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Serge whiskyfun

 

Whiskies 15,298
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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (92)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
13)
Banff (50)
Ben Nevis (1
87)
Ben Wyvis (3)
Benriach (1
85)
Benrinnes (
90)
Benromach (6
6)
Bladnoch (
80)
Blair Athol (
8
5)
Bowmore (5
19)
Braes of Glenlivet (4
6)
Brora (1
32)
Bruichladdich (2
9
8)
Bunnahabhain (3
42)

Dailuaine (60)
Dallas Dhu (
41)
Dalmore (1
20)
Dalwhinnie (
31)
Deanston (4
8)
Dufftown (51)

Edradour (72)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
5
3)
Laphroaig (4
49)
Ledaig (1
2
8)
Linkwood (1
4
9)
Littlemill (1
23)
Loch Lomond (
65)
Lochside (65)
Longmorn (2
1
8)
Longrow (7
4)
Macallan (303)
Macduff (6
8)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
4
3)
Millburn (2
3)
Miltonduff (
92)
Mortlach (1
98)
Mosstowie (2
2)

Scapa (46)
Speyburn (
44)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (3
56)
St-Magdalene (5
1)
Strathisla (
10
4)
Strathmill (
41)

 
 
Pete and Jack



2020
March 1
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2019
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
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2018
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
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2017
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
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2016
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
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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

 
Malt maniacs goodies
 

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The Magical History
of the Great
Brora Distillery
1969 - 1983

   


 

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Disclaimer
 

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
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
20

 


Scotch Legal Announcement

 
 

April 5, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Rum until we succumb
I should do smaller rum sessions more frequently, but sadly I’m not that organised. Instead what happens is I tend to be forced into it when rum samples accumulate sufficiently that they start to fall off the shelf where I keep them.

 

When it comes to rum I am very much a beginner, although I have my preferences for the more estery, exotic and drier, funkier styles. Just as I detest the sugar-doused abominations that clot on supermarket shelves the world over. It’s a tricky spirit in many ways and please don’t ever forget I’m coming at it from the perspective of a malt whisky lover who enjoys charismatic, distillate-forward styles of spirit. We’ll have quite a few today, in the kind of order that makes loose sense to me - although, possibly not to you.

 

 

I should also add that this is really about three mini-sessions which were recorded over the space of a few months and then stitched together. Almost all of which happened pre-Covid 19, which explains why there aren’t any references to the current ‘situation’ in today’s notes.

 

 

Labourdonnais 5 yo Batch 1 (49.8%, That Boutique-y Rum Company, Mauritius, PX cask, 1200 bottles)

Labourdonnais 5 yo Batch 1 (49.8%, That Boutique-y Rum Company, Mauritius, PX cask, 1200 bottles)
Labourdonnais is a relatively newish (2006) distillery from Mauritius. This was made from pure cane juice, distilled in a column still and matured full term in PX cask. Colour: copper. Nose: lots of gingerbread, wee touches of lighter fluid, hot brake pads, some soft embrocations, coffee liqueur, cocktail sugar syrups and some drops of assorted of cooking oils. Gets increasingly grassy with time and some notes of green olive. Mouth: rather sharp, some slightly acrid and pushy woody notes, green pepper, rubber, tarmac, black pepper, smoked paprika and a slightly clumsy sweetness. Finish: short, slightly bitter, burnt brown sugars and roasted root vegetables. Comments: I preferred the nose to the palate, a tad rough and disjointed for me.
SGP: 661 - 73 points.

 

 

Mount Gay Select Blend 7 yo (54%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Barbados, 2400 bottles, 2018)

Mount Gay Select Blend 7 yo (54%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Barbados, 2400 bottles, 2018)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: pleasingly rich and polished at first nosing. Quite a bit of boot polish, coconut milk, lemon rind and an easy, exotic sweetness. Hints of sawdust and more coconut notes. The sweetness is pleasantly natural despite these wee sawdusty notes. With water: greener, fatter, more medicinal, earthier and with some nice notes of black olive and cinnamon. Mouth: good deliver, syrupy in texture, sweet coconut and some assertive spiciness. Green pepper, olive oil, hints of brine and some camphor. With water: develops nicely with these notes of sweet mango chutney, light embrocations, vegetable oil and some more grassy and earthy notes. Good weight and richness still. Finish: medium and with quite a bit of white pepper, lemongrass and yet more coconut. Comments: Very good, the kind of rum you could sip or mix quite happily I think.
SGP: 651 - 84 points.

 

 

St Lucia Distillers Ltd 13 yo 2006/2019 (56%, Chairman’s Reserve for Royal Mile Whiskies, St Lucia, bourbon, 286 bottles)

Chairman’s Reserve 13 yo 2006/2019 (56%, St Lucia Distillers Ltd for Royal Mile Whiskies, St Lucia, bourbon, 286 bottles)
This one was produced in a Vendome pot still, which is a kind of still which features a traditional pot base combined with a column. It was also mature full term in St Lucia. Colour: ruby/amber. Nose: vibrant, fresh and gently medicinal with lots of mashed banana, sultana, prune jelly and lightly caramelised muscovado sugar. Also some pleasing hints of bicycle tyre, brake fluid and a wee funky tang of fermenting fruits. Excellent! With water: leaner, drier, more complex with some earthy tobacco notes, cane sugar, gauze, embrocations, seawater, green olive and plaster. Mouth: nice arrival on brown sugar, pulpy exotic fruits, more bananas - caramelised this time - bandages, lime juice and quite a bit of funky sweetness. Some bitter orange and lemon cordial in the background too. With water:  more cohesion, again a tad drier and more punchy. More medicinal, more complex, some soft spiciness rising up; overall a greater sense of balance and power. Finish: long, bready, rich, more caramelising brown sugars, bandages, ink, dried herbal notes and some crystallised exotic fruits. Superb! Comments: I find this extremely good. Walks a wonderful tightrope between sweet and dry with a lovely evolution once water is added. The nose in particular is very satisfying. Great selection by the folk at RMW!
SGP: 642 - 88 points.

 

 

Diamond (Versailles) 14 yo 2004/2019 (56%, Thompson Brothers for Nauticus & Royal Mile Whiskies, Guyana, bourbon barrel, 250 bottles)

Diamond (Versailles) 14 yo 2004/2019 (56%, Thompson Brothers for Nauticus & Royal Mile Whiskies, Guyana, bourbon barrel, 250 bottles)
This one comes from the famous Versailles single wooden pot still. Nauticus is a newish and excellent bar in Leith. If you’re in Edinburgh I would encourage you to visit. They to tremendous cocktails and always have a short but well curated beer selection on tap. Not to mention a healthy whisky gantry. You might even bump into yours truly as it is effectively my local - but don’t let that discourage you. Colour: straw. Nose: grassy, petrolic, austere and rather pure. Lots of embrocations, crushed seashells, olives in pickling juices and cornichons. There’s also some slightly gassy and vegetal notes. With water: opens up impressively with water, gets very grassy, peppery and earthy with notes of metal polish, gravel and crushed cactus. Also something slightly sweaty and animalistic. Mouth: surprisingly easy arrive with lightly citric esters while underneath it’s also rather rubbery, funky, earthy and tarry. More bandages, elastoplasts, gauze and olive oil diluted with seawater. Also quite flinty as well. With water: again this rather rubbery, sweaty edge - which doesn’t sound nice but is. Fur, black olives, wintergreen, vapour rubs and notes akin to fermenting lemons and mechanical oils. Finish:  good length, rather grassy, oily, slightly tarry, medical and getting increasingly salty and austere. Comments: Probably a tad difficult at times with this austere profile, but it’s charismatic and high quality stuff no doubt.
SGP: 372 - 85 points.

 

 

Uitvlugt 21 yo 1997/2019 (49.1%, Kintra Spirits Rum Collection, Guyana, cask #6, 113 bottles)

Uitvlugt 21 yo 1997/2019 (49.1%, Kintra Spirits Rum Collection, Guyana, cask #6, 113 bottles)
Not much could go wrong here I suspect… Colour: gold. Nose: this typically beautiful and deep concentration of embrocations, bandages and seawater. All shades of olive, brine cut with olive oil, sardines and old oily bicycle chains sprayed with WD40. Beyond that there’s also some fresh citrus fruit, chopped parsley, air freshener and something like Midori melon liqueur. But really it is the coastal and medical combinations that really stand out proudest here. Mouth: a funny but rather fabulous mix of kippers, brine and brown bread studded with olives and rosemary. I love how you get some very pronounced flavour combinations in the best rums. More bandages, plasters, ointments and rock pool water. Finish: long, medical, lemony, slightly earthy and with a very light medical sweetness then a rich and bready aftertaste. Comments: excellent, we’re extremely close to the 90 mark here.
SGP: 472 - 89 points. 

 

 

Let’s leave Guyana for a short break in Trinidad…

 

 

Caroni 2000/2018 ‘Navy Rum Extra Strong’ (51.4%, La Maison du Whisky & Velier 100th Anniversary, Trinidad)

Caroni 2000/2018 ‘Navy Rum Extra Strong’ (51.4%, La Maison du Whisky & Velier 100th Anniversary, Trinidad)
Colour: orange amber. Nose: deep, leathery and spicy. Lots of strong ginger, hot paprika, root beer, some darker chocolate tones, heavy tobacco notes, black pepper, camphor and some quite heavy tarry notes. Damp, animalistic, fat and earthy - some black olives too. I find this heavier, slightly drier style very good and more complex than the lighter Caroni. With water: softer, more cinnamon, camphor, hessian, putty, quite a lot of dried herbs and now touches of anchovy paste and more umami and saline qualities. Very good! Mouth: lots of dry, fat medicines, bitter herbal extracts, natural tar, a powerful earthiness, cured gamed meats, black pepper and an increasingly autolytic and rounded bready quality. The strength works very well here at balancing the more punch aspects of the distillate. With water: the texture has thickened slightly and there’s more rubber, more earth, some soot, plastic, pot pourri, strong black tea and some grippy tannins. Finish: long, leathery, spicy, bready, earthy, savoury and with a strong umami character. Comments: There’s a great tension between complexity and power here that has required quite an impressive balancing act. Worth trying.
SGP: 472 - 88 points.

 

 

Caroni 26 yo 1993/2019 (50.7%, 1423 World Class Spirits ‘Single barrel selection’, Trinidad, barrel, 239 bottles)

Caroni 26 yo 1993/2019 (50.7%, 1423 World Class Spirits ‘Single barrel selection’, Trinidad, barrel, 239 bottles)
This one by Danish importer, retailer and bottler 1423. It’s molasses distilled through a column and then tropically aged until 2008. Apparently nicknamed ‘the beast’. Colour: reddish coffee. Nose: extremely concentrated and extractive in style, you can almost feel the top of the liquid bristling with splinters. However, it’s also quite alluring with these notes of toasted fennel, crushed black pepper, mothballs and fresh paint. Showing this nice mix of medicines, spices and some slightly leathery and meaty tones. With water: turpentine, putty, stewed orange peels, cloves, smoked mint, camphor, vapour rubs and more rather extreme and dried out medical notes. Mouth: ooft! Extremely bitter, concentrated and highly extractive. Pure graphite, strong black coffee with chilli powder, very strong, rather tannic black tea, burnt brown sugar, salted caramel, bicycle inner tube rubber, burnt fennel seeds. Ok, ok, I agree, it’s a beast. With water: still extremely burnt, bitter, extractive and riddled with rather aggressive wood spices. Like chewing coffee grounds, burnt brisket ends and wood char (I’m sure there will be some of you out there who will adore this!) Rather tough for me I’m afraid. Finish: Long, woody, quite a bit of smoked paprika, burnt cumin seeds, wood char and bitter, tannic tea. Comments: It’s not my style of rum at all I’m afraid. The wood is just too extreme, to the point that you really loose balance. However, I’m aware this style is very much an acquired taste and some aficionados will love it. So, please feel free to take my score with a large bushel of charcoal!
SGP: 483 - 76 points.

 

 

Back to Guyana please!

 

 

Enmore 24 yo 1990/2015 (61.2%, Our & Spirits, Guyana, cask #20, 178 bottles)

Enmore 24 yo 1990/2015 (61.2%, Our & Spirits, Guyana, cask #20, 178 bottles)
Distilled in a pot still, presumably the wooden Versailles still which was in use at Enmore in 1990 before going on to Uitvlugt and finally to Diamond where it now resides. From a German retailer and bottler, although not too sure if they’re still active as their website appears to be down at time of writing.  Colour: pale gold. Nose: austere but surprisingly approachable considering the strength. Lots of raw cactus, cut grass, crushed aspirin, mineral salts, lime juice and chopped green asparagus. Quite lean and chiselled in profile which feels excellent, if somewhat unusual. With water: rather more fragrant, showing notes of fabrics and linens with green tea, faded petrol notes, white sourdough bread, chamomile tea and seawater. Mouth: extremely powerful and hugely bready. Lots of pure brown bread, rye, soda bread, scone mix, wholemeal flour mixed with brown sugar, elastoplasts, clay, ointments, bandages, ink and vase water. There’s even a slight hint of rubber erasers. Quite brutal, big and unusual. With water: still rather bready and doughy, but it feels more cohesive and balanced with a return to these rubber, petrol and lime juice flavours. Finish: long, earthy, extremely vegetal, lighter fluid, tyre rubber, more brown bread and bandages. Comments: It’s a pretty tough and unyielding style that is undeniably on the austere side of things. The kind of spirit that makes you work to get to know it. However, despite the difficulty, we’re a million miles away from the crass sugared crap in the supermarkets and undeniably tasing some pretty historic, old school rum. I think you probably just have to be in the mood.
SGP: 462 - 86 points.

 

 

Enmore 25 yo 1990/2015 (58%, Cave Guildive, Guyana, bourbon)

Enmore 25 yo 1990/2015 (58%, Cave Guildive, Guyana, bourbon)
Another from the Versailles still. Colour: pale gold. Nose: similar but a notch sweeter which makes all these big vegetal, medical and bready qualities merge a little more seamlessly and globally feel easier and more ‘open’ as a result. A few whiffs of industrial cleaning fluid, soft tarry aspects, fermenting fruit notes, banana baked in brown sugar and bread dough. With water: some coconut and pineapple, more herbal, banana, lime and wild flowers. Mouth: herbal cough medicines, spiced exotic fruit teas, jasmine, chamomile, herbal cocktail bitters, plasters, gauze, ink and pastis. With water: more salty, umami and ‘brothy’ with these notes of liquid seasoning, bouillon, camphor and crushed grass. More aspirin, lime juice, sugar syrup and putty. Finish: long, rather bready, vegetal, earthy, medical and tarry. Comments: I prefer it a notch to the previous one. There’s a little more fruity sweetness about it that knits everything together. Still quite a demanding and very specific style though.
SGP: 562 - 87 points.

 

 

Let’s finish, as we always try to at Whiskyfun, with some Jamaicans.

 

 

Fredrick Smith Fine Old Jamaica Rum (30 under proof, Aston Model Brewery, -/+ 1930s)

Fredrick Smith Fine Old Jamaica Rum (30 under proof, Aston Model Brewery, -/+ 1930s)
One of many such bottlings produced in the first half of the 20th century for independent British wine and spirit merchants. In this case a Birmingham brewery called Aston Model, which also sold other imported wines and spirits. Colour: gold. Nose: pure funk! Seawater, petrol, bandages, massively overripe exotic fruits, lemon juice mixed with brine, animal furs and a rather brutal tarriness. 40%? Really? This feels brilliantly beastly. With water: just looking at the viscosity there’s no way in hell this is 40%. Thrillingly punchy esters now, brown sugars, bandages, rotting fruits, sardines, rubber, petrol, squid ink… a ruthless, brutal but gorgeous wee monster! Mouth: holy hell! Ok, I don’t know who was responsible for printing ’30 u.p.’ on the label but their descendants will be hearing from my lawyers! This must be approaching 70% abv! Seriously! Fermented fruit salad juices, rubber fishing wellies, natural tar extract, paraffin and workshop grease. I think water is necessary… with water: immensely fat, greasy, oily, saline, estery and prickling with sea salt, camphor, tar, pine resin and things like mint and juniper. Totally mental rum. Finish: superbly long, chewy, glistening with pulpy esters, smoked exotic fruit jam, olive oil mixed with olive juices, tar, mercurochrome and bitumen. Comments: What the hell was this! Was the strength a misprint? A 1930s tax dodge? An attempt to kill off some customers? Anyway, what an incredible spirit. Makes most contemporary Islay’s look like S Club 7. On the subject of Islay though, one thing I would add is that this remains rather close to many of the best contemporary Hampdens for example. Whereas the distance between 1930s Scottish malts and their current siblings remains equivalent to several rather chunky galaxies.
SGP: 473 - 92 points.

 

 

Ok, I had naively assumed that the Fredrick would be a cool aperitif for the following pair. However, it would now appear that they have their work cut out!

 

 

Hampden 35 yo 1983/2019 (55.3%, Valinch & Mallet, Jamaica, cask #19-3501R, 237 bottles)

Hampden 35 yo 1983/2019 (55.3%, Valinch & Mallet, Jamaica, cask #19-3501R, 237 bottles)
A super high ester ‘HGML’ make, which stands for ‘Hampden George MacFarquhar Lawson’ and is around 1000-1100 g/hlpa (grams per hectolitre of pure alcohol) Colour: gold. Nose: thick, vibrant and superb fresh. The age gives a kind of polished sheen to the esters. Concentrated seawater, smoked olive oil, natural tar, bandages soaked in antiseptic and olive juices. The whole feels extremely fat, textural and buoyant with vibrancy and power. Some notes of preserved lemon, ginger and even something like spiced carrots funnily enough. With water: hugely tarry, rubbery, salty and filled with a fug of diesel fumes, green peppercorns in brine, herbal toothpaste and smoked mint. Mouth: magnificently textural - to the point of being palpably greasy. While also showing wonderfully dense, ester-ridden exotic fruits. Smoked lemons, overripe mango, charred pineapple, star fruit, brine, lime juice, pickling juices, roasted vegetables, olive tapenades and many notes of fish paste and dried herbs. These Hampdens are almost unlike any other spirits I would say. With water: fermenting soy sauce, miso broth, dried seaweed, camphor, paraffin, salted treacle, molasses, roof pitch and pickled herring. Finish: superbly long, saline, resinously smoky, Thai curry spices, fermenting vegetables, tar liqueur and sugar cocktails, anthracite embers and many more fishy and pickle juice notes. Comments: Sublime and totally singular. Power, freshness, magnificent complexity and, perhaps easy to overlook at times but so essential to its DNA: fun! Leaves you with a big grin on your face.
SGP: 563 - 92 points.

 

 

Hampden 35 yo 1983/2019 (58.9%, Rum Artesanal, Jamaica, cask #6, 322 x 50cl bottles)

Hampden 35 yo 1983/2019 (58.9%, Rum Artesanal, Jamaica, cask #6, 322 x 50cl bottles)
Almost certainly from a sibling cask to the V&M. Colour: gold. Nose: the same, but perhaps a little dirtier. That is to say, more towards coal smoke, engine grease, tool boxes, diesel fumes and oily rags. Similarly full of seawater, anchovies in olive oil, capers in brine, natural tar extract, animal fat, caraway and pickled olives. Brilliant, once again. With water: gets more animalistic, coal smoky, carbolic, tarry, greasy and dundery. Things like bath salts, mutton broth, lime juice and cured ham. Mouth: hugely concentrated, fatty, oily and with these really trill top note esters. Fermenting banana, flambeed brown sugar, tar liqueur, herbal cough medicines, old hay bails, smoked mint and something like charred plasticine. With water: superb concentration and power now. More direct, more punchy, more ‘purely’ saline and with this wonderful fusion of natural tar, rubber, black pepper and olive juices. Finish: long, getting extremely herbal and full of putty, plasticine, coal tar soap, lanolin, vapour rubs, pickled onions and medical embrocations. Comments: This one is a notch drier I’d say, but overall it’s still the same totally bonkers, joy-inducing level of quality.
SGP: 463 - 92 points.

 

 

Thanks to Harrison and Dirk.

 

 

 

 

April 4, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Touring the West Coast
From the rather unusual sensation of isolation, let’s allow our minds and tastebuds to wander around the west coast of Scotland for some fresh air. As you probably already know, I’m a big fan of most of the makes from the western edges of Scotland. Especially the mainlanders: Ben Nevis, Springbank, Glen Scotia and Oban.

 

There are pitiably few west coast mainland malts anymore, and the ones that remain are generally amongst the more distinctive and charismatic of Scotland’s distillates. Now, it will be interesting to watch the progress of newer additions such as Ardnamurchan and Nc’Nean as time goes on, to see if they too develop a ‘westerly’ accent. Anyway, let’s try a few scattered examples from the islands and the mainland today, starting briefly in Campbeltown.

 

 

Campbeltown 5 yo 2014/2019 Blended Malt (49.1%, North Star Spirits, bourbon & PX finish)

Campbeltown 5 yo 2014/2019 Blended Malt (49.1%, North Star Spirits, bourbon & PX finish)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: quite sweet with lots of runny honey, pollen, golden syrup and cocktail sugar syrups. Rather syrupy in other words. Certainly gives the impression of being older than 5 years. Continues with hints of orgeat, blossoms, cherry cake, marzipan and some simple cooking oils beneath. Mouth: the PX intervention jars a little at first with these rather sticky notes of caramelised sugar and wood varnish. However, there’s enough straightforward honey, tinned fruit juices and sultana notes of keep things fresh and satisfying. Finish: medium with wee notes of lemon polenta cake, raspberry cordial, cream soda and tangerine. Comments: Quite a departure from these other more naked anonymous young C-towners. I find the PX aspect a tad uncertain, but in this instance it has certainly delivered an undeniably pleasing confectionary quality. If you have a sweet tooth then this should be good quaffing whisky.
SGP: 751 - 82 points.

 

 

Campbeltown 5 yo 2014/2019 Blended Malt (50%, Thompson Brothers, two refill hogsheads, 816 bottles)

Campbeltown 5 yo 2014/2019 Blended Malt (50%, Thompson Brothers, two refill hogsheads, 816 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: yeast, mostly chewed out bubblegum, plain white bread, lemon vitamin tablets. Bish. Bash. Bosh. Also some rathe green maltiness, chalk and some weird shaving brush notes. With water: becomes rather raw, increasingly yeasty, some sharper lemon juice notes and an impression of slightly briny acidity. Mouth: a little creamier, more direct and well-structured than on the nose. Mustardy warmth, gauze, hessian, sunflower oil and lime zest. With water: lemon cough drops, barley water, salty bouillon stock and a nicely juicy, plush maltiness. Finish: medium but hot and prickly. Sharp, dusty malt, yeasty, putty and citric. Comments: It’s fine, even pretty good, but I find these batches a little lacking in some ways. Perhaps it is the fact that they are simply called ‘Campbeltown’, which I find irritating. Then again, perhaps I am overthinking what is clearly intended - and priced - as simple, everyday quaffing whisky.
SGP: 562 - 80 points. 

 

 

Let’s head north to Oban.

 

 

Oban 14 yo (43%, OB, -/+ 2020, 20cl)

Oban 14 yo (43%, OB, -/+ 2020, 20cl)
Oban 14 is a malt I always like to follow from time to time, and one I’ll often order in a pub. I’m rarely disappointed in such instances I have to say. Serge last tried it in October 2018 from a -/+2016 rotation and was impressed (WF 88). This one from one of those wee 20cl ‘travel sesh’ bottles that Diageo do. Colour: gold. Nose: orange peel, milk chocolate with sea salt, ginger biscuits and various lighter notes of dried flowers, soft herbal touches and putty. Easy and rather straightforward but far from bland. Mouth: great arrival, all on heather honey, mead, fruit chutneys, dried apricot, peach stones and lemon barley water. Indeed, you do get an ‘impression’ of something coastal. Some slightly salty butter, yellow flowers, pollens and porridge. Finish: medium, sweet cereals, milk bottle sweets, runny honey and fruity flapjack. Comments: It’s good, but I feel some other batches had a bit more oomph. It would be interesting to know how many casks on average go into a batch of Oban 14?
SGP: 452 - 83 points.

 

 

Oban 26 yo 1992/2019 (59.2%, OB ‘Select Cask’, cask #7002, puncheon, 396 bottles)

Oban 26 yo 1992/2019 (59.2%, OB ‘Select Cask’, cask #7002, puncheon, 396 bottles)
Another from Diageo’s ‘prices of distinction’ series. Colour: gold. Nose: sharp and lightly waxy in a rather invigorating way. White stone fruits, coastal freshness, dusty malted barley and some nicely chalky, cereal and bright pollen notes. Feels fresh, clear and rather pure, although also a touch on the lighter side for Oban, which is no bad thing at all. With water: still quite dusty, chalky and pithy. Some heather flowers, burlap, pink sea salt, soda bread and a rather invigorating coastal freshness. Mouth: surprisingly soft arrival. All on gentle white pepper, lactic notes, plain yoghurt, lemon peel, mead, a rather faded waxiness and more of these cereal tones. Buttery cereals and freshly baked pastries. With water: linens, canvass, hessian, olive oil, cloves and a kind of savoury minty note. The impression of trail mix and toasted seeds. Finish: good length, still quite drying, lightly salty, savoury, cereal and some nice lingering notes of heather ale and bread dough. Comments: It’s a lovely wee dram, on the lighter side of Oban I think, but there’s still some very evocative parts to it and it possess a commendable and pleasing freshness. However, I’m pretty certain it’s not worth whatever a bottle costs. Not that we score prices on WF mind you.
SGP: 361 - 85 points. 

 

 

To Mull please, Mr Ferry Captain!

 

 

Tobermory 25 yo 1994/2019 (55.9%, Filmnik ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, cask #381011, hogshead, 214 bottles)

Tobermory 25 yo 1994/2019 (55.9%, Filmnik ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, cask #381011, hogshead, 214 bottles)
The Shawshank Redemption! How appropriate for the current state of lockdown. Let’s hope at the other side of all this its more ‘redemption’ and less ‘Shawshank’. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very lovely and very ‘Tobermory’. That is to say: wildly yeasty, bready, sourdough-ridden, baking soda, cider apples, sour perry, background farmyard notes, dried banana chips and lots of hessian cloth, wet grains, cereals and mash water. I’m a fan! With water: cleaner, more brittle and chiselled now. A rather nervous coastal freshness, wet fabrics, baking parchment and a light note of rolling tobacco. Mouth: richly malty, lightly gingery, a chalky clutter of minerals, sandalwood, hessian, gorse, sunflower oil, enough sourdough bread to start a hipster bakery, cheesecloth and hints of goat. This is a lot of fun and extremely good as well. With water: much more peppery with some splashy notes of wood spice, earthy turmeric, milk bottle sweets, crushed aspirin, dried tarragon and richly savoury, salty broths. Finish: long, wonderfully bready and full of olive oil, parchment, crisp cereals, old school shilling ales, Scotch broth and bouillon stocks. Comments: who needs distillery tours when you can simply wear a blindfold and get most of the organoleptic experience from a glass of this Tobermory? What fun! I love the way it continually evolves with water and keeps on throwing up unexpected wee evolutions in your face. Great selection by those commendable cinema fans from Beijing!
SGP: 462 - 88 points.

 

 

Ledaig 17 yo 1997/2014 (49.7%, Càrn Mòr ‘Celebration Of The Cask’, cask #643080, hogshead, 254 bottles)

Ledaig 17 yo 1997/2014 (49.7%, Càrn Mòr ‘Celebration Of The Cask’, cask #643080, hogshead, 254 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: what’s funny is that there’s an almost identical level of yeasty-ness going on as in the Tobermory, only with an added layer of peat draped over everything. Putty, smoked olive oil, capers in brine, fish sauce, lime juice and some rather hearty kedgeree. Rather direct, straightforward and chiselled. Mouth: richly salty and umami with a direct and punchy peaty note. Then goes on to a more grubby farmyard quality with mud, tractor engine parts, boiler smoke, wood ash and things like ink and carbon paper. Also rather oily and impressively fat. Finish: long and, once again, back to this rather brothy yeasty quality. Black olive tapenade, umami paste, broiled shellfish and coal smoke. Comments: Quite a big Ledaig, a notch heavier than other 97s I’ve tried and feels bigger than its abv would suggest. A tad simplistic and brutal in some respects but quality is high.
SGP: 365 - 86 points.

 

 

Up to Fort William. Let’s take the seaplane…

 

 

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1995/2019 (50.8%, The Whisky Agency for Derek Chan & Jeremy Ma, cask #654, sherry butt, 192 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1995/2019 (50.8%, The Whisky Agency for Derek Chan & Jeremy Ma, cask #654, sherry butt, 192 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: as is often the case with these batches, I find that the sherry matured examples display a straighter and more ‘direct’ profile at first nosing. That is to say classically polished, oily and full of gun metal, copper coins, steel wool, old toolboxes, glazed nuts and miso. I find this one wonderfully pure, elegant and the sherry nicely supple, fresh and clean. While there’s still these wee earthy and mustardy Ben Nevis touches peeping through from beneath. Great! With water: lightly bitter herbal notes, cocktail bitters, earth, black pepper, leaf mulch, pipe tobacco and salt-cured meats. Mouth: pow! The sherry and the distillate are really sitting in perfect harmony now. On one hand you have this wonderfully leafy, soft mix of damp tobaccos, dark chocolate, salted caramel, liquorice and caffe latte, while on the other there’s this syrupy waxiness, slightly gloopy, overripe fruitiness and things like clay, ointments and putty. Totally unequivocal and superb! With water: luminous and terrifically vibrant and fresh. Nutty, oily, waxy, earthy and subtly fruity with this rising spiciness in the background. Finish: long, gingery, orangey, waxy, ever so slightly tarry, a balanced bitterness and this lovely soft fruity and savoury edge in the aftertaste. Comments: I don’t know the 95s as well as the 96s but the quality would appear to be the same. Amazing distillate in a totally brilliant sherry cask. Bottlings like this are the future classics in my personal view.
SGP: 662 - 91 points.

 

 

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (53.6%, Elixir Distillers ‘The Single Malts Of Scotland’, cask #1784, hogshead, 182 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2019 (53.6%, Elixir Distillers ‘The Single Malts Of Scotland’, cask #1784, hogshead, 182 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: full of sheep wool, putty, mineral oils, shoe polish, new leather, burlap, hessian and a kind of lemon-tinged waxiness - not unlike citronella candles. More of these wee mustard notes with white pepper, chalk and aspirin. Typical and superb. With water: quite saline now, more pin-sharp minerality, olive oil, hessian cloth, herbal cough syrup and this easy chalkiness. Mouth: it’s a rather sharp one, very chiselled, brittle, mineral-driven and pure. Fresh fabrics, waxed canvass, mineral salts, cough medicines, soot, bitter citrus piths and lanolin. With water: totally great with water. Wider, fatter, thicker and brimming with salted mead, heather honey, exotic fruit syrups and waxes. Finish: long, salty, nicely bitter, nervously fruity and full of twitchy minerals and light medical notes. Comments: It’s a different and altogether more naked beast than the 1995, but it’s the same lofty arena of quality. Did I mention that I’m a fan of these Ben Nevi?
SGP: 462 - 91 points.

 

 

Back in the seaplane to Jura…

 

 

Isle Of Jura 10 yo (43%, OB, duty free, litre, -/+ 1990)

Isle Of Jura 10 yo (43%, OB, duty free, litre, -/+ 1990)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: hey, not bad! Not that I was expecting terrible things, but this is rather lovely and quite fresh with this plush maltiness, lemon yoghurt, honeyed porridge, canvass and chalky crushed aspirin. Easy, light, bright and fresh. Mouth: good arrival, rather punchy, peppery and showing some ripe green and yellow fruits. Mineral oils, soot and toasted mixed seeds. A nice easy tension between sweeter fruitier tones and drier, more cereal and coastal aspects. A wee glimmer of bath salts and something almost like soapiness but not quite soapiness, rather more floral I’d say. Finish: medium, chalky, cereal, herbal and slightly peppery and bitter. Comments: I have to say, I’m pretty impressed. This is charismatic and shows a surprising amount of oomph and energy. I believe such bottles are still pretty cheap at auctions.
SGP: 551 - 86 points.

 

 

Isle Of Jura 24 yo 1987/2011 (53.9%, Private bottling for Vic Pulleyn by Bruichladdich Distillery, cask #198, 253 bottles)

Isle Of Jura 24 yo 1987/2011 (53.9%, Private bottling for Vic Pulleyn by Bruichladdich Distillery, cask #198, 253 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: surprisingly clean and direct for such a Jura, lots of cooking oils, salt baked vegetables, metal polish, oily rags, mineral oils, soot, furniture wax and things like old ink wells, carbon paper and light briny and lemony touches. Impressive! With water: doubles down on these oily and cereal aspects. Sunflower oil, mineral oils, tarragon, soot, parsnips and a light salinity. Fun stuff. Mouth: more typically Jura-esque with this rather ‘jumbled’ feeling on the palate, which is not necessarily a criticism mind you. It’s just that you have this funny mix of old toolboxes, mechanical oils, rapeseed oil, grass, putty, clay, cereals, ointments, face cream, miso, watercress, hair gel. It’s all a big higgledy-piggledy and charismatically untidy. There’s also a more direct and punchy vegetal side in the mouth as well, even allusions to very old pure pot still Irish whiskeys in some respects. With water: a little more cohesive and goes kind of full circle back towards the sharper definition of the nose. Still lots of more unlikely notes of plasticine, glue, fabric, starch, mashed vegetables, olive oil, dried herbs and ink. Also gets interestingly minty and mentholated with these impressions of medical vapour rubs. Finish: quite long, salty, slightly leathery and more of these oily notes that veer between the industrial, mechanical and cooking varieties. Comments: Quite a ride, but at heart it’s a very charismatic, if somewhat funky, and noble wee islander. Exactly the kind of nutter who runs away to live on Jura I suppose. Hard to score but I liked it a lot.
SGP: 472 - 88 points.

 

 

Isle Of Jura 14 yo 1964/1979 (80 proof / 45.7%, Cadenhead Dumpy)

Isle Of Jura 14 yo 1964/1979 (80 proof / 45.7%, Cadenhead Dumpy)
A super rare early vintage of Jura. Remember, the distillery was entirely reconstructed and re-commenced distilling in 1963, after being silent since circa 1900. Obviously, if anyone has any pre-1900 Jura cask samples knocking about then please do get in touch (sample to Edinburgh; invoice to Turckheim). Colour: gold. Nose: in the middle of a session mostly consisting of modern whiskies, these very old school distillates can just strike you like an arrow out of the blue. Immensely concentrated, generous and almost obscenely fat fruitiness. Quivering, gelatinous, oily and just verging on overripe. The kind of nose that brings together green, exotic and garden variety fruits in abundance. It’s also beautifully herbaceous and honeyed with a silky thread of peat running between everything. Wee elements of soot, wet hessian, olive oil, mechanical parts and a pretty bold and pushy mineral oil quality too. Beyond that you can also find many umami aromas, broths, dried herbs, waxes, crystallised fruits, pollen, verbena, cannabis and precious hardwood resins. Immense! Mouth: Just stunning! The very best cannabis resin combined with new world hops, sweetened herbal cough medicines, long-aged yellow Chartreuse, lime infused olive oil, very old cream sherry, mint cordial and a kind of molten, glowing waxiness that sits at the heart of it all. It’s also rather coastal around the edges with a perfectly drying, nibbling salinity. Finish: immensely long, oily, waxy, salty and tautly fruity. Perfection! Comments: Probably the best Jura I ever tasted. The nose makes you think the palate cannot possibly go anywhere but slightly down, but then it just pitches for the stratosphere. And not a micro-quiver of any strange OBE to found anywhere.
SGP: 763 - 94 points.

 

 

We will inevitably end up on Islay. But first! A flying visit to Skye if you please…

 

 

Talisker 1998/2017 (56.6%, OB for Keepers Of The Quaich, cask #6829, refill sherry butt, 618 bottles)

Talisker 1998/2017 (56.6%, OB for Keepers Of The Quaich, cask #6829, refill sherry butt, 618 bottles)
A funny kind of quasi-official bottling done exclusively for the Keepers Of The Quiche, sorry, Quaich. An illustrious group of which Serge is recently also a member. Colour: gold. Nose: lovely and surprisingly soft and gentle with these notes of pink sea salt, gorse, wood embers, wildflowers, eucalyptus, sea greens and a very ethereal, wispy kind of peat smoke. Delicate, intricate and extremely attractive so far. With water: gets more towards sourdough and a kind of zingy yeasty acidity. Lemon juice, squid ink, hessian, miso and vapour rubs. Mouth: much bigger! Classically peppery with green peppercorns in brine, anchovy butter, chopped chives, seawater, iodine, sooty fabrics and some rather weighty smoked tea notes. With water: perfect now. Oily, peaty, peppery and showing a wonderfully fat coastality (that isn’t a word, but it should be dammit!) Things like bacon fat, camphor, paraffin and lamp oil. Gets really rather weighty and almost mechanical. Finish: long, earthy, vegetal, coastal, oily, peaty and with wee notes of preserved lemons, dried flowers and wood smoke. Comments: It is one of the whisky world’s great travesties that these had all sold out by the time Serge was persuaded to join. Hopefully he can hang in there until they get a Keeper’s single cask Brora around 2028…
SGP: 466 - 91 points.

 

 

Talisker 1960/1979 (75 proof, Berry Brothers & Rudd)

Talisker 1960/1979 (75 proof, Berry Brothers & Rudd)
Colour: gold. Nose: a beautiful mix of crystallised and fresh exotic fruits - mango, papaya, guava, passion fruit - alongside this rather leathery old, salty dry sherry and an impression of old sweet Loire chenin. In time it’s this stunning fruitiness that really rises up and dominates. Although you also get these wonderful wee hints of herbal liqueurs, natural tar, damp pipe tobacco and rather peppery cured game meat. Just feels wonderfully full, complete, complex and at the same time cohesive. Mouth: as with all these old whiskies, even at 43% they still kick! Much more direct peat on the palate. Dried seaweed, smoked paprika, natural tar extract, old medicines, herbal bitters and a more submerged fruitiness that feels drier and more ‘preserved’ as opposed to ‘fresh’. Still this wonderfully resinous and leathery old school sherry quality inveigling everything. Finish: endlessly long and meandering through all manner of dark and exotic fruits, dry earthy peat smoke tinged with heather, herbs, cocktail bitters, mint tea, game meats and a kind of thready, smoky rancio. Comments: like the Jura, this is just in another class entirely. A style, combination and concentration of flavours which simply doesn’t exist in today’s whisky universe sadly. The power even at 43% in itself is really something to behold.
SGP: 564 - 93 points.

 

 

And so, to Islay and the Old Kiln Cafe…

 

 

Ardbeg 9 yo 1998/2008 (57.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #33.68 ‘Honeycomb smoke’)

Ardbeg 9 yo 1998/2008 (57.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #33.68 ‘Honeycomb smoke’)
Colour: gold. Nose: wonderfully fresh and evocative, bath salts, crab sticks, coal smoke, peaty kiln air, malt vinegar, antiseptic and iodine. Terrific and immediately makes you think ‘Islay!’. With water: straighter, smokier, drier, notes of bailed hay, peat embers, muddy seawater and fishing wellies. Mouth: coal tar soap, heather smoke, bouillon, more fragrant bath salts, mineral oils, pumice, flint smoke, jasmine tea, lapsing souchong, dried mint and smoked lemons. Unusual but extremely good. There are points when you would think of a 1989 Bowmore that’s just on the perfume cusp - but falls the right side. With water: again this wonderfully floral, mineral salt side remains undimmed. Fragrant, coastal, evocative, lightly citric, gently ashy and some notes of sandalwood and seaweed broth. Finish: long, ashy, salty, hyper fresh, faintly medicinal and with this wonderfully fragrant ‘floaty’ peaty flavour in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m a big fan of this one. It’s an Ardbeg that kind of winks in the direction of 80s Bowmore without going near those kinds of extremes. I think the freshness, complexity and distinctiveness are all highly impressive. Worth seeking out I’d say. And proof that they were making some rock solid distillate in the late 90s under Glenmorangie.
SGP: 356 - 90 points.

 

 

Ardbeg 23 yo 1993/2017 (52.4%, Cadenhead, 175th Anniversary Tasting Session, bourbon hogshead)

Ardbeg 23 yo 1993/2017 (52.4%, Cadenhead, 175th Anniversary Tasting Session, bourbon hogshead)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: extraordinarily pure and powerful with a real blast furnace of peat coming at you out of the glass. Charred whelks, petrol, pure seawater, kelp, bonfire embers and fresh lemon juice. I wouldn’t say it’s super complex, but rather it’s the purity, precision and sheer beauty of the flavours which is so thrilling and striking. Was 1993 the most inconsistent year for Ardbeg? The quality seems to have been all over the place. With water: gets almost hyper saline, fresh, citric and pure. Some wispy notes of smoky wood ashes, dried seaweed, rock pools and medical balms and vapour rubs. Mouth: reminiscent of some 1978s with this almost diesel-esque dirtiness. Big, glycerol peat, fat maltiness, hugely smoky, tarry, black olives in brine, miso broth, umami paste, TCP, iodine drops and sheep wool oils. Powerhouse, brilliant Ardbeg. With water: salty, peaty, wonderfully oily, fat and still showing this almost greasy boiler smoke grubbiness that carries with it black olive tapenade and anchovy paste. Finish: long, rather lemony (preserved lemons), lots of gauze, bandages, herbal mouthwash, antiseptic and iodine. And peat! Comments: Clearly the purifier wasn’t working… But seriously, what on earth was going on at Ardbeg in 1993? Some were only so so, while examples like this are sitting confidently alongside - or even above - many 70s counterparts. Anyway, what a cask!
SGP: 368 - 93 points.

 

 

And now, off to the Isle Of Man… perhaps not, I think this session has gone on long enough. But much fun was had thought.

 

 

Big hugs to KC and Andy.

 

 

 

 

April 3, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Travelling around the world from my tasting room

I know, not the most unusual idea in this time of confinement at home. I suppose all ‘bloggers’ and journos are doing this too these days… With books, movies, music, whiskies, food, wine, beer… How about South Africa -> Japan -> Sweden -> India -> Ireland -> England -> Taiwan -> USA -> Israel -> France.

Three Ships 7 yo (55.1%, OB for Whisky Brothers, South Africa, Moscato cask finish, 716 bottles, +/-2020)

Three Ships 7 yo (55.1%, OB for Whisky Brothers, South Africa, Moscato cask finish, 716 bottles, +/-2020) Four stars
This baby stems from Distell’s James-Sedgwick Distillery in Wellington, near Cape Town. Probably a very good starting point, despite the muscat finish… Colour: gold. Nose: as we always say, vive la difference! No muscat or moscatel or moscato in sight though, rather quite a lot of toasted brown bread, Jamaica coffee, touches of lapsang souchong, and just barrowloads of cocoa. Very dry, pretty much what I like. Oh and perhaps, if I may, unsweetened rooibos? With water: no real changes. No problems. Or perhaps a little more bread dough? Leaven? Mouth (neat): perhaps some muscatel, but I’m getting no loco rose petals, extreme litchis or, well, straight muscat grapes or wine. Rather cinnamon rolls, chocolate, pink grapefruits, coffee and oranges. With water: very good. Wholegrain bread with bits of candied fruit and raisins inside. Finish: rather long, back on chocolate, coffee, bread and black tea. Or yeah, rooibos. Comments: I say as long as the wines don’t feel too much, they can do all the craziest finishings they like! Very good, this crafty  little Three Ships, and well done Mark and gang.
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Akashi (62%, OB, Eigashima, Japan, 394 bottles)

Akashi (62%, OB, Eigashima, Japan, 394 bottles) Five stars
It’s all written in Japanese here, so I couldn’t quite tell you much about this little White Oak, but I’m sure some Japanese friends will tell us more on social media. Colour: deep gold. Nose: impressive. Papaya cake, acacia honey, mirabelles, halva, pear tarte and maple syrup. Anyone against this should be locked up. Well, we almost are actually, but I love this nose. With water: the bready smells come out. That’s like when Frank Zappa starts the guitar solo in any tune. Mouth (neat): not whisky, rather a sin. Vanilla cream, honey, Cointreau, maple syrup, Mandarine Impériale, raisin rolls, cupcake, sponge fingers… With water: rather exceptional. I’m sure this is young, but the maturity is perfect. Custard and cakes all over the place, cereals, scones… Finish: long, rounded, creamy, cake-y, wit this orangey signature that just always works. Comments: Chichibu and Akashi, and perhaps Mars, when not ‘bastardised’ with unlikely woods and wines or whatever they can put their hands on, sure have become the leaders of J-whisky these days. Well, that’s my take. So guys, what is this exactly? Vintage? Age?
SGP:551 - 90 points.
Update:
it's a 4yo Cabernet Franc finish, distilled 2015, bottled in 2020, 61%abv, 394 bottles, selected by Stefan Van Eycken and Hideo Yamaoka (Ghost Series no.14).

Mackmyra 2016/2019 (53.6%, OB for Dirty Dicks, Sweden, peated oloroso, cask #15-1108)

Mackmyra 2016/2019 (53.6%, OB for Dirty Dicks, Sweden, peated oloroso, cask #15-1108) Two stars
What what what? Was this authorised by the Swedish government? Colour: gold. Nose: say some lapsang souchong poured over white asparagus, fresh croissants, garden earth and fresh tree sawdust in a Swedish forest. With water: dairy cream, yoghurt, heavy custard, then juniper, cloves and caraway. We’ve moved towards aquavit, it seems. Mouth (neat): peculiar, unusual, very pine-y and ridden with honeydew and deep-smoked salmon. Never tasted something like this, it’s quite some concoction. Fir wood cask? With water: goes a little too far from me, too extractive, acrid, pine-y… I would say just do not add any waters of any kinds to this baby. Finish: a feeling of having quaffed essential oils, or sauna stuff. But some sides are funny, should you enjoy anything resinous.  Comments: fun stuff. Perhaps not the very definition of ‘balance’ if you ask me but there, it’ fun. It hates water, by the way.
SGP:284 - 75 points.

OK, a wild card for Sweden…

High Coast 5 yo ‘Atmosfär’ (46%, OB, for SAS, Sweden, bourbon, 2148 bottles, 2020)

High Coast 5 yo ‘Atmosfär’ (46%, OB, for SAS, Sweden, bourbon, 2148 bottles, 2020) Four stars
Remember, High Coast is the former Box Distillery. This is exclusive to SAS airline’s business class. Not the best timing I suppose but hey, good news for us unintended pedestrians. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s fresh, with good sweet oak, barley, sweet ale, oranges, apricot bread, cassata and orangettes (candied orange zests). Mouth: really good, malty, barley-y, on oranges, milk chocolate, Jaffa cakes, custard, soft nutmeg and ginger, blueberry muffins, and a tiny touch of eucalyptus. Modern malt whisky made properly. Finish: medium, on butterscotch, bonbons and green tea. Comments: a good example of a proper new-wave malt whisky made with the good specs, and using good wood.
SGP: 551 - 85 points.

Rampur ‘Signature Reserve’ (43.9%, OB, India, decanter, cask #1292, 150 bottles, 2019)

Rampur ‘Signature Reserve’ (43.9%, OB, India, decanter, cask #1292, 150 bottles, 2019) Four stars
A celebratory bottling that came out in 2019. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a curious, but pretty sexy blend of wood and furniture dusts and polishes (wax, wood…) with tropical fruits (mangos first) and pink pepper, hops, violets, wee hints of rosewater, honey…. Mouth: very good, very fruity, tropical, with even pineapples beyond the usual mangos and passion fruits. Juicy fruity, touches of pomegranates… It’s really extremely fruity, with a small sappy side growing in the background. Pine sap. Finish: medium and extremely fruity. Some kind of fruity wood in the back, hard to describe. Tropical wood? Comments: extremely good, demonstrative and exuberant. Could be that Rampur would be the most ‘Indian’ of them all Indian malts as far as flavours are concerned, the others being a tad more ‘world’. Or yeah, ‘Scottish’ (Amrut, Paul John…)
SGP: 741- 86 points.

Teeling 27 yo 1991/2019 (44.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Ireland, rum cask, cask #10678, 160 bottles)

Teeling 27 yo 1991/2019 (44.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Ireland, rum cask, cask #10678, 160 bottles) Five stars
In theory, and just between us, this should stem from those casks that Diageo had sold before they got rid of the distillery. We’re talking about Bushmills, but indeed, pure speculations… Colour: gold. Nose: bananas mangos maracujas guavas oranges tangerines prickly pears. Long story short, vitamins. Mouth: incredible. bananas mangos maracujas guavas oranges tangerines prickly pears. Long story short, vitamins. Finish: medium, a tad more citrusy. Comments: bombastic fruitiness. Why the owners, be them Pernod Ricard or later Diageo, never released such single casks while they were at the helm remains one of whisky’s most mysterious, err, mysteries.
SGP:741 - 92 points.

English Whisky Company 11 yo 2007/2019 (49.8%, North Star Spirits, UK, Burgundy red wine, 330 bottles)

English Whisky Company 11 yo 2007/2019 (49.8%, North Star Spirits, UK, Burgundy red wine, 330 bottles) Two stars
Fear not! Colour: apricot. Nose: reminds me of Signatory Vintage’s first Port Ellen finished in pinot noir. Or was it Pomerol? Used matches, gunpowder, truffles and gas, then cassis leaves and buds. Not the easiest nose ever, that’s for sure. Mouth: some fun to be had here. Manure, cabbage, cork, cherry stem tea, black olives (really), leek, salsify… What a strange juice, really. Finish: long, bitter, dry, on more black olives, tapenade, Jägermeister, lapsang souchong… Comments: some crazy mutant juice produced in England. I’m sure you could make a fantastic spritz out of it, but just don’t use Krug. English bubbly would work well, I’m sure. Peace…
SGP: 374- 72 points.

Kavalan 2006/2014 ‘Golden Gate Sunset’ (58.6%, OB, USA, Taiwan, sherry, cask #S060710001, 479 bottles)

Kavalan 2006/2014 ‘Golden Gate Sunset’ (58.6%, OB, USA, Taiwan, sherry, cask #S060710001, 479 bottles) Five stars
We have hundreds of Kavalans to taste. Really. One day, after the virus, we’ll do the mother of all Kavalan tastings, I swear, cross my heart! In the meantime… Colour: ristretto coffee. Nose: coffee, chocolate, patchouli, camphor, furniture polish, Chinese prune juice. I keep forgetting the name of that sauce that our Chinese friends are serving with Peking duck. Getting old, perhaps… With water: pretty sublime. Extremely well balanced, on more of that sauce (Chinese friends, help!) and the most complex chocolate there is. Blackberry ganache, mole sauce, grilled steak, humidor, walnut stain… Oh wow! Mouth (neat): fabtastic prunes, cigars, chocolate, coffee, Corinth currants… With water: just amazing. Bitter oranges, chocolate, turmeric, old Armagnac, mocha, proper oloroso… Finish: long, beautifully dry, all on tobacco, coffee and chocolate. Comments: we’ve always been wondering how they were doing this. The fact is the end result is just amazing.
SGP:362 - 91 points.

Ransom WhipperSnapper (42%, OB, USA, Oregon spirit, +/- 2019)

Ransom WhipperSnapper (42%, OB, USA, Oregon spirit, +/- 2019)
LOL, this is 1 years old ‘on average’. But this is Oregon, baby, the wild wild West! 80% maize and 20% barley (both malted and unmalted - naturally). No rye in this mash bill, apparently. All right,  just for the fun of it… Colour: deep gold. Nose: butter, custard, geraniums, juniper, kippers, baby’s milk, sawdust, and really a lot of nutmeg. It’s nutmeg galore! Mouth: between Norwegian aquavit and Danziger Goldwasser, with a lot of stale cream in the background. Sour, difficult, unlikely. An old bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream and some readymade custard in Tetra Pak. As a whisky, pass. Finish: forget. Oak spices on probation. Comments: it’s funny, it’s nice-ish and friendly, but frankly, it isn’t very good. I’m not even sure you could use it in a cocktail, it would probably wreck your Manhattan. And I think I’m being kind.
SGP:341 - 40 points.

Milk & Honey ‘Founder’s Edition’ (57%, OB, Israel, 1000 bottles, 2019)

Milk & Honey ‘Founder’s Edition’ (57%, OB, Israel, 1000 bottles, 2019) Three stars
We’re in Tel Aviv now. This was matured in bourbon and STR, and then finished in, cough, PX. Any distiller’s friend, all over the world ! (perhaps just not in Spain, ha-ha). Anyway, the M&Hs I could already try have all been pretty much to my liking. Colour: pale amber. Nose: you do feel something’s been going on with the woods, as I’m rather finding notes of cranberries, a pack of orange drops, some kinds of fruity spices, Easter sugar eggs (how timely), raspberries and grenadine and old barrique. Very bonbony! With water: the old barrique tends to try to have the upper hand. Mouth (neat): big, on green pepper, turmeric, raisins, leaves, more raspberries, and perhaps kumquats. A lot of ginger from the oak in the background. With water: water works well and would rather favour the bourbon. I shall not complain. Touch of salt too. Finish: rather long, leafy, with more ginger and turmeric – in short oak spices. Having said that, it’s not too, say ‘unpredictably funny’. More custard and butterscotch in the aftertaste – see, bourbon!  Comments: not my preferred style (the one for LMDW was pretty great last year) but I think it’s a very fine malt and that they coped well with the acrobatic handling of the casks they’ve chosen.
SGP:651 - 82 points.

Good, back home and we’re done.

Eddu 2004/2019 (45%, OB, Pure Malt, 654 bottles)

Eddu 2004/2019 (45%, OB, Pure Malt, 654 bottles) Four stars
Yes we’ve spared you Bastille or Brenne. De nada. Now this is unusual, as it’s old malted buckwheat from the Distillerie des Menhirs in Plomelin, in the Finistère, in Brittany. Finistère means ‘the end of land’. They’ve only done a few casks of malt at the beginning of their venture, so this is very rare. To tell you the truth, I didn’t even know you could malt buckwheat. Colour: gold. Nose: you would believe you’re nosing a crêpe, with some wheat, buckwheat, some good bread, touches of oranges, gooseberries, perhaps kiwis, then puréed chestnuts and a spoonful of Cointreau. Quite a lot of Cointreau, in fact. There’s an unusual kind of breadiness, pretty pleasant I have to say. Mouth: really very funny, and really very unusual. Calvados, pear eau-de-vie, kirsch, brioche, then orange blossom, oriental pastries and once again a touch of kiwi. Finish: the thing is, I find this pretty un-whisky, but really very good. Nice vanilla and baked butter pears in the aftertaste. Poiré (pear cider). Comments: a very good surprise, and more proof that good whisky does not always have to taste like Clynelish. I mean, Macallan.
SGP:741 - 86 points.
 

April 2, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
today Tomatin

I say we don’t do enough Tomatin sessions! A few expressions that I had never tried before reached our doorstep in recent months, so time for a fight while remembering that in the old days, well twenty years ago, Tomatin was mainly known for being a huge distillery. But some have built or expanded much larger ones since back then. Meanwhile, a little message from a severely confined Alsace: stay safe, don’t drink too much, and take heart!

Tomatin ‘Five Virtues – Earth’ (46%, OB, +/-2019)

Tomatin ‘Five Virtues – Earth’ (46%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
An NAS peated Tomatin. Some start to hope that the current crisis would eradicate all NASses, but let’s not wish the crisis will be this hard. But indeed it would be welcome if everyone would now go back to proper age statements for the malts. Colour: white wine. Nose: some kind of smoked apple juice, I would say. Whiffs of varnish and fresh paint as well, but I find the whole harsh and rather charmless. Similar to a too young Ardmore. Mouth: no, peat without anything either coastal or medicinal creates rather vulgar sensations. In this case, this is too bitter and grassy for me. Finish: medium, very leafy. Nicer notes of kiwi juice after that, and a little brine in the aftertaste. Comments: let’s not be too harsh, this is fine whisky, but does the whisky world need this?
SGP:564 - 78 points.

Tomatin 15 yo 2003/2018 ‘Moscatel Wine’ (46%, OB, Moscatel)

Tomatin 15 yo 2003/2018 ‘Moscatel Wine’ (46%, OB) Two stars
The label wouldn’t say if this is only a finish, but I guess so. It’s also a Limited Edition, so not obligatorily bad news. Colour: gold. Nose: a little vague and imprecise, between malted barley, rubber bands, and indeed something a little muscatty and a touch dirty, like an empty old wine barrel lying in a corner. I don’t find it sulphury, having said that. Mouth: I find this difficult, too leathery, with just layers of apricot jam that did not mingle too well yet with the grassy notes. Not too sure, really. Tomatin 15 au naturel anytime against this, even a miniature for a bottle. Finish: rather long but really lacking integration. A spoonful of apricot jam in a cup of chicory coffee. Comments: to its credit, it’s true that I’m never a huge fan of these improbable mixtures.
SGP:561 - 75 points.

Tomatin 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017)

Tomatin 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: nicer, obviously cleaner, with proper malt and proper fruits this time, even if we remain far from older-type Tomatins that used to display bags of tropical fruits. Nice overripe apples, fruit peelings, watermelons, a spoonful of muesli, some porridge… All that is nice. Mouth: there, this is good! Oranges and cornflakes, pancake syrup, touches of melons and, indeed, papayas, a little heather honey, toasted bread, and a wee feeling of muffin (with a not to FZ and the good captain). Finish: medium, slightly roasted, fruity, balanced, clean, malty. Comments: perhaps not an utter star yet, but we’re already in the upper leagues.
SGP:541 - 84 points.

Tomatin 'Legacy' (43%, OB, +/-2017)

Tomatin 'Legacy' (43%, OB, +/-2017) Four stars and a half
We had tried an earlier version of this NAS in 2012 and were not flabbergasted at all (WF 72). Mind you, they’ve used virgin oak, one of the crutches of modern malt whisky. No age statement and virgin oak, that’s just bad news in my book, but I shan’t pinch my nose just now… Colour: gold. Nose: no no no, this is perfectly fine, with nice whiffs of Fruit Loops, crushed bananas, acacia honey, Belgian waffle and even popcorn. That’s well-handled virgin oak. Mouth: oooh they had been working on the recipe! I find this really good, balanced, with these notes of tarte tatin, guavas, notes of white Rhône wine (white Hermitage while we’re at it) and a very delicate leafiness. Say silver needle tea, they should come out in April I guess, but will that stupid virus let them travel to our shores? Finish: medium, still clean and fresh. Ore white tea, that’s cool. Comments: really an excellent drop, thank you Tomatin. Ans stay safe.
SGP:651 - 88 points.
PS: I’ll say it again, if I may, the NAS issues are not about quality, they’re about transparency and prices.

Tomatin 26 yo 1988/2015 (54%, OB, for Taiwan, oloroso sherry, cask # 950378, 402 bottles)

Tomatin 26 yo 1988/2015 (54%, OB, for Taiwan, oloroso sherry, cask # 950378, 402 bottles) Five stars
Still the older livery. I have to say it was classy. Colour: deep amber. Nose: perfect oloroso, that is to say Assam tea, walnut wine, raw cocoa, mocha, marrow, cigars, and a touch of tar. That’s the expurgated version of my note, right? With water: no rubber or used matches out, so thumbs still up! Mouth (neat): love this. Eating your cigar after having crunched some crude chocolate and sipped some late 19th century Armagnac. There’s worse sherried whisky. With water: some old Macallans 15 yos. Why have they broken (or lost) the moulds? Stunning coffee-ish dryness, coffee freaks should love this. You know, cold-brewed and stuff. Finish: medium, dry, more on old walnuts again, oloroso (VORS) and proper chocolate. Like, dark chocolate at 80 or 90% cocoa. Comments: as good as it gets. Well done Tomatin, Taiwan, and anybody involved. Now indeed, if you dislike dark chocolate, rather go your way.
SGP:462 – 91 points.

Good, looks like we’ve been able to rectify a precarious situation (get a hold of yourself, S.!) so over to the indies now…

Tomatin 12 yo 2006/2019 (58.1%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon hogshead, cask # #800230, 219 bottles)

Tomatin 12 yo 2006/2019 (58.1%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon hogshead, cask # #800230, 219 bottles) Four stars
I thought SCN and its inceptors have always done some pretty unusual choices, always a bit off the beaten tracks, and I say that’s what we should be expecting from some proper indie bottlers. I’m still in love with their latest Angostura, for example. Colour: white wine. Nose: neat, square, tidy and clean. Apples, gooseberries, green pears and proper cider. With water: same. Mouth (neat): well done! Orchard fruits coated with a wee coconut and custard sauce. An aggressive grassiness in the back, but water should sort this out. With water: indeed, this has become a fruit salad sprinkled with, well, with some Tomatin (ooh that’s smart, S.) Finish: medium, malty, with a little café latte. Comments: no hacking here, it’s exquisitely simple, honest and just very good.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Tomatin 11 yo 2008/2019 (56.1%, Artful Dodger, bourbon, cask #453, 323 bottles)

Tomatin 11 yo 2008/2019 (56.1%, Artful Dodger, bourbon, cask #453, 323 bottles) Four stars
All right, let’s try to beat the shortest-tasting-note for a cask strength whisky record… Colour: white wine. Nose: butterscotch. With water: same. Mouth (neat): malt, liquorice and chicory. With water: fab pumpernickel and butterscotch. Finish: long, malty, grassier, perfect. Touch of chlorophyll in the aftertaste. Comments: don’t get me wrong, it’s much more complex than that, but I’m having a go at minimalism. No, not at frugalism! Good, experiment over, let’s move on…
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Good, plenty more, but a last one.

Tomatin 24 yo 1993/2017 (53.2%, Blackadder, Raw Cask Statement, hogshead, sherry finish, cask #9727, 190 bottles)

Tomatin 24 yo 1993/2017 (53.2%, Blackadder, Raw Cask Statement, hogshead, sherry finish, cask #9727, 190 bottles) Four stars
What kind of statement would this be? Colour: coffee. Nose: well, this is only a poor finish, but it was well done, even if in no way it can match a perfect full-term maturation. Some gunpowder and struck matches for sure, then liquorice, fig cake, and sultanas.. When is Christmas again? With water: meats and tar. And a little coal tar and burnt sulphur. Mouth (neat): good for sure, earthy and even sooty, tarry, then on black raisins and that Christmas cake. A wee miso-y side. With water: the sulphur feels more. Some love it, some don’t, it’s true that it’s bordering umami paste. Finish: long, leathery and rubbery, salty, bouillony, soupy. A very controversial style indeed. Comments: un-scorable, some would say 90, others would just sink it or use it to make hand gel.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Stay safe, see you!

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

 

April 1, 2020


Whiskyfun

BREAKING NEWS

All distilleries all over the world now producing ethanol for making hydroalcoholic solutions to help fight the Coronavirus COVID-19

 

Millions of Litres of Hand Sanitiser Returned to Scottish Distilleries Because They Had Been Finished in PX!

Edinburgh, April 1, 2020 - Mildred MacDougall, Chief Nurse at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh told us on the phone, “We couldn’t use them, really, as our hands were becoming much too gluey. One of the nurses ended up with her hands stuck together and she now looks like she’s saying Namaste all day long. Our hands having gotten orange should be no real problem though, there are bigger issues these days. Oh and while I’m at it, stay the f*ck at home!”

 

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

March 2020

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Laphroaig 21 yo 1998/2019 (54.4%, The Whisky Exchange, The Perfect Measure, oloroso, cask #117, 322 bottles) - WF 93

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Ardbeg 1975/1999 (43%, OB) - WF 92

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Crabbie 12 yo (43%, Single malt, Highland, +/-2019)  - WF 86

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Worthy Park 12 yo 2007/2020 (58%, Thompson Brothers for The Whisky Exchange, Jamaica) - WF 90

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Barcelo ‘Anejo’ (37.5%, OB, Dominican Republic, Spanish market, +/-2019)  - WF 15
 

March 31, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Little duos, today Kilkerran

Upon readers request! This from Glengyle Distillery. We’ll have one official and one quasi-official, let’s see which wins today’s little trophy…

Kilkerran 8 yo ‘Cask Strength’ (56.5%, OB, bourbon, 2018)

Kilkerran 8 yo ‘Cask Strength’ (56.5%, OB, bourbon, 2018) Four stars
I agree I’ve been a little slow with this one, but I feel no shame. Now I remember I had adored the 2017. Colour: white wine. Nose: could you smoke kiwis ad rhubarb? Then roll them in chalk and soot, sprinkle some mercurochrome and mouthwash over them, and keep them for a few days in a cave on a Scottish beach? (Whisky Galore style). With water: the usual old tweed jacket, some chives, rainwater, porridge, dust, saltpetre, fresh bread… Mouth (neat): rather massive, a tad varnishy at first, then rather bitter (herbs) and full of grapefruits. I find it a little difficult at this point – perhaps a tad young, but could be me, let’s see what water will do to it… With water: it’s the salt that comes out, a feeling of mezcal, more chalkiness, and certainly much less varnish. Water does it much good. Finish: long, on chalk and grapefruits. A Margarita-y aftertaste. Comments: perhaps less ‘immediate’ and ‘obvious’ than earlier offerings. I promise I will try to taste the 2019s before 2021, if I can!
SGP:462 - 87 points.

Kilkerran 12 yo 2007/2020 (57.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, refill sherry hogshead, 330 bottles)

Kilkerran 12 yo 2007/2020 (57.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, refill sherry hogshead, 330 bottles) Five stars
This one’s brand new, it was bottled last month. Let us beware of bottle shock! Colour: light gold. Nose: many similarities and a few differences, the main ones being that this would be rounder, better coated, less harsh, and, well just terrific at first nosing. I’m even finding something Ardbeggian in there. Other than that, mocha, butterscotch, parsley, fresh coriander, a drop of Thai coconut sauce, miso… Frankly, this is superb, great that they did let Cadenhead have this one – not sure some arms had to be twisted, having said that. With water: love. Crushed chalk and orange skins. Mouth (neat): oh, what a cracker! Amazing punchy and fat malt, sitting right between Longrow and… Ben Nevis, would I say. Superb waxes, dry grasses, salty things, costal stuff, citrus, resins, grapefruits, cough syrup… My my my! With water: swims like an Olympic champion. Finish: long, immaculate, doughy and chalky, then lemony and salty towards the aftertaste. Impeccable. Comments: fabulous whisky, exactly not unnecessarily engineered or ‘innovative’. But remember, do flowers innovate when they open in the morning?
SGP:463 - 92 points.

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

 

March 30, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Young Glenfarclas
on the table

Not that we aren’t tasting a lot of old ones mind you, but those rather tend to come as ‘Secret Speysiders’ these days. I’m really not sure that’s good, but not my business. Right…

Glenfarclas 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2019)

Glenfarclas 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars
As a reference. Last time we tried the rather lighter and less sherried 12 that was in 2016 (WF 82). Colour: gold. Nose: not totally a fan I have to say. A feeling of Tio Pepe, smoky porridge, papier mâché, geranium, polenta… That’s all a tad bizarre, I agree, let’s check the palate… Mouth: there’s Glenfarclas’s firmness, but it’s a little harsh and bizarrely disjointed. Hot eau-de-vie, porridge, pepper from the oak, Fanta, chamomile tea… Finish: medium, drying and cardboardy at first, a little better towards the aftertaste (triple-sec). Comments: not sure what to think. It’s very rustic malt whisky, I would say, more rustic than it used to be in any case.
SGP:351 - 76 points.

Glenfarclas 2010/2019 ‘City Hunter’ (60.4%, OB, Whisky Mew Japan, sherry butt, cask #1497)

Glenfarclas 2010/2019 ‘City Hunter’ (60.4%, OB, Whisky Mew Japan, sherry butt, cask #1497) Four stars and a half
This very J-designed Glenfarclas was selected by Hideo Yamaoka. Did you know that Hideo used to be a member of the famous band ‘Pizzicato 5’ in his not-so-distant youth? Colour: deep gold. Nose: much more classic GF, with just the faintest amount of gunpowder and then an avalanche of orange blossom, sultanas, small dried Turkish figs, some pastry dough (between panettone and kougelhopf, let’s call that a kougettone ;-)) and really a perfect bready development. There’s nothing better than good bread, they say, well there’s not better whisky than whisky that smells of good bread then. With water: turns to unfiltered manzanilla! Mouth (neat): just excellent. Both heavy and light, very sherried, meaty and chocolaty, with some kind of raisin + orange mix and a pretty grassy development towards green pepper and juniper. With water: game, set and match. Figs, marmalade, dough, nutmeg, and no unnecessary heaviness. Finish: long, more on proper chocolate and coffee. Marmalade back in the aftertaste, s well as a we ‘old-school’ meaty maltiness. Comments: omedetou! (hope that word doesn’t have any double meaning…)
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Glenfarclas 9 yo 2009/2019 (59.4, OB for Le Gus’t, sherry hogshead, cask #1797, 320 bottles)

Glenfarclas 9 yo 2009/2019 (59.4, OB for Le Gus’t, sherry hogshead, cask #1797, 320 bottles) Four stars
Colour: golden amber. Nose: good example of a sherry cask that was most probably quite fresh, since some clear oaky tones are still flying over a combination of dried fruits (figs, raisins) and some sweet meats, Thai-style. Chicken with mango sauce, perhaps. So beyond the obvious pencil shavings here this is a very nice nose. With water: very craft, whatever that means! Well that means with high oak influence, while that would be top-quality oak. Spicy bread and such. Mouth (neat): not the first time a sherried Scotch malt reminds me of a top-of-range bourbon. Coconut liqueur, mint, cloves, pepper, turmeric, ginger… And even rye, mind you! May we see the papers? With water: more of all that. I would even dare say that the distillate is of secondary importance here. Finish: long, excellent, very ‘craft’ indeed. We’re thinking Westland, Smögen, Hautes-Glaces, those guys. Comments: very surprising, and very good. A whisky all in trompe-l’oeil, in a way. Good fun!
SGP:472 - 87 points.

We have zillions of GFs yet to taste but this is not the time. Still, perhaps an older vintage before we call this a session…

Glenfarclas 40 yo 1976/2016 (43.7%, OB, Oloroso sherry, 1500 bottles)

Glenfarclas 40 yo 1976/2016 (43.7%, OB, Oloroso sherry, 1500 bottles) Five stars
I remember the very first 1976 ‘Family Cask’ had been absolutely stellar (WF 92) but this is another range, small batches cunningly called ‘The Family Collector Series’ according to the excellent folks at TWE. Colour: amber. Nose: very very funny. Tapioca, crude chocolate, ristretto, very old balsamic vinegar, manuka honey (we often quote manuka honey but this one DOES totally smell of manuka honey) and a bouquet of wisteria. It is extremely unusual with this hyper-honeyed profile, I’m very curious about the palate. Mouth: bingo honey, bingo pollen, bingo beeswax, and bingo apricot and quince jam. In the background, more Timut pepper than in the whole of Nepal. Let’s say pink pepper, which is not quite pepper by the way, but there. Reeks of grapefruit. Pink grapefruit, of course. Finish: long, feeling stronger than just 43.7, and absolutely gorgeous with these unexpected notes of ripe strawberries. Comments: fantastic Glenfarclas, with a very unusual profile. But 1976 was another great vintage for fruity Speysiders (think Benriach). Now do we really believe in vintage effects with whisky?
SGP:651 - 92 points.

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

 

March 29, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Duetting Cognacs

Not that we’re rationing what we have - yet, but I’ve decided that we’ll only try two little Cognacs today. There.

Ordonneau ‘Domaine de la Grolette Très Vieillie Réserve des Borderies’ (40%, OB, +/-2018)

Ordonneau ‘Domaine de la Grolette Très Vieillie Réserve des Borderies’ (40%, OB, +/-2018) Four stars and a half
Ordonneau are located in Charentes, right in the middle of the smallest appellation (a.k.a. cru)  in Cognac, namely les Borderies (the borders - of the heart of Cognac, actually). It is a rather small estate and their ‘Très Vieille Réserve’ is older than 25. I find it a bit sad that they would keep bottling this old Cognac at 40% vol. even if the general public still prefers lighter strengths – apparently. Colour: amber. Nose: oh what a shame that they kept it at 40%! Because this is an awesome nose, starting with warm tatin and the best maple syrup they have in C’nada, going on with many stewed and baked fruits, especially mangos and peaches, also flowers (dandelions, never cut or grub up dandelions, the bees need them in Spring), and becoming then pretty tertiary, with a good deal of rancio, prunes, fig wine, touches of copper (old kettle), tobacco, ham and camphor (hints). This is all pretty perfect, let’s just hope it won’t nosedive on our palates. Well you see what I mean. Mouth: oh, yes, only great spirits do stand 40% vol., and that is the case here. Love this blend of liquid caramel, liquorice, menthol, aniseed and all the jams. Quince, oranges, apples, pears, perhaps a little flower jelly… It’s to be wondered if the 40% aren’t a typo, this rather feels like 43. Huge difference indeed, seriously. Finish: what’s more, it’s even pretty long, rather on praline this time, still with liquorice and some even fresher orangey notes. More caramel again in the aftertaste. Comments: great Cognac by a little house – to be honest, I had never heard of them before. My bad.
SGP:641 - 89 points.

Good, I suppose we’d need one with quite some firepower to do fine against that little Ordonneau…

Vallein Tercinier 43 yo ‘Lot 75’ (46.9%, Maltbarn, Petite Champagne, 171 bottles, 2020)

Vallein Tercinier 43 yo ‘Lot 75’ (46.9%, Maltbarn, Petite Champagne, 171 bottles, 2020) Four stars and a half
Right, Petite Champagne, despite being called ‘Petite’, is six times larger than the Borderies. And twice the size of the ‘Grande’ Champagne, which, to the novice, doesn’t make any sense, does it? French logic at its best (but I’m sure there is a reason!) As for the house Vallein Tercinier, they need no introduction, do they. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s not often that a VT has a proper sparring partner, which is the case here. This Lot 75 is rather fresher (despite being older), rather more on fresh fruits (oranges, the usual peaches, prickly pears) and a notch earthier. It’s actually slower than the Ordonneau, but that may come from the higher strength. Its only after a good two minutes that some wonderful stewed fruits do take off (figuratively, that is), with even a feeling of a very prestigious white sangria. No, really, but we’re not talking sangria for tourists of course. Mouth: incredible, it’s almost harsh – at 43 years of age – but that wouldn’t last as a proper avalanche of citrus fruits falls over you after just twenty seconds. Blood oranges, tangerines… There’s also some flower jelly again, a little honey, soft liquorice, and touches of old oak. A very very faint touch of rusticity, but you just cannot not love the earthy side in the end. Gentian, liquorice wood and celeriac, love that. Finish: long, firm, unusually rooty. Citrus back in the aftertaste, which just always works, as I always say (right, right, S.) Comments: looks like this may end in a tie.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

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

 

March 28, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Four Smögen
These notes are being written while in isolation at my parents house by Loch Fyne. We can’t travel right now, so why not do a little ‘glass-bound whisky tourism’. Let’s head to Sweden if you don’t mind, get the valinch ready please Pär.

 

Smögen Triple 5 yo 2011/2017 (54%, OB, cask #5-6/2011, European oak sauternes barriques, 882 bottles)

Smögen Triple 5 yo 2011/2017 (54%, OB, cask #5-6/2011, European oak sauternes barriques, 882 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: very ‘new world’, as we used to say around 2010. That is to say: bags of smoked dark beers, spicy rye bread, pumpkin seed oil, ham terrine, yellow mustard and hints of plaster, putty and brine. The wood is clearly rather active but it feels nicely contained within the distillate, rather than dominant. Leaves behind a pleasing richness of spices and breads. With water: superbly clean and crisp smokiness now. Lots of bonfire embers, paprika, mineral salts, coal scuttles and suggestions of oily toolboxes and hessian rags. Some menthol tobacco notes in the background. Mouth: very sweet and smoky on arrival. Bacon jam, squid ink, natural tar, caraway distillate and wee touches of mint and pastis. The peat gets bigger on second sipping, rather more hefty, medicinal, herbal and oily. With water: again this lovely sharpness of smoke, tinged with many wee aspects like lemon juice, chalk, sourdough, hessian and herbal cough medicines. Finish: long, bready, herbal, sweetly smoky, gently peaty and with a rather nice smoked olive oil note in the aftertaste. Comments: what I love about Smögen is that it is genuine skilled whisky making in a very ‘interventionist’ fashion, by which I mean you can feel that every decision which has led to the character of this whisky has been deeply and deliberately considered - ‘auteur’ whisky if you will. The assertive wood works well with the syrupy style of peat here. I hope some of this triple distilled stuff has been left to age a little longer.
SGP: 667 - 87 points.

 

 

Smögen 7 yo 2011/2019 (62.4%, OB, cask #56/2011, 1st fill barrel + rum finish, 325 bottles)

Smögen 7 yo 2011/2019 (62.4%, OB, cask #56/2011, 1st fill barrel + rum finish, 325 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: you do get the rum at first, although it manifests rather nicely as charred pineapple, fruit salad juices, olives in brine and all manner of bandages, seawater, boiler smoke and some stuff like camphor, vapour rubs and boot polish. With water: wonderful salinity, lots of anchovy paste, sardines slathered in olive oil, sheep wool, chalk, wet rocks, cider vinegar and smoked lime juice. Really superb! Mouth: extremely pure, sharp, saline and smoked in lemon juice, raw oyster water, petrol, smouldering rosemary branches,  juniper, hessian and coal smoke. Extremely charismatic, and whatever the rum is doing, it’s doing it with impeccable politeness. With water: gets farmier on one hand but also more elegantly coastal with all these wee notes of miso, dried seaweed, sandalwood and rock pools. Some slightly animalistic edges and a wee touch of sootiness. Finish: long, smoky, gamey, earthy, peaty and wonderfully rich. Comments: Superb and very different. The rum fades in and out in an extremely subtle and slightly playful fashion but is never dominant or unbalanced in its manifestations. It may be young and monstrously powerful, but it’s also wonderfully fun and deceptively complex. This is smart use of finishing.
SGP: 567 - 89 points.

 

 

Smögen 7 yo 2011/2019 (62.2%, OB, cask #57/2011, 1st fill bourbon, 327 bottles)

Smögen 7 yo 2011/2019 (62.2%, OB, cask #57/2011, 1st fill bourbon, 327 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: fascinating to try this next to the rum finish. This is just that bit cleaner, purer and more focussed. All on fabrics, wet rocks, seawater, chalk, plaster, seaweed, embrocations, lemon juice and a rather savoury, earthy peaty character. Umami, salty, lots of liquid seasonings and bath salts. With water: some kind of uber-salty pasta water cut with petrol and olive brine. Is there such a thing as a ‘dirty highball’? Well, there should be! (And not just one made with Inchmoan.) Mouth: pin-sharp, salty, mineral, umami, coastal and citric. A young Caol Ila that’s been slapped on the arse by an old Brora. A kind of kippery smokiness evolves along with some smoked herbs and soot. With water: more meaty now with these smoky bacon notes. Sooty, smoked fabrics, paraffin, hessian and more seawater and black olives. Finish: long, fatty, greasily peaty, resinously saline, nervous, coastal, lemony, herbal and with a rather deep and unctuous smokiness in the aftertaste. Comments: I just love the purity and power on display here. Not to mention that this is raw and naked Smögen in all its glory.
SGP: 468 - 90 points.

 

 

Smögen 8 yo 2011/2019 (57.8%, OB, casks # 4 8-10/2011, first fill Sauternes barriques, 1628 bottles)

Smögen 8 yo 2011/2019 (57.8%, OB, casks # 4 8-10/2011, first fill Sauternes barriques, 1628 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: quite a departure. This is really brimming with umami broths, soy sauce, smoky kippers covered in lemon juice, smoked paprika, toasted fennel seed and freshly baked brown bread spread with Marmite (an opinion dividing yeast extract, which I adore). Keeps on evolving with these notes of flambeed banana, kiwi, lime, exotic fruit teas and pine resin - some dried fruits as well such as apricot and sultana. Very impressive. With water: tarry, gamey, meaty, salty, lots of smoked almonds, toasted pumpkin seeds and a wee hint of petrol. Mouth: lots of smoked breads, smoked dark beers, broiled ham, cooking oils, natural tar extracts, herbal cough medicines, toothpaste, mineral oil, squid ink and Maggi. There’s a terrific meatiness and weight to the texture, while the balance between wood and distillate remains perfectly poised. With water: smoked olive oil, paprika, soot, peat embers and some crystallised and dark fruits mixed in amongst it all. Salty porridge with crispy bacon. Finish: long, leathery, sooty, smoky, peppery, briny and with lots of dried herbs, olive oil and bouillon stock. Comments: A great and very fascinating variation, good use of the Sauternes cask I would say. What’s for sure is that these are rather demanding whiskies which could probably become tiring in session level dramming situations (unless you’re Swedish, probably) but the overall impression is of their quality and sheer force of personality. In my view, Smögen is a name that makes you feel excited about the future of malt whisky.
SGP: 666 - 89 points.

 

 

 

 

March 27, 2020


Whiskyfun

MJ

Happy Confined International Whisk(e)y Day!

Every year since 2008, the original, truly non-commercial International Whisk(e)y Day celebrates the birthday of the late Michael Jackson, eternal king of whisky writing. Today raise a glass to Michael Jackson and please help fight Parkinson's Disease!
 

March 26, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Little Pairs of Laphroaig
Pair Four

Let’s try to have a little fun today. And have an intriguing official (but aren’t they all?)

Laphroaig 2005/2019 ‘PX, I love you’ (54.4%, OB, for Loch & Key, USA, cask #3, Vintage Cask)

Laphroaig 2005/2019 ‘PX, I love you’ (54.4%, OB, for Loch & Key, USA, cask #3, Vintage Cask) Three stars and a half
A funny thing for sure. I love PX too, but not in my Laphroaig! Sounds like cappuccino and bacon to me (apologies), or kippers and bananas. Or lamb and mint (ha). Colour: office coffee. Nose: well, it is okay. Exhaust fumes, leather polish, new sneakers, Linzertorte, Mon-Chéri, regular milk chocolate (I won’t mention chocolate with palm oil inside, out of charity), a little geraniol (geranium), rubber and tar, used matches, raisins… It’s not totally dissonant, I have to say. With water: really, lol. Between tequila and kirsch indeed, plus drops of Jäger and Uzbek tar liqueur. No, really, Uzbekistan. Mouth (neat): very loco, a kind of heavy lapsang souchong of whisky. Or smoked kirsch, really. I have to admit that it’s got some good sides having said that, the best being that it is not as rubbery as most other PXed peat monsters. There. With water: lapsang souchong. Finish: lapsang souchong for a good 30 secs. Comments: in French we’d call it ‘sympatoche’ but I just couldn’t find any equivalent word in English. Perhaps ‘friendly-funny’?
SGP:557 - 83 points.

More sherry, perhaps?

Laphroaig 18 yo 2001/2019 (59.3%, Signatory Vintage, for La Maison du Whisky, refill sherry butt, cask #319, 606 bottles)

Laphroaig 18 yo 2001/2019 (59.3%, Signatory Vintage, for La Maison du Whisky, refill sherry butt, cask #319, 606 bottles) Four stars
This one came out at Whisky Live Paris, right between the Gilets Jaunes and the strikes (in Paris we always organise strikes and demonstrations for tourists, just like our Chinese friends have their pandas – but pandas are smarter). Colour: light gold. Nose: it reminds me of the 30th anniversary as far as sherryness goes. I mean, the sherry’s very discreet and would just let the distillate speak out as much as it wants. Brine, shells, lime, chalk, and only a very moderate medicinal side. Quite some leather. With water: a wee bit more on the leathery side. Mouth (neat): oh very good! Perhaps simple, but it’s beautifully straightforward, almost abstract. Gentian, chalk, lemon, brine, touch of cardboard, or perhaps matchwood. With water: long, smoked almonds and putty. Saltier aftertaste, with some cucumber juice. No, let’s not exaggerate, no cucumber juice. Finish: long, classic salty and smoky style. Comments: excellent, but it’s not a classic medicinal Laphroaig.
SGP:467 - 87 points.

(Thank you Joe at Skinner’s)

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

 

March 25, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Little Pairs of Laphroaig
Pair Three

Let’s see what we find… Oh, perhaps two 1998s? Sherry? And of crazy quality? Not that great 1998s from Laphroaig’s are an unseen breed, I agree…

Laphroaig 20 yo 1998/2018 (58.3%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #700392, refill sherry butt, 573 bottles)

Laphroaig 20 yo 1998/2018 (58.3%, Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary, cask #700392, refill sherry butt, 573 bottles) Five stars
In theory, this should be stellar, but vorsicht, it may be heavily sherried (coffee and mustard, as we sometimes say). Colour: deep gold. Nose: phew! There is some oloroso, with old walnuts indeed, and even a little ham and mustard (sauce à la diable, we say), but that would just interpenetrate (what?) with the very smoky distillate. Absolutely wonderful notes of camphor, embrocations, cut agave, then game, seawater, shellfish, chartreuse, fennel, and a little engine oil again. Wow, as they say at Islay’s Got Talent. With water: damp fabric and chalk. Always works. Looks like the water I’m using kind of offsets the sherry – good to know! (I’m ready to ship this particular water to you, price is 5,000€ a litre – while stocks last!) Mouth (neat): sumptuous, rich, pretty creamy, and just flawless. Mushrooms, walnuts, dried beef and cured ham, lemon marmalade, oysters, grapefruit juice, iodine, cough syrup, green pepper, turmeric, seawater and.. hey oh, have I mentioned walnuts? With water: indeed it takes water very well. Tobacco, soft leather, walnuts, black olives, seawater… Finish: long and very salty. Comments: have the excellent people at the Distillery ever issued a vintage 1998, beyond some hand-filled ones?
SGP:467 - 92 points.

Laphroaig 21 yo 1998/2019 (54.4%, The Whisky Exchange, The Perfect Measure, oloroso, cask #117, 322 bottles)

Laphroaig 21 yo 1998/2019 (54.4%, The Whisky Exchange, The Perfect Measure, oloroso, cask #117, 322 bottles) Five stars
Something I don’t quite get, when London (I call them London) say ‘The Perfect Measure’, do they suggest that 70cl is that measure? Was that checked with some kind of post-Brexit health authorities? Also, they say it was finished in oloroso since 2010, but I’d rather call that double-maturation then. Indeed, the spirit of contradiction (nice name for a new range, no? Nah forget…) Colour: dark amber. Nose: I’ll say it (now that it sold out, unless I’m mistaken), it reminds of the official 1974 for La Maison. Smoked prunes, menthol cigarettes, 100 yo armagnac, brake fluid, resins, linseed oil, pine needles, green walnuts, walnut wine (or nocino), linoleum, Bénédictine, a drop of Bovril/Viandox… Isn’t this some kind of meta (or supra) food? With water: up up up. I’ll have to stop quoting Mark Spitz or Shirley Babashoff, but yeah, it swims pretty well. Mouth (neat): fabtastic, you just have to enjoy pinesap, fir bud liqueur, or indeed Chartreuse. Smoked Chartreuse, some very crazy monk must have thought about trying to concoct that! Also a little maraschino, guignolet… What’s sure is that it is splendid. With water: the distillate fighting back, with oysters, toothpaste, olives, lemons, cough syrup and just, well, ‘peat’. Finish: long, pretty creamy, a little more classic, with some leather, tobacco, marmalade, black tapenade… Comments: pretty mind-boggling. He who decided, back in 2010, to re-rack this one into this oloroso cask deserves our eternal consideration. And a few medals (just like Mark Spitz and Shirley Babashoff – oh come on, Serge!)
SGP:467 - 93 points.

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

 

March 24, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Little Pairs of Laphroaig
Pair Two

Two twelve years old, how does that sound? Including one OB, this little one…

Laphroaig 12 yo (43%, OB, Bonfanti Milano, decanter, 75cl, +/-1975)

Laphroaig 12 yo (43%, OB, Bonfanti Milano, stone flagon, 75cl, +/-1975) Five stars
Although the regular 10 yo white label for Bonfanti’s got an even higher reputation, this 12 never went unnoticed in Laphroaigland either, even if decanters or flagons usually give cold sweats to aficionados, until they are open. I mean, those flagons. Colour: gold. Nose: typical late 1950s or early 1960 Laphroaig, that is to say full of mangos and other tropical fruits (maracuja), all that mingled with soft coastal tones, creosote, drops of maraschino, a few mentholy herbs (carrot top?) and the subtle touches of marrow and miso soup. It’s all very complex, certainly not ‘evaporated’ or fragile, and perhas just a tad less fresh than the legendary 10 yo for Bonfanti. Or, for that matter, Philippi or Cinzano. A little coffee too. How complex! Mouth: it did not lose one single horsepower (but it’s not a Ferrari). Rather saltier and meatier on the palate, with some beef jerky, mole sauce, touches of clay (from the ceramic?), then really a lot of very salty miso, with a little honey to boot. You could almost use this as a sauce for your Chinese dumplings (but please no pangolin). Finish: medium, meaty. Cold chicken bouillon with a drop of honey. Dropped a wee bit, not too sure about the finish. Some preserved apricots in the aftertaste, maybe. Comments: I don’t think all batches of the 12 were the same, and that all flagons have kept this well. Having said that, as much as the nose was really fantabulous, the palate did show some wee signs of tiredness here and there. A little too much OCE, after all? (that’s Old ceramic Effect, lol). Oh and it was only very moderately peaty, but we know that peat kind of transmutes itself over the decades.
SGP:464 - 90 points.

So perhaps a modern 12 IB now?

Laphroaig 12 yo 2006/2019 (57.2%, Distiller’s Art for HNWS, refill sherry butt, cask #HL15653, 546 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 2006/2019 (57.2%, Distiller’s Art for HNWS, refill sherry butt, cask #HL15653, 546 bottles) Four stars and a half
A series by Hunter Laing indeed. Colour: gold. Nose: I suppose it’s the sherry cask that imparted these notes of roots, Jerusalem artichokes, or parsnips… Behind that, tons of smoked almonds and the usual high-medicinal style, more so than in yesterday’s ‘phroaigs for sure. Mercurochrome over celeriac, so some kind of rémoulade if you will. I like this (I mean, not mercurochrome over celeriac). With water: engine oil, smoke, chalk, fresh paint and grapefruit juice. Impeccable. Mouth (neat): powerful, straight, almondy, rather on putty and marzipan at first, then we have a lot of salt and stewed oysters. Indeed, some savages do that. And a lot of medicinal smoke! With water: arch classic un-fiddled with young Laphroaig. It’s  not a ‘very refill’ butt that’ll change anything in this context – loud applause! Finish: long, salty, almondy, just very good. No drop this time, this one would run a marathon. Comments: this young baby almost iced the old Bonfanti, but that one had a nose that puts it in a different dimension.
SGP:457 - 89 points.

(Thank you François and Tony)

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

 

March 23, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Little Pairs of Laphroaig
Pair One

A bit busy these (confined) days, I think I’ll have to cut into my little sessions for a few days and rather focus on duos. No, no refunds planned, but nice try.

Laphroaig 15 yo 2004/2019 (51.6%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, cask #50088, 240 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 2004/2019 (51.6%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, cask #50088, 240 bottles) Four stars
Don’t our friends over there love their dragons? But OMG, the 2004 vintage is already 15. Time flies as fast as… dragons, does it not. Colour: gold. Nose: immediate, almost instantaneous raw mineral peat (vs. medicinal) plus lime juice and light custard. It's rather raw, pretty simple, not too far from some recent OBs (can’t remember the names, ages are easy to remember, Gaelic not so…) Then rather bell pepper and juniper, seashells, and a very grassy smoke. With water: some oak spices for sure, but balance has been kept. Modern Laphroaig as the distillery themselves are proposing these days. Mouth (neat): very punchy, and all in keeping with the nose, full of a grassy smokiness, citrus peel, Thai basil, green pepper, and ‘licking pebbles’. Are there good pebbles on the Islay beaches? Machir? Really sharp. With water: same feelings, plus touches of salt and green pepper. More oak spices in the aftertaste (some curry?) Finish: long, saltier indeed, spicier. Comments: I find this very very good, it’s just that it does not do things by half. And it would spare no one. Ah, yes, that’s Cairdeas…
SGP:377 - 87 points.

So another one… and why change bottler?

Laphroaig 19 yo 1999/2018 (56.1%, Or Sileis, Arthurian Tales series, sherry hogshead, cask #1688, 295 bottles)

Laphroaig 19 yo 1999/2018 (56.1%, Or Sileis, Arthurian Tales series, sherry hogshead, cask #1688, 295 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: less wood influence, a fresher, somewhat lighter profile, and a wonderful coastal zestiness that will clear your airways, from nostrils to bronchi. Oh and a whole plate of Gruinart oysters sprinkled with Vicks’ Vaporub. Will have to try that one day! With water: pretty much on the same wavelength. Some cough syrup and embrocations rubbed between your hands. Mouth (neat): luminous, sharp, extremely smoky, with a lot of lemon, seawater, and mercurochrome. Pristine. With water:  bit old-school Laphroaig, which is a compliment, obviously. Finish: this is where it tends to converge with the 2004, with a few greenish oak spices showing up. Comments: top contemporary Laphroaig. We’ll see what we’ll fin tomorrow… In the meantime, stay safe.  
SGP:467 - 89 points.

(Thanks Jason)

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

 

March 22, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

The Confined Sessions
Number One
Today some rum

One week of confinement already here in Alsace. Wife and cats at home, children in Paris or in Strasbourg, and thousands of spirits to choose from, should the postal services or couriers stop working. We could hold out for between two and three years at the current pace, but of course, we’d have to gradually taste the boring stuff we’ve always been procrastinating with. Bah. So, a few rums today, let’s see what we can find in the stash. By the way, hope all the distilleries that have columns are now producing 95% vol. ethanol to make hand gel! Anyway, stay safe, don’t drink too much, and take heart!

Worthy Park 12 yo 2007/2020 (58%, Thompson Brothers for The Whisky Exchange, Jamaica)

Worthy Park 12 yo 2007/2020 (58%, Thompson Brothers for The Whisky Exchange, Jamaica) Five stars
Very lovely label there, kudos to the artist. Colour: gold. Nose: instant tarry pleasures. S&M snorkelling outfit, olives, gherkins, hints of mango tarte. Or a tarte tatin made with mangos instead of apples. Dornoch Castle, are you game? With water: green olives and seawater. Say rather the Mediterranean. Mouth (neat): fantastic. Mint drops, liquorice lozenges, mango jam, banana liqueur, black olives. With water: anchovies and sardines. Careful whisky folks, these Jamaicans do not take water as well as most malt whiskies do, so please add H2O drop by drop or you may just kill them. Finish: long and salty. Pineapples and guavas and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s not a difficult WP at all, it’s even kind of easy, but quality remains high. Extremely high.
SGP:563 - 90 points.

Yeah right, go try to climb over such a WP… But Bielle can do it!

Bielle 13 yo 2006/2019 (47.9%, Rasta Morris, Marie-Galante, cask #RM019, 56 bottles)

Bielle 13 yo 2006/2019 (47.9%, Rasta Morris, Marie-Galante, cask #RM019, 56 bottles) Four stars and a half
As you may know, Marie-Galante is a small island that’s administratively part of Guadeloupe. The rums they make over there are nothing short of spectacular. Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, Bielle can survive both Worthy Park and Hampden on your tasting table. In truth this is out of this world, less big than the Jamaican s for sure, but much more complex. In this very case, I’m finding (hope you’ve got some time) bananas, liquorice, mangos, olives, putty, ylang-ylang, vanilla fudge, peach pie, peat (yep), grenadine, raspberry yoghurt, gorse, motor oil, menthol… and god knows what else. Mouth: mah, the best teas there ever was. Superb oaky concoction, that is to say obvious strong oak but all in balance and elegance, then liquorice and mint lozenges. Not as complex as on the nose, and probably a little more rustic, but it wouldn’t spare you. It’s powerful rum. Finish: long, a tad pungent and gritty (oak), but otherwise just perfect. Saltier aftertaste – we’re almost eating Belgian mussels. Cheers Rasta Morris! Comments: what a stunner again! Only the oakiness was a wee tad too obvious, not sure if this was aged in the tropics or in Scotland or Holland. Ha.
SGP:462 - 89 points.
Update:
this lovely babay matured in the Tropics and spent only three months in Europe

Since were doing bigly stuff (Donald!)…

Lost Spirits ‘Cuban Inspired Rum’ (75.5%, OB, USA, +/-2019)

Lost Spirits ‘Cuban Inspired Rum’ (75.5%, OB, USA, +/-2019) Two stars
At this strength we’ll do it fastly because we have importanter issues to deal with, believe me (Donald, come out of this poor body!)  – unless, having said that, we use it as hand gel. What should we do? Colour: deep gold. Nose: nice! Coffee liqueur, liquorice, cured ham. This one rather goes towards the Santiago range as far as Cubans are concerned, which is great news as the rest is… forgettable. With water: nice black earth and mushrooms. But are you allowed to write ‘Cuban’ on an American bottle? Wouldn’t that send you straight to Guantanamo? Mouth (neat): some intriguing flavours here and there, but coffee-infused cologne, no thanks. With water: not bad, really, bu the distillate’s a tad thin, I would say. Too ‘columny’, where’s the pot-sill aguardiente? Finish: bizarrely shortish. Coffee liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: interesting, but probably not needed, except if you live in Orangeland, I suppose. No that’s not the Netherlands. Loved other Lost Spirits much better.
SGP:441- 72 points.

WeiRon Cask 01 (52.7%, Svenska Eldvatten, 320 bottles, 2017)

WeiRon Cask 01 (52.7%, Svenska Eldvatten, 320 bottles, 2017) Three stars
This has been finished in Swedish virgin oak barrels, while I had thought our friends up there had used all their old oak trees to build warships! Colour: gold. Nose: olives, tar, liquorice, ripened bananas, touch of vanilla. No complains so far. With water: lighter. Mouth (neat): very Jamaican, with some extra-fruitiness and touches of sweeter and rounder vanilla-led rum. Column stuff. With water: once again the columny rums are having the upper hand once water’ been added. Coz I suppose this is a blend, am I not right? Finish: same. Coffee. Comments: very good, but maybe a little thin. I would humbly suggest that the pot vs. column proportions are a little too much in favour of those bl**dy columns. Better make 95% ethanol for making hand gel these days!
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Uitvlugt 25 yo 1993/2019 (51.2%, Cadenhead, Guyana, barrel)

Uitvlugt 25 yo 1993/2019 (51.2%, Cadenhead, Guyana, barrel) Two stars and a half
The mark here is ‘MPM’. That’s the thing with continental aging, which is obviously the case here, while I perfectly understand why a few distillers would prefer that their make would be integrally aged in the tropics, the best ones still stem from Europe in my book, unless you dig straight oak juices. Some tough decisions to be made here as far as GIs go … (I’m not talking about junk double-ageing, unlikely finishings in brandy casks, or suspicious sauced-up casks). Colour: gold. Nose: I would say you feel the ‘slower’ aging here, even if it’s lighter Uitvlugt in this case. Hay, olives, notes of copper, brine… With water: curiously light. 25 years are fine, of course, but in this case we’re closer to grain whisky. In my book a 25 yo grain whisky is a very young grain whisky! Mouth (neat): good, pretty easy, not thick, with oranges, aniseed, and apple juice. Perhaps the thinnest Uitvlugt I’ve ever tasted. With water: even thinner. Did this come from BoJo’s own reserve? Finish: very short, but not ugly at all. It’s just pretty frustrating. Comments: some Uitvlugt unlike most other Uitvlugts. I mean, this is much thinner, but it is still very good rum.
SGP:441 - 79  points.

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

 

March 21, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent and guest taster Angus MacRaild

 

 

Pairing with isolation Angus  
Despite all the workmanlike humour flying about the place, I think we can all agree, this is not exactly the greatest of times. For some of us with vulnerable friends and loved ones it is unpleasantly stressful and frightening. And of course, for most of us, there are all manner of unsettling economic realities to contend with. However, Whiskyfun remains open, life goes on and there’s every good reason to let whisky work its original and intended magic: relax, unwind, laugh, share where possible, get a little tipsy - carve out a few wee pockets of fun and joy here and there. Anyway, enough prevarication, let’s try a bundle of newish whiskies in pairs.

 

Linkwood 10 yo (48.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, Batch 7, 1634 bottles)

Linkwood 10 yo (48.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, Batch 7, 1634 bottles)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: immediately rather yeasty, sharp and sourdough-esque. Lots of clay, hot plastic, bailed hay, feta cheese, lemon barley water and baking soda. A strange concoction of different organoleptic forces. Mouth: a little more cohesive but at the same time rather plain. Fresh cereals, toast, baked pastries, a very light, creamy sweetness, buttermilk icing, sunflower oil and orange peel. Perfectly nice but utterly forgettable I’m afraid. Finish: a little short and rather full of bubblegum, artificial sweetener, apple sourz and wee hint of nutmeg. Comments: It’s a totally harmless wee Linkwood, minding its own business. It’s just that it has something of a ‘blending stock’ vibe going on.
SGP: 441 - 76 points.

 

 

Linkwood 10 yo 2008/2019 (56%, Filmnik ‘The curious case of Benjamin Button’, cask #303292, hogshead, 298 bottles)

Linkwood 10 yo 2008/2019 (56%, Filmnik ‘The curious case of Benjamin Button’, cask #303292, hogshead, 298 bottles)
You may recall that The curious case of Benjamin Button featured a character who aged in reverse, feel free to draw your own comparisons with the world of whisky… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it’s the Boutique-y, only wielding a hot skewer of alcohol! Cream crackers, fresh vinyl, baking soda, white bread, sunflower seeds, cod liver oil and fabric softener. A curious but hyper fresh nose that is somehow so plain it has gone through the infinity loop and become charismatic again! With water: all on plain oatcakes, linens, chalk, lanolin and crisp dry cereals now. Mouth: quite sweet but it’s a big and emphatically malt-derived, natural sweetness. Lots of icing sugar, barley sugars, bitter lemon, limoncello in tonic water, orange vitamin tablets and fruity travel sweets. Also a light vanilla custard note too. With water: a sense of white madeira, cut green apple, some gooseberry-flecked acidity and malt loaf. Gets rather fulsome and attractive with a little water I must say. Finish: good length, nicely mouth coating, oily and balanced between creamy vanilla sweetness and these drier, more bready autolytic notes. Comments: Much to enjoy here, even if it does suffer a little from this generic plainness once again. I feel these parcels of casks are  a good example of what happens when rather homogenised distillate comes up against relatively inactive refill wood. You can have plain oak or plain distillate, but plainness in both gives you painfully plain whisky. Are you still with me? Hello out there…?
SGP: 551 - 81 points.

 

 

Imperial 23 yo 1995/2019 (45.2%, The Whisky Exchange ‘The Magic Of The Cask’, refill barrel, 125 bottles)

Imperial 23 yo 1995/2019 (45.2%, The Whisky Exchange ‘The Magic Of The Cask’, refill barrel, 125 bottles)
I’m predictably late with this one. This one was bottled for last year’s Whisky Show in London; I’m a big fan of the labels for this series which were done specially for people on 2CB and LSD. Colour: straw. Nose: waxes, pollens and honeys. Everything in its place and, unlike the wee Linkwoods we had before, this is a textbook example of that holy trinity equation of characterful distillate + good refill wood + time. These light honey notes develop elegantly towards heather, camphor, putty, lemon peel and a lightly peppery and rather fragrant waxiness. Citronella candles, honeyed oatmeal and cough medicines. Mouth: extremely easy and - dare I say it? - smooth arrival. More of these soft medical notes like gauze and embrocations with notes of slightly salty mead, sandalwood and heather honey. More camphor, white pepper, putty and some rich cereal tones. Finish: medium length and still on waxes, camphor, citrus pith, pepper and some juicy white stone fruits. Comments: Have you heard? Imperial: it’s the new closed distillery that everyone’s talking about! Hurry while stocks last!
SGP: 562 - 90 points.

 

 

Imperial 25 yo 1994/2019 (44.1%, Elixir Distillers, Single Malts Of Scotland ‘UK exclusive’, cask #5867, barrel, 185 bottles)

Imperial 25 yo 1994/2019 (44.1%, Elixir Distillers, Single Malts Of Scotland ‘UK exclusive’, cask #5867, barrel, 185 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: very close to the 95 but with more emphasis on sandalwood, gorse flowers, heather honey, mineral oil, waxes, crushed seashells, ink and aspirin. Similarly full of pollens, pressed wildflowers, herbal teas and wee touches of spearmint and eucalyptus. It’s really not far away from some late 80s Clynelish, only with more emphasis on fabrics, putty and cereals. Mouth: drier, leaner, more peppery, still rather waxy but overall more on scattered stony minerals, cough medicines, bitter lemon and dried tarragon. Finish: medium and full of warmth, honey, sweet cereals, light waxiness and again these wee coastal and medical flourishes. Comments: I really do think these mid-90s batches of Imperial are shy but hugely impressive. They share quite a bit with the likes of Clynelish and Ben Nevis from similar vintages, which can’t be a bad thing. This one was a tad drier and narrower but still cruising at the same high quality level.
SGP: 462 - 90 points.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 14 yo ‘Warehouse 9’ (59.9%, OB hand fill 2017, 1st fill oloroso sherry, cask #1490)

Bunnahabhain 14 yo ‘Warehouse 9’ (59.9%, OB hand fill 2017, 1st fill oloroso sherry, cask #1490)
These bottlings come in handy ‘neckable’ 20cl formats. Or, massively overpriced, cheapskate 20cl sizes. Depending on your cynicism levels on any given day. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: big, earthy and beefy with an abundance of prunes in Armagnac, coffee and dark fruit chutney. Things like brown sauce, mole, soy sauce, Dundee cake, gingerbread and black olives. Big, uncomplicated and powerful stuff designed to seduce sherry lovers. With water: gets more dense and medical with things like natural tar, roof pitch and then leaf mulch, walnut oil, hessian and dunnage earthiness. Mouth: beef stock, camphor, paraffin, soot, bike chain grease, almond oil, canvass and pine resin. Massively dense, dark and earthy. Also laden with tobaccos, dried mushroom powder and bitter chocolate. With water: savoury, umami, chocolatey, bitter coffee, macadamia nuts and a rather saline crispness. Finish: long, meaty, gamey, leathery, chocolatey, bitter, salty and umami. Comments: Hard not to be impressed. What’s surprising is that there are more than a few Bunna calling card flavours and aromas which have run the sherry gauntlet and come up loud and clear on the other side. Recommended if you can find such things. I’m sure they pop up at auctions courtesy of those ‘flippers’ we all love to hate.
SPG: 662 - 88 points.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 1974/1989 (57.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #10.7)

Bunnahabhain 1974/1989 (57.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #10.7)
Why not a wee blast from the past while we’re at Bunnahabhain…? Colour: light amber. Nose: what I love about Bunnahabhain is that, when it’s on form, it manages to be wonderfully distinctive and very ‘Islay’ without the crutch of peat. This is a delicate balancing act between dried seaweeds, ripe exotic and green fruits, salted mead, heather honey and then some lovely fragrant notes like sandalwood, cured meats, smoked teas and herbal bitters. Elegance, precision and complexity. With water: becomes sweeter and more herbal, close to yellow Chartreuse with a persistent, underlying saltiness. Some orange cordial, cooking oils and salted peanuts. Mouth: extremely umami, that is to say wonderfully resinous and saline. Lots of soy sauce, cured game meats, dried seaweed, ramen broth, miso, medical embrocations, natural tar and then some sweetness from boiled lime sweets, children’s cough medicines and cherry throat sweets. There’s also a sense of crystallised fruits chopped into muesli. With water: again it’s meats, followed by umami and then dried and crystallised fruits. Extremely ‘full’ and rather oily and fatty in texture. Finish: long and still wonderfully savoury, fatty, oily, salty, lightly nutty and getting rather peppery and medical. Comments: Old style Islay on one hand, but also a rather singular and totally different aspect on ‘Islay’ that is pretty specific to Bunnahabhain I’d say. Anyway, this is rather complex and slightly ‘intellectual’ stuff, but I think it’s also extremely good. There’s also more than a few strands of DNA between this one and the OB, which I find very cool.
SGP: 662 - 90 points.

 

 

Port Charlotte 15 yo 2002/2017 (59.4%, OB private cask bottling, cask #0002, refill bourbon + fresh Haut-Brion hogshead, 267 bottles)

Port Charlotte 15 yo 2002/2017 (59.4%, OB private cask bottling, cask #0002, refill bourbon + fresh Haut-Brion hogshead, 267 bottles)
Colour: rose gold. Nose: this farminess that I find quite particular to the 2001, 2002 and 2003 Port Charlottes is present here, but there’s also a worrying vinous oddity about it too. Salted liquorice, seawater, sour cherry lambic, goat cheese and white balsamic. Extremely tart with a rather volatile acidity. With water: leafier, much smokier and gutsier. More mechanical, sooty, peppery and briny. Also touches of silage, which feeds back into this farmyard funk vibe. (Can we start one of those whisky industry bands and call it Farmyard Funk yet please?) Mouth: again farmy to start then the wine just becomes too pushy, cloying and a bit unbalanced. Quite sweet, sooty, lots of pure peat smoke, sweetened tar liqueur, iodine, smoked fish, cola syrup and cherryade. I find it pretty tough really I’m afraid. With water: again the peat and the wine cask make for disquieted bedfellows. Cherry soap, natural tar, green peppercorns in brine, freeze dried strawberries. Generally a bit strange and tough. Finish: long, smoked soap, tar, pepper, seawater, oysters, grapefruit juice and miso. Comments: I know that some will probably love this, but it’s not for me I’m afraid. I find that the wood and the spirit just jar too sharply. I love peat and a I love wine, but I don’t think they like each other and they tend to spoil parties when they’re both in attendance.
SGP: 667 - 77 points.

 

 

Port Charlotte 17 yo 2002/2020 (49.7%, Thompson Brothers, 217 bottles)

Port Charlotte 17 yo 2002/2020 (49.7%, Thompson Brothers, 217 bottles)
Colour: unsurprisingly softer and with a rather silky smokiness. Although, it’s still typically quite farmy, sooty and displaying notes of crispy bacon, tar, black olive, smoked dried herbs, salt baked white fish and kippers. Hits that sweet spot of smoky, farmy and coastal! There’s also a rather pure and lean medical streak running underneath. Mouth: smoked sea salt, brine, petrol, hessian, squid ink and lapsang souchong tea. Sardines in olive oil, rock pool water, dried seaweed and even some strangely floral notes like pot pourri and gorse flower. In fact what’s appealing is that over time more and more of these lighter notes emerge. Wee notes of sandalwood, gooseberry, green apple and dandelion. Quite unusual and probably something to do with being bottled at a reduced ABV. Finish: long, elegantly coastal, citrusy, smoky cereals, pink sea salt and a lightly herbal peat smoke. Still residually farmy as well. Comments: I do think Port Charlotte from the early 2000s is some of the best and most interesting distillate from the new ownership years of Bruichladdich. Very fun to see it coming into full maturity now. This one was superb and rather captivating.
SGP: 576 - 90 points.

 

 

Thanks KC!

 

 

 

 

March 19, 2020


Whiskyfun

MESSAGE from the Editor to our Edinburgh branch
We have no proof that old Springbank works against the coronavirus. I repeat, we have no proof that old Springbank works against the coronavirus. Having said that, neither are we sure that bagpipes do actually scare the virus.

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Springbank Mega-sesh
A veritable peatstack of Springbank has arisen here at Whiskyfun Edinburgh HQ. Due in no small part to the recent tasting I co-hosted at the Old & Rare show the other week. Let’s roll up our sleeves and plunge into what should be a rather pleasurable big session. We’ll attempt to go roughly backwards in time adhering to the (in most cases theoretical) distillation date.

 

I would also like to add, this tasting was not all done in one fail swoop!

 

 

Springbank 14 yo 2004 (57.7%, OB ‘Cage’, fresh sherry hogshead, 1 bottle)

Springbank 14 yo 2004 (57.7%, OB ‘Cage’, fresh sherry hogshead, 1 bottle)
I know, I know. Writing notes for these ‘cage’ bottlings is pretty pointless. But they’re often good benchmarks for contemporary Springbank. Colour: amber. Nose: a little closed at first. Lots of damp leaves, bracken, soot and earth. Leaning towards things like dark chocolate and some rather animalistic touches. The ‘Springbankiness’ is a tad shy and buried. With water: some nice notes of bitter orange, salty liquorice, Maggi and a rather punchy herbal quality. Mouth: again rather leafy, bitter and peppery. Lots of cocoa powder, soot, cured meats and some rather salty and savoury meat stock notes. One of these rather typically beefy sherry casks that Springbank seem to have no shortage of. With water: again rather drying, salty, straight and earthy. Some notes of brown bread and sooty cereals emerging now as well. That meaty tone has calmed a little. Some preserved lemons show up as well. Finish: medium and nicely saline and fresh. Comments: I can see why it was a cage bottling and not a single cask. Still good though. Ideal for passing the night in a C-town air bnb.
SGP: 473 - 85 points.

 

 

Springbank 19 yo (50.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company for Han-She, sherry, bottled 2019)

Springbank 19 yo (50.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company for Han-She, sherry, bottled 2019)
Han-She is a private whisky club and bar owned by a very nice but offensively youthful chap from Beijing named Bihan Yang. Colour: coppery amber. Nose: it’s a rather sooty and earthy one again, however here you have these lovely additional aromas of cedar wood, unlit cigars, menthol cigarettes and bitter marmalade. Continues with various medical linens and bandages with a good slathering of BBQ sauce. With water: once again the development is in the direction of freshly baked brown breads, dark grains, Scotch broth, light notes of iodine and salty seaweed flakes in ramen. Mouth: again this very meaty and earthy style of sherry. Lots of soot, camphor, smoky bacon, mole sauce, herbal bitters and things like rope and hessian. This impression of coal dust once again. With water: big, bitter, herbal, slightly smoky and full of things like ink, carbon paper, meats, earth, bitter coffee and sack cloth. Also getting peppery and full of smoky chilli notes. Quite impressive. Finish: long, meaty, herbal, bitter and sooty with a medial and deeply earthy aftertaste. Comments: It’s an impressive whisky no doubt. However, I can’t help but feel that these sherry casks are of a somewhat divisive character. Those with an aversion or sensitivity to the more grubby, rough and ready style of sherry will probably find this tough going. There are parts which merit 90 but technically I don’t think it’s quite there overall. Still excellent, boisterous and fun whisky though.
SGP: 473 - 88 points.

 

 

Springbank 22 yo 1995/2018 (44.3%, Svenska Eldvatten, cask #498, refill sherry hogshead, 137 bottles)

Springbank 22 yo 1995/2018 (44.3%, Svenska Eldvatten, cask #498, refill sherry hogshead, 137 bottles)
This new in from those Swedish dudes over at Eldvatten. Colour: deep gold. Nose: very rustic and charming. Lots of roasted nuts, coffee cake, dry earth, walnuts, peanuts, metal polish and some more vegetal hints of grilled asparagus and meaty notes of salty Iberico ham. Mouth: it’s a clean sherry cask. Just extremely nutty and with this rather lean, cured meat vibe. Lots of dry roast peanuts, anthracite, dried herbs, charcoal, sooty qualities and some cocoa powder. Perhaps on the more quirky side of 90s Springbank. Mutton, bouillon stock, boot polish, leather, hessian and oily rags. It lacks a little oomph, but it compensates with a lot of charisma and mechanical schmooze (what?!) Finish: medium, lightly tarry, rather herbal, still pretty sooty and with some final savoury meaty and peppery qualities. Comments: It’s hard to know what to make of these batches sometimes, they can wrong foot you quite easily. Here the sherry is clean but just a tad unusual, although the charm wins out in the end. One to sip from a hip flask after a long day operating a lathe perhaps…?
SGP: 463 - 88 points.

 

 

Springbank 26 yo 1992/2019 (47.7%, The Whisky Kingdom & Duckhammers, cask #153b, bourbon barrel, 111 bottles)

Springbank 26 yo 1992/2019 (47.7%, The Whisky Kingdom & Duckhammers, cask #153b, bourbon barrel, 111 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: oooh. Beautiful and very classical aroma of waxes, pollens, sandalwood, hessian and lamp oil. Also this underlying wispy peat quality all tied up with medicines, chalk and beach pebbles. This lovely triumvirate of coastal, peaty and waxy that the best modern Springbanks possess. Also various dried and crystallised fruits as well. Given time it kind of breaks down further into citronella candles, crushed seashells, ink and some rather scattered minerals. Gorgeous nose! Mouth: totally superb arrival all on bath salts, beach foam, chalk, canvass, waxes, honey, salty mead, putty, dried mint and herbal cough medicines. Mid-era Springbank that displays some unusually floral and fruity touches. Finish: good length. All on hessian, dried seaweed, honey, candied exotic fruits, waxes, sheep wool and hints of wintergreen and old Chartreuse. Comments: I just love this style. The purity, richness and idiosyncrasy of the flavours is terrific. Although, from some angles its typically early 1990s Springbank, while in others it appears a tad more divergent.
SGP: 562 - 91 points.

 

 

Springbank 12 yo ‘100 Proof’ (57%, OB, b1996 for UK, rotation ’96/340’)

Springbank 12 yo ‘100 Proof’ (57%, OB, b1996 for UK, rotation ’96/340’)
One of a legendary series of bottlings produced in the mid-1990s for the UK and the USA. Stories abound about these being ‘topped up’ with older stocks, or reduced to bottling strength with older under proof casks. What’s certain is that these batches do contain whisky older than 12 and that they carry a hefty reputation for a reason. Colour: gold. Nose: there is certainly something ‘old Springbank’ about this. The richness and fruitiness of the sherry is immediately striking. Lots of toasted walnuts, dried flowers, Dundee cake, hessian, figs, old Cognac, lightly tarry notes and then more mineral notes of oily rag, wet rock, linens, clay and putty. Things like ink, dried tarragon, game meats and aged pu ehr tea. It’s just another level of depth, taut potency and complexity altogether. With water: gets lighter, leafier, more black tea, tobaccos, menthol, balsamic, walnut oil and pine resin. Mouth: stunningly gamey, meaty, earthy and fruity. Lots of dark stewed fruits, sultanas, raisins, figs and various fruit preserves and jams. Meat broths, waxes, bouillon, umami and black olive paste. There’s also the warmth of English mustard powder and black pepper - punchy and extremely assertive. You could almost add some very grassy virgin olive oil too. With water: pow! Goes pretty ballistic on the complexity side. Immense, controlled and yet diverse with all these different strands of meaty, fruity, waxy, mineral, nutty and even rather coastal now too. Dash it all! Call the anti-maltoporn brigade! Finish: super long, nervously sherried, crystallised fruits, resinous, a kind of fluttering salinity, earthy, peppery, spicy paprika, embrocations and dried mint. Comments: In parts a beast and in parts a gentleman. What’s for sure though is that this is dazzling and compelling whisky that holds your attention on a knife-edge. I think the 50% versions are a notch more stellar, but we are flying undeniably above cloud level here.
SGP: 664 - 94 points.

 

 

Springbank 34 yo 1975/2010 (40.5%, OB ‘private cask’, cask #99/165-1)

Springbank 34 yo 1975/2010 (40.5%, OB ‘private cask’, cask #99/165-1)
How many of these private cask label bottlings have there been now? Not sure anyone truly knows, quality can be all over the place in my experience. Colour: orangey gold. Nose: oily rags, highly polished minerals, soot, wee rocks, fabric, pure mineral oil, hessian. It’s not unlike some mid-1990s Springbank but rather lighter and more polished by age. I also get rather a lot of things like tangerine liqueurs, herbal cough medicines, wintergreen, menthol and wee touches of fennel and caraway. Lovely nose, if a tad fragile. Mouth: orange vitamin tablets in soda water and rather a lot of herbs and sooty earthy notes. More minerals, struck flints and salty savoury broths. Again fragile but nicely complex and elegant. Springbank, but on the subtle side. Gets a tad teaish and weak towards the end, a little cardboard. Probably bottled about 4 years too late. Finish: a bit short, on cough medicines, wool, herbs and some breads. Comments: Some parts were extremely attractive but overall it’s over the hill I would say. Still, you get a clear picture of how it would have been a few years earlier which is nice, depending on how masochistic you’re feeling.
SGP: 551 - 85 points.

 

 

Springbank 30 yo 1972/2002 (57.8%, Chieftain’s Choice, cask #410, sherry, 576 bottles)

Springbank 30 yo 1972/2002 (57.8%, Chieftain’s Choice, cask #410, sherry, 576 bottles)
Many great Springbanks from this Chieftain’s series… Colour: orange amber. Nose: tinned fruits in syrup such as apricots, peaches, pineapple and plums. Then lychee, orange liqueur, kumquat and evolving some notes of putty, cocktail bitters, herbal extracts, mint tea and lemon cordial. Explosive but also rather precise and brilliant. Wonderfully nervous, punchy fruitiness. With water: uber fresh! Very coastal, zingy, sharp, citrus and saline with an assortment of dried exotic fruits. Mouth: crystallised fruits, mint leaf, mulchy and earthy tones, raisins and some slightly beefy, meaty notes. Lots of saline liquid seasonings and stocky broth notes. Miso, soy sauce, white pepper, some light medical notes and cough syrup. With water: pow! superbly fruity with a concentrated saline precision. Powerful, umami, earthy, lightly tannic, salty and quivering with tart acidity and fruity freshness. Finish: long, wonderfully herbal, oily, waxy, tart, lemony acidic and fizzing with coastal salinity. Comments: A big salty slap in the face! Totally commands attention with the way it veers between fruits, medicine and seashore. Wonderful and rather specific in style to the early 1970s vintages I would say.
SGP: 753 - 92 points.

 

 

Springbank 12 yo (80 proof, OB, ceramic jug, UK, bottled late 1970s)

Springbank 12 yo (80 proof, OB, ceramic jug, UK, bottled late 1970s)
Colour: straw (I’ve seen darker vattings of this at the same ABV and from roughly the same era so there must be a few variants out there) Nose: what’s funny is how close we are to the 1992. We’re still in this maelstrom of clays, waxes, putty, chalk, beach pebbles, ink and soft peat. Only here there’s a more focused and concentrated layer of exotic fruits draped over everything. Things like melon, papaya, mango and kumquat. Mouth: starts surprisingly soft but then builds beautifully. Syrupy, slightly greasy, oily and fat in texture. Salty, waxy, some citrus peels, chalk and again this rather punchy medical quality. Brilliant distillate! Finish: long, peppery, lemony, medical, chalky, waxy and nicely mineral. Comments: These ceramics can be a bit hit or miss due to storage and the mysteries of OBE, but when they’re good they’re seriously great.
SGP: 653 - 92 points.

 

 

Springbank 12 yo (80 proof, OB, UK, bottled late 1970s)

Springbank 12 yo (80 proof, OB, UK, bottled late 1970s)
This one will be interesting as it should be very similar liquid bottled very close in time to the ceramic. Colour: pale straw. Nose: drier, fatter, greasier and more towards grassy olive oil, punchy minerals, camphor, sheep wool and a more assertive coastal quality. Lots of petrol, limestone, lemon peel and a drier, more brittle waxiness. This kind of peppery hessian quality. You really feel like this is edging backwards into a different era of production now. Things like ink, carbon paper, soot and seawater. Mouth: totally superb power and control. Wonderfully oily, saline, fat and peppery. Lighter fluid mixed with seawater, black olives and preserved lemons. Again this rather petrolic and mineral quality with hessian and some soft but precise peatiness. Brilliant whisky. Finish: long, salty, lemony and full of canvass, sandalwood ashes, newspaper ink, dried herbs and bandages. Comments: Another world of flavour from a lost era of production in Scotch malt whisky. Even for Springbank this feels like something out of a time warp. But it remains totally stunning and with a gripping freshness, even after these years in bottle.
SGP: 463 - 93 points.

 

 

Springbank 39 yo 1969/2008 (57.8%, Chieftain’s, cask #794, butt, 150 bottles)

Springbank 39 yo 1969/2008 (57.8%, Chieftain’s, cask #794, butt, 150 bottles)
57.8% at nearly 40 years old? Cannot be a bad omen… Colour: pale gold. Nose: what the hell is this? Smoked banana liqueur mixed with old medicines. It’s not the most complex nose but by Jove it’s stunning! The kind of focused, syrupy and juicy concentration that is to die for. Smoked grapefruit, lemon peel, olive oil, tar, passion fruit, gauze, elastoplasts, embrocations and crushed seashells drizzled with mineral oil. Over time the complexity increases and just becomes rather bamboozling. With water: amazing how it changes direction almost instantly. Gets straighter, more classically dry, mineral, chiselled and taut. Nervous coastal bite, citrus, petrol, waxes and a wealth of tropical fruits. Spellbinding stuff! Mouth: totally amazing arrival! Hot herbal liqueurs mixed with salty old mead, pine resin, some kind of peated olive oil, natural tar liqueur, cough medicine and ancient green Chartreuse! Still this kind of mad banana syrup note running throughout. The anti-maltoporn brigade had better be on speed dial! With water: gah! Utterly stunning with water. Herbal, medical, peaty, salty, resinous, divinely fruity, concentrated and hugely complex. Finish: very long. Stupendously salty, punchy, savoury and tingling with dried exotic fruits, herbal teas, smoked shellfish, tar, medicines and white pepper. Comments: This one began with brilliant but deceptive simplicity and just kind of lumbered forward in a series of surprise explosions of personality and wrong-footing vortexes of complexity. Equal parts jester and genius.
SGP: 663 - 94 points.

 

 

Springbank 21yo 1967/1989 (46%, Signatory Vintage, cask #3139, sherry, 600 bottles)

Springbank 21yo 1967/1989 (46%, Signatory Vintage, cask #3139, sherry, 600 bottles)
This one was also bottled in the Dun Eideann livery as well. Colour: deep amber. Nose: just stupendous. This kind of super resinous, deep, earthy, concentrated and profoundly complex old school sherry that sits in perfect harmony with the Springbank 60s character. The kind of nose you could sit all afternoon picking out wee aromas from. I’ll simply say: maraschino cherry, black coffee, herbal bitters, natural tar extract, mint julep and toasted fennel seeds. Sublime concentration, depth and balance. Mouth: what’s so striking initially is that it feels bigger and more powerful than 46%. You get this immediate impression of depth, concentration, power and breadth of flavour very similar to that of the nose. There’s a consistency of brilliance from nose to palate that is an indicator of greatness in whisky I think. Chocolate, coffee, tar, dried miner, petrichor and this sublimely herbal, dry turfy old school peat. Also black olives, bitter lemon and caraway. Again, you could go on and on… finish: long, mushroomy, earthy, sooty, peppery, meaty and spicy. Sinew in a velvet glove. Comments: We’re teetering on the edge of 94 here. Everyone should endeavour to try this kind of quality of sherry cask at least once. Even just a sip. It alters your perspective on contemporary sherried whiskies forever.
SGP: 672 - 93 points.

 

 

Springbank 1965/1987 (58.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.6, sherry)

Springbank 1965/1987 (58.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.6, sherry)
Better just put on my heavy duty tasting trousers… Colour: rosy amber. Nose: there are some of these 1960s mega-Springbanks that are immediate and easy; there’s also these ones. This is rather taut and un-yielding at first nosing. The aromas come very slowly and teasingly: bitter chocolate, prune eau de vie, hessian, cloves, anthracite. Needs time and patience. Things start to unfold after a couple of minutes though. Dried mushrooms, black olives, natural tar, black cherries… things are very quickly getting out of control. Hessian, some kind of chocolatey peat and all manner of herbal bitters, coffee… probably best just call the anti-maltoporn brigade. With water: difficult not to make embarrassing noises now. Rich, decadent and evolving in a profoundly tertiary, umami and complex way. Mouth: as my good friend and Old & Rare collaborator Mr McMillan is fond of saying “shit the bed!” Smoked dark chocolate sauce - if such a thing exists. Almost like liquid leather in texture. Autumnal, meaty, earthy, dense, sinewed and riddled with savoury, salty, medical and earthy complexities. With water: holy moly! Everything as it was but just up several levels in terms of breadth, complexity and immensity. Best stop before we start getting silly. Finish: just endless. Cast your toothbrush into the sea! You won’t be needing it anymore… Comments: I had it at 94 but water just propels it to another level entirely. You need to be careful tasting these old SMWS Springbanks, they can send you to a place of gibbering ridiculousness.
SGP: 463 - 95 points.

 

 

Springbank 30 yo (43%, OB for Japan, 1980s)

Springbank 30 yo (43%, OB for Japan, 1980s)
Needless to say, a super rare old bottle. Colour: deep gold. Nose: really another world. A whole beehive full of honey, waxes, pollens, dried wildflowers, herbal teas and various precious hardwoods. Rather like if you were miniaturised and allowed to clamber around inside an old acoustic guitar - I think. There’s this kind of globulous, syrupy fruitiness; coal smoke; cedar and sandalwood; and eventually a little nervous coastal freshness. Pretty hypnotic and beautiful old school malt whisky. Mouth: tensely salty but with this rather huge and fatty waxiness. Almost waxy in texture with gooey honey, old hessian, beeswax, dried mint, eucalyptus balms and some ancient cough medicines. The savoury and saltiness are thrilling, while there’s also a myriad of dried exotic fruits at play as well. Like chewing on dried mango when along comes black olives and dried seaweed. Finish: beautifully long but never meandering. Stays focused and on point. Salinity, dried herbs, olive oil, camphor, fragrant peat smoke and more waxiness again. Comments: We’re flying about as high as we expected with this one. Not a surprise but a profoundly pleasurable dram. An old school Campbeltown hug in a glass!
SGP: 662 - 93 points.

 

 

Springbank 8 yo (43%, OB, Sutti import, circa 1970)

Springbank 8 yo (43%, OB, Sutti import, circa 1970)
Colour: white wine. Nose: It’s this style that recalls the late 70s UK 12yo from the glass bottle. All purity, minerals, waxes, putty, metal polish and chalky medicines. Lime, cough syrups, spearmint and sandalwood. There’s also these wee coastal and lemony qualities that nod into the future towards more contemporary Springbank styles. Considering this was probably distilled in the early 1960s I would say that’s a pretty impressive and resilient link of DNA. There a funny duality of fragility and fragrance alongside crispness and power about the nose. Compelling and very beautiful. Mouth: pow! Hugely impressive arrival. You would think it was above 46%. Mineralic, vegetal, copper, oily rags, tool boxes, hessian and various cooking oils. Notes of gorse, putty, anthracite and pine resin. Unusual and beautifully old school. Finish: surprisingly long, warming, peppery, slightly bitter and herbal with these notes of marjoram and thyme. Comments: Fresh sherry or tired refill; natural strength or 43%; old or young: these old Springbanks can just seem indomitable. But this is what happens when you focus on making incredible distillate - you strip away the necessity for active wood to cover a dearth of personality.
SGP: 462 - 92 points.

 

 

Dunaverty 12 yo Pure Malt (43%, Eaglesome Ltd, circa 1970) 

Dunaverty 12 yo Pure Malt (43%, Eaglesome Ltd, circa 1970) 
Eaglesome was the name of the shop in Campbeltown owned by Hedley Wright which would later become Cadenhead. This series also featured an 8yo and is well known to shelter Springbank. Colour: pale gold. Nose: metal polish, natural tar, soot, embrocations, crushed seashells, ink. As ever: it’s a nose that just screams ‘Springbank’. Like a lot of these really old bottlings where the distillate is starting to get back towards the late 1950s, the character is more about minerals, petrol, mechanical oils, drier and sharper coastal attributes and a wonderful core of purity. Mouth: like the 8yo, this is more about damp grains, soot, hessian, ink, dried herbs, earthy vegetal tones and medical embrocations. These chalky, flinty and beach pebble notes come through as well. Nothing tastes like this today. Finish: good length, rather a lot of oily sheep wool, camphor, medical embrocations, chalk, iodine and some grippy cereal notes. Comments: Perhaps not as stellar as some other older Springbanks, but we’re still flying high and this is wonderful wee historical benchmark of distillery character from this era.
SGP: 452 - 91 points. 

 

 

Big thanks to Stewart, Aaron, Harrison and Ilya.

 

 

 

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

 

March 18, 2020


Whiskyfun

A little sack of Glen Moray

Glen Moray used to have some fantastic old ones (1960s) but Glenmo kind of stopped the momentum, until the indies started to have some very good ones. Glen Moray is not the only distillery that owes a lot to the indies! Let’s try a handful of examples…

Glen Moray 23 yo 1996/2019 (49.7%, Asta Morris, cask #AM138, 189 bottles)

Glen Moray 23 yo 1996/2019 (49.7%, Asta Morris, cask #AM138, 189 bottles) Four stars and a half
Always loved the little frog on Asta Morris’ bubbly labels. No, no only as a Frenchman… Colour: white wine. Nose: was this made by the Coca-Cola Company? I’m finding quite some Sprite and Fanta (or similar stuff), then barley syrup, then moist sponge cake and gingerbread, with wee whiffs of old books and magazines in the background. It’s really geared towards beer after two minutes or two; no wonder, the bottler here is from Belgium. Mouth: very good. Cherries, Kriek, malty beer, cakes, caramel, good gravy, pumpernickel, tiny herbs and teas, touches of molasses, marzipan and gingerbread, some lighter fruitcake, banana cake… Fantastic development. Finish: long, perfectly caramelly (in a good way), on stout and some sweet sauces. Blueberry jam, gingerbread, spicy oak… (some smart flash finishing?) Comments: absolutely terrific, this little session starts well. Believe me, twenty years ago, no one (except for the manager) would have imagined ‘new’ Glen Moray could become this good. Well done Mr. Asta and Mrs. Morris!
SGP:561 - 89 points.

We may have started too high, never a good idea. But there…

Glen Moray 11 yo 2007/225 (50.1%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail, 225 bottles)

Glen Moray 11 yo 2007/225 (50.1%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail, 225 bottles) Four stars and a half
Apparently, this was ‘hand selected’. Which means that no stoopid AI has been used, and no cat either. Colour: straw. Nose: immaculate barley-driven malt whisky. Vanilla custard, barley indeed, croissants, sponge cake, brioche, biscuits, shortbread (running out of ideas now…) With water: same, no changes whatsoever. Mouth (neat): super good, on a pristine barleyness with drops of limoncello and Mandarine Impériale. Which, I believe, is/was a Belgian liqueur. With water: it totally loves water. Not only does it become a little rootier and earthier, as always, it’s also displaying ideas of Asian spiced dishes, curries, masalas, satays… Believe me you can’t do better than this. Finish: medium, clean, oily, brioche-y, barley-y? Gingerbread in the aftertaste. Comments: the owners of Glen Moray (La Martiniquaise, am I not right?) should come and thank the indies for the way they keep lifting the name’s formerly rather wishy-washy reputation. On their knees. Same elsewhere, by the way.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

While we’re at Elixir’s… Let’s go to the Owners’…

Glen Moray 2008/2019 (52.8%, OB for The Whisky Exchange’s 20th Anniversary, first fill American oak, cask #613, 186 bottles)

Glen Moray 2008/2019 (52.8%, OB for The Whisky Exchange’s 20th Anniversary, first fill American oak, cask #613, 186 bottles) Four stars
Is this mountain oak? They were having some good mountain oak at Glen Moray, but I think that was before 2008. Colour: straw. Nose: a tighter, less aromatic nose. Some barley for sure, sunflower oil, apple liqueur (Spanish manzana), some various citrus… With water: Jesus, we recreated the 2007! Just the same whisky, only a tad ore on lemon, perhaps… Mouth (neat): no, this is very good, and pretty close to the ‘Trail’, just a tad more aggressive, but that’s the highest strength. Lemon squash. With water: you need to be careful, it does not react evenly to dilution. 50% is fine, below that it starts to fall apart. Well, not quite but I’ sure you get the idea. Finish: long, oily, with wee touches of glue and gingerbread. Nothing too serious, it’s all very fine. Comments: IB vs. OB 1:0, but that was very, very tight!
SGP:551 - 87 points.

A last one…

Glen Moray 11 yo 2007/2019 (53.3%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon barrel)

Glen Moray 11 yo 2007/2019 (53.3%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon barrel) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar yet again. Pristine fresh barleyness, cake, sunflower oil, maize, lemon, vanilla, this time perhaps fresh asparagus (hurray), broken branches, grass… Hey hey, we may have a strong contender! With water: yes indeed. Thyme, coriander, lemon, green apples, and a curious coastalness. Ex-Ardbeg, by any chance? Mouth (neat): a hint of varnish this time again, then a lot of eucalyptus and camphor, which would just come unexpected in this context. Indeed, a finishing in ex-Islay or something? But otherwise all is perfect, perfect body, profile, freshness, maltiness, citrus… With water: no quibbles. Finish: medium, a tad spicier and more herbal. Caraway and cloves. Comments: the other ones were models and were having a perfect figure, while this one’s more, well, say creative. Very good in any case.
SGP:462 - 85 points.

Woo-hoo, Glen Moray!

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

 

March 17, 2020


Whiskyfun

A few Craigellachies (yes we're open)

There’s more Craigellachie at the indies these days, which is cool. Too bad my dear compatriots just couldn’t say the name, it’s even worse than with Bruichladdich! Let’s see what we have…

Craigellachie 12 yo 2006/2019 (54.3%, Whic, Nymphs of Whisky, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #8101202, 239 bottles)

Craigellachie 12 yo 2006/2019 (54.3%, Whic, Nymphs of Whisky, 1st fill bourbon barrel, cask #8101202, 239 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: exactly apples, gooseberries and green pears plus drops of lemon juice, over some oatcakes, brioche, and just anything barley and soft vanilla. Very natural, very well balanced, very ‘malt whisky’. With water: more of all that, plus touches of unlit cigarettes and almond milk (bordering soap, but much nicer than soap in your whisky). Mouth (neat): pretty perfect, relatively fat and oily, and all on barley syrup, apple juice, stewed pears, limoncello, stewed rhubarb and vanilla. With water: gets a little greener, with apples defeating the pears and notes of green plums and green oak (bits). Finish: medium, clean and bright, on greengage jam and green tea. Comments: perfect for its age and pedigree. Great puppy!
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Craigellachie 17 yo 2002/2019 (56.2%, Malts of Scotland for deinwhisky, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS19035, 281 bottles)

Craigellachie 17 yo 2002/2019 (56.2%, Malts of Scotland for deinwhisky, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS19035, 281 bottles) Three stars
This one’s pretty dark… Colour: deep amber. Nose: wasn’t it PX? Bags of raisins plus a few struck matches, then dried beef (Grisons meat, bresaola) and fig jam. Some gunpowder and ink remaining in the background, while the raisins keep singing rather loudly. With water: more oloroso-y this time, so I’m not too sure anymore. Pipe tobacco and pepper. Mouth (neat): a bowl of Weetabix and two Mars bars at first, then quite some leather, ginger, pepper and bitter oranges. A mustardy touch too. With water: leather, fig and ginger jams, and chocolate. The feeling of gunpowder is still there. Finish: long and spicy. Spicy Stolle, spicy fruitcake…  Comments: the sherry was rather on the front all along, making this baby a little heavy, but it’s still way above any kinds of averages.
SGP:462 - 82 points.

More sherry, perhaps…

Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2017 (57.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #DL 11446, 408 bottles)

Craigellachie 21 yo 1995/2017 (57.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask #DL 11446, 408 bottles) Four stars and a half
Some sister casks by DL had been very much to my liking two or three years ago. Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s much brighter, fresher, fruitier and more vibrant than the 2002. A wonderful fresh fruitiness, with ripe peaches marinated in IPA (or something like that). Have to try that one day! With water: perfect walnut and hazelnut cake, toasted pastries, tobacco, a pack of artisan fudge, millionaire shortbread… Mouth (neat): extremely good, easily beating the neighbours (the ones that have just built a new mausoleum of whisky to puzzle and tease the next generations of archaeologists who will wonder what it was). Wonderful butterscotch, peach jam, marmalade and old Sauternes. Tarte tatin. With water: extremely good, just don’t drawn it, it does not swim too well. Lovely oranges. Finish: medium, with just the right amount of green bitterness as well as more chocolate and dried pears. Comments: I believe the whole parcel was pretty perfect.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Craigellachie 11 yo 2007/2019 (65.2%, The Taste of Whisky, refill bourbon, cask #70900706, 201 bottles)

Craigellachie 11 yo 2007/2019 (65.2%, The Taste of Whisky, refill bourbon, cask #70900706, 201 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one comes within a ‘Daily Collection’. Well, any entity that would guzzle stuff at 65% vol. on a daily basis is called a Ford Mustang if you ask me. Colour: gold. Nose: seems to be perfect, with hot cakes and cooking fruits in a large casserole. Not dissimilar to the Whic at this point, but of course it needs water. Well, the taster needs water. With water: wonderful maltiness, cakes, jams, mirabelles, earl grey tea, dates… Mouth (neat): very oily and seemingly extremely good. Butterscotch, IPA, stewed fruits, jams… And really a lot of ethanol, so… With water: fantastic young malt monster (new appellation!) full of pastries, breads, cakes, caramel and jams. A treat. Finish: rather long, on just the same flavours. Comments: a perfect young malt whisky. Anyone should cellar these young malt monsters and open them by 2050. It’s good to have goals in life!
SGP:551 - 88 points.

A last one, let’s make it an old one that may not need any water…

Craigellachie 1970/2016 (54.2%, Gordon & McPhail, Exclusive, for La Maison du Whisky, 1st fill remade hogshead, cask #1607, 93 bottles)

Craigellachie 1970/2016 (54.2%, Gordon & McPhail, Exclusive, for La Maison du Whisky, 1st fill remade hogshead, cask #1607, 93 bottles) Five stars
Mind you, 46 years old and a very small outturn! Colour: amber. Nose: amazing, incredibly fresh and complex. It’s one of these very old brown sprits that have kind of converged, that is to say which now display tiny notes of old rum, of old cognac, and even of ueberanejo tequila beyond the very perfect maltiness. It’s really stunning, with touches of sugarcane, fudge, agave syrup, stewed peaches, black currants, fresh putty and oil paint, roasted pecans, cigars, balsa wood, and really myriads of tiny aromatics. A piece of art. With water: putty, magazines, old books, beeswax, old furniture, antique shop… Mouth (neat): it’s very smart not to have reduced it, because indeed you feel saps and resins trying to make their way. But other than that, the freshness remains impressive, with some mint, eucalyptus, thin mints, stewed oranges, prickly pears, nutmeg and cinnamon, plums and cherries, strong herbal teas… Let’s only hope one or two drops of water won’t kill it by bringing out a lot of cardboard and tea powder. With water: no water please. No water on the palate, that’s strengst verboten. Finish (undiluted): rather long and rather on all things oranges, which just always works. Comments: this old one was very gracious.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

No, no officials. Cheers and stay safe.

(Merci François!)

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

 

March 16, 2020


Whiskyfun

Little duos, two very good indie Cragganmore

It’s always good to try a little Cragganmore every once in a while, is it not?

Cragganmore 22 yo 1993/2015 (54%, Duncan Taylor, for China, sherry, cask #428466, 51 bottles)

Cragganmore 22 yo 1993/2015 (54%, Duncan Taylor, for China, sherry, cask #428466, 51 bottles) Four stars
This little baby was supposed to make you ‘Feel Just Like a Fish in Water’. We can’t wait… Colour: office coffee. Nose: it’s almost totally sherry-driven, with big notes of both amontillado and PX, raisins, chocolate, touches of Bovril, then some fresh oak, as if this was an octave, or some STR cask. Or both. With water: I would have said Glendronach. By the way, we’ll soon have to do a huge Glendronach session, they’re currently piling up. Mouth (neat): really rich, oily, and literally full of sherry. Corinth currants, amontillado, walnuts, loads of chocolate, a hint of salt (bouillon)… It’s really thick, and yet I’m finding it pretty good. It’s true that I’m just back from Jerez. With water: the oak’s coming a bit to the front. Black chocolate, coffee beans, forgotten toasts (forgotten in the toaster!)… Finish: long, a tad drying, and very much on cocoa and coffee. A pinch of salt in the aftertaste. Comments: I like this fairly modern dry sherry monster quite a lot, but do not expect to be able to recognise Cragganmore.
SGP:351 - 87 points.

Let’s find one that’s not sherried for a change…

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2018 (49%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 177 bottles)

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2018 (49%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon hogshead, 177 bottles) Four stars and a half
I think these batches were good. Colour: dark gold. Nose: very malty and caky, full of butterscotch, shortbread and Weetabix, going towards café latte, with a touch of menthol. No one can be against this. Mouth: someone’s distilled Jaffa cakes! Some awesome marmalade, milk chocolate, and sponge cake, plus cornflakes, popcorn and then a wee sourness. Let’s say cider. Very good. Finish: long, a tad greener (green tea tannins). Rather grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: a lovely fresh maltiness and a good firmness. Having said that, I guess you have to be the distillery’s master distiller to be able to recognise the make.
SGP:451 - 88 points.

(Thank you Lau!)

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

 

March 15, 2020


Whiskyfun

Our traditional bag of rums

Would you mind if we started this with some huge-volume, probably junkish rum from the darkest dungeons of rum, a.k.a. the Dominican Republic? (you may listen to some old tunes by Las Chicas del Can to ease your pain…)

Brugal ‘Anejo’ (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2019)

Brugal ‘Anejo’ (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, Spanish market, +/-2019)
This is meant to be ‘superior’, you understand… Colour: gold. Nose: hey, this is not un-nice! Some caramel, some toffee, some café latte, some vanilla, and certainly a ‘Starbucks’ quality. Which, granted, is not very high, but (even) worse stuff does exist here and there. Christ, Jesus, Buddha, did I just write some positive things about a Brugal? Mouth: coffee liqueur, sugar syrup, vanillin, and unrecorded sweet/sour juices. Pretty bad. No, very bad, watery, frustrating, and almost undrinkable. Finish: very short – which, in this context, is good. Molasses. Comments: some very poor spirit, very weak, empty, sugary, just not totally repulsive. You almost got a gold star just because of that, Brugal! Nah, it’s impaired spirit.
SGP:310 - 25 points.

Barcelo ‘Anejo’ (37.5%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2019)

Barcelo ‘Anejo’ (37.5%, OB, Dominican Republic, Spanish market, +/-2019)
This one too is ‘superior’, mind you. Superior with rum is equivalent to ‘old’ with Scotch, so just fake. Colour: gold. Nose: looks like it would go a little deeper than the terrible Brugal, so basically, a little less sugary, and a tad more herbal. Other than that, it’s very weak rum. Mouth: no, it’s the same empty and sugary junk, without any single pleasant trait, with only nightmares and nasty flavours. In truth the poor Brugal was a little better. Finish: none. Vase water, perhaps? Comments: extremely bad, nasty, repulsive, and just un-sippable unless you add a lot of ice. Like, a whole iceberg. Shameful rum, I’m sure it wouldn’t be any more expensive to make it a little better.
SGP:210 - 15 points.

What’s cool after those putrid swills is that you can only go up…

Zuidam ‘Flying Dutchman’ (40%, OB, Netherlands, +/-2018)

Zuidam ‘Flying Dutchman’ (40%, OB, Netherlands, +/-2018) Two stars
Some white rum from the Flatlands, that’s interesting, knowing that Holland is actually the N°1 country for rum, historically. Just ask E&A Scheer in A’dam. Colour: white. Nose: instantly kills the very poor Brugal and the even poorer Barcelo, but it’s not big, it’s just well balanced and fair. Nice notes of sugarcane and grass. Mouth: it’s fine, it’s got touches of genever and fresh bread, juniper, cardboard… Well I’m running out of descriptors. Finish: medium but a little cardboardy. Pomelos? Some pleasant olive-y touches, but that’s too late and too low. Comments: it’s fair, but I would humbly say that it’s been too purified, and bottled at a strength that’s too low. So unless you’re a Dutch nationalist, you would find more potent stuff elsewhere. Rather check Zuidam’s whiskies (Millstone), many just rock!
SGP:230 - 72 points.

WeiRon ‘Black’ (50%, Svenska Eldvatten, +/-2019)

WeiRon ‘Black’ (50%, Svenska Eldvatten, +/-2019) Four stars and a half
I don’t know much about this one, what I know is that the pedigree is appealing. And that Sweden’s better known for its surströmming. And Abba. Yeah, clichés do bring salt to our lives, don’t they. Colour: straw. Nose: coffee and black olives. This could come from the magical triangle, Jamaica, Trinidad, Guyana. With water: olives, lemons, eucalyptus. Mouth (neat): perfect, I’m afraid. Vicks, camphor, tar, liquorice. With water: wonderful. Lapsang souchong, lemon, tar, liquorice, brine, olives. Finish: long, same-ish. Perhaps a notch tarrier? Comments: this is liquid liquorice. My father, who was an automotive engineer,  used to have a Swedish friend who was a driver, his name was Jo Bonnier. I’m sure he could have used this rum to lubricate his Ferraris! Cheers Jo Bonnier!
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Hampden 9 yo 2010/2019 ‘LROK’ (63.2%, Velier, Jamaica, bourbon, 250 bottles)

Hampden 9 yo 2010/2019 ‘LROK’ (63.2%, Velier, Jamaica, bourbon, 250 bottles) Five stars
I’d bet this will be different from the poor Barcelo and Brugal. Colour: dark gold. Nose: that’s olives all over the place. On the one hand, one could claim that buying olives would be cheaper. On the other hand, we could retort that olives wouldn’t keep as well. Sauna oils. Wait wait wait, this is too strong, it hits you mercilessly, come on go f***k yourself, Velier, please stick your bottles up your ***** or pour them over pizza and leave us alone! With water: olives, anchovies, coal, gherkins,. Hate it that I love this. Mouth (neat): amazing, pungent, tarry, olive-y, medicinal, camphory, and extremely powerful. That’s right, it is almost lethal. I am almost dead now (hope you’ll suffer a lot for no less that twenty generations, Velier!) With water: even bloody water doesn’t work. Let me call my lawyer if you please… Finish: salt, lemon, olives, shoe polish. Sure you could eat shoe polish, it’s all a matter of motivation. Comments: what the hell was this extreme supernatural booze? Some assassination attempt? By the way, to add insult to injury, reducing this lethal liquid requires a lot of care and patience. Drop by drop…
SGP:374 - 90 points.

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



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