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Hi, you're in the Archives, August 2017 - Part 2

       

August 2017 - part 1 <--- August 2017 - part 2 ---> September 2017 - part 1

 

August 31, 2017


Whiskyfun

Glendronach, a sequel tasting

Just because we weren’t completely done last time. I told you, there are many, many single casks everywhere.

Glendronach 19 yo 1995/2015 (55.1%, OB, Whisky Nerds, oloroso sherry butt, cask #2380, 628 bottles)

Glendronach 19 yo 1995/2015 (55.1%, OB, Whisky Nerds, oloroso sherry butt, cask #2380, 628 bottles) Three stars Colour: coffee. Nose: another one that’s very ‘old-Macallan’. Prunes, raisins, honey, dried figs, milk chocolate… Then bergamots and kumquats, and a smidgen of dried porcini. With water: raisins and that new pack of Camels. Mouth (neat): rather sweet, with some honey, some pepper, some oranges, and a wee fizzy filling of ginger tonic. Perhaps a tad raw, this one. With water: a wee tad Fanta-ish. Finish: medium, with more ginger tonic and Fanta. A little soapy earth in the aftertaste, perhaps. Comments: good, but may lack polish and roundness. For the hipflask. SGP:561 - 80 points.

Glendronach 23 yo 1993/2016 (53.3%, OB, for China, oloroso sherry butt, cask #388)

Glendronach 23 yo 1993/2016 (53.3%, OB, for China, oloroso sherry butt, cask #388) Four stars Colour: deep amber. Nose: our Chinese friends have got some good ones, it seems. This one has tinned peaches, raisins, honey, maple syrup, ripe mirabelles, and once again, notes of Sauternes. Did anyone add any Sauternes indeed? With water: a few teas and plums. That works. Mouth: wonderfully creamy, with some Cointreau, drops of ginger liqueur, pink pepper, and cocoa powder. Classy Glendronach from a very prolific vintage. . With water: gets a tad drier, which isn’t abnormal. Some cinnamon and more plums. Ripe greengages. Finish: medium, and more chocolaty than expected. A little caramel, fudge, and verbena in the aftertaste. Comments: a sweeter one again. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Glendronach 11 yo 2003/2014 (54.8%, OB, for Aroma Taiwan, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #4002, 687 bottles)

Glendronach 11 yo 2003/2014 (54.8%, OB, for Aroma Taiwan, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #4002, 687 bottles) Two stars and a halfA younger one again. Colour: amber. Nose: a little raw, a little kirschy. Eaux-de-vie, then butterscotch and a feeling of new oak. Touches of coconut, then more raisins and tobacco. A little grenadine. With water: cigarettes, oranges, fudge. Mouth (neat): honey and ginger tonic! Another one that’s a little fizzy, and frankly Fanta-ish. With water: oranges, Perrier, fudge. Feels carbonated – almost. Finish: medium, a little grassier. More Fanta in the aftertaste. Comments: fine but perhaps a little too raw and hot for me. Not quite my preferred style of Glendronach. SGP:551 - 79 points.

Let’s insist…

Glendronach 11 yo 2003/2014 (53.9%, OB, for Aroma Taiwan, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #4008, 678 bottles)

Glendronach 11 yo 2003/2014 (53.9%, OB, for Aroma Taiwan, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #4008, 678 bottles) Three stars Colour: amber. Nose: rather similar, but this one’s got more fudge and butterscotch. A little rounder, with more raisins as well. Dried figs and sultanas. With water: as often, a little earth and a little mint are coming out. Mouth (neat): indeed, more to my liking than cask #4002, even if it is a little spritzig too. Did they add Aperol this time? With water: Fanta! Or Schweppes Lemon? A funny Glendronach for sure, but I wouldn’t say it’s totally up my alley. Finish: medium, with some ginger and more Schweppes over orange juice and sultanas. Comments: a really funny pair, those two 11s. I liked this one a notch better. SGP:651 - 80 points.

Glendronach 19 yo 1993/2012 (58.1%, OB, oloroso sherry butt, cask #467, 613 bottles)

Glendronach 19 yo 1993/2012 (58.1%, OB, oloroso sherry butt, cask #467, 613 bottles) Four stars Cool, oloroso is back. Colour: deep amber. Nose: back to civilisation, with tobacco, dried flowers, leather, orange zests, and those dried porcinis that are rather frequent in these oloroso-ed Glendronachs. A rather perfect nose again. With water: have I mentioned sultanas? Mouth (neat): very good, creamy, with honey and bitter oranges, and, surprisingly, some green curry and some grapefruit. So, it’s a rather zestier one, with a lovely pungency. With water: oranges and honey, plus raisins and stewed mirabelles. Or jam. Finish: medium, creamy, easy, rounded, perhaps a little less full than expected. Comments: all very fine. SGP:651 - 86 points.

Glendronach 21 yo 1995/2016 (54.6%, OB, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #1523, 684 bottles)

Glendronach 21 yo 1995/2016 (54.6%, OB, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #1523, 684 bottles) Four stars Colour: dark amber. Nose: coconut! Then raisins, dried litchis, quince jelly, and our friends the mirabelles. Perhaps whiffs of rose petals, no? With water: doesn’t change much. Whiffs of fresh oak and cinnamon? Mouth (neat): the creaminess of some Cointreau and the spiciness of ginger liqueur. This combo works, though, thanks to some mirabelles and juicy ripe peaches. With water: perfect, this baby swims very well. I used to write ‘this whisky swims like Mark Spitz – or Shirley Babashov’ but I’ve noticed that no one ever remembers either Mark Spitz of Shirley Babashov. Philistines! Finish: medium, rounded, sweet, and very jammy. No off-PX this time, I find this all good. Herbs in the aftertaste, lemon balm… Comments: very happy with this one. Mind you, after, what, around 25 Glendros, this is really becoming hard work. But the end is near… SGP:651 - 87 points.

Glendronach 20 yo 1995/2016 (54.9%, OB, oloroso sherry butt, cask #1709, 673 bottles)

Glendronach 20 yo 1995/2016 (54.9%, OB, oloroso sherry butt, cask #1709, 673 bottles) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: yes oloroso is superior – how many times have I written that? Dried figs, touches of earth, sultanas, chocolate, cappuccino, and hints of natural soap. With water: grasses and herbs. Always welcome in any proper malt whisky that doesn’t want to become, err, say whore-ish. Mouth (neat): excellent! Rich yet firm, with prunes, dried figs, honeydew, more liquorice than in all the others, and a thin slice of cinnamon cake. Very good, and I love this peppery feeling that keeps it elegant and ‘nervous’. With water: I’ll say it, it’s a Macallany one again. You know, the older 18s, early-to-mid 1970s vintages, A.K.A. the better ones. Finish: rather long, slightly floral and honeyed. Verbena and grapefruit in the aftertaste, always a great signature in any greatly balanced malt whisky. Comments: I’m glad and happy (now that was worth it, S.!) SGP:561 - 90 points.

Now remember the name’s reputation was built on the early 1970s vintages (yes, just like at Ardbeg’s) and while many younger vintages were and are great, the quintessential Glendronachs remain, in my opinion, the 1971s. So just to give you an example, let’s have one last bonus…

Glendronach 39 yo 1971/2010 (49.4%, OB, oloroso butt, cask #489, 541 bottles)

Glendronach 39 yo 1971/2010 (49.4%, OB, oloroso butt, cask #489, 541 bottles) Five stars Colour: amber-coffee. Nose: oooh, please call the anti-maltoporn brigade as soon as you have a minute. Honey and jams. Dozens of honeys, and dozens of jams. And lilies, honeysuckle, beef stock, tamarind, a box of cigars, and just a little manure. Amazing nose, this kills all the younger ones, instantly. But let’s not make a big deal of all this… Mouth: this explains why we used to say that Glendronach was a Macallan killer. Not sure it still is, but this kind of juice sure sent many Macs back to whisky school. Amazing sherry, with walnut wine, stewed strawberries, maraschino and even a drop of good Amarone, then marmalade, fruitcake… And all the rest. Didn’t we write we’d keep this short and sweet? Finish: long, and perhaps a notch less entrancing than expected. Loses on point, there! A little dry oak, liquorice, cinnamon, cloves… And less fruits. Truckloads of chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: no, really, it was brilliant. Which makes me think, maybe should we try some proper Macallan again? Agreed? So watch this space… SGP:561 - 92 points.

(Thank you Derek and Keith)

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

 

 

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August 30, 2017


Whiskyfun

Glendronach, seven by seven, part trois

Were you thinking we were done with Glendronach, A.K.A. alt-Macallan? Isn’t this whiskyfun dot com? (oh come on, S.!)

Glendronach 21 yo 1993/2014 (53.6%, OB, for Taiwan, oloroso sherry butt, cask #479, 542 bottles)Glendronach 21 yo 1993/2014 (53.6%, OB, for Taiwan, oloroso sherry butt, cask #479, 542 bottles)

Glendronach 21 yo 1993/2014 (53.6%, OB, for Taiwan, oloroso sherry butt, cask #479, 542 bottles) Three stars Oloroso! Colour: coffee. Nose: a sweeter one again, after the last olorosos we had last time. So pretty wine-soaked (although normal oloroso can’t be sweet), full of raisins and prunes, and slightly earthy, in an appropriate way. Bags of chocolate too. With water: some wood stain, cocoa powder, and used ground coffee. Mouth (neat): surprisingly after the nose, this is really very sweet for an ex-oloroso, and frankly, it’s not oloroso-ish at all, despite these notes of dried mushrooms and walnuts in the background. With water: better. Bitter oranges, raisins, burnt sugar, and cooked wine. I mean, overcooked wine. Finish: medium, sweet and dry at the same time, as if it was hesitating. An ex-PX-oloroso-seasoned butt? Hints of pencil shavings in the aftertaste. Comments: really not too sure about his one, something may have happened. Still really good, though. SGP:551 - 80 points.

Glendronach 25 yo 1990/2015 (51.6%, OB, Pedro Ximenez sherry puncheon, cask #1375, 656 bottles)

Glendronach 25 yo 1990/2015 (51.6%, OB, Pedro Ximenez sherry puncheon, cask #1375, 656 bottles) Five stars From batch #12. Yes we’re late, but there are other whiskies around, mind you. But only PX, yeah… By the way, they make very little PX in Jerez nowadays, so what the Scots are calling ‘PX sherry’ may well not come from Jerez at all. But yeah, who cares? We do! Colour: mahogany. Nose: very nice, actually. Rosewood, porcinis, raspberry ganache, and pu-erh tea. Nothing to complain about so far. With water: nice! Damp clay, cigars, earth, Chinese prune sauce, and, how shall we put this, old overused floor-cloth? Mouth (neat): cream sherry, boletus soup, marmalade, and a touch of gunpowder. Unexpected hints of tinned sardines. Really! With water: really extremely good, this time. Yes I know this is only PX. Salted liquorice, dried fish, and salted almonds, with drops of fig arrak over all that. Finish: long, rather chocolaty, with these wee touches of sea salt again. Comments: ah yes yes yes. But PX, really? SGP:462 - 90 points.

Glendronach 12 yo 2003/2015 (55.8%, OB, oloroso sherry puncheon, cask #4081, 348 bottles)

Glendronach 12 yo 2003/2015 (55.8%, OB, oloroso sherry puncheon, cask #4081, 348 bottles) Three stars Colour: amber. Nose: rather easy, with some pencil shavings mingled with raisins, chocolate, and dried figs, as well as blackberry jam. The oak feels a bit young, bourbon-style. A touch of cured ham. With water: the oak comes out even more. Oak and ham, sounds like a country music band. Mouth (neat): a little harsh, but good. Coffee and marmalade with a wee touch of chalk or clay, then unexpected notes of yoghurt, Greek-style. Blueberry-flavoured yoghurt. With water: some lemon balm coming out. Green oak. Finish: medium, not quite definite. Sour wood, something acetic. Comments: it’s really the ‘sherry’ and the wood that are doing all the work in these Glendronachs. Does the spirit have anything to say? I thought this one was moderately good. SGP:351 - 81 points.

Glendronach 19 yo 1995/2014 (54.1%, OB, for Vive la Vie, oloroso sherry puncheon, cask #78, 583 bottles)

Glendronach 19 yo 1995/2014 (54.1%, OB, for Vive la Vie, oloroso sherry puncheon, cask #78, 583 bottles) Three stars I was just thinking, imagine we had to taste all individual casks that are sleeping over there in Scotland, how long would that take us? Around nine thousand years? You say more? Colour: deep amber. Nose: it’s not that we’re bored, this is not Iggy Pop, but we may have gone over our limits. Raisins, oak, a little earth, a little tea, dried figs, dried dates… This is nice for sure, but just between us, very few of them are giving us a b****r. Apologies. With water: the oak comes out. Ginger and nutmeg, like. Mouth (neat): yeah, good, even very good. Gingerbread this time, marmalade, dried figs, candied ginger… With water: speculoos, gingerbread. Finish: medium, spicier. Nutmeg, cinnamon, nutmeg, cinnamon, nutmeg, cinnamon, nutmeg, cinnamon, Comments: we may have touched the limits of the concept of ‘single cask’. SGP:451 - 81 points.

I don’t want to bore you to death, and I think we need a break (at time of tasting). These sessions, however good the whiskies are, can be as boring as watching a dozen episodes of Inspektor Derrick in a row, mind you. So we’ll go on a little later…

… One whole day passes… And we’re back, with…

Glendronach 21 yo 1993/2014 (58.1%, OB, for Beija-Flor and Silver Seal, oloroso sherry butt, cask #35, 605 bottles)

Glendronach 21 yo 1993/2014 (58.1%, OB, for Beija-Flor and Silver Seal, oloroso sherry butt, cask #35, 605 bottles) Four stars and a half So, what did we say again? Ah yes, that oloroso worked better than PX… Colour: deep amber. Nose: classic, and rather Macallany. Quinces, dates, figs, raisins, cigarette tobacco, fudge, touches of herbs… This is nice. With water: touches of earth, tobacco, and leather. Nothing to complain about. Mouth (neat): really very Macallany. Figs, black chocolate, raisins, toasted brioche, drops of maple syrup… All goes very well here. With water: chocolate up, tea as well. Finish: rather long, and quite bright thanks to all these oranges that are coming to the rescue. Comments: an excellent Macallan, no doubt about that. I mean, an excellent Glendronach. SGP:551 - 89 points.

Glendronach 20 yo 1994/2014 (58.8%, OB, for Whisky Live Tokyo 2014, oloroso sherry butt, cask #44, 595 bottles)

Glendronach 20 yo 1994/2014 (58.8%, OB, for Whisky Live Tokyo 2014, oloroso sherry butt, cask #44, 595 bottles) Four stars Colour: amber. Nose: some minerality in this one, a little gunpowder and flints, then rather leather, prunes, and tobacco. Drier than the previous one, with also some dried beef and a wee drop of soy sauce. With water: cigars! Mouth (neat): rather big, with a lot of bitter oranges, and a wee sourness in the background. Sour apples, green pears… This one’s a tad rough, perhaps. With water: gets both smoother and even fruitier. Oranges as marmalade, as zests, and as juice. Fresh orange juice. Finish: rather long, and more honeyed. Hints of old Sauternes. Comments: all fine, really. SGP:451 - 86 points.

Glendronach 20 yo 1995/2016 (56.2%, OB, for China, oloroso sherry butt, cask #3033)

Glendronach 20 yo 1995/2016 (56.2%, OB, for China, oloroso sherry butt, cask #3033) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: this one’s very different, as it would rather start with ripe apricots and touches of rubber (rubber bands), before it becomes superbly tobacco-ish. Walnut wine, black earth, lovage, barbecue, perhaps a drop of miso soup or Thai bouillon… With water: gravel, soot, cigars, apricots, and more miso soup. Mouth (neat): those apricots again! Stewed, in pies, on tartes, as jams, nothing but apricots. The fact is, I love apricots. With water: same-ish, with touches of honey. Tastes a bit like a Sauternes finish that worked very well. How bizarre, eh! Finish: medium, creamy, and you guessed it, very apricoty. More honey in the aftertaste. Comments: so, really, oloroso? SGP:651 - 90 points.

(Thank you Derek)

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

 

 

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August 29, 2017


Whiskyfun

Glendronach, seven by seven, part deux

More randomness, our noses in the wind… (and our eyes along the skyline…)

Glendronach 19 yo 1995/2015 (55.4%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #4028, 697 bottles)

Glendronach 19 yo 1995/2015 (55.4%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #4028, 697 bottles) Three stars and a half Another full puncheon. A simple finishing or not? Well… Colour: amber. Nose: sweeter, rounder, and fruitier than Whiskybase’s (no big feat, I agree). An old bottle of Grand-Marnier, some black tea, some sour dried fruits (longans or litchis), and some kind of gently smoked raisins. With water: wet fabric, a little soot, and a funny mixture that would involve crushed strawberries and black earth. Mouth: all oriental pastries and bags and bags of raisins, plus just the right amount of cracked pepper. Perhaps a little ‘too much’, but water will tell… With water: does the job, really. Certainly not the worse PX-ed malt ever. Have I mentioned raisins? Finish: medium, sweet, and really very sultana-y. Right. Comments: very good, but you have to like raisins. I mean, to love raisins. No, to worship raisins. SGP:641 - 83 points.

I’ve heard they were selling more PX in whisky than as proper wines these days… What fake news?

Glendronach 24 yo 1990/2014 (52.9%, OB, 11th batch, Pedro Ximenez, cask #1162, 660 bottles)

Glendronach 24 yo 1990/2014 (52.9%, OB, 11th batch, Pedro Ximenez, cask #1162, 660 bottles) Three stars and a halfIt’s to be wondered if one couldn’t continually use the same few puncheons or butts and re-season them between each and every uses. Could one do that? Colour: amber/mahogany. Nose: old Cognac again. Raisins, wax-polished wood, old Sauternes, orange and apple compote, banana flambéed, wet earth. Nothing to complain about so far. With water: old waxes, that’s all rather fine. Mouth (neat): would someone mature marmalade and other jams and chutneys in wood? Fig wine, raisins, raisins, and raisins. Super-sweet wine… Right, PX. With water: a tad monolithic, with raisins and oranges, then coriander. Then raisins again, and touches of spicy oak. Finish: medium, with this typical wee sourness. Sour fruits, raisins, yada, yada… Comments: I’m about to write that all these PX-ed ‘dronachs can get a little tiring. SGP:561 - 83 points.

Quick, I’m begging you, some oloroso!

Glendronach 14 yo 1994/2009 (58.5%, OB, for Parker’s Whisky, oloroso puncheon, cask #2311, 596 bottles)

Glendronach 14 yo 1994/2009 (58.5%, OB, for Parker’s Whisky, oloroso puncheon, cask #2311, 596 bottles) Two stars There, oloroso! Colour: gold. Nose: this is completely different, more metallic, dry, with some engine oil, smoked fish, hay, bitter caramel, olive oil, brine… With water: green oils, I would say. Barbour grease, grape pip oil… Mouth (neat): really extremely unusual, this is almost mezcal. Brine, sour olives, propolis… A lot of propolis, actually. Not an easy one, it tends to become bitter and even a tad soapy, but there are greater aspects. This green lemon, for example, or the green peppercorns. With water: no, water makes it very grassy. Takes your tongue and will never give it back to you. Finish: long, bitter, pungent. Unusual salty/lemony aftertaste. Comments: I’d have never said this was Glendronach. Extreme sensations, perhaps for ironmen (and women) only ? SGP:372 - 75 points.

So much for oloroso!... But let’s dig even deeper in the library…

Oh, perhaps the indies?...

Glendronach 10 yo 1988/1999 (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, sherrywood, 222 bottles)

Glendronach 10 yo 1988/1999 (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection, sherrywood, 222 bottles) Three stars At least, we won’t know about whether it’s PX or oloroso. Phew… Colour: gold. Nose: we all love the nakedness of those older Cadenheads, even if some were closer to rocket fuel. In this case, there is a kerosene-y side indeed, surely some sunflower oil, and some kind of juice made out of pressed hay and orange skins. Plus a touch of bicycle inner tube. Mouth: good, its good. The sherry’s anecdotal here, we’re rather finding more hay and grass, many fruit peelings, and some kinds of green spices, hard to describe. Coriander leaves? Lovage? Finish: medium, really very grassy. Comments: right, this was not a total winner, and there was no sherry in sight, but at least it gave us a break. SGP:352 - 80 points.

Glendronach 11 yo 2003/2014 (55.3%, OB, for Taiwan, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #4006, 690 bottles)

Glendronach 11 yo 2003/2014 (55.3%, OB, for Taiwan, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #4006, 690 bottles) Three stars and a half PX again! Colour: amber. Nose: ah, yes, nice. Not an avalanche of raisins this time, rather bags of very ripe apricots, perhaps quinces, and possibly baklavas. Not a stuffy nose at all this time, there’s even some kind of, say elegance. With water: croissants aux amandes! And orange blossom! Mouth (neat): sweet and, frankly, a little liqueury. Raisins and triple-sec (which is anything but sec, as you may well know), rose liqueur, tinned litchis… You have to stand this! It’s got a wee middle-oriental side, I have to say. Rosewater. With water: puts it straighter, but it’s still sweet. Orange liqueurs, and some cinnamony oakiness. Finish: medium, rounded. Cinnamon rolls covered with Cointreau. Comments: it’s good, it’s certainly very good, even if it feels a little, say ‘engineered’. SGP:641 - 83 points.

O-lo-ro-so please!

Glendronach 21 yo 1993/2014 (56.4%, OB, for Kenny Hsu Taiwan, oloroso sherry butt, cask #477, 589 bottles)

Glendronach 21 yo 1993/2014 (56.4%, OB, for Kenny Hsu Taiwan, oloroso sherry butt, cask #477, 589 bottles) Five stars Some stuff from the Malt Maniacs Awards. And it’s o-lo-ro-so, for crying out loud. Colour: coffee. Nose: yeah, coffee, earth, cigars, walnuts, smoked meats, black raisins. Riiiight up our alley. With water: some -ols from the oak. Fir needles and stuff. Mouth (neat): perfect. Coffee, Chinese black mushrooms, pepper, cigars, one prune. This one’s much more armagnacqy than cognacqy. Yeah, whatever that means. With water: gets really complex. Walnut stain, old oloroso, sweet mustard, pipe tobacco, even a touch of salt. Even a little horseradish. Finish: long, dry, with loads of chocolate and a touch of salt. Perfect combination. Comments: we’re flying much higher this time. Love this kind of chocolate. SGP:462 - 90 points.

So we said seven at a time, while we’re only at six… Frankly, we couldn’t go back to PX today, so…

Glendronach 24 yo 1991/2016 (55.3%, OB, for China, oloroso sherry butt, cask #2860)

Glendronach 24 yo 1991/2016 (55.3%, OB, for China, oloroso sherry butt, cask #2860) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: this seems to be ex-refill, and not finished. We won’t complain, in case you’re wondering. Bags of vanilla pods (say from Madagascar), whiffs of artisanal marzipan (not Aldi stuff that won the Best-Marzipan-In-The-World Award, mind you) and a very complex assortment of aromas, with a little sea air, cut flowers, minty herbs, and only one fresh green walnut. Lovely, really. With water: starts to resemble that Cadenhead we had a few minutes ago. A tad austere. Mouth (neat): rather more difficult. Some green, almost plastic-like flavours, stems and leaves, grapefruit skin, and quite some green pepper. Glendronach minus wine, this. There are good sides and more difficult ones. With water: yes! Water was needed indeed, and here comes this old Highlands style, with waxes, minerals, and many herbs. Still not very sexy, but this baby’s having some talent for repartee. It just needed water. Finish: long, dry, wonderfully austere. Comments: this baby reminded me of the older official 12, but not the sherried version. What was the name again? Was it Traditional or was it Original? Ooh my head… SGP:561 - 87 points.

(Thank you Derek, Greg, Nicolas, Paul, Werner)

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

 

 

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August 28, 2017


Whiskyfun

Glendronach, seven by seven, part uno

My dear grandmother used to say that that “abondance de biens ne nuit pas”, which means that plenty is no plague. That’s certainly the case with Glendronach, thanks to their numerous single cask expressions that one can find, well, just anywhere, from Hong-Kong to Buenos Aires. Quite. A few examples? Better get ready… And as we do more and more often, we’ll do them randomly, carefully avoiding the very old ones, which we’ll have much nearer to Christmas. But we will start this with a little apéritif…

Glendronach 8 yo (45.7GL, OB, German import, +/-1972)

Glendronach 8 yo (45.7GL, OB, German import, +/-1972) Five stars We all know these old dumpies could be just stupendous, don’t we… Colour: pale gold. Nose: iron and mangos, old copper coins and passion fruits, the softest sultanas and the most wonderful papayas. Not much to add, this is as glorious as expected. Mouth: difficult to describe. Imagine some kind of healthy juice containing avocado juice, mangos and papayas, drops of seawater, a touch of cough syrup, and really a lot of Timut pepper. That’s it, Timut pepper! Some kind of ueber-tertiary evolution for sure. The strength is perfect. Finish: long, and always on Timut pepper, but if you do not know what it is, Timut pepper is one of the fruitiest peppers there are. It’s great with prawns/crab and grapefruit, but I digress… Comments: one of those bottles that anyone should have bought at auctions fifteen years ago. OMG they were cheap! SGP:562 - 90 points.

Glendronach 12 yo ‘Original’ (43%, OB, +/-2016)

Glendronach 12 yo ‘Original’ (43%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars A rather affordable expression we’re following very often. Colour: gold. Nose: raisins, fruity hop, ale, apple pie, overripe pears, and very ripe damson plums, or rather those excellent tartes made thereof. I used to find a little menthol in Glendronach 12, but not this time. Mouth: good malty/raisin arrival, rather tenser than other official Glendronachs, with more fruity/malty ale, roasted pecans, and touches of liquorice roots. Less dry than earlier expressions, I’d say. Finish: rather long, and rather on oranges and raisins. Cloves in the aftertaste. Comments: I find it a little smoother than usual, but maybe am I getting tougher. Of course not. SGP:551 - 82 points.

Glendronach 14 yo 'Virgin Oak Finish' (46%, OB, +/-2016)

Glendronach 14 yo 'Virgin Oak Finish' (46%, OB, +/-2016) Two stars We did try it when it first came out in 2010, and thought t was okayish (WF 78). Isn’t it funny that while the older distillers used to claim that Scotch and new oak just couldn’t work together, they’ve almost all got some virgin oak these days? Colour: gold. Nose: well, it is a little plankish, with some sawdust, cinnamon, nutmeg and indeed quite some vanilla. Funny hints of redcurrants in the back, where do they come from? There’s a marginally oloroso-y side too. Eh? Mouth: no, it’s too woody for me. A feeling of having forgotten your tea in the teapot. The day before yesterday. A lot of oak pepper. Finish: long, acrid, very oaky. That would be green oak. Perhaps oranges in the aftertaste, but that’s too late. Comments: really not my cup of tea. Precisely, tea! SGP:371 - 72 points.

Let’s get serious…

Glendronach 21 yo 'Parliament' (48%, OB, +/-2016)

Glendronach 21 yo 'Parliament' (48%, OB, +/-2016) Four stars Colour: amber. Nose: some class and classy dry sherry at first, with roasted pecans and caramelised walnuts as well as various raisins, from the palest to the darkest. Behind that, stewed peaches and apricots, plus a little pipe tobacco. One of those whiskies that are getting real close to cognac. Mouth: perhaps just a little winey at first, and quite peppery at that. A feeling of peppered arrak, sour apples, and cardamom. Then the usual raisins and prunes, plus marmalade. Perhaps a tad simple, as if some finishing had been done on it. Not too sure… Finish: rather long, on sour fruits, pepper, and prunes. Green pepper in the aftertaste, with a feeling of dry old Pauillac. Comments: rather fine, just not too complex. And quite easy on the fruits. SGP:361 - 85 points.

Glendronach 12 yo 2003/2015 (56.1%, OB, for Sansibar, Pedro Ximenez sherry puncheon, cask #4630, 375 bottles)

Glendronach 12 yo 2003/2015 (56.1%, OB, for Sansibar, Pedro Ximenez sherry puncheon, cask #4630, 375 bottles) Four stars and a half I’ll say it, I like the oloroso-ed ones better than their PX-ed counterparts. But you never know… Colour: deep gold. Nose: well, it’s a rather oloroso-y PX, if that’s possible. Walnuts, chocolate cake, Ovaltine, earl grey tea (a strong one), and funny whiffs of rose petal and chamomile teas. A touch of turpentine. Oak essence? With water: date liqueur, figs, sultanas, brioche… Mouth (neat): really lovely. Mentholated dried figs and eucalyptussy raisins. I do enjoy this kind of combination that would cure your… cough. With water: really excellent now. Lemon zests, raisins, more figs, and more dates. Finish: long, with this rather wonderful zestiness that really lifts it. So to speak. Comments: I could sip this while watching Breaking Bad. SGP:551 - 89 points.

Perhaps another 2003 (randomly, he said…)

Glendronach 13 yo 2003/2016 (53.9%, OB, for The Duchess, virgin oak hogshead, cask #1751)

Glendronach 13 yo 2003/2016 (53.9%, OB, for The Duchess, virgin oak hogshead, cask #1751) Four stars Another finishing, I wager. Colour: gold. Nose: it is sweeter oak this time, with the anticipated (well, expected) vanilla and rather a lot of herbal teas, from the usual chamomile to verbena. Plus maple syrup, roasted raisins, and just all-flower honey. Warning, water may totally change it, in my experience. With water: it rather does, with more banana skin and other fruit peelings. In short, it gets drier. Mouth (neat): really good, easy, with some vanilla and lemon balm, candied grapefruit, and perhaps dried apricots. With water: more sawdust – nothing abnormal -  and banana/lemon. Typical, and rather good. Finish: medium, with a little more sour wood. Not sure you should water this one down. Comments: not bad at all for virgin oak. Not quite some lumberjack whisky! SGP:651 - 85 points.

Glendronach 19 yo 1995/2015 (54.2%, OB, for Whiskybase, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask # 3804, 694 bottles)

Glendronach 19 yo 1995/2015 (54.2%, OB, for Whiskybase, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #3804, 694 bottles) Three stars Lots of bottles, that’s a real puncheon. Colour: amber. Nose: there. Age does matter. More complex, with some coffee, tobacco, damp earth, old leather (grandpa’s bomber in the attic), garden peat, barbecued steak, cigars… This, I really like. PX, really? With water: cigars! Wee whiffs of manure, soy sauce, beef stock… Mouth (neat): the sweeter side, but it does work, despite a few unnecessary asperities here and there (right, it’s a little rough). Marmalade, sour fruits, chlorophyll. With water: sour bouillons, green tannins, and a feeling of crunching lime. Not sure it swims too well, it becomes a little acetic and aggressive. Finish: rather long, good when naked, odd when reduced. Comments: water is your enemy this time, however unpleasant that might have seemed to dear Fela Kuti. SGP:452 - 82 points.

This is the end of Part One. See you soon with seven more Glendronachs. Or fourteen. Or twenty-one. Or more. We’ll see what we still have…

(Thank you Angus)

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

 

 

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August 27, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  

Assorted Rums

Lets go hunting for Malternatives. In no particular order and in somewhat quickfire fashion...

 

Albion 1983/2000 (40%, Velier, Guyana, casks #552 – 556) Albion 1983/2000 (40%, Velier, Guyana, casks #552 – 556) The name Albion can be confusing as at the time this was made it would most likely refer to distillate from a specific type of still (some say metal Savalle, others say wooden column) being made at a different distillery. In this case most likely Diamond which is the only remnant distillery still operating in Guyana. Colour: you could really be forgiven for thinking this was a mid-aged malt whisky. These notes of natural brown sugar sweetness mixed with freshly baked brown bread and more savoury notes of lemon peel and elegant medicinal qualities are quite beguiling to a nose used to malt whisky. It’s really quite an emphatic nose which is probably about as fat and rich as a 40% abv spirit can be. A little whiff of tropical fruit and a few notes of raisin and treacle as well. Mouth: more evidently Guyanese on delivery. Chunky, earthy, savoury and supple medicinal notes balance with sweeter brown sugar syrup notes. Then bitters, spices and some natural tar liqueur. Some further notes of melon, starfruit and bitter orange peel. Finish: Warming and surprisingly good length considering the strength. A touch of TCP, pastry and molasses. Comments: Quite a historic spirit I think, and a perfect way to start a rum session. Although, I’d have killed to taste this at cask strength. SGP: 632 - 89 points.  

 

Caroni 18 yo 1997 (46%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Trinidad) Caroni 18 yo 1997 (46%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Trinidad) Colour: Rosewood. Nose: A deep and bass-like tarryness at first nosing. Oily, fat, emphatic; Caroni basically. A big earthiness as well. Some notes of pipe tobacco, furniture polish, wood resins, assorted dried spices and various medicinal notes which give an impression of elegance and complexity. Some notes of ripe banana, tinned pineapple, black pepper and a little cocoanut water. Mouth: Similarly big, greasy and tarry on delivery. Although, I feel the bottling strength has been a real asset here. As much as I’d love to taste this at cask strength you get the impression the water has kind of fused everything together rather perfectly. There’s a warmth of spice, clean wood resins that nibble but don’t bite and something akin to a very delicate rancio. Black tea, molasses syrup, greengages and a lick of sea salt. More notes of tar liqueur, blood orange, Demerara sugar and something like pine resin. Finish: Long! Still heavy on the tar, medicine, wood spice and some liquorice. In the distance a screaming car tyre or two. Comments: A terrific Caroni. Well done Berry Bros! I feel it’s an exceptionally pure example of the distillate captured at a perfect age and bottle strength. Be careful with this one! SGP: 543 - 90 points.  

 

Bellevue 18 yo 1997 (46%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Guadeloupe) Bellevue 18 yo 1997 (46%, Berry Brothers & Rudd, Guadeloupe) Nose: Small similarities and huge differences to the Caroni. We’ve plunged head first into a dunder pit on Guadeloupe - pure agricole! These stunning combinations of tropical fruit syrups, earthy funk and the most beautiful natural sweetness - an ancient 5 Puttonyos Tokaji with a dusting of burnt Demerara sugar. Bananas, pineapples, a little medicine, some brake fluid, diesel oil and then a leafier side that’s back towards cane syrup and earthiness again. It veers around with great elegance and precision this one, you really have to keep up! Ground pepper, banana skins, caraway, some assorted cocktail bitters and dark chocolate. Mouth: Esters galore! This kind of clean rubbery note arrives and quickly subdues to more of these soft tropical fruits, dunder, a little rosewater, wood spices, the most elegant medicinal tones and a slightly drier manifestation of these Demerara and molasses notes from the nose. Some greengages, some tar, a fresh wild strawberry or two and more assorted, syrupy fruit notes. Finish: Long with sustained and echoing notes of medicine, sweetness, overripe fruits and a prickle of spice. Comments: Hats of Berry Brothers! One of the best Bellevues I’ve had in ages. And to think it’s only around £85 or something like that. Puts many current bottlings of malt whiskies of similar age to shame. SGP: 722 - 92 points.  

 

Lets hop over to the SMWS...  

 

Foursquare 14 yo 2002 (57.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Barbados, #R6.1, ‘Spice at the races’, refill barrel, 210 bottles) Foursquare 14 yo 2002 (57.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Barbados, #R6.1, ‘Spice at the races’, refill barrel, 210 bottles) Colour: white wine. Nose: simpler than the Caroni or the Bellevue. The fruit is there but its simpler and feels a little more ‘functional’ perhaps. Dates, bananas, some cactus and a little bamboo even! Some white pepper, a little mint - enough that it could make a fun Mojito - brown sugar and some fruit cake. With water: works a treat. Becomes oilier, drier and more towards a medicinal character with these little notes of hospital gauze and carbolic soap. Mouth: Good! A lively and punchy combination of pina colada, cocoanut, pineapple juice, sugar syrup. It’s a very easy going style, nicely balanced and not too sweet. Reminiscent of those fruit salad sweets we used to have in the UK (I’m sure you can still find them). Goes on with a little tar, some root beer and even a slightly spicy mead note. Some notes of aspirin, cornflour and then more sugary notes. With water: green, grassy, more cactus, some dried herbs a little motor oil and some green tea. Finish: Good length and surprisingly dry. A lovely green, estery fruitiness with a little lanolin and lamp oil. Comments: An excellent easy going, easy drinking Foursquare. It’s easy to see why this has become such a popular distillery amongst rum/whisky enthusiasts. You’d be tempted to mix this or sip it over ice but it’s also very delicious by itself. Dangerously quaffable as it’s now become somewhat cliched to say. SGP: 631 - 87 points.  

 

Hampden 16 yo 2000 (52.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Jamaica, #R7.2, ‘Jamaica me crazy’, refill barrel, 199 bottles) Hampden 16 yo 2000 (52.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Jamaica, #R7.2, ‘Jamaica me crazy’, refill barrel, 199 bottles) Colour: Light gold. Nose: Wooft! Dunder, earth, medicine, wax, spice, diesel oil, shipping containers! We’re as in Jamaica as it’s possible to be! The medicine in the this is so concentrated it’s almost a hospital smoothie! Minerals, gravel, cocoanut milk, vanilla pods, burnt brown sugar, something almost Tequila-esque with this green, agave kind of aroma. Kerosene, diesel, petrol, a classic car repair garage! What a nose! With water: lighter, leafier, oilier; the medicine is subdued and kind of spread out in a way that just increases the complexity. Some aged dry madeira, tool boxes and bicycle inner tubes. Mouth: full on Jamaica! Hugely oily, medicinal, estery, dundery and intense. Baked earth, smoked wood (is that a thing), even briny aspects such as kippers and green peppercorns, some freshly baked wholemeal bread, Demerara sugar of the highest quality, TCP, antiseptic... gah! The list goes on... (is there a rumporn brigade Serge? Do they accept reverse charge calls from the UK?). Gets increasingly savoury with these beautiful notes of dried rosemary, black olives and anchovies in olive oil. With water: tar, beef stock, over-brewed tea, a stray sardine or two and a glug of olive oil. Finish: Amazing length, freshness, intensity and myriad echoing of all the above flavours. Totally brilliant! Comments: I probably shouldn’t be surprised given just how terrific Hampden can be, but this one kind of blew my socks off a bit. Needless to say: well done SMWS! What a magnificent rum. And what a Malternative! SGP: 544 - 93 points.  

 

Trinidad Distillers 25 yo 1991 (63.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Trinidad, #R10.1, ‘Carnival concerto’, refill barrel, 228 bottles) Trinidad Distillers 25 yo 1991 (63.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Trinidad, #R10.1, ‘Carnival concerto’, refill barrel, 228 bottles) Trinidad Distillers are the company behind Angostura rums as well as millions of litres of spirit that goes into all manner of other Rum brands and blends around the world. The base is molasses which is distilled through columns. Now, of course, immense size doesn’t mean diminutive quality... Colour: Deep gold. Nose: Ouch! Unexpectedly there’s a not insignificant prickle of alcohol. Beneath that you have vanilla pods, some wood varnish, a whiff of creosote, some sawdust. But really it’s pretty tight and closed up. I think water is called for early here... with water: glycerine, some herbal toothpaste, more vanilla, sawdust, workshops. A little sunflower oil and some very faint, indistinct fruitiness that comes across more as bubblegum than anything else. Mouth: Hmmm. It’s a tough one. Wood glue, varnish, shoe polish, a lick of medicine, some gomme syrup. But really it’s dominated by intense pepper and alcohol at first. Again water is really obligatory here... with water: it’s still pretty tough it has to be said. Raw wood shavings, pencils, strawberry liqueur, sugar syrup, a tiny lick of tar, some caraway. By and large though this is pretty extracted. Gets quite acrid towards the end and there’s a stodgy vanilla lump right in the mid-palate which is hard to get around really. Hard work! Finish: Medium length but fades quickly. Various notes of tea, more wood shavings and a little more vanilla. Comments: Not my cup of rum I’m afraid. The dodgy grain whisky of rum. The Hampden utterly destroys this one. I probably should have had this first but hey ho... SGP: 611 - 72 points.  

 

Back to Caroni...  

 

Caroni 15 yo 1999/2016 (45%, Alambic Classique, Trinidad, cask #15706, 221 bottles) Caroni 15 yo 1999/2016 (45%, Alambic Classique, Trinidad, cask #15706, 221 bottles) Colour: Mahogany. Nose: Ahh! It’s really a world apart from the TD. We’re back in this marvellously tarry, briny and earthy world of grease, various mechanical oils, workshops, black olives, dried herbs, cured fish and a mix of creosote and tarry old rope. Again there is this wonderful medicinal complexity alongside some very specific seashore and coastal qualities which seem to belong more precisely to rum than to whisky. Although whisky lovers would really find sibling qualities in this to old Islay whiskies - particularly old Ardbegs or some of the drier Lagavulins. Goes on with various exotic hardwoods, assorted spices and some tropical hints of mango and pineapple. Mouth: the phrase that comes to mind is ‘hot climate’. This really feels like the best example of hot climate maturation, and the bottling strength - as in the Berry Bros - really works here. There is a thickness and syrupyness to the distillate that is totally compelling. There’s even something Bourbon-esque about the sweetness and spiciness of the wood. Tar, wood resins, liquorice, menthol, various green fruits, banana skins, various oils. Beautiful complexity and quite devastating drinkability. The woodiness is perfectly balanced by the drier and more medicinal aspects of the distillate, it treads a perfect tightrope. More notes of black olive, anchovy, pine resin and smoked meats. Finish: Wonderfully long. An undulating reveal of tar, antiseptic, black pepper, brine, wood spices and camphor. Comments: I’m not normally as evangelical about Caroni as others seem to be but it’s hard to see this as anything other than totally brilliant. Probably the perfect jumping off Malternative for the serious whisky lover who is yet to be convinced by rum. SGP: 444 - 91 points.  

 

Caroni 1989/2016 (52.5%, Isla Del Ron, cask #IdR015, 152 bottles) Caroni 1989/2016 (52.5%, Isla Del Ron, cask #IdR015, 152 bottles) Colour: Amber. Nose: This one is lighter and a little more subdued than the late 1990s Caronis. More on diesel oil, esters and this curiously dundery note of slightly overripe fruit. Very soft notes of camphor, paraffin, dunnage and even something rather ‘dungy’ in a positive farmyard sense. Digging deeper there is a wee mix of green fruits, brown sugar and some mustard powder. With water: Still oddly subdued and elegant on the nose with water. Some curious notes of lilies and wildflowers with a little cut grass, some mechanical notes and ink. With time it starts to become really quite funky with these big notes of plasticine, farmyard, tar and some smoked meads. Mouth: Wow! Wasn’t expecting that! You can almost feel it glueing your teeth together! This is some fat, syrupy, earthy, tropical farmyard juice. More towards this high ester style with biting wood spice, a massive whack of creosote and then more tar, rope and gravel. You could probably use this to make bombs or something. With water: still sticky, fat and thick. You could stand a wooden spoon up in this stuff. Tar liqueur, gasoline, mentholated tobacco, banana syrup. It’s a bit of a beast this one. Finish: Long and remaining on this kind of sticky, very funky style. Comments: Quite a departure from the precision and very obvious beauty of the other Caronis we’ve tasted today. I find this one excellent and very entertaining but also a little tough. It’s a hard one to score... SGP: 474 - 87 points (for the record only really).  

 

Let’s finish with a final, exceedingly random ‘thing’. Something fun and totally whacky...  

 

Old Club Whisky (43%, South Pacific Distilleries Ltd, Fine Old Vatted Malt Whisky with Fiji Cane Spirit, bottled 1980s) Old Club Whisky (43%, South Pacific Distilleries Ltd, Fine Old Vatted Malt Whisky with Fiji Cane Spirit, bottled 1980s) What devilment yonder lies...? Colour: Gold. Rather surprisingly this isn’t too bad. It’s got a strangely pleasant balance between the medicine of the rum and the sootiness of the malt. I mean, who knows what on earth the alchemy behind this is but whatever the mix the result is green olives, some brine, a few oils, some peppery notes and pleasingly resinous and camphory side. Add to that a sliver of lemon peel, some coal dust and a raisin or two and you have a surprisingly aromatic dram. Mouth: Something is wrong. This is still good. The whisky really dominates. There’s some peat, green fruits, tar, a little muesli and some candied citrus peel. Goes on with some metallic notes and a sense of dustiness, typical gentle OBE in other words. You could say this was a good old blended whisky with a high malt content and get away scot free I’d say - or even a pure malt, which it kind is. But also totally isn’t. A little mineral note and some fruity floral aspects emerge towards the back of the palate. Finish: Decent length all things considered. Gently medicinal, a whiff of peat, a few black olives, some brine and tolerable touch of OBE. What on earth is this thing!? Comments: Well, who knew! Maybe we should all start bulk buying Fiji cane spirit and using it as a mixer, after all, it would appear that South Pacific Distilleries Ltd are still active... SGP: 425 - 82 (yes really) points.  

 

Well, what have we learned? By and large that was a terrific session with several stellar Malternatives. Personally I’m starting to ‘get’ this whole Caroni obsession and while I expected some serious quality from the Hampden, I wasn’t quite prepared for the full frontal brilliance of it. Also, I look forward to the Fiji cane spirit investment boom of late 2017...  

 

Thanks to Jonny! (Maybe ask for a commission from the South Pacific Distilleries Ltd...?)  

 

 

 

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August 25, 2017


Whiskyfun

Young whisky and funny drinks

Young stuff from all provenances and from the 'All Kinds' box in WF's librabry. Don’t expect any kind of harmony today, this will be a free-wheeling session. Free, we’re free… But expect the bizarre!

Kingsbarns 2 yo (62.8%, OB, spirit drink, bourbon barrels, 1800 20cl bottles, 2017)

Kingsbarns 2 yo (62.8%, OB, spirit drink, bourbon barrels, 1800 20cl bottles, 2017) Three stars and a half This is Kingsbarns’ brand new quasi-whisky. I’m really curious about it, aren’t you? Colour: white wine. Nose: as expected, this is ale, this is crushed barley, this is porridge, this is pears poached in ginger sauce, and to tell you what I think, this is a little Campari-ish, just nicer than Campari. Sure its youth feels, but always remember what the old Scots used to say, if the newmake (or almost newmake in this case) is too nice, the whisky will be crap. With water: sooty muesli and barnyard after some heavy rain. Mouth (neat): burning pears and pineapples. Enough, enough… With water: orchard fruits galore, ala Aberlour. Pears, plums, apples… All that on a bed of barley. Finish: rather long, with this sooty, almost ashy bed. A very interesting kind of texture and profile. Comments: owners Wemyss were right when they decided to issue this baby baby. I’m reluctant to score it since it isn’t whisky, but I think it’s very good indeed. Fatter than I had thought. SGP:641 - not scored

Good, since that lovely young Kingsbarns wasn’t whisky, let’s try other spirits that aren’t whisky. Just for fun and totally at random…

Starka ‘18’ (40%, OB, aged vodka, Poland, +/-2015)

Starka ‘18’ (40%, OB, aged vodka, Poland, +/-2015) Two stars and a half Not too sure this is 18 years old, it just says ‘18’ (as Zacapa says 23). What’s sure is that it’s rye vodka, batch distilled. Colour: gold. Nose: frankly, this is a tad rough. Bread, roasted chestnuts, charcoal, burnt cake, chocolate, plus drops of balsamico and liquorice essence. I like the earthy side though. Old basement – not obligatory like in horror movies, mind you. Very nice notes of warm gingerbread and marzipan. Mouth: very nice I have to say. Bright, very orangey, and very spicy. Same feeling of spicy gingerbread, caraway, and baked prunes. Cloves. Finish: rather long, rather spicy. Cloves and bitter oranges. Comments: it’s good spirit, and it’s got things to say. I had the 25 yo at 79, we’ll keep the same score for this 18. SGP:651 - 79 points.

Liquid Pearls 13 yo (64.2%, Glen Fahrn, Scottish gin, 330 bottles, 2012)

Liquid Pearls 13 yo (64.2%, Glen Fahrn, Scottish gin, 330 bottles, 2012) My god, gin on Whiskyfun! Why not diesel at Lambo’s! But this has been properly aged, so we have excuses. And it was finished for 1 year in a Port Ellen cask, so we have even better excuses… Colour: gold. Nose: hey?! It’s sweet, it’s got gin’s usual soapiness (as far as I can tell), and it’s extremely medicinal. The best Dutch genever noses like Haig Club in comparison. Violets, lavender, cologne, liquorice. With water – because we must: cinnamon rolls and Cointreau, plus myrtle liqueur. That thing can kill. Mouth (neat): it’s very funny, but it calls for ice. Bitter oranges, plus bitter oranges, plus bitter oranges, then some clove-y mouthwash and the strongest liquorice ever. Triple XXX, more Pearl Harbour than pearls so far. With water: this is almost citron liqueur like they make in Corsica, blended with myrtle. Again, myrtle can kill. Finish: very long, a tad soapy. Violet and liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: not my field at all so I won’t add any comments – and of course score it. Now, I’m sure it’s great. SGP:760 - not scored

Oh well…

Rock Rose (41.5%, OB, Scottish gin, +/-2016)

Rock Rose (41.5%, OB, Scottish gin, +/-2016) The botanicals are Scottish too. This thing is white, so most probably unaged (unless they’ve used glass or stoneware, as they should have). Colour: white. Nose: bath soap and limoncello. Aaaaaall riiiiight. Mouth: limoncello, they reinvented limoncello, in Scotland! Lemon, lemon, and lemon, plus a little soap and cranberries. One cranberry. Finish: medium, soapy, hard. Comments: I mean, it’s not hard, and I’m sure you could get high with it, should you have a lot of ice at hand, but it’s totally not my kind of spirit. I’m even wondering if hipsters like this. Again, I won’t score this, but what’s sure is that the Liquid Pearl were much more complex. SGP:660 - not scored

Le Coeur de Jade (42%, OB, France, wine eau-de-vie, +/-2014)

Le Coeur de Jade (42%, OB, France, wine eau-de-vie, +/-2014) A wine eau-de-vie? Do they mean some unaged fine? I couldn’t find any proper origins, all I know is that this is the base they use to make absinth. Absinth? Colour: white. Nose: ginger, caraway and aniseed. This was flavoured, it’s not proper ‘fine’. But it isn’t unpleasant, even if I would put it into the ‘needs ice desperately’ category right away. Mouth: indeed, flavoured. Actually, it’s some kind of aniseed gin, I’d say. There’s some liquorice too, so maybe is it more like raki or ouzo? Let’s add a little water and see if it gets cloudy as milk… With water: no it does not. Finish: medium, all on aniseed and liquorice. Comments: okkkaaaay. Some kind of pastis that needs no water. I do not like it much, there are some much better pastisses. Or absinths for that matter. SGP:570 - not scored

Wuliangye (52%, OB, China, +/-2010)

Wuliangye (52%, OB, China, +/-2010) This is China’s number one selling spirit, according to some Chinese website. I couldn’t tell. It’s distilled from sorghum, glutinous rice, husked rice, wheat and corn. So it’s like bourbon! I’m joking… We’re also glad to learn, from the Web, that ‘the distilling process involves a complete, unique and strict technology. The raw and auxiliary materials are carefully chosen and proportionally prepared before they are steamed and mixed with yeast. Then they are fermented in sealed cellars and finally distilled to extract liquor’. Colour: white. Nose: why do I think of durian? Is it possible to get these really very rotten smells from grains? Now I have to say that I’ve tried these every time I flew to China, and always rather enjoyed them. They are just very unusual… Mouth: challenging at first, but once you get used to it, you’ll enjoy this highly unlikely mix of sour cheese, rotting fruits, parsley, and coriander. Huge notes of coriander and fennel seeds that would just offset the cheesy flavours. Finish: almost eternal, and that may be the problem. Comté cheese and an armful of lovage. Comments: shall I say that I like this quite a lot? SGP:472 - not scored

Three Barrels ‘VSOP’ (38%, OB, France, brandy, +/-2016)

Three Barrels ‘VSOP’ (38%, OB, France, brandy, +/-2016) Wait, what is this? It’s cheap brandy from various regions of France, that those w***ers at Amazon are selling as Cognac. Of course it’s not Cognac. Even if it’s got ‘a superior smooth and velvety taste’. The end of civilisation, I tell you. Colour: yellow. Yeah not gold, yellow. Nose: awful. Rotten pears and damp cardboard. Mouth: an insult. Doctored, sweetened, ridden with artificial flavouring, and reminiscent of Don Papa (that thing that some rank amongst the rums). Syrup, celery, caraway liqueur. Finish: sadly, it wouldn’t end abruptly, which would have been welcome, as a form of redemption. As Frank Zappa once said, the torture never stops. Comments: utter swill, lab spirit. Avoid at any costs – you now owe me €15 – or a beer. The Wuliangye was so much better! SGP:740 - 15 points.

Eau de Vie de Marc de Pinot Noir (43%, OB, René de Miscault, Alsace, France, +/-2015)

Eau de Vie de Marc de Pinot Noir (43%, OB, René de Miscault, Alsace, France, +/-2015) Two stars So, pressed grapes of Alsatian pinot noir, distilled and matured in oak, hence the colour. A tricky thing, I haven’t tried many that have been to my liking. In Alsace too, oak can kill. Colour: gold. Nose: very grapey, this is true marc indeed, with this gritty and earthy side that can be so lovable, and, good news, no serious oak that I can smell. Really very earthy, with roots. Mouth: I find this really good. Raisins, earth, more raisins, and this slightly kirschy side that screams ‘pinot noir!’ They may have added a little sugar, though. That’s how you can tell between the good distillers and the others in Alsace, at the really good ones you’ll never taste sugar as such. Or only in liqueurs, naturally. Finish: medium, extremely raisiny. Coffee liqueur in the aftertaste. Comments: frustrating. I like the flavours quite a lot, but I hate it that they would have added sugar. Do not! SGP:650 - 76 points.

Millstone 6 yo (48.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 637 bottles)

Millstone 6 yo (48.9%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 637 bottles) Three stars This baby from Zuidam in Dutchland. Right, Holland. I’ve tried some very good ones from Zuidam’s already. Colour: deep gold. Nose: definitely ‘craft’, and ‘world’, and ‘bready’, and ‘spicy’. It’ the kind of whisky some are making in Amerikka too, with good measures of vanilla, butterscotch, cinnamon bread, and caraway liqueur. Love the touches of rhubarb and fern that come out after two minutes. Mouth: there’s a yeasty/milky sourness that you need to get accustomed to, but all the rest is lovely. Cumin bread, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon rolls, spicy toffee, sweet curry, green coffee… No, really, it’s craft and good. Finish: long and spicier yet. Caraway, cloves, cardamom, spicy Christmas bread… Comments: they have access to good barrel makers, and they distil well. Others Millstones have been a little brighter, having said that. SGP:561 - 81 points.

Moonshot Gin ‘Batch 1’ (46.6%, That Boutique-y Gin Company, +/-2017)

Moonshot Gin ‘Batch 1’ (46.6%, That Boutique-y Gin Company, +/-2017) Gin again! I feel shame, shame, shame… It’s all about botanicals again. Smoke or infuse, that seems to be the main dilemma in pre-Brexit UK. Colour: white. Nose: lemon, violets, lavender, rosemary, soap. And a lovely bottle. Mouth: come on. Lemon, soap, lemon, soap, lemon, violet sweets. Finish: lemon and soap, plus juniper berries. Comments: it’s okay on ice. Seriously, I understand the whole idea behind all these gins, and sure the shortest time-to-market is any accountant’s favourite KPI, but I think these things are simply ‘empty’. Oh forget, I’m just harbouring a personal grievance… SGP:670 - not scored

Dornoch Distillery ‘Experimental Batch no.1’ (45.7%, OB, Scottish gin, 2017)

Dornoch Distillery ‘Experimental Batch no.1’ (45.7%, OB, Scottish gin, 2017) Well we’ve got all of Dornoch’s gins, but since I’m no gin guy (as you may have noticed), I’ll only try one just now. Like, no.1. Yes, I didn’t pit my brain. Colour: white. Nose: ah, this is interesting. Turmeric, black earth, juniper berries, cardamom, nutmeg, black radish. It must be thrilling to realise that all these smells and flavours do go through a still. I think I’ll make my own gin soon! (of course not). Mouth: a rather bready, kind of Germanic spicy gin, with cloves, caraway, poppy seeds, then celery, fennel, juniper, and aniseed. I’m not against this. Finish: more radish, horseradish and celery, and rather spicy bread in the aftertaste. Carrots. Comments: I suppose I ought to enjoy this. In a way, I do. Or put it like this, should I enjoy gin, I would like this a lot. SGP:560 - not scored

Wait, horseradish?...

Polugar ‘No.5’ (38.5%, OB, Poland, +/-2015)

Polugar ‘No.5’ (38.5%, OB, Poland, +/-2015) This is, mind you, horseradish vodka. In theory, I should check how they make it, but this session is complicated enough already… Colour: white. Nose: my, horseradish! As an Alsatian, I love horseradish, we have it with choucroute/sauerkraut, with Strasbourg sausages (a.k.a. knacks), or with kassler (ham), but never in a spirit. The only thing that’s close is celeriac eau-de-vie that some very crazy Alsatian distillers are making whenever they’ve had too much of their other own products. Seriously, it’s nasty stuff that reeks of the cold war. Mouth: no, really. It’s funny, it’s friendly, and it’s nice, but as far as flavours are concerned, you really need to be a total root aficionado to enjoy this. Or perhaps a gardener? It’s not that it’s bad, and indeed on sushis, perhaps… There are indeed some sake-like flavours, but I find this funny spirit too unlikely, and too bittersweet. Finish: yeah, and I’m glad they didn’t bottle it at 50% vol. Comments: a good gentian, anytime. Horseradish, perhaps not. SGP:380 - not scored

Cherry Gin ‘Batch 1’ (42.6%, That Boutique-y Gin Company, +/-2017)

Cherry Gin ‘Batch 1’ (42.6%, That Boutique-y Gin Company, +/-2017) They are losing me, really. We’ll soon have sandal gin, hamster gin, and Semtex gin if it all goes on like this. Colour: redder than blood. Nose: some young Saint-Emilion blended with ginger liqueur and maraschino. Plus a tiny bit of Stilton. No, come on, not gym socks! Mouth: I’m completely baffled. This deeply perplexes me. I do get the cherries, though. And quite a lot of cough syrup for kids. Finish: long, sugary, invasive, threatening. Comments: what would have Schopenhauer said? Is there a code? Is this a message? Are they ready for Brexit? SGP:840 - not scored

Cotswolds ‘Bath 1’ (466%, This Booticky Gin Corporation, +/-2117)

Cotswolds ‘Bath 1’ (466%, This Booticky Gin Corporation, +/-2117) Not feeling too well indeed… Colour: Klimt gold with a shade of Dali. Not too well, really… Nose: Cadum and Palmolive, with drops of 4711. I may be losing steam. At Harrods’ Salon De Parfums around 11:45 am. This is hard, I’ve gone too far, gin is not for me. Grated orange skin and free leatherette pouch (at Harrods’ Salon De Parfums). Nike factory store, shower soap... Mouth: but why? Lamp oil, liquid soap, liquid soap, liquid soap, liquid soap, liquid soap… And crunching salted citronella candle. Hard hard hard, it’s a real pain. I say not that bad it is, but lost I am and I feel pain terribly. I not this doing should have. Terrible regrets, terrible, believe me (oh no, not that bit again, S.!) Finish: long is, and drinking the bottle of linseed oil I am. And eating earth from the ground, with juniper. Comments: it is better that I stop now, because a masochist I am not. Lost is everything, my poor English being included, and I should drop GMD (Gin of Mass Destruction). Adios, no comprendo mas anyway. This kind of liquid for English gentlepeople only, probably. SGP:470 - not scored

Shall I ever recover?

Please remember that my assessment of any spirits is only a personal opinion and is done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who usually prefers distillate-driven spirits, and dislikes anything doctored, aromatised, hybridised, or tampered with, thank you – and peace!

 

 

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August 24, 2017


Whiskyfun

That Caperdonich and compadres

You know mashed potatoes with truffles. Some people eat the truffles first, while others would finish the mash before they tackle the truffles. That’s what we may have decided to do with Cadenhead’s latest old Caperdonich – although, I agree, what’s best is to have the truffles and the mashed potatoes together, so that the flavours mingle together even better. I know, I do need vacations.

Caperdonich  20 yo 1996 (47.8%, Cadenhead, cask ends, hogshead, +/-2016)

Caperdonich  20 yo 1996 (47.8%, Cadenhead, cask ends, hogshead, +/-2016) Four stars and a halfThis baby was recasked to sherry hogshead because the bourbon hoggie was leaking. Colour: gold. Nose: fun. Fun happens at Cadenhead’s. Let’s call this ‘other woods’, and that would include beech, acacia, or chestnut, or cedar, but certainly not oak. Bizarre notes of Schweppes lemon, Campari, plasticine, honey vinegar, and wee ‘muddy’ mushrooms. Clitocybes, perhaps? Love those, especially the purple ones. Ah, a fricassee of purple clitocybes with a little parsley and garlic! Mouth: much more ‘normal’. Lemon liqueur, lemon balm, aspirin tablets, white pepper, a little ginger, and touches of bitter oranges. Waxy ones. Finish: long, citrusy, orange-y, and certainly quite waxy, ala Clynelish. Comments: intriguing and great – two words that don’t always go well together in the whisky world. SGP:661 – 88 points.

Caperdonich 20 yo 1996/2017 (46.4%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 264 bottles)

Caperdonich 20 yo 1996/2017 (46.4%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 264 bottles) Four stars and a half Quite possibly a sister cask. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: ultra-clean, very mineral, almost saline, all on chalk, clay, and waxy apples, then hay and rotting apples. Gotta love rotting apples. Beer. Mouth: more cask influence, with touches of coconut wine, then liquorice, then grapefruits and angelica. The angelica’s very obvious. Finish: long, with more coconut, angelica, and liquorice. Cedar wood, perhaps. It’s not a very common profile, and I’m not sure you could recognise the distillery, but this is just superb. Only the aftertaste is a little below par, becoming a little cardboardy/oaky. Don’t you need to be cruel to be kind? Comments: love these razor-sharp profiles, but they’re fragile, as as soon as a little oak comes through, they go down like Messerschmitts. Not the case here. SGP:561 - 88 points.

Caperdonich 20 yo 1994/2015 (53.5%, Single Cask Collection, sherry hogshead, cask #96540, 254 bottles)

Caperdonich 20 yo 1994/2015 (53.5%, Single Cask Collection, sherry hogshead, cask #96540, 254 bottles) Four stars Not many older whisky enthusiasts realise that Caperdonich is a closed distillery. Closed for good in 2002! Colour: white wine. Nose: pretty similar, but even more austere, grassy, on peelings and leaves, then chalk and clay. Fresh almonds too. A rather Janssenist malt so far. With water: crushed clay and grass. Mouth (neat): these sharp and acidic fruit again, green apples, lemons, grapefruits… Zing! With water: a few fruits coming out. Perhaps blackberries and blueberries? Watch your teeth! Finish: a tad sweeter, almost a little sugary. But that would be barley sugar. Comments: millimetric malt whisky. SGP:561 - 86 points.

Caperdonich 23 yo 1992/2015 (56.4%, Cadenhead, barrel, 150 bottles)

Caperdonich 23 yo 1992/2015 (56.4%, Cadenhead, barrel, 150 bottles) Four stars and a half There’s something between Cadenhead and Caperdonich, did you notice that too? Maybe because both start with ‘Ca’ (S., that was lame and unnecessary, once again!) Colour: straw. Nose: Sancerre! Sauvignon Blanc! Celery, lemon, anise, rhubarb, chalk… With water: we’re at school, way before the iPad. Chalk, ink, damp rag, school slate… Mouth (neat): god it’s good. Sharp lemony/mineral arrival, then a few easier fruits, white currants, greengages, gooseberries… I’m a total sucker for this sharp style that only a good refill cask could generate over the years. Cut cactus, grass… With water: and fruits. Watermelon, star fruit, lime… Finish: not that long, but grassy, mineral, and fruity, as expected. Perhaps a tad ‘below’. Comments: it lost one or two points at the finish, but what a great Caperdonich! SGP:661 - 89 points.

All right, since we went vertical, this the one we were waiting for…

Caperdonich 39 yo 1977/2017 (50.4%, Cadenhead, 175th Anniversary, butt, 462 bottles)

Caperdonich 39 yo 1977/2017 (50.4%, Cadenhead, 175th Anniversary, butt, 462 bottles) Five stars Now remember, 1977 wasn’t 1972, just saying (what a nice contribution, S.!) Colour: dark amber. Nose: chocolate and wood varnish, Pappy-style, then garden peat and gravel, then prunes, armagnac-style. I’m totally not disappointed, but I was expecting some kind of bomb, while this is rather elegant and, well, sober. With water: Pappy’s back! Which, frankly, wasn’t to be expected. Now there are more prunes and black earth than in any Pappies. Don’t care for Pappy anyway. Mouth (neat): haven’t I just mentioned prunes? I’ll add liquorice and blackcurrants, Corinthian raisins, a wee drop of Kikkoman sauce, and a lot of ganache. It is ‘relatively simple’, but it’s a perfect simplicity. With water: takes water extremely well, and now we’re talking. Chinese plum sauce, cassis nectar, gianduja, perhaps a wee touch of Nutella (I known, utter horror, but in this context it’s OK)… Finish: medium, all on various chocolates, with some tobacco in the aftertaste. And a bourbonness. Comments: more a ride than malt whisky, but what a ride! Frankly, water is superfluous. SGP:561 - 91 points.

Good, since this has become a verticale, and since we’ve mentioned 1972, and since that CAD was a 39……

Caperdonich 39 yo 1972/2011 (52.8%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, sherry hogshead, 57 bottles)

Caperdonich 39 yo 1972/2011 (52.8%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, sherry hogshead, 57 bottles) Five stars I know, a very small outturn and an old bottle, this is for glory only. Colour: deep gold. Nose: s***w everyone, this is bottled perfection. Please get ready to call the anti-maltoporn brigade. A beehive in the middle of a clearing, at around 4pm in the midst of august, in the northern hemisphere. Let’s move on… and no, no water. I know I should, but I won’t. Mouth: this will make you sing Ob-la-di-ob-la-da. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no easy whisky, as for example, this 1972 is less ‘easy’ than a Glen Grant from the same vintage. Not quoting Glen Grant by chance. But these resinous, sappy, almost austere and quite glue-y flavours are just stunning. Concentrated fir honeydew and lemony liquorice. Finish: almost eternal. Really concentrated, essence-y, sappy. Comments: magic. In fact, this wee whisky is tasting you, it’s not the other way ‘around. Psychedelic Caperdonich? To sip while listening to Jefferson Airplane. Or Ornette, naturally. SGP:472 - 93 points.

A seminal question now, were all the 1972s the same? (what a flimsy excuse, S.!)

Caperdonich 38 yo 1972/2011 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #7437, 162 bottles)

Caperdonich 38 yo 1972/2011 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #7437, 162 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: totally 1972 and integrally Caperdonich. Nectar, pollen, beeswax, chamomile, orange blossom, lime-flower tea, honey, old Sauternes-that-got-dry, artisanal white chocolate (not Nestlé junk), wee bananas flambéed… Oh the elegance, oh the balance! I’m afraid this style has been lost, hopefully not forever. Mouth: f****g amazing. There’s this very rare point where herbs and fruits meet and don’t fight, some kind of equilibrium that’s extremely rare, really. These very rare whiskies would make all current whiskies (bar a tiny few) resemble oak-aged vodka. More about oak-aged vodka soon on WF, if I’m man enough to do it (or if you mail me cheques, I take Euros, Swiss francs and US dollars, please no Sterling). So, a wonderful whisky, totally aged by time. Which was the whole point in the first place, but the industry seems to have changed their mind in that respect. Remember, today wood=time (but of course). Now back to this wee Caperdonich, I’m also finding chlorophyll and spearmint. Finish: it does the peacock’s tail. Fruits, flower jams, herbs. Mint liquorice in the stronger and firmer aftertaste. Comments: remember The Kinks (and David Bowie)? Where have all the good times gone? Nah, remember, the good old times are always today, said that Greek philosopher. SGP:561 - 93 points.

(Thanks a bunch, Gunther and Tom!)

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

 

 

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August 23, 2017


Whiskyfun

Five Tamdhu

I thought we could have a little bag of Tamdhus, what do you think?

Tamdhu 10 yo ‘Sherry Casks’ (46%, OB, 1000 bottles, +/-2104)

Tamdhu 10 yo ‘Sherry Casks’ (46%, OB, 1000 bottles, +/-2104) Four stars A limited edition that I had forgotten about. My bad. You’ll have noticed that the label was black instead of white. Colour: dark straw. Nose: bags and bags of red berries in this one, plus a lot of artisan muesli and some kind of IPA-ish feeling, with pineapples and, well, various hops. Then the expected raisins and pastries, brioche, and panettone. Nice nose, assuredly. Mouth: extremely good, and very easy. It’s a fruity sherry, but the malty side keeps all this balanced, with raisins, zests, and simply various pies and pastries. The kind of malt that go well in magnums, since they’re so drinkable. Finish: medium, fresh, orangey, with the malty side again in the aftertaste (Ovaltine). Jaffa cakes. Comments: I find it impressive, why have I been so late? SGP:651 - 87 points.

Tamdhu 3 yo 2013/2017 (58.3%, Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #MoS 17008, 359 bottles)

Tamdhu 3 yo 2013/2017 (58.3%, Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #MoS 17008, 359 bottles) Three stars Three years old! Either someone needed cash, or it’s the fastest whisky in the west. What’s good is that they said it (I mean, that it’s 3 years old). Colour: straw. Nose: porridge muesli custard bread barley. With water: and ripe apples. Mouth (neat): barley eau-de-vie, ale, ginger beer, leather, vanilla, Nescafé. With water: and ripe apples. Finish: medium, malty, a tad bitter(ish). More ale. Comments: ready, but maybe not totally fit. Perhaps not totally what we used to call an infanticide when the Web hadn’t been totally PC-ed yet. So, some more than fair whisky ‘reposado’. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Tamdhu 18 yo 1998/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular) Two stars and a half This one’s brand new, we haven’t got full data yet. Colour: white wine. Nose: maltier than malt, and more Guinnessy than Guinness. Over all that, some lovely whiffs of menthol, fern, lemongrass, and cappuccino. Mouth: excellent, very malty at first, then full of spearmint and lemon balm. That gives it a fresh side, while the backbone is very solid, very malty. Finish: loses a bag of points here, thanks to a rather gingery bitterness. Distilled Schweppes, Aperol. Comments: if you like your malt really very malty… SGP:451 - 78 points.

What else do we have in the library?...

Tamdhu 22 yo 1982/2005 (58.2%, Adelphi, cask #2453, 211 bottles)

Tamdhu 22 yo 1982/2005 (58.2%, Adelphi, cask #2453, 211 bottles) Two stars This baby from a refill hogshead. Colour: straw. Nose: not a lot. Cardboard and old papers, plus roasted chestnuts and barbecued herbs. A little weird I have to say. Unexpected whiffs of rose petals coming out after two minutes, but they would come together with a wee soapiness. With water: mild tea. Mouth (neat): a little angular, on oranges and icing sugar, plus burnt herbs. Really unusual. With water: a better, and more regular maltiness. One slice of homemade orange cake. Finish: medium, with a bitter side. Comments: a little dispensable, and way below Adelphi’s usual high profile, but who cares, this is an old thing. SGP:451 - 75 points.

Tamdhu 27 yo 1984/2011 (50.3%, Exclusive Malts, refill hogshead, cask #2839, 261 bottles)

Tamdhu 27 yo 1984/2011 (50.3%, Exclusive Malts, refill hogshead, cask #2839, 261 bottles) Four stars Another one that I had missed at the time. Colour: gold. Nose: oh nice, it smells of many oils, especially sunflower. Then white chocolate and pine nuts, sesame oil, and roasted peanuts. A touch of mayonnaise, which goes particularly well in this context. With water: butter, warm sawdust, more roasted nuts. Mouth (neat): I like this. It’s some kind of all-influence malt whisky, so not very focused, but rather entertaining. Mocha, roasted nuts, caramel, coffee liqueur, violet sweets, oranges… This one’s really fun to follow. With water: touches of oak, bourbon-style, and some coconut and vanilla. Oranges too. Finish: medium, with some pistachio halva. Comments: so a nutty one. I enjoyed it quite a lot. SGP:551 - 85 points.

(Thanks Tom)

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

 

 

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August 22, 2017


Whiskyfun

Middle-aged Bruichladdich

I like Bruichladdich when it’s between 20 and 30 years of age. Unless when heavily sherried or drowned in heavy wine, they usually remain rather refreshing and ‘lightly’ fruity. Let’s find a few examples…

Bruichladdich 23 yo 1992/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #3081 + 3097)

Bruichladdich 23 yo 1992/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, hogsheads, casks #3081 + 3097) Four stars and a half Remember, a vatting of two or three casks can get much more complex than a single cask. Colour: straw. Nose: so very Bruichladdich! Wonderful yellow and even green melons, lemons, a little dill, a few sticks of celery, and that famous ‘Atlantic freshness’ that’s often seen in the brochures and ads. And on location, of course. A little damp chalk as well. Like these high-definition bottlings. Mouth: someone invented the word ‘zesty’ for these Laddies. Sure it’s a little sharp and acrid, and perhaps a little too ‘green’, but these green apples and lemons work very well. The green melons too, all this is certainly ‘green’. And no vanilla in the way, which is cool. Finish: long, mega-chiselled. You just drank a glass of limejuice. Comments: I know not everyone enjoys these sharp ones, but I do. I also believe they did well to reduce it, some similar Laddies at cask strength have been hot and difficult. Even when you add water yourself, never the same. SGP:661 - 88 points.

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1991/2017 (48.2%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, 192 bottles)

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1991/2017 (48.2%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, 192 bottles) Four stars and a half From the funny range ;-). This time it’s been refill Burgundy – perhaps not red according to the colour – for 6 years. So, rather double-maturation than finishing. Colour: straw (hey!) Nose: right, the cask was ‘very refill’ and guess what, we shan’t complain about that. In fact, we’re extremely close to SigV’s, with just an added layer of fresh oak. That would be French oak in this context. Lovely grassy and lemony freshness, very Bruichladdich again. Mouth: yes indeed, extremely close. I may detect oranges in this one, which weren’t in the SigV, and a very faint paraffiny side. But it’s also a little more mineral. Finish: long, fresh, acidic, extremely clean. Some green pepper and a touch of salt. Pure lemon juice in the aftertaste, perhaps an orange drop. Comments: lovely lovely batches. If you like them pure, fresh and clean… SGP:661 - 88 points.

Let’s try to find a worthy opponent (as far as styles are concerned…)

Bruichladdich 24 yo 1992/2016 ‘Black Art 5.1’ (48.4%, OB, 12000 bottles)

Bruichladdich 24 yo 1992/2016 ‘Black Art 5.1’ (48.4%, OB, 12000 bottles) Two stars and a half Some ‘premium wine casks’ have been in use here, probably for finishing and not full-maturing. Let’s check this learned concoction… Colour: orange wine. Some red wine has been used. Nose: never been a fan of this popular series, because I’m not too fond of clear winey notes in my whisky. Some earth, old wine cellar, cassis buds, raspberries, strawberry-flavoured butter cream, peonies, liquorice roots… The mushrooms are nice, and actually all aromas are nice when taken separately, but the combo doesn’t quite click for me. Mouth: really not my thing. In theory, it’s good, but cassis, raspberries and green pepper don’t tango too well in whisky. Just an opinion! Blood oranges, ginger, pepper. Finish: rather long, leafy. More green peppercorn and raspberries, and a feeling of Cahors. Comments: I don’t think it’s that bad, really, I’m just not into this style. I know, I’m really pressing that point. Love the young clean OBs ten times better. SGP:651 - 79 points.

Back to nature…

Bruichladdich 23 yo 1992 (55.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #3839, 237 bottles)

Bruichladdich 23 yo 1992/2016 (55.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #3839, 237 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: a bit fatter than the first ones, and yet it’s no fat whisky, with a little more vanilla and rather less tart fruits. For example, the melons aren’t green, they’re orange. Having said that, the background remains similar, with lemons, some chalk, and a little dill. With water: cut grass, a little sea air, damp hessian. Mouth (neat): really much to my liking again. A fresh bright fruitiness, and then rather more aromatic herbs, rosemary, sage, even coriander. I guess this cask was fresher. Golden delicious. With water: mandarins! Love mandarins. Finish: long, with a little more syrup, preserved fruits, verbena, angelica… Very perfect finish. Comments: I was about to go for 87 but the perfect finish raised my mark. Three 88s today, that’s pleasing me. SGP:651 - 88 points.

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

 

 

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August 21, 2017


Whiskyfun

A grainy session on a rainy summer day

There are more single grains around, old, young, middle-aged ones… And there are even blended grains mind you! Let’s have a few grains, and try to do it quick (indeed, we’ll probably fail to do so)... Oh and only have Invergordon.

Invergordon 26 yo (57.4%, Single Cask Collection, rum cask finish, +/-2016)

Invergordon 26 yo (57.4%, Single Cask Collection, rum cask finish, +/-2016) Three stars Sorry, couldn’t find a picture of this one, so I put something rather Austrian, since this is an Austrian bottler. Colour: pale gold. Nose: you really feel the rum at first nosing, while apparently, it was a rather funky one. That creates a feeling of, well, of rum, with something curiously medicinal. Band-aid, balms, then strawberry jam, bananas flambéed… As for the grain inside, well it rather keeps quiet. With water: gets gentler, and rather coherent. Nice notes of chamomile tea with sparks of orange zests. Mouth (neat): indeed, rum. It’s a little strange, but absolutely not unpleasant. Some icing sugar, Fanta, mint-flavoured tea, sugar cane, touches of slightly prickly ginger… With water: really intriguing. Orange zests and marshmallows, with a grassier cane-iness in the background. Finish: short to medium, and indeed a little grassy. Sweetened green tea. Comments: a transgender spirit that’s funny and interesting. And not half-bad. SGP:531 - 80 points.

Invergordon 40 yo 1977/2017 (47.8%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, cask #13278, 390 bottles)

Invergordon 40 yo 1977/2017 (47.8%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, cask #13278, 390 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: classic, rather fresh, with bananas and vanilla at first, then coconut balls and wee red berries. A touch of menthol as well, and a little patchouli as well. These dried bits of strawberries that they’re now adding to many a blended herbal tea. Mouth: a sweet and rounded pina colada, with pineapples, coconut water, quite some vanilla, some white chocolate, and a few cls of freshly squeezed orange juice. In other words, some kind of high-end cocktail. Finish: medium, with a little more lemony and grassy oak, but we’re way beneath the limits of oakiness. Very nice, fresh and very fruity. Notes of mangos. Comments: some very good and very easy old grain that would easily please someone who’s not too much into grain. SGP:630 - 86 points.

Invergordon 30 yo 1984/2015 (64.3%, Blackadder, Riverstown, cask #215-44, 276 bottles)

Invergordon 30 yo 1984/2015 (64.3%, Blackadder, Riverstown, cask #215-44, 276 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: very grassy and very solventy, with some earth behind. Feels a bit like if this was and ex-Ardbeg cask. With water: indeed, there is some smoke. A smoky grain! Mouth (neat): funny. Extremely strong, with a creamy mouth feel, and a feeling of earthy/rooty oranges. Celeriac? Water is obligatory. With water: got really peat-forward. Quite good, actually! Finish: rather long, ashy, with these earthy oranges again in the aftertaste. Comments: technically, I’m sure this is a blend. Legally, probably not. It’s almost as peaty as a light Talisker, mind you. SGP:453 - 84 points.

Invergordon 44 yo 1973/2017 (48.5%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 135 bottles)

Invergordon 44 yo 1973/2017 (48.5%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 135 bottles) Four stars and a half In theory, these are the best grains you could find these days. Just after Haig Clubman. Err… Colour: gold. Nose: a little wood varnish at first sniffs, which is normal, then a rather lovely range of light floral scents, dandelions, white flowers, then soft bananas, light custard (no in-your-face vanilla), stewed rhubarb covered with meringue, and some fresh Virginia tobacco from the box… of Virginia tobacco. Mouth: superb. There’s a citrusy side that gives it a malty side, quite bizarrely, some oranges, the faintest coconutty notes, and once again a feeling of high-end blended herbal tea. You know, these things they have for hipsters in city centres. No, it’s exceptionally good giver that this is a grain whisky, and that it wasn’t even sherried. Finish: medium, clean, fruity, with the tiniest bits of speculoos and macaroons. Comments: simply extremely good, says this guy who’s not into grain whisky. SGP:641 - 88 points.

Invergordon 43 yo 1973/2017 (50.5%, The Whisky Fair 2017, hogshead, 180 bottles)

Invergordon 43 yo 1973/2017 (50.5%, The Whisky Fair 2017, hogshead, 180 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s different, its got much more patchouli, pot-pourri, linseed oil, camphory balms, and even pinesap. So I guess we could say the cask was more active. Or differently active. But watch it, any cask’s previous content will have a huge impact on some very light grain whisky, as we could see with the Riverstown. With water: barbecued coconuts and marshmallows. Mouth (neat): a fruity bonanza. A fruit salad, with grapefruits and pink bananas, papayas, and probably greengages. Did Haribo have interests in Invergordon Distillery at some point? With water: lemongrass and coconut, nice combination. Finish: medium, rather fresh. A drop of limoncello in the aftertaste. Comments: as good as it gets, just the body is a tad thin, as (almost) always with grain whiskies. Otherwise it would have fetched 90 in my little book. SGP:651 - 89 points.

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August 20, 2017


Whiskyfun

Rums as they come

That is to say, totally randomly. Well, quite.

El Ron del Artesano 8 yo (43.8%, Riegger’s Selection, Panama, peated whisky cask finish, cask #37, 428 bottles)

El Ron del Artesano 8 yo (43.8%, Riegger’s Selection, Panama, peated whisky cask finish, cask #37, 428 bottles) Four stars The idea sounds strange but I’ve already tried some HSE ex-Islay cask that had worked very, very well. Colour: straw. Nose: great idea, you can make some good ‘phenolic’ rum out of some neutral all-column central-American juice by using peaty casks! Funny notes of burnt herbs, burnt wires, green liquorice, smoked oils, truffles, and yeah, Korean smoked oysters. All that gives this little Panamanian a ‘high-esters’ side that works very well. Great idea, really. Mouth: indeed, that works very well. Sure, there’s some remaining sugariness from the original rum, and indeed it’s a little ‘wobbly’ at times, but it seems that they almost managed to recreate a Jamaican rum. Now, there would be this much pineapple in a Jamaican, agreed… Finish: medium, and tends to lose a little steam because of the sugar. Comments: superb idea. It would be cool to try it on some unsweetened light rum. SGP:743 - 85 points.

And for due comparison, a Jamaican of the same age…

Jamaica Rum 8 yo (45%, Labat GMBh Zürich, +/-2017)

Jamaica Rum 8 yo (45%, Labat GMBh Zürich, +/-2017) Four stars This from the same vein as the excellent rums by Cave Guildive. But watch it, I don’t think this Labat is the Labat from Marie-Galante, unless I’m missing something. Colour: white wine. Nose: totally. Crisp and fat at the same time, with some tar, olives, grass smoke, brine, engine oil, and all that. Worthy Park? Mouth: perfect salty and smoky and tarry development. Rotting bananas in a corner, plus the usual olives. Perhaps a wee bit sweeter than others, but that may be the consequences of reduction. Finish: long, salty, olive-y, tarry, you name it. Comments: great, relatively simple, but totally flawless. And indeed, more ‘high’ than the funny Panamanian. SGP:562 - 87 points.

Caroni 18 yo 1998/2017 (63.2%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Trinidad, 233 bottles)

Caroni 18 yo 1998/2017 (63.2%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Trinidad, 233 bottles) Five stars Wish me luck! Colour: amber. Nose: it’s relatively soft at first nosing (forget about the alcohol), with notes of bourbon, vanilla, encaustic, cane juice… You’ll have to wait a bit before the olives, the coal tar and the diesel oil kick in. It seems to be rather complex, in fact. With water: oh, sandalwood, incense, pot-pourri, black olives, rose petals, Cuban cigars… Wonderful. Mouth (neat): amazing. Sure it’s a tad too strong (an understatement) but the profile is fantastic, reminding me of some very old Long Pond I had tried a few years ago. Perfect combination involving fresh eucalyptus and mint, liquorice, bananas flambéed, and drops of seawater. Really perfect. With water: and it swims well. No wood gets in the way, the brine is perfect, the tar is perfect, the pineapples are perfect, and the olives are more than perfect. Finish: very long, salty, olive-y, and yet rather fruity (ripe bananas and pineapples). Benzine in the aftertaste. Comments: kind of obvious. Reminds me of some of Velier’s. SGP:663 - 91 points.

Go talk to that one. Unless…

Worthy Park 2007/2016 (55.9%, L’Esprit, cask #BB10, 203 bottles)

Worthy Park 2007/2016 (55.9%, L’Esprit, cask #BB10, 203 bottles) Four stars From that very excellent small French bottler in Brittany (where it never rains). Colour: gold. Nose: not the expected tarry/olive-y avalanche, rather some fine herbs and fruits, just a little ‘phenolised’. Oh well, I know what I’m trying to say. Roasted almonds, bitter chocolate, cigars, dried parsley, tamarind, calf leather, patchouli… A rather gentler Worthy Park, so far. With water: chocolate and cigars. And rum, at the Club. Mouth (neat): indeed, not a monster, rather an incredible tropical fruit bomb. Papayas, guavas, pineapples, and quite a lot of vanilla ice cream. Barley water, oak, citrons… With water: fully on cane juice and bananas now. Cane syrup. Finish: long, fruity, slightly un-Jamaican in the sense that it’s rather low-esters. Comments: a bit surprised, it’s much softer than expected. But just as good. SGP:641 - 86 points.

T.D.L. 16 yo 2000/2016 (63%, Compagnie des Indes, Trinidad, cask #TT96, 281 bottles)

T.D.L. 16 yo 2000/2016 (63%, Compagnie des Indes, Trinidad, cask #TT96, 281 bottles) Four stars T.D.L. stands for Trinidad Distillers Ltd. I have to say the ones I’ve already tried had been a little weak. Mind you, this is not Caroni. Colour: gold. Nose: some very light-style rum indeed, with some ylang-ylang and orange blossom at first, then rather tinned peaches and papayas, plus bananas. I have to say this fresh and pretty elegant, even quite bonbony. With water: very fine, with fresh herbs and not-so-aromatic fruits. There, rhubarb. Mouth (neat): a little firmer, and yeah, very good. Fresh parsley, coriander, Thai basil, lemon balm, peaches and bananas… The opposite of a fat rum, and yet there’s a lot happening. Would that be seen as a sexist remark if I said that it’s a little ‘girly’? In the best sense! With water: a fruit salad, really, with an unexpected salty touch. Bags of all kinds of bananas. Finish: sort-medium, a touch mentholy. Nice fresh and herbal signature. Verveine du Velay. Comments: one word comes to mind, ‘lovely’. What an amazing world, the rum world, when it’s clean, honest rum. SGP:730 - 86 points.

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August 19, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Blair Athol
50 Years Apart
Blair Athol is one of those whiskies I tend to mentally categorise as humble, dependable and ‘highland’ in a modern sense of the word. The kind of whisky you can easily turn to in a pub or round the kitchen table after a meal when something relatively easy is called for.

 

It’s also a distillate which has really changed quite remarkably over the decades. Lets have what may prove a slightly unfair pairing of two examples at similar ages and identical strengths but distilled several decades apart.  

 

Blair Athol 2007/2016 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice)

Blair Athol 2007/2016 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice) I’m pleased G&M finally upgraded this great series to a proper bottling strength and dragged it kicking and screaming into the 21st century; only took about 40 years. Colour: Light gold. Nose: Ginger biscuits, milky tea, some bread, toasted pumpkin seeds and some buttery cereals and grains. Honest and rather simplistic malt whisky in other words at first nosing. A rather basic green fruitiness emerges along with restrained touches of vanilla and honey. There’s also a sense of hay and horse stables about it (perhaps a suitable bottling for your hipflask at the Blair Horse Trials...?) Mouth: good richness for a whisky that’s only 9 years old. A sense of natural, barley sugar sweetness which is held nicely in check and never dominates. Some mead, a little pumpernickel bread, English bitter beer, a little orange peel, more biscuity notes but digestive this time and a slight grassiness. There’s also more than a little spiciness about it nibbling around the edges of the palate and a slightly drying cereal aspect like plain oatcakes and a touch of aspirin. Finish: medium length and still quite drying with spice, chamomile and a few splinters of wood. Comments: Decent malt whisky. I liked the fact that it was pleasantly drying and not too sweet. The sort of whisky that shows the better aspects of youth, although it’s not exactly a thrill ride. SGP: 442 - 78 points.

 

 

Blair Athol 8 yo (80 proof, OB, UK market, bottled early 1960s) This livery appears to have been used for quite a long time from the 1950s into the late 1960s so I suspect there are quite a number of variations. Needless to say most are spectacular and there are high expectations here... Colour: Gold. Nose: Doing this kind of head to head is often unfair but this just totally crushes the poor CC. It’s hard to emphasises just how utterly, utterly different this style of whisky is. It’s all on soot, coal hearths, bergamot, old chartreuse, coins, tool boxes and a bewilderingly intense, herbal, earthy, old style peat. Seriously the peat in this is reminiscent of some extremely old OB Highland Parks with this kind of heathery, drying smokiness overlying dusty phenols and and oily, black heart of peat. Goes on with camphor, furniture polish and all manner of waxes, resins and oils. A poetic and totally captivating nose. Mouth: Immediate and intense old style peat. Herbal, menthol, gently mineral, a deft oily sweetness, tar liqueur, hessian and again the most complex kind of waxiness. A huge, fat and dense distillate but at the same time it’s astonishingly easy and shows beautiful composition and poise on the palate. The kind of whisky you can just hold in your mouth for Richard Pattersonian lengths of time. Little flecks of fruit emerge as well: tangerine, kiwi, stewed apple and guava to name but a few. More little flavours keep darting out: earthiness, stables (again with the horses Blair Athol!), steel wool, smoked teas, gorse and caraway. Finish: Apocalypse Now Redux is shorter. A cavalcade of peat, oils, waxes, resins, teas and earth. A lick of mint in there somewhere as well. Majestic! Comments: I never tried such a peaty example of this old bottling before. We really should have called the anti-maltoporn brigade but it somehow slipped my mind. I think these have become quite hard to find in recent times; it’s not hard to understand why when you taste something like this. SGP: 467 - 93 points. (Big thanks to brother Phil)  

 

 

August 18, 2017


Whiskyfun

Even more old Bunnahabhains

Because you just cannot have enough old Bunnahabhain. Let’s see what we can find in the library… (rummage rummage…) and do this vertically…

Bunnahabhain 36 yo 1978/2015 (50.4%, Murray McDavid, Mission Gold, bourbon barrel, Willi Opitz finish, cask #1, 269 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 36 yo 1978/2015 (50.4%, Murray McDavid, Mission Gold, bourbon barrel, Willi Opitz finish, cask #1, 269 bottles) Two stars and a half Not too sure about the sweet wine finish, why would one do that? We sure have the answer, haven’t we? Willi Opitz is a well-reputed winemaker in Illmitz, Austria. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: perplexed, frankly. There are apricots and grape juice, but also these weirdish notes that stem from some good wine casks (good for wine doesn’t obligatorily mean good for whisky). Strange herbal teas, dog rose, blackcurrant leaves, wee hints of geranium, butter, mashed salsify and Jerusalem artichoke, leather, grenadine… The jury’s still out. With water: a little nicer, with earthier touches. Old wood. Mouth (neat): weirdish. Sour and fruity, with raisins and leather, black tobacco, touches of litchis, roasted beans, stewed red peaches… Really not sure. With water: it’s okay, really okay. Butter cream, apricot pudding, custard tart, zucchini flower fritter… Finish: medium, with some old oak and these funny fruity/vegetal notes. Say Jerusalem artichoke pie – and why not? Comments: some funny winesky, not quite for this humble taster though. SGP:461 - 78 points.

Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1974/2014 (47.2%, Maltbarn, bourbon)

Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1974/2014 (47.2%, Maltbarn, bourbon) Five stars This baby’s slipped through my fingers when it came out, but time is on my side (gee, man!) Colour: straw. Nose: back to normality, and in the case of an old Bunnahabhain, normality can be a dream. The quinces are back, there are even touches of well-ripen seabuckhrouberries (I know, I know), some salinity, rather mild orchard fruits (apples), green bananas… All that is very subtle, very elegant, and needs your time. Never rush these and they’ll reward you. Mouth: perfect! A very fresh, lively, subtly fruity Bunnahabhain, with some sweeter/rounder coastal notes (clams, perhaps?) as well as fresh almonds, and more of those moderately expressive fruits, quinces, apples… And yes my friend, seabuckhrouberries (after the first frost). Finish: medium, clear as Mozart, delicately fruity, and very complex indeed. Comments: elegance made whisky. An exceptional old Bunnahabhain that took its complexity from time. SGP:651 - 91 points.

Bunnahabhain 31 yo 1979/2011 (48.5%, Adelphi, 516 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 31 yo 1979/2011 (48.5%, Adelphi, 516 bottles) Five stars Looks like I made a mess of my verticale. Colour: coffee. Nose: fantastic prune-y sherry, close to some old armagnac, with perfect notes of roasted hazelnuts, black raisins, and this smokiness that can stem from old sherry – so not quite smoke. Old tools, a drop of engine oil (Veedol – joking), drops of soy sauce and Modena balsamico (so it was a Ferrari), and the usual walnut cake. Perfect unrushed sherriness, far from any ‘quick finishing’. Mouth: ah wow! Cherries and oranges are coming together with praline and, above everything, a truckload of all-honey gingerbread. Spectacularly Christmassy. Dried figs, bananas, pears, dates, raisins… The spices are very soft too, star anise, soft cinnamon, a touch of cumin… Finish: long, and all on candied cherries. Those big fat black cherries, just love them. We’re almost in Nuits-St-Georges instead of the east coast of Islay. Comments: we all know that Bunnahabhain takes great sherry extremely well. This was a good example. I’ve known an official 1963… SGP:652 - 92 points.

But back to nature…

Bunnahabhain 1965/1987 (50%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #10.5)

Bunnahabhain 1965/1987 (50%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #10.5) Five stars One of the early SMWSs, with those black screw caps. Expectations are high. Colour: pale gold. Nose: once again, we’re finding these amazing waxes that could be found in old Bunnahabhains, and there are many of them. Encaustic, beeswax, church candles (a lot of paraffin)… There’s also a yeasty side, with ales, sour dough, leaven… And then green apples, raw cider, and a growing metallic side. Cast iron teapot. It’s a very naked early Bunnahabhain, has it even seen any oak during its life? But it’s a style that we enjoy mucho at WF Towers… With water: pure clean amazing barleyness. It’s always good when whisky reminds you that it was made out of barley. Possibly some older variety. Mouth (neat): bb! (meaning bloody brilliant). Mango juice, banana and avocado cream, wee herbs, a touch of iron, a drop of crème de menthe, and the most perfect barleyness. A-m-a-z-i-n-g. With water: awe. Did you keep the AMB’s number? Please call them! Finish: truly a signature. Perfect freshness, fruit essences and peelings, and one drop of good beer. Amazing grassier signature. Sweet Belgian endive. Comments: did humans make this? These amazing early SMWS remind us that the Society has been totally seminal. SGP:561 - 93 points.

I should stop now, but I just can’t. How bad is it, Doctor?

Bunnahabhain 33 yo 1980/2014 (45.8%, The Whisky Agency and La Maison du Whisky, sherry, 495 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 33 yo 1980/2014 (45.8%, The Whisky Agency and La Maison du Whisky, sherry, 495 bottles) Four stars See how many Bunnies I missed when they were coming out. What a lazy ‘whisky blogger’! Colour: gold. Nose: it hasn’t got the 1965’s total and utter class, and it sure is a little rougher, but all remains well, with apples and other orchard fruits again, sweet mash (beet?), artichokes, and just a touch of gunpowder. Some sweet beer too. Mouth: better. Sour and sweet beers, certainly an idea of fino sherry, the obligatory walnuts, some tobacco and leather, and then more sweet fruits, around oranges and tangerines, but it never becomes ‘sweet’ as such. Finish: medium, a little brighter. Oranges and a little thyme. A funny feeling of wild leek and a little metal in the aftertaste, as well as more beer. Comments: not a pristine, well-carved old Bunnahabhain, it’s even rather rough. But very good it is – of course. In my humble opinion, as always. SGP:451 - 85 points.

Time to call this a tasting session, don’t you think? One should never push these things… Excuse me? No, no Bunnahabhain tomorrow.

(Gracias Angus, Greg, and Paul)

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August 17, 2017


Whiskyfun

Bunny's back

Didn’t we say we’d have more Bunnahabhain? We might even do a little random whisky archaeology in the Library, as we always like to do…

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1977/2005 (49.7%, Riegger’s Selection, cask #7865)

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1977/2005 (49.7%, Riegger’s Selection, cask #7865) Four stars Not a very common vintage, but we’ve already tried a few. Some have been very good. Colour: gold. Nose: I believe Bunnahabhain was a little fatter and oilier at that time, and this is a good example. Linseed oil. There’s also a little metal (iron), and many dead leaves. Autumn’s around the corner! (not quite yet). Some white truffles too, old wood… In short, this one’s more austere on the nose, but quite intriguing. Mouth: old woods all over the place, damp floated wood, liquorice root, lemon peel, and only then the expected honey and lemon. Some kind of peat as well, this is firmer and tenser than current offerings. Finish: long, rather bitter, grassy, and quite salty. Haven’t they tried to mimic Highland Park at some point? Comments: very interesting, and rather to my liking. Indeed, an intriguing ‘pre-vanilla’ old Bunnahabhain… SGP:372 - 86 points.

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1988/2016 (46.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #100229, 344 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1988/2016 (46.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #100229, 344 bottles) Four stars and a half This bottling’s not that old… TSMOS already had an excellent 88/14 (WF 87). Colour: straw. Nose: it’s an austere one as well at first nosing, but white orchard fruits are soon to come to the rescue. They come with hay, cut flowers from last Sunday, and hints of cigars. Rather dry, with a nice earthiness. Mouth: there, the expected honeyed citrus and other tart fruits. Green apples, perhaps a little plasticine… A nutty side as well, toasted walnut cake, some grass, green tea… It’s a rather big Bunnahabhain. Finish: long, a little sharp, but with the trademark grassy honeyness, and more easy fruits in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, and rather complex. Great balance between the honey and fruits, and the grassier side. SGP:561 - 88 points.

Bunnahabhain 35 yo 1980/2015 (47.1%, Sansibar for Spirit Shop Selection, sherry, 165 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 35 yo 1980/2015 (47.1%, Sansibar for Spirit Shop Selection, sherry, 165 bottles) Four stars This one should be heavier. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a blend of beeswax and plasticine at first, furniture polish, then meaty cigars, Grisons meat, leather, and the expected old walnuts. It’s a traditional dry sherried Bunnahabhain, quite earthy as well. Whiffs of late-season quinces and medlars. Mouth: starts a bit brutal and dirtily earthy (which is not that bad), develops with more leather and tobacco (and the usual walnuts), and tends to become bitter-chocolate dry, although a few touches of oranges make it a tad lighter. It’s also rather very peppery. Finish: rather long, grassier, but also with more fruits. Perhaps those quinces? Comments: It’s not an easy one, but to tell you the truth, there is some profoundness. The opposite of a modern rich yet flat vanilla bomb. SGP:462 - 87 points.

Bunnahabhain 27 yo 1987/2014 (51.3%, Liquid Art, 115 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 27 yo 1987/2014 (51.3%, Liquid Art, 115 bottles) Four stars and a half A pleasant design. Colour: straw. Nose: perhaps a higher category, with more precious waxes, some pollen, a mentholy earth, more furniture polish, then rather turpentine and linseed oil. Perhaps a little fresh paint too. You’ve got the feeling that you’re nosing some very old oloroso. With water: balsam and thuja wood, then moss and leaves after the rain. Mouth (neat): firm, mushroomy and earthy at first, then more marmalade-y, with a little chocolate (filled with Grand-Marnier) and these touches of menthol again. Excellent. With water: all goes according to plan. Marmalade, honey, pepper, dried mushrooms, tobacco. Finish: same flavours for quite a long time. The waxes are coming back in the aftertaste. Comments: perfect. The label alone is worth one extra point (of course I’m joking). SGP:551 - 89 points.

Bunnahabhain 15 yo 2001/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11604, 611 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 15 yo 2001/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11604, 611 bottles) Four stars Whoops, this is a new one. With this many bottles, it must have been a butt. Colour: gold. Nose: straighter, obviously simpler, more nutty, more brioche-y, and more Mars-bar-y (oh, no, S.!) Then a tad metallic and mossy. Cut grass and very dark chocolate (like minimum 85% cocoa solids). Mouth: raisins and tobacco, earthy tea, cinnamon roll, then a little coffee and a lot of bitter chocolate, with sparks of orange zest. Very good. Finish: long, always with this lovely earthiness. Black tea, chocolate, tobacco, marmalade, cinnamon cake. Comments: this baby was anything but ridiculous after the older ones. Well done! Good butt, probably second fill. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Back to the 1970s…

Bunnahabhain 35 yo 1973/2011 (49.4%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, sherry butt, cask #12153, 426 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 35 yo 1973/2011 (49.4%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, sherry butt, cask #12153, 426 bottles) Five stars Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s a 1973 but we’re rather in the 1960s, and the Auld Acquaintance isn’t very far away. Lilies, strawberry jam, honeydew, dried figs, a wee wood smoke, a little seaweed in a corner, then more dried fruits, orange jam, a drop of old Sauternes (and botrytis!), raisins, zwetschke/damson plums, and some mild pipe tobacco. Plus a little camphor and eucalyptus. What’s not in there? Mouth: amazing jams with a light oakiness and many soft spices. In a way, it’s a little winey (pinot noir?) but that works extremely well. Crème de cassis, marmalade, cherry jam, figs, blueberry pie, a wee feeling of clay and slate… I especially love this dried figs. I’m a sucker for figs. Finish: sadly, everythinh has one end. Ja, nur die Wurst hat zwei. Comments: close to some brilliant sister casks that Signatory Vintage have also issued. I’ve been hesitant a few years ago, I was silly. SGP:661 - 92 points.

I have to go, more old Bunnies later…

(You were right, Tom!)

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August 16, 2017


Whiskyfun

Some Bunnahabhain!

There are many around, and that’s a joy. Love the place too, they should have shot episodes of Game of Thrones over there. Imagine, the John Snow Edition, that would have looked real good. Let’s choose a semi-random set-up today, if you agree (just meaning that I don’t know yet what I’m going to find in the library…)

Bunnahabhain ‘Stiuireadair’ (46.3%, OB, 2017)

Bunnahabhain ‘Stiuireadair’ (46.3%, OB, 2017) Four starsOkay, now close this page and try to remember the name of this newish bottling. Good luck. Don’t we all love Bunnahabhain’s contra-marketing? And I spared you the grave accent that’s on one of the letters. More seriously, this baby was ‘intended as a partial replacement for the 12 yo’. Sob… Colour: pale gold. Nose: what’s nice is that it’s typically Bunny, with these roasted nuts, heather honey, puréed chestnuts, and malt drink (Ovaltine/Ovomaltine). And then it’s getting more and more chocolaty, it’s almost as if Van Houten had bought the distillery. Touches of lemon balm in the back, even nicer, that lifts it. Mouth: creamy, rounded, soft, citrusy and very cake-y. More of all what was in the nose, especially the chestnut purée. Cappuccino and Starbuck’s terrible hazelnut hot drink (only much better, which ain’t hard to do). Finish: medium and a tad grassier. Very nice maltiness. Comments: success! They may be better at making whisky than at finding names, but indeed, better like that. A shame that we haven’t got a recent 12 at hand. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Bunnahabhain 27 yo 1989/2017 (41.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 192 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 27 yo 1989/2017 (41.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 192 bottles) Five stars In theory, nothing could go wrong here. Colour: white wine/straw. Nose: and nothing goes wrong. The utter wonders of good refill wood, with an amazing lightness and many fresh fruits crushed into some honey and barley juice. Apples, peaches… Totally love these slightly acidic, almost vinegary touches. Lemon and infused tobacco. Some coastal air coming through (early morning on Bowmore’s pier, etc. etc. etc.) Mouth: firmer, but wonderful. Many herbs, dill, fresh parsley, mint, verbena… I find this supremely elegant, complex, and well-chiselled. And tangerines, gotta love tangerines in malt whisky. And pickled samphires. Finish: medium, a tad grassier, which always works. Comments: all elegance. Perfect cask, perfect spirit, perfect age. A wine-malt. SGP:451 - 90 points.

Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1986/2017 (52.6%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead)

Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1986/2017 (52.6%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead) Five stars Thirty, that’s another good age for malt whisky. Colour: pale gold. Nose: in the very same league. Same slightly acidic start, bordering vinegar and solvents (but in a great way!) and then same cut apples, mead, honey vinegar, and just old wine cellar. Old barrels, vin jaune, manzanilla. Not common, and I like this really a lot. And yep I’ve noticed that this as a barrel. With water: a fantastic sour profile. We’ve all known artisan piscos… Mouth (neat): exceptional. Please call the anti-maltoporn brigade. Raw Calvados, sour apples, bone-dry Madeira, and more vin jaune. Pinches you a bit, but that’s a pleasure. With water: gets a little rounder and fruitier. Guavas leading the dance. Finish: medium, and really perfect, in this sour/acidic/fruity style. Comments: luminous, it reminds of a few old casks that we could taste at the distillery with dear John MacLellan when he was the Manager. Cheers John-up-there-in-the-skies! SGP:561 - 92 points.

Bunnahabhain 28 yo (56.2%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, bourbon cask, 214 bottles, 2017)

Bunnahabhain 28 yo (56.2%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, bourbon cask, 214 bottles, 2017) Five stars Colour: dark amber. Nose: some gunpowder but not too much, some walnut stain for sure, and a totally umami-esque development. Yes, a palate thing but you’ll find this in the noses too. Soy sauce, cocoa, nori, dried parsley, and some proper old balsamico. Almost forgot to mention pipe tobacco, and perhaps the tiniest drop of Marmite ever. Ever! With water: prunes and cigars. Rather less dry. Mouth (neat): punchy, this. Concentrated orange juice and caramel, prune sauce, a drop of proper old PX from Jerez, and glazed chestnuts. This baby would make many other so-called sherry monsters take dictation. With water: prunes and raisins, it’s becoming much sweeter and rounder. Marmalade and the tiniest pinch of salt in the background. Finish: long, cocoa-ish. Herbal aftertaste. Artichokes, which often come with oloroso. Comments: aren’t we flying a little high already? SGP:461 - 90 points.

Bunnahabhain 25 yo 1990/2015 (44.2%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # DL 10984, 269 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 25 yo 1990/2015 (44.2%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # DL 10984, 269 bottles) Five stars Once again, I can’t quite see what could go wrong. Colour: white wine. What could go wrong? Nose: it’s rather one of those Bruichladdichesque Bunnies. Melons and peaches, barley syrup, sea air, sauvignon blanc, green gooseberries. Not one ounce of woodiness, this is as fresh as some properly aged malt whisky can be. Mouth: wonderful fresh fruits, more melons, more apples, mandarins, barley syrup, a drop of coffee (probably from the cask), some mild vanilla, maple syrup… We’re right in the centre of malt-whiskydom. Finish: medium, a tad more syrupy. Compote-y and honeyed aftertaste. Comments: I’m-finding-this-so-good! All-natural well-aged malt whisky at its very highest. Nothing stands out, yet all is perfect. Well done DL! SGP:551 - 91 points.

Bunnahabhain 24 yo 1990 ‘Blossom’ (51%, Vintage Malt Whisky Co., for Hot Malt Taiwan, hogshead, cask #7398, 270 bottles, +/-2015)

Bunnahabhain 24 yo 1990 ‘Blossom’ (51%, Vintage Malt Whisky Co., for Hot Malt Taiwan, hogshead, cask #7398, 270 bottles, +/-2015) Four stars A nice arty label, but it’s what’s inside that counts. Colour: white wine/straw. Nose: there, roots! Celeriac, turnips, potatoes, gentian… Lots of fun to be had here, provided you’re rather down-to-earth. Ha. Then apples, fudge, and malt. With water: not many changes. Perhaps a little wax and plastic? It does not need water. Mouth (neat): brilliant again, I’m afraid. Very earthy and rooty - which goes to show how versatile Bunnahabhain can be – and even becoming kind of smoky, while it isn’t. Don’t ask. Some mineral notes too, limestone, chalk… With water: careful with water, that could make it too grassy and too rooty. Finish: long and a little sharp. Lemon, grass and clay. Comments: some brilliant coastal malt that doesn’t swim too well, how bizarre. Careful! SGP:461 - 86 points.

How about some older younger ones straight from the library?

Bunnahabhain 12 yo 1997/2009 (48%, Duncan Taylor, NC2)

Bunnahabhain 12 yo 1997/2009 (48%, Duncan Taylor, NC2) Three stars I have to say I haven’t heard or seen much of Duncan Taylor’s recently, I hope they’re doing well! Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s a peater, a soft peater. Clay and aspirin tablets, then grapefruit and a little soot, then ashes. Mouth: sweet and easy peat, with pears and lemon drops. Not much else to add, this is good, but it’s a bit narrow and simple. Finish: medium, peaty, fruity. More smoked pears, in other words. Comments: a fair young peater, lacking deepness and complexity. Perhaps, because this one’s totally anecdotal anyway. Who would still try to find this wee bottling? SGP:545 - 80 points.

While we’re doing youngsters…

Bunnahabhain 7 yo 2005/2012 (46%, Spirit of Scotland, cask #5002237, refill sherry hogshead)

Bunnahabhain 7 yo 2005/2012 (46%, Spirit of Scotland, cask #5002237, refill sherry hogshead) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: the Tatin sisters may have invented tarte tatin just for Bunnahabhain. So tarte tatin, fudge, roasted nuts, and some kind of earthy honey. Mouth: really extremely good despite the young age. Sweet malt, kougelhopf, marmalade, raisin bread. Well in the style of G&M, straight, round, and very good of course. Finish: rather long, a tad more citrusy. Oranges, malt, raisins, caramel. Comments: one of those usual no-fuss young malts by G&M that will just please you, as long as something’s remaining in the bottle. Very hard to beat at this price (when it came out). SGP:541 - 85 points.

Injury time! But we’ll have more – and older – Bunnies later, stay tuned.

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

 

 

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August 15, 2017


Whiskyfun

Bladnoch in the spotlight

An earlier session I did a few months ago had been quite disastrous, so I thought we should consider working through this issue once more. Especially since we haven’t even tried the newish OBs yet.

Bladnoch ‘Samsara’ (46.7%, OB, 2017)

Bladnoch ‘Samsara’ (46.7%, OB, 2017) Two stars Is this strange bottle a nod to Guerlain? Or should we reach nirvana with this wee NAS that’s supposed to be ‘luxuriously smooth’, according to the label? What’s a bit scary is that it was partially matured in Californian red. California, sure, red wine, no! But enough with prejudices, you never know… Colour: pale gold, not pink. Good. Nose: really not very Bladnochian, as instead of citrus, barley and wild flowers, I’m rather finding muesli and crushed strawberries, then sour porridge and artisanal cider. One pink marshmallow, one prune. Mouth: there is this citric start that’s rather Bladnochian indeed, also sweets and blackcurrant buds and leaves, as well as a bit of green pepper. The Californian red speaking out, I’d wager. Pink peppercorns, then blood oranges. Finish: medium, spicier. Wine gums and black pepper. Comments: I find it a little strange that they would have used red wine for a re-launch. I’m sure the distillate inside’s more interesting. Fair, though, but we haven’t reached nirvana yet… SGP:551 - 76 points.

Bladnoch 15 yo ‘Adela’ (46.7, OB, 2017)

Bladnoch 15 yo ‘Adela’ (46.7, OB, 2017) Two stars This one was ‘oloroso cask matured’. Colour: gold. Nose: struck matches, soot, brake pads, old walnuts, roasted chestnuts, supermarket balsamic vinegar, beef jerky, and then a lot of rosemary and thyme. More and more vinegar – while sulphur should have kept the casks clean and fresh. It’s only after a good five minutes that things improve a bit – or that you got used to those unlikely notes and your brain starts to filter them out. Nice(ish) notes of old oloroso and crushed pine needles. Mouth: not too bad, peppery and very walnutty… No, wait, it gets astringent, with some bitter almonds and those very old walnuts that you still had in the cellar. A touch of green peat, where does that come from? Very bitter chocolate. Finish: quite long, acrid, very peppery, with some cardboard and clove. Comments: which one did I like best? A difficult decision, and a cruel dilemma, Emma. SGP:362 - 76 points.

That’s enough, dear IBs, the floor is yours…

Bladnoch 1992/2013 (51.9%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS13038, 156 bottles)

Bladnoch 1992/2013 (51.9%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS13038, 156 bottles) Three stars and a half They had a good 1990 the year before. Colour: pale gold. Nose: one of the wacky ones again, but there’s more action. Sour apples, yoghurt sauce, turnips, bags of pine needles, and a nice humussy, earthy side. Rotting leaves. Whiffs of sour wine as well. I know it doesn’t sound any better than the OBs, but believe me it is. With water: marzipan, orange juice, and cornflakes. sour cereals and more humus. Mouth (neat): ah, this is completely different. Candyfloss and wine gums, plus mum’s orange syrup. Well, any mum. Some wax, some pepper and some Schweppes, this is not extremely Bladnoch but it works. With water: gets much drier, with some very malty brown beer and some coffee. Finish: medium, dry, with some coffee and fruitier notes in the aftertaste. Very ripe cassis. Comments: a whole different league, even if this baby was a tad ‘uncertain’ as well, in my humble opinion. SGP:451 - 84 points.

Bladnoch 26 yo 1990/2016 (48.5%, Archives, barrel, cask # 30336)

Bladnoch 26 yo 1990/2016 (48.5%, Archives, barrel, cask # 30336) Four stars and a half We know these batches could be top notch, but let’s double-check that. For our common cause! Colour: pale gold. Nose: when sourness can be perfect. Many sour fruits, gooseberries, plums, whitecurrants, some mud, some chalky porridge, some freshly crushed mint, and bags of freshly cut grass. The lawn is clean! Mouth: really very good, and very Bladnochian this time. Lime and mint, with a wee medicinal side. Brushing your teeth with clay. More bitter herbs in the background. And wheelbarrows of grass. Finish: long, really bitter. Artichoke cordial and grass juice. Love this. Comments: top clean Bladnoch this time, well in the style of some much older bottlings. SGP:461 - 89 points.

Bladnoch 26 yo 1990/2017 (49%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 246 bottles)

Bladnoch 26 yo 1990/2017 (49%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 246 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: a funnier one again, with some sour fruits and certainly quite a lot of unusual aromatic herbs, plus massive notes of marzipan and gingerbread. Where do those come from? Some kind of lemon curry, Thai basil, and a lot of sour dough. This baby’s got something to tell us, let’s see!... Mouth: indeed, it’s a ‘wacky’ Bladnoch again. Paraffin first, then lemon and lime, then some kind of forgotten medicine. Antique mouthwash and pre-WWII hygienic liqueurs, I would say. Pinesap, fir liqueur, notes of rosewater-flavoured pastries, Turkish delights… Quite a ride, and it all works, even if there’s this fragile equilibrium at times. And hey, notes of tinned sardines in Bladnoch!? Finish: rather long, and cleaner, fruitier, and easier. As if it wanted to make amends. Very hoppy beer in the aftertaste. Comments: very funny, very entertaining, and very good. Just not very orthodox. SGP:461 - 86 points.

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

 

 

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August 2017 - part 1 <--- August 2017 - part 2 ---> September 2017 - part 1


 

 

Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Bunnahabhain 25 yo 1990/2015 (44.2%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # DL 10984, 269 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 27 yo 1989/2017 (41.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 192 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 28 yo (56.2%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, bourbon cask, 214 bottles, 2017)

Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1986/2017 (52.6%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead)

Bunnahabhain 35 yo 1973/2011 (49.4%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, sherry butt, cask #12153, 426 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 1965/1987 (50%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #10.5)

Bunnahabhain 31 yo 1979/2011 (48.5%, Adelphi, 516 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1974/2014 (47.2%, Maltbarn, bourbon)

Caperdonich 38 yo 1972/2011 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #7437, 162 bottles)

Caperdonich 39 yo 1972/2011 (52.8%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, sherry hogshead, 57 bottles)

Caperdonich 39 yo 1977/2017 (50.4%, Cadenhead, 175th Anniversary, butt, 462 bottles)

Glendronach 8 yo (45.7GL, OB, German import, +/-1972)

Glendronach 21 yo 1993/2014 (56.4%, OB, for Kenny Hsu Taiwan, oloroso sherry butt, cask #477, 589 bottles)

Glendronach 20 yo 1995/2016 (56.2%, OB, for China, oloroso sherry butt, cask #3033)

Glendronach 20 yo 1995/2016 (54.9%, OB, oloroso sherry butt, cask #1709, 673 bottles)

Glendronach 25 yo 1990/2015 (51.6%, OB, Pedro Ximenez sherry puncheon, cask #1375, 656 bottles)

Glendronach 39 yo 1971/2010 (49.4%, OB, oloroso butt, cask #489, 541 bottles)

Caroni 18 yo 1998/2017 (63.2%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Trinidad, 233 bottles)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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