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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Balblair (94)
Balmenach (42)
Balvenie (1
21)
Banff (5
2)
Ben Nevis (202)
Ben Wyvis
(3)
Benriach (1
92)
Benrinnes (
93)
Benromach (
71)
Bladnoch (
84)
Blair Athol (
8
9)
Bowmore (5
48)
Braes of Glenlivet (4
6)
Brora (1
34)
Bruichladdich (309)
Bunnahabhain (3
61)

Dailuaine (68)
Dallas Dhu (41)
Dalmore (1
26)
Dalwhinnie (38)
Deanston (
51)
Dufftown (5
5)

Edradour (88)
Ladyburn (12)
Lagavulin
(1
65)
Laphroaig (4
70)
Ledaig (1
35)
Linkwood (1
63)
Littlemill (1
24)
Loch Lomond (
76)
Lochside (70)
Longmorn (2
31)
Longrow (7
5)

Macallan (311)
Macduff (
89)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
47)
Millburn (2
4)
Miltonduff (
105)
Mortlach (206)
Mosstowie (2
3)
Scapa (51)
Speyburn (
44)
Speyside (22)
Springbank (3
90)
St-Magdalene (5
4)
Strathisla (
106)
Strathmill (
41)

 
 
Pete and Jack



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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.

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Angus MacRaild
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November 28, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Triple Talisker
Does anyone not love Talisker? Not sure I can recall ever meeting someone who wasn’t fond of this brilliant make. Now, I admit the recent years have seen some pretty unlikely - and often underwhelming - NAS expressions kicking about, but the 10 remains an essential whisky I would say. I don’t have any contemporary examples of the 10 today, but I do have one of the very early green glass bottlings from the late 1980s just after the launch of the Classic Malts. We’ll do that with a couple of other theoretically pretty serious official sparring partners.

 

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, -/+ 1988)

Talisker 10 yo (45.8%, OB, -/+ 1988)
These batches, in my experience, are often softer and more overtly fruity in profile - something that can be said about most of Scotland’s historically peated single malts. Colour: gold. Nose: what’s notable at first is some old bottle effect (OBE), which is a rather harsh reminder of how old these bottlings are now. Metal polish, shoe polish, coal smoke, damp grains and then - with patience - comes some green banana, mango and crystallised lemon peel. Still a very present coastal impression behind all that, something I think it shares with current batches. Mouth: superb arrival. All on olive oils, tropical fruit juices, seawater, ink, green Chartreuse, boiled lime sweets, camphor, black pepper and copper coins (that OBE again). It’s heartening that this Talisker ‘salt n pepper’ aspect is already very vivid in this early batch. Finish: good length, getting rather drying, grapefruit piths, smoked sea salt, oysters, green olives and hessian. Comments: Other batches were brighter and more luminously fruity in my experience. I think these wee notes of OBE have obfuscated certain key characteristics here, other bottlings are comfortably 91 points territory. Having said that, it’s still a brilliant drop, just maybe for your tumbler rather than your copita…?
SGP: 465 - 88 points.

 

 

Talisker 18 yo (45.8%, OB, -/+ 2010)

Talisker 18 yo (45.8%, OB, -/+ 2010)
I think these earlier batches of the Talisker 18 are still a little underrated if you ask me, mind you, I haven’t tried that many of them. Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, this is beautiful. Extremely coastal with these very fragrant notes of wet rocks, chalk, gorse, seawater, grapefruit and citrus peels. But there’s also a richness and depth which belies the age. Wee notes of salted honey, aged mead, some very gentle, peppery peat smoke and even tinier hints of camphor, tar and hessian. I find it totally superb. Mouth: wonderful arrival! All on tarry peat smoke, black pepper, bandages, brine, smoked olive oil, umami and green peppercorns in brine. Again this sense of maturity, richness and, well, sheer class - kind of like Talisker’s version of Lagavulin 16. Gets increasingly salty and develops this blustery, Atlantic freshness and sharp minerality. Finish: good length, peppery, oily, peaty, salty and with some ashes, white pepper and lemon juice. Comments: Like I said, underrated. Although, is that just me? Is there a quiet legion on Talisker 18 fans out there? Anyway, not too sure the current batches are up to this kind of scratch.
SGP: 466 - 90 points.

 

 

Talisker 15 yo 2002/2019 (57.3%, OB ‘Special Releases’, charred American oak hogsheads)

Talisker 15 yo 2002/2019 (57.3%, OB ‘Special Releases’, charred American oak hogsheads)
I’m a bit late with this one, the Special Releases don’t seem nearly as special these days if you ask me, but this one certainly peaked my curiosity when it came out. Colour: light gold. Nose: compared to the 18 there’s certainly more active oak here with these rather creamy and bright notes of smoked vanilla, then green pepper, tar, hessian, pickling juices, seawater and grapefruit. Gets more ‘Talisker’ with time, which is obviously great. Sharper, more precisely saline, brinier and coastal. With water: lemon peel, fabrics, bath salts, white flowers, crushed seashells, gorse flower and even some pollens. Mouth: punchy and brusquely peppery on arrival. Sweet tarriness, pink sea salt, lime juice, anchovy paste, bonfire embers, cider apple, ink -  lots going on. With water: doubles down on these pickling juice notes with many shades of olive and capers in brine. A dirty martini, anchovies, sardines in olive oil, parsley and watercress. Finish: long, salty, drying, some brittle minerals, seawater, lemon juice, dried seaweed - pin sharp, precise and very pure and fresh. Comments: Extremely good with high levels of complexity and a very captivating evolution from nose to finish. It perhaps just lacks a little something ‘extra’ to get it over the 90 line. However, I think the price for this one was (and remains) pretty fair and the quality is very high. Raw, gutsy Talisker - I love it.
SGP: 366 - 89 points.

 

 

 

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

 

November 27, 2020


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Pulteney

We’re trying more Pulteney these days. Yes, that’s a very good point,  perhaps because there’s more Pulteney around…

 

 

 

Pulteney 12 yo 2008/2020 (43%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist Collective, sherry butt recask, 1860 bottles)

Pulteney 12 yo 2008/2020 (43%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist Collective, sherry butt recask, 1860 bottles)
43% vol.? Welcome back to the good old days! This is a vatting of too butts, quite probably re-racking . Or finishing. Or double-maturation. Colour: gold. Nose: oh LOL, tangerine liqueur and verbena! That’s really nice, you’d really believe you’re nosing a well-assembled liqueur. Curaçao, parfait amour, mandarine impériale, even rose liqueur, Turkish delights… Lots of fun here, which was more than needed anyway. Also honeysuckle and green walnuts coming out, you’d almost believe you’re nosing a copita of La Gitana on the shores of the Guadalquivir. Please pass the langoustines! Mouth: ho-ho-ho, but what is this? Same notes of citrusy liqueurs as on the nose, then those green walnuts. Was one of the butts ex-fino? Both? Really intriguing, and very good. In this context, the 43% vol. do make a lot of sense, given that one may quaff this down as if it was wine. Right, fino on the shores of the Guadalquivir, etc, etc, etc. Finish: not too long, but with added waxes that push it towards new heights. Lovely. Comments: wasn’t one of the casks rather a Clynelish? Anyway, great composition, kudos to whomever is responsible for this partially abstract work.
SGP:462- 89 points.

 

 

 

Old Pulteney 2006/2019 (51.4%, OB, The W Club Exclusive, cask #1448, 276 bottles)

Old Pulteney 2006/2019 (51.4%, OB, The W Club Exclusive, cask #1448, 276 bottles) Four stars and a half
The W Club is the Whisky Shop’s consumer club. Makes sense. Colour: white wine. Nose: pretty perfect. No oak in the way, not boisterous vanilla, rather subtle coastal tones, sea air, citrus, honeysuckle, oysters, muscadet (no muscat)… I find it superbly fresh, subtle and just lifting, With water: some would call this ‘Atlantic freshness’ but I believe this is rather the North sea. Anyway, you get the idea, oysters, shrimps, lemon and seaweed. And perhaps a bottle of Champagne blanc de blanc from a not-too-fat vintage. Mouth (neat): lemon, oyster juice, white pepper, citrons and tangerines, and a wee paraffiny side that hints at that other coastal distillery just south of Wick. A lovely drive by the way. With water: this really is the way, Pulteney. Clean, fresh, coastal, with more salt than at C., but a little less wax as well. They may now have a true regional style in the north of Glenmo. Granny smith and a little vanilla. Finish: medium, a little liqueury, perhaps a tad simplistic now, but really very good. Who cares for complications! Even in the watch industry! Comments: superb. They’ve clearly upped their game in Wick, even the wee touches of glue (or tequila ;-)) here and there have become assets.
SGP:461 - 89 points.

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

 

November 26, 2020


Whiskyfun

Introducing...

Whiskyfun's Extremely Rare 
Extra-Premium Incredibly Limited 
Ultra-Prestige Tasting Sessions
For Discerning Collectors Only
(Please only one reading per person)

Why not? After all, our friends at the distilleries or blending houses do that all the time, so why not us?

 

Today, two Royal Glenuries

So today it’s going to be two ultra-rare Glenury Royal, hand-selected by yours truly from our stock of Glenury Royal samples (which, incidentally, used to shelter two samples altogether, but never mind).

Glenury Royal 35 yo 1984/2020 (49.1%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘125th Anniversary’, cask #2335, sherry butt, 397 bottles)

Glenury Royal 35 yo 1984/2020 (49.1%, Gordon & MacPhail ‘125th Anniversary’, cask #2335, sherry butt, 397 bottles) Four stars and a half
A recent bottling from G&M’s old stock. With these rare old casks and since Glenury used to be a staple malt at G&M’s in the old days, you cannot help wondering why they never bottled it before. I mean, was that because they had decided to keep it for a special occasion, or because they had discarded it? In any case, it’s said to be the house’s very last Glenury, while it had been distilled just one year before the distillery was shut down for good, in 1985. Colour: deep gold to amber. Nose: starts with butterscotch and cognac but it’s soon to get much more sherried, while that would rather be ‘cream’, so a blend of oloroso and PX. Big feeling of burnt cake, sticky toffee pudding, honey-glazed pecans, chestnut honey (huuuuge), sultanas, earth and tobacco, and more generally, brandy de Jerez, really. After a good few minutes you’d almost believe you’re nosing some old Malaga, but that’s close to sherry indeed. Fantastic rich, thick and heavy – if not heady - nose. Mouth: much less well-polished on the palate, much drier, spicier, grittier, and simply drying. Bitter herbs and walnuts from the year before the year before last year, terpenes, pine sap, our friends the artichokes and Brussels sprouts, some black tobacco, and more and more salt, as in if we were having some kind of cold beef broth. Bitter coffee. Finish: long and really very herbal, with very old walnuts and bitter molasses running the whole show until the end of the aftertaste. Comments: this is almost like playing an old 78rpm on a gramophone, with cracks, rumble and creaking. A tad challenging but charming. The nose was simply out of this world.
SGP:571 - 89 points (I agree with Angus).

Glenury Royal 13 yo 1966/1979 (80 proof, Cadenhead, sherry wood, black dumpy)

Glenury Royal 13 yo 1966/1979 (80 proof, Cadenhead, sherry wood, black dumpy) Four stars and a half
Distilled when they were still having their own maltings, which were closed in 1968. There are several versions of this black dumpy 13 yo, some labelled as 80°proof, others at 46% vol., and some at 45.7%. I suppose those were different batches; but I’m not too sure. Yeah well, any excuses, really, since I believe we’ve tried them several times already. But this one stems from another bottle – indeed, any excuses. Colour: gold. Nose: some sublime OBE, as often in those old dumpies, which translates into wee notes of metal polish, fresh mushrooms, then bakelite and brake fluid, then an avalanche of smaller soupe-y notes, quenelles, parsley, bouillon, marrow, miso, glutamate/umami… Even croutons! Right, perhaps not croutons. Some fruitiness too, rather around overripe bananas I would say, as well as a little Fir bud liqueur. Mouth: rather immensely medicinal, on ointments, old-style mouthwash, then these metallic touches, orange zests, bitter chocolate, and various soups. Lovely bittersweet profile, it’s just about to begin to start to become a little flattish. No big deal. Finish: a little short but really very bouillony and salty. Comments: I’ve had other bottles, or maybe other batches, that had been bigger and some assertive as they say, but this one’s still rather at the top. Hugely different from the G&M but same level in my book.
SGP:362 - 89 points.

(Thank you Angus, and Phil at the heavenly Dornoch castle – and whisky bar – and distillery!)

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

 

November 25, 2020


Whiskyfun

Glen Keith at good speed

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since when there was almost only that official square bottle of 10 years old around. I believe the indies have to be thanked, once again. But let’s kick this off with a newish official…

Glen Keith 21 yo (43%, OB, batch #GK/001, +/-2019)

Glen Keith 21 yo (43%, OB, batch #GK/001, +/-2019) Four stars
This newish one by Chivas Bros., from a blend of 1st fill ex-American oak and refill European oak casks, with a livery that reeks of good old George VI’s days. No? Colour: gold. Nose: oh, praline cream, butterscotch, Demerara sugar, hazelnut filling, crème brulée (bigly – whoops, I suppose you can’t say that anymore), maple butter, then apricot jam and all-flower honey. Fresh raisin rolls too. This baby’s got a clear regressive side, I can’t see who wouldn’t enjoy this nose. Please keep away from children! Mouth: that’s the thing, sometimes you have to enjoy slightly simpler, less challenging (some would say less masturbatory) malt whiskies, and this is a fine example. In a way, it’s a slightly tarter and tighter Glenlivet, with more citrus. Other than that, we’ve got anything that you would find in a tearoom, so tea (wow, S.!), scones with clotted cream, teacakes, various buns, cookies, cucumber sandwiches (oh, not!)… and of course, malt whisky under the table. Very good, if a little old-fashioned. Finish: medium – not short – and on malted barley and cakes. Earl grey, please. Comments: delicate and indeed, a little antiquated I would say. Very charming.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

 

 

 

Glen Keith 27 yo 1992/2020 (48.4%, Spirits Shop Selection for LMDW, bourbon barrel, cask #120605, 161 bottles)

Glen Keith 27 yo 1992/2020 (48.4%, Spirits Shop Selection for LMDW, bourbon barrel, cask #120605, 161 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: oh very nice, very refreshing apparently, rather on fresh roots, a little mint, fresh vanilla pods (I mean fresh from a new pack), some citron, then more usual notes of nougat, brioche, white chocolate and custard. You could almost pour this over some pancakes, for breakfast. Quite. Mouth: all on vanilla and citron liqueur, before some mentholy fresh oak would then hit you (most certainly no mizunara involved, but it feels a bit like that). All that’s deliciously coated with some acacia and mint honeys, a little rice pudding, and some rather strong green tea (first waters). Finish: medium, clean, not too different, just a tad breadier and chalkier. A few fruit drops in the aftertaste, perhaps even drops of cranberry juice. Comments: all natural and really super very good plus plus plus (I think you made your point, S).
SGP:561 - 88 points.

 

 

 

We’re a little fast again, aren’t we… Let’s shake the boxes and see what else comes out…

Glen Keith 1995/2017 ‘Forest Fresh’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 315 bottles)

Glen Keith 1995/2017 ‘Forest Fresh’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 315 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s the same whisky, minus the vanilla. Showcases the differences between a refill hogshead and a new barrel. So there’s comparatively more citrus in this one, probably more herbs and grasses too, and certainly much less white chocolate. Mouth: even more refreshing, very tart, citrusy, on acid drops, kiwis, cider apples, and awesome touches of fresh herbs, chervil, parsley (pretty obvious here) and coriander. Even watercress, which I just a.d.o.r.e. Finish: rather long, very fresh tight and bright, with a chalkier signature yet again. Comments: the previous one was a notch more complex, but I’m finding this bright one excellent too.
SGP:661 - 87 points.

Glen Keith 24 yo 1993/2018 (49.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon barrel, cask #18/078, 205 bottles)

Glen Keith 24 yo 1993/2018 (49.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon barrel, cask #18/078, 205 bottles) Four stars
G&M have been carrying Glen Keith’s flag for decades. Colour: pale gold. Nose: could be the higher strength, but I’m finding this one a little hotter, a tad ethanoly, with a little more varnish too, but other than that, there’s more citrus than at Fortnum & Mason’s, rhubarb, greengages, granny smith… There’s even a wee feeling of white calvados. Some vanilla coming out then… Mouth: once again, it's a little hotter, but it would burst with lemon drops, jellybeans, lemongrass, some candyfloss, more rhubarb, gooseberries, green plums… And grapefruits! Very cool and good. Finish: long, tart, with a little fresh bark and grapefruit peel. A touch of coconut and chalk in the aftertaste. Comments: another one that’s very good – and very citrusy.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Good, let’s push this little session up…

Glen Keith 24 yo 1994/2019 (51%, Asta Morris, bourbon, cask #AM129, 179 bottles)

Glen Keith 24 yo 1994/2019 (51%, Asta Morris, bourbon, cask #AM129, 179 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: much, much rougher than all the others, but that could be an asset depending on how it’ll unfold. Icing sugar, lemon and lime juices, clay, lemon oil, green apples, pure grass juice… Boy is this acidic! With water: superb earthy, rooty and grassy notes, while the lemons went gentler. I love these touches of fresh mint leaves, rubbed between your fingers. Mouth (neat): very tart, lemony, acidic, concentrated… I for one am rather fond of this style but watch your teeth’s enamel! With water: oh almost perfect, it would just remain rather extremely tart. Lemons going towards chillies, what’s good is that you could count your vertebras while this baby goes down your digestive tract, as it would send shivers down your spine. No, really, in France this would be reimbursed by Social Security – that’s why we remain almost bankrupt all the time ;-). Finish: long, a tad sweeter and even more mentholy. Comments: I believe we’re now approaching perfection… (but careful!)
SGP:661 - 89 points.

Glen Keith 1993/2018 (55.8%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, Arthurian Tales, sherry hogshead, cask #998, 243 bottles)

Glen Keith 1993/2018 (55.8%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, Arthurian Tales, sherry hogshead, cask #998, 243 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one’s about Sir Galahad, you understand. He was the youngest amongst the knights of the Round Table, but this wee Glen Keith doesn’t look too young I have to say… Colour: straw. Nose: one of the better balanced GKs today, with good cakes, nuts and vanilla on the one hand, and tart citrus on the other hand. The touches of menthol are there too, was menthol always to be found in Glen Keith? With water: grist and porridge, rather good news in my moleskin book. Mouth (neat): just very good, on perfect fresh fruits, slow-mixed with their skins. Better for the vitamins, I’ve heard. Seriously, this is excellent, a tad medicinal, otherwise full of citrus, with minimal vanilla invasion, after all. With water: more medicinal notes. Eucalyptus drops and even a little camphor. Finish: long, with a tad more fresh wood than in the Aston Marti… I mean Asta Morris. Comments: superb drop, King Arthur (and father Lancelot) would be proud.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

Glen Keith 27 yo 1993/2020 (58.4%, Liquid Treasures, From Miles Away, bourbon barrel, cask #8527, 146 bottles)

Glen Keith 27 yo 1993/2020 (58.4%, Liquid Treasures, From Miles Away, bourbon barrel, cask #8527, 146 bottles) Four stars
From their cool series that, I suppose, is paying tribute to Miles Davis ;-). Now remember, ‘Miles Davis never tried to be cool, cool tried to be Miles Davis…’ Of course I’m joking, Miles Davis has nothing to do with this series (? end of note to lawyers). Colour: gold. Nose: let’s not deny it, all these Glen Keiths from neighbouring vintages are pretty close to each other, given that we haven’t seen any real first fill sherry yet. That’s good news because the drop is very lovely, but such a session may become a little ‘yawn’. Great fresh fruits, perhaps a tad more tropical, with a little mango and certainly a few slices of banana. Good. With water: back to the core, with citrus, mint, gras and a little clay. A touch of metal polish too. That’s good enough. Mouth (neat): a fruity explosion and quite some ethanol. Peaches and papayas stealing the show this time, but that may be the higher ABV. With water: all-vitamin fruit juice, peelings, a touch of muscovado sugar, perhaps a little fresh pineapple this time, sweet grass, clematis… Finish: rather long, very fruity. Lemon and banana. Comments: I think I may tend to like the even tighter, more citrusy ones even better, but this flies very high for sure. Miles away and miles ahead (enough with Miles, S.!)
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Glen Keith 21 yo 1996/2018 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill butt, cask #DL12575, 244 bottles)

Glen Keith 21 yo 1996/2018 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill butt, cask #DL12575, 244 bottles) Four stars and a half
Perhaps more sherry in this one… Colour: deep gold. Nose: I’ve never been this glad to welcome raisins and sweet wine to a tasting session. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a sherry bomb at all, but we’re really back on cakes, scones, kougelhopf, baked raisins, sweet wine (okay, PX if you like)… Actually, I’d even dare mentioning Mars bars (a Scottish trauma, I know). Nice nose. With water: Mouth (neat): very good! We’re somehow within the style of the official 21, only with more power. Rum and raisins, caramel sauce, praline, butterscotch, turon, malty bread, a little chalk, caramelised pecans (pure slaughter, as we say)… I believe the tight, zesty style of this distillate combines very well with self-restrained sherry, really. This is proof, tremendously (didn’t we say we’d now stop using this vocabulary, S.?) Finish: rather long, on liquid Mars bar, maple syrup, coffee extract, walnut cake, roasted nuts… It really was a good butt. Great grassiness and lime juice in the aftertaste. Comments: very happy about this one by DL, it came just at the right time. Excellent.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

There’s one free slot left. Shall we try to catch a 90+? With an old one?

Glen Keith-Glenlivet 42 yo 1973/2015 (45.8%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 180 bottles)

Glen Keith-Glenlivet 42 yo 1973/2015 (45.8%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, bourbon hogshead, 180 bottles) Four stars
It’s to be said that they had bottled quite some jewels within the first years after the new lines came out. This is not Mannochmore 8 years old, naturally. Colour: straw. Nose: perhaps not utterly expressive. Waxes, old papers, resinous woods (thuja), elderflowers, old cigars, old tea boxes… There’s something a little ‘passé’ in this one, I would say. Mouth: it’s a softer, more honeyed, and waxier style, but it hasn’t quite got the high-definition of the +/-25yos. Some mead, some old Rivesaltes or Vin Santo, old woods, ointments, liqueurs, old beers, cider, mead, honeydew… It’s all very lovely, but you cannot not feel that it was starting to fade away… Finish: same feeling, but I have to say it strikes back in the aftertaste, with cakes and jams and spices. Comments: what I’m missing is the honeyed stuff that was to be found in some sister casks (1973/43.2%/156 bottles, excellent).
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Looks like we kind of sc***d the grand finale this time. My fault.

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

 

November 24, 2020


Whiskyfun

Bag of Brackla

Just a small bunch…

Royal Brackla 2007/2019 (46%, Scyfion Choice, Banyuls finish, 150 bottles)

Royal Brackla 2007/2019 (46%, Scyfion Choice, Banyuls finish, 150 bottles) Three stars
Banyuls is a Vin Doux Naturel (VDN) from the South of France, not far from the Spanish border on the east side (north of Barcelona, to give you an idea). A Vin Doux Naturel is made more or less like Port, they add eau-de-vie to the must to stop fermentation, thus keeping some natural sugars. Doux means sweet. Colour: gold with salmony hues. Nose: you do really feel the sweet wine, with notes of apricots and raisins.  A little menthol, bay leaves and a little liquorice, as well as touches of milk chocolate and fudge. A tad on the ‘prem-mix’ side but not unpleasant at all.

Mouth: the spices are in the front, with cloves and juniper, then we have burnt raisins and a little paraffin, bordering soap at times. But no big deal, the rest is smooth and raisiny. Finish: medium, more winey. Grape pips, grapes, lees. Comments: I’ve tried a few malts finished in those VDNs, especially a Laphroaig that was, well, pretty uncertain. I believe this little Brackla fared rather better.
SGP:651 - 82 points.



Banyuls
"No sodas in my Banyuls." An interesting French ad for Banyuls from the 1980s. Pretty suicidal if you ask me, but rather authentic.

 

 

 

Royal Brackla 13 yo 2007/2020 (48%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist Collective, first fill sherry butt, 1476 bottles)

Royal Brackla 13 yo 2007/2020 (48%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist Collective, first fill sherry butt, 1476 bottles)
This one from two butts. Colour: brown amber. Nose: we’re really on fudge and toffee, plus walnut cake and some Mars bars this time. Whether those Mars bars had been deep fried or not remains to be seen… Mouth: some spices from the oak (cinnamon, curry) and an obvious leafiness (peach and cherry leaves, that’s the oak too) at first, then rounder, more chocolaty and fudge-y notes, a touch of lavender (sweets), some tarte tatin, the expected walnuts, some apricot tatin, which is like tarte tatin, except that you would use apricots instead of apples. Quite some anise-flavoured liquorice too. Finish: medium, more on burnt cakes, Demerara sugar and milk caramel. Comments: very pleasant, very good, goes down extremely well at 48% vol.
SGP:641 - 85 points.

 

 

 

Perhaps some more ‘natural’ Bracklas?

Royal Brackla 10 yo 2008/2019 (56.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Royal Brackla 10 yo 2008/2019 (56.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles) Four stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: exactly the opposite, that is to say a large bucket full of ripe apples, acacia honey, apple juice, brioche dough, buckwheat, a little vanilla, a little mint, a little sourdough. Truly malt whisky au naturel. With water: barley water, cider, tangerines, quinces, cassata… What’s not to enjoy? Mouth (neat): Very good! Little sugar eggs for Easter, fruit drops, icing sugar, tonic water, Schweppes, white pepper, limoncello. With water: oh even more little easter eggs! Fruit liqueurs, orange, lemon, mandarin, williams pears… You really have to be careful, this one goes down like Franz Klammer on the Lauberhorn. Finish: medium, fresh, on sweet barley and orchard fruits. And citrus. Comments: fresh, joyful and just very, very good. Malt whisky au naturel indeed.
SGP:641 - 87 points.

That one called for more from the same breed…

Royal Brackla 12 yo 2006/2019 (57.37%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 1050 bottles)

Royal Brackla 12 yo 2006/2019 (57.37%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 1050 bottles) Four stars and a half
This baby from four (4) hogsheads. Colour: white wine. Nose: similar aromas at first, but there’s also a wee smokiness, as if one cask – or more - had previously harboured a peater. That gives it a slightly medicinal edge, not unpleasant at all, with a little feeling of ‘baby Ardmore’. With water: really nice, coastal, with some oils and even waxes. Perhaps a little un-Brackla indeed, but I doubt this will go to court. Mouth (neat): excellent, slightly smoky once again, tart, peppery, very lemony, fizzy, Schweppes-y. You would be forgiven for believing this is Ben Nevis, to give you an example. With water: further improves. Hold on, Springbank wood? Finish: long, greatly bitterish, waxy, mineral… Comments: this is one mysterious Brackla. Right up my alley! How do you write ‘Brackla’?
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Hasta la vista.

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

 

November 23, 2020


Whiskyfun

Another Bowmore frenzy

We haven’t done that since… Well, at least six months. A small load of well-behaved Bowmores – meaning that we’ll carefully avoid any ‘flavoured’ OBs. No worries, we’ll manage… But we’ll select them randomly, because that’s funnier (although trickier)…

 

 

 

Bowmore 17 yo 2002/2020 (54.9%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind and Wave)

Bowmore 17 yo 2002/2020 (54.9%, The Character of Islay, The Stories of Wind and Wave)
Colour: white wine. Nose: rather more medicinal than other recent Bowmores, more on flints as well, coal, old stove, metal polish old toolbox, ashes… I do find this nose very classy this far – well I have to, as the price lies north of 350€. But we never taste price tags… With water: oh, shoe polish and the engine of an old Jaguar! That inline 6-cylinder dual overhead camshaft stuff, for example. Mouth (neat): nah, this is brilliant I’m afraid. I’d have loved to slam it (given the price) but let’s be honest, it’s perfect. Waxes, kippers, touches of incense, mangos, ashes, oysters, seawater, marzipan, plasticine… etcetera. With water: grand! Passion fruits and fresh mint coming out. Camphor and eucalyptus too. Even more seawater. Finish: rather long and stunningly briny. A little barley syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: some superlative middle-aged Bowmore that you won’t find within the official range, I’m afraid. Why is another question, but kudos to the actual distillers!
SGP:555 - 91 points.

 

 

Too fast, we’re too fast. Not our fault, though…

Bowmore 30 yo (58%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Edition #3, oloroso, 256 bottles, 2020)

Bowmore 30 yo (58%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, Edition #3, oloroso, 256 bottles, 2020) Five stars
Hope it’s a 1990, and not a 1988 or 1989. Now it’s ex-oloroso, so any whacky notes may have been smoothened out. What’s more, remember what Alexander Fleming used to claim, “If penicillin can cure those that are ill, Spanish sherry can bring the dead back to life." Colour: gold. Nose: very little lavender or Parma violets if any at this point, so I say ‘hurray!’ Rather some pretty tight and tense coastal citrusness, with a large plate of oysters and a lot of lemons. Seawater, clams, kelp, olive brine, a little paper pulp, yoghurt, gentian roots… There sure isn’t anything not to like in here. This far. With water: wet dogs (we’re sorry as always, dogs) and raw wool. Which, in my book, is extremely Bowmore. Mouth (neat): absolutely excellent, on green pepper, oysters, passion fruits, lemons, grapefruits… You see. With water: just high-class. Mango jam, a touch of caramel, then tar, tobacco, clams, seawater, olive oil, riesling… Finish: quite long, perfect, saltier again. A drop of grappa over big fat oysters. Comments: probably 1990, but it’s true that not all 1989s were FWP-ised anyway. I seem to have missed the sherry, though. No big deal, this is perfect Bowmore again.
SGP:656 - 91 points.

It doesn’t look like we’re decelerating, are we… So it’s too early for the OBs…

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2020 (55.2%, North Star Spirits, hogshead, 190 bottles)

Bowmore 18 yo 2001/2020 (55.2%, North Star Spirits, hogshead, 190 bottles) Five stars
Everyone knows that those were good vintages. Colour: straw. Nose: holy Molly, this has more mangos than there are on a mango tree in Mango city. Plus smoked breads and the obligatory oysters. Wow. With water: iodine, bandages, camphor, embrocations, patchouli, angelica, old tweed, wool. Visiting the Islay Woollen Mill – is the funny old gentleman still there? This little Bowmore got more complex, and that’s just lovely. Mouth (neat): just impeccable. Grapefruits, mango juice, mercurochrome, seawater, crab cake. With water: it takes water very well, as do most Bowmores unless they have been tortured with funny woods. Some chocolate coming out, perhaps a little coffee? Finish: go get a bottle if you can find one. Comments: why are you still here?
SGP:646 - 90 points.

Crikey, looks like we won’t manage to bring all this down…

Bowmore 16 yo 2003/2019 (56.6%, Chieftain’s for Or Sileis, Taiwan, barrel, cask #79, 213 bottles)

Bowmore 16 yo 2003/2019 (56.6%, Chieftain’s for Or Sileis, Taiwan, barrel, cask #79, 213 bottles) Five stars
Love it that our friends in Taiwan would have put dragons back onto a Bowmore label. Is that a sea dragon? Colour: light gold. Nose: ah, this is younger and rougher, with a little more ethanol and varnish. Well, barely. Other than that, it’s a slightly thicker Bowmore, with more vanilla, fudge, syrups and cakes. Now the salted liquorice behind all that keeps it very Bowmore-y. With water: oh perfect. Damp magazines and newspapers on your doorstep, coal, shoe polish, brake pads, and just ink. Mouth (neat): I’m afraid this is excellent too. A little green chartreuse (the heavier one) and a few raisins that would have rather suggested sweet sherry. An yet it is a barrel. With water: little liqueurs and some exquisite salty crystallised fruits. A rather marvellous sweet and salty style here, this is just first-rate. Finish: could you smoke pâtes de fruit? Much more salt in the aftertaste – but remember, there’s no salt in whisky. Comments: I’m feeling miserable, I just couldn’t find a baddish Bowmore so far. Not that we must, mind you.
SGP:646 - 90 points.

Okay, let’s resort to drastic measures…

Bowmore ‘Vault Edition’ (50.1%, OB, Second Release, 2019)

Bowmore ‘Vault Edition’ (50.1%, OB, Second Release, 2019) Three stars and a half
I should have tried this earlier, agreed, but the First Release had been only okayish ‘plus’ in my book (WF 81). Now they have this newer one at Amazon’s, not a very good sign in my book. Colour: gold. Nose: burnt caramel and metal polish, some sour woods, corn syrup, pu-her tea, lapsang souchong and tar mints. Ah, but this is pretty nice, I think! I was hoping for a dud, seriously (I mean, seriously!) With water: copper coins and grappa. Mouth (neat): but yes! Smoked and salted chocolate and marmalade, oak, Spanish ham, salted raisins, walnuts… And it’s not even too heavy, although it would tend to get a little drying and bitter. Let’s see… With water: it swims pretty badly, careful! Do not go down to below 45% please, or you’ll unearth stale chocolate and tea plus sour brine. It remains rather good at 48.  Finish: long and salty, with notes of some kind of metallic Bull Dog sauce. Some Tabasco in the aftertaste – I am not joking. Comments: I shouldn’t have added any water, that wrecked it on the palate. What’s sure is that it’s better, I think, than the first release.
SGP:465 - 84 points.

Hey, we did it! So I think we’re ready for another OB…

Bowmore 25 yo (43%, OB, +/-2019)

Bowmore 25 yo (43%, OB, +/-2019) Two stars
Oh no, they have this one too on Amazon! Let’s try to behave as if that was not the case and try to dissipate any bad smells; now I would understand that those nasty tax-evaders would have had Bell’s worst swill, but Bowmore 25? Frankly, that stinks, Bowmore! Colour: amber. Nose: let’s get Amazon out of our head… (deep breath)… right, it’s light, a little uncertain, wishy-washy, mentholy (not in a good way), and kind of stale. The last 25 I had tried had been weak as well (WF 78) but I had hoped they would have improved the stuff. Now, the fact that they had to put it on Amazon speaks volumes. Mouth: oh for god’s sake no. Weak, caramelly, on bad industrial chocolate and Twinning’s worst black tea. Finish: medium, salty, sour, with odd perfume-y notes, as if they had thrown some of those nasty 1980s batches into the vatting tanks. Comments: it just kills me. I’m sad that this poor baby crossed my humble path, but let’s not be too harsh. After all, this is a 25 years old Bowmore, and Bowmore is Bowmore.
SGP:364 - 72 points.

Good, looks like we managed to curb our enthusiasm…

Bowmore 20 yo 2000/2020 (51.7%, WhiskySponge, 172 bottles)

Bowmore 20 yo 2000/2020 (51.7%, WhiskySponge, 172 bottles) Four stars and a half
It’s not surprising that a Sponge would have selected a pretty coastal malt whisky from Signatory’s. Now one worthy question, do sponges grow around the isle of Islay? Do they even grow in Loch Indaal? Colour: straw. Nose: back on track, with more purity, oils, cakes, broken branches, barley and doughs. Seawater too, sunflower oil, ink, samphires… It’s just not very peaty. But peat is so 2000s, is it not. With water: reminds me of some dry Hungarian furmint. Wet flour, grist, plaster, raw wool, fresh bark. Mouth (neat): salty lemon juice, tequila, readymade margarita, seawater, olives and capers, notes of viognier… That’s all fun! With water: please do not add too much water. Leaven, salty dough, salty walnut cake, liquorice wood… Finish: medium, rather on those fermentary notes, porridge, more fruity viognier… Comments: excellent, just not a very smoky Bowmore. Shan’t we call it Bowless, as some good folks are calling the unpeated Ardmores ‘Ardless’? Not an instantly recognisable Bowmore, but the drop is great, as they say in rugby.
SGP:465 - 89 points.

(Gracias, Ryan)

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

 

November 22, 2020


Whiskyfun

Cognac vs armagnac, an alternative malternative session

We’ve had good fun recently with some cognacs and armagnacs, so we’re rather in a brandy mood I have to say. I say let’s have a few more and rather do that un-orthodoxically – meaning at complete random. Except that we’ll first have a little ‘apéro’…

ad

I’ve always loved this strange old ad for armagnac that was stressing the different terroirs. Oh and this is more proof that Man is part of terroir indeed (yes I’m part of that brigade). >>

Gilles Brisson ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, cognac Grande Champagne, +/-2018)

Gilles Brisson ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, cognac Grande Champagne, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
A very affordable and rather widely available little VSOP, integrally made from ugni blanc. It’s labelled as Grande Champagne ‘1er Cru’, but remember the entirety of Grande Champagne is ‘1er Cru’, so nothing superior in any way here. Colour: dark amber. Nose: a fresh and pleasant nose, starting with the usual yellow flowers, preserved peaches, raisins, and maple syrup. Tends to become more honeyed after a while, but some caramelly touches of showing up too. Nice nose, nonetheless, simple and clean. Mouth: good and fresh, on pretty much the same flavours and aromas as on the nose. Once again we’re a wee bit on the caramelly side, I’m finding some café latte too, as well as a good lad of roasted raisins. Finish: medium, rather too sweet now – I mean for me. Really a lot of raisins, molasses and caramel. Comments: very, very nice nose, while the arrival was fine before it all got rather too sweet for this whisky enthusiast.
SGP:751 - 78 points.

Perhaps an aperitive-y armagnac too?..

Comte de Lauvia 21 yo (40%, OB, armagnac, +/-2018)

Comte de Lauvia 21 yo (40%, OB, armagnac, +/-2018) Three stars
I don’t think this house owns any estates, they’re only ‘éleveurs’. This baby should be a blend, as it just says ‘armagnac’. Colour: deep amber. Nose: clearly grassier than the cognac, less aromatic, with rather more coffee, chocolate, pine needles, also some humus, earth, whiffs of glue and varnish, camphor, resin… So we would be rather closer to malt whisky, in a way. Mouth: extremely different from the cognac indeed, harsher (not in a bad way), much, much drier, on more varnish, coffee, chestnuts and walnuts… Were we in Jerez, we could almost say this is an oloroso whereas the cognac was a PX. Almost! Finish: medium, very dry, on more coffee, raw chocolate, walnut wine, pine liqueur, and perhaps just one or three prunes in the aftertaste. Well-aged slivovitz, coffee beans, black tea... Comments: another one that would fetch higher marks at a higher strength. Even 42% would make all the difference.
SGP:361 - 82 points.

Back to cognac…

Fins Bois 2001/2020 ‘Bio’ (50.8%, Grosperrin)

Fins Bois 2001/2020 ‘Bio’ (50.8%, Grosperrin) Five stars
This one’s certified fully organic. I believe this very well reputed house already issued some 2001 bio under various strengths. This one’s very recent… Colour: gold. Nose: as far as cognac goes, this is the opposite to the Brisson, as it is much tighter, yet complex, with a perfect balance between grasses and fruits. I’m finding rather big notes of wild blueberries for starters, which is rather uncommon I believe, then some peaches poached in honey-and-mint sauce, also verbena and woodruff, wormwood even, figs, roses… It’s very subtle, in the old days we would have added that it’s rather on the feminine side. Mouth: firm, luminous, tight and yet complex, with more or less the same aromas as on the nose, plus delicate notes of liquorice. Notes of viognier, really. This one triangulates to perfection and is already very tertiary for its age. But the freshness remains amazing. Finish: long, with these small bits of liquorice spread all over the numerous fresh fruits, flowers and herbs. Some melon skin. Comments: some complex, elegant and rather refreshing middle-aged cognac from Grosperrin’s. Extremely solid aged spirit, heartily recommended.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

We’re too high already (I mean, this session is too high). Let’s try to find a good sparring partner from armagnac… And drop all the ones that were bottled at 40% vol.!

Laberdolive 1993/2018 ‘Domaine de Jaurrey’ (46%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Laberdolive 1993/2018 ‘Domaine de Jaurrey’ (46%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) Three stars and a half
Domaine de Jaurrey does belong to the old-school house Laberdolive, located in the Landes at Labastide d’Armagnac. So not in the Gers. What’s incredible with these houses is that in 2020, they may well own north of 40ha of vines while they wouldn’t even have a website. Not sure we should blame them, having said that. Colour: gold. Nose: the Grosperrin feels bombastic now, as this is a rather shy, dry, rather grassy armagnac that would rather play it on hay, soft herbal teas, dried flowers, apple peel, greengages, fresh bark, just a small white peach, and just a dollop of eucalyptus tea sweetened with light honey. I would have said cognac. Mouth: I would have said cognac once more. Notes of melons and peaches, earl grey, sultanas, just a few spicy touches (saffron, cinnamon) then a little caramel and muscovado sugar. A little nougat too. Finish: short to medium, rather on peelings than on fruit flesh or juices. Keeps showing self-restraint. Comments: very good, but frankly, the Grosperrin was a killer. My bad, I should have waited.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Back to Cognac City…

Vallein-Tercinier XO ‘Bûche de Noël’ (44%, OB for Malternative Belgium, 150 bottles, 2020)

Vallein-Tercinier XO ‘Bûche de Noël’ (44%, OB for Malternative Belgium, 150 bottles, 2020) Four stars and a half
This new blend is said to be 20 years old, more or less. Bûche de Noël means yule log, so we might be too early with this one, but this is Vallein-Tercinier and we are Whiskyfun, capeesh? Colour: amber. Nose: cognac provençal? Funny that I would find liquorice and black olives in this one, a touch of aniseed (there, pastis) as well as almost tons of black nougat. This should count as one of the twelve desserts of Christmas – a Provençal thing indeed. Mouth: a tad gritty at first (crikey, I might have said armagnac), then very chocolaty, with various fruit fillings, prunes perhaps, rum (rum’s not a fruit, S.), some coffee, some praline, more nougat, a little tobacco, and a good glass of middle-aged rancio from Rivesaltes. No, that’s not quite in Provence anymore. Finish: rather long, chocolaty, with raisins and rum. Sultanas, ripe peaches and melons are coming in the aftertaste, together with a little mint. Comments: just excellent, very ‘full’, whatever that means. I’ll keep a few cls for Christmas eve.  
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Armagnac’s turn…

Aurian 1979/2020 (49.6%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, armagnac, 144 bottles)

Aurian 1979/2020 (49.6%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, armagnac, 144 bottles) Four stars
Aurian are located in Condom. This a single cask, so it should stem from one of the region’s ‘Crus’, but it wouldn’t say and is just labelled as ‘armagnac’. Oh well, that’s not what counts… Colour: deep amber. Nose: high varnish at first, which gives it a kind of Jamaican side (actually, between Jamaican rum and bourbon), then pine needles and resins, then the usual stewed fruits, only well-concentrated in the pan. Prunes, raisins… The rather huge pine-y side is sometimes to be found in old armagnacs that have spent a lot of years in wood, like 60, or 70 years. They would usually decant in demijohns before that would happen, but I have to say I’m rather a fan of this style. Water would bring out… olives! Mouth: spectacular and, indeed, very woody. Over the top for sure, but I know a few guys who would just love this. I have to say I’m not totally hostile to this either, provided no one forces me to down more than half a glass at a time. Fir sap, resins, terpenes, glue, heavy liquorice, cedar wood, tapenade… and marmalade! Finish: very long (so careful) and always very piney. Comments: I’m adding a score because I feel I must. If you love this style you’ll find it too low, whilst if you don’t…
SGP:272 - 85 points.

We could go tackle the 1960s and earlier decades, but I think we’ll rather do a few proper ‘old brandies’ sessions for Christmas this year. So let’s remain fresh and young. Cognac’s turn…

Grande Champagne No.80 (57.5%, Grosperrin, +/-2020)

Grande Champagne No.80 (57.5%, Grosperrin, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
Grosperrin’s range isn’t always easy to navigate and I’m not sure the most experienced chicken would find all her chicklets there, but don’t we all enjoy mysteries in spirits? Colour: deep reddish amber. Nose: old balsamico, dried mushrooms, varnish, cocoa, rotting oranges, mocha, pipe tobacco, tamarind, flowers (peonies), whiffs of ylang-ylang (to be found in some Mauritian rums when they don’t bury them under tons of sugar syrups)… In short a darker, perhaps more rustic cognac. I might have said armagnac (come on now…) With water: old magazines, ink, old books, concrete dust, scoria, even shoe polish… Mouth: rustic for sure, even a tad heavy, concentrated, rather mentholy and liquoricy, imagine it would even speak with the massive Aurian 1979. So big boy cognac, a tad acrid and pungent in truth, but indeed, the ABV is high. So with water: gets a little meatier. Soups, bouillons, bitter herbs, thyme and rosemary, plasticine… Indeed we’re almost in old malt whisky territory. Finish: long, still rustic, a little bitter, waxy… Green crude chocolate… Comments: I like it but it’s clearly for your flasque. I mean, flask. I believe the Fins Bois 2001 was on another planet.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

It's getting complicated, with these cognacs that taste like armagnacs, and conversely. Good, one more armagnac before we draw the curtains…

Domaine de Baraillon 1985/2018 (46%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine de Baraillon 1985/2018 (46%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) Five stars
I had tried an earlier 1985 by Baraillon and thought it was just stunning (WF 92). Now I’m about to send a letter to Frau Von der Leyen to complain about the fact that it appears that the Belgians seem to have built a secret pipeline that runs from Lannemaignan (where Baraillon are located) to Brussels while the French weren’t watching. Having said that, in Alsace we’re good friends with the Belgians, so I may decide to rather dispose of that most official letter, we’ll see… Colour: amber. Nose: where does this fantastic meatiness come from? Liquorice, Spanish ham, Bull Dog sauce, honey-glazed spareribs, green walnuts, high-class-super-duper Manzanilla, new box of Cuban cigars, cedar wood, old vinegars, furniture polish… And that thing that just always kills anything else in my book: olives. Impressive nose that reminds me of some wartime malt whiskies, Macallan, Mortlach… Mouth: metalogical aged spirit, salty, meaty, sour, vinegary, tobacco-y, acetic… With old and fresh walnuts, raw chocolate, chen-pi, green coffee, pu-her, hoisin sauce… There’s clearly something Asian here. I suppose some brandy exegetes would state that this is a little flawed, but from a whisky drinker’s POV, I would certainly disagree. Finish: rather long and pretty fermentary. More hoisin. Absent-minded quaffers would probably believe they just downed half a pint of amontillado. Comments: I’m not totally sure it’s good spirit, it’s just that it is exactly the kind of profile that I like best. Remember, individual opinions only, but didn’t Plato say that opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance? (says Facebook).
SGP:372 - 93 points.

So, between cognac or armagnac, who won, you may ask? Well we won, my friend!

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

 

November 21, 2020


Whiskyfun

Another loco hotchpotch tasting around the world
(today Germany, Italy, France, UK, Switzerland and Taiwan)

These are strange spirits, which sometimes reach my doorstep and, well, I put them into boxes until some kind of heavenly sign tells me I should open one and try what’s inside, randomly. Let’s see what we have today… And please note that this is done in a ‘solera’ fashion, meaning that not all spirits will be tasted within the very same sessions. We’re no fools.

Sechsämtertropfen (35%, OB, Germany, +/-1980?)

Sechsämtertropfen (35%, OB, Germany, +/-1980?) Three stars
Right, this is some ‘würziger halbbitter’ from Wunsiedel in Sechsämterland, which is located in Upper-Franconia, in the north of Bavaria. It’s said that this is rich in sorb berries, which is obviously pretty cool. I’ve seen on the Internet that they now bottle it at 33% vol., whilst this was still a 35%. version. Aren’t they cutting corners and counting beans everywhere in the booze world? Having said that, I don’t know what to expect… Colour: red amber. Nose: I’ll say it, I’m sometimes a sucker for old herb liqueurs, as long as they aren’t too sweet. This one is full of caraway and fennel seeds, also thyme, liquorice, and perhaps a little coffee but that may be my mind playing tricks because of the colour. Anyway, I really enjoy these kinds of noses,  and remember old bottles of liqueur can age particularly well. Ask a talented mixologist! Mouth: right, it is sweet, but never quite cloying, and certainly very complex, rather more on the fruity side (pineapple?) We’re finding the usual suspects yet again, caraway, aniseed, rosemary, liquorice, mint… I really find this good, and rather more to my liking that that famous brand that starts with Jäger and ends with meister. Now older bottles of Jäger may be better than current ones too. No I cannot remember because in the old days, we would never start to tackle Jägermeister when not completely drunk already. I mean, come on, that was more than forty years ago … Finish: long, without that feeling of having to brush your teeth a.s.a.p. Comments: very good surprise, a really fine ‘Tropfen’ (drop).
SGP:770 - 80 points.

Haselnuss Slyrsfass (42%, OB, Lantenhammer, Germany, +/-2015)

Haselnuss Slyrsfass (42%, OB, Lantenhammer, Germany, +/-2015)
A funny bottle that, with a few Malt Maniacs, we gathered at the Slyrs distillery in Bavaria a few years back. Apparently, they roast and crush some Turkish hazelnuts, let them macerate in neutral alcohol for twenty days, redistil in a pot-still, mature in their typical huge stoneware jars for one year, then transfer the result in ex-Slyrs whisky casks for a few more months, and finally reduce and bottle. Let’s see if that works… Colour: white wine. Nose: it is both a little ethanoly and clearly on hazelnuts, with some rooty and earthy touches. There are even echoes of gentian, while we’re extremely far from those very heady hazelnut liqueurs that you’ll find in supermarkets or tourist shops. The jury’s still out… Mouth: a little sugary and spirity at first, and actually rather vodka-y. I don’t find the hazelnuts very active here, it’s all a little too raw and sweet for me. Finish: short, a little sugary, with a slightly cloying aftertaste. Comments: no ‘liquid praline’ here, but this was an early batch, I would guess they’ve improved the recipe since back then. The hazelnuts remained discreet.
SGP:520 - 55 points.

Stoneware?...

Anfora (43%, OB, Marzadro, Grappa, +/-2019)

Anfora (43%, OB, Marzadro, Grappa, +/-2019) Two stars
This grappa from Trentin was finished in terracotta, which is supposed to generate twice as much micro-oxygenation than barrels. A shame that that would be forbidden with Scotch whisky, I’d love to see some Clynelish or Springbank being matured in earthenware. I would do a joint venture, call them vodka if needed or possible, and name them Clynebank and Springlish. Good idea, no?  Colour: white. Nose: well, it’s a good grappa it seems. Grapes, touches of lees and crushed stems, sour cherries perhaps… A fine nose. Mouth: thick, as if a little sugar had been added, or even glycerine, but that may come from the amphoras, not too sure. Otherwise a sweet, slightly muscaty style, not very deep, but not unpleasant either. Finish: medium, rather fruity. Comments: much easier and rounder than good marcs. A fine little drop but I would think it rather needs ice-cold temperatures.  
SGP:720 - 70 points.

La Vieille Prune ‘Réserve de la Maison’ (42%, OB, Louis Roques, +/-2015)

La Vieille Prune ‘Réserve de la Maison’ (42%, OB, Louis Roques, +/-2015) Three stars
This stems from Souillac, capital city of ‘prune’, a.k.a. damson plum eau-de-vie. Old prunes have their dedicated aficionados, but sadly, many are sweetened-up, let’s see. Colour: straw. Nose: extremely aromatic, sweet and sour, fermentary and acetic. Big varnish and even bigger acetone, all that within an extremely rough and funky style, reminiscent of a blend of Jamaican rum and Baiju. Or something like that. Mouth: very very good, wacky, funky, unusual, with notes of rotten fruits and Demerara sugar beyond some fruit vinegar and fermented fruit sauce, Bull-Dog style. Very good, really. Finish: long, a tad sweet, really very much on rotting plums, rubber and varnish. Comments: big stuff! If you’re not afraid of dirtier and farmier spirits, you may try to find a wee bottle of this…
SGP:651 - 82 points.

Old Raj 2017/2019 (55%, Cadenhead, rum barrel gin)

Old Raj 2017/2019 (55%, Cadenhead, rum barrel gin)
Good, this is gin matured in an ex-rum barrel that had previously contained some Kilkerran. In short, some kind of matrioshka-spirit, matured for exactly 677 days according to the very honourable makers. Colour: almost white. Nose: gin, tot too soapy this time, and rather on a lot of lemon peel and oil, with only touches of juniper and cologne. I would imagine even people who aren’t English would kind of enjoy this when there’s no Springbank around. With water: no real changes. Mouth (neat): where have I put my wee bottle of 4711? With water: some sugar coming out, juniper, lime, a little basil, Seville oranges, lip balm, cologne indeed… I suppose someone could even swallow this. Finish: medium, sweeter. Comments: I do confirm that I am neither English, nor a gin guy, but if I were one of them, I’m sure I’d rather like this baby. Ha, diplomacy.
SGP:660 - (no score) points.

Absinthe ‘Ça C’en Est’ (51%, clandestine bottling, Switzerland)

Absinthe ‘Ça C’en Est’ (51%, clandestine bottling, Switzerland) Four stars
This was a label that was used by several clandestine absinth makers while that was illegal in Switzerland, so between 1910 and 2005. The ones from Val de Travers have always been legendary. ‘Ça c’en est’ means ‘this is the real deal’. Colour: straw. Nose: wonderful blend of aniseed, fennel seeds, hints of tar, celeriac, natural rubber, a little ink, earth, touch of nail polish… With water: interestingly, water does not exactly make it milky, as ouzo or pastis get when watered down. Now the nose gets much tarrier, tarmacky would I add, with whiffs of diesel oil and brake fluid. Whether that comes from the raw materials or from very ‘artisanal’ distilling methods, I’m not too sure. Mouth (neat): some kind of rootier, earthier and more herbal pastis if you like. Some wormwood of course, aniseed, fennel, sage, eucalyptus, savory leaves, liquorice, mint… I find this very good, but I’m already feeling a little dizzy… I am jesting. With water: not many changes, perhaps a floral side coming out? Finish: long, really a lot on aniseed now. An unexpected salty/rooty touch in the aftertaste, which strives for Dutch salted liquorice. Comments: I haven’t added any sugar, but there sure was a little sweetness in the first place. Great drop if you like anything aniseed, but go find such a bottle these days!
SGP:481 - 85 points.

Gebirgs Enzian (40%, OB, Grassl, gentian, Germany, +/-2015)

Gebirgs Enzian (40%, OB, Grassl, gentian, Germany, +/-2015) Two stars and a half
The Grassl distillery is located in, ach, err, Berchtesgaden, in the Bavarian Alps. Did he like Gentian? Hold on, wasn’t he a teetotaller? Anyway, I am a sucker for gentian eau-de-vie, provided it’s not been sweetened up, like they often do in the Alps. Colour: white. Nose: it’s rather a light one, but the style is clean, very rooty and earthy, pretty medicinal as expected, without too many turnips or celeriac, and just a rather pure gentianness (what’s that, S.?) Mouth: very little sugar if any, hurray, but it is a macerated gentian of course (no pure fermented gentian), so it hasn’t quite got the power of the plant. Having said that, the lemony side and the feeling of crunching a stick of celery are pleasant. A rather good macerated gentian in my book. Finish: good length. Loses focus in the aftertaste (burnt sugar). Comments: I know that not even a tenth of the population likes gentian, which people usually find too medicinal and earthy, but hey, more for us!
SGP:370 - 79 points.

Omar ‘Plum Cask First Batch’ (51%, OB, TTL, Nantou, Taiwan, 700 bottles)

Omar ‘Plum Cask First Batch’ (51%, OB, TTL, Nantou, Taiwan, 700 bottles) Three stars and a half
We already loved several Omars by Taiwan’s Nantou Distillery, but this is something else, as this whisky (because it is whisky) has been finished in green plum liqueur barrels. What we sometimes called a ‘Rotary Club idea’, you know when a maker of this meets the maker of that and they decide to ‘do something together’. Not always for charity, mind you. Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts a little rubbery and sulphury, but once you get past the arrival things do improve, with indeed notes of soft prunes (we’d say greengages) and guavas. Some bready notes from the malt, but it is ‘something else’. With water: similar. Mouth (neat): good, very sweet and rounded, creamy, rather on jams, vanilla, and indeed preserved plums. Once again were reminded of greengages. Touch of honey. With water: water does wonders, and the whiskiness comes out now. Orange cake, apricot jam, gingerbread… All good. Finish: medium, sweet, jammy, rather well constructed. Comments: the thing is, the Scots could not finish one of their whiskies in ‘plum casks’ – well I hope so – which makes this odd one even more interesting. They made it well and certainly not too Frankensteiny.
SGP:641 - 83 points.

While we’re doing odd spirits…

Ava Tahiti ‘Ananas’ (40%, OB, Distillerie Tahiti Moorea, +/-1995)

Ava Tahiti ‘Ananas’ (40%, OB, Distillerie Tahiti Moorea, +/-1995) Two stars
In my experience and according to popular wisdom, it is extremely difficult to distil tropical fruits without coming up with soapy and varnishy spirits, just because they’re too aromatic in the first place. Concentrate something that’s already pretty concentrated and there, you’re blown off the road if you’re not careful. Believe me, I’ve tried to distil mangos… But this is pineapple! Colour: white. Nose: fruity Comté cheese and pears poached in Sauternes, I would say, then indeed some fresher notes of pineapples, with this little steely side. Nicer than I had expected, to be honest. Mouth: a little hot and unprecise at first, then going towards purer notes of cooked pineapples. We’ll never reach fresh fruits mind you, but it’s really not bad. Funny notes of stewed strawberries, perhaps do both fruits share some common molecules? Finish: medium, grassier. Reminiscent of pineapple wine – did you ever try pineapple wine? The aftertaste is a tad grassy and bitter. Comments: pineapples are tricky but the distillers were good. Now they’ve stopped making these quite some years ago.
SGP:451 - 75 points.

Do we say we stop at ten?

Quitte vom Hausgarten (41%, OB, Etter, Switzerland, +/-2019)

Quitte vom Hausgarten (41%, OB, Etter, Switzerland, +/-2019) Three stars
These fine distillers are located in Zug, where the spirits are high and the taxes extremely low. Just saying. Quitte means quince in German, and we do just totally love quince spirit. But last time I made quince myself with my friends, I almost broke the still because quince sticks to the copper and could just suck it in and make the pot implode if you’re not very careful. These eaux-de-vie are matured in steel tanks. Colour: white. Nose: yeah, nice, pure quince, very precise, a tad cologne-y as always, but that’s rather a good sign. It’s either that or burnt notes, which the distillers should avoid at any cost. Mouth: very good, fruity, all on quince and nothing else. That’s the game with eau-de-vie, all you want is fruit purity. Well done, Etter. Finish: medium, pure, perhaps a tad sweet but that’s fine. Notes of pear tarte in the aftertaste, which is totally normal. Comments: yep, good quince. I would have liked it even better without the sugary touch, but to be honest, almost all distillers in Mitteleuropa are adding a little sugar to their eaux-de-vie. Sure they should stop, but there.
SGP:630 - 82 points.

That would be ten.

(Merci Christian and Lucero…)

 

November 20, 2020


Whiskyfun

A barrow of Linkwood

I keep looking for roses in Linkwood, since Michael Jackson used to say that was one of the distillery’s main markers. Let’s have a few putative bouquets at random…

 

 

 

Linkwood 13 yo 2007/2020 (54.1%, Hidden Spirits, bourbon hogshead, cask #LK09720)

Linkwood 13 yo 2007/2020 (54.1%, Hidden Spirits, bourbon hogshead, cask #LK09720)
Colour: white wine. Nose: awesome freshness here. Barley and sugarcane juices, butterscotch, bananas flambéed, freshly squeezed oranges, praline, café latte, and our beloved croissants au beurre. Hard to resist… With water: shortbread and even more butterscotch. Crêpes filled with puréed chestnuts and maple syrup, plus barley water and some sweet maize bread. Mouth (neat): a little more on the fruity side here. Orange drops, pear bonbons, IPA, then custard tart, cheesecake and a few drops of quince eau-de-vie (best E.D.V. in da world when it’s well-made – one of the worst when not). With water: sweet malt everywhere, gueuze, a wee fizzy/gingery side. Finish: medium and rather on orange cake. Comments: super good, malty and sweet. Liquid pastry.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

 

 

Linkwood 13 yo 2006/2020 (58.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist Collective, Sherry butt recask, 1398 bottles)

Linkwood 13 yo 2006/2020 (58.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist Collective, Sherry butt recask, 1398 bottles)
This baby from two butts. I suppose ‘recask’ means ‘reracked’? Colour: amber. Nose: loads of toasted oak here, turon, warm praline, chocolate, raisin roll, nougat, a little mint oil, charcoal… With water: some very earthy, truffle-y sherry, moss, walnut bogs, bicycle inner tube, balsa wood, pine needles… Mouth (neat): really firm, punchy, but with a little Nutella (that’s vicious!), then herbs and a rubbery touch. I find it a little biting but I have the feeling that water will do it much goodness. With water: leaves, fern, green walnuts, orange skins, rubber… Okay then. Finish: rather long, very leafy. Some burnt praline in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, obviously, but this baby’s been pretty restless. It’s been looking for a fight all along! Now I’m the one that does the scores here.
SGP:361 - 82 points.

 

 

 

Linkwood 10 yo 2009/2020 (48%, Elixir Distillers, Reserve Casks Parcel #4, 2020)

Linkwood 10 yo 2009/2020 (48%, Elixir Distillers, Reserve Casks Parcel #4, 2020) Three stars
I believe this is a rather large small batch. Colour: white wine. Nose: beer, grist, leaves, fern, grass, touches of coffee, roasted nuts… Gets then rounder and maltier and more chocolaty by the minute. Stuff by Rowntree or Hershey’s. I know. Mouth: more action on the palate, but it is not the easy, sexy, malty baby that I was expecting. Some grass, a little rubber, sour oranges, pils, porridge… Finish: medium, rather green and grassy. Comments: I believe this one too won’t win the Nobel Prize of Whisky, but it’s a good drop for sure. What’s on Netflix tonight?
SGP:451 - 81 points.

Linkwood 10 yo 2009/2020 (46%, James Eadie, recharred hogshead, casks #314374, 314377, 314381)

Linkwood 10 yo 2009/2020 (46%, James Eadie, recharred hogshead, casks #314374, 314377, 314381) Three stars and a half
They are masters at this recharring game. I’m not a fan ‘philosophically’, but I rather love the end results – which may lead to schizophrenia indeed. Let’s be careful… Colour: gold. Nose: a Parisian bakery around 6am. Warm croissants, raisin rolls, baguettes and brioches. Totally decadent and regressive – all you still need is a handful of gilets-jaunes. Poor people. Mouth: coffee, breads, cookies, a leafy side as well. Tea and apple peeling. Finish: medium, a little hotter and rougher now. Leaves. Comments: very good, just not as exceptional as I had first thought.
SGP:461 - 83 points.

Linkwood 12 yo 2008/2020 (52.9%, Maltbarn, 143 bottles)

Linkwood 12 yo 2008/2020 (52.9%, Maltbarn, 143 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: sweet beers, sunflower oil, pine nuts, houmous, scones. There. With water: Lagunitas and naked pancakes. Mouth (neat): very good. Burnt cakes, kougelhopf, panettone (all a little burnt), chicory coffee, toasted oak. With water: roasted chestnuts, toasted bread, roasted pecans and walnuts. Finish: medium, a tad more rubbery and leafy this time again. Is that a thing with all those vintages of Linkwood? Comments: this note was short but the whisky was rather very good.
SGP:461 - 84 points.

Nice remontada, isn’t it...

Linkwood 11 yo 2008/2020 (54.2%, Adelphi for Hotmalt Taiwan, 1st fill oloroso hogshead, cask #308339)

Linkwood 11 yo 2008/2020 (54.2%, Adelphi for Hotmalt Taiwan, 1st fill oloroso hogshead, cask #308339) Four stars and a half
I have good feelings here… Colour: amber. Nose: yes, roasted cakes, roasted peanuts, espresso, shoe polish, brownies, chocolates and a little charcoal (alliteration alert!) With water: very lovely, chocolate and umami, that’s hard to beat within this style – sure it’s no ex-refill-hoggie Clynelish. Mouth (neat): oh good! Minerals, peppers, chocolates, herbs, coffee liqueur (check Algebra’s extra dry coffee liqueur!) and triple-sec. With water: gets pretty dry and very oloroso-y. Coffee and walnut wine, I suppose that’s the whole point here. I’m declaring success. Finish: long and chocolaty. Some tarter oranges in the aftertaste, that’s even better. Comments: some ravishing young oloroso-ed malt. Sure, in this kind of case, the wood makes the whisky!
SGP:362 - 88 points.

I think we deserve an older vintage before we call this a tasting session…

Linkwood 30 yo 1987/2018 (57.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, refill sherry butt, 480 bottles)

Linkwood 30 yo 1987/2018 (57.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, refill sherry butt, 480 bottles) Four stars and a half
You need to understand that this was distilled when the loch was high and the market as flat as a pancake (some would have used other comparisons when Murray was still on). Colour: gold. Nose: oh yes, cigarettes and nuts plus praline, nougat and earl grey tea. Awesome nose. With water: menthol cigarettes! Bay leaves! Eucalyptus! Halva and nougat! Turkish delights! Mouth (neat): a few bitterish notes flying around, but other than that, this is a rather perfect combo, with soft (pink) peppers, hops, herbal teas (rosehip) and juicy breads. Pumpernickel! With water: looks like we almost found a 90-pointer, this baby’s maybe just a wee tad too leafy to attain perfection. Finish: medium, maltier, more on teas. Rather coffee and pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: that was close. A great drop, nonetheless, it’s just that Linkwood may lack a wee bit of spirit character to make it to higher grounds in our humble little book.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

No roses today, sadly.

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

 

November 19, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Three Glenallachie
Glenallathree? No, of course not. I’m very sorry. Anyway, there’s quite a lot of Glenallachie hitting the virtual shelves these days since Billy Walker and his team purchased it, which is always something to be celebrated from any formerly ‘quiet’ distillery in my view (who said ‘apart from Speyburn!’) Anyway, there’s a new official cask strength 21 year old out, so let’s have that along with a suitable aperitif and sparring partner.

 

Glenallachie 10 yo ‘Batch 3’ (49.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 2483 bottles)

Glenallachie 10 yo ‘Batch 3’ (49.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 2483 bottles)
Another of these wee humble, age-stated youngsters that Boutique-y seem to do pretty effortlessly these days. Colour: gold. Nose: lovely! An immediate warmth of gingerbread, butterscotch, toffee apple, wee touches of hessian and apple crumble with custard. Some golden syrup, sultanas and milk chocolate. A wonderfully easy-going and rather bright sherry profile. Mouth: toasted Brazil nuts, walnuts, a few herbal ointments, more praline and milk chocolate and also some leathery and earthy touches. More robust spiciness, like the hot end of a full bodied cigar. Finish: medium, warm and generously spicy with nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Some more earthy and bitter chocolate notes now. Comments: Simple, bright, clean and fresh. An extremely classical ‘sherried Speyside’ style I would say. The kind of dram that would pacify an army of willing grandmothers and uncles over the festive season.
SGP: 561 - 86 points.

 

 

Glenallachie 21 yo Cask Strength ‘Batch 1’ (51.4%, OB, PX sherry, 1600 bottles)

Glenallachie 21 yo Cask Strength ‘Batch 1’ (51.4%, OB, PX sherry, 1600 bottles)
A marriage of five PX sherry puncheons and hogsheads from 1997 and 1998 respectively. Colour: amber. Nose: soft at first, leaf mulch, lemon polenta cake, old madeira, fir wood sap and hardwood resins. Indeed, it maintains this rather lofty and fragrant profile that encompasses sandalwood, dried herbs, bergamot, espresso and over time some rather dense notes of bitter orange marmalade. Clean, rich and rather complex. With water: many more orange notes emerge. Mandarin, crystallised orange, orange tea etc… there’s also some attractively savoury earthy and umami notes as well. Mouth: dark fruits, wood saps, pine resins, dried herbs, hops - even cannabis resin! Then dried mint, eucalyptus bark, tea tree oils, cheng pi, miso and some pretty earthy aged Pu erh tea. Rather a lot of bitter herbal extracts, cloves and walnut oil now. With water: brown bread spread with treacle, toasted walnuts, Irish coffee, bitter lemon and more of these nicely punchy herbal bitters. Finish: good length, peppery, earthy, just the right side of bitter and with more roots, herbs, tobacco, bitter chocolate and marmalade. Comments: Great stuff, as expected. Feels like proper, old school PX sherry maturation with these many, deeper, well-integrated complexities on display. Although, the overall impression is of effortless, charming and sophisticated old sherried malt whisky. Only a little too much bitterness on the palate keeps it from 90 in my book.
SGP: 561 - 89 points.

 

 

Glenallachie 24 yo 1995/2020 (56.5%, The Whisky Cellar, cask #10, hogshead, 227 bottles)

Glenallachie 24 yo 1995/2020 (56.5%, The Whisky Cellar, cask #10, hogshead, 227 bottles)
Probably a bit of a change of pace from the full term sherry heft of the OB. Colour: gold. Nose: peaches, nectarines, flower honey, rich tea biscuits and various slightly sharp garden fruits on the greener side of ripeness. Some dandelions and pollens too. Once again, the word that seems to come to mind with all these Glenallachies, is ‘charming’. With water:  opens beautifully, lots more flowers, honeys, pollens, light earthy touches, moss, potting sheds and case water. Mouth: spiced mead, runny honey over breakfast cereals, citrus piths, bitter herbs, wood resins, olive oil and more yellow flowers and pollens. There’s a rather taut, prickly spiciness and camphor. With water: cinnamon pastries, heather ales, flower honey, mint tea, ginger biscuits and a little peppery bite from the wood. Finish: quite long, surprisingly spicy, drying, pressed flowers, more pollens, bouillon, heather, darjeeling tea and more biscuity notes. Comments: What’s interesting is that it doesn’t just taste like ‘Glen Speyside’, which is a category many modern Speysiders fall into in my book. There’s certainly a sense of personality here with all these floral and spicy interplays. Although, I’d say water is pretty essential here.
SGP: 661 - 87 points.

 

 

 

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

 

November 18, 2020


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today Glen Scotia

Some twenty-eight years old indies please, as I’m sometimes finding the newish officials a little oak-heavy…

Glen Scotia 28 yo 1992/2020 (47.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 186 bottles)

Glen Scotia 28 yo 1992/2020 (47.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 186 bottles) Four stars and a half
From the Campbeltown Fashion Week, Spring Collection … Colour: gold. Nose: there’s this very typical fruity sourness at first, with some cider and wee touches of wine vinegar, then some grass, fern and tomato leaves, and let’s not forget these wee bits of rubber, gunpowder and engine grease, but some vanilla, mangos and bananas are participating too, creating a great feeling of unicity. Or oneness. See what I mean, I suppose. I’m fond of this nose… Mouth: the Campbeltown mafi… I mean connection at work I suppose. This one starts dry and even acrid and bitter, but that just works, as it does in the driest herbal concoctions that mixologists know so well. Artichokes, Brussels sprouts, green asparagus, eggplants… Add to that a thin layer of bitter beer, some malt, some green pepper, cactus, leaves… All that is a little extreme, perhaps, but I am a fan. A style that’s not often to be encountered in today’s sweeter whiskies. No butterscotch in this one! Finish: long, a little agave-y, with touches of honey and retsina. So a little rounder now, perhaps more polite. Comments: what a strong personality!
SGP:371 - 88 points.

 

 

 

Glen Scotia 28 yo 1992/2020 (56.2%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW and Kirsch Import, Connoisseurs Choice, first fill remade sherry hogshead, cask #19, 150 bottles)

Glen Scotia 28 yo 1992/2020 (56.2%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW and Kirsch Import, Connoisseurs Choice, first fill remade sherry hogshead, cask #19, 150 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: the higher strength and perhaps the re-coopering make it even more austere, with some acetone and varnish at first, but some lovely notes of thin mints and coconut balls are soon to make it better balanced, if a little ‘modern’. Lovely nose indeed. With water: gets unexpectedly grassier. More artichokes and these wee sulphury touches. Autumn leaves, a little patchouli, paraffin... Mouth (neat): excellent, tart and nervous, rather thick, herbal, spicy. Gingered marmalade and hay, peelings, liquorice wood, a little quince jelly… With water: exactly the one from Campbeltown when properly reduced. Very lovely bitterness. Finish: long, bitter, leafy, slightly sour. Comments: these bitter Glen Scotias really are in a cluster of their own. I’m not totally sure they are for everyone, but there’s one thing they sure aren’t: boring.
SGP:471 – 88 points.

 

 

 

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

 

November 17, 2020


Whiskyfun

A little purse of Glenlivet

… Including some from Signatory’s stock (slurp)… But first, a wee aperitif that shouldn’t do us any harm…

Glenlivet ‘Captain’s Reserve’ (40%, OB, +/-2019)

Glenlivet ‘Captain’s Reserve’ (40%, OB, +/-2019) Three stars
35€ in supermarkets here in France – that’s the current price of Ardbeg Ten here and there. Many have their own reserves at Glenlivet’s, the founder, the captain, the master distillers… In this case, captain Bill Smith was founder George Smith’s grand-grandson, while his reserve here was finished in ex-cognac casks. Excuse me, ‘raisin rich cognac’. All right then… Colour: gold. Nose: quite bizarrely, it’s a light and yet pretty fragrant Glenlivet that’s rather making eyes at Glenmorangie. I do find notes of raisiny cognac indeed (but are raisiny cognacs the best? That’s another story…) as well as the usual cereals, biscuits, pancake syrup and ripe apples. Quite some custard too. It’s pleasant, yet not quite earthshattering. Mouth: rather towards marmalade and anise cookies, raisin rolls, cinnamon powder, a little sawdust as well. It’s not as well rounded and aromatic as on the nose, but I suppose that’s the fate of any entry-level NAS these days. Triple sec. Finish: a little short but pleasant, rather caky and on apple pie. Comments: I think I like this one rather better than the Founder’s reserve. Indeed, no respect where respect is due anymore.
SGP:441 - 80 points.

Glenlivet 12 yo 2008/2020 (46%, Whic, Amazing Whiskies, sherry butt, 388 bottles)

Glenlivet 12 yo 2008/2020 (46%, Whic, Amazing Whiskies, sherry butt, 388 bottles) Four stars
Friends having fun with whisky, that’s always hard to beat. Let’s see if the whisky will be as surrealistic as the label. Colour: amber. Nose: some fig cake and one Mars bar, with the tiniest touches of truffles and gunpowder in the back of the background. Then proper chocolate and a few drops of cough syrup (one that would involve quite some eucalyptus), as well as echoes of that most splendid dish, red cabbage with chestnuts and small bits of bacon. Well done, I’m hungry now. Mouth: really rich and powerful, feeling higher than just 46, on roasted nuts, baked apples, a little ginger and leather, cloves, gingerbread, Stolle, caraway… In Basel, not too far away from WF Towers, they have a cookie called Läckerli; well this ‘livet tastes like Läckerli covered with chocolate. Finish: long, rather spicy again. Chocolate, walnuts, maple syrup and caraway. Comments: in my book, you need no water with 46%-whiskies, but I’ve just checked that this baby swims extremely well. So please ad a little water despite the relatively lowish strength.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

And now hell, damnation and scary monsters. Maybe two, maybe three if we survive…

Glenlivet 13 yo 2007/2020 (65.3%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, first fill sherry butt, cask #900243, 625 bottles)

Glenlivet 13 yo 2007/2020 (65.3%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, first fill sherry butt, cask #900243, 625 bottles) Four stars
Madness – looks like they’re running out of water post-Brexit, in the UK… Colour: amber. Nose: puréed chestnuts and butterscotch just everywhere. A little candyfloss and toffee apples as well. With water: very lovely and much more complex. Chalk, mushrooms, marrow, parsley, miso, crude chocolate, dried beef, Bovril, soy sauce, fern… Mouth (neat): once you get past the lethal ethanol level, you’re getting rather a lot of coconut cookies and toffee. Had this butt been kind of STRised, by any chance? With water: more towards oranges, ginger and quinine this time, with touches of bitter almonds and just loads of raw coffee and chocolate, with a salty touch behind the stage. A hint of olive. Finish: long, unexpectedly tense, meaty, with a caramel note. Salted fudge. Comments: a higher feeling of oneness than with earlier casks.
SGP:561 - 87 points.

 

 

 

Glenlivet 13 yo 2007/2020 (65%, Signatory Vintage for Whisky Live Paris 2020, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900140, 320 bottles)

Glenlivet 13 yo 2007/2020 (65%, Signatory Vintage for Whisky Live Paris 2020, first fill sherry hogshead, cask #900140, 320 bottles)
Colour: bronze amber. Nose: cask numbers are close but this is completely different, much less wham-bam-seen-my-sherry, and rather more on chalk, metal polish, walnuts and burning pinecones. Now, 65% vol., is this even legal? Who filled this high? With water: umami, mushrooms, bouillons, oxtail soup, earth, beeswax, baklavas, earl grey, chocolate, honeys… It’s getting rounder by the minute. Mouth (neat): Cointreau, green oranges, ham… But boy does it burn! With water: the spices are coming out this time, making it a little gingery and rough. Leaves and leather, allspice, rather bitter marmalade, white pepper, a little curry… Finish: long, spicy. With some oak, chocolate, and just notes of rustic armagnac. More marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: why would we have to decide between these two awesome brutes?
SGP:561 - 87 points.

 

 

 

Glenlivet 11 yo 2007/2019 (66%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #900128, 289 bottles)

Glenlivet 11 yo 2007/2019 (66%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #900128, 289 bottles) Four stars
Another Macallan killer? Colour: amber. Nose: even more brutal, with some raw kirsch and rather a lot of coconut oil. Let’s be very careful… With water: oh, metal polish and engine oil this time, concrete, pu-ehr, chicken and miso soups… This is superb, rather more complex than other sister casks – but the two other ones that we just had were rather ‘on top of the basket’ too, as we say in French. Mouth (neat): I think this is good, but I’m sure this is extremely strong. Chocolate and Cointreau. Next, with water: gets earthier, nuttier, more chocolaty. Those strong armagnacs, cedar wood, marmalade, blackest teas, raw chocolate, bits of cigars… Finish: long, miso-y, a tad leafy just like the Whisky Live Paris. Spicier aftertaste again. Comments: good, this was proper communist session: all equal!
SGP:561 - 87 points.

Let’s stop here, helmsman!

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

 

November 16, 2020


Whiskyfun

Solera tasting, Ardmore until we succumb

We did this with Glenrothes a few weeks ago and had thought that idea was pretty difficult to put into flesh. Mixed feelings at that time, but let’s try that again if you please, this time with Ardmore. In truth, there are so many indie Ardmores around that it’s becoming difficult to do a ‘regular’ session with them, unless we cut it into several large chunks. But that would bore you (and me) to death, so let’s do a solera. After all, everyone’s doing soleras these days, I’m sure even the gin folks have started to do that. So, what have we got ?...

Ardmore 9 yo 2010/2020 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, 662 bottles)

(August 2, 2020)
Ardmore 9 yo 2010/2020 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, 662 bottles) Three stars
This baby’s a blend of 3 bourbon casks. Are we ready for some light peat and heavy vanilla ? Colour: white wine. Nose: soot and green tea, custard, green peppercorn, nosing a gun that was just shot (in the army, of course), new wellies, coal smoke, grandma’s old coal stove, smoked ham… I have to confess I’m sometimes having troubles with peaters that are neither maritime nor medicinal, but this one’s fine so far. Mouth: big green pepper, acrid smoke, ginger, a saltiness but nothing coastal indeed, and really a lot of pepper. A feeling of sucking charcoal and chewing cigar ashes, then a little orange and melon juice. Finish: long, green, a tad bitter and yet sweet. Burnt hay, smoked berries. Comments: I’m not a die-hard Ardmore fan – but I love the place and the people there – now I won’t deny that this is pretty pretty good.
SGP:556 - 81 points.

Ardmore 10 yo 2009/2019 (58.4%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, sherry wood, 155 bottles)

(August 2, 2020)
Ardmore 10 yo 2009/2019 (58.4%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, sherry wood, 155 bottles)
Three stars
Colour: gold. Nose: I’m finding it pretty amontillado-y, full of walnuts, wholegrain mustard, wine vinegar (from Jerez, naturally), with whiffs of pencil shavings and only a little peat this time. With water: fallen leaves, leather, walnuts, pencil lead, graphite, leatherette… Mouth (neat): bites your tongue a wee bit, and sends then litres (quite) of ristretto coffee and pipe juice. And bags of green walnuts and cracked pepper. Pretty extreme. With water: some salt, bitter herbs, more leather, walnut skins, turmeric… Not an easy, gentle little peater for sure. Finish: long and a little bitter. Salted walnuts. Comments: if you like them a little acrid and bitter, this is for you.
SGP:366 - 82 points.
Sept. 28 Post-scriptum: careful now with these labels.

Ardmore 17 yo 2002/2019 (52.7%, Hidden Spirits, cask #AM219, 226 bottles)

(August 23, 2020)
Ardmore 17 yo 2002/2019 (52.7%, Hidden Spirits, cask #AM219, 226 bottles)
Four stars
Colour: straw. Nose: this baby comes with a peatiness that’s a tad more coastal, even if it remains rather on coal, with a little acetone perhaps, fresh paint, seashells (there), drops of a very crisp and almost salty muscadet, and perhaps wee bits of preserved peaches. Tinned capers. With water: hints of manure, horse saddle, peat, diesel oil, compost… We’re at a farm! But it does get gentler then, displaying the usual peaches and a wee bit of shortbread. Mouth (neat): sweeter than expected, really pretty peaty, big and punchy, with quite some ginger and perhaps turmeric. A bitterness in the background (cinchona and gentian). With water: this feeling of peated fruit, leaves, more ginger, bitters, orange cordial… Finish: long, with some green pepper on top of the bitters and the peat. Salty aftertaste. Comments: a really big Ardmore, we’re far from the gentler peach juices from earlier vintages. Very good it is, I think.
SGP:466 - 86 points.

Ardmore 10 yo 2008/2019 (54%, Asta Morris, fresh bourbon, cask #AM094, 272 bottles)

(August 23, 2020)
Ardmore 10 yo 2008/2019 (54%, Asta Morris, fresh bourbon, cask #AM094, 272 bottles)
Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: oh is this one pure and fresh! It’s got a wee ‘young Ardbeg’ side this time, notes of fatty salmon, turnips and beets, a little aniseed, green tea, carrots, radish… You could make a good soup out of all this! It’s pretty smoky too. With water: not sure water is necessary, it would bring out an err, well, unnecessary sweetness. Mouth (neat): a crystal-clean pure smoky and lemony start, with some icing sugar too, getting then rather bonbony, with a feeling of mezcal to boot. Fun young stuff. With water: gets a notch medicinal but other than that, rather keep the water for the plants. Limoncello. Finish: medium, very good, a wee tad thin perhaps. I’ve often found Ardmore a tad thin but that’s solely because of Ardbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. Boo! Comments: not much to add. Just very good but maybe not totally earthshattering.
SGP:555 - 84 points.

Ardmore 10 yo 2009/2020 (56%, The Golden Cask, bourbon, cask # CM259, 245 bottles)

(August 30, 2020)
Ardmore 10 yo 2009/2020 (56%, The Golden Cask, bourbon, cask # CM259, 245 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: soot, sour herbs, beans, sauna oils, plastic oils (new sneakers),… I’m really not too sure, to tell you the truth. With water: indeed, new sneakers and concrete dust. New plastic bags at your favourite supermarket – but we don’t have them anymore in France since around five years. They were coming handy. Mouth (neat): there’s something very seductive, with a very unusual mix of pine resin, cough medicine and smoked fish, and really loads of green olives. I often quote green olives, but this time it’s is a green-olive-extravaganza, really. With water: as always with Ardmore – in my book – things aren’t very deep, but unless you would be firmly against smoking olives, this just works. Finish: rather long and, I would say still rather ‘peripheral’, as almost all peaters from the inlands usually are in my book. Do not ask me why (Tomintoul, Benriach...) Comments: excellent, just a little superficial. I mean, horizontal, or not deep… A feeling…
SGP:555 - 84 points.

Ardmore 16 yo 2003/2019 (53%, The Vintage Malt Whisky Co for Guangzhou Single Cask Single Malt China, Cask & Thistle, refill hogshead, cask #801287, 300 bottles)

(August 31, 2020)
Ardmore 16 yo 2003/2019 (53%, The Vintage Malt Whisky Co for Guangzhou Single Cask Single Malt China, Cask & Thistle, refill hogshead, cask #801287, 300 bottles)
Four stars
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this is a totally rawer, extremely chalky, grassy and gristy Ardmore, totally dry and void of the most infinitesimal fruitiness. Nosing a very old, long-abandoned cast iron stove – or something like that. With water: dough, porridge, muesli (so a few fruits) and an old pipe (that was lying on that old stove). Mouth (neat): as expected, the fruits arrive now and that would rather be small cider apples, green pears, unripe plums and jujubes. Ashes and burnt grass, touch of rhubarb, lime zest. Pretty extreme and stiff as a rod – not something we dislike having said that. With water: ah, there, fruits! The usual white peaches, I would say, covered with pepper and ashes. Finish: long, very dry, green, ashy, smoky. An aftertaste that’s pleasantly drying. Comments: I’m rather a fan of this bone-dry style that, I suppose, you could also have on food with a lot of fresh water.
SGP:364 - 86 points.

Ardmore 17 yo 2000/2017 (55.3%, Golden Cask, cask #CM242)

(September 11, 2020)
Ardmore 17 yo 2000/2017 (55.3%, The Golden Cask, cask #CM242) Three stars and a half
This one too from the House of Macduff. The 2009 was really lovely. Colour: white wine. Nose: some sooty and ashy lime and kiwi juices, I would say, so this is all pretty green. I tend to like this blade-y, very vertical style, provided we meet it on the palate too. With water: porridge and leaven bread are out. Mouth (neat): lime juice, white peaches, grass smoke, green pepper, with notes of juniper too. With water: good green zestiness, going towards ginger, not my preferred direction I’m afraid. Something Thai, sweet and spicy… Some tabasco too. Finish: rather long and really spicy. Big pepper, more tabasco, green lemon… Comments: pretty good but I think I liked the younger 2009 Golden Cask rather better – if I remember well.
SGP:474 - 83 points.

Ardmore 21 yo 1998/2019 (51.5%, Thompson Bros. Dornoch, 256 bottles)

(September 12, 2020)
Ardmore 21 yo 1998/2019 (51.5%, Thompson Bros. Dornoch, 256 bottles)
Four stars
Very lovely label here. Colour: white wine. Nose: this one’s really very vertical, a tad metallic (tin box) and pretty mineral (the usual chalk), with rather some cider apples and green lemons at the fruit department. Lovely coal smoke. With water: clay and soot, I would say. Old copper kettle. Mouth (neat): dense and precise, sharp, very chalky and lime-y, with again this spiky pepper that tends to be willing to take over. Another one that reminds me a bit of Talisker – minus the coastalness. A little bread dough too. With water: always quite some pepper, grapefruit skin, these touches of chilli once again, green pepper… But it’s not as extreme as others in that respect. Finish: rather long and pretty salty this time. Tinned anchovies? Neat, clean, coastal, this one could really be Talisker at this point. Well, let’s say the nearest malt would be Talisker. Comments: very good, I think!
SGP:464 - 87 points.

Ardmore 21 yo 1998/2020 (53.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #750788, 287 bottles)

(September 16, 2020)
Ardmore 21 yo 1998/2020 (53.1%, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #750788, 287 bottles) Four stars
I find it very difficult to taste these whiskies apart while trying to remain coherent and consistent, but there, I started this madness. Indeed, only comparison is reason, is it not? Colour: white wine. Nose: pretty much the Thompsons’ (had to re-read my notes, see why I prefer line-ups?) with chalk, kiwi, lime, green apples and some coal smoke (old stove). Very precise. With water: tinned peaches, that’s definitely a marker of Ardmore. Very soft on the nose, it’s almost Ardless (the unpeated version of Ardmore). Mouth (neat): a little peach syrup, then lime, pepper and chalk. Another one that hints at Talisker in my book. With water: a little more on bonbons, otherwise green fruits, granny smith and consorts. Finish: rather long, grassy, slightly salty again. Comments: certainly gentler than others, and perhaps a tad less ‘deep’, but quality’s very high yet again.
SGP: 464 – 86 points.

Ardmore 10 yo 2008/2019 (61.2%, Whisky Erlebnis for Erles Whiskyecke, ex-Islay cask)

(September 18, 2020)
Ardmore 10 yo 2008/2019 (61.2%, Whisky Erlebnis for Erles Whiskyecke, ex-Islay cask) Three stars and a half
Does pop art still work now that we have COVID? Colour: straw. Nose: so this is ex-Islay cask, so maybe a tautological Ardmore, let’s see. Well, I’m rather finding more iodine and mercurochrome for sure, pickled gherkins, brine, seawater… And strictly no tinned peaches this time. Could be that the high strength blocks it a wee bit, let’s see… With water: no, it became rather kilny. And with grist and stuff. Mouth (neat): high-power, very strong, not exactly Ardmore indeed, but seemingly goodly sharp (yes I’ve bought D.J.T.’s latest dictionary of tremendously contemporary American). With water: lemons and brine. Finish: long, on the same limey flavours, with then more brine. Touches of pepper in the aftertaste, yet again. Comments: smokier than usual, a tad rough but certainly very good given its young age.
SGP:366 - 84 points.

Aird Mhor 9 yo 2009/2019 (59.1%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, bourbon hogshead, cask #707915, 240 bottles)

(September 18, 2020)
Aird Mhor 9 yo 2009/2019 (59.1%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, bourbon hogshead, cask #707915, 240 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: hot and slightly ethanoly, with whiffs of hydro-alcoholic hand gel (new descriptor!) cologne and a little sawdust. Gooseberries, plums… Water’s more than needed. With water: smoky barley syrup, a little nougat and vanilla, drops of brine. This one has more custard and pastries, which the colour didn’t show. Mouth (neat): good, very fruity, and pretty simple when neat. Jellybeans and smoked grass juice. With water: lime, brine and green pepper come out. It’s still very simple, but it hasn’t got any flaws in my little book. Finish: rather long, curiously sweet and syrupy. Grapefruit liqueur? Comments: it works really well, but I’m always finding Ardmore a little restrained. I suppose we should just stop comparing it to the Islays.
SGP:655 - 83 points.

8 to 12 is a little too young for Ardmore, if you ask me. Not only for Ardmore if you keep asking me. Good, let’s call this criadera ‘completa’. I agree, not much sense…

 

Hold on, we had a little more...

Ardmore 9 yo 2009/2019 ‘Tamashi’ (56.7%, Mizunara Private Bottling, American white oak, cask #709239, 251 bottles)

(November 12, 2020)
Ardmore 9 yo 2009/2019 ‘Tamashi’ (56.7%, Mizunara Private Bottling, American white oak, cask #709239, 251 bottles) Four stars
One of those ‘Japanised’ Scotch malt whiskies, at least they wouldn’t label this as Japanese whisky. Colour: white wine. Nose: nice fresh earth and wood, branches, soft ashes, grass, and a rather mentholy smoke. With water: green tea with touches of smoke. Mouth (neat): it’s really good, I’d almost call this ‘good thin peat’. Limoncello, oysters, ashes, riesling, mercurochrome. That’s more or less it. With water: same, while the body got bigger rather than thinner once water’s been added. That’s not unseen. Finish: medium, clean, on lime juice and a salty smokiness. Comments: very good for sure, just rather ‘hesitating’. As always with Ardmore, in my opinion, there’s either too much, or not enough peat, while the core spirit is anything but fat. That’s maybe a little frustrating.
SGP:564 - 85 points.

Good, since this is now or never…

Ardmore 22 yo 1997/2020 (50.6%, Les Grands Alambics, hogshead, 100 bottles)

(November 12, 2020)
Ardmore 22 yo 1997/2020 (50.6%, Les Grands Alambics, hogshead, 100 bottles) Four stars
100 bottles, that isn’t much, but for God’s sake, I’m so glad someone’s talking about stills again, rather than about lousy casks, wines or woods! Colour: straw. Nose: coconut wine, chamomile, scones, coconut balls, fudge, shortbread… All fine, but isn’t this rather Ardless? With water: mud and grist, that’s good news. Raw wool, new tweed, cow dung… We’re rather on the countryside! Mouth (neat): grassy, smoky, leafy, a little uncertain perhaps, like many Ardmores, tea-ish, slightly buttery and camphory… With water: ah no, there, this is rather very good, leafy and smoky, with some lemon… Finish: long, lemony, green. Warming aftertaste. Comments: totally one of the better Ardmores in my book. Tighter than others, just not very bold. That’s Ardmore.
SGP:455 - 87 points.

It was such a stupid idea to start a ‘solera’ session, I don't know what the hell I could have been thinking. But since we’re here… PS: we’ve also started a Ledaig Solera Session the other day, I’m afraid that’ll get even worser…

Ardmore 10 yo 2009/2020 (59%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, cask #707920)

(November 13, 2020)
Ardmore 10 yo 2009/2020 (59%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, cask #707920) Three stars and a half
Yeah right, retro gaming. Next, Peter Skellern? Gilbert O’Sullivan? The Osmonds? Colour: white wine. Nose: a fresh, maritime, ashy profile seemingly, but it doesn’t engage easily. Hello? Mercurochrome, glasses cleaning liquid, antifreeze… With water: cut grass, pear skins, capers. Not too sure about those capers. Mouth (neat): ah, some sweetness, some pepper, notes of gin fizz, grass ashes… With water: same. Salt, samphires, lime, green peppercorns, sugar. Finish: medium, on similar notes. Comments: pretty good, of course. But it’s a juice I’ll just never quite understand. I believe I need to go see a doctor…
SGP:455 - 84 points.

STOP! HALT! ASSEZ !

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

 

November 15, 2020


Whiskyfun

Armagnac for maniacs

Is it really the first time I’m doing that silly joke? Where are the armaniacs, by the way? We’ll do all this at random, because Armagnac not likes rules anyway, madame monsieur.

Aurian ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Armagnac, 2019)

Aurian ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Armagnac, 2019) Four stars
A nice old brand from Condom that’s been recently revived I think, let’s see what happens given that they seem to have gone with some meagre 40% vol.  Love the flat ‘basquaise’ bottle having said that, traditions ought to be preserved, don’t you agree! Colour: mahogany/office coffee.

Nose: oh total old school indeed! This is like listening to Bachman-Turner Overdrive, you love it but you do feel guilt. Old toasted wood, coffee, mint oil, marzipan and puréed chestnuts, then coffee liqueurs, walnut stain, prunes, raisins, figs… So it’s all very fine, I’m just afraid the palate might be flattish and drying at 40%. Like listening to BTO on a 2x10 watts stereo (remember?)…Mouth: this is even before old-school. Menthol, liquorice, thyme oil, pine resin, eucalyptus extracts, tar liqueur, pine-and-lemon cordials, coffee, coffee, coffee… There really is something charming to this, I’m sure there’s room for ueber-tradition once Covid is over. Back to the good old days! Finish: short, and that’s the low strength. But coffee, chestnut purée and pine resin may work. Comments: some bone-dry, very old-school Armagnac. I have to say I’m rather a fan, but then again, I’m French.
SGP:261 - 85 points.

Fontan 2000 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018)

Fontan 2000 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018) Three stars
Full ugni blanc from an intriguing house. Colour: red mahogany. Nose: this one’s ten times more aromatic, shock-full of stewed red fruits (damsons, raspberries, strawberries). Then figs and prunes, raisins, chocolates, ganaches, fig liqueurs… In short, it feels pretty rich, thick and jammy on the nose. Also rather a lot of menthol, mint lozenges, Dutch liquorice… I have to say I enjoy this thick, heavier style. Sure it is not Glenkinchie – it’s not even Glenfarclas – but yeah, I enjoy this pretty molassy style. Now… Drum roll… Mouth: hey, I like! Same profile, rich, very chocolaty, with some tar and liquorice, prunes, menthol, an obvious terpene-ish side, resins… The only little problem is that 42% vol. aren’t quite enough in this heavy-ish context. 50% would have worked better IMHO, but there, I find it very good anyway. Finish: long, mentholy, rich, chocolaty, coffee-ish… Comments: it sure is an intriguing bottle. It’s perhaps a little more brandy-ish (Armenia, Jerez etc.) than pure dry Armagnac, and indeed some ‘Sunday morning cooking’ may have occurred at some point, but there, I like it. Some slightly pirate-y Armagnac on the palate.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Baron de Sigognac 25 yo (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018)

Baron de Sigognac 25 yo (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2018) Three stars and a half
The decanter looks a bit like that of a crooky old Macallan by Sestante, no? (just asking). Seriously, we wouldn’t touch such decanters, but you never know… Colour: amber. Nose: yeah, the main problem is that these liquids are irresistible. Fantastic honeys, small fruits (sorb, cormier, jujube) then old cigars, precious woods (the dashboard of a jaguar when it was still a Jaguar), various jams (eglantine), moist pipe tobacco, black cherries, fig wine… Well, this nose would just make for the eighth capital sin, if you ask me. Mouth: that’s the thing, the arrivals are always pretty brilliant, but thanks to the lower strength, they lose steam and get dry and uninspiring after just ten seconds. Very frustrating, some really get away with murder. Yeah there, ripe figs, chocolate (forastero), black berries, Corinth currents.. All good but then nada, niente, nothing, rien, nichst, it just gets too thin. Finish: short, sadly, but the core, the heart is superb. Comments: what shall we do? This is like a stereo that’s playing Frank Zappa but only goes to 5. Highly frustrating.
SGP:651 - 84 points. (89 guaranteed at 45% vol.)

Château de Gaube 1962/2020 (48.6%, OB, for Wu Dram Clan, Ténarèze, lot #6220, 144 bottles)

Château de Gaube 1962/2020 (48.6%, OB, for Wu Dram Clan, Ténarèze, lot #6220, 144 bottles) Four stars and a half
Fully ugni blanc and a small domaine that’s usually rather to be found at Darroze’s as a 100% bacco Bas-Armagnac. But this is different and by the way, I love Ténarèze, which is the locals’ preferred drop if I believe my friends down there in Gers (not sure I should, having said that – la bise les amis!). Colour: deep amber. Nose: eminently old-school, this is the kind of armagnac you should quaff after a corrida, with good friends. It’s really rather all on black raisins, chocolate, prunes, peonies, reheated coffee, roasted chestnuts and walnuts, then some meaty notes, cured ham (I say Spanish but don’t tell our friends down there in the Armagnac region), marrow and bouillons, oloroso (good oloroso and good armagnac are very close on the nose in my book), parsley and chives, some earthy chocolate… That’s all pretty rustic, and brilliant at the same time. There, proper Armagnac! Mouth: yeah, this is typical ‘family Armagnac’. In every house they keep a few bottles for special occasions (but like with champagne in your fridge, having such bottles stashed away just makes for such a special occasion anyway). Lovely coffee, marmalade, chocolate and raisins mix, this time with a smallish amount of sulphur added to the mix. We shall call that ‘a Mortlach side’ if you don’t mind. Finish: long, with pretty much the same flavours. Comments: some extremely rustic armagnac, but it hasn’t quite got what I’m usually finding in other extremely rustic armagnacs: a huge tannicity. That’s good news. And rather rugby than crochet.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

A quick note: in French you always write armagnac, or cognac for that matter, without any capital letters. So please bear with me…

Now, this week we celebrated WWI’s armistice on November 11, so we could well further commemorate that and celebrate peace with some incredible armagnac distilled in… 1918!

1918

Domaine de Baraillon 1918/2019 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine de Baraillon 1918/2019 (42%, OB, Bas-Armagnac) Five stars
That is right, over one hundred years old in theory, but I’ve got confirmation that it was actually lying in demi-johns when they bottled it last year, so it’s not ‘technically’ a 100 years old. However, some Scottish brands would hire near-bankrupt crystal makers, reawaken obscure photographers or painters, activate embedded influencers and hungry PR people, and slap a price tag with six figures on such juice. But Baraillon would never do that, they would just use a most regular bottle and let the spirit speak for itself. I would add that as WWI only ended on November 11, the men were still at war (or dead) when this vintage was harvested. Which means that 1918 was a women’s vintage – while women’s vintages have just always been the best. Ever. Sexism in spirits, indeed!

baraillon

Warehouse at Baraillon. On the left, old ramagnacs resting in demijohns (dame-jeannes) - (source : Charles Neal Selection)

Colour: deep gold. Nose: shh, quiet please… Oh what a beauty… First some juicy red peaches, some black earth, some wild mushrooms (Caesar’s mushrooms, best in the world), some precious little sultanas, a little tamarind perhaps, artisan guignolet (bigarreau cherry liqueur)… Oh how subtle this is! Then we have anything herbal, old chartreuse perhaps, some old pipe tobacco, bits of bergamots, a little caraway and juniper, chestnuts and prunes, wee touches of chen-pi (sun-dried tangerine skin) and  a little hoisin sauce (plums), something slightly miso-y (right, osmazôme), game, mint, liquorice… Oh wow oh wow oh wow! I really feel privileged, I don’t think there’s a more glorious way of celebrating the end of the worst war ever. Mouth: boy I was afraid this would be too dry. And indeed it is dry – how and why wouldn’t it be dry -  but feeling, in the deepest centre of your being, these tiny apricots, raisins and peaches still alive and singing is just extraordinary. Now indeed, wood spices and oils are rather having the stage, but without ever getting drying or just ‘too much’. No over-infused black tea whatsoever! Some adorable notes of chestnut honey, raw cocoa, black teas Russian-style (again, not over-infused), touches of roses, saffron, black tobacco – they were smoking Gauloises or ‘gris’ in 1918, chicory coffee… Well we could go on and on and on. Incredible drop. Finish: amazing. I’ll leave it at that. Comments: this is life. All the rest, except family and friends, is totally superfluous, including f****g politics and b****y religion. No I don’t feel like I should apologize. Remember, WWI, 20 million deaths.
SGP:461 - 94 points.

(Merci 20 millions de fois, Jürgen!)

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



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