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

       
 

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

 

June 14, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Trios, today unusual Bladnoch

First a blend by the Distillery, then a new deep-oloroso-ed official, then a new NAS bearing yet another strange name.
Burgundy's jambon persillé (Le Porc Français)

 

 

Pure Scot (40%, OB, blended Scotch, Bladnoch, +/-2021)

Pure Scot (40%, OB, blended Scotch, Bladnoch, +/-2021) Four stars
A blend first launched to celebrate the Distillery's 200th anniversary. The main dresser should be Bladnoch but there is also some Islay and some Speyside, as well as some grain whisky. Let's hope this baby is Bladnoch-driven, and not just some kind of anonymous blandola (going a bit too far once more, S.) Colour: gold. Nose: it's malty, it's cakey, it is pleasantly waxy (beeswax), it's got a little wood smoke, some earl grey tea, lillies, honeysuckle, touches of earth… Well, imagine all blends would be like this! Couldn't the industry pull this off? Mouth: huge success despite the low strength. Same flavours as on the nose, plus more citrus, perhaps from Bladnoch's malt. This is a perfect blend – you don't even feel the grain whiskies. We're not far from Johnnie Walker's Blue Label, to tell you the truth. Exactly. Finish: perfect fresh and honeyed finish, with this lovely citrusy signature in the end. Comments: surprised and impressed, I am, which wasn't the case when I tried an earlier version leisurely. Did they change the recipe? Not my business of course, but I would also do a version at +/-46% vol.

SGP:641 - 86 points.

Bladnoch 14 yo 'Oloroso Sherry Cask Matured' (46,7%, OB, 2021)

Bladnoch 14 yo 'Oloroso Sherry Cask Matured' (46,7%, OB, 2021) Four stars
This baby was born last year. According to the colour, this was not heavy/stuffy sherry. Colour: full gold. Nose: wood smoke and walnuts, both old and fresh, then roasted sesame and coffee-flavoured chocolate, which is not exactly the same thing as coffee and chocolate, mind you. Black nougat too, drop of miso, pipe tobacco from an old leather pouch (in other words, not wham-bam fresh pipe tobacco), and a growing meatiness. Ham and parsley, another winning combo and a great Burgundian specialty (jambon persillé). Mouth: walnuts, toasted cakes, tobacco, a little leather, a little pepper, certainly some nutmeg, a tiny cinnamon mint, some softer beef jerky, Nescafé (no worries), gingerbread… Once more, 46-48% vol. do make for a perfect strength. Finish: rather long, on cloves, walnuts, a little salt and, hold on, Mon Chéri! Sure I can quote brand names, I am not a professional. Comments: extremely good. Now, it's also true that I am a huge fan of olorosos (and amontillados), while this little Bladnoch made every effort to remain very close to that style of wine.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

Bladnoch 'Alinta' (47%, OB, Classic Collection, 2022)

Bladnoch 'Alinta' (47%, OB, Classic Collection, 2022) Four stars
Hold on, this one's a peater! I wouldn't want to quibble again but how and why would a peated Bladnoch belong to a 'Classic Collection'? I'm joking, all we'd still need to know about is the language in which 'alinta' means 'peat' or 'smoke'. Outer-Mongolian? Colour: straw. Nose: smoked raclette cheese at first, which is good fun, then the ammonia goes out and we're left with a grassy and fat smokiness, some yoghurt, mozzarella, compost and whiffs of horse saddle and dried tangerine skins (chen-pi). Even approaches gym-socks territory at times, but never crosses the border. Certainly not your average malt, I have to say I had never nosed anything similar. Mouth: oh fun! We're reminded of two drinks, first of the most petroly Alsatian rieslings, then simply of some naked batches of Longrow. At times you would almost believe some bacterial fermentation had taken place, willingly or unwillingly. Ashes, sausages, suet, tarragon, sage and parsley, even cress, thyme and pine, lard… Plus that magical element in any spirit, olives! Finish: medium and kind of cleaner. Notes of iron, salt, Fanta and sorrel soup. Comments: right, to be honest, I don't quite know what to think. What's sure is that I wouldn't call this Bladnoch. I think I actually love this new 'bacterial' style where flaws are assets, but I am not dead sure about that. Some thinking to be done, score just for the record…

SGP:363 - 85 points.

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

 

June 13, 2022


Whiskyfun

Another wee Scottish hotchpotch

Oh, just various rather unknown whiskies, as they come, blends, undisclosed singles, uncertain juices, residues, brand-led whiskies, question marks, whatnot. Absolutely not sure about what we'll find, but let's try to have fun. Remember WF's founding motto, 'whisky is only serious matter to people who make or sell it – or to people who drink way too much of it.'

Did the fine folks at Spheric Whisky let their new malt being finished in Seguin-Moreau's spectacular round (and revolving) oak barrel?

 

 

Blended Malt 31 yo 1988/2020 (43.1%, Spheric Spirits Germany, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 655 bottles)

Blended Malt 31 yo 1988/2020 (43.1%, Spheric Spirits Germany, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 655 bottles) Four stars and a half
What could this be? Colour: full gold. Nose: it is not easy to be sure with very small batches, but all this beeswax as well as the touches of orange blossom honey and grapefruit would suggest something way north of Inverness and south of Wick. The notes of root vegetables (celeriac, parsnip) and the wee medicinally coastal side would add to the equation; having said that it is curiously gentle as well, but that may just be the lower strength. It would be interesting that someday, someone would blend Clynelish with Glenmorangie, to create something really subtle and yet 'assertive'. Like this. After all, Diageo are big shareholders in Glenmorangie (via LVMH). Mouth: very good, with more beeswax, some soft warm oak (in summer), a touch of coconut, oriental pastries, orange blossom and rosewater, honeys… And several dried fruits. Figs, for example. Finish: not too long, but really on dried figs, beeswax, honey and dried pears. Touch of toffee and hazelnut liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: a delicacy, to sip with abandon.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

The Bad Na H-Achlaise Collection 'Cask Strength' (58.5%, Badachro Distillery, Tuscan oak, #16/29)

The Bad Na H-Achlaise Collection 'Cask Strength' (58.5%, Badachro Distillery, Tuscan oak, #16/29) Four stars
As I understand it this is blend of sourced malts done by some great folks at a wee new artisan distillery located south of Ullapool. I have to confess I had never heard of these very fine folks before. As for the name of this whisky, well, why not! Colour: golden apricot, which would lead us straight to Chianti or similar Tuscan wines. Nose: I'm not sure we're getting Sangiovese, but there is, indeed, some coastal and smoky red-wine-ness which would remind us of some official Laphroaigs of old. Such as 'Brodir'. Big notes of pink grapefruits, which is lovely 'of course'. Also bandages, embrocations, iodine… With water: mud, dunnage, rotting strawberries and blood oranges. Much nicer than it sounds. Mouth (neat): very nice for sure, with superb notes of artichokes stewed in sweet red wine. Sounds odd I know, but it is glorious. With water: gets creamier, perfectly balanced, with some fine smoke, Szechuan pepper and more pink grapefruits and blood oranges. Bingo every time, that. A wee syrupy side. Finish: rather long, and most probably better than any other medium-peater that had been finished in red wine, in my opinion. But don't ask me to write or tell the name. Comments: excellent, but hasn't the cat jumped onto the keyboard while they were typing the name? It is not Laphroaig, as it is a 'Highland Single Malt', but it was close.

SGP: 653 – 87 points.

Equilibrium #2 16 yo 2005/2022 (55%, WhiskySponge, single malt, second fill sherry hogsheads)

Equilibrium #2 16 yo 2005/2022 (55%, WhiskySponge, single malt, second fill sherry hogsheads) Four stars and a half
'A balance of sherry and peat', it says. Actually, this is a blend of Edradour and Ballechin, so indeed a single malt, or a self-blended malt if you wish. We're expecting a Springbank + Longrow anytime soon. Colour: gold. Nose: the Sponge is a great friend; good, that's sorted. I believe the folks at Edradour are superb human beings too, I needed adding. So, all disclosures having been done, let us proceed. Pipe tobacco, old copper kettle, dried jujubes, soot, fresh concrete, brake fluid, used gearbox oil (not the same as engine oil at all!) and this wee acetic side that would remind us of that other distillery that we've just mentioned before. With water: typical mutton and smoked sausage, plus dark honeys, cognac and strong herbal liqueurs. Say Zwack Unicum. Mouth (neat): relatively smooth and rounded at first, then bursting with chestnut purée, salted chocolate, black toffee and various peppers, as well as clove. Plays with your lips at his strength. With water: chocolate and honey, there. Finish: long, with more citrus, and always this sooty/oily side that's so pleasantly dirty. 'Ish'. Comments: a bit raw here and there, but we weren't expecting Blair Athol mind you. Great fat drop, well 'less fat, but still fat'.
SGP:463 - 89 points.

John Walker & Son 'Celebratory Blend' (51%, OB, Johnnie Walker Bicentenary, blend, 2020)

John Walker & Son 'Celebratory Blend' (51%, OB, Johnnie Walker Bicentenary, blend, 2020) Four stars
Some kind of replica of the early John (johnnie) Walker, especially of the famous 'white label', a.k.a. 'Old Highland Whisky', possibly a blend that used to shelter, err, no grain whatsoever. Not sure, have to check, anyway, let's try this one… Colour: light gold. Nose: but yes! Oils and doughs and soots and smokes and fruit peel and wee metallic bits. This is well 'ancient' whisky, which means that they had kept the moulds and recipes and could reproduce this style just anytime. No? With water: raw malted barley in majesty. Mouth (neat): no obvious grain in the way, hurray! Rather citrus, cassata, panettone, sesame oil, sea salt, pastry dough… With water: it became even fatter, and certainly extremely good. Stunning citrus on doughs and oils and sultanas. Finish: long, peppery, agreeably smoky, with a wee meaty side in the aftertaste. Comments: very impressed, one of my favourite Johnnie Walkers, as good, in my book, as the Blue Label. But in France, you could find this 'wee White' at… 40€. Let's count the change in our pockets…  
SGP:552 - 86 points.

Conspirator Malt 13 yo (46.7%, Klaus Pinkernell, blended malt, 161 bottles, +/-2021)

Conspirator Malt 13 yo (46.7%, Klaus Pinkernell, blended malt, 161 bottles, +/-2021) Four stars
A very 'Covid-era' bottling. Hope we're done with it, but I like this quote (translated loosely from Hochdeutsch): 'whisky is a fantastic mean to fight any conspiracy theories'. Colour: coffee. Nose: but yess! Chestnut liqueurs, chocolate liqueurs, coffee liqueurs, prunes in armagnac, then Maggi and date wine, marmalade, arrack, corn syrup… Feels really thick, but you never know… Mouth: whacky and loco. Old oloroso, Jerez vinegar, chocolate liqueur and Mozart Kugeln, onion soup, pipe juice, walnut liqueur of course, plus a few drops of old Demerara rum. Finish: long, thick, heavy. I'm sure they've added armagnac and English gravy to the cask, but shh, that would be another conspiracy theory… Comments: great fun and great drop, maybe just not the epitome of balance. Extra points for the huge fun.
SGP:661 - 85 points.

Blended Scotch Whisky 7 yo 2014/2021 (47.5%, Fadandel, refill sherry butt, cask #7, 236 bottles)

Blended Scotch Whisky 7 yo 2014/2021 (47.5%, Fadandel, refill sherry butt, cask #7, 236 bottles) Three stars and a half
This from our friends in Denmark. Let's be clear, no one will ever do a blend with only 236 bottles. So, in theory, this is not a blend, unless large parts of the vatting have gone elsewhere. Complaints and quibblings on a postcard. Colour: white wine. Nose: rather light, with citrusy tones, brioches, jellybeans and lemonade. Very hard to pin down this far. With water (not that water is needed): dough, that's intriguing. It got maltier when further reduced. Mouth (neat): interesting blend, with some grain that you do feel, and yet no simple varnish or bubblegum, rather pears, cappuccino and Nutella. So, perhaps malt, plus grain, plus smartness. With water: indeed, looks like the malts have gone for blood here. Adios, grains! Finish: medium to short, this time on light coffee and orangeade. The grain speaking out. Comments: if it is really a blend, it is a super-blend.
SGP:641 - 84 points.

Secret Highland Single Malt 37 yo 1985/2022 (43.2%, Oxhead Whisky Company, Dram Addicts, sherry hogshead, cask #1018, 233 bottles)

Secret Highland Single Malt 37 yo 1985/2022 (43.2%, Oxhead Whisky Company, Dram Addicts, sherry hogshead, cask #1018, 233 bottles) Five stars
Long neck and nobility of bearing, this could well be… A distillery in the Highlands that's got tall stills with long necks. Colour: gold with bronze hues. Nose: lovely oily touches, olive, sesame, sunflower, then flower jellies, dandelions, orange cake, custard, certainly some blond tobacco (old Camels – remember all doctors used to smoke Camels – dear America!) Would keep going on with some nougats of all kinds, peach wine, and even a wee glass of sweet chenin blanc. A great Chaume, for example. Mouth: sure the wood's about to take over, but these ripe mirabelles, bergamots, buttery pears and apples, quinces and, yes, wines of Chaume are still holding their position with panache and glory. In fact, it is not oaky at all. Lovely notes of linden tea. Finish: medium, with some wood oils for sure, but also awesome apple pies and honey ice cream. Honey ice cream is just another sin. Comments: all delicacy and élan (what?) What would be the price of this in a proper hand-cut crystal decanter with its real name engraved in 24k gold letters? (plus white gloves, a certificate of some sort and a link to a bespoke video).

SGP:641 - 90 points.
 

June 12, 2022


Whiskyfun

A short flight over Bas-armagnac, with hugs to all houses

Very sadly, Armagnac's vineyards have been hit by heavy storms and a lot of grail only a few days ago, with some vines almost destroyed, especially in some parts of the Gers and the Landes. Around 5,000 hectares have been heavily struck, with hailstones the sizes of golf balls!

Hail

These notes are for the Armagnacaises and Armagnacais, their immense courage and their incredible resilience. There's a heavy price to pay when you cannot, by law, source your raw ingredients from another region or from just anywhere else in the whole goddam world. See what I mean? (photograph armagnacnews.com)

 

 

Domaine Clotte de Manon 14 yo 2007/2021 (46.5%, Darroze, Collection Unique, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine Clotte de Manon 14 yo 2007/2021 (46.5%, Darroze, Collection Unique, Bas-Armagnac) Four stars
Darroze are bringing many small estates to the market, working as perfect 'negociants-éleveurs'. I believe I've never tried Clotte de Manon, having said that, while Darroze's website is mute about them. Colour: deep gold. Nose: awesomely rustic, with touches of balsamico and varnish at first (all good), then a little toasted oak, chocolate and black tea, mint tea, then prunes and many orangey things, marmalades, some kind of chutney, pickled kumquats, then big black very dry raisins (Corinthians)… Mouth: same lovely rusticity, same balsamic vinegar and varnish at first, marmalade, dry raisins, 'old' prunes, armagnac (I know, feels like a tautological description but I know what I'm trying to say), old rancio and very old sweet Sauternes – or else - that went dry and toasted oak plus bitter chocolate. Finish: long, more on strong black tea and heavy-fermented tobacco. Comments: you're just there with this rural, almost bucolic young one. This starts well.
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Lous Pibous 2002 (57.4%, L'Encantada, For the USA, 10th Anniversary, Bas-armagnac, +/-2021)

Lous Pibous 2002 (57.4%, L'Encantada, For the USA, 10th Anniversary, Bas-armagnac, +/-2021) Four stars
No literature needed here. Comes with a different label than the usual orange one that always makes me think of Johan Cruyff and Johnny Rep. Colour: amber. Nose: punchy drop, still young, so still with its consubstantial varnish, a touch of Bulldog sauce, sweet gravy, molasses and heavier honeys, quince paste, honey-glazed ham… With water: sweet bread (yes) and lighter fruit cake, with apricots, citrus and pears. First appearance of quinces in this one. Mouth (neat): fights you right from the start, with a little spicy oak and concentrated miso, as well as rather a lot of pepper. A little unbalanced, but we know water will put things right. That's one of the advantages of whisky, it stands very high strengths better than 'brandies' do, in my humble opinion. With water: not that easy to handle, even with the most technologically-advanced pipette. Right, right. Spicy oranges, a little ginger, that miso, bitter herbal teas… Finish: long, pretty resinous at this point. Marmalade and coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: so, the proceedings. You buy a bottle, you spoil a good half trying to come up with the best proportions with water and your pipette, you do not forget to write it down once you've found it, and you may now enjoy the other half of your bottle. Naturally, you could as well buy several bottles. Anyway, very good, as expected.

SGP:561 - 85 points.

Château de Laubade 1985/2020 'Brut de Fût' (48.4%, OB, Bas-armagnac, bonbonne #89061)

Château de Laubade 1985/2020 'Brut de Fût' (48.4%, OB, Bas-armagnac, bonbonne #89061) Three stars and a half
Boy does this little series by Laubade rock! They're cask strength, but they're reasonably cask strength. This is ex-demijohn, so it was already out of the wood when it was bottled, most certainly for good reasons. Imagine they would have done this at Stromness, Malt Mill or Old Clynelish! Colour: reddish amber. Nose: indeed, you do feel some spicy cellulose at first, but various honeys and jams are extremely quick to arrive, especially heather and apricots. Also this feeling of opening an old soft-pack of untipped Camels, or Craven A. In the background, marrow bouillon and even a little garlic butter. Mouth: rather dry, on ground coffee and cocoa powder at first, then tobacco, chen-pi and the blackest black tea. Peppered brownies, should anyone ever bake that. Inadvertently, perhaps? Finish: rather long but really rather dry. Old oak in the aftertaste. Comments: feels like an old-school Ténarèze, I would humbly add. Indeed, I've seen this was not a Ténarèze. Absolutely excellent, but I think I liked all the other Bruts de Fût I could already try either rather, or much better.

SGP:461 - 83 points.

Speaking of old school…

Dupeyron 1967 (40%, OB, armagnac, +/-2020)

Dupeyron 1967 (40%, OB, armagnac, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
1967? Let's see if this will be an armagnac of love. Approx. 150€ for an armagnac that was distilled while Jimi Hendrix was composing The Wind Cries Mary, how does that sound? Oh and never underestimate those vintage armagnacs that are primarily sold as birthday presents, we've already tried some glorious ones. Colour: gold. Nose: old school indeed, that is to say rather dry, on tobacco and coffee indeed, tea as well, but in this very case I'm also finding patchouli and bidis (1967 indeed). Indeed, indeed. Rather stewed apples and pears at the fruit section, plus fermenting plums, or plum wine, Korean style. Mouth: yes, it's good, certainly more vinous than the others (old pinot noir, old barrel), but with also more Seville oranges, marmalade, fresh walnuts, oloroso-like notes, a small mustiness… Finish: not very long but balanced, soft, vinous, with prunes. Prunes in armagnac (more tautological descriptions, I'm afraid). Comments: not much oomph here but frankly, it's a good old winey drop, a style that's becoming really out of fashion these days.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Baron de Lustrac 40 yo (49.9%, OB, for Wine4You, Bas-armagnac, 4000 bottles, +/-2021)

Baron de Lustrac 40 yo (49.9%, OB, for Wine4You, Bas-armagnac, 4000 bottles, +/-2021) Five stars
This one was sourced from Domaine de Mandillet in the Gers, just south-east of Eauze. Age-stated armagnacs remain quite uncommon to these days. I believe the price was pornographically low when this baby came out, last year. I think it was last year. Colour: bronze amber. Nose: I'm finding a lot of chestnuts, glazed, puréed, roasted, as liqueur… Also honeydew, fir, also pipe tobacco, bouillons, our beloved marrow, onion soup, even some malt extracts, Marmite, brown sauce… I would say you could pour this over some very-deluxe burgers. Why not call that an Arma-Mac? (that's not diving to new lows, S., that's speleology). Mouth: yes. Old school again, meaty, tobacco-y, earthy, very bouillony and even salty, with rather a lot of old wood, old wines, cured hams, peppers, also calvados, cider, liquorice wood, celeriac… And even gentian. Finish: long. Old pu-her tea, chewing cigars, snuff, salty bouillons and broths… Comments: loved the earthiness in this one. The old-woodiness is also an obvious asset here. Well if you hate old oak, this may not be for you – but that's more for us then. Oh well, I just love this quasi-antique.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

A last one, since we hadn't planned to do armagnac today…

Domaine de Baraillon 1944/2021 (43%, OB, Bas-armagnac) Imagine, harvest 1944!

Domaine de Baraillon 1944/2021 (43%, OB, Bas-armagnac) Five stars
Imagine, harvest 1944! To give you an idea, the city of Auch, capital of the Gers, was liberated just one month earlier, on August 19, 1944. So this is truly historical and we hope Ukraine will soon follow the same path, upon the right of self-determination. Same with strictly all the other countries currently at war with any invaders, of course. We believe there are no good and no right invaders. Colour: deep amber. Nose: I don't quite know what to say. Natural syrups (agave, barley, sugarcane), sweet wines from the south of France (Monbazillac and brothers), or Italy (vinsanto, Pantelleria…), earths and mints, humidor, sweeter reductions… Indeed, I don't quite know what to say. Mouth: so moving. It's probably not a shining star, I mean, organoleptically speaking, but there are flavours in there that we may well have forgotten about. Such as truly forgotten root vegetables. I mean, everyone's talking about those forgotten vegetables these days, even the greatest chefs, which does not make any sense. Either they are forgotten, or they are not. Salty soups, jams, chutneys, thick beers, broths, tobaccos… Plus some kind of salted toffee. Truly a journey through time. Finish: medium, simply going on with the same moving flavours of yesteryears, plus the sounds of cannons and firing squads. To a free Ukraine (and all other countries). Comments: if you believe spirits and politics don't ging together, be my guest, just go to a pub or a bistro and listen to the people there. Spirits have always been eminently political.
SGP:452 - (unapplicable) points.

(Gracias Boris and other friends)

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

 

June 11, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Four Laphroaig
It's probably my favourite distillery, although as much for emotional reasons as qualitative ones these days. But we shouldn't forget that numerous Laphroaigs from the 1970s and earlier were amongst the greatest single malts thus far made by humans. I believe Laphroaig still produces excellent and idiosyncratic distillate these days, it's just that the owners seem overly fond of slathering it in wood these last couple of decades. Nevertheless, it's always a pleasure to check in with this make…

 

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB, 70cl, early 1990s)

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB, 70cl, early 1990s)
A version from before they were granted the Royal Warrant in 1994. There's an L code printed on the rear of the front label (which you don't see too often with Laphroaig) which says 'W91 141' - so perhaps it's a 1991 rotation? Colour: gold. Nose: very typically on soft, quilted peat smoke, mangos, passion fruits and some fusion of lapsing souchong and smoked honey. Simple, but exquisite. Mouth: always starts with a little bit of a hobble compared to the 43% versions due to 40% - which has been a sore point for Laphroaig for decades now in my view! Still, beautifully silky peat smoke, touches of grapefruit juice, bandages, TCP, light seawater salinity and lemon peels. Ethereal, drying and wispy peat smoke at the back of the palate. Finish: a tad short, but still showing plenty exotic fruit teas, soft peat smoke, wee peppery notes and lime. Comments: totally great! But very much in spite of the way it was bottled. Same story as with many of the best early G&M Connoisseur's Choice bottlings. Anyway, a super quaffable old Laphroaig that still has plenty of those coveted tropical fruits. At 43% I'm sure we'd be solidly on 90.
SGP: 455 - 88 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 16 yo (48%, OB, rotation 2019)

Laphroaig 16 yo (48%, OB, rotation 2019)
Colour: straw. Nose: certainly a more modern profile, but it's immediately a good one. A lot of lemon peel, smoked olive oil, seawater, some green olives in brine, mineral salts and dried seaweed. I also find a touch of pink grapefruit about the nose too. It manages to be rather salty but without also being too ashy, which I often find with modern Laphroaigs. Mouth: big and punchy. Lots of salty things such as oysters, seawater, anchovy paste and pickled mussels. It's also rather brutally medicinal with mercurochrome and impressions of bandages and TCP. Some tarry rope in there too. Finish: good length, rather sooty, deeply smoky and briny with pickling juices and black pepper. Comments: an excellent composition I would say, one that displays good balance in all the right places. There's plenty power, but nothing is too extreme, and the ABV works perfectly with Laphroaig's modern character here. This, mixed with the fruitiness of the old 10yo, and I would be a very, very happy wee laddie! Same score I think.
SGP: 367 - 88 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 10 yo 'Original Cask Strength Batch 12' (60.1%, OB, 2020)

Laphroaig 10 yo 'Original Cask Strength Batch 12' (60.1%, OB, 2020)
I haven't tried too many of these contemporary batch releases of the Cask Strength, possibly due to the rather lofty heights of those early green stripe versions… Colour: gold. Nose: rather grizzly, boisterously ashy and a bit uncouth with some up front wood spiciness aside tarry peat, black pepper, BBQ embers and brisket. There's also something a tad minty about it, menthol tobacco perhaps? Add to that some very salty Dutch liquorice and some seawater. With water: saltier, on frying bacon, pork scratchings, paprika and hessian. Mouth: much better arrival I think, sweet but full of syrupy peat flavours, smoked black pepper, bandages, tar extracts, iodine and various medical 'things'. Big and nicely 'Laphroaigy'. With water: works well now! More precise and focused on peat smoke, medicine, TCP and smoked pepper. That sweetness from the wood feels more integrated. Finish: long, very tarry, peppery, iodine, kippers, brine and anchovy paste. Comments: the thing about these whiskies is that they are very good, but I think they show better in tumblers and highballs than being dissected in nosing copitas. This on a summer night on Islay, sipped from a tumbler with a little water is probably the sort of thing this potion is brewed for. It's not in the same echelons as those older bottlings, but for chunky, silly, simple, potent, full-power Laphroaig it's solid.
SGP: 467 - 85 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 10 yo 'Original Cask Strength Batch 14' (58.6%, OB, 2021)

Laphroaig 10 yo 'Original Cask Strength Batch 14' (58.6%, OB, 2021)
Colour: gold. Nose: same ballpark but perhaps a bit more on sawdust, ashes, wood smoke and a dash of Tabasco. These are pretty rough and ready drams, fun and all raw power, but lacking some of the sophistication that those early batches used to possess. With water: some softer peat smoke now, a little more refined and showing hints of petrol and coal smoke. Mouth: same feeling as with 12, but here it's a tad narrower and going more directly to seawater, smoked sea salt, seaweed, iodine and tar. Still rather a lot of black pepper vibes. With water: really hits its stride here, a nice oiliness about the texture, thicker, quilts of peat smoke, smoked peppercorns, iodine and dried herbs. Finish: long, tarry, mingling wood spiciness, some chilli pepper, more iodine and sharper peat flavours in the aftertaste. Comments: same as above. But I prefer this one by a single point, there's more complexity and roundness to it overall. But both really need water I think.

SGP: 467 - 86 points.

 

 

 

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

 

June 10, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Trios, today Craigellachie

Not too sure about all OBs but the indies tend to have some good ones. (Photo Spirit of Speyside)

Craigellachie

 

 

Craigellachie 15 yo 2006/2021 (57.9%, Douglas Laing, Midnight Series, cask #DL15424, finished in sherry, 625 bottles)

Craigellachie 15 yo 2006/2021 (57.9%, Douglas Laing, Midnight Series, cask #DL15424, finished in sherry, 625 bottles) Two stars
It's only a finish but we should be fine. It says '15 Glorious Years', well not sure those last 15 years have been glorious indeed, maybe they were at DL's? Colour: full gold. Nose: touches of sulphur at first (stewed cabbage) and then toffee and fudge, struck matches, artichokes, eggplants… Moussaka in your glass. Water should help. With water: not quite. Burnt cakes, truffle and gas. Mouth (neat): coffee liqueur, rubber, artichoke liqueur, bitterer marmalade… This one's rather complicated. With water: some nicer aspects, burnt caramel, muscovado, stout… Finish: rather long, burnt, caramelly. Comments: pretty okay but not quite for me. Did they start this Midnight Series to shelter zombie malts?
SGP:462 - 72 points.

Craigellachie 8 yo 2013/2021 (61.3%, Asta Morris, sherry, cask #AM067, 706 bottles)

Craigellachie 8 yo 2013/2021 (61.3%, Asta Morris, sherry, cask #AM067, 706 bottles) Four stars
Seven hundred and six bottles, wow! And I like it that their cask # would sound like there's yet a new Aston Martin. Colour: white wine, so no heavy sherry. Nose: this feeling of distilled manzanilla, sourdough bread, banana skin, brussels sprout (I swear I'm not saying this because this terrific bottler is from lovely Belgium), quinces, drop of teriyaki sauce, butterscotch… With water:  it's not that it would shut down, but we're only left with pipe tobacco. Mouth (neat): punchy, spirity, eau-de-vie-ish, very fudgey, very much on butterscotch, Werther's Originals… With water: a lot of sweetness coming out, orange drops, liquorice lozenges, aniseed bonbons, also thick moist bread, pumpernickel, clove liqueur, bitter chocolate…. Finish: long, caramelised, spicy. Comments: rather a restless, sweet and spicy little Craig'. Some action in this one.

SGP:562 - 86 points.

While we're doing young bombs…

Craigellachie 8 yo (64.3%, WhiskyPeter, PX sherry octave finish, +/-2020)

Craigellachie 8 yo (64.3%, WhiskyPeter, PX sherry octave finish, +/-2020) Three stars
Love these wee private efforts, all by the greatest folks, we're just waiting for a proper sauerkraut finish, as sauerkraut DOES mature in wood casks.  Come on, do it! By the way, this one's said to stem from an ex-Ledaig PX octave. And why not? Colour: full gold. Nose: yep, pine bark, charcoal, pine needles, citron skins, pine tar… With water: more or less the same. Mouth (neat): yess! Mentholated rubber and smoked grapefruit skin, plus oversteeped lapsang souchong and pepper liqueur. I made some pepper liqueur once myself and almost killed my very dear brother with it. It's very hard to get it balanced and drinkable. With water: smoky marmalade? Finish: smoky marmalade and bacon! Bacon coming out big time. Comments: I'm not a total fan of these oak-dominant octaves, but when they're refill, why not. I find this funnily good, if not as balanced as, as, as… as a 30yo Clynelish. What's sure is that it crushes the DL.
SGP:461 - 82 points.

I know this is a trio, but please a clean one, for the road…

Craigellachie 2006/2020 (54.9%, Caora, refill barrel, cask #8101283, 215 bottles)

Craigellachie 2006/2020 (54.9%, Caora, refill barrel, cask #8101283, 215 bottles) Three stars and a half
Some no-BS Swiss bottlers, to be encouraged. The labels are essential and just perfect. Colour: white wine. Nose: phew, we made it. Some clean barleyness, praline, toasted breads, toffee, shortbread and croissants. Roasted almonds. With water: pastries and breads. Nothing earthshattering, but I doubt anyone would start to complain. Mouth (neat): exactly on barley, lemon marmalade, beers and spicy cakes. A little rough and drying, actually, as oak chips would come out, but I'm sure water will put this straight. With water: bingo. Good malty and citrusy development. Finish: medium, malty. Stronger beers. Comments: cakes and beers and tonic waterz. We've seen much worse in Craigellachie.

SGP:451 - 84 points.

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

 

June 9, 2022


Whiskyfun

A Loch Lomond extravaganza in two parts, Part Two

We're back with more whiskies from Loch Lomond, always more or less at random...

Inchmurrin 10 yo 2008/2013 (54.1%, OB for Whisky Journey Singapore, 273 bottles)

Inchmurrin 10 yo 2008/2013 (54.1%, OB for Whisky Journey Singapore, 273 bottles) Three stars and a half
This one should be lighter. It's said that with Inchmurrin, the distillers have been trying to replicate their very own Littlemill. Colour: straw-white wine. Nose: marshmallows and custard, plus coconut balls and toffee apple. Extremely gentle and youthful. With water: emphasis on custard and sponge fingers. Perhaps a few drops of young pure chardonnay Champagne to match those sponge fingers. Mouth (neat): works very well. Kiwi juice, fresh cider, lemon drops, a little lime juice, and a pack of assorted fruit bonbons. A little Timut pepper in the aftertaste, as well as a little proper pepper. With water: gets a tad narrower and a little more on fresh oak and vanilla. Finish: medium, fresh oak rather dominant now, but it's still very loyal and honest. Comments: you would think this stems from some kind of Lomond still, really, ala Mosstowie. Pretty good drop.

SGP:641 - 84 points.

Inchmurrin 14 yo 2003/2017 (56.3%, OB for The WhiskyNerds, sherry, cask #17/169, 264 bottles)

Inchmurrin 14 yo 2003/2017 (56.3%, OB for The WhiskyNerds, sherry, cask #17/169, 264 bottles) Four stars and a half
Big sherry here, according to the colour. Colour: deep amber. Nose: used gun, spent engine oil, plasticine, leather polish and new Michelins (joking), then rather some kind of stewed fruit soup, walnut wine, Maggi and miso, then fresher dried fruits, mainly figs and dates… Rather super, as long as you enjoy garage-y smells as much I do. With water: walnut cake and black nougat! No one's against that, even more so since water erased those nasty whiffs of 'a gun that was just shot'. Mouth (neat): starts a little weird, with really a lot of plasticine this time, then we have green oranges, sour wines (extreme orange wine) and a wee feeling of acetic varnish. With water: wow, chocolate cake and Ethiopian mocha. Finish: ah, yes, stunning salted and peppered chocolate. Comments: it was a little scary at times as the sherry was quite a big fighter. It almost blew this drop off the road but in the end, everything worked out for the (very) best.
SGP:372 - 88 points.

Inchmoan 12 yo 2007/2019 (54.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #96, 289 bottles)

Inchmoan 12 yo 2007/2019 (54.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #96, 289 bottles) Four stars
Boy are we late this time again… Now Angus already tried it for little WF. Colour: straw. Nose: much more raw and simple peat here. Perhaps a tad more acidic than the Croftengeas? Having said that there's a lovely porridge and some very pretty sourdough bread. Curious… With water: vanilla yoghurt and custard bursting out! Great fun here. Mouth (neat): some very young Ardbeg. I mean it's more on very young Ardbeg than young Ledaigs, for example, and perhaps even than young Ardbegs. With water: it adores water. Limoncello (again!) and dried bits of papaya. In the back, huge ashes, almost a feeling of licking an ashtray. Finish: long, extremely ashy, ultra-tight. Comments: young raw slightly tarry and hugely ashy peat, and basta cosi. The problem is that we always enjoy this extreme style a lot.

SGP:357 - 87 points.

Yes, a Croftengea, you're right, good idea…

Croftengea 10 yo 2009/2020 (53.5%, Les Grands Alambics, Birds Series, 107 bottles)

Croftengea 10 yo 2009/2020 (53.5%, Les Grands Alambics, Birds Series, 107 bottles) Four stars and a half
Vorsicht, very small outturn. Colour: white wine. Nose: hold on, high-ester Jamaican rum? And new rubber boots, new LP, olives, gherkins and capers? What's this trick? Let's dig deeper… With water: new scuba diving suit, shall we say, plus cigar ashes. Mouth (neat): excellent, extremely olive-y, almondy, peaty and salty. Love it, but something may have happened – or the other way 'round. With water: some smoked butterscotch and salted triple-sec. No, no excuses. Finish: long, salty, almost fat. Comments: I'll just say 'wow', even if I'm deeply perplexed. Was this well integrally Croftengea?
SGP:467 - 89 points.

Croftengea 15 yo 2005/2020 (49.3%, Michiel Wigman, They Inspired)

Croftengea 15 yo 2005/2020 (49.3%, Michiel Wigman, They Inspired) Four stars and a half
Some kind of monarch on the label, I have to say I prefer Mandela or Sarah Vaughn. All right, she's Catherine the Great of Russia, whom did she inspire?... Ach… Colour: white wine. Nose: milder, on fresh dough, cigarette ashes, old boat, hessian, dunnage, candles… Mouth: we're reminded of the Grand Alambic, with this massive saltiness, even hints of parmesan cheese (Max at Whisky Antique is a pro), mezcal, olives, lime, and… Ardbeg. Think the best batch of 'Supernova'. Finish: long, salty, tight, lemony, with a very ashy aftertaste. Comments: not too sure about Catherine the Great, but I'm dead positive this wee Croftengea is just excellent.
SGP:467 - 88 points.

Croftengea 11 yo 2010/2021 (57.1%, Golden Cask, cask #CM274, 280 bottles)

Croftengea 11 yo 2010/2021 (57.1%, Golden Cask, cask #CM274, 280 bottles) Four stars
In theory… Colour: white wine. Nose: yes to smoked porridge, to lime juice, to almondy butterscotch and to pistachio nougat. Extraordinary notes of smoked olives too, something unusual that I just adore. I have this feeling… With water: wow. Some soft vanilla, popcorn and nougat are rounding all this off, adding some extra-dimension. Superb nose. Mouth (neat): exceptional combination with lemon, anchovy in brine, olives, lamp oil, ashes and pad Thai. Indeed, chilli chiming in, even if it's not quite some 'XXX-end-of-the world' kind of atomic-grade chilli. With water: rather drier, still salty, very ashy. Water made it simpler. Finish: long, full of ashes. A wee touch of menthol, perhaps, and the expected drops of olive brine. The chilli's back in the aftertaste. Comments: I would say this golden cask was of platinum quality, despite the marginally roughish finish.
SGP:367 - 87 points.

Good, perhaps an Inchmurrin…

Inchmurrin 1996/2020 (49.7%, Malts of Scotland for Whisky Hort and Flickenschild, cask #MoS20022, Marsala hogshead finish, 105 bottles)

Inchmurrin 1996/2020 (49.7%, Malts of Scotland for Whisky Hort and Flickenschild, cask #MoS20022, Marsala hogshead finish, 105 bottles) Two stars and a half
Another micro-bottling, but we have all faith in this excellent German bottler – and in Marsala. Colour: amber. Nose: the Italian side or Marsala seems to have taken over, with even notes of amaretto and maraschino, but I have to add that these almonds and cherries just work. Cherries are about almonds anyway (we'll explain later). Behind all that, various yeasty and spongey cakes. Mouth: caramel ice cream, fudge, also old musty barrel, mushrooms, some cheesy sourness and, well, just some old wine wood. Not totally sure anymore… Finish: rather long but rugous, bitter, even mustier, with two tons of green walnuts, including their husk. Comments: tough guy. I would suppose it was ultra-dry, fino-type Marsala. Liked the nose rather a lot but I had some trouble with the palate. Crazy finishings…

SGP:462 - 78 points.

Back to bourbon!

Inchmurrin 23 yo 1997/2020 (48.5%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon barrel, 115 bottles)

Inchmurrin 23 yo 1997/2020 (48.5%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon barrel, 115 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: awesome. Tiny herbs, wormwood, dill, touches of metal (pennies), angelica, the smoke of a cigarette, a curious feeling of artisanal cachaça, fresh almonds, damson spirit… It's really rather unusual, in a good way. Lovely indeed. Mouth: some fruit salad that would have involved a few fruits about to start to commence to rot, plus a salty tang, some chalkiness, plus a peatiness that sends you straight to Kildalton. Finish: rather long and really very salty. Either they've added seawater, or they've rolled the barrel in the ocean. Or do some molecules simply trigger your tastebuds and generate this huge saltiness? Comments: incredible, unusual drop. But should Inchmurrin really be this peaty?

SGP:365 - 88 points.

Speaking of peat…

Loch Lomond 'Single Grain Peated' (46%, OB, +/-2021)

Loch Lomond 'Single Grain Peated' (46%, OB, +/-2021) Four stars
Floral and smoky, does it say. Apparently, this is peated malted barley from a Coffey still. For crying out loud! Which reminds us that what defines 'grain whisky' is not the grain, it's the way of distilling it. I'd add that we've heard 'things' about this expression… Colour: white wine. Nose: huge chlorine at first, municipal swimming pool (cannot not think of Mr Bean), then more and more fat and oil, ham fat, paraffin, suet… It would then never stop getting easier and more lemony, coastal, and simply Ardbeggian. I'm serious. Mouth: were all the plates disengaged? In no way would I have said this was grain whisky, it is as fat as any malt, very salty once more, with a lot of iodine and… Ardbeg. Wondering if they couldn't replicate just  any new make… Finish: very impressive, long, more medicinal, with a wonderful tarry and salty tightness. Comments: incredible young grain whisky. I would have never imagined… This one would be a star at any blind tastings. Extremely impressed, once more.

SGP:467 - 87 points.

Croftengea 10 yo 2006/2016 (53.8%, Single Cask Collection, bourbon, cask 496, 301 bottles)

Croftengea 10 yo 2006/2016 (53.8%, Single Cask Collection, bourbon, cask 496, 301 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: a little hot, perhaps a notch feinty, with mashed potatoes, carrots and turnips, slightly metallic, with some clay, damp earth, brussels sprouts… I would say this baby may need to come to its senses, water should help. With water: not too sure, some inky porridge? Stewed parsnips and salsify? A lot of fun though. Mouth (neat): immediately excellent, with this feeling of ashy, smoky lemons that's certainly not a first. Some bitterer, vegetal notes too, very nice. With water: the rooty vegetables are back, which I find awesome. Great soup. Finish: long, with more smokiness. Comments: this one whisky is excellent for your "five a day". We used to joke with that twenty years ago, we may need those old jokes again.

SGP:365 - 85 points.

Inchmurrin 14 yo 2003/2017 'Order' (53.3%, OB for The WhiskyNerds, cask #17/168, 174 bottles)

Inchmurrin 14 yo 2003/2017 'Order' (53.3%, OB for The WhiskyNerds, cask #17/168, 174 bottles) Three stars and a half
Order? Do they realise that little Whiskyfun is a French website (even if the server's located in Switzerland)? Colour: white wine. Nose: a gentler Inchmurrin, more on custard, croissants (we told you we were French), crystallised quinces, dried papayas, a little ginger liqueur… Did we, indeed, find an Inchmurrin that's got the specs of Inchmurrin? With water: chalk and porridge, fresh baguette (S., please) and new book, with a few whiffs of mango. Mouth (neat): extremely sweet, candied, on toffee apples and lemon curd. Very much focused and, let's say it, limoncello-y. With water: no further developments. Perhaps lime. Finish: medium, a tad doughy and metallic. Comments: very good, just not totally extraordinary – as always, only a personal impression.

SGP:551 - 83 points.

Where are we? Do we say two more, before we call this a tasting session?

Croftengea 15 yo 2006/2021 (53.2%, The Whisky Trail, Silhouettes, hogshead, 342 bottles)

Croftengea 15 yo 2006/2021 (53.2%, The Whisky Trail, Silhouettes, hogshead, 342 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: this baby might be a little more Laphroaiggesque than Ardbeggian, which you could translate as 'more medicinal, less tarry'. Brine, seawater, cough medicine, some toasted cake and, wait, perhaps, tiny whiffs of snails baked in butter and garlic. Which, incidentally, is one of Angus's catnips. Angus's birthday is on… Oh forget. With water: plaster, ashes, new magazine, roots… Mouth (neat): right, just excellent, if a notch elementary. Plain rubber, salt, lemon, brine, grapefruits, samphires, oysters. Finally, oysters! With water: bed of roses, with more syrups, popcorn and salted peanut butter. Finish: long, with a few oak tannins flying around. No problems. Saltier aftertaste. Comments: impeccable. They've been benchmarking some distilleries, for sure, and did a great job.

SGP:466 - 87 points.

Our very last one, this, for and kind of from Ukraine!

Inchfad 'Gunpowder UA' (46%, Ukrainian Whisky Fans Association Kyiv, 435 bottles, 2022)

Inchfad 'Gunpowder UA' (46%, Ukrainian Whisky Fans Association Kyiv, 435 bottles, 2022) Five stars
We had tried a superb Blair Athol for Ukraine on April 28, this is the other bottling, named 'Gunpowder UA' instead of 'Resistance UA'. Indeed, this Inchfad was bottled to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Whisky for weapons, that's a strange and challenging feeling but we probably need to push ourselves beyond our natural boundaries here, some causes are simply just and bear no tepid wishy-washy feelings. So, yes, go Ukraine!!! Colour: whiter than white. Almost. Nose: you cannot make a whisky that's closer to the distillate than this. Rubber boots, pear and cherry juices, olive brine, lamp oil, tinned sardines and mackerels, pencil lead, mezcal and tincture of iodine. In truth, it is a wonderful spirit. Mouth: proof that very young distillate-led whiskies can be stunning. Let me first swear that I'm not pushing all this, but I'm not sure I've ever found a very young un-oak-doped malt whisky that was as brilliant as this. And, to give you an idea, as pear-and-mezcaly. I'm serious. Finish: exceptional olives, smoked bread dough, and lemon cake, plus… Caol Ila this time. Totally blazing, for a rather long time. Comments: I do certify that I've assessed this spirit regardless of the cause it is supporting. Signed: Serge, who's super-glad he's bought a bottle, which will be empty before the end of the month of June. Certainly a hit with oysters, smoked salmon and caviar.
SGP:567 - 90 points.

Good, sadly no Craiglodge but a fact: I've been underestimating Loch Lomond for too long. And stand fast, Ukraine!

By the way, we've still got a good bucnh of Loch Lomonds to try. Coming up soon...

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

 

June 8, 2022


Whiskyfun

A Loch Lomond extravaganza in two parts, Part One

Until around fifteen or twenty years ago, Loch Lomond's whisky was virtually unknown. Indeed you had that cheap blue official bottling, as well as the famous Old Rhosdhu 5 years old...

Loch Lomond

But other than that, Captain Haddock had done most of the marketing job while we all knew that his whisky had actually nothing to do with the actual Loch Lomond. Then Glen Katrine started to release a few bottlings, the indies did just the same, the variants started to poor in too (Inchmurrin, Inchfad, Croftengea, Inchmoan… well I'm sure I'm missing some of them)… And today there's just plenty, while the reputation has become equivalent to those of just any other good Scottish malts. Long story short, we'll taste many of them, as they've been, well, pouring in within the last months and years. Loch Lomond malts, Loch Lomond grains, Old Rhosdhu, Craiglodge, Inchfad, Inchmoan, Inchmurrin, Croftengea, you name them. And from pot stills, Lomond stills, Coffey stills, and any combinations thereof. Oh and we'll do that at random (more or less, some order always seems to appear at WF Towers, often in a rather Brownian way)…

 

 

Loch Lomond 10 yo 2010/2020 (57.7%, OB, Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #349, 241 bottles)

Loch Lomond 10 yo 2010/2020 (57.7%, OB, Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #349, 241 bottles) Four stars
This is well 'unpeated' Loch Lomond. Colour: white wine. Nose: you almost instantly realise that this baby's meant to be nosed with water, as we're rather around medicinal alcohol flavoured with oak chips and kirschwasser at first, before a few gentler touches from the 1st fill barrel would chime in. With water: how right was I? (oh come on…) Custard, coconut cream, guava juice, white chocolate… It's become just another malt, a very nice one. Mouth (neat): artisanal eau-de-vie. We didn't say moonshine! With water: once again water unlocks the fruitiness, gooseberries, oranges, apples, a little blanc-manger... Finish: medium, rather more citrusy, very nice, clean and fruity. Comments: always make sure you have a little bottle of good water on the side – and a pipette or a wee mocha spoon.

SGP:551 - 85 points.

Another young one…

Loch Lomond 11 yo 2007/2018 (55.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 306 bottles)

Loch Lomond 11 yo 2007/2018 (55.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 306 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: crikey, this is a peater! The label wouldn't say… Anyway, smoked lemons and kiwis, wakame, sorrel, working barbecue (with nothing on it yet)… Right, charcoal. With water: the traditional mud, chalk and raw wool. The countryside up there… Mouth (neat): good peat, fermentary, lemony, with rather lovely sour notes, lemony porridge, lemon fudge and salted caramel… Nice clean texture. With water: I had thought it would get thinner, on the contrary. Smoked almonds and punchy fino. Finish: rather long, really super-good. This one easily talks to the Islays of similar ages, on an equal footing. Comments: as I just said. I also believe Cadenhead are often a little restrained with the oak, which is goo in my book.

SGP:466 - 87 points.

Loch Lomond 13 yo 2005 (57.5%, Claxton's, hogshead, cask #1962-413, 286 bottles, +/-2019)

Loch Lomond 13 yo 2005 (57.5%, Claxton's, hogshead, cask #1962-413, 286 bottles, +/-2019) Four stars
Colour: pale straw. Nose: blimey, and voilà, another peater. In the style of the Cadenhead (Croftengea?), just a little fatter, with touches of fresh butter and orange cake, perhaps madeleines. With water: a touch acetic but otherwise indeed, a fatter version of the Cadenhead. Mouth (neat): between a Moine and an Ardbeg, that is to say bigly peaty. Oranges and lemons in the background. With water: After all the Irish sea isn't that far away, is it? Finish: long, ashy, very peaty. Green apples in the aftertaste. Comments: we've always heard stories about distillers trying to make some Islay on the mainland (and now the continents). Well LL got very close. Having said that the Cadenhead was having a higher drinkability index.

SGP:467 - 86 points.

Loch Lomond 21 yo 1995/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #DL12096, 322 bottles)

Loch Lomond 21 yo 1995/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #DL12096, 322 bottles) Two stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: wait, hold on, is this malt whisky? It's very soft, rounded, vanilla-ed, on much cake-iness and acacia honey, a pack of finger biscuits, a light Champagne… With water: candyfloss and a packet of vanilla sugar. Like, Dr. Oetker's. Mouth (neat): isn't this grain? Bonbons, coconut, marshmallows, a little varnish, sweet oak… With water: light, rounded and thin. Not quite my cup of… malt. Finish: short, on hay and fruit drops. Drops of liquorice tea in the aftertaste. Comments: this is already becoming complicated, I was hoping we would taste proper Loch Lomonds and we've already got one LL, two peaters and one grain under our belt, all labelled 'Loch Lomond'.

SGP: 530- 78 points.

Back to Cadenhead's…

Loch Lomond 21 yo 1996/2018 (51.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 450 bottles)

Loch Lomond 21 yo 1996/2018 (51.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 450 bottles) Three stars and a half
From two BB hoggies, but peat or no peat? Well Cadenhead could well have blended a peater with a regular LL… (no?) Colour: straw. Nose: no peat that I can detect this time, rather cakes aplenty and orchard fruits in abundance, apples, plums, pears, yellow peaches… Some fresh almonds too (which is always lovable). With water: hang on, perhaps a little smoke? A little brine for sure. Mouth (neat): good fun, first nougat and milk chocolate, then sardines and bits of pickled anchovies. I told you, good fun, but we need to know about the former content of these casks. Each of them. With water: even more brine! Really bizarre, and certainly not unpleasant. One of the lightly peated variants after all, perhaps? Finish: rather long, salty. Comments: something a little uncertain in this one, after all… But it's extremely good at times.

SGP:452 - 84 points.

Let's dig deeper…

Loch Lomond 21 yo 1997/2018 (52.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon barrel, 378 bottles)

Loch Lomond 21 yo 1997/2018 (52.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon barrel, 378 bottles) Four stars
Barrels instead of hogsheads, this time. Colour: light gold. Nose: some wood smoke, some chalk, a lot of weissbeer, then plenty of fruits, citrus, popcorn… Yet another variant that wouldn't tell you its name? With water: a very bizarre feeling of craft whisky. Was some re-racking in fresh oak done here? Mouth (neat): a tiny wee bit thin but with awesome bourbon-led flavours. It's actually very close to the 1996, just less salty. With water: just very good. Linden tea, pistachio nougat (another sin), more sweeter weissbeer… Finish: medium, very pleasant. Oakier signature (dust, chips). Comments: a curious feeling of a whisky being both lighter and deeper. Does that make any sense? Too bad the oak was a little loud in the finish. PS: very good drop.

SGP:551 - 85 points.

Good, I think we found out that any variants could be labelled as 'Loch Lomond' (same at Springbank, Bunnahabhain, or there, Tobermory by the way), and that consequently, we could just go on with any name… Be my guest!

Croftengea 10 yo 2006/2016 (46%, Cooper's Choice, refill butt, cask #5024, 725 bottles)

Croftengea 10 yo 2006/2016 (46%, Cooper's Choice, refill butt, cask #5024, 725 bottles) Four stars
Always a joy to try some whiskies by The Cooper's Choice or parent firm Vintage Malt Whisky Company. Ooh those Lagavulins… ;-). Colour: almost as white as some white tequila. Nose: brand new garden hose, paraffin, new Nikes, then bitter almonds, with a good few drops of lapsang souchong. Much, much nicer than it sounds, but the sherry's almost unnoticeable, or was it a fino butt? Mouth: excellent. Salty almonds and citrons, seaweed, ashes, lime and pickled fruits. Wonderful waxy structure. Finish: medium, very salty. Seaweed and seashells. Comments: drink with oysters! Like, twenty-four of them! Fan of this very salty young baby.
SGP:366 - 87 points.

Let's try an even younger Croftengea (probably just fuel, I'm sure…)

Croftengea 7 yo 2010/2017 (57%, Golden Cask, 325 bottles)

Croftengea 7 yo 2010/2017 (57%, Golden Cask, 325 bottles) Four stars
This one by the House oof Macduff should almost classify as new make. And 100° proof, at that. Colour: as white as the whitest white tequilas. No, really. Nose: it's cool to find fermentary notes that would tend to go away with aging, such as cheeses, fresh breads, gym socks and baby puke (a tiny toddler, a tiny drop). All that in infinitesimal quantities, we're totally fine here. Cherry juice too. With water: linoleum and paraffin. Mouth (neat): eau-de-vie, mainly from stone fruits (apricot, apricotine) and williams pear. Eau-de-vie de barley, just smoked and salted. With water: very good, this is all salted and smoked williams pear spirit, plus almonds. I promise I'll try to make that one day – will report back. Finish: long, very kirschy. Frankly, it's kirschwasser, aged in stoneware. Comments: you're talking to Mother Nature when you drink this.

SGP:455 - 85 points.

Please an older Croftengea, perhaps for Asia…

Croftengea 14 yo 2007/2021 (54.9%, Oxhead Whisky, refill hogshead, cask #52, 259 bottles)

Croftengea 14 yo 2007/2021 (54.9%, Oxhead Whisky, refill hogshead, cask #52, 259 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: this one's a little more acetic and acidic at first, perhaps, certainly more on lemon juice, but it would then rush towards caramel and fudegdom, with some butterscotch and some utterly wonderful notes of mirabelle jam. Mirabelle jam big time! With water: yes, ripe mirabelles, quinces, all that. Mouth (neat): ooh this one's good, it seems that someone smart has decided to age mirabelle eau-de-vie in some ex-amontillado wood (nothing to do with reality, of course). With water: whoops, careful with water, some molecules playing dirty tricks on you. Like, pulling off old cardboard. As long as you add only two drops, you'll go on with nice fruity notes. Finish: medium, excellent, oh just don't add any waterz. Comments: water works in mysterious ways. Otherwise, superb Croftengea, not a peat monster by the way..
SGP:554 - 86 points.

Time to have a last one but we'll go on in the coming days, maybe even tomorrow…

Croftengea 15 yo 2006/2021 (52.6%, The Whisky Exchange Single Casks, hogshead, cask #341, 280 bottles)

Croftengea 15 yo 2006/2021 (52.6%, The Whisky Exchange Single Casks, hogshead, cask #341, 280 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold-plated (S., what the… ?) Seriously, that would be light gold. Nose: this one's gone towards camphor, eucalyptus and shoe polish, which is another territory already. With water: adios, back on breads and beers. Mouth (neat): massive varnish and acetone, even glue and bacon. Are we sure?... A whacky sherry hogshead? With water: good fun with almonds, pecans, peanuts and sesame. A maverick of a whisky, for sure. Finish: long, with Croftengea's signature saltiness. Comments: an uncontrollable dram, I'm sure it'll be totally different next time we'll try it. A good dozen different whiskies in a single bottle, how cool is that?

SGP:466 - 86 points (for the record).

I agree ten is bit cheap, let's have one for the road…

Croftengea 13 yo 2007/2020 (58.2%, Dramful!, bourbon hogshead, cask #255, 76 bottle)

Croftengea 13 yo 2007/2020 (58.2%, Dramful!, bourbon hogshead, cask #255, 76 bottle) Four stars
Another micro-bottling for, I suppose, huge feelings and sensations. Colour: very white white wine. In truth, no white wine's ever been as white as this. Nose: this one's integrally on smoked almonds, proper almonds, old almonds, fresh almonds, kirschwasser and marzipan. As long as water's not been added. With water: there, fresh breads, doughs, oats, then grist and a little carbon dust. A touch of yoghurt in the background. Mouth (neat): sublime fresh new-makey earthy and almondy make. No prisoners, but thirteen-years-old already, really? With water: rather perfect, fermentary, almondy, doughy, salty, smoky…  Finish: very long, with petroly flavours on top of the bready ones. Tar in the aftertaste – ah, tar, finally! Comments: only the body is not 'that' big, or it would crush all, and I mean all Islayers fair and square.
SGP:467 - 87 points.

Inchmurrin 28 yo 1993/2022 (50.7%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 178 bottles)

Inchmurrin 28 yo 1993/2022 (50.7%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 178 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: this one's really all on teas, including smoked ones. I would believe that's the subtlest possible influence of oak. Mint tea, linden, lemon grass, drops of thyme tea, then rather dried tropical fruits (papayas and guavas are rather obvious), then more meaty tones, perhaps lamb with English mint sauce (I know) plus some liquorice and aniseed. With water: old books, parchments, earth, dried mint leaves… Very singular indeed. Mouth (neat): a very curious (yet excellent) arrival on sage, tarragon and some lemony peatiness, then vegetal earth, blond tobacco, hay and green pepper. Notes of pinewood. With water: a saltiness coming through – not the first time- and a drop of fish oil. Which makes it pretty coastal indeed, in a singular way. Also clams or cockles stewed in white wine, butter and garlic? Finish: medium, with ideas of old embrocations, camphor, fir honey… Comments: great fun with the cask and a rather brilliant, unusual drop. Hard to classify though.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

See you next time.

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

 

June 6, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Trios, today Glenlivet

As you would imagine, there's plenty of Glenlivet at Château WF, as it is a major name. So let's pick a trio carefully. Right, randomly, like a savage…

(Magazine ad, 1974. We had thought it would be 'barley', or 'still', or 'yeast', or 'time', or even 'oak'...)

Glenlivet

 

 

Glenlivet 14 yo (54.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults Exclusive, #2.123, 'Fragrant, fruity and frolicsome', 187 bottles, 2021)

Glenlivet 14 yo (54.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, The Vaults Exclusive, #2.123, 'Fragrant, fruity and frolicsome', 187 bottles, 2021) Four stars
A little bird told me that they're now using a Fugaku supercomputer to find their names. Colour: straw. Nose: new-sawn plywood and sauna oils, then earl grey and not-too-ripe bananas, plus a bag of all-colour jelly babies. With water: simply a perfect sweet maltiness. Mouth (neat): superbly fruity arrival, we're at the fair, we're having marshmallows, candyfloss, toffee apple and boiled sweets while sipping a good glass of sweet cider. Very oily mouthfeel. With water: excellently malty and bready. Finish: medium, all on sweet barley, with more citrus in the aftertaste. Comments: this wee 'livet was maybe not utterly complex, but it was totally natural and right up my alley. We should have bought bottle; this will age well in a good cellar.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Perhaps an official private bottling…

Glenlivet 16 yo 2004/2020 (54.7%, OB for Or Sileis Taiwan, First fill sherry butt, cask #16611, 570 bottles)

Glenlivet 16 yo 2004/2020 (54.7%, OB for Or Sileis Taiwan, First fill sherry butt, cask #16611, 570 bottles) Four stars
I think we'll never support Taiwan enough. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: I'm not sure we've ever been this close to old Pu-her tea, I'm even finding whiffs of garden bonfire (grass, branches and leaves), various smokes (including marijuana indeed), old walnut wine, cognac, roasted pecans… With water: great trio, varnish, balsamic vinegar and calvados/applejack. Plus walnut wine, we were about to add 'of course'. Mouth (neat): huge and perhaps a tad unbalanced, with rather a lot of rubber and a little soap. Probably nothing that a few drops of proper water (not too soft and not too hard) won't fix immediately… With water: and voilà, roasted nuts aplenty, pecan pie, liquorice, meaty bouillons, gravy, burger, soy sauce, Bovril/VIandox… Those sorts of things, plus dark tobacco and a lot of raw, like 90% cocoa chocolate. A wee whisky that'll always want to have the last say. Finish: very long, rather on armagnac, plus chocolate, plus coffee, plus soy sauce, plus balsamic vinegar, plus walnut wine. A little tiring, perhaps? I'm joking. Comments: great but a little monstrous and undisciplined. Come on!

SGP:362 - 87 points.

Some bourbon please…

Glenlivet 25 yo 1995/2020 (55.3%, OB for Jack Tar, China, 2nd fill American oak barrel, cask #9480, 150 bottles)

Glenlivet 25 yo 1995/2020 (55.3%, OB for Jack Tar, Selected by LMDW fo China, 2nd fill American oak barrel, cask #9480, 150 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: barley, vanilla, hay, overripe apples and danishes, this is ultra-classic. I'm dead sure a few drops of water will unlock a few more aromas. With water: indeed, tiny herbs, chamomile and lemongrass, honeysuckle, acacia flowers, some fudge, nougat… Mouth (neat): fresh, on litres of cider and indeed some grapefruit liqueur. Wonderful rounded, almost fat tartness, if you see what I mean. Lemon tarte with whipped cream and liquid caramel, another sin. And lemon-flavoured turon. With water: tenser and tighter, with some pepper and bitters. I'm not sure I should mention Campari. Finish: very long, peppery, spicier, moving towards more bitters and dry herbal cordials. That's a nice, serious ending! The aftertaste is a little drying, tea-ish, tannic. Comments: almost to 90, only the aftertaste was a tad tougher. Great cask, nevertheless.

SGP:561 - 89 points.

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

 

June 5, 2022


Whiskyfun

Supersonic Cognacs, or another verticale, Part Deux

The first part of this session, last Sunday, had been totally glorious, with all older ones marked 90+. We had stopped the madness in 1970, time to tackle older vintages. In theory, very old ones might have become 'a little less great' in my book, unless they had been transferred to dames-jeannes/demijohns before any excessive oak or even oxidation would have done any harm to them. Now, we're only talking organoleptics here, not poetry, philosophy or even History (Serge! You Philistine!) So after 1970 there's … (picture, magazine ad for Camus, 'in the manner of Picasso', 1946)

Camus

 

 

Prunier 53 yo 1967/2021 (51.9%, WineForYou for The Purist, Grande Champagne, 54 bottles)

Prunier 53 yo 1967/2021 (51.9%, WineForYou for The Purist, Grande Champagne, 54 bottles) Four stars and a half
Fantastic strength for such an old cognac. We've already stumbled upon quite a few glories in this Belgian series. Colour: full gold. Nose: starts a little empyreumatic, with notes of warm pinewood (or say a forest in coastal Spain) as well as touches of mushrooms, goes on with a little sugarcane juice, really, and marmalade, with even a drop of amontillado. And perhaps a little PX? With water: gets straighter, that is to say more on an old cognac, with raisins, preserved peaches and apricots, prunes and honey. Mouth (neat): lovely bitterness, with a lot of liquorice wood, rosehip tea, strong black tea, tobacco… Bits of tobacco coming out of your untipped Gauloise. I'm sure the distillers used to smoke that back in 1967, while distilling… Other times for sure but I do also remember some Scottish Distillery (no, no name) where you would spot rather many cigarette butts on the floor of the stillhouse, only two or three decades ago. With water: this time it remains rather bitter, again in a great way, piney, liquoricy, with indeed all the bitterness that's to be found in an old amontillado, which would include old walnuts. Almost brandy de Jerez, without all the added sweetness. Finish: very long, still bitter and tobacco-y. Comments: this one's a little more challenging, perhaps, certainly tighter and more rustic, but I'm fond of this style too, you just won't down a whole bottle on the spot.

SGP:371 - 89 points.

Vallein Tercinier 60 yo 'Rencontre 62' (42.6%, Jack Tar & Lux Coin, single dame jeanne, 100 bottles, 2022)

Vallein Tercinier 60 yo 'Rencontre 62' (42.6%, OB selected for Jack Tar & Lux Coin, single dame jeanne, 100 bottles, 2022) Five stars
It is said that the final owners did decide to add a few centilitres of cognac 1762 to this demijohn, as they had sourced a bottle of Gautier from that vintage quite some years earlier. I know, crazy... Colour: light amber. Nose: house style! Tropical jams, ripe mangos, manuka honey, very ripe williams pears, bergamots, blueberries, then terrifyingly huge notes of mirabelle jam, plus a tiny slice of cep (mushroom). Incredible nose, with an incredible freshness. Mouth: it was impossible that the palate would be as fresh, but it is still wonderfully fruity at first, tropical indeed, honeyed, only then more on oak spices, tobacco, cloves, cinnamon, black tea… Since this was a demijohn, I would be interested in learning when this baby was transferred from oak to glass. Finish: long, with menthol and camphor coming out, and tangerines dancing in the aftertaste, to the sound of Elvis Presley (1962)... And Josef Haydn! (1762). Comments: incredible experience and as almost always at Vallein Tercinier, what a nose!

SGP:651 - 91 points.

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 57' (41.7%, Swell de Spirits, Field Trip #1, Grande Champagne, 70 bottles)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 57' (41.7%, Swell de Spirits, Field Trip #1, Grande Champagne, 70 bottles) Five stars
It is to be remembered that people in Cognac would often disgorge casks only partially, and so release several subsequent smaller bottlings from the same barrel, whenever there's demand. A wonderful salamander on this label, let's remember that the salamander was the emblem of king of France François 1er (1494-1547). Colour: deep gold. Nose: this time things are kicked off with some not-too-ripe bananas (which is just as well) and beeswax. We would then find kumquats and bergamots (especially bergamot sweets from Nancy, France) as well as honey drops and quince paste and jelly. Lovely nose, rather tight and focused, with something that would remind me of old Balvenie. Really! Mouth: lovely mentholy and tobacco-y oak, walking on its toes. That would rather bring many herbal teas and soft spices, mint tea indeed, thyme and linden, cinnamon rolls with raisins (just a sin), once again a wee feeling of old amontillado (lovely oxidation), and just more herbal teas. Forgot to mention liquorice, but it's true that there's almost always a little liquorice in these old cognacs. Finish: medium, with the tobacco being back in the front. Comments: this rather wonderful moment when fruits and wood are tied.
SGP:461 - 90 points.

Jean Fillioux 1955+1960/2022 (45.5%, Wu Dram Clan & Kirsch Import, Grande Champagne, 354 bottles)

Jean Fillioux 1955+1960/2022 (45.5%, Wu Dram Clan & Kirsch Import, Grande Champagne, 354 bottles) Five stars
Jean Fillioux own the 24-ha Domaine and Château de La Pouyade, but I'm not totally sure they only mature and bottle their own production. That's my fault, it would be easy to just ask (which would be another stroke of genius, S.!) Colour: deep gold. Nose: some are just evident. Mirabelle pie, acacia honey, dandelions, mango jam, golden sultanas, quinces, drop of white Bourgogne, then tiny drops of herbal liqueurs, chartreuse et all, beeswax… Indeed, there's something totally obvious to this one, even the most diligent taster won't have to rack his/her brain. Awesomely easy. Mouth: no fruit vs. oak fighting at all this time, once again this is easy, hassle-free, obvious, with a perfect three-step development, first teas, then spices, then fruits, especially dried ones, and walnuts. It might also be a tad sweeter than others, with punchy honeys, such as chestnut. Finish: this is where herbs would chime in, parsley, mint, pine needles… Jams and fruitcakes in the aftertaste. That delicacy that we call 'florentins' (chocolate topped with bits of candied fruits). Comments: another glorious old cognac. What was particularly spectacular is that it started a tiny wee tad woody on the palate and then never stopped becoming fruitier, whilst the opposite's usually happening with very old spirits. I mean, in most cases.

SGP:551 - 91 points.

Mauxion 'Lot 56' (45%, OB, Petite Champagne, Belgian import, +/-2022)

Mauxion 'Lot 56' (45%, OB, Petite Champagne, Belgian import, +/-2022) Five stars
Wood-fired distillation and a very old family house that's into cognac since 1743. They're located in Houlette in the Charente, not very far from the city of Cognac. Colour: gold. Nose: an even easier one, starting with raisin rolls and custard, getting then fractally complex, with myriads of various cakey and yellow-fruit aromas, Turkish delights, rose petals, Monbazillac, dried litchis and jujubes… It is all extremely soft and delicate; we would have said 'feminine' in the old days. The usual preserved peaches and apricots chiming in after a minute or two. Mouth: fruity, almost tart, on citrus jams and syrups. That's coming unexpected given that this was harvested almost 70 years ago. I remember an old Grand-Marnier 'Cuvée du Centenaire' now… Tangerines, oriental pastries, orange blossom water, elderberry eau-de-vie… Another one that's absolutely glorious, and even more so when mint and liquorice are kicking in with tastefulness and restraint. Finish: medium, incredibly fresh. Mangos, bananas and williams pears. A stunning mossy earthiness in the aftertaste, yet another dimension (and 1 more point, there). Comments: I'm remembering an old Lochside 1966 at this point. Several, in truth.

SGP:641 - 92 points.

Fins Bois 1954 'Lot N°5 et 14' (43.3%, Jean Grosperrin, 872 litres) Five stars
Two casks blended together, but not too sure when this was bottled, what the label tells us is that the house Grosperrin could acquire those two casks in 1999. Colour: gold. Nose: probably the freshest, and also the grassiest of them all. Gooseberries, apple peel, white currants, chamomile, even grapefruits, a faint vinosity (chardonnay), rubbed herbs (lovage, parsley, coriander), chalk… There's even a smoky touch, mind you, which would further ring my Highland-Park bell. Well, this one too is just wonderful. Mouth: stunning fruity, citrusy tightness. Gooseberries and grapefruits, pretty uncommon in such an old cognac I would say. It would then become a little grapey, in a wonderful way, nervous, grassy peely, extremely fresh, while a wonderful liquorice would also appear this time again. It's even becoming a tad sour, which is just as wonderful. A limey '54 cognac? Finish: wonderfully tight, lemony, with no thickness and, what's more, almost no obvious oak. Comments: another one that's rather extraordinary. I'm not sure we could have found its old age. Mind you, 1954, that was 67 years ago. High-class fins bois for sure.

SGP:551 - 91 points.

Time to try some older bottles…

Camus 'Hors d'Âge Réserve Extra-Vieille' (OB, La Grande Marque, Japan, 1960s)

Camus 'Hors d'Âge Réserve Extra-Vieille' (OB, Japan, 1960s) Five stars
According to a very knowledgeable source, this is a vintage 1914, kept in wood for 45 years, then transferred to demijohns, that's then been bottled in two steps, in the 1960s and in the 1970s, while this would be the 1960s edition (or it would have displayed the ABV anyway, no?) It is a Japanese bottling that's just reached back France via Australia (don't tell our dear Green party 'Les Verts', thanks). Colour: deep gold. Nose: lovely old style, much less on fruits, much more on meats and oils. Some OBE should have occurred too. Marrow, chicken soup, mocha, engine oil, roasted pecans, smoked ham, raw chocolate, old cigars, pinewood smoke, old toolbox, old coins, even old banknotes… This is another world and another time, a 'blast from the past', as they say. It it's well a 1914, it was harvested more or less two months after the outbreak of World War I (July 28, 1914). Very moving… Mouth: this is incredibly fresh, and sweeter than the 'new old' ones. Granted, they may have sauced it up a wee bit back in the days, but this avalanche of raisins and syrups is just impressive. Arrack, mead, caramel sauce, fig jam, very old Sauternes, prune juice, praline and nougat, very old Port… Finish: not even shortish, with the sweet bouillons and meads back in full form. Some meaty greasiness and some gentian in the aftertaste. Gentian, at that! Comments: absolutely great and organoleptically superb – I mean, without taking any stories or data into account; well, as little as we could. Many thanks Deni.

SGP:641 - 93 points.

That's seven. Didn't we say 'eight'? No, we did not, but indeed we've had eight of them last time…

Chivas Brothers 60 yo 'Old Liqueur Cognac' (24.7 u.p., OB, 1940s)

Chivas Brothers 60 yo 'Old Liqueur Cognac' (24.7 u.p., OB, 1940s) Four stars
Most certainly pre-sale to Seagram (1949). 24.7 under proof translates into 75.3 UK proof, which is 43% A.B.V. The company Chivas Brothers was founded in Aberdeen in 1858, after having been named Stewart & Chivas from 1841 on. As far as I know, there had been a grocery store before, settled in 1801 indeed (as widely advertised, including on this old cognac) but the first Chivas, James, only joined in 1838, while John Chivas joined his bother in 1857 to later form the new company Chivas Brothers. This Cognac could be even a little older, as far as vintages go, than the very first Chivas Regal, which was a 25 years old launched in 1909. It was surely from 19th century harvests and possibly from pre-phylloxeric vines. The label is bearing the Scottish royal coat of arms and the Stuart kings' motto, 'Nemo Me Impune Lacessit' (No one provokes me with impunity) as well as the mention 'by appointment to his majesty the king'. All that on a French product, phew, all right, let's try this old wonder…

Colour: amber. Nose: but no! Why is it this much alive? We've mentioned brandy de Jerez before and indeed, some aspects are reminiscent of brandy de Jerez, especially these notes of coffee and chocolate liqueurs, but there's also some amazing earthy, mushroomy, meady notes, absolutely terrific. It is almost like some extremely old white wine that would have been fortified at some point to keep it fresh for posterity (ideas ideas, no?) Mouth: what's this sorcery? Granted, the Camus was a tad fresher and cleaner, and this one is a notch syrupy (it may have been a little cloying when it was bottled, back in the 1940s) but it's still firing on all six cylinders. Triple-sec, raisins, PX, yellow chartreuse, more sweet mead…. Good, it really is a little 'liqueury' on the palate, but it's still impressively full of stamina. Finish: long, sweet, liqueury. This time we're totally on brandy de Jerez. Comments: very impressive indeed, even if you do feel that a part as done 'in the lab'. I would have loved to let it be analysed by a friendly lab, but that would be a.) stupid, and b.) we drank it all anyway.
SGP:730 - 87 points.

(Thank you Deni, thank you Ivo, thank you Nicolas, thanks everyone)

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

 

June 4, 2022


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
ALL the Springbank Wood Expressions
Tasting all of these feels like quite the daunting task, I've tried most of them in the past already and to my mind this is a series which can be a little bit inconsistent. Having said that, we shouldn't underestimate how important and influential this series has been for whisky lovers. Released between that rather crucial decade from 2002 - 2013 when so many new people were discovering malt whisky, how many found their gateway to more serious enthusiasm via this very series? Especially, I suspect, people within the UK.

 

So, we'll do the whole lot of them in order of release. Starting with…

 

 

 

 

 

Springbank 12 yo 1989/2002 (54.6%, OB 'Wood Expressions', rum finish, 5700 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo 1989/2002 (54.6%, OB 'Wood Expressions', rum finish, 5700 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: funny how these batches start to come across as pretty 'old fashioned' these days; it's certainly from the 'less likely' era of production at Springbank with all these impressions of crushed greenery, swimming pool water, clay, chalk and oily toolbox rags. What's good though is that it still feels rather 'Springbank' and not totally swamped by overt rum. With water: peppery and still very much on clay and mineral oils, but I can't help but find it overall a tad flat. Mouth: a bit funny really, on sheep wools, clays, ointments, old metal coins, metal polish and slightly sooty and cardboardy qualities. It's ok, but I'm not too sure… with water: a feeling of plainness now almost, with these notes of wet grains, vegetable soup, some aniseed, some more clay, perhaps a glimmer of medicine. Finish: medium, quite peppery, a tad salty and more clay and chalk. Comments: Not sure what to say, these weren't the greatest vintages to be honest. There's not much wrong with it, I just find it rather flat and a little empty.
SGP: 352 - 79 points.

 

 

Longrow 13 yo 1989/2002 (53.2%, OB 'Wood Expressions' sherry, 2350 bottles)

Longrow 13 yo 1989/2002 (53.2%, OB 'Wood Expressions' sherry, 2350 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: quite medicinal, but more a lighter shade of Longrow I would say. The peat doesn't immediately leap out at you as in later vintages. This is more on seawater, dry roast peanuts, bandages and a few hints of mechanical oils and smoked lemons. With water: chamomile tea, bonfire embers and miso. A rather umami profile emerges. Mouth: softer peat smoke and a feeling of burnt toast, graphite oil and smoky bacon crisps. Some unusual things, and once again with this rather industrial side too. Some camphor and black pepper come with a little time. The sherry is there, but rather subdued, was this refill sherry? With water: better now I think, more focussed on tarry rope, camphor, soft peppery peat smoke and some rather sharp salinity. Finish: good length, a tad vegetal and rustic in places, but still with nice peppery and smoky bacon qualities showing. Comments: a nice wee drop, but once again, as with Springbank, I feel they really improved production a few years later.
SGP: 464 - 83 points.

 

 

Springbank 13 yo 1989/2003 (54.2%, OB 'Wood Expressions', port pipes, 3120 bottles)

Springbank 13 yo 1989/2003 (54.2%, OB 'Wood Expressions', port pipes, 3120 bottles)
Colour: rose-amber. Nose: the port wood definitely has a louder voice here than the rum did in the previous Springbank. Which I feel actually works in this instance so far, it's rather sticky with dark fruits, plum sauce, sultanas, Madeira cake and things like red berry fruits and sweet children's cough medicines. With water: wild strawberries, baked bananas, cherry lip gloss and a little eucalyptus - very lovely actually. Mouth: a little too jammy on arrival for me, moves more into the territory of wine finishes than port in some respects with these notes of shiraz, strawberry jam and balsamic onion. Juicy but a bit flabby in texture and not quite sure of itself. With water: much better! Loses this overtly jammy side and becomes a bit more balanced displays this nice mix of red fruits, sultanas, bramble leaf and nettle tea. One stray bandage reminds us there was once some peat involved here. Finish: medium and rather sweet, on red fruit teas, jams, fruit cordials and liquorice. Comments: quite a ride. The nose was overall pretty excellent, but an imbalanced wobble on the neat palate was saved by water. I was teetering all over the place with a score, but the fun side of this one has won me over in the end…
SGP: 552 - 85 points.

 

 

Springbank 12 yo 1990/2003 (52.4%, OB 'Wood Expressions', sherry butts, 1799 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo 1990/2003 (52.4%, OB 'Wood Expressions', sherry butts, 1799 bottles)
Colour: pale amber. Nose: a rather 'Springbank' style of sherry, with all this gun metal, flints, game meats, animal furs and hints of treacle, natural tar and wood embers. There's also a touch of herbal cough mix and smoked paprika. I'm quite a fan, thus far. With water: salted liquorice, fennel seed, cough medicines and wormwood. A nice herbal / medical profile emerging. Mouth: all on roasted mixed nuts, milk chocolate, paprika, chilli oil, coal dust and bandages. A definite 'mid era' profile of Springbank, but it kind of works with this rather gamey sherry style - it's certainly charismatic. With water: goes more towards the earthier aspects. Things like aged pinot noir, BBQ sauce, dry roast peanuts and aged orange peels. Finish: good length and pretty earthy, but also quite a few dark ales, rye bread and umami vibes such as miso and marmite. Comments: 'robust' you might say. Of this era of production, I would say this is one of the better/more interesting examples. At times it was maybe on the cusp of being a little too weird or grubby, but it always pulled back from the edge.
SGP: 462 - 86 points.

 

 

Springbank 12 yo 1991/2004 (58.5%, OB 'Wood Expressions', bourbon hogsheads & barrels, 5986 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo 1991/2004 (58.5%, OB 'Wood Expressions', bourbon hogsheads & barrels, 5986 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: a totally different story! All on hay, limestone, wet rocks, chalk and lemon barley water. Also very slight touches of soot, bandages, seawater and heather flowers. Clean, crisp and refreshing. With water: more on dusty malt bins, grist, mash water and oatcakes. It has that 'working distillery' vibe about it. Mouth: rather chiselled and focussed on minerals, pebbles, white flowers, chalk and hints of shoe polish, watercress and a little mustard powder. Very good, but quite a world apart from the current 10yo for example. With water: rounder, fatter and waxier now. On lemon barley water, dry and delicate peat smoke, hessian and coal dust. Still also rather focussed on raw ingredients and slightly yeasty aspects. Finish: medium, dry, rather hot and peppery, and still on breads, beers, ink, mash water and yeast. Comments: of its time, but a very good dram in its own right, you just need to like them rather raw and rugged!
SGP: 362 - 85 points.

 

 

Springbank 14 yo 1989/2004 (52.8%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 12 years in refill sherry + 2 years in fresh port pipes, 7200 bottles)

Springbank 14 yo 1989/2004 (52.8%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 12 years in refill sherry + 2 years in fresh port pipes, 7200 bottles)
Colour: light amber. Nose: slightly sharp and tangy with fruit acids, plum wine and hints of cellar must and hessian. Also touches of metal polish and lamp oil with some dried dark fruits. So far the sherry and port combination works pretty well I would say. With water: more on tobaccos and damp cellar earth with some sweeter dark fruity notes such as damson preserve and fig. Mouth: same feeling of tanginess, you could be munching on a Tangfastic. There's also some cherry cough medicine, red currants, pink grapefruit and Tizer! These kinds of sharp and popping fruity notes mixed with darker notes of hessian, bitter chocolate and earth which actually anchor the whole thing rather well. With water: a little more about the Springbank now, with some lightly peppery peat smoke and hints of bonfire embers, anthracite and a dry waxiness. Finish: good length, rather peppery, earthy, sooty and going towards hessian rags, toolbox oils and metal polish. A solitary sultana bobbing about in the aftertaste. Comments: better than expected I would say. The sherry and port seemed to have knocked each other into some kind of cohesive and well-balanced shape, while the distillery character emerges blinking into the sun with a little water. Very good.
SGP: 563 - 87 points.

 

 

Longrow 10 yo 1995/2005 (55.6%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 8 years in refill wood + 2 years in fresh Tokaji, 7440 bottles)

Longrow 10 yo 1995/2005 (55.6%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 8 years in refill wood + 2 years in fresh Tokaji, 7440 bottles)
I remember this one causing some ripples of conversation upon release at the time. A divisive dram that seemed to create adulation and repulsion in equal measure. Although, it has been so long since I tried it, I can't actually remember what I think of it anymore. Let's find out… Colour: amber. Nose: beefy! Literally, lots of beef stock, Bovril, bitter dark chocolate powder, suet, venison sausages, gravy and in time this rather tarry, grubby peat smoke emerging too. I have to say, it's rather a lot of fun, but I can see why it would divide the crowd! In time it gets more towards these mulchy, mushroomy and earthy qualities. With water: very leafy, earthy, chocolatey and full of damp pipe tobaccos, pickled walnuts, game salami and a little treacle. Mouth: extreme stuff! Very earthy and meaty once again but at the same time almost jarringly sweet and sticky on botrytis, booze soaked raisins, Christmas pudding and glazed walnuts. Pulls you in different directions simultaneously. With water: sweetness again, verging on cloying probably, but some nicely spice-infused smokiness brings it back. Dry roast peanuts, bonfire embers and black pepper all coming through a little later on. Still globally very meaty, earthy and… chunky. Finish: long, very earthy, some grubby meaty vibes, soot, leather, tobacco and developing a nice herbal bitterness in there too. Still an extreme style though. Comments: easy to see why this would be such a divisive whisky. There's a meatiness that strays into challenging territories at times, and which can jar a bit with the residual sweetness of the Tokaji on the palate (not much flushing of casks went on here I expect) but overall there's a charm about it which is hard to refute. I suspect it'll remain a divisive one forever. In fact, I just checked Serge's original notes from 2005 and it looks like he was not at all impressed (WF49). Ha! Maybe this one has improved with 17 years (yes, 17!!!) in glass. Or perhaps I'm just a bit of a softie? Irrespectively, my key takeaway here is: I want a glass of Tokaji!
SGP:674 - 78 (rather meaningless) points.

 

 

Springbank 9 yo 1996/2006 (58.0%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 7 years in refill bourbon + 2 years in fresh marsala, 7740 bottles)

Springbank 9 yo 1996/2006 (58.0%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 7 years in refill bourbon + 2 years in fresh marsala, 7740 bottles)
Marsala being a fortified Italian wine which can be dry or sweet. Colour: deep gold. Nose: feels like rather sweet Marsala involved here as there's an immediate sticky dark fruit sweetness going on. Brown breads, sweet ruby ales, coal smoke, honey cake and plum wine. Also wee touches of treacle and hessian. With water: touches of blood orange and grenadine now, also some pink grapefruit. Feels like it's becoming overall a little fruitier and lighter on its feet. Mouth: more assertive distillery character here with this nice mix of mechanical oils, soft waxes, peat embers and dried herbs. Some pink peppercorns, sandalwood and chai tea impressions too. Fun and rather complex in fact. With water: becomes a tad more bitter and a bit greener now, goes towards lemongrass, chlorophyll and herbal teas. Finish: medium in length and nicely peppery with ginger and cinnamon. Comments: overall a simpler offering and I think the marsala on this occasion works quite well.
SGP: 562 - 84 points.

 

 

Springbank 16 yo 1991/2007 (54.2%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 8 years in refill bourbon + 8 years in fresh rum, 5100 bottles)

Springbank 16 yo 1991/2007 (54.2%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 8 years in refill bourbon + 8 years in fresh rum, 5100 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: rather mashy and fermentary at first with beers, breads, hay and this rather rugged gristy vibe. After that some medicines like tiger balm, then lemon verbena and cider apple funk. With water: on funny things now like ink, vinyl, vase water and brand new trainers. More green things like chlorophyll and crushed flower stems. Mouth: same sort of mashup of farmyard notes, breads, yeasty qualities and light medicinal qualities. Still rather sharp and a little salty, green apples, mineral salts, lime peel and chalk. Getting a bit drying now as well and feeling a bit austere. With water: a touch of barley sweetness comes skulking back, but generally still rather on greenery, light salinity, faint medicinal vibes and mashy cereal notes. Finish: medium in length. Rather crisp, green - acidic even - and sharp. Comments: I'm not sure I get much rum influence. Having said that, I don't get much classic Springbank character either. There's plenty attractive qualities going on here, but it feels like it's a little bit adrift.
SGP: 462 - 82 points.

 

 

Longrow 7 yo 2000/2008 (55.8%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 5.5 years in refill bourbon + 1.5 years in fresh Gaja Barolo, 12120 bottles)

Longrow 7 yo 2000/2008 (55.8%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 5.5 years in refill bourbon + 1.5 years in fresh Gaja Barolo, 12120 bottles)
Colour: bright copper. Nose: quite a big, fermentary themed peat smoke with lots of pepper, aniseed, tar and marmalade on the boil. Tipping over into slightly overripe oranges - which Serge seems to find frequently in these winey Longrows - with sooty and farmyard vibes bustling about too. With water: more leathery, more earthy, some tobaccos, mushroom powder, graphite and a wee hint of rubber. Mouth: playful and rather impressively peaty, but also comes with a slightly jarring sense of the peat and wine fighting for supremacy. Some sticky preserved fruits, pickled onions and smoked meats. With water: feels a bit more cohesive now. Bouillon, soot, mashed turnip, whisky cream (shall we say Haggis as well?) hessian, more slightly musty citrus fruits and this rather typical Longrow peppery peaty flavour. Finish: good length, some damp grainy notes, a nicely earthy, gruff smokiness and notes of real ale. Comments: I'm a little surprised, on paper I shouldn't enjoy this combo, but it works pretty well on this occasion.
SGP: 665 - 84 points.

 

 

Springbank 11 yo 1997/2009 (55.1%, OB 'Wood Expressions', madeira wood, 9090 bottles)

Springbank 11 yo 1997/2009 (55.1%, OB 'Wood Expressions', madeira wood, 9090 bottles)
I remember buying a bottle of this one from Loch Fyne Whiskies at the time it was released and thoroughly enjoying it… Colour: orangey gold. Nose: yup, an excellent saltiness on top of some resinous dark fruit notes, hessian, dunnage must and some rather mineral, medicinal-tinged peat smoke. Also things like honey-glazed ham, camphor and natural tar extract. Excellent, and showing bags of distillery character. With water: treacle, soot, menthol tobacco, hardwood resins and a sense of wine must and bodega funk (sorry, I know this is madeira!) Mouth: big arrival! All on natural tar, sticky dark fruits, smoked meats, herbal bitters, aniseed, salted Dutch liquorice and more camphor and hessian qualities. Really thick in the mouth and wonderfully peppery and waxy. With water: becomes juicier and fruitier, a rather playful sweetness that incorporates red fruits, bramble wine, and then medical aspects like a drop of iodine and cough medicine. Finish: long, tarry, peppery, elegantly sweet, medicinal and lightly herbal in the aftertaste. Comments: I still love it, although I wonder if it hasn't improved with a decade in glass, becoming more rounded and complex than I remember. Or perhaps time is just doing its thing on my brain? Anyway, the full term maturation in great quality casks, combined with an undeniably tip-tip vintage for Springbank has really worked here.
SGP: 552 - 89 points.

 

 

Springbank 12 yo 1997/2010 (54.4%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 9 years in refill bourbon + 3 years in fresh claret, 9360 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo 1997/2010 (54.4%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 9 years in refill bourbon + 3 years in fresh claret, 9360 bottles)
Claret of course being red wine from Bordeaux, although we don't know the chateau. Colour: bright coppery amber. Nose: bright and sweet red fruitiness, with amaretto biscuits, strawberry jam, orange peel and eucalyptus oil. I rather like this sweet and aromatic profile thus far. With water: ever so slightly more earthy and showing tobaccos and sweet red liquorice - still very attractive and easy. Mouth: sweet and concentrated on red fruits again, also with this slightly minty note of… well, of mint. But also bramble leaf, cassis, treacle and these sorts of fruity children's medicines such as Calpol. I am a little discombobulated, but I rather enjoy this… With water: sweet marmalade, orange muscat wine, treacle pudding, bergamot and a little black pepper. There's also this faint vibe of game meats and dark chocolate. Finish: good length, rather a lot of earthy dark teas, blackcurrant, treacle and some dark fruit compotes. Comments: what was that? Probably one of my favourites finished Springbanks, I love this fusion of sweet, fruity, earthy and medicinal. Not to mention the fact that there's absolutely no cloying or disjointed aspects coming from the wine that I can detect. 1997 seems to be when they were truly back on form at Springbank.
SGP: 652 - 87 points.

 

 

Hazelburn 8 yo 2002/2011 (55.9%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 5 years in refill bourbon + 3 years in Sauternes casks, 9180 bottles)

Hazelburn 8 yo 2002/2011 (55.9%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 5 years in refill bourbon + 3 years in Sauternes casks, 9180 bottles)
I don't think I ever tasted this one before, but I am generally a fan of sauternes wood maturation… Colour: amber. Nose: much more on heather honey and stewed fruits than the others, so more typically Hazelburn I suppose with this sense of lightness and sweetness. Beneath, though, there's also some rather Springbank-esque hessian and soft waxy notes too. A wee tobacco pouch and some sultanas. Very attractive! With water: more open and aromatic, on leather, leaf mulch, dark chocolate and figs stewed sweet wines. A touch of shoe polish and something slightly more mechanical showing after a while. Mouth: soft, sweet and with a lot of gelatinous fruitiness, dark fruit compotes, treacle, some impressions of old Armagnac and candied citrus peels. Feels considerably older than 8 years. Still these lovely honey, tobacco leaf and dark fruit qualities in balance. With water: once again this terrific fusion of oils, tobaccos, sultanas, prunes, heather honey, black coffee and chocolate. I have to say, superb! Finish: long, treacley, sweetly fruity, honeyed and with many sticky dark fruits and earthy tobacco notes. Comments: Once again, Sauternes seems to work some magic. Probably my favourite of all the younger Hazelburn OBs. I had good feels about this one but it still came as something of a surprise I have to say, totally love this mulchy, sweet and very tobacco driven profile.
SGP: 751 - 88 points.

 

 

Longrow 14 yo 1997/2011 (56.1%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 11 years in refill bourbon + 3 years in fresh burgundy, 7800 bottles)

Longrow 14 yo 1997/2011 (56.1%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 11 years in refill bourbon + 3 years in fresh burgundy, 7800 bottles)
Colour: orangey amber. Nose: not sure I get a huge amount of peat up front on this one, it's more on very sticky fruit compotes, jams, quince and treacle. There's a resinous saltiness in the background though, along with some oily hessian cloth, which feels a bit more Longrowish. Overall a little closed on the neat nose though. With water: not sure water helps, loses definition and feels very sickly and spicy but also a bit disjointed and kind of floppy. Mouth: peated orange squash and wine must. Apricot jam slathered on honey glazed ham, dusted with cupboard spices and washed down with cherry cough syrup. Pretty difficult I think. With water: very syrupy, jarringly sweet and again feeling flabby and generally rather wobbling all over the place. Weird artificially sweetened medicine flavours with some rotting orange peels. Finish: medium in length but a tad flat, musty and bitter, some more of these rather rotten fruit notes and becoming much more drying. Comments: Not a fan of this one at all I'm afraid. Started out unlikely, then got weird, then became just not very good in my view. Longrow + Burgundy = carnage in my wee opinion I'm afraid.
SGP: 363 - 71 points.

 

 

Springbank 12 yo 2000/2012 (52.7%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 6 years in refill bourbon + 6 years in fresh Calvados casks, 9420 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo 2000/2012 (52.7%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 6 years in refill bourbon + 6 years in fresh Calvados casks, 9420 bottles)
I remember this one being released and it feels rather intensely like it was only last week. Therein lies whisky's true power: the warping of time and memory. Anyway, not too sure Calvados wood is technically permitted by the SWA? But then of course they now allow Tequila for Diageo, so not sure they really have much credibility in telling smaller producers what the can and can't do… Colour: pale gold. Nose: could be mind tricks, but I do indeed detect apples and pears at first nosing. Apple pie, sweet breakfast cereals, soft waxes, putty, lemon oil and some orchard fruit teas. Also subtle green things like gooseberry, nettle and myrtle. Elegant, subtle and very attractive  so far. With water: fully on Springbank distillate now, lots of waxes, coastal freshness, mineral oils and soft green and citrus fruits in the background. Mouth: rather more on classical, good modern Springbank here, with lots of clay, beach pebbles, threads of peat and soft waxy notes. Some citrus rinds, sooty notes and smoky mashy flavours. With water: a little peatier, fatter, oilier and once again going more emphatically towards the distillery character - which is great of course! Nice dry waxiness, coastal notes, sandalwood and wee camphor notes. Finish: good length, nicely coastal, refreshingly mineral and with a wisp of peat smoke. Comments: an excellent drop, but I'm not sure what the Calvados really brings to the proceedings here. Feels like it's best qualities come in spite of the double maturation, not so much because of it.
SGP: 462 - 87 points.

 

 

Springbank 9 yo 2004/2013 (54.7%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 4 years in refill bourbon + 5 years in fresh Gaja Barolo casks, 11000 bottles)

Springbank 9 yo 2004/2013 (54.7%, OB 'Wood Expressions', 4 years in refill bourbon + 5 years in fresh Gaja Barolo casks, 11000 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: lemon and honey, not unlike nosing a hot toddy! Goes on with citrons, waxes, putty, lemon barley water, heather honey and some baked apples. A feeling of sweet young dessert wines more than Barolo to my nose. But certainly more restrained and elegant so far. With water: yellow plums, honey, delicate waxiness, sweet breakfast cereals and flower pollens. Mouth: some typical Springbank fatness with hessian and waxes mingling with stewed apricots, baked apple and various jammy tones. Feels like a Venn diagram of Springbank and generic wineyness with minimal crossover. But having said that, it's pretty good I think as most of these wine aspects seem reasonably gentle, sweet and easy. With water: honeys, soft waxes, lightly peppery, some shoe polish and more notes of apricot jam and impressions of yellow flowers. Finish: medium in length, a little drier, more on cereals, dried flowers, pepper and mineral oil. Comments: probably amongst the better of wine expressions in this series. Feels like a dram of two rather separate halves, but they co-exist in relative harmony so no complaints from me.
SGP: 552 - 86 points.

 

 

Conclusions…

 

 

That was indeed rather tough at times, but undeniably fascinating. Although, I should emphasise it was done over four separate tasting sessions. What strikes me is that the series as a whole tends to struggle from being drawn from vintages where the base Springbank distillate wasn't at its most luminous, tasting all these certainly underscores just how comprehensively the whisky making improved after about 1993 I think.

 

 

I'd also say that when this series shines it's more to do with the distillery character than the various woods being deployed. My favourite remains the Madeira edition, but that one stands out as being a full term maturation. Although, having said that, another commendable aspect about this series was that these bottling weren't really 'finishings' so much as proper secondary maturations. I think it's great that they would tell you on the front labels the maturation timings and profiles. Another example of how Springbank have often been ahead of the curve in terms of transparency. The series as a whole might feel a little old fashioned and innocent now, but viewed historically it was certainly an important stepping stone between whisky's age of innocence and today's modern era of enthusiasm.

 

 

Finally, I'd simply say that my main takeaway from tasting all these is that I love Springbank, Longrow and Hazelburn but my preference will always be for those makes from bourbon or plain refill wood. That's usually my personal preference with most whiskies, but especially with a distillery which makes such charismatic and distinctive distillate.

 

 

Big hugs and gratitude to Bram for these samples!

 

 

 

 

June 3, 2022


Whiskyfun

Back to Basics

JW
That is to say, back to blends. I believe it is important that us Malt Maniacs and distinguished friends keep trying some large-volume blended Scotch from time to time, just to keep our feet on the ground. In smart moderation, naturally… That's a universal law by the way, lesser whiskies, more moderation.
Magazine ad, 1967. Good old Nancy!

 

 

 

Johnnie Walker 'Red Label' (40%, OB, Dutch import, +/-2022)

Johnnie Walker 'Red Label' (40%, OB, Dutch import, +/-2022) Two stars
We haven't formally tasted Johnnie Red too many times, but styles and quality seemed variable, depending on the years and, perhaps, the markets. Remember, altogether approx. 15Mio 9-cases of Johnnie Walker are moved every year, while I don't think they've got a vatting tank that big (oh come on). Colour: gold. Nose: these noses are often pretty nice, with appealing ripe fruits, especially apples, some vanilla and toasted cakes, some shortbread, and a delicate maltiness that would easily mask the nasty young grains. In short, nice nose. Mouth: as I remembered it, easily drinkable and yet not dull, with a wee salty touch and some pear cake at first, while it would then get drier, bitterer, and frankly less pleasant after half a minute. That's pretty much the fate of all entry-level blended Scotch, but this one's doing rather well. Kind of. Finish: always the worst part in these blends. Cardboardy, coffee dregs, some rugous smoke in the end, orange squash. Comments: let's be fair and remember that this is meant to be sipped on ice or with soda etc.
SGP:341 - 73 points.

Dewar's 'White Label' (40%, OB, US import, +/-2022)

Dewar's 'White Label' (40%, OB, US import, +/-2022)
It appears that I've never formally tried Dewar's 'White Label'! Tell me about a so-called whisky blogger… Tsk-tsk, I can hear you. Colour: straw. Less caramel than in the Johnnie W. Nose: seems to be maltier, with rather more acidity, green fruits, porridge, doughs and fresh breads… There's even a nice floral side, around the usual dandelions. Mouth: same bitter, rustic, gritty style on the palate, with no transition this time. Tough and extremely rustic, with a lot of sawdust and cardboard. I couldn't empty my shot without ice or juices. I'm not sure water alone would help and won't even try that. Finish: short, drying, bitter. Comments: I remember old Dewar's – although not the White Label - used to be much deeper, more lively, and maltier. And frankly better. Rather nice nose, though.

SGP:231 - 65 points.

Johnnie Walker 12 yo 'Black Label' (40%, OB, Duty Free, +/-2021)

Johnnie Walker 12 yo 'Black Label' (40%, OB, Duty Free, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
The most sold 12 yo in the world and Chivas Regal's archenemy. We'll have Chivas after this one. We've tried some very good batches of Johnnie Walker Black in the past. Colour: gold. Nose: a feeling of smoked flowers, lapsang souchong, with some ashes, tobacco, cigarettes, wholegrain bread, a touch of wax, then strawberry yoghurt… It's a pretty complex nose for sure, most pleasant and, hopefully, drinkable on its own. Let's make sure about that… Mouth: a clear feeling of Johnnie Red ++, with small berries, apples, fruit peel, then some smoke and liquorice. Some peat and earth. Finish: medium, rather fat, earthy. No feeling of cardboard this time, or barely. Comments: far from the utter glories that old Johnnie Blacks used to be circa 1950s-1960s, but clearly sippable without any ice, Fanta, Canada Dry, Coke or Pepsi. Even without Irn Bru.

SGP:352 - 78 points.

As we said…

Chivas Regal 12 yo (40%, OB, French market, +/-2022)

Chivas Regal 12 yo (40%, OB, French market, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
We've tried some splendid very old bottles of Chivas Regal but careful with their corks. Recent expressions have been a little average in my book, while earlier 12s at 43% could really rock our world. Everything's going to hell… Colour: light gold. Nose: rounder and cakier than JW Black, rather all on cakes, scones, breads and brioches. Touch of vanilla and stewed apples and pears. A little less characterful than JW Black. Mouth: hold on, this is a good batch. Nice arrival, on tonic water, ginger and apple juice, then we have a little earth (we're much closer to JW than expected), caraway, liquorice, Szechuan pepper… Finish: short to medium, with a little menthol and lemon, which would save even the worst whisky in the world. No, no names, although I would have gotten a few ideas… The aftertaste's a tad more difficult, too cardboardy, as many blends are. Comments: as I just wrote, a pretty good version of Chivas 12. The aftertaste made it lose some points, though.

SGP:451 - 77 points.

Chivas

The previous inceptions of Chivas Regal (with thanks to La Revue des Marques)










Johnnie Walker 'Black Label Triple Cask Edition' (40%, OB, +/-2019)

Johnnie Walker 'Black Label Triple Cask Edition' (40%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars
No more age statement and more talking about casks and woods, welcome to the modern whisky world. According to some online blurb, this one's meant to have been finished in bourbon (check), Caribbean pot still rum (check) and finally 'Scotch whisky' (whaat, onanistic Scotch?) It's also said to have been boosted with Blair Athol, Cardhu and Strathmill. Just like us. Colour: light gold. Nose: clearly maltier, clearly less smoky. Having said that, the wood's playing the main part here, you get fresh sawdust, broken branches, plywood… And no 'Caribbean pot still rum', I'm afraid. Maybe on the palate… Mouth: starts nicely, malty and with apples, but it's getting immensely oaky after just ten seconds. Sawdust and coconut ruling this wee baby, not my cup of malt for sure, and not my cup of blend either. A little bubblegum too (bubblegum = youth). Finish: medium, still oaky. Sweet oak and cinnamon cookies. Comments: with climate change, deforestation and all that, I'd wager the way would rather be 'less oak' than 'more oak'.
SGP:361 - 70 points.

Perhaps another Walker…

William Walker & Sons Aberdeen (no ABV, Very Choice Old Highland Whisky,  +/-1930)

William Walker & Sons Aberdeen (no ABV, Very Choice Old Highland Whisky,  +/-1930) Four stars and a half
Not too sure this is a blend, it could be a single malt. I believe this brand is now extinct but I've seen that W. Auctioneer had one from the 1970s. In a way, this is almost blind tasting (by the way, looks like we will return to the Whisky Show London with Charlie and Dave this year, expect some more very crazy 3-men blind tastings!) Colour: light gold – complete with a wee 90 year old spider in my glass! We'll call it Boris, John, but filtration was not the company's strong point, apparently. Nose: typical sooty, chalky, waxy, mineral, smoky, meaty, camphory and mentholy nose. This could well have been a single malt, but it does feel like it was bottled at below 70° proof. Maybe 65 proof? Indeed that used to be legal… Mouth: big maltiness – this IS a single malt. Having said that, it is impossible to find the distillery, maybe one that was closed for good even before WWII? Or maybe Parkmore, the one that we WANT to try (because some say some cask(s) remain?) Anyway, soot, marrow, menthol, shoe polish, leek, oranges, ham, bouillons and broths, Colonatta bacon, etc. Finish: not even short, so definitely 70 proof. Not more. More waxy and meaty saltiness, plus some ashes and more sootiness. Drop of chartreuse in the aftertaste. Comments: actually a tad fragile, but fantastic. I'd kill to learn about the name of the distillery.
SGP:453 - 89 points.

Right, it wasn't a blend, dead sure about that. Which means that we'll have to find another blend to put a proper end to this wee tasting session…

Campbeltown Loch (46%, OB, 2022)

Campbeltown Loch (46%, OB, 2022) Four stars
With hugs to everyone at Cadenhead's Whisky Market Cologne/Köln. Now, I just see that this is actually a blended malt – I used to believe Campbeltown Lochs were blended Scotch, no? Looks like this one's made out of all single malts in Campbeltown, namely Springbank, Glen Scotia, Hazelburn, Macallan, Kilkerran/Glengyle and Longrow (spot the odd one out!) Colour: white wine. Nose: young, starting citric and chalky, with some lemonade and kiwi juice. Then there's sourdough, a fresh pack of lemon drops, yellow Haribos and a little lime grass. This one should repel any mosquitos, perhaps even Campbeltown's famous – and voracious - midges. Mouth: very good, with a similar chalky, doughy and lemony development, supplemented with a little fresh mint, green pepper and tiny roots and saplings (quinoa?) Finish: rather long, on pretty much the same flavours and with a smokier signature. Longrow, I presume. This wee chemicalness too… Comments: a fully naked Campbeltowner, undisguised and maskless. Very cool proposition, and certainly a true 'regional malt'. Perhaps for your favourite hipflask rather than for your most expensive crystal sniffer (a.k.a. fishbowl).

SGP:452 - 86 points.

We've got many more Y-T-T blends at Château Whiskyfun, so stay tuned. Oh, Y-T-T means yet-to-try.

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

 

June 2, 2022


Whiskyfun

A short trip abroad
More travelling, starting this from France one more time..

La PIautre 2018/2021 (56%, Version Française, LMDW, 388 bottles)

La PIautre 2018/2021 (56%, Version Française, LMDW, 388 bottles) Three stars and a half
Not an unknown story, a brewery thinking at some point that they could make whisky too, etc. This has been finished in local wine (they're in Anjou), a Coteaux de l'Aubance, which is a sweet wine. Not an untold story either, but these sweet wines would usually work well with spirits. Colour: gold. Nose: close to the malt, close to bread, close to yeast, with only a very discreet rubbery touch that may go away once waters been added, let's see. With water: not quite, on the contrary, but these whiffs of bicycle inner tube are not unpleasant. After all, old Ardbegs used to have them too. Mouth (neat): oh, good, rather thick and well textured, sweet yet not too sweet, rather on dried apricots and mirabelle jam, with a wee citrusness in the background. Chenin blanc! With water: the best part, with a tight, well-composed sweet maltiness mingled with drier raisins and apricots. Finish: a little drier and peppery, with bits of rubber indeed, but no problemo. The aftertaste is a little dying (raw chocolate, ground coffee) but also a little salty. Hold on, tinned sardines? Comments: not the chenin bomb that I had expected. We're safe!

SGP:451 - 83 points.

To nearby Switzerland…

Säntis 'Edition Dreifaltigkeit' (52%, OB, Switzerland, lot Nr.7, +/-2021)

Säntis 'Edition Dreifaltigkeit' (52%, OB, Switzerland, lot Nr.7, +/-2021) Four stars
We're in Appenzell and unless you're a native German speaker, please try to say 'Dreifaltigkeit'. Bravo! Indeed that means 'trinity' in German. This was matured in old beer casks, a typical set-up at Säntis. Colour: deep gold/amber. Nose: with bags of pencil shavings and tons of pinewood chips, this should work well as a spread over your barbecued ribs. Seriously, I think this is awesome, totally deviant in a great way, and more and more on smoked and grilled bacon. Spectacular, I can't wait to check what will happen once water's been added. With water: same but with even more pinewood. A little aquavit, perhaps, Schinken häger… ever heard of  Schinken häger? Mouth (neat): total extreme fun. Tons of smoked bacon, litres of Jägermeister and Fernet Branca, and this feeling of drinking sauna oil. With water: more tar, myrtle liqueur (first time I'm finding this much myrtle), salty bacon… Finish: very long. Perhaps a tad too long in fact, you'll need a break before you pour another whisky. Yes, of course this is whisky. Comments: utter fun! Isn't this Whiskyfun?

SGP:664 - 86 points.

And so, a long break…

We're back.

Sild 'Crannog' (48%, OB, Slyrs, Germany, +/-2022)

Sild 'Crannog' (48%, OB, Slyrs, Germany, +/-2022) Two stars and a half
Not sure I'm getting everything here but apparently, this is about a ship and about the island of Sylt, north of Hamburg, while it was distilled at Slyrs Distiller, in the Bavarian Alps. All this is making perfect sense, don't you agree? Colour: white wine. Nose: light and fresh, rather on wee touches of varnish at first, then bonbons (lemon) and pancake sauce. It is rather malty, but I cannot not think of some young bourbon. Mouth: much more happening, with some smoky – albeit varnished too – cakes, preserved pineapples, a little glue, mullein syrup, touches of rye… It is a little unusual and unseen, but after the crazy Säntis, that's nothing.  Finish: medium, pleasant, fruity  lime, rhubarb) and always with these wee varnishy touches. A little smoke in the aftertaste, strawberry yoghurt… Comments: really cool and good, but the Säntis was a killer.

SGP:552 - 78 points

I'm wondering if we shouldn't try one of those crazy St Kilians while we're in Germany…

St. Kilian 2016-17-18/2021 'Nine' (55.3%, OB, Germany, Signature Edition, 7500 bottles)

St. Kilian 2016-17-18/2021 'Nine' (55.3%, OB, Germany, Signature Edition, 7500 bottles) Four stars and a half
One of the Black Sabbaths of contemporary whisky making. Some Sauternes has been involved here, otherwise it was mostly ex-bourbon wood. I think we're ready… Colour: straw. Nose: butter cream, almond croissants, nougat and tangerine syrup. Boy is it gentle and civilised! With water: geared towards anything lemons; not the wrong direction. Impeccable bourbon wood too. Mouth (neat): rather more massive, this one responds to, say Bimber, Daftmill, Shizuoka and Chichibu. Lemon liqueur, manzanilla, tight lemon tarte, tapioca, earthy/rooty vegetables. Say celeriac. With water: a little rounder and sweeter. Lemon tarte (as usual, with meringue and bits of lemon zest). Finish: long, with perhaps a little sawdust. Comments: seriously, it's another one that's impeccably flawless. Thank God these distilleries have very limited capacity, otherwise they would soon turn the whisky world upside-down.

SGP:551 - 88 points.

Oh well, let's simply stay in Germany and then call this a tasting session.

Finch 8 yo (58.6%, OB, Germany, Madeira cask, 2021)

Finch 8 yo (58.6%, OB, Germany, Madeira cask, 2021) Two stars and a half
We're in Schwaben this time, in Heroldstadt. This baby first spent five years in a 'noble' wine cask, then almost four years in a Madeira cask. As I understand it, they've mashed and distilled both barley and malted barley, so it should be a kind of self-blend. Colour: apricot. Was it red Madeira? Nose: totally on earth, flour, polenta, chocolate powder and… Guinness. With water: also… Roasted semolina soup and mutton suet, plywood, new plastics… Mouth (neat): a funny one indeed. Sour beers, rotting cherries, wood dust, chocolate, pepper, gruyère, malt extract… With water: back to Whiskydom, in a way, with some Maggi and Guinness. Good news, the colours are the same. Finish: long, saltier. Cold onion soup and more Maggi. Comments: great fun here. This dram is totally deviant, but that's what's making it interesting and eminently sympathetic. Now there sure is a little room for improvement. Hugs.

SGP:461 - 78 points.

Last minute bonus, back to Alsace

St Wendelin 2015/2020 'Le Principal' (46%, OB, Distillerie Bertrand, released 2022, new oak, 50cl, 812 bottles)

St Wendelin 2015/2020 'Le Principal' (46%, OB, Distillerie Bertrand, France, released 2022, new oak, 50cl, 812 bottles) Four stars
A new expression from pioneers of Alsatian whisky Bertrand and their chief sorcerer Jean Metzger, known for their Uberach whiskies that they started making nineteen years ago already. This new organic range called St Wendelin does focus on ingredients that are Alsatian. They had decided to postpone the launch because of Covid. Colour: light gold. Nose: delicate and yet firm, totally au naturel, with some floral tones (dandelions), custard, mirabelles (the distillery's also making some excellent mirabelle eau-de-vie), quince, brioche and, since it is Alsatian, touches of kougelhopf. Jo amel. Interestingly, the cask was all new French oak but the whisky remained elegant and delicate, thanks to the fact that it was a 350l piece, so with less oak contact than in a traditional barrique or piece. Mouth: a few more spicy touches (nutmeg, cinnamon) but it remains a relatively soft and enjoyable malt altogether. Some cinnamon rolls filled with mirabelle jam and golden raisins, with some rather liquoricy spiciness coming out, from the oak I presume. A little star anise too, even tiny echoes of absinth, perhaps. Finish: medium, very pleasant, very well balanced, on similar notes. A little white pepper and, perhaps, a touch of sawdust in the aftertaste. Comments: very well mastered new French oak and no make-up. Lovely new expression from the far north of little Alsace.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

May 2022

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Glen Grant 70 yo 1952/2022 'Platinum Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II Edition' (52.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, first fill sherry butt, cask #381, 256 bottles) - WF93

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Karuizawa 1973/2008 (56%, OB, Martin's Selection for Norway, American oak sherry butt, cask #6249, 342 bottles) - WF93

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, French market, +/-2022)  - WF90

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Maison Tribot 'V.70 A.51' (50.3%, Old Master Spirits, for Australia, Grande Champagne, 120 bottles, +/-2021) - WF93

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
None this month (phew)
 

June 1, 2022


Whiskyfun

Little Trios, today Benriach plus two

When the 'new' Benriachs came to the market there's been a huge shock, in no small measures due to the extreme quality of some older vintages, such as 1966, 1971 or 1976. It's true that the little 10 yo that used to be available before that was not a shining star, to put it mildly. Now, has Benriach fallen back into the peloton since its last take-over? I'm not too sure, to be honest we don't try many of them anymore… Let's have a go at a wee bunch…


Benriach

 

 

Benriach 10 yo 'The Original Ten' (43%, OB, +/-2022)

Benriach 10 yo 'The Original Ten' (43%, OB, +/-2022) Three stars and a half
It's funny that they would have gone back to something similar to the old design from the 1990s. It also says 'Three Cask Matured', which is always scary and a little, say demeaning in my book. Now Macallan does it too, so…  Colour: white wine. Nose: the fact is that this nose is nice, modern, with some fresh cake, chalk, lemon syrup, Szechuan pepper, fruity hops, IPA, lemon curd and custard… It's just a little shy and I'm sure that's the relatively low strength. Mouth: same kind of composition, with lemons, white pepper, chalk, dough, cider apples and green pears, plums… It's really nice, only the white pepper would tend to come to the front a little too much. I'm sure 46% vol. would have fixed that. Finish: medium, very nice, this time with more honey and, good news, rather less white pepper. Comments: extremely fine and in France, the price is very right (39.90€ at LMDW as we speak – no, of course not, we do no affiliation with anybody.)

SGP:531 - 83 points.

Benriach 10 yo 2009/2019 (51%, OB for Minmore House and Shinanoya, Japan, peated/rum barrel, cask #4414, 273 bottles)

Benriach 10 yo 2009/2019 (51%, OB for Minmore House and Shinanoya, Japan, peated/rum barrel, cask #4414, 273 bottles) Three stars and a half
Peat and rum! Peat and rum, are we ready for this? Colour: white wine. Nose: well, peat plus rum generates… peat. I mean, in this very case. I'm finding this much nicer than the earlier peaty efforts they had done (Birnie Moss and such), but we're very close to raw peated malted barley, as if we were visiting some working malting plant. I'm finding the rum hard to detect, but I suppose we could if we had both samples in front of us, with and without the rum. Growing notes of camphor and bicycle inner tube, rubber, Barbour grease… With water: rubber up. A new box of rubber bands. Mouth (neat): some kind of smoked herbal liqueur, I suppose that's the rum. Did anybody ever try to smoke Jägermeister? I mean, peat it? Cigarette ashes and grey pepper in the background. With water: we may have struck balance. Some mangos and pineapples popping out, rather unexpectedly. Finish: rather long, fruitier when reduced. Comments: something of an UFW (unidentified flying whisky). Good fun, why not.
SGP:546 - 84 points.

Benriach 13 yo 2008/2021 (57.1%, Alambic Classique for Fassstark.de, bourbon, cask #21012, 261 bottles)

Benriach 13 yo 2008/2021 (57.1%, Alambic Classique for Fassstark.de, bourbon, cask #21012, 261 bottles) Three stars and a half
The indies are on… Colour: white wine. Nose: completely different, much more on acidic small fruits and berries (holly, elder) and varnish, almost with some acetone and surely with a lot of cider apples. Rather tough, but in general, with these uncertain kinds of profiles, water will make wonders, let's see... With water: fresh wholegrain bread and even notes of rye, really. No more varnish, rather some extended breadiness, which I'm always in favour of. Mouth (neat): totally raw, totally eau-de-vie-ish, this is tutti-frutti (or raw grappa) enhanced with litres of barley syrup. A funny feeling once more. With water: there, the breads coming out this time again, together with rather a lot of kirschwasser. Lemons and gooseberries in the background. Finish: long, tart, grassier. Crunching the lime zests from your mojito. Comments: good fun once more. The drinker will have some work to do tough, especially with water.

SGP:561 - 84 points.

Perhaps one or two more, we won't do Benriach very often…

Benriach 2012/2020 (60.4%, C&S Dram Collection, bourbon barrel, cask #800226, 226 bottles)

Benriach 2012/2020 (60.4%, C&S Dram Collection, bourbon barrel, cask #800226, 226 bottles) Three stars and a half
Another one from and for Germany. This should be extremely eau-de-vie-ish, according to the colour, but we shan't complain, we love eau-de-vie too… Colour: very pale white wine. Love it that the very engaging bottler did feel the need to add 'natural colour' to the label. Now, agreed, you could artificially discolour whisky too, as some used to do around the late 1960s and early 1970s. But we're digressing… Nose: total raw bread, chalk, porridge, leaven, sourdough and grist, with something very fermentary, between cream cheese and natural raw yoghurt. With water: bits of rubber this time again – is that one of Benriach's new markers? – otherwise crushed almonds and just apples and pears. Mouth (neat): lovely! Cranberry and prickly pear syrups, plus a lot of tart sweetness. We'll dare mention limoncello again, my friend… With water: there, some good, sweet, pure naked barleyness. This is where you realise that malted barley is shock-full of sugar, it is almost like if not everything got fermented (which is impossible, we agree). . Finish: medium, very sweet, almost sugary. Comments: same ballpark as far as 'quality' is concerned. So, very good and good fun.

SGP:641 - 84 points.

Let's try an older one…

Benriach 21 yo 1999/2021 (56.5%, WhiskySponge, 1st fill bourbon, 164 bottles)

Benriach 21 yo 1999/2021 (56.5%, WhiskySponge, 1st fill bourbon, 164 bottles) Four stars and a half
Ten more years will sure make a difference. A rather hallucinatory label too. Colour: light gold. Nose: ah, we're rather reminded of the Distillery's 'old range', with more distinct fruits, both tropical ones and our common 'orchard fruits'. That would be preserved greengages – I'll never tell enough how much I love that – and guavas, bananas, apples, also proper tangerines (not the boosted sugary ones), then lighter acacia honey and beeswax, as well as some very complex Wulong tea. It is not an immediate one on the nose, but it is very complex, just give it time. With water: more on grasses and peels. Also fresh walnuts and almonds. Mouth (neat): a fistful of bonbons, jellybeans, marshmallows and banana foam. We know that The Sponge is a sucker for banana foam, while his birthday is on… (No, no, S., please…) With water: superb development on grassy citrus. So more grapefruits, limes and lemons. Oh hell, we'll even mention yuzu once more. Peppered yuzu sherbet. Finish: rather long and, exactly, on peppered yuzu sherbet. Comments: simply high-class Benriach fruitiness.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

The trio became a quintet, all right then, is this Whiskyfun or what?

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


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


 

 
   

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Inchfad 'Gunpowder UA' (46%, Ukrainian Whisky Fans Association Kyiv, 435 bottles, 2022)

Secret Highland Single Malt 37 yo 1985/2022 (43.2%, Oxhead Whisky Company, Dram Addicts, sherry hogshead, cask #1018, 233 bottles)

Baron de Lustrac 40 yo (49.9%, OB, for Wine4You, Bas-armagnac, 4000 bottles, +/-2021)

Vallein Tercinier 60 yo 'Rencontre 62' (42.6%, OB selected for Jack Tar & Lux Coin, single dame jeanne, 100 bottles, 2022)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 57' (41.7%, Swell de Spirits, Field Trip #1, Grande Champagne, 70 bottles)

Jean Fillioux 1955+1960/2022 (45.5%, Wu Dram Clan & Kirsch Import, Grande Champagne, 354 bottles)

Mauxion 'Lot 56' (45%, OB, Petite Champagne, Belgian import, +/-2022)

Fins Bois 1954 'Lot N°5 et 14' (43.3%, Jean Grosperrin, 872 litres)

Camus 'Hors d'Âge Réserve Extra-Vieille' (OB, Japan, 1960s)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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