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May 2, 2016


Wacky vatt... I mean, blended malts

There are more and more of them. Some disclose what's inside, but many don't. They need a lot of branding, and perhaps a few stories, or they'll remain 'cheap humble bastards'. Sure you can claim that your blenders are the modern Leonardos (not Di Caprio), and that they actually do 'create' something, but frankly, all that is a little 'pushed' and I know many friends who remain a little, say unconvinced. And yet, some of these bastard malts are very good. Let's try a few, at random - there are so many of them these days! Oh, almost forgot to say, at WF Towers, we do not consider the teaspooned blended malts (Burnside, Westport, Williamson and others) as actual blended malts, they're just single malts in disguise. So we'll avoid them today...

Older than Old (46.5%, Eiling Lim, blended malt, 2015)

Older than Old (46.5%, Eiling Lim, blended malt, 2015) Four stars and a half This wee batch contains Highland and Speyside malt whiskies. It’s all pretty secret, so, shhh… Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s coherent, and it’s very pleasant, midway between a sherry monster and a fresh fruit bomb. And that works. Raisins, white Port, pastries, a little pinesap (some old wood in there), perhaps a little leather (new shoes just out of their box), and a little muscovado sugar. And there, a little rum. I’m amazed by the fact that its not dissonant at all, they may have done  some marriage for a few weeks or months. Mouth: just excellent. It’s got something of Glen Garioch, mind you, especially this distant saltiness and a mild smoke, before more praline and soft Swiss chocolate join in the dancing. A touch of ginger liqueur, perhaps. Perfect strength and body. Finish: quite long, well rounded, but with good spikes and bumps. It’s not one of these old vatted malts to sip in a Chesterfield armchair while listening to Purcell. Oh forget about that. Comments: real good, but on the other hand, they may have used real good components. SGP:552 - 89 points.

A session that starts well!

Rìgh Seumas II 8 yo 2007/2015 (46%, Murray McDavid, blended malt, 1298 bottles)

Rìgh Seumas II 8 yo 2007/2015 (46%, Murray McDavid, blended malt, 1298 bottles) Four stars Righ Seumas II? Wasn’t that one of the guys in the early episodes of Game of Thrones? It’s interesting that MMcD would tell us what’s inside, that is to say Auchentoshan, Arran, Bruichladdich, Old Rhosdhu, and Tobermory. What a wacky combo indeed, but they wouldn’t  tell us about the proportions. As long as that’s not 90% Rhosdhu, I’m fine. Colour: white wine with a funny hue of… orange wine (if you never tried orange wine – it’s for French bobos - please… don’t.) Nose: we’re having breakfast. I don’t think I’ve found this much porridge in one whisky before. And muesli, smoked tea, white bread… That does give it a feeling of ‘craft’ as can be encountered in a few American or European new craft whiskies. And I’m totally not against that. Mouth: but this is very good! Sure there’s a leafy bitterness, and sure it’s probably not for everyone (if you like Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve, please move it along), but this way of being totally ‘on cereals’ is lovely. Very well done. Finish: quite long, with grapefruits and spices such as caraway and poppy seeds. They just couldn’t go with the flow. Sadly, the aftertaste is a little bitter and drying. Loses a few points. Comments: I was’t expecting much, and I was wrong (who said ‘again’, who?) SGP:461 - 86 points.

Bowmore & Craigellachie (46%, Douglas Laing, Double Barrel, +/-2016)

Bowmore & Craigellachie (46%, Douglas Laing, Double Barrel, +/-2016) No age, so probably young to very young. Colour: gold. Nose: oh my, they reinvented FWP. Unless there’s some 1980s Bowmore inside, which I doubt. Lavender soap, myrtle liqueur, brake fluid, smoked fish, juniper berries, broom… It sure is unlike any other malt whisky! It’s not that Bowmore and Craigellachie clash, they just create a new dimension, never seen before. In a way, it’s like going on holidays in Moldova. Mouth: better, or at least a little more normal. I didn’t say civilised. Having said that the soapy tones are still there. Some mad recipe made by someone who’d have smoked herrings using blackcurrant and lavender wood and leaves. I’ve heard they do that in Moldova (I’m joking! And as a matter of fact, I’m planning a visit to Moldova). Finish: quite long and rather unlikely. Sure you get used to these flavours, and should you quaff two litres, you’ll find it all great. But still… Comments: as they say in Iceland, totally no comprendo. SGP:575 - 65 points.

Let’s look for some redemption malt…

Ardbeg & Craigellachie (46%, Douglas Laing, Double Barrel, +/-2016)

Ardbeg & Craigellachie (46%, Douglas Laing, Double Barrel, +/-2016) Four stars and a halfI find it admirable to dump a cask of Ardbeg – however young - into a vatting, while you could probably sell it as a single for double the price. Unless, unless… Colour: white wine. Nose: much more mainstream, classic, easy, and frankly pleasant. The vatting added a layer of fresh fruits to Ardbeg’s raw smoke, but frankly, it’s the latter that’s catching all the light. I’m not even sure someone would notice that ‘something else’ was added to Ardbeg, even if, now that we know it, it’s a tad lighter than the usual Ardbeg. Mouth: very good, very Ardbeg Ten. Smoke, brine, lemon, a little tar, a little liquorice… I guess we should be able to taste both casks individually to check how they worked together, but this is very ‘Ardbeg’. And a very good Ardbeg. Finish: long, precise, very Ardbeggian. Comments: aaaah! In fact, this may have worked as if they had matured some Ardbeg in some very active sweet American oak. Excellent. And proof that it wasn’t the Craig’ in the previous one ;-). SGP:456 - 89 points.

While we’re at DL’s and on Islay…

Clan Denny Islay (46.5%, Douglas Laing, blended malt, +/-2015)

Clan Denny Islay (46.5%, Douglas Laing, blended malt, +/-2015) Five stars What did they do to this label? Them who are usually so good at that? Friday night design? (noh, don’t fire the trainee!) But yeah, it’s the liquid that counts… And the latter gathers 7 Islay malts ‘including whisky from Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila’. Mmm, there are two missing. Let’s not play the guessing game… Colour: gold. Nose: there are whiffs of rubber at first nosing but those are going away. What’s left is seawater, macha, smoked ultra-ripe apples, lapsang souchong (litres), plenty of smoked barley (visiting a working kiln), and ashes. As usual, the peaters are playing first trumpets. Mouth: I’m afraid it’s excellent! Complex, smoky, but not ‘stupidly smoky’, with some tobacco, old liqueurs, herbal teas aplenty, touches of wax and plasticine, ‘ideas’ of good Calvados (the one that contains more pears than apples)… No, really, this was composed with enormous gusto. Finish: perfect, earthy, gentiany, ashy, mezcaly… Comments: I hate it that we do not know about the age(s), but I have to bow down before this fantastic young composition. And it’s not even expensive. People often ask me what they should buy for cheap. Today, the answer is ‘this’. SGP:456 - 90 points.

What a disaster, all these NAS vatted malts that are gathering high scores… Shame on me! But perhaps will some very old vatted destroy them? Let’s call to MMcD for help…

Coinninch 20 yo 1995/2015 (46%, Murray McDavid, blended malt, 250 bottles)

Coinninch 20 yo 1995/2015 (46%, Murray McDavid, blended malt, 250 bottles) Three stars and a half Oh what a name again! But why not, maybe is it better than Norse gods? What? You say Coinninch was a Norse god? There are eight different malts inside, from all Scottish regions. Colour: pale gold. Nose: gutted, they did it again. No peat this time – or very little – rather a wonderful, quite subtle waxy Highlandness, with some sea air, some linseed oil, some kelp, some green apples, some lemons, some… wait, some peat! It is actually rather peaty. How would I put it, remember the older Black Bottle? That’s more or less the style, but this one has got more profoundness and certainly more depth (tsk tsk, that’s the same, S.) I think they almost reconstructed Clynelish, no small feat. Mouth: super good, for sure. What bothers me a little more is this sweet and oily vanillaness that coats it and makes it a little slow after the wonderful nose. It’s lost a bit of oomph and zestiness, but there’s no denying, it’s very good. Oranges, vanilla, smoked fruits, and perhaps a little too much fudge (given the style). Finish: rather long, rather smokier (a peater seems to be willing to have the last word) and slightly salty. Which is good. Comments: I find it less interesting than the Rìgh Seumas, but it’s most certainly very good whisky. IN a way, and that’s only my opinion, there’s either not enough peat, or too much of it (oh S., would you mind your own business please!) SGP:553 - 83 points.

Very happy with this session. NAS, blended malts… With whisky, paradise can be so close to hell!



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