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Hi, you're in the Archives, December 2021 - Part 2

       

December 2021 - part 1 <--- December 2021 - part 2 ---> Current entries

 

December 22, 2021


Whiskyfun
Imperial like crazy

Imperial

Imperial Distillery in 2011 (Andrew Wood)

To us Frenchmen, Imperial can only refer to our last emperor, Napoléon III, who wasn't exactly 'a sword', as we say in French. Only our friends across the Channel could have both an empire and a queen or a king. Strange… Anyway, there was also an Imperial Distillery, which stopped producing in 1998 and was subsequently demolished in 2013, before Chivas/Pernod built a new Distillery, Dalmunach, on its very site. Let's have a few Imperials if you please, totally at random.

Imperial 25 yo 1996/2021 (53.6%, Watt Whisky, refill barrel)

Imperial 25 yo 1996/2021 (53.6%, Watt Whisky, refill barrel) Five stars
I might be wrong, but I have the impression that bottlers who are located in the UK are fonder of Imperial than the ones who are established elsewhere. A matter of nostalgia? Colour: gold. Nose: I believe the word perfect has different meanings, but English is only my second language, if not my third one. This, is perfect, it's got malt, barley, cake, all pastries, wines and meads and beers, plus this slight earthiness that will always enhance any whisky. With water: just perfect. A fresh panettone, while I'm a sucker for panettone. They'll soon call me Mr Panettone at home. Mouth (neat): undisputable. Overripe apples, IPAs, mangos, preserved apricots, acacia honey, great chardonnay. We would even describe it as being 'Meursaulty', even if we won't mention Coche or the Counts. Well we just did. With water: even better. Oranges and peppered tangerines or something. Finish: long and chalkier, tenser, even more lemony. Comments: wine whisky. I mean, whisky for wine people. Now remind me where that Masai emblem on the label came from?
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Imperial 23 yo 1997/2020 (45.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland, for the USA, barrel, cask #2798, 151 bottle)

Imperial 23 yo 1997/2020 (45.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland, for the USA, barrel, cask #2798, 151 bottle) Four stars and a half
In theory, this should be quick. Elixir/TSMOS are Imperial specialists. Colour: light gold. Nose: acacia honey and mango chutney, then maple syrup and beeswax. There's nothing you can do against this profile, just bow and say your prayers. Mouth: heather honey, orange cordial, dough, fresh panettone, barley syrup, crushed bananas, all that at a perfect strength that doesn't even call for water. Vittel is getting expensive! Finish: medium, honeyed, a tad waxy. Comments: the Watt was a tad more tense and nervous, thus deserved one extra-point in my book. But this quasi-fruit-bomb is just absolutely superb too.
SGP:641 - 89 points.

America it is…

Imperial 24 yo 1996/2020 (54.6%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon barrel, cask #3420, 184 bottles)

Imperial 24 yo 1996/2020 (54.6%, Single Cask Nation, bourbon barrel, cask #3420, 184 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: gold. Nose: what happened to Scotland in 1996? A comet? Did the Sun Ra Arkestra tour the country? The Stranglers? Did aliens take over the distilleries? Why are all these malt whiskies so good? Do vintage effects actually exist in whisky? When was the barley actually harvested, in 1995 or in 1996?... And where? … … I say those are the issues whisky youtubers should be busy with! Vanilla, honey, all-vitamin fruit juice, mead, nougat, etc. With water: same. Very nice. Mouth (neat): brilliant, malty, brioche-y, with some banana jam and just, indeed, a large fresh panettone. I believe I need to go see a shrink so that he/she would de-panettone-ise me. With water: raisin rolls and a drop of triple-sec blended with mint cream. Otherwise more honeys, earl grey… Peach skins too. Finish: same notes for a long time and a leafier and more tea-ish aftertaste. Comments: just between us, I wouldn't have demolished the Distillery, even if I'm sure they were having 'very good reasons'. High marks.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Fast-forward please…

Imperial 22 yo 1998/2020 (52.1%, Chapter 7, bourbon barrel, cask #104355, 218 bottles)

Imperial 22 yo 1998/2020 (52.1%, Chapter 7, bourbon barrel, cask #104355, 218 bottles) Four stars and a half
From the last year, sniff-sniff… Colour: straw. Nose: some fresher fruits, perhaps some melons, vanilla, whiffs of cellulose (varnish), peaches, bananas… This is a little different. With water: still a little varnishy and even waxy. Lovely fresh barley, grist, ground grains of all sorts, beers…  Mouth (neat): hypra-good, earthier, as if the cask had been used for a light peater before. You never know. This gives this baby a pleasant Ardmore-y side, then peaches indeed, melons, prickly pears, honey… With water: fruit peelings, leaves, softer bitters… Water really made it change direction. Some slightly medicinal smoke for sure – where did that come from? Finish: long and even smokier. Ardmore-y indeed. Lemon foam (really?) Comments: a different, tighter Imperial. The thing is, I like it just as much.
SGP:461 - 88 points.

Imperial 21 yo 1997/2019 (49.6%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, retro label, cask #2471, 169 bottles)

Imperial 21 yo 1997/2019 (49.6%, Elixir Distillers, Whisky Trail, retro label, cask #2471, 169 bottles) Four stars and a half
Late as ever indeed, but why retro label? All whiskies are going retro anyway, if not retro-futuristic, are they not? Granted, just not the ones for China… (Paco Rabanne and Givenchy, get ready!) Colour: straw. Nose: honey, barley syrup, biscuits, old champagne, mead, sweet bitters (amer bière, Picon, stuff like that). Mouth: naturally. Very good, peach skins, apples, prickly pears, IPA, high-level cider, mead, touches of beeswax, citrons. Finish: medium fresh, citrusy, waxy and earthy in the aftertaste. Comments: I particularly liked this one. Indeed, late as ever.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

I'm afraid this is all going to be a 88-90 thing. Unless we would try to go a bit down the vintages…

Imperial 28 yo (40.8%, Elixir Distillers, Marriage, 600 bottles, 2020)

Imperial 28 yo (40.8%, Elixir Distillers, Marriage, 600 bottles, 2020) Three stars
Possibly a marriage of convenience, according to the strength here. Perhaps one or two wizened old casks that were in the need of some doping-up? Indeed no less than five barrels have been married together here – but that may work, just ask Springbank. Colour: light gold. Nose: mead and vanilla, then pear and apple ciders, then old cellar and moist old magazines. Say The New Yorker. Mouth: just very good. Some greenish oak for sure, hashish, banana skins, mead again, fruit peelings… Now it does tend to become a little tea-ish, rather with green tea. Finish: short to medium, green, tea-ish, leafy. A green tannicity. Comments: the limitations of this exercise, I would suppose. Really good and certainly not a wet noodle, but not quite my favourite. Ha, marriage!
SGP:461 - 82 points.

Quick, redemption…

Imperial 24 yo 1995/2020 (51.5%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon, cask #7854, 127 bottles)

Imperial 24 yo 1995/2020 (51.5%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon, cask #7854, 127 bottles) Five stars
A tiny outturn but hurray, it made it to France! Colour: white wine. Nose: pristine, almost crystalline waxy and doughy arrival, then porridge, wool and fermenting chalk. Oh come on, I know perfectly well that chalk wouldn't ferment, that was a figure of speech. With water: chalk and plasticine. Mouth (neat): fantastic waxiness ala Clynelish and grapefruits. Enough said. With water: bing and bang (are you all right, S.?) Finish: long and more vertical than the Empire State Building. Comments: exactly my kind. I suppose it's sold-out; what is this society coming to?
SGP:551 - 90 points.

Imperial 25 yo 1995/2020 (48.2%, LMDW, Artist #10, hogshead, cask #50270, 197 bottles)

Imperial 25 yo 1995/2020 (48.2%, LMDW, Artist #10, hogshead, cask #50270, 197 bottles) Four stars
Came with a lovely Rothko-y label. Indeed we're late, once again. Colour: straw. Nose: a similar chalky arrival, then waxes and oils of all kinds, including mint oil, but also rather a lot of woody elements, eucalyptus wood, teak, thuja, taxus… It'll happen on the palate, I would suppose… Mouth: thick, tight, and this time, Sancerry rather than Meursaulty. One day, my wine friends will execute me in the public square, forcing me to down 10cl of a Macallan finished for three weeks in PX! Now this little imperial is excellent and would tend to become more piney over time. Finish: rather long but maybe a little too green, gingery… The wood really starts to feel. Comments: upper-echelon Imperial for sure, it's just lacking the fruity brightness that others would have had.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Let's call this a proper Imperial session, and please allow me to bow out…

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

 

December 21, 2021


Whiskyfun

Another little bag of whatever malts

Santa
But we won't try the ones we're totally sure about, such as those 'Secret Orkneys' or those 'Northernmost Islay malts' or those 'Stars of Sutherland'… Bu we'll do this randomly!

A Fine Christmas Malt 16 yo (53.2%, The Whisky Exchange, 2021)

A Fine Christmas Malt 16 yo (53.2%, The Whisky Exchange, 2021) Four stars
All right honey, London says this was distilled on Orkney. Not a bad place to make whisky, uh? (S., even Boris would have done better in this situation, really, you do not make WF's readers proud). Colour: straw. Nose: peanut oil (love), banana cake (love), panettone (ueber-love), quinces (love) and just grist and fresh kougelhopf. With water: sameish, just breadier, doughier, more on beers and all kinds of fermented things, including beers and wines. Mouth (neat): super good, oily, grassy and peely, with excellent thick fruits (green bananas) and bitter almonds. With water: as good as it gets. Provided this is, indeed, HP, I would say it's a nod closer to the OBs than to the now usual 'Secret Orkneys', perhaps thanks to some refill sherry or something. Finish: rather long, saltier, with a menthol/liquorice combo that would just always work. Pickled lemons in the aftertaste. Comments: great drop. I suppose the whole lot ought to be downed before December 25.
SGP:363 - 87 points.

Islay Single Malt 33 yo 1985/2021 (47.1%, C. Dully Selection, refill hogshead, refill hogshead, cask #8, 98 bottles)

Islay Single Malt 33 yo 1985/2021 (47.1%, C. Dully Selection, refill hogshead, refill hogshead, cask #8, 98 bottles) Four stars and a half
I know, the numbers don't add-up, let's not care. Colour: light gold. Nose: I'm lost. Not smoky enough for the south shore, neither is it for CI, while to my knowledge, neither Bunna nor the Laddie were doing any peaters back in 1985… Could this really be Bowmore 1985? But then where's the lavender perfume? The Parma Violets? The shampoos? Even the plasticine? It is a soft yet assertive coastal malt of good age and of high elegance, with marvellous notes of seashells, kelp, old boat, gherkins, and of one of the most entrancing liquids ever made by Man, Gentian eau-de-vie! Now, to be honest, the bottler here being Swiss, I'm starting to wonder if he did not add a few litres of Gebirgs Enzian to the bottling (I for one would have done it). Mouth: yeah you do feel the lavender sweets and even the cologne, but those notes would mingle with some seawater and crushed kippers. The mid-1980s-Bowmoreness feels more on the palate, but frankly, we're far from those deeply FWPed batches of old. Very smart selection. Finish: long and extremely briny. Oysters and tinned gherkins. Extreme aftertaste on salted liquorice. Comments: woo-hoo, that was some ride. Lousy writers would have added that this is both an historical and an hysterical bottling. I'm one of them for sure.
SGP:364 - 89 points.

Big Peat 'Christmas Edition 2021' (52.8%, Douglas Laing)

Big Peat 'Christmas Edition 2021' (52.8%, Douglas Laing) Four stars
They keep doing it and they do it right. Good fun, even if good old Captain Haddock may start to feel a little tired. To think that this series started with a noticeable proportion of Port Ellen inside… Colour: white wine. Nose: feels very young. Smoked and tarred pears, fish oil, whelks, drops of engine oil and benzine, plasticine, fresh almond paste, fresh plaster… With water: more fresh plaster, concrete, even Islay mud, grist, semolina… Mouth (neat): sweet pears, lemons, and brine. That's the thing, the combo would just always work, since controlled diversity (what?) always adds complexity. With water: works. Salted root juice and lemons, plus crushed sardines and cigarette ashes. Finish: long, perhaps a tad sweet (pears), but very good. Eucalyptus and liquid propolis in the aftertaste, as well as a small rubberness. Comments: feels young but it's very good and at least they did not burry it under tons of butterscotch.
SGP:476 - 86 points.

Blended Scotch Whisky 18 yo 2003/2021 (56.3%, Watt Whisky, hogshead)

Blended Scotch Whisky 18 yo 2003/2021 (56.3%, Watt Whisky, hogshead) Three stars and a half
Since, according to some, Edrington have started selling their malts to brokers or blenders as 'blended scotch' lately, everybody's starting to believe that any blended Scotch around is Macallan (*). Even Passport and The Claymore. Ha. Colour: gold. Nose: a tight, muscovado-y, nutty arrival on the nose, then cakes and biscuits. Roasted peanuts and black nougat. Move along! With water: very viscimetrical. Loads of barley syrup, agave syrup, roasted chestnuts, fudge, raisin rolls, cinnamon donuts… Mouth (neat): exactly. Pear eau-de-vie aged in deep-charred oak, caramel, fudges, butterscotch, pear cake and Guinness. With water: maltier. Brown ales, peppery tobaccos, some chlorophyll, bell pepper… Finish: long and bitterer. Comments: I would doubt anyone's actually 'blended' this; this is not a blender's work. I could be wrong, but there, my very humble tuppence.
SGP:561 - 83 points.
(*) Update, this is Inverhouse stock.

Speyside 1998/2021 (51.6%, The Maltman, Or Sileis, first fill sherry cask, cask #1389)

Speyside 1998/2021 (51.6%, The Maltman, Or Sileis, first fill sherry cask, cask #1389) Four stars
That's the main problem, we've got dozens and dozens of samples of whiskies that are labelled as 'Speyside' while we just wouldn't know whether those were 'anonymous' Speysiders or malts from the Speyside Distillery. We'll never known and shall probably dump them sooner or later. Yeah or redistill them. Colour: red amber. Nose: gunpower and walnuts, Spanish ham, cigars, copper, rose petals, metal polish, cedarwood. More than okay… With water: more walnuts, mutton, metal polish and compost. Mouth (neat): good, a fruitier, fresher kind of sherry monster, with a lot of blood orange and orange cake. Very good, actually, even if the cask did all the work, or so it would seem. With water: bitter tobaccos and dried herbs. A feeling of bone-dry oloroso, extremely on walnuts and polishes. Finish: long, meaty, a tad sulphury. Good nuts and beef ham in the aftertaste, plus a lot of proper chocolate. Comments: heavily cask-influenced, not sure the distillery had anything to say. What was the distillery? The end result's way above average, though.
SGP:462 - 85 points.

Black Friday 22 yo (49.2%, The Whisky Exchange, 2021)

Black Friday 22 yo (49.2%, The Whisky Exchange, 2021) Three stars and a half
Black Friday, not quite our thing. So we're fashionably late, I would say. Have you ever heard of Pink Tuesday? Colour: light gold. Nose: bits of grated coconut, touches of camphor, ideas of mint essence, embrocations… With water: porridge with slices of over-bruised bananas. Mouth (neat): fine malt whisky, really, rather on the safer vanilla-ed side. Some bitter herbs. With water: some malt, stout, toffee… Finish: same for a rather long time. More toffee yet in the aftertaste, as well as some sourness. Bitter pears? Comments: good but who cares, we're very late anyway. Tja, Black Friday… London's Christmas malt was in a whole different dimension. And why not blue Mondays? Seriously, you don't do Black Fridays…
SGP:551 - 83 points.

Aurora Aldehyde 41 yo 1980/2021 (46.2%, London Whisky Show 2021, Superheroes of Flavour, blended Scotch, sherry butt)

Aurora Aldehyde 41 yo 1980/2021 (46.2%, London Whisky Show 2021, Superheroes of Flavour, blended Scotch, sherry butt) Three stars
A 3D bottle. You see, everyone's believing that these are Macallan, while they might be Whyte & MacKay. So, disclose if you can, or pay the consequences… Colour: deep amber. Nose: roasted nuts and cereals, maple syrup and pancake sauce, peanut butter, millionaire shortbread, sesame oil, turon, figs… Very nice nose, even if it does not quite feel '41'. With water: copper polish, earth, old ointments, pine resin, perhaps vase water. Not that it would fall apart but it sure lost focus. Mouth (neat): very good, if a little extreme, too peppery and too herbal. Underberg at the power of ten and oversteeped thyme tea. With water: this metallic side, old nuts, earth, herbal liqueurs, Jäger and stuff… It lost all oomph, I'm afraid. Finish: over the hill, grassy, drying, lacking body. The aftertaste is very herbal, very grassy. Some coconut butter too. Comments: lovely label and great fun, but the juice was a bit tired, if I humbly may say. After all, 1980, that's Duran Duran.
SGP:361 - 82 points.

Another try…

Captain Congener 20 yo 2001/2021 (57.6%, London Whisky Show 2021, Superheroes of Flavour)

Captain Congener 20 yo 2001/2021 (57.6%, London Whisky Show 2021, Superheroes of Flavour) Four stars
A journey through intergalactic ethanology, they said. So, Glenfarclas (no?) Colour: deep gold. Nose: some mentholated leaves and fruit peelings plus a little pine resin and hand cream, marmalade, raisins... A rather fat make, with a grassy and greasy backbone as well as a grassier kind of sherry indeed. With water: autumn leaves and old walnuts, verbena liqueur, more pine resin. Indeed, Christmas tree. Mouth (neat): hot, very punchy, with a smokiness as well, Seville oranges, herbal teas, allspice… With water: gets fruitier, with more oranges, some cinchona, bitters, Campari and walnuts. Big bespoke sherriness. Finish: long and leafy, peppery. Rather green walnuts in the aftertaste, as well as a few dry black raisins. Comments: a tad folksy, which in my book is rather typical. I find it very good and it seems that the price is very right, should you enjoy these leafy/grassy sherry monsters. Moderately monstrous.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Compass Box 'Wisdom' (50.1%, La Maison du Whisky, blended Scotch, Artist #11, Pentalogy, 654 bottles, 2021)

Compass Box 'Wisdom' (50.1%, La Maison du Whisky, blended Scotch, Artist #11, Pentalogy, 654 bottles, 2021) Four stars
We've already had some lovely compadres from this new series. It is technically a blend, but I would suspect it is very, and I mean very malt-driven. Colour: gold. Nose: a lot of marzipan and a lot of beeswax at first, then linseed oil, rubbed fern, white nougat, cider apples, jujubes, stewed rhubarb and preserved greengages. Everything's perfect here, it is subtle, fresh, elegant… No water needed but still… With water: aren't we rather in Craigellachie? This is maltier and with many more roasted nuts. Pecan pie and energy bar. Mouth (neat): a tad cakier now, less purely waxy, with a little coffee or rather coffee liqueur, chicory coffee, roasted chestnuts… Are these the possible grains speaking out? With water: more leafiness and some spicier, almost green oak. Bears some resemblance with the Captain Congener. Finish: long, good, leafier indeed, but also with even more toffee and coffee. Chestnut honey in the aftertaste. Comments: an intriguing and excellent combination.
SGP:461 - 86 points.

Some unapologetical single malt please…

Secret Speyside 30 yo 1990/2021 (53.2%, The Whisky Jury, refill barrel, cask #TWJ-GR-1990, 263 bottles)

Secret Speyside 30 yo 1990/2021 (53.2%, The Whisky Jury, refill barrel, cask #TWJ-GR-1990, 263 bottles) Four stars and a half
So no sherry this time. I believe more and more that those sherry-seasoned casks have to be perfect or should just not be used. On the other hand, the Jerezians and other bodegas in the south of Spain deeply need this business… Colour: gold. Nose: but naturally, this is brighter, purer, zestier, more refreshing even on the nose, better chiselled and with a clearer maltiness. With water: breads and cakes, plus dried yellow fruits and pastry dough, as well as whiffs of new dandelions very early in the mornin'. That is to say before the bees have come and plundered all the nectar. Mouth (neat): overripe apples, lemon zests, macaroons and finger biscuits, lemon tarte (with meringue) and tiny touches of papayas. As good as it gets. It is a rather 'lighter' Speysider. With water: excellent 'lightish' Speysider indeed, with good herbal teas and just a dollop of fir resin. Chamomile, vanilla, touches of aniseed. Finish: medium, clean, malty, fruity and herbal. Some grassier honey in the aftertaste, and just a little green pepper. And grapefruit. Comments: as good as it gets. Yeah, most bourbon casks work, while sherry casks ought to be perfect.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

A last one…

Secret Speyside 30 yo 1990/2021 (46.6%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #TWJ-GL-1990, 159 bottles)

Secret Speyside 30 yo 1990/2021 (46.6%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #TWJ-GL-1990, 159 bottles) Five stars
I would suppose this is the same distillery, only filled in a hogshead instead of a barrel. Colour: deep gold. Nose: bingo, let's turn off the light and double lock the door, this session is over. Stunning orange blossom water, earl grey, praline, macchiato, acacia honey, proper homemade custard,  and, dare I add, Bailey's Irish Cream. I know, I know. Mouth: exactly. Late harvest riesling, more earl grey, honeysuckle, zucchini flowers, sultanas and just a little popcorn. Mirabelle eau-de-vie. Finish: rather long, fresh, fruity, complex, rather on more orange blossom and citrons. Comments: splendid and even a notch superior to the barrel version. But let me issue a warning, it is dangerously drinkable; they should add that to the labels.
SGP:651 - 90 points.
 

December 20, 2021


Whiskyfun

Oscar Wilde And Other Crazy Irish

Jameson
Remember this incredibly unlikely old advert for Jameson's? How times have changed since 1968! Let's have a good few Irish (and northern Irish) whiskies, as they come, without any order or law.


Bushmills 2014/2021 (47.3%, Dumangin J. Fils, ratafia finish, Batch 017, 282 bottles)

Bushmills 2014/2021 (47.3%, Dumangin J. Fils, ratafia finish, Batch 017, 282 bottles) Four stars
The house Dumangin are Champagne makers in Chigny, near Reims. As is traditional over there, they also make 'ratafia champenois', which is a 'muté' wine, that is to say that they stop fermentations by adding eau-de-vie. The best ratafia makers would then let their output mature in oak casks, although the majority would use stainless steel. The house Dumangin would then let various sourced whiskies being finished in some empty ratafia casks, in this very case they kept some six years old Bushmills for twelve further months. This is really a first for me, thank you Philippe… Colour: by the way, I like good ratafia a lot, it's become fashionable again. The colour is gold. Nose: I would tend to believe that Bushmills' usual buoyant fruitiness and the ratafia would overlap in small parts, which is absolutely fine, on the contrary. So no dissonances whatsoever here, rather apricots and raisins, tiny touches of rose petals, rambutans, whiffs of jasmine and honeysuckle, a few small mangos as expected, and probably some overripe pears. A small chalky side too, not sure where that came from. From the cellar or the chai? Mouth: you could almost call this Bushmills plus, or believe that the finishing in ratafia sped-up the maturation. Feels like a ten or a twelve, really. Chalky raisins, stewed peaches, honey sauce, a touch of olive oil, oranges, a little mango 'if we must'… It's all very good. Finish: long and rather more on cakes and tartes. Apricot tarte covered with honey, ground cinnamon and roasted chopped almonds. Hungry yet? Oranges and a little ginger from the ratafia cask in the aftertaste. Comments: it does not feel like a finishing at all and that's no bad news in my book. I'm usually not a sucker for regional experiments, but in this very case, it worked a treat. Ratafia, of course!

SGP:641 - 87 points.

Cooley 2009/2021 'Single Grain' (47.1%, Dumangin J. Fils, ratafia finish, Batch 016, 258 bottles)

Cooley 2009/2021 'Single Grain' (47.1%, Dumangin J. Fils, ratafia finish, Batch 016, 258 bottles) Two stars and a half
Same set-up, a twelve months finish in an ex-ratafia champenois cask. The house's website is suggesting that this would be single grain Irish whiskey distilled twice at Cooley's, which may sound a little odd, but remember that's what they do/did indeed at Cooley's. Colour: darker gold. Nose: indeed, feels like grain, with some butterscotch, touches of varnish, popcorn, Frappuccino (don't laugh), toffee, then these earthy raisins that we had already found in the Bushmills. Surely a fatter grain whisky than your average grain whisky, now remember that if this is Cooley's Greenore indeed, it's maize. Mouth: this feeling of coffee-schnaps, easter eggs, syrups, wine gums, coconut balls… Well, this is not quite for me. I should have tried this one before the awesome Bushmills, this feels a bit like if they had added a second layer of sweetness. Finish: short, sweet. Comments: some double-sweet grain whisky, how funny. I'm sure this style will find its afficionados.

SGP:730 - 78 points.

Kilbeggan 'Single Pot Still' (43%, OB, Irish, 2019)

Kilbeggan 'Single Pot Still' (43%, OB, Irish, 2019) Two stars and a half
Made in the old Kilbeggan Distillery, which had been restarted in 2010. I haven't checked yet but single pot still would suggest a set-up like this, first run -> receiver -> second run in same pot still. How very discontinuous! Unless it is a single double-pot still… or just marketing speak. Colour: straw. Nose: lemon curd all over the place, gym socks, raw wool, mashed turnips, lime, fermenting hay, damp oatcakes… I'm wondering if they haven't had a go at bacterial fermentation while no one was watching… Mouth: loads and loads of sultanas at first, then bonbons and white pepper, in a rather dissociated way. Some soft nougat, then mashed cereals. Not a very common profile, both thin in the middle and dense on the periphery. Does that make sense? Finish: medium, fine now. The sultanas are back, with oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: an unusual drop, pretty nice actually. Perhaps not exactly for Ardbeg fans.
SGP:640 - 79 points.

J.J. Corry 'The Gael Batch 2' (46%, OB, 2,800 bottles, autumn 2019)

J.J. Corry 'The Gael Batch 2' (46%, OB, 2,800 bottles, autumn 2019) Two stars and a half
A blend of 60% malt and 40% grain. Found this in London, not sure it ever reached our shores. Colour: straw. Nose: vanilla and scones running the show, plus touches of pears and pineapples. This reminds of ancient Tullamore Dew, in a way. Not earthshattering but pleasant, I'm just not sure I'll remember it… Mouth: sweet and easy blend, of good quality, sweet, with some brioche, icing sugar, sweet beers, sugar cubes, candyfloss… The 46% vol. work really well, as always. Finish: shortish but sweet and pleasant. Sugar in the aftertaste. Comments: sweet indeed, and perfectly all right for a NAS  blend.

SGP:640 - 78 points.

Waterford 'Cooladine 1.1' (50%, OB, for South Africa, 2020)

Waterford 'Cooladine 1.1' (50%, OB, for South Africa, 2020) Four stars and a half
This one from Navigate World Whisky's racing stable. I'm now lost with all these single farms and just wouldn't remember them all, but in the words of the great Lemmy Kilmister, 'I can't remember them but I'll never forget them'. Colour: gold. Nose: cool bassline indeed, classic bread and chalk and barley and nectarines and croissants. Some fatness coming through, already. Sunflower oil. Mouth: superbly fermentary and reminding me of Jamaican rums. Not as far as flavours are concerned, naturally, but the texture and the wideness of the fermentations feel a little similar on the palate. Very solid body and in that sense, it is not Irish (but of course it is). Kumquats chiming in after a short while, white pepper, some chalky lemons, tight aligoté (wine lovers special)… Finish: long and wide. Lemon bread. Some kind of Sicilian focaccia? Have to go there check that, which I was about to do before Omicron, mind you. Earthier aftertaste. Comments: a very lousy blogger would have concluded this like this: Cooladine is cool. Afraid of nothing.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Wait, isn't Waterford about comparisons?...

Waterford 'Knockroe 1.1' (50%, OB, for South Africa, 2020)

Waterford 'Knockroe 1.1' (50%, OB, for South Africa, 2020) Four stars and a half
Oh, just saw that's there's a cabsauv in Stellenbosch called Waterford Estate! So I would suppose 'someone' could do a Waterford Waterford Finish, no? Good, that's gonna be a glass of Meursault and a pub-size pack of crisps. Colour: light gold. Nose: chalkier yet, muddier would I add, even more fermentary, more on weissbeer, grist, button mushrooms, and just a large dough roll in a good bakery, around 4.5am.This is invigorating. Mouth: we're much closer to the Cooladine. I wouldn't want to down 750ml of each to try to list all the nuances; the whole concept is very hazardous indeed (drop the Meursault, but keep the pack of crisps). Finish: sameish. Comments: I find some vattings, such as the biodynamic Luna or that Gaia a wee tad deeper, but we're flying high anyway. Great selections, South Africa!

SGP:551 - 88 points.

Something even madder from Ireland, perhaps…

Knappogue Castle 25 yo 1996/2021 (53.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Ex-libris, 'The Remarkable Rocket')

Knappogue Castle 25 yo 1996/2021 (53.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Ex-libris, 'The Remarkable Rocket') Five stars
I find these labels by LMDW sublime, as I am a fan of Ex-libris myself and do actually own a wee collection. Whenever I start my own bottling series (like, around the year 2078), I promise I'll make good use of that wee collection. What's more, the name 'The Remarkable Rocket' alone sounds furiously Dada, or even pataphysical… It is actually the name of a short story by Oscar WIlde, but may I suggest a Grande Gidouille Collection next year? Colour: straw. Nose: just as sublime as the label. Coulée de Serrant and, indeed, Meursault (not obligatorily from Coche's or the Comtes') Please call the Anti-maltoporn brigade or I don't take any responsibility anymore. With water: chalk, lemon, lime, oysters, grist, engine oil, lady's moisturiser, grapefruit, fresh baguette, green bananas… The list would be endless. Mouth (neat): utter perfection. Lime, maracuja, granny smith, riesling, limestone, and an avalanche of tinier, even tarter flavours. Did you ever hear of Buddha's hand, for example? With water: more Coulée de Serrant. Did you call the Brigade? Finish: did you? Comments: only reduction has to be done with circumspection, the rest is a bed of Irish roses. What a fabulous whisky, one of the very best of 2021 for sure.

SGP:651 - 93 points.

Knappogue Castle 25 yo 1995/2021 (50.9%, La Maison du Whisky, Ex-libris, 'The Devoted Friend') Four stars and a half
I remember a Knappogue 1995 'Twin Wood' that had been excellent a few years ago (WF 86 in spite of a weakish strength of 40% vol.) Colour: light gold. Nose: rounder, oilier, more on sunflower oil, but absolutely wonderful too. We'll keep this short. With water: tropical fruits and fresh wood. Awesome but his '95 hasn't quite got the insane depth of the '96, in my humble opinion. Mouth (neat): mangos all over the place, as well as mango eau-de-vie. That's maybe a wee tad simplistic at this point, but I may be nit-picking. With water: superb, just a tad sweet. Melons, mangos, papayas, plus any syrups or liqueurs made thereof. Finish: medium, extremely fruity and sweet, almost bonbony. Comments: now I understand why they would have called this one 'The Devoted Friend'. It's a very friendly whisky indeed but in my little book, the 1996 rather crushes it. By the way, The Devoted Friend's is another short story by Oscar Wilde, who spent a lot of time in Paris and passed away there in 1900.

SGP:741 - 88 points.

But it is a trilogy, as Richard W. would have said…

Knappogue Castle 27 yo 1994/2021 (50.3%, La Maison du Whisky, Ex-libris, 'The Happy Prince')

Knappogue Castle 27 yo 1994/2021 (50.3%, La Maison du Whisky, Ex-libris, 'The Happy Prince') Five stars
We'll keep this very short, we haven't got much of it anyway. We'll do some micro-dramming (an expression coined by our dear Maniacal friend Peter Silver – R.I.P. Peter). Colour: straw. Nose: typical mango-y and banana-y extravaganza, in the style of the famous 1988-1992 unnamed Bushmills (oops) that many indies have had in the not so distant past. Mouth: extremely sweet and fruity, syrupy, liqueury and tropical. Pink grapefruits, passion fruits, mangos and friends. Finish: rather long, pretty thick, fruity and sweet. Comments: some would say it's even a little pushy, but it's brilliant fruity whisky, extravagant and boisterous. The 27 years do not quite show and I don't think you could make them any fruitier. What we used to call an utter fruit bomb.

SGP:841 - 90 points.

What a trilogy that was! I'm not sure any other Irish could ever surpass those, so let's call this a session, thank you.

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

 

December 19, 2021


Whiskyfun

Five Cognac and Five Armagnac

This time again, we'll have both armagnacs and cognacs. You may also expect a rather dazzling verticale of cognac around Christmas, going way down to Bix Beiderbecke's time. Come on, Bix Beiderbecke!… We'll do this alternatively this time, cognac, armagnac, cognac, armagnac, cognac, armagnac, cognac (I think they got the picture, S.)

Bisquit
1970s advert, 'In his own way, he's an artist'. Whisky makers have cut the 'in his own way' part. ->

Bisquit 'V.S.O.P.' (40%, OB, Cognac Fine Champagne, +/-1985)

Bisquit 'V.S.O.P.' (40%, OB, Cognac Fine Champagne, +/-1985) Two stars and a half
Exactly the cognac in the ad. Made by the famous old house Bisquit-Dubouché. Some very old bottles of Bisquit-Dubouché may still be found here and there, including vintages from the 19th century, but careful with the 1811s... Colour: amber with copper tones. Nose: very raisin-dominated, with some stewed melons and peaches in the background. Gets then grassier and drier, but raisins keep running the show. It's a pretty good entry-level cognac on the nose. Mouth: pretty good indeed, maybe just a tad indefinite and possibly obscured and boiséed. Raisins and peaches, touches of liquorice, some muscovado and sweetened black tea. Gets then really dry. Finish: a little short, drying, with a little cardboard and more black tea. Comments: harmless, drinks pretty well after all those years. A good steppingstone, shall we say…

SGP:451 - 79 points.

Vignobles Fontan 'Hors d'Âge' (42%, Bas-armagnac, +/-2020)

Vignobles Fontan 'Hors d'Âge' (42%, Bas-armagnac, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
All juices they've married here were 10 years old or more. It's pure ugni blanc from their own estate, Domaine de Maubet, which is located in the Gers. Colour: amber. Nose: whiffs of varnish, pine, fern and parsley at first, wood glue, a touch of acetone, then raisins and prunes, plus a rather earthy liquorice mingled with some Chocolate. A pack of thin mints, thin mints being very popular in the house. Mouth: classic, almost old-school piney, chocolaty and raisiny armagnac, very dry, very much on bitter chocolate and tea a. Finish: medium, nice, with a little menthol and always this dryness. Burnt sugar in the aftertaste (demerara).Comments: not a fruity one at all. I rather enjoy this style too.

SGP:361 - 79 points.

Rémi Landier 'Special Pale Sigle Barrel Lot 2012' (45%, OB, cognac, 900 bottles, +/-2020)

Rémi Landier 'Special Pale Sigle Barrel Lot 2012' (45%, OB, cognac, 900 bottles, +/-2020) Four stars
You could believe that 900 bottles from a single barrel are a lot, but this was not exactly 'a barrel', it was a 450l cask. Rémi Landier is an excellent house, located in the Fins Bois. Colour: gold. Nose: fresh orchard fruits in abundance this time, around ripe greengages (which we love!) and plum jam, with whiffs of dandelions and wisteria plus a moderate amount of liquorice. Some meadow honey too, and remarkably few raisins. Mouth: a pleasant rusticity, some grassy liquorice, with notes of williams pears this time, a tiny touch of litchi and roses, then a little hay jelly and green tea. Very good. Finish: long, grassier, on fruit peel (pears) and a wee bit of Zan (mint-flavoured liquorice). More tea tannins in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, vivace young cognac. Goes down very well.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Château de Laubade 1998/2018 (52.1%, OB, Bas-armagnac, casks #98072-98074)

Château de Laubade 1998/2018 (52.1%, OB, Bas-armagnac, casks #98072-98074) Four stars
Baco and colombard, from the well-known house Laubade, of which we've already tried two or three wonders lately. There will be more older ones, but in the meantime, let's try this little 1998. Colour: golden amber. Nose: superb. Nail polish, pear cake, mocha, forastero, pine needles, drop of soy sauce, bit of Spanish ham, roasted pecans, black nougat… Really superb, while I doubt my Vitell will kill it. With water: no problems, more ham and soy sauce. I suppose you could virtually 'eat' this one with a fork and knife. Mouth (neat): a tight, firm, peely start, with notes of marc de gewurztraminer at first and then some grittier marc de Bourgogne. Some green liquorice and a few varnishy tannins here and there. With water: too much water would pull too many tannins out, but at +/-45% this sweet and sour combo just clicks. Spareribs baked in honey sauce, plus mirabelle jam and just five raisins (am I not being clever?) Finish: rather long, grassier, with some mint and a tiny rubbery touch, plus more fruit peelings. The gewurz is back in the aftertaste, but then again I'm an Alsatian. Comments: no complains.

SGP:561 - 87 points.

Giboin 'L'Essentiel' (46.5%, OB for cognac-expert.com, Cognac Borderies, 2021)

Giboin 'L'Essentiel' (46.5%, OB for cognac-expert.com, Cognac Borderies, 2021) Four stars
I've always had a soft spot for the Borderies. Giboin are located in Cherves-Richemont. This is a blend of three casks of ugni blanc, 2002, 2005 and 2009, done for the famous website cognac-expert.com, a cool place where whisky enthusiasts would learn rather a lot about, well, cognac. Colour: amber. Nose: rather soft yet tight and compact, starting fruity and floral (more oranges than in the others, more pink bananas as well), then geared towards spices and tropical deserts. Bananas flambéed, cinnamon rolls, the usual liquorice, chestnut honey, a smidgen of ras-el-hanout… Mouth: tighter, grassier, more on peelings, leaves, banana skin, indeed chestnut honey, green pepper, then even touches of stewed spinach that would lead to more rooty earthiness, and even to some saltiness, which is not extremely common in cognac upon my short experience. Uncommon, but very good and, I have to say, a little whisky-like. Finish: long, rather more on aniseed and liquorice tea. Red apples and sweet carrots in the aftertaste. Comments: leaves a wink for whisky folks. Pastis fans such as yours truly will love it too.

SGP:561 - 87 points.

Back to armagnac…

Château de la Béroje 1995/2021 (42%, LMDW, Version Française, Bas-armagnac, 300 bottles)

Château de la Béroje 1995/2021 (42%, LMDW, Version Française, Bas-armagnac, 300 bottles) Four stars
Never heard of these good folks before. I mean Béroje, not LMDW. They're located in Le Hougat, west of Nogaro and according to the pictures on their website, the place is just stunning. Colour: deep red amber. Nose: this one's much more 'roasted', jammy, honeyed, even molassy, some might even call it Macallany (whether that's a good thing or not, up to you). You would almost believe it's been aged in PX wood, or perhaps rancio wood. So, I find it spectacularly rich, with even a little tar, even moscatel, prune juice, rich rum… Mouth: huge extraction, some coffee, cold cuts, Marmite, Maggi, black nougat, ham, Bovril or Viandox, Jägermeister, liquorice, black Russian tea, Gauloises… So a whole different proposition. Finish: long, salty, bouillony and even varnishy. Drying aftertaste, not the best part. Comments: probably a little love-it-or-hate-it. I think I love it… just the same as the previous ones. Forgot to mention a big T-bone steak.

SGP:361 - 87 points.

To Cognac…

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 88' (48.7%, Malternatives Belgium for Art Malts, Grande Champagne, 124 bottles, 2021)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 88' (48.7%, Malternatives Belgium for Art Malts, Grande Champagne, 124 bottles, 2021) Four stars
Colour: amber. Nose: rather in the style of that heavy-ish Béroje at first, but with this lovely fruitiness that this now famous house are famous for. Melons, peaches, plums… There's some picture varnish too, millionaire shortbread, maple syrup, pecans roasted in honey (try that and die), and then some mentholy raisins. A pretty good feeling here, what could go wrong on the palate? Mouth: some wood varnish for sure, tobacco, bonbons, grenadine syrup, Turkish delights, black pepper, cinnamon… Some oak and some varnish here, this sure isn't some sylphlike cognac. In a way, it's a cognac that's rather in the style of an armagnac. Hope I'm not ruffling any feathers here… Finish: long and very earthy. A feeling of having sucked your cigar. Burnt caramel and pine needles in the aftertaste. Comments: there are parts that I just adore here, but it's a tough boy. Plays with your lips.
SGP:371 - 86 points.

To armagnac…

Aurian 1979/2021 (46.5%, OB, for Wu Dram Clan, Armagnac)

Aurian 1979/2021 (46.5%, OB, for Wu Dram Clan, Armagnac) Four stars and a half
What's cool when you have enthusiasts such as the Wu Dram Clan who would select some spirits, is that you do not need to separate the weed from the chaff yourself. It's pre-selected, you understand. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: awesome varnishes and many roasted nuts. Pecans as usual, but also peanuts, macadamias, walnuts… You could add a little beef stock, marrow bouillon, chicken soup, sauna oils, asparagus, and the expected umami mingling up with some old rancio wine… And Cuban cigars. High-rank nose. Mouth: sure it's tad too meaty/oaky/varnishy, but remember its 40+. The salty soups are stellar, the fruits, well, a little absent, and the herbal liqueurs are wonderful. Green chartreuse, Underberg, ueber-miso, pine extracts. Gets drier and drier. Finish: very long, all on the most extreme herbal liqueurs, with bags of cloves in the aftertaste. Comments: extreme? Yes and no. I'm ready to surrender.

SGP:272 - 89 points.

To Cognac…

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot 75 GrapeDiggaz' (51.7%, OB for Kirsch Import and Wu Dram Clan, Petite champagne, 252 bottles, 2021)

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot 75 GrapeDiggaz' (51.7%, OB for Kirsch Import and Wu Dram Clan, Petite champagne, 252 bottles, 2021) Five stars
A grapediggaz, not a gravediggaz, well hopefully. Colour: dark amber. Nose: there's always something with Vallein Tercinier. Perhaps is it balance. In this very case, we're having fruits stewed in honey, and no single obvious 'woody' notes, not to mention varnishes. Peaches in acacia honey, melons in heather, pears in honeysuckle, apricots in manuka. With water: incense, cedarwood, sandalwood, peach skins. Mouth (neat): luminous, coherent, wonderfully resinous and mentholy yet never drying. Some verbena and caraway syrups and liqueurs. I'm thinking of old Bunnahabhain from the 1960s, but please don't ask me why. With water: resins and mints up, leafiness up as well, but the expression 'flirting with the limits' has been invented for this one. Careful with H2O though, some boastful liquorice would tend to come to the front. Finish: long, on resins, angelica, mint cream and myrtle liqueur. Comments: long time not tried an old VT (Vallein Tercinier, not Vendanges Tardives!) . Was missing those. Brilliant stuff.

SGP:461 - 90 points.

We're missing an old armagnac, are we not…

Bas-armagnac 1972/2021 (42.7%, Grosperrin for The Auld Alliance Singapore)

Bas-armagnac 1972/2021 (42.7%, Grosperrin for The Auld Alliance Singapore) Five stars
Why should old armagnacs flow to Singapore? Maybe because a certain Frenchman is at the helm of one of the most stunning spirits bars in the world? Wouldn't that be a good reason? But why Grosperrin, who are within the top 5 in… Cognac? I'm a little lost… Colour: perfect amber. And why not? Nose: cellulose varnish and peanut butter, then truffle bouillon. I know that was short but truffle bouillon is a whole cluster of aromas in itself. Think Bocuse (works better when you're French). Mouth: this is more wine than a spirit. Early 20th century Yquem, mushrooms, truffles, mosses, cigars, guinea fowl soup, old Pauillac, more truffle soup… The thing is called soupe VGE and beyond the truffles, the key ingredient would be...  celeriac. Celeriac is king (or queen) in many old spirits, it's just that folks would not be in the know. Finish: it's extremely rare that a finish would be 'sweeter', as finishes tend to be 'drier'. Quite some old mead. Comments: great soup.

SGP:362 - 90/91 points
(I won't do this too often, cross my heart… No Panama hat on my humblest head).

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

 

December 18, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Five Octomore
I generally prefer Port Charlotte as I find they tend to be more balanced and consistent, but having said that Octomore is rarely ever boring.

 

Octomore 5 yo 2015/2021 12.1 'The Impossible Equation' (59.9%, OB, 1st fill bourbon) 

Octomore 5 yo 2015/2021 12.1 'The Impossible Equation' (59.9%, OB, 1st fill bourbon) 
Distilled from mainland Scottish barley and kilned to 130.8 PPM - for those phenol spotters out there… Colour: pale straw. Nose: I suspect Serge would say 'millimetric', so in other works extremely pure, narrow and precise. A blade of seawater, ash and peat - an epitome of good quality, modern, heavily peated whisky. I also find quite powerful notes of whelks charring over coals, petrol and mercurochrome. With water: rock pools, iodine drops, wet seaweed, burnt sheep wool, coal smoke and bacon fat. Mouth: what's excellent is that it's rather textural as well as very sharp, pure and powerful. I know this sounds silly but it is also quite peaty - which I do not always find to be the case with Octomore where peat flavour often manifests more as seawater, smoke and grapefruit juice. With water: gets deeper and wider now, smokier, sootier, peatier, more sheep wool oils, dried herbs, dung, roof pitch and raw tar! Finish: long, ashy, briny, citric, petrolic and still with this sense of sizzling bacon fat. Comments: Octomore at its raw and no-nonsense best. I had it at 89 but water really helps to propel this one along.
SGP: 468 - 90 points.

 

 

Octomore 5 yo 2015/2021 12.2 (57.3%, OB, 1st and 2nd fill bourbon with 1st fill Sauternes finish)

Octomore 5 yo 2015/2021 12.2 (57.3%, OB, 1st and 2nd fill bourbon with 1st fill Sauternes finish)
129.7 PPM this time. Sauternes - and some other sweet wines - are occasionally an exception to my general mistrust of wine casks. Let's see what they've been up to in this case… Colour: gold. Nose: farmyard and seashore lashed together with strands of sugar. On first impressions this works pretty well. Some kind of smoked flower honey, dried seaweed, nori, smoked olive oil, seawater, lime juice and hessian. A nicely sharp smokiness comes through over time. With water: cod liver oil, Bakelite, jute bag, black olive tapenade and plasticine. Mouth: the sweetness is still present but once again it works pretty well, the impression of a balancing act underway. Slightly acidic farmyard peat smoke, coal embers, wood ashes, natural tar, petrol and pickling brine. With water: vary tarry, lots of smoke, soot, ashes, camphor and brine. Perhaps more simple and classical peat monster territories now. Finish: long, sooty, briny and showing a slightly more grubby puffer smoke vibe. Anchovy paste and bacon lardons. Comments: a lot of fun and I think very good as the Sauternes involvement has been done quite cleverly. Just runs out of steam a bit towards the end perhaps.
SGP: 567 - 87 points.

 

 

Octomore 5 yo 2015/2021 12.3 (62.1%, OB, 75% 1st fill bourbon & 25% 1st fill PX sherry butts) 

Octomore 5 yo 2015/2021 12.3 (62.1%, OB, 75% 1st fill bourbon & 25% 1st fill PX sherry butts) 
118.1 PPM and barley grown on Octomore Farm in 2014. Two parcels of stock matured full term respectively in bourbon and PX sherry. Colour: bright straw. Nose: green olives, wasabi, pickling brine and anchovies in olive oil. There's also even some raw barley sweetness still in there surprisingly. Once again I'm finding this similar impression of deep, bass-like farmyard smokiness as on the 12.1. Here there's also more camphor and more brazen medicinal profile too. Excellent nose! With water: riddled with sooty smoke, rollmop herring, pickling juices, camphor and raw seawater. Also develops this leaner medical side that goes towards bandages and antiseptic. Mouth: very tarry and peppery up front. Glycerine, smoked mead, hessian, carbolic acidity, boiler smoke, iodine and a slightly dirty dried herb aspect. Olive bread, cough mixtures and umami paste. Very salty and tarry. With water: the texture is really impressive now, you feel like you're sipping top notch smoked olive oil. Perhaps a cornichon or two bobbing about in there along with a stray pork scratching. Some kind of peated mead with traces of heather smoke. Finish: long, tarry, leathery, briny and still on many of these impressions of pickling juices, olive oil and fat medicines. Comments: really excellent, and the sherry takes a very quiet back seat here which I think works very well. I suppose I just prefer the 12.1 by a single notch is all. On average though, this is probably my favourite 'batch' of Octomores for a while.
SGP: 567 - 89 points.

 

 

Octomore 7 yo 2013/2021 (62.3%, Dramfool 'Jim McEwan Signature Collection', cask #1872, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 256 bottles)

Octomore 7 yo 2013/2021 (62.3%, Dramfool 'Jim McEwan Signature Collection', cask #1872, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 256 bottles)
Let's see what the Ken Dodd of Islay had schnaffled away for himself shall we… Colour: straw. Nose: I have to report, that this is lovely. Pure, classical and almost embarrassingly fresh and coastal. Riddled with ozone, shoreline, rock pools, sandalwood and anchovy paste. This evolves more towards fatter, thicker notes of farmyard smoke, hessian canvass and once again this impression of very fine smoked olive oil - which I'm always a sucker for. With water: molten vinyl, camphor, crab sticks, iodine drops and lapsing souchong. Bruised cooking apples, malt vinegar and preserved lemons. Mouth: Zap! Pow! Kersplatt! And many other Batman references. Rather like the 12.1 but with added thickness from extra age. Oily, concentrated peat and phenolics. Soy sauce mixed with Maggi seasoning, natural tar extract, peated heather ales and pure brine. With water: once again a wee apple note, crisp green apple acidity, then heather flowers, natural tar again, richly smoky kiln air and anchovy paste. Gets very umami and peppery. Finish: über long, full of crystalline pure peat smoke, brine, anchovies, dried herbs, soy sauce and seawater. Comments: really superb, I love this big umami, farmyard tang to the smoke. I know we often say peat covers up immaturity in youth, but even so, isn't Octomore a rather speedy whisky?
SGP: 477 - 90 points.

 

 

Octomore 13 yo 2007/2021 (57.5%, Dramfool 'Jim McEwan Signature Collection', cask #3807, 1st fill Sauternes barrique, 290 bottles)

Octomore 13 yo 2007/2021 (57.5%, Dramfool 'Jim McEwan Signature Collection', cask #3807, 1st fill Sauternes barrique, 290 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: smoked orange blossom, lightly kippery, citrus curds, diesel fumes, tarragon and then grapefruit and seawater. There's a definite tension between the sweeter fruitier components, and the slightly more funky smoky aspects. With water: some greengage, heather flower, beers, dark grained breads and a rather earthy, bass-line smokiness. Wine cellar must - or am imagining things now? Mouth: well, we could very easily be quaffing peated Sauternes. This is surprisingly syrupy, honeyed, sweet and almost viscous with these impressions of nectar, mead, smoked honey and touches of olive oil. The lightest of the bunch which means I'm probably silly for doing this last. With water: silky threads of peat smoke, tiny briny touches, thick olive oil, anchovy paste, Maggi, natural tar, TCP and iodine drops. The peat is more magnified by water I think, and as such it feels more balanced. Finish: long, tarry, that kipper smoke is back, some pink peppercorns, gauze and sweet herbal cough syrup. Comments: If, like me, you have a weird soft spot for Sauternes maturation and peat, then you will probably also really like this. But if you aren't a Sauternes maturation fan then you should probably take a diversion flight via-Mongolia. A very fun, very silly and probably pointless to score whisky* (*shout out to the 'All whiskies are pointless to score' crowd at the back).
SGP: 666 - 88 points.

 

 

As I mentioned, Octomore is fun - if a little tiring after five in a row.

 

 

 

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

 

December 17, 2021


Whiskyfun

A Strathisla Lament for Glory

I just stumbled upon some old Strathislas while looking for Strathmills. No, really. I find it scandalous that no proper Strathisla's reached the doorstep of Château Whiskyfun since… around 1885? I mean, who's heard of Strathisla recently? The oldest Highland Distillery? Or is this perception exaggerated? In any case, I couldn't leave WF Strathisla-less for more months/years/decades, so let's just dig deeper into the old stash… (*)

Strathisla

Strathisla 1987/2006 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label)

Strathisla 1987/2006 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label) Two stars
From the good old days of low strengths and assumed caramel and cold-filtration… Now why G&M have sometimes used this label instead of the splendid classic white one, I don't know.  Colour: light gold. Nose: light it is. Very light, with indeed touches of caramel and toasted brioche, a drop of stout, vanilla, crystallised apples (slices), apple icewine, chamomile, a little white wine (regular chardo)… But boy does it whisper low. Mouth: not really. Notes of burnt sugar, marmalade, rancio, apple juice… It is a little flattish, would I say. Finish: short. A little cardboard but good cakes too. Comments: not such a total disaster, but so much for the good old days. Not the first time I'm trying this light one 'informally', I'm not sure it ever convinced anyone. It's 'an okay drink'.
SGP:331 - 76 points.

More from G&M's…

Strathisla 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label, 75cl, +/-1980)

Strathisla 8 yo (100 proof, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label, 75cl, +/-1980) Four stars and a half
There are various 8s, this is the one with a 'green 8', at 100 proof/57% vol. I've got much more faith in this one, I don't know why… Colour: white wine. Nose: oh, amazing sucrosity, you're almost nosing some muscovado sugar from an old tin box. Iron, lemon juice, chenin blanc, old tools, sugarcane syrup (huge notes), proper all-honey nougat, white bananas, blancmange… Wow, this is clearly 'different', some kind of malt whisky made in the Caribbean. With water: sunflower oil, green bananas, peanut butter, more blancmange… This will make us all speak Creole! Mouth (neat): awesome tight lemony and sugary profile. Sugary in a good way, it's all cane sugar. Some ongoing tension in this one, this is rather spectacular and very 'un-modern'. With water: grapefruits, green bananas, kumquats, barley, mead, nut oils. Bags of fresh nuts. Finish: long, more lemony, zesty and yet fat. Ginger tonic. Comments: now we're talking.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

G&M, the floor is still yours…

Strathisla 15 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label, 75cl, +/-1988)

Strathisla 15 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label, 75cl, +/-1988) Five stars
Not sure it's good that we need to unearth our relics to keep our Strathisla section alive, but there, while we're at it… (duty, heavy duty)… Colour: full gold. Nose: this one's got a deserved high reputation as a kind of 'Macallan killer'. In fact, it is wonderfully thick, rich, complex, and just unquestionably 'great-Macallan-y'. Cuban cigars, quinces, bouillons, ointments, cough syrup, chestnut honey, Maggi, Bovril, praline, old Sauternes, pine smoke, shoe polish, black nougat, olives, liquorice… This is just a whirlwind of aromas, and the sherry isn't even heavy. Now there's more and more shoe polish as time goes by, which is not obligatorily a good sign. With water: nah, we're fine, there's indeed more shoe polish and Barbour grease, but also chestnut purée and umeshu. Plus these notes of great rhum agricole, some having been seen in the 8. Mouth (neat): amazing, more on marmalade and tight, resinous liqueurs. Tends to bite your tongue, I would say let's ad water right away. With water: yeah, as expected, this is perfect. Peaches stewed in mint and honey sauce, fir liqueur, verbena, and an avalanche of small herbs, flowers and nutty elements. Such as, well, nuts. Finish: long. Comments: I would suspect the 8 and this 15 had been distilled within the same season. Just a wild, wild guess. Incredible whiskies: G&M, is there more in wood?
SGP:562 - 91 points.

Let's leave Elgin (with tears in our eyes) and seek doom and murder…

Strathisla 13 yo 1981/1995 (63%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, sherrywood)

Strathisla 13 yo 1981/1995 (63%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, sherrywood) Five stars
Yes, murder, did you see this strength? Ah, those 'small cream labels'… Colour: white wine. Nose: kerosene. I would guess Bezos's ridiculous penis 'rocket' used to smell like this. And whey, pisco, green bananas, white beer, white cachaça, just cut grass… All rather raw stuff, and yet there's a feeling of unity and tightness. And peace. No, really. But sherrywood? With water: all oils you could think of, plus antiseptics and green apples and pears. Philosophical whisky (no worries, I won't quote Sartre again). Mouth (neat): lemon juice and acetone, ethanol, paint thinner, antifreeze and strong glue. In other words, water's more than welcome. With water: wonders. Ueber-tense lime and grass juices, distilled lawn, chalk, paraffin. Unsweetened holly and sorb eaux-de-vie spring to my mind, or perhaps checkerberry... Mad stuff indeed, stuff for distillers. Finish: long, so strong, so elemental, so narrow, so precise, so hazardous. Comments: philosophical whisky for PhDs only.
SGP:371 - 90 points.

Perhaps a gentler, older indy Strath' before we call this a tasting session…

Strathisla 30 yo 1976 (48.4%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry, +/-2016)

Strathisla 30 yo 1976 (48.4%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry, +/-2016) Four stars
We love ducks, either as foie gras or on Whisky-Fässle's labels. Colour: gold. Nose: yeah there, we're reminded of other distilleries in the same vintage, Benriach, Caperdonich… Lovely notes of pollen and nectar, beeswax, sweet cider, good orange wine (some are crap, some are great), mirabelle jam, quince jelly… Quinces actually tend to take over, which is very good news in my book. I'd kill for quinces, the king of fruit. What durian? Are ye joking? Mouth: ah, no, it's a tight and rather resinous one, tougher than expected, almost a little brutal, with wood varnish and ultra-dry cider. I think we'll add a drop of water… With water: back to mead and honeys, so success but moderately. Finish: rather long, rather on cider again. Not much of a honeyed frenzy. Comments: a very lovely drop, with a very fabtastic nose and a palate that may have gotten a little too dry and grassy and peely.
SGP: - 87 points.

A message to the world (and to Pernod): "send new Strathislas!"

(Gracias Konstantin, Tim and Christin)

(*) Oh well, not long after I had done this session, quite a few weeks ago, Angus sent me notes for some Strathislas and then this new Stathisla reached WF's doorstep, quite serendipously....

Strathisla 13 yo 2004/2021 (56.9%, La Distillerie Générale, France, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #47932, 35cl, 1296 bottles)

Strathisla 13 yo 2004/2021 (56.9%, La Distillerie Générale, France, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #47932, 35cl, 1296 bottles) Four stars and a half
56.9%, that's exactly 100 proof, am I not right? A semi-official bottling bearing a very hippy-glam Goa-style label. Bring your sitar! Colour: deep gold. Nose: you would almost believe this is some Ténarèze at cask strength. Indeed, armagnac. Some kind of earthy raisins with quite some menthol, camphor and varnish at first, then preserved peaches, fruitcake and some pancake sauce. Perhaps a notch heady this far but I'd say the quality of this armagnac, I'm sorry, of this Strathisla is high. With water: bread pudding, a meaty touch (foie gras, really!) and some pipe tobacco. I like this one really a lot. Mouth (neat): creamy, rich, and very old-school sherry, in the style of the older Macs C/S or of some of G&M's own C/S Strathislas. Loads and loads of raisins, dried figs, prunes, Jaffa cakes and walnut wine, which would bring some lovely bitterness to the combo. With water: more Jaffa cakes, oranges, marmalade, soft pepper… It got a tad tighter, which is working perfectly well. Finish: long, rather on gingerbread this time. Raisins keep singing in the aftertaste, together with a little liquorice. Comments: superb. A few years in glass will push it towards 90 or more. I think I'll now play that fab older LP by Ravi Shankar and Philip Glass…
SGP:661 - 89 points.

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

 

December 16, 2021


Whiskyfun

Thinking about you, your amazing photographs of Labyburn's stills,
and our Weissbrot watches, Peter Hofmann!
 

December 15, 2021


Whiskyfun

More young Coal Ila

Strawberries
There's always more Cola Ila. At this pace we'll soon try our 1,000th Caol Ila and I am not joking, time to go ask Diageo about that pack of assorted marshmallows they had promised to me, around twenty years ago. Now I'd happily trade that pack for a hogshead of Brora…

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2021 (48%, LMDW, Artist Collective 5.0, refill sherry butt, 2,139 bottles)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2010/2021 (48%, LMDW, Artist Collective 5.0, refill sherry butt, 2,139 bottles) Four stars
Whether you could call 2K+ bottles a limited bottling, I'm not too sure. In my book, Malt Mill or Stromness are 'limited', not quite Caol Ila. But Caol Ila is always good… (S., what's this lousy chitchat about?) Colour: amber. Nose: peat and sherry, that's always a tricky combination. Sometimes it works a treat (Laph 74, Laga 21…) and sometimes it would just clash and fail miserably. Not quite sure yet, smoked coffee okay, smoked ham okay, salted cigars quite okay, pinewood and raisins relatively okay… Oh well, in these cases it's the palate that's king… Mouth: bingo, no clashes, this rather works. Smoked raisins, smoked oysters, pipe tobacco, salted and peppered chocolate, salty liquorice, salted pine liqueur… Well as long as any flavours can take salt, this remains fine. Phew, almost a hold-up. Finish: long, salty, smoky, a tad 'dark' (synesthesiacal compadres, ahoy!) Comments: heavy peat and heavy sherry together are always challenging, sometimes even straight nightmare worthy of a series on f****g Netflix. A successful challenge in this very case, even if I prefer my CI pure and naked.
SGP:467 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2021 (53.2%, Watt Whisky,Japan exclusive, hogshead, 326 bottles)

Caol Ila 11 yo 2010/2021 (53.2%, Watt Whisky,Japan exclusive, hogshead, 326 bottles) Four stars and a half
They have it good in Japan. Colour: pale white wine. This should be quick. Nose: mercurochrome, lime juice, oyster juice, carbon, seaweed. Millimetric and fantastic. In a way, this is Scottish sake. With water: since we've mentioned sake…  Mouth (neat): pure sweet lemony seaweedy smoky palate. With water: immaculate smoky whisky, getting just a tad more on rooty vegetables, beets, celeriac… Finish: sweeter, long, pure, fermentary, even yeasty, and totally superb. Comments: extreme purity, white mezcal from Islay. It seems that the years in wood only filtered out the roughness and a few unwanted aromas and flavours, and kept the spirit totally pure and crystalline. You could almost settle a new religion around those concepts, even if CI is a distillery that's 'run by one man and thirty computers'. Computers have become our masters, have they not?
SGP:456 - 89 points.

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2021 (48.5%, Decadent Drinks, Equinox & Solstice)

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2021 (48.5%, Decadent Drinks, Equinox & Solstice) Four stars
From their autumn edition. Late as ever… I mean, I am late as ever. Colour: white wine. Nose: totally Islay, that is to say full of seawater, raw wool, chalk and bits of kippers and oysters. What it hasn't quite got this far is lemon but that may come… The woolly side never stops growing on the nose, I'm even finding some Woolite, washing powder, fresh-laundered sweater and all that. In short, a very clean CI (you've outdone yourself once again, S.) Mouth: very salty and briney, going towards green olives and green peppercorn, while some kind of lemon chutney and a feeling of coal smoke would complement all that. Smoked olive oil. Finish: long, with more smoked olive oil and a lot of brine. Very moderate tarriness, sauvignon blanc and a couple of whelks in the aftertaste. Grated lime zest. Comments: very pure, very vertical, extremely good. We're approaching the 88 mark.
SGP:466 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2021 (55.6%, The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #320247, 242 bottles)

Caol Ila 13 yo 2007/2021 (55.6%, The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #320247, 242 bottles) Four stars
I would suppose this one will be similar. Colour: White wine. Nose: not quite, this one has more tar, coal, new wellies, also iodine, bandages… I would have put this one on the south shore, really. With water: it got rounder, with a little custard and a little butterscotch. I suppose the cask had been more active than that of the Decadent one. Some nice Islay mud and raw peat too after a while. Mouth (neat): closer on the palate, also much more lemony, zesty, tight and indeed, vertical. More bruits or bonbons but that may be the higher ethanol. With water: sweet, citrusy, with some wine gums. It was not the higher ethanol, this is a rather sweet Caol Ila. Finish: long, with some limoncello and one good oyster. Limoncello and oysters? Hem… Comments: it think I enjoy the brinier ones a tad better, but his one was very excellent too. Sure bets.
SGP:556 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 7 yo 2014/2021 (59.1%, The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #311507, 251 bottles)

Caol Ila 7 yo 2014/2021 (59.1%, The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, cask #311507, 251 bottles) Four stars
This is a little young, no? Let's see whether the hogshead had been super-fast or not. Colour: white wine. Nose: candy sugar, croissants, butter cream, smoked malted barley, then ointments and balms. A little jasmine too, perhaps fresh turnips. Intriguing… With water: tends to close. Weissbeer, plaster, bandages… Mouth (neat): loads of sweets, smoked, with some grey pepper and perhaps some radishes. Something gritty on your tongue. With water: water kills the sweets (not obligatorily a bad thing) and makes it all greener, smokier and more fermentary. It would also pull out some chilli notes. Finish: rather long, really gritty now. Oversteeped green tea with some lemon. Comments: not an easy one and possibly rather an example of a great whisky in the making, as Samaroli used to bottle within his Ageing Monography series, remember?
SGP:656 - 85 points.

Another very young one…

Caol Ila 8 yo 2012/2020 (57.8%, Signatory Vintage for Navigate World Whisky, 1st fill sherry butt finish, cask #12, 525 bottles)

Caol Ila 8 yo 2012/2020 (57.8%, Signatory Vintage for Navigate World Whisky, 1st fill sherry butt finish, cask #12, 525 bottles) Four stars
This one, which was bottled for South Africa, could be a little explosive, so careful… Colour: copper amber. Nose: dried porcini and gunpowder at first, then walnut wine, cigars and pipe tobacco. Exactly what we were expecting. No clashes peat vs. sherry this far. With water: marrow, umami sauce, Chinese mushrooms and a new box of cigars. Cubans, naturally. Mouth (neat): massive and much sweeter. Peppered blood oranges, perhaps, smoked Turkish delights, tarred liquorice allsorts, heavily reduced PX (paxarette-style), chilli liqueur… See what I mean? With water: success! Eggplants stewed in honey (I know that sounds odd) and baked ham glazed with honey. Very lovely meatiness. Finish: there, the walnuts are back. Nocino a.k.a. green walnut liqueur (check Silver Seal's, they're excellent!) Comments: I was scared but everything went smoothly. Very well produced. Mind you, it's only 8!
SGP:666 (devilish profile) - 87 points.

Caol Ila 2014/2020 (60.4%, L'Esprit, 10th Anniversary, Château Latour, cask #2005795, 293 bottles)

Caol Ila 2014/2020 (60.4%, L'Esprit, 10th Anniversary, Château Latour, cask #2005795, 293 bottles) Four stars
I know I'm late but happy anniversary, L'Esprit and Whisky & Rhum! Not too sure this very young CI spent the totality of its short life in a Latour cask (so Cabernet red and fresh French oak), but let's just try it. Colour: blush  and orange wine, 50/50. Nose: blackcurrant buds, geranium, seawater, kippers, liquorice, grapefruits, diesel oil… I'm happy and honoured to report that there are no clashes this far. With water: sour wines and beers, sour cherries… I'd have said pinot noir but naturally, there isn't a single drop of pinot noir in Latour. Mouth (neat): oh hell, why not! I would suppose the spirit spent only a short time in that Latour barrique, as the grasses, the artichokes, the raspberries, and even the tomato leaves in there seem to behave. Some nougat too, sesame, oranges… With water: clap clap clap, this is the best part. Raspberry liqueur with some seawater and smoked almonds. Sounds extremely loco, I know, but since balance was achieved, I would applaud the combination. I'm sure this is not only the result of pure luck. Finish: long, on peppered and smoked strawberries this time. Strawberries and pepper works. Comments: phew! Now please make this again…
SGP:766 - 86 points.

Quick, a last clean one… No, actually not, I think I'll keep those smoked strawberries in my mouth for a little longer, adios.

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


December 2021 - part 1 <--- December 2021 - part 2 ---> Current entries


 

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Imperial 25 yo 1996/2021 (53.6%, Watt Whisky, refill barrel)

Imperial 24 yo 1995/2020 (51.5%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, bourbon, cask #7854, 127 bottles)

Strathisla 15 yo (57%, Gordon & MacPhail, distillery label, 75cl, +/-1988)

Strathisla 13 yo 1981/1995 (63%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, sherrywood)

Secret Speyside 30 yo 1990/2021 (46.6%, The Whisky Jury, refill hogshead, cask #TWJ-GL-1990, 159 bottles)

Knappogue Castle 25 yo 1996/2021 (53.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Ex-libris, 'The Remarkable Rocket')

Knappogue Castle 27 yo 1994/2021 (50.3%, La Maison du Whisky, Ex-libris, 'The Happy Prince')

Vallein Tercinier 'Lot 75 GrapeDiggaz' (51.7%, OB for Kirsch Import and Wu Dram Clan, Petite champagne, 252 bottles, 2021)

Bas-armagnac 1972/2021 (42.7%, Grosperrin for The Auld Alliance Singapore)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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