Google Whisky Fun by Serge and Angus, blog, reviews and tasting notes since 2002
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Serge whiskyfun

 

Whiskies 19,786
Other spirits 3,346
Angus 2,044

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Index of whiskyfun


Whisky Tasting

 
Aberfeldy (64)
Aberlour (
143)
Abhainn Dearg (3)
Allt-A-Bhainne (
46)
An Cnoc/Knockdhu (
40)
Ardbeg (
508)
Ardmore (
176)
Arran (
153)
Auchentoshan (1
33)
Auchroisk (
45)
Aultmore (
89)
Balblair (109)
Balmenach (
56)
Balvenie (1
49)
Banff (5
4)
Ben Nevis (
330)
Ben Wyvis
(3)
Benriach (
204)
Benrinnes (
11
4)
Benromach (
98)
Bladnoch (
93)
Blair Athol (
126)
Bowmore (
642)
Braes of Glenlivet (
67)
Brora (1
51)
Bruichladdich (3
52)
Bunnahabhain (
4
53)
Caol Ila (822)
Caperdonich (
115)
Cardhu (4
5)
Clynelish (
529)
Coleburn (2
6)
Convalmore (
30)
Cragganmore (
96)
Craigduff (4)
Craigellachie (
139)
Dailuaine (105)
Dallas Dhu (4
2)
Dalmore (1
44)
Dalwhinnie (
44)
Deanston (
74)
Dufftown (
67)
Edradour (105)
Ladyburn (13)
Lagavulin
(
214)
Laphroaig (
5
75)
Ledaig (1
49)
Linkwood (
239)
Littlemill (1
36)
Loch Lomond (
124)
Lochside (7
3)
Longmorn (2
52)
Longrow (
88)
Macallan (355)
Macduff (9
3)
Malt Mill
(1)
Mannochmore (
66)
Millburn (2
5)
Miltonduff (
103)
Mortlach (2
37)
Mosstowie (2
5)
48


2024
March 1 - 2
February 1 - 2
January 1 - 2

2023
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

2022
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

2021
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

2020
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

2019
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

2018
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

2017
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

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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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'

   
       



Copyright Serge Valentin
Angus MacRaild
2002-20
2
4

 


Scotch Legal Announcement


 

 

April 14, 2024


Whiskyfun

  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!

 

Just a few more rums

Cannes

Portion of a press advert for Saint James, late 1970s. Rather witty play
on words about the Cannes Film Festival (canes = cannes in French).

 

We'll try to find one or two more serious aperitifs than in the past. Other than that, as usual, it's going to be a happy mix, there are so many rums at Château WF these days!

Six Saints Caribbean Rum (41.7%, OB, Grenada, +/-2022)

Six Saints Caribbean Rum (41.7%, OB, Grenada, +/-2022) Three stars
Six Saints, that's not me and five chums, mind you. This one's said to stem from Clarke's Court Distillery, where they seem to have been distilling imported molasses since their own sugar factory had been mothballed. We already tried Six saints around nine years ago and found it very okay. Colour: pale gold. Nose: pretty light, light-Cuban style but with a little more fatness, even small whiffs of petrol, paraffin oil, lamp oil… Then vanilla, banana foam, and less sugary elements than I remembered. Which is good. Mouth: good salty arrival, some salted liquorice, some brine, gherkins, olives… Then indeed vanilla again. Don't get me wrong, it's neither a Jamaican (nor Renegade) but there seems to be some 'stuff' behind it. Do they use small muck pits? Finish: short, that's the weaker spot. Touches of salted liquorice. Comments: way above average, for sure.
SGP:452 - 80 points.

Montebello 5 yo (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, +/-2015)

Montebello 5 yo (42%, OB, Guadeloupe, agricole, +/-2015) Three stars and a half
Fresh cane juice in colonne créole, aged on location and so straight from distillerie Carrère in Petit-Bourg. Loved these old liveries, now Montebello's always felt a little 'strange' in my book, a little whacky, ambivalent... But remember I'm a simple whisky guy. Colour: straw. Nose: oh no, wait, it's very pretty, extremely salty, coastal, tar-like, very slightly vinegary (superb), with hints of yellow curry and plants and flowers in the background. Wood coriander, jasmine, tiaré… A rather splendid liquorice then emerges. Mouth: it's more unusual, oily, with a very pronounced sweet-salty and phenolic side. Some kind of boiled pineapple in liquorice juice and seawater, if that were possible. I hope not! Also, thing of ink and tar again, while the 42% ABV seems a bit light. Was there a 60% ABV version? Finish: medium, salty liquorice, slightly acidic. A sense of salted grapefruit juice in the aftertaste. Comments: I'm sure we'll come across a great Montebello sooner or later.
SGP:542 - 84 points.

C.A.D.C. SA 16 yo 2005/2021 (57.1%, Watt Rum, Venezuela)

C.A.D.C. SA 16 yo 2005/2021 (57.1%, Watt Rum, Venezuela) Three stars
That's the Corporacion Alcoholes Del Caraibos, a.k.a. CACSA, makers of Ron Canaveral. They have the DOC Ron de Venezuela. It's always interesting to taste these South American rums from independent bottlers; they often bear no resemblance to the overly sweet juices typically found in official bottles. Colour: amber gold. Nose: caramel, nougat, vanilla, bourbon. It really has a bourbon aspect, but water can change things. With water: even more nougat and vanilla, fudge, a bit of fresh cane and orange sponge cake. Mouth (neat): nice, strong, with candied orange, and a saline and very slightly oily side. But it burns your throat a little... With water: softer but still maintains its salty edge and even a bit of earthiness. Finish: not very long, it remains a light rum at its core. Comments: I think this is the most one can extract from these light rums that likely come from undoubtedly immense columns.
SGP:540 - 82 points.

Saint James 2001/2021 'Les Ephémères' (55.2%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 3,500 bottles)

Saint James 2001/2021 'Les Ephémères' (55.2%, OB, Martinique, agricole, 3,500 bottles) Five stars
Given the usual quality of these Saint James rums, it goes without saying that they are generally very, very 'ephemeral' indeed, if you catch my drift. Colour: copper amber. Nose: so typical! Cedar and rosewood, roasted peaches and almonds, peonies, liquorice, quince jelly... It's superb and especially very elegant. With water: incense, sandalwood, cigarette tobacco (Craven 'A')… Mouth: the wood is very pronounced here, with a lot of pine resin and strong liquorice, I imagine water will relax all this without spoiling it either. With water: yes, it works, we are still very strong (and modest). It's the damp earth that comes to the fore, mushrooms and citrus, medlars, softened cedar wood, also soft paprika… Finish: long, more on cloves, very dark chocolate and coffee beans. Still this very nice earthy side in the aftertaste, and even fresh morels (be careful, just a small bit, it can be toxic). Comments: that was a close call. A good pipette is mandatory.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Diamond 26 yo 1996/2023 (50.2%, Distilia, The Golden Age of Piracy, Guyana, cask #5, 156 bottles)

Diamond 26 yo 1996/2023 (50.2%, Distilia, The Golden Age of Piracy, Guyana, cask #5, 156 bottles) Four stars
Ever heard of that fine fellow, Captain Benjamin Hornigold? Colour: gold. Nose: This is a particularly soft Diamond on the nose, leaning more towards hay, chamomile, herbal teas, roasted chestnut, rooibos, white chocolate, and even fresh cane juice. Diesel and strong glue enthusiasts, move along! With water: little change, lots of sweetness, plenty of sugarcane... Mouth (neat): yes, a gentle Diamond, heavily on mandarin and cane juice. Just a tiny hint of brine way back on the palate. With water: it remains sweet, even though the Diamond DNA comes through a bit (liquorice, tar, brine, varnish, acetone). Finish: similar. Good length, nonetheless. Comments: a very intriguing Diamond and in that sense, probably a bit of a pirate, indeed.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Enmore Versailles 29 yo 1994/2023 (45.8%, The Colours of Rum, Guyana, cask #27, 157 bottles)

Enmore Versailles 29 yo 1994/2023 (45.8%, The Colours of Rum, Guyana, cask #27, 157 bottles) Five stars
This single wooden pot still (REV marque) has a dark copper colour. Nose: It's like very, very high-quality oolong tea, and that's it. I'm not kidding. Okay, there are a few tiny hints of liquorice, fresh paint, soy sauce, and walnut stain in the background. Mouth: but how delicious it is! Here we are on anchovies marinated in liquorice and wood varnish, or thereabouts. And then there's mint, myrtle, eucalyptus, a touch of ammonia, oysters... The freshness is exceptional, despite it being 29 years old. And that medicinal aspect, what a wonder, I'm sure it cures everything. Finish: long, very mentholated, with a return of the oolong tea and damp black earth. More pepper at the very end. Comments: tremendous but we need to wake up. Once it's gone, it's gone.
SGP:563 - 92 points.

Last Ward 16 yo 2007/2023 (60%, Velier, Barbados, bourbon)

Last Ward 16 yo 2007/2023 (60%, Velier, Barbados, bourbon) Five stars
This is triple-distilled pot still rum from Mount Gay, as I understand it (discontinued distillation). We've had a pretty phenolic Mount Gay the other day. This one from no less than thirteen barrels, aged in the tropics. Colour: copper. Nose: highly floral and honeyed, with great elegance, featuring notes of roasted pecan nuts and varnish, and even plywood (and we like it!). Then comes a greater abundance of tropical fruits, very ripe mangoes (beware), and bananas no less ripe... All this is really quite beautiful and spiritual; there are even notes of church candles. If that's not proof! With water: a lot of black tea. Mouth (neat): very powerful, very beautiful, but heavily marked by cedarwood, wood glue, sandalwood. I would go as far as to say it's not really drinkable at this strength. With water: ah yes, there we go, oranges, fresh mint, olive oil, and honey. That's a magical combination if the proportions are right, as they are here. Finish: very long, quite woody. Comments: tropical aging seems to have boosted the woodiness, as often happens, but the master blender has managed to achieve a rather balanced presentation. It's excellent if you don't mind a bit of wood.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Bielle 2015/2023 (53.8%, Salon du Rhum Belgique, Guadeloupe, cask #120, 252 bottles)

Bielle 2015/2023 (53.8%, Salon du Rhum Belgique, Guadeloupe, cask #120, 252 bottles) Four stars
Let's take the opportunity to slip in a young Bielle that we should have tasted rather a long time ago. Colour: gold. Nose: Bielle has a truly unique style, with a kind of spicy minerality, a mix between cumin and wet limestone tinged with basalt and candied sugar. With water: similar, but with darker honey and equally dark molasses. Mouth (neat): it's the cumin and bitter orange that take centre stage, followed by some metallic notes (copper) and grapefruit marmalade. A slight hint of slightly salty orange chutney. With water: orange, cumin, seawater, curry. Finish: quite long, spicy, saline, slightly mentholated. Comments: a Bielle with a bit of a candied aspect, perhaps a bit more mainstream than others. Very, very good, of course…
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Ring-ring, a last rum for this Sunday, please...

Long Pond 7 yo 2015/2023 (62.2%, The Whisky Jury, Jamaica, refill barrel, cask #1, 259 bottles)

Long Pond 7 yo 2015/2023 (62.2%, The Whisky Jury, Jamaica, refill barrel, cask #1, 259 bottles) Five stars
500-700 gr. esters/LPA here, that's pretty hefty. Remember nothing is linear in life… (what?) Colour: light gold. Nose: right, diesel oil, crushed barley/grist, cider vinegar (a drop), acetone (a drop), ammonia (a drop), plus several fruits about to rot, especially bananas. Just a perfect nose, with an impeccable 'mechanical freshness'. With water: indeed, an old engine just back from the factory, plus twelve big fat oysters. Mouth (neat): it is immensely good; the age does not matter. Remember, with any spirits, ages do no matter as long as you know them. What's always stinkingly nasty is to hide them when they're young, just to protect the price. This palate is wonderful, with salty lemons, varnishes, seawater, tar, liquorice, and if we must, 'engine oil'. With water: a little more towards lime juice and seawater. Finish: very long, on peppery and limey tar. Burns you a wee bit, even at +/-45% vol. Comments: very impressive young Long Pond, I'm not sure I knew they could be so good at such young age. But then again, it's the Whisky Jury.
SGP:562 - 90 points.

Hasta luego!

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

 

April 13, 2024


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland


Remembering
Stuart Thomson 


Angus  

 

Recently we learned of the passing of former Ardbeg distillery manager, Stuart Thomson. It's very likely, and perfectly understandable, that many of you who have become whisky enthusiasts in the last ten years or so, probably don't know about him. For anyone who was into whisky in the late 1990s to early 2000s, however, you almost certainly would have heard of Stuart through the immense popularity of Ardbeg at the time. 

 

 

It is hard to understate just how influential and important the work done at Ardbeg was after it was purchased by Glenmorangie in 1997. It aligned with a time when the cumulative efforts of independent bottlers, fledgling internet communities and cautious efforts by the larger companies all slowly began to tilt people's attention and interest towards single malts. This was a phenomenon that Ardbeg arguably began to lead; there wasn't really another distillery around the turn of the millennium with such a sense of cult about it. 

 

 

 

 

This can be attributed to a number of things. Its marketing was undeniably important: fun, cheeky, playful, not too serious - these were rare qualities that stood out in an era defined by stuffiness, uncertainty and a general lack of creativity or a sense of over caution about taking new directions. It also helped that Ardbeg was unquestionably one of the great malt whiskies, a true grand cru make that was relentlessly idiosyncratic and, when at its best, forced many people to upend and reconsider their perceptions of malt whisky. The warehouses were full of casks that possessed these qualities, and they were released at accessible prices into a very different, far more innocent market than today's. The effect and influence of the whiskies themselves was vast and continues to this day. But beyond anything else, it was a very special team of people that worked to make Ardbeg a success and Stuart, as the 'face' of the brand was unarguably at the forefront of that. 

 

 

Along with Jackie and many other distillery workers who are still there to this day like Emma and Dugga, he was responsible for introducing so many people to the joys of Ardbeg, of Islay and of malt whisky more generally.

 

 

Stuart Thompson
Olivier listening to Stuart carefully (WF Archive 2004)

  This was a team of people who brought a lot of joy to people and who contributed an immeasurable amount to what Ardbeg would later become. In my view the behemoth of a global brand that it is today, was built upon the firmest of foundations - without which it's present successes (excesses?) would not be possible. These were foundations laid by the work, character and dedication of these people.   

 

I went to work at Ardbeg as a summer job while I was a student in the year 2005, returning for a second summer in 2006. I had had travelled there in 2004 for a visit, camped at the distillery and been put to work waiting tables while I was there as it was high season and they needed help. This was typical of the kind of thing they did and could get away with in these days - it was very much the wild west. It was fast, sweaty work, hectic, exciting and extremely fun. It was on that trip that Stuart gave me my first taste of whisky straight from the cask in the warehouse: an Ardbeg 1975 fino sherry hogshead. It's hard to overstate the immense influence of an experience like that, at that age and for someone already emotionally invested in, and fascinated by, malt whisky. He filled half a highball glass with a valinch and I sat on the rocks overlooking the bay and sipped this liquid, the like of which I'd never experienced before. Jackie suggested I could return to work the following summer and I jumped at the chance.

 

 

With my bottling company, Decadent Drinks, we tend to make a big deal about 'fun'. Fun as a company value, fun as an ambition and objective - fun as important. Hearing about Stuart's passing has caused me to reflect a great deal this past week on just what an inspiration my time at Ardbeg was, just how much of what they strove for involved and was contingent upon, fun. The themed festival days, the tasting events, the food, the BBQs, the seemingly endless churn of visitors and tours, the general 'fuck it it'll work out, we've got good whisky' attitude that accompanied the messy blizzard of human effort and work and sweat that was thrown at keeping everything working and moving along. I increasingly understand now, viewed through the lens of retrospect, that what existed there, at that place and during that time, was unique and utterly special. 

 

 

Stuart Thompson
Stuart with Martine Nouet (WF Archive 2006)

  Parts of Ardbeg's magic still exist at the distillery, driven by Jackie and her team. Things a bit like it existed elsewhere too, perhaps most closely at Bruichladdich. But things have also changed, which is ok, things cannot persist in perpetuity. Much of what is different now stems from change of company ownership, but also the age we live in, which in whisky terms is defined far more by cynicism and hardness of attitude.  

 

We are cynical of marketing, of prices, of stories and of people, often with good reason, but that age of innocence created a space in which something like Ardbeg could exist. That slight sense of lawless fun, the giddy awareness of what you were getting away with and the fact it was hard to believe, even at the time, was quite remarkable. There wasn't, to my knowledge, anything quite like what was painstakingly and meticulously created at Ardbeg in existence at any other Scottish distilleries at the time, and I don't believe there's anything quite like it today.  At its best it made you understand and see with intense clarity why whisky was fun. It was a distillery which could explain the attraction of all other distilleries and whiskies with its fusion of the social with the reflective. A melting pot of friendships, fun and shared physical experiences of beautiful distillate. 

 

 

When I arrived at Ardbeg I didn't really know much about whisky at all, bits and pieces at best. I plunged head first into working as a tour guide and I blush a bit to think about all the error-strewn nonsense I probably fed unsuspecting tourists. It was very much time with Stuart that taught me specifics and details, we would sit in the office after hours and he'd answer all of the questions I enthusiastically threw at him. I don't think I ever learned so much about any subject in such a short, intense space of time as those two summers. Indeed, on the other side of that experience I had gathered so many people I am still friends with today (it's where I met Serge for example), tasted and experienced so many incredible whiskies, discovered and learned about old style whiskies and took away the seeds of a 'grow it yourself' career with whisky. Fundamental to all that was Stuart. At heart he was a genuine whisky geek - he had as much passion for Glen Moray distillery as he did for Ardbeg - and he had tremendous knowledge about production specifics and an understanding of whisky on a chemical level which I, and many of us, certainly lack. I owe Stuart a lot for what he taught me, the time he spent with me and the encouragement he very kindly gave me. 

 

 

Stuart, very sadly, had a bad relationship with alcohol, and it contributed in the end to him leaving Ardbeg. It was a painful time and a sad way to cut short a career in which he had contributed a great deal to the distillery's fortunes, its future, to its community and to the whisky itself. I won't include any notes with today's post, but I think it's worth reflecting on the character of Ardbeg distillate since 1997 and during the years that Stuart was manager. The fundamental make of Ardbeg, while undeniably different from the early 1990s era and the 1970s before that, remained brilliant in quality. To this day it's a whisky that, when I taste one of the more natural bottlings, un-obfuscated by silly wood, such as the 10 year old, or the recent 8 year old, I am often struck and left baffled that such brilliant, almost aggressively charismatic distillate still shines through. It is a whisky which does not make sense because this kind of relatively simple and modern production process should not yield this richness of personality and level of quality. There is much that is critical to say about how Ardbeg is sometimes bottled and the choices bound up in that, but the resurgent era over which Stuart presided is one of beauty and a legacy that anyone interested in the work of making great distillate should be proud of. 

 

 

It was also work done without flair or bullshit. I will never forget the immortal words of one of Ardbeg's distillers who told me: "All that 'art of the stillman' stuff is bullshit! I could teach you how to run these stills in 20 minutes!" There's a lot in that and a rather wonderfully confrontational truth that dispenses with so much of the 'state sanctioned' hyperbole that often flows from the mainstream industry. It demonstrates that whisky making isn't flash or showy and it isn't art. It's really about decision making, judgement and following a good recipe. Something which I think was understood fundamentally at Ardbeg during this time - and by Stuart. 

 

 

It was a distillery, and an era, that gives us the ultimate example of that truism which is so often co-opted by bullshit marketing double speak: whisky really is about the people. It's a cliché - but like many clichés it is descended from truth. Stuart was not a perfect person (which of us is?) but I remember his better qualities. That he was fun and humorous, he listened to you when you spoke and was interested to ask questions back. He went out of his way to be generous and kind to me, he taught me a great deal about whisky and was responsible for the kindling of real passion for whisky in many people, both in those who visited Ardbeg and those who he met on his work abroad. He was also an infectious music lover, playing his LPs gleefully at top volume, and when I think about him, it's hard to disentangle him from his love of David Bowie. I also recognised in him a dad who loved his two sons deeply. As a distillery manager he oversaw the production of exceptional whisky and he played a hugely important role in the team of people that helped make it possible for Ardbeg to become the force of nature it has become. 

 

 

As time passes, I believe the evident influence and importance of what Ardbeg did for malt whisky culture and enthusiasm in those years under Glenmorangie only becomes clearer and more defined. I am very glad to have been there and witnessed a small part of it, and to share in some of the memories of so many who had their own great experiences at, or because of, Ardbeg and its team.

 

 

It is very sad that Stuart has passed away too soon, but he was an important part, and contributed a great deal to, something that made a lot of people very happy - and continues to do so today, led by Jackie and many of the same amazing people that keep the best aspects of Ardbeg alive and beating.


From the short movie 'The Resurrection', 1998
 

 

 

 

April 12, 2024


Whiskyfun

Quickly, the newest LB and another Springbank

Because we don't want to lose our proverbial (they say) Springbank-fan-ness.

(Extract from the Eaglesome of Campbeltown price list, spring 1998. 'WB' means 'wooden box'. Who wants some Local Barley 1966? BTW to account for inflation alone, in 2024, prices from 1998 need to be multiplied by approximately 1.75 in Europe.)


Springbank

 

 

Springbank 24 yo 1996/2020 (49,1%, Sansibar, Koi Series, for Japan, sherry then madeira finish, 280 bottles)

Springbank 24 yo 1996/2020 (49,1%, Sansibar, Koi Series, for Japan, sherry then madeira finish, 280 bottles) Four stars
Hope it was not a fishy bottling (ooh, bravo S., you've outdone yourself once more!) Colour: red dark amber. Nose: lemon peel, verbena, menthol, wasabi, walnut wine, mustard, pinesap, sour wines of many kinds, tiny whiffs of cat croquettes (no worries, those are the good ones – say WF's mousers) and some kind of Longrowness in the background. A rather intriguing nose, to say the least.  Mouth: really rich, sweeter, much more honeyed, with a bit of 's' but nothing really unbearable, some eucalyptus, green walnuts, very sweet walnut liqueur, nocino, fir honey… Finish: rather long, pretty multi-dimensional, some moderate 's' being one of those dimensions. Gunpowder and umami sauce in the aftertaste. Comments: I believe it's a pretty crazy one, rather full of 'attractive flaws'.
SGP:662 - 87 points.

Springbank 13 yo 2010/2023 'Local Barley' (54.1%, OB, 8,400 bottles)

Springbank 13 yo 2010/2023 'Local Barley' (54.1%, OB, 8,400 bottles) Five stars
Forgot to try this baby earlier this year, it's more than time before they have the next batch, is it not. This was Belgravia barley from Glencraigs Farm malted on the distillery's floor, according to the back label. 60% Bourbon, 40% Sherry. Bottled dec. 2023. It's true that we love this series, there I said it. Colour: gold. Nose: indeed, a genuine member of our axis of wax (as we maintain it with Angus). Something hot ala Ben Nevis, some pure wax ala Clynelish, a coastal side ala Highland Park, and say a mustardy/meaty hint ala Benromach. Carbon paper, brake fluid, old paints, pine needles… With water: superb, orange peels, engine oils, church candles... Mouth (neat): so good. Lemon zests, verbena, gentian, paraffin, caraway oil… So good, so good… And once again some Longrowness. Did they not decide to vat everything together? With water: perfect waxes and mineral oils. Finish: long, a bit peppery, with citrus at the very end. Comments: I'll be accused of being a fanboy again, but it's true that the people are so friendly and so keen to keep their word that one just cannot resist them. Sublime Local Barley.
SGP:562 - 91 points.

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

 

April 11, 2024


Whiskyfun

New official Braeval and Braes,
head-to-head

We are very pleased to see that The Whisky Exchange – 'London' as they are called at WF Towers – now has at their disposal some quite rare old malts from the Scottish distilleries of Chivas Brothers - Pernod Ricard, which isn't too surprising, after all. Among them, two Braevals, or rather two Braes of Glenlivet, or one and the other, we may finally be able to understand who is who and why. I take this opportunity to recount this amusing story again, now that there should be a statute of limitations. You see, more than twenty years ago, when Pernod-Ricard had just absorbed Chivas Bros., the rumour went around that the new owners had immediately shut down the Allt-a-Bhainne and Braeval distilleries.

PR
(Getty)

As a result, and since I was the French guy in the group, my Malt Maniacs friends asked me to try and find out more, and I had contacted Pernod's PR department. No response. I pressed them, to finally receive this reply by email (emails already existed, young friends): "We really know nothing, are you really sure that these two distilleries belong to us?" You'll say that the same thing happened to me when LVMH bought Glenmorangie/Ardbeg. I had contacted them in Paris to inquire about Ardbeg and potential single casks for France. They had replied, "Oh no, Ardbeg, that's not us, it's Glenmorangie that we own!" Times change, as do customs…

 

 

Braeval 28 yo 1995/2024 'Lost in Time' (62.6%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, 1st fill American oak barrel, cask #79775, 132 bottles)

Braeval 28 yo 1995/2024 'Lost in Time' (62.6%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, 1st fill American oak barrel, cask #79775, 132 bottles) Four stars and a half
This is where you learn that the Distillery changed its name from Braes of Glenlivet to Braeval one year before this baby was distilled, so in 1994, probably to stop using their own 'Glenlivet' suffix, but not too sure about that part. In any case that's not a move by Pernod. Knowledge is power (in truth I should have been aware of that a long time ago already). Colour: gold. Nose: glad to have an unsherried one, and glad to find this rather extreme 'full on ale' profile, that I really enjoy. Having said that, at this strength, you just get what you can. With water: there you have it, malt whisky almost in its pure state, with ripe apple, pears, Californian IPA, hence quite some citrusy hops, and of course lots of barley, puffed or not, cereals... It's really ultra-natural. Mouth (neat): huge maltiness, even more on ale and other beers, plus just touches of American oak (coconut and vanilla) but once again, this is not exactly 'a drinking strength'. No chances taken... With water: much less coconut (phew), more on citrus, gooseberries, apples, greengages, quince... Finish: long, with a bit of white pepper from the cask and still apple and quince. Comments: it's truly like being in an orchard. This isn't a flamboyant malt, it's not very 'wow!', but it has remained wonderfully close to nature all these years.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Braes of Glenlivet 31 yo 1992/2024 'Lost in Time' (50.7%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, 1st fill American oak barrel, cask #111566, 60 bottles)

Braes of Glenlivet 31 yo 1992/2024 'Lost in Time' (50.7%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, 1st fill American oak barrel, cask #111566, 60 bottles) Five stars
Interesting that they wouldn't have selected one of those thickish sherry casks Braes was pretty famous for. Colour: pale gold. Nose: decidedly more complex than the 1995, certainly more approachable at this strength. There's a strong presence of oriental pastries, orange blossom water, brioches, panettones, honeyed water, gueuze, honeysuckle, acacia, very ripe plums, cake batter... It's very beautiful. With water: beeswax is added to the mix, as well as almond paste. Mouth (neat): excellent, very close to the nose, deeply on greengages and quince paste, with a hint of Meursault (indeed) and always these oriental pastries, but spicier on the palate. Truly excellent. With water: but it's so good! Still very much on cereals, yellow fruits, mild spices, a bit of honey, ripe apples, plums... The wood has remained very elegant, we are more within the refined, educated classes of malt whisky. Well we might adopt a Marxist approach to whisky one of these days. Finish: beautifully long, more honeyed, with a little lemon and a touch of dill. Not the slightest sign of any overly intrusive wood at this ripe age. Comments: quite a statement. For Whiskyfun, tasting such an excellent unsherried Braes, and an official release at that, is a very pretty milestone. And we knew it would happen one day...
SGP:651 - 91 points.

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

 

April 10, 2024


Whiskyfun

A small trio of
peated Glenturret

A preliminary question, is 'Ruadh Maor', which some also spell as 'Ruadh Mhor', truly the official name for the peated Glenturret? In any case, this name is used by independents, but we also have an official 'Glenturret Peat Smoked' on the table. We will inquire further, but in the meantime, you can read this fascinating article by the excellent Iain Russell about 'the oldest distillery in Scotland', with Glenturret being one of the proud claimants.

Gherkins

Glenturret 7 yo 'Peat Smoked' (44%, OB, 2022 release)

Glenturret 7 yo 'Peat Smoked' (44%, OB, 2022 release) Three stars and a half
Ex-American oak sherry-seasoned casks, plus refill. Hope there's a majority of refill to let the distillate better shine through. We've already tried an official 'Glenturret 'Peated Edition' at 43% vol. around ten years ago and thought it was rather pretty good (WF 81). Colour: gold. Nose: notes of melted butter at first, then some very neat saline peat with a little horseradish and mustard, as well as some marmalade. It's a fresh, almost refreshing smokiness that we're finding on the nose. Mouth: a little sweeter than expected and more on root vegetables, carrots, salty wine (that could be manzanilla, no?) and once again a little mustard. A little pickled ginger too, this should go well with sushi burritos. Right, sushi. Very nice, growing bitterness (amaro, artichoke). Finish: long and really salty. Wondering which molecules would trigger this much saltiness, given that chemically, 'there is not salt in whisky' (an old controversy among enthusiasts on the Internet – especially American and Canadian friends). Pickled onions and small citrus. Comments: less bright than the Islays for example, but that's certainly the fate of many a peated mainlander.
SGP:555 - 84 points.

Ruadh Maor 11 yo 2011 (57.1%, Hogshead Imports, 1st fill PX solera hogshead, 325 bottles, +/-2023)

Ruadh Maor 11 yo 2011 (57.1%, Hogshead Imports, 1st fill PX solera hogshead, 325 bottles, +/-2023) Four stars and a half
What's a PX solera hogshead? I suppose, but I'm not sure, that they've recoopered solera butts as hogsheads, even if the lengths of the staves do not quite match, do they? Not too sure, really… Colour: gold. Nose: much tighter, close to raw kirschwasser and just lemon juice, plus some nail polish remover and a drop of diesel oil. The thing is, this works a treat. With water: ashes, chalk and plaster! Mouth (neat): the most wonderful PX solera HHD we've ever stumbled upon. No fatness, all seawater, green peppercorns and lemon juice, plus a little green walnut. With water:  awesome tightness, more salti.. I mean salinity, cigar ashes, lime juice and perhaps a drop of high-ester Jamaican rum. Im-pec-ca-ble. Finish: more of the same for a rather long time. More green walnuts, though. Comments: you can't fault this one. Now, please tell us more about those solera hogsheads…
SGP:456 - 88 points.

Ruadh Maor 12 yo (56.4%, Dràm Mor, 1st fill bourbon, cask #9002123, 272 bottles, 2023)

Ruadh Maor 12 yo (56.4%, Dràm Mor, 1st fill bourbon, cask #9002123, 272 bottles, 2023) Four stars and a half
No wine involved this time, but TBH earlier peated 'turrets by Dràm Mor that had met wine casks had remained very good. Even white Port. Colour: straw. Nose: super close to the Hogshead Imports, just a tad tighter yet. Gooseberry and lime juices, cigar ashes, husk, cut grass. With water: once again, chalk, clay, charcoal, plasticine… Mouth (neat): cuts you in perfect halves. Gherkin brine and lime juice. With water: more sweetness (limoncello) from the bourbon cask, a little aniseed, turmeric, green peppercorn, and just spicy bread. Finish: really long, a notch medicinal now. Big pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: mucho impressive, surprisingly impressive.
SGP:466 - 88 points.

Those two indie peated Glenturrets were really something, kudos to both bottlers.

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

 

April 9, 2024


Whiskyfun

Three stages of Glen Grant down to 1958
(or Christmas in April)

Glen Grant remains one of the world's greatest Scottish malts (pff), and many of us believe that not so long ago, it was the number one in terms of quality. One only needs to try those little 5-year-olds from the 60s or 70s that used to cost next to nothing. In any case, today we're going to taste three styles that are probably quite distinct.

Mr George
George Urquhart - Mr George.
(Gordon & MacPhail)

 

 

Glen Grant 15 yo 2008/2023 (60.3%, Whikynavi, first fill oloroso hogshead, cask #716721, 150 bottles)

Glen Grant 15 yo 2008/2023 (60.3%, Whikynavi, first fill oloroso hogshead, cask #716721, 150 bottles) Four stars and a half
A small independent bottler from South Korea, incredibly close (you can't get closer) to the wonderful Kimchangsoo pocket-distillery. The very "Christmas" label proves, once again, that we're often way behind schedule. Imagine, we still have whiskies from the last Black Friday to taste. It's embarrassing. Colour: dark amber. Nose: pure oloroso, flint, truffles, very dark chocolate, 'maduro' cigars and walnut wine, beef broth, marrow, leeks... All of this works seamlessly, which is extremely classic. With water: this could be served as a sauce with dim sum, Korean BBQ, or even sushi. Superb notes of freshly roasted coffee. Mouth (neat): excellent salty sherry, liquorice, and indeed it's full of beef broth, teriyaki, black pepper, bitter chocolate... But at this strength, one must be very careful. With water: rounder but also more peppery. Dates, tar, very thick molasses, very old cream sherry (VORS), cloves, very strong coffee (ristretto)... Finish: very long, peppery, chocolatey, always with candied dates. Salted and burnt beef is back in the aftertaste. Comments: what an adventure! If this isn't a sherry monster, I don't know what is. We love this admirably quaint extreme side.
SGP:472 - 89 points.

Glen Grant 25 yo 1998/2023 (48.7%, Acla Selection, 10th Anniversary Series, refill sherry butt, cask #13223)

Glen Grant 25 yo 1998/2023 (48.7%, Acla Selection, 10th Anniversary Series, refill sherry butt, cask #13223) Four stars and a half
More old-schoolness with a wonderful stag on the label. Colour: white wine. Nose: It's also a sherry, but it's the exact opposite of the 15-year-old, with much more fruity freshness, chalky and herbaceous touches... It really reminds one of some old official releases or very pale versions from G&M's that were wonderfully mineral, even slightly metallic. Rhubarb, not quite ripe plums, apples and pears, with a bit of barley sugar to round it all off... Mouth: for a refill, it's really very 'refill'. Primarily apple, apple, and more apple, plus a bit of slate, fennel, pastis, beeswax, battelman and rock candy... All this is elegant, a little shy, discreet, and smart. Not to be overlooked. Finish: medium length, malty, with just as much apple. Comments: I had chosen it for a 'masterclass' (just a cool group tasting, that's all) that I led in Zurich, and I don't regret it. I hadn't yet published a note.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Glen Grant 1958/2023 'Mr George Legacy Fourth Edition' (56.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, first fill sherry butt, cask #3818, 376 bottles)

With a thought for Ian Urquhart...
Glen Grant 1958/2023 'Mr George Legacy Fourth Edition' (56.5%, Gordon & MacPhail, first fill sherry butt, cask #3818, 376 bottles) Five stars
No need for a Bentley, an Aston-Martin, or a McLaren here to underscore the class of such a bottle. The entire 'Mr George Urquhart Legacy' series is simply wonderful. I also find it fabulous that they do not hesitate to have them tasted; on the other hand, unlike some distilleries, they know that these whiskies are sublime – because they generally are. Let's see if this law holds true here... Colour: red amber. Nose: oh how I love these notes of spruce, thuja wood, green liquorice, mentholated tobacco, essential oils of thyme and rosemary, then sultanas, dried figs, chestnut honey, grilled chestnuts... This nose is simply splendid, believe me. And we haven't even added water yet.

With water: an incredible resinous side, without ever the slightest acrid touch as can be found in very old casks. Admirable. Mouth (neat): utterly superlative. The smoky and even terpenic notes are back, as are the sundried grapes, the dried figs we adore so much, the honeys, the waxes, the tobaccos, the dried fruits in general, the touches of incense and sandalwood... It's splendid. With water: but yes! To be honest, with very old whiskies, we tend to forgive certain small faults but here, there is strictly nothing to forgive, everything is just perfect. You just have to like liquorice, resinous sap, figs, oranges, and all kinds of roasted nuts, peanuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts... Finish: very long, always incredibly balanced. A hint of vegetal tar in the aftertaste. Comments: sixty-five years old, just that. Incredible, even if for a cognac or armagnac house, it's almost a baby (I'm exaggerating again).
SGP:572 – 95 points.

For a final treat, here's the update on the Glen Grants from 'Mr George' for now:
The 1953/2021, 94 points
The 1956/2019, 93 points
The 1957/2021, 92 points
The 1958/2023, 95 points
The 1959/2023, 93 points
(I'm counting five and not four, but I might be a bit off the mark or overenthusiastic…)

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

 

April 8, 2024


Whiskyfun

Some young whiskies from young
Scottish distilleries

Charlie

Charlie and his three sons presenting the new Ardnamurchan for their Maclean Foundation charity. Charlie is the one wearing a cap ;-).
(The Maclean Foundation)

 

As there is the new Ardnamurchan for the Maclean Foundation to sample before it's too late – the cause is worthy and perhaps it will already be sold out by the time we publish this – we shall take the opportunity to try two or three other relative newcomers, including a rare independent Ailsa Bay. I am convinced that we will come across a top Ailsa Bay sooner or later, perhaps even today...

 

 

Ardnamurchan 6 yo 2017/2024 (58.6%, OB for The Maclean Foundation, bourbon barrel, cask #80, 243 bottles)

Ardnamurchan 6 yo 2017/2024 (58.6%, OB for The Maclean Foundation, bourbon barrel, cask #80, 243 bottles) Five stars
Available through Royal Mile Whiskies, including through their website. Charles 'Charlie' Maclean and his three sons have started their family foundation to provide clean water to poor communities around the planet, in the very case of this first Ardnamurchan the aim is to fund projects in Madagascar. All you could say is 'bravo!' Colour: light gold. Nose: It's very taut, highly lemony, saline, very maritime, also with hints of Riesling grape stalks and touches of turmeric and fresh bread. In short, it's of absolute straightness, just like the trustees of the foundation! With water: little change, it's almost in the territory of the grandest "zero dosage" champagnes. Mouth (neat): a true blade. Cut grass, lemon juice, and sea water. I find it as taut as a bow, the water seems indispensable, even if a very slight roundness also makes an appearance (grapefruit liqueur). With water: superb coastal freshness, still plenty of lemon, ashes, Riesling, a bit of fresh coriander, and maybe some white asparagus, then fresh bread again. Finish: long and still tight, but without real aggressiveness. More ash than smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: I add that the price is very reasonable for such a noble cause and a whisky so pure and good.
SGP:463 - 90 points.

Dalrymple 10 yo 2013/2023 (59.3%, Tri Carragh, 330 bottles)

Dalrymple 10 yo 2013/2023 (59.3%, Tri Carragh, 330 bottles) Four stars and a half
There are quite a few of these Dalrymples around these days, all advertised as secret William Grant's Girvan-based malt whisky 'Ailsa Bay'. This one had been re-racked in a first fill oloroso hogshead in 2021. Tri Carragh is an independent line by young Edinburgh-based company Stravaig Spirits. Colour: or. Nose: It's quite good in the style of a very dry Madeira wine, with walnuts and mustard, tikka masala, cloves, crushed pepper, then some coffee beans and very nice notes of ripe pink gooseberries. We adore that; I find people don't eat enough gooseberries nowadays, it might make them more agreeable (if they're ripe). With water: little change, perhaps a few hints of metal polish on top of all those nuts. Mouth (neat): very good, this oloroso was perfect and converses ideally with a distillate which is generally quite austere and not very engaging in my opinion. The result is a kind of amaro or rather earthy, spicy bitter, always with plenty of green walnut. With water: same, it's perfect. Almost miraculous, in fact. The perfect antidote to first-fill bourbon. Finish: long, very balanced, with very nice green spices, the aforementioned nuts, and quite a bit of tobacco, liquorice, and black pepper. Comments: I believe this type of very dry oloroso represents the perfect cask for Ailsa Bay, judging by this whisky. If I may say so. It's nudging 90, at any rate, it trumps all the Ailsa Bays I've tasted before.
SGP:363 - 89 points.

Holyrood 'Arrival' (46.1%, OB, 8188 bottles, 2024)

Holyrood 'Arrival' (46.1%, OB, 8188 bottles, 2024) Three stars
I adore Holyrood and finally, here is the first Holyrood whisky following some marvellous new-makes made from a variety of barleys (oh, the 'Chevallier', oh the 'bub'!) What surprises me a bit is that beyond the classic sherry and bourbon casks, they've also used rum barrels. A curious idea for a 'seminal' bottling – in my mind, rum is more for potential variations and it really smacks of 'flavouring', even if rum casks are of course traditional in Scotland. Well, let's see this in the glass... Colour: full gold. Nose: I don't find it very precise, indeed. Dried grapes, figs, orange liqueur, a bit of pineapple, cane honey... It's quite pretty and gentle, certainly, but this 'trans-category' aspect is odd. No fresh bread, imagine that! Mouth: same impressions. It's a bit like an American malt, heavily influenced by the casks, cinnamon, grey pepper. Bitter coffee, dark chocolate, gingerbread, cloves... Finish: very long, spicy, quite woody. Very dark tea and orange peels in the aftertaste. Comments: there's something I don't quite grasp here, but I remain a very big fan of Holyrood.
SGP:562 - 80 points.

Lochlea 5 yo 2018/2023 (50%, OB, casks #20, 25, 249, 272, 295, 02,000 bottles)

Lochlea 5 yo 2018/2023 (50%, OB, casks #20, 25, 249, 272, 295, 02,000 bottles) Four stars
What a cask bill! 2 first-fill bourbon, 1 first-fill oloroso, 1 second-fill PX and 1 second-fill oloroso. It's somewhat unfortunate that a rather high initial price for this bottle seems to have somewhat dampened the original goodwill of the enthusiasts towards Lochlea, but sales appear to have been good. That said, the barley comes from the estate. Colour: gold. Nose: as with the Holyrood, there is the cheerful mix of casks which somewhat muddles the landscape, though here it seems to fare a bit better. There remains a rustic edge, mentholated, then more exotic, with bananas flambéed with… juniper. A ' slightly soapy' gin-like aspect that's ultimately not so unpleasant. With water: hazelnuts and honey-roasted peanuts. That's pretty unbeatable. Mouth (neat): not bad at all now. Smoky, spicy, heavily marked by the spices from the wood but still balanced. Cinnamon mints and orange marmalade. A very strong maple syrup note in the background. With water: indeed, it's to my taste, with none of that barrel-related mishmash. Pipe tobacco, Corinthian raisins, tobacco, and leather... Finish: long and rich. Pumpernickel and gingerbread, with a mustardy hint. Comments: it seems that this slightly mad Lochlea has managed to tame us after all.
SGP:562 - 85 points.

Torabhaig 5 yo 'Cnoc Na Moine' (46%, OB, The Legacy Series, Chapter No.3, 2024)

Torabhaig 5 yo 'Cnoc Na Moine' (46%, OB, The Legacy Series, Chapter No.3, 2024) Four stars
Well, we're all going to end up speaking Gaelic fluently with all these Scottish whiskies we're tasting. Bourbon, oloroso, PX. It's interesting that they've published the peat level in the barley post-malting (78.44ppm) and the residual level after distillation (19.7ppm phenols). The 2018/2023 'Batch Strength' was magnificent (WF 90), but it was 100% ex-bourbon; with the sherries, it might be different. More erratic, let's say, let's check that… Colour: straw. Nose: this impression of being in a working kiln, even if here, the smoke is less acrid than, say, at Laphroaig or Port Ellen (right, not a kiln). In fact, it's quite soft, rounded but not slack, rather medicinal (iodine tincture, mercurochrome) and then quite marked by a bit of wasabi. It remains a rather gentle Torabhaig on the nose, with some orange peel. Mouth: excellent, saline and root-like. Someone will end up peating gentian roots one day. On the palate, it's drier than expected, more lemony and peppery too, and especially, full of ashes. Then we find chalk and a bit of powdered ginger as well as a bit of tar. It remains fresh, the sherry has had less impact than we expected, and we're not complaining. Finish: fresh and smoky but more rounded nonetheless. Comments: absolutely excellent but the problem is the 2018/2023 'Batch Strength' that remains etched in our memory. No, it's very good, of course.
SGP:557 - 87 points.
 

April 7, 2024


Whiskyfun

Just a few more rums

Renegade Distillery, Grenada (Renegade Cane Rum)

 

And to start off with an aperitif, whilst giving a strong thought to Haiti...

Barbancourt 4 yo *** (40%, OB, Haiti, +/-2023)

Barbancourt 4 yo *** (40%, OB, Haiti, +/-2023) Two stars
Pure cane juice and ex-column. An earlier expression, ten years ago, had been a little light but we've heard good things about recent bottlings. With heartfelt thoughts for Haiti, I hope that all the distillers won't have too much trouble. I believe in the old days, Barbancourt used to be batch-distilled in pot stills, but I think that's no longer the case indeed. Colour: gold. Nose: it's light and a bit herbal, with slight metallic hints, leaves, bagasse, a touch of spicy vanilla... It is quite low on aromatics, overall. Palate: always very light, always a bit herbal, with a very small hint of coconut milk in the background. Finish: short and light. Liquorice and banana peel in the aftertaste. Comments: the older Barbancourts are of a much superior level. It's not bad at all, but I doubt this ultra-light expression is meant to be savoured neat. At least, it's not adulterated to death – in fact, it's not adulterated at all.
SGP:230 - 75 points.

Belizean Blue 'Signature Blend' (40%, OB, Belize, 2023)

Belizean Blue 'Signature Blend' (40%, OB, Belize, 2023) Two stars
This one is produced entirely by Travellers Liquors, so it is some Travellers. Molasses, ex-column. Colour: light gold. Nose: a style pretty much similar to that of the Barbancourt, that is to say, light, grassy, leafy, with minimal coconut and vanilla, although it would get more aromatic after five minutes, with a drop of banana liqueur and a pleasant cane-iness. Mouth: once again, similar, just with a little more cane juice, banana and coconut. But it is some very light rum, what's good is that just like the Barbancourt, it hasn't been made-up with whacky substances. In short, it feels authentic. Finish: medium, fruity and even a little liqueury, but not sugared-up. Banana, coconut, vanilla. Comments: agreeable light rum from Belize but naturally, most Travellers are in a whole different league.
SGP:430 - 76 points.

Renegade 'Hope - Swimming Pool' (55%, OB, for USA, Grenada, MicrOrigin, 2023)

Renegade 'Hope - Swimming Pool' (55%, OB, for USA, Grenada, MicrOrigin, 2023) Five stars
Pure cane juice (variety Lodger) from a single farm (Hope) and a single field called 'Swimming Pool', distilled in pot and retorts stills. Doesn't this one tick all the boxes? It's still young, around two years. Colour: full gold. Nose: total cane juice, diesel oil, rotting pineapple, black olives, then touches of mustard and horseradish. Awesome whiffs of Pattex glue, too. With water: some damp potting soil, banana skins, kelp, a touch of spruce sap… Mouth (neat): it reminds me of a blend of a Guadeloupean with a Jamaican, really. Has anyone ever done that? Let's say young Bielle and Hampden, 2/3 - 1/3, not too shabby, right? The olives are back, fresh sugarcane, a bit of tar, burnt fruits, clementines, very ripe strawberries... With water: it's the saltiness that emerges. Be careful, don't add too much water, it can break down these young rums. Finish: very long, leaning towards glue, olives, tar, sea water, lime juice... Comments: one might think it would also make a superb daiquiri but of course, it would be the ultimate scandal to waste such a juice like that.
SGP:563 - 90 points.

Foursquare 15 yo 2006/2022 (61.5%, The Colours of Rum, Barbados, cask #9, 244 bottles)

Foursquare 15 yo 2006/2022 (61.5%, The Colours of Rum, Barbados, cask #9, 244 bottles) Four stars and a half
Aged 14 years in the tropics, so I suppose this would qualify as 'tropical aging'. Colour: amber. Nose: it's very much on caramel and cane syrup, flambéed bananas, roasted peanuts, and, well, ethanol. That's normal for this strength. With water: these herbs, pressed sugarcane, dried pear, coconut, gorse... Mouth (neat): very fresh, strongly on blood oranges, clemencello (limoncello made with clementines), candied citron... With water: damp earth, one olive, liquorice wood. Finish: long, smooth, with more coconut, more on the 'column' side than the 'pot still' side. The joys of single blends... Comments: these magnificent citrus flavours in the mouth make one want to savour this baby without water, but that could become lethal.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Let's stay in Barbados…

Barbados 22 yo 2000/2023 'MG' (51.9%, Malt Grain & Cane, bourbon barrel, cask #43, 234 bottles)

Barbados 22 yo 2000/2023 'MG' (51.9%, Malt Grain & Cane, bourbon barrel, cask #43, 234 bottles) Four stars and a half
Six years in the tropics, the rest in Europe. The marque 'MG' may give it away, this should be Mount Gay. Colour: gold. Nose: great fun here, this is very different from anything else, with massive pears poached in sweet wine and caramel, melted butter, pecan pie… Cooked pears and liquid caramel, that's purely a sin. With water: just more of those stunning buttered pears, plus honey-roasted sliced almonds. Mouth (neat): more pears, fudge, nut brittle, salted caramel, salted liquorice… With water:  just more of the same, which is great news. Finish: rather long, a little more herbaceous. Comments: great surprise, we love surprises. I'm not sure I ever found this many stewed and poached pears in any rum.
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Rum J.M 7 yo 2015/2023 (55.2%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, Martinique, New Vibrations, cask #150305, 261 bottles)

Rum J.M 7 yo 2015/2023 (55.2%, OB, La Maison du Whisky, Martinique, New Vibrations, cask #150305, 261 bottles) Four stars
These J.Ms are usually superb, even if some recent bottlings have been a little heavy on oak for this little taster. Wood technology, you know. Let's see… Colour: red amber. Nose: sweet oak spices indeed, towards yellow chartreuse and, once again, stewed Williams pears and apricots. Southern Comfort (I know). Quite some liquid caramel, fudge, figs, touches of pinewood… With water: more wood spices, mulled white wine, Xmas spices (I know we're late – or early?) Mouth (neat): stewed, sweet, spicy. Cedarwood, cinnamon, orange zests (orangettes), woodruff liqueur, old genever… With water: touches of lavender and some curious notes of fresh mushrooms. Chocolate truffles. Finish: rather long, still pretty cask-driven, but it was great cask (or parcel). Comments: very contemporary J.M.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

HMPDN 2012/2023 'Pop' (59.1%, Swell de Spirits for Intercaves, Jamaica, second-fill bourbon cask, 310 bottles)

HMPDN 2012/2023 'Pop' (59.1%, Swell de Spirits for Intercaves, Jamaica, second-fill bourbon cask, 310 bottles) Four stars and a half
Intercaves is an excellent network of wine and spirit retailers here in France. This is a low-ester HMPDN – but is there any real low-ester HMPDN? Colour: pale gold. Nose: it is, indeed, pretty 'low-ester-count', which means that beyond the diesel oil, carbon dust and tiny olives, you'll find more flowers and soft fruits, plantains, perhaps even a little manioc. With water: carbon paper. Who remembers carbon paper? Some ink too, new magazine… Mouth (neat): firmer, tighter, more estery on the palate. Olives, varnish, rotting oranges, lemon zests, some tar, some liquorice… You could think it's a neighbour but indeed, it remains very Jamaican, and we're not talking Appleton. Right. With water: salt, olives, anchovies, tar. Nature will out. Finish: long zesty, salty. Anchovies in brine, olive oil and lemon juice. Comments: an admirable finish, with quite a sublime freshness. That's what we call 'moreish'.
SGP:562 - 89 points.

Uitvlugt 31 yo 1991/2023 'Time Travel' (59.25%, Jack Tar, Guyana, cask #32)

Uitvlugt 31 yo 1991/2023 'Time Travel' (59.25%, Jack Tar, Guyana, cask #32) Five stars
A new prestige rum offered by our Polish friends from Jack Tar. One wonders if this old Uitvlugt would pair well with Pierogi (I prefer them steamed rather than fried, it must be said). Colour: gold. Nose: incredible, light, almost ethereal, but without the slightest weakness. Sublime flowers (honeysuckle, acacia) and white peaches, plus little flat oysters and old paints and varnishes. This nose is of great beauty. With water: incredible salty and windy tension (yes). We are right in the middle of the ocean. Palate (neat): we are in the territory of the great Islay malts, especially Caol Ila of similar vintages. Absolute freshness, oils and unguents, oil paint, turpentine, candied lemon, shellfish, langoustines, samphire, seaweed... But it is beautiful! With water: everything converges and all molecules unite to become one. Only the greatest spirits achieve such 'oneness'. Finish: alas. Comments: have you ever felt like marrying a bottle of rum or whisky (or cognac or armagnac)?
SGP:463 - 93 points.

What could you taste and savour after that ultimate beauty? Perhaps this…

Enmore 31 yo 1990/2022 (58.4%, Rum Sponge, Guyana, 244 bottles)

AWAITING DILIGENT VERIFICATION
Enmore 31 yo 1990/2022 (58.4%, Rum Sponge, Guyana, 244 bottles)
Five stars
We had tasted a more recent Enmore 1990 by the 'sponge' last year, it was superb (53.6%, WF 91). Indeed, we're doing everything backwards… Colour: reddish amber. Nose: Cuban cigars, very black soil, liquid tar, liquorice, chen-pi, garden compost… That speaks volumes too. With water: incense and cedarwood, plus some dried fruits. Dates wrapped in ham. Mouth (neat): unbelievable earth and fermented fruits, tons of pipe tobacco, a huge amount of salty liquorice, black olives, kerosene (rather a kerosene feel, we agree)… It's superb. With water: absolute liquorice beauty. Finish: long, salty, sublime, powerful, incredible. Comments: the prices of these magnificent old rums remain indecently low when you think whisky. I think it's due to the internet; to social media, and to the plateauing or even decline in the IQ of the world's populations, now widely documented (yes, including ours, my dear friend).
SGP:563 - 93 points.

Shall we have one last little try?...

Guyanese Rum 29 yo 1991/2021 (58.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Guyana, 1st Fill Bourbon barrel, #R14.1, 'Papaya The Sailor', 172 bottles)

Guyanese Rum 29 yo 1991/2021 (58.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Guyana, 1st Fill Bourbon barrel, #R14.1, 'Papaya The Sailor', 172 bottles) Four stars
This is Uitvlugt again, so the wooden double-column still if I'm not mistaken. Colour: gold. Nose: but yes, it's very beautiful. This time we have parsley, sage, asparagus, liquorice, very ripe banana and oil... But no papaya for the moment. With water: polish and paraffin, as well as banana peel. Mouth (neat): immense, ultra-powerful, spicy, with fruit brandies of all kinds and grass juice. This brandy-like aspect makes it less convincing than its predecessors in this session. With water: salty touches but quite a light structure, a thousand miles away from the robust 1991 from Jack Tar. Finish: medium length, a little fruitier. Green tea and, indeed, perhaps a bit of papaya. Comments: a very pretty old Uitvlugt, perhaps a little light and fragile. One would perhaps need to know about its mark.
SGP:461 - 86 points.

We stop here, okay?

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

 

April 6, 2024


Whiskyfun

 

 

 

Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland


Various shades of Bruichladdich

As ever, very not sure about that title. Anyway, last week we did battle to deplete the Highland Park sample pile, this week it is the turn of Bruichladdich. And for this we'll include all the other associated peated variants and just taste the whole kitchen sink, as it were.
Angus  

 

We'll start old but young…

 

 

 

 

 

Bruichladdich 10 yo 1981/1991 (58.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #23.7)

Bruichladdich 10 yo 1981/1991 (58.6%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #23.7)
Colour: white wine - chardonnay. Nose: raw ingredients. Grist, wool, fabrics, pebbles, chalk etc. Although, there is also a rather nice green fruitiness that feels very typically Bruichladdich. A touch grassy with feelings of chlorophyll and crushed nettles. With water: on bracken, cereals, more stashed linens and chalky notes. Some sunflower oil and clay. Mouth: nicely cereal, rounded, with quite a bit of natural malty sweetness, some buttery toast, crushed oatcakes, sandalwood, pollens and light honeys. Impressive and very nice. With water: perhaps a little simpler now, on cooking oils, background waxy notes, mineral oil and tiny sooty notes. Finish: medium, green and peppery with a little sappy note and sandalwood. Comments: lovely distillate and a politely discreet cask.
SGP: 441 - 85 points.

 

 

Bruichladdich 18 yo 2004/2023 (61.8%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #1518, 1st fill Sauternes, 234 bottles)

Bruichladdich 18 yo 2004/2023 (61.8%, OB for The Whisky Exchange, cask #1518, 1st fill Sauternes, 234 bottles)
Colour: deep coppery gold. Nose: a distinct sense of stickiness! Lots of figs in syrup, golden sultanas, dates and wee impressions of sweet cocoa, praline and quince. Reminds me that I have a soft spot for Sauternes maturation! Although, there's a definite prickle that calls for water… With water: much more on the distillate side of things, lots of clays, waxes, putty, seashore impressions, squid ink and wee medicinal touches. Mouth: treacle on brown bread, but with this fatty, waxy and slightly medicinal hallmark of modern era Bruichladdich distillate. Quite a combination! Also juniper, strong, slightly tannic fruit teas, kumquat, bitter orange marmalade and some strong herbal cocktail bitters. Going back towards medicinal things after a while. With water: again this tilts more towards the distillate character now, some jasmine flower, sooty notes, smoked teas, camphor and beach pebbles. Also this underlying fatness and slight waxiness. It's also very umami now, with savoury bouillon and soy sauce vibes. Finish: good length, getting saltier, slightly gamey and earthy and still nicely umami and peppery. Comments: not entirely what you might expect. I find it quite fun how the Sauternes influence fades in favour of distillate character as you go along. That said, the net result is a pretty powerful and not totally easy dram.
SGP: 462 - 86 points.

 

 

Bruichladdich 30 yo (48.3%, Elixir Distiller's 'Director's Special', hogshead, 218 bottles)

Bruichladdich 30 yo (48.3%, Elixir Distiller's 'Director's Special', hogshead, 218 bottles)
Not too sure why they wouldn't state the vintage on these? Unless this is a combination of years? Colour: white wine. Nose: a fragile and pretty delicate old refill wood profile. Really on things like face cream, sandalwood, dried flowers, dusty pollens, toasted sunflower seeds and delicate notes of mineral oil and shoe polish. Attractive but with a very striking sense of fragility. Mouth: a slightly richer arrival, with peppery warmth, chamomile tea with bitter lemon, wee hints of aniseed, liquorice root, floral and herbal teas, a subtle streak of honey. I believe it gathers a bit of character and power, although there's a nagging sense it's probably a couple of years past its peak. Finish: medium and nicely on lemon cough drops, aniseed once again, white peppery and a drying aftertaste. Comments: very lovely at times, but in all honesty probably a tad light and a tad too old. If you enjoy this drier, slightly floral, old refill wood profile then it's a good sipping dram for you.
SGP: 441 - 85 points.

 

 

Bruichladdich 29 yo 1990/2020 (51.6%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Connoisseur's Choice', cask #2991, refill sherry hogshead, 173 bottles)

Bruichladdich 29 yo 1990/2020 (51.6%, Gordon & MacPhail 'Connoisseur's Choice', cask #2991, refill sherry hogshead, 173 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: a much richer and more emphatic profile, full of low lying waxes, crystallised fruits, honeys, some dried mango and lychee. Also plenty of pollens, dandelion and wild flowers. One of those rather gorgeous, mature profiles that you cannot imagine anyone being against. With water: a tad drier, more on crystallised honeys, some wee notes of yellow plum and mineral oil. Mouth: waxes, honeys and sandalwood. These very soft coastal notes come through which bring a lot of freshness to these lovely more mature qualities. With water: waxes along with crystallised fruits, an impression of aged mead and some camphor. Finish: medium and full of honeys, waxes and pollens again. Comments: Not much else to say except excellent, old Bruichladdich.
SGP: 561 - 89 points.

 

 

Ok, time to switch to peat. We will go on in what is - as I understand it - the 'officially sanctioned' PPM scale. That is to say: Port Charlotte < Lochindaal < Octomore. Although, to be honest, in my experience this scale has never really had much synchronicity with the manifestation of actual power in the whiskies and makes themselves.

 

 

Port Charlotte 9 yo 2012/2022 'SC:01' (55.2%, OB, bourbon and sherry with Sauternes finish)

Port Charlotte 9 yo 2012/2022 'SC:01' (55.2%, OB, bourbon and sherry with Sauternes finish)
Colour: gold. Nose: superbly coastal and fresh, really on sea breezes, lemon juice, medicinal things, rock pools, bandages, wet wool, mercurochrome and beach sand. In fact, parts remind me a little some early 80s Port Ellens with this terrific 'naturally grubby' profile, which this one seems to display more as the peaty side increases with time. With water: oysters, seawater, malt vinegar mixed with brine and also puffer smoke. Mouth: the arrive isn't quite as superb as the nose was, being a little flatter and muddier and more focussed on thick peaty notes, peppery vibes and things like soy sauce, kelp, iodine and camphor. Heavier and with a feeling of fatness and greasiness. All of which I enjoy, but it misses something of the brightness that was on the nose. With water: conversely, I now prefer the palate! Getting much broader, full of impressions of smoked olive oil, charred artichokes, umami seasonings like Maggi, smoked teas and kipper with lemon juice. Finish: very long, hugely tarry, medicinal, getting rather farmy as well with thick peat smoke, tarred rope and anchovy paste. Comments: quite a ride! And one that it worth tacking while armed with a pipette and some water. A very smart composition that never loses this terrific natural coastal power.
SGP: 367 - 87 points.

 

 

Port Charlotte 10 yo 2010/2021 (59.4%, Dramfool 'Jim McEwan Signature Collection 2.2', cask #1415, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 257 bottles)

Port Charlotte 10 yo 2010/2021 (59.4%, Dramfool 'Jim McEwan Signature Collection 2.2', cask #1415, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 257 bottles)
Colour: bright straw. Nose: also a rather coastal one, but the barrel lends the whole thing a creaminess and rich peaty note that quickly evolves to include pure tar extracts, TCP, bonfire smoke and Bonjella (medical mouth gel, in case you weren't a child growing up in the UK). This one looks more to Laphroaig than Port Ellen I would say. But a superb nose! With water: gets drier now, really on seawater, lemon juice, wee farmy notes and dried seaweed. Also some nori and even fish sauce! Mouth: big, uncomplicated, thick, tarry peat. Also seawater, lemon juice, old creel net, kelp and brine. Huge whisky! With water: camphor, pine wood, pure tar extracts, smoked olive oil and kippers once again. Still very peaty too. Finish: long, very tarry, very peaty and really quite salty and briny now. Getting pretty dry and peppery into the aftertaste. Comments: these Port Charlottes are more powerful than any Octomore I could recall. Love this profile but it's not a whisky you can do multiple drams of I would say.
SGP: 467 - 88 points.

 

 

Port Charlotte 13 yo 2007/2021 (60.9%, Dramfool 'Jim McEwan Signature Collection 1.2', cask #R08/152-12, 1st fill Pomerol Bordeaux wine cask, 299 bottles)

Port Charlotte 13 yo 2007/2021 (60.9%, Dramfool 'Jim McEwan Signature Collection 1.2', cask #R08/152-12, 1st fill Pomerol Bordeaux wine cask, 299 bottles)
Ex-Bordeaux + peat is always pretty terrifying. Also, is that a cask number or a droid character from The Mandalorian? Colour: bright reddish mahogany. Nose: if you were to tar a plum, you might achieve something like this. Lots of thick, sweetish smoke that recalls BBQ sauce and charcoal embers, alongside this richer, jammier side with some dark fruits. Also balsamic onions, malt vinegar and tar liqueur. I actually rather like this, but it's a tad discombobulating. With water: far 'straighter' now, on pure kiln smoke, tar, smouldering pine wood and a touch of pickling brine. Mouth: syrupy, very tarry, with plenty fruity liqueurs, sweet and salty black liquorice and then more bitter herbal notes like aged Fernet Branca, cola syrup, bitter menthol notes, shoe leather, menthol tobacco and pine wood resins. Also some rather disjoined tannins too. You might also identify things like rose syrup and Turkish delight. Mad whisky, but fun! With water: again there's a far greater sense of cohesion and directness to the profile now. More singularly dominated by thick, peppery peat smoke, tar extracts, smoked mint, eucalyptus resins, iodine and camphor. Finish: long, tarry, peaty, thick and with this wonderful resinous and umami quality in the aftertaste. Comments: this is really two whiskies in one. When neat it's more of a whacky winesky. With water it's a pretty superb and powerful dram that behaves more like a very good refill sherry maturation profile. Depending on your preferences you may choose to immediately involve or discard water. I have to say, I like this more than I was expecting, so I'll score the diluted version ;)
SGP: 577 - 87 points.

 

 

Lochindaal 12 yo 2009/2021 (61.3%, The Single Cask, cask #76, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 229 bottles)

Lochindaal 12 yo 2009/2021 (61.3%, The Single Cask, cask #76, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 229 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: heavily peated swimming pools! Seriously, almost a sense of seawater dosed with chlorine, but in a very good way. Hugely salty, coastal, full of seawater, brine, gherkins, charred whelks and sharp, pure peat smoke. Goes on with an almost herbal and menthol note, but still with bags of capers, anchovies and dirty martini brine. With water: getting more detailed now with green olives, soy sauce, pickled ginger, kiln smoke and kippers. Mouth: same feeling of pure coastal and peaty characteristics, but also a farmy note now, massively peaty, very briny, on smoked black olives, tar, petrol and anchovies. With water: still this lovely green note that feels like sea greens and wet seaweed! Anchovy paste again, tar, camphor, pickling brine and more cornichons and capers. Really hugely umami and drying in profile now. Finish: long, very salty, tarry and peaty, with gallons of seawater and kiln smoke. Comments: these are such massive whiskies. I suspect they will be great candidates to leave in a cool dark cupboard for 20+ years, during which time they'll probably gather complexity and turn into total gems. That being said, quality is already extremely high, love this balance of purity and power.
SGP: 368 - 90 points.

 

 

Lochindaal 13 yo 2009/2023 (62.3%, OB / Private Bottling, cask #99, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 229 bottles)

Lochindaal 13 yo 2009/2023 (62.3%, OB / Private Bottling, cask #99, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 229 bottles)
Special bottling by a group of crazy Croatian whisky pals. Colour: pale gold. Nose: a very pure combination of seawater and crisp, narrow peat smoke. Big impressions of petrol, brine, green olive and mercurochrome. Powerful and extremely pure and coastal. Recalls some earlier Port Charlotte vintages with this fatness of profile and overall very close to the Single Cask bottling. With water: crabsticks, some sootiness appearing and some farmyard characteristics coming through, the similarities to earlier Port Charlotte only become stronger. Palate: really excellent! Gherkins, seawater, pickling brine, anchovy paste and many bandages and medicinal tinctures. Again, extreme, petrol-esque power and hyper purity. With water: charred lemons, aniseed distillate, sheep wool oils and various notes of tar, crushed aspirin, seawater once again and olive tapenade. Has something ever so slightly of Caroni rum about it in some ways with these tar / olive / seawater / medicine combinations. Finish: long with a deeper smokiness now - kippers and kilns - plus more fat farmyard peat and smoked olive oil.  Comments: no holds barred and very close to the previous one really. It evolves excellently with water and really goes full 'early 2000s Port Charlotte' if given enough time. Same score.
SGP: 368 - 90 points.

 

 

Lochindaal 15 yo 2007/2023 (60.1%, Lady Of The Glen, cask #3371, 1st fill bourbon barrel, 237 bottles)
Colour: gold. Nose: another excellent one, but this time there is some more apparent maturity which seems to add complexity and depth to the profile. More mineral, more sooty, a deeper and more detailed peat aroma, salt cured fish, tarred rope, kerosine, smoked mint, iodine and pickling brine. Also green and black olives galore! With water: still very crisp and coastal, perhaps with a few more details like sandalwood and beach sand and rock pools here. Some dried seaweed and fish sauce. Mouth: excellent again! Another one that's on dazzlingly pure seawater, brine, anchovies, gherkins, capers and all shades of olive! Some kind of umami tapenade that might also include preserved lemons and smoked olive oil. I love this profile, it's just quite brutal and dominating after a while. With water: goes more emphatically towards mercurochrome, bandages, medical tinctures and antiseptic here, still very vividly on seawater and brine, and also with that underlying fat peaty profile. Finish: long, tarry, peppery, peaty and briny! Comments: same feelings and same comments as the previous two. These are huge and excellent whiskies that will probably be even better given time in glass. They're also probably a little underrated and overshadowed by Port Charlotte and Octomore, if I may say so.
SGP: 468 - 90 points.

 

 

Octomore 10 yo 2010/2021 5th Edition (56.3%, OB, 1st fill bourbon and Ribera del Duero wine, 3500 bottles)

Octomore 10 yo 2010/2021 5th Edition (56.3%, OB, 1st fill bourbon and Ribera del Duero wine, 3500 bottles)
Ribera del Duero, so, red Tempranillo most likely. Colour: deep gold. Nose: sharply on things like mineral salts, pink sea salt, iodine, lemon and grapefruit juice and various coastal things like dried seaweed, squid ink and rock pools. Quite a narrow, clean and pure profile that seems very focused on the seashore so far - which I'm all for! With water: some subtle wood smoke, crushed aspirin, sea urchin, squid ink and frying pancetta. Very umami and saline whisky. Mouth: as is so often the case with Octomore, I find this to be a very focussed and singular profile which is very dry, very salty and with a rather sharp, clean and narrow peatiness. Thankfully I don't detect much red wine influence, this is rather in the umami and salty sector of Bruichladdich's peated offerings. With water: a sort of silky textured smokiness emerges, salt and pepper fried squid, pickled tarragon, iodine, brine and various other pickled things like anchovies, capers, cockles, mussels etc. Finish: long, pure, briny, salty, crisply peaty and dryly smoky. Comments: I find this technically very good, but it doesn't impress in the same way that Port Charlotte and Lochindaal can with their deeper and more profound power. This gives the impression of being far more narrow, singular and something of an exercise in specificity of profile. I'm not against that at all, I suppose it's just a matter of taste. Perhaps these Octomores have a tendency to feel a little too 'technical', whereas the Port Charlottes and Lochindaals have more in the way of naturally evolved personalities (I know what I'm trying to say.) This is very good, nonetheless.
SGP: 367 - 88 points.

 

 

 

 

April 5, 2024


Whiskyfun