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Hi, you're in the Archives, December 2014 - Part 1
       

November 2014 - part 2 <--- December 2014 - part 1 ---> December 2014 - part 2

 

December 14, 2014


Whiskyfun

This is Sunday, let’s have rum

Our usual bag of rums from various countries and continents… Holidays!

Atlantico ‘Private Cask’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2014)

Atlantico ‘Private Cask’ (40%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2014) As often with rum, information on various websites diverges. It seems that this contains rum aged ‘up to 25 years’. Well… It also seems that the brand is doing a Beckham, as they’ve partnered with singer Enrique Iglesias. Colour: amber. Nose: rounded and very sweet, with notes of orange liqueur and corn syrup, then cranberry juice, then rather burnt wood. A new pack of sweets. I don’t find this very cane-y. Mouth: extremely sweet and sugary. Pass! Finish: rather long, very liqueury. Sugar syrup, plum jams and jellies, a few spicy herbs, a little bitter chocolate and sawdust in the aftertaste. Kahlua. Comments: an anti-malternative. I have a lot of trouble with most Dominican rums and often find them sickly sweet. More liqueurs than spirits. Adios, Enrique, you’ve added way too much sugar. SGP:830 - 50 points.

Medford (40%, OB, GrandTen, USA, +/-2014)

Medford (40%, OB, GrandTen, USA, +/-2014) Two stars This is small batch rum distilled in New England from molasses. Not too sure about where those molasses are coming from. It’s probably very young rum, and ‘craft’. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a sweet and syrupy style yet again, but there’s more to this, such as some tar Demerara-style, pine tar liqueur Scandinavian-style, then more apple pie and natural vanilla. Certainly not unpleasant so far. Mouth: in keeping with the nose, with a tarry side, apples, a little burnt sugar, then more and more oak that may make this baby rum a little planky. A little pine sap yet again, which adds some kind of herbal lightness. Finish: rather long, herbal and sweet at the same time. Have you ever tried Bénédictine? Comments: fair young rum with a different style. Pretty much to my liking despite the sweetness. SGP:740 - 75 points.

Travellers 8 yo 2005/2014 (44%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, cask #B86, 400 bottles)

Travellers 8 yo 2005/2014 (44%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, cask #B86, 400 bottles) Three stars and a halfAnother new one by this skilful new French independent bottler. Sure Travellers isn’t Caroni, but let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: unusual, herbal again, with strong notes of mint tea, caraway, ginger liqueur and then a wee tarry smoke once again. I also find a funny briny/coastal side. Anchovies with fresh mint? Sardines with woodruff? Then more usual apricots and raisins. Mouth: some character! Imagine you’d have selected some good light Cuban rum, added 1/3 heavy Caroni, and then let some vanilla pods, mint leaves and apricot halves marinate in that brew. Add a little clove, cumin and juniper, et voilà. Fun rum. Finish: long, all on liquorice, cumin and spearmint. Good medicine for winter. Comments: smart selection once again. A little less my style, but a lot of fun and difference. Again and again, vive la difference! SGP:651 - 83 points.

I think we’ve got another ‘French’ Travellers…

Travellers 2005/2013 (46%, L’Esprit, cask #BB11, 252 bottles)

Travellers 2005/2013 (46%, L’Esprit, cask #BB11, 252 bottles) Three stars This by an excellent French bottler in Brittany, check them out, they also do whisky. Colour: dark amber. Nose: a bit different, seemingly sweeter and rounder, so more liqueury. Cointreau, fudge, banana flambéed, then more flowers, lilies and lilac, honeysuckle… I also find a little woodruff again. Quite love that floral side. Mouth: we’re closer again, so quite tarry/heavy, with some liquorice and juniper, cumin, thick fruit liqueurs (apricots, plums) and then some sweet clove. Thick and heavy mouth feel but this never gets cloying or common. Finish: long, now with some orange liqueur. Cloves and cinnamon in the aftertaste, a little sawdust, and lastly, ten liquorice rolls. Comments: another sweet yet characterful rum. It appears that you can be sweet and not be an awfully repulsive sugar bomb. SGP:651 - 82 points.

Versailles 1990/2007 (45%, Samaroli, Demerara)

Versailles 1990/2007 (45%, Samaroli, Demerara) Five stars Versailles is really becoming rare! Its single wooden pot still seems to still be in use at Diamond Distillery (for the older El Dorados), and is said to be at least 150 years old. Colour: white wine. Nose: tja! Plain and pure sugar cane, with an oily and tarry fatness as well as a wonderful minerality. Black olives, graphite oil, flints, tar and lime. Perfectly pure, not heavy, no light, not sweet… Perfect! Mouth: t‘s so funny, with these notes of tinned sardines, tinned peaches, black olive brine, salty tar, copper, gherkins, sour apples, samphires, engine oil, silver spoon… It’s not unlike a very petroly riesling, except that this is saltier. Great salinity, as wine guys would say. Finish: quite long, very sour, metallic, salty and briny. You just had ten olives. Comments: not quite a surprise, but wow, Samaroli! I’ve only tried two or three Versailles so far, and this one’s now my favourite, by far. It’s got something Old-Ardbeggian. SGP:372 - 90 points.

Ouch, I had planned to go a little further but many rums would get death seats after that royal Versailles (pfff…) Unless we try to find something totally whacky… I think I’ve got an idea!

Grhum (43%, Silver Seal, grappa, +/-2014)

Grhum (43%, Silver Seal, grappa, +/-2014) Two stars So this is grappa from Trentino matured in an ex-rum cask. We don’t have further info but as the mad bottler has named it ‘Grhum’ instead of ‘Grum’, the cask may have come from a French-speaking island. No, rhum is not obligatorily agricole, contrarily to what some have written elsewhere. Colour: gold. Nose: grappa, and a nice one. I do not find much rum, but while very different from each other (of course), I believe both spirits can share many aspects. I do seem to detect some kind of gewürztraminer, but I may be totally wrong. Good grappa anyway. Mouth: the rum might be more noticeable on the palate. Well, I’m sure it’s very noticeable if you try the grappa alone and then this rum-aged version, but all the raisins, for example, could come from either spirit. Anyway, a good sweet palate, rounded, raisiny, which has kept a wee freshness. Very easy to sip and I’m sure a few ice cubes would work well. Finish: maybe it’s a little too sweet and sugary now. Loses a few points. Comments: on second thought, this funny baby would need ice. Maybe not the best balanced spirit of all times. SGP:730 - 70 points.

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

 

 

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December 12, 2014


Whiskyfun

Glen Elgin vertically

There are less official Glen Elgins than in the past, but I’ve always found that the distillate could be interesting, with a firmness that could make it very ‘Highlands’, beyond the Speysidy fruitiness.

Glen Elgin 17 yo 1997/2014 (46%, Orcines, cask #1651)

Glen Elgin 17 yo 1997/2014 (46%, Orcines, cask #1651) Three stars Orcines is the new line by the Whisky Lodge in Lyon, France. We already tried a pretty good Glen Spey. Colour: white wine. Nose: an immaculate, straightforward youngish Speysider that shares white fruits (apples, pears, white cherries) as well as some kind of smoked bread dough, a touch of shoe polish and certainly some linseed oil. Beyond the fruits! Mouth: excellent clean fruity distillate with, indeed, an oily firmness that prevents it from getting a little… dull. Apples, peaches and lemons, a combination that isn’t that usual in malt whisky. Little oak, hurray. Finish: rather long, rather on peach syrup this time. A funny feeling of grenadine. Comments: sweet and firm, as I wrote. Nothing to complain about! SGP:541 - 82 points.

Glen Elgin 22 yo 1991/2014 (51.3%, Hart Bros, Finest Collection)

Glen Elgin 22 yo 1991/2014 (51.3%, Hart Bros, Finest Collection) Three stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: this time there’s more sweet, creamy, rounded oak influence, but styles are similar. Barley water, custard, peach syrup, cane syrup, all that on ripe pears and peaches. Easy, quick, evident. With water: a little chalk coming out, it’s even a tad muddy. I wouldn’t say that doesn’t work. Sour dough. Mouth (neat): we’re even closer to the Orcines on the palate. Fruit syrups, light honey, sweet oils, a touch of lemon and just half a drop of eucalyptus oil, as well as a touch of sappy smoke. Pinewood? With water: same direction. Fizzy lemon juice, mint… Less clean than the 1997, but a little more complex. Finish: of medium length, with the mint coming even more to the front. Comments: some writers would call this baby ‘an intriguing malt’. They would be right. SGP:451 - 82 points.

Glen Elgin 38 yo (48.2%, Monnier Trading, Fighting Fish, bourbon, 172 bottles, 2013)

Glen Elgin 38 yo (48.2%, Monnier Trading, Fighting Fish, bourbon, 172 bottles, 2013) Four stars Monnier is a Swiss bottler. As for their ties with Chinese fish, I have no clues (are labels with fish fishy? Discuss…) Colour: gold. Nose: starts a little weird, metallic… An old tin box full of even older coins. Or an old penny book. Everything old, old clothes in an old attic, old books, old oils, old herbal liqueurs, honeydew… It’s a rather beautiful nose, but this profile usually implies a weakish palate, let’s check that… Mouth: no! All is very fine, raisiny and resinous (alliterations are so last century, Serge!), with raisins, old liqueurs again (grandma’s crème de menthe), more honeydew, a little tar… It’s even quite fat, and the oak remains discreet. It’s to be wondered whether this old baby didn’t age in pinewood. Finish: long, sweet and very, very piny. Fun stuff. Comments: one to sip in the sauna. The fact that it never got drying is a miracle. Hoppla, Grüezi miteinander. SGP:471 - 87 points.

I had planned to stop here, but we could as well go on and try to find a 90er. Maybe this one?...

Glen Elgin 30 yo 1972/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 276 bottles)

Glen Elgin 30 yo 1972/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 276 bottles) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: ooh yes. High-end shoe polish and light fresh fruitcake, a perfect combination. Honey sauce, citron liqueur, mandarins, verbena and wormwood, menthol, caraway, aniseed… It’s almost like a long-forgotten bottle of genuine absinth from the Val-de-travers, in grandma’s cupboard. Very beautiful. Mouth: whacky and yet very beautiful again. Mentholated and metallic fruits, I’d say. So some kind of mentholated mangos, mint-flavoured tea, paprika, pink peppercorns… All that on a rather oily and earthy structure. Only flaw, it tends to become a little drying. Finish: long, spicy. Pepper and mint, with a curious smokiness in the aftertaste. Smoked salmon and dill? Comments: not everything is well in place here, but it’s fun. Malt whisky for adventurers, perhaps. Good fun indeed. SGP:462 - 90 points.

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

(with thanks to Carsten)

 

 

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December 11, 2014


Whiskyfun

The new Cragganmore plus junior

I think we’re almost done with this year’s Special Releases by Diageo. Today we’ll have the Cragganmore.

Cragganmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/- 2005)

Cragganmore 12 yo (40%, OB, +/- 2005) Three stars An older version because… that’s the only one I’ve got while just like all whiskies, the new SR does need a sparring partner. Remember, when you’re mad enough to score your whiskies, only comparison is reason. Colour: pale gold. Nose: rounded and nutty, then rather floral and honeyed. A wee touch of lavender, which I enjoy in this context, geranium, dandelions, a little mead, apple pie or tarte tatin and then crème au beurre. Light but not weak. Mouth: easy, with an earthy touch, a little wood, maybe some fresh mint, then roasted nuts and toasted brioche. Finish: a little short, but pleasantly chocolaty. Marmalade, raisins, orange cake. Comments: a good example of a gentle malt that’s both light and firm. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Cragganmore 25 yo 1988/2014 (51.4%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak, 3372 bottles)

Cragganmore 25 yo 1988/2014 (51.4%, OB, Special Release, refill American oak, 3372 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: apricots, vanilla, dandelions and honey. The style isn’t far from that of the older 12, but of course this one has more oomph and probably more depth. More crème au beurre and tarte tatin (how French is that?), then oranges and a touch of liquorice and eucalyptus (drops of cough syrup). Notes of new American oak are far away, but you don’t feel them as such. Good. With water: not much changes, maybe a little more fresh sawdust? Mouth (neat): orangeade with ginger, vanilla and honey. Then mirabelles and apricots, probably figs, and a wee feeling of Turkish delights. The oaky side’s a notch more obvious now (fresh tannins, white pepper). With water:  excellent! Plenty of yellow fruits (apricots, plums, peaches, pears) with a little maple syrup, custard honey, and one mint leaf. You feel the oak, but it’s almost an asset in this context. Finish: of medium length, fresh, clean, fruity and honeyed. No oaky aftertaste, hurray! Comments: we aren’t very far from the very excellent official 29 yo from… wait, oh no, ten years ago! SGP:551 - 88 points.

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

 
Pete McPeat and Jack Washback
PJ

PJ

 

 

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December 10, 2014


Whiskyfun

Three Old Fettercairn, new and old

Well I keep calling them ‘Old’ Fettercairn but most new bottlings have dropped the ‘old’. Because some have considered that could be misleading? Let’s see if these babies will be as butyric as Fettercairn can be (IMHO)…

Fettercairn 'Fasque' (42%, OB, +/-2014)

Fettercairn 'Fasque' (42%, OB, +/-2014) Two stars and a half One of the countless new – and rather boring - NAS whiskies bearing strange names that are invading our shelves. Colour: amber. Nose: Mars bar and Ovaltine, then coffee and toasted bread, with just a wee whiff of struck matches and new leather. Also a load of natural caramel. Not unpleasant, and probably less ‘deviant’ than earlier young batches of Fettercairn. Mouth: it’s got that funny spiciness this time, we’re having some kind of blend of cooked honey, dry cocoa powder, dried parsley and unsweetened espresso. Becomes really dry after a few seconds. Strong black tea, chalk, marmalade. Finish: a little short, a tad cardboardy and very malty (Ovaltine again). Old walnuts in the aftertaste, a touch of Cynar (artichoke liqueur). Comments: I think I like it a little better than the ‘Fior’. SGP:361 - 78 points.

Fettercairn 24 yo 1990/2014 (46.4%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, hogshead, 120 bottles)

Fettercairn 24 yo 1990/2014 (46.4%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, hogshead, 120 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s simply got what the (probably much younger and more oaked) OB did not have, that is to say vibrancy. I like that word! Granted, it’s got those notes of carbon paper and graphite oil that are a little unlikely in this context, but I really like these notes of freshly squeezed oranges, pumpernickel from this morning, violet sweets (nothing to do with Parma violets) and cranberry juice. Rather unusual, very interesting. Mouth: creamy, zesty, a little acrid just like the Fasque, but also ‘funnily’ fruity, with cranberries again, oranges, watermelon… Again, it’s a little strange, but it’s one entertaining malt. Finish: medium long, grassier. A little grenadine this time? Some tea again, some pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: I’m not Fettercairn’s biggest fan, but I think this baby’s one of the better ones. SGP:451 - 84 points.

Fettercairn 12 yo 1980/2012 (58.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 150th Anniversary)

Fettercairn 12 yo 1980/1992 (58.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 150th Anniversary) Four stars and a half If Cadenhead have chosen a 12 years old Fettercairn for this celebratory series, their must have been a reason, let’s see… Colour: amber. Nose: strong, spicy and fruity, then beautifully metallic and earthy. Fresh porcinis, moss, oranges, leather, tobacco… It seems to be very complex, but water is needed. With water:  some sulphur coming out, but that goes away and quick. A superb leathery and mushroomy nose, plus many spices and assorted metals. A real Turkish bazaar! Mouth (neat): high impact, nutty and orangey arrival. Orange drops, ginger and pepper, angelica (never had this much angelica in a whisky!), then rather high-voltage chartreuse. Lots going on! With water: it’s become some kind of ueberSchweppes. I’m not 100% sure that’s a good thing, but unusual it is. Ginger, fruit drops and cardboard. Finish: long, very spicy. Tabasco and orange juice. Comments: fun whisky, really. Probably not very kosher, but I find it rather… hilarious? Worth a very high mark for sure. SGP:562 - 89 points.

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

 

 

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December 9, 2014


Whiskyfun

Seven Ardbeg black to black

So, Ardbeg. While the whole world seems to be waiting for news about what’s going to happen next year, as the ‘official’ Distillery will be 200 years old (just like Laphroaig – let’s hope that won’t be another Waterloo from a Frenchman’s POV), let’s try a little bunch of both newer and older bottlings. We’ll try to ‘go deep’… very deep…

Ardbeg 'Kildalton 2014' (46%, OB)

Ardbeg 'Kildalton 2014' (46%, OB) Three stars and a half An NAS version, so probably very young, from both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. It’s said that it’s not one of those very lightly peated Kildaltons such as the 1980 and 1981 from a good ten years ago. Colour: pale gold. Nose: I find this baby very clean, straightforward, sooty and ashy, with some sour lemon juice and plain seawater in the background, as well as just a touch of honey and peach syrup, just to make it a little rounder. It does not reek of VV (vulgar vanilla, eh), which is great news. Maybe also a little supermarket smoked ham (or liquid smoke). Mouth: starts rather sweet and gentle, hinting more at Coal Ila, before it gets a little smokier and ashier. Kippers and smoked ham again, a little pepper, a little mustard, then a little ginger from the oak. Herbal liqueur, drops of Fanta. I find this palate pretty simple and a little disappointing after the very nice clean nose. Finish: of medium length, with some sawdust and tea, then pickled gherkins and smoked fish. Fades away rather quickly. Comments: rather thin on the palate, while the nose was promising. May lack texture and body. I have to say I prefer the Ten, by far. SGP:446 - 83 points.

Let’s try another one, probably of similar age, at 46%...

Ardbeg 1991/2001 (46%, Murray McDavid, bourbon, cask #MM 2114)

Ardbeg 1991/2001 (46%, Murray McDavid, bourbon, cask #MM 2114) Three stars and a half A great story about the distillery by MMcD/Bruichladdich’s former owners on the label: “For several years we tried to persuade Allied to sell it – they finally agreed – but sadly not to us.” I’m sure the face of whisky would be different today, had Mark Reynier and gang managed to snatch Ardbeg Distillery in the late 1990s. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s not that different from the Kildalton, just a little more ‘violent’, a notch more estery (with or without the purifier on then?) and a little more medicinal, somewhat ala Laphroaig. Antiseptic. Wait, wasn’t the Laphroaig crew running Ardbeg at the time? Mouth: maybe not a fab Ardbeg either, but this is cleaner, straighter, sharper, more lively. I especially like these notes of marzipan and lemon marmalade, while the smokiness remains… a little soft. Some pepper, a little tar, a little lemon. Finish: good length. Smoked almond and lemon cordial. I’m sure the very creative Italian liqueurists do have such a drink ;-). Comments: one good step above the Kildalton, but it’s still not a total winner in my book. This session starts slowly, doesn’t it… SGP:447 - 84 points.

Now there’s a bunch of new very young ‘undisclosed’ Islayers that ‘could’ be ‘possible’ Ardbegs, let’s see…

Islay Single Malt 2007/2014 (53.1%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, refill hogshead, 315 bottles)

Islay Single Malt 2007/2014 (53.1%, The Whisky Agency, Liquid Library, refill hogshead, 315 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: could be. I remember having tried the ‘refill’ part of the official Ten at the distillery two or three years ago, it wasn’t dissimilar. A touch of smoked coffee – does that exist? – then white cherries, fresh almonds, smoked fish, oysters, lemon juice, green apples…  and tarry ropes and hessian and graphite oil, and mercurochrome… With water: swims like a champ – an ashtray with fins. Very ashy, very smoky. Mouth (neat): smoked plum spirit with a dash of salt and drops of seawater. It’s still got the sweet roundness of a young spirit at high strength, it’s got touches pears and oranges, and it’s very clean globally. Goes more towards smoked pear eau-de-vie after a few seconds, but it’s got depth. With water: perfect! This baby loves water, even when it’s wetter than a haddock’s bathing costume (copyright Sir Blackadder) it remains brilliant. Finish: long and extremely kippery. Comments: needs water. Don’t try it without water, or you’ll only get half of the experience. SGP:358 - 87 points.

Kildalton 2007/2014 (54.4%, Archives, hogshead, cask #9396, 170 bottles)

Kildalton 2007/2014 (54.4%, Archives, hogshead, cask #9396, 170 bottles) Four stars and a half Kildalton? That rings a bell… Colour: white wine. Nose: same whisky as the Liquid Library, more or less. Rather more than less. Same ultra-clean profile, with maybe just a little more ‘kilny’ touches. Raw peated malted barley. A little less coastal notes as well, less oysters… Wait, it’s not quite the same whisky, after all. With water: another ashtray, but it’s swimming all in seawater this time. Wonderful menthol as well, damp hessian… Mouth (neat): sharp, zingy, fresh, fruity, lemony… And rather smokier than its friend. A little hotter as well. Once again, the alcohol feels a bit, with an eau-de-vie-ish side. Smoked plum spirit? Not quite mature, but frankly good. With water: yeah, it really swims like a champ. We shall call it ‘Man-oh-doo’. Finish: long, superb, very ashy and saltier than its buddy. Comments: this one was a little fatter, maybe. High quality natural young ‘stuff’ without any woody makeup. SGP:358 - 88 points.

I insist, I have no proof that those were ‘begs, but let’s move on…

Ar5 (57.8%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2014, 50cl)

Ar5 (57.8%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2014, 50cl) Four stars and a half Suggestions that this could be Ardbeg are even clearer, aren’t they. I almost fell in love with Ar4 earlier this year (WF 90). Sounds a bit Star Wars, I know. Colour: gold. Nose: the oak’s much more obvious in this one, as it starts with strong notes of sawdust and vanillin. The miracle is that the spirit is soon to take over, to kill any excessively oaky aromas, and to display a half-coastal, half-medicinal profile. Bandages and mercurochrome on the beach! You may add a little tiger balm for good measure. With water: perfect marzipan smoke whelks grapefruit combo. Mouth (neat): it’s a little brutal, I have to say. Lemon lime and citron juice without one single drop of water, as well as that feeling of fresh oak that was there in the nose at first nosing. We’ll wear it down in the end, we will!... With water: there, seashell, almonds, salt, smoked salmon, liquorice… Finish: long, coastal and almondy, with a kippery signature. Comments: only the wee oak that was a little too noticeable at times (and for me) will prevent me from going to – or over – 90, but it’s great Ardbeg for sure. So… SGP:358 - 89 points.

Sherry? Sherry!...

Ardbeg 1991/2014 (48.9%, Malts of Scotland for Hotel Bero, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 14054, 185 bottles)

Ardbeg 1991/2014 (48.9%, Malts of Scotland for Hotel Bero, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 14054, 185 bottles) Five stars This one from Geert Bero’s Ostendian Connection. Ostendese? Geert is one of the largest Ardbeg collectors in the world, and his bar (and hotel) is well-known amongst whisky lovers. He’s also one of the kings of shrimp croquettes, a talent that’s less and less hidden. Colour: dark gold. Nose: not a sherry monster, rather a very lovely leathery nose, that also combines cigars, polished woods, camphor, pinesap, black olive brine and a few drops of oyster sauce. Should go well with sushi ;-). I could go on and on but that’s not needed. A very complex nose that starts a little ‘narrow’, but never stops getting wider and more complex. Time is on its side. Mouth: exactly the opposite. This is immediate and evident, quite massive, even a little thick, very spicy and kind of ‘infused’. Bitter oranges, leather, tobacco, Mandarine Impériale, a little chocolate, some pepper. And cloves, caraway, liquorice, menthol, a slice of black truffle (from the sherry cask I presume)… It’s not that immediate after all. Finish: very long and almost ever-lasting. The strength is not the highest but the spirit’s quite thick and ‘dominant’. Some kind of heavy cough medicine in the aftertaste. Comments: not quite a prima ballerina, but this very imposing style just… beats the humblest taster. I know, not a bad thing. SGP:467 - 92 points.

All right, let’s have a very last one. We’ve pretty much covered the 2000s and the 1990s, time to go back to the… not the 80s, not the 70s… rather the 1960s! After all, Christmas is close.

Ardbeg 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.4%, Cadenhead, black dumpy)

Ardbeg 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.4%, Cadenhead, black dumpy) Five stars There weren’t many 1965 Ardbegs, and frankly, the official 1965 from a few years ago was a little poor. IMHO of course. Colour: white wine (h.u.r.r.a.y.!) Nose: immediate, instantaneous, obvious. I’m not sure it’s all down to direct-fired stills and own maltings, but this is Ardbeg as ‘we’ used to know it fifteen years ago. Instantly recognizable, fatter, oilier, greasier, more phenolic, with this feeling of old garage, of dipping your nose into the engine of an old Ferrari (works with Renault or Volkswagen too), of old parchments (I imagine), old oils, old toolbox… I’m sure you know what I mean. This is the kind of nose that made Ardbeg a ‘grand cru’ in the old days, and I believe this style’s been lost, although I’m not sure it would appeal to modern drinkers who seem to favour sweetness and fruits. With water: more of all that plus tiny aromas such as ‘wet clothes’, ‘well-affined oysters’, ‘old chartreuse’ and ‘grandpa’s old pipe’. Mouth (neat): a brute! Not as wide and complex as I had hoped, but this feeling of salted and smoked liquorice is quite amazing. What a big spirit after all these years spent both in wood and in glass! Other than that, we’ve got some tar, or rather a pitchness (excuse me?) and, well, even more tar. Even some pepper, as well as some lemon juice, pine resin (drops), a mustardy side… I’m sorry, but ‘wham!’ You may call the anti-maltoporn brigade. With water: not too sure, there’s a lot of seawater, and that may have become a little ‘too much’. Drinking the cup while swimming in the sea. Yes, any sea. Also almonds, kippers and oysters. Finish: long and very salty, resinous, tarry, liquoricy, lemony. Comments: superb. Fat peat. Not quite 95-material in my book, but we’re very, very close. Also the kind of dram that teaches us the difference between an excellent whisky and a work of art – and why one shouldn’t use the upper part of the 100-scale too freely. I know, business is business and people have bills to pay. Printers and all that. SGP:467 - 94 points.

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

(and thanks Franco and Geert)

 

 

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December 8, 2014


Whiskyfun

A Linkwood extravaganza

Linkwood’s a beautiful and rather delicate distillate. I’m wondering why the owners never quite pushed it anymore after circa 1990, most well known expressions of Linkwood are or were by Gordon & MacPhail. Some kind of post-Victorian deal?

Linkwood 12 yo (40%, OB, John McEwan, white label, 75cl, +/-1980)

Linkwood 12 yo (40%, OB, John McEwan, white label, 75cl, +/-1980) Four stars This baby should make for a nice aperitif. Colour: straw. Nose: as always, it’s hard to detect what comes from good OBE, or if that was there in the first place. What’s sure is that we have some rather beautiful whiffs of ‘sweet’ shoe polish and herbal teas, as well as notes of quinces and rosewater. Very old Sauternes that went dry, nutty… But the whole isn’t very big, the palate might be flat, let’s see… Mouth: no, this is perfect. Some kind of smoked herbal tea, rosehip, hawthorn, then orange blossom, a touch of butterscotch, oriental pastries… A very fine light spirit, with something feminine – although that doesn’t make much sense anymore, agreed. Finish: a little short but clean, with more honey this time. Drops of walnut wine. A little bouillon in the aftertaste, but that should be OBE. Comments: love this old OB, why have they stopped bottling Linkwood as a ‘regular’ OB? Would make for a fine counterpoint to Mortlach. SGP:451 - 85 points.

Linkwood 13 yo 1994/2014 (46%, Orcines, cask #11970)

Linkwood 13 yo 1994/2014 (46%, Orcines, cask #11970) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: how very interesting! This comes from a shy cask, so we’re close to the distillate, and what I get is something akin to some light mezcal at some point. So a slightly smoky grassiness, then rather baked apples, butterscotch and warm brioche early in the morning in a Parisian bakery (oh forget!) In the background, quince jelly. I adore quince jelly. Mouth: some kind of oak-aged Williams pear eau-de-vie. A few fresh garden fruits (raspberries and gooseberries first), then rather more pastries. Croissants, custard, a few ripe plums. Good body, all quite easy. Finish: good length. Pastries and fruits. Plums. Comments: it’s a simple, easy, clean, uncomplicated, natural malt whisky. Very honest and loyal. SGP:541 - 82 points.

Good, we had a 12, then a 13… I guess a 14 would make sense.

Linkwood 14yo 1972/1987 (61.6%, Gordon & MacPhail)

Linkwood 14yo 1972/1987 (61.6%, Gordon & MacPhail) Four stars Woops, the strength is very high. So much for an aperitif… Colour: gold. Nose: splendid! Jams and jams plus jams and more jams, you cannot beat this. With water: superb, smooth fruit jams and cakes galore. First apricots and quinces, then plums and various smooth oils. Fruity olive oil… Mouth (neat): An impeccable western fruit bomb. Pears, grapes, berries, they’re all there – or so it seems, because the strength is really… strong. With water: honey and sweet barley, corn syrup, orgeat, a little fudge and many dried fruits. Dates, bananas, pears… Comments: as easy as whisky bottled at 61% vol. can be. It’s just not very complex, but maybe that’s the water. SGP:641 - 86 points.

We’ve got another 14 years old…

Linkwood 2000/2014 (55.8%, Malts of Scotland, refill sherry butt, cask #MoS 14025, 606 bottles)

Linkwood 2000/2014 (55.8%, Malts of Scotland, refill sherry butt, cask #MoS 14025, 606 bottles) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: similar to the old G&M, just a little fresher and less ‘fat’. More estery, if you like. Pineapples, pears, just a little varnish… With water: some sweet barley coming out, warm croissants, a pack of dried sliced bananas… Mouth (neat): kirschy, very fruity, very eau-de-vie-ish. This could really be kirsch! Or some kind of plum eau-de-vie. With water: fruity Speysidy joyness. Bubblegum, Turkish delights and marshmallows. Whisky for kids? I’m joking. Finish: long, with a little more bitterness. Around chlorophyll, grass and green tea. Or leaves and stems. Cherry stems? Comments: a raw eau-de-vie-ish, youngish Linkwood in my opinion, for lovers of this style. SGP:641 - 80 points.

Linkwood 27 yo 1987/2014 (47.3%, Whisky Agency, The Perfect Dram, rum finish, 179 bottles)

Linkwood 27 yo 1987/2014 (47.3%, Whisky Agency, The Perfect Dram, rum finish, 179 bottles) Four stars Yeah, a rum finish sounds as unlikely as Britney singing Schubert, but I have to confess I had loved some rum finishes, such as an old Tomintoul by DL if memory serves me well. Let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: more Linkwood than rum, and that’s good news. Maybe did the rum add wee notes of bananas – maybe – but other than that, we’re having a gently fruity Linkwood, with just an added layer of mint and eucalyptus, which adds even more freshness to the combo. Also a touch of earth, always welcome. Mouth: well this is excellent. Some kind of high-end fruit liqueur, with peaches, plums and melons, plus a touch or honey and, once again, a little mint – as in Moroccan mint tea. Good body, good mouth feel, no flaws whatsoever. Finish: fairly long, fruity, with an herbal signature. Banana skins? Rum? Comments: the rum remained unobtrusive, so to speak. Not sure I’d have detected it, had I not known it was there. Excellent Linkwood in my book. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Linkwood 28 yo 1985/2014 (53.4%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #4538, 161 bottles)

Linkwood 28 yo 1985/2014 (53.4%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #4538, 161 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: starts with just a little chlorine, it’s just like you’re entering Monte Carlo’s municipal swimming pool. After that, there’s a much unexpected coastal peatiness, then ‘a walk in the forest after a heavy shower’, then bags of fruit peelings, first apples, then kiwis and (probably) mangos. A very un-Linkwood Linkwood so far, interesting… With water: becomes both even more coastal, and more ‘Linkwood’. Where is Linkwood Distillery again? Mouth (neat): ex-Islay cask? Marzipan and peat, smoked salmon, sour cream, cough medicine, apple peelings, butter pears. How unusual indeed. With water: it’s got something of some ex-Seagram peated Benriachs, as far as I can remember. I find some lime, smoke, lemon, sage… Finish: rather long, maritime and citrusy. In short, not very ‘Linkwood’, but certainly very good. Comments: this baby loses you. Not obligatorily a bad feeling. Oh divine abandon! SGP:553 - 85 points.

Game for a very last one? I certainly am…

Linkwood 1984/2014 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 174 bottles)

Linkwood 1984/2014 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 174 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: to think that this is 29 or 30 years old. It’s elegant, not big, but very fruity, delicately so. Subtle despite a wee varnishy note at first sniffing, with notes of acacia honey, melons, meadow flowers, orange blossom, banana skin, then rather moss and fern, old damp wood… It’s all very delicate, subtle, complex… But maybe not totally rewarding. Pinesap, honeydew… Mouth: great! Starts with a little hashish – yeah, really – and chartreuse, and a feeling of damp oak, and honey, and orange liqueur, and peppermint. Goes on rather on earthy tobacco, malt, toasted oak, earthy tea… The oak gets a notch too drying, but that’s all right since the rest is wonderful. Notes of juniper, perhaps. Finish: long, oaky, piny. Bitter oranges, green pepper. Comments: the oak on the palate will prevent me from going above 89, but that was close. Peace & Love. SGP:551 - 89 points.

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

 

 

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December 7, 2014


Whiskyfun

Malternatives on Sunday,
hourrah pour l'Armagnac !

"What makes me laugh is that with their publicity, we'll never manage to make enough Armagnac for everybody". French ad, 1974

Armagnac

Armagnac seems to have become fashionable again these days. The good people down there in Gezrs anbd else are claiming that Armagnac is one of, if not the oldest spirit in the world as a certain Armand de Villeneuve is said to have created it in the 13th century, while written records rather mention 1411 or 1414. What’s sure is that Armagnacs can be fab!

Dupeyron 1992/2012 (40%, OB, Vieille Fine Armagnac, blend)

Dupeyron 1992/2012 (40%, OB, Vieille Fine Armagnac, blend) Two stars and a half Ryst-Dupeyron is an old House in Condom, they do also import and distribute Scotch whisky since many years under their own brand, Captain Burn’s. Colour: dark amber. Nose: starts light but pretty aromatic, with a lot of chocolate and prunes, then we’re rather having raisins and baked apples, with a touch of cinnamon and mint. Lastly, a little black tea, or rather earl grey. A light, easy nose, but there’s some complexity. Mouth: starts rather grapy, with a feeling of stalk and green tea, then it’s rather blackcurrant buds and leaves (tea). More liquorice and cinnamon after a few seconds, blackberry pie, dry raisins… The liquorice tends to dominate. Finish: good length. Liquorice and raisins plus a little pepper. Comments: I like this rather dry style. The 40% vol. work well. SGP:550 - around 79 points.

Clos Martin 1988 ‘Folle Blanche’ (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2013)

Clos Martin 1988 ‘Folle Blanche’ (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2013) Three stars Folle blanche is the traditional grape in Armagnac, as it used to be in Cognac before the phylloxera. Colour: amber. Nose: rather bigger, this one, rounder, with more raisins and oranges, as well as a small feeling of peach cake spread with eaux-de-vie. Grand-Marnier? Mouth: we’re closer to the Dupeyron, with this grapy, slightly gritty and biting style. Stalk again, apple peeling, tea, a small touch of rubber, perhaps. Feels ‘artisan’, which isn’t surprising as I’ve just read that Clos Martin are using very small stills. Finish: rather long, with more oranges again. A touch of liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: to my liking, this baby’s got oomph and character, and isn’t one of these Armagnacs that are hinting at cognac. SGP:651 - around 81 points.

Dupeyron 1987/2012 (40%, OB, Vieille Fine Armagnac, blend)

Dupeyron 1987/2012 (40%, OB, Vieille Fine Armagnac, blend) Four stars Colour: dark amber. Nose: oh lovely! A well-rounded armagnac, full of prunes, raisins, chocolate and coffee at first nosing, before a second layer of mint, aniseed and liquorice bring more complexity and freshness. Dill. Also blackcurrant jelly. Mouth: very classic full-bodied yet rounded, yet not too rounded, yet relatively smooth arrival. As much liquorice as in the 1992 by the same house, then some coffee, butterscotch, natural vanilla (pods) and some kind of cherry and cinnamon cake. All this works very well in my opinion. Finish: rather long, firm, on coffee, liquorice and prunes. Excellent. Comments: very malternative. It’s to be wondered if the single malts they import to France don’t inspire the good people at Ryst-Dupeyron. SGP:650 - around 85 points.

Dupeyron 1983/2012 (40%, OB, Vieille Fine Armagnac, blend)

Dupeyron 1983/2012 (40%, OB, Vieille Fine Armagnac, blend) Four stars More from the same house in Condom. Colour: dark amber. Nose: this one’s very different, I find whiffs of truffle, that is to say a wee sulphur-like note, then more cigars and cedar wood. The older age feels, but that adds complexity and… a bit of wackiness. Then liquorice again, a few pine needles and one or two mushrooms. Plus, of course, raisins and prunes. Mouth: classic again, fruity, rounded, ‘nervous’, appropriately a little hot and spirity, and yet rounded and kind of smooth. Raisins and sauternes, prunes, a little chlorophyll and then more liquorice and cinnamon again. Goody good. Finish: good length. Stewed fruits and liquorice plus wood spices and raisins. Perfectly balanced. Comments: hello Macallan! Too bad this baby was bottled at only 40%. SGP:651 - 86 points.

Dupeyron 1982/2012 (40%, OB, Vieille Fine Armagnac, blend)

Dupeyron 1982/2012 (40%, OB, Vieille Fine Armagnac, blend) Four stars and a half Another Dupeyron, no complains. Colour: dark amber but slightly lighter than the 1983. Nose: it’s a grassier, slightly rawer one again, with some green tea, cedar wood, apples, cinnamon, then more mint and liquorice. Oak oils, a little pine sap, cocoa powder, more grass… So this one’s a little grassier, but it’s as aromatic as the other Dupeyrons. Mouth: blimey, this is excellent once again. Stewed fruits, liquorice and herbal teas. Hawthorn, honeysuckle, rosehip and all that. Then ripe black cherries, raisins, prunes, caramel, orange liqueur and a touch of mint. Wonderful. Finish: rather long given the strength, with oranges, liquorice and toffee. And raisins. Comments: we’re approaching perfection. A very perfect malternative, but please, 43% vol.! SGP:651 - around 88 points.

No more Dupeyron (sadly), let’s change houses…

Domaine de Lasgraves 1981 (46%, OB, Bas Armagnac, +/-2013)

Domaine de Lasgraves 1981 (46%, OB, Bas Armagnac, +/-2013) Four stars This is single domain armagnac, and I believe it’s made out of bacco instead of folle blanche. Even the oak comes from the domaine. Colour: dark amber. Nose: this one’s very chocolaty at first nosing, and then all on dried fruits, Christmas cake and liquorice. Nosing a new pack of liquorice allsorts. After a few seconds some earth, humus, moss and pine needles rises to your nostrils, but the whole remains slightly thin after Dupeyron’s blends. Mouth: the oak’s a little too obvious in the arrival (heavy black tea) but all the rest is pretty perfect. Raisins and liquorice, marmalade, roasted pecans and then something a tad cognacqy. Peach liqueur. Finish: long, very nutty and even a little malty. Earthy aftertaste, with some cinnamon and walnuts. Comments: excellent once again despite the slightly excessive oak. And the 46% vol. are perfect. SGP:561 - around 87 points.

Lassale

Château de Lassalle 1979/2011 (46%, OB, Bas Armagnac, +/-2012) Three stars Another armagnac de propriétaire, owned by the baronne de Pampelonne in the Gers region. The grape is ugni blanc this time. Colour: dark red amber. Nose: quite superb, this is akin to a great old sherried malt from Speyside. An almost perfect combination of liquorice, dried figs, chocolate, toffee and prunes, with this earthy and mentholated touch that goes so well with armagnac. Sadly, it tends to become drier and a notch too grassy. Mouth: very gritty and raw, this could be calvados! Peelings and various herbs, mint, liquorice wood, cider apples, green tea… Very, very ‘artisan’. Finish: long, much more peppery than the others. Rather drying oak. Comments: great nose, great attack on the palate, sadly the oak tends to make it a little too dry and green for my taste. Very ‘calvados’ indeed. SGP:461 - around 82 points.

Baron de Sigognac 1978 (40%, OB, Bas Armagnac, +/-2010)

Baron de Sigognac 1978 (40%, OB, Bas Armagnac, +/-2010) Two stars and a half An armagnac by La Maison de l’Armagnac, distilled from bacco and ugni blanc. Colour: deep amber. Nose: a bit simpler than Château Lassalle, a little weaker as well (the lower strength, I guess), with more grass and grapes. I wouldn’t say there’s a lot happening here. A handful of golden raisins. Mouth: quite good but a little light again. Peach juice, caramel, the usual liquorice, the expected raisins, the anticipated prunes and maybe a little banana, which gives it hints of light rum. Finish: rather short, light, with some caramel and a little oak. And tea. Comments: fair, loyal and good, juts a little too light for me. SGP:440 - around 78 points.

Laubade

Château de Laubade 1975 (40%, OB, Bas Armagnac, +/-2005) Laubade is one of the largest houses in France, often to be found in good restaurants. I’ll always remember the 1900 that we tried back in 2009 (WF 90). Colour: dark amber. Nose: unusual and strange, that is to say ridden with pinesap and turpentine. That’s so big that you just won’t manage to detect anything else. Could be a corked bottle, let’s check the palate… Mouth: it’s not totally unpleasant, but our dear Alsatian fir liqueur has got less piny notes than this armagnac. Or retsina? Finish: long, bitter, green, mushroomy, extremely resinous and bitter. Comments: something may have gone wrong here, please take our score with a drop of pine liqueur. I mean, a pinch of salt. Most probably an accident. SGP:190 - around 5 points.

Baron de Lustrac 1970 (40%, OB, Bas Armagnac, +/-2010)

Baron de Lustrac 1970 (40%, OB, Bas Armagnac, +/-2010) Two stars Baron de Lustrac are éleveurs, which means that they’re more or less working like… say Gordon & MacPhail. Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather weak, flat, whispering, slightly dusty. Almost no nose I’m afraid. Strange whiffs of beer. Mouth: better! Not big but I enjoy this light fruitiness. Apple juice, something slightly metallic, ripe peaches and gooseberries, mint drops, liquorice, overripe apples… Becomes a little disjointed, sadly. Finish: rather short. Tea and apple juice. Comments: maybe not one of the best, it’s a rather weak spirit, but some parts were pleasant, such as the arrival on the palate. SGP:330 - around 70 points.

This session is going a little awry, isn’t it. One solution, trying to find a last Dupeyron!

J. Dupeyron 1970 ‘Private Collection’ (40%, OB, Armagnac, blend, +/-2013)

J. Dupeyron 1970 ‘Private Collection’ (40%, OB, Armagnac, blend, +/-2013) Three stars This is very small batch armagnac. Colour: amber. Nose: it’s very light, subtle and complex armagnac, rather akin to a great old cognac. I find wee hints of pinesap (nothing like the Laubade though), then liquorice, williams pears, a drop of ale (IPA) and a little light green tea. Loses steam, sadly. The younger vintages were much fuller in my opinion. Mouth: certainly more fulfilling, but once again it tends to become a little light, beyond the lovely notes of liquorice and coffee. Apple pie, apricots, a little walnut, then more and more over-infused tea, which means that the oak is taking over. Finish: medium length. Black tea and liquorice. Menthol, cedar wood and raisins in the aftertaste. Bitter chocolate. Comments: very fine old armagnac but I think it’s rather ‘too old’, the oak became drying. SGP:451 - around 80 points.

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

 

 

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December 5, 2014


Whiskyfun

A bag of Bowmore part six

And last. We'll have more Bowmore in one or two weeks.

Bowmore 15 yo ‘Laimrig’ (54.1%, OB, 2014)

Bowmore 15 yo ‘Laimrig’ (54.1%, OB, 2014) Four stars We had tried the original Laimrig for Sweden back in 2009 and just loved it (WF 90). That one was double matured in bourbon then Spanish sherry wood, but it seems that newer batches such as this one were rather finished for a few months. Which ain’t exactly the same thing. Colour: amber. Nose: well me like. A Christmassy spiciness, cloves, oranges and all that, on a lot of tobacco, heavily smoked salmon, then bicycle inner tubes and a few drops of walnut wine. Works well so far. With water: some kind of rather lovely pipe tobacco. And dried porcinis galore! And cured ham! We’re almost in an old trattoria somewhere in Italy. Mouth (neat): big creamy gingery and pastissy (!) arrival, with all things oaky and spicy at the same time forward. Caraway, aniseed, ginger, sandalwood, ultra-infused herbal teas, more pastis, even absinth… and all that. This is huge and not quite ‘whisky’ in my book, but that’s only me and I rather like it, since balance has been found, in my opinion. With water: it got even bigger, concentrated and extractive, with many spices. Alsatian (or German) Christmas spice cake, spicy Christstollen… Finish: very long, maybe a notch too gingery and oaky. Speculoos and bitter oranges. Comments: spectacular. I’m not sure the distillate has got much to say in this context – and Bowmore’s no bland spirit – but I think this really works. Good recipe. SGP:566 - 87 points.

Good, let’s have a last quick one, and a sherried one since I believe no ‘clean’ one would survive after the thick Laimrig. Let’s see what we have…

Bowmore 17 yo 1991/2008 (56.2%, A.D. Rattray, sherry butt, cask #2060, 520 bottles)

Bowmore 17 yo 1991/2008 (56.2%, A.D. Rattray, sherry butt, cask #2060, 520 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: cigars, walnut wine, vin jaune and dried seaweed (kelp). Dry nutty oloroso style. With water: pu-erh tea. Always hard to beat. Mouth (neat): rich, yet semi-dry, full of walnuts, marmalade and Corinthian raisins, with an earthy background. Dried apricots, quince jelly, black pepper. Once again, hard to beat. With water: figs coming out, touches of mandarins. A tiny-wee bit of rubber, perhaps. Finish: long, on marmalade and cloves. Comments: excellent. Was that quick enough? Not too telegraphic? SGP:665 - 88 points.

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

 
Pete McPeat and Jack Washback
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December 4, 2014


Whiskyfun

A bag of Bowmore part five

We're going on with our 'sliced' Bowmore session...

Bowmore 2001/2014 (50.9%, The Whisky Agency and Three Rivers Tokyo, refill hogshead, 272 bottles)

Bowmore 2001/2014 (50.9%, The Whisky Agency and Three Rivers Tokyo, refill hogshead, 272 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale white wine. Nose: similar, and yet we have a bigger minerality. More oils, grasses (or cut cactus) and waxes as well, with some soot and seaweed. Prickly pears. With water: works wonders. Pink grapefruit and zesty spices, green peppercorns. Mouth (neat): much better than the 2002. Salty lemon juice and smoked fish. All that is sharp, narrow, clean and great. With water: perfect, the best use of water. There is a kind of grassy bitterness remaining in the background, not an unpleasant one, while salted lemons and grapefruits are having fun in the front. Goody good. Finish: quite long, rather peppery. A note of artichoke. Comments: maybe was 2001 a better vintage than 2002. SGP:555 – 86 points.

Bowmore 14 yo 1999/2014 (51.4%, First Editions, refill hogshead, 188 bottles)

Bowmore 14 yo 1999/2014 (51.4%, First Editions, refill hogshead, 188 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: not a very peaty one, not a very coastal one, and not a very fruity one. In fact it’s all pretty subtle, with notes of asparagus – which I adore - and grapefruits, plus fresh almonds and oysters. I think I like this one a lot. With water: a plateful of oysters with a little liquid smoke spread over them. And some Bowmore of course. A touch of raw wool as well. Mouth (neat): excellent. A ‘riesling’ Bowmore – or would that be Pouilly-Fumé? – with a lovely earthiness, some mandarin, passion fruits, a stony smoke, and then maybe rhubarb. No raw b*****d this time. With water: excellent balance between the fruits (don’t I find pineapples?) and the briny smoke. Also a bit of liquorice. Finish: quite long, a little earthier. Roots. Comments: do you believe in vintages in Scotch whisky? Not the first excellent 1999 Bowmore I’ve tried. SGP:456 - 88 points.

Hold on, we’ve had 2002, 2001, 1999… We may have missed…

Bowmore 14 yo 2000/2014 (54.4%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, bourbon, cask #800093, 233 bottles)

Bowmore 14 yo 2000/2014 (54.4%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, bourbon, cask #800093, 233 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: this one seems to be much more mineral and grassy, I also find paraffin, almond oil and linseed oil. Not a very expressive one so far, but maybe is it ready to explode, let’s see… With water: not quite, it got rather rounder, with some vanilla and earth. A farmy side, as often with Bowmore. A little eucalyptus. Mouth (neat): the fruitiest so far. Burst with passion fruits and mangos, then lemons and Kool cigarettes. A bit of curry and even wasabi in the background. A sharpy fellow despite the arrival of a bit of coconut, probably from the bourbon cask. With water: reminds me of the first official Tempest, honest. Creamy tropical fruits plus a peppery peat on a bed of vanilla and coconut – no Malibu though. The bourbon cask feels a bit. Finish: rather long, relatively sweet and rounded, with white pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: I did feel the bourbon wood a bit, but other than that all very, very fine. Modern style Bowmore, this could have been an OB in my opinion. SGP:654 - 85 points.

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

 

 

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December 3, 2014


Whiskyfun

A bag of Bowmore part four

These have been bottled at a high strength, if not always at the ‘natural cask strength’. We’ll focus on recent vintages.

Bowmore 10 yo 'Tempest' (55.9%, OB, Batch #5, 2014)

Bowmore 10 yo 'Tempest' (55.9%, OB, Batch #5, 2014) Three stars and a half I’ve always enjoyed the Tempest, but tended to think that the newer batches had a little too much sweet oak. That’s the enemy in my book, and I find it really scary to hear distinguished industry people talk exclusively about oak these days. Like ‘Eh, next year we’ll launch a new exclusive virgin oak version, eh, we’re very excited…’ Ermnlmrnrdr… ! Colour: gold. Nose: the tropical fruits are doing the talking at first nosing (fresh pineapples), and then there’s quite a lot of limoncello and vanilla, and only a moderate brininess. Fresh oak starting to talk very loudly after ten seconds, although I wouldn’t call this baby ‘planky’. With water: hints of… our beloved wet dogs, seawater, cold tea, cinnamon… Mouth (neat): starts very creamy, very lemony, very peaty (for Bowmore) and very briny, but once again, the oak starts to feel a little more than I would have liked – but that’s me, obviously. Bags and bags of pepper after a short while. With water: very fine, but the oak’s tannicity got even more obvious. Finish: quite long, with a little aniseed and menthol, which I enjoy. Comments: as I said. Still very, very good, no doubt, but I’m not a huge fan of loud oak. Again, that’s me. SGP:565 - 83 points.

Bowmore 2002/2013 (56.8%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #13048, 282 bottles)

Bowmore 2002/2013 (56.8%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 13048, 282 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: a rather feinty one at first nosing, which is a little strange. Raw plum spirit, bread, yeast, wet wool… A very raw nose, not very peaty. With water: more leaven, white bread, baker’s yeast, old clothes… and all that. Very unusual, as if the cask had done, well, nothing but filtering out the fruitiness. Mouth (neat): very young, extremely punchy, on applejack, seawater (remember when we were swallowing mouthfuls when we were kids?), bitter tea and pear drops. Raw ultra-young Bowmore! With water: better I have to say. I mean, more to my liking, but it remains a little newmaky and raw. Finish: long, grassier, rough, bitterish. Very ashy and peppery aftertaste, but there’s a little lemon too. Comments: a brutal youngster. I think Malts of Scotland had/have many much better Bowmores – well all of the other ones, this is an exception in my book. The exception that proves the rule. SGP:375 - 77 points.

Proof? There…

Bowmore 1999/2011 (61.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 110014, 290 bottles)

Bowmore 1999/2011 (61.2%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 110014, 290 bottles) Four stars That’s the earlier livery. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s not that this baby’s much more complex or refined than the previous one, it’s just that it’s much cleaner, straighter, more essentially Bowmore (as they say in magazines). Now there’s a farmy side to it, a nose of working kiln, and bags and bags of ashes. A fireplace the next morning. With water: really, it’s the kiln! Barley, peat smoke, old wood, the workers’ aftershave (hey I’m joking!) And just a drop of poire williams. Mouth (neat): bang! Nails you a bit at this strength, but I like this citrus mingled with a huge smokiness. With water: impeccable whistle-clean Bowmoreness. Ashy lemony sooty briny peat. Finish: long, maybe a tad acrid, but that’s more than all right. Comments: phew! SGP:357 - 85 points.

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

 
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December 2, 2014


Whiskyfun

A bag of Bowmore part three

More Bowmore at lightish strengths from the sample library.

Bowmore 1982/2014 ‘Loch Indaal Catch’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, 165 bottles)

Bowmore 1982/2014 ‘Loch Indaal Catch’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, 165 bottles) Two stars and a half I have found the latest releases by Wemyss very impressive, but I doubt they could make anything interesting out of a 1982 Bowmore – the height of the geraniumy years. Let’s see. Colour: gold. Nose: what? Mashed turnips? Lavender soup? Violet-driven perfume? Sour bread? Warm milk? A mix of all of Haribo’s trials and errors? Mouth: it’s not totally horrible, but crème de cassis mixed with liquid smoke and brine is something that is… unforgettable. Well, after one minute, it even gets kind of pleasant. Kind of. What’s sure is that the palate’s much nicer than the nose. Finish: okay, okay. Blackcurrant-flavoured jell-O, pickled onions and peppered smoked tea. Comments: after all, this style has become historical, so these casks are worth bottling. And good news, there are only 165 bottles ;-). I think we’ve tasted (much) worse Bowmores from the 1980s. SGP:554 - 77 points.

Bowmore 15 yo 1998/2013 (49.5%, The Maltman, refill sherry, cask #20029, 278 bottles)

Bowmore 15 yo 1998/2013 (49.5%, The Maltman, refill sherry, cask #20029, 278 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: it’s hardly fathomable that this baby comes from the same distillery. And yet it’s no clean and tidy Bowmore, and yes there are whiffs of sweets and fruit jams, but those come from the sherry, while the spirit behind all that remains pure, clean, coastal and fruity. Mouth: good mild sherry that blends well with the briny spirit. Balance is achieved. There’s cassis again but that works well now, also cherry-flavoured tobacco (I used to know a brand but I’ve forgotten – old age you know) and then a swimming-poolful of brine. Gets a little leathery, but all remains fine. Finish: long, peppery, smoky. The extra-3.5% really feel. Comments: to be honest, I could do without sherry in Bowmore – not talking about the 1960s, obviously – but this works very well. SGP:566 - 85 points.

All right, time to put an end to this ‘below-50%’ session. Unless we could find one from the 1960 indeed… Hold on…

Bowmore 42 yo 1968/2010 (42.4%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #3825, 184 bottles)

Bowmore 42 yo 1968/2010 (42.4%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #3825, 184 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: gee-hee-heez. A basket full of grapefruits, mangos and passion fruits. Behind that, lamp oil, almond oil, seawater and barley water. Please take your phone… Mouth: … and please call the anti-maltoporn brigade. An avalanche of tropical fruits plus a wide range of very refined spices plus a little herbal liqueur. Sadly, it tends to become a little drying and tea-ish, that’s the 42 years in oak. Please drop that phone call. Finish: a little short and drying. Earl grey tea. Comments: I guess this great baby was bottled a little too late. Fabulous nose, very nice arrival, but the rest was a little disappointing. So great whiskies of course, and there aren’t many fairly recent opportunities to taste Bowmore from the 1960s anyway, but I wouldn’t say it’s one of the glorious ones. It seems like these times are gone, should there be any casks left, they’re probably… oh well… time flies… SGP:442 - 88 points.

Next time we’ll have stronger Bowmores, including some newish OBs. Tempest, Laimrig and all that…

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

 

 

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December 1, 2014


Whiskyfun
Whiskyfun fav of the month

November 2014

Favourite recent bottling:
Glen Garioch 40 yo 1973/2014 (54.3%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, sherry butt, cask #4297, 138 bottles) - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Yamazaki 1995/2006 'Owner's Cask' (63%, OB, for Futakata, 2nd edition, hogshead, cask #5J3072) - WF 93

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Springbank 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (54.3%, OB, batch #9, 2014)  - WF 90

Favourite malternative:
Caroni 18 yo 1996/2014 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, Trinidad, cask #SC3, 456 bottles) - WF 88

 
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November 2014 - part 2 <--- December 2014 - part 1 ---> December 2014 - part 2


 

 

Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Ardbeg 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.4%, Cadenhead, black dumpy)

Ardbeg 1991/2014 (48.9%, Malts of Scotland for Hotel Bero, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 14054, 185 bottles)

Glen Elgin 30 yo 1972/2002 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, 276 bottles)

Versailles 1990/2007 (45%, Samaroli, Demerara)