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Tasting notes:
Whiskies 10,838
Others 751

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (35) - Aberlour (84)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (2
6)
An Cnoc (
20)
Ardbeg (3
43) - Ardmore (60)
Arran (6
9) - Auchentoshan (80)
Auchroisk (2
7) - Aultmore (32)
Balblair (63) - Balmenach (35)
Balvenie (
73) - Banff (43)
Ben Nevis (
93)
Ben Wyvis (
2)
Benriach (
141) - Benrinnes (43)
Benromach (
44) - Bladnoch (54)
Blair Athol (4
4) - Bowmore (398)
Braes of Glenlivet (
29)
Brora (
115)
Bruichladdich (2
17)
Bunnahabhain (
243)
Caol Ila (409)
Caperdonich (
81)
Cardhu (
31) - Clynelish (284)
Coleburn (
15)
Convalmore (1
8)
Cragganmore (
58)
Craigduff (3) - Craigellachie (
42)
Dailuaine (47) - Dallas Dhu (32)
Dalmore (87) - Dalwhinnie (19)
Deanston (22) - Dufftown (43)

Edradour (38)
Imperial (58) - Inchgower (44)
Inverleven (19)
Isle of Jura (90)

Kilchoman (20)
Kilkerran (
7) - Kinclaith (7)
Kininvie
(3)
- Knockando (
31)
Ladyburn (9) - Lagavulin (99)
Laphroaig (341) - Ledaig (73)
Linkwood (112) - Littlemill (85)
Loch Lomond (29)
Lochside (62)
Longmorn (172) - Longrow (57)

Macallan (240) - Macduff (51)
Mannochmore (2
5)
Millburn (
20)
Miltonduff (
53) - Mortlach (119)
Mosstowie (1
7)
Oban (23) - Octomore (10)
Old Fettercairn (28)
Old Pulteney (67)

Scapa (34) - Speyburn (25) - Speyside (16)
Springbank (22
7)
St-Magdalene (46)
Strathisla (80) - Strathmill (2
6)
 
 
Pete and Jack



2015
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
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2014
Music Awards
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November
1 - 2
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1 - 2
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2013
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
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1 - 2
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April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
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2012
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
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2011
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2010
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2009
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2008
Music Awards
December
1 - 2 - 3
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2007
Music Awards
December
1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September 1 - 2
August 1 - 2 - 3
July 1 - 2
June 1 - 2
Feis Ile
Special
May 1 - 2
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2006
Music Awards
December 1 - 2
November
1 - 2
October
1 - 2 - 3
September
1 - 2
August
1 - 2
July
1 - 2
June 1 - 2
Feis Ile
Special
May
1 - 2
April
1 - 2
March
1 - 2
February
1 - 2
January 1
- 2

2005
Music Awards
December 1 - 2
November 1 - 2
October
1- 2
September
1 - 2
August
1 - 2
July
1 - 2
June
1 - 2
Feis Ile
Special
May
1 - 2
April
1 - 2
March
1 - 2
February
1 - 2
January
1 - 2

2004
December 1 - 2
November 1 - 2
October
1 - 2
September
1
August
1
July
1
June
1
May
1
April 1
March 1
February
1
January
1

No archives for 2002-2003

 
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1969 - 1983

   


 

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Disclaimer
 

All the linked files (mp3, video, html) are located on free commercial or non-commercial third party websites. Some pictures are taken from these websites, and are believed to be free of rights, as long as no commercial use is intended.

I always try to write about artists who, I believe, deserve wider recognition, and all links to mp3 files are here to show you evidence of that. Please encourage the artists you like, by buying either their CDs or their downloadable 'legal' tracks.

I always add links to the artists' websites - if any - which should help you know more about their works. I also try to add a new link to any hosting website or weblog which helped me discover new music - check the column on the right.

I almost never upload any mp3 file on my own server, except when dealing with artists I personally know, and who gave me due authorizations, or sometimes when I feel a 'national' artist deserves wider recognition. In that case, the files will remain on-line only for a few days.

I do not encourage heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages, nor dangerous motorbike riding. But life is short anyway...

As they say here: 'L'abus d'alcool est dangeureux pour la santé - à consommer avec modération'

   
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Copyright Serge Valentin,
Nick Morgan,
Kate Kavanagh

2002-2015


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August 3, 2015


Whiskyfun

Four Imperial from 1997 to 1962

Imperial is – sorry, was – one of those distilleries not many people were caring for, until it got mothballed, and then demolished. The problem may be that just like with, say Benriach, the bottles you could buy twelve or twenty years ago were just so-so, and never managed to awake anybody’s senses or attention. I’m sure the blenders were to blame for that, they were probably using all the best casks! But let’s do a short, but deep little verticale of Imperial…

Imperial 19 yo 1995/2014 (46%, The Ultimate, hogshead, cask #50159, 312 bottles)

Imperial 19 yo 1995/2014 (46%, The Ultimate, hogshead, cask #50159, 312 bottles) Four stars Sourced from Signatory Vintage’s, I guess. These batches have always been quite lovable if I remember well. Colour: straw. Nose: a wee bit on the oaky side at first nosing, perhaps, with this feeling of banana skin, but the fresh maltiness and the grassy, humussy side start to make very, yes, lovable after just two minutes. Cider apples, waxed papers, greengages, a touch of chalk… Once again, Imperial wasn’t a ‘light’ Speysider. Mouth: excellent, really. A mentholy oak, apples, some liquorice, roots, a little pinesap perhaps, then a lot of grapefruits and limes… It’s tense and potent, and the strength is perfect. Finish: long, a little salty, vegetal, waxy… The aftertaste is greatly sour and bitter (cider apples and, well, plain artisan cider. Without sugar!) Comments: well as I remembered these batches. One of the most characterful Speysiders. SGP:452 - 87 points.

Imperial 13 yo 1997/2010 (52.4%, Reifferscheid, Romantic Rhine Collection, sherry octave, 71 bottles)

Imperial 13 yo 1997/2010 (52.4%, Reifferscheid, Romantic Rhine Collection, sherry octave, 71 bottles) Four stars Form one of these micro-bottlings, probably ex-Ducan Taylor. Colour: gold. Nose: the oak feels a bit. Carpenter’s workshop, cherry wood, lit cigarette… On the other hand, a nutty sherry is soon to come through and to make it much more enjoyable. Cigars, new upholstery, walnut cake (a bit burnt, I should add)… With water: swims like a champ, which doesn’t always happen with oaked whiskies. Tobacco and ‘good’ mud, pu-erh tea, humus… Mouth (neat): rich, orangey, candied and spicy. It’s some very spicy Christmas cake, rather German-style indeed. Or Alsatian… With water: a wee feeling of Haribo’s best for a while, then plenty of blood oranges and Seville ones. The oak does not get in the way. An Andalusian miracle! Finish: long, spicier. Caraway, cloves, ‘anis Bredele’… Christmas indeed. Comments: I know, we’re either very late or very early. SGP:561 - 85 points.

Imperial-Glenlivet 18 yo 1979/1997 (61.2%, Cadenhead, Bond Reserve)

Imperial-Glenlivet 18 yo 1979/1997 (61.2%, Cadenhead, Bond Reserve) Four stars Maybe one of those powerful monsters that Cadenhead were issuing at the time. Colour: straw. Nose: yeah, it’s one of those powerful monsters that Cadenhead were issuing at the time. No sweetness, no roundness, only flints, rocks, apple peelings, sour wood, plasticine, and sulphur. Plain sulphur, not burnt sulphur, that’s very different. With water: vegetables. Beans, perhaps, asparagus, artichokes, Greek yoghurt… How very ‘mid-1990s Cadenhead’s’! Mouth (neat): quite superb! The nose was almost unbreakable, but this is pure lemon juice. Yuzu sauce, concentrated cinchona, unripe lime… Takes your tongue hostage, in a way, but that’s most pleasant – no you don’t need to be a masochist to enjoy this palate-batterer of a whisky. With water:  truly superb, in its very own, very austere style. Petroly riesling. Finish: long, kind of fat, and yet fully mineral. Comments: seriously, the nose didn’t have much to show us, but boy was the palate talkative! Austere, but talkative… SGP:362 - 85 points.

Let’s have a last Imperial, and go further back in time. I’m very curious about this one…

Imperial 1963/1983 (92 US proof, Duthie for Corti for Narsai’s and Corti, Pellegrini Imports, 75cl)

Imperial 1963/1983 (92 US proof, Duthie for Corti for Narsai’s and Corti, Pellegrini Imports, 75cl) Five stars One of those famous Californian Cortis and Averys. Fun mention of the owners of the distillery on the label: Dailuaine-Talisker Distilleries Limited. Rings a bell… Colour: gold. Nose: oh, some aspects are close to those of the Bond Reserve, especially the sharp and very expressive notes of waxy vegetables. That would be some kind of bean stew made with olive oil and drops of lemon oil. There’s something metallic as well (our beloved old copper coins), and then a very complex combination of herbs and marrows, some kind of bouillon perhaps, parsley, cultured cream, olives, bone marrow quenelles… All those sorts of things. And quite some soot. How complex! It’s not whisky, it’s borscht. Mouth: totally exceptional. Not whisky that I should have tried in easy summer times, apologies. Where to start… Perhaps with precious leathers, all those herbs that we found in the nose, black tobacco, our beloved pu-erh tea, certainly some Spanish jabugo, some salt for sure – sorry, a saltiness -, salmiak, liquid tar, then the citrusy cavalry (won’t quote them all), old chartreuses, Izarras and Bénédictines (posh contemporary mixologists know them),  perhaps drops of Noilly and Fernet-Branca… And walnut wine, old amontillado, vin jaune… All that, all that. We could go on and on. Finish: sadly, yes. Walnuts, herbs, vegetables, waxes, oils, citrus, smoke… And all that. Comments: why the fate of Imperial Distillery has been so obscure and, lately, pretty final remains a mystery to me. Maybe we should ask the excellent people at Pernod’s again. SGP:463 - 95 points.

(and thank you Diego – you were damn right - and Max and Tom!)

 

 

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August 2, 2015


Whiskyfun

Malternatives on Sunday, extreme rums

Ha, rum. What we’ve found out after having tasted around 400 different rums, is that rum is no sure bet, and that the category’s just not an obvious and easy way out of the pretty embarrassing contemporary world of whisky. Because what many find NASty and deceptive in whisky, always happened in rum. Fake age, flavouring, aromatisation, dodgy provenances, marketing gone mad, counterfeit stories… Rum was there before whisky.

Don papa 10

Don Papa 10 yo (43%, OB, Philippines, +/-2015) Some highly controversial ‘rum’, loathed by purists, but marketed with supreme skills and methods - and a sublime and smart packaging. I’ve already tried this baby blind among fifteen other rums for some large Awards operation, and ranked it as… #16. Colour: mahogany. Nose: Cherry Heering, guignolet, caraway-flavoured aquavit, Cointreau and Grand-Marnier, pineapple liqueur… In short, everything but rum. But I know many a punter who’ll love this on ice. It’s bottled bubblegum, and I guess it should go well with Red Bull. Mouth: massively sugary and liquoricy. I doubt this is rum, and I even doubt it’s 10. It is some kind of liqueur, or at least spiced and flavoured rum. They should say so on the label if you ask me, imagine someone who bought some Foursquare or Hampden or Trois Rivières as his first rum, and then buys this. Or worse, a whisky lover who’d think ‘let’s try rum for a change’. You lose, please shoot again! Finish: very short. Not much beyond the sugar. Glycerine-y feeling. Comments: I had found the earlier NAS (which does NOT mean No Added Sugar – ha)  kind of acceptable because there was some kind of freshness to it, but this is just syrup. Not too bad as some kind of liqueur, but certainly not rum. Marketing (on the short run): 99 points. SGP:920 - 49 points.

Trois Rivières, he said…

Trois Rivières 'Triple Millésime' (42%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 2015)

Trois Rivières 'Triple Millésime' (42%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 2015) Three stars and a half A vatting of 1998, 2000 and 2007 vintages. I believe the Scots should be allowed to advertise that as well, as long as they add the proportions (you know, to avoid that famous drop of 50 years old that makes the whole ‘almost’ a 50 yo…) Colour: gold. Nose: nosing Brora 1972 after Bailey’s. Lovely dried bananas, toasted cake, tea, orange blossom, a bit of clay, some grass, liquorice, and, above all, what was missing the ‘the thing’, sugarcane! And gingerbread, a touch of cumin, crystallised ginger, yellow flowers… Mouth: the oak feels just a little bit, but other than that, there’s sufficient liquorice, mango chutney, cinnamon cake and various candied fruits and herbs (quinces, angelica) to make up for that. More than that. A little mint and eucalyptus as well. Very ‘agricole’ even if the palate feels a little thinner and less complex than the nose. Finish: good length, with a little salt, dill, and liquorice. Comments: very, very fine rhum for a rather fair price (around 40€). SGP:651 - 84 points.

St James ‘Millésime 250 ans’ (OB, Martinique, 2015, 800 decanters)

St James ‘Millésime 250 ans’ (OB, Martinique, 2015, 800 decanters) Four stars This is the new bottling everybody’s talking about, 800 decanters sold for… 800€ each (good news that they did not come up with 2000 decanters), a vatting of the vintages 1885, 1934, 1952, 1976, 1998 and 2000. I know what you think, a shame that they won’t tell you about the proportions – after all the regulations for Scotch do make sense. Yeah, how many drops of 1885? (great rhum, that one, by the way). Or is it only some 2000 plus a bottle of each other vintage thrown in? But I agree, that’s probably only spiteful gossip, apologies… No ideas as for the strength, as it’s not available yet. Colour: full amber. Nose: nah, it’s a great nose, complex, subtly oaky, with, granted, whiffs of warm pencil shavings, but also the loveliest marmalades, pineapple wine, strawberries, ‘a pack of liquorice allsorts’, tamarind, artisan crème de cassis, biscuits, chocolate ganache, praline, a little pipe tobacco, raisins, gingerbread… This nose is almost perfect. Mouth: the younger vintages speak out, as this is rather ‘nervous and bright’. It’s perhaps a tad thin (probably only 40% vol.) and maybe a little dominated by newish oak, but other than that, these blood oranges and pink grapefruits plus all the subtle spices (red curry, cinnamon, nutmeg) really work in sync. Love the tobacco in it, the black raisins, the prunes… Finish: a little short, and with quite some cinnamon and black tea. The raisiny aftertaste is great, though. Touches of pineapple and banana jellies. Comments: ‘more oomph!’ as Goethe would have said. This would have been an utter winner at 45 or 46% vol., but I still rather love it. SGP:651 - 86 points.

Good, only high flyers could survive after those excellent Martiniquans… Such as this baby, perhaps…

Monymusk 20 yo 1977/1997 (45%, Moon Import, Jamaica, 600 bottles)

Monymusk 20 yo 1977/1997 (45%, Moon Import, Jamaica, 600 bottles) Four stars In fact, this little Jamaican is an agricole and was made in pot stills. According to the bottle, the owners were Sherriff, but I’m not sure they were Bowmore’s Sherriffs. As for the bottler, as often with anything they put into their mouths, the Italians have been pioneers of high-end indie rum. Colour: gold. Nose: I think it is a mild Jamaican. You do get ‘dundery’ notes, olives, brake fluid, fermenting hay and all that at first nosing, but it’s soon to display more fruits, with this discreet rubberiness that’s not quite rubber, but that’s close (and more pleasant). Putty? Overripe apples, barley, cake, wax, maple syrup, a little wood smoke, perhaps a little charcoal… In a way, it’s a little ‘whisky’. Around Clynelish, if you will. Mouth: smashing whisk… I mean, rum, appropriately dirty for a Jamaican, but also complex and fruity. Imagine some kind of warm apple compote that you would have seasoned with olive crumbles, a drop of paint (ha), and orange peel. Having said that, it tends to lose steam after two minutes, with a sugariness appearing from the back. And yet, some spices are coming along, especially pepper. I still like a lot. Finish: quite long, both earthy and spicy, and lightly fruity/orangey. Contrasting flavours. Comments: hyper good for sure, just not a wham-bam old Jamaican that rips your head off in two seconds. SGP:662 - 87 points.

Yeah, to think that that great Monymusk and Don Papa 10 are both ‘rums’… But let’s have one that may, indeed, rip our heads off…

Caroni 24 yo 1982/2006 (58.3%, Velier, Trinidad, 4600 bottles)

Caroni 24 yo 1982/2006 (58.3%, Velier, Trinidad, 4600 bottles) Four stars Does this one really need an introduction? Colour: dark amber/coffee. Nose: well, it’s not the heaviest Caroni ever. I don’t know if the fifteen drums they’ve vatted were all ‘light’, or all ‘heavy’, or a mix, but what’s sure is that this nose is relatively gentle, not phenolic to the max at all, and rather all on chocolate cake, praline, dark tobacco (I think you call that maduro), and then plenty of dried bananas – without becoming heady at all. I have to say balance is perfect, and it does make me think of some old agricole of high quality. With water: yes, just perfect. Coffee/tequila? Love these earthy touches too, it gets more ‘heavy’ now. Mouth (neat): high oak impact, and yet it’s balanced and elegant. That’s because it’s rather liquorice, pinesap and honeydew that play first parts, which gives this baby a feeling of oak-aged chartreuse that I really love. There is also a little salt, olives, tarmac, burnt herbs and all that, but never quite like in a ‘heaviest’ Caroni. With water: oak oak oak, and oak. And yet, I find this feeling of quaffing walnut stain pretty pleasant. Maybe I should have embarked on wood-related careers. Like, carpenter. Finish: long, very oaky, and yet, as I said… Comments: pretty extreme. The nose was superb, the palate was great, but water brought out a whole oak tree. Careful! SGP:472 - 85 points.

All right, another old Velier for the road…

Port Mourant 34 yo 1974/2008 (54.5%, Velier, Demerara, 364 bottles)

Port Mourant 34 yo 1974/2008 (54.5%, Velier, Demerara, 364 bottles) Four stars and a half I know, I’m looking for trouble as far as oak’s concerned, but who could resist one of these truly rare old Demeraras? Especially when it was distilled in some of these legendary wooden pot stills? What’s more, some 1975s by Velier have been high in my book, and a 1974 by Berry Bros has been high as well. So… Colour: coffee. This starts well. Nose: unusual for sure. Church incense, perhaps? Or visiting an old Buddhist temple somewhere in great China? And burnt oak, tapenade (I’ll explain it again, tapenade is a Provençal thing that blends anchovies, capers, and olives. Explosive and very tasty). So, tapenade, walnut stain again, bitter chocolate, a bag of prunes, charcoal, black pipe tobacco, tar and liquorice… And behind that tarry and very ‘dark’ wall, a few oranges. An experience. With water: yeah, brine! And black olives, a little concrete dust, coffee… and, there, big and vivid, dried porcinis. Mouth (neat): I didn’t know you could distil pu-erh tea. And that someone would add burnt sugar, black olives, salmiak, some salt, and some tobacco to the juice. Thick, heavy, rich, invasive… Totally coats your palate. Perhaps a wee bit tiring, but we have got sufficient stamina to stand that, haven’t we. With water: black olives, tobacco, salted fish (that would be anchovies again), tarry liquorice, and, above everything, not too much oak. Finish: very long, pleasantly tannic, salty, with dried fruits (it was about time), tobacco, liquorice, bitter oranges… and walnut stain. I mean, a feeling of walnut stain, we do not quaff walnut stain every other evening as if there was no tomorrow. Comments: I guess you could call this ‘heavy rum’, or perhaps even ‘old navy rum’. Sometimes as subtle as a sledgehammer, but I simply love this rather un-sweet style. Life is short, you know. SGP:472 - 89 points.

Another one, would that be reasonable? Like, another old Demerara?...

Demerara 26 yo (45%, Moon Import, 600 bottles, +/-1986)

Demerara 26 yo (46%, Moon Import, 600 bottles, +/-1986) Five stars That is right, and old Demerara that was distilled around the late 1950s. Of course we’d have loved to know more about the provenance, but what’s sure is that many older bottlings of Demerara rum were from Port Mourant/Morant. Let’s see if we could tell (which I doubt – not that we’re not self-confident, mind you, but let’s not be too presumptuous). Colour: coffee. Nose: we have our winner. Exceptional nose, organised around coffee and parsley. I know, sounds unlikely but you wouldn’t imagine how well this works. Beef stock, cigars, walnut wine, old Comté cheese, game, perhaps a touch of garlic, bitter chocolate, coffee, Spanish ham (bellota stuff), menthol, myrtle, eucalyptus, seawater, chartreuse, parsley (indeed), chives, truffles, soups, bouillons, dried figs, new tyres… This is simply endless, and utterly complex. And above everything, it’s ‘a whole’, not just a ‘collage’. Very impressive. Mouth: a genuflexion please. This reminds me of the greatest pre-WWII Macallans. More the 1938s than the 1940s, I’d add (nah, of course I’m make this up – quite). Plain and utter killer, up there with the best aged spirits ever, amen. And yet, as I said, it’s ‘a whole’. That’s why I think it’s one of the best aged spirits ever, by the way. Yeah, it also reminds me a bit of the Springbank 12 yo OB for Samaroli, in some way, even if that one was even more complex. Finish: loses one point because I’d have loved to see it last forever, there! Seriously, this finish is magic, incredibly coherent and even clean (an old Demerara, they said!), and I just have to yield to this amazingly beautiful whisky. Excuse me, rum. Comments: I think this baby’s just become my favourite rum ever. Even above the very moving St James 1885 (see above). SGP:463 - 94 points.

(and grazzie mille, Francesco)

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

 

 

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July 31, 2015


Whiskyfun

More newish Aultmore

Bacardi have recently come up with a quasi-clone of Diageo’s very successful Classic Malts series, with Craigellachie (I think we’ve tried them all), Aberfeldy (we’ll soon try those), Brackla (ditto) and Aultmore. They’ve called this series ‘The Last Great Malts’, which I find a little dooomy and gloomy. As my marketing masters used to say, ‘you can’t build anything positive using a negative image’. But that was a long time ago, and the series seems to be successful, so… let’s try some of these new Aultmores!

Aultmore 12 yo (46%, OB, +/-2015)

Aultmore 12 yo (46%, OB, +/-2015) Three stars and a half I have to say I find the packaging totally superb. Well done Stephen and gang! The strength is cool too, and so is the colour. Colour: white wine. Nose: starts with cider and beer, in a very fresh, country-inspired manner. It’s not one of these sexy-commercial-travel-retail Speysiders at all, rather a pure and slightly raw expression of all things malty, grassy, and mineral. Apple peelings, rhubarb, wet limestone, candle wax… This is malt whisky! Mouth: it’s full and fresh, with oranges and, once again, rhubarb, plus some honey and a drop of tinned pineapple juice. Rather fruitier, but body and structure remain firm and ‘honest’. Excellent maltiness. Finish: quite long, maltier, with roasted peanuts, cider apples, and malty ale. Malty and mineral aftertaste. Comments: it’s funny, but this feels like an independent bottling. Very malty and pretty elegant. Kind of un-commercial, in a way. Beats many entry-level Speysiders in my book. SGP:452 - 83 points.

Aultmore 25 yo (46%, OB, +/-2015)

Aultmore 25 yo (46%, OB, +/-2015) Four stars and a half A stunning packaging again, rather ‘elite’, and maybe just a wee tad ‘Balvenie’. Well, probably not. And it’s great that they haven’t used fake decimals for the ABV, as is customary elsewhere. You know, 45.9%, 46.1%... Having said that, it’s very pricey whisky (420€) so it better be good. Colour: full gold. Nose: yes! Artisan ales, cigars, smoky teas (lapsang stuff), roasted malt and nuts, a little burnt oak, apples from last year, brown toasts, Van Houten’s cocoa powder, dried porcinis… It’s a big style, very malty and ‘burnt’, which is absolutely great on the nose but that may suggest a palate that could be ‘too big’. Yes that’s possible, let’s see… Mouth: indeed it starts a little burnt and ‘stouty’, with some brownies, chocolate cookies, toasts, roasted pecans, a lot of malt and quite some artisan chocolate. I know some officials who would have added a lot of caramel to make this one mahogany in colour, which would have perfectly fitted this profile. But they didn’t, kudos to them. Burnt cake, leather, burnt oak, a little marmalade. I like this really a lot, it’s supremely malty whisky. Finish: long, perfectly bitter and malty, and yet balanced and spicy. It’s only now that a little obvious oak comes into play. And coffee. Comments: very high quality composition, with a distillate that’s maybe not the most characterful ever. I say greatly done. SGP:452 - 89 points.

How about an old indie ‘for the road’?

Aultmore 28 yo 1982/2011 (46%, Mo Òr Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #2219, 300 bottles)

Aultmore 28 yo 1982/2011 (46%, Mo Òr Collection, bourbon hogshead, cask #2219, 300 bottles) Four stars and a halfI’m still mourning the death of this collection. These great people have been right too early. Imagine, bottlings from strictly all Scottish distilleries, including Ladyburn and Glen Flagler (haven’t checked that one). But yeah, lazy people want Ardbeg… In truth, this lovely series was probably too ‘intellectual’. Colour: straw. Nose: brighter than the OBs, smokier as well, this noses like some barbecued apples and bananas. There’s something shaky as well, having said that, like hints of new leatherette, new shoes, new tyres, gravel, basalt, pitch, hay, furniture polish, old motorcycle, cured ham… Sounds unlikely? It is, but it’s fun. Mouth: ah yes yes yes. Firm malty apples, cake crust, myrtle liqueur (haven’t been to Corsica this year yet – what am I doing?), burnt cake, some kind of dry herbal liqueur, artichokes, what we call amer bière (such as Picon, Alsatians use to add it to their beers), bitter oranges… Behind that, a flowery lightness that you could miss if you rush things. Light honey, sugarcane syrup… That’s all very good. Finish: quite long, with an herbal side that makes it even better. Comments: it’s complex, it needs your time and your attention, and it delivers. Just be patient. SGP:452 - 88 points.

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Whiskyfun fav of the month

July 2015

Favourite recent bottling:
Ardbeg 23 yo 1991/2015 (50.6%, Master of Malt, bourbon, 216 bottles)  - WF 92

Favourite older bottling:
Ardbeg 14 yo 1965 (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, +/-1979) - WF 93

Favourite bang for your buck bottling:
Glencadam 10 yo (46%, OB, +/-2014)  - WF 85

Favourite malternative:
Trois Rivières 1998/2012 (46.2%, OB, for La Maison du Rhum, Martinique, agricole, cask #C8-200, 272 bottles) - WF 88

 

July 30, 2015


Whiskyfun

Glenfiddich NAS, 19 and 1965

We had an oldie at 40% vol. as the aperitif, but since the new ones are bottled at 40% vol. as well, I guess we’d better have the venerable oldie as the last one. Pfff, 40%...

Glenfiddich 'Reserve Cask' (40%, OB, travel retail, 1l, +/-2015)

Glenfiddich 'Reserve Cask' (40%, OB, travel retail, 1l, +/-2015) Two stars Reserve Cask (how creative!) is the slightly more expensive version of ‘Select Cask’, which we found underwhelming (WF 77). Travel retail, maybe, but rather Ryanair than Singapore Airlines. But maybe will this humble NAS baby be more to my liking… Colour: full gold. Nose: ale and cider and overripe apples and leaves and caramel at first nosing, then more interesting notes of old Sauternes that went dry. That’s nice! Mouth: very ‘travel retail’. Easy, malty, caramelly (it really feels), all on sponge cake, apple crumble and a bit of sour wood. The mouth feel isn’t big, and that’s an understatement. Finish: very short. Leaves a feeling of earl grey tea as the aftertaste. A little honey. Comments: not bad, but it’s more or less in the same category as Diageo’s entry-level Singletons. These diplomatic juices sure won’t offend any travellers. SGP:441 - 76 points.

Glenfiddich 19 yo  'Age of Discovery' (40%, OB, red wine cask finish, +/-2013)

Glenfiddich 19 yo  'Age of Discovery' (40%, OB, red wine cask finish, +/-2013) Three stars Red wine cask finish? How very scary. Apparently, they’ve been using South American Bordeaux blend wine casks. Now, the Age of Discovery bourbon and Madeira have been to my liking (both WF 85) so we’ll see what we’ll see… Colour: gold. Good rinsing ;-). Nose: well done! No ‘red wine’, which is cool. I love red wine, but if I need red wine, I drink red wine. Haha. Rather Virginia tobacco leaves, earl grey tea, butterscotch, humus and mushrooms, ripe greengages (which makes it pretty summery, how appropriate), apricots… It’s a very subtle and complex nose, only the lack of watts makes it a little frustrating. Oh and there are funny hints of miso soup and smoked ham. Mouth: another world after the undemanding Reserve Cask. It’s grassier, oakier, grittier, kind of wilder, with a little ginger and green pepper (quite cabernety), then oranges, tea, dried apricots, and ‘ideas’ of smoked ham. It’s light, but it’s not too ‘scrawny’. Finish: short, but with a funny saltiness. Or something that triggers our salt receptor, as some would say. Some tea tannins. Comments: the pedigree was scary, but it was all very all right. The red wine has been kept at bay. SGP:451 - 82 points.

And the old one…

Glenfiddich 12 yo 1965/1977 (80° proof/45.7%, Cadenhead, black dumpy)

Glenfiddich 12 yo 1965/1977 (80° proof/45.7%, Cadenhead, black dumpy) This baby still from the ‘Aberdeen’ W.M. Cadenhead. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how rare indie Glenfiddichs are. Oh and did you notice that it’s not ‘Glenfiddich-Glenlivet’? Colour: gold. Nose: cancel cancel cancel, this is very soapy. It’s liquid soap. Soapier than soap. Yikes! Mouth: no no no no no… And that’s a shame, because any experienced taster would feel that what’s behind all this soap 'could' be of the highest quality. Or not, not too sure. Finish: long and extremely soapy. The dearest son of Mr Palmolive and Mrs Dove. You had thought mid-1980s Bowmores were the soapiest whiskies ever? How wrong you were! Comments: the problem is that this comes from a bottle that’s just been opened, so it’s fully fresh and no tainting could have happened. Seriously, what happened? The old lady’s ‘unlikely tastes’? Dissolved plastic from the cap? Bottle stored in an IKEA warehouse? Simply a fake bottle? Bah, that’s not very important – but I’m glad I could try a very bad, very nasty, and simply horrendous whisky by Cadenhead this summer. Because the recent offerings, well, they don’t seem to be too bad… SGP:190 - 4 points (no, no figure is missing).

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July 29, 2015


Whiskyfun

Dalwhinnie NAS, 15, DE

A new Dalwhinnie out in September (NAS, of course), and its ancestors. A set-up we’ll probably have to use again in the near future, for the better or, yeah, for the worse.

Dalwhinnie ‘Winter’s Gold’ (43%, OB, 2015)

Dalwhinnie ‘Winter’s Gold’ (43%, OB, 2015) Two stars and a half Diageo keep issuing NAS versions of their Classic Malts, and today it’s Dalwhinnie that’s on the table. Every time, there’s the same question that arises, ‘will they subsequently discontinue the former age-stated entry-level bottling?’ In this case, that would be the 15. I do not have the answer, and after all, rumours are only rumours. This Winter’s Gold, a name that might hint at the Distillery’s rather high altitude, is supposed to be put into the freezer prior to pouring. A strange idea, but after all, adding lemon to Corona or to Belgian white beers was a strange idea as well. In short, this is chill filtering without the filtering part. For good measure, we’ve followed the owners’ suggestion and have chilled a part of this baby (at -18°C, no less), while keeping the other part at room temperature. It’s the first time we’re doing this kind of stunt, but I guess there’s a first time for everything. Colour: gold. Nose (room temp): typical honeyed and vanilla-ed profile, with the trademark maltiness and whiffs of Seville oranges. Perhaps touches of ginger, which makes it a little cocktaily, in a fairly good way. Chilled: nada, niente, nichts. Or nosing it from two metres away ;-). But it’s fun to see it move like if it was oil in your glass. Mouth (room temp): peppery and rather oaky, with a feeling of sawdust, ginger, and cinnamon. Then more Dalwhinnian oranges and honey. Tastes young, with growing notes of fruit eau-de-vie. Certainly plum spirit, young slivovitz and all that. Chilled: well, as you won’t take litres in your mouth, it heats up very fast and after a first wee ‘ice cream effect’, you end up with the same oaky and slivovitzy profile. Finish (both room temp and chilled): malt, oranges and honey are back, but the signature remains rather oaky. Comments: an honest, rather simple drop, I’d say. Freezing it seems to be only useful if you live in the middle of Death Valley or in good old Timbuktu. SGP:351 - 78 points.

While we are at it…

Dalwhinnie 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2014)

Dalwhinnie 15 yo (43%, OB, +/-2014) Three stars I guess I shouldn’t try this baby since I already tried a +/-2013 version (WF 82), but for the sake of comparison… Colour: gold. Nose: more profound, maltier, more complex, with more honeys, overripe apples, hay, maple syrup, fudge, raw malted barley, cake, shortbread… It is rather average, but in the best sense of that word, meaning ‘in the middle’. In the middle of Scotch malt whisky, that is. Mouth: less differences with the new Winter’s Gold (I would have chosen the name Winter’s Silver instead, but hey, who am I), but still, there’s more roundness, more honey, apples and pears, candy sugar, hay wine… And above all, less obvious oak. But indeed, we’re quite close. Very close! Finish: good length, with a touch of wood smoke, malt, toasts, oranges… It’s certainly more complex and fruitier, that’s where it really wins it, finishes never lie! Comments: no reasons to change my score. A very good drop, easy but not ‘too obvious’. A perfect beginner’s malt! Hope it won’t get discontinued… SGP:452 - 82 points.

While we’re at it part 2…

Dalwhinnie 1997/2014 'Distiller's Edition' (43%, OB, D. SV. 312)

Dalwhinnie 1997/2014 'Distiller's Edition' (43%, OB, D. SV. 312) Three stars and a half That’s right, we’re kind of watching flies doing their business now. Indeed we’ve already tried the 1997 bottled in 2013, but that one was bearing the code ‘D. SU. 312’. But this is ‘D. SV. 312’, so that’s completely different, for crying out loud!!! Colour: gold. Nose: oh lovely! It’s got big notes of rum agricole, really, and it’s to be wondered if they did not use ex-Martinique casks for this. I’m not joking. So sugar cane, then… wait, calvados? And even a little sweet beer. This is very fun. And even a little armagnac, with notes of raisins. A meta-spirit? Mouth: it’s really excellent. Not quite a surprise, but we’re close. Some meta-spirit again, with raisins, Muscatel, ripe apples, white chocolate, rum and raisins… Fun stuff really. Only one tiny flaw in my book, it tends to become a little sour. ‘Old’ cider. Finish: not too long, and perhaps a little sweet. It’s where the wine-finishing did not work quite well IMHO. What was it again? Ah yes, oloroso. Rather tastes like PX if you ask me. Comments: a fun drop, kind of ‘mixed’, not exactly Scottish, not precisely Caribbean, not quite Norman, and not totally Andalusian. World spirit? Just a notch too sweet for my taste. SGP:551 - 83 points.

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

 

 

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July 28, 2015


Whiskyfun

  Celebrating Thirteen
Years of Whiskyfun

My friend, today little Whiskyfun is 13 years old. Rather a non-event, and all whiskymakers, apart from Craigellachie and Whyte & Mackay ;-), know that thirteen is neither twelve nor fifteen. So we’ll keep this short and, hopefully sweet.

But still, what’s new at WF Towers, you may ask? Well, our figures keep rising at the same pace as previously, that is to say at a rate of +/-15% per year (both number of visits and visitors). More than 75% of them are returning visitors, which pleases me quite a lot. All in all, there are between 8,000 and 10,000 visits a day, sometimes a little more (when we’re trying Ardbeg, ha ha). But this is not Buzzfeed, mind you!

Other than that, not much has changed, all I hope is that we won’t see an avalanche of new young NAS whiskies replacing well-aged core ranges – and at a higher price. Looks like that is slowly happening, though, which may eventually diminish the joy of tasting new whiskies. In my views, malt whisky without an age statement is like Led Zep without Robert Plant, something is missing.

Now, you may wonder why I would care. My main problem, in fact, is that until just a few years ago, the whisky world was a place where just anybody could afford some well-aged, complex and interesting whiskies. Successful entrepreneurs and humble employees or even factory workers used to regularly gather and share equivalent drams, and we were all equals in that joyous melting pot where only one thing used to be important: shared passion for whisky. How things have changed! Because mind you, you got to be wealthy to afford some 25 years old malt whisky these days, even the weaker ones, that is to say single casks from blending stock, sold by some indies for hundreds of Euros a skittle.

Ouch

An indie Blair Athol 23 yo 1991 for 266 Euros? A Caperdonich 21 yo 1992 for 393 Euros (you read that right)? A Laphroaig 16 yo 1997 for 410 Euros? An Ardbeg 20 yo 1994 for 678 Euros?… Or an undisclosed NAS for 110 Euros? Slightly nauseating moves, if you ask me. What’s more, blends do not seem to sell too well these days, so some might be trying to unload their young malts as single malts instead, whether NAS or not, and further milk the malt-thirsty cow. The new drinkers, sadly, and unless very wealthy, have no other choices than enjoy the malts they can afford, and of course nobody should blame them for that. 

But I don’t want to go on burbling on about those issues, the world of spirits is rich and large enough to provide these humble little pages with many other interesting boozes, should malt whisky become too depressing or unauthentic. Including, that’s true, some that are NAS as well, such as artisan mezcals, piscos or cachaças. But at least, those are fully spirit-driven, and not flash-botoxed with oak or cooking wine.

So, if one day the world of Scotch malts (and their ‘foreign’ clones) is totally dominated by these NAS whiskies that all taste more or less the same (vanilla and basta), I think we’ll simply start to try more interesting malternatives, so not just on Sundays.

But it hasn’t come to that yet, so…

Let’s go on for a while with the current format, see what happens, and pace e salute!

Now, how should we celebrate our 13th birthday? Probably with an emblematic name, some very old whiskies, and two or three rare bottlings. Like these…

 

Three Ardbeg for WF's 13th anniversary

Do we really need a headnote?

Ardbeg 18 yo 1958 (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, +/-1976)

Ardbeg 18 yo 1958 (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, +/-1976) one star and a half This one sure is a controversial bottling. Genuine or not? What’s even more troubling is the fact that the label states that it’s a ‘Highland’ whisky, and not an Islay. What’s sure is that if it is the real deal indeed, it’s of the oldest vintages of Ardbeg known to Man. We’re not talking about the late 19th/early 20th century fakes that abound in various collections, of course… But indeed, nobody’s ever been sure that this well-known bottling wasn’t a fake as well, and I’m not 100% sure we could tell. Let’s check it… Colour: pale gold. Nose: hard to say (of course). There are medicinal notes, funny whiffs of crushed strawberries, notes of various Jell-Os (blackcurrant springs to mind), and something that furiously reminds me of…  Bowmore 12 years old, circa the year 2000. Ahem… Ahem indeed. Mouth: same feelings. Smoky strawberries, raspberry-flavoured yoghurt, a bit of burnt wood, malt… This is young, this is modern, and apologies, but I doubt it’s Ardbeg 1958. Although I’m not too familiar with Ardbeg 1958, of course. Finish: good length, modern tastes. Toasted bread, jams, light smoke, and, above all, very little coastalness. How strange. Comments: I wouldn’t stake my life that this isn’t genuine Ardbeg 1958, but if it was, well, Ardbeg was pretty ordinary back in 1958. Such is the life of a die-hard whisky freak, stinky fakes abound and you have to be very careful. Again, never buy from a seller whom you don’t know well, never! SGP:544 - 69 points.

Better luck now, perhaps…

Ardbeg 14 yo 1965 (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, +/-1979)

Ardbeg 14 yo 1965 (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, Connoisseur’s Choice, +/-1979) Five stars A 'Highland' malt again, this is troubling. Ah, 1965, the year of the pretty disappointing official 1965 that came out a few years ago (with pomp, circumstances, white gloves and stuff). Colour: gold. Nose: b****y, f*****g yesssss! This, is Ardbeg. Hessian, oysters, old coal stove, almond oil, genuine old turpentine, carbon paper, old books, Bakelite, natural engine oil (castor oil), crème de menthe (old Ricqlès, do you know that brilliant stuff that makes your breath just perfect for dancing cheek-to-cheek?)… This is extraordinarily complex, this is what made Ardbeg Ardbeg in many a whisky lover’s book. No, not just that one. Mouth: makes you dance and sing. More old books, carbon paper, seawater, tar, drops of cod oil (I know), whelks and other tasty sea animals, almonds again, creosote and bandages (the infernal combo), wet papers, kippers, smoked salmon, then rather spices, caraway and cloves, cardamom… Was 70° proof really only 40% vol.? Seriously, it’s no big whisky as far as power is concerned, and indeed we’re almost closer to wine, but depth and wideness of aromas are pretty amazing. Finish: sadly, it is a little short and almost too clean and tidy. On the other hand, this baby was bottled at 40% and spent more than thirty-five years in a closed bottle. Try to understand it! Comments: not much else to say. One of the seminal whiskies that raised an army of whisky (and Ardbeg) lovers. The score would have been higher at… a higher proof! SGP:456 - 93 points.

I know what you think, ‘and modern Ardbeg?’ How would it compare? Let’s find out, with an indie ‘au naturel’ …

Ardbeg 23 yo 1991/2015 (50.6%, Master of Malt, bourbon, 216 bottles)

Ardbeg 23 yo 1991/2015 (50.6%, Master of Malt, bourbon, 216 bottles) Five stars Isn’t it funny that the indies are now issuing Ardbegs that are much more expensive than their official counterparts? But I agree, there probably aren’t any real official counterparts, as all the OBs, except the Ten, are NAS. Read ‘probably very very very very young’. By the way, remember that the moribund Ardbeg whisky used to be made by the good people from Laphroaig’s at the time. Yeah, just before Allied murdered dozens of magnificent casks by vatting them all in their 30 yo ‘Very Old’. Pretty great whisky, that one, and caviar+caviar=caviar, but still… Colour: pale gold. Nose: am I the only whisky lover who often considered that Ardbeg could be more medicinal than Laphroaig? My email address is valentin@ca... I’m kidding. So oysters, fresh almonds, seaweed, embrocations, limoncello, hessian, bandages, tiger balm, creosote and smoked fish. Nothing more, nothing less. And I think it’s brilliant. With water: in a hospital near the sea, while a large pile of hay is burning in the neighbourhood. Somebody added an old tyre to the pile. Mouth (neat): I’m afraid it’s brilliant indeed. Is 23 a magical age for Ardbeg? Extremely focused and compact combination of seaweed, smoked fish, almond oils, lemons, mercurochrome, sauvignon blanc, fresh walnuts and brine. I don’t think you could do better. Only time would make it more complex, but you’d need dozens of years… With water: immaculate, perfect Ardbegness. Almost on par wit the best of the 1970s. Finish: long, clean. Smoked fish, oils. Comments: I find it embarrassing that a bottle of 20+ years old whisky that’s priced at 500+ Euros would be so good. Life is a bitch (you need holidays, S.). Oh, forgot to tell you, the smoke’s intense. SGP:458 - 92 points.

Okay, happy 13th anniversary to Whiskyfun, let’s go on…

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

 

Pete McPeat and Jack Washback
PJ

PJ

 

 

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July 27, 2015


Whiskyfun

Old styles, old Strathislas

I don’t think we’ve done a Strathisla session recently, have we? It’s true that the brand is very quiet these days, it’s all about Glenlivet at Chivas Bros’. I’m even wondering if G&M do not sell more Strathisla than the owners. And I remember well the white label around 1980. We had Cardhu ‘white label’, Glenfiddich, and Strathisla ‘white label’. Oh and nasty blends.

Strathisla 35 yo (43%, OB, Bicentenary, 1986, 75cl)

Strathisla 35 yo (43%, OB, Bicentenary, 1986, 75cl) Three stars A rare bottling, done by Chivas Brothers to celebrate the bicentenary of Strathisla Distillery, founded 1786. Distilled around 1950, I wager. Colour: gold. Nose: oh lovely overripe apples and soft honey (and honeycomb, beeswax)… Plus some light OBE, rather of the tea-ish and metallic kind. Copper, old coins, apple crumble, very ripe kiwis, then more blond tobacco (Virginia) and a slightly sour, winey side that hints at sherry. Am I dreaming or they added drops of old Chablis to this? A very elegant nose, rather complex, and delicately un-modern. Mouth: the oak’s a little loud, perhaps, and there are bags and bags of apple peelings, green tea, green peppercorns and orange zests. But what’s behind that, that is to say this mellow honeyness and all this spicy compote works very well. A touch of cinnamon, then plain oak. A little bitter. Finish: rather long given the strength, spicy and slightly bitter. The aftertaste is a little drying and too mentholated, which often goes together. Comments: it started very well but I find this old baby a little too oaky for my taste. Maybe more a collectable than a drinking star? SGP:471 - 83 points.

You may be wondering why we’ll have this one after the older OB. I’d say the answer lies in the tasting notes…

Strathisla 30 yo 1954/1984 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, 75cl)

Strathisla 30 yo 1954/1984 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, 75cl) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: starts rather similar, with a little incense, all things honeyed, some tobacco and some overripe apples, but there’s little OBE this time, and this nose is as bright as if it was bottled yesterday. A lot of pollen and nectar, quinces, sultanas, then drops of cough syrup and powerful chestnut honey. A slight meaty side (ham?) and a little chicken soup – with parsley. Very lovely nose. Mouth: easily beats the OB. Softer, rounder, fruitier, more honeyed and, above all, much less oaky. Some pipe tobacco, orange cake, all things from a beehive, drops of old Sauternes, apple pie, a touch of liquorice, even a little salt… What’s more, the low strength never feels. Finish: quite long, clean, honeyed, delicately spicy. Cinnamon sweets, wax, oranges, apples, a touch of white pepper… It’s only in the aftertaste that a little green tea shows up. Comments: these old Strathislas by G&M used to be gems – and the prices were very fair! It was another very fine example… SGP:551 - 89 points.

More of this old breed before we try a contemporary old one…

Strathisla 42 yo 1954 (40%/80 US proof, Gordon & MacPhail, for John Gross Baltimore, +/-1996)

Strathisla 42 yo 1954 (40%/80 US proof, Gordon & MacPhail, for John Gross Baltimore, +/-1996) Five stars Colour: dark gold. Nose: oooh… This is stunning! It’s even more complex than the 30, absolutely not tired, rather bright and vibrant, with blood oranges, these hints of old copper coins indeed (pennies, of course), honeydew rather than honey, honeysuckle and lime tree blossom, all ripe plums of the creation, and whiffs of old late harvest Gewurztraminer. Am I an Alsatian or what? After ten minutes, it’s rather old cigars, parsley, sandalwood, cedar wood… Perfect! Mouth: perfect indeed. Granted, the oak’s more prominent this time, but the honeys and the fruits more than support it. Fruit soup, crystallised tangerines, citrons, sultanas, some liquorice wood (the oak talking), honeydew again, a little sap, a little putty, a little triple-sec by a good maker, dried figs… It’s amazing how youthful it remained, and yet its very mature and complex. The casks must have been perfect, probably refill sherry of exquisite provenance. Finish: unexpectedly long and mouth-filling, with ripe apples, a little fudge, spicy oranges, tobacco and a grittier cedar wood in the aftertaste. Comments: this is why we need age statements and/or vintages. Mind you, 1954, that’s when Elvis made his first radio broadcast. It’s important to know that, isn’t it! SGP:561 - 91 points.

And now, a modern one by a good house!

Strathisla-Glenlivet 25 yo 1989//2015 (42.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 150 bottles)

Strathisla-Glenlivet 25 yo 1989//2015 (42.7%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, bourbon hogshead, 150 bottles) Four stars Cadenhead always like to add ‘Glenlivet’ after some of their, err, Speysides. I guess the cask was stencilled that way. One day, they’ll come up with an Ardbeg-Glenlivet by mistake, and it’ll become the most collectable Ardbeg ever. But shhh… Colour: gold. Nose: this is completely different. We’re having crème au beurre (you may call that butter cream), vanilla fudge, café latte (not from Starbuck’s mind you), a curious herbal combination (hay, asparagus, woodruff), and then vin jaune. That is to say these sourish touches of green walnuts and, well, green walnuts. Unusual, interesting, and likeable. But at this strength and with a nose like this, the palate could be troublesome… Mouth: it’s an exact copy of the nose, descriptor for descriptor. Very unusual, buttery, coffee-ish, herbal, slightly sour, with some old oak but also sweets and liquorice allsorts, green tea, and vin jaune. Or, if you prefer, manzanilla pastrana (old style, lightly filtered). Finish: rather long, with the miracle. The miracle is that the oak did not take over. Comments: an unusual winesky, or wisky-wine. It’s not that its an ex-sherry cask or else, but the style reminds me of some wines. Like, indeed, vin jaune, or Noilly Prat. It’s so unusual that it’s hard to score. Let’s remain conservative, George. SGP:461 - 85 points.

Good, we already had quite a few old low-strength Straths, let’s call this a session. But first, let’s have a stronger one, and we’ll be done.

Strathisla 27 yo 1979/2007 (55.7%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butt, cask #1534, 605 bottles)

Strathisla 27 yo 1979/2007 (55.7%, Signatory Vintage, refill sherry butt, cask #1534, 605 bottles) Three stars Colour: white wine. Not much sherry. Nose: it’s clean, but kind of middle-of-the-road soft and fruity Speyside. That the cask hasn’t been very active is an understatement, but that works well with characterful distillates. Not too sure that’s the case with Strathisla. Barley water, tinned pears, sweet almonds (some kind of Italian liqueur), ripe apples, plums… With water: grass, lemongrass, paraffin. Mouth (neat): same, average good-quality Speysider, a little peary given the respectable age, sweetly barleyish. Gooseberries, plums. With water: more sweet barley, lemon liqueur, grapefruits… That’s nice. Finish: rather long, grassy, lemony… Comments: typically what you’d call ‘a very fine drop’, but perhaps more a cask that would go well for an old blend. Just wondering. SGP:451 - 80 points.

(and Patrick, encore mille mercis!)

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

 

 

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July 24, 2015


Whiskyfun

Ach, Glendronach

Yes, we’re still trying to win an award at WF Towers. That would be the Lousiest Headline Ever Award. Please, oh please!... By the way, someone called me ‘the anarchist whisky taster’ the other day. You just wouldn’t imagine how pleased I was… But bach to Glendronach (that’s not funny one bit, S.)…

Glendronach (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, +/-1970)

Glendronach (70° proof, Gordon & MacPhail, +/-1970) Five stars A perfect aperitif, I’d bet. Love the ‘A Perfect Self Whisky’ mention on the label, what an elegant way of saying ‘single malt’. Colour: straw. Nose: oil. Sunflower, grape pips, argan, whatever, this reeks of vegetal oil. And then, we have apple juice, grapefruits, pieces of mangos, something delicately floral (lilies), something rather ‘old Highlands’ (old motorbike, why not a Norton?), some carbon paper, drops of ink, new magazine (that would be Whisky Magazine France, of course!)… This nose reminds us that older malts used to be more complex than today’s offerings, however good those are. Facts. Mouth: kills you. Another era, other perspectives, other aims, other goals (whaaaat?) Amazing complexity – and ‘compact fullness’ at the same time. Old Sauternes, some kind of banana liqueur long forgotten in Grandma’s cabinet-just-under-the-telly, many herbal teas, some loud and clear malted barley, a wee metallic touch that often appears in these old bottles by G&M (or Cadenhead)… and all that. Above all, it’s a classy distillate. Finish: not too long, of course, but never tired, never dull, and never flabby. Some smoke. Comments: one of my favourite NAS whiskies ever. SGP:452 - 91 points.

Glendronach 18 yo 'Allardice' (46%, OB, 2015)

Glendronach 18 yo 'Allardice' (46%, OB, 2015) Four stars I had thought I’ve tried this 18 very recently, and then I checked Whiskyfun, and noticed that that was in 2009. I had liked it, but thought the 15 ‘Revival’ just killed it. But then again, that happened in 2009. Time to do some kind of revisionism… Colour: amber. Nose: it’s not the first time that a whisky reminds me of the first pack of cigarettes I ever bought. I do not smoke anymore, but I remember very well that pack of Camels that I had bought in Dusseldorf when I was 13 or 14. Taking out the cellophane and smelling the pack was like… nosing the most complex malt whisky ever. On the stereo, there was ELP’s brand new LP, Tarkus. But why am I telling you this? Why would you care? So, this Glendronach smells like a 1970’s pack of untipped Camels (while Keith Emerson’s doing his riffs on his half-destroyed organ). Mouth: no, this is seriously good. Dry sherry, figs, dates, something mineral, a touch of cologne – nothing to worry about-, marmalade, a little nutmeg… What strikes me is that it’s a fairly dry drop. Finish: long, perhaps a notch too mineral and flinty, with some quinine and pepper. Comments: is it really a Macallan-killer? What’s sure is that it got that style, but I’m not 100% fond of the flinty, grassy, almost metallic side. But it’s a very great sherried drop anyway. I’m sure it got drier than earlier batches, what would Carl Palmer think? SGP:561 - 86 points.

Good, let’s tackle the other, punchier side of Glendronach, and we’re done. This time.

Glendronach 21 yo 1993/2014 (56.4%, OB, for LMdW, oloroso, cask #475, 627 bottles)

Glendronach 21 yo 1993/2014 (56.4%, OB, for LMdW, oloroso, cask #475, 627 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: mahogany. Nose: chocolate, tamarind, strawberry jam, prunes, triple-sec, raisins, cask strength cognac, tar, liquorice, Spanish ham, pipe tobacco… I don’t think you could find heavier whisky, and yet there’s a lightness to this. With water: the oak comes out. Pencil shavings and all that. Mouth (neat): spectacularly liqueury, prune-y, chocolaty, orange-y, raisiny… It’s sweeter than what the nose suggested, but it is high-impact oloroso-ed malt whisky. A bit rough, perhaps? With water: lovely lovely, but once again, the oak feels. Wouldn’t that be sherry-treated rejuvenated oak? Finish: long, oaky, leafy, jammy, chocolaty. Comments: very good no doubt, but I’m not a total fan, as water kind of deconstructs it. You feel the layers. SGP:552 - 84 points.

(merci beaucoup Mister Angus)

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

 

 

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