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February 2017 - part 2 <--- March 2017 - part 1 ---> March 2017 - part 2

 

March 14, 2017


Whiskyfun

Caol Ila again

Indeed we’ve just had quite a lot of Caol Ila, but as we all very well know, plenty is no plague.

Caol Ila 10 yo 2004/2013 (46%, Spirit of Scotland for Van Wees, refill bourbon barrel, cask #306464)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2004/2013 (46%, Spirit of Scotland for Van Wees, refill bourbon barrel, cask #306464) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: full, simple, straightforward, and perfect. Like wandering around the distillery, whether they have a working kiln or not (of course they haven’t). Smoked malted barley, hessian, tarry ropes, and the usual oysters. Well, one oyster. Mouth: millimetric, lemony, smoky, totally well chiselled, ashy, brine-y, dry. Some would call this ‘essential’. Finish: long, smokier and ashier, with more pepper in the aftertaste. Almost no vanilla from the barrel. Comments: I often use the word ‘mezcally’, and this is ‘mezcally’, as well as a little Jamaican. Impeccable. SGP:356 - 88 points.

Caol Ila 10 yo 2004/2014 (46%, Spirit of Scotland for Van Wees, refill American hogshead, cask #306643)

Caol Ila 10 yo 2004/2014 (46%, Spirit of Scotland for Van Wees, refill American hogshead, cask #306643) Four stars Let’s see if we find any differences between a refill barrel and a refill hogshead, beyond the 50 extra-litres. Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed this is a little fatter, a little more mashy and buttery, and a little more vanilla-ed, while quite symmetrically, the smokiness and the coastalness get a little softer and rounder. Maybe that’s also the extra-year of ageing? Mouth: more or less the same comments. We’re going rather more towards the OBs, with rather more cask influence, and perhaps more citrus as well, but it’s still an extra-fine young Caol Ila. I also find it a little saltier and leafier. Finish: long, rather a little herbal this time. Green smoke, brine. Comments: another one that’s super-good, it’s just that I liked the purer style of the barrel even better. SGP:456 - 86 points.

A barrel he said…

Caol Ila 15 yo 2000/2016 (53%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 204 bottles)

Caol Ila 15 yo 2000/2016 (53%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 204 bottles) Four stars and a half This could be bad, this could be bad, this could be bad… Excuse me? Yes, trying to condition myself… Colour: white wine. Nose: completely different and certainly unusual. Passion fruits and copper coins, sorrel, ashes, basalt, Band-aid, hay, a little manure (guano)… All that makes it wilder and, I have to say, even more mezcaly than the excellent first 2004. With water: garden bonfire, moist garden peat, porridge. Mouth (neat): smoked pear and lemon drops, limoncello, and a growing peppery smoke. Much more unorthodox than the 2004s. With water: perfect balance between a peppery peat and all the lemons in their various forms. Finish: rather long and a little more herbal and bitterish. Comments: this could have been bad, this could have been bad, this could have been bad, this… SGP:556 - 88 points.

Caol Ila 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL11498, 316 bottles)

Caol Ila 20 yo 1996/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL11498, 316 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: completely different again, this one’s got tropical notes (papayas) and some kind of buttery medicinality (!) plus some very, and I mean very obvious notes of green tapenade (puréed olives). That is quite stunning. With water: more classic CI now, hessian, ashes… But the tapenade is still there. A Provençal Caol Ila, that is funny! Mouth (neat): extremely good, sharp, olive-y, salty, ashy, smoky, and only marginally lemony this time. Just a wee trace of American oak (vanilla). With water: smoked tea this time, with lemon, and a drop of yak milk. I suppose… Finish: long, greatly bitter and lemony, with a very ashy aftertaste. Makes you want to clear your throat. Comments: careful, do not add too much water, that can make it a little plankish. Otherwise, it’s a magnificent middle-aged Caol Ila. SGP:457 - 89 points.

Caol Ila 1990/2016 (49.2%, Sansibar and S Spirit Shop, bourbon, 210 bottles)

Caol Ila 1990/2016 (49.2%, Sansibar and S Spirit Shop, bourbon, 210 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: mind you, this is 25 or 26 years of age, and the whole got milder and softer, as expected. Some kind of smoky butter cream, orange sherbet, oh and one green olive again (I am not joking), faint whiffs of cow dung, and then rather smoked almonds. Tinned gherkins, perhaps. No complains so far. Mouth: yes, and yet another eighty-niner or thereabouts, I’m almost sure. Not very easy at first sips, because of some kind of burnt herbs, but the development is perfect, rather tenser than expected, with a mineral, Sancerre-y side that’s always a hit at WF Towers. A wee feeling of smoked butter, as often in older Caol Ilas (I think). Finish: long, with a little candy sugar this time, but it remains perfectly dry and sharp and clean. Some bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: this one’s actually not perfect, but that’s also what makes it worthy. And, well, un-boring. No, very very good. SGP:466 - 88 points.

This is really becoming a Caol Ila month… But let’s have an older one, and we’re done. Till next time.

Caol Ila 30 yo 1984/2014 (52.8%, The Ultimate, Rare Reserve, hogshead, cask #6261, 228 bottles)

Caol Ila 30 yo 1984/2014 (52.8%, The Ultimate, Rare Reserve, hogshead, cask #6261, 228 bottles) Five stars I don’t know what happened in 1984 (okay, Echo & the Bunnymen had a top ten single in the UK – thanks Wikipedia), but I’ve already tried many superb 1984 Caol Ilas. Colour: gold. Nose: this is more refined, more elegant, and certainly more tertiary than all the others, which goes to show how important age can be. There are essential oils, for example (pine, perhaps ambergris or something…), wet jacket, mushrooms, fern, pine needles, fresh hazelnuts, moss, camphor… Most of those aromas usually only come after proper ageing in my opinion. With water: medicinal. Yeah. Mouth (neat): oh yeah. A very tight, pine-y and lemony arrival, exactly not soft and mellow, while it would rather unfold on many bitter herbs and roots. I cannot wait to see what happens after water’s been added. With water: loves water but once again, not too much or it loses a bit of its cohesion and coherence. Finish: long, smoky, herbal. Comments: we caught a ninety. SGP:466 - 90 points.

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

 

 

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March 13, 2017


Whiskyfun

Grouped fire, a verticale of Glenrothes

There’s more indie Glenrothes around, while the distinguished owners don’t seem to have a lot of older cuvees these days. Well we’ll have one, but it’s extremely exclusive, to say the least…

Glenrothes 19 yo 1997/2016 (53.5%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, sherry butt, cask #7157)

Glenrothes 19 yo 1997/2016 (53.5%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, sherry butt, cask #7157) Four stars The good people at The Whisky Barrel always seem to dig heavy sherry. We do too, provided some kind of balance is maintained. Colour: coffee. Nose: you just cannot not think of some heavy Macallans, Oscuro, Gran Reserva and stuff. Starts extremely chocolaty, goes rather more towards coffee and raisins after a few seconds, and then we have some earthy/meaty marmalade. Balance? Yep. Sulphur? Nope. With water: lovely, earth, cigars, parsley, umami. Mouth (neat): punchy! Liqueur-filled chocolates, ginger beer, pepper, cinchona, morello cherries (rather guignolet liqueur), and a wee armagnacqy side. With water: it’s the peppery side that gets bigger, while it tends to lose fruitiness. Gets very dry and bitterish, but in a very nice way – should you like bitterish developments. Unsweetened Jägermeister. Finish: long, dry, bitter, very walnutty. Mustard and some salt in the aftertaste. Comments: very very oloroso. SGP:371 - 87 points.

Glenrothes 19 yo 1997/2016 (51.8%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt)

Glenrothes 19 yo 1997/2016 (51.8%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt) Four stars Ducks again, while other bottlers are having parrots, nightingales or oystercatchers. Isn’t it pleasing that so many bottlers are becoming dedicated bird rights activists? Colour: coffee. Nose: a drier, more austere, more coffee-ish style of dry sherry (because in this context, not sure the distillate has much to say). Perhaps better refined, elegant, I’m finding black cigars, polished wood, tamarind jam, maple syrup… With water: we’re getting extremely close to the Burns Malt. Earthy cigars. Mouth (neat): creamy, and much fruitier this time. Seville oranges, ripe bananas, barley water, sweet liquorice… Then more Corinth raisins. And prunes. All very good. With water: once again, we’re now very close to the Burns Malt. Coffee and armagnac, all in one. Pretty dry and, may I add, Glendronachy (nah, not the PX ones). Finish: ditto. Long and dry, with a bitterish side. Fernet-Branca? Comments: a sister cask, I wager. Top notch dry sherry. SGP:371 - 87 points.

Glenrothes 20 yo 1996/2016 (52.9%, Phil & Simon Thompson, Dornoch, cask #14)

Glenrothes 20 yo 1996/2016 (52.9%, Phil & Simon Thompson, Dornoch, cask #14) Four stars Colour: white wine. Ah, nature! Nose: it is, obviously, the opposite of the sherry monsters. Starts with a little glue and varnish, and perhaps even a little acetone, but things are soon to get back to normal, leaving room for some lovely notes of pear liqueur, watermelons, greengages and rhubarb. No, rhubarb cake. With water: an orchard in Dornoch around August the 15th. No, no midges. Mouth (neat): excellent vibrant and fresh (and very fruity) natural Speyside, quite eau-de-vie-ish at times, but also totally barleyish. In other words, barley eau-de-vie, with just touches of grapefruits and perhaps pineapples. The whiter ones. With water: swims extremely well, getting first even fruitier, then grassier (peelings). Finish: medium, a tad more kirschy. Hints of light rum at cask strength. Comments: impressive results after the sherry monsters. SGP:551 - 86 points.

Glenrothes 24 yo 1992/2016 ‘Dow’s Cask’ (57%, OB for The Grimaldi Collection, Monaco, 322 bottles)

Glenrothes 24 yo 1992/2016 ‘Dow’s Cask’ (57%, OB for The Grimaldi Collection, Monaco, 322 bottles) Four stars and a half This cask, finished in a Dow’s Port cask, was personally selected by H.S.H. Prince Albert de Monaco who, did you know this, is a dedicated whisky enthusiast and connoisseur. Some bottles have been sold for charity, I guess others are still ‘findable’ but that’s rather tough just now. Colour: gold with an apricoty tinge. Nose: the good news is that it is not Porty (but it may be sporty). Wee notes of sangria, but also blood oranges, shortbread, Mars bar, marzipan, praline and a kind of fudge-y bouillon. Marrow croquettes and Spanish ham. Candied cherries. All very nice I have to say, rather more ‘sherry’ than ‘Port’. With water: lovely herbs coming out, sage, oregano, mint, chives, parsley… Mouth (neat): the finishing’s just underlining the punchy malty and orangey distillate. Thin mints, raspberry ganache, butterscotch, notes of Szechuan pepper, a touch of fresh turmeric… With water: very good, rather on Seville oranges and soft peppers of various kinds. Finish: medium, a notch more herbal. Dark chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: well done Prince Albert! A great idea to select a Port cask that did not impart a lot of Port flavours. SGP:661 - 89 points.

Glenrothes 26 yo 1989/2016 (53.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #8172, 241 bottles)

Glenrothes 26 yo 1989/2016 (53.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #8172, 241 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: we’re going more towards the ‘Dornoch’ again, with more naturalness. In this case, more fresh nuts, almonds, stems and leaves, sunflower oil, and also quite some raw malt. With water: damp grist, oatcakes, bread… Hurray! This is well distilled cereals. Mouth (neat): totally orchardy, but it’s a western fruit salad into which one would have thrown a few bits of oranges. Other than that, apples, pears, grapes, cherries, gooseberries, plums… And once again, a lot of barley. With water: barley up! Finish: medium, grassy, malty, bready. Comments: I always liked when some friends would call this style ‘reflective’. So yeah, it’s reflective, I suppose. Great distillate-driven-ness. SGP:451 - 87 points.

I had thought I’d rather do short sessions for a while (not much time on my side these days) but I always fail. One cannot change his own nature…

Glenrothes 1986/2017 (61.4%, Gordon & MacPhail for The Whisky Show Old & Rare, cask # 20235)

Glenrothes 1986/2017 (61.4%, Gordon & MacPhail for The Whisky Show Old & Rare, cask # 20235) Five stars The Whisky Show Old & Rare in Glasgow has been a great, very friendly event, perfectly organised, with a huge deal of rare bottles to try, many of which I had never seen before. Yes I was there, and might fly back next year if Izzyonnuwood, god of whisky, lets me live. Colour: dark gold. Nose: yeah, go, shoot. Superb earthy, fruity, and oily nose with whiffs of camphor and Vicks’ best cuvees. I hate it that this was to be expected. With water: isn’t it funny that G&M’s malts are always the ones that get the ‘milkiest’ when watered down? A matter of filtering? Kieselguhr ? No, seriously, that’s a fact… Other than that, great nose. Mouth (neat): superb old-style arrival. Not talking about old-style whiskies, talking about old-style bottlers. In short, this is properly Intertrade-y or Samaroli-esque. Understand that if you can. Creamy camphory fruits and a peppery background. With water: perfect, with citrus and herbs. Leathery and grassy background, water woke tannins and spices up. Finish: long, rather dry and oak-spicy. Cinnamon and compadres, eucalyptus in the aftertaste. Comments: always loved eucalyptus in aftertastes, leaves your mouth as fresh as a baby’s. SGP:461 - 90 points.

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

 

 

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March 12, 2017


Whiskyfun

More French malternative-y rhums

Since we had some intriguing rhum from La Favorite last time, maybe could we try to taste other expressions of theirs. Agreed? Let me check how many we’ve got… Right, three, that’s already a session…

La Favorite 12 yo 2002/2014 ‘Réserve du Château’ (43%, OB, La Martinique, agricole)

La Favorite 12 yo 2002/2014 ‘Réserve du Château’ (43%, OB, La Martinique, agricole) Three starsSome small batch agricole that’s rather expensive. It seems, according to some trustworthy sources, that La Favorite are adding some special concoctions to some of their rums (fruits, honey, whatever), which makes them sweeter without having to add proper sugar (or sugar syrups). A bit like liqueurs de dosage in Champagne. Colour: gold. Nose: well it does not smell ‘sweetened’, and rather delicately cane-y, spicy, and tropical. Some bananas cooked in honey, a touch of liquorice (of which we had found plenty in their Coeur de Rhum) and a little milk chocolate. A Martiniquan that’s close to the best Cubans (aged Santiagos). Mouth: spicier and rather different indeed. Some sour fruits and plenty of spices. Sour pears, oranges, small pineapples, then cloves and caraway, cinnamon… It’s rather firm altogether, and pretty much to my liking. Finish: medium, spicy and liquoricy. Comments: some singular agricole, but I’m finding this cuvee less ‘idiosyncratic’ than  other Favorites. Still different from most other agricoles, though… SGP:651 - 82 points.

La Favorite 14 yo 2000/2014 ‘Réserve du Château’ (43%, OB, La Martinique, agricole)

La Favorite 14 yo 2000/2014 ‘Réserve du Château’ (43%, OB, La Martinique, agricole) Three stars and a half This is the older sister, launched around the same time if I’m not mistaken. Colour: dark gold. Nose: rather more oak in this one, unsurprisingly, and more coffee and cocoa. More cigars, cedar wood, polished wood, also damp earth, mushrooms, autumn leaves… I tend to enjoy this style, I have to say, we’re getting closer to some excellent heavily oloroso-ed, say old Glenlivet. Mouth: a sweetness kicking in, this could have been a little dier, but other than that, it’s complex, chocolaty, coffee-ish, and even, quite bizarrely, a little malty (Ovaltine/Ovomaltine). Also blood oranges, the usual liquorice, and quite some tea-ness (black Russian tea). Finish: quite long, perhaps a notch gritty/tannic (more black tea) but the cane-iness is still there. Cocoa powder in the aftertaste. Comments: the 2002 was brighter, this is ‘darker’ and more a classic. SGP:561 - 83 points.

La Favorite 1985/2015 ‘Cuvée de la Flibuste’ (40%, OB, La Martinique, agricole)

La Favorite 1985/2015 ‘Cuvée de la Flibuste’ (40%, OB, La Martinique, agricole) one star and a half This baby’s more or less thirty years old, which is huge given that it was aged in the tropics. Colour: office coffee. Nose: a ‘converging’ old rum, meaning that it’s going towards all other well aged spirits, including cognac, armagnac, and indeed ex-sherry malt whisky. Very soft globally, a notch jammy (quinces, bananas), and rather honeyed, with a molassy side. Prunes are also to be noticed, as well as big phat raisins. Chestnut honey. Mouth: badaboom, it’s very sugary and liqueury. Cloying arrival, light and thick at the same time, feeling very ‘doctored’. Coffee liqueur, molasses, maize syrup, Cointreau… Well it’s certainly very well made, but it’s not quite for me. I shan’t call this ‘Zacapa-ish’, but you get the idea. A shame. Finish: medium, too sugary and syrupy. Whenever I need banana or pineapple liqueur, I know where I can find some. The aftertaste is a little better though, thanks to some oak. Comments: really, feels doctored. Why would you do that to some thirty years old agricole rum? Tradition, perhaps... SGP:740 - 68 points.

Quick, some French medicine…

Karukera 2009/2016 ‘Select Casks’ (45%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole)

Karukera 2009/2016 ‘Select Casks’ (45%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole) Four stars and a half From fourteen ex-Cognac casks, bottled at cask strength - really. I’ve already heard good things. One of the first genuine Karukeras (long story short, previous ones were sourced from immediate neighbours Longueteau). Colour: full gold. Nose: peaches, vanilla, golden raisins, quinces, overripe apples, apricots… Indeed this could be artisan cognac. Very lightly cane-y, and perhaps a notch ‘international’, but other than that, I find it perfect. Drops of yellow Chartreuse, perhaps. Mouth: excellent, starting a tad bourbony (varnish, vanilla, gooseberries), getting then much more cane-y than on the nose, and developing on tart tropical fruits, with an impeccable brightness. Tangerines, pomelos, Timut pepper, and simply more peaches. Rather ‘meta’, and certainly excellently made. Finish: rather long, going more towards… malt whisky this time. Think a blend of Rosebank and Bruichladdich. Comments: perhaps not the most ‘rooted’ French agricole, but the execution was perfect. Totally the opposite of that Flibuste 1985, which was my aim anyway. SGP:551 - 88 points.

Karukera 2008/2016 ‘L’Expression’ (48.1%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole)

Karukera 2008/2016 ‘L’Expression’ (48.1%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole) Four stars Apparently, this is totally ex-blue cane. And, un-chillfiltered, at natural strength, un-caramelised of course… Where have we seen that already? Colour: amber. Nose: it’s a little fatter than the 2009, jammier, more floral, more ‘classic’… Now the cane is more obvious, liquorice, rounded oak spices, liquorice (twice, S.?), a little wild raspberry eau-de-vie, pineapples, bananas… It’s totally lovely, just a little more, say ‘girly’? (I’ll get shot one day). Mouth: I hate it and I love it. I hate it because it’s much sweeter and jammier than  the 2009, almost syrupy and, please don’t shoot, ‘Don-Papa-ish’, which is the ultimate insult. On the other hand, what’s inside this sweetness is pretty brilliant, with many delicate spices and tropical fruits, and quite few oak oils. Tannins coming out after a few minutes. More black tea! Finish: long, with a lot of strong and dry chestnut honey. Liquorice in the much drier aftertaste, a bit La-Favorite-style. Comments: look, I’m sure rum lovers will like this one better, but as I’m a whisky guy, and since I like to just argue the opposite of whatever others say, I’m rather in favour of the 2009. There!  SGP:661 - 85 points.

(With thanks to Cyril and the Rumaniacs)

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

 

 

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March 9, 2017


Whiskyfun

A few Glen Garioch, part two

Let’s go on with Glen Garioch, since we’ve also got older ones to try. While keeping in our hearts Silvano Samaroli and his utterly stunning and totally legendary 1971!

Glen Garioch 23 yo 1991/2014 (51.7%, Sansibar, 288 bottles)

Glen Garioch 23 yo 1991/2014 (51.7%, Sansibar, 288 bottles) Four stars and a half If this one’s anywhere near the splendid 1992 we tried yesterday… Colour: gold. Nose: starts with a buttery oak and a cup of gunpowder tea, and goes on with broken branches, orange peelings, and liquorice wood. Plus some kind of slightly tarry sand. Some cracked pepper. With water: linseed oil. Mouth (neat): smoky and orange-y, once again in the region of Springbank, with a wee tarry/rubbery side that’s a clear asset in this context. Some vanilla and orange marmalade, but that would be Seville oranges. With water: very good, green tea blended with smoked tea, with a little coffee and orange liqueur poured in. Finish: medium, rather ‘naturally’ rubbery and plasticine-y. Smoky aftertaste. Comments: another lovely characterful Glen Garioch by Sansibar. SGP:453 - 88 points.

Glengarioch 26 yo 1990/2016 (44.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 186 bottles)

Glengarioch 26 yo 1990/2016 (44.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 186 bottles) Three stars and a half A perfect drinking strength! Colour: white wine. Nose: this one’s extremely different again. No more smoke or ashes, rather some green fruits, rhubarb, kiwis, cider apples, plus a metallic touch (old copper coins) and more and more gooseberries. Wulong tea, hashish. At times it makes me think of Bladnoch. Mouth: very unusual, sour (not in a bad way), with notes of Weissenbier, green bananas, very ripe kiwis, perhaps Turkish delights, a wee taste of iron… Certainly not a ‘standard’ cask. Finish: a little short, but with unexpected tinned pineapples. Comments: it’s got many charms, it’s just a little whacky, perhaps. Yesterday’s 1991 any time! SGP:551 - 84 points.

Glen Garioch 25 yo 1990/2016 ‘La Norma’ (52.1%, Silver Seal, 243 bottles)

Glen Garioch 25 yo 1990/2016 ‘La Norma’ (52.1%, Silver Seal, 243 bottles) Four stars and a half Right, it’s not because this baby is called ‘La Norma’ that you’re entitled to make a Bellini out of it, or to add it to some Champagne (lame lame lame, S.) Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one’s rounder again, much more classic, brioche-y, vanilled, delicately mentholated, and it would rather develop on quinces, tangerines, English cigarette tobacco, and yellow peaches. Not one hint of smoke or ashes, this one’s ultra-bright and clean. With water: ah? Beeswax and teak oil… Clear saponification when water is added. Mouth (neat): wait! The palate has nothing to do with the nose, this has much more oomph, minerals, soot, gritty herbs and rough teas, tree bark, cinnamon… And yet the fruits are still there, especially ripe peaches. A discreet Ardmore-y side, perhaps. With water: fresh almonds! That saponification again. In theory, we should now wait for a good thirty minutes. Yeah well… Finish: medium, almondy, fruity, with some oils. Lemons in the aftertaste, which always works. Comments: Several whiskies in one. Very high quality nonetheless. SGP:461 - 88 points.

So, dear Silvano Samaroli…

Glen Garioch 1975/1987 ‘Coilltean’ (57%, Duthie for Samaroli, 648 bottles)

Glen Garioch 1975/1987 ‘Coilltean’ (57%, Duthie for Samaroli, 648 bottles) Five stars Bwah bwah bwah, not the first time we’re trying this beauty, but it’s from another bottle and, yeah, it’s Samaroli. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s from the peaty years, and it’s as straight, austere, and millimetric as whisky can be. Astounding high-precision combination of coal ashes, beach sand, iodine, bandages, grapefruits, and horseradish. Grand Cru style. With water: absolutely immaculate. We’ll never see whiskies this great again, I’m afraid. Mouth (neat): totally huge, fat, terribly Brora-ish (after all, that’s the East Coast as well), mustardy, peppery, very smoky, and stunningly citrusy. We’re rather talking old citrus liqueurs, the ones that hip mixologists are gathering these days like if there was no tomorrow. Amazing whisky that was probably totally out of fashion when Sig. Samaroli was proudly trying to sell it to the incompetent masses. With water: oh, all these tiny herbs and oils! Sage, tarragon… Well, the list would be too long. Finish: very long, salty, coastal, still rather fat, herbal… Simply magnificent. Comments: simply a blade. First gun whisky, up there in the pantheon of malts, just like its bottler. Pace, dear Silvano! SGP:466 - 95 points.

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

 

 

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March 8, 2017


Whiskyfun

A few Glen Garioch

It’s been a while since we last did a proper Glen Garioch session! In other words, let’s try to catch up the delay, starting with a regular young OB…

Glen Garioch 12 yo (48%, OB, +/-2016)

Glen Garioch 12 yo (48%, OB, +/-2016) Four stars The 12 is back on WF, after almost seven years! And it’s got more power too, at 48% vol., an unusual bottling strength for a ‘core of standard range’ bottling. What’s more, from the official website, we’ll learn that this is ‘the perfect accompaniment to Parmigiano-Reggiano’. Would you mind if we discarded the cheese? Colour: gold. Nose: muesli, flowers and porridge abound in this nose, as well as hints of IPA beer and acacia honey, zucchini flower, sweet malt… I find it gently yeasty, in a very nice way, but we’re far from the heavier peaty ones from times gone by. Mouth: sweet and creamy arrival, but the whole’s soon to become lemony, pretty mineral, and pleasantly sour. Always these notes of IPA. Some lemon, some grass, some green tea, some not-too-ripe pears… It’s pretty firm and tense, actually, which is very nice. I think it’s got the body of the older ones, just not the smoke. Finish: rather long, rather ‘green’. Peeling, white pepper and grasses, as well as some custard. Comments: a style that’s a little austere, but at times you’d think it’s going a bit towards Springbank or Benromach. On the right track! SGP:462 - 86 points.

Glen Garioch 1998/2016 (57.5%, Càrn Mor, Celebration of the Cask, sherry hogshead, cask #3728, 220 bottles)

Glen Garioch 1998/2016 (57.5%, Càrn Mor, Celebration of the Cask, sherry hogshead, cask #3728, 220 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: more coffee and malt in this one, and I guess that’s the sherry’s work. Walnut wine, chocolate, chicory, pecan pie, roasted peanuts… All things that are liked at WF Towers. The whole’s surprisingly smooth and rounded, having said that. With water: gets rather floral, with honeysuckle and orange blossom. A bit of earthy tobacco in the background, as well as some pear liqueur. From Alsace, naturally. Mouth (neat): starts rich, and rather peppery and gingery beyond all the marmalade that’s entering your mouth. Bitter oranges everywhere, and a touch of icing sugar. With water: more oranges than in natural Dalmore! Was it in a Cointreau cask before being re-racked into sherry? (hey, I’m joking). Finish: medium, on the same notes. Quite fresh given this baby’s pedigree. Comments: very different, but rather in the same league as that of the official 12. Me likes. SGP:551 - 86 points.

Glen Garioch 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11471, 290 bottles)

Glen Garioch 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11471, 290 bottles) Four stars This one came out in November last year. Let’s expect something very ‘naked’ according to the colour. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a steel cask? Glass? Stone? Plexiglas? It’s not often that you’re getting this much youth (pears and stuff) from a twenty-one years old malt whisky. But the fact is that it’s pretty brilliant distillate, chalky, bready, mashy… And there are super-cool whiffs of rubbed mint leaves as well as some kind of light smoke. The neighbour burning dead leaves and cut grass. With water: same, with a little more barley water. Mouth (neat): very vibrant, very fresh, and perfectly fruity. All fruits from a western orchard, really, plus a drop of all-flower honey and another one of grass and lemon juice. Plus this chalk. With water: another very fine barley eau-de-vie, perfectly matured, and not oaked. Finish: medium, very fresh, maltier now. Oatcakes. Comments: I’m sorry but I think I’ll go for the same score. No copying-and-pasting that went wrong. SGP:551 - 86 points.

Glen Garioch 22 yo 1992/2014 (49.3%, Sansibar, 136 bottles)

Glen Garioch 22 yo 1992/2014 (49.3%, Sansibar, 136 bottles) Four stars and a half Classic vintage, many indies were having these, and many were excellent. Colour: straw. Nose: more smoke in these vintages, coal, scoria, soot… And Seville oranges, camphor, leather polish… So a fatter, more phenolic spirit, much closer to Springbank, in a way. Not the baddest of news! Mouth: really, Springbank from the same vintages, with some old rusty metal parts, some clay, some peppery peat, some cigar ashes, and a very peculiar rubbery/tarry side that. Almost forgot to mention some very acidic grapefruits. Finish: long, sharp, leafy, ashy, smoky, sooty, earthy… Comments: in way, Glen Garioch used to be like Brora, you had very peaty batches and you had gentler one. This one sure stems from the former category. SGP:453 - 89 points.

Glengarioch 23 yo 1991/2015 (54.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 444 bottles)

Glengarioch 23 yo 1991/2015 (54.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, bourbon hogshead, 444 bottles) Four stars That is right, Cadenhead are using the ‘Glengarioch’ moniker, no typo here. Colour: straw. Nose: a gentler batch again, much less smoky – although I do find a little coal smoke – and much grassier and mineral. Zests, seaweed, salted butter… all we need now is a large plate of oysters. With water: plain malted barley and a little wax polish. Mouth (neat): a funny feeling of lemon drops and limoncello at first, then a lot of lemongrass and a little icing sugar. Haribo’s most lemony, err, stuff. With water: some plasticine coming out, some spirits do always react like that. Other than that, same lovely lemony profile. Finish: medium, very zesty. Lemon Schweppes. Comments: what did you expect? (oh come on!) Very good, bright and zesty. SGP:551 - 87 points.

Good, we may try more Glen Garioch soon. Perhaps even tomorrow…

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March 7, 2017


Whiskyfun

Four high-strength Amrut for Taiwan

How crazy is that? Next, seven Fijian whiskies for Argentina! Seriously, it’s perhaps not well known that Amrut is yet another very successful malt with ‘Dr Swan Inside’. These four Amruts were sent to me as ‘Taiwan Exclusives’.

Amrut 2009/2016 ‘Virgin Oak’ (60%, OB for Hot Malt Taiwan, cask #958, 102 bottles, +/-2016)

Amrut 2009/2016 ‘Virgin Oak’ (60%, OB for Hot Malt Taiwan, cask #958, 102 bottles, +/-2016) Five stars This is from peated barley, fasten your seat belts. Colour: amber. Nose: you would have thought the peat plus the new oak (virgin sounds better doesn’t it) would have offset Amrut’s creamy/fruity character, but not at all. In truth, this combination of mentholy saps and tropical fruit jams is just amazing. A wee bourbony side as well, but that would rather be an old Willett or something. With water: yess. Umami, old pu-her, soy sauce, beef stock, marrow, very old Chambertin… Mouth (neat): ueber-rich, and yet well-chiselled, with a feeling of old-style herbal liqueur and sweet pepper, Szechuan-style. Some kind of fruity coffee as well, but that may be the virgin oak. Old bourbon. What I do not get much is the peat. With water: where is the peat? And who cares? As usual, water brings out the oak, so careful, do not go below, well, say 50% vol. or it will become tea-ish/plankish. Finish: very long, youthful and yet complex, with all these tiny lemony herbs and spices. A touch of coconut in the retro-olfaction. Comments: I just cannot not think of those stunning Japanese malts that we used to get ten or fifteen years ago. And of the one that used to start with a K. This starts just as well. SGP:562 - 90 points.

Amrut ‘Port Pipe’ (59%, OB, cask #2713, 346 bottles, 2013)

Amrut ‘Port Pipe’ (59%, OB, cask #2713, 346 bottles, 2013) Two stars and a half Not too sure this is a Taiwan exclusive, some European retailers are claiming that it was bottled for Europe, as does the label. Who knows, what’s sure is that it’s ex-Indian barley smoked with Scottish peat and matured in Portuguese wood (kind of). What a small planet. Colour: dark apricot. Nose: it’s great that the peat was light, I’ve always thought peat and Port were working together as well as Donald Rumsfeld with Bob Dylan. This has pot-pourri, propolis, peonies, millionaire shortbread, old Banyuls, lilac, chocolate, butterscotch, liquorice… What a whirlwind! With water: some very nice earthy touches. Mouth (neat): okay, I’ll say it, this is a little too much for me. Hyper-concentrated and rather too hot, with some dissonant spices. For example, I find there’s a little too much green pepper. With water: better but now there’s something spritzig and metallic that’s coming out. Bitter herbs, Fanta… Finish: long and very spicy. Peppered raspberries. I know, I know. Comments: some extreme and insane whisky that goes into many directions. I know some love it, though. SGP:662 - 78 points.

Amrut ‘Intermediate Sherry’ (57.1%, OB, +/-2016)

Amrut ‘Intermediate Sherry’ (57.1%, OB, +/-2016) Five stars Not too sure this is a Taiwan exclusive either, friends, but when I first tried an earlier version, I just loved it. As far as casks go, it’s sandwiched, in a way. Bourbon, sherry, bourbon. Colour: deep amber. Nose: ah yes, I remember. Perfect chocolate, the best Mars bar ever, maraschino, prunes-and-marzipan, ham cooked in orange juice (works great), late-harvest gewürztraminer… I know all that sounds weird, but it’s not. Fantastic nose. Fan-tas-tic, believe me (Donald J., come out of this body!) With water: perfect. Sappy oranges and flowered fudge. Exceptional nose, really. Mouth (neat): tart blood oranges, chartreuse, a touch of rubber, cinnamon mints, marmalade, figs, cloves, mulled wine… In truth some flavours should clash, but they don’t. A matter of balance… Citrus. With water: here come the earthy tones, the drier spices, the cloves, the bitter chocolate… In short, the sherry. Finish: long and dry, which is always perfect. Sweet and cloying finishes are ‘no-goes’ in the house. Ginger, liquorice, unsweetened herbal teas… Comments: this should benefit from twenty further years of bottle ageing and become a star of whiskydom. SGP:662 - 91 points.

Amrut 2011/2016 ‘Pedro Ximenez Sherry Cask’ (56.5%, OB for Hot Malt Taiwan, cask #4122, 624 bottles)

Amrut 2011/2016 ‘Pedro Ximenez Sherry Cask’ (56.5%, OB for Hot Malt Taiwan, cask #4122, 624 bottles) Three stars This one’s unpeated, the rest is self-explanatory. Now careful with anything Pedro-ised … (says this humble taster)… Colour: deep amber. Nose: quadruple hurray, there’s no stuffy raisiny smells that I can get, rather a wonderful chocolaty and coffee-ish arrival that tends to split into various cake-y touches. Including banana cake. Love banana cake, don’t you? With water: I think Lindt have got some milk chocolate that’s filled with marmalade and ginger. That’s more or less it. Mouth (neat): spicy oranges and chocolaty herbs, I’d say. Some greenish spices and peppers tend to keep it a little harsh, it may need a little more time to polish itself. Other than that, nothing to complain about. With water: the oak spices feel a bit (nutmeg and cinnamon, as often) and there’s a slightly gritty leathery tea-ishness (tannins like) but all the rest is fine. Finish: long and spicy. Not unlike your fifth glass of mulled wine. Comments: I’ve always thought PX was difficult to handle (see Glendronach or Kilchoman) but in this case I think it’s worked rather well. Rather. SGP:571 - 80 points.

(Thank you a bunch, Cooper!)

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March 6, 2017


Whiskyfun

Caol Ila, young ones, part three

And last. Continued from last week...

Caol Ila 6 yo 2009/2016 ‘Erin’s Drop’ (59.9%, Bar du Nord, 305 bottles)

Caol Ila 6 yo 2009/2016 ‘Erin’s Drop’ (59.9%, Bar du Nord, 305 bottles) Three stars A bottling for that famous whisky bar in Switzerland. Colour: straw. Nose: first a little fresh butter, then bags of smoked lemons and grapefruits. It’s clean but narrow, but that may come from the very high strength, let’s see… With water: damp fabric and earth, plus smoky pears. Mouth (neat): ultra-young, very ashy, and frankly mezcaly. Tart lemons and a smoky earthiness. A little too strong though, it’s hard to enjoy it ‘like that’. With water: tropical fruits come out. Perhaps blood oranges? Finish: medium, fruity, slight sour. Sour apples, soot and ashes. Comments: young and good. Hard to say much more. SGP:545 - 82 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2006/2015 (51.2%, Eiling Lim, 109 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2006/2015 (51.2%, Eiling Lim, 109 bottles) Four stars From Switzerland straight to Malaysia (through Belgium)! Colour: white wine. Nose: this is a fruity one, but that’s not only pears and pineapples like in many very young malts. There are passion fruits, for example, and of course lemons, then some classic brine-y/smoky olives. Always a treat when those do make an appearance. With water: more classic sooty CI. Mouth (neat): crystal clear lemony smoke, then rather citrons and oranges. This one’s very well chiselled, while it’s rather less ‘seawatery’ on the palate than others. With water: towards apple and lemon juices, blended. Milder smokiness. Finish: medium, clean, fruity. Some green tea in the back. Comments: very good, but careful with water. SGP:554 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 13 yo 2003/2016 (58.9%, Adelphi, cask #301264, 280 bottles)

Caol Ila 13 yo 2003/2016 (58.9%, Adelphi, cask #301264, 280 bottles) Four stars and a half Adelphi are well known for working hand in hand with the eyewear industry. Well that’s what anyone will understand from their whisky labels… Colour: white wine. Nose: its incredible what a few extra-years can do to a whisky. Indeed, again, this is much more complex, with many more flowers and herbs, resins, mint, liquorice, camphor, thuja wood, grapefruits, garden bonfire, coal smoke… With water: ah yes, smoked marzipan, orange zests, tiger balm… Mouth (neat): wonderful, tart, perhaps a little pungent, all on lemony things and pure grass and peat smokes. Grapefruits, lime, rhubarb… Really wonderful. With water: perfect ashy orangey smoke and smoked almonds. A cup of lapsang souchong to boot. Finish: rather long, sooty, almondy, citrusy. Wonderful freshness. Comments: excellent young/middle-aged Caol Ila, already complex. SGP:556 - 88 points.

Caol Ila 13 yo 2003/2016 (55.5%, Maltbarn, sherry, 175 bottles)

Caol Ila 13 yo 2003/2016 (55.5%, Maltbarn, sherry, 175 bottles) Four stars and a half Always a great show by the tiny Maltbarn that always seem to favour quality over quantity. Wonderful labels too. Colour: straw. Nose: we’re so close to the Adelphi, so close… Possibly a sister cask. Well this one’s actually a little more medicinal, perhaps… With water: smoky pinesap and plasticine. Mouth (neat): ditto and repeat. Great orangey smokiness and creaminess on the palate. With water: soot and ashes are kicking back. And that lapsang souchong… Finish: perhaps a tad more coastal and briny at the same time. I mean, than the Adelphi. Comments: totally equivalent. Excellent. SGP:556 - 88 points.

Probably time to switch to another distillery, but first, a last one…

Caol Ila 14 yo 2002/2016 (50.7%, Valinch & Mallet, sherry hogshead, cask #16-242, 322 bottles)

Caol Ila 14 yo 2002/2016 (50.7%, Valinch & Mallet, sherry hogshead, cask #16-242, 322 bottles) Four stars and a half The darker of them all, and perhaps the most mature, let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: niiice! It’s got more sour fruits, ale, cider, sooty seawater, and also walnuts, fino-style, as well as a wee medicinal side. Iodine and bandages. Right up my alley, so far. With water:  broken branches and almond peelings, seaweed, and a spoonful of miso soup. Nah, you may drop the tofu. Mouth (neat): quite big and very excellent. More oak impact, obviously, but this mustardy and coastal arrival is just perfect. Where are the oysters, Nestor? Some further-fortified Manzanilla of some sort? With water: wonderful, it never got sweetish. Lemon zests, smoked almonds, oysters (thank you Nestor)… And just wee traces of tiny oak shavings. Finish: rather long, walnutty and mustardy, with Seville oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: super good, we’re bordering total perfection (I know, a pleonasm but we’ve done much worse, haven’t we.) SGP:366 - 89 points.

More Caol Ila soon on WF, mind you, we’ll soon have tasted five hundreds of them. A bit mad, I think.

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

 

 

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March 5, 2017


Whiskyfun

Malternatives, La Martinique at random

We had some very good French rhums last Sunday and the Sunday before, as well as, agreed, a few duds. Shall do more exploration? What do you think? Okay, okay… And let’s do this ‘au hasard’…

Trois Rivières ‘Cuvée de la Princesse’ (43%, OB, La Martinique, +/-2016)

Trois Rivières ‘Cuvée de la Princesse’ (43%, OB, La Martinique, +/-2016) Two stars Ahem, maybe not the ideal start, as this baby’s a very expensive super-premium cuvee. But how would we know, since there’s no proper age and no vintage? Colour: deep gold. Nose: yeah well, it’s a great, ueber-classic nose. Touches of nail polish, then bananas, pineapples, orange blossom, mangos, ylang-ylang, rosewater, litchis, papayas, liquorice… All this is fragrant and complex. And, ach, sexy. Mouth: I’m not too fond of the arrival, which is rather too oaky/varnishy for me. Ginger and cinnamon, bitter tea… It’s as if some super-old rum that went way over the hill was added to the vatting. Frankly, I’m not convinced, I’ve tried many more vibrant Trois Rivières. Finish: long, drying, oaky. Comments: rather stunning nose, but a palate that’s too oaky for me. Not that we have never seen that happening in whisky, mind you, but poor princess! SGP:471 - 72 points.

HSE ‘Grande Réserve XO’ (43%, OB, La Martinique, agricole, +/-2016)

HSE ‘Grande Réserve XO’ (43%, OB, La Martinique, agricole, +/-2016) Two stars and a half Said to be a vatting of six to eight years old rum, to which a little 1960 has been added. My year, imagine. In any case, this is called an ‘extra-vieux’. Talking ‘bout the rum, eh. Colour: deep gold. Nose: caramel, honey, tropical liqueurs, tropical jams, and a little plasticine. Plasticine always works in this context. And one can really feel the 1960, very vividly. Of course I’m joking. Nice whiffs of broken branches and moss. Mouth: quite a lot of coconut, which a little frightening, but things settle down, with more vanilla, herbal teas, and light molasses. Very good and very fair… But all this coconut? Too much young US oak? Finish: medium, with an added saltiness, which brings us back to agricoleness. Comments: it’s a very different kind of oakiness, this time much ‘newer’, but I’m not totally convinced either. Feels a little engineered. SGP:561 - 77 points.

Uh-oh, what’s happening?

La Mauny ‘Héritage 1749’ (40%, OB, La Martinique, agricole, +/-2016)

La Mauny ‘Héritage 1749’ (40%, OB, La Martinique, agricole, +/-2016) Two stars We’re at the other end of the spectrum, this is a simple ‘ambré’, so some cheap and very young rhum agricole. Oh and as with any contemporary booze, whenever I hear the word ‘heritage’, I’m taking out my gun. Oh and even worse, it’s a Port finish. Courage, serge, courage… Colour: gold. Nose: hello? Crushed overripe fruits (plums), old rusty tin box, caramel… In truth it’s not that bad, it’s just no nosing rum. IMHO, as we used to say when the Web was free. Mouth: wait, this ain’t bad. Earthy and slightly brine-y, with some nice cane-iness and a tiny-wee bit of garage-y funk. Perhaps a little quince jelly, which can’t be bad. Finish: medium, a little indefinite. Mentholy earth and cane juice. Comments: some good - and cheaper – whites should be more pleasing, but this is fair and loyal. SGP:561 - 75 points.

Héritiers Madkaud ‘VSOP Cuvée Castelmore’ (40%, OB, La Martinique, agricole, +/-2016)

Héritiers Madkaud ‘VSOP Cuvée Castelmore’ (40%, OB, La Martinique, agricole, +/-2016) Two stars and a half A very old brand that recently resurfaced, and that’s most probably some Saint-James juice behind another label. Perhaps some Bally? Their 3 yo was a hit at WF Towers, so you never know… Colour: gold. Nose: easy, discreet, rather un-Bally if you ask me. Some chocolate, acacia honey, cane syrup… Nah it’s very light rum, unless I’m tired (who’s tired? Not me!) Some nice earthy touches, though… Mouth: ah, this is pretty nice. Some earthy and rooty notes, and indeed it hints at Bally’s young ones, plus notes of liquorice and orangey ginger. Lacks oomph for sure, but the core is there. Finish: medium, earthy, rooty. This, I like. Comments: not some rhum to nose, but I do enjoy the wild minerality on the palate. Could we have some at 60% vol.? SGP:462 - 79 points.

Still no 80+, this is becoming embarrassing. Some indies may be of some help…

Dillon 13 yo 2002/2015 (44%, Compagnie des Indes, La Martinique, agricole, cask #MA56, 298 bottles)

Dillon 13 yo 2002/2015 (44%, Compagnie des Indes, La Martinique, agricole, cask #MA56, 298 bottles) Three stars First aged on location for a few years, this cask was then exported to Europe and benefited from some additional rest in Dickensian climates. But Dillon? What is Dillon? Well, in France it’s rather a supermarket brand that belongs to La Martiniquaise (think Glen Moray). Nothing to do, I believe, with Haut-Brion’s Clarence Dillon. Colour: white wine. Nose: nature! Some fresh, clean, slightly shy distillate, rather grassy than fruity, with hints of natural rubber and, there, plasticine. Behind all that, some coastal whiffs, seaweed, samphires… But all that remains very shy. Let us see… Mouth: well well well, this is very nice. Very well done Compagnie! It’s not a sexy rhum at all, and it’s even kind of uninteresting, but it’s totally close to the distillate, with some sugar cane and some bananas, with a light plasticine-y layer. Very nice notes of white fruits and shy herbs, hay, even straw… You do feel the canes. Finish: medium, grassy, cane-y, slightly austere. Totally natural indeed. Comments: not a star at all, and frankly, you don’t need this in your bar, but should you want to taste this style totally natural agricole without any ‘fiddling’, this is for you. For the sake of research. SGP:351 - 81 points.

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

 

 

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March 2, 2017


Whiskyfun

Caol Ila, young ones, part two

Yes we’re back. Let’s only hope these other youngsters won’t be too kerosene-y…

Caol Ila 2004/2016 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice)

Caol Ila 2004/2016 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice) Three stars and a half These ones are usually ex-refill bourbon barrels, but I haven’t got this one’s back label. Let’s assume it is. Colour: white wine. Nose: well in their style and genre. Some smoky buttered dry apple juice and growing hints of fresh mint, dill, and lemongrass. Some liquorice wood too, maybe more than in earlier bottlings. Very nice nose. Mouth: it is the softer side of Caol Ila, to the point where I’m wondering if it’s not a blend of ‘Highland’ Caol Ila and ‘Islay’ Caol Ila. So unpeated and peated. It’s also very citrusy (pink grapefruits) and tends to become appropriately salty. Finish: medium length, and it’s rather fruity and sweet. That’s smoked sweets, in fact. Comments: always very good, easy yet not too easy… SGP:545 - 84 points.

Caol Ila 7 yo 2009/2016 (46%, Càrn Mor, Exclusive  to The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, 850 bottles)

Caol Ila 7 yo 2009/2016 (46%, Càrn Mor, Exclusive  to The Whisky Exchange, hogshead, 850 bottles) Three stars and a half A vatting of two very young casks, this is almost bottled barley, yeast, and water. But if the distillate’s pristine, that could work, let’s see… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: smoked Red Bull and plasticine with a little citron and cranberry thrown in. A little teak oil too. Mouth: good. Lemon zests and sweets, a drop of seawater, some sweet barley, some pear liqueur, and a feeling of charcoal. Elementary just like several others, but balance sits there and there are no off-notes. Finish: medium, rather lemony/fizzy. A wee feeling of Spritz. Comments: after all, we must make way for young whiskies. SGP:545 - 84 points.

Young, he said…

Caol Ila 5 yo 2010/2016 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask #11321, 476 bottles)

Caol Ila 5 yo 2010/2016 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask #11321, 476 bottles) Three stars and a halfI’m sure we’ll soon see bottled new make again (B.P.S.) Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: well in the style of the Carn Mor, only with rather more plasticine, tung oil, and perhaps more mashed vegetables. Perhaps not totally some whisky to nose? Mouth: lemon and lime playing first fiddles, and plasticine on the double bass. Sweets and jellies, marshmallows, chewing-gums… It really feels very young, but since the spirit is clean and fresh, all this works, even if it is rather eau-de-vie-ish. Finish: medium, fruity. More lemon sweets. A little chlorine in the aftertaste? Comments: bizarrely, I do not get a lot of smokiness from this fine youngster. SGP:534 - 83 points.

Caol Ila 2006/2016 (52.2%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead, cask #303049, 310 bottles)

Caol Ila 2006/2016 (52.2%, Whisky-Doris, bourbon hogshead, cask #303049, 310 bottles) Four stars More years, and perhaps a higher complexity. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: indeed, more signs of maturity. Linseed oils and several other oils, kiln, yellow peaches, damp earth, clay, liquorice and gentian roots… This is all we like at WF Towers! With water: your old tweed jacket after a long walk in Islay’s rain. Right, a walk on Islay. Mouth (neat): excellent, crystalline, slightly Fanta-ish, faintly peppery, smoky, brine-y, and even a wee tad mustardy. With water: perfect. Tangerines and mangos coming out! Finish: medium, sitting exactly where fruits, seawater, and peat smoke meet. Comments: it seems that generally speaking Ten is a minimum. No ten, no deal. SGP:546 - 87 points.

There may be more tomorrow…

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

 

Looks like I forgot to publish these...

Whiskyfun fav of the month

February 2017

Favourite recent bottling:
Bunnahabhain 42 yo 1973/2016 (47.9%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butt, cask #12145, 427 bottles)  - WF 91

Favourite older bottling:
Speyside Region 41 yo 1969/2010 (54.3%, The Whisky Agency, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 195 bottles) - WF 92

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Springbank 10 yo (46%, OB, 2016) - WF 92

Favourite malternative:
Appleton Reserve 20 yo (43%, OB, Jamaica, ceramic jug, +/-1975) - WF 93
Whiskyfun fav of the month

January 2017

Favourite recent bottling:
Glenfarclas 1979/2016 (46.9%, OB, for Eiling Lim, cask #8818, 188 bottles) - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Ardbeg 1966/1992 (50.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #33.13) - WF 91

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
None

Favourite malternative:
Hampden 16 yo 2000/2016 (44%, Compagnie des Indes, cask #JHPF01, 631 bottles) - WF 92
Whiskyfun fav of the month

December 2016

Favourite recent bottling:
Springbank 14 yo 2002/2016 (47.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 168 bottles) - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Clynelish 20 yo 1965/1985 (46%, Cadenhead, black dumpy) - WF 96

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Caol Ila 2005/2016 (57.3%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Strength, casks #301521, 301523, 301524, 301527)  - WF 89

Favourite malternative:
Fine Champagne 50 yo (70% proof, Hedges & Butler, 1950s) - WF 92

 

 

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March 1, 2017


Whiskyfun

Caol Ila, young ones

As far as older Coal Ilas are concerned, it seems that the source has dried up, but there are many young ones in the market. We shan’t and maybe even shouldn’t complain… Let’s have a few if you don’t mind. At random!

Caol Ila 2002/2014 ‘Distillers Edition’ (43%, OB, C-si; 1-474)

Caol Ila 2002/2014 ‘Distillers Edition’ (43%, OB, C-si; 1-474) Three stars and a halfMoscatel, baby. There are some total disasters and there are some fairly good ones. Ask our grandmas… Colour: gold. Nose: that’s what’s nice with these CIs DE, the moscatel doesn’t feel much, and in this particular case, it feels even less than in the earlier versions. Couldn’t they just drop the finishing and still call it ‘moscatel’? I’m sure no one would complain. In short, a nice fresh and clean Caol Ila, properly coastal and smoky, with whiffs of oysters and kippers. Mouth: okay, it is a little rounder than the average CI, and there is a very little winey sourness in the back, but other than that, it’s good Caol Ila, with grapefruits and salty smoky fish and seashells. It’s just a little less ashy than usual. Finish: same. Medium length. Some brine, some iodine, a touch of butterscotch. Comments: this one’s getting better IMHO, going from ‘why?’ to ‘ah!’ over the years. SGP:444 - 83 points.

Caol Ila 8 yo 2007/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, bourbon barrels, casks #315329-315330)

Caol Ila 8 yo 2007/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, bourbon barrels, casks #315329-315330) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: light mezcal from Islay. Elementary smoked malt, with golden delicious apples, some burning charcoal, some tincture of iodine, and some seawater. Totally uncomplicated but perfectly classy and even distinguished. Mouth: that’s the problem with these wee whiskies, you could down litres and litres of them. Smoked salmon, lemon, perhaps a little plasticine (not that nice here), artichokes, and a briny smokiness. Burnt gherkins, perhaps? Finish: medium, saltier. Always this faint ‘burnt’ note in the background. Some lemon as usual. Comments: goodly good young CI. SGP:355 - 84 points.

Caol Ila 8 yo 2007/2016 (53.4%, The Whisky Agency and The Speakeasy, refill hogshead, cask #1, 292 bottles)

Caol Ila 8 yo 2007/2016 (53.4%, The Whisky Agency and The Speakeasy, refill hogshead, cask #1, 292 bottles) Three stars A wee bottling for Switzerland, where indeed, many things are happening behind the curtains. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: this is getting newmake-y if you ask me. Tincture of iodine, apple eau-de-vie, smoked fish, and basta cosi. With water: smoked seawater. Mouth (neat): lemons, pears, grapefruits, almond oil, and smoked salmon. Have I already used the word elementary? With water: tequila? I’m not joking. Finish: medium, ashy. Comments: we’re going towards unaged spirits. Its good spirit, good Caol Ila, good Islay whisky, it’s just lacking soul and complexity. Some blaséed tasters may consider it’s a little too young. Some others will shamelessly call it a near-infanticide. SGP:445 - 80 points.

Caol Ila 5 yo 2008/2016 (61.5%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #6, bourbon, cask #311913)

Caol Ila 5 yo 2008/2016 (61.5%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #6, bourbon, cask #311913) Three stars Once again, the age is just a number here. As long as it’s younger than the actual age, that’s legal, isn’t it! Crazy French… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: another one that feels extremely young, but what saves it is the fact that it’s very olive-y and gherkiny, if I may. Almond oil, brine, sour apple juice, whelks (why whelks, S.?) With water: a large cardboard box full of unused bicycle inner tubes. Mouth (neat): hot and limy. Sounds like a disco song circa 1976, doesn’t it? Burns your throat, actually. With water: we tamed it, congrats! Ashy lemons and smoked shellfish. Finish: long and smoky/rubbery. Comments: a very dry smoky youngster. It’s good and even spectacular as an example of a strongly smoked whisky, so a quasi-Octomore if you will, but I feel we’re almost off-limits as far as maturity is concerned. SGP:266 - 81 points.

Good, we’ve got quite a few more young CIs to taste, but to tell you the truth, I’m exhausted. See you tomorrow if Agematterz, God of Whisky, lets me live…

(Thanks Greg, Paul)

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

 

 

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Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Sam Rivers. Track: Pulsar. Please visit his website and buy his music...
 

February 2017 - part 2 <--- March 2017 - part 1 ---> March 2017 - part 2


 

 

Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Amrut ‘Intermediate Sherry’ (57.1%, OB, +/-2016)

Amrut 2009/2016 ‘Virgin Oak’ (60%, OB for Hot Malt Taiwan, cask #958, 102 bottles, +/-2016)

Caol Ila 30 yo 1984/2014 (52.8%, The Ultimate, Rare Reserve, hogshead, cask #6261, 228 bottles)

Glen Garioch 1975/1987 ‘Coilltean’ (57%, Duthie for Samaroli, 648 bottles)

Glenrothes 1986/2017 (61.4%, Gordon & MacPhail for The Whisky Show Old & Rare, cask # 20235)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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