Google First Solera Tasting Session ever

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

April 1, 2018


A Whiskyfun Exclusive

Introducing the world's first Solera Tasting Session ever!

This will be a bag of anything that’s around, like we sometimes do. Strange stuff, singletons, one-offs, isolated juices, marketing-led combos, new firsts, actual pearls, whatever… But we’ll first taste each spirit like we always do, one after the other and then back and forth, and then ‘vat’ everything and keep the end result until the next session, when we’ll re-pour that vatting into each newer spirit we’ll taste. So this very session will be kind of kept alive, and ‘topped up’ every once in a while with new ‘criaderas’. Indeed, like a solera. How smart is that? After all, if the Scots or the rum guys can do it, we can do it too. So today it will be the…

Whiskyfun’s Solera Tasting, criadera #1
(thirteen spirits of the world)

Costwolds 2014/2017 ‘Batch 03’ (46%, OB, UK, 6,800 bottles, 2017)

Costwolds 2014/2017 ‘Batch 03’ (46%, OB, UK, 6,800 bottles, 2017) Four stars
Batch numero uno had been impressive (WF 85). And yes this is English while I am French. And? BTW they’ve used Odyssey barley, but I know nothing about barley, although names such as chalice or chariot are ringing a bell. Wait, why haven’t some Englishmen used chariot? Colour: gold. Nose: perfect, as nice as you can make at three years of age. Praline, macchiato, barley, scones, custard, branches, shortbread, quince jelly… Mouth: sure you feel the oak’s spices, but you’ve also got notes of Timut pepper that are extremely rare in whisky. That’s a thing, I think. Finish: medium, creamy, with more pink peppercorns (Szechuan style) and all sorts of soft crafty spices from some newish active wood of good quality. Comments: very smart and very good. Very well thought-of, if I may. Actually, I’m f**** impressed.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Lindores Abbey ‘Aqua Vitae Batch No. 001’ (40%, OB, Spirit Drink, 2018)

Lindores Abbey ‘Aqua Vitae Batch No. 001’ (40%, OB, Spirit Drink, 2018) Two stars
Okay I’ll say, it, I’m not ready to write long lines about each and every zillionth Scottish distillery that’ll pop out in the coming months or years, but this one's special. So, it's called Lindores Abbey. You know, Lindores, friar Something, bowls, kings, exchequer rolls, whatever… Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a herbal liqueur. Not a bad one, mind you, not at all, but it’s not a spirit, let alone baby whisky. Actually, it’s a nice cross between gin and Bénédictine. Mouth: not bad at all, just the strength is a little too low, seriously. That makes it all a little too short, and you need a super-memory. I know what I’m trying to say. Rhubarb, fennel, lovage, sugar. Finish: short but fresh. Aniseed and celery. Comments: I think this is good, but let’s wait.
SGP:561 - 70 points.

Langatun ‘Nero D’Avola Cask Finish’ (58%, OB, Switzerland, 2018)

Langatun ‘Nero D’Avola Cask Finish’ (58%, OB, Switzerland, 2018) Three stars
Pizzeria whisky? Look, as soon as I spot some kind of Prosecco-ed whisky, I’ll quit whisky blogging! Now the problem is that I know that Langatun can make some very good spirits, so let’s not jump our guns… Colour: dark red amber. Nose: do you believe in miracles? This has no overstated red berries, no stuffy jams, and no crazy syrups, rather a lovely chocolaty feel, which we could call ganache-y. Familiar with ganache? Now, indeed, the oak’s a little loud, but let’s see, knowing that wineskies often swim badly … With water: it’s okay, but it’s the oak that’s taken the talking stick. Teak oil, pinewood… Mouth (neat): a heavy spicy concoction that reminds me of what Lost Spirits are doing in Amerikka. Cocoa, concentrated raspberry juice, gingerbread, cloves, caraway… It is a bit heavy, I have to say. With water: no, that rather worked. Soft oak spices, cassis, soft curry… Finish: long and quite curiously, not too extreme. Potpourri, cassis, cloves, etc. Comments: more than fine but Petite Arvine next time, please… ;-).
SGP:561 - 80 points (no, really, it’s pretty good!)

Now we got our thing going on…

Doinich Daal 3 yo 2011 ‘Malachit Edition’ (40%, OB, Dürr, Germany, +/-2014, 200 bottles)

Doinich Daal 3 yo 2011 ‘Malachit Edition’ (40%, OB, Dürr, Germany, +/-2014, 200 bottles)
This is malted barley spirit (a.k.a malt whisky when over 3) form the Black Forrest, finished in apple casks. Of course there are more stories, but google is your friend (not sure about that, pal). Colour: gold. Nose: not un-nice, all on spicy cakes, kougelhopf, rye, crepes, pine sawdust, and a bag of wholegrain flour. We’re feeling safe so far… Mouth: no, it’s not bad, seriously. It’s very bready, its probably not as well-constructed as the pyramids, it’s got a pretty good honeyed texture, but sadly, everything goes awry after five seconds, flattish, cardboardy, sickly sour… At which stage did they add the malachite, by the way? Finish: very short, sweet and sour. Comments: good intentions, and even good arrivals, but the spirit’s probably too thin to withstand any serious oaking-up. I’m sure the next batches will be better.
SGP:331 - 50 points.

DYC (40%, OB, Spain, blend, +/-2017)

DYC (40%, OB, Spain, blend, +/-2017)
This by the formers owners of the long gone Lochside Distillery, but let’s not dream… Colour: pale gold. Nose: nada. Some oak, perhaps. Passport is nicer. Mouth: kind of okayish… On plenty of ice. Vanilla, sugar syrups, cardboard, vanilla, cardboard, vanilla, cardboard, vanilla... Very forgettable. Finish: not much, but at least it’s clean. Comments: good, imagine you’re in Madrid, with a temperature of over 35°C, and you haven’t drunk a drop of anything for hours. In that case… Some extra points for the harmlessness, at least they haven’t tried too hard. And it’s almost as good as Haig Clubman.
SGP:230 - 65 points.

And now something hy our friends the English…

English Whisky Co. 7 yo (60%, The Single Cask, UK, cask #B443, 249 bottles)

English Whisky Co. 7 yo (60%, The Single Cask, UK, cask #B443, 249 bottles) Two stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: some good peat over pineapples and pears, with a layer of white pepper and crushed butterscotch. You feel the oak’s a little loud, while the spirit was good enough to stand on its own feet after those seven years, but there… With water: ginger, cinnamon, and caraway from the wood. Keith Moon was on drums here. Mouth (neat): rich spicy oaky arrival, with some ginger and some cinnamon, plus vanilla-ed sweets. Gets then leafier, but you feel we’re not too far from good balance. A little less upholstery would have worked better in my opinion, but then again, who am I? With water: ah, it swims well, as quite bizarrely, water makes the huge oak a little more… human? It’s the opposite that happens, usually. Finish: rather long, on smoked pears and stuff. Charcoal in the aftertaste. Comments: to be fair, there’s tremendous potential, they just have to get the distillate/oak balance right. But again and again, who am I to quibble?
SGP:454 - 78 points.

Another try please…

English Whisky Co. (66.3%, Blackadder, bourbon, cask #279, 259 bottles, 2016)

English Whisky Co. (66.3%, Blackadder, bourbon, cask #279, 259 bottles, 2016) Four stars
I couldn’t tell you if Rowan Atkinson was really involved here, but some English whisky by Blackadder sounds… appropriate. Colour: white wine. Nose: charcoal again, smoked porridge, crushed bananas, and, I have to say, some kind of Ardbegness. Seriously. The oak’s rather quiet this time, but at this strength, it could well just be sleeping, let’s see…  With water: did someone try to replicate Ardbeg Ten here? Well, in that case, I’m happy to report that that worked. Mouth (neat): oh good! A zesty clean and yet rather fat peat, with loads of grapefruit. I think this is extremely okay, but remember, 66.3%... So, with water: sweeter and fruitier than Ardbeg Ten this time, and that’s probably the younger age (I suppose). Pear sweets and marshmallows, but those notes wouldn’t clash with the high peat. Finish: long, very clean, with some mandarin and grapefruit juice. Comments: I wouldn’t say I’m surprised but… oh well, I am surprised. This is extremely good, and there was no obvious oakiness in sight this time. Kudos to whom this may concern.
SGP:557 - 87 points.

Fair ‘Muscovado Rum’ 2016 (55%, Fair, Mauritius, 2017)

Fair ‘Muscovado Rum’ 2016 (55%, Fair, Mauritius, 2017)
Hold on, this doesn’t belong here! Now in whiskyfun there’s also fun… And this is my ‘blog’, so I do what I want, okay? What's more, this is Sunday! Anyone not pleased? Sorry, no refunds… Colour: white. Nose: well it’s rather herbal rum, I’m finding fennel, wormwood, touches of cumin, juniper… With water: not quite, it gets sugary – as in a pack of raw saccharine. Mouth (neat): beetroots, carrots, sugar. Not quite my thing, I’m afraid. With water: more of all that, plus turnips stewed in molasses. Finish: medium, narrow, vegetal and sweet. Embarrassing aftertaste. Comments: usually love what the great people at Fair’s are doing, fair trade and all that, but you can’t always win and this very spirit feels pretty… say empty? Chop-chop, this is for the coming summer’s neighbours mojitos (no, the neighbours don't read Whiskyfun) … I think I’ll have some of Fair’s Belize rums soon, those are extremely good.
SGP:550 - 40 points.

Back to whisky…

Kornog Roc’h Hir (46%, OB, France, Brittany, bourbon, +/-2016)

Kornog 'Roc’h Hir' (46%, OB, France, Brittany, bourbon, +/-2016) Four stars
No need to tell you all the good I’m thinking of Glann ar Mor and their peated version Kornog. Colour: white wine. Nose: soft ashes, lemon juice, apple juice, wood smoke, coal, ink, baguette dough, muesli. There is nothing to dislike here. Mouth: first an exotic touch, between blood oranges and papayas, then a rather herbal smokiness that’s building up on eucalyptus and menthol cigarettes, as well as small notes of orange skin oils. A touch of acacia flower. Finish: rather long, with a wee sweeter touch (barley syrup?) and then a very ashy/smoky ending. The aftertaste is a tad branche-y. Comments: an impeccably pure and natural peater from Celtic soils.
SGP:456 - 87 points.

Kornog 'Sant Ivy 2016' (59.1%, OB, France, Brittany)

Kornog 'Sant Ivy 2016' (59.1%, OB, France, Brittany) Four stars and a half
The 2015 was excellent, and I haven’t tried the 2017 yet. All right, people, let's do this by the numbers. Colour: pale straw. Nose: it’s got this mix of fatness and clarity that’s sometimes to be found in Caol Ila. A drop of tinned pineapple syrup, a moderate vanillaness, just a wee touch of clean rubber, and then various herbs from a monk’s garden (cannabis… I’m joking), almond milk, barley water, marzipan, and a drop of chartreuse (menthol, aniseed, wormwood, green liquorice). With water: fresh almonds! Always a very good sign. Mouth (neat): totally very good. Big, on candyfloss and more tinned pineapples, then smoked grass (I mean, lawn), then mentholy herbs. I find this perfect. With water: gets sweeter and easier (that’s the whole point of adding water, S.), but balance remains perfect. Finish: rather long, and rather more ashy than smoky, which is good. Comments: very impressive, a shame that they aren’t making more Kornog. True craft.
SGP:467 - 89 points.

Let’s change country…

Slyrs ‘Fifty One’ (51%, OB, Germany, Bavaria, +/-2016)

Slyrs ‘Fifty One’ (51%, OB, Germany, Bavaria, +/-2016) Three stars
It seems that this was matured (or finished?) in new American oak. I you ever get to Bayern, go visit the distillery, it’s lovely and they are also having very good eaux-de-vies. Colour: gold. Nose: typical virgin oak, with sweeter ginger cream and coconutty custard over wholegrain bread. We aren’t that far from some American craft distillates. With water: nice. Sawn wood, broken trees, cinnamon, vanilla, touches of gin. Mouth (neat): cinnamon big time, cinnamon rolls, praline, gingerbread, coconut cake, bread… With water: sure the oak’s doing all the talking, but this is not pure plank juice, thanks to these aforementioned cinnamon rolls. And to the pleasant coconut and oranges. Finish: medium, sweet, bready. Pineapple. Comments: do you like cinnamon? Just wondering… No, it’s very well made, they go it right IMHO.
SGP:551 - 80 points.

RU up for a last one?

Millstone 19 yo 1996/2016 (50.1%, OB, Zuidam, Netherlands, oloroso, cask #4090, 322 bottles)

Millstone 19 yo 1996/2016 (50.1%, OB, Zuidam, Netherlands, oloroso, cask #4090, 322 bottles) Four stars and a half
You’ll be glad to learn that this was made out of grain milled by Dutch windmills. Remember that song? Seriously, you can’t go wrong with Millstone, as we’ve already noticed a few times in the past. Colour: red coffee. Nose: old Armagnac, old Grand-Marnier, and old Demerara rum blended together. Plus a few drops of super-old brandy de Jerez. Seriously, this is possibly the most oloroso-y whisky I’ve ever tried, and indeed I’m taking Signatory’s old Ardbegs into consideration. With water: walnuts, we’ll leave it at that. Mouth (neat): totally love this, even if it’s more brandy than whisky. In truth it beats all the brandies I’ve tried in Andalucia fair and square, for it’s beautifully drier than most. Love the notes of extra-old vinegar (whether from Modena or Jerez) and the various pipe tobaccos. With water: these big black raisins they have in the region of Izmir. Finish: extremely long. Mint and prunes and walnuts. Comments: metanoical spirit, not quite brandy, not quite whisky. A tad mad, but I totally love it.
SGP:472 - 88 points.

I know we said that was the last one, but a good dram leads to another one…

Millstone 17 yo 1998/2016 (55.5%, OB, Zuidam, Netherlands, oloroso, cask #2530, 203 bottles)

Millstone 17 yo 1998/2016 (55.5%, OB, Zuidam, Netherlands, oloroso, cask #2530, 203 bottles) Four stars
Why change a recipe that works? Colour: deep bronze-y gold. Nose: it’s different. Even drier, even nuttier, and rather sweeter and rounder at the same time, as if a few drops of PX or moscatel had been thrown in. Mindboggling. Nothing to worry about though, just a few drops of PX or moscatel, not even saying someone did that… Perhaps also a little more mushrooms (dried porcinis), nuts and cigars. It’s actually pretty perfect. Oh and here’s some acidic coffee. With water: okay, the nuts won it. Walnuts and chestnuts, both roasted. Mouth (neat): insane and insanely good. Peppery raisins, extreme pipe tobaccos, miso soup, walnuts wine, mustard… We know anything is legal in Holland, but this goes beyond any human limits. Now to be honest, it tends to become a little too dry and starts to bite you after two or three minutes. It’s not a tasting session, it’s a fight. With water: chocolate. Van Houten’s, naturally. Gets a tad too leafy now – for me. Finish: long, on thick old vinegars again. Comments: very good and very tiring. Perhaps for mild masochists? Seriously, it’s great spirit…
SGP:572 - 87 points.

Good, so everything will now get vatted, kept in a glass jar, and then added to each and every spirit we'll try for criadera #2. When will that happen? Not too sure yet, but stay tuned and get ready...

(Danke schoen Christophe)






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