Google Whisky Fun by Serge and Angus, blog, reviews and tasting notes since 2002
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Serge whiskyfun

 

Whiskies 16,752
Other spirits 2,323
Angus 1,416

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (98)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
29)
Banff (5
2)
Ben Nevis (241)
Ben Wyvis
(3)
Benriach (1
92)
Benrinnes (
102)
Benromach (
79)
Bladnoch (
84)
Blair Athol (
95)
Bowmore (5
69)
Braes of Glenlivet (4
8)
Brora (1
41)
Bruichladdich (31
5)
Bunnahabhain (
406)

Caol Ila (704)
Caperdonich (
100)
Cardhu (3
8)
Clynelish (4
54)
Coleburn (2
5)
Convalmore (2
8)
Cragganmore (84)
Craigduff (4)
Craigellachie (
105)
Dailuaine (89)
Dallas Dhu (41)
Dalmore (1
32)
Dalwhinnie (38)
Deanston (
54)
Dufftown (5
8)

Edradour (90)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
84)
Laphroaig (4
94)
Ledaig (1
37)
Linkwood (1
73)
Littlemill (1
27)
Loch Lomond (
80)
Lochside (72)
Longmorn (2
3
3)
Longrow (7
8)

Macallan (321)
Macduff (91)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
51)
Millburn (2
4)
Miltonduff (
102)
Mortlach (2
10)
Mosstowie (2
4)
Scapa (51)
Speyburn (
48)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (
403)
St-Magdalene (5
4)
Strathisla (
106)
Strathmill (
50)

 
 
Pete and Jack



2021
August 1
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

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'

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
21

 
Whiskyfun

Scotch Legal Announcement


 
 

September 16, 2021


Whiskyfun

Isn't Bladnoch back?

Bladnoch is one of those distilleries that I've never quite understood. I've tried some marvellously clean distillates in the past, some feinty ones as well, but all the recent bottlings that had been sabotaged with very silly wine casks have been totally sub-par in my book.  But we keep faith, while remembering the very engaging Raymond Armstrong.

Bladnoch

Bladnoch 'Vinaya' (46.7%, OB, +/-2020)

Bladnoch 'Vinaya' (46.7%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
My god, Vinaya, what a name. Why not Vinassery? Winganza? What's even odder is that this is classic ex-bourbon, with only a little 'old sherry' thrown into the mix. So despite the lack of age statement, there's hope here… Colour: light gold. Nose: mashed turnips, new sneakers, magazines, margarine (rather proud about that quasi-alliteration), then sourdough, leaven, soot and grist, which is obviously nicer. A tad tough but I rather enjoy this sooty side. Mouth: we're far from the old Bladnochs' fat citrus, but I rather like this newer style, which shows more oak spices, ginger, cinnamon, but also this doughy, bready, fermentary side that's always very pleasant in malt whisky. I have to check but this could well be my favourite recent 'cubist' Bladnoch. Talking about the bottle, not about the whisky. Finish: medium, on fresh bread and oak spices, with touches of rye. Of course there's no rye. Comments: good, I'm deeply happy, I know I've said bad things about Bladnoch, but this time I'm extremely positive. Great progress in Wigtown, humblest kudos deserved.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Bladnoch 11 yo 'First Release' (46.7%, OB, bourbon and red wine, +/-2019)

Bladnoch 11 yo 'First Release' (46.7%, OB, bourbon and red wine, +/-2019) Four stars
Vorsicht, some Californian red wine in sight! I'm sorry but unless carefully STRised, red wine is to malt whisky what pineapple is to pizza. Colour: light gold, with no roséness, hurray. Nose: sour and fermentary, a little feinty at first, but getting nicer, with some lime juice, dairy cream, notes of burrata, distant, fleeting whiffs of baby vomit, then a little caraway, aquavit, and pink grapefruits. Not your usual malt whisky, which is a clear asset as long as the palate's okay, let's see… Mouth: starts fine, fruity, clean, lemony, but the lactic notes do show up after just three seconds, with some yoghurt and double cream. That's not bad at all, in fact, since it would then be geared towards lemon tarte, with meringue s'il-vous-plaît. The nearest good thing in life after white truffles and Brora. And Frank Zappa. Finish: rather long and very lemony, with a green foundation that works very well. Green grapefruits and oranges – love green oranges as long as your gums are in good shape. Comments: I wasn't quite sure at first but I believe this is very excellent. Looks like Bladnoch is back, but we'd need confirmation.
SGP:561 - 86 points.

Confirmation he said, Charlie (Parker)…

Bladnoch 11 yo '2020 Release' (46.7%, OB, bourbon)

Bladnoch 11 yo '2020 Release' (46.7%, OB, bourbon) Four stars
Hurray, they've dumped the red wine! A brainwave if you ask me… Colour: light gold. Nose: absolutely lovely that I could double-check the influence of the red wine, just by comparison, even if this cask mix seems to have been a little more active, with rather more vanilla and ripe bananas. Globally, this is cleaner, less fermentary, more on cakes, breads, panettone, croissants, also flowers, acacia, zucchini, nectar… The former expression actually had quite some bubblegum, which would only come out when you compare them. I insist, comparison is reason. Whiffs of burnt pinewood here, teak, eucalyptus… A wee smokiness for sure. Mouth: very good, firm, solid, fruity, creamy, malty, modern, with more bananas, guavas, apples, even pears, vanilla, shortbread… It's clearly lost its yeasty side, but there is no reasons to complain. Finish: rather long, more herbal, lovely. More citrus in the aftertaste, while in my old book, citrus was Bladnoch's main marker. Ah the old 10 white label! Comments: it kind of got into line, which means that it's maybe a little less 'different' than before, but this kind of orthodoxy can be good, coz not all malts can be Springbank if you see what I mean. First-rate young malt whisky, I think I'm going to buy a bottle.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

I'm so happy, a malt enthusiast needs be enthusiastic. A 2021 Edition is out, I'll try it as soon as I can but don't hold your breath.

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

 

September 15, 2021


Whiskyfun


Glenlivet to
the power
of 7

An ueber-classic, the mother of all 'Glenlivets'. I've always believed, while so many other Distilleries were using the name as a suffix (Macallan-Glenlivet and so many others), that the former owners should have started to call their make 'Glenlivet-Glenlivet' instead of just 'Smith's Glenlivet'. Nah, I agree, bad idea I suppose, let's rather spend our energy trying to find a proper apéritif…
Magazine ad, USA, 1983. $20 back then >

Glenlivet 15 yo 'French Oak Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Glenlivet 15 yo 'French Oak Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars
40% vol. feels a little stingy for a 15, but let's see… Apparently, it's not all only about French oak, some American oak has been used too at some point. We've last tried the 15 'French Oak Reserve' back in 2011 and had thought it was pretty good (WF 81). Colour: light gold. Nose: typical Glenlivet, rather soft, with quite a lot of cereals, cornflakes, a little crème brûlée and even bananas flambéed, going then rather towards English tea, with a tiny whiff of warm paraffin. Pleasant soft and yet full nose. Mouth: creamy and rather 'American oak', quite bizarrely, with some custard and nougats. Tends to become grassier and a little sour over time, with this feeling of 'quick sherry' that's often encountered in whiskies that have spent a small part of their lives in conditioned 'sherry' casks. Finish: short, soft, light, not unpleasant at all. Just, yup, light. A little cinnamon. Comments: really light and easy, in the style of, say Cardhu or Knockando. Perhaps for those eternal beginners that we all have as friends ('do you have one that's not smoked?') Score unchanged.

SGP:341 – 81 points.

Perhaps another, more intriguing OB before we tackle a few IBS…

Glenlivet 12 yo 'Illicit Still' (48%, OB, The Original Stories, 2020)

Glenlivet 12 yo 'Illicit Still' (48%, OB, The Original Stories, 2020) Four stars
Did you already try the varnis… I mean the whisky they make in their wee 'illicit still' at the Distillery? Well, I did and you would believe it was rather made at the Castle of Aargh, if you ask me. But I believe this is just a 'tribute' bottling and that it does not shelter that juice. Colour: gold. Nose: pleasant, buttery, a little eau-de-vie-ish (raw kirschwasser), on cereals again, not too far from the 15 as far as the overall profile is concerned. I'm finding rather a lot of beeswax, those touches of paraffin again, kougelhopf and orange blossom water. A fresh box of Turkish delights straight from Istanbul, and those ripe apples that aren't unusual in Glenlivet. Nice. Mouth: very creamy, very candy-like, pretty waxy again, going towards honey sweets and preserved peaches and pears. A little icing sugar, cane syrup, then grassier notes, green tea, wee touches of turmeric and ginger from some oak that must have been pretty active… And vanilla. Finish: rather long, with more bubblegum and a few marshmallows. Pears as well, then spices and teas again. Comments: a more modern Glenlivet that they could as well have bottled in their Distillery Reserve Collection if you ask me. I find it very good. We're ready for the IBS (that should really be IBs, thank you Maurice)
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glenlivet 17 yo 2003/2021 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon barrel, cask #800356+58, 510 bottles)

Glenlivet 17 yo 2003/2021 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon barrel, cask #800356+58, 510 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: we're really very close to the Illicit one, with a similar fruity and cereally arrival on the nose, then rather honey and herbal teas. Apples, peaches, and once again a little beeswax. Wondering if they haven't been cranking-up the wax at Glenlivet in the early 2000s, maybe did they install some old cast-iron receivers? Because remember, it is in the old pans that the best soups are made. A drop of gewurz. Mouth: really good, a little more singular than the illicit one, that is to say with a little more piney oils and resins at first, then wild thyme and then gentler, easier notes of vanilla and indeed beeswax. Let's not forget the trademark apples. Finish: medium, rather oily, with notes of, well, waxed apples. Of course they do wax apples. Comments: it is really family.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glenlivet 16 yo 2004/2021 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon barrels, casks #800671-72, 510 bottles)

Glenlivet 16 yo 2004/2021 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon barrels, casks #800671-72, 510 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: a little more stamina and more bread, we're kind of closer to the barley here. The paraffin is louder too, there are church candles (amen), butterscotch and shortbread, plasticine, then a few crushed pine needles… Oak oils. Mouth: excellent, rather firmer than your usual Glenlivet, with an unexpected meatiness (nah it's no T-bone steak), then bitter ales and some tobacco. Gets then gentler though, on apple compote and vanilla. Some action in this one. Finish: rather long, on sliced apples, beeswax, a little marmalade, and soft cinnamon tea. A curious vinosity (fattish chardonnay) in the aftertaste, but of course there isn't any wine in there. Comments: very good and a little 'different'. What's the value of difference in whisky? You've got thirty minutes.

SGP:451 - 86 points.

Perhaps a bomb…

Glenlivet 12 yo 2007/2020 (66.3%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, Un-chillfiltered Collection, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900171, 309 bottles)

Glenlivet 12 yo 2007/2020 (66.3%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, Un-chillfiltered Collection, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900171, 309 bottles) Four stars and a half
I find it splendid that at 66% vol., the extremely distinguished bottlers would have decided to not chill-filter this insane baby. Colour: amber. Nose: more shoe polish than in a barracks and more spent engine oil than under an old Jag. We won't take any further chances… With water: sometimes pure magic happens when malt whisky encounters dry sherry. Bovril, umami sauce, beeswax, charcoal (BBQ) and deep-roasted beef, and really a lot of engine oil. Massive amounts of engine oil and metal polish. Mouth (neat): a mix of coffee, marmalade and gun oil. Oh and ethanol. With water: gentler, with much more marmalade and compote, chamomile tea, hawthorn, and just 'cakes'. Roasted pecans and chestnuts too. And there, burnt kougelhopf. And cloves and juniper berries. Finish: very long, bone-dry, very oloroso-y. Coffee, meat, tobacco and bitter chocolate. Comments: looks like TWE have diverted quite a few of these raw yet fantastic 2007 'livets by SigV. Rather in the style of the earliest A'bunadhs, GF 105, Mac 10 C/S…
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Some older ones…

Glenlivet 1978 (41.7%, The Perfect Fifth, cask #13523, 2021?)

Glenlivet 1978 (41.7%, The Perfect Fifth, cask #13523, 2021?) Four stars
I haven't seen this one online yet, but there, we have it. Picture of another bottling in the same range. Colour: greenish gold. Nail? Copper? Patch? Nose: crème au beurre and rhubarb wine, rusty nails and screws, sweetened sour fruits, plastic bags (remember?), leatherette, sour cream… All that works pretty well on the nose despite all those rather deviant notes, but as far as the palate's concerned, well, we're scared now… Mouth: well, it works, but once again we're far from what was to be expected (before we saw the colour). Old sweet wines, old Sauternes, raisins, Tuscan vinsanto, stuff like that, all bottles being very old. Old pine liqueur too, linseed oil… Now the low strength does not obligatorily raise a problem. Finish: medium and actually pretty good. Imagine raisins macerated in old yellow chartreuse (except that this whisky is green, I mean, literally). Comments: sometimes whiskies come my way while they would never make it to the market. This is a very unusual yet very good whisky, the kind that you sometimes encounter while touring warehouses, valinch in hand. They tend never to come out, especially since the colours will scare off many potential patrons.

SGP:471 - 85 points.

A last one…

Glenlivet 45 yo 1976/2021 (43.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill American hogshead, cask #1565)

Glenlivet 45 yo 1976/2021 (43.9%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill American hogshead, cask #1565) Five stars
45 years, we are really adding up here. Colour: light gold, the magic of refill. Nose: great old Meursault with a dollop of absinth. Honeysuckle, butter cream, beeswax, then various old apples and plums, an old rectory's orchard around the end of the month of august, vanilla, liquorice wood and fennel seeds, carrot tops, hay smoke, wood smoke, miso… As often when a whisky's this old, aromas tend to decompose into many tinier notes, some being almost inexpressible and yet there are there. What we sometimes call a 'fractal nose' (ouch). Mouth: fractal indeed, but rather drier this time, with more oak than the colour had suggested. Quite some wood oils, thuja, eucalyptus, pine and fir, some tobacco, hints of turpentine-like notes, then last year's apples, walnuts… What's particularly funny here is that this baby tends to improve over, say fifteen minutes, becoming brighter and fruitier, while very old whiskies would rather tend to lose steam and become drying. You know, the 'black tea effect'. I'm glad I'll manage to keep it around the 90-mark in my book. Finish: a little short, which is absolutely normal, but wonderfully herbal. Raisins marinated in herbal liqueur plus chicken soup. The aftertaste is particularly wonderful, with some lime popping out. It's always great when lemons, grapefruits and limes do that. There, one more point. Comments: this old glory never stopped improving, gaining one point every three or four minutes. Respect.

SGP:461 - 90 points.

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

 

September 14, 2021


Whiskyfun

summer

Summer Duets
New old and
old old Blair Athol
We have a fondness for Blair Athol. Because we first visited the distillery a long time ago, because there's some good food around, because there is/was Robertson's of Pitlochry in the neighbourhood, because of Edradour, because of the Keeper's banquets, because of the Moulin… And because the Distillery's picturesque, and because it can be a very good dram. Let's find two of them…

Blair Athol 32 yo 1988/2020 (48.7%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 96 bottles)

Blair Athol 32 yo 1988/2020 (48.7%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 96 bottles) Five stars
Always these lovely labels with true proprietary artwork. Colour: light gold. Nose: ooh sunflower and sesame oils, stewed rhubarb, granny smith, Grüner Veltlinger (no really, and I mean really), touches of chalk, bergamots, green gooseberries, crushed mistletoe, pine needles, parsley… It's another unusual profile, extremely elegant in my view, fresh as a walk in the woods after a heavy shower, with even touches of miso and savoury things that usually come from sherry. Not in this case. Mouth: time. This can only come from proper aging, with many delicate soft resinous flavours, many tiny citrus fruits, wee herbs, a feeling of gin fizz, perhaps even, okay I dare, pisco sour… It's really beautiful, perhaps a wee tad fragile here and there but that's almost an asset. Finish: medium to short, but delicate, with more lovely citrus, many never tasted before. Post-yuzu sorts for modern chefs? Lights honeys too and a little beeswax. Comments: a Bach suite, really. Very delicate, very elegant.
SGP:641 - 90 points.

Let's find a crazy old one…

Blair Atholl 23 yo 1966/1990 (57.1%, Cadenhead for Dival di Gabri, dumpy)

Blair Atholl 23 yo 1966/1990 (57.1%, Cadenhead for Dival di Gabri, dumpy) Four stars
You could find several such 1966s at 57.1%, I would suspect it was a large vatting that's then been proposed under various liveries, including the classic black dumpy, the tall bottle cream label, and this dumpy cream label for Italy, even if it says 'Special Individual Cask Bottling' on the label. And indeed it says 'Atholl' and not 'Athol', in true Cadenhead fashion. Relabelled in Italy? Imported unlabelled? Let's leave murky waters if you don't mind… Colour: lighter gold. Nose: we're not that far from the awesome Maltbarn, we're actually pretty close, with these subtle, refined notes of tiny yellow and white fruits, these flowers (honeysuckle and elderflowers), some shoe polish that wasn't to be found in the 1988 (but often to be encountered in these dumpies), orange blossom, woodruff, touches of fennel and celery… Truly a remarkable, very subtle nose, exactly what you would have expected from a Midlander in the old days. With water: sameish, with a little paraffin this time. Clearly a 'black dumpy' as far as the profile's concerned. Mouth (neat): right, this is where things become complicated. There's something obviously metallic that shouldn't quite be here (iron, silverware, aluminium) but that's not obligatorily off-putting, otherwise a pretty resinous development that may lead us to… organic shampoo for boomers? Other than that, oranges abound and manage to keep this funny combo afloat. In short, it is a little deviant and simply a little soapy, but that's almost part of this 'style'. A little Jägermeister too. With water: water works very well but the wee soapiness remains there. Finish: good length, with a little salt and some pine resin, plus pepper. Comments: careful with these old dumpies, even if this is not one of the oldest. A great dram but will it still be happily drinkable in, say 2030? 2040? In theory, 'collectors' should now let these being reconditioned in normalised bottles with proper coated glass and top-notch contemporary sealing. But that wouldn't be too romantic, would it? Unless you love iron and  soap…
SGP:462 - 86 points.

(Thank you Tim)

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

 

September 13, 2021


Whiskyfun

More Bastards and Blends

I mean, stuff coming with hip names, designs and stories, but no clear provenance. Sure we should care, even when the liquid is good! Let me give you an example that's a little stupid, but there. The new Aston Martins are faster and more reliable (not hard) than the older ones, but I still prefer to know that the new engines are actually Mercedes-Benz. Capeesh? Nah I agree, a very silly example, I could have rather used those smaller Mercedes-Benz that do actually shelter… Renault engines. Oh whatever, please scrap all that, let's just try these whiskies, randomly.

vache

Glensheil 5 yo 2011/2017 (46.1%, The Single Cask, cask # cask GR115C)

Glensheil 5 yo 2011/2017 (46.1%, The Single Cask, cask # cask GR115C) Two stars and a half
Hold on, many seem to say this is Loch Lomond, some that it's Glenrothes, while others say it's English, maybe because of the battle of Glensheil (the English defeated the Scottish Jacobites). Not even sure it belongs here, but the glass has been filled, so let us proceed… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: pretty simple, with some wood smoke and some grist, plus a sourness (hints of baby's upper output, see what I mean) and a growing chalkiness. Mouth: sweet and malty, with some cider apples, more chalk, touches of icing sugar, lemon gums… What's good here is that this is near-newmake, while being already palatable and kind of mature. A turning point. Finish: medium, gristy. Chalk and lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: there must be a story behind this wee baby. Pleasant and very natural, at least it's not been boosted/STRised.
SGP:451 - 79 points.

Electric Coo 27 yo 1993/2020 (42.1%, Electric Coo, Blended Scotch, refill sherry)

Electric Coo 27 yo 1993/2020 (42.1%, Electric Coo, Blended Scotch, refill sherry) Four stars and a half
This feels pretty 'Syd Barret', doesn't it, although the fact that this would be Mark Watt's and David Stirk's brainchild (apparently) would rather suggest a 'Jagger/Richards'. Let's see… Colour: gold. Nose: rather high malt content, only minimal 'empty coconut' aromas, if any. Apple pie with honey, maple syrup, and roasted pecans. Some fresh walnuts too, pack of Camels (they'll shut us down one day), drops of sourer wine, perhaps even a dollop of balsamico, over-overripe apples in the basement… Will you forgive me if I add 'something of the old Mac 30 blue label-blue box?' The grain's discreet. Mouth: I'm really not detecting much of the grain, perhaps a wee lightness? These hints of coconut water? All the rest is very good, on stewed orchard fruits and mildly spicy, er, spices. Walnut wine. Finish: medium, with more walnut wine, ale, mead, a touch of paprika, and dried fruits arriving a little late. Dried figs and café latte (do not listen, Starbucks). Comments: super good. Now, I would love to know a little more about the grain whiskies that have been involved here. Distilleries, cask #, proportions, exact vintages, wood, and even whether it was maize of wheat. Thanks in advance. PS the label also reminds of our favourite cheese when we were kids, La Vache Qui Rit (the laughing cow).
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Monkey Shoulder 'Batch 27' (40%, OB, blended malt, +/-2021)

Monkey Shoulder 'Batch 27' (40%, OB, blended malt, +/-2021) Two stars
William Grant's Monkey Shoulder has really become huge in France, so I say kudos, I hadn't wagered a penny on it when they launched it. They keep using that same 'batch 27' thing, I suppose it's only there to trick the people's inattentive brains with 'a number' (credible or not doesn't matter, Your Honour), which is one of all distillers' favourite ruses-of-the-trade, as we all know. You know, like Solera 23 etc. Colour: light gold. Nose: as I remembered it. Biscuits, porridge, a little cardboard… Now maybe did they improve it a little bit because I rather enjoy this earthiness that I had never found before. Whiffs of preserved pears and pineapples too. Kind of pleasant, or am I going soft? Mouth: I really think they improved it a little bit, it's rather fruitier, less cardboardy… Now most people drink it with ice. Finish: short, sweet. Not bad. A little tea and oak. Comments: they seem to have made it sweeter, older bottlings were really cardboardy, according to my old notes.
SGP:351 - 75 points.

Perhaps an old blend, to Boris…

House of Commons 12 yo 'No.1' (40%, OB, Buchanan's, +/-1985)

House of Commons 12 yo 'No.1' (40%, OB, Buchanan's, +/-1985) Three stars
I've been having this miniature for decades, I think since Miss Maggie's time.  Sadly, I haven't got any bottle of House of Lords in the stash. Colour: light gold. Nose: some old malts in there for sure, you do find soot, marrow, bouillon, metal polish, old coins and all that, as well as resins and mint, and apple pies of course. Really old style, with some possible OBE but we shall see… Mouth: starts well, on complex cakes and dried fruits, but this metallic side, which some people would sometimes call 'taste of glass' or 'taste of light' would then take over. On the other hand, some camphor and some softer spices manage to keep it all afloat and I would happily declare, Mr Speaker, that it remained a pretty good whisky. Finish: medium, on soups and sweeter broths involving raisins and other dried fruits. Comments: the better 'cuvées' by Buchanan's have often been superb. They're not very well-known within our circles, but I say that's a shame.
SGP:462 - 80 points.

Blended Grain 44 yo 1976/2021 (44.8%, Thompson Bros., 276 bottles)

Blended Grain 44 yo 1976/2021 (44.8%, Thompson Bros., 276 bottles) Four stars
All right, they're blending grains now. Apparently, this stems entirely from the Lowlands, so there shouldn't be any Invergordon in there. Colour: light gold. Nose: extremely soft and rather on maize and popcorn (North British?) as well as vanilla cake and soft halva. Sesame and peanut, gently. Wee whiffs of moss and fern, wet underbrush, shoe polish (as traces), bamboo shoots perhaps… What's particularly admirable is the fact that's there's very little coconut, if any, and very moderate amounts of vanilla. Oh and no varnish. Mouth: always this wee weakness that I find in just any grains (no core), but these notes of banana and pineapple wines are awesome, very delicate, almost refreshing. Little light chardonnay. Finish: not that short, sweet of course, not exactly sugary though, rather on grape and apple juice I would say. Comments: apart from the very old ex-sherry Invergordons that have always been the best grains in my book, this one's probably nearing the top. As far as grain whiskies go, that is.
SGP:640 - 87 points.

Speyside 'Very Old Vatted' (45.6%, Sansibar, blended malt, 485 bottles, 2015)

Speyside 'Very Old Vatted' (45.6%, Sansibar, blended malt, 485 bottles, 2015) Five stars
My God, this was bottled six years ago. Are we slow or not. Colour: gold. Nose: metal polish! Shoe polish! Malt soup! Umami! Glutamate! Wild mushrooms! Very old white Bourgogne! Roasted tofu! Jamaican coffee! Mouth: Speyside, really? This is pretty peaty, sooty, with tons of chalk and clay, white wine, fat Sancerre (I know I'm often mentioning Sancerre but in my wee mind, Sancerre and some Alsatian Rieslings really are 'whisky wines', meaning that they do share many aromatics with proper unengineered malt whisky.) Great Speysider, even if it's not very 'Speyside', except if some parts are really very old. I mean, around wartime, up to the 1950s. Doubt it… Finish: excellent, salty, savoury… Gamey aftertaste, with just a tiny soapiness that'll prevent me from going over… Comments: over this mark…
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Secret Speyside 8 yo (56.1%, Roger's Hidden Treasures, bourbon, 285 bottles)

Secret Speyside 8 yo (56.1%, Roger's Hidden Treasures, bourbon, 285 bottles, 2021) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: modern. Shortbread and butterscotch, crêpes, pears roasted in butter, raw Williams pears, young calvados… Looks like pears have taken over, or rather, haven't given up control yet. I like pears. With water: same, pears and porridge plus grist and husk. Mouth (neat): pear eau-de-vie ad libitum. I have the feeling that I've tried this before, and yet I'm dead sure I haven't. How bad is it Doctor? With water: isn't this rather a Secret Calvados Domfrontais? Honestly? Remember, in general, Domfrontais is sometimes more pears than apples, even if by law, it's rather minimum 30% pears. I'm sorry we're squatting this whisky session with Calvados issues… (a big Calvados session soon on WF.) Finish: medium, rather more on doughs and breads, barley, pastries… And pear liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: he/she who likes pears will love this. High-definition young malt from, from, from?...
SGP:751 - 87 points.

A Speyside Distillery 15 yo 2005/2021 (52.4%, Thompson Bros., 552 bottles)

A Speyside Distillery 15 yo 2005/2021 (52.4%, Thompson Bros., 552 bottles) Five stars
Two hoggies blended and finished for two years in oloroso. Some say the bird on the label suggests this is Glen Elgin, which those tax evaders at Google's would confirm. All right, but can you trust Google? Colour: light gold. Nose: nothing says this is not Glen Elgin. Glen Elgin is a superb distillate, with a magnificent fatness, this time we're finding a little miso, mutton suet, then sultanas, fresh mint, more miso… Wow wow wow. With water: the thing is, if this is Glen Elgin indeed, it is a completely outdated distillate, absolutely unmodern, even difficult at times, and certainly a little cerebral. Existential? And magnificent. Mouth (neat): huge, superb, fat, ueberly (what?) assertive, meaty, with a fab sourness. We're bordering cheese at times. With water: oh, please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade! Finish: long. Comments: what was that? It's bad whisky, like some of those ugly Picassos, it's just that it would transcend our usual codes and references. Great bad whisky with something pretty Springbanky. Another bad whisky that's fabulous, right? Ooh I feel I'm losing you… And by the way, is it actually Glen Elgin?
SGP:372 - 91 points.

Speyside 22 yo 1995/2018 (55%, Dramfool, Spirit of Speyside Exclusive, sherry butt, 156 bottles)

Speyside 22 yo 1995/2018 (55%, Dramfool, Spirit of Speyside Exclusive, sherry butt, 156 bottles) Two stars and a half
In the old days, we used to think that any anonymous or secret Speyside was Glenfarclas. Which means that we tried quite a few pretty bad Glenfarclasses that were not, in fact, Glenfarclas. Nothing is easy, is it? Colour: gold. Nose: a fat hotness, walnuts and struck matches, gunpowder, pinecones, smoked ham… With water: much gentler, with some manuka honey and dried figs, but wee touches of sulphur remain there, hiding in the dark. Mouth (neat): marmalade, tight citrusness, then bitterer piney stuff. Not too sure. With water: doesn't handle water extremely well. Chicken soup and dried dates. Finish: anecdotal. Dry and drying. Comments: rather surprising and a little un-Dramfool in my book. Or did we find their weaker spot? (we would have added 'LOL' fifteen years ago).
SGP:361 - 78 points.

Sea Shepherd 'Navy Strength Batch #1' (57.1%, Kirsch Import, 2020)

Sea Shepherd 'Navy Strength Batch #1' (57.1%, Kirsch Import, 2020) Four stars
A rather Bruichladdichy bottle. 10% of the sales go to Sea Shepherd. You just cannot be against that, so there, 100 points. Next… No, seriously, let's try it (S., you're a pain in the neck with your writings). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: fresh clean young Caol-Ila-type whisky. Kelp, seawater, oysters, ashes, fresh almonds, kippers. With water: carbolineum coming out. Mouth (neat): impeccable. Young, fresh, with notes of fresh paint (reminiscent of) otherwise almonds, brine, oysters, lemon… With water: saltier yet. Smoked oysters and just seawater. A lot of seawater. Finish: long, narrow and millimetric, extremely salty. You really feel like you've just swallowed a mouthful while you were swimming from Kennacraig to Port Askaig. Comments: pure young Islay (CI), pretty common but flawless. Go Sea Shepherd!
SGP:357 - 87 points.

Oh since we're doing peat why not a straight peater as our last one today?

Big Peat 'The Peatrichor' (53.8%, Douglas Laing, Feis Ile 2021, 5190 bottles)

Big Peat 'The Peatrichor' (53.8%, Douglas Laing, Feis Ile 2021, 5190 bottles) Four stars
Yeah I know Feis Ile was three months ago. Amazing that DL would manage to keep this series alive. Feels a bit like a 9th season on Netflix, but there, when it's good it's good, whatever the decorum. Oh and I suppose there isn't any Port Ellen inside anymore (ha-ha, very funny, S.) Colour: white wine. Nose: I mean, see the note for the Sea Shepherd, this is virtually the same whisky (minus the good cause, naturally). With water: sameish. A lot of iodine and big fat oysters – we call them No.0 (zero). Mouth (neat): same, very good. Big salt. With water: a notch stronger with the peat, otherwise same as the Sea Shepherd. Finish: grittier. A feeling of drying ashes. Comments: excellent, as usual. Just hope we won't miss Big Peat 'The Kabul Equinox Tribute To Joe Biden' Edition later in the end of September.
SGP:357 - 87 points.

Bye.

(Merci Lucero !)

 

September 12, 2021


Whiskyfun

Rumming away

Beenleigh
I agree that's a terrible headline too, but let's see what we've got on the tasting table… Mostly new indie stuff at rocket-fuel strength, actually, so wish me luck.

Black Tot 'Master Blender's Reserve Rum 2021' (54.5%, Elixir Distillers, blended rum, 6000 bottles)

Black Tot 'Master Blender's Reserve Rum 2021' (54.5%, Elixir Distillers, blended rum, 6000 bottles) Four stars and a half
I'm always finding it rather moving when very altruistic distillers and master blenders accept to part with their own reserves. By the way, for the first time distinguished Master Blender Oliver Chilton has added some Australian rum to the Black Tot composition; could that be Beenleigh? Other than that, it's all a 'British' rum with Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad. Colour: gold. Nose: you would almost believe you could read through this one on the nose, finding the Jamaican(s), Trinidadian, Bajan… It's pretty estery, diesely, with some meatiness (bacon) and quite some liquorice and star anise, then overripe bananas and fermenting pineapples. Touches of olives, which I always find very Jamaican (although I've never checked if they were growing olives in Jamaica) and a handful of raisins. With water: gets drier, on many herbal teas and even more liquorice (sticks). Very fresh allspice mix. Mouth (neat): ultra-classic rich British-style rum, with heavy liquorice, petrol and rotting topical fruits, and a spiciness that may stem from the Australian. Just a very wild and silly guess. With water: very good, a notch lighter perhaps (Barbados?) with those raisins coming to the front and a few violet sweets in the background. But liquorice keeps running the show. Finish: rather long and quite salty. A little more pipe tobacco, molasses, prunes and raisins. Comments: excellently constructed and very 'British Navy' indeed.  Why not also do a French Marine Nationale rhum, one of these days?
SGP:662 - 87 points.

You said Australian rum?...

Beenleigh 13 yo 2007/2021 (63.4%, The Duchess, Australia, cask #38)

Beenleigh 13 yo 2007/2021 (63.4%, The Duchess, Australia, cask #38) Four stars and a half
There's a lovely platypus on the label, but I believe the old Beenleigh distillery is not located in Tasmania, rather in Queensland. It really is an old rum distillery as it started fuming in the late 19th century. See the old advert above, it's from 1921 (Wikipedia). Colour: gold. Nose: sure it is a little hot and burning, with rather excessive varnishes and other rougher elements, but I have a good feeling… With water:  asparagus and fruit peelings, fresh bark, surely sugarcane dregs, Wulong tea, menthol, camphor, then bananas and diesel oil. Mouth (neat): a little rich and hot but there's something Guyanian to this one, seemingly. Varnish, petrol, green grapefruits, cane juice … With water: indeed, one of the softer Guyanians, but with more tropical fruits, pink bananas, papayas for sure, peaches, pomegranates… Finish: rather long, relatively softer than expected, but perfectly balanced. Awesome notes of fermenting sugarcane juice (vesou). Comments: not quite a surprise as I had already tried one or two very good indie Beenleighs. The OB I could try had been rather less convincing.

SGP:562 - 85 points.

Off to Agricoleland..

Père Labat 2013/2021 'Hiali' (57.5%, Tamosi, Marie-Galante, agricole, 287 bottles)

Père Labat 2013/2021 'Hiali' (57.5%, Tamosi, Marie-Galante, agricole, 287 bottles) Four stars and a half
We always like to mention the marvellous wee island of Marie-Galante but it is administratively part of Guadeloupe. Let's remember that Père Labat is made at Distillerie Poisson and that naturally, it's pure agricole (cane juice, colonnes créoles). Colour: light gold. Nose: surprisingly rounded, displaying a lot of butterscotch, custard and raisin-like notes, you would almost believe someone's just opened a dozen fresh panettones in the room. I have to say I wasn't quite expecting this, let's move on… With water: gets leafier, with more fruit peelings, also raisins and caramel…  Perhaps cognac wood? Mouth (neat): strong but super good, with more varnish and paint thinner, a little icing sugar, sweet cider, liquorice, lemon curd, raisins… With water: indeed, what wasn't in the nose is here on the palate, with some cane-iness, petroly elements, and a lot of liquorice. Finish: rather long, same, getting grassier towards the aftertaste. More fruit peelings. Comments: absolutely ex-cel-lent, perhaps just a tad softer and rounder than expected. Less 'straight agricole'.

SGP:651 - 86 points.

Clarendon 16 yo 2004/2020 (61%, Auld Alliance 10th Anniversary, Jamaica, cask #433883)

Clarendon 16 yo 2004/2020 (61%, Auld Alliance 10th Anniversary, Jamaica, cask #433883) Four stars and a half
Given the vintage, this should be 'old' Clarendon a.k.a. Monymusk from the Vendome still, not ethanoly rum from the huge triple column that was erected there in 2009 and that's capable of churning out close to 20Mio LPA for large brands such as Diageo's. This should be a bottling by Bristol Spirits. Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts varnishy and acetic, always a good sign in my book. Acetone, stewed artichokes, almond oil, marzipan… But careful, I drills holes into your nose. With water: banana cake, cigars, olives, a little horse dung, dried citrus skin (chen-pi), some engine oil… Mouth (neat): it drills holes into your tongue too, but I do get a gritty, very Jamaican salty olive-y and petroly home base. Let's add water before it's too late: huge salty, almost smoky development, moving towards mezcal and gentian, plus liquorice, tobacco and a little leather. No human being could be against that. Finish: very long, a little spicier. Caraway and ginger, fennel seeds and star anise in the aftertaste. Comments: rather epic high-ester rum, well in the top-dressing Jamaica style. Perhaps a little less immaculate than the top Hampdens or Worthy Parks. Water is mandatory.

SGP:563 - 89 points.

Let's stay in Jamaica…

New Yarmouth 26 yo 1994/2021 (63%, Rum Sponge, Jamaica, first fill barrel, 249 bottles)

New Yarmouth 26 yo 1994/2021 (63%, Rum Sponge, Jamaica, first fill barrel, 249 bottles) Four stars and a half
According to the owners, 'the finish lasts for the same length of time it takes to read the entirety of Ceefax through an early 1990s 26" Sony Triniton TV set.' All right. Unless I'm mistaken, New Yarmouth Distillery is where Appleton's dressers are made. Oh and according to this label, the fine Scots at Decadent Drinks/Rum Sponge, after quite some years of working with professional graphic designers, finally managed to restart their own Commodore 64. Well done! Colour: red amber. Nose: coal tar and peonies, roasted chestnuts, cedar wood, café latte and used engine oil. Everything's normal. To think that those murderous 63% vol. are not even 'natural' and that they reduced this baby! With water: I don't think it is a very funky New Yarmouth, I find it rather softer, on fudge, millionaire shortbread, sugar cane, banana skin, hay, earl grey, chamomile, other teas… Mouth (neat): excellent, rounded, fudge-y and coating, but boy is it strong. With water: this time there is rather more funk, but it all pretty gentle, ala light Caroni if that rings a bell. Maple syrup, cane syrup, a little cough medicine, eucalyptus… Very very nice, almost subtle once you manage to tame it (warning you need a six-pack of Evian). Finish: medium to long, very creamy, with a little more tar, liquorice, and earth. Those gentiany touches. Comments: extremely good and I seem to remember some older Appletons that were showing these traits.
SGP:552 - 89 points.

New Yarmouth 26 yo 1994/2021 (59.1%, Thompson Bros., Jamaica, 271 bottles)

New Yarmouth 26 yo 1994/2021 (59.1%, Thompson Bros., Jamaica, 271 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one could be similar. Colour: dark gold. Nose: close, obviously. Same provenance, same vintage, similar high strength, this is even a tad gentler, more on café latte and less on tar. Let's see what water does to it. With water: a little metal polish, otherwise tobacco and leather plus notes of stewed sweet carrots and pumpkin, or red kuri squashes. Mouth (neat): fruity, almost bonbony. Caramel sauce, fudge… They sometimes have whisky fudge in tourist shops (in Scotland, not in Jamaica) and this Jamaican reminds me of those. I'm also reminded of Belize's Travellers Distillery. With water: some earth, a little orange juice, cane syrup… It really is a gentle Jamaican. Finish: rather long, this time with liquorice rolls and liquorice allsorts. Some black tea and oak in the aftertaste, plus curious notes of baked eggplants. Comments: an intriguing old Jamaican. Pretty superb but I think the Sponge's kind of overshadowed it. I think I should have had this one first, mea Culpa.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

A last try at New Yarmouth 1994 and we're done.

New Yarmouth 26 yo 1994/2021 (67.9%, Malt, Grain & Cane, Jamaica, Japan exclusive, cask #435082)

New Yarmouth 26 yo 1994/2021 (67.9%, Malt, Grain & Cane, Jamaica, Japan exclusive, cask #435082) Four stars and a half
They all mention 'heavy Jamaican rum' w.r.t. these New Yarmouths but after the Clarendon, which was much more 'funky', they feel gentle as lambs and as sweet as lollipops. Colour: red amber. Nose: perhaps not this one, I do feel some paint thinner and even a little ammonia, but at almost 68% vol., I'm taking no chances. With water: this one too gets gentler and rounder, with oranges, cakes, liquorice and liquid caramel, but some tar is remining in the background, as well as, perhaps, half an olive. Carbon paper and paraffin. Mouth (neat): murder and damnation. That's the strength. If you insist, let's say over-infused mint tea, high-concentrated lemon juice and heavy-duty solvent. You shouldn't have insisted, cough, cough… With water: a higher acidity indeed, lemon juice, even gherkins, these olives that abound in Hampden whichever the marques, liquorice… Finish: really long, on similar notes. Comments: the thing is, at such high strength you need to add water, but when you add water and in theory, you should wait for at least twenty minutes before all molecules have mingled together as they should. I believe that's particularly crucial with this style of rum, where phenols and esters may play hide-and-seek. Tough job.

SGP:561 - 87 points.

These three New Yarmouths have been extremely tough, we may have overestimated our strength today, I think I need a dip, adios.

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

 

September 10, 2021


Whiskyfun

summer

Summer Duets
Today Cardhu
Did you know we were highly active within the LODDOC? (League Of Distinguished Defenders Of Cardhu)? Because, why always only Glenfiddich? Having said that, some recent bottlings haven't quite convinced me, let's give them another chance…

Cardhu 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Cardhu 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2020) Two stars
Not sure Cardhu is, as some websites say, 'the gem of Speyside'. Colour: gold. Nose: perfectly fine whenever you need 'malt whisky' in a bar or a pub. Nice, pleasant soft maltiness, some fudge, overripe apples, sponge cake, whiffs of yellow flowers, a little earl grey… It tends to become pretty biscuity, while the 15 years would not really feel, but there, it's 'nice' on the nose. Mouth: pretty fruity at first, on apples and oranges, malty as well, floral, sadly getting a little bitter and thin, a little spirity, drying, rather too tea-ish and cardboardy for me. In a way, it would tend to curl up while it gets bitter. A little strange given that Cardhu's rather an 'access-category' malt whisky that would rather need more sweetness and fruitiness to achieve that noble goal, in my humble opinion. A pretty modest palate. Finish: very short. Earl grey. Comments: not bad at all but modest, thin and light. Now I suppose a significant proportion will end up 'on the rocks' anyway, so to speak.

SGP:341 - 76 points.

Cardhu 'Gold Reserve Game of Thrones House Targaryen' (40%, OB, +/-2019)

Cardhu 'Gold Reserve Game of Thrones House Targaryen' (40%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
Oh, no, that lousy Game of Thrones again. NAS at that. Let's expect more brand-damaging deals with Netflix, HBO, Disney or even, ach, Dramazon in the near future. Not everyone can be James Bond, I would suppose. Oh and why not some bespoke scenarios, with murders at distilleries, people drowning in the mashtuns, passing out over washbacks, or smothered in PX (indeed, the most atrocious scene). Colour: light gold. Nose: more on fresh fruits, pineapples, apples, bananas, pears… That's rather fine, I would guess some recharred casks have been used. And a floral tone once again, with dandelions, acacia flowers… A little butter too, lactic (from recharred wood indeed?) Mouth: certainly brighter than the 15, fruitier (fruity hops) and although it would then nosedive just as well, there's some freshness remaining. A touch of tangerine and elderflower liqueur, which goes well in Champagne. Keep Aperol for your prosecco. Finish: short, but fresh and fruity. Comments: this won't defeat the blue dead horsemen in the series, but I find it fine and I wouldn't refuse a wee measure.

SGP:541 - 79 points.

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

 

September 9, 2021


Whiskyfun

Secret
Islays

Shh… Apéritif please…

This is not Al Capone, this is John Brown, White Horse's blender for 50 years (Diageo) ->

Johnnie Walker 12 yo 'Black Label Islay Origin' (42%, OB, blended malt, +/-2020)

Johnnie Walker 12 yo 'Black Label Islay Origin' (42%, OB, blended malt, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
I know, not really 'an Islay' but it's geared towards the queen of the Hebrides, is it not. Unless it's all Islay inside indeed, you never know… Colour: gold. Nose: it is not a vatting of Caol Ila and Lagavulin, but the smoke is rather prominent, you would think of some 1980s batches of White Horse blend. A few buttery tones, a little ale, a tight meatiness (bacon), a little camphor, something faintly metallic and sooty… White Horse indeed! Mouth: it is frankly peaty, this is not just a marketing trick (marketeers do no tricks!) Nice lemons (almost fizzy), green apples, oysters, kippers, I'm even finding wee touches of maître d'hôtel butter, the expected almonds, riesling... All that with a nice freshness. It clearly is a peater. Finish: medium but that's just the lower strength. Touches of caramel, brine, white wine sauce, lemon drops… Comments: I was expecting just a 'peaty coloration' but this baby's much more 'Islay' than that.
SGP:444 - 83 points.

Islay 'Batch 1' (46%, Whic, 1000 bottles, 2021)

Islay 'Batch 1' (46%, Whic, 1000 bottles, 2021) Four stars
Not much data but some good people, good price and good expectations. This is a single malt. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: first fills your room with peat smoke, then displays pears, peated grist, soot, coal, kelp and oysters. Probably pretty young but it's well-known that heavy peat would hide and mask many imperfections. Notes of fish and mercurochrome too. Mouth: sweet and fruity, on a solid peaty base. More pears, grapefruits, then more soot, peat, kelps and whelks. I adore whelks – not that we have a very personal relationship mind you. Some chalk too, while it would tend to become more mineral indeed. Chalk and soot. Finish: medium, clean, saltier, sauvignony. Comments: who could ask for more? Very high quality/price ratio.
SGP:557 - 86 points.

Mac-Talla 15 yo 2006/2021 'Strata' (46%, Morrison, Islay, bourbon and sherry)

Mac-Talla 15 yo 2006/2021 'Strata' (46%, Morrison, Islay, bourbon and sherry) Four stars
Branded secret Islay single malt, all the rage these days. Colour: white wine. Nose: a gentler nose that could well be Caol Ila as it would display vegetal oils (sesame), oysters, kelp, overripe apples, some softer fresh almonds, a lot of lime, some brine, and one olive for good measure. I find it rather '25' than '15', which is good news, obviously. Some CIs from the 1980s used to be a bit like this, but so were most 1990s and 2000s Bowmores. Mouth: a little wilder, a little more on bone-dry white wines, with a lovely sourness, some lime and lemon juices, chalk… What we call a vertical nose. Nutshell, it would taste rather 10 than 15, go figure, but it's excellent. Finish: a little short perhaps, with some cider apples and more fresh almonds. The smokiness would fade away a little bit but we'll find quite some brine in the aftertaste. And riesling. Comments: excellent, kind of the opposite of the young Whic. I'm sure a few more watts would have done it much good. Oh and the name Morrison sure suggests this could be Bowmore.
SGP:465 - 86 points.

Islay Malt 10 yo 2008/2019 (53.1%, Maltbarn, sherry, 164 bottles)

Islay Malt 10 yo 2008/2019 (53.1%, Maltbarn, sherry, 164 bottles) Four stars
Let's do this quickly, I should have tried it two years ago. Colour: straw. Nose: a buttery peat and a few medicinal tones, then smoked herbs and many roasted nuts, all that sprinkled with grapefruit juice. With water: classic mercurochrome, kelp, marzipan, lemon curd, benzine. Mouth (neat): the oak feels a little more but it would complement these notes of grapefruits. Touches of tropical fruits, as if this was viognier, then 'candied peat' and a little tar. With water: as almost always, water works very well but makes it a tad sweetish. That's the young age. Candies, lemon drops… Finish: rather long, medicinal. Cough medicine, ready for winter! Comments: same ballpark, they're all very good. This one was intriguingly sweet.
SGP:457 - 85 points.

Supersonic 2013/2021 'Mach 4' (60%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, sherry butts, 716 bottles)

Supersonic 2013/2021 'Mach 4' (60%, North Star Spirits, blended malt, sherry butts, 716 bottles) Four stars and a half
Nowhere does it say that there's any Islay whisky in there, but neither does it say there isn't any, so I just couldn't wait since some friends have been saying that this was 'rather a little big'. We shall see… Colour: gold. Nose: butterscotch, engine oil, toasted brioche, roasted peanuts, carbolineum, mocha, Barbour grease, baked raisins… With water: a spicy cake in liquid form. Spicy, not space-y, uh. Mouth (neat): huge, on sultanas, butterscotch, marmalade and allspice. The tricky part is that you could quaff this easily, while the strength is pretty hefty. They should add a warning. With water: tight, tart and jammy, always with a lot of spices. This many spices could have been problematic but not at all, on the contrary. Finish: long. Truckloads of dried figs popping out, plus sweet wine gravy. Comments: no peaty Islayness here but at least we tried. Excellently modern and yet complex; as they say, this wee whisky would go well with more of this wee whisky.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Back to proper Islays…

The next one to dear Roland Puhl, who sadly passed away last week. He was one of the originators of that seminal whisky shop in Limburg Germany, called Malt Rarities A.K.A. MARA. Here's to Roland...

Mac-Talla 'Mara' (58.2%, Morrison, Islay, bourbon, 2021) Four stars and a half
No age and no vintage this time, but they cranked up the volume. Colour: white wine. Nose: naked, raw, kilny. Visiting a malting plant while they're doing heavy peat. That's all this far. I mean, it's unusual to stumble upon a wee whisky that noses exactly like a handful of peated malted barley. With water: new tyres and plasticine for a wee while, then williams pears. Mouth (neat): this is crystal. Lemon, brine and raw peat. With water: pears chiming in yet again. So lemon, pear, brine and raw peat. Finish: ashes, sardines, lemon curd, passion fruits (bingo) and oysters. Mezcal in the aftertaste. Comments: immaculate and brilliant, very impressive. What's more, given that this ought to be very young, all batches should be pretty similar. A no-brainer, I'm almost floored. Almost.
SGP:467 - 88 points.

A last one… (we thought six would do while the supersonic North Star doesn't count)…

Single Islay Malt Whisky 31 yo 1989/2021 (51.9%, Thompson Bros., refill barrel, 259 bottles)

Single Islay Malt Whisky 31 yo 1989/2021 (51.9%, Thompson Bros., refill barrel, 259 bottles) Five stars
Colour: straw. Nose: green tea and entering an old herbalist's shop, a little plasticine, some marzipan, sunflower, linseed and rapeseed oils, tincture of iodine, creosote, crabs, embrocations, funny whiffs of cold stewed artichokes, old clothes in the old wardrobe, then hints of mud and dung, as well as 'L-type' brine. With water: typical, raw lambswool, beach sand, clams, gum Arabic, a little beeswax… Typical old peater that gets complex while the smoke's being 'digested' (for lack of a better word). Mouth (neat): pumpkin bread, seawater, lemon juice, cider, iodine and clams. Rather fat, rather round, calls for water. With water: a wee dustiness, some aromatic, mentholy herbs, green lemons, brine, muscadet… Finish: medium, rather soft, with more linseed oil. Smoked salmon. Comments: an old peater leaving the world of the heavy peaters to become more complex, subtle, maybe reflective and surely a little intellectual. Fractal development. Oh and did you notice those wee stills shaped like oil lamps on the label? Exatcly the same that they have at that famous distillery that starts with an L and does not end with a N.
SGP:565 - 90 points.
 

September 8, 2021


Whiskyfun

Glenfarclas class

WF, kings of lousy headlines. I say we should have played it modern instead, like 'Seven Glenfarclas, #5 Almost Killed The Taster'. Or 'The Seven Glenfarclas Girls Like Best'. Or better yet: 'The Seven Glenfarclas That They Should Never Have Bottled'. Next time, perhaps…

Glenfarclas

Glenfarclas on finishing, around 2005. Always loved this advert.
 

Glenfarclas '185th Anniversary' (46%, OB, 6000 bottles, 2021)

Glenfarclas '185th Anniversary' (46%, OB, 6000 bottles, 2021) Four stars and a half
The '175th Anniversary', back in 2011, had been excellent IMHO (WF 88) but I'm afraid I haven't heard much since back then, the last ten years seem to have been pretty quiet at Glenfarclas. Colour: gold. Nose: there is some sherry, but not a lot, it's a rather natural, pastry-like, fat-as-always Speysider, with quite some vanilla and cakes, then various herbal teas and a few raisins. I have to say balance is perfect, you just couldn't find fault with this one on the nose. I suspect some pretty older casks have been involved, as there isn't any single roughness. Mouth: yes, excellent, pretty fruity, as if it was at least 25 year old. We're talking guavas and mangos, pink bananas, then orange blossom water, custard, overripe apples and a wide range of softer spices, cinnamon and caraway first, then a few mentholy ones, pine liqueur, sultanas... All that works in sync. Finish: not the longest ever but this fruity freshness remains perfect. Mango cake. Comments: this one's probably been assembled with much care; I find it rather fruitier than your 'average' Glenfarclas. High class indeed, happy anniversary Glenfarclas (sorry if I'm late).  
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Let's try the regular 15 now, to give perspective…

Glenfarclas 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2021)

Glenfarclas 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
Last time I tried the 15 that was four years ago. Good-not-great. Colour: like gold. Nose: ouch, death seat after the '185th'. Saps and leaves, a drop of sour wine, the rest is very fine, on vanilla, acacia honey, dried figs, tarte tatin and Scottish tablets. Pretty custardy given that it's rather a sherried GF, in theory. A touch of rubber too, not unseen. Mouth: caramel, fudge, butterscotch, corn syrup, Lindt's LIndor chocolate, millionaire shortbread, also the usual wee rubber as well as paraffin in the background. Tends to become grittier after ten seconds on your palate. Finish: medium, grassier, losing its rather lovely fudge-iness. I would say many 'commercial' malts tend to behave like this, their finishes are never their best asset. Comments: pretty on-and-off. As I remembered it, but I insist, the awesome '185' may have killed it a wee bit.
SGP:451 - 83 points.

That's one of the numerous problems with the NAS whiskies, where do you put them when you build a wee verticale? Given that legally, they are only 3 year old whiskies? Lest you've got clues as for the actual contents, which almost never happens unless you manage to get some reps drunk on gin-and-tonic, otherwise they 'couldn't possibly comment'. Let's move on with an all-natural Glenfarclas…

Glenfarclas 10 yo 2008/2018 (58%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 264 bottles)

Glenfarclas 10 yo 2008/2018 (58%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 264 bottles) Four stars
Rumour has it that Cadenhead do have the right to use the brand 'Glenfarclas' (but not to call it Glenfarclas-Glenlivet I suppose, ha) a few times a year. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: quite possibly the most naked Glenfarclas I've ever nosed, even the old official 5 yo was having more cask influence. Now it's a good occasion to realise that Glenfarclas is a full-bodied spirit, pretty rich and full, rather on soft oils, waxes and sweet doughs (maize), with an orchardy fruitiness that would really remind us of ex-refill-ASB Aberlour. With water: waxes up, maize down. Mouth (neat): literally bursts with fresh pears and apples of all kinds. Rich and sweet ones, green and tarter ones… With water: very good, all natural indeed, extremely barley-y, with a wonderful honeyness coming out. We often mention honey but believe me, this one is shock-full of all-flower honey once you've reduced it with care. Love honey. Finish: long and rather perfect. Comments: remember those crappy old jokes about 'rather liking your whisky naked'? After all, maybe there was some unintentional truth in some of those silly jests.
SGP:541 - 86 points.

Back to sherry…

Glenfarclas 2004/2015 'Cask Strength Premium Edition' (59.8%, OB, sherry, 6000 bottles) Four stars
I just found this one in the boxes. Late as ever. They seem to like the number '6000 bottles' at Glenfarclas, maybe is that the size of their vatting tank at the filling station? Colour: full gold. Nose: this time shoe polish and gun oil are having the lead over any other aromas. You could think sulphur but those sulphury notes are rather bordering old walnuts, which is pretty 'sherry'. See what I mean? A lot of pipe tobacco, Christmas cake (season's not too far away), prunes, and that feeling of armagnac that's not unseen in sherried GF. Reminds of the 105 here and there. With water: some earth and various other wild smells, mushrooms, moss, old stump, pu-her… Mouth (neat): a little hot and rough. Raw chocolate and coffee liqueur (Kahlua and compadres). With water: as expected, meat and soups coming out, cracked pepper, miso, other savoury notes… Finish: drier, as almost always. Touch of rubber, bitter caramel, coffee… Rather dry and drying. Strong black tea, Latakia tobacco (as far as I can remember), armagnac again… Comments: started rich and sweeter, became drier and grittier. Not an unseen development in 'sherry monsters', those may need a little more time than just ten years. Very good, nonetheless.
SGP:661 - 85 points.

Oh, since we've just mentioned Glenfarclas 105…

Glenfarclas 8 yo '105' (60%, OB, gold label, 1980s)

Glenfarclas 8 yo '105' (60%, OB, gold label, 1980s) Five stars
A very early '105' with a gold label. There was also a '104', which I don't think I've tried, and a much earlier '8 yo - 105' under the usual white livery, back in the 1960s. Astounding whisky! I would add that I had tried another 8 – 105 from the mid-1980s (WF 90) but that one was already sporting the well-known black label, while this earlier version was not. Colour: gold. Nose: these whiskies were much meatier, more savoury, more on chicken soup and tofu-ed miso than the current offerings. I don't think that's only because of OBE. What's particularly wonderful is all the mint, also other aromatic herbs, camphor, sandalwood, plus the expected metal polish and just soot. Wonderbar (that's Anglo-German language). With water: tantalising beehive-y notes, high-class old Sauternes, some resinous smoke (burning eucalyptus), then bouillon with marrow quenelles, mashed chickpeas, just menthol… Wow wow wow! Mouth (neat): totally amazing, extremely rich, complex, full of dried and crystallised fruits (to the brim!) with an exotic smokiness and notes of earthy cognac. Superlative, I would have said old 1960s Springbank. Incredible, please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade! With water: it just adores water. I believe I'm running out of superlatives. Finish: soups, dried figs, truffles, various juices, old liqueurs, ambrosia (I would guess), what a show! Comments: Glenfarclas bottled in the 1960s-early 1980s was really something else. What's more, I'm sure this one was cheap as chips when you could buy it on the street. I'm totally floored; as Louis Pasteur would have said, there's more philosophy in this wee 'farclas than in all books.
SGP:662 - 94 points.

In theory, I should put an end to this session now. But this is Whiskyfun…

Glenfarclas 21 yo '95° proof' (54.2%, OB, exclusive to The Whisky Exchange, 2020)

Glenfarclas 21 yo '95° proof' (54.2%, OB, exclusive to The Whisky Exchange, 2020) Five stars
It seems that London keeps going retro (sometimes retro-futuristic). Hell, I agree, why try to improve something that's perfect? (ask distillers!) Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas, in some matters, innovation is just the art of screwing up things while getting paid, a.k.a. the marketers' favourite game. Colour: full gold. Nose: hey it does survive and well after the tremendous 105, thanks to a subtle meatiness, some wax, sunflower oil, camphor and just 'a forgotten old bottle of Jaeger'. Everything's old-school here, including the liquid. With water: as often, earth coming out, mushrooms, old wine cellar, saltpetre… There's a tiny perfumy touch too (rose petals, litchi). Mouth (neat): some sweet sherry, walnut wine, ginger tonic, beef jerky, black raisins, Korean BBQ with wee bits of kimchi… With water: gentler and more, let's say 'traditional'. Malt, honey, tarte tatin and raisins. The sherry got much sweeter, almost 'PX'. Did you notice that PX in whisky has gotten common as houseflies these days? Finish: pretty long, sweet, with balsamic touches. Comments: this complex GF was not crushed by the stupendous 105 at all, which says a lot. Great drop, keep a bottle until… the year 2060.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Didn't we say seven Glenfarclas (de la muerte)?

My Favourite Distillery 33 yo 1976/2010 (53%, Thosop Import, Speyside, bourbon cask, cask #1420)

My Favourite Distillery 33 yo 1976/2010 (53%, Thosop Import, Speyside, bourbon cask, cask #1420) Five stars
From when we were still doing labels for friends - casually. This IS Glenfarclas. Looks like I've never published any 'official' notes for this baby from the good ol' times, so here I am, late as ever… (sorry Luc)… Colour: gold. Nose: coconut wine in Glenfarclas? Sure, when it's ex-fresh bourbon. There's also a vanilla-ed creaminess, surely a lot of sunflower oil, some nougat, fudge, halva, peanut syrup (a new thing I've just found in a shop here in Alsace, love it even if it's a little sweet for me), honeycomb, custard… With water: wee touches of resins, saps and yellow flowers. Our dear buttercups ('Do you like butter?') Mouth (neat): bright and syrupy at the same time, with some coconut again (not that vulgar plankish thing that you would sometimes get from fresh American oak), banana foam, apricots and really a lot of honey and preserved mirabelles. Forgot to mention quinces. I'm not sure I would have said 'Glenfarclas' earlier in… 2010. With water: gets really sweet and creamy, cake-y, with even more quinces and mirabelles. I wouldn't have said Glenfarclas, I would have said Balvenie (have you no sense of shame, S.?) Finish: soft landing with the same combo in action. Comments: as Methuselah would have said, those were the days.
SGP:641 - 91 points.

That's seven. Auf Wiedersehen.

(Thank you Luc and Ryan)

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

 

(On the next day)… hold on, we were so pleased with those Glenfarclasses that we double-checked what we were having in the boxes and just found a little more…. (true story)

Glenfarclas 10 yo 2005/2015 (60.7%, OB, Taiwan, Single Cask, sherry, cask #2425, 635 bottles)

Glenfarclas 10 yo 2005/2015 (60.7%, OB, Taiwan, Single Cask, sherry, cask #2425, 635 bottles) Four stars
There's a tiger on the label, so it's for Taiwan (pace e salute, Taiwanese friends!) Colour: cognac (if it were cognac, we would have said whisky, um…) Nose: it's really rich and feels sweet and jammy at first sniffs. Tons of raisins and prunes, a few pencil shavings in the background, Mars bars, Twix (same maker) and just liquid caramel and chocolate. With water: very nice, meatier and soupier, as expected. The usual marrow, beef jerky, quenelles, this one needs time but would then never stop improving on the nose. Walnuts and tobacco., that was expected too. Mouth (neat): really massive, peppery, with more of those pencil shavings, some menthol, marmalade… But boy is it strong, so, with water: fruitier (marmalades, jams), spicier as well. Rather a lot of cinnamon and a few gingery touches. Finish: very long, always with these wood shavings in the background. Comments: absolutely excellent, just the oak was a tad too much in the front for me.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

Glenfarclas 21 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017)

Glenfarclas 21 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
Last time I tried the rather popular 21, that was in 2012 and it was a little weak (WF 80). Not proud. This is not a very recent batch but there, let's try it, we'll find a newer bottling later. Perhaps. The 43% vol. do feel a little outdated by today's standards. Colour: gold. Nose: it really is extremely soft and even shy, with rather crushed fresh almonds and walnuts. That would give it a fino-y side that's always a hit at WF Towers, but the whole remains extremely low-key. A very particular spot in the official range. Mouth: I find it good and, in fact, not that soft and shy on the palate. Feels like an answer to large-scale softer Speysiders such as Glenlivet or Glenfiddich. Or Macallan Fine Oak but I don't think that one already existed when they launched Glenfarclas 21. Anyway, good drop, very easy, a little leafy. Way better than I remembered it, which always pleases me of course. Finish: short and a little too dry and leafy, loses some of the points it had just earned. Bah… Comments: not my business but they may need to crank up the volume, the juice would clearly deserve that.
SGP:441 - 83 points.

Glenfarclas 2007/2016 (51.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, sherry, casks #435+456)

Glenfarclas 2007/2016 (51.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, sherry, casks #435+456) Four stars and a half
Lovely reuse of the old lettering. Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh this is really funny and purely the result of chance, this baby really feels like the 21 with many more watts. Wonderful almonds and walnuts, marzipan, amaretti soaked in grappa (I do what I want), then green teas and the subtlest raisiny side. I'm glad I was still having this one on the side. With water: some toasted bread, a wee feeling of botrytis, surely some beeswax… Certainly not the first time a blend of only two casks would generate some higher complexity then from a single cask. Mouth (neat): extremely good, really. Quince and mirabelle jams, so some 'sweet' sherry, Jaffa cakes, a lovely wee touch of cracked pepper mixed with a little gunpowder (for an extra-kick, ha), some tobacco, some raw chocolate… Really pleased indeed. With water: mushrooms and a touch of sweet curry, raisins, maple syrup… Finish: long rather smoother. Chamomile and nougats plus juicy golden sultanas. Comments: at times you would have believed they had rather married one sherry with one bourbon.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Perhaps a very last one, as a session that goes to eleven is just enough. Let's make it one of those famous Family Casks.

Glenfarclas 1990/2015 (54%, OB, Family Casks, for HNWS Hong Kong, sherry butt, cask #4710, 614 bottles)

Glenfarclas 1990/2015 (54%, OB, Family Casks, for HNWS, sherry butt, cask #4710, 614 bottles) Five stars
Colour: Dark red amber. Nose: arch-classic sherried Glenfarclas, rather rich, oh-so slightly meaty, full of dried fruits, Christmas cake, with a wee drop of mocha and, above everything, a good five kilograms of moist pipe tobacco. With water: menthol, sage, chives and lovage popping out, I can't see who would be against that. Perfect evolution of a deeply sherried malt once proper reduction was done. Mouth (neat): perfect, with rather a lot of liquorice, which is a little unusual with this style, otherwise truckloads of dried fruits, the raisins being on top. Totally Glenfarclas as in Glenfarclas. With water: swims perfectly. Died beef (obviously, I had intended to write 'dried'), raisins, chestnuts, tobacco, coffee, mole sauce… This is perfect. Finish: long, very chocolaty, with some mint. Thin mints, not the first time we're trying a Glenfarclas that would display thin mints. Comments: extremely classic, a JS Bach of malt whisky.
SGP:561 - 90 points.
 

September 7, 2021


Whiskyfun

summer

Summer Duets
Today Macallan NAS
No age statements here so we need 'the blurb'. I mean the accompanying literature, to find something to say about these two babies that we couldn't try before. Did you ever notice that whiskies without a proper age or a vintage statement tend to come with more (sometimes unlikely) stories?

Macallan 'Lumina' (41.3%, OB, Quest Collection, 2017)

Macallan 'Lumina' (41.3%, OB, Quest Collection, 2017) Two stars
I agree we should have tried this one earlier, looks like it's sold out. It seems that this expression was 'grounded in the old world but inspired by the new' because they made use of both European and American sherry-seasoned casks, all that according to the back label. Not my business of course but I doubt any of David Ogilvy's successors have been working on this idea. In any case, this shouldn't be a tribute to the Chevrolet Lumina. Colour: pale gold. Nose: noses relatively young, with whiffs of oak and sherry indeed, stewed cherries and plums, damson liqueur and chocolate, then rather more toasted oak. A touch of earth and a hint of hay too, plus yellow flowers. Not earthshattering but pleasant. Mouth: pleasant arrival, with more stewed fruits and a floral feeling, but it tends to become grapey, with sour(ish) raisins and too much oak spiciness, geared towards old tea in the old teapot. The middle is a little unpleasant. Finish: not much, on more black tea and oak spices, with a curious sweetness (Haribo's mini rainbow frogs, not that popular in France, contrary to what you could be thinking). Comments: I'm afraid that Lumina wasn't very luminous, just like this very miserable pun.
SGP:341 - 76 points.

Macallan 'Concept Number 2' (40%, OB, 2019)

Macallan 'Concept Number 2' (40%, OB, 2019) Three stars
'A captivating expression inspired by the similarities in the creative approaches of crafting whisky and creating music.' Right, at 40% that would be chamber music. I hope they've sold more than ten bottles to French speaking countries altogether because the way the word 'concept' is designed here just doesn't work too well. Not sure it works in English either but in French, you first read 'Idiot' (con). David Ogilvy, please resurrect! Having said that, maybe did they try to go Dadaistically arty or something like that. Colour: light gold. Nose: pretty similar, with a gentle sherriness and something slightly eau-de-vie-ish, perhaps because this is young, then with rather more dried fruits, dates, figs, raisins, prunes, then sponge cake, chocolate and marmalade. That's right, Jaffa cakes. It's all rather mezzo piano, if not piano. The 40% vol., I suppose. Mouth: rather fatter and brighter than the Lumina at first, almost mezzo forte for a few seconds, but much steam is lost then and it would go down to pianissimo. Scones and English tea with a mocha-spoonful of marmalade. Finish: short, whispering, thank God not too drying and tea-ish. Nice earthiness and sherry. Comments: I believe it all went diminuendo, but it's rather not bad in my book. I'm sure it would have deserved saxophones. I mean, 45% vol or more.
SGP:451 - 80 points.

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

 

September 6, 2021


Whiskyfun

summer

Summer Duets
Today Springbank
Would you believe that I have not tried Springbank 10 yet? I mean, in 2021?

Springbank 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2021)

Springbank 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2021) Five stars
One of my desert island malts. WF 90 in 2020. We'll do this quickly… Colour: straw. Nose: but of course. Smoked salmon, plasticine, fir liqueur, old magazines, mud and plaster, crushed slates, mustard, manzanilla, apple peelings, damp ashes, retsina, whatnot. Mouth: amazing. I'm wondering if they do not keep improving the recipe. Flabbergasting lemons and tight green fruits (all kinds of unripe berries, really), chalk and Sancerre, ashes, a drop of seawater, green peppercorns, yuzu, umami sauce… Oh wow, this one floors me. Finish: tight, fresh, nervous, citrusy, chalky, with some wholegrain bread and a tiny touch of juniper. Perhaps. Comments: amazing. #1 bang-for-your-buck whisky for sure, an utter star-killer. Frankly, and I am always siding with the consumer (unless he/she's an unapologetical Trumpist), the price here is a b****y scandal, for crying out loud!
SGP:362 - 91 points.

Springbank 24 yo 1996/2020 (48.8%, Sansibar for Whisky Maniacs, Clans, sherry and madeira finish, 132 bottles)

Springbank 24 yo 1996/2020 (48.8%, Sansibar for Whisky Maniacs, Clans, sherry and madeira finish, 132 bottles) Four stars and a half
Hold your horses, this is only a finishing; now was it finished twice, first in sherry and then in madeira, or did those mucho skilled people at Sansibar's blend two finishings, in a pretty Sadistic way? Double punishment, some people like that. Politicians, rock stars, footballers… Colour: amber. Nose: straight on miso, marrow quenelles, chocolate sauce, jamon iberico, Bovril, old toolbox, seawater, pine liqueur, mustard sauce, mutton suet, parsley… Well this is complex for sure, but the palate could be an utter mess, let's see.... Mouth: it is not. Well, not quite. Crazy fino by crazy Andalusians, huge pepper, obscene coffees, saltiest liquorices, ueber-spicy spicy beef jerkies, tobacco juice… It is not that the spirit's too strong, it is not, but boy is this heavily concentrated, herbal, spicy and salty! Finish: long and even saltier. Comments: I do not know how to score this. Over the top for sure, probably outlaw whisky, certainly a strange brew… I'm a little lost, to be honest – and I am a Malt Maniac trying some whisky by some 'Whisky Maniacs'. It all feels strange, I'll have to let this simmer for a few days…
SGP:372 - 88 points.

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

 

September 5, 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!

Bottomless

The Bottomless Pit
(Or the barrel of the Danaids)

In every house where people who like to travel live, strange drinks, liqueurs and spirits from obscure countries tend to accumulate after any vacations, while there's nothing you could do against that. Except drink them, or sink them. We'll try them then, and then sink them, unless we stumble upon a gem, which may well happen now and then, in which case we'll drink them. See? Please do not expect any kind of logic, not even French logic… (which is very overrated, really)… Please note that we won't do this within a single day…

Wackes 2019 'Printemps' (43%, OB, Gin , France, 200 bottles)

Wackes 2019 'Printemps' (43%, OB, Gin , France, 200 bottles) Three stars
This is small-batch Alsatian gin. My son-in-law, who owns and runs a lovely bar in Strasbourg called 'La Brasserie Parisienne', presented me with this bottle a while back. I told him everyone on this planet was making gin these days; he replied that this was the best we had in Alsace. Defeated, I proceed…  Colour: white. Nose: bursts with fresh citrus, zests, juniper, and this little soapiness that I'm always finding in any gins, even in Outer-Mongolian ones. It's very fresh. Mouth: cologne, soap, juniper, lemon zests, lavender… I'm sure it's very good, but I would also believe that this should not be drunk at room temperature. Which is precisely what I'm doing just now, silly me. What I like is this tiny saltiness that appears on the tip of your tongue and on your lips. Finish: short, more on juniper. Comments: I'll drink the remains on ice. I'm sure it's very good, but I do not score gin. BTW, Wackes, in Alsatian, means rascal. Or, as the great folks at Douglas Laing would say, scallywag.
SGP:480

Let's fly (well, drive) to Burgundy…

SAB'S 'Le Gin' (46%, OB, France, 2021)

SAB'S 'Le Gin' (46%, OB, France, 2021) Four stars
Some crazy vapour-distilled gin made in Beaune out of Burgundian juniper plus various herbs, fortified with chardonnay and pinot noir eaux-de-vie. Are we ready?  Are you sure? It's to be remembered that in general, they rather use vapour distillation to make perfume, this is the first time I'm trying such a drink – unless I'm not having a good grasp of the whole concept, I'll have to enquire. Colour: white. Nose: hold on, something's happening. It's very unusual, citrusy for sure, rather earthy, absolutely not soapy (as a whisky lover, I tend to find most gins soapy), with clear notes of fine. Remember, fine is distilled wine, cognac is a fine, for example. Citrons too, watermelons, perhaps a wee touch of myrtle, wild carrots, fennel, linseed oil… Mouth: we're approaching fine territories indeed. I once distilled some spent lees of riesling and came up with something a tad similar, except that it was dirtier. Lees make spirits 'dirty' but some people like that. Anyway, this is more an eau-de-vie than 'gin' to me, which is good news. I'm finding touches of celeriac eau-de-vie, cider apples, perhaps elderberries and sorb, even holly, a touch of wormwood/absinth perhaps... In fact, I do like this. Finish: rather long, going towards herbs, mint, liquorice, fresh turmeric… Comments: simply more than gin.
SGP:451

Since we were talking about fine…

SAB's 'La Fine' (46%, OB, France, 2019)

SAB'S 'La Fine' (46%, OB, France, 2019) Five stars
They've vapour-distilled lees of pinot noir and chardonnay and aged it all for 5 years in small Burgundian oak casks, then finished it in cognac. Colour: gold. Nose: there is this dirtiness I was talking about, but Springbank is dirty too, capice? Otherwise some toasted oak, praline, humus, touch of caraway and ginger, tobacco (untipped Camels circa 1975), dried sultanas, chocolate, ginger cookies and gingerbread… I'm reminded of some new American malts, and perhaps of some rice whiskies from Okinawa. That's what we'll call travelling afar thanks to a wee spirit. Mouth: it is not a 'fine' as we, well, as I knew it, but these raisiny notes that tend to saturate your palate illico presto are superb. We're on one of those small Sicilian islands where they make heavy sweet wines, such as Pantelleria… The oak they've used works well and would have added a well-behaved spiciness, around cinnamon and ginseng. Finish: long, spicier, more herbal, just lovely. Comments: I'll say it, it's the first time I'm trying – knowingly – some vapour-distilled spirits. So far, so good. I'd wholeheartedly recommend this baby, should you be able to find it.
SGP:561

So a fine is distilled wine, while a marc is distilled (spent) grapes. Marcs are usually grassier and tougher. I tend to prefer marcs, especially the ones they make in Bourgogne/Burgundy, whether they're destemmed (rounder, easier style) or not (even tougher and more herbal). Let's try this one…

SAB's 2013 'Le Marc' (46%, OB, France, 1200 bottles)

SAB'S 2013 'Le Marc' (46%, OB, France, 1200 bottles) Five stars
Pure marc de pinot noir, vapour-distilled and aged for four years in small French oak casks. This should be more, say typical. Colour: Sauternes. Nose: marc, it's marc, traditional marc, we love marc. Stems, grapes, pips, touch of menthol, pine wood, grass, juniper, cedarwood, raisins… Really lovely, if more pine-y than other marcs I could try (I've lived in Burgundy for a few years, so…) Mouth: top notch grassy marc. All marcs should be grassy. Once again, some menthol, cinnamon, raisins, gingerbread, speculoos, beer (really, some thick trappiste), even notes of coffee… Finish: long, beautiful, more on liquorice. Comments: I've tried many marcs over the years, and have made quite a few myself (with friends) so I can tell you that this is pretty perfect and probably the best you could make out of pinot noir. As long as we're not talking gewurz…
SGP:561

I really believe that was the first time I've tried vapour-distilled spirits and I'm wondering whether you could vapour-distil whisky too. To be discussed, in the meantime, let's try…

Marc de Bourgogne 1969 (46%, Jean Michelot, Pommard, +/-1985)

Marc de Bourgogne 1969 (46%, Jean Michelot, Pommard, +/-1985) Five stars
These old marcs could be glorious. What's more, Jean Michelot (RIP) was one of the kings of Pommard. Colour: light gold. Nose: an explosion of grapy aromas, this is marc-de-la-muerte that kills and charms. Well it charms before it kills. Amazing earthy grapes, raisins, sappy touches, camphor, ueberripe pears, chlorophyll, maraschino (pinot noir I suppose)… And literally bathtub-loads of various raisins. Mouth: I'm brought back to my years in Dijon. Utterly amazing marc, gritty as it should, and yet rounded and figgy, loaded with raisins and other dried fruits, especially dates. Fantastic post-prandial drink, to sip after lièvre à la royale or coq au chambertin. Bon appétit my friends. Finish: not that long but fabulously raisiny, with touches of tar in the aftertaste. Comments: superlative marc. Some believe cognac and armagnac are kings of French spirits. Well, in this very case, I'm not totally sure I agree…
SGP:651
(we don't score here but that would be 92+ for sure)
PS we've had a 1959 by Michelot in 2012, it was just as brilliant (WF 92).

More marc from Pommard, do the people ask!

Marc de Bourgogne 'Vieille Réserve' (43%, Domaine Parent, Pommard, +/-2010)

Marc de Bourgogne 'Vieille Réserve' (43%, Domaine Parent, Pommard, +/-2010) Five stars
Said to be around 40 years old. Colour: gold. Nose: holy featherless Napoleonic hat! This is much tighter, narrower, also more elegant perhaps, more on peelings, vegetables, stems, leaves, herbal teas… Sure it is grapy – after all this is marc – but it is wandering towards maltdom if you nose it deeply. Rather impressive, if a little austere and less 'immediately sexy' than the Michelot. Although, wait, some sublime raisins are coming out now… Wow. You know raisins can be a little stuffy and even vulgar in any spirit's nose, but in these marcs they are supremely elegant. Mouth: oh-my-god. Would you please call the Anti-Marcoporn Brigade? Sublime marc, not much to add? Corinthians, sultanas, Smyrnaeans… The best raisins in the known world. Extraordinary palate, with even wee touches of salt and bouillons, as in an old… err, Brora. Sweet Jesus! Finish: medium, tight and yet full of raisins and soups. Sweet ham. Comments: fantabulous spirit. I don't know when the monks started to distil in Burgundy, but I doubt that would have been after the brandy and whisky makers, in the far West. One day, we'll enquire. We'll have to ask Hugh Johnson…
SGP:551
(once again no points, but 92+, and easily).

Aren't we stuck in Burgundy? Okay, perhaps a wee fine and then we'll move on…

Fine de Bourgogne 2007/2016 'Fine Fleur' (40%, Domaine Pierre Naigeon, Gevrey-Chambertin)

Fine de Bourgogne 2007/2016 'Fine Fleur' (40%, Domaine Pierre Naigeon, Gevrey-Chambertin) Four stars and a half
Remember, a fine is a distilled wine, a marc is distilled grapes. Colour: gold. Nose: oh we're much, much closer to malt, with more vanilla, cakes, pastries, nougat, semolina, a few metallic touches, earth, roasted nuts, a few burnt herbs (hay?) and even a little bread. Grass too. Rather intriguing, let's see…  Mouth: blam. More whisky made out of wine, really, with vanilla, soft toasted oak, cornflakes and popcorn, a touch of maple syrup, some fudge, triple-sec, panettone… Which makes me think we'll try to find some grappa. Or not, we'll see. Finish: medium, grassier than the marcs, maltier as well. Or let's put it like this: it's a little closer to malt than to brandies, rather surprisingly. Comments: not as immediate and unquestionable as the two marcs from Pommard, but it is still a mighty spirit.
SGP:551
(87/88, I would say, but we don't score these, do we?)  

Back to gin. No, no fear, never…

Mistigma (49.5%, OB, Gin, France, 2020)

Mistigma (49.5%, OB, Gin, France, 2020) Three stars and a half
This is single cask gin aged for a few months in Sauternes wood. And why not? Colour: pale white wine. Nose: oh boy, this is the freshest, cleanest, most elegant limoncello I've ever nosed. Then we would have kumquats, citrons, yuzu, finger lime, and probably a little coriander and lemongrass. Yellow peaches too, that might be the Sauternes wood. What's sure is that it's not totally a juniper-led gin, and that any soapiness or cologneness (I know) has been kept at bay. Mouth: more classic gin, it's just that you don't need to add any lemon and lime juices, they're already there. I like this rather a lot, but the palate's in no way close to the  very complex nose. Calls for a few ice cubes, I would say… Finish: medium, very citrusy. All kinds of lemons. Comments: nosing gin, that's new to me! Probably in my top twenty, but then again, I know more about quantum physics and Goldbach's conjecture than about gin. Which says a lot…
SGP:750

Lemons? Wait!...

Mango Spirit 4 yo 2016/2020 (49.3%, The Whisky Agency)

Mango Spirit 4 yo 2016/2020 (49.3%, The Whisky Agency) Three stars
I cannot find anything about this crazy thing that the excessively engaging folks at The Whisky Agency have mailed me a few months ago. Well our time is precious, so we shall just proceed, knowing that I've tried to distil mangos myself in the past, in our wee 100l copper still, and that it's been the disaster of disasters. Tropical fruits are super-hard to distil, unless you're happy with any end result that's rather akin to… perfume. Colour: white wine. Nose: hold on, success! I suppose this was a maceration, am I not right? So well-behaved mangos, herbs, apples, papayas, a wee buttery side, nectarines, carrots… This works and goes to show that the best is the enemy of the good. I went for full fermentation, while maceration was obviously the way. Mouth: I have to say it is very much on carrots and red kuri squash, and that mangos have become a little… indeterminable. That's the thing with these fruits, it's all a matter of instable molecules. Liquid carrot cake. Finish: same. Comments: mangos on the nose, pumpkin gazpacho on the palate. Good fun for sure.
SGP:630

What's even crazier is pineapple, but our dear German friends aren't scared of anything…

Pineapple Spirit 4 yo 2016/2020 (51.7%, The Whisky Agency)

Pineapple Spirit 4 yo 2016/2020 (51.7%, The Whisky Agency) Two stars and a half
Good luck! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: that's the thing when you distil pineapples, you do not get pineapple aromas. Believe me, I've tried that too. What I'm getting here is rather something not too far from cachaça, perhaps. A little vanilla, and there, perhaps traces of pineapple yoghurt. It is absolutely not an unpleasant eau-de-vie, but the pineapples are not loud and clear. Unless it was a different kind of pineapple, much shier than all the kinds we know of. Mouth: perhaps a little more pineappleness (!) and perhaps not. Could have been bananas too, for example; not all molecules go through a still smoothly. Finish: a little sugary. Comments: it is a fine spirit and ice cubes may make the fruits stand out a little more, but this is a tasting session and sorry, we do not do ice.
SGP:620

Another try…

Liqueur d'Ananas (25%, Ava Tahiti, +/-2000)

Liqueur d'Ananas (25%, Ava Tahiti, +/-2000) Two stars
This is different, it is a liqueur made by a branch of Alsatian distillers Miclo (who are making a very potable whisky too) in Tahiti. Anyway, a liqueur is something different, you need neutral alcohol, sugar, and if possible, fresh fruits. Colour: almost white. Nose: easy, fresh, fruity, gentle, not that exotic, and once again rather on bananas. Bananas and pineapples are completely different fruits (no kiddin', Sherlock) but when you transform them, let them ferment/macerate or even distil them, they may converge. Well, that's what I experienced myself. Mouth: a little too sweet for me, this is pure syrup. Perhaps a tad cloying, without much pineappleness, but I know it takes ice extremely well. Finish: sweet. Comments: forgot to say, ananas means pineapple in French.
SGP:910

Where do we go from that sweet liquid?... I say let's have no borders!

RumJava 'Signature' (35%, OB, coffee blended rum, +/-2018)

RumJava 'Signature' (35%, OB, coffee blended rum, +/-2018)
They make this in America, according to the label. We said no fear! This is 'artisan crafted', you understand… Colour: straw. Nose: no, and I mean a deep and resounding no. I love, cherish, adore and celebrate coffee every day that God makes, but this is all on stale dregs and that overheated office coffee they were having in every episode of Kojak. Mouth: they should jail the mad soul that had this idea. Kahlúa and Tia Maria are ten times better, and we all know they're pretty nasty drinks. What's specially dreadful is this mushroomy side that's totally out of place here. Finish: medium. Comments: make your own. Take Nescafé, Bacardi, add tons of sugar, stir, and voilà.
SGP: 720

Let's push our luck a last time… (but we'll do many more crazy sessions like this one during this summer, as it looks like we've accumulated hectolitres of wacky alcoholic drinks over the recent months and years…)

Hapsburg (72.5%, OB, absinth, +/-2020)

Hapsburg (72.5%, OB, absinth, +/-2020)
Absinth! There's real wormwood inside this one, apparently, but it is a little unclear whether this stems from Bulgaria or from the Czech Republic. Wish me luck (whisky to friends, money to Greenpeace, the rest to my wife and the children). Colour: fluorescent aquamarine. Even the great folks at Bruichladdich would be jealous. Nose: yeah, redistilled Ricard. We have blue pastis in France as well, but it is rather for absent-minded partygoers. Some caraway too, for sure. With water: what? It doesn't get cloudy at all, remains transparent, and just raises more doubts. Why doesn't it get milky like Ricard? Mouth (neat): what wouldn't we do for our common cause! Toothpaste at cask strength, really. Hard to swallow, I suppose it's meant to be drunk with a little Evian? We'll try that, we have Evian on the table… (besides our faithful Vittel). With water: do we say Colgate? Now if you bring it down to +/-30% vol. and survive the massive quantities of aniseed-like flavours, you could indeed use this as… toothpaste. Finish: extremely long, and that's the main problem here. All you can ingest within the next three hours is MacDo, Domino's or KFC. Or phaal curry. Or a lot of milk, by the way would you have the number of the Poison Control Centre? Comments: painful drink. You owe me.
SGP:590

Adios, I'm about to launch ewesmilkfun.com.

(Merci Agnès, Aurélien, Pierre-Louis)

 

September 4, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Glenglassaugh
times four
I don't get a chance to taste much Glenglassaugh, and indeed, it remains a bit of a left-field name in whisky Geekdom. However, I was impressed by some of the newer whiskies we tasted during a recent trip to the distillery, and when it's good it can be genuinely excellent whisky.

 

Glenglassaugh 'Revival' (46%, OB, -/+ 2020)

Glenglassaugh 'Revival' (46%, OB, -/+ 2020)
Matured in a combination of ex-red wine and first fill bourbon casks, then married and re-racked into fresh sherry. There seems to be quite a few batches out there of this one but I'm afraid I don't know exactly which one this is, except to say 'recent'. Colour: gold. Nose: youthful but rather rich and with lots of breads, a few honey notes and touches of porridge, dried flowers and slightly sappy touches from the wood. Overall the 'wood' aspects don't feel too loud though, and there's no obvious cloying from the wine component. Feels pretty fresh and natural overall. Mouth: rather punchy arrival, quite a bit of gingerbread, honey, spice cake, wood spices and a bit more influence from the wine components comes through - things like plum and damson jams. Good level of weight and richness in the mouth. Getting quite a bit of rye bread spiciness and treacle too. Finish: medium, spicy, lightly sappy and with some more grippy woody notes. Comments: decent, humble sipping whisky, and I think an improvement on earlier batches. But Glenglassaugh from more simple wood is much, much more to my taste I would say.

SGP: 561 - 78 points.

 

 

Glenglassaugh 10 yo 2009/2020 (54.7%, OB 'Coastal Casks', cask #1346, bourbon barrel, 250 bottles)

Glenglassaugh 10 yo 2009/2020 (54.7%, OB 'Coastal Casks', cask #1346, bourbon barrel, 250 bottles)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: lovely! A wealth of ripe pears, cider apples, lighter notes of pineapple and fruit salad juices. Extremely fresh, ripe and vibrant. Quite a lot of playful cereals too, soda bread, canvass, rolling tobacco, lemon pith. Feels both 'rich' and 'light' - which I really enjoy. With water: goes more towards cereals, breads, freshly made salty porridge, hessian and trail mix. Mouth: classical and excellent modern bourbon matured whisky in that you have this immediate combination of silky and natural vanilla from the wood, along with coconut and tinned exotic fruits such as pineapple and guava. Also greener orchard fruits which feel a little crisper with a light sense of acidity. With water: Poire William, lightly custardy, white pepper and thready traces of waxiness. Great distillate I would say. Finish: good length, lightly salty, some green herbs, heather flowers and wee touches of honey and cereal. Comments: top notch! Detailed, pleasurable and very 'natural' malt whisky. And indeed you do feel a wee coastal 'tang' here and there.

SGP: 651 - 87 points.

 

 

Glenglassaugh 10 yo 2009/2020 (55.9%, OB 'Rare Cask Release', cask #559, bourbon barrel, 191 bottles)

Glenglassaugh 10 yo 2009/2020 (55.9%, OB 'Rare Cask Release', cask #559, bourbon barrel, 191 bottles)
This one should be peated… Colour: light gold. Nose: there's certainly some peat at work here, a lovely and gentle medicinal profile emerges first. Embrocations, bandages, antiseptic and things like sheep wool oils, lemons in brine and salted liquorice. Elegant, complex and well-balanced. With water: thicker smokiness, aniseed, sooty fireplaces, smoky wort and bonfire embers. Mouth: the peat is bigger and thicker on arrival. More dense, turfy peat but still otherwise very medicinal and sharp with notes of mercurochrome and sheep wool oils. Impressions of old hessian, charred rope and smoked olive oil. With water: more smoked olive oil, salted peanuts, brine, seawater and herbal cough medicines. Really excellent! Finish: long, oily, peaty, tarry, salty and medicinal. Comments: Should we all be paying a little more attention to these new Glenglassaughs? Quality seems pretty excellent if you ask me.

SGP: 465 - 88 points.

 

 

Glenglassaugh 30 yo (42%, OB, 2020)

Glenglassaugh 30 yo (42%, OB, 2020)
There's some sherry influence in this one but what proportion is full term vs secondary maturation I'm not sure. Colour: gold. Nose: orange marmalade, dried guava and papaya, flapjack, heather honey and wee touches of mango, nectars and waxes. Emblematic 'aged' single malt whisky that brings together fruitiness, richness and wood influence in a wonderfully harmonic way I think. In time I find some apricot and mineral oil too. Mouth: once again this impression of dried dark and exotic fruits, wood spice, fragrant green and herbal teas, and also dark grained breads. Some beery tones as well, feels very rich in texture despite the ABV. Familiar notes of hessian, camphor and resinous honey qualities. Some rather pronounced nutty and milk chocolate flavours arrive in time too, which feels quite sherry-derived. Nicely herbal with wormwood and verbena in time. Finish: medium in length, warming, more dried fruits, mentholated and herbal teas, supple waxes and wood spice. Comments: I think earlier batches were a bit more luminous, but this remains extremely classy, solid mature malt whisky. I would just say the wood starts to take over ever so slightly in the finish.

SGP: 561 - 89 points.

 

 

Thanks to Catriona.

 

 

 

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

 

September 3, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Glenlivet 80 Year Old
One of my firm beliefs about the greatest drinks in the world is that 'time' is an essential ingredient. Whether that is a crucial extra couple of days during fermentation, or cognacs that have spent over a century in cask, or wines which have matured in bottle under perfect conditions for many decades. In all circumstances time is an essential agent of beauty. It's important to bear in mind that this is something which can equally apply to excellent younger whiskies as well.

 

As long as I can remember, it has been fashionable in whisky to say casually critical things of longer aged whiskies, usually along the lines of them being too old, tired, woody etc.

 

 

Time

Sometimes these criticisms are absolutely justified, but on balance, after having tasted many longer aged whiskies, I feel confident in saying that they are more often than not pretty damn good. I also think it's important to try and reserve judgment about such things to an individual basis and only after having actually tasted the bottling in question. The real, and far more tricky question, lies around issues of pricing and value. People are understandably inclined to be critical of what they cannot afford, while the nature of supply and demand for such old spirits encourages the vulgarity of stratospheric pricing.  

 

However, irrespective of debates about pricing, it highlights that time is one of the foundational motivating factors in most of our individual perceptions of value in quality drinks. Time is something we cannot buy more of, but we can experience the cerebral weight of time captured in liquid form. There is pleasure in consuming something with the knowledge of how far back in history it was created, and how many years it has taken to arrive in our glass. The joy of beautiful flavours in the finest alcohols lies in their intricacy, and in being conscious as we consume them, of just how profoundly infinitesimal and complex all the cumulative forces must have been to create this final, delicious liquid. Even the technical flaws that come with age often form part of the fragile charms and personality of older drinks. There is emotion and pathos in a great wine that is finally starting its decline, or a whisky ever so slightly too long in the wood. Similarly, beauty in great drinks often exists simultaneously because of, and in spite of, great age. Most of us who love great drinks, seek to possess and consume them for these very pleasures.

 

 

GM

 

 

Gordon & MacPhail truck

 

 

I find it very cool that Gordon & MacPhail are able to release Scottish single malt whiskies of this sort of age. On a technical level it's a boundary in Scotch whisky that is always thrilling to push against and advance. As a practice it starts to have more in common with very old Cognacs, and indeed I will not be surprised if they'll be able to release a 100 year old single malt within the next couple of decades with some careful cask management. The fact they still have casks of makes like Glen Grant from the early 1950s at ABVs in the high fifties would suggest as such.

 

 

However, tasting extremely old whiskies like this can be tricky because you have to resist the emotions they can stir and assessing them almost operates on a different set of rules. I was struggling to think what I would pick as a sparring partner for this session, but thinking about the nature of spirits at this age it seems fitting to do it alongside a similarly very old 'age stated' Cognac. As we've often observed on Whiskyfun, different spirits at great age can often converge in style, so today we'll have in tandem the new 80yo Glenlivet alongside a very rare 75yo Cognac from Louis de Salignac.

 

 

Louis de Salignac '75 Years Old Fine Champagne' (OB, cognac, 1950s)

Louis de Salignac '75 Years Old Fine Champagne' (OB, cognac, 1950s)
There is no ABV stated on this bottle, but the glass and labels (along with some writing on the outer box) would all suggest it hails from the early 1950s. As such this should most likely be from pre-phylloxera vines. Colour: deep mahogany. Nose: immediately concentrated notes of fig, raisin and bitter chocolate with mentholated aspects, heavy tobacco aromas such as pipe tobacco in old leather pouches. Deeper earthy tones are also quite prominent which gives impressions of damp earthen cellars, wine must and petrichor. In time it becomes almost minty and displays bitterer herbal extracts, verbena, walnut liqueur and converges on some very old green Chartreuse. Mouth: I was afraid the addition of sugar may have hobbled this one, however the dryness remains firm and natural on arrival. Bitter chocolate, fresh espresso, roasted walnuts, cough syrup and leaf mulch. There's a heavier, slightly more rustic quality about it which to me is very typical pre-phylloxera style. Mushroom power, dried lemon peel, green walnut liqueur and black pepper. Many wee complexities continue to emerge. But it's a style which really demands patience and focus. Finish: medium in length, which is perhaps a tad disappointing, but this bitterness remains perfect and these flavours of walnuts, chocolate, earths, tobaccos and bitter herbs all remain precise and clear. Comments: exquisite and at times deceptively complex, you really have to take your time with this one. Clearly an older style of cognac and a positive example of the effects of great age. Although, ironically, many serious and knowledgeable cognac folk would probably class this as 'ready' rather than 'old'.
SGP: 561 - 91 points.

 

 

Glenlivet 1940/2020 80 Year Old (44.9%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Generations', cask #340, 1st fill sherry butt, 250 bottles)

Glenlivet 80 Year Old 1940/2020 (44.9%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Generations', cask #340, 1st fill sherry butt, 250 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: highly scented and polished, clearly hailing from the same family of American oak transport sherry casks that G&M were ubiquitously filling during this era. This highly aromatic mix of dried tropical fruits and coconut that can be found in many of their pre-war single malt bottlings from the 1980s and 1990s is on full display here.

 

 

However, there's also more in the way of scented exotic hardwoods and their resins. Aged dried citrus peels, pu-ehr tea, dried flowers, tobaccos. It is very evidently an 'old' single malt on the nose, but blind you might have said anything from 40 to 60 years old. So arguably it feels younger than it is. It evolves more towards extremely classical aromas of wormwood, honey and soft waxes. I also find shoe leather, honeysuckle and old mead. These herbal and resinous aspects also hint at some peat influence that has probably long broken down into these beautiful wee sub-aromas. Indeed, a totally enchanting nose that you could (and should) spend time with. Despite what I wrote in the intro, so far I would say this whisky is stylistically rather distinct from the Cognac. Mouth: quite a wonderful arrival that once again firmly reminds us of many other old G&M bottlings, which in itself is probably a paean to their cask policy during these decades. The wood is present of course, big, spicy, clean and yet still restrained enough to leave plenty breathing space for other characteristics. Myriad dried exotic fruit flavours, suggestions of some very old Fins Bois cognac, aniseed, dried figs, pollens, deeply complex earthiness, soft peppery tones, petrichor and medicinal herbal flavours. After quite some time the sweetness on the palate becomes extremely impressive, very honeyed, resinous and exotic. That you would still have freshness and a sense of assertiveness from the fruit after 80 years is rather mind blowing. Finish: good length, delicately on tobaccos, dried leaves, flowers, herbs, pollens and gently bitter exotic teas. A tad fragile but still beautiful. Comments: As I mentioned above, it's extremely hard to assess such ancient whiskies, not only while retaining a sense of neutrality, but also this nagging feeling that they do not conform to normal assessment parameters. What I would say is that this one retains excellent levels of freshness, complexity and balance, while also displaying good length and power. It's just that the fact it would do so after 80 years is just totally astounding and genuinely thrilling; please never forget I am at heart, and 100% remain, a total whisky geek! On a technical level I think this is a stunning whisky, if not into the absolute stratosphere, but what is most impressive is what it tells us about the ageing potential of great single malts if done correctly.
SGP: 652 - 93 points.

 

 

Now, after all that, let's quickly get a second opinion. Upon tasting the Glenlivet 80yo, my partner Lucy says:

 

 

"It's quite good, it's got a bit of a 'dark' aftertaste. But it's not as good as those other tropical fruity* ones I've tried."

 

 

Sometimes it's good to be brought back down to earth and remind ourselves that being a whisky geek is frequently a bit ridiculous.

 

 

(*Lucy is partial to 60s Bowmore)

 

 

 

 

September 2, 2021


Whiskyfun

A wee journey among the Nordics

Well, I had first thought 'the Nordic whiskies' were whiskies from anywhere north of France on a vertical line up to the North Pole, including Luxemburg, Belgium and The Netherlands, but a new very lovely leaflet by Berry Bros. & Rudd just taught me that those were 'only' Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland (I suppose Iceland's a part of the Nordics too, just like the Faroes). But that's a lot already since we could previously try quite a few superb juices from up there in the lands of rakfisk, smalahove and surströmming. Oh and of good friends. Maybe kick this off with a little apéritif, and then try to go dive into the wilderness?…

(PS some accents, slashes and umlauts will surely be missing here and there – with apologies, blame it on my Mac.)

Fary Lochan 2012/2017 'Forar Batch #02' (47%, OB, Denmark, 1500 bottles)

Fary Lochan 2012/2017 'Forar Batch #02' (47%, OB, Denmark, 1500 bottles) Three stars
This is fully ex-bourbon barrels and quarter casks. The distillery seems to be located in a town called 'Give', which can only be a very good sign. The two or three Fary Lochans I could try this far have been a little unusual but pretty good in my book. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's really fresh and pretty bready, you're almost nosing a mix of 90% breadcrumbs and 10% sawdust, before it would gear towards cider and just plain apple juice. Tends to become even breadier over time, always a development that I enjoy. Farmhouse bread with bits of apricot, also perhaps a little yoghurt (from the same farm). Mouth: more or less similar feelings, flour, a little sawdust, rye bread, apple juice, barley syrup, cider. Could be my mind playing tricks on me (again!) but I could quaff this, very lightly chilled, with gravlax and caviar. Finish: loses one or two points here because of this feeling of sawdust that tends to take over on your palate. Comments: reminds me of Russian barley vodka made in pot stills. Very pleasant breadiness.
SGP:441 - 81 points.

Another Fary Lochan…

Fary Lochan 2014/2021 (60.9%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Nordic Casks #1, hogshead, cask #6, 243 bottles)

Fary Lochan 2014/2021 (60.9%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Nordic Casks #1, hogshead, cask #6, 243 bottles) Four stars
I believe the fact that some very old, highly reputed merchants such as BB&R would now bottle some Nordic whiskies and not just Scotch does say a lot, especially given the fact that they have some super-noses on board. Colour: white wine. Nose: less sawdust for sure, more tart fruits (green gooseberries and rhubarb), a wee fermentary, yeasty and even kind of bacterial side as well (fear not, that's good!), and rather a lot of ethanol. Let's not push our luck – since we've got many more Nordics to try today – so, with water: fresh pancakes and polenta, with rather touches of blood oranges this time. Some chalk too. In whisky, chalk makes me walk (it's good that you don't work in advertising, S.)  Mouth (neat): heavy, hot, peppery and rather full of pear and pineapple sweets, plus a curious touch of vegetable, between asparagus and eggplant I would say. Teases you… With water: a very delicate fruitiness emerges, I would say prickly pears, together with no-less delicate, pretty minimal herbal smokiness. The malt is supposed to be smoked over burning nettle here but I'm not sure I could actually detect that. Finish: medium, gristy. Comments: very good for sure. Some sides reminded me of some Westland.
SGP:452 - 85 points.

More Dane whisky…

Stauning 'Kaos' (46%, OB, Denmark, +/-2021)

Stauning 'Kaos' (46%, OB, Denmark, +/-2021) Four stars
With such a name, this baby couldn't not have piqued my curiosity. This little chaotic whisky is a self-blend of Stauning's rye with their peated malt and was aged in first fill bourbon and virgin American oak. Aye, we're ready… Colour: light gold. Nose: a lot of fun, with smoked mangos, litres of chamomile tea, eucalyptus, cough syrup, rye bread, a saucerful of muesli (not secrets), then rather liquorice and even a little tar. No dissonances this far, we're good. Very moderate vanillaness, we're even better. Mouth: very good, pretty bombastic, with huge fruits (melons, apricots, mangos) and this bready smoke that's not seen everywhere. Touches of juniper and caraway, a little nutmeg, then fruit breads and even a little sourdough bread. We call that süweck here in Alsace. Finish: rather long and more on liquorice. Lightly salted liquorice. Comments: a joyful whisky that's both very excellent, innovative (for once, when some whiskymakers innovate they do not have exactly the same innovations as everybody else), and just fun. Recommended if the price is right. No we don't check prices.
SGP:652 - 85 points.

That one just called for another newish Stauning…(boy this session will be long)…

Stauning 'Bastard' (46.3%, OB, Denmark, +/-2020)

Stauning 'Bastard' (46.3%, OB, Denmark, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
Wie bitte, what bastard? Can you, in non-Japanese whisky, bear the name of a distillery and yet be a bastard? In any case, this is 70% malted rye and 30% malted barley, aged in deep-charred casks, and finished in… drumroll please… Mezcal! So yeah, an utter bastard… Colour: gold. Nose: right, perhaps a little too much. You do get the agave-y smells, which are always extremely singular, and you get that rich floral fruitiness that you could find in some young American ryes. Violets, lavender, sour peaches, then moist high-honey gingerbread, more gingerbread, even more gingerbread, a cartload of gingerbread… And tequila! Not too sure, but good fun. Mouth: this is almost tweaked aquavit, almost a real shamble... So, ginger wine, tonic, tequila, lavender, rye bread, gingerbread (you bet), beech smoke, pink pepper… Finish: rather long, round and yet fruity and spicy, with more sweet 'ex-char' vanilla. Comments: we've heard Diageo were doing stuff with whisky and tequila, but it is the first time I'm encountering such an UFW (unidentified flying whisky). Now, doesn't Stauning Distillery kind of belong to Diageo? That may explain why this is all a little 'hipstery'.
SGP:762 - 83 points.

From Denmark we'll swim to Smögen, then perhaps walk up north to High Coast…

Smögen 6 yo 2014/2021 (58.5%, OB, Exclusive to Germany, Sweden, PX hogsheads, cask #41+42, 852 bottles)

Smögen 6 yo 2014/2021 (58.5%, OB, Exclusive to Germany, Sweden, PX hogsheads, cask #41+42, 852 bottles) Four stars
Smögen's case is now closed, as every Tom, Dick and Harry now knows that it's one of the best small distilleries in the world. Colour: gold. Nose: another one that oozes of smartness. Some sides are clearly unlikely (I mean, deep-caramelised pad Thai? Mussel curry and raisins?) but this rich fermentary nose that seems to be full of esters - Jamaican-style - just burst with joy and hope (hold your horse, S.) Are we sure it was PX? With water: myrtle, cold stove, scoria, eucalyptus wood, a pack of salmiak… Mouth (neat): what a rich, smoky, caramelly, phenolic, resinous, highly extractive concoction! I'd swear you could believe this was rather cold-distilled, or that someone's smoked raisins over burning rubber boots or tyres. With water: wood oils, liquorice,  garam masala, juniper berries, marmalade. Finish: kind of endless, an aspect that any taster should factor in when building a line-up. Comments: big and lovely, almost monstrous. I'm sure our dear German friends enjoy this with their best currywursts. Peace and love!
SGP:474 - 87 points.

Off to Box/High Coast, further north…

High Coast 'H' (51%, OB, Sweden, Silent Mills Collection 03 Svanö, 2021)

High Coast 'H' (51%, OB, Sweden, Silent Mills Collection 03 Svanö, 2021) Four stars
I'm not totally sure I'm getting the whole story (I have to confess I first read 'Silent Stills' and felt a little sad) but there, we're here for the whisky anyway, are we not. Colour: light gold. Nose: some zesty peat, it seems, with a pretty Islayian tightness, so quite the opposite to the exuberant Smögen, oranges, fresh kelp, fresh almonds, lemon squash, lemonade… With water: gets more medicinal, with bandages, ointments,      some grist, some chalk… Mouth (neat): just very good, lemony, rich and somewhat oily, with some spices from the wood, ginseng, turmeric, ginger… Some bell pepper too, this one too has a kind of Thai style. I may need holidays, having said that. With water: do not add more than one drop or it would make the oak come out. Finish: long, fresh, more on lemons, angelica, fresh turmeric… Comments: I'll have to enquire about those 'silent mills'. The whisky's excellent.
SGP:563 - 85 points.

High Coast 2013/2021 (60.9%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Sweden, Nordic Casks #1, hogshead, cask #1384, 290 bottles)

High Coast 2013/2021 (60.9%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Sweden, Nordic Casks #1, hogshead, cask #1384, 290 bottles) Five stars
Looks like this is an unpeated High Coast, and another one in this brand new Nordic series by BB&R. I'm just wondering, would they also add Highland Park to this wee series? Colour: deep gold. Nose: bang, butterscotch and heather honey plus cappuccino and amontillado. Am an utter sucker for this fairly modern style. With water: precious hardwood, box of Partagas (as I remember them), toffee and fudge, roasted pecans and peanuts… To be honest, I'm reminded of the early batches of Macallan 10 Cask Strength. Mouth (neat): sublime! Huge, on fudge and pine liqueur, chartreuse, millionaire shortbread covered with pepper liqueur and crème de menthe, juniper and its buddy caraway… Well in my own way of organising things, this falls into the DDIA category. Which just means 'Don't Drink It All'. With water: oh, oils and herbal liqueurs, with just a tightness that tickles your tongue and teases your lips. I know, I know. Finish: long and more resinous. Comments: feels like first fill fino or perhaps amontillado, but it just says 'hogshead'. What do I know…
SGP:471 - 90 points.

Since we're at High Coast, quickly…

High Coast 2015/2020 (63.6%, OB, for Taiwan Single Malt Club, 2nd fill Hungarian oak, 76 bottles)

High Coast 2015/2020 (63.6%, OB, for Taiwan Single Malt Club, 2nd fill Hungarian oak, 76 bottles) Three stars
What's this wee bottling? Hungarian oak is European oak and is widely used in winemaking. Unless they mean ex-Tokaji cask of something? Colour: gold. Nose: too strong, burns your nostrils and leaves you with no other option than Netflix. Let's avoid that… With water: tight, lemony and herbal, with notes of absinth and menthol. Pastis perhaps, vanilla, brioche… Mouth (neat): very good. Yellow chartreuse and fudge, it seems… But it is very strong. With water: careful, it is not the best swimmer ever, some excessive paraffin and plastics may come out. That's the thing with these super-high strengths, they're a chore to handle. Resins. Finish: long, resinous, still hard to handle… Comments: 100° proof don't do no harm, higher strengths would tend to be unnecessary in my book, unless you're some kind of fetishist. See what I mean, cowboys and all that. I think I more or less missed this one.
SGP:363 - 82 points.

Good , let's move to Norway if you don't mind…

Myken 2017/2021 (61.4%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Norway, Nordic Casks #1, barrel, cask #15, 246 bottles)

Myken 2017/2021 (61.4%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Norway, Nordic Casks #1, barrel, cask #15, 246 bottles) Four stars
This is a first on WF. What's striking me is the fact the vast majority of these excellent Nordic distilleries were started by whisky enthusiasts and certainly not by any big faceless businesses. By the way, Myken sits on an island in the north of Norway, near the artic circle. Let's just hope that with global warming, they won't end up with a climate that's equivalent to that of Dar-es-Salam. Well they could always distil figs… Colour: white wine. Nose: a few sugary touches, fruit creams, berries, gooseberries, green plums, some hay for sure, sourdough… Once again, it is a little strong. With water: ah nice, sourdough, weissbeer, smoky porridge (just another name for porridge with Ardbeg), oxalis, oyster plant… Mouth (neat): very tart and citrusy. Limoncello! A milder, herbal smoke in the background. With water: smoked sour bread, lemon, bone-dry sauvignon blanc, etcetera. Touches of fennel seed and liquorice, green smoke, Korean smoked oysters... Finish: long, blade-y, rather rich, fermentary and yeasty. Mind you, this is hardly four years old. Comments: great surprise. They all seem to keep their whiskies close to nature, unless they've learnt the sorcery of wood technology. Did you know that some distillers now have an Alexa pod in each and every barrel? Nah of course I'm joking. Anyway, an excellent young Norwegian whisky, we are pleased.
SGP:452 - 85 points.

Time to drive to Finland, via the north of Sweden…

Kyro 2016/2021 (54.6%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Finland, Nordic Casks #1, barrel, cask #16037, 256 bottles)

Kyro 2016/2021 (54.6%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Finland, rye, Nordic Casks #1, barrel, cask #16037, 256 bottles) Four stars
I remember well Kyro's early ryes, they were excellent. But I'm afraid I've lost touch… Colour: deep gold. Nose: yeah there. Sauna oils (as if by chance) and muscat, gewurztraminer, pomegranates, and just, well, Sauternes. Yep, Sauternes. With water: oh, pumpernickel, homemade gingerbread… I just adore this! My Germanity is flattered. Mouth (neat): oh lol, this is super good, extremely sweet and overly spicy, on turbo-charged rye and rose jellies. The most precious Turkish delights. With water: lavender, wisteria jelly (not sure you could make that), sweet rye, red liquorice… Finish: long, very spicy, very fruity. Some kind of gentle monster-spirit, now it tends to become a tad wishy-washy, on chicory and office coffee. Grenadine and liquorice allsorts in the aftertaste. This is always the tricky stage. Comments: was this man made? AI whisky? As always, the finish decides on the score. Well, more or less; having said that, I rather love this boisterous wee Kyro.
SGP:652 - 87 points.

Time to call this a tasting session, with a last Scandinavian whisky. One that bites and hits you (I suppose)…

Teerenpeli 7 yo (70.5%, OB for Kirsch Import, Finland, sherry, cask #09122013A, 276 bottles)

Teerenpeli 7 yo (70.5%, OB for Kirsch Import, Finland, sherry, cask #09122013A, 276 bottles) Four stars
I mean, holy featherless crow! I'll tell you what, if this didn't come from those fabulous and trustworthy people at Kirsch Import, I wouldn't even touch this drop. I mean, 70%, isn't that just criminal? On the other hand, you're right, I doubt any variants of Covid-19 would resist this little liquid. So, with confidence and faith… Colour: gold. Nose: butterscotch, Jim Beam and varnish. Find the odd one out. With water: yeah butterscotch, yeah bourbon, yeah varnish, yeah chestnut ice cream, and yeah malt soup. Very few people still eat malt soup, but it's a very fine dish and I'm sure *** Michelin restaurants will soon put this back into their menus. Well, they should. Mouth (neat): it's loud but you do feel that this crazy caramelly and toffee-ish concoction kind of works. Listen, this is almost cold espresso. With water: more malty and bourbony sourness. You could have called this the missing link. What I really enjoy is the way it becomes soupy, salty, bouillony, with even caramelised onions and pickled figs. Not too sure about those pickled figs. Finish: long, salty and malty, pretty yeastier at this stage, going towards espresso and chicory coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: what was that? Extraordinarily malty whisky. Thank you Finland.
SGP:362 - 86 points.

Eleven Nordic whiskies, looks like we've made it! Congrats my friend, and thanks for your unconditionally unconditional support… (Ed: S., that was so unnecessary!)

(Danke Sebastian und Jonny)

 

September 1, 2021


Whiskyfun

summer

Summer Duets
Two slightly Plebeian Royal Brackla
Two young little Bracklas that were virtually alone in their boxes… Time to try them…

Royal Brackla 10 yo 2007/2017 (59.4%, Distiller's Art for S.Y.C. Vino & Cigar Company, refill hogshead, 313 bottles)

Royal Brackla 10 yo 2007/2017 (59.4%, Distiller's Art for S.Y.C. Vino & Cigar Company, refill hogshead, 313 bottles) Three stars
Another Taiwanese bottling with some pretty idiosyncratic artwork. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: really raw, rustic, close to the ground so to speak, with a lot of chalk, tart green pears, flints, lambswool and probably whiffs of washing powder. Green pepper and green tea. Rustic indeed but that's not something that tend to dislike. With water: a little easier, with cherries and plums, leaves, a touch of rubber, yoghurt, more chalk… Mouth (neat): really tough and austere, with tons of chalk, green pepper, sour leaves, the greenest apples… With water: there, many more fruits, melons, peaches, greengages, gooseberries… Now the core remains hot and rather raw. It was some very refill wood, apparently. Finish: long, very chalky and peppery. Rather lemon zests at the fruit section. Very grassy and lemony aftertaste. Comments: a little challenging perhaps, this the exact opposite of a smooth and mellow malt whisky. Has its charms.

SGP:371 - 80 points.

Royal Brackla 12 yo 2006/2018 (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, 352 bottles)

Royal Brackla 12 yo 2006/2018 (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead, 352 bottles) Three stars and a half
Once again we're very late. Colour: white wine. Nose: rather similar, just a tad gentler, a touch more on baker's yeast, with a wee medicinal side (bandages) and rather plaster than chalk. Summer rain, lemon zest, angelica. Mouth: this medicinal side once again (eucalyptus) with some chalk, touch of rubber, lemons, a funny hint of tequila, maybe, liquorice wood… Certainly more approachable than the 2007. Finish: rather long, with an earthy/lemony character that's pretty pleasant. A hint of lavender (sweets) and thyme (tea). Comments: a very good drop, provided you like them, err, a little rustic indeed.

SGP:471 - 83 points.

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

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

August 2021

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Talisker 41 yo 1979/2021 (47.5%, OB, Prima & Ultima, American oak hogsheads, 556 bottles) - WF93

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Karuizawa 1968/2010 (61.1%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, cask #6955, 210 bottles) - WF94

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Benromach 10 yo (43%, OB, 2020) - WF88

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Confluences Très Vieille Petite Champagne L.49.62.73' (44.3%, OB, 2021, 292 bottles)  - WF92

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Wolfburn 2014/2021 'Vibrant Stills' (50%, OB, 1,206 bottles)  - WF76
 

August 31, 2021


Whiskyfun

summer

Summer Duets
Today indie Aberlour, young and old
Always a joy to try the highly respected Aberlour, especially when the sherry's absent or very discreet…

Aberlour 10 yo 2010/2021 'Marsala Cask Finish' (46%, Hart Brothers, Finest Collection)

Aberlour 10 yo 2010/2021 'Marsala Cask Finish' (46%, Hart Brothers, Finest Collection) Four stars
All right, I agree avoiding sherry to get into marsala instead does not make much sense, but I'm really glad to be able to try some pretty new stuff by Hart Bros. Colour: white wine. Nose: a fairly sour and porridge-y start, gearing towards chardonnay and brioche, super-fresh walnuts, ultra-fresh panettone, and just more of all that. It's funny how the mind works as I'm also finding other Italian delicacies, maraschino, amaretti, a little banana liqueur (is that really Italian?) and pinot grigio. Pinot grigio ain't the best part, but this is some charming nose. Mouth: really sweet and spicy, with something Thai this time. Thai basil, coriander, small lemons… All that in a whole litre of pink grapefruit juice, apple juice, and once again that feeling of chardonnay. Aberlour's a fruity make but this marsala thing seems to have made it even fruitier. A tiny touch of mustard and curry. Finish: medium, rather fresh, all on yellow fruits and oranges, with this mustardy signature again that would remind us of fino sherry. Not complaining at all. Comments: really pleased with this young indie Aberlour but watch these, with this kind of fruitiness there's much more 'evaporation' than usual. See what I mean.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

And now a much older indie Aberlour. Those aren't common, are they?...

Aberlour 30 yo 1989/2020 (51.5%, The Perfect Fifth, 241 bottles)

Aberlour 30 yo 1989/2020 (51.5%, The Perfect Fifth, 241 bottles) Five stars
I've just checked and indeed, I've never tried such an old independent Aberlour. Rejoice, rejoice! Colour: gold. Nose: the most wonderful notes of artisan cider at first, then mirabelles and quinces (a trait that, in my book, Aberlour shares with Balvenie). It is not a very complicated nose this far, but balance is perfect. Whiffs of crushed mint too. With water: it would get waxy, chalky, and almost a little coastal. There's even a little shoe polish and a drop of linseed oil. Had someone claimed this was HP, I wouldn't have cried wolf. Mouth (neat): excellently orange-y. Orange cordial, marmalade, white pepper, notes of honeysuckle and clover honey, beignets, zests, some chalk too, Sancerre, verbena, riesling… This is pretty perfect, with a fantastic tightness at the ripe old age of 30. With water: decomposes into small herbs and berries. Touch of myrtle, perhaps, lemon caviar, more chalk and even a mineral grittiness. Finish: long and bright, just going on with the same flavours, chalk, lemon, green apples, berries, dry white wine… Comments: will there be more 'natural' old Aberlours or was it a one-off? Only the future will tell…  Exceptional whisky if you enjoy these slightly tighter styles.
SGP:561 - 91 points.

Very happy with those indie Aberlours…

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

 

August 30, 2021


Whiskyfun

A short trip around the world...
Time to have more 'whiskies from the rest of the world', although I'm not sure anyone's still using that expression up there over Hadrian's wall… Let's simply start from… France.

Le Breuil 'Origine' (46%, OB, Château du Breuil, France, single malt, +/-2021)Le Breuil 'Origine' (46%, OB, Château du Breuil, France, single malt, +/-2021)

Le Breuil 'Origine' (46%, OB, Château du Breuil, France, single malt, +/-2021) Three stars
Château du Breuil are rather Calvados makers but all distillers of the world are making gin and whisky these days, so why not those fine folks in Pays d'Auge. They've used Golden Promise (think old Macallan) and smaller French oak casks. Now, why 'Origine', I couldn't tell you. Colour: straw. Nose: extremely fresh and fruity, with notes of pineapples and indeed, pears and apples. I'm also finding some orange squash and perhaps elderflowers, then a little tapioca, from the oak I suppose. Mouth: burst with vanillin and foam bananas, then pears again as well as peach syrup. It sure is very fruity but it hasn't got any cloying sweetness. Finish: a little short but clean and fruity indeed, until more straight oak and cinnamon would come out in the aftertaste. Comments: a little light for malt whisky, despite the strength and the Golden Promise, but it's still a success that wouldn't disappoint anyone. I also like that they found a 'difference', without having used any silly wine casks or else, as far as I can tell.

SGP:731 - 80 points.

Off to Ireland…

Waterford 'The Cuvée' (50%, OB, Ireland, 2021)

Waterford 'The Cuvée' (50%, OB, Ireland, 2021) Four stars
This is a brand new self-blend of no less than 25 single farm origins, bottled late in July this year. Which means that it's still pretty terroiry as all farms are located in the south-east of Ireland. Colour: gold. Nose: there's this loud and clear element that's rather crucial in my book, grains and the breads made thereof. I'm rather reminded of one of these long breakfasts you may have in posh hotels in Mittelleuropa, where they would have dozens and dozens of different breads on the tables (and champagne, plus usually terrible coffee, but that's another story). Lovely vanilla and plantain in the background. So, keyword: bread. With water: gets a tad more floral, with notes of fresh walnut cake and even a little chardonnay. Mouth (neat): the oak spices are talking first (curry, cardamum, cinnamon, caraway) then a few pencil shavings – cedarwood – and then sweeter fruits and grains. Bananas of course,  touches of guava… With water: water makes it oilier and would bring out a little more lemon. Zests. Finish: rather long, perhaps a little oak-forward but that's nothing since in this very case, oak's the next flavour after bread. Milk chocolate and caramel in the aftertaste. Lactones C7 and C8 (gee…) Comments: excellent but you may almost want to cellar this for a good twenty years, as you would do with a great young Pauillac that's not totally digested the fresh oak yet. By the way, French oak?

SGP:551 - 87 points.

To Belgium…

Wave Distil 6 yo 2014/2020 (50%, Bottles & Legends, Belgium, 140 bottles)

Wave Distil 6 yo 2014/2020 (50%, Bottles & Legends, Belgium, 140 bottles) Four stars
This is a first on WF, I had never tried some Wave Distil before. They're located in Sorinnes near Namur and seem to be having much fun making gin, vodka, rum and indeed, malt whisky. This very indie bottling is ex-first fill bourbon and French oak. Oh and I believe it's a Porsche 356 on the label. Colour: light gold. Nose: new wave indeed, with some sweet oak and many pastries and sweeter breads, plus custard and crushed bananas. Also popcorn and nougat, plus a drop of triple-sec, a combo that would just always work. With water: tiny petroly whiffs, rubber boots, all the rest being on pastries and nougat-like aromas. Warm nougat at the factory, yummy! Mouth (neat): creamy, fat arrival, lifted by citrus and coriander. Then oranges and apples, and then once again, those welcome nougats and popcorns. Biscuits. Pretty fat and yet alert body, very pleasant. With water: this is a surprise. Rather perfect balance between some rather active oak and a tart, lively, brisk distillate. Finish: rather long, on similar notes. Comments: very surprising mwah, I say. To be honest, I had never heard of them before, shame on me. Goes very well with the excellent Waterford, with many similarities.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Since we're in Europe…

St. Kilian 2017/2021 'Pleased to meet you' (60%, OB, for Whiskyfolks, Germany, cask #666, 433 bottles)

St. Kilian 2017/2021 'Pleased to meet you' (60%, OB, for Whiskyfolks, Germany, cask #666, 433 bottles) Four stars
An ex-PX peater from Deutschland, that does not grow on trees. And we won't comment on the cask's devilish number (well you just did, S.) Oh and we're trying this baby after Charlie Watts' passing, he who did such great drumming on 'Sympathy'. Here's to you, Mr. Watts. Colour: gold. Nose: we've got our head in a bag of maize flour, while someone's burning old tyres in the neighbourhood. The kind of slightly wacky nose that's actually very pleasant, partly because of that wackiness. With water: old dusts in the attic, old books, old clothes, more maize flour, ground rye, old cigarettes… Really, all good fun. Mouth (neat): great fun once again here. Very strange arrival, a tad plastic-like and with some kinds of burnt earthy spices, then smoked marmalade. I mean, you take a jar of marmalade, pour a bottle of Lagavulin into it, shake, let rest, shake, and voilà. With water: it loves water, getting cleaner, losing its dryingness (do you say that?) and displaying more marmalade, spicy chutneys, even notes of satay. Cardamom and tamarind. Good fun indeed while you would have first thought this would be a Fiat Multipla of whisky. It's rather a BMW. Finish: long, tight, spicy, green, then rounder, with even some butterscotch in the aftertaste. I think this would go well with dim-sum. Frankfurtian dim-sum (the Distillery's located south of Frankfurt). Comments: whisky should be fun and this is fun, and very good. But give it time, it's a boisterous fighter; remember, cask #666.

SGP:574 - 87 points.

Let's just hop to Canada… (with special nods to our friends Davin and Lawrence!)

Macaloney's Caledonian 'Peated Darach Braiche' (46%, OB, Canada, ex-bourbon, 2020)

Macaloney's Caledonian 'Peated Darach Braiche' (46%, OB, Canada, ex-bourbon, 2020) Four stars and a half
This baby from Vancouver Island, where they started to distil in 2016. That ex-Lagavulin and bluesman extraordinaire Mike Nicolson, who by the way did write a few witty articles for Whiskyfun a long time ago, would be on board this venture can only be a good sign. But do they keep doing gigs in the stillhouse? Will this wee whisky be growling? Colour: white wine. Nose: clean, crisp, with lemons, buckwheat, tarragon galettes, oriental bread, then some wee whiffs of cauliflower and Brussels sprout, white IPA (a new thing, apparently) and then just peated grist, then more yeasty touches, fresh sourdough bread, leaven... Just love that. In short, it is a very wonderful, natural nose. Oh and some Dr-Swan witcheries included too. Mouth: maybe 48 instead of 46% vol? Nah I'm pushing things because I find this rather splendid, complex, fat, smoky of course, citrusy, spicy, caramelly, with some butterscotch (a Dr Swan signature, in my book) and these bready notes that I enjoy so much. Excellent, fat and fresh. Finish: lovely, long, a little more on green spices, cardamom, bell pepper, perhaps even a pinhead of wasabi… Comments: some sides remind me of Rémy's Westland, just a few miles away, in the US. I know, on this continent, just a few miles may mean quite a few stag leaps. Young age, very high quality.

SGP:576 - 89 points.

All very good or excellent whiskies today. We'll do another 'world trip' very soon.

 

August 29, 2021


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