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

 

Whiskies 16,369
Other spirits 2,242
Angus 1,349

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (96)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
27)
Banff (5
2)
Ben Nevis (207)
Ben Wyvis
(3)
Benriach (1
92)
Benrinnes (
102)
Benromach (
71)
Bladnoch (
84)
Blair Athol (
95)
Bowmore (5
55)
Braes of Glenlivet (4
8)
Brora (1
35)
Bruichladdich (309)
Bunnahabhain (3
91)

Caol Ila (668)
Caperdonich (
100)
Cardhu (3
8)
Clynelish (4
48)
Coleburn (2
5)
Convalmore (2
8)
Cragganmore (84)
Craigduff (4)
Craigellachie (
102)
Dailuaine (87)
Dallas Dhu (41)
Dalmore (1
32)
Dalwhinnie (38)
Deanston (
54)
Dufftown (5
5)

Edradour (90)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
78)
Laphroaig (4
70)
Ledaig (1
35)
Linkwood (1
73)
Littlemill (1
27)
Loch Lomond (
78)
Lochside (72)
Longmorn (2
3
3)
Longrow (7
8)

Macallan (315)
Macduff (91)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
49)
Millburn (2
4)
Miltonduff (
107)
Mortlach (206)
Mosstowie (2
4)
Scapa (51)
Speyburn (
48)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (
403)
St-Magdalene (5
4)
Strathisla (
106)
Strathmill (
47)

 
 
Pete and Jack



2021
April 1
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

 
 

May 10, 2021


Whiskyfun

Ben Nevis (a tribute to Colin Ross)

Colin Ross, former Distillery Manager of Ben Nevis passed away last week. He was an extraordinary, sweet and deep man and I'll always remember his incredible stories. The maharajah, his plane and his barrels, anyone? Not to mention the fabulous whiskies he and his team used to make. He sure made out of Ben Nevis a both profound and shining star amongst aficionados – and, between us, contributed to the current glory of many a Japanese whisky too. These wee Ben Nevisses are for him and his son.
We have many on the table, let's do them randomly, and perhaps not in one go…

CR
At Ben Nevis Distillery with Colin Ross,
many mooins ago

Ben Nevis 10 yo 2010/2021 (56.7%, The Duchess, Shiraz cask finish, cask #1800020, 317 bottles)

Ben Nevis 10 yo 2010/2021 (56.7%, The Duchess, Shiraz cask finish, cask #1800020, 317 bottles) Four stars
Ducks are fashionable these days, but shiraz? Well, it's true that Ben Nevis could take just anything, so why not shiraz?… Colour: apricotty. Nose: starts steely, with some soot and some copper (old coins), yoghurt, sour cherries, then we have fresh concrete and damp gravel. It's just been raining… Chrome polish, pu-her tea. There's often pu-her in Ben Nevis. With water: leather, tobacco, and more sour cherries, with wee hints of truffle and fumes in the background. Mouth (neat): quite a lot of pepper and chilli sauce, with this chutney-y character, pickled fruits, bitters, some tar and a little rubber… Well I'm sure you could make some high-class spritz out of this one. Please pass the bottle of champagne… Rather fat body. With water: gets gentler, fruitier, with rather more red berry jams. What we call an 'old bachelor's jam'. Touch of mead and stout, fifty-fifty. Finish: rather long, reminding me of that cherry jam they make in Itxassou, in the French Basque country. Goes well with hard cheese. Comments: clearly something else, a tad dissonant here and there. Thelonious Monk's own Scotch? Love Thelonious Monk, so…
SGP:562 - 87 points.

Ben Nevis 10 yo 2008/2018 'Batch No 1' (62.4%, OB, 9000 bottles)

Ben Nevis 10 yo 2008/2018 'Batch No 1' (62.4%, OB, 9000 bottles) Five stars
This baby matured in bourbon, sherry and wine casks. I would say this is one of the very last 'emblematic' BNs Colin Ross composed, which makes it even more moving. Colour: gold. Nose: no winey notes, that's sorted. Then pure Ben Nevis, very fat, full of oils, petrol, sesame, some kind of thick bread, roasted pecans, walnuts, a touch of metal polish and one of mustard, soot, lees and beers… Plus, I have to say, quite some ethanol. Mind you, 62% +! Oh and a manzanilla-y touch, always a hit at WF Towers. With water: I so love manzanilla! Does manzanilla grappa exist, by the way? Wonderful salty, coastal, walnutty and mustardy nose. Mouth (neat): huge, full of mustard, manzanilla indeed, green walnuts, seawater, green peppercorns… In truth it's pretty brutal, but water will help. With water: perfect sootiness, saltiness, and, well, finoness (?) What a distillate! Finish: very long, on just the same flavours. A great old fino by Bodegas Tradición. Comments: 90 + 1 for Colin. I do what I want, this is my blog. No, no refunds, who do you think you are? Cheers Colin!
SGP:373 - 91 points.

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1998/2020 (54.4%, Hidden Spirits for LMDW, 2nd fill sherry, cask #BN9820, 208 bottles)

Ben Nevis 22 yo 1998/2020 (54.4%, Hidden Spirits for LMDW, 2nd fill sherry, cask #BN9820, 208 bottles) Four stars and a half
There's been a 21 1998 by Hidden Spirits that just rocked my tulip (glass). This is a sequel bottling, I suppose… Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh yes, abundant old walnuts, old British car engine, mustard sauce, pine resin and menthol essence, autumn leaves, old cigars, old dry Madeira, vin jaune… I find this just sublime. With water: a little more dirtiness, old oils, linseed, soot, coal dust and all that. Very Ben Nevis. Mouth (neat): imagine a blend with 95% old fino and 5% proper moscatel. Touches of resinous woods and chlorophyll, plus a tiny drop of crème de menthe. Perhaps less complex than on the nose, but this game isn't over… With water:  there, these sour, gritty, rubbery and slightly acidic touches that are not unseen in BN. Tends to refuse you at this point, it is a fighter. Sweet earthy mustard. Finish: long and curiously sweeter, almost honeyed. Have I mentioned moscatel before? Sour-sweet. Comments: one that doesn't like to let it go. Bas***d!
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Ben Nevis 3 yo (56.6%, Whisky Hood, peated sherry bloodtub, 2019)

Ben Nevis 3 yo (56.6%, Whisky Hood, peated sherry bloodtub, 2019) Four stars and a half
Good fun from Switzerland. 3 years, that's pretty young, but we could notice, in the past, that bloodtubs were very fast! Colour: amber. Nose: rusty, spicy, peaty, very medicinal. Embrocations, thuja wood, teak oil, retsina, loads of tar, old tarry ropes, peach leaves… With water: Grisons meat (no wonder, the honourable bottler is Swiss) and bresaola, plus touches of new tyres and alpine mud. I am not joking and am finding this lovely and very pleasantly 'different'. Mouth (neat): good fun indeed! This works, it's thick as a liqueur, mentholy and camphory, very tarry, extractive, with a good dollop of green chartreuse and probably some Bénédictine to boot. It's very good, I think. With water: perhaps a nod to butter pears, otherwise more cough medicine and tar. Finish: long and tarry, with some coastal elements as well as some heavy beer in the aftertaste. Comments: truly excellent. These little bloodtubs can be true bastards and leak more than a Jaguar, but when they work they work. Excellent, and probably pretty rare. Grüezi!
SGP:565 - 88 points.

Ben Nevis 'MacDonald's Traditional' (46%, OB, +/-2020)

Ben Nevis 'MacDonald's Traditional' (46%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
We've tried and earlier expression back in 2013 and were not totally flabbergasted, but it was good (WF 83). Colour: white wine. Nose: more peat than I remembered. Dirt and scoria, gravel, soot, old stove, apple peelings and last year's walnuts. Definitely kind of metallic as well. Then ripe plums, tartes and cakes. A little brine too, capers… Mouth: hold on, this is good. More dirt and soot, ashes, kippers, green apples, some grist and flour, perhaps a tiny olive, seashells… It's peatier than I remembered. Finish: good length, with a little vanilla coating it. A grassy peatiness and some pepper and coconut  in the aftertaste. Comments: probably a little young (that coconut) but the spirit is pretty vigorous, hale and hearty. And peaty.
SGP:454 - 84 points.

A last one but there should be more tomorrow…

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (56.1%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail, hogshead, cask #1684)

Ben Nevis 23 yo 1996/2020 (56.1%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail, hogshead, cask #1684) Five stars
They say the 1996s are all great. Are we really sure? Colour: straw. Nose: you can't quite fight this. Peaches, sunflower seeds (or oil), fresh almonds, plaster, a drop of mint essence, white asparagus… The taster just bows before this. With water: wool, new magazines, ground barley, chalk and a brand new tweed jacket. Which I'll go buy in Edinburgh as soon as we're allowed to fly. Mouth (neat): astounding precision. Maracuja, flints, chalk, citrons, touch of pepper, olive oil, whatnot… With water: more on cakes. Finish: medium, saltier. Lemon, salt and pepper in the aftertaste, the salt even plays with your lips. Comments: boringly excellent. Fab selection once again, nothing to add. Or rather this, 'more please'. They could sell subscriptions, no?
SGP:463 - 90 points.

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

 

May 9, 2021


Whiskyfun

Three young rums

Indeed, just a wee trio for a change.

La Mauny 5 ans d'âge (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-1990)

La Mauny 5 ans d'âge (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-1990) one star and a half
La Mauny is very largely available in France. This is an older bottle, which was very largely available as well around thirty years ago.  We were to crack it open one day… Colour: gold. Nose: I find this rather splendid at first nosing. No old bottle effect, some diesel oil, flints, rotting bananas, touches of tar and liquorice, it would just get a tad sugarish after three minutes, maybe because our brain's now filtered out the diesel oil. Mouth: it's really cool that they would have bottled these at 45%. What's sure is that liquorice and bonbons are running the show now, with clearly some syrup or liqueurs in the background. Were these sauced-up at that time? Some mild disappointment, shall we say. Finish: no, falls apart, gets even more sugary, I'd almost say sacchariny, while the aftertaste's rather bitter and burnt. Comments: I was having high hopes after a few first sniffs, but it all went pear-shaped after that. Maybe do some retro ti-vieux out of what's remaining?
SGP:631 - 68 points.

We need comforting ones…

Diamond 9 yo 2011/2020 (67.4%, Or Sileis, Guyana, bourbon barrel, cask #18, 248 bottles)

Diamond 9 yo 2011/2020 (67.4%, Or Sileis, Guyana, bourbon barrel, cask #18, 248 bottles) Three stars and a half
Comforting, right. To think that this wee thing travelled to and from Taiwan by plane! Colour: virtually red. Lovely garnet. Nose: I'm getting a little incense and whiffs of rose and perhaps balsa wood, and for sure ripe pomegranate and a huge barbecued T-bone steak. But no chances will be taken here, so… With water: guess what, it's rather a lighter Diamond, not one from the pot-stills. Rather a lot of caramel and roasted nuts, molasses aplenty, then carrot cake. It's very intriguing, reminding me of some 'rhums de sucrerie'. Which it probably is, by the way. Lovely earthiness coming out, roots… Mouth (neat): this is frightening, is it not? But after all, we've already tried bourbons that were at 70% plus (yeah well, look how that worked out, S.) Rich, thick, caramelly, with a feeling of deeply stewed Campari or something. Boy does it move like honey, you'd almost need a spoon to get it out of your glass. Quite. With water: all on molasses, burnt caramel, brownies…  Finish: medium, sweeter, rather on Demerara sugar, rather appropriately. Comments: a beast to frighten your enemies and your mother-in-law. With really a lot of water, it gets as gentle as a lamb. Not an estery one for sure.
SGP:640 - 83 points.

Hampden 8 yo 'OWH' (61.9%, OB for Whisky Live Singapore 2021, Jamaica, cask #669, 2020)

Hampden 8 yo 'OWH' (61.9%, OB for Whisky Live Singapore 2021, Jamaica, cask #669, 2020) Five stars
I've heard you'd better make friends with this one. It is also about the lizard cuckoo, which is a bird and not, mind you, a French politician. Last year's OWH for Whisky Live Paris, a sister cask (#667) did really please me (WF 90) even if OWH is, I believe, the lowest, meaning the lightest marque at Hampden. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it is like Ardbeg, the lighter ones are pretty heavy. Metal polish, scoria, anchovies, tapenade, pencil lead, tyres, praline, roasted pecan… Perfect profile, rather more coastal than others. Tinned sardines! With water: old fisherman's boat, tarry ropes, hessian, olives, benzine, pencil shavings, eucalyptus wood… Mouth (neat): huge, naturally, and wonderful. Truckloads of salted liquorice plus crushed chilli sardines and just wax. Water may be needed… With water: water adds lemons and olives. Some shoe polish too, teak oil, embrocations… As a matter of fact, we've known some dry martinis that have been a little bit like this. Finish: long, with tiny bits of fruits. Green lemons, green tomatoes. Sure tomatoes are fruits. Sweeter liquorice in the aftertaste, allsorts? Comments: provided you get the amount of water you add right, I find these casks just superb.
SGP:563 - 90 points.

I know we usually try 5 'malternatives' on any Sunday, but I feel like no other rums would manage to step over that Hampden anway.  So, dismiss! 

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

 

May 8, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Dornoch Distillery charity auction
No big tasting this weekend. Instead, just an attempt to draw your attention to some bottles that are  currently being auctioned for a very worthy cause. 10 bottles of Dornoch Distillery single malt have been specially created and are up for bidding over at Whisky Auctioneer in aid of Covid relief programmes in India. It's a very lovely looking set of bottles and a very pressing and necessary cause. You can check it out here.

 

Dornoch Distillery 2017/2021 (58.43%, OB charity auction special for India Covid relief, cask #26a, PX sherry/refill octave, 12 bottles)

Dornoch Distillery 2017/2021 (58.43%, OB charity auction special for India Covid relief, cask #26a, PX sherry/refill octave, 12 bottles)
Matured for 1 year in a PX sherry butt then transferred to a refill octave cask. Colour: orangey gold. Nose: reminiscent of the inaugural bottling in that it is rather bready, rounded and rich with some slightly tense and sharp citrus fruits like tangerine and grapefruit. Indeed, I find this side with bergamots, orange peel, cheng pi and crystallised lemon only intensifies with time. Some white flowers and blossom aromas also emerge, feels like it gathers freshness over time. Also some mint julep and citronella wax. With water: more scented and aromatic and vegetal with hints of asparagus, sandalwood and old workshops. There's also a more honeyed element giving an impression of sweetness and citrus curds. Mouth: lots of dried citrus peels, mirabelle, some lemon marmalade and cupboard spices such as cardamom and cinnamon. Quite peppery and bready once again with some notes of pot pourri and a further impression of citric waxiness. With water: much spicier, more towards rye bread and toasted seeds. The youthful side comes out more with some grassy and grappa-esque notes. There's a nice earthiness too with tobacco leaf, mulch and turmeric. Finish: medium, on wood spices, caraway, green pepper, dried citrus peels and a light medicinal quality. Comments: Very good, although I think I preferred the inaugural bottling by a small margin. Feels like the move to the refill cask was quite smart. Now, who actually gives a stuff about scores and all that when this is for charity, and a very worthy and urgent cause at that. SGP: 551 - 87 (pointless) points.

 

 

 

 

May 7, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions
Number Twenty
Another trip around the whisky world. We'll do many others as more and more 'whiskies of the rest of the world aye' are coming our way, which is just excellently cool. Once again, we'll start this from little France…

Kornog 2007/2020 (57.7%, LMDW, Version Française, France, 243 bottles)

Kornog 2007/2020 (57.7%, LMDW, Version Française, France, 243 bottles) Three stars and a half
So this is peated Glann ar Mor, as you know. Still shuffed that we managed to pull quite some money for Parkinson's UK with our own cask of Kornog, in celebration of Michael Jackson's life. But that was earlier this year… Colour: reddish amber. Nose: Sauternes! After Glenmo who did that rather loosely at first, Kornog's former owner has really pioneered Sauternes in whisky (as well as sister sweet wines, Cadillac, Monbazillac, Cérons et al.) In my humble opinion, these are the only unfortified wines that do always work very well with whisky. So, we have apricot jam, quince jelly, acacia honey, then propolis, pine resin, menthol, teak oil, garden bonfire, a little curry, walnut wine, camphor… Grand slam, would I say, but the championship isn't over. With water: gums, tyres, engine oil, tarmac, caraway and coriander seeds… Boy is this a heavyish nose. But I like it. Mouth (neat): honey, peaches, lanoline and menthol, which may lead to… Rum. The oils from the cask are pretty loud, having said that. Thuja, pine, teak, fir, balsam, loads of natural tar… With water: I'm glad water worked, because in my meagre experience, these profiles could just get totally flat once reduced. A lot of camphor, chlorophyl, tar, cough medicine, curry-like notes from the wood, then dried apricots, raisins and figs. Finish: long and very mentholy and camphory. Also chartreuse and verbena. Oak and pinewood in the aftertaste. Comments: I suppose the cask came from a top château. Which could mean that they had only filled this French-oak barrique once, and sold it on while it was still extremely active. I am speculating but you do feel the oak's essences a lot here. Which I do like for sure, but I'd still file this under the 'rather deviant' category.
SGP:485 - 84 points.
fr

Off to the Netherlands…

Cley 3 yo 'Cask Strength' (52%, OB, The Netherlands, cask #127, 2020)

Cley 3 yo 'Cask Strength' (52%, OB, The Netherlands, cask #127, 2020) Two stars and a half
First time I'm hearing from these fine folks up there in or around Rotterdam. This youngster malt has been finished in toasted virgin American oak quarter casks, so we might expect a few IKEA-y notes here and there, let's see… Oh, just wanted to add, I find the Bauhaus presentation lovely. Colour: gold. Nose: the expected cakes, breads and fresh-sawn woods. This is not disagreeable at all, it's just a little simple this far. Water should help… With water: banana cake with a little cinnamon, pancakes and scones, a hint of tar. Mouth (neat): the distillate isn't big (Holstein or similar?) but the oak did indeed add some texture and some fine notes of lemon curd, cloves and caraway. Sweet curry, turmeric, cinnamon. With water: hey this one swims well! Water adds a few lovely citrusy touches, then we have coffee, fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. The oak is taking over at this point, but this remains 'not an oak-bomb'. Phew. Finish: rather long, all on oak spices and pipe tobacco. Bitterish aftertaste. Comments: pretty encouraging, I would say. Not sure this fine spirit really needs this much oak, having said that.
SGP:451 - 78 points.
nl

Let's move further north…

Stauning Rye 'Batch 02/2020' (48%, OB, Denmark, 2020)

Stauning Rye 'Batch 02/2020' (48%, OB, Denmark, 2020) Four stars
Love rye and rather loved an earlier rye by Stauning, now that was a 2013 bottling (WF 84) so that's water under the bridge. Colour: gold. Nose: I needed all those years to find out that I'm pretty much a rye guy. It's not that this baby's void of any excessive woody aromas, but these breads and pastries just do it in my book. A huge loaf of wholegrain bread, with caraway, fennel seeds, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, pistachios perhaps, and possibly some carrot added to the dough. Love love love these whiffs of orange and elderberry blossom that are rising to your nostrils after a while. Mouth: probably no textbook-whisky, but I find this extremely good. I find this very 'old-Europe', whatever that means, with many herbs and seeds, as if this was made by a skilful old apothecary. Also, these big, obvious notes of peach liqueur are just incredible (given that they've probably not added any peaches to the wash). Superb palate. Finish: are we sure no one's added any peaches? Nectarines perhaps? Comments: whether this is 'whisky', organoleptically speaking, remains to be seen, but I say who cares, it's rather fantastic spirit. Holland, nine points! (nearly)
SGP:751 - 87 points.
dk

Further north…

Mackmyra 5 yo 'Batch 2' (50.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Sweden, +/-2020)

Mackmyra 5 yo 'Batch 2' (50.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, Sweden, +/-2020) Three stars
That Master of Malts would have embraced world whiskies this much is just another sign of the times. We still need to recover from that 'Motörhead' bottling by Mackmyra, having said that… . Colour: white wine. Nose: very young, very fresh, extremely fruity, on syrups and liqueurs. Melons, litchis, cherries, touch of varnish, blood oranges, green apple liqueur (Spanish manzana verde). Oh and pears. With water: green tea and amyl diacetate. Pears, pineapples… Mouth (neat): a 5-kilo pack of Haribo's finest (not all in one go), plus some apple peelings and just cut grass. With water: same, plus a little more breadiness. Some would add 'it was about time' but this little Mackmyra really wakes up the little kid in us. Finish: medium, hyper-fruity. Bags and bags of bonbons, jelly babies, crocodiles, jellybeans, easter eggs, liquorice allsorts, marshmallows… Comments: very funny, but this very extreme fruitiness is a little hard to stand after you've had, say 2cl. Still spectacular.
SGP:840 - 80 points.
sw

And let's swim to London…

Bimber 'Netherland Edition' (59.7%, OB, England, bourbon cask, cask #87, 257 bottles, 2020)

Bimber 'Netherland Edition' (59.7%, OB, England, bourbon cask, cask #87, 257 bottles, 2020) Four stars
Bimber, that's another new urban distillery that rather mystified us when we first tried the first batches. We've got several others that we should try but since we're in a very worldly mood today, let's try this édition hollandaise. Colour: gold. Nose: right. Apricot cake, honeysuckle, cauliflower beignets, mirabelle liqueur. I believe that pretty much sums it up. With water: grated cinnamon, zwetschke tarte. Mouth (neat): it's pretty clear that they have sorcerers at Bimber's. Vanilla, mirabelles, quince, more mirabelles, Turkish delights, more mirabelles, bergamots, more mirabelles, moshis, more mirabelles… I think you caught the idea here, this is m.i.r.a.b.e.l.l.e.  liqueur. So with water: spices from the oak chiming in. Finish: rather long. Spicy lemons and gingery mirabelles. Great chalky and autumny earthiness in the aftertaste. Comments: that was some very mirabelle-y Bimber for sure! Great excellent, well-constructed and very seductive modern young whisky. There was a pleonasm in that sentence, go find it ;-).
SGP:651 - 87 points.
eb
 

May 6, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions
Number Nineteen
Yes we're leaving for another wee virtual trip around the world today! Starting from France, naturally…  

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 'Maximus' (57%, OB, France, 233 bottles, 2020)

Domaine des Hautes Glaces 'Maximus' (57%, OB, France, 233 bottles, 2020) Four stars and a half
Always loved what they do at DHG, even if they do use a lot of wine wood. But with moderation, well at least their distillates are big enough not to let the wines get in the way. Let's see if that's the case again here. This is from the 2013 harvest and it is organic, while it was matured in a Crozes-Hermitage cask. Let's hope it was a white… Colour: straw (not red). Nose: typical 'fat' nose, fresh, with perfect citrus and doughs. Very close to the raw materials, NOT including the wine. Although there would be whiffs of mead… With water: some chalk, damp earth, grist, even fresh plaster, fresh wholegrain bread… All things we like. Mouth (neat): a tad hot and spicy at first, with good sourness and always this citrus. A feeling of fir wood and even thuja, with notes of rye. But there isn't any rye, naturally. With water: impeccable, even if a few grapey tones are popping out here and there. A wee feeling of viognier, perhaps? I may well be dreaming… Finish: medium, refreshing and yet still fat, not unlike a full-bodied… err, white Crozes. Hints of aniseed and dill in the aftertaste. Grapefruits are back too. Comments: we were expecting something very good indeed. Graillot?
SGP:451 - 88 points.
f

I would like to fly to Israel now…

Milk & Honey 'Classic' (46%, OB, Israel, +/-2020)

Milk & Honey 'Classic' (46%, OB, Israel, +/-2020) Four stars
I've tried several M&H, some pretty pretty good, but if I remember well I've always said I liked the regular 'Classic' best. Until I realised that I had never published any proper tasting notes for that one. It was time… Colour: light gold. Nose: I would never believe this stems from a hot country, as it is really fresh and light, very pleasantly so, with even a few coastal notes, beyond the wee touches of coconut and caraway. There's also a very lovely light earthiness, and perhaps even a little gentian. Do they grow gentian in Israel? Doubt it… Mouth: good punch, with an arrival on dried pineapple and coconut that are absolutely not out of place here, then some gingerbread, cassata, panettone, marmalade and just 'good barley'. All that works in perfect sync. Finish: medium, on pretty much the same lovely notes. Comments: beyond some funny other 'experimentations', some very successful should I add, I think they nailed it with this Classic. Or am I being too 'classic' myself?
SGP:551 - 86 points.
il

Why not Africa?

Three Ships 12 yo 2007/2020 (46.3%, OB, South Africa, American oak)

Three Ships 12 yo 2007/2020 (46.3%, OB, South Africa, American oak) Four stars and a half
This single malt from James Sedgwick's. We've had an excellent 7 yo for Whisky Brothers just one year ago. This 12 stems from their 'Master Distiller's Private Collection' but guess what, just like all whisky distillers all around the world, they keep parting with those reserves. How very generous from them! Colour: white wine. Nose: this is unusual, rather medicinal at first nosings, with some iodine, gauze, some clay, sea breeze, and a global style that would rather remind us of the distillery on the south shore of Islay that does start with La and does not end with Lin. Quite some menthol and eucalyptus too, as well as camphor. Very clearly medicinal. Oh, and peaty. Mouth: but how do they do this? Very good, medicinal, with even that citrus that would be found in the output of 'that distillery' circa the year 2000. Even passion fruits and guavas, roots, and perhaps a few drops of, wait, cachaça? Was some kind of resinous wood in use? Let's not speculate, I just find it very good. Finish: medium, very fresh, with perfect balance between tropical fruits, cough medicine, and just 'peat'. Comments: full globalisation in action in malt whisky. Excuse me? What terroir?
SGP:655 - 88 points.
sa

How about Finland?

Teerenpeli 'Kulo' (50.7%, OB, Finland, +/-2019)

Teerenpeli 'Kulo' (50.7%, OB, Finland, +/-2019) Four stars
This baby's been matured in sherry. I haven't tried Teerenpeli since the year 2016. In French, Kulo is pronounced 'culot', which means 'nerve'. Let's see if this baby has a nerve! Colour: dark gold. Nose: it is a modern bready malt, with many breads and cakes, including gingerbread and drops of honeyed beer. I've tried that the other day but forgot the name (I feel shame). It was good. Some raisins too, I suppose there is some proper PX and/or moscatel in there. No complains this far. With water: some lovely whiffs of wood essences and teak oil. Spent lees too. All that works a treat. Mouth (neat): rich and sweet, with the sweeter part of the sherry upfront. Really a lot of raisins, but no off-notes, no unwanted leafy marks either. I'm reminded of my favourite honey, chestnut. Or white clover. Honey cake and Cointreau taking over and still no off-note. With water: careful with water. Not sure it needs any on the palate. Well, it does not. Finish: medium, sweet and pretty complex. Fresh oranges with mint leaves, olive oil and honey, a magical combo if you get the proportions right. Complains on a postcard. Comments: I had been told this was going to be very good too. Not by Finns!
SGP:641 - 86 points.
fin

To England?

Cotswolds 'Small Batch 20 rue d'Anjou' (60.8%, OB for LMDW, England, 480 bottles, 2020)

Cotswolds 'Small Batch 20 rue d'Anjou' (60.8%, OB for LMDW, England, 480 bottles, 2020) Four stars
This is a blend of four casks, bourbon, PX, oloroso and virgin. It's young, obviously, but LMDW have now become a good old house (what do you mean?) This time again, I've heard good things about this baby… Colour: gold. Nose: naturlich, things have been done well. Many breads, including fruit breads, really a lot of banana-y flavours, candyfloss, marshmallows, all that without an ounce of vulgarity. Plus big notes of honeysuckle and elderberry syrup. Extremely seductive, aromatic, yet not too extravagant. With water: totally new-generation-good. Jelly babies, cakes, breads, very soft spices, faint fermentary notes. Mouth (neat): wow. I cannot not think of some Chichibus. Thick and creamy fruitiness with some orange blossom water and various crystallised citrus. A whole family pack of artisanal fruit jellies, really. Never give me a pack, I'd wolf them all down before Chopin's minute waltz is over. With water: I'd say quinces, greengages, and apricots. Talking about those fruit jellies. Finish: medium, very fruity. Some leafier wood appearing in the aftertaste, as if it was saying 'I was there too!' Comments: modern-school whisky, rather perfectly made. Hope they keep some casks for 2035.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

So, grouped fire, as expected. That was the whole idea in the first place, having said that.

 

May 5, 2021


Whiskyfun

Three unusual Bunnahabhain

I know that's not much, but we've had a lot lately and what's more, these won't just be 'any' Bunnahabhains. Or, as we sometimes call them amongst supposedly enlightened whisky-chatteratti, 'Bunnies'.

Bunnahabhain 17 yo 2002/2020 (55.1%, Bon Accord, for Tung & Read, cask #3187)

Bunnahabhain 17 yo 2002/2020 (55.1%, Bon Accord, for Tung & Read, cask #3187) Four stars
I don't think this is the Bon Accord in Glasgow. This is, in truth, an intriguing bottle by Epicurean Selection, a bottler in Philadelphia, USA. Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts with rather a lot of 'good' sulphur, which, in my book, translates into big fat Cuban cigars and truffle cappuccino. Sounds nicer, does it not? Would then rather gear towards regular cappuccino and glazed chestnuts, as well as bouillon, dried porcini or Caesar's mushrooms. Unusual and intriguing so far. With water: mushrooms ruling the show, including morels and truffles. Also cured ham and more tobacco, leather, ground turmeric, ginseng powder… Mouth (neat): bites you a wee bit, with loads of bitters, dried mushrooms again, leather, and this feeling of sucking your cigar while you reach its end (as I remember that). Includes ashes. Very tight, almost paprika-y at times. With water: cold broth full of ham, chives, parsley, mushrooms, coffee… Finish: long, still tight and ultra-dry, with some bitter chocolate and even more salty bouillon. Comments: fun stuff. Some friends wouldn't kill for this style, but in this very case, as far as I'm concerned and since I love mushrooms, I think it worked. Forgot to mention green walnuts.
SGP:272 - 85 points.

Bunnahabhain 30 yo (48.5%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Feis Ile 2019, 560 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 30 yo (48.5%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Feis Ile 2019, 560 bottles) Five stars
I've tried 2020's 30 yo Bunny Kinship a few weeks ago and was just floored (WF 91). So it's going to be a little tougher for this earlier version, I suppose. Colour: white wine. Nose: nothing beats an old malt that's been matured with moderation in some elegant wood. So, in high-class refill. Indeed this is just another higher-echelon Pouilly-Fumé made whisky, what we could even call a 'pur sang'. Stunning lemons and grapefruits, angelica, coriander leaves, dill, seawater, kelp, chalk and flints, then perhaps not-too-ripe mangos and just the tiniest signs of grated coconut, and fresh marzipan. All elegance. Mouth: oh very good. You could say proper old refill HP. Some smoke and some resinous and almondy herbs, the better side of glue-y flavours, more marzipan, something reminiscent of fresh putty, or orgeat syrup, pistachio syrup (just had some right this morning, I'm serious), pear cake, and really a salty peatiness. I'd swear you feel time, not wood. Finish: not too long but sublimely almondy, with this salty and frankly coastal background. Touches of peat and lime in the aftertaste. Comments: love these ones. Now I've been hesitating between 90 and 91 until iTunes started to play that old tune by The Soft Machine. So…
SGP:564 - 91 points.
PS the tune was their hit 'Memories'.

Bunnahabhain 40 yo (51.6%, Masam, cask #7229, 520 bottles, 2019)

Bunnahabhain 40 yo (51.6%, Masam, cask #7229, 520 bottles, 2019) Four stars
Some of Silvano Samaroli's own stock, bottled by his wife Maryse, after the maestro's very sad passing back in 2017. Let's keep in mind that these batches, whichever the bottlers – I suppose it's a 1978 – have sometimes been a little sketchy. The whisky loch, remember… Colour: white wine. Nose: certainly not the easiest batches indeed, with a lot of carboard, paraffin, even plastics, then damp flours, acidic dough, and just today's edition of the WSJ. That's right, paper and ink. All hopes are on my dear, faithful Vittel. That's water… With water: got to love Vittel, since H2O literally transforms this old Bunnahabhain. Perfect citrusy and herbal notes, with various vegetal oils singing in unison in the back. The choir, you know. Almost a christic transfiguration (hold your horses, S.) Gets perfect after you've let it breathe for a few more minutes, getting rather wonderfully medicinal. Mouth (neat): ah, wait, no quibbles here, despite these wee touches of varnish and paraffin. Nice limes and lemons, kiwi juice, a little riesling, then mint tea and a little olive oil. And green bananas. Unusually green given that it is 40 years old. What's sure is that this palate's much, much, and I mean much nicer than the nose when water was not added yet. With water: careful, do not add too much, it would become a little too green and rather drying and cardboardy. Well don't add any. Finish: medium, rather on green tea. Comments: I would say this one is to be had with water on your nose, and naked on your palate. I know, I know… Very good score for these vintages.
SGP:361 - 87 points.

Why unusual, you may ask? Well the Bon Accord was deeply on 'good sulphur', the fantastic Kinship was much smokier than other old Bunnahabhains, while the Masam was, well, pretty complicated.

(Thanks KC!)

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

 

May 3, 2021


Whiskyfun

Young Caol Ila, rather a marathon

Indeed it is Young Caol Ila Day at Château Whiskyfun. Excuse me? And why not? It's also true that those days when we were wondering whether a 'new' Caol Ila was distilled before or after the rebuilding of the Distillery are long gone…

Caol Ila 8 yo 2012/2020 (58.5%, The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill sherry butt finish, cask #TWB1014, 699 bottles)

Caol Ila 8 yo 2012/2020 (58.5%, The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill sherry butt finish, cask #TWB1014, 699 bottles) Four stars
This one is about Apollo 11. Shall we expect some notes of rocket fuel? Colour: caramel/mahogany. Nose: it's pretty interesting that the spirit would have survived the heavy cask treatment, indeed, there is a little lemon, seawater, oysters and those softer ashes that are so 'CI'. Now the sherry's pretty gamey, with some cured ham, leather, balsamico, and what we sometimes call 'civet' in the wine world. With water: a whole beef bouillon, with notes of teriyaki, coriander, chocolate sauce, then tar and new rubber (tyres). More and more tar.  Mouth (neat): extremely syrupy, extremely bittersweet, leathery and earthy, with some dry chocolate, more gamey flavours, tarry liquorice Dutch-style… With water: water works extremely well on the one, bringing out many small herbs and spices, loads of pipe tobacco, more liquorice, more tar… But also this inherent lightness, which comes a surprise. At +/-40%, it becomes pretty refreshing. Finish: long, on some kind of salty chocolate and liquorice combo that works well. Comments: excellently boisterous young CI. Maybe not the ideal #1 in a line-up but there, it's the youngest we had.
SGP:476 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2011/2020 (56.7%, Clan Denny for Or Sileis, hogshead, cask #DL14148, 306 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2011/2020 (56.7%, Clan Denny for Or Sileis, hogshead, cask #DL14148, 306 bottles) Three stars and a half
Clan Denny is one of Douglas Laing's sub-brands. Some kind of old kung-fu master on the label (isn't that Fred Laing?) Colour: pale white wine. Probably the opposite of the WB. Nose: a tad raw and spirity at first, that's probably the youth and the well-behaved cask, with a little kirschwasser perhaps, but all the ashes, kelp, oysters and just, well, ashes are well there. With water: raw wool, another staple. More ashes too. Mouth (neat): almost aggressive at first, powerful, bitter, with some sugar too, and something really reminiscent of their newmake. These infants usually wok best at around 46% vol. in my modest experience. So… With water: yes indeed, some pears and melons come out, it got a little gentler (if still a tad newmakey), with another regular flavour in young CI, bitter almonds. Finish: long, saltier. Tonic water and seawater. Comments: very good young, yet-unpolished Caol Ila. A little challenging, I would add.
SGP:466 - 84 points.

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2020 (57.4%, Clan Denny for Or Sileis, 'The Devil and the Black Cat')

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2020 (57.4%, Clan Denny for Or Sileis, 'The Devil and the Black Cat') Four stars
Another one for Taiwan that seems to be featuring Fred Laing on the label. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this one seems to be much easier, more mature as well, and full of lemons and grapefruits, as well as aniseed, chenin blanc, dill, ashes, oysters… Love this style. With water: perfect coastal freshness, seashells, lemons, seaweed, all that. Mouth (neat): crystal-clean lemonness plus the most coastal peat. Lovely freshness all around. With water: a perfectly chiselled blade. Green pepper, lemons, more ashes, smoke, oysters… Plus just one drop of lemon syrup. Or, say limoncello. Finish: long, very good, slightly medicinal. Comments: you can't quite defeat these ones. All freshness, all pleasures…
SGP:456 - 87 points.

Shan't we try another sherried one?

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2020 (59.5%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butt, cask #316643, 599 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2020 (59.5%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butt, cask #316643, 599 bottles) Four stars and a half
From the very famous 'Cask Strength Collection'. Colour: rich amber. Nose: the elegant glories of refill. Wonderful crystallised oranges, pine smoke, camphor, green walnuts, cough medicine… Awesome nose this far, while I'm sure it'll swim very well. Let's make sure about that… With water: wonderful old dried kelp on a beach, raw wool, and perhaps tiny whiffs of tiny wet dog after a walk on the beach. We are sorry, dogs. Mouth (neat): perfect. Tense yet wide and rich, with a lot of tobacco and marmalade, cracked pepper, chestnuts, petrol, smoked meats, lemon… No complains whatsoever this far. With water: and presto, a development on tobacco, leathers, dried spices (turmeric, paprika) and marmalade. Finish: long, more peppery and leathery. Loses one point here, there. Comments: seriously, lovely young yet mature Caol Ila from a very good cask. It's hard to do better at ten, I would add.
SGP:466 - 88 points.

We've got quite a bag of 2010s…

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2021 (57.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, APAC exclusive, hogshead, cask #319920, 317 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2021 (57.9%, The Single Malts of Scotland, APAC exclusive, hogshead, cask #319920, 317 bottles) Four stars
Not too sure what that APAC is but I'm sure it gathers some very fine ladies and gentlemen. Colour: white wine. Nose: crystal-clean young-yet-mature CI in the style of that second Or Sileis. That is to say very clean, fresh, coastal, oystery (!) and lemony, with a rougher medicinal touch (mercurochrome). With water: there, raw wool and beach sand. You cannot be against that. Mouth (neat): excellent, creamier, fruitier, with this feeling of smoky limoncello that would just always work. No further literature needed (literature?) With water: and there, salt, brine, oysters, green peppercorns, turmeric, bitter zests. Finish: long, very pleasantly bitter. Comments: I would say you need a great sherry cask to fetch a very high score at such a low-tennish (reminds me of an old joke involving Sean Connery) age, but this sure is the nearest best thing. Forgot to mention bitter almonds yet again.
SGP:556 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2021 (53.5%, Morisco Spirits, bourbon hogshead)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2021 (53.5%, Morisco Spirits, bourbon hogshead) Four stars
New Italian bottlers, lovely Masai-style labels, good will, no complains at this end. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: obviously similar. I seem to remember we spent quite some time on Islay back in 2010, so we might have had something to do with this highest quality (yeah yeah, S., but of course). Wools, seaweed, damp ashes, camphor, drops of paint thinner, oysters, lemons… Actually, this one might well sit at the top of its cluster (named CI 10 2010). With water: more wool! Young CI always pushes out notes of raw wool once you've added water. Like, raw tweet from the Islay Woollen Mill and all that. Mouth (neat): excellent. Big lemon, seawater, Sancerre, chalk, medicine, oysters… All is perfect here. I'm even reminded of the best white Pessacs, if that rings a bell to you. With water: excellent. Chalk, grape pips, lemons, our good friends the whelks, lemongrass… Finish: rather long, excellent, fresh, lemony, coastal, smoky, ashy… Comments: looks like someone's done some smart reduction on this one. That's a fine art and it's been done properly here, I think.
SGP:556 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2020 (57.1%, Signatory Vintage for WhiskySponge, 1st fill hogshead, 183 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2020 (57.1%, WhiskySponge, 1st fill hogshead, 183 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: oh this one's rounder, perhaps better polished, with notes of young branches and cut flowers, then wee fruit crocodiles and jelly babies, marshmallows, frankly I would have said young Ardmore. Let's dig deeper… With water: cassis! Or some one-year-old great red Bourgogne straight from the casks, really. Very pinot-noiry, I'm sure that's just an unwanted, and yet superb combination of molecules that should have never met.  True serendipity. Mouth (neat): it's a very fruity Caol Ila for sure. Less peat smoke, more bubblegum and Haribo stuff. This is very intriguing and 'deviant', not that there's anything wrong with that. White currant jam. With water: back to smoke and oysters. Finish: extremely good. But no more Chambertin, sob, sob… Comments: this slightly loco baby loves and needs good water. It is a perfect tasting partner but it'll need a large chunk of your time. Bah, there's nothing on TV anyway. Post-scriptum: only Caol Ila can get this complex after just ten years. What? Ah, yes, nine years.
SGP:656 - 88 points.

Enough 2010, let's go down the scale for a wee while…

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2021(54.3%, Single Cask Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #321885, 276 bottles)

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2021(54.3%, Single Cask Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #321885, 276 bottles) Four stars
This by some splendid Austrian bottlers. It is sometimes said that Alsatians are Austrians who never made it to Paris. Which reeks of truth and common sense, obviously. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is a rather acetic young Caol Ila, while 'acetic' is a compliment in this kind of context. Creamy white balsamico and whatnot. Mud, wool, kelp, also custard and white chocolate. We're intrigued… With water: there, that old tweed jacket that's seen many moons and showers. I mean, proper Harris tweed from when that was still meaning something, not ex-Portugal. And boy do I utterly love Portugal! Mouth (neat): as if someone had tried to mature a blend of seawater, green pepper, ashes and lemon juice in a wooden vat. The end result is awesome. With water: careful, do not drown this one. Notes of bananas, that wasn't expected. Finish: long, relatively sweet and 'coated'. We used to call this 'sweet peat' when we were still innocents. Comments: I'd love to drive back to Vienna, or Salzburg, or Graz, or Linz…
SGP:656 - 86 points.

Perhaps another 2007 from the Eastern countries…

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2020 (54.5%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 149 bottles)

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2020 (54.5%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 149 bottles) Four stars
A fantastic label here, Maltbarn's Martin has always given greatest care to the fully original photographs he's been using for his labels, some by his very self. Easily in the Top 10%, together with some Japanese friends. The whiskies aren't half bad either… Colour: white wine. Nose: it is a rather medicinal one, pretty much on eucalyptus-based embrocations and fresh mint. Which means this is no peat monster. Right. With water: mud, plaster, new plastic (pretty much an extinct breed) and homemade yoghurt. A rather bready young CI, that's great. Mouth (neat): excellent! Manzanilla, sea water and bone-dry Mosel riesling blended away together. You may add a tiny drop of pastis. With water: back to peaty, bready ad yeasty flavours. Finish: medium. Comments: very, very good. Perhaps just a little less 'obvious' than others?
SGP:456 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 2005/2021 (57.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice for The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry hogshead, cask #301507, 266 bottles)

Caol Ila 2005/2021 (57.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice for The Whisky Exchange, refill sherry hogshead, cask #301507, 266 bottles) Five stars
Have you heard anything from G&M's lately? Me neither, they might be in a state of hibernation… But lots of hugs towards Elgin! Colour: gold. Nose: but naturally, yet another dimension. Granny smith, manzanilla, vin jaune, fresh walnuts, tincture of iodine, gauze, tiger balm, green clay… Oh wow! With water: high-end old pu-her tea, proper wild trees and all that. Mouth (neat): starts like a Jamaican rum, gets then extremely grassy and peppery, with huge iodine and leathery embrocations. Looks like some very active re-racking has occurred, but not too sure… With water: citrons and mint leaves. Finish: very long, grassy, herbal. Artichokes, tobacco, mint, myrtle, grapefruits… And the expected saltier aftertaste. Comments: let's be honest, this is a superb, top-notch higher-echelon panache-y Caol Ila. But G&M? Hello Elgin?
SGP:466 - 90 points.

It's probably time to call this a tasting session, but a (marginally) older CI would make for a perfect nightcap I suppose…

Caol Ila 16 yo 1998/2015 (46%, High Spirits, Life is a Circus)

Caol Ila 16 yo 1998/2015 (46%, High Spirits, Life is a Circus) Three stars and a half
We agree on the fact that life is a circus, dear Nadi. We also confirm that 46% is a perfect strength, even if 50% isn't too bad either. Colour: white wine. Nose: a relatively light, very coastal arrival, rather on green apples, lemons, plaster and sourer wine and beer. There, cider. And oysters, seashells, clams, winkles and langoustines. No less! ; if you please… Mouth: the older style, a tad more on spicy butters, Indian food, peppers, paprika… Very good, absolutely, but it is perhaps not high-definition Caol Ila. There were many such 'buttery' CIs in the 1970s and 1980s. Finish: long, good. Sour cream, overripe fruits and herbal liqueurs. Comments: complex whisky, probably not for a pretty simple mind such as this very one.
SGP:565 - 83 points.

(Thank you KC)

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

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

April 2021

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Talisker 43 yo 'Xpedition Oak' (49.7%, OB, American oak hogshead, 1830 bottles, 2021) - WF93

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Eastern Highland Malt 1975/1988 (50%, Duthie for Samaroli, 20th Anniversary, Fragments of Scotland, 648 bottles) - WF94

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Scarabus 'Batch Strength' (57%, Hunter Laing, Islay, 2020)  - WF89

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Prunier 1967/2021 (52.8%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, grande Champagne, 276 bottles)  - WF91

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Glen Garioch 'Virgin Oak No. 2' (48%, OB, +/-2019)  - WF72
 

May 1, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Six Laphroaig?
We've got a bundle of new and recent Laphroaig and 'undisclosed Islay' whiskies to try. Let us, without further ado, 'have at'. And we'll commence with a theoretically light aperitif…

 

Laphroaig 14 yo 2006/2020 'Fairy Tales' (40.5%, Club Qing 'The Little Mermaid, bourbon barrel, 120 bottles)

Laphroaig 14 yo 2006/2020 'Fairy Tales' (40.5%, Club Qing 'The Little Mermaid, bourbon barrel, 120 bottles)
Curious about the low ABV on this one. But then, when you are 'under the sea', there tends to be a lot of water about the place. Colour: straw. Nose: reminds me of some of the best old official 10 year olds from the 1990s. Pure, clean, fresh and gently fruity Laphroaig with these notes of bandages, iodine, wet rocks, seashore, grapefruit and a few other crystallised fruits. Extremely inviting and charming. Some medical notes of bandages too - very classical style. Mouth: you feel the softness, but there's an earthy and rustic peat note, more iodine, black pepper, seaweed crackers and miso. Nicely savour and salty, if a little soft. Finish: medium, rather medicinal, lightly sooty, peaty and peppery. Still coastal and fresh. Comments: there's a simplicity and a purity of character here that I find very reminiscent of the older official bottlings composed of 80s distillate. Clever and very good selection.
SGP: 556 - 88 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 10 yo 'Sherry Oak Finish' (48%, OB, 2021) 

Laphroaig 10 yo 'Sherry Oak Finish' (48%, OB, 2021) 
This one seems to have arrived somewhat under the radar, but I must confess to being more than a little excited. Colour: coppery amber. Nose: it's true that modern sherry and peat can be a tricky thing to get right but I think this is smart. Oily phenolics, natural tar, syrupy sweet peat smoke, black pepper, game meats, Maggi seasoning, umami paste - even a little camphor and iodine. It feels well integrated and concentrated so far. Mouth: there's a little nibble of spicy oak, but then cigars, game meats, BBQ smoke, wood embers and lots of charred and spiced meaty notes. Globally though it remains clean with a firm and peppery peat flavour. The ABV is pretty spot on in terms of mouthfeel I think. Big, boisterous modern stuff, but very good. Finish: good length, on dry earthiness, black pepper, more charred and smoked meats, tar and chunky phenolics. Comments: We're a far cry from the sherried Laphroaigs of old, but this is quite a smart drop and I think the balance has been well struck. The price is also fair as well I think. Quaffing juice for the ferry to Islay, beachside bonfires, highballs etc… Now, can we please have the standard 10yo at this strength?
SGP: 466 - 86 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 15 yo 2005/2020 'Lp11' (52.2%, Elixir Distillers 'Elements of Islay', bourbon barrels, 496 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 2005/2020 'Lp11' (52.2%, Elixir Distillers 'Elements of Islay', bourbon barrels, 496 bottles)
I know not all the above info is on the label, but it's on the website, so why not… Colour: white wine. Nose: a gentle and wonderfully subtle and aromatic example. Lots of sandalwood, wet rope, hessian, beach foam, pebbles, chalk and more gentle medical notes such as bandages, gauze and ointments. Lightly herbal too with muddled green herbs. Still very much 'Laphroaig' but very elegantly so. I love this nose. With water: carbolic, smoked cereals, plaster board, wet linens, white flowers and dusty smoky malt bins with a light fug of kiln air. Mouth: clean, salty and sharp. On seawater mixed with lemon juice, TCP, light iodine, pickling juices and hessian. Rather more simple than the nose was suggesting but the purity is lovely. With water: deeper, smokier and sootier. More classical plain peat smoke, seawater, smoked sea salt, some cooking oils. Very good. Finish: long, bone dry, ashy peat, sooty, herbal and with more ointments and a heavier medicinal side now. Comments: really very good, not sure everything matched the initial nose, but globally there's loads to enjoy here. Quite a dry one overall.
SGP: 356 - 87 points.

 

 

Grace Ile 25 Year Old (48%, The Character Of Islay Whisky Company, bottled 2020)

Grace Ile 25 Year Old (48%, The Character Of Islay Whisky Company, bottled 2020)
The label for this one mentions 'hook-nosed sea pigs' - not sure if that's a tasting note or not. Colour: straw. Nose: it does indeed nose a little like a Laphroaig. All these wet rocks, lemon peels, hints of metal and shoe polishes, iodine, medical tinctures and a sense of peppery peat. Mind you, there's also a tarry rope vibe that I'd have said was more Ardbeggian. Probably more of these ex-Allied blending stocks which we will likely never know the true origin/story behind. Mouth: lovely! Soft citrus fruits with gentle medicines, oily peat smoke, seawater, grapefruit, dried herbs and sandalwood. Elegant, simple and superbly fresh, mature and easy. Finish: long, lemony, citric, perfectly saline, coastal, fresh and with a nicely tangy peat in the aftertaste. Comments: extremely pleasurable, perfectly mature 'Islay' malt.
SGP: 456 - 89 points.  

 

 

Laphroaig 24 yo 1996/2020 (51.8%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', bourbon barrel, 217 bottles)

Laphroaig 24 yo 1996/2020 (51.8%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', bourbon barrel, 217 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: these vintages are becoming totally gorgeous now. Silky soft peat smoke with wee pin holes of exotic fruits peeping through. Camphor, seawater, grapefruit, smoked olive oil, touches of mango, hessian and heather flower. A really beautiful nose. With water: some kind of peated pina colada! Pineapple, coconut, mango, gorse flower, kiln air, natural tar and a stray kumquat. Mouth: yes! Superb concentration, this syrupy effect that time has on peat and fruit flavours, simultaneously elevating and concentrating both. Sandalwood, dried coastal flowers, hessian, myrtle, dried herbs, olive oil, more camphor notes, smoked teas and crystallised exotic fruits. With water: smokier, peatier, more peppery, more leathery and oily textures, more camphor, putty, preserved lemons and exotic fruit teas. Finish: long, heathery, tarry, peppery, herbal and peaty with some resinous, slightly bitter fruits. Comments: Pristine, totally super old 90s Laphroaig captured at a perfect age. I adore this kind of concentrated profile.
SGP: 566 - 91 points.

 

 

Islay Single Malt 30 yo 1990/2021 (48.8%, Thompson Brothers, refill barrel, 273 bottles)

Islay Single Malt 30 yo 1990/2021 (48.8%, Thompson Brothers, refill barrel, 273 bottles)
Another 'mystery Islay'. Colour: straw. Nose: coal smoke, kiln air, coastal freshness, wet rocks, linens, canvass, white flowers, chalk, lemony brine and this overarching, wonderfully ethereal smokiness. Simple in its directness and open-ness, but also extremely pleasurable, 'obvious' and satisfying. Mouth: big, deep, lustrous smokiness. Bags of coal smoke, kiln air, natural tar, green pepper, capers in brine, waxy lemon peel and smoked mineral oils. It really feels like Laphroaig of this vintage just with a dialled back fruitiness. In place there's myriad smoky, seawater and coal ember notes going on. The peat is rawer, plainer and more organic too as a result. Finish: long, oily, lightly tarry, peppery, warming with a kind of glowing peat in the aftertaste. Also some citrus fruits at the end too. Comments: Unlike other 'Islay malt' stocks I've tried, this one leaves little doubt as to origin. It's also totally brilliant juice.
SGP: 466 - 90 points.

 

 

 

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

 

April 30, 2021


Whiskyfun

Arranzilla, part two!

They've been good the day before yesterday…

Arran 10 yo (46%, OB, 2019)

Arran 10 yo (46%, OB, 2019) Three stars and a half
I think I remember the first Isle of Arran 10 years old as if it was yesterday. I think it was in 2005 or 2006. I also think they've upped their game since those epic times. Colour: light gold. Nose: this one's clearly on citrus, going from straight lemon to more elaborate bergamots, mandarin and kumquats. Behind that lemony barrage, more soft breads, brioche, light beers and just barley. Some Diageo-era expressions of Bladnoch spring to mind. I mean, before it was Diageo. Mouth: things have been reversed, bread and pastries first, then citrus, then overripe apples and pear cake. That's all very pleasant, if a wee tad simplistic – but not in a bad way at all. Touches of green peppercorns then, perhaps, as well as the tiniest metallic note. Pant button, when we were kids. Finish: medium, relatively soft, leaving your mouth as clean as a baby's. Earl grey. Comments: this goes down extremely well, it's no hassle and gets swallowed just as easy as the Nicomachean ethics. Right.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Lochranza 1996/2018 (50.2%, Private, Nigel & Lynn Arnold, cask #1511)

Lochranza 1996/2018 (50.2%, Private, Nigel & Lynn Arnold, cask #1511) Four stars and a half
Lochranza is Arran. Colour: deep gold. Nose: absolutely lovely, more 'island style', with some mirabelle jam and a little metal polish, touches of tar and liquorice, a drop of ocean water, rocks, earth, tyres… Makes me think of that distillery further south on the other side of the Kilbrannan Sound. Indeed, starts with an S. With water: just more of all that, emphasising on tar. Which may not be very Arran. Mouth: very empyreumatic, smoky, tarry, with some meaty sherry and more shoe polish than in some North-Korean barracks on the eve of Kim Jong Un's birthday (how very silly again, S.) With water: excellent tarry sherriness, with perfect tangerines too. Dried tangerines. Finish: long, on more metal polish and tar, walnuts, peat… Comments: this one's pretty mysterious and, actually, rather Longrowy. Excellent. Oh and I don't remember they were doing peat at Arran, back in 1996.
SGP:563 - 88 points.

Arran 1999 (50.6%, OB, Small Batch, +/-2019)

Arran 1999 (50.6%, OB, Small Batch, +/-2019) Three stars and a half
Colour: amber. Nose: first feels like Sauternes on the nose, with apricots, quinces, mirabelles, honey… more custard pie then, Danishes, orange blossom water, some vanilla fudge and butterscotch… This one too I find very lovely. A malt that's pretty creamy on the nose. With water: closer to the barley, the earth, the grist and even the yeast. Mouth (neat): super good, with more sherry – or a feeling of sherry, with some leather, with some ginger, with some cinnamon, in short with some more present spicy oak. But no problems this far. With water: gets a tad drying now, perhaps. Chalky as far as texture is concerned. Finish: medium, with a little eucalyptus this time, and always this chalky, gritty texture. Comments: I was more fan of the nose. Another very good Arran nonetheless, in my opinion.
SGP:551 – 83 points.

Arran 13 yo 2005/2019 (50.3%, Whic, Nymphs of Whisky, Madeira finish, cask #18, 363 bottles)

Arran 13 yo 2005/2019 (50.3%, Whic, Nymphs of Whisky, Madeira finish, cask #18, 363 bottles) Two stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: some bready, almost sour notes here, with even something slightly acetic – from the Madeira, I suppose. A feeling of dry white wine, which is absolutely not unpleasant, struck matches too… Let's see what water will do to it. With water: leather, dried porcinis, mustard sauce. All right then. Mouth (neat): well the Madeira's pretty loud indeed. Oak, vinegar, mustard, bone-dry white wine and pepper, with Arran's trademark creaminess struggling a wee bit to come to the surface. Some saltiness. With water: same-ish. Finish: same, with oranges that save it in the end. Comments: perhaps not my favourite amongst the Whic's otherwise excellent range. Still loyal.
SGP:461 - 78 points.

Arran 19 yo 1996/2015 (51.1%, Le Gus't, puncheon, cask #1634, 365 bottles)

Arran 19 yo 1996/2015 (51.1%, Le Gus't, puncheon, cask #1634, 365 bottles) Four stars
Indeed I still had this wee French bottling in the queue. I have a good felling since these good people do really fly to Scotland to select their casks and are not content with perusing large Excel files. Now that was before Covid, right. Colour: white wine. Nose: very clean, very much on clay and barley, citrons, sunflower oil, pilsner, custard, with the tiniest drop of white tequila and another one of pot-still rum. Very elegant drop on the nose. With water: perfect yeastiness, with something, hold on, Trappist? Mouth (neat): oh perfect, very fermentary and chalky (as far taste is concerned), with some grapefruit and just a touch of vanilla. One of those Sancerre-y malts, as I sometimes call them. With water: smoothened up and yet firm and vertical. Absolutely excellent. Finish: green apples and yellow pears (other the other way 'round), plus chalk and dough. A tiny pinchlet of salt in the aftertaste. Comments: I doubt the word pinchlet exists in English, but the whisky's pretty great, if a little austere.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Since we're doing 1996s…

Arran 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.9%, Dornoch Castle)

Arran 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.9%, Dornoch Castle) Four stars and a half
Good feelings once again. Colour: gold. Nose: whiffs of gunpowder that do vanish quickly, then a very similar development as that of the Le Gus't. Chalk, beer, dough and stuff (S., remember, alliterations, especially unwanted ones, do kill). With water: barley, earth and yeast. Mouth (neat): extremely good and well in the same ballpark once again. Perhaps tenser and thicker. With water: some flamboyant mentholy citrus pushed it further towards the 90-line. A fino-y side, even. Finish: same. Ale. Comments: short note, great whisky. We're approaching perfection but I'm afraid it was a very small outturn. And a lovely label at that.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Arran 1999/2012 (56.5%, OB for Vinotek Massen, Luxemburg, bourbon, cask #85, 204 bottles)

Arran 1999/2012 (56.5%, OB for Vinotek Massen, Luxemburg, bourbon, cask #85, 204 bottles) Three stars and a half
Well, this is almost archaeology, even if Arran remains a 'new' distillery in my book. What 'silly boomers', I can hear you! Colour: light gold. Nose: barley and vanilla, maize bread, hay, and good beer. With water: yeasty bread. Nice. Mouth: good sweet apple juice, nougat, barley, touch of malt extract. Rather rougher than the others but this is both younger and done before the inception of 'total wood technology domination'. With water: no, it is creamier and sweeter. Barley water, triple sec, maple syrup, vanilla fudge. Finish: same with some herbal touches. Comments: it was very good 'already', back in 2012. For the sake of research.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

More archaeology…

Arran 1995/2019 (51%, OB, The 1995 Collection, Asia, hogshead, cask #360, 300 bottles)

Arran 1995/2019 (51%, OB, The 1995 Collection, Asia, hogshead, cask #360, 300 bottles) Two stars
Some fancy 'flat decanter' bottling, apparently. Not sure they really went noticed. Picture is that of another cask. Colour: deep gold. Nose: so a very early distillate, and still some roughness here and there, despite the many years. Roasted peanuts, molasses, malt, butterscotch, drops of soy sauce, balsamico, tobacco… Well if that's a hogshead, it's a sherry hogshead. With water: ale and fig chutney, perhaps. Old white wine. Mouth (neat): very creamy, on malt and kirsch, with a discrete soapy side, cologne, chocolate, cinnamon rolls… Well, there is some kind of imprecision to this one, but remember Arran only started burning in 1995 indeed. I remember very vividly the first drops we could try, we were all thinking, 'but why aren't they going for peated?' Another era… With water: these touches of soap do not quite belong here. Finish: medium, with a little cardboard and chestnut purée. Comments: perhaps more a prototype cask? In any case, it's just impressive that they would have improved and perfected their outputs this much. Anecdotal bottle.
SGP:461 - 75 points.

And now something bigger please…

Arran 9 yo 2008/2018 (57.3%, OB, Private Cask for LMDW, sherry hogshead, 312 bottles)

Arran 9 yo 2008/2018 (57.3%, OB, Private Cask for LMDW, sherry hogshead, 312 bottles) Two stars
How and why LMDW would be 'private', I don't know. But love you. Colour: mahogany. Nose: oh boy, pipe tobacco, maduro cigars, new tyres, old toolbox, the start line in Monaco right after the start (includes Verstappen - oh come on), Dutch liquorice (how convenient), Finnish tar liqueur, Swedish Ardbe… All right, you got the picture, I'm sure. With water: new linoleum, burning plastics, tyres, dead mouse (always a hit at WF Towers)… The Hells Angels better quaff this than Jack D.! Mouth (neat): ueber-heavy concoctiony arrival, we're almost quaffing walnut stain blended away with fracked oil and old sweeter balsamic vinegar from Modena. I mean real one, the stuff they put into the Ferraris. Would you have a mocha spoon for me? With water: it's too hard to get the amount of water you add right, we haven't gotten the whole evening. Finish: pipe juice and family-only young armagnac. And I know what I'm talking about.  Comments: fun stuff but I would say it's rather an exercise in style. Loch Dhu Cask Strength, perhaps… Just what the whisky world needed. Good fun indeed.
SGP:562 - 76 points.

I would say part 2 is over, but we might be back soon with more funny Arrans.

(Thank you Nicolas)

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

 

April 28, 2021


Whiskyfun

Two Spanish Taliskers, one very old

I know we said we'd post more Arran today but since we're on the western islands, there's also a rare new official Talisker 43 years old that I just wanted to try immediately. But as is customary, or should I say mandatory at WF Towers, we'll have to first find a proper sparring partner. And since the new 43 is about travels from Spanish islands, let's choose a Distillers Edition, so an amoroso finish, that I haven't tried yet. Such as the 2009…

Talisker 2009/2019 'Distillers Edition' (45.8%, OB, TD-S: 5VH)

Talisker 2009/2019 'Distillers Edition' (45.8%, OB, TD-S: 5VH) Four stars
I had really enjoyed the 2010 a few weeks ago. The finishing in 'amoroso' always sounded odd, but it is not. Amoroso is a fairly light-cream-like blend of dry and naturally sweet sherry (PX, Moscatel) that seems to be pretty much out of fashion these days. Just not in Talisker. Colour: gold. Nose: I've always had the feeling that Diageo took it easy with this amoroso thing, keeping the influence to very civilised proportions. Indeed, it is this salty, briny smoke that first comes out, while some mustardy, slightly curry-like sweet notes would rather appear after a good twenty seconds. Make that two. Then walnuts and tobacco, for good measure. Impeccable. Mouth: very good. We call this 'sauce à la diable'. Simmered mustard with honey and cream, more or less. Notes of leather, green walnuts, rather burnt raisins, Maggi sauce, and naturally, 'peat'. Finish: long, very salty now. This is Talisker, no doubt. The trademark pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: the sweeter Talisker that's never been that 'dulce'. I've always liked Talisker al natural better, but would never refuse a dram or two of DE.
SGP:465 - 86 points.

Talisker 43 yo 'Xpedition Oak' (49.7%, OB, American oak hogshead, 1830 bottles, 2021)

Talisker 43 yo 'Xpedition Oak' (49.7%, OB, American oak hogshead, 1830 bottles, 2021) Five stars
There should be some story to be found about this mysterious 'Xpedition', let me first check that out… Right, correct, this baby was finished in casks that included wooden staves that had traversed the Atlantic, from the Spanish Canary islands to Antigua, on the deck of adventurer James Aiken's yacht. Just ten casks have been subsequently made and then blended away. Well, as they say, 'they really did something' here, it's not just a tribute bottling straight from Wikipedia. Like, a tribute to Cristopher Columbus or to Vasco de Gama. Or Magellan. Let's try it… Colour: gold. Shows restraint. Nose: oh! The story was nice, really, but the juice is splendid, or so it seems this far. You'll find these creamy touches of bergamot and citron jam, perhaps even yuzu, with luminous notes of forest herbs, heather, moss in the morning, lemongrass, Thai basil, then oysters and their wee buddies the winkles, a little beeswax and quince jelly, plus probably some fresh kelp . This is all very complex, extremely elegant, and superbly fresh. I believe we ran out of laudatory adjectives. Mouth: no straight oak in the way (not even floated wood, ha-ha), rather zests, crystallised citrus, a few drops of Spanish Chartreuse (Spain, again), and this salty-resinous combination that often comes out of some pretty old, well, Taliskers. The freshness here is really impressive, its balance as well, not to mention the complexity and the body… Wonderful tension at 43 years. Finish: finishes are always superb in old Taliskers, really. When the salt, the softer peppers, the citrus, the brine and all elements from the sea are singing the chorus in unison. Whale songs. Comments: back to pedestrian considerations, I understand why they wouldn't have loaded the whisky itself aboard that yacht. Well, I for one would have quaffed it all during the crossing! That's right, ten casks.
SGP:466 - 93 points.

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

 

April 27, 2021


Whiskyfun

Arranzilla!

That would be as many Arrans as we can, in no particular order, rather anarchically, just for the cause. We all know there are some excellent Arrans, let's just hope we shan't stumble upon too may loco wine finishings… Remember, in whisky, merlot and zin, for example, can kill!

Eenie meenie… Oh well, honour to whom honour is due…

Arran 25 yo 1995/2020 (46%, OB, 3000 bottles)

Arran 25 yo 1995/2020 (46%, OB, 3000 bottles) Four stars
The bottle is superb, the price maybe a little less so. This is a combination of bourbon and oloroso, further married for one year in sherry hogsheads. What's sure is that this is the oldest Arran I've ever tasted. Colour: copper/amber. Nose: starts with a bowl of sour cherries and a clear vinosity, on old barriques and a little balsamico. I'm also finding many red berries, which come totally unexpected, raspberries, mulberries, also rosehip, dried pears, whiffs of dunnage, blood oranges, drops of fino… This is not what I was expecting, on the other hand I think it worked, it's just, well, very singular, with obvious wine impact. Mouth: cherry clafoutis, once again, cherries in kirsch, then mead and triple-sec, elderberry syrup, and a feeling of arrak. Then more blood oranges, more eglantine tea, and just preserved morellos. Are we sure this has never met with a single dollop of pinot noir? Finish: medium, with a little more malt and raisins, café latte, butterscotch… I  short, it fell in line. A salty touch in the aftertaste. Comments: let's keep an open mind, this is not what we were expecting from a new 25 yo, but it's not lacking courage and opinion. The idea was strange but it was well executed.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Arran 'Sauternes Cask Finish' (50%, OB, +/-2020)

Arran 'Sauternes Cask Finish' (50%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
Sure we're no suckers for wine finishings but we do know that Sauternes works well. This wee NAS has some braille on the label, Chapoutier-style, which may indicate that not all whisky business will be done online post-Covid (strange reasoning, S.). Colour: straw. Nose: indeed this works, with crushed bananas, mirabelles, peaches, apricots, finger biscuits, and maybe even a little champagne. Well, chardonnay – I know there's no chardonnay in Sauternes. Whiffs of honeysuckle too, maybe cider. With water: barley and cakes, that's what we were coming for. No obvious vinosity, for example it is much less vinous than the 25. Mouth (neat): really creamy, which I've always found very 'Arran', with some lemon marmalade, sunflower oil, a touch of fresh butter, custard, golden sultanas, more mirabelles… And bananas! Uncomplicated and good. With water: believe me or not, I cannot not think of Yamazaki. Is it serious, doctor? Finish: medium and rather all on barley and mirabelles. A little citrus in the aftertaste, all for the better. Comments: well, I liked this little NAS almost as much as the 25. It is very good and fairly priced. And it won't make you blind (tsk tsk…)
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Arran 'Sherry Cask The Bodega' (55.8%, OB, 2020)

Arran 'Sherry Cask The Bodega' (55.8%, OB, 2020) Four stars
Apparently, this is some young (7 or 8) Arran that's integrally aged in first fill sherry. So, hit or miss… Colour: deep gold. Rather pale despite the pedigree. Nose: fully, totally and integrally on damson pie or, as we say here in Alsace, tarte aux quetsches. A handful of Smyrna raisins too, raisin rolls, sweet ale… Pretty simple, but flawless this far. With water: gears towards ripe plums and jams. Preserved greengages and mirabelles. A very tiny bit of sour wood in the background, which is just nothing. Mouth (neat): I'm reminded of some batches of A'Bunadh, if that rings a bell to you. A little rough and hot, but pleasantly raisiny. Stewed peaches, pepper, cinnamon, raisins, fruitcake. A classic variation everywhere in unpeated Scotland. With water: well it takes water very well. Lovely sweeter, fruitier spices, Szechuan pepper and all that. Also those cherries that we had also found in the 25. Finish: rather long, rather fresh, with more raisins, Szechuan pepper, and overripe damsons! Comments: great surprise. Smart work on this one.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Arran 14 yo 2006/2020 (53.5%, OB, Private Cask, for LMDW, France, sherry hogshead, cask #06/800485, 284 bottles)

Arran 14 yo 2006/2020 (53.5%, OB, Private Cask, for LMDW, France, sherry hogshead, cask #06/800485, 284 bottles) Four stars
This may be more special… Colour: amber/apricoty. Nose: starts a little lactic and even butyric, I'd bet this baby will need our time… Also blood oranges and a new pack of Jaffa cakes, certainly some rum (a salud to Foursquare), these notes of eglantine that we had found before, some bread, or focaccia, early grey, ripe plums… Well it does go into several directions but water should put some order here… With water: teas, leaves, peach tea, moist all-grain bread, hints of molasses, stout… But it isn't thick, don't get me wrong. Mouth (neat): very rich, sweet, a little hot, with some sour cherries once again, hawthorn tea, marmalade, peppered jams, spicy reduced grape juice (do you know ratafia?)… tarte aux quetsches… Once again it's a tad anarchistic, but that's not something we're not comfortable with. Yeah, so, with water: classic marmalade, cherries, Timut pepper, fruit bread… Finish: long and a tad spicier' and leafier. Comments: well I think is remains a tad rustic (sour touches here and there) but it is an extremely fine sherried tipple.
SGP:561 - 86 points.

Let's try another sherried beast by the indies…

Arran 21 yo 1996/2018 (52.1%, Claxton's, sherry puncheon, cask #1843-939, 609 bottles)

Arran 21 yo 1996/2018 (52.1%, Claxton's, sherry puncheon, cask #1843-939, 609 bottles) Four stars and a half
609 bottles, sweet puncheons! Colour: gold. Nose: probably not first fill sherry, which means that this is both subtler and fuller, more on balanced panettone and cakes, raisin rolls, vanilla cake, many breads, leaven, chamomile, honeysuckle, lime blossom, a little menthol and liquorice, roots (hey, black carrots?)… Nutshell, this is clearly more complex and fresher. With water: flours, breads, doughs, grist… That's just what the people want. Mouth (neat): perfect. Some minerality, barley, raisins, herbal teas, green spices, preserved greengages once again… Well this is just extremely good. No literature needed. With water: sweet citrus popping out, as well as some camphory kinds of herbs. Mi piacere very much. Finish: long, fresh, citrusy and herbal. A drop of olive oil in the aftertaste, nothing beats this. Fresh finishes always win over more pachydermic drams. Comments: not a sherry beast at all, I was wrong. Looks like this one just took the lead, but the session isn't over…
SGP:561 - 89 points.

To the archives…

Arran 21 yo 1996/2018 (50.2%, The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Show 10th Anniversary, 217 bottles)

Arran 21 yo 1996/2018 (50.2%, The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Show 10th Anniversary, 217 bottles) Four stars
If the question is 'aren't we a little late?' the answer would be 'as always'. Colour: gold. Nose: ah, more plums, biscuits, shortbread, butterscotch, custard pretzels, IPA, well-kept vanilla pods (coz there's vanilla and there's vanilla)… No complains whatsoever this far. With water: some croissants on a bistro's terrasse in Paris, with three or four espressos. When we're allowed to do that. Mouth (neat): so very good, gently spicy (cinnamon and ginger) and ale-y dram, with some apple crumble cake and a little poiré (pear cider, pears are quite big in here), as well as a little muscovado sugar. Speculoos, crème brûlée…  With water: all good, smooth, cake-y and with rather a lot of cider. A grittier background (walnut skins). Finish: medium, leafier. Maybe not my favourite part. Comments: extremely good, too bad it lost two or three points at the finish, which was a tad too gritty for me.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Let's see what the neighbours in Campbeltown had to say…

Arran 22 yo 1996/2019 (49.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 276 bottles)

Arran 22 yo 1996/2019 (49.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 276 bottles) Four stars and a half
I know Angus already tried this one but we shan't check the young partridge's notes! Colour: gold. Nose: some tiny diesely notes at first, then this bready extravaganza that Arran can display when they handle their casks with moderation. Orange cake absolutely everywhere and all the time, which is utterly perfect. Orange blossom, panettone again and again, baklavas… Mouth: huge Arran, you wouldn't believe this was bottled at less than 55% vol. Crystallised ginger, Breton chouchen (distilled mead), gueuze, crêpes while we're at it, I would even swear there is some buckwheat in there. Which would be illegal, right? Buckwheat isn't a cereal, is it? Some marc as well, some raw cognac… All things that are superb when balance was found. Which, incidentally, was the case here., perhaps by chance. Finish: perfect barley-y and fermentary ending, with good body and responsiveness. Very solid dram. Comments: as I just said, very solid dram, with a lovely rusticness.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Back to the officials…

Arran 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2020)

Arran 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
Why are any distillers only publishing very stupid commentaries and tasting notes on their websites? I mean, a 'tremendous depth of character', what's that? Isn't Arran rather about balance? Versatility? Perhaps even freshness? Oh well… Colour: golden amber. Nose: exactly that, no deep character, rather some elegant, balanced cake-iness, with pastries and breads, oriental pastries, earl grey, honey and maple syrup, roasted chestnuts, Twix, cornflakes… Things like that. Oh and barley. Just saying… Mouth: just perfect, on black nougat and rancio wine, roasted peanuts (we call them chouchous), toasted brioche and just a wee touch of rubber in the background, suggesting some poorly seasoned 'sherry' wood's been in use as well. No problems. Finish: rather long, rather fresh, but this sour and rubbery bitterness is gaining prominence in the aftertaste. Too bad, some well-earned points are being lost here. Comments: still a very fine Arran.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Eight's a good number, we need a long break now, see you tomorrow.

(Merci Nicolas)

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

 

April 26, 2021


Whiskyfun

Solera Tasting: Some More Grains

Reminds me of the Rolling Stones. Remember Some Girls and Some More Girls? Oh forget, we're just starting this and I'm rambling on already. Let's see what songs we have got… By the way, this is a solera tasting, meaning that we'll add notes whenever we stumble upon a grain whisky. In a way, it's an asynchronous session…

March 26, 2021:

Cambus 28 yo 1991/2020 (55.7%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 276 bottles)

Cambus 28 yo 1991/2020 (55.7%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 276 bottles) Three stars
Cambus was one of Diageo's old grain distilleries and was shut down in 1993. Colour: gold. Nose: it's really nicely rounded, cake-y, you could almost say malty at times, but it's true we're clearly in bourbon territories too, with a little varnish and quite some vanilla and coconut. All we're missing is a little rye. Not Havana Club. With water: no changes, perhaps a little more caramelised popcorn? Mouth (neat): it's pretty good, not too thin, rather on light white wine, caramel, nougat, and probably sweet maize, little sugar eggs, barley syrup…  The thing with these grains, whether old or not, is that they're really thin, thus a little frustrating. With water: it takes water rather well. Coconut and barley wines. Finish: short, on some readymade daiquiri. Nah I'm just making this up, but you get the picture. Comments: seriously, it's probably one of the better recent grains, I just keep finding them all superficial and too sweet, unless some bombastic sherry wood was in use, which is not the case here.
SGP:631 - 80 points.

March 28, 2021:

Strathclyde 31 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, 2020)

Strathclyde 31 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, 2020) Three stars and a half
A curious no-vintage old Strathclyde. The distillery (I was about to write plant) now belongs to Pernod Ricard. Now I remember a very good 1989 by Cadenhead last year (WF 87) so I suppose/hope this one stems from the same parcel of casks. Pure speculation. Colour: light gold. Nose: sure there's a feeling of raw ethanol at first, but the casks did well, with a lovely grassier vanillaness, cider apples, rhubarb, cigarette tobacco and even a little moss. Quite some lime juice too, this is surprisingly deep given that it's just unfiltered vodka (S.!) You would almost believe its malt whisky. Mouth: really, it's a rather fatter, deeper grain, even if it's obviously thinner on the palate than on the nose. Vanilla, biscuits, a feeling of young bourbon, slivovitz, some sweetened chocolate, popcorn, a little butter cream… Not bad at all, even if you would tend to try to reach for your ice tray… Finish: rather short yet a little hot and ethanoly. After all this is ex-high-column spirit. Nicer touches of oranges in the aftertaste, jellybeans. Comments: one of the good ones.
SGP:641 - 83 points.

March 28, 2021:

Secret Grain 43 yo 1976/2020 (45.1%, DramCatcher, hogshead, cask #940006)

Secret Grain 43 yo 1976/2020 (45.1%, DramCatcher, hogshead, cask #940006) Four stars
Even the grains are getting anonymous these days mind you (but whisky cynics would say these spirits are always anonymous anyway). Colour: light gold. Nose: lovely varnish/glue, touches of acetone, green apples, cellulose, a box of cigarillos, then rather tropical fruits, especially bananas and guavas, sponge cake topped with custard, shortbread... Pleasant freshness and even complexity here. The varnishy notes do not bother me, on the contrary. Mouth: not too thin, rather enticing, on the expected coconut water and vanilla cream, plus fine touches of lemon, then several herbal and rooty notes from the old cask, celeriac, chartreuse, fir liqueur… All that never quite becomes big, but remember this is only grain whisky.  Finish: citrus winning it all, which is good. Lemon balm too. Comments: not big but tight and even refreshing. Forgot to mention thin mints in the aftertaste. Very good grain but as always, they need very long aging, that and sometimes good thick sherry to bring some body.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

… Or some finishing?.. In truth, grain is a category where finishings may make some kind of sense…

Girvan 2006/2018 (46%, Scyfion Choice, Islay cask finish)

Girvan 2006/2018 (46%, Scyfion Choice, Islay cask finish) Three stars and a half
All right, in-cask blending with Laphroaig, I see… By the way, the label's a little scary too, but let's see… Colour: white wine. Nose: between medicinal alcohol and artisan mezcal, I would say. In any case, Laphroaig is a top dresser so even under these kinds of conditions, it'll dominate any grain whisky. Whiffs of celeriac, horseradish… Oh and, drumroll please, gentian! Possibly the best Girvan I've ever had, we'll see. But is this still Girvan?... Uh… Mouth: same feelings, only amplified. Big smoke, earth, roots and mustard. Perhaps one tiny bit of bubblegum that would remind us that there is some grain whisky in there, really. Good fun. Finish: medium, more medicinal again. Again this feeling of quaffing medicinal alcohol, which is less unpleasant than it sounds. Comments: I cannot fathom how it would be at 60% vol. Let's buy one bottle of Lagavulin 12, ninety-eight cases of Haig Club, and hey, pioneer a new business model! We'd call that the 'Whisky Homeopathy' series… But shh…
SGP:436 - 84 points.
April 18, 2021:

North British 28 yo 1991/2019 (50.1%, Single Cask Collection, cask #20013, 180 bottles)

North British 28 yo 1991/2019 (50.1%, Single Cask Collection, cask #20013, 180 bottles) Three stars
Most probably 100% maize. Colour: white wine. Nose: little easter eggs, cream eggs, marshmallows, dried coconut and all that. Pleasant and sweet. With water: a little more on good green tea, with wee ideas of lotus flowers and jasmine, as well as tinned litchis. We're in a Chinese restaurant; would you please pass the dumplings? Mouth (neat): very sweet and fruity. Glen Haribo, meringue, grated coconut. With water: rather more Haribo stuff, plus some sweetened herbal tea, possibly chamomile. Finish: medium, on pretty much the dame flavours. Sugarcane syrup. Comments: good sweet easy grain whisky. Wouldn't this rather belong to Johnnie Walker Blue Label?
SGP:641 - 82 points.

Girvan 30 yo (56.1%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, hogshead, cask #167852, 2021)

Girvan 30 yo (56.1%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, hogshead, cask #167852, 2021) Three stars and a half
Yet another funny label. Is that Tammy Wynette? Colour: light gold. Nose: this one's rather floral, more on roses, gewurztraminer, muscat, perhaps apricots… In the background, rather fresh pastries, praline brioche, fresh raisin rolls… I'm finding some jasmine tea, also. With water: with some popcorn, pancake sauce and peanut butter, this has clearly something American. Litres of custard too. Mouth (neat): it's rather thicker than others, maybe was the cask extra-burnt? A little hot too. More Haribo. With water: good, sweet, well balanced. I'm thinking manzanilla tea (not the wine) with a few good spoonfuls of honey poured in. Finish: medium, on the same notes. Grains do not change much, in my experience. Comments: an old grain that we wouldn't quite qualify as 'silent spirit'.
SGP:541 - 84 points.

Cambus 29 yo 1990/2020 (52%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail, cask #935596)

Cambus 29 yo 1990/2020 (52%, Elixir Distillers, The Whisky Trail, cask #935596) Three stars
All right… Looks that this one was aimed for people who were 12… In 1980. Colour: straw. Nose: sweet coconut water, barley syrup, stevia, pasteurised orange juice. With water: sweet tea. Mouth (neat): bonbons and coconut. With water: Havana club and Malibu. Finish: okay. Sweet oak, vanilla. Comments: it's really tough to have a few grains in a row, really very tough, believe me, while we could have Clynelish by the same very excellent bottlers instead. Someone's got to do it, I suppose. I would add that these babies would probably be better on a lot of crushed ice, but we're in serious tasting mode, you understand. Anyway, this old Cambus was good but particularly 'empty' in my opinion.
SGP:630 - 80 points.

This has to end…

Girvan 29 yo 1991/2020 (56.5%, Watt Whisky, bourbon barrel)

Girvan 29 yo 1991/2020 (56.5%, Watt Whisky, bourbon barrel) Three stars and a half
Shouldn't someone restart 'Islington'? Colour: straw. Nose: soft, on scones and shortbread, with a touch of banana and, naturally, coconut. The Rubettes of whisky. With water: whiffs of sunflower oil, nougat, pistachios, that's quite pleasant Mouth (neat): very sweet, a little tenser than others, more on orange drops perhaps. Which I enjoy. With water: touches of violet sweets and even a hint of aniseed bredele. Candy floss, toffee apple, more nougat… The barrel sure was a good boy. Finish: medium, sweet, even more on nougat. Comments: a very soft but not uninteresting grain whisky. Pretty good, I'd say one could use this to make a proper high-end home-blended Scotch.
SGP:541 - 84 points.

That's about enough grain. Now looks like the Girvans got off easy this time.

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

 

April 24, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Macallan and Glenfarclas
Not really a 'Versus' situation, as I feel that would be a bit unfair as the Macallans today are a bit more 'humble' than the Glenfarcli. Instead, let's just enjoy re-visiting these two Speyside stalwarts once again. Including a few examples from the distant past, and one genuine scarcity.

 

Macallan Edition No 6 (48.6%, OB, 2020)

Macallan Edition No 6 (48.6%, OB, 2020)
Created to 'pay homage' to the landscape around the distillery and the River Spey apparently, and done in collaboration with a fly fishing company called Hardy. I have to say, all these 'stories' on Macallan bottles smell funny to me, but at the same time I also have a big soft spot for whisky that ties into nature - even tenuously. So I will admit to a little cognitive dissonance here. Colour: deep gold. Nose: modern, rather peppery and slightly varnish-tinged sherry. So a little closed and with an acetic sharpness at first. However, this opens nicely with time and we're into quite pleasurable tobacco and leaf mulch territories. Some sultana, praline and coffee too. Quite reminiscent of the old OB 12 yo in some ways. I find the nose simple but very attractive. Mouth: good arrival, nice power, the ABV does some fine work here. Chocolate, tobacco, wet leaves, damp earth, walnuts - all very classical, typical and easy. You may add sultanas once again, and some nicely bitter Seville marmalade. Finish: good length, warming, gingerbread, dark fruits and a little touch of hessian and earthiness. Comments: Pretty hard to see how anyone who enjoys classical sherried Macallan wouldn't enjoy sipping this. I still think it would be more interesting with an age statement, in my humble opinion.
SGP: 551 - 85 points. 

 

 

Macallan 10 yo (40% / 70 proof, OB, UK, late 1970s)

Macallan 10 yo (40% / 70 proof, OB, UK, late 1970s)
Colour: pale amber. Nose: bang! Old school sherry. This unmistakeable and utterly charming mix of dried fruits with more luscious ripe green ones overlaid. Also leaf mulch, cocoa, tobacco and a savoury / salty rancio note. Enchanting is often the word that comes to mind with such bottlings. Mouth: very nutty, chocolatey and showing many dense notes of fig, date, sultana and praline. Also some espresso with a single sugar cube. Still muchly, leathery and chocolatey. Only thing is that detracts is a little bit of OBE mustiness. Finish: medium, leafy, autumnal, leathery and with some drier tones. Comments: pretty irrefutable really. We should retrospectively apply warning stickers to all such bottles: 'WARNING: do not consumer alongside current NAS Macallan'. Just that wee bit of OBE will hold this one back, but it's beautiful old style whisky.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.

 

 

Macallan 1851 'Inspiration' (41.6%, OB, 2010)

Macallan 1851 'Inspiration' (41.6%, OB, 2010)
I'm sure you don't need me to tell you the story behind this rather amusing/ludicrous/embarrassing (delete as you prefer) series? Colour: orangey amber. Nose: a kind of halfway house between the 10 and the No 6 in some ways. There's a lovely tropical edge here but it's also more dominated by a nutty sherry profile. Peanut brittle with milk chocolate, praline, pipe tobacco, mushroom powder and this general impression of all things 'old library' - which I'm sure the Macallan directors of the time would have approved. Mouth: a little flat and flabby on arrival. There's a big dollop of marmalade-heavy sherry but it feels rather sweetish and confected. Sugary cafe latte, cheap madeira sponge cake and a touch of leather. Finish: medium, a tad short, not a whole lot going on. Feels like we've travelled a long way from the nose, some after notes of burnt caramel and fudge. Comments: Not sure what to say really. I had high hopes from the nose but the palate kind of went in its own, rather unlikely direction. I know other folk rate this higher, including Serge who had a version of this one at WF86 back in 2007, so it could be the bottle or just me most likely. Anyway, who cares!
SGP: 631 - 80 points.

 

 

Glenfarclas 15 yo (100 proof / 57.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange)

Glenfarclas 15 yo (100 proof / 57.1%, OB for The Whisky Exchange)
One of two brand new, and rather nifty looking, exclusive Glenfarcli for TWE. Also, 100 proof is always cool. Colour: gold. Nose: golden syrup, toffee, cinnamon breakfast cereals, Biscoff spread - a very easy, open and classical profile where you don't feel the ABV too much. Quite clever in that regard. With water: lovely development on breads and spices, treacle on rye bread, a little aniseed and some malt loaf with raisins. Mouth: a similar, immediate impression of sweet nectars and syrups. Golden syrup, orange marmalade, sultanas and a little marzipan. An easy and gentle sherry profile that remains staunchly classical but with no sense of overt dominance or intrusion over the distillate. With water: the texture is the most striking part I think here, it becomes nicely 'gooey' with water, while there's plenty softer fruit notes coming through as well including kumquat and baked apple. In fact you could just say apple crumble with custard. Finish: good length, on soft cupboard spices, fruit scones, a touch of vanilla cream soda and more sweet cereals. Comments: Extremely quaffable and very well put together I'd say.
SGP: 641 - 86 points.

 

 

Glenfarclas 21 yo (94 proof / 54.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange)

Glenfarclas 21 yo (94 proof / 54.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange)
And here's the other half of this pair. Matured for 21 years in 'oloroso sherry seasoned oak'. Colour: deep, coppery gold. Nose: a more vinous style with a more pronounced and resinous sherry profile that takes in hints of acetic and balsamico. There's also something a notch more 'old school' about this one with some impressions of oily rags and camphor. Musty, earthen floored dunnage, putty, sultana and a little black olive bread. Really lovely and quite complex. With water: the fruit comes out more directly now, green banana, star fruit, tangerine and dried apricot. There's also a more reductive jammy quality as well but it remains quite subtle. Mouth: superb arrival! Oily, sharp, almost tart fruitiness. More impressions of hessian and dunnage along with olive oil, mead and putty. There's also an inkiness and various subtle flavours of crystallised and dark fruits. Some kind of crystallised lemon peel perhaps. And Cheng Pi, those long-aged orange peels they make tea from in China. Very impressive so far. With water: sugar caramelising with spices, clove, nutmeg, lime peel, old Cointreau, pot pourri, sandalwood. There's a lot very subtle and interesting stuff happening in here. Finish: long and now much more earthy and directly on classical sherry qualities such as tobacco, leaf mulch, leather, bitter chocolate and fruit liqueurs. Comments: I find the complexity and evolution in this one really impressive. Yet it remains first and foremost extremely drinkable and easy, lots to enjoy here.
SGP: 651 - 89 points.

 

 

Glenfarclas 40 Year Old (43.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #1.154 'Under the Moonlight', refill hogshead, 61 bottles)

Glenfarclas 40 Year Old (43.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #1.154 'Under the Moonlight', refill hogshead, 61 bottles)
From this mini era where SMWS, for some bewildering reason, thought it was a good idea to stop putting vintages on their labels. Colour: deep orangey gold. Nose: an extremely scented profile where you can tell the cask has started to 'close in'. However, the wood is wonderfully clean so what you get is this familiar mix of beehive waxiness, pollens, toasty wood spices, dried flowers and exotic hardwood resins. Also fruit teas, dried herbs and rosewater. Pretty fragile but there's elegance and beauty still here aplenty. Mouth: it's not as overpowered as you might expect, there's a big hit of sweet coconut along with shoe polish, beeswax, leather, herbal liqueurs, quince and plum wine. The tannins are becoming rather warm and peppery as they nibble around the sides but this is pretty excellent. Finish: good length, on many various assorted teas, herbs, soft medicinal touches and crystallised citrus peels. Comments: If you love scented, slightly fragile old single malts you'll be giggling. It does feel tired in some places so technically it won't get passed 90. But this is extremely bonnie old Glenfarclas for sure.
SGP: 561 - 88 points. 

 

 

Glenfarclas 21 yo 'A Princely Whisky for a Royal Occasion' (52%, OB, -/+ 1970)

Glenfarclas 21 yo 'A Princely Whisky for a Royal Occasion' (52%, OB, -/+ 1970)
An extreme rarity, one I never tried before. In the pre-cube, tall bottle presentation. Needless to say: expectations are high… Colour: gold. Nose: I've lost count of the number of times I've written 'another world' at the outset of these kinds of notes. But really: another world! Like spooning molten fruit syrups into a beehive. Green and tropical fruits galore along with a very thick, stodgy pollen and honey combinations. Stunningly thick, textural, waxy and aromatic. It also has this extremely 'liqueur like' vibe which seems only to be found in such old style glories. Some kind of ancient yellow Chartreuse with soft peppery warmth and many tiny medicinal and mineral qualities too. Exquisite! With water: spicier, sootier, oilier and more mechanical and waxy. Opens exquisitely with endless wee notes of dried fruits and flowers. Mouth: seriously, this is just old Chartreuse! Incredible thickness and textural weight in the mouth. Immensely medicinal, herbal, honeyed and yet with this very slight nervous saltiness too. Like salted mead with more pollens, tobacco leaf, mineral oil and thick, powerful notes of camphor, wax and hessian. Stunning! With water: my God! The peat, the herbs, the medicines, the power! Quick, you know who to call! Finish: stunningly long, resinous, herbaceous, medicinal, oily, spicy and waxy. Comments: one of the most powerfully herbal whiskies I ever tried; reminds me more of some ancient late-19th century whiskies than 50s distillate, quite astonishing. Everyone serious about whisky should endeavour to try bottlings of this style and quality on occasion. I appreciate it's an expensive and not exactly easy proposition these days, but it's worth the effort in my view. Nothing else grounds you and re-calibrates your sense of quality quite like these kinds of old masterpieces.
SGP: 663 - 94 points.

 

 

Big thanks to Mark L and Stewart.

 

 

 

 

April 21, 2021


Whiskyfun

Even More blends and bastards

Because there's more, always more… Undisclosed singles, vatted malts, blends…

House of Hazelwood 21 yo (40%, blended Scotch, +/-2020)

House of Hazelwood 21 yo (40%, blended Scotch, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
William Grant's posh line of blends, bearing a brand name we rather used to be used to with regard to Kinninvie in the good old days. I've liked the 18 in the past (WF 84) but I don't think I've ever tried this little 21. Colour: white wine. Nose: I'm rather fond of this style, even if you're soon to understand that the lousy 40% vol. will make for a serious handicap on the palate. Lovely tiny herbs, chartreuse, verbena liqueur, even a little gentian, then panettone and brioche ridden with sultanas. Some oriental pastries too, baklava, orange blossom, Turkish delights… Well this one makes you travel, which is just ueber-cool these days. Mouth: why this murderous A.B.V.? It makes it flat and dry, while I'm dead sure the juice was perfect at, say 45% vol. or even 43%. The lower strengths make the wood stand out, and the whiskies flattish, tea-ish and cardboardy. This is a perfect example. Boo. Finish: short and cardboardy, with some disturbing coconut, but a salty and kind-of-smoky signature gives it away, the juice was lovely. Comments: not just because of 'inflated' packaging, this baby reminds me of Suntory's Hibiki 21. Both very frustrating whiskies.
SGP:442 - 78 points.

The Nameless Three 5 yo 2014/2020 (50.8%, The Whisky Mercenary, Islay)

The Nameless Three 5 yo 2014/2020 (50.8%, The Whisky Mercenary, Islay) Three stars and a half
According to some rumours on (anti)social media, this one comes with a portrait of the King of Belgium on the label. All hail the King! Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this typical sweetness of L. So neither Bunny not CI this time. In truth you feel like you're wandering throughout the distillery while it's working at full speed. Fresh malt just delivered from PE maltings, gentle chats, crab sandwiches, scallops from the bay, and freshly squeezed oranges. With water: visiting the PE maltings, a pint of IPA in your hands. Some raw wool and very few medicinal notes, if any. Mouth (neat): peated oranges. That feeling will vanish once the drop gets older, but in its infancy, that's just what you get, deep-smoked oranges and pomegranates. With water: herbal, slightly fermentary notes popping out, but the core remains sweet and fruity. Salty ale rather than IPA this time. Finish: pretty long, first leafy, then on Fanta. Apologies. Comments: very good super-young drop. More part of an 'ageing monography' as dear M. Samaroli would have said, and probably not quite mature, but quality's already high.
SGP:657 - 84 points.

Peat & Sherry (58.8%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, for Velier, blended malt, sherry butt, cask # 997152, 2020)

Peat & Sherry (58.8%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, for Velier, blended malt, sherry butt, cask # 997152, 2020) Four stars
It's always a little bizarre to spot a blended malt that's bearing a cask number, unless they've done some in-cask vatting. Or this is Williamson (pure speculations!) Colour: deep gold. Nose: pure lapsang souchong. I mean, really, this is lapsang souchong tea. Perhaps with a touch of hibiscus – must be the sherry. With water: an even tarrier lapsang souchong. Incredible. Mouth: when modernness is an asset. Rich oranges and smoked oysters, truffles, curry, lime and citron, green walnuts, genuine gentian eau-de-vie, cardamom. Very modern concoction, very good. The future is bright and the birds are singing in the trees. With water: gets much saltier. Anchovies in brine, black olives, capers, samphires, pickled lemons. Do a chicken marinade with this? With a good glass, I mean bottle of gewurztraminer, perhaps? Finish: long, salty, sweet and sour. More pickled lemons and more smoked tea. Comments: pure sorcery and cookery. The outcome is rather perfect, if a little 'pushy' at times.
SGP:467 - 87 points.

Speyside Region 28 yo 1991/2020 (40.8%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel)

Speyside Region 28 yo 1991/2020 (40.8%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel) Four stars
Whisky-Fässle, one of the only places where the ducks, I mean the whiskies are never lame. Colour: straw. Nose: some rather wonderful citrusy notes, plus sunflower oil, barley syrup, mead, beeswax, touch of camphor, mint and eucalyptus, wormwood, absinth… All that's rather whispering, delicate, elegant, and just lovely. Hope the palate won't be too weak at this lower strength – but natural low strengths and deeply reduced ones are just not the same thing, as we both know only too well. So… Mouth: a meady one, full of beeswax, mead indeed, pine wood, chamomile, other herbal teas, cigarette tobacco, pink pepper, pear compote, then stewed tropical fruits, like bananas and papayas. It would just never nosedive, despite the low strength. Finish: medium, not short, a tad bouillony and even salty. Not something that's often to be found in a barrel. Comments: a curious little whisky that, in truth, isn't little at all. A tad fragile here and there but absolutely not broken. In short, truly lovely. Oh and the exact opposite to the Peat & Sherry as far as styles go.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Speyside Region 24 yo 1995/2020 (50.3%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel)

Speyside Region 24 yo 1995/2020 (50.3%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel) Four stars and a half
No ducks. Colour: light gold. Nose: totally on fat barley and custard, overripe apples, Gueuze, brioche, orange blossom, and honeysuckle. With water: beers, peelings, fresh bread, dried apricots, stewed peaches. You need not more. Mouth: excellent fat barley-y malt. Awesome apples, oranges, tangerines, muesli. I need say no more. With water: apple pie, soft almond milk, drops of barley wine, the faintest touch of waxed paper, and a tiny bit of pecan pie. Very traditional all-malt whisky, al natural. Finish: rather long, extremely barley-y and on cakes. Walnut cake, apple cake… Comments: high-class malt whisky, totally on… malt whisky. A kind of epicentre of maltiness. Some say this is M. I would tend to agree. But hey, why do the indies always have the upper hand?
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Speyside 22 yo 1998/2020 (48.9%, Thompson Bros., refill hogshead)

Speyside 22 yo 1998/2020 (48.9%, Thompson Bros., refill hogshead) Four stars
This time, rumour has it that this would be G. No, not gin. Colour: straw. Nose: we're in the same vein, that is to say on cakes, barley, soft beers, and a few preserved fruits such as greengages and other kinds of plums. The distillate isn't as 'fat' as the previous one, but it's just as natural and lovely. A little sunflower and hazelnut oils. Mouth: more oomph, more knack, and more zing. Distilled beer (the very extreme taste of Brewdog's cold-distilled beer is still in my memory) and just brioches, sponge cakes, Jaffa cakes, more gueuze, some orange squash. Very good, very natural. With water (not quite needed but there)…: excellent, fresh. Lemon blossom lemonade, some rather citrusy honeys, some perfect barley. Finish: medium, very cakey and lemony. All right, lemon cake. Comments: it's probably quite suicidal that the brand, such as 'G.', wouldn't allow the indies to use the name in these kinds of cases. But there, it's a very lovely malty whisky, well done the Thompsons.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Let's shake the boxes and see what falls out…

Red Snake (59.5%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, Caroni rum cask finish, cask #redneck 27, 255 bottles, 2017)

Red Snake (59.5%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, Caroni rum cask finish, cask #redneck 27, 255 bottles, 2017) Three stars and a half
What? What was this madness? Colour: deep gold. Nose: lost, we're lost. A Caroniness for sure, so some kind of earthy and eucalyptussy smokiness, then some pistachio-ed creaminess and rather much vanilla. The jury's still out… With water: Caroni's petrol and engine oil. This reminds me of my old Ducati Scrambler 450 that, last time I rode it just a few weeks ago… Oh forget… Mouth (neat): very extreme blend of spirits. It must be a heavy peater at the core. Water is just obligatory here; I don't think anyone should quaff this in its natural form. Salt, petrol, smoke, olives. With water: like drinking salted petrol. Huge brine, tar, capers, olives, polishes, artichokes… Finish: very long, salty, challenging. A touch of sulphur in the        aftertaste Comments: can a whisky, well a rumsky, be too extreme? Very huge meta-spirit, nonetheless.
SGP:464 - 84 points.
 

April 20, 2021


Whiskyfun

Aberlour OB and IB

Love Aberlour, big sellers in France. One of the first distilleries we visited with the Malt Maniacs, when we were young - I'm glad the Distillery is still standing.

Aberlour 10 yo 'Forest Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Aberlour 10 yo 'Forest Reserve' (40%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars
Forest Reserve? Is this whisky for survivalists? Joking aside, this baby was finished in French Limousin oak, so basically, Cognac wood. Not saying they've used ex-Cognac casks, but Cognac does use Limousin a lot. Are you following me? In any case, the oak is one thing, the way it was treated is another thing. Colour: full gold. Nose: so easy, cake-y, so much on custard, on croissants, on light acacia honey, on biscuits, on vanilla pods, on buttercups and dandelions, on light ale… So a very delicate, rather fragrant and pretty easy nose. Mouth: you know what? I could quaff this, it's light but absolutely not thin, simple and yet not dull, with a little caramel and a feeling of rye. At times you would believe this is Canadian. Good Canadian. Finish: short, not the best part despite these notes of rye that are still there. A little sawdust. Comments: I'd say you have to think post-Covid pool parties with good friends here. Easy, very well made, if not totally 'Aberlour'. Above the blends on the shelves.
SGP:441 - 82 points.

Aberlour 12 yo 'Double Cask Matured' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Aberlour 12 yo 'Double Cask Matured' (40%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
Tried this one 5 years ago and really liked it 5 years ago (WF 84). But time and distillery effluents flow… Now yes, It's a finishing (see update below)...… Colour: full gold (as always with these entry-level malts). Nose: nice, really, malty, on more cakes, more raisins than in the 'Forest', raisin rolls, brioche, panettone, perhaps a pecan pie, almond cake, a drop of mirabelle eau-de-vie, a little mead (the drink of the gods)… Mouth: yeah I like it a little better than the Forest, for it would be rounder and fruitier, with more raisins, sweet wines, zwetschke tarte, more mirabelle eau-de-vie, earl grey, indeed a drop of cognac, perhaps… So all gentle and good, 'commercial' in a good way. Not quite in the same category as the legendary old square bottles, but I am finding similarities. Finish: medium, this time with oranges beside the raisins. Comments: I say any newcomers trying this after, say Chivas (same stable) will experience an epiphany and become a malt enthusiast. Welcome to the madhouse!
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Update: this 12 yo is actually 'a percentage going through full term maturation in European Oak and the remainder in American Oak for the full term before batting together'. Thanks Ian, that may also explain why it's really good!

Didn't we say we'd try an independent as well?...

Aberlour 7 yo 2012/2020 (54%, Dram Mor, cask #800914, 328 bottles)

Aberlour 7 yo 2012/2020 (54%, Dram Mor, cask #800914, 328 bottles) Three stars
I love Dram Mor's labels, they are much less pushy and, well, deafening than many other new ooh-ha indie efforts. I mean, they're all expected to end their lives in a trash bin anyway, are they not? But I find it interesting that most indies would go dazzlingly modern while the officials become more and more 'retro'. Anyway... Colour: blush wine (Brad and Angelina's rosé de Provence). That's scary. Nose: do you know what a 'fraisier' is? It is a kind of cake with some sponge cake, custard, butter cream, fresh strawberries and marzipan/almond cream. That's what I'm getting here. Rather love 'fraisier' when it's well made, by the way. With water: beers and grist popping out. A feeling of Belgian Kriek beer. Mouth (neat): a little raw and kirschy. Not quite mature, and actually pretty tutti-frutti-y (oh rootie). Guignolet and maraschino. With water: more Kriek beer. Finish: kirsch aged in oak for a few months. Some crazy folks are doing that in the Schwarzwald – but we refrain from doing so in Alsace. Comments: nutshell, loads of cherries in this one. I remember a lovely wee town in California… Forgot the name…
SGP:541 - 82 points.

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

 

April 19, 2021


Whiskyfun

Benromach, three of them

We're going on with our exploration of the newer expressions of that 'authentic' (was that the word?) mildly smoky Speysider by G&M. Let's do this by ascending strength, while remembering that we just love the current 15. No, that was no pre-emptive remark.

Benromach 21 yo (43%, OB, +/-2020)

Benromach 21 yo (43%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
A blend of sherry and bourbon. Colour: gold. Nose: lovely, with roasted chestnut, pipe smoke, old coal stove, then grouse and redcurrants. There are echoes of older batches, with whiffs of leather and used matches (no plain sulphur though) and some kind of lovely exotic bouillon, with coriander, lemongrass, ginger and even lime. I think I forgot something… Ah, yes, a drop of coconut water, possibly from the bourbon wood. Drops of fattish fino sherry too (not Tio Pepe). Mouth: boy is this salty and rustic! Someone's added some salt and some pepper to some cigar ashes, some ginger and turmeric, gritty curry, cloves, bitter oranges, and almost a glass of that same fino. Salted marmalade. There is something extreme to this baby, in spite of the lower strength. Finish: very long, with more bitter marmalade and salted preserved ginger. Comments: a big boy for big boys (but of course, S.) In a way the 43% vol. are a little misleading, they should write '43% vol. but feels like 50%.' But would that be legal?
SGP:372 - 85 points.

Speaking of power…

Benromach 10 yo 2009/2019 'Batch 2' (57.1%, OB)

Benromach 10 yo 2009/2019 'Batch 2' (57.1%, OB) Three stars and a half
Right, that was still the old design. We're being sluggish with our Benromachs, are we not. I thought Batch 1 had been way too heavy and cask-driven (WF 78). Let's see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: the peat's very obvious here, with some no-less obvious coastal notes, seawater, brine, mercurochrome, celeriac perhaps. Some funny nods to young Laphroaig here. With water: we tamed it! It's not that it got crystalline and blade-y, but any thickness is gone now. Now Laphroaig is almost gone too, there's just a wee medicinal side that keeps flying over your glass. Gauze? Mouth (neat): really thick, spicy, heavy, extreme, concoctiony (S.!) and drying. Notes of strawberry syrup too. A bizarre profile, high on leather and ginger. With water: once again we tamed it, lemons and coriander are popping out, with a touch of salt, and a tiny farmy, almost Brora-y side. Could you swim from Elgin to Brora? Maybe not… Finish: long, fresh and almost refreshing when reduced. Comments: Vittel's best friend if you ask me. I'm saying Vittel because it's 'my' water during tastings and I never, ever change water. Hope the spring will never run dry.
SGP:462 - 83 points.

Benromach 9 yo 2011/2020 (60.8%, OB for France, first fill sherry, cask #39, 315 bottles)

Benromach 9 yo 2011/2020 (60.8%, OB for France, first fill sherry, cask #39, 315 bottles) Five stars
In this very case, well, I say vive la France. And vive the Auld Alliance while we're at it. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it is rather one of these moderner ex-sherry whiskies that are full of butterscotch, which makes you wonder whether some kind of heavy charring hasn't occurred. Or a Mars bar that someone would have salted and smoked – if not deep-fried. Anyway, this works a treat and made this little beast gentler and rounder than expected. But water may change all this… With water: seawater, tonic water, a tiny bit of new leatherette, or new vinyl, petrol, spent grains, farmyard… Brilliant! Mouth (neat): high-power lemony and salty arrival, gearing towards marmalade, green pepper and pickled ginger. Big beast, big strength. With water: it just adores water. Excellent citrus, citronella, salt, and even a few drops of proper tequila. Not George's former brand mind you. The first fill sherry was under control. Finish: long, punchy, salty, slightly mashy. The kind of bottle to keep for some extra-30 years in your cellar before opening. Comments: I've tried another version last year; not too sure they weren't the same. Anyway, great young 'romach.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

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

 

April 18, 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!

 

Malternatives: Madder Cognacs

After quite some years looking for malternatives in 'brandy' regions, exclusively from a malt enthusiast's POV, I believe we could come to the conclusion that only a few houses could actually compete with our dear Clynelishes or Springbanks. And that most large brands that are only churning out zillions of blends (in crystal or not) are just too, say, thin. Thin-y.  Okay, not for us. Let's have a few better ones, starting with an apéritif…

Hermitage 1995 'Chez Richon' (43%, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2019)

Hermitage 1995 'Chez Richon' (43%, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2019) Three stars
Remember, Chez Richon in Segonzac would hint at the house Michel Forgeron, which is a very good house, naturally. Colour: amber. Nose: classic fresher cognac, with some mentholy and pine-y notes that may stem from some new oak in this context, then preserved pears, apricots and peaches, juicy sultanas, orange blossom water,     and meadow flowers. Very lovely nose, fresh and playful, well balanced, elegant. Mouth: yeah very good if a tad 'from the country', full of raisins and honeys (heather), with a sugary touch that was not expected and some liquorice allsorts. Feels a wee tad 'pushed' but we're far from the large-brand juices that would make any fan of 100 Pipers cry. Finish: medium to short, sweet, easy, honeyed. Comments: possibly not the best 'Hermitage' I've tried this far, but watch these pages. Still pretty much high-echelon.
SGP:640 - 80 points.

This just in…

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Le Cognac de Pierre L.62' (41.3%, OB, Petite Champagne, 377 bottles, +/-2021)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Le Cognac de Pierre L.62' (41.3%, OB, Petite Champagne, 377 bottles, +/-2021) Five stars
I'll say it, the price here is scandalously low. Possibly twenty (20) times cheaper than what any lousy malt whisky from a similar vintage would cost you. A scandal, especially since we now all know that this little house if doing things very rightly. Colour: amber. Nose: all smoothness and roundness, and totally on various peaches in all their forms, preserved, as jams, fresh, as liqueurs…  That's just ueber lovely, but it's true that I'm a sucker for anything with peaches inside. Tinier notes on the sides would rather be rose petals and raisins, incense and cedar wood, pink grapefruits ans Szechuan pepper, and possibly… Sauternes. Cheers. Mouth: great fun here. Late-harvest gewurz and old Tokaji, rose jelly, patchouli, a drop of muscat, blood oranges, peaches… It's not that the oak would be unnoticeable – it's quite big – but the floral side in all this would just counterbalance it effortlessly. Have I used the word 'lovely' already? Finish: not that long, but still fresh and absolutely not 'tannic'. Comments: very floral old cognac, most probably distilled even before the Beatles first sang Love Me Do. This wee Cognac aged best, if you ask me.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

What's good is that we've got a worthy sibling in the house…

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 62' (40.4%, OB, for Wu Dram Clan, Petite Champagne, +/-2021)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 62' (40.4%, OB, for Wu Dram Clan, Petite Champagne, +/-2021) Five stars
So the early Beatles, once again. Colour: deep amber. Nose: same territories, same configuration, same kind of profile, same pleasures. This one is, perhaps, a wee tad rounder, with rather more raisins for example, but I may well be dreaming. In short, it is clearly peach-led once again. Perhaps a little more earth and tobacco too? Nah they're extremely similar, if not virtually identical. Mouth: don't teach your grandmother to suck eggs! Same-ish Cognac, really. Quality's high, all is fine, Tokaji and peaches are exactly where you were expecting them… Oh, apologies, that would rather be old pineau I suppose. Finish: medium, fresh. Looks like I haven't mentioned litchis before; so, litchis. Comments: marvellous, delicate old Cognac that aged just as well as Sir Macca. If I may.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

These guys from the Wu Dram Clan seem to know what they're doing, so let's have more…

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot No.70' (53.7%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, Grande Champagne, 114 bottles, 2021)

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot No.70' (53.7%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, Grande Champagne, 114 bottles, 2021) Four stars
Do these extremely fine people know that we wouldn't say 'dram' in French? Well, besides, the codes would suggest Mott the Hoople rather than The Beatles here… Colour: amber. Nose: yay, small herbs, soups, overripe fruits and the jams made thereof. Crushed mint, ground liquorice, lighter cinnamon, manioc, pumpkin, new furniture (Ikea), fresh almonds… That's all very complex and, to be honest, rather a little 'malty'. Please don't shoot. With water: not too sure, putty and coal tar are coming out. We've got nothing against putty and coal tar, mind you. Tealeaves. Mouth (neat): the oak's a little heavy on your palate. Pinewood too. I'd say this baby needs water. With water: it's funny that it would behave very differently on the nose and on the palate, once reduction's occurred. In this case it got pretty fruitier, but the leafy side remains there. No very sexy cognac for sure. Finish: chlorophyl, peelings, green tea. That's the oak. Comments: very good, as always with VT. Authentic cognacs, no lab stuff, no cooking, no fiddling.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Prunier 1967/2021 (52.8%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, grande Champagne, 276 bottles)

Prunier 1967/2021 (52.8%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, grande Champagne, 276 bottles) Five stars
A wonderful old house where they do it like when it was best. There are spirits that you cannot improve, any 'innovations' consisting in dumbing it all down. So, these days, innovation = no change. Right. Discuss if you like. Yeah, the labels are sh***y, so what? It's about substance, not about bl***y 'design'. Colour: amber. Nose: oh, old precious woods (rose, thuja), incense, blood oranges, Timut pepper, pink grapefruits, Turkish delights, macaroons, wee whiffs of thyme and rosemary, potpourri, chartreuse, bits of nougat… Ho ho ho! With water: a old lady's mink coat and various old-school perfumes. Roses, Joy de Patou, musk… Stuff like that. Mouth (neat): just wowowow, once you get through the oaky barrage in the arrival. Litchis and roses, muscat, gewurz, pink grapefruits once again, tonic, drops of Campari, Szechuan pepper again and again, fermented tea, pu-ehr, raw cocoa pods, dried strawberries (ever tried that?)… Wat a whirlwind! With water: blood oranges in majesty. A little mint too. Finish: medium, floral, superb. Wine freaks special: think high-class viognier. Comments: a Jimi-Hendrix of Cognac. 1967, you known, flower power. I believe this style of masterful old Cognac really is for malt enthusiasts – but I know I'm being a little parochial here. Keywords, old roses and pink grapefruits. Well done, clan!
SGP:561 - 91 points.

Ite missa est.

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

 

April 17, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Three Ardbeg… probably
I've noticed that age statements and general detail seem to be creeping back onto the official releases of Ardbeg. Certainly, this new 13 yo with a story about extra long fermentation and a silly name is probably the release I've been most excited about in some time, and that's not even really to do with the age, it's just nice to know it's 13 years old.

 

I suspect this was always going to be the case as maturing stocks allowed, and perhaps it speaks to the fact that, in its heart, the wider whisky industry would always like to be able to lean on the comfort of a big, fat age statement wherever possible. Not that some of the other many NAS Ardbeg bottlings over the past decade or so haven't been very fine drams. In fact, I've always felt it was funny wood concoctions that really hurt some official Ardbegs rather than any particular issues to do age (youth?) concealment. As we've mentioned often here on wee Whiskyfun, Ardbeg remains a brilliant distillate at heart, and the best examples are always when that great character is given room to breathe and to shine.

 

 

Kildalton 15 yo 2005/2020 (54.2%, The Single Cask, cask #ADBG008, hogshead, 304 bottles)

Kildalton 15 yo 2005/2020 (54.2%, The Single Cask, cask #ADBG008, hogshead, 304 bottles)
There's a few hints to chose from here, but my favourite is that they chose to bottle this at exactly the same strength as the official Uigeadail bottlings. I'm sure that was totally on purpose ;) Colour: pale white wine (yes!) Nose: crisp, hyper clean, pure 'white' smoke. This wonderful mix of crushed chalk, shells and beach pebbles all mingling together with seawater, oysters and lemon juice. Indeed this fresh shellfish vibe only intensifies with time, also pasta water with lots of lemon juice and olive oil. Some puffs of coal smoke too. With water: a pristine salinity that remains superbly fresh, pointed and sharp, but also with a good deal of intricacy to keep your nose coming back for more. Mouth: big, gutsy, powerful arrival. On herbal peat smoke, salt-encrusted white smoked fish, tar, beach sand, kelp, iodine and petrol. A big fistful of mineral salts too. On Islay, power still lies in the South! With water: we're really into green olives in a dirty martini territory now. Grizzled, gristy peat smoke, coal embers, natural tar, ointments, hessian and TCP. Hotly medical I would say. Finish: long, deeply smoky, powerful, dried seaweed, smoked sea salt, tar, beach wood and a little aniseed. Comments: Pretty uncompromising and heartily powerful stuff. A cursory sip of this might lead you to conclude this is just another excellent modern peated malt. However, it rewards close attention, and there remains something additionally, and undeniably, 'Ardbeg' about this. Beneath all the nonsense, it's still a terrific distillate. Great selection.
SGP: 367 - 91 points. 

 

 

I just realised that one was distilled the year I first worked at Ardbeg as a tour guide. Fifteen years you say? Ouch!

 

 

Ardbeg 19 yo 2001/2020 (51.8%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland', bottled for USA, refill barrel / 1st fill barrel, 216 bottles)

Ardbeg 19 yo 2001/2020 (51.8%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland', bottled for USA, refill barrel / 1st fill barrel, 216 bottles)
This one spent 10 years in a refill barrel then 9 years in a first fill barrel, so the epitome of a proper double maturation. Colour: gold. Nose: what I love here is that you can tell the cask in this case was rather active, but it has fused with the distillate in such a way as to create this rather singular and gelatinous profile that suggests peat-infused olive oil, herbal extracts and sugary cough medicines. Beneath that natural tar, embrocations, camphor and a touch of seawater. Superb! With water: fresher with some ozone and sea breeze, although also a hint of swimming pools. Mercurochrome and sardines in oil. Mouth: the oak spices are a little louder here, some hot green pepper, graphite oil, tar extract once again, paprika, umami paste and hessian. Smouldering wood embers and dried seaweed. I really like it but the cask is perhaps just a notch too active. With water: more singularly peaty, tarry, peppery and classical now. Big, weighty, spicy and chewy Ardbeg. Finish: long, these warming notes of toasty green pepper and wood spice are back mingling with the peat smoke, brine and tar. Comments: At times it is an extremely classical, contemporary Ardbeg, whereas there's moments when you certainly feel that second cask dragging it in more wood-dominant direction. A very different animal to the 05, but the quality is in the same ballpark. I think water does clever and necessary things here.
SGP: 566 - 90 points.

 

 

Ardbeg NAS / 10yo? (80 proof, OB, -/+ 1970)

Ardbeg NAS / 10yo? (80 proof, OB, -/+ 1970)
There are many fakes around with this label, however this bottle comes from within the UK and with impeccable provenance. It's also to be noted that some had a 10yo age statement as a neck label, so this bottling is either NAS or it lost its age label somewhere along the way. The original owner also helpfully informs us that this distillery is 'No longer in existence' - someone should probably tell LVMH. Colour: white wine. Nose: fresh and extremely typical old 60s (or pre-60s as may well be the case here) Ardbeg. Which is to say full of sheep wool, wet rocks, lightly tarred hessian, a kind of chalky, brittle peat smoke and many softer mineral and dried seaweed touches. The DNA of the 70s style is very present but the peat is dialled down while things like medicines and coastal complexities have been turned all the way up. You can add bitter citrus peels, petrol, seawater and ink. I would also say there's a farmyard quality that later styles do not quite possess. Mouth: extremely briny, kippery smokiness, more old rope, hessian, tar, black pepper, smoked teas and tiny impressions of pickled ginger and preserved lemons. Altogether a softer, yet also arguably deeper and more complex style. Some camphory, oily textured peat flavours, green peppercorns in brine, herbal smoke and a perfectly drying, brittle saltiness. Finish: long, bone dry, salty, a sense of citric acidity, tar, phenolics and seaweed once again. Comments: über fresh, pin sharp and almost wine like with its highly chiselled and taut structure. The interplay of peat, coast and farmyard is beautiful. It feels incorrect to call it 'lighter' in style; perhaps it's just that it is more ethereal and complex, but the lasting impression is of a huge and deeply intricate whisky. Majestic and fascinating old Ardbeg.
SGP: 365 - 93 points.

 

 

Big thanks to Mark L for that last one!

 

 

 

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

 

April 16, 2021


Whiskyfun