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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

October 31, 2013


Cock-and-bull trio No.10, Aberfeldy and Benriach

Aberfeldy 16 yo 1997/2013 (56.1%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, Château 'Lafitte')

Aberfeldy 16 yo 1997/2013 (56.1%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, Château 'Lafitte') Three stars LOL, and yet some other bottlers who'd spell Lafite Lafitte. After Barollo and Sauterne, this is becoming really funny. Unless, of course, our friends in Campbeltown have sourced the Lafite cask from China, or maybe it's not the well-known Lafite in Pauillac and rather a 'cheaper' little château that's spelled Lafitte? Not too sure this is very important... What's more, I don't think it says so but it's probably a finishing. Having said that, I remember a Miltonduff in the same series that I found truly excellent (WF 90). Colour: apricot. Nose: apricot. Serious. Well, not only apricots, also oranges, flints, mandarine liqueur, orange blossom and a little honey. It's quite amazing that there are so much oranges, that's not very Lafite, is it? With water: same. Oriental pastries. Mouth (neat): sweet juicyfruit (Wrigley's) and quite a bit of bitterish rubber, leaf tea (cherry? cassis?) and grass. It's quite big but if it's a genuine Lafite cask, and as the château is only using first fill French oak, it was obviously a very active cask. With water: less grassy tones, more... oranges, especially bitter ones. Strong tea, typical European oak. Finish: this time it's very grassy again, apple peelings, more malt, some ginger... Medium length. Comments: another finishing that sort of worked. I'd love to know how much time the whisky spent in Bordeaux wood. SGP:461 - 80 points.

Update: we've got the (official) answer, the Aberfeldy was put into the Lafite cask in 2009 so it had 4 years in the second cask. So more double-maturation than finishing.

Benriach 8 yo 2005/2013 (58,1%, OB, batch 10, virgin American oak finish, cask #3782, 310 bottles)

Benriach 8 yo 2005/2013 (58,1%, OB, batch 10, virgin American oak finish, cask #3782, 310 bottles) Two stars Colour: gold. Nose: peat! And vanilla... I find it very 'modern Ardbeg' I have to say, had I tried this baby blind, I'd have said 'young first fill bb Ardbeg'. Too young, in fact, even if peat and virgin oak do probably mask the rough edges of youth. Ultra-simple. With water: same style, a notch sweeter and rounder. Maybe pineapples as well as hints of antiseptic. Mouth (neat): no, the virgin oak kills it in my opinion. We're experiencing the same problem as with other newish VOs (such as Morrison-Bowmore's), it's more a decoction than some mature spirit. Bubblegum, vanilla, ashes and cinnamon. With water: same. Kind of asynchronous between the peat and the very sweet and spicy oak. Finish: quite long but acrid and peppery. Too much young oak. Comments: it's obviously not my business, but I find it troubling that some very well reputed distilleries would propose such variants. Do they do that just because they can? Or because they know they have so many other utterly brilliant bottlings? Bah, they all have one or two lame ducks, after all... SGP:665 - 72 points.

We cannot leave this session like that, let's have another peated Benriach that was subjected to the same treatment...

Benriach 27 yo 1985/2013 (48.9%, OB, batch 10, virgin American oak finish, cask #7188, 257 bottles)

Benriach 27 yo 1985/2013 (48.9%, OB, batch 10, virgin American oak finish, cask #7188, 257 bottles) Four stars Colour: deep amber. Nose: another world. There isn't much peat, rather some notes of old rum (old Zacapa, perhaps) and dried figs, pears, peaches and dates. Also some hay and tobacco, quality old wood varnish and a little cough mixture. Lovely nose, kind of the opposite of the 2005. Mouth: indeed, this is excellent despite an oak that's very obvious and even green and drying. The thing is that the spirit behind all that does stand it and remains rich and complex. Mind you, despite all the peat and all the new oak, even the original tropical fruits manage to shine through. Mangos? Finish: long. A kind of blend of chartreuse, tar liqueur and Grand-Marnier. And why not? Comments: phew! I'm happy. Today's little session hasn't been the easiest ever. SGP:653 - 87 points.







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