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Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2012 - Part 2
       

January 2012 - part 1 <--- January 2012 - part 2 ---> February 2012 - part 1

 

January 31, 2012

Whiskyfun

A collection of Caol Ila, ten by ten. Part 2

So more Caol Ilas today, as I've already got ten fresh notes...

caol Ila 12

Caol Ila 12yo (43%, OB, +/- 2011) Three stars and a half Time to revisit this popular version, last time I had a +/-2009 version and liked it (WF 84). Colour: white wine/straw. Nose: it has rather more yeasty/porridgy smells than others, we’re closer to the barley with this OB. The wet dogs are there (I’m sorry, dogs), raw wool, leaven, beer… Then more ashes and coal smoke, touches of manure, dried kelp, seawater… And a little fresh butter. A very ‘natural’ version that just smells ‘Islay’ – even if it’s not matured on the island. Mouth: very nice attack, salty, with some personality and maybe those ‘smoked aubergines’ that I got last time, not too sure anymore ;-). Rounded brine, so to speak, oysters, a greenness (ruccola?), tart apples… Finish: medium long, even saltier, briny, with good peat. Comments: suffers a bit from the 43% vol, with all these 46s around, but the profile is pretty perfect in my opinion. Score unchanged wrt earlier versions. SGP:356 - 84 points.

Caol Ila 1998

Caol Ila 1998/2011 (43% Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur's Choice, first fill sherry) Three stars First fill sherry and such a light colour? A little strange… Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a less zesty version, with rather more butter at first nosing as well as hints of dried bananas – from the sherry? Certainly less ‘focused’ than most other young Caol Ilas, but not unpleasant. Notes of orange cake, putty, just touches of brine and kippers, ideas of chardonnay… A little antiseptic as well. Very curious about the palate… Mouth: a strange one indeed. Maybe a tad flat at first sips, with also something slightly burnt (toasts) and then more and more brine, the spirit starting to have the upper hand but without becoming really ‘big’. Also a little cough syrup and liquorice. Finish: relatively short, with more apple peel and other bitterish elements. Salty aftertaste and again these slight ‘burnt’ notes. Comments: certainly good, but a little, say indecisive for a Caol Ila in my opinion. SGP:455 - 80 points.

Caol Ila

Caol Ila 2000/2011 (58.7%, Gordon & MacPhail for Scoma, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #30981, 296 bottles) Five stars Colour: cognac. Nose: hey hey, interesting! The combination of peat and sherry gives this baby a very chocolaty start, with some raspberry jam and liquorice in the background. Then more fruits, blackcurrants, raisins and then whiffs of diesel oil and walnut stain. Very coherent and full. With water: after the first notes of soap that are soon to vanish (remember, never rush whisky after reduction, there’s very often a ‘soapiness’ that appears but that goes away quick – I think you call that ‘saponification’). After that, gunflints, chocolate, leather and tobacco, both lit and unlit. Great. Mouth (neat): hot but bearable and once again, this little baby is very coherent. Rich, smoky of course, chocolaty, with prunes and Armagnac in the background. Quite amazing how everything mingled to perfection. With water: became a tad dryish but also very nicely spicy, mainly on pepper and cloves. Finish: long, with a great feeling of beef stock and liquorice. Maybe a little bitter in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s always fab to come across such a young whisky that became great because of a, well, great cask. Very well selected, Scoma! Only the slight bitterness in the aftertaste will prevent me from going over 90. SGP:356 - 90 points.

Caol Ila DE

Caol Ila 1997/2010 'Distillers Edition' (43%, OB, C-si; 6-470) Four stars Let’s try this baby, you know, these version that have undergone a bit of cosmetic surgery… Or is it Botox? In this case, the Botox is rather Moscatel… In fact, I really liked the 1996/2008 that showed much improvement over the rather unlikely first CIs ‘DE’ (again, only an opinion!) Colour: pale gold. Nose: greatest of news, no weird muscaty notes at first nosing. In fact, it’s a rather ‘natural’ Caol Ila, and even the slightly winey notes that you first get (no straight mucat, just ‘average’ white wine) tend to vanish. And after just one minute, it’s plain and pure Caol Ila. Hurray!!! Mouth: an extra-sweetness in the attack indeed, rather towards tinned litchis and maybe Turkish delights, but it’s much better integrated than with the first version. Touches of violet liqueur (Parfait Amour), then more pink grapefruits. A feeling of good sauvignon. The peat is moderate. Finish: not very long but well balanced, between the smokiness and the fresh fruits. Comments: no freak at all, despite the very unlikely ‘pedigree’. I should hate this, I don’t; maybe the moscatel got mature? Very drinkable in any case, and it seems it got fruitier and rather less smoky than earlier batches, but with no dissonances. SGP:655 - 85 points.

Caol Ila CAD

Caol Ila 20 yo 1991/2011 (53.4%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 276 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: pale white wine. Nose: right, it’s from very underactive oak and in this context, an age doesn’t mean much. Could be 20, could be 15, could be 10, could be… err, no. Anyway, even if it may be the epitome of ‘slow maturation’ (this baby could go to 100 yo but maybe the cask will be empty before that), I like the profile. It’s ultra-zesty, with superb notes of kippers and quite a lot of almond oil and then a little turpentine. Even in a slow cask, age does matter I guess. Mouth: lovely, very lovely. A peppery peatiness, some lemon, smoked fish, brine, more lemon, more kippers, more smoked oils (sesame, argan)… And even more lemon. Did I tell you I thought it was lovely? Finish: long, the epitome of zestiness in malt whisky. Only the aftertaste is unexpectedly weakish, even when unreduced. Strange. Comments: not totally great (the aftertaste) but almost. This could have gone to 90. SGP:366 - 89 points.

Caol Ila

Caol Ila 28 yo 1983/2012 (54.3%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #3625) Four stars Another one from DT’s new line. Sorry, no pictures yet, so as kittens seem to be the Web’s marrow these days… Colour: dark gold. Nose: oh! A richer old Caol Ila again, unusual and complex straight away. Not the briny/smoky thing at first nosing, rather something like smoked rum, with notes of bananas flambéed and quite some mead. Also patchouli, I think, marzipan… Surprising, I’m wondering where this profile comes from.

Now, it’s pretty much to my liking! After a few minutes, the coastal side comes out, with seashells, then a little sweet cider, then seaweed (kelp), then more camphor and eucalyptus (but little antiseptic)… With water: still moderately smoky, with more leather and earth. Flor, walnuts... Mouth (neat): a little strange now. Parma violets (ala ’82 Bowmore if you like), liquorice rolls, cough syrup, mandarin liqueur… A rather oily texture. With water:  smoked lavender honey, does that exist? Finish: long, with more liquorice coming out and, finally, some brine in the aftertaste. Comments: another dimension of Caol Ila for sure, I’ve never had one like this. I really adored some parts while some others were a little weird. In short, an unorthodox Caol Ila. SGP:554 – 85 points. PS: how did they do that?

Caol Ila

Caol Ila 28 yo 1983/2011 (51.7%, Duncan Taylor, The Octave, cask #400926, 70 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: this one as well is rather richer than the ‘average’ Caol Ila, with rather more maple syrup and vanilla crème than usual. I have to confess I find this kind of tweaking pleasant and successful, especially because there are also great notes of passion fruits and mangos that hint at old Bowmores (1960s), because of the way they synchronise with the peat. Some mint as well. Mouth: same comments. Sure I tend to like natural old CIs better but there’s no obvious feeling of ‘botoxication’ here, as if the malt nicely digested the additional oak treatment. Finish: right, the oak’s a tad too loud now in my opinion, with green tannins that make it all a little biting. Strong green tea and chlorophyll. Comments: I’d make the same comments as for cask #3625. Some parts are very great (nose) while some others are maybe a little more difficult (finish). Opinions opinions… SGP:576 - 85 points.

CI

Caol Ila 2000/2011 (59.1%, Archives, Inaugural Collection, barrel, cask #3309899, 220 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: it’s very clean and unexpectedly fruity at first, without any peat or ashes burst and in that sense it reminds me a bit of the official ‘unpeated style’ at first nosing. Becomes more medicinal after a while, with quite a lot of eucalyptus, Vicks style. With water: the peat comes out, together with ashes and soot, but it never becomes a so-called peat monster. Also more and more oil (heating oil).  Mouth (neat): punchy and as good as a young CI can get, with more or less the same notes as on the nose. Cough syrup, lemon marmalade and smoked salmon. There is some brine as well but rather less than in other CIs in my opinion. With water: classic now. A lot of brine and ashes. Smoked anchovies? Finish: long, drier as often, salty, with this feeling of oil and maybe menthol in the aftertaste. Comments: a different young Caol Ila, of high quality for its age. Corneille said it best: ‘I am young, it is true; but in souls nobly born valour does not depend upon age’. SGP:355 - 87 points.

CI

Caol Ila 27 yo 1983/2011(46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #4824, 400 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: it’s one of these older Caol Ilas that start more on sour fruit juice, as well as on fresh almonds and brine. Putty, marzipan, apple juice, lemon, grapefruit, oysters… The peat is discreet but it’s there, crouching in the darkness ;-). In fact, it’s not unlike the CIs that were distilled in the 1960s (that we only know through G&M’s old bottlings). Also camphor, herbs…  It’s complex whisky! Mouth: ah yes, old style indeed. Do you know Pulmoll? Mint, eucalyptus drops, a sootiness, shellfish, some nutmeg, bergamot, touches of honeydew, liquorice… Remains complex and frankly excellent. Very good body and in this case we wouldn’t have needed ‘cask strength’. Finish: long, with more salt and pepper and some salted anchovies in the aftertaste. Comments: a complex and very drinkable version, smooth but not smoothish (excuse me?) I think it’s just excellent. SGP:455 - 90 points.

CI

Caol Ila 27 yo 1984/2011 (53.5%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, bourbon, 66 bottles) Four stars and a half A micro-bottling, almost devillish… Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s a rather light nose, slightly sappy at first nosing, with also notes of white wine (riesling) and more and more mineral notes (limestone). A little cider and lemon juice as well, old coal stove, rubbed mint leaves… All nice. With water:  brine and cider all over the place, then seaweed, oysters, clams, whelks, dog cockles, lobsters, razor-shells, crabs, langoustines… Well, you get the drift ;-). Mouth (neat): rounded, slightly candied, pleasantly bitter as well (apple peelings). Liquorice and kippers, peppermint… With water:  same very coastal development but not without a roundness (apple compote with lemon). And ashes. Finish: long, very kippery and salty. Ashes and walnuts in the aftertaste. Comments: an immense saltiness here. Spectacular. SGP:366 - 89 points… And ten more Caol Ilas tasted! Don’t worry, there are many more to come…

 

Whiskyfun fav of the month

January 2011

Favourite recent bottling:
Benromach 1969/2011
(42.6%, OB, refill sherry hogshead))  - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Glenfiddich 1956
(unknown ABV, Thomas Bucktrout & Co. Ltd., Guernsey, +/-1970?) - WF 94

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:

Caol Ila 2000/2011
(55.3%, Single Cask Collection, Willi Opitz Homok finish, bourbon) - WF 90
SHORT RAMBLINGS (too long for Twitter! ;-))
ACI, too good to miss
A great and very funny article on Slate. Of course, any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the Andy Emler MegaOctet plays Crouch, Touch, Engage live in Berlin in 2008, with a few FZ accents that make the whole even more thrilling. This has power, naturally. Please buy Andy Emler's music!

Andy Emler
 

January 30, 2012

Whiskyfun

Tasting two new Glen Moray and an aperitif

Let’s start with a quick little aperitif…

Glen Moray

Glen Moray 12 yo 1989/2001 (46%, Signatory, sherry butt, cask #4674, 780 bottles) I’ve put a nice picture because this whisky may need that. Colour: straw. Nose: extremely grassy, to the point where it’s a little unpleasant. Also some damp cardboard, notes of burnt plastic, rubber… Well, rather unpleasant indeed. Mouth: starts with citrusy notes but gets then bitter again, acrid, slightly ‘chemical’, hard to enjoy. Then stale. Finish: medium long, bitter and burnt. Comments: a very hard one in my opinion – but perfect for nose and palate calibration ;-). Also quite in line with the quality of the cheapest official bottlings from ten years ago in my opinion (while some older ones were great). SGP:161 - 59 points.

Glen Moray

Glen Moray 20 yo 1991/2012 (54.8%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #9408) Three stars and a half A brand new one (picture from an earlier version). It’s always a difficult moment when we try the first new bottling of the new year that reached WF Towers I must say – time flies! Colour: straw. Nose: well, there are these slightly difficult notes once again at first nosing, but the good news is that the grassiness is much more complex, ‘wide’ and aromatic. Garden bonfire, leaves, pine needles, mint and bitter oranges. More porridgy in the background. With water: nope, this baby doesn’t swim well. It became ultra-grassy and cardboardy, not far from the 1989. Mouth (neat): starts with quite some lemon marmalade and something peppery, then there’s more cinnamon, vanilla and cinchona. That feeling of ‘Campari’, with also a little ginger tonic. Yes, Campari-Schweppes. With water: add a dash of barley water to your Campari-Schweppes. Finish: medium long, resinous/gingery, with a nice creaminess (marmalade) and a return of citrusy/tarty notes in the aftertaste Grapefruits. Comments: an interesting dram, with ups and downs. The ups are very nice, and the downs not very embarrassing. Oh, and it does not like water! SGP:461 - 83 points.

Glen Moray

Glen Moray 24 yo 1986/2011 (51.7%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #2306, 249 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: starts on coffee and chicory, then more toffee, caramel and butterscotch. Rounded and, well, pleasant. With water: keeps developing on kumquats and quinces, as well as a little beeswax. Very nice nose! Mouth (neat): a very surprising earthiness at first sips, with a lot of liquorice and bitter cough syrup. Oily mouth feel. Goes on with more mint and passion fruits, then notes of butter cream that match the nose. With water: excellent, creamy and fruity, somewhat tropical (pina colada). Where’s the distillery again? Finish: quite long, nervous, citrusy. I get lime, kiwis and passion fruits. Comments: all pleasure this time, with no downs. Great cask and perfect age? SGP:551 - 88 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the wonderful late Andrew Hill plays an amazing slice of fusionesque jazz called Calliope (from his brilliant album on Blue Note 'One for One', 1975). Please buy Andrew Hill's music.

Andrew Hill
 

January 29, 2012

Whiskyfun

Tasting three Glenfiddich, including two indies

There was a new Glenfiddich for charity last year, time to try it. And for good measure, we’ll add some other Glenfiddichs at high strength, two rather rare independents!

Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich 18 yo 1993/2011 (50.8%, OB, Foundation Reserve for 125 years of the Benevolent Charity, cask #29670, 500 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: what do you get in good ripe Glenfiddichs? That’s right, good ripe apples. It’s certainly the case here, but there’re not only apples of course. Also quite some cinnamon and vanilla, some hay, nutmeg, grass… Gets drier and drier in fact. With water: more fruits coming out, pears, cherries, strawberries… But it remains rather ‘young’. Did I mention apples? Mouth (neat): litres of apple juice and quite a lot of pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg, probably from fairly active oak. A faint sourness (cider apples) and hints of ale. And more and more pepper. With water: spiced apple juice (ginger, cinnamon). Finish: not very long, but clean and fruity, with always these apples and pears and only ideas of litchi liqueur in the aftertaste. And cinnamon. Comments: not a very wide personality but in its style, it’s very enjoyable. SGP:441 - 84 points.

Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich-Glenlivet 21 yo 1973/1994 (54.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: well, this is older and rounder, with those apples again but also more, much more honey and beeswax than in the OB. Also whiffs of camphor, papayas, menthol, liquorice… Beautiful! With water: more of the same but with more emphasis on the honeyed notes. Honeycomb and a few mint leaves. Mouth (neat): creamy, rich, fruity, like many other oldish bottlings from the same era at Cadenhead’s. It must have been a style that used to click up there at the time. In fact, there’s more and more bitter oak coming though after a while but it remains quite rich and honeyed. Also papaya juice again. With water: same, with an added earthiness that complements the spices – well, the rather big tannicity. Finish: long, with bags of white pepper that starts to burry the fruitiness. Unexpected drops of rosewater in the aftertaste. Comments: the oak’s quite loud but the honeyed fruitiness is rather brilliant. A walk between two worlds… SGP:661 - 88 points.

Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich 1979/1990 (57%, Samaroli, cask #14797, 480 bottles) Two stars and a half An old bottling but a young whisky. Colour: white wine. Nose: I told you about apples and pears… well, we ain’t seen nothing yet, Randy ;-).  Indeed, this is a pure mix of apple and pear juices, with grass and a few rocks or some gravel thrown in for good measure. Or rather graphite oil? So, a very narrow profile, almost vodka-ish in fact. Bottle ageing didn’t do anything (for once!), or maybe twenty tears isn’t enough. With water: the grassy and mineral side grows even bigger. Bye-bye apples and pears! Mouth (neat): ‘artificial’ apple juice (from concentrate) and wheelbarrows of bitter herbs. A tad difficult, I must say, even if the notes of lime that start to rise after a few seconds aren’t unpleasant. Finish: better. Candied citron, lime and ginger tonic. Comments: an unusually sharp Glenfiddich, saved by citruses. It may have been quite a gamble to bottle this 22 years ago – and you just cannot always win, can you? SGP:461 - 79 points.

(With thanks to Konstantin G. and Benjamin S.)

 

January 27, 2012

Whiskyfun

Tasting two 1998 Miltonduff plus a pre-aperitif and an aperitif

Mosstowie

Mosstowie 1979/2001 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur's Choice) Two stars and a half Remember, Mosstowie = Lomond stills at Miltonduff. Colour: white wine. Nose: heeeeelllloooooo? Someone there? I’m joking, it’s not completely silent but there isn’t much happening in my opinion. A few fresh fruits, mostly white ‘garden’ ones and hints of oatcakes, porridge, custard… Its actually quite pleasant but very, very light. Perfect aperitif? Mouth: once again, ‘pleasant’ is the right word. Apple and pear juice with touches of spices, cinnamon… Herbal teas as well. Again, it’s all very light. Finish: short but cleanly fruity. A little more lemon and oranges as well. Comments: didn’t we just have whisky? Seriously, it’s a ‘pleasant’ (for lack of a better term) and light Scotch malt whisky. SGP:331 - 78 points.

Let’s try to find another light one, but a ‘genuine’ Miltonduff this time…

Miltonduff

Miltonduff 10 yo 1989/2000 (43%, Hart Bros) Two stars Colour: gold. Nose: ahem. Hello? Actually lighter than the Mosstowie, buttery, with some indistinct whiffs of sherry flying around. Also a little parmesan… Quite butyric. Also some straight sulphur, exhaust fumes… You got it, I don’t like this too much. Let’s move on… Mouth: a good surprise, this is rather cleaner despite these notes of stale pepper in the attack. Peppered oranges, leather… And it does keep improving, with a more complex spiciness and some pleasant notes of marmalade as well as, maybe, some apple chutney. Finish: short but even cleaner. Leather, oranges and cloves. Comments: the nose was non-existent (and yes I took my time) but the palate was quite satisfying. In short, whisky for drinking ;-). SGP:441 - 76 points.

Miltonduff Berry

Miltonduff 1998/2011 (57%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Berry’s Own Selection, cask #3605) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: this feeling of fresh butter and cut grass once again, as well as a little marzipan. This seems to be pretty naked and well-balanced but it’s a little aggressive so let’s add water right away, cuz I need mee nose. With water: farmyard and hay. Very close to the mash, as they say. Also a little mint and ‘good’ vinegar. Mouth (neat): sweet malt and orange drops all over the place, then a feeling of cranberry juice. I think this is good but again, it’s very powerful (yet, the strength is moderate, isn’t it? ;-)) With water: nice development on ‘Indian’ spices and oranges. Caraway seeds, cardamom… That came unexpected, wins points here. Finish: rather long. Oranges and cardamom. Comments: naked spirit of good quality. I can see why somebody skilled would have selected this cask, it’s very pure and, again, perfectly ‘naked’, with no off-notes. If you like them natural… SGP:441 - 83 points.

Miltonduff

Milton Duff 13 yo 1998/2011 (61.4%, Riverstown, cask #3603, 324 bottles) Three stars and a half In case you’re wondering, Milton Duff is Miltonduff ;-) and Riverstown is Blackadder. Colour: white wine. Nose: more or less the same whisky as the BBR, only sharper and, maybe, more porridgy/buttery. Hot chocolate. With water: same as the BBR. Very mashy – rather pleasantly so. Maybe a notch more mineral (splitting hairs now). Mouth (neat): exactly the same whisky as the Berry Bros. Maybe a tad spicier, in fact? Hard to know, it’s really burning… Shhhhh… Let’s only hope the same will happen with reduction… With water: indeed, same phenomenon, although this one has more spices and more fructose at the same time. Almost as ‘Indian’ as the BBR, in fact. Finish: same. Maybe a tiny-wee tad sweeter? More spices in the aftertaste. Comments: same. Scoring this baby differently would be plain stupid – and no, we won’t do halves. SGP:541 - 83 points.
 

January 25, 2012

Whiskyfun

Malternatives: tasting a few rums en passant

In fact, it’s going to be a rum month. Not that we’ll have rum every single day, but we’ll taste a few every four or five days, until WF’s ‘rum compartment’ is empty. I think we'll need four separate sessions... Deal?...

Jeremy

Ron de Jeremy (40%, Ron Jeremy, Panama, 2011) An ugly male pornstar's own rum, seven years old apparently. Let's try it (pinching our noses won't help - too bad). Oh, and we’ll try not to use the word ‘sticky’. Colour: gold. Nose: just okayish, with some burnt wood, something soapy and more burnt stuff. Not quite noseable when straight, I’m afraid. Mouth: pretty all right now, not sickly sweet and not too sticky (aaargh, I’ve said it) but still rather cheapo. Molasses, liquorice and stale apple juice, becomes grassier after a while. A feeling of heavily sweetened American coffee. Maybe Port with melon. Finish: shortish, a bit burnt but otherwise relatively clean. Sugar cane in the aftertaste. Comments: probably okayish but it really reeks of dirty marketing tactics in my opinion. SGP:620 - around 60 points.

Classic

Classic Rum Caribbean Collection (46%, Bristol Spirits, blend, +/-2011) Two stars A blend of 'selected distilleries', rather an entry-level rum by Bristol. Colour: amber. Nose: starts a bit like the Ron de Jeremy but becomes more complex, and quick. Molasses ‘of course’ but also chocolate sauce, overripe bananas and that grassiness that we find in many rhums agricoles (but this one isn’t an agricole, is it?) Touches of tinned pineapples. Mouth: easy, well on sugar cane, pineapple, bananas and soft spices (cloves, cinnamon). Nothing to write home about but there’s good balance and not too many sugary notes. Finish: medium long, with more sugary notes this time. Liquorice rolls. Comments: I think this is pretty all right. SGP:540 - around 75 points.

Rockley

Rockley Still 1986/2008 (46%, Bristol Spirits, Barbados, Madeira finish) Three stars On the label, the bottlers suggest we should enjoy this baby over ice, but we won’t, eh! Colour: salmony. Nose: I don’t know what comes from the Madeira and what comes from the rum but what’s sure is that this is a very nice, very straightforward grassy nose, all on sugar cane and then something faintly mustardy and spicy. Very close to the raw materials, which is great. Mouth: same comments about the Madeira. Hard to say. Sweeter than on the nose, with some good notes of plain cane once again, maybe a few marshmallows (from the Madeira?) and then more dry oak, with some cinnamon. Maybe touches of tangerines. Finish: medium long, rounder and sweeter. Some honey, strawberry drops… Comments: very pleasant. Why ice? SGP:650 - around 80 points.

Clement

Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole (44%, OB, Martinique, +/-2011) Two stars French rhum. Colour: gold. Nose: very different from the Barbados, more flowery, more aromatic. I get litchis, for example, as well as peaches, quinces and then a little eucalyptus, which I often find in rhum agricole (but I’ve only tried a few, so…) Mouth: same feeling, with also much more orange liqueur and huge spicy notes this time. Bags of cloves, and I mean bags. It’s a style, as they say… Finish: medium long, with even more cloves and orange liqueur. Drier aftertaste (yup, cloves!) Comments: almost a liqueur on the palate, and these cloves give it something medicinal. An acquired taste, as they say on Islay. SGP:561 - around 70 points.

Dillon

Dillon Carte Noire (45%, OB, Martinique, +/-2011?) Two stars This is ‘rhum vieux’ (old rum), which means it’s probably pretty young. Don’t ask. It’s agricole (meaning from cane juice, not from molasses). Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s having a hard time after the Clement, for it’s much shier, less aromatic, although the styles are similar. Maybe a little more coffee? Well… Mouth: I must say I like this much better now. First, because there’s less cloves ;-) (not that I don’t like cloves!) and second because I enjoy these touches of ginger and this earthiness, almost tequila-ish. Not bad at all. Finish: medium long, still pretty gingery, with notes of cinchona, Schweppes… Comments: nose, pass; palate, pretty decent. SGP:341 - around 70 points.

JM

Rhum J.M Vieux (50%, OB, Martinique, +/-2000?) Four stars Another vieux agricole from Martinique, bearing no vintage. I’ve heard J.M has got a very good reputation. Please note that this is an oldish bottle. Colour: amber. Nose: ah yes yes yes, another world. Not without reminding me of the best Demeraras but with (even) more complexity. There’s this feeling of fullness, without any biggish ‘assaulting’ notes, quite some honey, prunes, dates, tar… Complex rhum, no wonder J.M is always quite expensive. Mouth: yes, this ‘vieux’ on the label but it’s probably more vieux, in fact. The oak’s a bit louder and maybe it lacks the creaminess we’re expecting from most rums but other than that, we have a very nice spiciness and a lot of chocolate and coffee. As if it was rhum matured in some good sherry casks!  Finish: medium long, with sugar cane, coffee and hints of Seville oranges. Comments: to my liking, I wanted to stop this session now but I think I’ll have one more ;-)… since this little J.M was very moreish. SGP:551 - around 85 points.

Bellevue

Bellevue 12 yo (58%, Whisky & Rhum, L’Esprit, Guadeloupe, 2011) Four stars An independent bottling from France. Guadeloupe is close to Martinique. In fact, Bellevue is on Marie-Galante, a tiny island that belongs to Guadeloupe. The distillery was founded in the XVIIth century, so long before any Scottish distillery. Colour: deep amber. Nose: well, we’re in the style of the J.M, only with more power, thanks to the higher strength. Maybe it’s a tiny-wee tad earthier?... Water will help us find out, because this is quite strong… With water:  some smoke, burnt grass, tar, liquorice, earth and Seville oranges. Mouth (neat): excellent, rich and creamy yet very elegant, screaming ‘great rum’ to my ears. Well, my expectations were modest but I love these notes of toffee, chocolate, spicy liquorice and sugar cane. A creamy, very potent rum of good age. With water: just like I said. The J.M with more creaminess and fruitiness. Finish: quite long, sweeter, maybe just a tad sugary (molasses). Some eucalyptus and camphor in the retro-olfaction. Comments: maybe it’s not the most complex drink in the world but balance and fullness are quite perfect. SGP:651 - around 86/87 points. I think we’ve had enough rum for today… but it all ends well! January 28 update: this was in fact distilled at another Bellevue Distillery in Guadeloupe (the one that makes Damoiseau) and it's 'traditionnel' rhum, not rhum agricole. Thanks Tristan.
 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
PJ
PJ
 

January 24, 2012

Whiskyfun

Tasting four new old Bunnahabhain

More old Bunnahabhains! They aren’t very rare in the market but many are extremely good in my opinion. The independents issue most of them today and I find it’s a bit strange, because I could taste several great oldies that were lying in the distillery’s warehouses a few years ago. Casks, not bottles!

Bunny 25

Bunnahabhain 25 yo (46.3%, OB, +/- 2011) Four stars Aka XXV. I really liked a version that was bottled around 2009 (WF 87). Colour: amber. Nose: starts a little strange, kind of ‘cheesy’ and winey at the same time. Isn’t there more sherry than in earlier versions? Or is this one from fresher casks? Goes on with a lot of chocolate, bags or heavily roasted malt and, maybe a little too much struck matches. Yes, sulphur. Also blackcurrant buds. Was this baby ‘finished’? Very unlikely but you never know… Mouth: same feeling but this is rounder and fruitier. Again, the wine is loud and Bunnahabhain’s usual honeyed and delicately raisiny style doesn’t really shine through. Having said that, it’s very pleasant and gets maltier by the minute, before our beloved ‘Bunny’ starts to come out indeed. Quite some orange marmalade, honey, sultanas… And a nice saltiness. Finish: not very long but clean and (even) more on dried fruits, sweet, the ‘winey’ wine influence having become much more discreet as such. A little salt again in the aftertaste. Comments: I was not fond of the nose but the palate is pretty impeccable. Enough so to warrant 85 points in my little book. SGP:552 - 85 points.

Bunny DT

Bunnahabhain 24 yo 1987/2011 (55.7%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #1598, 399 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: fresh like a Bruichladdich! Honest, had I tried this baby blind, I’d have said ‘Bruichladdich!’. So we have this very peculiar combination of melons, peaches and sea air, then rather more almond oil and maybe a little fresh putty, apple peel and walnuts and then more peaches again. Very nice freshness. Mouth: fruitier and less ‘coastal’ than Bruichladdich, and much more to my liking than other middle-aged indie Bunnies that I could try through the years. In truth, the fresh fruitiness is quite spectacular, with pomegranates, cranberries, litchis, ripe apples… All that is very sweet, almost sugary in a good way. Sweets. Excellent mouth feel. Finish: medium, still very fruity while we’d have expected more oak. Right, there is a little cinnamon in the aftertaste… And liquorice allsorts. Comments: excellent, even if not hugely complex. Another one you could quaff without even noticing, it’s pure fruit juice! SGP:741 - 88 points.

Bunny

Bunnahabhain 31 yo 1979/2011 (46.5%, Adelphi, Selection, cask #8893, 516 bottles) Five stars Adelphi already had some great Bunnahabhains. I remember a 1974 two or three years ago, very excellent. Colour: brown/amber. Nose: sweet, rich sherry, not quite PX but it’s got this rich feeling. Glazed chestnuts, chestnut honey, Demerara sugar (which makes me think that I have many new rums to taste!) and then some ‘clean’ gunpowder (no sulphury smells whatsoever) and a few funny vegetal notes. Beetroot juice? Mouth: more dryness and more menthol and liquorice as well at first sips, which is very nice in this context. We’re really savouring some very old sherry… then various kinds of raisins, a feeling of juicy rich pipe tobacco and quite a lot of sweet liquorice. Excellent. Finish: long, coating, rich, with more spices but it’s never drying. Comments: it’s rich sherry but the balance is perfect. Quite terrific, in fact… SGP:651 - 91 points.

Bunny

Bunnahabhain 42 yo 1968/2011 (45.8%, Silver Seal, 219 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: more wood and spices in this baby, which is normal. Mind you, 42 years! Having said that, it’s absolutely not oaky and everything is delicate and very elegant. It’s like opening an old wardrobe where mum (or grandma) used to store her old fur coats, if you see what I mean. Whiffs of old perfume (I’d have loved to write Chanel #5 but that would have been, err, far-fetched), hazelnuts, wax polish, tobacco, then more humus, mushrooms, freshly baked cake… A true madeleine, as Proust would have said. Searching lost time? Search no more, this old Bunnahabhain has it all. Mouth: just a tad drying at first, but unfolds on many very delicate and subtle notes of crystallised fruits (oranges and kumquats but also angelica), roasted nuts, touches of mocha, tobacco… Absolutely not tired, even if it’s no big malt of course. Finish: medium long, clean and wide, on those dried fruits and the most elegant spice mix ever. Comments: sometimes it whispers, sometimes it takes its time, but it never lets you down. An ode to old age! SGP:551 - 90 points.
 

January 23, 2012

Whiskyfun

A collection of Caol Ila, ten by ten. Part 1

Every month, there are dozens of new and excellent Caol Ilas being launched into the market and I just cannot cope in a ‘normal’ way, that is to say while organising ‘coherent’ sessions often enough, gathering similar vintages, or ages, or cask types... That’s why I’ve started to taste individual Caol Ilas from time to time after other sessions, more or less at random, and to fill a special file that I’ll simply ‘unload’ every time I've got ten of them... Starting right today!... Warning, there might be some older versions coming in between the new ones for good measure… And please note that many have not been tasted 'together'.

CI

Caol Ila 27 yo 1984/2011 (52.4%, Douglas Laing for The Whisky Barrel, sherry hogshead, 120 bottles) Five stars The Whisky Barrel is a nice online retailer in Scotland and they launched this CI to celebrate their new website. Colour: dark gold. Nose: a CI that rather looks towards Laphroaig at first nosing, with more medicinal and dry coastal notes than expected, including mint, camphor and eucalyptus, Vicks-style. Behind that, some sharp and pretty beautiful whiffs of citrons and grapefruits that give it a great nervousness and then a gangue of vanilla custard and maybe mango coulis. Unusually medicinal. Mouth: rich and, once again, more southshorish (you’re a barbarian, S.) than expected. A very salty feeling, litres of brine, anchovies, then more tangerine marmalade, maybe a little walnut liqueur (from the sherry cask?) and lastly, sunflower oil. A lot of sunflower oil. Finish: long and rich, richer than the ‘average’ Caol Ila in any case. And very oily… Comments: excellent. It’s not easy to guss what comes from the sherry and what comes from, well, the distillate but who cares, it works! Both the very medicinal side and the oiliness on the palate are unusual. Again, vive la difference! SGP:456 - 90 points.

CI

Caol Ila 1982/2008 (61.2%, Scott's Selection) Four stars61% vol. at 26 years of age, nice beast! I already had some very nice 1984s by Robert Scott. Colour: straw. Nose: well, as often with these whiskies at very high strength, you get quite some coffee at first nosing, and not too much peat. After all that, more fresh almonds, brine, whelks (and why not? Clams if you like), seaweed and the expected ashes. Also a little burnt bread but again, that may come from the high strength. With water: it’s the raw barley that comes out more, together with more coastal notes - rather warm seawater this time. Fodder silo. Mouth (neat): a blend of almond oil, lemon juice and pickle juice. Oh, and a lot of alcohol but I must say this is pleasantly narrow and sharp. Yep, like a blade. With water: brine all over the place, plus lemon juice. No peat monster for sure. Finish: medium long, more on grapefruit juice this time. And barley wine? Very briny aftertaste. Comments: a relatively soft Caol Ila at very high strength – and with high brine content. A pretty moderate peatiness. SGP:375 - 86 points (thanks for this, Carsten H.)

CI

Caol Ila 28 yo 1983/2011 (46%, Silver Seal) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one is rather more on fresh butter and almonds, or even hazelnuts at very first nosing, with a kind of resinous brine in the background. It’s all rather soft and delicate, a little old style. Then more soot and ashes but it remains soft and peaceful, so to speak… Even if it is relatively briny and coastal. Mouth: rather gentle, balanced but with more lemon and grapefruits this time. It’s also relatively kippery but again, the smokiness is moderate. Also notes of cider apples and other tart fruits. Kiwis? Finish: medium long, saltier and brinier. Salted grapefruits. Comments: a likeable old Caol Ila with moderate oomph but a nice freshness and very good balance. One for the lounge? SGP:465 - 87 points.

CI

Caol Ila 29 yo 1982/2011 (51.54%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #761, 164 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: ho-ho-ho, rhum agricole! Really, this smells like fresh white rum running from a still in Martinique… At least for a little time! Then it’s more some classic briny old Caol Ila, in all its perfection. Also artisanal cider, lemon, oysters, leather, cough syrup… All that is very perfect. Mouth: perfect! Ideal balance between the zestiness, the ashes and the coastal/briny elements. All that mingles perfectly well (did I already write that it was perfect?) and especially the ashy side is spectacularly beautiful. Heavily smoked salmon sprinkled with lemon juice? Finish: long, very lemony and very ashy. Really playful. Comments: my exact definition of a 90-point Caol Ila. Would be great with any smoked fish. SGP:457 - 90 points.

CI

Caol Ila 19 yo 1992/2011 (50.5%, The Whisky Agency, bourbon, 207 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: a rather Laphroaiggy one at first nosing, rather in the style of the DL for the Whisky Barrel that we had recently. But the smokiness is bigger, not tamed by age yet, and there’s also quite some carbolineum, antiseptic and seawater. Also diesel oil, Motul motor oil (I’ve decided to be more precise with motor oils – I’m joking) and a little coal tar. All that becomes quieter after a few minutes, with more room for almonds, apples, plasticine and putty. Mouth: more on brine, lime juice and simply seawater. A lot of seawater… Also menthol flavoured tobacco and touches of liquorice drops. All good, with good body and the right punch. Finish: long, peaty, with more menthol and lemon drops, which gives a pleasant freshness to the aftertaste. Comments: simply another very good Caol Ila. Yes there are many but an abundance of goods does no harm, does it! SGP:366 - 87 points.

CI

Caol Ila 12 yo ‘unpeated style’ (64%, OB, 2011) Four stars The latest official unpeated (aka Highland Caol Ila), I think there were only an 8 and a 10 in the past, and a first 12 last year that was very good (WF 87) and sort of lighter (only 57.6%, pfff…) Colour: pale gold. Nose: just like last year’s edition, this baby isn’t completely void of peat but it’s rather the esters that dominate the whole at first nosing, even bubblegums and touches of varnish. But at this very high strength it’s hard to get very definite aromas so let’s add water right away… With water: the peat strikes again but it’s no ‘smoky peat’, rather the kind of peatiness that you get when visiting a kiln that’s not working. Other than that, quite some apple juice and a little lemon as well as touches of porridge. Mouth (neat): sharp, sweet and ultra-zesty but extremely strong. This is a little hard to swallow ;-)… With water: fresh, zesty and, yes, quite peaty. A lot of walnut and apple skins, then pear drops. Finish: long, rather lemony, with a lingering peat. Hints of sultanas. Comments: it’s a bit hard to understand the raison d’être of this baby (when you’re not one of Diageo’s blenders) but it ain’t bad malt whisky at all. Quite the opposite! SGP:653 - 86 points.

CI

Caol Ila 2000/2011 (55.3%, Single Cask Collection, Willi Opitz Homok finish, bourbon) Five stars This should be interesting. Willi Opitz makes great Sauternes-like wines (right, more or less) in Austria, rather Trockenbeerenausele style, but his Homok is rather made like sherry I believe, or rather vin jaune. It’s mostly gewürztraminer that’s kept in wood for around seven years, most probably under a ‘veil’ or flor, so the wine should become ‘neo-oxidative’, just like sherry. Anyway, let’s see what gives, this is not winefun.com. Colour: pale amber with salmony hues. Nose: no extreme winey notes, that’s good. In fact, it’s the distillate that’s got the upper hand here, and this could be any excellent CI ex-refill sherry in my opinion, even if some aspects may come from the Opitz cask, such as these delicate mushroomy notes, the tinned litchis and, indeed, the juicy sultanas. In fact, it does give a slightly muscaty feeling but it’s all very elegant and fresh. Wow! With water: more of the same, this is unexpectedly delicate. Hints of Linzer Torte? ;-) Mouth (neat): oh, this is even funnier. Sure it’s all a tad unlikely, especially the very sweet fruitiness, but, well, it works. Tinned litchis again, tangerines, blood oranges, Sichuan pepper and green pepper with the peat roaring underneath… It’s good and actually very funny! And always this muscaty feeling… with water: a delicacy, or rather kind of a high-end mandarine liqueur. A peated one, no need to say. Finish: long, more on bitter oranges and sultanas. Comments: good, I shouldn’t have liked this ‘stunt’ but I did. I also appreciate the fact that the bottlers are Austrian and that they used a wine cask that was from their homeland and close to their hearts (I suppose). Very far from just a gimmick, very, very well done guys! Where can we buy some empty ex-Opitz Homok casks? ;-)… SGP:555 - 90 points.

Caol Ila 72

Caol Ila 15 yo 1972 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur's Choice, old brown label) Four starsYes I’ve noticed that this baby is no new or recent Caol Ila ;-), but I’ve always wanted to try this ‘pre-extension’ version so now’s the time. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s like the very old Ardbegs, the peat got ‘transmuted’ into tar, almonds, soot and some light tropical fruits in a wonderful way. Sure it’s absolutely no aromatic powerhouse, in fact it’s even a little too shy and discreet, but what a delicacy! Overripe apples, maybe a little musk, raw wool, clams, coal ashes, avocado juice, tinned papayas (light)… All that in the minor mode but still, it’s a beauty. Let’s only hope the palate won’t be exhausted... Mouth: the attack is slow indeed, whispering… But then it takes off, with an obvious saltiness, some ashes, a little cough syrup, light brine, a little barley water, touches of liquorice, old style tar drops… Right, it really drops after a few seconds and becomes frankly flatish, but who cares, it’s got its moments and those were wonderful. Finish: yeah well, arr, err, not much but it leaves an obvious saltiness on your tongue. Comments: a shy old beauty, not to be rushed or brutalised. Like a very old photograph… SGP:344 - 85 points. (and thanks, Tomislav!)

Caol Ila TWF

Caol Ila 30 yo 1981/2011 (51.6%, The Whisky Fair, 10th Anniversary, bourbon hogshead, 130 bottles) Five starsColour: straw/gold. Nose: classic briny, punchy, rounded but not too rounded, with a vegetal smoke (garden bonfire) and then grapefruits and almonds. Becomes sharper after a few minutes, more on lemon and maybe a little dill (or wild carrots?) Pretty vivid for its age but much to my liking. Mouth: lemons and lemons plus lemons and… brine, with something slightly resinous in the background. Cider apples and mentholated cigarettes such as Kool (I’ve smoked some a very long time ago and this is the feeling I got – I hardly smoke thirty cigarettes and two cigars a month since a few years, just for fun!) But why am I telling you this? Why would you care? Finish: long, lemony and smoky, with some tar in the aftertaste. Comments: not many malts remain so sharp and nervous after thirty years in wood (granted, not hyperactive wood in this case!) Excellent but I guess it could spend another thirty years in wood without faltering… Loved the lemony profile. SGP:456 - 90 points.

Caol Ila HB

Caol Ila 16 yo 1991/2007 (46%, Hart Bros) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: reeks of apple juice at first nosing, which was unexpected. After that, exactly what was expected, that is to say a pretty perfect combination of fresh putty, brine, coal ashes (old coal stove), oysters and lemon juice. A little antiseptic too. Mouth: same, plus that saltiness. Very nice attack, sadly it gets a little light towards the middle, which is strange. No I didn’t have cask strength whisky just before this little baby. Finish: shortish for Caol Ila, maybe a matter of reducing done in a strange way. Nice salty aftertaste, though, with again this medicinal side (antiseptic). Comments: a rather average Caol Ila in my opinion but even when it’s ‘average’, Caol Ila is good. SGP:444 - 82 points.

 

MUSIC - I'm sorry, I may be unable to keep posting music for a short while because of Mac OSX 10.7.2 'Lion' that handles Internet connections quite badly (both wifi or ethernet). As soon as I have downgraded to the former OS - which would actually be an upgrade ;-) - I'll post music again.

 

January 22, 2012

Whiskyfun

Tasting two new extreme Japanese

Some new Japanese just in… Why wait? Let’s try them now…

Hanyu

Hanyu 2000/2011 'The Game' (59.4%, Ichiro's Malt, Mizunara Heads Hogshead finish, cask #917, 309 bottles) Four stars and a half This is the second edition in the 'Game' series. Using new heads allows the distillers to impart a little 'new oak' character to the spirit, without quickly making it an oak bomb, which could happen when you use 'full' virgin casks. Oh, and Mizunara is a kind of Japanese oak, as you probably know, while 2000 was Hanyu’s last vintage. Colour: gold. Nose: the high level of alcohol carries a few straight oaky tones at very first nosing, maybe not totally, well, elegant, but many refined spicy aromas are soon to take over and to make the whole quite beautiful. A cabinetmaker’s shop plus unlit Virginia cigarettes, new humidor (cedarwood), eucalyptus and behind all that, what appears to be vanilla crème, quinces, bergamots and kumquats. Extremely ‘Japanese’ in my opinion, which is just fab. The oak even gives it something smoky (wood smoke, obviously), while the vanilla-ed side never stops growing. With water: it’s the vanilla’s round creaminess that comes out now, together with touches of marshmallows/bubblegum and those typical lemony notes that sometimes come with new oak. Yes, rather lemon grass. Makes me think of some ‘artisan’ Glenmorangies from a few years ago. Mouth (neat): starts rather sharp and unexpectedly tarty, which is very nice in this context. Lemongrass, fresh coriander and a little mustard (in fact, you cannot not think of wasabi), then more ‘oaky’ spices, nutmeg, cinnamon… With water: a very complex all-fruit liqueur (citrus first). Finish: rather long, with the spices fighting back. A grassiness in the aftertaste, as well as a little cardamom. Comments: well, the barrel tops were hyperactive! The whole is very cask-driven, like many Japanese in my experience, but it seems that it’s all been done with deep care and attention. At the top of that game (arf!) SGP:672 - 89 points. PS: beautiful label!

Yamazaki

Yamazaki 15 yo (61%, OB for Isetan, Japan, sherry butts, +/-2011) Five stars Isetan is a chain of fairly high-end department stores in Japan. As for Yamazaki + sherry, there’s already been quite a few legendary bottlings in the past. 1984 anyone? Colour: pale mahogany. Nose: this is not whisky, it’s plain and pure sherry, a great, dry sherry (amontillado?). So bags of walnuts, dried mushrooms and touches of curry powder, then more chocolate, coffee and tobacco, with once again a ‘woody’ smokiness. Quite extreme in a certain way and complex at the same time, no mean achievement! With water: more tobacco, much more tobacco (cigars!) Also some old balsamico, a little soy sauce and something faintly roasted. Botrytis? Mouth (neat): extremely… err, extreme. Hyper-concentrated, very spicy (the experience is not unlike chewing a cigar), infused… Yet kind of chiselled and certainly not ‘fattish’ like other sherry monsters can be. Bitter oranges start to dominate the whole after a few seconds. With water: I feel more oak, as if it was from some kind of sherry-treated new butt. Some red berries coming out as well, raspberries… Finish: long, dry/spicy and fruity at the same time. A slightly strange but wonderful kind of balance. Comments: fun whisky, extreme at times, a little gentler once reduced. SGP:672 - 90 points.

(Arigatou gozaimasu, Hiroyuki, and merci beaucoup, Emmanuel).

 

January 20, 2012

Whiskyfun

Tasting two new young Glengoyne plus a triple aperitif

There’s an intriguing newish Glengoyne ‘Teapot’ so let’s try it along with a recent IB, but first I feel like we should have a little aperitif, with three light young OBs…

Glengoyne

Glengoyne 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2008) Two stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: light and Chivasesque, so to speak. Classic rounded, malty and nutty whisky, with whiffs of caramel and café latte and then hints of overripe apples. Not unpleasant at all but I wouldn’t say there’s much happening. Hello?? Mouth: more to my liking. Bolder and fatter than expected (read feared), with some beeswax, apple pie, stewed pears, a little mocha, chocolate, coffee and toffee. And some malt. Typical entry-level malt whisky from a good maker, a weakish nose and a more than decent palate. Finish: a little short but pleasant, very malty, with some toffee in the aftertaste. Comments: had the palate matched the nose, it would have been a 70, but with this fairly nice palate, it’ll rather be 78. SGP:420 - 78 points.

Glengoyne

Glengoyne 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-1980) Two stars and a half Colour: gold (darker). Nose: very different from the recent one, although the background is similar. Richer and fruitier, with figs, dried bananas, orange liqueur, touches of Demerara sugar or rather molasses, herbs, parsley… Another world, really, I suppose this one had more sherry. A lot more… Mouth: once again, this is completely different from the recent one. Sharper, more restless, a little spirity (so much for OBE), developing more on pear spirit and maybe a little antiseptic and camphor/mint somewhere. In fact, I liked the ‘+/-2008’ better on the palate. Finish: medium long, a tad cardboardy and tea-ish but the pears and the spirit remain in the aftertaste. Comments: bolder whisky for sure, but the palate was curiously unpolished, while the palate was almost great. Just a notch more to my liking globally. SGP:541 - 79 points.

Glengoyne 12

Glengoyne 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-1988) Two stars Colour: gold. Nose: much drier than the latest 10, waxier, kind of metallic at first nosing. Curious whiffs of nail polish remover (after all those years!) and then a little dust, wet cardboard, metal polish, damp earth… Maybe this baby is damaged, the palate will tell us for sure… Although I get nice notes of pineapples after a few minutes, and something sweet and rounded (syrups). Mouth: no, all is fine as far as power is concerned. It’s even a little raw, starting with apple peelings (from tart apples at that) and grass, before it starts unfolding more on sweets (pears) and a little chlorophyll. Remains very grassy and rather spirity all along (tutti frutti spirit). Also funny notes of cress – I like cress a lot! Finish: Comments: some parts are interesting, some others not so much. I must say I was expecting something rounder and gentler. SGP:451 – 72 points.

Okay, enough with the oldies, let’s have the new articles if you don’t mind…

Teapot

Glengoyne 'The Teapot Dram' (58.8%, OB, 3105 bottles, 2011) Three stars and a half It’s a no-age-statement version, a ‘tribute to the daily dram that the Distillery folk enjoyed three times each day from the copper teapot in the distillery canteen’ according to the official website. I believe it’s only available at the distillery. Colour: amber with red hues. Nose: funny how it ‘noses’ like some marc de gewurztraminer at first, with these whiffs of litchis and rosewater. Then we get more classic fruity sherry, with strawberry jam, a little sugarcane, sultanas, bananas flambéed… Powerful but noseable at almost 60% vol. With water: as often with these kinds of sherry treatment, there’s more herbal teas, rosehips, hawthorn, marshmallows… And a little hay as well. Mouth (neat): rich and young, with an unexpected spiciness that does hint more at virgin oak than genuine sherry butts. I mean, there’s a lot of ginger and cardamom, for example… It’s also a little kirschy. With water: all good now, even if this feeling of ‘new oak’ remains. That hints at a finishing in sherry-treated fresh oak, but it does not say, so I may well be completely wrong. I probably am. Finish: long, more on liqueur-filled chocolate. Litres of plum spirit at the retro-olfaction. Comments: interesting, a kind of ‘modern’ sherriness. Worth trying for sure, and I believe it’s not very expensive. They also have it from their website. SGP:551 - 84 points. (many thanks, Benjamin S.!)

Glengoyne

Glengoyne 13 yo 1998/2011 (53.7%, Malts of Scotland, cask # MoS 11006, 289 bottles) Three stars Colour: pale amber. Nose: it’s another kind of sherriness here, more on leather, dark chocolate and struck matches. Some rubber too, new boots, chlorophyll, cut grass… I think this needs to breathe. Let me check my emails, I’ll be back in a few minutes…/… I’m back. Indeed, it got a little nicer and fruitier (raisins) but the rubberiness is still there. A lot of mint, anise and even mustard as well (seeds, or rather the raw kind of ‘mustard in grains’ that they make here and there, like in Meaux - please see below.) Let’s try water. With water: coffee, toffee, chocolate and leather. Improved! Mouth (neat): now it’s good, very fruity, with the many spices supporting the whole. Peppered strawberries? Jellybeans with cloves? Some aspects are not far from the OB but this has less straight oak. With water: rounder and oilier, with the same flavours everywhere. Finish: pretty long, on the same notes. A little blackcurrant jelly in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s not an easy one in my opinion, but some parts are rewarding. Yeah, lousy writing. Water is obligatory. Oh, and MOS have/had several much better 1998s in my opinion! SGP:561 - 82 points.

 

SHORT RAMBLINGS
(too long for Twitter! ;-))
Moutarde
Bitten by mustard seeds!
I just saw on another excellent website a cool friend who was kind of complaining about the fact that I had found notes of ‘mustard seeds’ in the nose of a whisky, while mustard seeds are odourless. Is that careful scrutinisation or what? Quite flattering in a certain way but ouch, I’ve been caught in the act! In fact, we call the thing I was trying to refer to ‘moutarde en grains' in French, which literally means ‘mustard as seeds’, and ‘moutarde en grains’ is hardly odourless, believe me - contrarily to raw seeds indeed. Anyway, I’m deeply sorry about that incredible faux-pas that came from a stupid carry-over from French, about the junkish tasting notes that resulted from that and about the threatening shadow that was hence cast over the overall reliability of this humble little website. Yours sincerely, etc.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a little chunk of good old Rythm and Blues with Richard 'Louie Louie' Berry Doin' It some time in the 1960s. Please buy Richard Berry's music.

Berry
 

January 19, 2012

Whiskyfun

Tasting four old Glen Grant

You cannot go wrong with these old Glen Grants but some vintages or rather some lots have been better than others! Let’s have a few old or even very old ones and see what gives…

Glen Grant

Glen Grant 1970/2010 'Juliet' (44.8%, Spirit Empire, Whisky Antique, 208 bottles) Four stars We had 'Romeo' aka Bunnahabhain on December 20 (WF 89), let's have Juliet today! Colour: gold. Nose: what’s quite striking at first nosing is the unexpected smokiness. Okay, rather burnt toast… Then more mirabelle jam, honeycomb, quinces, kumquats and Grand-Marnier, before some very nice whiffs of humus and camphor break through. Well, this is lovable but that was to be expected. Mouth: very old style, it’s almost as if this was bottled a long time ago. Maybe a tad dry, in fact, slightly thin in the middle but otherwise everything’s there, oranges, honey, café latte, earl grey tea… So, it’s light yet very good. I mean, to my liking. Finish: shortish but pleasantly honeyed and jammy. Very ripe plums. Some cinnamon from the oak in the aftertaste. Comments: high quality old Glen Grant, not too oaky and well in the style of most 1970s. A little more oomph and fruitiness would have pushed it more towards the 90-mark. SGP:451 - 87 points.

Glen Grant OTL

Glen Grant 39 yo 1972/2011 (51.2%, Jack Wiebers, Old Train Line, refill sherry, cask #38202, 256 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: we’re almost exactly in the style of that sweet ‘Juliet’, with just a little more oomph and maybe orange honey. A little less toasted bread as well. Frankly, this is superbly aromatic and extremely lovable. I can’t see who wouldn’t like this! Perfect beehivy profile (note to self: try to find an adjective that’s not a barbarism next time.) Mouth: this is pure distilled honey, honest (S., such weak alliterations are so passé!) So various honeys blended with some ultra-sweet plum juice, the whole being spiced-up with a little cinnamon, cloves and star anise. Luminous, I’d say. Finish: long, creamy, coating and… honeyish. Comments: was that distilled mead? And isn’t it funny that we’re so close to Glen Grant’s sister distillery Caperdonich with some of these 1972s? Well, let’s remember that Caperdonich had been christened ‘Glen Grant #2’ originally … SGP:541 - 90 points. (and thank you mucho, Herbert!)

Glen Grant

Glen Grant 38 yo 1972/2011 (52.8%, The Whisky Agency, refill sherry hogshead, 215 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: well, this is the same whisky as the JWWW. Maybe a notch more aggressive, with added hints of banana skin and a very, very, very faint cologny touch. That would have gone totally unnoticed, hadn’t I tried another 1972 just before, which means there’s absolutely no problems here. Other than that, plenty of honeys and very ripe fruits, plums, Williams pears (not pear drops, not at all)… Mouth: exactly the same comments but we’re even closer to the Jack Wiebers, to the point where both whiskies are almost undistinguishable. Well, you could quaff five litres of each just for the sake of finding differences… Let’s not play that game! (not even with 5cl!) Finish: long, creamy, coating and… honeyish. Yup I just copied-and-pasted from above. Comments: excellent. SGP:541 – 90 points.

Glen Grant 1952

Glen Grant 59 yo 1952 (49.2%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW, Book of Kells, refill hogshead, cask #1134)Five stars That’s right, this baby is almost 60 years old. It fetched Gold at the MM Awards 2011 and I just saw that they still have it at whisky.fr. 750€ is a lot of money but remember a 70yo is worth £10,000 at G&M’s while other brands will try to sell you prepubescent whiskies for hundreds of quids… Oh, and isn’t the label beautiful? As for the bottle, remember you can always buy second-hand crystal decanters at flea markets for just a few bucks… Colour: gold. Nose: oh yes! Old whisky! What no artificial ageing process will ever achieve! (erm, hopefully). Starts with stunning notes of almond oil, teak oil (for the deck of your yacht) and many, many other oils plus camphor, eucalyptus syrup and cedar wood (cigar humidor). Goes on with many fruit jams and honeys, in the style of the 1972s but with more complexity. Polished jams, so to speak, and then tar liqueur and a beautiful spice mix (not space mix, G&M are no drug designers!) In short, a fantastic nose.

Mouth: sure there’s a little oak that’s striking first but what’s really amazing is how light those oaky notes are. After that, it’s a very wide, very complex combination of fruit jams, chutneys, spices, herbal teas and beeswax, without any cloying parts and, above all, still no overoakiness. Pipe tobacco. Finish: medium long, a tad more drying now, which is normal, with something floral. Orange blossom water? Quite some menthol in the aftertaste, it’s almost as if you had just sucked a few mint drops. Comments: quite miraculous. It’s got something of both the Mortlach and the Glenlivet 70yo by G&M. Frankly, the price is quite 'cheap' relatively (don't shoot, don't shoot!), especially since I believe there were less than the equivalent of 50 bottles remaining in the old cask… SGP:462 - 92 points.

 
PETE McPEAT AND JACK WASHBACK
P
J
Yeah, classic

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Sam Lightnin' Hopkins sings Glory be. Please buy Lightin' Hopkins' music.

Lightnin hopkins
 

January 18, 2012

Whiskyfun

Tasting three 1982 St Magdalene plus a rare bonus

Maybe this will be the last time we’ll be able to taste three different fairly recent St Magdalenes… Sob…

ST Magdalene

Linlithgow 28 yo 1982/2011 (46%, Mo Or collection, release #7, cask #2203, 900 bottles) Four stars and a half Nine hundred bottles from a single cask of the ‘Bourbon, Wine’ type according to the bottler’s website. What could that be? Several barrels reracked into a butt? Then it’s refill according to the colour… Or a demi-muid? Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: it’s not a wham-bam St Magdalene (oh, remember Linlithgow was another name for St Magdalene), rather a light and soft one in the style of some old G&Ms, but everything’s in its place. That includes these cellary notes (dust, concrete, old bricks, mould, mushrooms), then the unusual notes of vegetables that were to be found in some St Magdalenes (French beans, salsify) and then some light touches of lemon, pine needles and limestone. Maybe dead leaves as well. It’s all rather elegant…  Mouth: ah yes! There’s something of the old Rare Malts, even if this is much lighter of course. Yet, and excellent body and a wide citrusy profile, mingling with some pine sap, honeydew and drops of cough syrup. All pretty good at this stage. Finish: medium long, rather earthy, pleasantly tea-ish, with some lemongrass in the aftertaste. Comments: this bottling really does its job. A gentle yet assertive St Magdalene with a Rosebanky feeling at times… SGP:371 - 88 points. UPDATE: I've been silly again, didn't notice it was 50cl bottles

St Magda

St Magdalene 26 yo 1982/2009 (55%, Chieftain's, butt, cask #2219, 348 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: we aren’t far from the Mo Or but there are also more mineral notes as well as something dry and resinous, maybe car polish, new leatherette, putty… That gives it a lovable old style that was more to be found much further north in the old days. Also aspirin tablets, cut cactus, leaves... Now, I’ve often found that such interesting noses could lead to terrible palates. Mouth: nope, no terrible things are happening, it’s all rather well in the style of the Mo Or, with ‘greasy’ lemony notes, fir liqueur, touches of tar, cough syrup, liquorice… There is something a tad ‘chemical’ in the background but it’s really an asset here. Tonic water? Then more and more lemon liqueur and touches of ginger. All good, with an oily mouth feel. Great body! Finish: long, on the same lemony/greasy/leafy profile and always these teasing ‘chemical’ notes. I write ‘chemical’ for lack of a better term, I’m sorry. Comments: much to my liking, very true to the Distillery after all these years. In short, totally unsexy yet rather beautiful! SGP:471 - 88 points.

St Magda

St Magdalene 27 yo 1982/2009 (58.6%, Whisky Tales, 184 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a rather lighter version this time, more on rocks and soot and with less resinous/oily notes. That gives it a feeling of freshness, almost maritime, together with a flintiness that never stops growing. Great notes of hazelnut oil. Very austere, in fact, and once again, the palate could be so-so with such a nose but first, let’s add a few drops of water. With water: a few more leaves. Dead, alas (Serge!). Seriously, it didn’t change much but it was beautiful in the first place. Mouth (neat): hurray, it’s pure Riesling, and from an Alsatian, that says a lot. Superb combination of lime, waxes and minerals, then mint and liquorice. Fabulously zesty and quite paraffiny. With water: same, just a notch easier and smoother – so to speak. Finish: long, perfect, waxy, mineral, with some saltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: the others were great, this is brilliant. Well done Whisky Tales, this baby is abfab and very much to my liking. Do you still have bottles? SGP:362 - 92 points.

It’s always the same, ending a session with a winner just puts you in a good mood and… calls for more. Sadly, I haven’t got any other recent St Magdalene in my library so let’s try to find a worthy oldie… Maybe such as the honourable Society’s very first St Magdalene? So a very young St-M? What do you say?...

SMWS 49.1

St Magdalene 1975/1987 (64.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #49.1, 75cl, screw cap) Four stars This teenager is only eleven years old, but I’ve had such young Magdas by Cadenhead that were really superb, so… And did you notice the strength!... Colour: white wine. Nose: quite curiously, it starts rather lighter than the 1982s, kind of sweeter, with some sucrose, barley sugar, then more hay and even whiffs of manure, white wine, then more white vinegar… It’s a bit hard to have a good idea of how it behaves at such high strength, I’d have loved to try harder but I need my nose for other pressing matters… With water: a northern hemisphere farmyard in the middle of August. Don’t I sound like the Society in the old days? Plus, indeed, hints of wax, putty and various oils in the background but little lemon or other citrus fruits thus far. Mouth (neat): it’s a tidal wave of estery notes, pears, pineapples, jelly beans… It’s very strong but not terrifyingly so. Having said that, it’s not easy to get flavours beyond that big sweet attack and I don’t really get any ‘St Magda’ feeling. So, with water: yeah! They’re coming, pine sap, candle wax, lemon marmalade, tar, rocks, hay… But no saltiness this time. Finish: long, more and more on putty and lemon marmalade. Maybe touches of passion fruits and cardamom in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s not a very complicated St Magdalene in my opinion, it’s even unusually simple (even with H2O) but the spirit was classy albeit a bit ‘difficult’. Expect no immediate pleasures with such bottlings but the reward comes from a style that’s no more. Uncompromising, they said. SGP:451 - 86 points (with thanks to Angus!)

MUSIC - Recommended listening: more great blues with James Earl Thompson aka Jimmy Johnson doing When my first wife quit me (from 1983's Heap See). Please buy Jimmy Johnson's music, thanks.

Jimmy Johnson
 

January 17, 2012

Whiskyfun

Tasting four independent Springbank from the 90s

All these independent Springers, as they say, were distilled in the 1990s…

Springbank NC2

Springbank 13 yo 1998/2011 (46%, Duncan Taylor, NC2)Two stars and a half As you know, NC2 stands for ‘No Coca-Cola’. All right, it’s rather no colouring, no chill filtration. Colour: salmony or rather apricoty. Nose: ahem, there’s some wine in there, although the label doesn’t say so. Maybe I’m mistaken and that wouldn’t be the first time, but I smell blackcurrant jelly and red peaches on top of the usual flinty/greasy modern Springbank character. Also plenty of bitter oranges and, maybe, faint touches of gunpowderish sulphur. Mouth: same feeling here. Starts on bitter oranges and tonic water, pepper, grass and Haribo bears (or jelly beans if you prefer) and goes on more with green tea and maybe more ginger. It’s rather pleasant but maybe a tad wobbly, so to speak. Finish: rather long and rather more on cinchona, Schweppes… Comments: it’s pretty nice but not to much my style. Styles! SGP:462 - 79 points.

Springbank Hart

Springbank 15 yo 1995/2011 (46%, Hart Brothers, Finest Collection) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: ah yes yes yes, this is ‘true’ Spirngbank in its naked glory. Not much to say except that it’s exactly, well Springbank from refill – yet not dead – wood. Graphite oil, linseed, motor oil, moss, humus, paraffin, coal smoke… Great. Mouth: same plus these touches of bitter oranges and lemon zests as well as a little cinchona yet again. Maybe the body is thinnish but nothing problematic. And I like these faint touches of white tequila and rum in the background. Finish: a bit short for Springbank but clean and very coherent. Bitter oranges and a touch of salt. Excuse me, a saltiness. Comments: lovable and much downable, but not consensual, which isn’t the least of its charms. Well done Hart Bros! SGP:363 - 87 points.

Springbnak Bourbon

Springbank 16 yo 1993/2009 (53.5%, The Bottlers, bourbon hogshead, cask #219) Two starsIt’s great to see (relatively) recent bottlings by The Bottlers, these people always did a brilliant job. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s like the Hart Bros but with even more smoke and motor oil. In fact, it’s frankly peaty. Also whiffs of fresh cement, clay, candles, green tea, ‘new toy’ (new Chinese plastic) – you have to like that but I do… Bandages… Also great notes of fresh mint that balance the whole. Mouth: hmm… ultra-extreme lemony/soapy/gingery style from that period. Quite a lot of salt too, plasticine, lemon liqueur, grapefruits… A little hard I must say, too bitter. Finish: very long, very salty. Glue in the aftertaste. Comments: typical distillation from the early 1990s I think – and yet there are some great ones. Less clean and much greasier than more recent distillates in any case. I like those much better I must say but this is very interesting. Historic, already? SGP:372 - 70 points.

Springbank Sherry

Springbank 16 yo 1993/2009 (58.9%, The Bottlers, refill sherry hogshead, cask #180) Two stars Interesting to taste a neighbouring sherry cask, probably distilled on the very same day. Colour: amber. Nose: yawah! (hmm…) A wild thing for sure because the sherry’s gaminess really plays with the raw and slightly sulphury spirit (it’s not the kind of sulphur that comes with some wine casks – yes sherry is wine). In fact, the whole smells almost like Maggi. Do you know Maggi? So lovage, soy sauce, some scented soap, waxes, cordite, matches and… prunes, raisins and chocolate. To be honest, I’m not sure I like this, it reminds me of a few ultra-extreme officials from five or six years ago or so. Not my favourite bottlings… Mouth: … and this is just as unlikely. Interesting it is but the sulphury notes don’t combine too well with the oranges and lemons here, creating a kind of permanent two-step feeling that’s slightly disturbing. On-off, on-off, on-off… Yet, it’s nicer than the Bourbon, thanks to the sherry cask I guess. Finish: long, with that bitter soapiness becoming louder. Comments: a strange brew, as Clapton would say, but the sherry did a good job masking some of the inherent flaws. SGP:472 - 74 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Red House. Please...

Hendrix
 

January 16, 2012

Whiskyfun

Tasting more old sherried Speysiders. Freewheelingly.

We’ll start with the brand new official Benromach 1969 and we’ll just see what else we’ll find in our library after that one. Okay?...

Benromach

Benromach 1969/2011 (42.6%, OB, refill sherry hogshead) Five stars I loved an earlier version, issued in 2004 (WF 91 at the time) so, as they say, we have deep expectations. Colour: deep amber with bronze hues. Nose: I like these dry sherry notes that hint at walnut liqueur and, well, plain walnuts. There are also hints of parmesan cheese or comté, well-cured ham (iberico, of course), game, soy sauce, old Bourgogne wine (civety notes), humus, old wine cellar… It’s all very different from the ‘average’ old sherry monster, certainly more tertiary, earthy… Yet, there is a little chocolate, coffee, prunes, raisins… In fact, I’m wondering if there isn’t a little peat in there. Great nose anyway! Mouth: more or less the same feeling as with the nose. It’s dry, earthy, a little leathery, with great notes of bitter chocolate, coffee beans, maybe a little beef jerky, old palo cortado, Corinthian raisins… Nutshell: artisanal dark chocolate, with almost no sugar. Excellent! Finish: medium long, rather spicier but in the aftertaste, you really get the feeling that you just crunched some coffee-flavoured bitter chocolate. Comments: unusual and absolutely wonderful dry old sherry ‘monster’. If you like them dry and complex, don’t miss this one… SGP:362 - 92 points.

So, what next? Maybe a very contrasting one, such as a 1976 Tomatin aka a fruity extravaganza? (probably)... And a sherried one at that, to keep all this a little coherent?...

Tomatin

Tomatin 34 yo 1976/2011 (49.5%, Whisky-Doris, sherry hogshead, cask #9, 139 bottles) Five stars Colour: amber. Nose: mirabelle pie covered with sweet white wine (Rivesaltes, for example), that’s what I get at first nosing, although the sherriness grows bigger after that, together with quite some malt (Ovaltine/Ovomaltine), coffee and Armagnac-soaked raisins. Also a faint meatiness (cooked pork meats, sausages) and probably a little coal smoke. So, no fruity extravaganza this time despite the notes of plum pie and, more in the background, bananas flambéed. Also some flints. Mouth: starts on liqueur-filled chocolate and herbal sweets (Switzerland’s Ricola, yooo-hooh… ahem, that was the echo) and goes on with more typical fruity notes, mangos, passion fruits, peaches and then more red berries, raspberries, black cherries… The sherry and the very fruity spirit combined very well here! Nice peppery feeling behind all that. Finish: long, jammier, rounder, fruitier… Comments: top notch, a great variant with a sherry that remained relatively light and did not kill the freshness. But warning, it’s another one that’s eminently drinkable… SGP:642 – 91 points.

What else now? Oh, but we haven’t had a very old Longmorn since ages, have we? Now’s the time…

Longmorn

Longmorn 46 yo 1965/2011 (51.8%, Gordon & MacPhail for Limburg, Book of Kells, first fill sherry butt, cask #370) Five stars A pedigree that will make even the most experienced taster drool, not to mention a moderately experienced one such as yours truly. Colour: red amber. Nose: this is insane, this little baby is as fresh and vibrant as… some fresh fruit (I had been willing to mention a female singer but finally thought that was a bad idea). Imagine a full basket of peaches and raspberries, a few bottles of the best Sauternes and Alsatian vendanges tardives, some perfect dates (I mean the fruits, eh!) and then the softest curry powder. Mix, shake well and you get this. Brilliant!  Mouth: breaking news, someone invented some kind of device that literally ‘disoaks’ old malt whiskies. I cannot find any other explanation of the fact that this is so fresh and fruity. Granted, it’s ‘polished’ but never oaky, while many dried fruits including figs, pears, dates, raisins, orange zests and even apples dance on your tongue. To keep this short and sweet, this is a wonderful old liqueur… Finish: long, creamy, with more honey and spices and a feeling of ‘mulled wine’ in the aftertaste. Cloves and a little mint. Comments: incredibly nervous for its age – but probably not the most complex old Longmorn, I have to say. Bah, forget about complexity…  SGP:651 - 92 points.

To tell you the truth, these whiskies are so rich that it’s hard to have too many in a row. So, maybe a last one for today, but which one? It’ll have to stand the course after the Longmorn, so let’s be careful… Hey, why not choose the same vintage, 1965?... And even the same excellent bottler? I think it’ll be the…

Strathisla

Strathisla 1965/2011 (48%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW, 1st Fill Sherry Butt, cask #1283) Five stars I tried another cask that was bottled for LMDW Singapore last year (cask #3473, WF 89) that was great but maybe a tad extreme for this taster. Colour: pale mahogany. Nose: we’re entering a nice old shop that would sell a strange combination of antique furniture, spices from all over the world, old books, both dried and fresh fruits and a wide range of liqueurs. I doubt such a shop will ever exist but this baby really exhales all kinds of precious, err, things… Or could we be in a Morrocan souk? Mouth: ultra-classic old Strathisla from G&M’s thoroughbred racing stable. Dates, oranges, figs, honey and olive oil all over the place. I don’t want to sound too ‘Moroccan’ but this reminds of the hamlou, a great dish they make in southern Morocco, on the slopes of the Atlas mountains. Try it, it’s very easy. Mix 1/3 honey, 1/3 blanched almonds and 1/3 argan oil. Once you get a very sleek paste, just eat it on pieces of bread! Very energetic but fabulous – provided the ingredients were of first quality. Back to the Strathisla: it’s like hamlou! Finish: long, with more menthol and maybe green tea, as often with these old glories. Hey, that’s the mint-flavoured tea that will go so well with your hamlou! Comments: classic. Choukran, G&M! SGP:561 - 92 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: we're in Paris in 1937 and Coleman Hawkins and his all-stars including Django Reinhardt record Honeysuckle Rose for the legendary record company Swing (I'm very glad I've still got the original in my collection!). What a sound! Please buy Mr. Hawkins' music...

Coleman

January 2012 - part 1 <--- January 2012 - part 2 ---> February 2012 - part 1


C
heck the index of all entries:
Whisky
Music
Nick's Concert Reviews

 

 

Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphabetical:

Benromach 1969/2011 (42.6%, OB, refill sherry hogshead)

Bunnahabhain 31 yo 1979/2011 (46.5%, Adelphi, Selection, cask #8893, 516 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 42 yo 1968/2011 (45.8%, Silver Seal, 219 bottles)

Caol Ila 2000/2011 (58.7%, Gordon & MacPhail for Scoma, 1st fill sherry hogshead, cask #30981, 296 bottles)

Caol Ila 27 yo 1984/2011 (52.4%, Douglas Laing for The Whisky Barrel, sherry hogshead, 120 bottles)

Caol Ila 29 yo 1982/2011 (51.54%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #761, 164 bottles)

Caol Ila 27 yo 1983/2011(46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #4824, 400 bottles)

Caol Ila 30 yo 1981/2011 (51.6%, The Whisky Fair, 10th Anniversary, bourbon hogshead, 130 bottles)

Caol Ila 2000/2011 (55.3%, Single Cask Collection, Willi Opitz Homok finish, bourbon)

Glen Grant 38 yo 1972/2011 (52.8%, The Whisky Agency, refill sherry hogshead, 215 bottles)

Glen Grant 39 yo 1972/2011 (51.2%, Jack Wiebers, Old Train Line, refill sherry, cask #38202, 256 bottles)

Glen Grant 59 yo 1952 (49.2%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW, Book of Kells, refill hogshead, cask #1134)

Longmorn 46 yo 1965/2011 (51.8%, Gordon & MacPhail for Limburg, Book of Kells, first fill sherry butt, cask #370)

St Magdalene 27 yo 1982/2009 (58.6%, Whisky Tales, 184 bottles)

Strathisla 1965/2011 (48%, Gordon & MacPhail for LMDW, 1st Fill Sherry Butt, cask #1283)

Tomatin 34 yo 1976/2011 (49.5%, Whisky-Doris, sherry hogshead, cask #9, 139 bottles)

Yamazaki 15 yo (61%, OB for Isetan, Japan, sherry butts, +/-2011)