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Hi, you're in the Archives, September 2020 - Part 2

       

September 2020 - part 1 <--- September 2020 - part 2 ---> October 2020 - part 1

 

 

September 28, 2020


Whiskyfun

Two or three Irish (or more)

Perhaps more than elsewhere, in Ireland the regular drops are a bit boring (remember, always only my own opinion). But there are also more and more jewels, that’s for sure. Irish whisky is not only ‘a lighter Scotch’ anymore! Let’s see what we can find…

Clonakilty ‘Single Batch’ (43.6%, OB, blended Irish, +/-2019)

Clonakilty ‘Single Batch’ (43.6%, OB, blended Irish, +/-2019) one star and a half
Isn’t the expression ‘single batch’ a tad tautological? It seems that this has been finished in virgin oak. This is a new ‘distillery’ that comes complete with a World Whiskies Award (naturally). I suppose this is sourced whisky as they only started distilling in 2018 - says their website where no stills are to be seen at time of writing. Colour: white wine. Nose: not too disagreeable but there’s this gristy and metallic side that’s not really appealing either. Raw grappa. Mouth: light apples and pears, some vanilla, barley syrup, marshmallows, plum spirit, sawdust. It’s okay. Finish: a little short and too much on muesli? Sugary aftertaste, with some sawdust. Comments: does the trick with the fake decimals in the ABV still work, from a marketing POV? A kind of okayish-drop-when-there’s-nothing -else nonetheless. Courage!
SGP:430 - 68 points.

Gelston’s 12 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, finished in sherry, 2019)

Gelston’s 12 yo (40%, OB, Irish single malt, finished in sherry, 2019) Two stars and a half
I believe this is West Cork juice. Colour: white wine. Nose: destroys the Clonakilty but it’s true that this is malt. Warm brioche, croissants, redcurrants, raspberries, and whiffs of green tea, gunpowder-style. Would go down well in a pub, with a pint on the side. Mouth: nice liquorice, funny herbs (sage, tarragon) and candyfloss, also sultanas and orange blossom water. An unexpected meaty side, with some kind of sweeter cured ham, hard to describe. Sweet cured ham, perhaps? Finish: rather short but nicely leafy. Herbal teas, peach and cherry leaves. Too much dry sawdust in the aftertaste, alas. Comments: we’re starting to talk here. Too bad there was this unpleasant oak in the aftertaste (shavings)…
SGP:541 - 79 points.

Bushmills ‘Sherry cask’ (40%, OB, Steamship Collection, Irish single malt, 2019)

Bushmills ‘Sherry cask’ (40%, OB, Steamship Collection, Irish single malt, 2019) Two stars and a half
This is to be found at Amazon’s, never good news in my book. And steamships instead of age statements, oh well… Colour: gold. Nose: light, not too unpleasant, with notes of dough, fresh cupcake, perhaps a touch of mint, English breakfast tea, cherry jam… Really, it’s extremely light, but fresh and pleasant. Like cold tea ;-). Mouth: really, it’s pleasant, sweet and malty, with some caramel and fudge, raisin rolls… In truth this is some liquid raisin roll. And I’m fond of raisin rolls. Finish: short but clean, not too leafy/leathery if a little too PX-y. Comments: the Gelston’s had a little more flesh but this is not bad at all. INn an ideal world, we would have an unsherried version of this little NAS. Which I think we have…
SGP:441 - 78 points.

Bushmills ‘Bourbon cask’ (40%, OB, Steamship Collection, Irish single malt, 2019)

Bushmills ‘Bourbon cask’ (40%, OB, Steamship Collection, Irish single malt, 2019) Two stars and a half
Colour: white wine. Nose: dead on candyfloss and marshmallows, nail polish, and jelly babies. In the old days we would have said whiskey for kids, but this could get you jailed these days. No? Mouth: nice in the sense that it’s hinting at all those stupendous ‘Secret Irish Single Malts’ from 1987-1993 (like). Very simple and extremely fruity. Bubblegum and more marshmallows, but no mangos and maracuja yet. Finish: short but very fruity and bonbony. Comments: it’s not reaching the 80-mark in WF’s book of horror scores, but we aren’t that far at all. Very good juice that may need a little more attention instead of fancy names and retro labels. Who doesn’t do retro labels these days? Our friends the Kazaks?
SGP:630 - 79 points.

Good, since we’ve mentioned those older vintages of ‘Secret Irish Malts’…

 

 

 

Bushmills 28 yo 1992/2020 (46.7%, OB, Irish single malt, for LMDW, 360 bottles)

Bushmills 28 yo 1992/2020 (46.7%, OB, Irish single malt, for LMDW, 360 bottles)
This is ex-sherry and ex-bourbon, finished in a cognac cask. You could think that doesn’t make much sense, but remember some old families in Cognac were of Irish origin. Such as the Hennessies! Colour: gold. Nose: totally in line with all those stunning independent ‘secret Irish’ around, just with too many raisins thrown in. But I’m exaggerating, it’s not that bad at all, the whole remains very fresh and ueber-fruity, with the expected mangos, pink bananas and mangos. Seriously, this is an awesome nose. Mouth: absolutely tops, powerful, first on all those tropical fruits that I’ve mentioned before, then on myriads of tiny herbal notes, some probably borrowed from the Cognac cask. Now the French oak did impart some unusual spicy notes, especially green pepper and cardamom, which would make this older Bushmills a little spicier than necessary, which might make it miss the 90-mark. The finish will tell… Finish: yeah, raisins and leaves plus green pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: absolutely excellent, but I’m sorry to say that some indies are even better, probably because they would rather stem from pure ex-bourbon wood. I know, nit-picking again, apologies.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

 

 

Last shot…

 

 

Redbreast 17 yo 2001 ‘All Sherry’ (59.5%, OB, for LMDW, Irish pure pot still, sherry butt, cask #26494, 636 bottles)

Redbreast 17 yo 2001 ‘All Sherry’ (59.5%, OB, for LMDW, Irish pure pot still, sherry butt, cask #26494, 636 bottles)
I remember I had tried some of these casks while at Midleton. Me and my pals were impressed. Colour: amber. Nose: sweet Boris, Donald and Wladimir, this is something. Lorryloads of fresh cakes and mentholy raisins, both fresh and dried figs, and just these feelings of moss and mushrooms that usually come with proper sherry butts. And quite bizarrely, I’m finding a little cognac too. Here we go… With water: I solemnly swear that this is reminiscent of cognac, and would happily hand over my collection of Whisky Bibles (complete from 2003 to 2005) to anybody proving me wrong. Mouth (neat): really rich, still pretty young, a little brutal, a little rustic, a little hot, quite meaty/salty, and as we sometimes say, hipflasky. I’m sure water will bring civilisation… With water: civilisation indeed, but the sherry was pretty loud. Not unlike Keith Moon on a few old The Who records. Now the end result remains pretty faultless, rich, malty, cake-y and raw. Finish: long, with salty touches. Comments: I think the lovely Bushmills won the fight. This Redbreast is pretty bestial if you ask me, not unlike some young high-strength cognacs. Irish cognac?
SGP:651 - 86 points.

 

 

 

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

 

September 27, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

A little bag of Parisian rums

 

 

I’m not meaning rums made in Paris, naturally - although they make some good little ones at the Distillerie de Paris, near the Gare de l’Est – that would rather be new bottlings for Whisky Live Paris 2020 and beyond. Well, if stocks last, but not too sure when these will actually be out; I believe some are actually already available but not too sure which…  

 

 

Providence (57%, Haiti, 2020)

Providence (57%, Haiti, 2020)
This baby was batch-distilled at the very recent Distillerie de Port-au-Prince, a joint venture between Velier and Barbancourt as it seems, in December of 2019, from a mix of cane juice and cane syrup. As for the label, looks like it’s a wee tribute to those lovely old ‘Jura Whiskies’ from the 1970s. Colour: white. Nose: clairin springs to your mind, and varnish and glue to your nose. Which is actually good news here. Goes then towards olives and asparagus, good news too, and then some kind of earthier cane juice. Earthier than in Martinique, for example. I like these glue-y smells, they’re pretty regressive and remind me of my childhood. Not that that’s of any interest, I agree… With water: marzipan and glue, then roots (beet, turnip) and a small all-fruit tropical mix, the kind that you would throw into a cocktail. Touch of bananas, touch of pineapples. Mouth (neat): am I totally crazy if I claim that this reminds me of a blend of clairin and white Barbancourt? Would you even believe me? So these almost mescally olives, plus some sugary, lighter and slightly ethanoly flavours. Feels a bit like a ‘high-malt blend’. With water: more grassy and earthy cane juice. Something slightly prickly too, Suze-Schweppes? Finish: medium, grassy, with fine sour fruits. Comments: an extremely fine young white, a bit between two worlds, grassy and sweet.
SGP:362 - 83 points.

 

 

Chalong Bay ‘High Proof Batch 0001’ (57%, Thailand, 2020)

Chalong Bay ‘High Proof Batch 0001’ (57%, Thailand, 2020)
This is made in Phuket! I’ve always rather liked their white, a little less so their ‘infused’ versions, but in the old days I believe Thai law wouldn’t have allowed them to go beyond 40% vol. so this is what we had been hoping for, higher proofs… Colour: white. Nose: it’s a rather fatter, deeper spirit, perhaps a tad less complex but consequently better chiselled, with more esters as well, and more flowers. Ylang-ylang, pink bananas, a wee bit of black olive, capers, gherkins… It’s getting pretty heady over time, almost intoxicating. With water:  lovely grassy and smoky notes. Barbecued tarragon, oregano… Mouth (neat): liquorice allsorts and, well, liquorice allsorts. I like liquorice allsorts, they’re pretty regressive too. Lemon drops, tar, olives, pinch of salt, sugarcane. Not a throwaway. With water:  a little sweeter yet, but the tarry and salty foundation keeps it balanced and tight. Finish: long, salty. Perhaps a tad less clean and fresh, but that often happens in finishes. Comments: so we can’t fly to Phuket? At least we’ve got their rum. BTW Thailand’s Issan is pretty much to my liking too.
SGP:452 - 85 points.

 

 

Enmore 2002/2020 (59%, Rum Nation, cask #1700027/28/30, Islay cask finish)

Enmore 2002/2020 (59%, Rum Nation, cask #1700027/28/30, Islay cask finish)
Sure the very idea of an Islay cask finish sounds a bit strange,  but after all, we’ve seen some of those European Enmores that had been good but a little too ‘naked’ when natural, and Islays that had been finished in Demerara casks too – and that had been to my liking. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s technically rum, of course, but it’s more a meta-spirit to me, and an excellent one at that. Ink, grass juice, asparagus cooking water, ‘good’ cabbage, grapefruit, our good friends the green olives, some kind of sour/grassy smoke, wakame paste or something, certainly some pretty raw oysters, all that with a feeling of unity. This works in my book. With water: mercurochrome, so a Laphroaiggy feel. Mouth (neat): big fun and neither rum nor whisky in my book, something else. Peat coal (or very old peat), olives, more ink, petrol, salt, lime, tarmac, chewing leatherette, drinking ink at school (I find school very inspiring these days), bitter herbs aplenty… With water: salty, tarry, citron. Finish: long, tenser, tarry and salty, with the expected lemony and olive-y aftertaste. Comments: it’s true that a peater from Islay is philosophically closer to an Enmore than an Enmore to a, say Diplomatico. See what I’m trying to say? Fun and very good drop, to pour blind to your (soon to be former) friends.
SGP:463 - 88 points.

 

 

Neisson 2014/2020 ‘V.S.O.P.’ (44%, OB, LMDW, Martinique, agricole, 900 bottles)

Neisson 2014/2020 ‘V.S.O.P.’ (44%, OB, LMDW, Martinique, agricole, 900 bottles)
Neisson’s pretty expensive, but so is Macallan, while Macallan is now very far from being the Neisson of Scotch malt whisky. I know, unnecessary comments, but at least I’m sure you get my drift. Having said that I haven’t got much in my glass, so we’ll be quick and get straight to the point. Colour: gold. Nose: sublime crystallised pineapples and pine resin, mango jam, and one of those very rare Alsatian late-harvest Rieslings, such as the one Zind-Humbrecht once did on the Grand Cru Brand, a few yards away from Whiskyfun Towers. Well I think it was a Brand; what a wine! And what a Neisson! Mouth: incredibly rich and yet kind of lifted, even refreshing. Jams, pralines, salted fudge, liquorice, tar, luwak coffee, mangos… Finish: good caramel and some rancio. Comments: the nose is extraordinary, the palate of the highest order. Worth every penny – and I don’t even know about the price (that doesn’t make any sense, S.)
SGP:652 - 92 points.

 

 

Savanna 9 yo 2010/2020 (55%, OB, La Réunion, cask #1055, 804 bottles)

Savanna 9 yo 2010/2020 (55%, OB, La Réunion, cask #1055, 804 bottles)
Savanna, from the French island of La Réunion near Madagascar, has gained much traction in recent years, largely thanks, I believe, to La Maison du Whisky. They do various esterifications, not too sure about this one, which is said to be an ‘unshared cask’. Is that really ‘unshared’? Or ‘uncharred’? Whatever, let’s try the baby… Colour: gold. Nose: classic high-ester Savanna, probably even more on green and black olives than any other rum, including the Jamaicans. Some salty petrol (old shipwreck), tyres, damp cardboard, old magazines… It is really very singular. A touch of burnt raisin, it’s true that this one was matured in Armagnac casks (not simply finished). With water: olives up, green liquorice, and much more varnish. That’s funny, varnish usually rather comes with the first sniffs. No? Mouth (neat): huge, extremely olive-y, totally in line with the nose. Tar and olive juice. With water: same, but bitterer. Isn’t tar always bitter? Finish: long bitter, dry, ashy. Sucking a bicycle inner tube. Comments: I like it really a lot, it’s a rum unlike any other. It’s just that the Neisson would have crushed any rum that would have followed it anyway.
SGP:363 - 86 points.

 

 

 

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

 

September 26, 2020


Whiskyfun

A personal selection of the finest spirits that should have appeared in Paris

I have attended strictly all editions of Whisky Live Paris, including its earlier inceptions such as the first Paris Whisky Festival that had taken place in 2002 within the Distillerie Clacquesin in Malakoff, in the outskirts of Paris.

That partly explains why this festival has always been close to my heart, but it’s also there that I could find new whiskies and other funny spirits right before high season, many as they hadn’t even been launched on the market yet. And also meet old and new friends (including distillers mind you), chat a lot, and share drams and laughter.
So I’m sure you easily imagine how I felt when I got that call earlier in July – or was it August . “We have to cancel 2020 because of COVID!” Now a second call, a few days later, was more positive, as our friends over there had decided to do a neat wee online event instead, smartly called ‘Le Festival des Nouveautés’. One thing leading to another, the idea came up that I could try some of the new spirits that were to be introduced at Whisky Live and publish my little tasting notes here on Whiskyfun, so that our friends who would have loved to attend the festival this year could at least kind of try my personal selection vicariously. I know, not the same at all and we don’t obligatorily share the same tastes, but there, maybe is that a little better than nothing. So I thought it was a very cool idea indeed and agreed instantly and wholeheartedly, and here we are. I’ll try to publish these notes pretty often in the week, until around the end of October. I insist, it’s only a personal selection of spirits that I think are either very good or interesting, I won’t screen just everything because I couldn’t anyway, so I’m afraid we won’t have that brand new Outer-Mongolian NAS buckwheat whisky finished in bison grass vodka and PX-seasoned mizunara… But at least we shall survive! Oh by the way, you’ll easily recognise these spirits as we have a specific and very large shiny blue and tomato red logo for them, as well as an unusual blueish beige background. No, of course there is no accounting for taste.
Oh and we’ll start this madness right today, with…

 

 

 

Aberlour and oloroso

 

 

There is this new 18 that was ready to reach our shores at Whisky Live Paris, had the festival not been cancelled, and very luckily, I’ve got a good few cls to try. But it’s a powerful dram, so we'll have to find another such heavy Aberlour as the sparring partner, probably an A'bunadh. In the meantime...

 

 

Aberlour 18 yo 2002/2020 (62.4%, OB, cask #2575, 263 bottles)

Aberlour 18 yo 2002/2020 (62.4%, OB, cask #2575, 263 bottles)
This new baby has got the dark brown, almost mahogany colour of the very early batches of A’bunadh. It should be a proper sherry bomb à l’ancienne. Colour: mahogany. Nose: splendid, full of Havana tobacco, soy sauce, bouillons, crude chocolate, tar and liquorice (with moderation), miso, walnut wine, espresso, perhaps a wee bit of beef jerky, or rather Grisons meat, some cherry juice, and echoes of a great old Bourgogne from the Côte de Nuits. Your choice, be my guest, there’s even peonies. Ultra-classic high-sherry malt. With water: there, marrow, game, black cigars, very old Port, natural tar liqueur, coffee, crushed rocks, patchouli, earths… An amazing nose that tells you many long stories, but do not use an amplifying glass please. Mouth (neat): immediate pleasures, on liquorice, walnut liqueur, chocolate and coffee, plus a tiny mentholated touch. Superb, and I suppose meaty flavours will come out once it’s been H2O-ised. Now it’s not even brutal at 62% plus, or is it me? With water: no, it’s doesn’t actually become very meaty, it would rather gear towards more coffee and raw chocolate, which is just as great. I love it. Notes of bitter herbs, rocket salad perhaps… It’s just perfectly dry. Finish: long, a tad more on soups and bouillons this time. I cannot not mention umami, and indeed use the word savoury. A feeling of burnt wood and cigar in the aftertaste. Comments: up there with the best old Glendronachs, older-era Macallans - when they were still insisting on using oaken sherry casks - and indeed Aberlours (the cubes, remember?)
SGP:462 - 92 points.

 

 

 

And so a proper sparring-partner as we always do, this recent A'bunad:

Aberlour 'A'bunadh batch #66’ (59.2%, OB, 2020)

Aberlour 'A'bunadh batch #66’ (59.2%, OB, 2020) Four stars
Tell me about an apéritif! In the old days we used to try to keep up with the various editions of A’bunadh but I’ve given up. What I’ve noticed, I think, is that they tended to become lighter in colour, but they’re still 100% ex-oloroso sherry butts. Last batch I had tried was #58 in 2017, I found it excellent (WF 89). Colour: deep gold. Nose: typical mix of old walnuts, some wee metallic touches, cakes, some meaty/savoury notes, then the expected chocolate and coffee, plus pipe tobacco and marmalade, naturally. Really a classic that never disappoint. With water: I’m a very good reducer (yeah right), apparently, since it got much nicer and very chocolaty. Grated raw cocoa over miso soup and very old balsamico. Hope we’ll find umami on the palate. Mouth (neat): a little hot and rough, but A’bunadh ought to be rough. I’m finding a lot of ginger and sawdust, some sour spices, pencil shavings, raw un-destemmed marc (Bourgogne)… Frankly it’s rather too aggressive when neat, on the other hand that’s almost part of the brief, is it not. With water: fruitier but still with quite a lot of ginger and sweet berries. Kirsch. A little dichotomous, the nose was much different, more on classic oloroso. Finish: rather long, with some leather. Bay leaves. Not always a huge fan of this kind of unfolding. Comments: what a sublime nose! I thought the palate was a little more unremarkable, a little too leafy.
SGP:461 - 87 points.

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

 

September 24, 2020


Whiskyfun

A second little bag of young Caol Ila

We’re back. See, we survived the charred wine hoggie (I’m joking, it was a fine whisky) and some turmoil on our dear MM&F – but that, barely. Bah, anything excessive is insignificant.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2019 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, refill butt, cask #316639, 330 bottles)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2019 (46%, Signatory Vintage, Un-chillfiltered Collection, refill butt, cask #316639, 330 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: yeah, there, pure, crystalline, on lemon skins, coal ashes, damp chalk, sauvignon blanc and chenin 50/50, grist, leaven bread, porridge… I can tell you, this is pure un-fiddled-with young Caol Ila. Mouth: pristine smoky and ashy lemon juice, with crabs and oysters as well as beach pebbles and a dollop of drier Spanish olive oil. Finish: saltier yet, very brine-y, utterly lovely. You could pour this over just anything, pizza, poke bowls, fajitas… okay maybe not haggis. Big ashes in the aftertaste (you just smoked a double-corona).Comments: Signatory, could we swap one bottle of this for three untouched bottles of ‘charred wine hogshead’?
SGP:467 - 87 points.

Caol Ila 7 yo 2012/2020 (60%, Asta Morris, cask #AMI127, 524 bottles)

Caol Ila 7 yo 2012/2020 (60%, Asta Morris, cask #AMI127, 524 bottles) Three stars and a half
Ouch, this might be brutal. Having said that, another CI by Asta Morris just won the Malt Maniacs Awards earlier this month, so kudos to them and to their engaging Lider Maximo Bert (that evening in Paris at the Hollywood Savoy around 2005 will remain between us.) Deep inside I know that award was well deserved - I may have tried that one actually, will have to check that. Now, seven years old, ha-ha… Colour: light gold. Nose: yeah butterscotch and shortbread, fudge, smoky oils (sesame), turon, citron liqueur… It’s hard to beat this very modern style that always involves activated wood. Malt whisky on autotune, if you will. With water:  Starbucks’ hazelnut café, Kahlua, praline, stuff by Ferrero (but please no palm oil)… Mouth (neat): of course it’s excellent. I’m no killjoy, I like smoky butterscotch, brioche, café latte and stuff. With water: pancakes, scones and brownies, with moderate smoke. Finish: medium, on more café latte. Comments: pretty lovely, but when all whiskies will be alike, I start to do gin. Or there, geneveer.
SGP:545 - 84 points.

Caol Ila 12 yo 2007/2020 (48.5%, Whisky Sponge, refill hogshead, 156 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2007/2020 (48.5%, Whisky Sponge, refill hogshead, 156 bottles) Four stars
The only indie bottler who works with aliens for his labels. Having said that, this spongious, almost ungraspable entity already gave us quite a few awesome drams. Purely by chance, I’m sure. Colour: white wine. Nose: pure, coastal, lemony, probably the cleanest we’ve had so far. Now does cleanliness bear any value in malt whisky? You have two hours…  Mouth: bits of rubber, some limoncello, putty, marzipan, whelks, seawater, bicycle inner tube, salty fish, a drop of Vicks’ best, and more and more seashells and oysters and langoustines and all the rest. The putty/rubber never gets in the way, but some slight fizziness arises on the back of your tongue. Islay Spritz, anyone? Finish: Islay Spritz indeed. Comments: I’m glad we could now drop that monstrosity called ‘Aperol’. Oh-my-God, thank you Colonel Sponge!
SGP:556 - 87 points.

I believe an older Coal Ila would be in order before we call this a (two-part) tasting session.

Caol Ila 30 yo 1989/2020 (42.4%, Hunter Laing, the Kinship, 532 bottles)

Caol Ila 30 yo 1989/2020 (42.4%, Hunter Laing, the Kinship, 532 bottles) Five stars
The new Kinships have arrived and it’s only natural that we would first try the Caol Ila. It’s interesting that these ‘young’ vintages – 1989 is a recent vintage to me - would now be 30; as they say at Air France, how time flies! Colour: light gold. Nose: isn’t it obvious that Caol Ila is an otherworldly distillate? In my book it’s one of the only two, maybe three makes that can be superb both at a very young and at an old age. I strictly adore these notes of old varnishes, yack butter (I’ve smelled that only once in my live, but I’ll remember it forever), humidor, old oil paint, old copper coins forgotten in an old jacket, engine oil, benzoin, carbolineum… It’s not whisky, it’s a journey, but please give it some time. Now the lower strength may suggest a fragile palate, let’s see… Mouth: yeah well, the differences with the ‘older 30s’, I mean the 1978-1983 vintages, is that these newer old ones would be saltier, more coastal, perhaps more on brines, samphires, wakame, stuff like that. And less on almonds/marzipan and soft tars etc. Only my very own take of course. Capers, olives…  Finish: medium, very salty. Liquid seaweed, more olives… And something rather medicinal. Comments: indeed, a journey. It’s not a quiet, clean old Caol Ila, it’s even kept some roughish, salty edges. Maybe one for solo sailors? (the French are the best, the English aren’t too bad but they’re always drunk – there, I said it – indeed, a lifelong rivalry.)
SGP:366 - 90 points.

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

 

September 22, 2020


Whiskyfun

A little bag of young Caol Ila

At a time when so many indie Islays are becoming ‘secret’, which just bores us all to death, it’s refreshing to have some that keep saying their names. Now I agree, maybe better ‘secret’ than ‘fakes sourced from other countries’ (boo Japan) or single malts distilled at non-distilling distilleries (boo USA, boo Ireland). I’m asking you, where is the whisky world heading? But let's lighten up our mood with Caol Ila, boys and girls!...

Caol Ila 12 yo 2007/2019 (56.1%, The Single Cask, for Whisky H.K. & HNWS Taiwan, 293 bottles)

Caol Ila 12 yo 2007/2019 (56.1%, The Single Cask, for Malt Whisky H.K. & HNWS Taiwan, 293 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: white wine. NoseMalt : so much nicer when you know where it comes from! I mean, really, you could see the Paps of Jura, smell the seaweed from the Sound of Islay, the crabs that have just been caught, and even hear the sound of the Corryvreckan (I swear). Which is, by the way, much, much closer to Caol Ila than to Ardbeg. Other than that, we have some impeccable seaweed indeed, oysters, lemons, olive brine and cigar ashes. Hard to beat. With water: an immaculate coastal smokiness with some lemon juice. A plate of Korean smoked oysters. Mouth (neat): exactly what you would expect from a young, fierce Caol Ila. I’ll say it again, Caol Ila is gentle only in the laziest whisky literature. Wonderful saltiness, seashells, ashes, kippers, a lemony smoke (or smoky lemons) and a perfect purity. Pure and deep at the same time. With water: bad news for Caol Ila, no one will ever manage to further improve it, even with artificial intelligence. I mean, especially with A.I.. Finish: medium, clean, rather fruity, which makes even more, as we say in Alsatian, süffich (drinkable and moreish). Comments: it cannot be extra-complex at 12, but we’re extremely close to the 90-mark.
SGP:457 - 89 points.

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2020 (47.1%, Signatory Vintage, Small Batch Edition #7, refill hogsheads and refill sherry)

Caol Ila 9 yo 2010/2020 (47.1%, Signatory Vintage, Small Batch Edition #7, refill hogsheads and refill sherry) Four stars
A vatting of five casks done, I’d wager, for our good friends in Germany. I don’t think it’s to be seen on our side of the River Rhine. Colour: full gold. Nose: oh, a little ham, that must be the sherry! All the rest is classic Caol Ila, extremely well balanced, and probably a little closer to the official 12 or even CS than to the usual indie single casks. An indie OB, if you will. Nice medicinal and tarry touches. Mouth: it’s different this time, even unusual. I’m finding notes of rhum agricole, for example, ginger cookies, even figs, bananas flambéed… What’s really intriguing is that all that blends well with the distillate. After all, Ardbeg 1965 OB had been re-racked in rum too (and, S., what’s the point?) Don’t get me wrong, this baby hasn’t seen any rum, but I would say it’s got some rum notes. Oh well I know what I’m trying to say. Finish: rather long, with a little tarry ginger. The sherry again, I suppose. Comments: excellent and, after all, unusual, if a little ‘un-pure’ (oh come on). The price is very right too, apparently.
SGP:556 - 86 points.

Caol Ila 2008/2020 (53.1%, The Whisky Jury, bourbon hogshead, cask #twj-Ci02, 280 bottles)

Caol Ila 2008/2020 (53.1%, The Whisky Jury, bourbon hogshead, cask #twj-Ci02, 280 bottles) Five stars
If our friends ever need someone who would do cask numbers that do not sound like the names of Star Wars droids, I’m their man. Colour: straw. Nose: yay brake fluid and mown lawn upfront, then sunflower oil and green bananas. And then the expected oysters, lemons, seaweed and ashes. Yay. With water: more bread, smoky husk, green almonds, putty… That’s always very nice. Mouth (neat): a sweeter one indeed, with a few rooty notes too (gentian), more green bananas, limoncello, seawater, grass smoke. With water: herbs and saps coming in, that’s a treat too. Oils and waxes too. How old is this one? Wait, 2020 minus 2008, that’s well 25! Finish: long, firm, drier, and really very salty. This feeling of having swallowed seawater. Comments: the most complex and ‘mature’ this far. Doesn’t feel twelve or eleven, neither does it feel ‘botoxed with oak’. Well done jury.
SGP:557 - 90 points.

Let’s see if they could do the trick with even younger CI…

Caol Ila 6 yo 2013/2020 (61.8%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, The War of The Peat, charred wine hogshead, cask #325551, 275 bottles)

Caol Ila 6 yo 2013/2020 (61.8%, Signatory Vintage for Whic, The War of The Peat, charred wine hogshead, cask #325551, 275 bottles) Three stars
A charred wine hogshead? Is that STR?  I’m totally ready to keep an open mind (I’ll keep an open mind, I’ll keep an open mind, I’ll keep an open mind…) but to me, that sounds like a Ford Fiesta Diesel Turbo-look with a few extra-decals and a 1000-watt Bang & Olufsen stereo spilling out some Jay-Z. Or something like that. But we’ll keep an open mind (I’ll keep an open mind, I’ll keep an open mind, I’ll keep an open mind…) … Colour: gold. Nose: now to get Jay-Z out of my head… I am finding some charred wood indeed, some green bananas, some fresh butter and mashed potatoes, touches of ginger and nutmeg… And not much Caol-Ilaness so far. But almost 62% vol., remember…  With water: shall we call this elementary? Probably not a whisky to nose – not that it’s got any flaws mind you, it’s just, well, elementary. Mouth (neat): urgh! Hot and spicy, oaky. Quick, with water: potable stuff now, with a feeling of oak-aged limoncello. Goodish. Finish: medium, lemony and briny, in short more CI. Saltier aftertaste. Comments: it’s like if th distillate spent the while session trying to come back to light. It succeeded. Seriously, rather good stuff, just wondering if this kind of young doped whisky will ever save the world. I mean, the whisky world. Crazy Signatory.
SGP:546 - 82 points.

I don’t believe you can do many of these in a row, so see you tomorrow. Hopefully…

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

 

September 19, 2020


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our Scottish correspondent
and skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Edinburgh
Angus  
A mixed bag of Highlanders
Not really sure there’s much sense to this session. The notion of ‘Highland’ is even tenuous at best for some of today’s drams. For example I’m sure a number of Scot’s would refute Loch Lomond’s position as ‘Highland’. Not that these old regional demarcations really matter anymore I would say, beyond a basic usefulness of purely geographical categorisation.

 

Although, I will always hold dear the rather powerful and unashamedly romantic notion of ‘Highland’ malt whisky. In the evocative sense with the imagery and memory it conjures, but also in my own personal flavour category that I define as full-bodied, textural, oily, mineral and rather waxy style whiskies. A style which is pretty scarce these days. Anyway, more often than not we take the A9 north when heading to the highlands, so let’s stop at Blair Athol first of all…

 

 

Blair Athol 13 yo 2005/2019 (57.3%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #3657A, PX Octave, 65 bottles)

Blair Athol 13 yo 2005/2019 (57.3%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #3657A, PX Octave, 65 bottles)
Colour: orangey gold. Nose: rather shy to begin, some notes of bracken, ferns and canvass. Wee touches of graphite oil and spicy orange cocktail bitters too. But generally it feels a little closed, let’s proceed with water… With water: still rather quiet, some sultana, cooking apples mid bake, a little golden syrup and wee earthiness. Mouth: PX indeed, with lots of cupboard spices, clove studded orange peel, varnished hardwoods, pine resin, pencil shavings and oily toolbox rags - verging on hessian. Some bitter herbs too. It’s a very modern style but clean and well executed. With water: at its best now I would say, a very juicy spiciness, richer notes of freshly baked bread chunks dipped in olive oil, spice mix like Dukkah, salted almonds and various glazed pastries. A wee tension between sweet and salty which works well. Finish: medium, still prickling with spices, cinnamon, cloves, cumin and paprika. A little treacle and some bitter blood orange. Comments: Everything was kind of quietly tiptoeing along until the diluted palate really took off. I would say skip straight to the pipette for this one…
SGP: 561 - 84 points.

 

 

Blair Athol 21 yo ‘Batch 5’ (51.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company)

Blair Athol 21 yo ‘Batch 5’ (51.5%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company)
Colour: gold. Nose: another one that feels rather slow and shy, only here it unfolds very gently towards pollens and runny honey. Heather flowers, tea biscuits, geraniums and potting shed earthiness. All very easy and enjoyable. With water:  greener, wet leaves, moss, crisp green apple, gooseberry and a touch of menthol tobacco. Mouth: dried than expected but in a nice way that’s rather nervous and lean, lots of peppery warmth, light spices, ginger biscuits, nutmeg, vanilla sponge and some light herbal teas. With water: a firmer palate now, richer, lots of fresh breads, wee medical touches, fir wood, bitter herbs, grassy olive oil and nettle tea. Finish: good length, nicely bitter, green bitter herbs, bouillon, strong green tea and bitter lemon. Comments: Perhaps a notch too bitter in the finish but this is otherwise a very fine and sippable drop of Blair Athol. Hard to imagine any whisky aficionado being against this kind of profile.
SGP: 461 - 85 points.

 

 

Blair Athol 20 yo 1995/2016 (51.8%, Douglas McGibbon for The Whisky Vault, cask #11163, sherry butt, 180 bottles)

Blair Athol 20 yo 1995/2016 (51.8%, Douglas McGibbon for The Whisky Vault, cask #11163, sherry butt, 180 bottles)
Douglas McGibbon is a subsidiary of Douglas Laing. At least, it used to be, I have lost track of which Laing owns which thing nowadays. Colour: light amber. Nose: a generous style of sherry that’s laden with caramel, soft toffee chews, milk chocolate and golden syrup. Also things like freshly baked banana bread, pecan pie, toffee apple - this will certainly appeal if you have a sweet tooth (or nostril). Given time some lighter earthier and tobacco tones come through which adds a necessary balance. With water: cocoa nibs, mocha, generally slightly drier but still rather chocolatey. A few pollens and honeycomb now too. Mouth: surprisingly robust and punchy. Smoked chipotle, dark chocolate sauce, mole and paprika. Almost like some kind of smoky Mexican hot sauce in some ways. Also a damp dunnage earthiness, hessian sackcloth and things like miso and soy sauce. Quite a gear shift from the nose. With water: still rather warm and punchy with this smoked chilli vibe. Black coffee, herbal bitters, coal scuttle dust and ink. Some black pepper too. Finish: long, peppery, full of warm chilli, smoked paprika, hessian and espresso. Comments: A whisky of two halves, which in some ways makes it slightly imbalanced, but the overall effect is very fun and both parts are excellent in their own right.
SGP: 572 - 86 points.

 

 

Blair Athol 22 yo 1995/2018 (57.7%, The First Editions, cask #14656, sherry butt, 234 bottles)

Blair Athol 22 yo 1995/2018 (57.7%, The First Editions, cask #14656, sherry butt, 234 bottles)
This one is coming from Hunter Laing, so probably a similar or sibling parcel of casks originally. Colour: deep gold. Nose: similar focus on sweetness, but here it’s rather more along the lines of tinned fruits in syrup. Apricots, peaches, nectarines etc. Also yellow plums, lychee and some simple marmalade along with a little stem ginger in syrup. With water: fruity muesli, dried apricots and brown bread with a scraping of Nutella. Mouth: again pretty big on arrival and still some ideas of smoky red chillies and paprika, but it’s a tad more cohesive and balanced her. I also get stewed dark fruits, bitter chocolate, black coffee and some rather strong porter beer. Rye bread and banana chips in trail mix. With water: indeed, spicy, bready, drying, earthy, peppery, nicely bitter and slightly sooty. Really quite a ‘big’ whisky. Finish: long, leathery, lots of game and vegetable broths, herbal infusions, cocktail bitters, black pepper, cocoa and miso. Comments: Gets increasingly complex and quite assertive this one. The extra balance on display gives it the edge in my book, a very classy kind of sherry.
SGP: 562 - 88 points.

 

 

Over the other side of the country to Loch Lomond and all the weird and crazy stuff they concoct.

 

 

Loch Lomond 13 yo 2006/2019 (56.8%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, cask #196, refill bourbon, 266 bottles)

Loch Lomond 13 yo 2006/2019 (56.8%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, cask #196, refill bourbon, 266 bottles)
Colour: white wine. Nose: a peated one! Bags of crushed aspirin, wet plaster, a kind of ‘damp’ smokiness, sooty chimneys, steel wool and carbolic acidity - like peaty wash. There’s also lemon juice, hessian and umami. With water: clear and vividly smoky, clean, ashy, briny and citric. Mouth: nicely sooty and smoky, the impression of freshly kilned malt and warm, smoky grist. Natural tar, herbal cough medicines, iodine drops and squid ink with a splash of soy sauce. Unusual there’s no denying, but they it wouldn’t be Loch Lomond… With water: rather fermentary in style now, like some kind of peated sourdough starter drizzled with lemon juice, Gueuze beer, tart acidity and a rather petrolic, gravely minerality. Finish: long, tarry, sharply citric, sooty, peaty and still rather focussed on the raw ingredients. Comments: Very good and pretty left-field peated whisky. Some parts remain a little too unlikely for my tastes but it’s probably quite a fun session dram with pals.
SGP: 467 - 83 points.

 

 

Inchmoan 12 yo 2007/2019 (54.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, cask #96,    refill hogshead, 289 bottles)

Inchmoan 12 yo 2007/2019 (54.9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 20th Anniversary, cask #96,    refill hogshead, 289 bottles)
Another peaty make from the world’s wackiest still room… Colour: pale straw. Nose: a gentler smoke but also richer and more directly farmyard in style. Peppery, sooty, chalky, lightly medical with an olive oil like fatness about it. With water: sandalwood, camphor, sheep wool and aniseed. Probably a little straighter and more classical once diluted. Mouth: oily peat, smoked peppered mackerel, smoked oatmeal, game meats and herbal toothpaste - also rather unusual to say the least. Some kind of peated limoncello mixed with pumpkinseed oil and marzipan! With water: that kind of carbolic acidity again, coal tar soap, lanolin, miso, liquid smoke, antiseptic and preserved lemons. Finish: long and on medicines, wood embers, salted liquorice and hessian. Comments: I like this one a little more than the Loch Lomond, but it still has something ‘unusual’ about it.
SGP: 466 - 84 points.

 

 

Inchfad 14 yo 2005/2019 (57.2%, C Dully Selection, cask #408, bourbon hogshead, 142 bottles)

Inchfad 14 yo 2005/2019 (57.2%, C Dully Selection, cask #408, bourbon hogshead, 142 bottles)
142 bottles officially for the Swiss Army I hear, so about two bottles each ;) Colour: light gold. Nose: it’s a similar ballpark of things like damp canvass, slightly greasy smoke, coal tar soap, aspirin, mineral oil and sheep wool. Although, weirdly enough as Inchfad is supposed to be one of the fully peated makes, the overall peat level feels a tad shier. With water: softer, spicier, more peppery notes, watercress, charcoal, Barbour grease, wintergreen and vapour rubs. Mouth: metal polish, olive oil, white pepper, leathery smoke and some kind of brine and tar combo. With water: sootier, leafier with these slightly mulchy, earthy notes, then salted liquorice, dry roast peanuts and ink. Finish: medium and rather ashy, along with some chalky medicinal aspects like crushed aspirin and salty porridge. Comments: This is all very fine, but I feel these Loch Lomond peated makes are a little too obscure and challenging, maybe you could call them ‘intellectual’. I think their more opulent and fruity distillates like Inchmurrin are generally more easy to get on with.
SGP: 465 - 84 points.

 

 

Inchfad 14 yo 2005/2019 (57.1%, C Dully Selection, casks #408, 411, 412, bourbon hogsheads, 142 bottles)

Inchfad 14 yo 2005/2019 (57.1%, C Dully Selection, casks #408, 411, 412, bourbon hogsheads, 142 bottles)
I assume these must be parcels of stock from these casks rather than whole hogsheads to reach this low outturn of bottles? Unless the casks themselves were rather leaky? As with most of the world’s great mysteries: the answer lies in Switzerland! Colour: bright straw. Nose: a little fresher and more ‘bucolic’ with these notes of bailed hay, meadow flowers, grass and a rather fragrant and leafy bonfire smokiness. Also the usual notes of chalk, canvass and coal dust (a theme is emerging with these peated LL makes I feel). There’s a light dressing of salinity over the whole thing that feels very fresh. With water: again these funny notes of carbon paper, ink, printer toner, vase water and cooking oils, but globally still a little more farmy and ‘full’. Mouth: something about this wee ménage à trois has worked here I think, there’s a nice richness, a more emphatic olive oil vibe and a wee thread of salty honey running throughout keeping balance. Still rather salty with notes of umami paste and black olives in brine. With water: cooking oils, camphor, cod liver oil, paraffin - very mechanical and even slightly industrial in style. Also some lemony touches emerging as well as bandages and gauze. Finish: long and with a funny notes of coffee porter and things like smoky bacon, pickled onion crisps and brine. Comments: It’s rather like if Monty Python had owned a distillery… This one is still a bit off the beaten track, but it’s a slightly classier and wittier journey than the others.
SGP: 475 - 86 points.

 

 

These Loch Lomond peaters are a little tiring I have to say. I have some good feelings about this final wee trio though…

 

 

Secret Highland 31 yo 1987/2019 (49.6%, Whisky Nerds, cask #27, hogshead, 167 bottles)

Secret Highland 31 yo 1987/2019 (49.6%, Whisky Nerds, cask #27, hogshead, 167 bottles)
There seems to be an ever growing number of these ‘nameless’ malts emerging these days, it’s a shame that many are very good and yet too ‘brand insecure’ to reveal their origins. Although, of course there can be other reasons too… Colour: deep gold. Nose: beautiful! A dense and thick aroma of tinned fruit syrups: apricot, peach and guava. Also dried fruits and mixed fruit teas with these wee threads of tannin. Quince, orange oils, melon, nectarine and wee notes of precious hardwoods and their resins. Mouth: a little more drying and focussed than the nose, more on tannic fruit teas, wood extracts, dried mint, old shilling ales, miso and malt extract. Rather beery and rich in fact with some nice spicy rye bread notes. Finish: good length, earthy, spicy, richly bready, more teas such as Darjeeling and Earl Grey and some mead. Comments: The nose was easily 90 material but I think the palate wasn’t quite as impressive. Quality is still very high though, a nourishing and extremely satisfying dram. Couldn’t tell you anything about the distillery though.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.

 

 

Secret Highland 36 yo 1983/2019 (46.9%, The Good Spirits & Soundwave, cask #7753, hogshead, 80 bottles)

Secret Highland 36 yo 1983/2019 (46.9%, The Good Spirits & Soundwave, cask #7753, hogshead, 80 bottles)
Love the label for this one! We do seem to be living through a golden age for imaginative indy labels - especially those from Asia. Colour: gold. Nose: a beehive! Soft acacia honey, brown bread, gentle waxiness, some rich cereal tones, canvas, lanolin, miso… extremely elegant and enticing with a nice green fruitiness about it. Mouth: hey hey! Beautiful old school! This really does feel ‘highland’ in the best sense to me, all this dusty waxiness, slightly industrial mineral oil profile, metal polish, bouillon stock, gentle ointments and old school medicines, dried herbs and very gentle touches of dry peat smoke. Wonderfully resinous, rich, textural and nicely waxy. Finish: good length, focussed on beeswax polish, metal polish, light sootiness, citrus jam and ointments. Comments: Rather simple but beautifully structured and I loved the inversion where the palate was even better than the nose, which is rare at this age. I’ve heard whispers that these casks could be Clynelish but I wouldn’t be too sure if I’m honest.
SGP: 562 - 90 points.

 

 

 

 

September 17, 2020


Whiskyfun

A wee basket of natural Longmorn

Angus was having some Longmorns the other Saturday and I found his notes pretty intriguing. That’s as good as any other excuse for having a few at Whiskyfun headquarters as well…

Longmorn 17 yo 2002/2020 (56.2%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, cask #800638, bourbon barrel, 229 bottles)

Longmorn 17 yo 2002/2020 (56.2%, Signatory Vintage for The Whisky Exchange, cask #800638, bourbon barrel, 229 bottles) Four stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: this is fully Longmorn au naturel, so rather all on orchard fruits, with a wee greasy chalkiness in the background. Granny smith, green pears, gooseberries, greengages, perhaps a little lemon and a spoonful of porridge. With water: grist and simply barley. Mouth (neat): thick, oily, almost creamy and very fruity, with a full sack of wine gums, jelly babies, fruit loops, muesli, all that covered with a sweeter kind of vegetal oil and a little olive oil. With water: doesn’t change a lot, except that it would get a little more citrusy, with fewer candy-like flavours. Finish: medium, fruity, with a good barley-y structure. Comments: it is not, perhaps, very ‘idiosyncratic’ (why do I keep using this stupid word?) but I think it just delivers.
SGP:651 - 86 points.

Longmorn 21 yo 1994/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11334, 265 bottles)

Longmorn 21 yo 1994/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask #11334, 265 bottles) Three stars
Colour: light gold. Nose: rather similar but with some menthol, aniseed, and even eucalyptus, as well as touches of hand cream, scented soap (rose petals) and dry cider. With water: wax and green apples, and no mentholy notes anymore. Mouth (neat): much simpler, grassier, on apple peel and green plums. With water: similar, no further development. Finish: medium, rather simple. Apple juice. Comments: not too mindboggling but still fine. Another one that’s not very ‘idiosyncratic’.
SGP:451 - 80 points.

In general, I believe proper sherry does much good to these batches. Or older age, naturally, let’s opt for the latter…

Longmorn 36 yo 1975/2011 (50.6%, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 163 bottles)

Longmorn 36 yo 1975/2011 (50.6%, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 163 bottles) Five stars
A wee glory that I had kept for future enjoyment and I say now’s the time, Charlie. Colour: gold. Nose: another galaxy, full of pink grapefruits, mangos, mead, apricots, petit manseng and bergamots. Superb and luminous. With water: clay, chalk, chlorophyl, cut grass, fruit peel, earl grey. Luminous and superb. Mouth (neat): how perfect indeed, this is a perfect age that needs no flavouring and no make-up. Nectarines, mint leaves, ripe peaches, bits of bananas, acacia honey, honeysuckle and just a touch of cinchona and pepper. It is 36, after all. With water: game, set and match. Beeswax joining the dance, which just always works in my book. Finish: medium, on that famous ‘honeyed fruit salad’ that’s typical of these old unsherried Longmorns. Comments: these batches have always been flying pretty high but sadly, the breed seems to be extinct.
SGP:651 - 91 points.

Longmorn 1975/2015 (46.7%, Malts of Scotland, Warehouse Diamond, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 15065, 196 bottles)

Longmorn 1975/2015 (46.7%, Malts of Scotland, Warehouse Diamond, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 15065, 196 bottles) Five stars
Another one that we had kept for harsher times, no need to tell you that there’s certain hope here… Colour: gold. Nose: I cannot not think of an old high-class wine from Jurançon, such as and early vintage of Dagueneau’s Jardins de Babylone. Deeply sorry if that doesn’t ring any bell but in fact, it is the same idea as that petit manseng grape that we had found in the Perfect Dram. So, apricots and peaches, touch of muscat, hint of roses, drop of litchi juice, mountain honey, sultanas, beeswax… It is rather extraordinary, would you mind calling the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade before it’s too late? With water: chalk! Mouth (neat): brilliant and cakier, more on butterscotch and roasted raisins than the PD. Tokaji Eszencia. With water (not that water’s needed): fresher fruits, peaches, bananas, whatnot. Absolutely perfect. I was about to forget to mention quinces. Finish: long and amazingly fresh, complex, fruity and honeyed. Touches of resins and balms in the aftertaste – after all this one is 40. And perhaps even some ‘botrytis’. Comments: holy featherless crow! These malts are often split into periods, like say at Bowmore, or Laphroaig, or yeah, Picasso. 1965-1975 would be the rose period at Longmorn, one of the most prestigious, while earlier, 1950-early 1960 vintages were rather ‘blue’. Yeah I agree, not all analogies work.
SGP:651 - 92 points.

(Thank you Max!)

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

 

September 16, 2020


Whiskyfun

Total opposites, a wee bag of Ord

Superb distillate at Ord, not to forget the old Saladin box that made so much high-quality peated malt in the 1960s for many an old glory. Brora and Talisker, anyone? And of course for Glenordie/Glen Ord/Ord.

Ord 10 yo 2008/2018 (57.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 534 bottles)

Ord 10 yo 2008/2018 (57.7%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 534 bottles) Three stars
From two hogsheads. We’re expecting this to be extremely pure and yet a little fat, let’s see… Fully distillate-driven in any case. Colour: white wine. Nose: oh yes, oils and greases, beeswax, lemongrass, wild asparagus, beetroots, a tiny touch of dill… With water: much more branche-y, grassy, rooty, we’re even bordering gentian spirit. Mouth (neat): pure, big, rather thick, with notes of fruity hops, nectarines, a drop of sesame oil, all-flower honey, touches of wine gums, leaves and buds making it drier and leafier… At times it reminds me of white wine brandy (blanche d’armagnac). With water: a little candy sugar, crystallised angelica and pears… Finish : a little more indistinct, as if the sucrosity took over a wee bit. Pear liqueur. Comments: the palate is a little sugary, but the dram is extremely fine.
SGP:651 - 81 points.

Ord 10 yo 2008/2018 (58.3%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 264 bottles) Three stars
Colour: white wine. Nose: extremely similar, just a tad less fruity, and perhaps a notch earthier and leafier. Peach leaves. With water: no, both whiskies are almost identical. Mouth (neat): really rich and fat, with notes of cappuccino beyond the pear jam and honeyed brandy-like flavours that we had already found in the Small Batch. With water: this thickish sweetness yet again. Demerara syrup, agave juice, fruit jellies… Finish: rather long and really sweet. Comments: some of the sweetest whiskies I’ve tried this year. The core remains pretty superb, it’s just a bit ‘buried’.
SGP: 751 - 81 points.

Let’s try again with another year…

Ord 13 yo 2006/2019 (53.3%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 588 bottles)

Ord 13 yo 2006/2019 (53.3%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 588 bottles) Three stars
A vatting of one bourbon HHD and one Madeira HHD (that casks was a 2-year finishing in Madeira). Sounds funny but let’s remain cautious, Madeira may work extremely well from time to time. Colour: white wine. Nose: walnuts, curry, sweet mustard and cigar smoke? That’s Madeira in my book.  Old cellar, old barrels and saltpetre as well. With water: menthol cigarettes. Mouth (neat): nice combo, creating something a little more mentholy than usual. Sweet mustard and honey sauce? Or what we call sauce “à la diable”? With water: I can see how the Madeira cask kind of balanced the huge sweetness of this make, but it remains a very sweet, pretty syrupy malt whisky. Finish: rather long, with wee earthy and rooty touches, this time from the Madeira indeed (I suppose). Green peppercorn in the aftertaste. Comments: I would keep the same score.
SGP:661 - 81 points

Let’s leave Campbeltown and fly to… Taiwan, with three very young little octaves that we’ll have upon ascending strengths (we all need order, you understand)… Most probably an integral change of style...

Glen Ord 2015/2020 (60.9%, Or Sileis, Joey Taiwan, refill PX octave, cask #287B, 73 bottles)

Glen Ord 2015/2020 (60.9%, Or Sileis, Joey Taiwan, refill PX octave, cask #287B, 73 bottles) Four stars and a half
Refill, that’s good news. Colour: gold. Nose: totally modern style but as often, that works, with some sweet oak everywhere and a moderate amount of raisins from the PX. Other than that, a lot of butterscotch, ‘of course’. With water: touches of menthol and pine resins, plus wee whiffs of iron, old coins, copper pot… Mouth (neat): classic modern STR-style rich and coating malt, well made and reminiscent of café latte and indeed, butterscotch. With water: passion fruits and bananas joining in, for the even better. Modern recipe for modern young malt whisky, done with taste and smartness. Even if you’re not too fond of the concept, you cannot not agree that this is excellent whisky. Finish: long, sweeter, yet balanced and with good earth and sweet spices. Comments: fast whisky as in fast food? Perhaps, but this is so much better than a Big Mac, IMHO. Even dietarily. Kudos.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

Glen Ord 2015/2020 ‘Archer’ (60.9%, Or Sileis, Joey Taiwan, refill oloroso octave, cask #287C, 51 bottles)

Glen Ord 2015/2020 ‘Archer’ (60.9%, Or Sileis, Joey Taiwan, refill oloroso octave, cask #287C, 51 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: deep gold. Nose: drier, as it should be given that this is oloroso, more on walnuts, cigars, earths, soy sauce, lovage, balsamico, coffee liqueur, touch of wood smoke, chocolate… We’re actually in similar styles as those bloodtubs that Bruichladdich had done around ten years ago. What, you say that’s fifteen years? How time flows… With water: and water works a treat, at that. Fresh herbs, meadows after the rain… Mouth (neat): reeks of smartness. All on coffee this time, which I just adore. Muscovado sugar too, Seville oranges, tiny bits of cloves and caraway, a drop of molasse, a hint of strawberry jam (really), perhaps pear jam… With water: orange marmalade and a little pink pepper. Finish: long, drier, earthier, which is just what’s needed. Comments: what’s troubling at this extremely young age is the complexity that they achieved. I kind of hate it that I like this rather a lot, really. A Pressure Cooker Award for sure.
SGP:561 - 89 points.

Glen Ord 2015/2020 ‘Ninja’ (61.5%, Or Sileis, Joey Taiwan, refill oloroso octave, cask #287A, 71 bottles)

Glen Ord 2015/2020 ‘Ninja’ (61.5%, Or Sileis, Joey Taiwan, refill oloroso octave, cask #287A, 71 bottles) Four stars and a half
Do they really have ninjas in Taiwan? Seriously, what I always found funny was that our friends in Asia would use their own imagery on their Scotch whisky labels, rather than stags, thistle, tartan, claymores and funny birds with long beaks, as we usually do in Europe. Not sure I would ever use bretzels, sauerkraut, baguettes, berets or storks myself, but there, isn’t it all very charming (as long as they’re not trying to make us believe that any putrid imported rotgut is Yamazaki or Karuizawa)? So, this little ninja… Colour: gold. Nose: completely different, much softer, cleaner, without any big bold sherryness, rather sunflower oil, brioche, shortbread, nougat, vanilla… Hold on, oloroso, really? With water: vanilla paste impregnated with mango and maracuja. More or less. Mouth (neat): oh very good, on a blend of pepper liqueur, coffee, turmeric, walnuts, citrons and lemongrass. This one too oozes of smartness, I’m afraid. And perhaps of Kavalan, if I may. Sweet Dr Swan! With water: sweet oak spices, patchouli, lemon, a little ginger… Finish: long, perhaps a tad drying now. The oak feels a little more, but that’s nothing. Comments: as long as you don’t ask me if Glen Ord is recognizable, I’m happy. So, please don’t.
SGP:661 - 88 points.

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

 

September 15, 2020


Whiskyfun

Simply a bag of grains

Sure this is a little pre-annoying, but you never know, a very good cask could make some grain proper, err, bourbon. Please don’t shoot!… 

Kirin Fuji (46%, OB, Japan, single grain, +/-2019)

Kirin Fuji (46%, OB, Japan, single grain, +/-2019) Three stars
This rather new little baby is made at Fuji Gotemba Distillery. We had tried quite a few grains by Kirin last year, Fuji Gotemba’s ‘Single Grain Distiller’s Select’ at 52% vol. and Kirin 25 yo ‘Single Grain Small Batch’ having been my favourites (WF 84 and 88 respectively). Mind you, they had defeated quite some malts by Fuji/Kirin. Colour: gold. Nose: it is grain with some Japanness, that is to say this kind of herbal, slightly incense-y style that’s not often to be found in Scotland. Warm bread, orange blossom water, brioche, roasted pecans and cashews, quite a lot of marzipan, wee touches of menthol (embrocations)… Above everything, no excessive:
- varnish
- vanilla
- coconut.
And so we’re happy…
Mouth: a different story, as this is very sweet, on coconut balls, wine gums, liquorice allsorts, candyfloss and just a handful of thin mints. IT’s not unpleasant at all, quite the opposite, but not exactly up my alley because of all this sweetness sitting on a rather thin base. After all, this is gran whisky. Now the wood was first class, which rather saves it. Finish: very short and very sweet. Sawdust in the end. Comments: a cruel dilemma. Some sides are pretty lovely (the nose, the quality of the wood) but the body is a little frustrating to this malt aficionado. Still worth a solid score in my book.
SGP:631 - 80 points.

Let’s have fun…

Girvan 9 yo 2009/2019 (61.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, Pinot Noir finish, 294 bottles)

Girvan 9 yo 2009/2019 (61.4%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, Pinot Noir finish, 294 bottles) Three stars
What? Wie bitte? Colour: apricot. Nose: cassis and geranium leaves, cactus, fern, fir needles, no sweetness. A very curious baby… With water: pretty fine, rather on rosehip tea or eglantine, I would say. Mouth (neat): not a bad concoction, we’re pretty much in oak-aged grappa territories here. Blood oranges and raspberries, plus leaves. Not bad at all, in fact, I’m positively surprised (please don’t tell any of my whisky friends, okay?) With water: yes, this rather worked, even if we’re losing some brightness now, and are getting a little too leafy again. Cassis leaves, very pinot noir. Finish: medium, tea-ish, with touches of cherry stem tea, if not proper Burgundian cherries. Comments: so, absolutely not the utter disaster I was expecting. I mean, Girvan, nine years, and pinot noir. Come
on! SGP:641 - 80 points.

While we’re having young Girvan from strange casks…

Girvan 13 yo 2006/2020 (58%, Asta Morris, peated cask, cask #AM048, 126 bottles)

Girvan 13 yo 2006/2020 (58%, Asta Morris, peated cask, cask #AM048, 126 bottles)Three stars
Looks like this is ex-Ardmore (I would have thought Ailsa Bay)… Colour: straw. Nose: a smoky blend of some sort, perhaps old White Horse? Ashes, gravel, rye bread, coal, varnish… Not too sure at this point. With water: fine, some sunflower oil, roasted sesame oil, nougat and turon, halva… All that I rather like. Mouth (neat): surely funnier on the palate, with a feeling of deep-charred coconuts and smoked pineapples, then popcorn and muscovado sugar. With water: a little more fragile given the thinness of the spirit, but it looks like the peater prevented the rather slim grain from tumbling over. Finish: a little short, on barbecued marshmallows. Yep I’ve been a boy scout too. Comments: let’s not change scores, that these ‘scores’ are only for the record anyway.
SGP:742 - 80 points.

Another funny one…

Cameronbridge 21 yo 1997/2019 (54.7%, James Eadie, US exclusive, refill hogshead, cask #75794)

Cameronbridge 21 yo 1997/2019 (54.7%, James Eadie, US exclusive, refill hogshead, cask #75794) Two stars and a half
We’ve had a sister cask last year and thought it was a little raw. Now what’s so funny about this one, you may wonder? The fact that they manage to sell grain whisky to America, I believe that’s like selling fridges to the Eskimos; now you’re right, with global warming, they’ll soon need them too (S., what a stoopid intro that was!) Colour: straw. Nose: starts a little cologne-y, gets then more floral and on gooseberries and coconut, with a little vanilla and orange liqueur (triple-sec). Certainly not as raw as the sister cask as I remember it. With water: soft, with earthy touches, green bananas and agave leaves. Mouth (neat): creamy and rich, and indeed, pretty bourbony. Sugar syrup, vanilla, coconut, touch of lavender, biscuit…With water: same, more or less. A tad sugary, with notes of Starbucks’ café latte in the back, as often. Finish: short to medium, sweet. Comments: quite good if a little boring, just pretty far from all the excellent malts they’re having at J.E. I suppose I’ll never really be a grain guy.
SGP:630 - 78 points.

What was that again? Ah yes, Cameronbridge…

Cameronbridge 29 yo 1989/2019 (57.8%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 432 bottles)

Cameronbridge 29 yo 1989/2019 (57.8%, Cadenhead, Small Batch, 432 bottles) Three stars
From two bourbon hogsheads. Don’t deluxe old blends sell these days? Colour: gold. Nose: soft cakes, mirabelle jam, coconut, shortbread, preserved greengages, touches of ripe bananas. All right then. With water: syrup. Keep away from kids! Mouth (neat): frankly, it’s good juice, it’s fruity, technically sound, it goes down extremely well, it’s got the right amount of liqueurness, a lot of melon syrup, in short it’s absolutely flawless. With water: flawless indeed, but a notch empty. Grains, however great, rather belong to blends in my book, but as a grain, it’s pretty perfect. Finish: short and sweet. Indeed. Comments: indeed.
SGP:730 - 80 points.

Cameronbridge 30 yo 1989/2019 (57.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 222 bottles)

Cameronbridge 30 yo 1989/2019 (57.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 222 bottles) Three stars
Colour: gold. Nose: same whisky. With water: same. Mouth (neat): almost the same whisky. Perhaps an earthy touch and a little more coffee? With water: same. Finish: same. Perhaps a wee tad more sour, as in sourer fruits. Comments: good production standards. Grain whiskies are like the buns in a hamburger, you’d happily taste the meat alone, but you’d never have just the buns ‘like that’, would you? I know, but I’m trying my best, remember I’m in the midst of a grain session…
SGP:730 - 80 points.

Older, perhaps?...

Cameronbridge 38 yo 1982/2020 (48.6%, Liquid Treasures for eSpirits, bourbon barrel, cask #8287, 140 bottles)

Cameronbridge 38 yo 1982/2020 (48.6%, Liquid Treasures for eSpirits, bourbon barrel, cask #8287, 140 bottles) Four stars
1982, that’s Kim Wilde, no? These labels are always very beautiful by the way (nothing to do with Kim Wilde)… Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a little straighter, a little more on vegetables and vegetal oils, sunflower, all-grain oil, pine nuts, with touches of pils beer and hints of bananas. Mouth: grain needs almost forty years, this is more proof. Lovely tropical fruit salad and syrups, apricots, honey, touch of mint and camphor, notes of raisins, and even a tiny cognac-like flavour. Different league. Finish: medium, sweeter, going towards honest Latino rum. Comments: I liked this one rather a lot, it gained complexity over the years.
SGP:730 - 85 points.

Good, let’s have two even older Invergordons to see if we could reach the 90-mark, and then call this a session.

Invergordon 45 yo 1974/2019 (45%, The Vintage Malt Whisky Co. for Hot Malt Taiwan, bourbon barrel, cask #30, 228 bottles)

Invergordon 45 yo 1974/2019 (45%, The Vintage Malt Whisky Co. for Hot Malt Taiwan, bourbon barrel, cask #30, 228 bottles) Four stars and a half
At 45 years of age, grain whisky may start to talk… Colour: gold. Nose: exactly, it’s when wee mentholy, camphory, and herbal notes starts to appear that these whiskies, unless beautifully sherried, which is not the case here, start to show class and distinction. I’m finding superb notes of fresh peaches, for example, and ‘moderate’ mangos. Some artisan nougat too, a little parfait amour, curaçao… Mouth: very good, on many herbs. Melissa, borage, dill, orange blossom, high-end green tea, proper earl grey too, white wine from the south-west of France (Jurançon, Irouléguy, just been there, they’re making great progress…) Finish: still a bit short, but with some touches of mocha that are working extremely well. Orange. I’m finding almond croissants in the aftertaste, but that’s probably a little ‘pushed’. Comments: impressive old grain whisky, with a flabbergasting freshness.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Last try…

Invergordon 44 yo 1973/2017 (51.1%, Sansibar for Whiskyklubben Slainte, 275 bottles)

Invergordon 44 yo 1973/2017 (51.1%, Sansibar for Whiskyklubben Slainte, 275 bottles) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a little more sugary again, rather less ‘mature’ (at 44!) but that may be the higher strength. Garden peat, almonds, cigarettes, vetiver… Not too sure. With water: some mineral touches, quite uncommon in grains, Vicks VapoRub (more common in old wood)… Mouth (neat): there’s a little wood smoke at first, cigarettes indeed (say untipped Craven A but I’ve lost all my references since I’ve stopped smoking, a good twelve years ago), or there, these sweetened slim brown cigarettes, the name escapes me. Chestnut purée for sure. With water: it doesn’t really like water, gets a little disjointed. Finish: medium, earthier. Crushed almonds. Comments: it’s very hard to get the water right as the whisky’s rather fragile. Very fine old grain nonetheless, but not 90-material at all in my book.
SGP:551 - 86 points.

Okay, a last go at Cameronbridge, for glory…

Cameronbridge 33 yo 1984/2017 (55.8%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, cask #19281, 230 bottles)

Cameronbridge 33 yo 1984/2017 (55.8%, Wilson & Morgan, Barrel Selection, cask #19281, 230 bottles) Three stars and a half
Colour: deep gold. Nose: the barrel’s been pretty active here, we’ve got a lot of cakes and jams, praline, plums, rums, slivovitz, zwetschke, fudge, shortbread… Very fine, but it just wouldn’t go very deep this far. With water: Maker’s Mark. Mouth (neat): praline and pastries, with a rather rogue kind of oak where ginger and turmeric are starting to appear. We’re close to bourbon this time again, this is rather Pappy-like, I would say. It’s tremendous that it would be this Pappy-like, believe me, and the Pappy people are good people, very good people, they are best friends of mine. Whoops, please excuse me…  With water: vanilla galore, coconut, coffee liqueur, heather honey, rye, shortbread. Finish: short to medium, clean, with rather more butter cream and custard. Comments: firm and soft at the same time, and really very ‘bourbon’. Quality’s high, it’s clearly an upper-echelon pretty old grain whisky. Maybe just not extremely necessary.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

Cheers, stay tuned.

(Thank you Chris at Sushi+Soul, Lucero and other friends)

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


September 2020 - part 1 <--- September 2020 - part 2 ---> October 2020 - part 1


 

 

 

Best spirits Serge tried those weeks, 90+ points only

Aberlour 18 yo 2002/2020 (62.4%, OB, cask #2575, 263 bottles)

Caol Ila 30 yo 1989/2020 (42.4%, Hunter Laing, the Kinship, 532 bottles)

Caol Ila 2008/2020 (53.1%, The Whisky Jury, bourbon hogshead, cask #twj-Ci02, 280 bottles)

Longmorn 36 yo 1975/2011 (50.6%, The Perfect Dram, bourbon hogshead, 163 bottles)

Longmorn 1975/2015 (46.7%, Malts of Scotland, Warehouse Diamond, bourbon hogshead, cask #MoS 15065, 196 bottles)

Neisson 2014/2020 ‘V.S.O.P.’ (44%, OB, LMDW, Martinique, agricole, 900 bottles)

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 
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