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Hi, you're in the Archives, March 2021 - Part 1

       

February 2021 - part 2 <--- March 2021 - part 1 ---> March 2021 - part 2

 

March 14, 2021


Whiskyfun

Armagnac in folie

It's armagnac's turn on this Sunday; armagnac where no one seems to care about packaging. It's true that many hate branding and overselling, but let's not forget that at their core, they are winemakers. It's also good that the US tariffs have been suspended by the way.

Domaine Boingneres 'Cépages Nobles' (48%, OB, bas-armagnac, +/-2020)

Domaine Boingneres 'Cépages Nobles' (48%, OB, bas-armagnac, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
What's a noble varietal? I only know of two of them, chardonnay and riesling, and I doubt they would use them in armagnac. And yes I am joking. Actually, they've used more or less what's common, namely folle blanche, colombard and ugni blanc. In France, vintage versions of Boingneres' 'Cépages Nobles' are much more common than this NAS that came from TWE's when they were still shipping outside Borisland. Colour: deep gold. Nose: modern, bright, nervous armagnac, far from the old-school coffee, chocolate, rancio and raisins. So in fact you could believe this is cognac, with stewed peaches and apricots, notes of dry Jurançon or pinot gris, some green tea, leaves, green melon, also wisteria and honeysuckle, heather honey, a little blond tobacco… Mouth: much sweeter than the nose suggested, and ridden with soft liquorice and coffee/toffee liqueur. That's spectacular, but I'm not sure I like it. Cinchona, pomegranate juice, Cointreau and liquorice, anyone? Finish: very long, thick, almost syrupy, rather on sweet caraway. Aquavit, A.H Riise's concoctions… Comments: I'm dead sure this is natural and that no unlawful obscuration's taken place. But it is one strange sweetish armagnac for sure. Sacrebleu!
SGP:740 - 78 points.

Domaine de Baraillon 35 ans (40%, OB, bas-armagnac, +/-2020)

Domaine de Baraillon 35 ans (40%, OB, bas-armagnac, +/-2020) Five stars
It's to be noticed that 'ans' means 'years', as any Francophile brandy lover will know. Also that, as the label tells us, this is 'Eau-de-Vie de France' and not eau-de-vie de California, de Russia or de China. Better safe than sorry, they also say. Colour: deep amber. Nose: oak's varnish, glue, acetone and ammonia. Hell, let's sleep on it… zzz.. zzz… Oh, ham, Grisons meat, teriyaki sauce, propolis and pollen, nori, hints of model glue, also pine honey… Mouth: superb varnish-oak-and-paint driven arrival, with amazing notes of old wine barrel – I mean, really old -  and rotting fruits (bananas, oranges, pineapples…) I mean, this is truly 'antique style', and having some family that used to grow and breed both corrida bulls and armagnacs down there in the Gers, I can tell you that there's no armagnac more traditional than this. It's just that they usually don't sell these and keep them for themselves. Loco brandy. Finish: more varnish and drier honeys. Curious salty aftertaste. Comments: no, really, they usually don't sell these, they tend to end up in the 'réserve de la famille'. I love this but I'd understand why you would not.
SGP:362 - 90 points.

Château de Lacaze 30 yo 1982/2012 (40.4%, Master of Malt, bas-armagnac)

Château de Lacaze 30 yo 1982/2012 (40.4%, Master of Malt, bas-armagnac) Three stars
MoM used to sell these for way less than £100 only a few years ago. Which is less than today's shipping costs and taxes, well quite. Thank you Brexvid (combines Brexit and Covid). We're in the Landes this time, while Lacaze is often to be found at the good négociants, such as Gélas. Colour: reddish amber. Nose: dry nose, on varnish again, paint, putty, Woolite, Lindt's milk chocolate, orange blossom, panettone, chamomile, rooibos… It's pretty complex, light, perhaps not hugely assertive and self-confident… But there, it's just booze… Mouth: good, a tad on varnishes at first, then rather on stewed peaches, peach and apricot jams, liquorice, argan oil, hoisin sauce (fermented plums) and mead. A dry one, exactly the contrary of the sweetish Boingneres. Finish: good, rather traditional, a little leafy. Liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: like this one too, I just don't find it very memorable, at 30.
SGP:451 - 81 points.

Armagnac 45 yo 1975/2020 (47.9%, Asta Maurice, cask # AMF001, 150 bottles)

Armagnac 45 yo 1975/2020 (47.9%, Asta Maurice, cask # AMF001, 150 bottles) Five stars
Asta Maurice is Asta Morris, got it? But no clues wrt what this is, except that it's pretty old. Now, anyone would trust this bottler (having said that, I have photographs of a certain evening at the Hollywood Savoy in Paris and… I'll say no more. Yet. Maurice, the account numbers at UBS Lausanne been have sent via email.) Colour: amber. Nose: similar cellulosic varnish, pine resin, then puréed chestnuts, then pine needles, then stewed peaches, then pinecones, then black Corinth currants, then a well-taken-care-of humidor, then prune juice, then Crimean late-harvest small-grain muscat (what?)  Mouth: oh very good, with the right amounts of mentholy varnish at first, then prunes and peaches, stewed, black raisins, certainly a few cls of old rancio, drops of old pine liqueur, some dry acidic coffee, lemon caviar (a few grans), and clearly an old V.O.R.S. side, which would include both old PX and moscatel. Finish: long, always with these tiny varnishy notes that keep it nervous and reactive. Old barrels in the aftertaste. Comments: just excellent. Now as for these pictures in Paris, we need to talk…
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Aurian 1967/2021 (49%, Wu Dram Clan, armagnac, 144 bottles)

Aurian 1967/2021 (49%, Wu Dram Clan, armagnac, 144 bottles) Four stars
Aurian are located in Condom, Gers, but this is no French letter mind you. Valentin speaking. Aurian's an old name but I believe they've been recently revived. Having said that, 1967 reeks of the early Pink Floyd, of the Beatles, of the Stones, of Procol Harum… Agreed, maybe not Procol Harum. Colour: amber. Nose: gewurztraminer, petit manseng, tangerines, lilac, orange blossom, rapeseed oil, liquorice wood, asparagus. No you can't do any better. Mouth: it's got armagnac's rusticity at first, including a peppery and grassy sourness, but it's also got a spectacular tropical development, on (almost) rotting pineapples and passion fruits, as well as bananas. Perhaps a bit shaky here and there, while gewurztraminer's never too far away and while wood varnishes are about to take the lead. Oh, and 1967, that's also Brigitte Bardot's Harley-Davidson. Finish: medium, between bitter almonds, green pepper, and green walnuts. Bitter aftertaste, chlorophyll... Comments: very good, just a tad challenging. The finish is more difficult, I wouldn't have waited, this one was more than 'ready'.
SGP:371 - 86 points.

(Thanks Tim)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all armagnac we've tasted so far

 

March 13, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
A clutch of Clynelish plus a bonus
It has been a Clynelish kind of a week, as in: I could really go for a Clynelish right about now! Not that you ever really need any excuse that is. This is one of several key lessons I've taken away from Serge over the years. Another being how to make fondue, but that's another story… It looks like Serge also wrote notes for a few of these quite recently, which seems to occasionally happen, and shouldn't really be a surprise when we quite often get sent the same samples.

 

Clynelish 10 yo 2010/2020 (57.4%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #700051, barrel, 228 bottles)

Clynelish 10 yo 2010/2020 (57.4%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #700051, barrel, 228 bottles)
This one was bottled exclusively for the USA I believe. Colour: pale straw. Nose: slightly dusty at first, but then quickly opens and becomes rather creamy with obvious vanilla tones. I would not say it is factor 11 Clynelish, but it's very elegant with these wee notes of bubblegum, gorse flower and sandalwood. With water: lemony, fresh, chalky, citric and with a crisp cereal note and some yeasty aspects too. Mouth: as with the nose this is a sweeter and lighter style Clynelish, but there's this rather direct bubblegum note - which I enjoy - and more notes of gorse flower, canvass, muddled herbs and some grassy olive oil. With water: there's some elegant waxiness coming through now, along with some rather evocative and medical herbal notes such as wintergreen and myrtle. Heather honey, shilling ales and a little umami miso note. Finish: medium, lightly drying, peppery, gently herbal and some trace vanilla still lingering. Comments: Clynelish factor 6 I would say. It's a lovely drop, but we've had better 2010s.
SGP: 641 - 85 points.

 

 

Clynelish 10 yo 2010/2020 (57.5%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #700050, barrel)

Clynelish 10 yo 2010/2020 (57.5%, Elixir Distillers 'The Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #700050, barrel)
Colour: pale straw. Nose: fresher, more on fabrics, chalk, green and white fruits, rubbed lemon skins and putty. There remains a slight dustiness in the background. Also some grassy and bubblegum notes. The Clynelishness remains similarly subtle. With water: canvass, white bread, some nicely bitter ales, putty again, some camphor. Nice, easy, laid back Clynelish. Mouth: a rather active cask again that offers us spiced vanilla cream, American cream soda, nutmeg, some melon, barley water, sunflower oil, shoe polish and sweet cereals dusted with icing sugar. There is a soft waxiness but it's rather muted. The Clynelish 'accent' is getting a little lost in here. With water: feels drier, leaner and little punchier when diluted, moves more towards peppery and cereal tones and there's a little more overall waxy punch. Finish: good length, lemony, fresh, chalky, mineral and with more bubbly fruitiness. Comments: I prefer this one ever so slightly, but I generally want a bit more 'Clynelish' from my Clynelish.
SGP: 551 - 86 points.

 

 

Lynch Isle 20 yo 2000/2020 (53.3%, North Star, sherry butt & Portuguese brandy butt finish, 693 bottles)

Lynch Isle 20 yo 2000/2020 (53.3%, North Star, sherry butt & Portuguese brandy butt finish, 693 bottles)
I think we can safely assume this was once Clynelish, but has it survived this pincer movement finishing? Let's see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: it's like many of the casks from this 2000 batch of 'Lynch Isle', it's not exactly like the classical Lynch Isle we all know and love. There's waxiness and salinity but a hugely bready, doughy aspect as well. Rye bread spices, pumpkinseed oil and big notes of strong olive oil. I don't detect much from the finish thus far. With water: wet bracken, musty earthen cellars, tobacco pouch, brown bread and canvass. Boisterous but undeniably very good. Mouth: big, sharp, spicy, prickly and with many wee sooty notes that threaten to tip over into a nicely lean and flinty smokiness. A few spiced and preserved fruits that hint at things like brandy and old sherry I suppose. Either way, a skilful hopscotch with casks I think. With water: we're really into oils, breads, mechanical rags, baking parchment, wee medicinal touches and this ever-persistent spiciness. Feels younger and stronger than it is, but that's no criticism. Finish: long, bready, oily and with this very savoury and succulent umami and herbal quality. Comments: I can't wait to visit Lynch Isle distillery again after lockdown. Take a tour, enjoy a bowl of their trademark porridge vindaloo, visit their new Port bodega and maybe even go on the Tuk Tuk rides once again. Here's to the future!
SGP: 562 - 88 points.

 

 

Clynelish 21 yo 1999/2020 (57.6%, Elixir Distillers '21 years of friendship', cask #305054, sherry butt, 380 bottles)

Clynelish 21 yo 1999/2020 (57.6%, Elixir Distillers '21 years of friendship', cask #305054, sherry butt, 380 bottles)
Bottled to celebrate 21 years of friendship between TWE founder Sukhinder Singh and Toru Suzuki from The Mash Tun in Tokyo. Colour: deep orangey gold. Nose: an extremely aromatic and scented profile at first. I don't think sherry and Clynelish usually pair too well (as Serge has already said on these pages more than a few times I suppose) but the initial impression here is one of peaches, nectarines, pot pourri, dried flowers, tangerine peel, Earl Grey tea and crystallised citrus fruits. I find it really enchanting so far, with a sense of the distillate and sherry getting along extremely well together - but then again, I suppose it is supposed to be about friendship. With water: fresher and lighter on its feet now, it becomes more about breads, savoury pastries, more of these dried floral notes, more teas, exotic ones this time, and hints of wild strawberry and dried raspberry. Mouth: big, leathery, spicy and syrupy but also with an immediate fruitiness that takes in blood orange sorbet, juniper, dried mango, melon and papaya. Strawberry jam, red fruit teas and a touch of chocolate liqueur. The waxiness of the Clynelish feels more like a syrupiness here, conjoining with all these jams and fruits from the sherry in an unusual but beautiful fashion. With water: juicy, increasingly jammy, syrupy, fruity and showing all of these very fleshy and pulpy ripe fruit qualities. The sweetness remains wonderfully natural and there's this warm glow of pepper and wax from the Clynelish behind it all. Finish: long, full of red and green fruit cordials, various teas, herbal infusions, pomegranate syrup, strawberry wine and even gummy bears. Comments: in some ways it is an unusual Clynelish, but the overall impression is of a superbly fresh, fruity and distinctly complex malt that reveals itself in many layers and works well with a little water. Undeniably a worthy dram for celebrating a long friendship I'd say, and a rare example of Clynelish and sherry working in harmony.
SGP: 651 - 91 points.

 

 

Clynelish 1972 (57.6%, Cadenhead 'White label', cask #5645, sherry, early 1990s)

Clynelish 1972 (57.6%, Cadenhead 'White label', cask #5645, sherry, early 1990s)
Another of this series which was done for Oddbins I believe. Colour: deep mahogany. Nose: mahogany indeed! Rosewood too, along with other ancient varnished hardwoods, old furniture oils, pot pourri, waxes, liquorice and verbena. I find this batch of casks rather an extreme and individualistic take on Clynelish, one of the few examples where sherry seems to work. Although, you really have to be in the mood to wrestle with this kind of beast. Strong fruit teas, waxed canvass, natural tar, green walnut liqueur, aniseed bitters, shoe polish, stropping leather and vapour rubs. Hugely impressive, but a demanding and challenging dram. With water: a little easier with all these quite gloriously scented and aromatic hardwoods, dried flowers, aged orange peels, (cheng pi?) and umami sauce. Also things like caraway, venison salami and toasted fennel seed. Mouth: rose syrup, strawberry wine, fruit cordials and walnut oil. Salted liquorice, natural tar, wood resins, black coffee and quince. Many dark fruits stewing in old Cognac, some peppery tannins grip around the edges as well with a hint of caramelising muscovado sugar. With water: easier and more luscious now. Lots of red fruit jams and cordials. Rose syrup, Turkish delight, aniseed, cough mixtures, herbal bitters and many old school ointments and medicines. Finish: long, leathery, earthy and bursting with leaf mulch, tobacco, espresso, rancio and bitter herbal liqueurs. Comments: These are tough casks in my view, and in some ways it may be slaughtering a sacred cow or two, but there are aspects which are a little too challenging at times. However, they remain unequivocally impressive with their sheer force of personality.
SGP: 572 - 91 points.

 

 

While we're in town, why not…

 

 

Brora 29 yo 1972/2002 (51.0%, Douglas Laing, Old and Rare 'Platinum', 228 bottles)

Brora 29 yo 1972/2002 (51.0%, Douglas Laing, Old and Rare 'Platinum', 228 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: if you could peat smoke some camphor in a kiln… that familiar and pretty sublime mix of oily sheep wool, putty, gelatinous peat smoke, waxed canvass, medical vapour rubs and many wee flinty and brighter mineral tones jangling in the background. Mineral salts, beach foam, distant farmyard, putty, iodine. Really, it's the complexity that gets me every time with these early 70s Broras. With water: sandalwood and a more coastal accented aroma that includes ramen broth with seaweed, beach sand, coastal flowers and then a more assertive farmyard note. Mouth: feels light on arrival but the oiliness of the distillate and the peat smoke is wonderfully palpable. There's an encroaching herbaceous quality that rises gently in the background, herbal toothpaste and herbal smoke, medicines, tar extract, lemon infused olive oil, umami broth and bouillon. It's not the most showstopping 1972 Brora, but it possesses an easiness and a directness of flavour that is utterly charming and luminously pleasurable. With water: sharper, saltier, fresher, more coastal and this sense of youthfulness. Dried herbs, heather flowers, bitter ales, miso, tar, hessian and camphor again. Just totally beautiful really. Finish: long, the smoke is rather dense and quilted but not at all harsh, everything is very silky, perfectly balanced and - dare I say it - smooth. Briny and smoked olive oil notes in the aftertaste. Comments: At times you might think this one was fragile but it always comes back and re-asserts itself in new ways. Another sublime and utterly distinctive 1972 Brora.
SGP: 575 - 93 points.

 

 

Big thanks to Iain!

 

 

 

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Clynelish we've tasted so far

 

March 11, 2021


Whiskyfun

Littlemill times three

I always like to try the old Lowlanders, sadly there aren't many around anymore.

Littlemill 1992 (40%, James McAllister's Selection, 20cl, +/-2000)

Littlemill 1992 (40%, James McAllister's Selection, 20cl, +/-2000) Two stars and a half
An old wee bottle I had bought when Glen Katrine used to (try to) invade the shelves of our supermarkets with many strange Glen Scotias and Littlemills. It was a tri-pack with some Tomatin too. It's to be remembered that no one was caring for Littlemill back then. Colour: gold. Nose: herbal teas, flowers and exotic fruits, with a wee medicinal side around camphor? Hey hey! I wasn't expecting much but this is nice. Dandelions and jasmine, ylang-ylang, mangos and bananas, patchouli… Having said that, when patchouli comes out on the nose, that's not obligatorily a good sign… Mouth: starts citrusy, which is always very nice, but becomes pretty bitter, a little too leafy, resinous, too much on turmeric and ginseng tea. At least this should cure any small diseases we would have - unknowingly. No, not Covid-19 I'm afraid. It's almost as if it was slightly corked. Finish: short, grassy, but with good citrus in the background. Lemon drops. Comments: a rather average young Littlemill from the very last years.
SGP:561 - 78 points.

Another, older 1992 please…

Littlemill 27 yo 1992/2020 (52.3%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 260 bottles)

Littlemill 27 yo 1992/2020 (52.3%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 260 bottles) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: pure pink bananas, maracuja, mangos, and just a touch of sunflower oil and grenadine. Classic ueber-fruity Littlemill that needs no further comments, although we could add that it's very reminiscent of those indie Bushmills that had been distilled around the same period of time, this Littlemill being just a little oilier and leafier. With water: honeysuckle and lime blossom, a drop of grape pip oil, one of almond milk. Mouth (neat): superlatively fruity! Huge oranges, bananas, papayas, hint of Melissa tea, and of course, mangos. Lovely touches of earth. With water: do not ad too much water to these old fruit-bombs, they may get a little too leafy. Finish: long and more herbal, with drops of non-destemmed marc and green bananas. Comments: just superb, but just don't add any water, the trick is tricky. Oh well you see what I mean.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Another recent one to make this a trio…

Littlemill 30 yo 1988/2019 (55.3%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 85 bottles)

Littlemill 30 yo 1988/2019 (55.3%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 85 bottles) Five stars
A very small outturn but the strength is right. Colour: pale gold. Nose: well this is not a fruit bomb at all this time, rather a combination of many soft herbal teas, including tea. Some hay, chamomile, a little wormwood, woodruff, cinnamon sticks, Wulong tea, some green tobacco, balsa wood, praline, pistachios… It's all very subtle, delicate, almost evanescent globally. With water: perhaps a little more banana skin, white asparagus, more green tea, whiffs of moss… A very elegant nose that requests your attention. Mouth (neat): more fruits right from the start, especially blood oranges and pink grapefruits, with a lovely acidic sourness, then a very sauvignon-blanc-y development, you would almost believe you're in Sancerre. The chalkiness is pretty perfect. With water: yess! More chalk, stems, lemons, green tea, even clean lees and green bananas. And a clear feeling of high-end Wulong indeed. Finish: medium, on pretty much the same delicate flavours. Only the aftertaste is a tad leafier, but it's a thirty, is it not. Comments: another side of Littlemill, after the lovely fruity TWA. Same ballpark, as far as quality's concerned.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

(Thank you KC!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Litltemill we've tasted so far

 

March 10, 2021


Whiskyfun

Three More Dalmore

One OB and two IBs, fine with that?

Dalmore 10 yo 2009 (42.5%, OB, +/-2020)

Dalmore 10 yo 2009 (42.5%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
Rather sadly, this vintage expression is just a finishing. I would preserve the natural side of a vintage expression, but there, they may have used refill sherry.  Colour: gold. Nose: hurray, this is a lovely nose, fresh, rather complex, not too sherried, but with nice walnuts and various herbal teas on top of the oranges and plums. It's pretty floral too, with peonies I would say, also honey and vanilla, probably from the previous containers (fresh American oak I suppose). Quite a lot of nougat too. A pretty nose for sure, but we know that theses combinations, the devil lies on the palate. Mouth: honeys, marmalade, raisins, walnut cake, black tea, marzipan, bitter chocolate, cloves. Oh so very Dalmore. No leafy bitterness in this one, it all went smoothly this time. Finish: medium, rather sweet (crystallised oranges) and with quite some nougat or turon. A moderate amount of cinnamon and clove in the aftertaste, and just a little hint of bitter tobacco. Comments: yesterday's Quintet was a little more to my liking, but I'm still much pleased with this one. They know how to do these things, don't they.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Dalmore 11 yo 2007/2018 (55.1%, Hart Bros., 'First Port Pipe Filled')

Dalmore 11 yo 2007/2018 (55.1%, Hart Bros., 'First Port Pipe Filled') Four stars
Glad to see Hart Bros. kicking around whiskydom, but what does First Port Pipe Filled actually mean? Was it the first time ever that anyone filled a Port pipe? (LOL), or was this baby first filled in Port, then in something else? Or the opposite? Any ideas? Colour: straw. Nose: well I do not get much Port – or was it white Port – rather vanilla and subtle yellow fruits. Yellow peaches, some popcorn and nougat, sweet maize bread, then a little pomegranate and white currants perhaps, also dandelions and other wild yellow flowers (buttercups)… With water: more sweet breads and restrained fruits. I'm thinking preserved greengages, for example. Mouth (neat): eau-de-vie-ish! Kirsch and plum spirit, white armagnac (blanche), some limoncello, green apple liqueur, some syrups… I sure don't get much Port here. Not that I'm about to complain… With water: barley syrup, more sweet plums, tinned fruits, some puréed apples perhaps. Finish: medium, fruity, syrupy (in a good way), very pleasant. Comments: very good, all natural, textured Dalmore, but I couldn't detect the slightest touch of Port. Not that I've tried too hard, mind you. Oh and I saw no oranges either. So a very good, very atypical Dalmore.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Dalmore 14 yo 2005/2020 (57.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon, cask #1600212, 255 bottles)

Dalmore 14 yo 2005/2020 (57.6%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, refill bourbon, cask #1600212, 255 bottles) Three stars
Colour: straw.  Nose: not much I'm afraid. Some burnt notes and some grass, a little rubber, hay, sugarcane syrup… Hello? This baby's surprisingly shy I would say. Water may wake it up, let's see… With water: certainly! Oranges and tangerines, that's what I was expecting. Having said that, it remains ueber-simple for Dalmore, almost binary. But I agree, better oranges than cod oil. Ha. Mouth (neat): a little hot, burning, grassy, with sour fruits it seems… I do seem to detect Dalmore's oranges, but I'm not even sure. With water: way, way nicer. Freshly squeezed oranges, pink grapefruits, touch of liquorice, cardamom, turmeric… Tends to become rather bitter after say twenty seconds. Finish: long, green a little bitter. More turmeric, grapefruit skin, green walnuts. Comments: an austere tipple that's perhaps not the most rewarding Dalmore ever. Has its charms though.
SGP:361 - 80 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Dalmore we've tasted so far

 

March 9, 2021


Whiskyfun

Jazzy Dalmores

Why wouldn't we do a few Dalmore? While hoping that we'll find a majority of ex-refill wood, since as I always say, Dalmore's a wonderful spirit and I find it sometimes a pity when it's been too seasoned with unlikely wines and woods. The Doritos way… At least they don't do what some new cats are doing nowadays, ex-peat, ex-PX, ex-oloroso, ex-bourbon and ex-Port. And sometimes ex-Sauternes and ex-Madeira. At least most don't do Zin, but distillery character, ha-ha. Anyway…

Dalmore 'The Trio' (40%, OB, travel retail, 1l, +/-2020)

Dalmore 'The Trio' (40%, OB, travel retail, 1l, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
Crikey, I had hoped this series was named after jazz bands or something like that, but that's rather the number of different casks the whiskies have been treated with. Ouch! So this time, the 'trio' consisted in first fill Port, first fill bourbon, and first fill sherry. NAS, naturally, but let's be serious, this could work. Colour: gold. Nose: blimey, this works indeed, as Dalmore's trademark oranges are singing loud right from the start. Lovely notes of acacia honey, a few juicy golden sultanas, juicy ripe peaches, a tiny touch of mint, some mirabelles for sure, drops of IPA and custard… It is, indeed, very 'Dalmore' and perfectly fresh. Mouth: we're going down three stairs at least, this is much more on leaves and leather, with a little cardamom, chlorophyll, and really a lot of bitterness. Very bitter ale. We were having high hopes after the nose, but were disappointed. To be honest, this happens with many pedestrian 'entry-level' OBs. Finish: medium grassy, bitter. No marmalade though. Unpleasant leathery aftertaste. Comments: really, the nose was lovely, but as far as trios go, I'm afraid this was more ZZ Top than one of Bill Evans'. No jazz indeed.
SGP:361 - 78 points.

Let's add an instrument. I mean, only a cask (I'm afraid…)

Dalmore 'The Quartet' (41.5%, OB, travel retail, 1l, +/-2020)

Dalmore 'The Quartet' (41.5%, OB, travel retail, 1l, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
We're granted with one more wood and some extra 1.5% vol. Wow, this is generous! Actually, this is a typical Dalmore-y recipe, with some Cabernet-Sauvignon, two old VORS-like sherries, and some first-fill bourbon yet again. We know about the ages of the sherries (30 years) but not about the age of this whisky, how bizarre isn't it. Let's hope there's a majority of bourbon. Colour: gold. Nose: once again, the nose is wonderful, this time with Corinth raisins, preserved apricots, roasted nuts, black nougat, rather heavier chestnut honey, and just a tiny touch of gunpowder or struck matches. No problems. Oh and dried figs and the usual Grand-Marnier. So far, so lovely. Mouth: not this time, things happen smoothly, with jams, bags of raisins, dried dates and figs, and rather a little chocolate and coffee, Jaffa cakes, damson plums, then the usual cloves, star anise and cinnamon. Finish: medium, this time a little leathery again, with some tobacco, tea, ginger… But we're way above the trio. The aftertaste is a little too bitter again. Comments: a much better band, I mean whisky in my opinion, even if it is not the John Coltrane Quartet, naturally. Let's ask Miles Davis and his quintet what they thinks…
SGP:561 - 84 points.

Dalmore 'The Quintet' (44.5%, OB, 70cl, +/-2020)

Dalmore 'The Quintet' (44.5%, OB, 70cl, +/-2020) Four stars
A strange set-up this time, with some ex-Madeira, ex-muscat (which muscat?), ex-Port, ex-Cabernet-Sauvignon, and ex-30yo matusalem sherry. One, two, three… right, that's five casks, and 3 more % alc./vol., thank you. What's the world up to these days? Colour: deep gold. Nose: less bright, fruity and fresh than the Quartet, and even more on dried fruits, fruitcake, figs, raisins, and something that's not uncommon with these kinds of wine-heavy combinations, brandy, especially cognac. In truth you'd be forgiven for thinking this is VSOP cognac. Mouth: haven't they tried to replicate cognac indeed? I don't know if that's the muscat in the mixture, could be. Raisins, peaches, touches of mint, touches of liquorice, some violet sweets, aniseed drops, some chocolate from the woods (some French oak involved?) and some oranges and agave syrup. I find it to my liking. Finish: medium, sweeter and rounder, with good honey, liquorice, jams, a touch of mocha in the aftertaste… Comments: this one's very good, you just have to forget about how they made it. You know what they say, there are two things you do not want to see being made, the law and sausages. I would add some whiskies to that rule…
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Miles Davis used to say that if you do a mistake while playing jazz, just repeat it and people will believe you did it on purpose. Isn't it the same with some whiskies? Good, so we'll have three more Dalmores right tomorrow…

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Dalmore we've tasted so far

 

March 8, 2021


Whiskyfun

Some Macallan

Having a few Macallans is a compulsory theme when you're some kind of whisky blogger, like it or not. Let's see what we have… Oh why not have a trio of entry-level 12s?

Macallan 12 yo 'Fine Oak' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Macallan 12 yo 'Fine Oak' (40%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
This is the expression that made us all cry and cringe when it first came out, around fifteen years ago. This was, I quote, 'matured in a selection of American and European oak casks seasoned with Sherry, as well as American oak casks seasoned with bourbon'. So a matter of seasoning… I last tried this expression in 2017 and had though it was extremely 'meh'. But time is progress. Colour: straw. Nose: no quibblings, this is fresh, cake-y, sightly fat, with touches of suet and paraffin, otherwise fresh croissants and sunflower oil. Overripe apples, a little menthol. I'm surprised, positively. Mouth: not bad at all, and not even weak at 40% vol. Good notes of beers, cakes, sweet breads, with a little rye and liquorice, which was not expected, gingerbread, and those lovely cookies our deer neighbours the Swiss are making in Basel, Läckerli! Finish: medium, clean, with even more rye and something that reminds me of Eddu's Breton buckwheat 'whisky'. Comments: excellent surprise. I could quaff this, and even find a wee 'craft' side to it. Did they change the recipe? Up from 76 points to no less than…
SGP:451 - 83 points.

Macallan 12 yo 'Sherry Oak' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Macallan 12 yo 'Sherry Oak' (40%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars
Last time I tried those 12s this 'sherry' version was way better than the Fine Oak. So in theory, this should have gotten stellar (hold your horses, S.) The price, just south of 100€, does not make any sense having said that, even if Mac is an obvious Veblen brand. Colour: deep gold. Nose: things change and we change. I like the FO's freshness rather better, while this has something burnt and rubbery. Having said that the sherry was of good quality, I'm even finding notes of botrytis (noble rot). I-am-no-joking. Earl grey, malt, roasted raisins. Mouth: no, it's a good drop, no question about that. It's a little rough around the edges, but walnuts abound and indeed the earthier and more orangey sherry did a fine job. Cakes and biscuits, slightly overburnt in the oven. Finish: rather long but loses points here because of a rubbery bitterness in the background. But it's good. Some thick sweet wok sauce in the aftertaste. Comments: it's good for sure but this time, oh shock oh horror, I think I liked the FO a little better.
SGP:451 - 82 points.

Let's double the oak…

Macallan 12 yo 'Double Cask' (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Macallan 12 yo 'Double Cask' (40%, OB, +/-2020) Two stars and a half
I last tried this one in 2016 and had though it was very lousy (WF 76). They have this at Amazon's these days, always a terrible sign. Has it got that bad? Colour: gold. Nose: dishonest notes of toasted oak, chicory, Starbucks' macchiato, and just that Saturday morning at Ikea's. Whisky made in the lab, as they say, very dispensable. Mouth: better on the palate, because we do enjoy our breads, toasted woods, roasted raisins and nuts, and ginger-led spice mixes. But it is soulless malt whisky; I mean, there is no signs of any forms of any distillate character here. Finish: medium, toasted, a little green. Comments: some Macallan that's a little 'world'. Could be large-batch Kavalan (I know I'm being harsh now) but it's got no conversation.
SGP:451 - 77 points.

Macallan 'Classic Cut 2020' (55%, OB)

Macallan 'Classic Cut 2020' (55%, OB) Two stars and a half
No age but this is limited, you understand. Now the 2018 was good (WF 82). I have to say the wording 'Classic Cut' works very well with me, it reminds of when I was smoking those fine British cigarettes, Craven A, Gold Leaf, Senior Service, John Player Special, Benson's red box, Lambert & Butler… In short, the good old times… Colour: gold. Nose: the double oak (was it double cask?) only with more depth, nuts, spices, stuff from the woods, mosses, teas, mushrooms, mint… With water: okay. Walnut stain, plywood, MDM, more Ikea, a little shoe polish. That's nicer. Mouth (neat): rather hot, but really spicy, with a lot of oak influence. Nothing wrong with that of course, but the distillate is of no importance whatsoever here and I'd swear you could make this anywhere in this world, from Tasmania to Nova Scotia. Where's the Scotchness? With water: same feelings. Bitter oranges, oak spices, kirsch. Finish: rather long, eau-de-vie-ish beyond the fresh oak. Comments: nothing classic in this Classic Cut. Too much oak. This is 'world whisky'. Oak will kill and burry Scotch whisky (hold your horses, S.!).
SGP:471 – 78 points.

Perhaps an indie…

Blended Scotch Whisky 38 yo 1980 (48.6%, C. Dully Selection, sherry hogshead, cask #23, 230 bottles)

Blended Scotch Whisky 38 yo 1980 (48.6%, C. Dully Selection, sherry hogshead, cask #23, 230 bottles) Four stars
Right, Edrington, owners of Macallan, seem to have parted with many older casks a while back, many having found their ways to Asia. They now come out as either 'Blended Malt' or 'Blended Scotch', if not simply 'Macallan' in China, while rumour has it that they're all second-tier Macallans indeed.  And we agree, rumours kill. Colour: amber. Nose: to be honest I would say this is a blend indeed, as I do find some varnishy notes of old grain whiskies, with some coconut wine and even whiffs of nail polish remover. Some patchouli and potpourri too, but I believe it's not malty enough to be qualified as, err, obvious malt whisky – let alone Macallan. Mouth: better, much better, more intriguing, leafy, mushroomy, with old oils and waxes, phenols, Thai sauces, coriander, Thai basil, chicken soup, coconut wine, eggplant, artichokes, green pepper… I would wager that's it is all from the oak. Finish: long, rather on sour oaks. Comments: intriguing's the keyword here. Was it a blend or a single malt? Have they been Tamdhu-ised? Blended away indeed? Will the ones who know ever talk?
SGP:661 - 87 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Macallan we've tasted so far

 

March 7, 2021


Whiskyfun

Caution

A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!

 

Rhum for your sum

I agree that headline is lousy. But so are many rums these days, I'm even wondering if rum's not a 'lost category' with many missed opportunities. Having said that, only sales figures count…  

Don Papa 'MassKara' (40%, OB, Philippines, +/-2020)

Don Papa 'MassKara' (40%, OB, Philippines, +/-2020)
The newish brand 'Don Papa' has become synonymous with 'junk' or 'fake' rum, which has been a blessing for other very wacky and dodgy brands such as Diplomatico, Dictador and all the rotgut they pull out of the DomRep such as Oliver & Oliver's and others. Esclavo, Marti, Bolivar… We're still awaiting a 'Guevara' brand, are we not? Bottom line, sugar kills. Colour: gold. Nose: LOL. Pear cake, mandarin liqueur, Mandarine Impériale, Cointreau… But certainly not rum. This is to rum what MacDo's Double Quarter Pounder With Cheese is to western gastronomy. Forgot to mention Toplexil and kids' toothpaste. Mouth: holy featherless crow, what a liqueur! Even Starbucks wouldn't sell it, but to be honest, it's got some charming sides, it's just that it's a liqueur and in no way a rum. Finish: long, very sweet, but also finely citrusy. Comments: let us be honest, this is not a bad drink and I'd even quaff this with pleasure, on a ton of crush ice, around the pool and with young friends. It is just not rum; I'd put it in the same category as Campari's. But bad it is not, honestly. Now as for playing with words and the name 'Mascara', where they used to produce the best wines on northern Africa, I'm not sure that's a very smart idea… Try to find a rare old bottle of 'Coteaux de Mascara' and you'll see what I mean.
SGP:840 - 65 points.

Off to La Réunion…

Savanna 5 yo 'Unshared Cask' (50%, OB, Salon du Rhum Belgique 2021, cognac cask, 840 bottles, 2020)

Savanna 5 yo 'Unshared Cask' (50%, OB, Salon du Rhum Belgique 2021, cognac cask, 840 bottles, 2020) Four stars
Some say savanna is the best rum in the Indian Ocean, and that's most probably true. I mean, it is true for sure. Dead sure. Colour: gold. Nose: too easy after the Don Papa! Seriously, this is very traditional rum, rather on overripe bananas and just cane juice, with a wee petroly side – just what's needed -  and really a deep feeling of 'rum français'. With water: carbon, tar, brine, capers, new Formica, olives. Classic. Mouth (neat): great classic French rum, grassy, fatter, a tad medicinal, also with wee notes of smoked fish and certainly some green olives. A little varnish too, which belongs here, and some tar that's certainly not unwanted. Good highish esters. With water: saltier yet, with tars and olives. Finish: long, very 'Antilles', while we all know the Antilles are located around twenty thousand kilometres away from La Réunion. Kind of and anyway, it's all a matter of spirit. Comments: cool, dry, and good. Fond of the olives in  there.
SGP:362 - 86 points.

Caroni 1997/2020 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency, Keep Going, 262 bottles)

Caroni 1997/2020 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency, Keep Going, 262 bottles) Five stars
Let's not forget that when Caroni is good, it is actually magnificent when you just cut any ambient BS. Colour: amber. Nose: it is a softer, leafier Caroni, rather on tobaccos (ever visited a tobacco factory?) and smoked herbs and fish. Smoked oysters, smoked tea, smoked butter (Monsieur Bordier's), shoe polish and brand new leatherette. Junk plastic stuff you would have ordered from Wish's. Don't. Mouth: oh! Stunning high-extraction pine resins, sauna oils, retsina wine, hashish, Bakelite, a drop of acetone, new plastics, heavily salted Dutch liquorice… With water:  just more of all that. Totally extreme, tarry, 'chemical', possibly stuff bottled for the board at British Petroleum. Finish: long and very tarry. Comments: extreme rum, ridden with chemicals and wrong intentions. I'm no rum guy but I've heard some gals or  guys mention the word 'pirate'. Not my thing but I would say this, is a pirate's rum.
SGP:273 - 90 points.

Off to pastures new...

El Destilado de Panela (43.15%, OB, Mexico, +/-2020)

Aguardiente de Panela (43.15%, OB, Mexico, +/-2020) Two stars
What is this? Panela is solid concentrated cane juice obtained by cooking, so some kind of unrefined sugar 'bread'. It's also called 'galabé' in some French islands. Let's try to find out… What's sure is that it is white. Colour: white. Nose: eggplants, capers, olives, carbon paper, cucumber, cabbage. This might be existential, unnecessary, anecdotal, and forgettable. Mouth: yes and not. Yes because it is funny. No because it's is too dissonant, bitter and sour, green, acrid, unpleasant… I would not actually drink this, but I would let some salmon marinate in this. Finish: yes. Comments: possibly a bacterial feast – a wild guess – but frankly, it's rather just a talking point. Ham and chocolate. Yeah, sure it's better than all gins… Right, I'm rather a fan of the most experimental spirits, but this time I'll pass.
SGP:272 - 70 points.

River Antoine (69%, OB, Grenada, 2020)

River Antoine (69%, OB, Grenada, 2020) Four stars
White rum from Grenada, made without electricity, apparently. I suppose this will just kill us, so I say bye-bye, see you in another, friendlier, more philosophical world, without Boris and Macron… Colour: white. Nose: it is so extremely strong, but I would identify the usual olives and a large bag of whelks, liquorice, and crushed slate. With water: no, great distillate, hyper-bacterial, salty, sour secondary, fermentary, on Greek yoghurt and tapenade. Mouth (neat): someone's distilled sardines, apparently. Seawater, brine, rollmops, smoked herring, urchins and curry sauce. I would say white Hermitage, such as the good Sterimbergs, as matching wines, but I think we're digressing. With water: salty rum indeed. Sardines, anchovies, oysters, urchins. Not for everyone but what a distillate! Finish: same, even spicier, saltier, and even more on urchins. A feeling of drinking diesel oil. Comments: one of the saltiest and most petroly spirits I've ever tried in my whole life.
SGP:263 - 85 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all rums we've tasted so far

 

March 6, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
Macduff, Longmorn and Edradour
A bit of a mish-mash of names today, but don't we always enjoy 'mish-mashing' on Whiskyfun? Most of these, barring the obvious old Longmorn, are pretty recent or recent-is releases I believe. First up is humble wee Macduff.

 

Macduff 11 yo 'Batch 6' (48%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 1237 bottles)

Macduff 11 yo 'Batch 6' (48%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 1237 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: lemon, cereal, straw, bailed hay, meadow flowers, barley sugars. Fresh, simple, easy and yet with a reasonably firm and malty 'weight' about it. In time it gets a little more bready and beery. Mouth: this beery quality dominates here, rather bitter and peppery at first. Cooking oils, breads, mashed veg and potatoes. Not the biggest fan of this one to be honest. A sense of acrylic and plasticine too. Finish: medium, slightly salty, brown bread, toasted seeds and plain cooking oils. Comments: It's fine, but I find it a bit of an 'ungenerous' style if I'm honest.
SGP: 561 - 78 points.

 

 

Macduff 10 yo 'Batch 10' (52%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co, 1160 bottles)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: similar but more pure, petrolic, direct and mineral in style. Still these notes of cooking oils, yeast and breads, but also some grasses, mineral oil and fabrics. Quite nice if you're in the mood for this style. With water: goes more towards cooking oils, seeds, linens and plasticine. Mouth: grassy, mashy, vegetal and yeasty. Rather sharp as well, almost saline. A peculiar style that manages to straddle mashy notes and chiselled, flinty sharpness. With water: retains this rather textural quality and once again emphasises cooking oils, mashed potatoes, yeasty bread dough and a little mustard powder. Finish: quite long, but a little plasticky, sharp and bitter. Comments: I find this kind of profile rather tough and hard word to be honest. It's a very gruff style of distillate.
SGP: 461 - 77 points.

 

 

Longmorn 22 yo 1997/2020 (58.7%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #163301, hogshead, 240 bottles)

Longmorn 22 yo 1997/2020 (58.7%, Elixir Distillers 'Single Malts Of Scotland', cask #163301, hogshead, 240 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: sometimes you 'smell' colours in whisky, this one smells yellow. Lots of buttercups, turmeric and bailed hay. This big vibe of summery fields and meadows, many flowers, pollens, dusty cereals, oatcakes and baking soda. It's not a super fruity example but it's a profile I find very attractive. With water: rice crackers, oatcakes, sandalwood, gorse and dried apricot in a flapjack. An elegant and easy balance. Mouth: a nice natural tension between sweetness and more bitter and pithy aspects. Barley sugars and malt extract, orange juice, peaches in syrup, bergamot and orange travel sweets. Alongside that you have a little hessian and white pepper. With water:  richer, firmer, slightly more waxy and textural. Wintergreen, pinecones, myrtle and some sense of lemon peel. Finish: good length, peppery, warming, some general wood spices and vanilla. Comments: All very good, it's an easy yet deceptively complex and rather summery feeling sort of malt. Fresh, light and playful with a feeling of perfect maturity. It's just perhaps a little too subtle, lacks some more obvious Longmorn juiciness.
SGP: 651 - 86 points.

 

 

Longmorn-Glenlivet 15 yo (46%, Cadenhead Dumpy, -/+ 1980)

Longmorn-Glenlivet 15 yo (46%, Cadenhead, Dumpy, -/+ 1980)
A very rare one that I never saw before. There is a reasonable possibility that this would be from a parcel of 1964 casks that were also bottled elsewhere in this series, however as with so many old bottles it's not really possible to be sure. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it has this really textural, almost gelatinous fruitiness that only old Longmorn and Bowmore seems to possess. However, it is not immediately tropical, rather this is more on peaches in syrup, nectarines, apricot and flower honey. Vividly fruity though and with this superbly elegant thread of waxiness beneath. Even some hints of expensive olive oil and pomegranate. You also get this rather signature 'Cadenhead dumpy calling card' note of metal polish in there as well. Mouth: thick, plush and almost jammy, this sense of your mouth glued shut by old school, glycerol-textured distillate. Honeys, pollens, waxed hessian, herbal medicines and even some glimmers of cereals and cooking oils. It's rather peppery too, with this sense of herbal, dry waxiness growing over time. Big, mouth-coating, dry and rather powerful old style whisky. Oily rags, cooking oils, bouillon broth, mineral oils, something of a dry, well-aged Chenin blanc. A wine drinker's whisky as Serge might have said around 2004. I find the complexity grows over time. Finish: good length, warming, a sense of slightly salty, dried out honey, mineral oils, plush cereals, camphor, hessian, crystallised citrus fruit peels and a persistent and beautiful waxiness. Comments: a Longmorn that speaks with a Glenlochy or a Glenugie accent? It's certainly quite a ride that begins rather more classical but really evolves towards something very complex, grown up and old school in the most beautiful sense. Proof that old Longmorn was really a distillate that could sing almost anywhere from 5 to 50 years old.
SGP: 662 - 92 points.

 

 

Edradour 11 yo 2008/2020 (58.3%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #372, 1st fill oloroso sherry butt, 709 bottles)

Edradour 11 yo 2008/2020 (58.3%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #372, 1st fill oloroso sherry butt, 709 bottles)
Colour: ruby amber. Nose: it's funny how these days you can almost spot different companies by the style of sherry cask they've been using this past decade or so. This one has a very 'Edradour' style about it. All on red and game meats, sods of turf, freshly brewed coffee, cranberry gravy and wee touches of wood spice and maraschino cherry juices. Spicy, meaty, earthy, punchy and rather powerful in style. Certain aspects are reminiscent of early batch Aberlour A'bunadhs in some respects. With water: a brief waft of Cuban cigar smoke, then shoe polish, boot leather and some slightly more fruity and playful notes, like a fruiter style of red chilli and strawberry jam. Works very well with water. Mouth: richly meaty and almost quite salty, like strips of Iberico ham and bone dry oloroso. Really excellent in my book. More notes of cranberries, hot paprika, toasted nuts and bacon jam. With water: now we're getting into very direct flavours of dark chocolate coated coffee beans, walnut liqueur, meat soup, biltong, black pepper and tobacco leaf. Finish: good length, drying, warming and very spicy. A rather vaporous impression of cough sweets, medical herbs and cherry liqueur. Comments: quite brilliant I think, and takes to water like a barefooted Timothy Dalton in License To Kill. It's a rather beefy and boisterous style of sherry, which may be an acquired taste for some, but for those of you who are self-confessed coveters of the 'sherry bomb', this way pleasure lies…
SGP: 462 - 88 points.

 

 

Ballechin 14 yo 2005/2020 (58.8%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #158, 2nd fill sherry hogshead, 296 bottles)

Ballechin 14 yo 2005/2020 (58.8%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #158, 2nd fill sherry hogshead, 296 bottles)
Colour: light amber. Nose: streaky bacon on an iron skillet, this is usually my immediate impression with Ballechin and sherry. Cured meats, ink, tar, farmyard muddiness, graphite, crushed aspirin, iodine and a rather precisely metallic kind of peat smoke. Brittle, sharp and powerfully assertive. With water: getting funkier now, all on pickled walnuts, brine, damp earthen wine cellars, gherkins and camphor. Still some notes of ink, carbon paper and a rather sharp peat smoke. Mouth: it's a very leathery kind of sherry mingling with chilli infused dark chocolate, beef jerky, tar, embrocations, dry madeira and peat embers. Overall this impression of drying, metallic and very sharp peat smoke - that almost has acidity about it - remains dominant. With water: saltier, meatier, leaner, more walnuts, hessian, tar, brine and pickled notes. Grown up whisky. Finish: long, salty, leathery, tarry, meaty, peppery and earthy. Comments: these Ballechins are extreme whiskies that take no prisoners. What I like is that they are very much their own style, you know you aren't just tasing 'another peated mainlander'. What's also neat is that it shares some clear DNA with the Edradour, although that may be the sherry talking.
SGP: 476 - 87 points.

 

 

 

 

March 5, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions
Number Seventeen
Various drops from the bright wild world of whisky. Let's kick this off with a light one from Japan…

Miyagikyo Distillery 'Limited Blended Whisky' (40%, OB, Japan, +/-2019)

Miyagikyo Distillery 'Limited Blended Whisky' (40%, OB, Japan, +/-2019) Two stars and a half
All right, some blended whisky from a single Japanese distillery owned by Nikka. What is this? It's probably not fully Japanese mind you, the kind of bottling that should disappear for good upon the new Japan Whisky Act. Colour: light gold. Nose: almost niente, nada, nichts, rien, nothing. Some vanilla, a little corn bread, some whiffs of hay that are not unpleasant, and basta cosi. It's not ugly at all, it's just extremely light. Poor Miyagikyo. Mouth: it's not bad at all, mind you. It reminds me of some recent bottlings of White Horse. Yeah it's like if someone would have bottled some 2010s White Horse under the brand name 'Lagavulin'. Seriously? Finish: short, leafy, not bad, with good citrus and even a touch of salt and smoke. Comments: don't get me wrong, it's good whisky and the blenders knew what they were doing. It's just that the whole idea is/was rather infuriating, was it not.
SGP:341 - 79 points.
j

Kornog 13 yo (57%, OB, for Triskel Spirits Singapore, France, Sauternes, cask #937, 2020)

Kornog 13 yo (57%, OB, for Triskel Spirits Singapore, France, Sauternes, cask #937, 2020) Four stars and a half
A Kornog from Glann ar Mor Distillery fully matured in an ex-Rayne Vigneau barrique. Colour: red amber. Nose: very unusual. A lot of model glue, Barbour grease and rotting bananas at first, kombucha, garden peat, raw cocoa, then growing notes of green Chartreuse, getting really huge, as well as pine liqueur and something very lactone-y. The jury's still out, this is extremely unusual… With water: it's really not sweet and rounded, and in truth it rather feels like ex-amontillado. Walnuts, curry, cocoa, tobacco, capers and olives, wee whiffs of burning plywood… Mouth (neat): what-a-monster. Huge varnish, rotting fruits, caraway everywhere, wormwood, capers, very bitter leaves, siracha, miso… It's really huge, probably the hugest whisky I've tried so far this year. You'd almost call it 'atomic whisky'. With water: weren't we missing Tabasco ad Worcester sauce? This is really something unusual, almost monstrous in a way. Finish: long, very leafy, with tons of green walnuts and this kind of curry-and-peanut paste that some folks in the East are making – and which I adore. Comments: crazy, very dissonant whisky with fantastic bitters, but it is wanted dissonance. Think Thelonious Monk!
SGP:274 - 88 points.
fr

No, no fear at all…

Kornog 12 yo (58.8%, OB, for Triskel Spirits Singapore, France, Sauternes, cask #938, 2020)

Kornog 12 yo (58.8%, OB, for Triskel Spirits Singapore, France, Sauternes, cask #938, 2020) Four stars
This time it is ex-Château Suduiraut. Lovely, classy Sauternes. Colour: red amber. Nose: much rounder, sweeter, Sauternes-y, with apricots, crystallised oranges, raisins, and preserved peaches. This is really alright, much easier than its twin despite the higher strength. With water: a walk in the woods and a load of walnuts, paprika and turmeric. The sweetness is gone but not sure we shall complain. Mouth (neat): gosh this is heavy indeed on the palate. Full cloves, curry, aniseed, pepper and cinnamon. Highly extractive, but more classic indeed after the Rayne Vigneau. Now I cannot not think of some Millstones from Holland or Larks from Australia. With water: I think I like the other one better because it was much more brutal, extreme, and 'unseen'. This is more on sweeter leaves, peach, cherry… And on some black tobacco. Finish: very long, very chocolaty this time. Black tea and the blackest chocolate. Comments: the very active casks have almost swallowed the peat in these two spectacular examples. I still like Kornog al natural better, but this sure will make for a conversation piece after dinner. Crazy stuff.
SGP:364 - 87 points.
fr

If there's one distillery that seems to share Glann ar Mor's spirit, it is Smögen in Sweden (and conversely).

Smögen 8 yo 2012/2020 (59.3%, The WhiskySponge, Sweden, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 261 bottles)

Smögen 8 yo 2012/2020 (59.3%, The WhiskySponge, Sweden, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 261 bottles) Five stars
Ah, a regular barrel… Colour: straw. Nose: but f****g yes! Pure manzanilla, distilled. Green walnuts and bags of olives. With water: fresh baguette and leaven bread. You cannot beat this. Mouth (neat): perfect crystalline peat and lemons and olives and tiny herbs. With water: I'm sorry but back to classic Islay. Grist, peat smoke, touch of vanilla, slice of bread, drop of seawater, music, poetry, painting, and literature. In short, civilisation. Finish: yes, saltier. And green walnuts are never too far away.  Comments: I hope this note was like the whisky, to the point. Also, I find it quite noteworthy that some Scottish entity such as The Sponge would select and bottle a whisky from Sweden. No, really, do you believe that's just normal? What does it say?
SGP:466 - 90 points.
sw

To Andalusia for more sun…

Liber 12 yo 2008/2020 (60%, OB, Spain, Spanish Whisky Club, 1st fill PX, cask #047, 300 bottles)

Liber 12 yo 2008/2020 (60%, OB, Spain, Spanish Whisky Club, 1st fill PX, cask #047, 300 bottles) Two stars and a half
I don't think we'll have to add the flag, the label being self-explanatory in that respect. I'm missing Spain and I'm missing Andalucia. We've tried several Libers already and found out that the younger, the better. Colour: mahogany. Nose: bold, sulphury, a little acidic, on truffles and hard-boiled eggs. Soy sauce, hoisin. Let' say the jury's definitely still out. With water: works. Asparagus, tarmac, new leather (jacket) and cigars. This is sherried to the core, not just 'flavoured'. A lot of chocolate. Mouth (neat): no no no. Extreme sulphur on the palate too. With water: works, as long as you've got your proportions right. Black pepper, cocoa powder, cardboard, artichokes. Finish: long and dry. More artichokes, perhaps a little burnt sugar, more cocoa. Comments: chocolate-dry and less meaty than the 10. Some sulphur at play here and there.
SGP:262 - 79 points.
 
 

March 4, 2021


Whiskyfun

World sessions
Number Sixteen
Around the world, around the world (in the wise words of the former duo known as Daft Punk). Starting from France, I believe that makes sense. No Covid-pass needed yet…

Distillerie de Paris 'Rice' (43%, OB, France, 2021)

Distillerie de Paris 'Rice' (43%, OB, France, 2021) Four stars
In Paris, 'rice' means 'riz', which means 'rice', capisce? So this is grain whisky since it isn't malt. We've tried rice whiskies in the past, such as some from Japan or that 'Moto' from Brooklyn, USA. In this case Distillerie de Paris have chosen rice from Camargue, where they also have horses, bulls, and The Gipsy Kings. Let's see what their shiny Cadillac, I mean Holstein still has done… Colour: gold. Nose: bread, pumpernickel, gingerbread, caraway, drops of aquavit, pot-still barley vodka, cucumber shoots and lemon caviar, hints of thyme honey, perhaps a little meringue… In truth I believe we're sitting between malt whisky and artisanal gin here, but it is some very precise and yet complex spirit. The bready flavours are fantastic and if you push it a wee bit, you reach sake. Rice! I mean, nice! Mouth: they're onto something, clearly. Starts on wine vinegar and capers but its soon to get to liquorice and to some thick, pumpernickel-style heavy breads. I believe it was smart to reduce this to 43%, it's such thick – and yet harmonious - distillate that 45 or 50% would have made it a little cloying. Perhaps. Finish: long, salty, liquoricy, with drops of old balsamico and some stout. Rather bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Did they polish the rice? Comments: unusual albeit adorable whisky, very neat and tidy and yet thick and complex. I hope they'll make a lot of this and keep a few casks for the years 2040. Yes, rice is a cereal.
SGP:462 - 87 points.
fr

Let's fly to… eenie meenie… India!

Paul John 2015/2020 (59.5%, TCWA, India, 1st fill bourbon, cask #8560, 234 bottles)

Paul John 2015/2020 (59.5%, TCWA, India, 1st fill bourbon, cask #8560, 234 bottles) Four stars
TCWA stands for The Cyprus Whisky Association. Cool people in a great place. This is unpeated Paul John (I cannot not think of the Beatles when writing that name). Colour: gold. Nose: the Rice whisky was really rich but this one goes the distance too, with more classic and rounder notes of cakes, nougat, roasted nuts and, hold on, rather soft sherry than bourbon. Some maraschino, I would say, and that wonderful millionaire shortbread they used to make at the bakery opposite Bowmore Distillery. I suppose/hope they are still in operation! With water: breads and cakes, what else does the People want? Awesome fermentary touches, leaven, baker's yeast, thick beers… Mouth (neat): classic, very good, slightly buttery, spicy and sour arrival. Some butterscotch, chardonnay, nougat, a drop of siracha chilli sauce, then some muscat wine. Bourbon, really? Where's that stuffy vanilla? With water: hold on, do not add too much water or the oak will come out in force. Finish: long and cake-y. Raisins. Comments: yeah, do not add too much water, as with many young oak-driven modern whiskies, or it may become a little plankish. When you don't, it's a very lovely young dram.
SGP:551 - 85 points.
in

Off to the Netherlands…

Millstone 5 yo (43%, OB, Holland, American oak, +/-2020)

Millstone 5 yo (43%, OB, Holland, American oak, +/-2020) Four stars and a half
We've got quite a few stunning Millstones in the boxes and they sure will come out eventually, but I wanted to try some of their more pedestrian output today. Whisky for the pleb, in other words. I'd add that they had several fives and that I'm not dead sure about the exact pedigree here. Should we care?  Colour: gold. Nose: popcorn, sour cream, muesli, all kinds of fresh breads, sourdough, and huge quantities of fresh leaven. Like, there's no leaven left on the whole planet. Mouth: there's bready whisky and there's breadier whisky. This sure belongs to the latter category, and perhaps is it not for everyone, but I have to confess I'm an integral sucker for these profiles. Salty doughs, fresh breads, artisanal meads and beers... Quite funnily, there are some similarities with the Parisian rice whisky. Finish: rather long, absolutely excellent, bready, fresh, salty, fermentary, yeasty, with a totally perfect lemony signature that leaves your palate as fresh as a baby's bottom. Comments: an exceptional bready and rather fat drop. Best stuff out of the Netherlands since Venus by Shocking Blue. Quite.
SGP:461 - 88 points.
nl

To Ireland? You say what?

Teeling 'Blackpitts' (46%, OB, Ireland, +/-2020)

Teeling 'Blackpitts' (46%, OB, Ireland, +/-2020) Three stars
I'm sure there's a story here – NAS need them - but the world is getting sick of gooey stories, is it not? Products and features please, keep your stories for Zooms (or stinky SEO). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a light peatiness, distant whiffs of green peppercorns, perhaps a little iodine, a little new wool, a little earth… All that is very 'little' indeed, almost shy I would say. Whispering whisky (yes I know alliterations always kill). Mouth: olives, peat, salt, lemons. Repeat. Extremely narrow and young, a little rudimentary. Not bad at all, just rudimentary. Great surface, little depth. Finish: rather long, greener, more peppery. Comments: it's very good no doubt, but this is something I often find in peaters from the Scottish mainland too, they would lack depth. Which generates frustration and a wee feeling of, well, how would I put this… Coitus interruptus?
SGP:356 - 80 points.
ei

To Taiwan for our last stop…

Kavalan 'Solist' (57.8%, OB, for Palo Alto Whisky Shop, bourbon, cask #B101214010A, 157 bottles)

Kavalan 'Solist' (57.8%, OB, for Palo Alto Whisky Shop, bourbon, cask #B101214010A, 157 bottles) Four stars
Not too sure that's the right label, it's getting a little complicated with Kavalan and their zillion single casks, is it not. But our hearts are willing and our souls pure… And hey, Palo Alto, that's whiskypsychosociology at its best! Colour: deeper gold. Nose: of course. Bread, malt, coconut, custard, panettone, brioche. With water: doughs and breads and pastries and stuff. Good. Mouth (neat): very good, I would add 'of course'. Lemon cake, vanilla, coconut yoghurt, chamomile and lime teas, green tea. With water: very good. Finish: very good. Comments: perhaps a little emotionless. Probably not exactly Santana's Soul Sacrifice at Woodstock but let's be honest, there are no complains to be delivered whatsoever, this is perfect whisky. One day I'll tell you about me playing football with Carlos Santana around 1976, but this is neither the time nor the place. And hey, Palo Alto! Adios.
SGP:451 - 87 points.
tw
 

March 3, 2021


Whiskyfun

Greatish Clynelish

Still love, love, love Clynelish, but the very fact that IBs do not seem to be allowed to use the name anymore will probably damage the reputation in the future. As old marketeers used to say, you cannot have a good (or a bad) image when brand awareness is weak, while brand awareness only comes with product exposure and/or publicity. I agree, we deserve a few drams now…

A Highland Distillery 10 yo 2010/2020 (54.8%, The Maltman, sherry butt, cask #2090, 632 bottles)

A Highland Distillery 10 yo 2010/2020 (54.8%, The Maltman, sherry butt, cask #2090, 632 bottles) Three stars
It's good that the back label would tell us this was distilled in Sutherland, we could have thought it was Old Rhosdhu. See what I mean? Colour: deep amber. Nose: loads of chocolate, chicory drink, Ovaltine and a little rubber and gunpowder. I wouldn't have sworn this was Clynelish at this stage, this is more Motörhead than Mozart. With water: some coastal notes, kelp… Some chutneys too, cloves, a little tar… Really not a ballerina. Mouth (neat): salty teriyaki sauce, pepper, leather, bitter leaves, rubber, bitters, cocoa, Seville oranges. All that is really heavy indeed. With water: soy sauce and armagnac blended together, with some drops od artichoke bitters for good measure. Finish: very long, leafy, dry, salty. More bitterness and chocolate in the aftertaste. Comments: good dram but as they say, distillery character disappears quicker than Harry Houdini after such a treatment, even Clynelish. Or was it Old Rhosdhu indeed? Nah, remember, Sutherland… Wait, Glenmorangie?
SGP:371 - 80 points.

Clynelish 10 yo 2010/2021 (57.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #700050)

Clynelish 10 yo 2010/2021 (57.5%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #700050) Four stars
This one's brand new, picture is that of a previous expression. Indeed I could have put a wild kitten instead. Colour: white wine (hurray). Nose: crushed chalk, squeezed lemons, oysters and a touch of fresh coriander (hurray). With water: whiffs of maize bread and a new pack of marshmallows. Coriander again, and something slightly grappa-y. Mouth (neat): lemon jellies and drops, green peppercorns, touch of bubblegum and marshmallows, perhaps a hint of grated coconut. Green pepper and balm-mint extracts. Bamboo shoots too (hurray) and a slight idea of the existence of some waxiness, no more. With water: a fruit feast indeed rather than an austere waxy and mineral beast. Jelly babies, beans, crocodiles and Trump heads. Are those out yet? Finish: medium, very fruity, probably not intensely Clynelish, but just excellent. Lemon drops in the aftertaste (bravo). Comments: the lemons are this drop's main asset. Excellent but once again and just like its sister casks, not quite an ueber-waxy 'lish.
SGP:541 - 86 points.

Did someone just mention sister casks?

Clynelish 10 yo 2010 (57.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland, for USA, cask #700051, 228 bottles)

Clynelish 10 yo 2010 (57.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland, for USA, cask #700051, 228 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: amazing, this one's much more austere at first, on hessian and brake pad dust, then we find lime and kiwis indeed, granny smith, and various other green fruits. More green tea too. Lovely, er, greenness. With water: indeed it is greener and tarter. Starfruits, lemons, wet plaster, then a little beeswax and curaçao. Mouth (neat): we're much closer to #700050 on the palate. Perhaps a few more waxy oils? More Clynelishness? With water: perhaps. Now both whiskies are extremely close, naturally, if not proper twins. Finish: medium, fruity and chalky, with nods to Chenin blanc moelleux – which means semi-sweet in case you don't know. Comments: I think I liked this one a wee tad better but we're splitting hairs now, something I'm pretty good at says my better half.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Since we're having tenners…

Distilled in Sutherland 10 yo 2010/2020 (57.3%, Thompson Bros., 90 bottles)

Distilled in Sutherland 10 yo 2010/2020 (57.3%, Thompson Bros., 90 bottles) Five stars
A micro-bottling and a large cat on the label, which leaves no uncertainties. Although the latter would rather look like a stray cat, no? Colour: white wine. Nose: further into 'lish, earthier and waxier, leafier, perhaps more complex and certainly less fruity. Paraffin and new vinyl record, a little engine oil, some burnt grasses and garden woods and leaves, notes of citron at the fruit section. With water: lovely. Dirty waxes, olive oil, miso… Mouth (neat): ah yes, another world, a feeling that could come from the cask's former content. Islay? Indeed this baby's more medicinal, camphory, waxy, with dirty leathers ala Ben Nevis and oiled marrow ala Springbank (wha-a-at?) With water: superb. We had a Zoom gathering around a few waxy oldies last night (at time of writing) and we mentioned kokumi, that famous 'fatty' sixth taste. So we're clearly finding kokumi here, a.k.a. oleogustus on our shores. Great. Finish: long, just perfect, full, complex, earthy, medicinal, waxy, almost a little Brora-y. More about Brora hereunder. Comments: I'm curious about the cask here, but I would understand that's a secret, Phil and Simon. There are only secrets in this industry anyway, sob sob sob…
SGP:453 - 90 points.

Clynelish 21 yo 1997 (49.9%, The Malt Affair & The Auld Alliance, bourbon cask, 254 bottles, +/-2019)

Clynelish 21 yo 1997 (49.9%, The Malt Affair & The Auld Alliance, bourbon cask, 254 bottles, +/-2019) Four stars
I believe this is a very Singaporean affair, but we all know these good folks do know their whisky. Colour: white wine. Nose: refill wood, so fresh and tight, high-precision, with luminous bready and waxy tones, plus mint, quinine, pine resin, and probably a little aniseed. It is a tad unusual to tell you the truth, but we're all for just any differences in this world. Kumbaya, mee lord. Mouth: one of those 'bridge-y' Clynelishes that would link us to the great vintages of the 1980s, such as 1983. Heaving said that the chalk and the hessian are heavy here, you'd almost believe you're sucking raw wool at times. Grapefruits and oysters are singing loud though, and so is paraffin. A curious touch of fish oil. Cod? Finish: long and much more bitter, green, almost acidic. There is some peat too here, seriously. Unexpected notes of plastic and perhaps even soap in the aftertaste. Comments: not a textbook Clynelish at all on the palate, but all these uncertainties do make it appealing, provided you've already tried a few dozen.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

Now watch this…

Clynelish 12 yo (57%, OB, green and red label, +/-1985)

Clynelish 12 yo (57%, OB, green and red label, +/-1985) Five stars
A super-rare 100-proof version of the well-known official 'orange and bordeaux' or 'brick and red' or 'brown and orange' label, poured at the online Whisky Show Old & Rare this year. This is the first time I'm trying this, believe or not, this thanks to Mr. Sukhinder Singh, who would deserve the Légion d'Honneur just because of that. Not just a simple Knighthood, ladies and gentlemen, Officer at least! If not Commander… Or High-Commander… In truth, I've always believed this was a misprinted label. It was not. Colour: straw. Nose: of course, you cannot not wonder if this is 'old' Clynelish or 'new' Clynelish. To be honest it does hint at 'old' Clynelish, being more mineral and more phenolic, and less on fruiter aromas or just beeswax than the new Clynelishes. Not sure you're following me, are you? Hessian, chalk, metal polish, coalpit, fisherman's nests, whelks and crabs, fern, rubbed lovage leaves, camphor, myrtle liqueur, aspirin, just damp earth… No, after reflection and unless the palate tells me otherwise, this is clearly 'old' Clynelish if you ask me. No water needed (save the planet!) Mouth: long story short, this is old Clynelish in my humble opinion, perhaps with a little more sherriness and roundness (a drop of coconut oil) than, for example, the last 12 100proof for Giaccone (which, incidentally, was rather sporting the brick and red label). Oh please just call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade, thank you mucho. Finish: yes and that's the fate of many a great whisky, which makes them even more precious (what a waste of bandwidth, S.!) Stunning salted lemons in the aftertaste. Comments: I had thought I had tried them all. Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas et sic transit gloria mundi.
SGP:364 - 94 points.

(Thank you Sukhinder!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Clynelish we've tasted so far

 

March 2, 2021


Whiskyfun

Two young Old Fettercairns

There's an interesting new official Fettercairn but first, a recent batch of the regular 12.

Fettercairn 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2020)

Fettercairn 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2020) Three stars
I thought this baby was a little challenging two years ago, so let's see if the make has changed a wee bit. Just for the sake of research. Colour: gold. Nose: vanilla and raisins up, gunpowder and 'new leatherette' still there, coal dust as well, fumes, artichoke, plasticine, sourdough… that's all pretty fine, if a little unlikely indeed. What it isn't is boring, which deserves commendations for sure. Unless… Mouth: well, the artichokes are still there, eggplant, a little stewed cabbage, green walnuts and tomato leaves, bitter oranges… I have the impression that this one keeps improving without denying its well-known idiosyncrasies. Like, artichokes. Finish: long, still rather bitter (even more artichokes) and pretty leathery, with Seville oranges and more green walnuts in the aftertaste. Comments: still a little challenging but either it has improved indeed, or I just like it better. Or both. From 70 to 78 last time, while this time it's going to be…
SGP:361 - 80 points.

Fettercairn 2010/2021 'Warehouse 2 Batch No.001' (49.7%, OB)

Fettercairn 2010/2021 'Warehouse 2 Batch No.001' (49.7%, OB) Four stars
A small batch that's seen it all as far as woods are concerned, as is now fashionable in every corners of this whisky world. I quote, this 'was matured in a combination of unseasoned casks, Sherry seasoned butts, Sherry barrels, ex-Bourbon barrels and Port Pipes'. No less! Colour: gold. Nose: indeed the oaks seem to have smoothed out the fearless distillate, as we're rather finding a lot of vanilla at first nosing, then Jaffa cakes, brioche, muesli, crushed bananas and earl grey. Indeed a smoother combination, which, I suppose, was the whole point. Old Fettercairn getting back in line. Mouth: success! Success because the artichokes and eggplants haven't totally left the stage, while raisins, vanilla and indeed earl grey have made this baby rather more approachable. More muesli, gingerbread, biscuits, then rather pepper, cinnamon mints, leather and ginger, with drops of green chartreuse. That's the distillate fighting back. Finish: very long, bittersweet, liqueury and herbal, to my liking. Bitter teas. I really enjoy this little 'fight in a glass'. Or, rather on your palate. Comments: a firm, very well composed Fettercairn that hasn't given up on its singular DNA but that's also, well, simply easier. Moderner whisky has many charms.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Fettercairn we've tasted so far

 

March 1, 2021


Whiskyfun

Old young and young old Lochside

Hunter Laing are having a new Lochside! It sure wasn't easy to find a proper aperitif and we settled for an old G&M CC at 40% vol. It's another name that never quite caught our attention as long as there was only a pretty lousy official 10 by Spanish owners DYC. And then came the IBs… Let's see if these will be some much expected fruit bombs…

Lochside 20 yo 1965 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, old brown label, +/-1985)

Lochside 20 yo 1965 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, old brown label, +/-1985) Five stars
We tried this one quite a few times already and always thought it was brilliant. But careful, some labels have been photocopied in the past and this Lochside's one of them. I mean, not this particular bottle mind you… The two (or three?) 1965s by G&M were stellar anyway. Colour: gold. Nose: pure mangos and peaches, plus pink bananas and a subtle chalkiness. Touches of white currants, which is always wonderful. Amazing nose, close to that of some old cognacs that have been aged with care using only well-behaved oak. Mouth: oh! Pure clean old Petite Champagne with no signs of any oakiness as such. Nutshell: more pink bananas and mangos, more juicy vine peaches, touches of beeswax, chalk, then citrus (limes and tangerines I would say). Luminous old whisky, just a wee tad drier than I remembered it. Finish: pretty long, with this salty tang and always this wax that reminds me that these 1965-1966 Lochsides were pretty close to Clynelish. But there hasn't been many… Other than that, the same fruits keep dancing in the back of your throat… Comments: extraordinary aperitif. Watch the fakes though (especially the ones with unusually shiny photocopied labels).
SGP:651 - 92 points.

And so the new one…

Lochside 39 yo 1981/2021 (52.9%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, sherry butt, cask #HL17831, 309 bottles)

Lochside 39 yo 1981/2021 (52.9%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, sherry butt, cask #HL17831, 309 bottles) Five stars
A very small number of 1981s have been flying around in the very recent years but I doubt there will be many more. Also, I like it that they would not have waited until it's 40! Colour: full gold. Nose: phew, the sherry was well-behaved too, and the trademark mangos may express themselves with confidence in this context. Very lovely fruity freshness, absolutely no signs of over-aging, just more complexity and refinement. The wee pink bananas are back too, maracuja, certainly some beeswax, lime blossom and honeysuckle, whiffs of well-cured cigars, grapefruits, hops… Well I find it more complex than other 1981s, including sherried ones. Awesome nose. With water: a little rounder, more on cake, Danishes, crème caramel, cheesecake… With a little mango coulis over all that! Mouth (neat): this one's perfect and certainly stands up to the brilliant G&M. Very citrusy, chalky, with a little menthol, salt, a little more paraffin than expected, perhaps something medicinal too (Colgate's mouthwash – that's cheaper indeed), quite some pomegranate too. With water: the 1965 takes the lead now, but by a very, very small margin. A little shoe polish. Finish: long and spicier. Pepper over more mango coulis and grapefruits. Notes of raw fino in the aftertaste. Comments: I think water was not needed. Anyway, superb Lochside, even after the legendary 1965. I would say new enthusiasts may have to act swiftly before there's no more Lochside at all.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Lochside we've tasted so far

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

February 2021

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Springbank 1994/2020 (48.5%, North Star, refill hogshead, 270 bottles) - WF93

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Springbank 12 yo (100 proof / 57.1%, OB for Samaroli, early 1980s, 2400 bottles) - WF98

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Scarabus 10 yo (46%, Hunter Laing, +/-2020)  - WF88

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Uitvlugt 20 yo 1997/2017 (56.5%, The Rum Cask, Guyana) - WF91

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Brenne 'Cuvée Spéciale' (40%, OB, France, +/-2020) - WF50

February 2021 - part 2 <--- March 2021 - part 1 ---> March 2021 - part 2


 

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Clynelish 12 yo (57%, OB, green and red label, +/-1985)

Distilled in Sutherland 10 yo 2010/2020 (57.3%, Thompson Bros., 90 bottles)

Littlemill 27 yo 1992/2020 (52.3%, The Whisky Agency, hogshead, 260 bottles)

Littlemill 30 yo 1988/2019 (55.3%, Hunter Laing, Old & Rare, refill hogshead, 85 bottles)

Lochside 20 yo 1965 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseurs Choice, old brown label, +/-1985)

Lochside 39 yo 1981/2021 (52.9%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, sherry butt, cask #HL17831, 309 bottles)

Smögen 8 yo 2012/2020 (59.3%, The WhiskySponge, Sweden, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 261 bottles)

Caroni 1997/2020 (49.2%, The Whisky Agency, Keep Going, 262 bottles)

Domaine de Baraillon 35 ans (40%, OB, bas-armagnac, +/-2020)

Armagnac 45 yo 1975/2020 (47.9%, Asta Maurice, cask # AMF001, 150 bottles)

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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