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Hi, you're in the Archives, June 2021 - Part 1

       

May 2021 - part 2 <--- June 2021 - part 1 ---> June 2021 - part 2

 

June 14, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions
Number Twenty-Two
I believe we could start from Scotland this time. I'm twice Pfizerised, so no worries at all!

Glasgow Distillery 'Malt Riot Vat No. 6' (40%, OB, 2020)

Glasgow Distillery 'Malt Riot Vat No. 6' (40%, OB, 2020) Three stars
40% vol.? What's that? Some kind of statement? Provocation? Misplaced vanity? Or just a typo? Well, we had a superb Glasgow for Kirsch Import the other week, but that one had been bottled at 62.1%, for crying out loud! Rioting at 40% vol., pff… Colour: white wine. Nose: light, soft, a little bready, with some pears and some apples. Plums, gooseberries, greengages, croissants, vanilla, coconut balls, bananas… It is pretty nice and rather mature, just a touch light. Mouth: sweet beer, vanilla, a little fudge and toffee, biscuit, mild honey, shortbread, a wee cardboardy side, some vanilla cream, porridge, malt… It's a good drop and it isn't even extremely light. Finish: short, but on good sweet bread and bananas. Comments: hold on, I just noticed that this is a blend and not purely 'Glasgow'. Which explains why it feels rather mature. A solid drop for sure, superior to most large-volume Scotch blends. Well done, even at 40%. I'm reminded of BNJ.
SGP:441 - 81 points.
sco

To Ireland, perhaps…

Kilbeggan 'Small Batch Rye' (43%, OB, Ireland, 2018)

Kilbeggan 'Small Batch Rye' (43%, OB, Ireland, 2018) Three stars
Said to be the first whiskey fully done at Kilbeggan Distillery. But caution, it's called 'rye' but there's only 30% rye inside, the remainder being malted and unmalted barley. Colour: pale gold. Nose: rye? It is hardly noticeable, but we're finding nice touches of cantaloupe and pomegranate over cakes and scones. Tangerines. As we say here, this will hurt no one. Nice citrusy nose. Mouth: good body, rather oily, on more tangerines with a little breakfast honey and a feeling of IPA. Orange blossom, oriental pastry, some pollen, beeswax… A solid palate, maybe a tad too eau-de-vie-ish. Finish: medium, honeyed, pretty malty. Comments: still wondering a bit about the rye, on the other hand I believe they made this with care. A really good drop altogether, nicer than the earlier 15 and 18 that were just blends. And it feels firmer than just 43%.
SGP:541 - 82 points.
ei

Since we were having rye (apparently…)

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 'Moissons Single Rye' (44.8%, OB, France, +/-2020)

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 'Moissons Single Rye' (44.8%, OB, France, +/-2020) Four stars and a half
We've had the excellent moissons single malt the other day, this is the rye. And when they say rye, it's rye. Colour: straw. Nose: fully on spicy bread, caraway, cinnamon, juniper berries, myrtle, sorb, fennel seeds… We've got a bakery that's making rye bread with caraway inside. Just spread some proper butter over it and you won't need caviar anymore. Good bread, good butter and good whisky, that's all you need in life. Oh and love and friendship, naturally. Mouth: hold on, this is tequila! Top notch reposado by a great house (not George's ex) plus a little cachaça. Say 2/3 tequila and 1/3 cachaça, all that made in the French Alps. Tell me about some challenge. Finish:  am not joking at all, mind you. Long, on tequila, with drops of herbal liqueurs. Earthy aftertaste, with some aniseed too. More fennel. Comments: singular, to say the least. Stunning, actually. Forgot to say, I utterly love this.
SGP:462 - 89 points.
fr

I say let's try to find an American rye… Oops, this is German…

Stork Club 'Full Proof Rye Whiskey Batch 3' (55%, OB, Germany, +/-2019)

Stork Club 'Full Proof Rye Whiskey Batch 3' (55%, OB, Germany, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
Our friends and neighbours the Germans too have made great progress with their homemade whiskies. They know rye, they eat a lot of rye as breads (Roggen)… This is made by Spreewood Distillers, not far from Berlin. Colour: gold. Nose: this is a rather shy one, but some markers of rye are coming through already, especially fennel seeds and caraway. Whiffs of earth after a heavy rain, also a little orange syrup... With water: the distillate is a little light, or so it seems. Nice, but far from malted rye and other crazy thickish rye whiskies of the world. Mouth (neat): coffee, spices, caramel, molasses… I would think of rum. I suppose they have column(s). With water: indeed a lighter base with some pleasant coffee and grains. Finish: shortish, with some sweeter spices. Sweet mustard, aniseed, Nescafé… Comments: cool, good, pleasant, no quibbles, all fine, it's just that the body was a little slim. I've heard some other expressions were rather (vastly) superior.
SGP:631 - 78 points.
gm

To London, baby!

Bimber 3 yo 2017/2020 (59.2%, Thompson Bros, England, first fill barrel, cask #171, 250 bottles)

Bimber 3 yo 2017/2020 (59.2%, Thompson Bros, England, first fill barrel, cask #171, 250 bottles) Three stars
The world is changing fast, some young Scots bottling some malt whisky from London-on-the-Thames, would you have seen this under Miss Maggie? Under John Major? Colour: light gold. Nose (neat): millimetric, pretty Kavalanian (or Jim-Swanian) bubblegummy ex-bourbon malt whisky. Banana foam, jelly crocodiles, beans and babies, vanilla, then tiny herbal touches, wormwood, woodruff, borage… With water: bananas flambéed, young rhum agricole, strawberry candy. Mouth: bordering liqueurship, really. Sweet citrus, sweeter citrus, and sweeter citrus yet. Pink grapefruit, bananas, longans… With water: rose liqueur from Malta, strawberries, pink grapefruits… Finish: medium and very sweet. Turkish delights. Comments: indeed, Turkish delights in a bottle. It's been superbly made; it's just that it went a little too far for me; it's even frightening that you could make this without throwing anything else into your barrel.
SGP:840 - 80 points.
en

We haven't been very far this time, have we.

(Merci Nicolas)

 

June 10, 2021


Whiskyfun

A Couple of Rhosdhu

Old Rhosdhu used to be one of those moderately attractive names. It was cheap, it was one of the very few NAS single malts around (there was also a 5), and it was often used for derisive comparisons, such as 'this Glen Whatever isn't too good, but it's not as bad as Old Rhosdhu', alternately with Loch Dhu or brother Loch Lomond. Things started to change when Murray McDavid issued a superb old one, after owners Glen Katrine had released another very old one, a 1967 that hadn't been bad either. Old Rhosdhu was said to draw its ueber-fruitiness from the fact that the distillers were cutting a part of the first run before it would get into the spirit still, but not too sure that's true as it sounds pretty anti-economic.

Old Rhosdhu 30 yo 1990/2020 (48.9%, Les Grands Alambics, hogshead)

Old Rhosdhu 30 yo 1990/2020 (48.9%, Les Grands Alambics, hogshead) Four stars
So a variant of Loch Lomond. Colour: light gold. Nose: a funny juice that cannot not make me think of those Juras we had the other day. There are some off notes but it's not set in stone that these notes are indeed off. Like, paraffin, a touch of fish oil, yoghurt, engine grease, cardon paper, fresh-pruned privets and box trees, bags of fruit and vegetable peelings… Do you get the picture? As always, the palate should play first part… Mouth: fun stuff indeed. There is some fresh oak, which may suggest this or part of this was re-racked, bananas, teas and vanilla, no greasiness, rather curry, sour fruits (chutneys), a little mustard, a little sawdust… We're not too far from the group's modern style (recent Glen Scotias, Loch Lomonds…) Finish: medium, with notes of earl grey, bergamots, and sweet mustard combined with a little green walnut liqueur and some soft yellow pepper. Comments: very intriguing and worth checking out. More than ever, it's a matter of taste. Not even sure about my score, please take it with two grains of salt.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Old Rhosdhu 27 yo 1993/2020 (50.8%, Maltbarn, bourbon)

Old Rhosdhu 27 yo 1993/2020 (50.8%, Maltbarn, bourbon) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: it is rather cleaner, probably simpler, rather more on bitter almonds, marzipan, cut cactus, with more coconut and vanilla as well. Shall we call this nose 'a tad more commercial'? With water: more fruits, especially bananas, and only a tiny amount of cream cheese. Mouth (neat): very close to the 1990, just a tad more lemony and peppery. Marginally fruitier. With water: moving towards the 1990, but with more fruit drops, Jell-Os, liquorice allsorts… So more sweets than fruits. Finish: medium, leafier. More bergamots. Comments: would you please tell me if I like this? I know, reversing roles, sounds odd but once again this a dilemma in my glass. I'll work on my Rhosdhus before the next Rhosdhu session on WF.
SGP:651 - 85 points.
 

June 8, 2021


Whiskyfun

The vicarious Feis Ile sessions
Today secret Islay malts

Celebrating Islay and Feis Ile from Whisky Fun Towers, with carefully selected whiskies from most distilleries, while we're all dreaming of 2022...

Yeah, hold on, I just realised that there was a last category that we hadn't tackled yet: the secret ones! They're usually Laphroaig, Ardbeg or Lagavulin in disguise, but since I believe we've got quite a load of them in the boxes, we shall not try to play the guessing game and just taste them as we find them, in no particular order. By the way, will they ever do a 'Secret Day' at Feis Ile? Why not at the SPAR in Bowmore? ;-)

strange

In Memory of Bessie 10 yo 2011/2021 (58.4%, Fadandel.dk, cask #LAP 224, 323 bottles)

In Memory of Bessie 10 yo 2011/2021 (58.4%, Fadandel.dk, cask #LAP 224, 323 bottles) Four stars
No picture yet. Right, with a name like that and a cask # that starts with 'LAP', no need to be the new Einstein to find out about the distillery. Sometimes, bottlers would give you funny clues… Speaking of Bessie Williamson, did you see that most sadly, former manager Iain Henderson passed away last week? Colour: white wine. Nose: a bit burnt, extremely rustic, with rather bitter notes, a feeling of feints, antifreeze… I suppose that's the very high strength and shall keep some hope. With water: a little cologne, burnt Brussels sprouts and artichokes. Very rustic. Mouth (neat): very brutal indeed, raw, newmakey… Big ashes and notes of lemon drops, with a kerosene-y side. With water: I'm happy to report that we tamed it! It took a little patience and quite some Vittel, but that worked. Big peat, ham and kippers, grapefruits, and just litres of olive brine. Which would even come with proper olives, mind you. Proud of myself (what rubbish, s.!) Finish: very long, salty, with typical notes of antiseptic. Comments: I was about to suggest you poured this into your favourite hipflask, but then you'd need to carry a 1.5l bottle of water with you. Anyway, fun young Laphroaig to play tricks on some friends. Like, 'see what water does'.
SGP:367 - 85 points.

Secret Islay 11 yo 2008/2020 (56.6%, The Taste Of Whisky, 137 bottles)

Secret Islay 11 yo 2008/2020 (56.6%, The Taste Of Whisky, 137 bottles) Four stars
Some wolves on the label, is that a clue? Not too sure… This is a blend of ex-bourbon and PX octaves, I suppose it'll all depend on the proportions… Colour: amber. Probably a lot of PX. Nose: struck matches and gunpowder, then burnt molasses, Nescafé and bitter chocolate, plus dunnage and dark toffee. With water:  same-ish. Notes of moist garden peat, soot, cold empty old pipe… Mouth (neat): excellent on the palate. It's probably not exactly a nosing whisky, but these tart orange-y notes just work. Wonderfully tight homemade Andalusian marmalade. With water: a little leather and touches of lavender. Finish: long and saltier. Alpine smoked charcuterie. Comments: PX always scares me but this time it behaved, even if this is a heavy peater indeed. How many hipflasks do you own?
SGP:467- 86 points.

Heart of Peatiness 12 yo 2008/2020 (58.5%, Dramful! Malt Connection, bourbon hogshead, cask # 360046)

Heart of Peatiness 12 yo 2008/2020 (58.5%, Dramful! Malt Connection, bourbon hogshead, cask # 360046) Four stars
According to the label, this one should be good for our hearts. I'll have to tell doctors. Colour: white wine. Nose: less coastal, more on broken branches, sunflower oil, bitter almonds, engine oils, brake fluid… It is almost as if Citroën had distilled this. Quite. With water: brilliant, gravel, chalk, wool, menthol… Mouth (neat): definitely sweeter, much more on citrus, rather hinting at something made not by Citroën, rather by Diageo. Oh and remember that Diageo also own a large share of Ardbeg! With water: perfect balance citrus vs. smoke and coastalness. Some limoncello. Finish: long, sweeter and fruitier yet. This is almost a liqueur de smoke et agrumes. Comments: very, very, and I mean very good, and extremely drinkable. That's the dangerous side – so don't pour this into a hipflask!
SGP:557 - 87 points.

Islay Single Malt 8 yo 2011/2020 (49.2%, Chapter 7, Chronicle, 1st fill barrels, casks #5, 146, 147, 893 bottles)

Islay Single Malt 8 yo 2011/2020 (49.2%, Chapter 7, Chronicle, 1st fill barrels, casks #5, 146, 147, 893 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: classic raw wool, chalk, new tweed, fresh nuts, a little shoe polish, baguette, hessian, and almond paste. Rather a lot of almond paste, marzipan… It's relatively soft. A touch of fruity olive oil. Mouth: really easy and real good. Goes down effortlessly, being a tad generic but absolutely not in the bad sense of that word. Peach liqueur, cider, a softer smokiness… Blind, I may have said Ardmore, but it is probably Caol Ila. Finish: medium, sweeter, easier, medium peated, very good. Comments: it is not complicated but it a high-pleasure young peater. I usually don't say these sorts of things but I would add that it's a perfect peater for beginners. And for seasoned enthusiasts alike. Faultless.
SGP:546 - 86 points.

84-87, that's where these young secret Islays usually sit. Let's see if we manage to break those barriers…

Islay Malt 8 yo 2008/2017 (59.8%, Whiskybroker, Mc Shelfie)

Islay Malt 8 yo 2008/2017 (59.8%, Whiskybroker, Mc Shelfie) Four stars
Lovely minimalistic label, makes a change. Colour: white wine. Nose: a little hot, but this oily softness with loads of cider apples and candlewax plus this rather distinctive ashiness would lead us to… south of Bunnahabhain. With water: more dry ashy smoke and soot. It lost the apples. Mouth (neat): good fruity arrival, on citrus, then ashes indeed and a little green pepper, with obvious oysters too. With water: brine and lemon juice, this rather margarita-y profile leaves little doubts. Finish: rather long, fresh, uncomplicated. More margarita in the aftertaste, plus perhaps tiny touches of pears and pineapples. That's the youth. Comments: cool and very good. It is even a little refreshing.
SGP:546 - 85 points.

Secret Islay 2006 (60%, Clan Denny for Or Sileis, Taiwan, hogshead, 330 bottles, +/-2020)

Secret Islay 2006 (60%, Clan Denny for Or Sileis, Taiwan, hogshead, 330 bottles, +/-2020) Four stars
I believe there's also been a 2005 bottled at a lower strength that used to share the same roaring label. I think Clan Denny is a brand by Douglas McGibbon, which is a brand by Douglas Laing. Capeesh? Colour: white wine. Nose: tighter again, with more soot, seawater and antiseptic. But lemons are soon to pop out. Mercurochrome, camphor, ointments, creosote. With water: lambswool and lemon juice. Classic. Mouth (neat): absolutely excellent, very creamy. To be honest, this is as if someone had blended Laphroaig with Caol Ila. Or mezcal with limoncello and tincture of iodine. Right. With water: you may add some rooty earthiness, but it would also get much sweeter. That's troubling… Finish: rather long, sweet, with notes of lemon fudge and a little more salt. Comments: rather an easy one again, as long as you don't forget to add good water. As always and contrarily to what brands will tell you, better too hard than too soft.
SGP:556 - 86 points.

An Islay Distillery 9 yo 2008/2018 (59.1%, Malt Musketeers, Small Batch release)

An Islay Distillery 9 yo 2008/2018 (59.1%, Malt Musketeers, Small Batch release) Three stars and a half
Musketeers? So this would be a bottling by D'Artagnan and compadres (Aramis, Athos and Porthos). Some fight to be expected. Colour: white wine. Nose: a very smoky one. A little metal polish too, copper, old tools… With water: raw. Mercurochrome at cask strength and a lot of metal polish. Mouth (neat): very medicinal. More antiseptics, nail polish remover, acetone and… well, that should give it away. With water: really rough. I like it but this one too would rather be a hipflask-malt. Finish: long and salty. Drinking seawater. Comments: pretty extreme. Not one that will go down too easily, on the other hand this brutality is rather spectacular. A few more years, I suppose. Still upper-middle-class peaty malt in my book. That's right, UMC.
SGP:467 - 84 points.

Islay Single Malt 27 yo 1992/2020 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, refill barrel, 293 bottles)

Islay Single Malt 27 yo 1992/2020 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, refill barrel, 293 bottles) Five stars
The WhiskySponge has a thing with René Magritte. And with great whiskies. Colour: gold. Nose: yes we've noticed this was older, and that shows on the nose. It is much subtler than the youngsters, naturally, more on mentholy herbs of various sorts, various oils as well, some fresh seashells (all kinds, really, from whelks to clams), plus these delicate carbon notes, Thai massage balm (I am not speaking from experience, just a guess), a large plate of sushi with a lot of nori, and even notes of sake. Not making that up, sake. Kampai. Mouth: lemons, smoked salmon, coriander, crab, seawater, more seaweed, lighter miso, and once again, sake. This is how all Japanese malts should taste, if you ask me, so that they would all display some Japanness. Finish: pretty long and certainly fino-y. This hasn't seen any sherry, and yet, it feels 'fino'. Clearly an asset in my book. Salty aftertaste. Comments: brilliant. Carefully selected smoky distillate at a proper age, you cannot beat this. Almost 92, but I'm afraid this is not your day, Sponge! Take this!
SGP:466 - 91 points.

Islay Malt 27 yo 1993/2020 (49.9%, Thompson Bros., 536 bottles)

Islay Malt 27 yo 1993/2020 (49.9%, Thompson Bros., 536 bottles) Five stars
Some say the Thompson Bros. have added a picture of their friend the WhiskySponge to this label. So, it is a kind of honey badger with some sponge head and wings, apparently, here pictured after its seventh jab of AstraZeneca. It takes what it takes. Colour: straw. Nose: a shier, more austere, perhaps also more elegant interpretation of 'an old peater'. Tiny grasses and herbs in the woods, a little coriander, certainly some gentian, fresh almonds, a drop of chartreuse, some wet ashes, a tiny touch of pine liqueur… (they make the best ones here in the Vosges Mountains – but of course)… And just a touch of williams pear too. Mouth: extremely good, simpler, more on straight citrus with a tropical side that may suggest this would be L (ends with a g). Drops of mercurochrome, apple liqueur, lapsang souchong and earthy riesling. As a matter of fact, it tends to become earthier by the minute. Finish: long and very medicinal now. The cat's out of the bag. Comments: beats anything recent by the distillery. Blending stocks, they said.
SGP:567 - 91 points.

I agree this is gonna get tougher, now that we've stumbled upon two well-aged wonders, but our heart remains willig and pure. Not too sure about that latter part.  

Peat & Sherry (55.4%, Elements of Islay, Canada exclusive, Kensington Wine Market, sherry hogshead, cask #47, 475 bottles, 2020)

Peat & Sherry (55.4%, Elements of Islay, Canada exclusive, Kensington Wine Market, sherry hogshead, cask #47, 475 bottles, 2020) Four stars
I find it pretty cool that some Canadian bottling would end up in Alsace. But it's true that we've always got special relations, since WWI. Having said that, I'll have to work on my Canadian whiskies, but I'm sure my dear friend Davin would help. Anyway, this is Scottish, not Canadian… Colour: red amber. Nose: rather oak than sherry at first, ground coffee, walnut stain, teak oil, stuff like that. Chestnut honey and Guinness. No real lace at this point, but let's go on… (by the way, do you know Alice Cooper's sweet record 'Lace and Whiskey'? Check it out). With water: wood, 'an afternoon at Ikea's', pinecones, hot chocolate, embrocations… Mouth (neat): thickish, tarry, heavy, oily and ridden with liquorice and pine-y stuff. Maybe a tad challenging, maybe rather for the great wide open, as Tom Petty would have said. With water: softer, more on chocolate and black teas. I like it better at +/-45% vol. Finish: long, on salted chocolate and lemon. There's also something Demerara-y. Comments: this heavy baby slaps your cheeks but give it some of your time and you'll become friends. Perhaps would I have named it 'Sherry & Peat' instead...
SGP:466 - 86 points.

Peat Reek 'Embers' (59.4%, Blackadder, hogshead, 285 bottles, 2016)

Peat Reek 'Embers' (59.4%, Blackadder, hogshead, 285 bottles, 2016) Four stars
It's no secret that we're fans of both Black Adder and Blackadder. Let's try this 'tomato with wheels', rumour has it that it was a little extreme… Colour: straw. Nose: at the doctor's. Mercurochrome, iodine, bandages, gauze, plaster. With water: brine, oysters. Mouth (neat): makes you yodel. I went across to Switzerland , Where all the Yodellers be, To try to learn to yodel , With my yodel-oh-ee-dee. Strong salt, tart lemons, iodine, varnish, acetone. With water: I climbed a big high mountain, On a clear and sunny day, And met a yodellin' gal, Up in a little Swiss chalet. Water does nothing to it, it remains pretty rough and yodelling. Although, I have to say, some nice touches of melon and peach juice would start to balance all this madness after a few minutes. Finish: long, more syrupy, always rough. Comments: very good, just extremely rustic. Well now I'm gonna teach you, How to yodel just like me, It's easy when you're singin', To go yodel-diddly-oh-oh-dee. Just drink this.
SGP:557 - 85 points.

Images of Islay 1982/2013 'Port Ellen Lighthouse' (53.2%, Malts of Scotland, sherry cask, 212 bottles)

Images of Islay 1982/2013 'Port Ellen Lighthouse' (53.2%, Malts of Scotland, sherry cask, 212 bottles) Five stars
Hold on, this was Port Ellen! I have to confess I had never taken notice, or I would have tried this baby a long time ago. Mea Culpa, mea maxima Culpa! Colour: gold. Nose: it's a lighter one for sure, I don't get much heavy tarriness, rather a little rubber (new wellies) and just sourdough and other bready notes. Leaven and seashells, plus a little gasoline. With water: acetic peat, balsamic vinegar, slightly vinegary oloroso, smoked almonds… In truth this is getting better. A fatter Islayer then any  of its neighbours. Plastics. Mouth (neat): there, roots, tar, liquorice, rubber, smoked tea, bitter oranges… This time it would gather its forces. With water: there, it unfolds on coastal notes, salty resins, sweeter brine (red peppers?)… It's really getting there, becoming medicinal at that, salty, iodine-y. Looks like it just wanted to take its time. Which, as we all know, is the secret of success. Finish: long, salty, peppery and really 'something else'. No wonder the owners wanted to restart this. Comments: a belated thank you Thomas for this one! I knew it as about a lighthouse, I hadn't noticed it was about Port Ellen's. Feeling deep shame. Have I told you I just loved this bottle? I'd swear there's even some kind of terroir inside.
SGP:467 - 93 points.

Let's be persistent, you never know…

Images of Islay 'Rhinns of Islay Lighthouse' (53.2%, Malts of Scotland, 176 bottles, +/-2014)

Images of Islay 'Rhinns of Islay Lighthouse' (53.2%, Malts of Scotland, 176 bottles, +/-2014) Four stars and a half
The Rhinns? If it is peaty it is Port Charlotte. If it isn't it is Bruichladdich and it shouldn't be here. Colour: white wine. Nose: Port Charlotte. It's great to be able to try an ueber-clean one, without any wine in the way, only seawater, sea breeze, fresh almonds, grapefruit and fish oils. Pristine distillate. With water: almonds and carbon dust, rapeseed oil, linseed, crushed grape pips (not something that's really useful, we agree). … Mouth (beat): still young, as we're finding pears. Other than that, cigarette ashes and samphires over some brown bread toast. Seaweed spread. With water: awesome but you need to get the amount of water right. Too much H2O makes it sink. Finish: super good. Kiwis and rhubarb (yay) and smoked green tea. That's new to me, I didn't know that you could smoke green tea too. You learn every day. Comments: superb. Why I haven't tried these as they were coming out, I do not know. I must be very bad at this game.
SGP:468 - 89 points.

Where do we stand? In truth we could go on for a little while… Plenty is no plague.

Red Snake (59.7%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, for Taiwan, 272 bottles, 2017)

Red Snake (59.7%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, for Taiwan, 272 bottles, 2017) Four stars
So, as I understood it, these Red Snakes are as much about crazy peat as the 'Raw Peat' are. Robin, au secours, I'm all for snakes but I'm afraid I do not understand everything… Colour: white wine. Nose: stewed greengages and apples, with a peatiness that's really very discreet this time. Wrigley's Juicy Fruit. With water: brioche. NO smoke. Mouth (neat): not peat that I can find, rather mirabelle juice. My mistake. With water: indeed, plum jam and soft fruits, jams and syrups. Finish: same. Comments: love this little Red Snake, it's a brilliant bottle. It's just that there isn't any peat and to be honest, nowhere did it say that that it was stemming from the Isle of Islay. Shame, I feel shame, I think I shall now recite twenty Pater Nosters (yeah, like, they'll all believe you, S.)
SGP:541 - 86 points.

I agree, better stop now. C.U. Wait, perhaps a very last one…

Islay #2 25 yo (48.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 3124 bottles, 2018)

Islay #2 25 yo (48.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 3124 bottles, 2018) Five stars
Said to be Ardbeg, but single casks or tiny batches could just fool anyone. Apparently, the label's been done on acid. Why not. Colour: light gold. Nose: oh God, Comté cheese, proper Gruyère, Fribourg… All those made in summer, not winter. First time ever I'm finding this this deeply in a malt whisky. Astounding fermentary notes, but I'm not sure this is for everyone, you're soon to wonder about gym socks and 'third half-times', as they say in rugby. Especially when they win. Bulgarian yoghurt. Mouth: amazing. Vinegars, cheeses, funk, muck rum, game, chilli sauces, peppers, tinier, subtler spices, rotting fruits, burnt things, exotic woods (artisanal cachaça-style)… Another fractal palate… Did anyone notice this one when it came out? What was the world doing? Finish: supra-long, on chilli sauce for pizza and the most acidic lemons ever. Please no pineapple. Comments: I was not expecting this, really. A whacky beauty, free whisky as in free jazz. Was Sam Simmons already on board?
SGP:367 - 92 points.
 

June 7, 2021


Whiskyfun

The vicarious Feis Ile sessions
The Catch-Up session

Celebrating Islay and Feis Ile from Whisky Fun Towers, with carefully selected whiskies from most distilleries, while we're all dreaming of 2022...

Just a wee bunch of Islay whiskies that came in after their respective Open Days. It's been a good week, even if we may have exaggerated here and there, but that's also how we used to do it when going to Feis with friends. We were always bringing hundreds of whiskies with us because, remember, any drinks taste better when you're on location, and even better when you share them with friends. But we'll be back in flesh, I just hope it won't become too troublesome to bring back Scotch whisky to the UK after Brexit…

pipe

Bruichladdich 14 yo 2007/2021 (50.4%, Fisherman's Retreat, Rivesaltes Wine Cask and Yalumba finish, 50cl)

Bruichladdich 14 yo 2007/2021 (50.4%, Fisherman's Retreat, Rivesaltes Wine Cask and Yalumba finish, 50cl) Four stars
Ex-wine cask Laddie finished in a wine cask? How very Bruichladdichian! Now remember Rivesaltes is fortified, let's say it's akin to some lighter PX sherry of some sorts… As for Yalumba, it is in the Barossa valley, South Australia. Colour: dark gold. Nose: I'm immediately reminded of some warehouse tastings during Feis, with Jim McEwan and the lovely songs of Robin Laing. You do feel the wine a lot, but integration's been well mastered while you wouldn't quite get any sour grapiness, lees, or any dirty-ish wines. I'm finding raisins, banana cake, dried apricots, orange cake, these sorts of things. Oh and before you ask, no sulphur this far. With water: same. Nice roundness, apricots, mirabelle liqueur, sweet pinot gris, tangerine liqueur, sultanas… This is really very nice, even if the Laddie's 'Atlantic freshness' may have been lost a wee bit. Mouth (neat): a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy. Jaffa cakes with some pepper, chlorophyl, cherry stem tea, cinnamon, cake… Something a little gritty. With water: much nicer with water, rather on fruitcake, pear eau-de-vie, chamomile… And the oak behaved. Finish: rather long, grassier and leafier, as almost always. Cakes again in the aftertaste, plus a little bitter liquorice. Comments: I like it much, much better than I would have thought. I mean, double wine, imagine!
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2021 (51%, Les Grands Alambics, Birds Series, hogshead)

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2021 (51%, Les Grands Alambics, Birds Series, hogshead) Four stars and a half
What would the most honourable bottlers of whisky or rum do without birds? I think Moon Import really started something, back in the days… Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: typical lemon juice, oyster juice, antiseptic and disinfectant, with wee bit of vanilla fudge and drops of menthol essence. Pristine. With water: as usual, gears rather toward wool and chalk. The menthol seems to be a tad louder than in other CIs but there, I love menthol. Mouth (neat): excellent, fresh, playful, smoky, lemony, salty… Perhaps a tad sweeter than others? Jellybeans? Jell-O? Someone should make some Caol Ila Jell-O one day, that would be a hit. Some powder, some water, et voilà. With water: oh, a little eucalyptus, toothpaste, some green olives… Finish: rather, rather lovely. Part of those young Caol Ilas that are rather more medicinal, and smokier as well, or am I dreaming? Comments: perfect whisky. Sure Caol Ila could get more complex, but for that to really happen it needs to reach, say the age of 30. Or 40. Or benefit from some very long bottle-aging. No, excellent.
SGP:457 - 88 points.

Caol Ila 12 yo (56.6%, OB, Feis Ile 2021, high-char Moscatel finish, 3000 bottles, 2021)

Caol Ila 12 yo (56.6%, OB, Feis Ile 2021, high-char Moscatel finish, 3000 bottles, 2021) Three stars
Some high-char Moscatel finish, excuse me but isn't that a little 'LOL'? Well maybe not, if they've charred them after they had been Moscatelised (!), Dr-Jim-Swan style. I suppose that's what they've been doing, Moscatel-STR. Colour: light gold. Nose: it's that Caol Ila's such a pristine distillate that it could take just anything and walk out proud. What I'm trying to say is that this is Caol Ila, not Moscatel – which was not always the case, say 15 years ago. We've got a plateful of olives and oysters in front of us. Buon appetito (S., that's Italian, not Spanish). With water: lemons, crushed oyster shells (some people use that as a fertiliser), a touch of camphor… Mouth (neat): good fun, with a Moscatel that's very obvious this time, without being too cloying. Remember, Moscatel is for old ladies. So, well, we've got smoked muscat here, with some lime, pineapples and rose jelly... With water: some kind of balance has been kept but it would tend to get a tad sweetish, to be honest. Plantation Caol Ila. Finish: medium, sweet. Pineapples, brine, smoked salmon. Comments: an extremely interesting, and good proposition, very well made, but I'm really fond of Caol Ila al natural, so this feels to me like if someone had decided to repaint a Botticelli. Quite.
SGP:646 - 82 points.

This is becoming winefun, no?

Caol Ila 2011/2021 (61.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland for USA, cask #300162)

Caol Ila 2011/2021 (61.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland for USA, cask #300162) Four stars and a half
I've seen this one nowhere yet but I just couldn't wait, given that Elixir are masters of Caol Ila (and Clynelish, Ardmore, Linkwood, Imperial, Buckfast, Pol Roger…) Colour: white wine. Nose: burnt tyres, anyone? London, murder attempt on poor whisky blogger, that'll cost you! I'm just hesitating between a Pirelli and a Michelin. With water: oh, interesting, white asparagus, retsina, eggplants, coal tar, oysters… Mouth (neat): totally huge. More tyres, salt, eating candles, lemons with salt… Well, let this dry out, you'll find 5 grams of salt in your copita the next morning. With water: it keeps kicking you in your teeth. Hard to tame but that's part of its charms. Finish: very long, ueber-salty. Comments: remember those old stories about workers rolling barrels of Bowmore in the loch, from the pier to the puffers? Wondering if they don't do the same at CI while no one's watching. In theory, there's no salt in whisky, In practice, this is extremely salty (and tarry!) Love it.
SGP:367 - 88 points.

Lagavulin 13 yo (54.4%, OB, Feis Ile 2021, Port seasoned finish, 6000 bottles, 2021)

Lagavulin 13 yo (54.4%, OB, Feis Ile 2021, Port seasoned finish, 6000 bottles, 2021) Four stars and a half
It is interesting that they would issue some flavoured Lagavulin for Feis. Port seasoned? At least they tell you so and would not pretend to some proper Port pipes, but it is well a flavouring process. Season wood, which in turn will season the whisky. And presto. Colour: pale gold. That's good news, it's not pink. Nose: it's a softer, rounder Lagavulin, with indeed these whiffs of latex that are also to be found in the 16, some embrocations, tea, then rather blood oranges in the background, perhaps a little cassis but I may be dreaming… With water: I have to agree there's no Portness here. Where did the Port go? Mouth (neat): of course they do it right. What's troubling is that this would be a very citrusy Lagavulin, which is rather unseen in my book. I'm afraid I like this a lot, even if it's unnatural Lagavulin. Sometimes, there's nothing you can do, you have to keep pace with 'progress'. With water: I'm afraid this is very good. Good salt and a feeling of circa 2010 Lagavulin 16. Finish: it's like mortadella, I'm wondering if they should really tell us how they make them. Comments: as they say, if they've changed the sacred cow, it was not a sacred cow. But I've tried my best to fight this odd bottling and I just fell for it. Bravo to the new(ish) French manager! Even if we keep missing Georgie who's flown to Port Ellen. Well, walked…
SGP:467 - 89 points.

Laphroaig 12 yo 2006/2018 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask for Ardnahoe Distillery Shop, refill sherry butt, cask #HL 14745)

Laphroaig 12 yo 2006/2018 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask for Ardnahoe Distillery Shop, refill sherry butt, cask #HL 14745) Five stars
I agree this is not new, but it just came in. Sometimes the ways of UPS are just mysterious… Colour: gold. Nose: it's a rather narrow, focused, compact Laphroaig, with some lemon marmalade, plasticine and gauze. Some metal polish too. Love this, I suppose it'll just explode with water… With water: oh awesome, new leather in a new car, new engine oil, more plasticine and polishes, perhaps a drop of roasted sesame oil… Mouth (neat): brilliant. Very fat Laphroaig, with once again a lot of plasticine, fish oil, grapefruit juice, also some roots and earth, pretty much mezcal-style. Right up my alley. With water: there, sardines, anchovies, brine, what we call anchoïade, or even aioli… … Finish: long, on kippers and any other fat, smoky and salty fish. Comments: don't ask for fruits, there weren't many but this was pretty glorious. Epic, epic and glorious. But did they throw herrings into the wash stills?
SGP:257 - 90 points.

A last one, perhaps…

Lp12 2014/2021 (54.7%, Elixir Distillers 'Elements Of Islay', sherry hogsheads, 1672 bottles)

Lp12 2014/2021 (54.7%, Elixir Distillers 'Elements Of Islay', sherry hogsheads, 1672 bottles) Three stars and a half
Angus had tried this one the other day and came up with a moderate score (WF 84), which piqued my curiosity… Colour: straw. Nose: burnt butter and toasted bread, sour wines, burnt papers, ashtray… I agree this is a little bizarre, and at least a little jumbled. Burnt raisins… In Laphroaig? With water: teas, silverware, clams. I agree. Mouth (neat): not bad at all but a little eau-de-vie-ish and clearly too young. Kirschwasser blended with seawater, perhaps not the best idea ever. With water: better for sure but when you're a whisky and when you're young, better be high-definition, which is not quite the case here. Sour and burnt here and there. Finish: medium, herbal and rather sour and metallic. Comments: let's not exaggerate, this is still solid Laphroaig, but it was probably too young. I agree with Angus. And not sure those sherry hogsheads could do much.
SGP:457 - 83 points.

Oh hell, as we won't do any Islays before… at least June 20…

Kilchoman 13 yo 2007/2021 (53.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #197, bourbon, 204 bottles) All Kilchomans we've tried the other day have been either very good, or just perfect. Even the PXs, mind you. I know we get a little catty sometimes, but let's be honest, what Kilchoman have achieved within just 15 years (roughly) is impressive. Colour: light gold. Nose: eh, touches of plastic and new iPhone, that was not planned. Well well well… With water: metal polishes and new shoes, new sneakers, fake Hi-Fi devices, any forged items bought from Wish or Vova (those junk operations that will make anyone serious puke for hours till definitive death). Oh and bisphenol. Mouth (neat): bizarre. Banana wine, plasticine, marzipan… With water: metallic fruits and sour fruit juices. Linseed oil, carbon dust, gherkins from Aldi's… Hello? Finish: medium, a tad stale, cardboardy and questionable. Comments: most certainly a wrecked sample. A good tip when you do samples as a taster, anything bizarrely and unexpectedly metallic and /or plastic-like? Just drop it, you might just be tasting the cap. I wouldn't have published this but I'm keeping this note as a warning, for the cause. SGP: no/no/no – (no score) points. (please refer to Angus's note for this otherwise wonderful Kilchoman!)

Sometimes more is less. Pace e salute!

 

June 6, 2021


Whiskyfun

The vicarious Feis Ile sessions
Today Jura

Celebrating Islay and Feis Ile from Whisky Fun Towers, with carefully selected whiskies from most distilleries, while we're all dreaming of 2022...

As I remembered it, Jura used to share their Open Day with Bunnahabhain. Or was it Caol Ila? But it seems that they've now got their own day, on the Sunday after Ardbeg. We've had some great fun touring Jura Distillery in the past, I remember for instance a long discussion with Richard Paterson, Willie Tait and manager Mickey Heads about 'where does the methanol really go' in distillation. Oh and about the concept of equilibrium.

Jura

But that was a long time ago, only the palm trees will accurately recall those funny times. But those palm trees never talk, which is better, we all agree. Now we'll only have one or two of them; oh and aren't we happy that no bottler's ever done a 'Secret Jura'? Yet?

Isle of Jura 21 yo (44%, OB, +/-2016)

Isle of Jura 21 yo (44%, OB, +/-2016) Five stars
There had been a bicentenary 21 back in 2010, which we had found pretty excellent back in the days (WF 88) but I've never tried this more regular version at 44%. I believe it's been discontinued, not too sure about that… Colour: amber. Nose: typical Jura, with some metal polish, mustard, autumn leaves, mutton suet and even cheese. I'm thinking gorgonzola, no? Then cakes and dried fruits, especially dried figs. Also notes of mead and, precisely, fig wine. Jura, when not buried under a lot of oak and/or wine, really is a malt unlike any other. Mouth: we've never been this close to walnut wine, and God knows we're mentioning walnut wine all the time in our humble tasting notes. I have to say I love this. We're also very close to some great amontillado, or perhaps palo cortado, whatever. Great drop, great sherry. Strength, mouthfeel and body are just totally perfect. Finish: rather long and rather sublimely mustardy. Of course, walnuts keep running the show in the aftertaste. Comments: maybe I'm amazed (S.!) but really, it is a great surprise. Cheers Richard Paterson, cheers Mickey Heads, and cheers Willie Tait (he who used to tell, 'I may be a Willie, but Richard Paterson is a Dick' - ah, the good old rustically unbridled days before the advent of brand escorts…)
SGP:462 - 90 points.

It is an indie that we should have as #2. I've always found these a little difficult to pin down, but I know that's me…

Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (46.3%, Thompson Bros., refill hogshead, cask #5310, 186 bottles)

Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (46.3%, Thompson Bros., refill hogshead, cask #5310, 186 bottles) Five stars
With the Paps of Jura on the label. Do you remember that there are three of them, but that you just cannot see more than two from any point of view? Colour: gold. Nose: a little un-Jura, perhaps, that is to say much fruitier, fresher, more aromatic than the officials. Maybe is that because the officials usually make abundant use of sherry and other wine casks? Perfect notes of overripe garden fruits, especially several kinds of pears, plums and apples, plus fruity hops and softer citrus. Tangerines are close. Seriously, this is a beautiful, extremely well-balanced nose. Mouth: good, this time, I understand. I like it that the mustardy, almost mezcaly core would remain obvious, while the fruits would then come out one after the other, some 'western' and some 'tropical'. Greengages, guavas, pears, papayas, grapefruits… And many others. Finish: long and perhaps more on vegetables. Brussels sprouts stewed in IPA? No wonder no one ever wants me to cook anything at home. Comments: it's a tie. They were completely different but the structures were similar. Proper distillery character, how very cool!
SGP:552 - 90 points.

 

Over to Angus in Edinburgh...

 

 

 

Jura 30 yo 1991/2021 (46.5%, Thompson Brothers, refill hogshead, 216 bottles)

Jura 30 yo 1991/2021 (46.5%, Thompson Brothers, refill hogshead, 216 bottles)
Congrats to the Thompson Brothers on reaching the not at all shabby milestone of 100 bottlings. Colour: straw. Nose: dusty cereals and soft waxes at first. A lovely and rather scented nose with pollens, chalk, oatcakes and these wee milk bottle sweets. Indeed, this kind of lactic / waxy profile seems to be a hallmark of many of these early 1990s vintage Juras which are currently appearing. In time some sandalwood and beach pebbles emerge. Mouth: lovely arrival all on stone fruits, putty, wood spices, waxes and this impression of sticky, glazed fruits. Things like pears baked in calvados and a hint of sultana. Yet globally it still remains pretty fresh, green and with this lovely older style balance between west coast highland and coastal styles. Finish: medium, lightly herbal in a green and rather fresh way, green banana, kumquat and a little menthol tobacco. Comments: Is it just me, or are these batches of early 1990s Jura all pretty superb?
SGP: 561 - 88 points.

 

 

 

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

 

June 5, 2021


Whiskyfun

The vicarious Feis Ile sessions
Today an Ardbegganza

Celebrating Islay and Feis Ile from Whisky Fun Towers, with carefully selected whiskies from most distilleries, while we're all dreaming of 2022...

Ardbeg 'Aaargh!'? Or was it 'Scraaatch'? Well I don't think we shall try those slightly silly new flavoured NASses in the near future. I do not despise them at all, mind you, on the contrary, they may even be pretty good, but today we've got more serious stuff on the tasting table… Please fasten your seatbelts, this is going to be a true old-school session and we won't do things by half. Do we say eleven, Nigel? What's more we'll try to keep this (as well as ourselves) relatively vertical… Like, 2001 to 1967? Are you ready?

Ardbeg
Magazine advert circa 2002. To be cancelled? >

Ardbeg 19 yo 2001/2020 (51.8%, The Single Malts Of Scotland, for USA, refill barrel / 1st fill barrel, 216 bottles)

Ardbeg 19 yo 2001/2020 (51.8%, The Single Malts Of Scotland, for USA, refill barrel / 1st fill barrel, 216 bottles) Five stars
Angus already tried this one for these humble pages, but I sure won't miss this opportunity to try some well-aged post-reopening Ardbeg too. Colour: light gold. Nose: not a big phat Ardbeg, rather a combination of fresh butter with olive oil and some kind of almondy peatiness at first, and only then something tarrier and more coastal. Also a feeling of ashes kept in brine, which is pretty singular, I agree. The whole is extremely nice. With water: with iodine and bandages, I find this one very medicinal once water's been added. Mouth (neat): kerosene flavoured with bananas and mangos! The latter most probably from some pretty active American oak, but trumpets please, we've been spared any coconut. Tar and liquorice lozenges, a drop of seawater, some echoes of pad Thai. With water: softened, salted, also with more ashes. Finish: rather long, with a lovely brine and those green olives back in the aftertaste, which I'll always cherish, also with a little sour wood.. Comments: we're flying pretty high already. I mean, the scores and stuff, not us! Very brine-y Ardbeg.
SGP:566 - 90 points.

Let's jump over Y2K…

Ardbeg 10 yo 1999/2009 (57.5%, Chieftains Choice, German Chieftains Society, barrel, cask #114, 228 bottles)

Ardbeg 10 yo 1999/2009 (57.5%, Chieftains Choice, German Chieftains Society, barrel, cask #114, 228 bottles) Five stars
This is post-reopening too. Ian Macleod have had several excellent Ardbegs, most at 46% if I remember well, but this is cask strength. In short the Germans' Choice (hugs, friends!) Colour: straw. Nose: ultra-clean, zesty, sour, fermentary and on loads of lime. I totally adore this and can't wait to add water in order to dig deeper into it without burning my nostrils. With water: oh, mandarin skins and engine oil, you cannot be against that. Brilliant. Mouth (neat): we're not far from the official 10, only with 11.5 more degrees. Extraordinarily pure and tight, with just tar, lemons, seawater, liquorice and cough medicine. Extremely Ardbeg. With water: disintegrates, meaning that it's getting more complex, which is obviously a great thing. Several citruses, ashes, rare oils, hessian, tars, medicines… Keyword here: tar. Finish: same for quite some time. Keep the bottle away once you've got your pour! Comments: when the distillate is perfect, and it is perfect here, it's hard to beat a great ten. Remember neighbours Laphroaig's early 10 C/S?
SGP:557 - 92 points.

We're really too high and fast already, given that we've got quite 'a schedule' to meet… Ha, nothing more invigorating than self-imposed challenges!

Ardbeg 26 yo (47.2%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Feis Ile 2019, refill hogshead, 387 bottles)

Ardbeg 26 yo (47.2%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Feis Ile 2019, refill hogshead, 387 bottles) Five stars
Some sources wrote that this was a 1992, others that it is a 1991, so let's claim it is a 1991.5. And why not? Colour: white wine. Nose: I find it very unusual, very grassy and sour, almost on sauce béarnaise at first (tarragon, chervil, shallot, butter) but the expected hessian, tar and just seawater are soon to take over. Now some kind of curry-mayonnaise-y notes remain there while crabs and langoustines are approaching too. I love this, a lot of action and difference. The salt of life. Mouth: it is really very singular. More tangerines and even litchis, with a kind of fake softness (you would believe it's soft at times but it kicks you back) then some kind of tarry mustard. Wondering whether some kind of *** chef hasn't been working on this hogshead. Heston Blumenthal? Finish: medium to long, always with this funny smoky mustard. Shallots in the aftertaste. Quite. Comments: a little disturbing here and there but in the end of the day, it's a stunning, softer dram. It's just that there probably isn't any other of exactly the same kind around (although I wouldn't hold my breath in that department).
SGP:655 - 91 points.

Not much to say about Ardbeg in the 1980s. Zzzz zzzz… Let's jump to the 1970s… There, we'll have a lot to say!

Ardbeg 40 yo 1979/2020 (56.8%, Signatory Vintage, bourbon barrel, cask #9861, 82 bottles)

Ardbeg 40 yo 1979/2020 (56.8%, Signatory Vintage, bourbon barrel, cask #9861, 82 bottles) Five stars
That's right, they were having this. Signatory always liked to fly under the radars in some respects (which I deeply respect, precisely). Ah, those useless electronic chatterboxes called 'social media'… Let's also remember that the sister cask for Kirsch Import (#9859) had been pretty stunning. Colour: gold. Nose: let's be clear, this is not 'too old', 'too oaky', 'too tired' or anything like that. That's sorted, let's move on… Some fat Chablis at first (like say Grenouilles in a hot vintage), then really embrocations and ointments of all kinds. That's the main trait. Also mangos and maracuja, oysters, clams, kelp… And that famous, very emblematic 'old fisherman's boat' that, I'm sure, no one's ever seen in real life. It's probably just a descriptor. With water: oh! Drinking old chartreuse on a northern beach. Mouth (neat): no! I mean, yes! Extremely cutting, sharp, blade-y, tell me about a lazy old malt. Thousands of green lemons, lemongrass, chocolate mint (leaves), then a feeling of salted smoked artichokes. And always this emblematic tar. With water: excellentissimal. Sour grapefruits, iodine, camphor, tar, oil and paraffin, heavy salted liquorice, tar… Have I mentioned tar before? Because this is very tarry. You may start to look for the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade's number, thank you. Finish: hate it that it would finish, but love this salty, smoky, tarry lemon juice. Medicinal aftertaste. Comments: extremely Ardbeggian, undisputedly, and spectacularly alive and kicking. Yet another gift to mankind, and yet again we can only meditate. To think that this thing called whisky started as an agricultural by-product, two or three or four hundred years ago.
SGP:565 - 93 points.

Ardbeg 1975/2005 (44.7%, OB for Islay Festival 2005, fino, cask #4719, 188 bottles)

Ardbeg 1975/2005 (44.7%, OB for Islay Festival 2005, fino, cask #4719, 188 bottles) Five stars
Okay I wrote some short notes for this one on location, as it was launched. There was also an oloroso and the world was separated into two categories, the friends who preferred the oloroso, and the ones who preferred the fino, so this one. I was part of the first group but only fools never change their minds, so sixteen years later, let's give a little more attention to this legendary wee fino… Colour: gold. Nose: boy this was 30 as it came out. Incredible tightness and I would believe it changed over the years in glass, becoming tighter, more 'one', and more herbal too. What's sure is that Ardbeg, back in those days, was a fatter spirit. Amazing pine-y aromas, tar liqueur, ashes, kelp, with rather less of that meatiness I had detected back in 2005. But did it vanish or have I changed? Mouth: I'll say it, I liked Signatory's latest even better. This is superb, naturally, with these grapefruits, this tar, and indeed this salty fino-y character, but I do not find it vastly complex. A bit of a death seat effect after Signatory's 40? Perhaps… Finish: no, fantastic, grassy and a tad bitter, but with great tar and a spoonful of coffee dregs. Comments: amazing but one step, I mean one point behind the 40. Now I'm re-reading my old notes and cannot not notice that I used to complain pretty vigorously, while on location, about the fact that they had decided to sell this little glory for £180.
SGP:367 - 92 points.

Ardbeg 1975/2006 (40.9%, OB, bourbon, cask #4699, 121 bottles)

Ardbeg 1975/2006 (40.9%, OB, bourbon, cask #4699, 121 bottles) Four stars
Let's take our time with this one, the strength being low it could be a little fragile… There was for example a very light 1975 for Italy that was almost diaphanous, but granted, it was a sherry (WF 84). So, with extra-care… Colour: gold. Nose: the nose is very fine, a bit metallic, more herbal than others, with really rather a lot of brine and touches of green leaves and pips, perhaps even a little dry cider. Tabloids of the day at the airport. Very lovely but nothing earthshattering this time. Mouth: it reminds me of the official 17 years old, remember it? I believe it was the first new official Ardbeg after the reopening and rather inexplicably, they had gone for a lighter style and only 40% vol. Anyway, this one's a little light too, but not flat! It's just that there isn't really any backbone, rather a collection of tiny flavours, tarragon, clams, cigarette ash, a little lemon, a hint of caper and a background of wet chalk. Almost no middle.  Finish: let alone a finish. It is really light Ardbeg. Some almond milk. Comments: let us not be too fussy, the oak had not taken over and it's not become cardboardy or tea-ish, it is just very light, and frustrating. But I wouldn't refuse a double-magnum.
SGP:355 - 87 points.

Ardbeg 1974/2006 (54.5%, OB, bourbon, cask #3326, 110 bottles)

Ardbeg 1974/2006 (54.5%, OB, bourbon, cask #3326, 110 bottles) Five stars
One hundred and ten bottles, how rare is this one? Now all these 1974s that they had bottled around 2005 came out with a very low outturn, for no reasons that I could understand. So they've all become extremely rare. This one I had never tried, by the way. In life, you just have to wait… Colour: deep gold. Nose: this is like coming home. Smoked bananas and tarry ropes, grapefruit liqueur, fresh concrete and old garage, fresh almonds and shoe polish… I don't think you can do much better as far as heavier peaters go. Wonderful austerity. With water: our dear chalky Sancerre, with a drop of tar liqueur poured in. Mouth (neat): totally huge and concentrated, almost too extreme. I am joking, that's like claiming that Tyson was too strong. Loads of bitter oranges, huge tarriness, the feeling of eating a new pair of boots, a ton of mint, licking new Pirellis… Well this was Ardbeg as in Ardbeg. With water: in the own words of Roy Liechtenstein, wham! Please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade before it is too late. Finish: what a coda. One of the tarriest there ever was. Comments: this experience is almost animal, there's nothing to think about, no speculations to be had, the whisky just dominates you, whichever your reactions. Whisky for masochists? Perhaps…
SGP:568 - 94 points.

Ardbeg 1974/2005 (51.8%, OB, bourbon, for UK, cask #2751, 141 bottles)

Ardbeg 1974/2005 (51.8%, OB, bourbon, for UK, cask #2751, 141 bottles) Five stars
I agree 141 aren't many either. This is another bourbon, so maybe another orgasm to expect. By the way ever wondered why they never did any 'PX'? Case closed, let's move on… Colour: gold. Nose: oh a funny sucrosity at very first sniffs, perhaps even hints of strawberry cream, but let's remember that may come with peat. Sometimes, when you're wandering around Port Ellen Maltings (we all do that, don't we), you do smell strawberry yoghurt. I have been told by some high-ranked officials that that was normal! In any case, this one's actually rather on smoked tea (lapsang), fern and moss, perhaps even pu-her, and just earth and beach sand. This baby keeps you waiting… With water: ha, those new electronics, plastic bags, brake pads and shoe polish! Plus green bananas at the fruit and vegetable department. Mouth (neat): pungent, lemony, austere, ultra-grassy, tarry, salty, really not easy. Very oily mouthfeel, in truth this is almost oil that's been burning for a few seconds in your frying pan. With water: a lot of spearmint now. That's lovely. Finish: very long, tight and indeed vertical. The tarriness gets bigger again, and even the aftertaste remains a little grassy and challenging, on green walnuts and their skins. Almonds too. Comments: pure magic, but #3326 would cut it into halves. Should a fight occur, naturally.
SGP:468 - 92 points.

You wouldn't believe how tough this is, really. But we're doing this for the cause. Let's just have a wee break and then we'll have more 1974s and possibly some even older ones. As I said, this only for our common cause…

Good, we're back, with more 1974… The next cask they have filled just after that last one we've tried, actually (S., they can read numbers!)

Ardbeg 1974/2005 (52.1%, OB, for Oddbins, bourbon, cask #2752, 133 bottles)

Ardbeg 1974/2005 (52.1%, OB, for Oddbins, bourbon, cask #2752, 133 bottles) Five stars
Another tiny outturn, you see. Colour: gold. Nose: this time it's the smoke from a huge beach bonfire that first enters your nostrils, while you wonder if some environmentally inconsequent folks haven't thrown an old tyre into the fire. The starting grid of a Grand Prix… just after the start. So this one comes very tarry and 'burnt',  but quite bizarrely, it is soon to become much gentler, with all the expected citrus and fresh almonds entering the dance. Then oysters, seawater, shoe polish, lapsang souchong and embrocations. Rather epic. With water: oh fresh bread, wool, old tweed jacket that's seen many rainy moons, more hot tyres and even, as I sometimes say, 'the exhausts of an old 2-stroke Kawasaki'. Mouth (neat): this arrival is very citric; you're almost biting into some Seville orange (inadvertently). So there's a rather huge bitterness, with loads of tar and salt too. Coal tar. Huge! With water: an amazing softness now, this one really loves water. Soft olive oil, tar liqueur, more lapsang souchong, marzipan, just olives, perhaps half an anchovy,  smoked oysters… Finish: long, on brine and iodine, with some plasticine and shoe polish. The citrus standing back this time. Comments: almost a brute when neat, getting gentle as a wee Islay rabbit after you've brought it down to +/- 45% vol. Magnificent, of course.
SGP:457 - 92 points.

Let's move down the years…

Ardbeg 1973/2004 (49.3%, OB, bourbon hogshead, cask #1143, 216 bottles)

Ardbeg 1973/2004 (49.3%, OB, bourbon hogshead, cask #1143, 216 bottles) Five stars
Cask #1146, for Italy, was just a star in my book (WF 95). I'm reading my old notes and notice that I had deemed that one 'dangerous'. Are we in danger zone again?... Colour: straw. Nose: back to extreme tart white wines, Sancerre and some chenins blancs, with a majestic yet well integrated peatiness, a whole plate of seashells and langoustines (add a lobster if you wish), that beach bonfire… And just a total, almost refreshing brightness. Some kind of smoked bread too, marzipan, then whiffs of 'new sneakers' (close to new electronics but not quite) and just a big brand new book. A lot of ink. Mouth: big boy, extremely ashy at first, with a huge smoke of Octomore levels (was the purifier off?) and then the tartest lemons in the whole world. A very chalky and ashy mouth feel, rather on full- ashtray-mode. Very spectacular, even if it tends to become a tad rounder over time. Grapefruit juice, fat oysters, and just touches of vanilla from the cask. Finish: long, bright, smoky and ashy, with once again a little chenin blanc. Whisky de Loire? Some green apple liqueur and limoncello in the aftertaste, fifty-fifty. Comments: it is a perfect style, both very assertive and kind of refreshing. I was about to quote those stunning whites from around the city of Beaune in Burgundy, but I just won't this time.
SGP:467 - 93 points.

Perhaps is it time to put an end to this Ardbegganza, and to have a wee one that was distilled in the swinging 1960s? An independent in that case, that is to say one of those very legendary sherried dumpies by Signatory Vintage…

Ardbeg 30 yo 1967/1997 (50.3%, Signatory Vintage, USA, dark oloroso, cask #1141, 510 bottles)

Ardbeg 30 yo 1967/1997 (50.3%, Signatory Vintage, USA, dark oloroso, cask #1141, 510 bottles) Five stars
I've already tried this one in 2005 but my tasting note was too short. Having said that, the score had been extremely high (WF 95). Let us revisit this baby today and give it a little more time…  While remembering that sherry monsters usually love further aging in glass. So 30 years in a saucy oloroso butt plus 24 years in a bottle, that should have worked out super-well… Colour: copper mahogany. Nose: oh… In my little experience, heavy sherry and heavy peat either just clash, or, in a few cases, create a wonder. This seems to be a wonder, and I'm really happy I actually didn't remember it. Astounding tars and embrocations, liquorice menthol and cigars… And, well, it does floor you a wee bit, it's difficult to take notes, it is almost like when you would rather put down your camera in front of a sunset. Let's put down our camera… Mouth: incredible, this is so perfect! And really very dangerous. I sometimes like to quote Mishima, "true beauty is something that attacks, overpowers, robs, and finally destroys." Let us not fall into this wee Ardbeg's trap. Finish: eternal. Comments: right, coffee, camphor, pine resin, menthol, urchins, chocolate, walnuts, tar, tobacco, liquorice, eucalyptus… With all sliders to the top! Ardbeg's legend was also built by the indies.
SGP:477 - 96 points.

(Heartfelt thanks to KC but also to Lynda, Des, Stuart, Ollie, Billy, Andrew 1, Andrew 2, Anthony… great, great work and passion, everyone!)

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

 

June 4, 2021


Whiskyfun

The vicarious Feis Ile sessions
Today Bunnahabhain

Celebrating Islay and Feis Ile from Whisky Fun Towers, with carefully selected whiskies from most distilleries, while we're all dreaming of 2022...

We've had bags and bags of Bunnahabhains lately so we'll try to keep this as short as possible. Hope we'll succeed and not get carried away… Perhaps focus on a wee bunch of peaters, a.k.a. Staoisha or Moine? While thinking of John MacLellan, naturally, as we did with Kilchoman… And perhaps not of Heineken, who have become the new owners, apparently. In theory, we should also try our 400th "Bunny" today…

John

Staoisha 7 yo 2013/2020 (54.7%, Morisco Spirits, bourbon hogshead)

Staoisha 7 yo 2013/2020 (54.7%, Morisco Spirits, bourbon hogshead) Four stars
Pretty pleased with what this neat little new house is putting out. Colour: white wine. Nose: entering a hospital, more precisely the traumatology department. A lot of antiseptic, iodine solution, disinfectant, a little gin (ermn…) then rather softer tones, vanilla, smoked almonds, raw wool, easy apples (golden delicious), chalk, seawater… With water: as almost always when you reduce young malts, pears do come out. Also these whiffs of 'a working kiln' and more salty drinks, perhaps a little manzanilla. Mouth (neat): good arrival, young and grassy, with rather a lot of green pepper and salt. More gin later on (ha!) With water: back to pure Islayness, this time with this adorable classic combo: brine, lemon juice, smoke, ashes and chalk. Finish: medium, on the same notes. Comments: these very young peaters almost never disappoint, as long as you're not in desperate need of utter complexity. In fact, they're excellent.
SGP:467 - 87 points.

Staoisha 7 yo 2013/2020 (60.7%, Fadandel.dk, barrel, cask #13000728, 244 bottles)

Staoisha 7 yo 2013/2020 (60.7%, Fadandel.dk, barrel, cask #13000728, 244 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: rougher, even more on disinfectant, diesel oil, paint thinner, tarry ropes… But watch this strength! With water: lovely, barley sirup, marzipan, lime juice, some kind of smoked nougat and rather white tequila than gin. Whether that's for the better or not remains to be seen. Mouth (neat): extremely close to the Morisco, perhaps even more citric, lemony, acidic… You would guess this will be lovely once brought down to civilisation. With water: undistinguishable from the previous one, which is pretty good news. Touches of green pepper again. Finish: same. Comments: these do their job just right, if you ask me, and may now be mistaken for their neighbours that start with Caol and end with Ila. Which wasn't the case yet ten years before.
SGP:467 - 87 points.

Staoisha 7 yo 2013/2020 (56.8%, Fadandel.dk, 1st fill oloroso octave, cask #10443B, 56 bottles) Four stars
High peat finished for 17 months in 1st fill oloroso, and from a tiny octave at that, let's get ready for some heavy metal rock and roll… Colour: gold. Nose: looks like the octave had not been heavily seasoned/impregnated with oloroso, as this isn't really monstrous. Having said that the aromatic profile is unusual, with some kind of eggplant/toffee combination that would go on with Nescafé, speculoos, soy sauce and just walnut wine, a staple in the house. With water: plain oloroso, a little mint, some tar and some liquorice. Teak oil and walnut stain. Mouth (neat): toffee-ed smoked meats and fish, molasses, burnt caramel, roasted pecans, some green liquorice, stout… These profiles can be a little tiring but so far, so good. With water: gets a little leathery and leafy, with is the fate of many a sherried peater in my book. Nice, but not all rather heavily sherried peat monsters end-up being Lagavulin 21 or Laphroaig '74. Or Port Charlotte 'bloodtub'. Or Samaroli, etc. Finish: rather long, dry. Tobacco, coffee. Comments: nah, it's very good sherried juice, it's just that the ex-bourbons are having the upper hand in my little book
SGP:367 - 85 points.

Perhaps some older bottlings from the boxes and shelves…

Bunnahabhain 8 yo 2005/2014 (48%, High Spirits, Colour Collection)

Bunnahabhain 8 yo 2005/2014 (48%, High Spirits, Colour Collection) Four stars and a half
I think this was a peater too. Colour: white wine. Nose: you bet. A straighter, ashier, perhaps even narrower peatiness, all on some smoky brine. A little sourdough, wool, chalk and lemons too. No-fuss young peater without a single flaw. Mouth: absolutely excellent, straight, fatter than the 2013s, rather more on smoked fish, salmon, kippers… In a way, it is rather more 'Islay'. Lovely earthiness and touches of mint, liquorice and aniseed. Islay pastis, you're right! Pernod-Ricard could eventually be interested in this, imagine, Pastis from Islay! Finish: long, fresh, and indeed rather on pastis. Once you've got that in your head… Salty aftertaste. Comments: superb drop. I'll add that I'm usually rather fond of those 48% vol. that bring both body and drinkability (moderately).
SGP:467 - 88 points.

Deeper into the boxes…

Bunnahabhain 2013/2019 (59.6%, Black Corbie – Rolf Kaspar, Port cask Radoux, #4, 325 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 2013/2019 (59.6%, Black Corbie – Rolf Kaspar, Port cask Radoux, #4, 325 bottles) Three stars and a half
Hurray! I mean, HURRAY! It is the first time I'm seeing someone quoting the barrel makers rather than the wineries or bodegas. I mean, if it is about wine you'll quote winemakers, but if it is about wood and casks as they all say, it is much more logical to mention the cask makers, in this case the excellent French house Radoux, which I happen to know pretty well. Now we're entering the danger zone, as this would involve both peat and Port (which usually works like coffee and mustard in my book)… Colour: pink/apricot. Port, you know… Or blush rosé… Nose: still approachable, with leafy peat and pink peaches, peonies in abundance, and peppered biscuits. With water: damp earth and oyster shells. Mouth (neat): we're relatively safe. Apricot yogurt, a little varnish, jelly babies, cherry liqueur, pepper, more pepper… With water: gentler, more in line with regular Staoishas. Finish: rather long and rather good. Comments: not my preferred style, at all, but I would say this is one of my favourite peat+Port oddities. Those would usually rather fetch 10 less points in my little system
SGP:556 - 83 points.

Good, six will do. Let's find a proper, classic unpeated and sherried Bunnahabhain which, incidentally, will make for our 400th Bunnahabhain here on WF (which doesn't mean much, really)…

B

Bunnahabhain 14 yo 2001/2016 (46%, The Cooper's Choice, sherry butt, cask #1428, 420 bottles) Four stars
Cooper's Choice/Vintage Malt Whisky Co. have been instrumental to whisky-geekery, let's just mention their Lagavulins or their Port Ellens that were rather to be found in little shops in France and Italy, if my memory serves me well. Some great, great whiskies that have become highly sought-after by knowledgeable enthusiasts.

Bunnahabhain 14 yo 2001/2016 (46%, The Cooper's Choice, sherry butt, cask #1428, 420 bottles)

Colour: full gold. Nose: this is quality sherry, with delicate notes of toasted brown bread, halva, walnut cake, couscous (yep), cigars, dough, then whiffs of fumes and old engine. Touch of both leather and leatherette. Did you see that leatherette is coming back into fashion? Mouth: very good, dry, rather on liquorice at first, then tar and walnuts as well as more engine oil. It's a tight, spicy and earthy sherriness that would remind us of the bodegas in Jerez. Finish: rather long spicier yet, with rather a lot of cinnamon. Comments: excellent dry and spicy sherry that transports you to 'the triangle', although that's currently changing, apparently. I mean, appellations and all that, better check that on Ruben's excellent Sherrynotes website.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

(Merci Lucero)

Over to Angus in Edinburgh...

 

 

 

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (40%, OB, UK, 1980s, 75cl)

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (40%, OB, UK, 1980s, 75cl)
I fondly recall a 12yo litre bottle from the 1990s that I had recently and loved (WF 88). Let's go back even further with this old 80s bottling. Colour: gold. Nose: luscious! Beautifully soft, fragrant, leafy sherry overlaid with green fruits, cellar must, walnuts, aged limes, balsamic and gentle rancio. Old school and totally charming - also without any hint of OBE so far. Mouth: here the low ABV and probably a bit of caramel hold things back initially, however with some time these same wonderful leafy, tobacco-tinged sherry aspects come through. Herbal wines, walnuts, fruit loaf, sultanas and some nicely salty, resinous and earthy touches too. Extremely pleasurable quaffing whisky that would kill many OB Macallan 10yos from the same era. Finish: medium, warming, herbal, with many dried dark fruits, more walnuts, caffe latte and milk chocolate. Comments: Hard to be against such a charming wee dram. It's easy to say this about almost any old OB from this era, but this at 46% + would be 92 point material by now for sure. I just adore these early Bunna 12s.
SGP: 651 - 89 points.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 7 yo 2013/2020 (57.5%, Cadenhead for Whisky Market Cologne, bourbon barrel, 234 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 7 yo 2013/2020 (57.5%, Cadenhead for Whisky Market Cologne, bourbon barrel, 234 bottles)
One from this ongoing series that Cadenhead do for their own shops. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: obvious youth, in the form of bread starter, yeasty washback, young calvados, grist and tart green apple peelings. I also find some citrons, pilsner beer and bailed hay. Perfectly charming young Bunna. With water: I find it simpler now, on bakelite, plain cereals, more assorted beers and ink. Mouth: pretty hot at first, more impressions of proving bread, sourdough starter, blanc du blanc champagne, lemon rind and something like parsley dressed with petrol. You feel the youth but I think it works quite well, you just have to be in the mood. With water: still that yeasty/autolytic vibe, but richer now, supported by some white pepper, asparagus (white of course Serge), mineral oils and some thicker notes of hessian. Finish: good length and nice bready richness, malt extract, bitter ales, sunflower oil, lanolin and citrus peels. Comments: I increasingly find myself enjoying younger whiskies these days, perhaps because quite a few newer producers are coming along and making excellent whiskies at younger ages. But not only those guys it seems, this is a very fine young Bunna. Although, I would hazard that it would probably be just as enjoyable in highball form.
SGP: 461 - 83 points.

 

 

Port Askaig 45 yo 1968 (40.8%, Elixir Distillers, five refill sherry butts, 1200 bottles)

Port Askaig 45 yo 1968 (40.8%, Elixir Distillers, five refill sherry butts, 1200 bottles)
I am 'reliably informed' of the origins of this one…Colour: deep gold. Nose: old fino sherry, banana skins, lime oil, hessian, fir wood and verbena. Perfectly aromatic and still beautifully fresh and coastal. Sandalwood, mineral oils, pot pourri and green tea with lemon. Beautiful! Mouth: soft but the arrival is still very 'Bunna' with these light nutty tones, groundnut oil with lemon peel, mineral oils, pineapple, herbal cough medicines, miso, vapour rubs and ripe exotic fruits with gentle waxy tones. Old but excellent and just teetering on the edge. Finish: long, quite herbal, medical, nicely bitter with citrus piths, pollens, more hessian and wee camphor notes. I find liquorice and verbena in the aftertaste. Comments: there's some fragility around the edge, but it remains undeniably extremely pleasurable old Bunna that held onto an impressive amount of freshness and elegance. And, probably most importantly of all: class!
SGP: 562 - 90 points.

 

 

Some peat to finish…

 

 

Bunnahabhain 12 yo 2009/2021 (52.1%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #188, refill hogshead, 257 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 12 yo 2009/2021 (52.1%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #188, refill hogshead, 257 bottles)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: sea salt, salt cured white fish, lemon infused olive oil, white flowers, mineral salts and some very gentle wood ashes. Modern, pure and very precise peated Bunna. With time it loosens up slightly and becomes a little oilier and fatter. With water: herbal scented smoke, crushed aspirin, sardines and some nicely grubby notes of puffer smoke and boilers. Mouth: lovely arrival, all on sea salt and malt vinegar with further impressions of chip fat, metal polish, mineral salts again, tar, creel nets, wee sooty notes and charred pine wood. Bigger than the nose suggested but feels very quaffable thanks to a tidy ABV. With water: excellent salty, tarry, white pepper, seawater, grapefruit juice, TCP and again these slightly fatter and greasier notes of mechanical oils, tar and boiler smoke. Big whisky that manages to be simultaneously very quaffable. Finish: long, wonderfully salty, peppery, tarry, hot calamari, paprika, lemon juice and iodine. Comments: I love the tension here between this more pure, chiselled style and its fatter, more oily and 'dirty' aspects. Great and very typical 'Moine' I would say. And hats off to LOTG for a smart selection.
SGP: 377 - 88 points.

 

 

Thanks Andy

 

 

 

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

 

June 3, 2021


Whiskyfun

The vicarious Feis Ile sessions
Today Kilchoman

Celebrating Islay and Feis Ile from Whisky Fun Towers, with carefully selected whiskies from most distilleries, while we're all dreaming of 2022...

I was at the distillery's great inauguration and it was great fun. The people were great, some very funny. I'll always remember the funny expressions on the faces of many a great old Ileach, including some funny yet great well-established distillers who were sniggering in the great fun corners. Good, I promise I'll try not to use both the word 'great' and the word 'fun' in these tasting notes…

K

Kilchoman 'Loch Gorm 2020' (46%, OB)

Kilchoman 'Loch Gorm 2020' (46%, OB) Four stars and a half
One of my favourite, if not my favourite Kilchomanian expression, despite the sherry that's inside – they do still use sherry, don't they? Now I haven't tried Loch Gorm since the 2017 version (no less than WF 89). Colour: deep gold. Nose: sure, naturally, of course, this pretty Lagavulinian tar, these new wellies, these black cigars, these rollmops and smoked herring, the olives  - most black, and black olives matter! (S., zero points for that one) – then all kinds of brine. They're mastering this style to perfection. Mouth: a lot of salted tar, or tarry salt, then lemon and just seawater. Huge loads of ashes too, as if they had emptied the remains of an old kiln and added the ashes to these casks. Finish: long, salt very ashy. Totally huge salty liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: I suppose they haven't harmed any red wines here, and perhaps noy even PX. Still brilliant, juts perhaps not as fat(tish) than earlier expressions but I'm not comparing them here while only comparison is reason.
SGP:367 - 89 points.

Kilchoman 'Fino Sherry Matured' (46%, OB, Batch 3, 2020)

Kilchoman 'Fino Sherry Matured' (46%, OB, Batch 3, 2020) Four stars and a half
This is a vatting of 11 first fill casks +1 refill (LOL) seasoned with Fino by bodega José & Miguel Martin in Jerez. Colour: straw. Nose: green olives these time, touch of mustard, fresh – not green – walnuts, lambswool, dill and coriander, seawater, then rather rounder fruits, greengages, other fruits, also sunflower and sesame oils, plasticine… Mouth: rather wilder than the Loch Gorm, saltier yet, almost a little acidic, with star fruits and granny smith, brine and ashes, raw cocoa, 90% chocolate, ground coffee beans, some bitter liquorice wood, plus, this time, green walnuts in abundance. Finish: rather long, sharp, ashy and bitter. More liquorice wood, nocino liqueur, stuff like that. The idea of 'fino' was perfectly transposed. Comments: brilliant, I just liked the Loch Gorm a tad better because it was a tad easier. I know, I know… But both are not totally dissimilar.
SGP:367 - 88 points.

Kilchoman 2010/2019 'Vintage' (48%, OB, 15,000 bottles) Kilchoman 2010/2019 'Vintage' (48%, OB, 15,000 bottles)

Kilchoman 2010/2019 'Vintage' (48%, OB, 15,000 bottles) Four stars
42 barrels plus 3 butts in this one (sources diverge on those numbers), that's about the right proportions in my book. Nah… Colour: straw. Nose: gentler and rounder, probably narrower, but also cleaner. More classic chalk, wool, lemons, seawater, oysters, hessian…  Mouth: just cross the island towards the East and you may find a twin distillate (although distilleries are opposed). Ashes, seafood, grapefruits, brine, green olives, and some sweetness, around jelly babies. The red ones.  Finish: medium, ultra-clean, brine-y. Barbecued marshmallows – remember when we were boy scouts? Comments: another excellent one, just perhaps a tad less profound? More consensual?
SGP:467 - 87 points.

We had an easy start but some whackier single cask wineskies may soon arrive, we'll see…

Kilchoman '100% Islay 10th Edition' (50%, OB, 12,400 bottles, 2020)

Kilchoman '100% Islay 10th Edition' (50%, OB, 12,400 bottles, 2020) Four stars
Loch Gorm used to defeat these ones fair and square in my book, but that was quite some years ago. It's true that we haven't properly tackled Kilchoman for years. Colour: white wine. Nose: millimetric, ultra-precise, beautifully simple, and rather more medicinal than the others. There's also a waxy/citrusy character that cannot not make us think of some vintages of Clynelish, only with more smoke, you're right. That's intriguing… With water: no, water made it much brinier and more on grass and seaweed. Mouth (neat): gentle and indeed medicinal. Notes of 'cider pears', iodine, new fabric, then greengages and gooseberries. No Clynelish in sight this time. With water: oh, citrus and waxes! And a lot of salt. Finish: rather long, on salted limoncello blend with Wulong ta, perhaps. Comments: have this one undiluted on the nose and diluted on the palate. That's easier to do than the other way 'round, is it not!
SGP:367 - 85 points.

Kilchoman 13 yo 2007/2020 (55.3%, OB for Max & Julia, fresh bourbon barrel, cask #69, 215 bottles)

Kilchoman 13 yo 2007/2020 (55.3%, OB for Max & Julia, fresh bourbon barrel, cask #69, 215 bottles) Four stars and a half
A single barrel, that's still pretty innocuous… Colour: straw. Nose: very 'young', on smoked pears, apples, with some hessian and raw wool, smoky grist, a lot of creosote, new rubber, a lot of iodine, then growing notes of roots, especially cut celeriac, also fresh turmeric, white carrots… All things that I tend to like and that I would happily pour over sushi. With water: shoe polish and tar remover, then some gentler hay wine, a sublime drink they make on the other side of the Vosges mountains (needs to be served at 8°C, having said that). Mouth (neat): an excellent young peaty make. I agree it is not young, but it does feel young, extremely ashy, raw, quarrelsome, almost ethanoly… That's all a little surprising. With water: gets very ashy, on the other hand if you like ashy malts, you could literally drown it, it would still maintain its position. Finish: long, very salty, pure, and whatever that means, very 'Islay'. Comments: bright, slightly boisterous, rustic Kilchoman with an adolescent mentality.
SGP:467 - 88 points.

Kilchoman 8 yo 2011/2019 (56.3%, OB, for Mizunara Hong Kong, Madeira finish, cask #767)

Kilchoman 8 yo 2011/2019 (56.3%, OB, for Mizunara Hong Kong, Madeira finish, cask #767) Four stars and a half
Always 50ppm peat right after malting. Colour: deep gold. Nose: typical rather bold notes of green walnuts and mustard that you could sometimes mistake for manzanilla, or at least fino. That mingles well with heavy peat because it's virtually without any sweetness, whilst it's hugely on seawater and iodine. Having said that, after a good five minutes, some notes of bananas flambéed have been unleashed… Was it actually sweet malmsey? Let's see… With water: I could not tell you. Huge iodine with touches of wasabi and green walnuts, plus whiffs of cowshed. Tends to become very farmy, which isn't surprising when you knew the place. Mouth (neat): punchy, peppery and sweet, this time you do feel the wine's influence. Mustard, toothpaste, williams pears, pepper and ashes are playing with your gums. Unusual. With water: sweeter touches, I'd almost mention sultanas. One day, we'll really need to try to peat-smoke raisins. Finish: long and rather mustardy. Black radish in the aftertaste. Comments: huge, almost belligerent dram that will simply work on us. It's just that we won't down a pint of this. I mean, in one go (what a braggart!)
SGP:367 - 88 points.

Shall we go on for a little while? Between us, we were having a lot of Ks, but shh…

Kilchoman 2007/2019 (55.6%, OB for Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #151, 236 bottles)

Kilchoman 2007/2019 (55.6%, OB for Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #151, 236 bottles) Four stars and a half
Nothing could go wrong with this bottling for a great German (excuse me, Westphalian) whisky house. Colour: gold. Nose: pure, plain, oily, on grist, chalk, lemon, fresh bread, some grassy smoke (garden bonfire) and a fermentary side (weissbeer). With water: same. And damp earth under your boots after a long walk to Machir. Mouth (neat): excellent, on lemon juice, chalky sauvignon blanc, and with clearly something of that big distillery nearer to Port Askaig. Especially ashes. With water: excellent, with kippers and anchovies chiming in. Finish: rather long, very salty and extremely coastal. The most coastal of them all this far. Comments: ausgezeichnet. Excuse me, I mean, excellent.
SGP:457 - 89 points.

Looks like we're flirting with the 90-line again now…

Kilchoman 2007/2019 (56.5%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, bourbon, cask #307)

Kilchoman 2007/2019 (56.5%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, bourbon, cask #307) Five stars
What, I hadn't tried this one? Colour: white wine. Nose: pure, crystalline colza oil with lemon juice, oysters and jut damp earth and peat smoke. Rather constructivist, almost Malevitchian in its utter simplicity. I have a good feeling here. With water: bandages, calx and chalk. Mouth (neat): ultra-tight liquoricy and mentholy smoke with chalk, lemon and sourdough. Oh and ashes. With water: a lemony blade. This time, perfection's been achieved. Finish: huge simplicity and demonstrativeness, I would say. Comments: Jansenist malt whisky. I don't think you could do much better with a young Kilchoman. Well all Kilchomans are young anyway.
SGP:467 - 90 points.

By the way, we keep thinking of John McLellan, who went to Kilchoman after his wonderous Bunnahabhain days.

Kilchoman 2011/2017 '100% Islay' (59.4%, OB for Tasttoe, bourbon, cask #486, 266 bottles)

Kilchoman 2011/2017 '100% Islay' (59.4%, OB for Tasttoe, bourbon, cask #486, 266 bottles) Four stars
This should be relatively rugous and rustic, but we're not immune from good surprises... Colour: light white wine (indeed). Nose: vanilla and marshmallows, with drops of williams pear liqueur (we make the best in Alsace! Of course we do!) and some kind of grassier Turkish delights. Well not sure about  that part. What's clear is that this is by far the least peaty K. we've tried so far. I mean, today. With water: we might still be in near-newmake territory and what's funny is that the more water you add, the more it would bite your nose. Mouth: very sweet, with some smoked bubblegum. I'm sure no one's ever tried to smoke bubblegum (maybe the Mexicans?) but I'm sure you get the picture. With water: very young but very good. It's z style. Sweet branches, roots, manioc, plantains, salted almonds, sweetened gentian, (yeah, gentian liqueur)… Finish: long, sweet and smoky at the same time. Comments: the sweetest of them all. Flying pretty high, already.
SGP:557 - 86 points.

Kilchoman 2012/2019 (56.3%, for Holy Dram Israel, Madeira cask finish, cask #180, 258 bottles)

Kilchoman 2012/2019 (56.3%, for Holy Dram Israel, Madeira cask finish, cask #180, 258 bottles) Four stars and a half
Aren't all drams holy? Colour: deep gold. Nose: typical Madeira, and I mean Madeira as in whisky, as Glenmo used to do it when they first installed large-scale finishings. I remember the Madeira used to be my favourite (whilst the Burgundy, if I remember well, was plainly putrid rotgut). So, walnut cake straight from the oven, with touches of curry and mustard. With water: the saltiness comes out and once again, Madeira could be mistaken for fino or even manzanilla. Mouth (neat): very good, very well integrated, with some added caramel that's been salted and mixed with ground pecans and peanuts. Always some softer mustard, curry and walnuts too. With water: gets softer but as tense as ever at the same time, with the peat keeping all this dry and tight. Olives. Excellent. Finish: pretty long, I'm reminded of a recipe by Tupperware (yep), which used to be called the 'Olive Cake'. A cake de la muerte, I tell you. Comments: whether this is holy or not, and boy do I usually find finishings inferior, this wee K. just rocks. Well finished, would I say.
SGP:567 - 89 points.

It's about time to put an end to this Kilchomadness. Perhaps with another Loch Gorm?

Kilchoman 'Loch Gorm 2018' (46%, OB, 15,000 bottles)

Kilchoman 'Loch Gorm 2018' (46%, OB, 15,000 bottles) Four stars and a half
Boy, no less than 19 oloroso butts have been used here, as it seems. But who's counting? Colour: deep gold. Nose: no, whatever people say, and whichever the prices, the Loch Gorms are just there, sitting on the top. And once again, I find this one close to Lagavulin 16, even I may have to charter a jet and fly incognito to Islay next time; indeed there's not a sacrifice we'll not make to get there. Perfect tar, salted liquorice, and walnuts. Mouth: absolutely excellent, salty, walnutty, with notes of vegetables (well, artichokes and eggplants) and the most wonderful salty and smoky earthiness. Finish: long, on salted and peated oloroso (S., that's the whole idea in the first place, no?) Comments: there's something that just clicks with this 80€ expression. I would say this should be the flagship expression, so Kilchoman's Lagavulin 16. Didn't I just sign my death warrant?
SGP:367 - 89 points.

Good, we'll keep all the other Ks we've got for our next K session

(Merci Nicolas, merci Tim)

 

Over to Angus in Edinburgh...

 

 

 

Kilchoman 13 yo 2007/2021 (53.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #197, bourbon, 204 bottles)

Kilchoman 13 yo 2007/2021 (53.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #197, bourbon, 204 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: surprisingly gentle and aromatic nose that starts on more mineral aspects like bath salts, beach pebbles, chalk and a rather crisp impression of trailing bonfire smoke. I also find some lime juice, white flowers and beach sand. A very lovely first impression. With water: sandalwood, wet rope, fresh linens, chalk again and crushed seashells. Fresh, pure and still displaying this subtle mineral side that's very attractive. Mouth: the cask is a little more assertive on arrival, quite a bit of creamy and sweet peat, creosote, natural tar, smoked vanilla, white pepper, hessian and smoked olive oil. A nice switch around from the initial nose. With water: a little sharper and more tense, which works very well. Some seawater, grapefruit, hay loft and a touch of salted mead and preserved lemon. Finish: long, brightly smoky, peppery, saline, lightly farmy with more of these hay loft impressions and a little coal smoke. Comments: Kilchoman is really hitting its stride with these batches. I find this one extremely approachable, easy and charming but with a good level of complexity that keeps things entertaining.
SGP: 466 - 88 points.

 

 

 

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

 

June 2, 2021


Whiskyfun

Vacation session off-Islay, on the mainland
with three old Dufftown

Holidays

I hear you, what does Dufftown have to do with Islay? Well, Diageo's new Dufftown 54 years old has just been official launched in Greenwich (theme = time) and I couldn't have waited until the end of our wee virtual Feis Ile sessions to publish my notes. One cannot change his own nature. But first, a wee apéritif that was bottled more or less when the very old new 54 yo was distilled, then another super-old Dufftown, a 44 yo, and then the said 54 yo.  

Dufftown-Glenlivet 'Over 8 years' (80 proof, OB, 1960s)

Dufftown-Glenlivet 'Over 8 years' (80 proof, OB, 1960s) Five stars
A wonderful old 'black label' by Arthur Bell & Sons. This one had a screw cap while others were sporting cork stoppers. These do not seem to do too well at auctions but I've tried some brilliant ones. Colour: gold. Nose: typical OBE, this time totally on shoe and metal polishes. That's absolutely not an undesirable start, especially since green bananas, apples and cold cuts tend to follow, plantains, old tea box, old candles, perhaps a little pollen, perhaps a touch of marrow… Very nice aging in glass if you ask me, I doubt the whisky was like this back in the 1960s. Mouth: oh great! Never overlook these old Dufftowns – the same could be said about the Blair Athols BTW. Some kind of Asian sweet and salty dish with bananas stewed in curry sauce, a little tobacco perhaps, bitter herbs, then rather salty plums, bouillons, marrow quenelles in chicken broth or something… Plus a touch of honey that keeps the sweetness, well, sweet. Do not despise these at auctions (well some would say please despise these at auctions). Wonderful barley-fat body. Finish: rather long, with a lingering oiliness, some salt, more dry bananas, soups, honeys… Very bouillony aftertaste. Comments: very solid old malt, pretty thick, further aged and, as Sig. Samaroli would have said, 'refined' in glass. Worth every euro if you ask me.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Dufftown 44 yo 1975/2019 (41.8%, Hunter Laing, Platinum Old & Rare, 239 bottles)

Dufftown 44 yo 1975/2019 (41.8%, Hunter Laing, Platinum Old & Rare, 239 bottles) Four stars and a half
Excuse me, was 1975 really 44 (right, 45 or 46) years ago? I mean, Frampton Comes Alive? Fleetwood Mac's Rumours? Physical Graffiti? Wish You Were Here? Miles' Agharta? Na na na that's not possible… Colour: gold. Nose: it is a glorious feeling to find in this one some of the aromas that were already in the old 8, first and foremost bananas. We're not talking banana foam or crazy sweets, we're talking real small bananas. Barley as well, brioche flavoured with orange blossom water, a touch of fresh butter, some pollen and beeswax for sure, a mocha-spoon of yogurt, touches of earl grey and Wulong teas, then flowers (gorse)… It is all a tad delicate and perhaps fragile, but as always with very old malts, only the palate will tell. Mouth: good bottlers would not bottle whiskies that went off the road. That was certainly not the case here, even if as usual, old wood and time would have brought additional notes of herbal teas and very soft 'wood spices', around cinnamon. But it remained fresh if not totally vibrant, with these bananas yet again, or earl grey, scones and cakes at a lady's tea party, shortbread, bergamots… Very delicate but not too fragile. Finish: medium, with hints of oranges and many herbal teas. Five O'clock tea. Comments: it was a little tough after the gorgeous old 8, but I believe this old glory still had a few moves left, so to speak. Love it that they wouldn't have tried to finish it in… whatever. Rum?
SGP:351 - 89 points.

The Singleton of Dufftown 54 yo 1966/2021 'Parangon of Time No.2' (44.1%, OB, 235 bottles

The Singleton of Dufftown 54 yo 1966/2021 'Parangon of Time No.2' (44.1%, OB, 235 bottles) Five stars
As it appears, this very old one was finished in Pedro, which I didn't know when I wrote the last lines for the 1975. All right then, who am I. Was I the honourable SWA, I'm not sure I wouldn't allow the distilleries to add, say up to 5% of younger malt to any old juice to beef it up a wee bit, while still being allowed to keep the original age statement. I mean, rather than PX, rum or brandy through a cask! But again, who am I. By the way, what a stunning decanter by Baccarat, almost a museum piece. And let's remember that this was distilled before the Distillery's expansion and the closing down of the malting floors, which took place in 1968. Colour: almost green/bronze. We all remember stories about nails, patches etc… Nose: oh?! Some kind of Turkish fruitcake – or an assortment of delights – with figs and fig wine, raisins and, well, PX, prunes and, well, old armagnac, a touch of tar liqueur, chestnut purée, some thick trappist beer, Westvleteren-style, then smaller aromas, around menthol and camphor, old oloroso rather than PX, some coffee, a little earth and meat, old red Burgundy, miso-y aromas… A great example of a very old whisky that really got more complex. In theory, that's always the case, but in reality, I'm not so sure. Mouth: oozes of smartness. Stunning mentholy arrival, totally herbal in a great way, with some old chartreuse, verbena liqueur, several other old herbal drinks (Fernet, for example), then even vermouth, Noilly… Then back on puréed chestnuts, bouillon, suet, roasted raisins, plus that thing that we always love in any old malts, 'old books'. I know we never ever eat old books, but remember when we write 'old books', that means 'something reminiscent of old books'. Finish: medium, a little more on raisins, both stewed and roasted, perhaps a touch of toffee, but always with this lovely meatiness in the aftertaste. More bouillon and raisins! And mint sauce, after all we're in the UK. Oh and cigars. Comments: Master Blender Maureen Robinson confirmed this was a single cask before the finishing period. I believe they did that extremely well, it's very difficult for some really old malts to fetch a very high score in my wee book. Oh and I hope you've noticed that I've spared you any silly comments on jazz, blues and rock and roll in 1966, while I could have… (S., no, please don't).
SGP:561 - 92 points.

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

 

The vicarious Feis Ile sessions
Today Bowmore

Celebrating Islay and Feis Ile from Whisky Fun Towers, with carefully selected whiskies from most distilleries, while we're all dreaming of 2022...

We thought we'd do a big, fat Bowmore session to celebrate their Feis Ile Day, what do you say? We could even try to focus on legendary bottlings that we haven't formally assessed yet, including quite a few that had been distilled in the swinging sixties… Hope this will be rock and roll enough! But let's kick this off 'tranquillou', as we say in French, with some lighter strengths and perhaps some juices from 'those vintages'…

Bowmore

Bowmore 8 yo 1993/2001 (40%, Maeda Co. Ltd, 'Islay Prestige', casks #500065, 500066, 500067)

Bowmore 8 yo 1993/2001 (40%, Maeda Co. Ltd, 'Islay Prestige', casks #500065, 500066, 500067) Four stars
First time I'm seeing this one I have to say, it's from those glorious days when candid bottlers would still 'cherry-pick their casks very selectively' while 'only choosing the very cream of the crop in the warehouses, valinch and copita in hand', only to bottle three or six consecutive numbers a few months later without even blinking an eye. Colour: white wine. Nose: the early 1990s could be superb. This is a perfect example of some soft all-vitamin fruit juice blended with some seawater and soft smoke… A wee pack of liquorice allsorts straight from the SPAR, then a bag of blood oranges (from the SPAR as well ;-). Blood oranges running the show here after two minutes. Mouth: same combination, with the smoke having grown louder and the sweets and oranges a tad gentler. Rather zests than flesh as far as those oranges are concerned. Good mouthfeel despite the lower strength. Finish: the expected saltiness kicking in. Comments: very good and extremely sippable. This on scallop sandwiches, on the pier… In any case, a good example of the return of classic Bowmore after the unlikely 1980s…
SGP:655 - 87 points.

 

Angus's opinion...

 

 

Bowmore 8 yo 1993/2001 (40%, Maeda Co. Ltd, 'Islay Prestige', casks #500065, 500066, 500067)
Not sure about the company behind this, but 1993 has proven to be quite a brilliant vintage at Bowmore. Colour: white wine. Nose: beautiful nose! Typically fresh and balanced between soft exotic fruits and gentle coastal freshness. Lots of chalk, wet rocks, white flowers, wool and crystalline minerality. Some quite specific notes of lemon peel and mango come through over time. Charming and very beautiful with bags of distillery character. Mouth: the strength is a clear issue here as it feels rather fragile in the mouth. Those fruits and coastal aspects are all there but they really do feel diluted. There's also a touch of cardboard and damp grains. Still good but you can tell this one has been somewhat hobbled. Finish: short, drying, some smoked cereals and mineral oil. Comments: I can't help but feeling some kind of crime was committed with this bottling. Above 46% and this would probably be easy 90+ material, the nose alone was at that level. But the palate feels undeniably diminished. Now, it's still a perfectly quaffable wee Bowmore.
SGP: 544 - 84 points.

 

 

 

Bowmore 30 yo 1988/2019 (46.2%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, refill bourbon hogshead, 644 bottles)

Bowmore 30 yo 1988/2019 (46.2%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, refill bourbon hogshead, 644 bottles) Three stars
1988… Lavender si or lavender no? And Parma Violets si or Parma Violets no? Colour: light gold. Nose: totally 'si' on all accounts. Lady's moisturizer and violet and lavender sweets, night cream, entering a L'Occitane airport shop, then more tropical fruits, maracuja, tangerines, papaya, litchi… A wee glass of Calif' gewurz too. Boy is it fragrant! Mouth: extreme on all accounts indeed, on the palate as well. Huge perfumy notes, more Parma Violets, a whole bowl of ground Himalayan pepper, a blend of gewurz, muscat and viognier (don't try this at home or drink at 6°C), and only some very moderate salt and smoke. Finish: long, with a little more seawater, pepper, and salted lemon. Comments: textbook example. It is very hard for me to score this style, which is not my preferred as you may have guessed, on the other hand it is perfect in its very own genre. A must have if your goal in life is to document all styles of malt whisky that have ever been produced. In short, this score means nothing, even less when communicated out of context.
SGP:753 - 80 points.

While we're doing violets and lavender…

Bowmore 30 yo 1988/2019 'Outlined in Chalk' (50.9%, Wemyss Malts for Spirit Salon, Hong Kong, hogshead, 177 bottles)

Bowmore 30 yo 1988/2019 'Outlined in Chalk' (50.9%, Wemyss Malts for Spirit Salon, Hong Kong, hogshead, 177 bottles) Three stars
Colour: straw. Nose: this one's much more on tropical fruits, tangerines, mangos, passion fruits, guavas, all-vitamin fruit juice… No more lavender here, as if the distillation regime had been completely different. So much closer to the 1993 than to the other 1988 as far as the nose is concerned. With water: tropical bonbons, foam bananas, litchi buttercream with meringue, Zacapa (err..) … Mouth (neat): yeah, the lavender is back on the palate, the violets, the pink pepper, the soapiness… And it's pretty huge. I understand some friends love this style, which is just great. Always tangerines… With water: a wee dustiness, otherwise hand cream and indeed, Parma Violets. Finish: medium, on the same notes. Comments: schizophrenic Bowmore, with the nose in the early 1990s and the palate in the mid-1980s. Some kind of Bee Gees of malt whisky, perhaps. Very little 'peatiness'.
SGP:752 - 81 points.

Perhaps some younger ones before we take the plunge?

Bowmore 2000/2017 'Hand-filled' (56.9%, OB, first Fill Sherry Puncheon, cask #2495)

Bowmore 2000/2017 'Hand-filled' (56.9%, OB, first Fill Sherry Puncheon, cask #2495) Three stars
Sweet Vishnu, is this dark! This is what they sometimes give you at the distillery whenever you're asking for coffee. Sadly, no. Colour: coffee with bronze hues. Nose: more metal polish than in metal polish. There was one that we used on our bikes and that was called Glanzol. Then the thickest sweetened oyster sauce, Bulldog sauce, PX blended with used engine oil, and rotting damsons. Crazy stuff but it is not a first at Bowmore's. With water: huge notes of walnut stain, then chicken broth, chives, sherry vinegar, walnut wine… Pretty spectacular and while it's clearly 'too much', I kind of enjoy this. Mouth (neat): as we were expecting, some chocolate sauce, something between balsamic vinegar (it is vinegary) and sour cherry juice, a very unusual kind of tar (coal tar plus?) and some pickled fruits, perhaps plums, certainly little onions, onion soup, brown sauce… With water: don't add any, it would go in all directions. Onion soup and chocolate, anyone? Come on, 56.9 only equals 100 proof, water is unnecessary here. Finish: long, salty, tarry, soupy, bitter, peppery, ultra-leafy, muddled. Comments: I've heard there's even malt whisky inside. Seriously, it's a spectacular dram but maybe not for everyone.
SGP:376 - 82 points.

We need a clean one…

Bowmore 18 yo 2002/2020 (53%, Wu Dram Clan, bourbon, cask Z2/20201, 175 bottles)

Bowmore 18 yo 2002/2020 (53%, Wu Dram Clan, bourbon, cask Z2/20201, 175 bottles) Four stars and a half
Lovely Jules-Verne-style label. Remember 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea? Colour: white wine. Nose: naturally. Small flat oysters, seawater, softer tar, smoked salmon (and burning beech wood), green bananas, citrons, beach bonfire, sage, aniseed… Perfect this far. With water: classic 'coastal peat'. Kelp, kippers, a fisherman's old pipe, etc, etc, etc. Mouth (neat): yet another style of Bowmore, which I would rather call 'smoked citrus'. Really a lot of pink grapefruits and blood oranges, some tequila and some gin (really, with apologies to you all), then rather angelica and caraway. With water: I insist, some citrusy gin! What would you say Mr. Bond? Finish: medium, with some aromatic herbs, rosemary, thyme, more pink pepper… I'm finding some tiny echoes of the 1980s, but no worries, we're totally safe here. Comments: I find this proposition excellent, despite a few charmingly wobbly sides. Bowmore's not always straightly classic, mind you.
SGP:455 - 88 points.

To think that all that was only the apéritif… Let's unearth the oldies!...

Bowmore 'Over 12 Years' (OB, for Japan, 1970s?)

Bowmore 'Over 12 Years' (OB, for Japan, 1970s?) Four stars and a half
A very intriguing wee bottle that, in the own words of our friend Emmanuel, 'looks fake but is 100% real'. No strength stated here, while it's not quite a full-size bottle. It wouldn't say, but let's guess 50cl? Colour: gold. Nose: 'echoes of a distant past', really, that's not just a figure of speech. Would you imagine a very old bottle of citron liqueur, some musty old books, some stewed artichokes and eggplants, a wee bit of black truffle, some soot, the engine of a very old car, and just an old white wine that grandpa had, rather mistakenly I have to add, stored under the telly? This is it and I rather love it. Mouth: much power and assertiveness, I would guess 46% vol.? Some fruity soups, more artichokes, miso and umami soup and sauce, salty broth, cold fish chowder, then some much clearer, cleaner, tarter notes of citrus. Pomelos, I would say. Finish: medium, meaty, perhaps not spectacular but this feeling of old forgotten liqueur is always a thrill. The aftertaste is a tad dusty-ish but we officially declare that we shan't care. Some fudge too, which comes unexpected. Comments: a slightly fragile old Bowmore, from a bottle that's probably seen many lives, generations and perhaps even fights. It is like a very old watch; you wouldn't expect it to tell the time to the minute.
SGP:552 - 89 points.

Angus's opinion...

 

 

Bowmore 'Over 12 Years' (OB, for Japan, 1970s?)
A super-rare wee half bottle that was done for Japan most probably in the 1980s. I already wrote notes for this one a few years ago while 'on location' in Japan. Which now seems like about a thousand years ago, but that's another story. Let's see how this one from a different bottle compares. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a more farmyard driven and smoky style. Not at all contemporary but rather more towards the mid-70s style than the earlier fruit bombs. Having said that, I do find notes of dried fruits, fruit teas and things like cheng pi orange peel, earl grey and dried mango. A little resinous sherry, vegetable stocks and some earthy and savoury umami notes. Mouth: wonderful texture on arrival, lots of orange oils, camphor, leathery sherry, cured meats, coffee, some natural tar, hessian. Could almost be an old Laphroaig in some ways. Some slightly dirty peat, metal polish, sooty notes and more camphor. The fruits are still there but more liqueurish now and secondary to the sherry. Finish: medium, peat smoke, coal embers, medicines and some more herbal qualities. A nice peaty / sherry glow in the aftertaste. Comments: It does seem to sit somewhere in a transitionary style between fruit, peat and sherry influences. A fascinating and very cool old Bowmore that feels a tad fragile at times but still has many stories to tell. I still like it as much as the last one I tried, so same score.
SGP: 454 - 89 points.

 

 

 

Good, let's go vertical…

Bowmore 1969/1979 'Bicentenary' (56.2%, OB, Fecchio & Frassa for Biancalana Francesco, sherry, cask #322, 300 bottles)

Bowmore 1969/1979 'Bicentenary' (56.2%, OB, Fecchio & Frassa for Biancalana Francesco, sherry, cask #322, 300 bottles) Five stars
This series is a little bit complicated, some cask numbers having appeared for several owners. What's sure is that we just won't care since all these 'flat' bottles have been absolutely flabbergasting every time we've tried any. Oh and a little bit of mystery won't kill us anyway… Colour: full gold. Nose: huge, massive, imposing, starting with camphor, triple-sec, and just any kind of smoke you could think of. Wood, peat, seaweed, rubber, tyres, perhaps even plastic. Then dried figs and raisins, old wines, polishes, herbs, mosses, embrocations, balms and ointments. Holy featherless crow! With water: oh, marrow, ham, smoked fish, cigar ashes, citron liqueur, old Comté cheese, a glass of vin jaune of course, then some tiny vinegary touches that work perfectly well. Very old balsamico. Impressive nose, very long, Netflix could shoot a whole series about this nose. Mouth (neat): very creamy, thick, without any single sign of tiredness (after all, this was bottled more than 40 years ago) and rather, or mostly on waxy citrus. Rubbing grapefruit peel and infusing herbs from the woods. Woodruff? That's my favourite. With water: I won't go to 95 because I'm finding it a wee tad too sweet, too jammy. They call me Mister Never Happy for a reason. Finish: salty and sweet. Foie gras with mascarpone, yuzu and truffles. Mix well and enjoy. Comments: not too sure about that part with foie gras, mascarpone, yuzu and truffles. It was a joke. But brilliant Bowmore, as expected.
SGP:655 - 94 points.

Bowmore 1969/1978 (58%, OB, Fecchio & Frassa for various Italian individuals, sherry cask, cask #6639)

Bowmore 1969/1978 (58%, OB, Fecchio & Frassa for various Italian individuals, sherry cask, cask #6639) Five stars
This is the round bottle, not the flat one. It's not a matter of hope anymore, it's a matter of evidence. Colour: white wine. Nose: Bowmore Bouquet, anyone? Same ballpark, with this astounding purity, these grapefruits, these embrocations, these waxes and these inks and ashes. It is not a matter of what's in here, it's a matter of balance. With water: iron, old tools, shoe polish, rhubarb, whelks, lemon, winkles, oysters, kelp, old copper coins, grapefruits. Mouth (neat): it is not whisky, it is light, it is music, and it is philosophy. Incredible avalanche of citrus, waxes, and tiny herbs and flowers. Borage, verbena, wormwood and 'stuff'. With water: salt, pepper, wax, citrus, camphor… and myriads of tiny flavours that we could try to list but there are only twenty-four hours in a human day. Finish: tighter, more austere, ashy, smoky, mineral. Amazing aftertaste on meats, soups and chartreuse. Comments: grand, legendary whisky. I'm not sure anyone would know how to replicate this style, and perhaps is it better like that. What's dead sure is that it's got strictly nothing to do with wood.
SGP:565 - 96 points.

Bowmore 1966/2002 (42.3%, Duncan Taylor for Whiskyfreunde Essenheim, cask #3305, 120 bottles)

Bowmore 1966/2002 (42.3%, Duncan Taylor for Whiskyfreunde Essenheim, cask #3305, 120 bottles) Five stars
This one from when Duncan Taylor were having all those old ex-Abe Rosenberg casks that were so flabbergasting. Glenlivets, Glen Grants, Caperdonichs, Macallans… And Bowmores. Colour: gold. Nose: take mango, papaya and banana, press, filter, nose. Incredibly simple and stunning. Mouth: amazing fruitiness, you would even start to wonder if it is at all possible to bring these kinds of flavours and aromas out of barley. And you would answer 'yeast!' and you would probably be right. Incredible notes of fresh mangos and pink grapefruits. Finish: medium, very fruity, sweet, juicy. Comments: you know, it's simple whisky, there's nothing complicated or 'philosophical' in there, it is just plain fruity make that you just cannot question. In the same cluster as that of old Bushmills, or there, Benriach. Oops, forgot to mention juicy pink peaches. This is what we used to call 'a fruit bomb'.
SGP:742 - 93 points.

Angus's opinion...

 

 

Bowmore 1966/2002 (42.3%, Duncan Taylor for Whiskyfreunde Essenheim, cask #3305, 120 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: now we're talking! This same impression of a singular and deeply exotic 'fruitiness' that is so inimitably 'Bowmore', only here it is more concentrated and direct. It also takes in pine resin, long aged herbal liqueurs, natural tar, heather honey and the most delicate thread of peat smoke. Sublime whisky that you could nose for hours. Mouth: slightly soft arrival but the waves of sweet exotic fruit syrups, cough medicines, herbal liqueurs and hints of smoked olive oil, hessian and natural tar that build up after that is just beautiful. A perfect mix of medicines, herbs, honeys and fruits, wonderfully concentrated, syrupy and evolving with great length in the mouth. Finish: long, all on old Cointreau, bandages, limoncello, tar, camphor, menthol tobaccos and fir wood. Comments: slow moving at times, but hugely rewarding with patience, and the nose is to die for! Probably would have been even better bottled 2-5 years earlier, but this is definitely nit picking.
SGP: 753 - 92 points.

 

 

 

Are we ready for a last one?

Bowmore 25 yo 1965/1990 (43%, Hart Bros. for Auxil France)

Bowmore 25 yo 1965/1990 (43%, Hart Bros. for Auxil France) Three stars
As they always did, the brothers Hart would not have told you much about what was in their bottlings. But hey, how cool is this label? An old Scottish painting, isn't that better than dragons, tigers, cartoon characters or pinups that fell from the sky? I see we agree here… Colour: gold. Nose: all-vitamin fruit juice and crushed aspirin tablets. Nectarines, oranges, pomegranates, sunflower oil, chalk, khakis. It is a different combination, rather less tropical as far as fruit are concerned, but no less wonderful. Very distant touches of Italian white truffles. Well not that distant actually, these notes of white truffles tend to come to the front. Also a great Chablis, such as this wee premier cru on the left bank that I really like in cold years, Côte de Léchet. Mouth: well well well, time took its toll. Whether that happened in the cask, which I doubt, or in the bottle, which is most probable, well, that stunning nose went awfy awry, with notes of plastic and carboard that have really taken over. A shame because peaches and pink grapefruits are still there in the background, tr0ying to have their say.  Finish: short, cardboardy, flat. Comments: but what a nose, for crying out loud!
SGP:341 - 80 points.

Angus's opinion...

 

 

Bowmore 25 yo 1965/1990 (43%, Hart Bros. for Auxil France)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: immediate and abundant notes of passion fruit, mango and guava. Also pineapple. They've taken on this quality where they fuse together into a single 'exotic fruit note', to Lilt and Umbongo you could add '60s Bowmore'. Some other extremely fragrant wee aromas such as sandalwood, coastal flowers and heather. I also start to get a very light soapy quality over time, but it's pretty slight. Mouth: a gentle arrival, dominated by soft, sweet exotic fruit syrups, nectars, delicate medicines and still this very slight but pervasive soapiness - seems it wasn't only in the 1980s this characteristic appeared. Some nice notes of mead and sweet cough medicine too. Perhaps a tad soft because of the lower ABV though. Finish: good length, a little drier, more peppery, medicinal and with the fruits more crystallised in style. Comments: Some parts are just stunning, but on balance the ABV and this funny wee soapy note that keeps popping up prevent this one going higher. Perhaps it was my sample, I know some other folk rate this one very highly.
SGP: 754 - 85 points.

 

 

 

(Merci a lot Angus, John, KC, Lin and Tim)

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

 

June 1, 2021


Whiskyfun

The vicarious Feis Ile sessions
Today Laphroaig

Celebrating Islay and Feis Ile from Whisky Fun Towers, with carefully selected whiskies from most distilleries, while we're all dreaming of 2022...

Not much to add about Laphroaig. Not a total fan of the myriads of NASes they've been doing for quite some years now, on the other hand it remains a brilliant distillate that ages particularly well (which is precisely why we're not in total awe in front of the NASes). This time, we'll go more or less randomly since we're extremely late with our Laphroaigs at Château Whiskyfun…

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Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2020)
We rather liked it three years ago, but that was after a rather miserable 'Select', the equivalent to a 4-cylinders Porsche (I'm joking, the early 356s and even the 914 were cool). I'm sorry I'm talking about cars but first, aren't Bowmore teaming with Aston-Martin? So much for 'don't drink and drive'. And second, I'm not sure we'll have much to say about this little 'froyg anyway. Colour: straw. Nose: ah, nicer than I remembered it, more on seawater and some really big ashes. Huge ashes, really. Then gherkin brine, but not much medicinalness yet. Banana skin, that's the wood. Some almonds and indeed, after ten minutes, a touch of chest balm. Mouth: the briny smoke is just huge here, we're really drinking some cold, long-infused very tarry lapsang souchong. A rather narrow scope but I find this pleasant. Finish: medium and still extremely ashy. Comments: you'd almost believe they've reduced this one using smoked water. That exists and has nothing to do with neither Deep Purple, nor Frank Zappa. No, no sense at all.
SGP:338 - 83 points.

Laphroaig 'Triple Wood' (48%, OB, +/-2020)

Laphroaig 'Triple Wood' (48%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
When I first tried the Triple Wood, in 2009, I had thought the idea was terrible. But I found out that the whisky was rather excellent (WF 86). Now I haven't tried it since… And it was a different livery – and a 1l bottle. Of course it would be better with an age statement, but at least we have the vintage in large letters. That's 1815, right? Colour: amber orange. Nose: we said lapsang souchong to the max, well this has even more of that, plus touches of cedarwood and ginger, as well as a little sherry. Simple but pretty lovely. Mouth: modern, a tad woody and too spicy/sour (green pepper) but otherwise pleasant indeed, with a lot of green wood spices, stuff ending with -ol, menthol indeed, resinous wood… I'm reminded of the first Mackmyras from Sweden, I do not know why. Finish: long, saltier and tarrier. The woody oiliness remains there in the back. Comments: a very fine, very modern wood-driven Laphroaig. In fact all this fresh oak and the huge smoke do combine pretty well, but do not leave much room for any other flavours.
SGP:467 - 85 points.

Laphroaig 10 yo 'Original Cask Strength Batch 011' (58.6%, OB, 2019)

Laphroaig 10 yo 'Original Cask Strength Batch 011' (58.6%, OB, 2019) Four stars
I must confess we haven't been following the 10 C/S for years, but this green stripe reminds me of those glorious times when you could find its ancestors in travel retail, which ancestors used to just blow us away. Totally amazing whiskies, with extravagant tropical fruits.  Colour: gold. Nose: no tropical fruits that I can detect, only banana skins. But the lemons and the peat in the bottom start rising and bring litres of antiseptic with them. Tell me about a medicinal whisky! With water: some oils (sunflower) and some malted barley, with those huge ashes coming out again. Mouth (neat): well, this is excellent. No subtleties but that's not why we came here. Big grassier peat, salt, grapefruits, mouthwash, pepper, and of course tarry ashes. I'm starting to believe they have a kiln not for malting barley, but for producing ashes! With water: ashes up up up, plus a little brine. We've lost the fruits. Finish: long, ashy, and salty. Only in the aftertaste do we find a wee bit of 'avion' mango. Comments: strictly nothing to do with the early 10 C/S, really, and rather the impression to have a regular 10, only at C/S. Which, now that I'm thinking about it, would make sense. Still very very good, I think.
SGP:358 - 86 points.

We could try to find some ultra-clean very young Laphroaig to see if indeed, they're not making them more 'ashy'…

Williamson 9 yo 2010/2020 (53.9%, Chapter 7, blended malt, bourbon barrel, cask #907, 235 bottles)

Williamson 9 yo 2010/2020 (53.9%, Chapter 7, blended malt, bourbon barrel, cask #907, 235 bottles)
Indeed, Williamson is teaspooned Laphroaig. Did you know that every year during Feis Ile they kidnap a few French tourists and make them pour a teaspoon of Bowmore into each cask, for the whole week? And that those tourists keep coming back? Colour: white wine. Nose: super-briny, really, sour, almost going towards ammonia, with some wild cheese (that those Frenchies had brought) and even 'ideas' of gym socks. Elderberry flowers. Plus, indeed, a lot of smoky ashes. Very singular. With water: calms down but the elderberry blossom's still there. Mouth (neat): much straighter and cleaner, sweet and fruity as well (lemon and pear drops), with even touches of pineapples – that molecule – then huge ashes indeed. A little brutal. With water: pure 'official' Laphroaig, full of ashes with just some lemon drops. Finish: long, same. Comments: unusual and challenging at times, Sonny Boy. Some will adore this for sure, I'll try to remain PC.
SGP:558 - 84 points.

An even younger one…

Laphroaig 6 yo 2011/2018 (52.6%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 306 bottles)

Laphroaig 6 yo 2011/2018 (52.6%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 306 bottles) Four stars
Poor Whisky Fair Limburg! Next year! Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: hold on, this is mirabelle eau-de-vie, smoked. So, mirabelles and smoke. With water: cowshed and horse dung. Really. Amazing what water does to this one, it's almost about to moo. Mouth (neat): have I mentioned mirabelles before? And the eau-de-vie made thereof? Add a little brine if you like, olive oil, green walnuts… In fact this distillate is perfectly simple and simply perfect. With water: no animality this time, only a big gold greener smoke, brine, and a few sourer fruits. Apples? Green mangos? Star fruits? That's all full of antioxidants! Finish: rather long, and now come the big ashes. A little drying. Comments: a fascinating little drop. See you next year in April.
SGP: 367- 86 points.

We've had quite a few already and are still stuck amongst the baby Laphroaigs…

Lp11 2005/2020 (52.2%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon barrels, 496 bottles)

Lp11 2005/2020 (52.2%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon barrels, 496 bottles) Four stars and a half
The mistake I'm always making is that when I already know that a whisky will be great, I tend to believe that the tasting note will be short and fast. Colour: white wine. Nose: well they called this series 'The Elements of Islay', which is fine enough, but now that I've tried a few, I would say they'd rather call it 'The Essence of Islay'. This is essentially, fully and plainly Laphroaig. It is a sublime drop. Sea, lemon, wool, ashes, chalk, mezcal (yep), riesling, tomato, rhubarb (a new game at WF, spot the odd one out). With water: not necessary. There. Mouth (neat): perfect. Lime, salt, chalk, oysters, grapefruits etc. One theory – well that's a little more than just a theory - could be that once it's reached proper age, Laphroaig's ashes transform into citrus. And later, into tropical fruits. With water: perfect. Nice bitter apples. Finish: long, with all ashes not gone. Drying aftertaste. Comments: we're getting there. High-class Laphroaig.
SGP:457 - 88 points.

Elixir, the floor is still yours…

Laphroaig 24 yo 1996/2020 (51.8%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon, cask #1-104, 217 bottles)

Laphroaig 24 yo 1996/2020 (51.8%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon, cask #1-104, 217 bottles) Four stars and a half
The bourbon cask was a Jack Daniel's. Don't get me started with 'rather Tennessee whiskey' etc. Colour: full gold. Fresh bourbon wood! Nose: ho and oh, early grey in abundance, then banana pie, juicyfruit, plantain, young agricole rum, cigarettes (Camel, the doctors' preferred, or was it Luck Strike?) and a whole pack of liquorice allsorts. This is clearly something else, with American oak having literally absorbed any 'excessive' (I agree that's a judgement) smoke and ashes. Well, time may have helped. With water: there, almond milk, putty, books… That too comes from aging. Mouth (neat): holy smokes! In truth I'm reminded of the old official 30, only with more power. Mangos, bananas, smoked tea, vanilla fudge, mint, salted water… etcetera. With water: salt, lemons, pies, smoked fish, clams, touch of olive oil. Do not add too much water. Finish: fairly long. Scallops terrine with riesling and perhaps a little squid ink and mint sauce. Well done, I'm hungry now. Comments: why not 90, you may ask? Because it does not take water extraordinarily well. Any other questions?
SGP:467 - 89 points.

To Asia if you please… Just like most carmakers and because of the rising economic and environmental costs of transport, the big shots will soon have built twin distilleries in Asia anyway. No?

Laphroaig (59.3%, Douglas Laing/Clan Denny for Or Sileis, Taiwan, cask #DL14131, 264 bottles, 2020)

Laphroaig (59.3%, Douglas Laing/Clan Denny for Or Sileis, Taiwan, cask #DL14131, 264 bottles, 2020) Four stars
No age or vintage statements that I can spot here, but we do know this is about kung-fu. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: according to the colour, this is extremely young. The nose is rather on roots, gentian, celeriac, also pears, also sauna oils, also beach sand. Rather intriguing but water may change all this. With water: not really, well it got much earthier. White earth, very calcareous. After some heavy rains. Mouth (neat): this is white indeed, as white rum is white, as blanche d'Armagnac is white, and as tequila blanco is white. So we're extremely close to the 'new make' and I cannot be against that, at least as an experiment. It is an awesome distillate, with peaches rather than pears (a good sign) and a very medical peat. Indeed, medical rather than medicinal. With water: eau-de-vie de peated barley with oysters and a touch of dill. I'm reminded of wild carrot tops. Finish: long, clean, earthy, eau-de-vie-ish. Celeriac eau-de-vie; indeed that exists, we make some in Alsace, it's brilliant on smoked salmon. Comments: I hope I've not been silly and that this is not actually 25 years old (and matured in stone jars then).
SGP:637 - 85 points.

Laphroaig 14 yo 2004/2018 (51.7%, Master of Malt, bourbon barrel)

Laphroaig 14 yo 2004/2018 (51.7%, Master of Malt, bourbon barrel) Four stars
Love Master of Malt but they still don't ship to France. Between us, does it make much sense to ship some Mortlach to Dufftown, or indeed, some Laphroaig to the lovely wee town of Port Ellen? Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this one's raw and grassy. I suppose the barrel has been lazy as a sloth on Laphroaig. White peaches, rapeseed oil, samphires, fresh-mown lawn, some green bananas, bamboo shoots perhaps, green melons, palm heart… It is all pretty delicate, certainly not an extravagant Laphroaig. With water: oh, white bread! Mouth (neat): hold on, this is rather something. Tart lemons and grapefruits over crushed chalk, with a little white wine. Something light and sour, perhaps Sylvaner? With water: very good, sweeter and fruitier, on ripe apples, bananas, greengages, melons… Finish: medium, saltier. No big smoke. Big saltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: the smoke was lighter here, but the body solid and rather fat. Another variation that's been rather enticing. Come one, palm hearts?
SGP:456 - 86 points.

An old bottle, perhaps? After all, this is Feis Ile…

Laphroaig 12 yo (91.4 proof, Prime Malt, Selection No.1, USA, +/-1980)

Laphroaig 12 yo (91.4 proof, Prime Malt, Selection No.1, USA, +/-1980) Five stars
Legendary. I've seen that Sotheby's are quoting WF for this one but since it was Angus who had tried it, I'm happy to say that yours truly is still a virgin. Well, you see what I mean... There is also a 15 yo that Angus has tried, and that I haven't tried either. You see, young people have no respect anymore. Colour: gold. Nose: proper fresh butter, meadow flowers, lighter embrocations, engine oil, honeysuckle, nectarines, touch of Darjeeling tea. Not wham-bam, gentle, almost too shy. But these tend to keep things under their sleeves… Mouth: you bet! Massive smoke, fish oils, sour citrus, bread, seafood (rather shells, clams and all that), turmeric-led spices, then, quite bizarrely, some caramel or black nougat, ristretto coffee, plasticine, heavy liquorice, chewing tobacco, shoe polish, then back to seawater and seaweed (nori, sea lettuce)… What's rather remarkable is that there's almost no tropical fruits, whilst that's supposed to be one of old Laphroaig's main markers. Finish: rather long, one some salty, coastal kind of sourness. A seafood platter. Comments: like most peaters, big peaters tend to age very well in glass. So as soon as you spot a great young one for a good price, I would suggest you buy it and cellar it for twenty to thirty years.
SGP:566 - 93 points.

Good, we're done now. We'll soon do a larger, bigger, fatter Laphroaig session, but this very one is over.  Tomorrow, hold on, tomorrow… Right, it's going to be Bowmore Day! We'll try to focus on older bottlings and avoid the wine-or-oak-flavoured NASes like the plague, I promise (cross my heart…)

(Merci KC!)

 

Over to Angus in Edinburgh...

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lp12 2014/2021 (54.7%, Elixir Distillers 'Elements Of Islay', sherry hogsheads, 1672 bottles)

Lp12 2014/2021 (54.7%, Elixir Distillers 'Elements Of Islay', sherry hogsheads, 1672 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: putty, canvas, engine oil and soot. Also rather a lot of gutsy notes of tar, brine, anchovy paste and iodine. Indeed, over time it goes more towards these impressions of malt vinegar, capers and green olives in dirty martinis. With water: very briny now and doubling down on this green olive and pickling juice theme. Mouth: mezcal! Seriously, this is Mezcal muddled together with vinegar, seawater and chip fat! Sounds great! Extremely powerful, briny, salty and medicinal. With water: pure peat smoke now, along with camphor, wood ashes, seawater and more tar. Finish: long, ashy, briny, pickled onions, preserved lemons and more anchovy notes. Comments: young, non-nonsense, powerhouse Laphroaig. The sherry was deft but pleasantly 'present', I should add. Although, globally it remains pretty far from 'subtle'.
SGP: 477 - 84 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 1998/2007 (55.3%, Queen Of The Moorlands 'Edition XXIII', hogshead, 287 bottles)

Laphroaig 1998/2007 (55.3%, Queen Of The Moorlands 'Edition XXIII', hogshead, 287 bottles)
I have very fond memories of the time I visited David Wood's excellent wee wine shop in Leek and the legendary Earl Grey Inn, where many of the whiskies for this series were selected. Colour: white wine. Nose: bright, citric and with plenty coal smoke and mineral salts. Wonderfully pure and coastal with an expressive mix of white flowers, pebbles and peat smoke. With water: antiseptic, sheep wool, mouthwash and brine. Mouth: big arrival, all on seawater, sharp notes of grapefruit and gooseberry acidity, lime juice, mercurochrome and some rather gravelly minerality. With water: straight, neat, tidy and pristinely sharp. Finish: long, ashy, sharply smoky, lemon juice and more seawater. Comment: very good, this one became more narrow and chiselled with time and water.
SGP: 357 - 86 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 16 yo 1995/2011 (59.5%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, cask #43, bourbon barrel, 201 bottles)

Laphroaig 16 yo 1995/2011 (59.5%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, cask #43, bourbon barrel, 201 bottles)
Colour: bright gold. Nose: creamy peat smoke, natural tar, vanilla cream, TCP, wet hessian, sheep wool and camphor. A wonderfully thick and expressive nose that gives a strong impression of texture. With water: wet rocks, fabric, chalk, bonfire embers and more TCP. Also dried heather flowers and pine resin. Mouth: the cask was pretty active here, lots of initial wood spice, paprika, pink peppercorn, capers in brine, olives in pickling juices, tar, embrocations, iodine and cough sweets. Reminiscent of some older batches of the OB 10yo Cask Strength. With water: drier with water now, more towards pure sea salt, brine, salted liquorice, more natural tar, hessian and smoked olive oils. Finish: long, very salty, sharp, almost acridly smoky and briny. Comments: I think this one has some terrific moments, but the cask feels a bit too dominant and it seems to lose its definition slightly with water.
SGP: 567 - 85 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 20 yo 1996 (50.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #29.228 'Cooking with driftwood', refill hogshead, 245 bottles)

Laphroaig 20 yo 1996 (50.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #29.228 'Cooking with driftwood', refill hogshead, 245 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: silky soft peat smoke, embrocations, beach bonfire embers, scallops and langoustines on a grill, olive oil and some very low level fruits such as lemons and grapefruit. Subtle but very charming so far. Given time it becomes slightly more farmyard influenced. With water: sheep wool, lanolin, muddy hay lofts, game meats and anthracite dust. Rather organic and rustic in style now. Mouth: sweeter peat, smoked teas, lanolin, cough sweets, herbal liqueur and salted liquorice. Quite concentrated and syrupy on the palate, with a few softer notes of dried flowers and bergamot. With water: anchovies and sardines in olive oil, frying pancetta, iodine and malt vinegar. Becomes rather powerful now with water conversely. Finish: long, deeply medicinal, mentholated, briny, camphory and with sharper notes of lemon juice and seawater. Comments: excellent mature Laphroaig, one that would keep you guessing as it frequently seems to alter course in terms of profile.
SGP: 466 - 88 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 27 yo (41.7%, OB, refill hogsheads + 1st fill barrels + refill quarter casks, bottled 2017)

Laphroaig 27 yo (41.7%, OB, refill hogsheads + 1st fill barrels + refill quarter casks, bottled 2017)
From casks distilled in 1988 and 1989. Colour: deep gold. Nose: another style entirely, all on these gorgeous and rather precious tropical fruits. Lots of ripe guava, mango and pineapple with further impressions of papaya, overripe banana, passion fruit and tropical fruit salad juices. Just extremely luscious, ripe and generous, with the most gentle touches of medicine and soft, thready peat smoke. A wonderful nose! Mouth: holds up well despite the ABV. Still focussed on fruits, but also with some sandalwood, mineral oils, seawater, grapefruit and dried herbs. Coastal freshness but also with some more resinous stuff like menthol and wood resins. Indeed, over time the casks do start to have more of a voice with these wee wood spice tones. Finish: good length, with a bigger, more oily smokiness, like puffer smoke, tarry rope, hessian, coal dust and pine wood. Comments: I was worried about the ABV but it's actually a really splendid drop, the fruits in the nose alone are worth the admission.
SGP: 655 - 90 points.

 

 

 

Tomorrow... hold on... right, it's Bowmore Day! We'll try to taste some great old ones that we've never tried before...

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

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

May 2021

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Brora 1972/2021 'Triptych – Elusive Legacy' (42.8%, OB, 300 bottles) - WF96

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Caol Ila 1983/2015 (43%, Samaroli, barrel, cask #1461, 250 bottles)- WF93

Ben Nevis 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2020)  - WF89

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Vallein Tercinier 53 carats 'Lot 68' (46.8%, Asta Maurice, Petite Champagne, cask #AMF002, 120 bottles, 2021)  - WF92

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
None

May 2021 - part 2 <--- June 2021 - part 1 ---> June 2021 - part 2


 

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ardbeg 30 yo 1967/1997 (50.3%, Signatory Vintage, USA, dark oloroso, cask #1141, 510 bottles)

Ardbeg 1973/2004 (49.3%, OB, bourbon hogshead, cask #1143, 216 bottles)

Ardbeg 1974/2006 (54.5%, OB, bourbon, cask #3326, 110 bottles)

Ardbeg 1974/2005 (51.8%, OB, bourbon, for UK, cask #2751, 141 bottles)

Ardbeg 1974/2005 (52.1%, OB, for Oddbins, bourbon, cask #2752, 133 bottles)

Ardbeg 1975/2005 (44.7%, OB for Islay Festival 2005, fino, cask #4719, 188 bottles)

Ardbeg 40 yo 1979/2020 (56.8%, Signatory Vintage, bourbon barrel, cask #9861, 82 bottles)

Ardbeg 19 yo 2001/2020 (51.8%, The Single Malts Of Scotland, for USA, refill barrel / 1st fill barrel, 216 bottles)

Ardbeg 26 yo (47.2%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Feis Ile 2019, refill hogshead, 387 bottles)

Ardbeg 10 yo 1999/2009 (57.5%, Chieftains Choice, German Chieftains Society, barrel, cask #114, 228 bottles)

Bowmore 1966/2002 (42.3%, Duncan Taylor for Whiskyfreunde Essenheim, cask #3305, 120 bottles)

Bowmore 1969/1979 'Bicentenary' (56.2%, OB, Fecchio & Frassa for Biancalana Francesco, sherry, cask #322, 300 bottles)

Bowmore 1969/1978 (58%, OB, Fecchio & Frassa for various Italian individuals, sherry cask, cask #6639)

Dufftown-Glenlivet 'Over 8 years' (80 proof, OB, 1960s) 

The Singleton of Dufftown 54 yo 1966/2021 'Parangon of Time No.2' (44.1%, OB, 235 bottles)

Images of Islay 1982/2013 'Port Ellen Lighthouse' (53.2%, Malts of Scotland, sherry cask, 212 bottles)

Islay #2 25 yo (48.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 3124 bottles, 2018)

Islay Single Malt 27 yo 1992/2020 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, refill barrel, 293 bottles)

Islay Malt 27 yo 1993/2020 (49.9%, Thompson Bros., 536 bottles)

Isle of Jura 21 yo (44%, OB, +/-2016)

Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (46.3%, Thompson Bros., refill hogshead, cask #5310, 186 bottles)

Kilchoman 2007/2019 (56.5%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, bourbon, cask #307)

Laphroaig 12 yo (91.4 proof, Prime Malt, Selection No.1, USA, +/-1980)

Laphroaig 12 yo 2006/2018 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask for Ardnahoe Distillery Shop, refill sherry butt, cask #HL 14745)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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