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Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2012 - Part 2
       

April 2012 - part 1 <--- April 2012 - part 2 ---> May 2012 - part 1

 

April 30, 2012

Whiskyfun
Tasting two peaters from the Rhinns of Islay
There’s a new Port Charlotte for our friend Gordon Homer and his buddies but most sadly, I haven’t got any other yet—to-taste PC at hand for due comparison. Yeah, what a lame ‘whisky blogger!’ What shall we do? Maybe start with a Kilchoman, after all, both distilleries are very close…
Kilchoman Kilchoman 'Winter 2010 release' (46%, OB) Three stars and a half Yes it was about time I tasted this baby… Colour: white wine. Nose: ultra-clean peat smoke on cut apples and seawater, then something pleasantly leafy. Also quite some soot, ashes, then more coastal notes, beach sand, seaweed… It’s quite narrow but that narrowness is in fact an asset in this context. Right, not narrow, ‘focused’! Mouth: relatively soft but very ashy and smoky, with some tar as well, a little brine, what some call ‘sweet peat’, some grapefruit and then a little cough syrup. The whole works very well despite the obvious youth. Finish: medium long, with some kind of herbs, hard to pin down. Isn’t this sage? Wait, tarragon? Comments: I don’t think this is fully mature yet, but the fairly dry spirit is top class and the peat makes it very ‘drinkable’ – provided you like peat of course. SGP:257 - 84 points.
Port Charlotte Port Charlotte 10 yo 2001/2012 (64.4%, OB for The Geordie Laddies, fresh bourbon barrel, cask #857, 243 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: quite amazingly, this is noseable at such high strength, it’s even quite mellow and rounded, I guess fresh bourbon wood kind of softened the spirit. I also get whiffs of fresh walnuts, almond oil, putty, maybe just a little wet paint (which I like), carbolineum… Not a lot more but at such high strength, that was to be expected. With water: this baby is hard to tame and you can add as much water as you like, it’ll remain big. What I get is a fairly unusual profile that would involve a little turpentine, more carbolineum, a little artisan cider, brine, hessian and then something kippery. At the fruit department, we have citrons and star fruits. Mouth (neat): ultra-creamy yet very nervous, very lemony and of course very peaty. I won’t take chances and quaff too much of it before dilution, but there’s a feeling of both fullness and balance that screams ‘I’m great!’. With water: it’s full, it’s rounded and sweet (bourbon wood), it’s already complex and it’s very finely lemony. Can one peat lemons and then make some kind of liqueur out of that? Quite some vanilla fudge too. Finish: long and ashy, with some apple peeling in the aftertaste. Comments: what’s quite striking here is the feeling of ‘fullness’. I’m not the greatest fan of fresh bourbon wood generally speaking, but this one goes down like a treat. I think lovers of this style will worship it, while I only like it very, very and I mean very much ;-). SGP:657 - 89 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: some astounding 'free' jazz from one of the most seminal recordings ever, it's Brother B - Original by Arthur T. Jones (from the Byg recordings, 1970). I think it's as utterly stunning as an Old Clynelish. Please buy Arthur T. Jones' music.

Jones
 

April 27, 2012

Whiskyfun
Tasting Springbank 2001 vs 1951.
Yes, that's fifty years
So Limburg's Whisky Fair is taking place this weelend and I thought we could do a wee session that best symbolises what's usually offered there, that is to say a joyous mixture of great old and brand new bottlings (and friendship!). Sadly (cough cough) I caught a cold and it all looks grim this morning. I'm afraid I won't make it this year.
Springbank Springbank 10 yo 2001/2012 'Rundlets & Kilderkins' (49.4%, OB, 9000 bottles) Four stars We previewed this baby two or three weeks ago and liked it. Colour: full gold. Nose: starts rather smoky, with something clearly Longrowish, which cannot displease us. Goes on with some freshly brewed coffee, toasted brioche, chocolate, honeydew and maybe touches of pu-erh tea, then more damp earth and roasted nuts. Springbank's slight farminess shines through ('clean' manure), as well as whiffs of hessian and wet cloth. Very, very nice nose. Mouth: it's certainly rougher and less complex now, but still pretty excellent. Bitter chocolate, leather, tobacco and then a lot of liquorice wood and a kind of fino-ish character (walnut liqueur). Sucking on an unlit Havana cigar. Finish: long, pleasantly bitter (tobacco and walnuts again). Comments: it's a big dram, more complex on the nose than on the palate but that's very often the case with youngsters that have seen quite some oak. Anyway, I think it's pretty excellent. SGP:463 - 87 points.
Springbank Glen Cawdor 32 yo 1951 (46%, Samaroli, 120 bottles, +/-1983) Five stars Glen Cawdor, despite being used for various distilleries in recent times, was often said to be Springbank in the old days. Colour: straw. Nose: hamazing, as they say. Indeed there are these notes of Iberic ham, mixed with some putty and almond oil as well as a little walnut liqueur and very obvious coastal notes (kelp, oysters…) Also even more pu-erh tea than in the Rundlets and Whatever, gasoline, a little ink, a great mustiness (humus, old wine cellar) and a whispering smoke that reminds me of some very old Talisker. It's all extremely complex and, as expected, truly magnificent. Mouth: a fabulous phenolic and coastal attack, unusually peaty for Springbank (was Springbank much peatier in the early 195Os?), very mineral, carbolic so to speak, tarry, magnificently acrid (yes that's possible), with some citrus fruits emerging after a few seconds, smoked tea, citrons, limes, angelica…Well, one may like to call the anti-maltoporn brigade at this point! Finish: incredibly long and chewy, with some roots, a feeling of peated turnips (Baldrick would have done that) and touches of salt. Very tarry aftertaste. Comments: quintessentially glorious! (wot?) Even if the acridness may scare a few tasters - but how many bottles do remain today anyway? SGP:464 - 95 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a very gripping and very funny rendition of Like Someone in Love by Django Bates, with Josephine Cronholm on vocals. That was on Quiet Nights (not so quiet). Please buy it and all of Django Bates' music!

Bates
 

April 26, 2012

Whiskyfun
A short Imperial verticale
Imperial is another amazing distillery. From being almost unknown despite G&M’s licensed bottlings, it went to becoming almost cult since it got mothballed a few years ago… Yeah, like many famous painters…
Imperial Imperial 1995/2011 (53.9%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon hogshead) Four stars This one in the new 'duck' series. Let's see if it's lame ;-). Colour: pale gold. Nose: a fruit salad, really, with only a few spices in the background, such as green cardamom and, above all, quite some vanilla that give it a pretty modern style. Bananas, apples, gooseberries and very ripe kiwis in fairly thick custard. A little menthol too. With water: even more fruits and no whiffs of eucalyptus leaves. Mouth (neat): fresh, lively and very fruity, citrusy, playful and very pleasant. Orange drops, marshmallows, liquorice allsorts and then just a little white pepper and ginger. Creamy mouth feel. Good! With water: same. Citrus skin. Finish: long, clean, fresh, fruity, moderately spicy. Comments: typical bourbon ageing on a fruity good quality Speysider. Won’t make you scratch your head but will never, ever disappoint. SGP:641 – 86 points.
Imperial Imperial 16 yo 1994/2011 (57.4%, Gordon & MacPhail Exclusive for Whisky Shop Dufftown, refill bourbon, cask #7300, 267 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: a slightly grassier, greener version that’s a little younger despite being older (well, you see what I mean). The wood was probably a less active. A little olive oil, apples, whiffs of varnish, bubblegum… It’s young but it’s fine. With water: the vanilla comes out even more, together with a little tea. Mouth (neat): thick and syrupy, with much more sweet American oak than in the nose this time. Vanilla crème, lemon liqueur, mint, ginger and orange squash. The whole is really punchy. Sweet and punchy! With water: the fruits come out more and it got very close to the 1995. Finish: medium long, clean, citrusy. Comments: same comments as above. This is easy and extremely drinkable. SGP:641 - 86 points.
Imperial Imperial 19 yo 1991/2011 (55.3%, Silver Seal) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: the fruitiest so far, and the one’s that’s the most ‘tropical’ if not topical (sic). Papayas and guavas with quite some vanilla again and a little sugarcane. Also discreet touches of rubber that we already had in the others. Orange zests. With water: same. Maybe more oranges and more slightly rubbery zests. Mouth (neat): akin to the 1994. Thick, fruity, liqueurish and syrupy. Orange and lemon liqueurs and a little chlorophyll (are those tannins?) With water: really, really nice now. A kind of leafy fruitiness that gives it more freshness. Peppermint? Finish: medium long, with more liquorice and even more mint. Comments: interesting to see what three or five more years do to a whisky that was most probably very similar to the younger ones a few years ago. SGP:551 - 87 points.
Imperial Imperial 21 yo 1990/2011 (52.7%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon hogshead, 233 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: we’re well in the style of the 1995 this time, with maybe just a little more café latte and caramel cream. Very, very nice notes of juicy ripe Williams pears and a lot of vanilla. With water: same. Maybe something a little more floral, roses… Mouth (neat): rich, mouth coating, more complex than the others, maybe thanks to the older age. Same kind of fruitiness (including papayas) but also more spices and herbs. Chives, dill, ginger… Excellent. With water: perfect balance, it’s the Silver Seal that went one step further towards perfect age. Lemon, ginger, caramel sweets (Werther’s) and vanilla and lemon pie. Very sexy, so to speak. Finish: medium long, even more on lemon pie (with a lot of custard). Cardamom and ginger in the aftertaste – some kind of sweet Indian sauce? Comments: quite brilliant, this one! I can’t wait to taste these ‘American’ Imperials when they reach 25 or even 30 years of age… SGP:651 - 89 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Iast time at home, we were having a 1976 Benriach and I had put some Gene Harris on the stereo. 'A perfect match!', said my friends... It's true that the song was the ultra-luscious Love talkin' (from Astral Signal)... Nice match indeed, don't you agree? Anyway, please buy Gene Harris' music!

Harris
 

April 25, 2012

Whiskyfun
Tasting three American ryes
American (and Canadian) rye is the kind of whiskey that’s quite hot with Scotch drinkers these days. Exactly why, I don’t know… Maybe because they’re usually quite good or even stunning!
Sazerac Sazerac 'Straight Rye' (45%, OB, Kentucky Straight Rye, +/-2011) Three stars Colour: gold. Nose: very fragrant, with whiffs of roses and gewürztraminer, then more caraway and coconut, most probably from the fresh oak. Goes on with more vanilla and some slightly sour fudgy notes as well as a few barbecue herbs such as thyme and rosemary, maybe even a little oregano. Globally, smells a bit like a carpenter’s workshop (a carpenter who’s working not only with oak!) Mouth: sweet and spicy, between ginger liqueur and advocaat, then more vanilla, peppermint and white pepper. Also quite some oak, liquorice, bitter chocolate and peach leaves. Firm, but easy body. Finish: quite long, a tad more molassy/sugary, with also more tannins (these notes of bitter chocolate) but also more cardboard in the aftertaste. Slightly disappointing at this point. Comments: it’s not complicated whisky and you have to like extractive whiskies, but it’s certainly very well made. SGP:651 - 81 points.
Sazerac Sazerac 18 yo 'Fall 2011' (45%, OB, Kentucky Straight Rye, 2011) Three stars I’ve only tried old ones so far (bottled in the early 2000s). Colour: amber. Nose: very fragrant, with something of some rhum agricole, sugar cane, then Turkish delights and coconut liqueur. Quite some fudge as well, mead, old roses, peonies, tinned litchis… It’s a very pleasant, very expressive nose, not as overpowering as others and, well, kind of girly (don’t shoot!) Also bananas flambéed, cloves... Mouth: starts sweet and fruity but becomes extremely oaky and drying after just a few seconds, which not everybody will like in my opinion. Strong black tea, coffee beans, salmiak, cinnamon (bags and bags). Extreme oak. Finish: long and, good news, rather less drying, which is unusual with finishes. Bilberry jam. Comments: good but I think I liked the 1983/2001 and the 1984/2002 much, much better. There’s simply too much oak for this feeble taster. SGP:471 - 82 points.
Willett Willett 25 yo 1983 (47%, OB, Kentucky Rye, Family Estate, new white oak, cask #1372, 144 bottles) Three stars Colour: deep red amber. Nose: this is completely different from the Sazeracs, much less ‘obvious’ and sweet-smelling, more metallic, tertiary, sooty, curiously herbal (lovage leaves? Parsley?) and kind of vinous (old Port)… I also get blackberries, white chocolate, rhubarb pie, blood oranges, menthol, thuja wood… In short, this is complex and subtle! After a few minutes, the same notes of barbecue herbs as is the NAS Sazerac, plus touches of ‘good’ lavender. Great nose. Mouth: once again, it’s no sweet-then-drying oak bomb but some oak there is, right from the start. Heavy tannins, tarry tea, black pepper, cinnamon, hard liquorice, heavy unsweetened coffee, cartloads of blackcurrants, cinnamon… You got it, this baby’s almost oak infusion. Almost no sweetness, it takes no prisoners (and almost kills your tongue). Finish: long, dry and drying. Sucking on cinnamon sticks. Comments: great nose, drying/oaky palate, that’s a well-known song. I must say I’ve tried some stronger old Willetts that were better balanced – although the word ‘balance’ may be a tad inappropriate. Say less extreme. SGP:281 - 80 points.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
PJ
PJ

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a good slice of what some call 'loveboat sound' with Japan's Jun Fukamachi and his Bamboo Bong (that was 1975, baby). One of the greatest Japanese fusioneers. Please buy Jun Fukamachi's music...

Jun
 

April 24, 2012

Whiskyfun
An ode to Signatory's Glenlochies
A new Glenlochy is always good news, since it's one of the lesser-known closed distilleries. Kudos to Signatory for having issued a new 1980 and as usual, we'll compare it with other Glenlochies (sadly, there's less and less Glenlochy in WF's whisky library)…
Glenlochy Glenlochy 26 yo 1980/2006 (59.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #62.15) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: quite harsh, very spirity, kirschy, a tad aggressive despite the vanilla that starts to coat the whole after a few seconds.  It's also quite grassy and mineral, austere,  porridgy…  Not very easy, not very sexy, not very modern., although some nice whiffs of fern and fresh aromatic herbs start to appear after a good ten minutes (dill, coriander). With water: even more 'retro',  with whiffs of wet cloth, raw wool, spicy mushrooms (rodopaxillus nudus - whatever) and pine nuts. Mouth (neat): very old-skool, mossy and bitter, sharply lemony as well, very grassy, with also bags of juniper berries and strong liquorice. Amalt unlike any others, quite extreme in its very own style. I don't think any active distillery makes this kind today. With water: more moss, more gin, sugarcane, peppermint, soot, wax, motor oil… Really sappy and phenolic. Finish: long, resinous, phenolic, with more tar and a more obvious smokiness.  Maybe something a notch too chemical in the aftertaste (paint). Comments: it's a bit wobbly at times and can't make it to 90 in my book, but it's a very solid 89. An ode to the old days… SGP:373 - 89 points.
Glenlochy Glenlochy 31 yo 1980/2012 (53.1%, Signatory, hogshead, cask #3021, 164 bottles) Five stars So this is the new one, obviously… Colour: gold. Nose: ah yes yes yes!  Wonderful notes of fresh almonds, olive oil, high-end vanilla (not wood vanillin), nougat, marzipan, kumquats, figs, dried apricots… and all that is very elegant.  Vin jaune. With water: fab! A kind of very old, very noble, very precious herbal liqueur.. Maybe Black Balsam (do you know that?) More humus as well, just like in the SMWS. A movie-nose. Mouth (neat): perfect! Rich but nervous, with very obvious notes of mirabelle eau-de-vie, other plums, barley water, honeydew, mint, liquorice… Very perfect. With water: rather exceptional whisky indeed. Maybe not as 'wide' as expected but these notes of smoked almonds and mentholated grapefruits (I know, I know) are wonderful. Finish: long, rather more on the citrusy side. Green Chartreuse in the aftertaste, minus all that sugar. Comments: my kind. Hope they have one or two bottles left - for me! ;-). SGP:473 - 92 points.
Right, that one called for more Glenlochy by Signatory Vintage, so let's have an even older one if you don't mind…
Glenlochy Glenlochy 32 yo 1965/1997 (47.9% Signatory, Silent Stills, cask #1528, 210 bottles) Five starsColour: full gold. Nose: yippee! Another wonderful one, subtle, complex, rounded, well matured, with a smooth oakiness and many dried white fruits as well as something more tarry and phenolic than in more recent versions.  Tarmac, linseed oil, coal smoke, then cough lozenges, something even more medicinal (bandages), paint, soot, green bananas, mushrooms, fresh mint, moss… Frankly, the complexity is simply amazing.  With water: more smoke coming out - makes me think of a 1960s Ardbeg. Stunning! Mouth (neat): we're in the same league as with the 1980 by Sig., except that this is even more complex, sappier, smokier, grassier, more herbal, more citrusy… Everything is perfect here, absolutely everything. Stunning grassy profile for lovers of this style.  Greatly un-modern. With water: swims like a champ. Flabbergasting smoky/grassy/herbal profile. Finish: long and very tarry and herbal and smoky. Comments: the opposite of a modern sweetish aha-aha vanilla bomb. A true masterpiece - or a bmast from the past, as they say. SGP:374 - 93 points. (With thanks to Hans and Angus.)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: for a light, somewhat girly day, these people are the kings of French electro pop Air and they're doing their very easy song Sing sang sung. Light as a feather... Please buy Air's music, it may make you some good if you feel, well, heavy. Please buy Air's music.

Air
 

April 23, 2012

Whiskyfun

Tasting five 1983 Port Ellen. Maybe three.

As you know, 1983 was Port Ellen’s final year. Last months actually… Let’s have a few…

PE

Port Ellen 27 yo 1983/2010 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, sherry butt, 568 bottles) Four stars Colour: dark gold. Nose: different, very different. Starts with a lot of camphor and even a little incense before it becomes briny and tarry as it should be. Big smoke, new tyres, tar liqueur, samphire, salmiak and then whiffs of burnt herbs and chocolate. The sherry influence is there but it’s all very dry and ‘burnt’. In a good way. With water: burning hay and, sadly, something a little too vinegary/gamy, but I know some people love that. Also wet dogs (we’re deeply sorry, dogs.) Chocolate. Mouth (neat): all very good, I must say. The sherry is still rather minimal, the whole being very salty and briny, with a rather moderate smokiness. Actually, it’s not a very big one but I like the fact that it becomes quite chocolaty after a few seconds, which goes well with the tar. With water: rather rounded but all smoked fish are well there in the shadows. Finish: medium long, a tad drying now. A lot of cinnamon. Comments: I think this baby was about to become tired or too oaky but it’s still quite brilliant, even if in no way as brilliant as quite a lot of earlier PEs by DL in my opinion. SGP:366 - 87 points.

PE

Port Ellen 26 yo 1983/2009 (53.5%, Old Bothwell for Thosop bvba, Belgium, Cask #221) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is completely different from the DL. Pure, fresh walnuts and then more walnuts, together with a lot of linseed oil and ‘good’ rubber, akin to putty. It’s one of these marvellous very vegetal and leafy PEs. Then garden bonfire and notes of hessian. With water: fantastic. Chiselled, ultra-clean, with a lot of grapefruit coming out and always these perfect notes of fresh putty (perfect in this context). Almond oil, smoking narguileh. Mouth (neat): crystal clean sappy and salty PE, that’s all. Beautiful notes of herbal teas and liqueurs, the whole remaining very vegetal, in a great way. Also our beloved oysters, something mineral… With water: perfect. Salty, lemony, tarry, smoky, almondy. Finish: long, with more and more salt. It’s brine at cask strength. Comments: very high quality natural PE, old-skool, becoming complex and ‘compact’ at the same time. SGP:377 - 91 points.

PE

Port Ellen 26 yo 1983/2009 (53.5%, Silver Seal) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: same as cask #221. I mean, exactly the same. With water: ditto. Mouth (neat): same as cask #221. With water: ditto. Finish: ditto. Comments: same cask? Sister cask? Mimetism? Unconscious imitation? Protective mimicry? The wonders of industrialism? Extreme consistency? Cost sharing? Friendship? SGP:377 - 91 points.
PS: Yeah
I know, those notes were ridiculously short, apologies. So as the bottler is Italian, maybe I should give you the recipe of the Caprese salad Whiskyfun style: on a large platter, alternate and overlap tomato slices, mozzarella cheese slices and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and just a little Port Ellen, then season with sea salt and pepper. Bon appétit! ;-).

PE

Port Ellen 28 yo 1983/2011 (55.5%, Silver Seal and Whiskybase, cask #S1462, 60 bottles) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: ditto again. With water: maybe a little more camphor, maybe not. Mouth (neat): re-ditto. Maybe a little more lemon, maybe not. More similar than the Kessler sisters. With water: did I ever tell you the story of that chef that always cooks with whisky, and who sometimes even adds it to the food? Excuse me? This whisky? Ah, yes, same… Finish: very, very same-ish. Comments: I’m not 100% sure these are the same whiskies, nuances may come from more time in glass, or any other ‘external’ parameters. What’s sure is that these three bottlings are not dissimilar, despite different strengths, and great they are! Yep, being PC again. SGP:377 - 91 points.

Okay, let’s try to find a different 1983 PE… But it’ll be the very last one for today!

PE DL

Port Ellen 28 yo 1983/2011 (54.6%, Douglas Laing, Old & Rare, 227 bottles) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: it’s a full sherry cask this time! Bursts with gunpowder, cigars and struck matches, which only increases the tarry/smoky side of PE. Add to that quite some dark chocolate and leather and you get a rather extreme beast. Curious to check what water will do to this little monster… With water: softens it all, makes it more coastal, more complex and more delicate. In short, works. Oh, and tames the gunpowder. Mouth (neat): again, it’s heavy stuff. Mix straight smoke, a little raspberry jam, maybe blackcurrants, liquorice, liquid tar (or the liqueur made thereof), bitter oranges, chocolate, coffee-schnapps and strong black tea and you get, well, this. As I said, it’s quite heavy. With water: works again, maybe a notch less than with the nose. More pepper comes out, more ginger as well, plus that briny side. The peat remains big. Finish: long and very ashy. Smoke and orange-filled chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: I tend to like the straight ‘natural’ PEs a little better but this is spectacular indeed. High quality. SGP:567 - 90 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: my madeleine de Proust, Carlos Alberto Santana Barragán in the early 1970s. This is Song Of The Wind (from Caravanserai, 1972) and, well, it really moved us all when we were teenagers. Please buy Santana's works (esp from that period, eh...)

Santana
 

April 22, 2012

Whiskyfun

Rare Old Glories, two 1976 Millburn

Millburn, another name that’s becoming rarer and rarer. It seems that the old distillery became a rather crappy restaurant. Sad… Having said that, the whisky hasn’t always been utterly stellar in my opinion…

Millburn

Millburn 1976/2002 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice) Two starsColour: amber. Nose: old papers and dry caramel, then more dust and cardboard, with notes of Brie cheese in the background and then a distinct soapiness. Lavender, roses and butter, how unlikely is that? The good news is that it all becomes cleaner after just a few minutes, but it also gets fairly mundane. Brioche and toasts, with dust appearing intermittently. Rather uncommercial, I’d say. Mouth: those notes of cheese and beer again, paper, bread, stale herbal liqueur, coriander, some kind of strange herbal tea, fir liqueur, tonic water… Really, a strange one. Finish: rather short and very, very herbal. Comments: its main asset is that it’s so different from anything modern but frankly, it’s difficult whisky in my opinion. Of course you can always intellectualise anything and praise difference, but whichever the distillery’s history, this is fairly shaky. Almost as shaky as Macintosh’s dreadful new operating system (Lion), which says a lot. SGP:241 - 72 points.

Millburn

Millburn 25 yo 1976/2002 (58.9%, Douglas Laing, Platinum for The Whisky Shop, 276 bottles) The ultra-sherried Brora 1972 in the same series was something! Colour: gold. Nose: extraordinarily different. Litres of milk and cream at first nosing, with some thyme and rosemary, then capsicum and juniper. Extremely unlikely, and it would just go on until it’s almost become chartreuse. Not kidding, strange stuff. With water: cardboard and sour cream. Yikes! Mouth (neat): when I wrote chartreuse, I wasn’t kidding and this time, it just starts on these heavy herbal notes. Say a blend of absinth and chartreuse, all you need is a piece of sugar and some fresh water! Actually, you wouldn’t even need sugar, this is quite sugary already. Something chemical as well, plastic, paraffin, maybe ink… With water: a little nicer, bitter… Nah, it remains quite ‘chemical’. Finish: long, bitter, herbal and sour. Citrons in the aftertaste. Comments: politically, this is a problem. Between the ultra-boring botoxed (read oak-driven) ‘good’ modern whiskies and this hyper-unlikely old Millburn, what’s best? Frankly, I couldn’t tell you… I’m perplexed… SGP:271 - 65 points

All right, that was some session! But maybe we could try another Millburn and see if we manage to reach the high 70s or even 80s… Let’s choose a younger one, maybe that’ll work…

Millburn

Millburn 1981/2006 'Flying Dead Spirit' (46%, Gordon & MacPhail for Juuls, cask #4335, 803 bottles) Two stars Flying dead spirit? That sounds like a warning, doesn’t it… Colour: pale gold. Nose: well, it certainly is Millburn, but it’s rather cleaner than the older ones, more compact, with nice notes of bitter oranges that manage to tame the spirit’s wackiness. Quite some ginger too, kumquats, even passion fruits (hints)… It’s a miracle, a miracle! With water: nope, paper and plastic are back. Dead yeast. Mouth (neat): hmm… How should I put it?... The attack is just as papery and badly paraffiny as the others’ but once again, there’s something pleasant as well, which is the pretty citrusy profile. On the other hand, there are also dirty-ish notes of fish (bad sardines) and something like asparagus cooking water that just doesn’t work. But the notes of lemon and lime are quite nice… The chillies as well… Whatever, let’s add water. With water:  no no no! Everything’s on steroids now, the lemon (which is nice) and the papery/chemical notes (which is bad). Finish: the lemony notes tend to win, but that’s not enough to make for a happy ending. The aftertaste is much nicer, though, with bags of grapefruits. Comments: reaches our theoretical ‘average’ mark, thanks to the lemons – but what a nasty spirit Millburn could be! SGP:471 - 75 points.

Excuse me? We just can’t stop now? You say we should try to find a better one? Why not, but this will be the very last Millburn for today (this week, month, year…) Let’s see if Cadenhead could tame Millburn and to take no chances, let’s rather choose a very old …

Millburn

Millburn 22 yo 1969/1992 (51.7%, Cadenhead's, 150th Anniversary, Black Label, Tall Bottle) Five stars I tell you, if this doesn’t work, I give up! Colour: gold. Nose: harps please, this seems to be much, much, and I mean much nicer indeed. No plastic, no yeast, no yoghurty notes that I can smell, rather a compact and pretty mineral profile, ultra-zesty and zingy, with wheelbarrows of limes, lemons and limestone. Granted, there is something sour but we’re rather in wine territories, with some bone-dry riesling and chenin from Loire. In short, works so far. With water: ha-ha, yes it works. More Riesling, which, as an Alsatian, I cannot not applaud. Mouth (neat): yeeeeehaaaah! Excuse me, but once again, this is ultra-clean, superbly citrusy, candied, with truckloads of candied lemons and just a touch of candy sugar to make it smoother. Well, it’s not smooth at all but it’s no pure limejuice, thankfully. With water: more complexity, mint, bergamots, cough drops, lemongrass… Hurray! Finish: long, lemony, zesty, clean. No dirtiness whatsoever. Comments: you’re right, the big question is whether they were making better whiskies in the 1960s at Millburn or not. Well, I’m afraid I haven’t tried enough Millburns to give you an answer that would be statistically sound. Probably, I’d say… SGP:462 - 90 points.

I think we’ve made it. Dismiss!

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a very moving piece by vibraphonist Mike Mainieri and the stunning Israeli vocalist Noa who sings in Hebrew on Schecharchoret. Please buy Mike Mainieri and Noa's music.

Noa
 

April 20, 2012

Whiskyfun

Two Scapa

I like to ‘follow’ regular official releases and to try new batches every two or three years. Today it’ll be Scapa 16. For good measure, we’ll also have an indie after that…

Scapa

Scapa 16yo (40%, OB, +/- 2011) Two stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: as fresh and slightly waxy as usual. Imagine a combination of light honey, apple pie, beeswax and grass, then a little fresh mint, camphor and aniseed, with maybe touches of sea breeze. Very nice nose, very easy, but maybe the 40% will make the palate weakish. Let’s see… Mouth: the attack is satisfying, not really weak, rather spicy and with many dried fruits (pears, bananas) and honey plus marzipan, but it all crashes down after five seconds, the whole becoming pretty thinnish and tea-ish. A shame, I’m sure only 3 extra percents would have been enough to keep it alive for more than just a few seconds. Finish: short, slightly malty and caramelly. Werther’s Originals. Comments: the lack of power is a problem here, especially since the profile is so nice. Needs modernisation, if I may say so. SGP:331 - 79 points.

Scapa

Scapa 1991/2010 (56.9%, Mackillop's Choice, cask #1190) Two stars Colour: white wine. Nose: we’re much more on white and milk chocolates here, butterscotch, then apples… Tends to become spirity and aggressive, this baby calls for water. So, with water: everything porridgy comes out. That means porridge (well done, S.), damp oatcakes, raw barley, a little cardboard, then maybe a little apple juice and candy sugar (newly opened bag). Mouth: typical youngish malt at high strength. Or old malt from silent wood. Apples, pears, gooseberries and a few spices and oils flying around. Maybe a little honey. With water: pleasant, sweet, even sugary. A little liquorice, sultanas… Finish: medium long, even more sugary. Crunching sugar cubes. Almond oil in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s not bad, not at all, it’s just a little bland and indefinite. Some would say a little pointless as a single cask bottling. SGP:441 - 75 points.
 
SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))

Too much credit (I insist!)
Frankly, I think too many whisky lovers give this little taster and most others too much credit, otherwise they wouldn’t be so surprised when they find a particular whisky that they like much more, or much less than yours truly, and when they would score it with a much higher, or a much lower mark.

We might have different tastes, be put off or delighted by different flavours and aromas and may be blessed with very different odour or smell detection thresholds. Geranium, lavender, sulphur, caramel, cardboard, chemicals, cork, camphor… I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. For example, my low sensibility to cork (i.e. TCA, that does not only come from corks by the way) has always been a nightmare when I try wine. I find some lightly corked wines perfectly all right while friends won’t even manage to nose/swallow one single drop. On the other hand, I know I tend to find ‘soap’ when others won’t find any. In short, we’re different!

Unforgiven
That’s why I always insist (and I won’t stop!) on the fact that what I’m publishing should be seen as an indication of what you could try to taste as well, before buying a bottle, provided we share tastes that aren’t too dissimilar. Remember that what counts is your own tastes – but also that tastes may change with age, education and experience.
I’d add that the first and the last bottles from one single cask can be quite different, depending on what was bottled just before using the same equipment. The bottles may have been stored under very different conditions. Some whiskies may have been breathing for longer than others. We might use very different glassware and water. And some might have gotten bigger cheques from the distil… err, not.
Oh, and we’re no machines, tasters may sometimes simply fail. I know I certainly do more often than never.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the very great and very rare French drummer Jacques Thollot and his band play a pioneering Qu'ils se fassent un village, ou bien c'est nous qui s'en allons (from Quand le son devient aigu, jeter la girafe a la mer, 1971). Dada and sound collages! Please buy Jacques Thollot's music...

Thollot
 

April 19, 2012

Whiskyfun

Looking for the greatest Speyburn

Speyburn

Speyburn 13 yo 1971 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur's Choice, old brown label) Two stars and a half A more recent 1971 (old map label) was a tad difficult in my opinion (WF 78). Colour: full gold. Nose: yes, it’s not easy whisky. Dry, with quite some cardboard, a few roasted nuts, maybe rotting oranges, dead leaves and then something slightly chemical, between scouring powder and metal polish. Nothing too big, mind you, but it’s there… Mouth: it’s rather nicer now, malty, quite oily, spicy, with nice notes of bitter oranges and cake, but it tends to lose steam and to become a little cardboardy and tea-ish again, although the bitter oranges remain there, together with the cake. Yes, orange cake. Finish: not that short, very malty, with a slightly burnt aftertaste, maybe from a heavy dose of caramel. Comments: some parts are nice, some others less so. Not enough to warrant 80 in my book but it’s a fairly solid 79 this time. SGP:362 - 79 points.

Speyburn

Speyburn 25 yo ‘Solera’ (46%, OB, +/-2012) Three stars and a half Maybe you remember this baby won the Best Highland Malt Whisky award at the World Whisky Awards 2012, while the distillery’s in Speyside. Bah, isn’t Speyside in the Highlands – many important websites do not distinguish Speyside as a region – and do regions really mean something anyway as far as whisky’s concerned? Anyway, I think I had scored it 84 (blind at the time – I was a judge at the WWA) and had scored an earlier version 82 back in 2008. Time to come up with a ‘definitive’ (so to speak) score and notes for this newer batch now… Colour: straw. Nose: seems to be younger than 25 at first nosing, and immediately quite grassy and leafy. Fresh walnuts, grass, fresh oak… It’s also rather sooty and kind of smoky, reminding me of these green cigars that they make in Asia. I think it’s rather fino-ish, Tio-Pepe-style, with even a little mint. The whole is quite austere. Mouth: more oomph, more sweetness, more citrus fruits. Once again it’s rather younger although the oak’s quite discernible. Quite some custard as well, ‘pencil shavings’, then grass again, green tea, mint, lemon grass… It’s really good despite an oak that’s maybe not totally integrated. Finish: rather long, now more on apples and oak spices, especially ginger. Comments: it’s quite unusual, with some fresh oak playing the leading role. Well crafted for sure – no need to change my score. SGP:451 - 84 points.

Maybe we could try to find an even better one… Let’s rummage around among our whiskies… Yup found one that could/should be interesting:

Speyburn

Speyburn-Glenlivet 21 yo 1975/1997 (60.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Five stars Colour: full gold. Nose: aaaaaah YESSS! Sure it’s very strong and aggressive at 60%, but anybody could feel that what’s happening beyond the high-octane burst is great. What I get is a lot of chocolate but we also know that strong alcohol can create this feeling of heavy chocolate that can quickly vanish with water. Let’s see. With water: it got very grassy but grass can be great. Superb notes of earthy tea pu-erh style, eucalyptus, humus and that famous ‘walk in the forest just after a heavy summer rain.’ Excuse me. Mouth (need): superb attack, on all tart fruits and all herbs. But it’s also very strong, so, with water: perfect! Lemon pie with mint and ginger. It was a great cask! Finish: the distillate’s slightly ‘chemical’ profile comes out a little more but it’s so discreet that it’s almost an asset – although the whole may lose one or two points here. Comments: the wizards at Cadenhead’s have pulled out all the stops again. I think they often excel at bringing out very good to great versions of otherwise rather mundane names. SGP:461 - 90 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: something soothing - I guess you could call that crystalline - by Marilyn Mazur. It's called Your Eyes, with Josefine Cronholm on vocals (from Mazur's album Celestial Circle). Please buy Marylin Mazur's music.

Marilyn Mazur
 

April 18, 2012

Whiskyfun

Tasting a few vatt… I mean, blended malts from various eras

Hive

The Hive 8 yo (40%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, +/-2012) Three stars and a half There used to be a pretty excellent 12 yo ‘Hive’ by Wemyss (WF 82) and here’s an 8. It’s been composed by our compadre Charlie Maclean – now also a movie star since he’s been hired by Ken Loach for his latest film The Angel’s Share. Colour: full gold. Nose: a powerful nose at just 40% vol. and although this is supposed to be a vatted Speysider, I get some Highlands character, with a grassy and pretty mineral nuttiness if you see what I mean. Some lamp oil, sherry (fino, or even vin jaune), a little hay and then rather honeydew than straight honey. Also a little gingerbread. Very nice. Mouth: once again, there’s some character and this baby isn’t blendish (I mean too indistinct). We’re going more towards Highland Park than, say Macallan and the honeyness is extremely pleasant. Also quite some fudge and even touches of smoke and white pepper. Frankly, the body’s impressive at 40% vol. Finish: rather long, a tad more caramely. Comments: the exact definition of a daily dram in my book. Charlie deserves an Oscar or a Palme d’Or in Cannes! SGP:542 - 84 points.

Wild

Wild Scotsman Black Label (47%, Jeff Topping, Batch #CBVO, +/- 2011) Four stars A vatting of four casks from the Lowlands, Highlands, Speyside, and Islay. Colour: straw. Nose: starts rather coastal, with whiffs of sea water, rocks, seaweed, then touches of apple skin, walnuts and apple compote. A little mint arises after a moment, together with wet cloth, liquorice and gingerbread. I cannot not think of a lighter Talisker. Also a little lemon, very nice. Some Bladnoch in there? Mouth: as always, the peated components tend to tower above the others, especially in the attack, and that’s nice. I get the same feeling of ‘Talisker’ as with the nose, a little salt and brine, lemon and then a very nice earthiness. Roots, gentian… Frankly, I like this a lot. Finish: rather long, fresh, earthy, with a peay/salty aftertaste. Comments: extremely well composed – provided the aim was to come up with a very peaty blended malt. Why would we complain? SGP:355 - 86 points.

After the great newish blended malts, let’s have a few older ones if you please…

Bells

Bell's 10 yo ‘Pure Malt’ (40%, OB, Italy, 1970s) Four stars A pear shaped bottle akin to these lovely and insanely good (and expensive) old official Bowmores. The label states that it’s a ‘blend with the finest Glenlivet whiskies’. Colour: full gold. Nose: some OBE in action here as the first aromas that reach our nostrils include some metal (old tin box) and old books. After that, there’s some very earthy (can you say humusy?) touches, moss, fern, damp earth, clay… Hard to say if all this was already there when this baby was bottled. Probably not… Mouth: hurray! Again, some OBE in action but the end result is quite spectacular, mentholated, camphory and finely spicy. Old-style cough syrup, honeydew, old sweet wine that went dry, Madeira, bitter oranges, something mushroomy… You have to like that and I do. Impressive mouth feel, thick and oily, the whole being anything but stale or cardboardy. Finish: long, more on mint and liquorice. Smoky aftertaste. Comments: I think it’s a fine example of these old whiskies that we should buy at auctions, rather than all these expensive single malts. They’re usually cheap! SGP:362 - 87 points.

Dalvegan

Dalvegan 10 yo (43%, James Martin & Co., Italy, early 1980s) Two stars Most probably a vatted malt and not a single Highlander. Colour: gold. Nose: a bit flat at first nosing but then very malty, with some cara         mel and toasted oak (and bread) plus a few grassy notes flying around as well as a little metal again. We’re far from the Bell’s bouquet but who knows, maybe the palate will be much bigger? You never know with these old bottles…  Mouth: yeah well, it’s not as tired as I had feared, it’s even quite big and kind of Chivas-y, in a good way. In fact, it’s extremely malty again, with then touches of strawberry sweets and something that’s mushroomy again, but not in such a good way. Slightly musty. Also something slightly chemical in the background but that may come from bottle ageing. Ink? Finish: medium long, drier, a little burnt, with a bitterish aftertaste. Comments: these old bottles can be hit or miss. This one is probably somewhere between both worlds. SGP:262 - 74 points.

Highland

Highland Fusilier 12 yo (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, all malt, +/-1978) Three stars The old 21yos or even 25yos are well known within chatting whisky circles but the 12 hasn’t got such a huge reputation. Well, it’s relatively unknown… Let’s try it! Colour: caramel gold (you know, with those orangey ‘Fanta’ hues). Nose: it’s very smoky, much smokier than the 21yos I could try. Burnt wood, charcoal, lit cigar and leather, with something of Lagavulin 16 (I said something ;-)). Also ashes, soot, then touches of oregano and other herbs, maybe thyme… There’s little fruitiness this time. Mouth: again, it’s rather peaty, smoky and peppery. It’s a big dram! Goes on with a feeling of stout or straight Guinness, malt extract, even Marmite (well, I think, I’ve got little experience with British cooking)… More bitter herbs… Finish: quite long and always with this Lagavulinesque smoky touch. Comments: curiously unsexy and austere for a blend – even a blended malt, but very interesting. SGP:265 - 82 points.

CS

C&S 12 yo 1994/2007 ‘Dram Good’ (46.5%, C&S, sherry butt)Three stars It’s technically a vatted malt but it seems that it’s rather a teaspooned Burnside, while the name Burnside may hint at Balvenie. But let’s not lose ourselves in conjectures about all that, let’s rather taste this baby. Colour: gold. Nose: powerful and starting all on ripe and less ripe plums, greengages, mirabelles and all that, which may confirm our suspicions. Nice notes of peaches as well and just a little vanilla. Mouth: sweet and fruity, very creamy, with just touches of rubber on top of the expected plums and other garden fruits. Finish: medium long, very fruity. Comments: a good almost-single one, all on those fruits. Pleasantly simple and very sippable. SGP:541 - 81 points.

DT

Seventieth Anniversary Malt 1967/2008 (46,3%, Duncan Taylor, 375 bottles) Four stars This forty-year baby was said to be a vatting of 1967 Glenfarclas and Highland Park. Can we be against that kind of recipe? Colour: pale gold. Nose: very little sherry if any, so it’s not very Glenfarclassy and it’s rather HP that does the talking here. That translates into a fairly grassy and flinty nose, with a bit of honey but not too much and then some linseed oil, graphite (or rather pencil lead) and leaves. Maybe also a little green pepper and blackcurrant buds. I know, I know, this is no cabernet. A rather discreet nose. Mouth: in keeping with the nose, rather fresh, mineral and oily, quite almondy in fact. Putty, more oil (grape seed oil) and then a little lemon marmalade. It’s an elegant and discreet malt, becoming quite zesty over time. Finish: rather long, the lemon now playing the first parts. Clean aftertaste, maybe a little more on apples. Comments: interesting that the excellent people at DT would compose this fairly austere and rather old-style dram for their Anniversary. A kind of statement? SGP:461 - 87 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the very legendary Art Tatum and Ben Webster play the very beautiful standard My One and Only Love around 1953. Recorded velvet... Please buy Art Tatum and Ben Webster's music.

Webster
 

April 17, 2012

Whiskyfun
Tasting two new peated Benriach
Birnie Benriach 'Birnie Moss' (48%, OB, +/-2012) Two stars and a half Birnie Moss has just been repackaged and kind of realigned with the regular range. I wasn’t a fan of the first Bernie Moss back in 2008 and thought it was too young (WF 77). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: very, very, and I mean very newmaky. Smoked pear juice plus something tequila-ish (White tequila of course) over boiled cereals and mashed potatoe. Frankly, it’s a nice nose but I think we’re closer to unaged spirits here. Peated white dog? Mouth: same. New make, farmy elements, peated beer, barley… Really close to what they make you drink when visiting a distillery on Islay. You know what I mean. Yup, new make. Finish: medium long, ashy and smoky. The ashtray syndrome. Comments: I guess this is to sipped over quite ice, or maybe you can use it for smoky cocktails. Maybe a kind of peated mojito? Quality’s there, no doubt, but it’s not quite mature whisky in my book. Maybe it’s a little peatier than earlier batches. SGP:437 - 78 points.
Berniach 25 Benriach 25 yo 'Authenticus' (46%, OB, +/-2012) Four stars Authenticus, made with old peated stock from the previous owners, used to be a 21yo, it's now a 25. Time flies… Colour: full gold. Nose: now we’re talking. I get a lot of marzipan and many fresh nuts, some charcoal (working barbecue), wood smoke and in the background, quince jelly and vanilla crème plus a little aniseed and dill. Green bananas. Mouth: creamy start, then a very unusual development, very leathery and spicy. Something Indian, so to speak. Cardamom, pepper, green curry, aniseed… The aniseeds keep getting bigger in fact, the whole reminding me more and more of some sweets that we call Anis de Flavigny here in France. Do you know that? Other than that, there’s a rather acrid kind of smokiness as well as quite some tobacco and something more and more leathery. Finish: long and very spicy. Heavily peppered mango chutney. Comments: what’s striking with this baby is how far from Islay you can go when making some peated malt whisky. It’s all very unusual, with this spicy and rather oriental acridness. I really like it, partly because it does not try to mimic the Islayers, but please be aware of the fact that it’s probably an acquired taste, as they say. SGP:447 - 87 points.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
PJ
PJ

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a true gem, a studio recording by famous percussionist Ray Barretto that remainded unreleased for a long time. It's called Jazz Guajira and I guess there are many members of the Fania All Stars blowing and hitting on this. Please buy Ray Barretto's music!

Barretto
 

April 16, 2012

Whiskyfun
And yet another Bowmore tasting
Bowmore Bowmore 14 yo 1997/2012 (53.6%, Glen Fahrn Germany, cask #800208, 101 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: ultra-clean, ultra-pure, crystalline, very coastal, mineral, with touches of eucalyptus, roots, pepper and lemon. Maybe a little butter crème, suggesting a bourbon hogshead. With water: became a tad more citrusy. Little farmy developments this time. Mouth (neat): oily, sweet, earthy, lemony, salty peat. Textbook youngish Bowmore. Nice touches of cardamom and even a little juniper berries. With water: it’s the briny side that grows bigger. More anchovies ;-). In the background, also more grapefruits and tangerines. Finish: long, ultra-clean, zesty, salty. Comments: these youngish Bowmores are hard to beat. Almost always sure bets – and the Germans sure know how to select casks. SGP:456 - 89 points. PS: I think the way most German bottlers are inspired by Moon Import’s old series with their labels these days is quite funny. Cars, mushrooms, planes, seashells, costumes, crocodiles, ducks… Can we have sewing machines next time? Or, ach, maybe even something related to whisky or Scotland? Nah, agreed, that would be boring…
Bowmore Bowmore 13 yo 1996/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #6464, 360 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: a rather fragrant young Bowmore, with more heather honey and grenadine syrup than usual at first nosing, before it gets more ‘usual’ indeed, with quite some dry smoke, sea water and hints of white rhum agricole. Mouth: an rather tangeriny start, sweet and pleasantly tart/citric, before it becomes saltier and brinier, with a peatiness that’s rather more peppery than usual. Quite some nutmeg. Finish: rather long, with more spices (cardamom spring to mind) and quite some marzipan. Salty aftertaste, with good support from the tangerines, but the after-aftertaste is very dry, chalky and ashy. Comments: it’s not a usual young Bowmore, it seems that the cask was quite active. Very nice spices and sweetness. SGP:555 - 86 points.
Bowmore BBR Bowmore 17 yo 1994/2011 (54.2%, Berry Bros & Rudd for Whisky-E Japan, retro label, cask #1714) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: pure crystalline smoke, soot, old coal oven and… more of all that, before the expected coastal notes burst through, with tons of oysters and kippers. Indeed, maybe also whelks ;-). Lemon and brine in the background. With water: almond oil, anchovies and samphires. Perfect. Mouth (neat): just perfect again. Incredibly full, smoky, salty, lemony. Creamy mouth feel. Perfection in all simplicity. With water: indeed. Touches of melons and apricots in the background now, maybe blood oranges. Finish: medium long, with more pepper. Not excessively salty. Comments: as I wrote, this is perfect. I would have gone to 91, had water brought more complexity. But can perfection be complex as well? (Wouldn’t you stop it, Serge?) SGP:556 - 90 points.
Bowmore Sestante Bowmore 16 yo 1973 (62.8%, Sestante, +/-1989) Five stars This baby should be quite bestial, with its brute strength… Colour: gold. Nose: yeedla-yodla-yeeeh… This is almost un-noseable, even when you try to use the well-know ‘short-wee-sniffs’ tactics. It would just climb up your nostrils, annihilate your olfactory bulb and then assault your brain. Well, I do get a little brine in fact… And tankers of nail polish remover. Ah well… With water (after having waited for fifteen minutes, because adding a good third of water to a whisky shakes the molecules too much): fantastic! Touches of tropical fruits ‘from the 1960s’ and an astounding combination of pine cone smoke, oysters, camphor and hessian. Stunning. Mouth (neat): sipping this might be the equivalent of doing some bungee jumping in Northern Afghanistan. Risky. I seem to get some salty grapefruit though, but frankly, it’s too strong. With water: perfection made whisky. It’s not complex, nor is it wide, but this ‘narrowness’ is an asset in this context. Passion fruits chutney on Asian-style smoked oysters, with just a little olive oil. Yay! Finish: very long, smokier, ashier, sootier. Grapefruits and fresh coriander in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s not a whisky, it’s a story. We need more of all that in modern malt whiskies (I’m not talking about silly storytelling stunts, eh – I mean fake, made-up storytelling.) SGP:567 - 93 points.
And now, two new Bowmores from Jack Wiebers’ funny ‘Wanted’ series. Remember the Dead Mouse Eater? Yup that was me… But no ideas as for who are these ones. Probably some cool Germans!...
Bowmore Bowmore 1999/2012 (48.4%, Jack Wiebers, Wanted, The Question Mark Man, refile sherry cask, 180 bottles) Four stars and a half That's right, refile with an e. Maybe we could call the good people at JWWW ‘The Refile Men’ from now on ;-). Colour: gold. Nose: a rather hot, slightly burnt/toasted nose, with some gunpowder as well beside the usual briny and smoky profile. The smokiness grows bigger over time. Burning grass and pine cones, gets grassier and grassier. Mouth: really punchy and salty, very ‘Bowmore’. Oysters, chillies, green olives and Jaegermeister, then more and more liquorice. Make that salmiak (very salty liquorice). Very pleasant bitterness if you like that style as much as I do. Finish: long, with even more salmiak. Comments: I think the refile sherry – a first, really – worked very well ;-). Big youngish Bowmore. Some say Bowmore is lightly peated; well, that’s less and less true. SGP:357 - 88 points.
Bowmore Bowmore 1995/2011 (53.7%, Jack Wiebers, Wanted, The Loving Brothers, sherry cask, 300 bottles) Three stars Colour: light amber. Nose: classic lightly sherried Bowmore, a bit fino-style, which means rather on fresh walnuts and a little mustard. Some orange liqueur as well, zests, then more farmy touches. Farmyard, hay, tobacco, hops… With water: leather, soot and chalk come out, together with hints of used matches. Mouth (neat): sweeter, powerful and a tad unusual. Some bitterness fights a creamy/jammy sweetness (marmalade) while some heavy spices are roaring in the background, including mustardy notes just like in the 1999. Some heavy liquorice as well, a lot of cardamom, pepper… In fact, it’s got something of some blackcurrant-flavoured mustard like they make in Burgundy, the whole being quite heavy. With water: a very grassy/walnutty sherry comes more to the front. A little whacky, I’d say. Finish: long, more on liquorice wood. Comments: it’s not without reminding me of the official cask strength version from a while ago. You have to be a fan of this style, which I find a notch unlikely. What’s sure is that the 1999 was much more to my liking. SGP:476 - 80 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: this is shameless, hence so good. Dylan's Lay Lady Lay by Buddy Guy and Anthony Hamilton (from Buddy Guy's Bring 'Em In CD). Yeah well... Please buy their music.

Buddy Guy

April 2012 - part 1 <--- April 2012 - part 2 ---> May 2012 - part 1


C
heck the index of all entries:
Whisky
Music
Nick's Concert Reviews

 

 

Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphabetical:

Bowmore 17 yo 1994/2011 (54.2%, Berry Bros & Rudd for Whisky-E Japan, retro label, cask #1714)

Bowmore 16 yo 1973 (62.8%, Sestante, +/-1989)

Glen Cawdor 32 yo 1951 (46%, Samaroli, 120 bottles, +/-1983)

Glenlochy 32 yo 1965/1997 (47.9% Signatory, Silent Stills, cask #1528, 210 bottles)

Glenlochy 31 yo 1980/2012 (53.1%, Signatory, hogshead, cask #3021, 164 bottles)

Millburn 22 yo 1969/1992 (51.7%, Cadenhead's, 150th Anniversary, Black Label, Tall Bottle)

Port Ellen 28 yo 1983/2011 (54.6%, Douglas Laing, Old & Rare, 227 bottles)

Port Ellen 28 yo 1983/2011 (55.5%, Silver Seal and Whiskybase, cask #S1462, 60 bottles)

Port Ellen 26 yo 1983/2009 (53.5%, Silver Seal)

Port Ellen 26 yo 1983/2009 (53.5%, Old Bothwell for Thosop bvba, Belgium, Cask #221)

Speyburn-Glenlivet 21 yo 1975/1997 (60.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)