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Hi, you're in the Archives, May 2015 - Part 1

       

 

April 2015 - part 2 <--- May 2015 - part 1 ---> May 2015 - part 2

 

May 13, 2015


Whiskyfun

A verticale of eight Glenturret

That’s right, I’ve been wanting to do this for years. First because I’ve not always fully understood that distillate, especially after having tried some bizarre oldies that had an odd kind of chemical taste, and second because I’ve had some much better ones since back then, and because some good friends are starting to rave about ‘new’ Glenturret. But there’s only one way to find out: a fairly large vertical session! Today’s the day…

Glenturret 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2015)

Glenturret 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars The entry-level Glenturret used to be 12, now it’s this 10. I find it very honest to lower the age a bit, rather than go into opaque NAS. Colour: Nose: Mouth: Finish: Comments: SGP: - points. Colour: gold. Nose: overripe apples in a copper basin, plus baker’s yeast, ale, chalk, porridge and carbon paper. It seems that it’s kept its old very idiosyncratic style, while better balancing it with more fruitiness – although that would rather be a grassy and yeasty kind of fruitiness. Mouth: starts very malty and grassy, always with this minerality that’s so unusual, but no ‘chemical’ tastes this time (no new plastic). Goes on with Seville oranges, more chalk, some green tannins, a touch of earth, a wee touch of salt… Good body at 40%, the texture’s quite oily. Finish: rather long, rather sweeter than grassier – which is a little unusual but welcome – with some vanilla and oranges. Chalky and peppery aftertaste. Comments: like! It seems that they tamed the turbulent distillate. SGP:462 - 82 points.

There’s also a sherried version, sadly NAS…

Glenturret 'Sherry Edition' (40%, OB, +/-2015)

Glenturret 'Sherry Edition' (40%, OB, +/-2015) Two stars and a half NAS and of course, more expensive than the 10. Ahem. But it’s probably a small batch, hand-selected, yada, yada, yada. Colour: gold. Nose: it hasn’t got the personality that was in the ten, as if a round sherriness had offset the minerality and rather peculiar grassiness. So we’re having a nice and pleasant rounded sherry, with roasted nuts, a little honey, a few raisins, a spoonful of marmalade and maybe a few drops of olive oil – which is better. Some bread. Mouth: an oily texture again, then some ginger and tea tannins from some rather vivid oak, then a little pipe tobacco, some earth, more raisins and a feeling of sangria. Or mulled wine. There’s quite some pepper and cinnamon. Finish: rather long, sweet and rounded, then more and more peppery. Comments: feels a bit like rejuvenated, sherry-treated oak. No flaws, but I’m missing the Glenturretness a wee bit. SGP:561 - 78 points.

Let’s tackle some older ones…

Glenturret 25 yo 1988/2014 (45.3%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon hogshead, cask #891, 308 bottles)

Glenturret 25 yo 1988/2014 (45.3%, A.D. Rattray, bourbon hogshead, cask #891, 308 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: lovely combination involving white fruits and a few oils. White cherries, peaches, sunflower oil, then muesli, a lot of muesli, a wheelbarrow of muesli… And then loads of slightly overripe mirabelles, plus the eau-de-vie made thereof. Add drops of barley syrup and a touch of vanilla-ed oak, and we’re done. Do you enjoy mirabelles as much as I do? Mouth: oh yes that was a lovely cask. The rather restless spirit accepted to mingle with some oak spices, and once again, this feels like you’re wolfing down a large slice of mirabelle pie. Including cinnamon, Demerara sugar and custard. Maybe a little stewed rhubarb as well. The body’s perfect. Finish: medium, clean, tart, on plums and rhubarb. Pepper and kiwi in the aftertaste? And mirabelles! Comments: did you ever spot mirabelle trees around Crieff, in Perthshire? Great cask! SGP:651 - 88 points.

Glenturret 25 yo 1988/2014 (51.8%, Adelphi, refill bourbon, cask #522, 248 bottles)

Glenturret 25 yo 1988/2014 (51.8%, Adelphi, refill bourbon, cask #522, 248 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: we are, should I add of course, pretty close to the Rattray, but this one’s a little more closed, probably because of the higher strength. I also seem to get a little plasticine, putty, leatherette and all that… With water: it remains a little less fragrant than the Rattray, but there are sultanas and juicy prunes. Prunes as in armagnac! Mouth (neat): it does remind me of ancient bottlings indeed, but I do find plums again. Maybe rather greengages and zwetschkes this time, so fatter plums. With water: no, mirabelles! Slightly rougher mirabelle spirit. Hoppla! Finish: medium, with more barley, porridge… and plum spirit. Perfect breakfast. Comments: just as good, in fact, just a little less mirabelle-y. I’m saying that because I love mirabelles. I know, I’m just getting episodic again. SGP:551 - 86 points.

Back to the officials…

Glenturret 1986/2015 'Brock Malloy Edition' (47%, OB, online exclusive, cask #328, 240 bottles)

Glenturret 1986/2015 'Brock Malloy Edition' (47%, OB, online exclusive, cask #328, 240 bottles) Four stars I’m not sure it’ll be out when I publish this. It’s a new May 2015 bottling. Colour: gold. Nose: in truth we’re very close to A.D. Rattray’s bottling, with the same amount of plums, muesli and oaky vanilla, but it’s also got more tobacco notes, cigars, also touches of menthol and camphor, always welcome, sandalwood and church incense (amen)… In short, a rather brilliant nose. The cask was good, for sure. Mouth: super-good arrival, both sharp and zesty (grapefruits, liquorice wood) and spicy, in an Indian way. Some kind of light fruity curry, bergamots, pink pepper, then blood oranges with a touch of caraway and cloves, a slightly mentholy oakiness – maybe pinewood, apple peelings, a little artisan porridge (it’s got a yeasty/cerealy side), some mustard perhaps, a touch of plasticine (we’re well at Glenturret)… All good. Finish: medium, on dried fruits and jams, with a resinous side and an oakier aftertaste. Comments: this baby remained fresh all the way, with great complexity, and always this zesty side that’s pretty refreshing. Excellent in my opinion, and the price is kind of fair given the age (£200, it seems). SGP:561 - 87 points.

Glenturret 26 yo 1986 (46.8%, Hunter Laing, bourbon hogshead, small batch, +/-2013)

Glenturret 26 yo 1986 (46.8%, Hunter Laing, bourbon hogshead, small batch, +/-2013) Four stars This one looks like a semi-official bottling of some sorts, as the name of the distillery’s much bigger on the label than that of the bottler. Colour: gold. Nose: very, and I mean very extremely super-close to the official. Feels like the same whisky, and any differences would be extremely minor, or the effect of unbridled imagination. Mouth: indeed, it is the same whisky, more or less. Rather more than less. Do you know that story about a chef in Edinburgh who always cooks with whisk… … … Finish: ditto. Comments: … so that chef always cooks with whisky, and sometimes, he even adds it to the food! Apologies. SGP:561 - 87 points.

Glenturret 36 yo 1977/2014 (46.3%, The Whisky Agency, refill hogshead, 245 bottles)

Glenturret 36 yo 1977/2014 (46.3%, The Whisky Agency, refill hogshead, 245 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: this one’s got more ‘oak age’, meaning there’s more tropical fruits from the oak, then rather vegetables. Soup, bouillon… But all that remains rather beautifully fruity, light, without much ‘plastic minerality’ that was rather common in these vintages in my experience. But there is some eucalyptus, beedies, perhaps even a little marijuana. And cut flowers. I know, that’s the same. Mouth: a rather thick and honeyed arrival, marginally phenolic as Glenturret could be (Play-doh), maybe a tad schizophrenic as far as styles are concerned (zesty tropical fruits vs. plasticky/mineral profile), with a wee bitter/rubbery side but also lovely sappy notes. That might be the marijuana again. Notes of pistachio cream. Finish: medium, grassy and mentholy, but the background remains citrusy. Crystallised oranges, kumquats… Comments: fun stuff, not always easy to follow. SGP:462 - 86 points.

Let’s have a last one. It may get slaughtered because it’s most probably a very young one, but you see, it’s a peaty one. Who doesn’t also do peat these days?

Glenturret 'Peated Edition' (40%, OB for The Whisky Shop, 2014) Three stars Yeah I know, the 40% vol. sound meagre and measly. Colour: pale gold. Nose: four years old, maybe five. Cardboard, beech smoke, ink, carbon paper, damp earth, cocoa powder Van Houten style, soaked barley. Light, not un-enjoyable. Coal smoke. Mouth: tastes very young. The oak was quite fresh. Smoked ginger, black bread, speculoos, more cocoa. The body’s thin but not absurdly thin, and I cannot not think of some American smoky youngsters. In a way, it’s very ‘new craft’. To think that the distillery – in its former inception - was founded in 1775! Finish: a bit short but pleasant, smoky, light… It’s got a ‘new calvados’ side. Comments: this young baby grew on me. I was sure I’d hate it, but now I’m hoping they’ll launch an expression at natural cask strength. 63% vol.? That won’t scare us! SGP:345 - 81 points.

Session over.

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

 

 

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May 12, 2015


Whiskyfun

Summer’s almost here,
time for Auchentoshan

The light triple-distilled Lowlander comes in various guises these days. It also seems that the indies have more of it as well.

Auchentoshan 'Springwood' (40%, OB, +/-2015)

Auchentoshan 'Springwood' (40%, OB, +/-2015) Two stars One of these slightly depressing bottles that are to be found in travel retail these days. Funny names, no age… And more shelf space for the brand. Colour: gold. Nose: modern sweetness, a bit of citrus, oranges, vanilla, citrus, oranges, vanilla, citrus, oranges, vanilla, citrus, oranges, vanilla, citrus, oranges, vanilla, citrus, oranges, vanilla… This isn’t bad, at all, just not extremely inspiring. Mouth: rather creamy, peppery, with then citrus, oranges, vanilla, citrus, oranges, vanilla, citrus, oranges, vanilla, citrus, oranges, vanilla, citrus, oranges, vanilla… The oak starts to feel after a few seconds, though, with more green pepper. Finish: short and a tad sugary. Do you really need a list of the flavours? Oak in the aftertaste. Comments: honest, loyal, drinkable. Both light and peppery. Not much else to add. SGP:441 - 76 points.

Auchentoshan 'Heartwood' (43%, OB, +/-2015)

Auchentoshan 'Heartwood' (43%, OB, +/-2015) Three starsThis is the Springwood’s Oloroso-ed counterpart. Colour: deep gold. Nose: pleasant butterscotch, café latte, caramel, raisins and crystallised oranges. It’s round and mellow, quite simple, but balanced and rather engaging. More character than in the Springwood. Mouth: once again there’s quite some pepper, then tobacco, raisins, tea and maple syrup. I also enjoy these touches of tiger balm, eucalyptus, light camphor… It’s got a sappy side that works well with the raisins. Some kind of very mild fortified retsina. Finish: quite short, with bonbons, liquorice allsorts and orange drops. The freshness is pleasant. Comments: indeed, this baby will please any traveller. I find it really well made. SGP:541 - 80 points.

Auchentoshan 14 yo 'Cooper's Reserve' (46%, OB, +/-2015)

Auchentoshan 14 yo 'Cooper's Reserve' (46%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars and a half Another one for travel retail, but this time we’re granted with an age statement and a higher strength. Just like the Heartwood, it’s a combination of bourbon and oloroso wood. Colour: full gold. Nose: drier than the Heartwood, grassier, with a wee touch of rubber at first, then rather oranges, teas, raisins again, praline, maybe roasted peanuts, some kind of wood smoke (would that be pine wood?), a plate of marzipan-filled dates… All that works well, I even find a little sesame oil after a few minutes. Love sesame oil! Mouth: the Heartwood with more oomph, more bitter oranges, and probably more oak. That would translate into some cinnamon cake covered with grated ginger and orange marmalade. Not to forget pepper and nutmeg. Finish: rather long, unexpectedly dry and nutty. Walnut wine, artichoke liqueur and more cinnamon. Comments: I think this one really works. You can feel that some newish (or rejuvenated) oak’s been involved, but yeah, that worked. SGP:541 - 83 points.

We’re making good progress, aren’t we? But the indies are having the floor now…

Auchentoshan 16 yo 1997/2014 (48%, Langside, Distiller's Art, refill hogshead, 360 bottles)

Auchentoshan 16 yo 1997/2014 (48%, Langside, Distiller's Art, refill hogshead, 360 bottles) Three stars What’s sometimes hard to fathom is that the indies issue more ‘natural’ versions of the distilleries, while the owners focus more and more on wood. Let’s see if that’s the case again here… Colour: white wine (so, indeed…) Nose: pure crystalline Auchentoshanness. Sure this is a slightly ethanoly spirit, and indeed there are many marshmallows and jell-Os, not to forget the many tinned fruits (peaches, pineapples, pears), but there’s also quite some grass and even lilies of the valley, which makes it delicately perfumy. Mouth: clean and fruity. Not profound, not complex, and maybe even a little too simple, but this is a perfect picture of a summery malt whisky. Peach syrup, candied pineapple, plain sugar (say agave sugar)… Simple stuff, good stuff! Finish: medium, fruity, maybe a tad alcoholic. A wee feeling of varnish. Comments: all right, the Cooper’s version was rather more complex, so a notch ‘better’, but this is very fine. I’m sure it would take ice like a champ. SGP:541 - 82 points.

Auchentoshan 17 yo 1997/2014 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #10555, 350 bottles)

Auchentoshan 17 yo 1997/2014 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #10555, 350 bottles) Three stars and a half Most probably from the same batch of casks as that from the brother. Let’s see if we can find any differences… Colour: white wine, but slightly darker. Say chardonnay vs. sauvignon. Nose: quite hard to distinguish. Maybe does this one have a little more vanilla indeed? And more broken branches and fruit peelings? Apples? Other than that, we’re in the same country. Oh and a little more Demerara sugar. Mouth: starts very similar, but unfolds with more limoncello and other tarty liqueurs. Kiwi liqueur? Rhubarb juice? The oak’s more noticeable as well, with more broken branches, cut roots… But it remains a rather thin-bodied whisky. Nice freshness, though. Finish: medium, rather citrusy, candied, a bit sugary, with a grassiness that nicely balances all that. Candied fruits, cassata… Comments: Fred wins by a very small margin. A very easy, sweet, summery and fruity malt. SGP:541 - 83 points.

A last, older one…

Auchentoshan 22 yo 1991/2014 (56.3%, Blackadder, hogshead, cask #2781, 178 bottles)

Auchentoshan 22 yo 1991/2014 (56.3%, Blackadder, hogshead, cask #2781, 178 bottles) Four starsI’ve decided to try to find a funny quote from Black Adder every time I’m trying a whisky by Blackadder. And today that’ll be this: "I mean, money isn't everything. Think of clouds and daisies, and the lovely smiles on little babies' faces." Maybe we should tell this to (some parts of) the whisky industry. But back to this Auchentoshan… Colour: pale gold. Nose: ah, there’s more burnt oak, coffee, cake, herbs… Few fruits, this one seems to be rather un-Auchentoshan. Water may help: oh this is funny, it got more medicinal than some 1970 Laphroaig blended with mercurochrome! What happened? The problem may be that there’s also some new plastic and leatherette. Hum hum… Mouth (neat): plain and pure zesty and youthful Auchentoshan. A bag of marshmallows dipped into a blend of litchi syrup and limejuice. Very zesty! No more plastic. With water: orgiastic zesty fruits, with something slightly chemical in the back. Washing powder? I’m kidding… almost. Finish: long, sharpy-zesty, very lemony. Comments: some sides reminded me of old refill Rosebank. Very funny stuff, this. SGP:651 - 85 points.

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

 

 

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May 11, 2015


Whiskyfun

Sherry and Glenmorangie and bonus

Today we won’t taste ‘pure’ Glenmorangie, rather three sherry-finished ones (Fino, Oloroso, Manzanilla) plus one that was made from an old brewer’s barley. And we’ll start this with an older expression from twenty years ago… You may call it ‘seminal’.

Glenmorangie 13 yo 'Fino Sherry Wood Finish' (43%, OB, +/-1996)

Glenmorangie 13 yo 'Fino Sherry Wood Finish' (43%, OB, +/-1996) Three stars One of the ancestors of the current ‘finishes’ by Glenmorangie. Remember Fino’s the driest sherry, together with Manzanilla, which is a Fino as well. Colour: gold. Fino’s usually very pale. Nose: there is a fino-ish character indeed, with this slightly mineral, faintly mustardy, and certainly very dry profile. There are the expected fresh walnuts, then rather a slightly butyric, barleyish, almost farmy side. Whiffs of leather. Mouth: the wine’s very obvious, and this time it’s the citrusy, lemony, slightly mustardy again character that comes out. I’d swear I find a little salt as well, plus some pepper and ginger. The small problem may be that Fino’s a wine that’s great  rather cold, and that the flavours may become a tad, say vulgar when boosted with alcohol and sipped at 20°C. Finish: rather long, quite peppery. Green oak, leaves, bitter oranges… Comments: probably still a little experimental back then. There might be a little too much wine, but some sides are appealing. Especially when you’re just back from Andalusia. SGP:471 - 80 points.

Glenmorangie 12 yo 'Lasanta' (43%, OB, sherry cask finish, +/-2014)

Glenmorangie 12 yo 'Lasanta' (43%, OB, sherry cask finish, +/-2014) Two stars and a halfI believe it was finished in Oloroso, so oxydised sherry rather than sherry matured under flor. Glad to see an age statement, earlier bottlings had none if I’m not mistaken. Colour: gold. Nose: struck matches, gun, walnuts, limestone, tobacco, walnuts… So there is a sulphury side to this, but it tends to go away, as often. Then black tea and a wee slice of ham. Iberico, no need to say. Mouth: it’s got this bitterish side, the walnuts, black tobacco, a coastal saltiness, herbal teas… Then rather marmalade, bitter oranges… The sweetness comes out, but it remains quite dry globally. Finish: good length. More cinnamon, ginger, speculoos, and this kind of sulphury minerality in the aftertaste, as well as tea leaves. Comments: very fine, but you have to enjoy gunflints. Not a peaceful Glenmorangie (yeah right). SGP:461 - 78 points.

Glenmorangie 'The Taghta' (46%, OB, Manzanilla finish, 2014)

Glenmorangie 'The Taghta' (46%, OB, Manzanilla finish, 2014) Three stars and a half I’m glad to taste this baby while just back from Sanlùcar de Barrameda, where they make Manzanilla. It’s to be noted that Manzanilla’s aged in soleras, and in very old American oak casks that are never shipped out. So a ‘Manzanilla cask’ as used by the Scots is not a ‘genuine’ bodega butt that was used within a solera, rather a bespoke cask. I should add that I love bone dry Manzanilla, especially the old-style pasadas. Colour: gold. Nose: more discreet than the two previous ones, probably more elegant, with some fresh butter, much less dry minerality/mustard/walnuts, and rather more golden raisins, dried apricots, and then more and more honey. Granted, that’s very un-Manzanilla, but I find this nose pretty subtle. A little more walnuts after ten minutes, though. Mouth: cleaner than Lasanta – by far, quite zesty, with lemongrass, blond tobacco, surely quite some pepper, lemon marmalade and then more honey again. Good body. Finish: good length. More orange and lemon marmalade, a touch of white pepper, a drop of walnut wine, perhaps, and a little ginger. Comments: I liked the zestiness a lot. In a way, it does remind me of some excellent Manzanilla, such as La Gitana’s Pastrana, which is a pasada (and which I heartily recommend!) SGP:551 - 83 points.

Glenmorangie 'Tusail' (46%, OB,  +/-2015)

Glenmorangie 'Tusail' (46%, OB,  +/-2015) Four stars Made out of Maris Otter barley and matured in bourbon wood. For how long? We won't know... It’s a bit paradoxical that special bottlings bear no age statements, while regular, cheaper ones do, isn’t it? Colour: gold. Nose: Glenmorangie! Very lovely flowers, fresh herbs, fresh nuts, then quinces and apricots, a touch of vanilla, overripe apples, hazelnuts, fresh bark, barley… I find this rather perfect, and extremely elegant. My favourite so far and by far. And yes I love sherry! Mouth: yes, perfect. Fresh oranges, citrons, lemongrass, honeydew, dried pears, melons, quince jelly and kiwis. The quince jelly’s particularly obvious, and guess what, they make some great one in Andalusia. That’s funny. Finish: good length, clean, zesty, totally au naturel. Comments: this one’s as fresh as morning dew on primroses. Or something like that. But what the Maris Otter barley did to it, I couldn’t tell you. SGP:551 - 87 points.

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

 

 

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May 10, 2015


Whiskyfun

Another rum excursion on a Sunday

I know we’ve decided to focus on regions (or styles), but I’m not sure there are many rum regions that are truly interesting. For example, as a whisky guy, I just won’t try a dozen (or less) rums from the Dom Rep in one go, that would be the equivalent of a booze suicide. Or a sugary hara-kiri. So, let’s just wander off again if you don’t mind… Coz only fools never change their mind.

Panama 2004 (42%, Plantation, +/-2015)

Panama 2004 (42%, Plantation, +/-2015) Two stars This might be too sweet to a whisky palate, let’s see. Colour: deep gold. Nose: this kind of works, there’s a phenolicity (hey?) that hints at Trinidad or Jamaica, all for the better. So rather black olives plus dried bananas, as well as drops of diesel oil, and little molasses/sugar syrup. Cool! Mouth: a bit too sweet indeed, and even sugary, but there is some backbone. Black olives again, liquorice… Sadly, the sugar wins it, and the whole tends to become sugary. I’m dead sure this baby would have been pretty lovely without added sugar/syrup. Now, is there a market for dry rums? Not too sure… Finish: a bit short and a little too sweet, but what’s in the back seems to be of rather high quality. Salty liquorice and all that. Comments: I’d have loved to be able to try this before it got sweetened. But then again, I’m a whisky guy. SGP:742 - 70 points.

Brugal 'XV Reserva Exclusiva' (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2014)

Brugal 'XV Reserva Exclusiva' (38%, OB, Dominican Republic, +/-2014) Brugal is a great house, but this is another example of some shady tactics. The ‘XV’ suggests this is 15 years old, and yet it’s said to rather lie between 5 and 8. Frankly and just between us, these 20th century tactics just stink. Why not state that this bottling was done as a tribute to rugby, while they were at it? Colour: gold. Nose: okay. Mild smokiness, banana skin, molasses, fresh concrete and raisins. The whole’s light. Mouth: syrupy, sweet, not exactly unpleasant, just sugary and too thick. Liqueurs and syrups, oranges, raisins, honey… and ‘stuff’. The mouthfeel is rather thick, and yet the body’s thin. That doesn’t happen very often. Finish: short, sweet. Candy sugar, sugarcane syrup. Comments: I don’t know what to say. Flabby rum, probably drinkable at around 8°C. Or in cocktails, of course. SGP:720 - 55 points.

Mount Gay '1703' (43%, OB, Barbados, +/-2014)

Mount Gay '1703' (43%, OB, Barbados, +/-2014) Three stars and a half A rather expensive baby (+/-140€). I’ve quite liked other Mount Gays, such as the ‘Extra Old’. Colour: orange. That’s scary, but you never know… Nose: no, this is very fine, leafy, tobacco-like, complex, with some passion fruit, tinned pineapples, hints of aromatic herbs (oregano?), peonies, orange blossom, high-end leather (polo saddle – ha ;-)), honeydew… It’s a complex one for sure. And probably quite old. Mouth: oh good! Tarry and liquoricy, salty, prune-y, with some quince jelly, traces of green olives, dried figs, tar liqueur, some salt, and then a rather big spiciness, with some black pepper and chilli… The body’s oily, and there seems to be a little sugar coating all this, but balance is achieved. Finish: quite long, with some oak, coffee liqueur, olive oil, citron liqueur, a drop of smoked tea, two drops of brine… Comments: very likeable. Its main asset is its complexity, and only the relatively low strength made it a tiny-wee bit weak at times. High quality for sure. SGP:652 - 84 points.

Trois Rivières 1977 (43%, OB, Martinique, +/-2000)

Trois Rivières 1977 (43%, OB, Martinique, +/-2000) Five stars This is genuine agricole, as you may very well know. So French rhum, which is supposed to be better regulated than rum from other ‘free market’ countries where anything’s allowed. I agree, no politics, let’s try this baby! Colour: amber. Nose: ah yes. We’re more on polished woods, ‘the dashboard of an old Jaguar’, dried fruits (pineapples, bananas), and then plenty of mentholy notes, including tiger balm, embrocations ala old Laphroaig, Kool cigarettes, old wine cellar, mushrooms (oyster mushrooms), old pu-ehr tea, garden peat, humus, black earth… A pretty stunning nose, I have to say. Mouth: I believe this baby’s the equivalent of Laphroaig’s old 30, only with more, much more liquorice. Not easy to describe since it’s ‘a compact whole’, but indeed there is a lot of liquorice, salty seaweed, some kind of salted citrus, wagame, a feeling of salty balm… And then even more liquorice. I don’t think I’ve tried many spirits that have been that liquoricy. Finish: long, salty, liquoricy, as phenolic as an old Islay… Great! Comments: no wonder these were legendary. Epitomically agricole! (okay, okay). SGP:553 - 90 points.

Okay, one of the few rums that could ‘climb over’ that Trois Rivières is an old Caroni. Yeah, even if it didn’t age under topical climates…

Caroni 34 yo 1974 (46%, Bristol Spirits, Trinidad, +/-2008)

Caroni 34 yo 1974 (46%, Bristol Spirits, Trinidad, +/-2008) Five stars Many rums from Trinidad or Demerara did actually mature in Scotland or England, and didn’t reach the extreme concentration that’s to be found in their counterparts that matured in their birthplace or thereabouts. Which does not always mean that they’re ‘less good’. Let’s check this one, even if there’s no dead proof that it is, in a way, ‘early landed’ rum. Colour: pale amber. Nose: aaah, oooh… Whiffs of pencil shavings at first, then old engine oil, car engine, Bakelite, dried porcinis, cigars, old Tarragone (Chartreuse)… Then rather fruits, around nectarines, cantaloupes, figs… There is, in a way, a feeling of old arrak sipped somewhere in an old town in the Middle-East. I mean, before we started to create havoc down there. Stupid western politicians, stupid oil companies, stupid weapon dealers… Mouth: wait wait wait, this is a whole world made out of salted fruits, sweet herbs, resinous oils, all things in an old garage, salmiak, dried fruits, greases, tobaccos, mints… In short, this is very Caroni. There’s even some kind of peat. Strength and body are just perfect. Oh and did you notice we were almost on Islay? Finish: long, mentholy, liquoricy, herbal, medicinal… The aftertaste is extremely salty. Comments: I think we managed to find one rum that was even ‘above’ the superb Trois Rivières ‘77. No mean feat, is it. Very phenolic rum. SGP:454 - 91 points.

UPDATE: according to John Barrett via our friend Cyril Weglarz from durhum.com, "From date of distillation this rum was aged at the distillery on the island of Trinidad. Filled into used American Oak barrels it was stored in hot humid conditions and gained a lot of extract from the wood showing good oak flavours. The colour is deep amber and on the nose fruit is still in balance which is interesting for such an old rum stored in wood . We shipped it to the UK in 2007 and bottled it in 2008 . Only four barrels remained..."

(And gracias again, Carsten)

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

 

 

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May 8, 2015


Whiskyfun

Tomaytin, tomahtin…

Let’s call the whole thing off (no, I’m not particularly proud of that one). In theory, we shouldn’t start this with a peater, but since it’s NAS, partly matured in virgin oak and all that (so very contemporary), let’s get rid of it asap.

Tomatin ‘Cù Bòcan’ (46%, OB, peated, 2014)

Tomatin ‘Cù Bòcan’ (46%, OB, peated, 2014) Two stars and a half The story’s so far-fetched that I won’t even tell it. A spectral dog, Gaelic, virgin oak, peat, imagine! Okay, the bit about the spectral dog makes sense… Colour: deep gold. Nose: unusual. Mangos and bananas from the new wood plus some grass smoke or something. And pencil shavings. And cranberries. I wouldn’t say that’s extremely coherent but at least it’s fun. Mouth: hey hey, this is really funny! It reminds me of… say a blend of Arran and Amrut, both peated. Obviously very modern, with much sweetness from the oak, something very easy and, indeed, ‘obvious’, the only thing that’s missing is complexity. But this juice must be pretty young. The peat is less obvious than in the nose, but there’s a growing leafiness that makes it kind of phenolic – although that may rather come from the wood. Finish: quite long, a tad acrid and too leafy. That’s what can happen with virgin oak in my measly experience, the finishes can be a tad wobbly and too tea-ish. Marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: fine, but I feel there’s something ‘rushed’, with a finish that was a tad problematic. And too modern for my taste. SGP:563 - 77 points.

Let’s find a ‘nice clean’ one of the same strength…

Tomatin 20 yo 1993/2014 (46%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 14006, 198 bottles)

Tomatin 20 yo 1993/2014 (46%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 14006, 198 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: there, this is lovely, delicately fruity, with orchard fruits aplenty, sweet barley, and then this kind of tropicality (yeah right) that was to be found in earlier vintages of Tomatin. Around bananas and papayas. Nothing wrong with all this, it’s even pretty perfect. Mouth: wow! Fresh fruits everywhere, papayas again, apples, green melons (yup I’m just back from southern Spain), a wee feeling of spearmint, perhaps a touch of myrtle… So there is some individuality as well. Finish: good length, fresh, fruity, clean… Comments: perfect, uncomplicated, very downable, and simply very excellent. Ideal whisky for summer. Oh and it’s very Tomatin, these wee whiskies do cheer you up! SGP:641 - 87 points.

… the officials are back…

Tomatin 'Cask Strength' (57.5%, OB, +/-2015)

Tomatin 'Cask Strength' (57.5%, OB, +/-2015) Two stars and a half This one’s quite new. No, NAS is fine when the baby’s bottled at 100°proof or more ;-). That’s even traditional. Colour: gold. Nose: very buttery at first nosing. We’re nosing dairy cream, vanilla-flavoured yoghurt, custard and all that. And leaven, white bread… Not too sure, not too sure… And it just wouldn’t change much. Perhaps a feeling of Belgian Gueuze beer? Good, with water: some fruits do come out, but there’s also quite some rubber. Not too sure, the equilibrium is a bit unstable, as they used to say. Mouth (neat): ah, this one has conversation. It’s unusual, strong, rough, grassy, a tad milky again, with some coffee, a big maltiness, an unexpected feeling of tequila, some bitterish tobacco, some sawdust… Really, it is unusual. A rough beast. With water: doesn’t change a lot. Finish: long, a tad zestier – which is nice - but still kind of unclean. The rubber’s still there. Comments: I don’t know, I really don’t know. I may like my Tomatins cleaner. SGP:451 - 78 points.

Tomatin 2003/2014 (58.4%, OB, Macalabur 10th Anniversary, cask #1874, 228 bottles)

Tomatin 2003/2014 (58.4%, OB, Macalabur 10th Anniversary, cask #1874, 228 bottles) Four stars and a half Bottled for some kind of Danish whisky club. Or society. Or shop. Well we love the Danes anyway. Colour: gold. Nose: instantly kills the ‘Cask Strength’, for this baby’s so much cleaner, sharper, better chiselled… It hasn’t got much topicality (I know, I’m making this worse for myself), but it’s got a perfect combination of apples, almond oil, wet limestone, cut grass, and grapefruit. Zing! With water: old hessian and Breton cider. What’s not to like? Mouth (neat): yes this is excellent. A very precise, fruity, mineral and grassy style, a bit austere, but totally whistle-clean. Excellently sharp. With water: ah yes, more cider, lambic, limoncello, and an unexpected salty touch. Finish: long, with more lemon and grass. Comments: the Danes… SGP:461 - 89 points.

(and thanks, Carsten)

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

 

 

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May 7, 2015


Whiskyfun

More bread! I mean, more grain.

I know, we’ve already had grain just the other day, but there’s this new one by the excellent Compass Box, and I just couldn’t let it ‘sink’ to the bottom of WF’s sample library. But first, a little aperitif as usual…

Cameronbridge 19 yo 1995/2014 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Single Grain Collection)

Cameronbridge 19 yo 1995/2014 (43%, Signatory Vintage, Single Grain Collection) Two starsThis should be light as a feather! Colour: white wine. Nose: did you ever nose white calvados? It is a bit like this, fresh, with notes of apples and pears, and in this case something lightly bready. Or rather brioche-y. Really very easy, clean, certainly a bit ‘silent’, but not unpleasant. The pears take over after a few minutes. Mouth: just as easy, sweet, with more pears and apples, plus something slightly bitter in the background. Orange skin. There’s also a little grass and a wee leafiness, maybe from the oak. Finish: medium, grassier. Notes of green walnuts – always this bitter side. Comments: a rather raw and simple spirit, certainly not bad, but I’d rather use it in cocktails, in fact. Or on ice. The question might be, ‘is this any better than Haig Club?’ (also from Cameronbridge). My answer’s ‘yes and no’. SGP:440 - 72 points.

Hedonism ‘Quindecimus’ (46%, Compass Box, blended grain, 5,689 bottles, 2015)

Hedonism ‘Quindecimus’ (46%, Compass Box, blended grain, 5,689 bottles, 2015) Three stars The Scots are using much Roman these days, only Russell Crowe’s missing ;-). Now maybe is that better than ‘Norse’ names straight from an IKEA catalogue… What’s more, Compass Box are 15 this year indeed, congrats! And yes, we still love Fornasetti. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s got more oak than the Cameronbridge, more vanilla, a mild coconutty side, more butterscotch, more toasted brioche, hints of café latte, and then touches of melon and peach. It’s got something of some mild wheated bourbons, as far as I can tell. Mouth: same feeling. White chocolate, vanilla, earl grey tea, grated coconut, then a touch of cologne (nice in this context) and green oranges. Finish: rather long, with a little green oak. And waffles, perhaps. Comments: sure I rather prefer Compass Box’s Clynelish-and/or-Laphroaig-fuelled offerings, but as far as lighter grain whiskies are concerned, I think this one really works. Now Hedonism Maximus (ave!) was in a different league IMHO. SGP:540 - 80 points.

Girvan ‘Patent Still – Proof Strength’ (57.1%, OB, single grain, +/-2014)

Girvan ‘Patent Still – Proof Strength’ (57.1%, OB, single grain, +/-2014) £75 for some no age statement grain whisky. Riiiiiight. Colour: straw. Nose: tutti frutti eau-de-vie running from a still, plus touches of leaves, barley water (yes) and vanilla/coconut (the infernal combo). With water: more grass, but it remains pretty silent. Mouth (neat): sweet alcohol, lime, grass. Some vanilla. With water: more vanilla, apple juice, green tea. I don’t find this too bad, I just find it totally uninteresting. Well, not £75-interesting for sure. Finish: medium, on green apples. Comments: I’m curious about what London’s Islington Court would have said about this baby, back in 1905. Is this really whisky? Or simply cereal spirit? To tell you the truth, I find this bottling rather infuriating. The packing is nice, though. SGP:440 - 60 points.

All right, let’s try to find a special grain…

Chita 4 yo 2011/2014 (58.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Japanese single grain, #G13.1, virgin oak puncheon, 622 bottles)

Chita 4 yo 2011/2014 (58.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Japanese single grain, #G13.1, virgin oak puncheon, 622 bottles) Four stars This is grain whisky by Suntory. I think it’s the first Chita I’ve ever tried. Colour: deep gold. Nose: the oak’s doing the job here, but it is some magnificent oak! Orange cake, dried roses, mellow ginger cake, a touch of old sherry (rather amontillado), some incense, sandalwood, then a wee feeling of pina colada, then plenty of white chocolate… And even a wee feeling of rye, such as what we can find in some ‘good’ new craft Americans. Granted, there are pencil shavings as well, but all that’s under control. With water: oak, at some carpenter’s, new planks, new furniture… And yet, that music works. Mouth (neat): we’re sitting between some much older Willett and some Coffey Malt by another excellent Japanese house. Bursting ginger and cinnamon, then bitter oranges, tobacco, nutmeg, caraway, orange squash, pencil shavings again, rye… Lots happening in this one, and that’s an euphemism. With water: banana cream, cinnamon cake, millionaire shortbread… Isn’t this baby a little… regressive? Finish: quite long and very oaky. Nicely oaky! Comments: some four years old grain whisky, that’s something I shouldn’t like. And yet… Is it serious, doctor? SGP:550 - 87 points.

(and merci beaucoup, Carsten)

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

 

 

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May 6, 2015


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Isle of Jura

And one of these totally useless sessions, as I believe none of these bottlings remains easily available. But this is WF, and to tell you the truth, I’ve always been a huge fan of The Bottlers. Sadly, they don’t seem to bottle much whisky these days, but in the past, they had issued gems and gems. In fact, they even used to rule WF’s ‘top bottlers’ list, which list I’ve stopped maintaining since there are so many very stupid lists on the web these days. I’m looking at you, Facebook…

Isle of Jura 13 yo 1988/2002 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, cask #1645, 378 bottles)
Isle of Jura 13 yo 1988/2002 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, cask #1645, 378 bottles) NOPICT  These bottlings weren’t always great, but they had soul. And they were very fairly priced. Colour: white wine. Nose: this happens with Jura, sometimes you’ve got the feeling that you’re nosing a blend of apple juice and linseed oil. You may add Play-Dho, new leatherette, and putty. And maybe damp clay and chalk. Mouth: indeed, it’s got a wee plastic-y side, plus oils (sunflower), dairy cream, some very dry artisan cider, and, well, leather. Finish: relatively long, a bit herbal bitter, leathery… Comments: a rather hard one. It captured the distillate’s essence, but I guess a few drops of sherry may have made it more, say approachable. For the records. SGP:351 - 70 points.

Isle of Jura 13 yo 1988/2002 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-Chillfiltered Collection, cask #1645, 378 bottles)   Two stars These bottlings weren’t always great, but they had soul. And they were very fairly priced. Colour: white wine. Nose: this happens with Jura, sometimes you’ve got the feeling that you’re nosing a blend of apple juice and linseed oil. You may add Play-Dho, new leatherette, and putty. And maybe damp clay and chalk. Mouth: indeed, it’s got a wee plastic-y side, plus oils (sunflower), dairy cream, some very dry artisan cider, and, well, leather. Finish: relatively long, a bit herbal bitter, leathery… Comments: a rather hard one. It captured the distillate’s essence, but I guess a few drops of sherry may have made it more, say approachable. For the records. SGP:351 - 70 points.

Isle of Jura 18 yo 1989/2007 (52.7%, The Bottlers, cask #1107) Five stars Please fasten your seatbelts. Colour: pale gold. Nose: so unmistakably Jura! Baby milk, carbon paper, new 1980s car (when they were full of plastic, remember?), copper, horse dung, manure, farmyard… Sure it’s a bit ‘love-it-or-hate-it’, but it’s extremely ‘true’. With water: some seawater, freshly squeezed apples, powdered milk, sunflower oil, engine oil… It’s Jura, quoi. Mouth (neat): p.e.r.f.e.c.t. Acrid, lemony, sharp… This is pure grapefruit juice matured in stone flagons. Love this. With water: greatly carbony, gravelly, oily, citrusy… Finish: long, acrid, drying, kind of smoky, mineral, ashy… Yeah! Comments: a bottling that perfectly captured Jura’s style. Now, it’s no consensual style – at all – but The Bottlers deserve kisses and hugs for having bottled this very idiosyncratic beauty. This, is terroir in whisky. Can we have new bottlings, Zubair Mohamed? Please!!! SGP:462 - 90 points.

We’ve got plenty of other Juras to taste, but that’ll happen another day.

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

 

Whiskyfun fav of the month

April 2015

Favourite recent bottling:
Karuizawa 35 yo 1978/2014 (63%, OB, No.1 Drinks, bourbon, cask #8383)  - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Glenlochy 25 yo 1969/1995 (62.2%, OB, Rare Malts, 20cl) - WF 92

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Lagavulin 16 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2014) - WF 90

Favourite malternative:
Indonesia 10 yo 2004/2015 (43%, Compagnie des Indes, cask #581, 259 bottles) - WF 87

 

 

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May 5, 2015


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Blair Athol

I’ve always found Blair Athol quite summery, and always liked the very pretty distillery and its people.  Black fungus? What black fungus? And guess what, we won’t have many today, but they’ll all be written with only one ‘L’.

Blair Athol 1991/2014 'Foraged Fruit Fool' (46%, Wemyss Malts, barrel, 330 bottles)

Blair Athol 1991/2014 'Foraged Fruit Fool' (46%, Wemyss Malts, barrel, 330 bottles) Four stars Forages fruit fool? Why not! Now we don’t taste price tags, but the price is very high (around 150€ a skittle). Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a very sweet, almost sugary malt on the nose. Apple crumble, pineapple pie and all that. On the other hand, there’s an impeccable freshness that rises to your nostrils, with some fennel, cut apples, melons, peaches, cherries and even a hint of orange squash. Summery indeed. Mouth: excellently fruity, between a basket of ‘western’ orchard fruits and quite some citrus. Pink grapefruits and greengages spring to my mind. Very nice, fresh and fruity combination. Also ripe gooseberries and papayas. Excellent body, the strength is perfect, water is superfluous. Finish: medium length, clean, just as fruity, with added touches of mint and a drop of cough syrup, probably from the cask. Comments: a very easy, fruity, yet complex and very satisfying summery Blair Athol. Some sides reminded me of the fabulous old official 8yo black label. Or was that a 10? SGP:641 - 87 points.

Blair Athol 20 yo 1993/2013 (59.1%, The First Editions, sherry butt, cask #ES9990, 541 bottles)

Blair Athol 20 yo 1993/2013 (59.1%, The First Editions, sherry butt, cask #ES9990, 541 bottles) Three stars I’m not 100% sure sherry butts always work with Blair Athol’s style – although I seem to remember we’ve tried one or two great ones. Let’s see. Colour: gold. Nose: it’s refill, most probably. All for the better, and yet there is this sourness, between apple juice and, perhaps, old balsamic vinegar. Vanilla-flavoured yoghurt, broken branches and roots, new wood, rubbed mint leaves… I do not find many fruits but maybe is that the high strength. With water: some wood dust, wet branches… But also pleasant notes of leaven, dough… It’s malt, after all. Mouth (neat): ah, now we’re talking! A perfect marmalade with bitter oranges, touches of ginger, a few raisins and a dash of white pepper. This works very well. With water: scrap that, it works extremely well. Fruit eaux-de-vies aged in elegant oak. Pears, melons, plums… Finish: medium length. More citrus fruits. Comments: one of these malts that, in my opinion, work much better on the palate. SGP:641 - 82 points.

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback
PJ

PJ

 

 

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May 4, 2015


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Auchroisk
vs. Speyside Distillery

I know, doesn’t make much sense. But hey, the strengths are the same!

Auchroisk 12 yo 2002/2014 (46%, Hepburn's Choice, 407 bottles)

Auchroisk 12 yo 2002/2014 (46%, Hepburn's Choice, 407 bottles) Two stars and a half Not too sure a 12 yo Auchroisk at 46% vol. at around 75€ is the bargain of the century, especially since there must be millions of similar casks sleeping in central Scotland, but there… Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a warm and hottish averagely fruity and malty spirit, with no flaws and no big assets either. Simply nice, sweet, slightly fruity and pretty barleyish malt. Touches of almonds. Mouth: typical fruit salad topped with barley wine and a bit of honey. Good malt whisky for sure, but given the mundaneness of this baby, and despite these hints of espresso (love coffee), I’m not sure I’ll remember the name of this whisky forever. Finish: medium. Very malty, fruity, simple, easy, ‘evident’. Comments: good, not great. Between us, I believe these casks should go into blends. No flaws, quite the contrary, but no interest either. In other words, doesn’t stand out. And yet, it’s good stuff. SGP:541 - 78 points.

Owen

Speyside 18 yo 'Spey' (46%, OB, 1500 bottles, +/-2014)

Speyside 18 yo 'Spey' (46%, OB, 1500 bottles, +/-2014) Three starsThat’s right, Michael Owen’s Spey Distillery. It seems that it’s big in China – or is that around China – but within European circles, it’s virtually unknown. It’s true that the name’s just too generic to catch any attention. Michael Owen’s a famous painter, isn’t he? Colour: gold. Nose: ‘nice’. I do not find anything better to say. Or rather this, it’s a bit Chivassy, that is to say that everything works in sync (soft oak, overripe apples, malt, honey, oranges, cake, cinnamon), but that there aren’t enough asperities to make it… say memorable. And yet, it’s ‘nice’. Mouth: of course it’s ‘nice’. It’s even ‘good’. Apples, honey, cinnamon, gingerbread, marmalade, brioche, Mars bar, vanilla, malt, café latte… Seriously, it’s really ‘good’. Just a tad blendish, but ‘good’. Nobody will ever stand against this bottling. Finish: medium. Honeyed malt and stewed apples. Oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: seriously, I find this good, even more than good. I’m not sure this wouldn’t challenge Glenlivet’s current 18 in some markets, but then again, it’s probably a matter of marketing budget. So, who’s that Michael Owen chap? SGP:541 - 82 points.

Well, these duos can be a bit boring, that’s why I’m not doing many of them, and always feel the need to add more. A session should be a session. So, let’s add one. Maybe another challenger from the same region… eenie meenie…

Glen Moray 22 yo 1991/2014 (56.6%, Adelphi, refill bourbon, cask #9346, 266 bottles)

Glen Moray 22 yo 1991/2014 (56.6%, Adelphi, refill bourbon, cask #9346, 266 bottles) Two stars and a half I know, this is unfair, this Adelphi may crush them both. But isn’t life generally unfair? Colour: pale gold. Nose: wait, the die is not cast. Maybe that’s the high strength, but this little Moray isn’t very talkative, I even find it very shy. Perhaps apple peelings, perhaps Pils beer, perhaps custard… Or is it just sleeping? With water: not quite. Apple juice and corn syrup blandola. Mouth (neat): oranges and pink grapefruits everywhere, but this is very strong. No it’s not very strong, but it feels so. The cask must have been very refill, if you see what I mean. With water: nah, good easy average midsweet malt, with apples, pears, sweet barley and a touch of lemon. Finish: medium, sweet, slightly honeyed, barleyish, slightly oaky. A feeling of apple juice. Comments: very un-Adelphi in my book, this one. It’s not bad at all, it’s just a bit… zzz… boring. Apologies (never apologise, S.!) SGP:541 - 79 points.

Waah, not sure this little session was an utter success.

 

 

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April 2015 - part 2 <--- May 2015 - part 1 ---> May 2015 - part 2


 

 

Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Isle of Jura 18 yo 1989/2007 (52.7%, The Bottlers, cask #1107)

Caroni 34 yo 1974 (46%, Bristol Spirits, Trinidad, +/-2008)

Trois Rivières 1977 (43%, OB, Martinique, +/-2000)