Google A whole barrow of crazy blends

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

May 31, 2017


A whole barrow of crazy blends

All right, all right. Do we always need provenance? Authenticity? Terroir? Transparency? Or just some good booze in a good glass? Now to add thrill and suspense, we’ll do this at random. Otherwise, we may fall asleep… But first, a benchmark…

Ballantine’s 30 yo (86°US proof, OB, 1963)

Ballantine’s 30 yo (86°US proof, OB, 1963) Five stars That is right, this baby was bottled in 1963, so it’s all pre-WWII distillation. A very high reputation, to say the least. Colour: gold. Nose: you listen, you do not nose. Exceptional whiffs of old roses and other dried flowers, benzoin, ambergris, paraffin, mead, last night’s cider, and long-forgotten cigars. Plus old sweet wines, we’re thinking very old Sauternes and Tokaji, dried figs, longans… This kind of nose is actually rather tiring, there are so many tiny aromas that you could miss if you don’t stay focused… Mouth: an old wine indeed. Grassy raisins, cured ham, figs, some kind of vegetal oil (linseed), some saltiness for sure, some marzipan… What’s really striking is that there’s no sweetness whatsoever, and yet it feels rather round and, dare I add, smooth. Kind of. Finish: medium, on dry raisins, old sweet wines that got drier, and shellfish cooked in artichoke and asparagus sauce. I-am-not-joking. Salty aftertaste. Comments: not an easy old dram at all, it just needs and steals a lot of your attention. But it’s rewarding. SGP:452 - 91 points.

Eenie meenie…

The Golden Age Blend 40 yo (44.3%, Master of Malt, 210 bottles, 2016)

The Golden Age Blend 40 yo (44.3%, Master of Malt, 210 bottles, 2016) Five stars What? I had thought the Golden Age was that of that Ballantine’s 30 yo? Nevertheless, this is a blend that’s involved Macallan, Glenrothes, Tamdhu, Bunnahabhain and North British. 75% malt, 25% grain. Those are the right proportions, don’t you agree. Colour: deep gold. Nose: yes, old teas, old fruit liqueurs, and overripe fruits. Many pastries (kougelhopf, panettone, Linzertorte, streusels…) plus cassata ice-cream and a developing sense of Jerez de la Frontera. Amazing old-oloroso-ness, walnuts, old dry white wines, all kinds of dried leaves… Mouth: pretty sublime, I have to say. There’s a dry oakiness that prevents everything from going astray, then cigars aplenty, old walnuts, amontillado, bitter chocolate, old Jamaican rum (claro que si), pine liqueur, Cuban cigar, a touch of salt and lime… Finish: very long, very dry, ashier, smokier… A lot of bitter chocolate and a little tar in the aftertaste. Comments: this wonderful baby reminds of Samaroli’s crazy ‘No-Age’ bottlings. How they do it, we don’t want to know. SGP:362 - 91 points.

Hell, two 91ers already!

Haig Dimple 15 yo (43%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2106)

Haig Dimple 15 yo (43%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2016) Three stars Remember Dimple? An old-fashioned whisky that anyone should sip while listening to The Dark Side of The Moon. Excuse me? All right, all right, or to A Whiter Shade of Pale… Colour: gold. Nose: no, it’s nice. Not too soft, and not too rounded, there are even echoes of Clynelish and Ord. Pure speculations. Nice leafy and cigary arrival, then some kind of grassy fudge, with some waxy hay or something. I don’t know if this is ‘premium’ (a junk word they’re using a lot in the industry nowadays) but it sure is nice. Mouth: together with Johnnie Black, this is one of the blends I’d take whenever there’s no malt around – like, when you’re in the middle of the Sahara. Roasted nuts and leafy teas. Little sweetness, this is good. Finish: medium, malty and toffee-ish, this is the typical signature of many a medium-range Scottish blend. Comments: strictly nothing to complain about. And the bottle, once empty, makes for a perfect candleholder, should you own a pizzeria. Seriously, this is very good. SGP:451 - 80 points.

Lismore 12 yo ‘Special Reserve’ (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2016)

Lismore 12 yo ‘Special Reserve’ (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2016) Two stars and a half I know, whenever we’re reading the word ‘special’, we’re pulling out our shotguns. But you never know… This brand seems to be connected to Glenfarclas, by the way. Good pedigree, I say. Colour: gold. Nose: innocuous yet rather appealing, malty, slightly greasy and barley-y, dry, a tad dusty, becoming a little too cardboardy after one minute. But who would nose a 12 yo blend for one whole minute, I’m asking you? Mouth: seriously, this is ‘good’. Good oranges and apples, and good maltiness. Nothing to complain about. I might even find echoes of Glenfarclas 12, but I’m probably dreaming. Finish: medium, with solid body and maltiness. Comments: really fair. It would beat many a large-volume commercial blended Scotch, but the Dimple was superior IMHO. SGP:441 - 78 points.

What else have we got? Eenie meenie…

Ghosted Reserve 21 yo (42.8%, OB, William Grant, blended Scotch, +/-2014)

Ghosted Reserve 21 yo (42.8%, OB, William Grant, blended Scotch, +/-2014) Two stars I’m not sure the mentions on the label are totally legal, but there, it says ‘Ladyburn 1975’, ‘Inverleven 1992’, and ‘Dumbarton 2002’. Good to know. What’s sure is that this is some quasi-Lowland. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s rather the US oak that speaks out, with some vanilla and grated coconut. In the back, some light citrus, citrons, and perhaps a touch of menthol. This is pretty ‘very light bourbon’ if you ask me. Mouth: really light. The problem with these old Lowlanders is that they do not stand heavy oak too well, in my opinion. This is too coconutty for me, in other words. Vodka and Tagada, make of that what you can. Finish: short, sweet, and frankly uninteresting. Comments: a total waste of good old Ladyburn and Inverleven? I think so. SGP:630 - 70 points.

Eenie meenie… Ooh, Cadenhead! (again)…

William Cadenhead 43 yo (44.2%, Cadenhead, blended Scotch, +/-2016)

William Cadenhead 43 yo (44.2%, Cadenhead, blended Scotch, +/-2016) Three stars All right, some low malt proportions but there is some potential oomph, with 40% Glenfarclas and Glenfiddich, and 60% Invergordon. Love the design, since there’s no design. Colour: full gold. Nose: it’s rather the Invergordon that speaks out, with sweet and rounded vanillas and coconuts. Now it’s very interesting to ’feel’ the fight between the boneless grain and the rather bolder malts. Intriguing, I say. I’d have added 3 to 5% Coal Ila of something, but hey, not my business. Mouth: yes and no. Yes because it’s good, obviously, and no because the grain took control, for once. Some buttery, coconutty, vanilla-ed notes are playing it loud, and what comes next is rather too sweet and fruity for me. Jelly babies and stuff. So, a little thin, perhaps. Finish: medium, sweet. Comments: I’d say they need four times less time to make the same kind of whiskey in Amerikka! But yeah, it’s a very good drop. SGP:530 - 80 points.

Berry’s Finest 40 yo (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, for Taiwan, +/-2016)

Berry’s Finest 40 yo (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, for Taiwan, +/-2016) Four stars This one’s most probably very Speyside-y. Colour: dark gold. Nose: lovely smoky humidor and burning wood, burning cigars, then some oloroso-ish mustard and walnuts, ad well as dried flowers and herbs. That would involve cloves, cumin, cinnamon, and a fistful of dry black raisins, rather in some Armagnac way. Forgot to mention dried rose petals. Something antique indeed in this. Mouth: you’re thinking old precious woods, a London club with old gentlemen inside, many dry/tobacco-ish flavours, and a good deal of woods. I’m saying woods because that wouldn’t be only oak, also fir and some kind of mahogany. Very dry, tannic, black-tobacco-ish palate. Finish: long, really tannic and almost bitter, with really a lot of dark chocolate. Comments: the oak took control, but it’s some nice oak. Bags and bags of bitter chocolate plus a touch of bitter oranges. A very dry style. I enjoy, but it’s extreme. Or the other way ’round. SGP:371 - 87 points.

(Gracias Angus and Cooper)

More tasting notes Check the index of all blends I've tasted so far







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