(Current entries)

Whisky Tasting


Daily Music entries



Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2011 - Part 1

August 2011 - part 2 <--- September 2011 - part 1 ---> September 2011 - part 2


September 14, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Old and new Bowmore
Today we’ll have two Bowmores, a young one and an old one, but the old one wasn’t bottled too long ago. Well, 2006 was five years ago, how time flies! (don't waste your breath, Serge)…
Bowmore Bowmore 10 yo 'Tempest' (56%, OB, first fill bourbon, Batch #2, 2010) Four stars Or is it 2011? Anyway, I thought batch #1 was superb at just 10yo (WF 88) so this shouldn’t be bad… Colour: gold. Nose: yes, it’s this clean, straight, smoky style of Bowmore, but with a layer of oak that does make it slightly, well, oaky at first nosing. No problems though, there’s also a whole bag of coastal and rather medicinal notes, such as antiseptic, tincture of iodine, then ashes and soot, then an earthiness… While reading my old notes for batch #1, I get the feeling that this new one is less citrusy and a tad oakier. There’s also more and more vanilla (ditto). With water: water killed the vanilla (hurray!) and let the Bowmoreness really come through. A walk on the beach along a grounded trawler and all that jazz. Great nose. Mouth (neat): powerful and rounded at the same time, on walnuts, vanilla and cigar ashes. Big stuff. There’s also a lot of cinnamon from the oak. With water: water didn’t kill the vanilla this time but it did become sharper (pleasantly so), earthier and more lemony. Brinier too. Finish: long, clean, with some peppermint and limoncello in the aftertaste. Comments: as expected, this is excellent, even if I feel it’s slightly more on the vanilla side than batch #1. Recommended anyway. SGP:457 - 87 points.
Bowmore 1970 Bowmore 35 yo 1970/2006 (51.3%, Signatory, Sheriff oloroso butt, cask #4687, 440 bottles) Four stars There used to be a cask #4689 by Signatory that was utterly stellar (WF 94) and a cask #4691 that was quite superb as well (WF 91). So this can’t be too bad either… Not too sure about what ‘Sheriff oloroso’ means, is it about the cask’s owners (Sheriff owned Bowmore) or did the company own a bodega? Colour: amber. Nose: sweet Jesus! This is very big, very infused, and it starts all on solvents and varnishes, almost as if it was 2yo bourbon. Not kidding, let’s give it a little time… zzz… zzz… Good, all that went away (never rush an old whisky!) and gave way to a spectacular combination of dried fruits, smoky tar (or rather tarry smoke) and very old pinot noir, Chambertin-style. That means prunes and figs, heavy liquorice and tarmac, and game (say well hung grouse – why not). Really spectacular despite some acetic touches that won’t go away this time, it’s almost a tad vinegary.

With water: yikes! It became metallic and much more vinegary, and once again I had to wait for quite a few minutes before all that settled down a bit. Metallised sultanas? Mouth (neat): a tidal wave of smoked prunes – should that exist – and heavy walnut liqueur, with the peat roaring in the background and quite some ham. The sherry is rather immense here, a tad dominating but really, wow, what a beast. With water: peated chocolate all over the place, plus these touches of vinegar yet again. Finish: long, dry, gamy and slightly acetic. Very ashy aftertaste. Comments: completely unorthodox, the cask may have been a tad ‘away’ at time of filling. Not enough sulphur? ;-). But some parts were superb, it was all quite an experience but careful with water. SGP:375 - 85 points. (many, many thanks for the experience, Gunnar!)

Aha, once again the youngster won, even if only by a small margin. I think we’ll have more heavy Bowmores tomorrow…


MUSIC - Recommended listening: another very unusual cover, and this time I think it works, she's Jane Duboc, she's from Brazil and she's signing Lady Jane. Very dolce... Please buy Jane Duboc's music.

Jane Duboc

September 12, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Bruichladdich Ten and 1986
So Bruichladdich just bottled their first 10yo distilled under the ‘new regime’ ever. In fact they bottled it right yesterday and the sample we’ve got comes from the very first bottles. We’ll oppose it to an older Bruichladdich that was bottled around the same time when the new 10 was distilled.
Laddie Ten

Bruichladdich 10 yo ‘The Laddie Ten’ (46%, OB, 2011) Four stars and a half A vatting of bourbon casks with a little sherry wood thrown in. No finishing/enhancing this time, it’s plain and pure Bruichladdich. This baby was obviously distilled in 2001 and will soon hit most shelves. Colour: gold. Nose: what strikes first is a fresh cleanliness that’s not without reminding us of the old 15 from the early 1990s. It’s also rather more maritime than other recent Bruichladdichs, with whiffs of sea breeze and then touches of lemon balm and pine sap and moss. Also a little vanilla and then more lemon zests. It’s maybe not the deepest nose ever but the freshness is impressive. Mouth: well, it’s more a ‘palate whisky’, because the attack is quite fantastic, very lightly salty but with a lot of vanilla fudge, barley sugar, icing sugar and orange drops. Lollipops? Excellent fruitiness, perfect body and a lot of pleasure. Finish: long, still vibrantly lemony, with a little more oak, pepper and ginger in the aftertaste. Comments: this whisky is a pleasure to see – and to taste. In my opinion this is Bruichladdich’s true milestone whisky. Together with Lagavulin 16, I’m afraid it’s my now become my favourite ‘entry-level’ Islayer but beware, this is dangerously drinkable because of the exciting freshness and citrusy notes. Highly recommended, and it’s not expensive at all. SGP:641 - 88 points.

Bruichladdich 1986 Bruichladdich 1986/2001 ‘Valinch – the first editions’ (53.5%, OB, oloroso, 1200 bottles) Two stars and a half These 1986s sherry have always been of high quality. Colour: amber. Nose: very dry and very chocolaty, with also nice touches of metal polish and cherry stems. Then more fresh mint, maybe chives, fresh mushrooms and a little seafood. Whelks? All that is almost as fresh as the new ten despite the heavier sherriness. With water: becomes more medicinal, quite curiously. Antiseptic? Also more dry sherry, walnuts… Mouth (neat): very nice attack, raisiny and lemony but then there are a few slightly offbeat notes in my opinion, such as some very strong liquorice and maybe notes of rotting oranges. Also this strange combination of bacon and lemon squash… With water: became a little straighter but it’s still slightly strange, although it’s very good whisky. More raisins and dried figs. Finish: long, slightly dusty, but also with some great notes of heather honey. Comments: a curious dram, with great moments but also something maybe a bit irregular. But it’s true it’s not easy after the brilliant new 10yo! SGP:551 - 79 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: good Hammond fun (if you're not against a bit of hand clapping) with the late Brother Jack McDuff playing Can't Get Satisfied live. That's on his LP 'Tobacco Road' - 1966. Please buy the good brother's music!


September 11, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Bruichladdich 40 years later
Today it’s going to be two other Bruichladdichs that’ll take the time warp machine. Time gap: probably a little less than 40 years as far as years of distillation are concerned.
Bruichladdich Sherry Bruichladdich 'Sherry Classic' (46%, OB, Fernando de Castilla Finish, +/- 2010) Three stars This baby was first matured in bourbon, and then finished in sherry casks. Not too sure about the age but probably quite young. Colour: straw. Nose: well, the sherry is light and does let the young spirit shine through, with the 'usual' peaches and melons as well as touches of graphite oil and paraffin. A little fresh butter too, maybe agaves and marzipan/almonds and just faint hints of beach sand. The whole is pleasantly light and fresh. Mouth: sweet, malty, fresh, fruity and slightly toasted/burnt (kirschy), maybe because it's still very young. Notes of berries, barley sugar, plum pie, then a little vanilla and just a few wee wine notes flying around. Also a little bubblegum. Finish: quite long, fruity, with a faint harshness in the aftertaste (kirsch again). Comments: I think this is classy spirit, I can't wait to try it at an older age and straight from good old refill wood! SGP:441 - 82 points.
Bruichladdich 1965 Bruichladdich 23 yo 1965 (54.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, cask series, 75cl, +/-1988) Five stars This was probably distilled roughly at the same time as the utterly stellar ‘15yo Mayflower’ that came in its famous decanter. Should be great, let’s see… Colour: gold. Nose: no sherry here, this is probably ex-refill. And what's extremely striking is that it's pretty close to the new baby, only a tad less roughish/spirity, thanks to its older age. In fact, the descriptors would be the same, just not in the same proportions. More marzipan and wax and less fresh fruits. Maybe also a little more smoke. The whole is quite beautiful, delicate and very elegant, which suggests that the 'new' Bruichladdich will be quite stunning once it reaches good age. With water:  the viscimetry is profound! ;-). There's also much more smoke as well as burnt wood, a little vanilla… Mouth (neat): yeah, same comments. This is brilliant, an old Bruichladdich with quite some punch and with a little less fruits that the famous 1070s. Notes of peat, tinned apricots, marzipan, stone fruits (and the spirits made thereof - reminds me of the kirsch in the 'Sherry Classic'), smoked tea… Also quite some lemon and icing sugar, it's all quite 'nervous'. With water: a huge fruit salad! Finish: long, still very fruity. All 'western' fruits here, no tropical ones. Comments: it's a thrill to try such old malt without much wood influence, you can really 'read' the spirit. Keyword here: elegance. SGP:642 - 91 points.

PS: I'm on Islay just now and could try the brand new Bruichladdich 10yo, the first 10yo from the 'new regime'. Believe me it's a cracker, expect some tasting notes soon.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: I think it's quite amazing that Mongolian music can be so close to the blues (think RL Burnside). Let's listen to the band Huun-Huur-Tu doing Kojamyk, with quite a bit of throat singing, and then buy their music. Oh, they aren't quite Mongolan, rather Tuvan (Russia) but that's quite close to Mongolia.


September 8, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Balmenach 2000 and 1978
Only a time gap of 22 years between these two distillation years, not sure there will be much difference. What’s more, it’s another little-known distillery, not too sure about what to expect…
Balmenach Balmenach 10 yo 2000/2011 (46%, Liquid Treasures, bourbon hogshead) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: well, this is another very natural young malt, all on pears, apples, grains and grass, with a little liquorice in the background. Character? Personality? Interest? Maybe not much but there’s no flaws either. And there’s also a little humus, I like humus in my whisky… Mouth: all good, perfect young malt, sweet, fruity and slightly spicy. Good maltiness, good graininess and fairly good bubblegumminess (excuse me?) Liquorice allsorts. Also notes of tinned fruits, apricots, pears… Which is good. Finish: medium long and good. Comments: good whisky. Seriously, this is absolutely flawless and I’m sure it would take ice even better than Shackleton (the explorer, not the whisky). SGP:541 - 82 points.
Balmenach Balmenach 21 yo 1978 (61.7%, Chieftain’s Choice, +/-1999) Two stars and a half One of the older liveries for the Chieftain’s Choice series. Colour: gold. Nose: starts on immense notes of new oak and flour, with also bags and bags of cocoa powder and then something slightly acidic/sour. A bit strange but all that may improve with a little water. So, with water: very austere, quite silent, and rather mineral, not in the best way. Chalk, aspirin tablets… Now I do like these whiffs of damp earth that we already found in the 2000. Mouth (neat): very big, tannic, acrid and bitter. I doubt this was meant to be sipped at cask strength… So, with water again: frankly better. Not just more to my liking, better. Pear juice, kiwi juice, white pepper, a little ginger… It’s really getting somewhere but that was long.
Finish: the best part, not only because it’s the end. Nice earthiness, white garden fruits, pepper, a little coriander… Comments: a bit bland for most of its glass life (what’s that?) but it did improve with the help of a little water… and time. Frankly, there used to be many of these unlikely casks around ten years ago, but most indie bottlers tend to offer much better whiskies these days in my opinion. Including Chieftain’s, of course. SGP:341 - 78 points.
See, the youngsters can also win!

MUSIC - Recommended listening: no little-known musician today, rather one of the masters of 'joyful soul', Curtis Mayfield, with Move on up. Move on up! (while I'm moving on up to Islay for a few days...) Please buy Curtis Mayfield's music...

Curtis Mayfiled

September 7, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Tomatin 1964 and 1976
This time we’ll have two Tomatins, the oldest one being both younger and lighter, if you see what I mean. Maybe the new one will win under those conditions…
Tomatin 15 Tomatin 15 yo 1964 (70°Proof, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur's Choice, 75cl, +/-1979) Three stars From the first instalments of the CC series… Colour: gold. Nose: I think this an example of anold malt that used to be fruity (old Tomatin, imagine) but that lost most of its fruitiness and became rather dry and tea-ish. It’s not unpleasant, but these metallic notes are too big and as much as I like mown grass in my malt, I’m not a sucker for tons of mown grass. Having said that, whiffs of banana skin do subsist… Mouth: this is funny, the palate is much more engaging, fresh and fruity, even if there is a little too much tea/cardboard at first sips. Nice notes of cough syrup or eucalyptus drops, maybe a little ham, pastries (croissants) and toasted brioche, with something funnily fruity arising after a few minutes. Cherries? Bubblegum? Finish: shortish and drying, which was to be expected. Tea, tea and tea. Comments: a whisky to intellectualise (ahem) a bit to fully enjoy it, some parts starting to whisper a bit too low in my opinion. But some moments are beautiful… SGP:351 - 82 points.
Tomatin Tomatin 34 yo 1976/2011 (48.7%, Liquid Sun, sherry butt, 366 bottles) Five stars These 1976 Tomatins are well known nowadays… Colour: full gold. Nose: ah yes! Fruit compotes and jams all over the place, plus touches of chocolate and cappuccino, then honey and dried fruits. Need I say more, even if there are myriads of tinier spicy/jammy tones? Absolutely lovely nose. With water: forget water this time, it doesn’t need it. Mouth: symphonic plums and oranges plus kumquats and banana liqueur. Superb notes of tropical fruits as well (passion fruits), a little Demerara sugar… And did I mention plums? And honey? Late harvest white wine? Vanilla fudge? Marmalade?... Finish: long, rich yet perfectly balanced, jammy, with the expected spices in the aftertaste (nutmeg and cinnamon here)… Comments: perfect, even if it’s maybe a tad rougher than other recent 1976s by the same gang. Anyway, great whisky – to think that Tomatin was so unnoticed in the olden days… SGP:641 - 91 points.
Did you notice? The newer bottling won this time, and that should happen again in the coming days… Hopefully!

MUSIC - Recommended listening: wow! if I may say so. A crazy guitar and a crazy Hammond, they're Danny Gatton and Joey DeFrancesco and they are playing Big Mo just before Gatton's passing, in 1994. Please buy these 'utter luminaries'' music, thanks. BONUS: this fantastic slow blues called The Pits. What a guitar!


September 6, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Very old Aultmore and a 1991
This time we’ll have two Aultmores, knowing that my experience with that distillery is abysmally inexistent. We’ll start with the oldie as it’s probably much lighter than the new one. Let’s see…
Aultmore Aultmore (43%, OB, 1950s) Five stars A very old official bottling, another proof that ‘official single malts’ are not a recent invention (you know the myth, there was nothing before Glenfiddich…) Colour: pale straw. Nose: a wonderful old Highlands style, waxy and mineral, with a good deal of smoke and linseed oil as well as notes of stewed apples, which makes it fairly fruitier than, say old Clynelish. Also slightly floral (roses). Then more metal polish (OBE?) and only hints of dust. Classic unsexy but oh-so elegant old style malt. And it’s no weak whisky! Mouth: again, this is surprisingly strong and assertive, as they say. Same profile as on the nose, even more Old Clynelish now. Mineral, peppery, sooty and rather mentholated, with a very distinct peatiness behind all that. Big peat in fact! I didn’t know that Aultmore could be so heavily peated in the old days, this is akin to, say a slightly lighter Talisker as far as peat smoke is concerned. Interesting and very good. Finish: amazingly long considering this one’s pedigree. Fifty years in glass and only 43% vol., this was big whisky when it was bottled. Comments: believe me, this baby will get a high score not only because it’s old, rare or whatever. It’s simply brilliant whisky  and it’s almost brutal! SGP:365 - 90 points (and thanks Geert, you were right).
Aultmore Aultmore 1991/2011 (52.8%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #7432) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: much, much, much more silent than the oldie, much more austere, grassy and grainy, with only distant whiffs of fresh mint as well as touches of fresh butter. This may need water… With water: becomes both fruitier (but there’s only apples, pears and maybe white cherries) and smokier, with also touches of fresh oak and vanilla. Smells like many young unsherried Speysiders now, which is quite pleasant. Mouth (neat): starts shy but less so than on the nose, with the alcohol’s burn and all that. It’s actually rather eau-de-vie-ish, raw and spirity, with burnt notes in the background. Not an easy one so far, but maybe water will do wonders. With water: indeed it’s much nicer, more complex, more satisfying. I get peaches, plums (jam), vanilla, the same faint smokiness as on the nose and maybe hints of rhubarb pie. Again, I quite like this. Finish: medium long, fruity, fresh, clean, with a malty and slightly peppery aftertaste. Comments: really good and balanced, kind of perfect in its style but forgettable in my opinion. The perfect definition of a 80-points whisky in my book. SGP:442 - 80 points.
Crickey, the oldie won again!… But we’ll manage to make a new one win, we’ll manage! Stay tuned…

MUSIC - Recommended listening: just two friends having a bit of fun with Louie Louie - as many did and still do - but this time it's, well, much fun, as they're Stanley Clarke and George Duke! Unlikely? You bet... Please buy their music.


September 5, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Recent Talisker and 1956
Today we’ll have two Taliskers of similar strength, one ‘young young’ and one ‘old old’, the youngster having been distilled more than 45 years after it’s ancestor.
Talisker North Talisker '57° North' NAS (57%, OB, 2010) Four stars and a half Earlier batches have been excellent in my opinion so this should be as good. Colour: pale gold. Nose: powerful, narrow but fresh, clean and as mineral and coastal as malt whisky can be at first sniffs. Not extravagant, rather displays a lot of self-restraint, so to speak. After one or two minutes, there’s more lemon and more peat but the whole remains kind of discreet and even humble. With water: smoke and ashes, ashes and smoke. It’s almost like putting your head into a coal stove – or rather a paraffin stove as it’s also quite waxy. Mouth (neat): superbly zesty, narrow again but extremely precise, chiselled as wine snobs say, all on lemon, peat, pepper and brine. In other words, doesn’t do much but what it does it does it very well. With water: same but becomes more coastal. Some unexpected touches of aromatic fruits. Litchis? I must be dreaming… Or that comes from the wood. Finish: long, sharp but slightly rounder than before, with touches of vanilla. Comments: excellent and, contrarily to many modern NAS’, not ridden with vanilla. Loud applause. SGP:367 - 88 points.
Talisker 1956 Talisker 34 yo 1956 (54.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask series, +/-1990) Five stars How many glories have been bottled under this immaculate ‘white’ label? Colour: full amber. Nose: aaah, these old peaters from sherry casks! An amazing combination of fruit ganache, old strawberry liqueur (say one that’s not too fruity), soot, fresh herbs (chives, mint, dill), soot and then these whiffs of vin jaune (flor, fresh walnuts) that are absolutely marvellous. Very old palo cortado. No powerhouse, rather an elegant old sherry monster. Yes, not quite a monster. With water: in-cre-di-ble now. All the herbs and spices of the creation, from thyme to mint and from star anise to cumin. Mouth (neat): oh whaaaah! An extreme concentrate of peat, bitter oranges and spices (pepper as expected but also cinnamon, heavy liquorice, caraway seeds, aniseed – cask strength pastis). A drier Chartreuse. Really an extreme whisky!  
With water: quite superb despite the slightly invading dry oakiness. Big peat, citrons, walnuts, bitter apples, ale… Finish: long, with an obvious tannicity, a lingering peatiness and a rather drying aftertaste. Cigar ashes. Comments: I’ve already noticed several times that Talisker was keeping its peatiness better than the Islayers when becoming older, and this baby was a good example. What a beast! Only the slightly drying finish was a tad below par. SGP:377 - 92 points.
NOTA BENE Right, right, after three ‘Time Warp’ tastings, I’m afraid a rushed conclusion would be that old bottlings were always better than new ones. That would be a generalisation and what’s more, I'm sure that wouldn’t be correct. So please let’s not jump to ‘distorted’ conclusions, thanks. Ahem, that doesn’t mean that I’ll manage to find some new stuff that’ll defeat their older sparring-partners... We’ll see, I promise I’ll try harder, stay tuned…

MUSIC - Recommended listening: Sheila Landis sounding a bit like Flora Purim in this beautiful tune called Mythica (no wonder). That was on her 1981 album 'Guess I'll Call It Love'. Please buy Sheila Landis' music, thanks.

Sheila Landis

September 4, 2011

Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Blends from the 2010s and 1930s
This time we’ll have two blends, starting with a ‘middle-range’ modern one (not a very old one but not an entry-level one either), followed by a very old blend by BBR, of probably around the same age. Will the oldie win? Not sure…
Cutty Cutty Sark 18 yo (43%, OB, blend, +/-2010) Two stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: very light, starting slightly citrusy, with touches of orange zests and then a little peat and hints of linseed oil and turpentine, and then maybe a little cardboard, waxed paper, fresh walnuts and apples. Again, it’s light, rather complex, not very malty and globally pleasant – even if maybe a bit too, say innocuous. Mouth: more body, more zing, more malt and just as much citrus. Honey. Quite some cardboard and tea as well, bitter chocolate, ‘old pepper’ and then a combination of more pepper and liquorice. The middle is a tad weaker than the attack but I think it’s good for a not too expensive blend.

Finish: medium long, with a bit of burnt wood. Nice aftertaste on orange marmalade and honey. Comments: certainly one of the better blends in my book, but as much as these large brands can come up with very decent compositions, I feel they never quite manage to hold a candle to the boutique blends ala Black Bull or Compass Box. Oh well… SGP:331 - 79 points.

BBR Berry's Best Blended Scotch (43%, Berry Bros & Rudd, 1930s) Four stars and a half Quite a few bottles of this surfaced in recent months, which does not obligatorily mean that they’re fakes! Colour: pale gold. Nose: game, set and match, and indeed that was to be expected. More oomph, more ‘wideness’, more fruits, more phenolic notes, more herbs, more malt, more spices… In short, more of everything. What’s amazing here is the freshness and the ‘vibrancy’, as today’s writers say. I also seem to recognize an old-Laphroaigness, which can only be good news. Impressive old blend but I guess it was top shelf material at the time. Mouth: little OBE (for the newcomers, that means Old Bottle Effect) and a lot of peat, which wasn’t uncommon in these old blends. Tar, grassy peat, pepper, nutmeg, then marmalade, ashes, maybe a little soft curry and cumin, wax, bitter herbs (raw parsley, spinach)… It’s all dry and tarry, incredibly rich for an old bottle at 43%. Finish: long, peaty, peppery, with notes of mint in the aftertaste. Maybe a tad too bitter at this point. Comments: a rather stunning old blend that’s well worth a high mark in my book. Impressive. SGP:263 - 89 points (and thanks Patrick).

MUSIC - Recommended listening: the rare sax player Shamek Farrah and his First impressions (from First impressions, 1974). Wasn't he ahead of his time? Please buy Shamek Farrah's music...


September 2, 2011

Time Warp

Introducing the Time Warp Sessions
We spent the whole Summer trying slightly unlikely – yet fun – flights of three very different whiskies.

That was nice but probably less ‘consistent’ than what we usually do, which is tasting and comparing whiskies from the same distilleries, which usually reveals nuances and variations better than when you try ‘random’ versions. Summer fun is over, time to go back to WF’s usual format but I’ll still try to make it a little more interesting by trying to systematically oppose old and recent versions of the same distilleries for a while. We’ll call that the ‘Time Warp Tastings’. Why not!
Time Warp The Time Warp Sessions
Springbank 1999 and 1965
We’ll kick this off with two very interesting Springbanks, a new 1999 Local Barley and an old 1965 SMWS. Time gap: 34 years. And both bottled for a 'society'...
Springbank 11 Springbank 11 yo 1999/2011 ‘Local Barley’ (57.9%, OB, Springbank Society, Recharred Sherry Butt, 516 bottles) Four stars and a half A new Local Barley, imagine what that means to old school whisky fans! What’s more, this is from a single barley variety (Prisma) and from a single farm. Colour: full gold. Nose: starts very hot and very varnishy, almost bourbon-like despite the ‘sherry’ component. What’s also interesting is that it’s also very farmy (single farm!) and tarry at the same time. Bitter chocolate. Then more glue, walnut stain and loads of marzipan as well as a little peat smoke. It’s a huge whisky, very concentrated and very unusual so far.
With water: becomes very animal and even farmier. Cow stable, horse sweat and old balsamico, with something medicinal in the background, a bit ala Longrow. Calms down after quite some time (fifteen minutes) and becomes rounder and more on dried fruits. Fun nose. Mouth (neat): as wacky as new Springbanks can be, rich, restless, wide yet heavy, tarry, herbal, smoky, grassy, mineral… There’s also a lot of liquorice, from roots to salmiak, and a rather obvious Jaegermeisterness. Excuse me. With water: excellent, very acrid in a nice way, bitter, very herbal… The smokiness grew bigger as well. Finish: very long, bitter and just as Jaegermeistery as before. I’m sorry. Comments: quite a beast. I don’t think you’d have four glasses of this in a row, for it’s so big, but it’s really spectacular even if I tend to like the ‘clean/sharp’ ones even better. And remember what Sir Alexander Fleming said: "If penicillin can cure those that are ill, Spanish sherry can bring the dead back to life." Aha. SGP:373 - 88 points.
Springbank Springbank 1965/1987 (60.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.10) Five stars Instead of an older Local Barley, we’ll have this rare old bottling by the honourable society… Deepest expectations here… Colour: full gold. Nose: holy featherless crow! This screams ‘old Springbank’ and this baby is much closer to most old Local Barleys than the new Local Barley (are you following?) Big whisky yet again but it’s much more on old polished wood, dried figs and dates, hazelnut liqueur and metal polish. Also whiffs of camphor and cough syrup. Perfect, even at such high strength. With water: hopelessly superb. Look, we haven’t gotten all day, have we. Mouth (neat): please call the anti-maltoporn brigade! Monstrously rich yet so elegant… I think those were the vintages that granted Springbank the ‘Grand Cru’ status in the Sunday Times. With water: insane complexity and with balance! Fruits, honeys, spices, herbs, minerals, phenolic stuff, whatever. Old magic. Finish: absolutely endless, which can be problematic. Don’t go to a job interview on the same day, and please also advise your fiancé(e)/husband/wife. Comments: these old Springbanks make you go ballistic – as you might have noticed. SGP:562 - 95 points (and thanks mucho, Marcel).

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a silly yet clever but very catchy funky slice of flute by Seatrain. It's called 'Flute thing' (recorded in the early 1970s I guess), which says long about this excellent band's intentions. Please buy Seatrain's music!


September 1, 2011

Whiskyfun fav of the month

August 2011

Favourite recent bottling:
Glenfarclas 43 yo 1968/2011
(47,5%, OB, Family Cask for Luc Timmermans, Manzanilla, cask #697, 133 bottles) - WF 94

Favourite older bottling:
Caol Ila 18 yo 1977/1995
(52.1%, Wilson & Morgan, cask # 93.134-36, 288 bottles) - WF 93

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:

Ardbeg 'Uigeadail'
(54.2%, OB, 2010) - WF 92
Summer Session Random summer trio
Gordon & MacPhail have launched a very nice series of Glenlivets earlier this year, including a smashing 70yo. Why not have the much younger 1991 today?
Glenlivet Decades Glenlivet 1991/2010 (54.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, Decades, 259 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: hot, slightly spirity at very first sniffs, but developing on very nice notes of garden fruits. Apples, peaches, pears and plums. On top of that, quite some corn syrup and vanilla. Rather in the style of the officials. With water: more of the same, remains a tad hot and spirity. More barley sugar. Mouth (neat): apple juice and kirsch! It's quite unusual, with also a strange grassiness. Turnips? Celeriac? Unusual indeed. With water: very good, even if youngish. Sweetened apple and orange juices, then barley sugar and corn syrup. Simple, but balance is perfect. Finish: long, very 'natural', close to sweet barley. Hints of 'light' marshmallows. Comments: a very good, albeit youngish Glenlivet au naturel. SGP:541 - 83 points.
Why not have an older one now, such as the 1980 from the same series?
Glenlivet 1980/2010 (48.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, Decades, 117 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: once again, we're in the style of the officials, with the same notes of garden fruits and vanilla but this is also much more complex than the 1991, with touches of flowers, honey, pollen and figs. And earthiness in the background, maybe whiffs of struck matches. With water: became a little narrower, which is a tad strange. Rather leafier, with also quite some tobacco. Mouth (neat): very good, nervous, fruity and candied, with also some liquorice and orange zests. A little leather as well, then more and more oak. With water: more spices and some herbal notes 'from the wood'. A little tannic. Finish: long, herbal, dry. Walnuts and leather, then a little lemon. Comments: not very easy to assess, this one. Some parts were really wonderful when tasted neat, some others were more, say 'middle-of-road', especially with water that made it very dry. SGP:451 - 84 points.
I think I've got an even older one resting on my shelves… The only one I haven't tasted yet…
Glenlivet 1974/2010 (50.1%, Gordon & MacPhail, Private Collection, Decades, 245 bottles) Four stars Colour: amber. Nose: this one has much more sherry, chocolate, prunes, fudge and fruitcake. Touches of gunpowder as well, also a little parsley. Gets rather herbal after a while, with even more parsley but also mint, sage… Also a faint mustiness (damp cellar). With water: gets very meaty this time. Cured ham and just touches of musk. Also quality soy sauce, very nice. Mouth (neat): very strange! A big, dry sherry with a feeling of saltiness and a lot of walnut liqueur and ultra-dry Madeira. Tobacco, strong tea (Russian style), cocoa powder… As I wrote, ultra-dry. With water: behaves well for one or two seconds, becomes too drying after that, and becomes very nice again once quite a lot of oranges and lemons have entered the dance. Fun! Finish: same sequence, with the tannins and the lemons merging in the pleasant aftertaste. Comments: it seems that the excellent G&M have chosen casks that were wildly different and really wanted to stress those differences. Well, they succeeded! SGP:461 - 85 points.

MUSIC - Recommended listening: a bit of old blues today with Chicago's legendary Earl Hooker and the... End of the blues. Oh no! Please buy Earl Hooker's music...

Earl Hooker

August 2011 - part 2 <--- September 2011 - part 1 ---> September 2011 - part 2

heck the index of all entries:
Nick's Concert Reviews



Best malts I had these weeks - 90+ points only - alphabetical:

Aultmore (43%, OB, 1950s)

Bruichladdich 23 yo 1965 (54.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, cask series, 75cl, +/-1988)

Springbank 1965/1987 (60.9%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, #27.10)

Talisker 34 yo 1956 (54.4%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask series, +/-1990)

Tomatin 34 yo 1976/2011 (48.7%, Liquid Sun, sherry butt, 366 bottles)