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Hi, you're in the Archives, December 2016 - Part 2

       

 

December 2016 - part 1 <--- December 2016 - part 2 ---> January 2017 - part 1

 

December 30, 2016


Whiskyfun

Whiskyfun's No-Awards 2016

Strictly no awards, just a list of the whiskies and malternatives I liked best each month this year, for the record.

 

Favourite recent bottling of the month
January 2016   93   Glenglassaugh 41 yo 1972/2014 'Rare Cask release' (50.6%, OB, refill sherry butt, cask #2114, 582 bottles)
Feb. 2016   92   Mortlach 25 yo 1989/2015 (52.4%, Silver Seal, cask #3911, 480 bottles)
March 2016   92   Benriach 35 yo (42.5%, OB, +/-2015)
April 2016   90   Springbank 12 yo 'Cask Strength' (54.1%, OB, batch #12, 2016)
May 2016   93   Caol Ila 31 yo 1984/2015 (54%, Malt Barn, bourbon, 68 bottles)
June 2016   93   Glenlochy 35 yo 1980/2015 (51.1%, Signatory Vintage, hogshead, cask #3232, 218 bottles)
July 2016   92   Benrinnes 30 yo 1984/2015 (56.6%, Silver Seal, cask #2268, 480 bottles)
August 2016   93   Speyside Region 40 yo 1975/2016 (55%, The Whisky Agency, fino butt, 389 bottles)
Sept. 2016   91   Ardbeg 21 yo ‘Twenty One’ (46%, OB, bourbon casks, 2016)
October 2016   95   Brora 38 yo 1977/2016 (48.6%, OB, Special Release, 2,984 bottles) Also Favourite of the Year 2016
Nov. 2016   93   Rare Cask Reserves 37 yo 1978/2015 ‘Paradise 1’ (55.4%, OB, William Grant, sherry wood, cask #5856, 276 bottles)
Dec. 2016   92   Springbank 14 yo 2002/2016 (47.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles)
 
Favourite older bottling of the month
January 2016   94 Springbank 12 yo (80° proof, Cadenhead's, 1960s)
Feb. 2016   93   Highland Park 15 yo (105° proof, Private bottling by the Orkney Hotel, bottled July 1967)
March 2016   93   Highland Park 27 yo 1968 (43%, Hart Brothers, Finest Collection, +/-1995)
April 2016   93   Rosebank 28 yo 1965/1993 (53.4%, Signatory Vintage, sherry, cask #2498, 180 bottles)
May 2016   94   Yamazaki ‘Age Unknown’ (43%, OB, 1989)
June 2016   93   Glenfarclas 26 yo 1970/1997 (56.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #1.77)
July 2016   94   Tamdhu 23 yo 1950/1973 (83° proof, OB, Highland Distillers)
August 2016   92   Longmorn 21 yo 1964 (86 US proof, Duthie for Corti Bros, Sacramento, USA)
Sept. 2016   97   Double OO ‘Old Orkney’ (no ABV stated, OB, Real Liqueur Whisky, McConnell’s, Stromness Distillery, +/-1930) Also Favourite of the Year 2016
October 2016   91   Port Ellen 24 yo 1979/2004 (56.8%, Signatory Vintage, cask #6773, 541 bottles)
Nov. 2016   94   Bowmore 30 yo (51.4%, OB, 30th Anniversary of Scottish Licensed Trade News, 3 bottles, 1994)
Dec. 2016   96   Clynelish 20 yo 1965/1985 (46%, Cadenhead, black dumpy)
 
Favourite bang for your buck bottling of the month
January 2016   91   Springbank 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2015)
Feb. 2016   87   Benromach 10 yo '100° proof' (57%, OB, +/-2015)
March 2016   90   Lagavulin 8 yo (48%, OB, 200th Anniversary, 2016)
April 2016   87   Glenrothes 8 yo (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, The MacPhail's Collection, +/-2015)
May 2016   90   Clan Denny Islay (46.5%, Douglas Laing, blended malt, +/-2015)
June 2016   90   Clynelish 17 yo 1997/2015 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, casks #4624-4625, 607 bottles)
July 2016   90   Caol Ila 8 yo 2007/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, bourbon barrel, cask #315325, 320 bottles)
August 2016   90   Kilkerran 12 yo (46%, OB, 2016)
Sept. 2016   91   Timorous Beastie 40 yo (54.7%, Douglas Laing, blended Highland malt, 1,080 bottles)
October 2016   92   Lagavulin 12 yo 'Special Release 2016' (57.7%, OB) Also Favourite of the Year 2016
Nov. 2016   87   Ben Nevis 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2016)
Dec. 2016   89   Caol Ila 2005/2016 (57.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, casks #301521, 301523, 301524, 301527)
 
Favourite malternative of the month
January 2016   91   Port Mourant 13 yo 2002/2015 (59%, Compagnie des Indes, Guyana, cask #WPM36, 239 bottles)
Feb. 2016   90   Clairin Casimir ‘Batch 2’ (54%, OB, Haiti, +/-2014)
March 2016   84   Kill Devil (40%, Hunter Laing, Caribbean blended rum, +/-2016)
April 2016   89   Foursquare 2 yo 2013/2015 (64%, Habitation Velier, Barbados)
May 2016   90   Caroni 17 yo 1998/2015 ‘Extra Strong’ (55%, Velier, Trinidad)
June 2016   91   Diamond 10 yo 2005/2015 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, 310 bottles)
July 2016   91   Uitvlugt 18 yo 1997/2016 (45%, Compagnie des Indes, Guyana, cask #MGA4, 637 bottles)
August 2016   89   Vale Verde 12 yo ‘Edição Especial’ (40%, OB, cachaça, +/-2012)
Sept. 2016   92   Hampden 6 yo 2010/2016 ‘HLCF’ (68.5%, Habitation Velier, Jamaica)
October 2016   92   Hampden 2000/2016 (54.9%, La Maison du Whisky, Jamaica, Transcontinental Rum Line)
Nov. 2016   93   Vallein-Tercinier ‘Lot 65’ (46%, OB, Cognac, Grande Champagne, +/-2015) Also Favourite of the Year 2016
Dec. 2016   92   Fine Champagne 50 yo (70% proof, Hedges & Butler, 1950s)
 

December 29, 2016


Whiskyfun

Our last session of 2016
A few very crazy Laphroaig

Good, in general, I’m trying to choose an old bottling at a lower strength as the obligatory apéritif, but we’ll do just the opposite today. Because you see, the older bottlings we’ve got on the tasting table are not just any older bottlings. They’re epitomical, grandiose, and simply historical. You’ll see… But first, that modern apéritif…

Laphroaig 20 yo 1996/2016 (50.6%, Specialty Drinks, Masterpieces, Pedro Ximenez sherry butt, 516 bottles)

Laphroaig 20 yo 1996/2016 (50.6%, Specialty Drinks, Masterpieces, Pedro Ximenez sherry butt, 516 bottles) Three starsI’m not always into PX, especially PX on peat, but I’m often wrong. Colour: amber. Nose: ah. Definitely modern, and possibly re-racked, but it seems that it was worth it. Never have pencil shavings and cough syrup combined this well! Some kind of gingery, spicy, and smoky all-fruit jam that’s getting rather balsamic after a few minutes, while the oak spices would never give up. Peppered chocolate, cloves, cinnamon cake… With water: bourbon mixed with turpentine and tincture of iodine. It’s got its charms, but we’re far from any regular Laphroaigness now. Mouth (neat): huge, concentrated, and extremely extractive. Thick jams, oak spices, pomegranates, tamarind jam, ganaches… In truth Laphroaig’s distillate, not the weakest ever don’t we agree, got almost silenced. With water: same feeling, this is pretty extreme. The PX comes out, with sultry fruits and of course many raisins. Spice cake? Finish: long, sweet, and spicy. Hungarian Tokaji and lapsang souchong tea, fifty-fifty. And a lot of fruited marzipan in the aftertaste. Comments: I did not quite understand this whisky, I think I should go see a doctor. And perhaps an analyst. To me it feels a little pimped, if I may, but I know many aficionados who just totally ADORE it. SGP:654 – 81 points.

Good, I think we’re ready for some classic Laphroaig…

Laphroaig ‘Old Liqueur Scotch Whisky’ (80° proof, OB, late 1940s-early 1950s)

Laphroaig ‘Old Liqueur Scotch Whisky’ (80° proof, OB, late 1940s-early 1950s) Five stars Wow, and I mean wow. This ultra-rare bottle was sourced from an old pub in Girvan by Mr Laphroaig himself, Marcel van Gils, the man who’s written the very best literature about Laphroaig ever, and who could teach anyone. Yes, anyone. Imagine this was most certainly distilled before WWII! Colour: gold. Nose: some kind of smoky brine. It’s the vibrancy and the insane freshness that are impressive. Some kind of aged precious balm, perhaps. Olives, camphor, samphires, seawater, more seawater, even more seawater… And many tiny herbs, dill for sure, sage, parsley… So it’s globally vegetal, wonderfully so. Mouth: oh the freshness! Totally salty, coastal of course, with a yet unknown combination of honey and seawater. Salty honeys, grapefruit juice, funny hints of tequila… Now I’m wondering, couldn’t this make for the rarest margarita ever? And the body’s totally impressive. Please call our favourite brigade before it’s too late, thank you! Finish: very long, still honeyed, salty, seaweedy, and above everything, with only the slightest hint of old bottle effect. In truth this could have been bottled yesterday. Love the mandarins in the aftertaste, this is so old-Laphroaig! Comments: grandioso. The honeyed side just kills you. SGP:654 - 95 points.

Let us insist…

Laphroaig 14 yo (91.4 US proof, OB, Carlton Import, rotation 1953)

Laphroaig 14 yo (91.4 US proof, OB, Carlton Import, rotation 1953) Five stars This other ultra-rare bottle came from a full case discovered in America a few years back. Colour: amber. Nose: more sherry, it seems. This is also earthier and more tertiary, so less ‘straight’, and of course it’s just as flabbergasting. I’ll mention Cuban cigars from an old box, I’ll mention an old bottle of mead, I’ll add some beeswax and the most precious honeys (perhaps manuka, but isn’t manuka overrated?), and I won’t forget the most good (not the same as the best) milk chocolate. And it would start to become terrifyingly complex, shooting tiny aromas at you one after the other, first twenty dozen candied and dried fruits, then many precious balms and oils from the middle-east, and then more herbs and saps than you could find at Wikipedia’s. Mouth: first, it’s dry. And second, it’s herbal. And hugely tertiary, meaty, ‘foresty’, mushroomy… Let’s be quick, this is more or less some very old Chambertin matured in old pinewood. It’s even pretty bouillony (with salt), and there is some long-aged mead. Utterly brilliant old Laphroaig. Yes I’m trying to keep this as short as possible, I’m sure you understand. Finish: perhaps a tiny wee bit bitter, but that’s good, I was afraid would be flying too high, because we need to maintain our strength. Comments: coming up with a different score? The conceit of that guy! SGP:564 - 95 points.

So, perhaps some higher strengths…

Laphroaig 1978/1995 (55.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #29.7)

Laphroaig 1978/1995 (55.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #29.7) Five stars It’s funny – and sometimes moving – to see that many Society members used to handwrite the name of the distilleries onto the labels. Because not everyone is a fan of the Da Vinci Code… Colour: dark gold. Nose: huge! It’s beef bouillon blended with poultry soup, and that would include miso and parsley. Beyond that, some fresh and lively citrus, especially pink grapefruits, and a very gamy/farmyardy side. Fermenting hay, Marmite… So it’s a rather wild Laphroaig. With water: a cow stable on Islay. And mud, manure, dried kelp… Mouth (neat): yes yes yes. Tart, zesty, yet thick and rich, this is whisky to the power of two. Make that three. Now it doesn’t quite go in for subtleties, and gets massively salty and lemony. And peaty, and herbal. Seductively brutal. With water: the mandarins and bitter oranges are striking back. You don’t drink it, you fight it. Finish: endless, thick (even when heavily reduced), and perhaps a wee bit oaky towards the finish. Had to find something bad to say, you see. Comments: it was tiring, but it was worth it. As I said, you have to fight these. SGP:566 - 92 points.

Aren’t we pushing all this a bit too far? Perhaps a last one?

Laphroaig 1975/1993 (50.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #29.3)

Laphroaig 1975/1993 (50.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #29.3) Five stars The third Laphroaig ever bottled by the honourable Society. What’s the number these days? Around 180? Colour: white wine. Nose: totally different from all the others, this one is exactly crystalline, millimetric, and concise, I’d say. Mercurochrome, limejuice, seawater, and ashes. A total blade, not sure it’s not my favourite style. And these are also much faster to assess. With water: ink and lemon oil. Concrete. Paint. Bandages. Mouth (neat): lace and crystal. Ah those glorious third or fourth-fill casks! Almond and lemon oil, ashes and kippers, green olives, and oysters. That’s all and that’s a lot in my book. With water: terrifically blade-y. Would they grow lemon trees on Islay’s south shore, their fruits would taste like this. Provided they would get any fruits, of course. Finish: long, blade-y, smoky, almondy, plasticine-y. Comments: yes sir! Lace and whisky, wasn’t that an Alice Cooper LP? Not the best ever if I remember well… SGP:457 - 94 points.

With many mercis and hugs to Angus (who co-organises Glasgow's Whisky SHow Old and Rare) and Marcel who wrote this stunning book about Laphroaig.

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

 

Tomorrow morning we'll publish our favourites of 2016.

 

 

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December 28, 2016


Whiskyfun

Clynelish 1997, 1995, and, ach, 1965

We couldn’t end this year without a few more Clynelishes, could we?

Clynelish 18 yo 1997/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead)

Clynelish 18 yo 1997/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead) Four stars Not too sure about either the actual ref (I’ve got OLD0255) or the outturn, but I know that this baby was bottled in August 2016. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got rather more oak than others, and even a bourbony feel at first, but gooseberries, green plums and other acidic fruits are soon to take over, and that would include lemons indeed, while very little wax or other oily/greasy elements are detectable. So it’s a rather zesty Clynelish. Mouth: bright and sharp, tart, with a gangue of vanilla sponge cake. Perhaps one or two raisins that would suggest refill sherry, but it doesn’t seem like sherry. Also ginger biscuits and cinnamon cake, as well as touches of soft pepper. Once again, not a very waxy Clynelish. Finish: long, rather on some spicy lemon pie, I’d say. Liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: at some point you could think it’s very lightly sherried Highland Park. SGP:551 - 86 points.

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2016 (49.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 169 bottles)

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2016 (49.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 169 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: ah wax, oh roots and branches, ah clay, mud, and chalk, oh gentian and celeriac… Strictly nothing to complain about! Perfect earthy/waxy style, very fresh and extremely engaging (provided you enjoy earthy/waxy malts). Mouth: perfect indeed, and even a little unusual, for it starts with hints of rose jelly and litchis. But where do those come from? A totally modern-Clynelishy development after that, with waxy lemons and earthy/mossy herbs. Very well chiselled, as they ay in Toledo (S.! - whatever). Finish: long, more or less on a blend of gentian eau-de-vie and limoncello, 50-50. I’ll have to try that one day. Comments: another rather sublime Clynelish. Right up my valley! I mean, my alley. SGP:562 - 90 points.

Look, why not jump over the years and try one Clynelish that was distilled 30 years before? That’s right, in 1965?

Clynelish 20 yo 1965/1985 (46%, Cadenhead, black dumpy)

Clynelish 20 yo 1965/1985 (46%, Cadenhead, black dumpy) Five stars A rather rare bottle I had in my stash before some young marginally inebriated Scot did let it fall – and break – on the floor earlier this year after having just opened it. And yes that young Scot is still alive, because by sheer luck, I had just taken a wee sample of it for due reference, and that’s the sample we’ll try today. I’ll add that I had first planned to bring this bottle to a tasting session (some call that a masterclass!) that I’ll do with my Turckheimer friend Olivier Humbrecht in Glasgow on February the 19th, at The Whisky Show: Old and Rare. That’ll probably be the only tasting session I’ll do next year, little time for those things. Or perhaps only one or two in Paris, I’ll see. Anyway, this is indeed ‘Old’ Clynelish, so yes, a Brora before Brora.

Colour: straw. Nose: sweet Vishnu! This nose is ridden with metallic notes, from that old toolbox to this even older pile of empty oilcans, from Veedol to Motul. This is exceptional indeed, especially since everything that happens after that very garage-y opening is totally and brilliantly Old-Clynelish, with citrons and grapefruits, seaweed, fresh concrete and paint, plasticine, bandages, lime juice, dead leaves, moss, soot, a lot of shoe polish, mushrooms, and, yeah, tah-dah, our friends the wet dogs! Very sorry indeed, dogs! Mouth: sweet Mary and Joseph, this is the exact definition of a true old-school Highlander. Basically, the balance between the citrus and the petroly waxes is just perfect. But if you need more details, I’ll happily mention pomelos, chalk, plasticine, bitter oranges, natural rubber (bands), ink, soot, earth, roots, cigar ashes, olive brine… And old papers, dry tobacco, capers, a touch of dry oak… But I’d better stop now, the list of flavours would be endless and this note would start to resemble a book by Dostoyevsky. Length-wise, not quality-wise, obviously. Finish: perhaps not extraordinarily long, but just magnificently ashy and sooty. Comments: I’d add that the style of most of these old black dumpies – because yes they all share a kind of sootiness in my experience – goes perfectly well with Old Clynelish. Shoo, straight into WF’s hall of fame! SGP:363 - 96 points.

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback
PJ

PJ

 

 

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December 27, 2016


Whiskyfun

Springbank, another wee verticale

No OB this time. Well, not quite…

Springbank 14 yo 2002/2016 (47.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles) Five stars Well, the good folks at Cadenhead do not need to go very far to go handpick one or several casks of Springbank, do they. Colour: white wine. Nose: instantaneous. Ink, coal smoke, sour cream, engine oil, artichokes, tarry ropes, old leather jacket, that very particular sulphury side that’s so nice (in this context), and Nescafé. Not too sure about that last bit. Mouth: it’s quite amazing how Springbank became quite Longrowy after the year 2000. Should we go talk to the gentleman that used to be responsible with cleaning the pipes? First a very lemony and mineral peat, then many many ashes, then oysters and citron liqueur. More and more seawater – may we talk to the gentleman that used to be responsible with cleaning the pipes once more? Bah, love this. Finish: long, superbly balanced between chalk, ashes, and lemon juice. Almost forgot to mention ink. And salt. Comments: isn’t Springbank simply Scotland’s greatest distillate these days? Yes, even taking vodka into account? ;-) SGP:453 - 92 points.

Springbank 1999/2016 (50.3%, Archives, sherry hogshead, cask #269, 287 bottles)

Springbank 1999/2016 (50.3%, Archives, sherry hogshead, cask #269, 287 bottles) Four stars and a half Our Dutch friends at Archives’ already had some wonderful Springbank in the past, so… Colour: pale gold. Nose: I was about to copy-and-paste my notes for the Cad when I started to notice more sherry, leather, and perhaps ‘medicinal rubber’ in this one. So it’s perhaps a little less bright, and a little more, well, dry-sherried. All very nice anyway. With water: mushrooms and struck matches. Which works. Mouth (neat): same feeling of leathery, slightly rubbery things in the arrival, before more bitter oranges and pepper appear. A little thicker, for sure. With water: it just adores water. Oranges, chalk, pepper, truffles, waxes… The rubber’s gone now. Finish: long, on some kind of smoky and mineral marmalade. Comments: I like them even better when they’re unsherried, but once again, it’s a great one. SGP:452 - 89 points.

Springbank 21 yo (54.1%, The Whisky Show, bourbon)

Springbank 21 yo (54.1%, The Whisky Show, bourbon) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a rather lighter Springbank, and in a way you could say it’s less ‘Longrowy’, so less smoky and engine-y than the younger ones. I rather get autumn leaves, old books, saltpetre, graphite… With water: a little brinier, with more sourness, perhaps. Smoky yoghurt, seaweed, capers, lovage... Mouth (neat): ah no, this is perfect. Totally blade-y, and yet with a fatness behind, extremely lemony, and chalky to the max. Also green apples, and grains of salt. Reminds of potash from nearby mines, which we used to lick when I was a kid. With water: more of all that. It’s a katana. Finish: very long, on candied lemons dipped into pepper liqueur. Or something like that. Comments: fine nose, greatest palate. First lost a few points, then won them all back. SGP:562 - 90 points.

Springbank 21 yo 1995/2016 (54.8%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill sherry butt, cask # DL11366, 131 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo 1995/2016 (54.8%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, refill sherry butt, cask # DL11366, 131 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: we’re very close to the ‘Show’ bottling, obviously, but this one’s a little meatier, and in a way, more ‘Mortlachy’. Hardboiled eggs, leather, matches, roasted chestnuts… It’s also earthier, with some damp black earth, while some tangerines are coming out. A little mud. With water: that old tweed jacket after a long walk in Scotland. You’re right, a walk under the rain. Mouth (neat): no, it’s really really good. Peppered bitter oranges with bits of leather and capsicum. Caraway. With water: gets a little drier, and that’s probably the sherry. Some oranges singing in the background. Finish: long, on bitter herbal liqueurs and Seville oranges. Comments: extremely high quality yet again. It’s just that, in my opinion, modern Springbank does not obligatorily need sherry. SGP:462 - 88 points.

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

 

 

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December 25, 2016


Whiskyfun

Xmas

Merry Christmas with a few old Cognacs
I’ve always found that Cognac was more ‘Christmassy’ than whisky, so let’s have two newish oldies, and then perhaps two old fifty-years-old. Is that acceptable? We’ll try to have even older ones on January 1st.

By the way, this rather saucy Xmas ad for Hennessy used to run around the mid 1980s. Haven't times changed? -->

 

Distillerie Charpentier 30 yo (52.8%, Cadenhead, Petite Champagne, 270 bottles, 2016)

Distillerie Charpentier 30 yo (52.8%, Cadenhead, Petite Champagne, 270 bottles, 2016) Five stars I tried an earlier 30 yo Charpentier by Cadenhead last year, and found it much to my taste (WF 90). What I never quite found was the distillery, but that’s not important, is it? Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh perfect. All elegance, complexity, and depth, and in truth it kind of makes me think of some older vintage Glenmorangies, such as that 1971, remember? Flowers and ripe yellow fruits, mirabelles, or sloes, vine peaches… There’s also some very floral honey, and behind that, an elegant waxy background. A touch of Demerara sugar (nosing a newly opened pack). With water: toasted oak! Engine oil! Paraffin! Mouth (neat): punchy and very fruity, on jelly babies and marshmallows, but it tends to become maltier, with some Ovaltine and these overripe apples that can be found in many a… malt whisky. Some minerality as well. Flints. With water: gets grassy, but also kind of oriental. Rose jelly? Finish: long and gritty/grassy, which leaves your mouth fresh and ready for the next one. Thank you. Comments: 90 it was last year, 91 it is this year! I’m wondering if, should someone let some Scottish distillers use the Charentais alambics, we would get this curiously Scottish style in Cognac. What’s sure is that it’s very splendid spirit. SGP:661 - 91 points.

Gasp, we’ve started at a high level, haven’t we! We may need heavy artillery to go on…

Vallein-Tercinier 1973 (48.2%, OB, Petite Champagne, +/-2016?)

Vallein-Tercinier 1973 (48.2%, OB, Petite Champagne, +/-2016?) Four stars and a half Yes, another Petite Champagne, from one of my favourite Cognac houses. Colour: deep gold. Nose: very much in line with the Cadenhead, only a little maritime, perhaps, fresher, a little less candied, and perhaps a little more of a ‘classic’. There’s also a little more earth, more feelings of discovering an old cave, or an abandoned wine cellar (a dream, isn’t it)… perhaps a little more camphor and eucalyptus as well?... Wonderful nose, in any case. With water: some green tannins are emerging. Mouth (neat): it’s a little oakier than the Cadenhead, I have to say. Some wonderful citrons and oranges, but also quite a few tannins again. Black tea, chewing your cigar, all that. Some mint drops for sure. With water: some very lovely grapefruits and oranges, and greatest of news, water did not bring out even more tannicity. Phew! Finish: rather long, a tad green perhaps, but the citrusy side keeps it wonderfully fresh. Comments: perhaps not one of my arch-favourite Valleins, but my favourite Valleins are flying with the eagles up there. SGP:461 - 88 points.

So, Christmas…

Fine Champagne 50 yo (70% proof, Hedges & Butler, 1960s)

Fine Champagne 50 yo (70% proof, Hedges & Butler, 1950s) Five stars Most probably some early landed Cognac distilled in the very beginning of the 20th century, bottled by one of the most famous and oldest wine and spirit merchants in London. It seems that the brand name now belongs to Ian Mcleod, having said that. As for the ‘Fine Champagne’ appellation, it’s always a blend of Petite and Grande Champagne, with a minimum of 50% Grande Champagne. Colour: amber. Nose: it’s some fruit compote, with bits of fresh mint and the most delicate rancio mingled with the most precious honeys. Especially rock rose and heather. Fantastic freshness and lightness, without one ounce of weakness. I’m even finding wild strawberries. Mouth: fab. Honeydew, apple compote, a drop of crème de menthe, some chocolate mint, an unexpected coastal side (oysterleaves), and a stunning blend of pipe tobacco with porcini powder. Really. Finish: rather long given both the oldness and the low strength, and with quite some glazed chestnut. You could quaff litres of this. The aftertaste is a little earthier, which is just perfect. Comments: quite exceptional, this old old Cognac by Hedges & Buttler. I believe these are the bottles to gather these days, since old whisky’s become totally out of reach (and of sanity). Unless you’ve got plenty of money that you’re ready to lose, of course. SGP:641 - 92 points.

The other 50 yo…

Grande Fine Champagne 50 ans (no ABV, F. Latour & Co., Réserve des Grandes Hostelleries de France, +/-1950)

Grande Fine Champagne 50 ans (no ABV, F. Latour & Co., Réserve des Grandes Hostelleries de France, +/-1950) Four stars and a half Most probably late 19th century Cognac, but not obligatorily pre-phylloxeric. I’ve tried to find data about the F. Latour & Co. brand, and it seems that it now belongs to a company in… Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Which is pretty shady, isn’t it? I’ve seen new bottles, but the vast majority of the F. Latour bottles that are to be seen on the Web are antiques such as this one. As for the ‘Grandes Hostelleries de France’, I couldn’t find any traces. Perhaps was it just a ‘fantasy’ name? Colour: mahogany. Nose: there’s probably quite a lot of caramel in there, because it does reek of caramel (ha), and at some point your could believe it’s some El Dorado rum. Now it tends to become much more complex, almost smoky, with a wonderful earthiness and touches of dark cigars (maduros). I’m also finding soy sauce, umami, and something teriyaki-like, before it gets more and more terpenic and mentholated. Not always good news, let’s see what gives on the palate… Mouth: indeed it’s a little thick(ish) and liqueury, so maybe additived, but other than that, it does the peacock’s tale on your tongue, with some mint chocolate, some coffee, certainly some big black Smyrna raisins, and that sweet earthiness that one can find in some teas. Perhaps a touch of soap, which isn’t uncommon in very old bottles, which might be linked to that famous ‘taste of glass’. Finish: perhaps a little short, but that’s to be expected from these old bottles. Comments: the Hedges & Butler was superior in my book, but this F. Latour remains a fantastic old glory. You just have to take into account that it’s a 50+50, very roughly. SGP:441 - 88 points.

I know we said two old 50yos, but let’s have a third one as a bonus… Because this is Christmas.

Réserve de l’Ange 50 ans (no ABV, Rouyer Guillet & Co, +/-1950)

Réserve de l’Ange 50 ans (no ABV, Rouyer Guillet & Co, +/-1950) Five stars Rouyer Guillet was a famous distillery in Saintes, established in 1801 according to official records, although this label rather mentions 1701. Yes, an anachronism that reminds us of quite a few Scottish distilleries ;-). We had tried a Rouyer Guillet 1865 back in 2010, and it had been utterly stunning (WF 95). Just like the F. Latour, this fifty years old Angel’s Reserve was probably distilled in the late 19th century. Colour: dark amber. Nose: it’s rather fruitier than the Latour, and rather less rancioty and umamiesque (right, right). So we’re rather navigating around kugelhopfs and panettones, with a few mushrooms on top of that, as well as many kinds of raisins. Also whiffs of orange squash and aniseed biscuits, which adds even more freshness. Earthy oranges. Mouth: it certainly wins on the palate. Fresher again, fruitier, sexier, and, well, more perfect. Various old-skool orange liqueurs (made by monks and nuns, ha), as well as bouillons, soups, and Belgian beers (made by monks as well, such as the trappists). If you really need a name, I’d say Rochefort. Once again there’s a very tiny, almost unnoticeable soapiness, and I believe that’s the usual taste of glass again. No worries. Finish: medium, marrowy (do you say that in English?) and raisiny. Some typical camphory touches in the aftertaste, as well as some cooked and caramelised honey. Those trappist beers again, perhaps. Comments: this old Rouyer had many tales to tell. I’m wondering if it’s not 100% folle blanche. SGP:541 - 90 points.

See you next Sunday with more old Cognacs, because we’ve got some 75 and even 100 years olds to taste to celebrate the new year. In the meantime, we’ll have quite a few festive whiskies. By the way someone has asked me about the relations between Champagne the sparkling wine and Fine/Petite/Grande Champagne in Cognac. The answer is none, ‘champagne’ being just the older name for ‘campagne’, which just means ‘country/countryside’. So you’ll actually find many Champagne areas all around France.

(thanks a lot Angus, Diego, Pieter)

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

 

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December 22, 2016


Whiskyfun

Xmas

The Pre-Christmas Duos
High flyers, Glen Mhor 1937 vs Glenury 1966

And why not? Glen Mhor was one of those famous distilleries that were lost in the early to mid 1980s. It was located west of Inverness, quite small (two stills), and maybe is it to be noted that Glen Mhor used to be Mackinlay’s core malt (remember Shackleton). They started to use a Saladin box to malt their own barley but I believe that only happened after WWII, so the 1937 to come was probably made out of traditionally malted barley (floor malting).

Glen Mhor 1937/1959 (18UP, Angus, Phil & Simon, ex-stone flagon, 39 bottles)

Glen Mhor 1937/1959 (18UP, Angus, Phil & Simon, ex-stone flagon, 39 bottles) Five stars An amazing stoneware flagon, which was sold at auction and came from the cellar of an estate in Dundee. It is Glen Mhor single malt distilled 1937 and put into the flagon in 1959. It was bottled earlier this year in 50cl bottles, which are about to get labelled, if the Scottish weather permit ;-). Colour: bronze gold. Nose: it’s always difficult not to imagine mineral notes when nosing and tasting a spirit that was kept in earthenware, and indeed this baby starts with some clay and with some chalk, and at times you could think you’re nosing an old teapot, Yixing style. There’s also some old balms, camphor, a touch of turpentine, certainly some herbal teas (perhaps chamomile, maybe a little thyme…) and then rather more mint (dried leaves). Earthy and grassy? Not only that, there’s also a fruitiness, perhaps a blend of quince jelly and honeydew. What’s certain is that all that is singing in unison, it’s well ‘one’. A little plasticine coming through after a good ten minutes, but I don’t seem to find Glen Mhor’s trademark meatiness. Yet? Stunning nose, in any case.

Mouth: is this some secret potion? It’s big, it’s earthy, it’s very phenolic and smoky, and it’s very herbal as well. Think a blend of Jaegermeister, liquid clay, limoncello, pine tar, and indeed honeydew again. So the whole is pretty sappy, and yeah, extremely good. Impressively good. What’s more, I couldn’t think of any contemporary malt that would even marginally resemble this. Even late-period Glen Mhor. The resinous side makes it very fresh. The best toothpaste ever? Finish: very long, with a wonderful sappy bitterness. And I like the way the mineral side is coming back in the aftertaste. Earthy teas. Comments: a kind of marvellously resinous old malt. I‘ve often advocated the use of stoneware to mature spirits, as they do with artisan mezcal or other eaux-de-vie, and I believe this is further proof that it would be a brilliant idea. Sadly, years in anything but oak do not count… Sob… Anyway, a totally extraordinary old Glen Mhor! SGP:373 - 94 points.

No other ‘new’ Glen Mhor in WF’s library just now, so perhaps a Glenury?

Glenury Royal 13 yo 1966/1979 (80 proof, Cadenhead, sherry wood, black dumpy)

Glenury Royal 13 yo 1966/1979 (80 proof, Cadenhead, sherry wood, black dumpy) Five stars Glen Mhor got closed in 1983, whilst Glenury-Royal went on burning malted barley for two more years, until 1985. I remember I’ve tried some wonderfully fruity Glenuries in the past… Including this very one, but since I remember it was very ‘resinous’ as well, let’s try it once more (since that last time was in 2006, ten years ago). It’s also to be remembered that John Gillon’s Glenury was Clynelish’s sister distillery, in a way. Same management, I believe! Colour: straw. Nose: indeed, there are similarities. This Glenury is less mineral and earthy, for sure, but it does indeed show a herbal/medicinal profile, which would involve embrocations, eucalyptus, camphor, plasticine… It’s a beautiful nose again, and it’s even got sap as well, although that would rather be ‘normal’ sap, not pine or fir. Say hazelnut (whatever). Mouth: my this is fantastic! Sharper and brighter than the Mhor, but rather well within the same family of malts, with bitter oranges and cough drops, then some kind of cooked resin (for lack of a better description), as well as a mineral waxiness that, indeed, hints at Old Clynelish. Terrific old school malt, perhaps not always very easy, but it’s probably also a perfect example of bright OBE on an old young malt of excellent provenance. Finish: long, and almost purely on some dry cough syrup. More pepper and grapefruits in the aftertaste, which ‘lifts’ it. Comments: that was close. Just like the Glen Mhor, this is a testimony to the perfect skills of the old distillers that ‘did not have computers’. Amazing whiskies. SGP:363 - 93 points.
 
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December 21, 2016


Whiskyfun

Xmas

The Pre-Christmas Duos
Old old and new old Glen Grant

Both by Gordon & MacPhail, the greatest specialists of Glen Grant there is and ever was. Including Glen Grant themselves, some might add. We’ll start with an old 25 yo, and go on with a very recent 1949 that was probably distilled around the very same time.

Glen Grant 25 yo (70 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, early to mid 1970s)

Glen Grant 25 yo (70 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, early to mid 1970s) Four stars and a half Many are saying that Glen Grant used to bear an even higher reputation than Macallan thirty or forty years ago. When trying some of their older whiskies, one can guess why. Colour: pale gold. Nose: ah yes, those Glen Grants. You know, metal polish, green wood smoke, pink bananas, sandalwood, and all things from a hive. In a way, you could call this a phenolic old Cognac. Quite superb. Mouth: starts slightly gritty, with some chlorophyll and green tea, but it takes off quite magnificently, with some eucalyptus, bitter marzipan, mint, and wee bits of cinnamon cake. Forgot to mention freshly squeezed blood oranges. And eucalyptus honey, the Corsican bees make some great eucalyptus honey when they are not on strike (S.! They’ll never let you in again!) Finish: not the longest ever, but all this mentholy waxy/honeyed combo works very well. Only the aftertaste is a little disconcerting, perhaps too drying. Comments: many asperities despite a low strength that starts to show. Didn’t the mentholy side come from some peat that used to be used again instead of coal or fuel for malting, just after WWII? SGP:462 - 89 points.

Glen Grant 1949/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speyside Collection, 653 bottles)

Glen Grant 1949/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speyside Collection, 653 bottles) Five stars This 64 years old wonder still bears that original unassuming livery that just screams ‘no BS!’ (ach, excuse me). It gathers five sherry butts, all filled between January and November 1949. Colour: deep gold. Nose: the parentage is obvious, but this is both straighter and more complex, if that’s possible. In fact, it’s totally amazing, and integrally Yquemy (look I write what I want, this is my website). That means that you’ll find ripe apricots, bright golden raisins, juicy red peaches, and myriads of tiny phenolic, metallic, and herbal touches, with even grilled mushrooms (botrytis in malt whisky?) and certainly pine cones and needles. The freshness here is absolutely wonderful, and given that there were four first fill sherry butts and just one refill, that’s just a miracle. Mouth: I was ready to endure oak, tea, dry bitter chocolate, or even cardboard, while feeling that they wouldn’t have bottled that. Well, that is, indeed, not what they bottled, as once again, it’s the freshness and the brightness that are taking you by surprise. Of course it would have been even better at a slightly higher strength, but there, I don’t think I’ve ever found this many fresh fruits in a 64 years old spirit. In fact, the palate is exactly in line with the nose. Peaches, apricots, golden raisins, perhaps a touch of litchi, a drop of pine sap, a drop of pomegranate juice… All that on a bed of marzipan and plasticine-y wax. Truly very lovely. Finish: perhaps a wee bit short, but this mentholated fruitiness is just very, say racy. Some speculoos, cloves, and even aniseed in the aftertaste. Works well with Christmas. Comments: ah if only men were ageing this gracefully! You’re right, women do anyway. SGP:651 - 92 points.

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

 

 

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December 19, 2016


Whiskyfun

Xmas

The Pre-Christmas Duos
Young and old CI

Indeed I’m currently trying a new tactic called anti-search-engine-optimization, aiming at telling those tax evaders whose name starts with a G to just go to h***. Kind of… So, a young CI and an old one… Oh and only seasoned whisky enthusiasts are visiting these lousy pages anyway, so you all know what CI means, don’t you.

CI 2005/2016 (57.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, casks #301521, 301523, 301524, 301527)

CI 2005/2016 (57.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, casks #301521, 301523, 301524, 301527) Four stars and a half All first fill sherry butts, but that’s hard to fathom given the colour. Or perhaps fino casks only? Colour: straw. Nose: oooh yess! It’s unusual, but it works, and greatly so. A banana kept in the Sound of Islay for ten years, more medicinal scents than in the most medicinal L******g, some seawater-soaked fabric (old fisherman’s jacket?) and litres of tincture of iodine. Impeccably millimetric. Oh and a little engine grease, while we’re at it. With water: the lemons are coming out. An army of lemons, led by a grapefruit. Mouth (neat): extremely good. A crystalline peat, some very fresh apple juice (ex-cider apples), some kiwi, some fresh walnuts, and one very salty oyster. I just love this one. With water: a tad sweeter. Liqueur de pamplemousse (grapefruit liqueur). Finish: long, with CI’s (yes, stubborn) ritual ashes coming out. Comments: bordering perfection. SGP:457 - 89 points.

CI 36 yo 1980/2016 (around 57.4%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular)

CI 36 yo 1980/2016 (around 57.4%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular) Five stars I’m not sure this baby’s out yet, but I just cannot wait. Imagine, a CI that’s slowly approaching the 40-years-border… And indeed the picture doesn’t quite match, apologies. Oh and an ‘extra-old’ whisky that’s extra-old indeed, that’s good! Colour: gold. Nose: I’m starting to wonder if CI cannot remain eternally young, whichever its age. In this case what I’m getting is half a litre of cellulose varnish, a kilo of horse dung, two dozen oysters, and a bagful of walnuts. Plus some smoked salmon and some kippers. What’s more, the proportions are exactly right, mind you. With water: bandages, embrocations, walnut skins, and fresh paint. Mouth (neat): blade-y, almondy, medicinal, salty, lemony, and extremely kippery. So very fresh, I’m starting to wonder if CI isn’t like vin jaune, meaning that the ages don’t mean much. Eternal wines and spirits! With water: salty limoncello. Shouldn’t work, yet does. Finish: long, impeccably clean, almondy, smoky, lemony, greasy, kippery (copyright Dave Broom)… Comments: watch this one when it comes out. It’s not out at time of writing, but it may be at time of publishing. Very hard to beat, but at a much lower price, G&M’s 2005 was not bad either, was it. SGP:567 - 91 points.

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

 

 

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December 18, 2016


Whiskyfun

Xmas

The Pre-Christmas malternatives
Young Armagnac with some knack

No, not too proud of that headline either. Now remember, the grapes that are used to make the wine that’ll become Armagnac once distilled must come from the Armagnac region, whilst the grains in any whisky may come from planet Mars. Quite. But first, a petit apéritif…

Château Garreau Blanche d’Armagnac (40%, OB, blanche, +/-2015)

Château Garreau Blanche d’Armagnac (40%, OB, blanche, +/-2015) Some Armagnac that’s been aged for a short period of time in inert containers and that is becoming more popular amongst the youngsters these days. 100% baco. In a way, it’s white fine. It’s used in cocktails, and then the owners also claim that it goes well with caviar. Probably better than Smirnoff indeed… Colour: white. Nose: smells of plums eau-de-vie rather than anything else if you ask me, with perhaps a little mint and grape stalks. Not totally unpleasant but just like vodka, it seems to really need ice. Or yeah, your fridge. You’re right, your freezer. Mouth: a little better, between sake and plum eau-de-vie again, with touches of lime and yuzu. Some fermentary notes and a grassiness that’s typical of unaged almost un-rectified spirits. Finish: short, a little ‘burnt’. Comments: certainly very all right, but I wouldn’t sip this at room temperature. SGP:440 - 60 points.

Darroze 8 yo ‘Les Grands Assemblages’ (43%, OB, Bas-armagnac, +/-2015)

Darroze 8 yo ‘Les Grands Assemblages’ (43%, OB, Bas-armagnac, +/-2015) Three stars and a half I believe this is the youngest within Darroze’s popular series of blends. I thought the 12 was very good (WF 82). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s fresh, as expected, and rather on ripe pears at first nosing. Then come melon skins, quinces, and a pleasant earthy spiciness, around caraway, perhaps. Mouth: very good. It’s got a little roughness, which is a asset here, certainly quite some liquorice, some mint, then the expected raisins and just wee touches of lavender sweets. Keeps going on with rather oranges (zests and marmalade). I don’t seem to find anything bad to say here. Finish: medium yet full, clean, and very Armagnacqy. Perhaps more prunes now, that are usually to be found in older Armagnacs. The liquorice is back in the aftertaste. Comments: very high quality young Armagnac from a well-reputed house. SGP:551 - 84 points.

Château de Bordeneuve *** (41%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2016)

Château de Bordeneuve *** (41%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2016) Two stars Some very young single estate Armagnac, around 3 years of age. It’s 80% ugni blanc and 20% baco. With Armagnac or Cognac, the three-star items are exactly the opposite of those in the Michelin guide, they are the cheapest ;-). Colour: gold. Nose: well it’s still got the roughness of youth, and while it’s more mature than the blanche, I’m not sure it’s perfect as a sipper. Whiffs of lees, apple peelings… Mouth: good but a little unpolished indeed. A gritty grapiness, some green pears, and touches of sugar – yet I’m sure they haven’t added any sugar. Peaches, perhaps. Finish: medium, with more green liquorice. The usual raisins in the aftertaste. Comments: a little too young for me, but otherwise, the spirit is very fine for sure. Ten times better than most three-star Armagnacs found in French supermarkets. SGP:341 - 75 points.

Château de Bordeneuve ‘VSOP’ (41%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2016)

Château de Bordeneuve ‘VSOP’ (41%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2016) Three stars and a half This one’s around five years old. Colour: gold. Nose: quite in the style of the Darroze 8, that is to say fresh and fruity, yet already quite deep and relatively complex. Pears, liquorice, raisins, and oranges, plus a handful of small dried figs. Mouth: indeed, this is surprisingly good. In fact the palate is all in keeping with the nose, with green pears covered with raisin juice (I’m thinking of white muscat), plus a liquorice-orange duo that sings extremely well. I find the whole flawless, and even the low strength really works, without any of the blips that may be found in low-strength malt whiskies. Finish: medium, but quite wonderfully fresh and fruity. Perfect raisins and liquorice again in the aftertaste. Comments: we’re close to the Darroze 8 in my book. SGP:541 - 83 points.

Domaine de Charron 2004 (51%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2016)

Domaine de Charron 2004 (51%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2016) Four stars This is 100% baco from a small domaine that I like pretty much. Colour: amber. Nose: perfect coffee, rum, and toasted oak. It’s rather ‘modern’ Armagnac, and it’s even got notes of young bourbon, but I find the balance just perfect, especially since the distillate’s much richer and more expressive than any ex-column grain spirit. Butterscotch, dry black liquorice, touches of earth… Perfect. With water: a few pencil shavings, but also some moss and mushrooms. Lovely. Mouth (neat): once again we’re wandering in whisky/rum territories, with some toasted bread, some coffee and chocolate, and some warm vanilla sauce; and once again the spirit behind is perfect, with raisins, raspberries… With water: the fruits are coming to the front. Blood oranges and blackberries. Finish: rather long, balanced, without too much cinnamon (given the oakiness). Comments: the exact definition of what I would call ‘a perfect malternatives’. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Perhaps a last one?... Let’s make it another 2004…

Domaine Lous Pibous 2004/2016 (56.5%, L'Encantada, Bas-Armagnac)

Domaine Lous Pibous 2004/2016 (56.5%, L'Encantada, Bas-Armagnac) Four stars and a half L’Encantada are independent bottlers in Armagnac, meaning that they seek and find hidden casks from small domaines, sometimes in estates that have stopped ‘burning’ quite a long time ago. And that story is genuine, it’s not pure codswallop as can be seen elsewhere. Colour: amber. Nose: bang! It’s a kind of Highland Armagnac, if you see what I mean. Powerful and relatively fat and ‘congeneric’, with superb notes of ripe fruits, jams, and liqueurs, as well as many flowers, such as honeysuckle, elderberry flowers, and lime. Right up my alley. With water: yes, chalk and earth! And drops of beef soup! Mouth (neat): perhaps a tad brutal at first, but it unfolds on a rather superb combination of old Calvados with cigars, cedar wood, and liquorice. Plainly and totally malternative, although one might rather think that malt whisky is an Armagnalternative (I know, OMG), which it actually was one hundred years ago. With water: very supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Yes I’m well read. Right, that’s from one of Benny Hill’s old shows. Finish: long, rather grapier, and appropriately rough. After all, it’s Armagnac. Comments: one of the very best young Armagnacs out there, if you ask me. SGP:651 - 88 points.

If I'm not mistaken, next Sunday is Christmas, we’ll try to find old Cognacs! I mean, very old Cognacs…

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

 

 

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December 16, 2016


Whiskyfun

Xmas

The Pre-Christmas Duos
Old and new Ord by Cadenhead

Ord is always anything but ord-inary (loud applause, S.) but I think it’s not known enough. Perhaps does that come from the fact that the owners have recently buried it under the ‘Singleton’ (common) denominator? What’s certain is that many older bottlings, both official (ah the old 5, or the 28/30 from fifteen years ago) and independent (ah some Samarolis), have been up there with the very best of Caledonia! But today, Cadenhead is on. Yep, again. And we’ll have the older one first, since the strength is much lower.

Ord 1964 (46%, Cadenhead for Caves Fauchon, 75cl, mid 1980s?)

Ord 1964 (46%, Cadenhead for Caves Fauchon, 75cl, mid 1980s?) A very rare bottling for French grocery store Fauchon which was, and perhaps still is although I’m not too sure, the French Fortnum & Mason. The main shop still is at Place de la Madeleine in Paris but it’s become too touristy. Yeah, like Fortnum & Mason. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s rather a graceful one, perhaps less big and emphatic than other old Ords, but it does have this resinous and waxy feel that was so impressive in the square bottle of the official 30. You’re nosing a blend of propolis extract with some honeydew and fennel and dill. Perhaps a little unusual, but so lovely… Mouth: indeed, it’s one of the most ‘pinesappy’ whiskies I could try in recent times. It’s also got some meatiness, between dried beef and ham (bresaola?) and then a coal/charcoal character. Some honeydew keeps singing in the background. Finish: medium, getting drier, as often. Ashy teas and more propolis. And honeydew. Bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: rather drier than expected, and so maybe a little less ‘directly wow’, but yeah, it is superb old whisky from the times of the Beatles (and?) SGP:471 - 89 points.

And now the new one…

Ord 20 yo 1996/2016 (54.3%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, 252 bottles)

Ord 20 yo 1996/2016 (54.3%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, 252 bottles) This strange baby was transferred to a “Château Lafitte” cask in 2009, so this is rather double maturation than a finishing. Now, my friends, there are indeed some châteaux “Lafitte” out there, but those aren’t quite the thing. The premier cru from Pauillac, if that’s the one you’ve been using, is named “Lafite”, with only one t (and note to other distinguished whisky bottlers, only one f). De nada, you just owe me a wee dram. Colour: apricot. Nose: maybe that’s because of the eight years, but I do not feel all the flaws that usually come with quick finishings in red Bordeaux casks. No dominating French oak (châteaux such as Lafite only use their barriques once, they never refill), no dominating green pepper or capsicum from the rich cabernets, and no boisterous red berries either. Phew! In fact, this is rather a very nice, pretty typical Ord, with a perfect honeyed maltiness and a lovely sappy-waxy honey. With water: old cellar, saltpetre, rubbed leaves… Mouth (neat): well, it is unusual now. Capsicum indeed, red berries indeed, and plenty of mushrooms at that. Raspberry jam, caraway, marmalade, greenish tannins… Not too sure, not too sure… With water: some mutant whisky! We’re between Scotland and Bordeaux, so somewhere in the midst of the Atlantic ;-). Finish: quite long. Red fruits and herbs. Blood oranges. Comments: at the risk of repeating myself, this is not quite my favourite kind, but it sure is fun and… well, fun. And fun. SGP:661 - 79 points.

(and gracias, Angus)

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December 2016 - part 1 <--- December 2016 - part 2 ---> January 2017 - part 1


 

 

Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Caol Ila 36 yo 1980/2016 (around 57.4%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular)

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2016 (49.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 169 bottles)

Clynelish 20 yo 1965/1985 (46%, Cadenhead, black dumpy)

Glen Grant 1949/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speyside Collection, 653 bottles)

Glen Mhor 1937/1959 (18UP, Angus, Phil & Simon, ex-stone flagon, 39 bottles)

Glenury Royal 13 yo 1966/1979 (80 proof, Cadenhead, sherry wood, black dumpy)

Laphroaig ‘Old Liqueur Scotch Whisky’ (80° proof, OB, late 1940s-early 1950s)

Laphroaig 14 yo (91.4 US proof, OB, Carlton Import, rotation 1953)

Laphroaig 1978/1995 (55.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #29.7)

Laphroaig 1975/1993 (50.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #29.3)

Springbank 14 yo 2002/2016 (47.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo (54.1%, The Whisky Show, bourbon)

Distillerie Charpentier 30 yo (52.8%, Cadenhead, Petite Champagne, 270 bottles, 2016)

Fine Champagne 50 yo (70% proof, Hedges & Butler, 1950s)

Réserve de l’Ange 50 ans (no ABV, Rouyer Guillet & Co, +/-1950)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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