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Hi, you're in the Archives, May 2017 - Part 1

       
 

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

 

May 14, 2017


Whiskyfun

Malternatives, Foursquare by eight

Barbados

Many rum enthusiasts are talking about Barbados’ Foursquare these days, as the relatively new and rather creative distillery (born in 1996) is among the heralds of unadulterated rum. A difficult position, as many corporations would prefer that ‘rum’ would remain a very loose category, where anyone could do just anything in the labs, including flavouring pure ethanol using almost any ingredients, and still call the end result ‘rum’. Which, to me, is exactly like calling any flavoured vodka ‘whisky’. But let’s stop ranting, and try to know Foursquare a little better…

Doorly’s 5 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2017)

Doorly’s 5 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2017) Three stars I think Doorly’s is the most famous brand by Foursquare Distillery, and I believe it’s a blend of pot still and column rums. I had liked their Doorly’s XO a lot a few years back (WF 85). Colour: gold. Nose: vanilla and raisins plus Swiss milk chocolate and notes of cane juice at first nosing, then deeper, albeit tiny notes of earth and leaves. Oranges coming out after just two minutes, while the whole remains rather ‘easy’ and even a notch light. It’s a gentleman. Mouth: very good, bright, with oranges and cane juice, you’d almost think this is a readymade dry cocktail at high strength. Sips very well, even if it’s not a very complex rum. A wee touch of coconut – but can you say ‘wee’ about rum? Finish: medium, clean, cane-y. A little tobacco and more oranges in the aftertaste, as well as mangos. Comments: feels natural. Loved the easy fresh fruits in it, now I think it’s much less ‘phenolic’ than the XO. SGP:641 - 80 points.

Doorly’s 12 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2017)

Doorly’s 12 yo (40%, OB, Barbados, +/-2017) Four stars It seems that some Madeira wood has been in partial use here. Colour: amber. Nose: this is totally different, much drier, almost malty at times, with cut grass, autumn leaves, walnuts, and damp earth. Goes towards cigars, morels and cocoa after one minute, which is just lovely. More the XO as I remember it – but I tried that one a long time ago. Mouth: excellent. Many more tropical fruits, bananas, pineapples, or mangos, while the backbone remains dry and, well, rightous shall I say. In short, it’s very fruity, but never whore-ish. Good body at just 40% vol., which means that the distillate’s ‘heavy’ enough. Finish: medium, midway between a full-tropicalness and drier, earth/tobacco notes, with also some liquorice. Comments: what you can do without any additives! Wonderful fruitiness. SGP:651 - 85 points.

Foursquare 11 yo ‘Zinfandel Cask Blend’ (43%, OB, Barbados, 2015)

Foursquare 11 yo ‘Zinfandel Cask Blend’ (43%, OB, Barbados, 2015) Three stars and a half Zinfandel, well well well… But let us have no pre-emptive judgments… Colour: deep gold with apricoty hues. Nose: it’s immensely drier than the Doorly’s 12, and more buttery and cake-y, then vanilla-ed. Touches of strawberries and raspberries in the back (or the jams made thereof), but other than that, this baby’s rather restrained. Whiffs of earl grey tea, and perhaps blackcurrant buds. Mouth: there’s more happening this time, with some liquorice, mango jam, coconut oil, sugarcane syrup, mandarins… In short, I like this palate much better than the nose that was a little shier. Drops of cranberry juice, pomegranates… Finish: medium, a tad syrupy this time, with some vanilla and a little curaçao liqueur. Touches of buttery oak in the aftertaste. Comments: the Doorly’s 12 was more ‘immediate’, more ‘easy’. You need easiness, sometimes. SGP:541 - 83 points.

Four Square 2004/2013 (43%, Bristol Classic Rum, Barbados)

Four Square 2004/2013 (43%, Bristol Classic Rum, Barbados) Three stars Another ‘blend’ of column and pot still rums from Foursquare, partially aged on location, then shipped to the UK. Oh and yes, they say ‘Four Square’. Colour: pale gold. Nose: dry and vegetal, leafy, marginally earthy, with some waxes and oils, and very few fruits. Perhaps white peaches. This one’s very shy indeed, the Zinfandel was much more expressive mind you. Mouth: ah, no, now we’re talking. Plain and pure cane juice, with touches of tinned pineapples and the loveliest small bananas. Also superb notes of tangerines. This remains subtle, elegant, and rather refreshing. But oh these tangerines! Finish: a little short, but totally tangerine-forward this time. Comments: I’d love to know the proportions between pot still and column. These tangerines really rock nonetheless. SGP:531 - 82 points.

Four Square 14 yo 2001/2016 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Barbados, cask # HL 15044, 353 bottles)

Four Square 14 yo 2001/2016 (46%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Barbados, cask # HL 15044, 353 bottles) Four stars and a halfAlways watch this series! Colour: gold. Nose: not a very fat one, but there’s some pot-stillness to it. Candle wax, marzipan, green bananas, dates, custard, and oh glory and blazing light, there are wee hints of green olives, as well as distant whiffs of burning papers! Let’s say it is very lightly phenolic on the nose. Mouth: yeah this is really good, and you definitely feel how this style sits right between the heavy ‘Jamaicans’ and the lighter and fruitier, say ‘Cubans’. Superb oiliness, light olives, cane juice, tobacco, smoked tea, oranges, half-ripen bananas… Tends to become salty, all for the better. Finish: long, clearly briny now. H.u.r.r.a.y. Comments: very high class Foursquare. SGP:452 - 89 points.

Aren’t we picking up speed and traction?...

Foursquare 2002/2016 (56%, L’Esprit, Barbados, cask #BB15)

Foursquare 2002/2016 (56%, L’Esprit, Barbados, cask #BB15) Five stars Another great little bottler, this time from Brittany, France. If you ask me, you may buy their stuff with your eyes closed. Sadly their website is down at time of writing, so I’m putting a picture of another bottling from theirs. Colour: straw. Nose: this may well be pure pot still, but I couldn’t be sure, since their website is down etc. It’s stunning, lying between an Appleton and, say a Bellevue, with our dear friends the olives and the most lovely rotting fruits. Oranges, bananas… I’m also finding a whole bag of raw liquorice lozenges. So far, so fab. With water: yeah yeah yeah, tarred chalk and used engine oil (in an old garage etc.) Mouth (neat): sweet Mary and Joseph! Ultra-heavy liquorice, iodine, puréed olives, brine, tar, engine oil… We’re almost at Hampden’s! With water: mezcal, salt, grapefruits, liquorice, olives… Nice cocktail. Finish: very long, with more lemons, and a tarry/salty/smoky aftertaste. Comments: I’m not saying this because of the quality of course, rather because of the style, are we totally sure this is Foursquare? An immense bottling, just hope their website will be up and running soon, etc. SGP:464 - 91 points.

Foursquare 2006/2016 (57%, Transcontinental Rum Line, Barbados, 551 bottles)

Foursquare 2006/2016 (57%, Transcontinental Rum Line, Barbados, 551 bottles) Three stars From that lovely line by La Maison du Rum, I mean, du Whisky, this baby was ‘69% aged in continental weather’. Which means either that it was 31% aged in tropical weather, or that it’s some very erotic rum. Let’s see… Colour: pale gold. Nose: back to relative gentleness, moderately ripe bananas, hay, chalk, tangerines, icing sugar, mirabelle liqueur, and yeah, one tiny olive. The smallest picholine. With water: it’s a grassy sugar cane that wins, but this is no ‘big’ rum. Orange zests. Mouth (neat): same feeling of sitting between two worlds. On the one side, some slightly sugary fruits, jams, or liqueurs, and on the other side, some briny and tarry phenolness. Oh and olives. With water: same nice balance, but it’s a little frustrating. Mister rum, make up your mind! Finish: medium, and a little sugary, quite curiously. Comments: this baby lost me a bit, especially after I had added water. But of course, it’s very good rum. SGP:541 - 80 points.

Good, I’m going to leave the last word to the owners. After all, we may need a little more savoir-vivre in the world of booze too…

Foursquare 11 yo 2004/2015 (59%, OB, Barbados, bourbon cask)

Foursquare 11 yo 2004/2015 (59%, OB, Barbados, bourbon cask) Five stars This one too is a blend of column and pot still rum from the same distillery, so a ‘single blended rum’. Not unlike what they sometimes did at Ben Nevis or Lochside. This baby’s part of the owners’ ‘Exceptional Casks’ series. Colour: gold. Nose: balance may well be the key here. Balance between cakes and sweet tropical syrups on the one side, and grassier, canier, leafier notes on the other side. We’re talking coconut oil, blond cigarettes, biscuits, gingerbread, mead, plantains, speculoos, almonds… With water: mud! Love the smell of mud… (Is it serious, doctor?) Mouth (neat): oh, the tarry side is striking back! This is massive, salty, liquoricy, mentholy… After all, that one by L’Esprit (you know, the great people whose website is down at time of writing) was probably Foursquare indeed. Wonderful grassy bitterness, sharp lemons, olives (no s… ugar), tar, tapenade, salted anchovies… Perfect! With water: more salt, tar, lemon, and olive oil, the heaviest Jamaicans aren’t far away, and yet a wee cane-y lightness remains there. Indeed, A Cuban lightness. Finish: long, heavy when neat, easier and lighter when reduced down to approx. 40% vol., unsurprisingly so. A little oak in the aftertaste. Comments: possibly more pot than column. Brilliant. SGP:552 - 90 points.

Eight’s the deal. See you tomorrow.

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

 

 

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May 13, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Two Naked Rosebank

Like all closed distilleries these days Rosebank is becoming scarcer and more expensive, and indeed the whisky has many admirers. Little wonder there are always rumours about the distillery re-opening or the name having been 'acquired'. However, I have never been the biggest fan of Rosebank, I was always more of a St Magdalene guy. But let's try a couple of youthful and hopefully pretty distillate forward examples today and see if I'll be converted.

 

Rosebank 11 yo 1990/2001 (46%, Murray McDavid for Dominick McGeehan)

Rosebank 11 yo 1990/2001 (46%, Murray McDavid for Dominick McGeehan) A rather obscure old Murray McDavid bottling for a private customer. Colour: Straw, almost with a green tinge. Nose: Hey...hay? Seriously, a barnyard with a visiting contingent of lemons and other assorted fresh citrus fruits. The rest all on cut grass, parsley, mineral notes such as pebbles, perhaps a touch of charcoal and some coal hearths. Goes on with a few wildflowers and some more very pleasing herbal notes. Mouth: a little simple perhaps, there's some more nice citrus, green fruits and grassy notes, but also some porridge and a slightly cardboardy note. Perhaps some nice spiciness after a while and some olive oil notes which give the impression of quite a luxurious texture. Although, overall the palate does feel curiously a little weak for 46%. Finish: Medium with some warming notes of clove rock, black pepper and green tea. Comments: I like it but the nose is the best part. Nosebank? SGP: 461 - 84 points.

 

 

Rosebank 1985/1994 (61.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #25.8)

Rosebank 1985/1994 (61.3%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #25.8) A Rosebank from my vintage, not a great year for whisky in general I'm sad to report. Colour: white wine. Nose: This one is immediately much sweeter with notes of butterscotch and barley sugar leaping out the glass. More gentle notes of hay and barnyards with some gentle natural vanilla and a nice note of cloves along with a slightly coastal side. With water: a lovely hessian note arises with soft notes of white pepper, wax, fresh peaches and mirabelle. Water really lifts the nose up several levels. Mouth: Like the nose this is surprisingly gentle on arrival considering the strength, lemon oil, some light waxiness, a not overly hopped IPA, some freshly baked sourdough. I these slightly fermentary and grassy characteristics underpinned by a lean citrus streak, very refreshing. The sweetness remains quite natural too with more sweet cereal and barley sugar notes. With water: more citrus, green fruit, more assorted freshly ground peppercorns of varying colours and more of this waxy, sheep  wool oiliness (I recommend chewing on some sheep's wool sometime Serge, strictly for professional reasons of course). Again water seems to just complexify and elevate everything. Finish: Long, spicy and full of deft touches of citrus, gooseberry and cereal. Comments: I had this one around the 85 mark but water easily took it up several notches. A lovely, distillate driven and quaffable Rosebank. Also a great one to banish these notions that Lowland malts were all wishy washy, easy peezy drams. SGP: 562 - 89 points.

 

 

 

May 12, 2017


Whiskyfun

Young Othrusk

Right, that would be Auchroisk. When whisky started on the Web, one of the most popular matters was ‘how to pronounce the names of the Scottish distilleries’. Happy times! So, Auchroisk is Othrusk.

Auchroisk 8 yo 2008/2016 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask #11469, 249 bottles)

Auchroisk 8 yo 2008/2016 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask #11469, 249 bottles) Four stars One of these mad very young whiskies from little-known distilleries that some indies are having these days. Worth bottling as single malts? Sometimes yes, when the distillate is characterful, and sometimes no (when it just isn’t). Colour: pale white wine. Nose: warm porridge, leaven, bread dough at the baker’s early in the morning, very fresh kougelhopf, lemon peel, and just ale. Is that pleasant? I say it is. Mouth: impressed. All the fresh pastries in the world, plus some orange blossom water and some light acacia honey, then sweet barley. But this is not only barley eau-de-vie, mind you. Finish: medium, very clean, close to the grain, and appropriately sweet. Comments: a great surprise. A bottle to taste alongside some white mezcals and high-esters rums. SGP:551 - 86 points.

So obviously, we want more…

Auchroisk 8 yo 2008/2016 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, refill hogshead, cask #11190)

Auchroisk 8 yo 2008/2016 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, refill hogshead, cask #11190) Four stars This one is actually younger than its sibling, since it was bottled four months earlier. Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: this cask was a little lighter, it seems. I get more pear juice, and perhaps more fresh herbs, mint, parsley, dill… Now it’s no less lovely, and I particularly enjoy this development on aniseed and lilies of the valley. Mouth: we’re extremely close to the other one, but indeed there is a little more mint, and lime. Almost some readymade mojito! The freshness really is incredible. Finish: medium, fresh, definitely more lemony than the other one. Comments: I could not decide between both, they’ve both got their own charms. I think I’m going to watch Auchroisk more closely in the future… SGP:561 - 86 points.

Perhaps an older one… Barely older…

Auchroisk 9 yo (46%, James Eadie, 1st fill bourbon, cask #804015, 296 bottles, 2017)

Auchroisk 9 yo (46%, James Eadie, 1st fill bourbon, cask #804015, 296 bottles, 2017) Three stars and a half James Eadie is an old brand that’s been recently revived. It seems that they were also brewers in the early 1900s. Colour: pale gold. Nose: more oak influence after the refill hoggies, obviously, but bizarrely, this one’s a notch shier for a few seconds, but gets then really tropical, with pineapples, bananas, coconut milk, and of course vanilla. Yet I wouldn’t quite call it ‘some readymade pina colada’. Mouth: we’re getting closer. A bit of sour wood, then lemons and cider apples, then muesli and porridge, then indeed, barley. Finish: medium, fresh, on a fruit salad coated with custard and coconut oil. A little ginger and cinchona in the aftertaste (tonic water). Comments: embarrassingly good, I had thought some more active wood would have made it duller and more, say vulgar. Not the case at all, the differences are marginal, I say bravo. SGP:641 – 84 points.

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

 

 

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May 11, 2017


Whiskyfun

Glen Grant ad lib part deux

Because we have more, many more… Including an unusual apéritif…

Glen Grant-Glenlivet 10 yo (75° proof, Army & Navy Stores Ltd., 1950s?)

Glen Grant-Glenlivet 10 yo (75° proof, Army & Navy Stores Ltd., 1950s?) Five stars Apparently, their gracious majesties’ armies used to have it good, with some lovely rums and whiskies before and after the battles. Yes, perhaps even during the battles. Colour: deep gold. Nose: extraordinary, General! You could believe this is 1950s Laphroaig, since it’s ridden with ripe mangos, grapefruit marmalade, engine oil, and then wee drops of linseed oil and old natural turpentine. In other words, a painter’s workshop. Mouth: totally extraordinary. Waxy and resinous tropical fruits, papayas, mangos, jams, chutneys, a little Thai basil, peppermint, smoked beef… Better stop know, the list would be endless. Finish: rather long, and a notch spicier. Ever tried any black pepper liqueur? Some coffee in the aftertaste, which is a little surprising, but perfect as coffee always works brilliantly when you need to refresh your palate. Comments: where do we enlist? SGP:652 - 94 points.

Glen Grant 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11332, 206 bottles)

Glen Grant 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11332, 206 bottles) Four stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a fresh, pretty average in the best sense of that word, natural Speysider, with apples, pears, greengages, and gooseberries, then perhaps melons and certainly some barley water. With water: grass juice, apples, raw barley, and these melons again, ala Bruichladdich. Mouth (neat): very average again, and yet very good. Tart apples, green apples, a little lemon, green melons, then bags of greener spices, cardamom, green pepper… A very nice orchardy/peppery combination. With water: takes water well, and gets a notch more biscuity and vanilla-y. Finish: medium, rather sweet and a little thick and oily. Syrups. Comments: very average indeed, but in the sense of ‘not being extravagant’ or ‘not being diverging’. Totally a big fat 85 in my book. SGP:541 - 85 points.

Glen Grant 20 yo 1996/2016 (54.4%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon)

Glen Grant 20 yo 1996/2016 (54.4%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon) Three stars and a half I agree, we should have had this one after the DL, but since the strength was higher, I had thought… Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s more divergent, with more oils, touches of coconut and vanilla, lime blossom, lager beer, tobacco… So it’s less ‘average’, and more ‘whacky’, if you like. In other words, less perfect. With water: crushed barley, damp oatcakes, apple juice. Loses its edges. Mouth (neat): nah, super good. Punchy sweet barley and pink grapefruits, then many spices. Poppy seeds, cardamom, caraway… It’s really different, and not one of the gentlest Glen Grants. With water: yes it is. Barley water… Perhaps a tad narrow? Finish: medium, sweet and malty. Brioche-y, as they say in Paris. Comments: very good, but may lack a few asperities here and there as soon as you’ve added water, as they say at marketing agencies (what?) SGP:541 - 83 points.

Perhaps another 1996…

Glen Grant 20 yo 1996/2016 (50%, The Single Cask, cask #67183, 101 bottles)

Glen Grant 20 yo 1996/2016 (50%, The Single Cask, cask #67183, 101 bottles) Three stars and a half I don’t know much about this bottler, it seems that they have a bar in Singapore. And me who used to think that there was only the famous and glorious Auld Alliance… Colour: straw. Nose: vodka and vanilla at first (and that’s not un-nice mind you), then bags and bags of barley and white chocolate. With water: touches of bananas. Mouth (neat): it’s one the indies that are extremely close to the OBs, if you ask me. Apple juice, muesli, oranges, Jaffa cake. Good, square, unquestionable. With water: very easy, good, simple, good. Apples, barley, cereals, touches of white pepper, corn syrup. Finish: medium, rather oily, and rather on barley syrup. Comments: I won’t use the expression ‘appropriately average’ but there, you get the idea. SGP:541 - 83 points.

Let’s call on the old ones for help…

Glen Grant 22 yo 1961/1983 (45%, Nadi Fiori, 350 bottles)

Glen Grant 22 yo 1961/1983 (45%, Nadi Fiori, 350 bottles) Four stars Nadi’s one – if not the – gentleman of whisky in Italy. A true pioneer, and a very charming and engaging person. Now this looks like a Chivas bottle, or was it George Strachan? Colour: white wine. Nose: rather smoky old-style Glen Grant, with some soot, metal polish, then garden herbs, basil, parsley, then rather clay and chalk. No roundness and no fruits this time, we’ve gone back to the old ages. Although, perhaps, if you’re really listening, there might be some pink bananas… Mouth: perhaps a tad clumsy at time, uncertain, hesitating between some ashy spices and a brighter fruitiness, but full of charms, sooty, old-cellary (ooh my ears, S.), with some beetroots and simply some earth. It’s as if a part of the malt had been kilned. Earthy celeriac, smoked turnip. Finish: medium, salty/earthy. There’s a great distillery in Alsace, called Metté, where they distil celeriac from time to time. Now they don’t smoke it. Comments: intriguing and worth the experience. Nutshell, fun. SGP:372 - 87 points.

We had six last time, six will do again today…

Glen Grant 1954/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Vintage, casks #1821-1822)

Glen Grant 1954/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Vintage, casks #1821-1822) Five stars We’ve already tried many 1954s by G&M (come on S., you’ve tried three of them), and only found glory and honour. Even at 40% vol. Colour: rich amber. Nose: get out of here. Amazing old cognac, raisins, woody honey (chestnut), menthol, camphor, precious old teas, 19th century calvados, benzoin, rose petals, castor oil, cedar wood, plasticine… This noses of time, and in my own world, time should be consubstantial to whisky. There. Mouth: you sit down, you listen. Luwak coffee (any proper coffee, really), ultra-black chocolate, the blackest Russian tea, dried dates and prunes, black yet silky tannins, and more black chocolate, cartloads of black chocolate. One drop of slivovitz for good measure. Never do the 40% feel too low, quite an achievement indeed. Finish: not the longest ever, but this chocolaty tannicity just works, and so do the gentiany/earthy touches in the aftertaste. It’s even got a joyful schnappsness (what what what?) Comments: glorious indeed. Now, this at 43 or 44 or 45% vol… Just saying… I know, rambling on… SGP:451 - 91 points.

(thank you Patrick from Geneva)

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

 

 

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May 10, 2017


Whiskyfun

Glen Grant ad lib

Bags of Glen Grant around, let’s do our job, which is not our job. Starting with the usual old apéritif…

Glen Grant 5 yo (40%, OB, +/-1995)

Glen Grant 5 yo (40%, OB, +/-1995) Three stars and a half I believe this was the last inception of the popular 5 yo under this old label. ‘Vintaged’ versions had been more common a few years earlier. Colour: white wine. Nose: very refreshing, with notes of cut apples (tart granny smith) and a little chalk, with a moderate porridgeness and some old metal (old copper coins, old tools)… More dry character than in recent young OBs. Mouth: it’s really herbal and mineral at first sipping, and gets then tart, almost acidic, with a lot of lemon as well as a feeling of grapefruit. There’s something very pleasantly better (Fernet Branca). Finish: medium, dry, with touches of salt and even more chalk and lemon. I’d swear there’s a little smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: a Glen Grant that’s very distillate-driven. Excellent given the age – and the prices at auctions. SGP:452 - 84 points.

Glen Grant 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2016)

Glen Grant 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2016) Two stars and a half A brand new one this time, let’s see how it compares now that the packaging’s been revamped. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s a much fruitier and, bizarrely, younger style that we’re getting now, with pears and plums, fruity beer, and orange cake. There less dry depth, let’s say, and more easy fruitiness. Mouth: indeed, once again this has rather less character, and more sweetness. Vanilla, cake, a little maple syrup, and a wee malty bitterness in the background. Very middle-of-the-road, but not in a bad way. Finish: medium, with a little more pepper. Comments: honest and loyal malt whisky. Not sure it’ll stand the premiumised packaging, but there, I think it’s good. SGP:541 - 79 points.

There’s also a new 12…

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

Glen Grant 12 yo (43%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars Wow, 43%, a gift from the gods! Colour: white wine. Un-caramelised, undoubtedly. Nose: close to the 10, just a tad sharper and more vanilled, as if there was more first fill bourbon wood. A little grassier as well, touches of minerals that remind us of the old 5, and more and more green apples and pears after a while. Perhaps not just the 10 with 15 more €uros ;-)… Mouth: this time it’s a rather rounder 10, with more barley syrup, orange liqueur, apple pie, and pear juice. I find this good. Finish: medium, a tad maltier, with a little honey and orange again. Comments: more than just an access-category single malt. I think I like it a little better than the new 18 that we tried last year. SGP:551 - 82 points.

Let’s rather talk to the indies…

Glen Grant 20 yo 1995/2016 (43%, Signatory Vintage, bourbon, casks #88170+88171)

Glen Grant 20 yo 1995/2016 (43%, Signatory Vintage, bourbon, casks #88170+88171) Four starsAlways loved this little series by Signatory, the prices were always very fair. Colour: white wine. Nose: perfectly light and herbal. We’re wandering throughout a Bavarian forest, with fern, mushrooms, mosses, autumn leaves, humus… This is all very nice. Then we get the usual porridge and the lightest vanilla from some easy refill casks. Funny touches of dry gingerbread and cinnamon cake. Mouth: pretty perfect. The oak got dry and spicy, and there are treys full of ginger cookies, oranges nailed with cloves, and spicy bread. This is unexpected and very ‘indie’, for it’s so different from any rounder and softer OBs. Finish: long, always green and spicy. Cumin oil? Bitter oranges for sure. Comments: invigorating and refreshing, in all senses of those words. SGP:361 - 86 points.

Glen Grant-Glenlivet 31 yo 1985/2017 (44.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, sherry, 312 bottles)

Glen Grant-Glenlivet 31 yo 1985/2017 (44.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, sherry, 312 bottles) Five stars A brand new one, it’s already from Cadenhead’s summer collection 2017. Colour: gold. Nose: walnut cake and dry pipe tobacco, does that ring a bell to you? There’s even a high-esters side to this baby, with some manure-y and petroly notes, and then simply more walnut cake and wine. I’m a sucker for this style, and in this case the job was executed to near perfection. Mouth: impeccable dry walnutty arrival, then a spicy/earthy side, some bitter oranges, and certainly some umami. You may add drops of soy sauce and chicken bouillon and you’ve got a pretty accurate picture. Finish: rather long, perfectly balanced between the bitter oranges and the walnut wine. Comments: love the old-school side here. And the old rancio, mind you. SGP:462 - 91 points.

Do we have room for a sixth Glen Grant? Always, but no need to go too far…

Glen Grant-Glenlivet 31 yo 1984/2016 (46.1%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, sherry, 414 bottles)

Glen Grant-Glenlivet 31 yo 1984/2016 (46.1%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, sherry, 414 bottles) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: a similar style in spite of a different vintage, but this one’s perhaps even more umami-esque, with more heavy mushrooms as well, and perhaps fewer walnuts. Also hints of Jamaican rum (black olives!), leather, myrtle, coriander, clay, fennel, gingerbread… And a pack of Turkish cigarettes. Mouth: perhaps a little more jammed-up than the 1985, with some fruity tobacco and some kind of smoked cake, then roasted chestnuts and once again, bitter oranges. A drop of agave syrup, a drop of citron liqueur. Finish: long, with some grassy chocolate and the usual bitter oranges. Comments: pretty exceptional, it’s just that I enjoyed the new 1985 even more, for that one was so rancioty. Very high class nonetheless – oh and please give these some of your precious time. SGP:461 - 90 points.

More Glen Grant very, and I mean very soon… Stay tuned.

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

 

 

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May 9, 2017


Whiskyfun

Malty Mixtures

Blends of stuff, taken at random. What we used to call bastard whiskies in the olden days, before political correctness started to rule (a part of) the Web…

Leomhann 28 yo 1989/2017 (51.8%, Murray McDavid, for Glen Fahrn, blended malt, bourbon barrel, 136 bottles)

Leomhann 28 yo 1989/2017 (51.8%, Murray McDavid, for Glen Fahrn, blended malt, bourbon barrel, 136 bottles) Four stars Glen Fahrn, cool Swiss people, very passionate about anything boozy. Or the art of doing things seriously without taking everything too seriously, which usually leads to high successes. Now as for what Leomhann means, don’t ask… Colour: straw. Nose: fresh and Cuban! Going towards Havana Club, but indeed with much more depth and complexity, in this case many apples and all the pastries made thereof, worldwide. Also light honeys, apple pies, agave syrup, and some kind of sweetened porridge. Oh hell, porridge with a lot of sweet whisky inside. With water: sunflower oil and fresh pasta. Perhaps crushed piñon nuts, as they say in Switzerland. Mouth (neat): bright and very fresh! Cider apples and pink grapefruits, then kiwis and oranges. Herbs and flowers in the background, elderberry flowers, mullein… Top notch bright and complex old malt, of noble origins, as they used to say in neck booklets. With water: some mint coming through. Finish: medium, complex, rather herbal. Some raw pears and more elderberry syrup. Comments: psst, I’ve heard this was actually Warhead aka teaspooned Glenfiddich. Seriously! SGP:451 - 87 points.

Blended Malt Whisky ‘Very Old’ (45.4%, Whisky-Fässle, blended malt, sherry butt, 2017)

Blended Malt Whisky ‘Very Old’ (45.4%, Whisky-Fässle, blended malt, sherry butt, 2017) Four stars and a half No pictures of this one yet (at time of editing) , but I would bet there’s a duck, so I’ve put a duck. Colour: full gold. Nose: very nice, slightly shoe-polishy and petroly, then tea-ish and branche-y, with whiffs of earthy pu-her tea and walnuts. This is very fine, it’s as if there were drops of Talisker inside (BTW, a nice Talisker session soon on WF). Mouth: bitter citrus and some leathery/tobacco-ish notes. I’m a fan, this is not unlike some old White Horse blends, seriously. Good I’ll say it, this is quite superb. Some walnuts. Finish: long, earthy, and walnutty. What more could the people want? A salty touch and oranges in the back of the back. Comments: sure you may drop ages and origins, when the end result is like this. SGP:453 - 88 points.

Blended Malt ‘XO’ (44.9%, The Whisky Agency for Maltstock, sherry, 2016)

Blended Malt ‘XO’ (44.9%, The Whisky Agency for Maltstock, sherry, 2016) Four stars and a half Colour: deep gold. Nose: totally not dissimilar, as they would say in the White House. A tad more herbal, a notch less petroly. Perhaps. Maybe a little more bacon as well? Mouth: indeed, we’re extremely close. To tell you the truth, I cannot find any significant differences. Perhaps wee touches of Jerusalem artichokes? Aperol? Campari? Finish: same. Comments: our German friends are onto something here. Forget about the fact that you know just nothing about these babies, and focus on the spirit for once! SGP:453 - 88 points.

A last one. Four bastards are enough.

Peat 10 yo (46%, Malts of Scotland, blended malt, +/-2016)

Peat 10 yo (46%, Malts of Scotland, blended malt, +/-2016) Three stars and a half Some kind of German Big Peat, if you will. A tricky venture, young peaters can get dull when they lose focus, in my humble experience. Colour: gold. Nose: we’re sitting between Laphroaig 10 and Talisker 10, if you see what I mean. A little bacon, clams, tarry ropes, hessian, and seawater. Elementary, my dear Watson. Mouth: easy peat, with good rootiness, salty smoke, and kippery lemons. A little syrup. Balance is achieved, pleasure is found, and we may move on. Finish: medium, same. Green apples. Easy, clean, well-composed softish full-peater. Comments: in the same territories as young Caol Ilas, relatively soft. Not mindboggling, but I guess that was the whole point. SGP:446 - 84 points.

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

 

 

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May 8, 2017


Whiskyfun

Octomore syrah and Octomore grenache

I remember there’s a word for those excellent friends that taste whiskies ‘in colours’. That’s synesthesia, isn’t it. What’s sure is that we’ll only have two black ones today…

Octomore 5 yo 2009/2015 '07.2_208' (58.5%, OB)

Octomore 5 yo 2009/2015 '07.2_208' (58.5%, OB) Four starsFrom the height of the craze, some Octomore a part of which was matured in Syrah wine casks from the Rhône valley. I had liked 07.1 (WF 83), adored 07.3 (WF 91), rather hated 07.4 (WF 70), and never tried 07.2 before. But by time and toil we sever what strength and rage could never. Ahem. Colour: gold. Astonishingly pale given the fact that some of this baby spent some time in a syrah cask. Nose: a ‘different’ one indeed. I’m finding a lot of bread and many oriental spices , some of which from French oak I suppose. Caraway and cardamom abound, then rather poppy seeds. In the back, some rather massive smoked bacon, as well as a feeling of rye. Rye? With water: gets muddy and spicier. Not sure it swims like a champ. Mouth (neat): ultra-rich, intense, and yet vibrant, very orange-y (blood oranges), with indeed a little violet, that must be the syrah. I’m glad to notice that there’s no unbalance. Gets spicier again, with some kind of blueberry chutney, some pickled ginger, and really a lot of caraway and an unusual earthiness. With water: bizarrely, it’s the sweetness that comes out, rather then the peat. Manuka honey, more blood oranges, raspberry jam… Finish: very long, unexpectedly coherent, with really a lot spicy cassis in the aftertaste. Comments: not a classic at all, but there’s much fun to be had. 07.3 remains my favourite, but it’s true that that was Islay Barley. SGP:667 - 85 points.

Octomore 10 yo ‘2nd Edition’ (57.3%, OB, 18000 bottles, 2016)

Octomore 10 yo ‘2nd Edition’ (57.3%, OB, 18000 bottles, 2016) Four stars This baby was partly matured in Grenache wine casks (white Grenache, as it appears, which is great news as red Grenache can really be stuffy). Still, a little scary I have to admit. The phenol level in the malted barley was of 167ppm, so less extreme than the aforesuggested 208ppm. Colour: gold. Nose: much shier than the syrah, but that’s not obligatorily bad news. In fact it’s cleaner, straighter, in a way more ‘natural’ (whatever that means), and with more toasted oak, and even vanilla. American oak white Grenache casks? Honeysuckle, elderberry flowers, garden apples, then tarry ropes indeed and pipe juice. Touches of pineapple. With water: gets more Burichladdichesque, with this Atlantic air from the brochures. Porridge, oats, raw malt… Mouth (neat): citric and sweet. Full-bodied, with pink grapefruits, greengages, lemon biscuits and again something floral (zucchini flowers?) beyond the massive smokiness. Full integration, great news. Even the wee touch of salt works very well. White Grenache, who would have thought of that? To tell you the truth, I don’t know of any estates that would mature pure white Grenache in oak casks, but there sure are some. With water: playful, fresh. Mullein flowers and easy gentian syrup. Finish: long, still quite floral, and only moderately peaty. Comments: not a peat monster. The flowers are rather unusual in this context, but they’re most welcome. SGP:647 - 87 points.

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

 

 

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May 7, 2017


Whiskyfun

Crazy rums at random

We’re not looking for malternatives today, we’re just trying various newish rums as they come. Wish me luck…

A.H. Riise ‘1988 Copenhagen Gold Medal’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017)

A.H. Riise ‘1988 Copenhagen Gold Medal’ (40%, OB, blend, +/-2017) In my book this brand is the mother of all sugarbombs. I love Denmark, love the Danish people, and love Copenhagen, but this sounds and looks so fishy that I feel the need to issue some kind of preemptive apologies. Colour: deep gold. Nose: shy, not un-nice. Caramel and molasses, Cointreau, tinned pineapple, and indeed some sugar syrup. Not terribly ugly, really, I’d even suspect I could drink this… Mouth: no way. Most liqueurs would feel dry when compared to this. Sugar Easter eggs, all these cheap sweets that dentists just hate, and a little Kahlua. Definitely not rum. Finish: super cloying, calls for ice. Comments: both their Non Plus Ultra and their XO Reserve had been more to my liking (but they were sugar bombs as well) but this takes the biscuit. A syrup, perhaps drinkable at +/-8°C. Smart packaging. SGP:910 - 40 points.

Presidente Marti ‘Anejo’ (40%, Oliver & Oliver, Dominican Republic, +/-2017)

Presidente Marti ‘Anejo’ (40%, Oliver & Oliver, Dominican Republic, +/-2017) Solera stuff (ah-hem), from the DomRep, bearing the name of a Cuban hero. What could go wrong? Now their very sweet ‘23’ had been okayish (WF 65). Colour: deep gold. Nose: hey hey, this is rather nice. Intriguingly oaky and toasted, with notes of charcoal, caraway, espresso, cocoa, even a little earth… Surprise surprise?... Mouth: sweet and sour arrival, with a lot of saccharine, molasses, icing sugar, more sugar, cough syrup for kids, strawberry liqueur, coffee liqueur… Well I think this coffee saves it, it’s well above the A.H. Riise. Not the hardest achievement ever, I agree… Finish: medium, but frankly too sugary for me. Notes of pineapple liqueur, and even banana wine. Comments: we’ve tasted much worse, but poor José Marti must be turning in his grave. SGP:820 - 60 points.

Medellin 12 yo ‘Gran Reserva’ (37.5%, OB, OB, Colombia, +/-2017)

Medellin 12 yo ‘Gran Reserva’ (37.5%, OB, OB, Colombia, +/-2017) Two stars I have to say the 8 yo had been very okay (WF 72), so this could be nice. Of course you cannot not think of Pablo Escobar when trying these… (just watched the series on Netflix, rather brilliant). Colour: gold. Nose: there, a drier sweet style. Dried bananas, office coffee, copper coins, relatively old orange juice, and cane juice. It’s not big, but that may be the very low strength, let’s see… Mouth: a little weak and thin, but there’s some talking inside, with more bananas, a little vanilla, a welcome dirtiness (around earth), coffee beans, and drops of grapefruit juice. Finish: shortish, but pleasantly bittersweet. Comments: not something that I would drink, but it reeks of honesty. While the others… well… SGP:640 - 73 points.

Now we've had our bit of fun, let's move on to serious matters…

HSE 1998/2009 (47.8%, OB, Martinique, agricole, single cask, cognac cask #29, 600 bottles, 70cl)

HSE 1998/2009 (47.8%, OB, Martinique, agricole, single cask, cognac cask #29, 600 bottles, 70cl) Four stars and a half The first 1998 in a 70cl bottle. It was matured in a cognac cask, and it’s got quite a reputation. Let’s add our voice to the choir… Remember, HSE stands for Habitation Saint-Etienne, a make by distillerie Simon (also Clément and formerly Bally). Colour: rich red amber. Nose: starts bourbony, with pencil shavings aplenty and a lot of thuja and cedar wood. In that sense it’s rather extreme, but things seem to have been handled with care. Behind that, a curious feeling of rye, garden peat, black bread, and heavy liquorice and menthol. Then more coffee and bitter chocolate… More and more of that. Mouth: indeed we’re extremely close to high-end bourbon, Pappy stuff if you like. Richly oaky and spicy, but always fresh thanks to all this mint, and amusing itself among flowers and fruits. Tamarind, blood oranges, iris, bananas, prunes… Perhaps a little challenging at times? Finish: extra-long, liquoricy, and mentholy. Extreme menthol in the aftertaste. Comments: in my opinion HSE are the ‘worldest’ rums out there. Great, provided you’re not totally against chocolaty oak. SGP:461 - 89 points.

Yeah go climb over these HSEs… Unless…

West Indies Dark Rum 1948/1991 (49%, Samaroli, 800 bottles)

West Indies Dark Rum 1948/1991 (49%, Samaroli, 800 bottles) Five stars There aren’t many rums that are this legendary. This baby’s said to stem from Long Pond Distillery in Jamaica, but I haven’t got any proof, especially since other sources are mentioning Black Rock in Barbados. What’s more, dear Silvano Samaroli used to claim that this was one of the best spirits he had ever tasted, and many good rum people seem to agree. So… Colour: dark amber. Nose: could you keep jams in wooden casks? In truth, this is some kind of quince and banana jam mix, blended with some very vegetal earth and quite a great deal of natural liquorice and spices. Cloves caraway, then huge notes of old well-kept cigar humidor as well as musty pieces of old wood. Old wine cellar in a very moist place, old attic, old wardrobe, and then very old white Bourgogne that got ‘brown’ without being totally dead. Marzipan. Mouth: huge. A lot of resinous wood, musty things, damp spices, dried porcinis aplenty, chewed cigars, prunes, peppery oranges, more prunes, touches of curry… It just keeps unfolding and taking off like an albatross (you poet, S.) It’s also getting more vegetal, olive-y, briny, tighter… Huge, huge rum, that would never, ever stop developing. A long movie rather than a picture, this is truly insane. Oh well, please call the antirumporn brigade before it’s too late, thank you. Finish: extremely long, stunningly spicy and yet kind of smooth. Sweet curries, I’d say. Comments: I’m seeing that my friend Cyril at durhum.com thought it was a blend of Jamaica and Martinique. That’s totally possible. Amazing rum, sadly very expensive at auction houses. We’re talking around 6,000€, apparently, but who needs a Kia Picanto? SGP:562 - 95 points.

(Grazzie Francesco and merci Olivier)

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

 

 

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May 6, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Bruichladdich: Two Official Extremes
Bruichladdich seem to be focusing more and more on 'terroir' these days. Irrespective of how debatable the topic of terroir and how loud its voice in modern whisky can, I find the approach refreshing and more 'authentic'. Lets try the most recent Bere Barley edition alongside something that should be quite its opposite...

 

Bruichladdich 2009/2016 ‘Bere Barley’ (50%, OB, 4th Edition, first fill bourbon) Bruichladdich 2009/2016 ‘Bere Barley’ (50%, OB, 4th Edition, first fill bourbon) Bere is an ancient indigenous Scottish variety of barley which often yields significantly less alcohol and can be a 'bitch' to mash. I have loved the Arrans and Bruichladdichs made with Bere so far so expectations are high here. Colour: White wine. Nose: Extremely fresh. Full of grass, sea greens, moss, ferns, graphite and a lovely yeasty note; an autolytic character not unlike a good Brut Champagne or fresh sourdough. Lots of citrons, some wax and hints of pine cone. Wonderfully fresh and invigorating nose. With water: a little caraway and more ripe citrus fruit notes - leaning towards lemon oil. More nice grassy olive oil notes. Mouth: There is still a touch of new make about it but the distillate is pure and very good. More citrus rind, seashore, flinty mineral notes and cereal notes such as oatmeal. With water: becomes a little more floral and opulently fruity with notes of green and garden fruits. Still nicely coastal and gently waxy in texture. Finish: Good length. Robust and sharp with more gravelly mineral and fresh bread notes. Perhaps some sunflower seeds. Comments: I think when this distillate starts to hit 12 -15 it will be totally outstanding. I really hope they filled some refill barrels and hoggies with this juice! Probably some of the best 'young' whisky on the market. SGP: 574 - 88 points.  

 

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1990/2016 ‘Sherry Cask Edition’ (48.1%, OB for Travel Retail. 6000 bottles)

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1990/2016 ‘Sherry Cask Edition’ (48.1%, OB for Travel Retail. 6000 bottles) At first glance a slightly scary bottling composed of refill wood matured Bruichladdich re-racked into wine casks for five years and PX for four years married with another batch matured in refill sherry for 17 years and re-racked into Oloroso for 7 years. Got it? Excellent... Colour: Deep amber. Nose: Actually this is really quite pleasant. A lovely, leafy, earthy, nutty sherry profile. The wine influence is thankfully pretty quiet, I suspect a proper double maturation has allowed for some proper integration. Goes on with notes of wild strawberries, various fruit compotes, fig rolls and a little touch of hessian and dunnage. Mouth: Good delivery with plenty dark chocolate, nicely nervous and slightly dry sherry with notes of espresso, cocoa and black tea. Perhaps the overall is a little thin in texture and there is a slightly cloying note that smacks of wine casks in the background. But the overall feeling is very pleasurable. Finish: Medium length with more jammy and strawberry notes mingling with that nice, ever present earthiness. Comments: It's very good if you are looking for a clean, earthy, well-sherried dram. It's also nice to see a Travel Retail bottling that isn't some boring NAS thing. Now, it is relatively expensive and the Bere just edges it for me. SGP: 623 - 87 points.

 

 

 

May 5, 2017


Whiskyfun

Three Tamdhu over thirty-eight years

We’re not tasting too many Tamdhus, but that’s shame, because we all know there are great ones around. Let’s get marginally vertical again…

Tamdhu 18 yo 1998/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11472, 248 bottles)

Tamdhu 18 yo 1998/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11472, 248 bottles) one star and a half Colour: straw. Nose: a bit too herbal, perhaps. I’m getting a lot of hops and beer, and a maltiness that goes towards cardboard at some point. A little too much plasticine as well, this is rather strange. Mouth: a rather bitter maltiness, with a Guinnessy side, some bitter caramel (and yet I’m dead sure there isn’t any inside), something slightly sour and even ashy… Really strange. Finish: quite long but still kind of bitter/sour. More Guinness. Comments: not too fond of this one but something may have gone wrong, I’m almost sure DL wouldn’t have bottled this ‘like this’. Please do not take my score as ‘final’, I’ll try to retry this strange one. SGP:261 - 69 (temporary) points.

Tamdhu 23 yo 1987/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, sherry butt, cask #3649, 656 bottles)

Tamdhu 23 yo 1987/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, sherry butt, cask #3649, 656 bottles) Four stars Another one from this crazy series from a few years ago. My staunch belief is that those good people at Mo Or were just too early. Colour: amber. Nose: perfect classic walnutty/dry sherriness, with some pumpernickel behind that, as well as many roasted nuts, macadamias, pecans… And the slightest flintiness. Just distant whiffs. Mouth: super good, dry sherry, burnt raisins, fried gingerbread (to go with your foie gras), Ovaltine, espresso… All that. In short, roasted malt. Finish: rather long, on just the same very malty/coffeeish flavours. Plus burnt raisins on an Alsatian kougelhopf. Comments: who needs coffee? SGP:452 - 87 points.

Further back…

Tamdhu 1960/2013 (52.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, sherry hogshead, cask #1008, 36 bottles)

Tamdhu 1960/2013 (52.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, sherry hogshead, cask #1008, 36 bottles) Four stars This wee glory from G&M’s actual Directors’ Private Collection, so pretty much off-commerce. In this case, the director was Michael Urquart – hello Michael, you see, we caught this one! There! Colour: gold. Nose: hell, damnation and putrefaction! It’s a whole beehive, with pollen, nectar, beeswax, honey of course, a touch of propolis, no stings, and a pile of overripe apples and apricots in a corner. Some wine friends would call it ‘dry-Yquemy’. With water: but why do G&M’s whiskies get cloudier than others when reduced? Yes, our usual useless questions. Otherwise, more mentholy/chlorophilly notes appear. Propolis! Mouth (neat): that this baby comes from my year has nothing to do with the fact that I do find it rather glorious indeed. What’s noticeable is that it’s extremely oaky, but also that this is one of the rare occurrences where over-oakiness became an asset because of the oak oils that leached into the whisky. Sure you need to like pinesap and thinks like that, but quite serendipitously, these very resinous flavours are almost propolis-like. So yeah, as I said, it’s a very beehive-y old Tamdhu (twaddle, S.). With water: I was scared to death, water could have made it totally bitter. Not so. Quite. Finish: long, very tannic of course, and rather bitter indeed. Some caraway in the aftertaste. Comments: probably not for everyone, which works out very nicely since there eare/were only thirty-six bottles. SGP:371 - 87 points.

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

 

 

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May 4, 2017


Whiskyfun

More indie Irish

It’s an endless wave, there are always more of these bottlings, but we all know most are brilliant. But first, as usual, an apéritif. Let’s make it an official apéritif if you don’t mind… And then, to add some fun, we won’t take vintages, ages, or even strengths into account.

Redbreast ‘Lustau Edition’ (46%, OB, 2016)

Redbreast ‘Lustau Edition’ (46%, OB, 2016) Three stars Sadly, this is only a finishing. Swapping an age statement for a finishing, is that a good idea? Especially when we’ve still got the ueber-stunning 25 yo for LMdW in our minds… By the way, do we know about the kind of sherry they’ve been using? Oloroso, I wager. Colour: gold. Nose: I don’t know. Redbreast’s legendary bursting fruitiness is not quite there, there are rather nuts and some leather, plus a curious feeling of maraschino. Moistened marzipan (with kirsch). Some dry raisins too, cinnamon cake, walnut pie... Perhaps a wee tad shy(ish) given that this is Redbreast. Mouth: much more Redbreasty on the palate. Blood oranges aplenty and some honeyed cider, zests, and sultanas. Touches of peppermint. Finish: medium, fruity. Arrack with a little mint. Some plain oak in the aftertaste (shavings). Comments: not a total fan, I think I do prefer the brighter and fresher ‘natural’ ones. But then of course, it’s very good. It’s Redbreast, after all. SGP:551 - 82 points.

So, randomly…

Irish Whiskey 14 yo 2002/2016 ‘Gathering’ (53%, Whiskybase, barrel, cask # 8889, 225 bottles)

Irish Whiskey 14 yo 2002/2016 ‘Gathering’ (53%, Whiskybase, barrel, cask # 8889, 225 bottles) Four stars No we shan’t play the guessing games. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: a lighter Speysider of some sorts, I’d say. Bunches of yellow fruits, bananas, pears, mirabelles, more white pears and peaches, and a drop of light maple syrup. Elementary, in a good way. With water: the pars did come to the front. Hello, pears. Mouth (neat): creamy, banana-y, with green spices and bags of fresh fruits. Blueberries and apple liqueur (manzana), williams pears, more peaches (or peach-flavoured cold tea), a touch of caraway. Elementary, in a good way. With water: I’ve known some young mad cuffs, I mean Macduffs… Finish: medium, very fruity. A fruit salad. Greengages and peaches in the front. Comments: does what it says on the tin, it gathers. SGP:641 - 85 points.

Ireland 1989/2017 (48.2%, Archives, barrel, cask #16223, 186 bottles)

Ireland 1989/2017 (48.2%, Archives, barrel, cask #16223, 186 bottles) Five stars Bottlings with fish that are never fishy. Yep we’re trying our best. Colour: gold. Nose: never was the balance between the fresh fruits and the bourbony vanilla so perfectly achieved. Honeys, bananas, custard, mangos, passion fruits, and distant whiffs of lilac in full bloom. Plus white pears and peaches, and drops of riesling. High-precision whiskey. Mouth: even more amazing than expected, as if they did not bottle the best casks first. Young Sauternes, rose jelly, passion fruits, pink bananas, mangos, quinces, rhubarb, kiwis, litchis… It’s got them all, really. Finish: sadly, yes. Bright and ueber-fruity. Perhaps a touch of sugar in the aftertaste? Loses one point, there. A little rum in the aftertaste. Comments: some pretty obscene all-fruit sherbet in your tasting glass. You just cannot resist. SGP:651 - 91 points.

Single Irish 26 yo 1990/2017 (49.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 114 bottles)

Single Irish 26 yo 1990/2017 (49.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 114 bottles) Five stars What a stunning label! They should make posters out of them. I’m sure the whiskey’s not bad either… Colour: straw. Nose: this one’s cakier, more rounded and polished, and perhaps a tad more honeyed. The fruits were preserved rather than fresh, and the end result is just as stunning. Cassata and panettone, as they say in Italy. Mouth: we’re really going towards rum, but there’s some herbalness in the back that’s absolutely stunning. Lime leaves, cherry stem tea, orange blossom, touches of green tobacco (I remember some Indonesian cigars…) but citrus fruits do come to the foreground, mandarins, clementines… Finish: quite long, and just marvellous. Stunning fruits, with a lovely resinous/sappy side. Douglas fir liqueur (just one tiny drop) and a drop of pineapple liqueur. Comments: totally insane and very hard to beat. Yet, we shall try… SGP:661 - 93 points.

Frankly, the good people behind these bottlings deserve the An Bonn Míleata Calmachta le hOnóir, which seems to be one of the most prestigious medals in Ireland (according to Wikipedia, ah-hem)…

Irish Single Malt ‘Extra Old’ (51.8%, Beacon Spirits, 2016)

Irish Single Malt ‘Extra Old’ (51.8%, Beacon Spirits, 2016) Three stars and a half What Extra Old or XO mean with whisky/whiskey, I don’t know.  In cognac, that means 7 (seven) years old or more. Hope it’s more indeed. Colour: white wine. Nose: akin to Whiskybase’s Gathering, that is to say sweeter than the old ones, and less fruity. So more syrups and liqueurs than fresh fruits, but everything works perfectly well. And what’s more, there are fresh fruits as well. Bananas cooked in syrup. With water: syrup. Mouth (neat): tinned fruits aplenty, sugarcane syrup, and various liqueurs. A touch of coffee. With water: green bananas, pears, apples, all that cooked in syrup. Gets rather narrower. Finish: medium, on peelings and, perhaps plums. White sugar n the aftertaste. Comments: extremely good, but after the old ones, it’s struggling a bit. My bad. SGP:641 - 84 points.

Irish Single Malt 27 yo 1990/2017 (48.1%, The Whisky Agency, barrel) Five stars Angus has already tried this one, so just for the record… Colour: white wine. Nose: really, this is banana liqueur, ‘improved’ with sunflower honey and pineapples. Loads of pineapples. Mouth: more a sin than whisky. Full fruit mode, with perfect touches of dried herbs, and massive bananas and pineapples, plus a little coconut. Then pears and guavas. I wouldn’t say it’s the most complex old Irish from this vein ever, but of course it’s perfect whiskey. Finish: rather long, a tad more candied, and frankly tropical. The kind they would pour you on Kuta Beach, Bali. Comments: very very very very very very good, but the Maltbarn was even deeper in my opinion. As for the scores, I do agree with young Angus (not Angus Young, mind you). Some brilliant Irish. SGP:651 - 90 points.

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback

 

 

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May 3, 2017


Whiskyfun

Two recent indie Ardbeg

This wouldn’t be whiskyfun if we didn’t taste a few new Ardbegs every once in a while. It’s not the glorious 70s anymore, but the distillates still shine, fight and conquer from time to time, just like most other peaty Islays.

Ardbeg 20 yo 1996/2016 (46%, Chieftain's, bourbon barrels, casks #808+811, 601 bottles)

Ardbeg 20 yo 1996/2016 (46%, Chieftain's, bourbon barrels, casks #808+811, 601 bottles) Five stars It’s quite a statement that Ian McLeod would still reduce their Ardbegs. Colour: white wine. Nose: total briny, medicinal, and slightly coal-tarry Ardbeg, typically ‘Ardbeg’, with no weird wood/wine influence whatsoever. Rather brine, seawater, tiger balm, embrocations, and all that. Clear, classy, and loud. Love it that they’ve kept it all ‘natural’. Mouth: it’s rather sweet, it’s certainly lemony, and believe me, it’s more medicinal that Laphroaig. It’s very salty too, very discretely gassy/tarry, and it’s got this bright fatness that screams ‘Ardbeg’. Some olives too. This wee baby reminds me of the first Airigh Nam Beist, if that rings a bell. Finish: long and rather smoky/almondy. Smoked almonds were often to be found in Ardbeg, in my humble experience. Very salty/tarry aftertaste, which is even more Ardbeg. Comments: there shouldn’t be much left from these pre-reopening batches that used to be made by the good Laphroaig people ‘to keep the equipment fit’. Excellent, if a little simpler then earlier vintages. SGP:467 - 90 points.

Ardbeg 25 yo 1991/2016 (49.8%, The Duchess, Shieldmaidens Malin, bourbon, 168 bottles)

Ardbeg 25 yo 1991/2016 (49.8%, The Duchess, Shieldmaidens Malin, bourbon, 168 bottles) Five stars A recent bottling by a wee Dutch company, and we all know that the Dutch know their Ardbeg. And their Shieldmaidens, apparently. What’s exactly a Shieldmaiden, by the way? Colour: gold. Nose: much, much rounder, and softer than the Chieftain’s, and that’s the bigger oak. But it’s also got this superb sourness that could be found in many an Ardbeg, something like old apple juice infused with hessian and just, yeah, coal tar. So it seems to be fatter, and even a little more manure-y. More from the countryside, if you prefer. Mouth: big and strong, very salty, and very ‘green’, in a good way. I’m finding capers, green olives, green liquorice, then a little lemon-flavoured sour cream and this dirtiness that works so well. In fact, it’s a little unlikely and yogurty, but that works extremely well. A great flaw, as they say (who, who says that?) And more capers, many more briny capers… Finish: very long, green, sharp, acidic, smoky, and very briny. The nose was a touch soft, this is sharp as a razorblade. Comments: it’s a very coastal Ardbeg, and not totally a peat monster. Some gentleness to be found beyond the very briny flavours. Now I’ve seen that the price was insane, but brokers are selling these casks for insane prices too. Everyone’s got insane. SGP:566 - 90 points.

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

 

 

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May 2, 2017


Whiskyfun

Miltonduff, very vertically

Not a very common name anymore, Miltonduff. It seems that the latest large verticale we’ve done took place in 2007! As we sometimes do, let’s start with an old apéritif…

Milton-duff 13 yo (85° proof, OB, George Ballantine & Son, 1950s)

Milton-duff 13 yo (85° proof, OB, George Ballantine & Son, 1950s) Five stars Perhaps the highest-ranked Miltonduff. There’s also been a lighter one later on (1970, 43%) that was excellent too. Colour: pale gold. Nose: artisan cider, menthol, green tea, shoe polish. You get the idea, I suppose. This is Old-Highland style whisky, austere, pretty herbal (I also get parsley, beyond the mint), and getting really very earthy. Working in the garden, cutting peat, harvesting mushrooms… Mouth: pwah! Majestic, salty, lemony, wonderfully herbal, and hugely, err, big. Superb honeydew and old-style mead, Bénédictine, smoked liquorice or something, a lot of mint, both white and green… Also love this ashy/polishy background. Stunning old bottle, massive whisky. Finish: very long, waxier, always very minty, liquoricy, very sooty… Huge whisky. Comments: what was also fantastic was the very oily mouth feel. But then of course, I suppose this was other barley varieties, direct firing, floor maltings (at least partly), different yeast strains… And all that. Extraordinary whisky… and the worst apéritif you could find (well done, S.). SGP:473 - 94 points.

Let’s proceed with caution, I’m afraid I’ve already wrecked this session, but as they say, where there's a will there's a way… And where’s the anti-maltoporn brigade when you need them?

Miltonduff 17 yo 1999/2016 (54.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #5012, 243 bottles)

Miltonduff 17 yo 1999/2016 (54.8%, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #5012, 243 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: of course we’re nowhere near the fabulous explosion of the old 13, but this baby’s doing its best, with a very barleyish start and some very nice touches of herbs and maple syrup, as well as quite some toasted oak and some kind of soft earthiness in the background. Very nice oranges, and a little toffee. With water: porridge and ale coming through. Raw malt. Mouth (neat): creamy, and in that respect not too far from the old one, starting with oranges and lemon curd, going on with bags and bags of cornflakes, and adding a little pepper and a waxy honeyness. With water: really good, shortbread, oatcakes, and a little honey again. Finish: medium, with a little beeswax and always quite a lot of sweet cereals and grains. Comments: very honest, big ‘natural’ malt whisky. Not one you’ll remember forever, but it’s very satisfying. SGP:451 - 84 points.

Miltonduff 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill bourbon, cask # DL 11537, 244 bottles)

Miltonduff 21 yo 1995/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill bourbon, cask # DL 11537, 244 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: same family as that of the 17 yo, just with less oak impact, thus some fresher herbal and fruity tones. Funny feeling of yogurt and porridge, apples, toasted oak, and a large bag of roasted peanuts. With water: more peanuts. Seriously. Mouth (neat): same feeling, a more vibrant, fresher Miltonduff, with orange peel and lemon meringue, then rather Jaffa cakes, and a little lavender (sweets). With water: more oranges! Finish: medium, rather fresh, with oranges and a little roasted malt. Comments: perhaps not worth writing a novel, but this one too is extremely all right. SGP:551 - 84 points.

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 21 yo 1994/2016 (51.5%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, château Lafitte, 228 bottles)

Miltonduff-Glenlivet 21 yo 1994/2016 (51.5%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, château Lafitte, 228 bottles) Three stars Here come our dear friends with their ‘Lafitte’. The whisky’s spent more or less seven years in those Bordeaux casks, so it should be red. Colour: not, let’s rather say late-season apricot. Nose: this worked. The whisky got tenser, almost a little smoky, not sulphury at all, with some melted cassata and whiffs of peonies, then peaches and soft fruity bread. Nice grassy/earthy tones from the oak, probably French. Yeah I should know. With water: really very lovely, earthy, greatly leathery, cigary… Mouth (neat): I’ll say it, I’m finding the arrival very strange. Bitter oranges and scented soap? Cassis leaves, a little rubber… Quick… With water: no water, no pasaran water. Finish: gets very leafy and leathery. Comments: totally a nosing whisky, so truly a bang-for-your-buck whisky, since you don’t need to drink it. Seriously, I thought the nose was magnificent, but the palate was really… very uncertain to me. SGP:361 - 80 points (for the nose).

Miltonduff 33 yo 1982/2016 (48.9%, Berry Bros & Rudd, for for Japan, cask #3734, hogshead)

Miltonduff 33 yo 1982/2016 (48.9%, Berry Bros & Rudd, for for Japan, cask #3734, hogshead) Three starsIndeed this one went to Japan, I think. Colour: pale gold. Nose: in the same vein as that of the very nice 1995 by DL, without much further ‘ageing’ that could be noticed. Nuts and oranges, plus some sour cream and green apples. Some gingery breadiness as well. Seriously, this could be 12 years of age. Mouth: certainly good, and rather malty, chocolaty, and gingery. It’s a feeling that’s a little uncommon. Peppery chocolate and bitter caramel? Gets maltier and maltier. Some peppered Nutella? Finish: medium, rather spicy, cake-y and chocolaty. Something slightly burnt in the aftertaste. Office coffee? Comments: certainly good, but I’m not totally convinced. Mind you, the age of Christ. SGP:451 - 82 points.

Miltonhaugh 28 yo 1966 (63.5%, The Whisky Connoisseur, cask #3154, +/-1994)

Miltonhaugh 28 yo 1966 (63.5%, The Whisky Connoisseur, cask #3154, +/-1994) Five stars Remember Largiemeanoch/Bowmore? That’s the same bottlers, they used to do many miniatures as well. This could go awry, or glorious, let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: indeed we’re going towards the old 13 again, with a much fatter profile, more soot, shoe polish, herbs, grasses… Now at such high strength, let’s not take chances. With water: OMG! Please call the anti-maltoporn brigade… The number is 56 52 90 97… Not. Mouth (neat): amazing, simply amazing. Some mint and barley syrup, blended to perfection. Stupefying. Artisan marzipan of the highest grade. With water: sublime, simply sublime. Bright lemon liqueur, bitter almonds, the reddest pears, soot, salt, umami… We’ll keep this short, this is one the greatest whiskies I’ve ever tasted. I’d have ever thought this would happen with a Miltonduff – because yes, this is Miltonduff (update, it is actually Balmenach!). Finish: very long, amazingly mineral, waxy, oily, salty, ‘Japanese’ (all those fantastic salty sauces they have)… Simply dazzling. Comments: seriously, I’d have never thought this humble little bottle would be this earth-shattering. Now, anyone who’s tasted Largiemeanoch knows that... You should never miss nearby garage sales while in the UK (a word to the wise!) SGP:563 - 96 points.

We’ve still got one, shall we have it? Oh well, after all it’s the same vintage…

Miltonduff 36 yo 1966/2002 (42.7%, Duncan Taylor, Peerless, cask #1014, 182 bottles)

Miltonduff 36 yo 1966/2002 (42.7%, Duncan Taylor, Peerless, cask #1014, 182 bottles) Four stars and a half This wee baby from DT’s heyday. You know when they had all these ‘cheap’ glories, all distilled in the 1960s, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain, Macallan, Miltonduff indeed… Colour: gold. Nose: very lovely soft fruits, perhaps bananas, surely apples, peaches, butter pears… And once again there are fine herbs and essences, but they’re all extremely soft and ‘whispering’. Mouth: it’s rather tense and firm at 42%, with superb tropical fruits and a wee mentholy side. Bananas, blood oranges, guavas, and mint, with a touch of creamy custard on top of all that. A little green oak will prevent it from reaching the 90-mark, but we’re extremely close. Finish: medium, perhaps a tad dry and tea-ish. As I just said. Comments: what a lovely drop. Now, old ‘Peerlesses’ have been drunk. That was their fate anyway. SGP:551 - 89 points.

(Angus, Konstantin, Patrick, thank you)

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

 

 

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May 1, 2017


Whiskyfun

Glencadam 19 + 25

The other day we tried a few Glencadams and they were quite good. I added that we’d try the 25 soon, and so today is the day, pure logic. But first a younger one…

Glencadam 19 yo (46%, OB, oloroso finish, 6000 bottles, +/-2016)

Glencadam 19 yo (46%, OB, oloroso finish, 6000 bottles, +/-2016) Four stars Amazing, a sherry finish! Just joking, it’s always better when they say it that it’s just a finishing… Colour: gold. Nose: it is lovely. I often use the word lovely, but this is ‘oranges’ lovely, with some marmalade, a little mango jam, hints of peonies early in the morning (and why not), golden sultanas… It really is aromatic and fresh, this really worked. Mouth: perhaps a little less coherent, with some black pepper fighting the creamy oranges a bit, as well as cloves and caraway a little ‘in the front’, but otherwise, all is well, with some Grand-Marnier and even more sultanas. Perhaps very ripe nectarines. Finish: quite long, spicy, with more citric tones, a little icing sugar, and then some kind of peppered chocolate like they make in Spain (and they make it very well). Greener, bitterer aftertaste. Comments: excellent, with a finishing that did not try to mimic full maturing in heavy sherry. Only the aftertaste was a little problematic (bitterish), and in my opinion that often happens with finishings, I don’t quite know why. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glencadam 25 yo ‘The Remarkable’ (46%, OB, bourbon, 1600 bottles, +/-2016)

Glencadam 25 yo ‘The Remarkable’ (46%, OB, bourbon, 1600 bottles, +/-2016) Four stars Not too sure about the name, sounds a bit like Friday marketing. But yeah, who cares about the names when we’ve got the ages? Colour: pale gold. Nose: rather very perfect, bright, delicately malty, but with a firm waxy structure, some sweet barley, a touch of papaya, and crushed fresh hazelnuts. Then perhaps cigarettes and a little cedar wood, plus a little praline. This is some very elegant nose. Indeed, rather remarkable. Mouth: starts with bright yellow fruits, yellow peaches, even a touch of pineapple, a drop of litchi juice, then we rather have more tropical fruits (more papayas, perhaps guavas) and pink grapefruits. Some vanilla but not much, and a little sugar syrup, although it never gets sugary as such. Finish: medium, really fruity, with little oakiness and rather crisp oranges plus juicy marzipan. Also sugar Easter eggs? Comments: I knew this was going to be pretty excellent. It’s rather sweet on your palate. SGP:641 - 87 points.

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

 

Whiskyfun fav of the month

April 2017

Favourite recent bottling:
Port Ellen 33 yo 1983/2016 (55.9%, The First Editions, Author’s Series, sherry butt, 142 bottles) - WF 94

Favourite older bottling:
Port Ellen 11 yo (46%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, bottled by Cadenhead, +/-1992) - WF 92

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Benromach 10 yo (43%, OB, +/-2017) -
WF 88

Favourite malternative:
Grande Champagne ‘Lot 19 NO.24’ (43.1%, The Whisky Agency, 38 bottles, 2016) -
WF 93

 

 

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


 

 

Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ardbeg 25 yo 1991/2016 (49.8%, The Duchess, Shieldmaidens Malin, bourbon, 168 bottles)

Ardbeg 20 yo 1996/2016 (46%, Chieftain's, bourbon barrels, casks #808+811, 601 bottles)

Glen Grant-Glenlivet 31 yo 1984/2016 (46.1%, Cadenhead, Single Cask, sherry, 414 bottles)

Glen Grant-Glenlivet 31 yo 1985/2017 (44.8%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, sherry, 312 bottles)

Glen Grant 1954/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Vintage, casks #1821-1822)

Glen Grant-Glenlivet 10 yo (75° proof, Army & Navy Stores Ltd., 1950s?)

Milton-duff 13 yo (85° proof, OB, George Ballantine & Son, 1950s)

Miltonhaugh 28 yo 1966 (63.5%, The Whisky Connoisseur, cask #3154, +/-1994)

Ireland 1989/2017 (48.2%, Archives, barrel, cask #16223, 186 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 27 yo 1990/2017 (48.1%, The Whisky Agency, barrel)

Single Irish 26 yo 1990/2017 (49.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 114 bottles)

Foursquare 11 yo 2004/2015 (59%, OB, Barbados, bourbon cask)

Foursquare 2002/2016 (56%, L’Esprit, Barbados, cask #BB15)

West Indies Dark Rum 1948/1991 (49%, Samaroli, 800 bottles)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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