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Whiskyfun Malt Madness Malt Maniacs
 

Serge whiskyfun

 

Tasting notes:
Whiskies
14,219
Other spirits 1,663
Guests 534

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (49)
Aberlour (
10
3)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (31)
An Cnoc (29)
Ardbeg (3
92)
Ardmore (
90)
Arran (
98)
Auchentoshan (10
7)
Auchroisk (33)
Aultmore (5
6)

Balblair (85)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (10
2)
Banff (49)
Ben Nevis (1
41)
Ben Wyvis (3)
Benriach (16
8)
Benrinnes (65)
Benromach (6
2)
Bladnoch (71)
Blair Athol (
7
5)
Bowmore (4
83)
Braes of Glenlivet (43)
Brora (12
5)
Bruichladdich (26
9)
Bunnahabhain (3
10)

Dailuaine (60)
Dallas Dhu (36)
Dalmore (11
2)
Dalwhinnie (29)
Deanston (3
6)
Dufftown (51)

Edradour (65)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(13
8)
Laphroaig (4
12)
Ledaig (11
9)
Linkwood (1
4
6)
Littlemill (110)
Loch Lomond (52)
Lochside (65)
Longmorn (2
11)
Longrow (67)

Macallan (291)
Macduff (66)
Mannochmore (
4
3)
Millburn (2
2)
Miltonduff (7
9)
Mortlach (1
82)
Mosstowie (20)

 
 
Pete and Jack



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No archives for 2002-2003

 
Malt maniacs goodies
 

Othe whisky stuff
 

Brora

The Magical History
of the Great
Brora Distillery
1969 - 1983

   


 

Ye Auld Pages
that used to be here

   

 

 



Disclaimer
 

All the linked files (mp3, video, html) are located on free commercial or non-commercial third party websites. Some pictures are taken from these websites, and are believed to be free of rights, as long as no commercial use is intended.

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

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

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

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

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

   
Leave feedback
   

Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-2018

 
Whiskyfun by Serge

Scotch Legal Announcement

 
 

December 11, 2018


Whiskyfun

Bruichladdich with a blaze of glory

… In the end. Indeed we should have something very special today. And rare… But first, let’s go vertical if you don’t mind…

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2007/2018 ‘Lynne McEwan’ (64.4%, OB, Valinch, Rivesaltes, cask #1308, 396 bottles)

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2007/2018 ‘Lynne McEwan’ (64.4%, OB, Valinch, Rivesaltes, cask #1308, 396 bottles) Three stars
We’ve seen some very crazy valinches! In this case it’s #32, which is not the age statement mind you. It’s ex-Rivesaltes wood, Rivesaltes being a very large area in the south of France where they make various kinds of fortified wines (muté), from white to red. Not too sure about the cask they’ve used this time, the colour of the whisky may tell. Colour: blimey, it is not exactly pink, rather amber, so not sure it was red Rivesaltes. Nose: totally grape-y, you’re almost nosing fresh muscat grapes or juice. But that rather works, it’s very sweet, muscaty, and not very malty. But at 64.4% vol., you know… With water: notes of walnuts, vin jaune, kirsch, peach leaves (works greatly in lieu of sulphur to protect barrels, by the way), and pine cones. Nice. Mouth (neat): explosive! Cherry stems, perhaps, leaves, grapes… And a lot of alcohol. With water: back to whisky. Pleasant cocktail, rather earthier than expected, with some cherries as well. Some pepper in the background, perhaps from European oak. It’s always funny to notice that spirits extract a lot of pepper from European oak, while wines rather do not. Finish: rather long and quite spicy. Gingerbread, cherry and cinnamon mints. Comments: would you recognise the distillery? I would not (yeah, except that we know that Bruichladdich are into crazy wine casks) but it’s pretty good.
SGP:651 - 82 points.

Good, same age and vintage, no wine this time, let’s see…

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2007/2018 (62.2%, Dramfool, bourbon barrel, cask #657, 258 bottles)

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2007/2018 (62.2%, Dramfool, bourbon barrel, cask #657, 258 bottles) Four stars
Melons? Peaches? Sea breeze? Vanilla? Colour: straw. Nose: melons, peaches, sea breeze, vanilla (easy), plus touches of lemon curd plus flints and a little paraffin. With water: there, this is plainly Bruichladdich, very fresh, on yellow fruits and that walk throughout a western orchard. Peaches indeed, plums, etcetera. Also sunflower oil. Mouth (neat): rather greasier, more mineral, almost inorganic if you will, and very strong. More paraffin. With water: no, fruity! Melons and lemons (well done again, S.), a little gritty grass (stop it!) and a few soft green spices. Perhaps fresh coriander, somewhere. Finish: rather long, very fresh, grassier. Comments: exactly Bruichladdich, I would have said. No crazy wine or oak in the way but a good barrel that did its job properly. Reminds me of the first new 10 (or Ten), so it’s perfect.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2018 (52.6%, The Whisky Mercenary)

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2018 (52.6%, The Whisky Mercenary) Five stars
For bandana people only, perhaps? Colour: white wine. Nose: bang! Crystal-clean, totally pure Bruichladdichness. Amazing nose, with white peaches, yellow melons, fresh almonds and hazelnuts, and grapefruits. Hurray. With water: sublime earth, chalk, clay, barley… Mouth (neat): extraordinary, that’s all I’ll say. Not too sure a special refill barrel hasn’t been used (like ex-Ardbeg or stuff) but indeed this is brilliant, extremely fresh, and yet wonderfully sooty (which, I agree,  isn’t totally Bruichladdich). Lemon, wulong, chalk, ink… With water: exceptionally pure, and even a tad medicinal. That cask again? Grapeseed oil, oysters, lemon juice, the tiniest drop of tabasco… Finish: sadly, yes (as we used to write with the early Malt maniacs – boy weren’t we clever!) Comments: totally impressed. It would be cool if someone would start a collection of whiskies that are idiosyncratically representative of their respective distillates, wouldn’t it? This terrific wee Laddie would surely belong in there.
SGP:561 - 90 points (one extra-point for love).

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2018 (52.5%, Archives, barrel, cask #1470, 139 bottles) Five stars
More fish! Colour: white wine. Nose: it is, as expected, extremely similar. Perhaps a notch grassier? And a tad more mentholy? With water: lovely. Mouth (neat): okay. A touch of gentian. With water: lovely, nothing to add. Perhaps a few mushroomy notes, perhaps not. Finish: long, fresh, earthy, etc. Comments: an epitome indeed. It’s the purity that just strikes you. D.i.s.t.i.l.l.a.t.e.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Older ones now…

Bruichladdich 24 yo 1993/2018 (46.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 204 bottles)

Bruichladdich 24 yo 1993/2018 (46.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 204 bottles) Four stars and a half
Crikey, I checked Cadenhead’s website just to see if they would have come up with different descriptors, and only found peaches and melons. Now the ‘Gingersnap biscuits’ in the finish are intriguing… Colour: straw. Nose: it’s different from the 2005/2007s, with more sunflower oil, peanut oil, apple peels, peanut butter (really), all-herbs tea, tree bark, and indeed melons and peaches. Mouth: no no no, another rather terrific one, what’s happening? Herbal teas, a little camphor, green oranges (rather the pastries some are making out of them), lemons, space cake (I know, I know, but I’m claiming the privilege of age!) and beeswax. Finish: medium, herbal. And gingersnap biscuits (gotta believe the bottlers anyway) – what’s gingersnap biscuits? These notes of caramelised gingerbread, perhaps? That’s good! Comments: seriously, another very excellent one, it’s just a tad less ‘pure’, which is normal given the older age. But there…
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Shall we go on? Sure!

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1992/2018 (52.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #3838, 229 bottles)

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1992/2018 (52.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #3838, 229 bottles) Four stars and a half
This strange feeling, you know, when you know that the spirit cannot be bad, and when you know that you’ll just have to explain why you think it’s good. In a way, this is a kind of straightjacket and we might start to complain, I mean… Colour: white wine. Nose: why the hell have spirits that were just average twenty years ago become so good? While no one’s done any re-racking that anyone could notice? So fruit peelings, oils, and touches of medicinal mixtures. That’s enough. With water: clay and damp chalk. Whenever that happens, I’m almost in paradise. Mouth (neat): perhaps a little hot. That’s right, it is a little hot. There. With water: great malt, oranges, apples, melons, lemons… Almost forgot to mention peaches. A very wee prickly side, but we’re splitting hairs now. Finish: medium, tense, almost sparkling, like Champagne! Not those dosed-up commercial bubblies mind you, rather good terroirs Champagnes by great winemakers. Have a soft spot for Charles Dufour and Henri Giraud these days, although their styles are very different. Comments: no need.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1991/2017 (48.8%, OB for CSW China, French oak, cask # 15/287-22, 276 bottles)

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1991/2017 (48.8%, OB for CSW China, French oak, cask # 15/287-22, 276 bottles) Three stars and a half
French oak? I suppose that means wine cask, let’s check the colour… Unless that’s cognac wood? Colour: apricot. Nose: apricot jam indeed, marzipan, e-cig liquid (yep a new descriptor on WF!), Danishes, raisins, mirabelles… We’re far from the pure ones, but I wouldn’t say they didn’t achieve balance and harmony. Mouth: sweet and rounded, very jammy, good, just a wee tad soapy. A very faintly wee tad. Then ripe plums, muscat, Rivesaltes (eh?) and hawthorn tea. We’re good. Finish: long, on raisins, leaves, stems, and green pepper. We’re good indeed, but it may be suffering a bit after the pretty perfect natural ones. Comments: it’s just that the original ones are killing any wined ones in my book. Wine in whisky has become unnecessary since the late XIXth century, you know that’s one of my mantras. But this one sure isn’t bad!
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Good, I believe we now need some kind of conclusion. If you’ve read blogs that have copied blogs that had copied blogs that had copied books, you may remember that Bruichladdich used to peat their whisky until the good year of 1960. Granted, the tall stills couldn’t have made any Ardbeg or Laphroaig, but the pre-1960 Bruichladdichs have hence become extremely legendary, even more so when you know that only two expressions of pure peated Bruichladdich have ever been bottled, namely two rare old Cadenhead’s that were distilled in the late 1950s and bottled in the 1980s. Why not try one of them?

Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1958/1984 (92 US proof, Cadenhead Dumpy)

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1958/1984 (92 US proof, Cadenhead Dumpy) Five stars
Indeed that young little bugger named Angus already tried this one one good month ago. I’m asking you, where’s the respect? Colour: pale white wine. Cool, we’ll get closer to the spirit! Nose: ah, and now for something different! Never nosed something like this. I’m thinking fresh rubber, leatherette, burning plastic (only wee bits, no worries), and then fresh nuts, seashells, green tea, then mango peels, then Colgate toothpaste, then green melons (melons, already!), then brine and coaly oils, engine oil, raw wool, brand new tweed jacket, old books, new electronics… In short this is very flabbergasting, and one cannot not wonder why they stopped making this kind back in 1960. Now I’m sure they had good reasons, but seen from almost sixty years later, that all sounds odd. Mouth: some glorious, blazing peat! Not transmuted peat, not ideas of peat, not tropical fruits that came from peat, rather raw, pure, fat peat. And please believe me, we’ve tried quite a few very old peaters from the south shore that had become much less peaty than this Bruichladdich over the years in glass. Yep, Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin. No, Port Ellen wasn’t working. So, loads of smoked fish, especially smoked salmon, clams and whelks, brine, barnacles, some kinds of tarry lozenges, then more citrus, grapefruits, bamboo shoots, old chenin blanc, seawater, and all that. Oh would you please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade before we start to use pornographic descriptors? Finish: long. Passion fruits and mangos, plus precious cough syrups. Comments: holy featherless crow! What happened? This is a new whisky to me, while it spent 25 years in (gentle) wood plus 35 years in glass! It really is exceptional, and you cannot not wonder what would have happened, had someone not decided to go unpeated sometime in 1960. My year, by the way, but that’s not of the utmost importance, is it. No, really, what an insane discovery! It was in the books, it’s now in my tasting library – what some call a milestone, I suppose. This sort of thing is why I’m still doing Whiskyfun, by the way.
SGP:565 - 95 points.

(Muchas gracias Emmanuel and Tom)

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

 

December 9, 2018


Whiskyfun

Our traditional bag of rum

Since this is Sunday… Let’s see what we have…

Plantation Barbados 2002 (43.2%, Plantation, +/-2017)

Plantation Barbados 2002 (43.2%, Plantation, +/-2017) Two stars
This one’s been finished in cognac casks, I suppose that was necessary? Or was there an idea behind this? Colour: gold. Nose: rather gentle, a tad leafy, with some ethanol (tutti frutti eau-de-vie) and notes of molasses and burnt caramel. Touches of sawn wood. Mouth: some sugar, pineapple sweets, syrups, then some better earth, roots, and a little tobacco. Sweet carrots. Finish: medium, slightly sweet and sour. Sugar, raisins and pineapple liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: fair, but not my kind at all. Lacks distillery character in my humble opinion. Now I’ve heard Plantation have recently issued some ‘un-doctored’ rums, I can’t wait, I’m sure they’re very good.
SGP:640 - 72 points.

Bermudez 12 yo ‘1852 Aniversario’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2018)

Bermudez 12 yo ‘1852 Aniversario’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2018)
You never know, do you! Colour: gold. Nose: ah! Burnt oak, molasses, caramel, office coffee, violets. This baby reminds me of some Indian rum that we once tried around fifteen years ago. Mouth: humble, very humble. Caramel and molasses, drops of unlikely liqueurs (including Spanish coffee liqueur, the kind of stuff they sell for 5€ a bottle in Andorra), and that’s pretty all, good folks. Finish: short, rather on American motel jams. Comments: I wasn’t expecting much, and had even though this was coming from the Bermuda Islands. It was rather the Bermuda Triangle.
SGP:330 - 40 points.

Caroni 1998/2015 (40%, Bristol Classic Rum, Trinidad)

Caroni 1998/2015 (40%, Bristol Classic Rum, Trinidad) Three stars and a half
Angus already tried this one earlier this week, and rather liked it (85). Isn’t it a little strange that they would have reduced it to 40%? Colour: gold. Nose: lower strengths have got their good sides too, in this case more complexity and perhaps elegance, while many Caronis can be a little brutal. I’m rather finding notes of aniseed and fennel here, peonies, Cuban cigars, thuja wood, mushrooms, humus, and older hay. Absolutely not your regular Caroni, whether heavy or light. Mouth: there’s this old-style-ness that’s rather pleasant, these old woods and cigars, these tea leaves, this tar, apple peels, dry breads (Swedish style), orange cordials, Spanish brandy… It really is unusual, and yet very old-fashioned. Just kot extremely Caroni – as we know it. Finish: medium, on exactly the same notes. A little sour wood in the aftertaste. Comments: subtle and rather contemplative, I would say, but the oak rather took over after just 16 or 17 years. Which is the case with many Caronis by the way, in my humble opinion.
SGP:452 - 84 points.

Port Mourant 2005/2017 (60%, L’Esprit, Guyana, cask #BB22

Port Mourant 2005/2017 (60%, L’Esprit, Guyana, cask #BB22) Four stars
Very good house, L’Esprit! Colour: white wine. Nose: probably lovely, just a little too punchy for this old nose (that I’ll still need for a little while). Fennel, dill, charcoal, cut grass, fresh asparagus, fresh strawberries… Seemingly… With water: rootier and even more on fresh asparagus, beans, celeriac, verbena, gentian… Mouth (neat): raw earthy eau-de-vie, gentian, celeriac, strawberries, samphires, crushed black olives (we call that black tapenade madame monsieur), pastis, mirabelle, kirschenwasser… With water: absolutely and excellently rooty. You would believe they have distilled roots, not sugarcane molasses. Gentian liqueur and stuff. Finish: long, extremely earthy and rooty. Ribbed celery, bitter herbs. Comments: a little austere, and surely an acquired taste. But it talks to you and never tries to trick you.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R11.2, ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, Jamaica, refill barrel, 309 bottles)

Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R11.2, ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, Jamaica, refill barrel, 309 bottles) Four stars and a half
Angus already tried #R11.1 and #R11.3. Let’s fill the gap. Colour: pale gold. Nose: simple, brine-y, tarry, slightly rubbery, with touches of coffee beans and an impression of ‘a Saturday morning at IKEA’s’. Indeed, that’s a lot of new plywood and strange cakes, but more seriously, this is rather perfect so far. With water: could you make some kind of marzipan out of olives? Would that be criminal? Mouth (neat): huge, more on lemons than other young WPs that we could recently try, rather vanilla-influenced (American oak), so creamy, and actually extremely good. Great feeling of fullness. Other than that, there are, indeed, olives. With water: totally excellent and indeed, almost ‘absolutely fabulous’. Perhaps just a notch simple, and that’s the youth. Finish: a touch of varnish – it was about time! Comments: we’re approaching the 90-mark here.
SGP:362 - 89 points.

(Thanks again, Lance)

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

 

December 8, 2018


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Nonsensical Triplets
You may recall the classic 1988 film ‘Twins’, which starred Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the titular ‘twins’. Today’s session puts me in mind of the proposed sequel ‘Triplets’ which was to star Eddie Murphy as the third brother. Apparently the project  has finally been shooting this year. Although, personally, I’m more excited by the Alsatian dialect, arthouse re-make of the original starring Serge and Olivier... sadly the project is currently ‘in development hell’.

 

I should probably note that this is three sessions ‘stitched’ together. They weren’t all tasted in this order... I’m not an animal!  

 

John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, L & E Egan Ltd, 1940s) John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, L & E Egan Ltd, 1940s)
Colour: gold. Nose: this curious and oh so typically old school Irish style that encompasses many types of polish, soots, metals and light mechanical oils, with raw cereals, barley water, caraway, eucalyptus resins, delicate ointments and some light crystalised fruits. It’s a very distinctive style these old Irish pure pot still whiskeys, not one I always enjoy I have to confess. Having said that, this is one of the most accessible and immediately pleasurable examples I’ve come across. Gets very bready, towards pumpernickel bread, wholemeal loafs and sourdough. A few bits of orange peel and graphite oil lurking in the depths as well. Mouth: surprisingly punchy and oily. All on engine oils, brake fluid, pencil lead, corn syrup, damp cereals, yeast, copper coins, metal polish, soot and rye spice. Rather fascinating but not entirely enjoyable. Finish: rather short with soft tea notes, white pepper and more industrial oils. Comments: Historically fascinating, if not technically thrilling. The nose was the most alluring part but the palate fell a tad flat for me. I suspect a low bottling strength and many years in bottle have not helped.
SGP: 340 - 76 points.
 

 

John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, T. W. Begge & Co Ltd, 1950s) John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, T. W. Begge & Co Ltd, 1950s)
Colour: light gold. Nose: surprisingly fruity and fresh compared to the Egan bottling. There’s even some rather obvious allusions to many of these contemporary Irish single malts from the late 80s and early 90s which have been rather ubiquitous these past few years. That is to say quite some dried tropical fruits, a leathery mango note, pineapple syrups, guava and papaya. Some green banana, linseed oil, sunflower seeds and scattered citrus peel notes. Extremely lovely! Mouth: doesn’t quite sustain the same level of fruitiness but the bite is good and the whole is textured, clean and full of spicy cereals, tiny touches of wax and metal polish. Finish: again it’s a tad short but this one is fruitier, cleaner and with fewer of these stale qualities which were problematic in the Egan bottling. Comments: I like this one really quite a lot. The fruitiness in the nose was a great surprise. Quaffable!
SGP: 540 - 83 points.
 

 

John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, A. Millar & Co Ltd, 1960s) John Jameson & Son 10 yo Dublin Whiskey (Bow St Distillery, A. Millar & Co Ltd, 1960s)
Colour: gold. Nose: we’re back to the slightly leaner, cereal and mechanical driven style of the Egan bottling again. This one is more on rye spice, dusty malt, shoe polish, steel wool and a touch of fruity muesli as well. Again this is rather elegant and pleasant, although it is a more chiselled and slightly austere profile compared to the Begge. Once again a rather big bready quality arises over time. Mouth: oils, dusty cereals, bitter orange peel, musty fruits, hints of lemony yeast, rapeseed oil and a few dried mixed herbs. Clean and with good weight but a touch of cardboard creeping in. Finish: medium in length this time and pleasantly warming. Hints of grassy olive oil, a more buttery cereal profile and light furniture polish notes. Good! Comments: A curious mix of the previous two in some ways. I like it and I think it picked up an extra point or two in the finish.
SGP: 350 - 83 points.
 

 

What’s the logical opposite end of the spectrum from fragile old Irish whiskeys? Octomore you say?  

 

Octomore 5 yo 2012/2018 (59.1%, OB 09.1, American Oak, 42000 bottles) Octomore 5 yo 2012/2018 (59.1%, OB 09.1, American Oak, 42000 bottles)
From the latest batch of Octomores. Colour: white wine. Nose: a typically ‘Octomore’ intense and pure ashiness. Sea salt, brine, lemon juice, seawater, freshly shucked oysters and raw iodine drops. Hard to argue with this level of chiselled intensity and precision of character. Anything that contains this much salt probably needs water though... With water:   beach pebbles and flint smoke now. Wet seaweed, smoked mustard, miso broth, lemon scented medicine and freshly peated malt. Very raw and close to the base ingredients now - which is never something I’ll complain about. Mouth: despite the high strength this is surprisingly approachable when neat. A rather kippery, leathery smokiness. Bracken, peat, damp soil, crushed seashells, squid ink, razor clams, hot paprika and lime juice. There’s still a gristy glimmer of youthfulness but it’s well balanced by that ever-swooshing blade of peat. With water: a rather more grizzly and workmanlike peat profile now. All turf, diesel oil in brine, sheep wool, iodine, natural tar and bonfire smoke. There’s also some lemon balm notes, smoked oatmeal and German Rauchbier. Finish: long, brilliantly smoky and full of kippers, kedgeree, hot smoked salmon, lemon juice, sandalwood ash and salty/umami seasonings. Comments: These young, full term bourbon matured Octomores are undeniably impressive whiskies. I’m not sure I could manage more than a dram at a time given the brute-chiselled profiles they tend to possess. But they’re undeniably excellent.
SGP: 368 - 86 points.
 

 

Octomore 5yo 2012/2018 (58.2%, OB 09.2, Bordeaux finish, 12000 bottles) Octomore 5yo 2012/2018 (58.2%, OB 09.2, Bordeaux finish, 12000 bottles)
Re-racked in ex-Bordeaux French Oak casks, wish me luck... Colour: Salmon/gold?? Nose: despite the magnitude of the Octomore distillate, what strikes first is still the oak. There’s a kind of smoked pencil shaving thing going. Salt n’ vinegar crisps, wood ash, sharp peat smoke, cured meats, smoked dark beers, ham hock and a rather immense saltiness. With water: a big carpet of smoke, salted almonds, more smoked meats, mercurochrome and hot wood ashes. Mouth: the wood, the wine and whisky really clash here. This is tough. There’s a sharpness of antiseptic that fights with heavy marzipan, some acidic red fruits, smoked mead, more meatiness such as bacon, more sawdust and hot pencil shavings. Not my cup malt I’m afraid so far. With water: still not too cohesive. Peated aspirin, cranberries, young crusted port, mint leaf, camphor and hessian sack cloth. Some meat broth and mutton notes as well. Finish: long and immensely leathery, earthy, cough syrupy and with this kind of sticky/sweet/briny confusion. Comments: I really struggle with this kind of whisky. It’s profile is massive, but it remains out of whack and unbalanced in my view. I’d take the 09.1 over this any day of the year. I think Octomore’s great distillate is kind of deformed in this kind of re-racking.
SGP: 378 - 76 points.
 

 

Octomore 5yo 2012/2018 (62.9%, OB 09.3, 18000 bottles) Octomore 5yo 2012/2018 (62.9%, OB 09.3, 18000 bottles)
This one comes from 52 tonnes of barley grown in Irene’s field at Octomore Farm on Islay in 2011. That barley translated into 134 casks, the majority of which were apparently second fill. Not sure about the rest of the composition, but I’m always excited to try the more terroir driven releases from Bruichladdich. Colour: gold. Nose: we’re somewhere between the first two. There’s a more swollen style smokiness and peat; globally a slicker and oilier profile at first. Notes of boiler smoke, gentian, natural tar, herbal toothpaste and assorted smoked shellfish. There’s also stuff like graphite, carbon paper and mineral oil. A wink of earthiness as well. In time it becomes greasier and seems to fatten in the glass. We’re back on form so far... With water: mineral salts, peated bath bombs (gap in the market I’d say...) germoline, green olives, capers, anchovy paste and various raw medical tinctures. Mouth: to quote Serge Valentin... ‘POW!’. Huge delivery on arrival, beautifully medicinal, metal polish, frying bacon fat, glycerine, lemon jam, dried herbs, pure seawater, black olives, squid ink in brine, lighter fluid, wood char, iodine, kelp and more of these really lovely herbal toothpaste notes. This is bigger and more immense than either of the other two and the strength is obviously higher, but it is also more complex, more interesting and just more charismatic. With water: mustardy, salty, a very pure peat smoke, some linen cloth, lemon juice, turmeric, bay leaf, white smoked fish, oyster sauce. Many excellent things. Finish: long and full of antiseptic, embrocations, tar, lime juice, ash, crushed seashells, ink and beach pebbles. Comments: I often thought that the process of creating Octomore was one that obfuscated any characteristics of terroir from the barley. However, there’s no denying that this one has ‘something else’ about it over the other two. I’d also say that there were glimmers of wine casks in here as well but they felt subdued and well-integrated. All in all, this is yet another one of Bruichladdich’s Islay barley expressions that forces you to really think about the intersecting relationship between raw ingredients, locality, process, casks, time and the cumulative bearing on quality and character. Kudos!
SGP: 478 - 90 points.
 

 

Who ever needed an excuse to taste some Springbank?  

 

Springbank 5 yo (43%, OB for Italy, 1.5 litre, circa 1970) Springbank 5 yo (43%, OB for Italy, 1.5 litre, circa 1970)
A rather infamous bottling in magnum format. Totally cool that Springbank would release something so daft and fun way back when. Mind you, Campbeltown in the swinging 60s was probably quite something to behold... Colour: gold. Nose: Superbly fresh and coastal with an almost glycerol, syrupy quality. It screams pure ‘old Springbank’ with all these wee notes of ink, pebbles, many shades of fruit, a background wisp of peat smoke and soft herbal and resinous tones. I’d say that this goes to show that great distillate doesn’t need great age, however, this being Springbank, they may have made up the numbers with some 30 year old... Anyway, continues to flex with these notes of shoe polish, mineral oil, precious waxes and hints of beach sand and medical tinctures. Mouth: old shoe polish mixed with yellow Chartreuse. Wool, lime peel, plenty of hessian, metal polish, soot and waxy citronella. Finish: good length and getting increasingly waxy, sooty, oily and coastal with a kind of flinty mineral side. Comments: I wonder how much freshness was retained by bottling in large format? It’s long accepted that wine certainly matures better in magnums. Having said that, there are also a few wee glimmers of good OBE in this one as well. Anyway, well worth seeking out. Delicious and quaffable young old Springbank.
SGP: 462 - 90 points.
 

 

Springbank 1996/2017 (49.5%, OB Private Bottling for Barrie, Gates Poe, Stevenson & Welsh, cask 12/298, fresh sherry hogshead, 123 bottles) Springbank 1996/2017 (49.5%, OB Private Bottling for Barrie, Gates Poe, Stevenson & Welsh, cask 12/298, fresh sherry hogshead, 123 bottles)
There’s many, many bottlings of Springbank under this label series it seems. Not sure it would ever be possible to know exactly how many. Colour: light amber. Nose: a rather mineral and clean sherry character which works very well with the pretty chiselled, coastal Springbank distillate style. There’s also some sappy peat, pithy citrus peels, beach pebbles, old rope and various fresh shellfish. Perhaps some blood orange and a toffee crisp as well. Mouth: feels a tad disjointed between the sherry and distillate - which is something I often find with contemporary Springbank in sherry. Lots of spiced orange marmalade, some nutmeg, camphor, stewed fruits, marzipan and things like gauze and light antiseptic. It’s still pretty good though, it must be said. Finish: medium-long. Lots of spiced ginger cake, medical notes, umami broth, soy sauce, lemon cough drops and some slightly farmy notes in the distance. Comments: Good, solid contemporary Springbank. Although I really prefer this style from refill / bourbon. Not convinced by the sherry cask here.
SGP: 462 - 85 points.
 

 

Springbank 25 yo 1991 (53.8%, Kinko & Club Qing, 143 bottles)

Springbank 25 yo 1991 (53.8%, Kinko & Club Qing, 143 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: interesting, you definitely notice the ‘shift’ that occurred between the early and late 1990s in this one. This is more of a straight briny and farmy side. More direct, more pure and rather more crisp and lean. You can see why these batches were tough at around 10 years of age. Now this style really starts to feel fuller and more complex. Notes of wax, mirabelle eau de vie, carbon paper, beach wood, lanolin, sack cloth and things like canvas and salted barley broth. Even some mushroom and leaf mulch in there. Really excellent! With water: cornflour, citrus peels, tinned peaches, some garden fruits a bit more wax polish. Mouth: again this is rather sharp, direct and pure. More towards old riesling, petrol, flints, canvas, soot, damp malt, pine cones and some bready and toasty notes. Rather a lot of cereals, some yeasty sourdough, lemon cough medicine and subtle hints of things like TCP and dried parsley. Oily sheep wool, coal dust, salted flatbread and dry porridge oats. A few white flowers as well. With water: ah, again it’s a little sweeter and fruitier with water. Although it’s a curious fruitiness that takes in waxy lemon peel, fruit salad juices, mandarin cordial and gooseberry. Finish: good length and even displaying a little tropical fruit juice, raw barley, crisp cereals, earl grey tea and cherry cola cubes. Comments: A very unusual and rather fascinating Springbank that keeps on changing and evolving with time and water, while also demonstrating a rather short-lived and obscure ‘house’ style that’s perhaps worth a little revisionism these days. There’s lots of pleasure to be found here. I had it around 88/89 but with water and time I think it’s firmly deserving of...
SGP: 561 - 90 points.

 

 

Thanks to Martin and Billy.  

 

 

December 7, 2018


Whiskyfun

Some very unusual new Irish

Indeed, some will be simply sourced and doctored-up, some others rather ueber-terroiry. Or so they say, let’s see…

West Cork ‘Glengarrif Series’ (43%, OB, Irish, single malt, Peat Charred Cask Finish, +/-2018)

West Cork ‘Glengarrif Series’ (43%, OB, Irish, single malt, Peat Charred Cask Finish, +/-2018)
So some whisky finished in wood that was charred using peat, apparently, which I thought would be quite impossible to do, but I was probably wrong. Charring oak using peat, really? Colour: gold. Nose: we already tried a ‘bog oak’ version that’s been pretty difficult, but this is rather nicer at this point, with a rather delicate fruity peatiness that reminds me of… not too sure, this is a first. Pears, for sure, and a wee touch of hand cream, orange-scented liquid soap, cherry-flavoured beer, a pack of cinnamon mints… A first indeed. Sadly things won’t improve after that... Mouth: cloves and caraway, Fanta, pepper, fresh oak, and more pears. The oak’s becoming drying. Finish: medium, a little sour and bitter. Burnt aftertaste, burnt pears, wood smoke... Comments: I give up, this is not really my scene anyway. Do you feel the need to ‘innovate’? Rather do A.I. bottles that talk or listen or stuff like that!… But innovation in food will be so out of fashion in 2019 anyway (that’s what I’ve heard…)…
SGP:563 - 50 points.

Not exactly a good start…

Tipperary 8 yo (59.5%, OB, Irish, red wine cask finish, cask #RC00117, 2018)

Tipperary 8 yo (59.5%, OB, Irish, red wine cask finish, cask #RC00117, 2018) Three stars
Sourced whiskey finished in red wine, what could go wrong? I know, pretty much everything, but I remember I’ve really enjoyed a Tipperary ‘Watershed’ in July this year (WF 83), so who knows? Colour: damson juice (working on my descriptors, you see). Nose: rather okay so far. Very strong, with touches of peonies and cassis buds, plus some pepper and nutmeg… As they say, the jury’s still out and we need our nostrils tonight. With water: pretty nice. Grenadine, cherry juice, pomegranate, clafoutis… This is coherent. Mouth (neat): at least it was a fruity distillate in the first place, and not a fat/greasy one (Clynelish, Mortlach, Springbank, Benrinnes and such). So it’s pungent, but there aren’t any clashes of civilisations yet, rather red berries and some fruitcakes (yep the season is coming). With water: more oak spices, ginger, some earthiness, red apples, raspberry liqueur and chocolate, cherry sweets… Finish: long, a tad leafier, as almost always with these casks. Some ginger and tobacco in the aftertaste, perhaps a wee touch of stewed spinach. Comments: surprisingly coherent, and even good. Proof that the chef is as important as the recipe.
SGP:661 - 81 points.

And now, this one, the reason why I wanted to do some Irish today. Because this is a first on WF (well, not quite, I had tried some early new makes, but this is different)…

Waterford 261 days old 2018/2018 (68.34%, OB/cask sample, Irish single malt, cask #8224)

Waterford 261 days old 2018/2018 (68.34%, OB/cask sample, Irish single malt, cask #8224) Five stars
That’s right, Mark Reynier’s Waterford, bio-dynamic at that. The barley came from three farms, Trevor Harris’s, John McDonnell’s, and Alan Mooney’s. They could even give you the kind of soil (fine loamy drift) and the GPS coordinates (we’ll spare you that). In short, wine concepts in whisky, and… terroir. Soil, climate, orientation, and generally, ‘a sense of the place’. There are several definitions of terroir, and even dedicated terroirists don’t always agree, but to me, it’s there if you let it be there, and it isn’t if you don’t. But killing something will not allow you to claim that it did not exist… Anyway, let’s try this! Colour: gold. Nose: f**k! (hold your horses, S.!) I’d hate it when anyone would believe I’m biased here, because I know some people, or because I’m a wine guy too, or for whichever reasons, but really, f**k! With water: s***w ‘em! Mouth (neat): totally f**k! With water: putain de bordel de merde ! (I’m saying it in French so that it would sound gentler and more polite – does it not?) Finish: yada, yada, yada. Comments: good, let’s get serious if you please. One little flaw in my book, the oak’s already ‘bigly spicy’, and that may come from the fact that they’re filling at 70+%, but I may be wrong. Other than that, it’s glorious whi… I mean, spirit, with extraordinary breads, honeys (old Mersault), dried figs, mead, ‘rounded’ chalk, touches of mutton suet, marrow, a drop of orange blossom water, overripe pears, citrons, prickly pears, panettone… The closest whiskies I’ve tried were some Westlands, in case that helps. By the way, I know some folks believe that bio-dynamy is all about esoterism or only for people with their heads in the moon, but it is not, it’s all about science and rationality. Serious! Anyway, looks like Waterford are onto something, especially if, like me, you’re rather into distillate and raw material-driven spirits…
SGP:451 - (no score) points.

Phew…

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

 

December 5, 2018


Whiskyfun

Two or three Glenlivet

Or four or five, let’s see what happens. Probably the most famous single malt in the world. Don’t you agree? Or is it Glenfiddich? We’ll start this with the oldest, since it’s also the lightest as far as %ABVs are concerned…

Glenlivet (Minmore) 20 yo 1996 (46.4%, Cadenhead, Warehouse Tasting, 2017)

Glenlivet (Minmore) 20 yo 1996 (46.4%, Cadenhead, Warehouse Tasting, 2017) Three stars and a half
Indeed the name ‘Minmore’ that Cadenhead are using refers to the farm where Captain George Smith used to live before the transfer of the Distillery to that location in 1858. Colour: pale gold. Nose: much greasier and grassier than your ‘average’ Glenlivet, more on paraffin, sunflower oil, linseed, fruit stems and peels, wet raw wool, etcetera. Whiffs of new bandages in the background, as well as, perhaps, a little olive soap. Really not your ‘average’ Genlivet. Mouth: this is rather incredible, things getting pretty different now, that is to say much fruitier, rather on all things apples. Compote, cakes, pies, cider, calvados… etcetera. Actually, a kind of grassy greenness remains. Finish: long, waxy and grassy. Grapeseed oil, a touch of grapefruit in the aftertaste. Comments: so a rather raw Glenlivet, quite the opposite of an easy, gentle Speysider.
SGP:361 - 84 points.

Glenlivet 15 yo 2002/2018 (58.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, First Fill Bourbon Barrel, cask #800772, 200 bottles)

Glenlivet 15 yo 2002/2018 (58.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, First Fill Bourbon Barrel, cask #800772, 200 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: not dissimilar, that is to say pretty grassy, but this time you’re also experiencing fresh butter and vanilla from the first fill barrel. There’s also some honey (nose various honeys, that’s always very pleasant), agave syrup, and some hay and chamomile. With water: a little chalk and earth are getting in on the act. Mouth (neat): very fruity this time, around fresh orchard fruits, icing sugar, pears, greengages, green apples, then candied angelica… With water: western summer fruits going bananas (so to speak). Various apples, including very sweet ones, as well as green and Provence melons. That’s always pretty perfect. Finish: medium, superbly fruity. Comments: I was about to use the word ‘natural’. So some excellent, rather pristine middle-aged Glenlivet au naturel.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Glenlivet 13 yo 1982/1995 (59%, Glenscoma, Port wood)

Glenlivet 13 yo 1982/1995 (59%, Glenscoma, Port wood) Four stars
Scoma are pioneers as far as malt whisky’s concerned in Germany. They sometimes used to add their own labels to indie bottlings, as the Italians used to do (Sestante et all). Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s rather leafier, while the Port remains extremely discreet, which fact won’t deplore here. Very nice touches of lovage, parsley, chives, tobacco, fresh walnuts… It’s almost as if that Port was actually fino sherry. With water: some wee hints of rubber that will need quite some time to go away. Mouth (neat): it’s good, rather on rosehip tea this time (Port indeed?) as well as pepper, including Szechuan. Otherwise, apples. With water: candy sugar, candied fruits, maple syrup, a touch of marzipan, barley water, Cointreau. Finish: rather long, a tad on mulled wine. Cinnamon, star anise and such. After all, Christmas is coming. Comments: yep. Now go find a bottle.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Glenlivet 11 yo 2007/2018 (67%, Signatory Vintage, for Fisser, Italian Cars Series, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900201)

Glenlivet 11 yo 2007/2018 (67%, Signatory Vintage, for Fisser, Italian Cars Series, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900201) Four stars and a half
Gilles Villeneuve’s Ferrari on the label; let’s see if this is fast whisky, while remembering that Signatory always had some superb sherried ‘livets. Colour: amber. Nose: well, at 67% vol., I suppose earlier F1s could have used this as petrol, but the sherry might have clogged up the carburettors. A lot of speculoos and pumpernickel here, morello cherries and guignolet, cherry-flavoured pipe tobacco, and just raspberry jam. But it’s very strong… With water: tobacco, new leather, horse saddle, chery liqueur. Right, that’s guignolet indeed. Mouth (neat): huge, reminiscent of some Kavalans, if I may (Scotland, don’t shoot!) Gingerbread, chestnut honey, Cherry Heering, pink pepper again… But, cough, it’s strong, cough… With water: right. With more water: a big, fattish sweet cherry-like sherry. A rare case of rhyming alliterations being not purely superfluous (oh-my-God). Finish: long, rounded, sweet, syrupy. The fact is, I love my cherries. Comments: a bit bombastic and yet pretty elegant. Proper good PX, I’d suppose.
SGP:751 - 89 points.

And a very prestigious last minute entry…

Glenlivet 64 yo 1954/2018 (41%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry butt, 222 bottles)

Glenlivet 64 yo 1954/2018 (41%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry butt, 222 bottles) Five stars
Indeed this very rare old one is brand new and, just like the fantastic Caol Ila we had yesterday, comes in a rather wonderful decanter that’s really not as kitsch as other extravaganzas that may be encountered elsewhere in Scotland (never forget your sunglasses). I’d add that we have good hopes here, despite the low strength, as I fondly remember a 1954/2010 from the previous inception of G&M’s Private Collection (WF 91). Colour: only pale gold, which is quite astonishing. Nose: bingo, honeys and menthol-driven herbs and teas. A perfect combo when balance is right! Smaller elements here would gather pine resins, pollens and beeswax, sesame oil, dried figs, a wee touch of amaretto, and an old empty cigar box. Lovely, but at 41% vol., it’s the palate that’ll play the justice of the peace (so to speak). Of course, no water to be added here. Mouth: bingo again, no excessive old black tea (from an old teapot), no greenish tannins, and no bone-dry black chocolate, rather an arrival on marmalade and roasted coffee beans, then cassata, kougelhopf ice-cream, glazed chestnuts and good old rhum agricole. Some pecan pie too, and never a single weakness despite the low strength. Finish: the resins and the marmalade are back, with a little liquorice and black chocolate. A fresh, slightly mentholy aftertaste. Comments: let’s say it, with old whiskies when you find this much menthol and resins in any nose, that’s usually bad news w.r.t. the palate that’ll often have become too drying. Not the case at all here, this old baby still has the fire.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

(Thanks again Tom!)

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

 

December 4, 2018


Whiskyfun

Crazy Caol Ila

Long time no Caol Ila on WF, si? Bah… (that was some introduction S., congrats!) We’ll try to act swiftly today, but as usual, we may well fail…

Caol Ila 2008/2018 (53.4%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, cask #4016843)

Caol Ila 2008/2018 (53.4%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, cask #4016843) Three stars
Three months in an active octave (woo-hoo, S.!) that changes a man. I mean, a whisky. Colour: straw. Nose: philosophically, I’ve never been a fan of speedy oak-doping on whisky, but I have to say that rather often works, which seems to be pretty much the case here. A fresh CaolIlaness for a start, and then some fresher lemongrass-like aromas that should have come from the oak. Something of a lemony cough syrup. With water: Caol Ila plus vanilla, doesn’t fail. Mouth (neat): sweet Vishnu, indeed, that worked. Sure there’s a little too much vanilla and a feeling of sawdust and ginger, but on the other hand, balance has been preserved and the well-chiselled distillate keeps shining through. With water: rather more on ginger, I would say, and sour white wine, Muscadet… Finish: medium, with touches of ginger again, sourdough, nutmeg… Comments: the very good people at Duncan Taylor have provided me with the original distillate, before it got octaved, which was cool. I liked it a little better for it was cleaner and fresher, but I can see why someone else would prefer the ‘prepared’ version.
SGP:456 - 80 points.

Wait, just checking something…

Caol Ila 15 yo 1992/2007 (46%, Duncan Taylor, NC2)

Caol Ila 15 yo 1992/2007 (46%, Duncan Taylor, NC2) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: right, this one is/was epitomically fresh and maritime, with oysters, lemons, kelp, damp fabric, rainwater, ink, and beach sand on Islay after the rain. Right, any day. Mouth: goody good, creamy, uncomplicated, with some limoncello and oyster juice, brine, oysters again, and perhaps langoustines covered with custard (what mad soul…?) Finish: medium, brine-y, lemony. Comments: just wanted to check something.
SGP:456 - 85 points.

CI11 2008/2018 (55.4%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, oloroso sherry butts, 1206 bottles, 2018)

CI11 2008/2018 (55.4%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, oloroso sherry butts, 1206 bottles, 2018) Three stars and a half
In theory, this should go hassle free. Colour: gold. Nose: there is this kind of manzanilla-like sourness that can work so well with peaters. Mustard, charcoal, lit cigars, old riesling, camphor, whelks, garden peat. With water: wet dogs (we sure owe you, dogs) and soot. Mouth (neat): unusual and good, and indeed pretty sour. Lime juice, seawater, grape skins, that dandy old riesling, grapefruit juice, and touches of lemony oak, whatever that means.  There are, indeed, notes of ‘oak preparation’ akin (but less obvious) to those that were to be found in DT’s Octave. With water: careful, whiskies that have seen active oak within their lives don’t always swim well. So, only a few drops here, please. Some pineapples; bizarrely, pineapples often come with active American oak. Finish: long, appropriately sour and fruity. Comments: there may have been a little wizardry behind this bottling, but I like it, even if I tend to prefer the blade-ier Cis (I had CI10 at WF 90, for exemple).
SGP:556 - 84 points.

Hold on before we go on, looks like I’ve never formally tasted CI8… So, CI8…

CI8 2008/2017 (55.2%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon barrels)

CI8 2008/2017 (55.2%, Elixir Distillers, Elements of Islay, bourbon barrels) Four stars
From five barrels, so no sherry this time (yeah pushing at open doors again…) Colour: white wine. Nose: if I write katana-y, will you believe I’ve gone even madder? Right but indeed, this is extremely clean, vertical, narrow, and all on seashells and pure lemon juice. With water: w andering throughout a working kiln. Watch your clothes. Mouth (neat): perfect clean, narrow, yet slightly fattish (coz of the barrels) CI. Smoked limoncello blended with seawater. With water: millimetrically pure ex-bourbon Caol Ila. In other words, vanilla-coated peaty whisky. Finish: long, a tad fat, perhaps. Comments: marvellous, but perhaps just a tad too vanilla-ed for me. I know, splitting fairy hairs.
SGP:457 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 2007/2018 (50.3%, Les Grands Alambics, 136 bottles)

Caol Ila 2007/2018 (50.3%, Les Grands Alambics, 136 bottles) Four stars and a half
Here come some wee French bottlers acting with flair. I’d take this opportunity to show many international friends how one ought to properly write the word ‘alambic’. Colour: white wine. Nose: right, kiwi and lime juices, garden bonfire, angelica, small flat oysters (I would suggest Prat-Ar-Coum – never mind), and a wee chalkiness. Very elegant and pure, this young Caol Ila. With water: gets more medicinal. Mercurochrome and bandages, plus anchovie paste. Mouth (neat): exactly. A drop of agave syrup in lemon and oyster juices, plus kippers and green pepper corns. All that works in perfect sync, it’s almost the John Coltrane Quartet (yeah, or Abba, as you like, as long as you don’t mention the Osmonds). With water: exactly perfect. Lemon liqueur, a touch of salt, sardines, cigarette ashes, and a little crushed chalk. Finish: long, pristinely lemony and salty. Comments: as good as it gets at ten or eleven years of age. Well selected, The Tall Stills!
SGP:457 - 88 points.

Perhaps a last Caol Ila, let’s make it an old one…

Caol Ila 33 yo 1984/2017 (50.1%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, for SCSM China, refill hogshead, cask #11925, 250 bottles)

Caol Ila 33 yo 1984/2017 (50.1%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, for SCSM China, refill hogshead, cask #11925, 250 bottles) Five stars
I can’t see what could go wrong here, even if the honourable bottlers have added this to the label: “Ridiculously Rare”. Which, in itself, is perhaps a little r…….. as this is neither Stromness nor Malt Mill (more about the latter soon on WF, but shhh…) Colour: gold. Nose: get-out-of-here! An ode to proper aging, with stunning notes of old teas and tobaccos, embrocations, old polished pieces of furniture, overripe quinces (as quinces should be), and secret oils straight from Leonardo’s workshop. With water: what I’ve always liked in old Caol Ilas was the appearances of fish oils, fresh almonds, and old earthy Chinese teas. As if by chance, that’s exactly what’s happening here. Also wee mangos that they may have borrowed from Bowmore’s. Mouth (neat): extraordinarily firm and vibrant (professors would write ‘assertive’), with a rubbery/mentholy side that comes from the old wood, and a very complex blend of herbal teas and tarry ointments. Well, that, more or less. With water: careful, please never drown these oldsters. Actually, it doesn’t even stand a single drop of H2O on the palate or it would become dry and drying. No water is the way here. Finish: perfect when undiluted, with tropical fruits dancing right on your tongue. Comments: superb, just getting a tad difficult (weak and drying, with a touch of lousy coconut) as soon as you’re only intending to add the tiniest drops of water. Not that it would need any at 50.1% ABV, anyways. Big medicinal smoke at 33 years of age!
SGP:457 - 90 points.

All right, we’ve got an even older one. Some kind of extremely rare bonus, I you like… In fact it the oldest Caol Ila ever, and it is brand new!

Caol Ila 50 yo 1968/2018 (52.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry hogshead, 190 bottles)

Caol Ila 50 yo 1968/2018 (52.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill sherry hogshead, 190 bottles) Five stars
This is hard to fathom, Gordon & MacPhail were still having a cask (and possibly more) of Caol Ila from the old distillery! In truth these whiskies have become legendary, not only because they are now all old and rare, also because they were stunning whiskies, rather bolder than the ‘new’ Caol Ilas and nearer to the malts from the island’s south shore. I’ll add that all the 1968s from G&M (especially the Italians, Intertrade, Meregali…) were absolutely stunning, often +/-95-material. Which explains why I just cannot wait… Colour: gold. Nose: camphor, garden bonfire, old embrocations, new linoleum (ask your parents, youngsters!), a pack of mint drops, Chartreuse (let’s not push things, not obligatorily Tarragona), vinyl acetate, rubber boots, angelica, menthol cigarettes, fresh mushrooms… Well you got it, there’s some kind of complexity in here, but let’s see if and how it swims. With water: but it would cross the Atlantic! Fantastic, wonderfully brine-y, very fresh, coastal, a tad tarry, smoky… This very profile is very hard to beat, and specifically ‘old Caol Ila’. Mouth (neat): it’s a blessing that the strength remained quite high, this is still fresh and, as we all say, vibrant. We’re finding bitter citrus, a touch of wine vinegar, oysters, crystallised apples, Seville oranges, this feeling of sucking hessian or your tissue, smoked meats and fish, various candied fruits, and the subtlest smoked marmalade ever (provided someone already tried to make smoked marmalade). With water: amazing, tense, salty, as sooty as old CI could be, ashy, with a few pine needles and a smidgen of top-of-range toothpaste. And lemon. Finish: rather long, just perfectly fresh, which really comes as a surprise. Comments: an ode to age, or the new Helen Mirren of Scotch whisky. Congratulations, G&M! When bottlers write that a particular whisky was bottled ‘at its peak’, we usually take that as marketing speech (hot air, if you prefer). Not the case at all here, that’s actually totally possible. But we know that Caol Ila ages gracefully (right, just like Helen Mirren).
SGP:564 - 93 points.

(Thank you Fuji and Lucero)

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

 

December 3, 2018


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Mosstowie

You may remember that Mosstowie’s the name of the whisky that used to be distilled in Miltonduff’s Lomond stills between 1964 and 1981. Anecdotal whiskies? Perhaps. Let’s try two of them before we all forget about Mosstowie…

Mosstowie 1979/2013 (51.5%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, bourbon barrel, cask #1355, 185 bottles)

Mosstowie 1979/2013 (51.5%, Van Wees, The Ultimate, bourbon barrel, cask #1355, 185 bottles) Four stars
Purveyors Signatory Vintage already had some excellent 1979s, I especially remember a cask #1305 that was great (WF 88). Lomond stills used to impart a very specific kind of fruitiness – think Inverleven’s Lomond still. Colour: straw. Nose: macchiato and butterscotch for a start, then whiffs of sour wood (fallen trees in a dump forest) and a lot of green tea. Rubbed fern. With water: no, it’s some pure sawdust that comes out. No water in this! Mouth (neat): really very good indeed. It’s no bold whisky, but it’s got a kind of herbal structure that works very well. Linden, chamomile tea, certainly some eucalyptus leaves that you would chew on… It’s very different from any other kinds of malts (while I have to confess I’ve forgotten how Kinclaith used to taste), but it’s excellent. Mentholy apples? With water: water work rather better on the palate. Sour apples, even sweet potatoes… Finish: medium, a tad sawdusty, but there’s also this very engaging kind of herbalness, between verbena and lemongrass. Comments: a forgotten style. Try to catch one before they become totally undiscoverable. Not that they were very seminal, having said that…
SGP:451 - 86 points.

Mosstowie 45 yo 1973/2018 (51.6%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry butt, cask #7622, 410 bottles)

Mosstowie 45 yo 1973/2018 (51.6%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, refill sherry butt, cask #7622, 410 bottles) Five stars
Imagine, a 45 years old Mosstowie! Isn’t it fab when great old bottlers (well, not THAT old in this very case) celebrate their anniversaries? Remember Cadenhead last year? Colour: gold. Nose: this is completely different, much more on muscovado sugar, Cuban rum, custard, chicory and Ovaltine, toasted brioche, Williams pears… We’re kind of midway between old malt and old grain here, I would say. With water: gets sourer, but that is pleasant. Swiss cheese, tobacco, fermenting plums (got some in the garage, will distil them soon!)… Mouth (neat): exactly. Pear pie, sweet ale, butterscotch, toffee, more Ovaltine, mocha… Once again you feel a lighter backbone, but it’s no spineless grain whisky, it’s just a different kind of malt. With water: same feelings. Notes of young calvados, caramel, vanilla, malt, walnuts… Finish: rather medium, a tad oakier but remember this baby’s 45! Comments: what a lovely experience! Probably the oldest Mosstowie ever, and indeed, much more than just an anecdotal whisky – but then again, it is neither Clynelish nor Springbank.
SGP:451 - 90 points.

Glad we’ve had these two, this was perhaps the last proper Mosstowie session on little WF.

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

 

December 2, 2018


Whiskyfun

And yet another bag of rums

After some kind of cane-y pause, let’s try some rum again, completely at random. Well, more or less.

Cubaney 5 yo ‘Anejo Reserva’ (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2017)

Cubaney 5 yo ‘Anejo Reserva’ (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2017)
Yeah well, we’re not expecting much from this likely multi-column sugar bomb. I have the 18 yo at 72, the 21 at 69, and the 25 at 70, now it’s not unseen that the youngsters would be fresher, hence better. Colour: gold, but moves like syrup. Nose: we do find echoes of cane juice, as well as overripe fruits (couldn’t tell you which ones) and molasses. A little cardboard too. It’s kind of okay so far. Mouth: ethanol, molasses, tinned pineapples, cardboard, corn syrup, sugar. Rather hard when neat, ice is probably mandatory here, but that’s not in our processes, I’m afraid. Finish: very short, a little bitter and sour beyond the sugar. Bitter grass. Comments: rather soulless but as we often say, we’ve tasted worse spirits. A shame that the name would lead many people to believe it’s Cuban.
SGP:640 – 60 points.

Right, specialist rums are already asked at the table… Like, Hampden vs. Worthy Park…

Hampden 10 yo 2007/2018 (62.5%, Hunter Laing for The Whisky Barrel, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 270 bottles)

Hampden 10 yo 2007/2018 (62.5%, Hunter Laing for The Whisky Barrel, Kill Devil, Jamaica, 270 bottles) Four stars
A recent one at 64.1% was rather fantastic (WF 90). Colour: white wine. Nose: kerosene, UHU glue, fermenting grass, ink, and picked capers. Assassins! With water: fermenting plums, and I mean, really that. Just fermented and distilled some damsons last week, and indeed the ‘wine’ used to smell exactly like this. Mouth (neat): huge. Concentrated lime juice, varnish, olive brine, and pipe tobacco (that’s right, chewed). Murderers! With water: extreme smoky and almost acetone-y olive brine. Finish: very long, very salty and, well, still rather acetone-y. Comments: an infernal bone-dry Hampden, on the far end of the spectrum. Crazy rum, not for your mother-in-law’s Christmas. Unless, of course…
SGP:173 - 87 points.

And so Worthy Park 12 yo 2006/2018 (57.9%, The Duchess, cask #4)

And so Worthy Park 12 yo 2006/2018 (57.9%, The Duchess, cask #4) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: gentler, less extreme than that Hampden, more complex as well, with some smoky earthiness, no acetone this time, rather a feeling of smoked banana cake, cigar ashes, a mild oliveness, and whiffs of camphor and eucalyptus wood. With water: the varnish comes out, together with more very lovely earthy tones and fermenting tropical fruits. A combo that always works very perfectly. Mouth (neat): very unusual this time, with notes of grappa and marc de Bourgogne at first (not égrappé/destemmed), and only then cane, olives, and lemon, then liquorice and a touch of tar. With water: really, marc. And then, indeed, olives and tarry liquorice. Some sides remind me of that crazy thing that Silver Seal did, called Grhum. Which is grappa finished in ex-rum wood. Finish: rather long, funnily grape-y, and then appropriately olive-y. Comments: totally up my alley – and indeed it’s fun. One to poor blind – not saying it’s a real eye-opener though (ooh that was utterly lame, S.!)
SGP:362 - 88 points.

More heavy hitters…

Diamond 2003/2018 'MDK' (61.5%, Old Brothers, 2018)

Diamond 2003/2018 'MDK' (61.5%, Old Brothers, 2018) Four stars
This one by these passionate wee French indie bottlers that are rather trans-spirits, and seem to prefer bazooka boozes (too late, I’ve just registered that brand name - not). Colour: pale straw (picture, a mock-up bottle). Nose: fresh sugarcane juice and genuine vanilla pods in perfect sync. That’s pretty all but that’s already a lot. Water may unleash the cavalry, let’s see… With water: indeed, the esters are showing now, with the expected olives, green tea from last week that’s starting to kind of ferment in the pot, notes of bicycle inner tubes (I’ve been told they don’t do bicycle inner tubes anymore; I’m asking you, what has the world come to?)… Mouth (neat): terrific, very punchy, on sugarcane juice, oranges, touches of hay, and banana skins. With water: once again, the esters are coming through, while they would all be of the grassier kind. Olives and lawn. Finish: long, sharp, grassy. Lime and weizenbier in the aftertaste. Comments: a rather brutal Diamond that really needs H2O – and a proper pipette.
SGP:462 - 85 points.

Fiji 2009/2018 'FSPA' (63.3%, Old Brothers, 2018)

Fiji 2009/2018 'FSPA' (63.3%, Old Brothers, 2018) Five stars
More bazooka-y matters, I suppose… And stuff from South Pacific Distillers, most probably. Not sure there’s any other distillery in Fiji anyway, but they have great rugby players, have they not? Colour: white wine (picture of mock-up bottle). Nose: this really could be mistaken for some of the esteriest Long Ponds, really. Cucumbers, olives, glues and polish removers, seawater, new magazines and books, and fresh almonds. With water: more on lemons, which is always nice and good. Oyster juice. Mouth (neat): so good! These partially dirty Fijians could educate the Jamaicans (okay, pushing things a bit), as this is just perfectly sooty, lemony, tarry and briny. Perfect freshness. Perfect. With water: absolutely excellent, tense, lemony, salty, coastal, with just the right amount of tar and natural rubber. Finish: very long, on the same flavours. Perhaps a touch of lovage. Comments: defeats the Diamond in my book. A drop of this in your glass of Cubaney 5 yo and presto, proper rum! (indeed, I just tried that).
SGP:363 - 90 points.

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

 

December 1, 2018


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Back to the duos
Let’s have a few more humble head to head pairings today. Sticking mostly around Speyside if you please...

 

Aberlour 12 yo 1987/2000 (62.4%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 222 bottles) Aberlour 12 yo 1987/2000 (62.4%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 222 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: hot and chalky. Typical Cadenhead AC and as expected. A few gooseberries and cider apples. Let’s just go straight to water... With water: cooking oils, white asparagus, dried earth, dry cereals, aspirin. Good clean distillate but typically tough and brittle. Mouth: even at full strength there’s some nice notes of straw, yellow flowers, horseradish and hessian. Although, globally it’s still pretty hot and peppery. Again, let’s not be shy with the water... With water: honey and lemon, ginger ale, caraway, heather ale, a little star anise. It’s at its best on the palate with water I’d say. Although, it still remains a dram you’d probably struggle to have more than one of. Finish: Good length but a tad acrid, flinty and tough. Wee glimmers of white fruits. Comments: Nice enough, but a challenging whisky. No easy thrills here. A very ‘of its time’ bottling.
SGP: 351 - 78 points.
 

 

Aberlour 20 yo 1997/2018 (59.1%, OB ‘Distillery Reserve Collection’, cask #9057, sherry butt, 1056 bottles) Aberlour 20 yo 1997/2018 (59.1%, OB ‘Distillery Reserve Collection’, cask #9057, sherry butt, 1056 bottles)
From one of these distillery exclusive 50cl bottlings that Pernod do. Colour: light amber. Nose: Another world away from the Cadenhead. This is an abundance of lemony treacle, nougat, ripe plums, pears baked in Calvados, lime cordial, hessian, juicy fruits, hints of French mustard and wild strawberries. Really excellent and slightly unusual in good way. With water: more nougat notes, ginger, baking soda, crushed tea biscuits, dried leaves, rolling tobacco and a wee hint of sage. Mouth: white port, custard, soot, cloves, damp earth and linseed oil. Starts extremely well but gets perhaps a tad too extractive and almondy for my liking. Feels like it has been in one of these very modern ‘seasoned’ sherry casks. With water: water seems to enhance this bitter side. Becomes really quite extractive   and tough now. Green wood, pencil shavings and sawdust. Finish: rather long but also a bit hot and again extractive and bitter. Comments: To think that when I first nosed it I was thinking potentially 90 material. Just goes to show what can happen. Really feels like the distillate suffered from some hyper active oak treatment. Over the top and imbalanced I’d say. Although not without its merits - the neat nose was very lovely.
SGP: 541 - 79 points.
 

 

Poor Aberlour, usually a winner in my book. Sadly not today. Let’s see if Glen Elgin will come to the rescue...  

 

Glen Elgin 22 yo 1995/2018 (50.8%, Acorn ‘Natural Malt Selection’, cask #3218, Hogshead) Glen Elgin 22 yo 1995/2018 (50.8%, Acorn ‘Natural Malt Selection’, cask #3218, Hogshead)
Colour: light gold. Nose: simple, easy, rather lush fruitiness that touches on ripe green apples, pears, gooseberry, melon and star fruit. Soft grasses, cereals, green tea, white mushrooms and eldeflower cordial. Humble and very beautiful mid-aged Glen Elgin - I defy anyone not to enjoy this style. With water: gets a little drier and leafier. More towards soda bread, soft tobacco notes, citrus peels and freshly malted barley. Mouth: the same, fruits, honeys, trail mix, sultana, dried apple rings, green banana, custard made with marsala wine, lemon jelly, gin and tonic sorbet. Sweet, fruity, malty, light and lovey. With water: muesli, trail mix, crystallised garden fruits, golden syrup, shortbread and apple tart tatin. Finish: good length, rather lemony, lemon barley water, gooseberry compote, custard creams and vanilla tablet. Comments: It doesn’t have a huge amount to say, but it says it with such easy charm and elegance that it’s hard to find fault. Simple and extremely enjoyable malt whisky.
SGP: 631 - 87 points.
 

 

Glen Elgin 22 yo 1978/2000 (53.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #4539, 298 bottles) Glen Elgin 22 yo 1978/2000 (53.3%, Signatory Vintage, cask #4539, 298 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: it’s surprising how close we are here to the Acorn. This same lush and simple green fruity profile. Only here it’s a little deeper, a little fatter, a little sweeter with this bigger, more lavish honeyed character and tad more waxy. More subtle as well with wee notes of lemon pie, sweetened cereals, camphor, olive oil and some kind of lightly sooty butterscotch. Excellent! With water: drier, more herbal, more waxy, notes of petrichor, mint and tobacco leaf and a little cod liver oil. Mouth: Ooft! Superb fatness with a remarkable medicinal edge. Really there are some beautiful notes of embrocations, ointments, herbal peat, lemon jelly, eucalyptus toothpaste, mint julep, demerara rum and cloves. Then lots of crystalised, resinous and glazed fruits underneath. Sultanas, apples, plums and fig. There’s a sense of good old bottle effect about this one as well, these drier and slightly oily edges that move towards metal polish and dry wax begin to emerge. Hessian sack cloth and dunnage. Just superb! With water: syrupy, gloopy, waxy perfection. Heather honey, hessian, lemon oils, tiger balm. Beautiful! Finish: long, full of soft waxes, metal polish, lime zest, crystalised fruits, pollen and blossoms. Comments: Just brilliant old Glen Elgin, a tad closed at first but it blossomed superbly and those notes of medicine on the palate were just wonderful. A total gem! It was also interesting to note a few aspects which verged on good old bottle effect, not unlike some old Cadenhead dumpies. The 2000? Really? I feel old, let’s hope it’s my imagination.
SGP: 662 - 91 points.
 

 

Glenrothes 17 yo 2001/2018 (53.0%, Cadenhead Small Batch, two hogsheads, 528 bottles) Glenrothes 17 yo 2001/2018 (53.0%, Cadenhead Small Batch, two hogsheads, 528 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: Porridge, parsley, muesli and aspirin, which is of course the title of the new Simon & Garfunkel album... I’m sorry. But really this is all cereals, chalk, dry citrus, oats, fresh chopped herbs and wee sooty touches. Really lovely distillate, extremely clean and very approachable. With water: lightly menthol now with white flowers, chestnuts, pistachio and toasted macadamias - rather nutty in general actually. Some shredded coconut into the bargain. Mouth: Along the same lines as the nose only with more greenery and honey. Notes like apples of the cider and toffee varieties. Some teenage Calvados, marmite, sourdough, lemon cheesecake, honeyed oatmeal, flapjack and dried apricots. Very bready, cerealy and soft with these light green fruit notes. Very nice. With water: leafiness, light icing sugar sweetness, herbal resins, lychee jam, nettles, pea soup and caraway. All very lovely. Finish: long, earthy and becoming waxier with these slightly dry cereal notes, distant heather honey and more dried white flowers. Comments: A rather compelling and very good Glenrothes. Worth seeking out.
SGP: 551 - 86 points.
 

 

Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2018 (48.2%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt) Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2018 (48.2%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt)
I’ve always enjoyed the ducks on Whisky-Fassle’s bottlings. Colour: deep amber. Nose: wet earth, wild mushrooms, petrichor, coal dust, leaf mulch and bitter chocolate. Some rather luscious old school sherry at work here. Also rather a lot of wild strawberries, strawberry wine, strawberry jam. Strawberries basically. Maybe a freeze dried raspberry or three as well. Some old cognac, liquorice root, fennel, turmeric and beef stock. In fact it becomes increasingly meaty over time with notes of cured hams, game meats and mutton. Pretty excellent, compelling sherried Glenrothes. Mouth: big and jammy, lots of stewed sultanas, raisins, plum sauce, star anise, cranberry gravy and prune juice. A few red and dark fruits vying for attention. Plum wine, strawberry liqueur, old mead and plenty more liquorice, getting saltier this time. Finish: long, earthy and full of aniseed, fennel, liquorice, mint, raspberry jam and clove throat sweets. Comments: If you’re looking for a wintry sherry bomb that doesn’t strip your gums out, you could do a lot worse than this wee beauty. The strength is just perfect.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.
 

 

Glendronach 13 yo 2004/2017 (55.4%, OB, cask #3342, port pipe, 643 bottles) Glendronach 13 yo 2004/2017 (55.4%, OB, cask #3342, port pipe, 643 bottles)
No word on whether this is a full term maturation or a re-rack. But the colour is...frightening. Colour: deep rose wine. Nose: raisiny plum sauce, fruit loops, strawberry jam, candy floss, mirabelle, damson chutney and a big swig of children’s cough medicine. Not really my style to be honest. With water: a tad more savoury, some sugared pastries, clove drops, red fruit teas and a hint of Listerine mouthwash. Mouth: sweet and sharp. Like red tart red berries, unripe cider apples and fruits of the forest yoghurt. Some cherry throat sweets, limeade, Ribena, milk chocolate and juicy fruit chewing gum. The port feels rather OTT and little imbalanced. With water: jasmine, orchard fruits, chocolate, winter mulling spices, blood orange and fruit loaf. Nicer with water but still a bit too chalk and cheese for me. Finish: Medium and a bit prickly. Spiced dark fruits, ovaltine, chocolate spread, peanuts and more sugary drinks like Tizer and red cola. Comments: Never been a fan of port or red wine and whisky. This one hasn’t really altered that perspective. It’s just not balanced in my view.
SGP: 631 - 76 points.
 

 

Glendronach 26 yo 1992/2018 (56.7%, OB for Whisky Online, cask #220, sherry butt) Glendronach 26 yo 1992/2018 (56.7%, OB for Whisky Online, cask #220, sherry butt)
Interestingly enough Glendronach are now labelling these releases as ‘cask bottlings’, rather than single casks. A reference to the fact that a fair bit of re-racking no doubt goes on. Although, as I understand it, that isn’t the case with this one. Colour: deep amber. Nose: indeed this does smell like a classical and rather delicious old school sherry cask with these immediate notes of hessian dipped in dark chocolate.
 

 

An extremely charming mix of black cherries, damp wine cellars, sultanas, figs and various other dark fruit notes. Some Dundee cake topped with walnuts and a fair waft of rancio. In time it moves towards cigars, pipe tobacco and good espresso. Simply another very good mid-aged Glendronach. With water: more leathery, more hessian notes, more ‘unified’ so to speak and still bristling with plenty classical earthy and fruity old sherry notes. Mouth: peppery and slightly hot at first. Lots of sharp red fruits, some fruity red chilli and paprika notes alongside tree bark, burnt raisins, bitter chocolate, freshly toasted brown bread and a kind of composty earthiness. The sherry is rather big, boisterous and slightly salty - a kind of marmite note which I rather like. Continues with nutmeg, black tea with lemon slices and some miso broth with truffle. With water: more spicy, peppery and sharp tingly notes. A rather powerful and potent spiciness - almost becomes bigger with water. Still plenty of dark chocolate and dunnage earthiness along with mulled wine, treacle sponge cake, lime sweets and smoked tea. Finish: rather long, leathery, spicy and hefty. Still with this slightly chilli-edged sharpness that rides through to the aftertaste. Comments: I really like it, only these slightly sharper edges prevent me from going higher. Although, I suspect that people who adore these old Glendronach sherry beasts will lap this up like a carefully positioned grizzly bear over a salmon ladder...
SGP: 561 - 87 points.
 

 

 

Whiskyfun fav of the month

November 2018

Serge's favourite recent bottling:
Unicorn 30 yo 1988/2018 (43%, CWS China, Myths and Legends, First Fill Oloroso Sherry Butt, cask #22, 630 bottles) - WF 92

Serge's favourite older bottling:
Scapa 1958/1985 (46%, Samaroli, 180 bottles)  - WF 94

Serge's favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Ballechin 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2014) - WF 89

Serge's favourite malternative:
Enmore 30 yo 1988/2018 (47.9%, Silver Seal, Demerara, 150cl)   - WF 92
 

November 30, 2018


Whiskyfun

Three wee Strathmill

We’re seeing even more Strathmill out there these days, as we actually do with almost all second or third-tier distillery names. First, let’s have a young Strathmill that should let the distillate shine…

Strathmill 9 yo (59%, James Eadie, recharred hogshead, cask #806273, 258 bottles, 2018)

Strathmill 9 yo (59%, James Eadie, recharred hogshead, cask #806273, 258 bottles, 2018) Two stars and a half
These recharred hoggies usually impart bigger vanilla notes. Colour: white wine. Nose: really raw and spirity at first nosing, extremely grassy, and wouldn’t change much over time. I guess water’s needed. With water: gets even grassier. A touch of mud, porridge, and yeah, cut grass. Mouth (neat): fairer, fruitier, very very (and I mean very) eau-de-vie de barley. Plum spirit, limejuice, cider apple, vanilla, orange squash, more eau-de-vie, tutti-frutti style. With water: water works well, we have some nicer apple brandy with drops of limoncello and always a fair share of grass. Lemon sweets. Less vanilla than I had expected. Finish: medium, burns a bit, still very tutti-frutti eau-de-vie. Williams pear in the aftertaste. Comments: rather pleasant, this young raw eau-de-vie de barley, but indeed it’s not quite Bowmore 1966.
SGP:551 - 78 points.

Strathmill 25 yo 1993/2018 (49.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 216 bottles)

Strathmill 25 yo 1993/2018 (49.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 216 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: this very grassy style again, but the years have worked their magic and made this raw baby rounder and subtler, while the oak’s added notes of coconut balls, banana sweets, and perhaps wee whiffs of rose petals. Very nice touches of newly sawn fresh oak in the back. With water: impeccable, with more fresh marzipan this time, fir liqueur, Japanese red bean paste (anko)… Mouth (neat): really good! It’s almost as if some mad soul had blended Chartreuse with limoncello and crème de menthe. Sure you could try that at home. Add a little honey and natural vanilla essence for good measure. With water: more a fresh fruit salad. Pears, apples, bananas, peaches… Very nice, I would say. Finish: medium, rather more on oranges, which always works. Comments: not an earth-shattering malt whisky, but I’m not sure any Strathmill is or was. Very good, very fruity, very easy.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Strathmill 26 yo 1992/2018 (44.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel)

Strathmill 26 yo 1992/2018 (44.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 198 bottles) Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: same-ish, just even fruitier, lush, fresh… Acacia honey, various preserved fruits (certainly plums), drops of green tea, custard, coconut water, pink bananas… Mouth: well you could believe this is some Irish single malt if you’re not paying attention. Jell-O and marshmallow at first, then the same very fruity things that we had found in the lovely nose. Fruit salad, light honeys, poached peaches, wine gums, a touch of grapefruit peel that would add a pleasant wee bitterness. Finish: medium, very fresh and fruity, a tad more on citrus this time. Same notes of peels in the aftertaste, which works extremely well. Comments: not very complicated, but rather adorable. Watch your intakes.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

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

 

November 29, 2018


Whiskyfun

A few Blair Athol, gently

Blair Athol’s not the biggest malt ever, but the OBs from 30, 40 or 50 years ago could be rather stunning, with a very singular fruitiness. Let’s see what we have on the table today…

Blair Athol 20 yo 1997/2018 (54.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill American hogshead, 255 bottles)

Blair Athol 20 yo 1997/2018 (54.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill American hogshead, 255 bottles) Two stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: light and alpine, really. Meaning that I’m finding whiffs of gentian, genepy, verbena, and truckloads of pears. Not that pears are particularly alpine, mind you. With water: grains, cereals, popcorns, barley. Allllllright then. Mouth (neat): it’s a fruity malt, a tad spirity, with apples, pears, and quite some fruity hops, IPA-style. Not mindboggling so far, but fair. With water: same. Sweet, malty, easy, a tad marshmallowy. It’s just that there isn’t a lot happening, it’s just good malt whisky. Finish: a tad short, malty and grainy. Touches of breakfast honey. Comments: love 95% of what G&M are doing these days (we're not tasting price tags anyway) and this one’s pretty good but just… A little mundane? MOTR? Unnoticeable? Unnecessary?
SGP:541 - 78 points.

Blair Athol 19 yo 1998/2017 (54.7%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular for SCSM China, sherry butt, cask #11637, 289 bottles)

Blair Athol 19 yo 1998/2017 (54.7%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular for SCSM China, sherry butt, cask #11637, 289 bottles) Two stars and a half
 Wondering if little WF isn’t getting Asia-centric these days. Which is a pleasant feeling, I have to say. Colour: gold. Nose: nope, not at this point. Closed, raw, ethanoly, shy. Havana Club’s got more body, which says a lot. With water: dough, baguette, porridge. For breakfast, perhaps? Mouth (neat): okay, good malt and lemon and sourdough and brioche, but that is pretty all. Wee bits of grapefruit, perhaps. With water: pears, marshmallows, and… and? Finish: medium, a tad sweet and a tad thin. Dried pears. Comments: the other malts for SCSM I’ve tried so far have been much more talkative and interesting, while this little Blair Athol is just, well, good-not-great. Well, it is malt whisky.
SGP:441 - 79 points.

Not much luck with Blair Athol today… Perhaps another try?

Blair Athol 30 yo 1988/2018 (51.4%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask)

Blair Athol 30 yo 1988/2018 (51.4%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask) Four stars and a half
Of course older means better! Oh and don’t Maltbarn have some of the nicest whisky labels these days? Wonderful job with the labels, Martin! And they’re all original, which is even better. 100 times better. Colour: gold. Nose: f**k it, this is a whole different league. Sour fruit bread, fermenting figs, pumpernickel, heather honey, mead, real ale… This is Prince after the Rubettes. With water: exceptional, totally pure fruity and bready maltiness. Maybe I’m amazed, as someone would have said (tsk, lame again, S.) Mouth (neat): yeah, there. Sour fruits, fruit wines, dried figs (really lorryloads), Christstolle. Indeed, f**k it (they’ll jail me one day). With water: perfect, but careful, please don’t add too much water. Two drops will do, or it would fall apart. Kind of. Finish: medium, malty, beautifully fermentary, bready… This is well distilled bear. Comments: indeed, a whole different league, but it almost hates water.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Perhaps a last one for that famous road…

Blair Athol 1991/2017 ‘Apple Blossom’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 298 bottles)

Blair Athol 1991/2017 ‘Apple Blossom’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 298 bottles) Three stars and a half
Probably not a very disruptive malt whisky, but don’t we all hate that stoopid new word, ‘disruptive’? Colour: pale gold. Nose: go to orchard, take apples and pears. Press, take juice. Add liquid caramel and popcorn. Mix, nose. There. Mouth: good and easy. Apple juice, cider, pears, vanilla, tea. Finish: medium, on good fruits, pears, plums, apples, malt. Comments: really good. Have I used the word good already? Now last time I checked, apple blossom don’t exhale mucho. Good but me thinks me tasted better Blair Athols by Wemyss before, just saying.
SGP:441 - 80 points.

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

 

November 28, 2018


Whiskyfun

Some fun with Loch Lomond

Only a few years back we just wouldn’t have ‘touched’ anything from Loch Lomond’s, or only for the sake of maniacal research. But things have changed, first thanks to an extraordinary old Rosdhu by Murray McDavid, and then because of some much improved officials that started to come out around three or four years ago. But remember Loch Lomond actually harbor several sets of stills, so one could claim that they’re actually several distilleries, kind of amalgamated. We would mention Loch Lomond as such (grain and malt), but also Inchmoan, Inchfad, Old Rosdhu, Croftengea, Inchmurrin and Craiglodge…

Loch Lomond (46%, OB, single grain, 2016)

Loch Lomond (46%, OB, single grain, 2016) Two stars and a half
Right, I’m not holding my breath, but you never know… Now remember they use only malted barley for these grain whiskies… We’ve already tried a recent Lomond grain but that one had a cream label. Not too sure about the differences… Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s got rather more body than your average young grain whisky, with pleasant whiffs of toasted white bread, green apples, gooseberries, and vanillin. It’s all rather delicate, not dull and not totally ‘silent’. Mouth: fine! More popcorn this time, vanilla, limoncello, a touch of vanilla fudge, icing sugar, sugarcane syrup, touches of tinned pineapples… Finish: a little short, but clean and not ‘absent’. Bitterer aftertaste, with some green tannicity. Comments: really fair, I would say. A rather bolder grain.
SGP:540 - 78 points.

Inchmurrin (46%, OB, Island Collection, Madeira finish, 2015)

Inchmurrin (46%, OB, Island Collection, Madeira finish, 2015) Two stars and a half
First time I’m trying one of these NAS Inchmurrins. I guess the word ‘Island’ refers to the wine, not to the whisky. Smart! No, seriously, it's related to those small islands on Loch Lomond. Colour: gold. Nose: whiffs of copper, old coins, passion fruit, chamomile, sour apples, then fresh sawdust. It’s relatively elegant, and more fermentary than the grain (eh, obviously). Mouth: unusual for sure. Sage and caraway mixed with custard and apple juice, I would say. Some porridge, ginger cookies, spicy bread… That’s the oak I suppose. Another one that’s fair. Finish: medium, pretty much all on oak spices, chiefly ginger and nutmeg, as well as the obligatory slightly heavy vanilla. Comments: another good dram that’s seen quite some active oak. No complains here.
SGP:551 - 79 points.

Inchmurrin 18 yo (46%, OB, Island Collection, 2015)

Inchmurrin 18 yo (46%, OB, Island Collection, 2015) Three stars
The previous ‘black silkscreened’ OB was good (WF 80). I think these new ones are a little expensive, but there… Colour: gold. Nose: same style as that of the NAS, just bigger as far as metallic/copper notes are concerned. Some nice camphory touches in the background, agave, young calvados… And oriental bread plus Seville oranges. Intriguing and nice. Mouth: indeed, this is better despite that oak that’s a tad loud. Quite some re-racking must have taken place (I wager). Otherwise apples and mangos, custard, vanilla fudge, and a little white chocolate. Finish: medium, rather more on speculoos and nutmeg. The oak speaking out again. Comments: it’s got something clearly modern (American oak) and it’s well made. No contradictions here, mind you!
SGP:551 - 81 points.

Loch Lomond 18 yo (46%, OB, 2016)

Loch Lomond 18 yo (46%, OB, 2016) Two stars
I know, being late again… Colour: gold. Nose: not much, the Inchmurrins had much more to tell us. Vanillin, sawdust, lactones, fresh baguette, cornflakes, furniture polish and beeswax… That’s all jolly nice, but it’s a pretty narrow profile, I would say. Mouth: vanilla, apple juice, slivovitz, wholegrain bread, and quite some oak tannins. I think the oak feels too much here, gimme back my Inchmurrins! Finish: a little nicer, meaning fruitier. Perhaps a touch of smoke, not too sure. Wood smoke. Comments: it’s pleasant, and it defeats many a blend, but as a proper single malt, it feels a tad too vanilla-ed to me.
SGP:441 - 76 points.

And so back to Inchmurrin (aren’t we very single-minded?)…

Inchmurrin 10 yo 2007/2018 (53.5%, Kintra, 1st fill bourbon, 234 bottles)

Inchmurrin 10 yo 2007/2018 (53.5%, Kintra, 1st fill bourbon, 234 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: more’s the word here. More mangos, more fresh bread, more fudge, more ripe apples, and more cappuccino. All is well so far. With water: same, just fruitier and brighter. Mouth (neat): very good, with mangos, Danishes, apricots, and just touches of fresh oak. No complains here. With water: a little more fresh oak coming out again, together with some ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and all the rest. A pattern, it seems. Finish: medium, a tad tannic but the fruits are there to keep it very well balanced. Comments: feels modern, but that’s no real problem when the works were properly done.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Inchmurrin 13 yo 2004/2018 (50.3%, OB for The Whisky Mercenary, cask #2231, 230 bottles)

Inchmurrin 13 yo 2004/2018 (50.3%, OB for The Whisky Mercenary, cask #2231, 230 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: a good step up, we’re now finding fresher, clearer mangos and maracujas, some pinewood smoke, a touch of school glue, lovely whiffs of torrefaction (coffee being roasted), and some proper chocolate. Lovely, really, with no ‘modern’ oak in the way this time. With water: a little mint. Not sure water’s needed by the way. Mouth (neat): yes sir, this works a treat – and frankly and between us, I’d have never said ‘Loch Lomond’. Mango ice cream, barley sugar, honeysuckle, orange blossom water… Not a throwaway in the bunch. With water: excellent. Same combo, plus more fruity herbal teas. Finish: medium, a little more on orange cake. All this orange blossom is still there, while I do love that. Comments: indeed it is a surprise. Terrific Inchmurrin, extremely well selected (don’t tell me it was all done from spreadsheets!)
SGP:641 - 88 points.

Let’s try an older one (indeed, this could have been an Inchmurrin session)…

Inchmurrin 23 yo 1993/2016 (56.5%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #2854, 260 bottles)

Inchmurrin 23 yo 1993/2016 (56.5%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #2854, 260 bottles) Three stars
Some sister casks were pretty good. Colour: gold. Nose: unusual, in a pleasant way. A touch of young Comté cheese, then dandelions, vanilla, custard, fresh oak, and just wee whiffs of ink, or new book. Some white chocolate as well, is that an Inchmurrin thing? With water: it offsets almost everything, leaving us with vanilla and sawdust. So, please no waters. Mouth (neat): excellent, it’s just that the Mercenary was even more to my liking. This one’s got notes of oak-aged limoncello, if you see what I mean. With water: indeed, water’s not very necessary. Sawdust, vanilla… Drop that, if I may! Finish: medium, very nice and fresh when unreduced, almost plankish when reduced down to approx. 45%. Comments: you got it, keep your water for the geraniums.
SGP:451 - 82 points.

Time to put an end, perhaps with a wee peater?

Croftengea 10 yo 2007/2017 (56.6%, Jack Wiebers, Fighting Fish, bourbon, 324 bottles)

Croftengea 10 yo 2007/2017 (56.6%, Jack Wiebers, Fighting Fish, bourbon, 324 bottles) Four stars
Fighting fish? And why not? Colour: white wine. Nose: young ex-bourbon Ardbeg, with just a little more porridge and beer… for a while. Then dirtier, tarrier notes of burning wood, barbecued lambchops, cactus, and geranium leaves indeed. A bit odd, pleasantly so. With water: store closed. Really. Barley and wood smoke. Mouth (neat): what we would call ‘sweet peat’. Distilled IPA (who’s going to try that? Brewdog?), pears, elderflower jelly, fresh cardamom… It’s really unusual. With water: very good now! Smoked almonds, citrons, marzipan… Finish: quite long, almondy, yet fresh and citrusy. Something oriental, hard to describe. Oh, yes, aniseed, raki, ouzo and such stuff. Comments: a lot of fun to be had with some – not all – of these Croftengeas. Shall we call them ‘pleasantly deviant peaters’?
SGP:5556 - 86 points.

Bonus, a last minute entry from Israel

Inchmoan 14 yo 2004/2018 (52.4%, OB, for Holy Dram IL, bourbon hogshead, cask #68, 220 bottles)

Inchmoan 14 yo 2004/2018 (52.4%, OB, for Holy Dram IL, bourbon hogshead, cask #68, 220 bottles) Four stars
Nothing to moan about here, I’m sure, Inchmoan being one of the peated version of Loch Lomond. Colour: gold. Nose: very peculiar, rather on a lot of grass smoke, garden bonfire, tincture of iodine, fermenting kelp on a beach, then a little vinegar, cumin, green peppercorns and cider apples. It’s a rather unusual smoky/sour profile. Sour fruits, paraffin. With water: very nice, on lit cigars and rather more paraffin, linseed oil, used engine oil… Mouth (neat): it is more ‘normal’ on the palate, very smoky, slightly acrid and pungent, with huge amounts of grapefruits and lemons. Green tropical fruits (star fruits, perhaps), grass, leaves, lemon peels, juniper… With water: more towards fresh tropical fruits (maracuja), with a little salt and a bright earthiness. Reminds me of that slightly challenging celeriac eau-de-vie that some crazy Alsatian distillers are making when no one ‘s watching. Finish: long, green, smoky. Green mustard, even wasabi in the aftertaste… Comments: not a copy of any Islayers, not at all. I’m rather fond of this very green smoky baby, I have to say.
SGP:376 - 87 points.

(Many thanks, Gal and Lucero!)

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

 

November 26, 2018


Whiskyfun

Perhaps a few Scapa

We're trying Highland Park very often (WF's counter reads +/-450 tasting notes) but Scapa's much more sporadic, I would say. Time to remedy the situation...

Scapa 2005/2017 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label)

Scapa 2005/2017 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label) Three stars and a half
Still the older livery, and of course some are getting a bit nostalgic. Not us. Colour: straw. Nose: very fresh, on green fruits. Mostly gooseberries and kiwis, I would say, with touches of soot and coal smoke in the background, as well as a little lime. You could make a Scottish margarita out of this one. Mouth: same kind of combo, plus more vanilla. Kiwis, smoke, gooseberries, rhubarb, lime, a touch of salt... Indeed this Scapa's rather saltier than others. Finish: medium, rather more peppery this time. White pepper, a touch of leather. Comments: really fresh and good, with good coastal character. Got to love the old ship label.
SGP:552 - 84 points.

Scapa 2005/2017 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW 60th Anniversary, barrel, cask #438, 336 bottles)

Scapa 2005/2017 (45%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW 60th Anniversary, barrel, cask #438, 336 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: a slightly smokier batch, more mineral as well, and more medicinal to boot. We're even closer to the Atlantic, in short. Kiwis are there too, as well as rhubarb. An adorable freshness, with even touches of waxes coming through. Acacia gum. Mouth: really a bolder and fresher expression, even if we're very close to the large batch, obviously. Lime peel, green melons, brine, hoppy pils, pine sap and just a touch of fresh coriander. Finish: medium, very fresh, coastal. You could make an even better Scottish margarita out of this one. More pepper again in the aftertaste. Comments: fresh!
SGP:552 - 86 points.

Scapa 23 yo 1992/2015 (58.4%, OB, Chivas Bros, Distillery Reserve Collection, butt, cask #1069, 780 bottles)

Scapa 23 yo 1992/2015 (58.4%, OB, Chivas Bros, Distillery Reserve Collection, butt, cask #1069, 780 bottles) Three stars and a half
Some robust, almost tart whiskies in this understated official series. Pernod's Rare Malts, if you will. Colour: gold. Nose: well, I was wrong, this is all fruits and syrups at first nosing, and despite the higher strength. A fruit salad with fresh melons and pears, tinned pineapples, green apples, and only then a tartier development, on concentrated lemon juice and green malt. With water: varnish, wine vinegar, green apples. It got narrower and greener indeed, but without the coastal side that was in the G&Ms. Mouth (neat): very strong, starting with a little glue and vinegar (no worries, just touches), getting then a little marshmallowy, with an acrid oak in the background. Very sharp. With water: yes, that worked this time. Sour apples, vanilla, acacia honey, hawthorn tea, melon skin, lime. Finish: long, very vertical, on lime and green tea. Comments: not a very easy one this time, it's been quite some work. Sharp style, less smoky.
SGP:461 - 83 points.

Scapa 30 yo 1988/2018 (53.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon barrel, cask #10585, 148 bottles)

Scapa 30 yo 1988/2018 (53.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon barrel, cask #10585, 148 bottles) Four stars
This one's brand new. As I understand it, as soon as a malt's 30 or more, it now goes into some kind of ueber-Connoisseurs Choice category, with wooden boxes and all that. Colour: gold. Nose: this one's really very leafy for a few seconds, more so than the OB, but it gets then frankly rounder, more honeyed, cakier, and rather more mentholy. Whiffs of Vicks Vapo Rub - some Vicks that some mad scientist would have aged in active oak. With water: leaves and moss, some sour wood. Mouth (neat): it's rather oak-driven and that would be mentholated oak, should that exist. Green tea, eucalyptus, lime, fruit skins, fresh walnuts, manzanilla, a wee drop of mustard... Indeed all this is very dry and green, which I certainly enjoy. With water: similar. Lovely grassy bitterness, most fresh and tense. Not a lot of salt this time. Finish: long, on more leaves and green spices, pepper, cardamom, green curry, aniseed, fennel, lime... Marzipan in the aftertaste. Comments: this one's excellent. I've even considered trying it as a highball, I'm sure that would work just as well as with Port Ellen ;-).

SGP:461 - 87 points.

Why not a much older one?

Scapa 1958/1985 (46%, Samaroli, 180 bottles)

Scapa 1958/1985 (46%, Samaroli, 180 bottles) Five stars
Angus, that little bugger, managed to jump my queue with this one, so to speak. Apparently, he just adored it back in August this year (WF 95!). Please note that the picture is that of the 452% version. Colour: gold. Nose: yes, sure, it's hard to beat uch a perfect composition. Wonderful whiffs of moss after a rain, old herbal liqueurs, pine cones, old tools, leather polish, copper coins, a grassy and oily smoke (burning seaweed, I would guess), waxed fabric somewhere on an old ship, old unguents, beeswax... In short, a perfect style. Mouth: game, set and match. Extraordinary herbal and pine-y notes, more ointments, dried porcinis, billionaire's cough syrup (I'd wager), angelica, dill and fennel, crystallised citrus, snuff, a drop of olive brine... Oh we could go on and on and on. Marvellous whisky, one of the best there ever was, I would say. The earthiness is just flabbergasting. Finish: long, amazing. Lemon, mint, olives, herbs, honeydew and propolis, very old Chartreuse without all the sugar... Comments: this is simply divine. But you see, I like to argue, so...
SGP:562 - 94 points. Indeed, probably the best Scapa ever.

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

 

November 25, 2018


Whiskyfun

A few mezcals

It’s true, we like mezcal, it’s often quite close to malty territories, hence making for pleasant malternatives. Unless, of course, you dislike olives, earth, and roots. Do you?

Los Cuerudos ‘Reposado 2015’ (38%, OB, mescal)

Los Cuerudos ‘Reposado 2015’ (38%, OB, mescal)
This one was aged for a little less than one year in oak barrels. The brand also have a joven ‘con gusano’, that is to say with a stupid worm inside the bottle. Very bad news to us… Colour: straw. Nose: some slightly bizarre notes of smoked ham at first, some new plastic as well, then some vanilla, pears, overripe bananas and touches of light molasses, probably from the casks. Not the first time I’m thinking that vanilla-y oak plus some robust distillate such as tequila or mescal just wouldn’t fit, unless there’s been some proper long-term aging having taken place. Mouth: not bad, but too strange and dissonant to me. Salted custard, smoked ham, pickled pears, and other bizarre combinations. Finish: medium, smoky, very dry. Salted black tea and cranberry juice – a mistake, surely. Comments: not saying this is bad spirit, not at all, it’s just that it doesn’t tick many boxes in my book. That’s all personal, as you know.
SGP:462 - 62 points.

I think we have a properly aged one in the boxes, hold on…

Nucano ‘Anejo Espadin’ (40%, OB, mezcal, +/-2018)

Nucano ‘Anejo Espadin’ (40%, OB, mezcal, +/-2018) Three stars
This one was aged for five years, which is already a lot by Central American standards. Colour: full gold. Nose: it’s a rather soft mezcal, with a feeling of milk chocolate flavoured with lavender or violets, which gives it a rather tequila-y side. A little fudge as well, butterscotch, cappuccino… It’s got even less raw mezcalness than the Los Cuerudos, but on the other hand, everything’s in place and well-balanced. Mouth: good arrival, agave-y and mildly rooty, with some brine and more violets (or Parfait Amour liqueur), then rather Jaffa cakes and orangettes. Perhaps one small olive in a far distance. Finish: medium, rather on salted chocolate, which works extremely well as soon as some kind of balance has been achieved. Smoky herbs on the aftertaste, and more black tea. Comments: not totally my cup of agave eau-de-vie but I think we’re flying rather high already. Hey, that’s a figure of speech!
SGP:452 - 80 points.

While we’re at Nucano’s, let’s have some of their jovens!…

Nucano ‘Espadin-Cuishe Ensemble’ (45.34%, OB, mezcal, joven, +/-2018)

Nucano ‘Espadin-Cuishe Ensemble’ (45.34%, OB, mezcal, joven, +/-2018) Four stars
We’ve already tried both their pure espadin (WF 82) and their pure cuishe (WF 86) earlier this year. This is, as I understand it, a blend of those two varietals. Colour: white. Nose: you don’t beat a good joven. Perfect notes of soft pickled gherkins, fresh pineapple, green olives, damp beach sand, Brussels sprout, zucchini, and indeed violet sweets (from Toulouse). The whole’s rather elegant, delicate, fragrant, some would say ‘feminine’. Mouth: perfect, flavourful, starting with fennel seeds, pink olives, drops of pastis, a touch of custard, and violets again. Then smokier elements, a wee feeling of peat smoke, lapsang souchong, samphires, green tea, and various herbs. A touch of gentian. Finish: rather long, even earthier, but never rustic. Some well-mannered mezcal. Comments: excellent, flavourful and civilised.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Nucano ‘Espadin-Tobala Ensemble’ (45.7%, OB, mezcal, joven, +/-2018)

Nucano ‘Espadin-Tobala Ensemble’ (45.7%, OB, mezcal, joven, +/-2018) Four stars
Tobala is a small, flavourful wild agave, as far as I can remember. Nucano’s single-varietal tobala is excellent (WF 86). Colour: white. Nose: it’s fruitier for sure, we’re rather wandering throughout a western orchard, with many pears and juicy apples. Very lightly olive-y and earthy, this really seems to be some gentler mescal, for the lounge. Unless… Mouth: there’s more happening on the palate indeed, but it remains rather fruity, and rather less rooty/olive-y indeed. There’s more citrus for sure, rather tangerines than the tartest lemons this time. Agave syrup, a touch of papaya juice, some unexpected wild raspberries. Finish: medium, very fruity, even going towards artisanal marshmallows now. Comments: an easy, posh version that’s delicate and rather easy to quaff. Which do I like best? I couldn’t tell you!
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Perhaps some single varietals?...

Nucano ‘Tepextate’ (46.7%, OB, mezcal, +/-2018)

Nucano ‘Tepextate’ (46.7%, OB, mezcal, joven, +/-2018) Four stars
Tepextate is another wild agave, quite big I think, that grows high in the mountains. I think it’s the first time I’m trying a tepextate. Colour: white. Nose: very different, and rather on fresh vegetables this time. Little brine or olives or smoke, rather fresh French beans and peas this time. Organic, of course. Brilliant nose! Well, looks like I’ll have to try to distil peas one day (stay tuned!) Mouth: very lovely, with more citrus this time, peppermint, chives, a touch of white peach, and once again not a huge mezcalness. Geranium and zucchini flowers. Excellent spirit, if not extremely earthy and, well, mezcaly. Finish: a little short, perhaps, but very good. Rather on grapefruit and violets bonbons. Peels. Gherkins are back in the aftertaste, though (and afternose!) Comments: a different kind of high-quality mezcal. A Rosebank of mezcal, if you like.
SGP:641 - 86 points.

Nucano ‘Arroqueno’ (47%, OB, mezcal, +/-2018)

Nucano ‘Arroqueno’ (47%, OB, mezcal, joven, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
Another varietal I had never heard of before. How many different kinds of wild agaves are there? According to proper websites, Arroqueno’s ‘the mother’ of the cultivated Espadin, and is a huge wild agave that takes more than twenty years to become an adult. It seems that it’s getting rarer these days, thanks to the success of artisan mezcals (who said tequila for hipsters, who?) Colour: white. Nose: really very gentle, this time, and rather floral, with some geranium (which I often find in mezcal) and wisteria. Agave syrup, stewed apricots… It’s really very mild. Mouth: remains floral and fruity, with minimal earthiness and roots. Almost no brine, rather pink grapefruits, greengages, medlars, prickly pears, oranges… Finish: medium, sweet, fruity, a tad syrupy. The smallest olive in the aftertaste. Picholines? Comments: very easy, rather sweet, fruity… Excellent, just a tad too easy for me, as I tend to prefer earthier, smokier mezcals.
SGP:631 - 83 points.

Those excellent Nucanos got gentler as the strengths went up, isn’t that funny? But this is not over…

Alipús ‘San Juan’ (47.5%, OB, mezcal, lot SJR 104/15, 2100 bottles, 2015)

Alipús ‘San Juan’ (47.5%, OB, mezcal, joven, lot SJR 104/15, 2100 bottles, 2015) Four stars
This one’s famously double distilled in small copper pot stills. I think it’s espadin. Colour: white. Nose: immediately wilder, rawer, much more fermentary and even feinty than all Nucanos, earthier, yeastier, more ‘gherkiny’ (I know), kind of acetic, with even touches of acetone and, well, gym socks, mud, musty old fabric… Whether that’s all nice or not will be decided on in a few seconds… Mouth: well, this batch is a wee tad sweeter than expected, but otherwise all is pretty perfect. Cucumber juice, green bananas, olives, grapefruits, gherkins, and a touch of honey that keeps it sweet and rounded. Not an extreme mezcal for sure, but we’ll see if we can find some pechuga… Finish: rather long, a tad less well-chiselled than the high-def Nucanos, but quite perfect. Candied pineapples here and there, with a sweeter aftertaste on, well, candied pineapples. Oh and olives. Comments: just excellent. A gentle wrestler.
SGP:562 - 86 points.

So, pechuga he said…

Pierde Almas ‘Pechuga’ (50.3%, OB, mezcal, joven, lot no. 07-P) Two stars
When making these pechugas once a year in November, the distillers add the breast of a wild turkey inside the still. Not sure they do the same in the US with that famous bourbon, by the way. I have to say I never quite fell in love with any of the (very) few pechugas I’ve tasted so far. Colour: white. Nose: yeah well, there’s some aniseed, fennel and dill, coated with vanilla sauce and genepy, that’s what I’m finding. Absinth and verbena. Did that wild turkey drink something before it was remorselessly slaughtered? Ouzo? Raki? Mouth: what mezcal? This is not mezcal, it is rather herbal liqueur. How very strange! Grapefruits topped with wormwood, liquorice, aniseed, and kummel. Not too sure… Finish: rather long, herbal. Mexican toothpaste? Comments: something strange happened here. I shall have to give a call to Dr. Watson. Could some chicken breast impart so many herbal, almost mentholy notes to a mezcal?
SGP:671 - 74 points.

What was that? Bah, basta cosi, as they say in Oaxaca.

(Gracias Jürgen and Lucero)

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

 

November 23, 2018


Whiskyfun

A few Ballechins by Edradour

We’ve tried some very excellent Edradour the other day, maybe should we also try some Ballechin? That’s right, Ballechin is the name of the peated Edradours…

Ballechin 2011/2018 (59.9%, La Maison du Whisky, 20 Rue d’Anjou, bourbon barrel, cask #312, 218 bottles)

Ballechin 2011/2018 (59.9%, La Maison du Whisky, 20 Rue d’Anjou, bourbon barrel, cask #312, 218 bottles) Three stars and a half
Seen the strength? Tremble, mere mortal… Colour: white wine (tremble more, mere mortal). Nose: okay. Wood smoke, ashes, burning and burnt cardboard, ashtray. With water: gets a little tenser, with some iodine (iodine in Pitlochry?) and simply mercurochrome. Mouth (neat): it is the kind of fruitier peater that are to be found in the mainland, especially at Benriach, or at An Cnoc/Knockdhu. You know, this feeling of smoked pears and pineapples… With water: good for sure, going towards some kind of sweeter Coal Ila, I would say. But despite the strength, it remains a little thin. Thinner than Edradour, for example, which is a little surprising indeed. Finish: medium, smoky, with some chlorophyll and rather less pears this time. Comments: very good whisky for sure, but we’ve had fatter Ballechins that had been rather more to our liking.
SGP:547 - 80 points.

Ballechin 12 yo 2005/2018 (61.5%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Barrel, sherry hogshead, cask #160, 291 bottles)

Ballechin 12 yo 2005/2018 (61.5%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Barrel, sherry hogshead, cask #160, 291 bottles) Three stars and a half
I see, assassination attempt on a humble whisky blogger, it’s going to cost you! Colour: gold. Nose: a little too strong, I wouldn’t say there’s much to nose. Some earth, probably. With water: ah, no, it does unfold, with some kinds of wild embrocations, smoked walnuts, smoked meats, camphor, balsam, and really a lot of pinewood smoke. I guess you could almost use this as some sauna oil. Mouth (neat): very strong, but at least some elements are coming through, such as menthol and demerara sugar. A funny combo, that, but there should be more coming out once we reduce it… With water: yesss! Proud of my Vittel, it got sharp, mineral, vertical, blade-y, lemony, salty, brine-y… What is this sorcery? Finish: long, grassier, with some grass smoke, grapefruits… Comments: lemon saves all peaters, that is a proven fact.
SGP:467 - 83 points.

Ballechin 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2014)

Ballechin 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2014) Four stars and a half
Indeed, the regular Ballechin from a few years ago. And indeed, it was about time. Colour: gold. Nose: very nice, on smoked teas such as lapsang souchong, herbal liqueurs such as Bénédictine, and various herbs, branches, and peels. A very elegant nose, well balanced, well composed, and rather fresh. No excesses here, I would say. Mouth: gents and lasses, I’m sorry but I prefer this. It’s perfect, it’s fresh, it’s briny, it’s got green apples and it’s got coriander, it’s got rather sublime notes of fresh almonds and walnuts, and I would add that you just cannot be against this, unless you enjoy Diplomatico or Don Papa. Ahem. Finish: pretty long, clean, branche-y, brine-y… Love these notes of anchovies, for example. Comments: just excellent. And a good example of a small batch that’s probably vastly superior. Remember, single casks only make sense when those casks are literally ‘extra-ordinary’.
SGP:456 - 89 points.

I agree, we could have a little more…

Ballechin 11 yo 2004/2015 (54.6%, OB, for Vintage Wines, USA Manzanilla finish, 507 bottles)

Ballechin 11 yo 2004/2015 (54.6%, OB, for Vintage Wines, USA, Manzanilla finish, 507 bottles) Four stars
Manzanilla, hurray! Colour: gold. Nose: oh perfect, it seems that this spirit and manzanilla do go along just like, say Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire (that was lame at best, S.). Light mustard, walnuts, kippers, wood smoke, olive brine, hessian. With water: a wee touch of burnt plastic, perhaps, but rather bizarrely, that works well in this context. Mouth (neat): totally excellent, even if a tad too biggish, and probably a little tiring to some. Bitter almonds, mustard, lemon peel, leather, salt, seawater… Perhaps proof that to make a coastal whisky, you don’t always need… a coast. Umpff. With water: yeah, very good for sure. Salty mustard, walnuts, seawater, and indeed manzanilla. Which, agreed, is kind of the same thing. Finish: very long and totally manzanilla-y. Almonds. Comments: tjah, grape and grain. It’s not often that that works, but when it does, we’re in for a treat. But in this very case, you sure have to like manzanilla. Very well done!
SGP:377 - 87 points.

Bonus, this one just in at time of writing…

Ballechin 13 yo 2004/2017 (52.5%, Signatory Vintage, Straight From The Cask, for Caveau d’Ostwald, 1st fill Burgundy pinot noir, cask #26)

Ballechin 13 yo 2004/2017 (52.5%, Signatory Vintage, Straight From The Cask, for Caveau d’Ostwald, 1st fill Burgundy pinot noir, cask #26) Four stars
Peat and Pinot Noir… Let’s proceed with caution! Le Caveau d’Ostwald is an excellent and very friendly wine and spirit shop here in Alsace, close to Strasbourg. Colour: copper. Nose: really something else. There’s some big peat and some big pinot noir, and guess what, for once one does not reject the other party. Phew! So we actually have a true feeling of smoked Nuits-St.-Georges, if you like. Cassis jelly, smoked beef, drops of pomegranate and cranberry juice, dried Chinese black mushrooms, and really a lot of moist marzipan. With water: pipe tobacco and potpourri, Kriek beer, more marzipan and candied cherries. Mouth (neat): some kind of ham oiled up with olive oil, smoked jams and cassis, and a touch of rosemary. Notes of buds and leaves, as well as morello cherries, or rather the jam made thereof. Port. With water: a smoky cherry cake and some rosehip syrup. Finish: rather long and leafier. Blackcurrant buds and some very black black tea, as well as unexpected notes of fino sherry. Game. Comments: it’s quite miraculous, this Burgundied peater.
SGP:566 - 85 points.

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

 

November 22, 2018


Whiskyfun

Mixed bags

Whiskyfun's mixed bags Session Two

Let's have a little rye today, and see where that will lead us, if you agree...

Juuri ‘Unaged Rye Spirit’ (46.3%, OB, Kyrö, Finland, +/-2018)

Juuri ‘Unaged Rye Spirit’ (46.3%, OB, Kyrö, Finland, +/-2018) Four stars
I know this is more than just rye vodka, since I’ve tried an earlier ‘Verso’ back in 2015 and thought it was very good (WF 82). Colour: white. Nose: some kind of gin at first, but much better than any gin (don’t shoot, you hipsters), with these obvious and expected notes of fresh bread and Scandinavian dry rye bread. All they would have to do is to add fibres to their ryes and presto, alcohol for our health! In truth this is pure liquid bread, which I just adore. Mouth: they invented bread eau-de-vie! With green bananas, liquorice wood, gentian, perhaps a chunk of pineapple, a touch of sloe, and a little vanilla. Vanilla in a spirit that’s never seen any oak? Apparently, that’s possible. OH and it was smart to bottle this at 46.3% vol., it’s a perfect strength. Finish: long, a wee tad more on pears this time. A touch of celeriac in the aftertaste, making it even rootier. Comments: impressive distillate. Not sure it would need oak.
SGP:541 - 85 points.

More rye, perhaps…

WhistlePig ‘FarmStock Rye’ (43%, OB, USA, Crop No. 002, 2018)

WhistlePig ‘FarmStock Rye’ (43%, OB, USA, Crop No. 002, 2018) Three stars and a half
Apparently, there’s terroir ahead, but no age statements. Are we ready to trade age statements for terroir? And is it Canadian terroir or American terroir? If it’s well a blend, can a blend showcase terroir? Is multiple terroir still terroir? Phew… Colour: gold. Nose: much softer than the Juuri, more bourbony, obviously, with more ginger cake and speculoos, vanilla, soft brown bread, barley syrup, then much more geranium flowers, pine needles, fusel oil, turnips and a little gravel. But it remains all soft and very approachable. Mouth: very good, no doubt, and pretty dry. No assaulting vanilla here, rather breads, caraway, oak, grist, buckwheat again (Breton crêpes), and a very moderate cologne-y touch. Wev’ve had ryes that had been much more cologne-y, and not only in Germany (ha!) Finish: medium to long, with these typical touches of geranium and even lavender. Comments: I preferred the punch and the obviousness of the Finn, but indeed this one’s very good too. Just a little shy, I would say, but maybe was it a shy terroir?
SGP:541 - 83 points.

More rye, perhaps…

Black Maple Hill Rye (47.5%, OB, USA, +/-2018)

Black Maple Hill Rye (47.5%, OB, USA, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
A brand from Oregon. And handmade! Not sure about who distils what, but we have no time to try to find out. Colour: dark gold. Nose: earthy rooty bread, carrots, turnips, celeriac, bitter caramel, coffee, sloe, juniper, big menthol, and more carrots. That’s a funny nose, but the palate will be either great, or wrecked. Mouth: well, I for one like this, because I love bread (I insist) in my whisky and in this case, that bread works well with all the liquorice and mint liqueur someone has added to it. Notes of blood oranges, more carrots, more celeriac, even beetroots. Cherry candies too, cinnamon mints… Probably a controversial whisky, but I for one rather enjoy this. Finish: long, earthy, woody, spicy, with this cherry quality that I enjoy. Don’t they have great cherries in Oregon? Comments: that’s what I enjoy about these whiskeys, they are very singular. And bready.
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Oh let’s stay in America…

Ironroot Republic ‘Texas Legation Batch No2’ (46.2%, Berry Bros & Rudd, USA, bourbon, 2000 bottles, +/-2018)

Ironroot Republic ‘Texas Legation Batch No2’ (46.2%, Berry Bros & Rudd, USA, bourbon, 2000 bottles, +/-2018) Three stars
This is ‘accredited in London’, which I find excellent. Batch No1 was really good (WF 80). Colour: deep gold. Nose: it is a sweet-oak-fuelled whisky, so to speak, with a lot of popcorn, sweet bread, brioche, maple syrup, and various fudges. Roasted peanuts too. Marzipan as well, then spicier elements, and even touches of lavender that hint at rye. Mouth: it’s a fruity kind of bourbon, full of violet liqueur and tangerines at first, then rather on sour bread dough, heather honey, and maple syrup again. Quite a lot of caramel too, treacle toffee, praline… Finish: rather long, and certainly full of violets. Not exactly Parma violets, rather violet candies from Toulouse, France. The aftertaste is a little caramelly. Comments: a tad heavy on caramel, perhaps, but otherwise all is very fine. Some thicker bourbon.
SGP:641 - 81 points.

Bulleit 10 yo ‘Frontier Whiskey’ (45.6%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2018)

Bulleit 10 yo ‘Frontier Whiskey’ (45.6%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2018) Three stars
Always thought the NAS was really nice, so this should very nice. Colour: gold. Nose: much lighter than all the other ones that we just tried, in truth it was probably a mistake not to have it as #1. Soft breads, a little flour, wholegrain bread, a little caramel, corn syrup, one crushed overripe banana, a few herbs. Oregano, perhaps? Mouth: there’s this odd fruity edge, between cranberries and oranges, not too sure about those. Various candies, lavender sweets, touches of white pepper, cinnamon rolls, vanilla… Finish: medium, rather breadier. Comments: playful, just a little thin at times. But I like it.
SGP:641 - 80 points.

A last one…

Knob Creek 2004/2017 (60%, OB, for Flask, USA, bourbon)

Knob Creek 2004/2017 (60%, OB, for Flask, USA, bourbon) Three stars
These barrels are bottled for various wine and spirit shops throughout the USA. In this case, it’s Flask. Colour: gold. Nose: this is much rougher, earthier, almost dirty and dusty, with some roasted chestnuts and quite a lot of raw chocolate. Some bread as well, and not a lot of vanilla. In theory, we should enjoy this once water’s been added. With water: some bready rye coming through. Mouth (neat): it’s heavy but it’s natural, whatever that means, rather sour in fact, on stewed apples and green plums, with unexpected notes of white wine and some raw molasses behind that. Some cinnamon cake and surely some varnish. With water: indeed it’s raw, but rather more on oranges this time. Oranges, cinnamon, chocolate, molasses, and touches of violets and lavender. Finish: medium, a little thin, which I find really strange. Comments: a rawer bourbon, I would say, a little spirity for me.
SGP:551 - 80 points.

(Thanks a bunch Jay and Lucero)

 

November 21, 2018


Whiskyfun

Mixed bags

Whiskyfun's mixed bags Session One

We usually prefer to have flights of whiskies from the same distilleries or countries, but that may sometimes slow things down, especially when there are loads of new whiskies reaching WF Towers...

Which is what’s rather happening these days, so I thought we’d do a few ‘mixed bag’ sessions until things go back to normal, choosing various new or recent whiskies at random. Well, more or less, let's see what we have... Perhaps start with an Irish?

Redbreast 21 yo (46%, OB, Irish, 2017)

Redbreast 21 yo (46%, OB, Irish, 2017) Four stars and a half
I first tried this when the first batch came out, in 2013, and had thought it was superb, but maybe not as utterly stunning as ‘the doxa’ has it (WF 89). Colour: gold. Nose: maybe even more ‘pure pot still’ than before, with this very unusual mix of metallic notes with ripe topical fruits, such as mangos and passion fruits. It may be a tad spirity as well, which is a little surprising, while some rather obvious oaky tones do shout out (new sawdust). But it’s more or less a bed of roses after that, with, err, rose petals indeed, orange blossom, and ripe apricots. Mouth: pure fruity Irishness, with the same kinds of tropical fruits plus bananas (bananas are always obvious in these makes – to me) and tinned litchis. Which may impart some wee notes of gewürztraminer, if you like. Other than that, the oak’s less apparent now, and the whole’s fresh and soft. I was about to add ‘smooth’ but you may have noticed that innocuous little word is now streng verboten in Whiskydom. Finish: medium, jammier, a tad spicier. Cinnamon, coriander, a wee touch of saffron (at that price, there could be much of it). Comments: it remains excellent and deliciously smo…
SGP: 641 - 88 points.

More Irish please...

West Cork ‘Peat Charred Cask’ (54%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, The Chronicles, Irish blend, 2018)

West Cork ‘Peat Charred Cask’ (54%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, The Chronicles, Irish blend, 2018) Two stars
This one matured in some ex-peater wood. It was one of the strangest whiskies I could try at Whisky Live Paris this year, but let’s see what gives in a proper tasting environment… Colour: gold. Nose: strange indeed. Some soot, green spices, vanilla (char), rhubarb, hay, green cardamom, a little horseradish, sorrel… Unusual indeed. With water: sour cream, sourdough, fermenting grass, porridge, some friends I know would have added ‘gym socks’… It’s only after a good minute that some smoother, more vanilla-ed and fruitier touches come out. Melons? Mouth: starts oaky and very spicy, in a green kind of way. Mustard, wasabi, green pepper, lemon peel, green pears… This style bites you a bit, I would say. With water: dichotomous, I would say. A grassy peat and some lighter fruits on the other hand. Finish: medium, a tad acrid. Comments: a strangely grassy whisky, but at least it’s a new style. Perhaps we’ll just need a little more time to get used to it.
SGP:563 - 76 points.

Let’s fly to Tasmania to find another LMDW exclusive…

Hellyers Road 14 yo 2004/2018 ‘Peated’ (64.5%, OB, Tasmania, The Chronicles, cask #4036.12)

Hellyers Road 14 yo 2004/2018 ‘Peated’ (64.5%, OB, Tasmania, cask #4036.12) Four stars
I’ve last tried Hellyers Road back in 2010 (indeed, woof) but I remember their peater was quite good (WF 80). But this one is a beast… Colour: gold. Nose: immediately more coherent than the Irish, fresher, brighter, much more precise, with a combo around coal smoke and a rather lovely chocolaty development. Some fresh gingerbread as well, fudge… With water: it wouldn’t change much even after I’ve reduced it down to approx. 42% vol. Nothing to worry about, it’s extremely nice. Mouth (neat): excellent. See, age matters. Some kind of spicy rhubarb cake with notes of maize bread and perhaps even a wee chunk of poppadum. Grapefruits keep it fresh. With water: rather brilliant, it’s not always that wood and bread spices and heavy peat dance this nicely together. Finish: long, always rather chocolaty. Black with 90% cocoa. Some marmalade too, Jaffa cakes… Comments: pretty impressed here – while it wasn’t even that devilish (ha, good one S. Not.)
SGP:456 - 87 points.

Let’s fly to India…

Paul John 6 yo 2011/2018 (56.3%, Cadenhead, refill barrel, 330 bottles)

Paul John 6 yo 2011/2018 (56.3%, Cadenhead, refill barrel, 330 bottles) Four stars
This baby was matured for five years in Goa and one year in Campbeltown. Some hippie whisky? Colour: gold. Nose: starts with some spicy bread and oak (ginger bread), gets then more cereally, with some maize and perhaps some ray buckwheat and rye, and gets then much more citrusy, with some citron and lime. A few raspberries in some fresh homemade custard. With water: a large pack of assorted wholegrain breads… Or, as I sometimes say, ‘breakfast in the Tyrol’. We could almost start yodelling, but better not. Mouth (neat): very good, which doesn’t come unexpected. Lemon pie with meringue, kiwis, grapefruit juice, peat, and a grassy kind of vanilla, with a few drops of good aguardiente, or say cachaça. With water: impeccable fresh and spicy peatiness, with good citrus to keep it balanced. Super good, really. Finish: rather long, moderately smoky, bready, with a little muscovado sugar and marmalade (or chutney!) Comments: not a surprise, but still, this is excellent. On par with the Tasmanian in my book.
SGP:554 - 87 points.

And to Taiwan for another peater…

Kavalan 2008/2016 ‘Solist’ (52.4%, OB, Taiwan, peaty cask, cask #R080807112, 143 bottles)

Kavalan 2008/2016 ‘Solist’ (52.4%, OB, Taiwan, peaty cask, cask #R080807112, 143 bottles) Four stars
These peaty casks are rather uncommon. It’s not the distillate that’s peated, it’s the cask that used to harbour peaty whisky. Well, I suppose. Colour: gold. Nose: more often than not, this kind of combo works, and it does here, even if there’s a feeling of blended malt. Not that we’ve got anything against blended malts, mind you. Vanilla, brine, smoked fish, camphor, a little ink, a little hessian. With water: a curious Ardbeggian note, really. Old hessian bag that used to be full of eucalyptus leaves. Mouth (neat): very good, with a lot of smoky coffee and cocoa. It’s a little simple, but you do feel that it’s going to become a terrific bottle, after ten more years in glass or more. One to put into your cellar. But yeah, it’s really very chocolaty, and not in a oloroso-y kind of way at all. With water: smoked caraway this time, angelica, turmeric… All that inside chocolate. Ideas ideas… Finish: long, with touches of menthol and grapefruits this time. Chocolaty and somewhat salty aftertaste. Comments: same high score yet again, I’m afraid. All these deviant peaters were excellent.
SGP:553 - 87 points.

Perhaps another Kavalan and we’re done.

Kavalan 2008/2012 ‘Solist’ (56.3%, OB, Taiwan, bourbon cask, cask #B080616034, 203 bottles)

Kavalan 2008/2012 ‘Solist’ (56.3%, OB, Taiwan, bourbon cask, cask #B080616034, 203 bottles) Four stars and a half
An older bottling. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a fresher one, rather going towards fresh spices for a start, cardamom, ginger… It’s only after fifteen seconds that rounder fruity notes appear, rather with apricots and preserved plums. Even in Taiwan, 4 years isn’t much. With water: a tad oaky, which is normal. So a little sawdust. Mouth (neat): they’re masters at making very young whiskies that are assertive, balanced, jammy, and perfectly drinkable already. Sure they use active wood, but in this case that translates into lovely jammy/spicy notes that are void of any roughness. Mango chutney and preserved greengages, with a touch of pine-y honey. With water: perfect. A fruit salad and all their jams and jellies. Bananas, papayas, apricots, plums… Finish: rather long, and technically utterly perfect. Comments: let’s be fair and forget about ages and casks and processes and stuff, this is rather marvellous at just 4.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Oh and perhaps another Indian?

Amrut ‘Amaze’ (50%, OB for Single Malt Amateurs Club India, 120 bottles, 2018)

Amrut ‘Amaze’ (50%, OB for Single Malt Amateurs Club India, 120 bottles, 2018) Four stars and a half
Indeed, this is an official bottling of Amrut for an Indian whisky club, which sounds only natural. And yet, it is a first! Colour: amber. Nose: I know it’s a tad, say frightening when tasters would use words such as ‘intriguing’ or ‘interesting’, but this is both, in a totally positive way mind you. Indeed I’m finding touches of roses and preserved litchis at first, with hints of precious wood sawdust (sawn rosewood?) then rather blood oranges and various roasted honey-coated nuts, plus marshmallows and indeed various honeys. I’d add that you just cannot not find some hints of high-end sweet curries, but that may simply be your brain playing tricks on you. With water: spicier. Caraway liqueur, perhaps, pink peppercorns, Szechuan... A box of fresh cinnamon rolls. Mouth (neat): it’s as if not only oak has been in use, although you couldn’t quite tell much more. A feeling of cedar, or even rosewood again. Or thuja (thujone)? Eucalyptus wood? Other than that, we have various jams, syrups and chutneys, cherries, mangos, then rather spices such as cinnamon and sweet ginger. Touches of Madeira. With water: the wood spices come even more to the front, but they remain all fresh and kind of fruity. This would work on foie gras. Finish: rather long and pretty fruitier, but the background remains sweet/spicy. Comments: just excellent, and certainly pretty ‘Indian’ as far as flavours are concerned. Malt that’s really showcasing ‘a sense of the place’, how great is that? With a nod to my old friend Krishna.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

(Thank you Cato, Hermanth, Lucero and other friends)

 

November 19, 2018


Whiskyfun

New Inverleven and friends

Would you imagine that Gordon & MacPhail got me again? Mind you, they just released a new Inverleven (wow!) while I simply do not have any other yet-untasted Inverlevens in the library. Which means that I'll have to find other sparring-partners, let's see what could make a little sense... Perhaps one or two Littlemills?

Littlemill 16 yo 1991/2007 (46%, Murray McDavid, bourbon, 900 bottles)

Littlemill 16 yo 1991/2007 (46%, Murray McDavid, bourbon, 900 bottles) Five stars
Will this be another tangerine bomb? Let's see... Colour: straw. Nose: not quite a fruit bomb, rather a sooty/oily one at first sniffing, but indeed it is quite vertical, with whiffs of chalk on top of it. It's actually got this wax and tangerine combo that makes it partially resemble Clynelish. Yes my friend. Also fern and moss, damp leaves, humus and all that, which is always stunning. In fact, I would say this nose is fantastic and right up my alley. Mouth: there, lemons, lime, oranges, tangerines, riesling, chalk, clay, yellow peaches, essential oils... Frankly, this wee baby's glorious, and it's not impossible that these ten years in glass have done it much good. Finish: medium, waxy, citrusy... I wouldn't have cried wolf, should you have said this was Clynelish '83. Comments: not quite a surprise, actually, as almost all 1988-1992 indie Littlemills have been flying very high. But still, what a malt!
SGP:551 - 90 points.

So rather single-mindedly...

LIttlemill 27 yo 1991/2018 (50.4%, Cadenhead, barrel)

LIttlemill 27 yo 1991/2018 (50.4%, Cadenhead, barrel) Two stars and a half
This is so very Cadenhead, issuing a new 27 yo Littlemill just like that, without fanfare. Colour: dark straw. Nose: a tad hotter, which is normal, a tad more sugary as well, with hints of bubblegum and barbecued marshmallows that weren't in the MMcD, but that are not unseen at Littlemill's. Behind that, some lovely hints of preserved litchis and whiffs of peonies and lilac. And one dab of lavender if you like. With water: Achtung baby, it wouldn't swim. Gets oddly pine-y. Mouth (neat): indeed it is not a typical Littlemill. Well, some parts are (lemon peels, mangos) but this flowery development is a little uncommon, and may have come from the cask. You could even wonder if they haven't reused a cask of circa 1982 Bowmore, for there is a little lavender deep underneath the citrus. With water: but-what-is-this? The mystery thickens... Crunching pine needles while drinking a whole glass of new green Chartreuse after having just brushed your teeth. What? Finish: long and extremely pine-y indeed. Tourist retsina in the aftertaste. Comments: lost, I am lost.
SGP:481 - 78 points.

And so G&M's new Inverleven...

Inverleven 33 yo 1985/2018 (57.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill bourbon barrel, cask #562, 130 bottles)

Inverleven 33 yo 1985/2018 (57.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, refill bourbon barrel, cask #562, 130 bottles) Four stars and a half
This is the brand new art-déco livery for G&M's Private Collection. Very dapper, very premium, just hope they are not, and will never discontinue the Book of Kells label. No one will ever draw a better label, not in Glasgow, not in London, not in New York, perhaps in Paris (I am joking...) BTW, remember Inverleven was a distillery that was embedded in Ballantine's huge Dumbarton complex and was closed in 1991. The stills are now at Mark Reynier's Waterford Distillery in Ireland. Colour: straw. Nose: balms, hand creams, marzipan, ointments, citrons, verbena, a drop of miso soup, smoked salmon and dill, then more tropical fruits, rather guavas and papayas than mangos. A few drops of yellow Chartreuse this time (the easier one). With water: cumin bread, poppy seeds, fermenting plums (have some in the garage, will distil before this month is over). Mouth (neat): but this was distilled last year! Intense lemony arrival, with a few fermentary touches (yoghurt, sourdough), then a grassy hotchpotch that would include agave, grass, and green tea. Fresh banana bread. With water: opens up like a flower, getting exactly tropical, with a style that is close to that of the fruitiest Littlemills indeed. Melon skin, mangos, tangerines, maracujas... Finish: medium, with the same tropical/citrusy notes. Comments: loves water. I think many are really starting to regret these fruity Lowlanders these days, Rosebank, Littlemill, Inverleven... No, St. Magdalene is a whole different story - and style.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

St. Magdalene? Did anyone just mention St. Magdalene?...

St. Magdalene 34 yo 1982/2017 (50.4%, Malt Musketeers)

St. Magdalene 34 yo 1982/2017 (50.4%, Malt Musketeers) Five stars
This is a very small batch of just a few small bottles. Long time no see a new St. Magdalene, I have to say... Colour: white wine. Nose: it's instantly recognisable, with vast quantities of autumn leaves over old lemons starting to rot and a pile of rusty old tools in the corner of an old garage. You could add some brake fluid, old tyres, and notes of very old riesling that got just a tad mushroomy. You may also add some hay (very typical) and very wee soapy notes that are not exactly soapy. Say soapwort. St. Magdalene's always been complex and slightly challenging, no exception here. With water: fantastic, reminding me of Cadenhead's latest 1982s. Pine sap, menthol, fir liqueur, pipe juice, quinine, more dead leaves, mosses, old fallen branches... Mouth (neat): brilliant, really. Lemon juice, herbal liqueurs and teas, pencil erasers, pine sap, bitter teas... Indeed, it is a little challenging and would almost wrestle you, but it is malt whisky that'll make you smarter, whatever that means. The opposite of a sexy, sometimes whoreish contemporary malt (no, no names!) With water: bioethanol? Fish oil? Chalk? Grapefruit peel for sure. Finish: long, very green, very leafy. Apple peels, tobacco... Comments: one of the grassiest malt whiskies out there. So was St. Magdalene.
SGP:372 - 91 points.

(Thank you Tom!)

 

November 18, 2018


Whiskyfun

Another barrow of rums

As regards malternatives, we rather had Armagnac and Cognac lately, so back to rum, if you don't mind...

Monymusk 'Classic Gold Rum' (40%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2018)

Monymusk 'Classic Gold Rum' (40%, OB, Jamaica, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
This NAS baby just to get warmed up. It's supposed to be 'distinctively smooth'. Ha. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it's one of the brinier Monymusks, going towards the young official Worthies or Hampdens, I would say, but with rather less brio and power. Fermenting fruits, olives, brine, soot, but also a little cardboard and old magazines. Ink. Mouth: it's a tad too 'caramelised' for me, whether they actually did that or not. Molasses and burnt sugar, caramel indeed, bananas, and just very remote notes of earthy, briny Jamaican rum, although those would start to surface after thirty seconds. A shame that the caramel and toasted notes rather have a hold on those. Finish: medium, hesitating between ripe flambéed bananas and more estery flavours, which I find frustrating. Comments: in the right direction, but not quite there, I would say, if I may.
SGP:641 - 78 points.

Demerara Vertical 03-04 (45%, Samaroli, blended Guyanan, 2017)

Demerara Vertical 03-04 (45%, Samaroli, blended Guyanan, 2017) Three stars and a half
Many would like you to believe that these bottlings were done by the late maestro Silvano Samaroli. That's plain wrong, he had let go of the helm quite some years before he passed away. So while this is well a Samaroli bottling, it's got nothing to do with Silvano. Colour: amber. Nose: this is nice, though. Some moss, pine needles, black olives, roasted pistachios, then caraway and sloe gin, musty cellar, touches of thyme... Mouth: really a very good blend, firm, with one foot on each continent. I mean, one foot on phenolic/estery ground, and one foot on more cane-y, cake-y, banana-y soils. Almost a blend of good agricole with Jamaican high-ester stuff. Seriously, this is very good, if a tad schizophrenic. Finish: medium, a tad saltier and metallic. Olives in chocolate - would you please try that and report back? Comments: loses you a bit, but I find the end result really nice.
SGP:562 - 84 points.

Guyanan Rum 15 yo 2002/2018 (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, barrel, 2018)

Guyanan Rum 15 yo 2002/2018 (46%, Cadenhead, Green Label, barrel, 2018) Three stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: rather light, with a touch of wine vinegar, lemon juice, linseed oil and paraffin, and then simply regular apples. Golden delicious. It's really very soft and light given its pedigree, but indeed they don't only make monster rums over there in Guyana. Mouth: nah, it's good, it's got more apples and touches of pineapples, icing sugar, lemons, bubblegum, marshmallows... Finish: rather short, fruity, bonbony, almost Cuban in fact... A salty touch and even green olives in the aftertaste, but that's a little late, isn't it. Comments: around the El Dorados, just without any added sugars, which is obviously better.
SGP:630 - 80 points.

Monymusk 11 yo 2007/2018 (52.5%, The Rum Mercenary, Jamaica)

Monymusk 11 yo 2007/2018 (52.5%, The Rum Mercenary, Jamaica) Four stars
Crazy labels, excellent rums (and whiskies) at the freebooter's. I mean, the mercenary. Colour: white wine. Nose: yup, higher-ester Monymusk, just what the doctor ordered. Wonderful green olives and fresh almonds, fresh barley (yes), orgeat, citrons, vegetal inks, spearmint. Luminous rum that does not need much literature. With water: would anyone mature olive oil in oak and manage to avoid any rancidness? I suppose that would be impossible... Or, perhaps, in olive wood, which is one of the tightest and hardest woods? Mouth (neat): a rather hotter style than that of Worthy Park or Hampden (or high-ester Long Pond for that matter), more spirity, with notes of the rusticmost aguardientes and plum eaux-de-vie. Well, any distilled stone fruits. With water: very good, almondy, rooty, and... very rustic. Some uncommercial clairins are a bit like this. Finish: long, grassy, very grassy actually. Comments: a rather extreme, very rustic rum. To be sipped alfresco only, I would say. Like it a lot, yes I'm a country boy (I hear you laughing my friend).
SGP:362 - 86 points.

Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Jamaica, #R11.2, ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, refill ex-Bourbon barrel, 309 bottles)

Worthy Park 7 yo 2010/2018 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Jamaica, #R11.2, ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, refill ex-Bourbon barrel, 309 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: no, really, mussels cooked in curry? Green peppercorns? Smoked green tea? Capers? A crazy, funky rum, with aromas that you would never find in any whiskies (or brandies for that matter), and that's why we enjoy rum, punto basta. With water: amazing. Burning woods, dim-sum sauce, caraway, menthol cigarettes, pinewood... Mouth (neat): pickled olives, garlic paste, brine, smoked fish, lemons, and probably many illegal flavours. With water: sadly, it gets a little too bitter, which means that we won't be able to give it a 90. Finish: very long, a tad less focussed, and perhaps a little too 'burnt'. Bang, one less point. Comments: amazing whisky, and all are pretty great, R11.1, R11.2, R11.3...
SGP:362 - 88 points.

Uitvlugt 20 yo 1997/2017 (53.4%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil for Rum Rarities, Demerara, 158 bottles)

Uitvlugt 20 yo 1997/2017 (53.4%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil for Rum Rarities, Demerara, 158 bottles) Five stars
Always watch the Kill Devils, they gather the best of European-aged rums. Colour: white wine. Nose: that's the thing with rums aged in Europe, they're less romantic, and possibly more 'colonial' according to some current doxa, but on the other hand, they're rarely pure oak juices, and are much more distillate-driven. Everyone's entitled to his own rationale, I suppose, but I digress. So, this Uitvlugt is very pure, with superb whiffs of smoky cakes, asparagus, smoked salmon, warm praline, salted walnuts and almonds, and the obligatory olives. Wee softer pink olives. With water: inks! I love the smells of fresh ink. Or, indeed, new books, magazines and newspapers. Mouth (neat): wonderful, as expected. Salty fish, nuts, olives, lemons, Thai basil, soot, bitter oranges, elderberries, holly eau-de-vie... With water: salty cardboardy olives. Older olives, perhaps. Finish: long. Comments: why argue, this is one of the most wonderful distillates on this little planet.
SGP:352 - 90 points.

I think we could have a last one, since we do have some kind of momentum going... (no?)...

Enmore 30 yo 1988/2018 (47.9%, Silver Seal, Demerara, 150cl) Five stars
So this one from a magnum. Colour: reddish amber, copper. Nose: tropical cognac! Bananas flambéed and prunes, raisins, peonies, geranium flower, orange blossom, preserved peaches and apricots, old precious woods (thuja, rosewood...), pipe tobacco, fresh gingerbread, garden peat, humus... There is the amazing complexity of old age here. With water: no, really, isn't this some old cognac? We do know that old spirits tend to converge, but this is really intriguing. Various currants and raisins, old sweet wines, Tokaji, Sauternes, pinot gris SGN... Mouth (neat): what!? Never quite tasted something like this. Burnt cannabis cake, chestnut cake, pecan pie, marmalade, black tapenade, mildly salty liquorice, amaretti, raw chocolate, blue mountain coffee, beeswax, maraschino... Some adventurous old spirit, this. With water: exceptional, roasted, raisiny, cane-y, slightly pine-y... At times you would also believe this is one of those extremely old Saint-James from Martinique. Finish: long, with strong honeys and saps. A tad more rustic now, some would say Armagnacqy. Comments: some stunning rum, and some pretty metanoical well-aged spirit. Very well done, Massimo and Silver Seal!
SGP:561 - 92 points.

(Thank you Lance!)

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

 

November 16, 2018


Whiskyfun

Two indie Ardbeg

Nothing to add. One needs Ardbeg from time to time, you know.

Ardbeg (50.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, batch #2, 422 bottles, +/-2012)

Ardbeg (50.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, batch #2, 422 bottles, +/-2012) Five stars
Time to try this older one that wasn’t bearing any age statements (they did put things straight later on). Colour: straw. Nose: of course. Smoked ginger, camphor, bandages, damp hessian, those famous tarry ropes, smoked almonds, whelks and clams, and burning kelp. To old whisky enthusiasts, this noses like… home. With water: gentler. Marzipan and barley water, then charcoal, beech-smoked salmon and Cadum. New Wellies, but small size. Mouth (neat): of course. Lapsang souchong, lime juice, ginger tonic, kippers, cough syrup, grapefruit peels, smoked salmon. With water: natural rubber (chewing rubber bands at school), kippers, almond paste, Seccotine. Did you know of Seccotine? Finish: long, smoky, salty, almondy, rather less lemony than other Ardbegs. Comments: of course, Ardbeg.
SGP:367 - 90 points.

Ardbeg 18 yo 2000/2018 (55.9%, The Whisky Show London, 225 bottles)

Ardbeg 18 yo 2000/2018 (55.9%, The Whisky Show London, 225 bottles) Four stars and a half
New regime Ardbeg at a proper age, this should be interesting (now was the purifier on or off?) Also love the extremely understated – and minimalist - packaging. Colour: gold. Nose: cigarette smoke (dear Stuart Thompson’s?) plus smoked salmon and damp hessian. This is millimetric, totally vertical, and utterly brilliant. No further literature needed, I would say. With water: damp old fabric, hessian, and halva/turon. Mouth (neat): ah and ha. Now go try to describe this… First, it’s not Ardbeg as we all know it, it’s sweeter and fruitier, even kind of lighter (so the purifier was on, I would guess). In fact, it’s almost Kildalton-style Ardbeg, with these notes of melons and plums, but there’s some big smoke as well. Rather troubling, this one, but very good it is, no doubt. With water: don’t add too much H2O, it actually doesn’t need any. I know, 55.9%. Finish: long, rather more medicinal. Iodine and green chartreuse. The aftertaste is a little bitterer, as if you had just quaffed a pint of Underberg. Comments: it wasn’t that immaculate, after all, but it remains one of the greatest distillates in Scotland. Now, HP, Clynelish, Springbank, Lagavulin, Ben Nevis, Mortlach, Benromach… Well, the fighting’s getting thicker!
SGP:377 - 89 points.

(Thank you Tom!)

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

 

November 15, 2018


Whiskyfun

Three Glen Moray

Another name that recently gathered more traction. Elgin's Glen Moray has been been sold by Glenmo to French company La Martiniquaise in 2008.

Glen Moray 18 yo (47.2%, OB, +/-2018)

Glen Moray 18 yo (47.2%, OB, +/-2018) Four stars
An intriguing strength for a relatively high-volume OB. I had really enjoyed the 16 two years ago (WF 84). Colour: straw. Nose: not at all the lightish Speysider we used to be used to, this has some body, some breadiness, oak tree leaves, chestnut honey, touches of cooked pumpkin, hay, and a solid porridge-y foundation. Mouth: fine, that's the word I would use. It's left the 'blend-y' universe of days gone by (this 18 is rather new having said that), and got appropriately full-bodied, malty, cake-y, showcasing its raw ingredients with pride and panache. No, really, I mean that. Touches of caramel and maple syrup, possibly from American oak. Finish: medium, malty, cake-y. Coffee toffee in the aftertaste. Comments: malt whisky that really tastes of malt. This will disappoint no one, believe me, while the price remains fair.
SGP:451 - 86 points.

Glen Moray 2006/2016 (55%, OB, Private Edition for Germany, Sauternes cask matured, cask #5337)

Glen Moray 2006/2016 (55%, OB, Private Edition for Germany, Sauternes cask matured, cask #5337) Two stars and a half
This baby was fully matured in Sauternes, this should be interesting as Sauternes often works in my little book. Colour: gold. Nose: I have to say I do not quite get the Sauternes, rather some maize bread and a kind of leafy porridge, with a yeasty, sour side. Yoghurt, sour wood... No fruits this time and rather more leaves than on a tree. With water: same, plus baker's yeast and slightly stale ale. Mouth (neat): firm, but with some bizarre notes of aspirin tablets, bitter teas, leaves, green wood, plasticine... This one isn't easy! With water: where's the Sauternes? Granted, we might have found half an apricot in a corner, but that is pretty all. Finish: medium, a tad indefinite. Beer, malt, grass, green oak. Comments: this one's rather austere, while we were expecting a debauchery of apricots and plums. Nothing serious, it's still rather fine.
SGP:451 - 78 points.

Glen Moray 10 yo 2007/ 2018 (62.2%, Archives, barrel, cask #5713, 237 bottles)

Glen Moray 10 yo 2007/ 2018 (62.2%, Archives, barrel, cask #5713, 237 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: biscuit, lemon cake and pie, fresh hazelnuts, moisturiser, bergamots, fresh almonds. Not a throwaway. With water: whoops, notes of new plastic come out but that's only temporary. This one really saponifies, as they say (who says that, S.?) Then creamy vanilla and lemon pie with meringue and a glass of sweet chenin blanc. Mouth (neat): immaculate vanilla-ed barleyness, with good drizzles of limoncello. Extremely simple and perfect, perfectly simple, simply perfect (sure they're all amazed, S.) With water: takes water very well. Pure barley-y goodness. Finish: long, a tad grassier, which is normal and actually welcome. Comments: go buy and drink this.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

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



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