Latest entry only, the rest is on the full website. Santé!

March 27, 2015


Happy International Whisky Day!

Michael Jackson
Every year since 2008, International Whisk(e)y Day celebrates the birthday of the late Michael Jackson, eternal king of whisky writing, and the greatest spirit in the world. Raise a glass on March 27th and help fight Parkinson's Disease!

We did that in the past, let’s do it again, we’ll toast to Michael Jackson’s memory with one of, if not his favourite distillery, Macallan. We’ll start with the usual wee aperitif, and then try to find something rarer, something the great man would have probably enjoyed!...

Macallan 12 yo 'Fine Oak' (40%, OB, +/-2014)

Macallan 12 yo 'Fine Oak' (40%, OB, +/-2014) Two stars and a half Not very maniacal bottles anymore, but you never know. Older 12 FO used to cruise along the WF 78 line. Colour: dark straw. Nose: have you also found quite some menthol in recent batches? And then rather butterscotch and shortbread, with a layer of caramelised apples and hazelnut butter? And then more beer and porridge, with a spirity side? Mouth: tastes young and a little spirity, with a slightly thin body. More apple juice, malt, a touch of chocolate and a touch of honey. Sour fruits in the background (that’s not too far away). Finish: short and rather thin. Roasted nuts and a little maple syrup, plus ‘ideas’ of marmalade. Comments: very light malt whisky, easy to drink. Similar feelings as last time I tried it. SGP:331 - 78 points.

Aperitif, done. Lets get down to business… Oh, unless we first have another light one, since only good comparison is reason…

Macallan 1994/2014 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speymalt)

Macallan 1994/2014 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speymalt) Three stars and a halfColour: pale gold. Nose: straighter and tighter, with less nuts and biscuits, and rather more barley and ripe garden fruits, which may add freshness. On the other hand, I find it rather less aromatic, and probably a little grassier. Mouth: oh yeah, this has much more oomph, actually, more freshness, fruits, definition, tightness, immediacy… Apples, gooseberries and rhubarb pie, then oranges, aromatic honey (thyme, perhaps) and golden raisins. Very nice touch of sherry, with some walnut cake and raisins. Unless that’s Alsatian kougelhopf… Finish: good length, good malty fruitiness, with heather honey and a few roasted (right, burnt) raisins. Comments: this one was more satisfying than the 12 FO, longer, with more volume… But its true that it’s also quite older. Goes down very well. SGP:441 - 83 points.

So, older Macallans…

Macallan 14 yo 1980/1994 (43%, Master of Malt, 360 bottles)

Macallan 14 yo 1980/1994 (43%, Master of Malt, 360 bottles) Four stars and a half This rare Macallan by Master of Malt in their earlier form, that is to say before the Internet ;-). Colour: amber. Nose: hold on, wasn’t this an OB? It’s very ‘older OB’ indeed, that is to say with a rather magnificent paxa… err, sherry that used to translate into tinned pineapples, mangos, blond tobacco, sultanas, fig liqueur, honey, cigars, sandalwood, heather honey… This nose is wonderful, complex, delicate and assertive at the same time. I even find whiffs of ‘good’ Italian tomato sauce, the ones that are kind of fruity. Matriciana? Mouth: and yes yes yes! Full Macallanness, sherry, raisins, jams, touches of Turkish delights, marmalade, all that in perfect sync. There’s even this tiny touch of sulphur that goes so well with this style. Finish: the only weaker part, it tends to lose focus, just a bit, and to become a little tea-ish. But remember, only 43% vol. A wee smokiness in the aftertaste. Comments: Macallan Old Skool with all its attributes. Really, this one tastes like a very good older OB (rather a 18 in fact). SGP:551 - 89 points.

We’re making good progress, aren’t we…

Macallan 8 yo 1969/1978 (86.8 US proof, Avery's for Marshall Taylor for Corti Brothers, San Francisco)

Macallan 8 yo 1969/1978 (86.8 US proof, Avery's for Marshall Taylor for Corti Brothers, San Francisco) Five starsOld young whisky, one of most interesting combos. In this case, 8 years + 37 years in glass… Sounds like a paradise, doesn’t it. Colour: gold. Nose: first, I think we have to apologise to the angels who haven’t had much of this during those only eight years in wood. And second, I’m dead sure that a significant part of what the lucky taster can find in this nose wasn’t quite there in 1978. You see, it’s all a matter of aroma precursors that need time to do their jobs, even when in glass. In this case, they went towards magnificent beehive-y notes and the best old Sauternes and Sélections de Grains Nobles. Ach ja, or Trockenbeerenauslese. Raisins, apricots, mirabelles, honey, mushrooms, coffee, light molasses, agave syrup, citronella… What’s also striking is that this is complex and focussed at the same time. You’re right, that’s style. Mouth: well, this could as well be 30 years old, despite the fact that’s there’s a wee roughness from young age remaining there. Other than that, it’s a tarte tatin made out of apples and pears and covered with the finest spices and honeys. Finish: this wee roughness hasn’t left. Some grass and tannins from 1978 haven’t said their final word. Comments: rather fascinating, even if a wee bit of intellectualisation may be needed to fully enjoy this old young baby. Oh wait, there, menthol and liquorice… It remained fierce! SGP:461 - 90 points.

Let’s close this chapter with some classic of the classics. This one’s really for Michael!

Macallan 1951 (80°proof, OB, Campbell, Hope & King, Italy, +/-1966)

Macallan 1951 (80°proof, OB, Campbell, Hope & King, Italy, +/-1966) Five stars It’s got a red sticker on the bottom of the main label, which, in WF’s book, makes it different from the other 1951s by CH&K that haven’t got that red sticker – and that we’ve tried before. Okay? BTW, in case you don’t know, Campbell, Hope & King were the ‘official’ bottlers of Macallan until around 1978, together with G&M who were a bit less ‘official’ (but pretty good!) Macallan themselves took over around 1980. Sadly, CH&K went to the wall in the late 1970s, not too sure that was a consequence – or was it the cause. But enough gossip… Colour: gold. Nose: this is real old Macallan, with a seemingly much fatter profile, full of oils, saps and earths, then notes of old books and leathers, inks, tobacco, pitch… It’s only after that very tertiary barrage that fruitier and jammier notes take off, such as dates, figs and raisins, marmalade, cherry jam and all that. After ten minutes if rather becomes mentholy, in a beautiful way. Humus, moss, mushrooms… Mouth: yess. Old chartreuse plus old Grand-Marnier, fifty-fifty. Oily mouth feel (worm tubs and all that), herbs, jams, soy sauce, liqueurs, peat smokiness, liquorice, mineral things, mint drops, cigarette tobacco, pipe tobacco, a touch of salt… This bottle was brilliant. And it tastes like 46% vol. Finish: very long, with less sweetness – always good in any finish – and a lasting feeling of salty mineral things, plus liquorice. Comments: indeed, great bottle. Old bottles tend to become a bit different from each other, especially when they were kept in very different environments, so scores can vary quite a bit. Yeah, this one was a great one, I’m sure it had been kept next to an Old Clynelish. Sorry, just another lousy joke. SGP:562 - 93 points.

Santé, Michael!

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Block Today: JAZZ, since Michael Jackson was also a huge jazz fan and connoisseur. Performer: Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Track: a joyful rendition of Sweet Georgia Brown. Please visit buy his music...


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