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Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2019 - Part 2

       

March 2019 - part 1 <--- March 2019 - part 2 ---> Current entries

 

March 31, 2019


Whiskyfun

Heavy rum in action

Indeed, this is Sunday. Let’s see what we have on the table… This and that, really…

Diplomatico ‘Anejo’ (40%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2018)

Diplomatico ‘Anejo’ (40%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2018) one star and a half
This one got Gold at San Francisco’s World Spirit Competition, so we’re safe here. I suppose. Well, probably not. Some say that the best spirits are the ones that never get any medals, because as anyone can get one so easily, that suggests that they do not need any. It’s just a theory. Oh, and unless we’re talking about uncommercial awards, naturally. Colour: pale gold (hey, congratulations!) Nose: pleasant! Orange squash, hay, banana juice, very soft cinnamon cake, soft herbal teas… It whispers and simpers, this one. I rather like the freshness. Mouth: humble and light, not a sugar bomb, no extraordinary flavours, and a profile that’s a little too unprecise. Other than that, it’s not bad at all! Finish: short, a little sweeter, but not fruity. The plain sugar comes out in the aftertaste, sadly. Comments: it’s all-right-ish, I would say.
SGP:430 - 69 points.

Pour Venezuela, stuck between Scylla and Charybdis… Let’s further support the country!

C.A.D.C. 12 yo 2006/2018 (58%, Compagnie des Indes, cask #VCA5, 252 bottles)

C.A.D.C. 12 yo 2006/2018 (58%, Compagnie des Indes, cask #VCA5, 252 bottles) Three stars
This baby from the Corporacion Alcoholes Del Caribe, where they make the famous Cacique. Which, incidentally, I think I’ve never tried. Colour: pure gold. Nose: okay, acetone, nail polish remover, fresh paint (say, blue), then cellulose, at IKEA’s, strawberries, bananas, even pears… That’s a lot of molecules, I agree. With water: similar. Perhaps hemicellulose. Joking. Mouth (neat): very creamy, but that’s probably the high strength. Coconut ice-cream covered with banana liqueur and custard. Something nicely estery in the background. Let’s call this ‘the best you could do within this style’, if you like. With water: very nice, gets more cake-y, with more oranges yet, and a little fudge. It’s molasses based but you do feel the cane. Finish: medium, rather clean, on some kind of tropical cassata. Comments: all good and easy. No complains whatsoever (but naturally, this is not Worthy Park!)
SGP:530 - 80 points.

Back to bad rum… (I have that feeling…)

Presidente Marti 19 yo ‘Solera’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2018)

Presidente Marti 19 yo ‘Solera’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2018)
Only bad signals here. First, the use of unrelated History. Presidents, emperors, revolutionaries, slaves, etc. Then the word solera. Then an age statement that’s most probably fake, and a colour that’s not any less fake. Then loud statements, such as ‘El Gran Ron Del Caribe’. And then a kind of packaging that reeks of ‘brand building’ and that just any new brand’s using these days. Innovation is not imitation, is it? Anyway, rant over, let’s try this baby… Colour: orange amber. Orange hues = caramel. Nose: fair, easy, soft, caramelly. Nothing bad to say, nothing good either. Cointreau or Grand-Marnier. Mouth: Toplexil, sweetened Don Papa, kid’s mouthwash, molasses honey (so not honey). Terrible. Finish: short,, best news of the day. Comments: this would go well with a peanut butter and mayo sandwich. It’s liquid sugar, really. The ‘23’ was bad (WF 65) and the ‘Anejo’ was badder (WF 60). This one comes in between, I would say. Another sugar bomb from these makers.
SGP:810 - 62 points.

We have to rinse our mouth out… Seems to me we have the solution at hand:

Stroh ‘80’ (80%, OB, Austria, +/-2018)

Stroh ‘80’ (80%, OB, Austria, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
This is ‘inländer’ rum, that is to say rum that’s distilled in non-producing countries out of imported ingredients (molasses). Stroh 80 is pretty famous on the Austrian ski slopes, it’s said that it would repair any broken bones in a flash. Broken hearts too. I’ve known Stroh 80 since I’ve turned 18 – or perhaps a little before, but please don’t tell my mother. Oh, and it’s now made out of sugarcane molasses, thanks to EU laws. Rumor has it that they would have distilled just anything before that. Even tourists. Colour: red. Crushed strawberries. Some partnership with Red Bull, I suppose. Nose: but I like! Ham, burnt molasses, tyres, acrylic, roasted nuts, barbecued herbs. And it’s not even strong! With water: yeah, pleasant, estery, meaty, petroly as it should be, this is proper rum! Nothing bad to say, really, we’re on a solid 78 points at this stage. Mouth (neat): not too bad, but very anaesthetic. Quick… With water: really gets the colour of Red Bull. Other than that, it’s fine, too bad there is some sugar coming out. Love this very rustic side, makes you want to do the Streif when you should not. Finish: very long, cane-y, pleasantly sour. Comments: of course it’s probably not totally natural, but I’m sure it’s legal, that’s something. More legal than many rums that are just imported to the EU. Anyway, good surprise, better than older bottlings, I think. It’s hard to remember the old bottlings, for obvious reasons (they used to knock you down, yeah!)
SGP:622 - 78 points.

Yeah well, what to have after that Stroh? Let’s rummage around… Oh perhaps this?

Sunset ‘Very Strong Rum’ (84.5%, OB, St. Vincent, +/-2018)

Sunset ‘Very Strong Rum’ (84.5%, OB, St. Vincent, +/-2018) Two stars
You got to read the websites for a good laugh. The Whisky Exchange: ‘Please note this is a high-strength product and we recommend not drinking neat.’ Or Ministry of Rum: ‘this rum is generally drunk straight and chased with a glass of water or soda.’ Or Rum Ratings: ‘it has limited uses other than to get people where they need to go, fast.’ Or our friend the Lone Caner: ‘the most powerful commercial rum ever made, a gurgling frisson of hot-snot turbo-charged proofage.’ Have we been warned or not? Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed...... Colour: white. So far, so good. Nose: light vanilla and sugar syrup. Piece of cake, really. What’s on TV tonight? With water: nada. Ethanol and grasses. Fruit peels. Very light and narrow, not ugly in fact. Mouth (neat): provided you only take half a drop and had prepared a lot of saliva in your mouth, you’re safe. Otherwise, run and do not come back! With water: it is not bad, at all. Not all flavours have been killed by the columns, it seems, but it’s also a little soapy. Finish: medium, narrow, ethanoly, but again, there are pleasant touches of cane juice and pears. Or am I dreaming? Where am I? Who are you? What day are we today? Did Obama win the elections?... Comments: a funny bottle to play tricks on your future ex-friends, but it’ll cost you a fortune in water or soda. The juice is not bad at all, I think. So, did Obama win indeed?
SGP:430 – 70 points.

And now, Don Papa at 40%... I’m joking. Good night.

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

 

March 30, 2019


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Lost Distilleries: A Random Odyssey
Even after all these years, I still have to take a bit of a run up at attempting to spell ‘odyssey’ correctly on the first go. Anyway, as I’ve done before on these pages, let’s have a random assortment of examples of closed distilleries.

 

These are names for which stocks are all but exhausted and building proper tastings dedicated to a single distillery becomes harder and harder. So, instead of waiting around for true sparring partners, let’s just enjoy a smattering of individual examples of these old names. The loss of which is more lamented in some cases than in others. But let’s see...

 

 

Coleburn 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead Dumpy, -/+ 1980)

Coleburn 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead Dumpy, -/+ 1980)
Cadenhead had a few other 1968 Coleburns in the Dumpy series bottled at 12, 14 and 17 years respectively - all of which were very good in my book. It’s likely that this is from the same stocks. Colour: gold. Nose: very ‘dumpy Cadenhead’, that is to say lots of flints, metal polish, coal and mechanical oils. Oily rags, hessian, mineral oils, anthracite embers, graphite, ink wells. A long way from contemporary styles that’s for sure. Soft waxes, white mushrooms, lemon peel and an easy camphor note that evolves into gently herbal cough medicines. All very excellent. In time there’s some plasticine and a few white stone fruits. All very welcome additions. Mouth: nice arrival, rather dry, all on cereals, wax paper, carbon, linseed oil, steel wool, white pepper, old ointments, that oily rag note again and some dried tarragon. Also sunflower oil, hummus and wild garlic. Finish: medium and on olive oil, plain brown toast and more sunflower seed notes. Comments: I preferred the nose to the palate but overall this was a humble and valiant wee Coleburn that reminds us that this distillery produced some lovely distillate in its day.
SGP: 361 - 87 points.

 

 

Imperial 22 yo 1995/2018 (43.3%, Elixir Distillers ‘Single Malts Of Scotland’, cask #5410, barrel, 202 bottles)

Imperial 22 yo 1995/2018 (43.3%, Elixir Distillers ‘Single Malts Of Scotland’, cask #5410, barrel, 202 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: lots of hay, butter, chopped chives, parsley, dandelions, lemon rind, wee sooty touches and some subtle waxiness. Quite pure and cereal as well, as so often with these 95 Imperials it’s pretty focused on the raw ingredients, which I always love. Opens up with mineral oils, putty, sandalwood, pot pourri and touches of flints, pebbles and clay. Photocopier toner, lime zest and some scrunched newspaper. All very fresh and elegant. Mouth: feels bigger than 43.3%, good weight, some peppery heat, olive oil, lemon tea with mint, tiger balm and bay leaf. Things like hand lotion, talcum powder and suntan oil. Again this pure cereal profile with some leafy tobacco notes and lightly vegetal aspects.  Good, solid characterful malt whisky. Finish: long, mineral, flinty, lemony, cereal and gently drying. A hint of pepperiness keeps things sharp and fresh. Comments: Another excellent 1995 Imperial. They always bring to mind ‘elegance‘ and this is no exception.
SGP: 551 - 88 points. 

 

 

Glenury Royal 32 yo 1968/2001 (49.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 258 bottles)

Glenury Royal 32 yo 1968/2001 (49.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 258 bottles)
Colour: bronze. Nose: earthy and full of balsamic, many roasted nuts, chestnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts and trail mix with plenty sultanas, dates and raisins. Leather, game meats, shoe polish, raspberry jam, hessian and some prune juice. Typical old school sherried excellence. Some aged Boal Madeira, Dundee cake and crystallised ginger in syrup. Pretty faultless really. Mouth: a lot of hessian on arrival. Also hazelnut liqueur, mint julep, old demerara rum, cocktail bitters, herbal extracts, Marmite, beef stock and a gentle seesaw between sooty and leafy aspects. Plenty tobacco, espresso, cherry cola and camphor. Straightforward and very very good. Finish: long, leathery, peppery and full of damson preserve, violets, lychee and mint tea. Still meaty and nicely bitter in the aftertaste. Comments: What’s to say? Another really great old sherry cask filled with excellent distillate for a generous number of years. I liked that the bitterness was always nippy and refreshing but never dominant or cloying. Worth seeking out I’d say.
SGP: 661 - 90 points.

 

 

St Magdalene 24 yo 1978/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 504 bottles)

St Magdalene 24 yo 1978/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 504 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: banoffee pie, do you know this? Well, there’s banoffee pie here and it’s very nice indeed. Toffee sauce, baked bananas, caramelised brown sugar, a slice of pecan pie on the side (if you’re feeling like the diabetes just can’t come fast enough) and then an easy evolution towards a leafier, more earthy and tertiary style of sherry. Some dark chocolate, tobacco, wild mushrooms, leather, walnuts. That sort of thing. Very lovely and rather fun. With water: very leafy now. Leather tobacco pouch, black cherries, leaf mulch, milk chocolate, some posh custard made with old Marsala. Mouth: some beautiful old Cognac slapped on the arse by a flagon of Navy rum. Stewed apples, mulled cider, camphor, hessian cloth, coal embers and brambles. Top notch! With water: the development is in line with the nose, so lots of earthy, leafy notes. Some balsamic, date-heavy muesli, sultanas and a little rancio. Finish: long, clean, earthy, inky, mineral and with a very slight gamey edge which works well. Comments: This wee St Magdalene cuts a dapper figure in her sherried glad rags. A brief lurk down the Google plughole reveals that Mary Magdalene was, amongst numerous other things, the patron saint of sexual temptation. It’s sad enough the distillery is closed without being left to contemplate what contemporary whisky marketeers would have done with that we nugget. Perhaps that’s why the distillery closed? After all, there’s only so much to do in Linlithgow...
SGP: 561 - 90 points.

 

 

Millburn 34 yo 1967/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 552 bottles)

Millburn 34 yo 1967/2001 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 552 bottles)
Millburn is probably my favourite of the three Invernetian closed distilleries in terms of overall consistency, even if there are a few Glen Albyns and Glen Mhors that climb individually higher on occasion. Colour: reddish coffee. Nose: rather varnishy at first. Treacle, sunflower oil, putty, shoe polish, walnut oils, exotic hardwoods turned on a lathe (getting a bit onanistic there I’m afraid), beeswax and dry roasted peanuts. Some freshly sanded rosewood and a drizzle of golden syrup. With water: gets a little more farmy now, some cow stables, earth, mushrooms and graphite oil. Mouth: pretty tough on arrival, it feels like the palate is pretty hollow in the middle and instead, around the edges, you just have these rather bitter, extractive hot spots. Some paprika, glue, tar resins, black pepper. But overall its more about ‘feeling’ than flavour. It’s just a shame that it’s not a great feeling. It’s not horrible or particularly unpleasant, but there is a sense the whole thing is a tad overcooked and flattened out. With water: a little nicer with water, some notes of black tea, Dundee cake, glace cherries, bitter herbal extracts, Jägermeister, ointments. Still too tannic and biting but I think water improves things overall. Some very bitter chocolate, strong espresso, coal dust and pine extract. Finish: long, bitter, slightly acrid and, in the words of Mr Trump, ‘bigly tannic’. Comments: So much for all that guff about Millburn and consistency! Anyway, it’s a tough one to score. It feels rather like the whisky is fighting you at times, and the cask was certainly left a little too long in my view. Having said that the nose was rather lovely at times and water did help improve things. It’s not a dirty whisky in any way, just rather too bitter and ‘tough’. Hmmm... Serge seems to have scored this one 71 at some point in the past but not published any notes. I’m not quite sure I agree with 71. I suspect it’s the kind of whisky which could be rather divisive so please take my score with a pinch of salt...
SGP: 571 - 77 points.

 

 

Glenugie 27 yo 1976/2003 (51.1%, Signatory Vintage, cask #2700, 257 bottles)

Glenugie 27 yo 1976/2003 (51.1%, Signatory Vintage, cask #2700, 257 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a leaner and straighter one, less of a fruit bomb than some other Glenugies. This one is rather all on straw, chalk, hay, minerals, wee coastal touches such as crushed shells and beach pebbles. Wet seaweed, swimming pools, sandalwood, cement and bath bombs. Some dried lavender, white flowers, ink and a soft, waxy hessian quality. Extremely pure, fresh and fragrant. With water: develops towards sunflower oil, toasted seeds, breads, sourdough - a good blanc du blanc Champagne. Mouth: limestone, putty, white pepper, beach sand, lemon jelly, lamp oil, mineral salts, waxed canvas and pear eau de vie. A really eloquent coastal theme running through this one. Hints of miso broth with dried seaweed, olive tapenade, dried rosemary, lanolin and carbolic soap. With water: a tad fruitier with tangerine, melon and apricot. Some cut green apple, more hay and straw notes and that nibble of white pepper is back. Finish: long, citric, precise and extremely fresh. Also rather mineral and chalky. Comments: Even stripped of much of its usual fruitiness, Glenugie is still such an impressive distillate. Purity and precision being the watchwords here. Some well aged cask strength riesling.
SGP: 461 - 90 points.

 

 

Banff 23 yo 1976/2000 (55.5%, Signatory Vintage, cask #2249, 263 bottles)

Banff 23 yo 1976/2000 (55.5%, Signatory Vintage, cask #2249, 263 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts with rather a lot of greenery, dandelions, daffodils, honeysuckle, heather, lemon curd and damp ferns - that forest after rain aroma known as petrichor, which I love. With time it opens up a little starts to develop this familiar waxy side, although it remains overall pretty fragrant, heathery and nicely sappy with these notes of tree bark and sandalwood. You can also add moss and a wee whiff of tobacco leaf. With water: develops towards chalk, limestone, gravel and baking parchment. Rather pure, clean and mineral. Some lemon and mint tea as well perhaps. Mouth: superb arrival, punchy, grassy, wonderfully oily, waxy, mineral and camphory with - yes - that wee Banff mustardy aspect. Really terrific on the palate! Some salted honey, heather ale, caraway and herb infused fruit teas. With water: brilliant, big, broad, hefty, waxy, fatty in texture and with a big, pervasive spiciness. Again that mustardy note alongside some green tea. Finish: long, oily, lemony, chalky, waxy and peppery. Comments: many of these 76 Banffs were just superb and this one is no different. A long lost bastard cousin of Clynelish in many ways. Remember about ten years ago when it was cool to bang on about how ‘underrated’ Banff was? No, me neither. We’re whisky nerds, we were never cool.
SGP: 472 -  91 points.

 

 

Dallas Dhu 18 yo 1977/1996 (59.2%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection)

Dallas Dhu 18 yo 1977/1996 (59.2%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection)
Never been too excited by Dallas Dhu. Having said that, last time I did one of these closed distillery sessions on WF, I tried a sibling bottling to this one by Cadenhead (1977 18yo 58.5%) and really enjoyed it (WF 90). So, let’s see if this one holds up... Colour: oaked chardonnay. Nose: different from the Banff but you can feel it’s a similarly distillate forward style and gives a very ‘textural’ impression on the nose. That is to say lots of raw ingredients like freshly kilned malt, grassy olive oil, raw cereals, toasted trail mix, carbon paper, lemon barley water, bouillon, gorse and an easy waxiness sitting underneath everything. Some unsalted pistachio nuts, hot draff and sweet wort. Very good! With water:   really on carbon paper, graphite oil, ink, mineral oil, dried herbs and umami seasoning now. Mouth: excellent delivery. Syrupy in texture and very peppery, oily and with a nice gloopy, barley sugar sweetness. Some orange peel, buttery croissant, lemon tea, lychee and peach stones. With water: fennel, lemongrass, menthol tobacco leaf, wild flowers and some charcoal. Gets increasingly grassy and olive oily. Finish: good length, some strong green tea, macha, newspaper ink, lime pith, dried mint leaf and a lightly peppery waxy note. Comments: Snap! Ok, new tradition: every time I do a closed distillery tasting on Whiskyfun it must feature at least one 90 point Dallas Dhu. Next closed distillery tasting July 2025.
SGP: 461 - 90 points.

 

 

North Port 21 yo 1976/1998 (62%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection)

North Port 21 yo 1976/1998 (62%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection)
Colour: gold. Nose: typically tough and slightly barbaric in its austerity at first nosing. Wet leaves, chalk, aspirin, sour apples and fresh paint. Some freshly distilled marc de gewurz. With some time a few notes of sandalwood and peach stones begin to appear. Still generally rather closed and tight though. With water: opens up a little towards pastries, nectar and lightly infused herbal teas. Notes of wool, fabric and concrete. Still pretty tough really. Mouth: hot, slightly plasticy and displaying some notes of overripe fruit and fermenting honey. Newspaper ash, acrylic paints and vegetable oil. Similarly tough and a tad strange. With water: some more sweetness and a few glazed fruits but it’s also still too hot, peppery and acrid. Notes of plasticine, cooking oils, hot plastic and a touch of cardboard. Finish: pretty long, hot, notes of chilli, something slightly ashy and a general, pervasive brutality. Comments: Not the best North Port I’ve had. There’s just not much pleasure to be found amidst all this raw aggression and toughness.
SGP: 271 - 74 points.

 

 

Let’s try to finish on something a little more ‘up beat’...

 

 

Brora 20 yo 1975 (60.75%, OB ‘Rare Malts, 20cl)

Brora 20 yo 1975 (60.75%, OB, Rare Malts, 20cl)
What could go wrong... Colour: light gold. Nose: whereas the 72s tended to have this rather mindboggling farmyard intensity, these 75s always seemed to tread a straighter tightrope between peat and salinity. And that’s certainly the case here. Petrol, lime juice, beach bonfire embers, tar, smoked waxes and some pure, crystalline peat. Smoky grist, kiln air, green olives in brine and some kippers drizzled with lemon juice. There’s also a deep and profound coastal ‘meatiness’ about the whole thing. With water: moves more towards farmy qualities now with these earthy, cow stable and gravely mineral notes. Still gristy, pure, petroly, peaty and extremely coastal though. Mouth: sea water, white pepper, wood ash and smoked mussels in brine at first. A big, clean, ashy blade of peat. Dried kelp, rope, tar and - with a little time - a serious medical side as well. Embrocations, gauze, TCP, germoline etc... There really is a shared DNA that seemed to exist between Caol Ila, Port Ellen and Brora during these years. Quantum endramglement? With water: Ahh, pure Brora! It all comes together with water; smoked meats, pure peat, tar, oils, wood embers, seashore, brine, camphor, putty, lemon juice, medicines, antiseptic... Finish: extremely long with heathery peat, lemon oils and rind, eucalyptus, tar extract, seaweed, herbal ointments, black pepper and brine. Comments: The 1972 Rare Malt bottlings are rightly lauded, but these 75s are truly superb whiskies as well. This one in particular is really outstanding! 
SGP: 376 - 92 points.

 

 

Many gratitudes to Dirk and Serge.  

 

 

 

March 28, 2019


Whiskyfun

Another biggish bag of Glenrothes

The Distillery recently switched from vintage statements to age statements. A strange move since you don’t need to be Einstein to be able to calculate an age statement once you know about the years of distilling and bottling. You’re right, plus or minus one year, but let’s have a few of those newish OBs, and then perhaps some IBs since there are so many around. Deal? But first an apéritif...

Glenrothes ‘Manse Reserve’ (43%, OB, +/-2015?)

Glenrothes ‘Manse Reserve’ (43%, OB, +/-2015?) Three stars and a half
Right, right, this is only a humble NAS, bearing no vintage and no age, from the older Berry Bros range. Let’s be quick... Colour: gold. Nose: yeah nice, with a lot of vanilla, cakes, panettone, cinnamon rolls, maple syrup, and perhaps one Mars bar. Pretty round, nice, with a style that would please just anyone. Of course that’s a good thing. Mouth: totally in line, descriptor for descriptor. Café latte, cappuccino, vanilla, cakes, agave syrup, maple, chocolate, hazelnut liqueur, etc. They should sell this at Starbucks (we’d only drink this then, ha-ha). Finish: medium, a tad maltier, otherwise all on agave, barley, and sugarcane syrups. Comments: I find this very good, simple, coherent, inoffensive. And smart (that’ll do, S.)
SGP:541 - 84 points.

Good, we’re ready now...

Glenrothes 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2018)

Glenrothes 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2018) Four stars
This from a ‘Soleo Collection’, which refers to some kind of Andalucian sundried grapes. Also sounds a bit like the name of some suntan lotion, but that’s just me. Colour: pale gold (it’s not caramel-infested). Nose: drier, less expressive than the Manse, grassier as well, with touches of camphor and eucalyptus, which is always nice. Some delicate floral notes, lilies, honeysuckle, whiffs of bread crust, raisin rolls, blackcurrant buds, a little white chocolate... It’s pretty complex, subtle, sadly just a little light, and that may come from the very low strength. 40% is very 1990s, no? Mouth: very good, the epitome of easiness as far as malt whiskies are concerned, and yet the opposite of a dull whisky. Wonderful malty/chocolaty arrival, then heather and acacia honey (strong and light), then marmalade and a very wee molassy side. You cannot not enjoy this, and it is even rather refreshing (hey, careful!) Finish: a little short (40%, booo!) but fresh and clean, with a cake-y richness. Raisins in the aftertaste – where have they been? Comments: I’m rather impressed. A very good bottle to have in your bar, for all your friends and family.
SGP:541 - 85 points.

Glenrothes 18 yo (43%, OB, +/-2018)

Glenrothes 18 yo (43%, OB, +/-2018) Four stars and a half
Hurray, 3 extra-degrees! And suntan lotion too. I mean, from the Soleo Collection too. Perhaps a little expensive at +/-120€, but aren’t all whiskies expensive in the light of the price of Lagavulin 16? Oh and forgot to say, this series is supposed to ‘pay homage to the grapes from which sherries are made.’ That’s only palomino and pedro, no? Colour: gold. Nose: exactly what you would expect from an older whisky once you’ve had its younger sibling. That is to say more herbs, herbal teas, and tertiary elements such as tobacco, polishes, waxes, and in this case an adorable little meatiness. Prune-filled cured ham rolls – ever tried that? A very lovely nose, almost poetic, and anything but pushy. Oh and whiffs of wine cellar when the tuns are still full. Mouth: love this. Coffee, chocolate, marmalade, dried dates and figs, rooibos lighter toffee, black raisins, roasted pecans. Balance is perfect. Finish: rather long, just a tad tannic (bang, loses one point). Black tea, Russian samovar style. Comments: there’s something ancient to this one, something refreshingly un-modern. This could have been a bottle from the 1980s.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

So, the IBs. There are loads of them, so perhaps rather try to taste some young ones? Stay close to the spirit?

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 9 yo 2009/2019 (65.3%, Cadenhead, Small Batch hogshead)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 9 yo 2009/2019 (65.3%, Cadenhead, Small Batch hogshead) Three stars and a half
65.3% vol. from 3 bourbon hogsheads, so we're talking about attempted murder here. I mean, with small batches they control the ABV, don’t they? You’ll hear from WF's lawyers, W.M. Cadenhead! As soon as they’ve sobered up... Colour: white wine. Nose: ha-ha, full custard and cappuccino. And toffee, fudge, and that killing brand that shall not be named (Nutella). With water: much farmier, with some hay, almost mud, breads, teachers’ homemade mueslis (apologies), raw wool... Mouth (neat): please call the police. With water: back at the farm. Artisanal cider, hay, lemon peel, barley... Some chocolate and nuts too. The farmer’s energy bars. Finish: long, a tad brutal and perhaps a little muddled. Mind you, it’s not even ten. Grass. Comments: this one for sport. Keep out of reach of untrained friends of family (in other words, it’s the antithesis of the official 12).
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Glenrothes 12 yo 2005/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #11792, 808 bottles)

Glenrothes 12 yo 2005/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #11792, 808 bottles) Two stars and a half
Isn't that a lot of bottles from a single butt? Colour: gold. Nose: indeed this is the style of the OBs, and that’s the sherry butt, I’m sure. Roasted nuts, roasted raisins, cappuccino, Ovaltine, caramel, maraschino, and even wee whiffs of tar that have strictly nothing to do with sulphur (matches, gunpowder, truffles, gas, you name that.) Mouth: less well-balanced than the OBs, with more fermenting fruits, perhaps, jams, homemade fruitcake, a flinty side, green tea, the tiniest bit of leather... It’s good but this style of sherry needs a little more polish, I would say. Finish: medium, malty and grassy. Teas. Comments: rather fine, but perhaps more for your second hipflask than for your favourite Riedel.
SGP:451 - 78 points.

DL, the floor is still yours...

Glenrothes 21 yo 1996/2018 (55.5%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, bourbon hogshead, cask #12377, 257 bottles)

Glenrothes 21 yo 1996/2018 (55.5%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, bourbon hogshead, cask #12377, 257 bottles) Three stars
Full bourbon this time, that’s interesting and appealing. Colour: pale gold. Nose: relatively light and complex at the same time. No big aromas this time, no sherried goodness (and with good reason), rather a combination of barley, bread, and assorted nuts. I could see pistachios and Brazil nuts, for example. Anyway, no big talker so far... With water: much nicer, all on cereals, Weetabix, barley syrup, white chocolate, and just three grams of sawdust, I would not call it IKEA-y. Mouth (neat): rather raw, rather brutal, and rather unpolished, which comes unexpected. Apple juice, green wood, touches of molasses, pineapple drops, grenadine, coconut... Not the most precise malt ever so far. With water: it doesn’t get any more precise, but there are nicer touches of coconut water and roasted sesame seeds. Finish: long, with much more citrus. Oranges, Jaffa cakes... That’s excellent, but that’s a little late. Comments: fine fine fine, just not great great great. IMHO, as we used to say circa 2005.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Glenrothes 21 yo 1997/2018 (56.1%, Taste of Whisky, sherry butt, PX octave finish, 74 bottles)

Glenrothes 21 yo 1997/2018 (56.1%, Taste of Whisky, sherry butt, PX octave finish, 74 bottles) Three stars
A PX octave finish, what could go wrong? Hey is it still allowed to laugh a bit? Colour: pale gold (greatest of news). Nose: sure it does start with whiffs of bicycle inner tube and ‘old guns’, but all the rest is clean, nutty, cake-y, and pleasantly ale-y. Some drops of Calvados as well. With water: old barriques, wine cellar, lees... But who’s that Octave? (jo-king). Mouth (neat): but this is good! The PX is kept at a distance and the nuts, honeys and cakes are having plenty of room. With water: the finest part. Teas, beers, dried herbs... Nothing against that. Finish: medium, grassier, with these very tiny touches of tar and rubber again in the aftertaste. Comments: a bit rough, perhaps, but it goes down rather than up in your throat, and that’s exactly what we’re asking for, generally. Seriously it’s good, just not stellar IMHO (as we kept saying in 2006). Frankly, no octaved stuff could really be stellar in my book anyway.
SGP:451 - 81 points.

And now a last one to rinse our mouths out...

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 16 yo 2002/2019 (55.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 228 bottles)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 16 yo 2002/2019 (55.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 228 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: no oak whatsoever, as if this was kept in clay, sandstone, or concrete. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, mind you, that would just be illegal. Cut grass, asparagus, rhubarb, fatter herbs (can’t find a name just now), fresh coconut water... The whole’s extraordinarily shy, discreet, and elegant. Hey, homeopathic whisky, that’s a new thing! With water: white asparagus with a little fresh butter and vanilla-ed sauce hollandaise. Mouth (neat): smart. Very narrow but smart. Millimetric tequila and mirabelle eau-de-vie. Love it but was there an oak cask, really? With water: totally barley eau-de-vie. Finish: sadly, on hipster beers and staling bananas. Comments: love it that those crazy people in Campbeltown would dare issuing these wacko or deviant whiskies, and rarely accept to mess with ‘wood’. I think I could write a stoopid book about those issues (thank God I have no time and energy for that). Seriously, it’s not good, but I like it quite a lot.
SGP:451 - 87 points.

Yeah, better call this a tasting session.

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

 

March 27, 2019


Whiskyfun

Macallan once more, for Michel Jackson
and International Whisk(e)y Day

MJ

Every year since 2008, the original, true non-commercial International Whisk(e)y Day celebrates the birthday of the late Michael Jackson, eternal king of whisky writing. Today raise a glass to Michael Jackson and please help fight Parkinson's Disease!

International Whisky Day

Since many years, it’s become a tradition at WF Towers to have some Macallan on March 27, to celebrate Michael Jackson’s life and work. And this year again, we’ll try to include one that he may well have sipped on numerous occasions...

It’s true that the Rare Cask Batch No2 that we tried a few weeks ago was extremely disappointing. Even Aldi wouldn’t have bottled it if you ask me (but they would still have won an award with it, ha.) Now we haven’t given up hope and indeed, there are always these dazzling older bottlings around in case of an emergency.

Macallan double gold

Macallan ‘Gold Double Cask’ (40%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars
Only a double cask? No triple cask yet? No four-oak? Now I always thought the regular ‘Gold’ was pretty good (WF 80) so let’s check what more woodwork has done to the young NAS juice… Colour: light gold. Nose: I like, really. Soft cider and beer, plus vanilla and fresh pastries, that’s not a bad combo at all. So far, so good. Mouth: definitely modern, with the wood in the front. Ginger cake, vanillin, sawdust, maize bread. Behind that, a fruitier maltiness, ripe apples, mirabelles, apricots… Finish: medium, with the expected cinnamon. Comments: not bad at all, but let’s remember that the equation wood = time is just wrong. More wood makes a different whisky (a modern one, as we say), not an older one, or a more mature one. It’s simply flavouring, which does not mean that it couldn’t work. It kind of did here, I find this better than the Rare Cask Batch No2.
SGP:541 - 80 points.

Not that there is any emergency at this point, but…

Macallan 10

Macallan 10 yo ‘100° proof’ (100° proof, OB, +/-1978) Five stars
One of, if not the first inception of the legendary 100 proof bottlings. It still came in a 75.7cl bottle and with an over-printed strength. Colour: amber gold. Nose: jams and pipe tobaccos. How very Macallan (at that time). Fantastic, as expected. Mango chutney, apricot jam, papayas, hessian, juicy sultanas, litchis, honeysuckle, tangerines, all that playing in perfect sync. This was kept in proper sherry casks, whatever that used to mean in the 1960s. Very little smoke this time, having said that. With water: this very peculiar earthiness, a bit brandy-like I have to say (shh), absolutely wonderful if a little rough. Otherwise, orange blossom and tobacco. Mouth (neat): rich, coating, smokier this time, extremely tobacco-y, slightly leathery, and full of crazy jams and dried fruits. We had a thing in France called ‘confiture de vieux garçon’ into which culprits would have thrown just any fruits and spirits, as in a living bottle or jar. This is reminiscent of that. With water: the kind of juice that made this brand really famous. Sultanas, apricots, plums and quinces, with a thin camphory/mentholy layer that absolutely thrilling. What a jam. I mean, what a whisky. Finish: very long, very perfect. There. Comments: distillers would tell you that these older youngsters were so much better than their contemporary offerings just because they were adding much older whisky thanks to the whisky Loch. Maybe.
SGP:652 - 92 points.

And one fearless indie, perhaps?

Macallan 25

Macallan 25 yo 1993/2019 (48%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, hogshead and sherry finish, cask #13/1, 610 bottles) Four stars and a half
This baby’s been finished in a sherry butt for 64 months, which equals exactly 64/12=5.33 years. So more double-maturation if you ask me, or old-style re-racking. Let’s see… Colour: amber coffee. Nose: ah, this is different. I’m reminded of some old amontillado, walnut wine, gentian, turmeric, dried figs, warm praline, chestnut purée, some curious form of mentholated celeriac (who would do that?) Some oak too, but with few fruits, which is unusual. After five minutes, it got rather very mentholy and pine-y. Did that come from the sherry cask (doubt it) or from the original hogshead? Were these aromas the reasons why they did this finishing? I know, who needs such useless questions… Mouth: wait wait wait, but this is post-war Macallan-like! Smoke, saps, burnt fruits, brandy, leather, tobacco, mushrooms, a little balsamico, a touch of rancio, those crazy jams, a lot of puréed chestnuts again, pine nuts, roasted pecans… And quite a lot of tobacco, which still makes it ‘a dry one’. Finish: long, roasted and smoked, chocolaty, nutty, dry. Orange bitters. Comments: finishings are always scary because you can’t help wondering ‘why did they have to do that?’ but in this case, I can’t see who would complain. Excellent results after those 5.33 years in a butt. I mean…
SGP:362 - 89 points.

(Thank you Angus!)

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

 

March 26, 2019


Whiskyfun

The little four hand sessions

Today, Lagavulin versus Lagavulin
With Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep. Well, not exactly.

Lagan Mill 7 yo 2009/2017 (46%, The Cooper's Choice, cask #321578, 375 bottles)

Lagan Mill 7 yo 2009/2017 (46%, The Cooper's Choice, cask #321578, 375 bottles) Four stars
I can't see how this wouldn't be Lagavulin, a matter of old contracts, I seem to recall. Colour: whiter than white wine, which is, as they tell you in Wine For Dummies, yellow. Nose: someone forgot his old jacket near some garden bonfire, or, as Angus says, it’s akin to a heavy smoker’s Barbour jacket. Some lemon eau-de-vie, notes of new stereo (welcome to the 80s!), hot vinyl, Belgian lambic with extra-yeast, shrimp croquettes and quite a lot of linseed oil. Angus also finds beach pebbles and dried kelp from a distance. Cigarette ashes, something tarry, a sourer side as well (sauerkraut, which ties to the lambic ale, says Angus). Mouth: a little thin at first but it opens nicely and develops into a smoky malt character. Licking inside a malt bin on Islay, raw distillery flavours, also waxed lemons, seawater, salted ham says Angus, roasted sesame oil, kippers… Finish: rather long, very ashy, salty, with some chalk and some smoke balanced together. Plus, the obligatory limoncello. Comments: the class of the distillate speaks. We both believe it benefits from being at 46% rather than cask strength. Pretty pretty good.
SGP:366 – Serge 87 points. Angus 86.

Lagavulin 27 yo 1991/2018 (54.4%, OB, hogshead, cask #1515, 222 bottles)

Lagavulin 27 yo 1991/2018 (54.4%, OB, hogshead, cask #1515, 222 bottles) Five stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: ooph, what a nose! It’s like if you watered down some 1970s Ardbeg with a few drops of 1960s Laphroaig.  No offence meant. Leathery salted almonds, metal polish, old copper kettle, steel wool, tool boxes, then touches of cider apples and maracuja, mercurochrome, old antiseptics and things like that (Angus)… We agree it’s a stunning nose. With water: just amazing, elegant, delicate, wispy smoke, with some heather smoke, leather polish (stuff for Bentleys), and the best almond oil in the whole world. Mouth (neat): really very perfect. Almost tropical, with papayas and guavas (says Angus - who seems to remember some kind of cocktail he used to quaff while in Peru – well only half remembered, apparently). Lapsang souchong, angelica, Angus finds jasmine (something related to Paris, it seems), some sort of toasted pine cones… With water: probably full-term Islay-matured Lagavulin, watched over by Pinkie. Wonderful pink grapefruits. Finish: Angus finds some lemon infused olive oil. Olive oil, definitely. A delicate sweet tarriness. I’m finding whelks, while Angus, who’s got luxury tastes, rather finds oysters. A long finish for sure.  Comments: it’s unusually fruity for Lagavulin. Shamelessly fruity, with a superb tarry waxiness. Super complex, one of those whiskies you could sip for hours and hours.
SGP:566 – Serge 93 points. Angus 93.

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

 

March 25, 2019


Whiskyfun

The little four hand sessions

Today, Talisker young indie vs. older official
There aren’t that many indie Taliskers around, but the two branches of the Laing family seem to be having quite some young casks, some rather remarkable…

Talisker 8 yo 2008/2016 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, cask #12657, 151 bottles)

Talisker 8 yo 2008/2016 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, cask #12657, 151 bottles) Four stars
So not just Diageo are doing eights these days. Colour: pale white wine (Moldavian pinot grigio. Like). Nose: Angus finds baker’s yeast and sourdough starter, maybe some brine, raw lemon juice and some stuff… Salty sheep wool. I find it very pure, very straightforward distillate-driven Talisker, with mineral salts and brine… The smokiness is pretty perfect, with even a little engine oil and pine wood smoke. Angus also finds lemon sherbet, while we both find it extremely nice. With water: Angus says it’s almost farmy with this kind of hay, he’s getting white mushrooms as well, while I’d rather mention linoleum. Don’t great minds think alike? Although some Scottish farms seem to be having linoleum floors, says the expert. Mouth (neat): mezcal from Skye diluted with gentian or something, and a splash of petrol (Angus). I agree with Angus and would just add a little salt. Pink salt from the Himalayas, if you like (hehehe). Some sort of concentrated ramen stock cubes, adds Angus. With water: mmm, nice, says Angus. Freshly chopped chives and parsley. I would add oysters and lemon juice, with Maggi seasoning according to Angus (who’s a big fan of Maggi - oh the wonders of civilisations!) Finish: rather long, but a little softer, rounder, with a little custard and, according to Angus, beach pebbles. Comments: how can you not love this pure classic Talisker?
SGP:456 – Serge 87 points. Angus 87.

And so the old official…

Talisker 28 yo 1990/2018 (49.5%, OB, refill sherry butt, cask #6559, 204 bottles)

Talisker 28 yo 1990/2018 (49.5%, OB, refill sherry butt, cask #6559, 204 bottles) Four stars and a half
One of these bottlings they used to say they would never do. But after all, didn’t George Bernard Shaw write that ‘progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything?’ Theresa May, take notice (signed Angus). Colour: brownish amber. Nose: I would say the sherry is in the driving seat at first nosing, but it’s driving well. A country drive, says Angus. It’s quite old school sherry, quite leafy, tobacco-y, with good brine, Maggi, soy sauce, some salted almonds, salt and vinegar crisps, adds Angus (I’m almost fainting), and old balsamic. Pretty lovely. I’m also finding some menthol. Mouth: In my meagre experience, it’s not easy to get the balance right with heavy peat and heavy sherry, but when it works it’s a proper Buenos-Aires tango. Quite a lot of sour cherries notes, says Angus, but I’m also finding traces of heavy caraway and ginger/curry that may suggest some active wood has been in use. But it does not feel oak-doped at all. A little gunpowder. Finish: long and extremely spicy and peppery. Smoked tea and bitter chocolate, tobacco… Comments: it’s really good, for sure. Angus is a little more impressed than yours truly, indeed I’m finding it just a tad heavy-ish as far as oak is concerned, in the finish. Walnut stain-like.
SGP:474 – Serge 88 points. (Angus 90).

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

 

March 24, 2019


Whiskyfun

Caution

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

 

This is Sunday,
here’s our usual bag of rum

We’ll try to taste a few controversial ones again this time. Such as some brands that Joe Public loves while the cognoscenti just abhor them. A story about democracy, knowledge, willful ignorance and addiction to sugar… And perhaps digital narcissism. Now I know some industry folks keep complaining about how little the ‘bloggers’ know about rum, while themselves DO know, obviously. But that’s even worse, since despite the fact that they know a lot more about rum, they keep making the ugliest swills. Doesn’t that add insult to injury?!

Zacapa ‘Edicion Negra Solera Gran Reserva’ (43%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2018)

Zacapa ‘Edicion Negra Solera Gran Reserva’ (43%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2018)
I remember around 15 years ago, many retailers were saying that Zacapa was the best rum in the world, or a kind of Rolls Royce of rum. Amazing work by the brand’s PR forces, kudos! Now they’ve dropped the fake age statement on this bottling, but they keep calling this a ‘solera’. After all, some Scots are still doing the same up there. As for caramel in this one, don’t get me started. Colour: dark amber, nice work by the colourists. Nose: well, I have to say this is rather pretty, with a few herbs for starters (parsley, watercress), then some quality chocolate and coffee, toffee, praline, molasses, maple syrup… Nothing bad to say at this point, nothing at all. Mouth: much too sweet and plainly sugary, as expected. The beginning of the arrival was good, with some Cointreau and touches of ginger, but it fell apart, getting both too bitter and sugary. I don’t think you could sip this humble pumped-up juice without a lot of ice. Finish: pretty long and rather bitter. Very old walnuts. Comments: demands ice, that’s all I’ll say. Hard to drink when above 20°C. The last Zacapa I had tried, back in 2016, had been rather terrible (Centenario XO Solera Gran Reserva Especial – what a name - WF 50). This isn’t any better in my humble book, I’m afraid.
SGP:750 - 45 points.

Let’s remain in the same category… (again, in my opinion) …

Bacardi ‘Black Carta Negra’ (37.5%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2018)

Bacardi ‘Black Carta Negra’ (37.5%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2018) one star and a half
Hate it that they would have quoted ‘Santiago de Cuba’ in very bold letters on the label. According to the brand’s website, ‘Its rich, dark flavors develop in heavily charred oak barrels and are shaped through a secret blend of charcoals.’ We are happy with the reassurance. Other sources are mentioning the addition of some aguardiente. Pot still then, I presume, better news in that case. Now the low strength scares me… Colour: amber. Nose: artichoke cake, or something like that. Then burnt sugar and molasses, cardboard, and industrial chocolate. Say Mars bar. Really not much happening. Mouth: not too bad, there are some bananas and pineapples, so this is clearly kind of tropical. Some caramel too, molasses, a grassy touch (those aguardientes?) The problem is that the whole combo remains extremely weak. Finish: very short, but not unpleasant. Comments: I liked it that this baby’s not homicidally sugary. Not good, but not as bad as I had thought, that’s my personal opinion. Anyway, it’s cheap. And yeah, very light, a fly that fell into my glass (after I was finished, thank you fly) survived for three minutes, which goes to tell you how light it is.
SGP:420 - 68 points.

El Dorado ‘ICBU’ (40%, OB, Guyana, single barrel, +/-2017)

El Dorado ‘ICBU’ (40%, OB, Guyana, single barrel, +/-1997) Two stars
This one from Uitvlugt’s Savalle still at Diamond Distillery. It’s very strange that they would have bottled this at 40% vol. And frankly, the packaging is bad too. Let’s only hope they haven’t added any sugar. By the way, just like Zacapa, El Dorado does not deserve its good reputation if you ask me (miss, please cancel my flights to both Guyana and Guatemala!) Colour: gold. Nose: hey, no, some action! That is to say gherkins, olives, diesel oil, plastics, bananas, pineapples, new shoes, pastis, liquorice… It’s pretty complex! A very lovely nose, that’s for sure, but that’s not where some problems usually hide… Mouth: grappa. Seriously, grappa. Not de-stemmed, at that. Something must have happened, some cooking for sure, possibly some lab work… Gets then very dry, not unlike artisanal marc (Bourgogne, Jura). How bizarre indeed. Finish: short, grape-y, grassy. Comments: at least they did not add tons of sugar, whether at birth or when they bottled this cask.
SGP:560 - 72 points.

Uitvlugt, let’s talk…

Uitvlugt 26 yo 1991/2018 (55.3%, Berry Bros & Rudd, The Whisky Barrel, cask #38, 227 bottles)

Uitvlugt 26 yo 1991/2018 (55.3%, Berry Bros & Rudd, The Whisky Barrel, cask #38, 227 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw (check!) Nose: burnt tyres (check!) Then caraway and ginger cake, cloves, dentist mix, strawberry cake, and a few rotting fruits. That’s always nice. With water: same. Mouth (neat): once again some funny duelling between the burnt side and the fruits, then the expected lime, olives, and gherkin brine. With water: more tyres (not burning this time), plastic bags (we’re sorry, turtles and whales), tarmac… With water: the strawberries are coming out again and would come with oranges starting to rot. Green grapefruits as well. Finish: long, a tad more bitter and perhaps sour. Comments: perhaps not the most immaculately immediate Uitvlugt, but still, it does fly pretty high.
SGP:463 - 85 points.

Oh, I have an idea… (I can hear you, “oh, nooooo…”)

O Reizinho 3 yo ‘Batch 1’ (52.6%, That Boutique-y Rum Company, Portugal/Madeira, 1936 bottles, 2018)

O Reizinho 3 yo ‘Batch 1’ (52.6%, That Boutique-y Rum Company, Portugal/Madeira, 1936 bottles, 2018) Three stars and a half
We had tried a white OB on March 12 and liked it quite a lot (WF 83). So we’re curious as ever… I’m not sure this is advertised as ‘agricole’, but indeed Madeira has got the appellation, just like Martinique. And unlike all the others who are simply stealing it. Colour: deep gold. Nose: someone must have smoked butterscotch in the neighbourhood. And added some lavender, juniper, thyme, liquorice and mustard seeds to the fire. Someone else would have then let the end result ferment, then distilled that wash, then let a few oranges infuse prior to filling. More or less. With water: those notes of new tyre. Or bicycle inner tube. Mouth (neat): very very good, and pretty ‘meta’. Not exactly rum as we know it, let me try to show you… Say you do a blend of several spirits of the world, like 1/3 young bourbon, 1/3 Hampden, 1/3 caraway eau-de-vie, and 1/3 anisette. I’ve noticed that’s four tiers, right. Then you further age all that in deep-charred virgin oak. Et voilà. With water: and it swims well, with lovely spicy touches, gingerbread, more caraway… Some active oak in action. Finish: long, very spicy. Seville oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent spirit that spent its short life in dominant wood. Not my preferred style, but in this case that worked very well, no doubt about that. Even if the ‘agricole’ side has consequently been kind of offset. Many rum makers are doing that these days, which I regret. Musclebound oak killed many great whiskies, It’ll kill great rums too.
SGP:551 - 83 points.

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

 

March 23, 2019


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Remembering Ardbeg
Sounds a bit funereal doesn’t it? Although, that’s not the intention. It strikes me that with all these increasingly silly NAS Ardbegs designed to appeal to Rum and Gin quaffing ‘yoofs’ these days, it’s easy to forget that there was a time - not so long ago - when Ardbeg seemed to release nothing but a constant stream of influential and often terrific bottlings.

 

Now, I know it’s important to not dwell on the past but rather look to the future, but I’d say that one of the equally frustrating things is that Ardbeg still, in my opinion, makes great distillate. So it’s something of a double-edged sword that they don’t do more with it beyond the 10yo. Anyway, enough grumbling. Let’s try three older Ardbegs for a bit of Saturday reminiscing.

 

 

Ardbeg 17 yo (40%, OB, -/+ 2000)

Ardbeg 17 yo (40%, OB, -/+ 2000)
Sadly the L code on this one has worn away so I can’t provide any batch details, beyond saying that it looks to have started with a big ‘L’, which would suggest a bottling date of sometime between 1997-2001? How many whisky people began their journey with a bottle of Ardbeg 17? I remember it was a hugely popular bottling for many years. Colour: gold. Nose: It’s said that these early 17 batches used proportions of unpeated ‘Kildalton’ Ardbeg made in 1980. When combined with the rather measly bottling strength you can see the ‘lightening’ effect of this fusion. This one opens all on leafy tobacco, bonfire smoke, a distant tar bucket, pitch, sea water, some light antiseptic notes and gauze. Easy to see how this sort of profile was so seductive. Goes on with hints of sandalwood, crushed seashells and squid ink. Mouth: drier than I remember, and surprisingly salty. Lots of miso, soy sauce and wood ash. Some dried mixed herbs, anchovies, lemon juice on oysters, black pepper and some pleasingly straightforward peat. Smoked teas, beach sand, canvas and a little brine and medicine. Finish: medium. All on lemon infused olive oil, sea salt, white pepper, tar and herbal extracts. Comments: It’s the easiness of the whole thing that strikes most. No wonder this was such a runaway success - you could quaff litres of the stuff! Not the greatest Ardbeg, I always preferred the 10, but deservedly a classic bottling I’d say. Although, I think the earlier batches were better than the later ones - isn’t that so often the case?
SGP: 355 - 87 points.

 

 

Ardbeg 1990/2004 (55%, OB for Japan & UK)

Ardbeg 1990/2004 (55%, OB for Japan & UK)
Another one of these bottles that’s somewhat forgotten about these days, but I remember being quite a fan of this one when it came out. Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh brine cut with lemon juice, granny smith apples, bone dry cider and many mineral notes such as beach pebbles, chalk, ink and carbon paper. Lime zest, seaweed paper and freshly chopped parsley. Extremely pure and fresh. In time it develops towards raw smoke and freshly malted barley. With water: dried lavender, chalk, heather ale, mouthwash, mixed olive tapenade and some hot smoky grist. Mouth: big, fatty, mineral and smoky. Full of bath salts, pressed flowers, pot pourri, struck flints, newspaper ash, sandalwood and antiseptic. Some white pepper heat, Maggi seasoning (I adore Maggi, as Serge will attest) and menthol tobacco. With water: more autolytic with water, some slightly fermentary, sourdough notes, a more lemon-accented peatiness, raw cereals, smoke, ash, lemon juice and salt water. Really excellent with water! Finish: long, lemony, ashy, pure, precise and glistening with peat, chopped herbs, olive oil and brine. Comments: I’m quite thrilled that this is pretty close to how I remember it, and I still love it after quite a few years without having tasted it. In some ways it’s reminiscent of the early Special Release Lagavulin 12s. Purity, precision and power all rolled into one.
SGP: 367 - 90 points.

 

 

Ardbeg 13 yo 1974 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice)

Ardbeg 13 yo 1974 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice)
Let’s see if this wee Ardbeg withstood being ‘Gordon & MacPhailed’... Colour: amber. Nose: It’s really another world these 70s Ardbegs. A deep, salty and profoundly leathery peatiness. Dried herbs, antiseptic, mercurochrome, iodine tablets, cured game meats, dried mint, brine, hessian cloth and some drops of old Tokaji. Rope, wine cellars, waxed canvas, tar extracts, TCP, freshly kilned malt, black olives, umami. It’s soft but the sense of character and complexity is pretty unequivocal. Mouth: about as big as whisky can be at 40%. Pure peat smoke laced with antiseptic, iodine, aged lambic ale, gauze, mouthwash, medical tinctures, embrocations, seaweed crackers, BBQ char and mustard powder. The sherry has a clear and rather beautiful voice that sings in close harmony with the peat. Although, the salinity and coastal qualities are also equally vivid. Seriously impressive stuff. Finish: Thrillingly long, extremely tarry, salty, lots of roasted nuts and getting increasingly meaty, herbal and with these big gloopy, oily and medicinal qualities. Comments: It’s an old refrain, but just imagine this at 46% - or cask strength...! Anyway, as it is, it’s still a mighty and moving old Ardbeg.
SGP: 467 - 92 points.

 

 

Big thanks to Serge and the Thompsons of Dornoch.  

 

 

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

 

March 22, 2019


Whiskyfun

GlenAllachie vs. Glenallachie

Glenallachie/GlenAllachie is Billy Walker’s latest venture. Surely not as big a name as Glendronach/GlenDronach, but let’s remember Benriach/BenRiach wasn’t quite a big name either when he took it over. Would this be April 1., I’d add that Mr. Walker’s about to take control of Macallan/MacAllan and Ardbeg/ArdBeg, but indeed that would be almost as stupid as, say, a French Yellow Vest. Even on April 1. Anyway, we’ve already tried the new GlenAllachie 12 and 18 last year, and thought the 12 was a little more to my liking. But we’ll have different beasts today... First, an apéritif:

Glenallachie 7 yo 2009/2016 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask #11187)

Glenallachie 7 yo 2009/2016 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask #11187) Three stars
This should be extremely distillate-y, so make for a good introduction, let’s see... Colour: virtually white. Indeed. Nose: ni-i-i-i-ce. Fresh butter, fern, a little sage and tarragon, and only moderate quantities of pears. There’s a very lovely grassiness indeed, very fresh, quite complex, and absolutely ‘worth bottling’. A little mashed potato as well, but it’s more grassy and even floral than cereally/yeasty. Really very nice. Mouth: pretty impressive. Damson eau-de-vie at first (Zwetchke), then lemons, apples, and then drops of gin, not the nicest part. I suppose these notes of gin would then vanish after a few more years, but they make this baby lose some points in my book. Finish: young, rather on grapefruits and various fresh herbs. Tarragon again, you could add drops of this to a sauce béarnaise. Comments: nice grassy spirit, nice to know before we tackle older Glenallachies...
SGP:461 - 82 points.

GlenAllachie 10 yo ‘Cask Strength Batch 2’ (54.8%, OB, 2018)

GlenAllachie 10 yo ‘Cask Strength Batch 2’ (54.8%, OB, 2018) Three stars and a half
This was ‘matured’ in a combination of PX, oloroso, virgin oak, and bourbon. Some finishing must have been done (I suppose) but it’s not fully PX-ed, so there’s hope. Colour: gold. Nose: nice and funny, pretty singular, and indeed I do find some tarragon again, sage, perhaps sorrel? A feeling of green curry as well (possibly from the virgin oak), then more regular touches of vanilla, dried apricots, pine honey (honeydew), pastries, some musty grated coconut from an old box, and a few rose petals (from the PX?) It’s clearly ‘a recipe’ and there has been some kind of kitchen work – that's what I feel at least, but that worked so far. With water: a load of vanilla now. We may have woken up some American oak. Mouth (with water): much work done with the woods. Spices, caraway, ginger, fruit drops, cloves, sweet peppers, dried banana... What would the Michelin Guide say? With water: cinchona, touches of lavender sweets, tonic water, ginger, vanilla, some strong green tea. A similar feeling. Finish: rather long, fruity and gritty. Bubblegum. Comments: a funny drop, unlike any other and not quite very ‘Scottish’, whatever that means. Very hard to score, but yeah, it brings some fun.
SGP:651 - 83 points.

GlenAllachie 25 yo (48%, OB, 6000 bottles, 2018)

GlenAllachie 25 yo (48%, OB, 6000 bottles, 2018) Four stars
Some PX in action again, it seems. What was done at GlenDronach seems to be done at GlenAllachie too, but as Audrey Hepburn used to say, “Why change?”. No, that’s an actual quote. Colour: gold. Nose: is it normal that I get something reminiscent of Bruichladdich? Such as melons and juicy peaches, with some ‘Atlantic Freshness’ too? Sorry if I sound like a bottle neck hanger. Then some custard, orange cake, a very discreet sourness (vanilla yoghurt), and notes of fresh sweet bread, orange blossom water... And very little PX. In short, no truckloads of grassier raisins on steroids. Mouth: we’re closer to the 10 CS, with quite some youth and probably not a feeling of ‘unhurried 25 years old malt whisky’. Not what they claim to anyway. Some oranges, pepper, a wee camphory/mentholy side, some nutmeg, and some rather grassy fruits. Perhaps bilberries? Whortleberries? Finish: medium, fruity and spicy, not unlike some Indian sauces that you would pour over, say good chicken. Have to try that one day. Notes of lavender sweets again in the aftertaste – no, certainly not Parma Violets, this is not Bowmore 1985! Comments: once again, an unusual drop, and a style that’s rather new, a bit reminiscent of what some new world distilleries are doing with smaller casks. Really worth checking, I believe they have found, or create 'an own style’.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Now wo would have some ‘untouched’ old Glenallachie to bring our proceedings to a close?...

Glenallachie-Glenlivet 26 yo 1992/2019 (54.8%, Cadenhead, hogshead, 240 bottles)

Glenallachie-Glenlivet 26 yo 1992/2019 (54.8%, Cadenhead, hogshead, 240 bottles) Five stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: what the colour suggested, that it’s really ‘young’, untouched indeed, only flavoured with time. Which gives us lemons, grapefruits, green apples, fresh bread, and hints of chalk and plaster, plus a little aspirin. Not that we’d need aspirin, quite the opposite. No notes of tarragon this time, though. With water: a breeze over an orchard while the fruits aren’t quite ripe yet. Mouth (neat): oh! Pure, well-carved, almost crystalline lemons, lime and grapefruits, with just touches of white pepper and, once again, chalk. Some vanilla and honey too, but only minuscule quantities. With water: superb, extremely pure, almost philosophical. In a way, you would have thought the Japanese would issue such styles of whiskies, which is absolutely not the case. They rather do that with sake. Finish: medium, crystalline, with a little quince and plum this time. Comments: the polar opposite of the officials. I can’t wait to see if the owners dig out such ‘all natural’ casks too in the future. Luminous whisky, well done again, Cadenhead.
SGP:661 - 90 points.

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

 

March 21, 2019


Whiskyfun

Springbank on the tasting table again

Since there was a new LB (a.k.a. Local Barley) and since we haven’t tried it yet... Oh and aren’t they getting younger and younger, those LBs? But first, an even younger one…

Campbeltown 4 yo 2014/2018 (57%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, bourbon hogshead, 726 bottles)

Campbeltown 4 yo 2014/2018 (57%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, bourbon hogshead, 726 bottles) Three stars and a half
Actually, no ideas if there’s some Springbank inside, or if it’s teaspooned (frankly, we’ve had it with all these stupid single malts in disguise, it’s getting ridiculous, it’s just booze, not the Koh-i-Nor, for crying out loud, but nothing to do with North Star Spirits, that was just a general rant) but there… Phew, had to get this off my chest ;-). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: butter and brake fluid, sunflower oil, beach sand, kelp, concrete, salty spring water, grass juice. Remember grass juice bars in the 1990s? With water: fresh rubber, grass, asparagus peel, new sneakers, Chinese general store. Nah that was very personal, apologies. Mouth (neat): young beer and pear juice, linseed oil, kippers, pencil eraser, plasticine. With water: saltier, with more olives, salted lemon juice, mezcal, and ‘stuff’. Fresh bread. Finish: long, a tad earthier. Salty aftertaste, oysters… Comments: this ought to stem from the Springbank galaxy. It’s very intriguing, some aromas are still looking for their individual spots, it’s like a house that’s being built. And it’s good, just a little tiring, in a way, not unlike an unfinished jigsaw puzzle.
SGP:352 - 83 points.

Springbank 9 yo 2009/2018 ‘Local Barley’ (57.7%, OB, 9700 bottles)

Springbank 9 yo 2009/2018 ‘Local Barley’ (57.7%, OB, 9700 bottles) Five stars
2017’s 11yo was excellent, yet not totally stellar in my book (WF 88). This one might be too young, let’s see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a Longrowy Springbank. Medicinal smoke and all that, mentholated limoncello, aspirin tablets, lemon squash, chalk and clay, scoria, clams and oysters, seawater… With water: totally wet dogs (apologies, dogs) and discarded clothes. Damp mud, damp cardboard, old piece of rag… How lovely! Mouth (neat): sweet Vishnu, I love this! And believe me I’d have loved to hate it. Some kind of medicinal, mineral lemons, something ‘industrial’, leatherette, some ink, rotting tangerines, salts, Sprite (I know, I know)… Or how a combination of the ugliest flavours can create something wonderful, it’s almost as if David Cronenberg did the distilling - and the blending. With water: f***k it all. Finish: long and extremely chalky and medicinal. Comments: believe me I was having my loaded (virtual) guns on the tasting table, but this LB’s been faster. Now I hate it that a ridiculous 9 yo whisky would be this good. Kshhh, kshhh…
SGP:463 - 91 points.

Springbank 22 yo 1996/2018 (55%, Claxton’s, bourbon hogshead, cask #1850-54, 249 bottles)

Springbank 22 yo 1996/2018 (55%, Claxton’s, bourbon hogshead, cask #1850-54, 249 bottles) Five stars
They do have some good shtuff at Claxton’s! And a 22 yo Springbank, well, they don't exactly give them away with coupons, do they. Colour: gold. Nose: huge contrast after the LB (was that Springbank, really?) with much more mildness, vegetables, oils, minerals, crushed chalk, buttered mash, French beans, Jerusalem artichokes, olive brine, liquorice wood and broken branches and roots…. With water: olive and lemon juice matured in plastic pots. Sounds horrible; it’s not. Mouth (neat): splendidly leathery, salty, almondy, lemony, and indeed kind of industrial. Good plastics (don’t tell Sea Shepherds) and oils. Then wee gherkins. Long story short, this is pretty fabulous. With water: gherkins lemons oils waxes stones oysters brine. Finish: sadly. Earthy. Comments: Springbank, best spirit in Scotland, proves that modern computerised distilleries don’t work that well, and that’s got nothing to do with any rotten romanticism, or sensationalism, or whatever. Facts, just facts. Brilliant and unbeatable mature – not doctored - spirit.
SGP:462 - 93 points. Yep you could see that as some kind of buying signal.

Bonus: let’s put that new wonder to test, with Angus joining at WF Towers for this one…

Springbank 1965/1987 (60.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #27.9)

Springbank 1965/1987 (60.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #27.9) Five stars
No need to say that that vintage is quite famous at Springbank. Colour: mahogany/coffee. Nose: pure black cherries says Angus, I’m also finding metal polish and walnut wine. I’m often mentioning old copper kettles, but this time there are hundred. Mushroom powder, leather, old books… You could spend a lot of time picking up tiny aromas… Prunes, raw chocolate, that earthy tea thing, says Angus (we call that pu-erh), old engine, wisps of old wine cellar, pot-pourri, dried wild flowers, old earthy digestive liqueurs, black pepper, rain water… What a whirlwind! With water: every drop turns into a cloud, says Angus who’s still with us. Rather more of all those wonderful metallic notes, some black pepper, and the fastest pipe tobacco in the world. Ginger cake. Mouth (neat): who was crazy enough to smoke some toffee, bitter chocolate and millionaire shortbread? Wonderful dried mushrooms, umami for sure, miso, a salty black olive note says Angus, blood orange, and overall a rather thick… err, thickness. Pancake syrup, molasses… With water: a bakery says Angus, with brown bread, seeds, cherry cake, cough medicine, some rather bitter strong honey, and a lot of chocolate. Mole sauce, cured game meat, a glass of very old pinot noir says Angus who seems to be thirsty as ever… Finish: long, bitter in a great way, extremely chocolaty, with herbal extracts, Maggi, and blackcurrant leaves and buds tea). Angus also finds some watercress. Comments: just a big chunk of pure origin chocolate, I would say. Cocktail bitters, Jägermeister…
SGP:462 – 92 points. Angus 92.

(Thanks Angus)

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

 

March 19, 2019


Whiskyfun

The little four hand sessions

Today noch Bladnoch, quite a few years apart
Indeed this is a transnational pre-Brexit session, with Angus doing his farewell European tour and stopping in Turckheim. Just like Sir Paul would do, or would that be Ringo?

Bladnoch 10 yo (46.7%, OB, +/-2018)

Bladnoch 10 yo (46.7%, OB, +/-2018) Three stars
Comes in this rather extra-terrestrial square bottle, but without a yoghurt pot in sight. Colour: straw. Nose: Angus actually thinks it is quite nice, it’s very on raw ingredients, fresh barley, grass, yeast, very sourdoughy… I think it’s less Bladnochy than earlier bottlings from the 2000s, you don’t have this very elegant lemony Bladnochy character, and rather more cereal than before. But we agree it’s a nice nose. The guy who invented the word ‘nice’ deserves a medal, if not a bottle. Mouth: rather creamier, with some flower seeds, more cereals, more grass, nice and fresh if not super-complex (says Angus). I would add that there are rather more limoncello-y notes than on the nose. Bitter lemon, that kind of thing people mix with gin to make gin drinkable, says Angus. Finish: rather medium, a wee tad chemical (instant lemon drink powder, something like Lemsip says Angus who uses that to cure his colds). Comments: some form of precision, more than in other whacky finished new siblings, and a sense of identity this time. Now we’re still a little far from those very citrusy older officials.
SGP:551 - 80 points (Angus 80).

Bladnoch 1973/1989 (55.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #50.1)

Bladnoch 1973/1989 (55.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #50.1) Five stars
Indeed the very first Bladnoch by the SMWS! Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a young lad! Very fresh and a bit cheeky, much more textural than the 10 yo says Angus. This oiliness and fatness and power… That Bladnoch butteriness is quite obvious as well, buttered brioche, lemon fudge I would say. Lemon curd… Sunflower oil adds Angus, rapeseed I would add… Probably some fennel seeds as well. With water: Angus finds jasmine and incense (need holidays, Angus?) while I’m rather finding lemon curd and cantaloupe melon. Or another kind of melon. Those green ones that look like a rugby ball. Mouth (neat): like an aged riesling, with a petroly side, some butteriness again, some chenin blanc and even some grassy sauvignon. This is totally a wine-whisky. Some white pepper, a little limestone, new breeze blocks, and once again some limoncello. With water: excellent, becomes a bit waxy says Angus, and Angus is right. Quite some pollen and wild flowers. Rich pollen note. Finish: good length, perfect balance, a little herbal, and perfectly citrusy/waxy. Comments: classy well-carved old Bladnoch that swims like a salmon  from Rothes (says Angus, who knows a lot about salmons).
SGP:651 – 90 points. Angus 91.

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

 

March 18, 2019


Whiskyfun

A short verticale of Miltonduff

Miltonduff or Milton-Duff used to be a bigger name in the 1970s and 1980s, in Italy at least, than it is today. The Italians used to sometimes bottle it as ‘Pluscarden Valley’, but some say they could also have had other distillates under that moniker. Which, between us, I doubt, since Miltonduff is actually located on the site of the ancient mill of Pluscarden Abbey. But enough babbling, let’s have a little bag of Miltonduffs...

Miltonduff 10 yo 2008/2018 (59.7%, The Taste of Whisky, Daily Collection, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #700985, 158 bottles)

Miltonduff 10 yo 2008/2018 (59.7%, The Taste of Whisky, Daily Collection, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #700985, 158 bottles) Four stars
Another new wee independent bottler, welcome to the party! Colour: straw. Nose: looks like this one is dry and grassy, with notes of vegetables, artichokes, zucchini, beer and wine, then humus, moist pipe tobacco, mown lawn, a little compost... It’s certainly not your average fruity young Speysider. With water: beer up. Lager/pils, grassy hops, surdough and leaven, baker’s yeast... We’re still close to the wash here, which is absolutely not unpleasant. Mouth (neat): rather rich and coating this time, malty, with a lot of butterscotch, williams pear eau-de-vie, some toffee and fudge... That’s the work of a properly charred first fill barrel! With water: very good, malty, with touches of gingerbread and speculoos. Chicory. Finish: rather long, on butterscotch and café latte. Typical first fill barrel as well. Comments: I’ve got only good things to say about this young ‘Duff that tastes even younger than it is, without being immature.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 12 yo 2006/2018 (54.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 288 bottles)

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 12 yo 2006/2018 (54.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 288 bottles) Four stars
Will this be barley eau-de-vie? Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, barley eau-de-vie, kirsch, young slivovitz, pears, then more orange squash as well as a touch of custard. Notes of vieille prune (plum brandy) and rather a lot of leaves and grasses. I suppose this is whisky as they used to drink it in the Highlands, around 1850. O ye'll take the high road, and I'll take the low road, and I'll be in Scotland afore ye... With water: bitter beer, mash, porridge (further wetted with whisky...) and a little ham. Or there, grouse. Mouth (neat): raw malt with a little varnish, menthol, gingerbread and speculoos again, and some sweet bread. Pear pie. With water: still a lot of beer, but it’s sweeter, fruitier beer. Citrusy hops, apple compote, stewed peaches... Finish: rather long, rather on pear pie, with some cinnamon and a little nutmeg grated over it. Comments: same ballpark, same excellent, natural malty youth.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Let’s have one of those Italian Pluscarden Valley...

Pluscarden Valley 14 yo (57.4%, Sestante, 75cl, +/-1985)

Pluscarden Valley 14 yo (57.4%, Sestante, 75cl, +/-1985) Five stars
The label does not, as far as I can tell, show a drawing of Pluscarden Abbey. What could it be? Italian artistic license? Colour: pale gold. Nose: once again, grasses and leaves are leading the fight here, together with various beers and fresh breads from a proper baker. I’m finding a little star anise, some liquorice wood, some earth, mushrooms, mosses, a lot of yeast... This old bottling is really very alive, you would swear it’s still fermenting. With water: no, drop that, it’s marvellous, full of Chinese delicacies (chen-pi, pu-erh), cigar boxes, tangerines, plum wine (Korean), old books... Fabulous! Mouth (neat): superb! Plantain bananas, mangos, eucalyptus, a little umami, almond milk, gentian, citrons, pink grapefruits, cappuccino... This is really fantastic, we’re about to ask you to call the AMB (Anti-Maltoporn Brigade), mind you! With water: right, you may call them now. Having said that, what’s troubling here is the wee smokiness in the background, which hints at some Glen Gariochs rather than Miltonduff. But as always, it could all depend on the cask’s previous content. That one could have been first filled with some peated whisky... Finish: long, rather smoky, with grapefruits marmalade, herbs, a touch of salt... Really splendid. Comments: a divine malt from yesteryear. Worth chasing down!
SGP:562 - 93 points.

It’s getting tougher...

Miltonduff 1997/2017 (58.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, 1st Fill Sherry Butt, cask #9179)

Miltonduff 1997/2017 (58.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, 1st Fill Sherry Butt, cask #9179) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: indeed it is a little hard after the sumptuous Sestante (which was probably G&M stock anyway). Rather a lot of leather, walnuts, tobacco, dried beef (jerky), also caraway and cloves, burnt cake, black tea... It’s a rather dry sherry so far. With water: pipe tobacco, a little tar, books, chocolate, molasses... A wee soapiness as well, which happens when you add water to ex-sherry whiskies. Mouth (neat): big, rather good, on pine sap and walnuts at first, chewing your cigar, sucking your pencil... Then chocolate and raw coffee beans. A curious feeling of peat smoke again, hidden in the background... Some green pepper, cabernet... With water: good, or even better. Chestnut purée and honey, roasted nuts, caramel, raisins/rum/chocolate... It’s excellent that it would have become sweeter and more candied once reduced. Finish: rather long, very cake-y. Chocolate pie and honey sauce. Comments: this baby’s accomplished more than mere survival after the stunning Pluscarden! Not that we were having doubts...
SGP:452 - 86 points.

Miltonduff 22 yo 1995/2017 (56.1%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon hogshead)

Miltonduff 22 yo 1995/2017 (56.1%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon hogshead) Three stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s rawer, grassier again, with metallic touches and notes of magazines, porridge, fresh bread, a few herbs, mint... With water: wet newspapers, muesli, a wee spoonful of sour cream. Mouth (neat): good, citrusy and porridge-y, malty, mashy, a little yeasty, slightly mentholy... These metallic touches are there again in the background. With water: improves, getting fuller and rounder at the same time, with a lovely earthy maltiness. Chocolate and marmalade. Finish: medium, on more chocolate and marmalade. A rawer, more mashy maltiness is back in the aftertaste. Comments: all good, without much fuss. It loves water.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

A last one, and an older one at that...

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 36 yo 1978/2015 (44.9%, Cadenhead Single Cask, hogshead, 126 bottles)

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 36 yo 1978/2015 (44.9%, Cadenhead Single Cask, hogshead, 126 bottles) Four stars
It was about time I tried this older baby. Colour: gold. Nose: starts a tad mashy (potatoes, celeriac and pumpkin), gets then rounder, more honeyed, with notes of pollen, beeswax, also paraffin, then stewed rhubarb and apples. Whiffs of oriental bread, orange blossom water... That only comes with age, mind you! Also some unexpected touches of wild strawberries coming through after a good three minutes – well rather the jams and liqueurs made thereof. We used to have a little brand in the old days, called Dolfi. Well I’ve just checked that they still exist! Not everything falls in shambles... Mouth: perhaps a little more unlikely, less immediate, less sexy. A little drying, faintly cardboardy, with more cedar wood (chewing your pencil if there’s anything left) and citrus peel. The rest is much nicer, citrusy, rather tart given the age, with squeezed oranges and a little honey. Grape pips in the background. Finish: medium, a tad more tea-ish and green. Chlorophyll. Comments: I believe it’s gotten a little fragile after all those years, but it’s still a very beautiful old un-doped northern Speysider.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

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

 

March 17, 2019


Whiskyfun

Caution

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

 

Cognac on the tasting table once more

No spirit is a prophet in its own country, they say (are you sure, S.?) so like many French people, I’ve been neglecting my cognacs for many, many years. But they’ve been growing on me lately...

Paul Beau ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018)

Paul Beau ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
A rather large estate with more than 100 hectares of vines, and some fully integrated production, from harvest to bottling. When will some Scots do that as well? Colour: gold. Nose: very rustic! A touch of mercaptan at first, which is bizarre, then many fruit peels, a touch of soap, some liquorice, some lavender, some orange skin... Now things calm down after two minutes, with some fresher and cleaner fruits, pomegranates, goji berries, also a fresher liquorice... Mouth: good, fresh, fruity, void of any caramel or obvious boisé, rather on maple syrup and apricot jam, raisins, honeysuckle, heather honey... It keeps improving in your glass, getting more candied. Turkish delights. Finish: medium, with a little coffee and honey. Rather dried pears and drying leaves in the aftertaste. Comments: good, fresh, just not totally ‘wow’. But this is only a VSOP!
SGP:551 - 79 points.

Guillon-Painturaud ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018)

Guillon-Painturaud ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
Own estate Cognac once again. In France you could buy this very bottle for 26€, mind you. Makes you cry... Colour: gold. Nose: rather similar, but without that soapy arrival, and rather on fruit peels, banana skin, guavas, apricot skin, and some unexpected, and rather big notes of muscat wine. Whiffs of rose petals too, marzipan, nougat, litchis... Mouth: richer, a little caramelly, beautifully oriental (orange blossom and rose waters), with a wonderful liquorice and many peaches and apricots. Honeys and honeyed pastries. As always, it’s a shame that they would have bottled this lovely juice at 40% vol. Sorry if I'm rambling. Finish: medium, on the same notes, which is great. A little more liquorice in the aftertaste, peach skins... Comments: excellent. Remember, 26€ - unless thy never updated their website, which is not impossible.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

More Guillon-Painturaud then... By the way, when they use the word 'vieux' or 'vieille' in Cognac, which means 'old', and contrarily to what happens with rum or whisky, that may well mean that the juice is old indeed.

Guillon-Painturaud ‘Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018)

Guillon-Painturaud ‘Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018) Four stars
This much older Guillon-Painturaud is much more expensive. Mind you, 53€! Colour: deep gold. Nose: a softer nose, very floral, with dandelions, broom, lilies and lilac, then acacia honey, ripe pears (butter hardy), apricots and mirabelles. You couldn’t make a more coherent Cognac, I would say. Mouth: how old is this, 30? It’s beautiful, on all raisins and all honeys, with a touch of old rancio, a little tobacco, walnut cake or wine, and a little earth. But at 40%, they get away with murder, seriously. A wee smokiness too, and even a feeling of peat, like in a +/-1950 Macallan. Really, I am not joking. Finish: medium, slightly tarry, and losing steam, taking a nose dive, most sadly. Coïtus interrumptus, I would say. Comments: no, stop it! I know, taxes, excises, traditions, entropy, family, barriers to behaviour change, whatever. Plain and simple, 40% vol. won't do it anymore. But what a beautiful old Cognac!
SGP:651 - 87 points.

There, some proper strength...

Jean-Luc Pasquet 1974 ‘Le Cognac de Bernadette’ (44.8%, OB, Grande Champagne, lot #L74, 433 bottles, +/-2017?)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 1974 ‘Le Cognac de Bernadette’ (44.8%, OB, Grande Champagne, lot #L74, 433 bottles, +/-2017?) Four stars
That’s the thing some are still missing, we aficionados love to know about both ages/vintages and years of bottling. Colour: gold. Nose: starts with pears and apples like in some very old Calvados, goes on with figs and melons as well as fresh walnuts and fresh cigars, gets then wonderfully winey (an old wine cellar in Burgundy), and goes then towards earths, old teas, precious tobaccos, a mushroomy touch (botrytis-like but it cannot be botrytis), and raw chocolate. Implacable. Mouth: believe me or not, we’re experiencing exactly the same kind of development, with first cider and calvados, then dried fruits and melons, then walnuts, then tobacco, then old woods. Except that it’s much more rustic, and almost gritty on the palate. Funny, that. Finish: medium, on fruit skins. Apples, green melons, walnut skin... Comments: wonderful, but I believe I liked the house’s ‘Très Vieille Réserve’ much better the other day (WF 91, no less). This 1974 lacked a little polish on the palate (nothing to do with dentists).
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Jean-Luc Pasquet  ‘Le Cognac de Jean’ (49.6%, OB, Grande Champagne, lot #L69/77, 488 bottles, +/-2017?)

Jean-Luc Pasquet  ‘Le Cognac de Jean’ (49.6%, OB, Grande Champagne, lot #L69/77, 488 bottles, +/-2017?) Four stars and a half
A blend of the 1969 and 1977 vintages. Colour: deep amber. Nose: please sit down and listen. Toffee, liquorice, chestnut honey, heather, mocha, citron liqueur, Spanish ham, cigars, olive oil, figs, white truffles, milk chocolate, peach peel... This baby’s an amazing conversationalist, isn’t it? But as usual, only the palate will tell... Mouth: it’s another Cognac from the countryside, extremely far from any big brands that do crystal and rappers. Piles and piles of fruit peels, green melons, yellow peaches, lime, green tea, cider pears, a drop of vegetable bouillon, a touch of liquorice as almost always, some kind of lemon-jam-filled chocolate, then more peels, saps, green tannins, skins... This is old Cognac for your (golden) hipflask, not one to sip at the club. Finish: rather long, with raisins (ah, raisins, finally) and more apples and pears. A touch of camphory tar in the aftertaste. Comments: some full-bodied artisan Cognac with a soul and a lot of authenticity. But careful, it can kick you.
SGP:461 - 88 points.

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

 

March 16, 2019


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Triple Glen Grant
Always loved Glen Grant, although I am guilty of neglecting the more contemporary bottlings. Let’s go a short way towards remedying that today. 

 

Glen Grant 18 yo (43%, OB, 2018) 

Glen Grant 18 yo (43%, OB, 2018) 
Serge tried the official 18 back in 2016 and wasn’t overwhelmed (WF 81), he obviously hadn’t been studying his Jim Murray Whisky Bible closely enough... Colour: white wine. Nose: honesty is the word. Bountiful green apples, fresh malt, pears, some oatmeal, a drizzle of honey, a dollop of custard. No one could be against this, but on the other hand it isn’t the most memorable of malts. Lots of orchard fruits, fresh cereals and an easygoing maturity that’s very pleasant. Mouth: good weight, a rather swollen and ‘fat’ maltiness. Lots of custard, honey, gooseberry tart with shortcrust pastry, nectar, white stone fruits, lemon peel. All very easy and elegant. Perhaps a wee nibble of white pepper and some putty as well. Very good! Finish: good length, lots of crisp cereals, buttered toast, mirabelle, lemon oils and freshly chopped herbs. Comments: I think some improvements have been made. I can’t see how anyone could fail to find pleasure in this whisky. It’s simple and direct but extremely charming and fresh. And there is a notable absence of any overtly active wood which is great. It all feels very natural. 
SGP: 631 - 84 points. 

 

 

Glen Grant 19 yo 1999/2018 (49.8%, OB ‘Distillery Only’, cask #1, 94 bottles)

Glen Grant 19 yo 1999/2018 (49.8%, OB ‘Distillery Only’, cask #1, 94 bottles) 
Colour: burnished gold. Nose: we’re in far more active wood territories here but it’s an extremely clean and highly polished nose. Lots of butter, furniture polish, canvas, baking parchment, scone mix, sultanas in calvados, lemon oils and some very delicate waxiness. Reminiscent of some old style Glen Grant initially in some ways. Continues with things like fennel seed, toasted brown bread, mandarin liqueur and a wee touch of cough mixtures. Very nice! Mouth: more big polished notes such as beeswax and shoe polish. Some gentle sootiness, orchard fruits and green fruit syrups. Pear eau de vie, blossoms, nectar, putty, lime curd, gentle waxes and runny honey. Sweet flapjack with raisins and dried fruits. A hearty bowl of fruit-heavy muesli drizzled with honey. Finish: medium in length and still with these peeping notes of waxes, carbon paper, citrus peels and developing more towards the raw ingredients such as fresh malt and crisp cereals. Comments: Something of a surprise, an extremely lovey and pleasurable wee Glen Grant. I love the little entertaining nods to older school characteristics. 
SGP: 651 - 87 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 25 yo 1992/2018 (50.4%, Cadenhead’s Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 144 bottles)

Glen Grant 25 yo 1992/2018 (50.4%, Cadenhead’s Single Cask, bourbon barrel, 144 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: very much the same distillate, just older. Similar bountiful notes of orchard fruits, but here you can also add wee hints of mango, guava and papaya. Some green banana, a touch of wormwood, cinnamon swirl pastries, caramelised oatmeal and a very elegant wee thread of wax running throughout. Hints of orange vitamin tablets in mineral water, bay leaf and dried mint. With water: develops more towards the raw cereal aspects. A little soot, some toast, trail mix with sultanas and a few soft wood resins. Mouth: spiced mead, bouillon, some root vegetables roasted in honey, a dusting of paprika, lime oil, lemon zest, ink, pink peppercorns, heather honey, blossoms, earthy turmeric. Just great! With water: a little drier, again more cereal, more lemon peel, grapefruit pith, herbal ointments and a little bit of rice pudding with nutmeg. Finish: good length. Rather fresh, delicately fruity with notes of cider apple, some straw, plain malt, gristy notes and various dried herbs - notably thyme and bay leaf. Comments: How can anyone not be charmed by Glen Grant? A top notch mature example that is superbly quaffable and treads a perfect tightrope between distillate and cask. 
SGP: 641 - 88 points. 

 

 

Thanks Dirk!

 

 

 

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


March 2019 - part 1 <--- March 2019 - part 2 ---> Current entries


 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Bladnoch 1973/1989 (55.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #50.1)

Glenallachie-Glenlivet 26 yo 1992/2019 (54.8%, Cadenhead, hogshead, 240 bottles)

Lagavulin 27 yo 1991/2018 (54.4%, OB, hogshead, cask #1515, 222 bottles)

Macallan 10 yo ‘100° proof’ (100° proof, OB, +/-1978)

Pluscarden Valley 14 yo (57.4%, Sestante, 75cl, +/-1985)

Springbank 1965/1987 (60.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #27.9)

Springbank 22 yo 1996/2018 (55%, Claxton’s, bourbon hogshead, cask #1850-54, 249 bottles)

Springbank 9 yo 2009/2018 ‘Local Barley’ (57.7%, OB, 9700 bottles)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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