Whiskyfun
Home
(Current entries)

Facebook Twitter Logo



Whisky Tasting

 
 
 

 

 

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

       

October 2021 - part 1 <--- October 2021 - part 2 ---> November 2021 - part 1

 

October 31, 2021


Whiskyfun

A few French brandies once more

Louis-Philippe
Naturally, that would be cognacs and armagnacs, this time indistinctively (for more fun).

Louis-Phillipe, last king of France (1773-1850) ->

 

Baron de Sigognac 'Grand XO Platinum' (40%, OB, armagnac, +/-2020)

Baron de Sigognac 'Grand XO Platinum' (40%, OB, armagnac, +/-2020) Four stars
A rather large brand. Both the word 'Platinum' and the low strength are a little scary, but as we sometimes say, let's keep an open mind. What's more, these armagnacs are very fairly priced. I would add that within French literature, the Baron de Sigognac is a kind of Don Quixote. Colour: light gold. Nose: it is a very aromatic one, with lovely whiffs of williams pears, sultanas, dates, with notes of chamomile and a wee bag of liquorice allsorts. I'm also reminded of both some gewurzes and viogniers. What we used to call a 'sexy nose', B.M. (that's before Murray). Mouth: hey It's almost as light as a great pineau des Charentes, which means that you could well quaff a bottle without even noticing. Now it is light but absolutely not 'weak' or 'flat'. Very good, very easy, with many fruits complemented with touches of mint and liquorice. As we sometimes say, it sure is 'dangerously drinkable'. Finish: not too short, fresh, fruity, very pleasant. Comments: a wee armagnac for Balblair fans, I would say. Very well made – now I'd love to be able to try this at 45% vol.
SGP:640 - 85 points.

Dartigalongue 'Cuvée Louis-Philippe' (42%, Bas-armagnac, 2018)

Dartigalongue 'Cuvée Louis-Philippe' (42%, Bas-armagnac, 2018) Four stars and a half
This cuvée was composed to celebrate the house Dartigalongue's 180th anniversary, back in 2018. It is a blend of the 1979, 1983, 1986, 1992, and 1994 vintages. As for Louis-Philippe, he was the very last king of France and the only one from the 'Orléans' branch. He reigned until 1848 but never got his head cut-off. Phew. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: stewed fruits plus sandal and cedar woods. Raisins, overripe peaches, whiffs of peonies, cooked wine (or ueber-echelon sangria), dried figs, rosehip tea. A box of Cedros (if that rings a bell). Mouth: a bit on the woody side at first but liquorice and stewed peaches and apricots are soon to come to the rescue. Chestnut and heather honeys too, together with some chocolate. Just very very good.  Finish: medium, very 'stewed', with liquorice and raspberry ganache in the aftertaste. Peach pie. Comments: an excellent cuvée, very different from both the house's 'age-stated' cuvées and most of their vintages, which I find a little more 'modern', in the best sense of that word. Almost a bottle for your museum.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Château de Lacquy 2001 'Colombard 100%' (46%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #144, 474 bottles, +/-2021)

Château de Lacquy 2001 'Colombard 100%' (46%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #144, 474 bottles, +/-2021) Four stars
We've already tried quite a few very  good armagnacs by Château de Lacquy within the last weeks. Colour: dark amber. Nose: a very peculiar, unusually earthy nose, very rustic in a very good way, with whiffs of cellulosic varnish, green pears, menthol, fresh putty, burning pinewood, sauna oils, propolis… Tends to become almost terpenic. Mouth: yess, love it. Rustic indeed, as almost all Scottish malt whiskies are as well (after all). Barbecued marshmallows, fir honey, cough medicine, gritty green teas, liquorice wood, oils and waxes, embrocations… I say this must have been made by druids! Love this style, it is some armagnac for your best hipflask. Finish: rather long, just as rustic, with fruit peelings, raw liquorice and propolis, and any Pu-ehr tea's first waters. As I said, rustic. Comments: a lot of action in this rawish middle-aged colombard, I'm certainly a fan.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 83' (50.7%, OB for Spiritus, Petite Champagne, 120 bottles, 2021)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 83' (50.7%, OB for Spiritus, Petite Champagne, 120 bottles, 2021) Four stars
Indeed, cognac this time. Not too sure about who those fine people called 'Spiritus' are, but what I know is that they've got good tastes. Wait, the Belgians again? Colour: red amber. Nose: an ultra-fresh damsony, sultana-y start, with admirable notes of quince jelly (I'd kill an army for quince jelly) and, well, just quince jelly. With water: patchouli and strong lime tea, Barbour grease, then cedar wood, humidor, resins… It got greener and drier. Mouth (neat): a tighter oakiness now, some mint, resins, coffee dregs, black propolis… I suppose water is needed. With water: gets really dry, green, tea-ish, resinous. Keep your first pipette in the drawer, water's superfluous here. Finish: lovely and 'nervous' when undiluted, a little green and drying when not. Comments: this baby doesn't swim too well, in my humble opinion. Excellent for sure, but a little challenging here and there, while the quinces tend to lose ground. Still, upper-first-quartile cognac, and easily.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Domaine de Baraillon 1989/2021 'Folle Blanche 100%' (44.9%, OB for Authentic Spirits, Bas-armagnac, 288 bottles)

Domaine de Baraillon 1989/2021 'Folle Blanche 100%' (44.9%, OB for Authentic Spirits, Bas-armagnac, 288 bottles) Five stars
Baraillon with a state-of-the-art contemporary label? Why not a microchip with immersive 3D experience driven by artificial intelligence, while they're at it? Platinum flakes? T-shirts? Confetti? Coupons? Anyway, this is pure folle blanche and no-one's ever gonna take that away…. Colour: amber. Nose: pure spirity metanoia. Baraillon, Neisson, Springbank, Equipo Navazos. Grand cru chocolate, white truffle, old Montecristo, all earths and all teas. Mouth: oranges, cane juice, raisins, pu-her, Assam, Cuban cigars, blackest currants, blackest honeys, coffee. Finish: long, bone-dry, mentholy, resinous, almost rude and rough. Comments: tough baby and that's exactly what we enjoy here. This 'meta' side. More folle blanche than armagnac – knowing what I'm trying to say here. Great tough boy.
SGP:362 - 90 points.

Hermitage 'Chez Richon' 1987 (47%, OB, Grande champagne, +/-2020)

Hermitage 'Chez Richon' 1987 (47%, OB, Grande champagne, +/-2020) Four stars
Most probably juice from Michel Forgeron's. Don't good seed make a good crop? Colour: gold. Nose: love this, utterly. Bouillons, chicken soup, truffles, old Meursault, butter, morels… This is more tertiary than the Holy Trinity, if you ask me. Enough said. Mouth: possibly the shortest tasting note ever. Black oak, black tea, menthol, liquorice wood, Seville oranges. Hard, tight, and good if a little extreme. Finish: long, drying, oaky, mentholy. Comments: the better side of oak juice. Seriously, I like this a lot, but it is the fighting side of cognac. Oak-driven cognac.
SGP:471 - 86 points.

Jean Fillioux Domaine de la Pouyade 'Lot 65' (47%, Malternative Belgium, 112 bottles)

Jean Fillioux Domaine de la Pouyade 'Lot 65' (47%, Malternative Belgium, 112 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one's nicknamed 'Avec Allure', which I can only applaud, even if, or perhaps because that's an expression that would rather be related to la cavalerie. Or polka. Colour: deep reddish amber. Nose: once again, an oaky cognac. Now it's to be said that brandies take oak better than malt, possibly because the original materials are much richer. Stewed rose petals plus sandalwood, patchouli, potpourri, incense, damp peat (no smoke here), tobacco, cherry-flavoured tobacco (I used to smoke Borkum Riff forty years ago)… Mouth: hawthorn tea and mint, stewed damsons, menthol-fuelled liquorice lozenges, eucalyptus drops (Pulmoll)… High powers here, devilish embrocations, divine ointments, shamanistic oils… Finish: long, drier, rather gritty. Runs you off the road now. Comments: 1965, that's the Yardbirds! Love this one, it's just gone a wee tad over the top in my opinion, and lost a little fruitiness. Nah, it got dry.
SGP:372 - 89 points.

Good, we could do a Grosperrin and then call this a session.

Fins Bois N°58 (44.5%, Jean Grosperrin, L844, +/-2020)

Fins Bois N°58 (44.5%, Jean Grosperrin, L844, +/-2020) Four stars
State of the art, small-domain cognac by folks busier with sourcing great casks than with taking care of 'marketing'. Naturally, marketing sucks and is solely for utter losers. Oh and in 1958, the Miles Davis Sextet recorded some stunning tracks at the Newport Jazz Festival. Long story short, this should be art, not marketing. Colour: deep amber. Nose: it is said that the 'Bois' (whether fins, bons or ordinaires) are more rustic, or say pedestrian than the Champagnes or Borderies. Not too sure about that but it is true that this one's relatively grassy, simple and even humble despite its 60+ years of age. We're rather reminded of some kind of fine de Bourgogne or de Jura. Stems, lees, leaves, teas, peach leaves, peppermint… Well, Miles Davis or not Miles Davis, the jury's still out I would say. Mouth: some intellectual cognac from the countryside. Rough, rustic, grassy, philosophical, somewhat timeless and rather a little 'mundane', in the best sense of that word. Finish: long, grassy. A little soap in the aftertaste (perhaps). Comments: I'm not too sure. There's a simple 'marc de pinot noir' side to this rather rural old distillate. I think I'm a little lost, we'll have more brilliant old Grosperrins next time.
SGP:461 – 85 points.
 

October 30, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Dailtwoaine
& a book review

First of all, apologies for that title, it's really one for the 'Twomintoul' fan club.
Before we get to these Dailuaine samples, I would like to offer you my review of Billy Abbott's new book 'The Philosophy of Whisky', published by the British Library as part of their 'Philosophy of' series. Mr Abbott's book is short and pithy, and as such I will attempt to review it in similar fashion.

 

 

 

 

 

Angus's short review of The Philosophy of Whisky by Billy Abbott…

 

 

Billy Serge
Who's the real one? Caution, there are fake Billy-Abbotts around.
(photo Jon Beach, Glasgow, circa 2017)

They say one of the signs of good writing is a clear authorial voice, which is the most immediately striking aspect of this book: you can hear Billy Abbott talking in your head as you read it. I read this book in one sitting as a break while halfway through Foundation by Isaac Asimov, this only served to heighten the sense that I was in conversation with Billy while at the pub, veering as our conversations usually do between booze and science fiction.

 

 

The brevity of the book is an asset as it can be digested easily in one go. It's witty, sharp and clever and there's plenty of well-articulated points that are enjoyable to both agree and disagree with. For example, the author's critiques of Scottish porridge are of the kind only a London-based craft beer enthusiast could consider serious (cheese?!?!?!). My grandmother would have dutifully hewn him a cold briquette of porridge from a drawer for purposes of re-education.

 

 

Abbott also makes some shrewd points about whisky, with one in particular about '100% of a whisky's flavour coming from the cask' still causing my inner-head to chime with cognitive dissonance as I both agree and disagree with him. The book is not aimed at hyper nerds like us, but there are still plenty of these thought provoking takes littered throughout that make it well worth the read. Indeed, sneaky lines about the fact whisky can change in bottle give the impression a degree of 'whisky geek inception' is being undertaken by the author upon his more casual readers.

 

 

The pitch towards a broader readership is the book's greatest strength. It is welcoming, generous and hugely approachable (like Billy, once again). I recently wanted to get a book for someone as the perfect introductory read about whisky, but I couldn't think of an obvious or 'go to' title. This book serves that purpose perfectly. Abbott takes us on an expertly guided paddle amongst the murky pond of whisky production and history. We all of us have friends, family and colleagues in our life who might be curious about the subject we are passionate about to the point of weirdness, they may even ask us advice or direction on occasion. Billy's book is the perfect read for anyone who seeks an easy inroad into whisky's strange but fun little universe.

Philiosophy of Whisky Abbott

 

 

You can buy a copy directly from Billy here: https://philosophyofwhisky.com

 

 

Better than going to certain other websites and helping to fund the twanging of hairless tax avoiders into orbit on their glimmering space-phalluses.

 

 

Dailuaine 13 yo 2008/2021 (57.1%, The Single Cask, cask #301698, bourbon barrel, 276 bottles)

Dailuaine 13 yo 2008/2021 (57.1%, The Single Cask, cask #301698, bourbon barrel, 276 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: cereals and icing sugar at first, lots of things like sugar puffs, Shreddies and Frosties. Goes on with a few tiny drops of clove oil, sandalwood, mineral oil and new leather. Quite interesting in many ways with a distinctly pure and natural vibe overall. With water: takes on some very funny notes of linoleum, clay and play dough with more mineral oils and new leather. Dailuaine is a pretty big distillate sometimes isn't it? Mouth: a little more on freshly milled grist and plain toasted cereals here. Toasted oats, fennel, sunflower oil, trail mix - rather drying and with this dusty aspect to it. Focused on raw ingredients and without the same playful sweet impressions from the nose. With water: getting quite raw and punch now, with sheep wool oils, vase water, grass, aspirin and even hints of blanco tequila and tiger balm. Finish: good length, richly on malted barley, malt syrup, barley sugars, white pepper, watercress and sandalwood. Comments: quite a boisterous and assertive dram - you are left with the impression that Dailuaine can pack quite a charismatic punch at times. I like it a lot, but it's a style you really have to be in the mood for - or it would probably make a very smart highball?
SGP: 461 - 86 points.

 

 

Dailuaine 12 yo 2008/2020 (57.8%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 312 bottles)

Dailuaine 12 yo 2008/2020 (57.8%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 312 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: a little richer and drier in style perhaps, which is to say more immediately on raw cereals, shoe polish, breads and a little yeasty, tangy beer note. The difference between a barrel and a hogshead? With water: once again it goes towards vase water and some fresh green herbs such as parsley. Perhaps also sandalwood touches too. Mouth: we're in very similar territories but I would say there's more textural weight here and a bit more emphasis on things like sunflower oil, shoe polish as on the nose, grass, wintergreen, toasted cereals and grist. With water:  some cider apple, more fermentary sourdough notes, rather rustic in overall style in fact. Still a lot of raw cereals and fresh barley. Finish: good length, more cereals, olive oil, lightly vegetal, white pepper and a slightly green sharpness in the aftertaste. Comments: I probably prefer this one by a notch, the whole feels a bit more cohesive and more textural. But we're splitting hairs as there's a lot of similarity. These Dailuaines are excellent, raw and pure distillate, but rather challenging styles in that sense I'd say.
SGP: 461 - 87 points.

 

 

 

 

October 29, 2021


Whiskyfun

Quite some Glen Keef

I mean, Glen Keith, but wondering if dear Keef ever tried Glen Keith. Isn't Glen Keith the secret to longevity? Let's (partly) empty the box randomly…

Keith

Glen Keith 21 yo 1995/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 11647, 257 bottles)

Glen Keith 21 yo 1995/2017 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 11647, 257 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: all on fresh barley, sunflower oil, fresh bark, custard, marzipan, lamp oil, linseed oil, maize bread… I find this rather complex and very elegant, if a notch unnoticeable (beware absent-minded tasters). With water: same, oils, putty, barley… Mouth (neat): much tighter and very citrusy, as many Glen Keith are. Limoncello aged in oak, many roasted nuts (macadamia), more raw barley, touches of sweet buckwheat… With water: goes towards a good pilsner but never forgets the citrus. Citrusy hoppy IPA. Finish: of moderate length, on the same flavours. Comments: unquestionably very good, if indeed a little 'unnoticeable'. Oh well, it's simply not 'in your face' malt whisky.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Perhaps another 1995…

Glen Keith 23 yo 1995/2018 (52.1%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead)

Glen Keith 23 yo 1995/2018 (52.1%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead) Four stars
I they ever cancel next year's Limburg Whisky Fair once again, I believe I'll slaughter the whole population of a small city. Hold on, I'm fine as long as I don't publish this on Facebook, am I not? Colour: white wine. Nose: pure barley and any kind of beer made thereof. Only shaped by time in refill wood, no other flavouring/aromatisation in sight. With water: same. Oily barley water and a little fresh putty and oil paint. Mouth (neat): we're very close to the DL, with a similar citrusy profile and something very beery/washy. With water: same. Very good. Finish: longer, focused, tight, barley-y and oily. Comments: natural malt whisky, as in natural, in malt, and in whisky. No quibbling to be done. So, can we have the Fair next year?
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Perhaps another 1995…

Glen Keith 24 yo 1995/2019 (49.5%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #171272, 250 bottles)

Glen Keith 24 yo 1995/2019 (49.5%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #171272, 250 bottles) Four stars
Good, 'they' did their (brilliant) show this year in London, so presto, et voilà, one more point! Are you sure I am joking? Colour: straw. Nose: same as the Whisky Fair, word for word. These whiskies are undistinguishable in the glass. Mouth: indeed. Excellent 100% natural malt whisky from Speyside that's filled many an excellent blended Scotch. Perfect barleyness. Finish: same. Lovely aged-limoncello-y feeling in the aftertaste. Comments: which leads us to that seminal issue, 'in malt whisky, is consistency really an asset?'
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Perhaps another 1995…

Glen Keith 22 yo 1995/2018 (49.2%, Claxton's, hogshead, cask # 1833-171290, 311 bottles)

Glen Keith 22 yo 1995/2018 (49.2%, Claxton's, hogshead, cask # 1833-171290, 311 bottles) Four stars
I have this strange feeling… Colour: pale straw. Nose: same as that of the TSMOS. Mouth: more or less the same as that of the TSMOS. Finish: pretty much the same as that of the TSMOS. This one's probably a tiny-wee notch grassier, but there. Comments: the question is, do you prefer flat square bottles or do you like the regular round tall ones better?
SGP:551 - 85 points.

We want change!

Glen Keith 18 yo 1996/2015 (54.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Glen Keith 18 yo 1996/2015 (54.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles) Four stars
Oh, a Cadenhead from the good old days! Colour: white wine – and I mean very white. Nose: it's one of those 'very refill' bottlings that Cadenhead used to do, for the better or the… even better, as long as you're a sucker for distillate-focussed malt whiskies. Not obligatorily kerosene, this one's very 'neutral' indeed but I really enjoy porridge and muesli in my malts. So, porridge and muesli. With water: and raw wool, aspirin tablets, limestone, and even more porridge. Mouth (neat): lovely pure barley-y malt, with some barley syrup indeed and just a few zests and slices of granny smith. Touch of mercurochrome, perhaps. With water: raw malt whisky of very good quality, A.K.A. a perfect filler. Citrus up. Finish: same. Comments: bwah, they are the same as the 1995s, just a notch grassier. I mean, this one's a notch grassier.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Bored? Feels a bit like a Korean series about the Wehrmacht on Netflix, doesn't it… So let's make every effort… (hey, love Korea!)

Glen Keith 29 yo 1992/2021 (46.1%, Oxhead Whisky Company, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #34260)

Glen Keith 29 yo 1992/2021 (46.1%, Oxhead Whisky Company, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #34260) Four stars and a half
This m.i.g.h.t. be a little different. Colour: light gold. Nose: hurray, fruits! Not just apples or lemons, also oranges, passion fruits, papayas, then acacia and lime honeys, beeswax, patchouli, old Roussanne/Marsanne (wine freaks special), touches of spearmint, perhaps pistachio syrup… Well this is just another dimension. Mouth: but how good is this? A few woody tones here and there (piney oils in the way) but the rest is awesome, with bananas, honeys, really big chunks of ripe papayas, perhaps hints of avocado, and then just an impeccable barleyness. Very very good. Finish: medium, rather fat. Piney oils and banana skins. Comments: not totally faultless but those tiny faults can be seen as assets, like anything related to oak. I mean, in malt whisky. Pretty brilliant, in truth.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Wouldn't we quickly try more Glen Keef?... What do you say?

Glen Keith 20 yo 1995/2015 (48.6%, Liquid Treasures, Travel to Mars, bourbon hogshead)

Glen Keith 20 yo 1995/2015 (48.6%, Liquid Treasures, Travel to Mars, bourbon hogshead) Three stars
Travel to Mars? Do Musk, Branson and Bezos own shares of this lovely wee whisky company? Colour: white wine. Nose: this is rather different from the other 1995s as it noses younger, especially more on cut pears. Other than that, it is barley bonanza. Mouth: very good for a while, I think I even like it a tad better than the others, for it is a little fresher. But it is rougher as well, with even some kinds of notes of peat smoke that just shouldn't be here. Finish: long, even more on raw williams pear spirit. Sadly, there's a little varnish too, not too sure that's welcome at this point. Comments: Mars? Not too sure. Let's move on.
SGP:561 - 82 points.

Glen Keith 21 yo 1992/2014 (51%, Ramseyer's, bourbon, 118 bottles)

Glen Keith 21 yo 1992/2014 (51%, Ramseyer's, bourbon, 118 bottles) Four stars
I agree we're very late here. Mea maxima culpa, I'm afraid I owe beers or riesling or Brora to many people on this tiny planet. Colour: light gold. Nose: rather on the fragrant side and indeed we're closer to the new Oxhead 1992. More tropical fruits, mangos, bananas, plus oils (linseed) and a little plasticine. H2O should do much good to this little one… With water: no, water closes it down and makes it grassy. Mouth (neat): extremely good, fat, oily, slightly resinous, with perfect fruit skins and dry eaux-de-vies. Not easy to describe but there sure is a feeling of fullness here. Tantric whisky? With water: water works better on the palate than on the nose, but I'm not sure it was needed. Let's say 'no'. Finish: medium, on nice citrusy fruits. Pink grapefruits. Comments: very good, with awesome fruits, but careful with water. Remember, water can be the enemy (that too won't go to f*****g Facebook).
SGP:561 - 86 points.

I'd have loved to find a 90-Glen Keef for Keef, but I doubt we'll manage. Good, a very last try only for our common cause…

Glen Keith 17 yo 1997/2014 (52.3%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #72627, 309 bottles)

Glen Keith 17 yo 1997/2014 (52.3%, Chapter 7, bourbon hogshead, cask #72627, 309 bottles) Four stars
This is Swiss, right, which means that it's serious, as we are here in neighbouring Alsace (but of course). Colour: white wine. Nose: ah, peaches beyond pears and citrus! Perhaps a touch of oily rubber too and even a little washing powder, but let's see… With water: cancel that, we're rather finding something subtly Thai now. Coriander? Lovely nose that loves water. Mouth (neat): perfect naked, fully on barley, sweet and oily spirit, with touches of liquorice and mint. Which, in the end of the day, will always win it. With water: a tad more uncertain, perhaps a little wee bit too piney. Finish: long, green, on resins and bee propolis. Comments: this was an older sample. Still very good, but please do not keep spirits in smaller containers while hoping they'll keep forever. I know what I'm talking about, I've got several thousands. That's just another costly myth, eternal youth, whether parafilmed or not, does not exist. Drink and enjoy, don't keep, that'll never work anyway unless you're using liquid nitrogen. And even then…
SGP:471 - 85 points.

Sorry Keef, no utter winners and no bad losers either today, but there's some new OBs around too, no? Bah, some official Scottish distillers are scared of their own shadows and are still living in the 20th century anyway. Barely. Like, hey, there's this new band from Manchester, The Smiths, watch your Telefax…

CU.

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

 

October 28, 2021


Whiskyfun

Special Releases (and Halloween) Special,
today the Mortlach

The Beast of Dufftown and its Wee Witchie on the tasting desk again! But let's first find a little apéritif al natural, if you don't mind…

Wee Witchie
Mortlach's low wines still No.1 A.K.A. The Wee Witchie, the smallest spirit still among 3 of them, which takes the tails from wash stills No.1 and No. 2. A.F.A.I.K. (Diageo) ->

Mortlach 10 yo 2009/2019 (57.6%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, hogshead, cask #301453, 304 bottles)

Mortlach 10 yo 2009/2019 (57.6%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, hogshead, cask #301453, 304 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it is one of those extremely chalky Mortlachs, full of ashes, chalk indeed, scoria, concrete dust, flints, gunpowder… Some porridge too. Rather for die-hard whisky enthusiasts that are (also) into ascetism, I would say. With water: some paraffin, plasticine, carbon dust, sourdough, grass juice… Mouth (neat): unusually salty, ueber-grassy, peppery, austere. Lemon skins. In short, more ascetism. With water: sweeter and fruitier but rather all on lemon drops and white peaches. All kinds of peppers roaring in the background. Finish: long, sharp, peppery and grassy. A little sugarcane syrup and limoncello in the aftertaste (hurray!) Comments: reminds me a bit here and there of the first record by La Monte Young that I ever bought. The main difference being that as far as I can remember, I never bought any other record by La Monte Young.
SGP:371 - 83 points.

Mortlach 13 yo 'The Moonlit Beast' (55.9%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends)

Mortlach 13 yo 'The Moonlit Beast' (55.9%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends) Four stars
Ex-virgin and refill American oak. As a matter of fact, and you cannot make this up, I just slept 'with' a pack of European grey wolves in a magnificent lodge in Lorraine. Wonderful animals but boy are they noisy at night!  Colour: white wine. Nose: another one that's pretty sharp and austere at first, chalky, waxy, grassy, the main difference being that many more fruits would then come out, chiefly white and yellow peaches, then muesli and something like rhubarb jam. I would suppose it's the virgin oak that imparted more 'sweetness'. With water: porridge, damp oatcakes and plain sourdough. Raw wool. Gone are the fruits. Mouth (neat): once again, same style as that of the Ultimate, only with more fruitiness, in this very case more lemons. With water: very good now, tight for sure but with a lot of lemon, gooseberries, green plums and rhubarb, plus a little muscovado sugar to round this off. Still, wonderful tightness. Finish: long, grassier, with notes of green tea and walnut skins. Loses a part of its fruitiness. Chalky aftertaste. Comments: showcase dry un-sherried and un-meaty Mortlach.
SGP:561 - 86 points.

Let's make this a trio, with an old sherried one…

Mortlach 31 yo 1987/2018 (54%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogshead, batch #18/061, 200 bottles)

Mortlach 31 yo 1987/2018 (54%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogshead, batch #18/061, 200 bottles) Five stars
Colour: dark amber. Nose: Mortlach as most of us know it, that is to say with a little gunpowder and even struck matches, plus savoury notes, a fatness, some coffee and some chocolate, a little glutamate, and something slightly metallic, around old copper coins. Really, feels like home to many older whisky enthusiasts – and the opposite of new bourbonised malts. With water: marrow soup, dried porcinis, cigars, umami sauce, crude chocolate, prunes, hoisin sauce… I'm sure you could quaff this with Peking duck. Mouth (neat): splendid old-skool sherried Mortlach, which is pretty old-G&M too, I would add. Stunning raw coffee beans and black chocolate, with a drop of Worcester sauce, Bovril, and just bits of pipe tobacco. Very tertiary. With water: salt, bouillon, old walnuts, fino sherry, black pepper, proper coffee, more chocolate, a wee spoonful of onion soup… Finish: long and indeed splendid, with a few higher notes, perhaps wild strawberries, pomegranates, ganache… All that mingled with some perfect chocolate. Coffee-y aftertaste. Comments: extremely and authentically Jerezian. Stunning old Mortlach by some of the best Mortlach specialists.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

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

 

October 27, 2021


Whiskyfun

Special Releases Special, today Oban

There's this new 12 'SR' and I'm rather intrigued, being quite an Oban fan. Let's try to find a proper sparring partner if you please, even if let's be honest, the Oban box is almost empty at Château Whiskyfun. How many different Obans are there? Perhaps choose this early Classic Malt?...

Oban

Oban 14 yo (43%, OB, 75cl, +/-1988)

Oban 14 yo (43%, OB, 75cl, +/-1988) Four stars and a half
So a very early European Classic Malt, still filled into a 75cl bottle and bearing the 'Little Bay of Caves' nickname. Remember the two or three earlier official 12 yo in their decanter-like bottles had been nothing but stellar. Colour: light gold. Nose: comes with this very peculiar sooty profile, full of brine (black olives juice) and roasted pine nuts. Some meaty fatness (mutton suet?) and then an unexpectedly gentler combination of butterscotch and café latte. Wee touches of soft soap, beeswax and thyme essence somewhere in the background. A rather big old-school boy feeling denser and richer than 43% vol. on the nose. Mouth: indeed, a fatter baby, also very sooty and a tad mustardy at first, getting then relatively rounder, with burnt cakes and roasted chestnuts. Quite some saltiness coating all that, reminiscent of black olives once again. Certainly one of the sootiest malts and, in a way, a true West-coaster beside Springbank and, say Ben Nevis. Finish: pretty long, dry, very salty and with clear notes of pine smoke. Comments: probably more complex than newer offerings, although I would believe that recent batches have improved again after some more difficult 2000s. Extremely good and truly idiosyncratic (love that word in tasting notes), these European 75cl-bottles are really worth chasing down.
SGP:362 - 89 points.

Oban 12 yo 'A Tale of Light and Dark' (55.9%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends)

Oban 12 yo 'A Tale of Light and Dark' (55.9%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends) Four stars
Said to be a 2008 and to have been matured in fresh-charred American oak, although the label would say 'ex-bourbon and refill casks'. The official website also speaks of 'Oban's understated, easy-drinking style'. Not too sure about that part… Colour: white wine. Nose: certainly not as briney and deep as the old 14, and rather more spirity but that may well be the much higher alcohol. Overripe apples and a little beer, mustard and soap. With water: we're closer to its ancestor, even if there's no beeswax this time, no terpenic notes, no piney stuff... But the olives are back. It's a simpler but remember the 14 had spent more than thirty years in glass. Mouth (neat): good, if a little eau-de-vie-ish and even brutal. More beer or ale, orange bitters, indeed a touch of salt… I believe we're on the right track… With water: it's not that we recreated the old 14, but, well, quite so… Excellent pine resin and salt, liquorice, fino sherry (I know there isn't any, but Oban IS fino-y), and once again something clearly 'West-Coast'. Not talking about jazz here, eh… Finish: pretty long, tighter, with some salted kirschwasser would I say. One pickled gherkin in the aftertaste. Comments: really a style that I enjoy, very well done even if the old 14 remained out of reach all along. Oban is not malt whisky for tourists!
SGP:462 - 87 points.

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

 

October 26, 2021


Whiskyfun

Another short trip around the world, starting from Ireland
These sessions are fun to do, even if there's less and less bad whisky around. Because remember, paraphrasing Disraeli, "I love bad whisky, as I find good whisky so boring'… (half) joking. So, off to Ireland…

Hinch (43%, OB, blended Irish whiskey, bourbon, +/-2020)

Hinch (43%, OB, blended Irish whiskey, bourbon, +/-2020) Two stars
Not too sure what this is, probably 'a brand'. It's done by a 'Hinch Distillery Co.' but this ought to be sourced. The modern whisky world. Colour: white wine. Nose: no proper Irishness that I can find, having said that it's a rather malty blend, with cakes and breads plus the usual vanilla and soft acacia honey. Some popcorn, a few rose petals. Pleasant for sure, nothing to complain about this far. Mouth: the grains are having the upper hand this time, but we're still fine despite all this 'empty-ish sweetness'. Caramel, office coffee, chicory, candyfloss, alcohol. We're reminded of Havana Club. Finish: short and rather empty. Comments: a shame that the grain whiskies took over on the palate, the maltier nose was nice.

SGP:630 - 75 points.

Whistlepig 'HomeStock Crop No.004' (43%, OB, USA, 2021)

Whistlepig 'HomeStock Crop No.004' (43%, OB, USA, 2021) Four stars and a half
This was made by 'fans', apparently. It's a blend of 4 yo rye, 5 yo wheat and 5 yo barley whiskies, so 4 years old. Not too sure about what's American or Canadian in this mix. Colour: light gold. Nose: rye-forward, bready, bourbony, very pleasant I have to say. They've kept an obvious American style that, to us Europeans, remains pretty exotic. Seriously, very nice nose, getting a tad perfumy in a nice way. High-class cologne, menthol, caraway and aniseed, vetiver... I'm buying this. Mouth: yeah, very good. Love all this gingerbread, crystallised oranges, fudge, lavender, violet-flavoured liquorice (try that before you die, as lazy publishers would say), spicy earth… Finish: medium but just lovely, spicy and fruity, and above all, 'different'. Comments: very well done, 'fans'. But fans? I'd understand Stevie Nicks would have fans, but a whisky brand??? Oh and are they distilling everything now? Nah, nit-picking, I find this awesome to be honest.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Off north to Canada, for another Macaloney…

Macaloney's Caledonian 'Invermallie' (46%, OB, Canada, ex-bourbon, cask #67, 2021)

Macaloney's Caledonian 'Invermallie' (46%, OB, Canada, ex-bourbon, cask #67, 2021) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: very tight, tense, vertical, narrow, on barley, flour and perhaps a spoonful of mashed turnips, peas and potatoes. Woosh that was fast. No-make-up whisky for sure. Mouth: caraway bread, orange bread, apricot bread, rye bread, in short, bread. Indeed, this is pretty narrow, high-precision malt whisky. I like this a lot but couldn't spend hours talking about it (careful, I can hear you cheer). Finish: medium, clean, sweet and bready, with spicy touches from the oak, caraway indeed, juniper, clove, cumin, nutmeg, even capsicum… Stolle, anis bredala and läckerlis in the aftertaste. Comments: the 'Peated Darach Braiche' was in a higher league, in my opinion, but this all-natural malt just works too. Great work by all these Canadian Scots.

SGP:561 - 86 points.

Oh, we haven't tried Amrut's 'Fusion' for a long time (like 10 years, I believe)… So, off to India!

Amrut 'Fusion' (50%, OB, India, +/-2021)

Amrut 'Fusion' (50%, OB, India, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
Remember, Fusion means they're using both barley from the foot of the Himalayas and Scottish barley, which they'll then process separately and blend when bottling. I really enjoyed the first batch, but that was in… 2009 or 2010. Colour: light gold. Nose: I've long abandoned any will to learn how to differentiate Scottish barley from Indian barley, all I'll say is that this is pretty tropical, on true Indian mangos (they have the best) and orange cakes. With water: more beers and doughs. Tends to lose its idiosyncrasies, perhaps. Mouth (neat): excellent, slightly mentholy, otherwise on mangos and papayas, with a lighter syrupiness that's very enjoyable. Angelica and lemongrass. With water: once again, gets cakier and loses a part of its tropicalness. No worries, after all this is malt whisky. Finish: medium. Comments: not too sure it really loves water, better try it at 50%.
SGP:641 - 84 points.

Let's end today's wee trip in Belgium…

Braeckman 11 yo 2009/2020 (64.5%, OB, The Real Wee Dram Society, 20th Anniversary, Belgium, first-fill bourbon, cask #132, 127 bottles)

Braeckman 11 yo 2009/2020 (64.5%, OB, The Real Wee Dram Society, 20th Anniversary, Belgium, first-fill bourbon, cask #132, 127 bottles) Two stars and a half
Hold on, this is single grain, not malt. I believe it's the first time I'm trying a Braeckman. Colour: gold. Nose: a malty grain whisky, at this pace we'll soon become fans of grain whisky. Herbs, fern, hay… Now at such high strength it's best to add a little H2O, no? With water: fresh-sawn hardwoods and some kind of earthy varnish. And picture varnish. Mouth (neat): grain and saccharose. Quick… With water: it's okay, extremely sweet… Bubblegum, orange squash and pancake sauce. Finish: rather short, sugary. Comments: I can't possibly go up to 80, but we are not too far. Not a fan of young grain at all, but I'm sure this is one of the better ones. Perhaps with shrimp croquettes? Now they're located south of Gand/Gent, so not exactly close to Oostende or Knokke…

SGP:730 - 79 points.

St. Kilian 2016/2020 'Signature Edition Four' (48%, OB, Germany)

St. Kilian 2016/2020 'Signature Edition Four' (48%, OB, Germany) Three stars and a half
We had a lot of fun with that 2014 cask #666 last time, but this one may be an angel, we'll see. The bottle is really funny, is it not; who did that last time? Glenmo, no?  Colour: gold. Nose: rather some wood and coal smoke. I'm thinking pinewood, eucalyptus smoke, also bell pepper and then more raisins, PX, and a little Worcester sauce. Sweet and sour sauces, also quite some toffee. This baby keeps changing, it sure wouldn't sit still. Mouth: wood spices and vegetal smokes, plus smoked ham and sausages. Then marmalade, chorizo, paprika and just smoked raisins, with a little mead and plain honey. Very good, only the vegetal greenness might be a little excessive. Juniper? Finish: long, both sweet and spicy, in short another one that you could have with dim-sum. Comments: these St. Kilians are really something else. Just wondering if Kilian Mbappé is a shareholder. Ah, no, that's Kylian – pff, futebol.
SGP:465 - 84 points.

To Australia…

Starward 4 yo 2016/2021 (55.7%, OB for Whic, Australia, red wine barrel, cask #10323, 240 bottle)

Starward 4 yo 2016/2021 (55.7%, OB for Whic, Australia, red wine barrel, cask #10323, 240 bottle) Two stars and a half
I believe they are a little crazy. I've tried a few, some have been brilliant, some others maybe a little unlikely, but doesn't it take all sorts to make a world? Colour: copper amber. Nose: this is peach jam aged in oak. Massive quantities of peaches, all over the place. Now I'm a founding member of the Peach Club, so our hopes remain high. With water: wham, oak. Also earth in some deep forest, which is pretty nice. Barbour grease too, oak oils… Mouth (neat): mad concoction, really. More peach jam flavoured with pinewood and juniper. With water: things get pacified but it's still a kind of oily concoction full of bitter oils. Tough baby. Finish: very long, bitter, on green peppers and chlorophyl. Comments: wow, what was that? Extreme 'whisky', absolutely not flawed but yeah, extreme.
SGP:472 - 77 points.

Let me check something, if you don't mind… (we stay in Australia)…

Starward 'Left-field' (40%, OB, Australia, +/-2020)

Starward 'Left-field' (40%, OB, Australia, +/-2020) Three stars
Just saw that this is ex-red wine too. Bah maybe had it been STRised? Colour: rosé gold. Nose: some herbal smoke and a much lighter red-wine-ness. Red apples and grass smoke, lapsang souchong, cowshed, hay, horse saddle… I rather enjoy this nose, we're at a farm. Mouth: I like this, it's got strawberries and raspberries at first, then rather blood oranges with cloves and nutmeg. You do feel the wine but it's all gentle and unobtrusive. Cake. Also wee whifs of brand new American-made submarine, maybe. Finish: medium, with bits of pipe tobacco and a drop of kirschwasser. Cloves, blood oranges and Cointreau in the aftertaste. Comments: feels a little experimental too but you do not feel like you're the Guinea pig. I know what I'm trying to say.
SGP:563 - 81 points.

To Israel…

Milk & Honey 'Elements Peated' (46%, OB, Israel, 2020)

Milk & Honey 'Elements Peated' (46%, OB, Israel, 2020) Two stars
I believe strictly all distilleries, in the whole world, now do peated malt. So much for 'heritage', 'terroir', or at least 'a sense of the place'. If burning cucumbers would have proven successful, I'm sure they would be all be burning cucumbers these days. Proof that whisky is a business and not a craft – I'm speaking generally, absolutely not about the very fine folks at Milk & Honey in particular. Colour: gold. Nose: fine, mild, mildly smoky, rather on cakes, puréed bananas, overripe pears, maple syrup and wholegrain bread. Was the distillate peated, or was it only the casks? What's sure is that it works very well. Mouth: a feeling of pepperoni at first, then gingerbread, bay leaves, bitter oranges, capsicum… Finish: long, leafy, bitter. Comments: I don't know, I love M&H's regular releases, I really do, but I believe these specials are sometimes unnecessary and detrimental. That's what we now call 'doing a Benriach', meaning bottling just any possible variants and almost abandoning any ideas of a house style. But this sure is no bad whisky, don't get me wrong.
SGP:373 - 75 points.

Take heart, and Montjoie St Denis!...

Milk & Honey 'Elements Sherry' (46%, OB, Israel, 2020)

Milk & Honey 'Elements Sherry' (46%, OB, Israel, 2020) Three stars
Colour: gold. Nose: ah, yeah, there, now we're talking, I knew this would come. Havana cigars, olive oil, walnut stain, figs, polished woods, metal polish, miso, autumn leaves, thuja wood… All extremely fine and complex. Mouth: yep, all good, I'm glad this happens, even if we're still a bit on the bitterish, leafier side. Green walnuts, touches of mustard, leather… It's good, I just think M&H's lovely distillate should avoid any encounter with some spicy, dry and tannic oak. But yeah, this one's pretty good I think. Finish: rather long, on wood spices and walnuts. Comments: I still like my natural M&H better (the Classic!) – by far – but indeed this rather works, IMHO.
SGP:361 - 80 points.

Oh well, since we're at M&H's…

Milk & Honey 2017/2020 'Apex Cognac Cask' (59.4%, OB, Israel, 1077 bottles)

Milk & Honey 2017/2020 'Apex Cognac Cask' (59.4%, OB, Israel, 1077 bottles) Three stars and a half
The wood technology here was ex-STR-bourbon plus a Cognac finish. Next time, no teeth ;-). Colour: full gold. Nose: bacon, barbecued peaches and roasted raisins, then a new box of cigars. With water: more dough, croissants, cakes, raisin rolls and fresh oak shavings. Whiffs of eucalyptus and cedarwood. Mouth (neat): cognac, then whisky, but we do love cognac at Château Whiskyfun. Even if I'm not too fond of the idea of such a premix, I have to admit that both mingle very well and that this meta-spirit is very pleasant. But cognasky of whisgnac? Let's dig deeper… With water: let's not exaggerate, this is well whisky, and a good one at that. Liquid kougelhopf and honey cake, that's good. Finish: medium, good, sweet and maltier, although raisins would remain a little dominant in the mix. Comments: apex, I don't know, but I find this unquestionably very good. Although the best possible M&H would probably be an M&H M&H finish, if you ask me.

SGP:551 - 83 points.
 

October 25, 2021


Whiskyfun

A trio of Glenturret

I doubt they would mash Crystal malt at Glenturret, despite the fact that their current owner also owns Lalique, including the stunning restaurant and hotel 'Villa René Lalique' in the far north of little Alsace. By the way, I've heard the new Lalique restaurant at Glenturret Distillery was pretty wonderful and I just can't wait to go try their "Cappuccino de Haggis à la Truffe" (right, I just made that one up).

Lalique
Villa René Lalique, Wingen-sur-Moder

Glenturret 12 yo '2021 Release' (46%, OB)

Glenturret 12 yo '2021 Release' (46%, OB) Four stars
I thought 2020's Maiden Release of the 12 was just excellent (WF 85). Colour: deep gold. Nose: on the nose it really reminds me of some ham à la diable (coated with mustard then baked) served with a wee glass of bone-dry Madeira. We're then getting more spice woods, especially juniper wood, also pine and cedar wood, then some softer, creamier custard and just a wee bag of fresh walnuts. Perhaps also bitter beer and raw cocoa powder. Very singular, which is what we enjoy. Mouth: those spicy woods are first to show up (thuja, cedar) while it's getting saltier by the second. What we sometimes call a 'manzanilla-y development'. Then rather amontillado, with something more oxidative, some tobacco… Finish: very long, this time on Fernet Branca and assorted dry herbal drinks, nutmeg, more walnuts and more manzanilla, then a little wasabi in the aftertaste. And even more walnuts. Comments: indeed, very good and extremely spicy, with a feeling of being in Jerez at times.
SGP:372 - 85 points.

In Jerez? …

Ruadh Maor 10 yo 2009/2020 (53.8%, Claxton's for Fadandel, Moscatel quarter cask, cask #156A, 178 bottles)

Ruadh Maor 10 yo 2009/2020 (53.8%, Claxton's for Fadandel, Moscatel quarter cask, cask #156A, 178 bottles) Three stars
As you may, or may not know, Ruadh Maor is the name for Glenturret's peated version. In truth I wouldn't know whether this very 'Moscatel' was moscatel from Jerez or not. Colour: gold. Nose: actually, I'm not sure the moscatel has anything to say in this very smoke-forward combo that, at times, would remind us of Ledaig. Quite some leather, rubber boots, pinewood smoke, new tyres, sea spray, tarry ropes… With water: carbon paper, new books, tyres, rubber bands, dried kelp, a little stagnant seawater… Mouth (neat): not 100% sure, the Moscatel feels this time, there's some sweet mustard, more rubber, some demerara sugar, some salt… With water: gets frankly sweeter, we're rather having triple sec mixed with pepper and ginger liqueurs. A little rough and, as some distillers used to say fifteen years ago, 'experimental', which sometimes used to mean 'with apologies'. Finish: rathe earthier and rather mineral too. I cannot not think of some crazy official Ledaigs. Mustard in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps a little challenging?
SGP:475 - 80 points.

A very old one please…

Glenturret 35 yo (47.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, batch 2, 365 bottles, 2016)

Glenturret 35 yo (47.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, batch 2, 365 bottles, 2016) Four stars
Let's remember that last year's official 'Maiden Release' 30 years old was rather fantastic. Other old Glenturrets had been a tad unlikely having said that, we're talking about those that were available in the 1990s… Colour: deep gold. Nose: a tiny rubbery touch at first but that would go away in a flash, leaving a lot of room for some candied tropical fruits (crazy guavas), a large bag of coconuts, some manzanilla indeed, lime blossom, and just touches of Parmesan cheese. Indeed it's sometimes wandering on the edge but no worries, it's an excellent tightrope walker. Mouth: same feeling of an old malt that's quite unlikely, fragile and uncertain, but that's doing well. Cream cheeses, yoghurt, fermenting plums and perhaps bananas, chewing rubber bands, plasticine, some saltiness, mead and manzanilla, some grassy rum, then a little turmeric… I find it a little odd and very good. Finish: medium, on more spices, café latte, some odd brew from Starbucks' (like cinnamon in coffee), mustard and walnuts, fino… Comments: as we sometimes say, there are some very excellent flaws in this one, so I would say it is rather for the curious.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

(Merci Tim!)

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

 

October 23, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
A few assorted pairs
It's been a while since I did mix and match pairings, it's always a fun way to try whiskies, so let's return to that approach for this weekend. Bit of a mixed bag here though…

 

Benriach 10yo 'Curiositas' (40%, OB, L code L12.10.06)

Benriach 10 yo 'Curiositas' (40%, OB, L code L12.10.06)
I'm no great expert in Benriach L codes, but I suppose that would suggest it was bottled in 2006. Colour: pale gold. Nose: a kind of soft, gently rustic and farmy peat profile. Some light carbolic acidity, hay lofts and some yeasty and slightly basic bready notes. Simple, easy enough and probably a tad boring. Mouth: falls apart a bit here on arrival, I find it a bit sour and with an impression of salty, overly soggy porridge. A rather muted and flat smokiness, malt syrup, cardboard and plasticine. Not great really. Finish: short, slightly mustardy, a touch of pepper, more damp grains, soot and cardboard. Comments: underwhelming. I'd say the good folk at Benriach have issues vastly superior bottlings since these rather unlikely and disappointing batches.
SGP: 453 - 72 points.

 

 

Benriach 11 yo 1994/2005 Heavily Peated (59.7%, Signatory Cask Strength Collection, cask #05/355/1 port pipe finish, 863 bottles)

Benriach 11 yo 1994/2005 Heavily Peated (59.7%, Signatory Vintage Cask Strength Collection, cask #05/355/1 port pipe finish, 863 bottles)
Colour: rose gold. Nose: farmyard-ish and rather sharp at first nosing. This impression of acidic peat, smoked sea salt, over-cured meats and things like smoky grist and tarred hessian. The port influence isn't immediately in your fact but there is this particular feeling of sharpness and tension which is quite particular to finishes like this in my book. With water: fully on coal smoke, scorched earth, bandages, bonfire embers and more industrial stuff like roof pitch freshly surfaced roads. There's a mild dirtiness which may come from the port but it wraps up pretty well with all this meaty peaty splatter. Heavily peated indeed! Mouth: hot, powerful, very sharp, spicy, prickling with hot alcohols, acidic wash, tar, boiler smoke, dried kelp, chilli sauce and eventually some more umami notes of miso and black olive. It's good but tough. With water: this is better now, still a whole peat stack in here but overall it's easier and with a more luxurious, quilted smokiness. Charred herbs, bonfire smoke, fir cones, herbal cough medicines and some very salty and umami notes like soy sauce and pickling brine. Finish: long, peaty, rather meaty, tarry, ground pink peppercorns, hot smoked paprika and some hints of leather and bouillon stock. Comments: It would be fascinating to try the original pre-finished whisky. Something of a beast and no doubt a lot of fun for peat fanatics. I think the finish here worked pretty well in that you can see it peeping out here and there but it's never too jarring or lopsided. Probably impossible against such a hefty distillate.
SGP: 477 - 85 points.

 

 

Blair Athol 14 yo (46%, North Star 'The Wee Star', PX finish)

Blair Athol 14 yo (46%, North Star 'The Wee Star', PX finish)
Colour: gold. Nose: what I enjoy straight away is the impression that the finishing has been done with a rather light touch. I find quite a lot of 'Blair Atholy' qualities emerging like malt extract, digestive biscuits, fruit loaf, honeydew melon, new leather and heather ales. Feels perfectly rich, malty and robust. Mouth: once again, there's no great feeling of lopsidedness. Rather a pretty elegant herbal profile with winter spices, camphor and touches of rapeseed oil, putty and various dried fruits and nuts. Robust is the word that comes to mind again. I find it very easy and with a lean 'no fat' aspect which is very appealing. Finish: good length, lightly nutty, mentholated, more dried dark fruits and some milk chocolate. Comments: I defy anyone not to enjoy this humble wee Blair Athol. A wee star indeed.
SGP: 561 - 86 points.

 

 

Blair Athol 14 yo (51.1%, North Star, 14 months Mezcal Finish, 72 bottles)

Blair Athol 14 yo (51.1%, North Star, 14 months Mezcal Finish, 72 bottles)
Ah Mezcal finishes, I'm sure we all know and love those old stories of the crofters and early whisky makers re-racking their whiskies into all those Mezcal casks that have traditionally littered the glens and villages of the highlands. Thankfully the SWA have seen fit to recognise the historical use of Tequila and Mezcal casks in line with their own regulations - they might have been accused of hypocrisy otherwise! Colour: pale gold. Nose: a little tight at first, but I do get some impressions of salinity oddly enough. Also green herbs and wee touches of soot and mineral oil. Still feels 'highland' in style but it's a bit closed. With water: chalky, white flowers, pebbles, sunflower seeds. Light, taut cereal structure and more of these gentle mineral oil notes. Mouth: still rather shy and light with lots of greenery such as grass, olive oil and crushed nettles. Cereals, lemon peel and various notes of clay and ointment. Feels almost austere in some respects. I'm not sure I detect any Mezcal, but it is more tight and medicinal for sure. With water: soda bread, canvass, sack cloth, lamp oil, white miso and even something like tofu. Funny stuff! Finish: medium, drying, more cereals, faint medicinal notes, clay, plasticine, camphor and crushed aspirin. Comments: At times it becomes reminiscent of these old, hyper austere Cadenhead AC bottlings. I'm not sure what to make of this, in some ways it's a fine drop, but is it malt whisky? Please send your long, discursive answers on a Tuk-Tuk to North Star Spirits. A hard one to score, worth trying should it cross your path I would say.
SGP: 452 - 84 points.

 

 

Inchgower 13 yo 2008/2021 (55.8%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #800479, hogshead + refill PX sherry finish, 268 bottles)

Inchgower 13 yo 2008/2021 (55.8%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #800479, hogshead + refill PX sherry finish, 268 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather sooty and with a stodgy cakeyness which I find quite nice. Gingernut biscuits, golden syrup, sweet breakfast cereals and a wee scatter of sultanas. This lighter touch from the sherry has worked quite well I think. With water: pretty classical and straight. On honeys, breads, new world beers and a little earthy turmeric tea. Mouth: rather surprisingly vegetal, olive oil cake, muesli, asparagus, honey roast parsnip, sunflower seeds, pumpkinseed oil, hessian and some malt loaf. Quite a big profile. With water: more elegant now, on olive oil, honey on sourdough toast, those sweetish breakfast cereals again and still a glimmer of a more vegetal, earthy component. Finish: medium, a little plasticine, muesli, golden style, cinnamon grahams breakfast cereal. Comments: aren't LOTG getting pretty smart and clever with their finishings?
SGP: 551 - 85 points.

 

 

Inchgower 13 yo 2007/2020 (56%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 297 bottles)

Inchgower 13 yo 2007/2020 (56%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 297 bottles)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: I've always thought Inchgower was an underrated / unnoticed distillate and I can see why Kate and Mark would select such a cask. An immediately very fresh and pure profile, but one that also incorporates quite a bit of character with chalk, white flowers, very light waxy threads, cereals and even wee yellow fruits as well - tiny ripe yellow plums to be precise. I think the word is 'charming'. With water: an almost crystalline and brittle maltiness, sharp cereal tones, lemon peel. This direct and narrow distillate style feels extremely 'Diageo' - which I mean in a good way, it's a style they've perfected I would say. Mouth: nicely sharp, chiselled and quite singular. In some ways it's almost like a totally un-peated Caol Ila (not like the actual 'un-peated' Caol Ilas which are usually rather peaty). Indeed, you do get a feeling of good blanco Tequila as well with these wee green and vegetal touches. Some mineral oil, new leather, soot and soda bread. With water: wee glimmers of aniseed, fennel, peppery watercress and chlorophyl. Finish: good length, some white chocolate and cocoa emerging out of nowhere, otherwise still on pure and white things like chalk, pebbles, flowers and freshly starched linens. Comments: I would say an excellent example of good modern and unvarnished whisky from refill wood. A smart pick I think.
SGP: 461 - 86 points.

 

 

Talisker 'Skye' (45.8%, OB, L6292CM000)

Talisker 'Skye' (45.8%, OB, L6292CM000)
I believe this should be a 2016 rotation. Colour: gold. Nose: a bit flat, a bit simple, something slightly gingery, caramel shortbread, pepper, a hint of sour wood, perhaps a few lemon cough drops. Feels a bit disjointed and meandering without direction. Mouth: sooty and slightly sour smokiness, more gingery warmth, overall there's this impression of unnatural sweetness which may come from a heavy handed dose of caramel - or just overly bombastic oak. Simplistic and a tad empty and disjointed is the overall impression so far. Finish: medium, sweet ginger ale, digestive biscuits, damp hessian, dark grains and cheap beers. Comments: I feel inclined to judge these sorts of bottlings rather harshly. When you can issue something as consistently superb as Talisker 10 - not to mention these excellent Special Release 8 year olds - and then alongside it comes this, it smacks of laziness and a lack of care or interest. What's the point in owning what is inarguably one of the greatest distilleries on Planet Earth if you issue stuff like this? I wouldn't say more recent batches have been an improvement either. Now, I'm aware of the arguments that bottlings such as this are 'not for the likes of me', but I would still argue there's no excuse for poor quality where Talisker is concerned.
SGP: 564 - 76 points.

 

 

Talisker 12 yo (43%, OB, 94cl for duty free, 1970s)

Talisker 12 yo (43%, OB, 94cl for duty free, 1970s)
A rather cool and rare old large format bottle I opened to share with folk after the Whisky Show in London at the start of this month. Pleasingly, it was enjoyed within an inch of its life. Colour: gold. Nose: I've always found these old 12s much more variable than the 8 year olds, however I'm pleased to say this is pretty full of soft waxes, ripe tropical fruits, seawater, really elegant peppery peat smoke and nicely gentle camphory and sheep wool vibes. Beautiful, old style Talisker! Mouth: good arrival, very oily and good weight in the mouth. This feeling of smoked olive oil with seawater, pink grapefruit, thick phenolics, pepper, mineral oil and a rather gravelly minerality. Also quite waxy and slightly mentholated. There's a tiny metallic glimmer of OBE, but it's very minimal. Finish: good length, crystallised exotic fruits, brittle peat smoke, pepper, smoked sea salt, dried seaweed, camphor and hessian. Comments: there's certainly a bit of batch variation in these old 12s, but when they're on form they're indubitably terrific!
SGP: 665 - 91 points.

 

 

Thanks to Iain

 

 

 

 

October 22, 2021


Whiskyfun

Zagatti

Remembering Valentino Zagatti
 

October 21, 2021


Whiskyfun

Laphroaig till the 500th, then more

I just realised that for months, our Laphroaig counter has remained frozen like winter in northern Siberia (hopefully), on 494 different expressions. Time to try to make that 500+ if you don't mind, and to find a proper glory as our #500. No worries, we've got ammo, but first, some apéritif... Expect some randomness too, as too much order can bring boredom and despair (quite). By the way, farewell John Campbell!

Bessie

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: always gauze, iodine, bandages, those forgotten hessian jute bags that were stored near the old oil tank, then rather more sweetness, maple syrup perhaps, then just the usual seawater, brine and ashes. Perhaps a little light, but appropriately medicinal. Mouth: very good, brings back memories, with gherkin brine, lapsang souchong, ashes and granny smith. The only problem is that those 40% vol. kind of kill it, as they always did since we first did wee tasting sessions opposing the 40 and the 43. Worlds apart and apologetic looks from everyone at the distillery, back in the days. The good old early Internet days, when some brands hadn't become autistic yet. Finish: nice, very Laphroaig, but disappointingly flattish, which would lead to a dry and cardboardy aftertaste. Comments: coitus interruptus, almost murder. Yet, the distillate is perfect and probably easily worth 88 when at 46% vol. Taxes? What taxes? Don't the other distillers pay taxes too?
SGP:337 - 83 points.

Laphroaig 'Quarter Cask' (48%, OB, +/-2021)

Laphroaig 'Quarter Cask' (48%, OB, +/-2021) Two stars and a half
One of the first official expressions where they cancelled the age statements and started to replace time with wood (and a higher bottling strength indeed). We had thought this was shocking back in the days, but's it true that the end results, in you glass, have been pretty pleasant. Much water has flowed under the bridge since then. Colour: gold. Nose: the 10 was tighter, this one's got more vanilla and bananas from some well-prepared American oak. That roundness first clashes a wee bit with the otherwise rather straight distillate, but all is well in the end, with some lovely medicinal tones, cough syrup, also lemon curd, some marzipan and perhaps a handful of winkles in the background, which adds to the coastalness indeed. Yep, works with cockles and clams too. Mouth: a little too sweet for me now, as if they had further cranked-up the oaky sweetness. The oak really feels, frankly. Some sour fruits. I find it hard and the little 10 really kills it now. Finish: long, too oaky, gingery, bittersweet, with a feeling of white sugar on top of that. I find it pretty dissonant. Comments: all was going well on the nose but this dissonant and 'un-married' palate just didn't work for me. We'll try to try the QC again next year, if God lets us live.
SGP:665 - 78 points.

Let's get our heads right, with…

Williamson 10 yo 2011/2021 (59.9%, Asta Morris, sherry, cask #AM083, 674 bottles)

Williamson 10 yo 2011/2021 (59.9%, Asta Morris, sherry, cask #AM083, 674 bottles) Four stars
Indeed, Williamson is Laphroaig, the name refers to legendary former manager Bessie Williamson (some say she was having an affair with a certain Dutch dentist but shh, we have no evidence). Colour: gold. Nose: but of course. Tighter, purer, pleasantly free of any excessive oak this time, all on seawater, mercurochrome, just peat smoke, seaweed smoke, lemons and gunflints. With water: sharp, millimetric, pure, smoky and medicinal. Those trademark whiffs of new Wellingtons too. Mouth (neat): it is a little sweetly creamy and rich (lemon gums, banana foam) at first but all this smoke and brine definitely save it at 60% vol. With water: further destroys the Quarter Cask, even if it is not the most complex Laphroaig ever. Purity always works. Finish: rather long, very good, with some smoked almonds coming through, as well as bitter oranges. Comments: you won't have to scratch your head here, all is well.

SGP:457 - 87 points.

Williamson 2010/2020 (52.2%, The Whisky Jury, refill barrel, cask #twj-Lph01, 230 bottles)

Williamson 2010/2020 (52.2%, The Whisky Jury, refill barrel, cask #twj-Lph01, 230 bottles) Four stars
The cask # leaves no doubts, should some have remained in our minds. Ah by the way, those Williamsons technically are blended malts. Colour: straw. Nose: even less oak, more tar, more petrol, the floor of an old garage in England, almonds, fresh walnuts, perhaps one olive, and everyone's happy. With water: embrocations. How very Laphroaig. Mouth (neat): closer to the Asta Morris, even if a little purer and tighter yet. Rhubarb juice, marzipan, liquorice wood, lemon… With water: lapsang souchong, ashes, grape pips. Finish: rather long, saltier as expected, and pretty ashy. Would you know of any cough medicine that would be salted? I mean apart from seawater? Comments: check.

SGP:457 - 87 points.

Lp12 2014/2021 (54.7%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 1672 bottles)

Lp12 2014/2021 (54.7%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, 1672 bottles) Four stars and a half
Boy was this one young! It's from 2 refill and 2 sherry hogsheads. Colour: white wine. Nose: closer to the raw distillate yet, that is to say with more tincture of iodine, creosote, hessian, seawater and kerosene. Whiffs of fresh-cut grapefruit are adding a kind of lightness. With water: bingo. Pure young Laphroaig without artifice. Utterly love these whiffs of used engine oil. Will future generation even know what engine oil was? Will they use 'recycled batteries' instead? Mouth (neat): oh well done! You feel it's young but what they've been doing with the woods managed to filter-out any unwanted roughness, without imparting any obvious 'oakiness' (as in the official QC). Very lovely, with some menthol that we hadn't encountered before, lime, agave, gentian… Me happy. With water: perfect. Stunning lemon brine, olive oil and sardines, all put together into a tin, fur future picnics 'on Laphroaig'. Finish: rather long, crystalline, perfect. Comments: the mouthfeel was perfect too. We're almost going for 90, at 6 or 7 years of age!
SGP:467 - 89 points.

Time to choose our #500…

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, for Cinzano Italy, unblended, +/- 1985) Five stars
I've tried this one before, but that was in 2004, from another bottle of course, and in the very early days of Whiskyfun. Just like that of Macallan, or say Bowmore, the reputation of Laphroaig has been built on these very old batches, in the case of Laphroaig batches of the 10 (sometimes the 15).

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, for Cinzano Italy, unblended, +/- 1985)

Colour: white wine. Nose: a walk in the woods, surrounded with pine trees, fir trees, eucalyptus, cedar… I'm not sure those trees would grow well together but there, poetic license you know. There's rather less of those tropical extravaganzas that were to be found in other versions of the 10 (Bonfanti, Filippi, Buckingham Vile…) but as far as various embrocations go, you couldn't go any farer than this. Quite some plasticine too. Having said that, I had noticed some mangos back in 2004, but these bottles have now gotten 17 years older, have they not. Mouth: no, there, maracuja and mangos, served with grapefruit and crème de menthe. Touches of sour apples too, but all in all, this old Laphroaig has evolved just like any great wine would have (albeit at a slower pace, naturally). You'll never fin this oily, tertiary kind of complexity in a 'new' bottle. Finish: medium, rather resinous, with a few lovely sappy touches, a discreet smoke and then some fat fish. Not talking about any politicians here. In the aftertaste and as almost always with these bottles, hints of old herbal liqueurs, especially chartreuse 'of course'. Comments: probably not the 'utter best' old Laphroaig 10, partly because it's got a little fragile here and there, but as they say, the legend was en route.
SGP:464 - 91 points.

Good, now that we've had our 500th, we can celebrate… (tsk-tsk, any excuses…) And since we've mentioned Bonfanti and Filippi…

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB for Bonfanti, Italy, screw cap, mid 1970s)

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB for Bonfanti, Italy, screw cap, mid 1970s) Five stars
Pure legend but we've mostly tried Bonfantis at 43% vol. So, this might be a little different… Colour: gold. Nose: I think I can hear the angels sing (but why are thy singing Frank Zappa?) Fruits and vegetables, strictly all of them, this would make Fortnum & Mason's Food Hall look ridiculous in comparison. For example, I'm finding plantain, hops, salsify, jujubes, carrots, prickly pears, papayas, citrons, eggplants, celeriac, pink bananas, avocado, pistachio, lovage, celery, chives, wee white onions, 'plane' mangos… What a soup indeed, this is simply staggering. I think I'll have to go to bed early tonight. Mouth: did you call the Anti-Maltoporn brigade yet? Starts with some unexpected raisins and dried longans, and would go on with myriads of dried, candied, stewed or preserved fruits. Actually, it is rather less on fresh tropical fruits than I remembered, but for example, these dried figs covered with salted honey and butter caramel sauce are probably more addictive than any violent and perverse series on Net-f*****g-flix. And less poisonous. Finish: medium and grand. Those dried figs again. Comments: as we've been asking before, who's broken the mould?

SGP:653 - 94 points.

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB for Filippi Import, Italy, short screw cap, late 1960s)

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB for Filippi Import, Italy, short screw cap, late 1960s) Five stars
Gasp, I think we need air… It's to be noted that the 'short screw cap' is older than the 'long screw cap'. Colour: gold. Nose: I think we'll keep this short. More mangos than on a mango tree, and more medicinal 'things' than in the basement an old abandoned hospital (on Netflix). All essential oils, plant extracts and secret ointments of the creation, some probably long-forgotten. And oh, those mangos! Mouth: floors you, literally. We've had other bottles that had gotten a little drying (remember no two bottles remain the same after so many years) but this one remained perfect, tight, fresh, and eminently mango-y. Maracuja too, dried fish, kippers, grapefruits, a little chalk, lapsang souchong, beeswax, dried longans and rambutans, raisins even… Finish: loses a bit of steam at this stage. We won't blame it. Comments: it lost one point at the finish but there is no need to throw a fit, I suppose.

SGP:654 - 93 points.

Where are we? Ah, there…

Laphroaig 'Old Scotch Whisky' (20 under proof, OB, early 1960s)

Laphroaig 'Old Scotch Whisky' (20 under proof, OB, early 1960s) Five stars
This is a first. It comes from an extremely rare miniature. Colour: gold. Nose: totally different, this time with more roots, celeriac, gentian, carrots, turnips and parsnips, also artichokes… Careful because in my meagre experience, when noses have become like this and however pleasant they may have become, the palates are often wrecked, flat, dead or even foul. Let's check that subito presto… Mouth: Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Halleeeee-lu-jah! No signs of any weaknesses, rather small citrus and dried fruits everywhere, raisins again, mulberries perhaps, figs for sure, camphor and many kinds of old cough medicines (remember, the recipes have been lost), and just, guess what, peat! Beyond that, a very lovely pine-y development, mead, fir honey, roasted pinecones, verbena, and of course, chartreuse. Finish: not that long but you could still feel 'the kiln'. No, really. The aftertaste's pretty medicinal again. Old cough syrups. Comments: what's striking when you try these glorious old malts is that nowhere do you actually feel 'oak', let alone lousy vanilla or worse, vanillin. And in the old 'sherry monsters', you do not feel wine either. Hope there wasn't one mini of this left for the whole world ;-). Incredible peatiness after so many years.

SGP:555 - 95 points.

Good, perhaps one or two newer bottlings now, before we call this a tasting session? We'd also like to revise a few old Laphroaigs Samaroli but we'll do that, say for Christmas.

Laphroaig 1991/2019 (52.1%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, refill bourbon barrel, cask #2652, 265 bottles)

Laphroaig 1991/2019 (52.1%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, refill bourbon barrel, cask #2652, 265 bottles) Five stars
With a kraken on the label. Given the nasty quality of that 'rum' also branded 'Kraken', I would have gone for a different animal instead, perhaps even a blob or a paramecium, but indeed, not my business ;-). Love our whisky friends in Taiwan! Colour: straw. Nose: the utter pleasures of refill wood, without any wood influence as such, this is only wood as 'a facilitator', not as a 'flavouring agent'. Long story short, this is pristine fresh and pure Laphroaig that's taken its time and was never rushed. Superb lemons, seawater, oysters, touch of aniseed, and just hints of caraway and juniper. Luminous and obvious (bravo, S.) With water: best of Pouilly-Fumé. I know I shouldn't always use wine references, that that's too easy, but really, I'm not finding a description better than 'Pouilly-Fumé'. Mouth (neat): fantastic, ultra-tight, salty, ueber-vertical, blade-y. Terrifyingly vertical! With water: cuts you into halves, as we sometimes say. The menthol in the background is flabbergasting too. Chalk, lemon, peat, brine, menthol. Finish: long, ultra-clean, bone-dry, with more ashes and even a feeling of carbon dust. Comments: it sure wasn't easy to come after a Cinzano, a Bonfanti and a Filippi. This wee Kraken (!) came out with a real blaze of glory.
SGP:467 - 91 points.

Another newer old one please…

Laphroaig 30 yo (53.6%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, 344 bottles, 2020)

Laphroaig 30 yo (53.6%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, 344 bottles, 2020) Five stars
There's some cocketry for sure in not stating the vintage while there obviously is one, according to the size of the batch. Or am I missing something? What's sure is that this far, this Kinship series has been nothing short of stellar. But they are humans so they could fail, I'm sure (cavernous and sardonic laughter)…  Colour: light gold. Nose: not this time, apparently. Old books, carbon paper, magazines, plasticine, wood varnish, French beans, mashed peas, carbolineum, brake fluid, kelp, peonies, hibiscus… It sure isn't your 'average' Laphroaig and some transmutations seem to have taken place, but I find this nose stunning this far. Unless it would all go pear-shaped from now on… With water: truffles, mashed potatoes, carbon, newspaper of the day, Brussels sprouts, kelp, oysters. Who said this one would be unusual? Mouth (neat): oh! It is a wrestler on the palate, with some very 'green', almost acidic arrival on concentrated lime juice, some varnish, then a loud and clear feeling of mezcal. Which, as always, leaves me speechless (who said thank God, who?) With water: stunning salty bouillons plus, once again, Pouilly-Fumé, kippers, wax, lemon, and some pink pepper in moderation. Finish: sadly. Comments: they needed 100 years to build cathedrals, you need 30 years to build great whisky. Makes sense, no?

SGP:466 - 91 points
(almost 92).

A last one for the road…

Laphroaig 18 yo 1995/2013 (58.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill bourbon barrel, #29.143, 'Finish Tar Syrup', 226 bottles)

Laphroaig 18 yo 1995/2013 (58.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill bourbon barrel, #29.143, 'Finish Tar Syrup', 226 bottles) Four stars
Finish Tar Syrup? Wouldn't that rather be Finnish Tar Syrup? I would suppose you owe me a beer next time I'm in Edin, dear SMWS! Colour: white wine. Nose: nail polish remover, plasticine, linseed oil, old tarry ropes, carbolineum, mushrooms, damp ashes, mud, plaster. In short, yet another variation on the Laphroaig theme. With water: green apples, cider apples, apple peelings, and just anything apples. Another first on WF, that's brilliant. There's less apple in proper Calvados, if you ask me. Mouth (neat): totally huuuuge! Very aggressive, acetone-y, difficult, extremely dry. Mega-smoke and ashes. Careful with my heart and palate, SMWS! With water: I would say we tamed it, but barely. I would add that you couldn't recognise the make, for it is so deviant, extreme, and, well, varnishy. Have they not rather bottled the boiler's oil by mistake? Do they now grow apple trees behind the distillery? Finish: long, ultra-tight, acetic, acidic, almost chemical at times, and greener then grass. Unexpected touches of coconut wine in the aftertaste (no, really). Comments: fun Laphroaig, totally deviant indeed, and extreme. These are not quite scorable, in truth.

SGP:475 - 85 points.

(Thank you mucho Aaron, Jon, Nick and François)

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

 

October 20, 2021


Whiskyfun

Balvenie twice

I'm not too sure, shouldn't we rather be tasting yet a new Balvenie Tun #XYZ at this time of the year? What's this lousy whisky blogger doing?
In the 2000s Balvenie used to run some 'Balvenie Guy' magazine ads and digital campains, somewhat in the style of Tanqueray's Mr Jenkins. I believe the Balvenie Guy's been sacked in the late 2000s (last tweet, may 22, 2009) ->

Balvenie 21 yo 'The Second Red Rose' (48.1%, OB, 2021)

Balvenie 21 yo 'The Second Red Rose' (48.1%, OB, 2021) Three stars
This one pays tribute to some kind of ancient Britannic female royalty and was finished for 6 months in Australian Shiraz casks. Ah-oh-hum… It's to be noted that there's been a first 'Red Rose' back in 2008, but I don't think we've ever formally tried it. I mean, shiraz/syrah in malt whisky?... Colour: gold. Nose: it is more Balvenie than Shiraz if you ask me, and-we-shall-not-complain. Plums, mirabelles, zwetschke (damson), plus vanilla and croissants au beurre, also quinces and yellow flowers as well as a little nougat and popcorn. Hurray, how very Balvenie! Mouth: you do feel an unusual peony and cherry-led spiciness at first, with wee touches of red bell pepper too, but once again Balvenie's taking over, with lovely plums coated with a little coconut and nutmeg, plus pomegranate sherbet. Yep. To be honest the whole tends to become a tad unbalanced after fifteen seconds, not too sure about this coconut either, but there, it's good fun and life needs differences. Vive les differences! Finish: medium, always with these pomegranates, this bell pepper, these touches of juniper, rosé gin… Comments: not quite for me after all, but again, it's good fun and we all need to see 'la vie en rose'. Quand il me prend dans ses bras…

SGP:651 - 82 points.

Shh, let's get serious…

Balvenie 25 yo 'Rare Marriages' (48%, OB, 2021)

Balvenie 25 yo 'Rare Marriages' (48%, OB, 2021) Four stars and a half
This is the proper new Balvenie 25, not one of those doublewoods or single barrels, you understand? Colour: gold. Nose: fully Balvenie. Touch of nail polish at first, then mirabelles and quinces, then croissant and brioche, then custard and acacia honey. That's all folks, and that was very much already. Mouth: absolutely splendid, perhaps a tad rougher than earlier vintages (the glorious 1970s) but indeed full of plums, yellow ones, green ones… Quinces are there too, sugarcane as well, tiny notes of Victoria pineapple, then just vanilla and the best part of oak. It is not a very complicated malt whisky, it's even a tad simple, but I find it epitomically Balvenie, which is enough for me. I must be on my lucky day. Finish: lovely finish, creamy, ueber-Balvenie-ish, on preserved mirabelles with just a dash of sawdust. Vanilla and barley syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: close to the core. My main problem is that I cannot not remember the early 1970s Balvenies – and the ones before. Balvenie 'As we get it' anyone? Maybe I need some kind of reset.

SGP:651 - 88 points.

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

 

October 19, 2021


Whiskyfun

Couple of Karuizawa for our cause

I was just joking, no need for a cause here. We may even do this quick and with no bells and no whistles, as Karuizawa's just like Port Ellen, we've been quietly quaffing its 'very last drops, cross my heart' since around the year 2005. Those very last drops that last and last and last and last…

Karuizawa

Karuizawa 34 yo 'Ruby Geisha' (58.5%, OB for Elixir Distillers and The Whisky Exchange, sherry, cask #3668, 247 bottles, 2021)

Karuizawa 34 yo 'Ruby Geisha' (58.5%, OB for Elixir Distillers and The Whisky Exchange, sherry, cask #3668, 247 bottles, 2021) Five stars
In theory… Colour: full gold. Nose: sometimes storytellers would claim that the best casks are bottled first, and that the chaff is bottled last. No. Cedarwood, embrocations, new tyres, sour grapefruits, green plums, a drop of benzine, furniture polish, roasted chestnuts, liquorice… With water: hold on, this is very unusual! Sauna oils, washing powder, dairy cream, Woolite, new blanket… You'd almost believe you're wandering throughout the Islay Woollen Mill. Do you know the Islay Woollen Mill? Then lime blossom and some kind of mentholy marzipan. Unusual and fun (and, I would guess, expensive).Mouth (neat): thick and tight, candied, on many tart and acidic dried and candied fruits and herbs. Angelica, lemons, kumquats… A little linseed oil floating around, perhaps wee bits of preserved artichokes, olives… With water: do not add to much water, it's not the first time I'm noticing that Karuizawa does not always swim well. No water is the best water in this case. Gets flattish and cardboardy even after just three drops of H2O. Finish: rather long, with several oils coming out, pine, thyme, eucalyptus… Comments: stunning – as long as you do not add any water, or just a tenth of a drop, if you could do that. Rather tight for a sherried Karuizawa.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

The older sister…

Karuizawa 38 yo 'Ruby Geisha' (54.1%, OB for Elixir Distillers and The Whisky Exchange, sherry, cask #7582, 223 bottles, 2021)

Karuizawa 38 yo 'Ruby Geisha' (54.1%, OB for Elixir Distillers and The Whisky Exchange, sherry, cask #7582, 223 bottles, 2021) Five stars
Colour: darker. Bronze cognac. Nose: more typically sherried Karuizawa, shock-full of oils, plasticine, ointments, Vicks Vaporub, thuja wood, very old chartreuse, also engine oil… Well this is just fantastic, classic old Karuizawa with an obvious and lovely medicinal side. With water: with just two drops, right, fool me once… well it is sauna oil galore! Plus a little miso, umami sauce, other pretty savoury things, soy, perhaps even mothballs, plasticine, new sneakers… Well this one is stunning me, really. Mouth (neat): exceptional, if a tad woody-ish. Massive marmalades and herbal syrups, huge menthol, thujone, angelica, liquorices (I've added an s because that's really various kinds, including crazy salmiak)… Extremely assertive and even dominant, the taster hasn't got much of the say here anyway. With water: oh! Please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade, would you. Like quaffing the greatest green tea ever. Finish: almost eternal. Extraordinary mentholy and medicinal finish, with an oak that's well there after 38 years but that behaves like a real marquess. Stays quiet. Do I not detect kumquats and kaffir in the aftertaste? Comments: I tried hard to keep this short and sweet. It's a stunner.
SGP:472 - 94 points.

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

 

October 18, 2021


Whiskyfun

Time for a little more Glengoyne

Always loved those stories about the Distillery being in the Highlands while the warehouses would lie opposite the road, so in the Lowlands. But I don't think the very wise owners have ever tried to play any kind of marketing spiel with that concept. Anyway, let's kick this off with a newer rendition of the popular 12…

Glengoyne
Glengoyne circa 2005 ->

Glengoyne 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2021)

Glengoyne 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars
I haven't tried the 12 since around 2012. It used to be a very good dram in my book (WF 84). Colour: straw. Nose: pure barley, with touches of citronella and even coriander leaves, a little fresh metal (iron), then wee whiffs of spent grapes (sherry?) and toasted brioche served with custard. Lovely. Mouth: typical entry-level malt whisky that's not that entry-level, sitting somewhat between Glenlivet and Glenfiddich, only with a little more tartness and more grassy herbal teas (cherry stem, peach leaves...) More oak spices tend to come out later on, making it perhaps a tad bitter(ish) and a little sour(ish). Finish: rather long, grassy, with some cinchona, some spritz, ginger beer… Comments: very good, as expected, I'm less a fan of the greeny and spicy palate. I had believed it would be a little rounder.

SGP:461 - 81 points.

Glengoyne 'The Legacy Chapter Two' (48%, OB, 1st fill oloroso sherry, bourbon and refill casks, 2020)

Glengoyne 'The Legacy Chapter Two' (48%, OB, 1st fill oloroso sherry, bourbon and refill casks, 2020) Three stars and a half
Angus had tried Chapter One and has been relatively enthusiastic (WF 85). We've lost an age statement after the 12 but we've earned 5 extra-% vol. Is that a good deal? Let's see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: not unlike the 12 but purer, kind of zestier, with an even nicer tension and more apples. We're immediately reminded of some older bottlings of young Glengoyne, with this very nice freshness. Orange salad, tarte tatin. It's less cakey than older expressions, though. Mouth: two leagues above the 12, with more roundness, maple syrup, triple-sec, butterscotch and shortbreads, apple pie, and only then a little more oak spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and white pepper). Finish: very nice, without less of the bitterish sourness that we had found in the 12. Comments: very nice indeed, but it'd rather have a full-bourbon Glengoyne. These middle-sherried drams are not always extremely fulfilling, I would say.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Perhaps an indie…

Glengoyne 19 yo 1996/2016 (55%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, Château 'Lafitte', 240 bottles)

Glengoyne 19 yo 1996/2016 (55%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, Château 'Lafitte', 240 bottles) Two stars
Ah, the Scots and the names of great wines! Eaglesome/Cadenhead/Springbank had already granted us with some 'Barollo' in the past, this time it is 'Lafitte' while the name of the real great Grand Cru of Pauillac would rather be 'Lafite'. Should we expect some Mooton, Ozone, Margot or Lattour anytime soon? Or why not How-Brion? But yeah, who cares, and what's more, the whisky isn't pink… Colour: amber. Nose: a lot of demerara sugar, tarte tatin once again, black nougat, pancake sauce, then more spices, ras-el-hanout, allspice, then savoury smells, Bovril, sweeter gravy, onion soup… That's all perfectly lovely, without any two-penny red berries from the wine. Having said that, I remember a sister batch that had been terrible on the palate, so we shall see… With water: mushrooms coming out, baked eggplants, meat, copper coins, then a little soapiness. Say Dove (yeah right). Mouth (neat): w.h.a.c.k.y. Huge pepper and ginger mixed with strawberries. Schweppes Strawberry, does that exist? Pass, and quickly… With water: nah, soap and grass all over the place, turmeric, wine gums with pepper, Kriek beer, orange skin.... Finish: rather long, with some sour spices. Comments: I'm sure some friends would have loved this but it just wouldn't work on my poor palate. In my book, this is a good example of why malt and red wine should never meet. It's me. The nose was nicer.

SGP:461 - 70 points.

Back to the OBs…

Glengoyne 36 yo 1984/2021 'Russell Family Single Cask' (50.2%, OB, refill sherry butt, cask #1549, 402 bottles)

Glengoyne 36 yo 1984/2021 'Russell Family Single Cask' (50.2%, OB, refill sherry butt, cask #1549, 402 bottles) Five stars
Once again, we have to thank the Scottish distillers and their families for being ready to part with their personal casks; how very generous, given that what's more, this baby stems from 'the slowest stills in Scotland'. Colour: deep gold. Nose: really a lot of butterscotch and roasted chestnuts at first, chestnut honey too, before Jaffa cakes and pipe tobacco would start to take over, together with a little pumpkin soup and big black raisins (Corinth). Touches of violets, liquorice and menthol, plus some beeswax and just furniture polish in the end. Rather wonderful, elegant…  With water: superb herbs, lemongrass, a wee hint of saponin, spearmint, dandelion syrup, mullein… Mouth (neat): beautifully hot given its age, with a lot of marmalade and dry white in the arrival (vin jaune), walnuts, walnut cake, Seville oranges, then touches of star anise and just yellow chartreuse. Wonderful peppery and slightly piney spiciness. With water: impeccable old vin jaune. Bags of walnuts, with flying colours, a wee touch of mustard and yellow curry, with everything perfect on all accounts. Finish: rather long, beautifully drier, with touches of muscovado and always these splendid walnuts. Old whiskies tend to get a wee tad weaker at this stage, not this one. Love these notes of Spanish ham in the aftertaste (belotta). Comments: pretty sublime old Glengoyne, matured to perfection for the beauty of sport.

SGP:561 - 91 points.

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

 

October 17, 2021


Whiskyfun

Sunday holiday
here's another little bag of (nine) rums...

 

Antilles
This and that, from everywhere in the world and with good faith.

Ron Maja 8 yo 'Anejo Autentico' (40%, OB, El Salvador, +/-2020)

Ron Maja 8 yo 'Anejo Autentico' (40%, OB, El Salvador, +/-2020) one star and a half
Anejo autentico, does that mean that this baby's been aged for 8 years indeed and that that's no fantasy statement? We've only tried one Salvadorian rum so far, a Cihuatan 15/2004 that I had found surprisingly good (WF 85). Colour: gold. Nose: whiffs of glue at fist, which is absolutely not unpleasant, then touches of Bakelite and 'new LP', with some dry molasses and a rather mild oakiness. It is a pretty light nose, certainly not as creepily heady as other South-Americans, on the contrary. Mouth: light and sadly, rather sugary. Really a lot of molasses, caramel, tourist toffee, candy sugar, corn syrup… It's not that its very bad, but it's screaming for a ton of ice. Finish: medium, more on Nescafé with a lot of white sugar inside. Coca-Cola aged in oak. Comments: party rum, I would suppose. Exactly not my definition of a malternative, but as we sometimes say, we've encountered much worse.

SGP:730 - 69 points.

Mc Explorer 2009 (43.5%, House of McCallum, Ruby Port casks finish, +/-2019)

Mc Explorer 2009 (43.5%, House of McCallum, Ruby Port casks finish, +/-2019) Three stars and a half
This an undisclosed single estate Caribbean rum done (well, selected and aged, I suppose) by some distinguished Scots, so I'm asking you, what could go wrong? Colour: apricotty. Nose: the Port is not invading all corners of this little baby, and there are pleasant notes of gasoline, fermenting cane juice, pineapples starting to rot and just liquorice. All that is pretty nice and already a little secondary. Mouth: no invasive sweetness, rather an earthy liquorice, always these notes of gasoline, overripe bananas and even touches of olives. Then molasses and coffee beans, as well as a wee bit of millionaire shortbread. Finish: medium, a little salty. All good. More liquorice and olives. Comments: an interesting little rum, very well composed. I could quaff this without a second thought.
SGP:642 - 84 points.

Let's remain in 2009…

New Grove 2009/2021 'Savoir Faire' (48%, Navigate World Whisky, Mauritius, cask #414, 294 bottles)

New Grove 2009/2021 'Savoir Faire' (48%, Navigate World Whisky, Mauritius, cask #414, 294 bottles) Four stars
A new line of spirits for South-Africa, based, as it appears, on LMDW's pillars, so to speak. Not the worst name in spirits. Colour: amber. Nose: very aromatic, with lovely whiffs of fresh-sawn hardwood, also eucalyptus, cigarettes, touches of earth, garden peat, a little varnish, then rather milk chocolate and ripe bananas and pineapples. Teak oil, sauna… Mouth: holidays in your glass. It is rich, piney, almost terpenic, with loads of liquorice, then rather mango chutney and strong honeys such as chestnut. Touches of violet sweets and old-skool herbal liqueurs. 'Liqueur hygiénique', as our ancestors used to call them. Finish: long and a little tarry, with liquorice still running the show. Dry menthol in the aftertaste. Comments: probably one of, if not the best Mauritian rum I could try until today. Superb body and liquoricy mouthfeel and a heavy-ish wood that's been very well mastered.

SGP:661 - 87 points.

Depaz 'XO' (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2021)

Depaz 'XO' (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2021) Four stars
This is a 'grande réserve', so let's treat this wee agricole with respect. Depaz is a very old company as they started making sugar as early as in 1635. The Distillery is located on the feet of the Montagne Pelée, that volcano that erupted in 1902 and totally destroyed a city of 30,000 souls. Colour: deep amber. Nose: oh so very agricole, so rather more complex than others but also a little less focussed (obviously), with orange zests and touches of camphor, soft liquorice, then damson tarte and flowers, peonies, heady wallflowers, plus some very obvious whiffs of menthol cigarettes as well as echoes of new tyres… Mouth: malty! Really, and I would suspect that comes from the wood. Other than that, some lovely orange liqueurs, pine, apple juice, even cider and applejack, cane juice, tobacco… Having said that I find the body a tiny tad thin. Once again, it is complex but it would tend to go into too many directions. Perhaps…Finish: medium, a little earthier. Dry aftertaste, oak. Comments: very good for sure, it would just lack the 'compactness' of, say a Neisson. No new Neissons currently in the boxes, most sadly… boo-hoo-hoo…

SGP:451 - 85 points.

WP Distillery 14 yo 2007/2021 (54.5%, Morisco Spirits, Jamaica)

WP Distillery 14 yo 2007/2021 (54.5%, Morisco Spirits, Jamaica) Five stars
It is pretty obvious that WP means 'Welcome Pack', no? Colour: gold. Nose: yeah smoked olives, crushed oysters, diesel oil, Tesla batteries (you have to upgrade your tasting vocabulary, don't you) and anchovies kept in vanilla-ed brine. And why not, please? With water:  same. Wonderful. Perhaps wee whiffs of vetiver? I find this rather a little sublime, you could put a few drops behind your ears before any date. Anchovies and sardines too (I mean, not before a date!) Mouth (neat): lime juice and seawater plus olive brine, cough medicine, mouthwash and custard. I'm finding rather more vanillin than in other Worthy Parks (oops). With water: perfect. There's a kind of rectitude that's more unusual in HMDN or NYTH or CLRND/MNSK, I would say. Lovely WP! Finish: long, clean, on salty lime and olive-y anchovies. Boy am I not hungry now, let's toast a few slices of rye bread… Comments: superb, just superb. Goes with the best middle-aged Islays.
SGP:463 - 90 points.

Foursquare 19 yo 'Redoutable' (61%, OB, bourbon and Madeira, Barbados, 2020)

Foursquare 14 yo 'Redoutable' (61%, OB, bourbon and Madeira, Barbados, 2020) Five stars
As old Jacko (Chirac) would have said, this is provocation! I mean, releasing a rum that's bearing the name of a French nuclear submarine, right now! May I suggest, for some next bottlings, 'Le Triomphant', 'Le Téméraire', 'Le Vigilant' or 'Le Terrible'? De nada, be my guest… Colour: amber. Nose: typically Foursquare, that is to say pretty assertive, with both a heavy-ish and a lighter style well combined, plus, as I observed several times already, something agricole. Praline, maple syrup, bananas flambéed, some softer earthiness and touches of camphor and menthol. In truth it is a little subtler than a French nuclear submarine. By the way, need one? Just ask… With water: rather a lot of wood glue, then vetiver again and again. Teak, eucalyptus wood, carbon dust, nut shells. Mouth (neat): varnish, bourbon, brine, liquorice. Nothing abnormal at 61% vol. With water: takes off now, with citrus and glues and varnishes and brines. Olives, samphire, capers, anchovies… Possibly one of my favourite Foursquares, to be honest. I enjoy heaviness (is that an official statement, S.?) Finish: very long, certainly saltier than other Foursquares. Comments: a kind of Jamaican Foursquare, hope I'm not ruffling anyone's feathers here. Rather redoutable indeed.

SGP:463 - 90 points.

Caroni 23 yo 1998/2021 (59.2%, Thompson Bros., 286 bottles)

Caroni 23 yo 1998/2021 (59.2%, Thompson Bros., 286 bottles) Four stars
Aged for 11 years in Trinidad and 12 years in the UK. Not sure anyone could tell, beyond any marketing talk and spiel, but there. Colour: amber. Nose: relatively light, varnishy, sour, with notes of Barbour grease and with very heavy terpenes as well as notes of ueber-gamey, err, game. Grouse? Extremely unusual this far. With water: pine essence, carbolineum, marrow soup, very old Spanish jabugo, plasticine, artichokes, eggplants. Extreme, really, would make any Port Ellen feel like Glenkinchie ex-refill. Mouth (neat): I don't know. Eating your rubber boots while drinking benzine. Extremely dry and challenging – the Kronos Quartet playing Captain Beefheart. With water: same, it is extreme and plastic-like. I had thought plastics would have become streng verboten? Finish: long and extremely dry. Carbon. Comments: I don't know what to say, I've lost all references. Not for the faint-hearted, that's for sure. I'll add a score because I have to, but there.
SGP:375 - 85 points.

Hampden 29 yo 1990+1992/2021 'JMH' (57.7%, Rum Sponge, Decadent Drink, Jamaica)

Hampden 29 yo 1990+1992/2021 'JMH' (57.7%, Rum Sponge, Decadent Drink, Jamaica) Five stars
A label with a sponge swimming in a muck pit. I say these labels will end up in museums, next to Brueghel, Bosch and Grünewald. You may just trash the liquid and keep the labels, that's where the real value lies. Now, since we've gone this far, I've just never, ever heard of any 'JMH' marque at Hampden. What's up, Sponge? … Colour: gold. Nose: new Pirellis. Fatter than the WP, saltier as well, more bouillony, with more varnish for sure, dead animals, barely alive vegetables, and wee whiffs of natto. Natto kills, all right? With water: carbon, olives and plastics, mixed then burned. Spread with pine needles and sriracha sauce. Mouth (neat): it's hard to fathom that this would be 30 years old, really. Heavy, salty, gritty, ueber-estery, carbony, plastic-like, extreme, I'm sure there are E.T. molecules in there. This cannot be human, let's call the Pentagon. With water: almost chemical. Exxon? Veedol? Total? The band Devo's own drink. Remember Devo? Finish: long and, curiously, a little gentler. Thanks to citrus fruit, saviours of the spirits world. But was this fuel-smoked bacon necessary in the aftertaste? Comments: utterly love this baddish eventful rum and hate the Sponge. Frank Zappa in a bottle.
SGP:474 - 90 points.

Good, a very last one, and why not make it a little classy? Old Versailles, agreed?

Versailles/Enmore 30 yo 1990/2021 (54.2%, Greenheart Collection, Guyana, 235 bottles)

Versailles/Enmore 30 yo 1990/2021 (54.2%, Greenheart Collection, Guyana, 235 bottles) Five stars
From the famous single wooden pot still that was located at Enmore when this was distilled. A.F.A.I.K. it had been at Versailles before and was then moved to Enmore, then from Enmore to Diamond. But nothing to do with the French kings, I would suppose… Now I love this very Gallic quote, 'Has God forgotten all I have done for Him?' (Louis XIV). Big head indeed, Macron is the same (saying that as an Alsatian). Anyway, back to this Versailles… Colour: straw. Nose: oh, oak shavings, charcoal, coriander, aniseed, fennel seeds, whelks and razorfish, fresh almonds and pears, rye bread, sandalwood, lemongrass… It is all extremely subtle, and indeed some kind of anti-Hampden. I cannot not think of the greatest white Pessacs. Old Laville, if that rings a bell. With water: great news, no changes whatsoever. Takes water like a champ. Sublime. Mouth (neat): but this is sublime indeed! Embrocations, all old kinds of plastics, smoked salmon, kippers, sesame, pine nuts, herbal oils, pine liqueurs, bone-dry herbal liqueur (unsweetened chartreuse), embrocations, cedarwood… My this is endless and a tribute to time. Nothing can beat time. With water: careful with water, other than that, this is perfect soft liquorice with a little mint. We need to bow. Finish: not that long but all these resins and oils are just flabbergasting. This saltiness in the aftertaste very much so as well. Comments: remember, time is a key ingredient to aged spirits, only i****s would deny that and say otherwise. As always, try to figure out who's profiting from the crime. There.

SGP:562 - 92 points.

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

 

October 15, 2021


Whiskyfun

New cats

Ardnamurchan are doing great, are they not? We'll have two of them, including an indie (by Adelphi, LOL), and then a new distillery I've never ever heard of. And I feel shame…

Inchdairnie
InchDairnie (photo InchDairnie) ->

Ardnamurchan AD/04:21 'Paul Launois Release' (57.6%, OB, 2576 bottles, 2021)

Ardnamurchan AD/04:21 'Paul Launois Release' (57.6%, OB, 2576 bottles, 2021) Four stars
This baby was finished in Champagne casks from the very good house Paul Launois in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Remember Champagne is double-fermented, first they make a 'clear' wine in cuves or sometimes oaken casks such as small foudres or even pièces, then they fill the bottles for the second fermentation. Anyway, indeed they sometimes use oak casks in Champagne. Colour: light gold. Nose: crazy Champagneness that mingles extremely well with the bready smells of the malt. Frankly, I rarely find wine finishes really good, but this time it's a hit. Mashed peas, white truffle, salsify, chardonnay, pancake, focaccia… Wow wow wow, a perfect partnership for once! With water: back to dough, bread, pumpernickel…  Mouth (neat): perhaps a little too much ginger from the oak, but other than that, and even if we may have left malt whisky territories, this tight and mineral palate is rather superb. This really is a Champagne-malt. With water: lemons, porridge and pancakes with drops of chartreuse and limoncello. Finish: long, perhaps a tad too gingery now but we shan't care. Comments: you do feel the (probably French) oak but the freshness is impeccable. Great partnership indeed, even if the pushy ginger made it lose one or two points.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

So an indie Ardnamurchan, really?

Ardnamurchan 5 yo 2015/2020 (59.3%, Adelphi with Charles Maclean, casks #332/333, 1333 bottles)

Ardnamurchan 5 yo 2015/2020 (59.3%, Adelphi with Charles Maclean, casks #332/333, 1333 bottles) Four stars
By rule, anything by or with Charles Maclean ought to be nothing but stellar. Of course Ardnamurchan and Adelphi are working hand-in-hand. Colour: deep gold. Nose: old coal stove, roasted chestnuts, garden peat, petrichor, coal tar, camphor, embrocations, pencil shavings, charcoal. Are you okay with that? With water: wood oils, thuja, new teak, whiffs of fresh yoghurt, cowshed, farmyard… Mouth (neat): extremely rich, and yet tight, ueber-lemony, gingery, with huge lemon marmalade and quite some turmeric. Tends to bite your lips, not a bad feeling mind you. With water: same-ish, just a little grassier and with even more green oak. Ginger tea all right. Finish: very long, almost acidic, with some roots, ginseng, turmeric… Lemons keep it inside the lines. The aftertaste is rather medicinal. Comments: would you believe that they wouldn't even have told you about those casks? In any case, 1333 bottles from two casks hint at butts or puncheons. Great young whisky, same score. Oh and once again, the labels are sponsored by Scottish ophthalmologists.
SGP:562 - 87 points.

And now a first…

InchDairnie 4 yo 2016/2021 'Strathenry' (60.5%, The Whisky Barrel, bourbon barrel, cask #TWB1017)

InchDairnie 4 yo 2016/2021 'Strathenry' (60.5%, The Whisky Barrel, bourbon barrel, cask #TWB1017) Four stars
This baby from Fife comes with a lot of funny mentions, such as 'Voyager 2' or a certain 'Gateway to the Ice-Giants' (what?). As for InchDairnie, a first on WF,  they say they have 'one of the most meticulously designed distillation processes in the world' while adding that 'any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.' Are we all depressed now? Seriously, let's keep an open mind, you never know and the Distillery's pretty serious and… big. By the way, Srathenry is the name of their 'blending malt'. Colour: light gold. Nose: it is a regular, nice, bready, malty, serious malt whisky. Black nougat, chicory coffee, Mars bar, butterscotch and caramel toffee. Not very singular but pretty flawless. With water: tarte tatin made with pears instead of apples. Mouth (neat): good young malt whisky with pears, caramel, panettone and then more pears. Love these pears. With water: very very good despite those meagre four years of ageing. The wood was well cared-of while the distillate seems to be both rather thick and well-carved. It is a Lowlander, mind you. Finish: medium, with touches of lemon complementing all those caramelised pears. Comments: feels like heavy char wood, while those almost Rochelt-quality pears are rather extraordinary. I'm not too fond of the blurb on the Distillery's website, but as they say in Westminster, the proof is in the pudding while the pudding is very nice. Rather impressed, I am; mind you, 4 years.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

October 2021 - part 1 <--- October 2021 - part 2 ---> November 2021 - part 1


 

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Glengoyne 36 yo 1984/2021 'Russell Family Single Cask' (50.2%, OB, refill sherry butt, cask #1549, 402 bottles) 

Laphroaig 'Old Scotch Whisky' (20 under proof, OB, early 1960s)

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, for Cinzano Italy, unblended, +/- 1985)

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB for Filippi Import, Italy, short screw cap, late 1960s)

Laphroaig 10 yo (40%, OB for Bonfanti, Italy, screw cap, mid 1970s)

Laphroaig 1991/2019 (52.1%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, refill bourbon barrel, cask #2652, 265 bottles)

Laphroaig 30 yo (53.6%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, 344 bottles, 2020)

Mortlach 31 yo 1987/2018 (54%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry hogshead, batch #18/061, 200 bottles)

Karuizawa 34 yo 'Ruby Geisha' (58.5%, OB for Elixir Distillers and The Whisky Exchange, sherry, cask #3668, 247 bottles, 2021)

Karuizawa 38 yo 'Ruby Geisha' (54.1%, OB for Elixir Distillers and The Whisky Exchange, sherry, cask #7582, 223 bottles, 2021)

Domaine de Baraillon 1989/2021 'Folle Blanche 100%' (44.9%, OB for Authentic Spirits, Bas-armagnac, 288 bottles)

Foursquare 14 yo 'Redoutable' (61%, OB, bourbon and Madeira, Barbados, 2020)

Hampden 29 yo 1990+1992/2021 'JMH' (57.7%, Rum Sponge, Decadent Drink, Jamaica)

Versailles/Enmore 30 yo 1990/2021 (54.2%, Greenheart Collection, Guyana, 235 bottles)

WP Distillery 14 yo 2007/2021 (54.5%, Morisco Spirits, Jamaica)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
@