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Tasting notes:
Whisky 9,931
Others 582

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (30) - Aberlour (79)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (
22)
An Cnoc (
18)
Ardbeg (
320) - Ardmore (57)
Arran (
62) - Auchentoshan (67)
Auchroisk (
26) - Aultmore (29)
Balblair (61) - Balmenach (31)
Balvenie (
69) - Banff (43)
Ben Nevis (
85)
Ben Wyvis (
2)
Benriach (
126) - Benrinnes (38)
Benromach (
37) - Bladnoch (54)
Blair Athol (40) - Bowmore (
346)
Braes of Glenlivet (
28)
Brora (
114)
Bruichladdich (203)
Bunnahabhain (
217)
Caol Ila (389)
Caperdonich (
73)
Cardhu (
31) - Clynelish (264)
Coleburn (
15)
Convalmore (1
8)
Cragganmore (
55)
Craigduff (3) - Craigellachie (
36)
Dailuaine (44) - Dallas Dhu (32)
Dalmore (82) - Dalwhinnie (19)
Deanston (19) - Dufftown (41)

Edradour (37)
Imperial (56) - Inchgower (33)
Inverleven (18)
Isle of Jura (79)

Kilchoman (19) - Kinclaith (7)
Kininvie
(2)
- Knockando (2
4)
Ladyburn (9) - Lagavulin (91)
Laphroaig (300) - Ledaig (65)
Linkwood (98) - Littlemill (77)
Loch Lomond (26)
Lochside (62)
Longmorn (172) - Longrow (52)

Macallan (223) - Macduff (51)
Mannochmore (2
5)
Millburn (1
7)
Miltonduff (
49) - Mortlach (111)
Mosstowie (1
7)
Scapa (34) - Speyburn (22) - Speyside (15)
Springbank (
215)
St-Magdalene (
43)
Strathisla (
80) - Strathmill (22)

Talisker (103) - Tamdhu (45)
Tamnavulin (
14)
Teaninich (
40)
Tobermory (
28) - Tomatin (95)
Tomintoul (
55) - Tormore (33)
Tullibardine (
35)
 
 
Pete and Jack


2014
August 1
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
 

Othe whisky stuff
 

Brora

The Magical History
of the Great
Brora Distillery
1969 - 1983

   


 

Ye Auld Pages
that used to be here

   

 

 



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.

I always try to write about artists who, I believe, deserve wider recognition, and all links to mp3 files are here to show you evidence of that. Please encourage the artists you like, by buying either their CDs or their downloadable 'legal' tracks.

I always add links to the artists' websites - if any - which should help you know more about their works. I also try to add a new link to any hosting website or weblog which helped me discover new music - check the column on the right.

I almost never upload any mp3 file on my own server, except when dealing with artists I personally know, and who gave me due authorizations, or sometimes when I feel a 'national' artist deserves wider recognition. In that case, the files will remain on-line only for a few days.

I do not encourage heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages, nor dangerous motorbike riding. But life is short anyway...

As they say here: 'L'abus d'alcool est dangeureux pour la santé - à consommer avec modération'

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin,
Nick Morgan,
Kate Kavanagh

2002-2014


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August 22, 2014


Whiskyfun

A few Glendronach
including the new Tawny

Let’s have a few more of the very successful Glendronachs. We’ve been chatting with a friend the other day, and the fellow was wondering why the brand was so successful, precisely, beyond the style and the quality of their whiskies. One reason we have been considering was that Glendronach and its sister distilleries were looking and sounding probably rather less ‘arrogant’ than other names in Scotland. Whatever that means…

Glendronach 18 yo 'Tawny Port Finish' (46%, OB, 2014)

Glendronach 18 yo 'Tawny Port Finish' (46%, OB, 2014) Two stars and a half Obligatory disclaimer: I’m not a big fan of Port in my whisky and I don’t really like my drams to be… pink. Colour: not pink, rather apricoty/salmony. What we call ‘onion skin’ in wine. Nose: the vinosity is huge. This is like nosing rosé de Provence, almost, which goes well with the colour. Raspberries all over the place, whiffs of peonies, a little bubblegum… A very funny, very fresh and fruity nose, but we’re quite far from malt whisky. Agreed, not obligatorily a problem… Now the malt comes out after five minutes, while the fruits are fading away. Mouth: same feeling, starts very sweet, with a grassy maltiness covered with raspberry jelly and blood orange juice, cranberries, pomegranates… and becomes maltier after a few minutes, with some green spices, some ginger, a touch of horseradish… All that gives it a kind of sourness. Finish: of medium length, rather green, rather mustardy. Chlorophyll. Comments: indeed I’m not a huge fan of this rather chancy dram (in my opinion) but I guess the market needs variety. But it’s not a bad whisky at all, of course not. SGP:661 - 79 points.

And now a different beast…

Glendronach 40 yo 1971/2011 (47.5%, OB, PX Sherry puncheon, cask # 1248, 545 bottles)

Glendronach 40 yo 1971/2011 (47.5%, OB, PX Sherry puncheon, cask # 1248, 545 bottles) Five stars We’ve already tried a handful of sister casks, all ex-PX puncheons. I tend to prefer oloroso, but they were all to my linking. Colour: dark amber. Nose: starts appropriately varnishy and even solventy, but that should go away. And does go away. And then, we experience an avalanche of red berries, rich black pipe tobacco, prunes, strawberry jam, chocolate, juicy raisins and, indeed, old Pedro Ximenez. Touches of cloves and aniseed in the background. Mouth: extremely rich, prune-y and chocolaty. Plum jam, soft liquorice rolls, a spoonful of raspberry liqueur, blackcurrants, marmalade, a touch of some kind of sweet curry sauce, black raisins, coffee-schnapps… All rich and good, even if it tends to become a tad grapey. Finish: quite long, still very rich, but not exactly cloying. Liqueur-filled chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: no wonder this baby did so well at the Malt Maniacs Awards in 2011. A 1972 oloroso smashed it (no wonder), but it still won very solid gold. SGP:651 - 91 points.

Now let’s try some un-sherried Glendronach…

Glendronach 22 yo 1977/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 252 bottles)Three stars From Douglas Laing’s first years as bottlers of single malt. Colour: white wine. Nose: very interesting! This natural Glendronach is a rather oily and pretty mineral spirit, displaying notes of candle wax, sunflower oil, then rather sweet barley, cereals and hay. I quite enjoy this very, arr, err, natural style that’s rather less ‘emphatically fruity’ than other malts. Touches of earth and almonds coming out after a few minutes, all for the (even) better. Mouth: maybe more MOTR. A very faint smokiness plus some wax again, the whole being slightly graphite-y and even inky. Apples and almonds again. Oily mouth feel. Finish: quite long, very barleyish. Comments: goody good. Not stellar but goody good in my opinion. It’s just not very memorable. SGP:452 - 82 points.

… And probably a sister cask…

Glendronach 1977/2001 (53.2%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #3718) I remember very vividly the superb 1970 that the SSMC had around the same years (WF 92). Colour: straw. Nose: same whisky as the DL, almost exactly, aroma for aroma. Same waxy, slightly austere nose. Same with water. Mouth: and same palate. Even the extra-3.2% don’t make for any differences. They just impart a little more sweetness, which goes away when water’s added. Maybe touches of pineapples? Finish: same. Maybe this one’s a notch zestier, more lemony. Comments: same comments. Okay, one more point because of the drops of lemon that I found after I had added water. SGP:452 - 83 points.

Glendronach 1977/2001 (53.2%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #3718) Three stars and a half I remember very vividly the superb 1970 that the SSMC had around the same years (WF 92). Colour: straw. Nose: same whisky as the DL, almost exactly, aroma for aroma. Same waxy, slightly austere nose. Same with water. Mouth: and same palate. Even the extra-3.2% don’t make for any differences. They just impart a little more sweetness, which goes away when water’s added. Maybe touches of pineapples? Finish: same. Maybe this one’s a notch zestier, more lemony. Comments: same comments. Okay, one more point because of the drops of lemon that I found after I had added water. SGP:452 - 83 points.

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

 

 

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August 21, 2014


Whiskyfun

Three fresh newish Balvenie

There’s a new 15 years old, but this time it’s ex-sherry. Let’s try it, together with too worthy compadres (not tasters, whiskies.)

Balvenie 12 yo 'DoubleWood' (40%, OB, +/-2013)

Balvenie 12 yo 'DoubleWood' (40%, OB, +/-2013) Three stars I like to follow the DW year after year, because I’ve always found it ‘average’, in the good sense of the word. Typically a bottle you can present any friend with, especially non-whisky drinkers. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it seems that there are even more fresh oranges than before, or is it me? This freshness is impressive, and so are the notes of honey, café latte and toasted gingerbread. I find it cleaner than earlier batches. All for the better… Mouth: a little more oomph would have been welcome, as although the arrival is big enough, it tends to fall asleep after a few seconds. Having said that, the profile is very pleasant, fruity, with only touches of burnt sugar and straight caramel. Quite some malt too (Ovaltine), a few raisins and a little chocolate. Finish: rather short but again, it’s pleasantly fresh and fruity. Caramel in the aftertaste. Comments: a very consistent dram. Haven’t they made it a little fruitier? SGP:541 - 80 points.

Balvenie 15 yo 'Single Barrel Sherry Cask' (47.8%, OB, cask # 16293, 2014)

Balvenie 15 yo 'Single Barrel Sherry Cask' (47.8%, OB, cask # 16293, 2014) Three stars and a half This new one was fully matured in sherry casks, contrarily to the older SBs that, if I remember well, used to be aged in bourbon. Colour: deep gold. Nose: we’re actually rather close to the 12, with similar oranges and honey, and certainly not a big sherriness like in, well, sherry bombs. So probably not first fill. This one’s actually a notch grassier and spicier after one minute or two, but it remains very fruity globally, and that would be fresh fruits rather than dried ones. So a light sherry on the nose. Mouth: an unusual arrival, with touches of dried porcinis and leather as well as notes of rhum agricole and even old wood. More and more triple sec after that, caramel liqueur, roasted almonds and raisin cake. Slightly burnt kugelhopf, would say the Alsatians. Rather creamy mouth feel, the strength is perfect. Finish: quite long, with this feeling of rum and raisins again. A little vanilla, chocolate and ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: not a tiring kind of sherry at all, they managed to keep the distillery’s ‘rather light’ style. I say very good stuff. SGP:551 - 84 points.

Images of Dufftown 1988/2013 'Balvenie Castle' (53,2%, Malts of Scotland, 266 bottles)

Images of Dufftown 1988/2013 'Balvenie Castle' (53,2%, Malts of Scotland, 266 bottles) Four stars This could well be Burnside, aka teaspooned Balvenie. Malts of Scotland have been issuing massive quantities of whiskies in recent months, almost all either very good, or very intriguing. Or both. Colour: white wine. Nose: probably refill bourbon! This time it’s a feisty, fresh and light Balvenie, actually not very far from the lightly sherried ones, which isn’t abnormal, is it? Say rather garden fruits than oranges, but a few oranges are there as well. Otherwise it’s all rather plums and apples, with a light honey as well as hints of sweet beer. IPA? With water: more IPA! I cannot not think of my beloved Lagunitas, if any friend knows where I could buy some in Europe, that would be mucho cool. Mouth (neat): very typical! Big plums and quinces with touches of honey and pollen, plus quite some vanilla and one marshmallow. We’re very close to the… older official 15yo SBs! With water: indeed. Just the green spiciness is a bit different. I like this. Finish: good length. Green tea, ripe apples and cinnamon. Comments: now it reminds me of an old Balvenie ‘As We Get It’. Pretty excellent, just the aftertaste was a little less to my liking. SGP:551 - 86 points.

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

 

 

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August 20, 2014


Whiskyfun

Three Sherried Highland Park

Well, more sherried than others, at least. Let’s try to compose a worthy little trio today…

Highland Park 'Dark Origins' (46.8%, OB, 2014)

Highland Park 'Dark Origins' (46.8%, OB, 2014) Four stars According to the distillers, this newish NAS version uses 'twice as many first fill sherry casks than in the classic Highland Park 12 year old'. So, which proportion of first fill sherry is there in the classic 12 yo? Colour: deep gold. Nose: I shouldn’t have read that, as I’m now finding a style that reminds me of the older silkscreened 12 yos. My mind playing tricks, probably. Heather honey and roasted chestnuts plus quite some polished wood, warm sawdust and raisins. Then touches of earth and a little camphor, always a jolly good sign. If you wait long enough, you’ll also find oranges and chocolate, rather ala Dalmore. Mouth: starts slightly smoky and liquoricy, before many dried fruits join in the dance. The oak feels a bit, and I wouldn’t say it’s a perfectly polished old HP, but the smoke and even the zesty minerality that sits in the background do make up for that side. I think it’s a success. Finish: long, and even smokier. One of the smokiest recent HPs if you ask me. That’s a surprise. Salted liquorice and smoked ham in the aftertaste. Comments: beats the NAS warriors if you ask me, and it seems that it’s rather fairly priced. Okay, it doesn’t beat the lovely ‘Ragnvald’. SGP:553 - 87 points.

Highland Park 15 yo 1998/2014 (53.5%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 14011, sherry hogshead, 166 bottles)

Highland Park 15 yo 1998/2014 (53.5%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 14011, sherry hogshead, 166 bottles) Four stars and a half Another pretty new one by the wizards aus Paderborn. Colour: deep amber. Nose: bang bang! It’s quite heavy, and quite chocolaty, its got classic heavy sherry, its got plenty of freshly sawn oak and other woods (pine?), it’s got touches of damp earth and mud, and it’s got this feeling of armagnac that works so well. Add a drop of tar liqueur and maybe one of liquid smoke. And one of mint liqueur (crème de menthe.) With water: tar liqueur everywhere! Pine tar… Mouth (neat): much less a classic now. An unusual combination of spicy oak with fresh fruits, instead of anything ‘fruitcake’. So there’s a bitterness (strong liquorice) and lots of oranges and peaches. Also a little artichoke liqueur (try that!) and myrtle. Gives this baby an acrid side, but no big deal. With water: its really fun. Not unlike a cocktail made out of many old herbal liqueurs. Excuse me? Yes, that would include chartreuse. Finish: long and herbal. Comments: not classic sherry. It’s very ‘different’. Vive la difference! SGP:362 - 88 points.

Highland Park 18 yo 1988 (60.2%, Bennachie Special Reserve, sherry, cask #11920, 492 bottles, +/-2006)

Highland Park 18 yo 1988 (60.2%, Bennachie Special Reserve, sherry, cask #11920, 492 bottles, +/-2006) Four stars and a half Bennachie’s a strange brand. I think I’ve tried their blends as well, but sadly, never the genuine old Bennachie. Colour: deep gold. Nose: great, that’s all I can say. Ultra-classic and mega-classy HP goodness, with extra-layers of meaty things and camphory stuff. This time we have a huge smoky Christmas cake, as well as many tiny herbal notes, parsley, chives, fennel, lovage and all that. Unbeatable style as far as rather heavy sherry’s concerned. With water: many mineral notes, new tyres, clay, ‘good’ sulphur… Mouth (neat): did I mention a Christmas cake? With water: big sherried HP, slightly rough and gritty, but that goes well with the distillate. Crystallised oranges, dried bananas, fruitcake, honey cake… and all that. Finish: long, with more spices. Cloves, as often in heavily sherried whiskies. And tobacco, and a little leather. Comments: little-known bottlers can have great whiskies, even when they use the names of long-gone distilleries. Ah well… SGP:551 - 89 points.

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

 

 

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August 19, 2014


Whiskyfun

Bits and Pieces, today Inverness

I’m not sure I ever did that, having a few malts from the long gone Inverness distilleries. Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor, Millburn. It’s true that I usually like focusing on one and only distillery. Not this time… And I’ll even choose them ‘randomly’ from WF’s malt library.

Glen Mhor 1966/2011 (52.1%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve, Van Wees, First fill sherry butt, cask #3690, 133 bottles)

Glen Mhor 1966/2011 (52.1%, Gordon & MacPhail Reserve, Van Wees, First fill sherry butt refill sherry hogshead, cask #3690, 133 bottles) Five stars It’s quite amazing that Van Wees could propose such an old Glen Mhor quite recently. 133 bottles from a butt, even after around 45 years, that’s not much, is it? But let’s see if it’s another weird (aka entertaining) old sherried Glen Mhor… Colour: gold, so very light for a 44yo ex-first fill butt. Nose: good, it’s not a weird one. No heavy gunpowder, no horse dung, no manure and no old vase water, quite the contrary! Starts fantastically medicinal, with some camphor, some old cough medicines… Then we have a perfect association between quince jelly and Camel cigarettes (untipped, circa 1975 – I’m joking), and only then, something a little metallic. A fistful of old copper coins, perhaps. Pennies. You may add a few menthol-scented sultanas. With water: perfect. More hay, menthol cigarettes, a little shoe polish and a little dried meat (there, the old style is coming out.) Mouth (neat): no weirdness either, even if it’s a tad drying right from the start. Pepper and cinnamon on apple pie, more quince jelly (no, even more than that), raisins, brioche, cane syrup, maybe even agave syrup… It’s all perfectly rounded and, dare I write this, smooth. With water: and it swims perfectly well! Superb notes of chamomile and lemongrass come out. Finish: long, never too dry and never too oaky. Miraculous. Fab mint in the aftertaste. Comments: I don’t think it was first fill. But who am I, it’s a great, great bottling. Loved the menthol. SGP:572 - 92 points.

Update: it was well a refill sherry hogshead. Silly WF! Thanks Jurgen.

This starts well! Now eenie, meenie, miney, moe…

Glen Albyn 30 yo 1977/2007 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead ref#3405, 179 bottles)

Glen Albyn 30 yo 1977/2007 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead ref#3405, 179 bottles) Two stars and a half Glen Albyn’s never been my favourite distillery, and now, it’s forgotten. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got this feeling of linseed oil that I often found in Glen Albyn (not that I’ve tasted hundreds.) And cardboard, ink, paraffin, saltpetre… And cut grass, concentrated lemon juice, fresh rhubarb… It’s actually less weird than it sounds, despite these whiffs of cow stable that are now rising up, but it’s very intellectual. In other words, no immediate pleasures. With water: forget. Damp cardboard and rain water (from last week). Duck pond. Mouth (neat): dry at first, then rounder, but there’s a lot of ginger and dried lemon – or zests. The grassiness never stops growing either, while I also find disturbing notes of cardboard and paraffin in the background. A bit challenging so far, but the un-commercial-ness of this juice is quite interesting. I could well understand how this baby would work as a constituent in a blend. With water: no, it really hates water. Some nice notes of almond come out, but other than that, it’s all cardboard. Finish: quite short, in fact. Grassy, dry, cardboardy. Comments: it had some intriguing sides, and even some very nice ones, but it’s too… un-commercial?  Hate to write that. SGP:262 - 77 points.

Next! Eenie, meenie, miney, moe… Maybe one more chance for Glen Albyn?

Glen Albyn 30 yo 1974/2004 (58.1%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, cask #1601, 258 bottles)

Glen Albyn 30 yo 1974/2004 (58.1%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, cask #1601, 258 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: pawah! It’s got the waxy style of the 1977, and even the sooty and grassy side, but there’s also more, around zests, crystallised fruits, banana skins, red Thai sauce, cedar wood… Very complex, despite the very heavy – and heady – strength. With water: great. Smoky candle wax, hay, soot, ashes... Smells just like and old dunnage warehouse when reduced – which is the opposite of a modern palletised one that usually reeks of American oak coconut. Mouth (neat): more power! Massive, sweetly bitter and always pretty waxy. Seville oranges, zests, marzipan, Campari, maraschino… All this is a notch aggressive, but the style is quite perfect. Water should further help us… With water: nope, water doesn’t work too well on your palate. Burnt herbs and cardboard – discard. Finish: long, grassy, rather bitter. Not the nicest part. Comments: a Janus malt, hard to score. Some parts were utterly brilliant, some other probably too… un-commercial? SGP:462 - 85 points.

Next please! Eenie, meenie, miney, moe…

Millburn 1974/2001 (57.7%, Cadenhead, Chairman’s Stock, bourbon hogshead, 276 bottles)

Millburn 1974/2001 (57.7%, Cadenhead, Chairman’s Stock, bourbon hogshead, 276 bottles) Five stars How many glories haven’t we already found within this…err, glorious series? Colour: gold. Nose: we’re well in Inverness. Glen Albyn, Glen Mhor and Millburn were different distilleries, of course, but I’ve always found that they used to share some similarities, for example this grassy, sooty, almost dirty nose that’s a bit love-it-or-hate-it. In this case its rather love it, because the waxy/grassy side comes with candied citrons and whiffs of old cigar box that I enjoy a lot. Wax polish, more cigars, encaustic… With water: yess, this time it swims! Old clothes, attic, more cigars, musty cellar, oranges… Mouth (neat): huge stuff! Starts very herbal (Chartreuse at cask strength) and becomes rather smoky, but it’s not peat smoke. Some tar, perhaps. Some almond oil as well, more citrons… I like this one a lot – unless water kills it, let’s see. With water: it doesn’t. Some sweet mustard, even more citrons, funny notes of tart herbs (sorrel? Rhubarb?) and some marzipan. Finish: long, rather sappy/resinous. Honeydew and oranges. Comments: Candenhead’s, do you still have some unbottled casks of Millburn? SGP:552 - 91 points.

All right, already two glories, let’s have a last one. And one that rocks!

Millburn 16 yo 1971/1987 (65.4%, Gordon & MacPhail for Sestante, sherry, 75cl)

Millburn 16 yo 1971/1987 (65.4%, Gordon & MacPhail for Sestante, sherry, 75cl) Three stars and a half 65.4% vol. Not for babies, this one. Wish me luck. Colour: gold. Nose: no, frankly, this is vastly exaggerated. Cut grass and alcohol. Extreme. No sherry at all, probably 12th fill. With water: burnt grass, then a curious combination of oranges and leatherette. Plus bits of coal and metal polish. I don’t seem to manage to tame this one. Mouth (neat): can you dilute soap in lemon juice? Hazardous stuff when undiluted. With water: really, it’s a fight! And we may have won it, since rather beautiful notes of candied oranges, quince jelly and bergamots are starting to dance on your tongue. It was about time! Finish: long, orangey and now mentholated. Camphory aftertaste. Comments: no tasting, a fight. Old Highlands untamability at its most extreme. SGP:362 - 83 points.

 

 

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August 18, 2014


Whiskyfun

Simply Springbank bearing white labels, from 1998 to 1958

Ha, another session that doesn’t make much sense, does it.  Let’s start with two private ones. In my experience, Springbank’s private bottlings could and can be rather extreme, that is to say very extractive, possibly because cask owners tend to favour first fill casks when buying new fillings. As they say, ‘it’s a thing’… So let’s have these two private ones today, and then we may drift away a little bit…

Springbank

Springbank 15 yo 1998/2014 (51.1%, OB, private bottling, fresh sherry, cask #440, 264 bottles) Four stars and a halfColour: gold. Nose: forget about what I have written, this isn’t particularly extractive, it’s even nicely spirit driven, with this typical mineral and oily/waxy Springbankness. There are these whiffs of rubber bands that imply ‘good sulphur’, a little iodine, soot, some engine oil, and then more apple peelings and fresh walnuts. A characterful nose, very Springbanky, and a sherriness that rather hints at fino or manzanilla (which it probably wasn’t.) With water: bicycle inner tube, great! Mouth (neat): impeccably sharp, heavily lemony and sooty, then very mineral and pretty mustardy. No compromise, and this ‘artisan’ profile that Springbank lovers, well, love. Great bitterness and acidy, like in a great bone dry Riesling (not the sweetish j**k one can find here and there.) With water: more marmalade and sweet mustard, with some ginger. Finish: long, with a salty tang. Lemony and peppery aftertaste. Comments: great combo, appropriately rough and wild, yet approachable. SGP:462 – 89 points.

Springbank 21 yo 1989/2012 ‘MW’ (49%, OB, private bottling, hogshead, cask #509, 242 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: a rounder version of the 1998, with more vanilla and marzipan. Then whiffs of varnish and even nail polish remover. A little more mustard too, green tea, those rubber bands again, the peelings, some linseed oil and, behind all that, touches of this very peculiar sucrosity that I think Springbank had in those years and then lost, maybe not for the worst. Between Ricola and strawberry sweets, perhaps. With water: all gone, it’s now a gentle fruity Springbank, rather on apples, peaches and watermelons. Mouth (neat): oily, rather sweeter again, fruity, with this varnishy side again, and sweets, green tea, vanilla and grass. A very grassy grass, said the other guy. With water: more oak, and a bourbon/rye side. Hey, was there some rye in Springbank’s mash bill at the time? Finish: quite long but a little too drying for my taste, the oak stands out. And it’s not a sweet one… Comments: high quality again, but it’s a tad too much on the oaky side for me, and the 1998 overshadowed it. I also think that vintage was better at Springbank, if I may. SGP:552 - 85 points.

So! And now, how about a short verticale? 1969-1965-1958, how does that sound? Hold on, maybe we’ll rather have the 1965 as the last one, because it’s stronger…

Springbank 1969/1983 (92 US proof, Duthie for Narsai's Restaurant & Corti Brothers, USA) Five stars There used to be quite a few 1969 Springbank by various bottlers, many just excellent but not all of them have been utterly great in my experience. As you very well know, 92 US proof means 46% vol. No, contemporary bottlers did not ‘invent’ the 46% vol. According to good old Wikipedia, Narsai's used to be a famous restaurant in Berkeley, where many rock and movie stars used to go dining. It doesn’t seem that having their own whiskies did them well, as the restaurant closed in 1986, but the owner, Narsai David, seems to remain a rather famous TV and radio 'chef'. Colour: gold. Nose: ah, metal polish and old coins! It’s really that style, it’s more or less like nosing a bag full of old bits of iron, copper and brass. And then, only in the background, we have various candied fruits, quite some hay, herbal teas (honeysuckle, thyme) and just a spoonful of cigar ashes. Maybe a drop of shampoo? It’s not a trumpeting Springbank at all, maybe thanks to a ‘light’ cask (most were very sherried at the time), but it’s extremely elegant and refined. Love the herbal teas and love the metallic side. Mouth: Jesus Mary and Joseph! I had thought it would be light and even slender, and we have a punchy, very fresh, peppery old Springbank. The bottle and its cap were great because you would think it was bottled just yesterday, as there isn’t the slightest trace of Old Bottle Effect. Should be perfect for detected style nuances wrt modern Springbank, but I’m afraid there aren’t many. Beeswax, paraffin, cooking oil, grass, herbal teas, chlorophyll, bitter oranges, a touch of rubber, grapefruits… Finish: rather long and quite salty, but the grassy bitterness came to the forefront. Not my favourite part. Comments: brilliant and moving –and quite ‘modern’, only the finish was a little less to my liking. SGP:462 - 90 points.

Springbank 1958/1983 (92 US proof, Duthie for Narsai's Restaurant & Corti Brothers, USA) Five stars Another one for Narsai and Corti Bros. You don’t find these vintages under the hoof of a horse, as we say in France – which you could translate as ‘they do not grow on trees’ – go figure... By the way, Corti Brothers still exist, it’s a rather famous Italian grocery store and restaurant in Sacramento, CA. Colour: gold. Nose: oh this is unusual. It’s got the trademark greasiness for sure, but it’s also got unexpected floral scents, maybe even wee whiffs of violets, or maybe even lavender. But nothing to do with the repulsive lavender that could be found elsewhere, this is all very elegant again. Other than that, it’s rather more phenolic than the 1969, but it’s all quite whispering and, yes, refined. A little smoked tea, some light pipe tobacco, a little shoe polish, hints of burnt cake, old chardonnay, a small stalk of celery (perhaps)… All that is hugely complex. Mouth: another world after the 1969, this has more stamina, more individuality, and some flavours are almost nowhere else to be found in my meagre experience. For example, these notes of elderberry syrup, or genepy liqueur, or light absinth… Maybe there’s more OBE here, but what a glory! And the metallic side is here as well, the shoe polish, the walnut oil, the liquorice wood… Please call them, I mean, the anti-maltoporn brigade! Thank you. Finish: quite long and beautifully sappy and mentholated, with more smoke and salt in the aftertaste. Almost an Islay in the aftertaste. Comments: what an incredible series, these Cortis! This 1958 was simply fabulous, and rather smokier than the 1969. SGP:463 - 95 points.

Springbank 1965 (54.5%, Cadenhead, white label, cask #2164, +/-1993) Five stars A superb pedigree, but will this strong sherried oldie stay the course after the stunning 1958? Let’s see… Colour: coffee. Nose: another school, another paradigm. Chocolaty sherry at both its heaviest and its brightest. I cannot not think of a very old Demerara rum, of a cup of ristretto, of a glass of tar liqueur and of a bowl of beef stock. Then chocolate, various herbs (parsley, chives), smoked meat and just whiffs of wood smoke, or is that charcoal? Add a spoonful of artisan strawberry jam. With water (bloody procedure): a magnificent development on aromatic herbs, it’s funny that we’re now finding in this nose what used to be in the 1958’s palate, that is to say wormwood, aniseed, sorrel, celery, absinth… There’s also a magnificent oak, I don’t know why I’m now thinking of the old Willets from the good old US of A. Mouth (neat): I’m tempted to just write ‘same’. Except that there’s even more chocolate than in the nose, more chocolate than in chocolate, in any case. Chocolate filled with orange marmalade and just bits of coffee. Water should further unlock it… With water: you bet it does! Could you please give another buzz to the anti-maltoporn brigade? We’re now finding in the ‘diluted’ palate what was in the ‘undiluted’ nose. Strange echoes, or the fourth dimension? So old Demerara rum, ristretto, tar liqueur, beef stock, more chocolate, various herbs, smoked meat and charcoal. Finish: long, a tad drier as (almost) usual, with some ‘black’ tannins akin to those of Russian tea. And bitter chocolate. Comments: by no means I could decide on which one I liked best, between the 1958 and this 1965. I could quaff three bottles of each and remain undecided. That’s right, and I would be flat dead. SGP:362 - 95 points.

(Heartfelt mercis to Diego, Jeroen, Max and Thomas)

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

 

 

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August 17, 2014


Whiskyfun

The Quest for Malternatives, another large bag of rum

We’ll try to sail the seven seas today. Well, at least two oceans…

Flamboyant Vieux Rum (40%, OB, rhum, Mauritius, +/-2013)

Flamboyant Vieux Rum (40%, OB, rhum, Mauritius, +/-2013) Two stars This young baby's made by Green Island Distillerie. It's a multi-vintage version. Colour: pale gold (refreshingly so.) Nose: a lighter style, rather on apple crumble, praline, corn syrup, vanilla and pear peelings. A Glenkinchie of rum, in a way. I really enjoy the fact that it seems to be all natural, and certainly not doped with… uncertain substances. Mouth: very light, but with a grassy ‘agricole’ profile. Tastes like a very young Martiniquean. Banana skin, almonds, honey biscuits, some liquorice and a few peppery spices. A little cumin, perhaps. Finish: a little short but clean, well on sugar cane, with a candied aftertaste. Comments: average, in a good way. SGP:531 - around 75 points.

While we’re in Mauritius…

Chamarel V.S.O.P. (44%, OB, rum, Mauritius, +/-2013)

Chamarel V.S.O.P. (44%, OB, rum, Mauritius, +/-2013) Three stars This is single domaine rhum, apparently around 4 years of age. Colour: pale gold. Nose: malt whisky! Seriously, there are notes of fresh malted barley in this baby, and even figs, dates, raisins, toasted oak, vanilla cake, honey, grass and herbs… This is pretty troubling, I’d even swear I’ve found traces of peat. The ‘rumness’ remains in the background, which is really funny. Mouth: amazing, really amazing, this tastes like a blend of malt whisky and rhum agricole. So malt, honey, candy sugar, chocolate, bread (really), roasted nuts, then even touches of brine and pickled gherkins (just a thin slice), liquorice… I’m really fond of this young baby. Good, solid body, perfect mouthfeel. Finish: rather long, saltier, with a little more oak but also a coastal side that’s… yes, troubling. Comments: fun stuff, try it. If I may… SGP:552 – around 82 points.

Ron del Barrilito 'Superior Especial' (43%, OB, rum, Puerto Rico, +/-2013)

Ron del Barrilito 'Superior Especial' (43%, OB, rum, Puerto Rico, +/-2013) Two stars It’s supposed to be a light and rather cheap rum, but you never know… Colour: gold. Nose: right. This is not unpleasant, but it’s rather cane syrup on the nose, while there are also touches of fruit syrups, such as grenadine and peaches. So it’s all very fruity, very light, quite fragrant and extremely easy. Touches of oak and molasses. Mouth: really sweet and fruity, all on bubblegum, liquorice allsorts, sultanas, honey and orange liqueur. Utterly harmless, but I can’t find any obvious flaws. Finish: fairly short, molassy, fruity, cooked, easy. Comments: rather very honest holiday rum. We’re out of danger with this one! SGP:730 - around 74 points.

Gosling's Black Seal (40%, OB, Bermuda, +/-2013)

Gosling's Black Seal (40%, OB, Bermuda, +/-2013) I’ve tried the Black Seal 151 Proof last year and just… hated it, I’m afraid. Colour: red mahogany. Nose: it’s a liqueur, it’s not rum. Very balsamic, with tons of herbs, megatons of eucalyptus, tankers of limoncello and quite some bubblegum. Then rather cinnamon cake, curaçao or other fancy orange liqueurs, and lastly, a lot of molasses. Spectacular and actually kind of pleasant, but it’s the palate that’ll tell us more… Mouth: not rum. I mean, not rum in my book. Rather sweetened aquavit, or a cocktail made out of chartreuse, honey, tar liqueur and crème de menthe. I’m not saying one shouldn’t like it, I’m just saying this isn’t ‘rum as we know it’. Finish: long, mentholated, empyreumatic. Comments: a liqueur that should work well on ice. Not sipping rum in my book – and yeah, not even rum. SGP:770 - around 65 points.

Good, let’s try to find some older rum…

Presidente Marti 23 'Solera Rum' (40%, Oliver & Oliver, Dominican Republic, +/-2013)

Presidente Marti 23 'Solera Rum' (40%, Oliver & Oliver, Dominican Republic, +/-2013) 23 years? Nope, just like with Zacapa, this is not 23 years old rum, it’s rum from a solera that was started 23 years ago. Supposedly. All very fishy if you ask me, this is probably youngish rum. I won’t tell you who José Marti was, just google him. Colour: red amber. Nose: well, I quite like this, it’s full of stewed fruits, blood oranges, cigars, cedar wood, then more molasses and cooked honey, PX, more blood oranges… So all very nice, I think, just a little flat. Flattish. Mouth: ouch, how much sugar did they add? It’s pure honey, or honey liqueur if you will. Cointreau with sugar added, plus banana liqueur. I don’t mean that it’s not well made, it certainly is, but it’s just the opposite of my preferred style of rum. Finish: of medium length. Sugar, honey, liqueur, orange syrup. Comments: hyper-sweet (and sweetened) rum for lovers of hyper-sweet rum. Mind you, nothing wrong with that! SGP:820 – around 65 points.

Now let’s try to find the competitor, that is to say Zacapa ‘23’. Rummage rummage rummage (diving to new lows, S.!) … Got it!

Zacapa 23 'Centenario' (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2013)

Zacapa 23 'Centenario' (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2013) Two stars Same story, contrarily to what 99% of the public thinks, and to what many websites including some retailers’ write, this is not 23 years old rum. Probably more like 6 to 8. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: same as the Marti, I cannot find any differences. Maybe a little more vanilla? Or a little more raisins? No wait, after a few minutes, this Zacapa becomes a notch more herbal, with wee hints of leaves, bark, fresh walnuts, almonds, fresh mint… All plusses I have to say. Mouth: same phenomenon, starts just the same, but becomes spicier than the Marti, with more star anise, caraway, liquorice… More pastis? Finish: rather long, very sweet of course, but the taste of aniseed remains. Comments: not my cup of tea, but it’s probably good stuff. Easily beats the Dominican, I think. SGP:740 - around 75 points.

But wait, there are other ’23 years old’ (not!) Zacapas ou there…

Zacapa 23 anos ‘Centenario Black Label’ (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2000)

Zacapa 23 anos ‘Centenario Black Label’ (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2000) one star and a half An older version that was to be rechristened ‘Etiqueta Negra’ a few years later, while ’23 anos’ became ‘solera 23’. I just couldn’t tell you about the differences with the ‘regular’ 23, let’s see if we can find something… Colour: dark red amber (darker than the previous one.) Nose: much more dryness, more oak, more herbs, more sugar cane and more spices. More chocolate as well, more coffee, much less liqueurs, honeys, syrups and other sweet things. No need to tell you that I like this one better at this point, even if it’s much less ‘wham-bam’. Mouth: no, I was wrong, this is even sweeter, heavier, extremely sugary, liqueury and molassy. Cointreau and honey, fifty-fifty. After that, a little crème de menthe, maybe Chartreuse, caraway aquavit… How sugary! Finish: quite long, on herbal liqueurs. All of them. Comments: I really liked the nose but I found the palate too cloyingly sweet. SGP:750 - around 69 points.

Phew, it’s all becoming very difficult, but I think I’ve got one more 23 ‘year old’ Zacapa…

Zacapa 23 anos ' Centenario Straight from the Cask' (45%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2005)

Zacapa 23 anos ' Centenario Straight from the Cask' (45%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2005) Two starsStraight from the cask may have meant, in this case, that this baby was bottled at a slightly higher strength. Colour: red amber. Nose: it’s amazing how 5 extra-% make the spirit much bigger, almost aggressive here. But after one or two minutes, some lovely fruity notes come through, especially ripe peaches, nectarines, apricots and all that. There’s also a kind of minerality, quite a miracle here. Limestone, then oranges, honey, yellow flowers, nectar… I like this nose! Also touches of wet earth. Let’s start to pray… Mouth: oh, no! Even more a shame that there’s so much sugar, because all the rest seems to be of high quality, including the many spices, the gingerbread, the fudge, the oranges… But again, these vast amounts of sugar and syrups are just fouling up your palate. Finish: really a shame. But then again, and again, and again, only one man’s taste and opinion. Comments: pretty great nose, enough said. SGP:860 - around 70 points.

We’ve got many more Zacapas but I think we’d better have ‘a sure bet’ as today’s last young rum. If you don’t mind!…

Foursquare 6 yo 2000/2006 (45%, Alambic Classique, Millenium Reserve, Barbados)

Foursquare 6 yo 2000/2006 (45%, Alambic Classique, Millenium Reserve, Barbados) Four stars Foursquare means St Nicholas Abbey, and St Nicholas Abbey almost means greatness in WF’s little book. Colour: pale gold. Nose: another world. You have to be careful after the ‘commercially explosive’ Zacapas, this is much subtler, much more on fine grasses, leaves, rocks, herbs, nuts and all that. Green tea, even rocket, even spinach, a discreet sootiness, gravel, then more and more grapefruits, lemongrass, green olives… This is a very elegant nose. Mouth: fantastic, as expected. Sunflower oil and crystallised citron, smoked fish Islay-style, apricots and olive brine… All that isn’t as big as in the heaviest Jamaicans, Guyanians or Trinidadians, but these styles are somewhat connected. Finish: good length, with brine and a touch of smoke (mezcal style.) Maybe a slight soapiness too, that would be this young baby’s only flaw. Comments: I like. Only the end of the finish and the aftertaste are a little too paraffiny for me. SGP:452 - around 85 points.

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

 

 

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August 15, 2014


Whiskyfun

Aberfeldy

Two Aberfeldy in the midst of summer

I have a kind of fondness for Aberfeldy, the well-known Midlander’s one of the summery malts and the distillery’s very tidy and pretty.

Aberfeldy 1994/2014 'Melon Vine' (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 242 bottles) Three starsFrom the brand new batch of bottlings by Wemyss. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s easy, fruity, malty and cerealy. I was about to write ‘as Nature intended’. Barley sugar and apple juice, maybe touches of not-too-ripe melons indeed, then light acacia honey. Easy and pleasant, kind of uncontroversial. Mouth: same feeling, there’s a pleasant mouth feel, good body, with some apples, ‘maybe’ melons, touches of oranges, some malt, cornflakes, and just touches of grass. Finish: good length, now with a little vanilla and tea. Comments: I’m not sure I’ll remember this good hyper-balanced and rather light malt forever, but it does the job. Sometimes rougher edges are more… memorable? SGP:441 - 80 points.

Aberfeldy 30 yo 1974/2004 (59.5%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #2186, 236 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: more grass, more oak, more ’bumps’ so to speak. You could say more character, but it’s otherwise rather blocked, should be the very high strength. I do get very nice whiffs of warm hay, though, which is pretty summery indeed. With water: and it loves water almost as much as black fungus likes it as a whole. A basket of summer fruits plus drops of sunflower oil and crushed chickpeas. Hummus? (not humus!) Mouth (neat): big, very cerealy, with also quinces and citrons. Cooked rhubarb, perhaps. Less closed than on the nose, but it’s still not very talkative. Notes of sweets and jellybeans coming out after two minutes. With water: excellent again, swims like a champ. Apples, cherries, plums, those melons, barley water, shortbread… All easy and good now. Finish: long, clean, fruity and fresh. Marshmallows. Comments: needs water, and then delivers. SGP:541 - 86 points.

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback in St Tropez
PJ
PJ

 

 

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Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Yttling Jazz. Track: Mr. Sophistication at the losers club (great fun!) Please buy Björn Yttling's music...
 
 

August 14, 2014


Whiskyfun

Glen Keith 1992 and 1993 as a bonus

Another bunch of independent 1992-1993 Glen Keith have hit the market in recent months. We won’t complain, they’re usually to my liking! We’ll sort them by ascending strength.

Glen Keith
Glen Keith 21 yo 1992/2014 (48.2%, The Whisky Fair, bourbon barrel, 201 bottles) Four starsColour: pale gold. Nose: classic fresh and ‘bourbon fruity’ nose, packed with bananas, mangos and vanilla, then rather juicy plums, liquorice allsorts and jelly babies. Very fruity, there’s something pleasantly Haribo-ish to these. Mouth: very much the same, with a fresh oaky backbone. So banana sweets, marshmallows, maybe pear drops, also more citrus this time, tangerines and oranges – or rather some sweets made thereof. The body’s firm but not aggressive at all. Finish: quite long, citrusy, with more green oak in the aftertaste. Comments: one of the fruitiest Speysiders. A sexy baby, very easy to drink and probably hard to beat in this category. SGP:651 - 87 points.
Glen Keith 21 yo 1992/2014 (49.3%, Jack Wiebers, The Distillery Sites, 194 bottles) Four stars A new series by this tireless German bottler. Colour: gold. Nose: styles are obviously very similar, but this one’s got a little more creaminess, the fruits are kind of riper, and I may also find more peaches and melons ala Bruichladdich. Mouth: same comments, I won’t bore you to death with further hair-splitting descriptions and theories. Finish: same comment. Comments: ditto. SGP:651 - 87 points.
Glen Keith 22 yo 1992/2014 (50.7%, Liquid Treasures, 117 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: this time it’s rather the bubblegum/marshmallow side that’s taking the lead, and this baby really smells like a new pack of those. Indeed, or jelly babies or beans. Have Haribo bought Glen Keith Distillery? Did you hear anything? All in all, this one’s closer to the Whisky Fair than to the JWWW. Mouth: we’re extremely close to the Whisky Fair. This one’s maybe a notch rougher but that may come from the (very) slightly higher strength. No, I doubt that. Finish: same, rather long, fresh, fruity, with a signature on green oak. Comments: ah well oh well. SGP:651 - 87 points.
Glen Keith 21 yo 1992/2014 (51.5%, Archives, barrel, cask #120599, 218 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: this time I seem to find a little more grain and beer, but only touches, while the structure remains very fruity and very fresh. Bananas, vanilla, plums, fruit salad… Very easy again, and it does not call for water at all, so let’s drop that, so to speak. For once! Mouth: I think I may have to start to tell you stories, because this palate is oh-so-close to the others. Oranges, vanilla, ripe pears, plums, peaches… And all that. Finish: same comments again. Comments: we’re maybe touching the limits of the concept of ‘single cask’. Not too sure single casks make much sense, when all casks are almost identical. Oh well indeed… SGP:651 - 87 points.
Glen Keith 21 yo 1992/2013 (52.1%, Silver Seal) Four stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: wait, it seems that this one’s a little thicker, creamier, more candied and rather deeper. Rather more tropical as well, with more tangerines and more mangos, and, above all, more juicy ripe mirabelle plums. I especially like these oily touches that come to front after a few minutes, almond oil… It’s even very faintly phenolic – or maybe I’m dreaming? Mouth: a real fruitbomb now. Plenty of plums on brioche, butterscotch, vanilla fudge and marmalade. Also pink grapefruits? It seems that the barrel was more active, and greatly so. Finish: long, with a few acidulated notes that keep it playful and very fresh. Comments: just excellent, just excellent. Perfect fruity style. No water needed, I feel. SGP:641 - 88 points.
Glen Keith 1993/2013 (54.7%, Malts of Scotland for Der Feinschmecker, bourbon barrel) Four stars Not a 1992 this time, but I’m not sure that would make much difference. Der Feinschmecker is a famous German magazine about food and such. Colour: straw. Nose: and yet another very fine fruitbomb, maybe a tad zestier than the previous ones. Peaches and grapefruits plus honey and a little butter cream. Unquestionably lovely, but this time let’s also try it with a few drops of water. With water: more marshmallows! Mouth (neat): thick and creamy, starting with touches of mocha and toast from the oak, as well as a few spicy herbs that I hadn’t found in the others. Sage, perhaps? After that, the same fruity procession, with ripe pears, bananas, peaches… With water: it becomes both a little zestier and mildly spicier. Was one mustard grain added when filling the cask? Finish: of medium length, fresh, fruity, with more vanilla. Tinned peaches. Comments: I’m running out of comments. SGP:641 - 87 points.

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

 

 

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August 13, 2014


Whiskyfun

Bits and pieces, today blends

This and that, coming from here and there. Of course there are great blends out there, but there are also oceans of wishy-washy whiskies. Let’s try to avoid them today…

Syndicate 58/6 12 yo (40%, Syndicate, blend, +/-2012)

Syndicate 58/6 12 yo (40%, Syndicate, blend, +/-2013) Two stars This whisky made quite a few commentators either frown, or laugh, or both, because of the very unlikely stories that came and keep coming with it, which are not always the same depending on the sources. At random, all that involves various labels, Douglas Laing, a secret syndicate, a solera, 1954, Richard Paterson, a dozen fully exclusive retailers and distributors (uh?) and prices that range from €50 to €120 for the same bottle. I have to say I did not understand much of all that, so let's simply try it without any preconceptions. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a rather malty one, well in line with several big brand blends of moderate age. Touches of honey, cereals, orange cake, a few roasted nuts, a bit of caramel, some praline and a spoonful of Ovaltine. Nosing a Mars bar. Doesn’t do any harm – less harm than a Mars bar in any case. Mouth: it’s a good, nutty blend, with good body, some pleasant honey, baklavas, marmalade and just a small touch of smoke. Becomes pretty kumquaty over time. Also heather honey? Plum pie? Finish: not too long, malty, more chocolaty. Touches of coffee and candy sugar. Comments: it’s very all right, not much else to say. SGP:441 - 76 points.

Hankey Bannister 'Heritage Blend' (46%, OB, blend, +/-2013)

Hankey Bannister 'Heritage Blend' (46%, OB, blend, +/-2013) Three stars Hankey Bannister’s been a recent revelation to me. Well, especially the fabulous 40 yo! This one comes in what seems to be a kind of replica bottle, hence the name ‘Heritage’. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a slightly narrower but bigger, smokier and grassier nose after the Syndicate, with more minerals, oils and all that. So it may be a little less expressive, but it’s also more ‘Highlands’, whatever that means these days. Mouth: it’s really big, oily and fat, yet rather zesty, with an obvious peat smoke and something slightly steely. I also find touches of brine, and behind that, more ‘usual’ oranges, honey, plums and cakes. It’s really characterful. Finish: long, now even more citrusy, between pink grapefruits and lime, with the peat again in the aftertaste. Too bad there’s alos a little sawdust, a feeling of flour… Comments: a full bodied blend that would appeal to many malt snobs (because you see, if you prefer malt, you’re obligatorily a snob according to a few rather embarrassing articles in the general press.) SGP:552 - 80 points.

M.O.S 18 (45%, Malts of Scotland, blended malt, +/-2013)

M.O.S 18 (45%, Malts of Scotland, blended malt, +/-2013) Three stars This one’s 18 year old and all malt, no grains. Colour: gold. Nose: there’s a little peat inside, and while it’s never dominant, it does a large part of the singing, so to speak. Fir honeydew, a little eucalyptus, moss, some soot, wet gravel, touches of barbecued ham, smoked almonds, marzipan… And a distant garden bonfire (not in your own garden.) Mouth: rather starts with stewed fruits, sour apples, mulled white wine and touches of cardboard. Goes on with more spices, a little cocoa powder and ground coffee beans, and then a rather unusual spicy combo. Maybe a tenth of a gram of chilli plus caraway and cloves? Also touches of tropical fruits. Finish: medium length. The cardboard hasn’t left but it’s minimal, while there’s also a wee touch of soap. Coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m having a little trouble with some blended malts, when there’s more than, say three different malts. This one seems to have more indeed, and so can be a little dissonant at times, but other than that I find it all very fine. SGP:552 - 82 points.

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

Blended Malt 33 yo 1980/2014 (45,8%, The Whisky Agency, blended malt, refill butt, 636 bottles)

Blended Malt 33 yo 1980/2014 (45,8%, The Whisky Agency, blended malt, refill butt, 636 bottles) Four stars Good one, while the whole industry is withdrawing age statements from their malts, the Whisky Agency does blended malts… with both vintages and age statements.  Well, they did this one. Colour: gold. Nose: I may well be dreaming, but I seem to detect quite a lot of Bunnahabhain here. Superb notes of cake straight from the oven, nectar, honey, mocha, roasted pecans and then a little tobacco and earth. Smoky earth. Mouth: there’s a little old wood and sour fruits in the arrival, which come together with notes of hawthorn tea. Eglantine. Then rather overripe damsons and more sherry. It is a little grapy at times (white grapes). Finish: long, this time more on stewed peaches, with always a wee sourness. Malt and honey in the aftertaste plus touches of ink. Comments: I’m not too sure there is Bunnahahain inside anymore. Erm… Also, what’s a ‘refill butt’ regarding blends? All components aged in refill butts or a marriage/finishing in a refill butt? Not too sure all that matters much. SGP:541 - 86 points.

Black Bull 'Kyloe' (50%, Duncan Taylor, blend, 2013)

Black Bull 'Kyloe' (50%, Duncan Taylor, blend, 2013) Three stars A blend with grain this time. Kyloe seems to be a kind of cattle breed. And why not, we’ve seen sillier names/themes, haven’t we. Colour: pale gold. Nose: we’re back to the style of the first ones, that is to say a blend of nuts, honeys, cakes, malt and overripe fruits, mostly apples. Then a few spcies, around cloves and ginger. Certainly nice, but it’s lacking what, I think, most blends are lacking: individuality. But yeah, it’s pleasant… Mouth: I like this better, even if I wouldn’t say it’s got a lot of character. Granted, it’s got more of that than most big commercial blends, and everything’s perfectly balanced, and there’s even a peatiness that’s coming together with lemons, but it’s still a little… ‘indefinite’. A little indefinite but certainly good. Grows on you. Finish: quite short. A little dust, overripe apples, honey, oranges. Curious notes of sugar in the aftertaste. Comments: same quality as the Hankey Bannister in my book. One of the better ones for sure. SGP:552 - 80 points.

And a last one as the digestif, preferably an oldie…

MacPhail’s ‘Gold 106’ (60.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, pure malt, 75cl, +/-1985)

MacPhail’s ‘Gold 106’ (60.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, pure malt, 75cl, +/-1985) Four stars and a half The label states pure malt but I’m almost sure it’s an undisclosed single malt. They still make it, it seems, but the sources may have changed over the years. Colour: amber. Nose: I won’t play the guessing game but it’s certainly got something of a lightly sherried old-style Macallan – as well as something of a lightly sherried Glenfarclas. Superb notes of plum pie with a little mint and camphor. And honey, milk chocolate, cigarette tobacco and drops of stout. With water: light floral notes and hay come out. Lovely. Mouth (neat): superb again! Creamy honey and candied fruits, roasted and caramelised nuts, raisins, dried apricots… And it’s not even too strong at 60.5% vol. Sauternes? With water: oranges everywhere. Finish: long, very resiny and yet a notch phenolic, like a good old Sauternes that’s becoming dry. Comments: former bargain bottle. SGP:651 - 88 points.

 

 

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August 12, 2014


Whiskyfun

Contrasting Auchentoshan

Let’s have two newish Auchentoshans, after all this is summer, even if it’s raining cats and dogs over Alsace at time of writing.

Auchentoshan 1998/2013 ‘Lemon Zest’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, barrel, 342 bottles)

Auchentoshan 1998/2013 ‘Lemon Zest’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, barrel, 342 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: fruits, fruits and fruits. And I mean fruits. One of the fruitiest drams I could nose in recent months, and I’ve nosed quite a few fruitbombs. As they say, this is fruitier than GlenMacFruit, the winner of last year’s fruitbomb competition! But which fruits? Oranges, peaches, pineapples, pears… Just add one marshmallow and a tiny bit of bubblegum and you’ve got it. Mouth: very fruity again, simple, narrow, extremely easy. Frankly, it’s hard not to like this, even if you’re more into the deepest old Highlanders. It’s almost like wolfing down a large pack of marshmallows. Finish: same, plus just a tiny blade of grass. Comments: fruitful and youthful. In other words, one of the friendliest malt whiskies. SGP:651 - 83 points.

Auchenstoshan 17 yo 1995/2013 (53.5%, Single Cask Collection, sherry butt, 263 bottles)

Auchentoshan 17 yo 1995/2013 (53.5%, Single Cask Collection, sherry butt, 263 bottles) Four stars Let’s see what a sherry butt can do, even if it’s probably refill sherry. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it hasn’t got these fruitful, almost feisty notes, but it’s got a little varnish, touches of vinegar and certainly some limejuice. Mind you, it’s a combo that works, and that rather hints at white wine. Also touches of chestnut honey and chocolate. Mars bar and orange liqueur? With water: gets much rounder and you could well think it’s a Speysider when trying it blind. Overripe apples, cake, malt, honey cake, gingerbread… The sharpish zestiness is gone – no problems! Mouth (neat): very good! I mean, much to my liking! It’s a fatter, bigger Auchentoshan, full of marmalade, baklavas, with even traces of peat, some salt, gravel, a grassy side… Big stuff, far from the almost-ethereal 1998. With water: now touches of earth, liquorice wood, fennel… Finish: long and malty. Comments: I like it quite a lot, even if it’s not very… Lowlands? SGP:551 - 86 points.

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback in St Tropez
PJ
PJ

 

 

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August 11, 2014


Whiskyfun

A handful of independent Glenrothes

Time to have a few Glenrothes again. If I remember well, Glenrothes was the first distillery the Malt Maniacs as a group ever visited, quite some years ago. It was great. Let’s see what we have…

Glenrothes 1988/2013 'Aromatic Orange Tobacco' (46%, Wemyss Malts, butt, 730 bottles)

Glenrothes 1988/2013 'Aromatic Orange Tobacco' (46%, Wemyss Malts, butt, 730 bottles) Four stars Probably from a refill butt, according to the colour. Colour: gold. Nose: we’re not very far from official Glenrothes, with this blend of honey, orange blossom, roasted nuts and cake. I also find yellow flowers (you know, dandelions and all that) as well as a little porridge, cornflakes and ale, which makes it rather malty in fact. Mouth: very, very Glenrothes, really, this could have been an OB. Again, some Ovaltine, orange cake, notes of pink grapefruits, quite some honey, a little chocolate and then a few spices from the oak, including white pepper and probably cloves. No tobacco that I could find, but why worry? Finish: of medium length, with a blend of smooth orangey paste or cream with a little white pepper and drops of earl grey tea. Cloves and toasted bread in the aftertaste. Comments: good good good! But a little pricey, I’ve seen it at around €150. Hum… SGP:551 - 86 points.

Glenrothes 24 yo 1990/2014 (49.8%, Sansibar, sherry, 121 bottles)

Glenrothes 24 yo 1990/2014 (49.8%, Sansibar, sherry, 121 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: not the same vintage, but we’re oh-so close! Maybe this one’s a bit more on the grassy/barky side, but I’m splitting hairs. Same orangey, honeyed and cakey profile, much enjoyable. Mouth: oh yes, very similar whisky. Classic malty/honeyed profile, very ‘official’ if I may, only the extra-power makes it a notch rougher, perhaps. Finish: same, orange cake, white pepper and cloves plus a little gingerbread. Slightly grassier aftertaste. Comments: ueberclassic Glenrothes again. Must be the ueberclassic sherry ;-). SGP:551 - 86 points.

This one should be interesting, with similar data but it’s an ex-bourbon one...

Glenrothes 23 yo 1990/2014 (49.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon, cask #35484, 210 bottles)

Glenrothes 23 yo 1990/2014 (49.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon, cask #35484, 210 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: yes indeed, this is very interesting. The core’s the same, with oranges, honey and porridge, but both the roasted nuts and the cake are gone. On the other hand, we’ve got more fresh herbs, lime and, above all, more fresh fruits. Especially garden fruits, along apples, plums and peaches. Lovely freshness. Mouth: very fruity, with a slightly hottish side (strong eau-de-vie), some kirsch, unaged zwetschke spirit, then various plums, then a green spiciness. Green peppercorns, a little ginger, then more malty goodness… Finish: rather long, maybe a tad spirity again, with a grassier aftertaste. Comments: I think I enjoyed the sherried ones a notch better, but this one’s very fine. And good news, no vanilla! I’m joking… partly. SGP:551 - 85 points.

And now, a young little beast to round this off…

Glenrothes 1989/2001 (63.8%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, cask # 30898)

Glenrothes 1989/2001 (63.8%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, cask # 30898) Four stars You may want to fasten you seatbelts! Colour: straw. Nose: I don’t know if it’s the high strength, but I get plenty of oils, sunflowers, linseed… I also find some peat smoke, which comes unexpected. Ex-Islay cask? Also camphor, antiseptic, pine-scented detergent… No this is not some mislabelled Laphroaig. Fun stuff! With water: Glenrothes’ garden fruits come out, but I don’t find much oranges or honey this time. The peat got almost killed (at +/-45% vol.) Mouth (neat): the Islayness is back, with some salty things, some peat smokiness, smoked salmon, lemon… This is really funny! Now Glenrothes hasn’t got much to tell us in this context. Maybe a few apples? These touches of oranges? With water: between both worlds, and all that is nicely integrated and mingles together, somewhat ala HP. Really interesting. Finish: long, very zesty now. It kept changing. Comments: a great and very unusual little baby that’ll trick all your whisky friends. It certainly tricked me. SGP:553 - 86 points.

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

 

 

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August 10, 2014


Whiskyfun

The Quest for Malternatives,
today more rum

Yes we’re not done with our ron. Ha! Today we’ll fly to the Philippines, to Cuba and to Jamaica.

Don Papa (40%, OB, rum, Philippines, +/-2014)

Don Papa (40%, OB, rum, Philippines, +/-2014) Two stars This newish 7 years old rum seems to be extremely successful in France, you just see it everywhere. It’s to be said that the ‘retro-banknote’ label is very fashionable these days, we’re seeing this style on more and more bottles of spirit. Also the Che-Guevara-like story. Colour: dark gold. Nose: extremely fragrant, starting rather on citron liqueur (cedrat) and Grand Marnier (or Cointreau). I also find a lot of caramel, fudge and vanilla, and rather little sugar cane. So it’s all extremely sweet, rounded and easy. Mouth: more a liqueur than straight rum indeed, with a thickish, sugary arrival on tangerine liqueurs, or citron, or triple-sec. Also some maple syrup, perhaps, some honey, banana sweets… In short, it’s one of these very sweet rums, but it’s not exactly cloying, thanks to the citrus. Finish: a little short, sugary, citrusy. Notes of mead. Comments: probably not meant to be sipped like that, but I’m sure it would go pretty well on a few ice cubes. Needs cold. The good news is that it’s not very expensive, around €35. SGP:730 – around 72 points.

Brugal '1888' (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2013)

Brugal '1888' (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2013) Two stars Apparently, Brugal belongs to Edrington (Macallan…) This one is medium-aged, around 7 or 7 years on average, and finished in sherry. I had found the Brugal ‘Extra Viejo’ very sugary (WF 72). Colour: gold/orange. Nose: smooth and rounded but it’s not all sugar, syrups and liqueurs. Sure there’s quite some pineapple liqueur, a feeling of rhum arrangé and hints of tinned litchis, but I also find a small earthiness that’s really an asset here. Also a little cedar wood, maybe, a few pencil shavings, a fistful of golden raisins… Mouth: starts very sweet, on many honeys and liqueurs (hazelnut) and goes on with some oak, Demerara sugar, coffee, custard and chocolate. Very easy and smooth. Finish: of medium length, this time with touches of aniseed, mint and caraway. Comments: not my style but I do find this rum rather honest. SGP:751 - around 75 points.

Ron Cubay 10 yo 'Reserva Especial' (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2013)

Ron Cubay 10 yo 'Reserva Especial' (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2013) Two stars and a half Cuban domestic rum, now exported, by the makers of Havana Club. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s a much narrower and grassier, but also more elegant rum after the two sugarbombs we just had. There are whiffs of sugar cane (hurray!), hay, honeydew, then more and more ripe melons, Provence-style. Some wee feinty touches that make it more ‘artisan’, probably for the better. Maybe some parsley too. Mouth: it’s sweeter this time, and even frankly sugary, but curiously, I do not dislike that here. Also touches of oak, vanilla, maybe a little curry powder, honey, artisan orange liqueur… It’s all quite drinkable. The sugar’s well integrated. Finish: medium length. Sugar cane, brown sugar, vanilla, touches of grass, oranges. A little burnt sugar and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: I do like the artisan feeling. SGP:641 - around 77 points.

Let’s have another Cuban…

Santiago de Cuba 11 yo 'Anejo Superior' (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2013)

Santiago de Cuba 11 yo 'Anejo Superior' (40%, OB, Cuba, +/-2013) one star and a half Another domestic bottling that seems to get exported these days, mainly to Spain. Colour: gold/orange. Nose: another very aromatic one, sweet, reeking of saccharine and corn syrup, then honey and overripe bananas. And then there are litres of vanilla crème as well as a little hay and chocolate mints. Not unpleasant, but the palate may be too sweet for my taste, let’s see… Mouth: indeed, it’s a little too sweet and while the arrival’s quite oomphy, it tends to drop and to become flattish. Having said that there are pleasant notes of pineapple sauce and an oaky spiciness. White pepper. Finish: not too long, with some sour wood and overripe apples. More pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: I think it struggled a bit after the Cubay. SGP:640 - around 68 points.

Compania Licorera de Nicaragua 2001/2013 (63.20%, Isla del Ron, 214 bottles)

Compania Licorera de Nicaragua 2001/2013 (63.20%, Isla del Ron, 214 bottles) Two stars and a half One of the strongest rums I could taste, after a few explosive tropical-aged Demeraras. Colour: gold. Nose: this is more to my liking, although the very high strength makes it a little ‘silent’. I find more sugar cane than in the others, more grass, more coffee, more earth, traces of green olives, some tobacco… With water: some burnt oak coming through, wood smoke, dark chocolate… Also curious touches of grain whisky. Mouth (neat): it’s a sweeter style again, with plenty of stewed fruits, bananas, oranges, marshmallows, then more peppery oak. Strong stuff, one has to be careful. With water: the marshmallows win. Some sugar. Finish: not very long, still sweet, with an oaky structure. Comments: I rather like it, given that this is not quite my favourite style of rum. SGP:631 - around 78 points.

Jamaica 30 yo 1982/2013 ‘Freya’ (50.8%, Lord of the Drams, 35 bottles)

Jamaica 30 yo 1982/2013 ‘Freya’ (50.8%, Lord of the Drams, 35 bottles) Four stars and a half Indeed this baby’s named ‘Freya’, just like that Highland Park, but the rum’s been bottled first! Colour: deep gold. Nose: home! I mean, this is as phat, oily, grassy, olive-y, tarry and dundery as a Jamaican can get, and yet there’s a perfect balance and even some refinement. Also superb touches of fir honey, camphor, turpentine, smoked tea, then hints of melon and mango skins. I may have forgotten a few drops of diesel oil. Perfect. Mouth: a little more on the sweet side but the heavy style remains there, with this tarry/oily side, the brine, the olives, the ‘good’ rubber, the menthol, the liquorice… The oak becomes a notch louder after a minute or two, but it never becomes oaky. Finish: long, fruity, with oranges and more liquorice. A load of pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: quite love it. I had another 1982 by Liquid Sun that I liked rather less, even if it was very similar. Maybe a matter of context, or a death seat? SGP:562 - around 88 points.

After such a powerhouse, session is over!

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

 

 

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