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Hi, you're in the Archives, May 2018 - Part 1

       

April 2018 - part 2 <--- May 2018 - part 1 ---> May 2018 - part 2

 

May 14, 2018


Whiskyfun

Ardbeg because we love to

We’ve had quite a few newer Ardbegs recently, but today we’ll have two older ones. No message here, whether hidden or not, that’s just what our assistant (Aston the Scottish fold) has chosen for us… Well, not exactly, he’s rather busy with his new croquettes these days…

Ardbeg 1991/2000 (46%, Murray McDavid, cask #MM 3112)

Ardbeg 1991/2000 (46%, Murray McDavid, cask #MM 3112) Three stars and a half
Remember these? I’ve tried quite a few batches back then but this one had slipped through my fingers. They did make many miniatures out of this wee vatting, and indeed I’m trying this one from such a miniature. One less for the collectors! Colour: white wine. Nose: it is simpler Ardbeg, with oysters, a touch of barley sugar, a wee bit of icing sugar, three drops of lime juice, a glass of fresh cider (without all the sugars that brands are adding to cider), and some cigarette smoke that gets in your eyes (according to Jerome Kern). It’s nice, it’s easy, it’s simple. Mouth: good, slightly fermentary and a bit too rubbery, perhaps, with a pleasant saltiness and quite some bottled lemon juice. The smokiness is rather on the tarry side, while there’s more and more salt. Smoked salmon, kippers, more smoked salmon… Finish: medium, a tad sour in a good way (more cider), salty and kippery. Comments: perhaps not an Ardbeg to write home about, but at a similar age (9 here), contemporary ‘begs appear to be smokier and thinner (meaning less oily) at the same time. Good not great, as we used to say…
SGP:456 - 84 points.

While we’re in the olden days…

Ardbeg 1975/1999 (45.2%, OB, hand bottled at the distillery, sherry, cask #4702, 214 bottles)

Ardbeg 1975/1999 (45.2%, OB, hand bottled at the distillery, sherry, cask #4702, 261 bottles) Five stars
All right, this one comes with a little story. In fact my very good young Singaporean friend and co-Malt Maniac Benjamin Chen and his lovely wife Marilyn just had an equally lovely baby named Lelia. Beautiful name, that’s nicer than whisky folks naming their offspring Charlotte, Magdalene or Ellen – not to mention Cherie - if you ask me! Anyway, Benjamin made this wee Ardbeg kind of the official dram to celebrate Lelia’s birth, and just mailed me a few cls so that we could all celebrate accordingly. How charming, isn’t it! So let us proceed…

Colour: apricoty gold. Nose: of course. It’s like when you’ve listened to zillions of rock and roll records and you get back to the Zauberflöte. There’s something obvious and unstoppable to this. Roasted chestnuts and fumes, perhaps, old embrocations and leather polish, most certainly. Whiffs of old kinds of oils that even our fathers had forgotten about, then this very peculiar meatiness that only great sherry could bring to whiskies, around proper artisan bresaola and Grisons meat. All that is smoked to perfection, no need to say.

Mouth: I could start swearing but we’re celebrating a birth, aren’t we. This is rather fat, the sherry cask was perfect (it was not quickly re-seasoned in any Scottish ‘bodega’), there is some tobacco for sure, Seville oranges, some eucalyptus most certainly, a complex spice mix (star anise, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds…) and, above everything, this rich and salty Ardbegness that’s not often to be encountered these days. Let’s say older Ardbegs used to resemble proper cough medicine, if you like. Now what’s proper cough medicine? A personal feeling, I would say. Finish: long, with wee fermentary touches that are just perfect. Almond milk and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s not unusual that ‘sherry’ and ‘peat’ are simply clashing, in my opinion, but proper sherry wood and old Ardbeg would just tango throughout the night, until WE are exhausted. Congrats, Marilyn and Ben, and welcome, Liela!
SGP:467 - 93 points (100 points to Lelia!)

Liela

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

 

May 13, 2018


Whiskyfun

Un peu de Cognac

As I always say, Cognac can be fantastic, provided you focus on small houses that produce it as anyone should, that is to say with very little to no obscuration and if possible, no boisé, and even better although not mandatory, with grapes and wines from their own vineyards. Oh and at higher strengths, not saying that we need 50% vol. plus, but 40% are now really passé, unless those are natural 40%, but that’s very rare. So, let’s see what we have today…


Typical still house, here without wine heaters

Prisset ‘XO’ (40%, OB, Petite Fine Champagne, +/-2015)

Prisset ‘XO’ (40%, OB, Petite Fine Champagne, +/-2015) Two stars
This is own estate Cognac, said to be between 30 and 40 years of age. I believe ‘Petite Fine Champagne’ means exactly the same thing as ‘Petite Champagne’, while ‘Fine Champagne’  alone indicates a blend of Petite and Grande Champagne, with a minimum of 50% Grande Champagne. Confused? Let’s have Cognac! Colour: orange-y gold, never too good (the colour of many Scotch blends). Nose: rather light, but pleasantly raisiny, with grassy touches in the background, apple peelings, a little bit of praline, white peaches, a touch of fudge… It’s really very soft and gentle. A little mint as well in the background, which usually comes with older age. Mouth: extremely soft. Apple pie, hints of walnuts, raisins and chocolate, a touch of blood orange that lifts it a bit… But it tends to lose steam. Finish: short, with a hint of café latte and triple-sec. Comments: not enough oomph for me, which makes it a little disjointed. Other than that, the juice is fine, I think.
SGP:440 - 76 points.

Let’s try a bigger house…

Hine ‘Antique XO Premier Cru’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2017)

Hine ‘Antique XO Premier Cru’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
Said to be more than 10 years of age, which isn’t much, is it? The 40% sound pretty bad given that this is meant to be a prestige bottling, let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: fruitier than the Prisset, and younger for sure. But not sure that’s a flaw in this context, I do enjoy this honeyed and fruity freshness. Grapes and heather honey, ripe Provence melons, juicy sultanas, some fresh liquorice, a touch of chestnut honey, some flowers (broom, perhaps, dandelions)… Very pleasant nose. Mouth: pretty focused on liquorice at first, gets then more almondy, with also a little tobacco, stewed pineapples and peaches, and a feeling of cedar wood. Oranges. Tends to become a little flattish and cardboardy/oaky, and that is the low strength. Finish: short, almost abrupt. Oak in the aftertaste. Comments: a missed opportunity (but then again, who am I?)
SGP:541 - 78 points.

More oomph please!...

Jean Fillioux ‘XO Grande Réserve’ (44%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018)

Jean Fillioux ‘XO Grande Réserve’ (44%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
Own-estate Cognac house Jean Fillioux had a wonderful single cask for Holland last year (WF 85). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s amazing to realise that only 4 extra-% are adding so much depth and presence to an aged spirit. In this very case, peaches and melons are much more vivid, and so are flowers (honeysuckle, lilies) and soft herbal spices, cardamom, dill, even chive, oxalis… A rather wonderful earthiness too. Mouth: sure it is a tad rougher than the others, but I’d say that’s the whole point. Oranges, vanilla, raisins, a touch of muscat, tangerines… All works well in sync here, with a perfect mouth feel, even if it’s probably not extremely complex. Finish: long, orange-y, without any flabbiness. Some cinnamon in the aftertaste, classic. Comments: much to my liking, it’s a relatively easy, well-built everyday Cognac with perfect presence, I would say.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

So…

Jean Fillioux ‘N°1’ (46%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018)

Jean Fillioux ‘N°1’ (46%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018) Four stars and a half
This one is said to be sixty years of age, depending on the sources. Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh! Now we’re really talking, with quinces, citrons, fennel seeds, marmalade, lime blossom, orange blossom, spearmint, liquorice wood, wormwood, woodruff… All those tiny herbs and plants do really make it complex and just pretty sublime. With Cognac, age does matter, if I may… Mouth: love this. It’s pretty unpolished, even a tad rough, but that’s an asset here. Perfect liquorice plus orange combo at first, beeswax, then touches of cider, cardamom, blackcurrants, pomegranates… I’m even finding a little cinchona (Apérol, just ten times nicer). Finish: long, a tad rough (again, an asset in this context), with a little orange-flavoured fudge. Perhaps. Comments: totally high class. Not sure it is true that this is 60yo juice, but anyway, quality’s really very high.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Vallein Tercinier 27 yo ‘Lot 90’ (49.7%, Maltbarn, Grande Champagne, 2018)

Vallein Tercinier 27 yo ‘Lot 90’ (49.7%, Maltbarn, Grande Champagne, 2018) Five stars
I find it cool that the excellent Maltbarn would delve into Cognac. Now we can’t claim they didn’t choose their source wisely, can we… Colour: gold. Nose: Vallein Tercinier are making Cognacs that appeal to malt lovers, and this is another example why, with these perfect notes of natural vanilla, this melon jam, the quinces and apricots, the whiffs of chocolate mint (ever nosed that?), this panettone, orange blossom water, beeswax, even pollen, orange cake… Mouth: perfect. Candied citrus, whisky-y touches of mangos, a little peppermint, a drop of lavender honey (from Valensole, naturally), some candied angelica, perhaps even a slice of fresh rhubarb… Finish: pretty long, with a little vanilla and a little tea. I told you, it’s slightly whisky-y. All for the better. Comments: I’ll keep looking for flaws. See you next year…
SGP:651 - 91 points.

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

 

May 12, 2018


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Drams of New York
Apologies for such an awful title. I was in New York this past week and had a chance to meet some great whisky people and share a few drams. Although, I only managed time to record a mere triplet of notes. As you can see they were all ‘highlights’.

 

Highland Park 20 yo 1975/1995 (54.3%, Signatory Vintage for USA) Highland Park 20 yo 1975/1995 (54.3%, Signatory Vintage for USA)
Colour: Gold. Nose: Pure acacia honey, soft cigar tobacco, the lightest, earthiest lick of peat. Aged mead, a touch of lemony goats cheese, white pepper, camphor and some kind of heather infused wax. Totally beautiful, pure Highland Park. With water: the fruits really sing now. Lemon jelly, damson puree, nectar, baked apples and mustard seeds. Mouth: Syrupy, salty wax. Herbal liqueur, aged muscat and quince jelly. All the soot, wax, soft peat, herbs, heather and background fruits you could want from an HP. With water: totally beautiful! Olive oil mixed with mead and various ointments and a touch of sea water. Glazed fruits, toasted nuts and a little paraffin. Finish: Long, complex, oily and with a resurgent herbal peat which is pure Orkney. Comments: To think these sorts of casks were ubiquitous and cheap at one point. Not that I approve of such obscene nostalgia however. A totally brilliant and classical Highland Park.
SGP: 563 - 92 points.
 

 

Glen Grant 1972/1995 23 yo (55.8%, Signatory Vintage for USA, sherry)

Glen Grant 23 yo 1972/1995 (55.8%, Signatory Vintage for USA, sherry)
Colour: Amber. Nose: Dense fig jam diluted with prune juice and cognac then topped with a fist full of sultans. Earthy, lean, pristine old school sherry permeating everything. Some notes of coal hearth and soy sauce, but generally this is about the density and intensity of the fruits. With water: please call the antimaltoporn brigade! In fact, I’m not sure I have the number for their New York branch... superbly and pristinely fresh, complex, earthy, luscious and increasingly spicy. Mouth: spectacularly intense and resinous. A generosity of dark and unctuous fruits along with whole shovels of moist earth, walnut wine, ancient pinot noir and baked raisins. Some meatiness as well in the form of game, then dried cranberries, black olive paste and mineral oil. Totally spectacular! With water: strawberry wine with more walnuts, fresh grapefruit, mint leaf, pipe tobacco... the list of flavours could go on and on. Finish: Endless, resinous, earthy, spicy, fruity... perfect and stunning in other words. Comments: Glen Grant 1972 captured at a perfect age from a totally stunning cask - what more to say...
SGP: 751 - 93 points.

 

 

Smooth Ambler 8 yo ‘Old Scout Rye’ (64.1%, OB for Smoky Beast, cask #990) Smooth Ambler 8 yo ‘Old Scout Rye’ (64.1%, OB for Smoky Beast, cask #990)
Colour: deep amber. Nose: the purest kind of wood polish. Oak spice, boot polish, freshly ground black pepper, precious hardwood shavings, the inside of a freshly made acoustic guitar. Various waxes, mineral oil, orange bitters, throat sweets, cough medicine and crushed cloves. With water: these boot polish notes really increase with water and at the same time there’s more cloves, paint, ointment and now mint jelly as well. Becomes almost smoky with time with these notes of earl grey tea and bergamot. Mouth: undeniably hot and peppery but also polished and lean in its spiciness. Vanilla cream laced with maraschino cherry syrup, brown bread and marzipan. With water: pure Rye spiciness. Lots of black pepper, cumin, brown bread, smoked oatmeal, corn bread and an almost leathery sootiness. Finish: Long, earthy and full of black tea, raspberry jam, charcoal biscuity and jagged spiciness. Comments: my kind of American Whiskey. The syrup and spice of the distillate are perfectly controlled - and controlling of - the wood. A really compelling and perfect ‘whole’. I love it.
SGP: 542 - 91 points.
 

 

Big thanks to Josh and Kurt  

 

 

May 11, 2018


Whiskyfun

A few Scottish blends, part zwei

We’re back with more young blends, and no, that’s not obligatorily pure masochism. 

White Horse (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)

White Horse (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017) Two stars
It’s probably not one of the stellar White Horses of days gone by, and not sure Lagavulin’s still glittering in the back, let’s see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: indeed, not one of the old ones, rather a pearish, very faintly smoky (but very, very faintly) blend, with a little cardboard and toasted pastries. Very light altogether, nothing to do with, you know, those old ones that were so great. Mouth: a little more kick and knack, but there’s a little too much burnt caramel for me, which makes it a tad bitter. Notes of paper, oranges, cardboard… But hold on, it does tend to become rather fiercer and more oomphy after a good two minutes, with even something remotely salty. A little tobacco. Finish: medium, a little too bitter, like many entry-range blends. Comments: not quite as much to my liking than Johnnie Red (never thought I’d write that one day), but it remains one of the gooder ones.
SGP:352 - 74 points.

Mitchell’s (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)

Mitchell’s (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
One of Springbank’s brands, this may get more interesting, as I’ve heard there is some of theirs inside (Springbank or Glengyle)… Colour: almost white. Good, no caramel added. Nose: malt! Do you hear me? Malt! And with a coastal side, some sea breeze, then rather fresh almonds, grapefruits, muesli, blond tobacco, a little chalk, mint leaves, white tequila… It’s not unlike a shier Springbank, if you will… Mouth: tastes like at least 50% malt, and I would wager even more. Same profile, some chalky/coastal elements, good muesli, chalk, lemons, a smokiness, some tobacco, some grass… Finish: a little short but we’re fine. A little more earthy smoke and a few bitter fruits. Green ones. Comments: not quite stardom yet but it sure is one of the better ones. Would have been even better at 43% vol., but I know, taxes…
SGP:352 - 79 points.

Dew of Ben Nevis ‘Blue Label’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)

Dew of Ben Nevis ‘Blue Label’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017) Two stars
There are various label colours, never quite tried to understand what they mean. But there ought to be Ben Nevis inside… Colour: white wine. Nose: back to fresh pastries, croissants, bread dough, scones, then rather gooseberries and fatter fruits, maybe peaches. It’s really fun to see that while the Mitchell’s was Springbanky (in general, could have been Glengyle indeed), this one’s clearly Ben Nevis. Definitely distillery blends. Mouth: hey hey, this isn’t half good! Rather rough, perhaps, but nicely porridge and doughy, with yeast and white fruits. Sadly it tends to become a little too cardboardy after a short while. Finish: short, a little too bitter, with notes of pot ale. Comments: looks like the label was done by a trainee around the year 1985. Otherwise it’s a rather fine blend.
SGP:451 - 75 points.

Dew of Ben Nevis ‘Supreme Selection’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)

Dew of Ben Nevis ‘Supreme Selection’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)
Looks like even the names had been chosen by that very same (Japanese?) trainee… Colour: pale gold. Nose: a little more fatness, more American oak, butter, and gravel. Not sure I like this one better, it’s rather lost the blue one’s fruitiness. Mouth: difficult. Cardboard, burnt herbs and papers, English white toasts, sunflower oil, vanillin… Finish: short and dry. Better drink a glass of water straight away. Comments: so very un-Ben Nevis! Did that trainee compose the vattings too? Ben Nevis’ malts have gotten so fantastic these days, couldn’t they upgrade their blends too? I know, patience is the mother of whisky…
SGP:361 - 50 points.

Well, we know what these blends do need, don’t we. It’s what we’re not having in tasting conditions… A lot of ice! But let’s move on…

Isle of Skye 8 yo (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)

Isle of Skye 8 yo (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017) Two stars and a half
Ian MacLeod’s famous brand. No, nowhere does it say that there is some Talisker inside, but at least it’s got an age statement… Colour: deeper gold. Nose: well, it’s got an ‘Islands’ side indeed, it’s rather fresh, there’s good malt content, it’s got more body, and I do enjoy these whiffs of seaweed and overripe apples. Perhaps a few figs that suggest sherry’s been in use here. Mouth: fine! Rather smoky (there might be a peater inside), a little toasty as well, with Seville oranges, raisin cookies, and then a leathery side. We’re rather on the malty side here, which is rather cool. Finish: medium, with a little more pepper, although the aftertaste’s rather cardboardy. Almost all young blends are cardboardy at this stage, aren’t they. Comments: one should cut the finishes in these blends!
SGP:452 - 77 points.

Blends, we have to talk!...

Royal Glendee ‘100°proof’ (+/-57%, OB, blend, +/-1960)

Royal Glendee ‘100°proof’ (+/-57%, OB, blend, +/-1960) Five stars
Royal Glendee or Royal Glen Dee was the very first brand of blended Scotch by Chivas Bros and was launched in the mid-19th Century, way before they did Chivas Regal (1909). But this one’s more recent, although I’m not sure the brand’s still active, is it? Colour: gold. Nose: ho-ho, a whole different world. A wonderful coastal maltiness, some seashells, some soot, beeswax, figs, heather honey, quinces… In truth I would have said this was an old young Highland Park, serious. With water: ooh, sweet mushrooms! And more figs, some honeydew, smoked ham, a feeling of high-strength mead … No, not distilled, I did try to distil some honey after having made some mead, that kills all aromas, and now I’m sitting with 50l raw ethanol. But digressing again… Mouth (neat): aww, this has power and punch! More figs, salted fruits, clams, tobacco, candied lemons, raisins, more figs, smoke… Pretty brilliant. With water: would love to know which malts are in there. Very very good, firm, complex, and totally ‘un-blend’ by today’s standards. Finish: long, on some kind of salty fruitcake. A spoonful of miso soup in the aftertaste. Comments: those were the days, as they say at the film club.
SGP:553 - 90 points.

Oh to hell…

White Horse (40%, OB, blend, +/-1961)

White Horse (70°proof, OB, blend, +/-1961) Five stars
Indeed, rotation 1961. Colour: gold. Nose: sweet Jesus, Mary and Joseph, this is splendid. We’re geared towards beehive-y aromas rather then straight peat smoke, and nowhere else will you find this splendid botrytissy profile, except in old Yquem or in a few old Alsatian grains nobles. Okay, or in Austria…  Grilled mushrooms, quinces, apricot pie, pipe tobacco, Spanish ham… It is magnificent. Mouth: impeccable, a tad leathery, salty, very Islay-y, with some wonderful tobacco and always this subtle saltiness, then rather beef soup, Thai bouillon… and stuff. A wee hint of chilli (Sriracha mayo)… Finish: long – at 40% - and extremely complex. Smoke, lemons, oysters, figs… As I sometimes say, more a movie than a still photography. Comments: no wonder everyone’s looking for these old White Horses, although they’re not all equals. This rotation 1961 was the top of the heap.
SGP:453 - 91 points.

Don’t we have room for a last one?...

Johnnie Walker 'Black Label' (43%, OB, blend, +/-1965)

Johnnie Walker 'Black Label' (43%, OB, blend, +/-1965) Five stars
They were saying it was ‘Extra Special’ and we believe them. The Beatles and the Stones were drinking this! Now JW Black remained a fine drop throughout the years, but of course, how could you fight some 1950s (and possibly 1940s) distillates with very high malt proportions? Colour: gold. Nose: have I ever found this much toasted bread in a whisky? It’s an amazing ‘transmutation’ of peat smoke, with a wonderful ashy side, roasted chestnuts, charcoal, walnuts, lit Partagas… Magnificent, really, and a style that’s nowhere to be seen today. But remember, fifty-five years in glass… Mouth: speechless. Please call the anti-blendoporn brigade! Parma ham, porcinis, foccacia, roasted chestnuts again, raisins, praline, cereal bars, ashes, tobacco… Wow, really, wow! I cannot not think of that old gentleman with a moustache that used to be JW’s master blender (I think they were simply saying blender) in the old Johnnie Walker ads. He was very good at his art! Finish: surprisingly long, with some salt, clams, oysters, chocolate, ashes… It’s just endless. Comments: I liked the style of the White Horse just a little better, but frankly, this is in the very same league.
SGP:362 - 91 points.

No wonder some use to claim that Scotch whisky as a whole is smoky. Coz it was. See you!

(Thank you Menno and Ron – I know, I’ve taken my time…)

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

 

May 10, 2018


Whiskyfun

A few Scottish blends just for fun

Just a random selection of what we have in the library. I do like blends when they shelter high malt contents, or when they are very old, naturally… After all and anyway, the major players keep claiming that the whisky industry’s all about blends… (not too sure the official figures do confirm that, having said that)…

Johnnie Walker ‘Red Label’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)

Johnnie Walker ‘Red Label’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
THE blend, the one that got us all into whisky, for good and worse reasons. A brand that we ought to respect against all odds, even if they’re selling millions of cases per year. Colour: gold. Nose: flat apples. Not that that exists, but it’s a feeling. Cider, caramel, butter pears, ripe plums. There isn’t much happening in there, but there are no foul notes either. Mouth: surprisingly good. Say goodish. There is the usual peatiness, and sure it tends to become rather too cardboardy and flabby, but I had thought it would have been much worse. Puréed onions, apple crumble, caramel, overripe pears, and guess what, m.a.l.t.. Really, m.a.l.t. whisky, your honour. Surprised, really. Finish: medium, malty, not bitter, not weak, not caramely, not cardboardy, not metallic, not (too) grainy, not oaky, not vanilla-ed, not dull. Comments: I was ready to go to the mid-60s as far as points are concerned (remember, points are actually percentages) but I was too negative. The finish was really nice, mind you, exactly the opposite of what I had expected. I suppose the oceans of malt whisky that they have distilled in recent years have helped… Bravo, communist Johnnie Walker!
SGP:452 - 78 points.

Grant’s Family Reserve (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)

Grant’s Family Reserve (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018) one star and a half
It’s a family business, so they have a family reserve. Makes sense, doesn’t it (although I’d wager the actual family reserve would rather shelter Balvenie 1970…) Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a rounder, softer, rather cakier blend, rather on brioche, soft breads, popcorn, raisin bagel, shortbread… And its certainly not un-nice. Mouth: oh, surprise surprise, this ain’t bad! Nice arrival, malty, with stewed apples and some candy sugar. But things go pear-shaped after that, with some cardboard, bitter caramel, burnt wood… A shame because it all started pretty well. It hates the distance, it seems. Finish: no. Pears and cardboard, with a little smoke in the aftertaste. Ailsa Bay? Typical entry-level Scottish blend. Comments: what we had anticipated, not more, not less.
SGP:341 - 68 points.

VAT 69 (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)

VAT 69 (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)
I know, I know, this is a whisky blog. Perhaps… Oh never mind, and after all, this is a 100-scale, meaning that some spirits are worth 99/100, whilst others should be worth 1/100. But hey, VAT 69 is worth approx 8.50€ a bottle in France, so only good surprises should occur… Colour: caramel gold. Nose: no no no no no. Old almonds and rotten pears, plus beetroot sugar syrup. Mouth: oh, this isn’t that bad! I mean, it’s acceptable, it’s got a wee smokiness, it’s got sour apples, some beer, mashed grains and vegetables, caramel… Really, it’s not totally unpleasant, and the proportions of cardboard are kept to a minimum. Finish: short, but rather okay. It’s even rather malty. Sadly, the aftertaste is rather horrible, bitter and drying. Comments: I’m starting to wonder if all this malt whisky they’ve been distilling since around 2012 are not already improving the blends these days. Really, this isn’t too bad.
SGP:241 - 65 points.

J&B ‘Rare’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)

J&B ‘Rare’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)
Indeed, in whisky's counter-dictionary, rare means very common, while old means very young. Which is actually very interesting, philosophically speaking… BTW, J&B have already been responsible for many a hangover (and accidents, marriages, births, divorces, bankruptcies, falls, decadences…) Colour: straw. Nose: very light it was and very light it is. Some syrup, some vanilla, some popcorn, last year’s apples… And, and, and… Mouth: fine, easy, very soft, undemanding. Now like most commercial blends, it tends to fall apart, getting cardboardy and, well, very vague. Finish: short but rather clean, and then vague. An odd pepperiness in the aftertaste (old pepper). Comments: as rare as assault rifles in Amerikka. We’re losing steam, aren’t we.
SGP:331 - 50 points.

Indeed, isn’t this getting worse and worse?...

Haig ‘Gold Label’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)

Haig ‘Gold Label’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)
They say there’s 40% malt whisky inside. Why wouldn’t we believe them? Now totally love it that they would have kept the old livery… And hey, now that they’ve put the stoopid grain into those unlikely Beckhamy blue bottles, there’s even more hope… Colour: gold. Nose: shhh, whisky sleeping… Sawn wood, perhaps… Burnt scones, perhaps… Perhaps… Perhaps… Mouth: ah, there’s life! The nose was totally absent, but this palate is a little better. Sour oranges, apples… But also burnt wood, cardboard, supermarket chocolate… Now other sides are nicer (plums) but it’s too weak… Finish: short, flat, but relatively clean. Comments: do not, ever, compare modern Haig to the older ones. It’s Koons vs. Canaletto.
SGP:331 - 55 points.

Grant’s Signature (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)

Grant’s Signature (40%, OB, blend, +/-2018)
Signature, a brand name that’s reeking of the good old 1950s… Or of some Friday afternoon marketing meetings. Approx 15€ a bottle in France, that’s already top-shelf material (as far as cheap NAS blends are concerned). Colour: gold. Nose: shall we call it Glenfiddichy? Cakes, overripe apples, milk chocolate. Our pal Rudolf Lindt would have approved. Mouth: not bad. Some good vanilla – I mean, casks – have been in use. Some sawdust, some toasted bread, some caramel, but the backbone remains bitter and rather too leafy. Why don’t they play it totally sweet? Finish: short, cardboardy. Cinnamon and burnt sugar, sawdust in the aftertaste. Comments: I think I liked the Family Reserve better. More oak is not the way, if I humbly may…
SGP:341 - 60 points.

A pause, we need a pause! See you tomorrow…

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

 

May 9, 2018


Whiskyfun

Funny things from Bruichladdich

Independent ones this time…

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11830, 276 bottles)

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11830, 276 bottles) Four stars and a half
Old Particular, but not particularly old (not too proud of that one)… This baby should stem from the unpeated years, meaning after the former new owners had stopped using lightly peated malt. Colour: gold. Nose: those batches have become really very splendid, textbook creamy yet fresh malt with a very faint phenolic background, hardly noticeable if you do not give it all your attention. Wee whiffs of shoe polish. Love it. Mouth (neat): ho-ho, this is actually very phenolic, which is a tad puzzling as it doesn’t quite taste like ‘classic’ Laddie. I’m finding some camphor, some menthol, some cigar smoke, more waxes and indeed shoe polish, olive oil, melons and oranges, a drop of some kind of sweetened mustard, and surely a certain fatness – its fatter than the ‘usual’ Bruichladdich. Finish: long, with some cholophilly notes this time. Green tobacco, mint... Comments: some kind of experimental Laddie? Is there some PC inside? I’m finding this baby extremely good.
SGP:463 - 88 points.

Bruichladdich 6 yo (55.9%, Dramfool, bloodtub, cask #4091)

Bruichladdich 6 yo (55.9%, Dramfool, bloodtub, cask #4091, 2017) Four stars and a half
The owners always told us that these bloodtubs were **** in the *** to use, since they were leaking like ****. But we’ve tried several brilliant ones; I suppose you can’t have it both ways (which, in my opinion, should be the whisky industry’s main motto!) Colour: gold. Not a sherry bloodtub, the whisky would be black. Nose: bizarrely, it is straighter and cleaner than the 2005, more on the typical ‘vanilla-ed coastal melons’, although there would be several tinier notes arising, especially small berries, blueberries, service-berries… That’s funny and interesting, reminding us of many a white Alsatian eau-de-vie. With water: rather more vanilla, but it’s all kind of natural. Other than that, small berries abound… Mouth (neat): fat, creamy, and yet extraordinarily melony. There’s always melon in Bruichladdich, but this has more melon than melon. Didn’t I make my point? With water: you bet! But it’s rather going towards melon syrup. Citron liqueur too (check the Corsicans’). Finish: long, immensely fruity, becoming a tad more citrusy. So citrons over melons… Comments: huge fruitiness in this small baby. A shame that bloodtubs are/were so small…
SGP:741 - 89 points.

Bruichladdich 15 yo 2002/2017 (57.1%, North Star Spirits, 264 bottles)

Bruichladdich 15 yo 2002/2017 (57.1%, North Star Spirits, 264 bottles) Four stars
This one was matured in French oak casks from coopers Radoux. As a matter of fact, I used to be well acquainted with Radoux twenty years ago – how time flies. Colour: gold. Nose: rather classic Bruichladdich this time, pretty gentler despite this medicinal oakiness. In fact, it’s pretty bandage-y. Whiffs of broken branches, also green tea. Even the melons are green. With water: iodine, Band-aids, and artisanal ointments made by some ex-London left-wing herbalist on the remotest Hebridean island there is. Mouth: you feel the oak for sure, but it’s extremely well integrated, without any dull vanillaness, and would rather impart medicinal notes yet again, before more citrons (ah!) and indeed, blueberries would chime in. Touches of Fanta Lemon (with apologies to the bottlers, the distillers, and everyone on Islay and in Scotland). With water: do not add too much water! As often with very active wood, water destabilises the whisky a bit. Finish: rather long, and pretty herbal. Good mentholy oak from Radoux’. Comments: another one that was very different. And likeable, provided you keep an open mind…
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Perhaps a last one from a few years ago…

Bruichladdich 17 yo 1990/2007 (57.9%, Riegger’s Selection, cask #34)

Bruichladdich 17 yo 1990/2007 (57.9%, Riegger’s Selection, cask #34) Three stars
So Jim Beam Brands/Invergordon’s distillate this time. Not sure anyone did any finishing on it. Colour: pale gold. Nose: natural Bruichladdich as we remembered it. Rather grassy and branche-y, with just a little vanilla, and notes of green pears and apples, then plaster and aspirin. With water: gets barley-y. Mouth (neat): rather solid fruity malt whisky, but there is quite a lot of bubblegum in the background, as well as something rose-y. Could that be perfume? With water: two-step development, first appropriate fruity notes (pears, melons, apples), then this aspirin… Finish: medium, chalky. Chalked fruits? Eaux-de-vie? Comments: rather one of the good ones, seriously. Never been a huge fan of those vintages at Bruichladdich.
SGP: - 82 points.

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

 

May 8, 2018


Whiskyfun

Deanston and Deanston

Every year there’s an old name that never quite caught much light that’s coming to the foreground. There used to be Ledaig, Benromach, or perhaps Ben Nevis, and in 2017, in my book, it was Deanston. I think they did some amazing work with this formerly rather obscure malt whisky, but let’s check if that wasn’t just a flash in the pan…

Deanston 18 yo (46,3%, OB, +/-2017)

Deanston 18 yo (46,3%, OB, +/-2017) Four stars
We’ve tried a Cognac cask back in 2015 that’s been very good (WF 86) but this newer 18 was rather finished in first fill bourbon. Bah, just some easy re-racking, no flavouring/doping/doctoring, I suppose… Just hope whisky’s utter villain, Vanilla-Man, was not involved… Colour: gold. Nose: you know, a little vanilla is fine if it comes with some rather perfect bready tones, which is exactly what’s happening here. A lot of sourdough, fresh baguette, real pancakes, leaven… That, I’m very fond of, as some may have noticed. Mouth: genius. Sure it’s a bit spicy, and actually quite wild as far as bready flavours are concerned, but I’m just very fond of this kind of toasted, roasted, and very malty combination. Café latte, toasted bread, wholegrain bread, shortbread, speculoos, cinnamon rolls… This baby reminds us that whisky is made out of grain. Perfect body. Finish: medium, with more citrus, which just always works in any whisky’s finish, in my opinion. Just the doughy sourness in the aftertaste is a wee tad ‘too much’ for me, but that’s a detail. Comments: excellent, and very close to the raw materials. Like, rum = sugarcane, mezcal = agave, whisky = grain, and brandy = grapes. All the rest is literature. Right, marketing.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Deanston 14 yo (57.9%, OB for Quaich Bar Singapore, Spanish oak, 200 bottles, 2017)

Deanston 14 yo (57.9%, OB for Quaich Bar Singapore, Spanish oak, 200 bottles, 2017) Four stars
Cool, but what is Spanish oak, exactly? Oak that really grew on Spanish soil and that managed to avoid the building of the (supposedly) invincible armada? Or just any oak that saw any Spanish product? Sherry? Brandy? Montilla? Huelva? Else?... Not sure we’ll ever know, so, let us proceed… Colour: gold. Nose: certainly less immediate than the lovely 18 yo, possibly because of the higher strength. Say croissants, muesli, and… say churros. Yes we adapt. With water: more earth and mushrooms and humus. We shan’t complain. Mouth (neat): extremely to my liking. Spike-y oranges and lemons, then limestone and clay, then spearmint, then iodine, then mineral oils. Are they trying to Springbankise Deanston? Well if that’s the case, they are doing reasonably well, I would say. With water: these medicinal touches that are coming out are making it even more Springbanky. Quinine, aspirin tablets, Vitamin C tablets… Finish: rather long, and even more mineral and medicinal. And bready! Comments: Springbank with drops of Longrow, actually. The right path for sure, if I may… In short, keep watching Deanston!
Update: Our friend Rainer tells us this is most probably the same juice as that of the 'at the distillery' bottling and that the casks were ex-Lepanto brandy. Thank you Rainer.
SGP:452 - 87 points.

(Thank you Benjamin!)

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

 

May 6, 2018


Whiskyfun

Rums, focusing on likely malternatives

... Unless we find a lime duck (check the last one)...

Barbancourt 13 yo 2004/2017 (49.3%, The Rum Mercenary, Haiti)

Barbancourt 13 yo 2004/2017 (49.3%, The Rum Mercenary, Haiti) Four stars and a half
Wait, a rum mercenary, that’s what’s called a buccaneer, no? Let’s see whether this will be Barbancourt’s older, fatter style, or its newer, lighter one. Colour: straw. Nose: we’re extremely close to the cane here, this is almost pure freshly pressed cane juice. Add just one drop of banana liqueur and one drop of pineapple juice, if you will, and after three minutes, a drop of pumpkin seed oil. Mouth: yeah, very good. Its own style, both fresh and light, and yet rather fat and well textured underneath that. Very cane-y, for sure, with a touch of capers in brine and liquorice wood, as well as a little vegetal earth. Finish: medium, very precise and concise, purely on cane juice, with just a little orange this time. Comments: it’s not a fat monster of a rum, but it’s got plenty of cane-y character, even if it’s not high-proof artisanal Haitian clairin. Kudos to the buccaneer for having unearthed this perfect fresh Barbancourt.
SGP:642 - 88 points.

This started well…

Foursquare 9 yo 2007/2017 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Barbados, 356 bottles)

Foursquare 9 yo 2007/2017 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Barbados, 356 bottles) Three stars
I believe Hunter Laing are very successful with their rum range. Excuse me? Indeed, Foursquare as well… Colour: light gold. Nose: ah, we’re going towards malt whisky this time. I’d even mention malted barley, mind you, as well as leather, cigarette tobacco, pencil shavings, and perhaps carbon paper. I think this was ‘light’ Foursquare… Mouth: indeed, it’s rather ‘Cuban’ for a Bajan, on apple juice, vanilla, melons, and indeed barley water. Touches of pineapples, though. There’s also a delicate and rather complex herbal side that’s slow to take off, with some chamomile, honeysuckle… Finish: medium and almost short, with more apple juice and touches of cinnamon. Comments: I’d go as far as saying this is a much better Havana Club. Possibly all-column Foursquare.
SGP:540 - 82 points.

South Pacific 13 yo 2004/2018 (44%, Compagnie des Indes, Fiji, cask #FSP7, 330 bottles)

South Pacific 13 yo 2004/2018 (44%, Compagnie des Indes, Fiji, cask #FSP7, 330 bottles) Three stars
Indeed, one of those crazy Fijians rums, by some of the smartest bottlers there are. Not writing that because they’re French, not at all! Colour: pale gold. Nose: tinned pineapple syrup, oak shavings, Spanish yellow melons, a drop of coconut water, and then more and more marshmallows, fresh strawberries, and Morello cherries. In other words, it’s not one of those crazy estery Fijians, in fact, my bad. Mouth: it’s quite incredible that we would have been this close to that Foursquare that we just tried. Vanilla, soft banana notes, herbal teas, touches of gingerbread, just a tiny pinhead of caraway powder, pineapples, melons… It’s surprisingly soft. Finish: shortish, smooth, light. Apple pie with cinnamon from the oven. Comments: once again, the lighter side of an otherwise pretty boisterous distillery. Not easy to follow when they do both columns and pots! (I suppose)
SGP:441 - 82 points.

So you wanted esters?...

Worthy Park 10 yo 2007/2018 (57%, Excellence Rhum, Jamaica, 199 bottles)

Worthy Park 10 yo 2007/2018 (57%, Excellence Rhum, Jamaica, 199 bottles) Four stars and a half
Full proof Worthy Park, why would anyone complain? Colour: pale gold. Nose: insane. Smoked bananas covered with mint sauce and liquoricy pineapples just starting to rot – a bit. What I was not ready to find is a blend of strawberries an litchis. Is this some kind of smoked gewurz? With water: pinewood, cedar wood… Mouth (neat): amazing spirit. Extraordinary wood-spirit tango, with some eucalyptus, pink bananas, argan oil, amaretti, agave… and only God knows what else. Highly impressive, even if it’s partially oak-driven, and rather less ‘congeneric’ than other Worthy Parks. With water: indeed not an ester-bomb at all. Grass, bananas, soft oils… And something that would rather remind me of untouched Appletons. How bizarre, no? Finish: medium, a tad buttery, smooth, peaceful (with a nod to Bob Marley)… Some oak in the aftertaste. Comments: a complete surprise. I was ready to welcome a true bomb, but what I got is a perfect, very civilised Jamaican. It sure takes all sorts…
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Hampden 17 yo 2000/2018 (55.4, Berry Bros & Rudd for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, barrel #31, 220 bottles)

Hampden 17 yo 2000/2018 (55.4, Berry Bros & Rudd for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, barrel #31, 220 bottles) Five stars
Because we couldn’t end this very pleasant session with a ‘light’ rum… It's to be noted that young Angus already tried this one last week and just adored it. Colour: straw. Nose: yeah, there. Burning pinewood, crushed olives, capers, balsamic vinegar, tarragon, pizza spice oil, shoe polish… You see… With water: all woods being burned. Pine, fir, thuja, cedar, oak… Mouth (neat): a dirty, and yet extremely engaging half-rotten, half-brine-y monster of an extremely liquorice-y spirit. With water: totally love this distillate, as much as we used to love Ardbeg fifteen years ago. A brilliant deep conversationalist of a spirit. Finish: very long, varnishy now, which is normal, just a tad late. Comments: so, who’ll be the first to officially bottle a meta-monster, 50% Ardbeg and 50% Hampden? After all, life is so short…
SGP:463 - 90 points.

A fatter Barbancourt, some lighter Foursquare, South Pacific and Worthy Park, and an Hampden that actually delivered what we were expecting, this sure wasn’t a normal session!

But there is a bonus (so to speak…)

Bumbu (35%, OB, Barbados, +/-2018)

Bumbu (35%, OB, Barbados, +/-2018)
Ermnl… There’s ‘Bumbu rum co.’ in very big letters on the lovely bottle but this is not rum as defined by European regulations, although, and everybody’s counting on that I imagine, most retailers, both offline and online, are advertising it as such (while adding unproven age claims, unlikely production methods – the purest water in the world etc. - and a whole mix-up of errors, interpretations, and fairy tales.) That’s what’s cool today, brands don’t need to explicitly lie to you, thousands of people will do that for them, more or less naively, especially online. What’s more, it says on the bottle in much, much smaller hardly readable letters that it’s ‘rum with natural flavours’. So it’s a kind of doctored concoction, made at W.I.R.D. in Barbados (who’s gonna go control production?) out of rums from various countries. So not Barbados! And of course it comes with a very fishy story, as long as your arm, about a 400 years old recipe, while the killing word ‘craft’ is being used ad nauseam. Colour: caramel. Nose: caramel. Mouth: caramel and banana. Finish: caramel and vanillin. Comments: some extremely cloying simplistic spiced rum, but the marketers have been very smart, there is no doubt. Perhaps a wee spoonful over vanilla ice cream, after all?
SGP:800 - 15 points.

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

 

May 5, 2018


Whiskyfun

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Highland Pairs: West Coast Vs East Coast...
Haven’t you heard? Totally meaningless competitions are all the rage in whisky these days. Which is the greater distillery: Teaninich or Ben Nevis? Finally, with this ultimate deciding tasting battle we will settle this great debate for all of time...

 

Ben Nevis 21 yo 1996/2018 (47.5%, Thompson Bros., refill sherry butt, 436 bottles) Ben Nevis 21 yo 1996/2018 (47.5%, Thompson Bros., refill sherry butt, 436 bottles)
Colour: Gold. Nose: Bags of toffee at first. Golden caster sugar, apples stewed in butter, touches of flaked almonds, pastries and freshly baked breads. Then this familiar Ben Nevis fruitiness that seems particularly present in these later 1990s vintages. Lots of wet grains, fresh cereals and wonderful autolytic and honeyed notes. Beautiful! Mouth: camphory, lots of olive oil, lemon barley water and crystalised tropical fruits. Mandarin liqueur, banana bread, clove rock and a kind of prickly minerality. Finish: Long and resinously fruity. Lots of bread, some green banana notes, pineapple cubes and warm peppery note. Comments: One of a number of totally fantabulous Ben Nevis that have been appearing at the moment if you ask me. Well selected by those curious Cromarty distillers.
SGP: 651 - 91 points.
 

 

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1997/2018 (57.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #78.41 ‘A real sherry monster’. Refill oloroso butt. 726 bottles) Ben Nevis 19 yo 1997/2018 (57.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #78.41 ‘A real sherry monster’. Refill oloroso butt. 726 bottles)
Colour: Light amber. Nose: Gooey chocolate and damp earth, with an overall impression of density and thickness which I find common to Ben Nevis. Leather, cured meats, smoked tea, waxes and this other Ben Nevis-esque character of overripe green and tropical fruits. Also some hessian. With water: Still lots of this fleshy, overripe fruit with geraniums, vase water, lemon peel and a rising sootiness. Mouth: A touch of rubber but also orange liqueur, maraschino cherry syrup, bitter chocolate, cola cubes and a little ointment. Although the rubbery side starts to become a little too much for me I have to say. Goes on with game, struck matches and peanut oil. With water: some burnt wood, olive oil and black pepper. Overall cleaner with water, moving more towards wet earth and crushed ferns. Some wood spice and a touch of pomegranate molasses. Finish: Long, sooty and earthy with a wee rubbery kiss at the end. Comments: A slightly muddled and muddling dram. The distillate is clearly excellent but I feel the sherry cask lets it down slightly with these intermittent rubbery notes. Water is certainly obligatory here. Having said that, it’s still overall very good Ben Nevis in my books.
SGP: 462 - 85 points.
 

 

Teaninich 33 yo 1983/2018 (46%, Berry Bros, hogshead, cask #6739)

Teaninich 33 yo 1983/2018 (46%, Berry Bros, hogshead, cask #6739)
Colour: Light gold. Nose: it’s this rather enticing and thrilling aroma of well matured highland malt whisky that you can only get with delicate wood and time. Waxes, banana chips, light cereals, a touch of white pepper, overripe pears and some green apples and gooseberries. You can also add yellow wild flowers, hay, a sprinkling of dried herbs and some good olive oil. Harmonious and still beautifully fresh. Mouth: the texture is rather light but there’s this sense of spiced honey and creamy butterscotch with warm toffee apples, more waxiness and some delicately mineral notes of chalk and pebbles. Some old ink as well. Gets increasingly spicy in a delightfully warming way with time. Finish: Good length with a crisp dryness and lots of cereals, graphite and mineral oil. Comments: Teaninich isn’t a name which sets too many hearts alight but some of these early 80s ones are really lovely after 30 or so years of slow maturation.
SGP: 451 - 90 points.

 

 

Teaninich 1983 32 yo (50.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #59.54, ‘Elegant, class and simply beautiful’. Refill hogshead, 186 bottles) Teaninich 32 yo 1983 (50.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #59.54, ‘Elegant, class and simply beautiful’. Refill hogshead, 186 bottles)
Colour: Gold. Nose: This one is thicker, punchier and more medicinal. Probably the cask strength being an asset here. Although there is this similar profile which teeters around between minerals, spices, waxes and cereals. Perhaps not as fruity as the Berrys but more towards a Clynelishesque waxy / coastal profile - not something we’ll be complaining about. Mouth: beautifully textured and with a layered waxiness. The fruits are more pronounced here as well, lots of lychee, green apple, banana and some spiced sultanas and quince. There’s generally a more crystallised / preserved fruit aspect to this one. Again gets spicier with time but the wood is never too loud. Finish: Again a medium-long finish full of crisp malt, some saltiness, a few crystallised citrus fruits and then warming notes of nutmeg and earl grey tea. Comments: It’s extremely hard to pick between these two really excellent Teaninich. I think we’ll play it safe and go with the same score. Terrific whisky, budget Clynelish in a similar way that Glen Ord from the same vintages can be.
SGP: 362 - 90 points.
 

 

Overall conclusions... inconclusive. Tune in next week for the ultimate ultimate tasting smackdown... (perhaps not).  

 

 

May 4, 2018


Whiskyfun

Six Dailuaines

Is that enough? Dailuaine, another distillery we never saw too often in whiskydom, until the 1st-tier names started to become scarcer and scarcer at the indies. But we shouldn’t complain, that’s a good occasion to get better acquainted with more obscure names. Justice, at last! Let’s have a wee bag of those Dailuaines…

Dailuaine 7 yo 2008/2015 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, sherry butt, cask #10960)

Dailuaine 7 yo 2008/2015 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, sherry butt, cask #10960) Three stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: muesli, porridge, sour dough (ideas of some very young bourbons), carbon paper, new magazines, Duvel. That’s beer and I’m trying to sound smart – I don’t know a thing about beer. Mouth: more sherry, some kind of herbs-flavoured caramel or fudge, butterscotch, roasted raisins and peanuts, spicy gingerbread, Stolle, cinnamon cake… Good young whisky but it’s the cask that did the largest part of the job. Well that’s what I’m feeling at this point. Finish: rather long, nutty and fudge-y, with spices and a feeling of rye. Comments: I know it’s a butt but it feels like an octave. An American Dailuaine? It’s really good, I think.
SGP:461 - 82 points.

 Let’s have an OB and see…

Dailuaine 16 yo (43%, OB, Flora and Fauna, +/-2015)

Dailuaine 16 yo (43%, OB, Flora and Fauna, +/-2015) Three stars
I last tried the F&F around the year 2000, so even before Whiskyfun. WF 81 but a lot of water has gone under the bridge since those heroic (ahem) times. Colour: gold. Nose: cake and grasses, a touch of plasticine and soap, sulphur stones, mown lawn, ink, roasted walnuts… This really is a singular style. Shall we call it ‘un-commercial’? Mouth: rather un-commercial indeed, malty and grassy, with something burnt, notes of Mars bars (or any other bars, really, Twix, whatever…) and growing notes of chicory and office coffee. Finish: medium yet fatter, and very malty. Was it finished in Ovaltine casks? Comments: this humble taster hasn’t changed one iota within 18 years. Is that bad, doc?
SGP:351 - 81 points.

Dailuaine 15 yo 2002/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask # 12016, 356 bottles)

Dailuaine 15 yo 2002/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask # 12016, 356 bottles) Three stars and a half
Shall we find some chicory again? Not many people still drink chicory, but I remember it was a happy drink. Colour: gold. Nose: rather more fruits, but there’s this chalky/sulphury thing again. We’re not talking burnt sulphur, don’t get me wrong. Apple peel, muesli and porridge, simply good bread, and yep, chicory. Could be that Dailuaine + sherry generates chicory notes. Mouth: we’re starting to talk. It’s an unusual style, meaty and kind of oily, very malty (going towards Marmite), with many roasted nuts and some raw chocolate and coffee. Some parts remind me of Mortlach, or perhaps Pittyvaich? Finish: rather long, gravely, roasted, malty. Comments: a characterful malt whisky. Never tried chicory? Try this instead…
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Lets try to find an unsherried Dailuaine…

Dailuaine-Glenlivet 13 yo 2004/2018 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 432 bottles)

Dailuaine-Glenlivet 13 yo 2004/2018 (46%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 432 bottles) Four stars and a half
Indeed I believe a single cask could be seen as ‘small batch’. He who can do more, can do less. Colour: white wine. Nose: cool, natural Dailuaine, where you’ll see that the spirits fat and mineral, pretty fermentary, beery, and not void of any fruitiness, including pineapples and pears. We’re bordering soapiness again – I guess that’s a marker – but you could also call it waxy. Paraffiny, for sure. Mouth: oh very good very very good! Waxy, oily, I’d even call it suet-y, spicy – and you’d feel that’s not coming from the wood, for once. Wonderful herbalness. Finish: long, waxy, grassy, almondy, quite superb. Comments: highly recommended, that’s all I’ll say. Or this, it’s one of those characterful spirits that really talk to you, we’re far from Blandola. Some kind of peatless – but not smokeless - Springbank, or HP, of Clynelish. Textured, I would say. A strong contender to this month’s favourites within WF’s B-F-Y-B category.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Dailuaine 2006/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice)

Dailuaine 2006/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice) Three stars and a half
Colour: amber. Nose: caramel, fudge, butterscotch and roasted nut are back, and all is fine. Also coffee, cappuccino, chocolate, more roasted nuts, Ovaltine… We’re not too far from the official Flora & Fauna, in truth. Mouth: very nice, with both the nuts (walnut cake) and some tobacco-y, malty and coffee-ish notes. What’s good is that it’s not ‘too much’, balance has been preserved and if you ever need a very malty malt, this is a good choice. Like the sharper grassy side in the back, around rosemary and thyme. Finish: long, a tad sweeter. Shall I mention chicory again? We have a brand in France called ‘Ricoré’, totally out of fashion, but it reeks of the good old times when we were kids… Meatier and earthier aftertaste, this is a better chicken soup for sure. Comments: so unusual… One of the last tertiary malt whiskies!
SGP:451 - 84 points.

A last Dailuaine should be in ordnung… (does Dailuaine make you speak German?) Let’s make it an old one…

Dailuaine 37 yo 1980/2017 (48.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 1st fill Sauternes barrique, #41.100, ‘Curl up by the fire’, 140 bottles)

Dailuaine 37 yo 1980/2017 (48.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 1st fill Sauternes barrique, #41.100, ‘Curl up by the fire’, 140 bottles) Three stars
Colour: gold. Nose: age feels, bit it goes towards old almonds and perfumy old herbs. Almond oil, pistachios, ambergris, teak oil, Barbour grease, skin moistener, beedies… That’s what we’d call a very tertiary nose. Great nose for sure, but these kinds of aromas aren’t obligatorily good news as far as the palate’s concerned. Let us see what happens… Excuse me? The Sauternes? Not too sure… Perhaps apricot skins… Mouth: it’s an old whisky, and indeed there is a lot of mentholy oak, green tobacco, bitter almonds, eucalyptus (tons!), even myrtle, thyme, bay leaves… you see what I mean. It’s dropping across the board, in my opinion, but it’s still got a few moves left. Finish: medium, rather herbal. Some mint, strong green tea, green bananas, other green things… and almond oil. Comments: one that’s become pretty intellectual, its best days being behind it, but I know some aficionados who’ll still spend hours commenting on it. No, no names.
SGP:371 - 80 points.

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

 

May 3, 2018


Whiskyfun

More and more Highland Park

Because there’s more. There’s always more, HP having become one of those lovely staccato-y brands. There’s more small batch out (The Light, for example, we’ll have it soon too) but it’s difficult to keep up or this would become HPfun.com. They also have new regional single casks out almost every week, and indeed we’ll try one of them today (not more!) and then some indies, if you’re okay with that…

Highland Park 15 yo 2002/2018 (61%, OB, 20th Anniversary WOW Switzerland, 1st fill American sherry oak puncheon, cask #1937)

Highland Park 15 yo 2002/2018 (61%, OB, 20th Anniversary WOW Switzerland, 1st fill American sherry oak puncheon, cask #1937) Four stars and a half
1st fill American sherry oak or American oak 1st fill sherry? Sherry from America? Nit-picking again, we can’t help it… Colour: deep gold. Nose: very strong, kirschy and leafy, with some butterscotch and oak spices, fresh leather, and orange blossom honey in the background. Water’s obligatory, in my opinion. With water: and that worked. The expected heather honey’s there, spicy/sweet cakes, macadamia nut oil, a little marmalade… There are spices from the oak, as if a finishing in active oak had been done, but I’m really not sure. Mouth (neat): mouth-coating, syrupy, and yet already well balanced, with even more orange blossom honey. Liquid oriental pastries? Let’s see… With water: gets drier, which is a good thing. Spiced teas, marmalade, a touch of curry and ginger, turmeric… Finish: long, balanced, honeyed and spicy. Cinnamon coming to the front. Comments: indeed it’s not a ‘pure and natural’ one, but it was a good cask, so all is more than fine by me. Wait, 1st fill American oak sherry?
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Highland Park 21 yo 1996/2017 (47%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #12204, 283 bottles)

Highland Park 21 yo 1996/2017 (47%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #12204, 283 bottles) Five stars
Colour: straw. Nose: whiffs of rubber at first, then much more straight chalk and grass, with hints of a grassy peatiness and some rubbed orange skin. Goes a bit towards overripe tropical fruits after a few seconds, crushed bananas, ripe papayas… A tad uncertain at this point, but I guess you could call that ‘mysterious’. Suspense suspense… Mouth: I’ve often said that there could be some kind of parentage or virtual link between natural HP and Clynelish, and this is a perfect illustration. Grapefruits, chalk, mineral wax, paraffin… And it’s getting better and better, at that. Can we see the papers? Finish: rather long, rather superbly mineral, with grapefruits and bitter almonds, and more peppery chalk in the aftertaste. Comments: it took its time, but so have I. We’re even.
SGP:452 - 90 points.

Highland Park 24 yo 1992/2016 (50%, Acla Selection, hogshead, 82 bottles)

Highland Park 24 yo 1992/2016 (50%, Acla Selection, hogshead, 82 bottles) Five stars
A very small outturn indeed, so we’ll keep these notes short and sweet (don’t try to understand him – Ed.) Colour: straw. Nose: an equivalent style, with a tad more sweetness and rounded vanillaness, perhaps a little more barley and dough, but other than that, it’s just superb clean and pure HP. With water: a fruit salad mixed with crushed chalk and drops of motor oil. Mouth (neat): fantastic freshness, smokiness, grapefruits, chalk, wax, citrons… How good is that! With water: perfect. Didn’t we say we’d keep this short? Finish: not short, but rather perfect indeed. A tad more porridge-y. Comments: and it would go down extremely well. One of the top spirits in Scotland, in my preferred state: natural.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Acla da Fans also have some HP under the ‘Orkney’ moniker. I suspect there will be many more of those…

Orkney Islands 15 yo 2002/2017 (51.7%, Acla Selection, butt)

Orkney Islands 15 yo 2002/2017 (51.7%, Acla Selection, butt) Four stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: a few buttery notes this time, that may be the butt. One rubber band, then yellow flowers, white fruits, and fresh croissants. It’s different style and just between us, this could as well be Scapa this far. With water: drops of vase water, last night’s rainwater, gravel… Mouth (neat): very creamy mouth feel, bitter oranges, sunflower honey, that chalkiness, touches of peat, and our beloved grapefruits. We’re closer to HP indeed – but I’m no Scapa expert either. With water: I think this wasn’t a 1st fill butt, although we do find touches of rubber again. Not sure it needs any water. Finish: medium, a notch waxier. Orange zests and crushed chalk. Comments: all very good, although the superb 24 by Acla has clearly beaten it.
SGP:452 - 86 points.

It’s all well and good at Acla’s, isn’t it? So why leave?...

Orkney Islands 17 yo 2000/2017 (51.7%, Acla Selection, hogshead)

Orkney Islands 17 yo 2000/2017 (51.7%, Acla Selection, hogshead) Four stars and a half
A hogshead, h.u.r.r.a.y! Colour: pale gold. Nose: a wee bit of paraffin at first, even whiffs of new Pirellis, then a fattish minerality, cactus, hints of bay leaves, some porridge… It’s one of the most austere ones at this stage. With water: fish oils! Cod and others… Mouth (neat): ah very good! Bitter oranges, a little brine, a lot of wax, graphite, more cactus (or agave?)… With water: notes of damson eau-de-vie, stone fruits, walnut oil… It’s a funny one. Finish: long, very waxy. Comments: this one was fun, it plays with you.
SGP:452 - 88 points.

Another fine HP session. There will be more, naturally, at this rate...

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

 

May 2, 2018


Whiskyfun

Ledaig is on again

I won’t say a word about Tobermory’s Ledaig. It’s an insider’s whisky, you know, and few people seem to understand that it’s simply blowing many famous Islayers out of the water these days. Shh… Oh and let’s remain courteous and start this with a wee official, although, you know, those OBs…

Ledaig 1996/2015 (46.3%, OB, oloroso sherry finish)

Ledaig 1996/2015 (46.3%, OB, oloroso sherry finish) Two stars
Small batch, naturally. That’s well an owner’s term… And sadly, they felt the need to finish it… Colour: gold. Nose: mashed turnips, sour cream, ink, old fridge, feints, new leatherette, and only then a cleaner development involving some kind of pine smoke as well as old walnuts. Some mustard too, cooking Madeira… Very bizarre and bizarrely unclean. Mouth: this is rather a little better, peppery, smoky, salty… and mustardy/sulphury. Violet syrup, lavender, strawberry wine, leather, soot… Indeed, it’s all unlikely and kind of, well, what we call ‘dirty’. It’s not unlike some Longrows, after a brilliant start in the early 1970s, and then a few good ones in the mid-late 1980s, they have had their wacky period in the 1990s (sulphur anyone?) before they made their make one of the stars of the whisky world again. Okay, let’s just wait, or go to the indies… Finish: medium, leathery, oddly cigary, and sour/bitter/sweet. Comments: these bottlings are really hard to understand, from my own little POV. But criticizing is easy and art is difficult, I know.
SGP:554 - 72 points.

Ledaig 13 yo 2004/2017 (58.7%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail Dragon Series for Whisky-e Ltd, Japan, hogshead, cask #0036)

Ledaig 13 yo 2004/2017 (58.7%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail Dragon Series for Whisky-e Ltd, Japan, hogshead, cask #0036) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: crush fresh almonds, add ink, add barley water, add olive brine, add fish oil, add lemon juice, add gun oil, add asparagus water. There, you have it. With water: add green tea and add a little dill. Perhaps a teaspoonful of sour cream, which is pretty Tobermory indeed. Mouth (neat): pure lemon juice and engine oil. Some kind of oilier Caol Ila, if you will, and I’m afraid there isn’t much you can do against this. With water: please come in, herbs and green vegetables. Capers, samphires, olives, beans, chickpeas… And get all smoked! Finish: long, very ‘green’. Garden smoke (when that wasn’t forbidden yet in our civilised countries), walnut and apple peelings… Comments: it is actually a very dry and very ‘green’ one. It’s got an acridness that’s rather singular – and which I enjoy a lot. Isn’t Ledaig the most pleasantly un-commercial peater these days?
SGP:367 - 89 points.

Ledaig 2004/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice)

Ledaig 2004/2017 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice) Four stars and a half
Not all Ledaigs by G&M have been great in my opinion, the early 1990s distillates having been particularly difficult… Sour butter, anyone? Colour: white wine. Nose: we’re out of the danger zone, this is pretty clean, even if a tad porridge-y and sour. Smoked bread or something, grass juice, ink, fern, pine needles… In short, still a malt unlike any other. Mouth: reminds me of G&M’s Ardbegs, really. Sour apples, smoke, seawater, olive brine, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, dry white wine, lemon juice… In truth I think this is excellent. Finish: medium, all on riesling, lemon juice, and lapsang souchong. Not a throwaway. Comments: gone are the unlikely Ledaigs, this is excellent. And very fairly priced at that, so I’m recommending it. There.
SGP:356 - 88 points.

Ledaig 10 yo 2007/2017 (53%, Claxton’s, oloroso octave)

Ledaig 10 yo 2007/2017 (53%, Claxton’s, oloroso octave) Three stars and a half
Well, I’ve been to Jerez several times, and never spotted any sherry octave, but there, they’re tiny and I could have missed them. Now they do have a few guys named Octavio… (gee, S.!) Colour: gold. Nose: sour apples, walnuts, cigars, cedar wood, brine, pine needles, coriander. This should go well with dim-sums (Chinese dumplings). With water: Stolle, gingerbread, Läckerlis, Alsatian anis bredala... Mouth (neat): feels re-crafted, whatever that means. New oak, spicy bread, pumpernickel, gingerbread… It is a style you’d rather associate with super-young American whiskeys, in truth. With water: and holey featherless crow, this works despite a few excessive greenish/spicy oaky touches. I mean, we love cardamom, but… Finish: long, spicy. Some sauce for Chinese food, really. Comments: some kind of take, I would say. It’s fun and it ain’t half-bad!
SGP:375 - 83 points.

Ledaig 10 yo 2007/2017 (55.2%, Claxton’s, for Van Zuylen 50th Anniversary, sherry octave finish, cask # 1716VZ-700815)

Ledaig 10 yo 2007/2017 (55.2%, Claxton’s, for Van Zuylen 50th Anniversary, sherry octave finish, cask # 1716VZ-700815) Four stars and a half
Love Van Zuylen, great people, great shop, true passion. Been there around 10 years ago but I doubt anything has changed. Colour: gold. Nose: cleaner, less ‘octave-y’, more ‘Ledaig-y’, without this feeling of concentrated gingerbread. Well, there is some gingerbread, but there’ also brine, smoked tea, seashells, leather, cigars… With water: old copper coins, old samovar, cigars, dried mussels, more cigars. Mouth (neat): oh very good! Aniseed and gingerbread over lemon juice, lapsang souchong and kippers. All is well in the best of worlds. With water: my this rocks! Spicy bread, cloves big time, pastis, pine liqueur… They may pour this with Alsatian foie gras! Finish: very long, pine-y, a tad syrupy, jam-packed with spicy flavours. Salty aftertaste. Comments: there is this feeling of some whisky having been reworked, but I think it was all for the better, for once. Yes, Serge speaking.
SGP:376 - 88 points.

Ledaig 8 yo 2007/2017 (51.5%, The Whisky Mercenary for Whisky Troef)

Ledaig 8 yo 2007/2017 (51.5%, The Whisky Mercenary for Whisky Troef) Four stars and a half
Love the obsessiveness in these wee bottlings. Between Johnnie Red and this there is a whole world, and that world would be different without either edges. Let’s cherish these little club bottlings, for they reek of true passion. Excuse me? Passion in Johnnie Red? Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s an oily Ledaig, it’s got paraffin, it’s got cod oil, it’s got ink, it’s got almond milk, it’s got lamp oil… With water: a beach at low tide. And at sunset. Mouth (neat): an Ardbeg beater! Oily, fat young peat, brine, tapenade, olive oil, Maryland crab cake… With water: quaffing smoked lemon juice blended with brine and tar. Finish: extremely long, very tarry and smoky. Comments: without these wee bottlings, whisky’s dead. Or just another commodity, like tinned chickpeas, Nutella, or Coca-Cola.
SGP:367 - 89 points.

Ledaig 20 yo 1997/2018 (52.8%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, Single Cask)

Ledaig 20 yo 1997/2018 (52.8%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, Single Cask) Five stars
Cadenhead’s? That name rings a bell… Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s the word ‘purity’ that springs to my mind just now, but it’s followed with wackier monikers, such as ‘new plastic pouch’, ‘new Renault’, or ‘Marks & Spencer’s mashed potatoes’. Some curious rum aromas too. With water: new tweed, oysters, newspaper of the day, moss. Mouth (neat): oh sweet Vishnu, this is good. It’s another Ardbeggian Ledaig, with everything tarry that would be needed. Including your old uncle’s pipes. With water: yep. A bottle to buy. It’s raw stuff but it’s a good conversationalist. Finish: long, very tarry and smoky. Comments: it’s actually full of flaws, and first of all, it’s very ill-mannered, but we ought to love these anti-Macallans, oughtn’t we? A great wee bottle that one should keep for later (like, for the year 2040).
SGP:378 - 90 points.

Oh by the way, that man at Cadenhead’s, whom I just hate (largely because I’d have loved to do his job, had I been 30 years younger), named Mark W., wrote something pretty smart on Thee Zinternet the other day. They call that a ‘blog’. WM Cadenhead's new blog, actually, you'll easily find it. I would recommend you read it if you haven’t already done so, unless there’s a lost episode of Inspektor Derrick on TV just now.

Good, this has lasted far too long, but we were talking about the 1970s just a few minutes ago, weren’t we… So, as this session’s signature, let us have…

Ledaig (Tobermory) 23 yo 1972/1996 (53.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Ledaig (Tobermory) 23 yo 1972/1996 (53.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Five stars
Vorsicht, these early Ledaigs are legendary, so you may expect a little maltoporn now… And by the way, some of them have been labelled as ‘Tobermory’ in the past, so careful if you’re just expecting liquid muesli… Colour: gold. Nose: ah. Smoked marzipan, Cuban cigars, pollen, thuja wood, olive oil, figs… Still the best ones, truly. I don’t think they ever managed to replicate those 1972/1973 Ledaigs… Provided they ever tried to do so. With water: shoe polish! Love shoe polish in my whisky… Mouth (neat): sweet Vishnu! Luminous whisky, resinous, fruity (mangos and green pears), with notes of propolis, grapefruits, coriander, Thai basil, almond paste, lemongrass, salted lemon juice, even mezcal, pinesap, cannabis resin… With water: there, it does the peacock’s tale (although just like all Ledaigs, it wouldn’t take too much water or it would get kind of stale). Fantastic dry lemony unfolding (with just a drop of water). Finish: long, incredibly austere and straight, as if it would tell you ‘don’t play with me, I am the boss’. Green apple juice, smoked cider… Comments: incredibly fresh, you would believe this was distilled just yesterday. I had a sister cask at WF 92 (at 51.3%) but I had tried that one in 2006. That’s quite a long time ago, but sine as stubborn as a mule...
SGP:366 - 92 points.

Shouldn’t we call this ‘a proper tasting session’? Peace! And let’s say this again, the indies remain the true guardians of the distilleries’ styles, the owners being too busy with toying with rejuvenated oak, cheap wine, and tasteless flavourings. Folks, wake up, you’re killing your distilleries on the long run!

(Merci Emmanuel!)

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

 

May 1, 2018


Whiskyfun

Ardbeg because we should

On Labour Day! Now May 1st has particular significance to the French... Well, apparently, some distinguished friends (and dedicated Ardbeggistos) were shocked by the slightly moderate score I gave, not to the Grooves, rather to the Ar9 yesterday. Mind you, theses days, some excellent folks do take 84 points as they used to take 64 points just fifteen years ago. In my book, 84 is a good score! Anyway, it’s not that I’d like to amend anything – which I never do anyway – but perhaps could we do some kind of short follow-up session, now that the brand new Ar10 is out.  A way of trying to try to bury the hatchet, but will this work?... And first, as usual, a sparring partner…

Ardbeg 12 yo 2005/2018 (51.9%, North Star Spirits, refill bourbon hogshead, 332 bottles)

Ardbeg 12 yo 2005/2018 (51.9%, North Star Spirits, refill bourbon hogshead, 332 bottles) Four stars and a half
2005? This is clearly new regime Ardbeg, so this should be interesting. We’ve already tried these vintages but those were always bottled as ‘Kildalton’, or any other fancy name, never as Ardbeg if I remember well… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a working kiln, peat smoke, burning oak, dried kelp, a touch of tarmac but less than in earlier decades vintages, new bicycle inner tube (as long as some bicycles still have inner tubes), perhaps a wee touch of phosphorus, bone-dry artisan cider… With water: wash, damp textile, sourdough, baker’s yeast and leaven… The cask’s been pretty lazy, and that has been a blessing. Mouth (neat): more extreme than I would have thought. Could you smoke a blend of grapefruit juice and ultra-ristretto coffee? It is extremely dry and bitter, and I really enjoy this. Noilly-Prat, Fernet-Branca, cold-distilled manzanilla (should anyone be crazy enough to do that)… With water: should you add enough water down to approx 15% vol., you would get manzanilla. Mustard, smoke, salt, seawater. Finish: very long, extremely sooty and ashy. Remember you just had the ashtray? Comments: extreme and good. So extremely good, but please do not try to pour this to total beginners.
SGP:268 - 89 points.

Ar10 2001/2018 (52.4%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon barrels)

Ar10 2001/2018 (52.4%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon barrels) Five stars
Picture's a mockup.
Ah, some good bourbon barrels, no clashes of the titans to be expected here, I suppose! Colour: gold. Nose: a really rather extraordinary combination of soft natural vanilla (ground pods) with the most beautifully zesty lemony/herbal/coastal peat. There are even drops of mezcal and Jamaican rum dancing around your olfactory bulb (what?) together with iodine and tiny ‘acidic’ herbs, lemongrass, oyster flowers, some kind of oriental camphory embrocations… Wow, really, wow! With water: there, tarmac, tyres, fisherman’s ropes, charcoal… Mouth (neat): punches you a bit right between your ears at first, with an admirable grittiness just like when you forgot to peel all of the skin off your grapefruit, and gets then rather luminously citrusy, salty, and of course ashy. Bigly ashy. With water: same-ish, which doesn’t mean that it does not benefit from reduction. Finish: very long, you just had the other ashtray, plus a whole glass of concentrated limejuice. Comments: they have not used very active vanilla-forward barrels, which is just great. Fantastic, almost explosive Ardbeg and, in a way, the exact opposite of Ar9. Remember when we were calling these ‘peat bombs’?
SGP:458 - 92 points.

Phew… And there will be more Ardbeg very soon.

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

 

Whiskyfun fav of the month

April 2018

Favourite recent bottling:
Caol Ila 35 yo 1982/2017 (58.4%, Cadenhead’s Small Batch for The Auld Alliance Singapore)- WF 93

Favourite older bottling:
Very Old Fitzgerald 8 yo 1958/1966 (43%, OB, for Germany, Kentucky Straight Bourbon) - WF 94

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
None

Favourite malternative:
South Pacific 15 yo 2001/2016 (58%, Cave Guildive, Fiji, bourbon) - WF 91

April 2018 - part 2 <--- May 2018 - part 1 ---> May 2018 - part 2


 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ar10 2001/2018 (52.4%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon barrels)

Ardbeg 1975/1999 (45.2%, OB, hand bottled at the distillery, sherry, cask #4702, 261 bottles)

Highland Park 21 yo 1996/2017 (47%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #12204, 283 bottles)

Highland Park 24 yo 1992/2016 (50%, Acla Selection, hogshead, 82 bottles)

Ledaig 20 yo 1997/2018 (52.8%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, Single Cask)

Ledaig (Tobermory) 23 yo 1972/1996 (53.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Johnnie Walker 'Black Label' (43%, OB, blend, +/-1965)

Royal Glendee ‘100°proof’ (+/-57%, OB, blend, +/-1960)

White Horse (70°proof, OB, blend, +/-1961)

Hampden 17 yo 2000/2018 (55.4, Berry Bros & Rudd for The Whisky Barrel, Jamaica, barrel #31, 220 bottles)

Vallein Tercinier 27 yo ‘Lot 90’ (49.7%, Maltbarn, Grande Champagne, 2018)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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