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

September 2, 2021


A wee journey among the Nordics

Well, I had first thought 'the Nordic whiskies' were whiskies from anywhere north of France on a vertical line up to the North Pole, including Luxemburg, Belgium and The Netherlands, but a new very lovely leaflet by Berry Bros. & Rudd just taught me that those were 'only' Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland (I suppose Iceland's a part of the Nordics too, just like the Faroes). But that's a lot already since we could previously try quite a few superb juices from up there in the lands of rakfisk, smalahove and surströmming. Oh and of good friends. Maybe kick this off with a little apéritif, and then try to go dive into the wilderness?…

(PS some accents, slashes and umlauts will surely be missing here and there – with apologies, blame it on my Mac.)

Fary Lochan 2012/2017 'Forar Batch #02' (47%, OB, Denmark, 1500 bottles)

Fary Lochan 2012/2017 'Forar Batch #02' (47%, OB, Denmark, 1500 bottles) Three stars
This is fully ex-bourbon barrels and quarter casks. The distillery seems to be located in a town called 'Give', which can only be a very good sign. The two or three Fary Lochans I could try this far have been a little unusual but pretty good in my book. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's really fresh and pretty bready, you're almost nosing a mix of 90% breadcrumbs and 10% sawdust, before it would gear towards cider and just plain apple juice. Tends to become even breadier over time, always a development that I enjoy. Farmhouse bread with bits of apricot, also perhaps a little yoghurt (from the same farm). Mouth: more or less similar feelings, flour, a little sawdust, rye bread, apple juice, barley syrup, cider. Could be my mind playing tricks on me (again!) but I could quaff this, very lightly chilled, with gravlax and caviar. Finish: loses one or two points here because of this feeling of sawdust that tends to take over on your palate. Comments: reminds me of Russian barley vodka made in pot stills. Very pleasant breadiness.
SGP:441 - 81 points.

Another Fary Lochan…

Fary Lochan 2014/2021 (60.9%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Nordic Casks #1, hogshead, cask #6, 243 bottles)

Fary Lochan 2014/2021 (60.9%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Nordic Casks #1, hogshead, cask #6, 243 bottles) Four stars
I believe the fact that some very old, highly reputed merchants such as BB&R would now bottle some Nordic whiskies and not just Scotch does say a lot, especially given the fact that they have some super-noses on board. Colour: white wine. Nose: less sawdust for sure, more tart fruits (green gooseberries and rhubarb), a wee fermentary, yeasty and even kind of bacterial side as well (fear not, that's good!), and rather a lot of ethanol. Let's not push our luck – since we've got many more Nordics to try today – so, with water: fresh pancakes and polenta, with rather touches of blood oranges this time. Some chalk too. In whisky, chalk makes me walk (it's good that you don't work in advertising, S.)  Mouth (neat): heavy, hot, peppery and rather full of pear and pineapple sweets, plus a curious touch of vegetable, between asparagus and eggplant I would say. Teases you… With water: a very delicate fruitiness emerges, I would say prickly pears, together with no-less delicate, pretty minimal herbal smokiness. The malt is supposed to be smoked over burning nettle here but I'm not sure I could actually detect that. Finish: medium, gristy. Comments: very good for sure. Some sides reminded me of some Westland.
SGP:452 - 85 points.

More Dane whisky…

Stauning 'Kaos' (46%, OB, Denmark, +/-2021)

Stauning 'Kaos' (46%, OB, Denmark, +/-2021) Four stars
With such a name, this baby couldn't not have piqued my curiosity. This little chaotic whisky is a self-blend of Stauning's rye with their peated malt and was aged in first fill bourbon and virgin American oak. Aye, we're ready… Colour: light gold. Nose: a lot of fun, with smoked mangos, litres of chamomile tea, eucalyptus, cough syrup, rye bread, a saucerful of muesli (not secrets), then rather liquorice and even a little tar. No dissonances this far, we're good. Very moderate vanillaness, we're even better. Mouth: very good, pretty bombastic, with huge fruits (melons, apricots, mangos) and this bready smoke that's not seen everywhere. Touches of juniper and caraway, a little nutmeg, then fruit breads and even a little sourdough bread. We call that süweck here in Alsace. Finish: rather long and more on liquorice. Lightly salted liquorice. Comments: a joyful whisky that's both very excellent, innovative (for once, when some whiskymakers innovate they do not have exactly the same innovations as everybody else), and just fun. Recommended if the price is right. No we don't check prices.
SGP:652 - 85 points.

That one just called for another newish Stauning…(boy this session will be long)…

Stauning 'Bastard' (46.3%, OB, Denmark, +/-2020)

Stauning 'Bastard' (46.3%, OB, Denmark, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
Wie bitte, what bastard? Can you, in non-Japanese whisky, bear the name of a distillery and yet be a bastard? In any case, this is 70% malted rye and 30% malted barley, aged in deep-charred casks, and finished in… drumroll please… Mezcal! So yeah, an utter bastard… Colour: gold. Nose: right, perhaps a little too much. You do get the agave-y smells, which are always extremely singular, and you get that rich floral fruitiness that you could find in some young American ryes. Violets, lavender, sour peaches, then moist high-honey gingerbread, more gingerbread, even more gingerbread, a cartload of gingerbread… And tequila! Not too sure, but good fun. Mouth: this is almost tweaked aquavit, almost a real shamble... So, ginger wine, tonic, tequila, lavender, rye bread, gingerbread (you bet), beech smoke, pink pepper… Finish: rather long, round and yet fruity and spicy, with more sweet 'ex-char' vanilla. Comments: we've heard Diageo were doing stuff with whisky and tequila, but it is the first time I'm encountering such an UFW (unidentified flying whisky). Now, doesn't Stauning Distillery kind of belong to Diageo? That may explain why this is all a little 'hipstery'.
SGP:762 - 83 points.

From Denmark we'll swim to Smögen, then perhaps walk up north to High Coast…

Smögen 6 yo 2014/2021 (58.5%, OB, Exclusive to Germany, Sweden, PX hogsheads, cask #41+42, 852 bottles)

Smögen 6 yo 2014/2021 (58.5%, OB, Exclusive to Germany, Sweden, PX hogsheads, cask #41+42, 852 bottles) Four stars
Smögen's case is now closed, as every Tom, Dick and Harry now knows that it's one of the best small distilleries in the world. Colour: gold. Nose: another one that oozes of smartness. Some sides are clearly unlikely (I mean, deep-caramelised pad Thai? Mussel curry and raisins?) but this rich fermentary nose that seems to be full of esters - Jamaican-style - just burst with joy and hope (hold your horse, S.) Are we sure it was PX? With water: myrtle, cold stove, scoria, eucalyptus wood, a pack of salmiak… Mouth (neat): what a rich, smoky, caramelly, phenolic, resinous, highly extractive concoction! I'd swear you could believe this was rather cold-distilled, or that someone's smoked raisins over burning rubber boots or tyres. With water: wood oils, liquorice,  garam masala, juniper berries, marmalade. Finish: kind of endless, an aspect that any taster should factor in when building a line-up. Comments: big and lovely, almost monstrous. I'm sure our dear German friends enjoy this with their best currywursts. Peace and love!
SGP:474 - 87 points.

Off to Box/High Coast, further north…

High Coast 'H' (51%, OB, Sweden, Silent Mills Collection 03 Svanö, 2021)

High Coast 'H' (51%, OB, Sweden, Silent Mills Collection 03 Svanö, 2021) Four stars
I'm not totally sure I'm getting the whole story (I have to confess I first read 'Silent Stills' and felt a little sad) but there, we're here for the whisky anyway, are we not. Colour: light gold. Nose: some zesty peat, it seems, with a pretty Islayian tightness, so quite the opposite to the exuberant Smögen, oranges, fresh kelp, fresh almonds, lemon squash, lemonade… With water: gets more medicinal, with bandages, ointments,      some grist, some chalk… Mouth (neat): just very good, lemony, rich and somewhat oily, with some spices from the wood, ginseng, turmeric, ginger… Some bell pepper too, this one too has a kind of Thai style. I may need holidays, having said that. With water: do not add more than one drop or it would make the oak come out. Finish: long, fresh, more on lemons, angelica, fresh turmeric… Comments: I'll have to enquire about those 'silent mills'. The whisky's excellent.
SGP:563 - 85 points.

High Coast 2013/2021 (60.9%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Sweden, Nordic Casks #1, hogshead, cask #1384, 290 bottles)

High Coast 2013/2021 (60.9%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Sweden, Nordic Casks #1, hogshead, cask #1384, 290 bottles) Five stars
Looks like this is an unpeated High Coast, and another one in this brand new Nordic series by BB&R. I'm just wondering, would they also add Highland Park to this wee series? Colour: deep gold. Nose: bang, butterscotch and heather honey plus cappuccino and amontillado. Am an utter sucker for this fairly modern style. With water: precious hardwood, box of Partagas (as I remember them), toffee and fudge, roasted pecans and peanuts… To be honest, I'm reminded of the early batches of Macallan 10 Cask Strength. Mouth (neat): sublime! Huge, on fudge and pine liqueur, chartreuse, millionaire shortbread covered with pepper liqueur and crème de menthe, juniper and its buddy caraway… Well in my own way of organising things, this falls into the DDIA category. Which just means 'Don't Drink It All'. With water: oh, oils and herbal liqueurs, with just a tightness that tickles your tongue and teases your lips. I know, I know. Finish: long and more resinous. Comments: feels like first fill fino or perhaps amontillado, but it just says 'hogshead'. What do I know…
SGP:471 - 90 points.

Since we're at High Coast, quickly…

High Coast 2015/2020 (63.6%, OB, for Taiwan Single Malt Club, 2nd fill Hungarian oak, 76 bottles)

High Coast 2015/2020 (63.6%, OB, for Taiwan Single Malt Club, 2nd fill Hungarian oak, 76 bottles) Three stars
What's this wee bottling? Hungarian oak is European oak and is widely used in winemaking. Unless they mean ex-Tokaji cask of something? Colour: gold. Nose: too strong, burns your nostrils and leaves you with no other option than Netflix. Let's avoid that… With water: tight, lemony and herbal, with notes of absinth and menthol. Pastis perhaps, vanilla, brioche… Mouth (neat): very good. Yellow chartreuse and fudge, it seems… But it is very strong. With water: careful, it is not the best swimmer ever, some excessive paraffin and plastics may come out. That's the thing with these super-high strengths, they're a chore to handle. Resins. Finish: long, resinous, still hard to handle… Comments: 100° proof don't do no harm, higher strengths would tend to be unnecessary in my book, unless you're some kind of fetishist. See what I mean, cowboys and all that. I think I more or less missed this one.
SGP:363 - 82 points.

Good , let's move to Norway if you don't mind…

Myken 2017/2021 (61.4%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Norway, Nordic Casks #1, barrel, cask #15, 246 bottles)

Myken 2017/2021 (61.4%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Norway, Nordic Casks #1, barrel, cask #15, 246 bottles) Four stars
This is a first on WF. What's striking me is the fact the vast majority of these excellent Nordic distilleries were started by whisky enthusiasts and certainly not by any big faceless businesses. By the way, Myken sits on an island in the north of Norway, near the artic circle. Let's just hope that with global warming, they won't end up with a climate that's equivalent to that of Dar-es-Salam. Well they could always distil figs… Colour: white wine. Nose: a few sugary touches, fruit creams, berries, gooseberries, green plums, some hay for sure, sourdough… Once again, it is a little strong. With water: ah nice, sourdough, weissbeer, smoky porridge (just another name for porridge with Ardbeg), oxalis, oyster plant… Mouth (neat): very tart and citrusy. Limoncello! A milder, herbal smoke in the background. With water: smoked sour bread, lemon, bone-dry sauvignon blanc, etcetera. Touches of fennel seed and liquorice, green smoke, Korean smoked oysters... Finish: long, blade-y, rather rich, fermentary and yeasty. Mind you, this is hardly four years old. Comments: great surprise. They all seem to keep their whiskies close to nature, unless they've learnt the sorcery of wood technology. Did you know that some distillers now have an Alexa pod in each and every barrel? Nah of course I'm joking. Anyway, an excellent young Norwegian whisky, we are pleased.
SGP:452 - 85 points.

Time to drive to Finland, via the north of Sweden…

Kyro 2016/2021 (54.6%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Finland, Nordic Casks #1, barrel, cask #16037, 256 bottles)

Kyro 2016/2021 (54.6%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Finland, rye, Nordic Casks #1, barrel, cask #16037, 256 bottles) Four stars
I remember well Kyro's early ryes, they were excellent. But I'm afraid I've lost touch… Colour: deep gold. Nose: yeah there. Sauna oils (as if by chance) and muscat, gewurztraminer, pomegranates, and just, well, Sauternes. Yep, Sauternes. With water: oh, pumpernickel, homemade gingerbread… I just adore this! My Germanity is flattered. Mouth (neat): oh lol, this is super good, extremely sweet and overly spicy, on turbo-charged rye and rose jellies. The most precious Turkish delights. With water: lavender, wisteria jelly (not sure you could make that), sweet rye, red liquorice… Finish: long, very spicy, very fruity. Some kind of gentle monster-spirit, now it tends to become a tad wishy-washy, on chicory and office coffee. Grenadine and liquorice allsorts in the aftertaste. This is always the tricky stage. Comments: was this man made? AI whisky? As always, the finish decides on the score. Well, more or less; having said that, I rather love this boisterous wee Kyro.
SGP:652 - 87 points.

Time to call this a tasting session, with a last Scandinavian whisky. One that bites and hits you (I suppose)…

Teerenpeli 7 yo (70.5%, OB for Kirsch Import, Finland, sherry, cask #09122013A, 276 bottles)

Teerenpeli 7 yo (70.5%, OB for Kirsch Import, Finland, sherry, cask #09122013A, 276 bottles) Four stars
I mean, holy featherless crow! I'll tell you what, if this didn't come from those fabulous and trustworthy people at Kirsch Import, I wouldn't even touch this drop. I mean, 70%, isn't that just criminal? On the other hand, you're right, I doubt any variants of Covid-19 would resist this little liquid. So, with confidence and faith… Colour: gold. Nose: butterscotch, Jim Beam and varnish. Find the odd one out. With water: yeah butterscotch, yeah bourbon, yeah varnish, yeah chestnut ice cream, and yeah malt soup. Very few people still eat malt soup, but it's a very fine dish and I'm sure *** Michelin restaurants will soon put this back into their menus. Well, they should. Mouth (neat): it's loud but you do feel that this crazy caramelly and toffee-ish concoction kind of works. Listen, this is almost cold espresso. With water: more malty and bourbony sourness. You could have called this the missing link. What I really enjoy is the way it becomes soupy, salty, bouillony, with even caramelised onions and pickled figs. Not too sure about those pickled figs. Finish: long, salty and malty, pretty yeastier at this stage, going towards espresso and chicory coffee in the aftertaste. Comments: what was that? Extraordinarily malty whisky. Thank you Finland.
SGP:362 - 86 points.

Eleven Nordic whiskies, looks like we've made it! Congrats my friend, and thanks for your unconditionally unconditional support… (Ed: S., that was so unnecessary!)

(Danke Sebastian und Jonny)







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