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Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2012 - Part 1

August 2012 - part 2 <--- September 2012 - part 1 ---> September 2012 - part 2


September 14, 2012


Tasting the new Tun 1401
and another Balvenie

So there are new batches of the very popular (coz it’s good) Balvenie Tun 1401. Let’s have #5 today but before that one, a worthy aperitif: one of the various 1979s that Cadenhead have bottled in he past.


Balvenie-Glenlivet 12 yo 1979/1992 (59.5%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 150th Anniversary) Two stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: a pure, crystal-clean very Balvenie-ish fruitiness that involves Mirabelle plums, apricots and then more light honey (acacia) and whiffs of wood smoke. It’s quite raw and young but the fruitiness works very well in this context. After a few minutes, more and more pine sap and pine wood smoke come through. With water: cut grass all over the place, then more chalk and cut raw potatoes. Unusually austere for Balvenie, even if some 15yo SB have been a bit like this as well if I remember well. Mouth (neat): a handful of pear and apricot drops plus a green spiciness. Green tea (big big big) and cardamom. Another beastly one, far from Balvenie’s usual lusciousness. With water: becomes very lemony, which often happens with young malts. Also a little medicinal, with some antiseptic and maybe touches of eucalyptus. Finish: medium long, clean, grassy. The aftertaste is even grassier. Comments: an austere young Balvenie. Not very dazzling in my opinion but nicer than other 1979s by CAD that I could try. SGP:361 - 78 points.


Balvenie 'Tun 1401' (50.1%, OB, batch #5, 2012) Five stars This time it’s a vatting of five sherry and four bourbon casks (update, it's the other way 'round), the oldest being a venerable 1966 and the youngest a 1991. Colour: amber. Nose: oh well, this is very intriguing, it starts on notes of dark trappist beer (I had a Westmalle the other day that was smelling a bit like this Balvenie). That means ‘good’ caramel, cereals, a lot of malt and then more chocolate and heavy honey (chestnut and such). Superbly unusual. After that, more ‘classic’ dried fruits including plums and raisins. Very interesting… With water:  stunning beehivy notes. Mouth (neat): firm and smooth at the same time, fruity and rounded, very sexy. I’d swear the old cask had a lot too say, even if it was probably quite woody (which may have become an asset to the vatting while that might have been ‘too much’ for a single cask). Bags of sultanas, barrows of ripe apricots and lorries of plums and oranges plus touches of cinnamon, dark chocolate and honeydew. Dangerously drinkable, even when neat. With water: almost extraordinary, I’m a fan. This series was a masterstroke. Finish: not the longest but I love glazed chestnuts and there are millions in there. Comments: I’m not sure I don’t like this one even better than the previous batches. SGP:641 - 91 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: John Zorn. Track: A Tiki for Blue. Please visit John Zorn's website and buy his music!

September 13, 2012


Bastille, avec mes excuses
and a redemption

There’s this new thing that, apparently, was rated 94 points by the ‘Beverage Testing Institute’. Now, the latter added that it’s an “enigmatic whisky that will make unique cocktails.” Scary, isn’t it.


Bastille 1798 (40%, OB, blend, France, +/-2012) This is a blend that’s marketed as a French whisky. Oddly enough, it’s totally unavailable in France. Colour: orangey gold (and we know what that means). Nose: an odd fruitiness, between rotting oranges and second-grade chutneys, Fanta, overripe pears and banana liqueur. Rye that’s gone wrong. I’d say its acceptable but we’re not quite in whisky territories. Reminds me of some Indian whiskies I could try in the past (not Amrut, of course!) Mouth: very sweet, lazy, sugary and too fruity and liqueurish for my taste. Cheap orange liqueurs, corn syrup, hints of tinned litchis and very average gewürztraminer. Well, you must get the drift. Finish: short but there is a little oak that comes through. Cheap ‘arranged’ rum. Comments: I do not know what’s in it and I do not know of any French whisky distillery that makes such spirit. I doubt it’s fully French and in any case, some tweakings must have taken place, like the use of different woods – not just oak - and ‘seasonnings’. Maybe kind of drinkable if you haven’t got anything else but it’s way too sweet! I also hate to read that this is “the first hand-crafted whisky from France”. PR gone mad, utter codswallop. Oh, and most French whisky distilleries make much, much, and I mean much better whisky so please do not imagine Bastille is an example of what French whisky can be, thank you. SGP:820 - 35 points.

Right, another whisky is needed, and a genuine one! Oh, yeah, there’s the new Flaming Heart by Compass Box that I could try at WL Paris, at our friend Mark Gillespie’s instigation…

Flaming Heart Compass Box

Flaming Heart ‘4th Release’ (48,9%, Compass Box, 2012) Five stars To be honest, I had already adored some previous versions, such as the ‘2nd release’ from 2007 (WF 90). Colour: dark straw. Nose: impeccable start, on a rather more refined peat than elsewhere (I mean in youngish single malts) and touches of agave and cane juice on top of an elegant Laphroaigness. Beeswax and seawater, antiseptic and overripe apples, bandages and damp clay, Japanese green tea and linseed oil. Then fresh mint, lime, oysters and just touches of diesel oil. Lovely lovely lovely. Mouth: the first thing I like here is the strength. Sounds odd, I know, but these 48.9% work extremely well, it’s nervous and big but approachable and, well, drinkable. Other than that, it’s a superb combination of pink grapefruits, shellfish, olive brine, marzipan, lemon, touches of fresh coriander, lemon balm, some kind of waxy citrons and plain green olives. Passion fruits, cough syrup, liquorice... It’s very smoky too. Finish: great as well because it remains elegant, zesty, even kind of ethereal despite all the oomph. Leaves your mouth a fresh as a baby’s! Comments: no, really, this is truly excellent. The bottle’s lovely too, it’ll be hard to throw it away once it’s empty (which will happen fast). Potential lamp stands? Nah, too narrow… SGP:446 - 91 points. (Didn’t I just score a fairly young vatting above 90?)


I had first tried the new Flaming Heart at Whisky Live Paris for Mark’s WhiskyCast and the whisky was very different on the nose, most probably because we had a very narrow and very tall glass from Schott-Zwiesel’s. The peat was very shy while it’s big when you use a ‘normal’ glass shaped like, say a Glencairn. That stresses the importance of the glasses we use even more, never, ever underestimate it. I think phenols and other heavier components just don’t manage to climb up such a tall and narrow glass.

<<< Schott-Zwiesel TopTen no.8 (21.3 cm high). Probably good for unaged spirits but not for matured ones, esp. the peaters.



Block Today: ROCK AND ROLL. Performer: Rory Gallagher. Track: Bullfrog Blues. Please buy Rory Gallagher's music!

September 12, 2012


Tasting Dalmore 1990

There’s a new OB for La Maison du Whisky that’s already got quite a reputation (and the price to match) so let’s try it today, along another recent 1990 and, as a worthy aperitif, a much younger 1990 at high strength.

Dalmore 8

Dalmore 8 yo 1990/1998 (60.4%, Dun Eideann, cask #10942, 600 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: a very raw, very estery and quite smoky spirit at first nosing. Bags and bags of apples and oranges plus a good deal of wood smoke, barbecue… And the barley’s very loud as well. Again, quite a brute when undiluted. Wax. With water: becomes ultra-dry and extremely grassy. Burnt grass, garden fire, burning wood… More and more liquorice wood as well, a little tar… Not an easy one for sure. Also funny whiffs of fresh fish. Yes. Mouth (neat): very punchy and very fruity. Wine gums, orange drops and then quite some black pepper. It’s young and it tastes young. With water: as often, it became much cleaner, creamier, even fruitier… Marmalade and white pepper. Much better now in my opinion. Finish: medium long, more on bitter oranges and more white pepper. Comments: needs a lot of water but then it’s very pleasant. SGP:531 – 83 points.

Dalmore 1990

Dalmore 1990/2012 (51.8%, OB, LMdW, bourbon barrel, cask #1) Five stars Cask #1, how cool is that? And an unassuming bourbon barrel, at that! Colour: gold. Nose: oh, this is very American, in a good way (as always, right?) A huge vanilla cake and a no less huge brioche at first nosing, then more toasts, praline, barley water and the expected milk chocolate and softer oranges. After that, myriads of tinier yet rather aromatic notes such as orange blossom, aniseed, maybe rosewater and then a little smoke again. Hay. Lovely nose, without the usual heavy sherry/caramel combo. With water: a huge fruit salad. Typical development with active American oak. Litchis, roses… Mouth (neat): same feeling as at first nosing, the American oak talks first, with a lot of vanilla and cinnamon, the whole being complemented with more milk and white chocolates after a few seconds, then Dalmore-ish oranges and also tangerines, Turkish delights and maybe touches of bananas and coconut. With water: plain oak comes out more, together with more bananas, but it’s all lovely. Finish: medium long, quite tropical in fact. Bananas and oranges with a dash of white pepper. Comments: one of the best middle-aged Dalmores I could try, with something that’s not too far from the stupendous old 20yo silver and black label (1970s). SGP:641 - 90 points. (Jean-Marc, I think you were right).

Dalmore DL 1990

Dalmore 21 yo 1990/2011 (54.7%, Douglas Laing, Director's Cut, sherry butt finish, DL Ref #7152, 297 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: full gold. Nose: this is very different and I’m afraid it’s got the death seat after the OB. The finishing makes it rather more vulgar – nothing excessive though -, with some cherry stems and leaves, blackcurrants, some gunpowder and struck matches, a little rubber, a little tar, some game… I’m not sure it’s all fully integrated but let’s see what water will do to it. With water: more gunpowder, in a nicer way this time. Walnuts, burnt papers, old leather… Water works well. Also became more metallic. Mouth (neat): raw, very grassy, aggressive… Bags of leaves, pepper, bitter herbs, green tannins… Its actually quite pleasant but you have to like this bitterness. Pretty un-Dalmore so far. With water: a miracle happened! The bitterness became much lower while many fruits, similar to the OB’s, started to come through. Oranges ‘of course’ but also these touches of roses and Turkish delights, ‘fruit salad’… Finish: medium long, with a spicier oakiness (cinnamon, ginger). Comments: interesting ‘two in one’ whisky. Just like the 8yo, it needs quite some water in my opinion. SGP:561 - 84 points.

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



Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Al Rose Trio (obscure stuff from the 1960s). Track: Drum Talk. Sort of the official - and private - soundtrack for the Laphroaig masterclass we did with Dave Broom at WL Paris, thanks to Stephen Marshall. Please buy Al Rose's music!

September 11, 2012


Tasting two heavy Benrinnes

Heavy sherry + Benrinnes = bang! Well, usually… If you hate gunpowder and rubber, well, you may pass…

Benrinnes WSD

Benrinnes 17 yo 1994/2011 (55.1%, Douglas Laing, Old Malt Cask for Whisky Shop Dufftown, sherry butt, 300 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts on a lot of sherry, of the ‘nicely rubbery’ kind (boots). I mean, rubber can be either nice or repulsive in whisky in my opinion, here it’s an asset. Other than that, there are loads of bitter oranges, orange peel, raisins, dates, leather and clay/gravel and ham. With water: leaves, pine needles, steel, gunpowder. Mouth (neat): Finish: very rich, with oranges in all their forms plus a lot of cardamom and pepper. It’s a heavy spirit that becomes more and more herbal, we’re heading towards Jaegermeister at cask strength. Very bitter in fact, spectacular and certainly not for everyone. With water: really excellent now, if you like this style. Spicy orange marmalade, pepper and marshmallows. Comments: again, this is maybe not for everyone but in it’s rubbery/rich style, it’s pretty perfect. Heavy first fill sherry. SGP:662 - 88 points.

Benrinnes Manager

Benrinnes 12 yo ‘The Manager's Dram' (63%, OB, bottled 1988) Four stars In theory, this was distilled in 1975 or 1976. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s a very sulphury spirit, very unusual. It’s not sulphur from the cask, it’s from the spirit. That gives it a medicinal side, whiffs of bandages, rubber bands, new car, tyres, chalk… It’s also pretty butyric. As I said, unusual… With water: it became very gamey. Cured ham, struck matches… Mouth (neat – with fear): it is powerful but quite curiously, it’s kind of sippable, you just have to be careful. The sulphur is back, together with bags of bitter oranges, tangerines and then a lot of cardamom and even green curry. Touches of Tabasco as well, aspirin tablets… Becomes more tart after that, with some lemon squash and drops. Did I write that this is unusual whisky? With water: resembles the 1994 now. The combination of Benrinnes’ character with first fill sherry (this must have been first fill as well) makes sparks fly. Finish: long, more mineral. Some kind of cocktail involving triple-sec and various spices. Bitter almonds in the aftertaste. Comments: even more difficult than the 1994 but almost as rewarding. SGP:562 - 86 points.

(Many thanks, Tom!)

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



Block Today: BRAZILIAN JAZZ. Performer: Hermeto Pascoal. Track: Briguinha de Musicos Malucos No Coreto. Please visit Hermeto Pascoal's website and buy his music!

September 10, 2012


Two very Bladnochian Bladnoch

Bladnoch 1991

Bladnoch 21 yo 1991/2012 (52.9%, The Whiskyman and The Bonding Dram, 118 bottles) Four stars and a half A celebratory bottling selected by whisky lovers, so probably good stuff. Colour: white wine. Nose: starts as fresh and citric as Bladnoch can be but it’s not a light one, as a big grassiness never stops growing after a few seconds. There’s also quite some almond oil, fresh mint, touches of white bread, ginger tonic and a little green oak. I think this one stayed quite close to the barley despite the 21 years in wood, water may be needed. With water: some kind of lemon-flavoured white bread, or rather lemon brioche. Simple and fresh, very pleasant. Mouth (neat): textbook fruity Bladnoch! Tangerines galore plus some passion fruits and, of course, lemon. Also a little coriander and sorrel. Not all Bladnochs do display this distillery character but this one does on the palate! With water: excellent, more typically Bladnoch than Blandoch. A giant fruit salad. Finish: medium long, clean, all on those fruits including a little banana. Comments: I don’t think the nose was out of this world but the palate was 120% Bladnoch from the good years. Worth entering a liquid library of Scottish malts. SGP:741 - 88 points.

Not easy to find a proper sparring partner, let’s rummage through our shelves… Oh, there’s this one that I never tried…

Bladnoch 1985

Bladnoch 1985/1996 (56.8%, Gordon & MacPhail, Cask Series, casks #318, 352, 870, 871) Three stars and a halfColour: pale gold. Nose: it’s rather a big fino-ish sherry that talks first this time, with more almonds and walnuts than in the 1991, but Bladnoch’s lemon is soon to take control, together with quite some plain oak and a little violet (sweets). It’s a rather rough one in fact but many whiskies in this series were pungent when undiluted, and were becoming much wider and complex once water had been added. Let’s see whether that will happen indeed… With water: the violets remain, the vanilla kicks in and so does quite some white chocolate. Unusual and fun. Mouth (neat): rich, creamy and ultra-sweet. Bags and bags of jellybeans (I mean, Haribo’s whole range) in a gangue of bitterish oak. And lemon drops. Very spectacular; to the point where it becomes kind of artificial/chemical, but that may be me. With water: wine gums and more jellybeans. Bubblegum (Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit). Finish: medium long and even more candy-like. Comments: spectacular, maybe even a little ‘too much’. Not even Rosebank ever got this fruity. SGP:851 – 84 points.

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





Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Horace Silver. Track: Dameron's Dance (from Silver 'n Brass, 1975). Please visit Horace Silver's website and buy his music!

September 7, 2012


Tasting even more Clynelish

There’s more 1997 Clynelish and we just won’t complain… This little website will soon become clynelishfun.com.

Clynelish Liquid

Clynelish 15 yo 1997/2012 (49.1%, Liquid Treasures) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: this is a pretty citric/tart one, with also quite some brine and coastal notes, and rather little wax and putty at first nosing. Also touches of yeast and leavened bread. It’s only after a good ten minutes that more was arises, paraffin, whiffs of motor oil, wet rocks, clay, grapefruits… With water: a blend of seawater and lemon juice. Funny hints of roasted peanuts. Mouth (neat): yeah, riesling. Rocks, smoke, wax, other minerals, a little green curry, pepper, capsicum… A little fruit as well, gooseberries, ‘ideas’ of tinned litchis, also citrons but the whole remains quite austere and very straight. With water: not much changes but it’s excellent. Fresh strawberries? Finish: medium long, with a salty tang, as they say, and a pleasant sourness in the aftertaste. Comments: all good, all very good. Great ‘naked’ Clynelish. SGP:363 - 87 points.

Clynelish Svenska

Clynelish 1997/2012 (57%, Svenska Eldvatten, cask #5722) Five stars This one from Sweden. The Swedes know their Clynelish. Colour: gold. Nose: the cask was more active this time, which is what the colour suggested anyway. Probably first fill bourbon. Starts on some kind of waxed vanilla, hints of patchouli, earth and roots, then more coastal notes like in the Treasure. Maybe a little aniseed as well. With water: becomes wilder. Dried seaweed, farmyard, bonfire smoke, vanilla cake (granted, vanilla cake isn’t very wild). Mouth (neat): superb! Very rich, almost thick, extremely citrusy, very nervous, waxy of course, peppery… It’s a big fat baby but it hasn’t lost any of its inherent elegance (what?), quite the contrary. I must say it does taste more ‘1982-1983’ than ‘1997’, as a dedicated Clynelish exegete would say. Toasted bread. With water: perfect. I love these gingery touches (almost curry-like) from the wood that add some extra-dimension. Finish: long, rich, citrusy, perfect. Comments: let’s go pester the Swedes and try to make them abandon a few bottles of this superb liquid. It really reminds me of the official Manager’s Choice that came from the same vintage. SGP:652 - 90 points.

WAIT! Why not try to see to which extend that baby was close to a 1982…

Clynelish cadenhead

Clynelish 12 yo 1982/1994 (65.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Five stars More than 65% vol., that’s almost rocket fuel! I already had a compadre that was bottled @64.2% for the US in 1995, it was excellent but, cough, cough, s-t-r-o-n-g! (WF 88) Colour: white wine. Nose: exploding gooseberries and a lot of coal smoke but that’s all I’ll try to get, I’ll need my nostrils in the coming days. Well, it’s also quite farmyardy. With water: ha-ha, it’s a wild one. Wet dogs (I’m really sorry, dogs), damp clothes and earth, clay, ‘light’ manure, then more chalk, graphite oil and humus. Both mineral and organic. Mouth (neat): just a quarter of a drop is enough to unload tons of lemons on your tongue, but to get more you need more, so water please. With water: young perfection made whisky. Mind you, it’s not an easy drop and I guess it’s not everyone’s cup of malt, but it’s mine. Greatly acrid, lemony, bitter, Chartreusy. Finish: sharp, straight, very zesty and endless. Peppery aftertaste. Comments: they were making fab spirit at Clynelish in 1982. The quality level is very similar to the great Svenska Eldvatten so, same score from me. BTW, shouldn’t we start to see 30yo 1982 Clynelishes? Please, shoot! SGP:373 - 90 points. (thanks Tom)

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



Block Today: ELECTRIC BLUES. Performer: Bryce Janey. Track: Funky Guitar Blues. Please visit Bryce Janey's website and buy his music!

September 6, 2012


Tasting more unusual and very potent Glen Scotia

Great, more entertaining whisky. Glen Scotia’s not always stunning in my experience – to put it mildly - but it’s never boring. Whacky babies…

Scotia Wemyss

Glen Scotia 20 yo 1991/2012 ‘Strawberry Ganache’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, sherry butt, 833 bottles) Three stars and a half Oh dear, strawberry ganache… Aren’t we expecting some kind of vinosity? Colour: amber. Nose: VERY vinous. Orange zests, marmalade, gunpowder, rubber, peonies, chocolate, blackcurrant jam and a good deal of green tea at first nosing, then more tobacco, putty and touches of balsamic vinegar, while the gunpowder falls back into line, if I may say so. There’s even quite some smoke coming through, this baby never stops improving over time. Caramelised peanuts and pecans. Mouth: it’s big and it’s much smokier and more peppery now, getting almost bitter in fact. Heavy notes of bitter herbal liqueur, bitter oranges, some kind of green curry, mustard… Not was I was expecting at all, not too sure about what comes from the distillate and what comes from the butt. Notes of leaves, black olives… And more pepper. Finish: long, salty now (salmiak). Bitter/green aftertaste, with more pepper (green). Comments: it’s a surprise, and a good one. The palate may lack roundness and fruitiness (strawberries, really?) but the whole does the trick. It is entertaining whisky! SGP:373 - 84 points.

Scotia Archives

Glen Scotia 20 yo 1992/2012 (50.4%, Archives, hogshead, cask #08/71, 80 bottles) Three stars and a half A micro-bottling, this one. Colour: straw. Nose: very Glen Scotia, in a good way, it’s even got something Longrowish. Putty and new newspapers (right, ink and paper), a lot of coal smoke, soot, a little saltpetre, bonfire, then more brioche and vanilla, toasted bread… And asparagus. In fact it’s rather unusual, much smokier than expected. And it’s very entertaining. After a few minutes: more youth, more pears. With water: a lot of gunpowder, truffles… Mouth: it’s a curious combination of fruity liveliness (pears…), greenness again (grass, leaves, bitter herbs like in the 1991) and spices (nutmeg first). Also bitter almonds and a lot of pepper. Interesting (and entertaining) but not very easy. With water: easier, fruitier, the best of use of water. Lemon, lime, coriander and green pepper. Swims extremely well. Finish: long, with more yoghurty tones, very Glen Scotia this time. Earthy aftertaste. Comments: more Picasso than Turner if you see what I mean. If you like avant-garde whisky, try this very, err, entertaining baby ;-). SGP:372 - 83 points.

Scotia MOS

Glen Scotia 1992/2012 (51.9%, Malts of Scotland, sherry hogshead, cask #MoS 12031, 158 bottles) Four stars Some heaviness to be expected according to the colour. Colour: dark amber. Nose: we’re more or less in the same territories as with the Wemyss, this one is just a little straighter and certainly less vinous. Well, there’s a lot of wine but it’s more classic dry oloroso. Beautiful whiffs of polished woods (all sorts) start to come out, roasted chestnuts, smoked beef, prunes, humidor. Gets then meatier, with also more menthol. A new bag of cough drops. After a few minutes, more, much more balsamic vinegar. A beautiful nose altogether, you could spend hours nosing this. I can’t see how water could further improve it so let’s pass… Mouth: big rich rounded at first sips, then gets extremely mentholated and herbal, it’s a decoction. Strong Demerara rum, liquorice, liquorice and more liquorice. Let’s see what water does this time: becomes drier and woodier but that works very well in this context. Herbal teas, toffee, chocolate, touches of Swiss cheese. Finish: long, on walnut liqueur. Comments: a great surprise. It’s certainly not textbook distillate but I believe the sherry hogshead was of the highest order. SGP:462 - 87 points.

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



Block Today: BLUES. Performer: Blue Voodoo. Track: Your Blues Is My Blues Now. Please visit Blue Voodoo's website and buy their music!

September 5, 2012


Tasting two punchy blends

So there’s yet another Johnnie Walker and I’m trying really hard to follow… This time it’s a ‘casks editions’ that’s to be found in travel retail and we’ll try to find a fitting sparring partner/aperitif. Travel, you said travel? Then why not this…

White Horse

White Horse (unknown ABV, Peruvian import, 1945) Five stars A bottle that our excellent friend Angus found in Peru last year. Colour: full gold. Nose: very smoky/waxy! In fact, it’s incredibly big, phenolic, spicy, meaty, sooty… There’s some propolis, chlorophyll, coal, mastic, bitter oranges, wet wood, moss, antiseptic, hessian, ink, liquorice, old books, old car engine, tobacco, star anise, peonies, pulco… Wait, no, on second though, there’s very little pulco, but this complexity is astounding. Hard to say what was there in the first place and what came from additional maturation in glass. Yes, not to mention the Peruvian climate… Mouth: you would expect such an old bottle to be tired and flat and it’s exactly the opposite. Salty, costal, smoky, sooty, it’s almost as if you would have just put twenty different cough lozenges into your mouth. The one that really stands out is ‘Pulmoll’, not too sure where and when that was available outside France. Quite some olive oil too. Anyway, a very intense, resinous/sappy and smoky experience. Finish: very long, even saltier now. Comments: most old bottles of White Horse are to be… well, you know what I mean. Old White Horse used to be incredibly big whisky. SGP:373 - 91 points.

Blue Label

Johnnie Walker Blue Label 'The Casks Edition' (55.8%, OB, 2012) Four stars Casks Edition, funny name, that. Do they mean Cask Strength? Colour: full gold. Nose: it’s more discrete, shier than the White Horse, and more ‘modern’ as well, with more oak and toffee/toasted bread, but it’s no simple whisky, not at all. What’s sort of similar is the slight meatiness, the tobacco and the bitter oranges as well as the whiffs of wet moss. There’s certainly some smoke and soot too, some chocolate, a little putty, pine sap, damp earth… In fact it’s quite complex, it’s just that the White Horse was immensely complex. With water: becomes rounder, smoother, easier, more towards dried fruits and honey/maple syrup, but the sappiness and the smoke remain there in the background. Mouth (neat): ha-ha! Big stuff, rich, citrusy, candied and quite peaty/peppery, like if there was quite some Talisker roaring in the background. It’s not a silky/smooth kind of blend at all and there isn’t any feeling of ‘gruel’, you know, these blends that just taste indistinct, that is to say just ‘whisky’. With water: classic oranges + honey + butterscotch + a touch of peat. Touches of sweet sherry as well. Finish: long, on dried fruits and peat smoke, with a little more liquorice and even aniseed in the aftertaste. Comments: it doesn’t taste very old but it’s got more oomph than most modern blends – and that’s not just the high ABV. So maybe not as stunning – and peaty - as the Blue Label 'Baccarat' that was bottled at 60.5% a few years ago (WF 92), but quality’s very high, no doubt at all. SGP:352 - 87 points.

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



Block Today: BRAZILIAN JAZZ (sort of). Performer: Clare Fischer. Track: a very funny Du, Du liegst Mir im Herzen. Please visit Clare Fisher's website and buy his music!

September 4, 2012


Longrow one plus one glory

There was a new official Longrow for Singapore last year, let’s try it. And then we’ll see if we can find an older Longrow… Like, from the 1970s?

Longrow 11

Longrow 11 yo (56.8%, OB for Singapore, single cask, red wine barrel, 2011) Four stars Red wine barrel? How scary is that? Colour: apricot. Nose: unmistakably Longrow. It’s a very strange spirit, very unusual, especially when from wine casks. Not too sure this was fully matured in the wine cask, or was it a finishing? Anyway, it starts on blackcurrant buds and various leaves (cherry tree, peach tree), with some antiseptic and coal smoke in the background as well as quite some rubber (bicycle inner tube). After that, more rocks and sand, soot, paraffin (big!) and maybe even a little burnt plastic. Is this enjoyable? Hard to say, let’s dig deeper… With water: it’s the smoke that comes louder, both garden bonfire and coal. It got also much straighter and cleaner. Mouth (neat): quite explosive. Bags of pepper (both black and white) and litres of bitter herbal liqueurs, then smoked ham, heavy liquorice and something clearly cabernetty (yes I’m a barbarian). Artichoke liqueur and mandarine impériale (some kind of tangerine liqueur) plus some tar and liquorice. What a big fat spirit! With water: yet again, water does wonders. The bitter herbs remain but the smoke gets both louder and cleaner while the red wine has been floored. Hurray! Finish: long, very nice with water. Smoked oranges, ashes, touches of brine. Comments: a malt unlike any other. The red wine part was worrying – to me – but good news, it kept quiet. SGP:364 - 87 points.

Longrow 1974

Longrow 18 yo 1974/1992 (46%, Wilson & Morgan) Five stars This is rare, very rare… And W&M’s bottlings used to come from Cadenhead’s, owned by Springbank/Longrow, so… Well, we’ll see. Colour: straw. Nose: 1973 or 1974 Longrow used to be a much cleaner and ‘wider’ spirit than recent distillates (not to mention the 1987s) and this is a fine example. It’s very medicinal but not in the Laphroaig way, it’s more herbal, more eucalyptussy (wot?) Also obvious notes of fisherman’s boat, seaweed, graphite, linseed oil, new leatherette, turpentine, waxed paper, Barbour grease… White tequila? Almond oil. In fact it’s quite hard to describe, no other malt is like a 1973/1974 Longrow. Mouth: magnificent! It’s both rich and complex, heavy and elegant, aggressive and smooth. Again, it’s a little hard to describe, I’d say some king of smoked blood oranges with a little brine and chartreuse, kippers, oysters, orgeat syrup and fir honey. Whatever, you may call the anti-maltoporn brigade… NOW! Finish: not the longest, but it’s a complex as a 100yo Chartreuse. Well, I imagine… And very earthy. Verveine du Velay (Verbena liqueur). Comments: glorious vintages. One of the ten drams that any serious whisky lover should try to taste one day but indeed, that’s becoming increasingly difficult. Same with Ledaig or Brora from similar vintages… Sob sob sob… SGP:664 - 94 points.

(Emmanuel and Tomislav, thank you mucho!)

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





Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Django Bates. Track: Speak Low (from Quiet Nights, 1998, with Josefine Cronholm on vocals). Please visit Django Bates' website and buy his music!

September 3, 2012


Tasting a bunch of very
different Glen Grant

Many Glen Grants have been piling up on my shelves and maybe it’s time to try a few of them, starting with an old G&M at low strength. It’s never easy to decide on whether such an oldie should be tried as #1 or not. In theory, we should have it as the last one but heavier ones at CS may kind of kill it. Better be on the safe side…

Glen Grant 1965

Glen Grant 1965/2008 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed bottling) Three stars and a half The 1965 that was bottled in 2004 was truly excellent (WF 91) – and cheap, so we have high hopes. Colour: full gold. Nose: very typical, starting fragrant, flowery, complex… It’s very beehivy in fact (a lot of pollen) but a polished oakiness adds even more complexity. Also bags of overripe apples, some quince jelly. The flipside is that it becomes a little too green after a while, a notch too tea-ish, a tad too dry as the fruitiness tends to vanish. Still a beautiful nose but you need to be quick. Mouth: more or less the same happens on the palate. Starts well, raisiny and honeyed, with also some orange liqueur and dried figs, but again the oak tends to invade your palate and to make the whole a tad weakish and drying. Maybe a higher strength, such as 45%, would have preserved its liveliness. The moth feel is a tad thin. Finish: shortish, with the oranges returning but also this feeling of unsweetened tea. Unsually grassy aftertaste. Comments: a fine old Glen Grant but there are many at G&M’s that are/were bolder and more vibrant, so to speak. SGP:461 - 83 points.

Glen Grant 17

Glen Grant 17 yo 1995/2012 (54.2%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #85116, 226 bottles) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: a very natural Speysider, with little oak influence and rather lots of apples and gooseberries. Barley sugar. Okay, maybe peaches. It’s nice but there must be millions and millions of similar casks lying in Scotland – which does not make this baby ‘un-nice’, of course. With water: malt whisky, I mean, really. Very close to the raw materials. Mouth (neat): easy, sweet, eau-de-vie-ish. More barley sugar plus a little grass and green apple liqueur like they make in Spain. Good body. With water: same. Finish: pretty long, clean, very barleyish. Comments: very honest and loyal, as they say. Exactly my definition of some 80-points whisky. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Glen Grant 19

Glen Grant 19 yo 1992/2012 (52.7%, Duncan Taylor, Dimensions, cask #142040, 242 bottles) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: much more character in this one, even if it’s a little bizarre at times. Fruity Comté cheese, apples, butter and wheelbarrows of soaked barley. Wet cloth (not floorcloth!) With water: not much changes, maybe a little more yeast/leaven. Mouth (neat): almost the same as the 1995 this time. Barley sugar and barley sugar plus maybe a little more white pepper. Oh, and ripe apples. With water: even sweeter. Pear drops and white pepper. Finish: rather long, sweet, fruity. More barley sugar, more apples. Comments: one the one hand, this baby’s a little more interesting than the 1995 but on the other hand, it’s a notch whackier on the nose. Well, its impossible for me to tell you which one I like best. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Glen Grant 1985

Glen Grant 1985/2010 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #10187, 310 bottles) Four stars and a halfColour: gold. Nose: we are, more or less, between the 1965 and the middle-aged ones. It’s still got this barleyness but it’s certainly more mature and polished, without being drying or flattish. Nectar, vanilla, oranges, touches of sandalwood, dandelions, sultanas… I must say it’s got something of the Macallan 18yo FO that I tried the other day. Mouth: all easy, all good. Pineapple drops, vanilla crème, orange syrup, touches of caraway seeds, cinnamon rolls, a little mint, a little liquorice, then more cinnamon, earl grey tea… Finish: medium long, clean, jammy, fresh. A handful of ripe juicy plums and a feeling of Sauternes in the aftertaste. Comments: simply very easy and very good in my opinion. Perfect balance. SGP:541 - 88 points.

Glen Grant 1974/2012

Glen Grant 1974//2012 (47.8%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #7643) Four stars Colour: amber. Nose: much more sherry in this one, it’s a classic old Glen Grant full of raisins, figs, dates, prunes and various jams. Mirabelle? There’s also something oriental, orange blossom, cardamom… Anyway, a great and easy nose, balance is perfect. Mouth: not that easy, after all. The oak got much louder this time, but I wouldn’t say it’s a problem because it’s a kind of rounded, almost smooth oak. There’s some tobacco, tamarind jam, bitter chocolate, prunes, drops of armagnac (yes it’s almost grapey) and then more Corinthian raisins. A faint chalkiness in the background. Finish: rather long, a tad more drying now, on grape pips, grape juice… More tannic aftertaste. Comments: I like it a lot but for once, I liked the more ‘natural’ 1985 by Mo Or a notch better, simply because it was much easier. SGP:561 - 87 points.

And now a sister cask, that’s always fun…

Glen Grant 1974

Glen Grant 1974/2012 (49.3%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #7646) Four stars Colour: amber. Nose: amazing, this baby’s completely different. Where the 7643 was smooth and jammy, this one is meaty, with also much more gunpowder, truffles, even gas… I won’t use the S-word but indeed, it’s rather, well, leathery at first nosing. The good news is that all that becomes quieter after a while (well, your olfactory bulb filters it out), leaving more room for… meat, ham, rocks, cigars… Mouth: again this is not like the sister cask, it’s rather rougher, grassier, spicier, more liquoricy as well… Salmiak, strong tea, liqueur-filled chocolate, wine jelly, merlot (yes), Port, sultanas… Finish: long, rich, grassier… Comments: this one is full of good flaws, if you see what I mean. If you take them separately, it shouldn’t work, but the whole picture works well. In fact it’s quite coherent but let’s not try to be smart, the sister cask remains ‘better’. SGP:451 - 85 points.

Glen Grant 1972

Glen Grant 1972/2011 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #16568, 210 bottles) Four stars and a half 1972, great vintage at Glen Grant’s, just like at the neighbouring Caperdonich Distillery. Colour: gold. Nose: this is why I didn’t go up to 90+ for the other ones, the 1972s are so much nicer! Magnificent combination of honeys, beeswax, mirabelle jam, quinces, white currants, baklavas, Virginia tobacco, orange cake… And myriads of other tinier notes. Enough said. Mouth: yup. Same combination plus pecans, maple syrup, cinnamon cake, honeydew… All that with a moderate oakiness, just a bitterish signature that, in fact, makes the whole even better. In other words, a kind of underlining. Finish: it may be the weak spot because it does get a little drying/oaky, but nothing excessive. Some mint in the aftertaste. Comments: bummer, we almost had a 90er but the finish was a tad disappointing, which happens very often with very old whiskies in my modest experience. But what a nose! SGP:551 - 89 points.

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



Block Today: BLUES. Performer: Bronco Bob. Track: Members Only (from Fat and Muddy, Live). Please visit Bronco Bob's website and buy his music!

August 2012 - part 2 <--- September 2012 - part 1 ---> September 2012 - part 2

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



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

Balvenie 'Tun 1401' (50.4%, OB, batch #5, 2012)

Clynelish 1997/2012 (57%, Svenska Eldvatten, cask #5722)

Clynelish 12 yo 1982/1994 (65.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Dalmore 1990/2012 (51.8%, OB, LMdW, bourbon barrel, cask #1)

Flaming Heart ‘4th Release’ (48,9%, Compass Box, 2012)

Longrow 18 yo 1974/1992 (46%, Wilson & Morgan)

White Horse (unknown ABV, Peruvian import, 1945)