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Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2017 - Part 2

       
 

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

 

March 31, 2017


Whiskyfun

Two 17 yo 1998 Bowmore

And why not? Remember the old official 17 has been very good at times… Well, not always… Anyway…

Bowmore 17 yo 1998/2015 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL11007, 333 bottles)

Bowmore 17 yo 1998/2015 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL11007, 333 bottles) Four stars and a half We’ve already tried quite a few very excellent late 1990s Bowies! Colour: straw. Nose: let’s keep this short, this is perfect. Mud, roots, seaweed, bandages, kippers, green olives, beach fire. Indeed, perfect. Mouth: really very perfect. Perhaps less crystal-clear than earlier vintages (say 1992-1995) but it’s immediately very satisfying. Seawater, lemon juice, olive oil, and smoked fish. Finish: long, zesty, clean, pure. Some smoked blend of lemon juice and olive oil. Nice waxy touches in the aftertaste, some green pepper too. Comments: anyone not liking this has got a problem. SGP:357 - 89 points.

Bowmore 17 yo 1998/2016 (57.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill barrel, #3.276, ‘Oysters in a thyme mignonette’, 114 bottles)

Bowmore 17 yo 1998/2016 (57.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill barrel, #3.276, ‘Oysters in a thyme mignonette’, 114 bottles) Five stars A refill barrel and an excellent vintage, seriously, what could go wrong? Now it seems that they’ve smoked the carpet again at the honourable SMWS before they tried to find a name for this… Colour: straw. Nose: ah, Bowmore’s tropical fruits now. Passion fruits, mangos, all that. It’s not that they’re as big as in the 1960s Bowmores, but they’re there. Other than that, you know the song, kippers, seaweed, kilny smells… With water: and blood oranges! Mouth (neat): indeed, it’s more tropical, and more citrusy than its bro. Smoked pink grapefruits? Bananas? Long story short, it’s a perfect, trans-era Bowmore. With water: very very very good, salty/smoky all-vitamin fruit juice. Finish: long, and particularly accurate. Yeah, whatever that means. Comments: one more point for the tropical fruits. Ain’t that fair? SGP:557 - 90 points.

(And gracias, Angus)

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback

 

 

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March 30, 2017


Whiskyfun

Two Port Ellen 1983

Most sadly, and as we all know, Port Ellen, just like say Brora, has only been ‘smoking’ (as they say in Martinique) for a few months in 1983, before their owners closed them for good (right, for bad). Now I’ve often noticed that the spirits that used to be made in those last months was of very high quality, it’s a bit like some bands’ last world tours if you like. And no, that never worked with Creedence Clearwater Revival, but there, you get the idea…

Port Ellen 32 yo 1983/2016 (54%, The Auld Alliance, Singapore, cask #001/508, 120 bottles)

Port Ellen 32 yo 1983/2016 (54%, The Auld Alliance, Singapore, cask #001/508, 120 bottles) Five stars Colour: white wine. Hurray, refill wood! Nose: as fresh and vibrant as an old Islay can be, and once again this demonstrates that tired oak, provided you give it a lot of time, will give you back the smartest, cleanest, and most faithful old malt whiskies. Superb hessian, iodine, brine, oysters, kelp and fresh mint, plus lime and lemon, without any fattish or buttery notes. Some shoe polish instead, and perhaps a little anti-rust paint or something, as well as very wee hints of Thai basil, coriander, or fennel. One of the brightest old Port Ellens, in the style of those older Old Bothwells. With water: huge saponification, let’s wait… zzz… zzz… good, it got much gentler, almost floral, with some orange blossom water and a very gentle vanilla mingled with seawater and almond oil. Somethingb that could happen with old Caol Ila (pre-extension). Mouth (neat): a massive amount of grapefruits and lemons, with a pinch of salt. Smoked water, oysters, capers, samphires… This is almost a deluxe margarita. With water (although it doesn’t need water): gets very salty! Olive brine… Finish: long, very clean, superbly coastal. Smoked brine. Ashy aftertaste. Comments: I just knew this was going to be great. Now let’s keep a bottle for thirty more years, and see you here in 2047. SGP:367 - 92 points.

So, let’s try to find another 1983 in the sample library, there probably aren’t many… Ah, there…

Port Ellen 23 yo 1983/2006 (54.1%, The Way of Spirits)

Port Ellen 23 yo 1983/2006 (54.1%, The Way of Spirits) Four stars and a half A fairly obscure bottling by Waddell Hepburn in Glasgow, a name that seems to have been related to Douglas Laing, according to the shape of the bottles. Colour: white wine. Nose: a notch more ‘brutal’ than the Singaporean, with more fresh paint, tar, coal smoke… I’m also finding some green pepper, Barbour grease, some brine again… This one’s perhaps more ‘traditionally PE’. With water: ah, wet dogs! (we’re eternally sorry, dogs) and yet again, that old tweed jacket that we’re left under the rain for hours. Quite a lot of plasticine too. Mouth (neat): salt and lemon, with some paint, paraffin, and pepper. Very straightforward and once again, perhaps a tad brutal. With water: more citrus, but not quite more complexity, I wouldn’t say it’s totally got the zing of the Auld Alliance. Now of course, it’s very good whisky. Finish: long, sharpish, lemony, salty and ashy. It’s almost as if it could have been twelve years old. Comments: it’s Port Ellen, you understand! Maybe just not one of the very best there is. SGP:367 - 88 points.

More PE soon on WF, stay tuned…

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

 

 

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March 29, 2017


Whiskyfun

Glenfiddich thirty years apart

There also was that other new Glenfiddich bizarrely called ‘Vintage Cask’. Well try it, and then another OB that was bottled much earlier, that is to say thirty years ago.

Glenfiddich ‘Vintage Cask’ (40% OB, +/-2016)

Glenfiddich ‘Vintage Cask’ (40% OB, +/-2016) Three stars Some kind of slightly misleading double entendre here, it’s called vintage but there’s no vintage, so that’s rather vintage as in vintage, I suppose. Oh well I know what I’ trying to say. And there’s no age either, but apparently, there should be some peat, let’s see. Colour: gold. Nose: plain and pure fresh apple juice, seriously. Then indeed, touches of peat smoke and more fresh barley. Rather more vigorous than other Glenfiddichs, but perhaps less peaty than that Caoran that they used to have around ten years ago. I rather enjoy this nose. Mouth: it’s interesting and it’s good, and certainly peatier than expected. It’s kind of Talisker-peated, if you will. A wee saltiness, some green pepper, then more cider apples. Rather firm for Glenfiddich, and to tell you the truth, I’d have never recognised the distillery. Only the middle is a tad weak, and that’s the low strength. Finish: picks up again for a little while, on a greenish smokiness. Comments: why this instead of some proper peaters remains to be debated as an aficionado’s POV, but this baby’s perfectly quaffable, although I liked last year’s Project XX a little better. SGP:464 - 81 points.

Glenfiddich 21 yo (43%, Wedgwood Decanter, 1987)

Glenfiddich 21 yo (43%, Wedgwood Decanter, 1987) Three stars and a halfThis famous decanter was issued in 1987 to celebrate the distillery’s centenary. It’s still relatively easy to find since collectors do not quite trust stone or china decanters because of possible evaporation (and perhaps because grandmas don’t drink much whisky). If you ever buy one of those, always ask for its weight! Colour: pale gold. Nose: a rather leathery and tobacco-like profile, fatter and drier than the Vintage’s, then some fruitier notes, between Jell-O, sweets, and sweet cider. Also tinned peaches, perhaps. Mouth: some ODE for sure (Old Decanter Effect ;-)) and some smoke for sure, with a much fatter mouth feel than that of the Vintage, loads of green tea, and some earthy bitterness. It’s firm and almost big malt whisky, tenser than any current Glenfiddich, but it’s true that this is mid-1960s distillation, partly using, perhaps, some barley malted at Balvenie. Finish: rather long, a little creamier and certainly very ‘sweet-malty’. Hints of lemon and fresh rhubarb in the aftertaste. Comments: a decanter that kept well! SGP:551 - 84 points.

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

 

 

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March 28, 2017


Whiskyfun

New Ardbeg Kelpie sandwiched

Everything is just like clockwork, there’s a new official Ardbeg. It’s called Kelpie, everyone’s tasted it already, and here comes this lazy old whisky blogger, late to the party as ever. It’s true that we also have other priorities. Now what’s good when you’re late, is that you know what other people are thinking, and most friends seem to consider that Kelpie’s rather a good one. That is why I’ve decided to ‘grill it’, meaning to put it into a very challenging tasting environment, or what I’d call a ‘sandwich’. See what I mean…

First, and old 1965…

Ardbeg 22 yo 1965/1990 (54.4%, Cadenhead, black dumpy, 75cl)

Ardbeg 22 yo 1965/1987 (46%, Cadenhead, sherry wood) Five stars We’ve tried quite a few 1965s already, and many have been excellent (not quite the OB with white gloves, having said that), but the early-to-mid 1970s were even better. Colour: office coffee. Nose: it’s true that it delivers. Amazing. A bag of old copper coins, an old toolbox, the engine of an E-type (the straight 6, of course), some cooked white wine, a box of Cuban cigars, some kind of liquoricy fudge, an old stereo set, and today’s Le Monde (or any other proper newspapers). I mean, fresh ink and paper. Flabbergasting nose. Mouth: sweet Vishnu! It hasn’t lost one tooth, and hits you right between your ears at first sip, with an earthy/roasted sweet style and more ashes than in an early steamboat. Jaffa cakes dipped into smoked tea, smoked cloves (can you do that?) and some kind of lemony cigars. What’s even more amazing is that there’s always some kind of freshness over everything, around lemon juice, which prevents it from becoming a tad cloying or tiring. This was whisky art. Finish: long, and yet fresh and even ‘lifting’. Smoked tangerines, perhaps. Oh and one oyster, forgot to mention our beloved oysters. And menthol, as usual. Comments: one of my favourite 1965s, I think. I know they would jail you if you use the word ‘seminal’, but I think it will, it’s seminal Islay. Up there with the best. SGP:365 - 95 points.

Second, Kelpie…

Ardbeg ‘Kelpie’ (51.7%, OB, Committee Release, 2017)

Ardbeg ‘Kelpie’ (51.7%, OB, Committee Release, 2017) Four starsAs usual, this baby Ardbeg comes with some kind of ‘Celtic legend’, as well as some unlikely wood, in this case some new oak from around the Black Sea. Isn’t it funny that you’d need so many funny stories when you cannot or do not want to disclose the age of your whisky? Is it that young? Colour: straw. Nose: as simple as 1+1, almost elementary, and yet immediately appealing. I’m finding it very pure, very obvious in the best way, with a little lemon and custard, and then an ashy/coastal smokiness mixed with raw malt and, indeed, some kelp. A thin nose, yet a great nose. With water: fresh bread and a gingery smoke. Mouth (neat): very different, there’s perhaps a little too much spicy oak for me in the arrival. A little too much caraway, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves for Ardbeg, at times it feels like some two-year-old American craft whiskey, really. Not that it’s bad, quite the opposite, it’s just kind of lost lost a wee chunk of the brand’s DNA, as they say in London. With water: rather better, water brings out more Ardbegness. Finish: better, fresher, lemony, smoky, rather gentle. Very nice spicy grapefruits in the aftertaste, as well as more spicy tannins again. Comments: very good but feels a little young and a wee bit doctored on the palate. The nose was really very nice, especially when unreduced, though. SGP:476 - 86 points.

And the third part of the sandwich…

Ardbeg 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.4%, Cadenhead, black dumpy, 75cl)

Ardbeg 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.4%, Cadenhead, black dumpy, 75cl) Five stars There was also a version for Sestante, with a cream label, and one for ‘Andy and Norman’, probably all the same juice. Granted, it’s not the first time we’re trying this baby, but it’s from yet another bottle and how could you resist? Colour: the whitest white wine. Nose: barbecued sardines! Yes I’ve checked what the neighbours were doing, they are NOT barbecuing sardines. And old turpentine, old embrocations, engine oil, Le Mans, Bakelite, bits and pieces of various metals, some rusted, grapefruits, old forgotten lemon liqueur that your grandma brought back from Italy around 1960, smoked salmon… Well you see what I mean. No water needed, for once. Mouth: brutal. A fire in a lemon plantation, burning tyres, seawater. Bwilliant. With water: oily, engine-y, lemony, salty, ashy. Everything is in place. Finish: sadly. Extremely pure. Comments: essential. I used to be at 94, but I think that was cheap and stingy. Booh! SGP:457 - 95 points.

(With heartfelt thanks to Emmanuel, Fabien, and Jens)

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

 

 

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March 27, 2017


Whiskyfun

Happy International Whisky Day!

Every year since 2008, International Whisk(e)y Day celebrates the birthday of the late Michael Jackson, eternal king of whisky writing, and the greatest spirit in the world. Raise a glass on March 27th and help fight Parkinson's Disease!

International Whisky Day

 

Three rare Macallan for Michael Jackson

MJ

Macallan was Michael Jackson’s favourite malt, and I remember some of us used to believe, sometimes, that he was slightly overrating some expressions. But that’s what we call having preferences, and the great man sure had every rights to give very high scores, often 95/100 or more, to his favourite tipple. So, today we’ll try three very different and yet rather emblematic Macallans in his honour, all whiskies that he’s tasted as well. And we’ll have them by ascending strengths if you agree…

Macallan 40 yo 1949/1990 (37.9%, Signatory Vintage, casks #852+855, 280 bottles)

Macallan 40 yo 1949/1990 (37.9%, Signatory Vintage, casks #852+855, 280 bottles) Four stars and a half A rare old under proof bottling, one of the very first ones by Signatory – we’ll soon taste their very first bottling, a Glenlivet 1968. This Macallan is not, by today’s standards, Scotch Whisky anymore, can you guess why? (apologies). Colour: gold. Nose: sublime! Somewhere between some very old Sauternes and old Alsatian Gewurz, with ripe apricots, dandelions, rose petals, honeysuckle, mead, leatherwood honey (just got some fantastic Tasmanian leatherwood honey from a friend, it’s amazing), crushed avocado, almond oil… What a great complexity! The oak doesn’t quite feel as such, that would rather be herbal teas… Mouth: the most fantastic tea ever. It’s so complex, you do not even need more power and strength. Various tobaccos and herbal teas, touches of caraway, earl grey, sandalwood, a little cinnamon, Turkish pastry, various honeys again, a wee bit of leather… Now it sure doesn’t kick you in your teeth, but it never gets flat. Finish: sure it’s a little short, and perhaps a tad dry/oaky. Chlorophyll, tealeaves and a wee touch of soap in the aftertaste. Comments: the nose is pure poetry, while the palate is way above average. Great old wine territory. SGP:351 - 89 points.

Pride of Strathspey 50 yo 1937/1987 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells, single malt, decanter, 75cl)

Pride of Strathspey 50 yo 1937/1987 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells, single malt, decanter, 75cl) Five stars I believe this was not, contrarily to what many websites wrote, blended malt. And as the MI5 would say, it cannot not be Macallan. How many glories have we already tasted that were coming from this legendary Book of Kells series? Colour: gold. Nose: please have a seat. Precious golden raisins, many honeys, and the most astounding flowery and mentholy development I’ve experienced in recent months. Vanilla pod, orange blossom, pollen, the smallest bit of camphor cream, fresh grape juice (mosto? Paxarette?), dandelions again… This nose is as sublime as the 1949’s. Mouth: some great old cognac, really. Ripe peaches and apples, raisins, some prunes, dried pears, strawberry juice, mead, orange liqueur… And not one ounce of distinguishable oakiness, mind you. As if the spirit had digested it, as we say in the wine world. Finish: medium and amazing, more herbs-forward. Verbena, mint… Comments: I don’t think all Pride of Strathspey have been fabulous, but this one was, for sure. SGP:551 - 93 points.

Macallan 25 yo 1965/1990 ‘Anniversary Malt’ (43%, OB, Giovinetti, 75 cl)

Macallan 25 yo 1965/1990 ‘Anniversary Malt’ (43%, OB, Giovinetti, 75 cl) Five stars We’ve had the 25/1965 in a decanter christened ‘M’ (already!) a while back and had just loved it (WF 93) but I’m not sure it’s the same juice. I’d add that I had found the 1967 in this very series a little disappointing (WF 87). So, there is some suspense… Colour: gold. Nose: same territories as the ‘Pride’, only rather rounder, more candied, and with more dried fruits, including bananas, pears, raisins… Cigars are obvious too in this ‘buy-this-or-buy-a-small-car’ whisky. Rhubarb tarte, with meringue on top of it, and much less sherry than you would think. A wee whiff of wood smoke. Mouth: really similar to the 1937, which rather comes as a surprise. Once again we’re a little in cognac territories (did Michael Jackson ever write about cognac? I cannot remember…) with ripe fresh fruits everywhere, juicy raisins, overripe apples, oranges, and then more and more tropical fruits, rather around ripe bananas. It’s the freshness that’s impressive here, first and foremost, as well as the way it tends to turn more herbal and dry, in a magnificent way. Teas and tobaccos. Finish: medium, on some kind of spicy marmalade, with a stunning freshness. Comments: a grand cru of Scotch whisky, with this amazing complexity that’s not often to be seen in contemporary bottlings anymore. SGP:651 - 94 points.

(To whom this concerns, thank you!)

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

 

 

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March 26, 2017


Whiskyfun

Rum from Belize and others

In general, and unless said otherwise, indie Belize is Travellers. And we’ve had some good ones already, but let’s be honest, even if I’m a Frenchman, I don’t know much about the Belizean fields (diving to new lows, S.!)

Travellers 11 yo 2005/2016 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, cask #BL22, 455 bottles)

Travellers 11 yo 2005/2016 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, cask #BL22, 455 bottles) Three stars There was a very good 2005 at 8 yo a few years back. Colour: gold. Nose: mid-soft and mid-phenolic, not unlike some Guadeloupes, with overripe apples and bananas plus only a very mild tarriness, then rather ‘rich’ flowers (geranium, earl grey tea) and quite some hay. No wham-bam rum but it does talk. Mouth: starts a tad pina-colada-ish, but with good body and structure. Rosehip tea and bananas, plus hints of tinned pineapples, with just one drop of lapsang souchong tea and perhaps a little fennel and dill. Finish: medium, and rather more banana-forward. Yeah I know. Comments: I’m not sure 43% vol. is quite enough, and this little rum keeps hesitating between two territories (tarry grass vs. luscious fruits and flowers). Now it’s quite complex. SGP:541 - 80 points.

More power please… Thank you!

Travellers 11 yo 2005/2016 (66.2%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, cask #BL11, 297 bottles)

Travellers 11 yo 2005/2016 (66.2%, Compagnie des Indes, Belize, cask #BL11, 297 bottles) Three stars and a half From one extreme to another… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s so strong that it’s got something medicinal at first, but various flowers tend to come to the front, which is lovely. Iris and vanilla, perhaps? Some genuine gingerbread too (50% honey at least) and once again, whiffs of geranium flowers. With water: bananas, white chocolate, a little hay, vanilla… Little tar that I can smell this time, the whole being rather soft and subtle (once you’ve added enough water, that is). Precious green tea. Mouth (neat): burns you. Right. With water: good to very good. Delicate pineapples and bananas, guavas, vanilla, a wee bit of raspberry ganache… So it’s all pretty fruity, without one single hint of sugary sweetness. Finish: medium, still subtle, with something slightly Cuban. I’m sure you could make some excellent canchanchara with this. Comments: some subtle rum at 66.2% vol.? What is the world coming to? SGP:541 - 83 points.

Travellers 11 yo 2005/2017 (66.1%, The Whisky Barrel, Rabbie’s Rum, Belize, barrel #33SFBT)

Travellers 11 yo 2005/2017 (66.1%, The Whisky Barrel, Rabbie’s Rum, Belize, barrel #33SFBT) Two stars and a half Yay, this is much lighter! Colour: full gold. Nose: there’s simply more oak influence in this one, more vanilla, cake… And rather more smoke as well, it seems. Barbecue? Let’s check that… With water: some pencil shavings coming out this time. Ex-bourbon wood? Crushed bananas, vanilla extracts, hay, fresh sawdust… Mouth (neat): ultra-powerful, this baby will send you to paradise if you swallow more than three drops at a time. So… With water: same feeling of oak extracts, beyond the pleasant notes of blood oranges and breakfast honey. It reminds me of many a modern NAS Scotch malt, in a way. Finish: medium, leafier. Green tannins and coconut. Comments: I think this powerful baby is very hard to handle. You’ll need a very competitive pipette. SGP:561 - 79 points.

Enough with Belize, let’s fly to… Jamaica!

Hampden Estate 17 yo 2000/2017 (47.4%, Sansibar) Five starsIsn’t Hampden slowly becoming the Ardbeg of rum? We couldn’t find any picture of this new bottle at time of writing, so we’ve put one of the distillery's pot stills instead. Colour: pale gold. Nose: get out of here. Olives, Kools, salted liquorice, charcoal, peat, genuine balsamic vinegar, gherkins…

Mouth: huge arrival, a middle that’s just a little softer, and an end that’s majestic again. The Bridge on the River Kwai. And some mangos kicking in. Finish: brilliant, just sad, because it’s the finish. Comments: Hampden Hampden Hampden… Indeed, getting a little lazy. SGP:453 - 91 points.

Now go beat a 17 year old Hampden! OH let’s simply select something funny as our #5. You may have noticed that we’re always tasting five malternatives in a row, haven’t you?

Chalong Bay 2016/2016 ‘Thai Sweet Basil’ (40%, OB, Thailand)

Chalong Bay 2016/2016 ‘Thai Sweet Basil’ (40%, OB, Thailand) Two starsThis baby doesn’t claim to any rumminess, as the sugarcane spirit was ‘vapour infused’ with Thai basil right during distillation. Something pretty innovative, it seems. Should be fun, since Chalong is a great distillate. Colour: white. Nose: ueber fun stuff! Some kind of demoniacal gingerbread dry liqueur, smoky, earthy, and of course extremely herbal. I think this will beat most urban gins that our friends the hipsters are making (and drinking) these days. It’s just rather hard to describe, my bad… Mouth: I rather get bags and bags of caraway, to tell you the truth, and I cannot not think of these eau-de-vie de cumin that my Alsatian compatriots are making when they are running out of williams pears or marc de gewurz’. Some aniseed for sure, dill, fennel, caraway indeed, genepy, wormwood… It’s really fun, but it may need one or three ice cubes if you want to sip more than one spoonful of it. Finish: medium and perhaps a little toothpaste-y? Comments: great, just a little tiring. So greatly made, but anecdotal. Unless it’s got some demonstrable medicinal benefits… Has it? SGP:472 - 75 points.

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

 

 

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March 24, 2017


Whiskyfun

Braes and Braeval

As you most probably know, Braes of Glenlivet and Braeval are different names for the same distillery. It’s a relatively new distillery (mid 1970s).

Braeval 18 yo 1997/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, 323 bottles)

Braeval 18 yo 1997/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, 323 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: a rather leafy and leathery sherry, with the obligatory walnuts and a few medicinal touches (grassy cough syrup). Green coffee beans, perhaps, then more straight maltiness and just hints of butterscotch. Mouth: same mildly medicinal arrival, then large slices of walnuts cake, cinnamon cake, and ginger cake. A tannicity as well, cedar wood, sucking liquorice wood… Tends to get spicier, with also notes of grapefruits and greengages. Finish: rather long, a tad peppery, with a maltier aftertaste again. Comments: all good, solid and honest malty Speysider with good oomph. SGP:351 - 83 points.

Braes of Glenlivet 12 yo 1994/2006 (57.2%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #113.2, ‘Compote of wellies’) Three stars Colour: straw. Nose: rather harsh, with more leather and rubber than in the 1997, and a rather mineral maltiness, around limestone, fresh concrete… Rather unsexy so far. With water: more fresh concrete, chalk, clay, gravel, and also broken branches, roots… So a very austere style, but a style that I do rather enjoy. Mouth (neat): more ‘young’ fruits, well in the style of many a young unsherried Speysider, that is to say full of orchard fruits, apples, pears, plums… With water: a simple fruit salad, with a touch of mint and, perhaps, rosehip (eau-de-vie, did you know that some Alsatian distillers make some very good rosehip/eglantine eau-de-vie?) Finish: medium, and fruitier again. All those small berries, sorb, elder… Comments: another one that was all good, solid, and honest. SGP:461 - 82 points.

Braes of Glenlivet 22 yo 1994/2016 (51.7%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 197 bottles)

Braes of Glenlivet 22 yo 1994/2016 (51.7%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 197 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: all right, exactly the style of the SMWS, only more mature, that is to say better ‘mingled’ and with more oak. That kind of oak translates into some nice mentholy and liquoricy vanilla plus a little coconut. Perhaps dandelions? With water: as often, tends to become a little earthier, as well as more mineral. Mouth (neat): sweet and creamy, at times you would think it is bourbon. Coconut balls, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger cake… I’d even swear there is some rye inside. Serious. With water: very good, easy, creamy, and even a little gewurztraminerish. Okay, okay… Finish: medium, a little more spice-forward. Ginger, nutmeg… Comments: a very excellent cask for sure. I dig this creamy one. SGP:551 - 87 points.

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

 

 

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March 23, 2017


Whiskyfun

Bruichladdich, a best of

As the headline says.

Lochindaal 2009/2016 (65.7%, Caora, first fill bourbon, cask #r10/002-100, 343 bottles)

Lochindaal 2009/2016 (65.7%, Caora, first fill bourbon, cask #r10/002-100, 343 bottles) Five stars Caora are a new Swiss independent bottler from Olten, which lies very close to Alsace. This one-off baby from Bruichladdich was peated to 50ppm, so it may lie somewhere between Port Charlotte and Octomore. Now I’m not sure it’s very smart to start a session with a whisky this strong, cough, cough… Colour: pale gold. Nose: this instantly reminds me of the bottlings done by those crazy Swedes named Svenska Eldvatten. It’s powerful yet pristine smoky malt, in the regions of mezcal and gentian (which, by the way, they know very well in Helvetia). So far, so great. With water: a little lemon in a used ashtray, plus some damp hay. Mouth (neat): some kind of nuclear war happening on your tongue, but quite bizarrely, that’s bearable. Vanilla-ed smoked lemons? With water: immaculate smoky lemons and oysters, then tangerines. Unexpected echoes of old Laphroaig from the 1960. I’m dead serious. Finish: long, still pristine, ultra-clean, and beautiful. Comments: sublime young distillate by Bruichladdich with very minimal cask influence. I believe that was the key here. Grüezi miteinander! SGP:557 - 90 points.

Bruichladdich 15 yo 2001/2016 ‘Wild and Primitive’ (54.3%, by Silvano Samaroli)

Bruichladdich 15 yo 2001/2016 ‘Wild and Primitive’ (54.3%, by Silvano Samaroli) Four stars and a half This lovely bottle stems from Silvano Samaroli’s very last personal venture in the world of whisky, which he had supervised. It’s not from the current ‘official’ Samaroli range that did not actually belong to him, contrarily to what many whisky people believe. Colour: deep gold. Nose: burnt butter! I mean, butter just before it burns in the frying pan. Then a stunning development on cigars, smoked teas, some kind of smoked wild trout fried in, yeah, butter, and some kelp on an Islay beach. It’s a smoky Bruichladdich, so a Port Charlotte. With water: some wee bits of rusty iron and the kelp dried up. Mouth (neat): it’s not often that sherry and wild peat tango this nicely. No off-notes and no rubber, rather bags and bags of smoky Seville oranges, plus some peppered tobacco, perhaps. With water: gets very leathery, herbal, almost Tabasco-ish at times. Finish: long and cigary. Comments: now we understand why dear Silvano did call this ‘wild and primitive’. Impeccable selection, totally expected, even if I tend to like the cleaner and leaner style of the Swiss one a notch better. SGP:466 - 89 points.

Ans now perhaps a regular Bruichladdich?

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2002/2016 (52.7%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, micro provenance, bourbon, cask #12/214, 240 bottles)

Bruichladdich 13 yo 2002/2016 (52.7%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, micro provenance, bourbon, cask #12/214, 240 bottles) Four stars and a half There’s more literature on these bottles than in Dostoyevsky’s complete works! Now we’re very glad to learn that this comes from a micro-provenance, but we’d also love to know about where that was. Colour: white wine. Nose: we’ve made a long break after the peaters, so we do indeed get all the lovely melons and peaches that abound here. Golden barley, custard, some cut grass… With water: we kind of recreated the first batch of the new ‘ten’. We’re good, we’re good. And even better, we’ve added a few rooty notes. Mouth (neat): gorgeous melony arrival (I think our friends the Provençaux are making some good melon liqueurs), then rather more tropical fruits (whacky guavas), then more classic golden syrups, acacia honey, and simply sweet barley. With water: no changes, it just became lighter. Finish: medium, fruity, with a hint of fudge. Perhaps the barrel. Comments: different style, same huge quality. A fine session. SGP:551 - 89 points.

(Many thanks, Francesco)

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March 22, 2017


Whiskyfun

Four more theoretical Lagavulin

And so we’re back with more Lagavulin. And we’ll start this wee session with some softer one.

Lagavulin 1999/2015 'Distillers Edition' (43%, OB, lgv 4/504)

Lagavulin 1999/2015 'Distillers Edition' (43%, OB, lgv 4/504) Four stars We’ve already tried last year’s DE but had missed the one from 2015. As usual, it’s finished in Pedro Ximenez (which is to whisky what a turbo-look is to Porsche, haha). Ah, the 1979… Colour: gold. Nose: I didn’t enjoy the 2016 too much, but this is nice, soft, rather complex, with a mild tarry side, some peelings and leaves, blood oranges, marmalade, raisins, oyster mushrooms, cigars, a touch of agave syrup, and the faintest whiffs of pencil shaving (a thing that sadly got much bigger in the 2000/2016). Mouth: super good. In a way, this is smoked cognac. Oranges, peaches, sea salt, raisins, liquorice, sweet tar, candied citrons, and of course smoke. Relatively mild and easy, some Lagavulin to sip without thinking too much about it. Finish: rather long, drier, with some chocolate and some salty marmalade. Some oak in the aftertaste, which is the only weaker part in my opinion. Comments: a rather sweeter and fruitier Lagavulin DE, but still with all flags out. SGP:556 - 87 points.

Laggan Mill 8 yo 2008/2016 (46%, The Cooper’s Choice, cask #7391, 400 bottles)

Laggan Mill 8 yo 2008/2016 (46%, The Cooper’s Choice, cask #7391, 400 bottles) Four stars Only the name and the excellent bottler suggest this is Lagavulin, so we could be wrong. Could we? Colour: white wine. Nose: rather quiet, leafy, with notes of wormwood, chartreuse, aniseed, dill… and all that. Did that come from the cask? Then more damp earth and some very soft and light dry white wine. Say a nice verdejo from Spain. Mouth: it’s really a soft and rounded one, with some lemonised vanilla and some kind of blend with apple juice and brine inside. Soft sweet olives (do you know the picholines?) and a sooty/ashy touch. One of the most drinkable ‘clean’ Lagavulins out there, softer than the official 8 from last year. Finish: medium, easy, smoky and sweetly lemony. The aftertaste is really sweet. Comments: the easiest side of Lagavulin, quite aperitive-y. Shall we call it a ‘Netflix Lagavulin’? Bring the zakuskis! SGP:547 - 85 points.

South Shore Islay Malt 2008/2016 (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead)

South Shore Islay Malt 2008/2016 (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, bourbon hogshead) Four stars Perhaps from the same source… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: not quite identical to the Cooper’s, but close. A few grassier and more herbal elements, around parsley, and a rather drier style all in all. A little more mineral as well, chalky, slightly woolly… Mouth: once again, we’re close. Limoncello, apple liqueur (manzana something, they love it in Spain), even a little candy sugar, also kippers and smoked salmon, a feeling of cigar ashes, and only a very faint coastal side. Some pears for sure. I’d say we’re almost closer to some peaters from the mainland (say some peated Benriachs or Tomintouls). Finish: medium, rounded, sweet. Smoked pear juice. Comments: fine fine fine and uncomplicated. This one too shows that Lagavulin’s rather sweeter than Ardbeg (unless ex-unlikely wine wood) and Laphroaig (unless ex-unlikely wine wood). SGP:546 - 85 points.

Russenschnaps (52.3%, Unicorn Production, Regensburger Whiskyclub, 294 bottles, 2015)

Russenschnaps (52.3%, Unicorn Production, Regensburger Whiskyclub, 294 bottles, 2015) Five stars Said to be some genuine L*g*v*l*n vatted in Germany, also said to contain some very old ones and some younger ones alike. There might be many private jokes behind this wee bottling from Bavaria, but as an Alsatian, I won’t even try to decipher them, and we’re farer from Vladi in any case. Guys, you rock anyway. Colour: deep gold. Nose: the Distiller’s Edition at cask strength! Chocolate, raisins, leather, cigars, pencil shavings (a few), and a leafy smokiness plus various soft spices, around cinnamon. Also cakes, cinnamon rolls, also seawater, dried kelp, wood and coal ashes... With water: and here it goes, miso soup, soy sauce, caraway liqueur, cloves… It just loves water. Mouth (neat): hoppla! Indeed, it is the DE at cask strength, with ‘ideas’ of the famous official 21s as well, including this famous tarry, marmalade-y, and slightly gingery side. Massive whisky, this, I wouldn’t say it goes in for subtleties, but it is excellent. With water: indeed it loves water, as much as Ludwig II used to, but with better consequences. Tamarind jam, cranberries, smoked spices, aniseed, marmalade… Finish: long, with a wee bit of leather and more cigary notes. Comments: rather a Riesenschnaps! Water really unlocks it. SGP:567 - 90 points.

(With thanks to Tom)

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March 21, 2017


Whiskyfun

Four high-strength Lagavulin

Three indies and one controversial semi-official, would that do? We’ll have more Lagavulin later this week, if all goes well.

Lg6 (53.7%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2016)

Lg6 (53.7%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2016) Five starsAlways the same question, where do you sneak in any NAS when doing a verticale? Now the very tight and pure Lg5 had been very much to my liking (WF 91), so there’s much hope here… Colour: white wine. Nose: it first smells just like the Port Ellen Maltings when they’re working, and then you get some very vivid notes of lemon, manzanilla, seawater, cigar smoke, and hessian. All that is beautiful and extremely ‘millimetric’ (with apologies to the British Empire). With water: an even bigger feeling of ‘a visit to the PE Maltings’. Wonderful whiffs of bread dough, more hessian, Islay mud… Mouth (neat): starts bigly, quite hot, with the usual almondy and very faintly tarry fruitiness (yellow melons, grapefruits), then jelly babies and a huge smokiness, perhaps ashier than elsewhere in Lagavulinland. Shakes you a wee bit. Very beautiful sour background (cider apples and more manzanilla). With water: smoky barley water mixed with lemon juice. Finish: long, while the almonds are back. Comments: we’re extremely close to the distillate, and yet it’s not mew-make-y at all. I have the impression that this bright youngster is rather less fruity than its predecessors. Totally a fan. SGP:458 - 91 points.

Lagavulin 10 yo ‘Batch 2’ (53.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 239 bottles, 2016)

Lagavulin 10 yo ‘Batch 2’ (53.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 239 bottles, 2016) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: this one’s much sharper, grassier, and more austere and acrid, and makes the Lg6 rather resemble a Lochside 1966 by comparison. More or less. Burning grass, ink, soot, hessian again, tarry ropes… I can’t find one ounce of fruitiness or sweetness in there. With water: fresh tree bark, leaves, paraffin, green tea, engine grease… Mouth (neat): all the fruits that weren’t in the nose are there on the palate! Especially oranges and green pears. Sweets, then more and more salt playing with your lips. Aged on Islay? You never know… Some superbly dry marzipan as well, some salty pepper, a touch of wasabi… All that is very, very impressive. With water: long and fruitier yet. Nectarines and lemon and cream sweets. Finish: long, and magnificently lemony. Comments: a totally gorgeous young Lagavulin, a true competition piece. I’m totally falling for it. SGP:557 - 92 points.

Lagavulin 15 yo 2001/2016 (54.2%, OB, 200th Anniversary, Casks of Distinction, Private Collector Edition, hogshead, cask #9554, 264 bottles)

Lagavulin 15 yo 2001/2016 (54.2%, OB, 200th Anniversary, Casks of Distinction, Private Collector Edition, hogshead, cask #9554, 264 bottles) Four stars and a half One of those intriguing and very speculative official private casks from last year. Welcome to the modern whisky world, where money has no smell (anymore). Colour: pale gold. Nose: very nice, of course, but nowhere near the two sublime youngsters. Some smoked butter, seawater, kelp, Pilsen beer, wet fabric… It’s all relatively soft, despite the high strength. With water: that old jacket after some heavy rain. Mouth (neat): very good, obviously, with some lemon curd and some salty tea (Tibetan style?) as well as plenty of ‘mineral’ citrus, some unexpected mangos, and a little cardboard in the background. A fizzy lemon, somewhere, sometime. With water: becomes a little drying, more tea-ish, with a green tannicity. Now it does not disintegrate, don’t get me wrong. Finish: medium, and rather soft for Lagavulin. Smoky oranges and earl grey tea. Comments: very good, and yet I’m experiencing a mild disappointment. Maybe I just expected too much. SGP:556 - 88 points.

Good. Twenty-five years earlier…

Lagavulin 14 yo 1978/1992 (64.7%, Kingsbury, Japan, bourbon, cask #132)

Lagavulin 14 yo 1978/1992 (64.7%, Kingsbury, Japan, bourbon, cask #132) Five stars Cadenhead have had quite a few 1978s around that time, under various labels including this one by parent company Eaglesome ltd. But watch the very high strength… Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one’s very mineral this time, with a lot of linseed oil as well, graphite, hints of bay leaves, plaster, soot, clay, broken branches… So rocks rather than fruits or seaweed, this time. But remember, almost 65% vol. With water: more iodine for sure, more salty/coastal notes, sea spray, a little mint as well, oysters, eucalyptus… When comparing the modern ones to this one, one feels that Lagavulin got more smoky/ashy, and rather less maritime/camphory/medicinal. Mouth (neat): some fruity sweetness, some flavoured beer, Kriek-like, and some buttered apple cake with a good dose of ginger and slightly prickly pepper. With water: gets much more medicinal. Cough syrup, salt and mint mix, eucalyptus, more seawater, and rather more apples as well, while there’s very little citrus, if any. Totally wonderful, but you have to get the amount of water right. Finish: long, with more salty almonds this time and a wee feeling of paint and plasticine, which works very well. Ashes, and there, lemons! And pineapples! Comments: this baby really took its time but it’s true that it never quite saw this much water. Slow and superb. SGP:557 - 92 points.

(With heartfelt thanks to Emmanuel and KC)

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March 20, 2017


Whiskyfun

St. Patrick’s a few days late
but done properly

Unlike most whisky bloggers, I totally missed St-Patrick’s last week. The slowest copita in the west! But let’s try to fix that…

Hyde 6 yo ‘No.3 The Aras Cask’ (46%, Hibernia Distillers, single grain Irish, bourbon, +/-2016)

Hyde 6 yo ‘No.3 The Aras Cask’ (46%, Hibernia Distillers, single grain Irish, bourbon, +/-2016) According to the label, this is supposed to be triple distilled grain whiskey. Ah?! Dr. Jekyll’s work? This bottle celebrate 1916’s uprisings. These distillers seem to source their whiskies. Colour: gold. Nose: pencil shavings and a little vanilla, plus nail polish remover. Baby whisky. Mouth: very young, varnishy, with a layer of oak, mocha, vanilla, and lemon fudge. Finish: short, quite spirity. Comments: I guess you have to start from somewhere. Reminds me of some bottom-shelf bourbon, but yeah, it’s drinkable – I’m not saying sippable. Lovely packaging. SGP:430 - 60 points.

The Quiet Man 8 yo (40%, OB, single malt Irish, +/-2016)

The Quiet Man 8 yo (40%, OB, single malt Irish, +/-2016) Two stars and a half Another sourced whiskey with a story and some very fashionable retro packaging sold by future distillers, it seems. Always the same story, brandbuilders vs. distillers. Colour: white wine. Nose: hold on, there is some action! Some shoe polish blended with apple juice and drops of turpentine, as well as quite some cough syrup. The bags of apple peelings and a wee touch of mango, which makes it very Irish indeed. Very nice. Mouth: indeed, very nice, with some roasted fruits (oranges) and some barley water, plus a kind of peppery smokiness that goes well. A touch of pear and pineapple, sign of youth. Finish: short, but that’s the low strength. Comments: it’s the blogger’s mantra, why only 40% vol. when the spirit is nice? Taxes? Come on… In any case, I like this one, with its Tyrconnelly side. SGP:541 - 78 points.

Dunville’s ‘Three Crowns’ (43.5%, OB, Irish blend, +/-2016)

Dunville’s ‘Three Crowns’ (43.5%, OB, Irish blend, +/-2016) This by the good people at Echlinville’s and offered in one of those trendy replica bottles. Good luck to the whisky lovers in fifty years time, how will they manage to find out about when these whiskies were bottled? The barcodes? Nutrition facts on the back labels? Various health warnings? Colour: white wine. Nose: a handful of old coins and a bag of sawdust. Mouth: raw at first, then a little fruitier. Jelly babies, nail polish. Finish: yes. Comments: I liked the Hyde 6yo rather better. SGP:330 - 56 points.

Let’s get serious if you don’t mind…

Irish Single Malt ‘Extra Old’ (50.6%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel)

Irish Single Malt ‘Extra Old’ (50.6%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel) Three stars and a half Perhaps a multi-vintage? Remember that in the spirits industry, extra old (or XO) usually means younger than aged-stated or vintaged bottlings. Colour: white wine. Nose: yep. Parsley, guavas, tinned mangos, bananas, fern, cut grass… Very nice balance between fruits and grasses. Nothing to complain about. Mouth: same feeling of ‘balance’, this time rather between oldness and youth. Old polished tropical fruits and some tenser grassy/peely notes. With water: same, but water kind of ‘blends’ it even better. Finish: medium, always on this thin line between fruits and grasses. Let’s say grassy fruits. Comments: it’s not that I would cry with joy, but I really like this one. And it loves water. In fact I think water is mandatory. SGP:550 - 84 points.

Emerald Isle 24 yo 1991/2016 (52.6%, Specialty Drinks, cask #8507)

Emerald Isle 24 yo 1991/2016 (52.6%, Specialty Drinks, cask #8507) Five stars Let’s hope this baby is a great as its sister cask that came out a little earlier (I believe). Well I can’t see why it would not. Colour: pale gold. Nose: yippee! Mangos and passion fruits and bananas and stuff. Quite sublime (unless you don’t like mangos and passion fruits and bananas and stuff.) With water: sunflower oil and other oils. Always love it when water brings out the oiliness. Mouth (neat): oh yes, these mentholated and earthy half-rotten tropical fruits! It’s actually all quite decadent, literary, and philosophical. Beedies, whacky spice mixes, curious mushrooms, blood oranges, pink bananas, tamarind, ueber-ripe mangos… All we’d also need is the Grateful Dead. With water: becomes a little gentler, but some lovely herbal teas are coming in. Rosehip tea. Finish: long, but settled. Green tea and multi-vitamin fruit juice. Comments: the best of the best of the Irish. Hope there will be more casks. SGP:661 - 91 points.

Irish Single Malt 1989/2016 (45.5%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 211 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 1989/2016 (45.5%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 211 bottles) Five stars Another one that’ll probably be boringly good. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a calmer and gentler Emerald 1991, a little more on high-end teas, and a little less on whacky exotic fruits. In fact, it almost smells like a fabulous box of fabulous Cuban cigars that you would have just fabulously opened in fabulous company. Superb essential oils. Mouth: perfect. It’s close to the 1991 and yet they are diametrically opposed. Softer, better balanced, sublimely fruity, with a floral side (those flower jellies and jams that modern chefs like to add on the sides of your plates)… Totally wonderful. Finish: only medium, and perhaps even a notch short, but that’s not problem at all. Touches of overripe apples. Comments: between the ’91 and this ’89… well my heart is torn between the two of them. So… SGP:561 - 91 points.

Oh while we are at it…

Finest Old Liqueur Scotch Whisky 11 yo (45%, Shaw, Irish malt whisky, 70.8cl, +/-1920s)

Finest Old Liqueur Scotch Whisky 11 yo (45%, Shaw, Irish malt whisky, 70.8cl, +/-1920s) Two stars A very interesting bottle! Indeed the label states that this is some ‘Finest Old Liqueur Scotch Whisky blended with choice all malt Irish whisky’. So it’s either and indeed a blend of Scotch and Irish malts, or it’s Irish malt whisky advertised as ‘Scotch style’ before those kinds of mentions would have got strongly forbidden. The strength displayed as a % ABV is quite unusual as well. Colour: gold, slightly hazy. Nose: it’s rather very honeyed, we’re close to mead and pure honey. Soft, with some barley water as well… Well this is one of the gentlest noses I’ve, well, nosed since the beginning of this year. Mead, really… Mouth: more action. More honey, then some kind of lightly peated pineapple juice, with a wee metallic edge and a growing feeling of yesterday’s early grey tea. It’s not that it got flat, not at all, but it sure has lost some of its knack. Finish: short and tea-ish. Normal given the age of this whisky (did you notice it’s not spelled whiskey?) A little mint. Comments: time has taken its toll, but the honeyed arrivals were lovely. Glad I could try this very old baby, but I couldn’t tell you if it’s 100% Irish or not. SGP:321 - 70 points.

Happy St-Patrick’s! No, wait…

(With thanks to Jeroen)

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March 19, 2017


Whiskyfun

Keep on rumming with Demerara

Yeah, not particularly proud of that one either. Anyway, let’s fly to Guyana today…

Wood’s ‘100 Old Navy Rum’ (57%, OB, Demerara, +/-2015)

Wood’s ‘100 Old Navy Rum’ (57%, OB, Demerara, +/-2015) Two stars Some Guyanese blend that’s not often to be seen on this side of the Pond. Please note that it was bottled at ‘export strength’. Let’s only hope it’s not as sweetish as many an El Dorado. Colour: red coffee. Nose: heavy molasses and an even heavier chocolate, plus prunes and then more and more coffee. With water: some soy sauce and cigars, walnut stain, cloves, liquorice… Rather monolithic. Mouth (neat): a little hard, very molassy and caramelly, and really biting and raw. Perhaps not some sipping rum? I’m feeling the need to pour it onto some vanilla ice cream, to tell you the truth. With water: not bad, but feels a bit like some good cooking rum. Probably very young and ‘doped up’, but I do not find any excessive sweetness. It’s just very simple. Finish: long, with some oak and some bitter caramel. Comments: honest and pretty cheap. SGP:462 - 74 points.

Diamond 12 yo 2003/2016 (45%, Compagnie des Indes, Guyana, cask #MSG17, 278 bottles)

Diamond 12 yo 2003/2016 (45%, Compagnie des Indes, Guyana, cask #MSG17, 278 bottles) Four stars As you may know, Diamond is the only surviving Demerara distillery, sheltering several old stills from other plantations that have been closed down. Colour: full gold. Nose: full Demerara goodness, as expected, with this very peculiar mix of crushed bananas and engine oil. A little vanilla fudge as well, but the tarry/phenolic side keeps singing rather loud. Very cane-y, in fact. Mouth: same comments, we’re midway between the heavy phenol monsters and the rounder, lighter styles (some Enmores, for example). Same crushed bananas, some tinned pineapples, freshly squeezed cane, a touch of candy sugar, oranges, and a discreet tarry/liquoricy smokiness. Finish: medium, fruity, with excellent structure. Comments: certainly not one of the ‘Jamaicans from Guyana’, and rather a style that hints at… Marie-Galante, perhaps? Excellent nonetheless. SGP:641 - 86 points.

Uitvlugt 1999/2016 (46%, La Maison du Whisky, Transcontinental Rum Line, Guyana, 527 bottles)

Uitvlugt 1999/2016 (46%, La Maison du Whisky, Transcontinental Rum Line, Guyana, 527 bottles) Four starsI’m just reading on LMDW’s website something I had forgotten about, that is to say that Uitvlugt had harboured the old stills from Albion, Blairmont, Port Mourant and Skeldon before it stopped working in the year 2000. So, this is still from the old distillery. Colour: pale gold. Nose: yeah! Perfect cane-y, brine-y, petroly, tarry, and quite-smoky nose. There’s some mezcal, some diesel oil, new tyres, liquorice, and citrons. Balance is perfect. There. Oh and there is some Lagavulin! Mouth: super mega good, I’m just sure I’d have preferred it at 50% vol. That’s right, never satisfied. Some mint and a little camphor, on tinned apricots and some passion fruits, while it’s perhaps a little less tarry and olive-y than others. Perhaps rather tequila than mezcal, if you see what I mean. Finish: medium and rather more mineral. Chalk and liquorice plus ripe peaches and plums. More liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: a slightly rounder Uitvlugt (than usual). Very very good. SGP:562 - 87 points.

So, a more powerful Uitvlugt from the same vintage, please…

Uitvlugt 17 yo 1999/2017 (60.8%, The Whisky Barrel, Rabbie’s Rum, Guyana, cask #MPM-18)

Uitvlugt 17 yo 1999/2017 (60.8%, The Whisky Barrel, Rabbie’s Rum, Guyana, cask #MPM-18) Four stars Ha-ha, Mr. Burns has now got sunglasses. Ever heard of his Address to a Pepper Pot? Colour: pale gold. Nose: yes, there, this rocks you. Burnt tyres and engine oil, plus overripe bananas and melting rubber. Sounds weird but it’s not. With water: chalk and even wool, we’re almost on Islay. Linoleum, a drop of paint thinner, fresh concrete… Mouth (neat): rich and powerful, rather citrusy this time. Icing sugar and grapefruit juice, plus the usual tarry side, and even a pinch of salt, margarita-style. With water: we’re rather sailing towards the Isle of Skye this time. Lemon, pepper and salt, but let’s not forget the tar. Finish: rather long with, just like in the LMdW, notes of passion fruits. Comments: in fact, this baby’s a little simpler than LMDW’s, but it’s also more satisfying because of the good strength. Bah, same score then… SGP:562 - 87 points.

Pusser’s ‘British Navy Blue Label’ (54.5%, OB, blended rum, +/-2013)

Pusser’s ‘British Navy Blue Label’ (54.5%, OB, blended rum, +/-2013) Two stars and a half There should be some Demerara in there, and rumour has it that it’s a blend of Trinidad and Guyana. Please note that this is the older version at 54.5%, they have now switched to a greedier 40% vol. version under the same name. Colour: full gold. Nose: well above the Wood’s, with rather more herbal notes, and less straight molasses and caramel. A little plastic, then parsley and there, olives. And something ‘Islay’ again, perhaps Lagavulin 16 indeed. I’m not joking. With water: a lot of plasticine and shoe polish coming through. Mouth (neat): very good, earthy, rich, perhaps a tad sugary at times, and extremely caramelised. That’s more difficult, I have to say. With water: bad luck, some sugar is to be felt. Otherwise, it’s fine, for sure. Finish: medium, very molassy, with now some coffee. Comments: a rollercoaster. This is not expensive rum, so I wouldn’t say there’s anything to complain about. SGP:641 - 78 points.

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March 17, 2017


Whiskyfun

Three nice Glen Elgin

I’ll say it, when anybody says White Horse, everybody’s thinking Lagavulin. And yet, there was probably more Glen Elgin than Lagavulin in those glorious old White Horses! There!

Glen Elgin 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2016)

Glen Elgin 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars‘Handcrafted’ says the label. Not totally sure about that bit… Colour: gold. Nose: ah yes, that awesome mentholy/malty honeyness… A blend of crème de menthe with Ovaltine and maple syrup. Now it does tend to become drier, a tad cardboardy and ‘toasty’, with more bitter almonds and fresh broken wood. Coffee beans, a little damp earth… Mouth: some two-phase malt. First honeyed and brioche-y, then much drier, with a lot of coffee, stout beer, malt, and nutmeg. Relatively un-commercial, I’d say, but I really enjoy these notes of spicy honey that are coming out. That’s our favourite, chestnut honey! Finish: medium, dry. Chicory and coffee, roasted malt, all that. Some ham in the rather bittersweet aftertaste. Comments: a peculiar dram, as they say in whisky blogs. Like this one better than earlier batches from a few years ago. SGP:361 - 82 points.

Glen Elgin 1998/2014 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry)

Glen Elgin 1998/2014 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill sherry) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s much softer than the OB, much more on cakes, pastries, shortbread, apple pie, milk chocolate… Having that, the kind of mentholy honeyness that we had found in the 12 is here as well. That’s nice. Mouth: more bittersweet than the OB, with much more liquorice, cassis jam (they make the best in Burgundy. No, really), and cinnamon cake. Notes of ripe white cherries floating around, which is totally nice in my book. Perhaps a little fennel and dill? Does that come from the wood? Good body, 46% always work. Finish: medium to long, with more cloves. Many more cloves, also caraway, also old walnuts. Oranges and malt in the aftertaste, always pleasant. Some cracked pepper too. Comments: I’m all in favour of this little bottling! SGP:461 - 84 points.

Glen Elgin 20 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Claxton’s, refill hogshead, 294 bottles)

Glen Elgin 20 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Claxton’s, refill hogshead, 294 bottles) Five stars I really enjoy what these good people in Yorkshire-up-there are doing. They’re always selecting interesting casks. Colour: pale gold. Nose: ah yes, it’s a turpentine-y one. I’m meaning good old natural turpentine, a painter’s workshop, linseed oil, oil paint, absinthe… Right, not absinthe, although, on second thought… This is really spectacular. Furniture polish, eucalyptus, cough syrup… What’s not to like? With water: cut grass the next day, menthol, mint tea (in the Sahara, ha-ha), mud and clay… Again, what’s not to like? Mouth (neat): just totally perfect. Mint, aniseed, liquorice, pinesap, spearmint, sagebrush, peppermint… Now if you would excuse me, I think I’m going to order a bottle… With water: superb! Apples baked with mint and liquorice. Have to try that one day. Finish: quite long, and very fresh, thanks to all this mint. Comments: bravo! I know, minimum service, but I really need to order a bottle… SGP:461 - 90 points.

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback

 

 

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March 16, 2017


Whiskyfun

A wee bag of blended malts

Not quite a proper tasting session, these are tasting notes that I took separately, more or less at random, whenever some ‘bastard’ whisky crossed my path. So, please take them with a grain of salt…

Johnnie Walker 15 yo ‘Green Label’ (43%, OB, blended malt, +/-2016)

Johnnie Walker 15 yo ‘Green Label’ (43%, OB, blended malt, +/-2016) Four stars Certainly the most famous blended malt ever. Intermittently available, it’s made a bold return last year. I used to have the Green Label at +/-84 points around ten years ago. Colour: pale gold. Nose: smoked ham everywhere, which comes a little unexpected. It seems that Diageo have made good use of their peaters! There’s also a lot of raw malt and a little coffee, and the whole remains quite mashy and porridge-y, with a style that’s not quite that of a ‘large-public bottling’. The smokiness tends to vanish, while the porridge gets more apparent. Mouth: rounder but not that round, smoky, slightly salty, a wee bit musty, and getting maltier by the minute. Pumpernickel, a little custard, some strong honey, and a little praline. The 43% vol. rather feel like 45%, really, so there’s plenty of body. Finish: rather long, with a touch of pepper and a malty smokiness. The expected marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: I had thought this baby would have been more ‘commercial’ (you know, smooth), but it’s not, not at all. Very well blended, in any case. SGP:452 - 85 points.

Sherry 15 yo (46%, Malts of Scotland, blended malt, +/-2016)

Sherry 15 yo (46%, Malts of Scotland, blended malt, +/-2016) Three stars A vatting of five different sherry casks from five different distilleries. Let’s see if this beats Johnnie… Colour: gold. Nose: a little rubber and gunpowder – nah, yeah, used matches – at first nosing, then rather cooked artichokes, leather, walnuts, and raw chocolate. Some earth as well, cured ham... Not an easy nose, this is even less ‘commercial’ than JW 15. Mouth: some ginger and some clay, some walnuts, toasted oak, those used matches again (a little rubber), a wee feeling of young armagnac (raisins, prunes), bitter oranges, more raw chocolate… Pretty nice, some sides remind me of Macallan 10 Cask Strength. Finish: rather long, a bit raw. Chlorophyll in the aftertaste. Comments: very fair and well composed, but perhaps rather for your hipflask. SGP:361 - 81 points.

Reference Series III (47.5%, Master of Malts, blended malt, 2014)

Reference Series III (47.5%, Master of Malts, blended malt, 2014) Three stars and a half It says Batch 1. I have to admit I’ve not quite understood what this was, all I know is that it was a rather pricey bottle, and that the label was rather lovely, if a bit ‘Game of Thrones’. Colour: gold. Nose: totally in the style of the Master of Malts 15 years old, that is to say a tad rubbery, very malty, slightly mustardy, certainly earthy, and quite leathery. A lot of raw chocolate again. I mean, actual chocolate, not what the multinationals are churning out. Mouth: once again we’re in similar territories, it’s all very malty, leathery, chocolaty, dry… In short, we’re rather having hyper-fortified bone-dry oloroso. Chocolate with bits of roasted walnuts inside and espresso. Finish: pretty long, and rather smoother, which is unusual. Some oranges appearing, as well as drops of cough syrup. Comments: I don’t quite know what to think. Yeah, it’s very good. SGP:462 - 83 points.

Big Peat (46%, Douglas Laing, blended Islay malt, +/-2016)

Big Peat (46%, Douglas Laing, blended Islay malt, +/-2016) Four stars A recent batch of Douglas Laing’s total hit showcasing that famous Captain Haddock look-alike. It’s still advertised as containing some Port Ellen, let’s see if we notice it. Of course I’m joking. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: by blending these young malts (well the PE can’t be young, can it), what you kind of do is erase the rawness, and probably gain a good five years of apparent age. In truth, this is very brilliant, and I’ll tell you what, should you need only one fresh and clean Islayer in your bar, better select this than any very young single malt. Really, yeah, Serge speaking. The blending clearly adds complexity in this case. Mouth: superb young clean ashy smoke with lemons and pears, although the pears remain discreet and are not shouting ‘I’m young!’ I hope you see what I mean. I also like this feeling of smoking a menthol cigarette – as far as I can remember from my younger days. Kool, Stuyvesant and all that. Finish: surprisingly un-long (yeah that means short), but perfectly chiselled. Pears, pineapples, ashes, smoke. Comments: I think the ones at cask strength are better, because you may need powah to stand the high peat levels, but anyone could watch whole seasons of Inspektor Derrick without falling asleep when sipping these very smart babies. Totally a fan of Big Peat. SGP:357 - 86 points.

Peat Chimney ‘Batch Strength ’ (57%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, batch No.1, 6000 bottles, 2016)

Peat Chimney ‘Batch Strength ’ (57%, Wemyss Malts, blended malt, batch No.1, 6000 bottles, 2016) Three stars Not too sure there is some Port Ellen in this one. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a little more ‘closed’ after Captain Haddock’s favourite, but that may be because of the much higher strength. Whiffs of tow, ink, charcoal, black pepper… Not very easy, let’s add water right away. With water: wet tweed, bordering wet dogs (we were about to be sorry, dogs). Mouth (neat): a little narrower than the Big Peat, as if they had used fewer distilleries, thus feeling rather younger. Sweet peat, as they say, pears, perhaps even bananas… With water: very good, just simple. Nice brine, though. Finish: medium and young. Comments: seriously good, but rather on the sweeter side, not unlike some very young Caol Ilas. Easy peat. SGP:446 - 82 points.

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

 

 

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March 15, 2017


Whiskyfun

Two 1990 Bladnoch

Since we had a harsh and tough Bladnoch session quite a few weeks ago, and whilst the new ‘square’ OBs never reached my doorstep (and while frankly, I’m not that interested anyway), I thought we could try to re-enhance the name’s reputation at WF Towers, with these two new indie 1990s. And let’s not forget that, good news, Bladnoch’s stills will be fired again this year.

Bladnoch 1990/2016 ‘Apple Syllabub’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 196 bottles)

Bladnoch 1990/2016 ‘Apple Syllabub’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, hogshead, 196 bottles) Four stars and a half It’s getting hard to find new names after a few hundred bottlings, isn’t it? Colour: straw. Nose: I doubt I’ve ever tried some syllabub, even after a long and shady London night, but if a syllabub noses like this Bladnoch, it’s a nice desert. Typical lemony nose, with added whiffs of lotus, jasmine, and probably an all-flower bouquet. Lemon curd, then more fresh oak, but without any very ordinary vanilla or coconut. Yeah! Mouth: wonderful and totally and utterly Bladnochian. So very citrusy, then a little herbal, then delicately mentholated. There is a little coconut this time, but we’re way below the limits of Malibu-ness. So to speak. Lemongrass, spearmint… I’m very fond of this palate. Finish: medium, very fresh, superbly citrusy/mentholy. Thyme tea. Comments: there used to be a 8 yo cream label that did taste like this, more or less. Me very happy to have found an excellent new natural Bladnoch. SGP:651 - 89 points.

Bladnoch 1990/2016 (47.2%, Sansibar and S Spirits Shop, sherry)

Bladnoch 1990/2016 (47.2%, Sansibar and S Spirits Shop, sherry) Five stars Sherry? Hope any fresh Bladnochness wasn’t lost, let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: not at all, the sherry’s whispering low, as dear Art Blakey would have said. Same wonderful fresh citrusy explosion, although this one would rather go towards oranges than lemons. Excuse me? Ah yes, grapefruits. Perhaps a little more earthy oak and tobacco, probably from the different wood. Mouth: exceptional arrival, very refreshing (which is very dangerous), on blue-green tea, grapefruits indeed, lime blossom tea, and the softest natural vanilla… Some greener notes do appear after one minute, but all of them are just as fresh. Apple peelings, fresh nuts (the sherry?)… What’s sure is that this is quite sublime. Finish: medium, gracefully herbal and lemony. Perfect bitterer aftertaste, with some menthol. You’re having some cough drop in your mouth. Comments: it sometimes reminded me of those brilliant 1988-1992 indie Irish. I hope the best indie bottlers will have more from these batches in 2017 (both the Irish and the Bladnochs ;-)). SGP:661 - 90 points.

Bladnoch has advanced dramatically in my little book today, thanks to Wemyss and Sansibar.

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback

Check Sophie Gamand's very funny wet dogs!

 

 

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


 

 

Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ardbeg 24 yo 1965/1990 (54.4%, Cadenhead, black dumpy, 75cl)

Ardbeg 22 yo 1965/1987 (46%, Cadenhead, sherry wood)

Bladnoch 1990/2016 (47.2%, Sansibar and S Spirits Shop, sherry)

Bowmore 17 yo 1998/2016 (57.4%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, refill barrel, #3.276, ‘Oysters in a thyme mignonette’, 114 bottles)

Emerald Isle 24 yo 1991/2016 (52.6%, Specialty Drinks, cask #8507)

Glen Elgin 20 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Claxton’s, refill hogshead, 294 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 1989/2016 (45.5%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 211 bottles)

Lagavulin 14 yo 1978/1992 (64.7%, Kingsbury, Japan, bourbon, cask #132)

Lagavulin 10 yo ‘Batch 2’ (53.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 239 bottles, 2016)

Lg6 (53.7%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2016)

Lochindaal 2009/2016 (65.7%, Caora, first fill bourbon, cask #r10/002-100, 343 bottles)

Macallan 25 yo 1965/1990 ‘Anniversary Malt’ (43%, OB, Giovinetti, 75 cl)

Port Ellen 32 yo 1983/2016 (54%, The Auld Alliance, Singapore, cask #001/508, 120 bottles)

Pride of Strathspey 50 yo 1937/1987 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Book of Kells, single malt, decanter, 75cl)

Russenschnaps (52.3%, Unicorn Production, Regensburger Whiskyclub, 294 bottles, 2015)

Hampden Estate 17 yo 2000/2017 (47.4%, Sansibar)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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