Google Whisky Fun by Serge - blog, reviews and tasting notes since 2002
Whiskyfun Malt Madness Malt Maniacs
 

Serge whiskyfun

 

Tasting notes:
Whiskies 12,631
Other spirits 1,259
Guests 23

Warning....

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (43) - Aberlour (95)
Abhainn Dearg (2)
Allt-A-Bhainne (2
6)
An Cnoc (
20)
Ardbeg (3
64) - Ardmore (68)
Arran (
86) - Auchentoshan (95)
Auchroisk (
33) - Aultmore (44)
Balblair (76) - Balmenach (37)
Balvenie (
88) - Banff (46)
Ben Nevis (
103)
Ben Wyvis (
2)
Benriach (
160) - Benrinnes (46)
Benromach (
55) - Bladnoch (63)
Blair Athol (
50) - Bowmore (435)
Braes of Glenlivet (
37)
Brora (
119)
Bruichladdich (2
46)
Bunnahabhain (
272)
Caol Ila (483)
Caperdonich (
82)
Cardhu (
33) - Clynelish (317)
Coleburn (
15)
Convalmore (1
8)
Cragganmore (
64)
Craigduff (3) - Craigellachie (
51)
Dailuaine (52) - Dallas Dhu (35)
Dalmore (104) - Dalwhinnie (24)
Deanston (28) - Dufftown (48)

Edradour (60)
Imperial (66) - Inchgower (48)
Inverleven (20)
Isle of Jura (98)

Kilchoman (31)
Kilkerran (
12) - Kinclaith (7)
Kininvie
(3)
- Knockando (
31)
Ladyburn (10) - Lagavulin (124)
Laphroaig (379) - Ledaig (91)
Linkwood (125) - Littlemill (101)
Loch Lomond (35)
Lochside (65)
Longmorn (195) - Longrow (62)

Macallan (262) - Macduff (62)
Mannochmore (
35)
Millburn (
21)
Miltonduff (
61) - Mortlach (155)
Mosstowie (1
9)
Oban (25) - Octomore (16)
Old Fettercairn (28)
Old Pulteney (71)

Scapa (36) - Speyburn (28) - Speyside (16)
Springbank (2
64)
St-Magdalene (46)
Strathisla (
95) - Strathmill (30)
 
 
Pete and Jack



2017
May 1
April 1 - 2
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2016
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

2015
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

2014
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

2013
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

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
January 1 - 2

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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The Magical History
of the Great
Brora Distillery
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.

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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,
2002-201
7

 


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May 26, 2017


Whiskyfun

The Little sessions, two Teaninich

Easy, quick, with no fuss, no hassles, and hopefully good whisky.

Teaninich 10 yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, +/-2010)

Teaninich 10 yo (43%, Flora & Fauna, +/-2010) Three stars I believe this is a late F&F bottling. To my amazement, I’ve never tried this baby before. Colour: straw. Nose: very bready! I would believe it’s some Austrian malt just distilled in Tyrol and matured in small alpine oak casks for a few months. Quite. So bread, sour dough, plenty of porridge, and a curious smokiness. Charcoal smoke? Some hay as well. Mouth: full-bodied, very malty indeed, with notes of spicy bread, croissants, cereals, then rather lemon cake. A dryness in the background, around tea. Finish: medium, a tad sweeter, and always very bready. Comments: there’s something honest in this malty baby, for lack of a better term. Very textured/oily, which I hadn’t expected. SGP:352 - 82 points.

Teaninich 22 yo 1993/2016 (51.9%, Cadenhead, sherry wood, 258 bottles)

Teaninich 22 yo 1993/2016 (51.9%, Cadenhead, sherry wood, 258 bottles) Three stars and a half This baby has been resting in sherry since 2013. Probably not first fill, according to the colour.  Colour: gold. Nose: ah, nice! Shoe polish and old tin boxes, copper coins, walnuts, fern, carbolinium, bitter oranges, a little oak dust at a cabinetmaker’s, and quite some dried beef, whether Grisons meat or American jerky. Unusual and very nice. With water: falls back into line. Rounder, softer, with roasted nuts and toffee. Mouth (neat): very unusual. Starts bourbony, gets then very citric (concentrated lemon juice), and switches to more meat after a few seconds. Smoked beef and cold cuts, then pomegranates and cigar ashes. Yes that’s all a little unlikely, but there’s some fun to be had. With water: one/off on/off. Lemon and smoky mole sauce (chocolate), plus ashes. Finish: long, ashy, a little drying. More meat again in the aftertaste. Parma ham with balsamic vinegar. Comments: a little experimental, perhaps, but really worth trying. Indeed, some fun to be had. SGP:362 - 84 points.

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

 

 

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May 25, 2017


Whiskyfun

Four Tomintoul

I haven’t got much to say about Tomintoul. I could tell you a story about camping over there in the heathers and being attacked by midges around 1980, but would that be interesting?

Tomintoul ‘Tlàth’ (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Tomintoul ‘Tlàth’ (40%, OB, +/-2017) Two starsIndeed, that’s the name. In Gaelic that means ‘gentle’. Go figure… No age, little hope. Colour: pale gold. Nose: really gentle. Kellogg’s best (or worst depending on your POV), vanilla cream, brioche, sweet barley, overripe apples. Rather close to that NAS Glenlivet, Something Reserve. Mouth: malt, sweet beer, more overripe apples, a little caramel, some toasted oak, and some custard. Light body. Finish: short, malty. Comments: not too bad and pretty honest. But what was the distillery again? Shall we call it ‘rather unremarkable’? A bit blendy, perhaps? SGP:331 - 72 points.

Okay, we all know Tomintoul can be great, but that one was clearly too young. So, perhaps a much, much older one…

Tomintoul 48 yo 1967/2015 (40.1%, Murray McDavid, bourbon barrel, casks #150031-150032)

Tomintoul 48 yo 1967/2015 (40.1%, Murray McDavid, bourbon barrel, casks #150031-150032) Five stars Given the strength, I guess one of the two casks has been rescued – coz it had gone under-strength. Colour: pale gold. Not any darker than the official NAS. Nose: typical. Soft overripe fruits, apples, pears, plums… Plus various herbal teas, chamomile, lime, orange leaves, a drop of mint essence, a touch of light acacia honey… It’s all whispering low and elegantly. Some apple peelings and asparagus as well… Mouth: rescued indeed, it hasn’t gotten weak, just subtle, very elegant, whispering… Old apples, earl grey tea, soft oak, a touch of sandalwood, ripe bananas, a wee slice of cinnamon cake… It’s not unlike some high-class green tea, perhaps silver needle white tea or something? Finish: a little short, perhaps, but it’s all wonderfully delicate, becoming almondy. Grandma’s old orange wine in the aftertaste. Comments: whether one of them had gone under-strength or not, it was a great idea to vat those two casks. SGP:551 - 90 points.

While we’re at it, let’s check what we’ve got in the library…

Tomintoul 1976/1998 (55.2%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #7334)

Tomintoul 1976/1998 (55.2%, Scotch Single Malt Circle, cask #7334) Four stars Always some great whiskies at the SSMC. Colour: full gold. Nose: some full-blown banana and apple combo, bright and trumpeting. Golden syrup, many flowers (dandelions), honeycomb, ripe mirabelles and apricots… No one can be against this style. With water: same style, barley syrup, plum jam, breakfast honey… Mouth (neat): Finish: oily and bright, on mirabelle liqueur – like we make in Alsace. Then rather maple syrup and once again, a wee banana-y side. Nothing too tropical though. With water: good fruity development. Yellow fruits and pale honey. Like. Always bananas in the background. Comments: just very good. SGP:651 - 86 points.

Tomintoul 42 yo 1969/2011 (53.1%, The Whisky Agency, Perfect Dram, bourbon, 182 bottles)

Tomintoul 42 yo 1969/2011 (53.1%, The Whisky Agency, Perfect Dram, bourbon, 182 bottles) Five stars This baby just slipped out of my tulip glass, time to try it. Colour: pale gold. Nose: simple and perfect. Sunflower oil, plum nectar, vegetal earth, and basta cosi. With water (neat): superb mentholy/camphory development, with something Chinese (for lack of a better term). Perhaps green fresh pu-erh? Mouth: a superb banana-y arrival, reminding me of some very old unsherried Bunnahabhain, then oranges and citrons. Some sides remind me of the best dry Jurançon wines, if that rings a bell to you. With water: hay and fruit peelings. Finish: medium, complex, fruity an d tea-ish. Comments: shall we call this lost style ‘tea/wine whisky’? The antithesis of modern vanilla-driven whisky. SGP:551 - 90 points.

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

 

 

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May 24, 2017


Whiskyfun

Nineteen Scottish grains,
and four sessions in one

Map

A few days ago I did four sessions that involved only grain whiskies, and had planned to publish those on four different days. Now it’s all been a little tiresome and sometimes not very inspiring, so I’ve decided to publish everything in one go to ease your pain (and mine). Having said that, we’ve found some utter stunners too… (map of the main Scottish grain distilleries courtesy The Whisky Exchange, blue=closed)

 

Part One, silent grains and better ones

A few weeks ago, I drove to a whisky festival here in Mitteleuropa and visited one of the booths where one famous Scottish independent bottler was showcasing a good dozen different bottles. Guess what, all were single grains. All were grains, capice? A scary sign of the times, because I have to say that except for a few old glories, such as some 1960s sherried Invergordons, I always used to think that grain whisky was simply wood-flavoured ethanol, and so highly uninteresting whisky (but is grain even whisky? Yeah I’m at least 110 years late…) Now, I’ve also tasted a few very good old ones from very good casks – I know, a tautology – but most young ones had been totally boring. So, let’s take a deep breath, and… Avoid the young ones. Okay, perhaps one…

Port Dundas 12 yo 2004/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 11340, 247 bottles)

Port Dundas 12 yo 2004/2016 (48.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 11340, 247 bottles) Some 12 yo grain! I have to force myself to go, I have to say… Even if the distillery’s been silented in 2010. Colour: almost white. Nose: ethanol, a bit of vanilla, three jelly babies. Seriously, I’ve known large-brand vodkas that were more talkative. Especially Russians. Mouth: sweet alcohol, Tagada strawberries, Red Bull, vanilla. Finish: little. Supermarket strawberry sweets. Comments: who would shell out 45€ for something as bland as this? Totally love what Douglas Laing are doing generally speaking, they’re up there with the greatest bottlers ever, but to me this young grains is just, well, demoralising. I preferred Haig Club, which says a lot. SGP:310 - 25 points.

Right, I may have to try to bring up WF’s reputation at Douglas Laing’s after that Dundas, because we all know they have very good ones as well… Perhaps with this…

Cameronbridge 32 yo 1984/2016 (56.2%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask # 11342, 254 bottles)

Cameronbridge 32 yo 1984/2016 (56.2%, Douglas Laing, Xtra Old Particular, cask # 11342, 254 bottles) Three stars and a half Colour: pale gold. Nose: ah there, it was a good cask, for it imparted rather notes of tangerines this time, beyond the usual coconut and all the soft vanillin. With water: sawdust, a touch of marzipan, a little butterscotch. Mouth (neat): very nice bourbony touch, more tangerines again, spicy coconut (some Thai sauce involving a lot of coconut oil), basil, coconut balls, some sweet ginger… This is good. With water: good indeed. Always this Asian side, pina colada… Nice freshness. Finish: not too short, with rather more vanilla. Strawberry sweets in the aftertaste. Comments: there’s some of that Irish side that some Scottish grains can display. Very nice old grain, nothing to do with the young Port Something. SGP:530 - 84 points.

Phew…

Garnheath 28 yo 1986/2015 (48.5%, The Cooper’s Choice, bourbon, cask #22156, 410 bottles)

Garnheath 28 yo 1986/2015 (48.5%, The Cooper’s Choice, bourbon, cask #22156, 410 bottles) Maybe only seasoned whisky enthusiasts and bloggers will have noticed that a Garnheath 1986 is something that’s quite rare, since the huge +/-60mio LPA plant got closed quite early in that very year. To tell you the truth, I had never seen any 1986 before. Colour: straw. Nose: some call the grains silent whiskies. How smart. A touch of vanilla, some sweets, perhaps hints of Seven Up… Mouth: no. Not bad, not repulsive, just ‘empty’, despite these nice-ish touches of orange juice. Scotland’s Havana Club, but Havana Club reaches this level at 3 years of age, not at 28. Finish: almost none. Perhaps tinned pineapples? Bottled orange juice? Comments: not ‘bad’, not bad at all, just… … … forgot what I wanted to say. SGP:420 - 65 points.

Since we’re having rare ones…

Caledonian 40 yo 1974/2014 (52.8%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #23630, 213 bottles)

Caledonian 40 yo 1974/2014 (52.8%, Duncan Taylor, Rare Auld, cask #23630, 213 bottles) Four stars It seems that all the good guys who used to do old deluxe blends are bringing out their grains as singles these days. As they would say at Diageo, drink more blends! BTW this distillery was closed in 1987, just so that you know. Colour: gold. Nose: a totally creamy, vanilla-ed, butterscotchy, and bourbony old grain whisky. Some café latte from Starbucks’. With water: sweet sawdust. At a cabinetmaker’s. Mouth (neat): very good for a grain. Notes of gewürztraminer, violets, oranges, litchis, sweet maize (corn)… With water: same, very easy, sweet, quite perfumed, with perhaps Turkish delights. Pleasant notes of green earl grey tea. Finish: a little short, soft, clean, fruity, soft. Comments: really very good. Not quite my thing, but really very good. And soft. SGP:640 - 85 points.

Strathclyde 25 yo 1990/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 11335, 116 bottles)

Strathclyde 25 yo 1990/2016 (51.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 11335, 116 bottles) Two stars Colour: straw. Nose: vodka and a touch of vanilla. Easy sweet liqueurs, a touch of green tea (in the Sahara – not). This can’t harm. With water: nice buttery vanilla and a little overripe strawberry. Buttered popcorn. Mouth (neat): okay. Kirsch and a little Cointreau. Or is that Grand-Marnier? With water: Spanish vanilla liqueur, some nice orange juice, a touch of peach, some sweet sawdust. Finish: medium, a little grassier. Comments: really good, but I think these middle-aged grains need sherry. SGP:530 - 76 points.

Invergordon 43 yo 1972/2016 (49.8%, Whisky Nerds, cask #13-05, 102 bottles)

Invergordon 43 yo 1972/2016 (49.8%, Whisky Nerds, cask #13-05, 102 bottles) Four stars Are they sure that’s the right cereals on the label? Colour: gold. Nose: it’s a fatter spirit, it seems, more pastry-like, with some brioche, shortbread, then rather sultanas and tinned peaches… It’s got something of a youngish own-estate Cognac, I have to say, with also a floral side, nectar… Mouth: ah yes, as often, Invergordon’s rather ‘maltier’ than the others, fatter for sure, better textured, quite oily… Nice oranges, golden syrup, a little sunflower oil, soft caramel, Golden Grahams… All this works. Finish: rather long, with a touch of rum. Nice earthier aftertaste. Some grain, really? Comments: some excellent malty, rather thick grain. Not much else to add. SGP:641 - 87 points.

Six is enough. There will be more grains very soon on WF, as we'll keep tring to separate the good seed from the weeds, as someone famous once said. Perhaps tomorrow...

 

Part Two, a grainy sequel

I’m sorry about that abrupt stop yesterday. So yeah, I was saying that there are more single grains, many more single grains around. An avalanche of single grains, many very old, ‘as usual’, but as we could see, some bottlers do not hesitate to bottle 10 or 12 yo grains these days. Maybe is it the word ‘single’ that sells more than ‘blended’ today, so indeed, why even add malt? Yesterday we had Port Dundas, Cameronbridge, Garnheath, Caledonian, Strathclyde, and Invergordon. Let’s choose other factor… I mean, distilleries today…

North British 21 yo 1994/2016 (48.1%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill barrel, cask #DL10996, 212 bottles)

North British 21 yo 1994/2016 (48.1%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill barrel, cask #DL10996, 212 bottles) Two stars and a half North British, this should be maize… Colour: white wine. Nose: acetone and nail polish remover at first nosing, then more sherbety lemons, a bag of pear drops, and the usual vanilla-coconut combo. It’s soft, it’s not unpleasant, it’s just not very ‘wide’. Mouth: rather nice! Narrow and even a little thin, but it’s not ridden with coconut, and there’s a pleasant vanilla, honey, lemon and green tea thing that happens, and which is, yes, nice. A fair amount of sweet oak in the background, but it’s not quite plankish. Finish: medium, a notch more bourbony. Butterscotch and orange drops, then vanilla and, well, coconut. Comments: I find this one fairly good, and it’s got a little depth. SGP:540 - 79 points.

So we’ve had Port Dundas, Cameronbridge, Garnheath, Caledonian, Strathclyde, Invergordon, and North British…

Cambus 28 yo 1988/2017 (50.1%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 11607, 280 bottles)

Cambus 28 yo 1988/2017 (50.1%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, refill hogshead, cask #DL 11607, 280 bottles) Three stars Colour: white wine. Nose: this one starts a little acetic again, rather on rhubarb wine, ripe kiwis and other green fruity/acidic things, and would rather go on with notes of sweet herbal teas, jelly babies, and some earthy green tea. Isn’t it great to find some earthiness in some grain whisky? Mouth: rather solid, oily, relatively fatter than the usual grain, with good vanilla, sunflower oil, then touches of oranges and more rhubarb. Greatest of news, I do not find any coconut. Finish: medium, with a bigger vanilla and pleasant notes of coffee-Cointreau. Rather nice. A little fennel in the aftertaste. Comments: rather nice indeed, it’s not totally a silent whisky. Plus, Cambus is quite rare (and?) SGP:630 - 80 points.

So Port Dundas, Cameronbridge, Garnheath, Caledonian, Strathclyde, Invergordon, North British, and Cambus done…

Single Grain 1964/2016 (52.1%, Svenska Eldvatten, 5th Anniversary, bourbon barrel, cask #SE 67, 48 bottles)

Single Grain 1964/2016 (52.1%, Svenska Eldvatten, 5th Anniversary, bourbon barrel, cask #SE 67, 48 bottles) Five stars You know the rule, a single grain that wouldn’t tell its name should be Girvan. So let’s assume this is Girvan, I couldn’t quite tell you anyway… Colour: gold. Nose: fully on toasted pastries, butterscotch, polished oak, and vanilla cake. Then lit cigars and leather, with a feeling of ‘Old London Club’. Same hints of burning fir cones as in the Carsebridge. With water: superb! Precious teas and even a little soot. Mushrooms and walnuts, as if this was refill sherry – which it isn’t. Mouth (neat): superb, on teas, tobaccos, and exotic woods. Sandalwood, for example. Some dried figs too, and some marmalade, and some earthy pipe tobacco. Chestnuts stewed in pepper sauce. With water: rather more sweeter and rounder notes, coconut, vanilla, marzipan… Finish: medium, the chestnuts being back. Indeed, cooked in pepper sauce, that’s the oak. Comments: its troubling to find two 90s in a row within a grain session… How bad is it, Doctor? SGP:651 - 90 points.

Port Dundas, Cameronbridge, Garnheath, Caledonian, Strathclyde, Invergordon, North British, Cambus, and Girvan done. The problem is that we haven’t gotten any other grain distilleries in the boxes. No North of Scotland, no Dumbarton, no Lochside grain. Sob. So, perhaps a distillery that we’ve already tried, but a very old one as the ‘last one for the road’?

North British 55 yo 1961/2017 (55.1%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, cask # 13328, 144 bottles)

North British 55 yo 1961/2017 (55.1%, Hunter Laing, The Sovereign, cask # 13328, 144 bottles) Five stars The oldest and the strongest! Were they filling at 80% vol. in the early 1960s? Colour: amber. Nose: sure, anytime. The original distillate is purely anecdotal here, but it was some very talented wood, perhaps sherry? Moss, old nuts (any resemblance… purely accidental), some kind of vinegary camphory syrup, a box of puros, some wonderful leathery oils (castor?)… And some soot, old wine cellar, grandma’s walnut wine, some rancio… With water: more rancio, old cellar, musty things, mushrooms, vinegars… Mouth (neat): strange! This is very old Palo Cortado, this is not whisky. Balsamic vinegar, mead, walnuts, porcini sauce, cracked pepper, mustard… With water: have I already mentioned porcinis? Finish: rather long, dry, really very oxidative dry-sherry, with some thick creamy sweet vinegar. Comments: I’d say this could have worked out with any distillate. Pears, slivovitz, cognac, calvados, column rum… and indeed unsweetened brandy de Jerez and… grain whisky. But I find this old thing extraordinary. Hope they will have re-used the cask, and I’d love to know where it went to. Please? SGP:472 - 93 points.

Ninety-three points to a grain, this takes the biscuit. Ha. More grain later, perhaps…

 

Three, even more grains from Invergordon

With a few exceptions, grain whiskies ought to be old to become palatable. 25 is okay, 30 is good, 40 is really good, and 50 is perfect. Well, that’s my opinion, an opinion that may not please our friends who’ve got thousands of youngish grains in their warehouses (or spreadsheets) and who’d love to be able to sell them as singles - for the prices of single malts, naturally. Now there’s one distillery that usually stands out in my opinion, and that’s Invergordon, but that’s only a vague feeling. Let’s double-check that… (what wouldn’t we do for science?)

Invergordon 21 yo 1994/2016 (52.8%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # DL11091, 204 bottles)

Invergordon 21 yo 1994/2016 (52.8%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # DL11091, 204 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: straw. Nose: sure it’s rather ‘silent’, but it’s rather fresh, not too varnishy, and not acetone-y at all. Having said that there’s really a lot of fresh oak. Planks, chips, shavings… And the obligatory coconut/vanilla. With water: relatively nice, with a little rosewater and orange blossom water. Something oriental, I’d say. You could spread this on some cakes. Mouth (neat): creamy and textured, much fruitier this time, and rather close to American corn whisky. Pears, gooseberries, vanilla, sawdust… With water: the oak gets a tad too loud for me this time. Finish: medium, with a greenish tannicity. Comments: I was ready to go to 80 or 81, but the finish didn’t really please me a lot. But it’s fine grain. SGP:460 - 79 points.

Invergordon 25 yo 1991/2017 (48.3%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, 102 bottles)

Invergordon 25 yo 1991/2017 (48.3%, Cadenhead, World Whiskies, 102 bottles) Four stars and a half Colour: gold. Nose: what-is-this? What’s sure is that it’s unusual, and even funny. Imagine a blend of nail polish remover, café latte, lettuce juice, and morel or porcini powder. No, rather porcini. There’s even a little blue cheese (Roquefort?) and then more bone-dry oloroso. There's always going to be something in any Cadenhead bottle. Mouth (neat): fun. Cigars, pine wood smoke, maple syrup, liquorice allsorts, Mars bar (something our friends the Scots always love, whether deep-fried or not – not the Scots, I mean…), and then bags and bags (and bags) of roasted nuts, peanuts, cashews, pecans, all that. Not to forget walnuts. Really funny, and really good I have to say. Finish: quite long, and this time it’s the coffee that talks. Espresso and latte, both. A welcome touch of earth in the aftertaste. Comments: very smart, very good. Pretty impressed. SGP:551 - 88 points.

Invergordon 1972/2017 (49%, The Whisky Agency for La Maison du Whisky)

Invergordon 1972/2017 (49%, The Whisky Agency for La Maison du Whisky) Four stars I believe this is a brand new one, I haven’t seen a label or a bottle yet. Now we don’t drink labels, do we? Colour: gold. Nose: some varnish and mercurochrome at first nosing, which is a little strange indeed since this ought to be 44 or 45 years old, but there’s a much more delicate development, with soft coconut and vanilla cakes and wee bits of hay and moss. It’s all a little shy, which I find a little bizarre. No off-notes at all, having said that, rather more tropical fruits after one minute. Tiny mangos, perhaps. And, wait, after five long minutes, cigars! Mouth: ah, now we’re talking. This is totally tropical, perhaps some oak-aged high-end pina colada? Some much fortified pina colada. Finish: medium, rather more on cakes. Always quite some coconut. Comments: very very good, just a little too ‘focussed’ at such an old age. SGP:650 - 86 points.

Invergordon 1972/2016 (48.9%, Svenska Eldvatten, 5th Anniversary, cask # SE 068, 96 bottles)

Invergordon 1972/2016 (48.9%, Svenska Eldvatten, 5th Anniversary, cask # SE 068, 96 bottles) Four stars Colour: gold. Nose: totally close to the TWA/LMDW. Same style, just a tad quicker. We’re getting to the cigar box much earlier this time. And there’s perhaps a wee bit of chocolate as well. Mouth: indeed. Perhaps more rosewater this time? Gewurztraminer? Turkish delights? Finish: rather long, rose-y, and tropical. Comments: forgot to mention the pina colada. Totally excellent once again, but I’d rather have malt by Svenska Eldvatten. These notes of gewürztraminer are funny. SGP:650 - 86 points.

 

Part Four, the madness continues

After having heard me call some young grains ‘under-blends’, you must start to believe that I’m a masochist. Nah, it’s just that I really wanted to put my lips into Haig Club Clubman…

Haig Club ‘Clubman’ (40%, OB, +/-2016)

Haig Club ‘Clubman’ (40%, OB, +/-2016) Two stars This is Haig Club’s entry-level sibling, distilled at Cameronbridge. Well, I had thought Haig Club already was rather ‘entry-level’, but I did not find it too bad when I tried it (WF 72). Colour: white wine. Nose: a little caramel and a little toasted oak, plus a little vanilla. Goes unnoticed, but perhaps that was the idea. Mouth: extremely light, but you know what, it’s not unbearable, the sweet oak has been well handled, and the tiny tinned fruits are doing their jobs. Apricots, perhaps. Finish: almost none. Comments: a drink rather than whisky, and I’ve tried some oak-aged vodka that was rather similar. But this isn’t ugly at all, it’s just rather discotheque-y. And I guess it would go down well after having driven a Mini Clubman. Take my word, the John Cooper is fast! SGP:420 - 70 points.

So, Cameronbridge…

Cameronbridge 25 yo 1991/2016 (54.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 11316, 276 bottles)

Cameronbridge 25 yo 1991/2016 (54.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 11316, 276 bottles) Two stars Colour: white wine. Nose: very soft, quite grassy, with fresh almonds and hazelnuts, and some natural vanilla. Not that feeling of heady vanillin, not at all. I’m for it so far. With water: a wee whiff of shoe polish and a little more vanilla. Other than that, it’s all discretion and unobstructiveness. Mouth (neat): well, it’s ‘young’ grain, with jelly babies and some citric sweets, then some fudge and quite some saccharine. With water: very soft and shy. Perhaps a touch of gooseberry. Finish: short, rather on candyfloss. Comments: some ultra-discrete grain whisky, probably from a cask that had become almost as dumb as a fish. To make dearer cocktails? SGP:430 - 72 points.

Which leads us to another 25…

Cambus 25 yo 1991/2016 (55.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 11353, 282 bottles)

Cambus 25 yo 1991/2016 (55.4%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 11353, 282 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: very similar territories. Middle-aged grain from a not-so active cask, I guess there isn’t much to expect, but they keep the prices rather low, so I don't think we ought to complain. With water: a little menthol and eucalyptus from the old wood. That’s rather nice. Mouth (neat): really very similar. Jelly babies or any other forms of fruity jellies, plus lemon drops, perhaps. With water: same, but also with a little barley syrup. Perhaps. Easy and relatively good. Finish: short. Orange cake, perhaps. Comments: benefits from water. SGP:430 - 77 points.

Aren’t we making good progress?

Strathclyde 11 yo 2005/2017 (55.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 11484, 306 bottles)

Strathclyde 11 yo 2005/2017 (55.5%, Douglas Laing, Old Particular, cask # 11484, 306 bottles) Three stars and a half Eleven year old grain, this is scary as hell. Unless… Colour: gold. Nose: hold on, some action! Fudge, vanilla cake, praline, butterscotch… That’s the cask speaking. Perhaps first fill bourbon? With water: fresh coconut balls at a country fair, shortbread, and a lot more butterscotch. Mouth (neat): I like! Coffee, roasted nuts, sweet curry, cloves, loads of vanilla, café latte from a good house (not that one), Lindt’s creamiest milk chocolate… With water: more of all that, with a spicier edge. Sponge cake and nutmeg. Lemon peel in the aftertaste. Finish: long, rather drier. More soft and sweet curry and oranges. Comments: at last! As they say, wood makes the whisky, that’s particularly right with grains (and, IMHO, wrong with proper malts). SGP:551 - 84 points.

Good, a very last one, and I promise we won’t touch another Scottish grain before… perhaps the coming summer?

Caledonian 28 yo 1987/2016 (52.3%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 246 bottles)

Caledonian 28 yo 1987/2016 (52.3%, Cadenhead, bourbon hogshead, 246 bottles) Three stars This baby was distilled one year before the distillery got closed in 1988. So it’s historical, you know. If our friend in Campbeltown have decided to bottle this under this label rather than under the bizarre ‘world whiskies’ one, there must be a reason… Colour: pale gold. Nose: I’m not too sure. On the one hand, it’s got those varnishy and over-bubblegumy notes, yet on the other hand, there are some rather complex oriental touches, orange blossom, rosewater, Turkish pastries… And a curious smokiness. Wood smoke, not peat of course. With water: oh well played, this is some kind of subtle buttered tea blended with tobacco juice (!). Some homemade custard as well. Mouth (neat): my this is strong! Lemon oil and raw Kirschenwasser… With water: very good, but I’m not finding anything really very special. Sweets, vanilla… It seems that it was on the nose that things were to happen. Finish: medium, a little raw. More raw eau-de-vie, tutti-frutti (oh rutti – ach excuse me). Comments: some grain whisky to nose, now we have seen everything. SGP:640 - 82 points.

Didn’t we just give the highest score to an 11 yo Strathclyde? But yeah, I agree and I promise, no more grains before long.

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May 23, 2017


Whiskyfun

Glenlivet ad lib part two

Today some old indies. Game? Shall we do that vertically? 1974-1973-1968-1948-1938, does that sound right? Perhaps we’ll even try an old official… (this little session for Manchester)

Glenlivet 1974/2011 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed label, Rare Vintage)

Glenlivet 1974/2011 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed label, Rare Vintage) Four stars and a half Isn’t it great that G&M would keep using these deliciously outmoded labels? Colour: gold. Nose: typical. Overripe apples, figs, dates, raisins, honeycomb, guignolet (cherry liqueur), tarte tatin, and perhaps these very fashionable tarts, lemon and basil. A wee slice of pecan pie as well. All that is singing in unison, everything goes as planned. Mouth: alternately dry (chocolate) and fruity (oranges), with some oak but not too much, and a growing tartness, very enjoyable. Limoncello aged in toasted oak? I’m also finding apricots and perhaps a handful of raspberries, which is very cool, and which really lifts this baby. Only the low strength made it a tiny wee tad thin(nish). Finish: medium, orange-y, with the usual mint and eucalyptus (there must be an eucalyptus forest behind G&M’s warehouse, but I never saw it). The aftertaste is dry (coffee). Comments: an old one that’s kept its fruity liveliness. SGP:561 - 89 points.

Glenlivet 21 yo 1973/1994 (50%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection)

Glenlivet 21 yo 1973/1994 (50%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection) Four stars and a half No mention of Minmore on this label, ha! Colour: gold. Nose: creamy pastries and syrups abound in this nose, first orange and honey cakes, then barley syrup and almond milk. It’s not unlike the official 14 that we had last time, only with a richer and rounder profile. A few medicinal touches in the back of the background (embrocations and bandages), but those were sometimes to be found in this ‘small cream labels’. Do not ask me why. With water: chalkier and breadier, all for the good of the whisky nations. We’re going back to the raw ingredients. Mouth (neat): it’s quite amazing that we would be so close to the G&M 1974. Same tart fruits on a bed of dry oak and chocolate. Orangettes (zests dipped into chocolate). With water: just excellent. Oranges, brioche, lemon liqueur, liquorice mints, and a touch of honey flavoured with natural vanilla. Finish: long, round, perfectly citric, thus very fresh. Comments: we could spend a whole evening debating the respective merits of the 1974 and 1973. The 1973 has more power, the 1974 was a tad more complex. Conclusion… SGP:551 - 89 points.

Glenlivet 20 yo 1968/1989 (50.6%, Signatory Vintage, casks #5868-5877, 600 bottles)

Glenlivet 20 yo 1968/1989 (50.6%, Signatory Vintage, casks #5868-5877, 600 bottles) Five stars Hold on! This was the first bottling ever under the Signatory Vintage label, mind you! So this is totally historical (trumpets and drum rolls please…) Oh and for more fun, I’ve noticed that just like Cadenhead are still doing, SigV used to specify that this baby was ‘matured in oak wood’. Now, indeed, it’s said that there were also a few chestnut casks remaining at that time… So, my bad. Colour: gold. Nose: mentholy fruits, that’s something that always works. Quinces, pears, almonds, and a few mint leaves. Crushed. Then honey, barley water, and oranges. Impeccable. With water: gets beehive-y, well in the style of many an old Speysider that was distilled in the 1960s. Pollen, honey, warm pinewood, beeswax… That, I cherish. Mouth (neat): exceptional. Mead, orange liqueurs, many honeys, white spices, very ripe dried figs, and half a glass of old sweet muscat or something. Rivesaltes. With water: a little raw oak coming to the surface, otherwise I’m finding some ale, arrack, and a drier honeyness. Don’t add to much water please. Finish: long, and waxier. Oranges and waxes. Comments: totally excellent. Much belated congratulations, Andrew! ;-) SGP:651 - 91 points.

Glenlivet 1948/2010 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed label)

Glenlivet 1948/2010 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, licensed label) Four stars and a half Don’t we all so love this label! Sure it’ll cost you between 4,500 and 5,500 € should you want to buy a bottle now, but at least no robber would ever steal it from you, given the simplicity of the livery. They’ll rather take your Dalmore 12 ;-). Now, 1948, I think those were still the peaty years at many distilleries, since fuel was still in short supply after WWII. That was when peat was still used to malt the barley, not just as a flavouring agent. Colour: gold, so surprisingly pale. Nose: oh… An old country house after a very hot summer day (so not quite in Scotland, right). Warm pinewood, plaster, various waxes and polishes, menthol, linseed oil, fabric, old curtains… Then some kind of old hygienic liqueur, with natural tar, orange zests, more menthol… It’s all extremely delicate, a tad resinous, and rather nostalgic indeed. Let’s hope the palate stayed alive… Mouth: you bet! As often with these very old whiskies, it got very waxy, and kind of tea-ish, with obvious tannins and dry herbs (and bitter cocoa), but the oranges inside kept it afloat, and even rather bright. Fairly bright, I’d say. Sure it flickers a bit, and was about to get frankly tannic, but I believe the excellent specialists at G&M’s bottled it right before it was too late. Well done. Finish: like when you had three cups of black tea, flavoured with bits orange zests and quite some mint. Comments: mind you, this baby was 62 when they bottled it! Amazing… SGP:571 - 88 points (S., you Philistine!)

Good, since we were having vintages ending wit and 8, let’s jump over the war…

Glenlivet 1938/1980 (40%, OB for HM Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday, Edinburgh crystal decanter)

Glenlivet 1938/1980 (40%, OB for HM Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday, Edinburgh crystal decanter) Two stars and a half A story about royals and other typical UK stuff. We never quite understand all these things in France, do we. This one too is worth a little money, but hold on, wasn’t the Queen Mother rather fond of some kind of martini involving gin and Dubonnet? Colour: deep gold. Nose: pre-war whisky’s always different. In this case, it’s much oilier, and I even find olive oil. Now the whole’s a tad shy, whispering, very delicate, and perhaps a little fragile. Mind you, 42 years in wood plus 37 years in a decanter! Hints of thyme and rosemary, chocolate, very old armagnac, cured ham, old cigars that dried out, old wardrobe, fresh mushrooms, a little plasticine… Indeed it’s a little fragile. Mouth: well, not exactly fragile, this baby still roars and kicks you slowly, it just got a little disjointed, just a little. Cocoa powder and black tea from teabags, coffee, sour fruits (sour apples), and orange wine. Finish: almost short, rather on sour oranges, black tea, and cocoa. Comments: rather anecdotal but I’m sure it’s better than the Bell’s 8 yo that was bottled for the Queen Mother’s 100th Birthday back in 2000. Now with all due respect, that’ll be (while keeping in mind that this is an old decanter)… SGP:241 - 78 points.

(Grazzie Massimo)

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May 22, 2017


Whiskyfun

Glenlivet ad lib

It was about time we tasted more Glenlivet. We’ll try to have quite a bunch, from young youngsters to super-old legends. But we may need to split this into two parts…

Glenlivet 12 yo ‘First Fill’ (40%, OB, +/-2017)

Glenlivet 12 yo ‘First Fill’ (40%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars This baby’s said to be a bottling that’s exclusive to France (although as usual, you’ll find it elsewhere), and it was fully matured in first fill bourbon barrels. It’s a new livery. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a rather light one, with some overripe apples, whiffs of yellow flowers, a touch of honey, a touch of vanilla, and a wee feeling of ginger and nutmeg, possibly from the oak. Well, certainly from the oak. It’s all approachable and smooth. More warm butter after a few minutes. Mouth: young and rounded, with pears and again a little nutmeg, as well as coconut and vanilla from the casks. It’s all rather light, but not quite ‘empty’. Some ripe kiwis, and ripe bananas as well. Finish: rather short but clean and fruity. Nice balance. Comments: an easy dram with just a little more oak than usual. Too good points above the Founder’s Reserve in my book. SGP:441 - 80 points.

Shall we play?...

Glenlivet 12 yo (45.7%, OB, Baretto, Italy, +/-1972)

Glenlivet 12 yo (45.7%, OB, Baretto, Italy, +/-1972) Five stars This rare ‘unblended’ old bottle claims it’s ‘the only genuine Glenlivet’ on the label. It’s form that era when many other Speysiders were using the suffix ‘-Glenlivet’. Colour: pale gold. Nose: as expected, this is a fatter and richer style, more phenolic and bready at the same time, with these metallic notes that we enjoy so much (grandpa’s old toolbox), as well as a very dry fruitiness. I’m thinking rhubarb, or plantains… There’s also a rooty side, with some celeriac and perhaps a little manioc (as far as I can remember). The whole is pretty perfect. Mouth: an amazing peppery, metallic, lemony and rooty arrival. A feeling of smoked apples – should you manage to smoke apples – and then bergamots and bitter oranges. There were also ‘unblended’ Glenlivets at 40 and 43% but this one’s clearly superior. Perfect touches of mint and lemongrass coming out after a few minutes, as well as a clearer peatiness. Finish: long, rich, superbly sooty, lemony, and mineral. Comments: these ones were rather extraordinary. SGP:552 - 90 points.

I’ve got an idea…

Glenlivet 15 yo (45.7%, OB, Baretto, Italy, +/-1972)

Glenlivet 15 yo (45.7%, OB, Baretto, Italy, +/-1972) Five stars Colour: pale gold. Nose: one further step towards depth and phenolness. It also seems that there was more sherry in this one, since I’m finding quite a lot of cigars and walnuts, then bitter oranges. A few used matches – all great – and some coal, that old toolbox again, and certainly fewer fruits than in the old 12. Impeccably dry. Mouth: amazingly big, assertive, restless, and even a little coastal. Current Glenlivets got much smoother and easier. This one’s also clearly peated, sooty, there’s a little mustard, more cigars, more walnuts, and some waxy/salty lemons. A wee touch of cardboard, perhaps, which most certainly comes from all those years spent in the bottle, while the 12 had remained brighter. Now the whole remains extraordinary. Finish: long, salty, with grapefruits and some salt, plus a sooty aftertaste. Comments: I won’t go above the 12 because of the little touches of cardboard, but otherwise that would have been 91 or 92. Magnificent whiskies, those old Glenlivets, and the 20 in the same series was quite something as well. SGP:462 - 90 points.

Let’s keep following our logic…

Glenlivet 15 yo (80°proof, Gordon & MacPhail, +/-1970)

Glenlivet 15 yo (80°proof, Gordon & MacPhail, +/-1970) Four stars and a half Colour: full gold. Nose: this one has even more sherry, and I guess we could almost call it a sherry monster. Gunpowder and walnuts, black truffles, cigars, grounded coffee beans, beef stock, earth, Maggi… You know the song, don’t you. Perfect. Mouth: fatter then the OB, almost creamy, with more Seville oranges and even ginger, then a perfect citrusy development (tangerines, blood oranges), and rather less dry sherriness than on the nose. It’s a very rich old Glenlivet, having said that, and it would become spicier by the second. Nutmeg, cinnamon mints, coriander… Finish: rather long, with more pepper. Lemon-pepper-honey. Comments: it hasn’t got the peat that was to be found in the old OBs, but it is another stunning old Glenlivet. SGP:551 - 88 points.

Perhaps another OB, of similar age?

Glenlivet 14 yo ‘Glassachoil’ (59.3%, OB, Single Cask Edition, cask #634, 2016)

Glenlivet 14 yo ‘Glassachoil’ (59.3%, OB, Single Cask Edition, cask #634, 2016) Three stars This baby was bottled in October last year. Colour: pale gold. Nose: very sharp, very grassy. Green apples (granny smith), some damp chalk, gooseberries, some vanilla, hints of raisins… This shy (so far) baby may well need water. With water: a little porridge, muesli, oak juice… It’s all quite narrow. Mouth (neat): very strong of course, fruity and with many bonbons. Pears, pineapples… Feels very young and, I have to say, a little raw. With water: easier, sweeter, with good fruits, and these sweets as well yet again. More pineapples, perhaps bananas, and marshmallows. Finish: medium, fruity, rather simple. Comments: good distillate matured in a very good cask, and so a very good ‘technical’ whisky, but I think it’s lacking a little magic. Or, as they say, idiosyncrasies. SGP:641 - 81 points.

We’ll have more (older) Glenlivet very soon…

(Angus, Carsten, thank you)

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May 21, 2017


Whiskyfun

Five rums as they come

Really at random! You may expect some rollercoasting… And hopefully one or two proper malternatives.

Secret Distillery 18 yo 1999/2017 (46%, Van Wees, Ultimatum, Nicaragua, barrel #50, 333 bottles)

Secret Distillery 18 yo 1999/2017 (46%, Van Wees, Ultimatum, Nicaragua, barrel #50, 333 bottles) Three stars 333 bottles, isn’t that half-devilish? Colour: gold. Nose: this is Spanish style rum, but it’s fruit-driven and I don’t seem to find any molassy notes, rather a nice combination of copper and pineapples, then overripe apples and bananas. So it’s Latino rum au naturel. Mouth: it’s clean and it’s fruity, and there are bananas, papayas, and touches of coconut. No molassy notes, rather a little honey and, perhaps, sugarcane syrup. Candy sugar. No deep rum, but it does the job. Finish: medium, clean, just a tad sugary, which is normal given the style and the country. Nice hints of cut grass. Comments: there’s a sucrosity, but not sugar as such. One of my favourite Latino rums this year! SGP:540 - 82 points.

Black Rock 16 yo 2000/2017 (57.6%, The Whisky Barrel, Rabbie’s Rum, Barbados, cask #18 BRS)

Black Rock 16 yo 2000/2017 (57.6%, The Whisky Barrel, Rabbie’s Rum, Barbados, cask #18 BRS) Five stars Aw, this should get crazy… The other name for Black Rock is West Indies Rum Distillery (W.I.R.D). Colour: straw. Nose: high esters, Jamaican-style Barbadian rum, coming complete with UHU glue, tyre repair kit, pineapples, olives, and fermenting seaweed. What could go wrong? With water: plus ink, carbon paper, and fresh concrete. Mouth (neat): totally the opposite of the Nicaraguan. Brine, apple vinegar, olive brine, smoked oysters, lemon juice, and raw mezcal. Hits you right between your eyebrows. With water: more salt, smoked stuff, and lemony extravaganzas. Finish: very long, papery, in a good way. Smoked cardboard and burnt fish. Or the other way ‘round… Comments: these Black Rocks are not debatable. Having said that, it’s a distillery I’m not too familiar with, don’t we learn every day? SGP:464 - 90 points.

Botran 15 yo ‘Reserva Solera’ (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2017)

Botran 15 yo ‘Reserva Solera’ (40%, OB, Guatemala, +/-2017) Two stars Ouch. Let’s be honest, the use of the word ‘solera’ with anything but sherry (and a few other wines) often sounds like ‘we’re trying to cheat on you’. But you never know… Colour: gold. Nose: of course, after the uproarious Black Rock, we don’t feel much. Hello? Molasses check, caramel check, corn syrup check… But other than that… Hello? Mouth: good news, it’s not sugary, it’s even pretty dry. Now it wouldn’t talk much, there are bananas, there’s some tinned pineapple, there’s some vanilla, and there are a few, very tiny winey touches. Let’s call them fermenting raisins. Finish: short, a little burnt. Comments: some shy rum, rather dry, a little boring, not quite a sipper in my opinion, but no scandals to indicate. Let’s move on… SGP:341 - 72 points.

Port Mourant 10 yo 2005/2016 (55%, Cave Guildive, Guyana)

Port Mourant 10 yo 2005/2016 (55%, Cave Guildive, Guyana) Five stars So from Diamond, made in the old Port Mourant pot still, and bearing the MPM mark. I can’t see what could go wrong, especially since a Hampden by the same very distinguished Swiss bottler just blew me away a few weeks ago. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s the young age that does the trick. We’re used to older, rather smoother Port Mourants (or Morants), but this is different, very briny, mezcaly, intense, rubbery (in a good way)… We’re almost nosing brand new wellies in a small shop somewhere in the Highlands of Scotland. Or a brand new Macintosh (yes we’re following through on those matters)… With water: I remember, a long time ago, having been a passenger in a fairly new Trabant, in East Berlin. And, just a few months ago, in an old Polski Fiat in La Habana. Mouth (neat): bang. Salt, lime, rubber, tar, smoked fish, and an ‘old’ pineapple. With water: salted leatherette and, oh miracle, touches of melons. Finish: the tail of the comet, with only lime and salt. A funny feeling. The rubber’s back in the aftertaste. Comments: such a smart selection. Uff Widerluege! SGP:463 - 90 points.

Eenie meenie…

Prichard’s Fine Rum (40%, OB, USA, +/-2017)

Prichard’s Fine Rum (40%, OB, USA, +/-2017) Two stars and a halfThis was distilled in Tennessee, and apparently, it’s meant to be ‘the first authentic American Rum to be distilled in the United States since the early days of America’s history’. Yeah and? Now it’s also ‘a historically accurate recreation of the Colonial rums produced over 200 years ago.’ Uh… Colour: gold. Nose: it’s okay. A little varnish, some vanilla, a few marshmallows, and a touch of oak. Indeed this is relatively ‘fine’, and the wood was good. Mouth: seriously, this is relatively honest, and clearly unusual. It’s just as if you were eating (yes, eating) a whole pack of pipe tobacco. I don’t think I’ve ever found this much tobacco in any spirit. Smokers who’ve smoked untipped Cravens or Bensons in their younger days will understand what I mean… Finish: rather long, pleasantly sour, and indeed, totally tobacco-ish. Some caramel in the aftertaste. Comments: it’s a good surprise. The stories are a bit unlikely, but the product’s interesting. Distilling tobacco, that’s not a bad idea… ;-). SGP:372 - 77 points.

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May 20, 2017


Whiskyfun

 

 

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

Three Port Charlotte

In anticipation of heading to Islay for this year’s festival at the end of the month and as a new private bottling of Port Charlotte by Ralfy crossed my path this week I though a few Port Charlottes wouldn’t go amiss Serge.

 

Port Charlotte 10 yo ‘Second Edition’ (50%, OB, 2016)

Port Charlotte 10 yo ‘Second Edition’ (50%, OB, 2016) I wasn’t totally blown away by the first batch of this one but Port Charlotte is always a fun whisky to follow... Colour: Gold. Nose: All on farmyards and ash at first. I find Port Charlotte by far the farmiest of Islay whiskies. Goes on pleasantly with kelp, brine, oysters and some lemon juice. Some nice smoky barley notes after a while, like peated porridge oats if such a thing exists (if it doesn’t it damn well should!). With water: becomes a little lighter with water, some beach bonfire smokiness, really and ember like smokiness. A little more assorted citrus fruit and sea greens. Mouth: I think the 50% really works here, the delivery is powerful but not over the top and the farminess brings a nice consistency with the nose. Some green fruit such as gooseberry and green apple peelings. Twistings of white pepper, smoked tea, iodine and some wet wool and pebbles. With water: ah, this really works well with water. A lovely combination of something like sea water, iodine and lemon peel. Some peat oils, green fruit and a lithe tarry note as well. Finish: Good length, oily, citrusy and with a resurgent farmy echo. Comments: A very solid and idiosyncratic Islay malt. Very well made and put together in my opinion. One for friends and late nights. SGP: 558 - 90 points.

 

 

Port Charlotte 2007/2016 ‘CC:01’ (57.8%, OB, Travel Retail Exclusive, ex-Cognac casks)

Port Charlotte 2007/2016 ‘CC:01’ (57.8%, OB, Travel Retail Exclusive, ex-Cognac casks) Bruichladdich seem to have quite a few Travel Retail bottlings these days. Colour: Light gold. Nose: Hotter, ashier, angrier and obviously younger than the 10. A ‘tantrum’ of peat in the glass. Some sharp notes of lemon juice, green olives, mercurochrome and after a little while more farmy notes. I wonder if we could start calling these farmy notes in Port Charlotte ‘trademark’ Serge? If they’re still there in 10 years how about the ‘Brora of Islay’?  Goes on with smoked grist, engine oil and all manner of seashore aromas. I think water is obligatory here... with water: the peat becomes softer and sort of wider, like an organoleptic peat quilt (???). It also brings out some quite deft notes of lemongrass, gorse, cocoanut and even something a little minty. Really lovely nose. Mouth: Surprisingly soft at cask strength and here the Cognac seems to have a voice with some kind of unexpected raisiny, syrupy notes. A little jarring with the peat which feels a little disjointed as a result. But there are plenty of pleasingly citrusy, oily and coastal sideshows going on to make it perfectly quaffable all the same. With water: water seems to cure the slightly jarring Cognaciness. Becomes more medicinal as a result, quite strikingly so in fact with notes of pure hospital, gauze and various medical tinctures. Finish: Long, lemony, ashy, medical and with some unabashed, raw, green peatiness. Comments: What’s most impressive is that you really forget that this one is only about 8 years old. I prefer the 10 but overall quality is still high. SGP: 549 - 87 points.

 

 

Port Charlotte 12 yo (56.2%, Ralfy.com, sherry hogshead, cask #941, 233 bottles)

Port Charlotte 12 yo (56.2%, Ralfy.com, sherry hogshead, cask #941, 233 bottles) A private bottling by the beloved and (in)famous Ralfy, king of the whisky Vlogosphere and sold by the mighty folks at The Good Spirits Co in Glasgow. (They may have some bottles left). Colour: Deep amber. Nose: There is bacon frying in a forest and everyone has shown up in muddy boots to eat it. Of all the modern Islay distillates I think that Port Charlotte is probably one of the best at knitting itself together with an active sherry cask and on the evidence so far this one is pretty clean, earthy and alive with a kind of nervous Atlantic saltiness which is very pleasing to the nostrils. Goes on with hints of dunnage, compost and more farmyard notes which balance well with the saltier aspects. With water: Leafier, earthier and more organic with notes of pipe tobacco, a little rancio, some fresh Manzanilla and a big whack of peat and green olives. Mouth: A lean and salty beast at first! Big notes of salted almonds, kippers, black olives in brine and various posh cured meats. The sherry is impressively clean and gives a nice leathery, leafy impression with plenty room for the peat to swish its blade about. With water: Tar, rope, dunnage, peat oils, more brine. This is a beast of a thing but farmy, coastal, thick and quite a bit of fun. Goes on with some tea tree oil, notes of Rhum agricole and various oils. Finish: Long, fat, earthy, tarry and gently coastal on the fade. Comments: A really good, clean sherry cask which worked beautifully with some top notch Port Charlotte distillate. I tend to find a lot of modern, peated Islay whiskies can feel a little clumsy in sherry casks these days, but this one was a winner. SGP: 548 - 91 points.

 

 

 

May 19, 2017


Whiskyfun

Little names, today three Glen Spey

As you may know, we like to do wee flights of these little known names, such as Glen Spey. We’ve already found rather good ones in the past, so, there’s hope. First, as usual, the apéritif…

Glen Spey 12 yo (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna, +/-2015)

Glen Spey 12 yo (43%, OB, Flora & Fauna, +/-2015) Two stars I believe they were still bottling this one just very recently. Not too sure. There’s a little goldcrest on the label, which is ‘Britain’s smallest bird’. In the literal sense, of course. Colour: straw. Nose: we’re never been this close to lager beer, mixed with porridge and some kind of smoky dairy cream. I’m not saying this is feinty, not at all, but it is very dry. Mouth: austere, rigorous, rather narrow, malty and grassy, with a little apple compote as well. Brut cider. A touch of vanilla, a touch of peppery oak. The body isn’t too light. Finish: medium, rather grassy, with a porridgy background and a little white pepper. Perhaps a wee touch of soap and a little earth. Comments: it’s always good to test our pivotal 75-mark. SGP:341 - 75 points.

Glen Spey 13 yo 2000/2014 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #263)

Glen Spey 13 yo 2000/2014 (46%, Berry Bros & Rudd, cask #263) Two stars and a half Colour: white wine. Nose: similar, perhaps a tad more mineral, with some cut grass and a chalky, flinty side. Other than that, plenty of beer, cider, and indeed porridge. Shall we call it another anti-sexy malt whisky? It’s not easy to find much pleasure here… Mouth: a little better, with a sweeter arrival, with some welcome citrus, cider apples, a handful of Haribo bears, and perhaps some seaweed. Nori, the ones they use with sushis, you know… Finish: medium, rather pleasant, with a growing sweet and bready malty side. Comments: fair, drinkable, pleasantly malty. A good drop and hey, everyone needs to try Glen Spey at least once. A fair opportunity. SGP:441 - 78 points.

Glen Spey 1991/2015 (56.1%, Pearls of Scotland, cask #800276, 318 bottles)Glen Spey 1991/2015 (56.1%, Pearls of Scotland, cask #800276, 318 bottles)

Glen Spey 1991/2015 (56.1%, Pearls of Scotland, cask #800276, 318 bottles) Two stars A rather large outturn at full strength, was that a refill butt? Colour: straw. Nose: papers, ink, chalk, cardboard, not much else. Perhaps wee whiffs of fern? Pot-pourri? All that is just murmuring… With water: hints of vanilla and barley syrup. Mouth (neat): malty and grassy, with touches of roasted nuts, cereals, grass, lemon, cereals, grass, lemon, cereals, grass, lemon… With water: same. A grassy bitterness in the background. Finish: medium, grassy, malty… Hints of bitter beer. Comments: it’s the oldest, and yet the simplest of them three. Elementary malt whisky, perhaps rather fillers for blends? SGP:341 - 72 points.

Not the most entrancing session ever, I agree. Tomorrow, it's going to be seventeen Brora 1972! If only…

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

 

 

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May 18, 2017


Whiskyfun

American whiskeys, part two

No bacon or honey or ginger or whatever this time, only pure American bourbon (I know, some pleonasm)… Wait, unless, another strange whisky… BTW, this session too is for Steve ;-).

Koval ‘Millet’ (40%, OB, American whiskey, +/-2016)

Koval ‘Millet’ (40%, OB, American whiskey, +/-2016) Three stars I really enjoyed the other wiskeys that Koval are making over there in Chicago, now using millet, a grain that’s rather to be found in Africa, is rather unusual. Colour: gold. Nose: some sides remind me of rye, but other than that, we’re going towards caraway, fennel seeds and aniseed, with also a mentholy touch. Fresh and unusual indeed. Mouth: sweet and fruitier than most American whiskeys, starting with ripe apples and pears, and going on with tangerines, agave syrup, and raspberry honey. I think the strength is a tad low, though, a little more oomph would have been welcome. Finish: a tad short, but nicely fruity, with some oak spices in the aftertaste, especially cinnamon. Comments: it reminded me of some European whiskies, especially some German ones. I liked this fruity little millet. SGP:541 - 80 points.

Garrison Brothers 4 yo 2012/2016 (47%, OB, for Peter Siegenthaler, Texas bourbon, barrel #3440)

Garrison Brothers 4 yo 2012/2016 (47%, OB, for Peter Siegenthaler, Texas bourbon, barrel #3440) Four stars Peter Siegenthaler, proud owner of Cadenhead Switzerland, selected this barrel himself while on location ‘in Hye, Texas (population 105!)’ Colour: deep gold. Nose: a rich breakfast in Middle-Europe. Various wholegrain breads, many grains and spices (poppy seeds, juniper, cloves, cumin), some awesome yet rather heady flowers (elderflowers, woodruff), and just a lovely earthy spiciness that screams ‘I’m genuinely craft’! Mouth: big, earthy, spicy, and very orangey. Some kind of spicy cinnamon-and-orange cake, notes of apricots and peaches, liquorice wood, ginger, and perhaps marzipan-filled dates. Finish: long, with some juniper and cloves again, cinnamon, and always this sweet bready side. Very nicely balanced oakiness. Comments: I think I like this cask better than the ‘regular’ Garrison Bros. bourbon from two years ago. It was worth the trip to Hye, Texas (population 105!), Peter. SGP:561 - 86 points.

Jim Beam ‘Double Oak’ (43%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2017)

Jim Beam ‘Double Oak’ (43%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2017) Two stars and a half Twice barrelled? In new oak? Oh my, this is scary, why would any sane soul do that? Better have smelling salts and a box of tissues ready… Colour: gold. Nose: not much, it’s a sharp fall after the Swiss Garrison. It’s trying to go towards some of the craft whiskeys, with indeed some bready and cake-y vanilla and grains, and indeed I’m even finding touches of tequila in the back, and… wait wait wait, it’s actually not un-nice at all, just a little shy. What’s miraculous is that it doesn’t quite smell of new planks. Mouth: indeed, it’s not un-nice. Pleasant fruits (pineapples) plus a little coffee and walnut cake. Really, not un-nice. Finish: medium, perhaps a tad too oaky for me, but we’re navigating below the limits. Pineapples again in the aftertaste. Comments: perhaps more ‘craft’ than the brand’s 12 yo 'Signature Craft'. A good surprise, I could sip this. SGP:540 - 79 points.

Tennessee Bourbon 2003/2017 (52.6%, The Whisky Agency)

Tennessee Bourbon 2003/2017 (52.6%, The Whisky Agency) Three stars and a half George Dickel’s the serious option . And this baby's very good, I suppose. Colour: dark gold. Nose: it’s a superb cake, made out of fudge, shortbread, sunflower seeds, pecan nuts, grated coconut, and milk chocolate. I’d call this style mildly decadent. With water: some earthy ryeness coming out, always for the good. A wee bit of rubber too (tyres). Mouth (neat): bites you a bit at first, with some strong green tea (the oak speaking out), and gets then very cake-y again, with some walnut cake, various roasted nuts, touches of bitter oranges, and a few bits of pipe tobacco. With water: some honey and maple syrup, but the background remains very cake-y and nutty. Finish: long, on, well, nuts. Some drier kind of Nutella, perhaps. Comments: I think I enjoyed the younger Valinch & Mallet from last time a little better, for it was brighter and more lively. SGP:451 - 84 points.

So, younger ones…

Fine Tennessee Whiskey 5 yo 2011/2016 (51.4%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel)

Fine Tennessee Whiskey 5 yo 2011/2016 (51.4%, Whisky-Fässle, barrel) Three stars and a half From a charred American white oak barrel, which doesn’t come as a complete surprise, does it? Colour: deep gold. Nose: we’re close, oh so close to the 2011 by Valinch & Mallet. This one’s perhaps just a notch more on pastries, brioche, and shortbread. Nice smoky tobacco. With water: orange blossom honey and grated zests. Mouth (neat): starts with pencil shavings, goes on with bitter oranges and a touch of lavender sweets. Cinnamon mints. With water: richer, rather oaky, and in that sense just a wee bit tiring. Now the oranges save it. Finish: rather long, with a little sawdust and quite some cinnamon-and-orange cake. Some gingery oak in the aftertaste. Comments: truly excellent, but I’m starting to feel the need for m.a.l.t.e.d. b.a.r.l.e.y. SGP:451 - 83 points.

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

 

 

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May 17, 2017


Whiskyfun

American whiskeys
for Steve

Some American whiskeys, at random, some new, some older bottlings, some official, some independent from Europe… And one crazy apéritif!... This little session is a tribute to my friend whisky blogger extraordinaire and truly independent voice Steve aka Sku, who just decided to close his blog, much to my disappointment. Steve! We need more amateurs like us, remember professionals built the Titanic! (I know, a dubious quote)...

Steve

Ol' Major Bacon Infused Bourbon (35%, OB, USA, Tennessee, +/-2017)

Ol' Major Bacon Infused Bourbon (35%, OB, USA, Tennessee, +/-2017) Love to read this on the brand’s website, ‘we think it's time that the American people stop restricting where this beautiful pork finds its way.’ I have to say I very rarely eat bacon, so imagine in my whisky… But then again, I'm not an American. Colour: gold. Nose: very bizarre, rather smoky, with hints of burnt fat, beef jerky, and, I suppose, bacon. Really, I don’t know what to think. Mouth: it was sweetened, apparently. A very weird feeling of grilled smoked ham coated with a lot of corn syrup. I’m afraid I can’t drink this, it’s too far from my comfort zone, and I’m not sure it wouldn’t make me throw up if I took more than half a drop in my mouth. What’s more the fatty side is totally unpleasant to me, but I guess that’s a cultural thing. Finish: probably long, but I’ve already rinsed my mouth out, so I couldn’t tell you. Comments: sits between mustard-flavoured coffee and vinegary bananas. But then again, American bacon lovers may enjoy this very whacky concoction. All a matter of taste indeed. SGP:623 – 20 points (whatever).

PS: you’ll need a lot of water to properly rinse out your glass, those fatty/smoky smells just stick there for hours!

Phew! Tasting whisky is sometimes a high-risk activity, isn’t it. Let’s move on…

Old Virginia 6 yo (40%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2017)

Old Virginia 6 yo (40%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2017) Some rather cheap bourbon owned by French company La Martiniquaise (they also own Glen Moray). As expected, it’s widely available in France. Colour: gold. Nose: round, easy, with a little varnish and nail polish, geranium flowers, and vanilla. A discreet bready side as well, a little rye and caraway… Mouth: a little raw, bubblegumy, with a thin body and some sourness. A feeling of Southern Comfort as well. Finish: short, with some sugar syrup and some vanilla and oak. Comments: to be used for mixing with other ingredients, I suppose. Very budgety, I would say. SGP:441 - 55 points.

Let’s try to up our game…

Wild Turkey 17 yo Batch No.1 (43.4%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2015)

Wild Turkey 17 yo Batch No.1 (43.4%, OB, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, +/-2015) Two stars It says 'crafted with conviction' on the bottle, that's funny. Colour: deep gold. Nose: relatively rounded, with a little varnish indeed at first nosing but that side goes away, then rather acidic fruits (green gooseberries) and a combination of cinnamon and rye bread. A little juniper and caraway, as well as a little sawdust. Maybe not a total noser. Mouth: the oak seems to have taken over, this is rather tannic, while being green ‘inside’. Very dry and very drying, and so a little unpleasant, unless you’re a lover of 90% cocoa chocolate. Or more. Finish: medium, very drying, with some sour wood, very dry rye, and over-infused black tea from last night. Comments: I’m not quite a bourbon guy anyway, but I find this one seriously disappointing given the very high price. SGP:371 - 71 points.

Tullahoma 5 yo 2011/2016 (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, American Sour Mash Bourbon, 244 bottles)

Tullahoma 5 yo 2011/2016 (48.8%, Valinch & Mallet, American Sour Mash Bourbon, 244 bottles) Four stars A single cask from Tullahoma in Tennessee, so quite possibly some Jack Daniel’s under another name. Colour: deep gold. Nose: it’s rather delicate, with these whiffs of geranium flowers yet again, gingerbread, then roasted pecans, maple syrup and orange zests. A little star anise and cumin as well. Nice nose, getting breadier by the minute, which I always find pleasant. Millionaire shortbread. Mouth: first oranges and some spicy oak (caraway and cinnamon), then notes of burnt cake, praline, and pumpernickel. And then some kind of fruity fudge, perhaps blueberries. I find this very good. Finish: rather long, just as spicy, but the aftertaste is rather chocolaty, and not as drying as expected. Comments: one of my favourites amongst the bourbons I’ve tried in recent months. Great balance and punch at the same time. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Only one way of being relatively sure that that was some Jack indeed…

Jack Daniel's ‘Master Distiller Series No.4’ (43%, OB, Tennessee whiskey, +/-2016)

Jack Daniel's ‘Master Distiller Series No.4’ (43%, OB, Tennessee whiskey, +/-2016) Three stars I had found both No.1 and No.12 very okay (WF 80-78). Colour: gold. Nose: it’s fruitier and more floral than the Tullahoma, but also less deep, while the general styles are pretty similar indeed. This official is actually a notch more cologne-y, and rather more geranium and oranges-forward. Touches of sugarcane. Mouth: a little more ‘jumbled’ than the V&M, less well-defined, with a varnishy side that I was expecting, and some slightly excessive marshmallows and bubblegum. Oranges, peaches, even pears… Nice notes of spicy rye in the background. Buckwheat. Finish: a little short and drying, almost abrupt. Cocoa powder. Comments: a fine bourbon for a fair price, only the finish was a little disappointing. Well, it’s not impossible that the Tullahoma was actually some George Dickel after all! SGP:531 - 80 points.

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

 

 

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May 16, 2017


Whiskyfun

Cragganmore by five

This happens quite often, you don’t hear a lot about a distillery, apart from its owners when they do OBs, and pretty suddenly, a new parcel of casks appears on the market and you start to find brand new expressions at many distinguished ‘sub-bottlers’. That’s what’s happening these days with Cragganmore, and indeed we’ll have a few. But first, our usual aperitif…

Cragganmore 2003/2015 ‘Distillers Edition’ (40%, OB, Port finish, CggD 6567)

Cragganmore 2003/2015 ‘Distillers Edition’ (40%, OB, Port finish, CggD 6567) Two stars and a half Yeah, Port pipes. Never been a fan of red wine in whisky, but I may have said that too many times already. What’s sure is that I usually prefer the regular 12 yo OB. Colour: gold, not rosé/red gold. Nose: it’s the very malty side of Cragganmore that comes out first, and it would come with roasted nuts and overripe apples, then rather dark toffee and this je-ne-sais-quoi (how’s my French?) of wood smoke. No Port that I can find, hurray. Mouth: a rather grassy and peppery maltiness in the arrival, then loads of bitter oranges as well as a little ginger. There’s a wee rough and grassy side. The low strength makes the tannic (like) side stand out a bit. Finish: not very long, malty, and slightly grassy/bitter again. Comments: I’ll put my hands on a newer batch of the regular 12 pretty soon. In the mean time… SGP:451 - 78 points.

Now, the indies… How about four 1989s?

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2016 (48.7%, The Mash Tun Tokyo & Club Qing, sherry cask, 160 bottles)

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2016 (48.7%, The Mash Tun Tokyo & Club Qing, sherry cask, 160 bottles) Four stars and a half Another funny retro-futuristic label, this time with cats! Refreshing design… (don’t shrug, London!) Colour: gold. Nose: oh, that old official from two or three years ago! That’s right, the 25 years old. A lovely floral and cerealy start (chamomile, dandelions, barley, popcorn) and then a perfect tarte tatin covered with grated orange zest and three spoonfuls of maple syrup. Some custard too. Lovely, really. Mouth: a little brighter than expected, starting slightly fizzy (Schweppes), with oranges and pink grapefruits, then rather biscuits dipped into orange blossom water. It’s the freshness that’s most pleasant, while the oak imparted spikier touches of ginger and perhaps cardamom. Finish: medium, citric, citrusy, very lively. Some peppery ginger biscuits and Seville oranges in the aftertaste. Some dark chocolate too. Comments: a very zesty old Cragganmore, very fresh and kind of Sevillian. SGP:551 - 88 points.

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2016 (47.8%, Archives, sherry hogshead, cask #1465, 70 bottles)

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2016 (47.8%, Archives, sherry hogshead, cask #1465, 70 bottles) Four stars and a half A micro-bottling, and possibly a very close brother of the previous one. Colour: gold. Nose: the same whisky and yet it’s a wee bit different, so it may not be exactly the same. A tad drier and, well, less emphatic, but that may just be a matter of breathing, time spent in the bottle, and so on. Mouth: we’re so close, so very close… Yet this one’s a little tenser again, a notch grassier and more gingery… But the cores are identical. Finish: same comments. Peppery and shock-full of bitter oranges, with a layer of honey and ‘dry’ raisins. Comments: both are part of the same band and that’s not the Bee Gees. SGP:551 - 88 points.

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2016 (47.8%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt, cask #1465)

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2016 (47.8%, Whisky-Fässle, sherry butt, cask #1465) Four stars and a half Same strength again, but this one’s supposed to be ex-butt and not ex-sherry hogshead. Colour: gold. Nose: a little different, with slightly ‘darker’ notes, chestnut honey, faintly burnt orange cake, and a wee earthy/smoky side ala Highland Park. Other than that, a very similar whisky once again. We shan’t complain. Mouth: yes, once again, we’re extremely close, but I have the impression that there’s a little more oomph in this one, and better-chiselled notes of bitter oranges. But I’m really splitting hairs now, I’m not sure I could tell you which is which, should I try these babies blind. What’s sure is that it’s totally excellent. Finish: same. Perhaps a tad longer, and a notch more ‘crystallised’ and candied. Not too sure… Comments: yeah… SGP:551 - 88 points.

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2017 (52.1%, The Whisky Agency and La Maison du Whisky, hogshead)

Cragganmore 27 yo 1989/2017 (52.1%, The Whisky Agency and La Maison du Whisky, hogshead) Five stars This one from the mother ship! Colour: gold. Nose: crustier, maltier, cakier, and above all, more mineral and earthy, while the background remains very orange-y. More multi-dimensional, with also some camphor, humus, damp pipe tobacco, and autumn leaves. The others where more ‘immediate’, perhaps thanks to the sherry, while this one’s more complex. With water: these notes of fresh plaster and wet chalk that I enjoy so much. A little menthol. Mouth (neat): a lot of peppermint, lemon curd, earthy stuff, drops of cough syrup, mint cordial, bitter oranges as always… I find this extremely good, and perhaps a tad more ‘islands’ than the average Cragganmores. With water: I’ll tell you, it loves water. Totally loves water, totally (Donald, come out of this body!) Cointreau and crème de menthe, with a little wax. Finish: long, soothing, herbal, lemony, mineral, Sancerre-y. Comments: an unusual Cragganmore, perhaps ex-Clynelish wood? Right up my alley – and did I tell you that it loves water? SGP:562 - 90 points.

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

 

 

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May 15, 2017


Whiskyfun

A few more unusual blends

Small brands, small batches, blends by some good indies, and so on. No large commercial brands today!

MacNamara ‘Rum Cask Finish’ (40%, Prában na Linne, blended Scotch, +/-2016)

MacNamara ‘Rum Cask Finish’ (40%, Prában na Linne, blended Scotch, +/-2016) Two stars Long time not tried any whiskies by this wee company of Poit Dhubh fame. They’ve used ex-Demerara wood this time, and did not chill filter the whisky – and yet it’s bottled at 40% - and yet is bright and transparent. Colour: deep gold. Nose: very dry, with some sawdust, wet concrete, toasted wood, and bitter caramel. I’m not finding much rum so far, and I’m finding this extremely austere. Mouth: rather more action this time, with some caramel again, bitter oranges, bitter chocolate, and indeed, perhaps a little lemony and cane-y rum. Not too sure. Tends to become too drying and tea-ish, sadly. Finish: there’s more rum now, one or two black olives, a salty/smoky side, and some bread dough. Comments: the finish was my favourite part. SGP:352 - 72 points.

Usquaebach ‘Reserve’ (43%, OB, +/-2016)

Usquaebach ‘Reserve’ (43%, OB, +/-2016) Two stars According to the brand’s website, this is supposed to be the ‘King of the Blended Whiskies’, ‘The Grand Whisky of the Highlands’, and ‘The First Name in Scotch Whisky’. Aren’t brands their own best advocates? Now we’ve tried an older expression from around seven years ago, and found it very weak (WF 50). Colour: pale gold. Nose: even less happening than in the MacNamara, even though it seems to be a little maltier. Cardboard, hay, caramel, and toasted bread and oak, then nicer notes of earl grey, with a few raisins wandering around as well as a little pipe tobacco. Tends to improve when breathing. Mouth: really not bad indeed. You feel the young malts in the background, with apples and some citrus, a little white pepper, some more tea, and the usual vanilla and cinnamon from the oak. Finish: medium, rather fruity, pretty malty. A touch of peat. Comments: this baby doesn’t quite reach stardom, but it was nicely composed. Huge progress. For when there’s no malt in the house. SGP:452 - 76 points.

Black Mountain ‘B.M. N°1’ (42%, Black Mountain Compagnie, France, +/-2016)

Black Mountain ‘B.M. N°1’ (42%, Black Mountain Compagnie, France, +/-2016) Two stars This baby was blended and finished in French oak casks in the South of France (Occitanie, they say). I believe it’s actually a blend of Scotch whiskies, but they should start distilling themselves next year. Colour: straw. Nose: it’s a rather light and fruity style, with some rather big citrus and cereals, a wee bit ala Bladnoch, with unexpected touches of strawberries, peaches, and a few juicy golden raisins. Very bright, rather lemon-dominated. Mouth: same territories as those of the Usquaebach, with some young malt and some lemon, then bits of sour apples, and a moderate oakiness in the background. A little white pepper and nutmeg. Finish: a little short, and a little grassier. Bread, peelings, grains. Comments: another blend that’s very all right. SGP:451 - 75 points.

Light Creamy Vanilla 18 yo ‘Batch 3’ (44.6%, Cadenhead Creations, blended Scotch, 2017)

Light Creamy Vanilla 18 yo ‘Batch 3’ (44.6%, Cadenhead Creations, blended Scotch, 2017) Four starsIt’s well a blend but the malt content should be very high. Colour: pale gold. Nose: I find it rather floral, with rose petals and pot-pourri, then more vanilla and more malt, as well as whiffs of old wine cellar (with a large pile of apples from last year in a corner). Mouth: by Jove, another excellent creation! Creamy vanilla indeed, but creamy fruit syrups as well, fruit-driven muesli ;-), barley syrup, a touch of peppery orange zest, and some tinned peaches. Perfect mouth feel, with a pleasing only slightly ‘light’ playfulness. Finish: medium, clean, on some fruit salad plus a little custard and the obligatory soft spices. Comments: really good. Didn’t find much grain, I have to say. SGP:551 - 85 points.

Islay Mist ‘Peated Reserve’ (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2017)

Islay Mist ‘Peated Reserve’ (40%, OB, blended Scotch, +/-2017) Three stars Does this baby still shelter 40% Laphroaig? Let’s check that, while remembering that the early Islay Mists could be brilliant, while a recent NAS ‘Deluxe’ had been a huge disappointment. Colour: gold. Nose: certainly not un-nice, relatively light, quite coastal (sea air), and rather peaty indeed. Now if they used ‘Select’ quality Laphroaig, no wonder it’s light. Hints of bandages, burning pinewood, a little chalk, and touches of oranges. Seriously, its seriously pleasant. Mouth: between us, it’ll kill Laphroaig Select, for it’s got less coconut and vanilla, and more coastal dryness. It’s still a little light, but everything’s in place, ashes, brine, iodine, grapefruits… I’m pleasantly surprised. Finish: a little short, but balance is right and character is there. Comments: not my business, but they should do an Islay Mist Cask Strength. I also find it cool that they would keep this slightly controversial brand name. SGP:444 - 81 points.

Let’s find an older bottling and we’re done…

Ainslie's Royal Edinburgh (40%, OB, for Belgium, blended Scotch, +/-1970)

Ainslie's Royal Edinburgh (40%, OB, for Belgium, blended Scotch, +/-1970) Four stars and a half Our friends the Belgians used to be very fond of this Clynelish-fuelled little brand. I believe it’s best to choose the ones that are lighter in colour, such as this one, the dark ones are usually heavily caramelised and bitterish. Colour: gold. Nose: ah yes, it’s one those old blends that could get rather vegetal, with notes of stewed vegetables, beans, even asparagus… But there, in the background, Old Clynelish is roaring, with various minerals, a fat and waxy ‘lighter’ smoke (coal), some graphite, coal tar, seawater… Mouth: brilliant blend, to Old Clynelish what White Horse used to be to Lagavulin. Dry, fat, mineral, oily, waxy, salty, coastal, thick and distinguished at the same time, and actually very chewy given that it’s a blend at some low strength. Finish: long, with a little more citrus. Ashy aftertaste. Comments: you just ‘ate’ some whisky, you didn’t drink it. One of the best old blends but then again, watch the colours. SGP:462 - 89 points.

(Merci Nicolas)

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

 

 

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