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Serge whiskyfun

 

Tasting notes:
Whiskies 11,987
Other spirits 1,095

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (41) - Aberlour (91)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (2
6)
An Cnoc (
20)
Ardbeg (3
51) - Ardmore (64)
Arran (
80) - Auchentoshan (88)
Auchroisk (2
7) - Aultmore (41)
Balblair (72) - Balmenach (35)
Balvenie (
83) - Banff (46)
Ben Nevis (
97)
Ben Wyvis (
2)
Benriach (
157) - Benrinnes (46)
Benromach (
51) - Bladnoch (54)
Blair Athol (
50) - Bowmore (411)
Braes of Glenlivet (
34)
Brora (
117)
Bruichladdich (2
29)
Bunnahabhain (
243)
Caol Ila (452)
Caperdonich (
81)
Cardhu (
31) - Clynelish (306)
Coleburn (
15)
Convalmore (1
8)
Cragganmore (
62)
Craigduff (3) - Craigellachie (
49)
Dailuaine (52) - Dallas Dhu (35)
Dalmore (96) - Dalwhinnie (24)
Deanston (26) - Dufftown (48)

Edradour (55)
Imperial (64) - Inchgower (44)
Inverleven (20)
Isle of Jura (96)

Kilchoman (30)
Kilkerran (
11) - Kinclaith (7)
Kininvie
(3)
- Knockando (
31)
Ladyburn (10) - Lagavulin (114)
Laphroaig (359) - Ledaig (90)
Linkwood (121) - Littlemill (101)
Loch Lomond (33)
Lochside (65)
Longmorn (182) - Longrow (62)

Macallan (254) - Macduff (62)
Mannochmore (2
7)
Millburn (
21)
Miltonduff (
55) - Mortlach (153)
Mosstowie (1
9)
Oban (25) - Octomore (14)
Old Fettercairn (28)
Old Pulteney (71)

Scapa (36) - Speyburn (28) - Speyside (16)
Springbank (2
49)
St-Magdalene (46)
Strathisla (
92) - Strathmill (26)
 
 
Pete and Jack



2016
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2015
December 1 - 2
November 1 - 2
October 1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2014
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1- 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2013
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2012
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2011
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2010
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2009
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2008
Music Awards
December
1 - 2 - 3
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2007
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2 - 3
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
Feis Ile
Special
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2006
Music Awards
December 1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2 - 3
September
1 - 2
August
1 - 2
July
1 - 2
June 1 - 2
Feis Ile
Special
May
1 - 2
April
1 - 2
March
1 - 2
February
1 - 2
January 1
- 2

2005
Music Awards
December 1 - 2
November 1 - 2
October
1- 2
September
1 - 2
August
1 - 2
July
1 - 2
June
1 - 2
Feis Ile
Special
May
1 - 2
April
1 - 2
March
1 - 2
February
1 - 2
January
1 - 2

2004
December 1 - 2
November 1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September
1
August
1
July
1
June
1
May
1
April 1
March 1
February
1
January
1

No archives for 2002-2003

 
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All the linked files (mp3, video, html) are located on free commercial or non-commercial third party websites. Some pictures are taken from these websites, and are believed to be free of rights, as long as no commercial use is intended.

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Copyright Serge Valentin,
Nick Morgan,
Kate Kavanagh

2002-2016


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August 31, 2016


Whiskyfun

Bruichladdich’s Spanish wines

Of course not ‘wine’ as such, but The Laddie’s always been good at using the most unusual wine casks. If you want to learn more about the wines of the world, either you buy Parker’s (or Johnson’s, or Robinson’s) books, or you browse Bruichladdich’s back catalogue. Ha!

Bruichladdich 23 yo 1992/2015 ‘Douglas Clyne’ (48.9%, OB, valinch, bourbon/Figuero, cask #009 R09/125, 396 bottles) Two stars and a half Douglas Clyne is Bruichladdich’s engineer and Figuero is a well-know winemaker from Spain (Ribera del Duero). Most probably tempranillo. Colour: amber with orange hues. Nose: you’re nosing a blend of Hungarian Tokaji and Pedro Ximenez, with bags of raisins and overripe and dried figs and bananas. No ‘red’ notes that I can get, greatest of news. It seems that this finished worked. Mouth: rather weirder, but that was to be expected. Swiss cheese, blackberries, double cream, pipe tobacco, and simply ‘wine’. We’re quite far from Scotch whisky now, we’re almost close to brandy de Jerez, but without any added sugar. Which is fun, of course. Finish: long, spicier. Speculoos at cask strength (what?) and pencil shavings. That’s probably some European oak speaking. Comments: as they say, for the whisky enthusiast that already has everything. A rather good deviant dram – or winesky. SGP:561 - 79 points.

Bruichladdich 11 yo 2005/2016 (57.2%, Claxton’s, Rioja wine cask, cask #1605-1052)

Bruichladdich 11 yo 2005/2016 (57.2%, Claxton’s, Rioja wine cask, cask #1605-1052) Three stars So after Ribera, Rioja. According to the colour, it’s red Rioja, so probably tempranillo-led as well. Colour: amber/apricot. Nose: love Claxton’s new series, but this is a little hard. There are more used matches than in a boy scout’s pocket at first nosing, although that aspect tends to blend well with a cake-y and nutty side after just ten seconds. Oh and with plenty of walnuts, limey earth, and garden peat. And Cuban cigars. Well, it does grow on you, I have to say. With water: brand new leather, more used matches, and a funny gamy/smoky side, but after almost ten minutes, you’ll find some fresher fruity notes. A blueberry pie, perhaps (watch your teeth). Mouth (neat): a very spicy, and very strange arrival, quite un-whisky again. A lot of barbecued bacon, then fresh blackcurrant nectar, then various peppers, including green pepper. I find this rather appealing, given the unlikely pedigree. With water: cheese fondue and cigars. Much nicer than it sounds! Finish: long, on pretty much the same flavours. A little Cherry Coke? (apologies, I did not want to hurt anybody within the Scottish whisky industry). Comments: a ‘funny’ experimental premix that rather worked, in my opinion. SGP:451 - 81 points.

(thanks a lot Tom)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Bruichlladdich I've tasted so far

 

 

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August 30, 2016


Whiskyfun

Little duets, today oloroso Glendronach

It seems that the older vintages are almost gone, but on the other hand, the younger ones are quite good as well. Pretty pretty good… (indeed I’m a Larry David fan). Oh and I’m much more for oloroso than for PX! Just saying…

Glendronach 19 yo 1995/2015 (54.6%, OB, for Taiwan, oloroso sherry puncheon, cask #5086, 607 bottles)

Glendronach 19 yo 1995/2015 (54.6%, OB, for Taiwan, oloroso sherry puncheon, cask #5086, 607 bottles) Five stars Indeed a puncheon is a very large cask – and Taiwan is getting just mad with anything malt whisky. Well-done Taiwan! Colour: amber. Nose: my they do the olorosos well! Leather and cigars, then walnut wine and marmalade, then raisins and menthol liquorice, then polished oak. As expected, this baby’s got all going on. With water: perfect. Did anyone ever tried to add Cuban tobacco to chocolate? Instead of just nuts or raisins? Mouth (neat): very very good, and not stuffy/olorosoed, so rather fresh, starting with bitter oranges and cracked pepper, going on with some bitter chocolate and fruitcake, and becoming rather raisiny then. Our beloved large black Corinthians. With water: swims extremely well. Gets fruitier and fresher, not something that happens very often with oloroso monsters. Truth is, this isn’t quite an oloroso monster. Finish: rather long, fresh, with raisins and marmalade plus a drop of old armagnac. Comments: firmly in old Mac territories. Who goes hunting loses his place. SGP:651 - 90 points.

Glendronach 18 yo 1993/2011 (54.9%, OB, oloroso, cask #1, 509 bottles)

Glendronach 18 yo 1993/2011 (54.9%, OB, oloroso, cask #1, 509 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: almost coffee. Nose: chocolates of various kinds and origins, plus a little game, marc, beef bouillon, and hashish. In a way, its rather narrow, but it’s perfectly narrow. Ah yes, and bone marrow. With water: nosing a box of cigars, more or less. Mouth (neat): rather rougher and less immediately pleasant than on the nose, thanks to a gritty/grassy side that’s a little troubling. Well, not quite but it’s a little tannic perhaps, as in over-infused tea. All the rest is pretty great. Coffee. With water: very good, should I add ‘of course’. Toffee, coffee, chocolate, and raisins. The tannicity has been diluted. Finish: long, rather more on liquorice, with a little mint in the aftertaste that just cleans your palate. Comments: another faultless oloroso-ed Glendronach. The 1995 was a little fresher and maltier, hence a marginally higher score. SGP:551 - 89 points.

We’ve got bags of other sherried Glendronachs yet to taste, but that’ll happen later.

(and thank you, Joy and Nicolas)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Glendronach I've tasted so far

 

 

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August 29, 2016


Whiskyfun

Young Craigellachie and Glenallachie

Not sure this session will make any sense, but I thought trying a young Craigellachie and a young Glenallachie together would be funny, since both distilleries share similar names. I mean, seen from Alsace, after all they both end with ‘llachie’ (new lows, S., new lows…) Oh well, let’s just try them…

Glenallachie 7 yo 2008/2016 (46%, Hunter Laing, Hepburn’s Choice, refill sherry hogshead, 301 bottles)

Glenallachie 7 yo 2008/2016 (46%, Hunter Laing, Hepburn’s Choice, refill sherry hogshead, 301 bottles) Four stars Colour: dark gold. Nose: a dry and walnutty sherry kicks in first, with some tobacco and a little leather as well as an earthy touch, then we rather find raisins and dried dates filled with marzipan. I cannot see who would be against this. Mouth: creamy, starting sweeter, quite rich yet not fat, with rather more spices and bitter oranges, then walnut wine, more leather, and more tobacco. There’s quite some nutmeg and cinnamon cake (have to try to bake that one day). Finish: medium, with a pleasant feeling of café latte and even mocha, and rather pepper in the aftertaste while the coffee never quite gave up. Comments: everything works, with a sherry that manages to make this baby taste rather older than it is. SGP:451 - 85 points.

Craigellachie 9 yo 2006/2016 (57%, Carn Mor, Celebration of The Cask for The Whisky Shop Dufftown, 10th Anniversary, bourbon, cask #9006914)

Craigellachie 9 yo 2006/2016 (57%, Carn Mor, Celebration of The Cask for The Whisky Shop Dufftown, 10th Anniversary, bourbon, cask #9006914) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: a few spirity notes flying around at first nosing (plum eau-de-vie), but a grassy maltiness is soon to kick in and to put things straight. A little leather too, then fruit peelings. Melons, apples… With water: more raw malt, muesli, and even a little chalk. A lot of barley, which we just cannot not enjoy. Mouth (neat): bonbons and jelly babies, all flavours included, from grapefruit to pineapple via blackcurrant. It’s a little ‘spritzig’ as well, but that’s not unpleasant. Also rhubarb, lemon, and kiwi. With water: lemon squash sweetened with agave syrup and honey, plus a dash of white pepper. Finish: medium, fresh and fruity. A western orchard in June rather than in July or August. The malted barley is back in the aftertaste. Comments: both whiskies were very different, but quality levels were totally similar. Let’s not try to be smart, same very good score. SGP:641 - 85 points.

 

 

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August 28, 2016


Whiskyfun

White rhums agricoles on Sunday

We’re still in summer mode, so let’s have a little white rum. In my meagre experience, rum has to be quite ‘congeneric’ to be interesting when white, that is to say to come from pot stills or Creole columns. Anything from multiple-column distilleries is boring at best when white (and sometimes brown, agreed). Mind you, it’s almost always pure flavourless ethanol. There’s rum and there’s rum, as we all know. Anyway, let’s see what we can find… Rhum agricole should be a safe bet, even if apparently, agricole only makes for around 3% of all rums sold in the world. Oh and please note that most good white rhums agricoles are bottled at 50 or 55% vol., so, let’s be careful…

Saint Aubin ‘1819’ (50%, OB, Mauritius, agricole, +/-2015)

Saint Aubin ‘1819’ (50%, OB, Mauritius, agricole, +/-2015) Three starsThis one’s actually agricole, so from cane juice rather than molasses, in the French tradition. Colour: white. Nose: it’s very ‘natural’, totally grassy, with an obvious briny side and this great ‘dirty’ feeling that mostly comes from these artisanal kinds of rum. A rather rough rhum agricole, but that’s what we enjoy. Mouth: a bittersweet arrival, with a great salinity and a lovely cane juice/grapefruit combination. I’m also finding a little caraway, sloe, and juniper. Some pepper striking in the back of your palate. Finish: long, perhaps a tad too spirity, but these rums are not meant to be sipped ‘like that’. Comments: this session starts well. Some characterful agricole from l’Île Maurice! SGP:362 - 80 points.

Depaz ‘Blanc’ (50%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2015)

Depaz ‘Blanc’ (50%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2015) Two stars and a halfYou wouldn’t imagine how many hectolitres of this are quaffed on the island, usually as ‘Ti-punch’. Colour: white. Nose: a richer, more aromatic white rhum agricole, with more bananas and plain cane juice. Lovely whiffs of angelica and lemon balm, plus green olives and freshly cut pineapples. Perfect balance, this is high-quality quality distillate! Mouth: it’s got this soapy side that’s consubstantial to this style, then rather some lavender sweets, as well as a little mint (drops). Other than that, it’s just a cane-y explosion. Finish: long, grassier, with a soapiness that’s perhaps a little too obvious now. But other that that, it’s very fine. Comments: expectedly nice and really characterful again. SGP:462 - 79 points.

Saint James ‘Fleur de Canne’ (50%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2015)

Saint James ‘Fleur de Canne’ (50%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2015) Two stars and a half This is a limited edition – but we all know that that doesn’t mean much, don’t we. Colour: white. Nose: rather different, more coastal, with some soot and some oysters, as well as quite some shoe polish, like in a great Alsatian Riesling from around Hunawihr or Riquewihr. Like this, really like this… Mouth: we’re closer to the Depaz, with pineapples and lavender sweets, but also notes of gin. I guess that’s what I was calling ‘soapy’ before. Juniper. Finish: long, and even more ‘junipery’. Some spices as well, mulled wine, speculoos, lemon… Grittier and hotter aftertaste. Comments: less earthy/grassy, but not less characterful. There’s really something happening in these white agricoles. SGP:451 - 78 points.

Fighting Spirit Blue (50%, Chantal Comte, Martinique, agricole, +/-2015)

Fighting Spirit Blue (50%, Chantal Comte, Martinique, agricole, +/-2015) Two stars This one comes from Distillerie du Simon, where they distil for HSE and Clément if I’m not mistaken. Chantal Comte is an French independent bottler. Colour: white. Nose: almost the same as the Saint James, while both do not come from the same distillery. Perhaps a tad dustier? Notes of plain sugar. Mouth: rather better, a little sweetish, and perhaps a little rough as well. Lacks the depth that the other ones had. A little lemon liqueur? Ginger? Finish: medium, a little indefinite. Nicer touches of tangerines in the aftertaste. Comments: less well-chiselled and less deep than the others, but yeah, quite good. Too expensive at 40-45 Euros, though. SGP:451 - 75 points. And since we were talking about HSE…

HSE ‘Cuvée Titouan Lamazou’ (50%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2015)

HSE ‘Cuvée Titouan Lamazou’ (50%, OB, Martinique, Agricole, +/-2015) Four starsTitouan Lamazou is a French sailor that won many races such as the Vendée-Globe. He’s also an excellent writer and artist, you should check his drawings. Colour: white. Nose: it might be the same juice, but I like this much better than the Fighting Spirit, it’s fresher and deeper at the same time, with notes of agave (I know) and cane juice, lemon, seaweed, grassy earth… Lovely nose, really. Mouth: superb mezcaly white rum, earthy, very fresh, very slightly smoky, very pure and zesty… It’s really lovable spirit. I’m asking you, who needs oak? Finish: medium, fresh, even more on cane juice. Stunning rooty aftertaste, mezcal-like indeed. Comments: I’m going to buy a bottle. Well done, HSE! SGP:462 - 86 points.

We’ve got many more, but perhaps a last one, from Guadeloupe this time…

Karukera ‘Rhum Blanc’ (50%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, +/-2015)

Karukera ‘Rhum Blanc’ (50%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, +/-2015) Two stars This is pure blue cane rhum from the Domaine de Marquisat Sainte Marie, exactly where Christopher Columbus set foot quite a long time ago (thanks Alexandre!). It belongs to Longueteau. Colour: white. Nose: it’s a bit fatter, less pure in a way, with more earthy aromas, and more spices as well. Notes of fresh butter with bits of seaweed, as Monsieur Bordier is making. Great butter! Now it hasn’t quite got the entrancing brightness of the HSE. Mouth: quite brutal and rough, with something medicinal, some earth, some dust, many spices (juniper and cloves), and quite some cinnamon, which is uncommon in unaged spirits. Harder to pin down.  Finish: long, earthier, and still quite spicy. Comments: loses you a bit, this is perfect material for ageing in wood, IMHO. As a white, it may lack cleanliness and ‘zing’. SGP:361 - 74 points.

Wait, do you have three extra-minutes? Why not try another Guadeloupe? Or rather a Marie-Galante where, according to this humble taster, they make the best of the best?

Père Labat ‘50°’ (50%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, +/-2015)

Père Labat ‘50°’ (50%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, +/-2015) Four stars How can anyone not love this immaculate label? I’m sure Kazimir Malevich would have approved. Colour: white. Nose: yess. Extremely pure, and yet deep and wide, and yet simple and millimetric. Are you following me? In fact, it’s totally on sugar cane juice. Grass, earth, lime, olives, tar. Mouth: oh totally perfect! Same extremely high quality as the HSE, only even brighter, further chiselled, and purer. Ashes, a wee touch of eucalyptus, three olives, and please no gin, thanks. Finish: long, ultra-clean, superb. Celeriac. Leaves your mouth as clean as a baby’s, which is a little dangerous since the next think you want is another glass of the same. And then another. And then… Comments: this is funny, I quite like the Père Labat 40° (WF 78) but this 50° is in a whole different league in my opinion. Okay, same score as the HSE. SGP:462 - 86 points.

Oh well, while we are at it…

Nine Leaves ‘Clear’ (50%, OB, Japan, +/-2015)

Nine Leaves ‘Clear’ (50%, OB, Japan, +/-2015) Pot still rum from Japan, made out of Japanese brown sugar, not out of cane juice, so it may not belong here. But who sets the rules? I do! I have to say Nine Leaves’ Almost Spring had left me totally cold last year (20 points-cold, actually), but a wise man changes his mind sometimes, a fool never. So… Colour: white. Nose: much shier than the Père Labat, and probably much less cane-y. Pretty delicate but really, it does not talk much, unless you give it a lot of time and attention. Perhaps cut green pears, perhaps fresh asparagus. And surely a touch of fennel and aniseed. Actually, it grows on you! Mouth: ah but this is nice! Aniseed and fennel-forward again, then a little eau-de-vie-ish (williams pears, plums), becoming a little more spirity after a few seconds, losing definition and focus. Finish: yes, that’s where it loses it. Too spirity for me. Comments: certainly much better than the ‘Almost Spring’ that we had tried, but indeed, after the agricoles, it’s getting tough… SGP:441 - 65 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all rums I've tasted so far

 

 

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August 25, 2016


Whiskyfun

Little duets, today Imperial

Yes, again. The former hidden gem is becoming more and more cult as several indies are issuing very good (and very fruity) expressions. Signatory Vintage, for example…

Imperial 20 yo 1995/2016 (50.8%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #50252, 232 bottles)

Imperial 20 yo 1995/2016 (50.8%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #50252, 232 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: ah, this one is particularly mineral and even chalky, and perhaps less a fruit bomb than other 1995s from the same excellent bottlers. It’s even, as they now say in wine, rather saline. There’s also a little rubbed mint and perhaps notes of band-aid, as well as a good deal of cut grass. So, rather more austere than others, with rather green plums at the fruit department. With water: gets a little rounder and easier, with ‘sweeter’ fruits. My beloved mirabelles! Orange juice. Mouth (neat): more fruits! Lemon-forward muesli or something, many acidic fruits (green gooseberries and greengages), and a tart, rather biting side that certainly not unpleasant. Did they distil muscadet? With water: once again it gets rounder, without losing its lovely vivacity. Finish: medium, zesty, citrusy… Grassier aftertaste. Comments: another ‘wine malt’. If you like them ‘angular and chiselled’ as much as this little taster… SGP:561 - 88 points.

Let’s find another interesting indie in the Imperial pigeonhole, perhaps one that’s rather younger…

Imperial 15 yo 1996/2011 (51.3%, Duncan Taylor, Dead End Whisky Club, hogshead, sherry octave finish) Three stars Sorry, no picture. Colour: dark gold. Nose: traces of oak flying around, plus many raisins and notes of earl grey tea, with this chalkiness again in the background, as well as marmalade. With water: awesome. I’m not too fond of all these octaves, they often display much pencil shaving and other woody aromas, but this time it works very well. Chartreuse aged in American oak, or something… But it soon goes towards butterscotch. Mouth (neat): very rich, raisiny and oaky, lemony… Grapefruit and tobacco. With water: the herbal side comes to the front. Oak-aged chartreuse again, but the oak got a little too loud this time. ‘Sawdusty’. Finish: rather long, with oak tannins and a lot of tea. Pepper, cinnamon. Comments: I had it at a rather high score for a while, but water makes the oak stand out on your palate. A solid bottle nevertheless. SGP:461 - 80 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Imperial I've tasted so far

 

 

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August 24, 2016


Whiskyfun

Little duets, today 40 yo Speyside

You know them, some are said to be Glenfarclas, others Cragganmore, and sometimes even the bottlers have no clues. Seriously, yes, even after five beers at the bar! But they’re often wonderful…

William Cadenhead Speyside 40 yo (40.2%, Cadenhead, 2016)

William Cadenhead Speyside 40 yo (40.2%, Cadenhead, 2016) Four stars and a half A single malt, said to come from that classy Speyside distillery near where Bob Dylan has (or had?) a house. No, that’s not Malibu… Colour: straw. Nose: oh, typical old cask that ‘went down’ quite a lot, but without having gotten flabby or simply dead. One aroma I often find in these old whiskies is bananas. Other than that, we have herbs (verbena, wormwood) and assorted overripe apples. It’s pretty delicate and indeed lightish, let’s hope it won’t sink on our palates. Mouth: it does not, thanks to some rather marvellous fruits that do fight the obvious oak (tea) and keep the whole afloat. Overripe apples again, bananas again (and touches of mangos), some marzipan, and perhaps a spoonful of chestnut purée, with this light tannicity. Finish: medium, with the oak starting to dominate (green spices, banana skin). But it never gets drying. Comments: the equivalent of some old chardonnay that’s still got all its teeth. Meursault, there. SGP:451 - 88 points.

Speyside Region 40 yo 1975/2016 (55%, The Whisky Agency, fino butt, 389 bottles)

Speyside Region 40 yo 1975/2016 (55%, The Whisky Agency, fino butt, 389 bottles) Five stars TWA and affiliated sub-bottlers often have great old undisclosed Speysiders, this should be no exception. Colour: gold. Nose: awesome. Mandarins and citrons at first, with a funny metallic side (tin box), then some fantastic notes of angelica and rhubarb, as well as very vivid whiffs of a great kirsch. Really very cherry and almond-like. And beyond that, some perfect notes of earthy tea, pu-erh style. An amazing nose, really. With water: extraordinarily mossy and ‘foresty’. Lime and moss, fern, mushrooms… And the subtlest pipe tobacco ever. Stunned. Mouth (neat): malt whisky, seriously? This is some superb old Domfrontais calvados that’s been either mis-stenciled or mislabelled, I’m dead sure about that. Can we see the papers? Fabulous notes of apples and pears of the highest grades. With water: exactly, Domfrontais. Probably pre-war. Please call the anti-calvadosporn brigade! Finish: as often with these old spirits, the finishes are a little less entrancing because the oak is finding its way. But still, it’s excellent, on… old apples! Comments: I find this one totally exceptional. It’s also true that I love a good fino – and a great old calvados. Very well done, Whisky Agency! SGP:551 - 93 points.

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August 23, 2016


Whiskyfun

Perhaps a few Teaninich for a change

Teaninich is a huge distillery, and yet not many people know about it. Let’s have a wee bunch, and see what we can find in the ‘Teaninich’ pigeonhole in our sample library... We’ll try to tackle several decades…!

Teaninich 8 yo 1996/2005 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, sherry)

Teaninich 8 yo 1996/2005 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, sherry) Three stars and a half Similar label. A wee bottling for France. What’s good is that it was unchill-filtered and very pale, so probably very ‘natural’, let’s see… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: raw and grassy. Porridge and leaves, aspirin tablets, grapefruit skins, cut grass, wet newspapers… Not the fruitiest malt whisky ever so far, but ‘it talks’. Mouth: good malty grassy arrival, then grapefruit juice, lime, barley, Schweppes, and a little pinesap. Very austere, but ‘close to the barley’, which we enjoy. No make-up whatsoever. Finish: rather long given the strength, grassy, leafy, very dry. Some wholegrain bread in the aftertaste. Comments: pure malt whisky, perhaps akin to what they were making in the Highlands, in the 19th century. Good and, above everything, utterly ‘honest’. SGP:361 - 83 points.

Teaninich 18 yo 1984/2003 (59%, Dun Bheagan, cask #5946, 642 bottles)

Teaninich 18 yo 1984/2003 (59%, Dun Bheagan, cask #5946, 642 bottles) Four stars Dun Bheagan is a brand by Ian McLeod that used to be quite big in France ten or fifteen years ago. I wouldn’t say we’re seeing many of them these days. Colour: gold. Nose: oh, an awesome sharp sherriness, full of oranges, mustard, pepper, and even wasabi. Coal, ink, more very dry stuff… And a lot of earth. With water: gets even earthier. A walk in a forest, with oranges in the pockets. But why would anyone do that? Mouth (neat): really, a lovely peppery and orange-y attack, dry, sharp, mustardy… Notes of blood oranges on top of that. With water: it’s rather the leathery side that comes to the front, which isn’t quite as good. Very oily mouth feel. Finish: long, bitterish, bitter oranges, leather, pepper, raisins... Comments: I had first thought it would be magic, but it’s just very good. SGP:461 - 85 points.

Teaninich 27 yo 1983/2011 (56.9%, Signatory Vintage, refill butt, cask #8074, 389 bottles)

Teaninich 27 yo 1983/2011 (56.9%, Signatory Vintage, refill butt, cask #8074, 389 bottles) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: this one’s extremely mineral, I’d even call it stone-y, with some limestone, wet rocks, then some diesel oil and engine oil, before a few fruits are joining in the dancing, especially white peaches. This is very different, and probably more complex. The wonders of good refill wood. With water: fern, kelp, moss, rubbed leaves. Supreme grassiness. Mouth (neat): I find this exceptional, almost peaty, very mineral, dry, lemony, with a mushroomy side and perhaps some seaweed. Ex-Islay cask? That wouldn’t surprise me. With water: totally impressive. I’m not saying it’s not the distillate, but this sure was a magical cask. One of the most ‘old Highlands’ kind of Teaninichs I’ve ever tried. Finish: long, very precise and austere, absolutely wonderful. Smoky aftertaste (no, seriously, ex-Islay cask?) Comments: to write that this came as a surprise would be an understatement. Super high-class and one of my favourite Teaninichs ever. Agreed, not that I’ve tried hundreds of them… SGP:463 - 91 points.

Perhaps another 1983?

Teaninich 32 yo 1983/2015 (47.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, Gold Label)

Teaninich 32 yo 1983/2015 (47.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, Gold Label) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. I so totally love it when such old whiskies are as pale as this. Nose: ooh, this is… Silent. I mean, not totally silent, but it whispers, it speaks low, it’s shy, we should not brutalise it. Cut cactus? Moss? Paraffin? Lamp oil? Damp hay? Gravel? It’s either extremely subtle, or… dead. Let’s see… Mouth: not dead, not dead at all. Old limoncello, citrons, celery (never found this much celery in a malt whisky), fennel, verbena… So it got very herbal, yet not sharp, amazingly fresh given the age, and what I especially enjoy is the way it turns almondy. Barley water. Finish: surprisingly long, citrusy and candied, with a paraffiny background that’s totally not a flaw in this context. A funny medicinal side in the aftertaste. Camphor, balms, oils… Comments: only time can gives this to whisky – and us. This baby was fragile at times, but it’s, say luminous side totally saved it. SGP:461 - 88 points.

Twelve years earlier…

Teaninich 35 yo 1971/2006 (45%, Samaroli, cask #3574)

Teaninich 35 yo 1971/2006 (45%, Samaroli, cask #3574) Three stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: similar territories, except that this is more almondy, more phenolic, even earthier, and oh-so-subtle. In truth, I guess this cask was provided by W.M. Cadenhead. Bandages, tiger balm, embrocations, crushed mint leaves, barley water, wild thyme, borage, tea, thin mints… The problem is that with a nose such as this one, the palate could be weak and flabby… Mouth: indeed. Not that it’s weak, but it lost focus and ‘cohesiveness’. Bits and pieces everywhere, such as this ham, or this lemon, and a grassy oakiness that makes it a tad drying. But it’s still very good, do not get me wrong. Finish: rather long, but dry, grassy, with some green oak. Comments: I’m sure it was way better ten years before. When would that have been? 1996? SGP:351 - 84 points.

Perhaps a very last one, what do you think? And since this have become a verticale, well…

Teaninich 20 yo 1957/1977 (80° proof, Cadenhead, black dumpy)

Teaninich 20 yo 1957/1977 (80° proof, Cadenhead, black dumpy) Four stars and a half Not the first time I’m trying this baby, but I never quite managed to give it enough time – and attention. Colour: pale gold. Nose: dry and leafy, with whiffs of lamp oil, sesame oil, cut grass, metal polish, paraffin again (and again), bresaola, Grisons meat, cigars that got dry, charcoal… It’s well in the style of these old dumpies, with this metallic side (that may have come from the caps, agreed), but this works like Marcel Proust’s Madeleine. Happy memories, with many friends involved! Mouth: it’s well alive, supremely waxy, peppery, orange-y, slightly medicinal, becoming peppery and grassy. There’s even a little salt. It’s just not too complex – while complexity’s the supreme standard in our little book. Finish: pretty long, a little coarse, grassy, with a waxy/soapy side. Comments: quite brilliant, just not totally flabbergasting. Perhaps a little too dry. SGP:362 - 89 points.

Oh while we are at it, we could as well quickly try the 22 yo again, what do you say?...

Teaninich 22 yo 1957/1979 (80° proof, Cadenhead, black dumpy)

Teaninich 22 yo 1957/1979 (80° proof, Cadenhead, black dumpy) Five stars You’ll have noticed that the age statement lies on the neck label this time, while it was on the main label with the 20 years old. Tiny things, salt of our lives, as they say in Goa. Colour: pale gold. Nose: wait, this is superior. It is finer, with flowers, waxes, and many very complex citrusy things. Old sauvignon blanc, for instance, or top dry riesling. Exceptional grapefruits. Oh that will be enough. Mouth: supreme indeed. Bone dry whites, lemons, lime, grapefruits, herbs… You don’t need a novel, do you? I'm not fool enough to try to write one in French, let alone in my lousy globbish… Finish: long, magnificently citrusy and mineral. All ‘green’ peppers of the creation in the aftertaste. Comments: the 22 beats the 20 fair and square. See, age does matter. SGP:462 - 92 points.

(Merci Alain, Angus, Antoine, Diego, Joeri, and Max)

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August 22, 2016


Whiskyfun

A short verticale of Glenturret

Glenturret’s made in the far-east. The far-east of Scotland, that is. In my experience, it’s a singular malt, and several bottlings done in the 1980s and 1990s have been very, say eccentric, and sometimes even quite weird. But things have changed and I’ve tried some very excellent recent Glenturret. Let’s check a few more…

Glenturret 2002/2015 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, The MacPhail’s Collection)

Glenturret 2002/2015 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, The MacPhail’s Collection) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: starts with buttered parsley or something like that, goes on with some coal dust covered with lemon cream (but who would do that, S.?) and keeps going on with whiffs of damp wine cellar, with a musty side and quite some old wood. Saltpetre. A little cumin in the back of the background. Mouth: very nice, unusual and interesting, with a spicy combo that’s quite, well, unusual. Spiced chocolate (they make some excellent spiced chocolate in Spain), cloves, cracked pepper, more cumin, thyme… In fact, I’ve rarely seen this much thyme in malt whisky. The whole works well, it’s a very interesting variation on malt whisky for your bar. Finish: long given the low strength, always spicy and chocolaty. Dry, herbal, perhaps even meaty. The aftertaste is a little metallic/dusty, echoing those older bottlings that I was mentioning. Comments: a fun bottle, and I always enjoy a very different malt whisky. SGP:462 - 85 points.

Glenturret 21 yo 1994/2015 (51.6%, Creative Whisky Co., Exclusive Malts, 10th anniversary, 263 bottles)

Glenturret 21 yo 1994/2015 (51.6%, Creative Whisky Co., Exclusive Malts, 10th anniversary, 263 bottles) Two stars and a half I’d love to share a dram with… their graphic designer. Colour: pale gold. Nose: a similar start, but this time there’s more of this ink, soot, tin, and even this paraffin that was to be found in earlier bottlings. There’s this very peculiar kind of soapiness, not obligatorily unpleasant – not at all, in fact – and a lot of lamp oil, linseed oil, and perhaps a drop of fusel oil. There, you have it. With water: broken branches, fresh butter, more linseed oil… Mouth (neat): yeah well, it does have that ‘Glenturretness’. Soaped grass and herbs, lemon peel, sour juices, copper, lemon squash… It’s very unusual, to say the least. With water: the soapiness comes to the front. Finish: quite long, with much more lemon, which kind of puts it straight. Comments: the soapiness is very different from, say Bowmore’s in the 1980s, it’s much less floral, and much more ‘natural’. Or say ‘mineral’. In a way, it is an historical bottling. For malt exegetes? Completists? Rock-and-Rollers? Pete Doherty? SGP:362 - 77 points.

Glenturret 37 yo 1977/2014 (48.2%, Sansibar, 90 bottles)

Glenturret 37 yo 1977/2014 (48.2%, Sansibar, 90 bottles) Four starsAnother micro-bottling. Not quite garage whisky though, garage whisky (as in garage wine) is rather what’s cooking up in Dornoch these days… Excuse me? Ah yes, Loch Ewe… Colour: gold. Nose: these are the miraculous batches. Little weird old-Glenturretness, and rather soups and stewed vegetables plus banana skin and pinesap. What’s really striking hard are guavas, those love-them-or-hate-them fruits that, well, I love. Also moss, fern, and mushrooms. Is this autumn yet? Mouth: really very unusual. More pinesap, Vicks, eucalyptus, liquorice and menthol drops, fir liqueur, Jägermeister, old wood (several, thuja, cedar, oak), hashish, citrons, natural rubber… Finish: long, still funny, and very sappy. Some kind of monk’s concoction that’s supposed to cure anything. Abbey liqueur. Straight oak in the aftertaste. Comments: certainly not catholic ;-) or kosher, but once again, these very different whiskies can be superlatively entertaining. Funny old whisky. SGP:472 - 86 points.

Hold on, while we’re at it…

Glenturret 35 yo 1977/2013 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, refill hogshead, 227 bottles)

Glenturret 35 yo 1977/2013 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, refill hogshead, 227 bottles) Four starsColour: gold. Nose: a similar mentholy style, and again ideas of Vicks Vaporub, except that some perfect tropical fruits are bringing balance and easiness to the combo. Mangos, for instance. Small pink bananas as well, don’t remember their name. Hints of thuja wood as well, Moroccan artisan chessboards (yeah well), fresh hazelnuts… Perhaps a little fresh paint as well? There’s always something happening in Glenturret. Mouth: just between us, the oak’s a little too loud. Gritty tannins and overinfused green tea, grapefruit skin… Actually, the grapefruit saves it, because once the citrusy side starts to roar and sing, the oak is beating a retreat. Good! Finish: long, but the greenish oak is back. But there are also passion fruits, and indeed grapefruits. Ends up biting your lips, as if you had quaffed freshly squeezed lemon juice. Comments: hard to assess, hard to score. Rather extreme. SGP:471 - 85 points.

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August 19, 2016


Whiskyfun

Little duets, Inchmurrin versus Croftengea

When we tried some Loch Lomond the other day, I wrote that I would soon taste some Inchmurrin too, and today is the day. But rather than an OB, we’ll have some indie by Signatory, just for fun. I find it great that they would bottle this pretty unknown name! And then, another surprise made at Loch Lomond… Croftengea. Because you may remember that they make different styles of malts, grains and blends at Loch Lomond Distillery, with names such as Inchfad, Rhosdhu, Craiglodge, Inchmoan, or indeed Inchmurrin and Croftengea. You’ll easily find their characteristics on the Web.

Inchmurrin 18 yo 1996/2015 (43%, Signatory Vintage, refill butt, cask #30, 658 bottles)

Inchmurrin 18 yo 1996/2015 (43%, Signatory Vintage, refill butt, cask #30, 658 bottles) Three stars We tried some sister whisky last year (cask #24+25) and found it good (WF 79). Always been fond of this series, as Cosmo Kramer would have said, “no fuss, Scotch!” Colour: white wine (very refill!) Nose: porridge and bread, yeast and beer, that’s the spirit. Also caraway and gingerbread, I’d say. In a way, we’re close to many a new craft malt whisky, except that those would be 18 months old, not 18 years. Mouth: so very unusual! Bread again, Alsatian anis bredala, wholegrain bread, ale, hops, pine nuts, porridge, lager beer… What’s totally great is that while I think we could find some in other Inchmurrins or other whiskies by Loch Lomond, there are almost no feinty notes, and not even one hint of baby vomit. Finish: rather short, but very bready. Ashy aftertaste. Comments: love love love, I’m glad this bottling exists, even if it’s no Brora 1972. SGP:352 - 80 points.

Croftengea 10 yo (56.6%, Single Cask Nation, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #486, 133 bottles)

Croftengea 10 yo (56.6%, Single Cask Nation, refill bourbon hogshead, cask #486, 133 bottles) Four stars Wrong picture but the layout should be the same. It’s not often that you come across some of this peated Loch Lomond, I only remember bottles by The Whisky Fair in Germany, around ten years ago. Guess I’ve still got some in the bunker. Oh and the former owners had one too, a 1996/2005 that has been to my liking (WF 80). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: totally unusual. Bakelite, tarry ropes, bicycle shed, leatherette, new tyres, a large discotheque ashtray around 4am (when we could still smoke in nightclubs), engine oil… And a brand new Chevrolet, circa 1980! With water: charcoal and carbon paper. Who remembers carbon paper? Mouth (neat): really funny. Some kind of smoked lemonade, perhaps, smoked salmon, salt, ink… and really a lot of smoke. It’s mega-smoky! With water: gets almost civilised, gentler, certainly cleaner, with notes of lemon, kippers, and smoked tea. Less ashy. Finish: rather long, saltier, more lemony. Comments: a great surprise, I had thought it would be a little wobbly and uncertain, but I think it’s actually very well made. And probably very well selected, it beats quite a few peaters from Scotland’s mainland. And some from the islands too. SGP:447 - 86 points.

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August 18, 2016


Whiskyfun

Little duets, today indie Aberlour

In theory, we should find truckloads of western orchard fruits today, since these babies will be un-sherried, let’s see…

Aberlour

Aberlour 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask ref #DL 11063, 278 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, starts with a little varnish and acetone (nail polish remover), but goes on with many ‘western’ fruits, gooseberries, greengages, apples, white currants, while there are touches of ‘good’ sulphur in the background (flinty sulphur rather than eggs or cabbage, or even raw native sulphur). With water: more of all that. Swims well but doesn’t change much. Perhaps a little more clay? Mouth (neat): it’s really powerful, and probably one of the most ‘naked’ middle-aged Aberlours I’ve tried to this day. Brutal fruits and bitter grasses, cider apples, green melons, lemon zests… It reminds of some young Rosebanks. With water: this feeling of sweets covered with grass juice and even bitter rocket salad. A sharp Aberlour! Finish: long, and very grassy. Cinchona in the aftertaste, Campari, lemon… Comments: quite beastly! The equivalent of A’bunadh, only without any sherry. SGP:471 - 85 points.

Aberlour-Glenlivet 25 yo 1990/2016 (51.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch)

Aberlour-Glenlivet 25 yo 1990/2016 (51.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: similar, which was to be expected, but rounder and smoother, seemingly, with a little vanilla. Mirabelles and quinces plus ripe gooseberries and fermenting apples. Make that artisan cider. With water: it’s the barley that becomes more talkative, with a little brioche, dough, croissants (and why not?) Mouth (neat): really lovely and very typically Aberlour, one of the fruitiest spirits up there. Oranges, more mirabelles, more quinces (as jelly) and more ‘sweet’ apples. Say golden delicious, but I’m no apple expert. Solid body at this strength, of course. With water: oh it’s getting a little tropical! Guavas, perhaps? Also pears. Finish: quite long, very ‘natural’, malty and fruity. Comments: a relatively smoother, and more mature naked Aberlour. Really does the job. SGP:561 - 87 points.

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August 17, 2016


Whiskyfun

Little duets, Mortlach 44 years apart

Some Mortlachs are very meaty and fat (shan’t we call them beef-bouillony?), while others are brighter and fruitier, and kind of mimicking their neighbours up there. We won’t try any of the premiumised officials today, rather some indies…

Mortlach 18 yo 1998/2016 (55.8%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, sherry finished hogshead, cask #5, 681 bottles)

Mortlach 18 yo 1998/2016 (55.8%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, sherry finished hogshead, cask #5, 681 bottles) Four starsTWE’s latest bottlings have all been excellent, kudos. Now, no one never fails (sardonic laughter…) Colour: amber. Nose: has there ever been a Flora and Fauna at cask strength? I don’t seem to remember any, but this is how they would have ‘nosed’, I imagine. Good sulphur, good roasted nuts, good polished wood (and new upholstery), quite a lot of menthol and eucalyptus, and then some kind of earthy fruitiness. Fallen cherries on the ground (under the cherry tree, obviously). With water: more polished oak. Visiting a carpenter (who’s drinking oloroso). Big pencil shavings. Mouth (neat): feels a little ‘doped’, perhaps, with quite a lot of sweet and spicy wood extracts (black toffee, tobacco, black tea) but this huge arrival just works. Goes on with more beefy notes, beef jerky, marrow, Grisons meat… This is very Mortlach, to say the least! With water: bitter oranges and more pencil shavings. Finish: as long as a Fidel speech, with some tobacco (cigars, obviously) and bitter chocolate. Comments: huge whisky, perhaps a little tiring, but a perfect example of the make, as they used to say in 1980’s marketing brochures. As subtle as a sledgehammer at times, but quite great imho. SGP:562 - 85 points.

And so, forty-four years earlier…

Mortlach 1954/2012 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Vintage, first fill sherry butt, cask #494, 347 bottles)

Mortlach 1954/2012 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Vintage, first fill sherry butt, cask #494, 347 bottles) Five stars With the traditional ‘eagle label’. That is right, this baby’s almost sixty years old. An earlier bottling (in 2008) had been quite balsamic (WF 86). Colour: coffee with a greenish tinge. Nose: you would think you’re nosing an old oloroso, somewhere in Andalucia. Old walnuts, barbecue smoke, mutton suet, old camphor cream, a box of Cuban puros, and roasted chestnuts. The words ‘medicinal tobacco’ springs to mind, but that would be an oxymoron, wouldn’t it. Mouth: hurray! Seriously, I was afraid it would have gotten too dry and cardboardy, but no so, not at all. Eating some tobacco from your untipped Gauloise (you know, adolescence memories), eating chocolate fudge (we used to have a thing called Carambar in France), drinking some old-style very black tea, and crunching ultra-roasted pecan nuts. And coffee beans while we’re at it. Woody yet not dryingly tannic, you cannot expect much more from a 60yo ex-sherry malt whisky, can you. Finish: quite long, and all on coffee, tobacco, and bitter chocolate. Marmalade in the aftertaste, always great in this context. Perhaps Corinth raisins as well. Comments: some miracle in a bottle. And psssst, the price is very fair given the age. SGP:462 - 90 points.

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August 16, 2016


Whiskyfun

Young Ledaig vs. Old Tobermory

And why not?

Tobermory 2007/2015 (52.3%, Beacon Spirits, 169 bottles)

Tobermory 2007/2015 (52.3%, Beacon Spirits, 169 bottles) Five stars This is actually Ledaig. Please fasten your seat belt, recent vintages of Ledaig have been consistently and constantly astounding in my book. The more recent, the better! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: I’ve promised that I would stop claiming that younger Ledaigs are the new <please insert name of famous Kildalton distillery here>. So I won’t tell you what I think. What is sure is that it’s appropriately tarry/sooty, with a garden bonfire in the background and a large plate of oysters, some smoked. Ever tried smoked oysters? Iodine, of course. With water: hessian and almond oil, bandages and paint thinner. Mouth (neat): dazzlingly fresh, smoky, salty, lemony, crystalline, and tarry. Seawater blended with limejuice and a drop of engine oil. Make that three drops. With water: turpentine, plasticine, lemon juice, brine, just like in <please insert name of famous Kildalton distillery here>. Finish: ashy almonds plus seawater, anchovies in salt, tar. Comments: hope they won’t send a vial into space! SGP:467 - 90 points.

Tobermory 42 yo 1973/2016 (47.7%, OB, 650 bottles)

Tobermory 42 yo 1973/2016 (47.7%, OB, 650 bottles) Three stars According to some sources it seems that this old baby’s been finished in oloroso, but some other sources state that it was a full-maturing in sherry. Hope the latter are right, let’s see… Colour: amber/coffee. Nose: old oak and other woods all over the place. New humidor, thuja wood, wax polish… Then more and more tobacco, pipes and cigars (in an old wooden box), roasted pecans and walnuts, heavy toffee, and then this very tiny touch of new plastic than could be found in many older Tobermories, bordering leather. A tablespoon of Chinese plum sauce. Mouth: very oaky, extractive, spicy… Oak essences (menthol, eugenol – I think), bay leaves, cloves, very bitter orange marmalade, black pepper… All this is very extreme, and even biting at times. Perhaps a little tiring, I cannot imagine quaffing more than one centilitre of this in one hour. Goes more towards ‘extreme’ liquorice after one minute or two, Scandinavian-style. Finish: extremely long, tannic and spicy, with more bitter oranges in the background. Comments: at £2,500 a bottle, it’s probably not the best B-F-Y-B whisky that came out this year. And boy does this pachydermic old whisky have oak! SGP:581 - 82 points.

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August 15, 2016


Whiskyfun

New Kilkerran 12 and friend

The new and first core-of-range Kilkerran is out, let’s try it. Yeah I’ve decided not to rack my brain today.

Kilkerran 12 yo (46%, OB, 2016)

Kilkerran 12 yo (46%, OB, 2016) Five stars That’s right, the first ‘regular’ expression of Glengyle/Kilkerran, after the various ‘WIPs’ that have almost all been very convincing. Although I preferred the bourbon versions, but that’s a matter of taste. Love the no-fuss label by the way. Colour: straw. Nose: pristine lemony/chalky/sooty start, then rather broken branches and a touch of liquorice wood, as well as hints of bandages and tiger balm. Perhaps barbecued herbs, perhaps thyme and rosemary? I can’t seem to find anything bad to say about this nose. Mouth: impeccably old-style, sooty, rather peaty, peppery, lemony, and really very salty. It is totally distillate-forward, which is always something we enjoy at WF Towers. I find there’s something ‘old Springbank’ to this baby that goes straight into my personal pantheon of readily available large-batch malts. Finish: long, with perhaps a few more notes of bonbons, but the salty tang and the lingering peppery peat still play first fiddles. Comments: ah, yes, I’ve got something bad to say, it’s a shame that this was to be expected, and that consequently, no good surprises could occur. I may write a letter… SGP:353 - 90 points.

Yeah, go find a good sparring partner… Unless, wait, a young naked old Springbank, perhaps, to check whether my impressions were right or wrong? Rummage rummage…

Springbank 8 yo 'Glens Extra' (70°proof, Robert Watson Aberdeen, 75cl, 1960's)

Springbank 8 yo 'Glens Extra' (70°proof, Robert Watson Aberdeen, 75cl, 1960's) Four stars and a half We’ve already tried other versions of Glens Extra, which was some pure young Springbank bottled for Italy. Robert Watson was one of Cadenhead’s sub-brands. This very bottling had a black screw cap, while others had golden ones, but we all know that that doesn’t mean too much. Anyway… Colour: white wine. Nose: well, hard to say, as in this one, a part of the peatiness transformed into these stunning tropical fruits that can also be found in Laphroaig and Bowmore bottled at the time. Mangos and maracujas, all that. But beyond that very tropical layer of aromas, the cores seem to be similar, chalky, mineral, sooty, smoky… But this little Glens Extra is really brilliant. Mouth: this is where the Kilkerran wins, by a small margin. Not that the Springer is weaker, or not just superb, it’s simply got this paraffiny je-ne-sais-quoi that Springbank sometimes had and that’s not always totally pleasant. Other than that, it’s perfect. Chalky lemons, smoky grapefruits, and some kind of ‘green soot’. Finish: surprisingly long, and just as salty as the Kilkerran’s. Comments: same family, obviously. Which is very refreshing! Also love the fact that they carefully avoided any stupid ‘innovations’ with the Kilkerran. You only have to innovate when what you’ve already got isn’t perfect, am I not right? SGP:452 - 89 points.

 

 

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August 14, 2016


Whiskyfun

A few rums at random

Nothing too serious, no special plans, no order, and no coherence today. Mind you, this is the month of August, and nothing serious may take place in August in France.

Bacardi 8 yo (40%, OB, Puerto Rico, +/-2015) Two starsMolasses-based rum distilled in huge columns, so probably not a very ‘congeneric’ rum. Colour: gold. Nose: extremely light and even evanescent, with touches of vanilla, sugar cane syrup, and ripe bananas. Rather Cuban style, but some Cubans have more depth, especially the Santiagos. At least this Bacardi does not seem to wear too much make up. Mouth: feels sweetish at first, with a sour oaky side (peppery tannins), then we have vanilla and corn syrup. A little cinnamon. Makes me think of many a cheap Scottish blend. Finish: short, with quite some oak, as if the spirit was too light to stand this much oak. Comments: some may have invented the word average after having tasted this newish expression. Not too bad, in my opinion, but totally forgettable. SGP:440 - 70 points.

Diplomatico 2002 'Single Vintage' (43%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2016)

Diplomatico 2002 'Single Vintage' (43%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2016) Ouch, just another sugar bomb? This baby’s been finished in sherry. Colour: orange. Nose: jams, praline, chocolate cream, maple syrup, banana cake, raisins, perhaps litchis and pineapples… Not unpleasant, but some aspects suggest this baby’s been heavily ‘arranged’. Like when some good people let some fruits macerate in rum. Mouth: very sweet and sugary, as expected. A blend of Kahlua (coffee liqueur) with Dutch pineapple liqueur. The Dutch know how to make liqueurs out of just any raw materials ;-). Finish: short, sticky, sugary. Some pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: what’s the purpose of bottling some single vintage rum when it’s obviously been ‘arranged’ and contains around 50g of sugar per litre? Would any ‘vintage effect’ remain? Some very liqueury rum. Read ‘adulterated’ if you wish. SGP:720 - 60 points.

Dictador 20 yo (40%, OB, Colombia, +/-2015)

Dictador 20 yo (40%, OB, Colombia, +/-2015) Advertised as a 20 years old, but it’s one of these nasty soleras where any figures seem to be very shady. The price (+/-50-60€) suggests it just cannot be genuine 20 yo rum. Colour: amber. Nose: totally on coffee liqueur. There’s even more coffee liqueur than in the very similar Diplomatico. Similar as far as styles are concerned, because the Diplo was fruitier on the nose. So coffee liqueur, and perhaps a touch of parsley. Mouth: even more of that feeling of coffee liqueur, plus some honey and some raisins. Another one that’s more a liqueur than proper rum, unless you use a very loose definition of rum. Finish: short, with a touch of sour fruit. Ginger and nutmeg in the aftertaste, and of course more coffee. Comments: there was much less happening in the Bacardi, but at least it tasted kind of ‘natural’. Now if you like coffee… Having said that, according to several sources, there’s less sugar in this Dictador than what we ‘feel’, which I find mysterious. SGP:730 - 65 points.

All right, since we’re having sugar bombs…

Arcane ‘Delicatissime’ (41%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2015)

Arcane ‘Delicatissime’ (41%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2015) Two stars and a half I had found the ‘Extra Aroma’ rather good despite the ultra-heavy sweetness (WF 70), but this one’s another expression. The light colour feels rather ‘honest’. But apparently, it is only 18 months old. Colour: pale gold. Nose: much nicer! Fresh sugar cane, grass, green bananas, some kind of curry powder, caraway, fennel, ginger… And even a little gingerbread. So far, so nice! Mouth: there is a sweetness again, but it’s much better integrated this time. Pineapples with caraway and cloves, then a funny feeling of young calvados. Finish: medium, fresh, and quite spicy. Pumpernickel dipped into cane syrup. Comments: I find this very good, we’re almost at 80 in my book. It’s pure cane juice distillate, so kind of agricole. I had feared this would be just another sugar bomb, but it was not. Phew! SGP:641 - 79 points.

Barbancourt 2004/2016 (46%, L’Esprit, Haiti, cask #BB86, 228 bottles)

Barbancourt 2004/2016 (46%, L’Esprit, Haiti, cask #BB86, 228 bottles) Four stars Another one from that excellent little house called Whisky & Rhum. They’re located in Brittany, in Rennes and in Vannes, you’ll easily find them. This is ‘column’ Barbancourt, as they switched from pot still to continuous distillation in 1990 according to more knowledgeable sources (more knowledgeable than me, that’s for sure). Now it always remained pure cane juice. Colour: straw. Nose: instantly more interesting than the others, even than the good Arcane. There’s much more depth, more sugar cane, more grassy/earthy touches, and a rather lovely feeling of camphor plus just faint hints of sawdust. Mouth: excellent! Not too sure at which strength it flows out of the columns (around 90% vol., I wager) but the cane-iness was kept. I also enjoy these notes of green apples, liquorice wood, and gingery marmalade. Finish: medium to long, always pleasantly grassy and cane-y, with just a little liquorice and oak spices in the aftertaste. Comments: very good. There’s also a version at cask strength but we’ll rather have it on another Sunday. Mind you, 66.2% vol.! The sugary ones have been too tiring. SGP:451 - 86 points.

I was wondering, since more an more good people are considering that sweetened or additive-ed rums shouldn’t be entitled to call themselves ‘rum’, while other good people are claiming that ‘they always did it that way’ hence that adulterated rum is still a traditional category, may I humbly suggest that natural rums would call themselves ‘straight rum’ if they wished, whilst the made-up ones would simply be ‘rum’?  Wouldn’t the word ‘straight’ work? What’s sure is that we only had one, or perhaps two straight rums today.

More tasting notes Check the index of all rums I've tasted so far

 

 

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August 11, 2016


Whiskyfun

Little duets, today by The Laddie

What more to say about Bruichladdich? I remember well the reopening party, they had that giant 40 yo lobster that no one was ready to ‘attack’. Luckily, there were two hungry (and thirsty) Alsatians and… we just ate the whole beast. Superb flesh, those lobsters used to feed on distillery waste and they were really getting huge!

Bruichladdich 9 yo 2006/2015 (56.7%, Single Cask Nation, first fill bourbon hogshead, 153 bottles)

Bruichladdich 9 yo 2006/2015 (56.7%, Single Cask Nation, first fill bourbon hogshead, 153 bottles) Four stars I believe those were already the unpeated batches, while they had started very lightly peated in 2001. Colour: light gold. Nose: starts with a creamy vanilla, fresh sponge cake, and raw barley from ‘one of those farms’, and gets then finely herbal and minty, with a meloniness (yeah right) that’s rather green than yellow or ‘orange’. Relatively firm and ‘solid’ for a Laddie. With water: classic relatively ‘naked’ Bruichladdich, with tiny whiffs of sea air and even touches of antiseptic. A drop of Port Charlotte in there? Mouth (neat): really very punchy, a little fizzy at first (Schweppes Orange), then totally fruity, with blood oranges, the obligatory melons (any kinds), and perhaps nectarines. The grassy backbone starts to stand out after ten seconds, so rather the melons’ skins than their flesh. With water: same, plus a little mint. It even got sweeter. Lime liqueur? Green tea. Finish: long, fresh, with some peat smoke now. Comments: top class young Bruichladdich that doesn’t taste ‘young’, possibly thanks to an excellent hogshead. SGP:652 - 87 points.

So that one was young, but the cask was first fill – and yet not dominating. Let’s see if we can find the opposite, an older Bruichladdich from a refill hoggie this time… Oh yes we can (sounds a bit 2000s, S...)

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1989/2015 (52.1%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL10859, 225 bottles)

Bruichladdich 26 yo 1989/2015 (52.1%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL10859, 225 bottles) Four starsThe younger one was post-reopening, this one’s pre-closure. Colour: light gold. Nose: nah, this is unquestionably more complex. I’m not saying ‘superior’, but more complex for sure, with brighter fruits, around oranges, ripe kiwis, those melons, and perhaps cranberries and the sweets made thereof. Perhaps very tiny notes of lavender, which isn’t bad at all here. With water: indeed, lavender bonbons and many flower, lilies, lilac, honeysuckle… Mouth (neat): a feeling of lavender sweets, and something 1980s-Bowmore-ish, but without excesses. In France we used to have violet-flavoured liquorice, called Zan. That was superb. Also Seville oranges but quite curiously, no melons this time. With water: limoncello! I often find limoncello in good whiskies, which I like, maybe I should start limoncellofun.com. Ach, better not. Finish: medium, with more lemony things and even a touch of mango. A dash of salt in the aftertaste, which is rather very Bruichladdich. Comments: super-good once again. Same ballpark, even if styles are opposite. And yet close. An yet opposite… Oh… SGP:651 - 87 points.

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August 10, 2016


Whiskyfun

An American flight

And so it is America’s turn! I’m still trying to recover from the fantastic Westlands that we tried within the last months, and perhaps shall we find some more today, by the way. But first, a wee apéritif, as usual…

Wild Turkey 8 yo (86.8 US proof, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-1980)

Wild Turkey 8 yo (86.8 US proof, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-1980) Four stars There was also a version at 101 proof that’s perhaps better known. They still make this baby, apparently, but it’s suffering from a seemingly incurable epidemic, it’s lost its age statement. I believe this baby comes from the beginning of the Pernod-Ricard era. Colour: gold. Nose: feels rye-driven, but I may be wrong. Spicy flowers, lavender sweets, speculoos, praline, a little wood smoke, curry powder, sweet mustard, a pack of cinnamon mints… There’s a lot happening in there! Mouth: really very spicy, and as it’s a little rough, we’re very far from some modern vanilla-ridden bourbons. Spicy sweets (they have some in China but the name escapes me), crystallised oranges, more cinnamon mints, caraway and clove, bitter chocolate… What’s really striking is how dry this is, you’d almost believe you’re having some strong oloroso, with flying walnuts and mustard. Finish: long, ultra-dry, very spicy. Cinnamon and nutmeg. Comments: very good. Contemporary offerings are much rounder and sweeter. SGP:272 - 85 points.

Hope the apéritif won’t kill them all…

PennyPacker (40%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2015)

PennyPacker (40%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, +/-2015) Two stars I had never seen this before, but it seems that it is an old brand. In Germany they say that Heaven Hill ship it in tankers to their country, where they bottle it. Is that possible? Colour: gold. Nose: totally the opposite of the old Wild Turkey, much softer, rounder, more vanilla-driven, with very little ryeness. It’s quite pleasant, it’s just that there isn’t much happening. Possibly high maize content. Mouth: it is okay. Ish. Eau-de-vie-ish, a little rough, probably very young, with a vanilla-ed oakiness that feels ‘stuck over it’. Not sure this should be drunken neat, should it? Finish: short, with some burnt wood and more vanilla. The aftertaste is a little drying. Comments: a very simple bourbon. It’s not terrible, though. SGP:341 - 70 points.

Marshall's (40%, OB, Bourbon, +/-2015)

Marshall's (40%, OB, Bourbon, +/-2015) Two stars It’s not straight bourbon, and while the label says ‘Old Time Distillery’, I doubt the brand owns any distillery. Oh and it’s a budget brand, it seems. Colour: gold. Nose: whaaah! Watery and kind of disjointed, dirty-ish at first nosing, but it tends to improve a bit, with bitter oranges and a spicy/bready side that I always rather enjoy. Very curious about the palate… Mouth: not bad, very similar to that of the PennyPacker, only even lighter. Small fruit sweets, orange drops, Fanta, vanilla… Probably a very high maize/corn content once again. Finish: short and relatively clean, a little sweeter than the previous one. A discreet earthiness in the aftertaste, which isn’t bad. Comments: I cannot see why I’d come up with a different score. It’s loyal cheapish bourbon, I think. SGP:441 - 70 points.

George Dickel No. 1 (45.5%, OB, American spirit, +/-2015)

George Dickel No. 1 (45.5%, OB, American spirit, +/-2015) one star and a half This is fully white, and while they call it ‘White corn whisky’, it sure is no whisky since it’s unaged. Colour: white. Nose: not u-nice, not un-nice. It’s clean, fruity and herbal (rhubarb), void of any roughness, with some buttered sweet maize and perhaps drops of tangerine juice. I do like all this freshness, and perhaps did the traditional heavy filtration play a large part in that. Mouth: I like the fresh and fruity/bready arrival, but I’m less fond of the way it unfolds, as it’s becoming spirity (medicinal alcohol) and vodka-ish. I guess that was to be expected. Finish: medium, with a little lime and pear this time, which is good. Comments: I don’t know. Some parts are nice, but a price of 65€ for a bottle of new make seems a little steep. Let’s say ‘no’. SGP:520 - 68 points.

Let’s do craft if you don’t mind…

Garrison Brothers 2015 (47%, OB, Texas straight bourbon)

Garrison Brothers 2015 (47%, OB, Texas straight bourbon) Two stars and a half A genuine distillery, with stills and a very high score by Jim M. (who said just like any new distillery in the world, who?), founded 2005. This very bottle was released in 2015. Colour: deep gold. Nose: classic, pencil shavings, toasted bread, popcorn, pumpernickel, caraway, cinnamon, ginger, and a wee rye-y/earthy side. Rather oak-driven, but not too oak-driven. Mouth: young bourbon with unexpected hints of olive oil, then gingerbread and liquorice wood. Good breadiness, and despite its origins, no gunpowder that I can feel (hey, I’m joking!) Finish: rather long, with many oak spices as well as a sweeter side, around marmalade. Earthy and bready aftertaste, as it should be. Comments: solid craft bourbon, perhaps less extravagant than other young craft Americans (talking about the genuine ones, not about the simple ‘brand-builders’), that’s all I’m going to say. SGP:451 - 79 points.

Koval Bourbon (47%, OB, bourbon, +/-2015)

Koval Bourbon (47%, OB, bourbon, +/-2015) Four stars This baby straight from Chicago. I’m totally in love with their ultra-smart minimal packaging, and perhaps with their whiskies too, but I’ve only tried one of them so far, the Four Grains (WF 84). It is single barrel bourbon, so I guess they vary. Colour: gold. Nose: very different from the Garrison, which was more ‘in your face’. This is subtle and complex, light in a beautiful manner, and rather more floral than the usual bourbons. Iris and lilies. And there’s a wonderful breadiness, you’d think you’re having breakfast in a posh ski resort somewhere in South Tyrol. Yes, I’m speaking with experience. Mouth: exceptionally good, I think. Amazing depth at what ought to be a very young age, with citron squash, notes of kiwi, celeriac, natural vanilla, radish… What’s totally amazing is the celeriac, I’m a sucker for celeriac. And the freshness, not many bourbons are this fresh. Finish: what, goji in whisky? And carrots? One of the most more-ish young whiskies I’ve tried this year. Only the aftertaste is a little less thrilling (tannic), but that’s more than normal. Comments: impressed. I’ll have to try to distil celeriac… BTW some Alsatian distillers do that, but I never came across a good ‘eau-de-vie de céleri’. SGP:462 - 87 points.

Westland 2 yo (46%, OB for Kalish & Sons, single malt, Heavy char new American oak, cask #97, 188 bottles, 2014)

Westland 2 yo (46%, OB for Kalish & Sons, single malt, Heavy char new American oak, cask #97, 188 bottles, 2014) Four stars The wonders of Belgian brewer’s yeast (amongst other smart choices). Colour: deep gold. Nose: while the Koval was clearly a bourbon, this one goes more towards sherried malt whisky – and yes I know this is no sherry cask – for it’s got these raisins, these overripe quinces, all these fresh pastries rather than bread, some kind of Indian ginger-based sweets, cinnamon cake, walnut cake… In shot an awesome nose, rather more candied than the fresher Koval. Mouth: so good. I’m sure they flew to Istanbul, plundered the poshest pastry shop down there, brought everything back, and stuffed the barrel with their loot. Orange blossom, dates, raisins… And even that very special tobacco called Latakia (which is Syrian). A funny fizzy orangeness coming through after a few minutes. Finish: medium to long, still quite oriental. I’ve tried some excellent arrack that used to taste a bit like this. The aftertaste is more chocolaty, though. Comments: between the Koval and this Westland, I choose both. Now I did enjoy the former’s freshness just a wee tad better. Even better. SGP:541 - 86 points.

Good, I had planned to spot here, but since we’ve just had one from high char oak, we could as well try another one…

Ezra Brooks 12 yo (49.5%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, cask #599, 2015)

Ezra Brooks 12 yo (49.5%, OB, Kentucky straight bourbon, cask #599, 2015) Three stars Some single barrel bourbon from Heaven Hill. I’m really curious about this one, since I never tried any Ezra Brooks… Colour: deep gold. Nose: I’m tempted to write that this is much more commercial. You know, caramel, butter cream, fudge, vanilla, butterscotch maple syrup, and the largest bag of buttered popcorn ever. I may have used the word ‘butter’ a little too often. Mouth: powerful, but a little indistinct. Sweet oak, vanilla, toasts, cakes, corn syrup, molasses, vanilla, Starbucks’ best (I mean, worst)… Bwah bwah bwah… Finish: medium, with some molasses-covered vanilla cake and a slice of cinnamon cake. Comments: good bourbon, but I feel it’s uninspired and uninspiring. It’s really lacking the edges and asperities that the ‘crafts’ had, but yeah, it’s very good, most certainly. SGP:541 - 80 points.

(Thanks a bunch, Claude and Scott)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Americans I've tasted so far

 

 

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August 9, 2016


Whiskyfun

Little duets, two excellent indie Glenrothes

Haven’t the owners been rather quiet recently? Not so at the independents, there are many new Glenrothes, they flow like honey! And we won’t complain…

Glenrothes 19 yo 1996/2015 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, cask #2522, 328 bottles)

Glenrothes 19 yo 1996/2015 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, cask #2522, 328 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: honey indeed, and Weetabix, Golden Grahams, Kellogg’s best, then tarte tatin and maple syrup. Gets then very brioche-y, which is great. Custard. We’re actually close to the well-aged officials, which I always enjoyed a lot. Great nose, very classic. With water: gums, Haribo’s best (say crocodiles), jams, acacia honey… Mouth (neat): super-good! Brighter and fruitier than the OBs this time, and above all, ridden with pineapples. As jams, jellies, tinned, liqueurs, syrups, whatever. This is extremely spectacular, but of course you need to enjoy pineapples. Oh and it’s not quite ‘pineapple from youth’ (what’s that molecule again? Ah yes, methyl butanoate). With water: totally excellent, with a perfect balance, an entrancing fruitiness and no excesses. In other words, the pineapples calmed down. Finish: medium, jammy, with some vanilla, some honey, and a tiny cup of cappuccino. Comments: extremely easy and sexy. Malt whisky that will convince everyone. SGP:641 - 89 points.

Glenrothes 26 yo 1989/2016 (52.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #18173, 255 bottles)

Glenrothes 26 yo 1989/2016 (52.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #18173, 255 bottles) Four starsColour: dark straw. Nose: a grassier, waxier, more mineral Glenrothes, as if it was made north of Inverness. It’s got the same slightly exuberant fruity notes (pineapples, pears) but it’s also got more grass and more firmness. Funny notes of IPA too, perhaps is that hops? Or a wee yeastiness? With water: gets a little shy. Not that it doesn’t swim, but it gets less emphatic than the 1996. A little butter cream. Mouth (neat): this time it’s a full-fruity one, starting citrusy and even citric, so much more on sweet grapefruits (the pink ones) than on pineapples, and going on with cranberries and greengages. And gooseberries. With water: not many changes. Perhaps more apples? Finish: medium, fruity, slightly grassy, with some barley sugar. Comments: totally excellent, just a little less wham-bam, less ‘noticeable’ than its bro. SGP:541 - 86 points.

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August 8, 2016


Whiskyfun

Some legendary old Longmorn

But before those pretty legendary Longmorns, a little apéritif from the sample library. What shall we find… eeny meeny…

Longmorn 17 yo 1987/2003 (58.3%, OB, Cask Strength, batch #LM17 003)

Longmorn 17 yo 1987/2003 (58.3%, OB, Cask Strength, batch #LM17 003) Three starsAhem, this is a bit strong for an apéritif, isn’t it. Bah, what’s done is done. Colour: pale gold. Nose: sweet beer all over the place. Californian IPA, perhaps. And vanilla, and roasted nuts, and a saucerful of apple compote. Sweet hops is very dominating here, and intriguing. With water: huge saponification (spirit and water creating soapy smells), let’s wait… zzz… zzz… Ah yes, pure hoppy barley. Very nice. Mouth (neat): very powerful, and very beerish again. Plenty of malt and apples, with a thin layer of marmalade and honeydew. It works well despite the coarseness, which was to be found in all bottlings in this series in my humble opinion. With water: no changes, almost. Grassy maltiness, peelings, apples, raw malt. A little burnt coffee, perhaps. Finish: long, rather sharp and, again, coarse. Comments: very good, perhaps just not as ‘wow’ as some independent Longmorns. Ask G&M… SGP:441 - 82 points.

So, the 1973s…

Longmorn 1973/2003 (45%, Samaroli, 35th Anniversary)

Longmorn 1973/2003 (45%, Samaroli, 35th Anniversary) Five stars From when Mr. Samaroli himself was still in charge. Colour: deep gold. Nose: sit down and prick up your ears, the whisky’s got something to say. Fabulously complex, as expected. Virginia tobacco, sultanas, chestnut honey, dried figs (plenty), mint honey, dried litchis, old Sauternes… And myriads of other dried/honeyed elements. I’m finding this astounding. Forgot to mention dried apricots. Mouth: rougher than expected, but splendid. Stout, raisins, figs, prunes, salted butter fudge, cereal bars… Perhaps is there a wee soapy side, almost unnoticeable, but that may come from the bottle. Beeswax. Finish: long, rounded, figgy (?)… Not quite a Christmas cake – this is not the season anyway – but we’re close. Or rather panettone, since the bottler is Italian? Comments: I was ready to go two or three points higher, only the wee touches of soap prevented me from doing that. I think I’ll have to try another bottle… SGP:651 - 90 points.

Longmorn 1972/2002 (43%, MacKillop’s Choice, sherry wood, cask #1099)

Longmorn 1972/2002 (43%, MacKillop’s Choice, sherry wood, cask #1099) Four stars and a half Ah, 1972… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got everything you would expect from an old Longmorn, and everything you would expect from a very lightly sherried old Speysider. Amazing wild herbs and soft dried fruits combination. Verbena, wormwood, honeysuckle, quince jelly, honey, then rather a mentholy/tropical gig, with mangos and stewed rhubarb… Mouth: perhaps a wee bit oaky and drying at first, but this feeling of tropical honey is just mesmerizing. Dried mangos and papayas, plus slices of pineapple and coconut. Feels rather ‘bourbon wood’ but strictly nothing to complain about. Finish: medium, with an oakiness that’s a tad more apparent, around tea tannins. A lot of freshness left in the aftertaste. Comments: almost a wonder. Perhaps at a slightly higher strength? SGP:651 - 89 points.

Longmorn 21 yo 1964 (86 US proof, Duthie for Corti Bros, Sacramento, USA)

Longmorn 21 yo 1964 (86 US proof, Duthie for Corti Bros, Sacramento, USA) Five stars A series that made the mouths of many whisky aficionados water… It’s from when Cadenhead/R.W. Duthie were still in Aberdeen. Colour: straw. Nose: bang. This is philosophy, not whisky. It’s a whole. A concept. There’s everything in there, fruits, waxes, herbs, some mysterious animal and vegetal substances (ambergris? White truffle? Spanish ham?) What’s stunning, and what I always cherish, is the way it becomes mentholy over time. And that includes camphor, eucalyptus, fir tar, and so on. It’s Ueberwhisky, so far. Mouth: please call the anti-maltoporn brigade! Now, everybody knows that the old Longmorns could be totally stellar, but this is just ‘it’. Only the body’s a little less totally fantastic, but remember 86 US proof are only 43% alc/vol. Finish: it’s where it loses points, losing fruitiness and becoming a little too grassy/tea-ish for my taste. But we were at more or less 93/94, so, there was room. Comments: there used to be the sherried 1964s, and there were these lighter, paler ones. Both were great. Mind you, in the old days, plenty was no plague. SGP:562 - 92 points.

That’s enough for a summer session (but thanks Diego and Max)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Longmorn I've tasted so far

 

 

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August 7, 2016


Whiskyfun

The Olympic cachaça marathon

Since the Olympics in Brazil have started, and since we’ve got quite a few cachaças at hand, wouldn’t it be sensible to try a few today, and check if some of them would make for some good malternatives? We may stumble upon some ‘industrial’ ones bearing very little interest, as is the case with any spirits (that may happen even in Scotland, mind you), but we could also find some gems. So what is cachaça? Well, it’s rum, but it doesn’t seem that the Brazilians are pretending it is rum. It’s distilled cane juice and not molasses, as is rhum agricole, and some say it’s actually closer to our beloved Haitian clairin. So, let’s have a few, while always keeping in mind that I know next to nothing about cachaça, and that is why we’ll have them ‘at random’, without any preconceptions. There.

Leblon (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015)

Leblon (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015) Two stars and a halfSome good people say this is the best cachaça in the world, but I’m sure many other makers will disagree. It is triple distilled in pot stills and aged in cognac casks. Probably for a short period of time according to the colour, unless it’s been heavily filtered/discoloured… It also seems that Bacardi recently bought the brand. Colour: extremely pale white wine, almost white. Nose: instantly ‘clairin’ seen from WF Towers, that is to say fermentary and briny, with plenty of green olives and capers, and very sour grapefruits in the background. And bags of grass. Mouth: a very minimal sweetness at first, and then some lime liqueur and perhaps gherkin juice. Add a few olives and a touch of earth. Only problem, it’s a little bit too light, while the juice is perfectly all right, with this wee dirty side that we always enjoy. No sleek commercial stuff. Finish: a little short, which is a shame. Very nice coastal notes, limes, more olives, seawater… But seawater is stronger! Comments: up my alley as far as the profile is concerned, but do stronger versions exist? SGP:372 - 79 points.

Morro Vermelho ‘Tradicional’ (42%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012)

Morro Vermelho ‘Tradicional’ (42%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012) Three stars and a halfPot still cachaça from Minas Gerais, said to be quite traditional, as the name suggests. It’s matured for one year in jequitibá wood, which is akin to mahogany, apparently. Colour: almost white. Nose: much huger than the Leblon, rougher, perhaps a little more spirity as well, but with more of that brilliant dirtiness that we do enjoy so much. It’s even kind of smoky. Mouth: really wild, citrusy, gherkiny, olive-y, earthy, smoky… We’re totally in clairin territories (only saying this because I’m a clairin lover and because I know a little more about clairin, but I doubt the Brazilians would approve.) Also very nice gentian notes, roots, celeriac… Finish: medium, much bigger than that of the Leblon. Comments: I think we already found one cachaça that I like better than the best cachaça in the world. Ha, reminds of tequila Patron, ‘the best tequila in the world’. Yeah yeah… SGP:272 - 83 points.

Taverna de Minas ‘Ouro’ (39%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012)

Taverna de Minas ‘Ouro’ (39%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012) Four starsThis one is two years old. It’s also from Minas Gerais, from the city of Itaverava, and apparently, totally artisanal. Colour: white wine. Nose: beautiful! It’s got stunning notes of fresh gingerbread, speculoos, caraway, natural vanilla, almond oil, moss… It’s much less olive-y than the others, and that may come from the longer maturation, but what a nose! Mouth: there, the sugar cane is striking, and the olives are arriving, but the speculoos and gingerbread remain there. Some lemon too. I’m very impressed, especially given the low strength. It’s a fat spirit, seemingly very ‘congeneric’, and that’s what we like. Finish: long, fresher, more lemony, but the speculoos never gave up. Comments: a slightly rounder cachaça, but the whole experience is just perfect and impressive. SGP:352 - 86 points.

Kapoeira (38%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015)

Kapoeira (38%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015) Three starsAnother one that, according to some, is meant to be ‘the best tequila in Brazil’. It stems from the Sao Paulo region, not from Minas Gerais. Colour: white. Nose: it’s a grassy one, very fresh, almost ethereal after the Taverna. Lemonade from the fridge, lime juice… And very few congeners. While the two previous ones were rustic, this one’s for Rio’s poshest bars. Mouth: really good, with more oomph, earth, gentian, celeriac, turnips, lemons, as well as a pinhead of horseradish. Liquid sushi, if you will. Finish: short, but very clean, zesty, ultra-fresh. Comments: this one should go down well. Do they make double-magnums? SGP:352 - 82 points.

Boca Loca (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015)

Boca Loca (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015) According to the luminaries at The Whisky Exchange (London, baby) Boca Loca means ‘crazy lips’. Nothing can beat experience. It is organic cachaça. And of course it’s ‘premium’. What isn’t these days? Colour: white. Nose: very spirity, not unlike some aguardiente I tried in Cuba. Wood alcohol. Well, I don’t find this very pleasant, it’s pretty aggressive yet characterless. Some coconut after a few minutes, not always a good sign. Mouth: better, but there’s a sweetness that’s not very pleasant. Feels sweetened, although I doubt it is. Lips, perhaps, but crazy, certainly not. Finish: short and a little sugary. Comments: pass. SGP:630 - 50 points.

Sào Miguel (39%, OB, Cachaça, +/-2012)

Sào Miguel (39%, OB, Cachaça, +/-2012) Three stars Artisan cachaça from the region of Rio de Janeiro this time, matured for one year in umburana wood, which is a cherry wood. It is organic. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: superb! This one’s meatier, you’re almost nosing ham that was cooked in spiced wine, although it tends to develop on gingerbread, rather in the style of the Taverna de Minas. It’s also got a mezcal/agave side, some smoke, and of course olives and gherkins. This one might be my favourite so far, but let’s not count our chickens… Mouth: totally destroys the Crazy Lips. Now it’s a  little more ‘burnt’ than the Taverna, and while I almost love it, I’m having difficulties dealing with these burnt notes. Burnt wood? Does that come from the cherry wood? Finish: quite long, a tad saltier. Lemony smoke. Comments: perhaps is this one more for very experienced cachaça boys. I’m sure it’s great, but it certainly isn’t easy. SGP:362 - 81 points.

Pff, this is not the easiest session ever, but let’s go on…

Thoquino (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015)

Thoquino (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015) one star and a half This is single-estate cachaça, from the north of Rio de Janeiro. Not too sure whether it’s post still or column cachaça. No, nothing to do with Toquinho, the great Brazilian musician. Colour: white. Nose: it’s fresh, but there isn’t much happening. Quite the opposite of the Sào Miguel, but I wouldn’t say it’s unpleasant, just a little… err, let’s say uninspiring (any excuses, S.) Mouth: feels sweetened, just like the Boca Loca. Lemon liqueur and lime liqueur and other liqueurs. Indeed, even sugar cane. Average. Finish: short, sugary. Comments: not too bad, but the sugar puzzles me. Are they allowed to sweeten cachaça? SGP:541 - 68 points.

Praianinha (39%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015)

Praianinha (39%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015) This one’s made by Thoquino too. It’s meant to be ‘tradicional’, which probably doesn’t mean much. Colour: white. Nose: noses even sweeter. Citron liqueur. That’s pretty all, folks. Mouth: it is liqueur. Exactly not what I was hoping for. More citron liqueur. Finish: medium, too sweet. Comments: really hard to a malt whisky enthusiast. I’m sure it goes down well once poured over two kilos of crushed ice, but other than that, it’s not a spirit, it’s a liqueur. Anti-cachaça. Or shall we call it a doctored cachaça? SGP:830 - 45 points.

Okay, another chance…

Thoquino 2 yo (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015)

Thoquino 2 yo (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2015) Two stars Aged for two years in jetiquibà wood, just like the great Morro Vermelho. Hope there will be other similarities. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: ah, this is nicer. Still a bit indefinite, with whiffs of wood and ink, but at least it doesn’t feel liqueury, or artificially fruity. A little rubber. Mouth: relatively fine. A little earthy and smoky, but the rubber didn’t totally go away. Lemon marmalade. I do enjoy these soapy touches, though, which remind me of a tequila. Finish: medium, similar. Perhaps half an olive in the aftertaste, but that’s a little late. Comments: I’d call this a cachaça of acceptable proportions, but it sure isn’t a proper malternative. SGP:551 - 72 points.

Vale Verde ‘Ouro Extra Premium’ (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012)

Vale Verde ‘Ouro Extra Premium’ (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012) Four stars Of course the name is a little scary (Extra Premium, not Vale Verde) but I’ve heard good things about this brand from Minas Gerais. This one is a three years old, matured in oak this time (carvalho). Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: oh yes! We’re in Jamaica, and I’m wondering if they’re using dunder pits and bacterial fermentation as well in Minas Gerais. Superb nose, fresh and deep, smoky, tarry, olive-y, lemony, yet relatively rounded, with pink grapefruits and perhaps notes of plantains… And even guess what, peat! Mouth: totally and plainly yes! A blend of Haitian clairin and Jamaican high-ester rum, but with a superb lightness. Pristine spirit. Finish: rather long, earthier, tarry… With more smoky liquorice in the aftertaste… But what a shame that they didn’t bottle this at 45% vol! Comments: indeed, this IS extra-premium. Where is this green valley? On Islay? SGP:363 - 87 points.

In an ideal world, we would manage to try an older Vale Verde now, to check if it behaves like a whisky from Islay indeed… But of course this is an ideal world!...

Vale Verde 12 yo ‘Edição Especial’ (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012)

Vale Verde 12 yo ‘Edição Especial’ (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012) Four stars and a halfI so hate it that they bottled this at 40% vol! It’s ex-European oak – you would have thought that the USA were closer. Oh and apparently, it’s been voted best cachaça by a bunch of Brazilian experts. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is not funny, who did pour a blend of 90% Benriach 1976 and 10% Ardbeg 1975 into those European casks? What’s the trick here? This is simply sublime, as complex as any aged spirit can be, and indeed totally ‘Scottish’. Impressed. Mouth: holy featherless crow! Please call the anti-sugarcanoporn brigade! Sure they should hang the comrade who decided to go down to 40% vol., but other than that, this is a superb combination of tropical fruits (mangos, bananas, and papayas first) and coastal/briny/smoky elements. Salt, smoke, ashes, salty liquorice, and all that. Finish: shortish (boo-hoo-hoo) yet superbly olive-y and smoky. Plus ultra-ripe bananas. Comments: I just cannot go to 90, because of the lack of power, zing, and oomph, but we’re very close. A perfect malternative, for sure. SGP:553 - 89 points.

All is well! We just need a ‘signature’ cachaça, and we’re off. Maybe this one…

Sapucaia ‘Velha Reserva De Familia’ (40.5%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012)

Sapucaia ‘Velha Reserva De Familia’ (40.5%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012) Three stars This one is a 10 years old from the region of Sào Paulo (home of Ayrton Senna!) It was matured in oak casks. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: subtler, perhaps more elegant, with notes of perfumed fur coat, benzoin, vetiver, green oranges… There’s also a little fresh paint, carbolinium… and then green apples. Really intriguing, I’m curious about the palate… Mouth: it hasn’t quite got the oomph of the old Vale Verde, I’m afraid, and perhaps is it less well-chiselled, but it’s still very nice, almondy, with nice touches of almond soap, lemon liqueur, a little salt… Finish: medium, rather fresh. Lemon and a touch of salt. Comments: very good, but I liked the nose better. SGP:452 - 82 points.

Good, I should have tried forty-three cachaça instead of just twelve, given that I’ve called this ‘a marathon’, but I don’t think that would have been serious and sensible. Better put an end to this session, while I’m happy that we found quite a few new proper malternatives. Oh and check their prices, some are incredibly low…

The Podium:

GOLD Vale Verde 12 yo

SILVER Vale Verde ‘Ouro'

BRONZE Taverna de Minas ‘Ouro'

(Thank you Stijn!)

 

 

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August 5, 2016


Whiskyfun

Little duets, today Hazelburn

They’re very discreet, and yet they make a brilliant malt. Actually, I’m not sure they distilled enough Hazelburn in the past to keep us happy (and quiet). Mind you, it’s triple distilled, so they need to do much more work.

Hazelburn 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2014)

Hazelburn 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2014) Five stars Not quite the latest batches, I’m late once again, but remember we have only one taster at WF, and that that taster’s only got one liver. Colour: white wine. Nose: if their aim was to make a much lighter Springbank, I’m happy to report that they failed miserably. Granted, this is lighter than Springbank (and than Longrow, a fortiori), but it’s still got his magnificent fatty and mineral profile that’s so amazing to us lovers of the ‘old Highlands’ style. Sunflower oil, paraffin, tinned pineapples and oranges, perhaps roses and perhaps litchis. So it is theoretically lighter, but it’s no light whisky. Mouth: well, I believe they could distil it seventeen times, it would still be some fat and ‘wide’ spirit. Exceptional palate, as waxy and lemony as waxed lemons. Plus clay, olive oil, drops of seawater, and a gingery earthiness that’s just perfect. Finish: long, waxy, mineral, perfectly bitter. Comments: love these total failures. A lighter Springbank, mwahahaha… (insert long cavernous echoes here)… Oh and I think it beats the Rundlets and Something 10 yo that came out at the same time fair and square. And the price is insane (£36 or something). Go buy bottles (S., please!) SGP:452 - 90 points.

Now, is the next one an official or an independent bottling?

Hazelburn 13 yo 2001/2015 (50.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 288 bottles)

Hazelburn 13 yo 2001/2015 (50.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 288 bottles) Four stars Yeah, independent or official? Beginner special; the owners of Springbank that make Hazelburn also own Cadenhead. Colour: white wine, all great. Nose: very similar, which isn’t a surprise, but I find it rather more timid, shy, closed… Ah? With water: raw wool, washing powder, chalk, grass… As unsexy as malt whisky can be. Much better than pornographic malts, for sure. Mouth (neat): it’s to be wondered if ‘someone’ didn’t build some kind of gigantic pipe that goes from Clynelish to Springbank. A pipe that goes both ways. Now I wouldn’t say this is totally perfect, I love the zesty lemons, I’m a little less fond of the (very relative) paraffiny/soapy notes. Love the medicinal part, though. Antiseptics. With water: same, more or less, water doesn’t change much. Finish: long, much earthier, gentiany, rooty… All that, I cherish. Comments: this is very difficult. It’s great whisky (a lighter Springbank, really, that’s the best of the decade) but the official 10 was so totally perfect that, well it kind of got the death seat. Now if you would excuse me, I need to down that little 10 yo… SGP:452 - 85 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Hazelburn I've tasted so far

 

 

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August 4, 2016


Whiskyfun

Top-form new Edradour

I’ve been to Edradour again a few months ago, and was flabbergasted by the amount of (smart) work they’ve done there. Oh and by the whiskies, but to put things into perspective, perhaps should we start with, well, you see, those batches…

Edradour 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2000)

Edradour 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2000) Still Pernod’s make. Might be a little difficult… Colour: amber. Nose: well, this batch was rather less offensive than others, despite the ‘inherent’ soapiness and the notes of stewed cabbage. There are some nice leathery oranges on top of all that, as well as notes of flower jelly. Roses? Or rather peonies? (not saying you may make jelly out of peonies, mind you). Mouth: yeah no, the plastic-like notes are there, the soap as well, and that makes the whole experience pretty difficult. Finish: medium, a little better. Oranges and chocolate. Comments: it was the last time we’re trying these batches, and remember, that was for the sake of comparison. SGP:361 - 55 points.

Let’s get serious!...

Edradour 15 yo ‘Fairy Flag’ (46%, OB, +/-2016)

Edradour 15 yo ‘Fairy Flag’ (46%, OB, +/-2016) Four stars A bizarre label, but it takes all sorts to make a world, doesn’t it. Colour: deep gold. Nose: leather, chocolate, tobacco, and saltpetre, this is a nice start. Goes on with a newly opened pack of cigarettes (soon banned everywhere!) and a little camphor (tiger balm), then rather Seville oranges and some kind of sooty earth, gravel, flints… And let’s not forget our beloved walnuts! Mouth: unusual and excellent. Turmeric, celery, pink grapefruits, chocolate, blackberries, raisins, more tobacco… It’s rather singular (they say idiosyncratic in good circles, don’t they) but that’s totally and asset, while it was an obvious flaw in the old Pernod bottle. Finish: long, with chestnuts, leather, and cracked pepper. Not a common combination, but indeed it works. Comments: a dry, unusual style that really works. Excellent characterful malt, while character is not exactly what many other distilleries seem to be seeking these days. And yet, yes it’s probably ‘older’ distillate by the former owners, as Signatory started distilling in 2002 if I’m not mistaken. Go figure… SGP:352 - 86 points.

More 15 yo please…

Edradour 15 yo 1999/2015 (56.4%, OB, casks #902-903, 472 bottles)

Edradour 15 yo 1999/2015 (56.4%, OB, casks #902-903, 472 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: another one that’s maybe not for Whisky Live Buckingham, as it’s got a rustic, earthy side upfront, but it’s all to my liking, with earth indeed, pipe tobacco, soot, ‘old wine cellar’, musty stuff, orange rinds, a new box of 8-9-8 (that’s cigars), and really, a wonderful earthiness. With water: flints and used matches, but in an orderly fashion and without excesses. Perhaps was it for Buckingham, after all. Entering an old wine cellar where the air is cool while it’s steaming hot outside. Mouth (neat): very super good, once again a notch unlikely, with plenty of orange zests and some funny herbs (no, not those, rather peppermint and perhaps sorrel), and then a growing peppery profile that’s surprising yet good. Pepper and orange zests work well together. With water: excellent! Tonic water, oranges, ginger ale, lemongrass… But the whisky’s ruined, it gets as cloudy as camel milk once water’s been added. Finish: long, a little more peppery and leathery. Comments: really very good, once again. We could spend hours arguing about which 15 we liked best. Okay, it’s a draw. SGP:451 - 86 points.

Edradour 10 yo 2004/2015 (60.7%, OB, Straight From The Cask, sherry butt, cask #407, 912 bottles)

Edradour 10 yo 2004/2015 (60.7%, OB, Straight From The Cask, sherry butt, cask #407, 912 bottles) Four stars and a half Yes that’s a lot of bottles at cask strength, even from a butt, but they’re 50cl bottles. Oh and this is Signatory’s own make now, not Pernod’s heritage. Colour: amber. Nose: extremely nutty and sooty, as if you’d be entering some kind of damp place where they keep walnuts and pecans. That’s all fictional, of course, not sure that would be the right place for keeping nuts. We’ve also got the leather and tobacco combo, a few ‘good’ struck matches, and then several autumny scents, between mushrooms and, well, autumn leaves. With water: exceptional! Incense, pot-pourri, ‘visiting a Balinese temple’, earth, mushroom… A very umami-esque whisky for sure. I’m all for this, it’s oh-so uncommercial. Mouth (neat): a blend of Spanish brandy and Demerara rum this time, I assure you. Raisins, prunes, bitter oranges, ginger, and repeat. I find this excellent and really powerful. With water: amazing how it swims. Pecan pie, good caramel, sweet pipe tobacco, prunes… In truth we’re in Armagnac territories. Finish: long, a bit spicier, but still very armagnacky. That would be armagnac at cask strength, no need to say. Comments: a Gascon malt whisky, who could resist that? Besides, I think it’s dear Ian Henderson who distilled it. SGP:462 - 89 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Edradour I've tasted so far

 

 

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August 3, 2016


Whiskyfun

Little duets, Ardbeg vs. Ledaig

I’ve written a few times already that modern Ledaig was the new Ardbeg, which seems to have ‘gently’ infuriated quite a few friends. Which, to tell you the truth, is understandable, as good people would like hidden gems to remain hidden as long as possible. And, well, maybe was I wrong… And there’s only one way to find out, setting both whiskies in the ring. Provided, no need to say, that they fight in the same category (age, strength, cask…)

Ar6 (55.7%, Elements of Islay, bourbon, 2016)

Ar6 (55.7%, Elements of Islay, bourbon, 2016) Four stars and a half I so liked Ar1, 2, 4 and 5. Nope, never tried Ar3 (S., you useless ‘whisky blogger’!) Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a rather austere one, it seems, but it is quite ‘Ardbeg’, with a lot of tincture of iodine, hessian, Islay mud, ashes, and a wee feeling of capsicum and cocoa powder. It’s only after a good two minutes that gentler notes of custard and coconut oil come out, but they’d never get in the spirit’s way. Phew! Now what it hasn’t got, and what was in ‘old’ Ardbeg, is this very peculiar combination that used to involve coal tar and resinous camphor. With water: fresh almonds, paint, and linseed oil! That, I like a lot. Like a fish in water. Mouth (neat): a millimetric arrival, on lemon, smoked fish, tar, and vanilla. Totally modern Ardbeg ex-first or second fill bourbon. Full, big, and a tad simple, but there sure is a virtue to simplicity. With water: these notes of paint and almonds again, then verbena and other aromatic herbs. Ex-chartreuse cask? Finish: long, saltier, tarry, aromatic and herbal. Ardbeggian. Comments: frankly, I wasn’t totally convinced as long as it was unreduced, but indeed it totally loves water and becomes wonderful. A true Esther Williams of whisky. They should sell it with a bottle of Evian or Vittel. SGP:567 – 89 points.

Ledaig 10 yo 2005/2015 (56.7%, Single Cask Nation, refill bourbon barrel, cask #10, 235 bottles)

Ledaig 10 yo 2005/2015 (56.7%, Single Cask Nation, refill bourbon barrel, cask #10, 235 bottles) Four stars and a half Labelled as Tobermory but it’s well a Ledaig. Let’s see what our American friends have come up with… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: yeah well, the cousinhood is very obvious. The cask has been a little less active here, so there’s almost no custard whatsoever (let alone any coconut), but the cores are very similar indeed. Hessian, coal smoke, mercurochrome, green pepper, seawater… It’s almost troubling, to tell you the truth. With water: carbolinium, brine, and mud, with also a lot of ashes. Cigar ashes. Mouth (neat): punchy and chiselled, very straight, on something like smoked and salted limejuice. Certainly more brine and seawater than in the Ardbeg, and less roundness. With water: another perfect young Ledaig. Perhaps a notch tart and bitter (over-infused green tea) but many whisky enthusiasts love this, including this very one. Finish: long, clean, salty, very coastal, ashy and smoky. Lemon-flavoured marzipan in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s one of the mezcaly ones. I’m totally unable to decide between these two whiskies, I’m afraid, for they’re so totally in the same league (and boxing category). SGP:467 - 89 points.

Well, with that we're well set…

 

 

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August 2, 2016


Whiskyfun

Little duets, Lochindaal vs. Port Charlotte

Specialty Drinks have just released a new bunch of ‘Elements of Islay’ bottlings, including an intriguing Ln1. Which stands for Lochindaal, which is some quasi-experimental peated Bruichladdich. There’s some new ‘Ar’ too, but we’re very curious at WF Towers, and with whisky, curiosity never killed any mouser… So it’s going to be the Ln first.

Ln1 (62.5%, Elements of Islay, first fill bourbon, 2016)

Ln1 (62.5%, Elements of Islay, first fill bourbon, 2016) Four stars and a half So this is Lochindaal, a peated malt by Bruichladdich that sits somewhere between Port Charlotte and Octomore as far as smokiness is concerned (50ppm in the malted barley). The name Lochindaal's been used in the past by third parties for both Bowmore and Bruichladdich, but this is different. Colour: straw. Nose: rather aggressive at first nosing, which is normal at this strength, and then more and more mentholy and medicinal. There’s smoke, antiseptic and camphor just everywhere! Some leaven too, but let’s not go too far, it needs water… With water: smoked grass, garden bonfire, and more camphor and eucalyptus. Would love to know about the cut for this. Mouth (neat): a feeling of sucking some smoked lemon bonbons. Some green tea and grass in the background. Very powerful, with a sweet side. With water: swims extremely well, like most ‘un-wine-ed’ Bruichladdichs. You can literally drown it and bring it down to 30% vol. it would still swim. Wonderful combo with wet clothes, diesel oil, iodine, and indeed quite some lime and camphor. Finish: very long, with a fatness, and yet a lightness that’s brought by the lemony side. Very grassy aftertaste, with some coconut coming through with water. Comments: absolutely excellent, perhaps just not flabbergastingly complex. More Lochindaal please! SGP:467 - 88 points.

So, let’s find a Port Charlotte, just to check the peat level ‘in the glass’. Oh and why not a sherry monster for a change? I remember those early private sherry bloodtubs with much fondness…

Port Charlotte 10 yo 2003/2013 (63.1%, Scoma, sherry hogshead, cask #617, 290 bottles)

Port Charlotte 10 yo 2003/2013 (63.1%, Scoma, sherry hogshead, cask #617, 290 bottles) Five stars Yes a total monster, most probably. Colour: office coffee. Nose: Very sulphury, but I think there’s ‘good’ sulphur (matches, guns) and ‘bad’ sulphur (ard-boiled eggs, cooked cabbage). It’s the former situation that’s occurring here, with also notes of coal dust (or, as I sometimes say, brake pads after the Nordschleife), used fireworks, charcoal, ashtray, bitter chocolate, liquorice… This is quite spectacular, but sometimes they don’t swim well when the sherry’s ‘like that’. Let’s figure out… With water: magic. Sake, cigars, soy sauce, umami… It gets very ‘Japanese’. Mouth (neat): gives you some kind of wafer when unreduced! Bang! I get some heavy smoky liquorice, but other than that, it tends to numb your palate, so, quick… With water: wonderful sherry/peat combo. Leather, tobacco, strawberry jam, cassis bud tea, marmalade… Perfect. Finish: very long, with a bitter/leathery side that works to perfection here, and a sweeter Campari-like aftertaste. Comments: big, fat, and excellent. SGP:567 - 90 points.

(and hvala, Tom)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Port Charlotte I've tasted so far

 

 

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August 1, 2016


Whiskyfun

Little duets, today Ben Nevis

Always something happening in any Ben Nevis malt whisky! Which reminds me that I should try a newer batch of the official 10 as soon as possible, but sadly, that won’t happen today…

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2016 (50.5%, The Whisky Agency, refill sherry, 360 bottles)

Ben Nevis 19 yo 1996/2016 (50.5%, The Whisky Agency, refill sherry, 360 bottles) Five stars This series is called ‘good vibes’, I don’t think Peter Tosh would have disapproved. Colour: straw. Nose: oh perfect! A mineral fruitiness, with peaches and hot limestone in the heart of summer (yes I speak with experience), then aspirin tablets, lamp oil, cantaloupes, a little seal blubber, and a lot of grapefruits. Wonderful style, not seen anywhere else. With water: wonderful farmy development. Hay, farmyard, grains… And a trace of suntan lotion. Mouth (neat): exceptional! Tell me about a hidden gem… Stunning peachy fruits, tangerines, pink bananas, cranberries… This fruitiness is totally glorious. With water: indeed, indeed. It’s not that it’s a surprise, especially given the bottlers, but still, it is a surprise. Finish: medium, fresh, fruity. Blood oranges. Comments: I knew it ‘could’ be excellent, but this excellent?! In the same cluster as Clynelish and Pulteney (when Pulteney’s not killed by wood). SGP:651 - 90 points.

Bwaah, I had thought this 1996 would be a gentle challenger, but it’s rather a winner. A tougher job for the older bro… Let’s find one that’s not too sherried… Perhaps this?...

Ben Nevis 26 yo 1973/1999 (50.8%, OB, casks #355-356, 400 bottles)

Ben Nevis 26 yo 1973/1999 (50.8%, OB, casks #355-356, 400 bottles) Three stars Colour: gold. Nose: yeah yeah yeah. Linseed oil and orange peel, plasticine and fresh almonds, the same peaches as in the 1996, and some very nice whiffs of high-brand moisturizer. Guerlain or something, I’m no expert. With water: strange, the hand cream comes to the front, which makes the whole a notch too soapy/creamy for me. Mouth (neat): mineral, waxy, oily, citrusy, almondy. Yes we’ll keep this short and sweet. With water: not sure, it kind of falls apart, with the good stuff on one side (lemons) and a bizarre chemical waxiness on the other side (Play-doh, plastic). A shame, this started very well. Finish: medium, still oddly sappy, but the background stuff is excellent, lemons, zests… Comments: not too sure about this one. In theory, many Ben Nevisses from the late 1960s and early 1970s were superb whiskies, but in practice, this one kind of failed. Now, it’s still very good whisky, just not as legendary as others. And it’s not impossible that it got a death seat after the 1996. SGP:461 - 81 points.

More tasting notes Check the index of all Ben Nevis I've tasted so far

 

Whiskyfun fav of the month

July 2016

Favourite recent bottling:
Benrinnes 30 yo 1984/2015 (56.6%, Silver Seal, cask #2268, 480 bottles) - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Tamdhu 23 yo 1950/1973 (83° proof, OB, Highland Distillers) - WF 94

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Caol Ila 8 yo 2007/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, bourbon barrel, cask #315325, 320 bottles) - WF 90

Favourite malternative:
Uitvlugt 18 yo 1997/2016 (45%, Compagnie des Indes, Guyana, cask #MGA4, 637 bottles) - WF 91

 

 

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