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Hi, you're in the Archives, January 2014 - Part 1
       

December 2013 - part 2 <--- January 2014 - part 1 ---> January 2014 - part 2

 

January 14, 2014


Whiskyfun

A short Littlemill verticale

Maybe some fruit bombs to be expected, tell me about a terroirist (diving to even lower lows today, S.!)

Littlemill 20 yo 1992/2013 (54.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #11)

Littlemill 20 yo 1992/2013 (54.5%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #11) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: it is one of 'them'. Grapefruits first, then lime and cut grass, then walnut skins and hints of sugar cane, plus ideas of hazelnuts and then more redcurrants, gooseberries and just a little earth. Pretty perfect so far. With water: a 'riesling Littlemill' indeed. There's even a minerality. Some chalk, for example... Mouth (neat): superb, lemons and grapefruits, seaweed (Japanese nori) and angelica. Perfect zestiness, this one's 'sharp like a blade' but everything's perfectly balanced. Even the mouth feel is perfect, what a lovely zesty Littlemill! With water: all that in the power of two. Finish: long, fresh, lemony, ultra-clean and perfectly chiselled. Comments: it's an excellent one. The most complex kind of lemon juice. SGP:651 - 89 points.

Littlemill 21 yo 1990/2013 (54.1%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #18)

Littlemill 21 yo 1990/2013 (54.1%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #18) Four stars and a halfColour: straw. Nose: rounder, more on apples than the 1992, with less grass and more fresh butter and herbs (chives?) as well as even more walnuts. Feels more mature, albeit rather less spectacular. Gentler, in a way. With water: a little menthol coming through. Fern. Mouth (neat): exactly the opposite, this time this one's less gentle, even if it's lower in alcohol. Lemon tea everywhere, grapefruits, green tea and just a little vanilla. A sugariness in the background, which makes it also a notch fatter after a few seconds. Also pomegranates. Finish: pomegranates indeed, for a long time. And lemon, grapefuits etcaetera. Comments: much similar in fact but I tend to like the 1992's zing even better. SGP:651 - 88 points.

Littlemill 24 yo 1989/2013 (52.9%, The Whisky Agency with Acla da Fans, hogshead, 304 bottles)

Littlemill 24 yo 1989/2013 (52.9%, The Whisky Agency with Acla da Fans, hogshead, 304 bottles) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: this time it's more tinned fruits than fresh ones that we're having, rather around peaches and melons, then tangerines. A little more vanilla and honey as well, blood oranges, flowers. Peonies and just distant whiffs of lilies. With water: I'd say pink grapefruit and natural leather. Mouth (neat): once again, it's a zesty, half-tropical one that goes down only too well. All-vitamin juice, tangerines, maybe a slice of banana, a mild kind of honey and, just like in the 1990, a little sugar. Barley sugar, of course.

With water: textbook slightly rounded citrus. Lemon pie. Finish: long, now with added touches of mangos and papayas, but this is no Bowmore 1966 (no kiddin'?) Comments: all perfect. Classic. SGP:551 - 90 points.

Littlemill 1988/2013 (52.1%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 13035, 185 bottles)

Littlemill 1988/2013 (52.1%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 13035, 185 bottles) Four stars Colour: amber. Nose: this one's really funny, as it rather starts with sardines and other tinned fish. I'm not joking, it does smell a bit like a box of caviar, but not exactly briny or even coastal. After that, oranges and herbal teas, including orange blossom and lemon zests, then broken branches and fresh nuts. Fresh walnuts. It's a very complex nose that needs time. With water: beef stock this time? Marrow? Garlic? Fun fun fun... Mouth (neat): it's just as unusual on the palate, but instead of tinned fish, it's rather tabasco and Worcester sauce that I'm finding, as well as a little sweet mustard. And after that, the expected lemons, tangerines, blood oranges and passion fruits. Lots of fun to be had with this one! With water: LOL! Pepperoni and capsicum, then more sharpy lemon zests. Finish: long, spicy. Rather ginger this time, bitter oranges, cloves... A little astringent. Comments: a very spicy one, very unusual. A funny variant, and fun's important. SGP:562 - 85 points.

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

 

 

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January 13, 2014


Whiskyfun

Two Glen Keith

Glen Keith is another name that's been much invigorated by the indies in recent years. Anybody remembering the old official 10yo or the 1983 bearing the same livery will understand what I mean.

Glen Keith 21 yo 1992/2013 (52.1%, Silver Seal and Lion's Whisky, 115 bottles)

Glen Keith 21 yo 1992/2013 (52.1%, Silver Seal and Lion's Whisky, 115 bottles) Four stars and a half A brand new joint bottling by these two Italian friends. I've already heard great comments but I do not want to be influenced (to much). Colour: gold. Nose: maybe it's the colour, but I cannot not think of some kind of oak-aged mirabelle eau-de-vie, with this very elegant and very peculiar fruitiness. After that, some kind of discreet smoke and grass - well, grass smoke - and tangerine liqueur, with a mineral side that brings a great foundation. Also a little leaven, vanilla, butter crème, freshly squeezed orange juice and just touches of gueuze beer. With water: more hay and sweet apple juice. Barley water, marzipan... Lovely! Mouth (neat): high fruits and vanilla, with a style that I sometimes find in the best Arrans or, for that matter, ex-bourbon Amruts or Kavalans. Butterscotch and raisins plus marmalade and ripe plums, as well as a little grapefruit and honey. Works very well. With water: perfect. A few more spices, esp. cinnamon. Finish: long, quite creamy, rather drier. More cinnamon, also a little brown sugar. Comments: perfect within this style. A slightly less dry finish and I may have gone to 90. SGP:641 - 89 points.

Glen Keith 19 yo 1993/2012 (55.4%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon hogshead, cask #97114, 288 bottles)

Glen Keith 19 yo 1993/2012 (55.4%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon hogshead, cask #97114, 288 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: minerality and grassiness up, fruitiness down. You got it, it's a more austere version of Glen Keith, certainly less easy/sexy, but maybe that's the higher strength. Let's see... With water: same, with maybe more lemon peel and a little cinchona. Mouth (neat): we're much closer to the 1992, only with less vanilla again and rather more lemon, then grass and raw barley. Works very well. With water: a lovely earthy side comes out. Fresh mushrooms as well. Finish: long, with white pepper and touches of ginger. Comments: excellent once again, it's just a little less 'full' than the 1992, with a pepper that's pretty big in the finish and aftertaste. SGP:451 - 87 points.

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback
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January 12, 2014


Whiskyfun

A few weird ageless rums

Rum is not quite an 'appellation', you can make some in very different ways and absolutely everywhere on this planet. I've tried to gather a few examples of those weird rums that have almost nothing in common.

Captain Morgan 'Original Rum' (40%, OB, blended rum, +/-2013)

Captain Morgan 'Original Rum' (40%, OB, blended rum, +/-2013) Two stars A heavy seller that's a blend of Guyana and Jamaica, it seems. Colour: coffee. Nose: let me say that this is a good surprise, I do find Jamaica and Guyana's phenolic and tarry notes, as well as these touches of black olives and, well, burnt molasses. Certainly not unpleasant at this point, I had thought this would be a disaster. Mouth: same feeling, the spirit's a little weak but it's no syrupy, sugar-boosted concoction. Some sugar cane, caramel, a few herbs, gingerbread, aniseed... It's a fair product, methinks. Finish: not too long but there's some liquorice appearing. More grassy touches as well. Comments: really a good surprise. I won't rush out and buy a case, but I'm glad I tried the Captain. SGP:551 - around 75 points.

Just for fun, let's jump to a NAS rum that should be very 'premium'...

A.H. Riise 'Non Plus Ultra' (42%, OB, Virgin Islands, +/-2013)

A.H. Riise 'Non Plus Ultra' (42%, OB, Virgin Islands, +/-2013) Non plus ultra, really? Maybe, this is a €100+ bottle. They make only 2000 bottles a year, it seems. Colour: amber. Nose: complex indeed. There are some molassy notes indeed but also some sandalwood, a little incense, something like redcurrant jelly, some tobacco for sure, early grey tea... It's all pretty delicate and elegant, I like this nose despite the lack of oomph. Mouth: yuh! Ultra-sweet, mega-syrupy, this is more a liqueur again. Orange liqueur with a little caraway, vanilla, honey and... More orange liqueur. It's not a 'distillate'. Finish: rather long, spicier. Some pepper, which is very welcome in this context. Comments: I thought the nose was quite wonderful, but the palate is simply not that of a rum. My god, it's almost kummel. SGP:760 - around 65 points.

Oh well, since we're having strange ones, we could as well try...

Bundaberg (37%, OB, Australia, +/-2013)

Bundaberg (37%, OB, Australia, +/-2013) one star and a half Stuff for surfers and crocodile hunters, isn't it. Colour: gold. Nose: bizarre, very bizarre... Some earthy molasses, overripe melons, apricot liqueur, something bizarrely medicinal, mercurochrome, menthol, bandages... I have to say this is really 'fun', but let's check the palate before we start to trumpet... Mouth: ha! This is fun! Something burnt and something rotten, but the combo kind of works. Hard to describe... Some slightly stale plum eau-de-vie, perhaps, juniper berries, a wee feeling of burnt plastic and again some mercurochrome. Doesn't taste like rum at all, but yeah, it's fun. Finish: not short, a little bitterer and grassier. Is this a joint venture with Jaegermeister? Comments: a true UFS (Unidentified Flying Spirit). I liked the fun in it. Oh, and it's not too sweet! SGP:451 - around 67 points.

La Hechicera 'Fine Aged Rum' (40%, Colombia, +/-2013)

La Hechicera 'Fine Aged Rum' (40%, Colombia, +/-2013) Two stars Not la hashisheria, mind you (S., boo!) Colour: amber. Nose: quite nice at first nosing, rather on bananas, vanilla and sawdust. Some white oak in action, maybe. Then rather apricots and peaches, or rather apricot pie. Also buttery pastries, croissants, baklavas... It is a very nice nose and quite a surprise. Mouth: yes, it's good stuff, it's not too sweet, there's something Cuban in style, it's light, slightly grassy, a little discreet. Some butterscotch, vanilla fudge, a little tea... I'm glad it's no schmalzy South-American. Finish: medium length, with some peppery spices coming out. It's actually becoming very peppery, like when you just ate some not-too-mild Indian dish. That's funny again. Also sawdust in the aftertaste. Comments: the finish is a little wobbly but other than that, it's a fine rum in my opinion. SGP:551 - around 72 points.

Pyrat 'Cask 1623' (40%, OB, blended rum, +/-2013)

Pyrat 'Cask 1623' (40%, OB, blended rum, +/-2013) A vatting of very old rums by the makers of tequila Patron. Scary enough? Let's see... BTW of course it's no single cask despite the name - and it wasn't distilled in 1623 either. Ha! Oh and the price lies around €200. Colour: dark amber. Nose: pure orange and tangerine liqueurs with herbs and spices. Absolutely no signs of sugar cane whatsoever. It's not that I do not like orange liqueur - I really do - but I was ready for rum. Mouth: ultra-syrupy, fatty, ueber-sweet orange liqueur indeed, with a little juniper and ginger. Dill. It's actually a very good liqueur, but we're much closer to Drambuie than to Ardbeg or Macallan. Or, say, Enmore. Finish: long, very sweet and sugary. And always a lot of oranges. Comments: maybe a bling thing. You just cannot trust the word 'rum' on a label, can you? Now, I insist, it's pretty good liqueur. SGP:930 - around 55 points.

Pyrat 'XO' (40%, OB, blended rum, +/-2013)

Pyrat 'XO' (40%, OB, blended rum, +/-2013) The pyrats have got another chance to impress me. This one is six or seven times cheaper, so maybe it's six or seven times better... Colour: amber. Nose: similar style, orange liqueur, aquavit, ginger, herbs... It's just lighter and, so to speak, less profound. Mouth: ridden with sugar, but again it's good liqueur. Reminds me of Linie aquavit, or say a blend of Linie and Grand-Marnier. No rum that I can taste. It's actually a little fresher and cleaner than the bling version, so better in my book. Finish: long, very sweet, now with a little coconut. Some pepper from the wood. Comments: indeed I liked this liqueur a little better than the 'Cask 1623'. SGP:840 - around 60 points.

That's it, I'm giving up. To think that the cheap Captain Morgan's been my favourite. Unless we're calling in the indie Italians one again?...

Caribbean 2005/2013 (45%, Samaroli, cask #4&5, 250 bottles)

Caribbean 2005/2013 (45%, Samaroli, cask #4&5, 250 bottles) Three stars and a half 'Caribbean' may be a little vague, but the art déco label is beautiful. Colour: straw (great news). Nose: it's a rather raw rum despite a very light style, with fermenting bananas and quite some hay, a little butter, these notes of olives that I like so much in rum (because I've seldom found them in whisky) and something like sour apples. It's got an 'agricole' side, but maybe it isn't. Mouth: quite lovely, starting on pears and sugar cane, going on with an oily and olive-y profile that works very well. Certainly less light than on the nose. More candy sugar after that, but the pears remain there. Finish: long, quite grassy and spicy. Some salt, citrons, sugar cane... More pepper in the aftertaste. Black pepper. Comments: we have our winner, but I wouldn't say the opposition has been very flamboyant today. SGP:451 - around 83 points.

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

 

 

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January 10, 2014


Whiskyfun

Two naked Glenburgie

I wrote 'naked' because Glenburgie's often offered as ex-heavy sherry, while these two are light in colour...

Glenburgie 21 yo 1992/2013 (50%, Wilson & Morgan, casks #4895-4900)

Glenburgie 21 yo 1992/2013 (50%, Wilson & Morgan, casks #4895-4900) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: a fairly fruity Speysider of good maturity. I'm finding tarte tatin, maple syrup, overripe apples, barley sugar, milk chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch. Maybe not totally entrancing but it's all very fine and pretty straight. A lot of marzipan after five minutes. With water: pretty much the same profile. Sweet barley, cereals, caramelised cornflakes... Mouth (neat): creamy mouth feel, a lot of caramel, fudge and vanilla (that would be vanilla fudge) then apple pie and spicy marmalade. Very full, with a pleasant sweetness. Another one that makes me think of Werther's Originals. Not very Goethian though. With water: same but (even) better. Very creamy, this is almost fortified honey. Finish: long, on fudge, caramel, maple syrup, honey, chocolate... Comments: swims greatly. Let's try to find the name of a great Italian swimmer... There, this Glenburgie, swims like Federica Pellegrini. SGP:541 - 86 points.

Glenburgie 30 yo 1983/2013 (51.5%, Signatory for 30th Anniversary Waldhaus am See, cask #9822, 164 bottles)

Glenburgie 30 yo 1983/2013 (51.5%, Signatory for 30th Anniversary Waldhaus am See, cask #9822, 164 bottles) Five stars A 30yo for a 30th anniversary, how smart is that? Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one has more character, with more minerals, wet grass, earth, humus, roots... And behind that, a fruit salad, with apples, oranges, even pears, with drops of honey and a few fresh mint leaves. I like this. With water: oh this is funny, there are some phenols coming out, old clothes, metal polish, soot, Barbour grease... And something musty. Mouth (neat): more of what we've found in the nose. Big earthy/rooty side, with this feeling of gentian that I cherish. Did the excellent people in St Moritz throw a few gentian roots into the cask? Also oranges and grapefruits, touches of mangos, lemon grass and a wee touch of leather and menthol. Plus, just like in the 1992, a little caramel. Excellent. With water: sweet gentian liqueur, and many tinier flavours. Finish: long, earthy, great. Comments: Glenburgie's not very well-known (anymore, while it was in the 1970s), but there are gems. This one is a good example. SGP:552 - 90 points.

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

 

 

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January 9, 2014


Whiskyfun

Young guns from the Glens

Very young whiskies are always interesting, and sometimes even very good. They usually display the distilleries' core characters, unless they were treated with heavy wood or wine, of course. And why young Glens, you may ask? Why not? (that was very useful, S.)

Glen Spey 9 yo 2002/2012 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask #8468)

Glen Spey 9 yo 2002/2012 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask #8468) Three stars and a half Glen Spey! I haven't tried many, I have to say. Could tell you how it should or could taste... Colour: pale white wine. Nose: it's quite smoky I have to say, so it's a surprise. Almost Talisker-smoky, in fact, with then more greengages and apples. Also a minerality and whiffs of menthol... I find this interesting and even nice. Mouth: oh, same feeling, some peat smoke, rocks, ashes, then bitter herbs, a medicinal side, artichokes... Truly a surprise, I had thought this would be 'another sweet and fruity young Speyside'. Not at all! Finish: long, always very grassy and mineral. And smoky. Comments: had to double-check the label but no, this is no mistake, it's truly a very peaty Glen Spey. Or someone has been playing tricks... Good stuff anyway. SGP:355 - 83 points.

Glendronach 8 yo 'Octarine' (46%, OB, +/-2013)

Glendronach 8 yo 'Octarine' (46%, OB, +/-2013) Four stars I had first tried Octarine when it came out, back in 2010. It's the kind of whisky that I like to follow every three or four years... Colour: red amber (looks finished). Nose: I like these notes of orange peel and raspberry jam, the herbal teas (hawthorn, eglantine) and the light toffeeness. Also something mineral, but it's not gunpowder. Say gravel. Maybe Turkish delights, also. Mouth: yes it works, like almost everything Glendronach does these days. Ganaches, some kind of fruity toffee, some soft spices (cloves for sure), oranges, some liquorice, strawberry jam... It's a rather fresher kind of sherry (is that sherry?) and the whole feels older than 8. Finish: quite long, fresh, easy, fruity... Comments: I had found the first edition beautifully compact, I find this one pretty wider but not less beautiful. Great value for money (what's the price again?... ahem...) SGP:651 - 85 points.

Glentauchers 8 yo 2005/2013 (48.2%, Sansibar, 244 bottles)

Glentauchers 8 yo 2005/2013 (48.2%, Sansibar, 244 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: not too sure this was totally ready for bottling, since I find quite some porridge and damp oatcakes at first nosing, but I won't deny that the herbal side as well s these notes of fresh barley are quite nice. There's also some fresh figs, quite a departure from the usual dried ones that we find in many whiskies. I enjoy this freshness, I have to say. Mouth: fun fruits! Tangerines and bitter oranges plus quite some ginger liqueur (European oak???), liqueur-filled chocolate, a wee touch of Thai red sauce, then more tangerines and their peels... I don't know if that's because I've just mentioned red sauce, but it feels a bit like Campari at cask strength. Good body. Finish: long, with more of all that. Comments: Campari-orange. That's fun! SGP:561 - 84 points.

Glenglassaugh 'Evolution' (50%, OB, +/-2013)

Glenglassaugh 'Evolution' (50%, OB, +/-2013) Two starsThis is 'new' Glenglassaugh, meaning it was distilled after the distillery was restarted, in the end of 2008. It was matured in ex-George Dickel casks. I think there were also bottlings at full cask strength. Colour: white wine. Nose: nah, this is too young. Vanilla and cherries on porridge, then a lot of plum eau-de-vie, which I often find in very young malts. Not unpleasant, in fact, but without peat, special cut, mild climate or 'heavy' wood, it's hard to come up with 'mature' whisky after just four or five years. Mouth: fairly better, I think. Barley sugar and apple juice, with less raw notes. Fine oily vanilla from the Tennessee casks. A little kirsch rather than plum, I'd say. Finish: quite long, sweet and barleyish. Comments: a very sweet one, 'showing promise', as they say. Rather for mixing, at this age? SGP:631 - 76 points.

Glenallachie 8 yo 2004/2013 (53.5%, Whisky-Doris, 10th Anniversary, sherry butt, 377 bottles)

Glenallachie 8 yo 2004/2013 (53.5%, Whisky-Doris, 10th Anniversary, sherry butt, 377 bottles) Three stars and a half A young Glenallachie, that's quite rare. Colour: gold. Nose: the most vanilla-ed, toffee-ish, honeyed and rounded of them all. A lot of barley sugar as well, tarte tatin (big) and butterscotch, it's all very easy and appealing. No roughish notes at all despite the very young age. With water: as usual, a few little farmy touches come through (hay) as well as a little mint. Just a little. Mouth (neat): crunching a cereal bar. Also more herbs, some a tad bitter. And also white chocolate, apple pie, malt. With water: sweet malty whisky. A little marmalade as well. Finish: quite long but it's not the best part. Very barleyish. Comments: very fine. I would imagine this easy/malty style would make for a fine official Glenallachie. SGP:441 - 83 points.

All right, all were very fine, even the ueberyoung Glenglassaugh was quite fine, but maybe we could have a digestif. A old young one...

Glenfarclas-Glenlivet 8 yo (40%, OB, Grant Bonding, Italy, late 1960's)

Glenfarclas-Glenlivet 8 yo (40%, OB, Grant Bonding, Italy, late 1960's) Five stars We already had one that was labelled at 70°proof, while this one shows a %. Colour: gold. Nose: this must be bottle ageing. It's an extremely honeyed one, it could have been a 40yo Caperdonich, Glen Grant or even Macallan (ex-refill). So beeswax, honey and nectar, then polished wood - while there mustn't be much wood, crushed mustard seeds, pecans, a grassy smokiness and a lot of blond tobacco. Absolutely gorgeous nose. Mouth: amazing. Less complex but amazing. Nuts and chocolates and dried fruits and honeys and herbal teas and mint and Indian sweet sauce (korma mix, I'd say) and... That's all. Well that was already a lot. Finish: long and full, with a smoky side and many jams and honeys. Marmalade. Comments: whiskies used to be bigger and fatter for sure. Maybe that's direct-firing? Amazing whisky but maybe it wasn't strictly 8. Rather feels like 25. And 40% vol, imagine! Feels like 46%. SGP:662 - 91 points.

 

 

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January 8, 2014


Whiskyfun

Interesting Balblair, including a white 1960

I've heard raving comments and reviews of the new official Balblairs, while I'll always remember the amazing fruitiness that was to be found in the versions that were distilled in the 1960s. Will it be back one day? Having said that, that could well have come from perfect ageing, and not from the original distillate. Well, the only way to find out is to try this...

Balblair 1960/1960 (62%, OB, new make)
Balblair in the early 1960s

Balblair 1960/1960 (62%, OB, new make) Four stars and a halfThat's right, Balblair that was distilled in 1960 (my year, by the way) and that's been kept ever since at the distillery. Hey, it's even older than the famous sample of Malt Mill's new make! And it's a perfect way of checking whether ageing in glass works or not. Mind you, this is white whisky that was kept for more than 60 years in glass! Colour: plain white.

Nose: it's actually smoky, ashy and only a tad feinty, with little fruitiness thus far, we're rather having an unexpectedly phenolic and grassy style. It has got something to do with good mezcal, I also find notes of linoleum and damp chalk. With water: more mezcal, really. Superb mezcal, just a notch less briny. Great smoke. Mouth (neat): oh this is good. No wonder the distillery workers used to have their share of new make every day in the old days, that may have killed a few but it was worth it. Sort of. What's striking is that it's not newmaky as such, and not kirschy either. Good barley sweetness, soot, ashes and, indeed, touches of pineapples. With water: there, fruits! Amazing, salted peaches, pineapples, apples, passion fruits, blood oranges... So indeed, that was there in the first place, or it came from glass maturation. Finish: long, fruity and smoky, with an earthiness, good fruits, a great freshness, and no feinty/yeasty notes whatsoever. Comments: much, much less raw and brutal than I had thought. I'm dead sure bottle ageing helped. After all, this is the way may eau-de-vie makers mature their spirits and we've got quite a few very old 'fruit new makes' in Alsace that became a smooth as peach skin. SGP:653 - no score but we would be approaching the 90-mark.

And now the new 1989 but first, the older version since we've never tried it.

Balblair 1989/2010 (43%, OB)

Balblair 1989/2010 (43%, OB) Four stars Well spotted, this is the older version, still at 43% vol. Colour: pale gold. Nose: one word, elegance. There's a little of many aromas, such as apple skins, linseed oil, fresh walnuts, clay, iris, dandelion, watermelon, tangerines, then more herbal touches, verbena, lime-blossom, chamomile... It's certainly not big, and maybe it's even a notch weakish, but I don't know of many whiskies that are this subtle and elegant. Mouth: lovely indeed, and not weakish. Starts with some chocolate and oranges, an unexpected saltiness and maybe hints of peat, some apple juice, tiny hints of bananas and pineapples that do remind me of the 1960s indeed, then more light honey, acacia-style. Cinnamon as well. Too bad it tends to lose steam, that's the lowish strength. Finish: a little short, but I find a little sweet mustard in the aftertaste. A little salt as well. Comments: great arrivals on both the nose and the palate, but it tends to drop a bit. On the other hand, it's a very easy dram. SGP:541 - 85 points.

Balblair 1989/2013 (46%, OB)

Balblair 1989/2013 (46%, OB) Four stars Up 3% vol.! Colour: pale gold. Nose: another world. I don't know if the composition (kinds of casks and such) is similar to that of the older bottling but this is fruitier and, I have to say, rather less subtle. A little less subtle. There's more vanilla for sure, as well as more apples and peaches. More oranges as well, more spices... Could be a more active wood, or just the higher strength. Let's see what happens on the palate... Mouth: sure, this is simpler again, a little narrower than the older version, with more vanilla... But it's also more satisfying, more immediate, more 'modern'. Apple juice, green apples, white pepper, oranges, mead and cinnamon. Plus the trademark hints of bananas. Finish: pretty long, clean, maltier. Marmalade on toasted brioche. Comments: more American oak. That offers advantages and disadvantages, but the whisky's certainly fuller - and simpler at the same time. Hence the same score in my book. SGP:541 - 85 points.

(with thanks to Angus and gang)

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback
PJ
PJ

 

 

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January 7, 2014


Whiskyfun

Young Laphroaig
and very young Laphroaig

Young Laphroaig, when staying away from excessive botox (read dreadful newish oak), can be absolutely stellar in my opinion. Let's try to find a few...

Laphroaig 'An Cuan Mor' (48%, OB, travel retail, 2013)

Laphroaig 'An Cuan Mor' (48%, OB, travel retail, 2013) Four stars What's really cool with all these new NAS whiskies, is that we'll all soon be fluent in Gaelic. Proof, I already know how to write 'gleamach'. This one was matured in first fill bourbon and finished in European oak. Colour: gold. Nose: oh, there's much more Laphroaigness than in the very modest recent QA Cask or PX Cask, but there's also quite some sawdust. Big medicinal smoke, soot, a little candy sugar, brine, seaweed, then a lovely earthiness, damp earth, fern, moss... All that works extremely well in my opinion. No dumb vanilla syrup that I can smell, hurray! Mouth: there are wee touches of plain oak, and certainly quite some ginger from the European oak in the first sip, but other than that, it's classic medicinal Laphroaig, with only a few touches of soda in the background (7 Up?) Big peat, liquorice wood, roots, earth... And blood oranges. Finish: long, maybe a notch sugary now but it works. Candy sugar, peat, oak... Comments: the oak's very noticeable, to say the least, and this baby feels  a bit carpentered, so to speak, but even I prefer natural Laphroaig, I think this one's quite excellent, you just need to be into whiskies with 'exposed beams'. Ha. SGP:557 - 85 points.

Laphroaig 6 yo 2006/2012 (46%, Coopers Choice, hogshead, cask ##4361)

Laphroaig 6 yo 2006/2012 (46%, Coopers Choice, hogshead, cask ##4361) Four stars A very young one, that's interesting... Colour: straw. Nose: not quite whisky yet, because the yeasty and beery side remains very obvious, but indeed it's very interesting to catch a malt at this point. Not much medicinal notes, rather a lot of brine and seawater, seaweed, beach sand, oysters and all that jazz. All that with a good deal of peat smoke, no need to say. Like nosing some smoked seawater! Mouth: you know what, it's the 'An Cuan Mor', only with less oak. This is striking. Pure brine and liquid smoke, oyster juice, a feeling of antiseptic this time, kippers, earth, liquorice, gentian... Finish: long and very briny. How is it possible to obtain this profile without adding quite a few fistfuls of salt to each barrel? Comments: obviously very spirit-forward. What's not to like when the spirit's this great? A spectacular ueberyoungster. SGP:457 - 87 points.

Laphroaig 6 yo 2006/2013 (57.8%, Single Cask Nation, refill hogshead, cask #119, 269 bottles)

Laphroaig 6 yo 2006/2013 (57.8%, Single Cask Nation, refill hogshead, cask #119, 269 bottles) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar, but less expressive, as always when the strength's very high. It's maybe the salty/coastal side that's more apparent, sardines, oysters, beach sand and such... With water: it couldn't be nicer at six years of age. High smoke ratio, burnt plastic 'in a good way', new tyres, seaweed fire... Mouth (neat): pow! High impact, mezcaly Laphroaig. Impressive brine, capers, gherkins, olives, smoke... I love this. With water: more of all that. I'm mucho impressed. What a spirit! Finish: very long, with some lemon lifting it to new heights. Interminable. Comments: what an amazing young Laphroaig! You just cannot beat this. Deserves a very high score, I'm wondering why the owners - not just at Laphroaig - don't manage to issue such crystalline bottlings. SGP:458 - 92 points.

Laphroaig 12 yo 2000/2013 (51.7%, The Perfect Dram, refill sherry)

Laphroaig 12 yo 2000/2013 (51.7%, The Perfect Dram, refill sherry) Five stars Colour: straw. Nose: it's a seawatery and camphory one, it seems. So camphor and eucalyptus (that would be Vicks', wouldn't it) and quite some menthol, with a mild smoke, then some liquorice and touches of tinned pineapples that remind me of the old 10 CS. Keeps developing for a long time, this baby shouldn't be rushed. With water: fab. Smoked passion fruits and mangos, enough said. Mouth (neat): lovely! Big peat smoke, sweets and jellybeans, all flavoured with tropical fruits, and then a huge saltiness again. There's this peat/tropical fruits combo that used to work so well in much older Laphroaigs. Hurray! With water: grapefruits and citrons are coming out, together with even more salt and a dry ashy side. Finish: long and sharp, chiselled, very ashy and smoky. And briny. Comments: extremely great, give it a little time and it'll remind you of the best 10 yo Cask Strength. Well done again Whisky Agency, really loved this one. SGP:557 - 91 points.

Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2013 (52.7%, The Whisky Agency, refill hogshead, 261 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2013 (52.7%, The Whisky Agency, refill hogshead, 261 bottles) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: less straight and 'evident' sharpness, more sourish fruitiness (cider apples, perhaps) for a few seconds... Even a yeastiness. Then more raw wool, earth, rainwater, then spicy herbs (dill, for example) and lastly, all things from the sea. Fish first, then seashells, then weed. Oops, almost forgot all this antiseptic and tincture of iodine. Quality's high again, it seems. With water: seaweed, fresh, old, dried. Mouth (neat): fab. Almond oil, kippers, marzipan, crystallised lemon, salt, smoked salmon, lemon zests... And a huge smoke. Evident. With water: the tropical fruits come out. More menthol and camphor as well. Haven't I mentioned Vicks' before? Finish: long. Salty. Very salty. Comments: just another great one. The 2000 was (even) better chiselled, though. I'll say it again, why do the owners (of the distillery) keep fiddling with unlikely wood when they have such a marvellous distillate? SGP:357 - 90 points.

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

 

 

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January 6, 2014


Whiskyfun

New or newish Glenrothes
from NAS to 1988

At Glenrothes too there’s more and more no-age-statement whiskies. Today let’s have two new travel retail exclusives and then, maybe, a few other Glenrothes…

Glenrothes 'Elder's Reserve' (43%, OB, Manse Brae series, travel retail, 2013)

Glenrothes 'Elder's Reserve' (43%, OB, Manse Brae series, travel retail, 2013) Three stars The brand’s website says that this baby’s 18 yo and was ‘matured for a minimum of 18 years in equal proportions of American Oak and Spanish Oak casks’. Colour: pale gold. Nose: typical official Glenrothes with good sherry and plenty of honey, maple syrup, toffee and roasted nuts. I also enjoy the touches of liquorice as well as the Ovaltine, not to forget the hints of marmalade. Ultra-classic malt whisky, extremely easy and probably consensual. Mouth: all on honey, cane sugar, marmalade, roasted peanuts and gingerbread. Apple pie and speculoos. Good body, it’s no thin whisky at 43% vol. Finish: maybe a little short, honeyed and marmalady. Comments: an easy all-rounder, if you like them honeyed. SGP:541 - 82 points.

Glenrothes 'Minister's Reserve' (43%, OB, Manse Brae series, travel retail, 2013)

Glenrothes 'Minister's Reserve' (43%, OB, Manse Brae series, travel retail, 2013) Three stars‘Matured for a minimum of 21 years in a higher proportion of Spanish Oak casks’. Colour: gold. Nose: very similar but I find this one a little shier and certainly a little more marked by the oak. That translates into touches of pinesap, furniture polish and cedar wood, I’d say, before we have more sultanas and the traditional honey, marmalade and toffee. Very nice rounded and complex nose. Mouth: the oak’s more obvious, there are green tannins and quite some strong tee beyond the very toffee-ish profile. Bitter chocolate, marmalade, roasted nuts and a little mocha. Finish: of medium length, maybe a notch drying (cedar wood). Orange blossom water and walnuts. Comments: same good quality as the Elder’s, I’d say. A notch more complex but also a tad more drying, hence the same score in my little book. SGP:451 - 82 points.

Glenrothes 2001/2012 (43%, OB)

Glenrothes 2001/2013 (43%, OB) Four stars This is the second eddition of the 2001. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a rounder, more chocolaty nose again. Honey cake and gingerbread, Ovaltine, custard and… Mars bar. A little earth in the background, which ads complexity. I like this. Mouth: more power than in the NAS versions, more roundness, more honey, more liqueurs and more jams. It’s not that it’s ueber-complex but what it does it does well. Malt jam and apple pie. Finish: relatively long yet clean and kind of light, with more oranges than in the others. Touches of pencil shavings and nutmeg in the aftertaste. Comments: I don’t always need a lot of complexity. SGP:441 - 85 points.

Let’s see if we can find new Glenrothes from the indies’…

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 18 yo 1994/2013 (46%, Cadenhead)

Glenrothes-Glenlivet 18 yo 1994/2013 (46%, Cadenhead) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: this is very interesting, we’re having more or less the same profile as the OBs’, only without the layer of sherry and marmalade. So the honey’s doing all the talking, together with overripe apples and a little earth and cut grass, as well as hints of lavender flowers and juniper. Nicely fresh and kind of floral. Mouth: a zestier official, I’d say. Custard, honey, marmalade, fresh oranges, maple syrup, roasted nuts and then rather more pepper. Finish: quite long, malty, grassier than before. Grapefruits? Comments: on par. An IB that really tastes like an OB in spite of a fresher, zestier nose. All good. SGP:541 - 85 points.

Glenrothes 18 yo 1995/2013 (46%, Signatory, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, first fill sherry butt, cask #6175, 784 bottles)

Glenrothes 18 yo 1995/2013 (46%, Signatory, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, first fill sherry butt, cask #6175, 784 bottles) Four stars Signatory already issued quite a few excellent sherried 1995s. Colour: amber. Nose: it’s a lovely earthy and leathery sherry that develops on bitter oranges, honeydew, Corinth raisins, cinchona and gunflints. Also touches of wormwood, that’s nice! Mouth: just excellent. Bitter oranges, chocolate, honey sauce, bitters (Campari), blood oranges and a little toffee and white chocolate. This works very well. Finish: long, with more spices, around pepper and ginger but the orangey side remains very big. Comments: much to my liking, with a fresh kind of sherriness. Gracias Signatory. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Glenrothes 25 yo 1988/2013 (47.2%, Sansibar, bourbon cask)

Glenrothes 25 yo 1988/2013 (47.2%, Sansibar, bourbon cask) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s very ‘fresh Speyside’, that is to say all fruitsalady (S.!) and mildly honeyed. Ripe pears and apples, nectar and honey, a tiny-wee earthiness and then the obligatory oranges and custard. Pretty perfect. Mouth: really a fruit salad, including citrus and other tropical fruits such as mangos and papayas. Perfect body, with a few light spices that bring structure. First cinnamon, then light pepper and ginger. Finish: medium length. A little more vanilla and maybe a cinnamon that gets a tad loudish. Comments: for fresh fruit lovers. SGP:641 - 86 points.

Glenrothes 25 yo 1988/2013 (53%, Archives, refill sherry hogshead, cask #7318, 213 bottles)

Glenrothes 25 yo 1988/2013 (53%, Archives, refill sherry hogshead, cask #7318, 213 bottles) Four starsColour: pale gold. Nose: same as the Sansibar, more or less. Maybe a wee tad earthier and more mineral, but that may be the higher strength. Juicy apples, Starkrimson style. Very fresh, very nice. Mouth: ditto. A fruit salad again, papayas, guavas, oranges, acacia honey, sweet apples and tangerines. Same kind of spiciness. Finish: same. I have to say these batches tend to taste like the fruity Littlemills at times. Well, there are similarities but these Glenrothes are less zesty. Comments: very similar, quality’s high. You just have to like big fruits. SGP:641 – 86 points.

Good, I think there’s room for one more…

Glenrothes 22 yo 1990/2012 (50,7%, Maltbarn, sherry cask, 151 bottles)

Glenrothes 22 yo 1990/2012 (50,7%, Maltbarn, sherry cask, 151 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s rather less fruity, rather drier, rather more on chocolate and coffee and rather grassier and earthier as well. A little farmy/leathery, I’d say, it’s maybe not one of the sexiest fruity Glenrothes ever, I’d say. With water: more grass and farmy notes, as well as a little ‘nice’ sulphur (asparagus). Mouth (neat): it’s all happening on the palate, with many fruits again, apples, pears, oranges, gooseberries… Having said that there’s rather less honey than in the previous ‘Rothes. With water: more apples, many more apples… As pies, as juice and as cider. Doesn’t swim extremely well, you cannot quite go below 45% vol. Finish: medium length again. The oak comes out a bit more. Candy sugar in the aftertaste. Comments: certainly very good, that’s all I can add. SGP:541 - 84 points.

No whisky below 84 and none over 87, that’s the definition of an all-rounder, isn’t it.

(thank you Herbert)

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

 

 

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January 5, 2014


Whiskyfun

Tasting three slightly bizarre Auchroisk

We'll have two new indie Auchroisk today but first, a little official apéritif... I think we may expect walnuts, just trying to say something...

Auchroisk 10 yo 'Flora & Fauna' (43%, OB, +/-2010)

Auchroisk 10 yo 'Flora & Fauna' (43%, OB, +/-2010) Two stars and a half The earlier 'Singleton of Auchroisk', whether 'con vintage' or not, never quite convinced me but I found the fairly recent official 20 yo excellent (WF 87). Colour: straw. Nose: porridge, porridge and porridge. Wood-smoked porridge. Then grass, grass and grass and maybe a few nuts, and lastly, well, smoked porridge. It's all pretty dry I must say. Mouth: starts quite rough and unexpectedly salty. The nuts are back as well, together with quite some dry malt, a little stout, maybe drops of artichoke liqueur and a little chocolate. Good mouth feel at 43%. I like this palate better than the nose. Finish: quite long, dry and very malty. Touches of bitter oranges and pepper in the background. Comments: how unsweet! Pretty big, austere malt whisky. 'A variant'. SGP:262 - 78 points.

Auchroisk 22 yo 1991/2013 (49.5%, The Coopers Choice, Marsala finish, cask #9048, 250 bottles)

Auchroisk 22 yo 1991/2013 (49.5%, The Coopers Choice, Marsala finish, cask #9048, 250 bottles) Two stars Colour: gold. Nose: bizarre bizarre... Who said bizarre? This time it's coal smoke that's arising, something stale and even a tad rancid (yoghurt), before the wine starts to impart even more sour notes. Sour apples? Quite butyric, this strange baby, but there's something pleasant to be found in this unlikeliness. Maybe these growing whiffs of dark old musty wine cellar? Mouth: starts well, malty and nutty with very nice oranges, but it unfolds in a strange way. Bitter fruits, walnut skin, acrid plants and herbs, some kind of strange mustard... Not an easy one and that's an understatement. Finish: long, bitter and acrid. Comments: what kind of Marsala was this? It's like if the wine's acridness added to the spirit's. Having said that, if you love mustardy walnuts (?), this is for you. There are many great Coopers Choice bottlings these days but I feel this baby isn't one of them. SGP:372 - 70 points.

Auchroisk 22 yo 1990/2013 (52.9%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams)

Auchroisk 22 yo 1990/2013 (52.9%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams) Four stars This one should win hands down! ;-) Colour: gold. Nose: what's striking again is the smokiness, this time right between coal and wood. It's also quite sooty, then we have charcoal and a huge bag of walnuts. Good walnuts. With water: pear and camphor. More fun! Mouth (neat): there's a similar feeling of concentrated walnut extracts in the entry but some very nice orange and lemon marmalades manage to take control of all this. Some obvious similarities with the Coopers Choice do remain but there's also something that reminds me more of some good Manzanilla, which I enjoy. Yes, that would be mustard and walnuts again. With water:  same feeling. It's really not unlike the Coopers' but it's much better balanced and the lemony side grew bigger. It lifts it, in a way. Finish: long and zestier. It's really Manzanilla now! Comments: it's not easy whisky, it's not very sexy, but it works and it's very singular. Maybe that's why the owners called their version 'the singleton' fifteen or twenty years ago? It's also to be noted that this whisky improves a lot with oxygen. SGP:462 - 85 points.

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

 

 

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January 3, 2014


Whiskyfun

A little bag of Speysiders

Bits and bobs, really...

Singleton of Dufftown 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2013)

Singleton of Dufftown 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2013) Three starsI knew the 12 and the 18 but never tried the 15. Now's the time, Charlie. Colour: orangey gold. Nose: like! Some kind of flowery maltiness, with hints of stout, orange cake, honey and liquorice. It's all quite fragrant and pleasant. Mouth: same feeling, and it's not particularly weak despite the low strength. Honey and maple syrup, orange liqueur and a tiny-wee meatiness. Plus liquorice again for good measure. Very all right. Finish: pretty long! And it's got these notes of oriental pastries, baklavas, angel hairs and such. Comments: I think this one's a little bigger than the 18. Very pleasing, easy but not simple. SGP:441 - 81 points.

Cragganmore 20 yo 1993/2013 (50%, Wilson & Morgan, PX sherry finish, cask #1903-1904)

Cragganmore 20 yo 1993/2013 (50%, Wilson & Morgan, PX sherry finish, cask #1903-1904) Four stars and a halfColour: amber. Nose: hey-oh, this is very fragrant! Many raisins, many flowers and many syrups, then quite some coffee and Cointreau. I really like all this coffee, works very well. I would have also said 'maraschino', but that may be my mind playing tricks, knowing that the excellent bottlers are Italian. Ha! With water: orange liqueur - Camels - honey - hay.- plus old muscat wine. Nothing to not like. Mouth (neat): excellent, rich, coating, wit raisins and honey, coffee again, and wee touches of truffles, which is terrific. No I won't say 'white truffles', that would be my mind playing etc, etc, etc. With water: between an old liqueur and a Sauternes, and yet its not too sweet. Finish: quite long, sweet yet balanced. Lots of raisins. Comments: who said I was not into finishings? This works perfectly. SGP:741 - 89 points.

Braeval 21 yo 1991/2013 (53.1%, Brachadair, bourbon barrel, 230 bottles)

Braeval 21 yo 1991/2013 (53.1%, Brachadair, bourbon barrel, 230 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: it's a nutty, toasted one. I get warm brioche and apple pie, vanilla, then more oranges and a little tea and oak. Whiffs of fresh coffee too, some hay in the background, malt... All fine. With water: the hay got bigger, I also find cigarette tobacco and a little humus, which is great. Mouth (neat): sweet, oily and malty arrival, on, well, Ovaltine and café latte, then honey cake. Half a kumquat adds vibrancy. Also nougat. It's got something of Chivas Regal, is Braes a component of Chivas? With water: excellent! Perfect malty and honeyed all-rounder that would beat many more famous names in the same category. Finish: of medium length, on tarte tatin, crème brûlée and marmalade. A little ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: perfect as far as malty whiskies are concerned. Impressive body - this is a perfect 'central' Scotch malt, the word central being taken as a compliment here. These Braevals/Braes are starting to be impressive... SGP:551 - 87 points.

Glenglassaugh 40 yo 1972/2013 (43.1%, C&S Dram Collection, refill sherry butt, 300 bottles)

Glenglassaugh 40 yo 1972/2013 (43.1%, C&S Dram Collection, refill sherry butt, 300 bottles) Five stars These excellent German bottlers already had some frankly superb old Glenglassaugh. Colour: straw (surprisingly pale). Nose: a faint porridge at very first nosing, then anything from a beehive, honey, beeswax, pollen... Very floral yet relatively light, and it would go on with ripe yellow fruits, mirabelles, bergamots, a little tarte tatin... After ten minutes, there's even a little smoke, whiffs of hay, a little toasted oak white-Bourgogne-style, and we're back on that beehive. Simply wonderful, ala Caperdonich 1972 if that rings a bell. Mouth: a wee notch oaky but otherwise, all is perfect. We've got the same aromas as in the nose, plus some crème au beurre, fudge and old triple-sec (the kind that the hip bartenders are hunting down these days). Touches of sandalwood, perhaps. Finish: that's where it's losing one or two points, it's a notch too short and, well, not weak but a little too mellow. But the profile is lowly and the oak never really got dominating. A little coffee and marzipan in the aftertaste. Comments: maybe not as much an instant winner as earlier 1972s that were selected by the same people for Germany, but it's still a totally superb old honeyed Glenglassaugh. SGP:651 - 91 points. PS: I know GGlassaugh isn't officially a Speysider, but Michael Jackson said it was. There.

 

Ooops, almost forgot to post my fav of December...

Whiskyfun fav of the month

December 2013

Favourite recent bottling:
Brora 35 yo 1977/2013 (49.9%, OB, Special Release, 2944 bottles)  - WF 95

Favourite older bottling:
Yoichi 25 yo 1983/2009 (58.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Japanese oak, #116.15, 'Not peat for peat’s sake', 169 bottles) - WF 93

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Glendronach 11 yo 2002/2013 (52.1%, OB for The Whisky Agency, Pedro Ximenez Sherry Puncheon, cask #712, 624 bottles)  - WF 90

 

 

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January 2, 2014


Whiskyfun

A little bag of Tomatin

I think we've had quite some heavy whiskies lately, maybe it's time to have a few lighter Tomatins without having to wait for... spring. Let's try to build a wee verticale again...

Tomatin 'Legacy' (43%, OB, 2013)

Tomatin 'Legacy' (43%, OB, 2013) Two starsA NAS blend of ex-bourbon and ex-virgin oak. Colour: light gold. Nose: vanilla, green tea and bubblegum. Green tannins. Pine resin. It's got something of some very young grain whisky that's been used to season new bourbon oak. In a way, it reminds me of William Grant's Black Barrel. I'm not a huge fan so far... Mouth: a little better, but it tastes like beer eau-de-vie like they make here in Alsace. A little sweet and sour, I'd say. Sour apples, vanilla, marshmallows... All that with a pretty light body. Finish: quite short, with more green tannins. Comments: fair whisky, but I'm afraid I'm not a fan of this style, at all. For mixing? SGP:441 - 72 points.

Tomatin 8 yo (58.6%, Jack Wiebers, World of Orchids, bourbon cask, 119 bottles, 2013)

Tomatin 8 yo (58.6%, Jack Wiebers, World of Orchids, bourbon cask, 119 bottles, 2013) Two stars and a half A very small outturn and a lovely label. We've seen that before, haven't we. Colour: gold. Nose: not a gentle, fruity/floral Tomatin, rather a very kirschy, raw, aggressive youngster when undiluted. Very yeasty but not feinty. With water: improves quite a lot. Apple tart, papayas, vanilla, tea... And cornflakes. Also a lot of custard. Mouth (neat): more fruits, rather oranges and maybe kiwis, but it's still hot and aggressive. Farmer's plum eau-de-vie. With water: a little more rubber and leather, also more ginger and bitter oranges. Finish: quite long and maltier. Comments: a rather fine raw youngster, but maybe more brambles than orchids. SGP:351 - 78 points.

Tomatin 25 yo 1988/2013 (49.7%, The Whisky Agency, The Perfect Dram, hogshead, 304 bottles)

Tomatin 25 yo 1988/2013 (49.7%, The Whisky Agency, The Perfect Dram, hogshead, 304 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: it's got what the previous ones didn't have, that is to say freshness and 'purity', without excessive woody notes. It's maybe not quite a wonder, and it's not quite as much on fresh fruits as older Tomatins, but there's a very nice grassiness, some marzipan, moss, green cigars, aloes, lemon grass... Again, it's the freshness that's very pleasant. Mouth: I like this. Citrus and herbs all over the place, on a bed of earth and leaves. A little fatter than I had thought after the nose, with touches of lemon honey, then more icing sugar and liquorice allsorts. Gets sweeter and sweeter. Finish: quite long, clean and sweet. Jellybeans? Also kept this grassiness that fits it well. Funny notes of pears in the aftertaste. Comments: much more like it. Actually very good. SGP:551 - 86 points.

Tomatin 1991/2013 (51%, OB, T.S.M.C., oloroso sherry butt, cask #31742, 667 bottles)

Tomatin 1991/2013 (51%, OB, T.S.M.C., oloroso sherry butt, cask #31742, 667 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: shoe polish, coal smoke and blackberry jam in Tomatin? You bet! It's actually a rather tobacco-like sherry we're having, with also some incense and sandalwood that would rather hint at Yamazaki or even Yoichi, if you see what I mean. Kumquats, traces of pencil shavings, raisins, more cigars, damp earth, mushrooms... This really works. I don't think water is needed. Mouth: excellently big and firm, rich, jammy, honeyed and spicy. Gingerbread and walnut cake, orange liqueur, candied ginger and lots of raisins. A little curry powder in the background, sweet mustard... Was it Japanese oak seasoned with oloroso? I'm joking... Anyway, I find this excellent. Finish: long, tense, spicy and jammy. Marmalade. Grapefruits in the aftertaste, which hints at more traditional Tomatins. Comments: hot stuff, quite thick and so a little un-Tomatin, yet very wonderful. SGP:652 - 88 points.

Tomatin 35 yo 1979/2013 (44.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 594 bottles)

Tomatin 35 yo 1979/2013 (44.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 594 bottles) Five stars Never seen a 1979 before. Colour: gold. Nose: we're now geared toward the tropical 1976s, but not quite. In fact there's something else beyond the passion fruit jam and the mango syrup, and beyond the cinnamon... What could that be? Roses, maybe? A box of rose-flavoured Turkish delights? There's also drops of pastis and a few very ripe kiwis, the whole being very fragrant and maybe more complex than other old fruit bombs by Tomatin. Very intriguing, I'm very curious about the palate... Mouth: keyword, balance. Bags of tropical and western fruits, but no cloying ueberfruitiness (bananas, mangos, strberries, melons) plus a rather splendid combination of wood spices with herbs, pretty hard to describe. Wormwood and caraway? Some fructose for sure. I'm afraid it's one of these old Tomatins that tend to go down too well... Finish: of medium length. Some kind of very elaborate chutney. Comments: they did it again. Very morish, as they say, thus quite dangerous. Very fair price. SGP:641 - 91 points.

The tropical 1976s, he said...

Tomatin 36 yo 1976/2012 (50.7%, Maltbarn, sherry butt)

Tomatin 36 yo 1976/2012 (50.7%, Maltbarn, sherry butt) Four stars and a half Colour: light amber. Nose: not quite a fruit bomb, since there's also quite some polished oak and fudgy tones that make it more, well, polished than straight fruit bombs. Now, many fruits there are, with mangos again, marmalade, then orange blossom water, then fresh croissants and a lovely grassiness that's not unlike what we had found in the 1988. Also a little menthol, I think. With water: more farmy notes, humus, wet grass... Mouth: the oak talks first, with notes of pinewood and something slightly metallic that I hadn't expected. Also a lot of walnuts, most fresh, which gives it a bittersweet side. Not a classic 1976. With water: careful with water. Reacts perfectly well to a few drops, but gets more metallic when drowned. Finish: quite long, with the sherry coming out more, together with some cinnamon. Comments: not the 'usual' 1976 Tomatin, but it's really a playful one. Quality's high anyway. SGP:641 - 89 points.

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

 

 

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Block Today: RAGGA (to warm us up). Performer: Céline Rudolph. Track: Ragga Heliotropical. Please visit her website and buy her music...
 
 

January 1, 2014


Whiskyfun

 

Three great Yoichi for the New Year

I thought we could have some Yoichi to celebrate the New Year, since I've been pretty lazy with my Japanese whiskies lately. First we'll have two bottlings for La Maison du Whisky - La Maison always had some great Yoichis - and then a SMWS...

Yoichi 1989/2012 (60%, OB for LMDW, recharged hogshead, cask #202393, 148 bottles)

Yoichi 1989/2012 (60%, OB for LMDW, recharged hogshead, cask #202393, 148 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: what's striking at first nosing is this very peculiar combination of cigarette tobacco (say Camels) with furniture polish and tinned peaches. And then, there's more vanilla and wood smoke as well as a little sandalwood and white pepper. All this is very compact and tight! With water: it's the wood that comes out, sawdust, vanillin, mashed potatoes... A few farmy/earthy aromas too, a little vetiver and mint, antiseptic, oranges... While the peat remains pretty discreet. Mouth (neat): powerful, a little bitter perhaps, with a lot of chlorophyll, chewed wood, greens, heavy tea and bitter oranges. All this is very powerful, so I believe water's more than needed. With water: everything got bigger, including the peat. Also seasoned pineapples, Tai style (I imagine). Red Tai sauce, strong tea, liquorice, spiced maple syrup, concentrated milk... It's really spectacular. Finish: very long, tighter again, rather on salted butter caramel. The peat's more discreet again. Comments: like most, it's almost integrally oak-driven, but the oak's of such high quality that the end result does not taste oaky as such. A tour de force. SGP:563 - 89 points.

Yoichi 1988/2013 (62%, OB for LMDW, new butt, cask #100215, 427 bottles)

Yoichi 1988/2013 (62%, OB for LMDW, new butt, cask #100215, 427 bottles) Four stars and a halfColour: reddish amber. Nose: this one's very intriguing, because it's meant to be fresh oak and yet one can find peonies, or raisins in this nose, which suggests some sherry's been involved. Hard to say... Having said that, it's a very tight one again, this time more on figs and toffee plus nutmeg, then more vanilla and coconut, bourbon-style. Also a growing feeling of spearmint drops. A full pack! With water: rye! And liquorice, violet sweets, star anise, pastis, leather, earth... Mouth (neat): wham! Tastes like strong bourbon to me, but I'm sure water will help. Not that there's anything wrong with bourbon, of course. With water: wood works. Sandal wood, cedar wood, cinnamon, then a few ashes (cigar ashes) and plain tobacco. You may add half a kumquat. Finish: very long, spicier and peatier, although it's no peat monster. Roots, pu-ehr tea, earth, ginger, butterscotch and salted caramel. Comments: same comments as above, and same score. This is very big and thick oak-driven whisky that's not oaky. SGP:553 - 89 points.

Yoichi 25 yo 1983/2009 (58.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Japanese oak, #116.15, 'Not peat for peat’s sake', 169 bottles)

Yoichi 25 yo 1983/2009 (58.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Japanese oak, #116.15, 'Not peat for peat’s sake', 169 bottles) Five stars Not peat for peat’s sake, Japan, sake... haha! Colour: full gold. Nose: another very strange one. Starts on fresh milk and rubber bands, with an odd and intriguing medicinal side that I've never encountered before. Not unlike a mixture of chalk and eucalyptus, if you will. There's also something like burning manure, exhaust fumes, lapsang souchong tea and then a large bag of overripe greengages. Pretty spectacular and very different. With water: the medicinal side got even louder. Beats old Laphroaig in that respect. Mouth (neat): it is strong, and it is as spectacular as on the nose. This time it's salmiak galore, this is incredibly thick (but I like it). And there's always this medicinal side, as well as something very Old-Ardgeggian. Very impressive. With water: someone has filled this cask with Ardbeg 1974. That wasn't very funny, please call the police (and the anti-maltoporn brigade while you're at it). Finish: endless and always extremely medicinal. Salty and smoky aftertaste. Extraordinary. Comments: my kind of medicine indeed. I wouldn't say this was a surprise, but... Ah well, it was a surprise. Happy new year! SGP:466 - 93 points.

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


December 2013 - part 2 <--- January 2014 - part 1 ---> January 2014 - part 2


 

 

Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Glenburgie 30 yo 1983/2013 (51.5%, Signatory for 30th Anniversary Waldhaus am See, cask #9822, 164 bottles)

Glenfarclas-Glenlivet 8 yo (40%, OB, Grant Bonding, Italy, late 1960's)

Glenglassaugh 40 yo 1972/2013 (43.1%, C&S Dram Collection, refill sherry butt, 300 bottles)

Laphroaig 6 yo 2006/2013 (57.8%, Single Cask Nation, refill hogshead, cask #119, 269 bottles)

Laphroaig 12 yo 2000/2013 (51.7%, The Perfect Dram, refill sherry)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2013 (52.7%, The Whisky Agency, refill hogshead, 261 bottles)

Littlemill 24 yo 1989/2013 (52.9%, The Whisky Agency with Acla da Fans, hogshead, 304 bottles)

Tomatin 35 yo 1979/2013 (44.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 594 bottles)

Yoichi 25 yo 1983/2009 (58.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Japanese oak, #116.15, 'Not peat for peat’s sake', 169 bottles)