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Hi, you're in the Archives, April 2013 - Part 2
       

April 2013 - part 1 <--- April 2013 - part 2 ---> May 2013 - part 1

 

April 30, 2013


Whiskyfun

Tasting three summery indie Auchentoshan

Blow, trumpets, Cadenhead have issued some new ‘black dumpies’ (while the current ‘Duthies’ range will be phased out). Mark Watt is at the helm of the brand new ‘black’ range, which just cannot be bad news in my opinion. As with the old ones, there will be both bottlings at 46% and cask strength versions. Let’s have their new Auchentoshan today, other bottlings will be tasted later.

Auchentoshan 14 yo 1999/2013 (46%, Cadenhead, black dumpy, bourbon hogshead, 672 bottles)

Auchentoshan 14 yo 1999/2013 (46%, Cadenhead, black dumpy, bourbon hogshead, 672 bottles) Three stars Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a fresh, slightly aspiriny Auchentoshan at first nosing, while more fresh fruits start to come out after just two or three seconds, such as limes and touches of pineapples. Also notes of jellybeans and a little bubblegum so it’s all typically uncomplicated. Blackcurrant Jell-O. Auchentoshan au very naturel, I’d say. Mouth: much in keeping with the nose, very easy, fruity, fresh, a notch bubblegumy again, with some fresh walnuts and then a little more grass and maybe fresh mint leaves. Finish: medium length, a little grassier. Grapefruit skin and a little pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: I believe we chose the simplest and easiest within this new range. Really does the job and I think it’ll take ice well in July or August. We’ll have some bigger new ‘black dumpies’ next time. SGP:531 - 82 points.

Auchentoshan 1998/2013 'Candied Fruits' (46%, Wemyss Malts, barel, 294 bottles)

Auchentoshan 1998/2013 'Candied Fruits' (46%, Wemyss Malts, barel, 294 bottles) Three stars and a half Last year’s ‘Lemon sherbet’ (pictured, same label) was excellent. Colour: straw. Nose: how very similar! Maybe an added fizziness and perhaps more grapefruits, gooseberries… But other than that, we have the same notes of fruit jellies as well as this faint aspiriny/mineral profile. Very easy so far and appropriately summery (what a joke, we have 10°C at time of writing!) Mouth: a slightly fatter version again, with an oak that’s more in the front and more barley sugar. Some whiter pepper, then oranges and apples. Finish: medium length, more peppery. Lemon zests and a wee green tannicity. Comments: very good again, it’s simply a slightly thicker and grassier young Auchentoshan. This one too will be much needed in summer – if summer ever arrives. SGP:551 - 83 points.

Auchentoshan 1991/2013 (52.3%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #MoS 13016, 165 bottles)

Auchentoshan 1991/2013 (52.3%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #MoS 13016, 165 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: a very different style this time, at least without water. Less fruity notes and more grass, skins and branches, with even quite some olive oil, before it gets more citrusy but never loses this pleasant grassiness. Some superb touches of fresh pinewood as well, sap… With water: wonderful. Pine needles, lemon cake, sweet barley and Turkish delights… Mouth (neat): ha! A lot happening in this one, with many oranges and many aromatic herbs plus many tinned fruits, esp. litchis. Blood oranges, cranberries, a little green cardamom, almost as much jellybeans Jell’Os as in the Cadenhead and a wee feeling of good sauvignon blanc. Again, lost happening. With water: perfect, fresh, fruity and slightly caky. Finish: maybe a notch less entrancing at this point, there’s just a little too much oak wrt the profile. Perhaps… Splitting hairs again. Comments: swims like a champ. As good as a middle-aged Auchentoshan can get. SGP:551 - 87 points.

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

 

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April 29, 2013


Whiskyfun

Open tasting, quite a bunch of Glengoyne

I had found the new official Glengoyne Cask Strength pretty impressive but I have yet to try the newish ‘lighter’ ofiicials, let’s do that today. Oh, and we’ll skip the 10 if you don’t mind…

Glengoyne 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2012)

Glengoyne 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2012) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: malty and fresh at first nosing, with a little fudge and caramel as well as ‘a Mars bar’. Doesn’t change much after that but it’s all pleasant and kind of undemanding. Yet after fifteen minutes, more fresh oak starts to come through (vanilla and coconut) together with some orange, possibly from sherry here. Mouth: extremely malty and caramelly, all on tarte tatin, various cakes, toffee, butterscotch… In a way, it’s rather old-style. Good body. Finish: quite long, with more pepper on toasted brioche and always a very noticeable maltiness. Some liquorice and a lot of caramel in the aftertaste. Comments: I don’t think it’s very different from the older 12. That’s good news, I always enjoyed the 12. Ultra-classic. SGP:441 - 84 points.

Glengoyne 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2013)

Glengoyne 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2013) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: much, much, and I mean much more happening in this one. Much more complex, with some earth and roots, lemon oil, then fresh mint, mushrooms, moss… I think this is very lovely, especially the freshness is impressive. Behind all that, more classic malt and chocolate as well as roasted nuts and many dried fruits. Mouth: excellent, rich, spicier than the 12 and rather dry. Bags of cinnamon and touches of nutmeg and caraway seeds, fine leathery notes, walnuts and touches of bitter oranges. Big bodied at just 43% vol., how do they do that? Finish: quite long, with the earthiness that we already found in the nose showing up again. Chocolate and tangerine jam. There’s quite some oak but it’s all under control and never drying. Comments: pretty impressive, this baby would make for a perfect everyday dram. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Glengoyne 18 yo (43%, OB, +/-2013)

Glengoyne 18 yo (43%, OB, +/-2013) Three stars and a half Colour: full gold. Nose: less talkative than the 15, kind of shy for a while and curiously grassier and leafier. Quite some tea, banana skin, orange cake and lastly, apple peels. So yes, it’s very nice but I liked the nose of the 15 better (just like with the Glendronach 15 and 18).  Mouth: yes, I definitely mile the 15 better, although both are closer together on your palate. This time we have rather more pepper and other dry and even drying spices (big nutmeg, even bigger cinnamon), then quite some cocoa powder and a leafiness that may be a notch dissonant in this context. More and more pepper. Finish: very long (really, how do they do that?) and pretty tannic and dry. The aftertaste is very peppery again. Comments: as I said, the 15 anytime, and I’m even wondering whether I don’t even like the very nice 12 a little better. Nah, let’s not exaggerate. SGP:461 - 84 points.

Oh, this is a good occasion to have some more official Glengoyne… Let’s see what we have…

Glengoyne 19 yo 1990/2010 (59.6%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #2848, 201 bottles)

Glengoyne 19 yo 1990/2010 (59.6%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #2848, 201 bottles) Four stars and a half From a bourbon hogshead. I should have tried this before. Colour: gold. Nose: oh yes, this is one of these wonderful natural Glengoynes, totally untainted with sherry, exploding with fresh almonds, orgeat, macadamia nuts, then vanilla and maple syrup, touches of cellulosic varnish and then tons and tons of white chocolate. With water: and now quinces and artisan marzipan (I wrote artisan because you also have junk marzipan loaded with bad sugars and oils in supermarkets or else – buy less, buy better). Mouth (neat): punchy and totally au naturel, with oranges and fresh almonds, then gooseberries and plum spirit (tankerloads). Also touches of olive and sunflower oil, vanilla, more sweet barley and then overripe apples and maybe greengages. Full bodied and yet elegant and ‘greatly sharp’. With water: barley syrup, in a way. Only the spicy oak became sharper, loses one or two points here. Finish: long and, sadly, a notch too oaky and dry now. A crying shame because I was thinking this baby was worth more than 90 in my book. Comments: forget about the finish and it’s a good 91, but taking the slightly oaky-ish finish into account, we’ll go for only… SGP:461 - 89 points.

Glengoyne 24 yo 1987/2011 (54.8%, OB, European oak sherry, cask #354, 515 bottles)

Glengoyne 24 yo 1987/2011 (54.8%, OB, European oak sherry, cask #354, 515 bottles) Five stars Colour: plain coffee. Nose: the opposite of the 1990 as far as styles are concerned, yet the overall quality is similarly high. Amazing chocolaty nose, developing toward rich old balsamic vinegar and Chinese fermented prune sauce (the one they use on Peking duck). And, of course, fruitcake. A pretty fabulous, ultra-tertiary sherry monster. With water: s.u.p.e.r.b., you could think this baby spent forty years in glass to gain refinement and complexity. So tobacco, old toolbox, old turpentine, shoe polish (not obligatorily old), motor oil, ancient crème de menthe… And all that jazz. Mouth (neat): immense sherry, wonderful, bursting with menthol and herbs plus prunes and prunes and prunes. Spectacular. Also notes of very old Armagnac, cherry liqueurs, peppermint. Yeah. With water: perfect, with more fruits – rather Seville oranges, as usual with this kind of profile. Juicy golden raisins, black pepper, cloves. Finish: very long and mentholated. Even more so in the aftertaste. Comments: this could well have come from a genuine old oloroso-soaked solera butt. Yes, or the cask had been very smartly prepared/ treated/ seasoned. SGP:562 - 91 points.

Hmm, this one called for more. Hey, how about an old indie for a change?

Glengoyne 26 yo 1969/1996 (63%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, gold seal)

Glengoyne 26 yo 1969/1996 (63%, Cadenhead's Authentic Collection, gold seal) Four stars and a half We already had a 27yo 1969 by Cadenhead (pictured) but that one was bottled at a measly 62.8% vol. J. This is another one, the round ‘gold seal’ was stuck onto the cap. Colour: amber. Nose: a little difficult because of the high power, but one can feel that we’re more or less between both worlds, with some varnish and chocolate from the wood as well as fresh fruits and nuts. Water is obligatory. With water: perfect fruity profile, with apples, greengages, gooseberries and just a little mint and olive oil. Mouth (neat): pah pah pah pah… This is strong! Heavy citrus and a good spoonful of icing sugar, that’s the high alcohol. With water: a dryness (cinnamon) but other than that, it’s the same kind of oily fruitiness again, with apples, sunflower oil, white chocolate and then, maybe a little too much cedar wood and white pepper. Finish: long, rather drying. Cinnamon and tea tannins. Comments: once again, the finish was a notch too drying and oaky but other than that, it was a perfect Glengoyne. Maybe third fill sherry? SGP:451 - 88 points.

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

 

 

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April 26, 2013


Whiskyfun

A walk on the wild side, tasting Springbank old and new (and now, off to Limburg)

Why not do an ‘open’ tasting of Springbank today? It’s going to be a very mixed bag, with some old and some recent bottlings. And first, something unusual, two old undisclosed ones. BTW, sory about the stupid headlines again and again.

Glens Extra 8 yo (40%, Robert Watson, Pure West Highland Malt, golden screw cap, 1960s)

Glens Extra 8 yo (40%, Robert Watson, Pure West Highland Malt, golden screw cap, 1960s) Three stars and a half This single malt was bottled by Robert Watson in Aberdeen. It was pure Springbank. There used to be other versions, we’ll have them later – while we already had one some years back (the 12yo). Colour: white wine. Nose: lovely old style with little oak influence if any, full of soot and smoke, then gravel, beach sand, saltpetre and coal. The only other whiskies I know of that are somewhat similar are other fully naked old Springbanks and Old Clynelish. Goes on with almond oil, linseed oil, pencil lead, ink… Mouth: very dry, very sooty again, almondy, phenolic, oily and mineral. Totally unsexy yet so beautiful, what’s more a shame is the fact that it’s soon to become a little weak and watery. Mind you, it’s probably spent 50 years in glass. Finish: short and maybe a tad soapy now. Comments: a forgotten style. Not as spectacular as it probably was twenty or thirty years ago, but excellent for… studies? And what a nose! SGP:245 - 84 points.

Dunaverty 12 yo (43%, OB, Eaglesome Ltd, 100% Pure Malt, +/-1975)

Dunaverty 12 yo (43%, OB, Eaglesome Ltd, 100% Pure Malt, +/-1975) Five stars Another single Springbank under another name. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a more civilised version of the Glens Extra. Well, relatively more civilised. Same notes of coal, ashes and oils but then we have the same kind of tropical fruits as in the old Laphroaig 10 (Bonfanti and such), first passion fruits, then mangos and grapefruits. Much less almonds than in the Glens Extra. The whole is very impressive and shows us what a fabulous spirit can become without much wood. An ode to true maturation, including in glass (vs. flavouring). Mouth: pure grapefruit liqueur, with a distinct and distinctive peat behind it and some kind of multi-vitamin juice. You should be getting this on the NHS or paid for by Medicaid. Perfect body. Finish: of medium length but always on these magnificent notes of smoky grapefruits and other tropical fruits. Comments: only a half-surprise. I say no more. SGP:544 - 91 points.

Good, I think we just had a nice aperitif. Let’s go on with some ‘disclosed’ stuff, and why not try to go ‘vertical’?

Springbank 14 yo 1998/2013 'Burns Malt' (54.3%, The Whisky Barrel, cask #448)

Springbank 14 yo 1998/2013 'Burns Malt' (54.3%, The Whisky Barrel, cask #448) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: we are extremely close to the latest young officials, with a very phenolic, mineral, oily, peaty and briny profile that gets then closer and closer to peated malted barley and fresh bread and lastly, to grapefruits and citrons, which gives it a likeness to the very impressive Dunaverty. Oops, forgot to mention motor oil. Pure Springbank. With water:  becomes wild, organic, farmy and seaweedy. Also more fresh almonds and fresh butter. Mouth (neat): a full-blown classic modern Springbank again, with some creamy grapefruit liqueur and many oils plus always this minerality. The smoke’s a little lighter than in the nose. Some icing sugar playing with your lips. With water: salt and grapefruit and cane sugar and kippers and butterscotch and liquid smoke. Finish: long, salty, with more bitter oranges as well as a little honey. Can you smoke honey? Comments: again, textbook untamed Springbank. There might well be a little sherry but it’s kept at bay. Refill wood? SGP:363 - 88 points.

Springbank 17 yo 1995/2012 (46%, The Maltman, sherry, cask #68, 338 bottles)

Springbank 17 yo 1995/2012 (46%, The Maltman, sherry, cask #68, 338 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: starts on rhum agricole, goes on with more coal smoke mingled with some kind of dry sherry, and develops more on overripe apples, ink, touches of plastic (new car, not unusual with Springbank in my experience) and brine. It’s got a faint dusty and dirty side that’s not unpleasant at all – not that it’s perverted, eh! Mouth: typical, big and rather thick yet nervous and ‘quick’, with a wee metallic touch followed by citrons, some kind of polish, kippers, some walnut skin (from the sherry?) and then more salt and brine. I enjoy this a lot and what’s more, it’s balanced and it was bottled at a perfect drinking strength. Finish: long, with –more oranges and always this slightly metallic touch. Orange squash, menthol cigarette. Comments: maybe not for beginners – or better yet, a very nice introduction to a style that beginners usually don’t know of. Rather saltier and smokier than other Springbanks, by the way, it’s got something a little Longrowy. SGP:363 - 87 points.

Springbank 16 yo 1996/2012 (50.5%, The Stillman's, sherry hogshead, 250 bottles)

Springbank 16 yo 1996/2012 (50.5%, The Stillman's, sherry hogshead, 250 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: this time it’s a rather oaky sherry that strikes first, a dry one, with hints of broken branches, walnuts and then a combination of some kind of smoky motor oil with bitter oranges and a little caramel. I also get some old leather polish and then more and more hay. Maybe even wee touches of manure. Another pretty wild one. A lot of ‘nice’ wine vinegar after fifteen minutes, or old barrels… With water: between earth and wine wine. Mouth (neat): rich, punchy, both a little acidic and vinous, with the spirits austere side in the background. Leafy and leathery as well, it’s an unusual style of sherried malt. Mustard. A super-fortified Manzanilla? With water: same feeling although the lemony side kept growing. Bitter lemon zests. Finish: rather long, citrusy, pleasantly green and much less vinous. Although some kind of big chenin may well be spotted here and there. Another very excellent one. Comments: unless they’ve aged in sulphury casks, it seems that almost all Springbanks that were distilled in the mid to late 1990 have now become top notch. Hurray! SGP:462 - 87 points.

Springbank 15 yo (56.6%, Whiskies of Scotland, 2012)

Springbank 15 yo (56.6%, Whiskies of Scotland, 2012) Three stars and a halfColour: gold. Nose: this time we have a cleaner, more mentholated one. A lot of liquorice wood and then a little tequila (unaged), moss and leaves. A lot of freshness in this one. After a few minutes, more marzipan and caramel. Rocks. With water: touches of ginger and more earthy and rooty scents. Very nice. Mouth (neat): excellently nervous, very unusual once again, starting rather spicy (saffron, white pepper) while there’s also quite some orange blossom water. And always these touches of mustard. Big personality once again. With water: creamy, a notch more modern than the other ones now (more fresh oak, ginger, cinnamon…) Finish: long, rooty, gingery. Some marmalade as well. Comments: very excellent, just the ginger and green tannins that start to come through are a little ‘too much’ for me. SGP:363 - 84 points.

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

 

 

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April 25, 2013


Whiskyfun

A little bag of excellent middle-aged indie Speysiders

Inste ad of malts from the same distillery, we’ll go a little more varied for a change. And we won’t even choose the same ages, vintages or types of barrels, so this is as freewheeling as we’ll ever get. Almost… And this is an open tasting, whiskies we’ll be chosen one after the other.

Glen Keith 21 yo 1991/2012 (51.9%, Whisky-Doris, 10th Anniversary, hogshead, cask #89645, 264 bottles)

Glen Keith 21 yo 1991/2012 (51.9%, Whisky-Doris, 10th Anniversary, hogshead, cask #89645, 264 bottles) Four stars Happy birthday, Whisky-Doris (I’m sorry I may be late). Colour: white wine. Nose: this is interesting, it’s neither a sherry bomb – obviously – nor an old fruity Glen Keith, so we’re very close to the spirit, so to speak. In fact it’s unusually rough, spirity, grassy and porridgy despite the 21 years, with some juicy garden fruits only in the distant background so far (greengages?) A little mint too. With water: opens out like a… tulip? No flowery scents though, we rather have pleasant farmy notes (farmyard, malt barn and such) and a little more vanilla. Ripe plums, maybe papayas as well. Nice natural nose. Mouth (neat): fresh and fruitier this time, rather on green apples, greengages again, with then more barley sugar and honeydew. It’s quite strong and feels rather more than 52%. With water: a little more of everything, with more smoothness. A little almond oil and then more maltiness. Finish: rather long, closer to barley again. This is well malt whisky ;-). Comments: rather perfect refill, much au naturel. Don’t forget to add water. SGP:551 - 85 points. Let’s try to find something completely different now…

Benrinnes 13 yo 1998/2012 (53.5%, A.D. Rattray, sherry butt, cask #6850, 499 bottles)

Benrinnes 13 yo 1998/2012 (53.5%, A.D. Rattray, sherry butt, cask #6850, 499 bottles) Four stars Colour: full amber. Nose: big phat sherry on a big phat malt. So plenty of oils and chocolates, some soy sauce, the obligatory fruitcake, quite some marmalade, bitter oranges, touches of leather and only hints of struck matches. Then more sultanas and hints of eucalyptus, possibly from the cask, as well as a little cured ham. Big phat dram ;-). With water: funnily enough, there’s a little botrytis and a feeling of Tokaji with good putts. Fun and nice. Mouth (neat): very thick, liqueury, with bags of liquorice and raisins that, once again, remind me of some well-aged Armagnac at high strength (which isn’t easy to find, by the way). Slightly muscaty as well, with some litchis, Turkish delights… A spectacular palate. With water: we’re even more on well-aged sweet wine. Rather old Banyuls this time, Tokaji again. Wheelbarrows of big phat (that’ll be enough, S.) golden raisins. Finish: long, very sweet, extremely raisiny. A honeyed aftertaste. Comments: a very sherried Benrinnes but it’s rather less gamy than others. Sultanas all over the place, esp. with water. High quality selection by A.D. Rattray. SGP:741 - 87 points.

Aberlour 17 yo 1995/2012 (56%, Master of Malt, refill bourbon hogshead, 265 bottles)

Aberlour 17 yo 1995/2012 (56%, Master of Malt, refill bourbon hogshead, 265 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: as always with naked Aberlours, we’re in a western orchard. That would involve fruity apples, plenty of pears, bags of gooseberries and many many plums. The plums are important because there’s also this almondy side that reminds us of plum eau-de-vie (or other stone fruits, sorb…). Also whiffs of warm hay in summer, very nice. With water: more of the same. A wee fizziness. Sparkling cranberry? Mouth (neat): ah yes, exactly the same flavours again. Apples, pears, juicy berries, plums… One of the Aberlourest Aberlours I could try (as far as unsherried ones are concerned). Pretty perfect. With water: sweet fruit juice, raspberries… Finish: medium length. It remains very clean and very fruity all along, with no wood to interrupt you. Comments: a very spectacular ueber-fruity Aberlour. SGP:731 - 87 points.

Glen Grant 20 yo 1992/2013 (50.4%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon hogshead)

Glen Grant 20 yo 1992/2013 (50.4%, Whisky-Fässle, bourbon hogshead) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s really fab to compare all these naked – yet mature – distillates. You would have thought this Glen Grant would be lighter but what’s striking is rather the herbalness, with these whiffs of fresh parsley, fresh coriander and chives, even Virginia tobacco that complement cider apples and touches of icing sugar, or limejuice. The whole is very fresh and unexpectedly fragrant. With water: same; more or less. Water wasn’t needed. Mouth (neat): sweet and creamy arrival, with rather more vanilla than the others, then icing sugar again, lemon, tangerines and quite some pears. A little tinned pineapple as well, then a mild spiciness. Sweet pepper. With water: sweet barley and hints of brioche (with a little orange blossom water). XLNT. Finish: not very long and even a little light but fresh, clean and fruity. Comments: goes down a treat, it’s rather more, say emphatic than other unsherried Glen Grants of similar age. That’ll be the third 87 in a row – if you don’t mind. SGP:641 - 87 points.

Good, five will do. And the fifth one should be another sherry monster for more ‘variations’…

Tormore 1998/2013 (55.4%, Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #MoS 12041, 524 bottles)

Tormore 1998/2013 (55.4%, Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #MoS 12041, 524 bottles) Four stars Colour: amber with bronze hues. Nose: waah! More Demerara rum (Enmore?) than malt whisky at first nosing, with black olives, bananas flambéed, cane juice and quite some high-end molasses. Goes on with some genuine balsamic vinegar (I’m writing this because 99% of the ‘balsamico’ that we can buy is pure industrial junk), rocks, touches of gunpowder and then big black raisins. Very curious about what will happen with water… So with water: Seville oranges and herbal liqueurs come out. A few used matches as well. Mouth (neat): seriously, this is Demerara rum. Or Caroni. Heavy liquorice, molasses, heavily reduced orange sauce, fig liqueur (litres of that), concentrated maple syrup… Well, you get the drift, I suppose. Cloves in the background. With water: maybe a little dust but other than that it’s lovely. I get a little rosewater, more peppermint, a little liquorice… Finish: very long, more mentholated. More Jägermeister in the aftertaste. Comments: this baby reminds me a bit of the darkest batches of the very old official 10 (white label if that rings a bell). Only the Jägermeistery touches on the palate are a little less pleasant IMO but otherwise, it was just another superb middle-aged Speysider. And another 87, if you still don’t mind. Big Tormore. SGP:651 - 87 points.

 

 

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April 24, 2013


Whiskyfun

Two pair of Scotch blends

First two well-known funny ones and then two special Cutty Sarks.

Pig’s Nose 5 yo (40%, Spencerfield Spirit Co, blend, +/-2012)

Pig’s Nose 5 yo (40%, Spencerfield Spirit Co, blend, +/-2012) Two stars Colour: gold. Nose: malty, caramelly, toasted and quite chocolaty, then a little more dusty and porridgy. A little honey too. Rather bigger than the average blend but I wouldn’t say its got a huge personality so far. A lot of caramel. Mouth: exactly the same feeling, although this is creamier. Very oily mouth feel. A lot of caramel, fudge, Ovaltine and maple syrup. Honey coated cornflakes. It’s very sippable, I like this palate better than the nose. Good body. Finish: medium length, with always this feeling of heavy caramel and maple syrup. Comments: a thick blend, very sweet and candied. Feels a little ‘arranged’, if I may say so. SGP:621 - 71 points.

Sheep Dip (40%, Spencerfield Spirit Co, blended malt, +/-2012)

Sheep Dip (40%, Spencerfield Spirit Co, blended malt, +/-2012) Two stars and a halfI think I liked the older ‘yellow’ label better but how is that important? Colour: gold. Nose: a rather unusual one, with some stewed fruits and quite some heather honey. Some hay, a little leather and then more figs, raisins and dates. Touches of wood smoke too, a little butter, sea air… This is pleasant and pretty complex I must say. Mouth: starts a little weird, curiously ashy/smoky and fruity at the same time (tamarind?), with then a curious combination of Demerara sugar, heavy cinnamon and maybe pomegranates. All-fruit liqueurs. Quite some caramel again as well, maple syrup, it’s all a little thick. Also these honey coated cornflakes again. Is that a house style? Finish: rather long, ashy, roasted and candied. There’s also a lot of roasted malt yet again. Comments: honest and loyal but you have to like all this heavy malted caramel. It’s got something of Johnnie Walker Black in my opinion. SGP:632 - 78 points.

Cutty Sark 25 yo Tam O’Shanter (46.5%, OB, 5000 bottles, 2012)

Cutty Sark 25 yo Tam O’Shanter (46.5%, OB, 5000 bottles, 2012) Four stars Yes I’m late with this baby. Colour: deep amber. Nose: an old blend that’s closer to an old malt at first nosing, it’s rather big and full of stewed fruits including strawberries, plums and oranges, then more classic dried fruits, figs and raisins. Some chocolate too, ganache, notes of old tawny Port or maybe even rich sweet Muscat and then a lot of praline, walnut liqueur and Demerara sugar. It’s very aromatic and very full as well, although not heavy-ish. Very nice nose. Mouth: maybe not as ‘wide’ and rich as on the nose, and pretty cognacqy at times, with an oak that plays first fiddle. So a lot of cinnamon, ginger and dry tea, then some bitter chocolate, then dried bananas and figs. Good, nice body. Finish: medium length, chocolaty. Cinnamon again, other dry spices, cocoa powder… A little cough syrup in the aftertaste. Comments: a pretty superb nose and a palate that’s a notch too oaky for me. I was prepared to go well above 85 after the nose but the rather drying palate brings it down to a nice 85 again. SGP:462 - 85 points.

Cutty Sark ‘Cask Strength’ (52.4%, OB for Caskstrength.net, 500 bottles, 2013)

Cutty Sark ‘Cask Strength’ (52.4%, OB for Caskstrength.net, 500 bottles, 2013) Three stars I think it’s quite rare that a large blending house would help compose a blend at cask strength for a third party. Colour: white wine. Nose: the opposite of the Tam O’Shanter, in the sense that this is much more naked and kind of natural, with bags of porridge, pears and apples. Sweet barley, then a little grass. It’s a relatively light blend despite the high strength. Let’s try it with water: some soot and coal smoke now, as well as a little dill or even fennel. Very fresh. Mouth (neat): more peat it seams, it’s got more body now, with a feeling of smoked lime and apple juice and then some candy sugar as well as a little fructose or icing sugar that lifts it well. More pears emerging after a few seconds, and even a little wormwood or aniseed, which is quite unusual. With water: the pears went to the front, together with sultanas and more barley sugar. Finish: medium length, with more apples and pears as well as touches of lemon pie (with cinnamon). Comments: a very good blend that needs time and water, don’t be too quick or you’ll miss a large part of its assets. SGP:442 - 82 points.

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

 

 

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April 23, 2013


Whiskyfun

Tasting two new independent Ardmore

I’m starting to believe that Ardmore could well become the new Ardbeg, as far as indie casks are concerned. In any case, neither just an underdog, nor only ‘Teacher’s base malt’ anymore…

Ardmore 21 yo 1992/2013 (49,7%, The Whiskyman, 175 bottles)

Ardmore 21 yo 1992/2013 (49,7%, The Whiskyman, 175 bottles) Five stars This one's nicknamed ‘See me, drink me’, so probably a tribute to The Rubettes (of course it's The Who). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: sweet Jesus! (that was a tribute to Roger Daltrey). Seriously, the first aromas that climb up to your nostrils are both wonderful and highly unusual, it’s some kind of smoked olive oil, or even smoked or grilled sesame or argan oil. There’s much less fruits than in the ‘average’ Ardmores, even other 192s that I could try (little peaches and such) while the smoke is much bigger. Also very mineral, I get some coal, graphite, pencil lead, limestone… It’s only after a good fifteen minutes that more lemon comes through, together with soot, naphta and maybe smoked almonds. Extremely old school. With water: water isn’t needed. Mouth (neat): lo-ve-ly tropical fruits, grapefruits, passion fruits… It’s not a very wide profile, nor is it complex, but it’s all crystal-clean and perfectly zesty, with just this very particular extra-sweetness that’s not to be found at other peatmakers’. Lemon flavoured sucrose or something like that? It’s a little rounder on the palate. Finish: medium and lovely. I seem to get a little aniseed, which makes for a nice and funny signature. Comments: Listening to you, I get the music, gazing at you, I get the heat… (make of this what you will). SGP:546 - 90 points.

Ardmore 1991/2013 (53.8%, Malts of Scotland, rum barrel, cask #MoS 13018, 234 bottles)

Ardmore 1991/2013 (53.8%, Malts of Scotland, rum barrel, cask #MoS 13018, 234 bottles) Five stars Rum on peat? This should be interesting… Colour: white wine. Nose: now, this one is even less fruity, but instead of minerals or coal and such, it’s rather geared toward grassy elements, moss, fern, a little motor oil (actually more and more motor oil), a feeling of agave, walnut skin… Different but quite as beautiful so far. Mouth (neat): superb. This time it’s an ultra-lemony, super-zesty one, akin the best chenins if you’re into wine. Superbly acidic, nervous, chiselled… Well I’m sure you see what I mean. Finish: long, sharp in a great way. Smoked limejuice. Comments: it’s more and more confirmed that these 1991-1992 vintages were quite magical at Ardmore. The casks are now reaching perfection in my opinion. Oh, yeah, the rum… well, I won’t tell you I noticed an obvious ‘rumminess’, unless it was an agricole and the grassy part was brought by it. No ideas, better not speculate. SGP:556 - 90 points.

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

 
Pete McPeat and Jack Washback
PJ
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April 22, 2013


Whiskyfun

A bag of blends from all around the world

Some fun to be had, maybe, and maybe some disasters to encounter. You never know with this category.

Breizh (42%, OB, Warenghem, France, blend, +/-2013)

Breizh (42%, OB, Warenghem, France, blend, +/-2013) Two stars and a half A blend of 50% malt and 50% (obviously) grain, distilled in Brittany. Not too sure this isn't actually a single blend (both grain and malt distilled at the same distillery). Colour: straw. Nose: very close to the cereals, so very cereally (yeah right), with a lot of porridge, baker’s yeast, fresh bread, muesli… Then more banana skin and fresh butter, plus a pleasant spiciness (a little curry, cinnamon). Exactly the opposite of a Scotch blend, with much less caramel/ toasted stuff, honey and such. Mouth: rich and natural, with an oak that’s more obvious but also a spirit that stands it. Grains again, muesli, then more oranges and a little cardamom. Gets then grassier. Finish: medium, grassy and grainy, all that in a good way. Maybe a notch too dusty at he end of the end. Comments: maybe it lacks a little more roundness but it’s a very fine blend. Almost 80/100 in my book. Well done Warenghem! SGP:341 - 79 points.

Kinnickinnic Whiskey (43%, OB, Great Lakes Distillery, USA, +/-2013)

Kinnickinnic Whiskey (43%, OB, Great Lakes Distillery, USA, +/-2013) Two stars It’s an Indian name that means ‘what’s blendable’. I already tried it and have been positively surprised. Colour: gold. Nose: there are common roots with the French, both start on cereals, but this one becomes much more fragrant, more in your face, with a feeling of orange liqueur, ginger and rye. Not unlike a mixture of bourbon and orange liqueur. I must say this works, and I really enjoy these notes of wormwood or absinth that never stop becoming bigger after a few seconds. Very unusual and fun nose. Mouth: another story now, the unlikeliness can be a little appalling at times. Bags of rose and violet sweets, orange liqueurs again, Turkish delights, crème de menthe and then these notes of rye again. Very strange stuff but again, it’s fun. Finish: long, spicier. Pepper and saffron. Comments: the very unusual style was a bigger hit the first time I tried it but indeed, all that may become tiring quite quickly. Worth the try, in any case. SGP:720 - 72 points.

The New Zealand Whisky Collection 10 yo 'Doublewood' (40%, OB, Dunedin, New Zealand, +/-2013)

The New Zealand Whisky Collection 10 yo 'Doublewood' (40%, OB, Dunedin, New Zealand, +/-2013) Three stars ‘Aged In American-Oak barrels for 6 years and then finished for 4 more in French-Oak North Island Wine Barrels’. This one contains 70% malt. Colour: orangey gold. Nose: surprisingly appealing. A very rich, extractive nose that’s not far from a good rum’s, with big notes of sugar cane, candy sugar, orange liqueur yet again, gingerbread and rich honeydew (fir). A lot of raisins too, as well as touches of cedar wood. I like this nose. Mouth: maybe a notch too extractive and even bitterish now, with something grapey as well, but otherwise balance is achieved. Raspberry liqueur and jam, cranberries, bitter oranges, cardamom and then a littler ginger and pepper, maybe from the French oak. Who knows! Finish: rather long, sweet and spicy. Strawberries with pepper? Notes of stout in the aftertaste. Comments: frankly, a great surprise. The high malt content shows. Very well done the Kiwis! It’s got something of Charbay’s famous LAWS cask. SGP:641 - 82 points.

Pike Creek 10 yo (40%, OB, blend, Canada, +/-2013)

Pike Creek 10 yo (40%, OB, blend, Canada, +/-2013) Two stars This baby by Corby distillers. It’s matured in bourbon barrels and finished in Port wood. Colour: salmony. Nose: it’s a lighter and fresher whisky than all the other ones and the Port’s red berries are detectable very early, I’m not 100% sure the spirit was ready for that. Cassis and their leaves or better yet, buds, a little vanilla, a little green tea and a few marshmallows. Very harmless but I enjoy the freshness. Mouth: not bad at all, there’s more body now, with more straight oak, green tea and blackcurrant leaves again (the tea made thereof), then a feeling of peppered corn syrup, which is a little less enjoyable. Becomes quite sugary too. Finish: medium length, I’m not a fan of the sugary side that becomes a little cloying. Cranberry juice. Green peppercorn in the aftertaste, green tannins. Also a feeling of both rye and cologne. Comments: certainly very fine whisky but it’s simply not my preferred style, at all. Way too cask driven for me but it’s technically flawless. SGP:641 - 75 points.

Grand Royal 'Special Reserve' (43%, OB, world ?, +/-2013)

Grand Royal 'Special Reserve' (43%, OB, world ?, +/-2013) A strange multinational mixture ‘skilfully crafted by our Scottish master blender from a combination of 16 Scotch malts, Scotch and Myanmar grain whiskies’ according to the owners’ website. The owners are International Beverages Trading Co.LTD. Colour: pale gold. Nose: nope. Weak and burnt, too toasted, rather dusty at first nosing, although things really improve after a few minutes. Bags of overripe apples and quite some caramel. Peanut butter. Mouth: not the worst whisky ever but we’re more or less in the same territories as the ‘premium’ Indian blends, if you see what I mean. Touches of molasses, cake, cider, marshmallows. Thin mouth feel. Finish: little but it’s clean. Always overripe apples and caramel. Comments: not disgusting but it’s the kind of blend you’ll only sip when travelling to Burma and when ‘there’s no Scotch around’. SGP:320 - 50 points.

 

 

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April 20, 2013


Whiskyfun

Two official finished Talisker

Talisker 2001/2012 'Distillers Edition' (45.8%, OB, TD-S: 50A)

Talisker 2001/2012 'Distillers Edition' (45.8%, OB, TD-S: 50A) Four stars This DE has lost its brown livery and goes for blue like all the other Taliskers, but it's kept its finishing in amoroso casks. Colour: gold. Nose: a rather gentler Talisker, we’ve already tried many vintages and this one isn’t very different, the sweeter raisiny (instead of vinous) touches blend well with the maritime, almost sardine-y profile, while the peat was toned down. Actually, I’m wondering whether this vintage isn’t a little better than earlier ones, it’s very well integrated and does not reek of wine or grapes at all. Wonderful notes of smooth and fruity olive oil (do you know Nyons?), brine and then orange zests. Also the smoke from menthol cigarettes? Very nice nose, subtle and complex. After fifteen minutes, pink grapefruits! Mouth: this time it becomes a little fizzy, with a little leather, bitter oranges, the expected pepper and a mild smokiness. Seaweed, nori, some menthol again and a slight feeling of shoe polish. Works. Finish: rather long, ashy and peppery. Always bitter oranges, esp. in the aftertaste. Some salt too – of course. Comments: I think it’s a good vintage, and that the finishing was done well, with a wine that complements the spirit rather than overwhelming it. SGP:455 - 87 points.

Talisker 'Port Ruighe' (45.8%, OB, 2013)

Talisker 'Port Ruighe' (45.8%, OB, 2013) Two stars This brand new one was finished in Port casks (I’ve read it’s ruby Port). The distinguished owners state that 'Port Ruighe is a combination of spirit that has been matured in American Oak and European Oak refill casks in the traditional manner along with spirit that has been filled into specially conditioned deeply charred casks. The spirit is then finished in casks that have previously held Port Wine'. What a recipe! Colour: apricot. Nose: the wine is much more obvious than in the DE, and I must confess that this is much less my style. I think that just like at many other distilleries, the combination of peaty whisky with red wine is a very tricky one, and that balance is extremely hard to achieve. The result is quick to become too leathery, or too farmy, or rubbery, or too bubblegummy, or simply dissonant or dirty-ish. I’m not saying that’s completely the case here, but again, I like the latest DE, or the new Storm, or the regular 10 years old better. Now, maybe the palate will tell us a different story? After fifteen minutes, some nicer chocolaty notes come through. Mouth: how difficult to assess! I’ve never come across something that was that cask-influenced at Diageo’s (right, I haven’t tried everything of course). It’s an extremely bizarre whisky, at times liqueury, at times very orangey, at times hugely gingery (not to mention all the cardamom!)… Some parts are interesting or even nice (this peppery lemon) but others are, well, new to me. Between red pepper and… chilli and tomato sauce? Peppered honey? Cherry stem tea? Rubber bands? Chervil? Tarragon infused in curaçao? I’m compleeeeeetely lost here. Finish: long, quite acrid and green. Comments: I am a huge fan of Talisker and as such, I’m afraid I do not like this one too much - remember, always a matter of personal taste. I’m sorry, it’s not ‘Talisker’ to this humble little amateur taster, but if the aim was to come up with more variety, it’s a huge success. SGP:466 - 70 points (coz I’m in a jolly good mood).

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

 

 

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April 19, 2013


Whiskyfun

Quite a few Brackla today.
Yes it was about time.

I’ve long wanted to do a nice and long Brackla verticale and a new bottling by Cadenhead gives me the best excuse. We’ll kick this off with a very young one at low strength as the apéritif…

Royal Brackla 9 yo 1991/2000 (43%, Signatory, refill sherry, cask #6362, 928 bottles)

Royal Brackla 9 yo 1991/2000 (43%, Signatory, refill sherry, cask #6362, 928 bottles) one star and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: apple juice, litres of apple juice, then a little gravel and cardboard as well as quite a lot of paraffin. A little mustard and soap too. Very humble so far, I’d say. No sherry that I can get. Mouth: light and cardboardy at first sips, not very nice, but it does improve after a quarter of a second (okay, five seconds) with more lemon and even a little brine. A coastal side, really. I like this palate much better than the nose but the whole remains a little spirity and raw. Finish: quite long, a little briny. Comments: all independent bottlers used to issue such ‘simple’ casks ten or fifteen years ago, I’m not sure they were worth it. Having said that, I believe most don’t do that anymore – Signatory certainly don’t - so, we’re progressing, in a way… Yeah yeah, the good old days… SGP:341 - 67 points.

Let’s do the rest slowly, because strengths will vary a lot…

Royal Brackla 20 yo 1992/2013 (52.4%, Cadenhead, sherry, 180 bottles)

Royal Brackla 20 yo 1992/2013 (52.4%, Cadenhead, sherry, 180 bottles) Three stars and a half You guessed it, this is the new one. Colour: full gold. Nose: what’s striking is the soapiness that was already in the young 1991, but here it’s a kind of asset, a kind of waxy soapiness – or the other way ‘round - that even becomes almondy. Dove’s best? (with the girls in the bathtubs and all that?…) Also apple pie, candy sugar and a little milk chocolate. Very nice fino-ish sherry. Walnuts. With water:  more classic, rounder, softer, on more dried fruits, figs, raisins… Also nice farmy touches, hay, farmyard in summer… Mouth (neat): very strong, with heavy dry sherry and quite some gingery oak. Some chocolate again, walnut liqueur, maybe chicory (with little water)… With water this time: it’s the grassy side that got bigger. Leafy and leathery, pleasantly so. Finish: long, on the same kinds of notes. Leafy, slightly bitter aftertaste. Comments: a kind of heavily concentrated fino or manzanilla. Unusual and interesting. SGP:361 - 83 points.

Let’s go back in time now… Slowly…

Royal Brackla 14 yo 1978/1993 (43%, Signatory, casks #11079-11081, 1200 bottles)

Royal Brackla 14 yo 1978/1993 (43%, Signatory, casks #11079-11081, 1200 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: white. I mean, almost white. Nose: very nice! No signs of oak or anything oaky, rather a full grassy spirit that smells like ‘a walk in the forest’ with pine needles, moss, fern and all that. There are also traces of coal smoke and just a little porridge and lemon. Very curious about the palate… Mouth: it is a little bizarre, some parts being similar to what we already found in the 1991 by Signatory, that is to say that there’s quite some cardboard and paraffin. Some grass too and then more and more salt, ala Bowmore. Where does all this salt come from? A light palate but it isn’t weak and it even tends to improve, with a cardboardy side that goes away while the whisky becomes very briny. Finish: unexpectedly long and salty. Comments: it is a little weird but I quite like it. Nice fun very dry whisky to pour blind to your friends. SGP:251 - 78 points.

While we’re having lighter ones…

Royal Brackla 14 yo 1969 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, old brown label, +/- 1983)

Royal Brackla 14 yo 1969 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, old brown label, +/- 1983) Four stars AKA banner label. Colour: gold. Nose: most interestingly, this one shares the menthol and, above all the whiffs of moss, pine needles and fern that we had in the 1978. It’s absolutely not tired and there are also nice touches of vanilla (not caramel, eh) that make it rounder. Quite some peat smoke too, another surprise. Lovely lovely nose with little Old Bottle Effect for once. Marzipan. Mouth: hurray, it’s kept all its oomph. And, sadly, its feint soapy side as well, akin to what we already found above but it’s all very discreet so no big deal. Nice honeydew, grapefruits... Also something a little metallic and, again, salty starting to appear. Tends to lose steam, sadly. Finish: shortish, a little dry, papery and metallic. Comments: it all started fantastically, went on very nicely and ended a little… shaky and weakish. Isn’t that the fate of many old bottles at low strength? The half was absolutely stellar so my score will remain high. SGP:351 - 85 points.

Look, all those lightish Bracklas were nice and interesting but why not use heavier artillery from now on? And when I say heavier… Cough cough… Hope these will swim well!

Royal Brackla 15 yo 1972/1988 (64.5%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 558 bottles)

Royal Brackla 15 yo 1972/1988 (64.5%, Gordon & MacPhail for Intertrade, 558 bottles) Three stars and a half What a charming ‘naïve’ label… This one and the next one were probably filled at a much higher strength than today’s very common 63 or 63.5% vol. Colour: white wine. Nose: extreme grassy and mineral notes and not much else, which is not abnormal. Like nosing a mixture of gravel, cut grass, lemon juice and methanol or wood alcohol. Water will be welcome… Oh, also a little white vinegar. With water: a little horse sweat and then a much cleaner and more lemony profile, all on almonds and walnuts (the usual two compadres with this style). Maybe touches of pineapples. Anyway, it really became nice and gentle despite its nakedness. Mouth (neat): a feeling of icing sugar, probably from the high alcohol. Some lemon and, perhaps, almond oil. Hard to say, I need my throat… With water: very good now, but you have to like Williams pears. All the youth came out. Finish: rather long, with more pears and even more pears. Maybe a little soap again in the aftertaste? Comments: it’s actually more a game than whisky, all you’ll need is some water, a pipette and a little time. SGP:451 - 84 points.

Royal Brackla 12 yo (65%, James MacArthur, The London Scottish Malt Whisky Society, cask #4782, +/-1985)

Royal Brackla 12 yo (65%, James MacArthur, The London Scottish Malt Whisky Society, cask #4782, +/-1985) Four stars The Port Ellens in this series were some of the best whiskies ever bottled by Man, so we have deep expectations now... Colour: straw. Nose: not much, or rather almost nothing, only, maybe, a little butter and litres of white-spirit. Or, dare I say, vodka? I remember a ‘Balkan Vodka’ at 88% vol. (they had added ‘handle with great care’ onto the label, a smart move.) With water: much harder to tame than the 1972. Still raw and grassy, rather eau-de-vie-ish. With more water (we’re around 35% now):  some earth and roots coming through, me likes. Our beloved gentian spirit? Mouth (neat): same feeling as with the 1972. Fructose and lemon. Hem… With water: ah yes, it became quite brilliant, with a perfect earthiness and a lot of herbs, chives, sage, dill… and more. Very clean and pure, very fresh. Finish: long, earthy, with more liquorice wood after that. Maybe these pears again in the aftertaste. Comments: no soapiness at all in this one. It’s no easy whisky and I wouldn’t say it’s worth a huge score but it’s greatly old-school. What a series! SGP:352 - 87 points.

(With thanks to Gilles, Olivier, Konstantin and Arno)

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

 

 

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April 18, 2013


Whiskyfun

Tasting three middle-aged Glen Scotia

There’s always something happening with Glen Scotia…

Glen Scotia 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2013)

Glen Scotia 18 yo (46%, OB, +/-2013) Two stars Colour: straw. Nose: Glen Scotia’s usual very porridgy profile is very obvious at first nosing, I’d even say this is pretty yeasty if not simply feinty. Goes on with more dairy cream and touches of honey and vanilla, before it really improves with more notes of oranges and pollen – and less yeasty notes. Now, it remains a little beerish if I may say so. Grassy. Mouth: simple, a notch spirity, with overripe apples, a little ginger, marmalade and then notes of quickly-distilled eaux-de-vie. Sweets. Becomes rather burnt and a little dirty, and then oddly bubblegumy. Finish: short, rather burnt again. Green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m not 100% sure this is worth more than €80 because I think the roar isn’t on par with the new look, if I may say so. I liked the similarly revamped new Inchmurrin 18 much better. SGP:441 - 72 points.

Glen Scotia 20 yo 1991/2012 (44.2%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, sherry butt, cask #1)

Glen Scotia 20 yo 1991/2012 (44.2%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, sherry butt, cask #1) Four stars and a half Cask #1!!! Colour: dark gold. Nose: other territories, another world, or rather another planet. It’s much more complex and rounded at the same time, cleaner as well, smokier, more… emphatic? Some nectar, honeydew, tarte tatin, crème brulée (while we’re using French), then raisins from the sherry, figs… The sherry is rather discreet, it’s all perfectly balanced and kind of soft. Wonderful. After fifteen minutes: a little tobacco and dry sherry. Mouth: excellent, it’s not unlike an old cognac of high quality! Bags of raisins and then prunes, with various spices from the wood while it never becomes pervasive or two heavy. Finish: medium, clean and more honeyed. More cinnamon and straight oak in the aftertaste. Comments: independent fillings of Glen Scotia have always been much nicer than the officials (whatever next!) in my experience, and I believe this W&M is among the pick of the bunch. SGP:542 - 88 points.

Glen Scotia 21 yo 1991/2013 (46%, Signatory for Waldhaus am See, cask #1047, 297 bottles)

Glen Scotia 21 yo 1991/2013 (46%, Signatory for Waldhaus am See, cask #1047, 297 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: we’re a bit between both previous ones, well, closer to the W&M actually but with less sherry and less oak. It remains clean, grassy, a little mineral, with muesli rather than porridge and no feinty/yeasty side. Good, a very tiny feinty/yeasty side. Also notes of agave and a little charcoal smoke. Mouth: it’s got the W&M’s fullness but yet again, it’s a rather grassier, more austere spirit. A good example of what a good or more active sherry cask can do - or not do, in this case, since the spirits themselves are very similar. Finish: medium long, with a little more lemon and more bitter notes, grass… Comments: very fine, it’s always interesting to try a rather naked whisky, that tells you more about the distillate and its style. SGP:352 - 84 points.

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

 

 

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April 17, 2013


Whiskyfun

Are these Imperials imperial?

Imperial, after Littlemill, is now selected by many passionate boutique bottlers. There must be one reason or three…

Imperial 17 yo 1995/2013 'Idunn' (49.5%, Dram of the Lords, bourbon barrel, 131 bottles)

Imperial 17 yo 1995/2013 'Idunn' (49.5%, Dram of the Lords, bourbon barrel, 131 bottles) Four stars Oh my, Idunn’s another Nordic god (rather a goddess). Now, it seems that Dram of the Lords have started using those even before Highland Park… Colour: straw. Nose: ha-ha! Flints, lemon and mints all over the place at first nosing, then more and more citrus fruits, lemon again but also tangerines and grapefruits. A very zesty one, ultra-clean and well balanced. After fifteen minutes, a little beeswax and vanilla come through. Hints of camphor. Mouth: a blend of all citrus fruits liqueurs known to Man, with a grassy backbone as well as quite some lemon honey to kind of bind all that. The strength is perfect, no water is needed. Finish: long, grassier, with more lemon zest and more bitters. Campari? Or high-end gin? Comments: a perfect grassy-citrusy Imperial that’ll take little prisoners. For lovers of cool climate riesling or chenin blanc (like we make over here, of course, haha). Almost went up to 88/100. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Imperial 1995/2013 (52.7%, Jack Wieber, Old Passenger Liners, 298 bottles)

Imperial 1995/2013 (52.7%, Jack Wiebers, Old Passenger Liners, 298 bottles) Four stars After the old trains, old ships! And always a smart old-school layout. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is more austere, grassier, less emphatically citrusy, more mineral and, above all, much grassier. The mint shines through again. After fifteen minutes: it became much more aromatic, this time with more medicinal notes, that is to say camphor again but also mercurochrome. Mint flavoured tea, more and more of that. With water: this is funny, it’s almost the same whisky as the ‘Idunn’ now. Mouth (neat): thicker, oilier (which is what the darker colour already suggested), with more vanilla and maple syrup on top if the citrusy profile. There are touches of newish oak, especially the menthol and ginger hint at that - but of course it’s no straight virgin oak. Say it’s rather ‘modern’. With water: same as on the nose, it’s almost the same whisky as the pervious one. Maybe a little more vanilla, maybe not. Finish: Comments: a funny independent that tastes like an official. Very good, in any case, probably a sister cask. Both whiskies showed more oomph than earlier 1995s that I have tried in the past. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Wait, now comes the bonus (yes, pfff)…

Imperial 25 yo 1981/2007 (57.2%, Douglas Laing, Platinum, 270 bottles)

Imperial 25 yo 1981/2007 (57.2%, Douglas Laing, Platinum, 270 bottles) Five stars I haven’t tried plenty of Imperials that were distilled in the 1980s, only loads of 197*s and 199*s. Well, not truckloads! Colour: dark gold. Nose: nope, the distillate did not have this beautiful citrusy side back then, or it’s deeply buried underneath a rather heavy oak. The good news is that it’s a wonderful oak that will remind any bourbon lover of these heavily infused Staggs and Wellers. Also hints of raw asparagus. The whole is really powerful, it’s not easy to nose (yes, like the Staggs). With water: superb now, many tinier aromas came through, cigarette smoke and straight tobacco, custard, so sauce, shoe polish, muled wine… Lots happening in this one. Mouth (neat): extremely punchy, infused, concentrated, spicy… It should be good but it’s too strong at this point (S., you really are a sissy.) With water: a honeyed explosion, touches of pencil shavings/new oak and then huge bitter oranges and pink grapefruits. We found the heavy citrus! Finish: quite long and just perfect. Heavy bourbon spices, oranges… The oak would just never become drying. Comments: I wouldn’t say this baby was a surprise, but quite. A very interesting ‘Scotch bourbon’ of extremely high quality. SGP:661 - 91 points.

(With many thanks again to Konstantin)

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

 

 

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April 16, 2013


Whiskyfun

A study of Glendullan through five drams

The arrival of a new Glendullan by Signatory Vintage represents a good opportunity to do a little verticale of yet-untasted expressions today. Glendullan remains very mysterious at WF Towers… (despite the newish official Singletons)…

Glendullan 15 yo 1997/2013 (46%, Signatory, Un-chilfiltered Collection, hogshead, cask #5067+5068, 729 bottles)

Glendullan 15 yo 1997/2013 (46%, Signatory, Un-chilfiltered Collection, hogshead, cask #5067+5068, 729 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: another raw, leafy and grassy spirit, completely au naturel but then again, it’s maybe a little too austere and unsexy in spite of some pleasant mineral touches. After a few minutes: a little lemon and a little apple peelings. Dissolved aspirin tablets. Mouth: much more happening, all between apple and lemon juices as well a green spiciness. Cider apples and a little toffee from the oak, then more orange juice and malted barley (Ovaltine like). Good body, nice feeling. Finish: fairly long, even maltier. The apples, the lemon and the grass are back in the aftertaste. Comments: some very loyal and honest grassy malt whisky. SGP:451 - 79 points.

Glendullan 12 yo 1997/2009 (56.1%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, bourbon, cask #5059)

Glendullan 12 yo 1997/2009 (56.1%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, bourbon, cask #5059) Three stars Colour: pale straw. Nose: same spirit as the Signatory, only at cask strength, which does not make any differences in this context. Maybe the apple peelings are a notch louder, so to speak, and there’s a little more linseed oil. Maybe the higher strength? Let’s see… With water: same spirit as the Signatory. I’m proud of my reducing skills! Mouth (neat): crisper and fatter at the same time and this time it IS the higher strength. Lemon and icing sugar plus grassy spices and herbs. Maybe a little sorrel, which is funny. With water: goodness, we have the same whisky as the Signatory once again. Finish: same comments. Comments: the label (and Robert Burns) say it, this is ‘An honest bottle’. Oh, I just noticed that both 1997s are sister casks. No wonder… SGP:451 - 80 points.

Glendullan 1981/2001 (55.5%, Scott's Selection)

Glendullan 1981/2001 (55.5%, Scott's Selection) Three stars and a half There also was a bottling in 2000 that shared the same strength (55.5). Colour: gold. Nose: oh yes, this is another world, probably not just because it’s older spirit, in both senses. Fatter, more aromatic, spicier, more herbal… In short, much bigger. Lovely notes of aniseed, curry, kumquats, passion fruits (touches), caraway seeds and, above all, vanilla custard and honeydew. It even becomes a little medicinal after a while (natural antiseptic, camphor…) With water: superb! A bag of oranges with some camphor and eucalyptus. A remote fruit and spice market somewhere in north Africa. Oh drop that. Mouth (neat): we’re very close to the JMcA this time, both whiskies are extremely similar. This one has just a little more vanilla and honey but other than that, its just as lemony (with a camphory background). With water: same. Finish: quite long, maybe slightly sour now (cider apples). Comments: the nose did a very large part of the job. SGP:561 - 84 points.

Glen Dullan 20 yo 1978/1998 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 299 bottles)

Glen Dullan 20 yo 1978/1998 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 299 bottles) Two stars Colour: dark straw. Nose: very nice but not quite as interesting as the Scott. It’s rather more on sugar pie, apple pie, then a little tobacco and herbal teas. Maybe some orange blossom water, then blood oranges and, maybe a little eucalyptus once again. Again, it’s nicer than just nice but it just wouldn’t take off. Maybe water will help… With water: doesn’t help much. More green gooseberries, wheelbarrows of gooseberries… And maybe a few almonds. Mouth (neat): oh no! The first lemony touches in the attack are just fine but then it becomes too chemical, too aspiriny and frankly hard to quaff or sip. Cheap lemon squash. With water: a little better but this time it’s cardboard and a little plastic that come out. Having said that, it’s far from being a disaster because the lemony side lifts it. Citrons, limoncello… Finish: medium, very lemony. Grassy and cardboardy aftertaste. Comments: it’s a very difficult one. I enjoy some parts but others were, well, difficult in my opinion. An experience… (I just had a wee sip of the old 1966 Platinum by DL, that one was fabulous!) SGP:362 - 74 points.

Glendullan 18 yo 'Manager's Dram' (64%, OB, 1989)

Glendullan 18 yo 'Manager's Dram' (64%, OB, 1989) Four stars For Scottish Malt Distillers staff, obviously distilled in the very early 1970s. Colour: amber. Nose: who cares if it’s the cask that did all the work? This is pretty magnificent, surprisingly smooth (ha, smooth!) and laden with notes of old polished wood, pipe tobacco, cedar wood, Seville oranges and then wet rocks and gravel. It’s got a slight cognacqy side, with touches of ripe peaches and maybe a little rancio. Pure loveliness and no ‘excesses’. With water: once again, more medicinal notes – beautiful ones. Natural camphor, turpentine, tincture of iodine… Then more fresh almonds.  Mouth (neat): high extraction and high power, which makes it a little difficult and Stroh-ish (do you know Austria’s Stroh 80? Quite an adventure ;-)) With water: much in line with the nose, highly herbal and medicinal. Some kind of complex albeit quite bitter cough syrup. Finish: long, all on the same notes even if quite unexpectedly, the aftertaste is rather rounder and sweeter. Yes, Chartreuse-y. Comments: you could think they have used pinewood for this. A very unusual, big and, as they say, captivating dram. SGP:571 - 87 points.

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

 

 

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April 15, 2013


Whiskyfun

Thirty years later or a few indie Brora

This is the little Brora session I had wanted to do on March 17 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the distillery's last day. A very bad nose had prevented me from doing so but now that everything's back to normal, let's have them! They're all older bottlings, from three distinct periods. Instead of sorting them by ascending strength, we'll have them 'vertically', by ascending peatiness (theoretically)…

Brora 22 yo 1981/2004 (46%, Signatory, Un-chilfiltered Collection, refill butt, cask #1560, 851 bottles)

Brora 22 yo 1981/2004 (46%, Signatory, Un-chilfiltered Collection, refill butt, cask #1560, 851 bottles) Four stars Some sister casks have been bottled at CS but his one's been reduced. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: sure the 1981s were much less peaty than, say the 1972s but this is still a very peaty dram, somewhat akin to a Talisker even if this Brora is more austere and, above all, extremely waxy and mineral. Quite some paraffin too - not obligatorily always a great thing when there's a lot of it - and then more lemon as well as touches of wet dogs (I'm sorry, dogs). Some graphite oil as well, then more grass, lemon grass, angelica… Globally very phenolic and rather austere so far. Mouth: it's amazing how close we are to Talisker! Pepper, lemon, smoke and oysters, then more barley sugar and maybe a touch of sherry (remember it's from a refill butt). This sherry goes very well with the peppery make but it all remains pretty austere. Pleasantly austere…  Finish: long, herbal, salty, smoky and lemony, a perfect profile. Peppery aftertaste, we're still in Talisker territories. Comments: I like it a lot, not all 1981s have been to my liking (and even less 1982s). A big one despite the low strength. SGP:355 - 87 points.

Brora 18 yo 1981/2000 (50% Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 732 bottles)

Brora 18 yo 1981/2000 (50% Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 732 bottles) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: this one is more difficult, it's even both a little watery (vase water) and kind of chemical (plastic, the interior of a brand new budget car). Having said that, we have also very interesting notes of tequila and white rum, with this unusual grassy side. Also walnut skin, then more butterscotch. This is less 'Brora' and much less smoky than the Signatory for sure, it's not the same distillate. Also something metallic (old tin box). After fifteen minutes, it became cleaner and straighter, with a fino-ish character. With water: iron and rust all over the place. A bag of old nails. A shame because behind all this metal there are nice whiffs of fern and moss. Well, maybe… Also a little sour cream. Mouth (neat): it's a little weird again, bizarrely sweet and sour, with a strange combination of lemon juice and wasabi. Not kidding. The metallic side got even bigger (silver spoon, even aluminum), there's even a little plastic, then lemon jelly beans or something like that. Not an easy one but it's kind of interesting. Some pepper. With water: forget about that, it became too metallic. Finish: quite long, a little sour. Apple juice and beer. Comments: a difficult one that just doesn't swim, but some parts are very interesting. An odd, mindboggling Brora. SGP:273 - 80 points.

Brora 30 yo 1976/2007 (55.1%, Douglas Laing, Platinum, 104 bottles)

Brora 30 yo 1976/2007 (55.1%, Douglas Laing, Platinum, 104 bottles) Five stars There was another 1976 in the same series that was quite excellent (57.5%, WF 90) but also incredibly expensive back in 2007 (I think around 400€, a very high price at the time). Colour: gold. Nose: it's peatier than both 1981s, more complex for sure, also with more herbal tones, camphor, old mint liqueur, tobacco and then many coastal notes, seashells, seaweed… It's not a 1972 but we aren't that far. Goes on with a little mustard, maybe even horseradish, ashes, coal, hay, apple peeling and a little lemon… Typical! With water: perfect! It became superbly gamy, extremely tertiary (old liqueurs, various spice mixes, quite some coriander)… And with a superb vegetal smoke (garden bonfire). Some nose! Mouth (neat): huge, heavy, citrusy, herbal and very peppery. It's massive whisky and I like it quite… massively. Huge concentration. More green apples and walnuts after a few seconds. With water: becomes very leafy, earthy, quite bitter, a little acrid and rough… Now, all that goes well with this kind of profile. Maybe a little too much green oak at this point. Finish: long, bitter and herbal. Peated Jaegermeister. Comments: quite a beast, with a heavy herbal and grassy side, but it remains absolutely excellent all along. And this one swims like Mark Spitz (or Michael Phelps if you're too young to remember Mark Spitz ;-)). SGP:366 - 92 points.

And now, after a little break, let's have the two last (if I'm not mistaken) 1972s by Gordon & MacPhail. I strongly believe that these whiskies are the best ever bottled at 40% vol., for example I scored the 1972/1995 95 points and it even defeated last year's official 35 yo (WF 94). But hey, one man's opinion... So, while waiting for a 'not impossible' official 40 yo to come…

Brora 1972/1996 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice)

Brora 1972/1996 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: bottled bliss. It's an extremely complex and elegant smoky whisky, at a perfect age. What's really striking is the combination of a perfect 'precision' with an incredible wideness, which is something that's very difficult to achieve for any spirit or wine. So we have a slightly rounded floweriness (dandelions, pollen), a profound smokiness that combines coal and peat, these tropical fruits that appear in old peaters when they reach a perfect age (especially old Laphroaig and Ardbeg), an incredible herbal side with almost everything you'd find in the most high-end of the most high-end cough syrups for millionaires (c'mon, S.!) and then this mid-farmy, mid-coastal profile that screams Brora. Oysters and hay? All that remains elegant all along, never aggressive, and that's not only because of the low strength. Mouth: you'd think it's a gentle dram but that feeling will last for only a fraction of a second because what happens next is almost a peat blast. It's a waxy, greasy and maybe even herbal kind of peatiness, rather dry, with then bags of ashes, apple peeling and smoked tea (lapsang souchong). Also touches of mustard, maybe salicornia (wikipedia tells us you can also say sea asparagus in English) and then more salty liquorice. It's a deep one, really, too bad it tends to become a little drying, which makes it lose one or two points in my book. Finish: medium, salty and dry. Slightly bitter aftertaste. Again, not the best part. Comments: huge whisky, I love it, sadly it lost it a bit around the finish. But it's well a true Brora 1972. SGP:367 - 90 points.

Brora 1972/1997 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice)

Brora 1972/1997 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: we'll keep this short and sweet since this one's obviously very close to the previous 1972. Whether it's the extra year of maturation or not, not too sure but this one's a little bigger, with a little more vanilla and butterscotch, more almonds and walnuts as well… But I'm splitting hairs, we're obviously very close, it's only a notch bigger and rounder. Let's move on if you don't mind… Mouth: exactly the same feeling. Bigger but also rather sootier and ashier, so it's almost a peat monster. A little more cinnamon too and then a medicinal side that was rather more discreet in the 72/96. Iodine. The salty side is quite impressive too, sea urchins? Joking. Salted smoked almonds (not joking). Finish: a notch longer than the previous one's, very salty, smoky, a tad sour (raw cider), with always these almondy touches in the aftertaste. Comments: a little trouble again at the finish but otherwise, what a glorious old Brora again, even if it's probably not the easiest Scotch whisky ever. Ha ha. SGP:367 - 91 points.

(with many thanks to Alexander and Mariska at whiskysample.nl and Morten)

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

 

 

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April 2013 - part 1 <--- April 2013 - part 2 ---> May 2013 - part 1


 

 

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

Ardmore 21 yo 1992/2013 (49,7%, The Whiskyman, 175 bottles)

Ardmore 1991/2013 (53.8%, Malts of Scotland, rum barrel, cask #MoS 13018, 234 bottles)

Brora 30 yo 1976/2007 (55.1%, Douglas Laing, Platinum, 104 bottles)

Brora 1972/1996 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice)

Brora 1972/1997 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice)

Dunaverty 12 yo (43%, OB, Eaglesome Ltd, 100% Pure Malt, +/-1975)

Glengoyne 24 yo 1987/2011 (54.8%, OB, European oak sherry, cask #354, 515 bottles)

Imperial 25 yo 1981/2007 (57.2%, Douglas Laing, Platinum, 270 bottles)