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Hi, you're in the Archives, October 2020 - Part 2

       

October 2020 - part 1 <--- October 2020 - part 2 ---> Current entries

 

 

October 31, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
A few Americans
A wee clutch of American whiskeys today. I remain a big fan of America and its many great people, which makes watching its current turmoil from afar pretty distressing. Courage and solidarity to all our friends over there.

 

James E Pepper 3 yo Rye Whiskey ‘Batch 2’ (50%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, PX sherry finish, 1077 bottles)

James E Pepper 3 yo Rye Whiskey ‘Batch 2’ (50%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, PX sherry finish, 1077 bottles)
PX and Rye? I feel suddenly out of my depth… Colour: orange / amber. Nose: but what? This is rather lovely, a big mix of sticky dark fruits, jams and indeed, spicy rye / pumpernickel breads. Liquorice, aniseed, marmalade and even a little blood orange and some bitter herbs. Pretty good so far… With water: brown bread with treacle, caramelising brown sugars, toffee apple and some very gentle wood spices. Mouth: feels a little bit flatter in the mouth. Those nice stick fruit jam aspects have become a bit more like orange squash and various cheaper fruit liqueurs. Some mint tea, rose jelly and a little camphor note. But globally it’s very sweet. With water: again this caramelised sugar profile, and even some very sweet balsamic onion vibes which I find quite funny. Strawberry Haribo sweets and a little chocolate sauce. Finish: a bit short, brown breads, sweet fruit cordials and jams and some whispers of spice. Comments: the nose is very fine, but globally I found it a bit too confected and sugary for my tastes.
SGP: 751 - 76 points.

 

 

Balcones 3 yo Texas Single Malt ‘Batch 2’ (51.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, ex-Tequila cask, 212 bottles)

Balcones 3 yo Texas Single Malt ‘Batch 2’ (51.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, ex-Tequila cask, 212 bottles)
I’m really in uncharted waters here, you’ll probably have to take my notes and score with a fistful of salt. Colour: polished rosewood. Nose: I don’t detect much in the way of Tequila, rather this is deeply concentrated, spicy and full of things like wood bark, sarsaparilla, birch beer, cloves and liquorice. Quite something! With water: spiced plums, tobacco, cola syrup, root beer, herbal toothpaste - indeed, it tends to veer more towards medicines and sweet fruits now. Mouth: you get the immediate impression that the heat has done a lot of the relationship management work between wood and distillate here. Everything feels sticky, dense, spicy and pretty well fused. There’s this jammy, wood spice ridden sweetness but it’s not totally over the top. Cola syrup, BBQ sauce, roast game meats, herbal bitters and natural tar. Pretty sure you could baste brisket and racks of ribs with this stuff. With water: sweeter, more syrupy in texture and with more obvious fruit notes of orange marmalade, plum jam, strawberry cordial and some figs. In time the spices come back, but remain warming and there’s a few breads, aniseed and natural tar. Finish: medium, getting more towards breads, toasted seeds, spices and aniseed. Comments: I had thought this would just be totally mental whisky for Chainsaw enthusiasts. However, it’s actually surprisingly complex and not without its subtleties. Having said that, I really wouldn’t read much into my score. I’m no expert in these styles.
SGP: 672 - 82 (pretty meaningless) points.

 

 

Heaven Hill 9 yo ‘Batch 1’ (48.4%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 1177 bottles)

Heaven Hill 9 yo ‘Batch 1’ (48.4%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 1177 bottles)
This one was matured in second fill casks, hence why it isn’t technically a Bourbon. Colour: gold. Nose: a different style altogether, sweet pears glazed in honey, fresh cereals, pastries, breakfast cereals dusted with icing sugar, boiled lemon sweets and wee touches of camphor and putty. A very attractive nose that’s firmly on the lighter side of things. Mouth: here you feel the mix of different cereals in the mashbill. That lighter touch that corn brings with a thinner texture and notes of runny honey, toasted cereals, more icing sugar, sweet tea and crystallised orange peel. Finish: a bit on the short side. Lemon sherbet, Cointreau, more boiled sweets, corn syrup and more of these sugary tea vibes. Comments: All very fine, but it’s a tad light and thin at points. It’s a very instructive insight into the kick of adrenaline that virgin oak in hot climate ageing brings to these styles of distillate.
SGP: 741 - 78 points.

 

 

Heaven Hill 11 yo 2009/2020 (67.5%, C Dully Selection, cask #3440929, new oak barrel, 246 bottles)

Heaven Hill 11 yo 2009/2020 (67.5%, C Dully Selection, cask #3440929, new oak barrel, 246 bottles)
You have to be careful with this kind of bottling, you spend so long reading the cask number you miss the ABV and are dead before you know it… this one was ‘early landed’ in the UK after an initial few years in Kentucky. Colour: bright gold. Nose: hot varnish at first nosing, a mighty wall of ethanol. Although, you do get that impression of tinned corn syrup and icing sugar sitting just behind it. But really, I think we require water…With water: cornflour, soda bread, starched linens, rice cakes and hot Bakelite. Probably about as pure and ‘distillate driven’ as this type of whiskey can be. Continues to evolve with many notes of rubbed lemon peel, citrons and lime curds. This high citrus note combined with sweetness is very attractive I have to say. Mouth: there’s a syrupy sweetness that masks the alcohol extremely impressively. There’s this impression of sweetened rapeseed oil, metal polish and even hints of rice pudding. Some herbal touches, light medical notes and more cereal-derived sweetness. I still think water is essential though… With water: much better! A clear evolution of texture as it becomes thicker, oilier on the palate and there are many more bitter citrus fruits and piths, spicy cereals, breads, cooking oils, camphor, putty and various spiced teas. Finish: medium and with this rather brittle spiciness, bitter orange peel, herbal teas, canvass and green pepper. Comments: Quite a fascinating variation on a style, and once again hot climate ageing’s characteristics speak volumes by their relative diminishment here. This one is a lot of fun provided you have time, patience and a pipette to hand, there’s probably about five different drams in here. Although, I wouldn’t say it was particularly ‘easy’.
SGP: 752 - 84 points.

 

 

Bourbon Whiskey 24 yo ‘Batch 1’ (48%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 8376 bottles)

Bourbon Whiskey 24 yo ‘Batch 1’ (48%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 8376 bottles)
Not sure what the maturation profile has been for this one, but a little bird has informed me it is likely a ‘half and half’ USA / UK mix. Colour: coppery amber. Nose: tinned peaches, spices oranges, graphite oil, cloves, putty, liquorice, sticky figs in syrup, damp tobacco leaf and coke floats with vanilla ice cream. Sweet, deep, easy and pretty brilliant. The kind of nose that shouts ‘America!’. Mouth: richly bready, spicy and with an even balance of sweetness. Lots of rye bread spices, warm toasted oakiness, creamy, syrupy sweetness and the usual things like cloves, liquorice and natural tarry and herbal bitter qualities. Mulling spices and orange peel come to the fore after a while. Finish: good length, again with these brown bread, toasted seeds and some more chunk dark fruits. Bitter marmalade, dried herbs and some crispy pancetta. Comments: balance is the key here. Richly spicy with a nicely variable sweetness that fades in and out without ever drifting into cloying.
SGP: 662 - 87 points.

 

 

 

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

 

October 30, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
(The Sequel)

Salvaged Glenallachie

Indeed, we're in lockdown again since this morning. You'll see, this is another session that started on the wrong foot and almost ended on a firework...

Glenallachie 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2019)

Glenallachie 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
No silly finishes in sight, unless I’m mistaken, so we should be fine. Now they’re mentioning ‘Oloroso & PX Sherry Hogsheads & Puncheons’, I just hope that’s not just flash-flavouring. Colour: dark amber. Nose: nuts, plastics, sour fruits and vegetables, plaster, concrete, grapes, soap. In old-blogger-language, we’d call this ‘intriguing’. Mouth: better, if a little ‘forced’. You feel the finishing, the roasted nuts, the gingery and leafy flavours, all the leather, all the spices, and the nasty PX. Chestnuts, burnt raisins. Finish: long, a little burnt and sour. Comments: interesting but pretty difficult whisky made and promoted by very lovely people, at the top of their game. In other words, any pro, pro-am or am writer’s very, very, and I mean very worst nightmare. But stay tuned...
SGP:461 - 79 points.

Glenallachie 13 yo 2005/2019 (65.1%, Lady of the Glen, Marsala finish)

Glenallachie 13 yo 2005/2019 (65.1%, Lady of the Glen, Marsala finish) Two stars
Marsala finish? Alright then. Colour: straw. Nose: excuse me? Barley and paraffin. Quick… With water: oh no. Harsh, wood alcohol, apple distillate… Mouth (neat): no thanks, excuse me but I had forgotten that I have swim practice. With water: better, but that’s a little late. Kirsch and plum spirit, raw eau-de-vie, distilled wine. Finish: long, burnt and rubbery. Sour ale in the aftertaste. Comments: good, that’s done. I’ve got quite a few other whiskies by Lady of the Glen in the sample boxes, all being, like two hundred times better than this poor little excuse of a juice, while I’m a truffle kind of guy. I mean, when I’m having truffled purée, I’m always having the purée first, and only then the truffles. Same with lobster and rice, foie gras and noodles, or langoustines and polenta. What I mean is that the next Lady of the Glen whisky will probably be pretty amazing. Watch these pages and, for example, their latest Caperdonich that we have already tried the other day.
SGP:551 - 72 points.

Sure this isn’t our best session ever so far, but after all, it isn’t as bad as De Niro in a Kia commercial, is it. And we’re not finished at all…

Glenallachie 12 yo ‘Chinquapin Oak Finish’ (48%, OB, Virgin Oak Series, 6600 bottles, 2020)

Glenallachie 12 yo ‘Chinquapin Oak Finish’ (48%, OB, Virgin Oak Series, 6600 bottles, 2020) Four stars
I remember masters of wood Glenmorangie had already used Chinquapin, which is a subspecies of American white oak aka Quercus Alba. I had tried that one back in 2007 and liked it rather a lot (WF 87). Maybe Buffalo Trace might have done it as well. Let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: I have the impression that it wasn’t heavily charred, as I’m rather finding green spicy notes at first, with some ginger, but it would take off with whiffs of honeycomb, maple syrup or even what they call maple butter over there in Quebec, also some gingerbread (and Stolle), fresh croissants, touches of fern, roots (or parsnips), then some fresh barley, a little grist… It would just never stop improving, getting bready in a lovely manner. Mouth: a little white pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg right in the arrival, then a lovely honeyed and floral development, with some madeleines, panettone, orange blossom honey, some figs and just some butterscotch. Cocoa. Finish: medium, with half-honeyed, half-spicy flavours. Comments: American oak with added spices, this time it’s really up my alley. I’m so glad I like this one! (?!)
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Glenallachie 12 yo ‘French Oak Finish’ (48%, OB, Virgin Oak Series, 6600 bottles, 2020)

Glenallachie 12 yo ‘French Oak Finish’ (48%, OB, Virgin Oak Series, 6600 bottles, 2020) Four stars
They’ve been using oak from the southwest of France this time. Not too far from where they make Armagnac (very roughly). Curious about the accent here… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s utterly fascinating to compare these two babies, as I suppose the base malt was the same fine but slightly ‘neutral’ juice. Long story short, where you were having shortbread, maple syrup, croissants and butterscotch, you would rather find old cellar, bits of metal, earth and chalk, coffee dregs, mead, chestnut honey, butter cream, and sweet white wine, Sauternes-style. I find it a little more complex, less polished and less polite. Mouth: definitely earthy and pretty gingery, with a much bigger rooty side, more nutmeg and coriander (seeds), acidic coffee, touches of chilli, quite a lot of cocoa powder, and tiny bits of bitter oranges. Finish: rather long, spicy and earthy, a little sour in a good way, with a little fig jam and chestnut honey keeping it civilised. Comments: if the original whisky was the same indeed, the differences here are striking. I find this one rather more rustic, but also more complex. So I like it (even) a little better.
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Glenallachie 12 yo ‘Spanish Oak Finish’ (48%, OB, Virgin Oak Series, 6600 bottles, 2020)

Glenallachie 12 yo ‘Spanish Oak Finish’ (48%, OB, Virgin Oak Series, 6600 bottles, 2020) Four stars
I believe French and Spanish oaks are the same, they just stem from different locations, am I not right? So Quercus Robur aka pedunculate oak. Please note that some corners of the industry sometimes keep calling sherry casks ‘Spanish oak’ if not ‘European oak’, incorrectly. Not the same idea here. Colour: full gold. Nose: we are, indeed, much closer to the French than to the American. Same earthy spices, faint mustiness, honey and chestnut honeys, then black nougat (should we say turon?) and wee hints of Spanish-style a.k.a. Latino rum. My mind playing tricks on me yet again, probably. A little more ‘caramelised’ than the Frenchy. Mouth: we’re even closer, while the whole remains a little more ‘roasted’ and indeed caramelised. More turon, dark honeys, speculoos, cappuccino, with more straight spices after twenty seconds, around cinnamon, clove and a little clove. Always quite some ginger from the fresh oak, but no straight leather. Finish: rather long, perhaps even more rustic in a good way. Spicier and leafier aftertaste, earth and pepper, nutmeg... Comments: I like it the same. I’m an European anyway.
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Awesome compositions! I believe they should all give PX a rest. OH and we have this one too…

Glenallachie 10 yo ‘Cask Strength Batch 4’ (56.1%, OB, 2020)

Glenallachie 10 yo ‘Cask Strength Batch 4’ (56.1%, OB, 2020) Four stars and a half
I haven’t tried batch 3 but batch 2 was rather to my liking even if some PX had been involved (WF 83). A matter of proportion, I suppose. This time we’re seeing this baby’s been in contact with PX and oloroso sherry puncheons as well as virgin oak (but American, French or Spanish? Joking). Quite some marquetry anyway. Colour: amber. Nose: no excessive leafiness, that’s sorted. Rather butterscotch, Mars bar, millionaire shortbread, some earth, chocolate, café latte, dried figs, a touch of menthol, a drop of Armagnac. We’re perfectly fine this far. With water: rather more of all that. I suppose no one will ever file a complaint. Mouth (neat): this feeling of liquefied Mars bar and black tea, raisins and prunes, Christmas cake (are we allowed to mention Christmas cake in October?) and really a lot of bitter chocolate, with around 90% cocoa. Always loved that in my oloroso-y whiskies. With water: touches of ham, tabasco, and more coffee and chocolate. Caraway. Finish: long, a little spicier. Pepper, ginger, caraway, cloves. Comments: I believe this newer batch kind of joins that rather legendary category that gathers Genfarclas 105, A’bunadh, Macallan 10 CS, and several others. Some kind of compulsory exercise at any Speyside distillery; there is little doubt that this batch is a success.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Perhaps a wee IB before we call this a (miracle) session?

Glenallachie 5 yo 2014/2020 (52.3%, Les Grands Alambics, Birds series, sherry hogshead)

Glenallachie 5 yo 2014/2020 (52.3%, Les Grands Alambics, Birds series, sherry hogshead) Four stars
Another intriguing bottle by these passionate new French bottlers. At this young age, I suppose the hogshead had been particularly well treated. Colour: gold. Nose: reeks of strawberry jam and butterscotch at first, which is a little unusual but really lovely, some black cherry jam too, then just anything one would find at Starbucks’, only much better. Caramel Macchiato, Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino, Almondmilk Honey Flat White, Chai Latte, Chocolat Viennois Signature, and naturally, their Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Drink. But as I said, this Glenallachie’s nicer yet. With water: a little more on earth and barley and beer. All that as a ‘trenta’. Mouth (neat): I shan’t mention Starbucks again, but I’m sure you get the drift. Coffee liqueur, cappuccino, hazelnut cream, macaroons, oriental pastry, angel hair… With water: very good. Last time I was at Starbucks, that was in San Francisco quite a few years back and instead of my name they wrote ‘Williamson’ on my cup. A sign, that was a sign! Finish: long, very cake-y, fudge-y, caramelised, coffee-ish, and excellent. Touches of chestnut purée and marmalade. Comments: Starbucks malt whisky indeed. As I sometimes say, I hate it that I like it so much – I tell you, these modern young juices are not too good for your mental health.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

That’s enough.

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

 

October 29, 2020


Whiskyfun

Flash session, two Mannochmore

Two young ones.

Mannochmore 12 yo 2008/2020 (54.8%, Watt Whisky)

Mannochmore 12 yo 2008/2020 (54.8%, Watt Whisky) Four stars
This new baby by the very engaging Mrs and Mr Watt (the John Steed and Emma Peel of Scotch whisky). These are two hogsheads ‘rested’ (to which extend that word can be translated into ‘married’ remains to be asked to the aforementioned good people) in cognac wood. Remember cognac houses recycle their woods quite a lot of times so I suppose the cask was pretty well-mannered. Colour: light gold. Nose: barley syrup, touches of mocha and cappuccino, black nougat, panettone dough, and a wee feeling or roasted caramelised duck, Thai-style (excuse me?) Warm kougelhopf. With water: more fresh panettone, as well as roasted almonds and caramelised peanuts.. Mouth (neat): rather dry at first and with quite a lot of spicy European oak, going towards ginger and even leather. Tends to become a little fruitier but it screams for water. With water: water works very well, eliminates the leather and any excessive ginger, and enhances the fruitiness and the fudge-y side. Finish: rather long, rather on puréed apples with cinnamon and caramel. Some ginger and green pepper remaining in the aftertaste. Comments: real fine, not too sure about the cognac or the French oak’s influences. Are they really there?
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Mannochmore 12 yo 2008/2020 (53.6%, James Eadie, first fill oloroso hogshead finish, 307 bottles)

Mannochmore 12 yo 2008/2020 (53.6%, James Eadie, first fill oloroso hogshead finish, 307 bottles) Four stars
I suppose all these Mannochmores were in need of finishings. They wouldn’t in the old days, but remember today’s drinkers were raised at McDonald’s (what???) Colour: mahogany. Nose: starts a little varnishy perhaps, gets then very much all on prunes and walnuts, you’d almost believe this is artisanal armagnac made by musketeers, blended with espresso coffee liqueur made by… Italians ;-). Balsamico, Corinth raisins. With water: a little earth. Mouth (neat): very rich, thick, a tad spicy and bitter right from the start (green walnut liqueur, nocino), but this thick coating made out of raisins and coffee liqueur keeps it smooooth. With water: sweeter, with a little chocolate and more raisins. Definitely ‘Italian’, with notes of sweet Marsala. Perhaps.  Finish: long, with greener elements, more walnut liqueur… Comments: I find it pretty sweet given that it’s ex-oloroso wood. Very different, but in the same ballpark as the Watt as far as quality’s concerned – in my personal book.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Indeed you can make excellent whiskies out of those young malts from ‘secondary’ distilleries when finishing them in top wood, but it’s probably very hard to go much higher than 85 in my book. So, very good Mannochmores from the Scottish kitchens.

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

 

October 28, 2020


Whiskyfun

Aultmore, a wee bag of them

We could have a few Aultmores, don’t you think? The old OB from the 1970s still bears my favourite whisky label ever, with a Givenchy/Rabanne/Cardin feel that I’m finding just irresistible. But no friends ever understood me on that, so I suppose it’s all very personal. On to the whiskies, starting with a recent young official…

Aultmore 12 yo ‘Foggie Moss’ (46%, OB, refill hogsheads, +/-2019)

Aultmore 12 yo ‘Foggie Moss’ (46%, OB, refill hogsheads, +/-2019) Three stars and a half
Where’s the old Paco-Rabanne label? I have to say I rather liked this ‘new’ 12 when it first came out around 2015 (WF 83). Colour: white wine. Nose: more oak spices than the colour suggested, but it’s very bready overall, which I always just love. Notes of stout, pumpernickel, then lighter aromas, ale, wholegrain bread, malt, cider, some flints, chalky white wine, baker’s yeast… Feels nicer than 83, but maybe the palate?... Mouth: perhaps a tad more ‘mundane’ indeed, this could be many Speysiders, on the other hand it’s all very well made, without any unnecessary make-up and a perfect malty and bready profile. Cakes, breads, beers, touch of orange liqueur. Finish: long and very malty. Spicier and oakier aftertaste (pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, perhaps saffron). Comments: the finish is a little too oaky, but we’re splitting hairs. An extremely fine dram, refreshingly untampered with. Never forget Aultmore!
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Aultmore 23 yo 1997/2020 (49.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 142 bottles)

Aultmore 23 yo 1997/2020 (49.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 142 bottles) Four stars and a half
According to the label, this should be pretty solar. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a lot of fun to have this older one after the OB, as you’d find some similar bready/malty notes at first, while how it unfolds after a few seconds would be rather intriguing, rather on vegetables and roots. That’s fun. Asparagus, beets, carrots, salsify… Enough to make a great vegetable soup – which will cure just any diseases, as we all know. Pumpkin purée, mashed sweet potatoes… Also a few floral tones, perhaps around lilies. Fresh croissants as well. It’s all pretty subtle, very delicate. I’m rather fond. Mouth: hey-hey, it's talking! Aniseed and fresh branches, liquorice wood, more carrots, more sweet potatoes, perhaps even manioc, bamboo shoots, sweeter roots… It’s absolutely great that we would delve into these kinds of flavours with this little Aultmore, that’s typically what we’re expecting from malt whisky: diversity. When they’ll all taste the same because they all use the same heavy wood treatments, it’ll be dead. Nearly. Finish: medium, with a little more sweet oak influence. Coconut balls, custard and ‘stuff’. Comments: a very good dram, subtle and different, it’s just that it needs your attention. I for one like it a lot.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Aultmore-Glenlivet 13 yo 2006/2020 (56.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 336 bottles)

Aultmore-Glenlivet 13 yo 2006/2020 (56.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 336 bottles) Four stars
This is the Spring collection finally reaching our shores, hurray! Glad that COVID doesn’t mean Cadenhead On VIDeo. Colour: white wine. Nose: very Cadenhead, meaning raw, neat, un-fiddled-with, close to the barley, and a little rustic. Love these notes of pils beer, grist, liquorice wood and cut grass. In catholic countries we would call that ‘priest’s garden’. With water: café latte, as often, sweet beers, praline, butter cream, nougat… This one swims extremely well. Mouth (neat): excellent, tense, raw, malty, with some muscovado sugar and many sweet roots, as in the Maltbarn. Carrots and such. With water: perfect, carrots, aniseed, dill, fennel, root beer… Finish: rather long, earthy and rooty, with notes of raw beet sugar and sweet liquorice. And turnips, perhaps? Comments: a malt whisky that’s close to nature. As I sometimes say, one for the golden hipflask (no you never said that before, S.)
SGP:551 - 86 points.

 

 

 

Aultmore 9 yo (48%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Réserve Cask Parcel No.4, 2020)

Aultmore 9 yo (48%, The Single Malts of Scotland, Réserve Cask Parcel No.4, 2020)
A brand new one, I haven’t got any picture yet I’m afraid. I could put a picture of Kamala Harris instead, you’re right… Whoops no wait, just got one from La Maison (that was all so unnecessary, S.) Colour: white wine. Nose: zing! Roots, branches, grasses and white asparagus. A touch of tinned salsify, fern, fennel and sorrel, then white chocolate and coconut water; that’s the oak speaking out. Mouth: oh good, barley, roots, aniseed, citrons. It’s not a complicated malt at all, but everything’s clean and tidy, with good definition and freshness. So a little eau-de-vie-ish if you will, in the better sense. Finish: perhaps a little too much coconut from some freshish oak that would have been involved, but I’m also finding a little absinth. Which is fun. Comments: for your silver hipflask. I mean, solid silver.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

 

 

 

Aultmore 8 yo (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, 2018)

Aultmore 8 yo (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, 2018) Three stars and a half
The new James-Eadie battalion arrived but we still had this baby in the boxes, so older things first… Colour: white wine. Nose: plain chalky and earthy barley-y arrival, then brioche and croissant, both very fresh. This doughy style just works. Then pear juice and barley water. Pure barley. Do you need any more literature? Mouth: indeed just plain barley eau-de-vie with a little vanilla, custard, cappuccino, and indeed croissants. Some earthy and rooty background, like in the other Aultmores. They could pour this at Starbuck’s but that would be giving them too much credit. Finish: rather long. Hops, cakes, liquorice wood. Comments: very good too, just a little simpler I would say. Oh and I’ve had a wee sip of James Eadie’s three new young Caol Ilas and… that’s all I’m saying. You could torture me with a Donald-Trump speech, I’ll remain as quiet as a church mouse.
SGP:451 - 83 points.

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

 

October 27, 2020


Whiskyfun

Bruichladdich on the tasting table

Let’s try Bruichladdich’s new Black Art, and then a few more until we may call this a session.

 

 

 

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1994/2020 ‘Black Art 8.1’ (45.1%, OB, 12000 bottles)

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1994/2020 ‘Black Art 8.1’ (45.1%, OB, 12000 bottles)
It seems that they have kept the ‘cask bill’ secret this year, but I suppose some wine was involved this time again. 1994 was Bruichladdich’s last vintage before it got mothballed… until 2001. It’s to be noted that vintages vary upon the websites/retailers, as some say 1996. Ha, zee Internet. Colour: gold. Nose: it does start rather leafier than usual, ‘blacker’ for sure even if the colour isn’t really dark, and pretty much on stems, chalk, bitter cherries, bitter almonds and green walnuts. A profile that may suggest French or European oak, at least partially. Some peonies and ginger too. Mouth: don’t I find something reminiscent of musty old wine cellars? Blood oranges too, more walnuts, bitters, dry sherry, stems and leaves, Seville oranges, curry and coriander seeds… The same feeling of European oak spices as on the nose. Finish: rather long with a little more fudge, but always some leafy spices, bitter oranges… Comments: I’ve always liked the ‘purer’ Bruichladdichs better than these – some have become extraordinary – but I have to say this new batch was surely well composed.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

 

 

 

Bruichladdich 14 yo 2006/2020 (54.3%, Maltbarn, for Whisky & Words, sherry cask, 152 bottles)

Bruichladdich 14 yo 2006/2020 (54.3%, Maltbarn, for Whisky & Words, sherry cask, 152 bottles) Five stars
Whisky and words, but that describes us! Well I would have said whisky and banter instead, but there…  Colour: gold. Nose: oh, a fino-y character over a fresh and tight Laddie, that cannot not work. Mustard, green walnuts, sea breeze, tobacco, green melons, a touch of muesli… Everything is well in place, I enjoy this rather a lot. With water: clean mud, bitter almonds, metal polish (bike exhaust), raw wool, and, hey, a tiny web dog. We’re sorry, chihuahuas! Mouth (neat): totally fino-y, Tradicion or Equipo-style. Salty mustard, fresh walnuts, touch of turmeric, one olive… With water: oh good, green tea with roasted pumpkin seeds and pine nuts, bitter oranges, a touch of leather, tobacco, fino… Finish: long love. Oh well… Comments: I say fino but this could well have been another kind of bone-dry sherry. Perfect match this time – you could use it as seasoning too.
SGP:362 - 90 points.

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1992/2019 (54.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #2864, 222 bottles)

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1992/2019 (54.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #2864, 222 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: totally ‘old’ Bruichladdich au naturel, rather on mown lawn, asparagus, hay, fresh almonds, then a little chalk. Some pretty shy malt, as expected, but on the other hand you cannot make them any purer, I would say. With water: touches of aspirin, hand cream, plasticine… We’re almost in a pharmacy. Mouth (neat): pure chalky, slightly paraffiny, and lightly lemony arrival, getting herbal, a bit narrow perhaps, simple, pleasant… Nots of gin fizz, not the first time I’m finding this in these indie batches. Lemon cordial. With water: gets a tad earthier and rootier. Celeriac, liquorice wood… Finish: medium, more on fruit skins. Bruichladdich’s usual melons, perhaps. Comments: a grassy one, rather between both worlds. It’s pure and very good, but I think they improved the distillate after the takeover. Well, I’m sure they did.
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Let’s check that…

Bruichladdich 9 yo 2010/2019 (54%, Liquid Treasures, for 10 years eSpirits, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles)

Bruichladdich 9 yo 2010/2019 (54%, Liquid Treasures, for 10 years eSpirits, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles) Four stars
Great label, looks like the poster for a mid-1970s Italian Z-movie. I know, objectification of W, that’s not too good, but hey, this was last year. Colour: white wine. Nose: what you immediately feel is that this would be fatter, oilier and waxier, and fruitier to boot. Many citrus liqueurs, beeswax, vanilla, limoncello indeed, then peppermint and chlorophyl, pretty fresh. With water: chalkier, we’re in Sancerre now. No lockdown in a tasting glass! Mouth (neat): super good. Fresh lemon and citron liqueur, a little chalk, clay, wax and sourdough. More than enough to make this a lovely, tight dram. With water: just impeccable. Chalky lemons and citrons, with a droplet of mint oil. Finish: same, with good length. Comments: as good as it gets at 9. You could even quaff this while watching a presidential debate.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Lochindaal 10 yo (63.2%, Dramfool, first fill bourbon barrel, 211 bottles, +/-2020)

Lochindaal 10 yo (63.2%, Dramfool, first fill bourbon barrel, 211 bottles, +/-2020) Four stars and a half
Those fine people at Dramfool are still getting away with murder with these strengths… Don’t they actually ADD ethanol? Seriously, Bruichladdich fill at super-high strength, so no surprise here. As for Lochindaal, it’s supposed to be a style (so peat level) that sits between Port Charlotte and Octomore, around 50-60 ppm peat if I’m not mistaken. They haven’t made much of it, have we ever seen any official Lochindaal? What I seem to remember is that there also used to be some indie Bowmore called ‘Lochindaal’. But enough babbling… Colour: white wine. Nose: smoked mint leaves, perhaps, olives for sure, some kind of oil… sesame, perhaps? Smoked sesame oil? This is pretty unusual, and to be honest, the super high strength blocks it a wee bit. With water: oh yes, kiln, dough, grist, yeasts, porridge, tarmac, burnt kerosene… And olives! Olives in Bruichladdich, really? Mouth (neat): kerosene and lemon-scented sanitizer. Too strong for this sissy of a taster. With water: a blade, all on lemon, salty oysters, ink, dough and petrol. It’s really very salty, rather saltier than both PC and Octo. Finish: long, on pure brine and smoked clams. Almond oil. Comments: spectacular and simply very good, but they should give you a free bottle of water with each bottle. I mean…
SGP:368 - 88 points.

And he insists… (watch the blue cask moving to the left...)

Lochindaal 10 yo 2009 (63%, Dramfool, bourbon barrel, 234 bottles, +/-2020)

Lochindaal 10 yo 2009 (63%, Dramfool, bourbon barrel, 234 bottles, +/-2020) Five stars
This really is the limit, at 64% I call the police. Colour: straw. Nose: a little gentler, even easier I would say. Same notes of olives, which I just adore, otherwise some ink and spicy pizza sauce. Really. I do feel that this is great but I wouldn’t take any further chances… With water: dough, passion fruits (yes!) and engine oil (one day I’ll tell you that old joke about two Englishmen on an old Norton suddenly falling in need of Veedol oil). Mouth (neat): I think this is kind of perfect, with perfect lemons and chillies and waxes and rieslings, but it is b***y strong. Sad that as always, my lawyer’s Huawei would be going straight on voicemail. With water: exactly. Pure peat and lemon, seawater, keepers and olives. Finish: pretty long and even more olive-y. Comments: would you please remind me why they stopped doing these specs?
SGP:468 - 90 points.

Let’s try to find a little more Lochindaal…

Lochindaal 2009/2016 (46%, High Spirits, 115 bottles)

Lochindaal 2009/2016 (46%, High Spirits, 115 bottles) Five stars
This one by the ever-engaging Nadi Fiori, it was about time I tried it. Colour: white wine. Nose: oh true class! Much gentler than the Dramfools, and really not that peaty, rather on grapefruits, maracuja, sour wines – Italians, naturally – and a tarry chalkiness that would kind of remind us of lighter Ardbeg, 17-year-old-style. Honestly you nose this blind, you say Ardbeg. Mouth: brilliant, a little lighter than ‘beg’ this time, and perhaps a little more on all things waxy and from the sea. Old fisherman’s nets, cough lozenges, some earth, Brussels sprouts and Jerusalem artichokes. With Covid, it’s good to travel. Finish: long, oilier. Crazily smoked salmon. Comments: wondering if they hadn’t tried to benchmark Ardbeg. Do not forget that before they could buy ‘Laddie, the gang had tried to buy Ardbeg – which, eventually, rather went to Glenmo. Anyway, old stories… and a formidable bottle, well done Nadi.
SGP:467 - 91 points.

Let’s get back to regular Laddie, we’ve got plenty in the boxes…

Bruichladdich 14 yo 2006/2019 (50.5%, House of McCallum, Port cask, cask #1545, 384 bottles)

Bruichladdich 14 yo 2006/2019 (50.5%, House of McCallum, Port cask, cask #1545, 384 bottles) Four stars
Very good house, very good people, very good distillery, but Port wood. Cross fingers and fasten your seatbelt (rather fasten your seatbelt and cross fingers). Colour: apricot/blush wine. Nose: looks like they did it gently, generating a feeling of strawberry yoghurt and fruit bread, orange sherbet, pastries, muesli, rosehip… How they managed to keep this balanced, I don’t know. With water: extremely nice, we’re in a pastry shop around 6am. Various doughs, pastes, candied fruits, goji berries, yeast, flour… Mouth (neat): fudge and butterscotch this time, raisin rolls, roasted peanuts… Wasn’t the Port cask STRised? (101: that’s Shaven-Toasted-Recharred). With water: excellent, tastes like a great sherry cask. Some peanut butter too, maple syrup, toffee… Finish: medium, modern, on latte and fudge. Comments: I don’t like the idea but I rather loved the whisky. Much better than the other way ‘round, I suppose. Simply very good, and wonderfully quaffable.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Good, a last one please. I had tried and scored this baby a long time ago, but never wrote any proper tasting notes (boo!) Time to do that…

Bruichladdich 36 yo 1966/2002 'Legacy I' (40.6%, OB, 1500 bottles)

Bruichladdich 36 yo 1966/2002 'Legacy I' (40.6%, OB, 1500 bottles) Five stars
From the heydays, this was the very first ‘Legacy’ bottling. Let’s remember that 1966, beyond the Beatles and the Stones, had been a stupendous vintage for many Scottish distilleries, for reasons I just couldn’t explain. Rock and roll, perhaps? Colour: gold. Nose: right, I remember. I remember these soft nut pastes, these wonderful floral notes (patchouli, dried flowers, everlasting), this subtle marzipan, putty, old oil paint, these whiffs of ‘old Jaguar’ (always quoting the old Jags because they were always leaking – ha), also old books (whisky bibles?) then menthol, embrocations, camphory balms, then a little umami – apologies, osmazôme – and just myriads of tinier aromas. Absolutely thrilling, they could do a whole series on Netflix just about this one. Mouth: holy featherless prime minister! Once you get past the rather oaky tones (putties), you come across all oils of the creation, sesame, rapeseed, sunflower… also essential oils perhaps, mint and thyme… Having said that, I think it lost steam in its bottle, together with the fruitiness that was there in the first place, in 2002. In short it got drier and perhaps a little tired. Hard to be sure, I last tried this baby as it was coming out, in 2002. A little perplexed… Finish: medium, rather on all kinds of herbal teas, with something a little resinous. Comments: brilliant nose, while the palate was a little more tired and, let’s say it, flatter than I remembered. But indeed, that was eighteen years ago. What should I do? What would you do? Well I used to have it at 94, but I think a rather lower mark will do… The first 1970 was in a higher league for sure – tried it again a few weeks ago.
SGP:451 - 91 points.

Many more Laddies in the weeks to come, stay tuned!

(Merci François)

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

 

October 26, 2020


Whiskyfun

Flash session, at last, Caperdonich!

Honestly, the Caperdonich shelf had been desperately empty for months and months when these two babies came in. I’m glad they’re on the tasting table, these Glen Grant 2s…

 

 

 

Caperdonich 20 yo 2000/2020 (55.8%, LMDW, Artist #10, hogshead, cask #29488, 251 bottles)

Caperdonich 20 yo 2000/2020 (55.8%, LMDW, Artist #10, hogshead, cask #29488, 251 bottles)
This was selected at Signatory Vintage’s by the skilled noses of La Maison du Whisky. Remember Pernod-Ricard bought Caperdonich from Seagrams’ in 2001 and closed it almost immediately. So, this is one of the very last vintages. Who’s ever tried a 1972 Caperdonich? Utter glory, I agree. Oh and remember Seagrams had done some peaters at Caperdonich, as they were doing elsewhere, but I believe that had been done way before the year 2000. Colour: gold. Nose: sweet, easy American oak, with some vanilla and brioche, pancakes, drops of grape juice, some sour beer, apples and pears, flour and grist… It is very fresh and not that far from Glen Grant’s style indeed. Or Glenmo’s. With water: barley and beach sand, sesame oil, a little coconut water… Mouth (neat): creamy, vanilla-ed, barley-y, with quite some barley syrup, custard, acacia honey, a touch of beeswax… What’s immediately remarkable is how creamy and almost thick this is. With water: great malty and brioche-y profile, with some coconut balls, biscuits, sweet oils… It’s the texture that’s most impressive. A little white pepper for good measure. Finish: medium, sweet and oily for a few seconds (syrup), spicier then. Comments: you almost need a spoon to get this one out of your tulip glass, but it’s worth it. Barley in majesty.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

 

 

 

Caperdonich 22 yo 1997 (60.5%, Lady of the Glen, bourbon barrel, cask #19130, 171 bottles, +/-2020)

Caperdonich 22 yo 1997 (60.5%, Lady of the Glen, bourbon barrel, cask #19130, 171 bottles, +/-2020) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: much sharper, tenser, grassier than the Artist, rather with notes of cachaça straight from the still plus a little fresh butter and newly mown lawn. Some white currants too, but at this very high strength it’s not easy to get finer nuances. With water: good pilsner, baker’s yeast, hay, fresh baguette, cactus, today’s newspapers, fresh concrete… Mouth (neat): great raw punch, very tight, very grassy, full of leaves, stems, green fruits (unripe greengages) and grape pips. Baking soda. I hear water is requested at the entrance… With water: this one’s waxier than the 2000, it’s got more citrus too, a little rubber, plasticine and paraffin, ink, chalk… Not an easy baby and rather a fighter. Finish: long, grassy, waxy, a little eau-de-vie-ish. Some gooder soapy tones in the aftertaste. Comments: the kind of austere malt that would rather bite you if you’re not careful enough, just like an helpless old cat. But that’s what makes it rather fascinating, you have to intellectualise these uncompromising whiskies a wee bit.
SGP:361 - 86 points.

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

 

October 25, 2020


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!

 

Another bag of new rums

Perhaps some malternatives, let’s see.

 

 

 

Chalong Bay ‘Wild Fermentation’ (49%, OB, Thailand, 2020)

Chalong Bay ‘Wild Fermentation’ (49%, OB, Thailand, 2020)
I suppose wild fermentation means wild yeasts. This is pure sugarcane juice. I am a fan of Chalong Bay. Colour: white. Nose: lovable. New plastics, fresh cane juice, baker’s yeast, capers, new jumper, touches of juniper and nutmeg, oysters, pickled gherkins, a drop of tequila. I find this nose pretty superb and very deep. Do not overlook Chalong Bay just because they’re located in Phuket! Mouth: super-good, I remember I’ve tried some raw ‘peasant’s’ aguardientes in Cuba that were a bit like this. Muscovado, sugarcane syrup, artichokes and capers, a little tar… It really tastes of raw cane sugar, while being less grassy and olive-y than other Chalongs. We’ll try another one soon… Finish: medium, really all on cane sugar. That’s where it may all become a little ‘toom much’, but now quibbles, it’s still very good rum. Comments: as I said, I’m a fan, but this one’s perhaps a tad tiring because it’s so much on cane sugar. I suppose it’s stupid to blame it for that but I liked the ‘High Proof Batch 0001’ really better the other day (WF 85).
SGP:631 - 80 points.

 

 

Savanna 16 yo 2003/2020 (52.7%, OB, La Réunion, cask #987, 936 bottles)

Savanna 16 yo 2003/2020 (52.7%, OB, La Réunion, cask #987, 936 bottles)
We’ve loved their new Grand Arôme last week, but this is a traditional ex-molasses old rhum. Should be much rounder… Colour: amber. Nose: I love to be proven wrong when what we get is rather a full-blown agricole style. Superb menthol, oranges, plasticine, apricot pie, maple syrup, aniseed and liquorice, wild carrots… Well, this is a superb, full and complex nose that I would almost call Marie-Galante-y, if you see what I mean. That’s right, that’s around 20,000 kilometres away as the crow flies. With water: not that many changes. Probably more liquorice. Lovely. Mouth (neat): oh caraway and aniseed, sweet paprika sauce, maple syrup, black nougat, pancake sauce, caramel, fudge… Rather a sin this far, be careful. It’s a bit syrupy but I’m sure no one dared sauce this up. With water: of course no one did, it got dry when reduced, and much more on oranges, triple-sec, marmalade… Finish: not eternal but fresh and well balanced between orange juice and maple syrup. One should definitely try this one over pancakes. No, you go first. A drop of bottled orange juice too. Some coffee liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: we’re almost in the French West Indies with this one. Excellent.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

 

 

 

Let’s fly to Barbados…

Foursquare 14 yo 2005/2020 (62.7%, The WhiskyFind for HNWS Taiwan 15th Anniversary, Barbados, hogshead, cask #7, 270 bottles)

Foursquare 14 yo 2005/2020 (62.7%, The WhiskyFind for HNWS Taiwan 15th Anniversary, Barbados, hogshead, cask #7, 270 bottles) Four stars and a half
Looks like they’re doing the best rums too in Taiwan. Hello Taiwan! Colour: old gold. Nose: typical, with many things in smaller proportions, if you see what I mean. Earth, black olives, balsam, oranges, touches of balsamic vinegar, liquorice, pipe tobacco, fresh cane juice, a drop of sour beer, a wee mustiness (can you say wee in rum?) With water: liquorice up, earth up, softer spices up (curry), pleasure further up. Mouth (neat): it’s really punchy but I’ve just noticed the strength (tell me about a blogger). Something a tad prickly but I suppose that’s the strength indeed. Too salty for Foursquare too, so quick, H2O! With water: oranges quarters coated with honey and caramel sauce, Belgian waffles, Cointreau. In truth there’s really a lot of Cointreau. Reminds me of Soupe de Champagne (champagne, sugarcane syrup, Cointreau, lemon juice – please find the proportions online). Finish: medium, always well balanced, with this small lightness that almost always ‘lifts’ Foursquare in the end. Caramel and, indeed, a saltiness. Comments: as good as it gets but goes down a little too well. Granted, perhaps not at 62.7% A.B.V.
SGP:552 - 89 points.

Since we’re in Barbados…

Barbados Oldest (Mount Gay) 19 yo 2000/2019 (54.3%, The Duchess, Barbados, cask #49)

Barbados Oldest (Mount Gay) 19 yo 2000/2019 (54.3%, The Duchess, Barbados, cask #49) Four stars and a half
You’ll find many birds on rum labels these days, which I find extremely cool since we all have to protect them. Why wouldn’t all rum or whisky makers or bottlers use their labels to promote worthy causes rather than plunder ancient books or out-of-use label books? That’s gonna happen, I’m sure. Colour: light gold. Nose: light, cane-y, with notes of hay, earl grey and orange cake, scones… It’s almost a five o’clock tea in England. And why not! With water: brine and olives, new Tupperware (do they still exist?) and sugarcane. Mouth (neat): rather firmer than the Foursquare, but less complex. Rotting fruits, a little tar, salty cakes. With water: there’s a very wee dusty side at first but also some splendid honeyed notes and some tarry and even smoky ones to boot. I find this excellent now. Honey-roasted pineapples. Finish: good length, with good tar and various peppers. Pink pepper. Comments: in fact this Bajan baby started a little light (ish) but never stopped improving. One more point every minute ;-) and on an equal footing with the Foursquare in the end. That wasn’t exactly expected, but remember, always give time to your spirits.
SGP:452 - 89 points.

Ten Cane Distillery 11 yo 2008/2019 (63%, The Duchess, Trinidad, cask #80, 232 bottles)

Ten Cane Distillery 11 yo 2008/2019 (63%, The Duchess, Trinidad, cask #80, 232 bottles) Four stars and a half
I’m extremely far from being a rum expert (I’m sure Mike Pence knows more) but I had just never heard of Ten Cane Distillery before. How bad is that? Apparently, it was a brand (or an actual distillery?) launched by LVMH in the early 2000s that never took off and that subsequently got shut down for good, in true Darwinian-capitalist fashion. You learn something new every day, don’t you! Colour: deep amber. Nose: hey! Have they tried to emulate Caroni? Olives, honey sauce, tar and liquorice, soot, gasoline, tarmac… and 63% vol. Caroni, really. So, with water: seawater, tarry nets, and the largest bag of Dutch liquorice ever. Quite some Swedish snuff too. Mouth (neat): did I say Caroni? Thick liquorice, salty bits of dried fish, concentrated caramel, brown sauce, corn syrup, bananas flambéed, menthol, tar… With water: a saltiness appearing. The craziest salted liquorice ever – at least to me as a Frenchman, I’m sure our dear friends up there in the north will find this as light as the feathers of a baby sparrow. Finish: long. Salted liquorice, Douglas fir liqueur, orange cordial and mint cream. That’s relatively heavy. Comments: good, I think this is excellent. What happened LVMH? Too soon? Too impatient? Perhaps the name? I mean, Ten Cane…
SGP:553 - 88 points.

Next week we may have a go at Renegade’s very first run! Stay tuned…

(Thank you Tony)

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

 

October 24, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
A mixed bag of mostly newish stuff
I know, what a title right? We have a few older ones today - notably with Bunnahabhain - however, there’s more than a few new and newish bottlings on the shelf and I’m always happy to be able to try some new drams.

 

An Irish Distillery 30 yo 1990/2020 (53.1%, Archives ‘Birds from the Orient’, cask #589, rum barrel, 148 bottles)

An Irish Distillery 30 yo 1990/2020 (53.1%, Archives ‘Birds from the Orient’, cask #589, rum barrel, 148 bottles)
Not sure if this was a rum finish or full term maturation. What’s for sure is that my pitch of a ‘Kebabs of Glasgow’ themed Archives label series is just getting pushed further and further down the list! I know, I know, first world problems… Colour: gold. Nose: big, syrupy and full of tinned pineapple, golden syrup, coconut water - indeed there’s a sense of rum about it - and rather lovely notes of new leather, white pepper and mineral oil. With water: becomes ever so slightly salty now, more coconut, dried herbs, nettles, camphor, perhaps even a little waxy. Really good. Mouth: here comes the anticipated fruits but they’re very much wrapped up in various cooking oils, metal polish, lime zest and putty. The rum here is really well integrated, you get these wonderfully rich grassy notes, metal and shoe polishes and these nicely tart peppery notes. With water: resinous fruitiness now, guava, mango, lemon, pineapple, however it’s all rather dried, textural and nicely bitter. Still quite herbal and peppery. Finish: long, dried exotic fruits and exotic fruit teas, white pepper, olive oil, putty and an increasingly mechanical edge that almost takes in engine oil and seawater. Comments: the rum weaves in and out of this one in a really enchanting way. You certainly feel it’s very Irish, but it’s quite a departure from the more obvious and lusciously fruity examples. Still, quality remains high overall!
SGP: 641 - 88 points. 

 

 

Redbreast 30 yo 1989 (57.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, bourbon barrels / port pipe, 444 bottles)

Redbreast 30 yo 1989 (57.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, bourbon barrels / port pipe, 444 bottles)
This one was in bourbon until 1995 and then a port pipe since then, so well and truly a double maturation and not a finish in my book. Colour: bright orange / amber. Nose: many small fruits. Apricots, plums, melon, kiwi. The kind of aroma that immediately sounds the complexity alarm. Goes on with stewed figs, plum wine, blood orange and these wee leathery and camphor touches. More plums, did I mention there were plums already? With water: raspberry panna cotta, red liquorice, brown sugars, toffee apple and this rather precise aroma of crystallised exotic fruits and citrus peels. Also wee beery touches of fruity new world hops and IPAs as well. Mouth: you don’t have the obvious, luscious fruitiness of some of these other older Irish whiskeys. Instead, you’ve got a wonderfully bitter herbal and grassy profile, all wrapped up in dark, syrupy, stewed fruits and warm spices. Cinnamon, aniseed, paprika and eucalyptus bark. Bitter orange peels, old leather, spiced teas, pine resin and bitter marmalade. Extremely good and - what I love most of all - extremely Irish! With water: sticky fruits tinned in syrups, and darker stewed fruits in calvados and cognac. Some stodgy fruit cake, madeira sponge, cough medicines, herbal cordials and wee touches of mulchy tobacco and menthol sweets. Finish: long, perfectly bitter, herbal and converging on some old school Fernet Branca. Expensive liquorice, boiled cherry sweets, sticky fruit cake again and more of these elegant bitter orange notes. Some rather thick earthy and meaty notes in the aftertaste. Comments: The word here is ‘complexity’. A whiskey that first commands, then holds your attention, before opening up into many layers with patience and varying degrees of water. I also enjoy that it retains an extremely loud and clear Irish accent without necessarily aligning with other contemporary Irish bottlings of similar age.
SGP: 751 - 90 points.   

 

 

Tomintoul 14 yo 2005/2020 (55.8%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #19A, refill bourbon / Amontillado finish, 251 bottles)

Tomintoul 14 yo 2005/2020 (55.8%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #19A, refill bourbon / Amontillado finish, 251 bottles)
Colour: copper. Nose: nice! First up, you really do get the Amontillado, lots of big, syrupy, salty, caramel and butterscotch notes. Some leafy and earthy notes, dried apples and then cigarette tobacco. Very good so far. With water: deeper earthiness, brown apples, muscovado sugar and cloves. Mouth: first there is a little heat and a nibble of tannin from the wood, you can feel this is a modern sherry cask style where they have louder staves. Charcoal, brown sugar, graphite, treacle and rosewater. With water: more chocolatey, more fudgey and now also rather peppery. Although you still have some rather punchy tannins, globally it’s a little leafier and creamier. Finish: medium, spicy, jammy, peppery and rather herbal in the aftertaste. Comments: I like that it’s a finishing where the additional cask is very clear and up front. Although, not sure Tomintoul is the world’s most distinctive distillate, rather a blank canvass, which makes sense for finishing I suppose. Anyway, the wood is a little sharp and modern for my tastes, but the overall quality is good I think.
SGP: 651 - 83 points.

 

 

Tomintoul 15 yo (56..1%, Dram Mor, cask #32, refill bourbon / Sauternes finish, 317 bottles)

Tomintoul 15 yo (56,1%, Dram Mor, cask #32, refill bourbon / Sauternes finish, 317 bottles)
This one spent only 4 months in an ex-Sauternes barrique so probably quite a light touch. Let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s true that Tomintoul seems to work as a good ‘base’ malt for finishing, here you have the immediate light nectar and honeyed sweetness of the Sauternes. But it weaves nicely into cereal sweetness, honey-sweetened porridge and then some rather curious spice notes of things like cumin and paprika. Pumpkinseed oil too! With water: wet leaves, new cigarettes, cornflour, canvass and buttered toast. Rather drier and feeling much closer to the raw, natural ingredients now. Mouth: not sure what the Sauternes barrique added, but I find this much richer and ‘fuller’ than Tomintoul usually is. Sunflower oil, more of these wee cupboard spices, peach stones, caramelised oatmeal, dried herbs and wee hints of miso and white mushroom. With water: bigger, spicier and more towards breads and cereals now. Almost akin to some new world style whiskies with these notes of pumpernickel and corn chips. New leather, putty and again this slightly mushroomy earthiness. Finish: medium, cooked cereals, butter, parsley, rapeseed oil and putty. Comments: It’s funny how water all but obliterated any Sauternes influence here I think, whereas on the neat nose it was rather clear and apparent. Anyway, this one was pretty fun I think.
SGP: 651 - 84 points.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (43%, OB, litre, 1990s)

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (43%, OB, litre, 1990s)
I fondly recall being in Loch Fyne Whiskies and the inimitable Richard Joynson urging me to buy this because it was ‘currently actually a 19 year old’. I believe that was what they now call ‘the good old days’… Colour: gold. Nose: nutty, leathery sherry with a nicely saline and meaty edge. This kind of sinewed, chunky sherry / coastal profile is something I find extremely ‘Bunnahabhain’. Develops some beautiful notes of wet leaves, mushrooms, walnut oil and hessian. It certainly does come across as older than 12. Mouth: big, salty, earthy, robust sherry with plenty of tobacco, walnuts, leather and a persistent and wonderful saltiness. Salted almonds and some top quality old Amontillado. More of these meaty tones, bouillon stock, game meats, putty and some cough medicines. Finish: good length, still on these leathery, umami, salty, meaty and nutty sherried qualities. Comments: I suspect Richard was onto something…
SGP: 562 - 88 points.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 19 yo 1980 (46%, First Cask, cask #5647, sherry)

Bunnahabhain 19 yo 1980 (46%, First Cask, cask #5647, sherry)
From a possible 19yo to an actual 19yo. These stocks for Direct Wines hailed from Signatory and were often excellent. I think I write a variation of that sentence literally every time I write notes for a First Cask bottling. Next time I won’t, I promise! Colour: pale amber. Nose: it’s true that Bunnahabhain and good sherry are a great pairing and that’s the case here, lots of moss, damp earth, black tea, tobacco leaf and hints of milk chocolate and praline. It’s this very particular collision of nuttiness, thickness and salinity that I keep returning to time and again with Bunna. You can often add honey to that triumvirate on occasion as well, especially from refill wood. But we’re getting distracted… Mouth: soft and squidgy dark fruits. Sultanas, prunes, chocolate sauce, damp earthiness, hessian, dry roast peanuts… much to admire! There’s that rather resinous saltiness coming at the back as well along with more hessian, leaf mulch and that slightly vegetal, bouillon vibe again. It’s to be wondered if this parcel of stock wasn’t very similar to that feeding the OB 12yo at the time? There’s a whole helix of shared DNA between these two. Finish: medium, some burnt raisins, caramelised brown sugar, toffee apples, petrichor and damp tobacco. Comments: Extremely close to the ‘12yo’, hard to discern much difference in overall quality. Although, I’d say the sherry is little more rugged and pronounced here.
SGP: 462 - 88 points.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1979/2009 (45.2%, The Whisky Talker, cask #9619, sherry butt, 554 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1979/2009 (45.2%, The Whisky Talker, cask #9619, sherry butt, 554 bottles)
Colour: rosy amber. Nose: sherry + time in full swing here. Big notes of balsamic reduction, walnut wine, natural tar, hardwood resins, fir wood, pinecones and bitter dark chocolate. Wonderfully pure, clean and earthy with these rather sharper notes of dark fruits and sour cherries. Mouth: deeply earthy and ridden with tobacco, raspberry Belgian sour beers, bitter chocolate, cocoa, wild strawberry jam, muscovado and salty liquorice. Very powerful but superbly rich, punchy and clean earthy sherry. Now, I’m not too sure how much of the Bunna DNA has survived here, but this is undeniably delicious. Finish: medium, umami, savoury earthiness, black teas, green walnut liqueur, rancio and more balsamic. Comments: Extremely quaffable, the low abv seems to work and bend well with the sherry, although perhaps notch more power would have pushed this higher. But then, it’s a highly pleasurable old sherried Bunna and we’re splitting hairs.
SGP: 661 - 89 points.

 

 

Bruichladdich 15 yo 2005/2020 (60.6%, Archives ‘Birds of the Orient’, cask #806, barrel, 230 bottles)

Bruichladdich 15 yo 2005/2020 (60.6%, Archives ‘Birds of the Orient’, cask #806, barrel, 230 bottles)
Historians of the distant future will probably write some obscure thesis on the curious effects of that late 20th century phenomena when whisky lovers and bird watchers started breeding… Colour: pale gold. Nose: wooft! An un-peated Brora 1972! Seriously, all on pure farmyard, bailed hay, silage, paraffin, clay, ointments, mineral oils and camphor. Pretty spectacular in my view. With water: yup, chalk dusters, more paraffin, lamp oil, plush cereals, malt extract, barley sugar, stables and this increasingly fresh and elegant coastal note. Mouth: one of these styles that feels as though there is some peat lurking in the depths that’s extremely hard to pin down. Instead it sort of emerges as ink, carbon paper, olive oil, brake fluid, chalk, aspirin, struck flints and tar. It’s also superbly fat and textural. Brilliant distillate! With water: massively textural, fat, oily, buttery malted barley sweetness. Also these peppery notes and a more vivid coastal quality. Some greenery such as grass, parsley and crushed gorse bush too. Just superb! Finish: long, full of white pepper, chalky medicines, grassy olive oil, dry cereals, tarragon and a few glimmers of tart green acidity. Comments: Quite simply, brilliant distillate. It’s a big departure from the earlier eras, but it seems they were really doing something right at Bruichladdich in these post-2001 vintages.
SGP: 572 - 90 points.

 

 

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1992/2019 (54.9%, Elixir Distillers ‘The Single Malts Of Scotland’, cask #3841, hogshead, 228 bottles)

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1992/2019 (54.9%, Elixir Distillers ‘The Single Malts Of Scotland’, cask #3841, hogshead, 228 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: another style entirely. One that’s globally much lighter and dominated by flower and heather honeys, light cereals, sunflower oil, sandalwood, canvass and various green and ripe orchard fruits like cut green apples, gooseberry and slightly overripe pears. Light, fresh, crisp and extremely elegant. With water: more opulent, honeyed, greener, riper fruits and more generous and sweet barley aroma. Beautifully pure and close to the natural ingredients. Mouth: rich and polished cereals, beautifully well-structured with pollens, light herbal teas, canvass, hessian, sandalwood and mineral oils. Wee camphory touches, sweet porridge and more background green fruits and lemon peel. With water: again with pollens, supple waxes, canvass, mineral oils, putty, delicate medical notes and soft cereal tones. Finish: good length, with artichokes in olive oil, white pepper, watercress, mustard powder and more of these rich, fatty cereal aspects. Comments: I feel like these vintages were, despite what was said about them in their younger days, very good distillate - they just needed time to emerge properly from their shell. This is a pretty exemplary and excellent example of that era I’d say, one captured at a perfect age.
SGP: 561 - 88 points.

 

 

Let’s remain at Bruichladdich, but turn up the volume on the peat for the final dram today.

 

 

Port Charlotte 13 yo 2005/2018 (58.4%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #1590, madeira hogshead, 304 bottles)

Port Charlotte 13 yo 2005/2018 (58.4%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #1590, madeira hogshead, 304 bottles)
This from the German language remake of the SMWS. Colour: pale gold. Nose: what’s funny is that there is an almost ‘Springbank’ vibe at first nosing, one that’s reminiscent of that distillery’s own forays into Madeira cask maturation. Perhaps that says something about the broader interactions between Madeira and peat? Anyway, I find a lot of seawater, salted almonds, anchovies and this rather brilliant hit of raw medicines, mercurochrome and smoked sea salt. Wonderfully rich, pure, fat and powerful. With water: deeply smoky, fishy, peppery, briny and peaty. The peat smoke becomes almost leathery and you get these real, palpable notes of hot smoked white fish and wood embers. Mouth: pure seawater cut with petrol, aniseed, sheep wool and industrial antiseptic. It’s this combination of power and control which is so compelling. The peat feels almost greasy and swollen in texture. Bacon lardons, natural tar and many medical notes of gauze, iodine and TCP. Also farmyard qualities. With water: wonderfully tarry, salty, peppery, fishy, peaty and with some almost metallic touches of metal polish, sooty, mechanical oils, heavy-weight medicines and camphor. Finish: superbly long, resinous, salty, greasy peats, grilled mackerel, black pepper, iodine, hessian, tar, mineral salts and smoked olive oil. Comments: I couldn’t tell you what the Madeira brought to this, other than that it was probably just a very good cask that sang in clear harmony with this brilliant Port Charlotte distillate. Raw, powerful and yet wonderful controlled, precise and evocative whisky. What’s also cool, is that despite the cask, the peating level and the age difference, the shared identity between this and the Archives bottling is loud and clear. Great distillate always triumphs!
SGP: 478 - 90 points.

 

 

Big thanks to Brian.

 

 

 

 

October 23, 2020


Whiskyfun

Another Japanese cavalcade

Japanese, half-Japanese, and not Japanese at all Japanese whiskies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Akkeshi ‘Sarorunkamuy’ 2016/2020 (55%, OB, Lightly peated)

Akkeshi ‘Sarorunkamuy’ 2016/2020 (55%, OB, Lightly peated)
This is the very first whisky from Akkeshi Distillery on Hokkaido – nothing to do with Akashi - and was matured in bourbon, sherry, red wine and mizunara casks. The Japanese too enjoy marquetry. Colour: straw. Nose: a very young spirit, with bready notes, a slightly feinty side, and quite some oak. Husk, sawdust, ale, hints of eucalyptus – the mizunara I suppose, sourdough… Nutshell, it feels young but that’s normal and you have to start from somewhere. With water: williams pears and white cherries, apple peel... Mouth (neat): more mature than on the nose, spicy, smoky and fruity, with curious notes of sake (I swear), fermentation, plantains… No red berries, that’s good. And I rather love sake. With water: even better. Smoked beer, kirsch, williams pear, barley and banana bread. Finish: medium, with a little more oak, cocoa and cereals, plus hints of bananas. Comments: please do not take my score too seriously, this is 3 years old malt whisky and many 3 yo malt whiskies are pretty undrinkable – or made-up. Not the case at all here, very well done Akkeshi.
SGP:552 - 80 points.

 

 

Mars Tsunuki 2016-2017/2020 ‘The First’ (59%, OB)

Mars Tsunuki 2016-2017/2020 ‘The First’ (59%, OB)
The very first Tsunuki distilled at Tsunuki, although I seem to have noticed that some single casks are also being launched. I have to say I have a rather high opinion of Mars/Hombo. Colour: straw. Nose: a proper fresh baguette around 6am, then crushed bananas, vanilla, croissants and muesli. Pristine malt whisky, pure and unvarnished. So no wine in sight, we are safe. With water: wonderfully barley-y. Splendid very honest young malt. Mouth (neat): high-power, tight, on dough, lemon liqueur and peppermint. That part is spectacular, let’s see if it’s still there once water’s been added. With water: rather some kind of lemon-mint? Melissa water? Lemongrass? Indeed, splendid drop at this age. Finish: medium, with a little sawdust – which was to be expected, with even more of that in the aftertaste, which was to be expected too. Comments: I don’t think you can do any better with some 3.5 years old malt whisky. The side of Nippon whisky that we love!
SGP:651 - 88 points.

 

 

Mars Komagate 2014/2020 (61%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, first fill bourbon, cask #1789, 192 bottles)

Mars Komagate 2014/2020 (61%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, first fill bourbon, cask #1789, 192 bottles)
This ought to be a revolutionary barrel (you may google ‘France 1789’). Different distillery, this time we’re in Shinshu. Colour: white wine. Nose: less consensual, a little more metallic, with more chalk and prickly fruits, granny smith, perhaps green gooseberries… I find this nose perfectly acidulated, but remember, 61%, so water may make it way smoother (yes I’m part of the AWETKUWS, the association of whisky enthusiasts that keep using the word smooth). With water: a little menthol was added, perhaps eucalyptus, wondering if they haven’t used a little mizunara. Remember mizunara is like yuzu in food, ten years ago no one was even talking about them. Mouth (neat): a tad glue-y, but that’s the high strength. Otherwise it’s amyl diacetate galore! So pineapples and pears… With water: back to malt and sweet beer, phew. But almonds and varnish are still there, which is not unpleasant. Finish: medium, sweet and candy-like. Viket sweets in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent for sure, but I liked the new Tsunuki’s tighter and yet fatter style even better.
SGP:741 - 85 points.

 

 

Karuizawa 1999/2018 (58.8%, Artist #10, LMDW, sherry, cask #872, 313 bottles)

Karuizawa 1999/2018 (58.8%, Artist #10, LMDW, sherry, cask #872, 313 bottles)
This bottle, although bottled in 2018, just came out as a 10th Anniversary bottling (anniversary of this very lovely and elegant series I suppose). Colour: mahogany. Nose: not all late-period Karuizawas have been out of this world, but it seems that this one’s sharing a few attributes with the earlier ‘sherried’ vintages, such as old tools, prunes, tar, black cherries, then ganache, rose wood, peonies and Turkish currants... I really cherish all this metal polish too, which reminds of some old motorbikes that I still have somewhere. With water: pipe tobacco joining in, earth, walnuts and raisins, more prunes, malmsey… I find this nose superlative. Mouth (neat): what? Tell me about some heavy whisky! Doesn’t quite feel like a proper sherry cask, rather some obscure fortified wine aged in pinewood or something. The thing is, the end result is rather superb. Ex-Soviet Republic ‘konjak’ without all the sugars and sauces. With water: more towards raw chocolate, raspberry jelly and camphor. Not a very usual combination, but one that wins. Finish: rather long, on pretty much the same flavours, plus just wee touches (how do you say wee in Japanese?) of sulphury and tarry rubber. Comments: the finish pulled it down a little bit, but otherwise, it’s rather a late-period-early-style Karuizawa I would say.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

 

 

 

Tenjaku (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Tenjaku (40%, OB, +/-2020)
Produce of Japan my hat! Probably one of those numerous fake Japanese whiskies that have been dragging down the whole category for years and years. Apparently, beyond a few unnecessary statements, no one’s moving a toe. But yeah, there’s Covid… Colour: straw. Nose: it’s an easy blend. 100 Pipers or some Indian Scotch-like cheapos. Not really terrible, in fact, just empty and pretty grainy (which is the same thing). Mouth: not too bad, in fact. Let’s be honest, this is drinkable at a BBQ party and with a ton of crushed ice and lime. Low-shelf stuff for sure, but it’s not poisonous. Finish: very short, not too bad. Comments: a good example of a 60-point whisky, or of $15 stuff sold for $40. Probably created by Tesla-driving brand-builders ;-). And and the way they've put the ABV on the label, oh!
SGP:320 - 60 points.

Kaiyo ‘Japanese Mizunara Oak’ (43%, OB, +/-2019)

Kaiyo ‘Japanese Mizunara Oak’ (43%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
This is pretty smart, it says both ‘Kaiyo whisky’ and ‘Japanese Mizunara’, but nowhere does it say ‘Japanese whisky’ (well they do on dramazon.com, naturally). What’s more, all Kaiyo bottles are superbly designed. Colour: straw. Nose: not much, a little sawdust, cardboard, grist and wee herbs. Watercress, perhaps. Not ugly at all, just extremely thin on your nose. Mouth: its more than okay this time. Sawdust and cardboard plus a little marmalade and corn syrup. English breakfast tea (the French’s favourite, hope Brexit won’t make it harder to find it in Paris – of course I’m joking, I’m more concerned about Lagavulin!) Maple butter, some cinnamon. Finish: short, but with nice cappuccino and chlorophyl notes. Is that the mizunara? Comments: actually, it was pretty good on the palate. A higher voltage and it would have reached the 80-mark in my book. Could it be that this one was really Japanese?
SGP:451 - 79 points.

Shizuoaka 2019/2020 (61.7%, OB, cask sample, octave, cask #2019-526)

Shizuoaka 2019/2020 (61.7%, OB, cask sample, octave, cask #2019-528) Five stars
This one’s non-peated. Shizuoka are the new kids on the block, I believe they have no whisky yet and yet they already command high prices. For their new makes! It’s true that they have the Karuizawa stills, of which one is still working… Colour: white wine. Nose: yeah well, this is disappointingly superb. Heavy varnish and nail polish remover, acetone, mezcal, bitter almonds, paint thinner, sourdough, leaven, yeasts… Indeed the yeasty side is crazily superb. With water: oh damp husk, flour, yoghurt sauce, and anyone’s holy grail (well mine), olives! Mouth (neat): between great white whisky and great white rum, with quite some stone fruit eau-de-vie poured in. It’s all as if they were doing heavy bacterial fermentation, really. High esters in whisky! With water: what what what what what? The world of whisky is going real fast these days… (just a general observation) Finish: long and amazing. Comments: this oozes of style. The future of malt whisky may lie around these places and concepts, well I think they found the key. F***** crazy. We’ve got many more Shizuokas, I think we’ll do a bespoke session for them. In any case, best Japanese distillate, by far.
SGP:363 - 91 points.

Wow, really. Let’s just celebrate with a last well-chosen Japanese whisky… Preferably an old one…

Shinshu Mars 25 yo 1988/2013 (46%, OB, American White Oak, cask #555, 468 bottles)

Shinshu Mars 25 yo 1988/2013 (46%, OB, American White Oak, cask #555, 468 bottles) Four stars
I believe this is Komagate, but I’m not sure I’m getting Hombo’s whole concept perfectly right. Between names of locations, names of distilleries, and names of whiskies, you can get lost over there. Colour: light amber. Nose: starts with a little camphor, varnish, overripe bananas, ylang-ylang and coconut, as if it was light rum from the Indian ocean. Quite some cedarwood then, mashed turnips, old waxes, Moroccan Ras el hanout spice blend, old planks in the yard… Feels complex and a little fragile. Mouth: some old woods, cedar, pine… Some fruit skins too (banana), then mead and pollen, drops of fino sherry (I’m not saying there is any), bamboo shoots, then more and more salt, wondering where that’s coming from. Buttered salted caramel. It’s perhaps a little shaky and wobbly at times, but it’s a very charming old Japanese drop. Finish: medium, on some waxy and mentholy old wood. Old tobacco. Comments: it’s extremely difficult to ‘judge’ (hate that word) such a pretty fragile old malt whisky. That’s almost like driving an old Porsche, they’re much slower than the new ones, and yet… Oh forget about all that please.
SGP:562 - 87 points.

(Many thanks Lucero and Trevin)

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

 

October 22, 2020


Whiskyfun

Flash session, two Glenmorangies

Well possibly two, as one of them is one of those increasingly annoying anonymous (or secret) malt whiskies. We’ll see…

 

 

 

Glenmorangie ‘A Tale of Cake’ (46%, OB, 2020)

Glenmorangie ‘A Tale of Cake’ (46%, OB, 2020)
With no age statement, a design made for kindergarten (or for Ronnie McDojnald) and a finishing in Tokaji, will this really be a piece of cake? In whisky, ex-Tokaji wood has been known for its capacity of wrecking even the most spectacular distillates, such as, err, Longrow. But I agree Glenmo isn’t Longrow, and that fun is much needed these days… Colour: light gold. Nose: fresher and zestier than expected, rather on pink grapefruits than on candied raisins or late-harvest furmint. Some peaches too, apricots, lemon biscuits, then longans and probably dried litchis, which would rather lead us towards gewurztraminer, but there, no harm done. Mouth: rather creamy, very easy, rather on oriental pastries, icewine or even ice cider, nougat and popcorn. Lemon drops and touches of mint liquorice. Finish: medium, rather on plum spirit. Rather damson eau-de-vie actually, which I’m about to distil again later in November, by the way, with my loyal 100-l hybrid copper still. A little coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: I think this is a success. The Tokaji was clean, the whisky smooth, and our friends valiant.

SGP:541 - 85 points.

 

 

 

Secret Highland 31 yo 1987/2019 (50.4%, The Whisky Blues, Taiwan, hogshead, cask #23, 79 bottles)

Secret Highland 31 yo 1987/2019 (50.4%, The Whisky Blues, Taiwan, hogshead, cask #23, 79 bottles) Five stars
Said to be Glenmorangie, not unlike other 1987s or 1985s that have been shared amongst indie bottlers. These are well single malts, not blended ones as the famous Westports. Now what’s best? Colour: deep gold/bronze. Nose: a shame that the distillery’s reputation cannot benefit from all the very positive comments that such wonderful old whiskies will undoubtedly pull from all corners. Lovely sultanas, with whiffs of ‘a tea in the Sahara’, spearmint, thin mints, orange cake, tangerine marmalade, and tremendously huge (Donald, shh…) notes of rosehip tea. With water: wonderful floral tones, rather around rosewater. Blood oranges. Mouth (neat): more of the same, starting with a little orange squash, then touches of pink Timut-style pepper, before it would unfold with marmalades, raisins, and various fruit liqueurs. Apricotine or Marillenschnaps. With water: a little oak popping out but that’s just nothing in this context. Turkish delights, raisins, liquorice allsorts, marmalade, a touch of aniseed (raki – to sip with Turkish delights)… Finish: medium, a little more honeyed, but the backgrounds remains very orange-y. Zests in the aftertaste. Comments: why aren’t there any indie disclosed Glenmorangies, while Ardbeg aren’t rare at all? Answers on a postcard…
SGP:651 - 90 points.

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

 

October 21, 2020


Whiskyfun

Old Pulteney Quartet

Apart from a few uninspiring NASses that were just reeking of sawdust, we’ve tried quite a few very nice new Pulteneys recently. Always a joy to be able to realise that there isn’t only Clynelish north of Dornoch on the East coast…

 

 

 

Old Pulteney 10 yo ‘Flotilla’ (46%, OB, 2020)

Old Pulteney 2010/2020 ‘Flotilla’ (46%, OB, first fill bourbon)
A brand new Flotilla! Seriously, silly names do not bother me as long as there is a proper age statement, quite the contrary. So, ‘flotilla’, you say that’s Gaelic?* Colour: white wine. Nose: I’m falling in love already. Ten years old, a well-behaved wood, and a rather pure distillate, that’s the recipe for a winner in my book. Shall we call this baby ‘the HP 10 of the mainland’? Lovely sunflower oil, williams pear, gooseberries, candlewax, artisan cider, ale, bread, seaweed… What’s not to like?  Mouth: yeeppie! Sure it’s a little on ripe pears and juicy sultanas, so perhaps a tad ‘too easy’, but let's not deny ourselves our joy, this is excellent. Reminds me of those ripe jujubes that they sell in Chinese food markets (no, not next to pangolin meat). So loads of pears, but also vanilla, barley syrup, the said jujubes, a touch of turmeric and ginger… What I’m missing is a little more coastalness at this point, but there, it’s a fine dram. Finish: rather long, sweet, on pears, plums, grass, beer, hay… Comments: it lost a few points in the end, but I’m still relatively in love with this fresh little baby. Rather drink at 12°C, like a white wine, would I say. Ehhh?
SGP:551 - 85 points.

 

 

*Update: the name Flotilla here simply refers to a small fleet of ships/boats, as it is a maritime malt. Thank you Old Pulteney!

 

 

 

Let’s see if the regular 10 is similar…

Old Pulteney 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2019)

Old Pulteney 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2019) Three stars
Yeah 40%, that’s a serious handicap for sure, I should have had this one as #1. I’ve never tried this 10, mind you. Colour: white wine. Nose: no, it’s nice, a little smokier perhaps, closer to barley, flour, husk, grist and stuff, fresh baguette, sourdough, beer (not quite the Oktoberfest though), ink, books… Mouth: well, it’s a little bizarre. I’m dead sure 43% vol. would have worked much better, as this is a little too porridge-y for me, sour, too much on tapioca, polenta, flour… I do enjoy bready flavours in my whiskies, but this time there’s isn’t quite enough body to sustain all that and we get a feeling of stale-iness, if that word exists in Trumpboris language. Nice notes of flower syrups beyond that, mullein, woodruff, elderflower… A shame that the backbone would be virtually non-existent. Finish: short, a tad sour. Tinned fish, sardines… Comments: a missed opportunity I’m sure. It’s all there, all it would need, IMHO, is a few extra-degrees. Is that too much to ask? Still worth a good score, naturally.
SGP:462 - 80 points.

Old Pulteney 16 yo (46%, OB, +/-2019)

Old Pulteney 16 yo (46%, OB, +/-2019) Four stars
There, a proper strength and some high hopes. Colour: gold. Nose: wait, this is something else. Green cigars, as they have in Indonesia, patchouli and mothballs, mushrooms and mosses, lamp oil and bone marrow, tincture of iodine and creosote, watermelon skin, fumes, plaster, sorrel… It’s pretty unconventional and full of character, I have to say I’m really fond of this unusual nose. Forgot to mention a little mustard and manzanilla. I agree, even better news. Mouth: seriously? Caraway and aniseed upfront? Then maize flour and miso? There is a fermentary side to this one, some sake-like notes, not really easy to enjoy, but there’s also a citrusy-hoppy development that just works. The good news is that it’s the latter that wins it. A funny, rather cinematic dram. Finish: long, greener, spicier. Bitterer herbs, leaves, peppers… Comments: good fun to be had with this one, it’s just that its rather a fighter and that you’ll need a few months to empty a bottle. Unless it’s the only bottle you own, naturally. Now I like it that they would go towards character and individuality, and not towards… stupid vanilla. Very good, Inver House.
SGP:472 - 87 points.

Old Pulteney 2006/2019 (46%, OB)

Old Pulteney 2006/2019 (46%, OB) Two stars and a half
This is all first fill bourbon, I believe. It’s ‘traveller’s exclusive’, but indeed, with stupid COVID, I suppose they’ve loosened any such constraints. Colour: light gold. Nose: same as the 16, just a notch leafier an grassier. It’s not that I would like to cut corners and cut short stories even shorter, but indeed these two whiskies are very similar. No wait, this one has a little more oak, more vanilla, more coconut too, and that isn’t good news in my book. I can’t stand obvious vanilla + coconut anymore. How bad is that, doctor? Mouth: yeah, I mean no, planks, sawdust, ginger, white pepper, nutmeg… They wouldn’t even sell this at Ikea, honestly. This is the kind of nightmare the signs of which were already noticeable on the nose. The oak took over, which is a shame because there seems to be some nice bananas and grapefruits somewhere in the background. Finish: long but too oaky. Comments: it’s absolutely fascinating to compare the 16 with this 2006. American oak, best friend and worst enemy of malt whisky.
SGP:361 - 79 points.

The 16 or the Flotilla please, anytime, anyplace.

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

 

October 20, 2020


Whiskyfun

Another Dalmore Trio

I’ve always had strong feelings for Dalmore and even found their craziest marketing stunts disconcertingly charming. I believe it’s a brand that’s got its very own world, pretty much out of touch with reality, a kind of parallel Macallan that, in your tasting glass, can really swing and rock and roll. The very fact that they often make us laugh is far from being the least of their qualities. Let’s drink some…

Dalmore 12 yo ‘Sherry Cask Select’ (43%, OB, 2020)

Dalmore 12 yo ‘Sherry Cask Select’ (43%, OB, 2020) Four stars
A brand new expression that’s admirably old-school and that reminds us all that we should always match ties and handkerchiefs. A matter of education, you understand. Excuse me? But where have you been, this is 1970, good people! Colour: deep amber. Nose: walnuts and teas at first, Darjeeling-Express style, then fresh figs, old books, incense and cinnamon rolls. Very old school indeed, but then again, there isn’t much to enjoy in 2020, don’t you agree? I would imagine someone could have a bottle of this in the drinks cabinet of his rusty old Bentley. New ones are so nouveau-riche… Mouth: fudge, stout, praline, chocolate, cinnamon rolls again, a little tobacco, quite some tea (Darjeeling indeed) and the expected old walnuts. A wee earthy side and even a few mushrooms. Excellent. Finish: 43% works so much better than 40%! Brownies, cinnamon, raisin rolls, tobacco, chocolate, fudge… Comments: don’t we have it good in 1970? And did you hear that the Stones have a new live album? I believe it’s called Get yer ya-ya's out!, so get your stereo – and your crystal decanter - ready. Seriously, this is seriously good.
SGP:641 - 87 points.

Dalmore 29 yo 1991/2020 (49.4%, WhiskySponge, The Patersponge Collection, refill bourbon, 205 bottles)

Dalmore 29 yo 1991/2020 (49.4%, WhiskySponge, The Patersponge Collection, refill bourbon, 205 bottles) Five stars
Several funny characters on this label, as usual, including a moustachioed and thicker Bill Clinton, as it appears. No? Colour: white wine. Nose: this simply reminds us how great a distillate Dalmore is, when no zany woods and/or wines have been in use. We were expecting oranges and indeed it is shock full of oranges and tangerines. I mean, we are just nosing a large basket full of oranges and tangerines, which I find just sublime. I’m reminded of those old black dumpy official bottles, especially the 20 years old. No make-up here, only natural beauty. Mouth: in keeping of the nose, ridden with oranges and tangerines, plus wee touches of mangos. That’s pretty all folks, but wow! Finish: long, pure, with myriads of tinier flavours arriving late. Various honeys, fruity hops, guavas, herbal teas… Comments: it’s true that we rather know the much sherried and/or finished official Dalmores, but this baby reminds us that first and foremost, Dalmore’s a great distillate that’s better al natural, just like all great distillates - and potato crisps. Stupendous fruity purity.
SGP:751 - 93 points.

Dalmore 18 yo 1976 ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (62.3%, The Whisky Connoisseur, 5cl, +/-1994)

Dalmore 18 yo 1976 ‘Auld Lang Syne’ (62.3%, The Whisky Connoisseur, 5cl, +/-1994) Two stars and a half
A wee bottle that I’ve been keeping in some obscure box for ages. I suppose I got it around or just before Y2K. If I remember well, this company was rather doing bottles for collectors who would just never open them anyway. Consequently, the whiskies were often very unlikely, to be honest. Colour: white wine. Nose: I don’t know. Very strong and pretty empty, perhaps a little grassy? This could almost be grain, or high-column rum… With water: grass, hints of coconut water, indeed some orange peel, orange oil… Not too sure this far, it hasn’t quite got the Sponge’s immediate fruity generosity. Mouth (neat): very raw, between kerosene and paint remover. Acetone and hair lacquer (but the cap was not sealed with lacquer, as many are/were). With water: very raw, grassy, on apple peel and bitter beer. Orange leaves rather than fruits, plus a bizarre chalky side (aspirin and plaster). Having said that, and even if it’s very raw, it’s got its charms. Finish: medium, spirity, leafy and grassy. Star fruit. Comments: better than what my note may suggest, but a little hard. Many indie single malts were a bit like this in the old days, pretty grassy and raw.
SGP:461 - 79 points.

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

 

October 19, 2020


Whiskyfun

Six Incredible Ardbegs
(feeling like we’re in the early 2000s)

It was about time we did another proper Ardbeg session, this one as a tribute to Mickey Heads its Distillery manager, who just retired after having spent so much time with whisky freaks from all over the world wearing yellow jumpers with orange trousers, white socks and Geox sandals, purple tweed straight from the airport shop, or even worse, Laphroaig/Lagavulin baseball caps and sweaters.


Circa 2004

Ah Feis Ile a.k.a. the Islay Fashion Week! For all that and a few other things, heartfelt apologies and happy retirement, dear Mickey! Now let’s see what we have… First, honour to whom honour is due…

 

 

 

Ardbeg 19 yo ‘Traigh Bhan Batch 2’ (46,2%, OB, 2020)

Ardbeg 19 yo ‘Traigh Bhan Batch 2’ (46,2%, OB, 2020)
This one’s matured in American oak and Oloroso sherry casks (which could be American oak too, no?) and is said to be pretty smooth. So new Wellies or not new Wellies? Colour: white wine. Nose: new Wellies indeed, but small size. Other than that, fresh almonds and fresh putty, a dollop of liquid tar, then whiffs of old shed, garden pit, kelp and really quite a lot of marzipan. I find it pretty light and gentle for Ardbeg, but well-balanced and rather admirably fresh. Mouth: it’s good that it wouldn’t be too modern (a.k.a. oak-influenced) and that both tar and lemon would play first fiddles, while more salty and coastal elements would chime in after three seconds, such as salted fudge and whelks. Always loved the humble whelks. No huge smoke here, rather cigar ashes, and perhaps touches of peaches, ala Ardmore. Finish: this is where you’re closest to ‘old’ Ardbeg – we’re meaning early 1970s – with this natural rubber, tar, smoke and a feeling of old cough syrup. Awesome finish. Comments: superb post-reopening Ardbeg and proof that they hadn’t changed much to the recipe. Thank you Stuart Thompson (and thanks anyone who’s not decided to dump this superb juice into whacky woods). Now, here’s that seminal question, was the purifier working or not?
SGP:466 - 91 points.

 

 

Ardbeg 18 yo 2001/2020 (54.5%, The Character of Islay for LMDW, The Stories of Wind and Wave, refill bourbon barrel, cask #257, 92 bottles)

Ardbeg 18 yo 2001/2020 (54.5%, The Character of Islay for LMDW, The Stories of Wind and Wave, refill bourbon barrel, cask #257, 92 bottles)
We already tried the Port Ellen in this rather self-restrained new series and found it almost otherworldly. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: pretty similar to the OB at first, only a tad sharper and zestier, more vertical would I say, more mineral as well, more kilny, gristy, with more seaweed as well, new tyres, fresh rubber, seashells, hessian, tarry ropes… In fact I was wrong, it’s rather different, with even less cask influence. Pure Ardbeg. With water: exceptional and more Ardbeg than Ardbeg (no sense at all, S.) Metal polish, shoe polish, tar, old garage, old car… Mouth (neat): holy featherless crow, is this tense and tight! Tar, smoky oysters and salted lemons. Luminous and ‘evident’. With water: what’s brilliant here is that it doesn’t really get any more complex, just deeper and purer at the same time. To the point where the only descriptor you may use is ‘Ardbeg’. I agree, not very useful. Finish: long, superbly tarry, salty, lemony, and a little medicinal as well. Some camphor. Lemon zests and ashes. Comments: there isn’t much to add, except that I have the ravishing feeling of being back in the early 2000s, when all those stunning single casks were coming out.
SGP:467 - 92 points.

 

 

 

We could try an old bottling that we haven’t tasted yet…

Ardbeg 10 yo 1978/1988 (57.8%, The Syndicate, 240 bottles)

Ardbeg 10 yo 1978/1988 (57.8%, The Syndicate, 240 bottles) Four stars and a half
I remember we used to find these vintages lighter and less concise than those from the first half of the 1970s. The official 1978 was even the lame duck within the range, in a way, together with JM’s rather weaker 17 yo at 40%. Colour: white wine. Nose: much more metallic and kind of ‘dirty’, or at least muddy, with whiffs of vase water and fruit peelings, lime juice… A little mint. That’s a little strange I have to say. With water: no changes I’m afraid. Perhaps more paraffin and brake liquid. Mouth (neat): what wasn’t in the nose lies on the palate, which is extremely ashy, ultra-dry, smoky, full of green walnuts, shoe polish, embrocations, then salt and anchovies. With water: chewing hessian and ashes, almond oil, anchovies, and perhaps a little cardboard. Not sure it’s a great swimmer. Finish: medium, rather on ashy marzipan and bits of tinned sardines. Comments: extremely good but I think this bottle was in a lesser form than the one our dear colleague Angus tasted earlier in the year (WF 93).
SGP:365 - 88 points.

Ardbeg 20 yo 2000/2020 (57.2%, The Whisky Show, bourbon barrel, cask #1087, 247 bottles)

Ardbeg 20 yo 2000/2020 (57.2%, The Whisky Show, bourbon barrel, cask #1087, 247 bottles) Five stars
Some funny stuff happening with the label. When will they be doing microchips and biolabels next year? Colour: light gold. Nose: this one’s clearly got more fresh oak, with notes of curry, ginger, mangos and vanilla (but, hurray, no coconut!), which leads to a rather softer Ardbegness, some cakes, marmalade, cough medicine, fruit paste (quince)… With water: café latte coming out, typically well-charred freshish oak. Bandages and oysters in the background, so all remains very fine. Mouth (neat): same feeling, the wood had much more influence this time, with more mangos again, quinces, ginger, Thai basil and coriander, thin mints, all that over some classic ashy and tarry Ardbegness. Rather a gentle monster. With water: more vanilla and cakes. Scones, pancake syrup, fudge… Finish: rather long, relatively sweet and ‘coated’ with sweet oak. Tangerine marmalade. Comments: superb, no doubt. A modern, well-engineered version of Ardbeg. Feels re-racked into very active American oak at some point, but I could be totally wrong. High-class, nonetheless.
SGP:557 - 90 points.

Ardbeg 28 yo (50.1%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, 251 bottles, 2020)

Ardbeg 28 yo (50.1%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, 251 bottles, 2020) Five stars
This one’s commemorating ‘the virtual Feis Ile of 2020’. Having said that, I’ve often noticed that given the amounts of whiskies consumed, Feis Ile’s always been pretty virtual to quite some friends. What’s more, I find it charming that they would do some vintageless bottling – I suppose this is ‘Laphroaig-made Ardbeg’ from the early 1990s, when Ian Henderson’s team used to do a few runs a year to keep the equipment at Ardbeg fit. Colour: white wine. Nose: typical of those years, rather more on oils (sunflower, grape pips) and all kinds of waxes. Paraffin oil, brake fluid, concrete, chalk, touches of mezcal (typical too), olives, smoked fish, seashells… With water: gears towards paraffin and embrocations. Pencil eraser, menthol, Vicks’ best. Mouth (neat): amazing what good age does to any whisky. Not that the twenties were young, but this is different. After all, remember malt whisky is barley plus water plus oak plus time, and that without time it’s vodka. Ahem. Anyway, brilliant Ardbeg once again, at a perfect age. Rather more on chalk, wax and lemons, then brine and clams. Great balance. With water: wood smoke, toffee, buttered tea, praline, smoky nougat or something… Finish: rather long, relatively gentler, with echoes of Jamaican rum this time. Perfect menthol too, also citron and tangerine liqueurs. The aftertaste is extremely smoky and ashy – as we sometimes say, you just licked the ashtray. Comments: amazing to see how these batches reach the 30-yo mark, while they were sometimes a little wobbly when younger. Great job, dear Mr Henderson!
SGP:457 - 92 points.

Ardbeg 25 yo 1992/2018 (50.5%, Douglas Laing 70th Anniversary, Xtra Old Particular Platinum, refill hogshead, cask #DL 12290, 251 bottles)

Ardbeg 25 yo 1992/2018 (50.5%, Douglas Laing 70th Anniversary, Xtra Old Particular Platinum, refill hogshead, cask #DL 12290, 251 bottles) Five stars
I agree we’re a little late with this baby, but what’s next after ‘XOP Platinum’? What will they do when they find a forgotten cask of Stromness or Malt Mill? Colour: white wine. Nose: possibly the sharpest of them all, the briniest for sure, as this is almost a blend of pure seawater and lemon juice. Plus damp crushed chalk, pickled gherkins, artisan cachaça and bone-dry petroly riesling. That I adore these kinds of profiles is an understatement. With water: we’re now deep in Islay mud, grist, burnt peat, crushed oyster shells, beach sand and Sylvaner grappa. And limoncello. Mouth (neat): : I think we have to thank Iain Henderson once again. Notes of heather honey and great mead arising, which is unusual in Ardbeg. The rest is stellar, lemon, chalk, seawater, smoked mussels, pink pepper… We’re flying high. With water: some surprising roundish, almost sugary notes (syrup) but all the rest is perfect. In fact, this is almost smoked limoncello. Who’s going to try to make that, ragazzi? Finish: long, ashier and drier as almost always, with a perfect waxy background and more lemon, perhaps rhubarb juice, some tar, and this pretty common creosote-y feel in the aftertaste. Comments: happy Anniversary Douglas Laing! Yes I know I’m two years late.
SGP:557 - 92 points.

No, we shall not have any baby Ardbeg finished in cheapish wine-treated re-scratched hoggies.

(Thanks you Angus and Tim - and Mickey!)

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

 

October 18, 2020


Whiskyfun

Rums as they came in

Rum’s a buoyant category, with a lot of new ones and even the jerky makers starting to do better ones. Let’s see what we have in the ‘new arrivals box’….

W.I.R.D. 33 yo 1986/2020 (58.8%, Silver Seal, Barbados)

W.I.R.D. 33 yo 1986/2020 (58.8%, Silver Seal, Barbados) Five stars
Wow, a thirty-three year old Black Rock! This is absolutely crazy. Colour: light gold – which in itself is surprising. European aging I suppose. Nose: the freshness is pretty incredible. I would mention soft nougat, bicycle inner tube, overripe pineapple and banana, some putty, some fresh mint, unexpected touches of honey-glazed ham, certainly some cane juice, wee touches of crushed anchovies and sardines, almond paste, then various teas, Assam, ho-chicha (roasted tea)… The freshness is really very impressive. Were they keeping the cask on Orkney? The 58% don’t even feel. With water: the brine coming out more. Mussels/oysters and smoked sausages, works as well as Robert Plant with Alison Krauss (not sure about that one, S.). Mouth (neat): hot and absolutely superb. In-your-face liquorice, cane juice, smoky coffee, brine, tar, toffee, salt, mocha… I find this extremely impressive indeed, totally not as shaky as some other oldies may get, so firm, assertive, and full. A little burnt caramel, which works very well in this context. Muscovado sugar. Yeah. With water: holy featherless crow, it keeps talking to us. Oranges and oysters, some Ardbeggy ashes, seaweed… Finish: long, very salty. Liquorice-y aftertaste. Comments: probably a rather infuriating bottle, that’s all I’ll say. Mi piacere.
SGP:563 - 91 points.

We might be going too fast…

Travellers 13 yo 2007/2020 (57.1%, Watt Rum, Belize, bourbon barrel, 326 bottles)

Travellers 13 yo 2007/2020 (57.1%, Watt Rum, Belize, bourbon barrel, 326 bottles) Four stars
We believe the good people behind Watt Rum are also behind Watt Whisky. Just saying. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s rather a miracle that this little coconutty rum would remain standing after the crazy old Bajan. The structure is lighter, the distillate thinner, but on the other hand there’s a delicate vanilla and sugar-cane combination, with some floral scents, ylang-ylang, heather, also more coconut, white chocolate… With water: similar, a little leafier, with more hay and fruit peels, banana skin, crushed sugarcane… Mouth (neat): probably one of the best within this lighter style. Chocolate, nougat, honey, rose jelly, popcorn, waffles, pancake sauce… With water: sugarcane syrup, praline and popcorn, roasted peanuts… Finish: medium, clean, honeyed. Sugarcane and maple syrups. Comments: a charming rum, not quite in the same league as the heavier Jamaicans or Guyanese, or indeed Bajan, but charming indeed. Good cask.
SGP:541 - 85 points.

Neisson ‘Bio Profil 107’ (53%, OB, Martinique, 2020)

Neisson ‘Bio Profil 107’ (53%, OB, Martinique, 2020) Two stars
This is an ‘ambré’ agricole, meaning that it only spent a few months in wood. The figure ‘107’ refers to a way of toasting the casks, but in true Whiskyfun fashion, we shan’t care. We do distillates, we don’t do wood. Bio means organic. Colour: white wine. Nose: I totally adore Neisson, but this is not for me. Too much butterscotch and vanilla. With water: not quite. Some rubber coming out, which may work well with shy woods, but just clashes with heady vanilla. Mouth (neat): it’s very good at first because the distillate is very good, and even some of the spices are rather lovely (Thai basil, anyone?) but there’s way too much buttered popcorn for me. I even find it rather cloying. With water: a little better, but that’s all thanks to the spirit. Earth, roots… The cakes and vanilla are unnecessary. Better white, as Trump would say (cockwomble alert!) Finish: rather long but too much on popcorn and nougat. Comments: I’m almost glad I could find a Neisson that I didn’t really care for. Proof that I’m not biased ;-).
SGP:631 - 76 points.

We’re going down, we need to do something!

 

 

 

Enmore 25 yo 1994/2020 (51%, The Wild Parrot for LMDW, Guyana)

Enmore 25 yo 1994/2020 (51%, The Wild Parrot for LMDW, Guyana)
This baby was distilled at Diamond in Georgetown. According to the colour, it’s been matured in the tropics. Colour: coffee with red hues. Nose: exactly as expected, that is to say on liquorice, coffee and menthol, with tinier, more delicate floral notes arising, lilies, camphor, plasticine, also molasses, rotting wood, black tea, leather polish… With water: amazing, on liquorice and verbena, wormwood, very old Port, black raisins, some mentholy old cognac… Something reminds of the best Armenian brandies, mind you. This is such a small planet! Mouth (neat): extremely thick and concentrated, this is almost a blend of essential oils with fruit liqueurs. Violets (parfait amour) and heavy liquorice. Huge. With water: earth, sweet mushrooms, liquorice allsorts, blackberry jam, cassis, malbec… Finish: long, with this lovely menthol that always works in any finishes. Crème de menthe. Comments: not a lazy old Demerara. The relatively low strength does not hint at tropical aging, but the taste does. Got any clues?
SGP:472 - 89 points.

 

 

Ready? Ready!...

 

 

Clarendon 36 yo 1984/2020 (74.8%, Plantation Extreme for LMDW, Jamaica, 348 bottles)

Clarendon 36 yo 1984/2020 (74.8%, Plantation Extreme for LMDW, Jamaica, 348 bottles)
Clarendon means Monymusk and 74.8% means attempted murder. Let me call my trusty lawyer… Colour: office coffee. Nose: varnish, nail polish remover, bourbon, acetone, black olives, murder. Why the hell do I love this? I think I need to call a shrink. With water: very high esters for sure (400?) so olives, glue, bakelite, new iPhone (not that very silly 12 that no one needs mind you), prunes, hoisin sauce… I think this is a beauty. A total brute but indeed, a beauty. I suppose no silly ‘dosage’ has been added, but let’s see…  Mouth (neat – am I not silly?): no, we’re beyond any limits. Walnut stain and rust inhibitor. NO sweetness whatsoever. With water: it would remain extremely dry and estery even at 40%, bone-dry, petroly, varnishy, very difficult at times, very acetic, with an extreme tannicity… and yet I’m tremendously (;-)) fond of this profile. I suppose it’s like these guys who just can’t quit bungee jumping or smoking unfiltered cigarettes. Some extremely delicate touches of raspberries and strawberries beneath all this panzer-like demonstration, well we know it’s a matter of funny molecules. Same with the heaviest peaters in whisky. Finish: quasi eternal and bone-dry. Over-infused thyme tea. Comments: total extreme fun. Well done Plantation, this was quite a statement. Hell, Donald-Trump and putrefaction, life’s way too short anyway! What’s more, I’m dead sure this kills COVID better than Trump’s Remdesivir and Chloroquine.
SGP:173 - 90 points.

 

 

 

End-of-session

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

 

October 17, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Brackla, Glenturret
& Caol Ila - with Aperitifs
Another mixed bag this week. Including the first drams from the Watts of Campbeltown (hurray!) and some rather tasty looking new Caol Ilas (double-hurray!). I know, a naff introduction.

 

Blended Malt 19 yo 2001/2020 (44.9%, Watt Whisky, sherry butt, 630 bottles)

Blended Malt 19 yo 2001/2020 (44.9%, Watt Whisky, sherry butt, 630 bottles)
I’m extremely happy to see Kate and Mark doing their own thing, the whisky world needs more anti-nonsense, pro-fun people. Colour: amber. Nose: a style of sherry I really enjoy, that is to say lean, clean and rather leafy and mineral. Given time to open it develops some nutty aromas, praline, milk chocolate and rolling tobacco while also retaining these highly pleasurable mulchy, earthy tones. Mouth: lovely arrival, full, soft, darkly fruity sherry. Lots of sultanas, fig jam, raisins, tobacco and some slightly mushroomy vibes. Perhaps a wee dollop of treacle as well, but globally it remains elegantly drying. Finish: good length, densely earthy, getting richer and more towards figs, tobacco, dunnage and walnuts. Comments: If you’d handed me this blind and said an old Glendronach 15yo from the 1990s I’m not sure I’d have blinked even once. Superbly fresh, clean and vivid sherry with an old school accent. Recommended!
SGP: 561 - 88 points.

 

 

Blended Scotch Whisky 38 yo 1980/2020 (48.6%, C Dully Selection, cask #23, sherry hogshead, 230 bottles)

Blended Scotch Whisky 38 yo 1980/2020 (48.6%, C Dully Selection, cask #23, sherry hogshead, 230 bottles)
This is one of these ex-Edrington ‘blended whisky’ casks that rarely seem to taste like actual blends… Colour: brownish amber. Nose: deep, raisiny and rather luscious with these thick notes of tobacco, walnut oil, treacle and various dark fruit jams and chutneys. Evolves along these rather thick, earthy lines with quite a bit of hessian and leather. Pretty superb! Mouth: nice arrival, all on rancio. treacle, cloves, spiced fig jam, mulling spices and walnut liqueur. If you like old school sherry then this will tickle your boat no doubt. There’s a thickness of texture and an earthiness that I find extremely satisfying. Finish: medium with figs, sultanas, more tobacco, leaf mulch, hessian and rancio. Comments: I couldn’t detect one iota of grain whisky in this. Make of that what you will. Either way, this is a rather simple but direct and excellent old school sherried dram. No doubt it will be pestering a few tumblers this Winter.
SGP: 661 - 89 points.

 

 

Royal Brackla 12 yo ‘Batch 1’ (47.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1472 bottles)

Royal Brackla 12 yo ‘Batch 1’ (47.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1472 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh, youthful and almost hyper-natural with these immediate notes of ripe green apples and pears. Also gooseberry, cut grass, sunflower oil, lemon rind… entirely the wrong time of year to be drinking such a whisky as it almost makes you look up and expect to see spring sunshine out of the window. Some rather dry and crisp cereals emerge in time. Mouth: a little more basic than the nose. Cooking oils, butter, oatcakes, water biscuits, plain breakfast cereals, freshly made porridge and a single barley sugar. Some green and grassy notes such as parsley persevere. Finish: medium, gently drying, lightly peppery, more cereals, sunflower oil and a wee bit of natural sweet maltiness. Comments: The nose was lovely, but I wonder if this isn’t rather blending backbone whisky. Now, I suspect it probably makes a very fine highball with this rather natural and pure style.
SGP: 451 - 81 points.

 

 

Royal Brackla 2011/2018 (68%, Whisky Illuminati ‘Solaria Series’, cask #900077, 1st fill sherry butt, 150 bottles)

Royal Brackla 2011/2018 (68%, Whisky Illuminati ‘Solaria Series’, cask #900077, 1st fill sherry butt, 150 bottles)
This series seems to all have been filled at super high strength, hence such frightening ABVs in their youth. However, so far the sibling bottlings have been pretty good and no doubt such high strengths will be an asset as they age further. Colour: orangey amber. Nose: surprisingly light and citrusy at first nosing. Lots of orange peel and marmalades. Some kumquat, orange juice, toffee apple and barley sugar. Very nice. With water: gets nicely bready and autolytic now with notes of oatcakes, pollen, sweet cereals and even some fresh linens. Surprisingly approachable. Mouth: you do feel the alcohol and there is an initial impression that it’s masking quite a lot. Although there’s some nice notes of orgeat syrup, Battenberg cake and cherry cola. Hints of lychee, marzipan and rose water too. Quite floral, although the alcohol may well be emphasising the higher notes. With water: bigger and fatter now, notes of dark fruits in muesli, flapjack, sultana, orange cocktail bitters and mulling spices. Plain old chocolate orange as well. Finish: long and doubling down on these chocolate and orange notes with some wee glimmers of those earlier bready notes. Comments: I like this one quite a bit, you get a sense of the Brackla distillate in balance with the sherry.
SGP: 651 - 85 points.

 

 

Glenturret 12 yo 2006/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing Old Particular, refill sherry hogshead, 389 bottles)

Glenturret 12 yo 2006/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing Old Particular, refill sherry hogshead, 389 bottles)
I always feel nervously excited when trying Glenturret, it can just go in absolutely any direction… Colour: amber. Nose: a rather hot and modern style of sherry with wood embers, paprika, cherry stones and things like cask-aged porter and roast walnuts. Punchy and rather vivid, but in a good way. Also some chilli-infused dark chocolate, leather and game meats. Mouth: I think that in this instance the Glenturret itself is somewhat hidden by this big, weighty cloak of sherry. Lots of wood spices, dark fruit chutneys, ointments, graphite oil, black pepper, soot, earthy black teas and mineral oil. It’s clean but also rather on the woody and spicy side. Finish: medium, slightly tarry, lots of more black pepper, cola syrup, ointments and bitter herbal extracts. Comments: Technically pretty good I think, you just have to enjoy this rather hot and powerful style of sherry. I don’t think the poor Glenturret distillate survived (who said ‘phew!’ ??)
SGP: 572 - 84 points.

 

 

Glenturret 28 yo 1987/2016 (50.4%, Signatory Cask Strength Collection, cask #372, hogshead, 149 bottles)

Glenturret 28 yo 1987/2016 (50.4%, Signatory Cask Strength Collection, cask #372, hogshead, 149 bottles)
These batches of casks by Signatory seem to provoke some division amongst whisky folk. However, I have to admit I usually really enjoy them. Colour: gold. Nose: yup, acrylic, bubblegum, ‘fruity’ waxes, new leather, white pepper, mineral oil and even some sort of sweetened olive oil. A very specific and pretty old style profile which Glenturret seems to exude when on form. With water: fresher, chalkier, more clean starchy fabrics, more medicines and a little pine resin. Mouth: a tad more unlikely perhaps, some notes of plasticine, clay, asparagus, honey roasted parsnip, juicy fruit chewing gum, aniseed, bouillon broth, canvass and overall a little more of this ‘chemical’ side of things. With water: again this goes drier with water and more towards fabrics, linens, camphor, hessian, putty, lemon oils, herbal throat medicines and vapour rubs. Still rather persistently waxy and with this chemically accented fruitiness. Finish: medium, with plenty plastic, clay, plasticine, red chilli, medicines, mineral oil and more umami and vegetal broths. Comments: These Glenturrets are just such funny, often whacky distillates. However, despite the fact they are clearly divisive and unusual, I cannot help but be charmed by them when they possess this style. Better this eccentricity than boring, oak-doped uniformity I say. The kind of bottle you can have a lot of fun with while dramming with friends - you know, socialising, remember that…? Anyway, please take my score with a pinch of salt.
SGP: 652 - 86 points.

 

 

Let’s have a wee run of Caol Ila and then call this a session.

 

 

Caol Ila 9 yo 2011/2020 (58.5%, C Dully Selection, cask #101, 1st fill barrel, 262 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2011/2020 (58.5%, C Dully Selection, cask #101, 1st fill barrel, 262 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: pure and hyper-fresh young Caol Ila, full of seawater, coastal flowers, lemon peel, grapefruit, lime juice and fresh linens with many wispy notes of pure peat smoke in the background. Also crushed seashells, dry chalky medicines, lemon cough drops and some savoury super salty pasta water. I just love this nose. With water: pure seawater, rockpools, wet seaweed, soy sauce and briny olives. Mouth: perfectly concise with the nose, except here the peat smoke is deeper and more raw and direct. Rather like you’re in direct communication with working kiln. There’s also charred shellfish, black olives in pickling juices, malt vinegar and tarry rope. Powerful but also balanced and wonderfully pure. With water: perfection now! Thick and wonderfully textural in the mouth, like tar mixed with petrol! Also seawater, fresh herbs, top quality olive oil, sandalwood and bonfire embers. Finish: long, briny, lots of umami paste, sardines in oil, black olive tapenade, smoked heather beers and again with this wonderfully petrolic, mineral and seawater fusion. Comments: I feel like I’m running out of things to say about Caol Ila after all these years. It’s just utterly impeccable spirit. Terrific selection by those cunning Swiss!
SGP: 367 - 90 points. 

 

 

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2020 (57.4%, Watt Whisky, hogshead, 303 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2009/2020 (57.4%, Watt Whisky, hogshead, 303 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: a slightly lighter and breezier style. Lots of fresh sea air, crab sticks, wet beach pebbles, gorse, starched linens, bath salts and things like chalk, putty and antiseptic on gauze. Pristine, pure, almost irritatingly consistent Caol Ila. With water: deeper and sootier, more things like rope, puffer smoke, anchovies and a little kelp. Mouth: lemon juice, sheep wool oils, mineral oil, pink sea salt and kippers drizzled in brine and lemon juice. Oysters, ink, seawater… you get the picture. It’s basically one of these rather narrow Caol Ilas that displays an extremely pure and chiselled profile focussed on coastal and seashore aspects but with a quieter peat smoke influence. If I put on my ‘Serge Valentin moustache’ for a moment I’d probably say ‘millimetric!’. With water: creosote, black pepper, smoked teas with lemon, pasta water, smoked herbs and more medical things like gauze and TCP. Finish: long, more powerfully smoky, tarry, salty, peppery and with iodine and pure seawater again. Comments: This one rewards water with a little more complexity I think. Yet another superb and very pure Caol Ila, I like the unabashed ‘coastalness’ on display here.
SGP: 356 - 88 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 11 yo 2008/2020 (59.7%, The Single Cask, cask #318686, hogshead, 137 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2008/2020 (59.7%, The Single Cask, cask #318686, hogshead, 137 bottles)
Caol Ila is proof that you can produce enough whisky that your cask numbers run to the length of mobile phone numbers and still achieve amazing quality… Colour: lovely, a kind of mentholated, honeyed brininess with smoked olive oil, natural tar extract and wonderfully fragrant notes of heather flowers, gorse, sandalwood and smoked dark ales. This one brims with a sense of sweetness and an overall rather syrupy profile. With water: more salty, richly umami, soy sauce, ramen broth, herbal mouthwash, smoked teas. Superb! Mouth: wonderfully gentle and textural on arrival. Smoked mead, olive oil, tar, embrocations, oily peat, hessian and vapour rubs. Blind you’d probably say this was a few years older than 11. With water: just wonderful! Superbly oily, fatty peat, smoked meats, herbal medicines, tar, hessian, freshly kilned malt, brine, salt and vinegar crisps… great stuff! Finish: long, mentholated again with eucalyptus bark, fennel, hessian, ointments and some cured meats. Still this wonderful sense of texture and weight. Comments: This must have been a pretty awesome cask as you really feel it has added something ‘invisibly’ while retaining the full brilliance of the distillate. What is it they say about Caol Ila and independent bottling…
SGP: 566 - 90 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 28 yo 1990/2019 (48%, WhiskyNerds, cask #13129, refill oloroso, 192 bottles)

Caol Ila 28 yo 1990/2019 (48%, WhiskyNerds, cask #13129, refill oloroso, 192 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: you do indeed get the sense there has been some sherry afoot here. Lots of dense, leathery notes of camphor, tar, smoked olive oil, preserved lemons, black olives and a wee dash of seawater. While there’s also these herbal notes in addition and many coastal fragrances like sandalwood, white flowers and gorse. Beautiful! Mouth: this is starting to approach the same profile as these early 1980s casks. Only here I feel the sherry has added something deeper and more leathery and fatty. Smoky bacon, tarry notes, ointment, old rope, hessian, camphor, putty and various cured meats. An impressive and captivating level of complexity I would say. Finish: long, herbal, sooty, tarry, fragrantly coastal and with these wonderful fading medicinal qualities. Comments: a great cask captured at a perfect age. It’s a shame we don’t see more of these early 90s vintages from Caol Ila, I think they’re really becoming terrific.
SPG: 465 - 91 points.

 

 

Thanks to Dirk and Christian.

 

 

 

 

October 16, 2020


Whiskyfun

Orwell’s favourite

Well, not too sure I’m correct, as it seems that the distillery was built way after the famous writer had sojourned on the island and written 1984. I’m joking, of course, it had been dismantled and was only rebuilt in 1963. Anyway, yet another stoopid introduction it seems, on to the whiskies…

Jura ‘Winter Edition’ (40%, OB, 2020)

Jura ‘Winter Edition’ (40%, OB, 2020) Three stars
This NAS is brand new, and was finished in sherry. Given the strength, this should be pretty easy… Colour: gold. Nose: pretty nice, with some sunflower oil, touches of sawdust, fresh walnuts (as opposed to the oloroso-y old ones), white asparagus, shea butter, a touch of mint syrup… No, seriously, it's a fine, rather fresh nose, rather gentler than your average Jura. No feinty notes whatsoever. Mouth: a little weak and thin perhaps, that’s the low strength, but there’s good fudge and toffee. A bit akin to café latte, but incomparably better than any café lattes. Trying to write like JM – no worries, my dear wife is watching me day and night and may (well might, well she won’t) read this. So I’ll never tell you about that Outer-Mongolian baroness who, while I had been invited to host a joint Sazerac-Bacardi tasting session in Ulan-Bator and teach advanced throat singing to the locals – mostly girls, had… Oh come on! Finish: shortish but fine, pleasantly malty, with the expected touches of cardboard in the aftertaste. Comments: perfectly fine, perhaps worthy of some extra-3%?..
SGP:341 - 80 points.

Jura 18 yo (44%, OB, +/-2019)

Jura 18 yo (44%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars
Imagine I haven’t tried the 18 since… Oh my, 2007! But Jura was weak back then, really. Some nasty bottlings, not all of them, but there. Now this newer expression was finished in some Bordeaux red, most sadly (not STR), but you never know, this little juice may have escaped the mighty cabernety army. Which, by the way, I just love – In my wine glass. Colour: golden amber. Nose: some earth, peonies, blood oranges marmalade, heather honey, candied cherries, leather and ginger, more earth, wallflowers, pecan pie… I have to say this is a fine, rather rich and yet pretty elegant nose. But don’t we all know that silly wine finishings usually rather fail… on the palate? Mouth: nah, they know what they’re doing. This is not my preferred style at all, and we’re rather finding more café latte plus these dusty and honeyed sides (both at the same time), but otherwise except a drying cardboard and coffee combo in the back, this would rather kind of work, relatively. Well no, I’m having trouble liking it a lot, honestly. Finish: medium, dry and a little burnt and bitter. Burnt molasses, heavy cinnamon, some sour cardboard in the aftertaste. Comments: love the distillery, the people, the master blender, the settings and some of their whiskies, but frankly, I find this one rather too difficult. Tough love.
SGP:462 - 75 points.

Perhaps an indie…

Jura 29 yo 1991/2020 (52%, WhiskySponge, Patersponge Collection, refill barrel, 152 bottles)

Jura 29 yo 1991/2020 (52%, WhiskySponge, Patersponge Collection, refill barrel, 152 bottles) Five stars
A load of fun around this bottling, even if some of the jokes are relatively private. I’m sure at least 152 people will have got it all. Colour: gold. Nose: Jura in its most naked glory, at times a little hesitant, but very complex and gathering both herbal/earthy and spicy/waxy aromas. I’m finding quite a lot of resinous woods (thuja, cedar…), a lot of hay and chamomile tea, and some beautiful notes of faded wisteria and orange blossom. Whiffs of turon, mint-flavoured nougat (try that) and balsa wood. Complex. With water: oak oils, fresh bark, liquorice wood, fresh hazelwood… Mouth (neat): pretty oaky. Wood and mint, wax, cedarwood (cigar wrapping, those small Romeos I remember) and herbal teas. Some resinous honey, honeydew, chestnut… A lot of liquorice wood too. Very good, just bordering oakiness at times. Branches and stems. With water: careful! A green tannicity coming out, leaves, saps… Finish: long, really pretty much on green tea and fresh woods. Cinnamon mints, mint drops. Comments: at the border indeed. As a tea lover, this doesn’t bother me at all, but if you prefer Fanta, be careful. Other than that, brilliant old Jura, very well selected by M. Patersponge.
SGP:372 - 90 points.

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

 

October 15, 2020


Whiskyfun

Unusual Benriach

We’ve got two very lovely new old Benriachs on the table today, but we need a young little aperitif first…

Benriach 10 yo 2008/2018 (52%, Asta Morris, Foursquare cask finish, cask #AM 122, 289 bottles)

Benriach 10 yo 2008/2018 (52%, Asta Morris, Foursquare cask finish, cask #AM 122, 289 bottles) Four stars
There are a few things that you can do with an empty barrel of Foursquare rum, namely a rainwater receiver for the garden, some piece of furniture for the lounge (which will make your partner in life very happy), or a finishing vessel for whisky. It seems that they went for the third option at AM (not Aston Martin). Colour: light gold. Nose: all on white, yellow and green fruits, which is pretty much young-Benriach. Green apples, white currants, yellow peaches, gooseberries, mulberries, greengages, kiwis, rhubarb… all that. I wouldn’t shout ‘Foursquare!’ this far. With water: and pears and melons! Lovely fruit salad, very ‘young Benriach. Mouth (neat): typical acidulated arrival, totally on the same yellow, white and green fruits, just with a little more barley syrup and a touch of vanilla. Perhaps a few notes of sugarcane, but I’m sometimes finding these even in whiskies that have not been finished in rum, so, not sure. I find it good. With water: same, still pretty zesty. Ah, yes, forgot to mention lemon. Finish: medium, on se same flavours. Fresh and fruity aftertaste. A little muscovado sugar ‘perhaps’. Comments: really a lovely drop, flawless. You may now build an armchair for the whisky cellar ;-).
SGP:641 - 86 points.

 

 

 

Benriach ‘The Thirty’ (46%, OB, Four Cask Matured, 2020)

Benriach ‘The Thirty’ (46%, OB, Four Cask Matured, 2020)
More woodwork and oenology, this time with some sherry, bourbon, virgin oak and ‘Douro Valley Port’ (but do they make Port anywhere else?) The ‘smoke level’ is said to be ‘complex’. Could be that they used some of their peated batches from the Seagram’s era, we’ll see… Colour: full gold. Nose: indeed this is really very complex right from the start, with notes of old copper (kettle) and many herbal teas, verbena, wormwood… There’s a little vegetal tar (fir), some camphor for sure, bitter almonds oil, fresh putty and paint, then a wee meaty side, bordering umami. No wait we said we’d now use the word osmazôme instead. What’s sure is that this is rather different from the regular older Benriachs, which usually rather burst with fresh fruits. Mouth: I think I’ve never quite tasted something like this, once again we’re far from the ‘usual’ Benriach, and rather on a kind of blend with some old amontillado, walnut wine, smoked meats and ham (Iberico), tobacco, game, bitter oranges (lots), artichokes, brown sugar, plus drops of Worcester sauce. A wee vinegary side too (Bull Dog sauce). I think I seem to remember a Karuizawa that was a bit like this strange Benriach. Finish: long, all on tobacco, ham, metal and walnuts. Some kind of bitter and sour sauce in the aftertaste. Comments: this one’s extremely unusual, hard to compare and even to score. A bit surrealistic, perhaps? Or historical? My score don’t mean a thing here, either you’ll hate this one or you’ll love it.
SGP:473 - 85 points.

 

 

 

 

 

Benriach 38 yo 1981/2020 (46.6%, OB, for The Nectar and La Maison du Whisky, bourbon barrel (phew), cask #522,  168 bottles)

Benriach 38 yo 1981/2020 (46.6%, OB, for The Nectar and La Maison du Whisky, bourbon barrel (phew), cask #522,  168 bottles)
This old glory is a peated Benriach, made when several distilleries on the mainland were trying to produce some ‘Islay’ for the blends, especially Seagram’s distilleries (Strathisla…). Colour: full gold. Nose: hold on, this is something. Not ‘a peater’ (in the sense that Caol Ila 1981 would be a peater), but these camphory notes are just out of this world, since they would lead us to myriads of tinier empyreumatical and pine-y touches, such as putty once again, oil paint as well, triple-sec, pinesap, a pack of menthol cigarettes, pine needles, carbolineum, new linoleum while we’re at it (remember?), bakelite, new LP (Van Halen, and why not?)… And just fresh thyme and mint leaves. Oh and honeydew. Masterful job here, unless the palate is a wreck… Mouth: of course it’s not. We’re finding a few unlikely bitterish notes that remind us of the Thirty, but all the rest is impeccable and very complex. Many herbs, saps, citrus, oils, roasted nuts, small berries… I’m particularly reminded of my favourite within the liquorice allsorts, the wee square one with a layer of some kind of lemon sugar paste sneaked between two layers of soft liquorice. Remember, all sorts love allsorts and I love this Benriach! Finish: medium, well on liquorice allsorts and various herbal liqueurs, first Chartreuse then all the others. Verveine du Velay (verbena liqueur). A little fir honeydew and mead in the aftertaste. Rather roots, bitter gentian in the aftertaste. Comments: clearly not a peat monster but I’m very fond of this old Benriach that’s almost as singular as the strange Thirty, but much better balanced. And almost refreshing.
SGP:463 - 91 points.

 

 

 

(Merci Lucero)

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


October 2020 - part 1 <--- October 2020 - part 2 ---> Current entries


 

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ardbeg 19 yo ‘Traigh Bhan Batch 2’ (46,2%, OB, 2020) 

Ardbeg 18 yo 2001/2020 (54.5%, The Character of Islay for LMDW, The Stories of Wind and Wave, refill bourbon barrel, cask #257, 92 bottles)

Ardbeg 28 yo (50.1%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, 251 bottles, 2020)

Ardbeg 25 yo 1992/2018 (50.5%, Douglas Laing 70th Anniversary, Xtra Old Particular Platinum, refill hogshead, cask #DL 12290, 251 bottles)

Ardbeg 20 yo 2000/2020 (57.2%, The Whisky Show, bourbon barrel, cask #1087, 247 bottles)

Benriach 38 yo 1981/2020 (46.6%, OB, for The Nectar and La Maison du Whisky, bourbon barrel (phew), cask #522,  168 bottles) 

Bruichladdich 14 yo 2006/2020 (54.3%, Maltbarn, for Whisky & Words, sherry cask, 152 bottles)

Bruichladdich 36 yo 1966/2002 'Legacy I' (40.6%, OB, 1500 bottles)

Dalmore 29 yo 1991/2020 (49.4%, WhiskySponge, The Patersponge Collection, refill bourbon, 205 bottles)

Jura 29 yo 1991/2020 (52%, WhiskySponge, Patersponge Collection, refill barrel, 152 bottles)

Lochindaal 10 yo 2009 (63%, Dramfool, bourbon barrel, 234 bottles, +/-2020) 

Lochindaal 2009/2016 (46%, High Spirits, 115 bottles)

Secret Highland 31 yo 1987/2019 (50.4%, The Whisky Blues, Taiwan, hogshead, cask #23, 79 bottles)

Karuizawa 1999/2018 (58.8%, Artist #10, LMDW, sherry, cask #872, 313 bottles)

Shizuoaka 2019/2020 (61.7%, OB, cask sample, octave, cask #2019-528) 

Clarendon 36 yo 1984/2020 (74.8%, Plantation Extreme for LMDW, Jamaica, 348 bottles)

W.I.R.D. 33 yo 1986/2020 (58.8%, Silver Seal, Barbados)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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