(Current entries)

Whisky Tasting


Daily Music entries



Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2013 - Part 1

February 2013 - part 2 <--- March 2013 - part 1 ---> March 2013 - part 2


March 13, 2013


Tasting two light young Strathisla

The rather discreet Strathisla 12 years old has been repackaged, let’s try it along a much older light and middle-aged version by G&M.

Strathisla 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2012)

Strathisla 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2012) Three stars 40%? That ain’t much. Colour: gold. Nose: a pleasant, malty and honeyed nose, light but not weak, developing on more honey, flower nectar, butterscotch and then growing notes of Williams pears. Clean and easy, I’d say… Mouth: light, toasted, roasted, with again quite some pears, roasted peanuts, maybe also cashews, then more caramel and light toffee. Cappuccino, tarte tatin. More and more tarte tatin, actually. Finish: medium length, maltier again, roasted. A slightly dry aftertaste, quite caramelly. Comments: another fine example of an easy, simple but quite perfect, 80-point malt in my book. Beats many high-end blends but we’re in the same territories. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Strathisla 15yo 1969/1985 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 75cl)

Strathisla 15yo 1969/1985 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 75cl) Two stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: bigger, more fragrant, sootier and more herbal. Touches of motor oil and light turpentine, shoe polish, tin box and then aniseed and wormwood. Indeed, it’s a little ‘absinthy’. Then parsley, chicken bouillon, a little soy sauce… Lovely and complex, the herbal side came unexpected. Mouth: some OBE striking, with a metallic side as well as a salty one that wasn’t expected. Salmiak, cough syrup, verbena, absinth again… A strange baby from the old days, quite the opposite of the new 12 OB. Behind all that, some bitterish caramel. Polish, ashes, green chartreuse… Finish: medium length, pine resin, the whole being a little acrid. Comments: good, the nose was great but the palate became unbalanced rather difficult, with this growing metallic and bitter side. The mysteries of old bottles… SGP:361 - 78 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Strathislas I've tasted so far



Block Today: SOUL JAZZ. For Hammond - and guitar - freaks. Performer: Brother Jack McDuff. Track: Walking the dog (it's not that Waliking the dog). Please buy this bros' music...

March 12, 2013


Tasting two new Ben Nevis

Some fun to be expected… Hopefully!

Ben Nevis 'McDonald's' (46%, OB, 185 years anniversary, 2012)

Ben Nevis 'McDonald's' (46%, OB, 185 years anniversary, 2012) Three stars and a half A rather lovely ‘replica’ bottle by the distillery. The back label tells us that they have ‘attempted to re-create this renowned whisky of almost 130 years ago’ (so 1882). After Macallan and now Ben Nevis doing replicas, who’s next? Colour: deep gold. Nose: well, they certainly have succeeded in coming up with an ‘old-Highlands’ style of nose, as this baby displays some rather sooty and mineral notes, with some linseed oil, some coal, some natural wool (right, clean sheep) and then more grapefruits, clay, ashes and even touches of olives. I never tried some very, very old Ben Nevis but I remember an ‘Old Mull’ from around 1910 that did display this kind of profile. Or even, ah, er, Old Clynelish…  Mouth: some peat this time – I don’t think I ever found this much peat in Ben Nevis – as well as quite some apple compote and again something mineral. The grapefruits are back as well, or is that pomelo (also known as shaddock, says Wikipedia)? The palate is rather simpler and cleaner than the nose. Finish: medium long, peaty. Cider apples, raw malted barley. Bitter herbs in the aftertaste. Comments: a very, very fine effort. Maybe a little more old whisky thrown in would have made the palate a little less mono-dimensional? SGP:454 - 83 points.

Ben Nevis 20 yo 1992/2013 (46%, Signatory, Un-chilfiltered Collection, sherry butt, cask #2308, 751 bottles)

Ben Nevis 20 yo 1992/2013 (46%, Signatory, Un-chilfiltered Collection, sherry butt, cask #2308, 751 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: ah, the unlikeliness of modern Ben Nevis when it’s great… This time we have a rather splendid collection of aromatic herbs (chives, parsley, lovage), then touches of old cardboard/old books, some leather, cooked marrow, hints of curry, tobacco… Indeed this is very unlikely but first it’s different (vive la difference!) and second, it’s most appealing. There’s even a little Spanish ham, imagine… Oh, and Maggi! Mouth: maybe a tad rough but otherwise it’s a greatly different style again, with a very nice balance between a leathery, grassy side (and chewed tobacco) and meaty side, with some beef jerky and then some peppery spice mix. Capsicum? Green coffee beans? Again, it’s all a tad unlikely but it’s very ‘fun’. Finish: long, maybe a tad too bitter now. Heavily infused mint-flavoured tea. Bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: extreme, fun stuff. There are many gems in this rather low-key ‘UCF’ series by Signatory and this, well, unlikely baby is a fine example. SGP:372 - 86 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Ben Nevis I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Meredith d'Ambrosio. Track: Peace (Horace Silver). Totally exquisite! Please visit her website and buy her music...

March 11, 2013


Two young sherried Glengoyne

The new Glengoynes are out in their new livery. Quite classy I must say. Let’s try the CS today…

Glengoyne 'Cask Strength' (58.7%, OB, +/-2013)

Glengoyne 'Cask Strength' (58.7%, OB, +/-2013) Four stars and a half This baby should be around 10-12 years of age. Colour: gold. Nose: wonderful coffee-ish and toasty nose, very fragrant, with loads of raisins and the most wonderful whiffs of struck matches. Plum and strawberry jam, then just a little sweet rum (English style) and hints of burnt wood. After fifteen minutes: massive toffee. With water: mint and chocolate cake, raisins, orange marmalade. Pretty perfect. Mouth (neat): rich, very coating, sweet, raisiny and very chocolaty. I cannot not think of the old Macallan 10 Cask Strength from 15 years ago. Christmas cake. With water: perfect sweet sherry. Praline, raisins, milk chocolate and fig cake. Finish: long, smooth, raisiny. Touches of old Armagnac but it’s not grapey as such. Comments: I think I should do a HtoH with the new Glendronach CS one day. Same ‘old-Macallan’ kind of style. SGP:551 - 89 points.

Glengoyne 1998/2012 (54.8%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 12024, 258 bottles)

Glengoyne 1998/2012 (54.8%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 12024, 258 bottles) Four stars and a half MoS had some great Glengoynes in the past, both old (1972 anyone?) and younger. Colour: mahogany. Nose: loads of sherry but it’s all leafier and rather less chocolaty/coffee-ish than the new OB. Leather, old rancio, old toolbox, then a lot of soot, even a little saltpetre… Also tar and liquorice. With water: soot, cigar ashes, fumes and just touches of grapefruits. Mouth (neat): thick, massively sherried, herbal and leathery. Cherry liqueur and black raisins plus touches of tobacco and black pepper. Not for the fainthearted, as they say. With water: more oranges come out. Blood oranges. Finish: long, marmalade-y. Bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: a rather extreme sherry and you have to like this style, but if you do... SGP:451 - 88 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glengoynes I've tasted so far




Block Today: JAZZ FUSION. Performer: Germany's Toto Blanke. Track: Spider's Dance (1975). Please visit buy Toto Blanke's music (he's from Paderborn, just like the excellent Malts of Scotland ;-))...

March 10, 2013


Tasting two official Glenmorangie

Starting with the new Ealanta...

Glenmorangie 1993/2012 'Ealanta' (46%, OB)

Glenmorangie 1993/2012 'Ealanta' (46%, OB) Two stars and a half Glenmorangie had already issued several 1993s that had been matured in new oak (Burr, truffle, Chinkapin, post oak…) This new one was entirely matured in heavily charred American oak as well. Colour: gold. Nose: a smoothly spicy arrival on apple compote with a little cinnamon and custard. Goes on with more speculoos and maple syrup, gingerbread, some obvious cardamom, masala spice mix and then a rather curious kind of mint. Also melissa water. A nice, fragrant nose, rather ‘designed’. Also touches of pencil shavings. Mouth: a lot of sweet and spicy oak at first sip, maybe a little too much for me. Roasted peanuts, curry sauce, then more apple and walnut skin, not too ripe greengages… The oak remain big all along, it’s quite an experience. Finish: medium long, tannic and tea-ish. Drying and very cinnamony. The aftertaste is more bourbon alike, with a little coconut. Comments: this one hasn’t got its predecessors’ creamy vanillaness. You have to be into heavy oak, this is no easy dram and in that sense it’s quite un-Morangie in my opinion. I wouldn’t swap one bottle of the superb current 25yo ‘quarter century’ for one case of this! SGP:361 - 78 points.

Glenmorangie 21 yo 1980/2001 (55.6%, OB, 744 bottles, Japan)

Glenmorangie 21 yo 1980/2001 (55.6%, OB, 744 bottles, Japan) Four stars A pretty rare old vatting of three casks. Colour: deep gold. Nose: this starts with much more butterscotch and maple syrup, coffee, milk chocolate and toasted brioche. Also raisins, a little hay, touches of wood smoke and ‘ideas’ of strawberry jam. Very toasted and roasted so far… With water: the sweet barley comes out, together with a little mead. Very nice. Mouth (neat): a very jammy/spicy combo, it’s even a little prickly and peppery. Peppered sultanas or something like that. Rather bigger than the ‘usual’ Glenmorangies. With water: becomes creamier and sweeter. Liquorice allsorts, Haribo bears and cinnamon cake. Tastes younger than 21 but it’s a fresh and clean dram. Finish: rather long, on apple compote, lemon curd, cinnamon and pepper. Comments: a punchy one. SGP:551 - 85 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glenmorangies I've tasted so far



Block Today: BRASILIAN POP. Something sweet and easy today. Performer: Wilson Simonal. Track: Coisa de Louco (1975). Please buy his music...

March 6, 2013


Tasting ten secret single malts

As I usually do flights of whiskies from the same distillery, these undisclosed babies tend to keep sleeping in my library. A crying shame!

Malt 1 'Whisky Experience' (40% A.D. Rattray, single malt, +/-2012)

Malt 1 'Whisky Experience' (40% A.D. Rattray, single malt, +/-2012) Three stars and a half A.D. Rattray’s Whisky Experience is a visitor attraction and shop in Kirkoswald, South Ayrshire. Colour: gold. Nose: a light, rather honeyed Speysider. Very nice notes of orange cake, raisins, honeydew and pine liqueur. Malt, touches of coffee and toasted bread. Lovely, really lovely. Mouth: nice toasted and roasted arrival but tends to nosedive, probably because of the low strength. A little toffee, malted rice, café latte, honey, bitter oranges. Finish: rather short, roasted. A little burnt bread, chocolate and caramel. Orange marmalade. A smokiness in the aftertaste. Comments: high quality malt whisky – probably Speyside. Just a few more degrees would have been welcomed. SGP:441 - 84 points.

The Highlander (40%, Single Cask Collection, single malt, +/-2013)

The Highlander (40%, Single Cask Collection, single malt, +/-2013) Three stars and a half I think the idea behind this is more or less the same as the ‘Malt 1’s’, providing some ‘gooder’ daily dram at easy strength. Colour: deep gold. Nose: we’re close, very close. Malt, raisins, milk chocolate, coffee and toffee, then more honey and roasted nuts. Candied peanuts and a growing feeling of praline and caramel, quite spectacular. Mouth: more of all that! Japanese sweet sauce (the one they serve with brochettes/yakitori, you know), chocolate, caramel sauce, sweet malt, caramelised peanuts again… Good body, good mouth feel at 40% vol. Finish: rather long, with more coffee and honey sauce. Comments: a sweet and very candied style, a little old-school and most appealing. And dangerously drinkable on a daily basis indeed. Same very excellent level as the previous one. SGP:541 - 84 points.

House Malt Speyside 17 yo 1995/2012 (50.8%, The Whisky Agency, refill sherry, 179 bottles)

House Malt Speyside 17 yo 1995/2012 (50.8%, The Whisky Agency, refill sherry, 179 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: a very fruity profile, on apricots, plums and acacia honey. A little apple pie as well, gueuze beer, then fresh almonds, walnuts and putty. A complex nose that keeps gaining complexity over time. The sherry is almost unnoticeable. Mouth: sweet, slightly sharp, with a lot of honey, apricots, vanilla and plums again. The sweetness becomes bigger, with some candy sugar, sweets and jams. Touches of orange blossom water, baklavas, sage, tarragon… Reminds me of Balvenie. Excellent. Finish: long, with more toasted bread and pastries, honey cake, a little liquorice. Just a little prickly pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: very, very high quality. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Grand Castle 18 yo 1993/2012 (57.4%, The Scottish Independent Distillers Co., cask #3593, 631 bottles)

Grand Castle 18 yo 1993/2012 (57.4%, The Scottish Independent Distillers Co., cask #3593, 631 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: coffee. Nose: a very chocolaty sherry, not unlike what Glendronach are making. Heavy maltiness as well, prunes, blackberry jelly, coffee and pipe tobacco. Very nice high oloroso style, also some rancio, leather... With water: superb gamy nose, touches of wood smoke, parsley, beef stock… Mouth (neat): very rich, first a little oaky/peppery, then as chocolaty as the chocolatiest chocolate. Marmalade and ginger, bitter oranges, prunes. With water: the oak’s a little loud but other than that it’s quite perfect. Strawberry jam, raisins, prunes and orange liqueur. High quality. Finish: long, on raspberry ganache, chocolate, more prunes… Aftertaste akin to an old armagnac’s. A little mint. Comments: high class in my opinion. An almost perfect sherry monster, just the oak’s a little loud. SGP:751 - 89 points.

Western Highland 45 yo 1965/2010 (45.7%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, refill hogshead, 98 bottles)

Western Highland 45 yo 1965/2010 (45.7%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, refill hogshead, 98 bottles) Five stars What could this be? Oban? Ben Nevis? Talisker? A Campbeltowner? Let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: too early to decide, this could be any of the ones I’ve mentioned. Well, probably not Ben Nevis. What’s sure is that it’s very complex, very multidimensional whisky and what’s funny is that there’s some kind of OBE, while this was bottled only three years ago. At random, shoe polish, cigarettes, soot, diesel oil, putty, walnuts, orange peel, olive oil, mead, beeswax, iron, fisherman’s net, seaweed, cigars, dried mushrooms (porcinis), old wardrobe, wine cellar… And only god knows what else. It just wouldn’t stop. Mouth: it’s got the complexity of an old Springbank and indeed, I just saw on other fine websites that it was the famous Campbeltowner indeed, but that isn’t fully evident on the palate as this is rather saltier than most old Springbanks. There’s also a little prickly pepper at very first sips, some green tea, seawater, then more and more tobacco and spices, cinnamon, touches of cloves, bitter oranges, maybe wee hints of rubber (bands chewed at school) and lastly, a vanilla-ed jamminess that’s quite fantastic. Finish: very long, between cinnamon cake and kumquats. Never too dry or drying despite all this cinnamon. Comments: needs time and sometimes you have to weave between the spices, but otherwise, what a glorious old dram! And I remember it was very fairly priced. SGP:562 - 92 points.

Wait, I think I’ve found more old undisclosed single malt whiskies…

Pure Single Malt 1967/1981 (43%, Berry Bros & Rudd, for Soc. "Best" Milano, Screw Cap, 75cl)

Pure Single Malt 1967/1981 (43%, Berry Bros & Rudd, for Soc. "Best" Milano, Screw Cap, 75cl) With the lovely and now revived Old Bond Street label. There was also a 1961 and a 1964 if I’m not mistaken. What could this be? Colour: gold. Nose: some extreme Old Bottle Effect here and I must say it’s becoming a tad unpleasant, with massive notes of metal polish and, well, plain iron. Having said that, the whiffs of vegetables are funny, with turnips (hey Baldrick!), beans, celery… becomes earthier after a few minutes, I also get coal, slag, gravel, plastic… With such a nose, the palate could be a plain and utter disaster, let’s see… Mouth: weird, but better. A lot of caramel mixed with a lot of peat and salt, this could be from Islay. Huge body at just 43% and after thirty years in glass, which is amazing. It’s even burning. Very earthy and leathery, sappy and, as I said, salty. Very difficult whisky in my opinion. Finish: long but a little sour now, with all the salt it’s almost olive brine. Comments: hard and unbalanced but it’s impossible to say if it’s a bottle that got stale – but then, why all this power and why is the whisky limpid? Extreme stuff. SGP:174 - 65 points.

I think we might need another old one…

Glen Avon 25 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Italy,1970s)

Glen Avon 25 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Italy,1970s) Five stars As you may know, some say that Glen Avon is Glenfarclas but there's no evidence anywhere, so... Anyway, this was probably distilled in the early 1950s. Colour: amber. Nose: home! I mean, this is superbly smooth and rounded, with an ultra-classic combination of raisins and other dried fruits plus touches of mint, as often. Marvellously soft, akin to a great old cognac. No need to say more, I guess. Mouth: good, it’s not as weak as I had feared, although this is no big whisky of course. There’s rather more chocolate and mocha this time, prunes, pipe tobacco, chocolate truffles… Also touches of smoke that hint at 1950s’ G…… indeed. Too bad the whole becomes a little thinner over time, maybe there isn’t enough alcohol to support all these congeneric flavours ;-). Finish: slightly short, more on dark chocolate. A little salt. Comments: not the most stellar but it’s extremely good and worth a solid 90-point mark in my book. Please note that you can find these old Glen Avon (or Gordon) for cheap at auctions or online retailers, they are the truest bargains these days. SGP:441 - 90 points.

That Glen Avon was so good that I feel like we should have another one from the same period…

Glen Avon 21 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Italy, 1970s)

Glen Avon 21 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Italy, 1970s) Four stars Colour: dark gold. Nose: this is very lovely too. There’s less sherry, less chocolaty tones and less dark dried fruits while there’s rather more ripe plums and the jams and liqueurs made thereof. More honey too, beeswax, mirabelles, it’s even quite floral and finely mentholated. I’m starting to wonder whether I don’t like this one even better than the darker 25yo… Mouth: this is a little simpler but I love this blend of liquorice, mint and honey, it works very well and has a Sauternes-y side. I’d even swear you can feel noble botrytis, serious… And again, ripe plums… And it goes down a treat! Finish: shortish - loses one point here – and maybe a tad too drying – bang, two more point lost. Comments: seriously, it’s lovely, easy but not sluttish whisky. In other words, deliciously un-modern. SGP:541 - 87 points.

Glen Avon 12 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Auxil France, 1980s)

Glen Avon 12 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Auxil France, 1980s) Three stars and a half This one has the deliciously unfashionable and supremely naïve and colourful label. Nothing beats this label (maybe Speycast?) but I’m not sure the same will happen with the whisky… Colour: gold. Nose: this one has more caramel, café latte and candy sugar, it’s more ‘blendish’ in a way, Chivas-style, or rather Royal Salute because the whole is very nice. Also pleasant whiffs of herbs, liquorice wood and hay. Earth. Mouth: another surprise, with an almost perfect honeyness, quite some toffee, fudge and some much unexpected notes of salted anchovies. What? Good body, no weakness. Finish: in keeping, with added orangey notes. Honey. Slightly bitter and dry aftertaste (too much added caramel?) Comments: for the price of a blend, this used to beat all blends. SGP:441 - 84 points.

This improvised retro-verticale is a lot of fun, let’s go even further down…

Glen Avon 8 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, UK, +/-2000)

Glen Avon 8 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, UK, +/-2000) Three stars Some bottlings have the ‘8’ in red, some have it in green and it’s the case here. Not sure that means anything (like the thistles on old Springbanks ;-)) Colour: gold. Nose: there isn’t much difference with the 12, maybe this one has got touches of smoke and rather more barley and cornflakes. It’s also a notch grassier. Mouth: more fruits, more youth. Apples and oranges, barley, a little muesli, some caramel and notes of orange cake. Good body, it’s even got power! Finish: longer than all the other Glen Avons’, even a tad rough and kirschy. Plum eau-de-vie (very vivid). Comments: this one has got power and not too much added caramel. That’s the good side of young whiskies within a large range, the bottlers cannot add too much caramel if they want to preserve the ‘darker = older = better’ selling point. So young cannot be too dark! SGP:442 - 81 points.

Never underestimate these own brand whiskies by G&M, they offer the best value/money ratio these days!

More tasting notes Check the index of all undisclosed malts I've tasted so far



Block Today: JAZZ. A sweet and lovely West Coast piece by Marty Paich and his Orchestra. Track: Violets for your Furs. Art Pepper is blowing. Please visit the website and buy the music...

March 5, 2013


Tasting more Caribbean malternatives
(coz the sun is back)

Do not worry, rum isn’t going to further invade this lousy little website anytime soon but I’ve noticed that after G&M and Cadenhead, who’ve always bottled rum, and some Italians such as Velier, Samaroli or Silver Seal, more and more smaller independents are starting to bottle ‘adjacent’ rums, that is to say rum that does share some characteristics with malt whisky, which isn’t quite the case with most commercial rums that, in my opinion, are often sickly sweet and totally un-whisky, if you will. But let’s have two or three new rums by whisky bottlers today…

Trinidad Rum XO (43%, Whisky-Fässle, +/-2013)

Trinidad Rum XO (43%, Whisky-Fässle, +/-2013) Three stars From a single barrel, so probably from a single distillery. Not too sure 'XO' is regulated for rum but I know that in the French islands, XO means around 6 years old or more. Colour: gold. Nose: here we go, we’re in whisky territories, more or less. That means that this baby does not quite display enormous sweetness or molassy tones, we’re rather on honey and sultanas, even something malty, apple pie, plum jam, vanilla… Frankly, this is the most whisky-esque rum I’ve ever nosed. But then again, I haven’t tried thousands. It’s only after fifteen minutes that we get a little more banana flambéed and sugar cane. Oh, and it’s very nice! After twenty minutes: all right, it’s rum ;-). Mouth: it’s rather more on burnt sugar this time, it’s sweeter, rounder, maybe also simpler… I wouldn’t say anything stands out but it’s quality rum, for sure. ‘Good average’. Candy sugar, corn syrup… Finish: medium length, sweet, on raisins and sugar. Comments: I think there’s much more happening on the nose, but this baby still beats many commercial rums in my opinion, including some much older sugar bombs. SGP:630 - around 80 points.

Caribbean Rum 11 yo 2001/2012 (46%, Duncan Taylor, blended rum)

Caribbean Rum 11 yo 2001/2012 (46%, Duncan Taylor, blended rum) Three stars and a half Colour: deep gold. Nose: much more ‘rum’, with more bananas, candy sugar, coconut cream, tar and herbs. It’s a rather heavy one, hinting at Jamaica or Demerara, with also black olives and a newly opened pack of liquorice rolls. BTW, Demerara is on the mainland but I think it is classified as ‘Caribbean’, or am I mistaken? Anyway, another nose that I enjoy a lot. Mouth: more or less the same feeling as with the Trinidad, it’s less complex on the palate than on the nose, but this has more oomph and probably a little more complexity (salty olives). Also sweeter again. Finish: quite long, slightly smoky and tarry. Candy sugar, oranges. Comments: this would make for a very fine daily dram in my opinion. SGP:641 - around 83 points.

West Indies 25 yo 1986/2012 (52.7%, Duncan Taylor, Barbados, cask #16, 244 bottles)

West Indies 25 yo 1986/2012 (52.7%, Duncan Taylor, Barbados, cask #16, 244 bottles) Four stars and a half Distilled from pot stills at West Indies Distillery. Colour: gold. Nose: good, we’re going toward a style that I do not enjoy as much as the ‘heavy/grassy’ ones, although I won’t deny that it’s very spectacular, both mentholated/phenolic/tarry and extremely sweet and molassy. Huge notes of molasses, actually. Also a distinct smokiness (lapsang souchong style). With water: oh, more olives, more putty, more tar… Mouth (neat): no, wait, this is truly great. Extreme but great. Not a huge sweetness, rather heavy notes of olives, liquorice, tar and, funnily, some salted fish such as anchovies or even cod. Also a little coffee. Truly excellent now. With water: perfect, salty, herbal, tarry, smoky… Finish: long and even saltier. More putty, marzipan, sandal, smoky, err, things, tobacco... Comments: I think Duncan Taylor’s new series of rums is an excellent occasion for any dedicated malt lover to discover the wildly different styles that do exist. Kudos! This old one is big and superb. SGP:663 - around 88 points.





Block Today: LATIN JAZZ (by another Valentin who's talking about spices). Performer: Dave Valentin. Track: hard to resist Clove and Cinnamon. Please visit the website and buy the music...

March 4, 2013


Tasting a bunch of Kavalan from Taiwan

Some catching up to be done…

Kavalan (40%, OB, Taiwan, +/- 2011)

Kavalan (40%, OB, Taiwan, +/- 2011) Two stars and a half This baby is 'round and smooth and suitable for everyday savouring' according to the distillers' website. Colour: gold. Nose: a blend of strawberries and vanilla, with a little oak and honey, then more sweet tropical fruits, guavas, candied pineapples... Banana sweets. It’s a pleasant nose, quite fragrant. Mouth: sweet, rather light, quite fruity. It’s got something of Bushmills I must say. A little candy sugar, corn syrup, apple juice… Then more toasted bread, ginger and vanilla. Finish: short, slightly cardboardy. Comments: a very nice nose, quite expressive. The palate is rather more ‘vague’, in a way, dry. SGP:540 - 77 points.

King Car (46%, OB, Kavalan distillery, Taiwan, +/- 2011)

King Car (46%, OB, Kavalan distillery, Taiwan, +/- 2011) Two stars and a half A Kavalan single malt by the name of the owners, King Car. It’s a blend of various kinds of casks, non-chill filtered as the strength permits. Colour: gold. Nose: much more austere and dry than the Kavalan at first nosing but everything comes back after two ore three minutes and both whiskies tend to become very similar. However, this one has much more oak (sawdust, a little resin). Huge vanilla. Mouth: loads of vanilla and fruit drops. Some honey, gooseberries, white pepper… The oak does a large part of the job here. Finish: quite long, with a lot of oak. Cinnamon and tea in the aftertaste. Comments: very oak-driven, not quite my cup of malt. SGP:450 - 79 points.

Kavalan 'Solist' (56.3%, OB, Taiwan, bourbon, cask #R061113061, 170 bottles, 2012)

Kavalan 'Solist' (56.3%, OB, Taiwan, bourbon, cask #R061113061, 170 bottles, 2012) Four stars and a half Colour: deep gold. Nose: a rich honeyed nose with a lot of vanilla and plum jam, a profile that reminds me of ex-bourbon Balvenie. Then soft spices, star anise, cinnamon, touches of rosewood, a little incense… This is quite lovely. There’s even some kind of peat, rather unexpected. With water: lovely whiffs of tobacco, leather polish, engine oil and coal smoke. A little eucalyptus as well, putty, turpentine... Mouth (neat): a very hot and nervous start, between pepper and tart fruits, tangerines, limes… Once again there’s some green peatiness that blends well with the pepper. Excellent. With water: excellent spicy oak and peat, pepper, hints of cardamom. A little maple syrup, honeydew. Finish: quite long, spicy. Cinnamon, vanilla cream. Comments: this one is simply excellent in my opinion. Quite complex at a (probably) young age. SGP:643 - 88 points.

Kavalan 'Solist' (59%, OB, Taiwan, bourbon, cask #B070604002, 209 bottles, 2011)

Kavalan 'Solist' (59%, OB, Taiwan, bourbon, cask #B070604002, 209 bottles, 2011) Three stars Colour: gold. Nose: less fruits than in the ’56.3%’, more dry oak and vanilla, we’re closer to the ‘King Car’. That gives it something quite bourbony. Quite some coconut as well. With water: oak-matured pina colada, a little sandalwood. Always a lot of vanilla. Mouth (neat): very sweet, creamy oak. Vanilla, coconut again, bitter oranges and a lot of fructose. Spectacular, rather monolithic sweet white oak. With water: same. Heavy white oak. Something resinous (pine wood). Finish: long, extremely vanilla-ed. Corn syrup. Peppery and cinnamony aftertaste. Comments: totally oak-driven. Less character than the previous one. SGP:741 – 82 points.

Kavalan 'Solist' (58%, OB, Taiwan, Fino, 2012)

Kavalan 'Solist' (58%, OB, Taiwan, Fino, 2012) Four stars Not sure about which cask this is, what's sure is that it's the sample I tasted blind twice as a judge at the World Whisky Awards last year and scored 86 points and then 85 points, err…) Time to write proper ‘WF’ tasting notes. Colour: amber. Nose: very expressive, starting with a lot of tobacco and hay, walnuts and mead. After that nice start it’s rather the strawberries and gooseberries that take control. Quite some wood polish as well and some faint gamy touches. A little soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Very nice, the cask must have been great. With water: a little varnish coming out but other than that we’re more or less on the same profile. Mouth (neat): very rich, heavy, peppery, mentholated, with once again these sweet tart fruits (strawberries and such). Rather sweeter and fruitier than other ‘fino-ed’ whiskies I could try. With water: rich, candied. A little rum and raisins, pear eau-de-vie. Finish: long, with more honey, fruit sweets. The aftertaste is more drying, loses one or two points here. Pepper. Comments: great whisky, nice complexity despite the youth. Maybe I was a wee bit too shy with my first scores. SGP:661 - 87 points.



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: French gipsy wonder Ninine Garcia playing quite un-gipsy jazz. Track: My dream of love. Please buy Ninine Garcia's music...

March 1, 2013


Four not so ordinary Ord

The Singleton of Glen Ord 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2012)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2012) Two stars and a half Colour: gold/orange. Nose: light and caramelly, with some toasted pastries, malt, orange marmalade and hints of earl grey tea. Warm croissants. All that is extremely light but pretty clean. Not much else to say. Mouth: nah, lacks power, which makes it rather dry and drying. Bitter chocolate, liquorice, bitter herbs and a lot of malty notes. Faint smokiness. I think I enjoyed earlier batches a little more, they had more honey and oranges according to my older notes. Finish: short and dry, malty, roasted. Comments: I’m afraid it suffers a lot from the comparison with the 15 to come in a few seconds… SGP:341 - 79 points.

The Singleton of Glen Ord 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2012)

The Singleton of Glen Ord 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2012) Three stars and a halfColour: gold/orange. Nose: ah yes, I’ve never tired this baby before and I must say I find what I usually like in older official Glen Ords, this beeswax, honey, apricots, ripe plums and even a little sandalwood and incense… A great surprise so far. Maybe there’s a little dust as well in the background? Cloves? Mouth: rounded, honeyed, malty. It’s a light dram again but it isn’t weak. Quite a lot of cloves as well, something perfumy (orange blossom?), kumquats and quite some brown sugar. Decent body. Finish: medium length, with some smoked tea (lapsang souchong) and a faint earthiness, which gives his baby a nice signature. Comments: very honest and loyal, and the bottle is niiiiiiice… SGP:452 - 83 points.

Glen Ord 15 yo 1997/2012 (49.9%, Liquid Sun, 217 bottles)

Glen Ord 15 yo 1997/2012 (49.9%, Liquid Sun, 217 bottles) Four stars Hurray, no water needed as I only ‘obligatorily’ try a whisky with water when the strength reaches 50% vol. Ho-li-day-eez! Colour: pale white wine, so probably a very different story… ;-) Nose: as naturally natural as malt whisky from dead wood can be. The whisky matured only because of the container’s porosity… And it seems that it all happened smoothly, according to the very nice whiffs of strawberry sweets, cherry liqueur and marshmallows. Also tinned peaches and oranges, maybe litchis in syrup as well. In the background, some wet sand, which works well. Mouth: a pretty perfect tutti-frutti eau-de-vie plus just a tiny-wee smokiness and traces of sweetened porridge and muesli. Totally uncomplicated, totally good and certainly not masturbatory, as they say in the V… ah, forget. . Finish: quite long. Sweet kirsch. Comments: it’s all about the spirit and Glen Ord is a great spirit. This would accept a few ice cubes (don’t shoot!) SGP:531 - 85 points.

Let’s try an older one…

Glen Ord 31 yo 1970/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, Sherry finish 6 months, 240 bottles)

Glen Ord 31 yo 1970/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, Sherry finish 6 months, 240 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: not winey at all, so no ‘finishing’ nose, so great news. In fact, we’re pretty much in the same territories as with the old official 30 or 28yo, which is even better news in my book. Bags of raisins and pollen with a little eucalyptus and tar thrown in, all that works perfectly well. Hints of hay. With water (since we’ve reached 50% vol. ;-)): lovely honey and nectar, it becomes as beehivy as the old officials. Rose jelly? Mouth (neat): creamy and honeyed start but then the liquorice becomes absolutely massive. This is extremely unusual yet (and) I like it. Mint-flavoured liquorice. Heavy oak extraction but bizarrely, it remains sweet, which keeps it all kind of balanced. With water: back to (almost) normal, water managed to tame the extreme liquorice – I had feared the opposite would happen. More dark chocolate, black tea, cinnamon. Finish: medium length, more on cinnamon and cloves plus kumquats and ‘resinous’ honey (fir honeydew). Comments: the finishing was light and worked. A very nice old Glen Ord by DL. SGP:551 - 88 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glen Ord I've tasted so far


SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter ;-))
Are these tasting notes real?
We all know it’s sometimes very tricky to make any differences between some genuine tasting notes written by true tasters (whether pros, proams or ams) and ‘marketing’ tasting notes, that is to say notes that are totally made-up and/or inflated.

Yet, I think I’ve found a way, which does NOT consist in checking who’s paying/hiring the writer as has been suggested here and there before.
In fact, the method deals with laudatory adjectives, but not adjectives that are related to the whisky, rather adjectives that are used to qualifiy the descriptors. So, while any genuine taster could claim that a whisky is brilliant, lovely, gorgeous, amazing, flabbergasting or delightful, a ‘marketing taster’ will often also use those kinds of terms beside names of fruits, spices, herbs, flowers or substances..

  Are they real?
It’s actually the only way you can use more than thirty different hyperbolic adjectives in just three or four sentences!
Here’s a short example of  ‘genuine’ tasting notes: “a fabulous whisky with notes of raisins, pudding, mint and lapsang souchong tea.” One adjective. Or I’m not against more precision, even if some readers will find this a little pretentious, like “a fabulous whisky with notes of Smyrna raisins, Stornoway pudding, garden mint and Taiwanese lapsang souchong tea.” One laudatory adjective, fine.
The codswallop rather comes through when you can read this instead: “a fabulous whisky displaying stunning notes of luscious sundried black raisins, delicious pudding, the freshest mint leaves and the most superlative lapsang souchong tea.” Six or seven laudatory adjectives instead of just one, how efficient is that? ;-).
Now, I believe there’s an even quicker trick: just check the way the colour is described. Just dark or full gold is fine, ‘a mesmerizingly deep gold with glittering ruby tones’ may be more suspicious ;-).



Block Today: FLAMENCO JAZZ. Performer: Andalusia's Chano Dominguez. Track: Refrito. That should go well with a sherry monster! Please visit his website and buy the music...

February 2013 - part 2 <--- March 2013 - part 1 ---> March 2013 - part 2



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphabetical:

Glen Avon 25 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Italy,1970s)

Western Highland 45 yo 1965/2010 (45.7%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, refill hogshead, 98 bottles)