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Hi, you're in the Archives, December 2020 - Part 1

       

November 2020 - part 2 <--- December 2020 - part 1 ---> December 2020 - part 2

 

 

December 14, 2020


Whiskyfun

Probably quite a few
relatively good Benrinnes

Indeed, having a go at relativist headlines. What’s sure is that Benrinnes’ notoriety’s is rising these days, thanks to the indies (as almost always). It’s to be noted that Benrinnes very relative fame also came from the fact that it used to being 2.5-distilled for around twenty years, somewhat like Springbank. Let’s a have a relative batch, nose in the wind… (drop that now, S.)

Benrinnes 10 yo (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, 1049 bottles, 2019)

Benrinnes 10 yo (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch, 1049 bottles, 2019) Four stars
A vatting of first-fill bourbon barrels and refill hogsheads, probably all distilled after 2007, which was the year when the Distillery switch back to traditional double-distillation. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s a very chalky one, you’re almost nosing damp plaster and washing powder, plus grass, fresh walnuts and lanoline. What I absolutely adore, while that would only come out after a good three minutes, is this rhubarbiness. I mean, these terrific notes of tart rhubarb peelings. Mouth: rounder, better polished, easier, on some rhubarb pie (as if by chance) and lemon tarte, meringue, naturally. Rhubarb takes meringue very well too. Lovely dram. Finish: long, with a lovely bitterness (green tea) and always these rhubarby notes, with custard this time. Comments: they must have a very skilled cask engineer, a Werner Von Braun of wood technology. That was just a 10 yo Benrinnes, and yet…
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Let’s see how they manage, ach, PX…

Benrinnes 11 yo 2009/2020 (56.1%, James Eadie, PX Cask Finish, cask #354550, 338 bottles)

Benrinnes 11 yo 2009/2020 (56.1%, James Eadie, PX Cask Finish, cask #354550, 338 bottles) Four stars
7 months in first fill European Oak PX Sherry Hogshead. We’re ready… Colour: mahogany. Nose: coffee, gunpowder, walnut wine, very old malmsey, miso, balsamico, moss, pipe tobacco (I’ll always remember Borkum Riff), hoisin and Bull Dog sauces, prunes, old arrack… With water: old-oak shavings and heavy mole. Love chocolate in cooking. Mouth (neat): sure it does have a dry liqueury/cordialy side (dry Jäger – should that exist - and Fernet Branca) but they sure execute these recipes to perfection. More walnut wine, fermentary sauces, chocolates and coffees, citrus, all that with a quasi-bacterial side that’s absolutely perfect. Truly third-dimensional while remaining relatively ‘simple’. With water: raw chocolate and a little menthol Artisanal thin mints, without all the sugar. Finish: long, bone-dry and extremely oloroso-y. But they said PX?! Comments: we shan’t complain. PX, really? I think they are really good at this game…
SGP:361 - 87 points.

Just to make sure, and since we had mentioned malmsey…

Benrinnes 13 yo 2005/2019 (56.1%, James Eadie, first fill Bual Madeira hogshead finish, cask #307046, 311 bottles)

Benrinnes 13 yo 2005/2019 (56.1%, James Eadie, first fill Bual Madeira hogshead finish, cask #307046, 311 bottles) Four stars
No relativity here, this was finished for ‘11 months in first fill European Oak Bual Madeira Hogshead’. Okay. By the way bual is a grape varietal, while ‘Madeira from Bual is typically less sweet than that from Malmsey, but more sweet than Sercial or Verdelho’. Thank you dear Jancis Robinson. Colour: gold. Nose: back to dry rocks, pebbles, gravel and grasses. Leaves and mustard. I think it’s asking for water… With water: ah there, walnuts, cracked pepper and bitter chocolate, with an earthier background. Mouth (neat): bitter caramel then pepper and horseradish in abundance, well I suppose this wasn’t meant to be enjoyed ‘naked’. You could use this with sushi when you haven’t got any wasabi at home. Quite. With water: raw liquid chocolate without the tiniest bit of sweetness. Imagine verdejo/verdelho instead of bual, that would wreck your vertebras one after the other while it’s going down your spine. Joking, I like this style very much. Finish: long and superbly dry. Some parsley. A little sweetness in the end of the aftertaste. Comments: I think I liked the PX a little better (yes, Serge at the Mac) but this is excellent too. So who’s Mr. Casks?
SGP:361 - 86 points.

Since we’re doing funny wine casks…

Benrinnes 2006/2019 (50%, Scyfion Choice, Pomegranate Armenian wine cask finished, 158 bottles)

Benrinnes 2006/2019 (50%, Scyfion Choice, Pomegranate Armenian wine cask finished, 158 bottles) Three stars and a half
Excuse me? Our dear friends in Ukraine are not thinking out of the box, they are thinking ten kilometres away from the box. Pomegranate wine? Why not after all, oh and cheers, Armenia! Colour: salmony. Nose: a kind of earthy maltiness, with indeed notes of wine – as in grape wine – and probably notes of freshly squeezed oranges. I’m not sure I’m getting the pomegranates, but I’m not an expert (note to self, try to find pomegranate wine). With water: I seem to be finding pomegranates, blood oranges, some cigarette tobacco and probably a little hops and Himalaya pepper. Mouth (neat): I find this very good, dry, earthy, a little rustic, with herbal and rubbery notes that are absolutely not unpleasant, even if this baby does display quite some pepper and seems to be willing to gently bite your tongue as soon as the opportunity arises. With water: barley, beer, malt, hops, tobacco and leaves coming out. Bitter grapefruits and pink pepper in the background, perhaps a little grenadine. That’s the pomegranate, no? Finish: sameish. Good length. Comments: extremely and sympathetically fun, yet much less deviant than expected. I like this one.
SGP:451 - 84 points.

 

 

 

Benrinnes 15 yo 2005/2020 (55.9%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, sherry butt finish, cask #3, 687 bottles)

Benrinnes 15 yo 2005/2020 (55.9%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, sherry butt finish, cask #3, 687 bottles)
Is full maturation in sherry wood a dying breed these days? Colour: gold. Nose: rather firmer, tenser than expected, with a rather leafy sherryness and really a big dry maltiness. Some mustard and some tobacco, also oak shavings suggesting that the finishing vessel was pretty active. With water: it was fresh oak indeed, as water pulls out quite a lot of varnish and glue, also nutmeg and ginger. Fresh cut plywood. Mouth (neat): rather huge, very earthy, spicy and malty. Ale and coconut wine, hops, thick trappiste… With water: fun stuff, with this feeling of ‘lab work’ that’s much less embarrassing than you would think. More new wood (coconut) over some mature malt whisky. Finish: rather long, malty spicy and oaky. We’re still talking fresh oak. Coconut cookie. Comments: a very interesting dram that gathers both maturity from the distillate and something clearly ‘young’ from the oak treatment. Not a style that’s very common, you would usually rather find either excessive vanilla or excessive sherry. It’s intriguing…
SGP:451 - 84 points.

 

 

 

Let’s try to find a proper ‘traditional’ cask set-up…

Benrinnes 24 yo 1995/2019 (49.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 218 bottles)

Benrinnes 24 yo 1995/2019 (49.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 218 bottles) Four stars
After all those kitchen works, this should as ‘al natural’ as possible. Welcome, Benrinnes! Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, good panettone, cassata, kougelhopf, brioche and scones. Lovely dried and crystallised fruits, a touch of custard with a little mint and aniseed… All that works very well. Mouth: a style that’s often to be met with whiskies that have lost a little power along the years, sometimes in casks that weren’t too tight. Eucalyptus, mint, liquorice, various herbs, verbena liqueur, pine liqueur, resins… Unusual yet not unseen, and in this case, pretty good. Finish: more cassata, brie au kirsch, frozen kougelhopf (with rum and raisins)… Comments: I doubt this would be replaceable, it’s the work of luck – or bad luck, depending on how you see it. I’m always in the positive camp.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Perhaps a much younger one…

Benrinnes 12 yo 2008/2020 (55.7%, Single Cask Collection, rum cask finish, cask #303890, 253 bottles)

Benrinnes 12 yo 2008/2020 (55.7%, Single Cask Collection, rum cask finish, cask #303890, 253 bottles) Four stars
Oh, double-distillation and rum this time. Nothing against that, naturally, but we’re still looking for a proper natural and regular Benrinnes. Anyway, let’s proceed… Colour: white wine. Nose: a rather tight style, on oils (sunflower, grape pips) and vanilla, with no obvious rum that I can find. Not obligatorily a bad thing. Perhaps these touches of bananas?... With water: nice leafiness, herbs and teas… Still no obvious rum. No complains. Mouth (neat): yes, very good, with a medicinal side and even some peat, as if this was rather an ex-Laphroaig cask (those dopey unaged heavily recharred oddities). Good. With water: really good. Was that rum from the Kildalton shore of Islay? Finish: good length, with indeed more bananas, perhaps, and less ‘peat’. A little liquorice and Timut pepper. Comments: much younger than the Cadenhead but super good too.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Why does everyone feel the need to ‘finish’ Benrinnes? Are they this bad?

Benrinnes 23 yo 1997/2020 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, UK version, 1st fill bourbon barrels, 236 bottles)

Benrinnes 23 yo 1997/2020 (48.5%, WhiskySponge, UK version, 1st fill bourbon barrels, 236 bottles) Four stars and a half
From two first fill barrels. I suppose the joke on the label is related to that condenser? Don’t tell me the inenarrable Sponge would do a bottling without any joke! Colour: straw. Nose: oily ala Springbank and waxy ala Clynelish, only a little softer than both makes. It’s the first ‘clean’ one we’re finding today. Hurray and bravo. Mouth: it is clearly (even) better than the others, and indeed rather on citrusy waxes, fruity hops, blood oranges and honeysuckle. Perhaps even hibiscus syrup (tiny drops). Good fun to be had with this lively one. Finish: medium, fruity and flowery. Flowers as syrups and waters. Comments: danger, this is too quaffable. In France we would already have created a special committee that would decide if spirits were too drinkable, hence subject to higher taxes. High-class Benrinnes.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Benrinnes 23 yo 1997/2020 (55%, WhiskySponge, #teamasia, Taiwan version) Four stars and a half
A little bird told me that this was the same vatting, only bottled at a higher strength for people outside the UK, such as our Taiwanese friends (so people who aren’t sissies and who can take a proper strength apparently - hey cancel that, we’re still friends, it was only a very stupid joke, pleaeeaease!) Colour: straw. Nose: it’s pretty fascinating to realise that a higher strength would rather strengthen the oiliness on the nose, the fatness, also the ‘spiritiness’, and indeed make it a little less fruity. But that water is whisky’s best friend is not a secret, is it? Down to a certain point, I agree… With water: proof that Alsatian water is rather different from Scottish ones, as at more or less the same strength, we do not come up with the same whisky at all. This is less well-chiselled, a tad more on ’stupid’ overripe fruits, perhaps more on beer and grist. Nothing wrong with that at all, but I like the officially-reduced one (nothing to do with BoJo) rather better. Mouth (neat): this is different, it’s firing on more cylinders, with more citrus and waxes, but it is rougher too, more rustic, leafier for sure… Hmm… With water: we’re doing better and came up with a very similar drop this time. Having said that, it is dead obvious that the water you’re using to reduce your spirits is of paramount importance, while we aren’t even talking about the flawed ones here (chlorinated, bottled water too soft, bottled water too hard, Coca-Cola, etcetera. Not Coca-Cola.) Finish: good, similar, a tad harsher. Comments: I liked the reduced one a notch better. I know that’s not PC at all, but I think that does confirm some earlier findings. Remember, water is extremely important.
SGP:561 - 88 points.

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

 

December 13, 2020


Whiskyfun

Malternative Sundays,
even more rums today

We’ll try to take it easy today (but we usually fail at that)… And at total random…

Eenie meenie minie moe.…

Zu Plun (50%, OB, Italy, +/-2019)

Zu Plun (50%, OB, Italy, +/-2019) Four stars
That’s right, rum from the Italian Dolomites, so Southern Tyrol, made from imported molasses and cane juice. Let’s put La Traviata on the stereo and proceed… Colour: white wine. Nose: lol, this ain’t rum on the nose, unless that would be cachaça kept in casks made out of one of those very resinous wild trees they use in Brazil. Sorry, the names escape me. Pine buds, fennel seeds, more pine buds, more fennel seeds, perhaps dill as well, sauna oils, softwood, limoncello (but naturally)… Mouth: it’s a very good drop, some kind of unsweetened limoncello indeed, with similar flavours, lime, dill, aniseed, fir buds… That’s all extremely pleasant, it’s just not rum at all. Finish: rather long, with more lemon, mint, and this thing some Alsatian friends sometimes make, celeriac eau-de-vie. An acquired taste, shall we say. Comments: wonderful aged eau-de-vie, just not rum. But I love it. But it’s not rum (adlib).
SGP:472 - 85 points.

Eenie meenie minie moe.…

Epris 17 yo 1999/2016 (46.9%, The Rum Cask, Cuba)

Epris 17 yo 1999/2016 (46.9%, The Rum Cask, Brazil) Four stars
You’ll be happy to learn that in French, ‘épris’ sort of means ‘infatuated’. It’s true that we’ve tried some excellent Epris in the past, but I haven’t seen any recent ones – maybe because of Trump? (enough!) Colour: light gold. Nose: light, slightly buttery, with notes of croissants and crushed bananas, then light herbs, oyster plant, perhaps asparagus, parsnips, damp sand on a beach, and rose petals… It’s all truly light, but certainly elegant and subtle. After a few minutes, some fennel, which I often found in Epris. Mouth: this sure couldn’t compete with Hampden, but there is some quality to this light, grassy and fresh make. Cactus, caviar lemon, wee herbs, angelica… Very good light rum. Finish: not too long but this mentholy grassiness works just well. Comments: Spanish-style ron al natural, without all the ugly make-up that they usually have to endure. Now it is a little un-commercial, as a consequence…
SGP:361 - 85 points.

Rummage rummage…

Clément ‘125th Anniversary Edition’ (40%, OB, Martinique, 2012)

Clément ‘125th Anniversary Edition’ (40%, OB, Martinique, 2012) Two stars
A bottle designed by a certain JonOne, a ‘street artist’. What I find troubling is that they would have bottled an anniversary bottling at 40% vol. That’s a little cheapo, no? Colour: gold. Nose: the Cuban was bigger. Bread, pastries, popcorn, green bananas… Feels a little sluggish and uninspired. Mouth: not too bad, with nice honeyed and cane-y notes, as well as sultanas and mead, but the low strength handicaps it. This is frustrating, because the juice clearly had potential. There’s a lovely grassy earthiness, for example. Finish: shortish. Nice touches of lime. Comments: such lower strengths only work with either much older spirits, or high-presence juices. Or stuff for mixing. IMHO.
SGP:451 - 76 points.

Eenie meenie minie moe.… Oh!

Neisson 15 yo 2004/2020 ‘Batch 3’ (48.7%, OB, Martinique, bourbon)

Neisson 15 yo 2004/2020 ‘Batch 3’ (48.7%, OB, Martinique, bourbon) Five stars
Do I need to tell about what I think of Neisson (except for a handful of young oak-doped cuvées)? I had loved the 15 batch 2 (WF 92) so hopes are high…  Colour: amber. Nose: I really believe Neisson gather the best of both major rum worlds, the subtler French agricole side, and the more massive molassy Demerara-Jamaica-Trinidad side. I love both and this is a perfect synthesis. Truffles, tar, ylang-ylang, orange blossom, dried bananas, liquorice, wormwood, tobacco, olives, seashells, pineapples, anchovies, ink, earth… You see? Mouth: very oaky, even extremely oaky, and yet it’s all a bed of roses, never drying even if there is a lot of black tea. Rosehip, lotus, black tobacco, jasmine tea, menthol and liquorice, pomegranates, oil and tar, camphor… It’s extremely rich, and yet never heavy or cloying. That’s complexity. Finish: long and incredibly ‘wide’. We sometimes say that these makes are ‘doing the peacock’s tail’, but I’m not sure this little juice will catch any females (wha-a-at?). Comments: I’m finding it a little less fruity than earlier batches, but quality remains extremely high. I deeply hope Covid won’t cause them any troubles, and that we’ll be allowed to fly to Martinique and Guadeloupe for leisure very soon. Cheers Neisson.
SGP:551 - 91 points.

Eenie meenie minie moe.…

Appleton Estate 21 yo 1999/2020 (63%, OB, Hearts Collection, Jamaica, 300 bottles)

Appleton Estate 21 yo 1999/2020 (63%, OB, Hearts Collection, Jamaica, 300 bottles) Four stars
More math here, as this has ‘855 g congeners /100 LAA’ (that’s per hectolitre pure alcohol a.k.a. hlpa) and stems from casks #407819 through #407830. Look we’ve been asking for more details for a least twenty years, so we shouldn’t complain and we shall not. By the way, we loved the 1994 in the same series, that was on November 29, 2020 (WF 91). Colour: dark red amber. Nose: as soon as they’re a little old, this babies that matured in the tropics tend to become over-woody, but on the other hand, when the distillates are big and  characterful, some kind of balance can be kept and lovers of all things spices and earths will keep cheering. Fern, mosses, varnish, pine needles, chocolate, tobacco, touch of benzine… With water: herbal side up, the rest down. No huge changes, to be honest. Mouth (neat): some sour and mentholy wood for sure, some lavender too, tons of liquorice… This is highly concentrated and bigly extractive, I think water is needed and that no one should even contemplate drinking this neat, unless you’re a cursed poet who’s tired of living. With water: remains very extractive, resinous, pine-y, extremely mentholy… I’m thinking of snuff. Finish: long, resinous, tannic, unsweet. Comments: this one was tougher than the fab 1994. Brilliant rum of course, but it is challenging. We’ll soon try the last one, we’ll see…
SGP:372 - 87 points.

PS: that was a rare all-pot still Appleton, it seems that we should expect some 100% pot still Foursquare too in the near future. Quite possibly the Obadele Thompson of rum!

Let’s take all the risks and try to find an easier au revoir… (for today)…

Jamaica 36 yo 1984/2020 (62.3%, Silver Seal, Clarendon area, cask #434043, 205 bottles)

Jamaica 36 yo 1984/2020 (62.3%, Silver Seal, Clarendon area, cask #434043, 205 bottles) Four stars
Some thirty-six years old rum at 62.3% vol., that should hint at tropical aging.  What’s sure is that these very old rums are extremely rare, and probably quite miraculous. Let’s try this one with the reverence and humility it deserves, while wondering if it is Monymusk or not (given that Velier had had more than one sister cask labelled as Monymusk in the past – are we good sleuths or not?) Colour: coffee. Nose: oh. We’re entering a torrefaction room that’s just been repainted. So coffee beans being roasted and fresh paint, plus white vinegar and capers. That’s more or less it at +/-62% vol. With water: new plastics and fresh paints, carbolineum, polystyrene, paint thinner... I do not know why, but this reminds of my first trip to China, in 1987 (but why am I telling you this?) Chinese grocery store, circa, well, 1987. Mouth (neat): huge and dithyrambic, and extremely acetic and vinegary. Concentrated walnut stain. You cannot just quaff it like that or you’ll burn your whole digestive system. With water: it remains totally huge, even at more or less 45% vol. Brutal stuff, most certainly not meant to be quaffed like this and probably designed as top dressing, but I’m speculating. What’s sure is that this is an old fighter, rather a Stallone of rum. Yeah, Steven Segal, if you like. Varnish, burnt beans, 100%, chocolate, raw liquorice extracts… Finish: long but extremely drying. Huge tannicity, we’re entering the danger zone… Comments: how do you score this extreme kind? We’ll say 85% as it is a kind of pivotal point between the pretty good and the rather great. Capeesh?
SGP:272 - 85 points.

Adios and ¡hasta mañana!

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

 

December 11, 2020


Whiskyfun

Three Penderyn of Wales

Of course our Welsh friends still do a few unlikely wine finishes (wineskies) but there ought to be some proper, shiny, glorious all-natural malt whisky of theirs that would stun the malty world and conquer the Olympus of whisky. In the meantime…

Penderyn ‘Moscatel Wine Finish’ (60.5%, OB, UK, 2020)

Penderyn ‘Moscatel Wine Finish’ (60.5%, OB, UK, 2020) Two stars and a half
Let’s keep an open mind, will you? I even know a good friend of mine who likes to have his sardines with strawberry jam. Serious! (not really)… Colour: light gold. Nose: hey wait, fresh parsley and watercress? I’ll buy that by the palette! The rest is a tad more uncertain, but at 60%+, anything is. With water: roasted muscat grapes, kougelhopf, rosehip, bananas flambéed, new leatherette, marc de gewurztraminer… I believe there are other ways of coming up with a similar spirit (like, distil grapes), but alternate ways are always philosophically interesting. Mouth (neat): I think this is funny, and that it rather works. It’s impossible to put it into a box, not even sure it tastes of whisky, but I know they make some rose liqueur in Malta that’s pretty successful and that’s not too far from this. Prickly pear liqueur springs to mind too. Other than that, it’s a strong juice… With water: not whisky, but fun stuff! I’ve distilled pinot gris one day and came up with something demonstrably similar. Finish: medium, grape-y, raisiny. Comments: in my book this is not whisky, so I couldn’t quite ‘judge’ this juice, but it’s got its charms. Moscatel, all right -  no this is not a charity score.
SGP:651 - 78 points.

Let’s drop wine!...

Penderyn 10 yo 2010/2020 (60.8%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, second fill bourbon (YEAH), cask #30, 212 bottles)

Penderyn 10 yo 2010/2020 (60.8%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, second fill bourbon (YEAH), cask #30, 212 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: porridge, grist, mashed turnips, ink, grapefruit skin and brake fluid, and a lot of ethanol. This had to be expected. With water: some raw herbal bread and brioche, focaccia, then shifts towards fruits, crushed bananas, butter pears, preserved peaches… It would keep Penderyn’s mashy profile, but the breads are rather for chic areas this time. Mouth (neat): really very hot, but I seem to spot some tangerine drops and notes of khakis. And bitter herbs and pine needles, but you cannot really tell as long as water hasn’t been added to this rather brutal baby. With water: fresh and fruity, with a peppery and gristy background. Rather plums, greengages, green pears, a few bonbons, perhaps ripe kiwis, some grassy holly eau-de-vie (not holy)… The core remains pretty mashy. Finish: medium, with notes of mashed sweet potatoes, turnips, leaves and more green pears. Comments: it remains a little rough but I believe it’s one of my favourite Penderyns this far.
SGP:561 - 83 points.

Perhaps a gentler one, so that we’re having a trio?

Penderyn 6 yo ‘Batch 1’ (50%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 2020)

Penderyn 6 yo ‘Batch 1’ (50%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 2020) Three stars
Crikey, they even have this at Dramazon. Colour: straw. Nose: unusual, although the pine needles and the buttery mashed potatoes are well there. Oh and Muskatnuss, Herr Müller! Some cracked pepper too, lemon rind, perhaps those khakis again… With water: fern and pine needles, cardamom, resins, and perhaps a little curry, which should come from the wood. What was it BTW?  Mouth (neat): hey this is good! Lovely squeezed oranges, cinchona, ginger, orange blossom honey… The oak may get a tad too peppery after a few seconds, but that’s nothing. With water: curry indeed, oranges, more cardamom, almond paste; and the usual mashy notes. Mashed parsnips, perhaps, eggplant… Finish: medium, on ginger cookies and green pepper. White pepper, cinnamon, oak in the aftertaste. Comments: another probably un-Dorito-ed one that I find really good.
SGP:561 - 82 points.

Ciao (with thanks to Nicolas)

 

December 10, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Dailuaine & Craigellachie
Two names that seem to get a little more attention these days and appear to inhabit this bracket of malt that could be classed as ‘moderately characterful’. That is to say, both Dailuaine and Craigellachie are reasonably robust makes which often display something more than just your common ‘Glen Speyside’ profile. Now, I wouldn’t say they are consistently luminous, but we are undeniably some distance from Strathmill or Glen Spey for example. With apologies to the Strathmill and Glen Spey societies of social media.

 

Dailuaine 20 yo ‘Batch 4’ (50.4%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 442 bottles)

Dailuaine 20 yo ‘Batch 4’ (50.4%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 442 bottles)
An undeniably disturbing label, which you will need precisely 50cl of Dailuaine to recover from. No doubt it’s all part of the marketing strategy… Colour: pale gold. Nose: quite full, rich and bready with nice notes of rye spice, toasted oatmeal, runny honey and pollens. There’s a firmness to the malt and cereal aspects that implies texture and heft. With water: sunflower oil, hand cream, canvass, hessian, flapjack, ink, butter beans… a funny but still rather fulsome mix of organic and bready qualities. Mouth: very good, all on herbs, verbena, wormwood, green Chartreuse, olive oil and camphor. Feels quite big, fat and oily but different from say Clynelish or Ben Nevis which might sit along similar lines of weightiness. Some orange peel and chamomile tea. With water: still pretty oily, full bodied, white pepper, leathery and olive oil notes, hessian again, lamp oil and more of these green herbal and liqueurish qualities. Finish: medium and again pretty herbal, cooking oils, brown bread, sourdough, a little wax, wood resin and shoe polish. Comments: Very good I think. A tad unusual here and there, and indeed some parts are actually rather old school - this herbal quality is something that nods towards yesteryear distillate styles - but globally it’s entertaining and very satisfying malt whisky that stands out from the Speyside crowd.
SGP: 662 - 87 points.

 

 

Dailuaine 27 yo 1962/1989 (50.8%, Cadenhead Dumpy)

Dailuaine 27 yo 1962/1989 (50.8%, Cadenhead Dumpy)
From that brief window in 1989/1990 when they upgraded the Dumpy series from 46% to cask strength, before abruptly discontinuing it and switching to the Authentic Collection. A few gems managed to sneak out during this brief setup I believe. Colour: straw. Nose: what’s cool is this herbaceous quality that feels like the most direct and obvious link between this and the Boutique-y. Only here it’s more stripped back, natural and purely on distillate characteristics. There’s added layers of waxes, chalk, crushed aspirin and other rather sharp medical inclusions such as bandages and hints of antiseptic. Herbal mouthwash, lemon zest, mineral oils and curious things like ironing water, carbon paper and vase water. In some ways a bit enigmatic but also very cool. With water: haha, now it really becomes a true Cadenhead Dumpy with these notes of soot, metal polish, bouillon stock, carbon paper, steel wool, waxes, anthracite and putty. Mouth: big, dry, assertive and quite powerfully medicinal. Lots of taut waxiness, sharp minerals, olive oil infused with lemon peel, cut grass and menthol cigarettes. Also a very pure, narrow and fresh, green herbal quality that you just don’t get to the same degree of clarity in modern whisky. With water: sheep wool oils, mutton stock, bone marrow, a more greasy medicinal profile, herbal teas, camphor, putty, herbal toothpaste, ointments, oily toolbox rags and natural tar. Finish: good length, peppery, still powerfully herbal, medicinal, mineral oils, camphor, vapour rubs. strong olive oil and hessian. Comments: A powerful and even rather extreme style of malt whisky that just doesn’t exist anywhere today. These combinations of herbs and medicines but without too much peat make for a highly idiosyncratic style. Now, I love it and I think it’s also technically very good, but maybe a little too eccentric to exceed 90?
SGP: 463 - 88 points.

 

 

Craigellachie 10 yo ‘Batch 3’ (50.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 2987 bottles)

Craigellachie 10 yo ‘Batch 3’ (50.3%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 2987 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s a sherried one, and a rather modern example at that. Lots of caramel shortbread, butter biscuit, golden syrup, soft wood spices and treacle. Also some lighter and leafier notes of tobacco and milky chai tea. Has that familiar Craigellachie robustness about it. Solid! With water: quite organic now with natural rubber, damp earth, hummus, leaf mulch, engine grease and oily rags. Really a ‘fatty’ style of distillate, I would argue Craigellachie has even become heavier in recent years. Mouth: quite fatty and thick, lots of condensed milk, malt extract, heather ales, barley sugars, butterscotch, touches of hessian and green pepper. Dense and again rather robust. With water: golden syrup on brown bread, walnut oil, caffe latte, hessian, cod liver oil, mustard powder and venison stock. Indeed, there’s an encroaching meatiness which feels quite typical of these young sherried Craigs. Finish: quite long, again this note of natural rubber, some mulchy earthiness, turmeric, canvass, meat stock, gravy, leather and tobacco. Comments: Sinewy and rather no nonsense style whisky that some will find too dense and meaty, while I’m sure others will fall in love with its boisterous and punchy charms. I think it’s very good, you just have to enjoy these wee rubbery notes.
SGP: 571 - 84 points.

 

 

Craigellachie 1983/2002 (54%, Samaroli, cask #2576, 276 bottles)

Craigellachie 1983/2002 (54%, Samaroli, cask #2576, 276 bottles)
‘Refined in the bottle since 2002’, let’s not forget that Mr Samaroli was ahead of time with quite a few indy bottling practices and philosophies. Colour: straw. Nose: this is rather how I remember Craigellachie to be, a sort of halfway house between Clynelish and St Magdalene with these notes of soft, citric waxes, chalk, lemon peel, sunflower oil, cut grasses, muddled herbs and yellow and white meadow flowers. Pure, natural, aromatic and overall quite gentle but still charismatic. With water: drier and dovetailing more towards white pepper, stem ginger, scrunched newspaper, lighter fluid, ointments and pasta water. Mouth: sharper, more direct, lemon cordial, citronella waxes, white flowers, mineral oils, putty, camphor, bouillon stock and lemon travel sweets. Some bergamot and chamomile teas in the background. With water: there’s a funny sweetness that runs through this one but there’s also a good sense of texture and this light oiliness. Still rather peppery, mineral, gently waxy, citric and with many more assertive floral touches. Also some unusual notes of sweat and vegetable broth. Finish: medium and showing further unusual notes of air freshener, dried flowers, sandalwood and dusty pollens. A bit of plastic in the aftertaste. Comments: Undeniably charismatic and distinctive, but there’s some rather unlikely aspects here that seem to become more prominent with time and verging on problematic with water. Certainly this aftertaste that brings to mind fabric softener and plastic is a little bewildering. Hard to know what to make of this one.
SGP: 641 - 76 points.

 

 

Thanks to KC!

 

 

 

 

December 9, 2020


Whiskyfun

Little duos, two Braeval

That’s right, Braes of Glenlivet. I was having one solitary OB in the box, waiting for a sparring partner…

Braeval 16 yo 2000/2017 'The Distillery Reserve Collection' (54.7%, OB, cask #5116, second fill hogshead, 288 bottles)

Braeval 16 yo 2000/2017 (54.7%, OB, The Distillery Reserve Collection, cask #5116, second fill hogshead, 288 bottles) Four stars
I believe this is the first time ever I’m trying an official Braeval/Braes, so champagne please! Colour: gold. Nose: it’s great that they went for second fill natural wood, but let’s remember that the best Braes so far had been sherry bombs by Signatory Vintage. To me, Braeval al natural was virtually unknown before. What we’re finding is a classic softer malty profile, rather on pastries, crushed bananas, overripe apples, custard, croissants, and various herbal teas such as the very usual chamomile and linden teas. And then, something that really stands out, pistachio nougat – or rather halva. That’s exquisite! A drop of rosewater. With water: baguette, fresh oak, vanilla, and distant hints of farmyard, horse stable… Mouth (neat): but yes, mentholy barley, yes and yes and yes! With oranges and verbena, that’s exquisite indeed. Perhaps a little too much oak-forward (second fill, really?) but it is a perfect drop. With water: quinces coming out, that’s like when Jimmy Page starts a solo. Sadly the oak tends to invade it all, that’s like when, wait… Well, when Mariah Carey starts to sing. Of course not, Jimmy Page and Mariah Carey have never been on stage together – have they? Finish: medium, on cakes and barley. Comments: you could almost call this ‘machine-made malt whisky’. It’s perfect, just not very thrilling. The nose was really perfect though.
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Braeval 30 yo 1989/2019 (53.9%, Riegger’s Selection for Whisky-Hood, Switzerland, cask #28451)

Braeval 30 yo 1989/2019 (53.9%, Riegger’s Selection for Whisky-Hood, Switzerland, cask #28451) Four stars
Another Swiss bottling that reminds me to which extent I’m missing the whisky ships and, above everything, my Swiss friends. To think that Switzerland is at hare-jump distance from WF Towers… Colour: straw. Nose: I like it when malt whiskies would exhale notes of white asparagus and fresh crushed hazelnuts. There’s even some peanut butter, cross my heart… With water: gets into line, with cakes, barley and grist. Sounds like a folk-rock band, no? Mouth (neat): oh lovely! Barley, grapefruits, herbs… But are we sure that’s only 53.9%? It feels like, cough, cough, 60%+. Must be me, I shouldn’t have mentioned Mariah Carey. With water: a little leafier. Finish: long, on Chinese gunpowder green tea and apple pie, with a little liquorice, in the aftertaste. Comments: beats the OB fair and square. All that because of Mariah Carey…
SGP:461 - 87 points.

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

 

December 8, 2020


Whiskyfun

An Octomore Quartet

Some say peat is now out of fashion and that no one’s talking about ‘ppms’ anymore (remember?) but I’m not really sure. What’s sure is that world champion Octomore is still with us, and well with us. Let’s have a quartet…

Octomore 10 yo 2009/2020 ‘4th Edition’ (54.3%, OB, 12,000 bottles)

Octomore 10 yo 2009/2020 ‘4th Edition’ (54.3%, OB, 12,000 bottles) Four stars
208 hp… I mean ppm peat. This one’s nicknamed ‘dialogos’ – dialogos with whom and about what? Colour: straw. Nose: coal smoke, lemon, cut grass, brine. I repeat, coal smoke, lemon, cut grass, smoke. With water: Islay meadows, mud, wool, sheep dung, smoke… Mouth (neat): not that massive, once again we’ve tried some Port Charlottes that were smokier. All in all it is extremely grassy. Ham smoked with hay. With water: gets even easier, with fruits coming through, pink grapefruits, blood oranges, peaches, some salt and some brine, touch of leather… Finish: long, smoky, with some tobacco and coconut from freshish American oak. Comments: wondering which proportions of those ‘ppms’ (talking about ppms in the distillate) are lost over ten years in wood. A tad rustic but super good bottling for sure. And no syrah and whatnot in sight.
SGP:567 - 86 points.

Octomore 5 yo 2014/2020 ‘Edition 11.1’ (59.4%, OB)

Octomore 5 yo 2014/2020 ‘Edition 11.1’ (59.4%, OB) Four stars and a half
139.6ppm phenols this time, and this time again purely bourbon/American wood. Colour: white wine. Nose: much more medicinal than the 10, with more roots, creosote, quinine, then lovage and soy sauce, antiseptic, iodine, bark… I enjoy this ten times more. With water: the other one was pretty petroly in comparison, while this one’s medicinal indeed. Mercurochrome. Mouth (neat): reminds of those cask samples that you would have ‘live’ at the distilleries. Brutally grassy but full of charms. Do I find rhubarb in the back? With water: excellent, fruitier, almost sweet, on lime and indeed, rhubarb. Please add sunflower oil and some kind of smoked crème brulée. I mean, crème that you would first ‘brûle’ and then ‘fume’. Who’s going to try that? Please update us… Finish: not eternal but fresh and balanced. Smoked almonds, tar and preserved peaches. Comments: excellent, kind of easy, clean, well-chiselled. And medicinal, while in this day and age…
SGP:556 - 88 points.

Octomore 5 yo 2014/2020 ‘Edition 11.3’ (61.7%, OB)

Octomore 5 yo 2014/2020 ‘Edition 11.3’ (61.7%, OB) Five stars
194 ppm phenols this time and 100% Islay barley, from Octomore Farm what is more. And 100% ex-first fill bourbon.  Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s hard to get that out of your head, once you know that the barley came from a field that’s located 3 kms away from Bruichladdich. You feel the ocean! Quite. Anyway, this is ueber-clean and almost minimalist, on clementines, mint, sea breeze and lapsang souchong. With water: add a lady’s moisturiser and fresh almonds from the tree. Mouth (neat): perfect, even at, cough erm, ach, 61.7% vol. Big pepper but this shouldn’t stay. Big orange blossom honey too. With water: a little rusticity that you would expect from those fields, and oysters. Whenever oysters appear in any whisky, I pick up my trumpet. Finish: rather long, fresh, with superb soapy herbs. Saponin? No, it isn’t soapy, you’d find that too in, say mezcal. Comments: high-class Octomore. I suppose the barley goes to the continent for malting, but otherwise this is fully an Islay product. Splendid at only 5.
SGP:467 - 90 points.

Perhaps a wee indie before we close the doors for today?

Octomore 8 yo 2010-2011/2020 (58.3%, Maltbarn)

Octomore 8 yo 2010-2011/2020 (58.3%, Maltbarn) Four stars
Bourbon and wine casks here – funny that the indies would do wine and the owners not. I mean, today. Colour: straw. Nose: forget about the wine cask, it’s not quite noticeable, at least not at 58.3% vol. We’re rather finding ethanol, coconut water, broken branches, fresh apricots, grist and mud… Hold on, those apricots, aren’t they from the wine? With water: no, this is rather classic muddy and smoky Octomore al natural, more or less in the style of the new 10. Mouth (neat): a feeling of deep-smoked peaches. Should be the wine, possibly some white wine, but it remains unobtrusive. Nice drop at full strength. By the way, could have been a cognac cask too. With water: no more peaches, rather oysters, beach sand, and something slightly acetic. Wine vinegar? Hold on… Finish: long, a tad sweeter again. Raw grains, peach liqueur, mud and pepper. Comments: a little less smoky than the OBs, and a little more rural shall we say. After all, the bottler’s named Malt Barn.
SGP:556 - 87 points.

(Thank you Nicolas)

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

 

December 7, 2020


Whiskyfun

Another briefcase of Highland Park

There’s a growing feeling that the ones labelled as ‘Secret Orkney’ or similar monikers are actually better than the ones labelled as ‘Highland Park’. Which, I agree, is a little embarrassing, while a similar phenomenon may well occur at Macallan’s, Clynelish’s, Glenmorangie’s, or Glenfarclas’ and a few others. I believe all that is very silly and should be stopped, but who started it and who am I?

Highland Park 18 yo ‘Viking Pride’ (43%, OB, +/-2019)

Highland Park 18 yo ‘Viking Pride’ (43%, OB, +/-2019) Four stars
Sure we’d like the 18 to be bottled at 45 or 46%, but it’s always been a great drop anyway, hasn’t it. The name ‘Viking Pride’ doesn’t sound too good in our countries, but there, it’s in small letters so people shouldn’t notice. Colour: gold. Nose: I find it dry and very leafy, perhaps a little thin on the nose, but I’m rather fond of these resinous, sappy, pine-y aromas. Leaves, herbal teas… Well it is a little timid. Slivovitz. Mouth: the smoke is up; the body is down a wee bit. Didn’t the 18 become a real peater over the years? Earlier batches were already displaying more peat and more roughness, but it seems that they went one step further in that respect. On the other hand, the oiliness is almost gone and the honeyed notes have been replaced with green spices and fresh wood. While fresh wood kills and has always killed. Finish: medium, dry and leafy/grassy. Not too nice in my humble opinion. Saltier aftertaste. Comments: what happened to good old HP 18? It’s still a very good drop, but I think it’s lost its former polish. And maestria. And some younger expressions are way better, I think, which is good for our purses.
SGP:463 - 85 points.

Let’s do an older one right away…

Highland Park 30 yo (43.1%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, 2020)

Highland Park 30 yo (43.1%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, 2020) Five stars
It seems that this one was bottled for the Virtual Feis Ile 2020, which is brilliant given that the ones we’ve already tried have been superb (Ardbeg et al), but one question remains on the table, which is what’s the link between Highland Park and Feis Ile? The other question being, why should we care? Colour: light gold. Nose: it’s got his fragility, bordering evanescence, that’s to be found in old whiskies that went ‘low in alcohol’. Sometimes they’re great, sometimes they’re flat dead, while you wouldn’t find out on the nose . Coconut water, kiwi juice, olive brine, oysters, amaretti, putty, sauvignon blanc… Let’s just pray… Mouth: right. Those little pink olives they have in Spain, plus mangos, plus passion fruits, plus Timut pepper, plus seashells (razor clams, Barcelona-style)… Well this is just sublime, please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade sofort! In truth, it feels more like 50%, rather than just 43.1. Oh and that .1% by the way, pff… Finish: unexpectedly long, salty, briny, coastal, olive-y… Comments: no heather honey to be found this time, but what a glorious old HP! Not a fat and wide honeyed one at all having said that, it is rather ‘a blade’. Impressed with this series.
SGP:462 - 92 points.

Secret Orkney 12 yo 2005/2018 (57%, Cooper’s Choice for Hot Malt Taiwan, cask #26, 360 bottles)

Secret Orkney 12 yo 2005/2018 (57%, Cooper’s Choice for Hot Malt Taiwan, cask #26, 360 bottles) Five stars
What’s reassuring is that even with their bottlings for Asia, where time is circular as we all know, our Scottish friends would keep mentioning ‘twelve long years’. Having said that, as we know in western countries, time can be elastic too. Oh well let’s try this one; could be Scapa, no? Colour: go. Nose: slaughters the official 18 and fights the 30 with bravado. The last wood it’s seen was rather active, but the vanilla here is rather beautiful and self-restrained, while some eucalyptus and beach smoke are creeping in. With water: sourdough and fresh baguette. I can’t wee shy a Frenchman would be against that. Mouth (neat): my this is good! Terrific distillate, citrons and lemons, minerals, seaweed, graphite oil, chalk… That’s a winning combo at Château Whiskyfun. With water: great fatness, olive oil, grapefruit skin, whatnot. Impeccable spirit. Finish: long, tight, salty and smoky. Oysters – and razor clams - everywhere. Comments: it sure hasn’t got the insane complexity that was to be found in the Kinship, but at the age of 12, you cannot do much better in Scotland. I mean, wow.
SGP:363 - 90 points.

Secret Orkney 1999/2019 (51.9%, Dutch Whisky Connection, 157 bottles)

Secret Orkney 1999/2020 (51.9%, Dutch Whisky Connection, 157 bottles) Five stars
Featuring Soong Ching-ling, 'the mother of modern China'. Colour: straw. Nose: let’s be quick, this is one of those pure fresh immaculate HPs that are all on seawater, damp chalk, green olives, and lemons. With water: oh flour, grist, breads, damp papers, something a little muddy, perhaps… It would remain rather citrusy as long as you wouldn’t add too much water. Well it’s probably not the best swimmer of all times. Mouth (neat): yes, there, lemons, oysters, green pepper, chalk, paraffin, chilies… With water: what a perfect distillate but please do not drown it. It’s a Dutch bottling so water has to remain under control. Like. Seawater, brine, chalk, bay leaves… Finish: long and extremely briny now, with some coastal kind of smokiness. Comments: huge, massive whisky that just wouldn’t take any prisoners, with a smokiness that’s not very far from Talisker’s. This with hugs to our dear friend Bert V.
SGP:363 - 90 points.

An Orkney Distillery 10 yo 2009/2020 ‘Reserve Casks’ (48%, The Single Malts of Scotland for LMDW, 2020)

An Orkney Distillery 10 yo 2009/2020 ‘Reserve Casks’ (48%, The Single Malts of Scotland for LMDW, 2020) Three stars and a half
This baby from two casks. Colour: apricot. Nose: this is a much rounder and fruitier version, without much minerality or peat, rather stewed fruits and jams, apricot jam, quince jelly, preserved peaches, with most certainly a few references to cognac, with some raisins as well, perhaps touches of PX (no problems here)… Mouth: no wait, there, a leafy vinosity with some pepper and some bitter leaves, ginger, cinchona, green peppercorn, also a little rubber… The palate is very difference from the nose. Hints of oak shavings and a bitterish wood smoke. Finish: medium, peppery and cooked, with a spicy aftertaste (nutmeg, pepper, cardamom). Comments: the wood impact is a little loud for me on the palate, but the nose was first class. Still an excellent dram altogether.
SGP:461 - 83 points.

Another go at this excellent range…

An Orkney Distillery 13 yo 2007/2020 ‘Reserve Casks Parcel No.4’ (48%, The Single Malts of Scotland)

An Orkney Distillery 13 yo 2007/2020 ‘Reserve Casks Parcel No.4’ (48%, The Single Malts of Scotland) Four stars
No less than three casks have been used this time. Colour: deep amber with red hues. Nose: some obvious similarities but this one’s even more aromatic, with some cognac indeed, peaches, raisins, dried dates, a little raw cocoa, prunes in armagnac, pipe tobacco… A very seductive nose, a tad heady at times but just irresistible. Now will the same happen on the palate?... Mouth: it does go towards green walnuts and pepper this time again, with some cinnamon mints, horseradish, some earthy chocolate… Having said, that, it’s less leafy and bitterish than the 10, so rather easier, in a way. Finish: rather long, on more walnuts, bitter almonds, and many spices. Coffee beans, torrefied raw chocolate, tobacco, pepper… Comments: indeed, very good. It’s almost as peppery as the 10, it’s probably not impossible that some French or Spanish oak was used at some point. 
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Highland Park 16 yo 2003/2019 (58.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, sherry butt, cask #1885, 585 bottles)

Highland Park 16 yo 2003/2019 (58.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, sherry butt, cask #1885, 585 bottles) Four stars
The owners issue tons of sherried single casks and seem to be going the Glendronach way since a few years in that respect. I believe even the concierge has got her own cask (I’m joking). No, we love concierges, that was not an anti-concierge comment at all. Colour: almost mahogany. Nose: a lot of shoe and metal polishes at first nosing, then walnut bogs and pencil shavings. Add some Bovril, prune juice, rancio, a touch of earth, and rather some armagnac this time. Modern heavy sherry does make some whiskies rather brandy-like, does it not. With water: chocolate, patchouli and tobacco. It’s a little hippy. Mouth (neat): heavy, immediately spicy and meaty, with molasses in abundance and a good litre of walnut stain (I mean, it is reminiscent of walnut stain). Quite a lot of raw chocolate too (like 99%), the blackest toffee, and lastly, a little cherry liqueur, which kinds of lifts it and makes it a little rounder at the same time. But it’s still very heavy juice… With water: it takes water very well, that’s a blessing in this rather heavy context. Nuts, walnuts, chestnuts, fig cake, chocolate, a drop of chicken bouillon and a little raw oak, which usually implies a finishing but that’s ‘probably’ not the case here. Finish: long, drying, on chocolate and tobacco. Comments: excellent but beyond the fact that I like my HPs closer to the distillate, since it’s great, I think I liked the 13 yo Reserve a little better, since it’s more ‘drinkable’.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Perhaps an official from when sherry was better civilised, and then we call this a proper tasting session?

Highland Park 20 yo 1959/1979 (43%, OB, for Ferraretto Italy, 75cl)

Highland Park 20 yo 1959/1979 (43%, OB, for Ferraretto Italy, 75cl) Five stars
Sure we had tried this one before but another bottle’s been opened for a wee online ‘masterclass’ (just a commented session, really) that I did in September with the good people at the Golden Promise bar in Paris and Whisky Live Paris 2020. Indeed, any excuse… Colour: deep gold. Nose: this is probably a little unjust to the modern sherried HPs, since bottle ageing may well have further improved this luminous baby. Sensational whiffs of heather honey (a marker), dried figs, mead, old Sauternes (make that Climens), masala, marrow, old tangerine liqueur, old library, all the old furniture polishes that go with it, a touch of hoisin sauce… Oh well, no one will ever repeat these styles, or they would have done it already. Mouth: amazing, rich and even firm at 43%, and pretty much on all dried fruits and all kinds of honeys that do exist on this wee planet. Heather first, naturally, but I’m afraid heather honey virtually disappeared from any contemporary HP. I’ll spare you the rest. Finish: medium, on exactly the same notes, plus marrow soup and a little earthy tobacco and coffee in the aftertaste. No clumsy wood or spices coming out Comments: score unchanged. We’ll try to taste it from yet another bottle, just for scientific purposes. But of course.
SGP:562 - 94 points.

(Thank you François!)

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

 

December 6, 2020


Whiskyfun

Malternative Sundays, more rums today

Starting with a little aperitif from the old days…

Duquesne 5 yo ‘Rhum Vieux’ (40%, OB, Martinique, 5cl, +/-1990)

Duquesne 5 yo ‘Rhum Vieux’ (40%, OB, Martinique, 5cl, +/-1990) one star and a half
An old miniature from an hotel room. I couldn’t tell you which hotel, but it was about time we sacrificed it. Duquesne seems to stem from Trois Rivières, which now belongs to Campari. This is probably agricole, although it wouldn’t say so. Colour: straw. Nose: a little kirschy, almondy, spirity at first, with this feeling of white rum plus vanilla, but it tends to improve quite a lot over time, becoming cane-y and even a little petroly. Probably not meant to be sipped like this, but it’s not an obligation to drown it in soda or pineapple juice, whether in an hotel room or not. Mouth: a lot of hay and liquorice, with something a little unnatural. Petrol again? A touch of salt too, a bit of green olive, chewing rubber…Not quite, I would say. Finish: rather long, salty, but the rubber’s a tad too loud. Comments: for the record and for what it’s worth. Oh well, I suppose a proper bottle would have pulled better results. Anecdotal, because of the rubber.
SGP:362 - 68 points.

Foursquare 12 yo ‘Sagacity’ (48%, OB, Barbados, 2019)

Foursquare 12 yo ‘Sagacity’ (48%, OB, Barbados, 2019) Five stars
Indeed we’re a little late again, but remember we haven’t got much space for rum in these pages. This baby’s seen Madeira casks, but Madeira can work with whisky, so it should work with proper rum too. Aren’t Madeira casks the Ronaldos of wood? (subtle nudge, isn’t it). Colour: amber. Nose: yes, the combination works very well, as expected. Walnut cake covered with some gewurztraminer icing, and filled with bitter marmalade and, naturally, ‘rum’. Lovely touches of gingerbread too. This Sagacity seems to be pretty smart (S., pff). Mouth: rather nervous and tight at first, which are assets, then rounder and cake-ier, with some peanut oil. More gingerbread, honey cookies, then the expected walnuts and mustard, from the Madeira I suppose. Everything works in sync here, it’s an excellent rum. Finish: rather long, with some spicy cookies, perhaps. Cloves… Comments: firm and probably appealing both to newcomers and to seasoned rum enthusiasts. BTW, bual, malmsey, sercial or verdelho? We’ll soon publish a Benrinnes session that may tell you more about those very different varietals…  in the meantime, let me have a wee glass of this awesome little Sagacity before we go on… (of course we should never do that, but there).
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Caroni 22 yo 1998/2020 (57.5%, Compagnie des Indes, Trinidad, 287 bottles)

Caroni 22 yo 1998/2020 (57.5%, Compagnie des Indes, Trinidad, 287 bottles) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: diesel oil everywhere, then coal tar and Dutch liquorice. Then exhausts and embrocations. Vick Vaporub and tiger balm. With water: a lovely dustiness. Old attic, wine cellar… Quite some caraway too. Mouth (neat): drinking some very peppery olive oil blended with engine oil and something like ras el hanout (usually cardamom, cumin, clove, cinnamon, fenugreek, nutmeg, mace, allspice, ginger, chili, coriander seeds, peppercorn, paprika, and turmeric). I agree that’s not very Trinidadian. With water: some very old riesling and even more petrol. Really, it’s like drinking petrol and varnish, but quaffing this little Caroni instead will be safer. Finish: very long and really very petroly, with an acetic, almost bacterial side too. Salted liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: rather the thing, I would say. Some Ardbeg from the Caribbean, well done Compagnie des Indes (occidentales)! Luved it.
SGP:373 - 91 points.

Hampden ‘Great House Distillery Edition 2020’ (59%, OB, Jamaica)

Hampden ‘Great House Distillery Edition 2020’ (59%, OB, Jamaica) Five stars
We’re late, once again, but remember, few slots for rum etc. This is a blend of 80% Hampden OWH (80-120 gr esters/hlpa) distilled in 2013 and 20% DOK (1,500-1,600 gr esters/hlpa) distilled in 2017. Ooh my head. So technically, it’s a 3 years old. Colour: gold. Nose: naturally. Immediate, kind of easy, instant phenolic, tarry and briny pleasure, ridden with olives, tarmac, carbon dust, model glue and seawater. Right. With water: olives and gravel amalgamated with tarmac. More or less that. Mouth (neat): it’s like Ardbeg, whether it’s fully there or only as a fraction of a blend, the end result will be the same. So, we’ve got everything that was in the nose, plus some fruity notes that are extremely lovely. Mangos, papayas and crushed ripe bananas. A bit tight, in fact, but the tongue sees no flaws. With water: olive brine and liquorice! You may try to make it at home, just put some stick of liquorice wood in a jar of olive brine (eat the olives first) and keep it for a few weeks. Comments on a postcard please. Finish: long, on similar flavours. No changes, except for this wee fruit that you’d sometimes find in heavy peaters or high-ester rums: wild strawberries! I’m serious – but that’s pretty close to varnish, actually. Comments: impressed but not surprised. Great young Hampden.
SGP:473 - 91 points.

Great session, no?

Uitvlugt-Port Mourant 22 yo 1998/2020 (61.1%, Tamosi Karaya, Guyana)

Uitvlugt-Port Mourant 22 yo 1998/2020 (61.1%, Tamosi Karaya, Guyana) Five stars
Let me explain, this was distilled with the Port Mourant double wooden still while it was still at Uitvlugt, so before it was moved to Diamond in Georgetown. But yeah, it’s a good question, label it as Uitvlugt or as Port Mourant? I believe they chose the best solution, kudos to them. Colour: light gold. Nose: sure it’s hot, but I’m managing to find some Italian hazelnut liqueur and some lady’s face cream. Perhaps stewed salsify? But let’s not try any harder an push our luck… With water: it’s amazing that we would be this close to the style of the Hampden, although this PM would be a tad more aromatic and floral. Jasmine tea, wisteria, honeysuckle, spearmint… It is truly beautiful and charming. Mouth (neat): I seem to detect some earthy liquorice and some kind of blend of mango and tangerine fruit juices. But indeed it is hot… With water: wonderful top-dresser, peppery, tarry and fruity, with a mentholy and pine-y side. Some juniper and aniseeds, liquorice, and high-end grappa. Impressive spirit that spent a large part of its life in Europe (probably in Holland) and that would display rather ‘time’ than ‘wood’. Finish: long and fresh. Peppermint. Comments: almost as refreshing as Perrier, in fact, minus the bubbles. Another brilliant rum that, in my book, is worth more than those boring 90 points. I mean, 90%.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

A last one…

Black Tot ‘50th Anniversary’ (54.5%, Elixir Distillers, 2020)

Black Tot ‘50th Anniversary’ (54.5%, Elixir Distillers, 2020) Four stars
I’ll say it, these ‘black tot’ things do not ring many bells to these French ears. What’s more, the one thing we’ve never been too keen on, beyond their food of course, is the British Navy. But we love all the rest, especially the jokes ;-). So yeah, this is some kind of no-age-stated British-style rum. OH and I agree I’m being a little tough on it, after the glories we’ve just had. Colour: deep amber. Nose: it does, indeed, kind of synthesise some of the rums we’ve just had. The petrol, the ripe bananas, the olives, the gravel, the earth, the soft spices (that ras el hanout)… It does lose you a wee bit, especially since this is not the style of rum the French are used to (at all), but I do applaud the petroly liquorice for sure. With water: muchas improvements and a totally liquorice-led cavalcade. Do you enjoy liquorice as much as I do? Mouth (neat): heavy liquid liquorice, heavy molasses, heavy caramel, a drop of violet liqueur… Parfait Amour indeed. I hope that will give you a good idea. With water: same, just easier. This very molasses-y profile just works – again, we’re not used to this at all.  Finish: long. Molasses, liquorice, caramel. Comments: I’m starting to understand what the French, cough, ‘navy’ did wrong. Seriously, the black tot sure was a secret weapon.
SGP:562 - 87 points.  

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

 

December 5, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Sherried ‘Stuff’
There’s oceans of blended and anonymous malt whisky knocking about these days. Much of it very good, just sheltering behind any number of newly invented brands. All of which is understandable from the commercial perspective of the indy bottler, but the effect is a bit tiring I find. Anyway, let’s have a few recent ones today.

 

House Malt 15 yo 2004/2020 (40%, The Whisky Cellar, refill sherry butt)

House Malt 15 yo 2004/2020 (40%, The Whisky Cellar, refill sherry butt)
I like the idea of having a ‘house malt’, it fits well with this notion of having a ‘statement’ bottling. However, in this day and age, I feel that consistency in such things is pretty impossible. But then, isn’t that what batch numbers are for? I digress. Colour: amber. Nose: caramel, butterscotch, orange oils, marmalade and praline. Also some milk chocolate digestives and traditional leathery and earthy sherry tones. Feels clean and pretty fresh. Mouth: good, clean, nicely drying sherry. Wet leaves, tobacco, bitter shilling beers, tobacco some rancio. All perfectly fine, but you do feel even 43% would have added some extra assertiveness to these flavours. Rather bitter notes of orange peel and hessian coming through after a while, it also starts to feel rather oxidative. Finish: short, more milk chocolate, some darjeeling tea and more wee hessian notes. Comments: I can see why the 40%, it’s very quaffable to the point that you almost wouldn’t notice it - tumbler juice in other words. But in this day and age it’s hard to escape the very obvious limitations of 40% abv.
SGP: 451 - 78 points.

 

 

A Fine Christmas Malt 19 yo (44.5%, The Whisky Exchange, blended malt, sherry, 1918 bottles)

A Fine Christmas Malt 19 yo (44.5%, The Whisky Exchange, blended malt, sherry, 1918 bottles, 2020)
Apparently it’s December already, I couldn’t tell you how that happened… Colour: coppery amber. Nose: lovely, mulchy, leafy, natural and earthy sherry with these wee touches of hummus, bouillon and fir wood. Then damp tobacco in a leather pouch, rosewood and sultanas. It does indeed possess these obligatory ‘Christmas cakey’ vibes. Smells like any number of these mysterious ex-Edrington stocks, and also rather reminiscent of a similar recent bottling by Kate and Mark Watt. Mouth: nutty, chocolatey, caramel - a pocket-softened Snickers bar - with also some tinges of grenadine, mulling spices (cloves etc), candied peel and balsamic. Clean, earthy, nutty and rather old school sherry. Finish: medium but rather robust and back on tobaccos, walnuts, paprika, bitter marmalade and some twinges of Irish coffee. Comments: I wonder, does Sukhinder get dressed up in a Santa suit and hand out presents to all TWE employees as they arrive for work at 6am on Christmas Day? Anyway, a pretty irrefutable and excellent drop which undeniably reeks of Christmas. The ideal tipple for gently melting in front of the TV on Boxing Day I suppose.
SGP: 561 - 87 points.

 

 

Burnside 25 yo 1994/2020 Blended Malt (47.6%, Archives ‘The Fishes of Samoa’, cask #7103, sherry butt, 58 bottles)

Burnside 25 yo 1994/2020 Blended Malt (47.6%, Archives ‘The Fishes of Samoa’, cask #7103, sherry butt, 58 bottles)
Only 58 bottles? From a sherry butt? Where is the rest? Paying off the Samoan fishing authorities no doubt! Now, this is Burnside, so we at least know the origins should lie within the William Grant stable of malts. Colour: deep, reddish amber. Nose: oooh, beautiful old school sherry impressions at first. Bags of crushed walnuts, ancient balsamic, raisins, sultanas and figs all stewed in old Cognac and some posh Irish coffee. A harmonious, pure and rather beautiful aroma that really screams old school sherry cask. Mouth: indeed, same feelings as on the nose. Only here there’s more bitter herbs, more wood spices, more earthy notes, verbena, roasted walnuts and green walnut liqueur. Espresso, the best bitter chocolate, salted Dutch liquorice and beautiful, old style rancio, aged pinot noir and soft notes of cough medicines. Perhaps there’s a simplicity to it but it’s direct, pure and vividly enthralling stuff. You could be sipping a 1960s Macallan. Finish: good length, rather leathery, perfectly earthy, bitter notes of herbs, black pepper and game meats, then blood orange marmalade and some ancient Cointreau. Comments: 58 measly bottles? I demand an explanation!
SGP: 562 - 91 points.

 

 

The Wine Society Highland Single Malt 30 yo 1989/2019 (46%, The Wine Society, 7 hogsheads and 3 butts, 2064 bottles)

The Wine Society Highland Single Malt 30 yo 1989/2019 (46%, The Wine Society, 7 hogsheads and 3 butts, 2064 bottles)
A bottling that emerged somewhat out of the blue from the Wine Society here in the UK. Apparently this was matured in some of the Society’s own sherry casks from which they had originally bottled for their own brand sherries. So, this should theoretically be from ‘proper’ sherry casks… Colour: pale amber. Nose: this is indeed a deep, natural and rather robust sherry profile. Wonderfully leathery, camphory and displaying notes of wet bracken, earthen floored wine cellars, walnut wine, olive oil, cured ham, sheep wool, bacon frazzles (a popular pub snack here in the UK which is superior to most French cuisine) and also subtle notes of dried mint, eucalyptus and various heather beers and old school bitter ales. I really like this nose. Mouth: a little lighter than the nose suggested, more subtle with notes of dried earth, sultana, milk chocolate coated Brazil nuts, trail mix, desiccated coconut, hessian and cranberry gravy. Some gamey and leathery notes along with a slightly salinity from the sherry. Almost embarrassingly quaffable. Finish: good length. Nutty, warmly spicy, delicately drying, lightly salty, gamey and more of this lovely leafiness that takes in earth, tobacco and petrichor. Comments: Extremely impressive and evidently from some proper sherry casks that actually contained quality sherry. Now, as for the distillery, I couldn’t tell you I’m afraid, but there’s a feeling of Glengoyne about it. Although, it’s entirely possible and even probable that I am wrong. Either way, a superb drop!
SGP: 561 - 89 points.

 

 

 

 

December 4, 2020


Whiskyfun

Little duos, two Allt-A-Bhainne

We love challenges at WF. For example, we try hard to do at least one Allt-A-Bhainne session every year. 2020’s takes place right today.

Allt-A-Bhainne 10 yo 2008/2019 (46.5%, House of McCallum, cask #172, 432 bottles)

Allt-A-Bhainne 10 yo 2008/2019 (46.5%, House of McCallum, cask #172, 432 bottles) Four stars
Rather sadly, it appears that this baby has spent some time in a Burgundy cask (a Monthélie). Shall we find notes of ‘dead civet cat’, ‘rabbit that ran in high meadows’ or ‘good sister who doesn’t take care of herself’? Oh no wait, it was white Monthélie, that’s much better! I totally adore pinot noir, just not in my whisky, thank you very much. Colour: straw. Nose: hold on, natural wine, ferments, yeasts, spent lees, sourdough, mashed celeriac, Jerusalem artichoke, eggplants, elderflowers, jasmine… What’s not to like? Perhaps these wee touches of plastic here and there in the background, but never mind. Mouth: much less uncertain and wobbly than I had thought, this works a treat, with quite a lot of bitterer flour (buckwheat?), mustard, baker’s yeast, various beers, fresh breads, wholegrain, ale… Isn’t it rather strange that a malt whisky that’s met with chardonnay in its life would be full of beer tastes? Finish: of good length, full of beers, breads, and cider. Comments: I believe it’s easy to miss the point completely here. I mean, Allt-A-Bhainne, wine wood, young age… And yet, I find it full of charms and just very good. I would have said American malt whisky, no?
SGP:451 - 85 points.

Allt-A-Bhainne 27 yo 1992/2020 (49.2%, The Whisky Cask Company, bourbon, cask #1800472, 272 bottles)

Allt-A-Bhainne 27 yo 1992/2020 (49.2%, The Whisky Cask Company, bourbon, cask #1800472, 272 bottles) Four stars and a half
This one by our friends in Switzerland, the Kissling family of The Stillman’s fame. Oh how I’m missing Zürich’s ships and röstis, hope Luzern will take place next year! Colour: gold. Nose: Di’esch ganz guett denk ich, mett exact bluema ond… Oh excuse me, we are not in Switzerland are we, how very sad… but this nose is quite astonishing, subtle, complex, on those fantastic beehive-y aromas that well-behaved wood (not a new hoggie seasoned with cheap PX, mind you) would generate. Lighter honeys (acacia), nougat, hay, crushed hazelnuts, artisanal sunflower oil, Läckerli (not quite but we’re trying put a brave face on it, you understand…) and, drumroll… beeswax! Wunderbar. Mouth: what? Allt-A-Bhainne? This is an ode to time and its impact on whisky. This reminds you that malt whisky = barley, water, yeast, wood and TIME. Overripe apples, waxes, blood oranges, marzipan, touches of ginger, some chutneys, and a rather marvellous pepper, bordering Thainess. Thai basil, Himalaya pepper, lime… Finish: rather long, with some wonderfully fresh peppery notes. Really very ‘Thai’ (Thai cuisine, another thing that I just idolise). And guess what’s coming in the aftertaste? Butterscotch! Comments: possibly the best Allt-A-Bhainne I’ve ever tried. One day, I’ll tell you (again) about that anecdote that took place when I tried to gather data about Allt-A-Bhainne from Pernod-Ricard, in the 2000s. Good fun.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

Good, I’m sure it’s not the first time I’m telling you about this, but there. Around 2005, there had been a rumour that Pernod had decided to mothball Allt-A-Bhainne and, I seem to remember, Braeval, so my compadres the Malt Maniacs asked me, since I was, and still am French, to contact the owners just to check whether that was true. Which I did, with an email to their PR department. No answers… After a few weeks, I sent another email, which pulled this answer (from memory)… “Allt-A-Bhainne and Braeval? Are you sure those distilleries belong to us?” Having said that, I had also contacted some friends at LVMH’s headquarters in Paris just after they had acquired Glenmorangie plc., wondering if they would do special single casks of Ardbeg for France. Their answer had been something like “Ardbeg? Not ours, our distillery in Scotland is Glenmorangie!” The good old days… See you.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Allt-A-Bhainne we've tasted so far

 

December 3, 2020


Whiskyfun

More bastard and blended malts

I’d absolutely love to be able to tell you more about these, but I would have to kill you. Yeah right. What’s more, I swear I know nothing about most of them, you just have to trust the names of the bottlers – and sometimes the funny clues that may be scattered across some labels.

Black Friday 22 yo ‘2020 Edition’ (50.5%, The Whisky Exchange, Highland single malt, 1400 bottles)

Black Friday 22 yo ‘2020 Edition’ (50.5%, The Whisky Exchange, Highland single malt, 1400 bottles) Four stars
I’m not sure I’m a huge fan of those ‘Black Friday’ operations, but this year and unless they’re the well-known tax-evaders Dramazon, I say all the friendly retailers in the world can do whatever they like, given the sanitary circumstances. Colour: straw. Nose: some lightish smoke ala Ardmore and a hint of soap, a touch of old papers and old hessian in your basement, a little tar, marmalade, mercurochrome… It’s all rather a little dry. With water: some sweet flour. Maize flour? Mouth (neat): firmer, smokier, with some lemon and white peaches, then some grassier notes and some muscovado sugar. Not a make that’s easy to follow, it’s pretty peaty, and yet the body’s a little light, while it’s rather fruity, and yet quite dry and even earthy. With water: do not add too much water. A greener smoke, that’s good. Lime, and even a tiny oyster. A little belon. Finish: medium, pretty good, smoky and greener. Smoked green tea – but not green Lapsang Souchong at all. Bear with me, it’s a little hard to explain. Comments: it’s true that I just tried a dozen Ardmores the other day, so no glory here, this should be Ardmore. In my opinion. A good Ardmore.
SGP:454 - 86 points.

Secret Speyside 26 yo 1993/2020 (47.7%, Dutch Whisky Connection)

Secret Speyside 26 yo 1993/2020 (47.7%, Dutch Whisky Connection) Five stars
This series is called ‘They Inspired’ while this very baby has Mandela on the label. I’ve heard they’re planning to do a George Dickel Weed Finish with Donald J. as the source of inspiration - Bob Marley was taken. But then again, they’re Dutch bottlers. Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts with a large bag of raisins, dried flowers, chamomile and a lot of praline. That’s extremely pleasant. Goes on within the same clusters, with toasted brioches and scones, and probably a little millionaire shortbread. These touches of earth and tobacco that appear around 3:30 are lovely too and make it rather more complex.  Mouth: punchier than expected, more on bouillon and dried meats too at first, with some Stollen, panettone, toffee, raisins, and a little oude geneever (cheers friends), as well as dried bananas, figs, dates, and dried longans. I cherish dried longans. Finish: rather long, rather rich, with more raisins, dates and figs, a little pipe tobacco (Amsterdamer, naturally) and rather a lot of proper milk chocolate. Comments: some say these 1993s usually stem from a Distillery that starts like a hamburger and ends with ‘lan’. I wouldn’t be too surprised if that was the case here. Very good rather old-style malt whisky, extremely well selected, that’ll benefit from ten of twenty years of further cellaring. Yes I know.
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Blended Whisky (45.5%, East London Liquor Co. & Sonoma Distilling Co., 2019)

Blended Whisky (45.5%, East London Liquor Co. & Sonoma Distilling Co., 2019) Three stars
Some kind of rather heavily packaged Transworld whisky that bears neither age nor vintage statements. Having said that, at WF we’re rather fans of Sonoma Distillery, so hopes are pretty deep… Or high… Colour: gold. Nose: hold on, what is this? Lanoline, tarmac, paint, cedarwood, pinewood, maraschino, menthol, terpenes, buckwheat… We’re almost nosing sauna oil, not saying that’s unpleasant, it’s just not very ‘whisky’. I would have said some kind of gin aged in pinewood, really. Mouth: that’s what we call a cruel dilemma. It’s a fine, very extractive and very infuse-y drink, but it just doesn’t taste of whisky to me. Not even rye whisky, even if it is going into that direction. But then again, I rather enjoy this big and thick drink. Finish: long, and that’s the best part, it gives you mentholy flavours that would linger on your palate for years. Okay, a good ten minutes. Comments: I should have had this one within a malternative session, not amongst proper whiskies. My bad… Although it does say ‘whisky’, so no, not my bad! Pretty pretty good, in fact. Oh and rinse your glass well.
SGP:671 - 82 points.

Since we’re doing collaborative drinks…

Bländande 8 yo (55.5%, OB, Sweden, blended malt, 2020)

Bländande 8 yo (55.5%, OB, Sweden, blended malt, 2020) Four stars
Oh, a miracle, I can read Swedish! Blended malt whisky… Spirit of Hven… Chincapinck (suppose that’s chincapin)… Smögen… Bourbon barrels… Sherry hogshead… Skâl! So as it may appear, this is a blend of Spirit of Hven and Smögen that’s seen different kinds of wood. I have a good feeling. Colour: deep gold. Nose: perhaps not quite a whisky to nose when a full strength, I rather get fresh baguette and soft oak, with touches of grass smoke and the thinnest slice of pumpernickel ever. Let’s be patient… With water: ah what I like, wet dogs (apologies to all Swedish dogs, especially Smâlandsstovare and Västgötaspets – what would you do without google) and then some very bready aromas, around flours, husk, yeasts, as well as flowers, especially rose petals. Not a very common combination. Mouth (neat): very powerful, very peaty, peppery and citric… It screams for water. With water: very good, natural, very close to the raw ingredients, that is to say very bready. Barley and notes of citron and myrtle liqueur. More raw oak in the aftertaste. Finish: medium, smokier again, with some pleasant sour notes, sourdough… Comments: perhaps not an utter star – blends rarely are in my opinion – but it’s extremely close to nature, I would say. Raw nature. As for chincapin a.k.a. dwarf chestnut tree, don’t ask.
SGP:355 - 85 points.

Back to Scotchland please…

Let’s Dance 8 yo (51.6%, Simply Whisky, Scotch single malt 2020)

Let’s Dance 8 yo (51.6%, Simply Whisky, Scotch single malt 2020) Four stars
It seems that these fine people at Simply Whisky wanted to pay tribute to David Bowie with this little undisclosed single malt.  Let’s find out whether this is a Beauty or a Beast, or if we’re in a kind of Moss Garden (you really racked your brain here, S.) Colour: white wine. Nose: fruity and cereally, on bonbons and custard, cornflakes, nougat, popcorn, then rather ripe greengages and mirabelles. Easily pleasant and pleasantly easy, I would say. With water: leaves, blond tobacco, earl grey, soft white pepper, peach skin, candle wax. Mouth (neat): very good, more citrusy and waxy, with some fruit paste (tangerines) and sweet sultanas, more custard as well, green tea, then more fresh oak, all that with pretty perfect balance. With water: fresher and fruitier yet. Orange drops, sweet barley, quince jelly. Finish: medium, fresh. Juicy Fruit and beeswax. Comments: some sides reminded me of young Balvenie, but the wax would rather suggest a Distillery further North, in Sutherland. Very impeccable young drop.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Blended Malt 19 yo 2001/2020 (45.9%, Liquid Treasures, sherry butt, 377 bottles)

Blended Malt 19 yo 2001/2020 (45.9%, Liquid Treasures, sherry butt, 377 bottles) Four stars
Colour: amber. Nose: ultra-classic roasted chestnuts, chocolate, black raisins, walnut cake, maple syrup and pancake sauce, mocha, a touch of tar, a handful of black earth, and basta. Ultra-classic indeed, there’s nothing to throw here. Mouth: a few flinty notes at first, some liquorice and leather (ala Fettercairn), a meaty touch (ditto), the smallest amount of rubber (ditto), then more conventional notes of chocolate and coffee, marmalade, black raisins and some oloroso-y old walnuts. Very good. Finish: rather long, kind of smoky (wood smokiness?) and with some bitter oranges and quinine in the earthier aftertaste. Comments: super good and if you enjoy earthier sherried babies, even better.
SGP:452 - 87 points.

Blended Malt 19 yo 2001/2020 (44.9%, Watt Whisky, sherry butt, 630 bottles)

Blended Malt 19 yo 2001/2020 (44.9%, Watt Whisky, sherry butt, 630 bottles) Four stars
Oops, hope it’s not almost exactly the same whisky. I mean, I do hope it is almost exactly the same whisky, actually. Colour: amber. Nose: we’re very close indeed, this one being a little more vertical (and rather consequently, less horizontal), in the sense that there are more flints on the nose, rocks, also lovage and maybe soy sauce, although this would remain some pretty clean sherry. Other than that, coffee, chocolate, walnuts, marmalade. Mouth: almost the same this time. Flints, leather, ginger, liquorice, chocolate and coffee, walnuts, nutmeg. Hints of porcinis. Finish: rather long, perhaps with a few kirschy cherries thrown in; otherwise earthy and with a little cinchona and, naturally, walnuts. A drop of Worcester sauce too. Comments: another one that’s rather faultless.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Isn’t this a very good session?...

Highland Malt 25 yo 1995/2020 (47.5%, Maltbarn, blended malt, 48 bottles)

Highland Malt 25 yo 1995/2020 (47.5%, Maltbarn, blended malt, 48 bottles) Three stars
A slightly gimmicky little bottling that, apparently, involved both Fettercairn (again!) and Deanston. Colour: straw. Nose: I doubt I’ve ever nosed a middle-aged malt whisky that was this porridge-y and fermentary. Brake pads at Goodwood, as I said porridge, cracked pepper, old cigars, mashed turnips, eggplants, fern, rubbed pine needles and just any tree leaves, ale, and a little soft soap. No overfoaming to be expected in our tasting glass ;-). Mouth: right. How do you take this? As a part of the whisky semantics, it’s interesting and worthwhile, whereas as far as flavours are concerned, well, it’s disconcerting to put it mildly. Huge paraffin, leather, plasticine, unexpected liquorice allsorts, orange squash, strawberry and watermelon aqua fresca… Finish: rather long, rather rubbery, but the aqua fresca is still there. Comments: not exactly Dr Frankenstein’s vatting, but it is a funny drop. Perhaps even romantic… Now go score this…
SGP:462 - 80 points.

Blended Malt 18 yo 2001/2019 (46.6%, Liquor Library, sherry butt)

Blended Malt 18 yo 2001/2019 (46.6%, Liquor Library, sherry butt) Four stars
This baby for and from Australia and by the way, I’ve seen that they were selling it bundled with some ‘Nitro Dessert Stout’. So, careful now, even if the strength sounds most peaceful. Colour: amber. Nose: same style as those of the Watt and the Liquid Library, so rather all on chestnut purée, coffee, chocolate, touches of earth, mocha, black raisins, walnut cake, maple syrup… Mouth: touch of flint, touch of leather, touch of cracked pepper, otherwise chocolate and coffee all the way, plus marmalade and puréed chestnuts. Also honey-glazed roasted pecans (to try before you die, as they would say at the laziest publishers’) plus apricot and quince jam. Finish: rather long, but perhaps the softest of all 2001s. The sherry’s perfect. Comments: just so very good. Oh there, perhaps a good idea, buy several bottles from these batches and organise a large tasting session with your friends, while asking them to vote for the best. Do not forget to book ambulances.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Let’s end this new madness with a single malt…

Speyside Single Malt 1999/2020 (61.7%, Or Sileis, for Tiger Huang Taiwan, first fill sherry butt, cask #800195, 560 bottles)

Speyside Single Malt 1999/2020 (61.7%, Or Sileis, for Tiger Huang Taiwan, first fill sherry butt, cask #800195, 560 bottles) Four stars
Not hundred percent sure about the slightly gloomy label, but there, I’m sure the whisky won’t be of fantasy-Sci-Fi C-series level. Oh and yes our friends do whatever they like (as long as it’s not Brora). Colour: dark amber. Nose: chocolate and cigars all over the place and perhaps not much else, but that was to be expected at 61% vol. and some more. With water: gunpowder, struck matches, roasted chestnuts, hints of grilled steak, then rather glazed chestnuts and perhaps some chocolaty pumpkin velouté. And why not? Mouth (neat): burns you a wee bit, but you do feel some roasted chestnuts and quite some strong triple-sec. Otherwise we’re having a very chocolaty profile ala Glenfarclas. Not saying it is Glenfarclas, naturally. With water: a lot of caramel, fudge, and bags of pepper and clove. Juniper, cardamom, more pepper… Finish: really long and clearly peppery. Molasses. More gunpowder too, otherwise chocolate and marmalade. Comments: a very good yet big, rough baby looking for a fight. You’ve been warned.
SGP:561 - 85 points.
 

December 2, 2020


Whiskyfun

Insane Clynelish, a sequel session

Do you know about the whisky ‘writer’s’ Murphy’s law? It’s that as soon as you’re done with a rather large session, new whiskies from the very same distilleries would reach your doorstep right on the next morning. Granted, unless that was Brora. So, last time we ended our session with a glorious 1972 RM, let’s see what we have this time…

Clynelish 1997/2017 (55%, Kingsbury for Or Sileis Taiwan, hogshead, cask #7104, 160 bottles)

Clynelish 1997/2017 (55%, Kingsbury for Or Sileis Taiwan, hogshead, cask #7104, 160 bottles) Five stars
Well it’s not that new but it did just reach Château Whiskyfun indeed. There’s ‘the Cauldron of Duke Mao’ on the label. Some kind of giant quaich, perhaps? Colour: gold. Nose: an immediate citrony and waxy attack on your nose, then green apples, lamp petrol and chalk. Let’s cut to the quick here, in those years and in several other eras, Clynelish has been making one of the top ten distillates in the world, all kinds considered, and here it comes unmasked. Even better! With water: a little natural vanilla, bergamot, orange honey, beeswax… Mouth (neat): a little hot but amazing. Citrus, wax and chalk, another great name for a folk-rock band. Some sublime distillate from a well-mannered hogshead, is there a better combination? With water: just exceptional. Please call the Anti-Clynelishporn Brigade, the number is… Well, just look for Dornoch Castle Whisky Bar, Dornoch, Sutherland, Scotland. Finish: that lovely word that, I believe, we haven’t used too often, ‘moreish’. Comments: top-echelon Clynelish.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

Moreish? Be my guest, here’s a sister cask…

Clynelish 1997/2017 (56.3%, Kingsbury for Or Sileis Taiwan, hogshead, cask #7103, 229 bottles)

Clynelish 1997/2017 (56.3%, Kingsbury for Or Sileis Taiwan, hogshead, cask #7103, 229 bottles) Five stars
The label showcases a rock that looks like meat, or bacon I would say. Reminds me of calcite or aragonite concretions. Colour: deeper gold. Nose: good fun, this is the same make, just filled into oak that’s been slightly more active. Which would translate into a little more vanilla and butterscotch, but in moderation. Perhaps more herbs as well, even hay… But is this just as perfect? Yes it is. With water: bread, which was all we were asking for. As we sometimes say, pear eau-de-vie should taste like pear, raspberry like raspberry, and whisky like bread (that was the heavily expurgated version). Mouth (neat): sweet Vishnu! This will mature well in a good cellar and become one of the best whiskies ever, around 2040. Twenty + twenty, a sure bet (twenty in wood, twenty in glass). Finish: oh wow, it disappeared from my tasting glass quicker than Harry Houdini, what happened? Comments: one of the best things that ever came out of Scotland, after the Average White Band’s bass lines. Potentially 94+ after a few more years of tranquillity.
SGP:562 - 92 points.

Since we were in Sutherland and were mentioning Dornoch…

Distilled in Sutherland 24 yo 1996/2020 (47.2%, Thompson Bros, refill hogshead, 300 bottles)

Distilled in Sutherland 24 yo 1996/2020 (47.2%, Thompson Bros, refill hogshead, 300 bottles) Five stars
I’ve tried some Sutherland honey recently, thanks to some friends up there, and just loved it, although I’m still wondering how the bees manage to fly with all the wind… Colour: gold. Nose: no kidding, manzanilla anada? May we see that hogshead? Just a photograph of the head would suffice… So toasted bread, bergamots, overripe apples, green walnuts, paraffin, yeasty bread, yellow peaches… It sure is a different Clynelish, less straight and more complex, but wow. Some menthol too, teapots of linden tea, verbena… And yep, manzanilla anada (there isn’t much un-solera-ed manzanilla, sadly). Mouth: it is a little more fragile than the 1997s, perhaps a little more on herbal teas, and less on citrus, wax and chalk. Potpourri, jasmine, liquorice, oyster plant, borage… I believe this wonderful albeit unusual profile would go very well with food (indeed, any excuses, anytime). Finish: medium, herbal, with sweet and sour tastes, limejuice, and perhaps a drop of coconut water. Comments: the thing is, these odd casks just cannot be reproduced, and that’s part of the magic. We keep flying extremely high, captain…
SGP:461 - 90 points.

Four of them will be enough, after all this is not Clynelishfun dot com.

Clynelish 24 yo 1995/2019 (49.6%, The Whisky Cask Company, sherry butt, cask #8655, 590 bottles)

Clynelish 24 yo 1995/2019 (49.6%, The Whisky Cask Company, sherry butt, cask #8655, 590 bottles) Four stars and a half
In my meagre experience, sherry’s trickier on Clynelish, while indeed natural Clynelish may taste like dry sherry, we just had some example. Let’s see.. Colour: deep amber. Sometimes you think someone should invent a way of solidifying whisky to create beautiful gemstones…  Nose: some sweeter North-African dish, with raisins, couscous, dates and apricots. A tajine or something. Light earth, a little mint and a little tea (in the Sahara)? A pack of cigarettes. The Clynelishness is less obvious, but that’s the sherry, not the first time that happens. I’m even finding wee touches of grilled mutton – don’t I need vacations, doc? Mouth: ah, balance, it’s balanced! Clynelish is a big distillate, so sherry shouldn’t bother it too much ‘in theory’, but in my experience, uncontrolled sherrywood – let alone whacky wine casks - would trip many great spirits up. This very one tends to become rather dry and drying, but some unexpected saltiness and all these bouillony notes that just abound  here conjugate well. Bovril, Viandox, Maggi, paraffin, bitter oranges, macadamia nuts, a little leather, quite a lot raw black tea… Which gives me an idea, since black tea is meant to burn belly fat… shh… Finish: rather long, but shh… Comments: there were earl grey and raw chocolate from the sherry in the aftertaste. Very good dry Clynelish, one of the best sherried ones in my book.
SGP:372 - 88 points.

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

 

December 1, 2020


Whiskyfun

Clynelish Insanity

I heard you complaining about the fact that I haven’t tried any Clynelishes since the month of August this year. I feel shame indeed, but we’ll remedy the situation immediately. By the way, it looks like the old Clynelish Distillery, so the new Brora, is already operable, they just aren’t distilling BPS yet. Greatest of news, don’t you think! So let’s celebrate accordingly, with a good load of ‘new’ Clynelish, selected more or less at random, for more fun…

A Highland Distillery 10 yo 2010/2020 (58.4%, Watt Whisky, 280 bottles)

A Highland Distillery 10 yo 2010/2020 (58.4%, Watt Whisky, 280 bottles) Five stars
Naturally, no one will tell anyone about what’s actually in this bottle. These secret malt whiskies are really getting boring, but on the other hand, better secret and good than disclosed and bad, as James Bond would have said. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: whelks and seaweed smoke (beach) over paraffin, olive oil and the most acidic green pears that ever existed. Wonderful Sancerre-y tension. With water: the louder wax and paraffin really gives it away. Mouth (neat): when youth is an asset. Extremely tense once again, punchy, lemony and chalky, with some olive brine, those green pears and some green apples too, then an unexpected slightly Laphroaiggy development, leading us towards cough syrup and, perhaps, Jamaican high-ester rum. It’s a brilliant drop, just wondering if the cask hadn’t sheltered some other very characterful spirit before. We’ll never know, I suppose… With water: when citrons and grapefruits are chiming in while the waxiness got even bigger, doubts dissipate. Finish: long, tense and tight, really all on wax, seawater, lime juice and chalk. Some coastal smoke too. Unbeatable. Fat green olives in the aftertaste. Comments: totally on the Axis of Good that runs from HP to Springbank via Clynelish and Ben Nevis. No, that’s all very personal.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

What would be good now would be to have a proper Clynelish 2010 and check if what I’ve written wasn’t just twaddle… 

 

 

 

Clynelish 10 yo 2010/2020 (55.3%, The Single Malts of Scotland for LMDW, bourbon barrel, cask #700045, 238 bottles)

Clynelish 10 yo 2010/2020 (55.3%, The Single Malts of Scotland for LMDW, bourbon barrel, cask #700045, 238 bottles)
Colour: full gold. Nose: well, it’s to be wondered if they haven’t been smoking some of their batches in 2010, as I’m finding this pretty peaty and, once again, medicinal. Or was that the cask? I doubt it, rather feels first fil. Some big fermentary aromas, dough, leaven, mash, green barley, ale… This is very intriguing. With water: farmyard, cow dung, hay, grist… Really? Mouth (neat): ah yes, here we are, with loud grapefruits and waxes, but once again the peat is very obvious. Almost Caol-Ila obvious, to give you an idea. With water: some parts go well with Clynelish (citron skin, paraffin) but others are a little off the marks (burnt hessian, peat). This one’s very mysterious… Finish: long, medicinal, waxy, with a little tobacco. Comments: something may have been mislabelled here, a barrel, a file, a label… Or did some Ardbeg-Serendipity-like event occur? (Did anyone buy that story at that time?) Now it’s a very excellent drop, for sure, it’s just not very Clynelish.
SGP:455 - 86 points.

 

 

 

We could try another similar vintage…

Clynelish 8 yo 2011/2020 (58%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 26-145, 2nd fill barrel, ‘Mood-lifting sanctuary’,  239 barrels)

Clynelish 8 yo 2011/2020 (58%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, 26-145, 2nd fill barrel, ‘Mood-lifting sanctuary’,  239 barrels) Three stars and a half
Eight years in second-fill, that’s really young, even for Clynelish. Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed, some notes of UHU glue and acetone remain, model glue (that’s not silicone), fresh almonds, fresh paint, then indeed candlewax, paraffin, plum eau-de-vie, and only touches of vanilla. Water is necessary. With water: pulls the pears out. Kirsch, williams pears, lamp oil, graphite oil… And a pack of jellybeans. Mouth (neat): it is, indeed, eau-de-vie de barley, with some rough doughs, ethanol, kirsch, varnish, lemon oil, gin… With water: more Clynelishness, with a little salt and more citrus coming out. Very good now. Finish: pretty long, bonbony and waxy, still a bit of a baby Clynelish, in my opinion. Comments: I prefer them with a few more years, or perhaps a little more cask action (yes, Serge at the keyboard) but on the other hand, it’s a good opportunity to try a great malt whisky in the making.
SGP:541 - 84 points.

Oh while we’re at it (S., please go down the vintages after you’ve tried this one!)

Clynelish 9 yo 2011/2020 (60.1%, Single Cask Nation, refill bourbon, cask #800315, 244 bottles)

Clynelish 9 yo 2011/2020 (60.1%, Single Cask Nation, refill bourbon, cask #800315, 244 bottles) Four stars and a half
A brand new one by our relieved friends over there in America. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s amusing that this one would be more mature after just a few extra-months. I suppose the cask was more active too. In short, no more jelly babies and Haribo’s best and rather a little less glue and varnish, while more citron liqueur and just beeswax are joining in. Cherry liqueur and almonds too. A little hot at 60% vol., though, so as usual… With water: immaculate young Clynelish. Sea air, wax, limoncello, a few amaretti. Mouth (neat): way too strong, naturally, but it seems that everything’s well in place, rather ready to rock and roll… With water: indeed. Pure young modern Clynelish, rather tart, citrusy (tangerines), zesty, with the tiniest drop of lavender oil. Finish: rather long, saltier again, with a prolonged waxiness. Some olive brine and perhaps a little charcoal and a few pencil shavings in the aftertaste. I suppose we’ll soon rather mention iPad shavings, ha. Comments: but what a distillate! By the way, does Joe Biden enjoy whisky?
SGP:552 - 88 points.

Secret Highland 2010/2020 (53.3%, Les Grands Alambics, birds, bourbon barrel)

Secret Highland 2010/2020 (53.3%, Les Grands Alambics, birds, bourbon barrel) Five stars
I suppose this one did stem from the same Distillery… By the way, it’s amazing how many indie bottlers were influenced by Moon Import’s labels. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: yes, paraffin, lamp oil, perhaps even a little rubber this time, charcoal, a little bacon… Also dough, grist, fresh bread, new Wellies, green smoke (pine wood)… Even a touch of lapsang souchong mind you. With water: oh, new wool and old Harris tweed, paraffin, Barbour. Mouth (neat): didn’t we say we’d rather start to tackle older vintages? But this is brilliant, pretty much in the style of the Watt Whisky, with this funny Jamaican side. Must be the olives. Otherwise lemons, chalk, wax. Just perfect. With water: gets very oily once reduced, that’s typically Clynelish. Lemons, citrons and brine too. Finish: rather long, salty, waxy… With this feeling of having a margarita in your glass, which can be pretty Clynelish too, provided it was top-notch tequila. Comments: forget about that tequila thing. Great young Clynelish, state of the art, to be cellared until around the year 2040. Oh just put them with the Montrachets.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

We said down the vintages…

Distilled in Sutherland 20 yo 2000/2020 (53.2%, Thompson Bros for MPC Lab Taiwan, 309 bottles)

Distilled in Sutherland 20 yo 2000/2020 (53.2%, Thompson Bros for MPC Lab Taiwan, 309 bottles) Four stars and a half
Those cats on the label are leaving no doubt… this should be rather wily whisky! Oh and is a 2000 really 20 years old now? Isn't time flying faster and faster? s! Colour: hay. Nose: my, those camphory, slightly acetic, and rather umami-y  batches! Many soups and bouillons, waxes of course, tobaccos, new rubber bands (or those Wellies), bicycle inner tube, old books, ink, patchouli… Well, twenty’s such a perfect age, even if this is no typical Clynelish. With water: wool, plasticine, porridge, grapefruit juice and grist. Totally different now. Mouth (neat): super-good, spicy, on breads and tapioca, nutmeg, white pepper… This one’s been ‘moved’. Caraway, olives, tapenade, rum… Indeed very good, just a bit un-Clynelish, but after all, nowhere does it say this is Clynelish, so why am I (kind of) complaining? With water: gets very salty, on breads, olive bread, anchovies… Finish: long, saltier yet. Olives and their brine, which we’d just kill for. Comments: granted, this is not a textbook Clynelish at all, and there are more olives than waxes, but I like it. And it’s not only rock and roll (lame at best, S.)
SGP:362 - 89 points.

 

 

 

Clynelish 22 yo ‘Marriage’ (55.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland, 2020)

Clynelish 22 yo ‘Marriage’ (55.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland, 2020)
A hogshead and a butt married together. Hey, did we ever see some whisky casks divorce? Imagine Ardbeg telling Auchentoshan, ‘that’s it, I’m bored, I leave, you may keep the wood!’ Anyway, should be mid-to-late 1990s Clynelish, so we remain confident… Colour: gold. Nose: the paraffin and plasticine are louder in these batches, which are certainly much waxier than their younger siblings. New magazines, apple peelings, pinesap, fir resins, propolis (huge), walnuts… Well it’s not a very glam Clynelish this far, but there might be echoes of ‘old’ Clynelish, so let us remain alert and awake... With water: Old Clynelish! I’m mean, the Cadenhead branch! Iron and walnuts, wax, soy sauce, dried kelp and so on. Mouth (neat): a blend of old liqueurs and cordials, a feeling that’s not uncommon with some Clynelishes. Benedictine, Fernet-Branca, Jäger, Cointreau, natural tar liqueur (the name escapes me)… Oh and limoncello, naturally. With water: oh! Fantastic! Please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade, will you! Finish: sadly. Comments: I’m not a huge fan of sherried Clynelish, but I have to say this well-balanced - although characterful - marriage makes greatest use of such casks. Actually they have, indeed, replicated Old Clynelish, perhaps unwillingly (but I doubt it). We should do medals at WF, while we always said we’d never do that. Good, drum rolls please, WF’s Stuffy Virtual Gold goes to… this stunning baby! BTW, that’ll be £3,500.00. Okay, a glass of Pol Roger next time.
SGP:462 - 92 points.

 

 

 

Gee, where do we go now?...

Clynelish 25 yo 1993/2019 (54.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill American hogshead, batch #19/079, 220 bottles)

Clynelish 25 yo 1993/2019 (54.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill American hogshead, batch #19/079, 220 bottles) Four stars and a half
I suppose that would be refill American oak hogshead. Colour: gold. Nose: gee indeed. Sublime oils and waxes, breads, cakes, honeys, cactus, dried flowers, herbal teas… It is all oh so subtle, and yet tight and coherent… This is why I believe Clynelish is one of the very few first grands crus of Scotch. With water: church candles and temple incense, this is genuine oecumenical whisky! Mouth (neat): sublime indeed. Extremely dense, fat and oily, and yet kind of aerial, with many olives, medicinal touches, and just a drop of grenadine, that could be its only faux-pas. Water will tell… With water: not too sure, some sweetish touches of grenadine, or poppy syrup, do remain there. They’re lovely indeed, but perhaps a tad irrelevant in this context. Starting to split hairs at WF Towers, which means that this little session ought to come to an end soon. No, believe me. Finish: long, waxy, doughy, but the grenadine is still there. Stephen King could have written a novel about this one. Comments: a rather gentler style of Clynelish, but it’s always very tough to come after a glory such as Elixirs ‘marriage’, even if we always keep all the glasses on the table.
SGP:552 - 89 points.

Good, let’s talk…

Clynelish 21 yo 1979/2000 (62.3%, The Bottlers, refill sherry hogshead, cask #8333)

Clynelish 21 yo 1979/2000 (62.3%, The Bottlers, refill sherry hogshead, cask #8333) Four stars
Remember Raeburn’s The Bottlers used to reign supreme on top of our rankings, as far as indie bottlers were concerned. The fact that they became virtually unactive quite a while back was one of this world’s main scandals, together with Zappa dropping Ponty and Aston-Martin going for AMG engines. Yep. Now remember, the late 1970s were absolutely not Clynelish’s best vintages, by far. Colour: gold. Nose: burnt Brussels sprouts and black cigars (those Toscani we sometimes mention), then soy sauce, old copper coins, oloroso, bitter chocolate, walnut wine and Bovril. We’ll keep this short because of the high strength. With water: thin mints, amontillado, mocha, carbon paper, oxtail soup, fumes… Sounds great but I would say it somewhat lacks focus. Typical late 1970s ‘lish. Mouth (neat): very strong and a tad uncertain. High-peppered marmalade, raw chocolate, silver, mint and black tea… This is certainly not an easy drop – oh and 62.3% vol. With water: not easy indeed, even at +/-45% vol. Leathery, with some chocolate and Thai beef soup, old walnuts, Maggi, glutamate, pepper, potash salt, ink… Finish: long, salty, a little leathery. More glutamate, readymade Chinese soups, raw fair-trade chocolate (I’m joking, fair-trade shouldn’t impact the taste…) I just hope that given Brexit, we’ll never see fair-trade Scotch whisky coming to our shores! I AM joking. Comments: let’s remain honest, these batches have never been high-hitters. Even when seen from 2020. But his one sure is one the best, if you ask me.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

A very last one would be in order, but let’s make it one of the rarest 1972s!

Clynelish 22 yo 1972 (58.64%, OB, Rare Malts, USA, 750ml, +/-1995)

Clynelish 22 yo 1972/1995 (58.64%, OB, Rare Malts, USA, 750ml) Five stars
We had this one via Skype with a bunch of lovely young friends from Canton (China, not Ohio) the other day. Time to have it in a quieter, albeit less friendly environment… Colour: pale gold. Nose: of course. Clynelish was a very young distillery when this was produced, as it wasn’t even five, and yet they had managed to hit immaculate and definitive glory. Well, I agree that’s just a personal opinion. We’ll simply mention ‘a beehive’, some citron marmalade, and a great old Graves blanc from a super vintage. Ite missa est. With water: very impressionistic. Or rather pointillistic. Myriads of tiny aromas everywhere, and yet a feeling of a massive, almost monolithic whole. Beeswax, this is pure beeswax. Mouth (neat): one of these things that leave you speechless. Mouton 2000, Robuchon’s purée, a Bugatti Atalante, Coltrane’s My Favourite Things, Donald Trump`s concession speech, the last scene of The Queen’s Gambit, or indeed this Clynelish Rare Malts (find the odd-one-out). Pure ambrosia, or the most stunning mead ever produced by gods. It’s all about waxes and honeys, you know. With water: impressive. Citrus, herbs, honeys, waxes, flowers… And strictly all subcategories. This session is way too long already, otherwise I would have started to list a few… Finish: long and always on this utterly perfect balance between anything made by bees and some glorious old white wines. Comments: some say these Clynelishes were a little cerebral. I would disagree, although I'm sure they do improve the neurotransmitters in your brain - but don't quote me.
SGP:551 - 94 points.

(Danke Schoen Gene, KC, Pierre-Alexandre, Tim and other friends)

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


November 2020 - part 2 <--- December 2020 - part 1 ---> December 2020 - part 2


 

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Clynelish 22 yo 1972/1995 (58.64%, OB, Rare Malts, USA, 750ml)

Clynelish 1997/2017 (55%, Kingsbury for Or Sileis Taiwan, hogshead, cask #7104, 160 bottles)

Clynelish 1997/2017 (56.3%, Kingsbury for Or Sileis Taiwan, hogshead, cask #7103, 229 bottles)

Clynelish 22 yo ‘Marriage’ (55.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland, 2020)

A Highland Distillery 10 yo 2010/2020 (58.4%, Watt Whisky, 280 bottles) 

Distilled in Sutherland 24 yo 1996/2020 (47.2%, Thompson Bros, refill hogshead, 300 bottles)

Highland Park 30 yo (43.1%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, 2020)

Highland Park 20 yo 1959/1979 (43%, OB, for Ferraretto Italy, 75cl)

Octomore 5 yo 2014/2020 ‘Edition 11.3’ (61.7%, OB)

Secret Highland 2010/2020 (53.3%, Les Grands Alambics, birds, bourbon barrel)

Secret Orkney 12 yo 2005/2018 (57%, Cooper’s Choice for Hot Malt Taiwan, cask #26, 360 bottles)

Secret Orkney 1999/2020 (51.9%, Dutch Whisky Connection, 157 bottles) 

Secret Speyside 26 yo 1993/2020 (47.7%, Dutch Whisky Connection)

Caroni 22 yo 1998/2020 (57.5%, Compagnie des Indes, Trinidad, 287 bottles)

Foursquare 12 yo ‘Sagacity’ (48%, OB, Barbados, 2019)

Hampden ‘Great House Distillery Edition 2020’ (59%, OB, Jamaica) 

Neisson 15 yo 2004/2020 ‘Batch 3’ (48.7%, OB, Martinique, bourbon)

Uitvlugt-Port Mourant 22 yo 1998/2020 (61.1%, Tamosi Karaya, Guyana)

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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