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

       

October 2021 - part 2 <--- November 2021 - part 1 ---> November 2021 - part 2

 

November 14, 2021


Whiskyfun

Another Malternative Sunday with brandies

There's more coming our way these days, I'm wondering if we'll manage to keep restricting these to Sundays (while we've also got a lot of new rums, also jenevers, calvados, mezcals, eaux-de-vie, gins – not gins, I'm joking…) It's really good fun, but the pressure is on us… Let's see what we have today… Including this 'apéritif just for fun'…

Lustau 'Solera Reserva' (40%, OB, brandy de Jerez, +/-2019)

Lustau 'Solera Reserva' (40%, OB, brandy de Jerez, +/-2019) Two stars
A shame that most houses in Jerez make their brandies this sweet and sometimes even excessively cloying. Even the best houses do that, such as… well, Lustau. Colour: brownish gold. Moves like oil in your glass. Nose: you would believe you're nosing either cream sherry, or just PX. Pretty caramelly and molassy too, which is not totally unpleasant, on the contrary, but watch the palate… Mouth: bordering liqueurness, to the point where all you would need is a big ice cube. Shock-full of raisins and molasses, muscovado sugar, and now perhaps moscatel rather than PX. Thick and, indeed, a little cloying, as if they had added quite some sweet mosto. Finish: rather long because of all this sweetness. Like a liqueur. Comments: I liked Lustau's 'Gran Reserva' rather better (WF 79). And of course, their wonderful sherries, the En Ramas etc. Great, great house.

SGP:820 - 75 points.

Maison Fontan 1998/2021 (54.6%, LMDW, Version Française, Armagnac, cask #128, 371 bottles)

Maison Fontan 1998/2021 (54.6%, LMDW, Version Française, Armagnac, cask #128, 371 bottles) Four stars
LMDW have always been pioneers, this time they're putting extra-efforts into Armagnac, with a nice flock of new 'indie' bottlings such as this Fontan. I've tried a few Fontans in the past but they've always been older bottlings at 40% vol. Old-world Armagnacs, this should be different… Colour: golden amber. Nose: rather amazingly, we're more in North-America than in Armagnac at first sniffs, I would have said modern American single malt, in the region of High West or Westland. And that, mind you, is a compliment. Lovely cakes, kougelhopfs, raisin rolls, then pancake sauce, then more roasted and baked raisins, which would, in turn, lead us to… Armagnac. We've come full circle. Now I'm sure this will change once we've added water… With water: glue, varnish, almonds, sawn Formica, Bakelite, even acetone… We're in Kentucky this time! The expected armagnacness is only kicking in after a good two minutes, with figs and prunes. And more raisins with a little mint and camphor. Mouth (neat): the wood's been very active as this starts much more mentholy, even terpenic and resinous (pine), with a full cup of honeydew in your glass, crème de menthe, then some thickish molasses somewhat in the style of… Lustau's brandy, mind you. Rather a lot of liquorice. With water: ah, armagnac. Half joking. Chocolate, Jaffa cakes, black tea, raisins, peach skins… Finish: long, with touches of camphor. Coffee and tobacco in the aftertaste. Comments: a restless baby that truly makes you travel. Armagnac's proverbial rusticity is fully there.

SGP:561 - 86 points.

Tessendier 'Lot 97' (48%, LMDW, Through The Grapevine, Cognac Grande Champagne, 2019)

Tessendier 'Lot 97' (48%, LMDW, Through The Grapevine, Cognac Grande Champagne, 2019) Four stars and a half
I think this 1997 was bottled in 2019, I'm not dead sure about that. I think it's the first time I'm drinking Tessendier… Colour: full gold. Nose: it's great to have such an aromatic, fresh and fruity cognac after the darker, heavier armagnac. Wonderful sultanas, peach liqueur, drops of raki, dried longans, touches of Pinot Gris, certainly hi-level Sauternes (a Barsac, really)… This nose just makes you want to dive into it. Mouth: full-flown peaches and apples, pomegranates, rose petal jelly, quince, lime honey, starkrimsons, well I'm keeping this short as it is already an old bottle. Things are getting even faster these days my friend. Finish: medium, fresh, more honeyed. Comments: impeccable, irresistible, very aromatic fresh and fruity cognac. But careful, it drinks very well.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Château de Laubade 1990/2020 (50.5%, OB, Bas-armagnac, brut de fût)

Château de Laubade 1990/2020 (50.5%, OB, Bas-armagnac, brut de fût) Four stars and a half
A blend of three varietals by one of the most important and well-reputed houses in Armagnac that's located in Sorbets, not too far from Nogaro (which will ring a bell to any proper car enthusiast). No folle blanche this time but baco, ugni blanc and colombard. Colour: full gold. Nose: sure it's cask strength but this is a subtler armagnac, rather more on roasted nuts (pecans, hazelnuts), with a little 'good' varnish (always an asset in this context) and then ripe bananas and pears. Some wee metallic tones (old copper) and a few herbs and flowers as well (mullein, woodruff, perhaps sweet pea), plus chestnut honey and purée. I mean puréed chestnuts. With water: gets drier, more on tobacco, raw chocolate, split peas this time, even a little chicory… Mouth (neat): once again, not quite a rustic armagnac and I would say you would be forgiven for thinking this is rather a Borderies from Cognac. Peaches stewed in honey and maple syrup, with some black nougat, roasted peanuts, a little corn syrup perhaps… With water: it swims well. Praline, ganache, more roasted nuts (of various kinds), a little mocha… Once again water made it drier, in a very nice way. Finish: medium, really on praline and nougat. Perhaps heather honey just mead in the aftertaste. Comments: an excellent Laubade. One of the houses that seem to be going towards more cask strength (bruts de fût), which is just great. We'll have many more Laubade soon, stay tuned.

SGP:551 - 88 points.

Brilliant contrasts between the Tessendier and the Laubade and same overall (high) quality. Let's move on…

Bertrand 'Les Pâtissiers MA50' (54.8%, Malternatives Belgium, cognac, Petite Champagne, 228 bottles, 2021)

Bertrand 'Les Pâtissiers MA50' (54.8%, Malternatives Belgium, cognac, Petite Champagne, 228 bottles, 2021) Four stars and a half
Mind you, MA50 doesn't mean 'where's my Malaguti?' (oh forget about that, that's very personal), it rather means 'Minimum Age 50 years'. So, probably circa The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Colour: deep amber. Nose: cognacs, unless one of the 'bois', is a little lighter and more aromatic indeed, this is just another example. I find it a little more oriental than others by the way, with more figs, more orange blossom water, even a little more rosewater. Wonderful notes of dates filled with marzipan, which is a killer desert by the way, even if a little out of fashion, sadly. Hay. With water: wonderful piney oils, ointments… The old oak speaking out. Mouth (neat): knack and punch this time, with several kinds of eaux-de-vie, not only fine. Mirabelle and damson seem to be obvious, also some earthier prunes. Crikey, I would have said armagnac this time; some progress still to be made at Château WF, it seems… With water: absolutely lovely, swims well, drinks well, what does the people want? Finish: medium, rather more on assorted dried fruits and high-protein energy bars. You know, peanuts, almonds and stuff. Comments: same ballpark once again, some brilliant cognac with some easiness and no flaws whatsoever, very close to that 'wow factor' we need to get to 90+. Yeah I know, as we used to say in the 1970s, the system is the problem.

SGP:651 - 89 points.

Back to armagnac…

Domaine de Baraillon 1987/2021 (42%, Swell de Spirits, Bas-armagnac)

Domaine de Baraillon 1987/2021 (42%, Swell de Spirits, Bas-armagnac) Four stars and a half
What could go wrong here? Colour: coffee. Nose: essentially armagnac. Black raisins, cigars, pinewood, dates, prunes, sauna oils, furniture polish, crankcase oil, roasted sesame, old books… And one peanut. Joking. Mouth: a wee bit on the woody side but that would lead us to old Bordeaux, old Pauillac (no names), pine resin, thyme tea and honey… There is some grittiness, and, as we Alsatians sometimes say, 'a feeling of hoppla'. Seriously, I wouldn't have kept this one in wood for much longer. There's rather a lot of moist, thick, Cavendish-like pipe tobacco too. Or that thing we used to buy as flakes, sobranie or something, which would just never burn properly. Indeed, we're talking pipe tobacco. Finish: long and curiously molassy. Some tarry pine and liquorice in the aftertaste. Actually, really a lot of liquorice. Comments: around the high borders once more.

SGP:671 - 88 points.

Let's ask Grosperrin if you agree…

Petite Champagne 1973 (50.6%, Jean Grosperrin, L803, +/-2021)

Petite Champagne 1973 (50.6%, Jean Grosperrin, L803, +/-2021) Five stars
It appears that this one was the property of a family of solicitors and that it had been stored in a 'very wet' warehouse. Which, in my opinion, makes the fact that it remained above 50% vol. pretty miraculous, no? Colour: full gold. Nose: a self-restrained cognac, rather on sweet vegetables than on fruits. Sweet carrots, pumpkins, beets, then flowers, honeysuckle, a little jasmine perhaps, some mashed turnips as well (with some cream)… With water: muscovado sugar, old Demerara rum, a few savoury touches, glutamate, liquorice too… Mouth (neat): wonderful soft oak over a moderately expressive distillate. But that worked wonderfully, with a superb combination of Christmas spices (star anise and caraway and stuff) with those sweet vegetables and roots once more. Beets and cinnamon, anyone? In truth this is fantastic, unusual, extremely elegant. Plus, in 1973 Frank Zappa recorded his legendary Roxy Performances! With water: game, set and match. Gains power and traction, as if it had woken up, getting even a tad, wait… armagnacqy? Ooh my head… Finish: another 'movie-cognac', as opposed to the large brands' 'picture-cognacs'. Oh drop that, S. Comments: we've reached perfection this time, even if this is rather imperfect. Well I know what I'm trying to say. Superb non-immediate, almost low-key complexity (??? -Ed).

SGP:451 - 91 points.

A last one for the road…

Maison Prunier 'Lot 51' (58%, The Purist Belgium, Grande Champagne, 42 bottles, 2021)

Maison Prunier 'Lot 51' (58%, The Purist Belgium, Grande Champagne, 42 bottles, 2021) Five stars
Everything here would suggest this was a demi-john (well done, Watson) or a reassembled set of bottles. Remember Maison Prunier is a poshy restaurant that, just like say the Tour d'Argent, was always having an insane cellar full of tens and tens (yep) of thousands of wines and spirits. Colour: red amber. Nose: this time it's cedarwood leading the pack, then peonies and wild strawberries, Pomerol, upholstery, cellulosic varnish, then blood oranges and mild cigars (St Domingue), potpourri… What a whirlwind! There's even something slightly malty, reminiscent of old Macallan. Remember old Macallan? With water: old woods, oils and cigars. More cedar. Mouth (neat): indeed more cedarwood, quince jelly, strawberry jam, Pomerol again (merlot, at least), then cinnamon. It would tend to become a tad drying, which is almost always the case when heavyish cinnamon starts to chime in. Indeed chicken and egg. With water: the fruits having the upper hand again. Quinces, figs… Finish: medium, a tad drying, with some mint and cinnamon. Right, cinnamon mints. Comments: I'd love to know when this one 'left wood'. I was about to go for 89 points when I remembered that 1951 was the year when Shorty Rogers issued his Modern Sounds LP. Tremendous jazz. Alternatively and as far as big bands were concerned, 1951 was also the year of Stan Kenton's City of Glass. Fabulous LP too.

SGP:561 - 90 points.
 

November 13, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Highland Park Megasesh Part I
As happens, every so often, a veritable longboat of Highland Park has accumulated here at WF Scotland office. Indeed, there's no shortage of these anonymous 'Orkney Malts' kicking about these days. I've written before about how this deletion of names by brands seems a shame and not too smart, so we'll not rehash that. But it's worth re-iterating that it does indeed seem sad and silly not to be able to call these whiskies 'Highland Park' - primarily because they tend to be excellent.

 

In fact, an alien from the Planet Oxter could be forgiven for arriving on Earth and believing Edrington were going to great lengths to conceal the fact that they are making stunning distillate up there on Orkney. Which they unequivocally do, by the way. As we'll discover in part one of this extremely long session, when they're presented from relatively humble wood, they can really sing. Despite the fact I will probably not sip another Highland Park for at least - oh, maybe as much as two days - I would say it remains one of my absolute favourite distilleries.

 

 

Highland Park 15 yo 'Viking Heart' (44%, OB, 2021)

Highland Park 15 yo 'Viking Heart' (44%, OB, 2021)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: one of the few official HPs that actually gravitates more towards many of these 'Orkney' malts that are ubiquitous amongst today's indy bottlers. Which is no bad thing! Lots of fresh cereals drizzled with heather honey, pebbles, pollens, sultanas, old school shilling ales (a kind of dark, foamy and creamy bitter beer common in Scotland but more popular in previous decades) and also things like leather and mineral oils. There's also a strong impression of citrus rinds and coastal freshness running underneath that keeps everything lively and buoyant. Mouth: the wood feels a tad more assertive up front, but there's some nice notes of bitter marmalade, blood orange, grapefruit pith, treacle and kumquat. Juicy, quite fruity and with a nicely balanced texture and weight in the mouth - the ABV feels quite smartly chosen in this regard. Finish: medium, nicely bitter, green herbs, dried flowers, leather, mineral oil and a wee kiss of heathery peat. Comments: quite a charming and pretty smart new bottling I think. A very well balanced strength, lots of distillery character and extremely sippable. Primed and ready for your tumbler I would say. Also, are ceramics back? Is that a thing once more?
SGP: 563 - 86 points.

 

 

Highland Park 12 yo (43%, OB, Torino Import, -/+ 1990)

Highland Park 12 yo (43%, OB, Torino Import, -/+ 1990)
Colour: orangey gold. Nose: dusty waxes, pollens, soft herbal peat, young Armagnac, sultanas and a general feeling of rather lusciously fruity old style sherry. You might also add a few drops of aged herbal liqueurs, cough medicines and umami paste. Impeccable old school Highland Park. Mouth: resinous, fruity and perfectly salty old school sherry alongside herbal Orkney peat, salted honey, fir wood, herbal liqueurs and cocktail bitters. Some acacia, wormwood and liquorice root too. Just perfect! Finish: good length, on liquorice, heathery peat, fruity and rather nervous sherry, minerals, leather and medical ointments. Comments: benchmark old school HP. A library in a glass!
SGP: 653 - 91 points.

 

 

Highland Park 12 yo (43%, OB, Ferarreto import, 1980)

Highland Park 12 yo (43%, OB, Ferarreto import, 1980)
This one comes from a rather outlandish presentation case with two branded tumblers and a certificate stating it was bottled in celebration of the newly re-branded official 12 year old, dated 1980. I've tried a similar one before that may have been the same batch (WF90) Colour: amber. Nose: a bit of OBE at first, this feeling of metal polish and bouillon soup. Beneath than though there's this pretty typical mix of old school, rather leafy and resiny sherry. Fir wood, ointments, cough medicines and natural tar. Although, globally it's not as expressive or fruity as the Torino. Mouth: good arrival, rather spicy and on exotic hardwood resins, camphor, tea tree oil and spiced figs. A gentle peat with more wood resins, ointments, olive oil and cedar wood cigar boxes. It's excellent but there's still a bit of OBE persisting. Finish: good length, very focused on herbal liqueurs and syrupy mentholated ointments now, cough mixtures, liquorice, wormwood, verbena and tobacco. Comments: top notch, and truth be told I wouldn't be surprised if it was the same batch as the last bottle I opened back on Orkney in 2017. This one probably just didn't travel quite as well, these wee OBE touches prevent it from reaching 90 I'd say.
SGP: 454 - 88 points.

 

 

Orkney Single Malt 10 yo 2011/2021 (54%, Thompson Brothers, refill hogshead, 387 bottles)

Orkney Single Malt 10 yo 2011/2021 (54%, Thompson Brothers, refill hogshead, 387 bottles)
Colour: pale white wine. Nose: sharp, pure and rather citric. Pebbles, chalk, crystalline and brittle peat smoke, some white pepper and sheep wool. Bish, bash, bosh. With water: becomes perfectly coastal, more of these subtle white flower and pollen notes, more beach wood, seashells and touches of ink. Mouth: pretty impeccable distillate in plain wood. Coal smoke, dried herbs, pebbles, sandalwood, chalk, white flowers and mineral oils. With water: becomes a little more emphatic and oily in texture. A lovely impression of smoked olive oil, touches of camphor, cod liver oil, miso and umami paste. Finish: long, peppery, very subtle threads of peat smoke, more dried herbs and more punchy umami and miso vibes. Comments: you can tell this cask was selected by Ramen enthusiasts. No messing about here, top notch young modern HP.
SGP: 463 - 88 points.

 

 

Orkney Single Malt 13 yo 2008/2021 (53.2%, Thompson Brothers, refill hogshead, 356 bottles)

Orkney Single Malt 13 yo 2008/2021 (53.2%, Thompson Brothers, refill hogshead, 356 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: richer in style and a little more dominated but herbal-accented smoke, coal embers, hessian, sandalwood, gorse flowers and wee touches of olive oil and putty. With water: mineral oils, beach sand, pink sea salt, dried herbs and gauze. Mouth: herbal cough syrup, smoked olive oil and light smoked teas, pasta water, umami paste, seawater, lemon peel, verbena. Lots of subtle coastal and medicinal things going on. Excellent as usual with these batches. With water: great texture, nicely medical, some camphor, bandages, seawater and herbs. Finish: long, faintly smoky, sooty, herbal and very fresh. Comments: these batches from humble hoggies or barrels are all top notch. The only issue is that, because they've been vatted previously and re-casked by Edrington, they are still very similar to each other, so spotting differences can be a bit like panning for gold - or playing Where's Wally.
SGP: 463 - 88 points.

 

 

Secret Orkney 13 yo 2008/2021 (54.6%, Dram Mor, cask #137, Fijian rum finish, 321 bottles)

Secret Orkney 13 yo 2008/2021 (54.6%, Dram Mor, cask #137, Fijian rum finish, 321 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: I don't detect too much rum initially, rather more wet rocks, rope, hessian, crushed seashells, ink and clay. Lots of cloths and minerals essentially, which feels bright and pretty appealing. With water: some sort of hot vinyl and acrylic. Poster paints, printer toner and some olive bread. Quite funny really. Mouth: rather earthy and vegetal on arrival, some more petrolic aspects, cough medicines, aniseed, lambic ales, plasticine. Not sure I could tell you what the rum is actually doing, but it's doing something that's for sure! (I'm really trying for 'most unhelpful tasting note of the year') Perhaps there's more of an agave / cactus flesh vibe here. With water: a little lighter, grassier, more playful, some white flowers, pebbles and more classical 'Orkney Malt' stuff. More cereals but also still some rather mechanical and oily touches. Finish: medium, on aniseed, seawater, clay, ointments and mineral salts. Comments: It's a bit all over the place and I'm not too sure about some of these more whacky plasticine notes, but it remains quite fun and whatever else this rum brings to the table, it at least doesn't totally dominate the conversation.
SGP: 462 - 83 points. 

 

 

Highland Park 14 yo 2007 (54.3%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #800453, bourbon barrel, 214 bottles)

Highland Park 14 yo 2007 (54.3%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #800453, bourbon barrel, 214 bottles)
Colour: straw. Nose: a very fresh nose full of sweet coconut, cream soda, barley water, trampled ferns and, with some time, also some firmer underlying notes of hessian and olive oil. There's also still a feeling of coastal qualities about it, despite the evidently quite active cask. I'm a fan! With water: things like muesli, mustard powder, dried flowers, pebbles and bandages. Mouth: creamy, lightly grassy, some brittle smokiness, wet canvass, lemon barley water, hessian, cloves and ginger. Walks a very fine tight rope between cask and distillate character - but in the end it remains quite clearly some excellent modern Highland Park. With water: at its best now I would say, perfectly balanced between natural sweetness, barley sugars, hessian, coal smoke and mineral oil. Finish: good length, faintly peaty, peppery, sunflower oil, sandalwood and gorse. Comments: yet more very excellent modern Highland Park, the cask has a clear voice here but it has nothing but pleasant things to say and adds a refreshing twist to this very familiar profile. Recommended!
SGP: 662 - 88 points.

 

 

An Orkney 14 yo 2007/2021 (58.8%, Lady Of The Glen, refill hogshead and oloroso sherry finish, 348 bottles)

An Orkney 14 yo 2007/2021 (58.8%, Lady Of The Glen, refill hogshead and oloroso sherry finish, 348 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: golden syrup, sultanas, gingerbread, honey cake and olive oil. Fresh, sweet and very approachable. An elegant leafy and earth side that emerges with time, along with wee whiffs of eucalyptus oil and things like camphor and myrtle. With water: lemon verbena, dried herbs, nori and soy sauce. Becomes quite saline in that respect and nicely umami. Mouth: the sherry influence is quite forwards and gives the impression of salted mead, liquorice, olive oil cake, heather flowers and bitter shilling ales. The robustness of the HP is a good match for it I'd say. With water: similarly punchy salinity, leafy notes, tobacco, hessian, cocoa and a touch of wood spice. Finish: good length, still quite salty, umami, herbal and with star anise and some herbal bitters. Comments: a very good and no doubt very smart finish, I just prefer the LOTG bourbon barrel HP above this one.
SGP: 562 - 86 points.

 

 

Secret Orkney 13 yo 2007/2020 (56.1%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams, sherry)

Secret Orkney 13 yo 2007/2020 (56.1%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams, sherry)
Colour: ruby/mahogany. Nose: punchy modern sherry with a lot of hardwood shavings, black coffee, pecans, salted liquorice and things like black olive tapenade and Bovril. The wood is pretty active but it's quite singular, clean and direct. I just couldn't recognise a distillery behind it is all I'd say. With water: aniseed, pine resins, cough syrup, cherry throat lozenges and rosewood. Mouth: more of these big and immediate impressions of hardwood resins, thuja wood, exotic spiced teas, jasmine and graphite oil. The wood really starts to become a little too punchy for me I have to say. With water: some juicer dark fruit qualities such as various compotes and fruit loaf, but also some pretty bitter dark chocolate and espresso notes too. Bullish tannins and black pepper giving a sense of heat. Some 1950s Fernet Branca too. Finish: long, tannic, herbal, bitter chocolate, wood spices and touches of leather. Comments: the cask was a little too brutal and monolithic for me, but I have no doubt lovers of this modern and very spicy sherry style will lap this up.
SGP: 472 - 85 points.

 

 

Highland Park 12 1/2 yo 'The 26 Drammers' (57.1%, OB 'Viking Soul Cask', cask #500118, sherry firkin, 54 bottles, 2019)

Highland Park 12 1/2 yo 'The 26 Drammers' (57.1%, OB 'Viking Soul Cask', cask #500118, sherry firkin, 54 bottles, 2019)
Who are these 26 Drammers? Presumably they each get 2 bottles and then participate in some kind of drinking battle royale to decide who gets the two that are leftover out of 54? Colour: light amber. Nose: slightly different to some other casks in this series, I find it leaner, more earthy, more mineral and with more tertiary notes going on. Tobacco leaf, game meats, tea tree oil, wood resins and tiger balm. Very good! In time it becomes a tad more mentholated and aromatic. With water: more wood resins, green tea, verbena, eucalyptus and these persistent, slightly jagged mineral touches. Mouth: rather creamy on arrival, furniture polish, salted caramel, wood resins, more medicinal balms, herbal teas, soot, camphor and treacle. Active wood but clean and well-integrated I'd say. With water: cough medicines, wormwood, lanolin, tobacco leaf, salted liquorice and a wee touch of creamy vanilla. Finish: long, nicely resinous, slightly salty, some game meats and plenty balanced bitter herbs. Comments: I suppose, if you are going to do a micro-exclusive official bottling such as this for fans of your whisky, it had better be good juice! I cannot lie, I rather enjoy these resinous and creamy profiles created by these wee firkins. Do they mature new make in the refills? They should!
SGP: 563 - 88 points.

 

 

Highland Park 14 yo 'HPAS Danmark Edition 2' (55.8%, OB 'Viking Soul Cask', cask #500176, sherry firkin, 54 bottles)

Highland Park 14 yo 'HPAS Danmark Edition 2' (55.8%, OB 'Viking Soul Cask', cask #500176, sherry firkin, 54 bottles, 2020)
Colour: rosewood. Nose: precious hardwood resins, teak oil, furniture polish and freshly sawn rosewood. Inhaling the inside of a freshly constructed acoustic guitar. There's some fruits as well such as classic raisins and sultanas, also dark chocolate sauce and some rather fruity black coffee. It escapes the trappings of being overly woody - so far, anyway - by being rather scented and aromatic with all these resinous and polish notes. With water: fruit loaf, madeira cake, sticky gingerbread, cloves, incense. Feels rather highly concentrated even with water. Mouth: active but clean wood with a lot of spices, nutmeg, ginger, salted liquorice, espresso and umami paste. Incorporates more notes of furniture and boot polish, more wood resins and some kind of sticky spiced jam. With water: opens up a little more here, some strawberry wine, Belgian fruit beers, aniseed, herbal cough medicines and a more general feeling of 'Highland Parkness'. Finish: long, highly resinous, spiced fruit compote, damsons stewed in armagnac, bitter espresso and wood spices. Comments: let's not kid ourselves, this is a pretty wood dominated dram, and I tend to prefer the 'lighter touch' style of the 26 Drammers. But glimmers of HP do absolutely remain, and I would say this sort of wood treatment is starting to feel very much like an 'Edrington house style' anyway. I have to say, I rather enjoy it, even though it's not normally my preferred style. Now, let's also not forget that there were a mere 54 bottles of this juice, so it's all pretty anecdotal anyway.
SGP: 572 - 87 points.

 

 

Highland Park 14 yo '26 Drammers #2' (55.9%, OB 'Viking Soul Cask', cask #500171, sherry firkin, 56 bottles)

Highland Park 14 yo '26 Drammers #2' (55.9%, OB 'Viking Soul Cask', cask #500171, sherry firkin, 56 bottles, 2020)
Let's keep this brief… Colour: mahogany (why not?) Nose: ok, actually it's not an identikit sibling. This one's a little tighter, leaner, more narrow and more mineral. Some notes of boot polish, animal furs, marrow, coffee and more of these spiced dark fruits. Feels ever so slightly fresher and less on overtly active wood than the HPAS bottling. With water: more aligned now, lots of wood spices, resins, strong black teas, salted liquorice and star anise. Mouth: punchy, directly on black coffee, liquorice and star anise. Weighty, spicy and clean. With water: a notch fruitier, hot cross buns with cinnamon and singed raisins and sultanas. Hessian cloth and roof pitch. Finish: long, slightly tarry, bitterly herbal, dark chocolate and these ever-present wood spices. Comments: I couldn't tell you which of these 14yo versions I preferred, so I think we'll just be boringly diplomatic. Although, once again, I think the slightly less active firkins are more my speed.
SGP: 572 - 87 points.

 

 

Highland Park 14 yo 'Mjolner' (56.5%, OB, b2019, 1731 bottles)

Highland Park 14 yo 'Mjolner' (56.5%, OB, b2019, 1731 bottles, 2019)
A special bottling exclusively available through the Mjolner bars belonging to Australian company The Speakeasy Group. No doubt celebrating those notorious Viking raids of the Sydney harbour in the mid 800s. In fact Serge, I believe they used French submarines, if I'm not mistaken… Colour: amber. Nose: well, hello! A rather sticky and orangey sherry at first, gloopy bitter marmalade with coriander seed, marzipan, orgeat syrup, almond oil, fir wood, natural tar and treacle sponge pudding. Wonderfully dense, sticky and with a distinct feeling of 'guilty pleasure'. With water: orange oils, bergamot, lapsing souchong, hessian, cocoa and more dark grains. Mouth: the sherry is up front once again, lots of strong dark tea, spicy dark grained breads, stout beers, bitter chocolate, herbal cocktail bitters, aniseed, cough medicine and wintergreen. Probably a few notches too tannic for me, which I find very often with modern cask strength sherried HPs. Goes on with more chocolate, leather and tobacco - very classical in that regard. With water: still rather punchy and focussed on bitter marmalade, herbal extracts, pumpernickel, dark chocolate with sea salt, umami paste and hessian. Finish: long, quite bitter, big notes of strong black tea, raisins, tobacco leaf, more marzipan and liquorice. Comments: a beast that never quite yields. There's plenty fun to be had here, and the sherry is clean, it's just a tad too tannic for me.
SGP: 473 - 86 points.

 

 

A Fine Christmas Malt 16 yo (53.2%, The Whisky Exchange, 2200 bottles)

A Fine Christmas Malt 16 yo (53.2%, The Whisky Exchange, 2200 bottles)
A combination of a sherry butt and some hogsheads of Highland Park apparently. Although, I wonder why the label says 'Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky' as opposed to 'Island'? Colour: pale gold. Nose: there's a definite sherry component here with these initial notes of leather, fruit cake and golden syrup. I also find some more heathery and beery vibes which feels quite Orcadian. A little eucalyptus and tobacco as well. With water: boot polish, leather, hessian, chocolate and some very slight menthol touches. Very good. Mouth: feels peatier than expected on arrival, a lovely combination of more old school earthy and meaty sherry with lighter herbal HP peat smoke. More leather, dried mint, heather ales, wee honeyed touches and some treacle. I suppose it does feel somewhat Christmassy. With water: at its best now I would say, nicely earthy, umami, sooty and perfectly bitter with menthol tobacco, dried herbs and some verbena. Finish: good length, sooty, slightly minty, herbal teas, hessian, cocoa and a slight mineral aspect. Comments: some clever cask mixing has occurred here, feels like the balance of sherry and HP peat has been struck nicely.

SGP: 563 - 87 points.

 

 

Part II should be shorter, but only slightly. Next time we'll dig into some much older stuff.

 

 

Huge thanks to Iain!

 

 

 

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

 

November 12, 2021


Whiskyfun

Glenallachie on the desk

I'm not sure I'm getting everything about modern Glenallachie, especially about their 'wood (read wine) policy'. What I know is that they have great and talented people (some of French ancestry) while after all, whisky is rather about people and camaraderie than about quercus and sangiovese. No?
Let's do this randomly…

Glenallachie

Glenallachie 2009/2021 (56.1%, OB, Sherry and Rioja Cuvée Cask Finish)

Glenallachie 2009/2021 (56.1%, OB, Sherry and Rioja Cuvée Cask Finish) Two stars
Sherry and Rioja? What? Colour: salmony gold. Nose: it's okay there are strawberries and sourdough, porridge, peonies, chlorophyll, Seville oranges, roasted walnuts, a little rubber, pumpkin seeds… With water: geranium, both flowers and leaves. Cherry stems, rosehip, hawthorn… Mouth (neat): sweet, a little jumbled, not bad, hard to describe, perhaps a tad uncoherent, but certainly not bad. Not sure where this sweetness is coming from. With water: more chlorophyll and rubber, while it wouldn't take water too well, becoming too dry (tomato leaf). Finish: medium, a little sour. Cherry stems and leaves. Raw grappa and marc in the aftertaste. Comments: I think I'm missing something here. I'm sure it's me – or the Rioja's tempranillo. Nah, it's me, it's just not a composition for me.

SGP:451 - 75 points.

Glenallachie 12 yo 2008/2021 (63.4%, Signatory Vintage, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #900368, 676 bottles)

Glenallachie 12 yo 2008/2021 (63.4%, Signatory Vintage, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #900368, 676 bottles) Three stars
Seen the strength? Colour: amber. Nose: there, a little varnish, bourbon, vanilla, figs, raisins… and a lot of ethanol! So with water: croissants and raisin rolls, Hawaiian pizza (I'm joking – quite) and sourdough. Fresh panettone and kougelhopf, with many sultanas s'il-vous-plaît. Mouth (neat): good and hot. No chances taken at WF Towerz… With water: very good if a little in the middle-of-the-road (chirpy chirpy cheep cheep – if you get this you're old). Raisins and biscuits, plus toffee, scones and brioche. Finish: long, grittier, maltier. Green tea. Comments: a good drop, its main asset being that at this strength, you could pour it into your BMW and smoke all Teslas on the Autobahn.
SGP:551 - 80 points.

Glenallachie 12 yo 2007/2020 (59.7%, Adelphi, refill PX sherry, cask #900827, 621 bottles)

Glenallachie 12 yo 2007/2020 (59.7%, Adelphi, refill PX sherry, cask #900827, 621 bottles) Three stars
This should be relatively similar. Colour: gold. Nose: sameish, a tad gentler, cakier, with less sherryness. No complains. With water: fudge, toffee, millionaire shortbread, cakes, panettone. Mouth (neat): good, modern, with some fudge and that lovely Belgian liqueur called 'Mandarine Impériale' or something. That one's extremely good, should you not know of it. With water: no big character but it works, with some café latte, fudge, raisin rolls… Finish: long, on similar notes. More panettone. Comments: very good, just not very noticeable, if I may. Which distillery was it, by the way? Aultmore? Braeval? Glendullan? Macallan? Knockdhu? Glenglassaugh?... But Adelphi sure is a good signature, even if, according to the sizes of their writings on their labels, they are still in bed with 'Optometry Scotland'.

SGP:561 - 81 points.

Not a very easy session indeed, but our heart remains willing…

Glenallachie 11 yo 2008/2020 (54.1%, Duncan Taylor for Whisky Journey Singapore, Octave, 102 bottles)

Glenallachie 11 yo 2008/2020 (54.1%, Duncan Taylor for Whisky Journey Singapore, Octave, 102 bottles) Three stars
Holy smokes! Colour: gold. Nose: well, this could be a success. It's cleaner, more on orange cake, croissants, butterscotch, shortbread, madeleines… This is simple life, this is good life. With water: add branches, yellow flowers (buttercups), beeswax and pollens. Mouth (neat): very good, very easy, pretty simple, with a touch of mentholness, otherwise cakes. Was that fast enough? With water: pollen chiming in, all-flower honey, vanilla, meringue, Breton galettes (some kind of buttered-up shortbread) and green tea. Finish: rather long, cake-y, then tea-ish. Ale aged in oak in the aftertaste. Comments: we're making good progress. Thirty more and we may find a '90'.

SGP:551 - 82 points.

Glenallachie 'Golden Barley' (45%, Share & Taste, Whisky & Rhum, +/-2021)

Glenallachie 'Golden Barley' (45%, Share & Taste, Whisky & Rhum, +/-2021) Four stars
To share and to taste, that's the spirit indeed! I believe this is new, as our sleuths couldn't find any picture of the bottle. Colour: straw. Nose: that's the trick, the closer to the barley you get, the more you win. Vanilla, nougat, barley syrup, popcorn, maple syrup, hit apples (pommes tapées, a thing from the Loire Valley) and touches of peanut butter. Regressive hence and thus hard to beat. Mouth: very good, of course! Butterscotch, praline, nougat, halva, pistachios, Ovaltine, chamomile tea, and most importantly, no lousy wines in the way. Finish: medium, clean, very caky, with lovely notes of walnuts and marzipan in the aftertaste. Some raisins too, which may imply that some sherry was involved indeed, but we just wouldn't care. Comments: easily our favourite so far.

SGP:551 - 85 points.

Glenallachie 11 yo 2008/2020 (56%, Asta Morris, sherry butt, cask #AM147, 724 bottles)

Glenallachie 11 yo 2008/2020 (56%, Asta Morris, sherry butt, cask #AM147, 724 bottles) Three stars and a half
As far as aged spirits are concerned, in my book, the Belgians represent the cavalry. Always there when you need them. Colour: pale gold. Nose: well, Glenallachie wouldn't just floor you, let's be honest. Some fat oils, some barley, some softer raisins, nougat, beer… Well it's not Ardbeg, if you see what I mean. With water: Mackeson's and artisan mead. A little cider. Mouth (neat): good butterscotch and malty nougat, orange cake, sweet barley, not much else. With water: cakes, kougelhopf, pancakes, Läckerli. Hoppla then. Finish: pretty long, cake-y. Comments: THE existential question, are these whiskies really needed? Are WE needed? Is whisky needed? I mean, in the grand scheme of things?

SGP:451 - 83 points.

A bit bored, perhaps, as Mr Pop would say, but we shall go on since where there's a will, there's a way. There, perhaps an assassin's Glenallachie…

Glenallachie 3 yo 2016/2021 (68.3%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, refill hogshead)

Glenallachie 3 yo 2016/2021 (68.3%, The Whisky Barrel, Burns Malt, refill hogshead) Four stars
Man, a 2016/2021 cannot be just 3, capeesh? It may be four and it may be five, but it cannot be three. Now, we're trying this on Halloween night (and shall publish later), so nothing scares us now, not even utter damnation and total malty putrefaction. 68.3% vol., well, Whisky Barrel, my lawyers will send you a letter (as soon as they've sobered up, which may never happen indeed). Colour: white wine. Nose: I think I get the idea. Paint thinner, nail polish remover, wine vinegar, lime juice… But let's tell it like it is, I'm finding this curiously approachable. With water: I totally hate it that I would like this so much. Pristine pears and barley eaux-de-vie, beating both Rochelt and Capovilla at their own games. Mouth (neat): superb, as long as you only take half a drop in your mouth. Perfect pears! With water: wow! Flamboyant williams pears, with a little fudge, butter cream and what we call 'poiré' (proper pear cider). Forgot to mention tarte tatin, queen of tartes. Finish: long, on pears and caramel. Comments: what? Face it, we've been scammed! Indeed age doesn't matter, as long as you know about it (ooh my poor head…).
SGP:641 - 87 points.

Glenallachie 2014/2020 (62.4%, L'Esprit, cask #SB 9900149, 329 bottles)

Glenallachie 2014/2020 (62.4%, L'Esprit, cask #SB 9900149, 329 bottles) Four stars
This by our excellent French friends in Brittany. Colour: gold. Nose: butter pears, vanilla fudge, cider, Kouign-amann (some insane butter-loaded quasi-pornographic Breton cake) and Pliny-The-Elder. We're talking IPA. With water: perfect extreme acetic barleyness. Seriously, this is superb. Mouth (neat): grassy varnishes and rotting bananas. Pretty extreme, rather lovely, almost bacterial (as in Jamaican rums). With water: varnishes and vinegars. Some crazy balsamicos such as those by Mr Casari. Finish: long, salty and varnishy, acetic, not really normal but that's what we enjoy here. Comments: what was that? Is this legal? Do we have the papers? This is whisky for nerds – nerds and cray mixologists of the world, you may take notice.
SGP:562 - 85 points.

More varnish… I mean, more Glenallachie… And then we'll call this a session; honestly, we need to, this is becoming too tough…

Glenallachie 24 yo 1995/2020 (55.1%, The Duchess, cask #23, 'Game & Wild', hogshead, 289 bottles)

Glenallachie 24 yo 1995/2020 (55.1%, The Duchess, cask #23, 'Game & Wild', hogshead, 289 bottles) Three stars
This is meant to have been selected by 'Watt Whisky'. Some weird stuff going on up there in Scotland, if you ask me. Colour: light gold. Nose: isn't it rather funny that while we found a lot of pears in that sneaky 3 yo by The Whisky Barrel, we would detect just as many pears in this much older Glenallachie by The Duchess? Some chlorophyll too, teak oil, dim sums, pencil eraser, autumn leaves, grist… With water: rubber, inner tube, Barbour grease… Not very sexy to say the least. Mouth (neat): good sweet pearish and beerish arrival, then rather greengages and a little pinewood. Not exactly easy to pin down. With water: no, do not add any water, water kills it. Finish: rather long, a little salty, malty, a tad indefinite. Comments: very good, just not extremely motivating. One thing to remember is that they have 22 (twenty-two) million (million) casks maturing in Scotland. Which, in truth, isn't much as that's only one third of a cask per (thirsty) French citizen. I would believe we're about to start complaining, which is a thing we do pretty well.
SGP:561 - 82 points.

I promise I'll try to put my hands on more official Glenallachie 'au naturel'. CU.

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

 

November 11, 2021


Whiskyfun

Yet Another World Session
These are trickier and yet funnier to do. We'll keep sailing where the wind takes us, but as we often like to do (as long as we've got French whiskies in the boxes), we'll start this new session from France.

Armorik 12 yo 2009/2021 (57%, OB for LMDW, France, sherry, cask #3343, 660 bottles)
FR

Armorik 12 yo 2009/2021 (57%, OB for LMDW, France, sherry, cask #3343, 660 bottles) Four stars
When I say France here, I mean Brittany, or Bretagne. Bagpipes, Celtic flutes, whisky, langoustines, scallops, haggis… No, not haggis, but doesn't all that ring a bell? Armorik/Warenghem are the pioneers of the modern-quality whisky culture in France, so all hail Armorik! A little less sure of this new Evian-style label, but who cares… Colour: amber gold. Nose: old-school French malt whisky, and that means a lot. When I say old-school I mean whisky made as it was made in Scotland, with proper gear and without cutting any corners. And without using just any unlikely wine casks that would have crossed the distillers' path. Very nice nose, full of beers, cakes, breads, dried fruits, walnuts, dried figs, also broom, dandelions, honeysuckle, with a drop of soy sauce and a wee porcini on top of all that. And perhaps a wee glass of old Banyuls? With water: cigarette tobacco (there, Gauloise Blonde – boy they'll fine me or jail me one day), leather, raisins. Mouth (neat): oh good! Great punch, with some complexity, surely a little triple-sec, some earthy quasi-peat, a lot of citrus, pipe tobacco, mead, williams pear eau-de-vie, heather honey… The citrusy side keeps it really tight and focused, even is basically, it's pretty complex whisky (what?). With water: gets a tad lighter, almost as a Lowlander. Finish: rather long though, closer to Jerez. More walnuts, leather, oranges and tobacco. Ducados? Comments: I just knew this was going to be excellent. I think I'll now play that old LP by Alan Stivell that I've still got somewhere… Tri martolod yaouank (tra la la, la di ga dra), Tri martolod yaouank o voned da veajiñ…
SGP:551 - 87 points.

We won't need to drive for too long to reach Switzerland…

Seven Seals 'Peated Double Wood' (58.7%, OB, Switzerland, +/-2020)
Suisse

Seven Seals 'Peated Double Wood' (58.7%, OB, Switzerland, +/-2020) Three stars
As I understand it, this is from both first fill and refill bourbon. At Seven Seals they seem to have a motto that says 'Time doesn't matter, taste matters'. Which may suggest that they're rushing things in some way. Come on, it's like saying that the size of the engine of a sports car doesn't matter and that only the speed does. Just a tautological assertion if you ask me, even if indeed, there are many very young whiskies that are absolutely excellent - and small-engine cars that are fun to drive. Good, allez… Colour: gold. Nose: cold fireplace, bacon, lamp oil, briquettes. Pretty nice I have to say, it reminds me a bit of those early NAS peated Benriachs or Tomintouls. With water: burnt herbs, sage, tarragon, oregano, rosemary, natural tar… Mouth (neat): tougher. Linoleum, old candle, smoked fish and lemon, charcoal… Some sides are pleasant, especially this petroly smokiness. Sucking burnt pinewood (I would imagine) and a painter's inked charcoal or something. With water: really a feeling of burnt pinewood. Finish: long, with some bacon again, otherwise assorted burnt herbs and woods. Comments: we've tried this style before, I just can't remember who already did this. Perhaps those crazy people at Lost Spirits, in the good old US of A? Surprise-surprise, I do rather like this, partly because it is very un-boring.
SGP:456 - 82 points.

Since we were having un-boring whisky, let's hop to Japan!

Yanagita 2019/2021 'Mizunara' (41%, OB, for LMDW, Japan)
JP

Yanagita 2019/2021 'Mizunara' (41%, OB, for LMDW, Shochu, Japan) Three stars
Good, this is not really whisky, it rather classifies as shochu, but I just adored this wee drink when I first tried it at Whisky Live Paris, so let's try it quickly. What's more, sure it's shochu, but it is shochu that's integrally made out of barley and distilled in a pot still. And aged in mizunara oak, which seems to work like a turbo on some spirits. Colour: white wine. Nose: you cannot not think of high-class sake and of anything superbly fermentary. Banana wine, manioc, sake indeed, sourdough, orange riesling… Mouth: a bit more unlikely, with burnt olive oil and some rice water, rather rustic sake indeed, perhaps kombucha, weissbeer… Oh and manioc again. Finish: medium, rather more on vegetables and roots. Celeriac, turnips and stuff. Comments: not too sure after all. The stories and the people are great, and once again you could intellectualise anything (even a Java Chip Frappuccino® from Starbucks) ... We may lack references, we may have to ask our Japanese friends… Conservatory score then… (waving a caution flag)
SGP:372 – 80 points.

Let's cross the ocean…

Two Brewers 'Peated Release No.19' (46%, OB, Canada, single malt, +/-2021)
CAN

Two Brewers 'Peated Release No.19' (46%, OB, Canada, single malt, +/-2021) Four stars
These very fine people are located in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. That's close to Alaska. Our old friend Davin, uebermaster of Canadian whisky, handed them many awards and medals already, which to me is better than a Palme d'Or in Cannes or than an Oscar in Hollywood. Colour: gold. Nose: love this fun, this joy, this bubblegum, these bags of marshmallows (many barbecued) and this feeling of having smoked banana foam over juniper wood. And these huge loads of banana skins. Mouth: maltier, rather toeing the line this time, with cereals, breads, bitter beers and ales, fruit peel, apple juice, then sweet breads, vanilla, cinnamon rolls, and only a mild peat, somewhat 'green'. Finish: medium but well-knit, with a fruity sweetness + peat combination that's not always this successful elsewhere. Pine needles in the aftertaste. Comments: very positively surprised. It is not an easy path to try to smoke such an easier kind of distillate, so, kudos.
SGP:645 - 83 points.

And lastly…

Catoctin Creek 'Roundstone Rye Distillers Edition' (46%, OB, Rye, USA, +/-2020)
US

Catoctin Creek 'Roundstone Rye Distillers Edition' (46%, OB, Rye, USA, +/-2020) Two stars
We'll have many more Catoctin Creeks from Virginia in the coming weeks, just saying. So, this is just a foretaste and 100% rye, so most certainly not sourced elsewhere (like, in Indiana). Colour: gold. Nose: young, extremely tarry, almost plastic-like (not in a bad way) and totally singular. Whiffs of geranium, bicycle inner tube, teak oil, and 'the exhaust of a two-stroke engine'. More smoked bananas too. Mouth: the oak's a little loud for me. Ginger, juniper, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg… Typical very young distillate that's been somewhat force-fed with new oak. Finish: same feeling. Comments: sitting on the fence here. Some aspects are fun, really, and the nose was pretty great, but I'm not a huge fan of these young oak juices on the palate. I'm sure we'll soon find 'better' ones in our stash.
SGP:562 - 76 points.
 

November 10, 2021


Whiskyfun

Navigating around the high-class whisky world

Starting from France, naturally. I would add that the amounts of 'foreign' whiskies reaching Château WF these days are really getting huge. Expect more travelling in the coming months…

Alfred Giraud 'Harmonie' (46.1%, OB, France, 2021)
FR

Alfred Giraud 'Harmonie' (46.1%, OB, France, 2021) Four stars
A stunning decanter that would remind us that this baby's stemming from the Cognac region. This is actually a French blended malt that's mainly been matured and marriaged in ex-old cognac casks by the house Giraud. The names of the distilleries they've sourced their malts from are not disclosed. Should we expect some kind of French 'Blue Label'? Colour: gold. Nose: wee, I mean petits whiffs of smoke ala HP for starters, with some pear and melon liqueurs soon to chime in, and some sultanas and peach syrups reminding us that some cognac was somewhat involved. Goes on with some classic vanilla and some malt, as well as touches of sawdust (new oak) and menthol. This works so far… Mouth: in the own words of Mark Z., this is somewhat meta or rather metanoiacal at first (whisky and cognac) and certainly not totally traditional. Some earthy aromatic herbs, peach skins, honeydew and even mead, some tea from the French oak, then more herbs (black pu-her) and just old cognac. It is 'cross' for sure, even if by nature, this is whisky. A minimal earthy smokiness. Solid body, I always enjoy these uncomplicated kinds of strengths. Finish: pretty long and, I have to say, even nicer, more complex, with the wee smoke making a dramatic return. Well in truth, it's at the finish that  the smoke's most obvious. Very good now. Comments: this French baby never stopped improving in my glass. Like 82, 83, 84, 85… …
SGP:641 - 86 points.

That was a good start, let's move on to… where? To the true metaverse?

Out Of This World Whisky Blend (43.6%, The Boutique-y Whisky Company, blended world whisky, 240 bottles, 2021)
ONU

Out Of This World Whisky Blend (43.6%, The Boutique-y Whisky Company, blended world whisky, 240 bottles, 2021) Four stars
This is 'a blend of incredibly special whiskies from planet earth', which means that neither Musk, nor Branson, nor Bezos, or any other wealthy pseudo-Martians were involved here. Phew. Colour: gold. Nose: rather towards bourbon, no? Or Canadian? There are oils, including essential ones, a little thyme, menthol, fern, dill, all that over vanilla, maple syrup and the tiniest amount of coconut. I have to add that this is rather awesome IMHO, whether some A.I. made this or if it was rather Dr Sam S who was at the pipette. Mouth: yes, very good! Once again a little maize-y perhaps, on vanilla, popcorn, nougat… But really it does the job. Finish: sweet, a tad earthy now, with a little puréed chestnut and some vanilla cream. Comments: surpize bonege! Indeed, that's Esperanto (I would think), any true world-whisky's genuine language.
SGP:641 - 85 points.

What's the exact opposite of a total world whisky? That's right, an ueber-terroiry one…

Waterford 'Luna 1.1' (50%, OB, Ireland, biodynamic, 2021)
Eire

Waterford 'Luna 1.1' (50%, OB, Ireland, biodynamic, 2021) Five stars
I first tried this one at Whisky Live Paris this year and found it that good that I included it amongst my three 'coups de coeur' as I was doing a wee tutored tasting session there (what they call a masterclass, imagine). As for what biodynamy/biodymamics is, let's say you could see it either as a rather esoteric way of growing plants, taking the moon and other 'funny' aspects into account, or just as an ueber-organic method that, incidentally, is now being used by many of the most prestigious wine estates in the world, while some wouldn't even tell you. In truth, beyond what's in the glass, biodynamy keeps the land alive for the future generations. Good, if you don't mind, let's not start a (very silly) book about biodynamy… Colour: barley straw. Ha. Nose: pear cake, tarte aux poires, pear pie, pears poached in pinot gris, pear paste… Then a little hops and sweet brioche dough, a touch of limestone gravel, grist… With water: all things cereals, with some chalk too, including husk, plus fat citrons and lemons. We're almost in the neighbourhood of Pouilly-sur-Loire.  Mouth (neat): this is what I had noticed in Paris, this fatness, this thicker mouth feel, this feeling of having some kind of (unroasted) sesame oil with a little honey and orange blossom water in your mouth… Plus, naturally, pear pie. Or, there, Irish upside down pear tart. Irish tatin! With water: the best part, it's just a bed of barley and oils. Water made it even fatter. Finish: rather long and, as almost always with young whiskies, a tad greener, more bitter, more on fruit peel, especially apples (rather than pears). Comments: it's the texture, it's alive! Still much impressed, and that's not because I wouldn't want to go back on my Parisian decision, cross my heart.
SGP:461 - 90 points.

Since it seems that we're into opposites today, let's stay in Ireland…

Bushmills 32 yo 1989/2021 'Port Cask' (50.1%, OB, for LMDW, Ireland, 205 bottles)
IR

 

Bushmills 32 yo 1989/2021 'Port Cask' (50.1%, OB, for LMDW, Ireland, 205 bottles) Five stars
That would be northern Ireland. A finish on such an old juice, let's just hope – but I have little doubts – that the make's proverbial and very extravagant tropical fruitiness was not drown in raspberry and cassis juice. Colour: very marginally rosé gold. Nose: oh! What a stunning, complex, elegant and yet slightly 'in-your-face' avalanche of mangos, ripe bananas and pineapples, papayas, maracuja, rambutans, blood oranges, orange blossom honey, pollens, apricot nectar… It's funny that it would be geared towards western orchards after a few seconds, that's superb! Now I do not actually find cassis or raspberries, perhaps cranberries? Perhaps wild wee strawberries?… With water: incredible, rather on pink peppers, hawthorn, pink grapefruits, perhaps a wee bit of macaron à la rose from Ladurée's (a thing for ladies and gastronomes)… Mouth (neat): just totally on par with the stunning indie (undisclosed) Bushmills from similar vintages. Does the Port bring something new? Perhaps, indeed, touches of strawberries and raspberries, but other than that, it's just a tropical fruity typhoon. With water: I have to say that raspberries get more noticeable, but the tropicals (and topicals) keep fighting back. Finish: medium – these are never extremely long - but still arrogantly fruity. Those famous 'fruit salads'. Comments: I believe it's an expensive bottle, which is a good thing because otherwise, many of us would down a case within two weeks. Extremely drinkable, while the Port finish was done in a civilised fashion. I just totally love it; everyone would.
SGP:751 - 92 points.

Where are we? All right, let's play rugby and after an old Irish, try an old Kiwi (there are no old French whiskies yet, I'm afraid)…

The New Zealand Whisky 33 yo 1988/2021 (58%, OB, for LMDW, New Zealand, bourbon, cask #62, 224 bottles)
NZ

The New Zealand Whisky 33 yo 1988/2021 (58%, OB, for LMDW, New Zealand, bourbon, cask #62, 224 bottles) Four stars and a half
This is, indeed, old Willowbank/Lammerlaw/Milford stock. Remember the distillery was closed in the year 2000, so it's really cool that the casks were saved while, I suppose, no one was really caring back in those days. As for the old casks we could try so far, it's rather been a rollercoaster in my wee book, but some have been excellent, so hope is there… Colour: gold. Nose: a whole different game, no need to say, but this baby's far from being ridiculous after the stunning Bushmills, it's even got a part of that tropicalness (grapefruits, but also medlars and prickly pears), with a leafy smoke and touches of earthier chlorophyl and elderflowers. And mistletoe, perhaps? Was this a peated make? With water: more malt, beers, flours, dough pieces… Mouth (neat): a bit shaky here and there, well you would feel that there hasn't been a Dr Swan or a Dr Lumsden behind this cask all along those years, but on the other hand, you could enjoy these herbal teas, these teaish tannins, these zests, these greener spices (fresh cardamom seeds, fennel seeds), and just these apples and quinces baked with cinnamon and wee bits of orange zests. Yummy. With water: some notes that you would rather find in some rums, especially floral ones that would remind me of Mauritius or La Réunion. Ylang-Ylang? Blood oranges for sure. Finish: medium, intriguing because newer flavours would pop out, such as some spices, caraway, notes of rose jelly or Turkish delights, aniseed, litchis… Comments: I would suppose this was one of the better casks. Sure it's a little anecdotal… I have to say I'm a little surprised that our friends in NZ did not keep all the casks for local consumption (at least we could have beaten the All Blacks more often, ha).
SGP:651 - 88 points.
 

November 8, 2021


Whiskyfun

Strange pairs, today Glenmorangie

Clichot
I first thought, while perusing the wine and spirits shelves in the nearest supermarket (a large Leclerc 'hypermarché') that they had mistakenly put some Veuve Clicquot from last summer amongst the whiskies. Nah, it was actually that rather new Glenmorangie 'X', which, incidentally, belongs to the same company, Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH). Actually, that huge group is now called the other way 'round, that is to say Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton – but they wouldn't change the acronym to MHLV. Haven't I lost you again?

Glenmorangie 'X' (40%, OB, +/-2021)

Glenmorangie 'X' (40%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars
It's written on the label, this pretty cheaply priced NAS single malt (25€ a bottle at Leclerc at time of writing) was 'made for mixing'. But let's be rebels, as much as we've sometimes mixed some very precious old malts while we shouldn't (Port Ellen misuwari at Fiddler's, anyone?) we just shan't mix this 'X' and rather do a real yet quick check of the engine. Colour: gold. Nose: frankly, you could have this neat. It's fresh, pleasant, malty, with rather a lot of vanilla and maple syrup (some heavy charring I suppose), tinned sweet maize, orange blossom, nougat, traditional cake… And our beloved panettone. This is liquid panettone! Mouth: once again, I'm positively surprised, I was expecting something flat and meagre, while I'm finding this perfectly drinkable, with good maltiness, vanilla, oranges, more panettone, more nougat… Even the 40% don't feel weak, the body being more than okay. Finish: not even short. Good earl-grey-y oakiness in the aftertaste. Comments: it may have been 'made for mixing' but I believe it was not made 'only' for mixing. Good easy fresh juice for 'everyone', including us.
SGP:531 - 82 points.

A Highland Distillery 16 yo 2005/2021 (58.3%, First Cask, Whisky Import Netherland Dranken bv, butt)

A Highland Distillery 16 yo 2005/2021 (58.3%, First Cask, Whisky Import Netherland Dranken bv, butt) Two stars and a half
A single malt. With exceptions, these are usually either Clynelish, or Glenmorangie/Westport, while undisclosed Macallans rather go as blends. Nutshell, this should Glenmorangie. Colour: rich gold. Nose: in my book the soft Glenmorangie is a 'sponge' distillate, it wouldn't even think about fighting any additional influence (active wood, wines) and rather adapt. That may be why, at least in the early days, Glenmo 'Sauternes' was very much on Sauternes, same with Margaux, Burgundy, Port, Madeira etc, or even with new American oak. So, we're on walnut wine here, leaves, mustard, perhaps a little sulphur, I'm even thinking of Jerez vinegar, then artichokes and eggplants, black tobacco (Gauloises), Worcester sauce, even Louisiana chilli sauce… Couldn't you pour this over hamburgers? With water: English brown sauce coming out. Not totally sure that's a good thing. Onion soup. Mouth (neat): bizarre, rather on some heavy butterscotch that someone would have flavoured with tobacco. Smoked millionaire shortbread, a little vinegar again, leather, then more fruits, perhaps goji? Sultanas? With water: leather and bitter oranges, smoked marmalade... And always this feeling of gunpowder (that's the PC way of mentioning 's'.) Finish: long, always on leather, with leaves, bell peppers, walnut and chestnut liqueurs… Comments: not exactly your usual Glenmorangie, but this sure isn't Clynelish. Has its charms, but it's also got a few flaws – not irreparable ones, having said that. Nah, not really for me.
SGP:562 - 79 points.

PS they give you a few recipes in a neck-booklet with the X. Glenmorangie X Peach (1 part Glenmorangie, 1.5 parts peach iced tea), or Glenmorangie X Tonic (same with tonic instead of iced tea), or Glenmorangie X Sangria (2 parts Glenmorangie, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part pineapple juice, 1.5 part lemonade). They didn't exactly rack their brains but why not, I may try some of these later, in… July. Adios.

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

 

November 7, 2021


Whiskyfun

It is rum's turn on this very Sunday

Séverin
Yet another rum-fuelled malternative Sunday! We'll kick this session off with a little Guadeloupean and then see where the winds will blow us from there…

Séverin 'VSOP' (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2020)

Séverin 'VSOP' (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2020) Three stars and a half
This is agricole, although AFAIK Guadeloupe doesn't benefit from the appellation, while neighbours Martinique do. I'm afraid I am not well-acquainted with Domaine de Séverin. Colour: gold. Nose: fresh, fruity and very floral, mostly on ripe bananas and pineapples, gorse, vanilla, dandelions, with touches of lime honey and perhaps one or two mirabelles. Pretty elegant, easy, subtle and clean, with something reminiscent of some good young cognac. Mouth: perhaps a little sweet, even slightly syrupy, but the fruits are good, banana and pineapple once again, those two mirabelles, a little guava… The good news is that it would then get drier, cleaner and fresher, losing its slightly cloying sweetness over a few minutes. There's a little custard and maple syrup in the background, though. Finish: medium, rather honeyed and with once again a little maple syrup. Some orange jam too, litchis, plus the mandatory bananas flambéed. Comments: easy, fresh, rather subtle, pleasant. The easier side of Guadeloupe 'agricole'.

SGP:640 - 84 points.

Let's paddle out to Martinique...

Neisson 'Profil 62' (49.2%, OB for LMDW, Martinique, agricole, 900 bottles)

Neisson 'Profil 62' (49.2%, OB for LMDW, Martinique, agricole, 900 bottles) Four stars and a half
Straight from the small star distillery in Martinique. We've already tried quite a few stunning Neissons but watch this one, it's ex-new oak so let's be careful… Colour: light gold. Nose: coastal rum! I'd swear I'm finding oysters behind these lovely whiffs of liquorice wood, fresh-squeezed lime juice and cane juice. Some curious touches of rye too, violet, a little turmeric, beeswax, camphor, eucalyptus, then some warm praline and toasted cake… As complex as Neisson can be, even if this is probably quite young. Mouth: the fresh oak does feel, as it does in many new 'modern' malt whiskies. No problems, welcome to 2021. Cedarwood, chocolate, cinnamon, then once again a feeling of rye (with some lavender this time), then more tropicalness, bananas, papayas... Finish: rather long, on similar oak-coated notes. Comments: indeed, modern rum with 'enhanced wood technology' inside. I'm absolutely not against that, mind you, as long as it remains 'a variant'. I mean, if I may…
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Why not take the next wee flight to Haiti?

Clairin Sajous '41 months' 2017/2020 (56.8%, OB for Navigate World Whisky, Haiti, whiskey cask, cask # SJ16EW-1, 214 bottles)

Clairin Sajous '41 months' 2017/2020 (56.8%, OB for Navigate World Whisky, Haiti, whiskey cask, cask # SJ16EW-1, 214 bottles) Four stars and a half
A bottle exclusive to South-Africa, aged in an ex-Evan Williams cask. I've got a good feeling here, given that I love clairin… Colour: white wine. Nose: kerosene, pickle juice, muck, salted liquorice, tar and rubber… What's not to like? Love it that the bourbon does absolutely not get in the way of this superb distillate. With water: stunning, it loves water. Asparagus, apple peel, metal polish, diesel oil… Mouth (neat): I would say this clairin got a little 'Jamaican' after those months in bourbon wood. Gherkins, tar, salt, olives, then fermenting, even slightly rotting tropical fruits. I mean, ultra-ripe bananas! Some cane 'honey' in the background. With water: very 'sweet and salty' and close to some kind of pure fruit juice; it's just that that fruit remains unknown to mankind. A little vanilla too but we're safe. Finish: long, pure, very 'clairin', whatever that means. The casks behaved! Brine and a curious feeling of peat smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: hugs and kisses to Haiti. They make one the best distillates in the world and this is another wonderful example.

SGP:562 - 88 points.

Since we've mentioned Jamaica…

Hampden 19 yo 2000+2001/2021 'JMH' (55.4%, Rum Sponge, refill barrels, 420 bottles)

Hampden 19 yo 2000+2001/2021 'JMH' (55.4%, Rum Sponge, refill barrels, 420 bottles) Five stars
Well, neither does it state it's Hampden, nor does it clearly tell about the vintages, it just says 'JMH V00 & V01'. But come on, let's get the ball rolling… Colour: straw. Nose: this one's acetic, acetone-y, ultra-grassy, and pretty wild. You can't make them drier and even the craziest Spanish olive oils gather less olive-y notes than this. Did any top chefs already try to cook with or for this? With water: liquorice, benzine and seawater having the lead now. Wee touches of apricot eau-de-vie too, or rather almondy prussic acid. Mouth (neat): there's some sweetness (limoncello) this time, otherwise it's pristine, flawless estery Hampden. Green liquorice and more olives, grapefruit zests, salty manzanilla… With water: game, set and match. It even got a little 'easy', which is a clear asset. Finish: long, a kind of cocktail involving olives and liquorice. Any mixologist keen on trying that?  Comments: big and balanced, two concepts that do not always tango well. They do here. I like this pretty quaffable Hampden very very much, well done Sponge, there's even something a little Ardbeggian to it. Wait…

SGP:562 - 91 points.

Finest Jamaican Rum 25 yo (50%, Duckhammers/Wu Dram Clan, 164 bottles, 2021)

Finest Jamaican Rum 25 yo (50%, Duckhammers/Wu Dram Clan, 164 bottles, 2021) Five stars
This one truly is secreto. Colour: gold. Nose: there sure is a family resemblance, this one being just a little rounder, perhaps a little subtler yet, with even more vegetables and more straight cane juice, as well as plantains and other moderately aromatic tropical fruits and roots. Some wonderful esters for sure, this was a top top-dresser. With water: oh it doesn't really need water. Pulls the olives out. Mouth (neat): absolutely wonderful juice, salty, gherkiny (what?), tarry, liquoricy, with some acids and then some sweeter liquorice. Drops of bitter orange juice, also small berries, sorb, elder and such. With water: forget about water, that tends to make it a tad sugary, unless you would just bring it down from 50 to 48% vol. No point. Finish: long, classic. Cane juice, liquorice, overripe bananas, olives, brine, tar. Comments: rather extraordinary, but the Sponge's multi-vintage was just a tad 'clearer', a tad more racy.

SGP:552 - 90 points.

Should you want to try a last one, where would you go?

Long Pond 2010/2021 'STCE' (60%, Habitation Velier, LMDW 65th Anniversary, Jamaica, bourbon, cask #16, 331 bottles)

Long Pond 2010/2021 'STCE' (60%, Habitation Velier, LMDW 65th Anniversary, Jamaica, bourbon, cask #16, 331 bottles) Four stars and a half
STCE means 'Simon Thompson Cambridge Estate'. Not that (very engaging) Simon Thompson of Dornoch fame, I suppose? In any case, it shouldn't be one of those, cough, slightly too extreme 'TEC' marques, what I'm not sure about is whether this is some kind of 'single-estate', or 'parcellaire' rum or not. Colour: deep gold. Nose: gentler than the Hampdens, that's sorted, although I'm rather finding this very acetic too. Some fresh plywood too, linoleum… But at 60% vol., it's just water that you need. With water: very green, still a little acetone-y, Ikea-y, with also capers and olives, and clearly something that would remind me of the clairin. Mouth (neat): bone-dry and ultra-drying. Biting into a pear four weeks before its ripe, see what I mean? With water: a tad easier, but gritty, carbone-y, tarry, acetic if not vinegary. Unripe olives and the most extreme fino sherry. Finish: long and salty, with some vanilla in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm a fan but I would say that whilst the Hampdens do clearly stand on their feet, many Long Ponds that I could try gave me a feeling of 'component', meaning that they were not quite meant to be quaffed as 'single rums' in the first place. But I could be totally wrong once again…
SGP:573 - 86 points.

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

 

November 6, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Bruichladdiching
I was on Islay, very briefly, this week for the first time in over two years and, I have to say, it was genuinely wonderful to return. Time was short but I got to visit two of my favourite distilleries: Bruichladdich and Ardbeg. We'll have a few Bruichladdichs today, but I've got some Ardbeg notes for the near future as well, and on top of that quite a few of the peated Laddie makes to try at some point as well. No doubt we'll get to them all, sooner or later. The one thing that stuck in my mind from both distilleries was that things seem to be going in encouraging directions with regards quality - both have genuinely wonderful new bottlings on the shelves - and people also seem a bit happier these days. All good news I am glad to report.

 

Bruichladdich 13yo 1984/1997 (59.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #23.26)

Bruichladdich 13yo 1984/1997 (59.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #23.26)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: pretty classic 'this era' Bruichladdich, so soft green fruits, lightly coastal, citrus rinds, some mashed vegetables and wee notes of canvass, olive oil and wet rocks. Pretty charming stuff. With water: becomes drier, leafier, more towards rolling tobacco, moss, cereals and umami vibes. Mouth: elegantly honeyed and lightly salty arrival. More of these impressions of root vegetables baked with honey, sandalwood, tobacco, lemon oil, bergamot and dried flowers. Also a nicely rich and honeyed mouthfeel, which is enjoyable. With water: the texture becomes fatter and oilier, some white stone fruits, waxed canvass, lanolin, lemon cough drops, putty and mint. Nicely charismatic and coastal. Finish: good length, rather salty, umami, fresh breads, pepper, eucalyptus and more hessian and olive oil. Comments: an excellent and charismatic wee Bruichladdich, although probably more a slow sipper than a session dram.
SGP: 462 - 87 points.

 

 

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2011/2021 'Bere Barley' (50%, OB, bourbon)

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2011/2021 'Bere Barley' (50%, OB, bourbon)
Colour: white wine. Nose: really the definition of modern barley eau de vie. A highly specific and I think truly excellent style. Intensely focussed on sourdough breads, scone mix, saison beers, crystallised lemon rinds, poire williams, tiny medicinal touches such as lanolin, pollen-heavy white flowers, chalk and sunflower oil. I really find this extremely charming and superb quality. With water: becomes broader, and quite a bit waxier, more white flowers, pollens and stone fruits. Almost begins to resemble some rather naked modern Springbank with these waxy and medicinal vibes. Mouth: natural and highly charismatic malt whisky! Rye breads, sourdough starter, herbal ointments, olive oil, sandalwood, wee briny saline notes, citrus peels, pink grapefruit and mixed dried herbs. A style that incorporates both old school and modern aspects in one profile, which is smart and brilliant I think. With water: wonderfully taut, mineral, precise and yet also becoming more complex and incorporating more of these various bready, beery, waxy, citric, floral and coastal qualities. The texture is also superbly oily and mouth-filling: engages every part of the palate. Finish: long, taut, salty, light citrus acidity, mineral salts, olive oil, wax and white pepper. Comments: ingredients + process + patience = brilliant whisky. I've waxed lyrical about these batches before, so I will simply say I think this is totally terrific, fun, pleasurable, very high quality whisky that people should endeavour to try, and take note of. I love how these batches seem to be developing a waxy quality as they age. I just checked, and at £75 a bottle, in my view this is bang for your buck. Oh, and one final thing, will the people who say barley varieties make no difference please go away and shut up. Thank you.
SGP: 562 - 90 points.

 

 

Bruichladdich 28 yo 1992/2021 'Black Art 09.1' (44.1%, OB, 2021)

Bruichladdich 28 yo 1992/2021 'Black Art 09.1' (44.1%, OB, 2021)
Colour: copper. Nose: gently leafy with sultana, tobacco and milk chocolate. The appearance of a nicely easy and older style sherry profile at first nosing. Also some fig, underlying riper green fruits, candied walnuts and wee touches of hessian and praline. Very enjoyable and easy so far, thankfully an absence of any obvious funky wine inclusions too. Mouth: ok, spoke too soon, a feeling of wine casks at play rather quickly on arrival in the mouth. These notes of almond oil, marzipan, balsamic onions, treacle sponge pudding, crusted port, putty and funny slightly plastic impressions of Bakelite and plasticine. Tizer, rosehip, maraschino juices and cherry bakewell. Many pleasant notes individually, but I'm not sure they hold together. Finish: medium, a slight bitterness, some more milk chocolate, herbal extracts, eucalyptus, tobacco and blackcurrant. Comments: nose was lovely, palate not really my cup of malt. At least you cannot criticise Bruichladdich for lack of diversity amongst their releases. I just don't think all these various wine casks really add anything to their otherwise superb distillates. I'm sure they would say that this sort of bottling is not really aimed at overly opinionated grouches like me.
SGP: 651 - 83 points.

 

 

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2008/2021 (59.8%, Dramfool 'Jim McEwan Signature Collection', cask #2666, 1st fill barrel, 215 bottles)

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2008/2021 (59.8%, Dramfool 'Jim McEwan Signature Collection', cask #2666, 1st fill barrel, 215 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: fresh barley, cooking oils, hessian, wet rocks, crushed seashells and ozone. These batches at this age are becoming pretty impeccable I think. Also wee notes of ink, sheep wool, clay, rockpools - a style that straddles the shoreline and the farmyard very cleverly. With water: almost goes towards swimming pools, brake fluid, elastoplasts, mineral oils, clay and ointments. Superb distillate! Mouth: a little hot and peppery with the high abv, but there's impressive notes of chlorophyl, petrol, barley water, citrons, lanolin and freshly milled grist. Lots of focus on raw ingredients and weight, textural distillate. I also some find some vegetal notes and an increasing fatness with things like olive oil and pasta water. With water: still excellent, but these same ever so slightly mechanical / chemical sides are a tad funny. Really a lot of plasticine, clay, minerals, toolbox cloths and oils. We are certainly a very long way from boring. Finish: good length, rather salty, fresh, peppery, drying, faintly waxy - excellent! Comments: we're skirting the same levels of quality as the OB Bere Barley, I had this at bang on the 90 mark but those tiny chemical aspects probably dock it a single point. But we're quibbling quite a bit here because this is terrific distillate.
SGP: 472 - 89 points.

 

 

I know we should technically wait, but let's have one peaty one for the road…

 

 

Port Charlotte 8 yo 2013/2021 'Islay Barley' (50%, OB, 7 years in bourbon with 25% finished in French wine casks)

Port Charlotte 8 yo 2013/2021 'Islay Barley' (50%, OB, 7 years in bourbon with 25% finished in French wine casks)
It can be a bit hard to keep track of the maturation profiles / recipes for these bottlings sometimes, but the sheer dedication to cask juggling is admirable. Just thinking about the spreadsheets required to keep track of these things makes me queasy - I barely managed GSCE grace C in maths after all! Colour: pale gold. Nose: soft, creamy smokiness, some soot, oyster juice, grapefruit and seawater. A gentler style of Port Charlotte perhaps? Feels very fresh and coastal with quite a few saline and mineral inclusions. With water: feels a little more typically like Port Charlotte now with these slightly more farmyard smoky tones, frying pancetta, smoked olive oil and camphor. Mouth: if there is wine, it is well concealed, instead we've got some rich and satisfyingly chewy peat smoke, smoked grist, tar, iodine drops and TCP. Classic, modern and super-fresh Islay whisky. Olive brine, pickling juice, gentle creosote impressions and a nicely warming peppery side. Hard to argue with this. With water: wonderfully creamy still, great weight and smoky richness in the mouth. Peppery, kipper smoke, tar, medicines and seawater - but it's the texture that wins. Finish: long, lemony, salty, lots of persistent oiliness and sooty smoke. Comments: my guard is always up when I see wine in the recipe, but its influence is pretty invisible here to me. Feels like they are really nailing this approach to cask tinkering these days. This is not hugely complex, but it's clearly Port Charlotte and it's immensely quaffable. This textural aspect also lends it a feeling of maturity beyond its years, which is pretty clever in my wee book.
SGP: 467 - 87 points.

 

 

You're right! It would be rude to stop at just one…

 

 

Lochindaal 10 yo 2010/2021 (53.5%, North Star, refill barrel, 288 bottles)

Lochindaal 10 yo 2010/2021 (53.5%, North Star, refill barrel, 288 bottles)
Lochindaal sits somewhere between Port Charlotte and Octomore in terms of peating level, around 50-55 PPM I believe. I have tried barely any of them so I couldn't tell you yet whether they tend more towards the latter or the former. Colour: this one does indeed seem to sit between its two siblings rather perfectly. On one hand this very 'Octomorish' blade of pure, brilliant white peat smoke; on the other there's a more rustic, farmyard Port Charlotte aspect too. Also many thick notes of medicines, antiseptics, tar buckets, seawater and smoked mackerels slathered in black pepper and olive oil. Really great so far. With water: a wonderful mix of mercurochrome, seawater, anchovies, tar and a thick carpet of peat smoke and hessian. Still this almost 'Brora-esque' farmyard element. Mouth: densely tarry, oily and thickly peaty on arrival. The texture and 'fatness' of the distillate certainly lean more towards Port Charlotte here, which I'm very happy about. I also find a lot of pickling juices, preserved lemon brine, sardines and muddled green olives. With water: more crystalline, straight, saline and pure now. Metallic peat, raw seawater, green olives in a dirty martini and fermenting lemon juice. Hugely charismatic whisky. Finish: extremely long, robustly smoky, tarry, medicinal, some dried herbs, smoked olive oil and many more sharp coastal flavours. Comments: I feel Lochindaal is always destined to exist in comparison to its siblings, however, when the whisky is this charismatic and excellent I think that's no bad thing. I had it around 89 but water propelled it over the 90 line. A great and extremely fun dram and a very smart selection by Crouching Iain.
SGP: 478 - 90 points.

 

 

 

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

 

November 5, 2021


Whiskyfun

A quartet of Edradour
(but one of them doesn't count)

What a long way they have come since the very fine people behind Signatory Vintage had bought the Distillery from Pernod's subsidiary Campbell Distillers! Overhauling, extension, expansion, general smartness and improvement of the processes… Just to give you an example… (picture Tom Parnell)

Edradour

Edradour 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2003)

Edradour 10 yo (40%, OB, +/-2002)
Naturally, this was older 'Campbell' juice as Signatory only took over in 2002 (or was it 2003?) The reputation of this 10 wasn't very high to say the least, while Edradour had been a top malt for blending in the 1960s according to old authors – and the most expensive new filling of them all, mind you! Colour: gold. Nose: ah, less whacky and 'deviant' than I remembered it, maybe did it need a good twenty years of aging in glass? Some shoe polish, copper polish, old coins, dry pine needles, some leather, then rather beef jerky (or pemmican?), soy sauce, glutamate… Now some notes of new plastics would tend to pop out after a few minutes, which does not bode too well for the palate, let's see…Mouth: this rather immense soapiness at first, then burnt leaves, Fanta, leather…. Really very tough, as expected. Finish: hard. Comments: we shan't score this one again, I tried it just to show distinguished newcomers that nothing is lost forever. And I promise it is the very last time we're trying the old 10.

SGP:382 – - points.

Seriously…

Edradour 2005/2018 (63.7%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, Craftsman Selection, sherry, cask #501026, 195 bottles) Four stars
So clearly 'new' juice by Signatory Vintage and a 'two-face' set-up that's not unseen elsewhere. Karuizawa geishas, anyone? Now both bottles, left and right, do shelter the same juice in this very case. Colour: gold. Nose: it is a little hard to fathom that this stems from the same distillery, as what we're getting at this quasi-murderous strength is a lovely leafy sherry and notes of pear and apricot jams. Probably many other aromas but we won't push too hard just now. With water: gunflints, geranium flowers, pistachios and pecans (roasted), figs, tobacco…  Mouth (neat): there is a little old-Edradourness indeed, but that would rather be the better side of old Edradour, tobacco, soot, ale… The rest is too strong for this shy little paster. Wait, pears do show up again. With water: more pears indeed, plus more figs (jam), quinces, sweet pipe tobacco, cherry cake… I cannot not think of that other distillery that does much sherry up there further in the north (ending with '-clas'). Finish: long, drier, with some pine liqueur, Jäger, roasted chestnuts, walnut wine, tobacco… Comments: absolutely impeccable, with some kind of dry amontilladoness.

SGP:451 - 87 points.

Edradour 2009/2020 (56.2%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, Tiger's Finest Selection, First-fil sherry, cask #370, 675 bottles)

Edradour 2009/2020 (56.2%, Or Sileis, Taiwan, Tiger's Finest Selection, First-fil sherry, cask #370, 675 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: amber/mahogany. Nose: rather some coffee, malt and chocolate extravaganza, with whiffs of stout and then bouillons, meats, marrow, meat pie, gravy… With water: miso and umami. No one's ever going to be against that, certainly not yours truly. Mouth (neat): thick and superb rich sherry, sweeter than on the nose, with much more marmalade and Szechuan pepper. Ground coffee, black tobacco, chocolate, black pepper, apricot jam, Jafa cakes, 'moist' brownies… With water: I have to mention Christmas cakes, Beerewecke, Stolle… Finish: long, clan, more orangey. This time we've kind of gone even further north, towards Alness. More Jaffa cakes in the aftertaste. Comments: a little richer and easier than its older sibling, with a huge friendly presence. Very Christmassy (I know we're early…)

SGP:651 - 88 points.

Edradour 2010/2020 (58.5%, OB for The Navigator World Whisky, South Africa, first fill sherry butt, cask #386, 602 bottles)

Edradour 2010/2020 (58.5%, OB for The Navigator World Whisky, South Africa, first fill sherry butt, cask #386, 602 bottles) Four stars and a half
In theory, we should be close… Colour: dark amber. Nose: yes we're somehow between both Taiwanese, with both a dry cigary tightness and some richer dried fruits, fruitcake, pressed figs and dates, dried pears, a touch of ham, and perhaps even a mini Mars bar. With water : almost a carbon copy of the 2009, which is good news, obviously. Some wonderful sherry butts are in use at Edradour! Mouth (neat): very assertive, almost authoritative, with loads of coffee (ristretto) and black chocolate, then a few prunes and black raisins. Some French friends may believe this is some kind of old-style family armagnac. With water: Christmas cakes, marmalade, Szechuan pepper, with a wee slice of Linzertorte (with loads of raspberry jam). Finish: long, drier, with rather a lot of bitter chocolate and once again a little Jäger. Comments: another epic sherry monster from Pitlochry (via the neighbourhoods of Johannesburg).
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Great work at Edradour, but we already knew that. We'll try to have quite a few Ballechins in the coming weeks.

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

 

November 4, 2021


Whiskyfun

Dining at Deanston

Deanston
Sort of. We'll first have two 'funny' OBs, then two more serious IBs. Still, should be fun… It's no secret that we've become Deanstonites at Château WF, I believe we're now trying some almost every month! Because Deanston is good fun and when you chat with them you do not have the impression that you're talking to the people who are running Van Cleef & Arpels or the Pentagon. See what I mean?

Deanston 'Virgin Oak' (46.3%, OB, +/-2021)

Deanston 'Virgin Oak' (46.3%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
No worries, it was only finished in virgin oak, this shouldn't be plank juice. What's more, the price remains very fair, having said that I had tried a Deanston 'Finished in Virgin Oak' back in 2011 and had thought it was a little… plankish (WF 79). Let's see… Colour: white wine. Nose: no, it's clean, not a vanilla bomb, neither is it another Glen Ikea, it's rather gently malty, bready, with good yeast (baker's) and touches of bananas. So far so good, no quibble. Mouth: a few oak spices in the opening, such as the expected ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and turmeric, but it's all under control, while this baby would go on towards Stolle, anise cookies, caraway biscuits and just orangey custard. Finish: rather long, still on those oak spices, which would give it a wee feeling of readymade whiskey ginger (or ginger julep, whatever they call that cocktail). Comments: right, not exactly my preferred style but I believe we're already way above average.
SGP:551 - 83 points.

Deanston 2013/2020 'The Union Exclusive' (54.8%, OB, Organic fino finish)

Deanston 2013/2020 'The Union Exclusive' (54.8%, OB, Organic fino finish) Four stars
Wow, organic fino! The casks were sourced from Bodegas Robles, which are not in Jerez, rather in Montilla-Moriles. No problems whatsoever, I haven't seen the word 'sherry' anywhere on the bottle. As for The Union, I believe that's Deanston's consumer club. I think we should enrol! Colour: deep gold. Nose: butterscotch, walnut wine and focaccia all over the place. We shan't complain, we love all three. With water: some terpenes, menthol, aniseed, sweet mustard, caraway, fresh walnuts… Is that all the fino? Mouth (neat): wunderbar! Boy this thick punchy Deanston makes you speak German… Exactly the same roaming trio as on the nose, namely butterscotch, walnut wine and focaccia. With water: feels a bit 'lab' but who cares. Good spices, revolving around green walnuts. Once again a little butterscotch, as well as some orange blossom water, oriental pastry… Finish: long, drier, a little drying. The walnuts catching you in the end. Comments: more sport than whisky. I'll tell my doctor next time. Seriously, it's fun, unorthodox, and good but you have to like your walnuts. Oh come on, you see what I mean…

SGP:371 - 85 points.

Let's go indie…

Deanston 13 yo 2007/2020 (50.2%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #900144, 812 bottles)

Deanston 13 yo 2007/2020 (50.2%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, 1st fill sherry butt, cask #900144, 812 bottles) Four stars
A story about a high priestess here, I say why not. Colour: gold. Nose: no more whacky spices flying around, this is a gentler, cakier, better civilised classic malt whisky, with all things breads and cakes, and even croissants au beurre. Which, to this Frenchman, works as well as an old Bugatti, Delahaye or Avion-Voisin. Car enthusiasts will understand. With water: doughs! Mouth (neat): very good, rather earthy, with some liquorice wood, some gentian, celeriac eau-de-vie (of course, we make some in Alsace) and a classic development on sweet breads, including maize bread. With (just a drop of) water: ale, IPA, hops, branches, walnuts (the sherry I suppose), mustard sauce, 'that' fino… Finish: same. Long. Comments: very good, a gentler version of the official 'Union' bottle.
SGP:461 - 85 points.

Let's check an older, ex-refill one…

Deanston 25 yo 1996/2021 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, cask #HL18697, 216 bottles)

Deanston 25 yo 1996/2021 (50%, Hunter Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, cask #HL18697, 216 bottles) Four stars and a half
Glad to have this one as the signature, I would suppose the distillery's DNA will show better. Colour: white wine (bravo!) Nose: it's lighter, but more complex as well, with whiffs of shy meadow flowers, herbs, white asparagus, salsify, porridge, cut flowers, perhaps even broccoli (not making this up), Brussels sprouts, pils beer… Intriguing and fascinating, really, even if you need to kind of work on it. Not hard malt as in hard rock, right. With water: right, but it truly is lovely. Splendid earthiness. Mouth (neat): fantastic, complex, even complicated. Not immediate, sexy malt whisky for sure, but it would launch tiny herbs, white fruits and green vegetables, some long-forgotten (such as, say parsnips) one after the other. A true machine-gun! With water: perfect. Same. Finish: same, perfect. A tad too dry and grassy, but there… Comments: a little intellectual? And why should we keep dumbing down everything on this planet? I say this is whisky to resist any foul-smelling metaverse to come.

SGP:461 - 88 points.

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

 

November 3, 2021


Whiskyfun

Another short trip around the world (a-round the wo-orld)…
Let's keep exploring the whisky world from WF Towers, starting from… France, naturally.

Mandrin 2015/2021 (57.7%, La Maison du Whisky, France, Version Française, cask #3609, 256 bottles)

Mandrin 2015/2021 (57.7%, La Maison du Whisky, France, Version Française, cask #3609, 256 bottles) Four stars
Mandrin was a famous French robber and smuggler who used to roam the country in the 18th century. It is also an extremely rare French single malt made by brewers Brasserie du Dauphiné. As almost all French whisky makers do, a lot of wine wood is been used, which I always found a little unnecessary but at least, we do indeed produce wine in our dear little country. Colour: gold. Nose: it is the kind of nice modern cask-driven malt whisky that every country is now making, from Australia to Norway. I believe we should call them all 'Jim-Swan-Heritage' whiskies. Some soft ginger and pepper, raisins, vanilla, gingerbread, mead, cassata, bananas flambéed, dried figs, more raisins, rather sultanas… With water: water further pushes it towards raisinness, you could almost believe this is marc aged in oak. Mouth (neat): let's be honest, this is very good, this little Mandrin does indeed rob your tongue and your whole palate. Raisin rolls, gingerbread, thick sweet beer, chestnut liqueur and honey… There sure is some heaviness but no single obvious flaw. With water: same. Raisins, sweet beer, figs, dates, gingerbread, puréed chestnuts… Finish: of good length and with similar flavours. Comments: flawless and faultless raisin-driven malt whisky. Let's be honest, it's extremely good and pitfalls have been avoided.
SGP:651 - 86 points.
fr

To Israel…

Milk & Honey 2017/2020 (57.2%, OB, Israel, private cask for Steven Winston, PX hogshead finish, cask 2017/150) Milk & Honey 2017/2020 (57.2%, OB, Israel, private cask for Steven Winston, PX hogshead finish, cask 2017/150) Four stars
Every time I'm trying Milk & Honey I'm thinking of Milk & Alcohol by Dr. Feelgood, whom I saw live in the 1970s – with Wilko Johnson, if you please - here in my town (the support band was The Police). Right, we've got quite a few M&H in waiting, which just makes us happy. Colour: gold. Nose: first thing first, the PX did not take over and this is absolutely not some gingered raisin juice. Second, brioches and other pastries are leading the pack, including raisins rolls of course, which just works. These notes of sweet pumpernickel do work too, focaccia as well, honey-covered maize bread ditto, and anche amaretti. Very well balanced at barely 3. With water: menthol coming out, which just always works. Pine resins too. Mouth (neat): well-boosted modern young malt whisky, with similarities with the Mandrin, especially as far as all things raisins and gingerbread go. This one's a little spicier and oakier, though. With water: very good, spicier, not excessively so, rounded, rather easy, honeyed, with once again good gingerbread. Finish: long and while the finishes are usually the weaker spots with almost any very young whiskies, that's not the case at all here. Lovely sweet spice combo. Comments: when we say age does matter, that never means that we need old age in whisky, that only means that we need to know about the age of the whisky, be it only 3. In other words, the real motto would rather be 'knowing the age does matter'. Cheerio.
SGP:651 - 85 points.
is

To the U.K…

Oxford Rye Whisky #003 2017/2021 (51.2%, OB, England)

Oxford Rye Whisky #003 2017/2021 (51.2%, OB, England) Three stars
Made by some very cool people (as I could find out at The Whisky Show London) although finished in 'Moscatel de Setúbal' casks. Oh well, why not… Colour: gold. Nose: we're not in whisky territory, but that's not what's important, as this is extremely aromatic, sitting somewhere between some high-end aged gin and some purer American rye whiskey. A lot of 'good' soap (rye) and lavender, rose petals, gewurztraminer, litchi, and yet a bready foundation, always welcome. I'm still a fan this far… With water: incredibly floral and aromatic. Perhaps more for urban mixologists? Mouth (neat): perhaps a tad thick and sweet to a whisky freak, and certainly pretty unusual, but as soon as you open your mind and forget about any whiskiness, you start to enjoy this slightly thickish sweet lavender and violet-driven concoction. The moscatel sure wasn't shy. With water: the rye's inherent soapiness coming to the front. Finish: long, perfumy. Comments: fun stuff, very well made, I'd happily buy a bottle or two, even if this isn't exactly 'whisky' in my own silly old book. Ginsky, perhaps?
SGP:750 - 82 points.
en

To India…

Amrut 2015/2021 'Peated Madeira Cask' (60%, OB, India, Taiwan exclusive, first fill Madeira hogshead, cask #4710)

Amrut 2015/2021 'Peated Madeira Cask' (60%, OB, India, Taiwan exclusive, first fill Madeira hogshead, cask #4710) Two stars
Dear Amrut! Love the idea of a 'peated Madeira cask', there's something slightly Dadaistic to that. Or, you're right, surrealistic. Colour: amber. Nose: peat-smoked bacon, really. Fireplace, creosote… With water: more bacon and creosote. A little unlikely, perhaps… Deep-baked mustard-coated ham. Yep. Mouth (neat): thick, creamy, with some sulphur, a lot of lime, curry, dried mushrooms, black tobacco (Gauloises), mustard and olives, a feeling of eating earth… With water: sulphur to the front. Not too sure… Finish: rather long, with this odd feeling of smoked strawberries and cherries. Comments: has its obvious charms but this one's not quite for me, I'm afraid. Too creative, perhaps (and sulphury)…
SGP:472 - 72 points.
in

I think we need to stay in India…

Amrut 2014/2021 'Lightly Peated' (60%, OB, India, La Maison du Whisky, ex-bourbon, cask #1405, 150 bottles)

Amrut 2014/2021 'Lightly Peated' (60%, OB, India, La Maison du Whisky, ex-bourbon, cask #1405, 150 bottles) Four stars
Colour: reddish amber. Nose: this light smokiness goes well to Amrut's aromatic richness, this time we're rather thinking of pomegranate jam, peonies, a little fresh rubber, lime tea, tomato jam, ylang-ylang… But indeed, at 60%, let's not burn our poor nostrils. With water: wonderful notes of cedar wood and rum, lemongrass, spearmint, sandalwood, green oranges… Mouth (neat): oh good! The combination here rather leads us to Trinidad and Tobago, to Caroni, to rich olives, to fermentary notes, even to bacterial ones… Are we dead sure no one's misplaced a stencil or something? Hold on, are they keeping track of their casks with a Macintosh? Have they just, uh, err, 'upgraded' its operating system? With water: rather wonderful despite some more assertive resinous woodiness (spruce). Finish: rather long, fresh, with touches of coriander seeds and cardamom. How very Indian indeed. Lemon marmalade and Szechuan pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: phew! A very lovely bottle, well handled, well imagined, well-conceived, and just very smart.  
SGP:464 - 87 points.
in

Back to WF Towers…

 

November 2, 2021


Whiskyfun

A Bag of Blended Malts by CB

That would be Compass Box.

Compass Box 'Orchard House' (46%, Compass Box, blended malt, 2021)

Compass Box 'Orchard House' (46%, Compass Box, blended malt, 2021) Four stars
Some Benrinnes-Linkwood-and-Clynelish-driven juice (the Elixir folks would approve), that should be westerly fruity indeed. Colour: straw. Nose: a fruity malt with a stronger backbone than usual (flints, wax, tiny touches of smoke), with apples, gooseberries, green pears, plums and just a touch of pre-Brexit Middle-European eau-de-vie (Zwetschke and compadres). Mouth: it is coherent, even tarter now, very fruity, a little 'green' indeed, with granny smith, kiwi, apples, greengages… You wouldn't claim you do detect the individual components, but I believe we've tried some Benrinnes, some Linkwoods or some (young) Clynelishes that were like this. That is to say very good. Finish: medium, fruity, with a grassier coating, as usual. Maltier aftertaste. Comments: not a fruit bomb, but indeed you would imagine you're wandering throughout an orchard after a good summer rain (as the sun came).
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Compass Box 'Fortitude' (52.5%, La Maison du Whisky, blended Scotch, Artist #11, Pentalogy, 1074 bottles, 2021)

Compass Box 'Fortitude' (52.5%, La Maison du Whisky, blended Scotch, Artist #11, Pentalogy, 1074 bottles, 2021) Four stars and a half
A brand new, well, first, an independently bottled independent blended Scotch whisky. Indeed, it is not a malt, my mistake. Colour: white wine. Nose: very smoky, and I cannot not think of those older White Horses or even Mackie's Malt-Mill-fuelled blends. You would almost believe the blender here has been trying to replicate that ancient style. I'm happy to report that he rather succeeded, as this is pretty sooty, with some coal, smoked meats, creosote, kippers, then a little curry and old flowers in a vase, mustard, dry Madeira… With water: smoked salmon, carbon paper, pencil eraser and mercurochrome. Mouth (neat): really, an old White Horse! The grains don't feel too much I have to say. Citrons, angelica, bitters, mustard, liquorice wood, pine resin… With water: even more on a good old old-school smoky blend. B.r.a.v.o. Finish: medium, even sootier, a wee tad metallic… Exactly like an old smoky blend indeed (belabouring my point, I know). Comments: I'll dare asking, isn't there some Lagavulin in there? Oh and would it be possible to relaunch some kinds of Kork'N'Seal caps while being at it?

SGP:454 - 88 points.

Compass Box 'Confidence' (55.3%, La Maison du Whisky, blended Scotch, Artist #11, Pentalogy, 966 bottles, 2021)

Compass Box 'Confidence' (55.3%, La Maison du Whisky, blended Scotch, Artist #11, Pentalogy, 966 bottles, 2021) Three stars
Another blended scotch. Perhaps did they manage to carbon-copy those old Sandy Macnabs this time? Colour: straw. Nose: a little more in the style of the Orchard House, but still sootier and waxier, so closer to, err, Clynelish. I believe no one's ever going to complain. Nice whiffs of damp earth, mushrooms… With water: some linseed oil, plasticine, teak oil, even castor oil (perhaps)… Mouth (neat): there's a spirity hotness on the palate, a feeling of coffee liqueur and crazy Frappuccino (apologies)… Not a huge fan this time, let's seek the help of H2O. With water: rather better but I do seem to feel a thinness in the middle, perhaps from some grain. Starbucks' own whisky. Finish: same. Sweet, almost bonbony here and there. Comments: I thought the nose was absolutely wonderful, but I may have had to rather try this one before the Fortitude.

SGP:541 - 82 points.

Compass Box 'Wonder' (52.4%, La Maison du Whisky, blended Scotch, Artist #11, Pentalogy, 384 bottles, 2021)

Compass Box 'Wonder' (52.4%, La Maison du Whisky, blended Scotch, Artist #11, Pentalogy, 384 bottles, 2021) Five stars
Colour: copper amber. Nose: oh! A coastal waxiness, smoked and chalked. A little old-school once again, and just totally superb at this point. Oysters, pipe tobacco, engine oil, kelp, beeswax, chalk… It is all perfect. With water: broths, fermented sauces, amontillados, game… Mouth (neat): overdrive engaged and no grains in sight. Citron and grapefruit liqueurs, olives, oysters and clams, black earth, cigar tobacco, a little fermented soy sauce… With water: please call the Anti-Blend-o-porn Brigade (indeed, a first). Finish: long yet fresh and almost refreshing. Tiny herbs chiming in, and aniseed, fennel, caraway… Bitterer black tea in the aftertaste, as often. Comments: very traditional Compass Box, whose main formula, as I was understanding it, used to be "great + great = best". The name 'Wonder' was not usurped here, it is a luminous 'blend'.

SGP:563 - 91 points.

I'll be super-hard to go on after that one, so perhaps one more and that'll be it…

Compass Box 'Ethereal' (49%, for La Maison du Whisky's 65th Anniversary, blended malt, 2430 bottles, 2021)

Compass Box 'Ethereal' (49%, for La Maison du Whisky's 65th Anniversary, blended malt, 2430 bottles, 2021) Five stars
Younger malt 17 and older malt 26 yo. In Scotch you'd say this is a 17, in brandy a 20.5 ((17+26)/2), and in rum a 41 years old (17+26). Joking – quite. Colour: straw. Nose: classic Compass Box, really, fresh and coastal. Lemons, limes, seawater, oysters, vanilla, sunflower oil, camphor. I know this is a new bottling but I do have the impression that I've tried this before, and several times. Lemon tarte with meringue, sprinkled with peated whisky and a little mezcal. Mouth: rather on tart and bitterish fruits for starters, then on seawater, just lemons, kippers, cough syrup, more mezcal, olive oil, a little tar, smoked fish and a touch of high-concentration manuka honey. Finish: when smoky bitterness is an asset. Fernet Branca, Underberg, a feeling of slate, oysters, bitter oranges, manzanilla… Comments: let's forget that this is 'just a blend' and do it justice. The 49% vol. work really well, won't they become the new 46?

SGP:565 - 90 points.

I'm ueberglad to notice that Compass Box are in full form; and that they still manage to source great juices. By the way, I would suppose that when you're using a component ex-blending stock that had been sold to brokers or blenders as a 'blend' while it was single malt, just to disallow the use of the original brand name, your own blended malt will become a blended Scotch.

 

November 1, 2021


Whiskyfun

Little Duos, today ex-barrel Ardbeg

Between the new Bentley and the opportunity to have some kind of hot chowder with local sausage and a dram at the Old Kiln Café with friends, I know what I'd choose and that sure wouldn't have four wheels and a very lousy carbon footprint. We'll go independent-Glenmo-era Ardbeg this time, we might have some newer OBs later on. We'll see, there are so many new whiskies…

Ardbeg

Ardbeg 2001/2021 (46.6%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, bourbon barrel, cask #348, 155 bottles)

Ardbeg 2001/2021 (46.6%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, bourbon barrel, cask #348, 155 bottles) Five stars
Ardbeg made under new owners Glenmorangie plc. before they had sold on to LVMH who had outbidden Pernod in or around 2004. But enough hi-flyin' finance… Colour: light gold. Nose: but naturally, fish oils, tar, tyres, lemons and crushed bitter almonds. Look how life is simple! Mouth: I'm realising that this more or less bears the age of the first stunning 1970s single casks, and that it's got a similar kind of impact on us. Extraordinary fatness, earthiness, herbalness, tarriness, lemonness and lochness (surely the lousiest joke ever on this wee website, I know I need to apologise but this wee 'beg just put me in a great mood). The most striking aspect here is that it is 'one'. Love the fattish tarry side and yet the light, almost refreshing coastal lemonness. Great combination, pretty 'obvious'. Finish: long, rather sublime. Balance is absolutely perfect and I'm even finding roasted pine nuts in the aftertaste, of which I could wolf down half a ton without blinking an eye. Comments: the only problem with the great Ardbegs is that, think about it, you can only have your very first one once (really, diving to new lows, S.) A superb cask, Ardbeg is alive!
SGP:467 - 92 points.

Wait, ite Missa non est…

Ardbeg 21 yo 1999/2020 (58.2%, Kingsbury for Club Qing Hong Kong, bourbon barrel)

Ardbeg 21 yo 1999/2020 (58.2%, Kingsbury for Club Qing Hong Kong, bourbon barrel) Five stars
The names Ardbeg and Kingsbury together mean a lot in whisky geekery. This was already whisky made by pre-LVMH Glenmorangie. A little story while we're here, I remember we hated it when we first flew to the Distillery after LVMH had bought it, I believe that was for Feis 2005. They were flying a French flag over the Distillery – so much for our 'holidays'! Colour: straw. Nose: 21 yo, that reminds me of 'that' Committee release! Anyway, this is an even purer, less tarry/fattish style of Ardbeg, more on sea elements, kelp, oysters, menthol, with a little tabasco, branches and roots, wild carrots, then plasticine and paraffin, drawing gum, brake fluid… Actually, there's a wonderful complexity here, despite the rather high strength. A little less 'immediate' than the 2001, perhaps. With water: oh, tarred bandages and cold sorrel soup! How Ardbeg is that? Mouth (neat): oh, peppers plus camphor, salty vegetables, smoky oils, more plasticine, 'almond' glue (Coccoina), hints of paprika (certainly goulash), limoncello, a little icing sugar… A rather restless Ardbeg when water's not been added yet. With water: I believe the cask had been a little less active than that of the 2001. Some stunning honey coming through now – honey in Ardbeg? Rather honeydew, in act or fir honey. Stunning indeed. Finish: long, resinous, lemony, very elegant. Cough syrup and a little pink pepper in the aftertaste. Szechuan pepper. Comments: I just could not tell you which one I liked best; I'd need a double-magnum of each to be able to make-up my mind. What makes you think that's wishful thinking?
SGP:557 - 92 points.

Really, tasting some moderately-oaked well-aged Ardbegs is not unlike going back see Botticelli at the Offices or Rothko at the MoMA.

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

 

 

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

October 2021

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Karuizawa 38 yo 'Ruby Geisha' (54.1%, OB for Elixir Distillers and The Whisky Exchange, sherry, cask #7582, 223 bottles, 2021) - WF94

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Laphroaig 'Old Scotch Whisky' (20 under proof, OB, early 1960s - WF95

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
None

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Versailles/Enmore 30 yo 1990/2021 (54.2%, Greenheart Collection, Guyana, 235 bottles)  - WF92

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Glengoyne 19 yo 1996/2016 (55%, Cadenhead, Wine Cask, Château 'Lafitte', 240 bottles) - WF70

October 2021 - part 2 <--- November 2021 - part 1 ---> November 2021 - part 2


 

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Ardbeg 2001/2021 (46.6%, OB for Wu Dram Clan, bourbon barrel, cask #348, 155 bottles)

Ardbeg 21 yo 1999/2020 (58.2%, Kingsbury for Club Qing Hong Kong, bourbon barrel)

Compass Box 'Wonder' (52.4%, La Maison du Whisky, blended Scotch, Artist #11, Pentalogy, 384 bottles, 2021)

Compass Box 'Ethereal' (49%, for La Maison du Whisky's 65th Anniversary, blended malt, 2430 bottles, 2021)

Bushmills 32 yo 1989/2021 'Port Cask' (50.1%, OB, for LMDW, Ireland, 205 bottles)

Waterford 'Luna 1.1' (50%, OB, Ireland, biodynamic, 2021)

Hampden 19 yo 2000+2001/2021 'JMH' (55.4%, Rum Sponge, refill barrels, 420 bottles)

Finest Jamaican Rum 25 yo (50%, Duckhammers/Wu Dram Clan, 164 bottles, 2021)

Petite Champagne 1973 (50.6%, Jean Grosperrin, L803, +/-2021)

Maison Prunier 'Lot 51' (58%, The Purist Belgium, Grande Champagne, 42 bottles, 2021)

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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