Google Whisky Fun by Serge and Angus, blog, reviews and tasting notes since 2002
Whiskyfun Malt Madness Malt Maniacs
 

Serge whiskyfun

 

Whiskies 16,068
Other spirits 2,183
Angus 1,323

Warning

....

Facebook Twitter Logo

Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (94)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
22)
Banff (5
2)
Ben Nevis (202)
Ben Wyvis
(3)
Benriach (1
92)
Benrinnes (
102)
Benromach (
71)
Bladnoch (
84)
Blair Athol (
8
9)
Bowmore (5
55)
Braes of Glenlivet (4
8)
Brora (1
34)
Bruichladdich (309)
Bunnahabhain (3
61)

Dailuaine (70)
Dallas Dhu (41)
Dalmore (1
26)
Dalwhinnie (38)
Deanston (
51)
Dufftown (5
5)

Edradour (88)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
78)
Laphroaig (4
70)
Ledaig (1
35)
Linkwood (1
70)
Littlemill (1
24)
Loch Lomond (
78)
Lochside (70)
Longmorn (2
31)
Longrow (7
6)

Macallan (311)
Macduff (
89)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
47)
Millburn (2
4)
Miltonduff (
105)
Mortlach (206)
Mosstowie (2
4)
Scapa (51)
Speyburn (
44)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (3
94)
St-Magdalene (5
4)
Strathisla (
106)
Strathmill (
41)

 
 
Pete and Jack



2020
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

2019
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2018
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2017
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2016
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2015
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2014
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1- 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2013
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2012
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2011
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2010
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2009
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2008
Music Awards
December
1 - 2 - 3
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2007
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2 - 3
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
Feis Ile
Special
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2006
Music Awards
December 1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2 - 3
September
1 - 2
August
1 - 2
July
1 - 2
June 1 - 2
Feis Ile
Special
May
1 - 2
April
1 - 2
March
1 - 2
February
1 - 2
January 1
- 2

2005
Music Awards
December 1 - 2
November 1 - 2
October
1- 2
September
1 - 2
August
1 - 2
July
1 - 2
June
1 - 2
Feis Ile
Special
May
1 - 2
April
1 - 2
March
1 - 2
February
1 - 2
January
1 - 2

2004
December 1 - 2
November 1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September
1
August
1
July
1
June
1
May
1
April 1
March 1
February
1
January
1

No archives for 2002-2003

 
Malt maniacs goodies
 

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'

   
Leave feedback
   

Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
21

 
Whiskyfun

Scotch Legal Announcement

 
 

January 23, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Allt-A-Bhainne
and Ben Nevis
I didn't write 'versus Ben Nevis' because, well, I'm sure you can guess. I know we all make jokes about Allt-A-Bhainne, and I have to say, that silly official 40% thing they put out didn't help matters. It remains one of only a tiny pod of distilleries I'm waiting to find something truly brilliant from. But then again, it was built as an industrial blending fodder machine in the mid-1970s, so you cannot expect too much.

 

Allt-A-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (51.3%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 241 bottles)

Allt-A-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (51.3%, Watt Whisky, bourbon hogshead, 241 bottles)
One of Kate and Mark's recent efforts. What is lockdown like in Campbeltown I wonder? Has anyone told them? ;-) Colour: gold. Nose: clean, fresh and very cereal dominated. There is a slightly dry and brittle, malty backbone which feels a notch more austere than some of the more opulent Speysiders about. Beyond that I find dried banana chips, a tiny hint of lavender and something like freshly laundered fabrics. With water: shoe polish, new leather, vase water, chlorophyll. Good and certainly not boring. Mouth: pretty good. Nicely balanced arrival showing peppery warmth with runny honey on cornflakes, soda bread, mead and a wee camphor and pollen touches. With water: I wouldn't say it gets better with water but perhaps a little more waxy, oily and lactic with hints of Greek yoghurt, bitter lemon and more breakfast cereals. Actually, perhaps I do prefer it a bit with H2O. Finish: medium, with plasticine, cooked grains, breads, more fabrics, ink and mineral oils. Comments: At times a little funny, but it's actually a rather charismatic, if unassuming, wee dram. I could quite easily sip a couple of a night. What's more, it's entirely possible I've just found my favourite ever Allt-A-Bhainne.
SGP: 451 - 85 points.

 

 

Allt-A-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (52.4%, Whisky Nerds, cask #102589, barrel, 114 bottles)

Allt-A-Bhainne 23 yo 1997/2020 (52.4%, Whisky Nerds, cask #102589, barrel, 114 bottles)
A barrel this time as opposed to a hogshead, should we expect greater wood influence? Colour: deep gold. Nose: indeed, more polish, sandalwood, pine resin, workshops, oily rags and a bit more of a peppery and camphor edge up front. With water: some more opulent fruit qualities now, green fruits and fruit salad juices along with more familiar acrylic and clay notes. Mouth: it's very similar in structure in that you feel, underneath, it's the barley that dominates rather than the fruits. Here though, you have a lot more oak influence, but it is clean and spicy with some preserved and crystallised fruits, wood saps and putty. Some brown bread too. Very good. With water: firm spices, saps, resins, oils, some rather herbal qualities now too. More mineral oils and camphor. Finish: medium, sappy, spicy, sweeter, some golden syrup and spiced oatmeal flapjack. Comments: The cask did a lot of heavy lifting here, but then I suspect Allt-A-Bhainne is the kind of distillate that likes a bit of hot stave action. The key here is that the wood was clean and rather bright. Kate and Mark, I'll send you a certificate to confirm that you had bottled my favourite ever Allt-A-Bhainne for at least 10 minutes.
SGP: 551 - 87 points.

 

 

Over to Fort William…

 

 

Ben Nevis 24 yo 1996/2020 (52.1%, Berry Brothers for Royal Mile Whiskies, cask #1196, refill sherry butt / 1st fill oloroso butt)

Ben Nevis 24 yo 1996/2020 (52.1%, Berry Brothers for Royal Mile Whiskies, cask #1196, refill sherry butt / 1st fill oloroso butt)
Half of this cask was already bottled at 22yo back in 2018 and this is the remaining half with some further age. I remember trying the first bottling at the time and being impressed, but I didn't record any notes. Apparently this half has been re-racked into a fresh oloroso sherry butt… Colour: pale gold. Nose: typically waxy and honeyed but also rather bready and richly malty, which is not something I always find in these 96 Ben Nevis. Some baked bananas, porridge sweetened with honey and a rather floral waxiness. With water: canvass, chalk, soft pepperiness, crushed aspirin and muesli studded with dried fruits. Lighter in style overall. Mouth: typically juicy, exotically fruity and lightly herbal. This is certainly a lighter example in terms of body and power, but the fruits themselves are beautifully concentrated and verging on overripe in a very pleasing way. Lots of guava, papaya and grapefruit. Some hessian and olive oil too. With water: the texture remains fleet footed and on the lighter side, also the overt fruitiness kind of disappears a bit and instead there's bitter herbs, minerals, chalk, citrus piths and crisp, oily cereal tones. Finish: good length, fresh herbs, cereals, soft waxes and lemon peel. Comments: Extremely good and very fine mature Ben Nevis, it just lacks a little extra power here and there and the fruits were beautiful but a bit too momentary. I think it works better without water in my view.
SGP: 561 - 89 points.

 

 

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (52.1%, The Whisky Exchange Single Casks, cask #1709, hogshead, 205 bottles)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (52.1%, The Whisky Exchange Single Casks, cask #1709, hogshead, 205 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: drier, more peppery and a little bit punchier on the nose. Canvass, dry cereals, chalk, clay, light medical touches and a rather raw barley character. There's a nice sense of poise and sharpness here. With water: greener and leafier, with impressions of leaf mulch, wet moss and a rather brusque, gravelly minerality. Also some nice olive oil notes coming through. Mouth: excellent! Punchy, peppery, waxy, mineral, oily, camphor, a wee thread of pulpy exotic fruit. Simple, direct and terrifically assertive with clear distillery character. With water: gets more peppery, spicier, drier and the waxiness becomes more brittle and drying. Big, chunky cereal tones, dried banana chips and some herbal notes. Finish: long, waxy, more olive oil, some breads, camphor and medicinal touches. Comments: What's quite fascinating is how they are identical strengths but give quite divergent impressions of texture and body. This one feels more cohesive all the way through and carries itself with a notch more assertion and power.
SGP: 562 - 90 points.

 

 

 

 

January 22, 2021


Whiskyfun

Rare Tastings, two opposite Knockdhu

All right, Knockdhu isn't quite rare but it's now almost always christened AnCnoc instead, because of Knockando I believe. If memory serves me right…

Knockdhu 2013/2020 (60%, Whisky Is The Limit, first fill Pomerol barrique, cask #51)

Knockdhu 2013/2020 (60%, Whisky Is The Limit, first fill Pomerol barrique, cask #51) Four stars
I don't think I've had any Pomerol whisky since some early Murray McDavid or Bruichladdich, or Arran, not even sure about that. I seem to remember there had been a 'Laddie finished in Le Pin. Crazy idea. Oh and didn't Signatory have a pink Pomerolled Port Ellen? Colour: pink indeed, or rather apricot. Or smoked salmon. Nose: STR? No big merloty aromas, no whacky raspberries or mulberries, rather some pastries, clafoutis, cassata and orange blossom. Makrouts and other delicious oriental pastries. So far, so good, we may start to think about unfastening our seatbelts… With water: success (I've never thought I'd ever write that about a Pomerol finish). Cherry cake, dough, focaccia? No cassis or geranium leaves, no boisterous French oak either. What did they do to the barrique? (tell me, no one's listening…) Mouth (neat): big and probably a tad aggressive at this strength, but some kind of balance seems to have been achieved, around blood oranges and marmalade. Pomerol, blood oranges, capeesh? With water: pretty good! To be honest the pink colour was very bad news, but it looks like things went smoothly. Cakes, a few fruit drops, some cloves. Finish: medium, with, indeed, a wee feeling of Kriek beer. Pepper and big caraway in the aftertaste. Comments: still a little crazy but looks like they got away with this set-up and that they made it out. Madre de dios, a Pomerol finish!
SGP:661 - 85 points.

Let's find an older one . Really, they don't exactly give 'Knockdhu' away with coupons these days...

Knockdhu 10 yo 2006/2017 (56.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch)

Knockdhu 10 yo 2006/2017 (56.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch) Four stars
A rather large small batch, assembled out of three bourbon hogsheads. Colour: white wine. Nose: typical unoaken fresh Cadenhead, all on sweet bonbons and tart fruits. Granny smith, starfruit, tangerines, a little vanilla, finger biscuits, then a little more fatness, buttercream, custard… What's really rather fantastic is all these tangerines, it is getting very tangerine-y over time. With water: husk and grist. Well, ground malted barley. The fruits are gone. Mouth (neat): all natural malt whisky! Tart fruits once again, a hint of wood smoke (remember, Scotch = smoke in popular beliefs), grapefruit skins, peach skins… Now it feels even more than 56.5%, so… With water: very good, very much natural indeed, with good fresh tart fruits and good grass (I mean…) plus good fresh bread. The tangerines come back to haunt you after only a few seconds. Tangerines covered with honey. Finish: rather long, with a herbal quality to it this time. I seem to detect oregano and perhaps borage flowers. I'm not joking. Comments: I'm rather impressed with this perfect wee Knockdhu au naturel. I should have tried it earlier instead of binge-bathing in Macallan. Ooh that nightmare…
SGP:551 - 87 points.

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

 

January 21, 2021


Whiskyfun

The return of 1970s Ardbeg

We cannot survive without a few Ardbegs every once in a while, even if the great times of the 1970s distillates are now long gone. As they say in social media, those were the days… But let's see what we have…

Ardbeg 10 yo (46%, OB, rotation 2003, for duty free, 1 litre)

Ardbeg 10 yo (46%, OB, rotation 2003, for duty free, 1 litre) Five stars
Most probably some early 'Allied' distillate, made by the Laphroaig crew to keep the equipment fit while the distillery was virtually closed. Colour: white wine. Nose: a very medicinal Ardbeg, with fairly huge whiffs of vaseline gauze and tarred bandages at fist nosing, with something slightly musty and some tarry ropes, old hessian bags, fisherman's boat, petrol… All that is very older-Ardbeg indeed in my book. Tends to become cleaner then, almost lighter, and rather all on lime, with a little beach sand and chalk. One green olive too, brine… All in all this is brilliant. Mouth: a little gentler, perhaps, grassier and even more on lemon (drops) for a short while, but the smoke's unleashed then, with rather huge tarry notes, this feeling of eating the content of an ashtray, and just quite a lot of natural rubber, with a Talisker-like pepper in the background. This sure hasn't much to do with the current -albeit just as excellent – Ardbeg Tens, which are less fat and deep. Finish: rather long and fat indeed, with more rubber. Also tar, kippers, and salty olives. Comments: not the 1970s, but… stay tuned…
SGP:367 - 90 points.

Ardbeg 26 yo 1993 (49%, Quaich Bar Singapore, The Islay Giants, 257 bottles, +/-2020)

Ardbeg 26 yo 1993 (49%, Quaich Bar Singapore, The Islay Giants, 257 bottles, +/-2020) Five stars
This one's dedicated to the friends of Quaich Bar, which is obviously pretty charming and a rather thoughtful touch. Now the whisky might be a little more brutal… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: really very different, as I'm rather finding a lot of raw wool at first, mud, seawater, kelp, then lanoline, Woolite, brake fluid, engine oil, waxed papers, then rather cut hay and grass… In short almost no citrus this time, rather pretty huge notes of 'a walk on a beach on Islay'. Your choice. It's perhaps also a little more reminiscent of the 1970s. Mouth: sweet and sour at first, with quite a lot of smoked water, sour apples, seawater, almond paste, as well as pieces of tangerine and even oranges. Orange drops, Fanta. Some walnuts would join the dance later on, a little mustard too, which, together with the saltiness, would then make you think of a good bone-dry manzanilla. No sweetness of fruit left whatsoever after two or four minutes. Remains pretty 'lanoline-y'. Finish: long and salty, waxier too. Brine, oregano, something chalky again. Grapefruits are back in the aftertaste, with a later onset of granny smith apples. There's even a drop of honey! Comments: not quite an instant winner but give it a little time and it would become splendidly complex. Class Ardbeg, reminiscent of the 1970s indeed.
SGP:456 - 92 points.

Everything goes well so far, no?

Ardbeg 22 yo 1998/2020 (56.5%, OB, Rare Cask for Benjamin Tan, second fill oloroso butt, cask #50, 500 bottles)

Ardbeg 22 yo 1998/2020 (56.5%, OB, Rare Cask for Benjamin Tan, second fill oloroso butt, cask #50, 500 bottles) Five stars
A very interesting bottling, first matured in refill bourbon for six years, then transferred to sherry for some further sixteen years of maturation. In other words, this baby started its life as a potential Uigeadail, but luckily, it wasn't disgorged and went on aging quietly in warehouse #3, at the Distillery. Well that's what I understand. Colour: mahogany. Nose: you're instantly reminded of some kind of smoky coffee, then metal polish, then pipe tobacco, then old copper kettles. Umami's hovering over all this and we cannot wait to add water. Neither can we not think of the first Uigeadails indeed, which stormed Whiskydom when they came out. With water: it's like a sea turtle, it swims better than it walks. Old coal stove, cocoa, black cigars, the tiniest drop of acetone ever, bitter oranges aplenty, and this thing that's always brilliant, 'new electronics'. Vegetal extracts are also showing up, soy sauce, umami sauce indeed… Mouth (neat): very focused, compact, almost pungent. Heavy walnut cordial, tart lemon juice, cocoa, ground coffee, Worcester sauce and 'sucking an old penny'. Which no one should do, naturally. With water: smoked rancio, walnuts in all their possible forms, bone-dry armagnac, chocolate and coffee, then meaty, malty and vegetal extracts and sauces. Maggi, Kikkoman, Bovril… Oh and have I mentioned smoke? Finish: very long, not stuffy – not light either – with a blend of smoked tea with all those yeasty sauces and extracts we've mentioned before. Rather some nutmeg in the aftertaste. Comments: it's a thrill to compare the Quaich and this one, for they are so different and yet remain within the same family. Same super-high quality in my book.
SGP:367 - 92 points.

Since we were mentioning the 1970s, here's a *new* one!

Ardbeg 40 yo 1979/2020 (51.5%, Signatory Vintage for Kirsch Import, bourbon barrel, cask #9859, 24 bottles)

Ardbeg 40 yo 1979/2020 (51.5%, Signatory Vintage for Kirsch Import, bourbon barrel, cask #9859, 24 bottles) Five stars
There were so few bottles of this that I believe this expression flew right under the chatterati's radars when it came out last year. But we have it , he-he… Possibly the oldest Ardbeg ever bottled. Good, the OB 1965 was 40 too if I'm not mistaken, but it wasn't that great, was it.  And this is quite a (well-deserved) coup for Kirsch Import. Not sure if that was all what was remaining in the barrel having said that, but that's very possible. Colour: gold. Nose: it went towards piney aromas, clearly. Lovely on the nose, the palate 'might' be more problematic then, but one thing at a time. So I would mention teak oil, sauna essences, then rather Barbour grease, old embrocations, camphor, artemisia, drawing gum, things like that. Some leather polish too, spearmint cordial, acacia gum… It's gathered many tinier aromas throughout the years, mainly ones that aren't very common in everyday life. Now, we agree the concepts of Ardbeg 40 and everyday life do not quite fit. With water: no changes. Perhaps a little more hessian – hessian's certainly not unseen in old Ardbeg, and some orange-scented candles. And dry almond paste, which is rather Ardbeggy too. Mouth (neat): a miracle. It is piney and woody, acetone-y, varnishy, even pretty bitter, but for some reason all that remained under control and very well-mannered. There's a very lovely dustiness, reminiscent of an old library – or there, of an old warehouse – then many notes of old-school middle-European herbal drinks. Underberg, Jäger, Unicum, Fernet Branca, Cynar… All that without one single microgram of sugar, rather with a big waxiness. Paraffin. Some lemon keeping it tight and bright, that's a miracle too. With water (we're trembling…):  ah, no, on the contrary, lemon and mint take over, this is almost 'young'. The smokiness gets also more obvious, while it wasn't before, while it's also getting more medicinal again. Cough medicine, also some unexpected notes of apple liqueur, which would keep the tension on. Menthol and pine resin do that too, obviously. Finish: unexpectedly long, tight, not fragile at all, and never too dry. Menthol in apple liqueur, with a smoky twist. More or less that. Only the aftertaste is a little 'oaky' as such. Comments: two miracles here. First the fact that it was so fresh, and second, the fact that I've also got a sister cask, #9861. But I just do not know for whom that one was bottled. Can you help?
SGP:474 - 91 points.

Yeah well I'm afraid we've been flying a little high. But too high? Never!

(Merci Benjamin, Des and KC)

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

 

January 20, 2021


Whiskyfun

Two Kornog, one being very special to WF

Yeah well, all whisky enthusiasts do own casks, do they not? For example, I used to own a barrel of Kornog, Glann ar Mor's Longrow if you like. Kornog's becoming cult by the way. The question is, what do you do once your casks are mature ? Well, the good news is that I happen to know that strange entity named 'The Whisky Sponge', and that we managed to find a good deal. I would transfer the property of my cask to the Sponge, I would get back a few cases for my personal consumption (as a drink, as antifreeze, as a window cleaner etc.), I would make sure that £30 out of each bottle that's sold to the public would go to Parkinson's UK to further commemorate the life and works of the great late Michael Jackson, the best whisky writer there ever was, and lastly, we would declare that that very special Kornog would be bottled to celebrate the 18 years, 4 months and 7 days of whiskyfun.com. Sounds good, no?


Our friend Jean, founder of Glann ar Mor
and Kornog. The distillery, which had been
operational since 2005, has just been
sold to Maison Villevert.

So we did it, and here's my tasting note, right after a solid sparring partner. Excuse me? No, please do not expect a score, we won't stoop to that… But first, our sparring partner…

Kornog 2006/2020 (59.5%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, France, bourbon barrel, cask #12101, 124 bottles)

Kornog 2006/2020 (59.5%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, France, bourbon barrel, cask #12101, 124 bottles) Five stars
It's good that they would have had one of those rare Kornogs from Brittany within this rather posh – some would say high-brow – range. Kornog's malt is peated to some rather Ardbeggian 40ppm, and actually pretty rare. Colour: gold. Nose: soft and oily at first, with some sunflower oil and some homemade custard at first, then a perfectly integrated and pretty olive-y second breath. I know they are very proud of this one at LMDW and that someone there whom I totally trust said it was reminiscent of Lagavulin, but I'd rather say well-matured, 20 yo ex-bourbon Caol Ila. But they are right, obviously, as they are the pros. I mean it. With water: some menthol and aniseed coming out! Crushed sardines too, remember this was matured on a shore indeed. Mouth (neat): superb, really. Huge arrival, very punchy, warming, with good fatness and yet a zesty, lemony feel. A thin blade in a thick sheath. Touches of natural vanilla, sour oranges, a lot of seawater, olives, oysters, ashes… I insist, Coal Ila! But first and foremost it is Kornog (sorry if I sound like a brochure). What a shame and a pity that they're making so little Kornog (yes, same with Longrow, probably a matter of having to clean up the pipes all the time and all that)… With water: oh lovely, wee touches of oregano and tarragon that would go so well with the lemon, the oysters, and the rather huge smokiness that are inside. Finish: long, exceptionally well balanced, zesty and fat once again. Salty ashes and no dullish fruits, that's well-aged C.I. indeed. Comments: I have to confess it's the first time I'm trying a really well-aged Kornog. I've tried many young ones, but I've never monitored my own either. So a total surprise here, I'm just a wee tad sad because the Distillery just changed hands. Truly great work Jean, I know that just like yours truly, you'll never retire ;-).
SGP:557 - 90 points.

And so, our own, kind of. It's actually a little older, as it was distilled in 2005. In fact, it is the oldest Kornog - and Glann ar Mor for that matter - that's ever been bottled. It's to be remembered that beyond what's clearly local, such as the warehouses, they've done this right as anyone should, so as the best Scots used to do it, that is to say with proper worm tubs, pot-stills, live flames, proper yeast, perfect washbacks and all that. No corners were cut, no Holstein was used, and no pinot noir casks were ever butchered, if you see what I mean. But let's proceed…

Kornog 15 yo 2005/2020 '18 years 4 months and 7 days of whiskyfun' (50.4%, WhiskySponge, France, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 149 bottles)

Kornog 15 yo 2005/2020 '18 years 4 months and 7 days of whiskyfun' (50.4%, WhiskySponge, France, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 149 bottles) Five stars
Remember, £30 per bottle go straight to Parkinson's UK, in memory of the late Michael Jackson, the greatest whisky writer of all times. This is the first time I'm properly tasting 'my cask', or, should I say, 'my ex-cask'. Colour: light gold. Nose: obviously rather similar, but it's somewhat firmer, probably more austere, with more vegetal notes (white asparagus) and more petroly aromas. A little more leather too, tobacco and mustard, and this manzanilla-quality that comes a little unexpected since this is was a fresh bb barrel. With water: m.a.n.z.a.n.i.l.l.a. Really. Possibly the influence of the sea, as they have in Sanlucar. Yeah I know that's controversial but this wee whisky is clearly very coastal. Mouth (neat): very mature, salty, zesty, with a few bitterish notes around green tea, ashes, green walnuts and artichokes. But this time I've got the papers in my hands and I can solemnly swear to Vishnu that it wasn't a manzanilla butt. Oh and I've seen the barrel in real life, around the time when it was filled, so please believe me. With water: feels older than 15 for sure, and yet it's totally bright, wonderfully bitter (green walnuts, mustard and manzanilla indeed) and integrally dry and peaty. Finish: long, salty, very manzanilla-y indeed. Comments: I hereby certify that this was a honest and faithful description of this little whisky. As I said, I shan't score it, but I shall drink the remaining drops (well, bottles) to the memory of Michael Jackson. Please friends, keep mentioning M.J. to the new enthusiasts, so that he's never forgotten (and screw the diminutive bearded Panama-wearing sexist braggart who's not even half the man that M.J. was). There, thank you.
SGP:367


Sadly, there aren't too many of these bottles, so they will be sold via a ballot, full details of which you can find here, should you wish to enter. Remember £30 goes to Parkinson's UK. Who's mad enough to actually import a cask of malt whisky from France to the U.K. while Brexit's in motion? The Sponge! Adios, do well!

kornog
-Serge


Amazing MoMa-quality artwork by the WhiskySponge team. The future of whisky design has arrived! >>
 
 

January 19, 2021


Whiskyfun

STAY TUNED!

Tomorrow we'll celebbrate Whiskyfun's 18 years, 4 months and 7 days right here and do something we've never done before. Something that we may well never do again...

 

A 3-vertical of new old indie Jura

There's been a good bunch of early 1990s indie (probably ex-SV) Juras around for quite a few months. These batches are always either good or interesting, provided no official entity has ever decided to murder them with any Mathusalem sherry or multiple wood madness. Let's have a very short verticale…

Isle of Jura 28 yo 1992/2020 (49.7%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon barrel, 98 bottles)

Isle of Jura 28 yo 1992/2020 (49.7%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon barrel, 98 bottles) Four stars
A micro-bottling bearing a very Moony label. A good sign methinks… Colour: gold. Nose: I remember. Bidis, patchouli, camphor, pink pepper and old rose petals, a very hippy combo. All we're missing is Jefferson Airplane or Country Joe McDonald. Perhaps not Country Joe. Some fine woody notes start to rise to our nostrils after two minutes, fresh-sawn teak, or just pinewood. I always enjoy oak when it's become pine-y, same with rums or even tequilas, not saying I'm not a little unorthodox here. Mouth: more pine-y flavours, some oddish herbal notes (crunching fir needles), and some notes of small bananas covered with pomegranate syrup. I am not joking. Some liquid caramel too. Finish: rather medium, oaky, spicier. Huge cloves and cinnamon. Comments: I know quite some friends are wondering why I'm not totally ecstatic about these batches and wouldn't light candles and sing awe mantras for seven hours between two sips. I would answer 'because they're all over the place and are lacking coherence'. And that I don't have to defend myself to you and nobody, there. Well really!
SGP:552 - 86 points.

Isle of Jura 29 yo 1991/2020 (42%, Lady of the Glen, cask #1843, 214 bottles)

Isle of Jura 29 yo 1991/2020 (42%, Lady of the Glen, cask #1843, 214 bottles) Four stars
I believe Lady of the Glen have recently upped their game, but as always, that's only a personal feeling. These 42% vol. here are natural, as this was bottled at cask strength indeed. Colour: light gold. Nose: this one's rather tropical. One mustn't forget that they have palm trees in front of the distillery! Preserved pineapples, coconut wine, Australian chardonnay (nothing wrong with that, mind you), buttercream, mango ice-cream, crème de menthe… That's all a lovely cocktail, seemingly refreshing and, well, sexy. Okay, glamorous. Let's only hope the palate won't be, say flabby. Mouth: no it's not. When some malts are lighter like this you sometimes find notes of old grain whisky – old Cameronbridge, for example – with due coconut et al., but balance and, first and foremost, tightness and tension were preserved in this case. Coconut wine, mint cordial, Bellini (champagne and peach coulis)… That's all delicate and perhaps a tad fragile, but it would just work. I would add 'phew!' Finish: medium, yet fresh. Lovely fruits and Timut pepper. Comments: I believe this one's miraculously fresh and well balanced. I also believe you'd be forgiven for thinking this was an old pure pot still Irish from Midleton's. Seriously.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

No funky Juraness in sight this far, but this wee session ain't over yet…

Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (49.7%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 217 bottles)

Jura 30 yo 1990/2020 (49.7%, WhiskySponge, refill hogshead, 217 bottles) Five stars
A previous 'Patersponge' bottling by the inenarrable Sponge had been excellent, so statistically, this one should be pretty good too. Could be that 1990 was a better vintage, even if I remember the distillery's official 1990/2005 had been as bad as a Mélenchon speech (enough with US or Brit politics, on to the French!) As for the label on this Sponge bottling, I say buy a bottle, put it next to the TV set and no need for any German shepherds or alarms at home anymore, all burglars and robbers will leave instantly anyway. Colour: light gold. Nose: different for sure, as this one's got the trademark oils and greases that were not to be found in the others. Castor oil, Connolly polish, new magazine, shoe polish, razorfish… Yes, razorfish. Also cut cactus, grandma's linoleum and unusual spirits, not the least of which would be white slivovitz. Mouth: it sure is the most Jura-y of them all. Much drier, with some earthy mushrooms, inks, dusts, then orange skins, geneever, stout, 'chewing on your Partagas', Listerine, cod oil… This is a funkier Jura for sure, but on the other hand it's probably rather intellectual. I mean, stuff that you like because they're a little difficult, hence rewarding. See what I mean? Like reading Dostoyevsky. Finish: long, dry, earthy. The thing is, there's also an Old-Clynelish quality to this juice, which we just couldn't reject. Some saltiness in the aftertaste, as well as a glutamate-y echo. Comments: the finish was even more convincing than what happened before. Scores went like 86, 87, 89, 90.
SGP:362 - 90 points.

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

 

January 18, 2021


Whiskyfun

Aberlour by three

After many whiskies from the rest of the world – I'm afraid we might remain a little Scotch-centric for a little longer – let's resume normal service, starting with the letter 'A'. And why Not?

Aberlour 2009/2019 (40%, OB, White Oak)

Aberlour 2009/2019 (40%, OB, White Oak) Two stars
Given the meagre strength here, I suppose this will rather be or aperitif-quality. Colour: light gold. Nose: rather on porridge, grist, apple compote, gooseberries and just oak vanillin. This is a light, pleasant, undemanding nose that would display a lot of fresh barley as well, before fading away… Mouth: this is where it's getting a little more difficult. The oak strikes first while the body's a little too weak to keep up. Violet sweets, sawdust, some nutmeg... It tends to become bitter and just rather unpleasant. A little bizarre, but we've often noticed that whiskies need higher voltages to be able to sustain this kind of oaken profile. Finish: short, bitter, dry, oaky. Comments: I remember last time I visited the distillery – but that was a long time ago – you could fill your own bottle from either a sherry or a bourbon cask. The bourbon used to be splendid and, at that time, very unusual as Aberlour was all about sherry. But this time, American oak doesn't do much good, in my opinion, but maybe is the newer batch, the 2010, better.
SGP:361 - 70 points.

Let's find a sherried youngster…

Aberlour 8 yo 2012/2020 (58.5%, Whisky Is The Limit, 1st fill oloroso quarter cask, cask #800916, 225 bottles)

Aberlour 8 yo 2012/2020 (58.5%, Whisky Is The Limit, 1st fill oloroso quarter cask, cask #800916, 225 bottles) Four stars
This one straight from Switzerland. According to the colour and since it was first fill, I suppose the quarter cask had been seasoned with fino. Colour: gold. Nose: panettone, mead, fresh pollen and gingerbread, that always works in my book. Kougelhopf. With water: huge saponification happening here, let's wait… Well, some sawdust comes through, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, a touch of horseradish, a little tobacco… (box of cigarillos)… Mouth (neat): very spicy. Fresh oak, turmeric and ginger, mustard, that's new(ish) oak. And indeed, it could have been fino. Indeed, this little best was limitless as far as oak spices were concerned. With water: in general, I believe reduction tends to make whisky oakier, but that's what does not happen this time, as I tend to believe it became a little rounder, with more gingerbread and spicy Jaffa cakes. A little gentler. Finish: the best part for once, with more gingerbread, icing, marmalade, a lot of juniper, rather a lot of cinnamon, all that for a long time. Comments: probably a little extreme, with a feeling of heavy Russian tea at times. A strong boy.
SGP:371 - 85 points.

Aberlour 'A'bunadh' batch #65 (59.5%, OB, 2019)

Aberlour 'A'bunadh' batch #65 (59.5%, OB, 2019) Four stars
Pure oloroso-y Aberlour and one of the batches I haven't tried yet. Last year's #66 had been pretty excellent in my book (WF 87). Colour: A'bunadh's colour is getting lighter every year, is it not? Nose: it's really funny to have this one after the bone-dry limitless expression, as this one is much rounder, much more on butterscotch, Mars bars, roasted raisins, and, well, millionaire shortbread. Very nice, as they say in whisky forums. I mean, fora. With water: Guinness (apologies, Pernod) and drops of beef sauce, Bovril… Now it's rather less meaty than early batches, if I remember well. Mouth (neat): tannins and spices aren't absent here either, but it's still more on cakes, chocolate, peanut butter, maple syrup… With water: same comments. Some orangey notes too, curaçao… Finish: rather long and, once again, rounder and probably a little easier than the biggish WITL. Comments: the style of A'bunadh is evolving, becoming more modern, that is to say with an oak that came rather more to the front, but it's still an ausgezeichnet dram, as they say in Marbella, not too far from Jerez (S., please…).
SGP:461 - 85 points.

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

 

January 17, 2021


Whiskyfun

More rums and hopefully more malternatives

It was a great session last week, I doubt we could fly as high on this Sunday. Figuratively (well not that figuratively). Apéritif please!

Santa Teresa 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2020)

Santa Teresa 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Venezuela, +/-2020) Two stars
The lazy word 'reserva', on any bottle of booze, is always a little scary and sometimes even bad news. Now, Venezuela needs our support for sure. Colour: gold. Nose: it's a gentle, easy, rather subtle nose, on fresh-broken branches, fruit peelings, white asparagus, and rather vanilla yoghurt than full-blown vanillin. Some lovely floral notes too, geranium, wisteria… Really, a very nice surprise, but as always with these ranges, only the palate will really tell… Mouth: it is really very light, you'd almost believe this is Absolut Sugarcane. Grasses and sugar syrup I would say, not much else. The good news is that it's not been dosed-up in any way (well, as far as I can tell). Very, very light rum. Rather pleasant notes of bananas and apples coming out after thirty seconds. Finish: extremely short, thus very clean. Comments: I find this honest, if really too light. Like it better than that other Venezuelan oddity, Diplomatico a.k.a. 'Diplo'.
SGP:430 - 75 points.

Let's do one of the heavies…

East London Liquor Company 'Navy Strength Rum' (57%, OB, Guyana, +/-2018)

East London Liquor Company 'Navy Strength Rum' (57%, OB, Guyana, +/-2018)
I suppose I should have tried this one before Brexit, but there. It's the kind of stuff you could only find at The Whisky Exchange anyway. Said to be three years old, let's only hope they haven't added any sugary sauces right when filling the casks, as I believe they often do at Diamond. Colour: gold. Nose: light, without much Demerara power and aroma, and rather in the style of a light Cuban, really. Things may change once water's been added. With water: nope, they do not. Mouth (neat): it's okay, simple rum, with some caramel, burnt wood, molasses, vanillin and some grass. Okay. With water: a notch better, since some pineapple's coming through. But it remains rather empty and soulless. Finish: short. Sugar, caramel. Comments: really very 'Cuban' – many Cubans are better though - and frankly a little disappointing. For cocktails only, I suppose.
SGP:430 - 65 points.

Demerara!...

Port Mourant 2006 (40%, OB, Guyana, +/-2019)

Port Mourant 2006 (40%, OB, Guyana, +/-2019) Three stars
Branded El Dorado. At some miserable 40% vol., will they get away with… murder? I like how Master of Malts describe this, 'a satisfyingly dumpy bottle'. The fine art of deeply conscient copywriting… Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh, no! I mean, it's absolutely lovely, which makes the fact that they've murder… I mean, bottled this at 40% vol. even more excruciating. Roses, litchi, gewurztraminer, diesel oil, pineapples, liquorice, musk, liquorice allsorts, earl grey, bergamot, Chinese noodle soup, old pack of cigarettes, old raisins in an old tin box, lovage, charcoal… I mean, really, wow, this is fantastic! But let's pray to sweet Vishnu… Murder or not? Mouth: yes and no. Sure they are assassins, but this reminds me of some older bottlings by Macallan, or there, Gordon & MacPhail, many made us cry because of the low strengths, but that was because the juices were absolutely stunning. Same here, I believe it's a wonderful rum (same flavours as on the nose, there), it's just that it's weak and feeble. No power and no steam whatsoever on the palate. Finish: almost none, which doesn't happen often with Port Mourant. Some nice liquorice and perhaps pinot gris, shall we say. Comments: high and heavy frustrations. Great rum badly executed, shall we say.
SGP:352 - 80 points.

Good, so far the session is struggling to take off. Let's try to do something…

Diamond 2012/2020 'VSG' (58.9%, Barikenn, Guyana, 186 bottles)

Diamond 2012/2020 'VSG' (58.9%, Barikenn, Guyana, 186 bottles) Five stars
Aged for almost 3 years in the tropics and then in Europe. The marque VSG means this is from the old wooden pot still of Versailles. Remember, Versailles' still was moved to Enmore, then to Uitvlugt, then to Diamond. Doesn't the pan make the soup? Colour: gold. Nose: old pans, best soups indeed. Some kind of salty, bouillony broth, with rotten bananas, crushed sardines, cloves, tar and liquorice, and the obligatory olives. Parsley and watercress soup (I adore that even if I'm not English - ha). With water: some kind of mentholated earthiness, just beautiful. And fresh sugarcane juice! Mouth (neat): perfect, salty, liquoricy and herbal. Perfect focus, body, balance and power. With water: superb salty liquorice indeed, oyster plant, mushrooms, anchovies, tapenade, green and black olives… In fact I believe this is one of the most olive-y rums I've ever tasted. Finish: very long, and you just ate a large pack of olives. Comments: one of the best salty/briny rums I've tried. I mean, my favourite, sorry Mother.
SGP:363 - 91 points.

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

 

January 16, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  

A pair of Aultmore

I don't know much about Aultmore I'm afraid, it's not a distillery I've tried too many expressions of. Some older examples have been pretty thrilling, but then you can say that about almost any distillery really.

 

Aultmore 9 yo 2011/2020 (48%, Elixir Distillers 'Reserve Casks', six barrels)

Aultmore 9 yo 2011/2020 (48%, Elixir Distillers 'Reserve Casks', six barrels)
I quite this elegant looking wee series. Colour: straw. Nose: nice! Lots of soft, but rather bright honeys, pressed flowers, vapour rubs, pollens, lemon rind, cider apple. Very easy, approachable and pleasantly characterful. Mouth: rather firm and rich upon arrival. Lots of biscuity and bready notes providing richness. White pepper, lanolin, bitter beers, bitter citrus piths and some olive oil. A few tart orchard fruits in the background too, like underripe pears and gooseberry. Finish: medium and on simple wood spices, cereals and apples. Comments: The nose was the best part in my view, and after that it declined ever so slightly. But it remains a quaffable, if simple, wee drop overall, no doubt.
SGP: 451 - 83 points.

 

 

Aultmore 2011/2018 (67.5%, Whisky Illuminati 'Solaria series', cask #900367, 1st fill Spanish oak sherry butt, 120 bottles)

Aultmore 2011/2018 (67.5%, Whisky Illuminati 'Solaria series', cask #900367, 1st fill Spanish oak sherry butt, 120 bottles)
Another from this interesting series where they are bottling single casks in small portions over an extended period of time. Just looking at the ABV is making my eyes water… Colour: amber. Nose: all things considered, it wears its strength well, although there is an undeniably bristle of heat. But beyond that, there's a rather nice cakey density to proceedings. Dundee cake, raisins, toffee sauce, coffee and walnut cake, balsamic and various sweet liqueurs. I'd never pick it as an Aultmore but there is some gooey charm about the sherry profile. With water: takes on a meaty edge now, goulash with paprika, red pepper stew, sticky ginger cake and some kind of chocolate covered prunes. Mouth: It's not painfully strong, but it is rather high octane with these rather trebly sweet notes. Earth, tobacco, ruby port, cafe latte, walnut oil and sugary black tea. A rather extractive profile where sweetness and tannin rule. Probably a result of such a high filling strength. Develops some bitter chocolate notes in time. With water: the spice is instantly and impressively magnified now. Lots of cumin, ginger, caraway, fennel and paprika. Some cooking oils and bitter almond syrup. Powerful stuff. Finish: quite long and getting rather beefy, earthy and with more dark chocolate and bitter cocoa notes. Perhaps straying in to 'natural dirtiness' territories. Comments: A whisky that really makes you work, but there are rewards to be had for sure. The overall impression is one of 'potential'. It will certainly be fascinating to see how such a cask develops over another 5-10 years of maturation - especially now it has a bit more head space for oxygen.
SGP: 561 - 83 points.

 

 

 

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

 

January 14, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Three Linkwood
Linkwood is a one of those 'background' names in Scotch Whisky that just seems to have been eternally there ever since I got properly into whisky. And that is where it has always remained: in the background. Quiet, humble, dependable, constant, occasionally comforting, but rarely brilliant, thrilling, stand out or exciting. I'm sorry if I am enraging the Knights of Linkwood, or Linkwood Coveters Anonymous or whatever these clubs are called, but it's very much a personal impression I've gathered over the years. Now, this doesn't mean I'm not always happy to try a Linkwood when one crosses my path, it's just that they exist rather in the 'Glen Safe' territory for me. 

 

Linkwood 12 yo 'Pure Highland Malt' (70 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 1970s)

Linkwood 12 yo 'Pure Highland Malt' (70 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, 1970s) 
I believe there's a dark vatting of this one too. Colour: gold. Nose: rather typical 'old style' malt whisky - much in the same way that a recently bottled 12yo Linkwood might easily be classed as 'rather typical modern malt whisky'. With these many notes of polish, cereal, soft waxes, dried flowers, mint and a little camphor. It's delicate, attractive and pleasant, but perhaps a tad hollow and simple in some ways. Mouth: It's the 70 proof that is the trouble really. It kind of just neuters the whole thing. There's some nice notes of barley extract, damp grains, waxed paper, lemon rind and Scotch broth with herbs, but there's also weakness and a touch of cardboard. Finish: short, lightly waxy, minty again, faintly lemony, cereal. Fine. Comments: I wouldn't say a disappointment as I've learned not to expect too much from such bottlings at 70 proof over the years, but it is a bit of a disappointment all the same. Again we come back to this impression of hollowness and simplicity. Now, the overall style is rather elegant and old school, it just lacks richness and power. 
SGP: 451 - 78 points. 

 

 

Linkwood 10 yo 2009/2020 'Parcel 4' (48%, The Single Malts Of Scotland 'Reserve Casks')

Linkwood 10 yo 2009/2020 'Parcel 4' (48%, The Single Malts Of Scotland 'Reserve Casks')
Selected from seven casks apparently. Colour: white wine. Nose: …and indeed, we have, in many ways, the epitome of 'modern malt whisky'. Lightly sweet vanilla custard, plain malt, tinned fruits in syrups (pineapple etc), tart green apples, lemon rind and dry breakfast cereals. Easy, simple and extremely pleasant. Mouth: simplicity and easiness again, which I suppose is generally the point with a series like this. The kind of sweet, fresh, green fruity malt you can easily quaff from a tumbler absentmindedly while watching Indiana Jones. Custard again, baked apple, lemon barley water. Finish: medium, lemony, sweet, gooseberry, breakfast cereals again. Comments: It's extremely easy and simple and fresh malt whisky. If someone said: "bring unto me the epitome of simplistic modern Speyside malt whisky" and you didn't walk in with this on a tray you'd be fired. I suspect that's probably exactly what Sukhinder said to Oliver. 
SGP: 541 - 82 points. 

 

 

Linkwood 10 yo (55%, Dràm Mòr, cask #306772, 1st fill barrel)

Linkwood 10 yo (55%, Dràm Mòr, cask #306772, 1st fill barrel)
Apparently done as a Christmas release, oh well, better late than never. Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather intense, richly bready, golden syrup, notes of young sauternes, rapeseed oil, cider apples, kumquat and even wee hints of tobacco. I find it pretty rich and syrupy with this rather weighty impression of texture and natural sweetness. With water: custard and baked apple pie with cinnamon, sticky glazed fruits, marzipan and sweetened fruit teas. Mouth: something rather sooty and lightly smoky. Like green pepper, pure cask char and black miso. Thick, peppery and with many cooking oils, caramelised fruits and things like quince and fig jam. Curious to know what kind of bourbon cask this is? Heavily toasted? With water: very syrupy, sweet and gloopy in texture now. Pears baked in calvados, cloves, sweet mint tea, limoncello, barley water, gingerbread. Quite a mix of stuff. Finish: good length, getting more heathery, herbal and floral now, but still with some sweeter honey and glazed fruit notes. Comments: Rather a jumble of different forces but it's a lot of fun overall. It's clearly rather active wood but it manifests more as syrupy sweetness here than the usual pencil shavings and artificial notes. Very good. 
SGP: 641 - 85 points. 

 

 

 

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

 

January 12, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions, doing sequels for no particular reasons
Number Thirteen

Start from America? Why not!

Kentucky Owl 11 yo 'Batch No. 1' (55.3%, OB, America, Straight Rye Whisky, 2017)

Kentucky Owl 11 yo 'Batch No. 1' (55.3%, OB, America, Straight Rye Whisky, 2017) Four stars and a half
This is 'The wise man's rye', you understand. Apparently, wise men prefer sourced ryes, which, in truth, is sometimes understandable. And very expensive ones. Colour: deep gold. Nose: I have to say I'm finding this absolutely lovely this far, with perfect ripe bananas, mangos and chestnut honey mixed together instead of that 'wall of rye' that may be found in many a young (right, NAS) rye. Notes of pinewood, chocolate, praline, maple syrup, lavender and violet sweets. I like this rather a lot. With water: whiffs of varnish at first, then some kind of earthy cake, fir honeydew, camphor and menthol… While this is sourced, I rather love it. Mouth (neat): absolutely very good. Perfect combo, spices plus crystallised fruits. A feeling of smoked oranges, then indeed rye bread, cinnamon, a drop of cologne, fudge and butterscotch, lavender sweets… With water: nougat and geranium syrup, violet sweets (from Toulouse)… Easy and excellent. Finish: medium, well rounded, yet spicy, earthy and firm. Lovely aftertaste on lavender and aniseed. Something medicinal. Comments: very approachable, very well composed, easy to quaff. I'm very fond of this rye an would happily buy a bottle.
SGP:661 - 88 points.
us

To Ireland

Waterford 2016/2020 'Single Farm: Ballymorgan 1.2' (50%, OB, Irish, 30,000 bottles)

Waterford 2016/2020 'Single Farm: Ballymorgan 1.2' (50%, OB, Irish, 30,000 bottles) Four stars
A single farm and some more wood-sorcery (US first fill, US new oak, French oak, vin doux naturel). I had thought Ballymorgan 1.1 was superb (WF 88), I can't wait to try Waterford al natural (refill and basta). Colour: straw. Nose: some fruity varnish and a lovely touch of natural rubber, then rather pine liqueur and damp chalk, all that on a bed of gooseberry jam. With a glass of Monthélie blanc on the side. With water: chalk, some lemon now, quinces, and more Monthélie blanc. Mouth (neat): a few pears for starters (it's young) and notes of orangettes, plus fresh panettone, and a little pepper and cinnamon. With water: gets breadier. After all, this is made out of barley. Finish: the new oak feels a little more. More cinnamon, white pepper, nutmeg. Comments: absolutely lovely but I have to confess I liked the 'Organic Gaia' even better the other day. I will buy a bottle of this Ballymorgan, but I would buy a case of that Organic Gaia. And that's got nothing to do with the fact that it is organic. Also, it is not impossible that I like Ballymorgan 1.1 a tiny notch better than Ballymorgan 1.2.
SGP:561 - 87 points.
ei

To Japan!

Yoichi 'Rum Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 2017)

Yoichi 'Rum Wood Finish' (46%, OB, Japan, 2017) Three stars and a half
So NAS Yoichi finished in Caribbean rum cask. We won't ask for any carbon footprint sheet. Colour: light gold. Nose: I find it very unusual, with these medicinal notes, this camphor, these bandages, this chalky side, all the pinewood, the green tea, then the pineapples and passion fruits, these ashes, this distant smoke (garden bonfire)… It's complex for sure, but let's remember that Yoichi, even when NAS, is a very classy whisky. The 46% always work. Mouth: frankly, I had thought that the combination of some young smoky malt with some richer, sweeter rum notes would create a wreck of a whisky. Well that's not exactly the case, even if some parts are a little unusual indeed (rubbery and sour fruits). Notes of salted lemons, oysters, curry powder, yuzu (but naturally), and indeed rubber and camphor. Good. Finish: loses one or two points here, as it gets a little too ashy and drying for me, which doesn't combine too well with the rubber. Comments: I was sure we would navigate below the 80-mark but I was wrong. Still, some slightly uncertain, medicinal Yoichi.
SGP:563 - 84 points.
j

Why not fly back to good old Germany?

Slyrs 'Fifty-One' (51%, OB, Germany, +/-2018)

Slyrs 'Fifty-One' (51%, OB, Germany, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
We're in Bavaria now, let's put on our Lederhosen! This baby was matured for three years in white oak. I absolutely adore this line, 'The team strives for sustainably authentic production and sources its casks from all over the world.' Charming. Colour: gold. Nose: nice fresh bready, with touches of ripe bananas, vanilla, brioche and scones. Soft spices. Some very well mastered 'international' young malt. With water: chicory, heavily malted beer, Stollen. Mouth (neat): very good! Huge progress at Slyrs', really. Last time we visited, that was around ten years ago, they were still toying with pinot noir ;-). Perfect cake-y and bready malt, with soft spices, cinnamon, vanilla… With water: wholegrain bread, drop of Maggi. Finish: medium, a tad spicier, with a little more ginger, but that is normal. Comments: really good. As I said, the style got a little more 'international' (no more lederhosen needed) but let's be honest, it got just much better. That's the dilemma of the future with all these 'world whiskies', no?
SGP:451 - 83 points.
gm

Our fifth one… Say drive to Holland?

Millstone 19 yo 1998/2018 (46%, OB, The Netherlands, PX, cask #2548, 351 bottles)

Millstone 19 yo 1998/2018 (46%, OB, The Netherlands, PX, cask #2548, 351 bottles) Four stars and a half
I think this one pulled 87 points at the Malt Maniacs Awards, which is just huge given that it's all done 100% blind and with strict averages (so two bad scores amongst a dozen good ones and adios). But no real surprise, actually, we've already tried some stunning, albeit heavy-ish Millstones/Zuidams. Colour: mahogany. Nose: but yes. Stunning Alsatian Beerawecka, the blackest and moistest pipe tobaccos, fermenting prunes, earthy chocolate, more chocolate, even more chocolate… Well, just all the chocolate of the creation. It's also a bit reminiscent of the best brandies de Jerez, minus any heady sweetness. Mouth: good, not sure anyone would tell you this is whisky, but it sure is one of the best brandies there is between Malaga and Sanlùcar. Molasses, walnuts, prunes, manuka honey, chocolate, mole sauce, the blackest big black raisins… Really the kind to pour over proper vanilla ice cream. I am not joking, please try that and report back. Finish: long, drier as it should, even a tad sour (cherry wine) and smoky. Proper Turkish coffee in majesty. Comments: I'm not surprised at all, but still, what an awesome Dutch brandy whisky.
SGP:562 - 89 points.
nl

Heb een goede dag! Have a good day!

(Thank you Chris)

 

January 11, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions, doing sequels for no particular reasons
Number Twelve

Last time we started our trip from Germany and that worked a treat. So let's just do the same if you please…

Elch Whisky 'Auflage 6' (52.7%, OB, Germany, 1200 bottles, 2020)

Elch Whisky 'Auflage 6' (52.7%, OB, Germany, 1200 bottles, 2020) Four stars
We had tried a lovely ''Torfduett' by them back in December, so let's further push our luck and try this 'Torf vom Dorf' without any preconceptions. Torf vom Dorf kind of means 'peat from our village'. Now why they have added a portrait of Donald J. Trump to the label, I don't know. More seriously, the malt had been peated to 34ppm here. Colour: gold. Nose: very nice. Turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, citrons, bamboo shoots, and a rather citrusy kind of peat. No wrong notes this far, at all. With water: yes, nice, fresh, just a tad rounder than 'the Islays'. Could someone try to smoke ginger beer and report back? Mouth (neat): you would have told me, around the year 2000 or 2005, that a German whisky could almost compete with, say, peated Bunnahabhain and I would have called you crazy. So perhaps not quite Lagavulin yet but there certainly is a lot of tobacco ash, lemons, brine, ginger toffee, cumin and just 'peat'. A little butterscotch too – butterscotch is to be found in most new or modern-style whiskies by the way, IMHO. With water: takes water perfectly well, no quibbles. Now the closest 'peated Islay' would remain Bunnahabhain Moine – or however they call it. Finish: rather long, clean, just a notch spicier than most Scottish peat monsters.  But I suppose that's probably because the Scots would usually release either older peaters, or more naked young ones. Or NAS, I agree. Oh please drop all that… Comments: perfectly well-made. The very concept of 'whisky nation' is really losing its lustre these days. Who's not a whisky nation these days? Kiribati? The Vatican?
SGP:555 - 85 points.
g

To Sweden again, I had kept this one for some time……

Mackmyra 'Motörhead' (40%, OB, Sweden, +/-2015)

Mackmyra 'Motörhead' (40%, OB, Sweden, +/-2015) Two stars and a half
I'm not quite in favour of these often ridiculous 'celebrity' whiskies. Whats more, I would have bottled a 'Motörhead' whisky at 60% vol.. Having said, that, I hope this little Mackmyra has been easing frontman Lemmy Kilmister's very last months, as I believe he died from serious illness not too long after this whisky was released. A sad story, really. Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather oak-driven, one would understand why a rock and roll band would have selected whisky that tasted like… bourbon. Chocolate, ginger, vanilla and, indeed, a feeling of rye. Mouth: not bad at all, with walnut cake and some maple syrup, then cinnamon and nutmeg from the oak. Allspice. Finish: rather short. Rye whiskey and more allspice, a few raisins in the aftertaste. Comments: not an ace (ha), but I don't find it as bad as some friends have been saying. R.I.P. Lemmy Kilmister, even if I'm never quite been a fan. By the way, I don't think his death was related to alcohol abuse in any way.
SGP:551 - 78 points.
s

To Scotland please (Scotland is one of the countries of the world, is it not?)

Daftmill 2007/2020 (58.2%, OB, for Kirsch Import, first fill bourbon, cask #26, 226 bottles)

Daftmill 2007/2020 (58.2%, OB, for Kirsch Import, first fill bourbon, cask #26, 226 bottles) Four stars and a half
Mind you, more than 12 years of age, and a bourbon barrel from Heaven Hill's. After their lovely Starward and 1770, I have no doubt that Kirsch will have selected a perfect Daftmill too. Now, who's ever tasted a bad Daftmill? Colour: gold. Nose: these tart citrus fruits and mangos that are so typical of Daftmill and that had reminded me of young Rosebank when I first tried the distillery. Wait, there's another association that just occurred to me… A kind of connexion to… Waterford! Seriously! Is that just because of all those stories about single estate farms? I do not think so. With water: more herbs, pot-pourri, patchouli, jasmine… Mouth (neat): impeccably fresh and fruity and floral arrival, with notes of peach-flavoured bubblegum. I remember that was all the rage in the 1970s. Vanilla, papaya, mango chutney, lemon… It's really very bright and extremely well-carved. With water: almost a fruit-bomb. Or a fruit salad, with nice wee notes of sliced banana and acacia honey. Finish: medium, fresh. More acacia honey and wee bits of fruits. Lovely fruit salad indeed. Comments: very bright and yet deep malt whisky, with a perfect fruitiness. Also a bit 1970s with that peach bubblegum and the patchouli, just add a little incense and we could start to sing Hare Krishna. Came just at the right time after Motörhead's baby…
SGP:641 - 89 points.
sc

Perhaps another go at that rare Spanish malt, Liber…

Liber 10 yo 2010/2020 (59.9%, OB, Spain, Spanish Whisky Club, 1st fill PX, cask #110, 300 bottles)

Liber 10 yo 2010/2020 (59.9%, OB, Spain, Spanish Whisky Club, 1st fill PX, cask #110, 300 bottles) Four stars
Liber really was new to me when I first tried some in the end of last year. Remember the distillery's located in the Sierra Nevada (of Spain!) Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts with a little nail polish, which tells us… nothing yet, gets then straight to Jerez (or similar appellation) with all what's needed regarding walnuts, raisins and mint. Quite some black earth too, fruitcake, and really a lot of pipe tobacco and cloves. With water: yess, meats, cold cuts, soups, Bovril, marrow, parsley, sage, miso… This one sure takes water extremely well. Mouth (neat): I think this one's my favourite Liber this far (but I had only tried two of them until this morning). Creamy, with a lot of marmalade and indeed PX, cherry jam too, prunes, Corinthian raisins… All is very mucho bueno here. With water: wonderful notes of stollen, the expected walnut wine, chocolate, a little toffee, a tiny cup of mocha. Finish: long and really very chocolaty. These meaty notes are back in the aftertaste. Comments: the 14 and the 16 that I had tried before were not quite in the same league, in my opinion, but I believe this little 10 has now become my favourite Spanish whisky ever. Perfect meaty sherry.
SGP:362 - 86 points.
sp

To America…

Heaven Hill 11 yo 2009/2020 (67.5%, C. Dully Selection, USA, cask #3440929, 246 bottles)

Heaven Hill 11 yo 2009/2020 (67.5%, C. Dully Selection, USA, cask #3440929, 246 bottles) Four stars
So this is Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky, so new oak. Colour: gold. Nose: I find it a little unusual, smokier than the usual Heaven Hills at first, and not as acetone-y as you would have thought given the lethal, yet perfectly normal strength. Whiffs of Frappuccino, perhaps, and a little surgical spirit. That's the high strength, no doubt. With water: a lot of fresh oak, we're either almost at a carpenter's, or we're with a working lumberjack. I'm not against this much fresh oak on the nose. I repeat, on the nose. Some toasted oak too, and some butterscotch. Mouth (neat): classic vanilla, coconut, cinnamon and toasted brioche. Frangipane. But it really burns, even when you only take half a drop. With water: that was needed, as several finer, fruitier and even more floral notes finally come through. A little lavender, rye bread, cinnamon, poppy sweets (not seeds), buckwheat, caraway, touches of molasses and stout… Finish: really rather long, spicy, 'darker' (more stout, beer sauce), with the spicy oak coming back. Comments: a little brutal, perhaps, and don't even consider quaffing it without water, but if you like spicy and oaky bourbons, this is for you.   And me. It's also rather polymorphous, you might gather completely different impressions if you try it another time.
SGP:571 - 86 points.
us

Goodbye for now.

 

January 10, 2021


Whiskyfun

Caution

A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!

 

This is 2021 and we keep looking for malternatives

A few rums as usual, with a little aperitif as usual. We've tried rather many pedestrian rums over the years, but I believe we're now rather ready for phase 2, a.k.a. 'have the funk, drop the junk'. So, today's aperitif…

Mount Gay 'XO' (43%, OB, Barbados, +/-2019)

Mount Gay 'XO' (43%, OB, Barbados, +/-2019) Three stars
We've had an 'extra-old' around ten years ago and I would believe it was similarly placed within the range (although that would usually rather mean extremely ordinary, XO sometimes also means extra old). Not too sure, anyway… Colour: deep gold. Nose: it's got a slightly earthy start, with also a little leather, rubber, and quite some tobacco. Gets then a little more molassy, with more liquorice as well, more dried bananas too, but it would remain pretty dry altogether. So perfect for a dry January (oh drop that old joke, S.) Mouth: I find it pretty good, average in the best sense of that word, meaning sitting right between the French agricole style and the English 'Demerara' one. Which, from my whisky-fuelled point of view, is not unseen in Barbados – and good, naturally. Perfect dryness too (as it should be). As for the favours, there are almost identical to the nose, with perhaps a little more tobacco and liquorice. Finish: medium and possibly a little more 'jumbled'. Finishes are very rarely any access-level spirit's best side in my experience. Comments: a very good drop for sure, and not one of those toxic aperitifs we used to sometimes have last year and the decade before. As rum folks would say, a sipper.
SGP:351 - 82 points.

Since we're in Barbados…

Foursquare 10 yo (64.99%, Torrisdale Castle Estate, Beinn an Tuirc Distillers Ltd., Barbados, 2020)

Foursquare 10 yo (64.99%, Torrisdale Castle Estate, Beinn an Tuirc Distillers Ltd., Barbados, 2020) Four stars
This baby spent the last year of its life in wood in Kintyre (but not at Springbank, should that matter). The fact that they've chosen to mention 64.99% vol. instead of 65.00% vol is pretty funny, is it not. Phew, we're safe, we won't get drunk in a flash! Colour: deep gold. Nose: pure pineapple essence, vanillin and Soviet-era tyre repair glue. Which would suggest water is mandatory. With water: it is actually a pretty soft Foursquare, rather on the column side if you like, with vanilla and crushed bananas, but also some very fine and 'accurate' notes of fresh cane juice, however surprising that would be. So a rather delicate one, as it appears. Mouth (neat): anyone outside Kintyre will find this super brutal, really (no offence!) But I suppose it is like pastis, no one expects you to have it neat. So, with water: with good pipette skills, you'll unleash very fine orangey notes, other citrus, those fresh canes again, all that on a bed of liquorice and tobacco that's similar to that of the Mount Gay. Lemon. Very good and pretty pure and zesty, you'd almost believe you're having a great sugarless ti-punch. Which wouldn't be a ti-punch then, but there. Finish: medium, refreshing, with a little mint. No we never got to the finish when trying it neat. Comments: lovely freshness and purity once you get the strength right. I go for +/-43%.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Since we were in Barbados, perhaps some blend that includes Bajan rum?

Tamosi 'Port Cask' (55%, Levy Lane Rum Co., blended rum, 2020)

Tamosi 'Port Cask' (55%, Levy Lane Rum Co., blended rum, 2020) Four stars
This is interesting, they have blended together 8 yo Barbados (good), 6 yo Panama (okay), and some white Jamaicans, then finished this 'marriage' for a few months in a Port cask. So is this still 'white' rum? Colour: apricotty gold. Nose: I think this rather works, more so because you don't quite feel the Port (which is a blessing in my book). It's not easy to describe but let's try: raspberry (but you just said…), olives, fresh concrete, sour brine, ripe banana skin, some marmalade… So this works, beyond a wee feeling of home blend'. With water: swims extremely well, but many blends do. I would say Barbados took the lead, but that's certainly not for the worse. Mouth (neat): this is where it works best, there is more unity, fusion, freedom, understanding and common love. Gosh I may sound like an amateur jazzman, circa 1965. What really strikes me is that the Jamaicans – I'd love to know about the proportions – are doing a great job. Reminds of a blending class we did around fifteen years ago. Take Auchentoshan, taste. Add 5% Ardbeg, taste. Second option here. With water: more complexity, leaves, teas, metals, earths, olives… It just adores water. Finish: rather long and lovely when reduced. Comments: this one should come with an airplane bottle of Vittel or Glenlivet (water that is). It loves H2O.
SGP:452 - 85 points.

Caroni 1998/2020 (57.1%, RumSponge, Trinidad, 258 bottles)

Caroni 1998/2020 (57.1%, RumSponge, Trinidad, 258 bottles) Five stars
Scarlet alert! After whisky and then cognac, The Sponge is now doing rums too. A little bird even told me that were in the pipeline SpongeOliveOil, SpongeBrakeFluid, SpongeLubricant, and even, glory amongst glories, SponChampagne and even SponGin, the Sponge's gin. Obviously, total world domination is near, but I suppose it will have really gone full circle when The Sponge will also do… sponges. Seriously, it's good to learn from the label that this was heavy style Caroni, and early landed (so matured in Europe) Colour: deep amber. Nose: I always like it when I first get old copper coins from Caroni (and sometimes the Jamaicans), as well as these whiffs of metal polish, old brass and pewter, then thyme, tarragon and basil, sauna oils, shoe polish, rotting tropical fruits, very old petroly rieslings, and just our friends the olives. I just love this nose so far, it's more complex than many other otherwise excellent Caronis. With water: I wouldn't say it changes much. Perhaps even more shoe and metal polishes. Mouth (neat): woohoo! Long time no see this style. Caol tar, rosemary, juniper, silver spoon, heavy liquorice, and this feeling of crunching church candles (which I used to do when I was a wee lad, seriously). Black olives, more shoe polish. With water: utterly excellent, bone-dry, very phenolic and congenery, with carbon, waxed cardboard, more polish, and of course olives. Finish: long yet balanced and kind of refreshing. That's always a good excuse whenever you'd like another glass (tip of the day!) Saltier and tarrier aftertaste. Comments: something Ardbeggian here. Best rum of the year so far, no doubt, but it is true that this is January 10. Seriously, fantastic Caroni.
SGP:363 - 92 points.

Only a Jamaican could 'climb over' such a well-aged heavy Caroni…

Jamaica 2010/2020 'Secret Distillery - WPL' (55%, Barikenn, Jamaica, bourbon)

Jamaica 2010/2020 'Secret Distillery - WPL' (55%, Barikenn, Jamaica, bourbon) Five stars
With a marque such as 'WPL', could be either What People Love, or Worthy Park Light, so approx. 100g esters/HLPA. Which is not the distillery's lightest mark mind you, that one being WPEL (extra-light I suppose). Colour: light gold. Nose: sublime. Mind you, light doesn't mean light in Jamaican language, it just means less heavy. Superb whiffs of anchovy brine in a small shop in Essaouira (what?) then cough medicine, menthol, overripe bananas, broken olives, drops of Worcester sauce and tabasco, chilli (right, pili-pili shrimps in Essaouira) – I'm sorry I'm talking silly but since we can't quite travel with bl**dy Covid… Oh well. With water: more crushed anchovies, carbon dust, drops of wine vinegar, some dill perhaps… This on gravlax! Mouth (neat): impressively oily, salty and lemony. If this is light rum, Trump is a Cuban ballerina. You almost feel like you're drinking the Atlantic ocean - may include HFO from the ships, so heavy fuel oil – while having very heavy overripe bananas and other tropical fruits about to be rotting. Tar, salt, lemon, olives. With water: saltier yet. Salted liquorice diluted in lime juice, with a few drops of aquavit. Finish: long, on the same marvellous notes. Comments: the Caroni was more complex, but it was also older. I believe I've tried enough rums now to be able to state that this is clearly one of the top-five juices around (in my humble personal opinion, naturally).
SGP:463 - 91 points.

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

 

January 9, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Four blended malts
A few reasonably humble and harmless blended malts for a low key start to 2021. Not that 2021 itself has started in a low key fashion mind you…

 

Naked Grouse Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (40%, OB, -/+ 2020)

Naked Grouse Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (40%, OB, -/+ 2020)
Apparently based around sherry, Highland Park and Macallan. No real idea or preconceptions about this one at all. Let's just try it and see… Colour: amber. Nose: hey, what's this? Caramel digestives, butterscotch, cream sherry, toffee, a little milk chocolate and tiny bit of tobacco. Leafy, easy, simple, clean sherry. Mouth: here the 40% is a bit of a struggle. It feels a bit flat, sluggish and weak. Milky coffee with extra sugar, caramel latte, banana bread, some sultanas, cheap milk chocolate and praline. There's also a feeling that it's been pushed around by filtration and colouring rather aggressively. Finish: short, sweet, more caramel sauce, sweetened black tea, a little earthiness. Comments: Ok, it's nothing monumental. However, neither is it particularly problematic either, once you accept the usual limitations of 40% and pretty ruthless filtration and colour etc. Despite some rather assertive views to the contrary, I generally try not to consider price when assessing a whisky, well, most of the time anyway. But this is a snip under £24 a bottle, so probably even at this level it's a contender for some kind of bang for your buck award. Easy, nice, quaffable, harmless, mixable and inoffensive. But 46%, or even 43%, would probably propel it to 80.
SGP: 631 - 76 points.

 

 

Blended Malt No.4 6 yo 'Batch 1' (53.6%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 625 bottles)

Blended Malt No.4 6 yo 'Batch 1' (53.6%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 625 bottles)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: clearly rather young, but it's a pure and celebratory expression of youthfulness in malt whisky. Lots of very natural barley eau de vie vibes going on, cut grass, nettles, light citrus teas and a few firmer aspects underneath providing body such as sunflower oil and cereals. With water: greener, more floral, some chlorophyl, daffodils, vase water, nettles and soda bread dough. Mouth: young malt whisky, lots of raw gristy barley, natural sweetness, cereal and still quite a few sharper, green notes and yeasty qualities lingering. With water: rather just simple, young, clean malt whisky. A bit boring and plain now thought I suppose. Finish: medium, nicely peppery, white flowers, cut grass and yeasty notes. Comments: It's fine, you just have to like young whiskies. Feels like it would make for a very fine highball (isn't that becoming a bit of a 'get out of jail' comment for whisky reviewers these days?)
SGP: 431 - 77 points.

 

 

Blended Malt No.1 18 yo 'Batch 3' (47.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1049)

Blended Malt No.1 18 yo 'Batch 3' (47.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 1049)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: it could be the same whisky as the youngster only with 12 more years of age. There's still this generic Speyside core, however those yeasty aspects have morphed to lighter honeys, meads, pollens and richer cereals, while the greener aspects have gone from grasses to  orchard fruits such as apples, gooseberries, pears and green banana. Light, elegant and the height of easy and simple pleasure. Mouth: sweeter than expected with runny honey, baked apple crumble, custard, young sauternes and toasted cereals glazed with caramel. Also various nectars, pollens and more honey notes. Some kind of fruit scone mix in there as well adding richness. Finish: medium, lightly sweet, honeyed, cereal and with wee notes of white flowers and lemon peel. Comments: hard to see who could be against this extremely quaffable wee drop. Feels older than it is at times.
SGP: 641 - 85 points.

 

 

Vega 20 yo 2000/2020 (43.5%, North Star, American and European oak sherry casks, 600 bottles)

Vega 20 yo 2000/2020 (43.5%, North Star, American and European oak sherry casks, 600 bottles)
Another cosmic brew from Mr Croucher. Who, incidentally, is also the owner of Argyllshire's largest underground Tuk-Tuk Thunderdrome. Colour: amber. Nose: a soft, leafy and rather gooey sherry profile. Feels joyfully sticky, like dark fruit loaf, stewed fruits and plum wine. Rather nicely old school and with these earthy notes topped with sweeter honeyed aspects. Mouth: superbly rich, leafy, old school sherry. What is this? More leftover blending juice from Edrington? We demand answers! Sweet raisins, tobacco leaf, mulchy earth, dark chocolate sauce, rancio and walnut oil. Rather devastatingly gluggable really. Finish: medium, with more raisiny, almost botrytic sweetness. More tobacco, chocolate, rancio and soft earthiness in the aftertaste. Comments: Hugely pleasurable stuff, old style sherried quaffing whisky, it just feels a tad light in the mouth. A few extra degrees of alcohol and we would likely be sat giggling in the lap of 90 points.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.  

 

 

Looks like there are quite a few excellent and somewhat surprising drams out there in the world of blended malts. It's just that these are largely just designed for people who want to - get this - drink whisky (I know, I know). So, no one pays them much attention as a result, which has ever thus been the case I suppose, but I still think it's a bit of a shame.

 

 

 

 

January 8, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions, doing sequels for no particular reasons
Number Eleven

Why not start this new little trip from one of our neighbouring countries, Germany?

Elsburn 7 yo (48.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Germany, sherry, 2020)

Elsburn 7 yo (48.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Germany, sherry, 2020) Four stars
I believe it's the first Elsburn we'll have ever tried (*). It's made by the 'Hercynian Distilling Co.' – while our dear Vosges mountains are hercynian too. The distillery is located in Walkenried, which lies near Göttingen, south of Hanover. Pretty much the middle of Deutschland. Colour: brown amber. Nose: loads of very ripe plums, or damsons/Zwetschke. Watch the wasps, they love overripe plums. Goes on with prunes – true logic – and more and more chocolate and raisins, then simply the moistest pumpernickel. I totally love pumpernickel. Also the blackest pipe tobacco. Mouth: rather coherent, just spicier and a little oakier. Figs, chocolate, prunes, raisins… I may have forgotten to mention something… Ah yeah, pumpernickel. I suppose I've already told you about the name of that bread and its relation to Nickel, Napoléon's white horse? Finish: medium, rather rich, with notes of rum and just more old slivovitz. Bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Caraway and clove too. Comments: tip-top. I suppose the cask did the larger part of the work here, but it sure was a good cask.
SGP:551 - 85 points.
gm

(*) But we had tried it as Glen Els, its former name. Thank you . @MoviezKult!

North, to Sweden…

Silent Swede 2012/2019 'Virgin Swedish Oak' (64.4%, Svenska Eldvatten, cask #500, 364 bottles)

Silent Swede 2012/2019 'Virgin Swedish Oak' (64.4%, Svenska Eldvatten, cask #500, 364 bottles) Four stars
This wee bottle from the defunct Grythyttan Distillery. We had tried several other 'wood expressions' in May last year and were very positively surprised. Especially the ex-Sauternes had been superb (WF 88) but we know our friends the Swede know how to handle Sauternes. Just ask Smögen. Now, 64.4% vol. here, let's be careful… Colour: deep amber. Nose: were they smaller casks? Typical deep, rather smoky and sweety spicy nose, rather on gingerbread, Stollen and Christmas cake I would say, but we shan't taky any further chance. With water: seriously, someone's been trying to smoke Christmas cake using pinewood. And they rather succeeded, as it appears. Mouth (neat): heavy, sharp, spicy and sweet. As if someone had deep-smoked some fig arrack this time. All right, and Christmas cake. With water: the territory is similar to that of the German malt, except that this Swede is much smokier. The oak brought notes f juniper and capsicum, I would say. And cloves and cinnamon, naturally. Finish: rather long, on similar flavours. Bitter chocolate in the aftertaste, as often when the wood was fresh. Kumquat marmalade too (there). Comments: liked it a lot, this would have aged very well, even if I think they would have had to re-rack into refill wood later on.
SGP:563 - 85 points.
sw

Since we were having boisterous young ones, let's swim West, to Scotland. We need no visa yet, do we?

Glasgow Distillery 1770 (62.1%, OB, for Kirsch Import, Sherry butt, 708 bottles, 2020)

Glasgow Distillery 1770 (62.1%, OB, for Kirsch Import, Sherry butt, 708 bottles, 2020) Four stars
I believe the vintage here is 2015, and that it's been bottled last year. I find it a little strange to use a vintage, or any numbers as a brand name. Imagine when archaeologists will find a bottle around the year 2100, they will believe this was distilled under the reign of George III. Colour: deep amber. Nose: sour cherries and leaves at first, quite a lot of ginger, cassis buds… I supposed this was fresh oak seasoned with sherry. Water is needed. With water: works very well. Roasted chestnuts, earth, Palmolive, mashed pumpkins, chocolate, mocha, leaven bread… Got to love water! Mouth (neat): a tad jumbled when neat, that's both the youth and the high strength. Grenadine, cherry liqueur (guignolet), bay leaves, green tea, blackcurrant, green peppercorn… With water: once again, water does wonders. Gingerbread, liquorice and mint, chestnut purée, marmalade… Finish: long, on the same notes, with just those cherries back in the aftertaste. Good fun. Comments: way, way nicer when watered down with care and attention (as I just did, naturally). This one too navigates along the 85-line in my book. PS: I've certainly not mentioned cherries only because the very talented importers are named Kirsch, okay? Well really!
SGP:561 - 85 points.
sco

Since we were at Kirsch Import's…

Starward 2016/2019 'Apera' (55.7%, OB for Kirsch Import, Australia, cask #1847, 246 bottles)

Starward 2016/2019 'Apera' (55.7%, OB for Kirsch Import, Australia, cask #1847, 246 bottles) Four stars and a half
Good, please remain seated, this was matured in a 'First Fill Australian Apera (Jerez) Sherry Barrel'. Is that some kind of game? Should we spot the odd ones out? And me who was thinking apera was a typo and that it was actually apéro… All right, enough two-pence jokes… Colour: deep gold. Nose: worked, it even remained fresh as a daisy and beautifully lemony, beyond these notes of café latte and butterscotch. Papaya jam too. Not much not to love in this young baby, we're very far from some earlier experiments with, ach, err, red wine. With water: cigarette tobacco, bidis, crushed bananas, pinot gris. Perfect. Mouth (neat): I'm sorry but I'm instantly thinking of Bimber. Perhaps something to do with the commonwealth? Excellent use of good active wood, with good balance, freshness, and strictly no sourness. Textbook modern whisky, with only a handful marshmallows, then crushed bananas, papayas, butterscotch, limoncello…  With water: a little more citrusy. Wonderful freshness indeed. Finish: not too long but refreshingly fruity. Green melons and papayas again. Doesn't that burn fat? Comments: wow, and only three. At some point I had the impression that I was biting into fresh muscat. Not many old preconceptions left at WF Towers…
SGP:751 - 88 points.
as

I'm afraid only an Irish will stand the course fruit-wise here. Let's quickly fly back to the EU…

The Poplar Tree 18 yo 2002/2020 (52.9%, The Whisky Cask Collection, Ireland, PX sherry, 301 bottles)

The Poplar Tree 18 yo 2002/2020 (52.9%, The Whisky Cask Company, Ireland, PX sherry, 301 bottles) Four stars
This ought to be Cooley. Well to be honest the bottlers told me it was Cooley, but shh… Oh and who said I didn't like PX? Some very old PX poured over proper vanilla ice cream, that's just a sin! Colour: deep amber. Nose: we sometimes hesitate between Bushmills and Cooley when trying some undisclosed Irish single malt (not pure pot still of course) and I've often found varnish in Cooley, never in Bushmills. Good varnish, naturally, not the interior of a stolen Porsche (o-kay.) So a little varnish, then a combination of ultra-ripe fruits, grapes, apples, peaches… All that with good honey and sweet white wine. Ever tried Cérons? Check them, they're cheap and yet magnificent. Sweet Château de Cérons will beat many high-ranked Sauternes, for example (S., would you mind rather talk about the whisky?). With water: my grandmother's old walnut wine. Mouth (neat): it is more PX-y for sure, that is to say very sweet, yet slightly oxidised (old walnuts) and rather chocolaty. You would rather think of a V.O.R.S. With water: gets leafier. Finish: medium, grassy and with some mint. Cherry stems and walnuts. Comments: excellent, just a little drying. Those walnuts…
SGP:561 - 87 points.
ei

Starward 3 years old, 88. Right, I think I'll seek to enter holy orders right tomorrow.

(Thank you Andre)

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

 

January 6, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions, doing sequels for no particular reasons
Number Ten

Let's find some big ones today… We're afraid of strictly nothing. And let's start this trip from… France!

Distillerie du Vercors 'Sequoia Pur Malt Tourbé' (43%, OB, +/-2020)

Distillerie du Vercors 'Sequoia Pur Malt Tourbé' (43%, OB, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
Tourbé means peated. I really liked the regular Sequoias I could try earlier, but I've often noticed that the 'peated' versions that are done here and there in Europe were pretty unlikely, thus rather unnecessary. I mean, either your whisky is peated or it's not – not everyone is Springbank mind you. But we're keeping an open mind… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: isn't this quasi-new make? Lots of pears and pineapples (amyl diacetate, err…) plus a little vanilla and some fermenting fruits. The smoke remains very discreet and would rather go towards roasted bacon and smoked sausages. Mouth: rather well-made I have to say, but a little too light, sweet and young. Peat needs to 'swallow' any excessive sweetness (while all new makes are very sweet) and for that to happen you need time. Having said that you do feel that the potential is there, despite the stingy strength. There are olives, for example. A great sign. Finish: medium, with notes of tequila. What? Comments: this is like reading a scenario instead of watching the movie. See what I mean? See you in ten years.
SGP:634 - 78 points.
fr

To London now with the Eurostar (we need no visa, do we?)…

Bimber 'Peated Cask Small Batch 1' (54.1%, OB, England, 252 bottles, 2020)

Bimber 'Peated Cask Small Batch 1' (54.1%, OB, England, 252 bottles, 2020) Two stars and a half
Do not worry, this is just a regular Bimber that's been spending some time in an ex-deep-peater cask. In other words, blended malt by another mean (do not shoot!) The thing is, they're capable of succeeding with these stunts… Next time a cask aged by the A1? Colour: straw. Nose: we're okay. The traditional fruit salad is there (granny smith, guava, banana) and I find no Octomore in the way. So far. With water: an ashtray the next morning and some bitter fruit peelings. Please no water. Mouth: some bitter smoke, ashes, green pepper, and behind the wall, Bimber's superb distillate. This is good because it is Bimber, but frankly, I am not too sure. Same with goose foie gras with strawberry jam, not too sure… With water: nah, sure this rather works, but we remain far from Bimber's usual brilliance. Finish: rather long, with some smoked pears, coffee dregs (Turkish coffee) and pastrami. I mean, smoked pastrami. Comments: I'm sure they did this for fun. And to tease us.
SGP:453 - 79 points.
uk

This session won't move… Let's try to find more odd peatiness and see what happens… Off to Tasmania…

Hellyers Road 16 yo 2004/2020 'Peated' (61.7%, OB, exclusive to France, Australia, bourbon, cask #4082.1, 192 bottles)

Hellyers Road 16 yo 2004/2020 'Peated' (61.7%, OB, exclusive to France, Australia, bourbon, cask #4082.1, 192 bottles) Four stars and a half
I was just thinking, don't only rugby nations make proper whisky? To be discussed… Colour: gold. Nose: but yes. Some resinous, herbal smokiness, with embrocations, kelp, sauna oils and the latest cuvée of Vicks VapoRub. Perfect anti-Covid brew. Seriously, I love this, this far. With water: acetone and ammonia, plus new plastics and linoleum. What's even worse is that I enjoy this. I may need go see a shrink, any good address? Mouth (neat): very funny! Just burn eucalyptus wood over lemons and bandages and you shall get this. Very unlikely at full strength, but I suppose that's not how it was meant to be enjoyed. With water: echoes of old Ardbeg, seriously. Tarry things, clams, petrol… Finish: same for a long time, getting very ashy. Comments: you would almost believe you just smoked a Lusitania. My favourite cigar when I was still smoking, a long time ago. Zino Davidoff was a remote friend by the way and… oh why am I rambling on again?
SGP:457 - 88 points.
aus

Let's swim to New Zealand, as both islands seem to be pretty close… when seen from Europe.

Cardrona 3 yo 2015/2018 'Just Hatched' (63.2%, OB, New Zealand, sherry butt, cask #104)

Cardrona 3 yo 2015/2018 'Just Hatched' (63.2%, OB, New Zealand, sherry butt, cask #104) Four stars
This one's exactly three years and one day old. It's good to play by the rules, is it not. Oh and remember, whisky nations are rugby nations. Colour: deep gold. Nose: glad to have met Cardrona these months. This one's rather full of chocolate, walnut cake, walnut wine, with huge notes of hay, bouillons, a little coconut wine, some ham, some kirschwasser, hot chocolate, shoe polish… I find it really complex given the high strength and the young age. With water: more hot chocolate, cakes, dough, walnut cake, miso, pecans… I find it really very complex. Mouth (neat): very good. Meaty, mentholy sherry, soups, umami, puréed chestnuts… With water: prunes filled with marzipan and coated with bacon. You can't beat this. Finish: arrack and walnut wine, bouillon, ham, pecan cake, café latte. Figs in the aftertaste. Comments: very good. Great things happening on the whisky front, both in NZ and AUS. Whisky and rugby, same battle!
SGP:462 - 86 points.
nz

Perhaps a very old official Irish from Midleton?

Redbreast 30 yo 1989/2020 (57.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Port cask, cask #38635, 444 bottles)

Redbreast 30 yo 1989/2020 (57.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Port cask, cask #38635, 444 bottles) Five stars
So a single cask, re-racked in Port wood in 1995 already. Something bad must have happened between 1989 and 1995. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: peonies and raspberry cake, these Redbreasty mangos, peaches, pink pepper, clafoutis, Nuits Saint-Georges, morello cherries… Well well well, this is rather extraordinary. The work of time. With water: possibly the greatest Irish I've ever nosed. Fantastically aromatic, almost heady and yet subtle and complex, with stunning notes of blood oranges, musk, old roses, honeys, hints of Spanish ham (the most expensive jabugos)… This is just plainly glorious. Mouth (neat): extraordinary, complex, with rare apples and cherries, eglantine jam, rich honeys, old cognac… With water: please call the anti-maltoporn brigade. I mean, the anti-pure-potstillporn brigade. Finish: not that long but magnificently fruity and soft. More blood oranges and honeys. Comments: could be that Redbreast is the only distillate that would actually benefit from spending some time together with touriga nacional. But Redbreast is 'something else'.
SGP:651 - 92 points.
ei

P.S.: were I to launch a new brand in this digital age, I would not use large white labels. Just saying.

(Thank you Greg)

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

 

January 5, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions, doing sequels for no particular reasons
Number Nine

Let's fly right to Sweden again (a real whisky country!)

High Coast 'Hav' (48%, OB, Sweden, +/-2020)

High Coast 'Hav' (48%, OB, Sweden, +/-2020) Four stars
I really liked their latest 'Solera 1' in December. Colour: straw. Nose: it's a rather grassy, bready and mashy one, close to nature and to the raw ingredients. These whiffs of shoe polish and old engine oil are very pleasant too, I'm even finding hints of old tin box, oilcloth, paraffin and roasted pumpkin seeds. A wonderful mashy dryness. Mouth: much more smoke on the palate, salty, briny cider, mashed turnips, porridge and more of those bready notes, wholegrain bread, buckwheat crêpes… That's all very excellent and somewhat reminiscent of that pot-still vodka called Polugar. Ever tried that? Finish: long and even more to my liking. Someone well-intentioned has smoked some very superior kirschwasser, it seems. Grapefruit zests too. Comments: seriously, I like this a lot, it's right up my alley and the price is right too.
SGP:365 - 87 points.
s

Off to Ireland (by boat)…

Waterford 'Organic Gaia 1.1' (50%, OB, Ireland, 2020)

Waterford 'Organic Gaia 1.1' (50%, OB, Ireland, 2020) Five stars
Gaia as in Gaia the Earth, mother of Uranus? Will this drop make us all immortals? How much of it should we quaff to make that happen? Colour: straw. Nose: I have the feeling that this one's a little less, say emphatic than the single farm expressions, but also (even) better constructed, tighter, focused, slightly fat (malt whisky ought to be fat) and really on fresh grains, proper baguette (sorry) and sunflower and hazelnut oil. Banana skin. Hazelnut oil is actually very obvious here. With water: do I find anchovies, clay, and sesame oil now? Mouth (neat): very good, if a tad lighter now. Hints of butterscotch (the oak I suppose) and smoked fish. Turmeric, barley wine, touch of salt. In truth I am impressed, how old is this? I suppose a good copywriter would answer 'billions of years' as it's all about Mother Earth. De nada. With water: takes water extremely well. Finish: medium to long, clean and very bready, with a drop of Meursault. Were some actual pièces used here? The salty touch in the aftertaste drives it home. Comments: extremely impressive, and I mean it. And it's not all about cask magic.
SGP:362 - 90 points.
e

To India, perhaps?

Amrut 6 yo 2012/2019 (60%, OB, for Hot Malt Taiwan, India, Rum cask, cask #3866, 132 bottles)

Amrut 6 yo 2012/2019 (60%, OB, for Hot Malt Taiwan, India, Rum cask, cask #3866, 132 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: totally fusional. What I mean is that while you do feel there is some rum inside, you wouldn't detect any specific markers. Having said that, that may be the super-high strength and I would suggest we add water right away. Cleared? With water: definitely earthy, and rather trans, or meta, or cross. Once again, it's not classis malt whisky, but it doesn't feel doped-up or made-up or even 'seasoned' (gosh) at all. The answers may lie within the tiny aromatic herbs and flowers cluster, honeysuckle, rosehip… and there, perhaps, a little vesou. Very likeable. Mouth (neat): something very nice, some kind of spicy, citric, camphory blend that's not easy to describe. I would mention retsina, perhaps. I've heard a few people were still making 'résiné' wine in France but to be honest, I've never encountered any. Not that I've tried too hard. Anyway, water should be needed… With water: same feeling of retsina, thyme honey, bay-leaf, a little bitter wood, tobaccos and teas… Finish: long and certainly spicier yet. Spiced tea (cloves, star anise, cinnamon…) Some oak, some menthol and some pine resin. Comments: a very, very good, funny drop, perhaps partly the result of chance. Mouthwash deluxe ;-).
SGP:471 - 87 points.
i

Off to Taiwan (once more)…

Kavalan 'Peated Malt' (53%, OB, for LMDW, Taiwan, Islay cask, cask #R150409034A, 150 bottles)

Kavalan 'Peated Malt' (53%, OB, for LMDW, Taiwan, Islay cask, cask #R150409034A, 150 bottles) Three stars and a half
Hum, who peated this? Was it the distillate or only the Islay cask? And why superpose peats then (you see what I mean, I'm sure). And why not just stop quibbling and try it? Colour: orangey amber. Nose: oh. Teak oil, pine resin, eucalyptus smoke, natural tar, whiffs of burnt tyres (Verstappen driving), then some new plywood, linoleum, 'a Saturday morning at Ikea', leatherette and all that jazz. This one too is pretty tarry and resinous. With water: more of the same. Someone's set rubber and pine resin on fire. Mouth (neat): thick, tarry, rubbery and burnt, getting more medicinal after a short while. Cough medicine and salty plaster, some bacon and some mentholy honey. This concoction wouldn't leave you alone. With water: things calm down but we're still rather in crazy aquavit territories. Caraway coming out, and more rubber, resins, eucalyptus and menthol. Finish: long and tarry. Some heavy liquorice too, as well as juniper. Comments: what was that? It is a very good drop, no doubt about that, but we've crossed the borders of whiskydom a long time ago. Have I mentioned the word 'concoction'?
SGP:374 - 84 points.
t

Always five by five, so a last one please…

Golden Moon 13 yo 'Gun Fighter' (50%, OB, USA, bourbon, for Hotmalt, Whisky Fair Takao, 2019)

Golden Moon 13 yo 'Gun Fighter' (50%, OB, USA, bourbon, for Hotmalt, Whisky Fair Takao, 2019) Four stars
They really do funny bottlings in Taiwan. Golden Moon are located in Colorado and are not very well-known in Europe, but I've seen that they've already gathered more medals than any 90 year old Soviet general. I find it a little bizarre that this would be 13, but why not. Colour: deep gold. Nose: oak extracts, ginger, vanillin, lavender liqueur and spicy bread, then a little mead and caraway spirit blended with caramel and corn syrup. With water: very nice, croissants, spicy rolls, nutmeg, a fresh pack of gressini… Mouth (neat): well, it is another very good American whisky, starting with a little glue (that's normal), going on with some coconut water (that's normal too), and unfolding with many soft spices, lavender, ginger, a feeling of rye, bitter oranges and more ginger. It's a bit extreme in its very own genre but vanilla's been kept at bay (hurray) and I seem to remember some old bottles of Very Old Fitzgerald that some American friends had poured me and that were a wee bit like this. Hope I'm not shocking anyone here. With water: takes water well and bets a little bitterer. Closer to grains. Finish: medium, spicy and bready. Only the aftertaste is a tad too much on sawdust, in my opinion. Comments: our friends in Taiwan keep surprising me. And there's a wonderful earthiness remaining in your empty glass.
SGP:351 - 86 points.
us

(Une nouvelle fois merci, Lucero)

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

 

January 4, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions, doing sequels for no particular reasons
So this is Number Eight

After all, these few 'world' sessions we did in December have been pretty fun and we won't deny that many distilleries from outside the big countries are now making proper whisky, as we wrote on January 1st,  and not just those putrid rotguts that used to make you depressed if not blind in no time. So, we thought we could go on for a few more days. Say five or six days, okay? Starting with Ireland...

What’s really cool with some – not all - Irish is that they’re pretty light, which makes any start easier. In other words, more peace and hopefully some love…

Bushmills ‘Port Cask Reserve’ (40%, OB, Irish, Steamship Collection, 2019)

Bushmills ‘Port Cask Reserve’ (40%, OB, Irish, Steamship Collection, 2019) Three stars
That’s the thing, they’re allowed to bottle both blends and single malts under the same distillery name. It’s as if you would have some Lagavulin blend… But hold your horses (ha-ha), that was just an example! By the way, thought that both the sherry and the bourbon versions within this funny Steamship Collection were rather okay (78-79 points) but I have to confess I’ve been procrastinating with the Port. Colour: gold. Nose: we’re okay, really. Soft herbal teas and dried fruits (bananas, apples) plus fruit peels and a drop of raspberry liqueur. Moist fruitcake (beerawecka) and rosehip tea. I’m afraid we would have called this ‘a little feminine’ back in 2019. Mouth: hey, isn’t the Port the best within this series? This is fully on herbal teas, hawthorn, rosehip, eglantine, a wee slice of cherry clafoutis, then just raspberries. The distillate was shy and submissive anyway, so it couldn’t have clashed. Finish: short but clean and all on red berries. This time that rather worked. Comments: very good surprise here, I wasn’t expecting much. If you like red berries… And even the low strength kind of worked.
SGP:641 - 82 points.
uk

To Germany…

The Westfalian 2014/2019 (51.2%, OB, Germany, Ex-Glenrothes sherry hogshead, cask #84, 349 bottles)

The Westfalian 2014/2019 (51.2%, OB, Germany, Ex-Glenrothes sherry hogshead, cask #84, 349 bottles) Three stars
I doubt we’ll immediately detect any Glenrothesness… Colour: gold. Nose: fresh and sweet, rather with whiffs of candyfloss at the fair, pancake syrup, glazed chestnuts and nougat. Very soft style this far. With water: gears towards rum, Cuban style. Soft syrups, a little hay, cane juice… Then wee whiffs of shoe and metal polishes and benzine. Mouth (neat): very, very sweet and fruity. Jellybeans in abundance, liqueurs in large numbers, icing sugar, fruit paste… With water: the best part, even if the body remains light. More syrups, fruit jellies… Finish: medium, very sweet and bonbony. Little raspberry drops. Comments: a style that’s usually to found in distilleries that are using eau-de-vie stills, some Holsteins etc. Within that category, I’m finding this Westfalian rather on top on that little mountain, but boy is it sweet! (and yet certainly not dosed-up).
SGP:730 - 81 points.
gm

Off to America!

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 24 yo 1994/2020 (47.4%, Single Cask Nation, USA, 300 bottles)

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 24 yo 1994/2020 (47.4%, Single Cask Nation, USA, 300 bottles) Four stars and a half
Most interestingly, this baby spent half of its life in America and the other half in Scotland. This cannot not stem from Heaven Hill, as it cannot be George Dickel. Are you following me? Colour: deep gold. Nose: ooh, with this much black nougat and roasted pistachios, nothing can go wrong. Enter rye, lavender and violet sweets, mint-flavoured liquorice, toffee, thin mints, the usual touch of earthy coconut wine, and well, just wow. I doubt that’s because it’s partially aged in Scotland, but I would say it’s one of those rare bourbons that aren’t that far from malt whisky. Mouth: superb once you get past the pencil shavings and all the heavy pepper. And the coconut water. Ganaches, mint, cinnamon, rosehip tea, pear cider, a touch of MDM dust (or plywood), angelica… Some cracked pepper too – it’s 24, after all, liquorice, violet… Finish: long, rather fruitier than drier and more oaky. Comments: sweet and extremely good. I’m sure it’ll benefit from two or three years of quiet cellaring and reach 90.
SGP:641 - 89 points.
us

Perhaps fly to NZ?

Cardrona ‘Just Hatched Solera’ (64.4%, OB, 2020)

Cardrona ‘Just Hatched Solera’ (64.4%, OB, 2020) Three stars and a half
A vatting of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. I know, a ‘solera’… Colour: light gold. Nose: beyond the murderous strength, it seems that this has some grassy and oily complexity, as well as a fruity sourness (between green melons and sour plums). Now we shall not take too many chances and nose it too deeply. With water: olive and grapeseed oils, melon skin, then barley-y grist and flour. This breadiness is welcome. Mouth (neat): yeah right. Orange squash, lemon Jell-O and Space-X kerosene. This is dangerous, you do feel that you may not return to Earth. So with water: rather on the sweeter side but it’s got texture and structure. Lemon powder, fresh bark, leaves, pepper, quite some bubblegum too. No we won’t mention any products by The Coca-Cola Company. Okay, Diet Coke (minimal touches thereof). Finish: medium, very nice, very sweet, pretty fresh. Cherry drops. Comments: it’s not easy to get it at the right strength, you rather need a golden pipette. No, not A.I. Having said that, once you’ve toyed with it and tamed it, I’m sure you’ll really like it.
SGP:751 - 83 points.
nz

Back to England for our last one today. We’re really trying a lot of English whisky these days, but please don’t tell Boris.

Bimber 3 yo 2017/2020 (57.9%, Thompson Bros., England, 1st fill barrel, cask #171, 250 bottles)

Bimber 3 yo 2017/2020 (57.9%, Thompson Bros., England, 1st fill barrel, cask #171, 250 bottles) Four stars and a half
We’ll keep this short. Neither Dornoch nor Bimber need no further buzz. Colour: deep gold. Nose: Spanish melon and orange liqueurs. Perhaps a little ripe guava too. With water: manzana liqueur and guava indeed. Apricots and mirabelles. Apricots and mirabelles always work, just ask Balvenie. Mouth (neat): insane delicately spiced-up fruit mix. Slices of dried apples, coconut, pineapples, with a touch of liquorice wood. Immaculate combination and more proof that bourbon wood works best (perhaps just not with bourbon, ha-ha). With water: immaculate quince jelly and very soft and very fresh ginger cookies. Finish: rather long, a tad spicier, that is to say more on, well, ginger cookies. Pepper. Peach and apricot compote. Comments: the Kavalan of the West, except that Bimber no do large-batch very average whiskies in addition to their brilliant single casks or small batches, do they? Excellent Bimber once again.
SGP:651 - 89 points.
uk

A very good session once again. It’s cool to be able to travel without any vaccines, COVID tests, or masks. We may go on for a while…

(Thanks Greg and Phil)

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

 

January 3, 2021


Whiskyfun

The New Year’s first five rums

We’ve tried quite a few brandies in the last weeks of December, so time for rum. Still looking for malternatives… But first, as usual, a little aperitif…

Bayou ‘Single Barrel’ (40%, OB, USA, +/-2020)

Bayou ‘Single Barrel’ (40%, OB, USA, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
This one’s distilled in Louisiana out of molasses made out of local sugarcanes. Sadly, it’s been matured in ex-rye casks (for two years and a half) and bottled at 40% vol. I suppose we shouldn’t expect much, but let’s see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: oak and pumpernickel at first, then rather mead and raisins as well as hints of… malt whisky. Gingerbread. Perhaps a little light but the composition rather works. We’re sitting right between rum and malt, actually, as if this was some kind of metaspirit. Mouth: nice, rather rich arrival, on honey, mead and indeed, rather Latino rum although I’m not finding any excessive sweetness. Tends to become thin though, while I wouldn’t claim everything is perfectly well integrated, especially the oak. Nicer notes of ginger cake and liquorice coming out after thirty seconds but it wouldn’t pick up steam again. Finish: rather short, dry, with a touch of sugar and a bit of salty anchovy in the aftertaste. A bit of black olive too. Comments: hope they’ll issue some other expressions at higher strengths, slightly older age, and no in rye. There sure is some potential, camarade. And also try to make some agricole style, since this is Louisiana?
SGP:441 - 78 points.

Foursquare 2011/2019 ‘MBFS’ (54.4%, Barikenn, Barbados, bourbon, 279 bottles)

Foursquare 2011/2019 ‘MBFS’ (54.4%, Barikenn, Barbados, bourbon, 279 bottles) Four stars
This is one of Foursquare’s traditional ‘single blends’, the proportions of which they wouldn’t tell you even if you play Mariah Carey on eleven. This cask first spent 5 years in the tropics, then 3.5 years in Europe. Barikenn are small French indie bottlers from Brittany, and very cool people it seems. Colour: gold. Nose: a little glue and a little sugarcane syrup at first, then rather almond paste, gingerbread and beeswax. I have the impression that water would be welcome, even if it’s not that strong… With water: works a treat as this baby would rather gear towards honeys, melon jam, agave syrup and honeysuckle, with just a tiny drop of olive oil. No more varnish, but perhaps a little diesel oil, which I always find cool. And perhaps a drop of elderberry syrup. Mouth (neat): a little sweet (Fanta), with a little corn syrup and indeed this varnishy side, on a rather grassy foundation. A feeling of peppered limoncello, molasses honey... I suppose water will help on the palate too. With water: sure it does. Cappuccino, butterscotch, turon, cane syrup, a wee touch of banana beer and some triple-sec. Rather an easy Foursquare, one that goes down extremely well once you’ve added a little H2O. Finish: medium, rounded, slightly syrupy, with a honeyed and cappuccino-y aftertaste Comments: easy and very good. You could quaff this instead of anything from Starbucks’ (where bucks are stars). Very well selected, Barikenn!
SGP:641 - 87 points.

Uitvlugt 27 yo 1993/2020 (50.1%, The Duchess, Guyana, cask #5, 189 bottles)

Uitvlugt 27 yo 1993/2020 (50.1%, The Duchess, Guyana, cask #5, 189 bottles) Five stars
I’ve often noticed that rums that would display lovely photographs or paintings, or drawings of animals, especially birds, were better than the others. Why that? Because of a better care for Nature? Aesthetics? Good sentiments? Colour: gold. Nose: I love them all. Kerosene, olive brine, liquorice, lime, tar and bergamots, that just is a perfect combination in my book. What’s more, the 27 years have rounded it off, without taking any fiery aromas away. With water: liquorice tar brine olives paraffin mint eucalyptus. Mouth (neat): yes, excellent. Some kind of mentholated and liquorice-ised (what?) hay spirit (ever tried to let ferment and distil hay? You should!) Lovely salty liquorice, bits of anchovies and olives, and then even more liquorice. I just adore liquorice, I’m glad Haribo have revived an old French brand called ‘Zan’ – but why am I telling you this? With water: a bigger saltiness and more assorted citrus. Some tobacco too, liquorice marshmallows, even oysters… Finish: rather long and perfect. Comments: perfect but the sample was too small. May we get a double magnum next time? I-am-joking.
SGP:463 - 91 points.

Caroni 18 yo 1996/2014 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, cask #SC3, 456 bottles)

Caroni 18 yo 1996/2014 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, cask #SC3, 456 bottles) Four stars
Why haven’t I tried this one before? I find it quite cool to be able to try some lower-strength monsters from time to time. No, that’s not exactly the same as bringing it down to 43% vol. yourself. Colour: straw. Nose: reduction further emphasises on the ‘dirty’ side of Caroni, with more old waters, metals, cardboards, rainwater in an old barrel in a corner of the garden, shoe polish and Barbour grease, mutton suet, seal oil… Well I wouldn’t want to make you feel nauseous now, you know… Old candles in an old drawer. Mouth: same feelings of rum that’s a little off, dirty, stale in the better sense, grassy, fermentary, with some ginger wine, parsnips and turnips, baled eggplants, even… moussaka! That’s Caroni – probably one of lighter marques, or styles. Good fun to be had with this one, and a perfect conversation piece with your friends, after a good meal. Finish: medium, with a handful of sweets, then tinned sardines. Yes I know. Which is even funnier. Comments: good fun indeed. Feels wrecked at times, and yet it sure isn’t.
SGP:662 - 85 points.

Rum ‘Mden’ 1997/2020 (55.6%, The Whisky Jury, Jamaica, cask #TWJ-HA-01, 241 bottles)

Rum ‘Mden’ 1997/2020 (55.6%, The Whisky Jury, Jamaica, cask #TWJ-HA-01, 241 bottles) Five stars
It’s too obvious that this is Appleton! Colour: gold. Nose: let’s not try to be funny, this sure should be Hampden. Huge ashes, brake fluid, crushed fresh olives, carbon dust (careful with that), huge varnish and acetone, myrtle, crushed holly berries (and the eau-de-vie made thereof), and other pretty wacky Hampdeny aromas. Probably a ‘high-ester’ mark. With water: acetone, carbon paper, ammonia, brake-pad dust, tar, ink, the wildest olive oil… In other words, it’s as smooth as the smoothest rose petals. Quite. Mouth (neat): extreme varnish, green lemon and green olives, marginally tamed by those 22 or 23 years spent in wood. Eating cigar ashes sprinkled with the most acidic lemon juices and nail polish removers. Brutally lovable, or lovably brutal. Have I mentioned deep-salted Dutch liquorice? With water: I love this. This baby’s even got notes of burnt plastics and electronics now (two-year-old iPhone – just joking). Finish: long, salty, lemony, olive-y, petroly, gritty, rough. Pickled capers and samphires. The aftertaste is a little smoother though… Comments: I’ve been exaggerating, it is not that extreme, but drinking +/-20yo Hampden today is like drinking +/-20 yo Ardbeg or Port Ellen around the year 2000. Same with Worthy Park. Do what you want with that, while I’m sipping this glory away with confidence and hope (what?)...
SGP:375 - 92 points.

Let’s put an end to this before I start quoting Bob Marley.

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

 

January 2, 2021


Whiskyfun

The Year That It Was And Where Does It All Go From Here

As is customary, just a few random remarks...

2020 has been an excellent year for little Whiskyfun, despite the fact that this lousy website is neither SEO-ised, nor responsive, and not even secure. And it is grey-on-yellow. It’s pulled exactly 344,301 visits throughout December alone, up 18.2% vs 2019. 2020 has been a record year globally, do not ask me why. Engagement on social media has been pretty good too.

No thanks, we keep doing no paid gigs, ads, zooms or advertorials of any kinds.

I’ve tried my first official Braeval in 2020! And it was good!

I seem to notice that many have improved the way they were handling ‘wood’, and many young pedestrian Speysiders, for example, have been excellent because of that. Some say that’s because the Jim-Swan signature is spreading like wildfire.

Oak
There is no bad malt whisky left in Scotland and I do not believe you could still sort out the distilleries as 1st tier, 2nd tier and 3rd tier, for example. What’s more, since many names can’t be used anymore by the indies, those tend to use and push the former 2nd and 3rd tier names more and more. I’d bet that in ten years’ time, the first will be last.

Some folks publish rankings of whisky websites and blogs that are only based on Amazon’s Alexa. Rubbish, as WF, and it’s not the only one, is not quite compatible with Alexa. What’s more, ‘screw Amazon!’ There, I said it. Oh and there’s been another ranking in October (by klear) that put us as #1 worldwide, right above Glenfiddich and Laphroaig. More rubbish, WF has got 24K followers on social media, Glenfiddich have got 1,5M. So, rankings just make no sense, unless done by some real experts who would aggregate many worthy KPIs, as the large brands and companies that matter do. Anyway, I’m happy with WF’s figures. We may not have that many readers, but we have the ones who matter. And we have many friends, that’s what counts to me.

What’s really getting difficult to us poor bloggers is that there are ‘secret’ malts everywhere these days. And blends that are actually single. I’m still not sure that it’s such a good idea, for any brand, not to fully benefit from the aura and buzz that a great independent Bowmore, Macallan, Glenfarclas, Macallan, Laphroaig or Clynelish will generate, especially online. Take for example one of the greatest whiskies ever bottled, Bowmore Bouquet by Samaroli, and imagine it would have been bottled as a ‘Secret Islay’. Enthusiasts would have lauded it as a great bottle just as much (see Largiemeanoch), but the distillery wouldn’t have benefitted from that huge reputation! No?

Poor Jim Murray.

There are more and more excellent whiskies from ‘the rest of the world’, that’s a fact, and we don’t need to pinch our nose that often anymore. So after the age of innocence and the age of arrogance that followed it (I believe we’re still a bit in that age but I trust brand arrogance is becoming even more last year than last year), we may be about to enter the age of abundance. We’ll see…

There are more fake Japanese whiskies around and nobody seems to be doing anything against that, they just keep talking, hand on heart. Don’t get me wrong, it is legal to blend Canadian and Indian whiskies, to bottle the end result in Japan and to slap kanjis and Mount Fuji on them while labelling it as ‘Japanese whisky’. It’s just unethical and dishonest. Boo (I’m sure we’ll just copy-and-paste this here again next year).
STR. Shave, toast, rechar, the current philosophical stone. I believe it works.

A few online stores keep plundering Whiskyfun’s tasting notes and scores without having asked me and without even giving us credit or add a link. You stink, guys, please stop, we tend to know who you are because our friends talk to us. In general, we’re fine with serious people and entities, including auction houses such as Sotheby’s, Bonham’s or the specialised ones using our notes and scores when credits are given. When in doubt, just ask. Using our content to generate traffic to sell ads is not okay, though. Stealing our data, especially our scores, to feed whatever nasty digital entity you’re trying to build is not okay either. I’m sorry, but I’m looking at you, China and Vietnam. Please don’t. And do not forge our scores either, thanks. (Aplogies to the numerous splendid friends we've got in China and Vietnam).

Police

With Angus, we are about to be working on our list of the ‘Grands Crus’ distilleries, which hasn’t been updated for quite some years. But it is getting trickier because of all those ‘secret’ or ‘undisclosed’ bottlings. For example, won’t Clynelish’s ranking fall back because many great indies are now being bottled as ‘Sutherland Malt’ or ‘Secret Highland’ or ‘A Waxy Malt’ or whatever funny names our friends will be coming up with? And Highland Park and the Secret Orkney Malts? And Macallan? A Fifth Cru Classé? A Cru Bourgeois? We’ll see… BTW cheques are to be mailed to WF's Alsatian headquarters.

The malts we tasted the most since the beginnings:
Caol Ila - 650
Highland Park - 567
Bowmore – 555
Springbank and variants - 472
Laphroaig – 466
Clynelish - 437
Ardbeg – 426
Bruichladdich and variants – 388
Bunnahabhain – 361
Macallan – 311
Glenfarclas – 307
Port Ellen - 286
Glen Grant  - 285
Glenlivet – 246
Longmorn - 231
Glenrothes – 220
Mortlach - 206
Ben Nevis – 202

Sooner or later the whisky industry will have to talk more boldly about climate change and carbon footprints, before other entities start to spread false facts and information.

On to 2021, let's move on...

 

 

 

Angus's Remarks

 

 

I don’t have too much to add to what Serge has said, and in fact I agree with most of it, just maybe not that bit about there being no bad whisky left in Scotland ;-)

 

 

I think the polarisation of our world along deeply partisan lines is starting to be seen more and more in whisky. Which is of course a great shame and absolutely made worse by social media and its toxic algorithms. Perhaps the most clear example of this to date was that whole ‘Murraygate’ ridiculousness. For me the most interesting thing about this was how it allowed aspects of this nasty wider culture war (wokeism, sexism, tired and lazy arguments about ‘free speech’) access into the whisky sphere. A lot of the bluster this incident kindled online was abusive, utterly un-constructive and downright rotten. It’s a phenomenon you see in other ways as well, with disagreements, tribal attitudes, conspiracist thinking and opinions becoming more entrenched within echo chambers. Hopefully a return of physical interactions and festivals etc in 2021 might herald more thoughtfulness and positivity once again. I am increasingly convinced that social media is a chilly arena, hostile to nuance and ill-suited to constructive discourse. In short: I miss going to the pub.

 

 

I also think the reaction of the industry at large to Murraygate - many companies putting out statements distancing themselves from Murray etc - was pathetically performative and hypocritical in the extreme. These are companies that in recent months and years have been happy to fill up whisky festivals with voiceless female eye candy for male whisky drinkers. Or those who backed Murray and gave him a platform willingly for years despite knowing only too well his attitudes.

 

 

Arguably, even imperfect change is still change, but time will tell if any positivity has stuck. I don’t think anyone really emerged from this whole sorry debacle smelling of 1980s Bowmore!

 

 

At the outset of 2020, before Covid swept the news slate clean, it looked set to be the year in which the climate crisis we are living through finally arrived at the forefront of global consciousness. It’s a subject which utterly dwarfs whisky but is, perhaps more than any other, truly universal to all aspects of the human existence now. Everything we do and love exists in relation to it. As such we should endeavour to frame whisky and our discussions of it and its future within the wider context of ongoing climate breakdown. It will only become more relevant as this decade unfolds, and whisky will not be spared the reforms required by adaptation and mitigation.

 

 

Let’s not dwell on the negative though. I fully agree with Serge that there are more and more great whiskies around, although I think there’s still a fair amount of good but boring whisky too. I think the likelihood of finding whiskies that hover consistently around the 90% mark in terms of quality has never been higher. My only caveat is that, while many of these whiskies are technically brilliant, they often lack something of a soul - something ‘extra’ that elevates them in ways that language must stretch beyond the realm of flavour to articulate. This is the difference in my view between making whisky with handbooks and science and striking out with instinct and intellect. I think this is really what the 2020s as a decade will be about for whisky. It makes me extremely excited and happy with a sense that we are likely on the cusp of a golden age for serious, deliberate and thoughtful whisky creation around the world.

 

 

That last point is especially pertinent to me as a Scot. I also agree with Serge that almost every country seems to produce very good whisky somewhere these days (England, America and Sweden in particular in my view seem to be reaching higher all the time). However, I do not for a second consider this a bad thing and I certainly don’t think that this shift in any way endangers Scotland or its so called ‘crown’. This kind of tiresome sensationalism still turns up as slow news day filler in newspapers from time to time.

World  

 

First of all, improvements in quality, wherever they happen, are never a bad thing. Secondly, and it shouldn’t really need saying, Scotland is Scotland. I’ve spent more time within my own country this year than any other, by exploring it in renewed detail I’ve been reminded what an utterly spellbinding, ancient and distinctive land I am lucky enough to call home. Identity in whisky is multi-facetted and goes beyond ingredients and process; no other country can make Scottish whisky.

 

 

Conversely, if I fall in love with a whisky from another part of the world it will be precisely because of where and what it is - I have no interest for Scotland to become Loch Kavalan or for Texas to start making Glenfiddich (though it would admittedly be a fun experiment). Location invariably forges identity, for better and for worse. Though don’t misconstrue this as a call to embrace terroir in whisky. This is another popular subject these days, and one I’ve got plenty to say on, but I’ve neither the time or bandwidth to really dig into it here. 

 

 

I would hope, instead, that the coming decade sees healthy competition and a degree of cross-border inspiration. A concerted effort to be and do better, to nurture a worldly and absolutist strive for quality over and above a lazy clutch at short term wood gimmickry, sensationalism and laziness. There is room amongst the big blending beasts and the smaller, single-malt focussed independents and mainstay big names, to evolve more towards this approach. Certainly, Diageo’s Brora and Port Ellen will be interesting to watch with this in mind, just as we’ll continue to be gripped by the unfolding stories of Dornoch, Smögen and Bimber. Scotland’s whiskies have undoubtedly improved in the last fifteen years or so, but I think they can improve further still. If the result of malt whisky’s global boom is that Scotland (or, enough of Scotland) resolves to compete then that can only be good news. With the current wealth of new and genuinely interesting distilleries everywhere I think we’re on the frontier of all that and more.

 

 

 

 

Update: Forgot to publish this... Not that it should matter...

 

Favourite recent bottling of the year
Serge   93   Brora 41 yo 1978/2019 (45%, OB, Casks of Distinction, for Emmanuel Dron, Bihan Yang and Edward Zeng, ASB and refill hogshead) 
Angus   93   Coleburn 47 yo 1972/2020 (62.4%, Gordon & MacPhail 125th Anniversary, cask #3511, refill sherry puncheon, 363 bottles)
Longrow 1994/2020 (52.1%, North Star, refill hogshead, 130 bottles)
 
Favourite older bottling of the year
Serge   96   Clynelish 12 yo (56.9%, OB for Edward & Edward, white label, no rotation year) 
Angus   98   Bowmore 18 yo 1966/1984 (53%, Samaroli ‘Bouquet’, 720 bottles)
 
Favourite bang for your buck bottling of the year
Serge   91   Pulteney 14 yo 2006/2020 (55.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)
Angus   90   A Highland Distillery 10 yo 2010/2020 (58.4%, Watt Whisky, 280 bottles)
 
Favourite malternative of the year
Serge   94   Domaine de Baraillon 1918/2019 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)
Angus   93   Rouyer Guillet 1865 (42%, OB, cognac, AA Baker Import, circa 1960)
 
Lemon Prize of the year
Serge   02   Dujardin ‘Vieux Blue Label’ (35%, OB, Spirit Drink, Dutch brandy, +/-2015)
Angus   57   Flower Of Scotland 125th Anniversary Kirkcaldy Football Club
Glenrothes 1988/2004 (53.5%, James MacArthur ‘Old Masters’, cask #7022)
 

January 1, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Ancient Malts To Welcome 2021
There has always seemed to be a great division of feeling around this time of year. Some relish the festive spirt of waving goodbye to one year and ushering in the new one. A time of renewal, fresh beginnings, sharpened resolve, keeping the fire alive through the darkest winter nights and all sealed with a good dash of hedonism.

 

Then there is the other side which feels the winter blues more keenly, feels the darkness press in a little too tightly. Those that want to go to bed early and recoil from the sense of time passing; another year gone and things unfinished - or yet to be started. I’ve always felt naturally at home in the former category, indeed I’ve always cherished our Hogmanay celebrations here in Scotland. It’s a time which lends itself naturally to friends, family, cosy fires, music and whisky. Obviously, 2020 has been a year unlike any other, and for me there’s a weight of melancholy that hangs around this Hogmanay. There won’t be any grand celebrations this year, glad as I am to see the back of 2020 and hopeful as I am that 2021 will be, at the very least, better. However, one thing remains consistent, and that is my desire to focus on what should almost certainly be some great and fascinating whiskies to mark the turning of the year. I’ve been sitting on these samples for a while now, waiting to see if fitting sparring partners would show up, but I think instead it would be more fitting to just do them all in one short and sweet blaze of glory.

 

 

Happy new year and here’s to 2021!

 

 

Glendronach NAS (75 proof, OB, 1950s)

Glendronach NAS (75 proof, OB, 1950s)
A bottle I opened for my 30th birthday, which feels like it was but a mere few of centuries ago. This is my last sample and I realised I never wrote notes, so let’s send it out in style. Needless to say this livery is pretty iconic and has influenced more than a few labels over the years… Colour: deep gold. Nose: this extremely typical profile that meshes old style malt whisky with old bottle effect. Metal and shoe polishes with mechanical oils, greasy toolbox rags, hessian and a rather light and fragrant peat with herbal shades. Getting rather sooty and also meaty with many meat stocks, bouillon, bone marrow and coal smoke. A style which just does not exist at all anywhere in today’s world as far as I’m aware. Sheep wool, mutton, suet, linseed oil, mushroom tea. Hypnotically fascinating stuff that you could nose and dissect for hours. Mouth: it’s peatier than I recall, but perhaps time away from the bottle with a touch of air has done that. I’d also say it feels weightier than 43%. There’s a lot of dry herbs, wee tarry notes, black pepper, smoked teas and its extremely camphory with olive and cod-liver oils. Some more metallic touches which is this OBE coming through again. Peaty, savoury, roots, umami and full of turf, dried herbs, meat stocks and various broths and soups. Finish: good length, on metal polish, black pepper, wood spices, lanolin, camphor, tar, soot and leaf mulch. Some wonderfully soft and spicy peat smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: Deeply emotional whisky to try, even if it isn’t quite perfect and that you can feel these wee inclusions of OBE diminish it in a technical sense slightly. It’s still a remarkable education to experience such flavours. Now, to find a 100 proof version…
SGP: 373 - 88 points.

 
 

 

Smith’s Glenlivet Liqueur Scotch Whisky (70 proof, Mayor, Sworder & Co Ltd, 1930s)

Smith’s Glenlivet Liqueur Scotch Whisky (70 proof, Mayor, Sworder & Co Ltd, 1930s)
An ancient bottle, very generously opened by Olivier. This bottle ended up as part of a large whisky collection in Denver Colorado, before finding its way back to Scotland to finally be cracked open in Edinburgh. These rather amazing journeys are always part of the joy of such old bottles to me - and why I think it’s worth keeping bottles for the future on occasion. Colour: brownish amber. Nose: ahh, an exquisite nose. Quinces, tinned fruits in syrup, peaches, apricots, plum wine, ancient sauternes, long-aged mead, very old yellow Chartreuse. One of those old bottles that says ‘liqueur’ and makes you really wonder if some sort of ex-Benedictine cask wasn’t involved at some point. The whole profile just screams syrupy, sticky, sugary maturity. Myriad notes of jams, fruit preserves and cordials. In the background tiny notes of rancio and wee herbal waxy touches. Mouth: it’s undeniably fragile. But there’s beauty here aplenty too. Manuka honey, praline, dark chocolate truffle, cocoa powder, aged mead that’s drying out, herbal extracts and generally more of these herbal liqueur profiles. Seriously, did they add sugar to this? It wouldn’t surprise me in the least, I’m sure there are many, many practices common in this era that we just know nothing about now. Swept under the carpet of history. Anyway, there’s now also some raisins, cream sherry and chocolate liqueur drizzled over boozy cherries. I’m getting carried away here. Finish: medium and returning to this impression of boozy winter fruits. Christmas pudding drowned in old armagnac, apricot brandy and still this wonderfully persistent chocolatey vibe. Comments: You could quaff litres of this stuff at this time of year. The nose was utterly spellbinding, whereas the palate probably lacked a few notches of oomph. This bottled around 46% would have been a total killer. However, as it is, this is still rather heartbreaking beautiful ancient malt whisky. Tastes like they added around one or two bushes of old Chateau d’Yquem though.
SGP: 652 - 91 points.

 

 

Glenlivet 12 yo (18 under proof, Alexander MacKintyre & Sons of Tomintoul, circa 1920s)

Glenlivet 12 yo (18 under proof, Alexander MacKintyre & Sons of Tomintoul, circa 1920s)
An ancient bottle with a driven cork probably from around the early 1920s. 18 under proof equates to 46.8% in today’s money, although this one may have lost one or two degrees along the way. Once again we have Olivier to thank for opening this amazing old relic. Colour: gold. Nose: yellow fruits, acacia honey, overripe melon, peaches, nectar, pollens - the most stunningly elegant and layered aroma. It oozes this impression of fatness and texture but is also riddled with these soft, complex fruity touches which you just almost never find in such ancient bottles. Tinned fruits preserved in their own syrups, yellow flowers and ancient meat laced with salt. Hypnotic and totally stunning. Mouth: the insulation provided by the higher alcohol is immediately evident. The mouthfeel is just wonderful and this sense of synchronicity with the nose - that you rarely get with much older whiskies - really sings here with all these sticky yellow fruits and syrups. Quince, apricot jam, golden sultans, the most gentle and elegant of peat smokes and wee herbal kisses. Beyond that the complexity really builds with orange peel, rose syrup, cardamom and bitter herbal teas. Finish: medium and on many softer spice tones, white pepper, bitter citrus piths, kumquat and   some rather dusty but punchy waxiness. Comments: Spellbinding, haunting old malt whisky. Once again a flavour profile which is totally extinct but, unlike the Glendronach for example, there’s a little more shared DNA with later production decades in terms of the freshness and ripeness of the fruit components. However, that may just be the preservative power of the higher alcohol, which has clearly worked some serious magic here. Anyway, whatever alchemy is at play, this is an utterly incredible old bottle!
SGP: 652 - 93 points.

 

 

Glen Grant 10 yo (100 proof, Moray Bonding Co, 1950s)

Glen Grant 10 yo (100 proof, Moray Bonding Co, 1950s)
Old single malts at 100 proof from this era are extremely rare, so understandably I was very happy to get my hands on this one. A bottle I opened for the Whisky Show Old & Rare back in February at the start of this year, a mere 150 years ago… Colour: deep gold. Nose: pow, and you’re dead! Just a bewildering mix of natural tar, nectars, soft, herbal peat smoke, crystallised orange peel, mead, old green Chartreuse and many tiny notes of dried flowers, juniper, exotic fruit teas, waxes, old leather, toolboxes, bouillon and various meat stocks and broths. This very umami / savoury / herbal profile that very old malts such as this seem to display in abundance. You really get the impression this is something to do with peat and the way it kind of crumbles in the bottle over the course of decades into myriad sub-component flavours and aromas. With water: only one or two drops and it becomes amazing, similar in profile but with the fruits elevated and in harmony with these other aspects. Dried and crystallised citrus and exotic fruits, herbal and smoked teas and a rather pristine and chiselled salinity. Mouth: gah! Just immense! Like a smoothie made of leather and pure tar! Flinty, smoky minerals, meat broths mixed with kerosine, tarred old rope, camphor, pine resins, herbal-infused olive oil, slated liquorice and even wee touches of brine and deep, muscular peat smoke now. Utterly stunning! With water: holy shit! I’m sorry but this is becoming utterly incredible. Call the anti-maltoporn brigade, immediately if you don’t mind, although I know they’re busy at this time of year. Finish: endless, utterly hypnotic, poetically glorious, mind-blowing and peaty! Comments: Between this and the Glenlivet 12 yo you just know that alcohol is the key to whisky’s long-term preservation in glass. Even bottles with good levels suffer over decades with OBE it seems, whereas here the level was on the low side and time seems to have done it nothing but wonders. A spellbinding and utterly brilliant whisky that reminds you why you love this daft spirit in the first place.
SGP: 575 - 95 points.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 27 yo 1947/1975 (90.5 proof, Matthew Gloag & Son)
At the time I think this would have counted as a semi-official bottling. There’s also a more common version at 75 proof, however this version at what is almost certainly natural strength (51.6%) is the only version of this one I ever saw. Another bottle I cracked for Old & Rare earlier this year and one that Serge already recorded notes for and was suitably impressed (WF 94). Colour: gold. Nose: of course Bunnahabhain during this era was - like all Islay makes at the time - peated. Here is shows in abundance and in fact it kind of speaks with a Bowmore accent as there’s many subtle fruits emerging alongside this extremely elegant, coastal peat smoke profile. Seawater, pink grapefruit, lemon peel, guava and then tarred hessian, camphor and smoked sea salt with iodine drops. Medicines, pristine salinity, natural tar and many delicate coastal aspects underneath. Stunning complex and playful in the way it keeps on evolving. With water: fruits, fruits, fruits. But gently so, this sense of delicate and poised fruitiness composed of crystallised grapefruit, lime, kumquat and passion fruit. Mouth: oh dear, this is incredible. The peat on the nose plays tricks with you and you could almost think it’s some top notch 60s Islay whisky, but here there’s no room for equivocating - this is something more old school altogether. The texture and the weight are incredible. Fat, glycerol peat, herbal, turfy smoke and an almost gelatinous medicinal quality. The fruits are also there but it’s more towards tangerines, grapefruit, blood orange and many rather sappy and herbal extract aspects, wintergreen, sandalwood and fir wood. With water: cohesion and perfection. All aligning on this extremely syrupy, textural collision of oily peat, herbal liqueurs, fruit syrups, cough medicines, wormwood and tiny flashes of wonderfully fresh salinity and coastal touches. Finish: long and extremely resinous, herbal, sooty, delicately peaty, smoky and medical. More crystallised fruits too. Comments: Amazing to try such an ancient Islay whisky, especially one that shed its peat so notably for several decades later on, which really serves to emphasise what a historical and different style this is. Like the Glen Grant, the ABV here has really preserved it, and what you’re left with is a profoundly vivid and irrefutable impression of just how different Scottish malt whiskies tasted in these eras. I think I concur with Serge on this one.
SGP: 666 - 94 points.

 

 

Hugs to Olivier!

 

 

 

Serge's turn to celebrate 2021, with...

 

Seven old French brandies
for The New Year

Let’s just further plunder WF’s shelves and boxes, while hoping that this year brings great new whiskies, brandies and rums, as well as new goals, new achievements, and unknown aromas and flavours. Wishing you a year loaded with more happiness and better ethanol. Remember, in that respect less is more, provided it is better. Happy New Year!

Now, on to this wee box… And why not kick this off with a little 1979?

La Licorne 1979 (52.3%, OB for HNWS Taiwan, armagnac, cask #196, 432 bottles)

La Licorne 1979 (52.3%, OB for HNWS Taiwan, armagnac, cask #196, 432 bottles) Four stars
I’ve never heard of La Licorne (The Unicorn) but that doesn’t mean much. We don’t do dragons either ;-). Colour: very deep gold. Nose: it is a pretty easy armagnac, both fresh and fruity and on muscovado sugar and roasted raisins. A little toasted oak, some fudge, peach jam, vieille prune, vin doux naturel, some caramel, a wee feeling of PX… With water: chocolate and cigars, espresso coffee, a drop of old balsamic vinegar, touches of clove, then menthol and pine resin… That’s all well and good, and what one should expect from some well-aged classic armagnac that’s been dating old oak for years and years. Mouth (neat): on ripe fruits, including green ones (gooseberries, greengages, rhubarb – hardly a fruit, I know)… Then toasted oak and toffee, plus bags of raisins. Crunching coffee beans, that’s the wood. With water: peppers, coffee dregs, cocoa, lemon zests, pine resin… Once again, this is very good classic armagnac. Finish: rather medium, mentholy, with a tiny pinch of salt and even more ground coffee in the aftertaste. We’ve had a whole spoonful. Also a little marmalade, a little black pepper. Comments: a pretty dry high-quality armagnac. You could have this instead of coffee as your postprandial drink.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Let’s go back to the Beatles…

Aurian 1966/2020 (53%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, armagnac)

Aurian 1966/2020 (53%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, armagnac) Four stars
The 1979 by Aurian had been really good, if a tad too wooded for me. Colour: red copper amber. Nose: all right, pinewood, terpenes, saps, putty, carbolineum, glue, pinecones… Well, in theory, this should be very woody indeed, but let’s let water work its magic… With water: classic acetone-y notes for a short while, nail polish remover, then many more pine needles, eucalyptus, beedis, lemon essence, lemongrass and just walnuts, so all is fine now and even more than that. Lovely nose once you’ve talked to it. Mouth (neat): a lot of oak (and affiliated molecules) but on the other hand, there’s a thick, almost creamy fruitiness (apricots, oranges, plums) that kind of balances all that. With water: tart oak and grape-iness, this could almost have been marc de Bourgogne. Perfect drop when you go skiing, with just the right amount of rusticity. Finish: long, still a notch on glue and pine essence. Swiss chards, cocoa, black tobacco (Gitanes). Comments: some very good old and rustic armagnac that will remind everyone that it was made in the country. Similar style as that of the Licorne.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Since we’re in the mid 1960s…

Domaine de Baraillon 1965/2019 (45%, OB, Bas-armagnac)

Domaine de Baraillon 1965/2019 (45%, OB, Bas-armagnac) Four stars
Crikey, I’ve still got the taste of that 1918 on my tongue and in my mind. What a drop that was, I’m glad I managed to secure a bottle (in pre-Brexit terms, neener-neener!) Colour: dark amber. Nose: blam. Cheng-pi (dried fermented mandarin skins), liquorice, menthol, aniseed, pinewood, verbena… Really in another league, Baraillon…  Mouth: just like the others, it starts a little dry and oaky, perhaps a little too much on over-infused black tea and ultra-black chocolate, but oranges both bitter and regular are bailing out in the background. Having said that, it may not display the same sheer brightness as other Baraillons. More Gitanes tobacco (did the distillers throw a few butts of ‘papier maïs’ into the still, back in 1965?) We’ll never know… Finish: rather miraculous since oranges, olive oil and honey seem to be willing to come to the rescue. Having said that, oak, cocoa and Gauloise butts are back in the aftertaste. Comments: absolutely lovely, but as I said… Some have been better in my book. High mark though.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

The next one should make perfect sense…

Domaine de Baraillon 1962/2019 (40%, OB, Bas-armagnac)

Domaine de Baraillon 1962/2019 (40%, OB, Bas-armagnac) Four stars and a half
Watch it, only 40% vol., so danger zone ahead of us… The swinging sixties, they said… Colour: copper amber. Nose: it is soft and you would sometimes believe you’re nosing some very old moscatel. Nothing wrong in that. Now you could also believe you’re nosing some 1938-1940 Macallan, if that rings a bell to you. Splendid figs and quinces, melissa water, honeys, a tiny metallic touch, one of dried mushrooms, cigars, old furniture polish (old presbytery), chocolate and tobacco, bergamots, lanolin, dried goji berries, raisins… The complexity is rather astounding here, it’s just that those 40% vol. are scaring us to death. What will happen on our palates?... Mouth: well well well, we wouldn’t have refused two or three extra-percents, I’m afraid most ‘modern palates’ would find this a tad flabby, despite the brilliant range of fruity, floral and herbal aromas that come before thee. On the other hand, who would resist quince jelly? And baklavas? Orange blossom water? Wormwood and woodruff? Yellow chartreuse? It’s just that I’m missing those two extra-degrees. Excuse me? Add a few drops of full-strength vodka? You’re not serious! Finish: rather short, as expected, but complex, rather more on tobacco and walnut skins. Comments: fantastic armagnac. I may try to add a few drops of high-strength vodka but I first need to make sure no one’s watching.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Wouldn’t the answer lie in history? Let’s see…

Domaine de Baraillon 1929/2019 (40%, OB, Bas-armagnac)

Domaine de Baraillon 1929/2019 (40%, OB, Bas-armagnac) Five stars
Imagine, 1929. I’m sure this one’s spent some time in demi-johns. As for the vintage here, I sure shan’t mention the Great Depression, rather the fact that it was in 1929 that French Prime Minister Aristide Briand first brought up the subject of an European Federation. Colour: red amber. Nose: very delicate and extremely floral this time. Peonies, wallflowers, lilac, nectars and honeys… I believe this is rather sublime and that lower strengths do go well with this kind of profile. The exception that proves the rule. Old books and furniture, rosewood, cherry jam, viognier (or Condrieu), fig wine, drops of mead, tokay, a little mint and camphor… This really is a sublime nose. Mouth: a tad more gritty and rustic on the palate, almost calavados-y, with notes of sour apples and damson spirit. Vieille prune all over again, chouchen (distilled mead), even ‘Glenlivet’, some cocoa, black tobacco, overripe apples… Well let’s not quibble, it’s still excellent, it’s just that the nose was totally out of this world. Finish: medium and rather on roasted raisins and burnt brioche. Comments: it is extremely rare that I would go up to 90 just because of a stunning nose. Extremely rare indeed, but not totally unseen. Proof:
SGP:561 – 90 points.

On to cognac and older-yet vintages…

Petite-Champagne 1919 (43%, Maison Prunier Paris, +/-1950)

Petite-Champagne 1919 (43%, Maison Prunier Paris, +/-1950) Five stars
Some lovely old cognac that Angus has found before Brexit. It’s to be noted that this is not from the well-known cognac house Prunier – although it could be, rather from the very art-déco restaurant and delicatessen that’s located avenue Victor-Hugo in Paris and that used to belong to Yves Saint-Laurent for a while. I agree I should have tried this along the Baraillon 1918, but there, perfection is not of this world. Colour: deep gold. Nose: you have to understand that Maison Prunier has always been a luxury institution, more or less like Fauchon or Hédiard, and that shows in this superb nose. Certainly not one that would go into all directions, as it’s rather tight and focussed on honey, sultanas, mirabelles and just a tiny touch of eucalyptus. The thing is, those are ueber-first class honeys, sultanas, mirabelles and eucalyptus. Outstanding nose, as straight and immediate as a great chardonnay, for example. They’re never coming apart! Mouth: et voilà, perfection. Heather honey, peach in syrup (very obvious), quinces and figs – what a winning combo – and a fab oiliness on your tongue, as if someone had added some liquid beeswax into the casks. A little olive oil too, that’s always a great signature. Finish: medium, oilier yet, even more honeyed, and yet all elegance and, I would add, worthy discretion and precision. Comments: petite champagne, big cognac (why be so trivial, S.?) Stunning old bottle that should have benefitted from quite a few decades in the restaurant’s cellar. Also check the old cognacs at La Tour d’Argent next time you’re there.
SGP:651 - 93 points.

Go further back or not go further back? Mind you, Covid could eat us right tomorrow, so why wait?

Héritage René Rivière Lot 1906 ‘La Fine Fleur’ (40,2%, Malternatives Belgium, Borderies, 2020)

Héritage René Rivière Lot 1906 ‘La Fine Fleur’ (40,2%, Malternatives Belgium, Borderies, 2020) Four stars
La fine fleur means the cream of the crop, while Lot 1906 should mean vintage 1906 – I suppose they just haven’t got all the proper records, stamps and signatures in the book. Provided they have the book, that is. But imagine, 1906, Clemenceau was probably the Prime Minister when this was distilled, as he took office on October 25, 1906. There were also great strikes in 1906, but well, this is France and France without strikes and demonstrations is like a guitar without strings. Did you know we even organise demonstrations for tourists? Every Saturday on the Champs-Elysées, starts around 14h00, don’t be late or you’ll miss the rubbish bins being set on fire and the water cannons! Colour: amber. Nose: forgot to say, this moving juice was transferred from oak to a demi-john in 1983, so technically, it should be around 77 years old. On the nose it’s rather on nuts and cakes, hazelnuts, biscuits, marzipan, apple compote, small bits of bananas perhaps, butter pears, hand cream… So it is pretty shy I would say, discreet, elegant… In short it does not impose itself at all. Mouth: it is still discreet and elegant, but it’s also got many more fruits than expected, with the aforementioned bits of bananas, as well as mead, the usual preserved peaches, and small herbal bits, coriander, lovage, mint… Pretty simple, but fresh and good. And remember, 1906. Finish: a little short but there, it’s refreshing and leaves no dryness. Unexpected strawberries in the aftertaste. Comments: I’ve just read that René Rivière, while he was a winegrower and distiller, has also been a ‘poilu’ in 1914/1918. But luckily, he came back from the great war while so many did not. I’m sure he’s had occasional sips of his very fine 1906 until his passing, in 1969.
SGP:641 - 85 points.
(95 emotional – à votre salut, René Rivière !).

No 19th century brandy in the box, so I say ‘à la r’voyure and bonne année !’ Let’s see if little Whiskyfun will hold for one more year…

(Merci Angus and everyone)



Previous entries (archived)

 

 

 

 
There's nothing more down there...
 



Golden Promise Whisky Bar Paris

Music
 

Performer:
Fraser Fifield and Graeme Stephen
Track:
Willie Murrays-Cockerel in the Creel
Please buy their music...

 
 

Whiskyfun FAQS
Whiskyfun Links
Check the
latest News at

Whisky Intelligence

SGP on whiskyfun

whisky and more

We want spittoons


iPhone whiskyfun
Read Whiskyfun's daily
posts
on your mobile

Whiskyfun's top whiskies

MM

Join Malt Maniacs

Rumaniacs

The GlenWonka


Interactive map Scotland



Whiskycast

Canadian Whisky

Michael Jackson

war on whisky fakers

FTC disclosure


Drink Blog Code

Whiskyfun ad free blog

PostRank

Foodista Drink Blog of the Day Badge




Minds and whisky

Art no ads

Top 10

Connsr