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Tasting notes:
Whiskies 10,692
Others 719

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (35) - Aberlour (79)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (2
6)
An Cnoc (
20)
Ardbeg (3
40) - Ardmore (60)
Arran (6
9) - Auchentoshan (77)
Auchroisk (2
7) - Aultmore (29)
Balblair (63) - Balmenach (33)
Balvenie (
73) - Banff (43)
Ben Nevis (
90)
Ben Wyvis (
2)
Benriach (
141) - Benrinnes (43)
Benromach (
42) - Bladnoch (54)
Blair Athol (4
4) - Bowmore (379)
Braes of Glenlivet (
29)
Brora (
115)
Bruichladdich (2
17)
Bunnahabhain (
238)
Caol Ila (406)
Caperdonich (
81)
Cardhu (
31) - Clynelish (284)
Coleburn (
15)
Convalmore (1
8)
Cragganmore (
58)
Craigduff (3) - Craigellachie (
40)
Dailuaine (47) - Dallas Dhu (32)
Dalmore (85) - Dalwhinnie (19)
Deanston (22) - Dufftown (41)

Edradour (38)
Imperial (58) - Inchgower (44)
Inverleven (18)
Isle of Jura (87)

Kilchoman (20)
Kilkerran (
7) - Kinclaith (7)
Kininvie
(3)
- Knockando (
31)
Ladyburn (9) - Lagavulin (99)
Laphroaig (337) - Ledaig (73)
Linkwood (112) - Littlemill (85)
Loch Lomond (29)
Lochside (62)
Longmorn (172) - Longrow (57)

Macallan (233) - Macduff (51)
Mannochmore (2
5)
Millburn (1
9)
Miltonduff (
53) - Mortlach (119)
Mosstowie (1
7)
Scapa (34) - Speyburn (22) - Speyside (16)
Springbank (22
7)
St-Magdalene (46)
Strathisla (80) - Strathmill (2
6)
 
 
Pete and Jack


2015
May 1
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
 

Othe whisky stuff
 

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The Magical History
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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.

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

2002-2015


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May 25, 2015


Whiskyfun

All over Europe in several flights - part 4

After Liechtenstein on Friday, we could head east, to the Czech Republic. And then, we’ll see…

Hammer Head 23 yo 1989 (40.7%, OB, Czech Republic, single malt, +/-2013)

Hammer Head 23 yo 1989 (40.7%, OB, Czech Republic, single malt, +/-2013) Two stars and a half We had tasted a first, younger version of this baby a few years ago, and found it more than pleasant (WF 78). Let’s see what three or four more years have done to this juice that, if I’m not mistaken was distilled when that was still Czechoslovakia. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s light, but it’s pleasant, with notes of overripe apples, chamomile, hessian, almonds, engine grease and linseed oil. A little amount of damp cardboard as well, but that’s rather ‘a style’ than ‘a flaw’ here. Mouth: good freshness, but also a touch of sugar. There’s a cognacqy side, flowers, peppered butterscotch and touches of rhubarb jam. Or gooseberries? Light body. Finish: not too long, always with jams and sugar, touches of flowers again (acacia honey) and rather brown sugar in the aftertaste. Comments: really a fine drop, that rather hints at a blend. Good, one more point! SGP:341 - 79 points.

Should we drive to Austria?...

Pfanner ‘Classic’ (43%, OB, Austria, single malt, +/-2014)

Pfanner ‘Classic’ (43%, OB, Austria, single malt, +/-2014) one star and a half We’re actually in Vorarlberg, where the countryside’s so beautiful. Apparently, this baby won something like ‘Best Austrian Whisky Award’ at the IWSC. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s young and a tad feinty at first nosing, with some plasticine, apple peelings… It’s a very dry and grassy style, maybe not quite nosing whisky, but let’s check the palate… Mouth: indeed, grassy and pretty cardboardy. Something dusty, perhaps, but the background is pleasantly bready. A handful of sultanas, which improves it. Finish: medium, still grassy, a little maltier. More oak in the aftertaste. Comments: may lack definition and focus, but it’s not unpleasant to drink (while gazing out of the chalet’s windows at the Vorarlberg’s superb mountains.) SGP:231 - 69 points.

And from Austria? Switzerland, of course. Grüezi mitenand!

Säntisblick (48%, OB, Switzerland, single malt, +/-2014)

Säntisblick (48%, OB, Switzerland, single malt, +/-2014) Three stars Apparently, Säntisblick Distillery has nothing to do with the well-known Säntis. This malt was matured in Madeira wood. Colour: straw. Nose: oh fun! Coal smoke, new rubber boots, linoleum, laspang souchong… This is very smoky, quite brutal as far as styles are concerned, and not totally unlike that bizarrely smoky Balcones from Texas. You’re right, the name’s Brimstone. So this is Brimstone from Switzerland. Mouth: same feeling, this is very funny. I’m not sure it’s balanced, and it’s certainly not orthodox malt whisky, whether peated or not, but I find, yeah, lots of fun in this very smoky rubberiness, this feeling of crunching brown coal… of chewing a latex dress (S., what goes on in your personal life is not our business!)  Finish: long, acrid, ultra-dry. And very smoky. Comments: excellent bad whisky ;-). You won’t quaff a whole tankard of it, though. SGP:358 - 80 points.

You said Säntis?

Säntis Malt 9 yo 'Edition Formosa' (53%, OB, Switzerland, single malt, 432 bottles, 2014)

Säntis Malt 9 yo 'Edition Formosa' (53%, OB, Switzerland, single malt, 432 bottles, 2014) Four stars Some Appenzeller whisky selected by some excellent Taiwanese whisky people, how unlikely is that? In fact, it’s not. This baby was matured in an old beer cask and finished in sherry. Tell me about haute cuisine. Colour: rich amber. Nose: quiet please… This is something else. I didn’t know you could distil packs of Werther’s Originals! And Mars bars! And millionaire shortbread! A lot of caramel indeed, chocolate, brown ale (drops), fudge… And I’d swear there’s some fruity hop inside. A rather spectacular nose, for sure. With water: it’s a kind of very fragrant bourbon with high rye content. I especially like the touches of mint, myrtle and camphor that come out. Mouth (neat): same feeling again. A thick chocolate and praline and caramel, plus candied cornflakes, plum wine, triple sec, and reduced spiced wine. Cloves and caraway cooked in a PX sauce. The whole’s very thick, but not stuffy. With water: excellent! Spicy and rounded at the same time. Reminds me of some excellent sangria with some gin poured in. But not just that… Finish: quite long, with some fruits now. Grenadine, strawberries… Comments: a movie malt. Very well made – and selected. Säntis did it again. SGP:552 - 86 points.

A last one… Let’s stay in good old Switzerland.

Langatun 4 yo 2010/2014 'Old Eagle' (44%, OB, Switzerland, rye, 300 bottles)

Langatun 4 yo 2010/2014 'Old Eagle' (44%, OB, Switzerland, rye, 300 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: right, after the monsters that we just tried it’s getting a little difficult. Indeed this one’s much lighter, more on brioche and pastries – say croissant , with some sweet oak and burnt bread. Overtoasted toasts. I do not seem to find an obvious rye-ness. Mouth: well, there’s much more happening on the palate. The rye’s there, there is some earth, spicy herbs, then more toasted bread and pastries, kugelhopf (warum nicht?), drops of dry Madeira (perhaps), a touch of salt, maybe triggered by the Madeira notes – but I doubt there’s any Madeira in there, a little pepper, lavender bonbons (nothing soapy here), vanilla… It has got an American side for sure. Finish: quite long, with a lot of rye, fudge, vanilla and spicy oak. Comments: not a wham-bam nose, but a wham-bam palate. There’s also a version at 60.7% vol., that one should be explosive. I think the Swiss have really improved their whiskies, and that Switzerland may well be becoming another great whisky nation. A shame that the Swiss Franc became so expensive. SGP:452 - 83 points.

So we may have more Swiss whisky next time… Hoppla!

 

 

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May 24, 2015


Whiskyfun

Malternatives, two nice spirits from Paris

Yesterday I’ve been wandering through the little streets around Place de la République in Paris, and first found a small Polish shop that had some virtually unknown spirits (to me). And then I went to visit the lovely new Distillerie de Paris near Gare de l’Est, where I tried quite a few new spirits (especially their great gins) as well as some of their baby whisky. Excuse me, their malt distillate. So let’s simply taste one spirit from each place today, which spirits won’t have anything to do with each other. Agreed, how unlikely but that's often how you come across good - or bad - surprises.

Rhum ‘Petite Marie’ (51%, OB, Distillerie de Paris, 2015)

Rhum ‘Petite Marie’ (51%, OB, Distillerie de Paris, 2015) Three stars This is concentrated cane juice from Marie Galante (Guadeloupe islands) distilled in Paris in a very state of the art Holstein still – that’s actually much more than a regular Holstein. It’s been aged for a few weeks in small French oak casks. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: pure and fresh at first nosing, with very lovely notes of citrons and white asparagus, a moderately smoky grassiness, some waxed paper and fabric, and then pure sugar cane juice blended with just a little mezcal. Perhaps. It’s the freshness that’s impressive here, we’re far from the heavies and far from the sweetened ones. Kind of anti-molassy. Mouth: starts with a lot of liquorice and lemon, with a hot and burning side - but that’s normal – before touches of smoked ham and, again, asparagus become bigger and bigger. A wee hint of lavender, perhaps. Finish: very long, with a little juniper on top of the sugar cane and asparagus. Comments: a different one, very zesty, and beyond a rather impressive complexity, one can feel that purity was the aim. A few oddish notes (ham) should disappear after a little more ageing. SGP:551 - around 80 points.

Sliwowica Podbeskidzka (50%, OB, Poland, Toorank Distilleries, +/-2015)

Sliwowica Podbeskidzka (50%, OB, Poland, Toorank Distilleries, +/-2015) Two stars and a half As I understand it this is a kind of slivovitz, so damson plum spirit, which I found in a little Polish shop in Paris, called La Petite Pologne (Little Poland). Colour: white wine. Nose: plums indeed. Wheelbarrows of fresh and ripe purple plums plus a touch of vanilla and cake. No complex spirit but it’s clean and if you enjoy damson plums, this will work a treat. Mouth: in my experience – and because I’ve been distilling plums myself for decades – plum spirit can get dirty and/or a little burnt, which isn’t the case at all here. Balance is achieved, the plums are singing loud, together with overripe apples and a wee feeling of rotting oranges. Nothing dirty, though. Sadly, there’s also a little too much sweetness coming through after twenty seconds, as if sugar had been added. That coats your tongue a bit, but we’re way below the limits of unbearability. Ahem. Good mouth feel, and the 50% vol. do not feel much. Finish: quite long, fresh and zesty. Lemony aftertaste, with perhaps something a little burnt in the end of the end. Comments: quality drink, but we knew the Poles were very good at making plum spirit. SGP:740 - around 78 points.

 

 

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May 22, 2015


Whiskyfun

All over Europe in several flights - part 3

We were in Brittany/Bretagne, we’ll stay in Brittany/Bretagne….

Armorik 12 yo 2002/2014 (55.7%, OB, France, Bretagne, oloroso, cask #3298, 723 bottles)

Armorik 12 yo 2002/2014 (55.7%, OB, France, Bretagne, oloroso, cask #3298, 723 bottles) Three stars Colour: full gold. Nose: starts with whiffs of old musty wine cellar, some camphor and some mint, a flinty side, something chalky (or would that be aspirin tablets?) and then unfolds on peonies and stewed red fruits, seasoned with cloves and ginger from the oak. With water: it got much gentler, rounder, smoother… Sweet grains, cassis jam on a Breton ‘crepe’, soft ginger ale… Mouth (neat): heavy, leafy, kirschy and peppery. Quite pungent and acrid, this baby bites you. With water: once again it got rounder and easier, but the oak’s spices keep singing a little loud. Ginger cake, white pepper… Finish: good length, with Seville oranges, marmalade and more ginger cake. Comments: very, very fine, but I think I liked the excellent  ‘Maître de Chai’ a little better. SGP:461 - 81 points.

Kornog 'Taouarc’h Chwec'hved BC14' (58.2%, OB, Glann ar Mor, 2014)

Kornog 'Taouarc’h Chwec'hved BC14' (58.2%, OB, Glann ar Mor, 2014) Five stars Anyone able to properly pronounce Taouarc’h Chwec'hved wins my eternal consideration ;-). Colour: pale gold. Nose: starts a tad solventy but that goes away and quick. What’s behind that is really superb, I have to say. It’s a kind of vegetal smoke balanced with tobacco and tea leaves, graphite (pencil lead), lamp oil and linseed. Sharp, in a great way. With water: the barley comes out, together with some hessian, seaweed, almond oil… Mouth (neat): perfect, with this Ardbeggy side that I already found in other expressions of Kornog. In fact this one’s a little lighter than, say Ardbeg Ten, but it’s got the same ‘no-compromise’ kind of clean and chiselled coastal peat. The lemon’s perfect too – and you need lemon to balance young peaters. Creamy mouth feel, from bourbon wood I suppose. With water: lovely lovely. Bitter almonds and maraschino plus lemon and smoked fish. The peat is pronounced. Finish: long, very clean, a little more herbal again. Comments: they can’t grow riesling in Bretagne, because of the wet climate (I know I know, in Bretagne it only pours on idiots – that’s what they say to tourists who keep complaining about the weather). But this Kornog’s as close to a good mineral riesling as whisky can get if you ask me. SGP:457 - 90 points.

I think we’ll stay in France, but drive towards the Alps…

Domaine des Hautes Glaces ‘Les Moissons’ (42%, OB, France, single malt, 2014)

Domaine des Hautes Glaces ‘Les Moissons’ (42%, OB, France, single malt, 2014) Four stars I’m a fan of Domaine des Hautes Glaces aka DHG. They only use barley from their own estate, and organic at that. The opposite of large-scale distilling by multinationals – but as we all know, not only small is beautiful in whisky (and conversely). Colour: white wine. Nose: smelling a fistful of fresh barley, with earthy touches, many kinds of bread (it’s like at a Tyrolean breakfast), some humus, fresh porcinis, lime, peaches, and then an unexpected coastal side. Shall we say anchovies in salt? It’s true that the Mediterranean is only 300km away (a wild guess). Mouth: high high high. These young guys know what they’re doing. Love this saltiness that’s back, the fresh marzipan, the raw barley, the notes of very fresh brown bread, the drops of lemon juice… It’s got something of a coastal peater, and yet it’s no coastal peater. What’s the trick? Finish: unusually long given the strength, salty, almondy, earthy and barleyish. Everything is to like. Comments: so young and so good! What I love even more is that like mezcals that taste of agave and rums that taste of sugarcane, this tastes of cereals. True aquavitae, very well done! And there’s no obvious oak in the way. SGP:362 - 87 points.

Let’s fly to Segovia in Spain...

D.Y.C. 10 yo (40%, OB, Spain, single malt, +/-2013)

D.Y.C. 10 yo (40%, OB, Spain, single malt, +/-2013) D.Y.C. stands for Destilerias Y Crianza, which is owned by Beam, and that used to own Lochside. Ah, if only they could replicate Lochside! Colour: pale gold. Nose: crush two kilos of rose petals, blend with orange and litchi juices, add a little vanilla extract, a handful of small cherries, that’s it. And it’s quite pleasant, very fragrant and very light. Mouth: that perfuly side doesn’t work too well on the palate, I’m afraid. A light and slightly sugary profile, with a little cardboard in the background, some vanilla, touches of sour cream (or readymade supermarket custard), and some corn syrup. Calls for ice. Finish: short, sugary, okay. Comments: my bad, we shouldn’t have had this very light malt after the fierce Bretons and Alpine. Apologies. I think I liked DYC’s blends, including the 8, better. SGP:440 - 65 points.

Let’s head north again if you please, and have a last one… Would a Liechtensteiner do?

Telser 2008/2014 (43%, OB, Telser, Liechtenstein, rye, Laphroaig finish)

Telser 2008/2014 (43%, OB, Telser, Liechtenstein, rye, Laphroaig finish) Two stars and a half Granted, with a layer of Laphroaig, it might be a little difficult to have a good grasp of this wee spirit from that wee country. But rye can be big, so let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: funny. Imagine some cider, mixed with rye indeed, bread balls, a bit of cardboard, crushed violets – or Parfait Amour, apple peeling, one zest of orange and a drop of ginger liqueur with a little curry powder inside. I’m sure you’d think this can’t work. You would be wrong, especially since Laphroaig’s very, very quiet. Mouth: some kind of earthy and spicy apple juice, with some beer (say good IPA) and again, a bready side. Bread with cumin and poppy seeds. I find this fresh, funny, unusual, and good. Finish: good length. Spicy beer and cider, with a bready aftertaste. The rye’s more obvious now. Perhaps some Laphroaiggy smoke, but I’m not too sure. Comments: I find this pretty good, and fun. Huge progress since the first ‘Telsington’ from six years ago or so. SGP:451 - 78 points.

Where shall we go next time? We’ll see, stay tuned…

 

 

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May 21, 2015


Whiskyfun

All over Europe in several flights - part 2

Last time we stopped in Sweden, with Mackmyra and Smögen. Let’s stay in Sweden for a short while, if you don’t mind…

Mackmyra 'Midnattssol' (46.1%, OB, +/-2014)

Mackmyra 'Midnattssol' (46.1%, OB, +/-2014) This one was finished in silver birch wine. Some Swedish stuff, apparently. Colour: gold. Nose: I don’t know. I find plenty of bananas. A slightly simple nose, not unpleasant at all, unfolding on sweet cornbread, manzanilla wine (no, not chamomile… wait, now that you mention it, there is a little chamomile), walnut cake and vanilla. Simple, young, clean, pleasant. Mouth: some sour wood, yoghurt, vanilla cream, white beer… I’m not a fan of this sourness, I have to say. Some unsweetened lemon juice. Good body, but the sourness – possibly from the wood – is a little too unusual. If I may. Finish: quite long, but bitterish and still a little too sour. Comments: not too sure about this one. The cask did a lot of work, but I find the end result too sour in my own little book. I’d tend to call these whiskies ‘the anecdotals’. SGP:371 - 65 points.

Speaking of anecdotal whiskies, let’s fly to England!

English Spirit 'Expedition Number 2' (42%, OB, malt spirit, +/-2015)

English Spirit 'Expedition Number 2' (42%, OB, malt spirit, +/-2015) ‘Stuff that’s distilled 5 times and matured briefly in English oak’, according to the very adventurous people at Master of Malt, who’re afraid of strictly nothing (which we love, because when you taste a lot of stuff, the enemy is boredom). Colour: straw. Nose: yess! Immature for sure, yeasty and feinty as sure as 2+2=4, but funny in all its unlikeliness. We’re between barbecued sardines (f****ng neighbours) and long-forgotten yoghurt. Let’s not forget ‘old tin boxes’. Maybe stale mango juice. And burning books. So funny! Mouth: the power is too low. If I may, when you issue unlikely spirits, better raise the voltage. Vase water, old mangos, sugarcane syrup, Moroccan spice mix, earth and dirt. Finish: sour, flabby, unlikely and uncertain. Comments: loved it! SGP:321 - 39 points.

Okay, let’s carefully avoid Scotland and Ireland, and drive straight to Wales…

Penderyn 'Myth' (41%, OB, Wales, +/-2015)

Penderyn 'Myth' (41%, OB, Wales, +/-2015) Two stars and a halfPenderyn, great people, but I’ve always had troubles with their whiskies. It’s me, it’s me. Now, if this is already mythical, we should be up for some wonders. Colour: gold. Nose: heeeey, wait! This works, it’s not British in style, rather kind of American, with a body that’s a little thin but also a thick layer of aromas over it. We’re talking pencil shavings, apple peeling, multi-vitamin fruit juice, vanilla, ‘light’ smoke, coconut and all that. A fine, easy nose. Mouth: Whiskyfun is about having fun, and some fun there is here. Where else would you find maracuja ice cream, pink grapefruits, mangosteen, burnt praline and old Madeira wine? Nowhere else. Finish: unexpectedly long, fruity, candied, with touches of sweet oaky vinegar in the aftertaste. Apple vinegar. Comments: I find this one very pleasing, it’s lost its feinty side. This at cask strength please! SGP:631 - 78 points.

Where shall we go from Wales? Brittany would be the obvious choice…

Armorik 'Maître de Chai' (47.3%, OB, France, Bretagne, 1000 bottles)

Armorik 'Maître de Chai' (47.3%, OB, France, Bretagne, 1000 bottles) Three stars and a half Armorik’s made by Warenghem, in Lannion. A maître de chai is a cellar master. Colour: gold. Nose: there is a little new oak at first nosing, all that on a rather light distillate, but the freshness and even the coastality work well, and give it a lighter Bruichladdich style. Wheat, cake, a bit of leather, old books, a touch of humus, a bit of eucalyptus… The whole is rather dry. Mouth: oh! Well done! Spicy pear cake, sweet bread, liquorice, light vanilla fudge, ginger cake, fresh walnuts… This baby keeps its distances, but there is a feeling of fullness. Gets very brioche-y over time. Finish: good length, bready and brioche-y, so civilised, malty, with some spiced-up Starbucks coffee in the aftertaste. I know, Starbucks and coffee don’t go well together. Comments: great work. The oak’s still a little too obvious, but this baby’s way above earlier bottlings from six or ten years ago. IMHO. SGP:441 - 83 points.

Good, we said five, so one more, and let’s stay in Bretagne…

Kornog 'Taouarc'h Pempved 14BC' (46%, OB, Glann ar Mor, France, Bretagne, bourbon barrel, 2014)

Kornog 'Taouarc'h Pempved 14BC' (46%, OB, Glann ar Mor, France, Bretagne, bourbon barrel, 2014) Four stars Is Breton less or more boring than Gaelic? Discuss… ;-) Anyway, you may remember than Kornog is the peated version of Glann ar Mor. Colour: white wine. Nose: Kornog is becoming more and more Islayesque. Indeed this baby’s got the medicinal side of Laphroaig – albeit toned down -, the light coastal side of Bruichladdich, the leafy smokiness of Caol Ila, and the tarry/oily side of Ardbeg. It remains a light peater, but it makes me think of lace. Peaty lace. Mouth: smoked pineapples and seawater and oysters. The body’s not bigg and phatt, and indeed this is rather a light, yet slightly earthy peater, but the citrus that kicks in after just two minutes further lifts it and makes it extremely drinkable. Fish oils, lemon, smoked water, smoked fish. Caol Ila’s not far on the palate. Finish: unexpectedly long, smoky, clean, salty, kind of easy. Comments: the easier side of peated Glann ar Mor. Easy, but irrefutable. Yec'hed mat! SGP:456 - 85 points.

What’s gonna be next? Which countries? Which unusual whiskies? Stay tuned…

 

 

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May 20, 2015


Whiskyfun

All over Europe in several flights - part 1

Let’s simply have a bunch of European whiskies overy a few days. Oh and may we start with one classic French whisky that I had never tried before?

Wambrechies 8 yo (40%, OB, Distillerie Claeyssens, France, single malt, +/-2015)

Wambrechies 8 yo (40%, OB, Distillerie Claeyssens, France, single malt, +/-2015) Two stars North of France. One of the pioneers of French whisky. The distillery sells this bottle for 22.50€, which I find extremely reasonable by today’s standards. Colour: pale gold. Nose: a bit hot, maybe, but I enjoy these notes of baked pears and… guess what, speculoos. I even find some genever, knowing that the distillery’s also famous for its… genevers. A pleasant spicy breadiness. Mouth: warm, with a coherent profile, some candy sugar, these bready notes again, a feeling of caraway, certainly genever/juniper, a touch of chouchen perhaps (honey fermented in apple juice, a Breton thing), a drop of kirsch… It’s fine, I think, nice character. Finish: good length despite the strength, a bit sugary but with a pleasant spiciness. Right, juniper… Comments: more than fine! We’re probably a little closer to some young ryes than to Scotch malt, but that works. Maybe a little too eau-de-vie-ish? SGP:441 - 75 points.

Let’s go a bit south (hardly a 150km drive), to Champagne…

Guillon 'Cuvée 42' (40%, OB, France, single malt, +/-2014)

Guillon 'Cuvée 42' (40%, OB, France, single malt, +/-2014) Two stars Matured in white Bourgogne wood, so French oak for sure. Early Guillons have been pretty unconvincing in my book, but I’ve tried one two or three years ago that’s been very okay (cuvee ‘Champagne’, WF 78). Colour: gold. Nose: sweeter than the Wambrechies, fruitier, jammier, with notes of Sauternes (ripe apricots and such) – so much for Montrachet ;-) – and a curious meaty side, with some ham and some… would that be oysters? On top of that, a creamy vanilla. I quite like this nose. Mouth: it’s bizarre. Grapefruit liqueur, oak spices, liquorice rolls, a bit of smoke (smoked kippers), then more liquorice, jelly babies, a touch of verbena liqueur (verveine du Velay)… Quite unusual globally, and I’m not sure I’d down a double-magnum, but there are interesting sides to this. Finish: a bit sort, with a feeling of coal smoke and more jelly babies. Smoked Haribo stuff. A wee dirtiness in the aftertaste (cardboard?) Comments: funny and not badly made at all. SGP:542 - 72 points.

Up north again… Oops, we’re in Belgium!

Goldlys 12 yo (43%, OB, Filliers distillery, single malt, Oloroso cask finish, cask #2632, +/-2014)

Goldlys 12 yo (43%, OB, Filliers distillery, single malt, Oloroso cask finish, cask #2632, +/-2014) Two stars This is whisky from Belgian Flanders. It’s got a very good reputation, but sadly, it’s very expensive. 75 Belgian Euros a bottle! Colour: gold. Nose: I don’t know if that’s got something to do with The North, but this baby’s got something of the Wambrechies, with a spicy side, some candy sugar, a touch of wholegrain bread, a serious maltiness and then more citrus. Marmalade and limejuice liqueur. Little oloroso, but some juniper indeed. I like this nose. Mouth: again, well in the style of the Wambrechies. Spicy, gingery, junipery, with bitter oranges, ale, nutmeg… I find the oak a tad loud – and drying - but other than that, it’s a fine Belgian tipple. Finish: rather long and quite spicy. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger. Comments: the oak’s a little too prominent, perhaps. The distillate’s very, very fine. SGP:551 - 76 points.

Further north, to Holland…

Millstone 2004/2014 (58.6%, OB, Holland, Zuidam, for The Whisky Exchange, cask #667, 245 bottles)

Millstone 2004/2014 (58.6%, OB, Holland, Zuidam, for The Whisky Exchange, cask #667, 245 bottles) Four stars The fact that the excellent connoisseurs at TWE have selected a Dutch single cask may say a lot. Not about TWE, mind you, about this whisky… Colour: amber. Nose: no surprise. No surprise because I’ve tried some rye by Millstone before, and found it excellent. It’s very American, in fact, with perfect oak, syrups, ryeness, jams (strawberry jam’s very obvious), fudge and tamarind. All perfect, let’s move on. With water: lovely, pencil lead, engine oil, fresh oak, fresh butter, maple syrup… Mouth (neat): paw bang! Huge, powerful, rich, American indeed but with an added layer of coconut, and I almost feel shame because I’m no easy-coconut lover, and yet I find all this coconutty coconut pretty lovely. Maybe that’s because the spirit underneath all this coconut is characterful enough to stand that coconuttiness. With water: gone the coconut – well, almost – hello oranges, rye, lavender sweets, aged gin, strawberries… Finish: long, still very creamy. Spicy bread, oranges. The aftertaste is a little too bitter, perhaps. Comments: I was ready to go higher, but the aftertaste was a little drying. Other than that, it’s extremely fine Americanodutch whisky! SGP:661 - 85 points.

A short break after that big rye, and then we’ll fly to…

Mackmyra 2008/2012 'Carpet Crawler's Choice' (51.7%, OB, Sweden, Extra Rök, cask #08-0689)

Mackmyra 2008/2012 'Carpet Crawler's Choice' (51.7%, OB, Sweden, Extra Rök, cask #08-0689) Three stars and a half With a name like that, this was obviously bottled for some fans of the band Supertramp (1). Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh! But this is quite perfect! Putting your nose over an old bottle of turpentine that would have been ‘blended’ with liquid smoke, engine oil, oysters, orange syrup and gingerbread. With water: as tarry, oily, mineral and medicinal as whisky can get. Very funny! Mouth (neat): not all Mackmyra’s have convinced me, and this does have some extreme side, and even some rather biting oak, but this combination of concentrated liquid smoke, smoked salmon (quite a few fish) and smoked birch (or something akin to that) just works, even if it’s very, and I mean very extreme. Phat mouthfeel, the whole becoming more and more medicinal. With water: some sweet oak, acrid herbs (myrtle), strong bitter green tea, fish eggs (you may call this a caviary dram) and plenty of cloves and juniper. Finish: very long, sticks your tongue onto your palate. Comments: extreme, certainly unbalanced, but I’m not sure balance was needed. Wouldn’t that rather be Motörhead instead of Supertramp? (1) SGP:577 - 84 points.

I’d like to stop this first stage here, but since we’re in Sweden, we could as well try this ‘for the road’…

Smögen

Smögen 3 yo 2010/2013 ‘S.’s own vatting’ (66.2%, OB, single malt, Sweden, cask samples #1/2010+3/2010) Three stars and a half I’m being very silly now, but you see, I had these cask samples from Smögen’s… And I thought we could as well mix them together to get a better grip of the new shining star of Sweden. Colour: amber. Nose: totally huge! Chocolate, a new box of Cuban cigars, humus and mushrooms, rye (yes), buttered caramel, tree bark, pumpernickel, gingerbread, mulled wine, cloves… And a rising smoke. Lignite smoke?

With water: something coastal (at +/-45% vol.) Ozone, seaweed, some kind of smoked ginger… Mouth (neat): a heavy concoction, totally smashing, hitting, fighting, and bursting with spices and peppery smoke. One of the strongest liquids I’ve been given to try, but then again, this is no ‘commercial’ bottling. With water: it’s still a bit on the heavy side, but there’s a sweet and spicy oak that works very well. Green peppers cooked in honey. Can you do that? Finish: very long, gingery, clove-y, bready (hurray)… Comments: would probably kill an elephant when taken neat, but this spectacular Viking juice, while not taking any prisoners (oh too easy, S.!), has got some complexity. And in whisky, complexity is life. SGP:474 - around 83 points.

That was some very active oak, as the colour suggested, but I’ve also got some ex-bourbon Smögen, let’s quickly have it.

Smögen 3 yo (cask strength, OB, single malt, Sweden, fresh barrel, cask sample, 2013) Four stars Some more neutral wood, should be interesting. Colour: white wine. Nose: sure it’s more discreet, humble, narrow, and probably spirity… No easy move after the heavy monster. My bad. With water: fresh barley, gravel, beach sand, almond oil, lamp oil, lemon skins. Sounds a bit Islayish, doesn’t it. Mouth (neat): heeeeeyyyyy! This is great! As sharp as a blade (not from that very silly Game of Throne thingy), perfectly chiselled lemony and peaty spirit with a slightly sweet edge (manzana verde), this could have been made at the very distillery that lies right between Laphroaig and Ardbeg. Great, great distillate. With water: makes you kneel down, conquered and vanquished. I know we now sound like and Aston-Martin brochure. Finish: long, whistle-clean, precise, peaty, smoky. Kippers. After all, Islay was one of the Vikings’ islands (for a good while), wasn’t it. Comments: very, very impressive distillate. Depth and glory (err, you’re going a little too far, S.) SGP:458 - around 87/88 points.

(1) Nah, I know that’s early 'The Lamb' Genesis, no need to send me angry emails ;-)

 

 

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May 19, 2015


Whiskyfun

Glenlivet Founder's Reserve and others

There’s this newish NAS Glenlivet, the Founder’s Reserve that already made quite some ink and kilobytes flow. Well, rather kilobytes, because kilobytes are cheaper. What I wanted to do today was to use it as a kind of stepping stone, and then start to plunder WF’s sample library completely at random. But only Glenlivets, of course…

Glenlivet 'Founder's Reserve' (40%, OB, 2015)

Glenlivet 'Founder's Reserve' (40%, OB, 2015) Two stars and a half Currently between £33 and £37 a bottle in the UK (that's still in Europe, isn’t it?) while the price for the regular 12 yo rather lies around £29. Where else have we already seen these moves? Now there already was a ‘Founder’s Reserve’ back in 2010, and that one was excellent (WF 89), but it had been bottled at 55.5% vol. Colour: light gold. Nose: a wee touch of varnish and beer at very first sniffs, then rather pear syrup and tinned pineapples, with drops of lemon juice. A little crème brulée, apple peelings, vanillin (oak) and a tiny-wee drop of glue. Noses young, but the whole combo isn’t unpleasant. A little menthol as well. But noses are one thing, and then there’s the… Mouth: it’s got body and structure, starting with honey and green apples plus white chocolate and earl grey tea, but you can feel that there isn’t a massive depth. Malt, marmalade, oak. Finish: rather short, honeyed and vanilla-ed, plus apple juice. Tea tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: some parts remind me of Jameson’s blends. It’s very honest, easy stuff, a kind of smart crowd pleaser. Not sure about the price, though (remember, the problem with modern NAS isn't about quality, it's about price positioning). Younger plus more expensive, almost an oxymoron. SGP:441 - 78 points.

Are you expecting me to try the 12? Wrong, my dear…

Glenlivet 'Nàdurra First Fill Selection Batch No. FF0714' (48%, OB, 2014)

Glenlivet 'Nàdurra First Fill Selection Batch No. FF0714' (48%, OB, 2014) Three stars Aged dropped again. There’s also a version at a much higher strength (63.1%). Both were fully matured in first fill American oak. Colour: white wine – so very pale for first fill. Nose: quite the opposite of the FR, this is much more dry, more austere, leafier, grassier… That’s a little surprising, I had expected bags of vanilla. All for the better in my book. There are these touches of glue again – I don’t hate that – and an earthy, rooty woodiness that I quite like. Paper, gooseberries, peelings, maybe a wee touch of bubblegum. Mouth: sweet malt, sweet beer, sweet stewed fruits (rhubarb, apples), sweet almonds and ale, all that being coated with custard and maple syrup. And this works, I think. Finish: quite long, with touches of pepper and ginger from the oak. Rather peppered grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: I’ve always enjoyed the various inceptions of Nàdurra, especially the 16 yos. This one should be younger, but it’s still to my liking. SGP:451 - 82 points.

Let’s find another OB…

Glenlivet 18 yo 'Guardians' (55.7%, OB, cask #2911, 2011)

Glenlivet 18 yo 'Guardians' (55.7%, OB, cask #2911, 2011) Four stars Please don’t rub it in, I know I’m late. As you know, the Guardians is Glenlivet’s consumer club. Colour: gold. Nose: classic, very malty, raisiny, chocolaty, with some ale and apples again, then rather coffee and vanilla. I also find hints of old oloroso, mushrooms, and even a little wood smoke. It’s complex. With water: musty wine cellar, hessian, raw cocoa, raisins, Banyuls, cigars… Mouth (neat): I really enjoy this big, very malty style. Ovaltine, chocolate, a drop of pinesap, honeydew, blood oranges… Really big stuff, with a huge retro-olfaction. Tastes like refill sherry, but I’m not too sure it is. With water: really very good. Malty raisins, apple pie, cinnamon, fino sherry (sweet mustard, walnuts, brine)… The oak comes rather more to the front (black tea). Finish: long, a tad acrid and herbal, but other than that, all is fine. Comments: had it at +/-88 until the finish. Very good, IMHO. SGP:561 - 86 points.

Good, let’s get silly…

Glenlivet 7 yo

Glenlivet 7 yo (75° proof, Peter Thompson, early 1970s) Five stars Peter Thompson used to be wine and spirit merchants in Perth, Scotland. They were also making very silly stone bottles and miniatures under the brand name ‘Beneagles’ as well as the recently revived ‘Old Perth’ whisky. Colour: amber. Nose: perfect. Very young malt matured in glass for almost fifty years, displaying massive amounts of coal smoke, old papers and oils, plasticine and Play-doh, engine oil, ink, carbon paper… One for the office indeed. So it’s ultra-dry! Mouth: amazing. Some sweetness now, drops of brine, glazed chestnuts, ‘sweet’ leather, walnut wine, old sherry, tobacco, old wooden boxes, attic… It became totally tertiary, like some great old white wine. The body’s perfect. Finish: long, a tad sweeter, with raisins, a touch of very old cognac (soon on WF!), more tobacco, sweet meat, some camphor… It does ‘the peacock’s tail’. Comments: honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. How wrong I was! An ode to perfect OBE, and to ‘tertiary’ whiskies – the opposite of modern ‘secondary’ ones. SGP:452 - 92 points.

While I’m at it, let me quickly remind you what I'm meaning with the word ‘tertiary':

  • Primary aromas come from the spirit.
  • Secondary aromas come from the cask (and seasoning, wine and such)
  • Tertiary aromas come from the interplay (not just the mixing) between the spirit and the cask – and possibly its environment. In my experience and opinion, time in glass adds tertiary aromas as well over a longer time, which is why very old bottles of young spirit can have become very complex.

You got it, tertiary flavours can only come from time! That’s also why I’m not too much into young NAS, even if primary and secondary spirits can be excellent.
Phew… let’s go on!...

Glenlivet 35 yo 1979/2014 (51.6%, Mackillop’s Choice, cask #6102, 235 bottles)

Glenlivet 35 yo 1979/2014 (51.6%, Mackillop’s Choice, cask #6102, 235 bottles) Five stars I enjoy what Mackillop do with their labels. They never changed them, implying that it’s what’s inside that counts. Colour: gold. Nose: it seems that it’s one of these old whiskies that got rather mentholy and pine-y over the years, but in this case the whisky was big and potent enough to stand that and to wonderfully combine with this herbal side. In fact, this is pure honeydew. With water: more of all that. Honeydew, mead, sweet malt, Weetabix, overripe apples. Mouth (neat): indeed, liquid honey plus high-end cider and just a touch of sour wood. Perfect, fresh, fruity, herbal, zesty, and yet ‘Glenlivet luscious’. Like it a lot. With water: perfect malty goodness! More grass, leaves, peelings, tobacco, that menthol again… And some liquorice! Finish: long, even maltier. Wasn’t that old malt whisky, by any chance? Comments: great stuff, aged to perfection. Rather tastes 25 than 35, but yeah, it’s great. SGP:561 - 90 points.

A last one if you please… Let’s choose it carefully…

Glenlivet 1946/1972 (43%, Berry Bros and Rudd)

Glenlivet 1946/1972 (43%, Berry Bros and Rudd) Two stars and a halfIt’s said that immediate post-war whiskies used to be peatier, because coal and oil were in very short supply. So the maltsters were supposed to be using more peat again to malt the barley (and not just to aromatise it)… Colour: dark amber. Nose: peat? You bet! This is as smoky and herbal as a garden bonfire, extremely phenolic, but also very cardboardy, metallic, ‘used’… That’s bad news, I hope this baby hasn’t got stale and oxidised. It’s true that the whisky isn’t limpid… Mouth: yeah, the arrival is weakish, and the strength low. We’re almost sipping some kind of very old dry sherry. Which, in a sense, is great, but this lack of oomph and power is a problem. Pu-erh tea. Finish: not that short, unexpectedly salty, nutty and herbal. Did a prankster fill this wee bottle with old manzanilla? Comments: this is the fate of many an old bottle of whisky. It was lovely at times, but otherwise very frustrating. Still beats quite a few very new ones, mind you. SGP:232 - 77 points.

I agree, we just couldn’t leave it at that. I know what we’re going to do, we’ll try to find another Glenlivet by BBR. Found one!...

Glenlivet 30 yo 1983/2013 (58.8%, Berry Bros and Rudd, for A. Light, cask #2877)

Glenlivet 30 yo 1983/2013 (58.8%, Berry Bros and Rudd, for A. Light, cask #2877) Four stars and a half Colour: dark amber. Nose: sherry. BBR have already had quite a few very lovely sherried Glenlivets, I’d even say they’re specialists, just like G&M. Sure this one starts with burnt matches and gunpowder, but everything that comes out after that is perfect, from honey to raisins and from Ovaltine to triple-sec. Classic. No, rather ultra-classic. Also love these hints of Iberico ham and soy sauce, and pipe tobacco. With water: some kind of sauce to use on spare ribs. Mouth (neat): huge leathery and meaty sherry. Seriously, this is like Iberico ham indeed. Plus ultra-thick very old balsamico. Spectacularly thick. With water: the fruits come out. Figs, oranges, raisins… But the meatiness remains. Sweetened beef bouillon. Finish: long, meaty, almost salty. Bouillon indeed. Comments: someone trying this blind may have thought it was Mortlach. SGP:462 - 88 points.

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

 

 

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May 18, 2015


Whiskyfun

New and recent Laphroaig

There are two official Laphroaigs that I really wanted to try, so we’ll have them today. And then we might add a few indies for good measure…

Laphroaig 15 yo '200th Anniversary' (43%, OB, 2015)

Laphroaig 15 yo '200th Anniversary' (43%, OB, 2015) Five stars This baby needs no introduction. The older 15 had always been a favourite in the house, since the early ‘white label, red letters’ version. It’s been discontinued a few years back and replaced with a 18. And now it’s back, on time for Laphroaig’s 200 years. By the way our dear friend Marcel van Gils has written a superb book for the occasion. I’ve only seen a few highlights, but I know it’ll be smashing stuff. I’ll post a link as soon as it’s out, do not miss it! In the meantime, back at the ranch, let’s have this new 15… Colour: gold. Nose: I find less tropical fruits, and less ‘femininity’ than in the older 15 (not talking about the powerful older ones), and much more ‘big stuffy smoke’. I don’t think we’ve ever been closer to some peat burning in a fireplace, burning papers (with perhaps a bit of plastic), antiseptic, creosote and ozone. In the background, oysters and wet limestone. What I totally adore is the fact that there are no oaky smells that I can get. How un-modern, how smart! This is an anti-Select. Mouth: you would have thought they could have pushed it to 46% vol., but no, that would have been unnecessary. Totally Laphroaig, a bit acrid, very smoky, quite medicinal, very smoky, and yet candied and sweet, with grapefruit syrup and a little limoncello. It’s got this blade-y side that’s so thrilling, but also some sweeter liquorice, orange drops, and perhaps a couple of cheap whelks (my favourite seafood beyond oysters, don’t ask me why.) Excellent. Finish: long, much saltier. Drinking seawater and liquid smoke. Some coal smoke in the rather dry aftertaste. Comments: phew! I think this is extremely well done, kudos to John C. and staff. Oh and very smart, older fans must be pleased. SGP:357 - 90 points.

Laphroaig 25 yo 'Cask Strength 2014 Edition' (45.1%, OB)

Laphroaig 25 yo 'Cask Strength 2014 Edition' (45.1%, OB) Five stars The last 25 CS I had tried was the 2009 edition (with a virginal white label), and my feelings had been mixed (WF 84). The  strength is lower today – maybe not natural cask strength – but let’s see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: I find it calmer, more mineral, shier than the new 15. More dry white wine (that vinho verde that our Portuguese friends make), chalk, butter, dairy cream, rather coal smoke than peat, hessian, raw wool, wet clothes, fresh asparagus… It’s rather dry, vegetal, pretty austere… Mouth: ah! Big and sharp, extremely mineral and medicinal, we’re almost eating aspirin tablets and leaves while drinking coldish green tea from Yunnan. Then come the lemon, the grapefruits, the brine, the oysters, the walnuts, the bitter apples, that famous ‘salty tang’ (that you’ll find in any brochure from any distillery on Islay), the fresh almonds… I have to say I find this much, much, and I mean much better than the earlier batch. Even if I wouldn’t say it’s any better than the 15. Same territories anyway. Finish: long, leafy, lime-y, and very smoky. Rather less medicinal than expected, though. Comments: I just couldn’t tell you which one I liked best. Well one is cheaper than the other, but who counts? Money’s so cheap a concept… SGP:357 - 90 points.

Good, let’s have one or two indies, and we’re done. This is already ‘a session’.

Laphroaig 14 yo 2000/2015 (55.4%, Riegger's Selection, cask #4126, 102 bottles)

Laphroaig 14 yo 2000/2015 (55.4%, Riegger's Selection, cask #4126, 102 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: perfect. Really. Clean mineral, leafy, almondy, briny, barleyish, kilny, smoky. These notes will be short. With water: water makes it even saltier. Great vintage, great little bottling. Ausgezeichnet! Mouth (neat): perfect again. Smoked pears and lemons, plenty of almonds, hay, smoked almonds, smoked salmon, smoked anything. Fish oil. Almost forgot the lemons. With water: totally great. Fat and sylphlike at the sale time. The smoke is huge. Finish: very long, salty, mineral, lemony, and kippery as Dave B. would say. Comments: more Diane Kruger than Monica Bellucci - I'm only saying this because we have the Festival de Cannes these days. Same score as the others. SGP:368 - 90 points.

Three 90, this might be boring. One more try, with a bit of sherry, perhaps…

Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2014 (61.6%, Signatory Vintage, La Maison du Whisky, refill sherry butt, cask #700356, 554 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2014 (61.6%, Signatory Vintage, La Maison du Whisky, refill sherry butt, cask #700356, 554 bottles) Three stars and a half Black is back. Colour: amber. Nose: chocolate, leather, guns, rocks, fireworks, very strong black tea. This is a working samovar. Careful now… Because it’s very strong. With water: horse saddle, pemmican, pipe tobacco and cigars, stones, matches, humus, 500g of dried porcinis, moss, exhaust fumes… In truth, this is very extreme. Mouth (neat): cream sherry, smoked and mixed with basalt and coal. Plus the bitterest marmalade. Not easy, not easy. With water: it’s become sweeter and rounder, but the leafy and leathery side is still there. Smoky, mineral, matchsticky (apologies), chocolaty… Finish: very long, thick, smoky, leathery, pipe-y… But quite miraculously, the aftertaste is kind of zesty and even fresh. Smoky pu-her tea. Comments: we’ve lost a part of the freshness in the process, coz the sherry was really heavy. Some ultra-whisky for ultras freaks, perhaps. Probably a wee tad too heavy for this sissy of a taster. SGP:467 - 84 points.

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

 

 

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May 17, 2015


Whiskyfun

Malternatives on Sunday,
today Andalusian brandies

Bodegas Malaga Virgen 34 anos ‘1885’ (40%, OB, brandy de Malaga, +/-2014)

Do not expect a large session today, my dear wife made me try a sauce without checking its temperature before and I almost burned my mouth. But we’ve seen worse, I’m feeling better already, and normal service will resume right tomorrow. In the meantime, let’s have too humble Andalusian brandies…

Bodegas Malaga Virgen 34 anos ‘1885’ (40%, OB, brandy de Malaga, +/-2014) It is very difficult to be sure that this is 34 years old, especially given the price (I’ve seen it at 30€, 40€ and 50€). But it’s great to learn that, according to some company pdf, it’s made using a ‘distillation system in copper cask above direct heat from fire wood’. Capice? Colour: brown. Nose: close to some entry-level armagnac, with something stale. Currants, liquid caramel, melted chocolate, profiteroles, with a hottish side as well as hints of aniseed. Pastis and chocolate liqueur, plus a little pipe tobacco. Mouth: very creamy, grassy and caramely. Some sugar feels, which isn’t too nice. A small medicinal side again, with some artimisia beside aniseed, more liquid caramel, a touch of cumin and pepper. Maybe a touch of smoke as well. Very round mouth feel. Finish: sweet and rather dusty. Too much raisins. Mint liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: heavy-ish, a tad rubbery, and, above all, too sugary for my taste. This baby’s supposed to be top range brandy, but it feels tampered with. Now, when chilled, it does go down your throat (under the hot Andalusian sun). SGP:740 - 49 points.

Lepanto 'Solera Gran Reserva' (36%, OB, Gonzalez Byass, brandy de Jerez, +/-2014)

Lepanto 'Solera Gran Reserva' (36%, OB, Gonzalez Byass, brandy de Jerez, +/-2014) Two stars This was matured in ex-Tio Pepe casks, which might be a little scary. Colour: amber. Nose: fresh and very fruity, as if you were nosing muscatel or a fresh PX. So we have raisins everywhere, a little honey and maple syrup, a touch of vanilla, and then more and more sweet wine. More some thick sweet wine than brandy so far, but that’s not unpleasant. Simpler and cleaner than the Malaga, for sure. Mouth: a little light because of the low strength (I’ve seen it at 40% in some countries where, I suppose, you can’t call brandy something that’s lower than that – good call.) But it’s fresh, sweet, extremely raisiny, with a grapy side behind that, and a touch of salt. Also a little praline and chocolate. Finish: short and sweet, on raisins, as expected. A little cumin in the aftertaste. Comments: easy and quite good, this baby won’t do you any harm. By the way, the name comes from the 16th century naval battle where the Spanish armada defeated the Ottoman fleet. The Spaniards often use such references, the cleverest being La Gitana, who are selling a (very good) sherry to the UK under the name Wellington, and another version to France under the name Napoléon. Well done! SGP:730 - 70 points.

 

 

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May 15, 2015


Whiskyfun

Talisker from no oak to a lot

Today we’ll try to do something unusual, that is to say taste more or less the same spirit with various degrees of sweet American oak, from virtually none to heavily recharred/rejuvenated US oak. Not sure this will work, though… As they say, don’t try this at home!

Talisker 6 yo 2008/2014 (46%, Hepburn's Choice, 363 bottles)

Talisker 6 yo 2008/2014 (46%, Hepburn's Choice, 363 bottles) Four stars I agree we could have chosen the official 10 instead as #1, but this ultra-young and mega-pale Talisker (from blending stock, I suppose) should be the closest you can get to ‘the spirit’. Colour: white wine. Say sauvignon-white. Nose: ah yes, we’ve tried several very young Taliskers by DL and affiliated houses, as well as Milroy’s if I remember well. A similarly perfect mixture, with wet dogs (we’re sorry, dogs), soaked grains, farmyard, burning seaweed, brine, caraway, and damp hessian. Milder than an Islay, with more spicy herbs and less smoke. And more green pepper (almost forgot to mention that). Kind of irrefutable. Mouth: brine, sea water, black and white peppers, samphires, lemon juice… and that’s all. I guess 6 years wasn’t enough to make it more complex, but it’s very well-chiselled young spirit. Finish: long, rather on grapefruit and very smoky brine. Comments: excellent, not unlike white mezcal or Haitian clairin. Someone should try to blend mezcal, clairin and Talisker one day. Hey, why me? SGP:358 - 86 points.

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, +/-2014)

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, +/-2014) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: better rounded, and rather more herbal than I remembered. Caraway, cumin… Then more damp chalk and clay, antiseptic, braking fluid, creosote, notes of overripe oranges, bandages, oysters ‘from yesterday’… There is some wildness, and yet it’s clean and precise spirit. Love it. Always loved it. Mouth: amazing. Everything’s perfect. Lemon, wet clothes, raw wool, grains, porridge (not my favourite food, though), pepper, some kind of green curry, seaweed (the stuff our Japanese friends serve as salad, the name escapes me)… Frankly, this is great whisky. Finish: long, salty, clean, and yet complex, and yet finely delimited (what?) Comments: bang for your buck! Having said that, I’m feeling that Talisker’s becoming more medicinal these days. And maybe peatier again. Nice cure, nice cure. SGP:367 - 91 points.

Talisker 'Skye' (45.8%, OB, 2015)

Talisker 'Skye' (45.8%, OB, 2015) Two stars Ahem. I don’t know what to say. You know, you’re feeling like an old 911 lover who came across a 924, a few years back. Ahem… Colour: gold. Nose: oh. More caraway and ginger from the oak, less wet dogs and peat and smoke and seawater and everything. This baby gets nowhere fast after the 10. I don’t know, I really don’t know, I really really don’t know… what to think. Let’s call it a ‘blendish’ Talisker, or a 924 indeed. Mouth: er… Spicy oak, cumin, ginger, other oak spices… I mean, er… I don’t think Talisker lovers will need this. Finish: quite long, oaky/spicy. Comments: dispensable. More spicy oak, less ‘spirit’ (in all meanings of that word), that’s exactly what we do not like much at WF Towers. Yes you may call me an elitist or a snob or a purist or whatever you like. I’ve seen that a part of the blogosphere quite loved it. Well, I’m probably not part of that crew… Now, maybe we should have tried this little Skye before the stunning 10. This is almost squandering heritage, friends. SGP:375 - 76 points.

Talisker 'Storm' (45.8%, OB, +/-2014)

Talisker 'Storm' (45.8%, OB, +/-2014) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: more like it. Fresher, cleaner, more maritime, I find this closer to the 10 than to the ‘Skye’. Sure there are pencil shavings, but at least there aren’t any excessive oak spices. I also enjoy these mangos, papayas, vanilla-ed fruit deserts… Mouth: yeah, it’s a rounder ten, with more body, less complexity, more easiness… In a way, it’s a more commercial ten, whatever that means. An easier drop, a bit thicker, a little less complex, but yeah, I find it very very good. And it should go well on ice cream! Finish: long, Taliskery, briny… The vanilla never gets in the way, no mean feat. Comments: I prefer the 10, but I find this rather excellent. Kills the ‘Skye’ like Mayweather killed Pacquiao. SGP:367 - 87 points.

Talisker 'Dark Storm' (45.8%, OB, +/-2014)

Talisker 'Dark Storm' (45.8%, OB, +/-2014) Three stars and a halfBecause, you see, we must. Colour: deep gold (agreed, that’s scary). Nose: to tell you the truth, I do not find many differences between the Storm and the Dark Storm. The colour is darker, but the whisky’s similar. Maybe a little more pencil shavings? Bread crust? Tea? Oranges, perhaps? Mouth: same feelings. A little more body, thickness, spicy oak, also more spices, ginger, caraway… Cumin, pepper, aquavit… I think the Storm was better chiselled, but this is good, no doubt. Finish: long, but oaky spices are in the front. Comments: one of the hardest sessions I ever did. It only strengthened my feelings, that is to say that oak is whisky’s best friend, and its worst enemy. SGP:367 - 84 points.

Conclusion: I’m about to start a Talisker 10 Appreciation Society! And I think it would be nice that the very distinguished owners would rather launch a 'natural' youngster with an age statement. Even 5 or 6 would do, see the Hepburn!

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

 

 

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