Whiskyfun
Home
(Current entries)


Whisky Tasting

 
 

Daily Music entries
 
 


 

 

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

December 2013 - part 1 <--- December 2013 - part 2 ---> January 2014 - part 1

 

December 31, 2013


Whiskyfun

SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter ;-))

Taking stock of the situation
at Whiskyfun Towers

Friends, I know I'm writing this every single year, but Whiskyfun's figures have been rising again in 2013, after a sluggish start of the year. It seems that quite amazingly, this lousy website is still standing on its two feet and December's actually been a record month. Globally, we'll have welcomed around 2Mio visits this year, with a serious proportion probably not exatcly 'high quality' or 'on target', as the marketeers say, vs. around 1.8Mio in 2012, not taking feeds or social media into account of course. So, roughly +10%, that's all fine, I thank you all.

As for 'whisky' as a whole, I'd say 2013 will have been much in line with the previous years. There seems to be more and more no-age-statement whiskies, usually youngsters hiding their ages (not always) and an acceleration of the use of wood/casks as seasoning agents rather than as maturation vessels. That translates, in my humble opinion, into a progressive change of styles with, in general, more secondary flavours (vanilla, coconut, maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger) and proportionally less primary and tertiary flavours (all the tinier, more complex aromas). May I remind you that, in wine and also with aged spirits, primary flavours come from the original liquid, so the distillate, while secondary flavours come from the maturation vessels and tertiary ones from age and all the interactions that occur within a cask or a bottle?

Vanilla
That means that what I call 'modern' whisky's more and more a kind of  'flavoured' spirit, as even older ones are more and more 'enhanced' using finishing methods, whether that's disclosed on the labels or not.

Notes of vanilla, maple/corn syrup, cinnamon, ginger or pencil shavings will usually give that away in my experience, but even if I'm a die-hard fan of spirit-driven whiskies (vs. oak-driven or oak-forward), I wouldn't say that's always a bad thing and I've tasted many 'actively re-racked' Scotches that have been much to my liking. They're just much less, err, romantic. It's also to be noted that these moves are much more discernible at the owners', while many indies keep issuing whiskies that have spent their whole lives in one single cask. Bless them. By the way, should a malt that's seen two, three or four different casks successively still be called 'single cask'? Ahem, that's for Pete & Jack.

Mind you, what the distillers seem to have achieved is to be able to adapt much quicker to demand, as you'll need only a few weeks or months to pick some 'fairly neutral' casks in your warehouse and to bend their flavour profiles by making them transit through recharred wood, new wood or casks that have been seasoned on purpose with various wines, esp. 'sherry'. Or any combination of such treatments, as long as they are deemed 'traditional' by the Scotch Whisky Association. You know, triple wood, quadruple wood, soon decuple wood I guess... Those methods used to be costly only ten years ago, but now that some retail prices have risen sharply, the costs of 'aromatising' your whiskies have become proportionally much lower. What's more, it seems that the public likes big bold sweet flavours more and more, so I say well done!

Cooking
Now, what may have to be feared is that what will differentiate various distilleries in the future won't be their distillates any more, but rather their respective wood recipes, what some call their 'wood technologies' - including the cheapo Spanish wines some are buying in bulk.  So, it's all getting a little more Burger King vs. McDonald's rather than Chambertin vs. Musigny, isn't it. Bah, let's only hope I'm exaggerating a lot, and that my fears aren't grounded.

Having said all that, I feel I have to add something about the rising prices and about premiumisation. Mind you, even Loch Lomond's premiumised theses days, there will soon remain only one Scotch that's not premium, The Claymore. Ha! Seriously, I have no problems with very high prices, as long as the whiskies are either truly exceptional (I mean, 92 points or more, not just 88 or 89) or genuinely rare. Or both, of course. What I don't like - but who does - is fake premium, that is to say brands that are targeting the 'wealthy uneducated' and are trying to flog average+ whiskies of which they have millions of litres with much pump and for four times their actual value. Counting on your customers' ignorance is very, very nasty, almost as nasty as stuffing unaware online magazines and newspapers with misleading articles written by fake experts who are actually nobody but their own salesmen in disguise and who are usually predicting that their already too expensive whiskies will triple in value within just one year. Boo!  

It's such moves - and other stinkeries that I won't mention here - that also drive me to tasting a little more malternative spirits, and boy I've already made some stunning discoveries in Cognac, Armagnac, Oaxaca, Jamaica or Guyana. You may expect more of those in 2014, but I swear I'll always strongly limit my malternative sessions to 10% of this little online tasting diary.

So, any other good news, you may ask? Of course! All the new distilleries are good news. All the new small independent bottlers are good news too. And all the splendid distillates, sometimes very young, that quite a few distilleries are granting us with these days are super-mega-hyper-great news, even if we sometimes have to source them from the indies when the distillers are a little too much into carpentry for my taste ;-).  Or too greedy. No, no names.

Nostalgia
So the golden age is today, and tomorrow it'll be tomorrow. I'm not a nostalgic man and I believe the good old days never existed. The Scotch we used to drink in the late 1970s, including many malts, weren't any better than today's in general, apart from a few totally hidden gems such as the mighty Islayers that were simply nowhere to be found. We even used to joke about the blends, claiming that you couldn't have them without drowning them into a large glass of that dreadful serial killer named Coca-Cola. 

And today, some people are ready to shell out €200 for a bottle of those bottlings, go figure! But it's true that some gained much complexity after thirty or forty years in glass...

But maybe it's also time to have a deeper look at the best new whiskies we've tasted in 2013. There's been exactly 72 new whiskies that were bottled in 2013 and that fetched 90 points or more in my little digital book, plus four other spirits.

Here's the list of my absolute favourites, but please remember that I've got many spirits that were bottled in 2013 yet to taste, so this is an incomplete list.

Whiskyfun’s
No Awards 2013

Oscar

95 points (1)

Brora 35 yo 1977/2013 (49.9%, OB, Special Release, 2944 bottles) I'm so glad Brora's ruling this wee list. Old loves are the best loves.

94 points (2)

Convalmore 36 yo 1977/2013 (58%, OB, Special Release, 2680 bottles) It's my friend Ivar who drew my attention toward Convalmore, I had always thought they were pretty unimportant. How wrong was I?
Lagavulin 37 yo 1976/2013 (51%, OB, Special Release, 1868 bottles) AKA the wrestler. Very challenging in a most wonderful way. The worst part is that the price is/was kind of justified. Hate to write that.

93 points (7)

Glen Grant 59 yo 1954/2013 (53.5%, Gordon & MacPhail for La Maison du Whisky, Book of Kells, first fill sherry butt, 120 bottles) Absolutely magnificent, in true G&M fashion. Anything in the 'Book of Kells' series is superb.
Glendronach 41 yo 1972/2013 (51.7%, OB, batch 9, oloroso sherry butt, cask #702, 448 bottles) There, a first Glendronach. Glendronach's been THE name of 2013.
Glenfarclas 1953/2013 'The Coronation' (51.1%, Specialty Drinks, crystal decanter, 60 bottles) One of the few remaining casks. Or when a lot of wood isn't obligatorily a problem. Huge complexity.
Karuizawa 1973/2013 (67.7%, Number One Drinks, sherry oak, cask #1607, 138 bottles) The other big name these days. To think that there will soon be no more...
Karuizawa 31 yo 1981/2013 (60.5%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, sherry butt, cask #78) La Maison managed to secure quite a few casks in 2013. Great job.
Port Ellen 34 yo 1978/2013 '13th Release' (55%, OB, Special Releases, 2958 bottles)  Great, of course, but the Brora and the Lagavulin were a notch more stellar this year, in my opinion.
Teaninich 29 yo 1983/2013 (57.5%, Signatory Vintage, refill butt, cask #8071, 471 bottles) A miracle by Signatory. My favourite independent malt of 2013.

92 points (11)

Ardbeg 'Uigeadail' (54.2%, OB, +/-2013) The recipe still works and greatly so.
Convalmore-Glenlivet 36 yo 1977/2013 (58.2%, Cadenhead, small batch, hogshead, 288 bottles) There, another Convalmore, this time by Cadenhead who've also been stealing the show in 2013 with Mark Watt's new 'blacks'. Very smart work.
Glendronach 20 yo 1993/2013 (52.9%, OB, batch 8, oloroso sherry butt, cask #3, 633 bottles) There, another Glendronach.
Glendronach 20 yo 1993/2013 (53.6%, OB for The Whisky Agency, Oloroso Sherry Butt, cask #4, 664 bottles) There, another Glendronach.
Glendronach 42 yo 1971/2013 (44.6%, OB, Bacth 8, Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon, cask #1246, 432 bottles) There, another Glendronach.
Glenfarclas 1953/2013 'Auld Alliance' (43.9%, OB, Spanish sherry butt, cask #1682, 125 bottles) All these 1953s were excellent.
Highland Park 15 yo ‘Loki’ (48.7%, OB, Valhalla Collection, 2013) A great full-bodied HP in the most unlikely packaging ever. Tastes and colours...
Highland Park 25 yo 1988/2013 (55.7%, Cadenhead, small batch, sherry butts, 1086 bottles) Massive and complex. One of the stars of 2013.
Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2013' (55.1%, OB) On the rise, I think. It's lost a bit of its previous sharpness and became a little more 'immediate', in the good sense of the word.
Lagavulin 1995/2013 'Islay Jazz Festival' (51.9%, OB, sherry butts) Jazz, enough said. It kills me not to be able to attend this festival, year after year.
Port Ellen 1982/2013 (59.5%, Malts of Scotland, Warehouse Diamonds, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 1306) A diamond indeed.

91 points (13)

Ardbeg 21 yo 1992/2013 (48.6%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, ref #DL10065, 232 bottles) Unreasonably expensive - no good for good will - but indeed, excellent.
Balvenie 30 yo 'Thirty' (47.3%, OB, +/-2013) Impeccable full Balvenieness. A delicacy.
Barbados 2000/2013 (58.8%, The Rum Swedes, 215 bottles) Yes, fairly young rum, and yes, from Barbados. When passionate whisky people are dealing with rum, this is what can happen. Brilliant.
Benriach 37 yo 1976/2013 (49.6%, OB, batch 10, hogshead, cask #2013, 102 bottles) 1976's emblematic of Benriach's fruitiest years. The well isn't dried-up.
Bowmore 17 yo 1996/2013 (52.7%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 307 bottles) Carsten Ehrlich and gang keep issuing fab whiskies. Sometimes simply the best, beating the officials fair and square.
Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1973/2013 (50.6%, Archives, butt, cask #3463, 156 bottles) Fresh and lovely. Another small bottler that's doing a great job.
Caol Ila 30 yo 1982/2013 (52%, Coopers Choice for The Limburg Whisky Fair, hogshead, cask #4721, 275 bottles) A half-surprise. Possibly the best Caol Ila of 2013.
Domaine Les Bidets 1989 (49.9%, L'Encantada, bas-armagnac, +/-2013) An impressive armagnac from a whisky drinker's POV. Beats many a great malt.
Glenallachie 1973/2013 (48.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask) A little gem of a fruity old malt. There's a little more Glenallachie these days, worth checking, it seems.
Karuizawa 33 yo 1980/2013 (60.3%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, sherry butt, cask #4556) There, another impressive Karuizawa.
Kilkerran 9 yo 2004/2013 'Work in Progress - Bourbon Wood' (46%, OB, batch #5) THE surprise. More about this baby later...
Ledaig 40 yo 1972/2013 (48.2%, Alambic Classique, oloroso sherry cask, cask #13310, 113 bottles) I hadn't thought we would see another Ledaig 1972. Legendary year.
Port Ellen 31 yo 1982/2013 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, 286 bottles) Still quite excellent.

90 points (42)

Ardmore 1991/2013 (53.8%, Malts of Scotland, rum barrel, cask #MoS 13018, 234 bottles) A rum barrel! I hadn't thought this would work.
Ardmore 21 yo 1992/2013 (49,7%, The Whiskyman, 175 bottles) Dominiek The Whiskyman keeps issuing very good malts.
Banff 1975/2013 (42.9%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #MoS 13023, 201 bottles) No one should miss these Banffs, they're probably the last casks.
Banff 36 yo 1976/2013 (49.8%, Cadenhead, small batch, bourbon hogshead, 192 bottles) Ditto.
Benriach 21 yo 1992/2013 (53.3%, OB, batch 10, Pedro Ximenez hogshead, cask #986, 312 bottles)
Benriach 36 yo 1976/2013 (49.3%, OB for The Whisky Fair, sherry, cask #731, 195 bottles)
Bowmore 12 yo 2001/2013 (52.9%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, refill butt, 484 bottles)
Bowmore 13 yo 2000/2013 (54.1%, Signatory Vintage for Whisky Live Paris 10th Anniversary, hogshead, cask #1429, 286 bottles) Crystal-clean.
Bowmore 1999/2013 (56.5%, Signatory Vintage for Le Gus’t, France, barrel, cask #800293, 236 bottles)
Bruichladdich 2002/2013 (55.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon barrel, cask #MoS 13026, 235 bottles) My favourite Bruichladdich in 2013. Great selection by MoS.
Bunnahabhain 26 yo 1987/2013 (60.3%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams, joint bottling with LMDW, dark version)
Bunnahabhain 40 yo 1973/2013 (46.2%, Acla Selection, refill butt, 167 bottles)
Caol Ila 18 yo 1995/2013 (57.5%, Wilson & Morgan, sherry butt, cask #10027) One of these sherry/peat bombs that can be so impressive. Not for the fainthearted.
Clynelish 16 yo 1997/2013 'Spiced Chocolate Cup' (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 302 bottles)
Cooley 21 yo 1992/2013 (56.3%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, bourbon barrel, 210 bottles) Ardbeg further west... Or something like that.
Craigellachie-Glenlivet 18 yo 1994/2013 (54.4%, Cadenhead, small batch, 432 bottles) Another lovely new 'black'.
Dalmore 25 yo (42%, OB, 2013) The brand may bore us stiff with their marketing, but the whisky can be great at times. This one was a fine example.
Derrumbes 'Pino Bonito, Michoacan' (45%, OB, mezcal, joven, +/-2013) Yes, a mezcal, and a white one at that. I've also tried other wonders from Del Maguey, Real Minero or Alipus.
Glencadam 39 yo 1973/2013 (44.1%, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 221 bottles) Glencadam remains a relatively small name IMHO, but this old version by The Whisky Agency really rocked.
Glendronach 10 yo 2002/2013 (55.6%, OB, batch 8, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #1988, 664 bottles) I know...
Glendronach 11 yo 2002/2013 (52.1%, OB for The Whisky Agency, Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon, cask #712, 624 bottles) I know...
Glendronach 17 yo 1996/2013 (53.1%, OB, batch 8, Pedro Ximenez puncheon, cask #1490, 709 bottles) I know...
Glendronach 19 yo 1994/2013 (58.4%, OB, batch 8, oloroso sherry butt, cask #101, 628 bottles) I know...
Glendronach 20 yo 1993/2013 (52,6%, OB for The Whisky Fair, oloroso sherry butt, cask #13, 668 bottles) I know...
Glendronach 21 yo 1992/2013 (59,8%, OB, batch 9, oloroso sherry butt, cask #195, 566 bottles) I know...
Glendronach 22 yo 1990/2013 (52.1%, Silver Seal) I know...
Glendronach 22 yo 1990/2013 (52.2%, Jack Wiebers, Great Ocean Liners, cask #3058, 167 bottles) I know...
Glenglassaugh 30 yo (44.8%, OB, 2013) I'm really curious about what will happen with Glenglassaugh in 2014. Will the new owners manage to push it like they did with Benriach and Glendronach?
Highland Park 'Ragnvald' (44.6%, OB, travel retail, 70cl, 2013) I don't like that it's NAS, but I loved the whisky.
Highland Park ‘Cask Strength Edition’ (56%, OB for Sweden, 2013) Just great.
Highland Park 28 yo 1985/2013 (48.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 252 bottles) So Cadenhead will have had two superb HPs in 2013!
Karuizawa 33 yo 1980/2013 (62.1%, OB for La Maison du Whisky, bourbon, cask #6431, 124 bottles) That's right...
Kornog 'Taouarc'h Kentan 13 BC' (46%, OB, France, Brittany, 907 bottles, 2013) I think this was the best French whisky I've ever had.
Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2013 (59.1%, The First Editions, refill hogshead, 292 bottles) The brand is affiliated with Hunter Laing. They have great whiskies, such as this Laphroaig and a Jura that almost made it into this wee list.
Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2013 (60.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #3, refill sherry butt, cask #700353, 527 bottles) Another superb 1998. Great distillate.
Laphroaig 2000/2013 (58.7%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 13010, 243 bottles) Ditto.
Littlemill 24 yo 1988/2013 (50.3%, The Whisky Agency, refill bourbon hogshead, 309 bottles) There were fewer ueberfruity Littlemills in 2013, but this one was great.
Longmorn 17 yo 1996/2013 (57.3%, Signatory Vintage for La Maison du Whisky, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #72321, 620 bottles) SIgnatory have great middle-aged Longmorns, it seems. The sherry's perfect.
Macallan ‘Sienna’ (43%, OB, 1824 series, +/-2013) I should not like all these NAS series, and indeed not all were to my liking, but I have to admit that Sienna quite impressed me. Maybe I should add that I love Tuscany ;-).
Port Askaig 30 yo (51.1%, Specialty Drinks, 2013) The Whisky Exchange's CI. Impeccable.
Tomintoul 46 yo 1967/2013 (40%, Samaroli for Switzerland, cask #5417, 250 bottles) A whispering oldie, all elegance and fragility.
Vallein-Tercinier 'Hors-d'Age' (42%, OB, cognac, +/-2013) Superb little house. Their 1965 from three years ago fetched 95 in my book, so it's up there with the greatest aged spirits ever.

So...

Kilkerran bourbon
What strikes me is that this list, globally, is very different from what it would have been only ten years ago. Around 2003, it would have been dominated by well-aged Ardbegs, Bowmores, Broras, Highland Parks and Springbanks, while today it's more Glendronach and Karuizawa that are stealing the show, plus young independent Bowmores and Laphroaigs, many being released by the German bottlers and affiliated smaller bottlers.  Let's also add Lagavulin, rare and always great, some Highland Parks, the afterglows of Banff, Litlemill, Port Ellen or Convalmore and my personal favourite of 2013, even if it's not fetched the highest score of the year, the marvellous Kilkerran 2004 Bourbon batch #5 by the Springbank folks. For many reasons, were I to do whisky awards, I'd grant that very fairly priced little gem with the Triple-Platinum-Top-Notch- of-2013 Whiskyfun Award!
Anyway, Whiskyfun will turn 12 in 2014 - hopefully not the age of reason - and we should publish our 10,000th tasting note some time in May or June. But those are just meaningless numbers, aren't they...
Happy New Year and take care, my friend! - Serge
 

December 30, 2013


Whiskyfun

A little bag of excellent blended malts
(most peated)

Formerly known as vatted malts, or pure malts, which could also be single malts. Confusing? Well, blended malt's a little confusing as well... Let's only hope these whiskies won't be. Confusing, that is.

Auchnagie (46%, The Lost Distillery Company, blended malt, 2013)

Auchnagie (46%, The Lost Distillery Company, blended malt, 2013) Four stars'A present day interpretation' of the long gone Auchnagie malt whisky (distillery was closed in 1911). I'm sorry but I'm not able to refute any of that as I've never tasted Auchnagie. Have you? Colour: straw. Nose: what's striking is the 'old' style indeed, this baby's not unlike some long forgotten grains and apples in an old cellar, near an old coal pile and quite some rusty old tools. Behind all that, some fudge, ale and caramel. Nice nose. Mouth: well made, this is citrusy at first sips, becoming then rather fatter but there's always this zesty side. A little vanilla to coat all this, a few salty touches, rocks and gravel, a very mild peatiness and a few mirabelle plums. Very well composed, I have to say. Finish: good length, on vanilla, zesty fruits and a little clay. Comments: whether this tastes like Auchnagie, I couldn't tell you, but indeed the style is 'old', partly because of the mild peatiness. A very smart blend, I think. SGP:553 - 86 points.

Gerston (46%, The Lost Distillery Company, blended malt, 2013)

Gerston (46%, The Lost Distillery Company, blended malt, 2013) Four stars and a half What's cool is that the company have put a lot of data about the old distilleries on their website. That's good content. Colour: gold. Nose: this one is peatier, smokier and tarrier, and I can well imagine some old malts being similar to this. A lot of soot, coal smoke, fumes... It's all quite dry and noses as fat as pitch. How did they do that? Also cider apples, old leather, Barbour grease... Mouth: oh this is clever... Frankly, I used to think this venture was very fishy, but now that I'm trying the malts, all I could add is 'well done'. Perfect acridness, dry nuts, antiseptic, liquorice sticks, cough medicine, lime, green tea, ashes... Finish: very long, ashy and on full 'green' peat smoke. When acridness's an asset... Comments: a huge surprise again. What strikes me even more is that it does taste like a single malt, in a way, and not at all like a wishy-washy blend. Impressed. SGP:466 - 89 points.

Stratheden 'Vintage' (46%, The Lost Distillery Company, blended malt, 2013)

Stratheden 'Vintage' (46%, The Lost Distillery Company, blended malt, 2013) Four stars and a half The 'vintages' don't bear any vintages, they are older versions of each blend. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it's a bit lighter again, rather on walnuts, apples, orange peel and kumquats. I also find some hay and then more apples, tobacco, tree bark, hazelnuts... I really enjoy this freshness. A few raisins as well but the whole isn't exactly raisiny. Mouth: nah, there, another one that's excellent. There's quite some smoke again, a saltiness, iodine, apple peelings, lemons and citrons, then a little more brine, some wax, a drop a limoncello and bags of apple peeling. I have to say this doesn't taste very old, but it's pretty perfect. Finish: long, a little more medicinal and certainly smokier and more peppery. I some way, a mix of old Highland Park and Talisker... Comments: it seems that they all got me. They're all big whiskies and it really seems that the stories were not just... stories. Congrats. SGP:364 - 88 points.

3D (56.4%, Caskstrength.net, blended malt, 504 bottles, 2013)

3D (56.4%, Caskstrength.net, blended malt, 504 bottles, 2013) Four stars A funny one by and for whisky bloggers and writers Neil and Joel. It's a vatting of Dailuaine, Dalwhinnie and Dufftown, so probably a rather fat spirit. Let's see... Colour: straw. Nose: its a relatively fat spirit indeed, with some paraffin and lamp oil at very first sniffs, then more green fruits, greengages, gooseberries, then citrons... The whole is rather zestier, fresher and more 'nervous' that the components would have suggested. IMHO. With water: it really became mineral, on chalk, limestone... A Sancerre? Mouth (neat): starts very oily and a notch medicinal, with a feeling of cough medicine beside clay and chalk, then rather tangerines and grapefruits. Lemon tart, perhaps. With water: very good, both oily and quite fat and zesty and citrusy. Lemon tart indeed! Finish: long, on the same notes plus cider apples. Comments: I have to confess I'd have never quoted Dailuaine, Dalwhinnie or Dufftown, had I tried this baby blind. Loved the fat zesty citrus! SGP:551 - 86 points.

The Peat Monster 'Tenth Anniversary' (48.9%, Compass Box, blended malt, 2013)

The Peat Monster 'Tenth Anniversary' (48.9%, Compass Box, blended malt, 2013) Four stars These have always been to my liking, although I don't think I've tried all batches. Colour: white wine. Nose: when a crystal-clean Islayer meets mezcal blanco and white Caroni, or something like that. Very phenolic, smoky of course, tarry, briny and ashy. Behind all that, kippers and smoked salmon plus tiny-wee waxy touches that scream 'Clynelish!' Mouth: very salty, kippery, lemony, briny, ashy... In short, very, very coastal. There's some vanilla and acacia honey to make it a little rounder but in all seriousness, it's well a peat monster. Drops of cough medicine. Finish: long, very salty. Extreme manzanilla plus smoke and tar liqueur. Only the aftertaste is a wee tad sweeter and mellower (lemon drops). Comments: this was expected. Another excellent composition by Compass Box. SGP:457 - 87 points.

Big Peat 'Christmas Edition 2013' (54.9%, Douglas Laing)

Big Peat 'Christmas Edition 2013' (54.9%, Douglas Laing) Three stars and a half As usual, this baby contains Bowmore, Caol Ila, Ardbeg and Port Ellen. Christmas? I know, I'm late... Colour: white wine. Nose: there must be quite a few young casks in the vatting - yup, obviously not the Port Ellen - because there's a lot of smoked porridge, smoked water, even dairy cream... Sour smokes, I'd say. A lot, really a lot of brine too. Can you smoke pickled gherkins? With water: raw tarry peat, fisherman's ropes, pitch. Mouth (neat): ultra-young! Raw peat, wheelbarrows of pears (sign of youth) and a blend of apple juice and liquid tar. Quite extreme. With water: smoked seawater, cold lapsang souchong tea... Finish: long, very tarry. Tar liqueur, that's it. Comments: I know heavy peaters can be great at a very young age, and this is another fine example, but a little more polishing would have been welcome. Now, it does what it says on the tin, doesn't it. SGP:448 - 83 points.

Okay, there's room for one more... Only one!

Berry's Islay Reserve 16 yo (57.6%, Berry Bros & Rudd for Switzerland, +/-2013)

Berry's Islay Reserve 16 yo (57.6%, Berry Bros & Rudd for Switzerland, +/-2013) Four stars and a half Said to be a vatting of Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Bowmore, but shhh... Colour: straw. Nose: there's this feeling of mezcal that I like so much in some Islayers (which is related to the feeling of Islay that I like so much in some mezcals, err...) It's a more austere composition, less wham-bam, more elegant and more medicinal at the same time. Sea breeze, tincture of iodine, roots, beach sand... With water: typical raw wool, old kelp, plasticine and old mint liqueur. Smoked. Mouth (neat): woosh! An ultra-lemony combo this time, with huge citrus, peat smoke and brine. High impact! With water: the lemons and grapefruits come out even more, but the smoke and salt remain firmly there. Very kippery. Finish: long, salty, smoky and less citrusy than before. Comments: I'd bet all distilleries were taken in equal parts. Works very well, it's all very Islay. SGP:457 - 89 points.

Wait, maybe we could have another one, such as a vatting of older Islayers? This baby WILL be the last one today.

Robust Smoky Embers 21 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Creations, blended malt, 2013)

Robust Smoky Embers 21 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Creations, blended malt, 2013) Four stars A vatting of Ardbeg, Bowmore and Caol Ila this time, that's been further married in wood prior to bottling. Colour: pale straw. Nose: indeed, further ageing brought tinier, more complex flavours that weren't to be found in most others. We're talking putty, oil paint, diesel oil, tarmac, cigar ashes, beach bonfire, damp cardboard and various seashells. Oysters? All that isn't really big, rather delicate and slightly humussy/leafy after ten minutes. Mouth: it's a bit like if Caol Ila had the upper hand in the arrival, which is a little bizarre unless the vatting included 2/3 CI or more. So ashes and seawater plus almonds and marzipan, I'd say. And the obligatory kippers. It's all relatively light and clean. And good, of course. Not relatively good, frankly good! Finish: of medium length considering this baby's a full peater, with a little more lemon and always this ashy smoke that's very Coal Ila. Were's Ardbeg? I'm not saying I'm complaining, mind you... And I love these touches of green olives in the aftertaste. Comments: relatively easy, goes down well, great coastality (?!) and perfect freshness. What does the people want? SGP:456 - 86 points.

 

 

    Logo  
Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Yesterday's New Quintet (aka Madlib and gang). Track: a greatly noisy Piece For Brother Weldon. Please buy these guys' music...
 
 

December 29, 2013


Whiskyfun

A trio of Inchmurrin

As you probably know, Inchmurrin is one of the malt whiskies that are distilled at Loch Lomond Distillery. It's said to be the lightest of them all, so rather a 'Lowland-style' malt while Croftengea, for example, would be the 'Islay-style' one. Let's see...

Inchmurrin 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2013)

Inchmurrin 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2013) Two stars and a half While the official Loch Lomonds (and Rhosdus) used to be very cheap, these new Inchmurrins are rather heavily priced. Ha, premiumisation... Colour: pale white wine. Nose: warm porridge, and plenty of that. Add a little cardboard, bread and quite some cut hay, and you have it. This is extremely barleyish. Touches of peaches and melons coming through after a good ten minutes. Mouth: sweetened porridge and overripe apples, touches of grass, a lot of sweet bread (our beloved pumpernickel) and drops of sweet mustard. Maybe a little mead? Finish: good length, always on a lot of sweet grains/bread. A little plasticine and fudge in the aftertaste. Comments: I already liked the new 21yo (WF 80) and find this 15 quite good too. But you have to like bread dough... SGP:341 - 78 points.

Inchmurrin 19 yo 1993/2012 (58.1%, Signatory Vintage, casks #2844-45, 511 bottles)

Inchmurrin 19 yo 1993/2012 (58.1%, Signatory Vintage, casks #2844-45, 511 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: it's a grassier one, but the porridge, the leaven and the whole grains abound. Litres of beer as well, broken branches, grass... It's all quite austere. A little chalk as well, fern... With water: sawdust, porridge and more leaven. Maybe chives? Mouth (neat): creamy and rather citrusy, which is quite great, but I also find some plastic, burnt rubber and burnt bread. It's quite weird in my opinion, especially since there's also a growing feeling of... wasabi? With water: water really works and we now have a pleasant combination of apples, caramel fudge and vanilla, without any plastic anymore. A marginally sweeter version of the official 15. Finish: long, pretty clean, on Werther's Originals. Or fudge. More tannicity in the aftertaste. Comments: an interesting dram for sure. Good for toying with water. SGP:441 - 79 points.

Inchmurrin 16 yo 1996/2013 (62.8%, Master of Malt, sherry butt, 428 bottles)

Inchmurrin 16 yo 1996/2013 (62.8%, Master of Malt, sherry butt, 428 bottles) Four stars Colour: deep gold. Nose: this one's unexpectedly smoky, that may come from the cask. There's also a lot of ale, Guinness, earth, tobacco... Of course it's very strong so pretty hard to nose when undiluted, but the combo seems to work. With water: where do these lovely whiffs of blood oranges come from? And the floral side? Hawthorn? Honeysuckle? Moss? I have to say it is a surprise. Mouth (neat): very fine! Surprising again - and bl***y hot - but I really enjoy these huge notes of gingerbread. But quick, water please... With water: some kind of spicy honey, gingerbread again, sweet mustard, apricot liqueur... Unusual but excellent. Must have been a great cask. Finish: long, creamy, sweet, more on marmalade. A funny mustardy aftertaste. And maybe a little rye? Ginger? Comments: I think the wood did wonders, it cannot be the distillate, can it? SGP:551 - 86 points.

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

 

 

    Logo  
Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: WF favourite and French hidden gem Jacques Thollot. Track: Longitude Innée. Please buy his music...
 
 

December 27, 2013


Whiskyfun

Aberlour Cadenhead black label
new vs. old

In the ‘black’s the new black’ series by Cadenhead, let’s have Aberlour today - I mean, Aberlour-Glenlivet – but first, a much older version.

Aberlour-Glenlivet 15 yo 1963/1978 (45.7 GL, Cadenhead, black dumpy)

Aberlour-Glenlivet 15 yo 1963/1978 (45.7 GL, Cadenhead, black dumpy) Four stars As you probably know, GL means Gay-Lussac and can be directly converted into % vol. Colour: white wine. Nose: as the very pale colour suggested, this is totally spirit-driven. We’re actually quite far from the well-known fruity profile that contemporary Aberlours can display, this is rather sooty, mashy and full of iron, clay and chalk, not unlike other ‘old black dumpies’. Mashed potatoes, leaven, damp clothes, wool, old cellar and then more and more straight humus… ‘a walk in the forest under the rain’, as they say. Mouth: an unusual kind of chalky fruitiness, some cider apples, cocoa powder, quite some salt, green tea, something metallic again… It’s all very dry in fact, austere and grassy. Probably pretty segmenting, but it’s an old style that I like a lot. Finish: long, now rather bitter and rooty. Fernet-Branca. Comments: as the Whisky Sponge would say while paraphrasing Whiskyfun, this one’s quite intellectual. SGP:262 - 86 points.

Aberlour-Glenlivet 23 yo 1989/2013 (54.9%, Cadenhead, small batch, bourbon hogshead, 522 bottles)

Aberlour-Glenlivet 23 yo 1989/2013 (54.9%, Cadenhead, small batch, bourbon hogshead, 522 bottles) Four stars and a halfThis baby’s one of the October bottlings. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very funny, very unusual. There is a chalkiness again but other than that, it’s rather all on chestnuts, walnuts and mushrooms. So yes, humus again, liquorice wood, other roots, a little saltpetre, green cigars, earth… We’re getting closer and closer to the 1963, the only aroma that’s missing is iron/metal. With water: more leaves and vegetables. Fresh French beans? A little more vanilla too, orangeade… Mouth (neat): very ‘modern Aberlour’ now, that is to say full of apples, gooseberries, plums and other garden fruits. A lot of sweet malt too, green tea, apple peeling, lemon… It’s all very naked, with very little wood influence if any. With water: a fruit salad, which is very, very Aberlour in my opinion. Finish: of good length, sweet and fruity. Orange cake. Milk chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, ultra-classic, well-matured unsherried Aberlour. SGP:551 - 88 points.

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

 

 

    Logo  
Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Charlie Mingus. Track: Dizzy Moods. Please buy the master's music...
 
 

December 26, 2013


Whiskyfun

Cardhu 12 and the new 21

There are more official Cardhus these days, such as a 15 and a 18, not to mention the 'Special Cask Reserves'. Malt geeks usually think that Cardhu's too simple, too easy or too 'middle of the road', but both the 1997 Manager's Choice and the 22 yo 1982 from a few years back proved them wrong. Partially wrong, that is. Today we're having the new Special Release, and the current 12 as the apéritif. Well, in France, most people drink the 12 as an apéritif anyway.

Cardhu 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2013)

Cardhu 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2013) Two stars and a half Ouch, just found out that the last time I tried Cardhu 12, that was the infamous 'Pure Malt' version in 2006 (WF 76). Colour: gold. Nose: toasted bread, vanilla, brioche, a little honey, roasted nuts, malt and that's it. Certainly not unpleasant, and certainly very easy. Also a little maple syrup. Mouth: easy and light, honeyed, with overripe apples, quite some malt and the same touches of toasted brioche. Add a few aisins (rather muscaty, those raisins) and you have it. Doesn't feel weak at 40% vol., which is obviously good news. Finish: quite short, more on tea and caramel. A little chocolate. Comments: this one really does the job, it won't offend anyone and actually please everyone. Better than earlier bottlings from the 1990s or early 2000s in my opinion. Thanks to the raisins? SGP:441 - 78 points.

Cardhu 21 y 1991/2013 (54.2%, OB, Special Release)

Cardhu 21 y 1991/2013 (54.2%, OB, Special Release) Three stars and a half I've read this baby is fully ex-bourbon wood. Colour: full gold. Nose: first the 12 on steroids (cake, nuts, caramel) and with more grass, then a rather oaky profile that unfolds with a lot of polished wood, sawdust, vanilla and tea. A little menthol as well. I think this one really needs water to become more expressive, but I'd say it's very bourbony at this point, in the style of the new Oban 21. With water: oranges. Bags of oranges. And always a grassiness... Mouth (neat): rich and creamy, some active American oak at work. Lemon balm, sandalwood, then more chocolate, strong honey and corn syrup? Caramelized peanuts. A wee prickliness - or is that a fizziness? With water: and once again, more oranges, tangerines, marmalade... But the whole remains rather light despite a thickish mouth feel. Finish: relatively short, on oranges and malt, with an oaky signature. Black tea, a funny hint of tarragon in the aftertaste, probably from the oak. Comments: feels a little engineered, but it's certainly all good, even if we're nowhere near the old 1982 in y opinion. SGP:451 - 84 points.

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

 

 

    Logo  
Block Today: AFRICAN BLUES. Performer: Mahmoud Ahmed. Track: a wonderful Tezeta. Please buy his music...
 
 

December 24, 2013


Whiskyfun

Xmas

Glendronach and Karuizawa
for Christmas

In my opinion, old sherry monsters are the most christmassy whiskies one can find. And as Glendronach and Karuizawa keep stealing the show at the Malt Maniacs Awards year after year, well, let's simply have one of each. Merry Christmas!

Glendronach 41 yo 1972/2013 (51.7%, OB, batch 9, oloroso sherry butt, cask #702, 448 bottles)

Glendronach 41 yo 1972/2013 (51.7%, OB, batch 9, oloroso sherry butt, cask #702, 448 bottles) Five starsI know, Glendronach again... Colour: dark amber. Nose: it's menthol that comes out first, together with some liquorice and quite a few tinier terpenic aromas. Pinesap, cough medicine... All that gives this oldie a huge feeling of freshness before the old-cognac side starts to unfold in a wonderful manner. That means plenty of raisins, then ripe peaches, honey and cherries in kirsch. Amazing freshness, no fatty chocolaty tones, so all is pretty perfect so far. With water: swims like Shirley Babashoff. Who remembers Shirley Babashoff? Stunning herbal profile, always amazingly fresh. And I love these tangerines, its all getting even more christmassy. Even some quality limoncello. Mouth (neat): the cherries are back, together with some strong chestnut honey and, this time, more chocolate and kumquats. Earl grey tea, a little mocha coffee, drops of bitter herbal tea (peach leaves, maybe) and a little curry. Excellent. With water: really rather sweeter than other old oloroso monsters, and with many more oranges, tangerines and kumquats. Plus these touches of menthol that keep lifting the whole into the most ethereal heights (yeah yeah, right...) Finish: long, on some kind of high-end mint flavoured tea mixed with grapefruit juice. Comments: I don't find all old sherry monsters very elegant and refined. This one is. Utterly lovable, like many 1972s. Merry Christmas! SGP:561 - 93 points.

Karuizawa 1973/2013 (67.7%, Number One Drinks, sherry oak, cask #1607, 138 bottles)

Karuizawa 1973/2013 (67.7%, Number One Drinks, sherry oak, cask #1607, 138 bottles) Five starsThis baby is the ueber-winner of the Malt Maniacs Awards 2013. Colour: dark amber. Nose: exactly what I had expected, the Karuizawa is spicier and more on polished wood than the Glendronach, more on coffee as well, while some rather similar whiffs of old cough syrup start to arise after just five seconds. More tobacco , cedar wood and incense as well, we're well at Karuizawa and just like in the Glendronach, the sherry does not dominate too much. Brilliant.

With water: very lovely putty-like scents, almond oil, sandalwood, amarena... At this stage it's absolutely impossible for me to tell you which one I like best, both are stunning. And this one makes me think more and more of a super old Demerara rum. Mouth (neat): it's very strong but the syrupiness makes it kind of quaffable provided you don't take more than a quarter of a drop at a time. A feeling of polished woods again, menthol cigarettes, ultra-dark 90% chocolate, crunching coffee beans... With water: yesss! Water can make these old ones a tad too woody but that's not what's happening here, not at all. It's an avalanche of kumquats, spices of herbs that hints at high-end mulled wine. Especially cinnamon, cloves and dried orange zests are very obvious. Finish: very long, on menthol, dark chocolate and coffee, but it never, ever gets drying. Comments: as exceptional as expected. My compadres from the current Malt Maniacs Awards jury sure have good tastes. And once again, Merry Christmas! SGP:562 - 93 points.

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback
PJ
PJ

 

 

    Logo  
Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: the very funny Trio Toykeat. Track: Xmas Song I. Please visit their website and buy their music...
 
 

December 23, 2013


Whiskyfun

Three young high power Lagavulin

After the superb, but very pricey 37 yo, here's the younger Lagavulin within the new Special Releases. If you don't mind, we'll try it right between an indie NAS that may be younger, and an older 15 by that famous yet very mysterious Islay syndicate.

Laggan Mill 'The Secret Islay' (56%, The Coopers Choice, sherry, cask #9466, 320 bottles, 2013)

Laggan Mill 'The Secret Islay' (56%, The Coopers Choice, sherry, cask #9466, 320 bottles, 2013) Four stars and a half This baby may well be a Lagavulin ;-). Colour: amber. Nose: I have to say it's got something of the official 21s and of the official 16yo at first nosing, that is to say a very peculiar rubbery side that's very far from being off-putting, quite the opposite. Between some brand new wellingtons and a bicycle's inner tubes. What's also quite impressive is the way some straight, crystalline yet earthy peat smoke manages to come through and then just annihilate the rubber. It's a big Islay. With water: a lot of soot and a lot of leather now. Brand new leathers. Mouth (neat): weird and yet this works. Let me explain, there are strangish notes of lemon squash and an hyper-big toffeeness, but a straight, pretty salty and earthy peatiness manages to balance all that and to make the whole very coherent. I like. With water: becomes funnily metallic. Sucking copper coins - and swallowing oysters with fudge. Sounds unlikely but it isn't. Finish: long, rather more on some sort of peated chocolate. Comments: lots of fun in this very unlikely baby. Have the Monty Pythons made whisky? SGP:466 - 88 points.

Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2013' (55.1%, OB)

Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2013' (55.1%, OB) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: oh this is lovely. There's some sweet and rounder vanilla and fudge at first nosing, coating yet another crystalline peat, some superb earth (Pu-ehr style), wet gravel, some antiseptic and touches of our beloved gentian spirit. Maybe not that complex at this point, but simply implacable and superbly 'obvious'. With water: ultra-clean tincture of iodine and barbecued marshmallows plus always some roots. Fresh ginseng? Love that. Mouth (neat): instant pleasure. Lagavulin's trademark sweetness (wrt the other big peaters), with notes of butter pears, then an avalanche of all things coastal and smoky (like, a beach bonfire), then some kind of ashy oils, and lastly, grapefruits. Grapefruits make the great peaters, methinks. Also a little dill - or gravlaks-not-from-Ikea. With water: the best part. Just obvious, huge yet sharp and wonderfully balanced, with that Lagavulinian extra-sweetness. Finish: very long, with the roots and the earth having the upper hand this time. Less sweetness, which is welcome in a finish in my opinion. Comments: I think the Lagavulin 12 never stops improving, year after year. In a way, I'm considering it's the best 'simple' malt whisky money can buy, because it is simple whisky. To put in your cellar as a gift to the next generations. SGP:547 - 92 points.

Lagavulin 15 yo 1979 (59.2%, The Syndicate, +/-1994)

Lagavulin 15 yo 1979 (59.2%, The Syndicate, +/-1994) Five stars One of the earlier versions. Colour: white wine. Nose: we're extremely close to the new 12! This one's maybe just a notch more polished, with less antiseptic and maybe a few more leaves, but other than that and quite surprisingly, it's a close brother. With water: no, wait, this time it's completely different, with some fat fish coming out. Smoked salmon again, kippers, fresh big sardines... That's fun! Also a little aniseed and mint, there is an absinthy side for sure. After la fée verte, la fée d'Islay. Mouth (neat): same feeling, although this one's even oilier and kind of rootier. Huge mouth feel, it's almost peat syrup. Also some smoked salmon for sure, but it's all too strong for this sissy-of-a-taster. With water: fab, it's got more medicinal this time. A three metre long liquorice stick and three bags of salt plus a good bucket of liquid tar. H.u.g.e. Finish: same for a long time. Unusually medicinal for Lagavulin. Comments: another Senna/Prost situation, the official 12 had the lead for a long time because of its immediacy, but I think this Syndicate caught it up. So it's a tie in my book - what a grand-prix! SGP:457 - 92 points.

(with thanks to Angus)

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

 

 

    Logo  
Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Ethiopia's brilliant Mulatu Astatke. Track: high African energy in Masenqo. Please buy his music...
 
 

December 22, 2013


Whiskyfun

Hair-splitting Sunday special,
official heavy sherry by Glendronach

From an educated consumer's point of view, there's a lot of averagely good news wrt Scotch. Higher prices, oak-doped bottlings, storytelling gone mad, the ravages of 'me-too!' branding, hot air... But there's also great news, and one of them, in my humble opinion, is named Glendronach. So let's do another infernal verticale (S., short alliterations are so last century!) and we'll even do it in a rough-and-ready way. No water! But I think we'll stop around 1990, because we have so many yet to taste at WF Towers. I feel like I'm Evel Knievel now... Let's start with this new apéro...

Glendronach ‘Cask Strength’ (54.9%, OB, batch 3, 2013)

Glendronach ‘Cask Strength’ (54.9%, OB, batch 3, 2013) Four stars and a half I liked batch 1 (WF 91) a little better than batch 2 (WF 89). Colour: dark gold. Nose: I'll only say this works. It seems that it's a little more honeyed and raisiny (juicy golden ones) than earlier batches, and a little less on heavy sherry, but I truly enjoy all the tobacco, the new leather, the beef bouillon (or is that Tai chicken soup?) and the bitter oranges. They must have a secret recipe. Mouth: embarrassingly to my liking. A mix of grandma's world-famous bouillons with orange liqueur and ginger. There must have been some re-racking going on. Speculoos, nutmeg, Seville oranges. Finish: long, spicy, gingery, peppery. The oranges are still there and keep it balanced and even kind of fresh despite the heaviness. Comments: I don't want to insist too much, but they must be doing something - now when it's that good, I don't care. You have to like ginger, though, a little less ginger would have allowed it to fetch 90+ in my humble book. SGP:562 - 89 points.

And now, the single cask vintage versions, let's see how far we'll manage to go...

Glendronach 11 yo 2002/2013 (57.2%, OB, for Whiskybase, oloroso sherry butt, cask #2751, 701 bottles)

Glendronach 11 yo 2002/2013 (57.2%, OB, for Whiskybase, oloroso sherry butt, cask #2751, 701 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: amber (quite pale for ex-oloroso). Nose: there's a little porridge at very first sniffing, as well as quite some soot and maybe saltpetre. Also gunflints and whiffs of clay and mud, then old Pu-erh tea and a few mushrooms. I really enjoy this kind of earthy side, it's rather unusual in ex-oloroso whiskies, I think. Mouth: this is completely different, it's much more straightforward and there's a feeling of newish oak, between coconut liqueur and orange zests. It's even a wee-tad bourbony, which comes unexpected from a sherry butt. Having said that, it's very excellent ;-). Love the citrusy side as welll. Finish: long, more around lime, ginger and lemon balm. Fresh juicy raisins. Comments: a big sherried one that's... quite far from most big sherried Glendronachs. Say it's more... fresh and fruity, perhaps? Feels like ex-bourbon oloroso ;-). SGP:651 - 89 points.

Glendronach 11 yo 2002/2013 (52.1%, OB for The Whisky Agency, Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon, cask #712, 624 bottles) Five stars This one's following this year's 2002 cask #710 for The Whisky Fair (WF 89). Colour: dark amber. Nose: let's be quick, it's the new CS with less ginger and more molassy tones. That's what gives it a 'Demeraraness'. I like that. Mouth: this is syrup. Or rich armagnac, or Demerara rum once again, or prune juice. It just works, even if there are touches of spicy oak in the background that could be a notch too loud. Nitpicking again and again. Finish: very long. Rich honey, ginger liqueur, armagnac, Seville oranges. Comments: implacable. To put in your cellar until the roughish notes have completely vanished and you'll have a star bottle. SGP:651 - 90 points.

Glendronach 13 yo 1996/2009 (59.4%, OB, oloroso, cask #193, 399 bottles)

Glendronach 13 yo 1996/2009 (59.4%, OB, oloroso, cask #193, 399 bottles) Four stars I think this was batch 1. Colour: mahogany. Nose: full oloroso, on coffee, chocolate and prunes plus these wee flinty notes that hint at struck matches but never scream 'sulphur!' Also love all the cassis jam. Mouth: it is a total sherry monster, with truckloads or prunes and wheelbarrows of raisins. Pretty smooth despite the high strength. I also find some cranberry juice and blackberry jam. Finish: very long, maybe a littler sweetish? Jelly beans and cassis bonbons. Comments: a massive sherry monster, maybe a notch inelegant, in a way, especially since there's all this sweetness on the palate. Right, sugar. Remains a great dram in any case. SGP:741 - 86 points.

Glendronach 1996/2011 (54.7%, OB for 25th Anniversary Wein & Whisky Berlin, PX sherry puncheon, cask #1372, 401 bottles) Four stars This one came my way several times but I think I've never tried it. Colour: red coffee ;-). Nose: we're in the style of cask #193, of course, but this one has more floral notes (peonies and roses, as often) as well as more tertiary notes, such as herb liqueurs, tobaccos, oils... All that is great news if you ask me. Mouth: yup, it's all better mingled, more complex, more lively, less monolithic... well it's still very sweet (PX oblige) but it's kind of more profound. A bit fizzy too, lemonade, Fanta... That's its dark side ;-). Finish: long, sweet, very Xmascaky. How convenient! Having said that it may be a little too sweet again... Comments: much to my liking. A not less sweetish, which is great. SGP:641 - 87 points.

Glendronach 18 yo 1995/2013 (53.7%, OB, batch 9, PX sherry puncheon, cask #3302, 677 bottles)

Glendronach 18 yo 1995/2013 (53.7%, OB, batch 9, PX sherry puncheon, cask #3302, 677 bottles) Four stars Colour: amber. Nose: I like this nose a lot, it's all on hay, grass and various dried fruits including raisins, of course. Quite some cinnamon and cardamom at the spice department. A muscaty side never stops growing after a few seconds, together with some rose petals, patchouli... More fragrant than others for sure. Mouth: very sweet and syrupy, so very different from the nose. Orange syrup and blossom water with touches of ginger plus some pretty strong honey. Finish: long, even more on orange and ginger liqueurs. Cointreau and Canton! Comments: a very nice variation but you have to like them thick and liqueury on the palate. SGP:641 - 87 points.

Glendronach 16 yo 1994/2011 (56%, OB for K&L Wine Merchants USA, Pedro Ximenez Puncheon, cask #3186, 606 bottles)

Glendronach 16 yo 1994/2011 (56%, OB for K&L Wine Merchants USA, Pedro Ximenez Puncheon, cask #3186, 606 bottles) Four stars and a half Another PX. PX is great but it can also work as... well, make-up. Colour: deep amber. Nose: this one's more restrained, less wham-bam, less 'bull in a chine shop' if you see what I mean. Earthier, more on tobacco and other leaves, old cellar... This, I like. Mouth: power and balance. And, above all, no excessive sweetness. I've read somewhere that folks tend to like sweetness better when getting older - well, that doesn't seem to be my case. Love the huge notes of blood oranges in this one, as well as the pepper. Finish: long, 'nervous', peppery and tarty. Comments: this baby's got quite some freshness left, which is quite an achievement for such a sherry monster. SGP:651 - 88 points.

Sure I'm eager to tackle a few 1993s now but you see, there's this intriguing 'light' 1994...

Glendronach 14 yo 1994/2009 (58.5%, OB, oloroso sherry puncheon, cask #2311, 602 bottles) Two starsColour: pale gold (so remarkably pale). Nose: the distillate is talking, not the wood, and neither the wine. It does remind of some very old 'light' Glendronachs, and I find this superb. Some kind of sweet oil, maybe argan? Or very sweet olive oil, Provence style? We're touching the heart of the distillery, which is always moving. A touch of coal smoke. Mouth: no, I was wrong. This doesn't work, there's something chemical, I don't know, as if the spirit and the cask had clashed. It works at times, but some soap and some burnt plastic keep being some kind of spoilsports. Fail, for once. Finish: long, interestingly salty at times, but otherwise too plasticky. Is that a word? Comments: I don't know what to think. It's an odd cask. They may have added seawater... Or was it a Tupperware cask? SGP:472 - 72 points (for the nose).

Glendronach 19 yo 1994/2013 (56.3%, OB for Monnier & Trachsel, oloroso sherry butt, cask #1098, 690 bottles) Four stars Colour: deep amber. Nose: this one's really on the orangey side, it's like some Cointreau with some chocolate liqueur, only better. Behind that, some rocks and gravel, flints, leather and touches of cigar tobacco. Maybe a tad narrow but what it does it does it well. Mouth: nothing to do with the other 1994. This time we're having a lot of black tea and cocoa, some flints again, a curious feeling of mint drops (rather Chlorophyll chewing-gum) and then a heavy, thick blackberry jam. Highly concentrated tonic water. Finish: long, maybe a bit acrid and tannic but otherwise it's all fine. Bitter oranges and pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: very fine indeed, but you have to like this 'green bitterness'. SGP:572 - 85 points.

And now (obligatory drum roll)... 1993!

Glendronach 20 yo 1993/2013 (52,6%, OB for The Whisky Fair, oloroso sherry butt, cask #13, 668 bottles)

Glendronach 20 yo 1993/2013 (52,6%, OB for The Whisky Fair, oloroso sherry butt, cask #13, 668 bottles) Five stars Colour: deep amber. Nose: yes. A blend of the best rums (Jamaica and Guyana) with the best armagnacs. Everything is perfect, it's a Rolls-Royce cruising at 90 kmph. I feel I don't need to add anything. Let's move on. Mouth: there are a few pencil shavings coming through, it feels a little more 'engineered' than on the nose, but it remains very excellent. Bags of toffee. Love the notes of freshly squeezed oranges. Finish: long and spicier. Nutmeg first, then cinnamon. Oh, and ginger. Comments: feels a bit like a finishing at times, but quality's high. Extremely high. SGP:561 - 90 points.

Glendronach 19 yo 1993/2012 (54.2%, OB, UK, oloroso sherry butt, cask #487, 673 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: dark amber. Nose: rich chocolaty sherry. Mars bar? (not deep fried, no worries). Also a lot of coffee and roasted chestnuts, then some honeydew - quite sappy - and raisins, and leather. Only two or three used matches. Mouth: perfect, strong and well balanced between some dry leather and tobacco, an intriguing saltiness, bitter oranges and even more chocolate and coffee. Finish: very long but a little drying (Van Houten's cocoa). Loses one or two points here. Nice touches of maraschino, though. Comments: classic ultra-oloroso-ish Glendronach. Much to my liking. SGP:561 - 89 points.

Glendronach 20 yo 1993/2013 (54.7%, OB, oloroso sherry butt, cask #16, 669 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: deep amber. Nose: rather a clean and zesty one, all on blood oranges, Demerara sugar, putty and a little olive oil. Some aspects make me think of Guyana rum - it does actually hint at some great aged rum. Very nice and very interesting. And clean. Mouth: not quite rum anymore - although I do find a wee molassy side - rather a big, nervous, orangey sherry with plenty of herbs and green spices. It's not a fat one. Also nice touches of cherries and bitters as well as a little lemonade. So, yeah, rather a 'nervous' sherry. Finish: long and even more citrusy and herbal. Lemon balm. Comments: a very pleasant variation on sherry, with grasses and herbs. SGP:661 - 88 points.

Glendronach 16 yo 1993/2009 (60.4%, OB, oloroso sherry, cask #523, 634 bottles) Four stars Colour: coffee. Nose: this one starts on fruit eaux-de-vie and jams, and yet there's also a lot of chocolate again. Maybe also a little more matchsticky notes this time, as well as more meaty touches. Cured ham. Mouth: ultra-thick sherry, you almost need a spoon to get it out of your glass. Also bags of dried dates as well as something slightly prickly, between pepper and cinchona. Bitters. Very heavy mouth feel. Finish: very long, this one's almost a session killer but we'll survive, I'm sure. A wee bit too tannic too. Comments: really on the heavy side. I like a lot but it's not my all-favourite style. SGP:661 - 87 points.

Glendronach 16 yo 1992/2009 (57.2%, OB, oloroso sherry butt, cask #1140, 598 bottles)

Glendronach 16 yo 1992/2009 (57.2%, OB, oloroso sherry butt, cask #1140, 598 bottles) Five stars Colour: dark amber. Nose: perfect dry, slightly flinty sherry, old style and new pleasures. One just cannot not think of old Macallan. There. And I love these wee whiffs of old toolbox, tobacco and humidor. Mouth: jams and spices in a perfect order. Oranges, figs, papayas, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, milk chocolate, glazed chestnuts... All perfect. Finish: long, unexpectedly fresh, balanced. Some mulled wine made with Chambertin from a great vintage. Oh forget... Funny hints of 'silver spoon' in the aftertaste. Comments: a classic, very, very old-Macallanian. SGP:651 - 91 points.

Glendronach 21 yo 1992/2013 (59,8%, OB, batch 9, oloroso sherry butt, cask #195, 566 bottles) Five stars Colour: mahogany. Nose: ah yes, perfect tarry sherry, on the best coffees, cigars and old balsamic vinegars. Enough said. Mouth: instant pleasure. Prunes, sultanas and figs, then a few herbs with a good small rubber and lastly, a whole fruitcake. That would be a Christmas cake, of course. Almost forgot the coffee-schnapps feeling. Finish: very long, precise and yet very rich. Spicier aftertaste. Comments: simply another perfect sherry monster by Glendronach. SGP:662 - 90 points.

Glendronach 19 yo 1991/2011 (50.4%, OB for The Nectar, Belgium, PX sherry puncheon,cask #3181, 624 bottles)

Glendronach 19 yo 1991/2011 (50.4%, OB for The Nectar, Belgium, PX sherry puncheon,cask #3181, 624 bottles) Four stars Colour: very dark amber. Nose: this time it's a rather mentholated sherry we're having - and a big sherry of course - that also comes with notes of metal polish, old coins and then quite some ham, bacon and soot. After a few minutes, it's more balsamic vinegar that comes out, and bit time. And game. Well-hung pheasant ;-). Mouth: really unusual. Pepper and coins, grappa, rubber bands and cooked coffee, then plasticine and maple syrup. Really different, really fun. Finish: long, with some green spices coming out. Cardamom, green tea... Comments: lots of fun in this one, even - or because - it's totally unorthodox. SGP:472 - 86 points.

Glendronach 21 yo 1991/2013 (49,9%, OB, batch 9, PX sherry puncheon, cask #5405, 702 bottles) Three stars Colour: mahogany. Nose: a prune-y one again, geared towards old armagnac, with bags of raisins again and a slight, quite superb earthy side. Mushrooms cooked with sultanas - have to try that one day. Mouth: just like the 1991 for the Nectar, it starts a notch unlikely, with a feeling of tamarind juice with a lot of pepper and mustard. That won't go away, in fact, despite the PX's sweetness. Not my favourite. Finish: long, very peppery and sweet at the same time. Comments: there's something spectacular in this one, and I really liked the nose a lot, but I find the palate a little too peppery. Yes, to each his own. SGP:562 - 80 points.

All right, a last one. I think eighteen will do. Oh, please note that I've done this session in two parts and not in one go, that would have been too much for me.

Glendronach 23 yo 1990/2013 (50,6%, OB, batch 9, PX sherry puncheon, cask #1243, 379 bottles)

Glendronach 23 yo 1990/2013 (50,6%, OB, batch 9, PX sherry puncheon, cask #1243, 379 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: coffee. Nose: hurray! Perfect clean waxy and nutty sherry. Raisins, toasted brioche, warm beeswax and old Sauternes. I have to say it's got something of a great old cognac, not quite armagnac this time. Mouth: cognac indeed. Sure the PX made it very sweet, but not quite sickly so. I also like the leather and the tobacco, as well as the earthiness again. And the bitter oranges. Finish: long, maybe a wee tad drying and astringent, but that's nothing. More pepper and tea in the aftertaste, but also a lot of sultanas. Pepper tea, does that exist? Comments: maybe it hasn't got the obvious fullness of the 1991s, but it's still a great one IMHO. SGP:662 - 88 points.

(And thanks Franco, Herbert, Konstantin, Tomislav)

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

 

 

    Logo  
Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Frank Morgan. Track: Reflections. Please buy Frank Morgan's music...
 
 

December 20, 2013


Whiskyfun

A brorgasm or the lost session (apologies)

Apple used to make some reliable devices and software, but I think their upgrades - actually downgrades - just mess everything up. One example, this Brora session that, thanks to Time Machine, has been lost because my automatic backups just didn't work, while it was nowhere to be seen that, well, they had not worked. So for the first and hopefully for the last time, I'll have to quote from memory... Thank Vishnu I remember these babies and their scores quite well.

Brora 1982/2010 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry)

Brora 1982/2010 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry) Four stars This one was unexpectedly excellent, firmer and bigger than earlier batches of the 1982 CC by G&M that used to be a little weak at times. It had all the trademark mineral and waxy notes as well as the rounded and sweet steawed and fresh fruits that are to be found in most 1982s at Brora. The 43% vol. work well and this is an all-enjoyable Brora despite the fact that it's one of, if not the cheapest Brora around. An excellent surprise, and there's even some 'good smoke'. No, not that one. Solid 87 points material.

Brora 25 yo 1978/2004 (57%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #61.2 - actually #61.20, 'Marmalade on burnt toast')

Brora 25 yo 1978/2004 (57%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #61.2 - actually #61.20, 'Marmalade on burnt toast') Five stars A true sap bomb, very unusual, ridden with camphor, eucalyptus, pine sap, chartreuse, mint and, indeed marmalade and bitter oranges. It's very big, pretty in-your-face Brora, with a good amount of smoke as well. A little wasabi too if I remember well. The coastal side is well there s well, with whiffs of beach bonfire (old wood and dried seaweed). It's to be noted that the number was a mistake, this wonder is well #61.20 and not #61.2. Really wonderful, although I've found much more burning pinewood than 'burnt toast'. And it swims very well, water works a treat. 92 points.

Brora 35 yo 1977/2013 (49.9%, OB, Special Release, 2944 bottles)

Brora 35 yo 1977/2013 (49.9%, OB, Special Release, 2944 bottles) Five stars It is the 12th release of Brora. Already! An incredible Brora and I couldn't believe it's all from the 1977 vintage, since there are obvious notes of '1972' (and adjacent vintages). So the peat is less discreet than I had thought, while the rest is of an incredible complexity, sometimes soft and elegant, sometimes bigger and full of seashells, oysters, seaweed and tar. I remember having found, both in the nose and in the palate, some verbena, some absinth (that was in the 1978 as well, now I remember) some kippers, smoked salmon and even fish oil, a lot of wax (of course), some grapefruits, some liquorice and a feeling of bone dry white wine of very high quality. And in the finish, a slight smoky and fresh acridness that I simply adored. Having said thatr I have to confess I was a little disappointed because I had hoped Diageo would have granted us with a 40 yo 1972 this year, but in fact I found this new 35 quite... flabbergasting. That, I remember very well. 95 points.

(with thanks to Jon - not to Apple)

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

 

 

    Logo  
Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Bennie Wallace. Track: Evidence. Please visit his website and buy his music...
 
 

December 18, 2013


Whiskyfun

Tasting the new Convalmore plus old sparring partner

Just when I had thought there would be no new Convalmore, since the distillery's been closed such a long time ago, the owners are granting us with more than 2,500 bottles of a 1977 at a whopping 58% vol. And with one of our favourite 'retro' labels that's already been used six or seven years ago on another excellent 1977. But first, the old sparring partner...

Convalmore 32 yo 1975/2008 (48%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, ref #4246, 202 bottles)

Convalmore 32 yo 1975/2008 (48%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, ref #4246, 202 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: I rather find fresh walnuts and apple peel at first nosing, with a kind of waxy grassiness and touches of 'good' soap, meaning non-scented soap. Maybe also touches of white bread, a few not-too-fragrant flowers and more light grassiness. A little evanescent and indiscernible, I'd say, very discreet and pretty elegant. Mouth: as often with old whiskies, it's the lemon - or another kind of tartness - that saves it from feeling too oaky, which, as a consequence, it isn't. I find a lot of lemon balm, lime juice, green apples, cardamom and then more green spices. Coriander seeds? Some dill too, aniseed, honeydew... I find this very good and greatly vibrant and sherbety. Finish: medium length, lemony, very clean, greatly sharp. Comments: takes some time but it's rewarding if you like... great lemonades? SGP:561 - 89 points.

Convalmore 36 yo 1977/2013 (58%, OB, Special Release, 2680 bottles)

Convalmore 36 yo 1977/2013 (58%, OB, Special Release, 2680 bottles) Five stars Colour: dark gold. Nose: much more happening in this one, this is big, assertive, rather toffee-ish malt whisky where the wood(s) played a much bigger part. Having said that, the walnuts are back in the background, together with some obvious menthol and some medicinal aspects. Antiseptic? A new pack of After Eights? Also ripe kiwis, I think. I like this nose a lot, there's a lot happening. With water: twenty different apples. Also an earthy side's up, maybe. Mouth (neat): big, fat, starting on a rather stunning combination of earth/roots, lemons/grapefruits and tart honeys. Immediate and implacable like only great old whiskies can be. Not much to add, I think it's an exceptional Convalmore, and an exceptional whisky in general. With water: it improved further. I hadn't thought that was possible. Better stop here or I'm going to get geographical. Finish: long, ample, citrusy and honeyed. Perfect. Comments: after nearly 10,000 whiskies, I'm starting to wonder if single casks aren't better for young whiskies, and small or semi-small batches better for older ones. Well I'm dead sure 'bout that. Superb bottling, not to be missed IMHO. SGP:651 - 94 points.

(with thanks to Ivar)

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

 

 

    Logo  
Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Michel Portal. Track: The Dred Scott Marker. Please buy Mr Portal's music...
 
 

December 17, 2013


Whiskyfun

Port Ellen 13th Release and sisters

All right, Port Ellen. Ueber-cult and speculative. There's a new Special Release, in case you haven't heard, but as old PEs aren't as rare as old Lagavulins - while Lagavulin's active whereas PE isn't - PE's still cheaper than Lagavulin at similar ages. Are you following me? As usual, we'll first have a worthy 'opponent' from the same decade. Or, wait, a new younger one. Or both... Ooh, this is complicated...

Port Ellen 31 yo 1982/2013 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, 286 bottles)

Port Ellen 31 yo 1982/2013 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, 286 bottles) Five stars It's that funny 31yo PE that the excellent bottlers chose to sell at a lower price than that of a 21yo Ardbeg. I'm deeply perplexed I have I say - oh, it's the Ardbeg that's too expensive, of course, not the other way around ;-). Colour: pale gold. Nose: it's a high-impact, 'young', evident, simple, unadorned Port Ellen. The problem is that we love high-impact, 'young', evident, simple, unadorned Port Ellens, don't we? Tarry ropes, seashells, oysters, tincture of iodine, salmiak, then menthol and only a mild(ish) peat smoke. Maybe almond and apple skins. With water: maybe not the best swimmer ever, it got narrower and a little sour, kind of vaguely stale, even after very low reduction. Having said that, some sides remain superb as well. Salted wormwood? Mouth (neat): immediate, simple, sort of easy and kind of great. Bittersweet like a blend of lemon juice and seawater, I'd say. Sweet peat, lemon curd, salted biscuits, salted liquorice, smoked salmon... having said that, it's not a very tarry one. Barley bonbons, there's some sweetness. Parma violets. With water: lemon, brine and Demerara sugar. Straighter, cleaner again and simply lovely. Finish: long, now sharply chiselled. Whelks and oysters with lemon. What's not to like? Comments: twist and turns and a great finish. Careful with water, that works but don't push it. SGP:446 - 91 points.

Port Ellen 35 yo 1977/2012 (50.4%, Douglas Laing, Old and Rare Platinum, 199 bottles)

Port Ellen 35 yo 1977/2012 (50.4%, Douglas Laing, Old and Rare Platinum, 199 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: this one's as terpenic, mentholaded, camphory and then kippery as an old peater can be. Also damp earth - well, mud - thuja wood (new Moroccan chessboard straight from the souk ;-)) and a wide assortment of grandma's cough syrups and lozenges. Behind all that, apples, verbena and maybe touches of very old dry white wine. The high menthol, which I love in the nose, can lead to a problem on the palate, we'll see... Too much oak? With water: one word only, yellow chartreuse. All right, and wet wool. And plasticine. Mouth (neat): oily, the mint and the liquorice are back, but the oak is kept at bay, great news. So it's extractive but in a great way. Granted, there's quite some plasticine as well, putty, paraffin but all that is under control and it then unfolds on the expected tarry and salty liquorice, while always keeping some menthol on the side. Less kippery than others. With water: not quite, this time it's having a little trouble, becoming slightly disjointed and maybe too briny, in a way. More drying oak and tea too. Water brought out much more brine. Finish: long, salty. Seawater and tea. Comments: not the sharpest/cleanest, and not the most complex ever either, but this oldie still delivers. Again, careful with water. SGP:355 - 87 points.

Port Ellen 34 yo 1978/2013 '13th Release' (55%, OB, Special Releases, 2958 bottles)

Port Ellen 34 yo 1978/2013 '13th Release' (55%, OB, Special Releases, 2958 bottles) Five stars Colour: full gold. Nose: we aren't far from the 1977, but this one's more polished, a notch rounder, a tad gentler despite the higher strength. Surprisingly gentle, in fact, even a little simple, but that lasts only for one minute, and then it takes off like an albatross, slowly and surely. Brine, lemon juice, engine oil, liquid tar, wet wool, paraffin, orange wine, a drop of balsamic vinegar, moss and mushrooms, maybe fresh parsley. After five minutes, there are more and more notes of mead and it's even a little acetic, in a good way. No straight vinegar! Also cold smoke (cigar). With water: ha! Used fireworks, humus, burnt wood (pine, beech) and green tobacco. The smoke from Kretek cigarettes (tobacco and cloves, that's what you can smell in just any Indonesian street). This one makes you travel. Mouth (neat): oh but it's not an old, quiet one! Starts 'nervous', as lemony as a youngster, even a notch fizzy, with peppers and bitter herbs just below the surface. Some unexpected notes of cider and apple peel, lemon zests, playful green peppercorns, citrons... Did they throw a small cask of Rosebank into the vatting? With water: it's the Ziegfeld Follies in a swimming pool, this time water works magnificently. Now, what's interesting is that it's rather brown sugar and even sweet barley that come out, which makes it unexpectedly rounder and gentler. Finish: long, kind of smooth, with some sort of smoked cider as well as smoked and salted fish. Comments: maybe not as 'immediate and unquestionable' as earlier releases, and certainly not as 'bigly tarry' as middle-aged PEs such as the Rare Malts and such, but it's another magnificent old PE for sure. It's just got a little less Port-Ellenness, if I may. SGP:356 - 93 points.

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

 

 

    Logo  
Block Today: FUNK. Performer: James Blood Ulmer. Track: Burning Like Love. Please visit his website and buy his music...
 
 

December 16, 2013


Whiskyfun

Tasting two official Oban

There's very few Obans around and the indies never had many, apart from a handful at Cadenhead's, for example. So the news of a new Oban among the new Special Releases was, well, good news. Let's see if it's as great as the Managers' Choice from four years ago. Four years? Yes, already...

Oban 18

Oban 18 yo 'Limited Edition' (43%, OB, +/- 2011) Three stars and a half There was another version back in 2008, bearing another label. Colour: gold. Nose: bizarrely, I find this baby very eau-de-vie-ish. Kirsch, plums, even raspberry... Behind that, touches of eucalyptus and camphor but those are really tiny. However, it tends to become more coastal over time and there's maybe also a little rubber. Rubber bands. Also rubbed orange peel. Mouth: I think I like this palate better than the nose. There is something slightly rubbery again but that would rather be similar to what can be found in some herbal teas. Cherry stems? Gets then toffeeish, with a typical saltiness and some custard and orange liqueur. Touches of tobacco and liquorice, then rum agricole, maybe. Good body at just 43% vol. Finish: medium length, maltier. A little Demerara sugar and again this tiny wee touches of rubber in the aftertaste. Comments: I really like it, despite a style that's maybe a little, say unusual, as if it hasn't found itself yet. But does that mean anything? SGP:341 - 83 points.

Oban 21 yo (58.5%, OB, Special Releases, 2860 bottles)

Oban 21 yo (58.5%, OB, Special Releases, 2860 bottles) Four stars Colour: dark gold. Nose: nothing to do with the 18 whatsoever, this is much more aromatic, fatter for sure, fruitier, and also much more honeyed and vanilla-ed. I do also get these notes of coconut that often come from new or rejuvenated American oak, as well as some Sauternes, I'd say. More honey, apricot jam, quince jelly and such. Very aromatic. With water: the coastal side comes out. Seaweed, beach... Yet the jammy/honeyed side remains there. Also rose petals, perhaps? Mouth (neat): malt liqueur made with honey instead of sugar, plus drops of coconut and ginger liqueurs. Tastes modern and, in a way, bourbony. I cannot not think of Glenmo's Ealanta (so of... no, no...) Very oily mouth feel. With water: the oak comes out this time. Sweet oak, that is, ginger, cinnamon pie, gingerbread, speculoos, touches of cloves... A wee feeling of tonic water too. Definitely 'modern'. Finish: rather long, with good balance between the sweet spices and the creamy vanilla. That would be vanilla cream, I suppose. A salty tang in the aftertaste as well as some lime, which 'lifts' it. Comments: quite some wood technology inside. Maybe not much magic, but this works a treat. SGP:651 - 85 points.

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback
PJ
PJ

 

 

    Logo  
Block Today: BLUES. Performer: Bernie Marsden. Track: The Supernatural. Please visit the website and buy the music...
 

December 2013 - part 1 <--- December 2013 - part 2 ---> January 2014 - part 1


 

 

Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Brora 25 yo 1978/2004 (57%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #61.2 - actually #61.20, 'Marmalade on burnt toast')

Brora 35 yo 1977/2013 (49.9%, OB, Special Release, 2944 bottles)

Convalmore 36 yo 1977/2013 (58%, OB, Special Release, 2680 bottles)

Glendronach 41 yo 1972/2013 (51.7%, OB, batch 9, oloroso sherry butt, cask #702, 448 bottles)

Glendronach 11 yo 2002/2013 (52.1%, OB for The Whisky Agency, Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon, cask #712, 624 bottles)

Glendronach 16 yo 1992/2009 (57.2%, OB, oloroso sherry butt, cask #1140, 598 bottles)

Glendronach 21 yo 1992/2013 (59,8%, OB, batch 9, oloroso sherry butt, cask #195, 566 bottles)

Glendronach 20 yo 1993/2013 (52,6%, OB for The Whisky Fair, oloroso sherry butt, cask #13, 668 bottles)

Karuizawa 1973/2013 (67.7%, Number One Drinks, sherry oak, cask #1607, 138 bottles)

Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2013' (55.1%, OB)

Lagavulin 15 yo 1979 (59.2%, The Syndicate, +/-1994)

Port Ellen 31 yo 1982/2013 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, 286 bottles)

Port Ellen 34 yo 1978/2013 '13th Release' (55%, OB, Special Releases, 2958 bottles)