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Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2017 - Part 1

       

August 2017 - part 2 <--- September 2017 - part 1 ---> September 2017 - part 2

 

September 14, 2017


Whiskyfun

A round of Aultmore

Aultmore seems to be pretty successful since Dewar’s have revived the brand. I shan’t complain, I like Aultmore rather very much. Let’s have a few of various ages, IBs and OBs…

Aultmore 6 yo 2010/2016 (46%, Càrn Mòr, Strictly Limited, sherry hogshead, 875 bottles)

Aultmore 6 yo 2010/2016 (46%, Càrn Mòr, Strictly Limited, sherry hogshead, 875 bottles) Three stars This one from two casks. We’re seeing more and more of those super-young malts. I don’t think they’re always good, but isn’t it interesting to taste some whisky in its most naked form? Colour: white wine. Nose: porridge, damp chalk, grist, green apples, touches of lime and fresh mint. Indeed, in its most naked form. Mouth: fresh, grassy, unfolding on lime and cider apples, with a little barley sugar and rather more green peppercorns. Gets then a tad rounder, I suppose that’s the (very minimal) sherry, with two or three sultanas. Finish: medium, rather zesty and green. More lime, more green apples, more green pepper. Hints of kiwis in the aftertaste. Comments: there were other super-young Aultmores, but those were oak-doped. This one’s ueber-clean – so, naturally, perhaps a little too young. SGP:361 - 80 points.

Aultmore 10 yo 2006/2016 (46%, The Cooper’s Choice, bourbon, cask #307128, 370 bottles)

Aultmore 10 yo 2006/2016 (46%, The Cooper’s Choice, bourbon, cask #307128, 370 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: white wine – even paler. Nose: feels even younger than the 6 yo, this is almost kirsch straight from the Holstein, or what we sometimes call barley eau-de-vie. Some chalk again, fresh husk, rhubarb juice, porridge… It really is a fine eau-de-vie, it’s just not fantastically mature, in my humble opinion. Mouth: rounder, with more vanilla this time, a little lemon liqueur, some green spices, orange peel, and this famous feeling of limoncello. Lovely minerality – and even salinity – on the tip of your tongue. Finish: medium, fresh, in the way of some Sauvignon Blanc from eastern Loire valley. Lemon, touches of dill, limestone. Comments: I didn’t care too much for the slightly absent nose, but I thought the palate was almost perfect given the age. SGP:561 - 84 points.

Some older ones please…

Aultmore-Glenlivet 26 yo 1989/2016 (47.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 120 bottles)

Aultmore-Glenlivet 26 yo 1989/2016 (47.6%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 120 bottles) Four stars Colour: white wine. Nose: isn’t it funny that we’d be on the same notes again, only with more vanilla, coconut, and pineapples? Really fresh, very easy as it appears, and somewhat pina-colada-ish. Mind you, in a great way. Stewed rhubarbs in the background, or greengage compote… Mouth: super-easy, super-good at first sips (always on pina colada), but it tends to become much grassier, a bit biting perhaps, with some green tannins, more green apples, green pears, and the obligatory green gooseberries. Keyword: green. Finish: medium, feeling young, with a wee touch of leather in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s as if this baby’s been a little lazy during the 16 extra-years. But it’s very good, of course (but of course). SGP:561 - 85 points.

So, that OB that we also had…

Aultmore 33 yo 1983/2016 (53.3%, OB, for China Whisky Society, Exceptional Cask Series, 678 bottles)

Aultmore 33 yo 1983/2016 (53.3%, OB, for China Whisky Society, Exceptional Cask Series, 678 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: we’re well in the same family, even if this one’s more complex, rounder, and more on ripe fruits rather than green ones. I’m finding cut flowers, pot-pourri, then mirabelles and quinces, as well as something a little unusual… say blancmange pudding? Mullein syrup for sure, that’s good for our coughs. With water: white peaches and pears. Very nice freshness. Mouth (neat): rather firm, and a tad pungent and sharp, with notes of green lemon and raw ginger. A lot of grass, green pepper, a funny salty touch, and quite some lemongrass. I had thought it would be much rounder, while it rather punches you. With water: gets excellent. Never forget to try your whiskies with a little water, especially when they’re above 50%. All-vitamin fruit juice, pink bananas, lemons… Some rhubarb again in the aftertaste. Finish: medium, really fresh, fruity, feeling rather 15 than 33, but that’s no problem, at all. Comments: probably from a rather lazy cask, but again and again, that’s not a problem at all. Bordering perfection. SGP:661 - 89 points.

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

 

 

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September 13, 2017


Whiskyfun

Laphroaig, mad wood and regrets

I’m not the only commentator who’s noticed that Laphroaig’s new official bottlings were becoming easier, smoother, rounder, and rather lighter. Is that right? Or are those only false perceptions? Let’s check yet another newish official expression, and then rather sail towards Indieland…

Laphroaig ‘The 1815 Legacy Edition’ (48%, OB, 2017)

Laphroaig ‘The 1815 Legacy Edition’ (48%, OB, travel retail, 2017) Two stars This newish NAS that goes for a hefty price (think around 100€) comes ex-first-fill bourbon barrels and new European oak. Should we expect some kind of wood influence? Colour: gold. Nose: all these ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon give it away, this was ‘flavoured’ with wood. Curry, cloves, pinewood… This is more or less in the style of those new craft distillers who just have to sell their very new spirit to polish their cash flow, and to use wood (small barrels) to add flavours to their newly born spirits. In some cases, that’s understandable, in others, it’s not. Mouth: not bad, but I just can’t stand oak spices when there’s this many of them. Cinnamon, cloves, ginger… The distillate is almost suffocating and about to get killed by the oak spices. Finish: long, all on wood spices (you guessed it, I imagine). Comments: the style that I just hate. All wood, no spirit. My little score won’t be too low, though, but that’s just out of Christian charity. A legacy? What? Poor travellers... SGP:654 - 72 points.

Since that one was obviously very young, let’s have another very young Laphroaig. Well, it’s not even totally Laphroaig…

Williamson 6 yo (50.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, batch 1, 595 bottles, 2017)

Williamson 6 yo (50.2%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, batch 1, 595 bottles, 2017) Two stars and a half No one will write this officially (well, we will but we’re anything but official – God save us) but Williamson is the name of tea-spooned Laphroaig. Now this is ‘single malt’, so the spoon must have been the tiniest ever. Colour: gold. Nose: there’s some oak but there’s some fun as well, this time. Like, chocolate, cappuccino, café latte and all that. So it’s a tad Starbucky, but all remains fine. Nice coastal smoke in the background. With water: there, damp hessian and old kelp! Mouth (neat): shall we call it Quarter-Casky? Seriously, there are as many oak spices as in the 1815, but at least this has kept some coastal freshness and ‘a sense of Laphroaigness’. With water: good spicy. Perhaps a little too spicy. Finish: long, rather tannic. Green tannins, a drop of seawater. Comments: not a total fan of this either, but at least it’s funny and some Laphroaigness has been preserved. Now this is not officially Laphroaig, we agree, don’t we. SGP:555 - 79 points.

Laphroaig 14 yo 2001/2015 (46%, Murray McDavid, Benchmark, bourbon, cask #372)

Laphroaig 14 yo 2001/2015 (46%, Murray McDavid, Benchmark, bourbon, cask #372) Three stars It’s cool that they’re still using the ‘Clachan A Choin’ thing (which, in some kind of Gaelic, means, as you probably know, the dogs’ bo****ks). Colour: straw. Nose: ah, a Bowmoreness. We’re talking 1980s Bowmore. Grenadine? Fruit leaves and peel, vanilla, and a very moderate smoke. Earl grey. A bizarre nose I have to say…   Mouth: it is, indeed, a little bizarre, but it’s pretty good. A lot of cask influence again, this time rather towards caraway (and clove), sour fruits, herbal teas (I’m thinking hawthorn)… It’s quite smoky as well, of course, smokier than the previous ones for sure. Finish: long, spicy, with an obvious oak influence. Fruit bonbons in the aftertaste. Another one that’s pretty oak-driven, rather than distillate-driven. Comments: we’re making, good, but slow progress. Sure we’ll fix that… SGP:656 - 80 points.

Laphroaig 10 yo 1996/2016 (50.6%, Specialty Drinks, Masterpieces, PX sherry butt, 516 bottles)

Laphroaig 20 yo 1996/2016 (50.6%, Specialty Drinks, Masterpieces, PX sherry butt, 516 bottles) Two stars A masterpiece, ex-PX? But it comes in a Cognac bottle, so all is fine… Colour: deep amber. Nose: this reminds me of the Pinot Gris VT that my friend Olivier once made and matured in an ex-Brora hogshead. It’s really a winesky, or a whiskwine, or whatever, and guess what, this kind of works, but this equilibrium is very fragile. Leathery, cigary smoke, plus smoked raisins, burnt honey, and whatnot. With water: raisins and bits of leather crushed together and infused in Cognac. Like. Mouth (neat): some kind of syrupy peat… Well I could use this next time I have a flue. Liqueury wine, PX indeed, late harvest apple wine (something Canadian, and that’s good), some kinds of leathery and smoky walnuts… The whole’s really thick. With water: one of the sweetest smoky whiskies I’ve ever tried. Finish: long, very syrupy, perhaps a little cloying. Comments: I’m sure many friends have loved this, it’s just not my cup of malt. Too sweet for me. Pssst, the SWA should ban the use of PX. After all, they already banned paxarette. SGP:754 - 76 points.

We’re having troubles with our Laphroaigs, aren’t we…

Laphroaig 18 yo 1998/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # 11634, 262 bottles)

Laphroaig 18 yo 1998/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask # 11634, 262 bottles) Three stars and a half Perhaps, this one… Colour: white wine. Nose: at least, there is some kind of minerality, a form of medicinality (?) and a smokiness that’s clearly coastal. Oysters, seaweed, salmiak, grapefruits, iodine, antiseptic, creosote. Do you recognise your Laphroaig? Mouth: ah yes, we’re talking now. Waves and waves of sweet peat, tincture of iodine, smoked fish, grapefruits, and green tea. There’s still a slightly odd oakiness (curry, ginger), but all this is fine, clean, and clear. Finish: long, with this green bitterness that keeps your palate fresh. Comments: we’re slowly taking off, it seems… Thank you Douglas Laing! SGP:457 - 84 points.

Laphroaig 16 yo 2000/2017 (58.1%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, cask #13277, 306 bottles)

Laphroaig 16 yo 2000/2017 (58.1%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions, cask #13277, 306 bottles) Three stars If this is PX I eat my cat. I mean, my hat. Colour: gold. Nose: phew, we’re rather fine. A leathery smokiness with some sweet tobacco, fruitcake, and dried figs. Then pipe smoke, very dry raisins (no, those don’t smell the same), and a feeling of thick mud after some tropical rain. Autumn leaves, perhaps. With water: mushrooms, there. Mouth (neat): unlikely, but good. Sweet leather? Caraway cake? Notes of absinth? Thin mints? This is another whacky one, and frankly, anytime something sweet is blended with peaty whisky, we come close to disaster. Not quite the case here, but some sultanas seem to be waking up… aaargh, quick, water! With water: we’re okay! Nice old apples, cider, and some bitter herbs. Finish: long, but it gets bitterer. Jägermeister with half the usual sugar content (which is already a lot). Comments: this is not a tasting session, it is a fight. I could sip this one – with moderation. SGP:656 - 80 points.

Can we please have a normal Laphroaig!?

Laphroaig 30 yo (53.6%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, refill bourbon hogshead, 165 bottles, 2017)

Laphroaig 30 yo (53.6%, Hunter Laing, The Kinship, refill bourbon hogshead, 165 bottles, 2017) Four stars and a half Oh the joys of refill and a proper age… I’m jumping for joy, really. Colour: gold. Nose: ah. Oh? No whacky wine in sight, we’re good. Fresh almonds, wulong tea, old books, hints of horse saddle, linseed oil, samphires, bandages, fresh clams, a drop of turpentine… Finaly, Laphroaig is here! With water: yep. Creosote, ‘washing agent’ (something by Henkel or Procter, I’m no expert), chalk… Whenever chalk arrives, that’s great news.  Mouth (neat): oh this is funny! It is some kind of vitamin drink, with some banana juice for sure, guavas, some unexpected white chocolate, papayas, ripe avocados, then rather mentholated grapefruits. Gets narrower and sharper, but that is all fine in my opinion. Green tea. With water: bingo. Smoky seawater and all-vitamin juice, plus some mint tea. That works. Finish: medium, fruity (tropicals), with a mild ‘green’ smokiness. Comments: phew, I never thought we would make it to the upper 80s today. SGP:556 - 88 points.

I agree, we need a signature, a grand finale, fireworks, trumpets, or something like that. So, rummage rummage (in the library)… I think I found something…

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, for Japan, 75cl, 1970s?)

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, for Japan, 75cl, 1970s?) Five stars A stunning bottling for Japan, labelled as a ‘genuine 10 years old’, which is unusual, and as some ‘pure unblended Islay malt Scotch whisky’. The good old times… I’m even wondering if it’s not from the 1960s. Colour: gold. Nose: that’s the problem with these old 10s, they would just kill the competition. Never have tropical fruits and all things petroly been blended to so much perfection. Using the usual descriptors is becoming useless, this is simply ‘old Laphroaig 10’. One of the greatest whiskies ever made, and indeed, it’s a little depressing to taste these beside their contemporary counterparts. Avocado juice, mango smoothies, wulong, plasticine, linoleum and Bakelite… Really, it’s the complexity that is amazing. Mouth: makes you cry. This is immense, this is extremely complex, and yet it’s a whole, and frankly, we’re in the universe of the greatest old teas and wines. Yes, rather than whisky. Fantastic salty, resinous and kumquaty (there) combination, this is almost unbeatable. It’s so sad that they broke the mould and rather went for yield (and the accompanying hot air). Please call the… Nah, too late. Finish: the finish is where the real quality of any spirit can be checked. Many lose points at this stage, often just one or two. Not the case here, this finish is all lace and philosophy. Comments: none needed. Will anyone make these whiskies again? Not the owners, apparently. Cheers to the old Scottish distillers! SGP:653 - 94 points.

(So many thanks, Aaron)

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

 

 

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September 12, 2017


Whiskyfun

Glenrothes and sherry

Glenrothes is classic Speyside whisky, usually very elegant. It’s also one of the first distilleries we collectively visited with the Malt Maniacs. That was a long time ago, when we were all young and beautiful (we’re still young!) So, first a new OB, then a bunch of indies. Classic set-up…

Glenrothes 2000/2017 (58.7%, OB, for the U.K., sherry, cask # 2364)

Glenrothes 2000/2017 (58.7%, OB, for the U.K., sherry, cask # 2364) Three stars Ouch, I hadn’t noticed this was a single cask at cask strength. Not the ideal starter-whisky, but it’s already in the glass, so let’s move on if you agree…  Colour: golden amber. Nose: so very official Glenrothes! Bags of cakes, roasted nuts, dark honey, Ovaltine, polished wood… But it’s getting rather aggressive, and very eau-de-vie-ish. Raw plum spirit. Maybe that’s the high strength, let’s see… With water: hay, dry old white wine, some metallic touches, some leather, and some burnt caramel. Mouth (neat): hot, very concentrated, very extractive, to the point where it’s getting bitter. Chewing propolis and ultra-strong liquorice while sipping some mad triple-ristretto. Geee! With water: remains hot and wild. Three tablespoons of chestnut honey mixed with pepper and bone-dry cocoa powder. Finish: very long, almost endless, still quite rough and bitter. Comments: quite a monster, its as if they have finished it in three different fresh European oak/fresh sherry octaves. In a row. Not for the fainthearted. SGP:371 - 81 points.

Glen Rothes 18 yo 1997/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, refill sherry, cask #15971)

Glen Rothes 18 yo 1997/2016 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, refill sherry, cask #15971) Three stars and a half A little fantasy don’t do any harm, SV are calling their Glenrothes  ‘Glen Rothes’. I guess that’s what’s on the papers. Colour: white wine (so very refill). Nose: cleaner and fresher, obviously, but it’s got this metallic grassiness and big notes of green plums. A yeasty side as well, leaven, beer… In short, it’s not a very fruity one. Mouth: smoother this time, rather rounder, with this strong chestnut honey again and a large bag of green(ish) apples. Burnt raisins, malt, bitter chocolate. Really firm, in fact, with similarities to the OB. Finish: long, a bit bitter again, but with nicer notes of oranges, including bitter ones. Orange peel in the aftertaste. Comments: this baby kicks you a bit. I had thought it would be all silk and lace, but it’s actually a little brutal. And good. SGP:461 - 83 points.

Glenrothes 12 yo 2005/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask # DL11601, 402 bottles)

Glenrothes 12 yo 2005/2017 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, sherry butt, cask # DL11601, 402 bottles) Three stars Colour: gold. Nose: some similarities yet again, but this time we’re finding more gunpowder and simply gas, which suggest sulphur, as we all very well know. That combines with a little copper, bitter chocolate powder, and fresh-roasted coffee beans. Few fruits this time again. Mouth: similar feelings. Starts on marmalade, gets then leathery, tobacco-ish, and very chocolaty. The same fresh coffee beans are back as well. Perhaps propolis too, perhaps sulphur as well. Finish: long, gritty, very dry. Dry cocoa and dry coffee, 50/50. Some leather again in the aftertaste, plus cinnamon. A lot of cinnamon. Comments: yet another bone-dry sherried Glenrothes. Really not the easiest dram ever, but some friends will love it. Coffee nuts and chocolate freaks, for example. SGP:361 - 80 points.

Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2017 (49.8%, Whisky Fair 2017, refill hogshead, 240 bottles)

Glenrothes 20 yo 1997/2017 (49.8%, Whisky Fair 2017, refill hogshead, 240 bottles) Three stars A refill hoggie, this dark? Sherry hogshead? Colour: amber. Nose: sherry hogshead, I wager. Same bone-dry coffee and chocolate, sulphur, leather, orange peel, cinnamon, slivovitz… Mouth: this one’s sweeter this time, a little easier thanks to more marmalade and plum jam, but other than that, we’ve got the same dry style in the background, with more leather, more tobacco, more coffee, and more bitter cocoa. Now some ripe damsons are starting to bring a little more roundness after a few minutes. The taster just has to be patient. Finish: long, ‘dark’, on pretty much the same notes. Kaffee-Schnapps, would our German friends say. Raisins. Comments: another one that’s not very easy. The sherry’s heavy, so it’s rather for sherry-monster lovers. SGP:461 - 82 points.

Glenrothes 20 yo (51.4%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, Classic Edition, cask #11, 2016)

Glenrothes 20 yo (51.4%, James MacArthur, Old Masters, Classic Edition, cask #11, 2016) Four stars With a drawing of a lovely Delage 1939. Colour: white wine (hurray!) Nose: ah, some kind of relief! This is much fresher and brighter, with some green apples, some fresh hazelnuts, and a much straighter maltiness than in the others. Greengages, pears, some fresh tree bark, and just wee hints of dried coconut. This works, it’s like listening to Vivaldi after Wagner. With water: gravel and clay, after the rain. Mouth (neat): very good indeed, fresh, with touches of vanilla, green melons, apples, kiwis, rhubarb… Well anything green and fruity. Ah yes, lime. With water: really very good, with good oomph and good zestiness. Cleans your soul after the sherry monsters. Finish: quite long, a tad acidic, which is just what we needed. Comments: very well selected, Arthur! SGP:561 - 87 points.

How about a much older one to close this up?

Glenrothes 33 yo 1967/2000 (48.5%, VA-MA, Italy)

Glenrothes 33 yo 1967/2000 (48.5%, VA-MA, Italy) Five stars This baby from their famous Castles series. Colour: pale gold. Nose: it’s rather a ‘crystalline’ one again, in the style of the JMcA, except that a part of the fruits got tropical, which happens quite often with old bottles. Now many tropical fruits were to be found in 1960s distillations, so perhaps a matter of yeast rather than anything else. What were they using? So, mangos, bananas, apples, then a little camphor, menthol cigarettes, leather grease, a few drops of soy sauce, and just one of properly-aged genuine balsamic vinegar. A fantastic nose, I have to say. Mouth: an amazing fruity arrival, with, well, just the same fruits, in the very same proportions. And then come the cough syrup, the mint drops, the pinesap, and superb notes of tangerines. Amazingly fresh, complex, firm and light at the same time. As we sometimes say, it’s dangerously drinkable, but no worries, these bottles are now very hard to find. Finish: medium; perhaps a tad oaky now. A lot of tea. Loses one or two points at this stage. Comments: really amazing. And we’ll have to check which kinds of yeast they were all using in 1964-1967. SGP:651 - 92 points.

(And muchas gracias, Tom)

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

 

 

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September 11, 2017


Whiskyfun

Springbank, including WF's 13000th

What’s sure is that we need to try a few Springbanks every once in a while. One of the true Premier Grands Crus of Scotland, and there aren’t many. No BS and no hyperbolic branding, for a change…

Springbank 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017)

Springbank 15 yo (46%, OB, +/-2017) Four stars and a half I think I usually prefer the 10s and the 12s, but there, let’s see… What the packaging? We don’t score packaging! Colour: light gold. Nose: yeah, I find it less bright than its younger siblings, rather more indefinite, and oddly sulphury. Now don’t get me wrong, it is not sulphury, but there are these notes of gas, vinegar and plaster that I’m finding a little unlikely. Hints of manure, green coffee beans, wet wool, smoky porridge, engine oil… All that sounds just fine, but it may lack oomph. Mouth: sardines, liquorice, tinned tuna fish, cardamom seeds, ink, lemon… Oh wait, this lemon seems to be saving it… Oh yes, this is nicer, much nicer. It just needed time! And after just five minutes, it’s becoming wonderfully coastal, brine-y, sooty… Phew, saved by the bell! Finish: rather long, lemony, sardine-y, smoky, yeasty… Comments: indeed, it just needs time. Goes from like 80 points to 88 within ten minutes. SGP:462 - 88 points.

Me very happy, me now chasing various other Springers, randomly…

Springbank 21

Springbank 21 yo (49.6%, OB, for the UK, single cask, oloroso sherry, 702 bottles, 2016) Five stars Yeah, apparently, this will be my 13,000th tasting note for little Whiskyfun. Not a very significant number anyway, so let's please move on... Colour: light gold. Nose: oh, vegetables! Quite uncommon in Scotch whisky, celeriac, French beans, beets, salsify… and then roasted chestnuts, walnuts (from the sherry?), artichokes, then damp earth, clay, mud… This is so very Springbank, and so very un-industrial! Mouth: oooh… Gives you faith in Scotch, and would shoot you down using lettuce, turnips, salted Jerusalem artichokes, and a curious mixture that would involve plaster, rust, ink, tobacco, and crushed anchovies. What we can anchoïade over here in France. No tomatoes, though. A totally brilliant cask, one that may repel newcomers, which is good for us. No? Finish: long, civilised, earthy, inky, salty. Amazing. Aspirin and tonic water in the aftertaste. Comments: do we really need some? The John Malkovich of Scotch. Whatever, whomever. Aren't Springbank just killing the game a little bit? Just a little bit? What's sure is that I'm glad this baby was our 13,000th! SGP:372 - 93 points.

Springbank 12 yo 2001/2013 (53.5%, OB, Society bottling, fresh Port hogshead, 300 bottles)

Springbank 12 yo 2001/2013 (53.5%, OB, Society bottling, fresh Port hogshead, 300 bottles) Two stars and a half Ouch, Port… I should never try these! Colour: apricot. Nose: it hasn’t got the entrancing brightness of the others, and it’s rather cask-driven. Coffee, vanilla, toasted oak, wet limestone, gunpowder, earth, tomato sauce (really), sultanas, sticky toffee, cigars, leather… It’s nice but it goes in all directions. The opposite of that brilliant 21. With water: nicer, better civilised… with hints of horse saddle and dung. Shall we call it farmy? Sure we will! Mouth (neat): simply too much. Stuffy, extractive, bittersweet, and too extreme for me. Begs for water. With water: better, but there’s an unexpected (and rather vulgar) sweetness coming out. Finish: rather long, leafier and more bitter. Leaves and buds. Comments: why bury such a brilliant distillate under piles of Port things? Now these are anecdotal bottlings, for fans only. SGP:462 - 78 points.

Springbank 19 yo 1997/2016 (59%, OB/Cadenhead, warehouse tasting, rechar sherry) Four stars They like to do these things at Springbank and Cadenhead’s. Whisky lovers like it too, but you have to get there, and Campbeltown is, well, Campbeltown. Not close to anywhere. Colour: deep gold. Nose: another one that’s a little extractive, very nutty, slightly burnt, and all on roasted pecans, walnuts, almonds, peanuts… and coffee beans. Quite a lot of chocolate too. With water: mud, leather, horse saddle, Cuban cigars… Mouth (neat): huge, thick, marmalade-y, salty, gingery… This is some kind of beast. Kilograms of butter cream and praline, salted millionaire shortbread, ginger tonic, white pepper… Bang bang bang! With water: and bang. No, it gets a little lighter, with more oranges, marmalade, star anise… Finish: extremely long, thick, coating… Comments: some monstrous Springbank. I liked it much better than the Port (of course) but I like the clean naked ones even better. Much better. SGP:562 - 86 points.

And the indies, what do they say?...

Springbank 17 yo 1996/2014 (51.5%, Hart Brothers, Finest Collection, sherry hogshead)

Springbank 17 yo 1996/2014 (51.5%, Hart Brothers, Finest Collection, sherry hogshead) Two stars and a half Hope this one will be a little ‘light’… Colour: full gold. Nose: well, it’s rather sulphury. Hard-boiled eggs, used matches, brake pad residue, coffee, bitter chocolate… Not too sure about this one, really. With water: concrete, carbon paper, fresh plywood, walnuts stain… Still not very sure… Mouth (neat): better than on the nose for sure. Marmalade and leather, salted anchovies, the driest chocolate, parley and cress soup… With water: truffles, eggs, beef stock, chocolate, mole sauce… Finish: same for quite a long time. Chocolate. Comments: yes and no. Well rather no, because some much better ones are easily available. Yes, despite the truffles. SGP:362 - 78 points.

Springbank 20 yo (50%, Dell Fines, 75cl, +/-1985)

Springbank 20 yo (50%, Dell Fines, 75cl, +/-1985) Four stars No ideas about what Dell Fines is or was. Google is mute (too busy making money, I imagine), and I guess it’s got nothing to do with Dell Computers. A bottle that they had at Glasgow’s Whisky Show. Colour: light gold. Nose: meadows and cow stables, vegetal oils, old books, marzipan, chamomile tea, earthy apples. With water: drier, more herbal, muddier… But also rather floral. Meadow flowers, of course. Mouth (neat): brilliant, strong, full of beeswax and pollen, and very waxy. Typical 1960s Springbank, minus the sherry. It’s almost brutal, I have to say. Now, what or who was Dell Fines? With water: careful with water, it tends to become too dry, and even more herbal. Grass juice. Finish: rather long, waxy, grassy, a tad drying when reduced. Some kind of greener cinnamon, perhaps. Comments: I know it’s probably mid-1960s Springanck, but I find it a little too dry and drying. Now who cares? And what or who was Dell Fines? SGP:362 - 85 points.

A last one, for the road… And let’s make it old!

Springbank 30 yo 1972/2002 (57.9%, Chieftain’s, sherry butt, cask #410, 576 bottles)

Springbank 30 yo 1972/2002 (57.9%, Chieftain’s, sherry butt, cask #410, 576 bottles) Two stars and a half Chieftain’s/McLeod have had many great old Springbanks, let’s check this one… Colour: full gold. Nose: tin box, copper coins, old kettle… You got it, this one’s rather metallic. Old Bottle Effect? And mushrooms, moss, old wine cellar, old corks… With water: not quite. Mouldy. Vase water, duck pond… Mouth (neat): a little whacky, with some chicken soup, cress soup, some bitter caramel, bitter oranges, a feeling of pipe tobacco… With water (while the whisky gets very cloudy): dry, flat, cardboardy. Finish: nicer, more on raisins, kougelhopf, brioche, Nescafé… Comments: it’s not impossible that there was some kind of accident. What’s obvious is that it doesn’t swim well, and that the 1970s weren’t the 1960s. Look where that's got us! SGP:361 - 77 points (for the raisins).

Better stop right now.

(Thank you Jens, Phil and other friends)

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

 

 

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September 10, 2017


Whiskyfun

Rums from the stash

Really anything, whacky brands, unlikely labels, doctored concoctions, or true stars, let’s see what we have. Randomly again.

Darsa 8 yo 2008/2017 (46%, Van Wees, Ultimatum, bourbon barrel, 350 bottles)

Darsa 8 yo 2008/2017 (46%, Van Wees, Ultimatum, bourbon barrel, 350 bottles) Three stars If you’re reading these humble pages often, you’ll remember that Darsa is the distillery where they make that syrup called Zacapa (and Botran). And that some un-doctored Zacapa that we could try had been pretty good. Colour: gold. Nose: yeah, it’s cool, very light, pretty cake-y and banana-y, and kind of Cuban. There isn’t much happening, to tell you the truth, except for more and more coconut coming though. Nosing a large pack of coconut balls. Mouth: really very fair, sweet, easy, full of coconut, pineapples and oranges. No, really, it’s good. Very simple, but good. Did I tell you I thought it was good? Finish: short, with not a lot going on. No worries. Comments: it’s a style, and it’s clean, and it’s pretty good. If you like coconut… SGP:730 - 82 points.

Rhum Transat 15 yo 2000 (45.8%, Charbonnaud, Martinique, +/-2016)

Rhum Transat 15 yo 2000 (45.8%, Charbonnaud, Martinique, +/-2016) Four stars What’s a little scary is that this rhum was matured (right, probably finished) in Burgundy, in grand cru casks. What’s better is that those were white grands crus (Montrachet, Corton and compadres) and not red. The distillery of origin is not disclosed, but that’s well Martinique. Colour: gold. Nose: like this very herbal arrival. Aniseed, dill, celery, vetiver… Some polished wood too (cabinetwork) and a few nuts, pecans… It’s rather light, pretty elegant, and just likeable. Mouth: good, and very ‘French’ indeed. Oak essences, really a lot of liquorice and Christmas gingerbread, caraway, espresso, macadamias, Linzertorte, pumpernickel… Finish: medium, a tad oaky, but I enjoy this honey and these notes of toasted gingerbread. Comments: the story is a bit fishy, but the rhum is very très très bon. SGP:651 - 85 points.

Emperor ‘Sherry Finish’ (40%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2017)

Emperor ‘Sherry Finish’ (40%, OB, Mauritius, +/-2017) God, you gotta hate these labels and packagings. Fake stories, fake heritage, unlikely characters straight from Wikipedia… This just reeks of swindle and laziness. Presidentes, Dons, Emperors, Dictators… And what else? Now, you never know… Colour: gold. Nose: syrups, marshmallows and bubblegum. We had some in France called ‘Malabar’. This is liquid Malabar. Where’s that lab? Mouth: strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets, strawberry sweets… And cherry sweets. Someone may have mistaken sherry for cherry in the lab. Finish: none. Comments: it’s not ugly, but it’s one of those fake (A.K.A. imitation) rums that are so successful these days, and it seems that there are more and more copycats around. Yeah, Don Papa, no hope for mankind. May I suggest ‘Commandante’ next time? That should sell! SGP:810 - 50 points.

Beenleigh 5 yo (40%, OB, Australia, +/-2017)

Beenleigh 5 yo (40%, OB, Australia, +/-2017) This one’s aged in ex-brandy casks and bourbon barrels. Just hope this baby from Queensland has got nothing to do with Bundaberg. Colour: deep gold. Nose: fine. There’s a lot of vanilla at first, some stewed fruits (or orange sauce), whiffs of cooked beetroots, some gingerbread, and overripe mangos. It goes a bit in all directions, but so far, so fine. Rather. Mouth: really sweet(ened). Too syrupy for me, too doctored… Didn’t they add 500g honey to each bottle? Very liqueury, but on the other had, it doesn’t feel too ‘lab’. Finish: short, very sweet, honeyed. Comments: we’ll use this sentence we’ve already used many times in the past, ‘we’ve seen worse’. SGP:720 - 60 points.

We’re a bit stuck, I’m afraid… Let’s try to find a key…

St. Lucia Distillers '1931 Fourth Edition' (43%, OB, St. Lucia, 83rd Anniversary, 2015)

St. Lucia Distillers '1931 Fourth Edition' (43%, OB, St. Lucia, 83rd Anniversary, 2015) Three stars They keep celebrating that vintage. It’s always nice to have an old ‘vintage’ on a label, isn’t it? Now I had thought the first editions were really nice (around WF 80). Colour: deep gold. Nose: half-rotten fruits, dried longans, strawberry yoghurt (what’s that molecule again?), bananas, molasses, and our friend the panettone. Warm panettone. Mouth: good, dry, tarry, and rather deep. I don’t think I’ve ever found this much liquorice in any spirit, having said that. So yeah, liquorice, plus a little honeydew and banana cream, then hazelnut cake. Good for sure. Finish: medium, tarrier, with a very nice gasoline-y signature. Comments: aren’t they improving the recipe? Feels a bit young and simple – it’s not a 1931 mind you – but I could easily quaff this. SGP:642 - 82 points.

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

 

 

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September 9, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  

A Pair Of Old Blends

It’s always fun to go rooting through the annals of liquid history via the medium of ancient blended whiskies. Remember prior to the 1950s blends generally had a much higher malt content so, after all these years in bottle, it tends to be the more powerful malt aspects that shine the brightest which gives a wonderful, broad brush stroke picture of the ‘generic’ character of Scottish malts in decades gone by...

 

Unless of course they’ve turned to strange, capsule tainted, vegetable soup and old coins inside the bottle. Lets try a few at random...  

 

White Horse 1922 (ABV unknown, OB)

White Horse 1922 (ABV unknown, OB) The constituent malt for White Horse was, of course, Lagavulin which means we’re expecting more than a little peat with this one, some of these old pre-war White Horses can be magisterial, although I understand the level on this one was a little low when opened so we keep expectations realistic... Colour: Straw. Nose: The peat is unusually shy in this one. It’s more towards soot, lanolin, coal hearths, earth and a whole pantry of dried herbs. There’s some hay, some stables, dunnage, camphor and paraffin and this delicate phenolic prickle in the background. I wonder if it lost some of its peatiness throughout the years, not impossible. Some old bottle notes of iron filings, steel wool and old tool boxes; a suggestion of rust amongst it all.

 

 

Mouth: There’s the peat! It’s still very subdued, what we have here is more of a peat and herb liqueur. Fat, syrupy and hugely oily, despite an obvious slight loss of ABV. Graphite oil, various waxes and medical tinctures along with dried mushroom powder, vegetable stock and a kind of generic umami flavour. Quite beautifully savoury even though there is a lick of sweetness and apple peeling from the grain component, which feels oddly more vivid than some of the later 1930s and 40s bottlings. Some mustard seed, more camphor and resinous notes and still more elegant herbal aspects with traces of bay leaf, rosemary and oregano. Finish: Surprisingly decent length despite the fact the spirit is obviously a tad tired. There is a saltiness in the finish with more herbs, camphor, dusty phenols and a serene olive oil note. Comments: These kinds of ancient liquid time capsules are tough things to score. Parts of hauntingly beautiful and deeply emotional, but at the same time it bears obvious wee flaws. Having said that, overall, I still find it an excellent and enlightening old blend. The kind of whisky that can quite easily boggle the mind when you think of the journey it must have been on to arrive in your glass. SGP: 155 - 85 points.  

 

Old Smuggler (ABV unknown, OB, US Import, 1920s)

Old Smuggler (ABV unknown, OB, US Import, 1920s) This ancient bottle comes with a very strange ceramic pourer which I’ve only ever seen once before on a very old Dimple also bottled for the US around the 1930s. Colour: Amber. Nose: Radically different to the White Horse. This is far fresher and full of wood resins, sap, ointment, various teas, oils, some old fruitcake, aged cognac, raisins, rancio and roasted chestnuts. I never smelled an old blended whisky like this before. Wonderful complexity on the nose, develops a marvellously leafy, earthy and nervous edge with more dark fruits - think dates, prunes and sultanas - notes of pipe tobacco and old leather. There is some kind of wondrous sherry sloshing about in here no doubt.

 

 

Cork Mouth: an old dry sherry like Amontillado mixed with a whole Christmas of nuts, oranges and some bitter chocolate. This is really an unusual old blend. You can feel it’s a blend but there is a big and dominating sherry/wine influence. Notes of aged Pinot Noir, various farmyard aspects and then some very delicate medicinal touches such as lanolin, carbolic and aspirin. Some pencil shavings, herbs and notes of muesli and molasses. Finish: Long, earthy, slightly salty, drying, nutty and herbaceous. More resounding sherry characteristics. Quite remarkable really. Comments: I don’t think I ever tasted an old blend quite like that. The sherry was almost too drying for me and, again, you could tell you were drinking a blend and not one of these more ambiguous ‘maybe pure malt’ type blends. The whole was so surprisingly fresh and vigorous. Another one that is very difficult to score. At least one thing is for sure: it’s anything but boring and it’s certainly not bad. SGP: 352 - 88 points.  

 

(Many thanks Chris and Marcus!)  

 

 

September 8, 2017


Whiskyfun

A pair of rather humble Glenfiddich

Glenfiddich’s turn again. Let’s first try an older regular 12, the one that used to be available all around the world, including on boats and airplanes, and then we’ll have a newer 15 yo.

Glenfiddich 12 yo ‘Special Reserve’ (43%, OB, +/-1990)

Glenfiddich 12 yo ‘Special Reserve’ (43%, OB, +/-1990) Two stars That famous 12 that used to be the most popular single malt in the world. This one as still labelled as ‘Pure Single Malt’. Colour: gold. Nose: it was rather raw and spirity, very malty at first, porridge-y, with then the expected pears, and overripe apples. A dry woodiness in the background, as well as something slightly metallic. No nosing whisky, but let’s remember we used to drink this one on a lot of ice cubes. Mouth: really punchy, certainly not as ‘smooth’ as I remembered, with tart apples and a peppery citrus, then raw malt and notes of cardboard. Bigger than its contemporary blends for sure, and much rawer than earlier NASs or 8yos. Finish: medium, acrid, rather pungent. Sour apples. Comments: not all older bottlings were better. SGP:351 - 73 points.

Glenfiddich 15 yo ‘Distillery Edition’ (51%, OB, +/-2016)

Glenfiddich 15 yo ‘Distillery Edition’ (51%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars We last tried a previous edition of the 15 DE – formerly 15 Cask Strength - in 2010. All versions had been ‘very good, not great’ (around WF 80-82). Colour: deep gold. Nose: parentage is obvious, bit this is rounder, has more fresh oak, more vanilla, and brighter, cleaner pears. Almost oak-aged williams pear eau-de-vie. Okay, pushing it a bit… With water: it’s the barley that comes out. Becomes a gristy baby! Mouth (neat): solid citrusy arrival, with notes of citrus hop IPA (Citra or something, can’t quite remember), then the usual green apples and pears. Tends to become very peppery. With water: really improves, gaining fresh fruitiness and that feeling of ‘wandering throughout an orchard in August’, which, I agree, is good timing. Finish: medium, rather soft, with good apples and a little lemon juice. A little green pepper in the aftertaste, as well as a little honey. Peppered pears as well. Comments: a solid dram at a rather fair price (around 50€). SGP:451 - 82 points.

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

 

 

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September 7, 2017


Whiskyfun

New Longrow Red and better ones

Yes this is the yearly whacky Longrow session (when reds are involved). For the record, the current standings, Cabernet WF 70, Shiraz WF 78, Port WF 78, Pinot Noir WF 78. There’s room for improvement…

Longrow 13 yo 'Red' (51.3%, OB, Malbec, 9000 bottles, 2017)

Longrow 13 yo 'Red' (51.3%, OB, Malbec, 9000 bottles, 2017) Two stars and a half This baby was finished for around one year and a half in ex-malbec casks (probably seasoned hoggies). Malbecs are usually very tannic (think Cahors), which is very worrisome to me. Argentinian malbec can be quite cheap, around £6-8 a bottle in most supermarkets. Colour: apricot. And here it goes… Nose: concrete, Beaujolais nouveau, mud, manure, crushed raspberries mixed with aspirin tablets, horse dung, blackcurrant buds… I understand why someone would enjoy this, for it’s so different, but I just don’t. No red wine in my whisky, thank you. With water: I’m completely baffled. Mouth (neat): smoked raspberries? Salted strawberries? Muddy red currants? With water: a little better, as blood oranges are coming out. But red berries plus smoke and salt, no thanks. Finish: quite long, on some kind of smoked fruitcake. Comments: love pretty much everything from Springbank’s, just not these whacky Reds. Although I don’t find it too bad once quite a lot of water’s been added. SGP:654 - 77 points.

Let’s try to find redemption in the old Longrow boxes…

Longrow 12 yo 1998/2011 (52%, OB, exclusive to Dugas, France, Madeira wood, cask #341, 268 bottles)

Longrow 12 yo 1998/2011 (52%, OB, exclusive to Dugas, France, Madeira wood, cask #341, 268 bottles) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: I know Madeira and Malbec start the same, but come on, this is way more elegant, Longrowy, and frankly interesting. Smoked mustard, gravel, walnuts, cow stable, horse saddle, chestnuts, hay, sea spray, kelp… I’m sure you get the picture. With water: typical, with a lot of plasticine, new leatherette, and green cigars. Mouth (neat): very brine-y, and mustardy, and smoky. Bags of walnuts, some funny notes of bananas flambéed in the background, drops of lime, and pinches of sea salt that play with your lips. With water: swims extremely well, with more bitter oranges, salty bouillon, and salted butter fudge. This rocks. Finish: long, wonderfully salty, with walnuts and a pinhead of mustard. Say mustard from Meaux. Comments: this is Longrow as I love it. Sure there’s the Madeira, and I many have gone even higher without it, but I just love this. SGP:355 - 90 points.

Longrow 12 yo 2002/2015 (53.1%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 288 bottles)

Longrow 12 yo 2002/2015 (53.1%, Cadenhead, Sherry Cask, 288 bottles) Four stars and a halfI don’t think Cadenhead have to select their Longrows and Springbanks from Excel spreadsheets. Colour: amber. Nose: sublime nutty/mineral sherry, with fumes, smokes, used gunpowder, bitter chocolate, and Cuba’s best cigars. Enough written. With water: burnt nuts and bread, used matches, over-barbecued T-bone steak (whatever). Mouth (neat): rich, even thick, full of mustard sauce, walnuts, wine sauce that one’s forgotten on the cooking stove, banana jam, and those famous cigars. OMG this is thick! With water: got gentler (are we good or not?) and rather orange-y. Orange liqueur mixed with crushed chalk. Finish: very long, a tad more leathery. Oranges and mustard in the aftertaste, plus some salt, naturally. Comments: heavy, heady, and spectacular. Now it really doesn’t go in for subtleties… SGP:464 - 89 points.

How about a legend, while we’re at it?...

Longrow 16 yo 1973 (48%, Samaroli, 240 bottles, +/-1989)

Longrow 16 yo 1973 (48%, Samaroli, 240 bottles, +/-1989) Five stars We’ve tried other 1973s by maestro Samaroli, all were totally legendary. But we’ve never formally tried this one… Oh and as you probably know, 1973 was ‘new’ Longrow’s very first year. Colour: gold. Nose: okay, here’s the recipe. Take a dozen Alka-Seltzers, add to half a litre of proper sparking water. Add crushed chalk and a little clay. Add the juices of one lemon and one lime. Crush two kippers, add. Try to rub a wee bit of new tyre, add. Add two pages of some very old book from grandma’s attic (no need to use that bible from the Renaissance that’s been in the family since centuries). Stir well, you’re done. Mouth: this is where the tropical fruits come out. We’re talking mangos, grapefruits, and passion fruits. We’ve often tried to compare Longrow to other peaters, but this time it’s all getting very clear, this is akin to mid-1960s Laphroaig, with this amazing tropical fruitiness. Finish: long, salty, lime-y, chalky, smoky… In short, pretty amazing. Comments: I’m really glad to still have some legendary glories for which we haven’t published any tasting notes yet. Mind you, whiskyfun has to remain whiskyfun (yeah right, and what for?) What’s sure is that this one is fruitier than the higher strength versions. SGP:554 - 94 points.

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

 

 

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September 6, 2017


Whiskyfun

Young Caol Ila including our 500th

Together with Lagavulin, Caol Ila is one of the peaters that can be just superb even when very young. And that’s not only because peat will mask most of youth’s inherent flaws, if you ask me. Let’s have a few of them, at random and with hope…

Caol Ila 'Moch' (43%, OB, +/-2016)

Caol Ila 'Moch' (43%, OB, +/-2016) Three stars This is the funny one – in French speaking countries at least – since moche means ugly in French. This is like if a distillery would call one of its expression ‘Ugl’. You don’t say some already did that? Colour: white wine. I like it that they’ve not added much caramel, if any. Nose: very narrow, millimetric, ashy and smoky, with just some vanilla in the background. And perhaps cider apples, one of CI’s markers in my opinion. Mouth: really good, ashy and smoky, with touches of pears and pineapples (that’s the youth). Some soot and more ashes over the minutes… Finish: medium, a little drying, but fine. Ashy aftertaste. Comments: what this baby doesn’t quite have is Caol Ila’s usual coastalness, but otherwise, it’s a fine although slightly simplistic dram from Islay. In fact, it resembles a young peater from the mainland. SGP:446 - 81 points.

Caol Ila 1999/2016 (58.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive for Taiwan, cask # 305346)

Caol Ila 1999/2016 (58.2%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive for Taiwan, cask # 305346) Three stars Did you notice that wonderful tiger on the label? Oh and I agree, this one’s not that young, but too late, it’s on… Colour: amber. Nose: burnt matches and brake pads after a long race! And leather, walnut husk, hot working tools (electric drill)… And after many minutes, raspberry jam and perhaps tamarind. As jam as well. To say that this Caol Ila is unusual is an understatement. With water: dried cold cuts and beef jerky, smoked. Mouth (neat): a feeling of swallowing a large box of struck matches, a dozen black truffles, a double corona’s worth of ashes, and the bitterest chocolate ever. Crazy sherry, not for the faint-hearted. With water: always extremely sooty, ashy, and dry, but there is some marmalade as well, which helps. Finish: long, a little more ‘normal’ and even gentle. Bitter chocolate, coffee, and marmalade. Ashes again in the aftertaste. Comments: shall we call this one ‘segmenting’? I like it, but the sulphur is rather dominant. SGP:366 - 80 points.

Caol Ila 8 yo (46%, James Eadie, refill hogshead, casks #315438, 3154418, 315442, 1189 bottles)

Caol Ila 8 yo (46%, James Eadie, refill hogshead, casks #315438, 3154418, 315442, 1189 bottles) Four stars Already found some very good ones within this new line of whiskies. Colour: white wine. Nose: ah, there, some clean, crystalline, ultra-chiselled smoky goodness, with good lemons and good green apples, a little paraffin, and a few oysters. This one’s very Caol Ila, and might go to prove that small vattings work better than single casks when you’ve got some rather ‘simple’ young spirit at hand. Mouth: exactly. Some well-defined, simple, rather sweet peaty malt, with pineapples and pears, sweet syrup, ashes, and a peppery smoke. A saltiness as well, just what the doctor ordered. Finish: medium, typically on ‘sweet peat’, as we used to say fifteen years ago. Sweet peat? Comments: you could quaff this until you are dead. We do not always need utter complexity, do we? SGP:446 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 2003/2017 (53%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive to fassstark.de, 1st fill bourbon, cask #302280, 194 bottles)

Caol Ila 2003/2017 (53%, Gordon & MacPhail, Exclusive to fassstark.de, 1st fill bourbon, cask #302280, 194 bottles) Four stars Colour: straw. Nose: oh, a mentholy one! And there’s a lot of lemongrass, chalk, beach sand, seaweed, and rubbed eucalyptus leaves. I’d even call it iodine-y, and yes this is Caol Ila. With water: more towards wet textile, bandages, old ropes, hessian, old magazines… Mouth (neat): there’s some old style at play here, a greasy, almost engine-y side at first, but it tends to get very pina-colada-ish, and that’s the 1st fill US wood. Pineapples and coconut and vanilla, if that rings a bell. Luckily, that goes well with young CI. With water: water killed the radio st… I mean the coconut, and that is very good news. Brine, seawater… Finish: long, ashy, and with a feeling of lapsang souchong. Saltier aftertaste. Comments: frankly, the coconut scared me, but we got it. SGP:556 - 85 points.

Caol Ila 6 yo 2010/2017 (50.6%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, Feis Ile 2017)

Caol Ila 6 yo 2010/2017 (50.6%, Douglas Laing, Provenance, Feis Ile 2017) Three stars and a half I find it quite cool that the indies would celebrate Feis Ile as well. I’ll have to go back to Feis Ile one day, haven’t been since, what, 2008? Colour: very pale white wine. Nose: in line with their super-young Taliskers. On the one hand, it’s fab to be able to taste some extremely young whiskies, especially the peaters. On the other hand, you just cannot expect much complexity and maturity, can you? Lemon, green apples, yoghurt, cigarette ashes, crushed concrete. That’s all, folks. With water: field water and wet tweed jacket (after that long walk on Islay with good friends and all that). Mouth (neat): smoked pear juice, lemon, vanilla, syrup, barley, cigar ashes… Only that, but that works. It’s just very punchy, and rather simple. With water: rounded off. Grapefruits, seawater, kippers. Finish: rather long, clean, perhaps a tad too sweet (those pears). Comments: very good, but some white mezcals are actually older than this. Why am I saying that? SGP:557 - 83 points.

Good, it’s great to try young Caol Ilas, but that can become a rather tiring experience. We need some kind of reward… Perhaps this… Oh and by the way, this will be little WF's 500th Caol Ila!

Caol Ila 12 yo 1978/1990 (64.4%, Cadenhead, dumpy)

Caol Ila 12 yo 1978/1990 (64.4%, Cadenhead, dumpy) Four stars One of the last black dumpies, before CAD went for taller green bottles bearing small cream labels and that famous revelation, that whiskies were matured in oak casks ;-) (which they hadn’t noticed before, ha-ha). Colour: white wine. Nose: there was a sucrosity to these vintages, and a peatiness that was more discreet. On the other hand, there was more earth, and rather more sappy herbs, pinesap, embrocations, cough syrup… This is a fine example. With water: dry, mineral, and medicinal. Some plasticine. Mouth (neat): mega-creamy, this almost flows like honey in your glass. Herbs, mint, basil, juniper, horseradish, liquorice… And on the other hand, we’ve got barley syrup, limoncello, Bénédictine… But maybe is that the super-high strength? With water: great citrus, citrons, eucalyptus… The sucrosity is still there. Finish: rather long, lemony, and rather more herbal. Fern and touches of clove-y liquorice. A muddier aftertaste (Islay mud!) Comments: a little hard to pin down, this baby’s hesitating between various styles and directions, as it everything was at play at around 12 years of age. SGP:566 - 87 points.

(Thanks a lot, Morten)

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

 

 

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September 5, 2017


Whiskyfun

Glen Grant 1955 to 1950 and down

G&M are smart. While some other, ach, erm, brands would rebottle some of their older bottles into pushier and dearer containers (see yesterday), they seem to prefer not to touch them and to rather re-bundle them as very nice sets or assortments, and this time they’ve done that with some of their older ‘licensed’ Glen Grants.

Glen Grant

What’s even better is that they’re giving you a lot of information, such as the exact composition of each batch. Cask numbers, types of casks, etc. More proper information rather than more marketing talk, I say that’s the way to a bright future (carried away, S.?) Anyway, today that’s a new ‘Glen Grant Collection’, with vintages for each year between 1950 and 1955. Let’s simply try them all…

Glen Grant 1955/2012 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, first fill sherry butt, cask #833, 484 bottles)

Glen Grant 1955/2012 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, first fill sherry butt, cask #833, 484 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: starts with polished woods, you could almost mention ‘the interior a new 1960s Rolls-Royce’. Or more prosaically, polished rosewood. Then pecan pie, marmalade, soft cigars, fruitcake, and a large bag of dried figs. Love these figs, and the fact that no obvious oak gets in the way. Only polished rosewood, and perhaps a little cedar wood (new humidor). Lovely nose, surprisingly fresh despite this very sherried style. Mouth: the oak is under control! I repeat, the oak is under control! But there’s a lot of chocolate, obviously, roasted nuts (pecans again), ground coffee beans, then softer prunes and mirabelles. Tends to become drier, which is totally normal. Finish: medium, with more dry oak extracts and a mentholated side. Bitter chocolate in the aftertaste. So, thin mints! Comments: can you do much brighter at 57 years of age? Good people who have only young whisky to sell pretend that whisky always deteriorates after, say 30 years in wood. But of course… SGP:461 - 89 points.

Glen Grant 1954/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, first fill sherry butt, cask #1822, 610 bottles)

Glen Grant 1954/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, first fill sherry butt, cask #1822, 610 bottles) Five stars We had tried another one that was a vatting of casks #1821 and 1822. Not too sure it’s the same, so… Colour: deep amber. Nose: this one’s rounder, and even fruitier, reminding me more of some very old Cognac. Stewed peaches, heather honey, rosewood again, figs and dates, an avalanche of raisins, and some wonderful earthy tea, rather pu-erh style. We just cannot be against all that, brilliant nose. Mouth: the tannins are softer and silkier here (wrt the 1955), but there is quite some chocolate, tea and coffee. And prunes, damson/zwetschke eau-de-vie, ganache… Finish: medium, a tad more tannic/tea-ish, which is completely normal, a little earthy, with rather pine needles and a little humus in the aftertaste. Comments: I like this one even better, the oak was (even) better processed, or mingled. Love the peaches. SGP:551 - 91 points.

Glen Grant 1953/2013 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, refill sherry butts and hogsheads, casks #598+599+1105, 517 bottles)

Glen Grant 1953/2013 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, refill sherry butts and hogsheads, casks #598+599+1105, 517 bottles) Five stars You may have noticed that we’re going vertically… Colour: deep gold (refill indeed). Nose: this is different, it’s fresher, it goes even more towards Cognac (but rather like 20 yo Cognac), and it’s got bags and cans of peach syrup, apples, beeswax, rum, and quince jelly. Lovely style but frankly, had I tried this totally blind, I may have said Cognac. Who said old spirits converge? Mouth: as often, the oak feels a little more on the palate, with more dark chocolate and black tea again, rather a feeling of old rum at times, and a fruity combination that balances that very nicely. I shall mention peaches once more, and oranges. Jaffa cake. Finish: medium, with a little more mint, black tea Russian-style, and always this chocolate. Oranges in the aftertaste, always one of the nicest signatures. Comments: a tad less majestic than the 1954, but we’re flying just as high. So to speak. SGP:551 - 90 points.

Glen Grant 1952/2012 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, various butts and hogsheads, casks #378+1133+1471+3245, 665 bottles)

Glen Grant 1952/2012 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, various butts and hogsheads, casks #378+1133+1471+3245, 665 bottles) Five stars There also was a 1952/2012 ‘Diamond Decanter’ back then (WF 88). It’s also to be noted that larger small batches, such as this one, tend to generate more complexity, in my opinion. Colour: gold. Nose: tah-da! Indeed, waxes, syrups, jams, bananas flambéed, a light fudge, menthol, liquorice, wulong tea… This one’s really complex indeed, and as fresh as a daisy. Mouth: a two-step arrival, first fresh fruits and teas, then more oak and chocolate. Nothing abnormal. Marmalade, heather honey, figs and dates (our infernal duo), green tea, liquorice drops, thin mints… It’s really the freshness that’s rather incredible. Finish: medium, with some gritty stewed apples, a touch of lemon and lemon grass, and, wait, peaches! A touch of wood smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: superb. Remember that all these were bottled at only 40% vol.! SGP:651 - 91 points.

Glen Grant 1951/2013 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, first fill and refill sherry butts, casks #2760+3202, 358 bottles)

Glen Grant 1951/2013 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, first fill and refill sherry butts, casks #2760+3202, 358 bottles) Four stars and a half Mind you, this baby’s 61 years old. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a rather sweeter and rounder one this time, reminiscent of genuine old PX from Jerez, with more raisins than in the others, and more honey as well. Maple syrup, toffee, a note of mushroom, a few bits of blond tobacco… Peaches? Nope! Mouth: once again a two-step development, starting wonderfully honeyed, with stewed apricots, marzipan, and beeswax at first, then more mentholated notes, a wee ashy side, and just a lot of tea. Finish: medium, rather on pastries, with an oak that’s under control and, as usual, quite some chocolate. Rather dried apricots in the aftertaste, with chocolate of course. Comments: perhaps a little less complex than others, but once again, the combo works perfectly. SGP:551 - 89 points.

Glen Grant 1950/2007 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, hogshead and sherry butt, casks #853+2734, 668 bottles)

Glen Grant 1950/2007 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, hogshead and sherry butt, casks #853+2734, 668 bottles) Five stars So the sixth and last within this new collection. We’re getting closer to WWII, so we may start to find more peat smoke (as coal and fuel were still in short supply), let’s see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: it is more phenolic, in a way, with more oils and waxes, a little soot, humus, mushrooms, herbal teas, then hints of elderberry flowers, a large slice of blueberry pie, and a little leather polish. For that famous 1960s Rolls-Royce, naturally. This style is clearly different, and more ‘old Highlands’, in a kind of way. Just a feeling… Mouth: once again, some two-step action, and indeed I’m finding some kind of peat(iness). Ashes, soot, chestnut honey, chocolate (didn’t we mention chocolate each and every time?), figs, drier raisins, orange peel, drops of cough syrup… And it’s another one that does not feel weak at all, despite the lower strengths. Finish: medium, rather more on marmalade, with a wee touch of aniseed, and a spoonful of smoked tea in the aftertaste. Comments: they’ve really chosen some of their best. There’s not a throwaway in the bunch, but that was to be expected. SGP:452 - 90 points.

BONUS So we’re done with this exceptional little series by G&M, but… how about a little joke in true WF manners? Like, going on with our wee verticale, using WF’s stash? Like, just one further year, without going down to the war? Game?...

Glen Grant 1949/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Vintage, licensed bottling, first fill sherry butts, casks #2200+3185)

Glen Grant 1949/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Vintage, licensed bottling, first fill sherry butts, casks #2200+3185) Five stars How old is this baby? 64? 65? Colour: deep gold. Nose: totally amazing. Mint, ripe apricots, mirabelles, roasted nuts, botrytis, old copper coins, wax polish, pine liqueur, apple peel, pine nuts, roasted sesame oil, pine smoke, linseed oil… One can really feel that some smoked malt has been used here, and the end result is just flabbergasting. Did I mention porcinis? Mouth: indeed, it’s more herbal, tenser, more mentholated, and in a way, wilder than its younger brothers and sisters. The closest one was the 1950, which makes a lot of sense. Totally love the way some fresher fruits are getting in the game after one minute, such as mirabelles and quinces. Always winning fruits at WF Towers. Finish: it’s incredible that this one didn’t get a little drying. It’s not, not at all, and we’re rather finding more dried fruits, especially figs. What would we do if no one had created figs? A green smokiness in the aftertaste, as well as some cinnamon and Chinese gunpowder tea. Comments: I’d have gone to Cristallerie Daum (since Baccarat and Lalique were already taken), selected some decanters, and slapped a price tag of £15,000 on the end result. Please don’t shoot. SGP:651 - 92 points.

And now, a 1948… I’m joking, ite Missa est. Very well done, G&M, a fantastic combined attack!

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September 4, 2017


Whiskyfun

Three Macallan in Lalique crystal

We just had younger Macallans on Friday, let’s now have three much older ones. Well, supposedly older ones, as while they all come in stunning decanters, they don’t carry any proper age statements. This while thinking of Michael Jackson who left us ten years ago (at time of writing).

Macallan ‘Villa René Lalique’ (45%, OB, Lalique crystal decanter, exclusive to Lalique hotel-restaurant, 24 decanters, 2015)

Macallan ‘Villa René Lalique’ (45%, OB, Lalique crystal decanter, exclusive to Lalique hotel-restaurant, 24 decanters, 2015) Four stars and a half This one will make all Macallan collectors cringe! It’s perhaps the rarest modern Macallan, only available by the glass at Lalique’s Hotel-Restaurant in Wingen-sur-Moder, Alsace. Do not forget that Lalique is located in northern Alsace! This baby’s poured from a wonderful ‘Carafe Bourgueil’ that had been designed by René Lalique himself 100 years ago. The whiskies inside are said to be 60 years old on average. By the way, the restaurant is superb, it’s a two-star Michelin that certainly deserves a third star, in my opinion. Colour: dark amber. Nose: starts with many mushrooms and some old leather, plus whiffs of old copper kettle. Some charming OBE to be found, this one really noses as if it was mostly old bottles that have been re-decanterised (!). Also balsa wood, going towards shoe polish. Mouth: powerful, rather peppery, and always quite metallic (copper again). We’re rather far away from the distillery’s contemporary style? Chestnut purée, cinnamon, white pepper, a little bitter caramel. I suppose they added some younger whiskies to make it a little brighter and less dry/drying. Some shoe polish to be found again. Finish: slightly bitter and woody, long, with some chlorophyll and walnut stain. Provence herbs in the aftertaste. Comments: they did this very well, it’s interesting to taste some very old whiskies that have been beefed up a bit. The taster ought to take its time. SGP:362 - 89 points.

Macallan ‘M’ (44.5%, OB, 1824 Series, Lalique crystal decanter, 1750 bottles, +/-2013)

Macallan ‘M’ (44.5%, OB, 1824 Series, Lalique crystal decanter, 1750 bottles, +/-2013) Five stars This famous decanter is said to contain whiskies from 1940 to 1991. My wild guess is that a few old bottles from Italy have been put in good use. According to the PR machines, this baby was ‘officially the most expensive whisky’ back in 2015, but that was a 6l bottle that fetched $600K in Hong-Kong. Regular decanters are much ‘cheaper’, you’ll easily find them for the price of a Port Ellen. Colour: amber/cognac. Nose: softer than the Villa René Lalique, rounder, and rather on panettone, chocolate, raisins, and candied oranges. I find it quite fresh, with a certain elegance. Marzipan-filled dates. This is classic Macallan, reminding me of the old blue 30 yo (caution, there are many fakes of that one). Mouth: an arrival all on bitter oranges and tobacco, plus chestnut honey. A tad rougher than I had hoped after the nose, and certainly more tannic. Strong black tea. Now, everything’s under control, and it tends to resemble some great old Armagnac. Finish: long, on tobacco and cinnamon. The tannins, while obvious, are very lovely. Comments: whisky classicism in its purest form. SGP:561 - 91 points.

Macallan ‘N°6’ (43%, OB, 1824 Series, Lalique crystal decanter, first fill Spanish oak sherry, +/-2014)

Macallan ‘N°6’ (43%, OB, 1824 Series, Lalique crystal decanter, first fill Spanish oak sherry, +/-2014) Five stars A very, very lovely decanter, this one, but no none quite knows what’s inside. Especially not its age, which always leaves us a little uncomfortable when the prices are this high (around £2,500). Unless, of course, the brand is worthy of the highest trust, which only hard facts can either confirm or deny. Oh well… Colour: amber with copper tones. Nose: fantastic! Brighter than the others, fresher, perhaps younger in fact, with superb notes of ripe figs, dried dates, menthol cigarettes, blood oranges, and ‘a little shoe polish for ladies’ pumps’. Also a few old copper coins, dried rose petals, pot-pourri… I find it really very sophisticated. Mouth: some oakiness but all this is very elegant, starting with all kinds of sweet peppers (pink pepper, Timut, Szechuan and all that), a few old cigars that went dry, then we have old oloroso, black chocolate, and quince jelly. Absolutely beautiful. Finish: medium, but fresh and bright, with oriental spices, cedar wood, dried porcinis, dried bitter oranges, and a little verbena and genepy in the aftertaste, which just further lifts it. Comments: one of the loveliest Macallans that I had the opportunity to taste in the, say last five years. SGP:561 – 92 points.

(Merci beaucoup Romain!)

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September 3, 2017


Whiskyfun

Rum from the top

Not from the top of my head, from the top of he rum world ! Well, supposedly, let’s check that while not being positively prejudiced (but we'll avoid the doctored junk today)...

Demerara 14 yo 2002/2017 (61.6%, Le Gus’t, Guyana, optimum proof, cask #144, 120 bottles)

Demerara 14 yo 2002/2017 (61.6%, Le Gus’t, Guyana, optimum proof, cask #144, 120 bottles) Four stars and a half Mind you, this feeble little rum has be reduced, while the original was clocking at… 67.8% vol. It was entirely aged in the tropics, not in Holland or Scotland, which may explain that. Colour: deep gold. Nose: instantly reminds of that song by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. That’s right, ‘Fire’. No, seriously, it’s not that enormous, but it’s got this thick, heavy style that new rum lovers (well, certainly the ones that come from whisky) just adore. Petroleum, tar, olives, lanoline, polished wood (thuja), then quite a lot of roasted nuts. Perhaps macadamia? I’m also finding a little soft curry. With water: caraway and pastis! There’s one pastis over here in France that does nose a bit like this, it’s called Bardouin. But I’m no pastis expert (very far from that, I’m only a pastis expert in July and August ;-)). Mouth (neat): sweet Vishnu! It’s strong, it’s hot, it’s tarry, it’s even a little fat, but there are also oranges that rather keep it afloat. Good biting oak and a pinch of salt. With water: herbs, I’d say. Rosemary, liquorice, lavender cookies, a feeling of pinewood… Finish: very long, very nicely spicy and herbal. A tad extractive, as often with tropical aging. Comments: we had tried the lighter version a few months back, and indeed this one may be a tad superior. Just a tad. SGP:462 - 88 points.

While we’re in Guyana…

Diamond 11 yo 2005/2017 (60.1%, Excellence Rhum, Guyana, 247 bottles)

Diamond 11 yo 2005/2017 (60.1%, Excellence Rhum, Guyana, 247 bottles) Four stars Mark on the cask, MPM, so it seems that this is one of the styles from the old Port Mourant double wooden pot still that sits at Diamond. Excellence Rhum is a well-reputed French rum shop, and now a bottler as well. Colour: white wine. Nose: totally au naturel, between diesel oil and fermenting cane juice, with the usual green olives thrown in, as well as a little tobacco and paraffin/plasticine. With water: lovely lemon grass, mint, and… wait, can you smoke green olives? It’s not made in the same way at all, but some artisanal cachaças seem to share some traits with this baby. Mouth (neat): totally up my alley. Pure, punchy, millimetric, with a wee Jamaican side. Heavy liquorice, olive brine, candle wax, and perhaps a wee chalky/rooty side. Good gentians aren’t too far away, and we’ve known some mezcals that… etc. etc. With water: gets both drier and saltier. Quite ashy too. Finish: long, rather plasticine-y, our friends the olives being back en force in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps just a wee tad narrow, but in a way, given that the profile is quite superb, that could be seen as an asset. SGP:452 - 87 points.

Port Mourant 2003/2017 (45%, The Auld Alliance and Corman-Collins, Guyana, 500 bottles)

Port Mourant 2003/2017 (45%, The Auld Alliance and Corman-Collins, Guyana, 500 bottles) Five stars A vatting of two casks that used to belong to the late Silvano Samaroli’s private stock. In other words, a bottling done to honour a departed friend. Remember, Port Mourant means double wooden pot still. Colour: white wine. Nose: starts not too far from the Diamond, but tends to become both more floral and more herbal. So there is a tarriness, several oils (linseed…), half a sheet of carbon paper, then fresh pressed cane juice, lilies, cactus (or agave?) and damp crushed chalk. Quite austere globally, and as elegant as the original owner of the casks. Mouth: really very good, starting with some mint, caraway, and a little lavender, and getting saltier by the second, with some grapefruit as well, a feeling of gravel, and perhaps a few fennel seeds. It’s really coastal as well. Clams? Kippers? Whelks? Oysters? Finish: medium, but that’s the lower strength, otherwise rather mezcaly. Comments: extremely good. We’d all loved to share a glass of this with the maestro himself. Sadly, that’s not possible. SGP:452 - 90 points.

Caroni 1997/2016 (52.2%, Arturo Makasare, Trinidad, 187 bottles)

Caroni 1997/2016 (52.2%, Arturo Makasare, Trinidad, 187 bottles) Four stars and a half A clever new line by Hubert Corman in Belgium, very retro as far as the packaging is concerned and, err, quite ‘colonial’. Which would be extremely controversial here in France, but after all, History is history (excuse me, S.?) Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s not the heaviest style of Caroni, but it does roar, in a, well, fruitier manner. Bananas flambéed with some praline, mousse au chocolat (in English, chocolate mousse - ha), rosewood, sandalwood, then more mineral and ‘organic’ notes, with some earth and gravel after some heavy rain. A pinhead of mustard. With water: curry, mustard, and spicy oak, plus some kind of spicy coconut sauce, Thai-style. Mouth (neat): this is rather heavier. Salty from the start, with some well-cured ham, some tobacco, pink grapefruits, our friendly olives, and the obligatory liquorice. Lighter Caroni on the nose, heavy Caroni on the palate, this is rather dual. With water: careful with water, that does make the oak stand out a little more. But granted, nothing abnormal. Finish: rather long, salty and liquoricy. The Caroni smoke feels more in the aftertaste, and it would come with bitter oranges and a touch of green wood. Comments: light/heavy Caroni… Right, middleweight. Both styles blended at birth, by any chance? What’s sure is that it’s another very excellent one. SGP:552 - 88 points.

Rum 970 2006/2017 (55.8%, OB, Portugal, Madeira, agricole, batch #L09317, cask #04, 201 bottles)

Rum 970 2006/2017 (55.8%, OB, Portugal, Madeira, agricole, batch #L09317, cask #04, 201 bottles) Four stars This is very interesting, as few people seem to realise that while the home of agricole is Martinique (and Guadeloupe), and while several other countries/islands are using the word ‘agricole’ loosely, the island of Madeira’s got a proper ‘agricole’ appellation too since 2011. So, this is some genuine agricole, not some agricole-style rum, although I’m not sure the regulations on Madeira are exactly the same as on the French islands. We’ll check that later, as we’ve now got other Madeirans in the library. I have to say this a first at WF Towers! Colour: office coffee. Nose: hey, it’s nice! A little closed and oaky at first (chocolate and basta), but gently opening up on flowers (peonies, lilies) and caraway-infused cane juice. A wee metallic touch in the back, and more and more caraway and cloves. With water: resinous raisins! I know alliterations kill, but that’s a fact. Mouth (neat): a thick texture, and you could fear it was sweetened, but it stays dry and quite idiosyncratic, with rather more pinewood and various molecules ending with –ol. Pretty unusual, but this works a treat. Fir needles, fir syrup, earthy late-season mushrooms… Plus, but this may be my mind playing tricks on me, some notes of bone-dry Madeira wine. How the mind works! Unless they’ve used ex-Madeira casks, which would be fully legitimate of course. With water: excellent! Notes of marc, fir liqueur, grape pips, and perhaps a little turmeric? Or ginseng? Finish: long, still dry, very sappy, very unusual, very good. Cold cuts, chocolate, mint, resins… Comments: it’s a if they had let some pine needles infuse in the cask. The fact is, I love pine-y flavours. In any case, another island to watch, thank you Francesco for having let me try this baby, quite a revelation. Isn’t this why we’re doing all this blogging madness?… SGP:372 - 86 points.

(Thanks a lot again, Francesco)

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September 2, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our casual Scottish correspondent
and guest taster Angus MacRaild
Angus  
Two High Octane Banff
It’s not often I get a chance to try Banff, which is of course a shame as Banff can be rather exquisite when it wants to be. Lets try two high strength examples today. Water at the ready...

 

Banff 15 yo 1976/1992 (61.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 150th Anniversary) Banff 15 yo 1976/1992 (61.1%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, 150th Anniversary) Colour: Light gold. Nose: Understandably tight at first. Then begins to unfold along the lines of lilies, pollen, honeysuckle and other wild flowers. A little limoncello, some beeswax and camphor. Pure elegance, despite the high strength which subsides quite swiftly. Some green fruit and various resins emerge with time. Finally some signature Banff mustard  English mustard this time. With water: becomes a little carbolic with touches of mead and coal hearths. Grilling sausages and a charcoal on a barbecue. Sausages AND mustard! This Banff is a meal in itself. Palate: Wonderfully rich, oily and delicately waxy; full of white and black pepper, mustard seed and camphor. You could be drinking a fruit salad laced with paraffin. A touch of medicine - germoline perhaps - then a little wood ash. Wonderful! With water: more wax, more hessian, more little medical complexities, quite a lot of dry spiciness now and a little mineral flourish. Finish: Long and drying with mineral freshness and lots of mustard, spice and a little background waxiness. A notch farmy towards the end. Comments: Unsurprisingly excellent. These 1975-1976 Banffs seem to be consistently spectacular. I think Banff is one of those unusual distilleries where the 1970s examples were often better than their 1960s forbears. SGP: 364 - 90 points.  

 

Banff 24 yo 1975/2000 (63.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society,  #67.5)

Banff 24 yo 1975/2000 (63.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society,  #67.5) Better strap ourselves in for this one... Colour: Light amber. Nose: The extra age is readily apparent here, we’re much more on honey, pollen, mead, some soft wood resins, exotic hardwoods, sultanas and quince jelly. A slightly menthol touch as well after a while along with eucalyptus and rosewater. An aged dry Gewurztraminer (lets say ZH Rangen 1985). A little coal dust and some assorted tropical fruits follow. With water: These notes of Gewurz really start to become louder with water; rose jelly, quince paste, tinned lychee syrup, a grating of nutmeg. There is still this impression of fat, syrupy, glycerol liquid sloshing about in the glass below. Totally spectacular! Palate: Call the anti-maltoporn brigade right now! Wax, myriad fruits, mustard, olive oil, resins, balsamico, pine needles, camphor, earth, dried mushrooms. Gah! Majestic palate. I totally forgot that this is 63.5%! With water: Drier, earthier, more peppery, more towards cinnamon bark, wild flowers, green fruits and a little dark chocolate and Darjeeling tea. Finish: Long, full of jasmine, lapsang souchong, a little chilli pepper, cocoa, mustard power, wax and more resinous notes. Comments: Again this was unsurprising. But totally beautiful and deeply satisfying. What a shame these bottles are now so scarce and generally unaffordable. At least by impoverished whisky writers at any rate (this is your cue to start playing your tiny violin Serge!). SGP: 463 - 92 points.

 

 

 

September 1, 2017


Whiskyfun

No age stated Macallan

We said we’d have some Macallan, so we will have some Macallan. It was time we tried some newer batches of their latest NASses, wasn’t it? Some are saying that only confident brands would issue young whiskies with proper age statements… Not too sure about that…

Macallan ‘Select Oak’ (40%, OB, 1824 collection, Il, +/-2017)

Macallan ‘Select Oak’ (40%, OB, 1824 collection, Il, +/-2017) Two stars and a half We had an earlier version seven years ago, it had been okayish (WF 78). It’s supposed to be ‘a lighter style of Macallan’, and it had reminded me of the first 8 yo ‘Fine Oak’. Oh and it’s one of those ‘travel-retail-only’ bottles that one can find almost anywhere. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very muesli-y for Macallan, sweet-beerish, and totally not in the ‘old style’. Porridge, sweet bread, malt, then a lot of vanilla. I almost wrote vanillin. Then touches of green tea, and perhaps just a hint of eucalyptus. Mouth: really easy, and rather in the style of Glenmorangie, I’d say, but it’s got more beer, more raw malt, and more sour fruits. Oak spices coming out, ginger, cinnamon… Finish: medium, on fresh oak. It really feels. Comments: I don’t think I’ll change my mind, this is modest, and I find the oak treatment a little too obvious. SGP:441 - 78 points.

Macallan ‘Amber’ (40%, OB, 1824 series, +/-2017)

Macallan ‘Amber’ (40%, OB, 1824 series, +/-2017) Three stars Sienna was the clear winner last time I tried the whole series, around four years ago, but Amber did rather well (WF 81). Colour: gold. Nose: we aren’t far from Select Oak (sounds like a department at Home Depot, doesn’t it), with some clear oak, but this time I’m rather finding pineapple and coconut, then hay, lemongrass and barley. Some raisins, some cinnamon rolls, some croissants. Mouth: you feel it’s rather young, but I’m not against fruity bread. Some obvious oak again (feels flavoured rather than well-mingled), orange zests, wholegrain bread, and, perhaps, pumpernickel. Notes of tangerines, which is nice. Finish: medium, a tad fruitier. Grapefruits, ginger, raisins, oranges. Sawdust in the aftertaste. Comments: really not bad at all, but too bad the oak’s a little too ‘noticeable’. SGP:551 - 82 points.

Macallan ‘Sienna’ (43%, OB, 1824 series, +/-2017)

Macallan ‘Sienna’ (43%, OB, 1824 series, +/-2017) Four stars So my favourite when it was launched. Brilliant Macallan. Colour: gold. Nose: ah? It’s lost a bit of lustre, apparently, I find it much simpler, with sour fruits and some rather ‘obvious’ praline and toasted oak. A feeling of burnt chocolate cake and corn syrup. The pecan pie and the tarte tatin are nicer, though, really curious about the palate now… Mouth: yes this is good, it’s probably the closest you can get to the older Macallan spirit, even if it’s relatively simple, and not as ‘whirling around’ as its earlier inception. Cakes, roasted nuts, malt, praline, spicy cake, bitter marmalade. Good body, the lower strength doesn’t quite feel. Finish: medium, slightly plankish and rather nutty. Some sweet sherry. Comments: isn’t this vatting younger on average than earlier batches? I was having Sienna at no less than WF 90, but that just can’t be this time. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Macallan ‘Edition No.2’ (48.2%, OB, 2016)

Macallan ‘Edition No.2’ (48.2%, OB, 2016) Four stars When you have no age, you ought to come up with a name, and a number’s just easy to find, isn’t it. It’s strange though that they wouldn’t have called it ‘The Spanish Edition’ or something, as this NAS vatting was done in collaboration with some Spanish chefs. And why not? Now I’ve been to some of those restaurants (such as the Rocas’s), and I can assure you that they’re totally great. Colour: gold. Nose: malt and sherry, obviously. Ovaltine, raisins, oak, vanilla, barley, toffee, chocolate, and a little mocha, then rather tangerine jam and fruity cornflakes. Fruity Loops, that’s their name if I remember well. Well done so far. Mouth: okay, this is very good. Big malty arrival, totally in sync with the nose, then many full-flavoured pastries, cakes, and certainly some ginger cake. A spoonful of thick ale, or perhaps Guinness (I know that’s a little un-diplomatic).  Finish: long, firm, rather thick. Ginger cake and raisin rolls and some welcome lemon in the aftertaste. Comments: I like it that Macallan would collaborate with chefs and starred restaurants. That’s good, worthy content (as long as the chefs have something to say and enjoy their whisky). More about all that on Monday, stay tuned! SGP:551 - 87 points.

 

Whiskyfun fav of the month

August 2017

Favourite recent bottling:
Bunnahabhain 30 yo 1986/2017 (52.6%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead) - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Caperdonich 38 yo 1972/2011 (46%, Mo Or Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #7437, 162 bottles) - WF 93

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Speyside 43 yo 1973/2017 (46.5%, Archives, butt, cask #9, 120 bottles) - WF 93

Favourite malternative:
Caroni 18 yo 1998/2017 (63.2%, Hunter Laing, Kill Devil, Trinidad, 233 bottles) - WF 91

 

 

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Block Today: JAZZ. Performer: Joe Lovano and Gunther Schuller. Track: Rush Hour on 23rd St. Please visit his website and buy his music...
 

August 2017 - part 2 <--- September 2017 - part 1 ---> September 2017 - part 2


 

 

Best spirits I tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Glen Grant 1954/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, first fill sherry butt, cask #1822, 610 bottles)

Glen Grant 1953/2013 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, refill sherry butts and hogsheads, casks #598+599+1105, 517 bottles)

Glen Grant 1952/2012 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, various butts and hogsheads, casks #378+1133+1471+3245, 665 bottles)

Glen Grant 1950/2007 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Glen Grant Collection, licensed bottling, hogshead and sherry butt, casks #853+2734, 668 bottles)

Glen Grant 1949/2014 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Rare Vintage, licensed bottling, first fill sherry butts, casks #2200+3185)

Glenrothes 33 yo 1967/2000 (48.5%, VA-MA, Italy)

Laphroaig 10 yo (43%, OB, for Japan, 75cl, 1970s?)

Longrow 12 yo 1998/2011 (52%, OB, exclusive to Dugas, France, Madeira wood, cask #341, 268 bottles)

Longrow 16 yo 1973 (48%, Samaroli, 240 bottles, +/-1989)

Macallan ‘M’ (44.5%, OB, 1824 Series, Lalique crystal decanter, 1750 bottles, +/-2013)

Macallan ‘N°6’ (43%, OB, 1824 Series, Lalique crystal decanter, first fill Spanish oak sherry, +/-2014)

Springbank 21 yo (49.6%, OB, for the UK, single cask, oloroso sherry, 702 bottles, 2016)

Port Mourant 2003/2017 (45%, The Auld Alliance and Corman-Collins, Guyana, 500 bottles)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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