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

May 22, 2014


Tasting new Lochside and obscure guests

Well, I had thought we’d never see a new Lochside again, so WF’s Lochside compartment has been completely emptied quite some weeks ago. And just a few days ago, in Limburg, bingo, a new Lochside by Malts of Scotland! The problem is that we haven’t got any worthy sparring partner left, not even a Lochside blend. What should we do? Because we need to compare our drams, as you may know… Oh, but maybe I’ve got an idea, using an old name from Lochside’s immediate neighbourhood. A distillery that we haven’t seen as a ‘new’ expression since ages and ages: North Port! But first, the new Lochside…

Lochside 32 yo 1982/2014 (55.2%, Malts of Scotland, Angel's Choice, cask #MoS 14019, 39 halves)

Lochside 32 yo 1982/2014 (55.2%, Malts of Scotland, Angel's Choice, cask #MoS 14019, 39 halves) Five stars Thirty-nine halves, that’s really micro. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s un-Lochside in my opinion. Nothing serious but we’re not experiencing a fruity explosion, an invasion of passion fruits or a burst of tangerines. It’s rather burnt grass that comes through, rubber bands, pencil shavings, ultra-strong kirsch… It seems that this baby’s locked, so what shall we do? Wait for a few hours or just add water right away? Oh well, I do seem to detect a very zesty fruitiness deep inside, let’s add water. With water: that worked. Pink grapefruits, passion fruits, mangos and lemons, that’s Lochside… Maybe half a cooked asparagus. Mouth (neat): oh no! I mean, yes! The nose was closed when unreduced, but the palate is wide open. And here goes, oranges, passion fruits, mangos, pink grapefruits, guavas (very vivid), all that with a little vanilla fudge and lemon curd, as well as lemon grass and coriander. There is a little oak as well, but it keeps very quiet. Thank you. With water: more of all that. A fruit salad, with a little hawthorn tea in the background. No oak at all anymore. Finish: long, ultra-zesty and tropical. Comments: a bit different from the wonderful and well-known 1981s. I think it’s the first time I’ve tried – or even seen – a 1982 Lochside. Super great stuff anyway, even if the taster has to do a bit of work. Ha, pipettes! SGP:741 (with water) - 91 points.

North Port Brechin 26 yo 1975/2001 (55.6%, Signatory Vintage, Silent Stills, cask #2960, 211 bottles)

North Port Brechin 26 yo 1975/2001 (55.6%, Signatory Vintage, Silent Stills, cask #2960, 211 bottles) Three stars Yes North Port used to be called North Port Brechin or North Port (Brechin). Or sometimes North Port-Brechin. Nobody’s talking about North Port anymore, let’s put that straight! Colour: straw. Nose: old Highlands, of the burnt-wood kind. Was that a regional style? Some burning grass again, gravel and dust, soot, coal, damp clothes and raw wool, aspirin tablets, old cellar, fresh concrete… Also rainwater, then more burnt grass and leaves… So a very austere nose, nowhere else to be found these days. This is not tasting, it’s whisky archaelogy. With water: harder. Cardboard and grass, no fruitiness at all. Mouth (neat): indeed, archaeology. I do not know of any active distillery, whether in Scotland or in Outer Mongolia, that’s producing something even remotely akin to this. It’s acrid and ultra-lemony at the same time, sometimes bitter, grassy, with also vegetables (artichokes?), more lemon, lime, citrons… Big big stuff, uncompromising as some used to say. How many uncompromising distilleries are still working in Scotland? With water: cardboard and lemon, a funny combination. Finish: rather long, but the cardboard wins the fight. Comments: un-boringly weird. It’s been hard not to use the word ‘umami’. SGP:462 - 82 points.

Are you game for more North Port?

North Port (Brechin) 14yo 1974/1989 'Very Rare' (43%, Sestante Import, 75cl)

North Port (Brechin) 14yo 1974/1989 'Very Rare' (43%, Sestante Import, 75cl) Five stars Let’s be careful because of the lower strength. I hadn’t planned to try these other North Ports. I’ve already tasted the CS version of this baby, which was bottled at a whopping 66.1% vol. Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s civilised. It’s got honey, it’s got overripe apples, it’s got orange cake and it’s got only touches of sooty/smoky minerality. Also plums, around ripe greengages, and a very discreet rubber mixed with a little green tea and maybe cherry leaf tea. After five minutes, more and more tobacco is coming through, which is more than perfect. Just rolled Habano. In truth, it is an impressive nose, very complex. Mouth: this is absolutely excellent. Very complex, with cigars again, all kinds of nuts including roasted pecan, honeydew, a drop of lemon liqueur, squeezed oranges, a little tar, chocolate, cough lozenges, angelica… And the body’s just perfect, full and even thickish, with a surprisingly oily mouthfeel. Forgot to mention a few oils, especially argan. Top class. Finish: very long, fat, oily, slightly smoky, herbal, hinting at the grandest old herbal liqueurs. Comments: it’s actually not a surprise, most seasoned connoisseurs know this bottle very well. But there, another utter glory from the past! SGP:462 - 92 points.

Yes we want more North Port…

North Port (Brechin) 1977/2001 (57%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 294 bottles)

North Port (Brechin) 1977/2001 (57%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 294 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: ah. We’re obviously closer to the Silent Stills version, with grasses, vegetables and herbs coming through at first nosing, then a little porridge, raw wool, soaked barley, coal smoke, a little cardboard, gravel, chalk… So it’s as unsexy as malt whisky can be, but water could do the trick (not that I do not enjoy unsexiness in my whisky). Cider apples. With water: gets rounder, but a little duller as well. Apple juice, syrups… Mouth (neat): the opposite of the nose when unreduced. Rounder, fruitier, even honeyed, and even a little bubblegumy at times, in short much more approachable. There’s even banana jelly. Having said that, the herbs and grasses keep roaring in the background. This is a Highlander! With water: becomes a little unlikely, with a dirtiness that’s not very clean (how clever, S.!) Porridge, dust and old papers. Finish: not the longest. Grass, supermarket apple juice (you know, 75g of added sugar per litre), but also nice honey and agave syrup. Comments: it is unlikely at times, but it’s got a soul. A soul that so many new Scotches have lost. Oh forget about that… SGP:551 – 83 points.

Let’s have a very last one before nostalgia really starts to strike us…

North Port 1980/2004 (58%, Scott's Selection)

North Port 1980/2004 (58%, Scott's Selection) Two starsColour: straw. Nose: this one’s very mineral, eminently austere, totally unsexy and… very malty. Also some paraffin, some grass, waxed papers, zests, rocks, soot, coal, newspapers of the day, more grass, concentrated lemon juice… There’s even a strange feeling of raw meat, I’d say beef carpaccio (with lemon and olive oil). Not an easy one for sure. With water: a meadow, sheep, mashed potatoes, dough, porridge… Organic, in a way. Mouth (neat): yeah well, it’s pure sweet and grassy malted barley, without any idiosyncrasies (what?) Some lemon as well. I’m sure water will work… With water: I was partially wrong. Water makes it softer and rounder, and even brings out grapefruits and a little honey, but there aren’t any other asperities, as marketers would say. Finish: medium length, on malt whisky (no kidding?!) Comments: average malt whisky of more than acceptable quality, but without any distinctive flavours. In short, this one was rather boring. SGP:441 - 75 points.

That’s enough, session over.

(with heartfelt thanks to the one and only Bert V.)



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