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September 2013 - part 2 <--- October 2013 - part 1 ---> October 2013 - part 2

 

October 14, 2013


Whiskyfun

Laphroaig until we succumb

No new Ardbegs, very few Lagavulins, even Coal Ila seems to be getting scarcer (yes, relatively), so we have to rely on Laphroaig or on new cats Port Charlotte or Kilchoman to have our fix of new peaty Ileachs these days. Today it's going to be Laphroaig. Let's see how far we can go...

Laphroaig 'QA Cask' (40%, OB, travel retail, 100cl, 2013)

Laphroaig 'QA Cask' (40%, OB, travel retail, 100cl, 2013) Two stars I've been procrastinating with this double-matured baby, I have to say the mention of 'warm vanilla' on a bottle of Laphroaig was really scaring me. Colour: gold. Nose: very, very discreet, as if the glass would be two metres away. Now, it's kind of pleasant, very light, apparently quite smooth and rounded, and I don't even get much of the dreaded vanilla, which is to Scotch what sugar is to Coca-Cola in my opinion (no we're not talking caramel). And I do get some nice whiffs of seawater and garden bonfire. So yeah, I think this is nice, just very light. A whispering Laphroaig. Mouth: woosh! Good arrival but there's almost no middle. Very frustrating! A little honeydew, vanilla indeed, sweet liquorice, drops of seawater and that's pretty all. Finish: short but clean. Brine and smoked apple juice. Comments: Laphroaig's Blasda? Not bad of course but this is frustratingly weak and flat. I wouldn't have kept 'The most richly flavoured of all Scotch Whiskies' line on the cardboard tube - and I like the regular 10 way better, even at 40% vol. SGP:334 - 74 points.

Let's hope we'll have more luck with...

Laphroaig 'PX Cask' (48%, OB, travel retail, 100cl, 2013)

Laphroaig 'PX Cask' (48%, OB, travel retail, 100cl, 2013) Three stars It doesn't say finished but that it's 'enjoyed a final subtle maturation' in Pedro Ximenez casks. Ha, semantics! Colour: gold. Nose: starts a little rubbery but that goes away and presto. What's sure is that I like this one much better than the QA, despite the finishing. It's certainly more Laphroaiggy, with quite some kelp, beach sand, tarry ropes, seashells, notes of bicycle inner tube (not quite the same thing as plain rubber) and liquorice. What it's lacking a bit is the medicinal side, but I'm happy about the fact that the wine remains kind of unobtrusive. Mouth: the PX's sweetness and the very obvious raisiny side do seem to cope with the distillate, there's almost a feeling of rum finish rather than PX. Nice touches of blood oranges, then liquorice allsorts and a little leather and tobacco, then more cherries and tar. It's also a notch more medicinal than on the nose (drops of cough syrup). Finish: of medium length, a little bittersweet (Chinese sauce, the sweet one for dim-sums, you know). Curious notes of black olives in the aftertaste. Comments: a pretty fine Laphroaig that seems to have survived the odd treatment. SGP:546 - 82 points.

Time to have the natural ones, don't you think?

Laphroaig 2005/2013 (56.9%, Svenska Eldvatten, barrel, 186 bottles)

Laphroaig 2005/2013 (56.9%, Svenska Eldvatten, barrel, 186 bottles) Four stars and a half Indeed, this is very young. Colour: white wine. Nose: this is obviously very distillate-forward and, once again, I cannot not think of some high-end very smoky mezcal blanco. Or gentian and almond oil... The wood has already filtered out the naughty components but the spirit remained beautifully naked. And what spirit it is! 'A walk on the beach on Islay while someone is burning seaweed'. With water: it's the mercurochrome that comes out more. These noses make you anti-septic ;-). Mouth (neat): same plus plenty of lemon and bandages. Wonderful green/blue tea (best wu-long?) and just touches of kiwi and grapefruit. With water: a little more sweetness. Lemon honey? Finish: long, saltier again, still sweet, citrusy, coastal, medicinal, smoky... Yes, Laphroaiggy. Comments: proof that young whisky (when it's a great distillate, especially when peated) doesn't need much oak and/or wine. It doesn't even need to hide its young age if you ask me. SGP:457 - 89 points. (I was even tempted to go to 90.)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2013 (59.1%, The First Editions, refill hogshead, 292 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2013 (59.1%, The First Editions, refill hogshead, 292 bottles) Five stars This very good wee bottler really impressed me with their new Jura the other day. Colour: straw. Nose: more maturity than in the 2005, obviously. In this situation more maturity doesn't obligatorily mean 'better', rather different styles and profiles. So this is rather rounder and mellower, with a little more vanilla and brioche, while the smoke's a little gentler and the fruits a little more 'active'. It remains wonderful, with again a little mezcal. Some mezcal people claim their output resembles whiskies from Islay but it could be that it's the other way around. Oh, forget about that gibberish. With water: ink and mint? Mouth: mellow? Of course not, this is sharp, zesty, 'accurate', very lemony and briny. It's almost smoked lemon juice with a dash of salt. I also enjoy these wee hints of tangerines that pop out from time to time. With water: perfect, balanced, firm, fruitier, smoky, coastal... Finish: what? Cane juice??? Comments: it's not a very medicinal Laphroaig but it's as wonderful as Laphroaig can be at 15 years of age. SGP:557 - 90 points.

Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2013 (60.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #3, refill sherry butt, cask #700353, 527 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2013 (60.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #3, refill sherry butt, cask #700353, 527 bottles) Five stars Lovely back label! Or is it the front label? This is Signatory Vintage stock and Signatory always have/had great Laphroaigs. Colour: gold. Nose: this is interesting, there are obvious similarities with the 'First' and several differences that may well come from both the sherry and a more active wood. Well, maybe not because this is globally more medicinal and more on tar and pitch, even rubber. It's also very strong and do not want to burn my nostrils, so... With water: they converge. Maybe wee touches of fruitcake in this one, much wee...

Mouth (neat): too strong. Ethanol and mercurochrome at cask strength. With water: phew! Classic middle-aged Laphroaig, salty, smoky, citrusy, tarry and a weeeee tad more medicinal again. One or two spoons of orange marmalade (per 100 litres of whisky). Finish: long, with maybe a little Demerara sugar? Cherry stem tea? Otherwise it's classic Laphroaig. Comments: really hard to beat, these 1998s... SGP:557 - 90 points.

Laphroaig 16 yo 1996/2013 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, ref DL10002, 323 bottles)

Laphroaig 16 yo 1996/2013 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, ref DL10002, 323 bottles) Four stars and a half This sweet little baby was bottled for La Maison du Whisky. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's a grassier, more mineral, narrower, more 'rieslingesque' Laphroaig than the 1998s. There's more mint, more camphor, lime, chalk, then grapefruits and citrons. It's actually a kind of great dry chenin, if you will. It's even a little floral, with honeysuckle and lilies of the valley. Not that narrow, after all... Mouth: this time it's frankly fruitier, starting with a slightly prickly fizziness (lemonade) and touches of grenadine, pineapples and oranges. Maybe mangos. It's smoky but not that smoky, and remains a little unusual over time. Excellent but curiously lightish and fruitier than expected. There's even a little bubblegum! Even jellybeans? Finish: of medium length, still fruity, this time with also a little honey and strawberry jam. Maybe one or two lavender sweets. Comments: as I said, it's unusually fruity and we aren't talking tropical fruits such as the ones that can be found in older Laphroaigs. Anyway, another very good one for sure, and the world needs variants (what?) SGP: 646 - 88 points.

I think we'll have a last one, these babies are quite heavy despite their zestiness...

Laphroaig 21 yo 1990/2011 (48.9%, High Spirits, cask #10868)

Laphroaig 21 yo 1990/2011 (48.9%, High Spirits, cask #10868) Five stars Not quite a new one but I think it's still available here and there. Not need to remind you that 1990 was a great 'vintage' at Laphroaig. Colour: white wine. Nose: it's a Laphroaig that's already quite mature, in the sense that it's not that smoky anymore but also that it became more complex. In a way, it reminds me of the highly drinkable official 30yo. More soot than straight smoke, more crushed olives than plain brine and more 'old tropical cordial' than plain citrus. Add a little brioche, light vanilla, a pinhead of mango chutney and a long-forgotten pre-war bottle of cough mixture. Well, I imagine. Also a little old tarry tea and, yes, a wee wet dog. A Chihuahua? Mouth: impeccable, on the same flavours and aromas except that it's bigger and firmer than expected. There's something smooth and round (orange cake?) but other than that, it's full of smoke, brine, pepper, cough syrup, lemon and smoked fish. Kippery indeed. Finish: long, rather more medicinal. More eucalyptus, for example. Funny praline and fudge in the aftertaste. Comments: it's bad whisky because it goes down too well. Complex. SGP:447 - 91 points.

Yeah well, I should really stop now, but is this Whiskyfun or not? Let's see if I can find something interesting in my wee library, such as an older vintage of Laphroaig... I think I found something...

Laphroaig 19 yo 1972/1991 (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection)

Laphroaig 19 yo 1972/1991 (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection) Five stars I think the Original Collection was meant to shelter 'lighter' bottlings (wrt the Authentic Collection) but I've already found many gems amongst the 'ACs'. Let's see... Colour: straw. Nose: bingo, 'transmuted peat'! It's akin to what can be found in the old tens (the infernal trio Filippi-Bonfanti-Cinzano) or in the first batches of the 10 Cask Strength (green stripe), that is to say a stunning blend of all tropical fruits, except that that mix is then smoked using peat, coal and tobacco. It's hard to describe (or I'm being very bad) but aficionados know what I'm talking about. So, it's great. Mouth: a.s.t.o.u.n.d.i.n.g. Bonfanti-esque indeed. An avalanche of tropical fruits (I won't list them all but passion fruits and mangos come first) plus soot, liquorice, kippers, some heavily smoked salmon and then just touches of ink and cardboard, which is the weakest part in fact. There are many other flavours but I can hear the anti-maltoporn brigade coming. Finish: I've seen (even) longer finishes but the smoke/tropical fruits combo is perfect. Liquid jam of the highest grade, with smoke and pepper. Comments: only the wee inky (and maybe soapy) side somewhere before the finish will prevent me from going even higher than... SGP:655 - 93 points.

(heartfelt thanks Franco and Marcel, keep rocking!)

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

 

 

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October 13, 2013


Whiskyfun

Two contrasting Glenallachie

There aren't many Glenallachies around but sometimes the indies issue some and there can be good surprises.

Glenallachie 16 yo 1995/2011 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, 295 bottles)

Glenallachie 16 yo 1995/2011 (50%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask, refill hogshead, 295 bottles) Two stars Colour: white wine. Nose: it's a very young one, the cask's been quite silent and lazy, which the colour suggested. Porridge, barley, cut grass, butter, apple juice and drops of kirsch, not much else. With water: the porridgy sides comes out more. Damp oatcakes and hints of mashed bananas. Maybe! Mouth (neat): apple and pear juice plus plum eau-de-vie. Extremely young and even almost bubblegumy, but the distillate is clean enough to make it kind of pleasant. Resembles many a young naked Speysider. With water: gets rather more interesting, even if it remains very simple. Apple crumble and a little white pepper. Finish: quite short, clean, on apples and barley sugar. Comments: pretty honest young naked malt whisky from Speyside. Not much else to say. SGP:441 - 75 points.

Glenallachie 1973/2013 (48.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask)

Glenallachie 1973/2013 (48.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask) Five stars Colour: gold. Nose: another world. Overripe fruits aplenty, apples, pears, even bananas, certainly guavas, all that being complemented by a wee medicinal touch that makes it more complex. We're rather talking camphor and eucalyptus. Maybe also mashed turnips and celeriac? I like this a lot. With water: that particular smell that I cherish, that starts with a b and that can be quite dangerous for your nose. Right, a beehive. Mouth (neat): superb! Wonderful tropical fruits, passion fruits, mangos, tangerines, grapefruits... Excuse me, but wow! And again, touches of eucalyptus, cough lozenges, then fresh walnuts. Lovely, really. With water (although water isn't needed): peeerfekkkt. More menthol, maybe a little chlorophyll... And more citrus. Finish: not very long, that maybe the only, very tiny flaw. Well, not quite a flaw. Leaves your palate as fresh as a baby's. Comments: very excellent. A bright obscure malt, if I may say so... Sadly, there are very few bottles, it's a micro-bottling by Maltbarn. SGP:641 - 91 points.

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

 

 

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October 11, 2013


Whiskyfun

Blends

Let's have a bag of blends today. Not much to add, really. I'm not against blends at all, some are excellent, it's just that I'm all for single malts.

Delilah's (40%, Compass Box, blend, 6,324 bottles, 2013)

Delilah's (40%, Compass Box, blend, 6,324 bottles, 2013) Three stars A seemingly experimental blend bottled for 'Mike Miller’s legendary punk rock whisky bar in Chicago'. Well, 40% vol. may not be exactly 'punk rock' but let's see... Colour: hay. Nose: it's rather smoother and easier/fruitier than Compass Box's Clynelish-fueled blends. There are apples, raspberries, gooseberries, pears and cherries, then a wee earthy touch, fern, moss... It's all light but less malty/nutty/toasty than most commercial blends. In a way, it's a very fresh blend. Mouth: good, not weak, with 'ideas' of young Aberlour and/or Longmorn. Apple and cherries again, some barley sugar and then more maple syrup and vanilla from some active oak. Also touches of tinned pineapples. Finish: with good length, clean and fruity. A little more honey and sugar in the aftertaste. Comments: it's funny how this baby's both light and big. Pretty paradoxical! Now we may need a bigger 'Max's Kansas City' bottling, Compass Box could even hire Cherry Vanilla (google is you friend) to promote it ;-). Anyway, I liked this very sweet and very easy blend. SGP:630 - 81 points.

... While we're at Compass Box's, these two babies were bottled in September this year...

Great King St. 'Experimental Batch 00-V4' (43%, Compass Box, blend, sherry, 3439 bottles, 2013)

Great King St. 'Experimental Batch 00-V4' (43%, Compass Box, blend, sherry, 3439 bottles, 2013) Four stars Colour: hay. Nose: immediately more attractive - to a malt drinker - than Delilah's, it's fresher, maltier, with more mint and herbs, oranges, citrons, lemon curd, meadow flowers... It's got a nose of limoncello at times, which is very enjoyable in this context. Beautiful nose, we're extremely far from 'commercial' blends. After ten minutes, we're all on ripe peaches. Never nosed any whisky that was so much on peach! Mouth: a bigger, straighter, more 'nervous' Delilah's. The sherry remains discreet, it's rather a whole fruit salad with just a few sultanas. Green bananas, a little dill, lemon, oranges... All good. Great balance and no 'graininess'. Finish: good length, good freshness, good fruits. More lemon curd and peaches. Comments: an impressive fresh and very fruity blend. Loved the peaches. SGP:641 - 87 points.

Great King St. 'Experimental Batch TR-06' (43%, Compass Box, blend, 3805 bottles, 2013)

Great King St. 'Experimental Batch TR-06' (43%, Compass Box, blend, 3805 bottles, 2013) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: Islay. Laphroaig. Maybe other, slightly rounder peaters as well. Paraffin, lamp oil, hay, seaweed, maybe whelks. Probably whelks. Not against that. Beaches after peaches, haha. Mouth: very peaty indeed, although less Islayish than on the nose. Smoke, something slightly burnt (liquorice sauce or something like that?), cough lozenges, some salt... And a feeling of seawater. It's fun to find a peaty profile that's quite different from any known peated single malt. I'm wondering if the peaches that we found in the other batch aren't here as well. What's this peachy peater again? Finish: maybe a notch short, but it's all cleanly peaty. Echoes of the 'regular' Laphroaig 10. Comments: much to my liking, it's just that I enjoyed the other batch even more. Maybe the 43% vol. work better with an unpeated whisky? SGP:445 - 85 points.

Since we were talking about 'commercial' blends, maybe we could try to compare the CBs with this very famous one...

Chivas Regal 18 yo (40%, OB, +/-2013)

Chivas Regal 18 yo (40%, OB, +/-2013) Three stars and a half This is a first, we never tasted any 'wide batch' Chivas on WF, only antique 12s or high-end batches such as the 25. A Malt Maniacs thing, I guess... Colour: gold. Nose: nice and appealing, even charming. Very easy combination of honey, overripe fruits, flowers (roses) and touches of leather, then more cornflakes, oranges and sweet gingerbread. Irrefutable and irreproachable (what?) but with large batch blends, it's always on the palate that things go wrong in my experience. Mouth: well, not quite. Starts with a very sweet maltiness combined with honey and jams, raisins, dried pears, orange liqueur and roasted nuts, before earthier touches emerge and prevents it from becoming too sweet. Well composed but it remains a very sweet and smooth blend. The Compass Boxes are really huge in comparison. Finish: short to medium, more on oranges, pastis (but Pernod or Ricard? ;-)) and fruitcake. That's nice. Comments: so easy, so easy... High quality for sure. SGP:541 - 83 points.

All right, let's have a last blend, another 18 years old...

Blend Malt 18 yo 1995/2013 (45%, Samaroli, cask #91)

Blend Malt 18 yo 1995/2013 (45%, Samaroli, cask #91) Four stars Yes we're cheating, this is a blended malt. It's even quite intriguing as it comes from a single cask and as it bears a vintage, which is unusual. Colour: straw. Nose: a big one again but it's both fresh and a little austere after the Chivas, it's actually quite grassy and herbal. Apple peelings? Maybe a little shy but let's check the palate... Mouth: ah yes, now we're talking! What wasn't in the nose is on the palate, with a Clynelishy (?) profile, lemon pie, beeswax, white pepper, the merest hint of crystallised tangerines, maybe drops of olive oil, touches salt, some smoked salmon... All much to my liking! Finish: long, fresh, salty, lemony and smoky... Comments: excellent, really. It's probably not a nosing whisky at all but the palate is wonderfully zesty. SGP:353 - 86 points.

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

 

 

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Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Andy Sheppard. Track: Touch. So sweet... This goes well with a good blend. Please visit Andy Sheppard's website and buy his music...
 
 

October 10, 2013


Whiskyfun

Auchentoshan 12 vs. Virgin

Today I suppose we'll be going light, light, light with two young official Auchentoshans, one being the regular 12yo and the other one the new possibly-oak-doped 'Virgin' version.

Auchentoshan 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2013)

Auchentoshan 12 yo (40%, OB, +/-2013) Three stars The latest 12 we tried was a circa 2008 version. It was fine and fair and was showing good progress (WF 79) after the pretty bland earlier bottlings. Colour: gold. Nose: I don't find much to say, apart from 'this is nice'. There's touches of rum, certainly sultanas, maybe a little peanut butter, some vanilla, a little honey, dandelions and then a full bag of overripe apples. Really easy and pleasing to the nose. Mouth: ah yes, I remember, last time I already thought this was pretty big whisky considering it's A. a Lowlander and B. bottled at 40% vol. I like these notes of lemon cake, orange blossom water (or Oriental pastries), good artisan cider, fresh walnuts and then the maltiness. Sure the middle is weaker, but it never gets flat. Finish: moderate length but it's clean and malty. Cornflakes, then even touches of salt. Comments: I think they do this baby right. One more point wrt last time I tried the official 12. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Auchentoshan 'Virgin Oak' (46%, OB, 2013)

Auchentoshan 'Virgin Oak' (46%, OB, 2013) Two starsMore and more new oak in Scotch, I had thought we ought to save the forests? ;-) Colour: full gold. Nose: mixed feelings. On the one hand, it's very sexy chocolaty/vanilla-ed whisky with a good measure of maple syrup; on the other hand, it's maybe lost its Scotchness and we're rather wandering through Kentucky. Ginger cake, pinesap, corn syrup, cappuccino, coconut, plum pie... It's actually nice but the sweet oak is really forward. Mouth: a little less sweetly bourbony on the palate in the arrival, then it's the oak's bitter spices that seize control. A feeling of overinfused green tea, a lot of ginger and capsicum, some bee propolis and quite some green pepper. Almost an oak infusion. I had thought this baby would be much sweeter and rounder, Nadurra-style if you will. There are fruity tones, though, around bubblegum and pear drops. Finish: long, green, quite bitter. Comments: not my cup of malt at all, this is too plankish for my taste. Scottish bourbon on the nose, Scottish Kräuterlikör on the palate. I liked the Valinch - and the 12 - much, much better. To each his own! SGP:371 - 71 points.

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

 

 

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October 9, 2013


Whiskyfun

One Dalmore and one that's
fifteen times cheaper

We're having the brand new Dalmore today. I hereby swear upon the fact that I'll try to focus on the whisky and forget about the brand's pompous current marketing, cross my heart (and hope to die).

Dalmore 25 yo (42%, OB, 2013)

Dalmore 25 yo (42%, OB, 2013) Five stars So this is brand new. Not too sure it's even out yet, but it's most probably finished. Haha. At 42% vol., the price of this bottle would make even a little girl who just lost her puppy laugh (more than 700 euros a bottle). Colour: orangey amber. Nose: this is the problem with these insane oldish Dalmores, they're undisputedly wonderful whiskies. If you like blood oranges and fruit ganaches, you'll love this. Ad raspberries too, and milk chocolate, and peonies, and rose water, and espresso coffee, and tangerine jam, and Havana cigars... Crikey, most sadly, what a beautiful nose! Mouth: blimey! There's maybe a slightly excessive oakiness in the arrival (there!) but after just one second, this baby starts to unfold like if you entered a jam factory in Provence. Or Andalucia, if you prefer. Raspberries again, very vivid notes of cassis, cherries, oranges as always, then liquorice and coffee, herbal teas, touches of capsicum, juniper berries... Drat! Finish: and it's even quite long, maybe a notch astringent at this point but the jammy side remains there. Bitter oranges, a little bitter tea, liquorice. Comments: I hate it that these ridiculously expensive new Dalmores remain so good...  What could I possibly add? SGP:661 - 90 points.

Dalmore 2000/2012 (53.4%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 12035, 290 bottles)

Dalmore 2000/2012 (53.4%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 12035, 290 bottles) Four stars I agree I may have had to try this one before the older official, but as the strength is much higher, I decided to play it safe. Colour: gold. Nose: more oomph of course, a bigger grassiness, more chocolate and rather less fresh and 'jammy' fruits than in the official 25, although the blood oranges and the raspberries are well there. Wee hints of orange squash, Fanta... With water: works very well. Cedar wood, soft spices, cherry stem tea, pipe tobacco, a little earth, even mushrooms... Swims like a champ and becomes very complex. Mouth (neat): very powerful, even a little prickly, starting on oranges and green peppercorns. Some chlorophyll, tea, ginger, a lot of orange zests, then more apple peelings. It's pretty rough. With water: a miracle! Less green spices and many more fruits, oranges again, white cherries, dried pears... Having aid that, it remains relatively spicy. Finish: long, now with more of Dalmore's usual chocolate. Oranges again in the aftertaste. Comments: another excellent one, it's just that it really needs water. SGP:561 - 87 points.

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback
PJ
PJ

 

 

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Block Today: BLUES. Performer: Anni Piper. Track: Come on in my kitchen. Please visit Anni Piper's website and buy her music...
 
 

October 8, 2013


Whiskyfun

Tasting the new official Tormore

We've had some very good indie Tormore not so long ago (that was on October 1), time to try the brand new officials.

Tormore 14 yo (43%, OB, batch #A13Q8, 2013)

Tormore 14 yo (43%, OB, batch #A13Q8, 2013) Three stars The latest official 12 'blue label' was a little underwhelming (WF 72), I'm sure this will be more to my liking. Colour: gold. Nose: very malty, coffee-ish and chocolaty, with touches of wood smoke. Then roasted nuts and a little honey, warm brioche, toasted bread, maybe a little chlorophyll... So it's all very 'toasted', which is pleasant. Mouth: easy malty profile, it reminds me of many a good blend, I have to say. Café latte, maple syrup (big here), pecan pie, oranges marmalade and candy sugar. Ultra-classic malty dram. Finish: surprisingly long and always very malty. Chicory, maybe ripe peaches. Comments: indeed, ultra-classic malty profile, certainly more to my liking (well, simply better) than earlier youngish official Tormores. We're not talking about the brilliant old 'white labels'. Exactly 80 points in my book. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Tormore 16 yo (48%, OB, batch #81307, 2013)

Tormore 16 yo (48%, OB, batch #81307, 2013) Three stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: same style as the 14, just bigger and maybe a notch sappier. Same big notes of roasted nuts, pecans, peanuts, maybe chestnuts, then coffee and dark chocolate, hints of fresh putty and marzipan... Ovaltine? So same nice style again. Mouth: the 14 with more oomph, more orange marmalade, funny touches of tequila (I don't think I'm dreaming) and wee notes of prickly mustard. Maybe a few drops of plum eau-de-vie? Good body, the strength is perfect. Finish: really long and even maltier, with more spices in the aftertaste. Cinnamon, cloves, white pepper, a little ginger. Comments: a lot of coffee and malt again. SGP:451 - 83 points.

Tormore 28 yo 1984/2013 (52.5%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams)

Bonus: Tormore 28 yo 1984/2013 (52.5%, The Nectar of the Daily Drams) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: as usual with the indies, this is closer to the spirit, with more fruits (greengages, plums in general, Seville oranges) and waxes and rather less nuts, coffee and toasted bread. It's very malty, though, and after ten minutes these notes of putty and chlorophyll do emerge, together with a little menthol, capsicum, white pepper... We're getting closer to the official 16 but this older one's more complex and less 'straightly malty'. With water: more oranges, zests, 'ideas' of plasticine. Mouth (neat): we're frankly above the officials, this one has more body and starts with playful notes of coconut and vanilla plus spices from the oak, around ginger and nutmeg. Very nice kumquats and then even more spices and bitter chocolate. With water: excellent. Calvados, ginger and cinnamon cake. Finish: long, with more zests and cinnamon. Mint-flavoured tea. Comments: a big spicy Tormore that really likes water. Excellent selection. SGP:561 - 87 points.

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

 

 

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October 7, 2013


Whiskyfun

Five recent bottlings of Jura

I think Jura's underrated. Its restless neighbours the Islayers tend to overshadow its malts but make no mistake, there are many gems to be found 'near the little palm trees'...

Isle of Jura 9 yo 2003/2013 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask #9305)

Isle of Jura 9 yo 2003/2013 (46%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, cask #9305) Two stars and a half Another one from this series of ultra-young malts. Should we expect more pears and porridge? Colour: pale white wine. Nose: indeed. Apples, pears, some bitterish grass and a good deal of porridge and other boiled cereals. Also bubblegum and liquorice allsorts as well as very distant whiffs of coal smoke. Near-newmake, but I find this pleasant. Mouth: it's almost barley eau-de-vie, with a good fruitiness and a little pepper from the oak. All that works pretty well, it's a good distillate. Simple malty pleasures... Finish: not that short, now with touches of lemon. Sweet barley and pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: good baby malt whisky, a kind of vodka with more depth and body. Very distillery-driven, obviously. SGP:631 - 79 points.

Jura 18 yo 1995/2013 (52.8%, The First Editions, refill hogshead, 288 bottles)

Jura 18 yo 1995/2013 (52.8%, The First Editions, refill hogshead, 288 bottles) Four stars and a half I already had a sip of this new baby at Whisky & More Lausanne and loved it. Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar to the 2003 but it's much more mature, obviously. It's got this old-Highlands profile that's so loveable, with a little soot and smoke beyond the grassy fruitiness, then many herbs and some high-end green tea. Fresh mint, also some warm brioche and bread. Pretty complex! With water: bread and porridge coming through. After all, this is distilled grain ;-). Baker's yeast, leaven... It's all very natural. Mouth (neat): lovely arrival, wonderfully fruity, with also some wax and peppercorns. A lot happening, I especially like the big notes of oranges, green apples and quinces, as well as the saltiness that plays with your tongue. Wonderful body! With water: excellent, pure barley, salted caramel (Werther's) and hazelnut liqueur. Finish: long, grassier. Liquorice in the aftertaste. Comments: absolutely excellent 'eau-de-vie d'orge'. SGP:541 - 89 points.

Jura 23 yo 1989/2013 'Heavily Peated' (56.5%, Signatory Vintage, bourbon barrel, casks #30706+30709, 211 bottles)

Jura 23 yo 1989/2013 'Heavily Peated' (56.5%, Signatory Vintage, bourbon barrel, casks #30706+30709, 211 bottles) Four stars I don't think Jura used to make peated malt in those years but I may be mistaken. Now, quite a few ex-Islay casks used to be re-filled at Jura and could impart some pretty heavy smoky/peaty tones to the gentler Jura. These two casks may have been some of these. Colour: straw. Nose: it's not quite 'heavily' peated in my opinion, but peated it is. So yes, peat smoke, then a little wet cardboard, newspapers, soot, cider apples and just a few strawberries that do 'lift' the whole. Maybe also peaches? There's something funnily Ardmore-ish. With water: some camphor and eucalyptus, then wee notes of Swiss cheese. Mouth (neat): ah yes, it's really peaty. There could be a good 30 litres of Laphroaig in this vatting since it's quite medicinal as well as very spicy. A feeling of black pepper and mercurochrome, then lemon and grapefruit. This should be very tricky at any blind tasting session! With water: Jura's big barleyness is more obvious and manages to tame the peaty components. Maybe a little ink. Finish: long and much grassier, almost astringent. Loses one or two points here. Comments: a funny beast. I really liked it despite the harder finish. SGP:364 - 86 points.

Jura 30 yo 'Camas an Staca' (44%, OB, 2,500 bottles, 2013)

Jura 30 yo 'Camas an Staca' (44%, OB, 2,500 bottles, 2013) Five stars This is the brand new official. Colour: amber. Nose: shy and very complex after the big ones. You have to let it unfold, but then this baby's very rewarding, all around 'old leather', precious wood, herbal teas and tobacco. Just a few examples: rosehip tea, sandalwood, orange liqueur, mead, milk chocolate, old-style Camel cigarettes and cough syrup. Tends do become a little more herbal over time, with chamomile, hay, green cigars... It's all very complex. Mouth: excellent! Starts salty and tobacco-like, maybe just a notch too dry, but the development is quite splendid, with some black tea, more tobacco, walnuts, maybe a little mustard and curry, some slightly acidic coffee, touches of salted liquorice, orange blossom water, more salt... Finish: quite long and even saltier. As salty as the best manzanillas! More smoke in the aftertaste. Smoked salmon, tobacco, walnut liqueur. Comments: and it's not even that 'expensive'. Well, it is at +/-500 Euros, but W&M seem to have shown restraint here. I find this baby excellent. SGP:462 - 91 points.

Isle of Jura 35 yo 1976/2012 (51.3%, Jack Wiebers, Gentle Noses, cask #60006, 120 bottles)

Isle of Jura 35 yo 1976/2012 (51.3%, Jack Wiebers, Gentle Noses, cask #60006, 120 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: it's grassier, maltier and less sherried than the new official. Above all, it's much more medicinal. Camphor, eucalyptus, Kools (menthol cigarettes - but you knew that) and a pack of salmiak. After fifteen minutes, it's almost pure cough syrup. With water: more wood, as often, and more menthol as well. Maybe cannabis? Kumquats, orange liqueurs, baklavas... Mouth (neat): heavy and wonderful. Maybe a notch too extractive but what it has extracted is great, all around menthol and affiliated flavours. Pinesap, salmiak, citrons, Indian green mint sauce, resins... With water: careful with water! It could become a little drying. Finish: the oranges fight back, for a long time. After Eight thin mints. Now, the aftertaste's a little too dry for my taste. Comments: really, you'd think they've added cannabis to this cask. Nah, seriously, this is a good example of an excellent heavily mentholated malt whisky. Good 'heavy' wood. SGP:372 - 89 points.

(with thanks to Herbert)

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

 

 

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October 4, 2013


Whiskyfun

Tasting two Glen Scotia 1992 plus one

There's already been quite a lot of these 1992s by various indies in the last two or three years. Some have been really good but some could be a little dirty.

Glen Scotia 18 yo 1992/2010 (46%, Mo Òr Collection, first fill sherry butt, cask #6, 1076 bottles)

Glen Scotia 18 yo 1992/2010 (46%, Mo Òr Collection, first fill sherry butt, cask #6, 1076 bottles) Three stars and a half 46% is always perfect to start any session. They're big enough to stand the heavier cask strength versions that usually follow and do not make for a weak start. Colour: gold. Nose: oh yes it's a dirty one, and the sherry's meatiness does not make it any cleaner. There's this mustiness, all this leather, the Spanish ham (Iberico), old tools, metal polish, coal smoke, old cellar, exhaust fumes (if you're old enough, you may remember the two-stokes Kawasakis, H2 and such), old humidor... There are alos a few burnt matches but nothing serious. It's a very entertaining nose... Provided the palate is a little straighter! Let's check that... Mouth: yeah well, we have more or less the same. A lot of leather, it's like eating a whole brand new perfecto, I imagine. Also many bitter nuts, walnuts and almonds first, then we have hints of artichoke liqueur, chocolate, acidic coffee and lots of ashes. Extreme and strange but very funny. I cannot not think of some extreme bone dry Manzanilla. Finish: long, bitter, very walnutty. A coastal, salty side is growing in the aftertaste. Some cardboard too, perhaps. Comments: fun, very whacky stuff. SGP:362 - 83 points.

Glen Scotia 21 yo 1992/2013 (52.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 240 bottles)

Glen Scotia 21 yo 1992/2013 (52.2%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 240 bottles) Three stars This one came out last month. Colour: pale gold. Nose: as often, it's more blocked because of the higher strength. Not that it's mute, and some aromas that were to be found in the Mo Or are here too (leather and coal), but it's relatively shy for Glen Scotia. Quite some beer, though, ales and stouts. With water: paraffin, ink and lemon curd. A growing smokiness too (rather Suzuki this time, hehe). Mouth (neat): cough, cough... How bitter! This time its even bigger - more expressive, if you will - than the Mo Or but its very difficult whisky. Didn't they fill the cask with unsweetened Jaegermeister at full strength? Also a lot of bitter oranges. With water: I can tell because I had quite a few in the last weeks, it tastes like some smoky, grassy mezcal. Finish: same for a long time. Comments: what a beast! It's a little cleaner than the Mo Or because it isn't ex-sherry, but still... Very segmenting, I must say, and I won't score it too highly because of that. But, well, I like it. SGP:272 - 80 points.

And also (this baby just in)...

Glen Scotia 21 yo 1992/2013 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill barrel, ref DL9903, 240 bottles)

Glen Scotia 21 yo 1992/2013 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill barrel, ref DL9903, 240 bottles) Four stars and a half Since the Old Malt Cask range has gone with brother Stewart, the Old Particular is Fred Laing's new series that replaces it. I have to say I find the new retro design very smart. Colour: light gold. Nose: it's rather a fruitier, sleeker version of Glen Scotia, without much breadish notes. Well, there is a little ale but that's rather an asset. Oranges, cider apples, touches of tobacco, kumquats, some nice green/blue tea (wu-long)... All very nice. With water: more menthol comes out, as well as wilder earthy tones. Wet wool (right, sheep). Mouth (neat): starts like a good Chablis, I'd say. Something mineral and very pleasantly sharpish (green tea again), then a little chartreuse and bitter oranges. Oily mouth feel. With water: it's the barley that speaks out now, as well as more orange zests and custard. A touch of smoke. Finish: quite long, with a little more bitter almonds and dark chocolate. Comments: I'm impressed, this barrel had a lot to tell us. SGP:552 - 88 points.

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

 

 

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October 3, 2013


Whiskyfun

New Tullamore Dew vs. new Redbreast

The new Irish whiskeys are becoming more and more impressive in my little book, especially the ones that contain pot still whiskey, I think they're losing their excessive lightness (from a Scotch drinker's POV) while keeping their Irishness.

Tullamore Dew 'Phoenix' (55%, OB, 2013)

Tullamore Dew 'Phoenix' (55%, OB, 2013) Four starsAccording to the label this new baby was 'enriched in pot still' (not too sure about what that means, probably that it contains some pot still whiskey) and finished in 'old oloroso sherry cask'. It's a blend, said to be around 8 years old. Colour: full gold. Nose: starts with rather heavy notes of toasted oak before more fruits come through, as well as a little bubblegum. Raspberries, perhaps from the sherry, as well as touches of bananas and then overripe apples and pears. With water: the pot still character comes more to the front. Something slightly (and pleasantly) metallic. Mouth (neat): very sweet, all on a mix of apple juice, pears and vanilla fudge at first sips. A little more sweet sherry than in the nose, around raisins, then a light spiciness, with maybe a little sweet curry and cinnamon. Also tangerines. With water: becomes rounder and softer but the profile remains the same. Maybe a little more raisiny. Finish: not very long but these notes of sultanas are very pleasant. A little toasted oak again in the aftertaste. Comments: I think it's more or less Tullamore Dew 'Black' with more power. Now, I enjoy Tullamore Dew 'Black'. And excellent surprise, I think new owners William Grant are doing a great job with this old brand. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Redbreast 21 yo (46%, OB, single pot still, 2013)

Redbreast 21 yo (46%, OB, single pot still, 2013) Four stars and a half This new Redbreast, the oldest ever, does not come cheap at approx 180 €. Colour: full gold. Nose: typically Redbreast, with an avalanche of 'tropical Irish fruits'. Mainly mangos, passion fruits and pineapples, then golden sultanas. It remained very fresh despite the older age and displays neither too much spiciness nor an excessively vanilla-ed profile. Touches of toasted oak and pinesap come through as well but they remain discreet. Mouth: excellent, creamy, starting with a combination of marzipan and blood oranges, which works very well and is quite unusual. Goes on with a little mango chutney, dried figs, honeydew and a few slices of dried coconut but it never becomes 'pina-colada-ish', which isn't bad news. I also enjoy very much the hints of verbena and wormwood that keep it fresh and 'light'. Finish: medium length, rather smooth, never tea-ish despite the older age. The oranges are still there. Comments: I really enjoy the fact that there isn't too much oak, and the global freshness. Supplants the 12 CS as my favourite Redbreast and bizarrely, I find this 21 rather less oaky than the 15. SGP:641 - 89 points.

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

 

 

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October 2, 2013


Whiskyfun

Tasting three opposite Bowmore

I'm just back from Whisky Live Paris, which was, in my opinion, one of the best. It was the tenth edition and as is customary, a special bottling had been done for the event, a young sleek Bowmore. Excellent choice! Today we'll taste it along two new wine-matured officials for good measure. You may expect some contrasts...

Bowmore 13 yo 2000/2013 (54.1%, Signatory Vintage for Whisky Live Paris 10th Anniversary, hogshead, cask #1429, 286 bottles)

Bowmore 13 yo 2000/2013 (54.1%, Signatory Vintage for Whisky Live Paris 10th Anniversary, hogshead, cask #1429, 286 bottles) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: ultra-chiselled! 'Opening your bedroom's windows early in the morning on the shores of the isle of Islay.' Or something like that. Seawater, lemon juice and peat smoke in equal amounts. Nothing more, but you can't beat this. With water: as almost always with Bowmore, there's more humus, damp earth, farmyard... Mouth (neat): just 'yes!' Exactly right, on the same infernal trio, brine, lemon juice and a fairly ashy peat smoke. With water: citrus up, it becomes smoother. From lemon to pink grapefruits. Finish: good length, still chiselled. Comments: distillate-forward, my favourite way. Perfect statemental choice (what?) SGP:557 - 90 points.

Bowmore 10 yo 'The Devil's Cask' (56.9%, OB, first fill sherry, 2013)

Bowmore 10 yo 'The Devil's Cask' (56.9%, OB, first fill sherry, 2013) Four stars and a half Colour: reddish amber. Nose: the opposite of the 2000 and yet it remains very 'Bowmore'. The combination of the sherry with a very smoky late-period Bowmore creates a feeling of gunflints, tobacco and zwetschke jam (plums) that's very peculiar. Then it becomes meatier, with quite some bacon and ham as well as a little strawberry jam. We're far from 'old style' sherry, this is more multilayered than 'integrated'. With water: more spices, around ginger, a little thuja wood, molecules ending with -ol, tar... Mouth (neat): devilish indeed, massively ashy and tarry, it's almost like a blend of strong lapsang souchong with plum juice. With water: more tar, more ashes, more smoke, less plums. Finish: long and very tarry. The wine's fruits have been defeated. A little ginger again in the aftertaste, hinting at European oak but it may well not be European oak. Comments: as a 'Bowmore', I feel it's got a little too much sweet sherry. As a variant, I think that worked very, very well. Quite spectacular. SGP:657 - 88 points.

Bowmore 23 yo 1989/2013 'Port Cask Matured' (50.8%, OB)

Bowmore 23 yo 1989/2013 'Port Cask Matured' (50.8%, OB) Four stars Colour: orangey amber. Nose: this baby's having a little trouble after the previous ones, the smoke being more discreet. We're actually much more on red fruits, plums, cherries, raspberries... In the background, more farmy (hints of cowstable) elements but very little lavender or violets if any. Mellower than expected. With water: once again it's struggling a bit after the big young ones. I seem to find a little geranium water, maybe rosehip or hawthorn. Mouth (neat): does smoked mulled wine exist? Or smoked fruitcake? Oranges, sweet wine, blackberries, more plums, cinnamon, cloves, star anise... With water: Seville oranges and more honey now. Orange blossom honey? Finish: medium length. More and more oranges, a little pepper, more cinnamon... Mulled wine indeed. Comments: a good one but maybe only for Christmas time. I liked the younger ones better. SGP:555 - 85 points.

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

 

 

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October 1, 2013


Whiskyfun

Tormore first fill bourbon vs. sherry

Tormore can be very fruity while remaining relatively fat - or maybe it's the other way around. Many enthusiasts remember the old 10 white label with tears in their eyes.

Tormore 14 yo 1998/2013 (50%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive for the Whisky Mercenary, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #1586, 277 bottles)

Tormore 14 yo 1998/2013 (50%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive for the Whisky Mercenary, first fill bourbon barrel, cask #1586, 277 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: indeed, it's one of these relatively fatty/waxy Tormores, while at the fruit department we find a lot of apples of all kinds. Behind that, some hay, paraffin, waxed papers, and a very pleasant greenness, maybe from newish oak. Between green tea and wormwood. There's some vanilla and a little pineapple too but it does not scream 'hey, I'm here!' as much as in other modern 1st fill bottlings. With water: it's the fresh fruitiness that becomes louder. Fruit salad with a little honey and quite some oranges. Also roses. Mouth (neat): a bit of biting oak in the arrival (quite some white pepper), then apples unfolding - so to speak - both acidic and sweet. It's powerful whisky! Then more grapefruits, tonic water and, again, green tea. With water: some tropical fruits emerging. This baby swims like a champ. Finish: clean and quite long. A fruit salad with a little cinnamon. Comments: I was afraid water would let the oak come out more, it's the opposite that happens. SGP:651 - 87 points.

Tormore 1988/2012 (55.4%, Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #MoS 12043)

Tormore 1988/2012 (55.4%, Malts of Scotland, sherry butt, cask #MoS 12043) Four stars I liked sister cask #12041 quite a lot (WF 87). Colour: amber. Nose: well, this baby's got nothing to do with the 1998, it's much more tertiary and herbal/gamy. I find a lot of lovage and liquorice, tobacco (including a newly opened pack of menthol cigarettes - as far as I can remember) and then rather dry kinds of raisins, not too sweet or aromatic. With water: unusual. A lot of balsamic vinegar and maybe sage and bay-leaves. Loud chamomile as well, maybe a little church incense. Mouth (neat): very rich, oily, with bags of pepper and raisins, then caramelised apples and a little tobacco again (coming out of an untipped Gauloise!) Maybe a little pastis too. With water: more tobacco, this time with dark chocolate. Maybe black cherries too? Finish: long and pleasantly dry. Reminds me what some used to call 'dry' oloroso. Walnut wine and bitter herbal liqueurs in the aftertaste. Comments: not just the average sherry monster, this one's pleasantly different and, above everything, perfectly balanced. Not all sherry monsters are. Same score as the bourbon for me and, bizarrely, same SGP. SGP:651 - 87 points.

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

 

Whiskyfun fav of the month

September 2013

Favourite recent bottling:
Glenfarclas 1953/2013 'The Coronation' (51.1%, Specialty Drinks, crystal decanter, 60 bottles)  - WF 93

Favourite older bottling:
Clynelish 23 yo 1966/1989 (51.7%, Cadenhead for Nidaba, 90 bottles) - WF 97

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Ardbeg 'Uigeadail' (54.2%, OB, +/-2013)  - WF 92

 

 

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September 2013 - part 2 <--- October 2013 - part 1 ---> October 2013 - part 2


 

 

Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only

Bowmore 13 yo 2000/2013 (54.1%, Signatory Vintage for Whisky Live Paris 10th Anniversary, hogshead, cask #1429, 286 bottles)

Dalmore 25 yo (42%, OB, 2013)

Glenallachie 1973/2013 (48.9%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask)

Jura 30 yo 'Camas an Staca' (44%, OB, 2,500 bottles, 2013)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2013 (59.1%, The First Editions, refill hogshead, 292 bottles)

Laphroaig 15 yo 1998/2013 (60.1%, La Maison du Whisky, Artist #3, refill sherry butt, cask #700353, 527 bottles)

Laphroaig 21 yo 1990/2011 (48.9%, High Spirits, cask #10868)

Laphroaig 19 yo 1972/1991 (46%, Cadenhead, Original Collection)