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Hi, you're in the Archives, August 2018 - Part 1

       

July 2018 - part 2 <--- August 2018 - part 1 ---> August 2018 - part 2

 

August 14, 2018


Whiskyfun

One Highland Park and two more

There’s more and more ‘Orkney whiskies’ around, and consequently, less indie Highland Parks. But it is my understanding that this is all only a matter of labelling.

Highland Park 16 yo ‘Wings of the Eagles’ (44.5%, OB, travel retail, 2018)

Highland Park 16 yo ‘Wings of the Eagles’ (44.5%, OB, travel retail, 2018) Three stars and a half
More Viking stuff by dear HP, and I say why not? Even if the pack says that this is ‘spicy and elegant’, which sounds hardly Viking (when seen from France). Colour: gold. Nose: very HP, I would say, starting a wee bit spirity but getting then minerally honeyed and smokingly heathery, while notes of ale, marmalade and custard are roaming the oceans in the background. Trying to get into the Viking spirit too, you know... Mouth: it is, indeed, rather spicy, slightly eau-de-vie-ish (I would have said 10 instead of 16), but good, with raisins and this wee smoky minerality that’s very HP. Touches of strawberry jam and then more marmalade. Finish: medium yet a tad rough, with a little kirsch, or slivovitz, then raisins in chocolate. Comments: some pretty good Highland Park, for once whisky travellers won’t lose their time while transiting through international airports.
SGP:452 - 84 points.

Orkney 11 yo 2007/2018 (63.7%, Sherwood’s, bourbon hogshead, cask #0036/2007, 329 bottles)

Orkney 11 yo 2007/2018 (63.7%, Sherwood’s, bourbon hogshead, cask #0036/2007, 329 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: some characterful mineral, zesty young Highland Park, totally spirit-driven, unfolding on all things bready and yeasty, which we always enjoy a lot when no feints are in sight. But it is strong and could burn your nostrils if you’re not careful… With water: huge viscimetry. Other than that, it’s getting more on wet clothes (tweed) and baker’s yeast. Rubbed lemon skin. Mouth (neat): perfect, creamy, fruity and very mineral, with a waxy background ala Clynelish and a sooty yeastiness ala Springbank. With water: perfect. Lime, soot, chalk, sourdough, a touch of gentian… The people want this! Finish: long, clean, chalky, lime-y, waxy, and even a tad mezcaly – which goes very well with the gentian in this. Green tea in the aftertaste. Comments: I had written ‘one of the finest distillates on this planet’ about another young Orkney. I know it’s terrible when you start to quote yourself, but well, at least I agree with yours truly.
SGP:352 - 88 points.

Orkney 12 yo 2006/2018 (57.8%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead, 362 bottles)

Orkney 12 yo 2006/2018 (57.8%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead, 362 bottles)Four stars and a half
Angus already tried this baby, let’s not re-read his notes! Colour: white wine. Nose: as expected, this is very similar. Same mineral/waxy profile, with some exquisite scents of citrus and a fantastic breadiness. It’s just a notch sharper than the 2007. With water: something slightly medicinal, tincture of iodine, bandages… Mouth (neat): yeah, perfect. What it’s got this time is a specific spiciness that cannot not come from the wood, and that would rather be caraway. With water: no caraway left, rather an impeccable mineral zestiness, with touches of paraffin. A wee bit of pickled ginger, perhaps. Finish: rather long, a tad saltier. Bitter oranges, ginger, lemon, a wee slice of gherkin. Comments: rather terrific. Too bad they can’t display the name of the distillery, such bottlings could only further enhance its reputation. But you know, Scottish brand politics…
SGP:452 - 88 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Highland Park we've tasted so far

 

August 12, 2018


Whiskyfun

Malternative rums, or not

Hopefully! Let’s see what we find, with the help of WF’s own mouser, Aston the Scottish fold (who couldn’t care less by the way, but he loves croquettes and I’ve got the keys…)

Abuelo XV (40%, OB, Panama, Napoléon Cognac Cask Finish, +/-2016)

Abuelo XV (40%, OB, Panama, Napoléon Cognac Cask Finish, +/-2016) Two stars
Well done Aston! I mean, come on, Napoléon… Why not Macron? By the way, in Spanish, abuelo seems to mean grandfather. The 12 was rather poor (WF 70) but the ‘Centuria’ has been better (WF 78). Colour: full gold. Nose: very fragrant, not dull, pretty complex, with subtle notes of honeysuckle, orange blossom, vetiver, ripe apricots, and juicy golden sultanas. Then rather the expected bananas and sandalwood. Not quite my preferred style, but I’m still finding this nose rather lovely. Mouth: there is a little too much sugar, for sure (or sweetening stuff, which might not be plain sugar), but other than that, this is more than acceptable, with some nice notes of tinned pineapples, then honey, then maple syrup. PX, vanilla syrup, arranged rum, cheap Sauternes… Finish: medium, too sugary this time. I think finishes ought to be dry, it’s always terrible when sugar’s lingering on your palate and makes you want to reach for your toothbrush. Comments: some sides are nice, but this one too has been sugared up to unnecessary levels. I’m sorry, grandpa.
SGP:720 - 70 points.

Panama? Panama!

The Taylor of Panama 13 yo 2004/2017 (59.3%, Kintra, cask #23, 249 bottles)

The Taylor of Panama 13 yo 2004/2017 (59.3%, Kintra, cask #23, 249 bottles) Two stars
I’m sure the funny name means something, I just haven’t got enough time to try to find out.  Colour: full gold. Nose: indeed, a whole different league, with much less aromatic sweetness, and rather more wood smoke, burnt molasses, and whiffs of moist cigars. There’s an earthiness that’s pretty pleasant, I have to say, but the very high strength may block it, let’s see. With water: more on cane juice and barbecued bananas, plus warm praline straight from your grandma’s oven, as well as molasses syrup sold as corn syrup which, in turn, was sold as proper honey. Oh forget about all that. Mouth (neat): better than the Abuelo, but we’re still in ron territories. There’s a lot of alcohol but the spirit is a little thin – well, seemingly. With water: light rum, pretty good rum. Bananas, tinned coconut water, a little caramel… Finish: short to medium. Not a fat texture. Comments: frankly, it’s very okay, as a spirit it’s just a tad empty. So, who’s that Taylor guy?
SGP:630 - 75 points.

Angostura ‘1919’ (40%, OB, Trinidad, +/-2018)

Angostura ‘1919’ (40%, OB, Trinidad, +/-2018) Two stars
This is the new livery. I have to say the wording ‘deluxe aged blend’ on the label is a little scary, sounds like the cheapest rum (or whisky for that matter) for Cameroon. Nothing against Cameroon, naturally. The latest 1919 I’ve tried (older livery, circa 2015) has been really very average (WF 70). Colour: gold. Nose: pretty nose, on sunflower oil, buttercream, hand soap, lilac, and a large pack of bonbons. Feels a bit ‘from the lab’, but that ain’t obligatorily bad. Not always. Mouth: ah, but this is very okay! Some flowery kind of liquid - I’m reminded of someone’s cold herbal teas, bananas sweets, mirabelle and apricot jams, quince jelly… Granted, there isn’t much body and the whole’s even a tad weak and too fragile, but at least it doesn’t taste like it’s been totally doctored, unlike many new brands that would just make any old alcoholic hippopotamus puke… well, you see what I mean. Finish: gets worse. Too weak and, this time, too sweet. Ah forget about the finish, finishes are always the justices of the peace, as we say in French. No good spirit without a good finish. Comments: we were having hopes, but those got partially shattered.
SGP:630 - 72 points.

Let’s try to get serious, if you don’t mind, and get back to Panama again…

Panama 13 yo 2004 (61.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R9.1, bourbon barrels, 254 bottles, +/-2017)

Panama 13 yo 2004 (61.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R9.1, bourbon barrels, 254 bottles, +/-2017) Three stars
This one’s nicknamed ‘Music for rockers of rum’, which makes us wonder, have they finally smoked all the geraniums up there in E-burgh? Yeah yeah, I know, they were pelargoniums, not geraniums… Colour: full gold. Nose: despite the high strength, this is as smooth as a baby’s bottom, with the mildest vanilla fudge and the most civilised sweet oakiness – which would involve that vanilla too. Very pleasant cane-iness, soft sponge cakes, and a wee bit of crunchy peanut butter. Some eucalyptus for sure. With water: some pine-y oak, eugenol and stuff, fir wood chips, a touch of pine tar, charcoal crayons… Mouth (neat): within this style, this is perfect, and I’m even impressed, while this is not my preferred style at all. See what I mean. Oranges, cane juice, a wee petroly side, and some rather big vanilla-ed notes, in a rather bourbony style. Do they have buffalos in Panama? With water: indeed, we’re navigating between rum and bourbon. US oak is playing matchmaker. Finish: medium, vanilla-ed, perhaps a tad thin and too sweet. Remember, this is Panama. Comments: may I suggest the board first comes up with the names, and only then tastes the spirits?
SGP:540 - 81 points.

Good, I think we’ve got some new rule – remember rules mean freedom – and that’ll be that no rum session will ever end without a Jamaican from now on. Angus MacRaild, RU listening?

Jamaica 16 yo 2000 (54%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R7.1, refill bourbon barrel, 254 bottles, +/-2017)

Jamaica 16 yo 2000 (54%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R7.1, refill bourbon barrel, 254 bottles, +/-2017) Four stars and a half
This ought to be Hampden, and so we have the highest hopes, since Hampden may well be WF’s favourite rum distillery. As for smoking the carpet and stuff, you’ll be happy to learn that they’ve baptized this baby ‘Welcome to Jamrock’ - look at the devastation that is caused by alcohol! Colour: straw. Nose: I’m hesitating between Motul and Veedol. And between gherkins and capers. This is, most naturally, impeccably Jamaican, and it’s rather a purer one. With water: oh yeah, Chinese general store circa 1980 (indeed been there), rubber, new wellies, new linoleum, bakelite… Mouth (neat): fantastic. UHU glue, nail polish remover, white spirit, diesel oil, Tippex, rotting bananas, and ‘stuff’. Extreme and perfect. With water: no water, it doesn’t swim well. Bah, 54% means nothing, you can take it. Finish: very long, glue-y, acetic, vinegary, full of perfect flaws. Comments: some Hs are a tad ‘purer’ and even funkier than this baby, but we’re flying very high again. Dry as a rock.
SGP:463 - 89 points.

(Lance, very mucho gracias compadre!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all rums we've tasted so far

 

August 11, 2018


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Further mixed pairs
Another assortment of random duos. A rather mixed bag of results this time around. A couple of blends to kick off...

 

Spica 20 yo 1997/2018 (45.2%, North Star, Blended Scotch Whisky, 1000 bottles)

Spica 20 yo 1997/2018 (45.2%, North Star, Blended Scotch Whisky, 1000 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: This feels like rather a high malt content with these nice notes of Christmas cake, apple compote, liquorice and prune jelly. Also some figs, mulling spice and celery salt. Some greener apple and cider notes come in time along with some sharper wood spices. Mouth: the grain is a little more lively here but there’s still a richness and a breadiness which gives a nice sense of roundness and texture. Some oatmeal flapjack, orange marmalade and limoncello. Also some rather biting spiciness, rye bread and cedar wood. Good. Finish: Medium length, with some grainy bite, notes of blood orange, mustard powder and a touch of aniseed. Comments: A simple but perfectly pleasing thing to sip if and when winter ever returns. I liked the roundness that the sherry influence brought to proceedings.
SGP: 441 - 84 points.

 

 

Blended Scotch Whisky 1979/2018 (53.3%, Berry Brothers for Royal Mile Whiskies, sherry butt, cask #4, 385 bottles)

Blended Scotch Whisky 1979/2018 (53.3%, Berry Brothers for Royal Mile Whiskies, sherry butt, cask #4, 385 bottles)
Colour: Light amber. Nose: A kind of sooty jam with lots of herbal resins and various types of citrus marmalade. Freshly baked breads as well with castor oil, a relatively fresh leafy quality and a rather lovely earthy, mushroomy aspect. Gets increasingly resinous, herbal and earthy with time. Really quite beautiful. Some touches of mint and eucalyptus with a little hoppy IPA and some cannabis. With water: opens up quite beautifully with many types of honey and pollen, some furniture wax, bay leaves and dried lemon thyme. Some slight notes of medicine as well. Excellent. Mouth: strawberry cough medicine with walnut wine, fir liqueur, angelica root, herbal teas, chamomile and some dry mead. Brown bread, a little dried lavender and menthol tobacco. Surprisingly punchy for the age, and if it’s a blend I can’t detect any grain whisky. With water: lime oil, a delicate note of natural tar, some bramble liqueur and a scattering of toasted seeds and trail mix. Some cherry bakewell slices and dates also. Finish: Quite long. On seeds, breads, earthy tones, very light waxiness and more herbal cough medicines. A little liquorice and wormwood in the aftertaste. Comments: Not sure this was a technically a blend rather than a blended malt. But, who cares, it’s terrific, highly quaffable old whisky.
SGP: 462 - 90 points.

 

 

Glenturret 28 yo 1987/2016 (44%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 162 bottles)

Glenturret 28 yo 1987/2016 (44%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 162 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: rather austere but also quite pure at the same time. This profile that reminds of stones, concrete and chalk. Underneath there’s lots of of dusty, plain malted barley, some chopped chives and parsley, and something akin to condensed milk sweetness. Quite nice really, it’s on the good side of Glenturret’s general wackiness. Mouth: some rather punchy notes of grass, slightly petroly as well with sunflower oil, grape must and rye bread. White flowers, aspirin, pebbles, graphite oil and some lanolin. It’s good and relatively clean, but it really retains something austere and slightly funky. Something like fermenting lemons in the background. Finish: Decent length. Develops these notes of shoe polish, fabric and lemon wax. Quite big for 44% I’d say. Comments: I find Glenturret to one of these rather idiosyncratic whiskies which, while often a tad bizarre, is also refreshingly humble and never not entertaining. This was a good one.
SGP: 351 - 85 points.

 

 

Glenturret 29 yo 1987/2017 (42.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 150 bottles) Glenturret 29 yo 1987/2017 (42.1%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 150 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: pretty much the same but with more butter, a touch of gravel, some cooking oil and a few handfuls of dry cereals. In time a few more white floral notes and some tart gooseberry. Generally its the same ballpark though. Mouth: milky muesli with some orange peel, cornflour, white bread, nutmeg, flinty smoke, cornflakes and a further porridgey quality. Again similar bit perhaps a bit simpler. Still nice enough though. Finish: A tad shorter and leafier, softer grassy notes, some olive oil, sourdough, white asparagus. Good. Comments: Another perfectly decent and humble wee Glenturret. I don’t think these whiskies will win too many accolades but they’re fun alternative evening sippers.
SGP: 241 - 83 points.
 

 

Cragganmore 1989/2011 (46%, Wemyss Malt, ‘Lemon Grove’, hogshead, 371 bottles) Cragganmore 1989/2011 (46%, Wemyss Malt, ‘Lemon Grove’, hogshead, 371 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: rather light at first and indeed lemony. Some pink grapefruit, lemon skins, coal dust, freshly malted barley, a hay loft and some very light waxy and earthy tones in the background. Clean, fresh, simple and pretty classical in style I’d say. In time some limoncello and melon notes emerge. Mouth: candy floss, marshmallows and turmeric with a grinding of green pepper. Vegetable oil, some very light marzipan and oatmeal flapjack. Again, like the nose, the palate is somewhat simple - maybe even a tad boring I have to say. Some plasticine and concrete emerge as things become globally a bit drier. Finish: Not the longest. All on face cream, cloves, various cooking oils and a touch of hay. Comments: All perfectly fine but a tad forgettable if I’m honest.
SGP: 351 - 79 points (I did like it a little better back in 2011, with WF 84 - for once -Serge.)
 

 

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2016 (51.6%, Whisky Agency for Art Taiwan & The Drunken Master ‘World Bar Tour’, hogshead, 239 bottles)

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2016 (51.6%, Whisky Agency for Art Taiwan & The Drunken Master ‘World Bar Tour’, hogshead, 239 bottles)
Colour: light amber. Nose: quite a different world from the Weymss. This is all on sweet pastry, polished hardwoods, some dark fruits, toasted brioche, buttery croissant, sultanas and some light mechanical oils - an oily old bike chain. Develops a leaner and slightly drier side with notes of putty and wood spice. Very satisfying. With water: light notes of tobacco, molasses, wild strawberry and pomegranate liqueur. Mouth: quite rich with lots of of leafy and milk chocolate notes, golden syrup, a hint of truffle oil and some treacle sponge cake. Ginger biscuits, cinnamon and a little marzipan. With water: fruit cake, maraschino, shortbread, butterscotch and darjeeling tea. Finish: Good length, all on soft spices, breads, quince, leafy tobacco notes and a little plum sauce. Comments: Sold and very quaffable Cragganmore. A good selection from our Taiwanese friends.
SGP: 541 - 87 points.

 

 

Strathmill 21 yo 1990/2012 (54.4%, Duncan Taylor ‘Dimensions’, cask #4248, 280 bottles)

Strathmill 21 yo 1990/2012 (54.4%, Duncan Taylor ‘Dimensions’, cask #4248, 280 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: ooft, it’s one of those sherry casks that seems to have previously held bovril or oxtail soup with a residual hint of natural gas. A dense and rather flabby sherry, lots of bicycle inner tube, slightly off prune juice and something akin to sour leather. Not sure this is the cleanest sherry really... some stale mushrooms, distant raspberry jam and a few clods of damp earth. Tricky stuff so far. With water: fresher raspberries now, mint julep, coal hearth, soot and some old wine cellars. Water seems to do the trick. Mouth: not so funky as on the nose, which is undoubtedly good news. Instead there’s quite a bit of earth, damp tobacco leaf, red fruit jams, more meaty tones but in this instance they’re more towards cured meats and heavy dark beers. Black coffee, stout, maraschino cherry liqueur and a touch of metal polish. With water: all rather good and classical now. A lively and lean mix of earthy, fruity and meaty sherry. Finish: Medium length and all on light notes of lamp oil, hessian, aged calvados, raisiny sweet sherry and balsamic. Comments: Well, that was touch and go to start with. Thankfully water and time seemed to clean things up nicely. I’m not sure how much the distillate character of Strathmill had to say amongst all this but it’s a fun wee bottling all the same. I’d avoid the nose though, just pour into a tumbler with a dollop of water and watch Planet Earth II.
SGP: 561 - 82 points.

 

 

Strathmill 11 yo 1980/1992 (60.6%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection)

Strathmill 11 yo 1980/1992 (60.6%, Cadenhead Authentic Collection)
This one looks like we’ll have an uninterrupted view of the distillery character of Strathmill - whatever that may be... Colour: white wine. Nose: tough! Lots of plastic, chalk, clay, plasticine, ink, newspaper. Pretty austere really. Some sunflower seeds and a drop of sesame oil, then a little tang of mint and wax. But generally it’s rather brutal. Let’s go directly to the water... With water: a few geraniums emerge alongside this sort of greenhouse note. Aside from that there’s brake fluid, WD40 and some kind of generic ‘kitchen grease’. Mouth: it’s one of these slightly bizarre and unusual high strength things that Cadenhead seemed to specialise in during the early 1990s (alongside many legendary bottlings as well), it seems to be very much a style of these blending factory malts during the era of the whisky loch. It’s all on plastic, sour apples, silage, cardboard, old chip oil and printer paper. Weird, difficult and pretty hot. Not hugely flawed, just a struggle. With water: getting more sour now, more cardboardy and even a tad on the rancid side. Finish: mercifully brief. Lingering vegetable notes, something like baked courgette. Comments: I had hopes that this one might be a nice alternative to the Duncan Taylor, but it’s really pretty naff I am sorry to report.
SGP: 241 - 64 points.

 

 

Those Strathmills were a bit of a struggle. Let's try to find some (theoretically) more enjoyable drams to finish up...  

 

Bruichladdich 8 yo 2009/2018 (50%, OB ‘The Organic’, bourbon)

Bruichladdich 8 yo 2009/2018 (50%, OB ‘The Organic’, bourbon)
According to Bruichladdich’s website this one is made entirely from organic barley grown at the Mid Coul farms in Dalcross outside Inverness. Apparently it has to take its turn in a seven year crop rotation that includes cattle, sheep and other crops. Rather cool I think.  Colour: Straw. Nose: a lean and buttery sweetness from the first fill bourbon casks initially but underneath quite a bit of lemon peel, sea air, citrus marmalades and some trodden greenery such as smooshed dandelions and dock leafs. Grassy olive oil, a clean, pure and slightly dusty maltiness and gentle farminess in the background. Lots of crushed oatcakes and hay as well. Really excellent I think. With water: lots of rather brittle but fragrant minerality: beach pebbles, flints, chalk and sandalwood. And many more cereal and citrus aspects. Mouth: barley sugar, lemon barley water and a surprisingly saline edge that alludes to brine and raw sea water. More sweetness after this, some vanilla cream, sweetened mascarpone, a tiny flicker of ointment and lamp oil. With water: this seesaw between sweet and dry continues. More gristy, punchly maltiness alongside notes of sherbet, vanilla ice cream and light earthiness. Finish: long, lemony, earthy, malty, slightly sooty, salty and extremely crisp. Comments: I really love that these contemporary Bruichladdichs manage to manifest so much character and flavour at a younger age and largely without any peat. It’s really excellent whisky. Give these batches a couple more years and they should easily be exceeding 90 points I think.
SPG: 552 - 89 points.

 

 

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2018 (62.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, ‘Punchy, wacky, ashy!’, #23.74, first fill barrel. 221 bottles)

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2018 (62.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, ‘Punchy, wacky, ashy!’, #23.74, first fill barrel. 221 bottles)
Colour: White wine. Nose: There is something undeniably distinctive about these ‘new’ vintages of Bruichladdich - especially now that they are starting to get into a more mature stride. There is a real grubby, greasy kind of coastal/farmy quality to this one. Overlaid with a creamy vanilla aspect from the cask and then subtle notes of cornflakes, mashed potato, cider apples, chives and wholegrain mustard. There’s also a medical aspect, curious notes of dental floss, very light antiseptic and a big, gravelly, bruising, sooty minerality. With water: lots of white flowers, flints, beach sand, sea salt and a background hint of olive oil. Still a beast. Mouth: A mouthful of crushed nettles, grass liqueur, Tequila blanco, concrete, chalk, lime juice, wax and crushed aspirin in lemon juice. Totally crazy, rather immense distillate. Almost goes to war with you without provocation. I rather love it. With water: coal tar soap, lanolin, fabric, smouldering sandalwood, juniper and hessian. Immensely characterful distillate. Finish: Long, thick, farmy, oily, salty, ink, chalk, lime rind - superb! Comments: I love a lot of what Bruichladdich do, but I would like to see them put out more totally naked, pure, potent bottlings such as this. It’s undoubtedly one of the most characterful distillates still made in Scotland. Great selection by the SMWS. I suspect it may be too brutal for some people, but for fans of raw, unbridled, distillate-derived personality in their whiskies, you could do a lot worse.
SGP: 472 - 90 points.

 

 

Finally to Campbeltown...  

 

Campbeltown Blended Malt 4 yo 2014/2018 (57%, North Star Spirits, two refill hogsheads, 726 bottles) Campbeltown Blended Malt 4 yo 2014/2018 (57%, North Star Spirits, two refill hogsheads, 726 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: there is youth but it’s not ‘uncouth’ (oh please!). Lots of crab sticks, preserved lemons, beach foam, hot grist, salt n vinegar crisps and some pretty lively medicinal notes in the background. Green peppercorns in brine and a little earthy peat. With water: saline, greasy, oily, fat and glistening with notes of raw shellfish, paint and hot mashtuns. Mouth: the youth doesn’t bite too sharply. There is a glimmer of something slightly greasy and yeasty but it’s pretty well wrapped up in more salty, fish n chip notes, fishing nets, light tarriness, diesel fumes and farmyard notes. Some silage and damp hay. There’s also some notes of black olives which I quite like. With water: pear eau de vie with honeyed porridge, coal dust and taramasalata. A wee dusting of hot smoked paprika as well. Finish: pretty long and hot. Lots of aspirin, burned leaves, smoky grist, charred lemon chunks on a BBQ and some peppered mackerel. Comments: It’s pretty good for 4 year old whisky and what’s charming about it is that it possesses a clear ‘Campbeltown’ style, which I think such bottlings should do. The ideal whisky for doing your accounts, or processing a divorce, or when you’re marooned at sea etc...
SGP: 363 - 85 points.
 

 

Glen Scotia 16 yo 2001/2018 (53.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, ‘A masculine enigma’, #93.90, refill hogshead, 175 bottles) Glen Scotia 16 yo 2001/2018 (53.1%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, ‘A masculine enigma’, #93.90, refill hogshead, 175 bottles)
Colour: White wine. Nose: Lightly ashy with lots of chalk, aspirin, medicine and barnacle encrusted rocks. Treads this rather wonderful tightrope between coastal and farmyard aspects that many of these modern, lightly peated Scotias seem to balance. Lemon drops, hessian, old rope, creel net, cough medicine and some dried seaweed. With water: all on preserved lemons, sea water and fabric softener now. A gravelly smokiness and a warw bowl of kedgeree. Mouth: Ointment, gauze, lemon cough drops, smoked wax, kippers, BBQ sauce, bonfire smoke and peat ash. Rather straightforward but fulsome, clean and characterful; absent is the old Glen Scotia cheesiness. Salted fish and beach pebbles with a little cow hide and farmyard funk. With water: carbon paper, ink, lime juice, cullen skink and a rather wonderful, mechanical oiliness - tractor-esque even. Finish: Long, earthy, sooty, smoked hay and a fermentary note of cider apples and sourdough starter with lemon juice. Comments: Glen Scotia is another distillery to watch these days if you ask me. I still find the official releases a little unlikely, but when you find these totally untampered with, pure examples from the indys then it’s really a top class distillate.
SGP: 475 - 89 points.
 

 

 

August 10, 2018


Whiskyfun

WF

Wait, it seems that we turned 16 last week!
So let's have Clynelish! Yay!

Looks like the heatwave we’ve had made us lose all senses, we even forgot, indeed forgot, to celebrate Whiskyfun’s 16th Anniversary on July 27. Seriously, we just forgot.

But I checked our stats – which we don’t do much, as we’re more about quality, aren’t we, while Google rather favours function and business over content relevance these days – and to my utter amazement, our numbers have been rising a wee bit over the last twelve months, from roughly 3.5Mio visits last year to around 3.85Mio. That’s exactly 10%, whoopee! July’s even been a record-breaking month, I just do not know why as summer’s usually quite quiet. Anyway, do not expect any form of rant or long development today, let’s simply have a few finger-licking-good Clynelish if you don’t mind, while thanking dear Angus MacRaild for all his help over the last months.

 

Clynelish 9 yo 2008/2017 (54.3%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon barrel)

Clynelish 9 yo 2008/2017 (54.3%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon barrel) Four stars
Always enjoyed what the little German company The Whisky Cask were doing. Friendly people, no big heads, and careful selections. As for this ‘lish, at such young age we should be all on the juice, let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: get out of here, this is purely limestone-y Clynelish, with the greenest lime and the rawest gooseberries and rhubarbs thrown in, together with something like grated propolis or even Play-Doh, then rather cantaloupes. This is pure Clynelish, just not utterly complex this far, which is normal at 9. With water: more malt bread, oriental brioche, porridge… I wouldn’t call it ‘Mr Waxy’ yet. Mouth (neat): really very sharp, close to the driest martinis (last time I had some in Glasgow it was only gin with one single olive, if I remember well). Green, acidic, blade-y, sauvignony, rough… With water: I think we managed to tame it, but it remained pretty green and sharp, with a tiny petroly side. No big wax, though. Finish: long, raw, green, porridge-y. Bitter grapefruits in the aftertaste. Comments: very good, but wondering if the receiver hadn’t been un-sludged, if you see what I mean.
SGP:361 - 85 points.

Clynelish 12 yo 2005/2018 (55.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry butt, cask #308764, 518 bottles)

Clynelish 12 yo 2005/2018 (55.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry butt, cask #308764, 518 bottles) Four stars
I wouldn’t say Clynelish + sherry always works, but let’s see, and after all this is refill. Colour: gold. Nose: ah, leather, tobacco, more leather, caraway, walnuts, star anise, cinnamon, muscovado sugar, nutmeg, orange blossom water, Fanta or Fanta-y scents… You got it, the sherry’s impact remained quite huge, let’s see what water will do to it… With water: walnut wine with some cinnamon and orange zests. This one’s ready for Christmas. Mouth (neat): it’s very rich and very creamy, with a thick leathery impact and many walnuts – which hints at oloroso – and reminiscences of the old Clynelish Flora and Fauna. Perhaps of G&M’s older brown and orange label at C/S too… There are also touches of mustard over all those walnuts. With water: I would say the oranges came to the front of the stage again. Finish: long, really spicy and as tad bitter – a in bitters. Comments: a very interesting counterpoint, after the very naked 2008. Level of quality is similar, that is to say high.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Clynelish 17 yo 1996/2014 (58.2%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions)

Clynelish 17 yo 1996/2014 (58.2%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions) Five stars
An early First Edition that had slipped through my fingers. Watch this, the vintage was great. Colour: white wine. Nose: theeere, chalk and beeswax, linseed oil, grapefruits, clay, plasticine, kiwis… With water: exceptional mossy smells, fern, autumn leaves, perhaps a touch of bitter almonds – or orgeat syrup, this is so fully Clynelish! Mouth (neat): perfect. Lemon, grapefruits, green pepper, waxes, chalk, green tea. That’s what the people want. With water: herbal teas, a touch of tobacco, green oranges, hints of coriander and cardamom… This one sure has depth and structure. Finish: long, more mineral, almost a tad quinine-y. The minerality’s bordering on smokiness, while this isn’t properly a smoky whisky. Comments: I cannot have enough of this, more proof that Clynelish, most of the times, remains one of the greatest distillates on earth. And that is why I’ve chosen it to celebrate WF’s 16th birthday!
SGP:462 - 90 points.

More 1996 please…

Clynelish 20 yo 1996/2017 (51.2%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon hogshead)

Clynelish 20 yo 1996/2017 (51.2%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon hogshead) Five stars
What I also enjoy with The Whisky Cask is that they’re using truly original artwork. Colour: white wine. Nose: this is a sharper one again, with some very dry white wine, some unexpected notes of tinned sardines (ex-herring casks – probably not ;-)), new plastic or new shoes, and a lot of rubbed or crushed leaves and herbs, grass, cactus, oyster plant… To say that this one’s rather singular would be an understatement. With water: a bit more rounded, with our beloved old tweed jacket that’s seen many moons and rains, as well as some pastry dough flavoured with orange blossom water. Mouth (neat): very funny. Sardines again, perhaps even anchovies, drowned in litres of lime and lemon juice, plus two or three blackcurrants and the sharpest and greenest gooseberries. I have to say I’m about to fall in love with this very unusual profile - while wondering if anybody could make the same again, on purpose. With water: oh fennel seeds and even dill! That would go well with the fish, but the fish has gone as soon as water’s been added. How bizarre. Finish: long, perfect, on salted tequila, perhaps. Sutherland Margarita, that was her name. Comments: terrific Clynelish, but sadly, no surprise. Bah…
SGP:362 - 90 points.

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2017 (55.5%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, hogshead, cask #8672, 566 bottles)

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2017 (55.5%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, hogshead, cask #8672, 566 bottles) Five stars
In theory, nothing could or should go wrong here. Colour: straw. Nose: a different style again, and this time we’re first finding magic mangos and a bucket of lavender honey, then melons and grapefruits, with a little shoe polish and candle wax. Some pu-erh tea too. This profile is even harder to beat in my book. With water: ooh, we’ve just opened a beehive! Mouth (neat): exceptionally sharp, lemony, chalky, perhaps a tad sulphury in the best of ways (ala Mortlach), with anything from some grapefruit. Green pepper too, apple peelings, hops, artichokes… I adore this full and very imposing profile, even if it is a tad austere. With water: careful, do not add too much water or it would lose its fruits. But if you don’t, you’re in for a waxy and citrusy treat. Finish: long, waxy and citrusy. Paraffin in the aftertaste. Comments: plain and pure Clynelishness, in the (many) good vintages Clynelish is one of the Coltranes of whisky.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

Happy birthday, little Whiskyfun! If I may…

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Clynelish we've tasted so far

 

August 9, 2018


Whiskyfun

A few Teaninich

It’s uncommon but the indies have/had some from time to time. Some have been very good, I think…

Teaninich 18 yo 1999/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # 12675, 328 bottles)

Teaninich 18 yo 1999/2018 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # 12675, 328 bottles) Three stars
Remember Diageo had a really good 1999 last year within their Special Releases (WF 85). Colour: straw. Nose: funny. Petrol, paraffin, sour cream, custard, cassata, café latte, barley syrup. Wee whiffs of new plastic, remember at the supermarket? Or that new brand Volkswagen? Mouth: traces of paraffin left, otherwise lemon, vanilla, grass, cactus juice, cider apples, raw rhubarb. A tad acidic, but that isn’t unpleasant, you can count your vertebras when it goes down. Ha. Finish: medium, still acidic. More grass and lemon juice, shall we call this a detox whisky? Comments: this one was really very grassy. Neymar should love it. Oh come on!...
SGP:471 - 82 points.

Teaninich 11 yo 2006/2018 (55.2%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 450 bottles)

Teaninich 11 yo 2006/2018 (55.2%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 450 bottles) Four stars
This one from two bourbon hogsheads. As Cadenhead have demonstrated in numerous occasions, vattings of two or three casks can make wonders, especially with youngsters (talking about the casks, not about the drinkers). Colour: white wine. Nose: lemon in porridge, plus ink and new magazines. The new IKEA catalogue. With water: gravel, coal pit, herbs, paper pulp. Mouth (neat): perfect. A blade, with barley syrup, lemon juice, paraffin, and grass. Not many elements, but the balance is perfect. With water: wonderfully straight. Finish: long, grassy, austere in a good way. Chalky sauvignon (don’t Cadenhead order sauvignon blanc in bulk? But shh… ) Comments: a tad minimal, but perfect. In a way, this is what I would expect from Japanese whisky, but that’s probably just me.
SGP: 361- 87 points.

A trio, that would be enough. But let’s try to find an old one then… Ah, there…

Teaninich 32 yo 1983/2016 (51.8%, Adelphi, for Paul Ullrich Switzerland, cask #6753, 211 bottles)

Teaninich 32 yo 1983/2016 (51.8%, Adelphi, for Paul Ullrich Switzerland, cask #6753, 211 bottles) Five stars
Paul Ulrich is a great wine and spirits shop in Basel. They’re also importers and distributors – and cool, passionate people. Hoppla! Colour: gold. Nose: great young whisky is excellent, but it cannot beat great old whisky, that’s a fact, whatever may be said elsewhere. So, we’ve got wonderful oils and ointments here, waxes, a tarry/coastal side that reminds me of old Ardbeg (not making this up, by jove!), essential oils (mint, eucalyptus), red wood,  citrons… In truth this is masterful. Where was this cask? With water: subtle resins and waxes are running the show. Car polish. Mouth (neat): exceptional, full, resinous, waxy, citrusy, medicinal, bandage-y, indeed pretty old-Ardbeggian, full of wee old resins and balms the recipes of which have been long forgotten… Well this is one amazing old whisky! With water: and it takes water very well. Stunning green sappy profile, with some propolis and many other kinds of natural waxes. Finish: long, perfect, waxy. Comments: well done Paul Ullrich, well done Adelphi! I seem to remember we’ve encountered some old Teaninichs that had a Clynelishy side before. This is just another wonderful example.
SGP:452 - 92 points.

We could have had some other Teaninichs, but frankly, after that marvelous 1983, that would have been mission impossible.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Teaninich we've tasted so far

 

August 7, 2018


Whiskyfun

Seven Glen Keith

I remember the old official Glen Keith 10 yo in its square bottle was widely available in France around the year 1998. I had tried it one or two years later and gave it a WF 79. There was also a 1983 that I had scored very similarly. But enough with numbers…

Glen Keith ‘Distillery Edition’ (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Glen Keith ‘Distillery Edition’ (40%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars
A humble little official NAS that, according to the label, was ‘distilled by master craftsmen’ and ‘matured in traditional oak’. Good to know. Colour: straw. Nose: a nice easy cake-y start, full of barley, vanilla, and overripe apples. Some brioche and some hints of butter pears as well, then dandelions and the softest of all honeys. Gets then a little maltier, almost ale-y, in a gentle way. Certainly not unpleasant! Mouth: totally in keeping with the nose, with more brioche and overripe apples, custard, a few raisins, and then some fresh walnuts covered with a  little honey. Honey roasted pecans., a touch of green oak. Finish: medium, malty, pretty dry this time. Leaves your mouth clean and tidy. Comments: a good, solid, honest young malty Speysider, but with less fruitiness than in most indies we could try.
SGP:451 - 80 points.

Speaking of indie Glen Keith…

Glen Keith 23 yo 1992/2016 (49.3%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength, bourbon, cask #120578, 144 bottles)

Glen Keith 23 yo 1992/2016 (49.3%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength, bourbon, cask #120578, 144 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: there are similarities, which is normal, but indeed this is fruitier, brighter, less malty/bready, and very much more on gooseberries, fresh apples, acacia honey, pollen, almond oil, honeysuckle, lime tree blossom, and then much more fresh mint leaves. That’s rather wonderful. Mouth: classic bright ex-bourbon Speysider, full of orchard fruits and seasoned with a little fresh grass and touches of grapefruit. More cinnamon from the cask coming through after ten seconds. Finish: medium, the almonds  that we had found in the nose being back. Nice citrus in the aftertaste, perhaps a touch of mango as well. Comments: classic fresh Speysider that matured slowly and surely.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glen Keith 20 yo 1997/2017 (54.3%, Signatory Vintage for Acla Da Fans, hogshead, cask #72608, 318 bottles)

Glen Keith 20 yo 1997/2017 (54.3%, Signatory Vintage for Acla Da Fans, hogshead, cask #72608, 318 bottles) Three stars and a half
This one for the Swiss market. Colour: straw. Nose: grassier, more austere, more on leaves, green tea, sour dough, yogurt, gravel and clay… Water may let the fruits come out, let’s see… With water: indeed, that works, although we wouldn’t find a whole fruit salad either. Green apples, rhubarb, a touch of damp chalk… Mouth (neat): punchy, grassy, sour. Reminds me a bit of Brewdog’s cold-distilled beer, but this Glen Keith is gentler. Very grassy, though… Walnut skins, fresh liquorice wood… With water: much better. Fresh orchard fruits, grass, leaves, skins… Kiwis, perhaps? Does the job. Finish: medium, with notes of lime, more leaves, grass, cider apples, malt… A touch of curry in the aftertaste. Comments: not the sexiest Speysider ever, but at least it is all natural.
SGP:451 - 83 points.

Glen Keith 23 yo 1994/2018 (51%, Claxton’s, bourbon barrel, cask #1837-157671, 145 bottles)

Glen Keith 23 yo 1994/2018 (51%, Claxton’s, bourbon barrel, cask #1837-157671, 145 bottles) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: this one’s sweeter again, more on ripe fruits and honeys, apples, nectarines, peaches, also touches of banana and guava… Certainly the most expressive so far. Golden syrup, custard, orange liqueurs… With water: perfect, almond oil, barley syrup, apple juice, fresh sponge cake… Mouth (neat): very good, fruity, slightly banana-y again, then more on western orchard fruits, apples, gooseberries, red currants, then lemon… This really works. With water: some, just even more expressive. Perfect fragrant apples, papayas… Finish: medium, still very fruity. Beautiful freshness. Comments: indeed, perfect middle-aged ex-bourbon Speysider, were everything’s exactly where it should be (according to whom, S.?)
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Glen Keith-Glenlivet 23 yo 1993/2017 (51.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon, 240 bottles)

Glen Keith-Glenlivet 23 yo 1993/2017 (51.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon, 240 bottles) Four stars
Once again, some similarities to be expected… Colour: white wine. Nose: ah, interesting, the cask was less active, so while this is perfectly ripe and ready, you’ve got less vanilla and syrupy things, and rather more bright and zesty fruits, around lemons and pink grapefruits. Touches of plasticine too, that came unexpected. With water: some chalk. Mouth (neat): excellent. Lemon liqueurs plus touches of earth and caraway, mint, maracuja, sauvignon blanc. With water: a notch rounder and sweeter, a tad breadier/maltier. Finish: medium, perhaps a little less well-chiselled, but fine. Comments: extremely good, only the finish was a tad less entrancing, shall we say. Beautiful citrusy style.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glen Keith 1993/2017 (52.2%, Sansibar, 142 bottles)

Glen Keith 1993/2017 (52.2%, Sansibar, 142 bottles) Four stars
These are not the easiest sessions to do, as the whiskies, although very good, are not exactly characterful and the various casks relatively similar. No, I’m not saying this is getting boring! Colour: straw. Nose: a little more buttery and sour, that may be the cask. White wine, lemon-flavoured yogurts, then oolong tea, grass… With water: barley syrup, breakfast cereals. Mouth (neat): good, punchy, citrusy and grassy. Less honey and vanilla this time again. With water: very good. Lemon curd, spread, orange blossom honey. Finish: medium, citrusy. Comments: one more point because I really love citrus in my whisky. But we shan’t try more than one more Glen Keith today, I can tell you…
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Glen Keith 24 yo 1992/2017 (59.7%, Archives, bourbon barrel, cask #120633, 131 bottles)

Glen Keith 24 yo 1992/2017 (59.7%, Archives, bourbon barrel, cask #120633, 131 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one’s darker, so I guess the cask was fresher. Colour: deep gold. Nose: indeed we’re starting to get more mentholy aromas, saps, pine-y notes, pine cones, then the expected pink grapefruits and lemons, white peaches, hints of tobacco… But little vanilla, where’s the vanilla? Not that we shall complain, mind you… With water: wonderful pine-y earth, then the expected custardy notes. After all, this was a bourbon barrel. Mouth (neat): same pine-y notes, even camphor and eucalyptus, aquavit, then spicy orange liqueur, caraway, cedar wood… It’s quite balsamic, actually, and greatly different from the others, thanks to the wood. With water: perfect. Fruit salad and syrup with a dollop of crème de menthe. Finish: medium, wonderfully fruity. And then again, some mint in the signature. Comments: I think I found my favourite. Almost 90.
SGP:661 - 89 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Glen Keith we've tasted so far

 

August 6, 2018


Whiskyfun

 
 

August 4, 2018


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Five drops o’ the Irish
With apologies to the people of Ireland and the rest of the English speaking world for that title.

 

Connemara Distiller’s Edition (43%, OB, -/+ 2016) Connemara Distiller’s Edition (43%, OB, -/+ 2016)
A recent NAS from Cooley. Colour: white wine. Nose: oh! This is rather lovely. Lots of crushed nettles, New Zealand sauvignon blanc, grassy smoke, some kippers grilling in an adjacent room, herb butter, pebbles, flints and other assorted mineral notes. A few zingy citric notes as well. I find it clean and aromatically charming - whatever that means. Mouth:   soft, slightly herbal smokiness on arrival. Soft notes of tar, kelp, ointment, rubber fishing wellies and coal smoke. More cut grass, chopped parsley, lime juice and chalk. Maybe some salty porridge as well. Finish: Medium. All on sunflower oil, dry cereals, grass, lighter fluid, WD40 and parsley - dried this time. Comments: I should probably try more Connemaras. This one was pretty good.
SGP: 464 - 86 points.
 

 

Redbreast 21 yo (46%, OB, -/+ 2016)

Redbreast 21 yo (46%, OB, -/+ 2016)
A bottling I usually adore on the occasions I’ve tried it in the past, although this is the first time I’ve written proper notes. Colour: gold. Nose: golden syrup drizzled over passion fruit with ripe pineapple, melon, caramelised brown sugar and some sultanas stewed in old calvados. Simple and totally beautiful with these rather luscious and precise fruits. A touch of white pepper as well. Mouth: preserved lemons, lime oil, more brown sugar, fruit syrups, oatmeal flapjack and a little flinty minerality. Some green tea, hessian and then moving more towards white fruits such as lychee. Finish: Long, slightly earthy with a more nervous, citrus led fruitiness. Lots of lemon peel, olive oil, a touch of soot and some barley water. Comments: It’s really one of the benchmark Irish whiskeys in my book. Beautiful fruitiness.
SGP: 641 - 89 points.

 

 

Irish Single Malt 24 yo 1991/2016 (44.7%, Acla Selection, bourbon barrel, cask #1073,  176 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 24 yo 1991/2016 (44.7%, Acla Selection, bourbon barrel, cask #1073,  176 bottles)
Distilled in ‘County Antrim’ - so Bushmills. Colour: white wine. Nose: It’s this same rather unctuous aroma of crushed nettles and tropical sauvignon blanc. Lots of of guava, mango, passion fruit and also this rather lovely yeasty sourdough aspect as well. It has this dundery/fermentery side which goes towards green banana, finger limes and eventually and earthy, hessian note. Rather beautiful as with almost all these early 1990s Irish casks. Mouth: soft cereals, butter, ripe tropical fruits, lemon oils, barley water, sack cloth, lamp oil, herbal resins, cannabis oil. Wonderful and feeling impressively ‘fat’ for the strength. Continues with some mineral oil, juicy fruit bubblegum and mint tea. Finish: Long, sooty, tropical, lemony, grassy and oily. Comments: Another great one. I would love to know where this tropical quality comes from in these older Irish whiskeys.
SGP: 741 - 90 points.

 

 

Irish Malt 24 yo 1991/2015 (48.2%, Whisky Agency for Formosa Whisky Society 1st Anniversary, bourbon barrel, 143 bottles

Irish Malt 24 yo 1991/2015 (48.2%, Whisky Agency for Formosa Whisky Society 1st Anniversary, bourbon barrel, 143 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: this one is really on ripe plums, sultanas, lemongrass, dried tarragon, a drop of old yellow chartreuse and little flashes of dried mango, banana chips, grilled pineapple and papaya. Another wonderfully exotic and vibrant nose. Mouth: surprisingly spicy - lots of white and black pepper, strong darjeeling tea, lemon infused olive oil, nutmeg and even some quince. Citrus peels, kumquat (you’d like this one Serge), bay leaf and ripe green apple. More banana notes, green banana this time, along with a touch of chalk and graphite oil. Finish: Long, slightly flinty and with a touch of mango puree, salted liquorice and even a coastal edge creeping in. Comments: Another really excellent one, slightly more muscular in style with these salty notes and fruitiness that was kind of ‘meaty’ - if you see what I mean.
SGP: 651 - 90 points.

 

 

Irish Malt 24 yo 1991/2016 (48.2%, Whisky Agency for Formosa Whisky Society 2nd Anniversary, bourbon barrel, cask #12019, 180 bottles) Irish Malt 24 yo 1991/2016 (48.2%, Whisky Agency for Formosa Whisky Society 2nd Anniversary, bourbon barrel, cask #12019, 180 bottles)
It seems they take anniversaries pretty seriously over there at the Formosa Whisky Society... colour: light gold. Nose: drier, more on chopped fresh herbs, linseed oil, some bandages, lemony salad dressing, soft hessian notes and a green clorophyll quality. Even a touch of mustard powder in there. Globally I’d say it’s drier but more complex and intriguing. Mouth: the sweetness comes bounding out, lots of golden syrup on buttery toast, berry fruits, pineapple syrup and a little mead. Some notes of nettle, ointment, olive oil and even a little Tequila blanco. Finish: long, sharply lemony, drying again, mineralic, sooty and even subtly waxy towards the end. Comments: I love it a lot, but I think the fruity directness of the previous one was more to my taste.
SGP: 541 - 89 points.
 

 

 

August 2, 2018


Whiskyfun

Another barrow of grain

There’s more, always more single grain whisky. Now the question may be, could grain whisky make for some proper malternative? Perhaps some of them, but most malternatives, in my book, have been distilled in either pot stills or shorter column stills. But let’s not try to discuss that just know, and rather have a few examples… What comes out the boxes, really…

Girvan 2006/2017 (45%, Whisky and Rhum, Golden Barley, barrel, cask # 532406, 350 bottles)

Girvan 2006/2017 (45%, Whisky and Rhum, Golden Barley, barrel, cask # 532406, 350 bottles) Two stars and a half
This should be pretty elementary, but let’s hope it’s not empty spirit. Colour: white wine. Nose: a little medicinal alcohol at first, then rather the expected vanilla, a touch of nail varnish, a bag of wine gums, a wee hint of coconut, perhaps a drop of Red Bull (or two), and a pleasant earthiness that adds a little depth to this young grain. Mouth: it’s light spirit but I have to say balance was achieved, we aren’t quite on that ‘vanilla and basta’ style that some official grains are displaying. Yes that flat blue bottle. Other than that, there’s some sugarcane syrup and a touch of vanilla fudge. Finish: short and sweet. Comments: I thought this baby was rather better than other shy young Girvans I could try, most having been… erm… well I can’t even seem to remember them…
SGP:430 - 78 points.

Let’s try an older Girvan…

Girvan 28 yo 1989/2018 (52.7%, Liquid Treasure, bourbon barrel)

Girvan 28 yo 1989/2018 (52.7%, Liquid Treasure, bourbon barrel) Two stars
Colour: straw. Nose: harsher, more austere, perhaps even more on varnishes and nail polishes, with hints of fresh sawdust in the background. Which, indeed translates into vanilla and coconut, then white chocolate. With water: sawdust everywhere, we’re almost at Home Depot’s lumber & composites department. Mouth (neat): rather fruitier this time, and rather on pineapples. Also marshmallows, Fanta, orange squash, perhaps kiwis… As always with grains, the body’s a little thin, but the whole remains rather fine. With water: a wee metallic touch. Finish: short, perhaps on melon juice and probably on a light pina colada. Comments: fine grain whisky, the quality being more or less the same as that of the official Girvan 25. Indeed, not quite my thing…
SGP:540 - 76 points.

Let’s find another 1989…

North British 28 yo 1989/2018 (59.5%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, bourbon hogshead, 168 bottles)

North British 28 yo 1989/2018 (59.5%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, bourbon hogshead, 168 bottles) Four stars
Shall we find sweet maize?... Oh and always liked it that CAD would put some of their grains in their ‘World Whiskies’ series, as if they were believing that grain whisky cannot quite be Scotch. Ha. Colour: gold. Nose: not a rum cask? Indeed there’s something slightly Agricole to this, plus the usual vanilla, a touch of humus and mushroom, then rather cranberry juice, a pack of goji, and then more herbal notes always welcome in grain. Fern and moss, perhaps. With water: more moss, and some green tobacco, or green tea. More complex than many a single grain. Mouth (neat): it’s a grain that’s not too far from some lighter and fruitier malts (some Benriachs and Tomatins, perhaps) but it’s also got a funny medicinal side, as if that hogshead had contained some Laphroaig. Or maybe was the cask stored next to a Laphroaig cask ;-). Very good, very surprising. With water: excellent. Cassata, iced nougat… Finish: medium, clean, and quite funnily, a little barley-y. Comments: not the usual popcorny North British. Liked it quite a lot but shh!, don’t tell anyone, I feel I have to maintain some kind of standing.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Let’s try a Cambus, that grain that started it all in or around 1906.

Cambus 24 yo 1993/2018 (54.9%, James Eadie, sherry cask, cask #48093)

Cambus 24 yo 1993/2018 (54.9%, James Eadie, sherry cask, cask #48093) Four stars
Colour: deep gold. Nose: the sherry’s getting the job done here, with struck matches and walnuts, plus black tobacco (Gauloise) and cocoa, then some kind of meat soup. It’s really about the sherry. With water: a tad more mineral and tarry. New tarmac. Mouth (neat): fine! It was a rather good sherry cask, we’re having raisins, some tobacco again, a wee glutamate-y touch, a drop of miso soup, some bitter oranges… With water: gets really good, it seems to love water, which makes it thicker and, in a way, maltier. Marmalade and pipe tobacco, with less tar. Finish: medium, more on walnuts again. Comments: sometimes you have to prefer cask-driven whiskies! Excellent surprise.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Invergordon 27 yo 1990/2018 (47.7%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill barrel, cask #12356, 77 bottles)

Invergordon 27 yo 1990/2018 (47.7%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill barrel, cask #12356, 77 bottles) Three stars and a half
A very low outturn! Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s rather shy, starting with some cut grass and a little brioche, before more coconut and vanilla come out, then pineapple. That’s right, another pina colada, it seems. It’s a rather delicate one this time. Mouth: soft, easy, void of any varnish, rather on a fruit salad, then a little mead, perhaps, and indeed pina colada. Let’s not forget to mention vanilla, it’s not impossible that since grains are filled at a much higher strength than malt, they extract more vanillin and other vanilla-like compounds from the oak. Not too sure about this earthshattering theory, though… Finish: short, easy, round, sweet, fruity. Barley syrup. Comments: woosh, this one goes down just like that. Only grain, but very good grain.
SGP:540 - 84 points.

Since we’re at Invergordon…

Invergordon 45 yo 1972/2018 (49.6%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, cask #14772, 230 bottles)

Invergordon 45 yo 1972/2018 (49.6%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, cask #14772, 230 bottles) Four stars and a half
More and more bottlers are adding regions to their grains, such as Highland here, or Lowland elsewhere. Does that make any sense? Colour: gold. Nose: oh! Menthol cigarettes, brake fluid, antiseptic, Germolene, fir bark, leather polish, graphite oil, charcoal… In truth this is very ungrain, although there would be a little vanilla and coconut in the background. More pencil shavings and marzipan coming through after five minutes. Mouth: some kind of old crossbreed between Cuban rum and lighter Lowland whisky. Lovely notes of melon and papaya, even passion fruits, cane juice, white chocolate, praline, roasted sesame, hawthorn tea… Finish: medium, on exactly the same flavours. Pasion fruits keep singing in the aftertaste. Comments: perfect age here. In no way this much complexity could have been found when this cask was 10, 15 or 20. Or 30, or perhaps even 40.
SGP:640 - 88 points.

It’s all coming along nicely, isn’t it! Let’s focus on old ones now…

Cameronbridge 40 yo 1978/2018 (52.8%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill barrel, cask #12430, 211 bottles)

Cameronbridge 40 yo 1978/2018 (52.8%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill barrel, cask #12430, 211 bottles) Four stars and a half
In truth I couldn’t tell you much about Cameronbridge. Colour: gold. Nose: a drop of Maggi on and in an orange salad, then some brown ale, wok sauce, walnut wine, and cigarette tobacco, with a thin layer of mango jelly over all that. Not a refill sherry cask, really? With water: utterly love it when parsley’s coming out. Mouth (neat): no, indeed, we’re geared towards bourbon this time, and towards Irish as well. In fact this is almost a blend of Weller and Bushmills. Mangos, vanilla, papayas, maple syrup, honeydew, coconut balls, millionaire shortbread… Excellent! With water: careful, don’t let it drown. In fact, water may be unnecessary here – for once. Finish: medium, fresh, fruity and bright. And moreish. Comments: a sumptuous old grain. I think this was the best Cameronbridge I’ve ever tried. Sorry mum, I mean my favourite.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Carsebridge 41 yo 1976/2018 (49.1%, Cadenhead, hogshead, 144 bottles)

Carsebridge 41 yo 1976/2018 (49.1%, Cadenhead, hogshead, 144 bottles) Three stars
I didn’t know CAD were still using this label. I like that, why should things always change? Colour: gold. Nose: some tarmac and rubber at first, which comes unexpected, then rather Jaffa cakes, chestnut honey and black chocolate. Bicycle inner tube, truffle oil… Mouth: unusual, rather bigger than other grains including very old ones, with notes of lemon and rhubarb pies, honey, and always this tarry side, just toned done on the palate. Funny guavas, more honey. Thick mouth feel for a grain. Finish: surprisingly long – grains are usually short, in my book. Comments: I don’t quite know what to think. Some sides are fantastic (these fruity pies and this honey) but the rubber’s a tad, say un-called for. Let’s proceed with caution…
SGP:641 - 80 points.

Girvan is back!...

Dumbarton 53 yo 1964/2018 (46%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, bourbon, cask #14926, 192 bottles)

Girvan 52 yo 1965/2018 (44.8%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, bourbon, cask #13927, 166 bottles) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: this is the kingdom of tobacco and patchouli, really. It is a wonderful nose, and certainly one of the most floral I’ve ever, err, nosed. Wisteria, dandelions, dried roses, maybe wee whiffs of mothballs, burning charcoal, old magazines… This is really something else! Mouth: excellent, all on various herbal teas and sappy concoctions, marzipan, crushed hazelnuts (halva), argan oil, marc de Bourgogne… This one really got very complex, it’s amazing whisky. And mind you, Girvan! I think I forgot to mention mangos. Finish: medium, superb, lovely, fantastic, mesmerizing, flabbergasting, intriguing… A touch of coconut oil in the aftertaste. Comments: not the first time we’re coming across some wonderful old grains in this series. These are grains worth trying – and purchasing. Plus, you’ll impress just anyone with these old ages…
SGP:562 - 91 points.

And a last one…

Dumbarton 53 yo 1964/2018 (46%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, bourbon, cask #14926, 192 bottles)

Dumbarton 53 yo 1964/2018 (46%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, bourbon, cask #14926, 192 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: this old baby’s completely different, much more on milk chocolate, cappuccino, macchiato, hazelnut liqueur, Nutel… no, not that thing, butterscotch, soft marzipan, meringue, croissants… Mouth: a little less complex than the Girvan, but it’s got some stunning notes of aniseed, lime, dill, fennel… You’d almost believe this is 100% sauvignon blanc from Sancerre! It gets then more rancioty, almost meaty, but it’ll never lose its freshness. Rosehip. Finish: medium, a tad sour in a pleasant way. Rosehip tea indeed, blood oranges, white Pessac (there is one that’s not too expensive and that I would heartily recommend, that’s Château Bouscaut white)… Comments: 50 years, that’s even better than 40. Only thing with these grains, never ever even consider thinking about the premises where they were made when tasting them.
SGP:661 - 89 points.

Very happy with this session. We’ll have more grains… in a few months.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all grains we've tasted so far

 

August 1, 2018


Whiskyfun

 

July 2018 - part 2 <--- August 2018 - part 1 ---> August 2018 - part 2


 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Clynelish 17 yo 1996/2014 (58.2%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions)

Clynelish 20 yo 1996/2017 (51.2%, The Whisky Cask, bourbon hogshead)

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2017 (55.5%, Signatory Vintage, Cask Strength Collection, hogshead, cask #8672, 566 bottles)

Teaninich 32 yo 1983/2016 (51.8%, Adelphi, for Paul Ullrich Switzerland, cask #6753, 211 bottles)

Girvan 52 yo 1965/2018 (44.8%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, bourbon, cask #13927, 166 bottles)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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