Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2009 - Part 1
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
Linkwoods? Right, that may not exist
but just for fun, we’d like
to try to compare three Linkwoods
that should be very dissimilar –
but all bottled at 43% vol. - and
check if ‘distillery profiles’
remain despite very different treatments
and ages. We'll have avery young indie,
a large batch official and an 'old
1999/2008 (43%, Jean Boyer Gifted
Colour: pale gold. Nose: ultra-fresh
and ultra-clean, all on apple juice,
pineapple juice, vanilla crème
and coconut cake, with faint hints
of roses and lychees that give it
a slight gewürztraminer side.
It’s the second time I nose
this and whilst it was rather closed
and uninspiring the first time, it
really developed with a little ‘bottle
breathing’. Proof that one should
always be cautious with brand new
bottles. Mouth: once again, this is
more open than when I first tried
it. Maraschino, Williamine, orange
cake and vanilla crème, with
again a little coconut and an unexpected
saltiness. Finish: medium long, more
on stone fruits spirit. Kirsch aged
in oak. Comments: good clean fruity
stuff, I’ll keep this one for
next summer. SGP:531 - 80
12 yo (43%, Flora and Fauna, +/-2003)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: a grassier
and oilier version, with less cleanliness
but maybe also more complexity. Hints
of asparagus, olive oil, fresh putty,
fresh almonds and earl grey tea, with
also a little fresh butter (but a
very faint rancidness) and unusual
notes of sage and wild thyme. Also
paraffin – OBE starting, gets
then more and more almondy. Mouth:
once again, this is more vegetal and
kind of resinous and waxy than the
indie 1999. Malty, then orange zests,
green tea, bitter almonds and un-sugared
chamomile tea. It’s good whisky,
a bit old school. Finish: medium-long,
drier than before, mainly on liquorice
wood. Comments: a rather austere composition,
pretty anti-modern I’d say.
- 82 points.
37 yo 1939 (43% Gordon & MacPhail,
Connoisseur’s Choice, Pinerolo,
We had a 43yo 1939 bottled under the
‘licensed label’ by G&M
last year and it was very good (90),
so we have high expectations. By the
way, too bad we don’t know when
this was bottled. If it was before
Sept 3, it’s pre-war whisky,
as Britain declared war on Germany
on that very day. If it’s after
Sept 3, well, this is wartime whisky,
obviously. Colour: amber. Nose: holy
crow! Like all whiskies in this ‘black
label’ series, this whisky is
totally amazing. 37 years in wood
+ 31 years in glass = pure magic.
Old orange liqueur, old books, orgeat
syrup (almonds, sugar and rose water),
brown coal smoke, turpentine, graphite,
Havana cigar, caramel fudge, argan
oil… And thousands of other
tiny bits of smells. Totally fantastic
and eminently complex. Mouth: right,
right, it’s probably not as
thrilling as on the nose now, and
rather dry and austere (in that sense
close to the Flora and Fauna version).
Slightly metallic and cardboardy,
herbal, smoky, a little bitter (chlorophyll
gums)… Mint drops, stomach bitter…
Well, you see what I mean. Finish:
medium long, rather dry and drying
now but certainly not undrinkable.
Same notes of maraschino as in the
much younger Jean Boyer. Comments:
the nose was purely out of this world
but the palate was a bit tired, which
will prevent this one from getting
to 90 or more (why don’t you
drop your silly rules, S?) Now, what
was interesting globally was to find
the same notes of small cherries and
almonds in all three Linkwoods, even
if one of them was distilled exactly
60 years after another one. SGP:363
- 89 points.
Campbell 21 yo ‘Legendary’
(43%, OB, France, blend, +/-1995)
There used to be also a 18yo ‘Legendary’
in a flask-shaped bottle. This old
21 was in a very good restaurant last
night (Armes de France in Ammerschwihr)
and as often, they would fill up your
glass to the same level, whether on
the rocks or not. Which means that
if you’re asking for a ‘naked’
shot, you end up with a +/-8cl dram!
Enough for some tasting notes…
Colour: amber – orange. Nose:
very mellow, on very nice notes of
orange marmalade and strawberry jam,
very jammy as a matter of fact. Goes
on with quite some fudge, caramel,
fruitcake and old rum, with a large
proportion of malt. Very nice.
smooth, round, very honeyed, malty
and caramelly. Comments: a perfect
after-dinner dram, not too demanding,
with a very faint smokiness in the
finish. Very cognac-alike in fact,
that’s why it was quite big
in France I guess ;-). All pleasure.
SGP:432 – 84 points.
listening: No, it’s not Bob
Dylan vintage 1966, it’s Portland’s
very excellent Blitzen
Trapper playing Furr.mp3.
Please buy thèse good guys’
Inchgower 15 yo 1992/2007 (46%, Duncan
Taylor, NC2, cask #6649)
Colour: white wine. Nose: starts extremely
spirity, youngish, inexpressive and
chalky. Gets then more porridgy and
yeasty, but that’s pretty all.
This fellow hasn’t much to say
it seems… Scottish vodka? Mouth:
bitterish, cardboardy, very simple
on the fruit front (apples), with
just a little salt like we sometimes
get in Inchogower. No smokiness, though.
Finish: rather long, on something
rather weird… Something like
salted slivovitz! Comments: maybe
not flawed as such, but we’ve
had much better Inchgowers by Duncan
Taylor. It’s true that they
were older whiskies, distilled in
the late 1960s. SGP:261 -
20 yo 1985/2005 (60.8%, Usquebaugh
Society, cask #5633, 250 bottles)
This one is a Dutch bottling. Colour:
pale gold. Nose: punchy and spirity,
grassy, mineral and… overpowering.
Let’s add water straight away.
With water: it got phenolic, meaty
and farmy like Inchgower can be, with
maybe faint hints of sulphur but nothing
unpleasant. Other than that it’s
all on smoked ham, leather and vegetable
soup plus strawberry crème.
Very nice profile, not common at all.
Mouth (neat): once again, it’s
a bit hard and harsh when undiluted,
even if one may distinguish pleasant
spicy and leathery tones beyond the
raw power. With water: spicy and herbal,
pleasantly bitter, meaty (beef jerky)
and salty. Just a tad cardboardy as
well. Good oakiness and then more
cooked vegetables. Finish: rather
long, with more salt and more oak.
Comments: uncommon whisky for big
boys. Certainly not an easy/sweet
tipple. SGP:362 – 86
26 yo 1980/2007 (59.8%, Adelphi, cask
#14155, 223 bottles)
This little baby stunned most Maniacs
at the awards 2008 and fetched both
gold and the Non-Plus-Ultra Award
in the premium category. Colour: dark
coffee, almost as black as a black
Mercedes. Nose: hot and highly concentrated,
with tons of sherry, fruit jams and
liqueurs as well as some beautiful
floral notes (peonies first). But
this is very heavy, water is certainly
needed. With water: huge beefiness.
Oxtail bouillon, herbs, chervil, parsley…
Once again, big and extreme. Mouth
(neat): huge! Extreme richness and
concentration, loads of bitter chocolate
and bitter oranges. Almost aggressive
when undiluted. With water: pure chocolate
liqueur mixed with strong coffee and
various spices and herbs. Not less
concentrated as when undiluted –
we get the feeling that we could bring
this one down to 1% vol., it would
still be amazingly rich. Finish: very
long, a little more on toffee and
brandy (rather Armagnac). Comments:
a huge sherry monster that’s
maybe more Japanese than Scottish
in style, reminding me of the most
sherried Yamazakis. I’ve been
a little less thrilled that most of
my maniacal colleagues when I tried
this one blind for the first time
and shall stick with my first (still
high) score. SGP:462 - 88
- We just saw on Ardbeg’s website
that there will be a new ‘Ardbeg
Supernova’, a probably
very young malt peated to 100ppm.
Price: £65 – Peat is expensive,
you know! Sci-Tech Encyclopedia's
definition: a supernova is 'The
catastrophic, explosive death of a
star, accompanied by the sudden, transient
brightening of the star to an optical
luminosity comparable to that of an
update: a WF correspondent
tells us that the Supernova has been
deleted from Ardbeg's website. Was
it only a joke? Playing with words?
Testing the brand's buzzability? Teasing?
it's back, it's real, it's alive!
listening: Did you know this rather
gloomy but very ‘interesting’
version of A
day in the life.mp3 by the Wolfgang
Dauner Quartet? Wofgang
Dauner used to be part of the legendary
United Jazz And Rock Ensemble back
in the 1970s and we liked them a
lot at Whiskyfun – please
buy the quartet’s music!
– THREE NEW GLENROTHES
17 yo 1990/2008 (59.9%, The Clydesdale,
Sherry cask #0221/11001, 542 bottles)
We usually sort the whiskies by increasing
ABV but when some are much older than
others, we prefer to put them at the
end. But then we have to be careful
with the high strength ones, Eugene.
Colour: amber/orangey. Nose: hot and
maybe a tad lactic and buttery, but
otherwise pleasantly candied and fruity
(dried bananas and pears). Kirsch.
With water: as often, it gets much
wilder and that doesn’t diminish.
Leather (horse saddle), wet hay, Virginia
tobacco (amazingly huge notes), hawthorn
tea, cherry liqueur, overripe oranges,
wood smoke… Quite superb and
completely different with water. Also
more spices (ginger, garam masala).
Mouth (neat): extremely powerful,
both candied and rubbery, tasting
somewhat like fruit spirit newmake.
Yes, kirsch. With water: once again,
water worked, even if a little less
so than on the nose. Sweeter, richer,
fruitier, all on orange marmalade
and spices. Yes, garam masala again.
Slight over-woodiness. Finish: long,
grassier now, on various herbal teas
and liquorice. Comments: as good a
swimmer as Michael Phelps or Alain
Bernard. SGP:361 - 86 points.
24 yo 1984/2008 (46%, Jack Wieber,
Castle Collection, cask #1696, 150
Colour: white wine. Nose: an unusually
austere and grassy Glenrothes. Very
little fruitiness, rather whiffs of
crushed almonds, linseed oil and apple
peeling, with hints of cologne in
the background (N°4711 of course).
A bit hard in our opinion. Mouth:
well, more or less the same happens
here. Unexpectedly immature, a little
spirity, rough, close to tutti-frutti
eau-de-vie. It’s not unpleasant,
though, just… well, unexpected.
Finish: rather long but even more
on plum spirit. Comments: good spirit
but rather far from SMSW. From a very
inactive cask, for sure. Kind of ‘aromatically
nude’, I’d say. SGP:530
- 78 points.
39 yo 1969/2008 (46.5%, Duncan Taylor,
Rare Auld, cask #12889)
All these 1968s and 1969s by Duncan
Taylor are very good, and some are
even stellar (like this one’s
sister cask, #12890, which we scored
92). Colour: gold. Nose: did you ever
put your nose over an opened beehive
that’s full of honey? This Glenrothes
smells exactly like that – minus
the stings (believe me, I have beekeepers
in the family). Fantastically fruity,
honeyed, resinous and flowery. Big
engine! Enough said… Mouth:
the palate could have been tired and
overly oaky but it’s not! Excellent
fruitiness, perfect balance, and an
avalanche of honeys, fresh and dried
fruits, aromatic herbs (mint, dill
and many others) and various confectionaries.
Finish: medium-long, with a classy
oaky signature. Comments: bang for
your bucks. SGP:651 –
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listening: the wonderful WF favourite
Yamagata doing a mesmerizing
afternoon.mp3 (that's on her
2005 Japan exclusive CD 'live at
the loft'). Please buy Miss Yamagata's
– THREE GLEN SCOTIAS
Scotia 16yo 1992/2008 (46%, Murray
McDavid for Ermuri Berlin, cask ref
92225, Rum casks Aced)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s
not that we don’t like rum (quite
the contrary), but this smells like
plain rum indeed. A candied and rather
grassy kind of rum, of very good quality.
Scotchness is absent here, at least
until a good ten minutes, when the
heavy notes of rum have evaporated
so to speak. But what’s behind
isn’t particularly characterful.
Mouth: a little less rum as such at
the attack, and more bananas and even
bubblegum and liquorice. Kind of ‘lazy’.
Slight saltiness from the whisky that
starts to fight the rummy notes, the
whole actually improving. Unusual
combination for sure. Finish: rather
long and, I must say, even more enjoyable
now, with funny notes of green olives.
Comments: one can feel that the finishing
really improved the base whisky here,
even if that produced a spirit that’s
not quite whisky and not quite rum.
We preferred the palate – an
interesting dram! (I thought it was
an Irish when I first tried it blind).
SGP:552 – 79 points.
Scotia 32yo 1975/2008 (46%, Chieftain's
choice, cask #2191, 78 bottles)
A part of this cask had already been
bottled at cask strength under the
Dun Bheagan label two years ago, so
these 78 bottles where probably what
was left in the cask. Colour: pale
gold. Nose: this one is a rather typical
very yeasty, organic, porridgy Glen
Scotia, even after all these years.
Big notes of baker’s yeast and
even hints of baby vomit (which is,
of course, much less offensive than
a boozehound’s vomit). Actually,
this is very spectacular but also
extremely difficult. Mouth: way, way
nicer than on the nose! Very unusual
again but more polished, pleasantly
fruity, slightly peaty, salty, unusually
grassy (bitter leaves)… Nah,
still, this is strange brew. Finish:
long and flinty this time, dry, kind
of rummy again – but I don’t
think this was a rum cask!
a very strange beast. The nose alone
is worth trying – if you’re
an experimentation freak that is.
Maybe the state of the equipment at
the distillery has something to do
with these strange smells, even if
it was probably in a better shape
in 1975 (see recent photograph, courtesy
‘ttn’ over at the whisky-distillerie
forum). SGP:362 - 77 points
(because it’s interesting malt
Scotia 27yo 1966/1994 (51.5%, Signatory,
Dumpy, casks #1271-72, 480 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: we’re in
a different league here and much closer
to Springbank in a certain way. Waxy,
phenolic, orangey and gingery, and
even a little ‘maritime’,
with hints of fresh seaweed. Also
great notes of old sweet white wine,
good barrel, pepper, peat, almonds…
Kind of a crossbreed between Springbank
and Talisker. Very, very nice nose,
a little old-style. Mouth: very beautiful
attack, rather peaty, grassy and citrusy.
Once again it’s no easy whisky
but balance is achieved and provided
you’re not against bitterness
in your whisky (okay, Jägermeister),
you’ll love this if you can
find a bottle. Notes of tequila, walnut
liqueur, liquorice, pine resin (even
good retsina)… A lot of ‘good’
oak as well. Great whisky, slightly
austere but very distinguished. Finish:
long and more maritime and salty,
maybe more Talisker than Springbank
now. Comments: I think it’s
my favourite Glen Scotia so far. SGP:354
- 90 points.
listening: the excellent country-blues
vocalist and guitarist Precious
Bryant did a nice version
in 2002 (on her CD Fool me good).
Please buy Precious Bryant's music.
McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
– THREE OFFICIAL PULTENEYS
Pulteney 17 yo (46%, OB, Bottled +/-
We always quite liked Old Pulteney
17, a whisky that used to be a bit
old-school. The labels for both the
17 and the 21 have changed, going
from paper to silkscreen. Kind of
an anti-Bowmorian move, so to speak.
Colour: straw. Nose: the typical coastal,
briny notes are well here but we feel
this is less mature than earlier batches
used to be. A little spirity and quite
yeasty and porridgy, with rather huge
notes of apples and pears as well
as a little mint, nutmeg and vanilla.
It’s balanced spirit but it’s
also rather simple spirit in our opinion.
More fresh bourbon than before? After
fifteen minutes: huge notes of coconut,
rather ‘too much’. Mouth:
similarly simple and fruity. Apples,
pears, coconuts, fresh walnuts, barley
sugar and a little salt, then more
vanilla. Once again, balance is perfectly
achieved but there isn’t much
thrill. Finish: clean, medium long,
more on vanilla fudge and salted butter
toffee, with an aftertaste on coconut
teacakes. Comments: it’s very
good whisky but Pulteney’s traditional
Highland style is a little absent
here. Too modern? SGP:531
- 79 points.
Pulteney 21 yo (46%, OB, Bottled +/-
There has been a vintage version of
the 21yo, a 1983 that was very good
(86). This version bears no vintage.
Colour: pale gold. Nose: a completely
different league, as if four more
years made all the difference. Just
as coastal as the 17 but also much
more complex, even if the general
profile is more or less the same.
Oatcakes, muesli, natural apple juice,
pear peel, iodine, butterscotch, liquorice
wood, hints of verbena herbal tea.
Ends up with nice whiffs of freshly
cut pineapple and rhubarb mixed with
candle wax and ginger beer. And a
minty oakiness. Mouth: excellent attack
and body, sweet and round but truly
‘old Highland’. Salty
and gingery, slightly ‘wild’
in that sense, with quite some waxy
and resinous notes. Peppered oysters.
Finish: long, even saltier and more
phenolic. Pleasant ‘metallic’
notes. Comments: great whisky, instantly
recognisable (well, we did at the
MM Awards when we tried it blind,
but nothing to brag about, it’s
very easy). SGP:453 - 87 points.
Pulteney 16 yo 1990/2008 (60.3%, OB,
bourbon, cask #5502)
This one was only available at the
distillery, and had to be hand-filled.
Fashion! Colour: gold. Nose: much
more closed, with more grassy notes,
quite some coconut again and hints
of raw medicinal alcohol. This one
will probably need quite some water,
like all coastal distilleries (joking).
With water: much more hay, mint and
aniseed and then the expected whiffs
of sea air. Quite some coconut left
ut less than when neat. Mouth (neat):
much more ‘assessable’
on the palate than on the nose when
naked. Excellent fruitiness and very
pleasant bitter notes (green tea).
Other than that it’s all on
coconuts, cardamom, ginger and salt.
Less vanilled than we had feared.
With water: even more so. Excellently
straightforward, salty (very) and
fruity (gooseberries). Perfect oakiness.
Finish: long, clean and, you guessed
it, very salty. Hints of soft curry
and cardamom again in the aftertaste,
which gives it an Indian side. Comments:
a little less complex than the 21
but certainly as drinkable. Good bourbon
wood, the spirit being big enough
not to have become simplistically
vanilled and lactony here. SGP:442
- 86 points. (And thanks,
is a good little French pop band
and here's their nice little song
que les hommes pleurent.mp3.
Please buy Caracol's music.
YOUNG FINISHED LAPHROAIGS
7 yo 2000/2008 (58.2%, La Maison
du Whisky, refill butt, La Préceptorie
Finish, 445 bottles)
La Préceptorie make various
wines from Maury, usually very sweet
and rich. Colour: gold. Nose: rich,
unusual combination of straight
peat with sultanas. Very nice but
it’s as if both aromas were
mutually annihilating each other.
Maybe water will help! With water:
it gets extremely animal. Cow stable,
horse sweat, rabbit and Havana cigars.
Amazing! Then a little mint and
(neat): extremely rich, heavy, sweet
and animal. Interesting but very weird.
Apricot jam, ginger, honey. Too sweet
for my taste. With water: bizarre,
something like caramelized reared
roe-deer? Extremely unusual. Finish:
long but very leathery and losing
its sweetness. Comments: really a
strange spirit, kind of a love/hate
assembling as both the Maury and the
very young Laphroaig are very heavy
liquids. War in a glass? SGP:557
- 79 points (scored 100%
blind). It is to be noted that this
one fetched a much higher average
(85 points) at the MM Awards 2008.
10 yo ‘Clinto Cask’ (55.7%,
Private, Diego Sandrin)
Our friend Diego did let a huge stash
of cask strength Laphroaig further
mature for 14 month in a Clinto cask.
Clinto is a vigorous red wine, also
known as Clinton. It’s well
known for its resistance to phylloxera
and within Italy, it’s mostly
to be found in Venetia. Colour: gold.
Nose: this is drier and straighter
than the 2000, and probably more complex.
Very pleasant notes of old wine cellar,
fresh mushrooms, leather, medicine
(old medicine cabinet), maraschino
and something very dry, that reminds
me of ultra-dry Champagne. Right,
Proseco. With water: more oak, pencil
lead, pine resin and, just like in
the 2000, some animal notes, but much
less extreme. Mouth (neat): we’re
much closer to the original spirit
than with the 2000 here, even if once
again, this is very rich. Good balance.
Ginger liqueur, Grand-Marnier and
a lot of peat and salt.
water: it’s funny how the wine
cask did not impart any obvious winey
notes but rather something quite resinous
that fits Laphroaig pretty well. Eucalyptus
drops, mint, camphor, fir honey (honeydew),
cough medicine… Very nice balance.
Finish: very long and much closer
to regular CS Laphroaig, as if the
brilliant spirit had finally absorbed
all ‘winey’ notes. Funny
return on maraschino. Comments: very,
very good. Sure, the base whisky was
already totally top-notch (and no
dodgy and boring immature whisky)
but still, this is very well done.
Let’s only hope that our friend
Diego made enough of this. If you're
interested in his experiments you
may drop him a line at diegoATdiegosandrinDOTcom.
SGP:457 - 90 points.
listening: certainly one of the
best blues-rock super-trios ever,
Bloomfield (of Electric
Kooper (of Blood, Sweat
& Tears) and Stephen
Stills (of CSN&Y
of course) are playing Donovan's
unusually groovy interstellar hit
of the witch.mp3 (on their 1968
LP 'Super Session'). Sadly, Bloomfield
died in 1983, but please buy these
famous gentlemen's music!
VERY OLD GLENFIDDICH
29 yo 1956/1985 (50.6%, Intertrade,
384 bottles, sherry)
Independent Glenfiddichs are very
rare, and we have to rely on old stashes
to be able to try some. Colour: gold.
Nose: superb, almost magnificent in
its extreme yet fantastically subtle
oakiness! I think I almost never smelled
a whisky that was so woody and so
complex at the same time. ‘Anti-plankish’
(what?), instantly hinting at an old
Jaguar (saloon) or maybe a Rolls-Royce
(but how would we know?) and then
distributing aromas as a machine gun
would distribute bullets, that is
to say one after the other at a heavy
pace. Apricot pie, incense, cigar
box, camphor, ginger, wood varnish,
beeswax, banana skin, very old rum,
leather polish, fresh almonds…
And then the sherry comes out, almost
brutally, with huge notes of coffee
that just ran out of the expresso
machine. Superb, very superb. Mouth:
ho-ho-ho! Thick, deep, rich, fruity,
phenolic and resinous, with once again
a lot of oak and once again a beautiful
one. An avalanche of dried fruits
(figs, bananas, pears, apricots, dates,
prunes… Actually, you have them
all) as well as all spices (and even
a little salt), all that doing ‘the
peacock’s tail’ in the
most beautiful manner. How rich! Finish:
as long as a Neil Young guitar solo,
maybe just a tad bitter now (the tannins
are big) but with also some very,
very ‘funny’ notes of
raspberry eau-de-vie that make for
an unexpected, yet most pleasant signature.
Comments: Intertrade! These people
knew their job – and they still
do. Stellar old Glenfiddich, now my
#1 on the GF list! SGP:663
- 94 points.
1955/2006 ‘Private Vintage’
(52.6%, OB for World of Whisky, cask
#4221, 201 bottles)
Priced at, errmlmnmlrmnl… £5,000.00
a bottle. But hell, it’s 50
years old! Colour: very pale gold.
Nose: this is fresher and, quite ironically,
fruitier than the ‘youngster’,
as if the cask had been much less
active during all these years. Notes
of wild flowers, butterscotch and
plain butter plus, at the fruit department,
high-end apple juice and orange juice.
Becomes partly similar to the 1956
after a moment, with the same notes
of leather polish, soot and fresh
almonds, but also something more mineral.
Graphite oil. This one really reminds
me of the 1955 that was bottled for
H-H Hansen, that I could try on Feb
8, 2006. It’s superbly pure.
Mouth: this is a little rounder and
more polished, but there’s also
more oak than on the nose. Also something
that reminds me of the very old Jones
Road Irish that I had a few weeks
ago, but this is much, much more pleasant.
Quite some wood extracts that are
in the ‘mint – eucalyptus
– camphor’ category but
that aren’t over the top at
all here, without one single ounce
of bitterness. Also sweet spices (white
pepper, nutmeg). Very excellent and
directly pleasant. I mean, it’s
no intellectual ‘I-have-to-scratch-my-head’
old whisky at all. Finish: medium-long,
rather more citrusy at this stage
and very, very elegant. Comments:
much more than just a curiosity or
a vanity bottling for emirs in transit
at Heathrow, this is ‘damn good
Scotch’, as Kramer would have
said. But I doubt Kramer would have
shelled out £5,000 for one bottle
of this. SGP:462 - 91 points.
PS: last minute update – just
found out that this is actually the
same cask as the
one that was bottled for our friend
H-H Hansen. So much for our consistency
in assessing and scoring whiskies!
30yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2008)
The 30 is a dram that I always liked,
let’s see how these newer batches
handle the situation… Colour:
gold. Nose: less complex than the
oldies but not less appealing with
its rich, silky profile all on very
ripe plums, old roses and high-end
oak. Also crystallised oranges and
a very pleasant smokiness (wood).
Very nice, very classic. Mouth: sweet,
soft, absolutely not ‘ridiculous’
after the two fit fighters we just
had, all on bitter oranges, soft and
silky oak and maybe mango cake. Vanilla
cake, orange cake. Finish: longer
than expected, clean, balanced and
rather complex. Comments: pleasantly
old style – if not old school.
I assume many unlearned execs have
bought this at Duty Free Shops, which
is a pity. This 30yo should be reserved
to us malt lovers. SGP: -
the way, if you’re into old
you may have a look at the ‘future
100 years old’ that Canadian
Dyment has buried deep somewhere
in the distillery’s warehouse
#8 last year. The whisky now rests
in a sherry butt and will only be
bottled in 2108. For now, you’ll
get one of the very dadaist empty
wooden boxes (US $2,000 a piece) named
‘A Drink To Us (When We’re
Both Dead)’, which will ‘maybe’
nestle the 100 year old Glenfiddich
when it’ll be unearthed. Now,
it is to be noted that the ‘contract’
between the buyer and the distillery/artist
stipulates that ‘In the event
of future prohibition, this contract
is null and void’. We’re
also wondering if there will be enough
whisky left in the cask to fulfil
the contract (but they sell only 25
pieces so that may work), but also
if the probable absence of air will
actually allow the spirit to age.
Imagine a 100yo malt whisky that would
taste like plain sherry-infused newmake!
all this is art, of course, even if
nothing really new as many artists
have already buried such ‘gifts’
to future generations, especially
around the year 2000. There’s
for instance a ‘modern art cemetery’
in Normandy where artists and owners
can bury the pieces that they don’t
wish to keep anymore. Anyway, as we
can see, Marcel
Duchamp’s spirit still blows
over France, Canada... and Speyside…
<- Marcel Duchamp (1887 - 1968)
listening: music lovers have been
knowing this beautiful deep voice
for more than thirty-five years;
right, he's Elliott
Murphy and this time
he's singing Deep
drunk I love.mp3 (a song about
Dominique Laboubé, leader
of French band the Dogs who died
while on tour in the USA in 2006)
Please buy Elliott Murphy's music.
– THREE PAIRS OF ARRANS
1996/2007 (54.6%, Berry Bros &
Rudd, cask #1507)
Colour: gold. Nose: punchy and powerful,
with a lot of rubber at first sniffing
but getting much cleaner after that,
these rubbery notes having vanished.
Fresh, still young and a tad immature
but rather beautifully citrusy, which
was unexpected. Something of a young
Rosebank? Young rum, lemon marmalade.
With water: more lemon and tangerines,
limoncello. When I first tried this
blind I was almost sure it was Rosebank.
Mouth (neat): very citrusy now, lemony.
Very powerful, a little hard to enjoy
at cask strength. With water: full
lemon marmalade and ginger and then
pure lemon drops. Finish: medium long,
still very lemony but with an added
saltiness. Comments: good, clean and
zesty Arran with an unexpected good
Lowland profile. SGP:540 -
1998/2008 (57.5%, OB for LMdW Paris,
Bourbon cask #675, 213 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose:
punchy, clean, much more waxy and
flinty than the 1996. Goes on with
notes of cut green apple and even
kiwi but there’s a little rubber
again (picked blind twice, in both
malts). Struck matches. With water:
more lemon now, almost as much as
in the 1996. Grassier than when neat
but more polished as well. Mouth (neat):
very punchy but rounder and creamier
than the 1996, with much more vanilla,
probably from the bourbon cask. Notes
of kirsch and plum spirit. Needs water.
With water: more kirsch and more lemon
again but also a slightly strange
bitterness (peach tree leaves?) Raw
fresh oak? Finish: longer, almost
as zesty as the 1996 but a tad metallic
this time. Also vanilla custard. Comments:
another good Arran, but that may have
needed a few extra years to get a
little smoother. SGP:450 -
1998/2008 (52.3%, OB, Sherry, cask
#305, 285 bottles)
Colour: amber. Nose: young punchy
sherry, full of kirsch and gunpowder
and then dried meat (Grisons meat,
bresaola). Strawberry liqueur. Quite
some rubber as well, just like in
the two previous ones, but it’s
below the limits. With water: more
organic, vegetal and pearish. More
yeasty and porridgy notes as well,
as if the sherry casks had ‘cancelled’
its effect on the spirit with water,
which is amusing. Mouth (neat): strong,
fruity, winey and a tad bitter. Herbal
teas, hawthorn, cherry stems. A little
prickly. With water: fruitier but
also grassier. Bubblegum, tea, strawberry
drops, strong green tea. Finish: long,
cleaner, more on orange and ginger
liqueur, with salty touches again.
The aftertaste is a little bitter.
Comments: still a little too young
and rough, as if it wasn’t a
full-term sherry maturing, but a lot
of potential (what a silly comment,
this isn’t a piano exam, is
it?) SGP:451 - 79 points.
10 yo 1996/2007 (56.8%, OB for Potstill
Austria, sherry cask #1759, 267 bottles)
Colour: dark amber. Nose: this sherry
is as bold as in the 1998 but smoother
and more polished, with more coffee
and chocolaty notes. Also blackcurrant
jam and buds, gunflints, plain grass…
A little rubber again. With water:
no ‘sherry cancellation’
here, rather more leather, mushrooms,
meat and tea. Beef jerky. Nice and
entertaining nose I must say, especially
since the ‘bad’ rubber
disappeared. A little camphor. Mouth
(neat): rich and concentrated, more
powerful but more appealing than the
1998. Still a little rough, that is.
Raspberry eau-de-vie running from
the still at 80% vol. ;-). With water:
very good now. Bitter oranges, pepper,
cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cream sherry…
Pleasant flintiness. Finish: long,
rich, creamy, all on candied red fruits
and pepper. Comments: a good three
levels over the 1998 I think. Lucky
Austrians! SGP:541 –
of Arran 12 yo 1996/2008 (46%, Murray
McDavid, enhanced in Château
Margaux, 1,500 bottles)
Colour: salmon. Nose: typical fruity
(blackcurrants, strawberries) and
slightly leafy/grassy notes. Otherwise
we aren’t too far from the two
sherry-matured Arrans, with pleasant
hints of struck matches and tiny whiffs
of rubber bands. A clean product,
let’s say ‘mid-winey’
on the nose. Mouth: it’s the
wood’s spiciness that strikes
first. I don’t know if these
casks were first fill Margaux but
if they were, they sure had a lot
of oak components left. Ginger, cinnamon
and cardamom, then the expected strawberry,
raspberry and blackcurrants jams,
and finally hints of cherry jam as
well. Not too sure the spirit has
much of its say here but the casks
were of high quality, so… Finish:
medium long, clean, fruity, ‘liqueury’.
Comments: a very pleasant drink, very
sweet and fruity, close to a liqueur.
SGP:630 – 80 points.
By the way, we just had a quick H2H
with the Bruichladdich 16yo Château
Margaux Aced. Both were quite similar,
with the powerful wine dominating
the shy-y spirits, but both were also
very drinkable (the Laddie being a
little more playful and even fruitier).
NAS 'Madeira Wine Cask' (50%, OB Ltd
Edition, Bottled 2008, 5760 bottles)
Finished in ‘the finest Madeira
wine cask, sourced directly from the
producer’. Colour: deep gold.
Nose: this is great, with superb notes
of crystallised oranges, baklavas,
leather, smoked tea and even something
like ‘peat’ (granted,
there isn’t any peat). Rose-scented
soap (pleasant here), lychees, orange
blossom… And back on plain oranges.
Perfectly constructed as far as the
nose is concerned, and no obvious
‘vinosity’. Mouth: rich,
complex, fruity (oranges galore),
honeyed, spicy and mineral. It’s
very winey in fact, but it works very
well, maybe because of the wine’s
trademark dryness. It’s not
the first time that I prefer Madeira
over other finishings (like, say at
Benriach’s). Gets more candied
and even caramelly as well as simpler
after a moment, but it’s still
very good. Finish: long, more toffee-ish.
Comments: very good whisky and a finishing
that clearly improved the spirit here.
SGP:541 - 87 points (including
my humble encouragements!)
Last minute: Arran
now have a peated malt out! We hope
we'll try it soon...
listening: let's have some cool
and easy Brazilian (not quite) jazz
today, with Vanessa
Falabella singing Brian
Ferry's hit Don't
stop the dance.mp3. Unlikely?
Not at all! Please buy Vanessa Falabella's
music, she recorded many great covers...
– THREE 1978 GLENGLASSAUGHS
20 yo 1978/1998 (52%, Scotch Malt
Whisky Society, #21.13, 285 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: starts fresh,
malty and grainy, with hints of mustard
and newly sawn fresh oak. Then we
have quite some porridge, fresh bread
(leavening, baker’s yeast) and
ginger tonic, the whole getting grassier
and sort of acrid after a moment.
Very ‘green’, lacking
roundness, even if hints of mocha
and vanilla do come through after
a loooong time, together with whiffs
of soap, alas. A little hard. Mouth:
spirity, ‘simply’ fruity
(apples), even a little sugary, with
once again a tart woodiness. Sweetened
mustard? Big green tannins, gets very
dusty after a short while. Fresh wood.
Not much pleasure here I’m afraid.
With a few drops of water: the nose
gets nicer but still very grassy whilst
the palate gets sugary. Lemon drops.
Finish: long, very grassy. Raw artisanal
grappa. Comments: not as bad as it
sounds but water is obligatory. Really
improves with water but it’s
too unpleasant when naked. SGP:351
- 77 points.
French 1960 magazine ad
27 yo 1978/2005 (50%, Douglas Laing
OMC, REF #1994, 213 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: this is much more
pleasant and interesting than the
SMWS. It’s much more on herbal
teas such as chamomile and linden,
with quite some ‘natural’
vanilla as well, hints of fresh putty,
artichokes (unusual), marzipan, spearmint,
liquorice and ginger. Once again,
a little sweet mustard and then more
coffee, vanilla and a newly opened
box of toffees. Hints of bubblegum.
Entertaining and pleasant, a little
old style. Mouth: first round, then
rather tannic once again but the rest
is big enough to counterbalance the
rather heavy woodiness. A lot of liquorice,
strong green tea, pepper, ginger,
vanilla and a pinch of salt. Less
old-fashioned than on the nose. Finish:
long, getting saltier and saltier.
Comments: really unusual, with very
good body but it’s no easy dram.
SGP:372 - 85 points.
30 yo 1978/2008 (49.8%, The Single
Malts of Scotland, cask #531, 267
From a hogshead, probably sherry.
Colour: amber with green hues. Nose:
quite expressive, starting on notes
of rum and even tequila (old anejo)
as well as husk, shoe polish, dried
beef and Christmas fruitcake. Then
we have notes of maple syrup, hints
of date brandy (arrak), old leather
(horse saddle) and finally a mixture
of smoked ham and liquorice. This
reminds me of some Glen Mhors –
an ‘anti-modern’ malt.
Mouth: much rounder than its bros,
less grassy (even if these notes of
old rum are still there). Candy sugar,
caramelised wood (rum again), dried
apples, bergamot sweets (a specialty
from Nancy in Lorraine), maple syrup
and then various soft spices, mostly
white pepper and dried cardamom. A
slight bitterness (capers?) keeps
it pleasantly nervous. Finish: medium
long, back on rum and tequila. Also
dried bananas, burnt sugar and roasted
raisins. Comments: once again an unusual
Glenglassaugh, very Caribbean this
time. And very good. SGP:551
- 88 points.
listening: the good old Fleshtones
are wondering if The
World has changed.mp3 (in 1982,
on their LP Roman Gods). Good question,
isn't it? Please buy the Fleshtones'
TWO HIGH STRENGTH
17 yo 1990/2007 (64.6%, The Clydesdale,
cask #0150/1967, 205 bottles)
Colour: pale gold.
Nose: sure it’s extremely punchy
but it’s also rather ‘nosable’,
displaying very ‘modern’
notes of vanilla, dried ginger and
café latte, somewhat in the
genre of the Glenlivet Nadurra or
Glenmorangie Artisan/Astar. Superb
clean oakiness, nougat and crystallised
oranges. With water: excellent and
very classy, clean, very compact,
with a lot of vanilla again but also
whiffs of fresh cellulose varnish
and turpentine. Extremely straightforward!
Mouth (neat): viscous and very hot
but once again, rather drinkable (now,
it’s no breakfast malt of course).
Rich wood and a lot of spices, very
‘engineered’ and kind
of Japanese if you see what I mean.
With water: more fruits and more spices.
Ginger spread on fresh strawberries.
Finish: very long, with the oak coming
back for the signature. Comments:
very good, we already liked this a
lot when we first tried it blind.
It really smells and tastes as if
it was re-racked in new oak or first
fill bourbon. SGP:441 –
1990/2002 (65.9%, Blackadder Raw Cask,
cask #1964, 278 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: same
whisky as the Clydesdale, only a little
less vanilled and a little fruitier.
Less rounded, polished and mature.
Same batch, most probably. With water:
much less pleasant than the 17yo now,
yeastier and even a little feinty,
which may prove that this barrel wasn’t
of the same grade as #1967. More coffee
as well. Mouth (neat): we’ve
got exactly the same differences as
on the nose here. Less roundness,
more harshness. A little premature?
Very hot stuff. With water: that worked
well (we’re closer to the 17yo)
but the whole is still a bit rough
around the edges. Ginger tonic. Finish:
long but a little too spirity. Comments:
good whisky but would have benefitted
from more time in oak (and/or a better
cask). SGP:531 – 79
the index of all entries:
malts I had these weeks - 90+
points only - alphabetical:
29 yo 1956/1985 (50.6%,
Intertrade, 384 bottles, sherry)
1955/2006 ‘Private Vintage’ (52.6%,
OB for World of Whisky, cask #4221, 201 bottles)
39 yo 1969/2008 (46.5%, Duncan Taylor,
Rare Auld, cask #12889)
Scotia 27yo 1966/1994 (51.5%, Signatory,
Dumpy, casks #1271-72, 480 bottles)
10 yo ‘Clinto Cask’ (55.7%,
Private, Diego Sandrin)