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Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2021 - Part 2

       

March 2021 - part 1 <--- March 2021 - part 2 ---> April 2021 - part 1

 

March 31, 2021


Whiskyfun

Little duos, Knockando official vs. independent

The little black hill. Not a very common session, as indie Knockandos are so rare. So I'm glad to be able to do this, even if it won't shake the whisky world or make the chatteratti blink an eye.

Knockando 21 yo 1997 'Master Reserve' (43%, OB, +/-2020)

Knockando 21 yo 1997 'Master Reserve' (43%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
I've always had a soft spot for these very realistically priced bottles that are, in France, rather positioned as some ueber-Cardhu. So they're rather 'budget' and do sometimes appeal to blend drinkers. Some true access-category malt that you'll find at around 55€. For a 21 yo!  Colour: gold. Nose: you'd almost believe you're nosing a can of Ovaltine powder. Well I suppose it's better than a malt whisky would be very malty if you want to catch drinkers of J&B and assorted light boozes. Also chocolate and oranges, Jaffa cakes, chocolate bars, cornflakes, a little pipe tobacco, toasts… I think I like it much more than last time, but it was a different vintage. Mouth: frankly this goes down well, it's perfectly dry, even a little on salted ham and soy sauce, with good walnuts (cake), brownies, and indeed Ovaltine. Touches of mushrooms too, it's getting pretty earthy, but just not as drying as other batches. A little honey too. Finish: medium, on mead, chocolate, coffee, tobacco and once again, a touch of salt. A little sweet and sour sauce in the aftertaste, teriyaki-style. Comments: really a lot of black chocolate in this one! Frankly, I find it excellent and possibly in progress, while I used to prefer the youngest expressions of K.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Knockando 12 yo 2007/2020 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #304102-304106)

Knockando 12 yo 2007/2020 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #304102-304106) Three stars and a half
This could be Knockando without any 'sherry', perhaps in the style of the superb old 12s from, well, 30 years ago. Or maybe is it nothing, just an average Speysider like they have millions of casks over there in Caledonia. Let's see… Colour: white wine. Nose: rather all on fruity and sour, doughy malt. We're nosing some fresh-crushed barley with drops of lemon juice and pils beer. Perhaps gueuze as well, certainly fresh baguette, with then subtler notes of brand new books and newspapers, including a little ink, of course. Whisky for bookworms? Mouth: it's really amusing that we would be this close to the official 21 despite the obvious lack of anything 'sherry'. Which means that this very 'Ovaltine/Ovomaltine' style does come from the distillate. All for the better of you ask me, this is perfect if you ever need to show anyone the difference between any whisky and 'malt' whisky. Some chocolate too, dry energy bars, Guinness… Finish: medium, very malty. More Guinness. Comments: really a showcase bottle to have in your bar. Want malt whisky, my friend?
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Happy with these 'No can do', as our dear Italian friends would say. Well, both have been very malty indeed. See you.

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

 

March 30, 2021


Whiskyfun

Time Warp

The Time Warp Sessions,
today Mannochmore

We always liked to do these kinds of set-ups, but there aren't that many opportunities to do so these days. It's to be remembered that Mannochmore is a relatively recent distillery, as it started 'burning' only in 1971. And then, they made Loch Dhu out of it… (joking!)

Mannochmore 11 yo 2008/2020 (52.5%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #16612, 338 bottles) Mannochmore 11 yo 2008/2020 (52.5%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #16612, 338 bottles)

Mannochmore 11 yo 2008/2020 (52.5%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #16612, 338 bottles) Four stars
Colour: very pale white wine. Expect some distillate-driven whisky. Nose: perfect on all accounts. Lemon and green apple, chalk and grist, cupcake and teas. That would be matcha cupcakes. Perfect raw clean textured malt whisky. With water: more on porridge and tapioca soup, perhaps. Oats, marrow, bouillon… That's superb and to me, works like Proust's madeleine. Mouth (neat): excellent, clean, tight and narrow spirit. A Sylvaner of malt whisky; shall we say. More lemons, green apples, breads, cakes, and then these fruits that, in my humble experience, are often to be found in good young 'naked' Speysiders, gooseberries and greengages. Impeccably clean. With water: sweeter and rounder, rather deep into barley flavours, as well as lemons and white beers. Finish: long, grassier. Apples and sourdough. Comments: the splendours of refill wood on a good distillate. A bit un-modern, perhaps?
SGP:551 - 86 points.

And so the older counterpart…

Mannochmore 18 yo 1977/1996 (60.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Mannochmore 18 yo 1977/1996 (60.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Three starsAh those small cream labels, always reassuringly telling you that the whisky was matured in an oak cask… It's true that amaranth and blackwood were already rather too expensive back in the days. Colour: straw. Nose: typical benzene, muesli, sourdough, fruit peelings, fermenting grass, then aspirin, chalk and clay. There, fresh concrete while we're at it. With water: this wonderful feeling of smelling black earth after a heavy shower. And the craziest pumpernickel. Mouth (neat): very medicinal, sour and waxy, with this feeling of sucking a bit of plastic. Frankly, I'm really not too sure now, I've even heard that Elon Musk is buying up all these bottles at auctions to make fuel for SpaceX out of them. With water: plastics and waxes, on sour cream and whey. Finish: long, grassy, perhaps a little gentler this time, with notes of white currant wine. Tried that once in my life but I'll remember it forever. Clay and sourdough are back in the aftertaste. Comments: cubist whisky, really. Very hard to score, should we really need to score it.
SGP:362 - 80 points.

(Merci Tim!)

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

 

March 29, 2021


Whiskyfun

Tullibardine, an independent quintet

Tullibardine's a bit like Fettercairn, Glenturret, or even Edradour as the latter used to be two decades ago, unpredictable. So, some ups and some downs but on the other hand, the ravages of modern oak/wine-driven whisky production (nutshell, all good, all the same) are now making those idiosyncrasies stand out more and more. Unless them too would be starting to bury their singular makes under tons of vanillin or PX… Let's see what we have…

Tullibardine 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, bourbon, 2020)

Tullibardine 13 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, bourbon, 2020) Three stars
There's been some excellent 1993s by CAD lately, but this ought to be a 2007. Colour: white wine. Nose: as expected, full of crushed bitter leaves (some kind of rustic pesto), ginger, leather, rye dough, natural rubber and just plain grass. Notes of avocado juice in the background, with a little guava too, which makes it easier for sure. Mouth: rather raw, eau-de-vie-ish, on kirschwasser and damson spirit, then oatcakes and perhaps sour cherries. Then rather more bitter, with a lot of tea, bitter almonds and just green wood. Finish: rather long, more on breads and citrus, as well as more green tea and ginger. More sour cherries in the aftertaste. Comments: very rustic but rather charming. One for your hipflask, I would advise.
SGP:361 - 80 points.

Let's try another 13…

Tullibardine 13 yo 2007/2020 (59.3%, Golden Cask, cask #CM263, 219 bottles)

Tullibardine 13 yo 2007/2020 (59.3%, Golden Cask, cask #CM263, 219 bottles) Three stars and a half
Unless I'm wrong, Tullibardine has been belonging to small French group 'Terroir Distillers' for around ten years now. Terroir in whisky indeed… Colour: white wine. Nose: same make as that of the Cadenhead, just a tad fruitier but that may well be the higher ABV. Dough, grass, cherry leaves, oranges. With water: some beeswax arising, bicycle inner tube, bitter almonds, amaretti… Mouth (neat): good sweet green fruits in abundance, especially granny smith, kiwis, then paraffin and Seville oranges. Notes of raw kirschwasser as well. With water: much sweeter now and rather all on barley water, with some orange drops and melon sherbet. The core remains a little grassy though. Finish: rather long, on candyfloss and marshmallows. Cherry stems and green tea in the aftertaste. Comments: the fruits woke up when water was added. Solid drop.
SGP:561 - 83 points.

Perhaps a modern youngster…

Tullibardine 5 yo 2015/2020 (56%, Dram Mor, 1st fill oloroso, cask #9900098)

Tullibardine 5 yo 2015/2020 (56%, Dram Mor, 1st fill oloroso, cask #9900098) Four stars
Distillation by the 'new' owners, obviously. Let's see if this is another Kavalan of Scotland… Colour: amber. Nose: but of course. Butterscotch, maple syrup, a little acetone, raisins soaked in rum, café latte (that'll be +5€, thank you), Nutella. Had the cask been STRised? With water: same plus a little chicken bouillon, with mandatory parsley and bits of chives. A drop of Bovril too. Mouth (neat): the cherry-leaf side of Tullibardine's well there, so the heavy cask treatment did not completely erase any distillery character this time, but the rest is on varnish, roasted nuts, halva, butterscotch, and some sweet wine, perhaps around Rivesaltes, other vins doux naturels etc. So, basically, raisins. With water: once again it got a tad meatier after reduction, also more on walnuts, on classic oloroso-type flavours… Finish: long, kind of on dry Mexican chocolate sauce. It's good fun to see it getting drier and drier over time, which is great as sugars will kill any finish/aftertaste in my book. Comments: excellent dram, but what was the distillery again? Joking. Partly.
SGP:452 - 85 points.

Tullibardine 2013/2019 (53.6%, Or Sileis, Craftsman Selection, sherry, cask #10523693, 111 bottles)

Tullibardine 2013/2019 (53.6%, Or Sileis, Craftsman Selection, sherry, cask #10523693, 111 bottles) Four stars
Our friends in Taiwan are doing every effort with their colourful labels. Colour: deep gold. Nose: some care has been given to the wood here, which was pretty active. Vanilla and mangos, then papayas and bananas, then praline and brioche, then raisins and a wee drop of prune sauce (hoisin). No complains whatsoever, even if once again, distillery character may have been swept under the carpet, so to speak. With water: whiffs of menthol and verbena rising to your nostrils. That just always works. Mouth (neat): very good, sweet and spicy, with excellent citrus, pomelos, marmalade, coriander perhaps, a little sweet curry, crème catalane, Stolle… With water: perfect modern malt whisky. Vanilla, tropical fruits, mentholy herbs, citrus, Thai spices, brioche. Globalised Scotch malt whisky – again, no complains here. Finish: rather long, perfect, fresh, balanced, with good citrus and passion fruits. Vanilla in the signature. Comments: very excellent dram, but which was the distillery again?
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Tullibardine 14 yo 2006/2020 (55.3%, Lady of the Glen, rum barrel finish, cask #36, 218 bottles)

Tullibardine 14 yo 2006/2020 (55.3%, Lady of the Glen, rum barrel finish, cask #36, 218 bottles) Four stars
Rather double maturation than a simple finishing, as it spent half of its life in the rum cask (I know some friends who would happily do the same – no, they're not named Diogenes). Colour: light gold. Nose: crushed bananas, chamomile, tangerines, barley syrup, cane syrup, beeswax, orange blossom honey, panettone… But wait, this is awesome! With water: big whiffs of natural 'bourbon' vanilla, Meursault, Champagne blanc de blancs, milk chocolate... This is truly awesome indeed. Mouth (neat): very good, with superb waxy citrus, tangerines galore, oranges, more oranges, even more oranges… In truth we've left Whiskydom, but this is so nice that no one would even consider think of complaining about that. With water: old-skool herbal liqueurs and just a little too much paraffin – is that the distillate speaking out? Citron liqueur. Finish: medium, clean, citrusy, rounded, with some honey and some beeswax. More cane syrup too. Comments: I say do this again.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Pleasant session, they never stopped getting better. In Alsatian – and German, we call this a 'Himmelsleiter'. There, say it… Now, God is at 100/100. Just saying…

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

 

March 28, 2021


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!

 

Our traditional bag of rums on Sunday

This and that from various corners of our world…

Darboussier 'Rhum Vieux Hors d'Âges" (45%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2020)

Darboussier 'Rhum Vieux Hors d'Âges" (45%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2020) Three stars
A brand name that refers to an ancient sugar factory in Guadeloupe. I don't think it is agricole, rather 'rhum de sucrerie', so molasses-based. Colour: golden amber. Nose: I find it extremely floral and fruity, rather on lilies and dandelions, pineapples and ripe bananas, touches of litchi, muscat and gewurztraminer, then rather some heather honey, so it's all very aromatic, yet nicely fresh and certainly not too heady. Lovely whiffs of crushed Szechuan pepper too, quinces, red apricots, pink grapefruits... Lovely indeed, hope the palate won't be too sweet. Mouth: absolutely not, I'm rather finding a little furniture polish and varnish, some salted liquorice, salted chocolate, a little butterscotch, paprika, then dried bananas. The saltiness is both intriguing and welcome. Salted fudge. Finish: medium, very clean, caramelly, sweet but never sugarish. Pretty good. Comments: I believe this is made by Madras in Pointe-à-Pitre but don't quote me. I wasn't expecting much.
SGP:641 - 81 points.

Another Frenchy at 45% vol…

Depaz 7 yo 'VSOP' (5%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2019)Depaz 7 yo 'VSOP' (5%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2019)

Depaz 7 yo 'VSOP' (5%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
Depaz is agricole, obviously. Probably rather drier than the surprisingly pleasant Darboussier. Colour: deep gold. Nose: more varnish at first, then damp earth and a dirtyish, almost dunnage-y development. Some overripe or even rotting fruits, especially bananas, then pine needles, resin, something terpenic, overripe pineapples… Clearly some action here, but curious about how that'll translate onto our palate… Mouth: the Darboussier was probably a little 'commercial', while this isn't, at all. More rotting fruits, peelings, heavy liquorice over fir honey and resins, stewed peaches, something a little metallic… In a way, you may call this 'a Glenturret from Martinique'. If you see what I mean… Finish: rather long, a tad sweer and sour, with some old oak. Strawberry yoghurt in the aftertaste. Comments:
SGP:551 - 79 points.

Off to Guyana…

Port Mourant 17 yo 2002/2020 (51.7%, The Rum Mercenary, Guyana)

Port Mourant 17 yo 2002/2020 (51.7%, The Rum Mercenary, Guyana) Four stars and a half
I have a good feeling here… Colour: gold. Nose: it is one of those very petroly batches, very dry, very much on carbon dust, brake pads, olive brine, capers, samphires, engine oil, with something acetic if not vinegary. You cannot not think of Jamaica. With water: whiffs of geranium – no worries though – then olive oil, old hessian, perhaps a little green pesto, and just seawater. Mouth (neat): at first you'd almost believe there was a little peat involved here. Then the much expected olives, both green and black, small pickled artichokes, fermenting cane juice (vesou), perhaps manioc beer (nihamanchi). With water: a little sweeter (small dried sultanas), and certainly earthier. Fun that it actually got rather less 'funky' after reduction. Pineapple chutney. Finish: long, a tad smoother than other middle-aged PMs, perhaps. Comments: yet it's another excellent one, more distillate-driven than the ones that are fully aged in the tropics.
SGP:553 - 89 points.

Diamond 17 yo 2003/2020 (59.3%, The Duchess, Guyana, cask #26)

Diamond 17 yo 2003/2020 (59.3%, The Duchess, Guyana, cask #26) Four stars
A good feeling here too. Colour: gold. Nose: rather more varnish, bark, butterscotch, quince jelly, pear cake... In short and unless the high voltage numbs it a wee bit, it's probably not a high-ester Diamond. The liquorice is loud though. With water: varnish and preserved fruits, with notes of rose petals and vetiver. Definitely not one that's very high on petrol and olives. Mouth (neat): a tad hot and spirity but mind you, 59.3% vol. With water: there, some salt, olive oil, seawater, salted liquorice, anchovies… Finish: long and rather on liquorice, seawater, and fermenting fruits. Say strawberries. Perfect aftertaste on cough drops. What we call 'Pulmoll'. Comments: another very excellent one by The Duchess. Hope she's not the Duchess of Sussex behind this lovely little company (oh S., come on!)
SGP:562 - 87 points.

Oh, we had this in the boxes…

Sixty Six 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (59%, OB, Foursquare, Barbados, +/-2016)

Sixty Six 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (59%, OB, Foursquare, Barbados, +/-2016) Four stars
One of Foursquare's brands. Not sure where it sits in the range, but doesn't any truth only lie in your glass anyway? (one of the most stupid sayings in the world if you ask me). I was about to try to do a silly joke with 'route 66 - root 66' and stuff but enough is enough. Colour: gold. Nose: it's a rounded, cake-y, fudge-y, panettone-y one. Some old Sauternes, some butterscotch, touch of cellulosic varnish, a few asparagus, bamboo shoots… Well, it is very 'Foursquare'. No wonder. With water: soft, on cakes, amaretti, macaroons, even meringues if you will… And cane 'honey'. Mouth (neat): could be that there would be more 'column' Foursquare in this, and consequently, less 'pot-still'. What's sure is that it's rather more bourbony than other Foursquares, a tad more on vanilla and, well vanilla vodka. Some sourer wood too. With water: soft and very good. Scones and pancakes with some maple syrup and more cane honey. Good vanilla-led coating, in the style of some bourbons. You'd even swear there is some rye in this. Finish: medium, sweeter, on nougat, with a little bubblegum. Comments: I agree it's a little bizarre to call a rum at 59% vol. 'Foursquare light'. Nevertheless, I find it very good.
SGP:640 - 85 points.

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

 

March 27, 2021


Whiskyfun

MJ

Happy International Whisk(e)y Day!

Every year since 2008, the original, truly 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!

I would add that I'm proud that we could raise £4,470 for Parkinson's UK with the sale of Whiskyfun's cask of Kornog earlier this year, and would suggest you donate, say the price of a lousy blend to this very worthy cause yourself, in remembrance of Michael Jackson.
Cheers, pace e salute! - S.

  Parkinson's

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Remembering Michael Jackson on his birthday
I met Michael Jackson only once, at Whisky Live Glasgow in 2005. I was only 19 at the time and yet I remember the conversation very clearly.

 

I introduced myself and informed him I was a fan of his writing and what sticks in my head most of all is that he listened to what I had to say and took the time to answer. He also asked me some questions in return and was generous with his time in a way he didn't need to be. He took time and paid attention and was completely charming and authentic. Someone who clearly loved whisky and beer as an enthusiast first and foremost.

 

 

The lasting impression for me is that he was a writer, and a man, with humility and not too much ego. Someone who was interested in people as much as in their products, unfussy and genuinely curious. It was a long way from any number of other whisky 'people' I've encountered over the years who have been boringly wrapped up in their own legend. I wish I'd known him properly and had occasion to share a dram with him and talk at length. But, as it is, he left a lasting and important legacy in the way we write about whisky, and the language and systems of communication we use to describe it.

 

 

Seeing as today is his birthday, let's begin with two of Scotland's newest single malts. It strikes me that, if he were still with us, he'd be just as excited as many of us continue to be about whisky and the promising times ahead for those of us interested in quality and characterful single malts.

 

 

Torabhaig 2017/2020 (46%, OB, Inaugural Release, Legacy Series, first fill bourbon, cask #300-600, 32,000 bottles)

Torabhaig 2017/2020 (46%, OB, Inaugural Release, Legacy Series, first fill bourbon, cask #300-600, 32,000 bottles)
To tell you the truth, life must be passing me by in a blur; I hardly even knew there was another distillery on Skye, let along that it was of age already. Anyway, I think it's cool that they would release such a large batch for their first bottling so that many folks could actually taste it. I've heard nothing but good reports about this one but let's see what, precisely, is what… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: look, I know Skye only has Talisker besides this, but there is something 'Skye-ish' about this already. This assertive but polite mix of yeasty breads, lemon peel, chalk, white flowers and wet rocks all feels like it could pass for some young Talisker. There's a mineral edge as well, chalky, briny, salty, flinty and precise. Really, three years old you say? Mouth: taut, pristine and rather sharp. Lemon juice, sheep wool, lighter petrol notes, caraway and ink. Not just good young whisky, but good whisky full stop. Feels very pure, coastal and saline. Some very slight farmyard aspects too, such as this persistent sheep wool oiliness, and some nice white peppery notes. Finish: good length, briny, anchovies in oil, a slight camphor note and becoming more medical with embrocations and a little TCP. Some more gristy and yeasty aspects in the aftertaste betray some youthful imbalance perhaps. Comments: pristine, modern peated malt whisky. Are we perhaps entering an age where many such malts can easily reach a baseline of quality after only 3 years? I still find this charismatic and feel like time will only improve things. What a great start for a new distillery, I can't wait to go up and visit!
SGP: 366 - 86 points.

 

 

Dornoch 3 yo 2017/2020 (59.4%, OB, Thompson bros. first fill ex-oloroso butt, cask #1, 893 bottles)
Dornoch 3 yo 2017/2020 (59.4%, OB, Thompson bros. first fill ex-oloroso butt, cask #1, 893 bottles)

Dornoch 3 yo 2017/2020 (59.4%, OB, Thompson bros. first fill ex-oloroso butt, cask #1, 893 bottles)
The first bottling from some great friends who have made an unequivocally impressive achievement with their crazy micro distillery up there in Dornoch. When I talk about the coming decade of whisky being an exciting one, these are exactly the type of folk I'm referring to. Colour: gold. Nose: what is great is that you immediately know this is something different. It is not 'business as usual' whisky production. There's some sharpness of youth and some grisliness from the sherry that time might have further ironed out, but this is nit picking. What comes through most impressively is aromas of moss, agave, roasted vegetables (they like their turnips up there in Dornoch) clay, putty, camphor and caraway. Mashy, pulpy, mineral, greasy and oily. In short: the impression of texture and fatness is huge and impressive: a 'new' highlands style perhaps? Quite unlike anything else really. With water: more harmony between the spirit and the cask, the slightly salty, bacon notes of sherry mix with marzipan and almond oil. There's also fruit teas and hessian. Mouth: sharp to begin, then extremely bready and spicy, the sherry and distillate together delivery a lot of rye bread flavours and dark fruits. Also some bitter chocolate, unlit cigar, camphor, olive oil and bouillon stock. With water: very good now. Salty, wonderfully savoury and umami, these persistent breads, dark grains and spices, still slightly vegetal, earthy and with nice tobacco touches. Finish: long, spicy, bready, light notes of cured meats such as Iberico ham, and some tiny wee green fruits. Comments: what is important to remember here is that this really is the first cask filled. To get things this good on a first go and at three years old is hugely impressive in some ways. But in other ways perhaps it says a lot too about the fact that making good whisky is not technically mysterious - you simply need willpower, understanding and a business model designed around the value of quality over quantity. Oh, and a shit load of cash helps too! Anyway, bunnets aff' to the Thompsons…
SGP: 651 - 88 points.

 

 

If you don't mind, we'll also pay a quick visit to Campbeltown. After all, when it comes to whisky, looking to the future is best done with one eye on the past…

 

 

Springbank 26 yo 1993/2020 (51.1%, OB for Virtual Open Day 2020, two refill hogsheads, 432 bottles)

Springbank 26 yo 1993/2020 (51.1%, OB for Virtual Open Day 2020, two refill hogsheads, 432 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: some 93s are a bit wobbly in my view, but that is certainly not the case here. A stunning and direct aroma bristling with coastal freshness, waxes, beach pebbles, chalk, herbal teas and delicately scented with peat smoke. Pin sharp and totally sublime. With water: medicines, herbs, beach wood, canvass, rapeseed oil, lemongrass, tiger balm. Controlled, yet also complex. We're flying extremely high here. Mouth: totally brilliant! Textually perfect, waxy, thready notes of smoked olive oil, camphor, sandalwood, tea tree oil, bergamot, tangerine, dried papaya, generally a few notches more tropical than other casks from these vintages. But overall the sense of coastal vigour, waxy thickness and general Springbank power is just wonderful. With water: exquisite. Complex, powerful, elegantly peaty, perfectly coastal, chiselled notes of dried flowers, honeys, medicines, wood saps, precious teas. Finish: long, warming, honeyed, flecked with peat, olive oil, natural tar, verbena, medical ointments and sandalwood. Comments: a stunner! Probably the best 1993 Springbank I ever tried.
SGP: 563 - 93 points.

 

 

Longrow 1987/1999 (55%, Samaroli, cask #141)

Longrow 1987/1999 (55%, Samaroli, cask #141)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: take one part 70s Ardbeg, one part 80s Brora and one part 90s Springbank and… sell them at auction!!!! No, I'm kidding. But this is a nose that immediately suggests some kind of distillery mash up. Stunning oily and tarry peat, leathery camphor, seawater, iodine, fir wood and this medicinal accent that shares much DNA with those mid-90s Springbanks. Beyond that there's also tiny notes of coconut, roof pitch, Bonjella (medicine for mouth ulcers, I know, delicious!) and smoked fish. With water:  extremely pure now, on almonds, wet seaweed, driftwood, oysters and lime slices in pickling juice. Mouth: not as complex as the nose. More singular around tarry rope, oily peat, boiler fumes, black pepper, motor oil, camphor and salt-baked fish. Powerful and immensely charismatic, there's no other whisky quite like Longrow when it is on top form! With water: some kind of dystopian Monster Munch doused in kerosine. Totally brilliant! Finish: long, peaty, deeply oily, tarry, medicinal, crisply smoky and totally its own thing. Comments: because I don't try it very often, and because it can be variable on occasion, it's easy to forget just how much I bloody love Longrow!
SGP: 476 - 93 points.

 

 

Longrow 25 yo 1994/2020 (52.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 186 bottles)
Longrow 25 yo 1994/2020 (52.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 186 bottles)

Longrow 25 yo 1994/2020 (52.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 186 bottles)
Let us humbly try this without thinking too much about a certain North Star bottling which may or may not have been totally stunning… Colour: gold. Nose: gah! Stunning, yet again. Please prepare you smallest violins if you will. Exquisitely coastal, elegant, riddled with bandages, gauze, medicinal-accented peat smoke, touches of brine, dried seaweed, metal polish, iodine and shellfish boiling in seawater. You might also add smoked olive oil, preserved lemons, natural tar extract and sandalwood. Totally beautiful. With water: a guttural, gravelly minerality, also some green pepper and muddled fresh herbs. So, added freshness you might say. Mouth: immensely rich, mouth-coating and with a sublimely leathery peatiness. Tar, pepper, medicine, seawater, camphor, grapefruit, ointments, herbal liqueurs - just show-stopping. With water: it's the depth and breadth of the palate simultaneously expanding that is so impressive. Just keeps on giving and evolving. Finish: wonderfully long, oily, peaty, medical, fat and yet also still with freshness, citrus, coal smoke and seashore notes. Comments: if today's session were a poker hand, let's just say I'd happily be putting Serge's Aston Martin keys in the pot without hesitation!
SGP: 466 - 93 points.

 

 

Three times 93! I suspect Mr Jackson would have found that far too generous as he was a notoriously strict scorer. But then again, I wonder what he'd have made of many modern NAS bottlings today?

 

 

Big hugs to Andy and Catriona! And here's to Michael Jackson. 

 

 

 

 

March 25, 2021


Whiskyfun

Fight

Wee battles,
today Allt-A-Bhainne

 

I'll have to say it again, this ought to be pronounced 'Alt-ah-vanya' but if you're not 100% sure you'll nail it, you'd rather use 'Alta-bain' instead of making a fool of yourself (as I do myself all the time when in Scotland, they keep directing me to the Tourist Office!)

Allt-a-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (51.3%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 241 bottles)

Allt-a-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (51.3%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 241 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: light gold. Nose: ooh, this is right up my alley. Allt-A-Bhainne, are we sure? Limoncello, croissants, kiwis, rhubarb, a few cream eggs, touch of aloe vera, touch of custard… I find this splendidly modest, all natural, un-made-up, and so pretty perfect this far. Unless water kills it: of course it doesn't. More grass and green tea, all subtle and fresh. Touches of hops too, I believe. Mouth (neat): sweets and liqueurs, citrus first, then green fruits indeed, kiwis, rhubarb, candied angelica. Tangerine drops with a touch of coriander. Or there, mezcal lollypops, the ones where they add gusanos a.k.a. maguey worms inside. They're scary, not all kids love them. With water: pink pepper! Timut or Szechuan-style, this is brilliant, they're pretty citrusy and I know foodistas who find them too easy. I don't, I love them. Finish: medium, on just a little more of all that. Leaves you palate as fresh as Himalayan spring water. Comments: are we totally sure this is Allt-A-Bhainne?
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Allt-Â-Bhainne 24 yo 1995/2020 (57.9%, Golden Cask, cask # CM264, 202 bottles)

Allt-Â-Bhainne 24 yo 1995/2020 (57.9%, Golden Cask, cask # CM264, 202 bottles) Four stars
The excellent folks at Whisky-Online tell us that a large part of A-A-B's output goes into 100 Pipers. Ha. By the way, we have to applaud the fact that House of Macduff have written the name correctly, so with the accent on the A in the middle. Allt-Â-Bhainne. Colour: pale gold. Nose: probably more cask influence here, as there's more obvious coconut water and lanolin, putty, even a wee feeling of nosing a glass of Malibu. Which, naturally, not many people do but there, nice nose. Some Cointreau or Grand-Marnier as well. With water: rather bread and vanilla, maize bread, warm polenta, leaven... We always like that. Mouth (neat): very punchy! This is almost raw tequila indeed, although not one of the grassiest ones. Grapefruit liqueur, starfruit, grass, a feeling of cactus (but agave's no cactus)… With water: the palate's really not similar to the nose, it's much tenser, grassier, lemony…. Some sourness too, something that I enjoy as well. Finish: long, on lemon and grapefruit juices. Some pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: another lovely drop and a good fighter. The palate might not be for everyone.
SGP:471 - 85 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Allt-A-Bhainne we've tasted so far

 

March 24, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions
Number Eighteen
We'll just keep exploring the world – and remote places in Scotland as well. Let's see what we have today…

High Coast 'Alba' (53%, OB, Sweden, 2021)

High Coast 'Alba' (53%, OB, Sweden, 2021) Four stars
This one's brand new. I suppose 'Alba' refers to Quercus Alba a.k.a. white oak a.k.a. American oak. Colour: dark gold. Nose: shall we call this the Scandinavian style? Just because it's got some smoke and some deep pine oils – or sauna oils? What's sure is that we do really experience 'a sense of the place' here, with all necessary cognitive myopia. We're so far from Scandinavia! With water: typical, custard, polenta, tapioca… Fresh American oak well mastered (I love semolina). And pencil shavings. Mouth (neat): rich, very spicy, pine-y, resinous. Some grapefruit and some pepper sauce, sriracha (how very Scandinavian, S.) plus just wood extracts. It is a different territory, perhaps a little bit between whisky and gin, not that there's anything wrong with that. What's more it's certainly not boring, while it is 'different' when so many distilleries are just churning out the same whiskies (since they believe the wood makes the whisky whilst they all use the same woods – ha). With water: as always with whiskies that have been seriously oaked, careful with water. Otherwise, this works well and brings out salt and liquorice. Finish: long, spicy, smoky, fresh, rather more citrusy. Lapsang souchong and hochicha (roasted tea). Comments: the oak is a tad heavy but actually, the combo works and makes it all wonderfully Scandinavian. I told you, cognitive myopia.
SGP:475 - 86 points.
sw

Off to bonnie Scotland…

Dalmunach 4 yo 2016/2020 (52.5%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, cask # 10828343, 84 bottles)

Dalmunach 4 yo 2016/2020 (52.5%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, cask # 10828343, 84 bottles)
Wouldn't you say it's a little strange that the first Dalmunach to ever reach WF's doorstep would be an indie that was ueber-activated in a tiny cask? As you may know, Dalmunach is Chivas/Pernod's new cat that started burning only in 2014. Indeed this is a first… Colour: amber gold. Nose: butterscotch, beer eau-de-vie (we make that in Alsace) and just Zwetchkewasser, with some notes of rubber from the almonds/stones. Raw, really. With water: no. Distilled beer, rubber, walnut stain, new plywood. Mouth (neat): raw, aggressive, very spirity, rubbery, with some bitter caramel, a lot of coffee, and some caraway. Some would say this is pretty challenging. They would be right if you ask me. With water: a tad better but it's just too rubbery, too young, too immature and aggressive. Finish: long but unpleasant. Comments: unnecessary, in my humble opinion. I wouldn't quite fathom why Pernod would have left these batches leave their stable. Good, I think we'll wait for some further, say ten years before we try our next Dalmunach, okay?
SGP:261 - 55 points.
sc

Off to Israel...

Golan Heights 3 yo (66.2%, Mashing, single grain, Israel, 2021)

Golan Heights 3 yo (66.2%, Mashing, single grain, Israel, 2021) Three stars and a half
An independent bottling of Golan Heights! I so admire these tiny and fearless set-ups and operations that are full of passion and pride. This was distilled from 60% Israeli wheat and 40% Belgian malt and basically, successively matured in two different Israeli wine casks. It all sounds a tiny tad unlikely, but at least I'm sure this will not bore us to death. I'll have to visit Israel one day. Colour: full gold. Nose: it's not grainy, I mean empty and soulless, not at all. But it is full of cakes, shortbread, butterscotch, pudding, gueuze (is that the Belgian malt?) then popcorn and maize bread, barley water, white chocolate… What's sure is that this is curiously 'noseable' at 66% vol. No obvious winey notes, hurray. With water: more of all that while quite funnily, it got hotter! Frankly, I'm finding it rather malty. Mouth (neat): it's a bit hot, mind you. Very hot. Praline and puréed chestnut, plus rocket fuel. I mean, it's really too strong. Quick, with water: really good. Chestnut liqueur and cake, praline, rich beer, a little pear liqueur, fig liqueur… Finish: medium, a tad lighter now, but we're still not experiencing the feeling of 'blankness' that would stem from many a grain whisky. Could we see a photograph of the still? Comments: we should not expect the complexity that would stem from a 40 yo Clynelish, but frankly, I was not expecting this. I mean, this is three-year-old grain whisky!
SGP:451 - 83 points.
is

To Ireland for more grain…

Good Times 8 yo (45.6%, Simply Whisky, grain, Ireland, +/-2020)

Good Times 8 yo (45.6%, Simply Whisky, grain, Ireland, +/-2020) Two stars
Lovely 'chic' concept here (wow, S.!)  Colour: pale white wine. Nose: not something that I should like. White chocolate and popcorn, nougat, sweet maize, butter cream… That's pretty all and frankly, this could be Havana Club as well. Highly purified spirit, but I do not detect any other flaws. Mouth: are we sure this is not light Cuban rum? I mean, dead sure? More crème au beurre, white chocolate, popcorn and nougat… but at least we do not detect any heavy varnish. Finish: short. A drop of pastis in the aftertaste. Comments: it's really very light, but at least it won't ignite any fight. Not quite in the same cluster as that of the same bottlers' stunning 'Let's Dance' malt whisky (WF 87). Ha, grain.
SGP:330 - 75 points.
ei

That one was really light, let's select another (supposedly) light one…

Nikka 'Yoichi' (40%, OB, Japan, blended whisky, +/-2019)

Nikka 'Yoichi' (40%, OB, Japan, blended whisky, +/-2019) Two stars
So a Yoichi blend.  I think we already tried the Miyagikyo in the same funny series. I mean, only one question here, were all the whiskies produced at Yoichi or not?  Colour: straw. Nose: light, easy, cake-y, with wee whiffs of coal smoke and then pear liqueur. Very elementary, but there is something 'zen' to this one. But it's really very light, is it some homeopathic whisky? Mouth: it's light and it is not bad. Let's say it's subtle and even elegant, with some sawdust, tea, apples, nuts… But it is thin, despite these tiny notes of salted smoke that are coming to light. Finish: no, I've tried really hard and even tried to make good use of positive thinking, this remains too humble and just unnecessary. In the style of Johnnie Walker Red Label but I doubt they sell as many cases. Johnnie Red might be a little better, in truth. Comments: there are many Japanese bottlings that remain unknown in the West. Sometimes not for bad reasons, if you ask me, but don't get me wrong, this is good, very honourable blend. It's just not very 'Yoichi'.
SGP:341 - 76 points.
jp

(Merci Chris and Tim)

 

March 23, 2021


Whiskyfun

Five Irish

I agree I should have posted this on St. Pat's. No sense of timing and sensationalisation whatsoever: you should ask for a refund.

Secret Irish 17 yo 2002/2020 (48.7%, DramCatcher, barrel, cask #11464)

Secret Irish 17 yo 2002/2020 (48.7%, DramCatcher, barrel, cask #11464) Four stars
Some copy on the label leads us to believe this is single malt from Cooley. Colour: white wine. Nose: lovely drop, one of the better Cooleys. Mango cake, sweeter sunflower oil, pink bananas, melons, whiffs of menthol, fresh caraway seeds… It's not as bombastically fruity as the indie Bushmills, but I find this extremely well built and irreproachable. One of the better ones indeed, so far. Mouth: same feelings, lovely softer citrus, a wee touch of demerara syrup, melons, mangos, bananas… It's just a tad sweeter (as in 'sugar', ha) than we expected when nosing it. Finish: long and almost liqueury. No ideas where that came from, as it is impossible anyone added any forms of sugar to this lovely make. Comments: I'm reminded of Corsican 'Cédratine' here. Stuff for connoisseurs only.
SGP:741 - 87 points.

An Irish 17 yo 2002/2020 (51.6%, The Whisky Mercenary)

An Irish 17 yo 2002/2020 (51.6%, The Whisky Mercenary) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: to claim that this is similar would be an understatement. This one's just a tad grassier and more on leaves and stems, but that could clearly be because of the higher ABV. A little more kirshwasser too, but other than that, we're on those mangos and melons. And perhaps a drop of pear juice. With water: same herbs, oils and fruits, very lovely. Whiffs of wool, new sweater… Or new Irish cap, Peaky Blinders-style? Mouth (neat): a thick, hotter liqueur. Sugarcane syrup, tangerine liqueur, pear liqueur… All that at cask strength. With water: same as the DreamCatcher when at the same strength, more or less. Perhaps is this one a tad grassier, and a notch less liqueury? A hint of lovage in the back or the back of background. Finish: long and sweet, liqueury indeed. Comments: you could down 5 litres of each and keep wondering about those tiny differences here and there. No good move.
SGP:751 - 87 points.

Waterford 'Single Farm: Grattansbrook 1.1' (50%, OB, Irish, batch #F0312E01-01, 2021)

Waterford 'Single Farm: Grattansbrook 1.1' (50%, OB, Irish, batch #F0312E01-01, 2021) Five stars
I see no vintage on this new bottle and cannot not wonder if that's normal and sound that Waterford would have become Kings of Ireland this fast. Now, some names are really funny, I mean, Grattansbrook, that's singular! Colour: white wine. Nose: the raw materials, and most possibly 'terroir' even amplified. Breads, banana skin, some sweeter porridge, pumpernickel and muesli, Austrian riesling, toasted beech chips, semolina… Frankly, I couldn't tell you why, I'm finding an Austrian side to this one. Hope they won't take umbrage at Waterford. With water: entering a bakery at 5:30am. The smells of dozens of different fresh breads, all still warm. Mouth (neat): I know some good folks believe I'm exaggerating with my assessments of Waterford. I am not. I find this perfect. Citron is perfect, breads are perfect, doughs are perfect, everything's perfect in my opinion. I haven't even checked the 'cask-bill' (yet a new whisky term, ha) but I just don't care as long as you do not feel it. With water: candied bits of grapefruit and salt. Finish: long, spicier. Perhaps a wee tad too spicy/oaky? Was some French oak involved at some point? Comments: let's find something bad to say. Good, I find the blue of the bottle a little too dark, I would have gone for Pantone 19-4052 Classic Blue instead. No? Other than that, I'm finding this one a little more citrusy than others, but I'm not actually comparing them, while only comparison is reason. Right.
SGP:461 - 90 points.

We're probably too high already, it's going to become tough… Let's try…

Knappogue Castle 12 yo (43%, OB, Irish, bourbon cask, +/-2020)

Knappogue Castle 12 yo (43%, OB, Irish, bourbon cask, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
A single malt. You'll find this one at 40% vol. too but that's really lousy. Sadly no more vintages either, but a proper age will still do the trick. Knappogue Castle has always been a favourite within proper whisky circles. Colour: straw. Nose: nice, easy freshness, on ripe apples as well as pears and pineapples. Which, in truth, makes it nose younger than 12. Jackfruit, sweet oriental bread, sweetcorn, marshmallows… Mouth: rather light but good, with some citric hops, Seven Up, little sugar eggs, foam bananas, in short stuff that wrecks the teeth of our children. Finish: rather short but not too thin. Very sweet and sugary. Bonbons, liquorice allsorts… Comments: I find this more than acceptable. To be enjoyed on a pile of crushed ice, while remaking the world with good friends, around the pool, with Kid Creole and the Coconuts on the stereo.
SGP:630 - 78 points.

Good, a fifth Irish please… Perhaps one with a higher voltage?

Dingle 'Batch No. 4' (46.5%, OB, Irish, single pot still, 2020)

Dingle 'Batch No. 4' (46.5%, OB, Irish, single pot still, 2020) Two stars
What's a single pot still whisky, exactly? Do they do the first and the second run in the same still? This one was matured in bourbon and oloroso, and I believe no single drop was sourced here, it's proper in-house distillate. Ireland is tricky in that respect. I believe earlier batches of Dingle were too oak-driven, but things may have changed… Colour: gold. Nose: a lot of metal polish, old tin boxes, patchouli, then fresh paint and putty, then pink bananas and guavas. That's a combination that rather works. Fresh marzipan. Mouth: very unusual, very 'secondary', with some mentholated notes, rotting fruits, sweeter vegetables (beets, carrots, tinned peas) and a little touch of sulphur, between truffles and cabbage. Finish: medium, on cabbage soup and gingerbread. I know, a little unlikely. Comments: I would love to try one without any sherry, just to check where this sulphur was coming from, cask or spirit?
SGP:452 - 74 points.

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

 

March 22, 2021


Whiskyfun

Springbank #400
right after the Ides of March

Nothing Caesaresque or Brutusian here, I just wanted to have our 400th Springbank before the month was over, as we had said we'd try Springbank each and every month (since that's not doable with Brora anymore, anyway). But enough excuses, let's have our 400th…

WF S 400

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, +/-1995) Five stars
This one's nicknamed the 'jagged label' version but naturally, that's no official denomination. It could have been bottled a little earlier than 1995, but who knows… This is most probably early 1970s distillate, which wasn't that far from the 1960s, which means that we're instantly reminded of the 'Local Barleys', of the 'West Highland Malts', or simply of the earlier, bulkier bottles of 21 yo. Indeed, best of news.

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, +/-1995)

Colour: deep gold. Nose: so, chestnut and heather honeys, eucalyptus honey and beeswax, glazed chestnuts, something that's often to be found in old Springbanks and that we don't often mention since it's pretty obvious, old Cognac. Also sweet meats, beef jerky, or that dried Turkish meat that the Ottoman horsemen used to keep under their saddles and that's a bit reminiscent of pemican. I tried that once during some kind of historic dinner near Izmir and I'll remember it forever. But let's move on if you please(you, were babbling on, S.)… Mouth: it's this combination of power and elegance that's always been impressive. On the one hand, some rural peat, salt, earth, smoke, hay, mushrooms… And on the other side, some raisins, old cognac indeed, tobacco, old mint cordial, liquorice… It really is a perfect Springbank, and I think it's peatier than most others, as if some early Longrow had been poured into the vatting tank for good measure. So perhaps some single blend, actually? Tends to get tarrier too, even a little brutal. Finish: very long, bone-dry this time, a tad harsh, pleasantly so, more rustic now. Tobacco, tar and leaves, with a little plasticine and petrol in the aftertaste. Springbank indeed. Comments: perhaps more for the battlefield than for the library. Always a joy to try these series.
SGP:463 - 93 points.

So, happy 400th Springbank, Whiskyfun! Next…

Springbank 15 yo 1973/1989 'Ageing Monography' (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, 75cl)

Springbank 15 yo 1973/1989 'Ageing Monography' (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, 75cl) Five stars
Another brainwave by Sig. Samaroli, documenting the evolution of some similar whisky over the years, from the state of British Plain Spirit (18 months, almost newmake) to much older ages – actually to a 23 yo 1965. It's also quite interesting to see that M. Samaroli used to advise the buyers not to open the bottle before a specific time, to warrant 'massimo affinamento'. So, 'best after etc.' Colour: straw. Nose: a totally naked Springbank, without any sherry or apparent oak, which makes sense in this context. So a lot of shoe polish, concrete, lamp oil, huge notes of fern, eucalyptus, Diesel oil, then grapefruits and citrons, chalk, flints, Sancerres… Well, Samaroli's Springbanks were sometimes more or less in the same league as that of Giaccone's Clynelishes, that's all. With water: not too sure, I believe reduction was readymade. Tends to become a little cardboardy. Mouth (neat): rather sublime medicinal, herbal and chalky arrival, very chartreuse-y, petroly, oily, waxy, salty… But it tends not to unfold any further, which is a little unexpected. Perhaps with water? With water: rather similar, just a tad rounder. Touches of eucalyptus and lemon drops, cream eggs (for Easter!)… Finish: long, very lemony and salty. Superb chalkiness. Comments: totally superb indeed, I was just expecting just a little more complexity. In truth, I was expecting Clynelish Giaccone. Completely my fault. Careful with water; well, just don't add any.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

A newer one and we'll be done…

Springbank 25 yo 1994/2020 (45.4%, WhiskySponge, refill sherry hogshead, 209 bottles)

Springbank 25 yo 1994/2020 (45.4%, WhiskySponge, refill sherry hogshead, 209 bottles) Five stars
Have you heard that The Sponge was actually Kim Jong-il's secret cousin - the one that turned out fine? Colour: deep gold. Nose: completely different and that was to be expected. This time we're really on chocolate, black tea, dry tobacco and dried flowers, patchouli, mint tea, palo cortado, old walnuts, old wine cellar… We're really less 'refill' than 'refill'; I know what I'm trying to say. Over time some whiffs of old mentholy embrocations arise, together with these pine-y touches that are often to be found in very old cognacs or armagnacs, aplus very old chardonnay that oxidised rather beautifully. A nose for wine freaks? Was that done on purpose? Mouth: I see. Dry, salty, very bouillony, tarry, on bresaola, tobacco, more walnuts, pecans, then these petroly and chalky notes that do keep screaming 'Springbank!' Some lively -and lovely- touches of melissa water and sage add more life and freshness to this one. Just give it a little time. Finish: medium, perfectly balanced. Walnuts, polish, salty bouillons and tobacco, mostly. Comments: I have been thinking 'whoops!' for exactly 7 seconds (ah, that song) but it was superb Springbank indeed. Again, just give it a little time.
SGP:362 - 91 points.

(Thank you muchas KC and Ryan)

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

 

March 21, 2021


Whiskyfun

Wouldn't we do rums?

Good idea! (Are you expecting any monies for that, S.?)

Mhora 'Pot Stilled' (43%, OB, South Africa, +/-2020)

Mhora 'Pot Stilled' (43%, OB, South Africa, +/-2020) Two stars
White rum distilled from ultra-fresh local sugarcane called 'Nkomazi'. There's a whole story behind it but this is Sunday, is it not? Colour: white. Nose: ah, plasticine and French-army shoe polish, olives, anchovy brine, plaster dust, model glue, new Chinese electronics (well, electronics) and pickled gherkins. Reminds of those French/Thai rums they make in, well, in Thailand. Mouth: pretty good stuff, appropriately dirty, perhaps a tad sweet too (raw sugar) and not immensely deep, but nicely fermentary and fat. Now I liked the nose better. Finish: it's lost its esters and got really sweeter, with strawberry yoghurt, bananas and pineapples. Comments: an entrancing nose, a cool arrival on the palate, but it went a little pear-shaped after that. Worth trying.
SGP:642 - 75 points.

HSE 'Small Cask 2004' (46%, OB, Martinique, +/-2019)

HSE 'Small Cask 2004' (46%, OB, Martinique, +/-2019) Three stars
Habitation Saint-Etienne's own Quarter Cask version, except that there's a vintage statement. No no-age-no-vintage blandola here. Colour: red amber. Nose: all overripe banana and coconut wine, ylang-ylang and jasmine, hibiscus tea, then mangos, probably from the QCs. It's very fragrant, perhaps even a tad too fragrant to a malt enthusiast, with a bourbony side that's even hinting to rye. Perhaps a little heady, to tell you the truth. Mouth: the oak's very apparent, with a lot of liquorice, teak oil, black tea, some cinnamon, rosehip tea, more black tea, even more black tea, then more liquorice and mint… Feels a bit 'lab', but the lab was good. Finish: long, sweet, still extremely aromatic and floral. Comments: a little extreme, a little pushy and engineered. Wood technology in rum, that was bound to happen. But of course it's good…
SGP:741 - 82 points.

St. Lucia 11 yo 2005/2016 (53.8%, Plantation, Extreme N°1, 60th Anniversary LMDW)

St. Lucia 11 yo 2005/2016 (53.8%, Plantation, Extreme N°1, 60th Anniversary LMDW) Three stars
Sadly finished in cognac casks, the equivalent to adding pineapples to pizza, but there… Colour: deep gold. Nose: nice, really, on spicy and aromatic woods, balsa, also hibiscus, wisteria, liquorice, olives, cinnamon cake, cedar wood, hawthorn tea… It's all pretty gentle so far and certainly not extreme. With water: really nice, on more balsa wood, cedar wood, cinnamon, rather a little earth, rosewood, raspberries, incense, rose petals… Mouth (neat): very good heavy style, very liquoricy, rich, herbal, with many rotting fruits and wee bits of salted anchovies. With water: a curious Islay style, some sour fruits, preserved peaches and mangos, some brine… A bit loose perhaps, not truly focused, but good for sure. Finish: rather long, curiously dissonant. Hope that's not the cognac. Mint, raspberry, peaches, olives and salted liquorice, perhaps not the most coherent of all combos. Comments: really good for sure, but a little too multidimensional for me.
SGP:642 - 80 points.

Back to a gentler style…

C.A.D.C. 2005/2019 (49%, Silent Ambassador, Venezuela, 132 bottles)

C.A.D.C. 2005/2019 (49%, Silent Ambassador, Venezuela, 132 bottles) Three stars
Rum from Corporacion Alcoholes Del Caribe. Remember, as they would tell you on the label, 'bibere humanum est'. Poor Venezuela… Colour: deep gold. Nose: white chocolate and custard, sweet pudding, vanilla fudge, wee whiffs of balsa wood, blancmange, iced nougat, cassata… I'd call this 'very gourmand' so far. Mouth: some lighter style of rum, but there is some depth to it, with bamboo shoots, vanilla, touches of salt, cane syrup, demerara sugar, cake, shortbread, matcha tea… Finish: medium, sweet, a little earthy. Comments: not earthshattering, and 99.5% of all rums aren't anyway (to a mat lover), but clearly good and pleasant. A thinner style, but at least no one's tried to disguise the reality here, it is thin, dispensable columny spirit indeed, but a very good one within this style.
SGP:630 - 81 points.

Some power and some depth please…

Lluidas Vale 14 yo 2006/2020 (56.8%, The Duchess, Jamaica, cask #38)

Lluidas Vale 14 yo 2006/2020 (56.8%, The Duchess, Jamaica, cask #38) Four stars and a half
This is Worthy Park. Apparently, they have restricted the use of their brand name, which is a pretty stupid move that a few arrogant Scots – their name escape me - have been trying to do for ages. Alert, dead-end street! Colour: deep gold. Nose: menthol and liquorice, acetone and ammonia, green walnuts, mustard, olives, overripe bananas. With water: same. New plywood at Ikea's, new plastics, new Tesla, leatherette… Mouth (neat): so very good, acetone-y at first, ultra-dry and grassy, then marvellously liquoricy and salty. With water: Worthy Park as usual. Salty, olive-y, tarry, with rotting bananas at the fruit section. A little stewed cabbage, perhaps. Finish: long, focused, salty, tarry. Tiny pickled lemons in the aftertaste. Comments: I don't quite remember which distillery this was stemming from, but it's wonderful high-ester rum for sure. Monymusk, am I wrong? In any case, an Islayfication of Jamaica by the owners would not be such a good idea, if you ask me. Way too soon! Wait, wasn't this Long Pond? High-ester Appleton?
SGP:463 - 88 points.

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

 

March 20, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Highland Park & Assorted Orkney 'Stuff'
I find all this contemporary obsession around anonymity quite funny and more than a little sad as well. It feels like it comes from a place of insecurity rather than pride or commercial sense. You could even argue it's tantamount to an admission by the owners that the independents are doing a better job of bottling their whisky than they are.

 

We all know these anonymous 'Orkney malts' are Highland Park, and what's more most of them are really excellent. So the effect of them being 'hidden', just comes across as a bit silly. Ultimately, unless a bottler has butchered any distillery character with some nonsense wood, then the credit ultimately falls lopsidedly towards those who distilled it in the first place. And rightly so if you ask me. You could say much the same about these anonymous 'highland malt' Clynelish or Williamson / Laphroaig stocks. Anyway, I'm sure there are Zoom rooms full of costly marketing types who know better than I do, who would tell you otherwise, and that there's a 'very good reason' for all this. Brand protection, premiumisation, packaging, heritage, 'quality control' etc, etc.

 

 

Now, returning our focus to Orkney, let us caveat everything I just wrote, by remaining ever vigilant for some stray Scapas. You never know…

 

 

Orkney 13 yo 2007/2020 'Reserve Casks Parcel No 4' (48%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland', 3 ex-sherry butts)

Orkney 13 yo 2007/2020 'Reserve Casks Parcel No 4' (48%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland', 3 ex-sherry butts)
You don't see too many sherry casks of these stocks about, was this a re-rack? Colour: bright amber. Nose: a modern style of sherry that's rather fudgey and showing lots of bright jammy notes. Raspberry and strawberry jams, some slightly balsamic and acetic touches, walnut wine, plum sauce and wee touches of hessian. Very good but these slightly sharper acetic notes are slightly too much for me in places. Mouth: breads, earth, roasted Brazil nuts and marzipan. Spiced almonds, paprika, rose syrup, more simple supermarket red fruit jams, cranberry gravy and a little miso. Finish: medium in length and again this feeling of sharpness. Hot red fruit teas, canvass, chilli oil, burnt toast and bitter chocolate. Comments: It's a solid wee modern sherry bomb. I just think it could have done with a few more years in cask to round off the edges.
SGP: 462 - 84 points.

 

 

Breath of the Isles 13 yo 2007/2020 (58.6%, Adelphi, refill sherry, 656 bottles)

Breath of the Isles 13 yo 2007/2020 (58.6%, Adelphi, refill sherry, 656 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: there is a 'sibling' impression of sharpness that seems to echo from the Elixir bottling. Only here instead of this acetic quality, it's more around citric acidity, salinity, cellar must and damp coal embers. Over time there's a much clearer impression of an 'Orkney accent' emerging. Some sheep wool oils, a lick of peat, sandalwood and dried herbs. With water: lovely! Lots of ozone, mineral salts, bay leaf, lemon peel and some drier aspects like chalk and bit of brittle waxiness. Mouth: peppery and prickly with alcohol. But it's also nicely savoury, salty, heathery, sooty, piney and with this firm impression of coastal freshness and distant, heathery peat smoke. Unmistakeable! With water: rather more oily in texture, all on seawater, cooking oils - sunflower oil and smoked olive oil perhaps - sandalwood, camphor and putty. Finish: medium in length but rather coastal, fresh, invigorating and with further impressions of sheep wool oils and sandalwood. Comments: pretty exemplary and solid Orkney 'stuff'!
SGP: 463 - 87 points.

 

 

Orkney 14 yo (60.4%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland' for USA, cask #45)

Orkney 14 yo (60.4%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland' for USA, cask #45)
Colour: straw. Nose: a rather lovely hay loft style dustiness at first. Canvass, crisp cereals, barley water and wet chalk with an increasing sense of lemon zest, muddled herbs and seawater building over time. The overall impression is of abundant freshness and 'brightness', the sort of profile that inevitably begins to take in freshly laundered linens, starches, chalk and wet pebbles too. Lovely stuff! With water: perfect! Chiselled, taut, sharply coastal, citric, chalky, poised cereals, a few white breads and impressions of toasted mixed seeds. Mouth: unexpectedly sweet upon arrival. Wonderfully syrupy, naturally sugary, cooking oils, malt syrup, new leather, white pepper, canvass, menthol tobacco and pinecones. Feels rich and fatty with this impression of fresh butter and cooking oils. With water: lemon infused olive oil, chopped parsley, heather flower, shilling ales, brown bread and umami paste. Finish: long, peppery, hints of jasmine tea, aniseed, ointments, menthol tobacco again and a light, refreshing salinity. Comments: this is a good example of where these stocks cross the borderline between being just 'very good Orkney malt' to 'classy'.
SGP: 552 - 88 points. 

 

 

Orkney Malt 14 yo 2006/2020 (60.9%, Watt Whisky, ruby port barrique 'rested', 307 bottles)

Orkney Malt 14 yo 2006/2020 (60.9%, Watt Whisky, ruby port barrique 'rested', 307 bottles)
Kate and Mark have called this kind of 'flash finishing' technique 'resting', which in this case was 5 months in a ruby port barrique. I have to say, pink whiskies tend to make me nervous. But then again, so does Mark Watt… ;) Colour: deep pink. Nose: there is still this undeniable, and maybe even immutable freshness going on here. Something which seems a hallmark of these parcels of whisky. However, you cannot help but feel this one also 'smells' pink. Wee notes of redcurrant, fruit preserves and indeed even port. So there probably was some 'dissolving' of residues going on within those final five months. This sits neatly along with glazed pastries, breads, background herbal notes and some lighter notes of dried flowers and sandalwood. With water: fruit loops alongside honey glazed ham and stem ginger. Some Tizer as well perhaps. We're entering new realms. Mouth: clever! Jammy sweetness indeed but it's not at the expense of the more punchy saline and cereal aspects of this whisky. Some fatty frying bacon, coal smoke and things like peppery grilled meats and a wee touch of seawater. The port does become a notch too jammy for me over time but it's surprisingly restrained all things considered. With water: this impression of sharp red fruits becomes more pronounced and yet the more typical qualities such as sandalwood, heather flowers and cereals remain prominent. Finish: medium, good weight, very light peat notes, peppery, more malty and with a little lanolin. Comments: it's not really my style of whisky, but within that overall world of finishing and short term cask tweaking, I think it works pretty well. I'm sure lovers of this kind of whisky will find a lot to enjoy, precisely because - despite the suggestions of the colour - it's been done with a lightness of touch that leaves plenty distillery character in place.
SGP: 653 - 81 points.

 

 

Highland Park 12 1/2 yo 'Viking Soul Cask' (56.5%, OB for HPAS Denmark, cask #500130, firkin, 57 bottles)

Highland Park 12 1/2 yo 'Viking Soul Cask' (56.5%, OB for HPAS Denmark, cask #500130, firkin, 57 bottles)
Colour: deep orangey gold. Nose: the thing about these bottling is that I really should not like them and yet I cannot help but find them excellent! The nose here is full of fir cones, pine wood, herbal liqueurs, throat lozenges, cough medicines, liquorice and verbena. This wonderfully syrupy and mentholated concoction that feels like the result of some deeply integrated, rather syrupy peat smoke somewhere in the depths. There's also this creamy coconut vibe which feels close to these fruity American oak styles of those wartime vintage malts bottled by G&M in the 1980s. With water: takes on a crisp smokiness, bacon crisps, smoked teas, heather flowers, herbs and putty. Mouth: similarly very good, but the wood feels just a little too edgy and spicy here. Straying a bit too close to varnished hardwoods and cupboard spices. But it's overall still very good. Lots of toasted spices, wormwood, resins, dried flowers and some mead (Vikings drank mead didn't they?) With water: cough mixtures, lemon barley water, cured game meats, old cream sherry, miso, eucalyptus balm - really superb with water! Finish: good length, some spiced marmalade, more herbal cough mixtures, marmite, menthol tobacco and more of these piney and wormwood qualities. Comments: The wood is very dominant in these bottlings, but the thing is it has been 'done' in a way which is undeniably clever. It manages to feel both old style and modern at the same time. These creamy, coconutty and medicinal concoctions are distinctive and really interesting. Technically brilliant, and brilliantly technical.
SGP: 563 - 89 points.

 

 

Highland Park 13 yo 2003/2016 (59.1%, OB for 'Highland Park Appreciation Society', cask #2115, refill butt, 576 bottles)

Highland Park 13 yo 2003/2016 (59.1%, OB for 'Highland Park Appreciation Society', cask #2115, refill butt, 576 bottles)
I think it's cool that what is essentially a fan community can go to their favourite distillery and get a single cask done. More distillery companies should do this in my view, so hats off to Edrington on that one. Colour: amber. Nose: sticky dark fruits, plum wine, pomegranate molasses, date loaf and strong fruit teas. Goes on with some Cointreau, chocolate spread, miso paste, herbal bitters and earthen wine cellar must. You could add in a fistful of walnuts while you're at it. With water: easier and very pleasurably muddling together dark chocolate, earth, tobaccos, dried mushrooms and hessian. Mouth: nicely peppery and even more focused on these sticky dark fruits, cloves, spiced blood oranges, mulling spices, natural tar, heather ales, bouillon stock and mint tea. Gingerbread, hessian and more mulchy and camphory notes. With water: more towards chocolate sauce with hints of Bovril, game meats, cranberry gravy, damson preserve, white miso and truffle. Really excellent with water. Finish: long, earthy, slightly nutty, still pretty chocolate-heavy and with further notes of tobacco, leaf mulch, teas and leather. Comments: what emerges over time, with water, is an extremely classical and pleasurable sherry-matured HP profile. But then, what did you expect from the esteemed members of the HPAS? There's a 'stickiness' on the palate and in the finish in particular which is really excellent.
SGP: 562 - 89 points.

 

 

Highland Park 16 yo 2003/2019 (58.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #1885, 1st fill European oak sherry butt, 585 bottles)

Highland Park 16 yo 2003/2019 (58.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #1885, 1st fill European oak sherry butt, 585 bottles)
Colour: deep reddish amber. Nose: quite typical of these European oak casks, this is immediately on simmering, toasty wood spices. Deeply focused around cocoa, espresso, natural tar, sarsaparilla and herbal medicines. Some 1950s Fernet Branca perhaps, alongside a few strong throat sweets. Add to that some cherry-infused dark beers, cured ham and bouillon stock. With water: cola cubes, game meats, paprika, natural tar and spiced fruit loaf. Mouth: Iberico ham with smoked black tea, hot chocolate infused with chilli, walnut wine, black pepper, boiled cinnamon sweets and things like cola syrup and posh root beer. With water: concentrated, spicy and chocolatey with many more of these syrupy, chocolatey and bitterly herbal qualities coming through. Medicinal and with these peppery, nibbling tannins. Finish: good length, strongly herbal and more towards bitter teas, stocks, earth, black olives and various roots, herbs and peppery aspects. Comments: very good, but I think the bitterness and tannin rally a little too assertively on the palate and in the aftertaste to go higher in terms of score.
SGP: 462 - 86 points.

 

 

An Orkney Distillery 1998/2020 (52.6%, Archives 'The Fishes Of Samoa', cask #10, hogshead, 325 bottles)

An Orkney Distillery 1998/2020 (52.6%, Archives 'The Fishes Of Samoa', cask #10, hogshead, 325 bottles)
Is it possible to feel as though you've visited Samoa without ever having been? Colour: white wine. Nose: chalky, chiselled, crispy cereal, brilliantly fresh, bright and breezily coastal. Of an age where these coastal, cereal and gently herbal peat smoke qualities are beginning to morph into a more overt waxiness, which is particularly enchanting. A little touch of creamy smoked vanilla, lemon barley water, gauze and pine wood. With water: doubles down on the lemony notes, almost like a slightly salted limoncello. More bright, sweet cereal notes, very soft waxes and heather flowers. Mouth: brightly citric, coastal, fresh, crisp cereals again, pine needles, crushed aspirin and more lemon barley water. Also some smoked olive oil and mixed dried herbs. There's a kind of crusty saltiness about it as well, which maintains a constant impression of freshness - something so many of these Orkney malts seem to possess in spades. With water: lanolin, white pepper, lemongrass, putty, aniseed and cough medicines. A delicate thread of peat smoke and some dried seaweed in umami broths. Finish: medium, herbal, still nicely coastal, some olive oil and sandalwood. Comments: evocative, playful, superbly fresh and pin sharp mature Orkney malt. Just lacks a little extra complexity that would have propelled it passed the 90 mark.
SGP: 462 - 89 points.

 

 

Highland Park 28 yo 1992/2020 (58.7%, Cadenhead for Cadenhead Whisky Shop Milan, butt, 396 bottles)

Highland Park 28 yo 1992/2020 (58.7%, Cadenhead for Cadenhead Whisky Shop Milan, butt, 396 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: beautifully clean, sharp and elegant, there's also a crisp, green and exotic fruitiness that these later vintages don't possess. Clear notes of guava, kiwi, lime and papaya coming through. Beneath that comes a big waft of malt bin and kiln air: pure, gristy, clean, rich maltiness. Lemon tea, verbena, cough medicines and old school bitter ales. An extremely pure and rather impressively raw style, even at such an age. With water: greener, more assertively herbal, green chartreuse perhaps, but also myrtle, sandalwood, seaweed, mineral salts, sandalwood and citronella wax. Mouth: big arrival, wonderfully textural, oily and waxy. Herbal infused olive oil, miso, parsley butter, cough medicines, Barbour grease, putty, seawater, pink grapefruit and tangerine. Another style really, one which encapsulates older highland styles with this assertive waxiness and no nonsense mineral edge. With water: lemon rind, seawater, cough mixtures, limestone and smoked olive oil. Wonderful! Finish: good length, remains on medicines, herbs, sea air, minerals, waxes and this wonderful oiliness. Comments: It took us a while but we have comfortably reached the 90 mark. Well worth trying if you get the chance, this is a superb and pretty fascinating old HP from a very politely knackered old sherry cask. Solid work by Cadenhead.
SGP: 663 - 90 points.

 

 

Highland Park 28 yo 1980/2008 (43%, Mackillop's Choice, for USA)

Highland Park 28 yo 1980/2008 (43%, Mackillop's Choice, for USA)
I know we probably shouldn't be having a 43% whisky at the end of such a session, but a sufficient break has occurred and it seemed fitting… Colour: gold. Nose: another world. If all you knew was this was Highland Park you'd say a 1960s distillate I'm sure. The peat is just so wonderfully pronounced, distinctive and palpable here. Herbal, rooty, oily, fatty, earthy and thick. Metal polish, soot, vegetable stocks, shoe polish, old mead, coconut and natural tar. Just beautiful and stunningly expressive old Highland Park. A big surprise to be honest. Mouth: the good news is it holds up perfectly. The peat is quite astonishing in this one, was this one fully floor malted? From an old cask that held 50s HP before it? Stunningly herbal, mineral, oily and gelatinous peat. Let's not forget some coastal notes of wet rocks, chalk and dried seaweed too. But really this one is about the organic beauty and complexity of the peat flavours. Finish: long, deeply complex, herbal, full of menthol and fruit teas, waxes, smoked oils, camphor, hessian and peat embers. Comments: a whisky out of time. There are many lovely early 80s distilled Highland Parks, but this noses and tastes like it was distilled in the 1950s. Perhaps due to the bottling strength, it's actually wonderfully reminiscent of the old official green dumpy bottlings from the 1970s. Anyway, I really love it, and a fitting close to this session.
SGP: 565 - 92 points.

 

 

Big thanks to Iain and Jesper.

 

 

 

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

 

March 19, 2021


Whiskyfun

Bunnahabhains in disorder, part cinque

And last, really. We may have a little more than just five but five days of Bunny in a row – I almost wrote in a raw – are more than enough. No?

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (60.4%, OB, hand-filled at the Distillery, Warehouse 9, Pedro Ximenez, cask #1635, 2019)

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (60.4%, OB, hand-filled at the Distillery, Warehouse 9, Pedro Ximenez, cask #1635, 2019) Two stars and a half
Ah, PX. There sure is more PX in whisky today than there is in bottles of PX. Colour: amber. Nose: fumes and chocolate, gunpowder and ground coffee, touches of crushed cassis, truffles and gas, raspberry eau-de-vie. Classic PX, more or less. With water: rather more leather and ginger, which reminds me why I'm not a huge fan of PX in my whisky. Mouth (neat): really heavy, peppery and sweet, reminding me of some obscure, long-forgotten Outer-Mongolian sushi sauce. Teppanyaki sauce with green peppercorn and German blackberry wine. With water: the sweeter side comes out, but sour and bitter spices keep running the show. Finish: long, rather on peppered liquorice and even moe leather. A feeling of cabernet franc in the aftertaste. Comments: certainly good, and some people loved it, ah well it's just to my favourite style.
SGP:471 - 79 points.

A young peaty palate cleanser and then some older Bunnies…

Bunnahabhain 9 yo 2009/20198 (58.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 5300 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 9 yo 2009/20198 (58.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 5300 bottles) Three stars and a halfColour: white wine. Nose: wood smoke, cut grass, granny smith, greengages, sesame oil, green tea, lemon. With water: gets chalkier and a little petroly. I don't think many peated Bunnahabhains are clearly petroly. Mouth (neat): pretty hot and a little on foreshots (heads). We've known tutti-frutti eaux-de-vie that were a bit like this, that is to say good for making rubbing balms against rheumatisms. Sur that works. With water: way nicer once H2O's been added. Notes of mezcal, white rum, gentian, salt and olives… Once again a feeling of 'readymade margarita'. Finish: long, sharp, salty. Cardamom and urchin flesh. Comments: rather more rustic than the Small Batch we had yesterday.
SGP:366 - 83 points.

Bunnahabhain 16 yo 2002/2019 (51%, The Whisky Baron, bourbon hogshead, cask #3186, 258 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 16 yo 2002/2019 (51%, The Whisky Baron, bourbon hogshead, cask #3186, 258 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: very fresh, rather on fresh coriander, dill, lime, green apples, oysters, sea breeze, and a touch of custard. As close as you can get to the 'neighbour in the south'. Hints of creme eggs (Easter is around the corner, is it not).With water: more on some kind of lightly mentholated C.I. And oysters, kelp and lemon. No, no bread, no butter, and no Sancerre. Although, as far as Sancerres go… Mouth (neat): clean, pure, once again with this wee feeling of dill, or even pastis, or liquorice and aniseed. So much for 'the neighbour in the south', Marseille's not quite a neighbour. Touches of capsicum, kirschwasser, a touch of rubber, some nicer grapefruits. With water: it loves water. Gets narrower and cleaner. Lemon, seashells, smoked kippers, touch of vanilla. Finish: long, clean, salty, coastal. Touch of cardamom in the aftertaste. Comments: two drops of water does it much good.
SGP:466 - 87 points.

Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1990/2020 (45.5%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Virtual Feis Ile 2020, Edition 4, 451 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1990/2020 (45.5%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Virtual Feis Ile 2020, Edition 4, 451 bottles) Five stars
Great series by HL, always very special. Really. It's a bit unclear whether this is a 1990 or a 1989, good sources diverge on that issue. I have hopes that this would be an early peater but if it isn't, we'll be just as pleased. Colour: white wine. Nose: oh! Damp chalk, petroly riesling, bandages and mercurochrome, rubbed mint leaves, lime juice, old chartreuse, oysters, limoncello. Wins you over after just one millisecond – which is not fair, is it. Mouth: dazzlingly fresh, coastal, citrusy and coastal (you said that twice, S.). Clearly one of my favourite Bunnahabhains of the last twelve months. A little green pepper, bitter almonds, eucalyptus drops, all kinds of oysters from the tiny flat ones to the big boys that are as fat as a T-bone, a little liquorice, pomelos, salty manzanilla (I know this is bourbon), one olive… Finish: same for a good length of time. Comments: only flaw, I knew this was going to be to my liking. Superb fresh drop and just more proof that age is absolutely not just a number. No whisky magicians will make this withing less than ten years, even with the cunningest 'wood technology'.
SGP:565 - 91 points.

Bunnahabhain 38 yo 1980/2018 (44.7%, Artful Dodger Whisky Collective, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #3474)Bunnahabhain 38 yo 1980/2018 (44.7%, Artful Dodger Whisky Collective, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #3474)

Bunnahabhain 38 yo 1980/2018 (44.7%, Artful Dodger Whisky Collective, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #3474) Two stars
I just love it when colours remain confidently 'white wine' over the many years. Colour: white wine. Nose: oh, some old herbal liqueur, with whiffs of caraway, liquorice, mint, aniseed, fennel seeds, eucalyptus… A touch of hessian and fresh concrete too, then some subdued fruitiness, rather around plums and green melons. Some kelp too, and perhaps touches of patchouli and bidis, not too sure where that came from. Some old hippy wandering throughout the distillery, back in 1980? A little soap too. Mouth: very bizarre this time. More soap, varnish, even ammonia, cardboard… We'll add a few drops of water to see if that goes away… With water: not quite. Plastics. Finish: rather long, soapy. Comments: brilliant nose, wrecked palate, that's the ways some cookies crumble. We might call this one 'Cleopatra', something may have happened, we'll try to try another bottle eventually.
SGP:272 - 75 points.

A very last one…

Bunnahabhain 35 yo 1976/2012 (48.8%, The Whisky Mercenary)

Bunnahabhain 35 yo 1976/2012 (48.8%, The Whisky Mercenary) Four stars and a half
We are, indeed, sometimes very late at Château WF. Colour: straw. Nose: fresh and rather on melons this time, with also notes of beeswax, tomato leaves, and perhaps a little putty. A little bread too, praline, leaves, fruit peelings… We're somehow in the middle of somewhere here, which is not an unpleasant feeling at all, this baby's just a little hard to describe and to pin down. Whisky for Alice in in Wonderland. Mouth: same feeling, with bitter oranges, sweet chili pepper liqueur (the name escapes me, ah yes, Ruby Blue)…Also mead and custard, nougat, bergamots, banana wine, a dryness that's reminiscent of fino sherry, some green walnuts too, marzipan… It's just that it's a whisky that's not semantically correct, if you see what I mean. In other words, an outlaw. Finish: medium, a notch grassier. Banana skins, walnut skins, touch of turmeric, grapefruit skin… And there, those tomato leaves yet again. Very peculiar. Comments: good fun to be had with this outlaw. Singular wood imposing its law over the years, I would say.
SGP:462 - 89 points

Enough and adios.

Yet we should soon do this kind of hoopla again with Ben Nevis, or Ledaig, or Laphroaig, or Port Charlotte, or Ardbeg, or Stromness (try to spot the odd one out) … As those tend to accumulate at WF Towers. But plenty sure is no plague…

(Thank you Tim)

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

 

March 18, 2021


Whiskyfun

Bunnahabhains in disorder, part quattro

There were more Bs after the despairingly humble little 'An Cladach'… What a poor little drop! But recovery is near, thanks to the indies…

Bunnahabhain 9 yo 2010/2020 (66.7%, Lady of the Glen, first fill oloroso sherry hogshead, cask #901203, 325 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 9 yo 2010/2020 (66.7%, Lady of the Glen, first fill oloroso sherry hogshead, cask #901203, 325 bottles) Three stars and a half
Holy smokes, what's this strength? I'm not sure we're expecting lace and subtleties here… Colour: office coffee. Nose: balsa wood, pine wood, fresh cedar wood, then cured ham, jamon iberico… Well it's all about woods here, and about hams. Maybe a matter of high C2H5OH? Yeah, that's ethanol. With water: menthol, liquorice, fresh-sawn pinewood. Has its charms, you could quaff this while in the sauna I suppose. Mouth (neat): high bourbon, like Pappy stuff and heavy rye. We've lost contact with that stuff I have to say. Quick… With water: back to civilisation, even if the oak remains loud. Some Keith-Moon oak I would say. Loads of gingerbread, marmalade, capsicum and juniper, coriander seeds, cardamom… Well I'm sure you get the whole picture, it is oak-driven. Finish: rather long, on ginger beer, caramel, whacky stouts (chocolate) and indeed cured ham. Or bresaola, beef jerky, Grisons meat, that kind of stuff. Comments: I'm a little too fragile for this. What an extreme beast.
SGP:385 - 84 points.

Oh, this!...

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (53.4%, OB, hand-filled at the Distillery, manzanilla, cask #332, 2017)

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (53.4%, OB, hand-filled at the Distillery, manzanilla, cask #332, 2017) Three stars
Manzanilla-ed whisky? I would kill a pregnant hamster for this… (of course I wouldn't)… Remember, manzanilla is a bone-dry, un-oxidised fino sherry that was matured in Sanlucar de Barrameda, so nearer to some saltier air. Colour: deep amber. Nose: salted fudge and pine-y caramel sauce, that just kills. Instantly. With water: meats! Wild boar sausage and walnut wine. Mouth (neat): extreme dissonant goodness, with real winey notes, manzanilla indeed, salted walnuts, old cellar, and saponin (it is soapy). With water: no no no, this is wild and bitter with too many green walnuts. But this feeling of distilled manzanilla just works. Did anyone ever try to distil manzanilla and drink it as 'white'? That, would be some proper brandy de Jerez. Finish: long, dry, bitter, loaded with bitter walnuts. Not too easy but we can handle this. Comments: sometimes whiskies fight you the drinker, and that's the case here. We call them 'the challenging whiskies'.
SGP:272 - 82 points.

Since we're doing official heavies…

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (55.7%, OB, hand-filled at the Distillery, palo cortado, warehouse 9, cask #16, 2019)

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (55.7%, OB, hand-filled at the Distillery, palo cortado, warehouse 9, cask #16, 2019) Two stars
Ooh, walnuts better not go out now… Colour: dark amber. Nose: classic, with molasses, walnut cake, tobacco, Bovril, and glutamate. That sums it up rather nicely, if I may humbly say so. With water: what's this? Parsley, marrow soup, game, clay… I like this but it's no easy drop. Mouth (neat): I'm sure you know palo cortado sits between fino and oloroso. The problem is that this is extremely grassy, acrid, with tons of walnut skins, artichoke wine, and just burnt moussaka. Very hard, very dry, very green, very tannic, very bitter. With water: more sweetness but it remains very bitter and extremely challenging. Whisky for masochists indeed. Finish: extremely long, difficult, leafy, with some demerara sugar and some bitterish molasses. Pass. Comments: was someone in charge? Just any casks, randomly? Did anyone at the Distillery try this monster cask? It's really too extreme for me, poor little Serge.
SGP:273 - 70 points.

Some cleanliness is more than needed now…

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1990/2019 (44.3%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #7727, 252 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1990/2019 (44.3%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #7727, 252 bottles) Two stars
Sweet featherless blackbird, am I late! Colour: straw. Nose: maraschino, mint cordial, dry martini (the stuff whisky reps are drinking instead of whisky), and really truckloads of amaretti. Bitter almonds, Campari, tonic water. We're fine, spring is around the corner. Mouth (neat): some rather great honeyed drop, a tad wobbly perhaps, with unexpected 'marrowy' and waxy notes that shouldn't quite be here, a little cardboard too, hippy's mead, pollen… This is getting bizarre. Finish: old beeswax and old sweet wine that did not age as well as Melania T. (W-T-F?) When everything's getting a little sour… Right, old mead. Comments: truthly, me not quite comprendo this one.
SGP:451 - 76 points.

We had said 5 Bunnies at a time, so that's one more… Eenie meenie…

Bunnahabhain 9 yo 2009/2019 (58.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon, 564 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 9 yo 2009/2019 (58.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon, 564 bottles) Four stars
This one from two hoggies. We have good hopes here. Colour: white wine. Nose: we were right. Branches and grasses, a little saccharin, vanilla-ed sugar, burning cardboard, sunflower and sesame oils, barley water, fresh almonds, icing, Wulong tea… With water: a green seawater, kelp, oysters, bamboo shoots, white asparagus… That's all fine and well! Mouth (neat): peat and citrons, capers, cardamom, seawater, green pepper… My this is a fighter! With water: water tames it, but it would remain very salty. Capers and olives, samphires, seawater, barnacles, even bottarga… Imagine how salty this is! Finish: rather long, with a rounder smokiness and something a little fat. Fish oils, then oysters. Comments: rather loved this one, but it wasn't easy to follow. Wasn't it a little cerebral?
SGP:366 - 85 points.

Looks like there will be a part cinque, but I promise we'll focus on older Bunnies next time. Much older… See you dear.

(Thank you Fuji, Tim)

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

 

March 17, 2021


Whiskyfun

Bunnahabhains in disorder, part drei

Because there's more. The Bunnahabhain shelf is like the Danaids' bathtub at Château Whiskyfun.

Bunnahabhain 18 yo 2001/2020 (54.7%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, sherry, cask #1253, 620 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 18 yo 2001/2020 (54.7%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, sherry, cask #1253, 620 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: classic Bunnahabhain, reminding me of the official 12 as we used to find it in the 1990s. What a lovely malt it was – not saying it isn't anymore, but it sure was more complex, subtler back then. A little coconut wine, various honeys and the meads made thereof, notes of morello cherries and amaretti, marzipan, more walnut wine, high-end Pinot Gris, orange cordial, artisanal nougat (with pistachios inside!)… Nothing wrong with this nose, really. With water: very fresh panettone and kougelhopf with notes of tangerine wine on top of orange blossom, you just canot beat this. Mouth (neat): wow. Perfect, honeyed and cake-y, with some fresh brioche and many nut cakes. Walnut cake, pecan cake, macadamia cake, almond cake… Touches of menthol, liquorice and camphor too, which makes it 'wider' yet. Great. With water: careful, it is not the best swimmer ever, but with just three drops of H2O in five litres of whisky, you'll find additional notes of nougat, teas, and green tobacco. Finish: long, a tad yeastier. Well, do not add any waters to this baby. Comments: terrific whisky, it just hates water – or maybe I didn't do it right with my usually trustworthy Vittel. But after all, according to the ever-glittering Internets, Rihanna can't swim either. No, great Bunny (I mean, this whisky, not Rihanna).
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Staoisha 2013/2020 (59.6%, Whisky Is The Limit, 2nd fill ruby Port wine barrique, cask #10439)

Staoisha 2013/2020 (59.6%, Whisky Is The Limit, 2nd fill ruby Port wine barrique, cask #10439) Four stars and a half
I mean, LOL, this was 'distilled at Bunnahabhain' and comes from 'a secret distillery'. We may have to call Hercule Poirot. Good fun, as always with WITL. Colour: straw. Nose: it is a huge peater, possibly the peatiest B*nn*h*bh**n that's ever been bottled. Pure lemony peat, with only touches of olives, lemons, and surely tar. Coalpit. With water: old magazine, hessian, wool, dunnage, new electronics (stuff from Wish's that will burn your house down as soon as you plug it in). Mouth (neat): iodine, pure lemons, smoke, paraffin, green olives, tarmac, roots. I've always dreamt of doing a blend with this kind, plus mezcal, plus Jamaican rum. Now go find an insurance company for that kind of stunt… With water: pure peat, lemons, almonds, seawater. Frankly this could have stemmed from that other distillery in the neighbourhood, a few miles down south. Finish: long, pure. More liquorice and earth. Salty aftertaste. Comments: did you notice that we haven't even mentioned ruby Port? That was almost the best part, no Port in sight! Great, pristine young drop. Me happy.
SGP: 467 – 88 points.

Oh while we're at it…

Staoisha 7 yo 2013/2020 (61.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 151 bottles)

Staoisha 7 yo 2013/2020 (61.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 151 bottles) Four stars and a half
This 'should' be similar. Colour: white wine. Nose: sameish, a tad more on coconut and vanilla, which would just suggest the cask was a tad fresher. With water: seawater, kippers, oysters, coalpit, lemon, small green olives, bicycle inner tube, winkles. Love those wee winkles. No coconut left; we shall celebrate accordingly. Mouth (neat): excellent and practically the same whisky as the previous Staoisha (difficult names, uh). With water: same, it even got tenser, tougher, almost brutal. All that in the good way (Islay enthusiasts are unapologetic masochists, that's well-known fact). Finish: olive brine, tremendously longly (Donald!) Comments: great selection by Maltbarn, as always. The labels are prettier too, if you ask me.
SGP:467 - 88 points.

Bunnahabhain 10 yo 2007/2017 (56.7%, Signatory Vintage, Straight from the Cask, hogshead, cask #140, 360 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 10 yo 2007/2017 (56.7%, Signatory Vintage, Straight from the Cask, hogshead, cask #140, 360 bottles) Four stars
In the words of Gino Vannelli, black labels don't make it. Do they? Colour: white wine. Nose: more vanilla yet at first sniffing, but some tenser olive oil, seawater and lemon juice are soon to push it back to the tops. Oysters and whelks. The olives are really fantastic here – I mean, they do add olives to the make at the Distillery, do they not? Simple life, simple pleasures, simple whisky, great satisfaction. With water: notes of smoked ham and wood smoke. Not sure I love these additional options. Mouth (neat): narrow, simple, almost dumb in a way, and yet just perfect. A marksman's whisky. With water: still hot and a tad rustic or at least rudimentary, with even chillies, siracha, and just a lot of pepper. This one challenges you after the smoother introduction. Finish: no, it's very good, very salty, smoky, with infinitesimal amounts of rubber in the aftertaste. Comments: it was a fighter. All drinks bearing a black label are, just see Château Palmer…
SGP:467 - 86 points.

Didn't we say five? Let's let the owners have their say…

Bunnahabhain 'An Cladach' (50%, OB, 1l, +/-2020)

Bunnahabhain 'An Cladach' (50%, OB, 1l, +/-2020) Two stars
Oh my God, the label! And the name! And it's an NAS! I just don't know what to expect, I just hope the brilliant indies we just had – that we still have in our glasses – won't slaughter this humble no-age-stated beverage. Colour: gold. Nose: fresh wood, tapioca, vanilla, soft curry, soft cinnamon, polenta… It sure isn't un-nice, but it is wood-driven. With water: sawdust and toasted bread crumbles. I believe this much oak was unnecessary. Mouth (neat): good arrival, but very modern, spicy, getting a little sour and too oaky. Nice citrus, but the oak's too loud for me. A concoction. With water: a little better, frankly it's not that bad, it's just very simple. Vanilla, banana, soft curry. Finish: medium, oak-driven. Very dry, unpleasant aftertaste on sawdust. Comments: I'm sorry but why murder an otherwise very fine distillate like this? Ever heard of deforestation? Why not rather build and sell furniture, as the market's high?
SGP:351 - 72 points.

Sorry about that pour thing, I can tell you we'll do much better right tomorrow. Rule Bunnahabhain!

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

 

March 16, 2021


Whiskyfun

Bunnahabhains in disorder, part deux

Well we had only peaters last time, so much for 'disorder'.

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (55.7%, OB, hand-filled at the Distillery, palo cortado, warehouse 9, cask #16, 2019)

Bunnahabhain 8 yo 'Moine' (60,2%, OB, hand filled at the Distillery, 1st fill oloroso, cask #3657, 2016) Three stars
Moine is peat. In French, moine means monk, but I suppose that's a coincidence. Not too sure having said that, there's been a lot of cross-pollination during the Auld Alliance. Colour: mahogany. Nose: shoe polish, chocolate and burnt pecan pie. Then shoe polish, chocolate and walnut cake, and lastly, shoe polish, chocolate and mocha. With water: metal polish, basil, bulldog sauce, Marmite. Mouth (neat): rich sherry, cakes, nuts, prunes, loads of dates, and a salty smoke that's maybe a wee tad dissonant here. What a challenge anyway, heavy peat and heavy sherry, imagine, that's doing the sorcerer's apprentice! With water: same, with a lemony, salty and medicinal tang. Tiger balm and Procter's Vicks, puréed chestnuts, plastics. Finish: it's getting a little weird, with more plastic and tar, plasticine, vinyl, chocolate... Comments: crazy bone-dry combination. I suppose forty more years of bottle aging will do it some good, so see you in 2056.
SGP:267 - 81 points.

Ma3 2004/2019 (55.2%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon barrels, 734 bottles)

Ma3 2004/2019 (55.2%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon barrels, 734 bottles) Four stars
It's well-known that 'Ma' means 'Mamma Mia!' Alternatively, it means Margadale, another name for peated Bunny. It's all getting a little complicated, while there are more pressing issues in this world, I say. Now BB works best with peaters. Colour: straw. Nose: vanilla, branches, sunflower oil, almond milk, carbon paper, The wall Street Journal. Milder smoke here. With water: a little metal polish, rhubarb, apple skins, 2-stroke engine, and another edition of The Wall Street Journal. Yeah, ink. Mouth (neat): just very good, simple, lemony, rather grassy. A little acrid and pungent, which is a little strange since this is 15, which is a rather ripe old age. Quite. Citrons. With water: no, all good, grassy and smoky, salty, with olives. Carbonated stuff, steamed rice... Finish: not that long, clean, lemony, salty. Seafood, seaweed, seawater. Comments: great drop, perhaps not totally philosophical, but extremely maritime. Less smoky than others.
SGP:356 - 86 points.

Bunnahabhain 13 yo 2004/2017 (54.1%, High Spirits Collection, refill hogshead, cask #3162, 100 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 13 yo 2004/2017 (54.1%, High Spirits Collection, refill hogshead, cask #3162, 100 bottles) Four stars
This Italian ragazzo came with a BMW on the label and seems to commemorate some 'Monza Track Day'.  Colour: white wine. Nose: pure, slightly acrid smoke, very gristy and doughy, with a lot of ashes and just charcoal smoke, plus just a wee perfumy touch, probably around rose petals. Intriguing… With water: more grist and touches of green oranges, also a little jasmine tea. Mouth (neat): much sweeter, and yet very smoky. Someone smart may have tried to deep-smoke limoncello and rosewater, then added a dash of sea salt. With water: classic smoky Bunnahabhain now, a bit raw, but I suppose you would not go to Monza with a 10 yo Girvan at 40% vol. Finish: long, very smoky, with some lemon and some salt. Bone-dry smoky, ashy and slightly bitter aftertaste. Comments: raw and even a little tough, very good, and pretty fast.
SGP:367 - 85 points.

Bunnahabhain 10 yo 2009/2020 (67.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, cask # 900086, 589 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 10 yo 2009/2020 (67.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, cask # 900086, 589 bottles) Four stars and a half
Should someone have brought this one to Monza, he/she could have poured it straight into his/her car's tank. Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh, we found an unpeater! It was about time! A huge overbaked banana cake, some butterscotch, honey sauce, various honeys… And quite some ethanol, naturally. Let's behave responsibly and rather have it… With water: some perfect oloroso it seems, or perhaps even amontillado, with walnut cakes, wines, and liqueurs. Some Ovaltine and cigarettes, Nescafé, a tiny drop of miso, honey glazing, and just a cigar from Cuba. Say rather Montecristo – as I remember them, it was so long ago… Mouth (neat): extremely rich and thick, on a lot of curry sauce, more banana cake, cinnamon mints, rich spicy pipe tobacco, with touches of varnish that may just come from the super-high strength. Again, let's not push our luck… With water: excellent, on assorted spicy cakes. Yeah even spacey cakes while we're at it. Strong honeys too. Finish: very long thick not cloying, rather on more tobacco, honey, and walnuts. Very good sherry wood. Comments: a big rich beast that should stem from Signatory's stock. Led Zeppelin.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Did we say five at a time?

Bn8 2013-2015/2020 (58.4%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon and sherry, 1896 bottles)

Bn8 2013-2015/2020 (58.4%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon and sherry, 1896 bottles) Four stars and a half
I'm not sure I remember why they would bottle some peated Bunnies as Margadale (Ma) and others as Bunnahabhain (Bn). Well is this one peated, by the way? Colour: straw. Nose: acetone, nail polish, Haribo bears, woodruff, verbena liqueur (I'm an integral sucker for verbena liqueur), yellow peaches, plum spirit (vieille prune – anything older than two is vieille anyway) and some moist vanilla and orange cake. Drop of Cointreau over all that and … mmm… With water: fresh walnuts and almonds, more verbena, some sour bread, pancakes, orange wine… Well this is absolutely lovely, it's just not very smoky. No complains. Mouth (neat): there, some peat, but it's not huge. This feeling of smoked limoncello yet again, or readymade margarita, I have to say I could get used to it. With water: perfect. Mild smoke, bright citrus, perfect roasted nuts of all kinds, this gristy side that we always enjoy in younger malts, cakes… And young calvados! I really have to work on my Calvados by the way, coz I know more about Tibetan tantrism, which says a lot. Finish: is it a blend of unpeated and peated Bunnies? Rather long finish, clean, balanced, rather more complex than other youngsters. Comments: extremely to my liking, the blender here deserves the Whiskyfun Fuchsia Cross With Merits. Yes, that's a new thing.
SGP:654 - 89 points.

(Thank you Tim)

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

 

March 15, 2021


Whiskyfun

Bunnahabhains in disorder

There are so many Bunnahabhains that building a verticale would be too painful, with too many similar whiskies consecutively. Even if Bunnahabhain is a wonderful malt whisky… What's more, we'll probably encounter peaters, which may make this even trickier…

Bunnahabhain 2014/2020 (54.3%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, for Singapore, 82 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 2014/2020 (54.3%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, for Singapore, 82 bottles) Three stars and a half
Tiny cask tiny outturn, by law. Colour: straw. Nose: all right, a peater already. I've always found the Moines much less coastal than, say neighbours Caol Ila, and much more on coal and wood smoke. This is a good example, while the oak's spices may have added to this feeling. Charcoal, barbecued fish, ginger, bell pepper, smoked ham, new rubber bands… With water: sawn plywood, new parquet, rubber, new tyres, more bell pepper, capsicum… Mouth (neat): thick mouthfeel and many smoked spices, mustard, chewing those rubber bands, more smoked ham, pepperoni… With water: back to capsicum and this time, more salty elements, seawater, lemon marmalade, capers, samphires… And always quite some rubber. Finish: very long, salty and rubbery. No bad rubber here, mind you. Comments: I've never been a huge fan of these young Islay bodybuilders but I would say this one's rather in the upper league. It's just a little tiring, perhaps, you cannot have more than 1cl at any given time IMHO. Oh and no fruits whatsoever.
SGP:267 - 83 points.

Bunnahabhain 2013/2020 (48%, Skene, hogshead, casks #878 & 879, 504 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 2013/2020 (48%, Skene, hogshead, casks #878 & 879, 504 bottles) Four stars
I believe this one's a peater too. All young ones are peaters, generally speaking. Colour: white wine. Nose: less oak, so a brighter whisky, fresher, less spicy, and more coastal. We're talking langoustines, oysters and king crabs mind you, iodine, a little rubber too, whiffs of mint, and green bananas. Who said peated Bunny was less coastal only five minutes ago? Pff... Mouth: oh very good! I would add these intermediary strengths work best too, no need to toy with your pipette or mocha spoon, but you can. Salty, smoky, with quite some lapsang souchong and three olives. No, four. That's all very good, easy, bright, tense, almost refreshing. Some aniseed. Finish: long, fresh, a tad sweeter (liquorice, pastis) and clearly maritime. Readymade margarita. Comments: very easy, very good, a no-fuss peater for folks that are having better things to do (like what?)
SGP:457 - 86 points.

Bunnahabhain 23 yo 1997/2020 (52.3%, The Golden Cask for The Whisky Barrel, bourbon, cask #CM265, 277 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 23 yo 1997/2020 (52.3%, The Golden Cask for The Whisky Barrel, bourbon, cask #CM265, 277 bottles) Four stars and a half
1997? Those are the early peaters if I'm not mistaken, I remember very fondly when we first tried these mystery batches with dear John McLellan, whose house in Port Charlotte we used to rent every year... Sob… Colour: white wine. Nose: yeah these batches were less peaty and more on vegetal oils, hessian, seaweed, iodine, embrocations and bandages, raw wool… So they were a little more 'natural Islay', I would say. With water: perfect. Damp chalk, grist, more raw wool, a little liquorice (wood)… Mouth (neat): tense, sweet, still young, with this feeling of smoked pears and even pineapples. The body was a tad thinner (than younger Moines), but there was a lot of pleasure to be had with these batches. Kippers, smoked oysters and mussels, touch of caraway… With water: I believe they were more in line with their closer to Port Askaig. Awesome lemonness and coastalness. Finish: rather long and very vertical, blade-y, pure. Comments: why they've seemingly changed the recipe, I don't know. Did the neighbours start complaining at some point?
SGP:456 - 88 points.

Bunnahabhain 6 yo 2013/2020 (59.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #10.195, refill bourbon hogshead, 'Shiver me timbers', 288 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 6 yo 2013/2020 (59.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #10.195, refill bourbon hogshead, 'Shiver me timbers', 288 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: this one's hot, on medicinal alcohol and raw kirsch I would say. A little mud, wool… But yet another peater! With water: almost no changes. Smoked barley and a little menthol, plus more wool. Did they distil sheep? Oh and olives. Mouth (neat): lemony peat, brine, pink olives, drops of mezcal. With water: really very good, even if it's perhaps a little too sweet, which may make it a little dissonant. But it's good and olives are always doing the job. Finish: rather long, a little raw. It's true that it's really young. Smoked kirschwasser, should anyone ever try to make that. Who's game? Comments: it's really sweet, and it's really good, but perhaps was it bottled a little too early. I suppose some vodkas are older, ha.
SGP:646 - 83 points.

More of that breed…

Bunnahabhain 5 yo 2013/2019 (58.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 720 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 5 yo 2013/2019 (58.9%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 720 bottles) Four stars
This one from three young barrels. I mean, they bottled this one even before it was distilled! Colour: white wine. Nose: tincture of iodine, green apples, vine peaches, seaweed, concrete, rainwater, brine. This is intriguing and certainly not immature. With water: more on hospital notes, iodine, mercurochrome and all that. Mouth (neat): I hate to say that this is very good at 5, if still a little sweetish. Pears and lemons, all the rest is perfect, seawater, oysters, charcoal, peach gums, lemon cream, limoncello… With water: disappointingly to my liking. I think I missed this one, I should have tried it as it came in. Apple and lemon juice, lapsang, oyster water, and clearly some good fino sherry. Yeah I know, BB barrels. Finish: long, salty, clean, millimetric, medicinal, salty. Comments: hold on, there 5yo barrels, that's 15 years then, no? Anyway, huge Q/A ratio here.
SGP:456 - 87 points.

Five's a good deal with young peaters. See you next time then.

(Thank you Benjamin)

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


March 2021 - part 1 <--- March 2021 - part 2 ---> April 2021 - part 1


 

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1990/2020 (45.5%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Virtual Feis Ile 2020, Edition 4, 451 bottles)

Springbank 15 yo 1973/1989 'Ageing Monography' (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, 75cl)

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, +/-1995)

Springbank 25 yo 1994/2020 (45.4%, WhiskySponge, refill sherry hogshead, 209 bottles) 

Waterford 'Single Farm: Grattansbrook 1.1' (50%, OB, Irish, batch #F0312E01-01, 2021)

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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