Whiskyfun
Home
(Current entries)

Facebook Twitter Logo


Whisky Tasting

 
 
 

 

 

 
Hi, you're in the Archives, May 2019 - Part 2

       

May 2019 - part 1 <--- May 2019 - part 2 ---> Current entries

 

 

May 31, 2019


Whiskyfun
WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

May 2019

Serge's favourite recent bottling:
Clynelish 26 yo 1992/2019 (50.1%, Hidden Spirits, cask #CY9219, 193 bottles) 
-
WF 94

Serge's favourite older bottling:
Macallan 25 yo 1975 (54%, Casa De Vinos, Australia, sherry butt, cask #17113, +/-2000)
- WF 93

Serge's favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Clynelish 17 yo 1998/2016 (43%, Signatory Vintage, hogsheads, casks #7778+7779) 
-
WF 88

Serge's favourite malternative:
Grange Hill Estate ‘Old Jamaica Rum – Crown Brand’ (no ABV, OB, +/-1940?)
-
WF 94

Serge's Wooden Spoon this month:
Kirin ‘Fuji-Sanroku’ (50%, OB, Japan, +/-2018)  - WF 20
 

May 30, 2019


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Scribbles From Islay 
For once that is a very literal title. As many of the notes in this wee report were recorded on the back of my good friend Connas’s old bank statement. Due to the fact that I neglected (once again) to remember my notebook. I’d also add that some of the distilleries often don’t make it easy to actually try the whiskies they bottle. But that’s another story. Anyway, Islay certainly feels a tad quieter this year, with numbers of visitors certainly down from the maddening peak of 2016. But the atmosphere is still generally one of good fun and conviviality. But first, let’s correct a wee injustice from Saturday’s Campbeltown post...

 

Glen Scotia 10 yo 2008/2019 (58.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #93.108 ‘Earthy and masculine’ for Campbeltown Malts Festival 2019, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 222 bottles)

Glen Scotia 10 yo 2008/2019 (58.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #93.108 ‘Earthy and masculine’ for Campbeltown Malts Festival 2019, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 222 bottles)
I was unhappy at myself for not including a Glen Scotia in my Campbeltown report last Saturday so let’s try to correct that wee oversight here. This is one of several casks the SMWS have released for the assorted regional whisky festivals in Scotland this year. Colour: straw. Nose: esters, diesel fumes and funk! We’re certainly in the weird and wonderful world of ‘medium peated’ Glen Scotia. Lots of strange ointments, brake fluid, bicycle chains, pencil erasers, tar, seawater and fish stock. There’s really nothing else like these funny peaty Scotias - they can be almost dundery and rum like in some ways. This one gets farmier with time, almost towards cow pats and silage. In a good way, I promise. With water: a little more traditional now. Earthy, salty, peppery, some rather fat notes of smoked barley, peat embers and starched linen. Mouth: pure antiseptic and medicine. Raw oysters doused in petrol and germoline. A huge spoonful of paraffin and high ester rum. Mental whisky. Fish sauce, sardine paste, anchovies and the sourest young Belgian Gueuze beer. I can’t help but really like this style, even if you couldn’t perhaps drink too many drams in one sitting. With water: again it’s a tad less extreme now. But also much oilier. More mechanical, sooty, lime skins, WD40, briny and with a kind of sharp salad vinaigrette note as well. Finish: long and very ashy, briny, sooty, mechanical, estery, fatty and smoky. Comments: I suspect some people will just hate this style. But I think it is probably amongst the most uncompromisingly characterful makes in Scotland today. Wish Glen Scotia would bottle more things like this themselves.
SGP: 485 - 87 points.

 

 

All Islay Batch 1 Blended Malt (47.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

All Islay Batch 1 Blended Malt (47.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company)
This isn’t really a bottling for the festival, but the good folks from Master Of Malt were handing them out on Caol Ila pier so why not...? Colour: pale white wine. Nose: preserved lemons, whelks on a BBQ, sea water, lemon juice, oysters. The epitome of fresh, blustery, clean and rather precise modern Islay malt whisky. There’s also a rather yeasty and autolytic side which hints at the general youthfulness of the overall profile. Mouth: salted lemon juice, gravel, mineral salts, seaweed crackers and some gloopy spoonfuls of medicine. Something like pine resin and roof pitch as well. Good! Finish: medium and quite ashy with lots of lemon juice and a little brine and hessian. Comments: easy, quaffable and rather feisty Islay malt. Although I think the bottling strength was smart as it kind of tames the rougher edges well but still gives a good sense of body.
SGP: 355 - 83 points.

 

 

Bunnahabhain 13 yo 2005/2019 (61.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #10.168 ‘Cuquillo black olives’ for Feis Ile 2019, 2nd fill barrel, 205 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 13 yo 2005/2019 (61.8%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #10.168 ‘Cuquillo black olives’ for Feis Ile 2019, 2nd fill barrel, 205 bottles)
Sadly I couldn’t try Bunnahabhain’s official festival bottling this year (sorry also to Kilchoman on that front) but thankfully this wee SMWS offering was available. Colour: white wine. Nose: sea breezes and freshly laundered linen at first. Then sea salt, lemon rind, freshly rolled oats, miso broth and hints of various breads and toasted seeds. It’s a fitting bottling for a festival with this very evocative ‘Atlantic’ profile. Hints of mustard powder and cornflakes too along with green olive studded pitta breads and light hessian and bandage notes. With water: crab claws, taramasalata, olive oil, sunflower seeds, gorse and heather ale. Extremely pure, fresh and rather uncompromising with this austere quality. Mouth: big, rather textural and fatty delivery. Lots of raw barley, grist, vegetable broth, white asparagus, lemon pith, raw cereals, white flowers, chalk and limestone. We’re very close to the distillate here, which is good news as the distillate is excellent - if a tad intense and punchy at full strength. With water: really works well now! Wonderfully oily, getting more mineral, citrusy, flinty and with a big, textural cereal heart. Finish: good length and with lots of dry, wholesome and savoury cereal notes. Lots of oatmeal, brown bread, raw barley, toasted seeds and some lightly earthy notes. Comments: Not the easiest dram, but a great example of a naked, unpeated Bunnahabhain in full, no-nonsense swing. One to sip contemplatively on piers while wearing a dark overcoat.
SGP: 362 - 87 points.

 

 

Bowmore 1997/2019 ‘Distillery Manager’s Selection’ (51.7%, OB, first fill oloroso sherry casks, 3000 bottles)

Bowmore 1997/2019 ‘Distillery Manager’s Selection’ (51.7%, OB, first fill oloroso sherry casks, 3000 bottles)
This isn’t a festival release. It’s a recent bottling which had sold out by the time we got to the distillery, so we were able to taste it but unable to buy bottles sadly. Colour: reddish coffee. Nose: Modern Bowmore and sherry can be a bit of a funny combination sometimes but this one works well so far with big initial notes of salted walnuts, coffee liqueur, tar, toasted raisins, fruit loaf and various smoked meats. There’s a nice damp earthiness and notes of old leather. Lots of dunnage, hessian, coal dust and touches of lambic ales. With water: earthier, more hessian, plenty dark chocolate, more tar, black pepper and cola syrup. A wee hint of good quality root beer as well and with time there’s also things like ink and dried herbs coming to the fore. Mouth: Big bitter chocolate notes, espresso, strawberry infused pipe tobacco, game meats, walnut wine and tar liqueur. Black pepper, wood spices, jasmine, strong black tea and mushroom powder. Very good! With water: now there’s some fruit emerging too. Red fruit jams, orange cordial, peaches and dried apricot. That rather meaty aspect has started to balance out nicely. There’s more cola sweetness, more coffee and big spicy notes of star anise and five spice. BBQ sauce as well. Finish: long and prickling with heat. Spicy hot sauce, camphor, iodine, salted meats and old balsamic. Comments: This was a sherry and peat combo which danced rather than fought. Some may well find it a bit too much and indeed the sherry is a tad intense at times. Bit I find it a big, gutsy and very excellent wee Bowmore.
SGP: 575 - 89 points.

 

 

Bowmore 15 yo (51.7%, OB Feis Ile Collection 2019, first fill bourbon casks, 3000 bottles)

Bowmore 15 yo (51.7%, OB Feis Ile Collection 2019, first fill bourbon casks, 3000 bottles)
While we could taste but not buy the 1997, we could buy but not taste this bottling which was done for the festival. Apparently it was being ‘launched’ at a dinner the next night. I wasn’t aware ‘launched’ now means ‘we’ll sell it but we won’t pour it’. Thankfully I managed to find some open behind the Bowmore hotel bar. Interestingly this one is the same strength and outturn as the 1997, I wonder why they chose this bottling strength? Colour: white wine. Nose: very saline and sharply coastal at first. Lots of raw lemon juice, pink sea salt, pears, sheep wool, oysters, petrol, lime juice, coal dust and a slightly fragrant heathery aspect. There are a few classical Bowmore fruit notes as well but they’re really buried under this ocean of seashell, minerals, brine and pin-sharp freshness. Very ‘millimetric’ as Serge would say. With water: super medicinal now. Lots of embrocations, bandages, ointments and starchy notes. Cornflour, putty, rock pools and wet seaweed. Mouth: superb! Lemon oils, scented waxes, citronella, sandalwood, seaweed, beach pebbles, squid ink and even a sprig of mint. The fruits are pronounced as well. Still a fair bit of oily sheep wool but also lots of raw barley, kiln smoke and sourdough. With water: still sharp and pure but with an added layer of fruits such as tangerine and melon with a fuller thickness to the texture. Finish: long, full of raw barley, smoke, peat embers, lemon peel, yeast, wood ash and brine. Comments: ‘Dear Bowmore. Please do more stuff like this!’ 3000 bottles at £85 apiece. For me that’s the epitome of what a good festival bottling should be. Top notch, distillery character forward whisky that everyone there can get and enjoy.
SGP: 465 - 90 points.

 

 

Laphroaig Càirdeas Triple Wood Cask Strength (59.5%, OB, Feis Ile 2019, 36,000 bottles)

Laphroaig Càirdeas Triple Wood Cask Strength (59.5%, OB, Feis Ile 2019, 36,000 bottles)
Another NAS expression from Laphroaig. So long as it was aged for as many years as there are words in the title then we should be ok... Colour: gold. Nose: lots of dense, polished oak. Very sweet smokiness, tar, pine resin, workshops full of sawdust and graphite oil. A funny mix of sweet soot, salted butter, mercurochrome, pink peppercorns and diesel. With water: pencil shavings, cumin, hot buttered toast, dried kelp, rubber fishing wellies and salty Bovril. Also odd notes of powdered foundation, old rope and peppered mackerel. Mouth: Punchy! Sweet peat, ashes, icing sugar, brake fluid, mechanical oils, green pepper, black olives, turpentine and paraffin. Big peat and big wood in a head on collision. It just about works. Just... With water: medical, oily, sweet, ashy, petroly and with plenty of lemons, waxes, raw paraffin, crayons, turmeric, hessian and new leather. Finish: long, very peaty, iodine, gravel, miso broth, black olive and sweetened brine. Comments: There’s undeniably too much wood for my taste. But this is some very silly, very powerful and very fun Laphroaig. And shouldn’t a festival be about fun? Maybe next year the Feis Ile committee could do t-shirts that say ‘Feis Ile 2020: Fun not flipping’? Maybe not...
SGP: 777 - 84 points.

 

 

Laphroaig 19 yo 1999/2019 (56.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #29.260 ‘A visceral, elemental experience’ for Feis Ile 2019, American oak oloroso butt / Spanish oak oloroso butt, 507 bottles)

Laphroaig 19 yo 1999/2019 (56.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #29.260 ‘A visceral, elemental experience’ for Feis Ile 2019, American oak oloroso butt / Spanish oak oloroso butt, 507 bottles)
This one was re-racked from American oak sherry into Spanish oak sherry at 16 years old, an interesting type of finish I suppose. Colour: deep brownish amber. Nose: as we often note on Whiskyfun, modern peat and sherry don’t often tango well. However, there are exceptions and it seems that this is one of them. A deep, syrupy and intense mix of cola cubes, strawberry wine, black olive paste, paprika, smoked meats, herbal peat smoke and ancient tar liqueurs. If you marinated old leather-bound library books in brine and espresso you might get something like this. Also some very salty Dutch liquorice, aged cigars, Marmite and smoked prunes. Pretty fantastic I have to say. With water: cola syrup, root beer, raspberry jam, cloves, star anise, fir liqueur and smoked teas. Beautifully fragrant and complex with water. Mouth: the sherry is huge, as is the peat, but somehow they work together rather than do battle. There’s more of these deeply meaty and oily salami notes. Lots of camphor, fruity black coffee, mustard powder, tar, old rope, waxes, pot pourri, jasmine tea, sods of damp earth, old wine cellars and many old school syrupy cough medicines. Pretty great stuff. With water: as on the nose everything evens out and becomes more gentle and complex. Lots more sooty, oily and peaty qualities. Big notes of boiler smoke, tar and liquorice. Strong black tea, bitter chocolate, juniper and coal smoke. Also a hint of blueberry as well. Finish: long, deeply earthy, tarry and full of bitter herbal extracts, old ointments, medical tinctures, cured game meats, cocoa and sarsaparilla. Comments: I couldn’t tell you what the finish lent this one but something along the way, about both casks, has really worked a treat. It doesn’t feel like a finish and the richness, depth, complexity and concentration of the sherry and peat into a big, gloopy, earthy, fruity, peaty morass has just worked brilliantly.
SGP: 576 - 92 points.

 

 

Octomore 12 yo ‘Event Horizon’ (55.7%, OB Feis Ile 2019)

Octomore 12 yo ‘Event Horizon’ (55.7%, OB Feis Ile 2019)
A tribute to that cult film starring Sam Neil and Laurence Fishburne... or perhaps not. It’s certainly the oldest Octomore released to date and the first full term sherry matured expression. Colour: light amber. Nose: quite gentle initially with lots of wafting smoky bacon crisps, hessian and marmite on brown toast. Then it’s moving more towards bouillon stock, miso broth, green olives in brine and antiseptic. There wee notes of salted brown butter, bitter herbal oils, lemon rind and pure seawater. It’s a very salty one with the sherry slightly more on the subdued side. It’s the sea salt, minerals and a dry, slightly grubby coastal smokiness that dominate. With water: still very salty but also more tarry now. Rare green pepper, black olive and lashings of brine. Touches of fruity black coffee in the background. Mouth: soot and salt in abundance. Salted almonds, raw bonfire smoke, wet leaves, liquid seasonings, cocktail bitters, celery salt, carbon paper and industrial floor cleaner. More bacon notes like frying pancetta and black pepper. Gets increasingly meaty and stocky. With water: big notes of smoked meats, marzipan, waxed paper, engine oil, tarry rope and some salty old madeira. I’m not certain the sherry and peat are dancing to the same tune. Finish: long, super saline, meaty, lemony, tarry and still lots of hessian and various seasonings. Comments: Did I mention salt? I wouldn’t say it’s as balanced or as integrated as it could be. But the raw, unbridled singular power can’t fail to impress. Octomore fanatics will be joyfully gooey over this one I’m sure.
SGP: 378 - 85 points.

 

 

Caol Ila 22 yo (58.4%, OB Feis Ile 2019, sherry-treated American oak casks, 3000 bottles)

Caol Ila 22 yo (58.4%, OB Feis Ile 2019, sherry-treated American oak casks, 3000 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: Surprisingly soft. A beautifully fragrant coastal character of sea salt, lemons in brine and beach pebbles. Sandalwood, heather honey, coal smoke and a lovely mix of beach sand and crushed sea shells. There’s a familiar and syrupy herbal quality that gets increasingly prominent as well. Things like mint syrup, herbal ointments and old style cough mixture sweets. I find it extremely aromatic and fragrant. Wonderfully approachable despite the strength. With water: citronella, hessian and a big dial up on the seashore notes. Seaweed, rock pools, pebbles, chalk, bracken and hospital corridors. More medical aspects such as disinfectant and bandages. Mouth: much bigger on arrival than the nose might suggest. Prickling with seashore freshness, minerals, citrus infused oils, gentle tar liqueur notes, old Benedictine and lapsang souchong. Underneath there’s green tea, dried wildflowers, tangerine, eucalyptus sweets and green olive. With water: perfect! Totally salty, mineral, medical, syrupy and with this wonderful fatness to the peat. You can add black olives, petrol, iodine and this persistent and terrific coastal character. Finish: very long. All on brine, both shares of olive, tar, parsley, ointments, sea salt and smoked shellfish. Comments: We’re not quite in the same ballpark as the early 80s casks which are pleasingly ubiquitous these days. But nor are we quite at the latter 90s style either. Rather, we’re somewhere between the two that’s very much its own style. The sherry aspect was very quiet but the overall impression was of an evocative, punchy, complex, elegant and brilliant Caol Ila. Along with the SMWS Laphroaig it’s my joint favourite of this year’s Feis bottlings.
SGP: 466 - 92 points.

 

 

Lagavulin 19 yo (53.8%, OB Feis Ile 2019, sherry-treated American oak casks, 6000 bottles)

Lagavulin 19 yo (53.8%, OB Feis Ile 2019, sherry-treated American oak casks, 6000 bottles)
This one seems to have played a game of musical casks according to the press release. Let’s see how obvious that is. Colour: gold. Nose: rather clean and full of rope, hessian, petrol and mineral oil at first. No great sherry influence up front but a sense of earthiness and some rather rooty peat notes. Hints of salted pistachio, Iberico ham, dried herbs, celery salt and cough medicine. Pretty good so far. With water: sea greens, white flowers, soot, smoked meats, pollens and black olive. Getting towards a rather classical Lagavulin style I’d say. Mouth: rather hot and full of toasted seeds and brown bread. Old rope, leather, hessian, ointments, cooking oils, scotch broth, iodine, lambic ales and heather smoke. There’s a kind of gingery sherry quality but it’s rather quiet and well-integrated - which is good news. Still very earthy and rather peppery as well. With water: some root vegetable notes amidst all the earthy tones, drying, herbal style peat, kelp, rope, ointments, dried apple rings and mushroom powder. Increasingly herbal, medical and drying with a lingering saltiness. Finish: long, lots of peat embers, cured meats, salt baked fish, tar liqueur, ointments, herbal extracts and cough syrup. Comments: A very good whisky, although, considering the pedigree, you could almost argue it’s also a mild disappointment. Now, let’s remember we’re splitting hairs here to a pretty big degree. It’s just we’ve come to expect pretty serious things from these Feis Lagas.
SGP: 466 - 90 points.

 

 

Big thanks to Eddie and Helen. 

 

 

 

 

May 29, 2019


Whiskyfun

Another case of indie Irish (and girls)

There’s more of those independent Irish single malts, most stemming from Northern Ireland (so Bushmills). Please take notice, they are not pure pot still Irish whiskeys, they’re well single malts. And we’ll carefully avoid any non-producing Irish distilleries today, as well as any other unlikely brands and opportunistic establishments…

Irish Single Malt 2001/2018 (50.7%, Whisky-Doris, The Nose Art, bourbon barrel, cask #3673, 225 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 2001/2018 (50.7%, Whisky-Doris, The Nose Art, bourbon barrel, cask #3673, 225 bottles) Three stars and a half
These vintages are known for being less extravagantly fruity than the 1988-1991s, let’s see. Colour: straw. Nose: fruit syrup and soft custard, that’s the main theme here. Almond croissants, barley water, peach syrup, and distant whiffs of prickly pears. Peach liqueur, or even Bellini. Mouth: rather grassy and peppery at first, then fruitier and a tad varnishy. Green tea, pear spirit, lemon juice. Finish: rather long, a tad ethanoly perhaps, but with good fruits and grasses. Apple peeling. Comments: rather a rougher one for a start. It’s good, for sure, but perhaps not one to have with langoustines, see what I mean.
SGP:561 - 83 points.

County of Antrim 24 yo 1991/2016 (47.8, Acla da Fans, sherry, 158 bottles)

County of Antrim 24 yo 1991/2016 (47.8, Acla da Fans, sherry, 158 bottles) Four stars
This one by a well-reputed Eastern-Swiss house that is also doing cigars. They’re located in a kind of tax-free heaven where Appenzeller cheese comes cheaper (joking). Colour: gold. Nose: a touch of some kind of lemony varnish at first, then an avalanche of maracujas, grapefruits and pomegranates. It’s very pure, extremely fruity, and pretty tart, at least for one or two minutes. More sultanas are appearing then, as well as quite a lot of rooibos tea. Which is kind of funny. Mouth: huge. Fresh fruit salad and golden sultanas, with a solid oaky backbone. Red pears, kirsch, papayas, quince wine, also really a lot of herbal teas, possibly from some rather virulent oak. More rooibos, Assam, cinnamon, cocoa powder… Finish: rather long but the oak’s got even more noticeable, if not dominant. It’s still fantastic whiskey, and the nose was out of this world, but there, the sherry cask was probably a little too buoyant. IMHO as we used to say when the Internet was a free world. Comments: well, as I just said. Very good, not very great, because of the oak.
SGP:561 - 85 points.

North of Ireland 27 yo 1988/2015 (47.6%, The Whisky Agency and Acla da Fans, bourbon, 201 bottles)

North of Ireland 27 yo 1988/2015 (47.6%, The Whisky Agency and Acla da Fans, bourbon, 201 bottles) Four stars
I agree, North of Ireland and Northern Ireland may not be the same thing. Colour: pale gold. Nose: typical mango-y start, then some typical maracujas, and hints of pink bananas. Then melons and peach jam, light honey, and fresh hazelnuts. Pristine, as expected. Mouth: some bonbons and pear drops at first, then a grassier oiliness, guava and avocado juices, almond milk, and rather a lot of white pepper. Gets then very citrusy, mainly on pink grapefruits. Feels a little younger than 27 this time, but quality’s high. Finish: long, with touches of varnish and perhaps preserved pineapples. Grassier aftertaste, mango peel… Comments: extremely good but I think we’ve known some smoother 1988-1991 Irish.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Warming up, you see…

Irish Single Malt 28 yo 1990/2018 (48.4%, The Whisky Agency, barrel)

Irish Single Malt 28 yo 1990/2018 (48.4%, The Whisky Agency, barrel) Four stars and a half
Always good fun with these labels – are they suggesting Irish whiskey attracts women like flowers attract bees? Colour: pale gold. Nose: beware, vorsicht, attencion, it seems that it’s one of those mega-fruit-bombs. But there aren’t only mangos and bananas, there are also fine herbs, leaves, cherry stems, perhaps a wee touch of bay leaf, and some superb whiffs of super-fresh almonds. Honeysuckle. Perfect nose, not just fruits and basta cosi. Mouth: some kind of melon and mango smoothie, jams and jellies, more ripe peaches, also a little oak that’s a tad too apparent for me, making it just a little too tea-ish. Right, tannic-like. That is why this charming baby will miss the 90-mark in my book – dura lex, sed lex. Finish: medium, excellently fruity, but again, with a few green tannins too many in the aftertaste. Comments: we’re starting to border perfection.
SGP:661 - 89 points.

Irish Single Malt 28 yo 1990/2019 (47.3%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, barrel)

Irish Single Malt 28 yo 1990/2019 (47.3%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, barrel) Five stars
Colour: gold. Nose: something else, fatter, with embrocations and crushed nuts, whiffs of hay, blond tobacco, croissants, sunflower oil, and only then fruit peelings and sweet potatoes. Vanilla pods. Mouth: excellent, extremely citrusy, very fresh and refreshing, with some white grapes, lemons, passion fruits, rhubarb and kiwis, and a lovely feeling of Chablis, no ideas where that came from. Please pass the oysters! Finish: rather long and rather on marc de gewurz, really. That was unexpected, to say the least. Do they now grow gewurztraminer in Ireland, thanks to global warming? Comments: unusual and very excellent, this rather grappa-y Irish!
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Irish Malt 29 yo 1989/2018 (48.8%, Maltbarn, bourbon)

Irish Malt 29 yo 1989/2018 (48.8%, Maltbarn, bourbon) Five stars
Colour: pale gold. Nose: just yes. Starts with wee whiffs of banana skins, goes on with ripe kiwis and bananas, fresh marzipan, almonds, acacia honey, wallflowers and dandelion, and keeps going on with various apples and fresh tree bark and roots. This is what I call a perfect nose. Mouth: tense and tight, citrusy, with a little agave syrup to keep it, well, tight. Tangerines, blood oranges, muscovado sugar, marshmallows, also Wulong tea and touches of sage and tarragon that bring much complexity. Orange blossom honey. Finish: rather long and just perfect. Melon sherbet in the aftertaste, very refreshing indeed. Comments: this one’s quite flawless, I think it’s worth some solid 91%. Remember, when we use the 100-scale, those are actually percentages. Very well done again, Maltbarn.
SGP:551 - 91 points.

Perhaps a last one…

Irish Malt 29 yo 1989/2019 (56.5%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, ex-rum barrel, 127 bottles)

Irish Malt 29 yo 1989/2019 (56.5%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, ex-rum barrel, 127 bottles) Five stars
Looks like they have a thing with pin-ups in Germany. Colour: straw. Nose: well, the rum was neither Hampden nor Worthy Park and the influence was well controlled. Perhaps a little more tar and rubber? New Wellies? A perfect nose again, this time a tad waxier, with some beeswax and a little banana skin. Now go figure, where do these bananas come from? From the whiskey or from the rum? Can we survive without having the answers to that very crucial question? With water: wait wait wait, there is a very wee petroly side here, but that may be found in many a rum. Agricole? Oh there, we’re having a wonderful Irish malt and we’re spending our time trying to detect the rum. How silly. Mouth (neat): indeed, what’s the rum and what’s the whisky? Does that matter? Fresh bananas are ruling the show, plantains, then guavas, sweet juicy apples, some waxy honeys, perhaps touches of pinot gris, quinces… All is excellent here. With water: just very good. The rum’s extremely discreet now. Finish: rather long, rather grassy, peely, leafy… Banana and mango skins. Comments: don’t they have tropical gardens in Ireland, thanks to the gulf stream? A fantastic Irish once again, Maltbarn’s was just a notch cleaner and a tad more high-res. Indeed, splitting hairs once again.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

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

 

May 28, 2019


Whiskyfun

Mixed bags

Another mixed bag de la muerte of the world

Wasn’t that stoopid headline rather self-explanatory? Let’s see what we have today…

Affinity (46%, Compass Box, blend of Scotch Whisky & Calvados, 6,028 bottles, 2019)

Affinity (46%, Compass Box, blend of Scotch Whisky & Calvados, 6,028 bottles, 2019) Two stars and a half
It’s the kind of mixture we all do at home, especially when we have leftovers, but this time you can have it readymade, or premixed. In France we call this kind of cocktail ‘a cercueil’, which means ‘a coffin’. That too may be rather self-explanatory. Colour: gold. Nose: clearly, the calvados is leading the pack. It is, actually, some kind of softened Calvados, with some cider, apple crumble, poiré (pear cider), then rather touches of honey, orange juice and vanilla. It’s fine, it’s easy, it’s pleasant. Mouth: a tad less cider-dominated, but there is a kind of bitterish fizziness at first, then mineral/chalky notes, with touches of wax that would clearly hint at Clynelish. I think they stroke some kind of balance here, but there are also raisins that make it a tad sweet, reminding me of some ice wine finish that I tried the other day. I would have used refill bourbon, but that’s just me. Finish: medium, still rather more on Calvados than on malt, although a lemony/chalky wax would keep singing in the aftertaste. Comments: why not? It’s very well made, which was to be expected, you just have to enjoy Calvados. Good, can we have mezcal + Caol Ila next time? Hampden + Laphroaig? Or there, gentian + Springbank? Girvan + Southern Comfort? (Delete as appropriate).
SGP:641 - 78 points.

Let’s hop from Scotland/Normandy to Germany (rings a bell, doesn’t it – we love you Freundinnen und Freunde).

Glen Els 5 yo ‘Malaga’ (51.3%, OB, Germany, batch #1678, 108 bottles, +/-2018)

Glen Els 5 yo ‘Malaga’ (51.3%, OB, Germany, batch #1678, 108 bottles, +/-2018) Four stars
It is ‘The Glen Els’, actually, but it is German single malt, either aged or just finished (not too sure) in a quarter cask that had been seasoned (I suppose) with Spanish Malaga wine. How ‘world’ is that? Colour: rich amber. Nose: this reminds me of some crazy bloodtubs that Bruichladdich were doing. High extraction/flavouring and true punch in your face, but sometimes you had miracles. Believe me or not, there is some kind of miracle happening here. Sure the Malaga feels (PX? Moscatel?) and so do some curry-like spices plus a lot of aniseed, but it would just click. I’m surprised I enjoy it a lot (am I not on the edge of schizophrenia?) With water: wonderful chocolate and wood smoke. Pine wood, barbecue, cassis… Mouth (neat): well, this is excellent. I remember Zuidam/Millstone were having something similar. Creamy mouth feel and a lot of chocolate, sloe gin, raisins, bitter oranges, PX  indeed, spicy oak (clove)… With water: it goes the distance! Spicy marmalade, raisins, a little syrup… Finish: long, perhaps a tad too sweet now, but not to unbearable extents. Comments: surprise surprise! To think that I was about to dislike it (you’re right, I may need a shrink)…
SGP:763 - 87 points.

Kavalan 2012/2018 ‘Vinho Barrique’ (53.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Taiwan, cask # W120614028, 180 bottles)

Kavalan 2012/2018 ‘Vinho Barrique’ (53.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Taiwan, cask # W120614028, 180 bottles) Five stars
BTW, congrats Taiwan on the legalisation of same-sex marriage! Full maturation in wine here, but aren’t some good folks’ finishings longer than this full maturation? A for the wine that’s been in use, no ideas but as they use both the word vinho (Portuguese) and barrique (so no pipes or other typical Port casks), this might be Douro or something. Unless it’s just some coopers’ fantasy. Colour: full amber. Nose: richer and rounder than the German, but less smoky. This is more proper sherry than red wine, which we shall just applaud. Jaffa cakes aplenty, marmalade, mirabelle jam, tarte tatin, prunes, pipe tobacco, garden peat, compost… Well, this is pretty perfect. With water: more perfect yet. Cakes, energy bars, maple syrup, sultanas… Mouth (neat): excellent and rather between malt whisky and an old rye. It is unusual indeed, sweet and spicy, with loads of creamy orange liqueur, ginger, turmeric, and really a lot of vanilla, rather than cassis or other ex-red wine flavours. Was this barrique ‘virgin and charred’ when filled or seasoned with the wine? With water: it takes water well but it’s displaying even more spicy rye. Touches of lavender, nutmeg… Finish: long and all on similar flavours. And it would leave your mouth perfectly fresh. Comments: it’s always crucifying to give a high score to a very young whisky, but there.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

We’re having big ones, so not sure we’ll have many… Big ones are more tiring! Oh, another Vinho…

Kavalan 2012/2017 ‘Vinho Barrique’ (57.8%, OB, Taiwan, Solist, cask # W12122530A)

Kavalan 2012/2017 ‘Vinho Barrique’ (57.8%, OB, Taiwan, Solist, cask # W12122530A) Five stars
Really, vinho? Or did they source their casks from… Macao? Colour: dark gold, so even less red wine, if any. Nose: some kind of refill? Or some white vinho? Alvarinho? Bical? Viosinho? Encruzado? Arinto?... It’s just totally lovely, all we’d need now is some Pastéis de Belém. A perfect match. Perfect mirabelle and quince jams, apricot compote, custard, juicy golden sultanas… With water: American oak rather than wine, vanilla, touches of blood oranges, more mirabelles, and a certain Balvenie-ness. Apologies to William Grant. Mouth (neat): it’s pretty perfect indeed. Mirabelle jam and touches of gunflints and white pepper. Works perfectly. With water: same. Some engaging lightness, not often to be encountered in wineskies. Finish: medium, on yellow jams and syrups. Custard, apricots, plums, acacia honey (a disaster in Europe this year, almost no acacia honey!) Comments: I doubt, very highly, that any red wine was ever involved here. Excellent whisky, in any case.
SGP:641 - 90 points.

Okay, let’s do something unlikely, try to find another young whisky of the world that was fully matured in wine barriques and bottled at the very same strength. Gauntlet taken up, some rummage done... Et voilà!

Smögen 8 yo 2011/2019 (57.8%, OB, Sweden, first fill Sauternes barriques, casks # 4 8-10/2011, 1628 bottles)

Smögen 8 yo 2011/2019 (57.8%, OB, Sweden, first fill Sauternes barriques, casks # 4 8-10/2011, 1628 bottles) Five stars
Only good things to say about Smögen – as long as they do no surströmming finish, having said that. Colour: deep gold. Nose: you feel the barrique much more, and the sweet white much more as well. Maybe because these were proper ex-château wine barriques and not some whisky coopers’ bespoke creations. And French oak vs. American. Anyway, mirabelles and apricots for sure, vanilla as well, ditto acacia honey, yellow flowers, rose petals… But also some camphor and some eucalyptus, which weren’t in the excellent Taiwanese whiskies (really, kudos on same-sex marriage, Taiwan!) With water: touches of manure and stewed white asparagus, game, mashed potatoes, and plantains. Less fruits. Mouth (neat): very creamy, and pretty sémillony. In case you don’t know, Sémillon is Sauternes’ main grape variety. No sulphur whatsoever, which is a miracle since they have to use a lot of sulphur with sweet wine casks, which are extremely fragile and prone to rot once emptied. With water: well, apparently this is a day for miracles. The mirabelles, apricots and acacia honey are back. Finish: long, totally clean, with some papayas that I hadn’t noticed before. Comments: it’s not easy to use proper Sauternes barriques, but it’s one of the wine casks that can do wonders. Glann ar Mor’s Jean Donnay had pioneered their use, beyond, for example, Glenmo’s much simpler finishings. Having said that, sweet Sauternes don’t sell too well these days (1) the makers they’re all going for dry whites. Hope these wonderful ‘sweet’ barriques will still be available in the future. (1) That and global warming.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Well, this little session de la muerte was not de la muerte at all, after all! Excuse me? Going on? That’s tricky, we just had a flight of 90-ers and the next one will be in an uncomfortable position… But there. Oh and we haven’t had a Chichibu yet, while we’re now trying to sneak one of those in every time we’re doing one of these crazy world sessions… Oh there, you only live once…

Hellyers Road 16 yo 2002/2018 ‘Original’ (64.5%, OB, Tasmania/Australia, cask #2241.06, 191 bottles)

Hellyers Road 16 yo 2002/2018 ‘Original’ (64.5%, OB, Tasmania/Australia, cask #2241.06, 191 bottles) Four stars
Well, they can handle a little BS too, with their ‘some of the world’s purest drinking water’. But there, we’ve had some brilliant Hellyers Road in the past, and a little hyperbole can’t do no harm from time to time. On the contrary! Colour: gold. Nose: it is, as expected, completely different. More restrained, probably more elegant and subtle, with first some assorted oils and vegetables. Sunflower, sesame, pine nut oil, then celeriac and asparagus stewed in some slightly sweetened water, then some white tea and broken branches, white carrots, fresh almonds… Indeed it’s all rather subtle, despite the insane, quasi-homicidal strength. With water: lovely, it gets breadier, a tad acetic, yeasty, and stunningly ‘from the woods’. Humus, mushrooms… Mouth (neat): love this, it’s just that it burns you. I cannot swallow one single drop. But I can feel it’s brilliant, rather almondy and pine-y, a little balsamic… Oh well, with water: phew, we tamed it. Gingerbread, spicy oak, pumpernickel, pumpkin seed, porridge, ginseng, nutmeg, cinnamon, corn bread, green bananas, poppy seeds… Finish: same for a long time, with just touches of new planks and a little wood smoke. Comments: simply loved this one too. The oak feels a wee bit, but after all, it’s sixteen year old whisky! By the way, flying to Tasmania one day is one of my secret dreams.
SGP:451 - 87 points.

Great world session indeed. And so, we said we’d try yet another Chichibu before we call this a proper tasting session…

Chichibu 6 yo 2010/2017 (59.2%, OB, Japan, fino hogshead, cask #2627, 293 bottles)

Chichibu 6 yo 2010/2017 (59.2%, OB, Japan, fino hogshead, cask #2627, 293 bottles) Three stars and a half
A fino hogshead is either a hogshead that was recoopered from ex-fino butt staves, or a regular hogshead that was seasoned with fino sherry, hopefully in the sherry triangle. I suppose it’s the latter that they’ve been using here. Remember, fino’s kept and matures under flor, and is bone dry. Colour: full gold. Nose: these are not quite nosing whiskies, at least not when they haven’t been reduced yet. A little vanilla, tapioca, sawdust, celeriac, fresh baguette, liquorice wood… With water: gets really earthier, and drier. Notes of white balsamic vinegar, wine cellar, old barrels, cut grass, raw cocoa… It’s a profile that I love, but it’s subtle and perhaps a little too discreet. You cannot talk while nosing this, it needs all of your attention. Mouth (neat): it’s rather soft. I’m finding tangerines, sesame paste, peanut butter, vanilla, brioche, and probably touches of mustard and fresh walnuts from the fino. Well, certainly. With water: much different! Horseradish (very fino), dry lemons, mustard, bags of fresh walnuts, and then this bitter development that’s maybe a little too much. Heavy spicy oak, wasabi, bitter almonds… The oak seized control at this point. Finish: same. Sharp oak spices, roots, mustard, walnuts. In short, concentrated fino. Comments: a very good variation, but I think fino is very tricky. I’m all for pure bourbon in the case of Chichibu, I would never counter their brilliant distillate using unlikely wine casks, even high-class Montrachet or Haut-Brion Blanc. But indeed, not my business, at all.
SGP:362 - 84 points.

That was a nice trip, from London to Normandy to Germany to Taiwan to Sweden to Tasmania to Japan. Adios!

(Merci Lucero and other excellent friends)

 

May 27, 2019


Whiskyfun

Brexit special, a bag of English whiskies

In honour of Theresa May. Right.

Lakes Distillery ‘The One’ (40%, OB, England, blended, +/-2017)

Lakes Distillery ‘The One’ (40%, OB, England, blended, +/-2017) Two stars
Okay, the Lakes Distillery in Cumbria, just south of the border near Carlisle, have been pulling quite a few good laughs with their initial prices, not to mention the fact that they’re making whisky, gin and vodka. I believe you cannot quite call that a whisky distillery, can you? And where’s the rum? But as always, truth lies in your glass, so let’s see… By the way, this must have been sourced, not homemade. Colour: straw. Nose: nice an easy, really. Cake, brioche, custard, grist, white chocolate, a touch of marmalade, and voilà. Nice nose. Mouth: very soft, but fair. Popcorn, a touch of peat, vanilla, some tea, a little tobacco, cereals, breads… It’s good, really. Finish: medium, bready and brioche-y. Some malt and peat in the aftertaste. Comments: that is what the people want, provided the price is fair, say below £30, or €30, or $30. Well made, a good surprise. I suppose I can put down my gun.
SGP:441 - 76 points.

Lakes Distillery ‘Steel Bonnets’ (46.6%, OB, England, blended malt, +/-2018)

Lakes Distillery ‘Steel Bonnets’ (46.6%, OB, England, blended malt, +/-2018) Two stars
Looks like there is some of the Distillery’s own malt inside. Colour: gold. Nose: ah well well well, it’s less clean and tidy as the One, and rather more of yesterday’s porridge. Wort, pot ale, yogurt, yeast, perhaps horse sweat… But all that is not obligatorily bad signs, the palate could be stellar. Mouth: it is a little unlikely, with some steely flavours and more yeasty touches, then more breads, grapefruit, gooseberries, touches of smoke, more grapefruit… I for one kind of enjoy this. It’s not as bad as some have said! Finish: medium, sadly rather too plankish. Sawdust and mustard. Comments: it’s rather fine, it’s just very young on average, without much depth. Hope they’ll make it. Who doesn’t make mistakes, Fraulein?
SGP:351 - 70 points.

The English Whisky Co. 8 yo 2010/2019 (64.9%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, hogshead, 204 bottles)

The English Whisky Co. 8 yo 2010/2019 (64.9%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, hogshead, 204 bottles) Three stars
I’m not well-acquainted with the English Whisky Co., we had chatted with dear Iain Henderson when he was at the helm around twelve years ago, but for some reason, we left it at a draw. Some work to be done, I suppose, let’s start now! Colour: white wine. A good start indeed. Nose: some slightly metallic peat and an acetic development on metal polish, old tools, tarry ropes, and notes of new leatherette and Chinese plastics (may include bisphenol and phthalates). With water: raw wool, porridge and stuff. Mouth (neat): yeah it’s clean, appropriately yeasty, with good lemons in the back and, above all, a lot of wood ashes, charcoal, cigar ashes… What we sometimes call an ‘ashtray-y’ whisky. With water: really, it’s good, it’s got some character, with some nice ashy peatiness and notes of bacalhau. Indeed that’s salted Portuguese cod, which I just adore with a good alvarinho. Finish: long, ashy, yeasty. Comments: I was about to say, if Cadenhead have bottled some English stuff, that must be because it’s not bad (okay, or because someone had foolishly bought quite some casks). The problem with English malts is that you cannot quite blend them. Blend them into… what?
SGP:455 - 82 points.

While we’re at it, but quickly…

The English Whisky Co. 8 yo 2010/2019 (64.6%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, 2 barrels)

The English Whisky Co. 8 yo 2010/2019 (64.6%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, 2 barrels) Four stars
No picture for this elusive bottling, so we’ve put some artist’s impression, and we’ll do this quick. Colour: straw. Nose: yes, asparagus, ink, soot, broken branches, and Caol Ila. Yep that’s faster. With water: raw wool, dough, bread, smoke, porridge. Indeed we’ve seen that before. Mouth (neat): frankly, this is very good. Some substantial peat, some lemons, green apples, oysters, vanilla. Just a tad too simple. With water: indeed it’s good! Nice white peaches beyond the smoke. Finish: rather long, salty, coastal, ashy… Comments: very good, surprisingly good. Now some abysmal question, who would drink English whisky after the Brexit?
SGP:356 - 85 points.

The English Whisky Co. 8 yo 2009/2018 (61.9%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, bourbon hogshead, 228 bottles)

The English Whisky Co. 8 yo 2009/2018 (61.9%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, bourbon hogshead, 228 bottles) Four stars
I would really hate it that we would lose touch and contact with our English friends. I’d hate to have to buy German cars again, Italian shoes and American rock and roll. French whisky? Oh, come on! Colour: straw. Nose: nice. Vegetal oils, salsify, Jerusalem artichokes, pomegranates, smoked cereals. Right, barley. With water: barley and stuff up. Mouth (neat): it’s very good. Now I agree it’s odd that some traditional Scottish company would bottle some English whisky; having said that, they’ve put it under their ‘world whisky’ banner, as if they weren’t in the same country. Which they aren’t, naturally. With water: sadly, it was good. Finish: rather long. Comments: could be that we’re never going to try English whisky again. Why would we? Who’d needs that, unless it’s part of a shared construction? Of a common goal? No, Scotland is something else.
SGP:356 - 85 points.
 

May 26, 2019


Whiskyfun

Five more Cognacs on Sunday

A few Cognacs, because as much as malt whisky was seen as an alternative to Cognac after the phylloxera, more and more lovers of properly aged spirits start to believe that Cognac can make for a perfect malternative, often at a fairer price provided you manage to avoid the large brands that are more about crystal and ‘lifestyle’ (i.e. hot air). Let’s see what we find today, always from a malt lover’s point of view, naturally.

Hine 10 yo ‘XO’ (41.8%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018)

Hine 10 yo ‘XO’ (41.8%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018) Four stars
Right, Hine is a fairly large house, but some say they would rather be on the artisans’ side. I always rather liked their ‘Bonneuils’, for example. Let’s see… By the way age statements are rather a new thing with Cognac, it’s true that you just couldn’t miss this one… Colour: full gold. Nose: oh perfect! Touches of metal polish and pinewood smoke over plums stewed in some sappy honeyed sauce, plus dandelions and the usual preserved peaches. Lovely lovely nose, fresh and yet rather deep. Mouth: great work! It rather goes towards malt whisky, which is a trend indeed with some modern Cognacs, but in this case that works rather perfectly. I’m thinking of Balvenie. Mirabelles (as in ex-BB Balvenie indeed), tinned peaches, touches of orange blossom water, pastries, a discreet touch of liquorice… And frankly, 41.8% works better than 40%, even if we’re never too fond of faked C/S strengths. Finish: medium, clean, floral, fresh, very moreish. Honeyed aftertaste. Comments: this drinks too well!
SGP:541 - 85 points.

Bache Gabrielsen ‘XO’ (40%, OB, Fine Champagne, +/-2018)

Bache Gabrielsen ‘XO’ (40%, OB, Fine Champagne, +/-2018) Two stars
Fine Champagne doesn’t mean it’s any better, it’s just a blend of Grande and Petite Champagne. This baby sadly bottled at just 40%, always a bad sign at WF Towers. Colour: deep amber. Obscured? Nose: very aromatic, much more on orange liqueurs and sweet wine. Rose petals, litchis, wallflower, kumquats… Hints of red wine too, raspberries… I doubt you could make more aromatic, perfumed, heady cognac, it's almost enough to make your head spin. Mouth: indeed, it is a little syrupy – although I wouldn’t swear it’s been highly dosage-ed – with some melon and peach jams aplenty, syrups, liquorice allsorts, bonbons… Do Haribo now own Bache?  Finish: a little short, very sweet. Comments: good but way too sweet for me. Which is a little bizarre, but there…
SGP:741 - 76 points.

Daniel Bouju ‘Empereur XO’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018)

Daniel Bouju ‘Empereur XO’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2018) Two stars
A well-reputed house. They age their Cognacs the proper way (the opposite of what the Scots are doing), that is to say first in new oak for a few years, then in refill, hardly active wood. The opposite of ‘flavouring’. Colour: red mahogany. This must be old. Nose: oh, indeed, all on chocolate and coffee, plus menthol and pinewood. We’re closer to some old brandy from remote places such as… Jerez or Armenia. Some prunes and black raisins too, and very few fresh fruits. Mouth: it’s not that it’s oak-dominated, and the spirit still sings, but indeed I cannot not think of some brandy de Jerez. Orange liqueur and chocolate, plus the blackest black teas and touches of Kahlua (chocolate liqueur). Notes of old walnuts too, or rather walnut wine. Very old-school Cognac, I think my old uncles used to drink this kind. Finish: medium, rather tannic. Bitter chocolate, black tea, and coffee beans. Peaches are noticeable in the aftertaste. Comments: probably very well made, but not my favourite style at all. For lovers of coffeeish Cognacs exclusively?
SGP:461 - 75 points.

Looks like we’re going downwards, this is not normal. Lets’s call to some indie for help…

Vallein Tercinier 28 yo ‘Lot 90 Trois Cépages’ (47.8%, Maltbarn, Fins Bois, for Globe Core, 154 bottles, 2019)

Vallein Tercinier 28 yo ‘Lot 90 Trois Cépages’ (47.8%, Maltbarn, Fins Bois, for Globe Core, 154 bottles, 2019) Four stars and a half
I would wager that these three cépages (grape varieties) were baco, ugni blanc and folle blanche. All these 1990s by Vallein Tercinier have been wonderful. They’re just a little tricky to buy, since there are so many different batches (but never a miss). Colour: straw. Nose: naturally. These are Cognacs that will always appeal to malt drinkers since they’re void of any excessive sweetness, very complex – and not just on fruits – and in this case a touch metallic and waxy. Other than that, we’re finding the usual apricots and peaches, honeydew, pine needles, and menthol cigarettes. Glazed chestnuts. Mouth: honey sauces, agave syrup, peach jam, touch of caraway, touch of clove, a thin slice of cinnamon cake, and really a lot of chestnut honey. The best honey in the world if you ask me, as far as single-flower honeys are concerned. Finish: long, a tad more roasted, with some coffee beans and a little muscovado sugar and then a little marmalade. Comments: actually a tiny-wee-bit on the woody side, but that’s just nothing. I’ve yet to find a Vallein Tercinier that I do not like a lot.
SGP:641 - 89 points.

Vallein Tercinier 33 yo ‘Lot 86’ (49%, Maltbarn, Fins Bois, 160 bottles, 2019)

Vallein Tercinier 33 yo ‘Lot 86’ (49%, Maltbarn, Fins Bois, 160 bottles, 2019) Five stars
It’s just the age statement that’s a wee tad bizarre, shouldn’t that rather be 32, since they harvest around September? I know, pain in the hat those pesky ‘bloggers’… Colour: gold. Nose: oohh! Amazingly fresh and believe me or not, very Clynelishy. We’re talking 1982-1983. Amazing assorted honeys, ‘round’ citrus (tangerines), old beeswax, an earthy touch, a little tobacco, a discreet wood smoke, some teas, a wee bit of paraffin, a hint of mango… Mouth: wonderful tropical fruits, especially pineapples in this case. Pink grapefruits, a drop of riesling, papayas and passion fruits, some Sauternes for sure… Well we should drink this on foie gras! And once again, a most complex honeyness. Finish: rather long, now a little mentholated and pine-y, which works brilliantly with all these fruits. Comments: it’s to be remembered that 1986 was a great vintage in Médoc, while Médoc is not too far away from Charentes and Cognac. Only problem, it goes down your throat faster than Karl Schranz down the Lauberhorn. See what I mean?
SGP:641 - 91 points.

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

 

May 25, 2019


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Whiskyfun: Live From Campbeltown (sort of)
Thankfully I was able to make it to Campbeltown this year for their open days. I have to say, it’s a wonderfully relaxed and fun wee festival. The fact that it’s largely under the remit of just two companies and one quite contained community makes for a more easy going and navigable event than its Islay counterpart. Let’s try a bundle of malts from J & A Mitchell today.

 

Hazelburn 10 yo 2007/2018 (55.9%, OB for Springbank Society, refill sauternes hogsheads, 846 bottles)

Hazelburn 10 yo 2007/2018 (55.9%, OB for Springbank Society, refill sauternes hogsheads, 846 bottles)
Colour: deep gold. Nose: slightly funny nose of fresh carpets at first, but then cereals, toasted nuts (peanuts in particular), mead, coal dust, green wood, hawthorn, olive oil and gorse. The sauternes isn’t very loud so far, overall its very pleasant if a little unlikely. With water: sunflower oil, air freshener, trodden grass, fresh mud, potting sheds, chalk and a hint of lime jelly. Funny stuff. Mouth: That carpety aspect is back and also new leather, plasticine, fabric, green pepper, coal ashes, citrus pith and hessian cloth. Touches of pollen, clay and maybe a touch of cardboard. Unusual is the word. With water: nicer with dilution. Now there’s a balanced mix of soft spices, juniper, white pepper, lemon infused oil, black olive and some overripe tangerine. Finish: Good length but a tad rough and simple. Aspirin, plastic and cough syrups. Comments: I maintain that Hazelburn needs age to bloom. Now, this one was undeniably a bit whacky, but it’s still good and plenty fun.
SGP: 461 - 83 points. 

 

 

Hazelburn 21yo 1997/2019 (46%, OB for Campbeltown Malts Festival, refill sherry hogshead, 222 bottles)

Hazelburn 21yo 1997/2019 (46%, OB for Campbeltown Malts Festival, refill sherry hogshead, 222 bottles)
Colour: light amber. Nose: light and leafy sherry with salted caramel, snicker’s bar and candied mixed nuts. Hints of orange peel, hessian, damp pipe tobacco, chestnuts and something approaching bitter lemon. Add some soft, un-malted cereals and green tea with a slice of lemon. The coastal inflections are pretty light but they are present and very elegant. Mouth: superbly rich, nutty and chocolatey sherry. Plenty of bouillon stock, vegetable broth, Maggi seasoning, salted liquorice and dark fruit chutneys. Again there’s this lovely mix of damp, dark tobaccos and gently sooty, coastal and earthy tones. Some strawberry liqueur, umami seasoning and wee notes of dried mint and herbal ointments. Finish: long and on rather bitter herbal notes - Unicum etc - liquorice, sea salt, peanuts, menthol and a little espresso. Delicious stuff! Comments: This was a very good sherry cask, which isn’t always the case at Springbank in this day and age. I think Hazelburn is really getting into its stride at this age. These recent older bottlings are far better than many of their younger counterparts in my view. What I love most with this one though, is how the ‘Campbeltown’ character still shines through. A great wee Hazelburn.
SGP: 561 - 90 points.

 

 

Springbank 6 yo 2012/2019 (60.1%, OB Cage Bottle, refill barrel, 1 bottles)

Springbank 6 yo 2012/2019 (60.1%, OB Cage Bottle, refill barrel, 1 bottles)
An entirely pointless tasting note given that this is one of Springbank’s well loved ‘Cage’ bottlings from the Cadenhead Shop in Campbeltown. Unless you could consider it illustrative of younger contemporary Springbanks in general? Let’s say that’s our excuse. Plus, no visit to Campbeltown is complete without a rummage in the Cadenhead Cage. Colour: straw. Nose: rather chalky with lots of barley sugar, sherbet and lemon oil. Some gravel, light notes of seawater, fresh cereals and various fresh shellfish notes. The coastal side really shines here. With water: chalky, raw barley, mineral, yeasty - we’re really down amongst the raw ingredients now. Very gristy, mashy and with an autolytic aspect. Mouth: the immaturity shows here a bit more than on the nose. Some rather aggressive peppery heat, notes of fabric and fresh linens. Green pepper, rapeseed oil and hints of paraffin and more petroly notes. With water: again we’re getting close to the basics - yeasty, fermenty notes, sour apples, gravel, dry cider and various breads and toasted seeds. Finish: medium and rather hot and prickly but with some nice lemony, barley qualities underneath. Comments: It’s still a tad young but it’s interesting to try because the distillate is very good and you can really kind of feel it taking shape. A fun thing to try with geeky pals, although more than one dram would be a struggle I think.
SGP: 361 - 83 points.

 

 

Springbank 8 yo 2011/2019 (56.8%, OB for Campbeltown Malts Festival, fresh sherry casks, 1100 bottles)

Springbank 8 yo 2011/2019 (56.8%, OB for Campbeltown Malts Festival, fresh sherry casks, 1100 bottles)
This is one of three new bottlings especially for the festival. Colour: amber. Nose: a big leathery, earthy sherry. Lots of tobacco leaf, mushrooms, marmite, star anise, cough medicine and some rather punchy saline notes. Good so far but a tad sharp. With water: quite salty now, a touch of cigarette ash, graphite and various medicines. Mouth: Strong herbal teas and extracts, cocktail bitters, Seville orange, mustard powder and salty bacon. Quite robust, no nonsense stuff. And the sherry is pretty clean which is good. With water: sweeter and oilier now. Lightly tarry, more ointments, some grilled shellfish and BBQ sauce. Finish: reasonably long and on more of these BBQ notes like char, brown sauce, cough medicine and light antiseptic notes. Comments: I can see why they would bottle such a thing for the festival. This is big, gutsy, uncomplicated whisky for late nights and staying up for the sun. Now, I’d also say it’s a tad tough at times as well.
SGP: 472 - 84 points.

 

 

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, 2019, 3600 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo (46%, OB, 2019, 3600 bottles)
Apparently this one was matured in a mix of 45% port and 55% rum. Not sure if that was full term maturations or re-rackings. Colour: amber. Nose: a nice mix of gentle, leafy earthiness, soft tarry notes, embrocations, tobaccos and red fruit jams. Things like raspberry liquorice, jasmine tea and various kinds of glazed, crystallised and dark fruits. Dates, sultanas, quince and plums to be more precise. In time it gets a little more towards mint and eucalyptus. Really harmonious and characterful nose. Mouth: here the different cask types jar a little more I think. Various overripe citrus peels, cornflakes, muesli, caraway and a more pronounced rum note. Golden syrups, brown sugar, dried herbs, cocktail bitters and some slightly farmy/coastal Springbanky goodness underneath. Finish: good length, back to tobacco, tea tree oils, herbal resins, dried dark fruits and red jams. Comments: a tough one to score. There are parts which really work well with this elegance and gentle complexity. On the other hand it can also feel a tad dissonant at times, especially on the palate. Still, perhaps we’re being a tad too picky...
SGP: 661 - 88 points.

 

 

Springbank 21 yo (47.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co ‘Batch 8’, madeira casks, 911 bottles)

Springbank 21 yo (47.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Co ‘Batch 8’, madeira casks, 911 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: It does feel like we’re nosing an old wine loft. Lots of grape must, salinity, engine grease, plasticine, wet rocks, sheep wool, pollen and dry roasted nuts. Big, classical Springbank that also shows aspects of soot, lemon rind, tiger balm and - indeed - some rather old dry Madeira! Pretty superb. Mouth: the madeira adds a dry, salty and leathery edge. Underneath there’s some pretty deep, fatty earthy qualities. Turmeric, orange peel, some very old Calvados and roasted pistachios. Garden fruits glazed with golden syrup alongside, Somerset ice cider, waxes and hessian cloth. Unusual yet very good. Different yet very much still Springbank. Finish: long, leathery and very meaty with notes of various stocks and cured meats. Gets a tad dirtier in the aftertaste but it’s more along natural lines than artificial. Comments: I really like this one. Lost a single point in the finish but otherwise I think it’s a cracking and pleasingly unusual old Springbank.
SGP: 562 - 90 points.

 

 

Longrow 10 yo (46%, OB, rotation 2010)

Longrow 10 yo (46%, OB, rotation 2010)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: fabric, beach sand, mineral salts, anchovies and sardines in olive oil, elastoplasts and dried seaweed. Further hints of canvas and hessian with various medical balms and embrocations. Pure, classical and pristine Longrow. Mouth: Bam! Perfect sinewy peat. Medicines. Antiseptic. Ink. Wet rocks. Minerals. Lemons in brine. Really great stuff. Finish: long, very salty, lemony, medical, briny, lightly sooty and fat. Comments: That was quick. A perfect, pure and peaty wee Longrow. These bottles are still pretty cheap at auctions I think. Worth getting, it’s really terrific, characterful Longrow.
SGP: 366 - 90 points.

 

 

Longrow 15yo 2004/2019 (52.4%, OB for Campbeltown Malts Festival, fresh rum casks, 911 bottles)

Longrow 15yo 2004/2019 (52.4%, OB for Campbeltown Malts Festival, fresh rum casks, 911 bottles)
Hmmm, rum and peat? I have to say I’m not often a fan of rum cask whiskies, although this is a full term maturation so let’s see... Colour: white wine. Nose: there is indeed a rather sugary rummy quality, but it’s all wrapped up in embrocations, crushed sea shells and bandages. Lots of lemon rind, quinine, cough mixtures, seawater, rock pools and sheep wool. With water: shoe polish, fabric, metal, floor cleaner and aniseed. Mouth: Smoked grains, buttered cereals, anchovy paste, lemon barley water and things like caraway and aspirin. Squid ink, frying pancetta and salty mead. Pretty good and I don’t find the rum aspects particularly dominant, which I’m happy about. With water: sardines in oil, more anchovies, some rather sooty notes and a good trowel-full of peat. Finish: long, salty, lemony, ashy and full of beach pebbles and mineral salts. Comments: At times it’s rather austere which is not what I would have expected. But overall it’s a rather brittle, chiselled and petroly Longrow. The distillate sings and the rum knows to sit in the corner and be seen and not heard.
SGP: 365 - 86 points.

 

 

 

 

May 24, 2019


Whiskyfun

Sweet little duos
Today two old Cragganmore

Two older, probably almost unobtainable bottlings, just for fun. It’s not that there would be many new ones anyway…

Cragganmore 12 yo (45.7%, OB, for D.&J. MacCallum Edinburgh, +/-1980)

Cragganmore 12 yo (45.7%, OB, for D.&J. MacCallum Edinburgh, +/-1980) Four stars and a half
Not a bottle we’re seeing very often, but it does appear at auctions from time to time. Not even sure it’s a proper OB, but there. Colour: gold. Nose: well, this has nothing to do with the current makes, it is much greasier, slightly metallic, much more ‘old Highlands’, and rather less sherried. Wonderful notes of crushed chalk, a lot of hay, and a slightly bouillony development, although there would also be more oranges and tangerines. Truly wonderful, pretty much in line with the very first Classic Malts. A wee spoon of strawberry jam as well. Wonderful indeed. Mouth: a wee tad more unlikely at first, with strawberries again and touches of cardboard, but all is going well after just one minute, with some grist, ale, chalk, a touch of candlewax, those oranges, and hints of peat smoke that would come with a little brine as well. In short, a Cragganmore that’s a little coastal, I would say. Body and mouth feel are perfect. Finish: rather long, oily, with some bitter oranges and a green spiciness. Some kind of curry. A little iron, salt and some strawberries again in the aftertaste. Comments: mega-good, as they say. There’s rather more character than in modern offerings, definitely one of the bolder Speysiders.
SGP:452 - 89 points.

Let’s find an indie of similar age…

Cragganmore-Glenlivet 10 yo 1989/2000 (60.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon butt, 348 bottles)

Cragganmore-Glenlivet 10 yo 1989/2000 (60.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon butt, 348 bottles) Four stars
Indeed, it was saying ‘bourbon butt’. Perhaps a butt that’s never been used for sherry? Or did some mad coopers re-cooper some barrels into butts? Or did somebody over there in Campbeltown do too much quality control? I would say the outturn would rather suggest a hogshead, but there, only what’s on the label is ‘official’, so a bourbon butt it is. Colour: gold. Nose: rather aggressive and even a tad acidic and acetic at first nosing, with a blend of lime juice and nail polish remover (just a drop of the latter). Then the same notes of crushed chalk, unripe kiwis, grass, and then quite a lot of plastic. Cadenhead were having rather a lot of brutal young malts at that time, this is a perfect example. Remember the lethal St. Magdalenes? With water: turnips and bread, sorrel, mashed vegetables, Jerusalem artichokes, porridge… You see. Mouth (neat): very pungent, on lemon squash and grass juice, plus some kind of varnish again. Some kind of family-made aguardiente. With water: more lemony charms, and more clay and chalk. A tad rounder, a notch more civilized. Barley syrup. Finish: long, sharp, curiously vertical for a Speysider. Comments: nothing to do with any official Craggamnores, but it’s good to be able to try a very raw one. Actually better than it sounded, I would say.
SGP:361 - 85 points.

Happy we did this wee session.

(Muchas gracias, Hideo and Tom)

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

 

May 23, 2019


Whiskyfun

Fight

Wee battles,
today Glen Keith

Angus just sent this one and we shall retaliate!

 

 

Glen Keith 23 yo 1993/2016 (48.6%, The Whisky Agency ‘Art Nouveau Ladies’, hogshead, 140 bottles)

Angus:
Glen Keith 23 yo 1993/2016 (48.6%, The Whisky Agency ‘Art Nouveau Ladies’, hogshead, 140 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: an easy fruity one, ripe banana, guava, melon, some juice from a fruit salad bowl and then leafier, greener aspects beyond that. Some hints of pineapple, apple juice, sultana, nutmeg grated over rice pudding and a sprig of fresh mint. The height of easiness in malt whisky, I find it hard to imagine anyone not finding pleasure in this kind of nose. Goes on with a few wee hints of tonic water and orange vitamin tablets. Mouth: a surprisingly rich cereal and malty profile up front. Lots of juicy malt, lemon barley water, light cough syrups, dried mint, pastis, retsina wine, a touch of eucalyptus, mirabelle, young calvados and some softer earthy tones. Once again, who could be against this? Characterful while also extremely easy going. Finish: good length and rather honied with green fruit syrups, pear drops, candy floss and still plenty of plush cereals and some toast. bready notes. Comments: What more can you say? Easy, fruity, natural malt whisky at the right age. No shortage of enjoyment to be had here.
SGP: 551 - 87 points.

 

 

 

Serge:
All right Angus, very well, let me retaliate with something unusual… Very heavy artillery!

Glen Keith 1968/2018 (52.8%, Gordon & MacPhail for Whisky Warehouse, cask #7893, 42 bottles)

Glen Keith 1968/2018 (52.8%, Gordon & MacPhail Exclusive to Whisky Warehouse, cask #7893, 42 bottles) Four stars
This one is 50, more or less! This wee baby came in a classic decanter that would just astound your old aunt. It is to be remembered that Glen Keith was built (very close to Strathisla) between 1957 and  1960 and used to triple-distil its whiskies until around 1970, although those data would be a little uncertain and, as usual, depend on your sources of information. In short, this one should have been triple-distilled using three stills, but we have no iron-clad proof and we shall not ask owners Pernod. Colour: full amber. Nose: cakes and dried fruits! I could not tell you whether this was double or triple distilled, but dried figs, pears and dates do abound. Also milk chocolate, vieille prune, notes of armagnac and cognac, fresh turon, halva… All that is pretty beautiful. With water: full of teak oil, sailcloth, compost, and really a lot of proper black tea from China. A mysterious, subtle, and very lovely nose. Now, as usual with these old whiskies, it’s on your palate that things may go awry… Mouth (neat): right, the oak really feels here. Heavy sappiness, thuja, black tobacco, teas, salty pine liqueurs, Jägermeister and Unicum and ‘stuff’, Fernet Branca… With water: no, careful, water would wreck such an old malt more often than never. Tea, cardboard, wood. Finish: medium, sappy, resinous. Nice but do not touch your pipette (let alone your teaspoon). Comments: a bit like listening to baroque. You ought to love it but between you and you, you rather don’t. But the nose was splendid!
SGP:371 - 85 points.

Angus, I tried super-hard, but looks like you won this one. Now vengeance is a dish...

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

 

May 22, 2019


Whiskyfun

A day(ish) of Clynelish, part trois

Because you cannot have enough Clynelish, unless your doctor says so (unless your doctor is a Clynelish fan as well). First, the usual aperitif…

Clynelish 17 yo 1997/2014 (46%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, cask #4043)

Clynelish 17 yo 1997/2014 (46%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, cask #4043) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: typical limestone, lemon skin, lemons, paraffin, cut grass, and that wee fruity touch that one can sometimes find in Clynelish and other malts - or not. Right between strawberries and raspberries. Also raw wool and rainwater. Typical so far. Mouth: just very good, only these notes of strawberry are slightly embarrassing. Toplexil, kid’s mouthwash... All the rest is perfect, from lemons to chalk and from high-paraffin candlewax to green olive brine. Finish: long, really very salty. I’m sometimes wondering if reduction does not bring salt out. No, not talking about salty waters. Comments: rather long, saltier, more on fresh bread, waxes and lemons. The strawberries are gone and we shan’t complain.
SGP:562 - 87 points.

A new one now…

Clynelish 26 yo 1992/2019 (50.1%, Hidden Spirits, cask #CY9219, 193 bottles)

Clynelish 26 yo 1992/2019 (50.1%, Hidden Spirits, cask #CY9219, 193 bottles) Five stars
In my book, these early 1990s (or late 1980s for that matter) vintages were rather less consistent, but let’s see… Colour: white wine. Nose: hell, no! It’s totally pure, brine-y, very coastal Clynelish. Wonderful notes of Swiss cheese, sour cream, well-cured cigars, miso, kelp, mutton suet, oysters… Well, you see. With water: amazing. Menthol, eucalyptus, oyster juice, camphor, seaweed, mud, rain and vase waters, sourdough, rough ale… Mouth (neat): oh get out of here but first, please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade. Totally huge whisky, extremely game-y, meaty in a clean way, medicinal, bandage-y… And we haven’t even talked about the waxes. Many shellfish too, oysters, whelks, clams, cockles, cuttlefish, scallops, mussels (I think that’ll do, S.) With water: by Jove! This is immense recent-period Clynelish. Stunning whisky that kills many, if not all other malts and would even make a few modern efforts look pathetically clumsy. They should study this at university! Finish: sadly. Comments: totally terrific Clynelish that nods to the 1970s or even the 1960s, but ‘hidden’, in what sense? Now believe me, this bottle will become legendary.
SGP:453 - 94 points.

Sh*t, what we do now? Only one solution, go vertical…

Clynelish 1990/1998 (59%, Samaroli, barrels, casks #1015+1016, 492 bottles)

Clynelish 1990/1998 (59%, Samaroli, barrels, casks #1015+1016, 492 bottles) Four stars
Silvano Samaroli was a man of good taste. Indeed, careful now… Colour: white wine. Nose: Silvano used to enjoy eaux-de-vie, so no wonder he selected this fairly immature, yet pristine very young Clynelish. We’re almost on Savile Row with all these whiffs of fabric, tweed, new suits… and in the Vosges or Schwarzwald mountains, with these plum spirits, kirsch, Williams pears, tiny sloes and other berries some crazy people keep distilling when the state’s not watching… And rather bold notes of fresh almonds that are leading to waxes. Some mud as well, as almost always. Love the smell of ‘clean’ mud. With water: some saccharin coming out, that’s a little odd. Plastic pouches. Mouth (neat): pungent, raw, and in truth we’re almost on Islay. Now it’s a little too strong, it’s hard to enjoy it just like that. With water: very good indeed, but perhaps not mature enough. It’s true that it’s got a death seat after the sublime Hidden one. Finish: medium, rather fruity. Some sugar again, plus a medicinal touch. Comments: at some point it started to resemble very young Ardbeg (those official series called Still Too Young, Not There Yet, About To Arrive, Leave The Key Under The Mat, etc, remember?)
SGP:552 - 85 points.

I’m afraid the 1992 killed our little session. Unless, a last shot…

Clynelish 27 yo 1974/2001 (56.3%, Adelphi, cask #2565, 213 bottles)

Clynelish 27 yo 1974/2001 (56.3%, Adelphi, cask #2565, 213 bottles) Five stars
This old bottle from when Adelphi started to work with the ophthalmology lobby, with these crazy labels that you just cannot read unless you’re really high on cocaine. Or an eagle. Colour: straw. Nose: yeah right, the seminal vintages. Astounding smoked meats and breads, dazzling honeys and pollens, old chardonnays, flabbergasting waxes, and some extreme spicy and coastal notes. Some mussel curry or something. With water: wonderful softer honeys, waxed papers, old books in an old library… All that is just wonderful and as ‘beehive-y’ as Clynelish could get in those days. Mouth (neat): huge, invading, almost aggressive, full of bitterish waxes and concentrated honeys. There’s almost something Jamaican, it is to wonder if they weren’t pushing bacterial fermentation in those days. With water: feels like home. What a distillate! But please go easy on water… Finish: long, totally beehive-y indeed. Strong mead and grass in the aftertaste. Comments: to be honest, not everyone will love this style, but I just do. Could even be kind of Freudian.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

Abandon ship!

(Gracias Cato, Geert and Lucero)

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

 

May 21, 2019


Whiskyfun

A day(ish) of Clynelish, part deux

More joy, more adventures, more funny ones (hopefully), and another aperitif…

Clynelish 17 yo 1998/2016 (43%, Signatory Vintage, hogsheads, casks #7778+7779)

Clynelish 17 yo 1998/2016 (43%, Signatory Vintage, hogsheads, casks #7778+7779) Four stars and a half
A lovely copper tone on these bottlings; looks like our beloved distillers aren’t using copper very much anymore with their packagings, rather gold (same price at the printers.) Colour: white wine. Nose: loads of paraffin, lamp oil, sourdough, fresh concrete, damp hay, grass, ink, soot… It is bone dry so far, which we enjoy at WF Towers, naturally. Mouth: oh lovely! More salty fruits, fresh croissants, a touch of pink pepper, the obligatory wax, notes of freshly squeezed orange, a very wee bonbon, plums, a little green liquorice… All is very fine and you’ve got the feeling that at this lower strength, you could quaff  double doses. Really, iut’s excellent. Finish: medium and even more perfect, totally Clynelish as we love it. Waxes, citrons, a mineral touch, and a hint of sea salt. Comments: could be that this wee baby will win BFWYB this month, we’ll see…
SGP:452 - 88 points.

Since we’re at Signatory’s…

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2017 (55.7%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butt, casks #11228, 625 bottles)

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2017 (55.7%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butt, casks #11228, 625 bottles) Five stars
In my book Clynelish and sherry do not always tango very well, but this is refill, so this should be a piece of cake. Colour: white wine. Nose: similar territories but this is even drier and more herbaceous. Nosing ink mixed with plaster, menthol and lamp oil. Lovely ;-). With water: raw wool and chalk and touches of aniseed and fennel. Even more lovely. Mouth (neat): a blade. Beeswax, lemon skin, aspirin, limestone and limoncello. Very thick mouth feel; it’s perfecto. With water: exceptional, we’re almost in Old Clynelish territories now. Sharp lemons, sucking pebbles at the beach, wool, mint cordial, wax of course, a touch of tobacco (when we used to inadvertently crunch a bit of tobacco while smoking untipped cigarettes, sometime in the 1970s – you know, Senior Service, Craven A and such. Finish: long, luminous, chalky lemony and waxy. Comments: textbook 1990s Clynelish, totally unquestionable. A milestone malt.
SGP:462 - 91 points.

Clynelish 22 yo 1995/2018 (56.3%, Signatory Vintage, refill butt, casks #8673, 609 bottles)

Clynelish 22 yo 1995/2018 (56.3%, Signatory Vintage, refill butt, casks #8673, 609 bottles) Five stars
In theory… But you never know… Colour: pale gold. Nose: sherry up, liquorice up, menthol up, marmalade up, but all that in moderation. Some sour cider, some tobacco… Indeed the butt was more active, which the darker colour already suggested. But no clashes so far… With water: amazing. Gentian and verbena eaux-de-vie and liqueurs, plus some humus, mushrooms, tobacco and citrus. Oh and waxes. Mouth (neat): yeah well it is excellent, as expected. Amazing mentholy profile, rich and thick, and yet well-composed and elegant. Pastis (oui madame monsieur), liquorice, salted lime juice, a little green oak and leaves, chestnut purée, brine… With water: simply glorious. Finish: long, amazingly fresh and yet fat. Superlative lemons, minerals, and of course waxes. Comments: Springbank’s best buddy in the East. Used to be Lochside but Springbank was a little different back then. While indeed, Lochside is no more, sadly (but there’s a fairly new one, watch these little pages!).
SGP:562 - 91 points.

Indeed we’re flying high already, but no surprise here. Perhaps another 1995?...

Clynelish 22 yo 1995/2018 (54.1%, Murray McDavid, Mission Gold for SCSM China, bourbon hogshead, cask #10186, 194 bottles)

Clynelish 22 yo 1995/2018 (54.1%, Murray McDavid, Mission Gold for SCSM China, bourbon hogshead, cask #10186, 194 bottles) Four stars and a half
Most certainly from the same parcels, so there are high hopes here. Always a joy to try all these newish bottlings for the Celestial Empire. Colour: white wine. Nose: just immaculately evident (what?) Chalk, clay, dough,  fresh croissants, lemon skin, earth, seashells, gummed paper. With water: gets a tad muddier. Whiffs of miso too. Mouth (neat): so good, so good… And yet it’s a little different, a tad wackier than the others. Perhaps a little grapefruit squash or something? Canned pomegranate juice? Or are those cranberries? Other than that, some burnt bread, waxes, cinnamon bread… Well it’s the least Clynelishy of all these 1995, but it remains very good when undiluted. With water: fells back in line, but it’s still got a few unusual aspects, such as these notes of pomegranate. Banana cake too? Finish: it’s not impossible that some previous content of that hogshead imparted ‘different’ flavours, but it remains excellent. Comments: a slightly fruitier, less academic and orthodox mid-1990s Clynelish. I have nothing against that.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Four’s a good number with Clynelish. We may have more tomorrow…

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

 

May 20, 2019


Whiskyfun

A day(ish) of Clynelish

And so they did a Clynelish ‘Game Of Thrones’! To me, that’s equivalent to a Patek Philippe ‘Nigel Farage’, a Cheval Blanc ‘Kim Kardashian’, or a Zind Humbrecht Rangen de Thann ‘Dan Quayle’ (please, don’t!) I had thought the Lagavulin GOT was okayish, but I’ve heard this Clynelish was better. But first the 14 that we haven’t tried since a few years, and perhaps a few other ‘lishes after the two OBs.

Clynelish 14 yo (46%, OB, +/-2019)

Clynelish 14 yo (46%, OB, +/-2019) Four stars
I used to think they had much improved the recipe over the years. I wasn’t a fan of the early releases, but the recent ones used to cruise along the 86/76-line. Colour: gold. Nose: starts a little sour (cider) and even vinous, all that being pretty nice, before it gets waxier, as expected. There’s quite some vanilla too, some coal smoke, a little sea water, and then some smoked ham or even sausages (or Landjäger), something I hadn’t encountered before. I mean, in the official 14. The vanilla’s a little bolder too, I think. More rejuvenated wood? Mouth: good! Once again it is a little smokier, perhaps a tad bitterer too, salty and briny, with oranges, ginger, turmeric, hints of gin (they could do martinis), and then some vanilla again. The smoky waxiness kept the lead, but I would say this OB’s globally more ‘vanilla-ed’ than most, if not all indies. Finish: long, beautifully bitter. Campari (and gin). Some kind of readymade Negroni from Brora. Comments: no quibble here, even if I like them even clearer and cleaner.
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Clyne(cough)lish (cough) Reserve ‘Game Of (cough) Thrones’ (51.2%, OB (cough), 2019)

Clyne(cough)lish (cough) Reserve ‘Game Of (cough) Thrones’ (51.2%, OB (cough), 2019) Two stars and a half
NAS and from the ‘House Tyrrel’, apparently. I didn’t know Uncle Ken had started some whisky business, did Jackie Stewart give him that idea? Colour: gold. Nose: clearly more oak than in the 14. Sawn wood, branches, a Saturday morning at IKEA, then limestone and concrete, grated dry coconut, paraffin and rusks. The jury’s still out. With water: vanilla and bananas. Typical fresh American oak. Mouth (neat): modern and quite good. Sweet oak, vanilla, paraffin, beeswax, lavender sweets (it’s got a Bowmore-y side indeed), then sadly, some much drier and bitterer oak. And cinnamon mints. I don’t know if the Tyrrels are villains, but this is certainly not the subtlest Clynelish ever. With water: the oak in the back feels too much for me. Finish: rather long but bitter. Green pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg. Comments: so, are the Tyrrels villains? As far as Clynelish is concerned, I’m sorry but this is not exactly my thing. Reminds me a bit of the late 1970s vintages.
SGP:461 - 78 points.

Let’s check a few indies if you don’t mind, starting with a young one…

Clynelish 2008/2019 (53.3%, Riegger’s Selection, Ice wine cask finish, cask #800191, 294 bottles)

Clynelish 2008/2019 (53.3%, Riegger’s Selection, Ice wine cask finish, cask #800191, 294 bottles) Four stars
What, ice wine? Canadian ice wine? We can’t use that appellation in the EU anymore because of some kind of trade deal, if I’m not mistaken. Colour: gold. Nose: you do find apricots indeed, which makes this wee Clynelish much softer and rounder than usual. More honeyed too, pleasantly herbal (lime blossom, honeysuckle), a wee tad mentholy, and with touches of easy sweet wine. Monbazillac, perhaps. With water: sweet oak, melon, banana, custard. Mouth (neat): it’s pretty. Not really Clynelish, but pretty. Some sour custard, apricot jam, pear juice, more Monbazillac, then a green spiciness from the wood. Maybe European oak. With water: same profile, plus a little liquorice wood. Plums. Finish: medium, just as apricoty. Some green tea. Comments: I would have said cask strength Glenmorangie. It’s true that both distilleries are neighbours, somehow. So not very Clynelish, but pretty pretty good.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Clynelish 25 yo 1993/2018 (47.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #26.125, ‘Valentin’s Moustache Wax’, refill bourbon barrel, 175 bottles)

Clynelish 25 yo 1993/2018 (47.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #26.125, ‘Valentin’s Moustache Wax’, refill bourbon barrel, 175 bottles) Four stars
What Valentin’s moustache wax? It’s more and more obvious to me that they’ve smoked all their carpets, at the Vaults. Because I never use any moustache wax, mind you (isn’t that rather you, Charlie?) Let’s make this clear, I am not involved in this botting in any way, they’ve just used my name while I was busy elsewhere. Colour: white wine. Nose: it is a funny one, at that. Pointed cabbage, vase water, sweet mustard, manzanilla, old pears, heather honey, old dry muscat, a drop of vegetable bouillon, also a drop of miso soup (with bean curd)… And, how scandalous, no moustache wax whatsoever! And my lawyer who’s on vacation… Mouth: it is a loco Clynelish, indeed. More vegetables, lime juice, sour soups and juices, a touch of soap, some salted broth, Maggi… Actually, I’m wondering, isn’t this rather Glenturret? Or Tullibardine? Some salted caramel, a little pipe juice, artichokes… Now it grows on you, it’s just very unusual, and bizarrely salty. Split pea sausage soup. Never thought you could bring all this out of a bourbon barrel. Finish: rather long, a tad more leathery, waxier, with more paraffin and bitter oils. Comments: canned soup. Extremely hard to score. I’ll say 85 but it is kind of unparalleled in its salty oddness. I’m asking you, what can I do?
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Break! But we’ll be back with more Clynelish…

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

 

May 19, 2019


Whiskyfun

Our traditional bag of rums on Sunday

Let’s see what we have on the table today...

Flor de Cana 7 yo 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Nicaragua, +/-2018)

Flor de Cana 7 yo 'Gran Reserva' (40%, OB, Nicaragua, +/-2018) one star and a half
'Slow aged', LOL. A very controversial brand since there’s been so many articles exposing their sugarcane workers’ huge health problems two or three years ago. Some have started boycotting it, while the owners are now pushing Fair Trade deals to try to counter the problem. I have to say I rather liked their 18 yo ‘Centenario’ (WF 82). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s not very expressive, and rather on cakes than on fruits. Some fudge, caramel, burnt brownies, large-brand chocolate, and an unexpected maltiness. Somewhat in midstream, shall we say. Mouth: starts a little sweet and spirity, gets then extremely coffee-ish, with a lot of bitter caramel, more burnt cakes, over-roasted nuts (pecans), and a lot of bitter chocolate and caffé ristretto. An unusual feeling of sweet and dry. Finish: a little short, roasted, rather on office coffee this time. Or coffee-schnapps. Artichokes in the aftertaste. Comments: not too bad, but I tend to prefer the Mexicans within this dry black style. It’s also funny that it would remind me of Macallan’s super-dark old ‘Gran Reserva’.
SGP:360 - 68 points.

Since we’re in Nicaragua…

Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua 18 yo 1998 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R8.2, ‘The Hunt Master’, refill barrel, Nicaragua, 315 bottles, +/-2017)

Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua 18 yo 1998 (57.5%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R8.2, ‘The Hunt Master’, refill barrel, Nicaragua, 315 bottles, +/-2017) Two stars
Those are well the makers of Flor de Cana. Colour: gold. Nose: pretty light and rather on sunflower oil as well as fresh almonds and hazelnuts, this goes to show how ‘wooded’ the official 7 was. Very light profile, with a little ethanol, perhaps bonbons, some green tea… With water: not much. Dried herbs and flowers, old potpourri and patchouli… Perhaps… And just a drop of benzine. Mouth: wasn’t this sweetened-up at the fillings? Some sucrose, syrups, light cane, grass, touches of liquorice allsorts… With water: some pears coming through now. Really, pears, plus some caraway (aquavit). Finish: medium, a tad grassier. More bonbons in the aftertaste. Comments: fair, but too undemanding and, well, bland(ish) to make for a proper malternative.
SGP:540 - 72 points.

Right…

Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua 12 yo 2004 (55%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R8.3, ‘Fruit and nut case’, refill barrel, Nicaragua, 335 bottles, +/-2017)

Compañía Licorera de Nicaragua 12 yo 2004 (55%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #R8.3, ‘Fruit and nut case’, refill barrel, Nicaragua, 335 bottles, +/-2017) Four stars
Colour: amber. Nose: there’s a little more happening in this one. Notes of peonies and old copper coins, for example, rainwater, chocolate cake (a very thin slice), some kind of distant peatiness (really), preserved pineapples… I have to say this is pretty nice so far, let’s see if it would stand water. With water: very nice liquorice and menthol! Also black earth, Pu-erh, pipe tobacco… It’s got nothing to do with the humble R8.2, I tell you. Mouth (neat): I suppose it’s the cask that did all the work here. Nice notes of pine resin, liquorice, ginger tea, coffee and chocolate, molasses, a touch of malt extract, also hints of old Pedro Ximenez or even moscatel, aquavit again... Good, there is some action in this one! With water: and the sugarcane comes out! Really very nice, if not as full as some pot-still or short-column rums. Finish: medium, pine-y and chocolaty. Liquid thin mints, shall we say, with some mentholy liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: well, I was having little hope after the OB and the 1998 SMWS, but looks like I was wrong (who said again, who?)
SGP:462 - 86 points.

Foursquare 13 yo 2005/2019 (63.4%, Kinghaven, Barbados)

Foursquare 13 yo 2005/2019 (63.4%, Kinghaven, Barbados) Four stars and a half
This by a new Swedish bottler that’s very closely related to Smögen Distillery. Which cannot be bad news, even if they’ve done a finishing in Swedish oak on it (thought they were only having fir up there, ha ha…), which does not sound too Caribbean, does it. Please note that this is Foursquare’s usual single blend. Colour: gold. Nose: well, that worked. I’m reminded of Marie-Galante, don’t ask me why. Praline, warm oak, roasted pecans, lighter molasses, milk chocolate, priest’s garden (medicinal herbs), roasted hazelnuts, hazelnut cream (one that will not kill any orangutans), blond tobacco… With water: lovely! A lot of orange blossom, which I’m always fond of. A fresh panettone with rich golden sultanas. Mouth (neat): I think I’m getting the Swedish oak. There’s quite a lot of liquorice, more roasted nuts, some marmalade, some ginseng, more praline, and a feeling of sweet yellow curry. Or garam masala. With water: lovely green teas, more orange blossom water, chamomile tea, tangerines… Finish: medium, all on panettone (there!) Comments: I don’t think I could recognize Swedish oak, but this is some brilliant rum that swims extremely well. Needs your time, though.
SGP:551 - 89 points.

Perhaps something pot still now?

Diamond 9 yo (55.9%, That Boutique-y Rum Company, Guyana, batch 1, 461 bottles, +/-2018)

Diamond 9 yo (55.9%, That Boutique-y Rum Company, Guyana, batch 1, 461 bottles, +/-2018) Five stars
This one from the Port Morant/Mourant double wooden pot still, with a nice label depicting the still being moved to Diamond in Georgetown. Colour: white wine. Nose: hell and putrefaction, this one is high-ester! We’re almost nosing some crushed anchovies covered with olive oil and sea salt. Perhaps also some Stornoway pudding and the maddest, moistest black pipe tobacco. Spectacular. With water: p.e.a.r.s.! In truth this somehow noses like some young high-quality Domfrontais, really. Indeed that’s Calvados. Mouth (neat): big brine, big earthy marc de Bourgogne, big pickled anchovies, and small rotting bananas and pomegranates. It’s a wonderful combination, pretty unusual I think. With water: wonderful. Salted fruits, peppered strawberries, and sardines stewed in cider. Well, more or less that. Finish: long, salty, drier. Noilly Prat. Or bananas used as vegetables, with veal scaloppines. And I’m hungry now, not you? Comments: a masterstroke, really.
SGP:553 - 91 points.

(Thank you Lance)

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

 

May 18, 2019


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Loyal Brackla? 
Is Brackla one of these rather simple, honest and ‘loyal’ malt whiskies? Or am I simply clutching at hopelessly uninventive titles? Now, what was that story about Prince Phillip and the ‘Royal’ prefix again? Possibly some other kind of car crash, literal or figurative - you never know with Prince Phil. Sadly, while in Slovenia, the elusive Royal Brackla Appreciation Society aren’t at hand to offer insight on such matters. Oh well, onwards...

 

Royal Brackla 19 yo 1997/2017 (46%, Berry Brothers, cask #9911, hogshead)

Royal Brackla 19 yo 1997/2017 (46%, Berry Brothers, cask #9911, hogshead)
Colour: white wine. Nose: a rather ‘swollen’ style of spirit. Lots of pretty fat cereals, olive oil, grasses, fresh herbs, tea biscuits, nettles and butter. Pretty good really, we’re some distance from blandness. Wee notes of white pepper, watercress, a scraping of lemon rind and some dried parsley. Eau de malt whisky! Mouth: again this sense of slight fatness. It’s all very cereal / barley driven - which is great - but the texture is what’s most notable. Lemon barley water, buttered brown toast, pot pourri, Darjeeling tea and a wee note of buttermint sweeties. There’s also some shortbread, various freshly baked breads, straw and milky cornflakes dusted with icing sugar. Finish: a little short perhaps. Peppery around the front of the palate in the aftertaste and with some residual cereals and herbal aspects. Comments: Honesty, simplicity and - indeed - loyalty. Exactly the qualities favoured by Her Majesty Queen Victoria. No wonder Berry Brothers bottled it. Probably a suitable tipple for when you’re waiting for the beaters to drive up a few extra Grouse. 
SGP: 551 - 84 points. 

 

 

Royal Brackla 27yo 1975/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid ‘Mission I’, 600 bottles)

Royal Brackla 27yo 1975/2002 (46%, Murray McDavid ‘Mission I’, 600 bottles)
A series that’s a tad forgotten these days, which is a shame as it sheltered plenty very fine drams. Mind you, that may well be because most of them got quaffed already. Colour: gold. Nose: what strikes first is a rather pronounced medical quality. Something that’s occasionally to be found in these old school highlanders. It’s this mix of balms and light embrocations that sits very well alongside soft waxes, honeys and touches of nectar and beeswax. Some softer fruit notes such as sultanas, banana bread and quince as well. Quite soft but very elegant and enjoyable. Mouth: nicely in keeping with the nose in that the medicines strike first but they’re quickly followed by pine needles, wax jacket, canvas, pipe tobacco, dried citrus peels, sunflower seeds and heather honey. Clean, light, refreshing, old school highland malt whisky. Quite a big difference from the 1997, but then isn’t that always the case with these older whiskies? Finish: medium length and on wood resins, herbal teas, salted honey, hessian, dried mint and putty. Comments: It looks like Serge scored this one 85 points back in the day but didn’t publish any notes for it. I like it a bit more, while it doesn’t quite have the requisite oomph to hit 90 I still think it’s a very solid 88. Probably the sort of thing Prince Philip would enjoy from an optic on his dashboard while navigating a public single track road near Balmoral on a crisp winter morning. 
SGP: 561 - 88 points.

 

 

No holiday bonus notes this time. I’m afraid I’ve been more focused on the wines this past week. I’m sure you understand.

 

 

 

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

 

May 17, 2019


Whiskyfun

A flood of Benrinnes, Act Three

Because nothing is impossible to a valiant heart. More seriously, these Benrinnes are very good, I’m sure we couldn’t fetch the same high averages today with much bigger names such as Macallan or Ardbeg. Aren’t the cards being seriously reshuffled these days? But first, the usual aperitif at lower strength…

Benrinnes 1996/2009 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, sherry casks)

Benrinnes 1996/2009 (43%, Jean Boyer, Best Casks of Scotland, sherry casks) Three stars
Hugs Jean Marie! Colour: gold. Nose: not quite a Macallan killer, but it’s easy and well-composed, with lovely raisins, malt, energy bars, cakes and chocolate. Café latte as well, and indeed Benrinnes’ waxy/meaty side, but not quite at full volume. A gentle Benrinnes, much gentler than the official Flora & Fauna, for example. Mouth: mead and sweet wine (Banyuls), raisins, raisin rolls, cakes, some oranges… It’s all fine. Finish: medium, cake-y, malty, raisiny. Comments: some character, already, even if it’s no big malt whisky. Goes down very well.
SGP:541 - 82 points.

While we’re having some older French bottlings…

Benrinnes 1998/2012 (46%, L’Esprit, sherry butt, cask #6863)

Benrinnes 1998/2012 (46%, L’Esprit, sherry butt, cask #6863) Three stars and a half
This baby by Whisky & Rhum in Brittany. A very good house, they also have great rums, as their name suggests. Colour: gold. Nose: oh, we’re closer to the F&F, with a lot of meat, bouillons, sauces, soups, broths, and whatnot. All that is coated with some fudge and caramel, which rather works, mind you. Notes of amontillado, walnut wine, riewele supp (an Alsatian thing, don’t bother) and very old Sauternes. Caramel and botrytis. Mouth: a little more difficult, it’s hard to keep this kind of cohesiveness on the palate. A sour side, perhaps a touch of rubber (or some wee sulphur from the butt), otherwise bags of raisins and this matiness again. Some brandy too, why not brandy de Jerez? Finish: medium, meaty, slightly sulphury. Rapeseed oil and leather. Comments: some action in there!
SGP:652 - 84 points.

Benrinnes 18 yo 2000/2019 (57.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 546 bottles)

Benrinnes 18 yo 2000/2019 (57.5%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 546 bottles) Three stars
How they managed to pull only 546 bottles from four (4) barrels, I don’t know. No, wait, that’s possible… Colour: straw. Nose: ah, a quieter one. Sunflower oil, soft honey, Weetabix, croissants, potato cake, tutti frutti eau-de-vie… This baby may well need a few drops of water. So, with water: well, it got grassier, not really more… say emphatic. Mouth (neat): some slightly fizzy grapefruit juice, rhubarb, and a lighter albeit grassy olive oil. Very dry, almost bitter. With water: it’s okay, on grass juice, lemon, cucumbers… Finish: medium, grassy, lemony. Comments: good, W.M. Cadenhead, let’s drop that Aston-Martin, I’d be happy with a Mini Cooper or something similar, but I’d really need the dual-zone automatic climate control, thank you.
SGP:451 - 81 points.

Benrinnes 15 yo 1999/2014 (64.6%, Douglas Laing for La Maison du Whisky, sherry butt, cask #DL10102, 579 bottles)

Benrinnes 15 yo 1999/2014 (64.6%, Douglas Laing for La Maison du Whisky, sherry butt, cask #DL10102, 579 bottles) Three stars
Yeah yeah, 65% vol., attempted murder, this will be costly… Seriously, we expect some meaty extravaganza – and no whisky for vegans. Colour: full gold. Nose: ah, no. No Bovril, no Maggi, no lovage, no soy sauce, no beef stock, rather pencil shavings and vegetal varnish, plus cakes straight from the oven. It’s not that it would burn your nose, but I’m sure it’ll benefit from a few good drops of proper water. With water: a walk in the meadows and the woods after a good shower. Mushrooms, moss, leaves, chestnuts, old branches… Mouth (neat): meaty and earthy and mentholated oranges and cakes, perhaps, plus a lot of rubber. Chewing rubber bands dipped in Grand-Marnier… or something. Quick… With water: adios rubber, welcome deep-roasted nuts, burnt cakes, leather, and salty meat soups. And menthol! Finish: very long, meaty and grassy, a bit sour, and mentholated. Pine resin and salty chicken soup in the aftertaste. Comments: not an easy one, I would say they should have added ‘handle with care’ to the label. And ‘flammable liquid’.
SGP:372 - 82 points.

Benrinnes 18 yo 1997/2016 (52.2%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead)

Benrinnes 18 yo 1997/2016 (52.2%, Whisky-Fässle, hogshead) Four stars
Let’s see what the ducks have to say. I know, quack quack… (never, ever drink and taste, S.) Colour: white wine. Nose: right, a luminous, totally wax-driven Benrinnes, with croissants, sunflower oil, beeswax, fresh asparagus, and lemon peel. Smart and irrefutable, shall we say. With water: yep, wool, dough, grist, wax, oils… Mouth (neat): funny notes of good rum (I’m thinking Foursquare), then lamp petrol, grass juice, bitter almonds, and a little fresh ginger. And turmeric, perhaps, which will cure anything according to The Internet. With water: don’t add too much please. Otherwise, all fine, chalky, lemony, slightly salty… Finish: long, waxy, salty, lemony and grassy. Comments: millimetric, as we sometimes say. Won’t work after Brexit, I suppose.
SGP:462 - 87 points.

I agree it’s time to put an end to this madness, with an unusual vintage…

Benrinnes 12 yo 1988/2000 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Benrinnes 12 yo 1988/2000 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles) Four stars and a half
Aren’t we a little late here? Colour: light gold. Nose: it seems that like at several other distilleries (Springbank, Bowmore…), they improved the make around the years 1990s, because this was way mashier, more buttery, farmier, and simply yeastier. I wouldn’t say it is feinty, not at all, but it may lack the kind of high definition that we found in the 1990s. With water:  mud, wool, paraffin. Rings a bell… Mouth (neat): well, cancel all that gibberish, this is excellent. Perfect tart earthiness, lemons, roots, and waxes. A perfect whole, tense and tight, straight as a string. Pouilly-Fumé again (I think we mentioned that before within this Benrinnes series). With water: yeah, perfect waxy grapefruits, in the style of some good-vintage Clynelish. As if you would say ‘in the style of Rembrandt’. Finish: wonderful, totally chalky and lemony. Have I mentioned Pouilly-Fumé before?  Comments: W.M. Cadenhead, just drop the Mini Cooper, a pint of good lager will do. Or three.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Good, eighteen Benrinnes, that’s not too bad, is it?

(Und Danke schön, Cato and Tom)

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

 

May 16, 2019


Whiskyfun

A flood of Benrinnes, Act Two

And so, we’re back, looking for more oleogustus. I suppose that new word is here to stay…

Benrinnes 20 yo ‘Time II’ (50%, The Whisky Exchange, bourbon, 280 bottles, +/-2017)

Benrinnes 20 yo ‘Time II’ (50%, The Whisky Exchange, bourbon, 280 bottles, +/-2017) Four stars
This baby came with a nice Racine quote on the label, ‘There are no secrets that time does not reveal’. You know, Jean Racine was that funny guy who also wrote, ‘It is fatal to live too long.’ May apply to whisky too ;-). Colour: pale straw. Nose: it’s a slightly fruitier one, but we’re well on white and yellow fruits, apples, greengages… Beneath that, some fern and other wild herbs and plants, some paraffin, some graphite oil, and some burnt vanilla cake, most certainly from the bourbon cask. With water: chalk, wool, vase water, porridge. Some barley involved, I suppose. Mouth (neat): indeed, it’s rather a fruitier one, but there is some chalk, some plasticine, and quite a lot of white pepper. More green apples, green walnuts (nocino), lemons, more lemons, even more lemons… With water: swims very well. Lemon juice and some sharp sauvignon blanc, perhaps Pouilly-Fumé. Finish: medium, waxier again. Plasticine and paraffine, with a drop of lime juice. Comments: love oleogustus (de gustibus etc…)
SGP:461 - 87 points.

Benrinnes 24 yo 1992/2016 (52.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 112 bottles)

Benrinnes 24 yo 1992/2016 (52.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon, 112 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: the same make, really, with chalk, plasticine, apple peels, sunflower oil, and just a touch of muscovado sugar. No need of a lot of literature. With water: even more austere, grassy and chalky. Mouth (neat): potent, even a tad hot, very peppery and waxy, with something reminiscent of engine oil and perhaps rubber. Lemon skins. With water: chalk, pepper and lemon. A bitter herbalness. Finish: rather long, pretty bitter. Cinchona, liquorice wood, grass… Comments: not a very easy one this time, but it’s still very good stuff. Not for sweet teeth, having said that… 
SGP:372 - 83 points.

Benrinnes 14 yo 2004/2018 (55.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 864 bottles)

Benrinnes 14 yo 2004/2018 (55.4%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 864 bottles) Four stars
This one from three bourbon hogsheads. Let’s try to see whether it’s already the ‘new’ double-distilled juice or not. Colour: white wine. Nose: oh brilliant! Green pears and beeswax galore, then green gages and gooseberries, with touches of custard. A wonderful earthy barleyness behind that. Simple and efficient. With water: some distant peat. Mouth (neat): indeed, it tastes as if there was some ex-peater wood in the mix, not an unknown feeling at Cadenhead’s. Some sweet peat, as we sometimes say, lemons and apples, a little salt, some roots, some chalk yet again… We’re actually in peated HP territories here, more or less. With water: we’re almost in blended malt territories here. And that’s very good! Finish: long, peaty, brine-y, gently peppery, and lemony. Comments: not very Benrinnes, but certainly very good. They were not making peaters at Benrinnes in 2004, were they?
SGP:553 - 86 points.

Benrinnes 21 yo 1997/2019 (53.7%, Cadenhead, bourbon barrel, 162 bottles)

Benrinnes 21 yo 1997/2019 (53.7%, Cadenhead, bourbon barrel, 162 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: pale gold. Nose: and now for something very different yet again, some angelica and some wormwood to be found here, even woodruff, a bizarre Irishness (pot still), then wild herbs, autumn leaves, and rather shoe polish than plain wax. Gets then rather fermentary, on weizenbeer and other such liquid German delicacies. With water: exceptional fermentary development, on all things beers and ales. Mouth (neat): this is extremely good! Perfect peppery and lemony waxes, that is to say some textbook Benrinnesness this time. Olive and grape pips oils, lemon skin, grapefruits and citrons… This is pretty perfect. With water: indeed. Waxes and lemons, the perfect combination in my book. Finish: long, perfect, lemony, very straight. Comments: W/M. Cadenhead, I’ve been thinking about that Aston-Martin and have just changed my mind, the Mercedes engine would be okay. But may we get the manual gearbox? Thanks!
SGP:462 - 89 points.

Benrinnes 20 yo 1995/2018 (49.4%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, hogshead, cask #9063, 279 bottles)

Benrinnes 20 yo 1995/2018 (49.4%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, hogshead, cask #9063, 279 bottles) Five stars
Remember they round-up the ages with this series. 10, 15, 20, 25… Indeed, French coquetry. Colour: light gold. Nose: a perfectly polished one this time, all on beeswax, pollen, mead, hazelnut cream, with touches of camphor and eucalyptus, some fresh brioche, and the faintest hints of mocha. A splendid nose. Mouth: amazing, more mineral than most others, more citrusy as well, with a lot of lemon marmalade, curd, lime blossom tea, citrons, perhaps a little seaweed, and the expected candlewax and straight paraffin. This no beat can. Finish: long, totally perfect, with that greasy meatiness that was to be found in these vintages. Tallow and such things. Green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: a fabulous Benrinnes, with everything in place.
SGP:452 - 90 points.

Let’s try to find an earlier vintage just for the cause… Oh perhaps this older bottling?...

Benrinnes 23 yo 1980/2003 (53.9%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, cask #1352, 264 bottles)

Benrinnes 23 yo 1980/2003 (53.9%, Blackadder, Raw Cask, cask #1352, 264 bottles) Four stars
I don’t think I ever tried this baby… Colour: light gold. Nose: it is rather different, starting rather more medicinal than the others, that is to say rather on crushed aspirin tablets, embrocations, and even bandages. There’s quite some custard as well in the background, as well as notes of mown grass, fennel, celery, perhaps fresh lovage, and as always with Blackadder, whiffs of raw turnips. Of course I’m joking. With water: more aspirin, wet chalk… Mouth (neat): excellent, as waxy and oily as the others (as far as both texture and flavours are concerned), but rather earthier, with more plastics as well, and certainly a greasy meatiness. Some lemon too, which is welcome. With water: perhaps a little gentler, more on cereals… Some ideas of rye. Finish: medium, cereally. Grapefruit marmalade and rye bread. Comments: perhaps not as well-defined as more recent makes, but very good. Always nice to find some malt whisky that’s not wishy-washy (isn’t that the whole point here, S.?)
SGP:562 - 87 points.

Good, second part done, I would say. There may be a third Benrinnes session… or not, we shall see.

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

 

May 15, 2019


Whiskyfun

A flood of Benrinnes,
looking for greasy ones

We’ll see how many we’ll manage to try. Perhaps shall we cut this session in half, we’ll see. Remember Diageo’s Benrinnes Distillery started to do some kind of Byzantine two-and-a-half distillation from the mid-1970s on, producing some sort of rather-Mortlach-like meaty spirit, but it seems that they’ve simplified the proceedings again around the mid-2000s. Let’s do this randomly…

Benrinnes 15 yo (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna, +/-2018)

Benrinnes 15 yo (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna, +/-2018) Four stars
Right, not totally randomly. Last time I tried this expression that was around the year 2000 (WF 83). A worthy aperitif yet again, I hope. Colour: gold. Nose: there, no truce this time, the whistle blows and we’re in action. Tallow and marrow, parsley, bouillons, ham, onion soup, dry sherry, plus most certainly some umami as well as the 6th aroma, the aroma/taste of fat, which is called oleogustus, apparently (sounds a bit like dog Latin, no?) There’s also a thing called kokumi, but we still need to check that. Mouth: so, kokumi and oleogustus (joking only a bit) and a huge fatness indeed, rarely to be experienced with any whiskies. In short, more tallow and marrow, ground coffee, salt, miso, and Maggi. Spectacular, but perhaps a little unlikely at times. Finish: long, very meaty and salty. Chorizo and beef juice. Really. Comments: totally odd – and admirable - that they would have kept this very unusual fat malt within the range. Perhaps more a sauce than malt whisky, after all.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Benrinnes 23 yo 1995/2019 (49.6%, Signatory Vintage for The Single Malt Whisky Shop, Belgium, Italian Cars Series, hogshead, cask #9059, 222 bottles)

Benrinnes 23 yo 1995/2019 (49.6%, Signatory Vintage for The Single Malt Whisky Shop, Belgium, Italian Cars Series, hogshead, cask #9059, 222 bottles) Four stars and a half
Ah the Ferrari shark nose! I used to have one as a go-cart when I was… around 6. Oh, and hey, never, ever drink and drive! Colour: gold. Nose: paraffin, ‘good’ sulphur, plastics, ham, then apple peel, fresh walnuts (but not as in sherry), greengages, yellow peaches and candlewax. And 1960s Ferrari Grand Prix, I would wager. Mouth: indeed, this waxy fatness, with paraffin mingling with tallow candle, then many green and yellow fruits. Apples, gooseberries, greengages again, a touch of grapefruit (with matching wee fizziness) and some rather bold honey, with some pepper on top. Finish: long, still fat and waxy, with the same fruits. Comments: perhaps a vatting of Clynelish with Mortlach? It’s extremely good, full-bodied and yet approachable. Gotta love the Ferrari shark nose, with its small engine.
SGP:562 - 88 points.

Benrinnes 26 yo 1991/2018 (49.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #509, 165 bottles)

Benrinnes 26 yo 1991/2018 (49.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #509, 165 bottles) Five stars
We’ve had a wonderful 1995/2016 in this series (WF 90) and a 1991/2016 that’s been just as great (WF 90). Colour: straw. Nose: same kind of two-step unfolding, with first greases and candles, and then western orchard fruits, plums and apples and buddies. This combo works extremely well, I have to say. We’ll have to ask the distillers why they went back to classic double-distillation. Love this nose, love the fresh hazelnuts, walnuts and pine nuts. Mouth: right, 90% yet again. Green tea, apples, lemons, rapeseed oil, chalk, melon skin, paraffin and plasticine, green peppercorns, white pepper… It’s perfect, rather austere malt whisky. Finish: rather long, lemony, waxy, chalky. Classic style, a shame that the general public does not seem to know about Benrinnes. Comments: as I said (please rack your brain, S.!)
SGP:552 - 90 points.

Benrinnes 20 yo 1997/2018 (54.9%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, sherry hogshead, cask #9731, 212 bottles)

Benrinnes 20 yo 1997/2018 (54.9%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, sherry hogshead, cask #9731, 212 bottles) Five stars
I may have written before that I think that this recent series by SigV is nothing short of spectacular. But Benrinnes plus heavy sherry (according to the colour) may be a little ‘too much’, let us see… Colour: mahogany. Nose: indeed, beef stock, Bovril, marrow, dried porcinis and morels, truffles as well, fresh Cuban cigars, rosewood (old Jaguar), this grease yet again, engine oil, leather… You see. With water: barbecue, dill, smoked sausages, charcoal, sourdough, oloroso, moist black bread, glazed chestnuts, olive oil… Wonderful dry and oily nose. Mouth (neat): it is a spicy sherry monster, ridden with tobacco, caraway, bay leaves, earth, chicken soup, cloves and leather. Very concentrated, shall we say. With water: perfect dry sherry, earthy and ridden with tobacco, and rather coffee and chocolate this time. Very thick mouthfeel. Finish: same for a long time, with the expected spicier and saltier aftertaste (cloves). Comments: you cannot not think of the sherriedmost Mortlachs. Or perhaps some Pittyvaichs? This one means business. High score yet again.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

Benrinnes 14 yo 2004/2018 (56.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles)

Benrinnes 14 yo 2004/2018 (56.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 294 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: raw, totally distillate-driven, extremely waxy and greasy, tallowy (do you say that?) and full of raw wool, cereals and breads. Not one ounce of fruits this far. Or perhaps unripe jujube? With water: a very grassy and greasy malt indeed. Old clothes, wool, lamp oil, a little fusel, mashed potatoes… Mouth (neat): ah! It’s massive whisky, it’s eminently idiosyncratic (yeah right), green and oily, full of olive, sunflower and grape pips oils, plus some very green apples and a quarter of lemon. Some margarine, perhaps. You could see how such a fat malt would lift and thicken any blended Scotch. With water: lovely yet fully unsexy. Grass, bitter herbs, spicy olive oil, more margarine, cumin… Finish: long, tight, very waxy and green. Dough, no fruits. Comments: a raw baby for punch-ups and Sunday mornings. Totally lovable, but not very easy. You could easily miss its charms.
SGP:262 - 88 points.

We’re doing good so far, aren’t we, but you can’t have too many of these in a row, so perhaps a last one and see you tomorrow!

Benrinnes 18 yo 2000/2018 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 150 bottles)

Benrinnes 18 yo 2000/2018 (58.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon barrel, 150 bottles) Four stars and a half
A barrel, perhaps more rounded easiness in this case… Colour: straw. Nose: no, no easiness here, rather more oils, sunflower oil, crushed pine nuts, argan oil, old jacket, green apples, the rawest cider they ever made in western Brittany, old books and newspapers, those jujubes yet again (jujubes, are you sure, S.?), and then indeed, a fruitier phase, with lemons and green pears. With water: mud, crude chocolate, overripe apples, porridge and orange wine (not wine made out of oranges, mind you). Mouth (neat): wha-a-at? This is fantastic, if a little simple. Green apples, lemons, limes and grapefruits, blended with some greener oil, but not quite olives. Argan, perhaps? With water: a wee tad fruitier. Gueuze with some sunflower oil – but do those blend well? Finish: ah, olive oil with a salty touch. Comments: W.M. Cadenhead, I just wanted to say, about that new Aston-Martin, please not the one with the Mercedes engine, thank you. No, I’ll play nice, not necessarily the DBS Superleggera in Cosmos Orange with Gloss Black Tinted Carbon finishes.
SGP:462 - 89 points.

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


May 2019 - part 1 <--- May 2019 - part 2 ---> Current entries


 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Benrinnes 20 yo 1997/2018 (54.9%, Signatory Vintage, 30th Anniversary, sherry hogshead, cask #9731, 212 bottles)

Benrinnes 20 yo 1995/2018 (49.4%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist, hogshead, cask #9063, 279 bottles)

Benrinnes 26 yo 1991/2018 (49.2%, The Single Malts of Scotland, cask #509, 165 bottles)

Clynelish 27 yo 1974/2001 (56.3%, Adelphi, cask #2565, 213 bottles)

Clynelish 26 yo 1992/2019 (50.1%, Hidden Spirits, cask #CY9219, 193 bottles)

Clynelish 21 yo 1995/2017 (55.7%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butt, casks #11228, 625 bottles)

Clynelish 22 yo 1995/2018 (56.3%, Signatory Vintage, refill butt, casks #8673, 609 bottles)

Irish Single Malt 28 yo 1990/2019 (47.3%, The Whisky Agency, Private Stock, barrel)

Irish Malt 29 yo 1989/2018 (48.8%, Maltbarn, bourbon)

Irish Malt 29 yo 1989/2019 (56.5%, Liquid Treasures, 10th Anniversary, ex-rum barrel, 127 bottles)

Kavalan 2012/2018 ‘Vinho Barrique’ (53.2%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, Taiwan, cask # W120614028, 180 bottles)

Kavalan 2012/2017 ‘Vinho Barrique’ (57.8%, OB, Taiwan, Solist, cask # W12122530A)

Smögen 8 yo 2011/2019 (57.8%, OB, Sweden, first fill Sauternes barriques, casks # 4 8-10/2011, 1628 bottles)

Diamond 9 yo (55.9%, That Boutique-y Rum Company, Guyana, batch 1, 461 bottles, +/-2018)

Vallein Tercinier 33 yo ‘Lot 86’ (49%, Maltbarn, Fins Bois, 160 bottles, 2019)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
@