a fighter. A bit austere, not unlike a Shaolin warrior monk (what what what?)
SGP:462 - 91 points.

We’re flying very high this time… Let’s try an OB then.

Old Pulteney 11 yo 2006/2018 ‘hand filled’ (63.6%, OB, bourbon, cask #732)

Old Pulteney 11 yo 2006/2018 ‘hand filled’ (63.6%, OB, bourbon, cask #732) Four stars
Seen the strength here? I suppose we need this to stand the pressure after those utterly glorious G&M and CAD… Colour: light gold. Nose: as usual with the owners, and the OBs in general, there is more oak, vanilla, tea, soft tannins, coconut… I suppose water is mandatory anyway at this American strength. With water: that works, even if the vanilla-led profile wouldn’t change hugely. But it's got more coastal for sure, with also touches of raw ginger (oak) and even ginseng. Mouth (neat – with caution): coconut, litchis, marshmallows, rosehip tea, rose petals, perfume… That’s the super-high cologne-y strength In action. With water: ah very good now, beautifully lemony and gingery, with touches of cinchona as well, cinnamon, vanilla, and even a few drops of tequila. Honestly. Finish: long and very spicy, that’s the oak again. Curry, ginger, cardamom… But lemon and seawater are still there, so we’re absolutely fine. White pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: another excellent one, even if I tend to prefer my Pulteneys straighter and rather unoaked. Just like any other maritime malt. I’m sure any Scot distillers, when at their shrinks’, keep talking about wood (even more than about their dear mothers)…
SGP:651 - 86 points.

(Thanks a bunch Jose, Kristin and Tim!)

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

 

June 21, 2020


Whiskyfun

Drums of rum

Well, not really. It's true that armagnac and ‘artisan’ cognacs are rather having the upper hand these days at WF Towers, as far as malternatives go, while you need to remain extremely selective when choosing a rum. For example, you can’t go very wrong if you choose an armagnac or a Scotch malt whisky at random for, say 60€ whereas if you do that with rum too many times, you’re dead. In France for example, of all spirits that are deemed illegal by the authorities (because of forbidden additives, false strengths, excessive obscuration, too much sugar, fake age statements and so on, and on, and on…), 31% are rums, which is huge as that global ‘spirits’ category also takes liqueurs, creams, eaux-de-vie or say gins into account. All whiskies of the world, including unlikely ‘foreign’ blends only account for 10% of those problematic spirits, and brandies only 2% altogether (thanks for the data Florent Beuchet at La Compagnie des Indes). So, let’s be careful…

Takamaka Bay ‘Extra Noir’ (38%, OB, Seychelles, +/-2018)

Takamaka Bay ‘Extra Noir’ (38%, OB, Seychelles, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
Some other Takamakas have been rather to my liking, especially the 8 yo ‘St André’ (WF 79). But this Loch-Dhu-ish expression is a tad scarier (noir means black, as you know). The low strength too. Colour: amber. Well, it’s not black at all! Nose: soft, and rather typical of the rums from the Indian Ocean, especially from Mauritius or Madagascar. But not from La Réunion! So soft molasses, a little liquorice, chestnut purée, milk chocolate… Then pink pepper (Timut style) and blood oranges. All that is pretty fine, fragrant and well balanced. Mouth: I rather like it indeed, it reminds of some of the best cooking rums we used to have in France. Really. Quite a lot of chocolate before it gets more molassy, and rather dry. What’s really cool is that they did not kill it with too much sugar, a bad habit they seem to have in Mauritius, as far as I can tell. Now it’s also rather thin and would go straight from the arrival to the finish. Indeed, like Usain Bolt. Finish: short and a tad gritty. Some plain sugar in the aftertaste but it’s not Diplo either. Wood. Comments: very fair and probably much better yet on location.
SGP:530 - 78 points.

Let’s do a long hop to…

English Harbour ‘Madeira Batch Number 001’ (40%, OB, Antigua, +/-2017)

English Harbour ‘Madeira Batch Number 001’ (40%, OB, Antigua, +/-2017)
Sadly a finish and only NAS, possibly trying to go the Scotch malt way but there. Not much luck with these little Antiguans this far, but I’ve hardly ever tasted a handful of them. Colour: gold. Nose: there’s something a little bizarre, between burnt vegetables (cabbage) and leather. Indeed, that could be sulphur. Notes of orange peel, a little mustard, walnut stain, ginger tonic… Bizarre, you said bizarre? How bizarre! (a quote from an old French movie… oh forget.) Mouth: ouch. Pepper, mustard, oak, leather, tannins (used teabag) and then saccharine. Pass. Finish: rather long, peppery and sour. Mashed parsnips and more mustard. Comments: what was that? Another finishing that went wrong, that’s for sure in my opinion. Still kind of acceptable provided you’ve got litres of orange juice and lorryloads of crushed ice.
SGP:371 - 65 points.

Dominican Republic ‘A.F.D.’ 8 yo 2010/2019 (62.4%, The Rum Mercenary, Black Label Collection)

Dominican Republic ‘A.F.D.’ 8 yo 2010/2019 (62.4%, The Rum Mercenary, Black Label Collection) Two stars and a half
AFD stands for Alcoholes Finos Dominicanos where, according to their website, they also make biomass and fertilisers. Which is cool! Colour: full gold. Nose: it is not, mind you, one of these bland DomReps that we’re seeing elsewhere, it would rather be a very nice ‘bourbon’ of rum, meaning that the distillate was probably not too silent. Vanilla, sugarcane indeed, coconut balls, honey, touch of banana… With water: going rather Cuban if you ask me. Light, with touches of preserved pineapple. Mouth (neat): strong and wood-shave-y, but there are some flavours, possibly around oranges. But water is more than needed… With water: pleasant, really. Sure it’s not Hampden but it’s not totally empty either. Finish: medium, with more oak and this feeling of sucking Haribo crocodiles. Works with bears and babies too. Comments: to sip while listening to Las Chicas del Can. There, one more point.
SGP:630 - 79 points.

Bellevue Guadeloupe 21 yo 1998/2020 (55.8%, The Rum Mercenary, Black Label Collection)

Bellevue Guadeloupe 21 yo 1998/2020 (55.8%, The Rum Mercenary, Black Label Collection) Five stars
Good that they mention ‘Guadeloupe’ since there’s quite some confusion between Guadeloupe’s Bellevue (Damoiseau) and Marie-Galante’s Bellevue, not even sure I’m getting it right. Even more so since the island of Marie-Galante is part of Guadeloupe. So basically, this one should be a Damoiseau from Grande Terre, located at Le Moule in Guadeloupe. Aaaall right. Colour: dark amber. Nose: gherkin brine, olives, garlic bread, menthol and liquorice. Totally love this, even if it reminds me of… Marie-Galante’s Bellevue. I must be missing something. With water: precious woods, more liquorice, earth and fern, dried bananas, cigarettes, a wee whiff of rosewood… What a fantastic nose! Mouth (neat): totally superb, these Bellevues range amongst the best rums in the world if you ask me. Liquorice poured over rotting bananas, with a dollop of crème de menthe and a lot of proper tapenade (olives and anchovies crushed together). Can’t quite beat this. With water: excellent, firm, salty and briny, with more liquorice and a touch of cough medicine. Finish: long and much subtler that you would imagine. Salty honey sauce, flaxseed, borage, cane juice, honey… Pretty exceptional indeed. Comments: always been a sucker for these 1998s, no exception here. So, I have to work on the various Bellevues – it’s typically French, why simple when you can make complicated?
SGP:663 - 91 points.

That called for more Bellevue…

Bellevue 18 yo 1998/2016 (56.6%, The Rum Cask)

Bellevue 18 yo 1998/2016 (56.6%, The Rum Cask) Four stars
This is Guadeloupe’s Bellevue, but then again, Marie-Galante is part of Guadeloupe. Oh forget! Colour: deep gold. Nose: this one’s much shier, more ‘columny’ (they all are, but there) and indeed I believe this could rather be some mainland Guadeloupe Bellevue as it’s more floral and less briny. Zucchini flowers, ylang-ylang, bananas and pineapples, prickly pears, honeysuckle… It is really lovely, and clearly softer than the Rum Mercenary. With water: some medicinal notes ala Laphroaig. Bandages, sandalwood, peonies, a pack of marshmallows… Mouth (neat): no, wait, it’s got this putty-like almondy side, salt, brine, even tar, liquorice… Mushrooms too, then jams. Perhaps tamarind, quinces, greengage jam (love that)… With water: more brine chiming in, pepper, pesto rosso. A little unexpected, but funny. You could pour this over your spaghettis. Finish: long, with a little cardboard. A little syrupy in the aftertaste, not something that happens often, but gets then tannic, peppery and drying. Comments: a little more jumbled and imprecise than the fab V&M, but it’s still very superb rum.
SGP:562 - 87 points.

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

 

June 20, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Journey to the centre of Glen Grant - Part 1
It is no secret I’m a big fan of old Glen Grant - although that’s not to say there isn’t much to enjoy in more contemporary examples of course. However, I do think that it is a distillery that from the early 1970s backwards to the most distant historical examples I could try displayed a level of charisma, easy charm, panache and sheer damned attractiveness that it very rarely fails to hit the mark.

 

It’s also one of those rare and truly flexible distillates that can strut its stuff from youth to ripe old age; knackered refill or the most bullish of sherry casks; 70 proof to enamel-dissolvingly high ABVs. Anyway, once again I’ve amassed an embarrassing stash of old Glen Grants composed of samples, full open bottles and old miniatures. So let’s try to split them across a couple of sessions and divide by examples under the classic old ‘heath covered mountains’ label (one of the all-time great labels in my wee view) and then more ‘modern’ aged indy examples.

 

 

Glen Grant 5 yo (70 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 1960s)

Glen Grant 5 yo (70 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 1960s)
I’m sure we all know how influential old batches of Glen Grant 5 year old from G&M were in Italy in the 1960s? I think it’s also important to remember that such bottlings - like this one - were also to be found throughout the UK as well. Remember, Glen Grant was kind of the ‘Macallan’ of its day in terms of popular consensus about ‘quality’. Anyway… Colour: very pale white wine - with an almost green tinge. Nose: No wonder the Italians loved it so much, this is really Scottish grappa! Wonderfully grassy, green, slightly vinous, mineral, lightly oily and with abundant fresh, crisp cereal and bread notes. Wee touches of fabric, marrow fat, bouillon, Scotch broth and some wonderfully rustic sheep wool. Raw, old style barley eau de vie. Mouth: seriously, this is almost like tamed new make with this punchy grassiness, rustic vegetal tones, cornflakes dusted with icing sugar, some rather potent olive oil - in texture as well as flavour - and some nicely deft waxiness and toasty cereals. Finish: medium, peppery, canvass, cereal, lamp oil and sunflower oil. Comments: Everything about this, from the age, to the bottling strength and most of all the flavours, is pure old school. I cannot imagine many contemporary distillates showing with such confidence at this kind of age and strength which provides the spirit precisely zero space or woody sweetness to hide within. Now, having said all that, it’s probably also something of an acquired taste.
SGP: 341 - 86 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 8 yo (40%, Moray Bonding for Armando Giovinetti Jr, 1960s)

Glen Grant 8 yo (40%, Moray Bonding for Armando Giovinetti Jr, 1960s)
I just love these old presentations featuring the thistle stencils on the glass. Interesting to see that it wasn’t only G&M that was using them. Colour: light straw. Nose: several shades fatter and more oily. It’s easy to see why drinkers at the time would have considered 8 to be a rather mature age with this kind of profile on display. Much more petrol, mineral oil, soot, gentle waxes, oily sheep wool and things like chamomile and soft medical tinctures. Also a good deal more natural sweetness like malt syrup and honeyed porridge. Mouth: the ABV feels a bit soft here, but these flavours of waxes, marrow fat, mutton soup, vegetable broth and barley water are all very pleasant and charismatic. In fact you get a lot of shared DNA with the 5yo but with an added layer of wood activity and gentle, herbal-accented sweetness. Finish: medium and getting drier and more towards white pepper, flinty minerals, gentle petrol notes, lemon pith and dried herbs. Comments: Highly quaffable, but just 3 more degrees alcohol would have carried it far better I think. Anyway, beautiful distillate as ever.
SGP: 452 - 84 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 12 yo (75 proof, Moray Bonding Co, UK market, 1960s)

Glen Grant 12 yo (75 proof, Moray Bonding Co, UK market, 1960s)
Colour: deep coppery gold. Nose: beautiful! Another style entirely with this very nervous, ethereal cloak of sherry that’s draped over everything (to think, there’s an entire Facebook thread on Malt Maniacs about the use of the word ‘nervous’ in tasting notes - what a time to be alive!) Beyond that though there’s all these wonderful herbaceous, earthy and tobacco notes. Raisins, caramel fudge, putty, strawberry wine, cafe latte and eventually this wonderful rancio quality. Just superb! We’ve really struck ‘old Glen Grant’ now. Mouth: impeccably dry, nutty, saline and rancio sherry. Green walnut liqueur, Irish coffee, natural tar, herbal extracts, old bitter ointments, dried tarragon, verbena and wormwood. The word that comes to mind here is ‘complexity’. This pitch perfect marriage of sherry, distillate and time. Finish: wonderfully long, thready, nervous (!!) and full of more of these saline and nutty sherry touches. Earthy, waxy and with lots of crystallised citrus peels. Comments: There’s probably quite a lot going on here, but my initial thought is: what a difference 43% makes! There’s just that extra wellspring of power that lifts everything that much higher while retaining poise and balance. Just pure pleasure in a glass!
SGP: 462 - 92 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 19 yo (45%, OB for Italy, Armando Giovinetti Jr import, 1960s)

Glen Grant 19 yo (45%, OB for Italy, Armando Giovinetti Jr import, 1960s)
One of these rather scarce but almost always totally excellent old official ‘cube’ bottlings for Italy. Colour: pale gold (yes!). Nose: just beautiful! A ballet of waxes, shoe polish, crystallised citrus and exotic fruits, wild herbs, tobaccos, roots, medical embrocations and all kinds of furniture and mineral oils. One of these aromas where the distillate is rich, vibrantly fresh and expressive and yet you still get the wood in perfect harmony with these wee coconut touches. Mouth: soots, waxes, root vegetables, metal polish, natural tar, potent herbal cough medicines, waxed lemon peel, olive oil and even hints of saltwater - maybe salty pasta water, this was for Italy after all! Wonderfully mineral, herbaceous, hugely waxy and with a thrillingly oily and mouth-filling texture. Finish: long, nicely peppery, again lightly vegetal, honeyed, waxy and full of wee notes of salted mead, herbal medicines and dried tarragon. Comments: A wee poem in a bottle. No wonder the name Glen Grant carried such a reputation, what an utterly phenomenal distillate this distillery rattled out.
SGP: 563 - 93 points.

 

 

Let’s move on to some old miniatures. I’ve recently taken to buying some old minis at auction, largely out of curiosity, but I can’t help but feel a light effervescence of schadenfreude at the thought that I might be annoying some miniature collectors/dealers.

 

 

Glen Grant 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, miniature, 1970s)

Glen Grant 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, miniature, 1970s)
This one with a large white capsule so probably late 70s I suspect. Colour: gold. Nose: A much leaner and more powerful style. Full of wet leaves, moss, snapped twigs, earthy potting sheds and then bags of raw barley, porridge oats, plush cereals, buttery toast and a big spoonful of golden style and barley sugars. Evolves to become more honeyed and approachable with a little breathing time. You can also find wee flourishes of waxes and herbs. Quite superb but absolutely a geek’s whisky style I would say. With water: rather more buttery and oily now, with sweet cereals, dried mint and things like putty and lamp oil. Superb and very old school. Mouth: big, fatty, herbal and waxy. With an almost greasy vegetal quality that feels somehow both textural as well as flavoursome. More leafy and mulchy notes, petrichor, herbal teas, citronella and a wee hint of nutmeg. With water: honeyed, waxy, peppery, lightly spicy and full of gentle notes of lightly smoked teas (lapsang souchong, earl grey) mineral oil, shoe polish and menthol tobacco. Finish: long with a rather thready waxiness, some white pepper, cinnamon, olive oil and more notes of shoe and metal polishes. Comments: At times tough, but with water and patience you are rewarded with unvarnished, old style glory. I also love that there is a definite vein of DNA running from the 19yo into this wee miniature.
SGP: 472 - 89 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, miniature, 1970s)

Glen Grant 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, miniature, 1970s)
This one has a smaller gold screw cap and slightly sleeker bottle, which means properly 1970s, probably around mid-70s. Colour: straw. Nose: indeed, this feels already like a slightly earlier style of distillate. It’s overall more elegant, but certain characters within are more direct and punchy, in this case particularly the herbal aspects. Lots of dried and freshly chopped herbs with various ointments, medical tinctures and cough syrups. It’s also beautifully honeyed. Lots of mead, barley sugar, dried mint and some lovely emerging notes of proving bread dough. Natural, understated and extremely attractive. With water: linens, chalk, pollen, dried meadow flowers, white bread and crushed aspirin. A little lighter on its feet and a notch more medical now. Mouth: powerful attach with more of these really punchy notes of herbs, but also now with freshly crushed ferns, moss and other greenery, mothballs, syrupy cough medicines, green peppercorns, fermenting honey and mineral oil. Fatty, dry, tautly structured and showing some lean and rather crisp minerals and acidity. A wine drinkers’ malt like so many of these pale old Glen Grants. With water: herbal extracts, pinewood sap, ink, soot, cough sweets, citronella, lemon balm and more rather textual vegetal notes. Finish: long, emphatically oily, waxy, weightily textured, faintly lemony and with many wee tertiary notes of crisp cereals, fresh fabrics, hessian, chalk and white flowers. Comments: Amazing that this wee mini would stay so pin-sharp and bright after what must be 40+ years in the bottle. The power of these old Glen Grants seems indomitable.
SGP: 462 - 91 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, miniature, 1970s)

Glen Grant 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, miniature, 1970s)
An almost identical bottle except that this time the capsule is white and the liquid is a few shades darker. Which of course in those days could just as easily have meant caramel as sherry. Colour: bright gold. Nose: hmmm, I think we may have struck sherry! A stunning mix of fatty, swollen waxes, putty and cooking oils mixed with delicate preserve fruit jams, conserves and cordials. Lots of old hessian, leather, dunnage earthiness, raisins in brandy, wee notes of fennel and caraway and this ever-present, persevering herbaceous complexity. A hug in a glass! With water: perfectly balanced now! Breads, tobaccos, herbs and medicines, but also fresher, more exotically fruity notes of mango and tinned pineapple. Mouth: Gah! Brilliant! Uber powerful and yet riddled with tobaccos, dark fruit chutneys, olive oil, mineral oil, camphor, putty, myriad medical ointments and superbly waxy textural thickness. With water: same story as on the nose, the fruits begin to take over. Here they are also joined by fruit salad syrups, tinned lychee and plain old runny honey drizzled on some cornflakes. Finish: long, fatty, gloopy fruit syrups, mineral oil, waxes, pollens, old Chartreuse and ink. Comments: What a glorious wee thing. Why have we been letting miniature collectors get away with hoarding these things for so long!?
SGP: 662 - 92 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 10 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 1970s)

Glen Grant 10 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, late 1970s)
Back to one of the later chunkier bottles now with a bigger white screw cap, but this time with the capacity included in old imperial measurements, so probably bottled sometime around 1976/77. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a very grassy and austere one. Very punchy, slightly aggressive, lightly vegetal, chalky and plenty of mineral oil and graphite. These vegetal aspects become more assertive over time and you still feel this peppery heat. Some softer herbal complexities emerge in time. With water: lighter fluid, moss, lemon peel, white mushrooms, gravel, carbon paper and some sort of Scottish broth soup. Pretty whacky but fun. Mouth: Gah! Intensely alcoholic at first. Really, only 100 proof you say? Now, it’s still got a lot of very nice flavours, it’s just that they’re really wrapped up in raw fire. More vegetable stocks, soups, mutton, oily sheep wool. brittle waxiness, cavass, clay and crushed aspirin. With water: (not being shy with the water here…) much better, and more cohesive I’d add. Still very peppery but more in terms of flavour than heat intensity now. Lots of pink, white and green pepper, paprika, Moroccan fruits in muesli, earthy turmeric, pollens, preserved lemons and even candle wax. Quite a ride! Finish: long, rather salty, some coal dust, sheep wool, lemon peel, some green asparagus maybe, lanolin, medical balms. Getting a little too acrid and dusty in the aftertaste, OBE? Comments: Phew! I couldn’t tell you how much of that was due to whatever kind of mad journey this wee Glen Grant has undergone in its 3rd class miniature carriage over these past decades and how much was down to original distillate character or cask. Bags of entertainment, but not ideal if your thing is, you know, ‘enjoying whisky’ while watching a film or something. But then again, I’m not yet convinced those sorts of people are reading Whiskyfun ;)
SGP: 372 - 79 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 10 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, late 1970s)

Glen Grant 10 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 1970s)
This is an interesting one. Bigger bottle again with a big white capsule, but with the diagonal red lettered age statement which recalls the older 1960s and early 70s style G&M presentations, and a larger printed ‘100 proof’. I’d guess around mid-1970s but we are really scraping the barrel of my mini knowledge here. Colour: orangey gold. Nose: sweet stewed fruits mixed with petrol! Sultanas, damp earth, plum wine, orange oils, herbal liqueurs, nutmeg, pollens, wee touches of quince and some more tropical notes of guava and dried mango. Superb and very much towards an older, sherry-accented style. With water: softer, wider, more towards breads, pastries, lilies weighted with pollen, apricot jam and mirabelle. Once again evolving towards more sweet tropical fruit notes in time. Mouth: really on tobaccos, herbal cough medicines, lemon cough drops, dried mint, darjeeling tea and a rather salty, punchy sherry profile. Some pretty earthy tobacco notes too. With water: drier, waxier, dustier, more earthy, peppery, lemony and with wee glimmers of star fruit, kiwi and lime. Some kind of mixed exotic fruit curd along with glazed pastries and almond croissant. Finish: long, with quite a few bitter citrus piths, herbal bitters, waxes, putty, mineral oils and aniseed. Comments: Definitely an older one I’d say, and the interplay between sweeter fruits and breads and dried earthy and herbal tones is really compelling here.
SGP: 661 - 90 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 12 yo (100 proof / 57%, Gordon & MacPhail, miniature, c1980)

Glen Grant 12 yo (100 proof / 57%, Gordon & MacPhail, miniature, +/-1980)
Another larger shaped bottle and a big white capsule again this time. With the addition of metric measurements we should be comfortably within spitooning distance of 1980. Colour: pale gold. Nose: quite a different style. Much grassier, greener, more floral and full of pollens, plain cereals, lightly buttered toast, vase water, hessian and clay. We’re creeping towards this lighter but still rather old school Glen Grant profile which to me feels like the late 60s distillates captured at a younger age. This one remains beautifully fresh, green and vibrant with many subtle complexities emerging including olive oil, beeswax, carbon paper, bouillon and chopped parsley. With water: wonderfully mossy now with lots of twigs, bracken and petrichor. Ink, carbon paper, dried herbs, honeycomb and shoe polish. Mouth: rather fierce on arrival with lots of struck flints, petrol, lime oil, hessian, white pepper, ink and crushed aspirin. Also things like cut grass, cactus and raw vegetables. Very good but a more austere expression. With water: easier and more towards old school boiled lime and lemon sweets. Cornflakes dusted with icing sugar, rapeseed oil and sweetened darjeeling tea. Finish: long, getting slightly earthy, still vegetal and herbal, also more peppery and punchy again. Comments: Another really great one, although it’s perhaps not quite as luminous as those wee 8yos.
SGP: 461 - 89 points.

 

 

Well, that was fun! Next week, unless there’s a pretty sudden change to the rules of mathematics, it’ll be part 2.

 

 

 

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

 

June 18, 2020


Whiskyfun

Aberlour and Aberlour

In my opinion, Aberlour is one the nicest distilleries to visit. The name remains huge in France, even if some blended malts now manage to challenge those slightly budgety heavy selling malts. I’m looking at Monkey Shoulder, for example.

Aberlour 14 yo 2005/2019 (58.7%, OB for The Whisky Lodge, 2nd fill oloroso sherry butt, cask #213017, 630 bottles)

Aberlour 14 yo 2005/2019 (58.7%, OB for The Whisky Lodge, 2nd fill oloroso sherry butt, cask #213017, 630 bottles) Four stars
This one for The Whisky Lodge, a pretty large and friendly whisky shop in Lyons, capital city of the Gauls. They used to have three rivers there, Saône, Rhône and Beajolais wine, they now have a fourth watercourse, Whisky! Colour: gold. Nose: a classic start with rather a lot of chocolate dust and a bunch of fruit leaves (peach, cherry), a touch of rather heady lady’s perfume (Shalimar?) and then just some grist and roasted pecans. A tad hot, but it’s true that we’re not far from 60% vol. With water: bread, earth, mushrooms and mosses. Some old black tea in the background, moist coffee dregs… Mouth (neat): you cannot not think of A’bunadh, as this is heavy as a lorry and really very punchy. Chocolate, caramel, pepper, Mon Chéri, and really a lot of heat. With water: loaded with grassy spices, green pepper, cinchona, bitter beer and cocoa powder, then fresh walnuts. Marmalade in the aftertaste. Finish: long, with a little resin, otherwise pepper and chocolate. Comments: it’s a little hot, but that’s rather a asset in this context. A rather lovely brute.
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Aberlour 25 yo 1993/2019 (54.1%, The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #7366, 162 bottles)

Aberlour 25 yo 1993/2019 (54.1%, The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #7366, 162 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: it is a little roughish too, even if it’s rather older, but Aberlour’s trademark fruitiness does shine through here, while wer’re rather wandering throughout a Western orchard, with peaches and pears, perhaps melons, strawberries, apricots… It’s even a tiny tad hoppy here and there, which I always find nice. With water: not much development, perhaps a rootier side? Turnips? Mouth (neat): tutti-frutti spirit led by apricot eau-de-vie (always watch prussic acid) and mirabelle. A touch of coriander and Thai basil, plus pepper. Enjoy the pad thai! With water: fruitier for a while, then grassier again. Like, Brussels sprouts, zucchini… Some small biscuits making it a notch rounder and easier. Finish: rather long, always with this little hotness and roughness. Ideas of both maraschino and amaretti in the aftertaste. Comments: just excellent too, while there aren’t many indie Aberlours around these days.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

(Merci Fabien)

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

 

June 16, 2020


Whiskyfun

Edradour j’adore

Are cross-language alliterations allowed in headlines, in contemporary Web culture? They were all the rage around the year 2000… I do hope that you will forgive me in any case. So, Edradour, let’s get ready and, as we like to do from time to time, try them randomly…

Edradour 11 yo 2004/2016 (59.2%, OB for Taiwan, Warrior Series, 1st fill oloroso, cask #416)

Edradour 11 yo 2004/2016 (59.2%, OB for Taiwan, Warrior Series, 1st fill oloroso, cask #416) Four stars
Or was that 416 bottles? Colour: deep amber. Nose: a large pack of Mars bars and other delicacies, Twix and stuff. Just not Oreo, most luckily. A drop of soy sauce, perhaps Marmite, certainly some heavy stout. I used to drink Mackeson while in Scotland, but that was around 1980 ;-). I’ve learned since back then that it wasn’t even Scottish. No, not very proud. With water: it’s some pure chicken soup, and rather some good one. There’s even a little parsley and chervil. Mouth (neat): heavy Cointreau-like orange stuff, chocolate, more stout, malt extract… With water: good sweet malt liqueurs, what we call ‘amer bière’, so bitters I suppose, chestnut purée (sherried Edradour/Ballechin and chestnuts are often to be found together)… Finish: rather long, more chocolaty again. Comments: excellent, you just got to enjoy chocolate. I do.
SGP:562 - 86 points.

Edradour 2002/2006 ‘Tokaji’ (52.6%, OB)

Edradour 2002/2006 ‘Tokaji’ (52.6%, OB) Two stars and a half
Ha, this one’s got its own reputation. It was fully matured in old Tokaji casks, but then again, it’s only four years old. In a way, you could say that it was only finished and never quite matured, a concept that we’re seeing with many newish NAS these days. Which, naturally, doesn’t imply that the juices would be bad, not a all. It’s just that they’re rather ‘flavoured’ than ‘matured’. Oh well… Colour: deep amber. Nose: exhausts, gunpowder, cooked cabbage, rubber bands. Well, no raisins, no furmint… With water: hard-boiled eggs and black truffles. And gas. Some nice raisins too, luckily, reminds me of those state-made eszencias in the old days. Mouth (neat): really a curiosity. Heavy raisins this time, heavy gunpowder too. With water: looks like the raisins are now having the upper hand, which wasn’t the case at all when we first tried this funny baby a long time ago (and never wrote any notes). But the rubber still resists. Finish: rather long, with something grilled. Comments: it’s extremely hard to score this. Sure it's one of those FIAT Multiplas of whisky, but they do have their convinced aficionados.
SGP:571 - 78 points.

Edradour 16 yo 2000/2016 (57.9%, OB, Tiger's Finest Selection, sherry, cask #3146, 663 bottles)

Edradour 16 yo 2000/2016 (57.9%, OB, Tiger's Finest Selection, sherry, cask #3146, 663 bottles) Two stars and a half
I believe this one was for Taiwan too. This is Campbell/Pernod distillate, so careful… Colour: dark amber with red hues. So, garnet. Nose: five days old peonies in a large vase, hoisin sauce (thank you, friend!), blackberry jelly, tons of tamarind jam, bitter oranges, marrow, cooked ham… This is unusual indeed. Could be great, could be a wreck on the palate, we’ll see. With water: oak shavings and that’s pretty it.  Water didn’t really work here, I’m afraid. Mouth (neat): heavy sherry, ginger, chocolate sauce, pepper, Nescafé… It’s all a little extreme, shall we say. With water: so funny, and unusual. Never seen before. Sucking toasted oak chip and cocoa pods (which, in theory, no one does). Perhaps roasted pecans? Finish: medium, very toasted, very roasted, and otherwise all on crude chocolate. Comments: an oddity, perhaps from space. Not sure anyone could categorise this bone-dry sherried whisky. Yeah well, it’s a bone-dry sherried whisky.
SGP:261 - 79 points.

Ouch, it seems that we haven’t got any new ones in the boxes. But we’ve got quite a back-catalogue, so let’s go on…

Edradour 2005/2016 (62.8%, OB, First fill oloroso sherry butt, cask #100, 643 bottles)

Edradour 2005/2016 (62.8%, OB, First fill oloroso sherry butt, cask #100, 643 bottles) Three stars and a half
I believe this one too was bottled for Asia. Our friends like their sherry monsters, and I would say they’re very right. Colour: red dark amber. Nose: I think we’ll accelerate a wee bit. Chocolate, toasted oak, grilled malt, chocolate. With water: nice! Menthol cigarette smoke, thuja wood, a pack of thin mints (remember After Eights?) and always a lot of chocolate. Mouth (neat): good, spicier than the others, with a lot of caraway on top of the chocolate and walnuts. Bitter oranges and pepper too. With water: curry, chocolate, aniseed, caraway, juniper, oak, touch of ginger. Finish: long, peppery, a tad drying, going towards Van Houten’s driest cocoa powder and some smoke. Childhood memories here at WF Towers. Marmalade in the aftertaste, as in 75% of all sherry monsters. Comments: these heavy sherries are hit or miss; I’d say this one worked just fine.
SGP:462 - 84 points.

Edradour 2004/2016 (57.6%, OB, Tiger's Tasting Club, oloroso sherry, cask #426, 674 bottles)

Edradour 2004/2016 (57.6%, OB, Tiger's Tasting Club, oloroso sherry, cask #426, 674 bottles) Three stars
A tiger, that’s Asia again. Cheers friends. Let’s keep accelerating… Colour: dark red amber. Nose: oak and chocolate, plus the tiniest soapy tone ever. With water: and walnut stain, new Tesla, and just, well, batteries. Mouth (neat): extremely close to the 2005 that we just had, just spicier and woodier. Not quite oak juice, but… With water: ah good, really good. Chocolate, pepper and ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, malt, shoe polish… Remains big even at +/-20% vol. Joking now. Finish: rather long, with good ginger, caramel ramen, chocolate and Jaffa cakes. Utterly love Jaffa cakes, I would happily kill any neo-liberal Anglo-Saxon UV-sensible ass-mouthed golfing orange ugliness for a pack of Jaffa cakes. Hey, just a figure of speech! (oh boy this will cost you!) Comments: a bit heavy.
SGP:472 - 82 points.

Edradour 2005/2016 (59.1%, OB, for the Drunken Master Bar and Fortune, 1st Fill Ex-Oloroso Sherry Cask, cask #90, 678 bottles)

Edradour 2005/2016 (59.1%, OB, for the Drunken Master Bar and Fortune, 1st Fill Ex-Oloroso Sherry Cask, cask #90, 678 bottles) Four stars
This lovely bottle from when they would have disguised just any young Scotch as if it had been old Yamazaki or Karuizawa. Good times. Colour: mahogany. Nose: rosewood, chocolate, tamarind, touch of new plastic. With water: toasted oak and roasted nuts. Pecans and peanuts. Some raisinless sherry again. Mouth (neat): oh good. Old armagnac and BTAC bourbon. Say G.T.S. Not the first time a sherried Scotch reminds us of some pretty oak-infused bourbons. With water:  very good, very very good. Pink pepper and capsicum in the background. Finish: rather long, all on chocolate (again) and ginger and bitter oranges. Heavy cinnamon in the aftertaste, very drying. Calls for proper Alsatian riesling ;-). Comments: very good, I think. Bourbony sherry, a slightly M.C. Escher-esque feeling. See what I mean?
SGP:362 - 85 points.

It's getting tougher but we can cope. How about a little lightness?

Edradour 9 yo 2006/2015 (46%, OB, Highland Heritage, LMDW exclusive, oloroso sherry casks)

Edradour 9 yo 2006/2015 (46%, OB, Highland Heritage, LMDW exclusive, oloroso sherry casks) Three stars and a half
There’s been a Barolo version that was a little tough. I think the Scots should leave nebbiolo alone. And pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, and mourvèdre, malbec, carmenere, grenache, cinsault, touriga, and many other lovely red varietals as well while they’re at it. Thanks a bunch.  But back to this little oloroso… (remember all sherries, even the darkest ones, are white wines). Colour: deep amber. Nose: crikey, could be that we have today’s winner here. Roses, peonies, honeysuckle, then honey, brioche, biscuits, pancake syrup, banana flambéed, Linzertorte, just a tiny-wee touch of metal polish (after all, this is Edradour)… Mouth: sure there’s this very tiny plastic/soapy side in the arrival, but the rest is perfect. Cherries, mirabelles, orange blossom, custard, cakes, mead… Finish: medium, a little maltier. More mead in the aftertaste. Comments: very good. Lost a handful of points when we first sipped it though.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

I believe it’s time we would have a last one for the road (to the couch – I’m joking, I’m fresh as a daisy)…

Edradour 10 yo 2002/2012 (58.3%, OB, Straight from the Cask, Château Neuf du Pape finish)

Edradour 10 yo 2002/2012 (58.3%, OB, Straight from the Cask, Château Neuf du Pape finish) Three stars
Pst, I believe that would rather be Châteauneuf instead of Chateau Neuf, but should we really care? Having said that, a majority of grenache in malt whisky, that’s probably like D.J. Trump reciting Shakespeare, that is to say very unlikely. Dear American friends, please get rid of that disgraceful living entity. On behalf of our little planet, thanks. Colour: deep gold. Nose: no heavy strawberries, raspberries and other red berries, rather the usual tiny soapy tones, then Mars bars, sourdough, crushed bananas and raisin rolls. All that with an earthy background. Yeah I know, no politics, but I just don’t care, this is a personal blog. There. With water: nice ginger cake. Boy we can’t stand him anymore, can we. Mouth (neat): leather, malt, blood oranges, pepper and literally hectolitres of Campari. With water: a nice fruity leatheriness. Finish: long, on cinchona and marmalade, then gingery grasses in the bitterish aftertaste. Comments: the thing is, this an free old private blog with no ties whatsoever to any commercial or political entity. We say what we want. Like, screw the vulgar, fat, repulsive, arrogant, orange-dyed, artificially suntanned living entity. Complains on postcards please. Alternatively, you could always unfriend or unfollow me/us on social media in protest.
SGP:361 - 80 points.

Phew, we’re feeling better at Châteaux Whiskyfun…

(Merci Lucero and other friends!)

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

 

June 15, 2020


Whiskyfun

Little duos, two relatively royal Bracklas

Not a lot to say, really, I don’t see Brackla’s newish OBs much. At least not on WF’s pretty cluttered tasting table. But well, we still manage to keep the name alive here, thanks to the lovely IBs. A heavy duty? We’ll see…

Royal Brackla 11 yo 2008/2020 (56.3%, Cadenhead, authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 324 bottles)

Royal Brackla 11 yo 2008/2020 (56.3%, Cadenhead, authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 324 bottles) Three stars
My dear God, 2008, wasn’t that just yesterday? Colour: white wine. Nose: very hot, ethanoly, with some varnish and some grass juice, then green pears, grist, sour cream, sourdough… Well we’ll call this one Mr Natural. With water: fine, balanced, young, if not very inspiring. Touches of coconut and vanilla, a drop of orgeat syrup. I suppose there more of such whiskies in the warehouses over Hadrian’s Wall than there’s water in the Atlantic ocean, but there, it’s a fine drop, it seems. Mouth (neat): rough, extremely eau-e-vie-ish. Some Kirschwasser and Williams pear spirit, a touch of sucrose, some matcha tea… Boy is this rough. With water: we tamed it. Bonbons, pears, a little liquorice wood, more green tea, Ricola sweets (do you know those Swiss delicacies?) Finish: medium, a tad sugary, still eau-de-vie-ish. Comments: so not bad at all, but how would you describe Brackla’s distillery character? Answer on a postcard.
SGP:541 - 80 points.

Royal Brackla 12 yo 2007/2020 (59%, Golden Cask)

Royal Brackla 12 yo 2007/2020 (59%, Golden Cask) Three stars
This series by the House of MacDuff. Picture of a similar bottle, not much details to be found in the big digital box yet. Colour: straw. Nose: there’s rather more happening in there, more porridge jumping around (are you sure?), more sourness, rather a lot of fermentary notes, cottage cheese, dry artisan cider… With water: toes the line now, as if it had lost its idiosyncrasies (love that word). A wee whiff of natural rubber. Mouth (neat): a big sweet bomb, marshmallow-infused vodka, lemon juice, touch of cachaça perhaps… With water: bonbons and grass, sucking used green tealeaves. Perhaps a small glass of lager (what we call a galopin in France). Finish: medium, rather on plum spirit. Comments: I wouldn’t swear we’ll remember these fine two slightly plebeian (rather than royal) Bracklas tomorrow, and no that’s not Alzheimer’s striking early. But they were good, I think. What was good?
SGP:541 - 82 points.

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


June 2020 - part 1 <--- June 2020 - part 2 ---> July 2020 - part 1


 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Caol Ila 20 yo 1999/2020 (48.4%, Maltbarn, sherry, 118 bottles)

Caol Ila 35 yo 1983/2019 (50.3%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #75, 90 bottles)

Glen Elgin 1995/2017 (50.8%, C&S Dram Senior, hogshead, cask #3212, 296 bottles)

Old Pulteney 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 26 2/3 fl. ozs, 1970s)

Pulteney 14 yo 2006/2020 (55.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Bellevue Guadeloupe 21 yo 1998/2020 (55.8%, The Rum Mercenary, Black Label Collection)

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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