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

       

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

 

October 14, 2021


Whiskyfun

Even more Highland Park

As usual, some disclosed, some secret. Let's proceed…
Read Hägar the Horrible! (Dik Browne) ->

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

Highland Park 15 yo 'Viking Heart' (44%, OB, 2021) Four stars
This is the new one that's bottled in some kind of yellow/white ceramic that may let some absent minded enthusiasts believe it is Advocaat. Or Bailey's. Quite. Looks like it is a permanent addition to the range. Colour: light gold. Nose: awesomely coastal, rather peatier, with oysters, seawater, grapefruits and lemon zests. Touches of cinchona and a little soot too, I would say it is clearly a modern, smokier Highland Park. We like these. Forgot to mention green oranges or even that eau-de-toilette that Hermès are making of them. I'm fond of this nose. Mouth: indeed, the peat was 'boosted'. This Highland Park has officially become a peaty whisky in my book, with a smokiness that's pretty much of Talisker level, in my opinion. A very good drop despite some seasoned sherry that's a little leafy, with lemons, bitter oranges, some cinchona and cinnamon, ginger tonic… Finish: medium, smoky, with some ginger, salt, and drops of cough syrup. Seawater. Comments: I would say the 'sherry' was a tad unnecessary and may get in the way, but other than that, I'm totally fond of this 'new' style.

SGP:454 - 86 points.

Highland Park 'Cask Strength Batch 2' (63.9%, OB, 2021)

Highland Park 'Cask Strength Batch 2' (63.9%, OB, 2021) Four stars
From sherry seasoned European and American oak casks. Sherry seasoned European oak can be tricky in my book, hope this won't have become too leafy or even leathery. Having said that, batch #1 of the C/S had been very good, in my opinion (WF 86). Colour: gold. Nose: not as smoky as the 15, rather more on sponge cake, caramel, fudge, butterscotch, stewed fruits or the trademark heather honey… With water: creamy honeyness and many stewed fruits and jams, especially our beloved quinces, also apples and pears. A perfect coastal side too, sea spray, even some iodine, mercurochrome, ointments… What's really great is that no clumsy sherry gets in the way, it's all well-integrated. Mouth (neat): I think I like it but I'm sure it is extremely strong. With water: more smoke and more coastalness. A tad too much on the leafy-sherry side indeed for me, with some bell pepper and even, say artichokes, but the general feeling remains extremely positive. All you need to do is to add the proper amount of water - no, zero water is not an option here. Finish: long, perhaps a tad too leafy and peppery at this point, which will make it lose one or two points in my book. Comments: a tad rough and rustic here and there, but it is to my liking. I have the feeling, not only at HP, that some newer sherry-seasoned casks have become leafier and more peppery, I don't know why. Because of European oak? Tonnelerias making them faster? Just a gut feeling...

SGP:452 - 85 points.

Indies, the floor is yours…

Secret Orkney 16 yo 2005/2021 (58%, Oxhead Whisky Company for Dram-Addicts, cask #7, 261 bottles)

Secret Orkney 16 yo 2005/2021 (58%, Oxhead Whisky Company for Dram-Addicts, cask #7, 261 bottles) Five stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: classic medicinal, mineral and lemony profile, very pure, very fresh, with lovely notes of sourdough. I would suppose this is blending stock, well blenders have it good. With water: more sourdough, more chalk, more live seafood (clams spring to mind, so to speak). Damp grist. Mouth (neat): superb, salty, lemony, with a lovely creamy fatness (limoncello) and all things from the sea, plus a lot of chalk, limestone, oysters… With water: exceptional doughy, salty and lemony development. Hard to beat here at Château WF. Finish: long, saltier. Quaffing seawater enhanced with lime liqueur. More or less that. Comments: long tasting notes are not always needed. Just wondering, do the owners do a version of their regular 10 à 40%, only at cask strength? I say this fantabulous zesty make needs no sherry, there. Oh and I'll say it, were I the owners, I'd be proud to see such a stunning bottle, whether indie or not, carry my brand name.
SGP:563 - 91 points.

Yet…

St Ola 15 yo 2006/2021 'Apollo 14' (61.8%, The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill PX sherry, 316 bottles)

St Ola 15 yo 2006/2021 'Apollo 14' (61.8%, The Whisky Barrel, 1st fill PX sherry, 316 bottles) Three stars and a half
A bottling also named 'Miles & Miles & Miles', but does that have anything to do with The Who or even with Miles Davis? Probably not, but let's still check whether this little HP in disguise is, uh, stratospheric… Colour: gold. Nose: no huge loads of clumsy PX, that's sorted. Rather this mineral and medicinal arrival on the nose, and a feeling of smoked crystallised oranges with a little tonic water. Not too sure though, because mind you, 61.8% vol.! With water: something Indian here, or chutney-y, on top of the usual wonderful coastal minerality. Oysters and mussels stewed in curry sauce; they do that, don't they? Mouth (neat): ueber-creamy, just a tad too spicy, gingery, leathery… Huge, clearly excessive oak spices but I would hope that goes away once water's been added. With water: not totally but we are relatively fine. Heavy ginger and curry from the cask (scratched and charred?) with one good news, the spirit's big enough to have stood that rather extreme concoctiony (what?) treatment. Finish: long, the spirit starting to have the upper hand, with lemon and lime plus seawater and chalk. Comments: very modern. Now the drinker has his/her say too, as long as he/she's a proper pipette slinger ;-).

SGP:563 - 84 points.

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

 

October 13, 2021


Whiskyfun

A Chichibu Trio

Not much to add about Chichibu, luminous malt when it's au naturel (BB, refill), sometimes a little whacky (and unnecessary) when kept or aromatized in unlikely casks… But never, ever boring. Grand Cru of Japan, for sure.

Chichibu 10 yo 'The First Ten' (50.5%, OB, 5,000 bottles, 2020)

Chichibu 10 yo 'The First Ten' (50.5%, OB, 5,000 bottles, 2020) Five stars
It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is the first ever Chichibu 10 years old. If you take into account that old whisky saying that used to go like 'no ten no deal', it could actually be the first real 'Chichibu'. Well, I mean, I know what I'm trying to say… Colour: gold. Nose: sound, you drums! Ring out, you trumpets! For it is a pure Chichibu, with only a little vanilla, custard and crushed banana coating a very pure 'old eau-de-vie de barley'. What we like, even if, or perhaps because it's not spectacular at all. Lovely breads and lemon curd. With water: pancakes, pita, broken branches, grist. Mouth (neat): full-textured, creamy, starting with more lemon curd, grapefruit liqueur, raw barley, then we find maize bread and indeed bananas. Very compact and pretty perfect. With water: a little citrus and a touch of eucalyptus, no other changes. Not that we needed any. Finish: medium, clean, sweet and bready. A tad hoppy, perhaps. Comments: I would suppose some fine folks would find it a little gentle and even one-dimensional, well in my book and in these very cases, that's a clear asset. A pure, simple and clean expression of unpeated Chichibu!
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Chichibu 'London Edition 2021' (OB, for The Whisky Exchange, 1859 bottles)

Chichibu 'London Edition 2021' (51.5%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange, 1859 bottles) Five stars
I couldn't spot the strength on the bottle but there is Big Ben so this is well London (it was Big Ben or Boris, so they chose wisely). I shall amend as soon as more data reach me (now updated, thanks Werry). Colour: gold. Nose: deeper, more profound, with more herbs, camphor, eucalyptus, a little rubber smoke (burning tyres), a fantastic leafiness (eucalyptus indeed), a touch pf Barbour grease and wee whiffs of new electronics. Yeah, if you like, new iPhone. With water: rubberwood, teak oil, graphite, pencil, this grist that we love so much… Mouth (neat): some tight peat and some even tighter lemons and grapefruits. Totally blade-y, millimetric, perfect. With water: woo-hoo! Pure lime juice with a few drops of seawater. Ite Missa est. Finish: long, chiselled, ultra-pure, blade-y. Sends shivers down your spine, as only the greatest dry chenins blancs would do. A tiny idea of some coconut in the aftertaste. Comments: immaculate and totally straightforward. Grand peaty Chichibu.
SGP:465 - 91 points.

Chichibu 2007/2021 'Ken's Choice' (59%, OB, for Ken's Bar Hiroshima, Instrumental Trumpet #3932, 300 bottles)

Chichibu 2007/2021 'Ken's Choice' (59%, OB, for Ken's Bar Hiroshima, Instrumental Trumpet #3932, 300 bottles) Three stars and a half
This is pretty complicated, as this little Chichibu was first matured in Kentucky from 2007 to 2014 (why?) then at Chichibu's in Japan, between 2014 and 2021. Hold on, is it actually a Chichibu? Is it not a Transworld bourbon? Let's check that… Colour: deep gold. Nose: uh. Varnish, acetone, pancake sauce, vanillin and coconut water, that's not very Chichibu to say the least. With water: oak oils, new plywood. Mouth (neat): bourbon. Not a bad one, mind you. Rather rich, varnishy, with some nougat and some kind of concentrated corn syrup. A little too sweet and syrupy for me. With water: good, sweet, richer, with oranges, a ryeness, maple syrup. Finish: medium, same, sweet, syrupy. Not sickly sweet though. Comments: I may have missed something here. Is it a 'Chichibu' only because it partly aged at Chichibu? A very good drop nonetheless, but I wasn't quite ready for some bourbon. I think I'll distil the cheapest apples I'll find and then ship the barrel to Brora Distillery. And presto, some Brora! (no?) Seriously, I'm sure I've missed something here, it's a solid bourbon.
SGP:740 - 84 points.

Good, we'll soon try the Parisian Chichibus, but in the meantime, stay healthy!

 

October 12, 2021


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Balblair

 

The fruitiest malt in the north of Scotland! Lovely place, people and whisky, we still have the tastes of that insane official 1966 in our mouth (38yo/2004), surely a bottle to watch at auctions. No wait, please don't…

(Photo Balblair)
Balblair Distillery

Balblair 25 yo (46%, OB, +/-2021)

Balblair 25 yo (46%, OB, +/-2021) Four stars and a half
I believe, but I could be completely wrong, that this is a newer batch of the 25. We've never tried the 25 anyway, by the way, but all things come to him who waits (yeah, in books or movies). Colour: deep gold. Nose: herbal teas, overripe apples and pears, and a little metal polish, then the expected bananas and papayas. Some kind of Chinese spiciness too (or is that jasmine?) and greengage jam. Long story short, it is a lovely nose, complex, mature, elegant and fresh. Mouth: starts with a little mentholy oakiness, pinewood perhaps, fir honey… Gets geared towards the trademark tropical fruits after that, as well as hectolitres of various herbal teas, some of them pretty mentholy. There really is a feeling of good old wood in this one, which would make you believe it's pretty older (like 35). The aforementioned 1966 was brighter and fruitier, for example. Dried figs and dates joining the fiesta after a good minute or so. Finish: medium, with a touch of salt, chestnut jam, herbal teas and a rather lovely earthiness in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps not as utterly brilliant as some other old Balblairs – so perhaps not Concorde-quality - but we're already flying very high.

SGP:561 - 88 points.

Balblair 40 yo (42.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #1346, 152 bottles, +/-2010)

Balblair 40 yo (42.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #1346, 152 bottles, +/-2010) Four stars
I tried this baby when it came out but I think I kind of missed it (WF80, no proper tasting note). Let's try it again, eleven years later… Colour: gold. Nose: certainly a tropical fruit bomb, with papayas, mangos and passion fruits upfront, candlewax just behind them, and then wormwood, or artemisia, angelica, green tea, pine needles… I am, at times, reminded of that old 1966 that I may have mentioned before (you already did twice, S.) Mouth: the oak's more prominent, giving it a mentholy/piney arrival that's not without remind me of the newer official 25. Goes on with banana and peach skins, as well as these tiny touches of paraffin once again. Artisanal citron liqueur, a wonderful Corsican thing that I would wholeheartedly recommend you (they call it 'cédrat' instead of 'citron'). Finish: good length, fresh, tropical, citrusy, with more tea again in the aftertaste. Comments: much better than I remembered it. We tried it during an Old & Rare masterclass last year, we may try it again around the year 2022.

SGP:651 - 87 points.

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

 

October 11, 2021


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Rosebank

Let's have two nice older triple-distilled juices while waiting for the new Distillery's first drops. I'll have to ask distinguished owners Ian MacLeod about their current schedule… In the meantime…

Rosebank 21 yo 'The Roses - Fascination' (49.5%, Specialty Drinks for The Whisky Exchange, Edition Five, Madeira cask, 633 bottles, 2021)

Rosebank 21 yo 'The Roses - Fascination' (49.5%, Specialty Drinks for The Whisky Exchange, Edition Five, Madeira cask, 633 bottles, 2021) Five stars
This baby, according to the wonderful retro label, is supposed to be 'for contemplation' and to 'change from sip to sip'. This series is released every year to celebrate Valentine's Day (Feb. 14), which can only please me (LOL). Naturally, as Rosebank Distillery closed in 1993, this recent bottling cannot quite be 21 years old, that's probably a matter of London coquetry or something. Colour: light gold. Nose: you feel the Madeira upfront, which is much more pleasant than you would believe. Some kind of sweet mustard sauce mixed with sultanas, I would say, but Rosebank's citrus does the cavalry, with pink bananas, tangerines, viognier, young Sauternes and then a drop of chartreuse. Nutshell: lovely! Mouth: punchier than you would have expected, with once again these notes of Madeira sauce, a little leather, tobacco, some saltiness, then the lemons chime in, together with orange blossom honey, earl grey, cane syrup, perhaps curaçao, jelly babies and quite some lemon curd. Lovely 'nervous' sweetness which reminds me of some proper riesling vendanges tardives. Finish: medium, on pretty much the same flavours and some slightly spicy/salty honeyness in the aftertaste. Comments: you could have wondered why one would have buried a Rosebank under Madeira. The answer might be: it wasn't really buried.

SGP:651 – 90 points.

Rosebank 30 yo 1990/2020 'Release 1' (48.6%, OB, refill casks, 4350 bottles)

Rosebank 30 yo 1990/2020 'Release 1' (48.6%, OB, refill casks, 4350 bottles) Five stars
It is rather fantastic that the new owners could gather enough old Rosebank to be able to release such a large batch of 30 yo. Colour: gold. Nose: it really is the 'Fascination' minus the Madeira. Which means that it may be a tad less complex, but on the other hand this pristine herbal citrusness is just amazingly fresh, and pure indeed. A little fennel, aniseed, rhubarb, cider apples, oranges, gooseberries and then just vine peaches. Oh and citrons (you know, cédrat, cédratine and stuff) and pure fresh-pressed cane juice. Mouth: just perfect, vertical, all on lemons and granny smith, then those vine peaches again. Rather oily mouthfeel. I wouldn't say it is very complex, but it is very perfect, almost abstract, moving very elegantly. Some mobile-whisky by Alexander Calder, perhaps. Finish: medium, ultra-clean, this is almost some kind of best limoncello in the world. Or there, a kind of Limoncello spritz (limoncello, cane syrup, Perrier and really a lot of champagne). Comments: probably one of the most spectacular uncomplicated distillates in Scotland, just the opposite of the other great Distillery in the Lowlands, the sorely missed St Magdalene.

SGP:651 - 90 points.

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

 

October 10, 2021


Whiskyfun

Malter-native French brandies

Martell
We have several wine brandies here in France but we'll only have armagnacs today, and maybe cognacs too. Let's just proceed…

Dartigalongue 'Double-Oaked Armagnac' (43.3%, OB, Bas-armagnac, +/-2021)

Dartigalongue 'Double-Oaked Armagnac' (43.3%, OB, Bas-armagnac, +/-2021) Three stars
Dartigalongue is a great, great house but I don't quite know what to think of this young armagnac that's making sheep's eyes at modern malt whisky. I just hope they'll keep it 'double' and never go 'triple', not to mention sevenfold (we're looking at you, Isle of Jura). By the way this little double is a blend of the three main grape varietals, baco, ugni blanc and folle blanche. Colour: gold. Nose: do we really feel the oak supplement? Perhaps in these touches of nutmeg and cinnamon, or in these notes of tropical fruits (bananas), but other than that, I'm rather getting rose petals, peach skins, and some slightly mentholy sultanas. A little thyme honey too, I would say, as well as roasted sesame. Pretty fresh, joyful, and just lovely. Mouth: the oak's a little louder on the palate, as this was poured twice into new oak. You really have to enjoy cinnamon and ginger (rolls), sweet paprika sauce, ras-el-hanout… Having said that, raisins and peaches are keeping the upper hand. Phew. Finish: medium, a little drying. Cinnamon powder. Comments: really good, in fact, but we could almost call this maltagnac at times. Or armagnac with exposed beams. Apologies.
SGP:551 - 82 points.

Château de Lacquy 2007 'Baco 100%' (48%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #318, +/-2021)

Château de Lacquy 2007 'Baco 100%' (48%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #318, +/-2021) Three stars
A very old house that was founded in 1711, in the Landes. It's said to be the oldest producer still in activity while they grow their own vines on 25 hectares. This is pure baco, probably #22A. Colour: bright green gold. Nose: it is not a very aromatic armagnac but this tightness works just great and indeed, would make it resemble some malt whiskies here and there, with some citrus, grapefruits, hints of cigarette tobacco, walnut skins, a drop of olive oil and even a little wholegrain bread… Mouth: very citrusy and liqueury, I couldn't not mention our beloved artisanal limoncellos and citron liqueurs. A touch of icing sugar, candyfloss, even banana foam, then that wholegrain bread yet again and a littler coffee. Crunching beans. Finish: a little more oak-driven, with many spices and a feeling of rye and some sweeter buckwheat. Cinnamon in the aftertaste. Comments: the breadiness is a little unusual here, you could almost think of some rye whisky. I find it very good too.
SGP:561 - 82 points.

What's great is that Lacquy also have other single-varietals in the same vintage…

Château de Lacquy 2007 'Folle Blanche 100%' (48%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #8, +/-2021)

Château de Lacquy 2007 'Folle Blanche 100%' (48%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #8, +/-2021) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: everything is 'more' here, more roundness, more jams, more honeys, more camphor and menthol, more maple syrup, more stewed peaches, a very lovely mashy side (turnips?) and then of course, the expected raisins. Also williams pears. Mouth: so different from the baco! There's more action here, more tropical notes (litchis, gewurztraminer), a little more earth too, a curious touch of varnish that would hint at bourbon, perhaps, and then really a good lot of liquorice, with touches of violets (sweets). Finish: rather long, perhaps a little rustic now, but then again this is an asset. Grapes stewed in liquorice sauce. Comments: I'm rather a fan of this folle blanche. It's fascinating to be able to check the differences between the two varietals, but then of course, no two casks are the same anyway.
SGP:661 - 86 points.

And then, naturally…

Château de Lacquy 2007 'Colombard 100%' (48%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #235, +/-2021)

Château de Lacquy 2007 'Colombard 100%' (48%, OB, Bas-armagnac, cask #235, +/-2021) Three stars and a half
I'm not even sure I've ever tried a 100% colombard (not mentioning wine here, of course). Colour: richer gold. Nose: I'm finding more oils this time, marzipan, sunflower oil, then orange blossom and honeysuckle, heather honey, maraschino, yellow peaches,  dandelions… Mouth: I'd dare call this one a little 'cognacqy', with rather more honeys, raisins and syrups (cane), then herbs such as wormwood and a little marmalade. A kind of earthy liquorice in the background, and indeed a growing earthiness. You do feel some tension in the back, although you would also find a little burnt sugar. Finish: medium, with some grassiness, fruit peel, liquorice wood in the aftertaste… Comments: frankly, I like them all. It's the liquorice that's a little more spectacular in this one.
SGP:561 - 83 points.

Let's move to Cognac and go somewhat vertical…

Maison Prunier 45 yo 1975 (48.6%, The Purist Belgium, Petite Champagne, 450 bottles, +/-2020)

Maison Prunier 45 yo 1975 (48.6%, The Purist Belgium, Petite Champagne, 450 bottles, +/-2020) Four stars and a half
Colour: full gold. Nose: very gentle at first, we're rather on nougat here, acacia honey, mullein syrup, juicy sultanas, oriental pastries, earl grey… Tends to move towards old-Sauternes territory after a good two minutes, with apricots, mirabelles, more honey, and wee whiffs of rose petals. No you don't say 'wee' in Cognac, but there, I suppose one cannot change his own nature. Mouth: surprisingly fresh given that this was distilled while Mick Taylor was still with the Stones (was he not?) with superb menthol and both fresh and crystallised fruits, with touches of aniseed and lime. Figs, raisins, and a grassy rusticity in the back. Stalk, pips, liquorice wood… Finish: rather long, even a tad hot, still pretty rustic. Comments: excellent, an old cognac that's perhaps more for your hipflask than for your lounge!
SGP:661 - 89 points.

Fanny Fougerat 'Type 73' (49.6%, OB, Petite Champagne, 510 bottles, +/-2021)

Fanny Fougerat 'Type 73' (49.6%, OB, Petite Champagne, 510 bottles, +/-2021) Five stars
This is 100% ugni blanc; I believe Fanny Fougerat is part of the new wave of cognac makers, while it looks like the reputation keeps growing.  Colour: gold. Nose: really soft and really delicate like an old sémillon from the Sauternes region. Mirabelles, pink bananas, mulberries, hints of elderberries, zucchini flowers, fresh cigars, grape pips oil… It really isn't your average old cognac on the nose. Pretty subtle and, to use older Bruichladdich vocabulary, 'reflective'. Mouth: tight, tense, fresh, fruity and without any kind of 'old-cognac' antics. I'm finding notes of sorb (eau-de-vie) and sloe, some delicate herbal notes (Wulong tea),then rather plum skins and spirits. Superb touches of verbena in the background, I'd kill for a glass of proper old verbena liqueur (why always chartreuse?) Finish: not too long but gracefully herbal and slightly mentholy. A little aniseed and, once again, verbena. Comments: a rather delicate, elegantly self-restrained old petite champagne. 1973? Isn't that the year of John Cale's 'Paris 1919'? I believe I'm about to listen to this fantastic album again, with a glass of Fanny Fougerat's very lovely Type 73 in hand.
SGP:651 - 90 points.

Down the years towards Marc Bolan…

François Voyer 'Lot 71 La Fête' (43.3%, Malternatives Belgium, 42 bottles)

François Voyer 'Lot 71 La Fête' (43.3%, Malternatives Belgium, 42 bottles) Five stars
I may have said before that our Belgian friends are very good at selecting old French brandies, not just at playing futbol against us (grin). Colour: deep gold. Nose: ueber-easy fruit-salad-y old cognac, absolutely stunning with this incredible freshness, just shock-full of fresh apples, peaches, pears, bananas, papayas and… a family pack of liquorice allsorts. A little vetiver, ylang-ylang, jasmine… It is impressively fruity and fresh and I cannot not wonder if it didn't stem from an old demi-john rather than from a cask. Mouth: same fruity extravaganza, more tropical this time, with pink grapefruits, litchis for sure, woodruff, Benedictine and a little green wood around the periphery. Finish: medium, with a little more honey and a little more eucalyptus from the oak. Soft pine liqueur and thyme tea. Comments: so, demi-john or cask? The jury's still out but the score is very high again.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Perhaps a very last one…

Martell 1956 (43%, OB for La Maison du Whisky's 65th Anniversary, Grand Champagne, 2021)

Martell 1956 (43%, OB for La Maison du Whisky's 65th Anniversary, Grand Champagne, 2021) Five stars
An amazing Baccarat decanter (rings a bell, doesn't it) harbouring an old Cognac that was distilled right when La Maison du Whisky was founded by Mr Georges Benitah. Which, in truth, makes this Cognac no less than a 65 years old. Colour: gold. Nose: to this humble taster Martell means Cordon Bleu, especially some of those stunning older ones with their Kork'n'Seal closures (a.k.a. spring caps, a.k.a. nail breakers). Check the magnums! What's sure is that this 1956 is fresh as a daisy, rather on flowers indeed (gorse?) then on tangerines and pink grapefruits, maracuja, rhubarb, lemon tarte (with meringue), with something reminiscent of a great pinot gris by a great Alsatian wine house. What's really striking me today is that we never, ever came across anything even remotely rancioty; now I'm also finding quite some gentian spirit in this nose! Remember, gentian equals utter glory in spirits. Mouth: great oak, great old wine barrique, a feeling of dunnage, herbal tea (chamomile), then mangos and maracuja again, rhubarb tarte (more meringue in the way, hurray!) then peaches, mirabelles, nectarines, a little cocoa and coffee, with just touches of sandal and cedar woods. Mind you, sixty-five years sheltered from the fracas of our world! Finish: it wouldn't even lose steam at the finish, even if, as expected, this isn't quite its best side. It's not unusual, in my little tasting book, that very old spirits would not be their best selves at this point. In short, it's a little dry and tea-ish, nothing abnormal. Comments: third 90 in a row, let's call this a tasting session.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all cognacs or armagnacs we've tasted so far

 

October 9, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Two Tomintoul
I'm not a biggest fan of Tomintoul to be honest, I just find it a bit meek and boring. But then again, aren't the meek supposed to inherit the Earth? No, I'm not sure when that's happening either.

 

Tomintoul 10 yo 2010/2021 (56.7%, Watt Whisky, refill butt, 246 bottles)

Tomintoul 10 yo 2010/2021 (56.7%, Watt Whisky, refill butt, 246 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: ok, so first off, this is not actually meek at all. It's rather more rounded and elegantly sweet, with this nice impression of golden syrup spread on brown toast, some custard, youthful dessert wines and wee touches of pollens and sweet breakfast cereals. It is 'light' but not without character at all. Rather pleasant. With water: some fabrics, a little plasticine and sunflower oil. Still rather gentle and playful. Mouth: again this same impression of lightness of touch with a very easy and pleasing character that would include more seedy brown breads, more golden syrup and honey, more breakfast cereals such as Weetabix and some slightly more mechanical touches like mineral oil and shoe polish. With water: funnily enough water seems to enhance the texture and flesh out the whole profile with some hessian, olive oil and touches of aniseed. Classic refill sherry profile in some regards. Finish: medium in length, some marzipan, lemon cough drops, more breads - I think it's actually at its most robust in the finish. Comments: A fine wee Tomintoul, no complaints here.

SGP: 551 - 85 points.

 

 

Tomintoul 2004/2020 (60.4%, OB for Royal Mile Whiskies, cask #2229, bourbon, 389 bottles)

Tomintoul 2004/2020 (60.4%, OB for Royal Mile Whiskies, cask #2229, bourbon, 389 bottles)
This cask was apparently selected for RMW by Mr Robert Fleming to celebrate his 30 years working at the distillery. Colour: gold. Nose: active and highly scented American oak at play here. But not in a vulgar way, rather this is all on pineapple syrup, shredded coconut, white pepper, freshly muddled mint and even wee medical hints such as Tiger Balm. I find it very good so far, even though this is clearly quite a modern 'technological' style. With water: doubles down on this highly scented and aromatic profile from the wood, exotic hardwood resins, tropical fruit teas and incense. Mouth: the arrival is rather mentholated and suggestive of eucalyptus resins, tea tree oil, rolling tobacco and dried herbs. Also some spiced custard, pine cones and hibiscus. Rather a lot going on and globally it's clean, punchy, very bright whisky. In time though I think the oak does start to become just a notch too loud. With water: creamier, fruitier and more balanced now. More of these exotic tea touches, fir wood, eucalyptus - rather complex in fact. Finish: good length, creamy vanilla, wood spices, dried coconut once again, muesli with dried exotic fruit chunks through it and some green apple. Comments: an excellent selection and I can see why they would choose such a cask. It's a whisky that is very much about the cask, but it was also clearly a top quality bourbon cask. This is the kind of style that I think suits Tomintoul well as the lightness of the distillate bends very well to this sort of clean yet active wood profile. Now, there are parts that become a little too intense for me, but it's still going to be…
SGP: 651 - 87 points.

 

 

So, not so meek after all this time.

 

 

Thanks to Jason.

 

 

 

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

 

October 8, 2021


Whiskyfun

Special Releases Special, today Glendullan

As the attentive reader may have noticed, I have a soft spot for Glendullan and other such relatively unobtrusive distillates. We've already tried quite a few pretty good ones this year.

Maureen Serge
Maureen Robinson, Diageo's Head Master Blender for anything Singleton and other whiskies, here with unknown French admirer in London. ->

The Singleton of Glendullan 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021)

The Singleton of Glendullan 15 yo (40%, OB, +/-2021) Three stars
The low strength is a little scary here but after all, this wee baby's only a stepping-stone to the new Special Release here, so let's see… Colour: full gold. Nose: autumn leaves (how fitting), then dry walnutty sherry, then whiffs of warm caramel and English breakfast tea. Then a little café latte with drops of triple-sec poured in. Ends up pretty grassy and beerish, which to me was not unseen in Glendullan, especially in indie ones (Cadenhead's and other such tight ones). Mouth: rather creamy, not that light, with quite a lot of walnut cake in the arrival, then cedar wood (from your Romeo & Julietta) and more English breakfast tea. New bamboo straw. Finish: a little short, sweeter, and once again on sweet beer and tea. Malt in the aftertaste, Ovaltine… Comments: very all right, not as thin as I would have thought.
SGP:451 - 82 points.

Perhaps an indie since we've mentioned indies…

Glendullan 9 yo 2011/2021 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch 'Black Swan', bourbon, casks #308284, 310477, 310480)

Glendullan 9 yo 2011/2021 (46%, James Eadie, Small Batch 'Black Swan', bourbon, casks #308284, 310477, 310480) Three stars
We always love to see birds on labels; in this case the black swan refers to a famous pub. Let's check if this one's in James Eadie's usual style, rather richer and creamier thanks to skilful woodcraft. Colour: white wine. Nose: very citric, in a lovely way. Concentrated lemon juice, lime juice, a touch of varnish, grapefruits, fresh rhubarb, then toffee apple and Canadian apple ice wine. No need to lodge a complaint this far. Mouth: a bit less precise than I had hoped, as if this grassiness (or rather apple peel) would kind of clash head-on with the sweeter, more liqueury citrus. Some bitterness emerging too, plus candy sugar. Things would tend to get quieter after thirty seconds. Finish: rounder, good. IPA, hops. Peppery aftertaste. Comments: a fine drop once again but then of course, it is not one of their famous young… say Caol Ilas.
SGP:451 - 81 points.

The Singleton of Glendullan 19 yo 'The Siren's Song' (54.6%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends)

The Singleton of Glendullan 19 yo 'The Siren's Song' (54.6%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends) Four stars
This one from refill American oak, with a Cognac finish on top of it. Let's see if the Cognac did offset a part of Glendullan's proverbial grassiness (proverbial in my own book, at least). Colour: straw. Nose: raisins and peaches on top of sunflower and peanut oils, on top of stewed apples, on top of walnut cake and a pack of dried figs. Wee whiffs of ale, or rather gueuze. With water: a pack of lemon drops and perhaps even some Jell-O. Barbecued marshmallows and sweet maize, also sultanas with a little curry and turmeric from the wood (I suppose). Mouth (neat): rather tight, a little eau-de-vie-ish at first (kirschwasser), getting then wider and rounder, with a few raisins and once again those juicy peaches. Rather preserved peaches, actually. With water: more spices, turmeric indeed, paprika, ginger, raisins. Tends to play hide-and-seek with the cognac, a good feeling. Finish: medium, sweet and soft. Really feels 'smartly enhanced' and yet 'natural'. Comments: very smart work here, in my humble opinion.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

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

 

October 7, 2021


Whiskyfun

Highland Park and stuff from Orkney

In theory and Scapa willing, that's a tautological headline, but we fear nothing. By the way, we're slowly approaching the 600 HP mark but that should only happen next time, maybe right after the big whisky festivals.

Withlaw 5 yo 2014/2020 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate Selection, dechar/rechar butt, cask #436, 857 bottles)

Whitlaw 5 yo 2014/2020 (46%, Van Wees, The Ultimate Selection, dechar/rechar butt, cask #436, 857 bottles) Four stars
So from a dechar/rechar butt, which would mean that this butt had been charred in the first place – all hail wood technology! By the way, Signatory are now calling some of their HPs 'Whitlaw', which I find nicer than 'Secret Orkney'. It is the name of a hill that sits behind the distillery – or rather say that the distillery sits in front of the Whitlaw Hills. Colour: gold. Nose: no actual sherriness here, it is rather a fresh, coastal, slightly smoky and pretty briny Highland Park that shows how great the distillate is. It reminds of my beloved official 10 yo, the epitome of mineral and coastal zestiness in malt whisky. The rechar thing seems to have brought a little extra-vanilla and some mango syrup, all that in civilised moderation. Mouth: absolutely excellent, on similar notes. Touches of brine, green tea, chalk, lemons, malt, a little hay and a little maize bread. Good peatiness. Finish: medium, on similar notes, with a sweeter side. The char? Pineapple syrup. Comments: right up my alley, despite the oh-so-slightly excessive sweetness. I think the pineapples were a little unnecessary.
SGP:553 - 86 points.

Secret Orkney 20 yo 1999/2020 (52.7%, Boogieman Imports, hogshead, 124 bottles)

Secret Orkney 20 yo 1999/2020 (52.7%, Boogieman Imports, hogshead, 124 bottles) Five stars
This one comes with some Viking stuff on the label, so no doubts about what it is. Colour: straw. Nose: a clean and smoky and coastal arrival, then whelks and green apples, then tropical fruits as jellies and as syrups. Lambswool and chalk coming out after a minute or two. With water: woold and chalk taking over, which I find very 'HP' when little to no sherry's been used. Wee whiffs of camphor, always for the better. Mouth (neat): typically tight, chalky, salty, smoky and then fruity. Chutneys, oysters, grapefruits, all working in sync. With water: that sauvignony feeling that we enjoy so much. Pouilly-Fumé. Now careful, only two drops will be enough, it doesn't react too well to high reduction, which would flatten it. Finish: rather long, perhaps with a little more paraffin, perhaps horseradish. Candied citrus in the aftertaste. Comments: superb pureish Highland Park, coming with extra-points because I liked it (Ed: what? Isn't that the whole point?)
SGP:453 - 90 points.

Orkney Islands 11 yo 2009/2020 (46%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Small Batch)

Orkney Islands 11 yo 2009/2020 (46%, Berry Bros. & Rudd, Small Batch) Four stars and a half
I think Berry Bros. are rather good at this, doing characterful and yet pretty consensual and sensibly priced regional small batches. I mean, Orkney is a kind of region, is it not? No worries, this is well a single malt. Colour: white wine. Nose: smoky, sooty, waxy and herbal. Wee whiffs of pine-scented shampoo, barbecue, sunflower oil, hand cream, heather (yes), plasticine and burning wood ashes. Less coastal/briny than others, perhaps. Mouth: no, a lot of brine in there, oysters lemons and vanilla, kippers and rollmops (wee bits), a feeling of margarita (tequila, lime, salt if I'm not mistaken), and an overall coastalness that's approaching Taliskerness. See what I mean? Seems that HP is getting more coastal by the vintages. Finish: rather long, fresh, salty, with some rounder butterscotch in the aftertaste. Comments: extremely good, easy and yet totally not vulgar, and very 'idiosyncratic'. Pretty BB&R, in other words. Side note, I find it good that we would preserve regional styles, or at least Distillery styles. No one needs Distilleries that would make just all styles known to man. And why not gin!
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Why not an OB?

Highland Park 'Valfather' (47%, OB, +/-2020)

Highland Park 'Valfather' (47%, OB, +/-2020) Four stars
According to the design, this humble NAS would be a half-Viking, half-Zulu bottling. They say it's the peatiest style of Highland Park, let's check that. You'll find it one all over the place, they must have produced hundreds of thousands bottles of this. Colour: light gold. Nose: this would confirm my findings (you're not Dr Livingstone either, S.), they've cranked up the peat. So this has rather a lot of peat, also kelp and vanilla. Now it's not particularly complex, I suppose the mix is young on average. A little vanilla, herbs, ashes… Mouth: it's having a hard time after the BB&R as it's much simpler, narrower, and just rather peaty. Now I still like it, it's a bright make, with good citrus beyond the coastal peat. It's just that it's pretty simple, I'm reminded of Laphroaig's rather underwhelming… What's the name again? Ah yes, Select. Oh boy. Finish: medium, creamy, peaty as an Islay. Comments: a rather young Islay whisky from Orkney. Actually, I think it's very good, hope they'll issue some older batches if they have any. Now and again, I find the fact that any distillery would produce many styles (like unpeated, lightly peated, medium peated, heavily peated, not to mention all kinds of woods) a little boring and valueless. Call me old-guard if you wish.
SGP:456 – 85 points.

Perhaps a last one…

Orkney Islands 15 yo 2002/2019 (58.6%, Fadandel.dk, butt, cask #3C+F, 170 bottles)

Orkney Islands 15 yo 2002/2019 (58.6%, Fadandel.dk, butt, cask #3C+F, 170 bottles) Five stars
Strange cask # here, what does that mean? A secret code? The illuminati? Bilderberg? Big Business? Bill Gates? Colour: white wine. Nose: the tightest of them all, with a lot of lemon juice and even whiffs of washing powder. Woolite, plaster, aspirin, other kinds of white powders… (not that one)… With water: chalk, seawater, ashes, whelks, riesling. Bon appétit! Mouth (neat): excellently zesty, fresh, vertical, yet creamy on the outside. Lemon juice and honey. With water: we've reached zesty and coastal perfection. Finish: rather long, very fresh, very salty. Lemons, oysters and kippers. Comments: a butt? Did they actually let some cigarette butts infuse? That would explain the cryptic cask #, '+C' meaning 'plus cigarettes'. Odd customs if you ask me (S., maybe time to switch to some Netflix dope). I agree this note was pretty clumsy and I apologise profusely for everything, but the whisky is prefect!
SGP:463 - 90 points.  
       

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

 

October 6, 2021


Whiskyfun

Four old Braes of Glenlivet, vertically

Ex-Seagram's, now Pernord's Braes of Glenlivet a.k.a. Braeval is one of these names that are currently benefitting from the quasi-disappearance of many first-tier brand names that our beloved independent bottlers cannot disclose anymore. What's better, an anonymous big name advertised as a blended malt or a little name that comes unmasked and as a single? What's more, I'm starting to hear some new young whisky enthusiasts claim that 'if no independent bottlers ever bottle GlenMac, that's probably because said independent bottlers are considering GlenMac is not good enough'. Maybe is that going to turn the tables, eventually? By the way, sure there are now some official Braes but the prices are totally loco if you ask me. Like, three to four times the normal prices elsewhere. Braes is not GlenMac! (make up your mind, S.)

Braeval
Braeval Distillery (Stanley Howe)

Braeval 24 yo 1997/2021 (47.2%, Thompson Bros. for London Whisky Club, 218 bottles)

Braeval 24 yo 1997/2021 (47.2%, Thompson Bros. for London Whisky Club, 218 bottles) Four stars
Not too sure about the wood here but according to the colour, this baby comes unflavoured-up. Colour: white wine. Nose: full of custard and warm brioche, with touches of overripe apples and pears, as well as a few honeyed and floral tones. Acacia flowers and honey (no acacia honey at all this year in France, sob…) and sponge cake, perhaps a touch of orange blossom water. As natural as oldish malt whisky can be. Mouth: very fine, a tad bitterish at first, perhaps (bell pepper, grass) but otherwise malty and bready, with a few sour touches (sour cherries, beer). Finish: medium, rather on green tea, with a grassy rawness in the aftertaste. Fruit stones and a touch of salt. Comments: a little rustic and grassy but this one oozes honesty and humbleness. Like it much.
SGP:361 - 85 points.

Braes of Glenlivet 23 yo 1994/2018 (50.1%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines, bourbon barrel, cask #165702)

Braes of Glenlivet 23 yo 1994/2018 (50.1%, The Whisky Lodge, Orcines, bourbon barrel, cask #165702) Four stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: much more American oak in this one, which translates into VVC (varnish, vanillin and coconut) at first sniff. No worries, we shan't start to acronymise just everything on this lousy little whisky website. Goes on with cakes and custard, scones, pancakes, a drop of pastis, aniseed and liquorice… So far, so good. With water: superb fermentary touches, wash, a little chalk, more breads… Mouth (neat): very malty, you really get a feeling of distilled beer, which is absolutely not unpleasant. Big vanilla, touches of fruit gums (grapefruits, plums). With water: excellent, fruitier, more citrusy, chalkier. Finish: medium, on similar notes. Lemon curd. Comments: very good, flawless ex-bourbon Speysider. In a way, you could also believe it's a much younger malt that's had intercourse with some very active white oak, ala Bimber, or Chichibu or else.
SGP:451 - 87 points.

Braes of Glenlivet 26 yo 1994/2021 (51.1%, The Whisky Blues with Cross Whisky Bar Taiwan, barrel, cask #165687, 175 bottles)

Braes of Glenlivet 26 yo 1994/2021 (51.1%, The Whisky Blues with Cross Whisky Bar Taiwan, barrel, cask #165687, 175 bottles) Four stars and a half
Oh, a sister cask! That happens more and more often within our wee sessions. As there are more indies, parcels of casks that come out may get spread and dispatched faster and consequently, come to the market within a shorter period of time. The amateur taster won't care, or even be happier. Colour: light gold. Nose: it's a kind of cross-breed between both previous ones, with these sour fruits on the one side, and a rounder, breadier, more vanilla-ed aspect on the other side. I have to say I enjoy all this ueber-naturality a lot, I mean, this is purely malt whisky. I know what I'm trying to say. With water: having fresh croissants with some grapefruit juice, very early in the morning. Nice breakfast. Mouth (neat): varnish, citrus gums, stewed rhubarb, vanilla, lemon marmalade, everything fits in to quasi-perfection. Wonderful tightness. With water: more of that, this is lively, joyful and perfect. Finish: same. Wonderful tart aftertaste. Comments: it is not impossible that those three extra-years did generate more complexity. A wine-malt without one single drop of wine inside, that's the way. Oh and naturally, we're all for any jazz or blues-themed labels!
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Braeval 29 yo 1989/2018 (55.4%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #0993, 158 bottles)

Braeval 29 yo 1989/2018 (55.4%, Elixir Distillers, The Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #0993, 158 bottles) Four stars and a half
I don't know why this older bottling is coming out of the boxes now (maybe because you're in the middle of a Braes session, S.?) And as for why and when they would label it Braes of Glenlivet or Braeval, I have to say I've given up trying to find any kind of logic. Colour: pale gold. Nose: this is different, it's got something of a sherry feeling (raisins) but it's got this lemony tartness too. Chalk and weissbeer and grass and lemons and a touch of candlewax. With water: hold on, olive brine? Ointments? Peat smoke? Mouth (neat): very good, with something medicinal, as if this was an ex-Laphroaig cask or something. Unless they would have done batches that they had peated to light-Ardmore levels in the late 1980s? Very good and very intriguing Braes. With water: indeed! There's something very coastal here, but cask or distillate? Could longer maturations generate such combinations from an average (not in a bad sense) Speysider? And even trigger salt? Finish: more of all that. Would you forgive me if I said that it's even got something a little Brora-y? Comments: I think I'll have to put my paws on some of those ridiculously expensive OBs, especially on the 30 yo that's at, cough, more than 600 Euros. I mean, it's Braeval! Or are the tables really starting to turn? But not sure those OBs sell…

SGP:462 - 89 points.

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

 

October 4, 2021


Whiskyfun

Little duos, today Deanston

Deanston is one of our pet distilleries, mainly because Deanston, mind you, is never, ever boring. I find even their most loco wine-treated expressions, which in theory I shouldn't like at all, interesting and never totally 'butchered'. In short and in my very humble opinion, Deanston is always worth it and it's a joy to try them.  

Deanston ad

Deanston 'Dragon's Milk' (50.5%, OB, Stout Cask finish, 2019)

Deanston 'Dragon's Milk' (50.5%, OB, Stout Cask finish, 2019) Four stars
Did they hire Stephen King? Next time herring casks? In any case, whisky being in essence distilled beer, the idea of a beer cask finish may well be a little tautological, no? Colour: pale white wine. Nose: beer indeed, as in whisky. Grist, chalk, porridge, wholegrain bread, crushed mustard seeds, potato starch… and then, white wine. No, really, a wee muscadet (or melon de Bourgogne – nothing to do with melons). Way less eccentric than I had thought. With water: plain barley and bread. What do the people want. Mouth (neat): very good, tight, fermentary, with good secondary flavours ala Star-of-Campbeltown, porridge, sweet barley, touches of pears and strawberries, then spelt bread and pumpernickel… Very good indeed! With water: beer finishes over table wine finishes? To be discussed, the debate is open… Finish: rather long and chalkier. Tapioca and grilled semolina soup in the aftertaste. Comments: positively impressed here. Now, which stout was it? (Mr Never-satisfied is asking).
SGP:452 - 86 points.

Deanston 11 yo 1998/2009 (55.9%, Whisky Broker)

Deanston 2009/2021 (55.9%, Oxhead Whisky Company, barrel #98, 262 bottles) Five stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: I suppose you can't do any more fermentary, porridge-y, bready and indeed, beerish than this. Wee whiffs of woodruff and aniseed in the back, which is absolutely lovely. Eve, hops, Alsatian anis bredala (cookies)… With water: same. A little earth, a walk in the woods… And fern. Right up my alley, it seems. Mouth (neat): impeccably fat and bready, always with these notes of aniseed, or even artisanal pastis, plus some top-notch cider and beer. Cantillon, there. With water: wow! Lemons, star anise, fennel, rhubarb, chalk, porridge, grapefruits, green tea… I think this is utterly perfect relatively naked malt whisky. Finish: to match. A drop of hibiscus syrup, perhaps. Comments: It's an utter joy to stumble upon such a marvellous little malt whisky.
SGP:462 - 90 points.

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

 

October 2, 2021


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
Angus  
Ardbeg and
anonymous Islays
I've got some Ardbegs to hand and a few anonymous Islay single malts as well. Let's simply try them with minimal waffle. After all, I'm in London this weekend for the Whisky Show and can't wait to see many friendly faces again after such a dispiriting 18 months. If you're about come and say hello!

 

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 yo (40%, Atom, 2020)

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 yo (40%, Atom, 2020)
An undisclosed single malt from Islay, 25% of which was finished 1st fill oloroso sherry octaves. The name is very 'Atom', while, conversely, I believe 1992 is on the phone asking for its bottling strength back. Colour: gold. Nose: but what's this? An OB Laphroaig 10yo from circa 2002? This very particular aroma of iodine, hessian, seawater and cough medicines. Extremely easy and rather nicely attuned to a very specific aroma of 'peat smoke' in the most classical sense. I find it disconcertingly charming. Mouth: it is probably the bottling strength, but this really does feel like drinking a decent batch of OB Laphroaig 10. There's a few citrus fruits, soft peat smoke and rather a lot of wet rocks and medical embrocations. I have to say, it's quite a lot of fun. Finish: medium, perhaps a tad short, but still nicely medicinal, on iodine, light TCP notes and good old peat smoke. Comments: There's a lot about this that, on paper, I probably shouldn't enjoy because it goes against the modern geek code - whatever that is. But this is actually a rather clever and very good, easy quaffing wee Islay dram. Someone at Beam should go check the Laph 10yo vatting tank for syphons though… either that or Atom have developed cloning technology. If that's the case, do they take requests? Shotgun Bowmore Bouquet!
SGP: 565 - 85 points.

 

 

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 yo 'Cask Strength Batch 4' (58.3%, Atom, 2021, 1250 bottles)

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 yo 'Cask Strength Batch 4' (58.3%, Atom, 2021, 1250 bottles)
This one seems to be pretty much the same as the 40%, in that 25% has been sherry finished, only bottled at cask strength. Colour: deep orangey gold. Nose: a little more rugged, sharper, wilder and with more assertiveness from the wood. Wood spices, charcoal, peat embers, feels more modern but in the best sense. I'm also finding graphite oil, touches of seawater, rubber and tar. With water: aligns a little more with the 40% version but still feels more spicy, more raw and more meaty. I get some nice kippery smoke and cough medicines now. Mouth: a big arrival, all on bitter wood spices, black pepper, tar, smoked teas, cured meats such as salami with chilli and aniseed. Salted liquorice, Bovril, star anise, eucalyptus oils, camphor and salt-cured venison. With water: tar, cask char, TCP, leathery smokiness. A big, gruff, modern peaty monster. 'Rufty tufty' as my dad was fond of saying. Finish: long, herbal, gamey, spicy, sooty and tarry. I find rather a lot of herbal toothpaste in the aftertaste. Comments: hard to argue with this one, excellent, modern, full-powered Islay malt whisky. I think the wood is quite present here, but it remains in balance. I particularly enjoy all these wee herbal aspects.
SGP: 577 - 87 points.

 

 

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 yo 'Sherry Casks & Cask Strength' Batch 2 (56.3%, Atom, 2021, 1230 bottles)

Seaweed & Aeons & Digging & Fire 10 yo 'Sherry Casks & Cask Strength' Batch 2 (55.3%, Atom, 2021, 1230 bottles)
This one is full sherry finished. Colour: orangey amber. Nose: a notable gear shift, this is much creamier and displays a more velvety smokiness. Resinous hardwoods, smoked teas, verbena, eucalyptus, tea tree oil and smoked meats. The sherry sits behind the peat and doesn't feel too jarring, it's rather more about wood spice and peat smoke together I would say. With water: softer spice tones, coal dust, bonfire embers and this impression of medicinal herbs. Mouth: a similarly easy arrival, all on soft wood spices, smoked teas, sweet peat smoke, natural tars, wood resins, putty and aniseed. More impressions of herbal cough syrups and things like hessian and wormwood. I like it a lot but it strays very close to being a little too wood-dominant for me. With water: not too sure with water, I think it loses a little definition and the alignment between peat and wood goes slightly awry. There's still plenty of sooty and peaty 'oomph' about it though. Finish: rather long, all menthol tobaccos, bitter herbal extracts, spices, liquorice and tar. Comments: this one veers about quite a lot. Lots of emphatic, peaty pleasures to be had, but for me the wood is a tad too much here. However if you enjoy this rather creamy, spicy modern wood-forward style then you'll probably have a blast. Quite clever wee concoctions these Seaweed things, I would say.
SGP: 576 - 86 points.

 

 

Ardbeg 14 yo 2005/2019 (51.9%, The Whisky Cellar, cask #700038, 25 bottles)

Ardbeg 14 yo 2005/2019 (51.9%, The Whisky Cellar, cask #700038, 25 bottles)
I just could not find a photo of this one anywhere, but with only 25 bottles, do we really need one? [Editor's Note: we made every sacrifice to provide one from WF's own archive]. Colour: pale white wine. Nose: lighter style Ardbeg that's immediately enchanting and evocative with these whiffs of green olive, coastal herbs, white flowers, beach pebbles and mineral salts. Very fresh and coastal with the smoke being more brittle, taut and doing various more structural things in the background. With water: now on camphor, smoked sea salt, hospitals and some lemon juice mixed with olive brine. Mouth: bigger and more punchy on arrival. On seawater, lemon juices, a slightly grubbier smokiness that would suggest puffer fumes and smouldering hay, then things like dried seaweed, nori and hessian. Top notch modern Ardbeg. With water: preserved lemons, parsley, iodine drops, pink grapefruit and more seawater and briny touches. Finish: long, with a nice sooty / smoky combo, soy sauce, anchovy paste, dried mint and hessian. Comments: rock solid modern Ardbeg that shows what great distillate they still make there when not treated with silly woods. Now, go find a bottle…
SGP: 466 - 90 points.

 

 

Ardbeg 26 yo 1994/2021 (47.4%, Cadenhead 'Authentic Collection', bourbon hogshead, 210 bottles)

Ardbeg 26 yo 1994/2021 (47.4%, Cadenhead 'Authentic Collection', bourbon hogshead, 210 bottles)
The mid 1990s could be a bit of a mixed bag for Ardbeg in my experience. Colour: straw. Nose: this 1990s style becomes far more 'obvious' and distinctive now that there's enough water under the bridge between the 1970s heyday and the Glenmorangie modern era. This is really focussed on warm peppery notes and lots of camphor, hessian, tarry rope and also things such as lemon verbena, earl grey tea with lemon peel and kind of heathery, mentholated peat smoke. Light but also with its own kind of weight and distinctiveness. Mouth: nicely salty, good sharpness from various citrus flavours, crisp peat smoke, white pepper - there's just also a feeling of emptiness to an extent in the mid-palate which gives the whole thing a slightly feeling of hollowness. More soft smoky tea notes, smoked sea salt, lime boiled sweets and still rather a lot of hessian and rope impressions. Finish: medium length, crisp dry smokiness, lightly herbal, medicinal and still quite peppery. Comments: There's lots to enjoy here, and some quite specific aged characters that seem only to be found in Ardbegs from this era. It's just that the palate feels a tad light at times. Quality is still high though.
SGP: 565 - 88 points.

 

 

Ardbeg 27 yo 1973/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing 'Old Malt Cask', 228 bottles)

Ardbeg 27 yo 1973/2000 (50%, Douglas Laing 'Old Malt Cask', 228 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: it's that rarest of things: a fruity Ardbeg! We're not talking 60s Bowmore levels of fruit here, but there are indeed some nicely elegant notes of grapefruit and tangerine coming through. I think you can find these profiles only really in batches from 1973 with Ardbeg. There's also bandages, eucalyptus oils, fir wood resins, natural tar and pickled fruits. Quite aromatic and detailed. With water: much more herbal, some kind of smoked breads, bouillon stocks, fennel and light tarriness. Mouth: big, rather sharp arrival, hugely sooty and salty. Natural tar, beach wood, bandages again, mineral salts, more grapefruit and iodine. It's also rather dry and dusty too - a slightly difficult one I think. With water: there's some pleasing citrus, some nicely chiselled smokiness, mineral salts, seawater and a touch of malt vinegar. But this is a bit of an unusual Ardbeg for the era. Finish: quite long, saline, crisply smoky, light wood ashes and hessian. Comments: A tad frustrating really, given how utterly luminous these vintages almost always are for Ardbeg. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty to enjoy here, but it's perhaps more an Ardbeg for completists.
SGP: 475 - 86 points.

 

 

Looks like modernity triumphed today, ideal for putting us in the mindset to go and try a bunch of brand new bottlings at the show!

 

 

 

 

October 1, 2021


Whiskyfun

Special Releases Special, today Royal Lochnagar

It's not just the Distillery that's closest to the Royal playground, Balmoral Castle, it's also Diageo's 'school distillery'. A fascinating visit, oh I so fondly remember the lovely time we had there with the brilliant Donald Renwick, the former Manager (also Lagavulin and several other distilleries). The malt itself is not easy to come by, beyond the official 'blue' one and very few limited releases here and there. Oh and beyond old bottles of John Begg 'Blue Cap', Lochnagar's own blend that you could sometimes find at auctions.

Begg

Royal Lochnagar 12 yo 'Game Of Thrones House Baratheon' (40%, OB, +/-2019)

Royal Lochnagar 12 yo 'Game Of Thrones House Baratheon' (40%, OB, +/-2019) Three stars
I think we're about to be done with those GOT bottlings. Mind you, we needed two whole years to tackle them. As for the 'houses', I still don't know who were the good guys and who were the villains, I'm afraid I'm lacking entire pieces of modern culture. How bad is it, doctor? Colour: straw. Nose: I'm finding this wee musty and mashy side that's not uncommon in the regular 12 as I remember it (which I haven't got on the tasting desk, sadly), also a little damp cardboard, newspapers of the day, ale, cider and a little coal smoke from an old stove. A little old-school, I would say. Also whiffs of plasticine. Mouth: starts well, with good body and quite some ripe apples and pears, as well as plums, but the dry mustiness tends to take over, with more cardboard again, grey pepper perhaps, a little leather, bitter oranges, some drying ashes… The 40% vol. make for an obvious handicap here, this old-school style may need a slightly higher voltage. Finish: rather short and dry, grassier, it's not gaining any points here. An unexpected saltiness in the aftertaste. Comments: pretty good juice in fact, with even some aspects that remind me a bit of some leathery Mortlachs. Would love to try one with more power… Which is about to happen. Isn't it amazing how life works out?
SGP:361 - 80 points.

Royal Lochnagar 16 yo 'The Spring Stallion' (57.5%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends)

Royal Lochnagar 16 yo 'The Spring Stallion' (57.5%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends) Four stars
This brand new one stems from American oak and European oak refill casks. Classic 'cask bill', quite probably our favourite combination. Colour: straw. Nose: oh, thank you, this is almost exactly what we had just requested, the style of the 12 GOT with more oomph. Same mashes, beers, ink, papers, cardboard, old books, grass, these whiffs of coal smoke (not peat), but then also fresh fruits this time, rather around our beloved greengages, cider apples, gooseberries and even sloe. With water: some gentler vanilla, apple pie, elderflowers, honeysuckle… It's quite spectacular to notice to which extent water rounded it off. Mouth: excellent! Very vertical, tart, ultra-lemony, you would swear someone's distilled chenin blanc - and bottled the end result right away. No, actually, the result would be much sweeter than this. With water: very good, salty yet again, with more bready tones, perhaps even a little rye bread, with touches of fennel and anise seeds in the background. It's really an 'own style' that you wouldn't quite find anywhere else. Reminds me of those excellent crystallised fruits that good makers would often sprinkle with a few salt grains. Finish: medium, very good, dry but with good 'sooty' fruits, limes and grapefruits. Tart aftertaste, that's good. Comments: I believe Lochnagar should have its say within the comity of characterful malt whiskies, but remember it's a rather small distillery; a lovely one!
SGP:362 - 87 points.

Hope we'll manage to try some new Lochnagars before the end of this decade ;-).

 

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

WF Favourites
Whiskyfun fav of the month

September 2021

Serge's favourite recent bottling this month:
Kittenish 25 yo 1996/2021 (49.5%, The Whisky Blues and Whisky Land, hogshead, cask #7, 322 bottles) - WF91

Serge's favourite older bottling this month:
Glenfarclas 8 yo '105' (60%, OB, gold label, 1980s) - WF94

Serge's favourite bang for your buck this month:
Lagavulin 12 yo 'The Lion's Fire' (56.5%, OB, Special Release 2021, Untold Legends)  - WF92

Serge's favourite malternative this month:
Dartigalongue 1967 (43%, OB, Bas-armagnac, bonbonne #3, 83 bottles, +/-2020?) - WF91

Serge's Lemon Prize this month:
Macallan 'Lumina' (41.3%, OB, Quest Collection, 2017)  - WF76

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


 

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Deanston 2009/2021 (55.9%, Oxhead Whisky Company, barrel #98, 262 bottles)

Orkney Islands 15 yo 2002/2019 (58.6%, Fadandel.dk, butt, cask #3C+F, 170 bottles)

Secret Orkney 16 yo 2005/2021 (58%, Oxhead Whisky Company for Dram-Addicts, cask #7, 261 bottles)

Secret Orkney 20 yo 1999/2020 (52.7%, Boogieman Imports, hogshead, 124 bottles)

Rosebank 21 yo 'The Roses - Fascination' (49.5%, Specialty Drinks for The Whisky Exchange, Edition Five, Madeira cask, 633 bottles, 2021)

Rosebank 30 yo 1990/2020 'Release 1' (48.6%, OB, refill casks, 4350 bottles)

Chichibu 10 yo 'The First Ten' (50.5%, OB, 5,000 bottles, 2020)

Chichibu 'London Edition 2021' (51.5%, OB, for The Whisky Exchange, 1859 bottles)

Chichibu 2007/2021 'Ken's Choice' (59%, OB, for Ken's Bar Hiroshima, Instrumental Trumpet #3932, 300 bottles)

Fanny Fougerat 'Type 73' (49.6%, OB, Petite Champagne, 510 bottles, +/-2021)

François Voyer 'Lot 71 La Fête' (43.3%, Malternatives Belgium, 42 bottles)

Martell 1956 (43%, OB for La Maison du Whisky's 65th Anniversary, Grand Champagne, 2021)

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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